Thursday, December 31, 2009
In doing marketing research for my business, Tidy Brown Wren: bringing order to your nest, I kept reading about starting a blog. I thought , why not? So, in January, I wrote my first post and cautiously hit the "publish" button. Only my MIL read the post.
As if the process wasn't hap-hazard enough, we only had dial-up service at our home. After enough tears on my part, my hubs finally relented and we got high-speed Internet. Whoo-hoo!
I limped along, posting infrequently, for several months. Then, I discovered that my cousin, Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife wrote a blog. A really good blog. She also had a web design business called DCR Design. Wow! She was kind enough to take me under her wing and breath a little life into my sadly lacking blog. I love the design she put together and I'm still learning from her. Actually, I'm learning from all of YOU! I've learned about blogging, decorating, cooking, and living.
I appreciate all of your comments and feel like I've made many new friends. I wish a Happy New Year to all of you and I can't wait to see what we learn in 2010.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
First, I put my rolls of paper in and then I slide in bags, tissue paper, and flattened down boxes. I use pretty gift boxes to hold my ribbon. I roll each strand of ribbon around my hand and then slide it off, press it flat, and "file" it in the gift box. This wired ribbon can easily be unrolled and tied around the packages next year. Much of this ribbon has been recycled for 4 years now and it still looks great.
I use another gift box to hold package toppers. This protects the toppers from being crushed and broken.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
That said, I want to show you how I pack up my decorations. First I grab my empty bins from the garage and clean out any debris from them.
Next, I pack away my decorations in labeled ziploc bags. Sometimes I also use small gift boxes that will fit down into the bin. The bags and boxes keep things from shifting around in the bins as we haul them up onto the shelves in the garage.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The base of the birdhouse is a simple unfinished wooden birdhouse shape that we purchased at Michaels.
This gingerbread birdhouse was made by hammering a nail into the roof to make "graham cracker" like lines. We used puffy paint for frosting and mini pom-poms for a wreath. Heart sequins decorated the shutters and pre-made candy cane charms stand sentinel by the perch. This was our first attempt at making the ornaments and you can see that it is quite primitive. Just some red and white paint, a wreath made out of yarn and seed beads and a chipboard sign on the side with the family's name on it. Pretty simple.
This one is my favorite. A copper roof tops the stone cottage birdhouse. The stones are actually small pieces of leather glued on the wood and then we filled in around them with puffy paint as mortar.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
As you walk into our foyer remember to pause under the mistletoe and smooch your sweetheart. I made this mistletoe ball with my grandma 29 years ago.
Here's our tree. No two ornaments are alike. Most are memories of our life together. The base of the tree is surrounded by a 100 year old quilt made by my great grandmother.
Here is my snowglobe collection. My very first snowglobe is on the top shelf, second from the left. Only half of the liquid is still in it! (Stay tuned to see this shelf reinvented in January)
This is our nativity set. The figurines are from Hubby's grandmother. She purchased them in the 1940's. Written on the bottom of each piece is the price she paid for them - 15 cents each.
To prevent our stockings from catching ablaze from the fireplace, we hang them along the staircase railing. I'm still working on 2 little ones for my two grandsons.
I made these stockings with quilted fabric, cuffed with embroidered fabric. I sewed some vintage German seed beads onto the embriodered fabric and added an initial ornament to label each stocking. Vintage trim from Great Nana's sewing box created the hangers.
This little tree is one of my favorites. It has a little "something" from each of our Grandmothers. The birds are from Gram, who used them when she taught children's church when I was a child. The small blue balls are from Grandma's tree. They are so petite. The small lace is from Nana's sewing box. It is used here as a garland. The tree skirt is made from a wide piece of German lace from Oma. I also added photo charms of my children when they were little. My Grandma loved those little charms and always wore them on a necklace.
This sweet little ornament is too detailed for me to see it hanging on my tree. Instead, I place it on my kitchen windowsill to enjoy.
This is our fireplace. I can't place too many things around it because we have to remove most of the items to light the fire. The stocking above the fireplace is made out of metal and is fine to keep hanging during a fire.
I try not to go overboard in decorating my house, but I do like to add a few details here and there. I few pieces of greenery decorate the downstairs guest bath. I added a sparkly starfish to the basket.
Another piece of greenery and a sparkly shell add a bit of Christmas charm next to the sink.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of my simple, little house. I was a little too late to link up with Nesting place at thenester.com to share my home tour but pop on over to her blog to see some great ideas for holiday decorating.
Monday, December 21, 2009
My Aunt gave me a little book she found. It is no longer available to buy, but I wanted to share a few thoughts from the book. The name of the book is The Legend of the Christmas Prayer by Brian Morgan.
The story goes that an older gentleman wanted to give special gifts to those he loved. Not having a lot of money he thought of what types of gifts he could give that would have more meaning than a purchased item.
He gave a prayer for each of the twelve days of Christmas.
A prayer for:
Day 1: Joy in abundance and laughter. Laughter cures our ills and joy makes our spirits soar.
Day 2: A simple sigh as needed, for a sigh clears the heart as a cough clears the throat.
Day 3: Tears when you need them, for they clear the eyes to see and cleanse the soul to heal.
Day 4: Serenity because fights and wars start in individual hearts and that is where they must end.
Day 5: Wisdom in making choices.
Day 6: Patience to know that most troubles pass and success comes with persistence.
Day 7: Courage to face pitfalls and problems.
Day 8: Compassion to help others.
Day 9: Willingness to work, for work turns dreams into reality.
Day 10: Unwavering faith, for faith shapes our morals and our destiny and draws us closer to God.
Day 11: A mind full of hope for hope determines our attitudes.
Day 12: A heart so full of love that every day you must give some away to those whose paths you cross.
This book is a wonderful addition to your Christmas book collection if you can ever find a used one. It has beautiful illustrations and is well written. It is my prayer for you that you search for each of these gifts in your own life. We already have them, they just need to be dusted off and used. Christmas blessings to all of my wonderful bloggy readers. You brighten my day by commenting on my posts and sharing your ideas.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Homemade Play dough
2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
4 tsp. cream of tartar (found in the spice isle)
1 cup water
2 Tbl. oil (any kind of cooking oil)
red food coloring (the more you add the darker it will be)
1 tsp. mint extract
Mix all ingredients together in a large glass bowl. Cook for 2 minutes on high. Stir. Cook 1 minute. Stir. Cook 1 minute . Repeat until your finger pressed down into the dough comes out dry (about 5 minutes total). No play dough should stick to your skin. Beware, though, because it is hot! If you double the recipe you'll cook it for about 10 minutes total, stirring between every minute of cooking. After it is cool, knead it until smooth. Store in a plastic container or a Ziploc bag. It does not need to stay in the fridge.
You're final product should look like the picture below. The bowl looks really messy but it cleans up quickly.
To make Pumpkin Pie Play dough for the fall, substitute orange food coloring for the red and ground cinnamon for the extract.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Because I have a covered front porch, I love to put a Christmas tree up next to our front door. This poor little tree has seen better days (think Charlie Brown tree) so this may be our last year with said tree. All of the ornaments were either found at a thrift store or I made them myself. The banner above was found on a thrift store wreath. I pitched the wreath but kept the sweet felt banner that states "Keep Christmas in your heart".
I made these little votive holders from old jars and some wire. Some are canning jars that are chipped and some are pickle or olive jars. I wrapped wire around them to make a handle and added yarn and small beaded holly berries. I put battery operated candles in them and they are wonderful.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Years ago, when I first decided to get organized, I purchased the largest planner binder I could afford. After all, I was trying to keep up with three whole children. I wasn't doing a very good job at it, forgetting one at school and taking another to the wrong doctor. Believe me - I was bad. Over the years, I've slowly downsized the planner to roughly the size of a wallet. It serves me well for this time in my life. Thankfully, I became a better mother too.
In addition to a planner in my purse, I also buy a magnetic calendar to put on my fridge. I hesitated putting one on the fridge for years because I think it looks junky, but "junky" is better than "forgotten". Our whole family can look at the calendar and see what the other family members are doing each day. My husband can also check to see which days I'm meeting in client's homes so that he doesn't schedule the repair man for that day.
Once a month or so, my hubby and I sit down together and synchronize our calendars. We look ahead to events coming up and plan arrangements together. This has helped us to work together as a team, especially in the areas of parenting and finances. Sometimes we do this as part of a date. While we're waiting for our food to be served, we pull out our calendars and talk about what's going on.
When I get my new calendar I go, page by page, through my old one. Birthdays, anniversaries, milestones, etc. are all transferred into the new calendar. My husband does the same thing but he also lists monthly chores in his. ( Car inspections, changing batteries in smoke alarms, winterizing the faucets, etc.)
We've taught our children to keep a calendar for school and we were pleased when the school system provided planners for all of the students to help them learn time management. It's a skill everyone needs to learn.
So your motivation this week is to pick up your 2010 calendars. Pick out ones you love so you'll be prompted to use it more often.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I found this "JOY" stencil in my craft stash a few weeks ago and decided to design my card using it. I haven't stenciled anything in several years so I thought I would revive the craft this year. I forgot how much I like to stencil.
I put on Christmas music, hubby built a fire in the fireplace, and I stenciled at the dining table where I had plenty of room to spread out. As you can see, I stenciled silver paint on a piece of dark blue art paper (bought at Michael's for @ $2.00).
After stenciling 2 whole sheets, I cut around the stenciled design to fit on the front of my card stock. I also cut down 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of card stock in half to make my card base.
I buy my card stock in reams to cut down on the cost. One ream lasts me several years. In addition, I cut down a roll of bulletin board paper (from the teacher store) to fit just inside the front of my cards (5 x 3 1/2 inches).
I also used glue sticks, dark blue ink pad, and two rubber stamps.
Then, I topped it with my stenciled "JOY".
Inside the card, I stamped a Bible verse and a graphic.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I love the scuff marks on the toes.
I labeled the bottom of the shoes for each child. With a Sharpie marker, I wrote their name on one shoe and their date of birth on the other. I simply tied the shoelaces together to hang them up.
Every year, when I hang them on the tree, I'm reminded of the little, fat feet that use to fill them.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
My cookbook was published in 1979 and I could not find this recipe on their current website.
Refrigerator Roll Dough:
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup mashed potatoes (I make it with instant potatoes)
2/3 cup sugar (I use 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6-7 cups flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat flour sometimes)
Dissolve yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. (I use my kitchen aide mixer) Stir in potatoes, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth.
Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. (I usually add 6 1/2 cups gradually and use the dough hook on the kitchen aide at this time) If not using the stand mixer, turn dough out onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
If you're confused about anything in the recipe just e-mail me and I'll help you out. (email@example.com).
Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
After 2 minutes on high this is what they look like.
After 2 additional minutes this is what they looked like.