Three Month’s Worth of Cheep Trills

Chirped by Tina and Cass

The holidays have come and gone, and you know what that meant? We were just too busy to post our monthly favorites – not only for December, but for November as well! How did that happen?? Between the boys being home from school, travels to relatives, relatives traveling to us, holiday shopping, decorating, cooking… you name it, the usual seasonal craziness…. we got a little off track. So here is a selection of our highlights for November, December and January!

Favorite Throwback to Days Gone By (Cass)

One of our family traditions is to visit Easton, PA. My grandparents on both sides lived there, as well as my parents and I until I was five years old. Many special memories are associated with the town. This November my brother and I traveled to Easton to lay wreaths on the family plots of our grandparents. We always drive around town, past where our grandparents used to live, to see if anything has changed since we were last there. My brother likes to stop at the grocery store to pick up a huge supply of A-Treat soda – a favorite of ours growing up that is now only local to the area. Right around the corner from the store is Richard’s Drive-In. This local hot dog shop has been around since the 1950s. My order has not changed since I was a little girl… a dog with everything, fries-a little salt & ketchup, and a black and white milkshake. The place is not anything special, but it has been run by the same family for years, and represents a little piece of our childhood that we can keep going back to visit.  

Favorite Way to Spend a Crafty Evening Out

Tina organized a group of us to go to Painting with a Twist for a night of wine, snacks and creating our own piece of art for the holidays. If you haven’t yet tried one of these types of venues, they’re really a lot of fun.  The staff artist guides you step by step through how to paint the evening’s featured scene. The studio provides all the materials except for the drinks and food. The instructor will even step in if you need a little assist with an element that isn’t emerging to your satisfaction. Everyone’s finished product comes out just a little different, as you can see in one of the “after” shots, and they all looked great!

Favorite Way to Spend a Crafty Evening In

rock-paintingSince we are on the subject of crafts, our latest book club meeting had a craft activity to go along with our book, The Immortalistsby Chloe Benjamin. The idea for our activity was to paint a rock with something you want to focus on on the top, and something that you want to let go of on the bottom. This was a tie-in to the book’s theme of how you would live your life if you thought you knew the date of your death. Many of us got distracted by the images in a rock-painting inspiration book we’d picked up, and just painted a pretty rock without a meaning behind it – or one with a positive message on the back, modeled after the Kindness Rocks Project we’d seen on the internet!  c(-;

Favorite Way to Spend a Long Afternoon (Tina)

Of course I have to share this time lapse video we made for our fledglings off at college. It’s me and my husband decorating our tree with 352 ornaments… yes, I counted them this year! It was for a family bet about how many >bleeping< ornaments we’ve collected over the years! My position? You can never have too many ornaments! But it did take us over four hours to get them all up. It helped when there used to be four of us working on it… I love the occasional cameos by the blog dog, right in the middle of the action, and the way the sun slowly moved up the wall as the afternoon waned. The Cosmo in front of the fire afterwards was well deserved!

ash-tree-chunk-removalA Different Kind of Tree Trimming

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no it’s one of several massive tree-sized chunks of Tina’s 60+ year old ash tree being carted away by a crane over her rooftop! The ash trees here in PA are under attack by the Emerald Ash Borer, and this monster was way too close to the house for comfort in its failing state of health. The tree specialists said it had lost 2/3 of its weight, based on its diameter, so taking it down was the right call… Hopefully they’ll be able to save two smaller ash trees in the front of the house with insecticide treatments come spring. The good news? Just saw a report that the Polar Vortex may kill a lot of the EAB larvae!

Favorite Recipe of the Month (Tina)

Our good friend Tim introduced us to the wonders of homemade guacamole last summer, and this recipe I found from downshiftology.com for Best Ever Guacamole comes close to replicating his magic formula. He used (and therefore so do I!) red onions, and adjusts ingredient proportions according to taste, but this is a great starting point. This recipe also put me onto this great hack from thekitchn.com for preserving guacamole that you didn’t manage to devour right away for up to three days – without it turning all brown and yucky! It involves a thin layer of water poured on top of smoothed-over guacamole pressed into a container.

Another Favorite Holiday Craft Activity (Tina)

Oh, the crafty juices, they were a-flowin’ in December! My friend hosted a gingerbread house-decorating party, using pre-assembled kits to avoid the frustrations of previous years (with Royal icing that wasn’t quite thick enough to keep the walls from slowly caving in midway through the decorating)! Maybe not for the gingerbread house purist, but to me, the decorating is the fun part anyway!

really-bad-art-gameFavorite Newly Discovered Board Games 

Really Bad Art and Splendor! The tag line of Really Bad Art kinda says it all: “A Game of Lofty Ideas and Horrible Craftsmanship.” Doesn’t matter how good of an artist you are when you only have six seconds to read, come up with an idea, and draw something representative of the concept on your card – like… “personality flaw”. Yeah, whatcha gonna draw for that, smart guy? Then everyone has to try to match the terrible drawings to the cards that inspired them. It’s a great party game for up to six players, max.

splendor gameSplendor is a much more thoughtful, strategic game, for two to four players, ages 10 and up. You can pick up the rules pretty quickly, and you don’t have to be very strategy-minded to enjoy it – but if someone you’re playing against is paying more attention to what jewels the other players are collecting, you’re probably going down. Goal is to collect a set number of “prestige points” before your opponents do, by buying precious gemstones and attracting noble visitors. If you like Settlers of Catan (another family favorite) this game is probably right up your alley!

Dogs’ Favorite Holiday! 

Naturally we had to share some pics of our pups with their Christmas loot – or what’s left of it.  Tina’s blog dog slipped through their family’s traditional Christmas Eve “don’t sneak downstairs, kids!” booby traps to get to his stocking early. And Cass’s dog enjoyed his Santa toy for about five minutes before the squeaker was extracted and destroyed.

Favorite Completed Micro Goal

Remember awhile back when we started trying to reclaim Tina’s craft room from the accumulated heaps of clutter? Well… we got distracted. But she is making progress! Hence a micro goal that she set – and accomplished: Clearing off one table’s worth of stuff and stowing it all appropriately! Hopefully we can keep that momentum going in 2019!

So that’s our short list! Still more inspiring projects, get-together ideas, and travel tips from the last couple of months will be finding their way into upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

– Cass and Tina

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