Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year-End Wrap-Up

As the sun sets on this last day of 2016, which has passed more quickly than any year I can remember, I thought it would be a good idea to write one final blog entry.  I've been having some computer issues that have made it difficult to keep up with the blog and I haven't written in months.  I'm not sure how high a priority the blog will be for me in 2017, but I thought a year-end wrap up might be a nice way to finish off the year.

As you've probably guessed, life with three teenaged daughters, a husband who travels, and a high-energy over 30-hour-per week job leaves me with precious little energy and time for other things.  I do still attend FANE meetings once a month and take part in most or all of their challenges.  At the end of the summer, Jane challenged us to cover this building-shaped wood block any way we chose and had the group's completed edifices on display at an open studios day at The Nest in Bridgeport, CT.  The theme was "home" and I decided to turn mine into a home for fish, an aquarium.

I drew a rough pattern of the block on paper and sketched out some elements.  I wanted each side to have a focal point fishy character as well as some foreground plants.  I also decided to try to make it look like the water was truly translucent and you could see through to the fish on the opposite side, by adding a lighter version of the fish in the opposing panel.  For instance, here you can see a close-up version of the seahorse in panel 3, and a faded, faraway version of it on the opposite panel, #1.

I'm not sure this was totally successful, but here's my finished aquarium.  It was challenging and fun, and was the last piece of fiber art I created in 2016!

One thing that kept me preoccupied this fall was sprucing up the house a bit.  We'd become very overcluttered with things we didn't use or need anymore, so I took a lot of time going through drawers and closets and shelves and bins in the garage and attic to find stuff we could sell, donate, or just plain toss.  In doing all this, I also realized how badly much of the interior could use a fresh coat of paint and some new carpeting, as well as having the pictures and photos updated.

One of the weekends my husband was away, I spackled, sanded, and painted the long hallway towards the bedrooms as well as the high-ceilinged entryway.  When I was finished, I hung a lot of my art work gallery-style down the hall.  It looks clean and colorful now and I'm happy with the way the pieces look hung together.

On the opposite side of the hall, I took down old baby pictures of the girls and hung these more recent photos.  The matching black frames make everything look cleaner and neater.  We still need one more family photo for the center frame.  That should be my first goal of the new year!

Downstairs in the family room there were also lots of old photos and unimportant knick-knacks.  I weeded through them and replaced many photos with some of my favorites from the last few years.

I also started working on the far wall, which had gotten very messy.  We installed some shelves so I could get the photo albums out of the garage and I also had some of my favorite vacation photos printed on canvas at CVS.  One of them is the sunset photo of a bridge over the Arno in Florence in the lower right of the photo.  This wall still needs more work, as you can see - goal #2 of the new year!

Then the holidays hit, and things got very busy, of course.  I managed to get my cards mailed and many cookies and sweets baked, as well as decorations up.  We had an especially lovely Christmas season this year, beginning right after Thanksgiving with a visit from my in-laws which included a trip to the Danbury Railway museum, lunch at the Cheesecake factory, and another outing to the Culinary Institute of America with a tour and another lunch out.

I had many visits with good friends and neighbors, but the highlight of the season was really Christmas day when both of my brothers and their families as well as my parents were able to be here.  It's the first time I remember us being together on Christmas Day in several years.

So now the centerpiece flowers are starting to fade and the clock is ticking slowly closer and closer to midnight.  I'll remember 2016 as the year my DH's job got bought out by a Canadian company and he started traveling again, and I consequently took on a lot more of the home upkeep, including mowing the lawn, doing fall clean-up and painting the hall.  I'll also remember our trip to Charleston, SC, Chelsea's graduation, and she and Sarah both starting school full-time.  I'll remember it being the year I began leading the Light Bite Book Club at work and reading so much more adult literature.  And I'll remember this very lovely Christmas season.

In the new year, I hope to begin some new ventures.  I have the beginnings of what I think could be a fun novel, and I'd like to focus a good chunk of my creative time and energy writing this year.  I may have to squeeze it in first thing in the morning, before I get too busy and too tired to write during the day or in the evening.   I wonder if I have the self discipline to do it!  I also started at a new fitness club over the summer and I hope to continue getting stronger and eating more healthfully in 2017.  So even as the Christmas flowers are fading, the Amaryllis bulb is beginning to grow, reminding us that the new year is a fresh start, to make the most of each day, and that spring is right around the corner.

Happy, healthy New Year to everyone!