Tills.

I used to think I was more of a dog person, but lately I'm starting to think I'm a cat lover. Tilly has been visiting since Bre has been on Christmas break, and I tell you, every time I see this little sweety, I feel happy.

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When I say, "Hi Tills!" she actually meows in answer. It's the weirdest thing.

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And she loves to antagonize the Yorkie. It's one of her favorite things to do, as a matter of fact. Here she is, perched on the Yorkie's old spot on top of the couch (snuggled in one of Sophie's t-shirts)…

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And since the Yorkie finds Tilly to be extremely disconcerting, all the Yorkie can do is sit by on a not-so-comfy chair and take it.

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And as soon as Tilly is occupied elsewhere, the Yorkie eagerly resumes her position on the back of the couch.

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Lately, the only time Tilly will allow the Yorkie to have her old spot back is when she hears me switching laundry loads. For some reason, this silly cat loves the dryer. She watches me unload it, and as soon as it's clear, she settles in.

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She igores my pleas to vacate the dryer so I can get on with the laundry, so I usually end up piling damp clothing in around her to show her I'm serious about the eviction.

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She also loves it when I play on my iPad. Recently I couldn't figure out why my screen wouldn't scroll, and when I looked down, her paw was resting on it, preventing it from responding to me because it was busy responding to her.

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The poor guinea pig in Soph's room also finds Tilly to be extremely disconcerting.

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As I was taking down the Christmas decorations this past week, she made herself at home in a garland laying on the floor, hiding herself  from a certain pooch. Clearly she had plans brewing for making the Yorkie wee in fear.

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The oblivious Yorkie approached…

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…And this was all I was able to capture of the skirmish:

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Tasha, on the other hand, is not afraid of anything. She dreams of the day when Tilly will let her stand this close to her without a screen door between them.

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Poor, friendless Tasha.

Tilly doesn't care for canine exuberance, so she stays as high up as possible when Tasha's tanking through the room.

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She does, however, like Friday.

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And like I said, I really like her.

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Sweet Tilly. Bre sure knows how to pick them.

Twenty-One

Bre arrived in town this past Wednesday, just in time to start her Christmas break and to celebrate her twenty-first birthday! My sister and niece were also in town, so they joined us at Roja for lunch, where Mike treated Bre to a fruity concoction…

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The rest of us sipped our waters while these two behaved like a couple of fruitcakes…

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(Sophie picked up my camera and caught Sabrina texting her special friend…)

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After an enchilada lunch, it was back home for presents. It cracks me up how little kids love love love to help people open their gifts. Natalie took it upon herself to dive right into the gift bag and retrieve Bre's gift, just in case Bre didn't know how to do it…

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One of Bre's gifts was some Bare Escentials lip gloss, which Natalie wanted to try on…

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Sophie got her sister a gorgeous loop scarf from Francesca's…

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I loved how Natalie jumped in the photo when my sister was trying to take our picture…

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While the celebrating was going on, Tilly stayed perched up high, where the dogs couldn't reach her…

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A childhood friend of Bre's gave her this darling little wine glass ornament…

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The lip gloss Bre got was from Sabrina…

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It was a really fun day, and I'm so proud of my Bre. I love you, sweet girl! Happy Birthday to you!

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Lately.

Like everyone, I've been running like mad trying to get things done. Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, printing and packaging charts, checking lists, and stitching models has been the story of my life for about 4 weeks now, nonstop. But I did manage to have some really fun moments in the midst of all that chaos.

Like when Soph and I went shopping at an outdoor mall on a fa-reezing-cold day…

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…And then stopped inside Mimi's Cafe for the best hot chocolate ever…

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And when we had a gorgeous snowfall and I managed to catch a few of the flakes as they fell in front of a tree…

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And we got to watch Sophie sing in her middle school's holiday concert…

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And I got to meet a very special friend of Bean's…

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And Sophie made wintry cupcakes…

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And Missy stopped barking for a minute…

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And I had some fun decorating…

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And I even took some photos of Sabrina holding her Despicable Me minion, given to her by her very special friend…

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And although there were lots more lovely moments, even I know when not to say, "Oh wait a sec while I grab my camera!" 🙂

I hope you're enjoying your December, no matter how overwhelming it may be!

Secret Samplers

Each year, Mom and I exchange stitched samplers during the Christmas season, and it's one of our most favorite times of the year. Last year was the one exception bc we were both very, very busy and never got around to getting samplers picked out for each other. It was disappointing, to say the least, but it really couldn't be helped.

The samplers we exchange are always a secret, but keeping it a secret from each other is often the year's biggest challenge. We love to laugh at the ways we've goofed in the past, accidentally letting too much information slip so that the recipient correctly guesses what she's getting. It's still really fun and exciting though, and the laughter over the indiscretions is what makes the exchange even more memorable!

We decided to get a little dangerous this year, and we allowed each other one hint: the answer to Where will it be hung? My mother told me I'd hang mine in my hallway, and I told her she'd hang hers in her office. If I'm not mistaken, my telling her that she'd hang hers up in her office strongly suggested that the sampler was red. ;)  In contrast, her answer ("the hallway") to my question was a vague answer indeed, considering I have samplers of every sort in my hallway. (Don't think I didn't catch that, Mom.)

Anyway, we had our Holiday Sampler Exchange yesterday, and what a wonderful time it was, as usual! I went over to Mom's house and we had brunch before unwrapping our packages at the same time.  (We both try to look at our new samplers and the other's reaction at the same time, which is quite comical.)

I have to say, I think I got the better end of the deal (Mom does too, no doubt).. here's what I stitched for Mom:

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It's a reproduction sampler by Threads of Gold, and it's called "M.A. Dutch Sampler." These aren't the original colors though; I decided to switch out all of the called-for threads to some red AVAS, with exception to the horse and rider. (It was this sampler that led me to start searching for horse-and-rider samplers, which then led me to hunting down Colonial Couples samplers.)

And here's the absolutely stunning, jaw-dropping sampler Mom stitched for me!

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It's Dames Boarding School by Examplar Dames! She couldn't remember the silks she used on it, but trust me when I tell you they are so delicate and lovely and perfect for this piece. I just can't get over how beautiful it is!

Jill Rensel framed both of our pieces to perfection. Here's a close-up of the moulding on Dames Boarding School…

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I also stitched these for Mom, and put them in this bowl that I found at my favorite country store, Weathered and Worn…

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It's one of my favorite Christmas carols, and I love how Bing Crosby sings it. 🙂

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One of my very favorite things about visiting my parents' home is the way my mom decorates for the seasons. She has such a way with the little touches here and there, and my girls love visiting just as much, for this very reason. I decided to take a few photos while I was there yesterday…

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I love how she took some greenery from her back yard and put it in a jar…

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You may have seen this on her blog recently.. it's a tiny little stocking by Hands to Work…

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Btw, this absolutely cracks me up, every time I see it. My parents have a cozy fireplace in their basement, but since my mom isn't down there very often, she decided to download a "live" fireplace app on her iPad…

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I think I caught her trying to warm her hands in front of it yesterday, when she thought I wasn't looking.

One of Sophie's favorite things at my parents' house is the Department 56 Dickens Village, set on top of a very high china cabinet. (Actually, there are many more pieces to her collection but these particular ones are the ones on the main level of the house.) My dad has them arranged in the most charming way, and at night all of the tiny windows light up…

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Please excuse the blurriness in the photos. I actually was not looking through the camera to take these bc they were so far above my head. Instead, I was standing on a chair and holding the camera way above me and snapping away at who-knows-what! (Btw, notice the samplers behind the village…)

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One day, I'd love to get up on a ladder and get some decent photos of all the village pieces together.

At about the time I was finished taking pictures, the man of the house came home for lunch…

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I adore you, Dad. Even though you don't like the way I park my car in your driveway so that you can't pull into the garage. I can't help it if you don't have the skills to drive around me.

And Mom, I love you. Yesterday was so much fun, and I can't wait to do it again in 2012! Merry Christmas, and go pick out my next sampler. 🙂

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P.S. It may look like she stitched a bigger sampler than I did, but that's bc she stitched hers on 11 count, and mine is on 50 count.

P.P.S. For those of you who may not know how I love to tease my mother, please know I'm only kidding.

Love Presents, Part 2

Here are just a few photos from Thanksgiving… we went to my parents' house again this year, and my mom gave the girls the sweetest love presents! The idea was that the presents had to be something having to do with decorating for the Christmas season, so she gave what she thought was the most personality-fitting gift to each of the girls. I do believe she pulled it off! 🙂

Sabrina's sweet tooth has every dentist in Omaha exhausted from night-terrors, so her gift was easy: a candy tree, made by my mom! Each kiss had to be painstakingly glued onto the tree – a process that takes the better part of an afternoon.

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In addition to the tree, Sabrina got the coolest Santa that looks like it's made from pure milk chocolate, but in fact it is non-edible. Mom said she licked it just to be sure.

Bre's taste in decorating is positively hodgepodge-chic, which makes it really fun to spot things that would go well in her apartment. Mom put together this darling wreath stand (sorry, the top was cut off in the photo), wreath, and Christmas ornament.. Noel is Breanna's middle name, so it was perfect!

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Remember when Sophie wanted a bathroom overhaul as soon as Sabrina moved out? Sophie takes her bathroom very seriously, and pretty much breaks out in hives if something doesn't quite look right in there. She also insists on decorating it for the seasons, so Mom gave her one of Bath and Body Works' new soap sleeves, along with some new handsoap and hand towels. I don't have a better picture than this one, I'm afraid, but you get the idea…

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It was a lot of fun watching the girls open their gifts – and moreso bc they weren't expecting them. 🙂

As far as the actual Thanksgiving day went, Mom had a gorgeous table display, as usual…

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After the meal, Mike and Dad retired to the basement for the Dallas Cowboys game, while Sabrina tried staying awake, resting against her Meems' lap…

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Sophie sat pleasantly and conversed with anyone who was lucky enough to be sitting near her…

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And Bre did what Bre does best, when she thinks no one is looking…

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I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving, whether with your family, your friends, or just the cozy quiet of your home.

P.S. My mom didn't really lick the fake chocolate Santa.