Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The First Gift of Christmas!

Remember Santa calling out those words in the movie "The Polar Express?"

I received my first gift of Christmas on Monday evening.  I was surprised to receive a phone call from my friend, Marie - asking if she could stop by.  I put on a pot of coffee, and eagerly anticipated her visit.  Unfortunately, it seems that lately our paths head in opposite directions - and so any opportunity to get together is welcome.

A short while later, she and her lovely daughter appeared at our front door with this sweet gift.

Not just the origami paper tree.
Not just the ball ornaments.
But a tree filled with both!

I mulled it over in my dreams, and found the perfect spot to put the tree.
And then I started collecting things from the Christmas boxes and drawers.

A snow man for height.

A red plate.  Used for birthdays during the year, we often bring this plate out at Christmas as well.  It reminds us of our worth - because of Christ.  Because of the baby in the manger. The one we celebrate.

A glass cookie jar with a red lid.  I filled it with cookie cutters, a small "JOY" cross-stitch, and Christmas ornaments from forgotten places.  These ornaments don't have sentimental places in our hearts, and so I felt they were "up for grabs" for a project like this one.

Back in September, I found this great little Christmas-red crock, and thought I'd save it for a Christmas Project.  Today, I filled it with gold ball ornaments and a glittery poinsettia.

And lastly, I used a favorite Christmas dishtowel as a tree skirt.

The final vignette.
All inspired by that
sweet origami-filled tree.

Thanks Marie!

Good Life Wednesdays
The Lettered Cottage

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey (& Stuff)

How was your Thanksgiving Day?  We enjoyed a quiet lunch-time meal with my parents. As in every previous year that I've cooked a turkey, the "red button" popped early, and I made a call to my mom with the code words, "The eagle has landed!"  That means: if you haven't left home yet, come ANY time, because the bird is ready!

We enjoyed a feast together using Gram's turkey platter, and serving dishes.

It's been the tradition at our house, that whoever comes for dinner (which is served close to the lunch-hour) typically stays for the afternoon to visit and play games.  This year, we enjoyed a challenging game of the Cleveland version of Monopoly, which is always... interesting (I am SO NOT a Monopoly player).

Sometime around the dinner-hour (or later) we get out leftovers and some new snacks. This year, some church-friends joined us for great conversation, a few rounds of Taboo, and some yummy snacks (including but not limited to Black Bean Salsa, Shelby's Pumpkin Roll and m&m pretzel kisses).

It was a lovely day.  Of course, at the end, when everyone had gone home, I realized I had taken all of the photos, and not one had been taken of me.  I asked Shelby to grab the camera and snap a couple of pics -- even though I was already in the cleaning-up stages.

We made great memories this year.
What are YOUR favorite memories of the day?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Gift Exchange

The Christmas day gift exchange with my family includes eleven people.  My family of four usually arrives first at my parents' home.  If the gifts aren't already organized, my daughter helps sort them and put them at each person's seat.  We then add the gifts that we brought to the individual piles.  Later, when my sister arrives with her family, they do the same.

For many years now, we have taken turns opening our gifts.  That becomes a pretty long afternoon for eleven people.  We go in order of youngest to oldest. So it goes:

Noah   Sam

Shelby   Tyler   Mike

Jill    Kevin    Sally   Nancy


and we start all over again...  Believe me, each person knows the line-up.  In particular, they know who opens a gifts before it's THEIR turn!  Well, you know, we like to keep things moving.

While we open gifts, Christmas dinner continues to cook, and at some point, my mom heads to the kitchen to "start the potatoes."  We usually slow the gift-opening so that she doesn't miss anything.

The exchange continues until every last gift is opened -- all except the stockings that is.  My mom has a stocking for everyone hung on the mantle.  All have been made (or embellished) by Mom herself. Each one is a treasure.  We save those for after dessert.  We all make our way back into the living room, into our original seats, and dig out little goodies that Mom has collected for us. There usually aren't any "pricey" gifts in the stockings -- though we've had a few surprises over the years.

I treasure this time together with family.  It is slow, and purposeful, and everyone gets a chance to see what everyone got, as well as what everyone gave.

I'm linking up with Heather for Life Made Lovely Monday.
What makes your life lovely?
Come join the fun!

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Vehicle Makes Sudden and Frequent Stops

One day on my list of One Thousand Gifts, I wrote this:

12. my sweet hubby bringing home goodies (today: strawberries)

Like the sign says, he makes "sudden and frequent stops" (he really should have a bumper sticker that says so).

On Saturday, he brought home apples (with which he made applesauce), raspberries, and the biggest blackberries that you have ever seen.

On Monday, he came home with:
*  2 bags of candy corn (obtained very inexpensively)
*  1 "Cleveland Indians" box of tissues (for a special nephew)
*  An 8GB iPod Nano (third generation) for ME!
*  And a pair of ear buds (which apparently are the good kind - with sound control - because my son already wants to make a trade)

Which goes to prove that you just never know.

And begs the question:  Just where DOES he go on his lunch hour?

The end.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Psalm 95:2-6

"Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Just Turn the Socks Right-Side-Out for Crying Out Loud!

How many of you wrestle with things on a daily basis?

Really big things, life changing things,
some things in the middle that are still important,
and then some little piddly daily things.

On the "things to be wrestled with" scale (I'm sure there is one), this one comes in as very piddly.  And yet -- I wrestle with it repeatedly (small as it is), and so I thought it might be worth mentioning.  You know -- to see if I am alone, or to see if anyone else can relate... at all.  (Back me up here, people.)

I will not turn this family's socks right side out one more time.
I will not.  Not before washing. Not after drying.
Not before putting away.  Not.  Not.  Not.
I will not.
[I totally see a Dr. Seuss book in my future, BTW]

And then a still small voice that grows a little louder every day speaks in my head:

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  (I Cor. 10:31)

So, really?  When I'm doing laundry?  Specifically, when I get to those darn socks?  WHEN I AM TURNING THOSE SOCKS RIGHT SIDE OUT, I shouldn't be frustrated with my family, but rather should be consciously doing this --even this-- to the glory of God?

And then, I hear more: 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men..."  (Col 3:23)

That's pretty clear, isn't it?  In working for my family, I am ultimately working for the Lord. That begins to change my perspective.

Turn the socks right side out.
Before the washing.
Every time.
Don't worry about the family lessons.
Or when/if they will learn.
It's more important that they see Christ in everything I do.

That might be stretching it a bit
(to think that my family sees Christ in everything I do...).
But... I'm working on it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Red and White

For some reason, all things red and white are planting themselves in my line of vision this holiday season.  What a beautiful fresh look red and white are together!  I'm trying to figure out WHERE I can use this color scheme in my house... since it goes with absolutely NOTHING around here (sad face).

I'm bound and determined though...  Check out some of my favorite pins:

Welcome Sunshine Home

And last, but certainly not least (yum yum),
Check out this pepperminty goodness.


What's YOUR color scheme for Christmas?
Do the current trends influence you?
Do colors schemes matter to you at Christmas,
or do you prefer mismatched memories?

Whats YOUR philosophy?
Crazy About My Baybah

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great Gobbling Gratitude!

Wow, so did you feel that shift?  All of a sudden I'm posting on the far end of the day instead of scheduling my usual 12:01AM.  No, you didn't feel it?  Well it feels a little strange to me, but I'll go with it since it's Thanksgiving week and all, and I'd like to get a post done about my

Thoughts of Thankfulness
91.  Dad and Mom will be home Monday
91a.  re-do:  I'm thankful that Dad and Mom are safe (and together, ha!) for an extra night in Paris due to missing a connecting flight from Paris to JFK
92.  a productive shopping expedition with my girl - stocking up for "the meal"
93.  the bird - which will thaw in time
94.  the anticipation of cinnamon jello salad and pumpkin roll
95.  my decision to shop on Monday morning rather than Sunday afternoon (thanks Jill!)

96.  my best girl - who is also my best motivation many days
97.  that I could say, "we've been where you are & God WILL provide" to an old co-worker who is currently unemployed
98.  a new and more challenging job for my brother-in-law
99.  warm banana muffins (why am I always thankful for food?  =))

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sentimental Christmas

Do you look forward to the holidays?  Do Thanksgiving and Christmas always evoke good memories for you?  Or, do you get overwhelmed and stressed out?


I'm somewhere in the middle of all of that.

I have only good memories of the holiday season growing up.  Only. Good.  My Gram always insisted on getting a wish list from all of her grandchildren.  She loved giving gifts, and her goal was always to get us exactly what we had wished for.  Seriously.  Ask any of her grandchildren.  We didn't necessarily get EVERYthing we wished for, but what we got was 100% spot on!

Heirloom ornaments that belonged to my great grandparents
~ given to me by my parents.

I remember shortly after getting married that Gram asked my hubby to make a little Christmas list for her.  He did not come from a family of list-makers, and was totally at a loss.  Remembering the Thanksgiving that we had recently hosted, he asked for an electric carving knife - so he could be the "host with the most" in future years.

Suffice it to say that my Gram was disgusted with his wish.  Seriously?  You can't think of anything more FUN for me to buy you than an electric carving knife?  She was in the happiness business.  She always wanted everyone to have exactly what they wanted -- but an electric knife?

I think of that story every time we use our electric knife.  (She gave in.)  Nineteen years, and going strong.

But I digress (sort of).

I was thinking of the list-making to make a point.

My family made lists.  Some people think that's greedy.  My hubby's family did not make lists.

My family always served the same foods.  Some people think that's boring.  (Let me tell you, when it's Christmas day, and you're having a dinner filled with all of your favorite things that you haven't eaten in, say, a year -- it's NOT boring!)  My hubby's family does not always serve the same foods.

My family always talks about our plans for the holiday far in advance, even though we'll do it just like we did it last year.  Some people think that's not spontaneous enough.  My hubby's family does not discuss things in advance.

Neither is right or wrong... just different.  Sometimes those differences cause a little stress in my life.  When it comes to the big parts of Christmas, I don't like surprises.  I like to know what I can count on.  Sure, there may be a new concert along the way, or a tree festival. Maybe a shopping expedition to someplace new...

But don't mess with Christmas dinner, ya know?  The things that I'm most sentimental about are the things that we've done year after year without question.  The older I get, the more I appreciate these things!

Sit Relax and Read

Friday, November 18, 2011

Project Pinterest: Vintage Paper Chain

When I saw this pinI was reminded of the paper chains we used to make as kids to adorn the family Christmas Tree.  We made them out of strips cut from leftover pieces of Christmas wrapping paper.

You might remember THIS POST where I used pages from an old hymnal which I decoupaged onto an unused melamine plate -- turning it into something completely new.  I still had LOTS of pages left in the hymnal.  Don't you know it was the first thing I thought of when I saw this paper-chain idea on Pinterest?

So, I played around a little bit, and here's what I ended up doing...

1.  Cut the hymnal pages into strips a little bit more than 1" wide.

2.  Scalloped edges on both long-sides of the strips using decorative scissors.

3.  Adhered the strips end to end with Therm O Web Mounting Squares.

4.  Since my scallop-scissors were a smaller scallop, I didn't think it would look good to punch a hole at every scallop.  My paper is way too fragile, and I thought placing the holes that close together and along the edge might lead to tearing.  So, I just experimented with my own pattern of holes, and ended up with an all-over pattern...

...resembling dotted swiss.

I'm still working on creating links so that I have a substantial length of chain.  But, I have to say, I'm happy with the results.  I picture the chain either on our Christmas tree, or incorporated into a decorated spot where there are twinkle-lights.  I love the way the light shows through the punched holes.

What Pinterest Project have you experimented with?  Link up!

Here are the rules:
1. Decide which pin on Pinterest you’d like to recreate.
2. Create it!
3. Flop or success, create a blog post about your re-do and include the original pin’s url.
4. Add the Project Pinterest button to your post so others can join in too!
5. Link up and check out other bloggers’ posts!

Linking with Jennifer Rizzo for the Fabulously Creative Friday linky party, and: 

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