Got your party hats?

Saturday, December 31, 2011

We are so looking forward to a brand new year, are you? I think it's going to be a fun one. Jon and I have dubbed it our "break out" year.

No matter what, we always manage to have fun but honestly, for us, 2011 just had one too many stresses. We're all for bidding it adieu and kicking it to the curb.
Here's to a fun celebration tonight and a shiny, prosperous, healthy new year!

Thanks for reading along. You are the best!

Joy for every girl and boy

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lots to tell this week, but first, scenes from a Christmas morning.

Complete with carolers

Last minute flowers

Friday, December 23, 2011

The good thing about being a last-minute Christmas shopper is that most everything is on sale. Last night Jon and I went shopping and most of the items were a quick & easy find as well. There was only 1 thing that we couldn't find but made a suitable substitute. And because of the sales, we came in under budget. Me likey.
We even scored a deal on our tree because we were late getting that up to. There's a silver lining everywhere.

Poinsettia's were all discounted as well so I brought one home and plopped it into a McCoy thrift store pot. I felt bad that they were looking on the droopy side. Although I love red, which is one of my favorite colors, I decided to go with the creamy white/yellow. I figured if I can keep it alive all year, that color would work through all the seasons. Has anyone ever kept their Poinsettia all year?

Maybe if I get this pot, or create one like it, it might have more of a reason to live. Cute isn't it?

Wreath rescue

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I really haven't done much for Christmas by way of decorating this year. Time just escaped us. But we did put up the tree and opted for a smaller one this year so the ornaments would stand out a bit more. Next year I'm going back to a larger one since it is now overpowered. I said I wasn't going to buy any this year, but I lied. I bought a few.

I still need to get the kids their ornaments for 2011. I add one every year for each of them so that one day I can present them with their box of childhood ornaments for a tree of their own.

Since I didn't make a swag from the branches that we cut from the tree, I needed a wreath for the door. A quick trip to a thrift store did the trick. I picked up a sad, misshapen wreath for $3.00.

Aww, poor thing.

After de-thrift store-ing it, it looked good as new.

Using what I had on hand, I grabbed some ribbon, a pick that I use on Christmas packages and a pair of old child's skates that I bought at a flea market for a dollar.
After 5 minutes and a little tying here and there, I had a simple, vintage wreath.

The End

A weekend away

Monday, December 19, 2011

An anniversary weekend in DC...

On Friday night we went to dinner at the Rio Grande. Just Jon and me.

I was smitten with the oversized pottery there. Oh and the food was good too.
Saturday morning we bundled the kids up, hopped on the Metro and went to see the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington and to watch the changing of the guard. They were mesmerized. We all were.

Trae at the eternal flame where he jumped the chain and tried to make a beeline for the fire.
Saturday afternoon (our anniversary) we shipped the kids back to the hotel and Jon took me to the National Gallery and the Hirshhorn. I was in heaven. I had a perma smile the whole time we were in the Gallery. This is the only DaVinci in the Western Hemisphere.

At The Hirshhorn we saw the Andy Warhol Shadows exhibit. That was pretty cool too. Some of the other sculptures and art, we deemed, were done on some bad acid trips.

Afterward we went to a street vendor, ordered hot dogs and pretzels and toasted ourselves to 18 years.

Some others paintings I liked:
Snow in New York, American, 1902
Agostina, French, 1866. I love her.

Jon admiring some work. I love him.

The Beach at Villerville, French, 1864

The Bedroom, Dutch, 1658-1660
3 year-old view, American, 2011

Out with the old...armoire

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I am sitting amidst a ton of stuff.

I recently sold this armoire. Well, gave it away is more like it. Every craft item, fabric scrap and yardage, buttons, frames, vintage paper, other ephemera and memorabilia that was housed within it is now sitting on the floor.

I hated to part with it but after much consideration, I really didn't need it anymore. When I weighed what kind of family heirlooms really matter to me, it's not the furniture so much. I have other things that 1) take up less room and 2) bring me more happiness to look at, feel and remember where it came from and how my mom displayed or used them.

It will also be easier to pass those things along to my kids. And honestly, antique furniture will always be up for grabs. They seem to have about a 7 year cycle or so. But my grandma's candy dish she received as a wedding present will not be something that can be replaced. Those are the heirlooms that matter most to me.

As for the armoire, it has a new home in a Pennsylvania farmhouse getaway just waiting for guests to hang their clothes for a weekend's stay. And I couldn't be happier about that. Now all of the items that I have to figure out what to do with, well, that's another story.

Print away

Monday, December 12, 2011

An unusually busy week left me with little time to get to anything that I wanted to do. This week I am looking forward to actually bringing in some Christmas flair to the house. I remember when I used to bring out all the boxes after Thanksgiving dinner and we'd decorate all night. Time this year has escaped us.

I bought a wreath for the door the other day and when Trae saw it, he screamed, "Mom, there's a Christmas ring in the back seat!!" They are ready for the festivities to begin so I'm setting aside today to get things going. They are so patient with me.

I have lots to tell but Christmas decorating beckons. So in the meantime, enjoy this site of free printables! They come in rather handy, enjoy!

Advice to avoid, #1

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Right after I had my 1st baby, I was told that I should probably cut my hair to a short length because I wouldn't have time to get ready, much less tend to a long hair style with a new baby in the house.

I thought they were crazy.  And the thought of cutting my hair off gave me flashbacks to the time when there was a little miscommunication with a hair stylist I saw in 7th grade. She took my hair from "just over the shoulders" with those feathered sides to just over my ears, in a short layered look. Everyone said I looked like Paul McCartney.

Anyway...I wondered how in the world a baby could take up sooo much time that basic personal hygiene would be tossed out the window. It's not like a shower and washing & drying your hair takes hours upon hours. Start to finish - maybe 45 minutes, tops? And as I found out, there was always plenty of time to get ready for the day even without going short. And the baby - she just hung out with me, smiling and cooing the whole time and hummed along with the dryer.

So, avoid the advice that you'll never have time to get ready in the morning once kids come and you should cut your hair all off so you don't need to spend time on it. Not true. Some of your best hair days are yet to be.

The color of 2012

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tangerine Tango is the official new color for 2012.
I like it.
But I bought a big flower pin in Texas earlier this year in the same color
so credit goes to Texas for being ahead of the fashion game.

images: Forever 21 and H&M

When a simple project goes wrong

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So a simple, 30 minute project blew up in our face over the weekend. Does that ever happen to you?

I was at the computer finishing up some photo editing when Jon started looking in the tool/home improvement closet. Then a few minutes later he asked me to open the front door and up the stairs he came with the old bathroom sink and vanity. I thought this was super cool. I was going to have my nice, new vanity installed. I was glad this was going so quickly because I still needed to get ready for our dinner out with friends.

He called me in to take a look at the vanity and its placement. It was a go. So he began to drill into the wall, using the template left by the old cabinet. The vanity wasn't sitting right because nothing in this house is square so he made an adjustment and started to attach the vanity to the wall again. Suddenly, we heard a hissing sound as if we just disturbed a snake living in the wall. The sound was fairly soft and then became increasingly loud.

Our realization was reached at the same time: We just drilled right into the water line.

Jon bounded into the other room to shut off the water. Unfortunately when the room was carpeted, the door to the water valve was obstructed by the thick carpet. So Jon had to break the door to get to it. Finally it was shut off and we began to assess the new problem.

But in order to do that correctly, half of the wall had to come down. So while he made a trip to buy plumbing supplies at True Value, yours truly got to the demo. With every hit of the hammer against the wall, I was thinking that a labor intensive drywall project was now planned for sometime during my busiest week yet. Luckily, that thought restrained me from taking down the whole wall which I had ripped up and cleaned before he returned.

After a few hours of watching and helping Jon re-work the plumbing, I was finally able to get into the shower and to our friend's house by 6:45 so all was well. We told them of our fiasco and they told us theirs so we feel better that our boat has really good company.

Quick craft - sewing pattern bows

Friday, December 2, 2011

When I wrapped up the hostess gifts for Thanksgiving, I forgot to tie on the best part - the bow made out of old patterns. I love making these. Easy, easy.

And since I didn't think about a tutorial, really, I'll just hit the main points but you can see it's not hard. at all.

1. Go get a pattern. They're between .25 - .49 cents at the Thrift shop and there are always a bunch so go nuts.

2. Lay out the pattern and cut a portion down to the size of the bow. I double folded mine for extra fluff and made it 9X12 inches.

3. Fold it accordion style, however narrow or thick you want each fold.

4. Pinch the center and tie with a pipe cleaner.

I just used what I had on hand which was a ribbon but a pipe cleaner (chenille stem) works much better so don't forget those while you're digging around for patterns at the Goodwill.

5. Trim the edges. Here I rounded it to make it more of a flower but you can cut it into a point or trim farther down on the sides to separate more of it.

6. Gently pull out the layers and twist a little to create your bow and there you go - easy, inexpensive and completely custom.
Then, your friends will ooh and ah at your creativity. And they may even call for the "bow woman" to help them out over the loudspeaker at a department store.


Linking to Fingerprints on the fridge

Just a Girl

Today's creative blog

Color perspective

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've been studying color lately. Mixing and matching color is not one of my strong suits. I've even been reluctant to send in my color project thinking I should re-do it. Every time I look out the window and see the natural mix of colors that so beautifully play together, I remember I should just do the same. The palette is there already.

When I think of "earth tones" it seems that I automatically think of browns, tans, and blues which I really do like but then I came across this satellite image of the Dead Sea. It shows the dramatic colors that make up this region and gives a new perspective on "earth tones." Isn't it cool?

A humbled Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Last night after I picked up Jon from work, we went to Moe's to have a little date night. While we talked over our "Overachiever" tacos and chips & guac and all kinds of salsas, I remarked that the parking lot at the hotel wasn't very full. He told me it was a slow day all around with the exception of a few guest issues but nothing too exciting.

And then he told me of a guest who checked in for 30 days. He said she was really nice, just a very humble type whose husband seemed very kind too. I asked what she was checking in so long for. He said that she starts her first round of chemotherapy on Thanksgiving morning and then everyday for 30 days.

My heart sank. Suddenly, my little frustrations of the week seemed so insignificant. They are. And I have no reason to complain. Everyday between kids, jobs and other responsibilities, I have a list of places to be and people to see and I do them without even thinking about any obstacles. And when there are obstacles, it's nothing that I can't work around. Nothing that would sideline me for 30 days or more anyway. And if there is something that's getting to me, I know I have my family and a couple good friends to lean on and that's all I need. Really, for me, it just boils down to that. I could list specific blessings and thoughts on thankfulness but after family and all that encompasses, it just seems less important for me to do so.

I am just thankful for the everyday with them.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy your day!

A little of everything

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm here! It's been a really busy couple of weeks. I won't bore you with the details because I know that everyone is busy. I don't want you to think that I think I am the only one. How selfish that would be! So how are you all? I can't wait to take time tonight and read the blogs on my sidebar. I have missed catching up.

Some possibly interesting tidbits of the past week:

Blair lost her first tooth! Uh oh. Tooth fairy came! I had to go check...

I finally decided on a paint color for the kitchen. Let's see, that only took a year and 5 months and 30 paint sample pots.

I had a photo shoot marathon before the good weather went away. Crazy but fun.

The bank accidentally closed our accounts but reopened them when we went in to see what was wrong. Because of their mistake they gave us a cash bonus. Kinda like a signing bonus when you go into the NBA or something. It wasn't a million bucks but it wasn't expected either. We were really shocked and happy. Now if they could just straighten out our direct deposit we'd be more happy! It's still floating around in cyberspace...

I found a bunch of old maps, between 1939-1944, in perfect condition for 50 cents. Fitty. The colors are gorgeous. I can't wait to show you them. My first plan was to make cards. But after opening them up, I may not bring myself to cut them up. We'll see. I still have other ideas. One being plastering a wall with them as wallpaper. Yes, there are that many.

Ok, I'm off to Book club this morning. Have a good day!

Marathon sessions...

A real job - Veterans Day

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day.

Being a military service man or woman is a real job.

It's volunteering at its best.

Not just because there were no other options.

It's hard work and the "benefits" are not free.

They work long hours for those, often deployed or on TDY from their families for lengths at a time and yet they only make a fraction of what they should.

They can never complain or ever voice opinions on wars and tactics even when they want to because ultimately they respect their Commander-in-Chief, whomever it is at the time.

Spouses back home hold down the fort with kids and jobs of their own while thinking of their soldier every minute. It is hard work for them as well.

And some Veterans who were once young and vibrant, saved the whole world.

My uncle Rogelio was just a young 20-something when he was at The Battle of the Bulge and nearly lost his feet to frost bite. He was one of 4 sons that my Grandma Carmen sent off to WWII. They all came home to her only to have another son, Jesus, serve in Korea and be killed at age 19.

My uncle Gary was forced to march two weeks to Nuremberg after he bailed out of his crashing airplane and was captured as a POW. Meanwhile, his brother, my uncle Darwin, was on a battleship in the Pacific.

None of them spoke much about it. They were always humble and gave much praise to those they worked right beside.

I have a soft spot for our Veterans. They truly are American heroes.

Rollercoaster Roads

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

***Disclaimer: All children were buckled in their seats. There was no oncoming traffic. We did not exceed the speed limit on a stretch of road, only accelerated over a hill for the rollercoaster effect.***

A few weekends ago we were in the Maryland countryside. It was a lovely fall day as trees were bursting with color, perfect for sidestepping the highways and venturing into the country. We used to live in Maryland so it's always a little exciting to go back and play "Remember when" with the kids. I would often take the kids into DC on the train and hang out at the Smithsonian while Jon was at work. That's when we had 3 kids which seems like a lifetime ago.

As we made our way through the back roads, we drove on hilly country lanes which we have always dubbed "rollercoaster" roads. We drove the normal 45 MPH on the flat stretch but accelerated over the hills like we were on a rollercoaster (clear of traffic of course) and raised our arms in the air (except for the driver) and screamed, squealed and laughed. All of us.

It was fun as usual.

And then we went back to being normal.

Letters to our younger selves

Friday, November 4, 2011

On Monday I was able to work at a local Pharmacy to do some health screenings. It's a small town Pharmacy rather than a large chain but it has more of a Hallmark store feel to it.

It's just a little nicer than the average bear.

Because it was a slow morning, I looked around some aisles and picked up a book. It was entitled, "What I Know Now: Letters to my younger self."

I am intrigued by this kind of thing. When I was growing up I tried to make my mantra, "No Regrets" which in itself is a bit of a naive idea. But before I went in to anything, I tried to weigh the options in my head as well as potential outcomes. I hated to make mistakes and wanted to save myself from some. That thought process saved me from some mistakes for sure but I was still allowed to throw caution to the wind hoping I was doing the right thing. Inevitably there were a few regrets and unfortunately I still have some but that's life I guess. At least it makes me able to give my kids advice which I hope they find valuable some day.

I have compiled much for them. I quickly learned after my mother died that I still crave her insight and wish I had something to refer to. So I am doing that for my kids.

In the aisle I perused the book, going right to the letters that powerful and successful women wrote to their younger selves. I only read a handful but they contained some interesting advice and got me thinking on what advice I would have given my 20 year-old self. It also got me thinking on what I did right as a 20 year-old and writing a letter congratulating myself on choices then that I might not have the courage to make now. You know, I always see the more optimistic angle.

Have you ever thought about what you would say to your younger self?

Either advice for the future or congratulating the past.


I found this write-up on Amazon:

"Today show correspondent Ann Curry writes to herself as a rookie reporter in her first job, telling herself not to change so much to fit in, urging her young self, “It is time to be bold about who you really are.”

Country music superstar Lee Ann Womack reflects on the stressed-out year spent recording her first album and encourages her younger self to enjoy the moment, not just the end result.

“Your hair matters far, far less than you think,” is the wry advice that begins the letter bestselling mystery writer Lisa Scottoline pens to her twenty-year old self.

And Maya Angelou, leaving home at seventeen with a newborn baby in her arms, assures herself she will succeed on her own, even if she does return home every now and then.

These remarkable women are joined by Madeleine Albright, Queen Noor of Jordan, Cokie Roberts, Naomi Wolf, Eileen Fisher, Jane Kaczmarek, Olympia Dukakis, Macy Gray, and many others.

Their letters contain rare glimpses into the personal lives of extraordinary women and powerful wisdom that readers will treasure.

Wisdom from What I Know Now:

“Don’t let anybody raise you. You’ve been raised.” –Maya Angelou

“Try more things. Cross more lines.” –Breena Clarke

“Learn how to celebrate.” –Olympia Dukakis

“You don’t have to be afraid of living alone.” –Eileen Fisher

“Please yourself first…everything else follows.” –Macy Gray

“Don’t be so quick to dismiss another human being.” –Barbara Boxer

“Work should not be work.” –Mary Matalin

“You can leave the work world—and come back on your own terms.” –Cokie Roberts

“Laundry will wait very patiently.” –Nora Roberts

“Your hair matters far, far less than you think” –Lisa Scottoline

“Speak the truth but ride a fast horse.” –Kitty Kelley

Little chickens and candles

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In another week I will have my washer back. I have never been so excited to do laundry. Honestly, I don't mind the laundromat but with the cooler and unpredictable weather, I'd rather not lug around 5 loads of laundry in the rain and snow. This will free up some time for us.

When the repairman came over and into the garage he said, "Wow, you have a lot of nice antiques in here."

I think I should start selling some. When I visited my mom in Logan, UT, we'd go to an antique shop that was right out of some one's garage. I could do that. Only it wouldn't be just antiques. I have a whole plan. I always have. I had a candy store for my family out of my bedroom when I was about 7 years old. I put a table in the doorway and sold all kinds of candy and gave no family discounts, ha.

So back to the garage... I unearthed my mom's antique candelabras. I knew they were there but just hadn't had time to get them. So I pulled one out and polished it up and put it on the dinner table.

Later that day I made Cornish game hens. When Reese walked in for dinner, he said, "The table is so pretty" and as Blair sat down she said, "It's like we're rich with these little chickens and candles!"

Table touches

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Here we are in November. This is when I start looking through magazines and books to pull together all kinds of different recipes that I want to try. I never get to them all but occasionally there is something new on the dinner table. Honestly, I just don't love cooking enough to get through them.

I am more into setting the table and having someone else cook. That works out for us since Jon likes to cook more than he likes to set the table. And besides, he is the better cook. So until I narrow down the recipes that I think I can handle, here are a few easy table ideas...except the first one, that will take a little work but the others are easy if you just take a nature walk.


image HGTV

All images courtesy of BHG unless otherwise stated