Friday, December 07, 2007

Celebrating 1,000 Deep Thoughts and Other Musings: It's Chickenblog's Favorite Things Giveaway!

Well, here it is, the 1,000th post.
The 1,000th time I turned my back on alphabetizing our CD's, or cleaning the oven.
The 1,000th time I felt sure my whirls of pisdom pearls of wisdom were worth publishing on the world wide web.
Gone are the the actual chickens that inspired the name of the blog.
True, some posts were absolutely pointless... btw if you have a dial-up modem don't bother with this link.
Other times I managed to capture a day or a moment and hold it a bit longer, appreciate the bliss of it, and then share it. Sharing stuff has been a major impetus for starting and maintaining Chickenblog.
By the way, I had to look-up impetus, which brings me to another point: Chickenblog has been a learning experience, a challenge, a means to learning new skills... whoa, has the blog come a long way! I still depend on Geoff for my technical support, but at least now I have learned how to post pictures, and make links, so that the sharing part is, hopefully, more interesting, engaging, and compelling, and fun, and good, and stuff.
Uh, sorry about that. I know, sometimes I say too much... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
But, saying something is the whole point of blogging and it's been cathartic expressing my points of view.

Are you still there? OKay. Good. This brings me to feedback. I love comments, and interaction and hearing from people who are browsing, reading and/or immersing themselves in Chickenblog. And it's no secret that I have begged and pleaded, bribed and groveled, all in the name of making a connection. It all goes back to sharing. I miss my family, and friends, and friends that are like family, so I have always seen Chickenblog as a tool for getting connected. Recently I have made many new connections with other bloggers, which has been a lot of fun. I have made friends and discovered that a lot of people like to sew, cook, read, garden, take photographs, give thanks, pout, mumble, blow-off steam, reflect, talk about their children, travel, and share. Thank you for leaving comments, for emailing me. Thank you for your support and points of view. Thank you for your gifts, and swaps, for linking to me, for playing along. Thank you for blogging too... you bust me up and inspire me, and teach me a thing or two.

When is she going to give something away?

Hey, I heard that!

I really wanted to make this contest/giveaway unique, original, special.
Guess how many blue lights are on our Christmas tree
A "caption this photo" contest
Defy the landlord, raise 3 chicks, teach the chickens to type and let them generate a random list of entrants, then let the chickens choose the winner
I'm thinking of a number between 1 and a 1,000
On the back of a $50 write your name and send it to....

So, I've been spending way too much time thinking about this and I've come up with something wholly uninspired and pedantic. There will be a drawing on Tuesday, December 11th for a Favorite Things Giveaway.

I love a lot of things, like my apple peeler-corer-slicer thing... it's so cool! Another favorite thing is my Messermeister swivel head peeler. Ooh, this kitchen gadget is awesome. A favorite thing of the whole family is Trader Joe's pumpkin cake mix. We add whole oats and grated organic carrots and make yummy muffins. Mmmmmm muffins. Favorites... hmmmm... I like Hawaiian cruises, rain drops on roses, whiskers on kittens, "Elf" on DVD, wild rice soup and crusty sourdough bread with a field greens salad and light dressing. Geoff says, he likes electronics, and the boys like Lego bricks. They really like Lego bricks. Maria likes her imaginary friend Jack... he lives behind the suitcase and prints money. Chango likes to drink milk from cereal bowls, but I don't think we can make a prize of that. I may have to pare down the list a bit...

OKay. We all have favorite things, like winning stuff. So, if you like winning stuff, then leave a comment before Tuesday, December 11th and include your favorite Chickenblog post or topic, for a chance to win a few of our favorite things (one entry per person.) In the meantime I will be shopping around and collecting prizes. The most comments ever on Chickenblog is 14, and I think that included 2 or 3 from me... if we break that record I will draw 2 winning names from the "hat". More comments= more favorites!

Saturday Morning Post Update
More influence than O. Winfrey! More creative than M. Stewart! She's Doll Quilt Crazy! She's a Shining Princess! She is Calamity Kim of the Craft Cottage, and not for the first time, is she making me blush, with her kind and praiseful commandment... sending readers and record breaking traffic out here to my little Chicken Coop. Thank you Kim. You really, really share the Love. Thank you x 1,000!

And Wow! Hello new readers, and long time friends. I hope you are healthy and happy and giddy with holiday anticipation... I gotta go bake some cookies right now, then sew a few more goodies, maybe feed the children. I am glad you came by... thank you!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine

We've been very busy, here at Garage Mahal. The children are studying, and immersing themselves in seasonal magic... singing carols, tracking down favorite ornaments and decorations, faithfully counting the days 'til Christmas one chocolate at a time. Max and Alex are mostly healthy, though Alex seems to suffer while in the new classrooms at school (it's very fume-ish in the new building.) William cleverly skipped all the colds and coughs.. smart boy.

Today Maria had her well visit at the doctor's. She is well, and small. People insist she looks big for her age, but her height and weight are well below average. Hearing is good. Vision is good. And she has plenty of sweet skills. Good. Good. Good.

Geoff is immersed too... in work, so we see less of him. He and I share funny 3 a.m. exchanges, where I tell him what the kids were up to and he asks me to remind him to do this or to please check such and such. I don't know how much of these conversations we actually retain.

Me? I'm juggling. Domestic goddess. Queen of the Winter Wonderland. Tutor, plumber, medic, chauffeur, cook and baker, dishwasher, manager, voice of wisdom... it never ends. I improvise and fake it. I relish the successes, and I deflate just a bit every time I realize I've left the house without brushing my hair, again. Two steps forward. Five steps backward. Covering old ground, making new tracks. 'Tis the season to feel pulled in every direction.

Do you know what's been fun? Sewing.

Stitching, snipping, cutting and playing. I've been making little things, like this super gratifying soft tree, which looks oh so cute in seasonal colors and prints. Quick and easy is my theme, because time is precious, and my machine is less than reliable on larger projects. So, I've made scarves, and a sleep mask, and I even finished some WIPs that were years in the making, like the cubes I started a year and a half ago.

I also finished Max's quilt... the one he designed. I couldn't resist hand quilting it and also adding appliqued frogs, so of course it took a bit longer to finish than I had hoped. Oh, but it was so worthwhile... Max loves it and sleeps entwined in it every night.

Do you know what else has been fun? Packages, surprises and bloggy generosity. Amazing. Really, really amazing. Tami, of "Lemon Tree Tales", is a doll maker and an illustrator. In September she introduced a new fairy to "101 Fairy Lane" and she invited readers to name her.

Just for participating in the fun she sent me an ATC -Artist Trading Card- of Valerienne Rose. Both "Lemon Tree Tales" and "101 Fairy Lane" are full of examples of Tami's talents in illustration, story telling, and sewing, and it's an honor to receive a sample of her beautiful work. Thank you Tami.

And there's more! I've been hanging around and soaking up the fun at "Spring Bean Things" Missy is a mom, and she sews and she's funny and she blogs and she's a mom... what can I say? We can relate. Us bloggers love our milestones, so Missy was happy to share her happiness about reaching 50 posts by having a prize drawing. Prizes? Free handmade items from a talented woman? Yes! Sign me up! If you haven't figured out that bloggers are kind, talented and generous, then you are missing out. I was very lucky to have my name drawn from the hat, by her very cute 3 year old daughter. And today, I got to open a very big package from the talented Missy. An apron! Love it! Maria is wild about the pockets and can't stop commenting about them. A kitty cat tissue holder! Very handy, especially lately. And a dress, a very extra special addition she slipped in for Maria. Does Maria's expression say enough? She L.O.V.E.S. this dress. Loves it. And honestly, she got compliments for her dress all day. It was so sweet how many people commented on her "cute dress," her "pretty dress" and even, "Oh, did you get your Christmas picture taken today in your pretty dress?" Thank you Missy.

What did I write about for my 50th post? Let's see August 23rd, 2002... oh dear... nothing too dignified. I was doing battle with my arch nemesis the Clogged Toilet. Pardon me. Hey, you can count on me to keep it real, right? Well, now I am about to celebrate my 1,000 post, and when I do I hope you will come by and take a chance at winning something good. I've been thinking about some of my favorite things in the kitchen... and other things I love and want to share with a lucky someone.

Monday, December 03, 2007

It Really Is Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.

We probably arrived at the tree lot at the busiest possible time, which is rare for us, but it only took 30 seconds. First: Fluffy or Noble? This year we voted fluffy. Max picked up one 6 footer and we agreed it was too narrow. We grabbed the one next to it and ta-da we had our tree.

I guess this isn't the most riveting news. It's happening everywhere, just about. Families going to tree lots. People driving around with plastic netted evergreens tied to their rooftops, like hunters returning from a woodland safari. Suburban, mundane... whatever. When that first whiff of pine hits my senses I am a child again. I feel tingly and optimistic. I feel connected to every Christmas past and holiday gathering ever. I want to open ornament boxes and reunite myself with dear memories and the tangible evidence our lives, our evolving, growing lives. And I can already anticipate the warm and quiet pleasure of waking early, plugging in the lights and reflecting in the soft, flickering glow.

There is one deciduous tree here at Garage Mahal, and it dropped a lot of leaves during our recent rain. Alex asked if he could rake them. Isn't that sweet? The landlord has gardeners come in to do all the mowing/blowing/cutting/raking of the postage stamp yard. Gardening and yardwork has become so foreign, so distant a memory, that raking leaves is like an honor and privilege. William and Alex bartered and debated over who could use the rake first. Our good leaf rake disappeared in one of the moves, so they are stuck wrestling for use of the heavy gravel rake.

So, inside, the tree is hung with blue lights. Yes, blue. It's covered in homemade ornaments and store bought ornaments and ornaments that the cat keeps batting to the floor. And outside the yard is raked, the sky's been blue and the nights cold. I may even find the ambition to hang a string of lights around the front gate. I found some of the decorations we put around the house, like the caroling snowmen and a stuffed Santa... the rest is still packed, and hiding somewhere in the garage. The Nativity. The little toys we use to count for Advent. The multi-colored strings of light.

We even made salt dough, and Max and Maria cut ornaments. We'll paint the ornaments some time this week. I think we'll work on greeting cards too. Among my family and friends, I am not always sure who's reading, but if you are peeking at Chickenblog today... know that I am thinking of you and hoping you are healthy, safe, and enjoying the tangible and intangible signs of the season... the whiffs of pine and the feeling that we are connected to one another, dear and loved. I have happy holiday, and merry wishes for all. And now I am going to plug in those lights and be glad.