Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So What'd You Get?

On one forum I frequent, there was a heated discussion about what people WEREN'T able to get their families this Christmas. While for the most part, people sympathized, we all said that times were hard and it's better to look at what you CAN give. I did get some cool things from a sweet Santa (a series of vintage ad books, for one), but I thought it would be cool to look at the gifts that didn't cost. None of these costs a thing, but added a lot of memories this year.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Scoping out neighborhoods for Christmas lights. This event is best done after someone's normal bedtime, with everyone dressed in pajamas. Some nights, we have to go back twice.



Making Christmas cards for the entire Kindergarten class. Marker, glitter, Foamies, paint stampers -- 18 cards took Zack two weeks to plan and make. Then we put the cards in bags and filled them with candy. It was such an enjoyable project!



Watching "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" again and again. I must admit, when I first realized we'd TIVO'd the new version, I was bummed -- but I am now in love with the Tim Burton version of the movie. Steampunk, chocolate, the best Oompaloompas ever -- it was terrific. Zack did ask once, "Why is that man dressed like a lady?", but then we talked about artistic temperments and all was well.

There's a big difference between THIS Johnny Depp:

(© AliciaLogic)

And THIS Johnny Depp (and for futher confusion, we watched Pirates right after watching Willy):

(© DISNEY)

But what makes him a great actor (other than cheekbones for days) is his comedic face:


(© DISNEY)

(Seems as if I've digressed!)

Christmas holidays also means many a board game gets played here in House Anderson. In past years, that's meant heavy games of Trivial Pursuit between Team Adult and Team Boys, and this year was no different. But this year we pulled down RISK (STRICTLY for the hubby and older guys), Sorry, and Trouble. We're a game-playing family.

And then there's indulging a little boy who comes to me with a box of brownie mix in his sweet little hands, huge puppy-dog eyes, asking, "Can we make these?"

None of that really cost a thing. I feel so very fortunate. I had a family that took care of me while I was sick all week, grown boys who are epicures to the core (you should see the apple/blueberry pie Colin made -- magazine-ready), messages from many friends from around the world -- and more laughter than it seems possible.

I love you all for reading this, too -- that's a huge present in and of itself.

Happy New Year's Eve!

.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Follow me?

OK, I've had a lot of requests by readers to turn on the "Follow" function for Blogger, so peek to the top right -- it's there! So now you can hit "Follow" and stay up-to-date on all my posts.

I know you're out there. Per my stat counter, there are over a hundred hits a day, so hit the Follow thingee, m'k?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

A very short post, as we're getting ready for a late breakfast, but the greatest sound? Zack sitting in the middle of the floor, taking apart all the pieces to his mosaic kit, and singing "Tis the Season" to himself. Over and over.

'Tis sweet.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!


Merry Christmas Eve!

We've put food out for the reindeer -- (oatmeal with glitter, so the reindeer can find it)...

Had our Christmas dinner a day early (made by Ryan, Colin, and Rick) -- full of truly gourmet selections the boys made from scratch. They've really gotten into cooking!

Opened our traditional Christmas Eve presents (ornaments -- each year everyone gets one on Christmas Eve, so when the boys have their own house, they'll have ornaments to start out with). Mine for the past six years has been the annual Swarovski crystal snowflake:

And soon, Zack will be in bed, and I'll help Santa out by running out to the van to get hidden presents that need to be wrapped (in special paper that Zack hasn't seen under the tree yet).

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice, and Happy Kwanzaa -- whatever you celebrate, I hope it's wonderful and shared with loved ones.

.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Overcoming Artistic Block

This year was a hectic one for me. I participated in over 16 shows (most of them 3 days long), wrote tutorials, taught classes, volunteered nearly every day at my son's school, fought some major illnesses -- it's no wonder I'm tired!

I also make nearly half my income in the last three months of the year, so every single day (and most of the night) I'm making jewelry, selling jewelry, or shipping jewelry. If I thought I was tired before, I'm even more so during those crazy days, and the inevitable happens -- I get major artistic block.

This kind of artistic block starts with my never, ever wanting to see another bead or piece of wire again. My work bench, for the first time all year, gathers dust. I find myself with loads of time and I have to actually think about how to fill it.

It's lovely!

This annual artistic block doesn't frighten me, though. I know that in about a month, I'll be right back at it, preparing for another year. But right now, I'm enjoying things I didn't have time for before -- knitting, reading a book in the local coffee shop, taking my son to museums, and on occasion, playing a video game. A month later, my brain will have been rested and rejuvenated, and I'll venture back to the bead cabinet.

(And oh yeah. I take this time to really clean my house from top to bottom. Running your own business really makes dusting and organizing seem less important!)

I think it's important to embrace artistic block. Often it's not a lack of ideas, but an abundance of ideas -- so many ideas that your brain throws up its hands and cries, "Enough already!" So rather than fight it or worry about it, take the time to do something else. Just like an athlete resting in the off-season, an artist needs to rest.

Really! Go on. Put your feet up. And you'll see new creations on http://www.lorianderson.net/ in a few weeks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Ringy Dingy....

Did you grow up with a rotary dial phone? I did, and frankly, I miss it. Cell phones are convenient as heck, but they're so SMALL that you can't tuck it between cheek and shoulder without pushing all the buttons at once and disconnecting your call. And there's something very satisfactory about whipping that dial around.

So I was thrilled when I ran across Small Bell, a unique store that refurbishes rotary phones. Matt Payne got interested in phones initially because his mother worked for the phone company for many years. Then as these sorts of things usually happen, randomness put his interest into motion.


Matt says, " My girlfriend and I were wandering through our local salvage shop and I found a complete, green Western Electric 500. I bought it on a whim, and soon started snatching up all the phones I could lay my hands on. I work as a technician in the performing arts, so I'm already handy with electronics, so learning to work on the phones comes naturally to me. I love these phones so very much, and it brings me a lot of joy to bring them back to life."

Right now he has a great selection in his shop (I have my eye on this one), but Matt says if you have a favorite rotary phone that you want to bring back to life, contact him and he'll work with you to make it happen. And if you're in the theater biz, and want to rent a phone for a play or other production (he can make them ring at the flip of a switch from back stage), give him a shout.


This is such a great way to recycle and bring some of that "back in the day" vibe into your home! Check out his shop at www.smallbell.etsy.com.

And a post about phones wouldn't quite be complete without a bit from Geraldine, the consummate telephone operator! Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

99 Things

I got tagged today with this new meme that I've not seen before, called "99 Things". Here's how it goes:

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.

2.. Slept under the stars. (Under duress, as I despiiiiiiise camping.)

3. Played in a band - or musical.

4. Visited Hawaii.

5. Watched a meteor shower. (See #2 -- the meteor shower was the only saving grace.)

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.

7. Been to Disneyland. Waiting to go with my best friend and her kids.

8. Climbed a mountain. (Another duress moment).

9. Held a praying mantis. (WTH?)

10. Sang a solo. (No, and you don't want me to, unless it's of the "solo"-I-can't-hear-you variety).

11. Bungee jumped (No. No. No. And more No.)

12. Visited Paris. (no, but a number of other European countries. Oddly, France is not on my list of must-sees.)

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. (Water + electricity = fried in my book)

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. (nearly every art/craft I've learned from scratch)

15. Adopted a child. (We almost did, then Zack came along).

16. Had food poisoning. (Monterey, CA. El Toritos restaurant. Bad sour scream. Never again.)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (I saw it right after 9/11, and it was, of course, closed to the public.)

18. Grown your own vegetables. (Yes. See my post about the 42 tomato plants).

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (See #12).

20. Slept on an overnight train. (No, but slept on a day-train through Italy -- does that count?)

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitchhiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. (Some days were just made for staying in bed.)

24. Built a snow fort. (We never get enough snow, but rather, ice.)

25. Held a lamb.

26. Gone skinny dipping. (Not. Tellin'.)

27. Run a Marathon. (Good lord, I get bored after 30 minutes on the elliptical! But Rick has run five. Which is why he's getting his second knee surgery in two weeks.)

28. Ridden a Gondola in Venice. (No, dammit. But I've sat in St. Mark's Square and eaten lunch, and gotten lost in all those streets.)

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run. (You've got to be kidding me. I was the kid that when I came to bat, the coach yelled, "MOVE UP!" to the rest of the team.)

32. Been on a cruise. (I think I'd go stir crazy on a cruise. But would like to take a short one to see the glaciers around Alaska.)

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. (Meh. I don't know why this has no interest to me.)

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (Well, depends on how far back you want me to go.)

35. Seen an Amish community. (Rick's family lives near them, and one family actually lives on their farm complex.)

36. Taught yourself a new language. (I know four, so they all get muddled together now.)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. (When I no longer had to look at the prices of food in the grocery store, that was when I knew I was just fine.)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing. (See "bungee jumping".)

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David.

41. Sung karaoke. (See #10)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. (Why?)

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. (Well, not in the restaurant, but I've bought I don't know how many cups of coffee and food for homeless people. That's actually one of Zack's "things" that he likes to do, the sweet thing.)

44. Visited Africa. (I doubt this will ever happen, but I can hope.)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. (The best time to go, IMHO.)

46. Been transported in an ambulance. (I don't remember it, though.)

47. Had your portrait painted. (Who would want to do that?)

48. Gone deep sea fishing. (I don't know if I'm prone to seasickness, but don't want to find out.)

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person. (But have seen St. Mark's Cathedral).

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. (What's with all the France questions?)

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. (Um. No.)

52. Kissed in the rain.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater. (As a kid -- we saw "Gentle Ben".)

55. Been in a movie. (Been on TV, though.)

56. Visited the Great Wall of China. (One of the top ten things I want to do.)

57. Started a business. (http://www.lorianderson.net/)

58. Taken a martial arts class. (Might take one with Zack.)

59. Visited Russia.

60. Served at a soup kitchen. (No, but sent in a mega-ton of food for one.)

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. (ATE my fair share.)

62. Gone whale watching. (See #48)

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - (My veins are so small, and so hard to get anything out of, that I've been politely asked to not come again. )

65. Gone sky diving. (You've got to be kidding.)

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. (I studied a lot about this time period in college. I've been to the Holocaust Museum in DC, and it was sobering. Good to not forget about that happening.)

67. Bounced a check. (Woops, so much for an 18-year old with a checkbook.)

68. Flown in a helicopter.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. (A doll my Dad gave me.)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial. (Only an hour from here!)

71. Eaten Caviar (Blech.)

72. Pieced a quilt.

73. Stood in Times Square. (A trip to NYC was a present to me from my hubby once.)

74. Toured the Everglades. (Gators. Mosquitos. Um. Maybe another time? Or if David Caruso took me on that cool air boat thing?)

75. Been fired from a job. (I think laid off twice in one year more than counts.)

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

77. Broken a bone. (Leg, three times, wrist, twice, toe, once. The toe hurt the most.)

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. (As a passenger, on a Harley, at night, down the straightest road in Texas I've ever seen.)

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. (Saw it from an airplane, though.)

80. Published a book. (Been IN a book, will be in another next year, and am currently writing one.)

81. Visited the Vatican. (But I want to see the stuff they don't show the tourists.)

82. Bought a brand new car.

83. Walked in Jerusalem. (One of my grandmothers did, though.)

84. Had your picture in the newspaper. (No, but was quoted in one.)

85. Read the entire Bible. (Twice.)

86. Visited the White House. (I live near it, but don't really care to see it.)

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (More and more, I'm off meat. But it's hard to pass up bacon.)

88. Had chickenpox. (Surprisingly, no.)

89. Saved someone’s life. (Tried to, but no amount of CPR was bringing him back. Very sad.)

90. Sat on a jury. (Heh. Got excused from a murder trial due to a panic attack last month.)

91. Met someone famous. (Dave Matthews -- he has long eyelashes. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer at a Microsoft convention. Steve Ballmer is hilarious when teaching a class.)

92. Joined a book club. (http://www.goodreads.com/ is great for that, and I ran a book club session once in person.)

93. Lost a loved one. (Recently.)

94. Had a baby. (Zack is a miracle.)

95. Seen the Alamo in person. (Not fond of Texas, although I was stationed there once.)

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit. (No, but considered filing one.)

98. Owned a cell phone. (From back when they looked like a brick.)

99. Been stung by a bee. (Yep. Found out I was allergic.)


So if you have a blog and want to do this list, leave a comment so I can take a look!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One of the best videos I've seen in a while

I love reading Blackbird's blog -- she always has something interesting to say, and great pictures to boot. Today I'm going to post the video she blogged because I think it needs to be shared with as many people as possible. I don't mind telling you it made me cry.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Eleanor Rigby -- the book and the song -- a Review

Eleanor Rigby Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was first introduced to Douglas Coupland by a nearest and dearest -- I had just gotten off a plane from Korea, had just finished my stint in the Air Force, and was cripplingly jetlagged when he thrust "Generation X" in my hands and said, "You MUST read this". It superceded the jet lag, and I've been a fan ever since.

This book is about lonliness, and while it does have depressing tones, it's also dryly, wryly hilarious. There are some twists and turns that make me marvel at Coupland's thought-processes, and ending was very satisfactory. It's about lonliness, love, visions, and a meteorite.

You're going to love it.

View all my reviews.

I have to admit, that the entire time I read this book, I had American Idol's David Cook's performance of "Eleanor Rigby" running on repeat in my mind. I don't watch American Idol -- well, I did the first season, but never after, preferring to watch highlights on YouTube if I'm so inclined. That guy is just amazing.

Enjoy.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Extremely Cool Gift -- Bubble Wrap Calendar

I got a catalog on the mail yesterday, I know not why, called X-Treme Geek. But I flipped through it, thinking surely it would have something interesting in it.


I was not disappointed.


Click here to behold the Bubble Wrap Calendar. It's brilliant. It's also out of stock right now, it's so brilliant.


They also answer the question of how bubble wrap came to be -- the Sealed Air corporation was aiming for wallpaper.

Very glad they missed, because there's nothing quite like taking your frustrations out on a big fresh sheet of bubble wrap.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the Back Cover of BeadStyle Magazine

I have another piece on the back cover of the January 2009 BeadStyle magazine, used in an ad for Fire Mountain Gems. I knew they had this piece, but had no idea when it would appear. I got the latest issue in the mail and casually flipped it over on the table to set aside for later, and oh hey! That's mine!


Very cool.

The necklace has a new home in Virginia Beach, but I have a similar one here.

I also just heard that a number of my friends are getting published in a new magazine, BeadStar, so congratulations go out to Ann Marie Hodrick, Cassie Donlen, and Lisa Liddy. WOO HOO!

Being published keeps a grin on your face for days!

.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What We're Getting For Christmas

1. A new dishwasher.

2. A new floor because old dishwasher (2 years old, I might add) has a plastic part that decided it was done working. Laminate wood floor + small amount of water hanging out under the floorboard = curling boards.

3. A contractor to do all the labor, because Rick is getting a new knee on the 30th.

4. Soap. To wash out our mouths when we found out how much it will cost to get a decent dishwasher that does NOT have plastic parts.

I suppose it could be much worse. We could have to get a new roof, or new siding, or something equally expensive and unsexy. The fact that we even HAVE a dishwasher is a luxury some don't have. I quite remember the days of my first house, when the kitchen was cute as a button but dishwasher-less.

And oh hey, this totally solved the "what do you want?", "nothing, what do YOU want?" question of gift giving between me and Rick.

Anyone else getting a Christmas present like this?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A White Christmas Tree

This weekend, we put up the Christmas tree. While some have huge wonderful live trees, I gave up live trees long ago. All it took was a leaking tree stand + lots of presents already under the tree = frantic rush to buy new presents to put me off live trees.

I have a lovely green artificial tree that works just fine. Before Zack, I could spend two days decorating it, with hundreds of lights and ornaments all over.... not just on the ends of the boughs, but inside the tree, and all with major thought to what-goes-where. It was nothing short of spectacular.

Enter Zack at three years old. For some reason, I know not why, he decided he wanted a WHITE tree. Alrighty then. We spent some time visiting a ton of stores before finally finding an affordable white tree, which also came with lights already on it. Bonus!

So up it went....

This year was also the first year we used our "real" ornaments. For the past two years, we've let Zack pick out some barrel-o-plastic ones in bright colors -- no breakage, not much money. We also made paper chains and all kinds of homemade things. But this year, he got to see for the first time all the breakables -- the Radkos and the Swarovskis and a ton of others.

I'd forgotten about a lot of the ornaments, and the stories behind them. As we unwrapped each piece, there were collective "oooohs" and an occasional "aw geez" when we found a broken one. Took us a while to dig through three huge boxes, but we made it.


Right now, Zack is lying underneath the tree, looking up into the lights, just like I did as a kid. Some traditions are timeless... I think I'll join him.
.

Oh right, I DO make jewelry!

I've been writing about so many other things that I've failed to give you any eye candy! Here's a bit -- enjoy!

A sterling silver cross with larimar and amethyst beads.
Deep blue handmade lampwork beads and Swarovski crystal.

Long sterling silver chain with a cluster of Swarovski crystals (this one also looks great as a short necklace, so the buyer will get to choose which they prefer).


Etched lampwork glass beads with onyx.

These aren't on http://www.lorianderson.net/ yet, but there's plenty to look at! Hope you'll check it out!
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Friday, December 05, 2008

A Dad's Letter to his Son

Recently, Zack's Kindergarten teacher got the idea of having parents write their children a letter telling them why they were thankful for them -- something that they could keep forever. She got this idea from a teacher who had a student who lost his father at a really young age, and who found a lot of comfort in a letter his dad had written to him before he died.

I wrote my letter, and asked Rick to write one of his own. I don't know what I expected, but what I got just brought tears to my eyes. Rick is a fantastic father, has already single-handedly raised two boys to their mid-twenties (they are wonderful, amazing men), so I don't know why I was surprised at what he wrote.

I'm sharing this with you because if you have kids, no matter what their age -- sit down and write them a note. It doesn't have to be long, just from the heart. I guarantee they will treasure it always. And what a wonderful Christmas present, don't you think?

***************************

Dear Zack,


I am thankful for a son who likes to go kayaking with me. I love showing you new things and knowing that you are interested in those things. I love your interest in seeing eagles, ospreys, herons, and everything else. I especially like asking you what the osprey is saying we get close to her on the kayak.

I am thankful for a son who likes to bike with his Dad. It is so much fun sharing that time with you and hearing you say hello to everyone we pass. I like it when we take a break and I get a chance to watch you play and it is really special when I hear you laughing.



I am thankful for a son who likes to go to the zoo and the museums with me. I love when you ask me questions about things and just assume that I will always know the answer … even when I don't.



I am thankful for a son who always wants to help whenever there's a chore that must be done. No matter the size, you are ready to take on the job and lend a hand.


I am thankful for a son who loves everyone in his family. I love it when I hear you responding to that commercial on TV and you saying that you are thankful for Mommy, Daddy, Ryan, Colin, Nana, Pop-Pop, Grammy, and Pappy.



I am thankful for the son who is polite and courteous when we go places together. I love to hear you say thank-you without prompting from me to other people.

I love you!

Daddy

**********

Now go and write your letter!
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You have got to be kidding me.

How can I have MRSA for a THIRD time?

Official answer from ER doctor: some people just are susceptible. I am apparently one of those.

I am not happy. At least this time I'm not in the hospital (yet, please cross fingers and say prayers) and can feel miserable at home.

Carry on.

.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Book Review -- "Just After Sunset" by Stephen King

Just After Sunset Just After Sunset by Stephen King


rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just love Stephen King. I can't help it. When one of his books comes out, I just stop everything and devour it. I know that there are those out there that dismiss his work, but I can read a high-brow classic and still love how King spins a story.

This collection of short stories is great. He did manage to gross me out with his Port-a-Potty story, but it sure did ring a chord -- one summer I was pretty sure the one I was in was going to just tumble down the hill.... so if that ever happens, now I know how to get out!

Go get the book. You know you wanna.


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Monday, December 01, 2008

Mourning a Friend

This has been a very trying week.

Tuesday we lost a very dear friend. She wasn't much older than me. Her husband passed very suddenly two years ago, and I just don't think she ever got over it. I made her a memorial bracelet as a gift, with his nickname and a heart-shaped prayer box charm on it, and she never took it off. I'm beyond tears to know that they are keeping that with her. I've never put as much love and prayer and wishes into a piece of jewelry in all my life. I just wish she and her husband were still here. Life doesn't make sense all the time, does it?

It was a strange Thanksgiving for us, as my husband spent a lot of time on the phone contacting her old military friends who are flung all over the world, and I don't think I'll ever know what it was like for Rick to help write her eulogy, but what I DO know is she knew to the very last that she was loved.

I hestitated to write about this very personal thing on such a public forum, but I think it's important to remember to never ever take your friends for granted. Even if they live far away, even if you hardly have ten seconds to take a breath at the end of the day, from time to time remember to let them know how much they mean to you.

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