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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Year in Pictures

Hello friends,

The year 2014 was the first year I did not post my annual goals on line. I wanted to try something different.

I did have goals for the year but only posted theme or guiding words for the year.  My words were "simplify" and "streamline".  I tried to apply these words to all aspects of my life. I think I was fairly successful in most but not all areas.

I focussed in on getting rid of stuff in my home (papers, clothes, excess craft & kitchen items), taking stock of the budget (which I do every year) and organizing myself a little better financially and clothing-wise, nurturing a few key relationships, working on my health and my spiritual life. I managed to find a new and wonderful church family. My health is one area where I had a lot more downs than I wanted but all in all there were a few baby steps forward. I'm grateful for that. This year I did a lot more reading than I intended to. Reading took up the space that crafting might ordinarily take but I managed to make one baby quilt and finish two other quilts this year as well as almost finish my crocheted afghan. Most of my travel plans for the year did not come to fruition. At the end of the day I just didn't feel up to travelling this year and though I did make a few travel plans I wasn't too disappointed when they didn't come to pass.

Kenyan Missions continues to be important to me though I focussed on a few key areas (helping Elvis finish university, medical needs for one family, funeral costs to help a family hard hit by the terrorism at Mpeketoni, Kenya and Christmas outreach). I hope to continue with the missions in 2015.

All in all, I am grateful for the year 2014 and what it did allow me to do. I want to thank each of you who took time out of your lives and schedules to visit my blog and write to me. It is much appreciated!

I'm looking forward to 2015 and want to wish each of my readers a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

Now here are some pictures of the year gone by.


Theme words for 2014

 

and

 

 JANUARY

 


FEBRUARY


Beautiful Ghanian basket filled with yarn and ready for crafting


Frugal hair (home henna treatments)

MARCH




APRIL
 

 MAY




Work-in-progress, the African Hexagon Blanket

JUNE

Missions to the Pokot, Kenya
Wonderful addition to the family
Tragedy in Mpeketoni, Kenya




JULY






AUGUST

Elvis in Kenya finishes his medical studies (graduation in December).





SEPTEMBER


Woven tea towels, gift from a blogging friend
>
Missions to the Pokot Tribe, Kenya

OCTOBER 



 


NOVEMBER

Christmas Missions in Kenya


{Above photo is from Christmas 2013. 
Still hoping to have Kenyan photos for 2014 and will post them when received}


DECEMBER

 

 

Read 56 books in 2014.






Wishing you and your loved ones a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!
All the best in 2015.

Joining in with Our World Tuesday for the last time in 2014!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Another Christmas Gone By

Hello friends,

Another year has come and gone and another Christmas Day celebrated.


I was out of town for a few days to visit with my mom and some family members and we had a great time. My brother and I spent the first night together relaxing over food and drink and talking about former career experiences and life's lessons with my nephew. My nephew was blown away by everything he was hearing. He kept saying "how come I never knew about this?"

It was too funny.

It just goes to show that while you are living your life and working, there are many things even your closest family members don't know about you for one reason or another. Now that my nephew is soon to graduate and move on to do his master's degree, he is old enough and far more interested in hearing (and learning) about the experiences of his older relatives.

All of us had a few nights to relax, eat, visit with my mom, visit with my niece and do a few tasks and things to tidy my mom's room and get her things organized.

Nothing was too stressful, I almost got enough sleep, and I was able to make a wonderful Christmas dinner that all (even I) enjoyed. I put myself in brackets because it is often the case that the cook doesn't enjoy the meal as much as his/her guests, though am not quite sure why. My mother always used to say that to me and I never understood it until I started doing a lot more cooking for others.

This year the turkey was purchased pre-cooked and it was delicious!  I purchased a pre-cooked Christmas dinner at Safeway.  I did this once before for mom about 5 years ago and the price has considerably increased since then. Roasted potatoes, instead of mashed comes with the store bought meal.  Neither is turkey stuffing provided so I made both. I really wanted to make a Christmas dinner this year so I could take my mom some home cooking.  That is why I rented a motel room with a kitchenette. Though the dinner is pre-cooked you still need to put it in the oven for about 90 minutes and warm up the gravy. I  like to make sure my bird is cooked so I kept it in the oven for 2 hours and it was perfect; so moist and delicious.

My nephew pointed out that it was good to have an apartment style place to hang out and relax.  That part was true enough though I found the decor and building itself is somewhat old and dated.  It could use a few updates to make it much more comfortable but overall it met our needs quite well, not least of which was having a working oven to be able to make the Christmas dinner that we could all enjoy together. My mom absolutely enjoyed her Christmas turkey too and it pleased me to give her some home cooking that she could at and enjoy.

We arrived in good time on Christmas Eve day whereupon after checking in to my motel, I was able to spend several hours visiting with my mom. I also gave her her quilt early after showing it to her. I wanted to put it on her bed right away so that I could see how it was working out for her over the time we would be visiting her.  Staff immediately noticed it and told her how beautiful it was so that was gratifying.

On Christmas Day after preparing and eating an early meal we visited mom for awhile before taking my niece to the last installment of The Hobbit movie. I sure enjoyed it and found it very sad to see the end of the age of the dwarves and the elves.  I was also sad that the Hobbit movie series that my family members and I go to every year is now at an end. I hope next year there will be something equally good for us all to watch.  As the movie was playing it's last scenes, my niece pronounced "good movie" which is high praise coming from her.  She does absolutely look forward to this annual movie togetherness that we have been undertaking now for several years and I enjoy it too.

I started the tradition of taking in a movie on Christmas Day many, many years ago. At first it was my mom and I. I took her to a movie as a way to get her out at Christmas and because she always said she didn't like movies and couldn't watch them. I guess I wanted to test that theory, lol. She did enjoy some of the  movies and to this day we still laugh over one comedic movie we saw called "Johnny Dangerously".  In those days, the movie theatre was almost empty and only a few hardy souls ventured out. As the years went by, I started taking my niece to movies, then my nephew (sometimes nephews) joined in and now one brother also joins us for his 1 movie a year, lol.  Fast forward to Christmas Day in 2014.  The lobby of the multi-theatre complex was jam-packed with people in several different line-ups for tickets and for snacks. I didn't think we were going to get in but fortunately most the people were going to different theatres.  We were able to get into our movie with no problem.

After the movie ended, we had a long drive to take my niece home and so off we went so she could have another bite of Christmas dinner before sleep beckoned.  Then we headed to see mom for another visit before she went to sleep too. Afterwards we picked up a friend of my nephew's who came to spend the evening with him at the room.  They talked, ate and drank, played games and watched movies while I watched television in my room, cleaned and began to do all the packing. With so much that we had to take on the journey besides clothing and gifts, there was a LOT to pack and get organized. I also had to label some of the new Christmas clothing items mom received before we departed. I was kept busy the whole night long but nothing too stressful.

We were ready for check out right on time and packed the car before one last journey to see my mom and say our goodbyes. While my brother and nephew visited with her, I was tidying her closest and drawers and trying to rearrange things for easier access to her clothing and socks.  I then spent some time with her letting her know where she could find her new items of clothing that she got for Christmas before we took our leave. It is always hard to say goodbye. I asked her if she enjoyed her Christmas this year. She nodded and said "yes".  I know she was in a lot of pain while we were visiting with her but I also know it gave her a lot of pleasure to see her family members over a period of several days. It doesn't happen so often that we are able to get together all at once.  We  mostly try to stagger our visits so that she doesn't have to have such long periods where she doesn't see a close family member.  Before leaving town we dropped off a gift for one of her friends, refueled the car and headed out to the highway.

Driving back was uneventful as the road conditions were excellent. We stopped a few times for coffee and snacks and about an hour or so from home we all stopped to do a bit of shopping.

It is always good to get home. It is wonderful to journey to see mom but it is also nice to get home.  There were lot of bags to bring in and things to be put away. Today I ran a few errands and am doing laundry. Tomorrow I hope to go to church and there are still a few friends to see over the remaining holidays.  I am also hoping to see my cousin who didn't join me at Christmas after all.  She hopes to visit before the New Year and flying home.  I'm looking forward to seeing her if it works for her schedule.

I know some people don't like to be around others at Christmas and prefer to spend a quiet day by themselves. I understand that because I do prefer quiet get togethers rather than a social whirlwind and loud and large gatherings.  I made it a point this year to have a Christmas as stress free as possible and with as few expectations of myself as possible; while at the same time enjoying giving to others and spending quality time with them. Except for the last few nights before my trip where I was busy sewing into the late nights, I think I succeeded in having a perfect Christmas with loved ones this year.

 I hope each of you had a lovely time at Christmas in the ways that you like to spend it. I also wish you the very best of the coming New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. Wherever you are, may you find a joyous happy time alone or with friends and family. I want to thank you for stopping by and tell you your visits mean a lot to me. I hope to read from you more in days, weeks and months to come. Now here is a card I got from a young artist named Sammy who lives in Nakuru, Kenya. I found the Pygmy prayer on line.


In the beginning was God,
Today is God,
Tomorrow will be God.
Who can make an image of God?
He has no body.
He is the word which comes out of your mouth.
That word!
It is no more,
It is past, and still it lives!
So is God.
African - Pygmy

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Projects (Near) Completed

Two posts ago I wrote that I was busily working away on several sewing projects and that I would attempt to finish two quilts that I started making in Fall 2013.

Hard to see the sparkles in the light


Good size for one to snuggle up.
This week I managed to make two half slips, one sparkly burgundy vest and have almost finished the two quilts.

Finishing the two quilts is taking much longer than I would have liked. One quilt (in the photos) is complete.  The last step to finishing the sunflower quilt is to make and sew on the binding.

I  remember now why I set the quilt aside in the first place. I had run out of sunflower fabric and tried to find more.  My search wasn't successful and I set the quilt aside.  Since then I haven't felt like working on it.


Finishing up the quilts would have been much easier if I had used a walking foot.

Walking foot
When I finally remembered to use it, it made the job a lot quicker but I still had to keep un-doing and re-doing seams. Another issue is that I didn't have quite enough of the various fabrics needed to make either of the quilts and thus a lot of improvising needed to be done.  Like most things I do, I don't really follow a pattern.  That means I have a general idea when I get started and along the way I make changes depending on the amount of fabric I have.

Some decorative stitching around the edges.

My projects would probably work much better if I simply followed a pattern and purchased enough fabric to make it.  However, I do not like to pay the cost of patterns and quilt kits. It is all terribly expensive and I keep trying to do things on the less expensive side.

Anyway all of this is by way of explaining why it has taken so long to finish one lap blanket and one twin size quilt.  Trust me, I am so glad they are done so they can actually be ready for gifting this year.  LOL. Both were meant to be given as Christmas gifts last year.  Next up on my unfinished projects list is the African hexagon quilt that I enlarged from a foot of the bed cover to a double size bed cover. I won't be able to gift that for Christmas but will see what to do about it in the New Year.

I was especially pleased with the vest. I purchased some remnant material last summer for $3.99 and that is what I used to make the vest. It will come in handy during this festive season.

By the way, have any of you read the last book, Edge of Eternity in Ken Follett's Century Trilogy? I put it on hold at the library and I've been called to pick it up. I very much enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy and am wondering what my blog readers think about it. It's a good thing it is Christmas. It will give me time to make good progress on the book.

Have a good Sunday everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Beautiful Skies

These photos were taken at different times over the last month or so. 



 


Joining in with Skywatch Friday.

 Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On the Home Stretch to Christmas


Hello friends,

It is the final week before Christmas and I am enjoying the lead up to the big day.

I finished wrapping the small gifts I bought some time ago and will be dropping them off before Christmas to different friends. I have also decided to try and finish the lap quilt for my nephew and larger quilt for mom that I was going to gift last Christmas! These have just been sitting in the corner all year and waiting for me to add the finishing touches. I have so little to do on the lap quilt but the larger quilt requires a bit more work.

Lap quilt


Mom's quilt-in-progress
I have also just finished making two half slips for my mom. She hasn't been wearing slips for years but with the advancing age I think she feels it would be another layer to keep her warm.  When I went to purchase fabric to make the slips  they didn't have the usual colours (white and ivory) so I purchased a teal-ish green and a navy coloured fabric. These will be fine for her needs as they tend to be the colours in some of her dresses and skirts. I am also going to see if I can make a fuzzy vest for her. It is made out of slightly slinky fabric but it is a nice burgundy colour which she likes.


Earlier I asked her whether she needed any sweaters and she said a blue or green sweater would be a welcome addition to her wardrobe. I couldn't believe when I managed to find a blue sweater. It is rather a long one, probably longer than she needs but I think she will still like it because of the colour and because it is a little heavier than the sweaters I've been buying her lately. I gather from talking to her that the staff haven't been putting on the long sleeved tops and long pants I bought to try and keep mom warm. Just last week, one of the nicer staff "found" a lot of the newer clothing items I'd purchased and mom told me she didn't know she had. She does get a little forgetful now and then.



Mom's new sweater
The new phone
Lately mom has been having problems with her phone. My brother is visiting her for a few days right now.  In his investigations he found talcum powder that seems to have been knocked over and unfortunately got in between the key pad buttons and in the base of the phone. I'm glad he found the problem so he can buy another phone set and set it up before he leaves. Phone problems really upset  my mom's sense of well-bring. This is understandable since the phone is her connection to the outside world, including her children.



My nephew called today with exciting news. He has just finished his last exam and is now working in the laboratory with "his rats". He has been accepted to one of the top universities in eastern Canada. He is still waiting to hear back from the other 5 or so universities to which he has applied for his graduate studies, including where he is studying now. Wherever he decides to go (hopefully in the city where I live), he will be there for about 7 years so he wants to make the right decision and is planning a trip to the east to check out the universities before making a final decision.

He will also be coming with me sans girlfriend this year to visit his grandmother. So I am looking forward to that since we seldom spend time together given how busy he is with studies, work and a girlfriend.  I have rented a 2 bedroom suite with full kitchen so that my family members all have a place to stay since none of us live in mom's city. We will all have a chance to get caught up with one another and have the comforts of home at the same time. Now I just need to get my grocery list together and take some extra posts and pans on the journey.

My heart is also in Kenya right now with the poor villagers that need so much. With the help of my friend, Jonah we had a food distribution and party at one village church. Though he tried to keep it quiet, word got out to surrounding churches and many others attended for the party. A special thank you to one of my blog followers who helped make the party possible ( I won't say names as he probably wants to keep it private but he knows who he is). I will be posting photos as soon as I get them. In the meantime, plans are underway to do a food distribution to the orphans at Grace House where Grace and the 20 or so orphans she cares for need food and other things. The other place we will do a small food distribution is at one of the smaller Internally Displaced People's camps. In the end I did not have enough funds to also purchase the much needed sanitary napkins for the women and girls of the camp. Read here for more information.

If any of you wish to help with these two food distributions please contact me.

Joining in with Our World Tuesday.

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Blessings of the season to each and every one of  you.



nativity animation

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keeping Busy

It was such a gorgeous, mostly clear day today.  I couldn't help but take a lot of photos. 



This beautiful day comes after a week of coastal storms that wreacked a lot of havoc along the Pacific Coast. California was hardest hit but we saw some damage in British Columbia where I live.



The sky was clear to the north of me.

There was light cloud and a contrail above.


What a beautiful, blue sky!





Can you spot the small plane (photo below) between the tall ornamental grass (see the top)?


It's been a comfortable week or tidying and organizing the things I will take when I visit my mom for Christmas.


I have also been reading some good books.

I just finished, The King's Curse, an engaging novel about King Henry the 8th and his inability to sire a legitimate male heir to his throne.


This well researched biography of  the Romanov sisters, the 4 daughters of the last Tzar of Russia, is another book I am just finishing.  The book is actually the story of the entire royal family and not just the 4 daughters. It is a good read if you want to understand something of Russian history.


Paris in Love is a lighter read I am half way through.  The book, is written by Eloise James, New York Times best selling author and a Professor of Shakespeare.   After discovering she has cancer, Eloise and her husband sell their home, pack up the children and move to Paris.  The book is not a story per se but is written from the tidbits she posted on Facebook and Twitter while living  in Paris.



I also picked up Nomad at the library on Saturday. It is a book written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who fled her restrictive life in Africa for Holland after being promised in marriage to an older, man in Canada. The book is about the author's ideas about how to truly integrate Muslims into the West in a manner which will help avoid tensions and problems with an ever growing Muslim population. Needless to say her books are provocative and her efforts to speak up against Islam have placed her life in danger. She made a documentary with a young man who was later killed for working with her. I am just getting started on this book and think it would be a valuable read for most of my blog readers.

Last but not least, I am reading  Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren.  I had never heard of this man who is a leader in the Emergent Church movement until a friend in Kenya met him (in fact, I know next to nothing about the Emergent Church).  Now I am introducing myself to his writings. This is not a new book by the author and I am just at the part where he is searching for a deeper meaning in his walk with God. I'm sure it will be a good book as I sense this man thinks of the deeper issues of spirituality and that is mostly always a good thing.


I wrote here of plans to bring Christmas cheer to many poor Kenyans. My friend Jonah in Kenya was to start the Christmas food distributions to villagers on Sunday. I am excited and hope to share pictures later.

There is still time for you to be a part of Christmas food gift distributions to the orphans at Grace's House and to the Internally Displaced People.  If you would like to help with a monetary contribution you can contact me at the address on my profile page. Thanks!




I am late for Skywatch this week but
 contributing anyway.

Have a wonderful week!

African Music & Happenings