Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Fresh Start

Happy week-in-between Christmas and New Years.  I trust that you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Ours was great... though something about it was different this year.  My daughter swears that it didn't seem like Christmas due to the fact that we didn't have one iota of snow.  Not one.  The grass is green, and the leaves have now fallen.  (It was an odd year for leaf-fall.  Anyone else notice that?)  Anyway -- snow is a Christmas-must for my daughter, so she was disappointed.

As for me, I have to agree with her about something just not feeling Christmasy this year, though I think it has more to do with events leading up to Christmas, or should I say the lack thereof?  Some years, we do lots of festive things during the Christmas season, and this just wasn't one of those years.  No complaints.  Just a statement of fact, as I honestly can't see where we would've thrown in one more "have to be there" item on the calendar.

I had a medical issue to deal with during November and December -- and am happy to say that all is well. I'll spare you the details other than to say that all the fuss and calendar-arranging over it kind of robbed me of the energy to fuss much over Christmas.  Once upon a time I would cover the house with Christmas, but I have learned to be more discerning, and only use what seems "right" for each year.  As in previous years, this year was more about little vignettes around the house, rather than covering every inch -- which ended up being a good thing, because...

The day after Christmas, my husband cooked us a fabulous meal of Chicken Parmesan with salad and homemade bread.  While we ate, he said, "How about if we start cleaning the carpets tonight?"  Now, cleaning the carpets is not MY THING -- so, I've learned to take him up on it at every opportunity.  We decided to go for it, doing the downstairs by thirds in each room so that there was still someplace to walk.  He managed to accomplish the task over a period of three days, even getting most of the upstairs completed, while the rest of us reorganized the house around dry areas of carpet.  What a good feeling to have it done!  As a result, Christmas got cleaned up, gifts got put away, and the house got a general tidying up!  Hip, hip.... HOORAY! Even our daughter (who hates parting with Christmas decor - especially the tree) could appreciate the fresh start.

There are still some Christmasy decor items scattered around, and I will whittle away at those as I have time.  There are no overwhelming tasks involved.

We enjoyed a wonderful Christmas season, and our security guard son was able to be with us for both Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day -- what a blessing.  I was prepared to rearrange our traditions, so that he felt like he was a part of the whole process, and not forgotten or left out.  But, he took it upon himself to work things out, without any pestering or pushing by me.  It made me realize how much he appreciates our traditions.

I hope that your Christmas was filled with the blessings of health and family time, with fresh air and free time, with PEACE and love, and with THE SAVIOR!

As we look to 2015,  my prayer is that:

  • I will prioritize the things that are really important to me in life, and let go of things that just don't fit.
  • I will use my time, energy, and resources more effectively and efficiently.
  • I will become braver about using the word "NO" in order to save some sanity at the end of the day.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that it is not MY JOB (alone) to save the world.  I just need to do MY PART.
  • I will look (more often/more naturally) to the Lord for guidance rather than trying to handle so much in my own strength.
  • God will use MY GIFTS in a way that allows others to see HIM.

Wishing you a blessed new year!  I'll be back sometime after school starts up next week... maybe sooner.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DIY - A Wrapping Paper Placemat/Runner

I mentioned this little "runner" HERE, but I wanted to give you some additional details.  Remember that I used a short roll of gift wrap from the Dollar Spot at Target?  The width was pretty close to the depth of my microwave -- which is what I was wanting to dress up a little.  Our microwave is on a cart, and the top usually has some kind of decorative display on it.

I cut a length of paper that seemed appropriate, and then I started trimming.  Realizing that I wasn't good at cutting the rough edges straight, I resorted to using the paper cutter that I use for scrapbooking.  I matched up the clean edges, folded the paper and trimmed the rough sides with a nice clean cut.  Then, I went one step further to make it a little more interesting... I fringed the edges!  I didn't measure, I just eyeballed it and snipped away -- all the way around.  And one last step... I messed up the fringe a little so that it was more obvious instead of just laying flat.

I love the look!  This could easily be done (fringe and all) for a table runner, or even many individual placemats!

What little decorative tricks do you have up YOUR sleeve this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

An Old DIY Ornament Favorite

So, this post has been pretty popular lately, thanks to the great linky parties that I linked up with three years ago!  At the time I shared this idea, I said to use either glass or plastic fill-able ornaments.  This many years later, I will tell you that I made my ornaments with the large, glass balls, and they are way too heavy for my tree.  I would highly recommend using the plastic ornaments.

The good news is that they sure are a pretty way to fill a large bowl.  Underneath, I have some extra gold ribbon as a nest-of-sorts.  It just shows through a little in a few places.

I added some pretty pine cones, and a glittered, silk poinsettia stem.  These Vintage Sheet Music Ornaments are still one of my favorite DIY Christmas ornaments.  If you need a last-minute idea, they are SUPER-easy, and you can find the directions HERE.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Glimpses of Christmas

My daughter just asked me if I had written a blog post lately.

"Nope," I said.  It's not that I've planned NOT to.  It just hasn't happened.

She thought about it for a moment and replied, "People probably think you've fallen off the turnip truck!"  -- which really made me chuckle.

Since our daughter was quite young, she got the idea of verbal "expressions," but she got this one all wrong.  I tried to explain to her that she was thinking of the expression:

"I didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday!'

which is the equivalent of

"I wasn't born yesterday!"

which does not mean the same thing as

"People will think you've fallen off the face of the earth."

OR saying that somebody has

"fallen off the wagon."

Did you follow any of that?  If not, don't worry about it.  It's just a long way of telling you that my daughter's words lit a fire under me, and here I am writing another post... finally.

So, guess what happened today?  The sun came out.  Really.  Our area isn't usually quite this gray in December, so this morning when the sun came out after SEVERAL really gray days -- well, I grabbed the camera just like I told you I would.

I feel like the decorations around here are a little half-hearted this year.  As I mentioned in previous posts, there's been a lot going on around here.  I've got one more afternoon of childcare tomorrow, and then I am home-free.  But life has been busy, and rather than stress out about what isn't done, I'm just letting it be.  For me, I'm just looking for some peace this holiday season -- not polished perfection.  Can I get an AMEN?  Let me also say that I salute those of you that have the time and ambition to "do it up big."  {And p.s., I have enjoyed touring your homes!}

MOVING RIGHT ALONG.  Sorry if I am belaboring that[above] point this year, but I am mostly preaching to myself that it's okay to keep it simple.  Thanks for bearing with me.

In keeping with simplicity -- I'd like to share a few Christmas scenes from around our home.  It felt good to take advantage of the sunshine this morning to get these shots.  EnJOY!

The weirdest thing happened this year.  I stocked up on candy canes -- specifically a brand that I've been buying for lots of years... cheap and delicious.  My daughter opened one to snack on, and it had ZERO peppermint flavor!!!  Have you ever had that happen?  Weird, right?  So, as far as my family is concerned... I purchased a Christmas decoration -- not a SNACK!  Oh well, fewer calories that way!

Simplicity :: A woven tray filled with pretty collections in jars and bowls.

I LOVE this silly little ornament.  I'm not sure if it's because that roof looks a little bit Mary Engelbreit-ish, if it's that glitter, or if it's a little bit of the Scandinavian looks that I love.  Each year I try to find a little place of honor for this gem.  Do you do that with favorite ornaments, or do they automatically go on the tree?

Speaking of little gems -- have you tried these Candy Cane Tootsie Pops?  They are awesome!  I happened to be standing behind a lady at Target who was purchasing them, and when I inquired, she really bragged on how delicious they were.  Hmmm.  She should know that she got me hooked! [as in "who cares if the candy canes have no flavor!"  LOL

This little scene [below] is atop my microwave.  Do you like the little runner?  It's wrapping paper from the Christmas Dollar Spot at Target.  I can't tell you how many times I have looked for that ever-blogged-about gold polka-dotted paper at Target.  No dice.  It's always GONE.  But I spotted this and just couldn't resist.  I knew I'd find something to do with it.  Hey - I might even wrap gifts with it! *wink

Thanks for stopping by to see my glimpses of Christmas!  May your Christmas Season be filled with GREAT JOY, remembering the REASON for the season -- Jesus Christ!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Life... an Occasion!

"I've been here, there, and everywhere," wrote one of my favorite bloggers, and I thought how lovely that sounded, and how I would like to write that to you and tell you of the places I've been that have kept me from being here.

But, in my case, that's only wishful thinking.  What's really been happening is that I have a few too many irons in the fire [plus, add a few "irons" that are only roadblocks in my own mind], a tad of allergy-or-something-crud that has been trying to beat me down for a few weeks, and we have been [until last Thursday] "one car down" from our usual parking lot -- causing us to be running here and there a little bit more than usual to accommodate everyone's work schedules.

I've got a few items that I really and truly just need to check off on my December calendar before I can move forward.  I have to say, this makes the rest of the month [and Christmas shopping] feel a little like the proverbial "other shoe" waiting to drop.

And then, a few days ago, when I least expected it (snuggled on the couch watching "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"), I heard this:

"Your life is an occasion.  Rise to it!"

Rise to it.  Meet the challenge, in other words.

So, I am really trying.  Also, trying not to let that "dangling shoe dread" get to me -- because that's not usually my style.

Baby steps.

The tree is up, thanks to my girl.  It is as lit as it's gonna get, and I'm good with that.  I am reminding myself - as should you - that comparison is the thief of JOY.  My house at Christmas is not now, nor will it ever be the same as anyone else's house at Christmas.  We each do what works for us, and at our own pace.

Right now, that = one lit-only Christmas tree + simple holiday decor -- and JOY. [*wink]  This year, I have really let the decorations lead me instead of me leading the decorations.  I used to decorate for Christmas by pulling everything out of the storage boxes and finding a place for it.  NO MORE.  Now, I only grab what speaks to me, and usually I have already planned a place for it.  I've been waiting for a bright-shiny day to take some pictures around here, but that just hasn't happened.  This week promises to be a little slower schedule-wise, and so I'm hoping for that sun.

In the meantime, I'd like to recommend these great blog posts by some of my favs.  They'll help you keep things in perspective  -- you know, just in case the season is getting a little out of control for you.

*When You Need to UnDecorate for Christmas

The show must go on. But at what cost?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thinking About Christmas Traditions

I remember, back in my school days, being asked to write about our family's Christmas traditions.  At the time, I was thinking of "traditions" as being big, ceremonial things that our family did year after year.  I kind of came up dry, and I think I hurt my mom's feelings when I told her I couldn't think of any traditions we had.  Truth is, I just wasn't getting an accurate picture of the word TRADITION.

Through the years, I've come to realize that a BIG part of my family's traditions revolves around food -- nothing that is particularly from our heritage in any way, but things that are just special-occasion favorites to us.  Some people plan a new menu each and every year to keep it interesting, but my family knows what we like, and what we like is cheese-ball and crackers, and sausage balls waiting as an appetizer when we arrive at Mom & Dad's.  We like our main course to be beef, and it wouldn't be Christmas without mashed potatoes!  As for dessert, Peppermint Patty Brownies are a favorite, and there are always frosted "cut-out" cookies.

I've also realized that one of the things I love about Christmas is bringing out all of the "old faithful" decorations.  Some people decorate in a different color scheme each year, but to me, a big part of our decorating is our "same old" tree with the mismatched lights and the family-made ornaments.  I can't imagine a tree with color coordinated balls, or something that "matched" our decor.  For me, decorating for Christmas has almost nothing to do with home decor, and everything to do with memories.

It took me a long time to realize our most precious traditions, and to bring the things I love into clearer focus.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?  Do some of them revolve around FOOD?

Do you have a favorite ornament that you can't wait to hang each year?

Is familiarity important to you around the holidays, or do you like all-things-new?

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