Thursday, December 20, 2012

Free & Festive Decorations

Want to add a little Christmas cheer to your home? I've got an idea to share that didn't cost me a dime.  I was able to use all materials I had around the house and in the yard.
Now of course this isn't an origional idea.  I saw similar arrangements in some pictures I saw on the internet while researching Christmas decorations. I'm sure I've got something pinned on my Holiday Happiness Pinterest board if you are interested.
Okay, let's get started. They were really simple to put together.
First of all, I braved the frozen tundra of our back yard to harvest a few pine boughs off of some of the trees in our back yard.  They needed a little pruning anyway.


Then I gathered up a few of the vases that I had decorating the top of my kitchen cabinets.
I also grabbed some holiday colored ribbon and some twine.

Snip the boughs to appropriate lengths. With a little careful placement and the addition of some fake red berries, you have a nice holiday styled arrangement.

I made three different arrangements to place around the kitchen and dining area. 
They pack a big holiday punch for a tiny bit of cost and effort.
It's not to late to make one for your home.
They would also make a nice hostess gift for some of these holiday parties you'll be attending.  

Add a little jolly to your holiday with these natural arrangements.
Happy decorating!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tis' The Season

I wanted to share a little glimpse of what Christmas looks like at our house. 
We've broken out our Christmas mugs, 
and gotten out the ornaments.
We've got the Christmas music playing on the radio and the nativity has been unpacked.

We have unpacked all of our decorations. 
Here is one of our treasures.  This is Hunky Hubby's stocking from his childhood.  His mother commisioned this stocking to be made for him and I believe there is one similar to it for his brother and sister.  I can't imagine the hours it took to hand bead this entire stocking. It's full of ornate images of trains, fish, ducks, blocks, and more.  I really need to find a way to preserve this family heirloom.  I think a shadow box may be in order.

As a part of our family tradition we usually go and pick out our tree shortly after Thanksgiving.  Living on 12 mostly forested acres, we have the privilege of choosing a tree off our property. Usually we have to take the top of a mature tree seeing as how we don't live on a tree farm or anything.  Incidentally, I believe that Wisconsin is the largest Christmas tree grower in the nation. My one request for our tree this year was that it be tall and skinny.  I think I got what I wanted.

Hunky Hubby always gets the job of putting the lights on the  tree.  It's his honor really. 
I'm sure that's how he views it.  
We decorate the tree while sipping on a mug of hot apple cider. This is a tradition we have started in the last couple of years thanks to our good friends
the Cooks whom we press cider with in the fall.
We keep it in the freezer, always saving a gallon just for tree decorating day.  It adds the perfect smell and flavor to this part of our holiday.

The kids get so excited about decorating the tree.  I love watching them.  I really tried hard to relax about the process this year and let the boys take the lead on putting the decorations on.  However, it's really hard to relax when they are scrambling up and down a 8 foot ladder with fragile ornaments in their hands.

This year,the newest members of our family,
Bleu and Chipper, had to join in our festivities as well.

It seems that they gave their stamp of approval to our tree.

Each family has their own traditions, and we love ours.  They are part of what make our holidays so special.  The anticipation of the expected.  The opportunity to repeat something that only takes place once a year. Traditions pull us together and keep us focused on family during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Oh, and when it comes to the holidays, flexibility and ingenuity are a necessity.  Like when you need to hang the candy canes high up on the tree, but the 8 foot ladder has been put away.  You do what you need to do.

Whatever it takes to get the job done.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
I'd love to hear about them.
We may want to add them to our repertoire.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

To Whom Much is Given

Here are a few photo's from our Thanksgiving celebration.
I think this is the first time I cooked the bird in my own home. I still had my mom to help me though.
Even though it would be an intimate dinner for 7, I wanted to make it special.  So I went to Pinterest and found these cute owls made out of paper sacks. 
I thought they would make cute place cards.
I put the boys, and my friend Megan, to work.
I think they let her do all the hard stuff.
It's really hard to teach chivalry.
Is there chivalry when it comes to cutting and pasting?

Seth had his duties, and Tate had his. Between the two of them, they finished them up. Although it's a good thing they had al day.

They were a pretty easy craft and they were made with things I already had on hand.  Considering how long I had  all of the supplies, they were basically free for us to make.
I think the little guys helped make our table look festive. I don't do center pieces. Although pretty, they are also annoying. Either you can't see the person across the table, or there isn't enough room for food.  I am a firm believer that people only do center pieces for magazine pictures and for those dining rooms that are always set but never used.

Since Wyat's cutting skills aren't up to snuff for circles yet and he needs to be monitored when glue is around, I made him my assistant baker. He strapped on an apron and had a ball mixing,
and licking.
I figure that's half the reason you bake things in a hot oven. So it kills the bacteria.

This is my favorite. Just look at how cute he is, concentrating on getting the crust just right.

 We made a Walnut Streusel Pumpkin Pie that was a hit with the hubs, and not too complicated. We also made another dessert, because pumpkin pie makes me gag.
We made this beautiful Peach-Blueberry Crumble Tart.
It was YUM!
I got both recipe's from the Oct/Nov 2012 issue of Taste of Home Magazine.
I like that magazine a lot, but I like it's sister magazine Simple and Delicious even more.

Even though I'm the only person that gags on pumpkin pie, everyone wanted to try my dessert too. So I only got one piece. Don't feel sorry for me though. It was a good piece.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
I love that it hasn't been commercialized and we get together simply to enjoy one another's company and to express our gratitude for the year behind us and before us.
There was such abundance at our table.  Not only an abundance of food, which we had more than enough of, but family, health, love, joy, God, and so much more.
I couldn't help but think about those around the world who don't have as much as I do.  Those who would do almost anything to possess what I too often take for granted.  Those who, if were allowed to sit at my table would have gorged themselves sick on better food than they have ever eaten in their life. Or those who would have been sickened by what we throw away after we are done. Those who would have sat in tears at the opportunity to join hands with family.  Those who don't know the love of Christ.
I have so much.
The Bible says "Everyone to whom much is given, of him much will be required." (Luke 12:49)
I have been given much.

I need to give much. 
We all have something we can give. Whether it's a kind word, money, companionship, food, love or help.  There is some way we can give of ourselves, our time, our resouces, to another.
I'm going to spend this year praying about what God wants me to give.
And then I'll pray for the strength to do it.

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