Monday, November 29, 2010

Pine Cone Wreath

I've been busy putting the finishing touches on Christmas decorating (and digging out from underneath the messes of a rather busy Thanksgiving weekend!).  Getting ready for the Christmas tree always results in rearranging, putting certain decorations away for the time being, and all that jazz.  It is not uncommon for Josh to return home and find furniture located in all sorts of different spots. ;o)  And then I end up blank spots that need a special something--in this instance the doors looked kind of naked--so I decided to make wreaths.  At first I was desiring some boxwood wreaths.  After much research I realized that it wouldn't make a difference if I went the real or fake route--those wreaths are kind of pricey.  Then I noticed the cool wreaths that Ballard sells.  Regardless of the size ($29 for 12 inch, $99 for 24 inch) that's just not a cool price. ;o)  But yay!!! These are very easy to copy.  I used white pine cones I had gathered last year (the big ones) and some small spruce cones I found this year, hot-glued them around a 12 inch grapevine wreath, dry-brushed the tips of the cones with white paint and then sprinkled a fine glitter over it all.  The end result:
A 12 inch wreath for around $4!
Mine isn't as free-form as Ballard's, but I love it just the same.  In fact I've made two so far--they're kind of addicting!  Oh--that burlap I hung it with on my door?  I was admiring Ballard's burlap ribbon, but again, can't really justify the price, so I just snipped the correct width out of some burlap yardage, and that problem was solved too. 
And if you can stand one more Ballard knock-off, their pine cone ornaments (to match the wreath of course!) are very easy--just pine (well, technically the ones I used were spruce) cones, white paint, glitter, and some wire ornament hangers.  Pictures to come . . . ;o)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Owen at Eleven Months

So, I'm playing a bit of catch up and back-dating this post because it just won't do to be late on it (and I wouldn't have been late, you can all be assured I took the pictures on the 22nd, I was just lacking in a computer to put them in). ;o)

Anyway, Owen is officially 11 months old and in the countdown to his first birthday (which has me feeling all sorts of mixed emotions that we won't delve into at this time).  I chose to upload this photo of him at 11 months--truly it is a mess of a photo--but it just makes me smile, the blur of motion, the look of sheer delight on his face.  I really love it.

At 11 months Owen is walking more and more and more.  In the last week his steps have grown from 1 here, 2 there, to 5, then 8, then 11.  He still crawls a lot because it is faster, but we all love getting to see his tipsy steps.  He loves to be on top of couches/beds/tables (closely supervised of course!) and he also loves to look out windows.  He has begun trying to "wear" stuff, accessorizing with whatever stray shirt or stretchy bead necklace he comes across.  He's still nursing (and striking crazy poses, like "the ostrich" or an arabesque--nursing isn't so much of a cuddle session anymore but more of a time where crazy acrobatics and contortions are practiced) but he's also eating more and more table food.  So, I'm sure the days of nursing gymnastics are numbered.  (More mixed emotions not to be delved into at this point). ;o)

But life is good, and Owen is a DELIGHT to all of us daily.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Last week--in bullets

--I couldn't figure out why my ring was suddenly tearing up my pinky finger, I looked down to discover one of the tiny diamonds AWOL and a prong broken (hence the torn up skin on my pinky).  So I'll be ringless for awhile . . . I've been wanting to make a few "tweaks" to my setting anyway.  I'm not sure when I'll get around to it, but in the meantime I do remain married even if my finger is naked. ;o)

--I was delighted to discover a "printer's drawer" on craigslist for $15.  (It's a drawer used to store type for printers--before everything was done by computer and all)  Plans for my drawer would be turning it into a spot to display our tiny nature treasures.  I wasn't digging the cicada shells found lying all over the place this past summer . . .

--I'm slowly making my "fall to winter decorating transition." It's become rather involved as I find myself gravitating towards cream/taupe/black/burlap/glitter/pine cones.  I'm not sure what kind of style that is, but I've been painting again and sparkling things up a bit.  Every year I think "I love this!" and then the next year I do something different.  Is that neurotic?

--I got my hair cut, pretty short for me, but I'm really enjoying it.

--I would love to share some pictures, but I'm not in the mood to upload things into Josh's computer--less than a week until mine should be purchased! Yippee!

--I've survived pretty well with limited computer access.  I would love to tell you how sparkly my house is because of this lack of distraction, unfortunately I haven't noticed too much of a  change.  I HAVE been more on top of things, it would seem though computer distractions are not the problem . . . kids are. ;o)

--Owen has a yucky nose today (why I was not at church). :o(

--Jackson has been "getting his craft on" constructing pop-up dioramas and beading "Christmas necklaces" for the siblings.  I love when he gets busy like this . . . much less refereeing of fights for me! ;o)

--I'm SOOOOO very much looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving week, light school, very few activities (just orchestra rehearsal), and tasty food. ;o)  The weather outside definitely hints toward quiet and cozy!  Hopefully I'll have some extra time to join Jackson's ranks and get busy with some craftiness of my own. ;o)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Make-a-Memory 2010

I *think* I have my list of activities finalized, and I've begun the purchasing of supplies.  Some of the ideas are the same as last year, but I think I've added enough new stuff to keep it "fresh." ;o)  We will be finishing up our first semester on December 9th, clearing up the remaining two weeks before Christmas for some hard-core merry-making. With all the extra rehearsals (orchestra for me) and requirements for us to be out of the house it just makes sense to ditch all formal schooling as soon as possible.  (and I love that I have that option!) ;o) So, without further adieu, the list:

1. Make a Glitter Initial Ornament
2. Read Jan Brett's "gingerbread books" and make gingerbread play-dough
3.  Make Tin Can Lanterns
4. Make Clothespin Angel Ornaments (similar to these)
5. Make homemade cocoa mix . . . drink cocoa ;o)
6. Create cards/pictures for nursing home residents/mail to Great-Granny
7. "Peppermint Day" Involving our candy cane book, play-dough, beading candy canes on pipe cleaners
8. Make Popsicle Stick Snowflake Ornaments
9. Paint!!! A winter or Christmas scene, hang up our own art gallery
10. Attend a live nativity
11. Christmas cookie decorating day!
12. Attend the adult Christmas concert at church
13. Make a winter scene (had plans to do this last year, but never got around to it)
14. Paint/glitter Salt Dough Snowflake Ornaments
15. Make winter "snow gnomes" (to play in our winter scene of course!) ;o) Like these only no-sew
16. "Goody" making day--dipping pretzels, making fudge, etc
17. Christmas Lights Tour in our jammies with muffin tin snack trays of "goodies"
18. Gingerbread House Building Day (probably a kit from Wal-mart)
19. Attend the children's Christmas program at church
20. Make a felt mitten garland (like this, but no-sew)
21. Celebrate the first day of winter! Help Mommy bake a snowman cake for Owen's b-day, decorate/make presents for Owen
22. Celebrate Owen's birthday with a snowman theme!
23. Have a muffin tin nativity meal
24. Attend Christmas Eve service at church and celebrate at Grandpa & Grandma Cooley's
25.  Happy birthday Jesus!! Presents and a birthday breakfast!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Book List

Several people have asked for my Christmas book list, so here it is! ;o) Many of the books you can only buy used now, but if you go that route you can get a pretty good deal!

#1 The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg
#2 The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
#3 The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne
#4 Until the Christ Child Came by Dandi Daley Mackall (probably my least favorite of the lot)
#5 Silent Night illustrated by Susan Jeffers
#6 'Twas the Night (The Nativity Story) by Melody Carlson
#7 The Shepherd's Christmas Story by Dandi Daley Mackall
#8 A Glorious Angel Show by Dandi Daley Mackall
#9 The Christmas Miracle of Johnathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
#10 Fear Not, Joseph! by Julie Stiegemeyer
#11 The Wonder of Christmas by Dandi Daley Mackall
#12 Christ is Born by Layne Haacke (this year's book)

Also, we have a book that my mom gave me one year called The Sweetest Story Ever Told by Lysa Terkeurst, which we love.  It's about making/decorating cookies to tell the story of Jesus birth.  I definitely recommend getting this one--you can only get it used now, but starting at $0.01 that's a steal of a deal, even if you have to pay shipping. ;o)  Another great place to check for used books is Better World Books.  They have free shipping on every purchase you make!

And a few other books that have peaked my interest and I have saved on my "wish list"--
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon (it's a departure from my usual theme, but it looks like a good story)
The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth by Dandi Daley Mackall

(And should you happen to make an Amazon purchase, I would love for you to "enter" Amazon through my revolving book list on the left sidebar of my blog.  For every purchase made as a result of that "click-through" I get a very small percentage . . . as in this year I've managed to earn about $0.70. ;o)  Once I can get that up to $10 they will issue me a gift card.  Obviously, no pressure, but if you felt so inclined, I DO so enjoy the occasional free book). ;o)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Yesterday, I managed to acquire the mother of all viruses on my computer--DO NOT and I repeat, DO NOT search out "elmo cupcake ideas" or all sorts of bad things will start to happen.  I left Josh trying to figure out my mess. (I was heading out with the girls to their sleepover).

I returned several hours later to learn Josh had located the virus but it had deleted our spyware (or jargon of that sort, I will admit to all of this being a bit over my head).  He needed to download something new to "put in".

Well . . . he tried that.  He's pretty certain the computer is a goner.  Which is okay because he's been planning a Wal-mart camp-out on Black Friday to get me a new laptop (where he acquired his last year).  So, I can make it two weeks with limited computer access . . . right?

But then my washer had a tiny electrical fire/wire frying party.  It stopped midcycle, a load of darks floating in the water . . . a small charred circle underneath the lid. I called Josh after he got out of his Saturday class.  He thought he would swing by Sears and peak at the "2nds" to see if there were any good deals.  He found one, roughly the price of a good deal on a laptop.

At this point we were both thinking he could resuscitate my computer and that the washer was hopeless.  However, I was still kind of bummed that my combo b-day/x-mas laptop was going to become a combo b-day/x-mas washer . . . yippee.  Because I really enjoy doing laundry and all. ;o)

But SURPRISE the washer wasn't dead!  Josh was able to snip, strip, and rewrap the offending wires and *ahem* flip a switch in the fuse box and voila!!!  My washer works again.  And I still get a laptop which will come in handy in light of the desktop's recent illness.

It's always fun to see how God will work situations out as they arise.  I'm also thankful for a husband who over the years has acquired just enough skills to keep all of our worn-out stuff limping along just little bit longer.  We're hoping for another solid year from that washer (well actually we're hoping for another solid year from a lot of stuff . . .). ;o)

But you might not hear from me much in the next few weeks--I'll just have Josh's laptop in the morning before he heads out for the day.  It'll be good for me though, as much as I am loathe to admit it, a working computer can be something of a distraction. ;o)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Owen Finds his Motor

I know it's cliche' but those little boys and their little motors . . .
Three times over and I'm still amazed how intrinsic it is of boys
to just *know* those vehicles need a motor sound,
 and we've been hearing it a lot lately--including (but not limited to),
tractors, cars, trucks
(and the occasional empty container, book, or random object that can be pushed around like it has wheels).
I love that sound.
But I also must fully recognize that my
little baby
is becoming
a little boy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Christmas Tradition

A long, long time ago--1999--Josh and I were engaged and for Christmas that year I got him a children's book, The Legend of the Candy Cane.  (I'm sure he thought I was a weirdo).  But so began a tradition that every year a new Christmas book is added to our collection.  On the inside cover I write the year and the members of our family, make a notation if it was a first Christmas for someone, etc.  These books are SpEcIaL.  They come out with the Christmas decorations and then get stored away the remainder of the year.  Each year I look for a book that tells the story of Jesus's birth in some way, shape or form.  I thought I'd give you a sneak peak at this year's book:

It arrived in the mail today.  And what is cool about this one?  It's the ACTUAL King James version scripture account with pictures.  We'll open this one Christmas morning and read it during our "birthday party breakfast."  What began as a small little pile of books will this year be a full dozen!  And would you believe The Legend of the Candy Cane remains a resounding favorite?  Mainly because it's about a candy store with corresponding pictures.  Go figure. ;o)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Monday in Review

The Good--
*After many a math battle Marissa is really "getting" it.  I checked story problems today, many 2-part and she was nailing them! Yippee!
*Josh's help in bailing out the sinking ship that is housekeeping . . . Before he headed off to his practicum he helped me tackle upstairs general untidiness and then cleaned the living room carpet.  I love fresh-cleaned carpets!
*Made "Chocolate Peppermint Snaps" (cookies) for snack.  Warm out of the oven cookies, need I say more? ;o)
*After a week of laziness, I got in a morning run (and yay! it's lighter in the morning--for awhile anyway!)

The Bad--
*After mopping the kitchen floor a few days ago I think the kids have managed to spill apple cider on it no less than 38 times.  And in spite of my vigilance in trying to wipe it up, it is sticky--everywhere.
*I may have eaten six cookies.
*I mean seven.
*I left Jackson alone in my room with four neatly sorted baskets of laundry (boys, girls, adults, towels).  I returned to one big pile on my bed and Jackson buried in the midst.  I was not so happy.
*A part broke out of my dishwasher--Josh can fix it--but I had to do dishes by hand tonight. The girls helped with drying and only one glass bowl was broken in the process.

The Ugly--
*Called my father-in-law to get his take on present day demon-possession and the possibility that Emmett suffers from such a fate after I hauled him (Emmett that is, not my father-in-law) kicking and screaming from the YMCA after dropping off Isabella.
*Jackson sent a container of yogurt soaring off the coffee table (which should not have been there in the first place) splattering mixed berry goodness all over my freshly-cleaned carpet. *sob*
*The loud decibels my voice *may have* reached upon discovering my now-not-so-clean carpet :o(

Thank goodness for "mercies new every morning."  I used up my full allotment today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This week--


Sunday--threw a huge fit because I wouldn't let him wear a three-piece suit for the 2nd week in a row.
Monday--appeared with a ridiculous amount of band-aids on his shin, when questioned he told me he had been shaving.  Upon further inspection I discovered the hair still intact but about a 1 1/2 inch long piece of skin missing.  And at sometime during the night he decided to remove his pull-up (he's about 60/40 with staying dry). Of course! We all know how that worked out . . .
Tuesday--absolutely destroyed whatever progress I had made in laundry by overturning baskets, emptying drawers, etc. in search of the only shirt that would do.
Wednesday--attended Awana with three perfectly painted aqua blue nails--of his own doing.
Thursday--absolutely destroyed whatever progress I had made in laundry by overturning baskets, emptying drawers, etc in search of the only shirt that would do.  Came and showed me his new method of nighttime dryness, a bright blue band aid around his . . . yeah, you guessed it.

Mixed in with all of these escapades is the usual tormenting of family members and constant marching to his own beat and time frame (which usually means whatever he needs he needs NOW!).  I'm tired.  We decided to try a session of "homeschool gym" at the YMCA, hoping to funnel all this energy into something useful.  It had better pay off.  Otherwise I foresee a very long winter ahead of me.  I was thinking how he had grown up a lot--and he has--it's just the boy who used to draw on walls and such is now a boy who gets screwdrivers and unscrews toys to replace batteries (and you know, most often I've let those batteries be dead for a reason). ;o) Will it ever get easier?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Post on Planning

I'm in the midst of menu and holiday planning right now.  Once November hits I switch out of my "blissful autumn days" mode and start trying to figure out how I can make my life as easy to manage as possible with the holiday craziness that is about to descend.  I've been settling into a good kitchen rhythm--one humongous grocery shopping extravaganza done the first Friday of each month (Josh has Fridays off this semester).  The first week of each month I go through my menus (I'm up to four now) and plug them in on a calendar which gets taped to the fridge. I print off my grocery lists and write in anything extra we need.  There are still trips to the grocery store that happen, but those trips are just for the things we go through quickly, fruit, milk, bread, etc.  These I can manage with my entourage' (or Josh will pick up a few items here and there on his way home from work).  I'm trying to work in a good kitchen cleaning/organizing routine during this week too--organize pantry/fridge, wipe them out, etc.  It makes sense to do all of this at the same time instead of just waiting until everything is in desperate need of attention. (Like my fridge right now . . .)

As far as the holidays . . . I'm making my lists and purchasing as much online as possible (taking advantage of email offers for free or a flat rate shipping or Amazon's "super saver shipping").  My sister and I can go on and on about our love of shopping through Amazon. ;o)  It is every mommy's best friend (or anyone who doesn't enjoy crowds . . . really, is there anybody who DOES actually enjoy crowds?!).  I'm also planning our "make-a-memory" activities this year.  A gal at church did a great little class yesterday on keeping Christ in Christmas and got me all excited to get those ideas organized. 

All these thoughts bring me to what I love most about planning--wait for it--pretty calendar pages and sheets to write on!!! ;o)  I found these free printables I think are sweet--she has a calendar page for each month of the year as well as "week at a glance" pages too.  So, if cute pages (and a colorful pen!) excite you as much as me, here are some links to enjoy! Head here for the month pages, and here for the weekly ones. I just printed my December ones off and I've got my red and green pens ready for some heavy duty planning. (You all choose the appropriate color for the time of the year right? ;o)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Make Your Own Mayflower!

I had admired PB's (you'll have to enlarge the thumbnail picture of the table to see what I'm talking about!)cute little Mayflower "place card" holders and thought it would be a fun way to set the kids' table for Thanksgiving this year.  Theirs were $6 (x 8 kids= a lot to spend to decorate a table).  But they looked copy-able (is that a word?). ;o) And they were!
The nitty gritty:
Roughly one piece of brown felt per boat (in the end I was able to get two boat sides and two boat bottoms out of one piece)
Orange embroidery floss (or color of choice)
Small dowel-type sticks (I bought these last fall at either Hobby Lobby or Michael's, they came in a package, not the open stock dowels)
Card stock/paper for sail
Cut a canoe type of shape for the boat sides, tape together these pieces along the sides (notice my pen marks on the boat shape, that's where the tape should end).  Then I traced around the shape my taped-together boat formed, giving me the pattern for the bottom.
Use a blanket stitch to sew them all together.  Where the corners meet gets a bit "fiddly" but it all fit together nicely.  I think you can figure out the sail. ;o)  Fill your boat with candy corn, acorns, small pine cones, etc.  Right now the candy corn is anchoring the sail--I might try to find a better way to keep it anchored (clay perhaps?).  In the end I think I ended up with about $0.35 in each boat, which is more along my lines of pricing. ;o)  Happy boat-making!