Where have you been, Leslie?

I’ve been focusing on my truck driving business paperwork during December.  The end of 2013 is just days away.  I had to make a choice.  Get in some crafting time, catch up on my blog reading and commenting, or get my paperwork finished and over before 2014 begins.  I chose to complete the task that is the most dreaded by me.  The paperwork necessary for tax time.  The worst of it is over.  I have a day or two remaining of sorting out the days we were home this year versus the days out away from home in our truck driving business.

I am only popping in here, briefly, to allay any fears of my going into another state of depression.  Last winter was a really bad one for me.  Knowing that I will be leaving  home again for long periods of time and not be able to do anything in the way of crafting has been the hardest to deal with.  For those of you that don’t have the advantage of traveling cross country and long to be able to just get away and see what is over the next hill believe that being a truck driver is the best job in the world to  have.  Honestly, it does have moments of breathtaking beauty.  Mostly it is monotonous and bone wearying.

Stress, in major high doses, doesn’t help either.  Both in the truck driving and the tax preparation involved.  The holidays don’t help either.  Preparation for Thanksgiving, followed closely by Christmas, and then the New Year makes this woman one cranky person.  The cranky quotient  amps up to mental and emotional shut down as the pressure mounts.  Along with that the added stress of knowing this cycle will resume shortly after the first of the year.  No time is allowed for creativity nor pure joy in a normal life.

I have fully retired from the truck driving life and a new one begins in 2014.  It is time to get my old life sorted and boxed up.  Clear the path of obstacles and prepare for the new life that awaits me.  A life filled with creativity, sharing, teaching, and just doing the things that I truly love to do.

Last Saturday, December 21st, we were to leave for Colorado and have Christmas with some of our kids.  The evening of the 20th drizzling rain began to fall in Oklahoma, followed by plummeting temperatures.  Saturday morning arrived to a frozen world outside my door.  We had a rental car ready to be picked up, the question was….would we be able to get the car?  Frozen streets, businesses closed, no one answering phones at the rental agency to see if we could even get the car.  Just before noon we were able to get out of the house and make the careful trek to the car lot.

This is the world that greeted us that Saturday morning.  The grass in our yard was frozen in capsules of ice.

Grass encaplsulated in ice

Grass encapsulated in ice

Icicles in frozen streams from the hood of my car to the tires.

Icicles freezing my tires

Icicles freezing my tires

A 1/2 inch thick sheet of ice covering the hood of my car.  Checking the oil of my car would have been impossible.

Hood of my car frozen solid

Hood of my car frozen solid

A close up view of the ice sheet joined at the hood edge and top of the headlights.

Headlight obscured by the ice

Headlight obscured by the ice

The tree outside my house laden with ice.

Our frozen tree

Our frozen tree

Our tree was not the only one frozen.  A Christmas Tree lot located near the rental car agency is a sadly beautiful sight.  Once these trees thaw they will be a total loss financially for the seller of Christmas magic.

Frozen Christmas Tree top

Frozen Christmas Tree top

Frozen Christmas Trees

Frozen Christmas Trees

The local news channels were begging people to stay home and off the roads on Saturday.  The route we would be traveling to Colorado was very slick and hazardous.  Sunday would dawn warmer and would make traveling easier so we waited it out.  Once we left Sunday mid morning the only area of concern was in Kansas.  Salina, Kansas is near the I-70 route we would be taking west.  Salina received five inches of snow overnight which made traveling difficult.  We had to get off the highway for gas and encountered a side road that had not been cleared.  We got stuck in the snow.  A band of hearty souls came to the aid of many motorists, including us, to free us from the grip of ice and snow.

Good  Samaritans to our aid

Good Samaritans to our aid

We arrived, safely, in Colorado.  Christmas morning dawned bright and cold.  Joe began his ritual of cooking the feast in an unfamiliar kitchen.  At our daughter’s house he and I had plenty of room to work around each other as he went about the task of making his stuffing.

Preparing Christmas dinner

Preparing Christmas dinner

A “Christmas Toast” was held in front of the Christmas Tree by father and daughter.  The toast officiated by Bogie the Boxer.

Christmas Toast

Christmas Toast

A delight to this grandmother.  Watching her grandson’s captivated gaze at the Christmas Village display at his Aunt Loreli’s home.

 

A child exploring a tableau

A child exploring a tableau

Christmas is magical with children.  A child’s first bike, a little imagination, and a squirt gun to defeat the enemies of his world.  Oh, and it is also important to be singing “Jingle Bells” as he pedals his bike while fighting foes.

 

A new bike for Christmas

A new bike for Christmas

We are back home now, in Oklahoma.  I will do another vanishing act for a little while to finish my paperwork in preparation for the New Year.  I had purchased a supply of corrugated cardboard sheets from my local box seller.  I didn’t buy all of this cardboard, this was taken in the store.  I have projects planned and will be in full creative mode.

 

Cardboard sheets

Cardboard sheets

Watch for storage posts and/or videos that will be created out of this cardboard.  There will also be tags, greeting cards, scrapbook layouts, and some mini albums created in 2014.  Full steam ahead!

Leslie

Large gift tags for the stationery box.

One more piece of this project is completed.

Large gift tags for stationery box

I have used some tags I had purchased quite some time ago from Michaels.  They are Recollections brand and measure 2-5/8″ x 5-1/4″.

Recollections brand tags

I’ve had to cut them down to 4-1/4″ to fit in the little area of the stationery box.

Trimmed the tag down to 4-1/4"

And rounded the cut corners so they look just like the original tags.

Rounding off the cut corners

I have attempted to keep these tags coordinated with the cards.  I have continued using the Tim Holtz stamps used on the cards themselves.  I could only fit 7 tags in the space allotted in the box.  Probably could have gotten more in if I had not made them so thick.

I’ve used the Christmas tokens from Tim Holtz.  These I purchased a couple years back intending to use them but just never did.  Each tag has a coin and the ribbons are the same on each tag.  The ribbon was purchased last year from Michaels.

Merry Christmas tag:

Merry Christmas tag

Noel tag:

Noel tag

Believe tag:

Believe tag

Santa Claus tag:

Santa Claus tag

Snowflake tag – I used an old Stampin’ Up! set and some left over flourish bling pieces.

Snowflake tag

Christmas Carol tag:

Christmas Carol tag

Christmas Tree tag:

Christmas Tree tag

I’ve covered the back of each tag with some Christmas print paper from K&Company I bought last year.  The backs of the tags were all messed up from the Distress Stains and any other kinds of ink I used on the front.

Back of tag covered with print paper

Two parts remain to this project.  3″ x 3″ note cards to go in the last little are of the stationery box, and to decorate the lid.  This is one large project, a bit more than I first conceived it to be.  Isn’t that how it normally goes.  Seems quite simple in my head when I came up with the idea.  I do like how this is turning out.

Joe is in the kitchen, has been all day, preparing for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.  He is taking things slowly and in spurts so he doesn’t over tire himself.  The stuffing and turkey will be made tomorrow and we will have our neighbors over for our annual feast.  Plus we are going to be gathered around the table playing a card game after we have eaten.  With all of Joe’s doctor appointments scheduled last week and for the next two weeks there is no time to head to any of  our kids for the holiday and be with them.  The next best thing is to have friends at our table to enjoy the day.

What am I thankful for?

Family and friends.  To all of you in the US, my wish for you is to have a Thanksgiving that is free of rancor, and squabbles.  A day filled with laughter and love.  A day surrounded by family, friends, and love ones.  A day that you feel welcome and everyone is glad you came to share the Holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Leslie

A Magical Santa Key

This report is coming to you from Oklahoma City.

As you know, this is the beginning of the Holiday season with Thanksgiving only days away.  Christmas will be a few short weeks later.

In my neighborhood there is a growing concern around Santa visiting homes this year.  Children on the streets have been seen gathering in little clusters.  The looks on their faces is one of concern, and could be interpreted as near fright.  My curiosity has gotten the better of me and I felt it necessary to see what the trouble is.

As I draw nearer to a small group of four children, who attend a local elementary school, I can hear part of the discussion.  It seems of the four only one child has a fireplace with a chimney.  The other three live in apartment buildings or mobile homes which do not have the requisite fireplace and chimney for Santa’s expected arrival.

One child is in tears as I approach the group.  When I ask if they need assistance the little girl who has been crying suddenly bolts from the group and runs away sobbing.  The three remaining children have their heads hung low and are moving towards one another in a group effort to support each other.

After a few moments of coaxing I finally draw out from a young boy what the problem is.  With the housing troubles the children’s families have had to move into homes with no chimneys.  No chimneys means no Santa visits this year.

All but one of the children will not be visited by Santa this year, it seems.  One boy had chosen to be the spokesperson for the group.  He has offered his home for the families to gather on Christmas Eve.  He knows that Santa knows where each child is when the toy deliveries are made and his home has a good fireplace and chimney for Santa to come.  He is sure it will be alright with  his parents if they all come and stay the night with him.

Three sets of eyes peered up at me for an answer to this problem.  Sadly, I had no fit answer to give them.  My heart went out to them as they all turned away and headed home with their heavy hearts.

What can I do?  How can I help?  What is the answer to this problem?

Just as the last child turned the corner and was out of view my cell phone rang.  It was Santa.  He had the answer to this problem.

It seems all that is needed is a very special key that will be hung from the door knob of the homes with no chimney.  This Magical Key will have to be long and shaped like the keys from long ago and only Santa can open the door of the home where it is hung.  Santa will be able to use that key to gain entry to the home, leave his presents, and just before he leaves the home….after eating a cookie of course…..he will leave the key hanging on the Christmas tree.

I have been asked, by Santa, to create the Magic Key.  When I asked for instruction on how to do this he only said “You will know what to do”.  Stumped, I returned home to find Joe and ask him what he thought I should do.

Joe and I went looking for very special keys.  We searched many stores before we finally found the right ones.  At least the type that fit Santa’s description of being “long and old”.

Skeleton key

Skeleton key

After we procured the proper keys I went into my studio and began the work of creating a very special key to be hung from the door knob, as Santa had mentioned.  Once Santa used the key to get in the home, he would then hang the key on the Christmas tree so the family would know he had been there.  This  means the key will need something to keep it around the door knob and be in plain sight for Santa when he comes to the child’s door.

Santa key

Santa key

The key tag is strung with a good strong corded ribbon to stay on the door knob just in case there are strong winds blowing on Christmas Eve.

Corded ribbon to hang from the door.

Corded ribbon to hang from the door.

Since I have never seen Santa in person and don’t know what he looks like I have had to rely on Tim Holtz for that.  I’ve used a Stampers Anonymous set titled Christmas Collection for the image of Santa.

I have flocked Santa’s coat and hat using the red and white flock from Doodle Bug Design.

Doodle Bug Design flock

Doodle Bug Design flock

Raised texture using the flock

Raised texture using the flock

To attach the key I’ve used Tim Holtz ball chain with clasp.  I’ve cut a length of the ball chain to allow the key to hang from the tag.  Decorative ribbons have been attached to the top of the key.

Ball chain and clasp

Ball chain and clasp

The Santa Key comes with a coordinating tag that can be used as a tree decoration also or as a gift tag.

Santa key and coordinating tag

Santa key and coordinating tag

The tag and key fob are signed by me on the back.

Signed by me

Signed by me

Key tag signed by me

Key tag signed by me

Now I need to get back into my room and create more of these Santa keys.  Keep watching this blog.  I will have a link to my Etsy store soon for you to purchase my handmade Santa Key and coordinating Tag.