Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our House: Christmas Decor, Round One

      Today I am elbow deep in Christmas decorating.  I love doing it, and since this is the second year in our home, it is a lot easier this time around.  I have always loved doing Christmas trees, and John is gracious about it and allows/assists me to do several.  I finished two today, along with the mantle.

Picnik collage

Our Willow Tree Nativity - John's parents so graciously got this for us several years ago, and it is one of my favorite things to get out every year.  I feel that it is timelessly beautiful, and I am always so thankful they made that our Christmas present.


Picnik collage

Flocked bird tree in the entry way.  Some things I grow weary of, but this tree charms me every year.  The greens, golds and browns warm my heart.

Picnik collage

      Last year I jumped onto the decorative mesh train, and I am mostly glad that I am on it.  It certainly does give a lot of sparkle and pop, which I love.  However, I tend to shirk big trends and this seems to be super trendy, especially here in Little Rock.  But I like it for now, and it also makes an appearance on my living room tree which will make its blog debut tomorrow.
      I made our stockings a couple of years ago patterned after that ones that I grew up with, only with applique on top instead of cross stitch.  I keep meaning to add little jingle bells to the ribbon, but I haven't found the right size bell just yet.  You know, totally a first world problem.



I put up a tree in our bedroom.  This has all of our personal ornaments - we collect them when we travel, and we also have many of the ornaments from our childhoods.  So, it is pretty random, but I love it.  I had helpers with this one, which is why so many ornaments are crowded toward the bottom.  I left them that way.

Picnik collage

I am not sure how many ornaments will last through the season at the bottom of the trees or how many times I will have to tell Bella, "no."  We shall see how that ongoing battle will go.
      As we got out our Christmas stuff, I was thankful for several things.  1) John makes us put it all away in a very organized fashion with everything labeled, which makes it easier to decorate several trees.  2) We put the lights up in this special way, which makes it so easy to put them onto trees.


3) We have these little stomper things for all of our trees, so I don't have to reach down to plug them all in.  Does that make me sound super lazy?  Oh well, I am really glad I have them.


4) I am glad I am married to someone who likes (or at least tolerates) putting Christmas lights on our house.  Here is the diagram he made from last year.  ♥ him.


So, that sums up my first Christmas decorating post.  I am trying to finish the rest tomorrow so that we get maximum enjoyment of it all.

To see the rest of the decor, click here!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Friends: Life is Better with Them

      This morning I had the distinct privilege of spending time with some of the women from my Bloom group.  The church offered us childcare for a morning off, and we arranged it so that we could go and get pedicures together and then go do lunch.  Which was as perfect as could be, though we definitely missed the girls who could not be there.


      This is the second year that our group has been together, and it is such a blessing to know these women.  We have been able to go deep and pass through the shallowness that can often exist in small groups.  This morning we laughed about little things and talked about things that really matter to each of us, and I can see more of Christ through each one of these women.  He is real in their lives and more real to me because of knowing them, which is, I think, the highest compliment I can pay to them.  It didn't hurt that someone was rubbing my feet and making my toenails prettier during all of this or that the gyro I had for lunch was really tasty.
      On another subject, last night John and I really started decorating the house for Christmas.  We put up our nativity set, which I love, and it got me thinking again about how amazing Christmas really is.  I love all of the merriment and the frivolity that goes along with it, but last night, it hit me - Jesus really came here to be with us.  It all really happened.  The shepherds really got the news from a host of angels.  Jesus was born in a stable.  Wise men saw a star and traveled to see him.  I read this amazing blog post about it today that gave me even more of a sense of wonder and overwhelming joy to think of our Savior coming to give himself to us.  (I also read this blog post about the most tacky nativity sets ever that made me laugh.  I think the chicken nativity was my personal favorite.)
      This season, I want to be intentional about drinking in the real joy to be had.  I want to celebrate because of who Jesus is, and I want our family to see more of him during this time - not just eat more sweets, have more lights about and do more fun stuff.  Though, I really do love all the fun stuff.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Returning from a Parallel Universe and a Momentous Occasion

      Last night we returned home from our 5 day trip to Wichita.  We stayed at my mother's new house, which was delightfully comfortable - the bedroom we slept in had two giant walk-in closets that doubled as hidey-holes for our little friends who slept wonderfully in the dark, dark spaces.  We stayed up late and slept in til the girls started rousing around 8:30 each day.  We ate meals that other people prepared for us and had help with the girls.  John didn't work at all.  And neither did I, really - though my work sort of travels with us wherever we go.  I helped Laura plan for her January wedding, and John did stuff like attend a hockey game.  (side note: apparently the Wichita fans have been voted "most obnoxious" in the hockey league for the last 6 years.  It probably has something to do with the cheers.  One example: when the Wichita Thunder score, everyone cheers, and then starts pointing at the opposing team's goalie chanting "It's all your fault!  It's all your fault!" in unison, which they follow with, "You suck. You suck. You suck."  That would be a bit demoralizing, and it makes me glad that no one follows me around cheering when I screw things up.)
      John and I remarked in the car that it felt like we took a sabbatical from our lives, which is very nice while you are on the sabbatical, but there is a rude wake-up call upon returning from the parallel universe.  I have been getting that wake-up call today.  I realized that the Christmas parties we are hosting for CFA peeps are not a month away like I had imagined them, but actually next week.  How did that happen?  I am not prepared.
      On the way home, we took an ice cream break when both girls started crying.  It was a good break for everybody.  (Also, I wish we had Braum's in Little Rock.)


This may be TMI for some people, but we had a very momentous occasion this afternoon.  Lily got onto her little potty, and, lo and behold, something actually came out of her (only liquid, but it was a first for anything to come out).  We went immediately to Walmart and got the pony I had promised her - a little My Little Pony.  I told her to hold up the pony and smile.  This is what I got.


We may be on our way to being potty trained.  Or we may not.  I am not going to get too wrapped up in it all, and I promise not to buy a pony every time Lily pees.  Also, you may or may not notice that the girls are dressed the same two days in a row.  I do this when their clothes are mostly clean, and we are not doing anything particularly special.  I usually wear different clothes from day to day.
      So, we are back to life, back to reality.  But, it is Christmas reality and that is a lovely thing!

Night with the Lights and First Family Movie

      Besides eating, laughing, talking, game-playing, wedding planning and movie watching, we did a couple of other notable things while in Wichita.  Mom and Wes treated our family to "Illuminations"- a Christmas light event at Botanica Gardens in Wichita.  It was really beautiful and a pleasant evening to walk through the lights - though it was a bit crowded.


Here are my siblings and their spouses (or soon to be spouse in Laura's case.)  (my camera had a hard time focusing this night, which was a bummer, hence the blurry pictures)

Picnik collage

Our little family.  Hard to get a good picture when even John is revolting against it.  Glad he straightened up and pretended to be happy in that second shot, which is more than we could get from the girls.

Picnik collage

Mom and Wes.


Through the rainbow in the children's section.


Afterwards, we sat around eating popcorn and laughing, especially when John and Lily tried to catch it in their mouths.  (again with the lack of focus - bummer, but I still love the picture)

Picnik collage

We did the lights on Friday night, and on Saturday afternoon, we took the girls to see the Muppet Movie, which was their first movie theater experience.  We were a little wary of how Bella would do, but it went better than expected.  Mom and Wes and Aunt Ellen came with us a reinforcements, which was helpful.


Lily's reaction was about what we would have expected - she had a poker face, but seemed to enjoy herself and did not move or make a peep for most of the movie.  Bella was also about what we expected - she did well for the first 45 minutes while the popcorn and Sprite were flowing freely.  Then, she got antsy, and we took turns holding her near the exit in case she decided to start screaming.  She didn't, and after a while, we brought her back to the seat.  The best moment was when she decided using her hands was no longer necessary to eating popcorn and face planted into the tray of popcorn to eat it.  Awesome.  She also liked feeding John popcorn, which was super cute.


All in all, it was really a fun movie and good experience with the girls.  (notice Bella's lack of socks - I cannot get that girl to keep anything on her feet.  not sure what to do, especially since we are beginning to face bone-chilling temperatures.  she is not yet fazed.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"YOU are a Penguin Farm"

      Thanksgiving has come and gone.  Christmas is upon is.  How is that possible?  We have celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in Wichita, KS at my mom's new house.  So fun to have everyone together.  Here are the highlights, mostly in pictures.


There was a pancake breakfast on the morning of Thanksgiving courtesy of Mike and Ash (my bro and sis-in-law).  Chocolate chip pancakes are the best!


The guys played pool in the basement that Mom and Wes are going to finish soon.

Picnik collage

Aunts and Uncles are the best at entertaining little friends.


Mom and Wes with some of her siblings and their spouses.  They did a great job cooking and baking for all of us.


Then it was time for the serious partaking of a thankful feast.  With turkey being put onto Grandma's ceramic turkey platter.  I got a shot of brother's plate.

(love the uncle photo-bombing the sibling picture)

The girls have had a truly great time with the family.  At dinner on the first night, we were eating with all of my siblings.  Lily was talking about how her peaches were actually penguin meat.  Not sure where that came from.  My brother asked her, "Have you ever been to a penguin farm, Lily?" to which she retorted, "You are a penguin farm."  Oh, how we laughed.  Though, we do not want our child to insult people, it was really really funny.
      The bounty of what we have to be thankful for is overwhelming.  Thank you, Lord, from whom all blessings flow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies

      A couple of weeks back, Mom and I were talking about what I should bring home for Thanksgiving.  She requested the cookies I made several weeks ago and showed on the blog.  I decided to do different sugar cookies, because, what I am realizing about myself is that I am not a huge fan of doing the same thing over and over.  I like to try new things a lot.  So, here are the turkey and pumpkin cookies that I just finished.  (Kristin came over and helped me finish them!  Thanks!)


I originally saw the turkeys done by a friend, Alicia, and have wanted to do something similar ever since.  Turns out, they take a while, but I really like the results.  And again, after learning this amazing trick via Pinterest, it seems so easy to do a lot of different colors, without having to clean up a lot of stuff.  Hip hooray!  So, last night, I stayed up til 1:00 a.m. listening to Anne of Green Gables of audiobook and decorating sugar cookies.  I am super nerdy after all.  But, I do love Anne so much, and when I am listening to the books I start to feel that I think and speak a bit after the fashion she does.


I outline the recipes that I use in that post referenced earlier.  I "flooded" the body after outlining it, and then made dots of red, orange and yellow and drug a toothpick through them to get the "feathery" look.


The pumpkins were a matter of outlining in the brown and then flooding with the orange.  I also added edible orange glitter, and then did some green piping for leaves and little pumpkin tendrils that I feel like kind of bring it all to life.  I think Mom will be pleased, and they are yummy to boot!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Hogs Game Day in the Rock!

      Well, surprise of all surprises, John called on Thursday to tell me that he had won tickets to the Hog's game courtesy of Chick-fil-A.  (Again, insert praises of the most amazing company to work for!)  To be sure, the most surprising part of this story is not that John won the tickets, but that he won them because he was the first to reply to the email.  Because his inbox is sort of a running joke, everyone I have told of this has been amazed.
      Because game day is a huge day for our store, since our store is located less than a mile down the road and we have the privilege of feeding the U of A Cheerleaders and the Marching Band, John had to do some figuring out how they could do most of that without him, so we could attend.  But, he figured it out, and our gracious team served those guests mostly without him, and I was so thankful to get the opportunity to go cheer on the Hogs in person.  We are not necessarily die-hard fans, but we live in Arkansas, and that is all Arkansas really has to boast of, and they are having a fabulous season, so we were really excited to be there.  I also love doing stuff that is exciting for a lot of people, and Razorback games definitely qualify.  Thanks, CFA and John!


We sat on the 6th row, at about the 10 yard line.  There were a couple of Mississippi State fans in front of us who were pretty entertaining, but they vacated our area around the middle of the 2nd quarter, in favor of their fan area.  There was also a Razorback super-fan sitting in front of us who was decked out in Hog apparel and was listening to the game on an ear-piece, though we were at it and who also felt the need to tell the players on the field what was going on, since they cared to know.  He was a really nice guy, though and very well-intentioned.

Picnik collage

And, since the Hogs made a sweeping victory of it, it was a great game experience.  We left after the 3rd quarter so John could help deliver the marching band order and I could take dinner to our sweet friends who kept our girls - thanks, Kosses!
      Other than that, this weekend I have been preparing for Thanksgiving fun and just started looking at decorating for Christmas.  We got our stuff out of the attic last night.


It seems to be more than I remembered it.  I sure do love Christmas time!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two Little Turkeys

      Next week is Thanksgiving!  I am so looking forward to seeing family, playing games, maybe watching movies, laughing a lot, being thankful and, of course, eating a lot.  So much to look forward to - I think my little heart may burst from pure excitement and bliss.  In preparation for the great day, I made the girls turkey shirts, inspired by some like this that I saw on Pinterest.  I used Minky Dot brown fabric for the turkey, pinned the ribbon to the turkey body on the underside of it, and sewed all the way around it.  That secured the ribbons, and then I used the extra ribbon to make corker bows for the girls.


In the picture, Lily's shirt is covered with snot and drool from the crying fit about picking up her room after her "nap."  She is holding the yellow car that has inspired her to call every yellow car that we see in public "her car."  Bella is sucking that paci as if her life depends on it, and as you can see, with Lily's arm around her and them perched precariously on that step, it might.

Here is a close-up of the shirt.  I decided to do a non-traditional color scheme and was pleased with the results.  I cut a little piece of ribbon into a triangle and hand-stitched it on for the beak.  I burned the edges of all the ribbon I used with a wood-burner.  I think it is easier than using a lighter or matches.


Here's the bow.  I have wanted to try this technique for a while, and my understanding was that you got the ribbon to stay like this using fabric stiffener.  Well, they were out of fabric stiffener, but the kind lady in the fabric department who must have realized that a trip back the next day was not what I really wanted had pity on me and told me that it might work to use Elmer's Glue thinned out with a little water.  Perfect!  I wrapped the ribbon around pencils, sealed the ends, secured them with clothes pins and then painted them with the glue/water mixture.  I went heavy on the glue in that mixture, because I wanted it to work, and viola, I had little corked ribbons that I hot glued onto a clip!


So far, the shirts have held up well, even with a wash under their belts.  The girls are such snot factories right now that it would be out of the question to wear them without washing in between, so I am glad I sewed everything on.


      So thankful for these sweet girls and the ways they entertain and delight us regularly.  A new way of entertainment that Lily has found is when she is introduced to strangers, she has started sticking out her tongue all the way and wagging it from side to side while staring at them.  She must have gotten that from John and myself - honestly, I am not sure the best way to break it, and since people always laugh, she is getting a lot of positive reinforcement right now on that one.  Bella has become a screamer.  It is her primary means of trying to communicate anything from frustration, to sleepiness to excitement.  I am also not sure how to quell this development, though Lily tells her, "No, ma'm Bella.  We do not scream" - but Bella doesn't seem to get the message just quite yet.
      I hope your Thanksgiving plans are coming together beautifully and that you are spending time thanking the Good Lord for all of the good gifts that he gives.  It is really quite overwhelming at times.