Monday, December 24, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things - Wee Home Tour

Anytime I hear the words, a few of my favorite things,  I hear them as the song from The Sound of Music.  I find myself humming it for the rest of the day.  So, as I decorate and prepare for Christmas I see my favorite things and the soundtrack begins to play in my head.

I haven't really changed up decor this year just tweaked things a bit.   I struggled this year getting started and then getting finished! lol  Let me show you just how off I was when I started.

Ummm...yeah, not quite right.  I would love to say that I fixed it right away but the truth is I had to do this twice to rearrange to the correct shape.  For years we have stored the trees fully assembled in My Christmas Place in the attic...but last year Wonder Hubby convinced me to take them apart (boo!).  Not sure I will do that again.

After assembling it correctly I stated to decorate and just couldn't figure out why it didn't look right.  Could it have been that I was using only 1 tiny box of decor and had forgotten the main box with 95% of the decoration.  Maybe.

I finally got my act together and finished my decorating (such as it is this year) so I thought I would share a few of my favorite things.

First up...this is what you see outside our home.  Mini's little house is foo fooed a bit.

Last year was the first year I did anything with the Mini's house.....added a bit of candy this year and have some ideas now for next year.

Welcome to our home.

One of my trees in the kitchen.  This is my Santa tree.  It started out as a tabletop tree and has grown over the years.

I painted this little guy years ago....still love to see him hanging on by a star!

 I made a half dozen or so of these guys...they were so fun!

 I have several okra Santa's as well as starfish and stars and blocks that I have painted.

This little guy is my favorite ornament that I have ever painted :)  I don't know why he has ended up on the Santa tree but this is where he hangs out.  Love him.

Maybe I have struggled with getting things done because I was distracted by this....

Mini wore this for a special event at my shop when she was in 5th grade...she is a junior now....see why we call her Mini!  Wonder Hubby and Mini....taking a break from decorating the family tree.

The previous part of this post was prepared last Thursday.

We now interrupt this blog post for a falling tree, no Internet and a Wonder Hubby with the flu for Christmas!
An hour of so after I prepared the previous part of this post Wonder Hubby pulled into our driveway after work.  As he came up our drive, he heard a loud noise, looked in his rear view window and saw a very large tree fall just behind him.  It was a VERY, VERY close call. 
The tree took out our power, phone and cable and did a bit of damage to the house.  Thankfully he wasn't hurt and as of tonight everything is restored.  The tree will have to be dealt with after the holiday.
Wonder Hubby was not feeling well on Thursday, so he skipped the 2 am airport run to pick up BDJ (I am too old for many more of those!).  By Friday he was feeling rough.  Saturday he was off to the doctor and had to go again today...he is fighting the flu.  I hate that he isn't feeling well for Christmas and hasn't felt well for any of BDJ's visit.  I am praying that he will feel well enough to be up for a while tomorrow.  In the meantime I am the Queen of the Lysol can.
Despite all the drama here, we have been enjoying having time together.  I have many more favorite things to share but due to time constraints, I will save those and share them next year! lol
Wishing you and your families a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mini's Debut - "Words of Hope"

It's official.....Mini's first article was published today!  I have been so excited all week I could hardly wait!  Mini was typical Mini and was completely laid back about the whole thing :) 
So here is Hope aka Mini with her new column "Words of Hope."

So, as promised I am going to try and copy and paste the 1st article of her column here....forgive me if I don't do a great job of it.  If you are local, please pick up a copy and let the powers that be at the paper know you appreciate this type of news.
It’s that time of year again! Beginning at exactly 12:00 a.m. on the day following Thanksgiving, America begins decking some halls and rocking around those Christmas trees. Everyone leaps into action to provide the perfect gifts for their loved ones and make their homes look festive. However, the true reason for the season often gets lost amid the hustle and bustle of Black Friday sales and holiday baking.  Christmas time is the time of year chosen to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. THAT’S a reason to celebrate!
The birth of Jesus is seen most vividly in Luke, chapters 1 and 2.  We all know the basics of the story. Three wise men, Mary and Joseph, and a baby that is swaddled in cloth are common icons of the Christmas nativity scenes, but do we really ever think about this story?
 Mary was a teenage girl, historically between the ages of 13 and 16, and she was engaged to a man named Joseph. An angel came to Mary and told her that she is favored and is to be expecting a baby boy who is the “Son of the Most High”. As a teenage girl, Mary had the faith to accept that she is going to be ridiculed and accused of things that were not true in order to deliver this baby. She had faith that God knew what He was doing, and trusted that He’d get her through the tough spots. She knew that becoming pregnant BEFORE getting married was a HUGE no-no, but she took on the challenge anyway. Even though Mary was “impregnated by the Holy Spirit”, people obviously weren’t going to believe that. She also knew that a certain Mr. Joseph wasn’t going to be too happy. In fact, Joseph tried to divorce Mary. Things got pretty tough! Thankfully however, an angel of the Lord appeared before Joseph and caught him up on what was going down. If you ask me, Joseph should have been filled in a little sooner, but what do I know?
As we come to the close of our story, Mary and Joseph were on the move when Mary suddenly went into labor. Since there was no room for them in the inns (you’d think they would make room!), Mary delivered Jesus in a stable and placed him in a manger. Finally, our Savior is born! The one who will tear the veil between heaven and Earth and bring us back to our Father is here! This, my friends, is the Christmas story.
As you can see, the Christmas story is not only important to remember the birth of our Savior, but also to remember the faith and trust of Mary. We all need to strive to have the faith and obedience that Mary had so that God can use us for a greater purpose. Even if we can’t exactly see what that purpose is at the moment, God knows. Obedience is key in order for us to grow even deeper in our relationship with Him. My absolute favorite verse to keep this in mind is Luke 1:38. This verse is Mary accepting God’s challenge. It says “I am my Lord’s servant. May your words to me be fulfilled.” Let us all remember this not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. Have a blessed Christmas!
Thank you all for letting me brag a bit.  We are just so proud to have been blessed with such a wonderful daughter.  I am thrilled that through this column many of you will come to know her heart as we do as well as hopefully lead you closer to God.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gingy Fun - Wreath Makeover

Over the past couple of years I have been drawn more and more to Gingerbread decor.  It just makes me happy to see all their little smiles and I am LOVING the bright colors added to traditional gingerbread decor.   

I started with a wee little gingerbread tree 3 or 4 years ago and supersized last year to a 7 ft tree.   This change required me adding additional ornaments and I wanted to add more gingerbread accessories in the kitchen.  On our recent trip to Gatlinburg we visited The Christmas Place (I seriously could live there) and I fell in love with a beautiful gingerbread themed wreath, but with a price tag over $200 I decided I could live without it. 

I made it two weeks and then the yearn for that wreath was driving me crazy!  Since I have literally no memory these days, I could remember only a few details of the wreath I had seen.   After a bit of hand wringing I decided to just have some fun and do my own thing.

I started out with a willow wreath I painted red (this much I did remember).  I knew the wreath had greenery tipped in snow (or frosting depending on your hunger level when you look at it) and 4 kinds of ribbon.  So the quest began for greenery and ribbon.

  I visted the usual haunts, Jo Ann, Michaels, and Jim Marvin Enterprises (a wholesale floral design company) and found NOTHING that was like what I had seen!  Ugggggg.  Don't you just hate it when you have something in your head and just can't find it!

After a week of searching I gave up on the ribbon quest temporarily and started looking for the greenery.  Since I hadn't seen exactly what I needed at the craft giants I decided to hit my trusty Goodwill.  I had in mind buying some random greenery or a wreath that I could dismantel and add to my willow wreath.  I checked the Christmas aisle and found zilch.  Frustrated, I started out of the store but happened to notice that each clothing rack featured a wreath on each end and as luck would have it, I saw a wreath with greenery that would be perfect.

The wreath was a half price item and I ended up paying $2.00 for it.  The wreath was loaded with a weird mix of items.  Dead lights, red velvet ribbon, tiny metallic packages, snowflakes and gummy candy ornaments.  I figured it didn't matter since I would be cutting the wreath up anyway.

Once I removed all the stuff on the wreath I decided it would work better than the willow wreath I started with.    I then added some additional snow/ "frosting" with some spray snow from Le Dollar Tree.  Wreath total now $3.20.
The wreath I had seen featured lots of gingerbread people and ornaments but after a couple of trips looking for just the right ones I gave up on shopping and started baking.

I haven't made salt dough ornaments in years and truthfully when I did make them with the kids they ended up quite thick (i.e. they weighed 5 lbs each).  So I dug out my old recipe and went to work.  If you have never made these, they really are lots of fun.
Basically, you mix flour, salt and a bit of water and bake.  I did add some cinamon and nutmeg hoping they would retain the aroma.  The aroma didn't hang around but it seasonings added a nice color.  I rolled them out to about 1/4 inch thick maybe a bit thinner.  Remember if you are going to use these as ornaments instread of "cookies" to make a hole for your ribbon.  I used a drinking straw and that turned out to be the perfect size.  These ornaments stick very easily, so you really have to baby them when moving to a cookie sheet.  I also lined my cookie sheet with a professional cooking mat (love that thing) but you can also use parchment paper.  My recipe calls for baking at 200 for 1 hr. but I ended up baking for 2 hours.  Halfway through the cooking time (sooner if you notice) the "cookies" may begin to curve.  At this point I flip them over and use a toothpick to deflate any bubbles that are forming.
As usual, I remember to take photos after the fact. I then base coated all the ornaments with a gingy color and allowed them to dry.

After the base coat.  Each ornament received its background color, tree for the trees, white on the candy canes, etc.  Then the fun began with the decorating.  I did all my decorating with paint simply because I love to paint.  You could use fabric paints, fake frosting and or any cookie decor.  I gave everyone a coat of polycrylic to finish them off.   I loved the decorating part...making dots is so much fun!

After days of working on these guys in starts in fits, I finally had enough for my wreath.  I drug out the glue gun and grabbed both Mini and her always willing to help me boyfriend and we went to work.  We had sweet boyfriend act as our wreath holder (he was really good at standing still, fyi)   First we put on the bow and the bow loops were scattered throughout the wreath.  Then one by one we added the cookies. Ugggg...this took patience and a bit of talent to glue them just right on moveable greenery.
Finally I added a couple of oversized Gingerbread people to the center.  

I love the way it turned out!  It just looks fun and it makes me smile every time I pass it on my way to the kitchen......and it was so economical and more importantly FUN TO MAKE!  Thanks for stopping by.

House on the Way

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We have received Tidings of Joy

I am so happy to be back to blogging this morning :)  It has been very hit or miss for the last month and a half and non-existent for a couple of weeks.  I am sure I am not alone in the saga of suddenly being out of storage for pictures on Blogger.  How annoying then frustrating!  I tried to figure a way around the upgrade because, frankly, I am cheap and was annoyed that this blog was supposed to be FREE! 

Once I finally bit the bullet and decided to just pay up, I kept having technical issues and couldn't get Google to accept my payment.  Grrrrrrrr....    I finally managed to overcome the Google monster (okay appease him with money) and have upgraded and am now free (so to speak) to blog!  Wooohoooo!!!

Today I want to share with you some wonderful news we received last night and to shamelessly brag on my daughter.

Our Mini is a busy girl, she carries a very heavy class load is a member of several civic organizations and has also been extremely busy with church youth group as well as being an Fellowship of Christian Athletes officer and a big part of Surge (a student formed group, Serving your God Everyday) at her school.   I really don't know how she accomplishes everything she does.  

  As we are nearing the midpoint of her junior year of high school she continues to toy with "what will I be when I grow up."  Smart girl that she is she has lots of options (lucky girl).  One of the things she loves to do is write.  She has actually won a national essay contest and loves any writing assignment.  She has considered some type of writing as her career.  Whatever she chooses to do she wants to remain focused on helping lead others to Christ.   Although I know there is always a big picture and that God is in control I still am amazed when I can so clearly see things fall into place.  Let me explain.

Early this week I stopped into the vets office to pick up some of that million dollar special dog food our ankle biter needs.  While I was waiting, I saw a newspaper on the counter that I hadn't seen before.  It is a new paper in our town and is very unique in that they focus on delivery positive  news about our community.  How refreshing is that? 

I picked up the dog food and the paper and headed home.  Later, I was taking a break and picked up the paper and read through it.  How nice it was to read about good things with our schools, community and neighbors in this world today.  As I folded it and started in lay it down, an ad on the back caught my eye. 

It was an ad from the paper looking for someone that had an interest in writing.  I looked at the ad and thought, "how cool but what would I write about?"  This line of thinking lasted about a minute! lol  At that exact time Mini woke up from a cat nap on the sofa and I handed her the paper and told her she might want to look at it. 

Within a minute she said "I'm going to do this, this is God using me I just know it."  "I am always looking for ways to reach more people and this is it," she continued.   What a blessing to know that this is where you are being led and to have absolute faith!  A bit later she reported that she had emailed the editor with some questions.   By the time she told me this (2 hrs later) she had already explained to  the editor that she wanted to do a faith based column that would appeal to all ages and had already submitted her first article for review!  

Within a day she received a response from the editor about how impressed she was with a person Mini's age being interested in writing seriously and how moved she was by the article.  Since she had requested 2 samples of Mini's work, Mini quickly sent article two.

I am so proud to announce that she received word last night that she will be published in the next issue (before Christmas with the Christmas article she had submitted) and she will have her own column!  That's right....16 and her own newspaper column.  I am pretty impressed and proud.   Her heart is so focused on God that I know she will continue to write in a way that moves many closer to God.

So, once her article has gone to print I will post it here and share.  In the meantime, thank you for allowing me to shamelessly brag and to share how God moves in our lives.  We are so blessed to such a wonderful daughter.    Wow...and to think Wonder Hubby and I were complaining about having to stop at the vet!