Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

My parents, husband & I have had a tradition since before we were married, of staying up late and playing cards until 2-3 in the morning on New Years Eve. Three years ago, they informed us that they were feeling "too old" to stay up that late anymore, and asked if we minded coming over on New Years Day instead.

Mind? Of course not. But... what to do then, on New Years Eve?!?

That year, we purchased the Wii as a family gift. So the four of us stayed up until 5am competing against each other at bowling, golfing, and all sorts of other games. And the kids loved it so much, that we've continued that tradition every year since.

This will mark our 4th annual New Year's Eve Wii-petition. And with a few more games in our collection, this looks to be one heck of a challenge this year if we see if anyone can finally beat Daddy at golf, the boy at bowling, the princess at Balance Bubble, or Mama at Rhythm parade.
 In keeping with last years' New Years Eve decorations, I gave myself a $20 budget - and this year, barely spent HALF that since I already had so many goodies on hand. And this time it was my SON who helped choose how & where we would decorate! No clue why as it's usually us two girls prettying up the place, but this time my guy helped me. And I LOVE what we came up with!

We combined our lantern-decoration from last year with the clocks, and added just a few more clocks from the thrift store.

On the tray with the pocket watches, instead of the glass beads we chose to use vintage buttons this year - and I really think it added just a bit more "oomph" to things.

In our kitchen niche, we did almost exactly the same thing as last year... simply adding the new year to the back of last years' paper "2012" to get one more years' use out of the pretty shiny brown cardstock.
The biggest change this year, was actually ALL my son's idea. Inspired by THIS number display, he suggested we hunt for items at the thrift store and within our house to create a display of "Things with twos, zeros, ones and threes."

We found a couple board books for $1.91, and a partial game of dominoes for $.65 and decided to raid our own game cabinet for the rest of our display. And I have to say - I LOVE how this turned out! It's a bit more whimsical (and brightly colored!) than I had originally imagined recreating that display, but I love how nearly everything there was already in our house - and that it came from the imagination of my son.

Happy New Year everyone!!! How are YOU spending this evening?!? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Tiny Winter Garland

I have been trying to come up with a tiny garland for my fireplace, and not really liking anything I've seen. I wanted something wintry, but simple. Something I wouldn't get bored looking at all winter long. Last week, I placed an order for a few gifts for my preschoolers, and added a package of mini-clothespins because I'd been wanting them for a Valentine's Day craft. When they arrived, inspiration struck & I pulled out my crafting supplies.

 Isn't it pretty? Other than the new little clothespins, everything here is from my stash of crafting papers/goodies and I LOVE how it turned out!

The snowflakes were punched from glitter cardstock for subtle sparkle, and the buttons came straight from my button jars.
The letter stickers have been sitting unused in the bottom of my sticker drawer for nearly a decade, and the red papers are actually paper scraps from my scrap-baggie!

To share just one more winter photo... with my latest living-room rearrangement I lost the LONG stretch of bookshelves against one wall. Now I have a MUCH smaller space above the cupboards, but I still wanted to do something festive to brighten things up.

After a few attempts, I'm happy with the space now. And all it took was putting my thrifted candy dish up there with a few glass ornaments!

Don't you just love it when projects just "fall into place" like this?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winter Decorations

Wow, is it this time already?

Our house is all ready for Christmas in our winter-long decorations, and I can't wait to share. Several of our decorations have remained the same from last year, but there are some definite changes. The first meets you right at the door.

Since moving the sewing machine to our entry space, I had to find something to go on the wall above it. I loved the way my HUGE grapevine wreath filled the space, so I just took the fall decoration out of the center, and added some pinecones & snowflake ornaments. I LOVE how this looks!
Then on top of the machine are my "white Christmas" elements.

My tree & fireplace decorations haven't changed from last year. NEXT year our tree will be going through a makeover, but for this year we stayed with our snowmen, snowflakes & glass icicles for a happy wintry feel. My daughter still loves rearranging the scene underneath the tree, and I am still loving how much easier it is to maneuver around the living room without an enormous tree constantly in our way. 

In the living room windows, I keep my antique mason jars and the giant pinecones from my sisters' yard. It's hard to photograph this space because of lighting issues, but you can see how we added some holly garland & poinsettias for a bit of a festive flair.

In the kitchen, because I need every spare inch of space for everyday baking, I keep things to a minimum. The niche above my cabinets and the windowsill are the only places ever decorated. My window was inspired by a photo on Pinterest, and I even made a new curtain this year - from a scrap of fabric I've been saving from my wedding dress!

In the dining room, most of my decorations have remained the same; the nativity is still in the same place, and many of the decorations on my little hutch are from years past - though some have moved from one place to another over the years. 

Two new goodies for this year are my little car, and the cardinals. In years past, these cardinals have been in the living room. This year I thought I'd give them a new home, in a stack of birch from my parents' yard. And my little Volkswagen car usually sits on the bookshelf in my room, but this year it came out as a seasonal decoration, with a tiny sisal tree tied to the top!

For the table, I placed a vintage embroidered tablerunner over my favorite crocheted tablecloth, and added the cutest little thrifted sled as a centerpiece. My chandelier is the same as last year, with green garland, poinsettias, and spare snowflake ornaments from the tree.

In my bedroom I set up my little feather tree, but unlike years past I put it on top of my Amelia Earhart suitcases instead of the tiny electric fireplace. I love the way this turned out! And of course I had to repeat the little toy car element, with my husbands' antique car. I think his looks even better than mine.

My kids are free to decorate their rooms their own way, and I usually have very little to do with this. Being a teen, my son is rather ambivalent and has yet to put up his retro tinsel tree quite yet.

My daughter on the other hand has been waiting for her friends to come over, to make a party of decorating her room. Most of the decorations will likely stay the same as previous years, but at her request we did make a few new goodies for her space. This year she has a new tulle wreath, and a little snowgirl (complete with hand-crocheted hat & scarf!) made from a giant jingle-bell that really help set the tone for her pastel bedroom.

What do you have in YOUR house?!?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn Decorations

Oh wow, has this been a busy few months! Here I am nearly into November, and I haven't shared our Autumn decorations yet!

Fall is my favorite season, and I LOVE decorating for it! If I were to overrun my "one bin per season" rule, it would be for right now. There's something so wonderful about the not-too-hot, not-too-cold weather, with the bright colors, bonfires, crispy crunchy walking paths, and clear skies. And our house takes on a wonderful, warm look for the season too!

Our front door, fireplace, kitchen cabinet-niche, chandelier & the space above our bookshelves have all stayed the same from year to year. We DID have some fun rearranging things and picking up just a few new decorations however.

On the accent table, we used my pretty carved wooden basket, along with the pheasant feathers and our favorite little scarecrow.

The sewing table has moved right next to our front door, making it a perfect place to display a few of our favorite things. On the top, we created a back-to-school display showcasing our McGuffy reader and a few other favorite goodies that make us think of school.

Above the sewing table is the biggest grapevine wreath I've ever made, with the Victorian cone I made from last year tucked inside. 

On the hutch, most of our decorations have stayed the same, we've just rearranged things. One piece I did pick up was an amber glass pumpkin cookie jar. For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a clear one just like this, and I have always wished it was orange. When I saw this sitting at the thrift store for less than $2 I HAD to pick it up and bring it home.

And the one decoration that changes every year is our "spooky author" display. Each year we choose an author to learn about, and then create a display that showcases something about them or their books. This year we chose Lemony Snickett, and decided to choose items from each of the books for our display.
If you've read the books, you should be able to recognize everything here as a key element to one of the 13 books from the Series of Unfortunate Events. I think my favorite element however, is the photo of the VFD eye-tattoo. We took a permanent marker and gave my son a "tattoo," then printed a photo of it with the colors washed out. I love how it turned out, and my daughter thinks it's hysterical that her big brother's ankle was a stand-in for Count Olaf in our display.

Happy Autumn everyone! What have you done to decorate your space?!?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our Back to School Lunch

After what was possibly the most odd/frustrating/unnerving summers ever, we started back to school today.

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is being able to declare any day I wish a class-party day. And the first day of school always seems to be worthy of a tiny celebration, even if we've only taken two weeks off!

In our front yard is a beautiful flowering crabapple tree. The kids named it "The Treat Tree" while in kindergarten because while inedible to us, the bird & squirrels seem to think that the tiny crabapples are a wonderful treat. But once a year on the first day of school, I turn the tree into the backdrop for a special treat for my kids.

From its branches I hung a tiny banner made from gingham & ricrack. Then underneath the tree, I set out our little card table with a matching gingham tablecloth. For a centerpiece, I took alphabet fridge magnets & tucked them into a mason jar full of sunflowers.

Lunch this year was grilled cheese sandwiches, mixed veggies, caramel-covered apple slices, (I use fat-free ice cream topping... it pours so well, is great for double-dipping, AND lower in fat & calories!!!) and an extra special bottle of chocolate milk. I surprised the kids this year with thrifted vintage school lunch-trays. They LOVED them and were absolutely ecstatic to learn that they were dishwasher safe so we can use them every day!

For a tiny surprise, each of the kids received a tiny metal pail with some colorful pens, an itty-bitty pocket notebook, a cute globe-shaped pencil sharpener and a few candies put together to resemble giant pencils. I got the idea for the pencils HERE and they were so easy to put together!

Usually we eat lunch inside without any kind of ceremony but the kids really seem to like our first-day picnic. For the past month I've been being asked "We ARE gonna have a special lunch this year, RIGHT?!?" I had considered skipping it this year since both kids are in high-school and I didn't want to embarrass them, but after being asked several times by BOTH kids - well, I just couldn't NOT plan something special.

This is one tradition I'm glad we've kept up.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

During the summer, I keep the same decorations up from Memorial Day until my fall decorations go up. Because of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, nearly everything has a patriotic theme.
Because I save decorations from one year to the next, much of this may look familiar to people. The wreath on my front door and the garland on my dining room chandelier are identical... and most of my other decorations are the same, I've just switched around what is displayed together. (If anyone wants to see last years decorations, they are HERE!)

This year I decided to add even more crepe-paper to my decorating. I love the way it looks draped from my fireplace and kitchen cabinet-niche.

In my living room is our beach vignette full of soft, Florida sand and seashells from our visits to my sister and my wooden bowl of vintage spools.

The faux pearls and glass marbles I used from our Titanic display looked so pretty that I poured them into my giant seashell to extend their "stay" within the house, and I chose to pull out all but the red and white spools this time, and sprinkled my blue buttons throughout the thread bowl. (the doily was made by my grandmother years ago)



      In the dining room, many of the decorations were assembled with my husband in mind. He is an avid WWII history-buff and LOVES researching what it was like during the war.

Atop the china cupboard are my flags, and the tiny blackboard I made last winter. The top of the sewing machine holds a few of my husbands favorite books and the canteen his grandfather found while cleaning out a troop-train during World War II.

And on my little hutch, I decided to do something completely new. I reprinted photos of several of our family relatives who have served our country and created a true "Memorial" display along with their rank, the branch of military they served in, and which war they are associated with.
I LOVE how the hutch turned out and that it's so personal! There is my husband's Grandmother & Great-Grandmother, his uncle, both my parents, and several second-cousin type relations represented, and the
photos are from WWI through an active serviceman.

We have an awful lot to be thankful for in this country, but the one thing I can't even begin to imagine living without are the many MANY freedoms that we take for granted on a daily basis.

I want my children to grow up knowing that our freedom came with a price - and to know some of the stories of those who have helped to pay that price... whether it's their distant-cousin who was killed in action over China during WWII, their great uncle who seems to have been EVERYWHERE during WWII or their grandparents who met, fell in love, and were married during the Vietnam War.

These are just a few of our heroes, and we are MOST grateful for the sacrifices they gave to this country.

Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My new Laundry / Pantry Hallway

I can't believe I never shared this! Here I sit ready to share my nearly-completed closet renovation, and I never shared what we did in the laundry hall!

Last fall we took on a "small" project that I've been begging to do for years. We completely redid our laundry hallway! Here's what things looked like to start with. As you can see, there are brackets over the chest-freezer (far right hand corner) where I USED to have shelves, but they fell down years ago & things have been piled helter-skelter ever since.

The teeny tiny cupboards above the washer & dryer weren't really big enough to use for storage, but WERE in the way of any truly useful storage options. 

Our "pantry" was three mismatched bookshelves, and I couldn't open the washing machine lid OR the freezer lid without rearranging boxes & baskets of miscellaneous "stuff."

Also, because the dryer vented straight down instead of out (which we discovered was a fire-hazard that never should have been installed that way in the first place) I couldn't open the dryer door all the way because it banged into the opposite wall!

These next two photos show the hallway stripped out, and ready to paint.

You can also see the doorway halfway down the hall. it went to the master bath, but in 12 years we  we had used this door just a few times, and I had HUGE plans for the space.

Originally I had planned on painting this space bright yellow to match my kitchen. However I forgot I'd already used up my yellow paint with a project at church, so instead I decided to use up the two gallons of red paint we had purchased for the living room before changing our mind.

It took us FOUR coats of paint to cover this thoroughly, despite the tiny area we were painting! Note to the wise... definitely use primer when using red paint.

Next you can see my plans for that doorway... shelves for my canning! Each shelf was measured to ideally hold quarts, pints & half-pints with JUST enough room to squeeze the next-largest size onto them just in case we canned in any one size than I planned. (This turned out to be perfect over the winter, after we picked up 1.5 bushels of tomatoes!)

You can also see the Coca-Cola baker's rack I found on Craigslist for $25. I love that it matched the color scheme perfectly AND added just a bit of visual interest!

And here are my finished canning shelves -complete with fabric shelf-liners trimmed in rick rack.

To the right, we finally got the dryer re-routed properly and pushed back into place.

Above, are my new shelves which run wall-to-wall. We mounted them on white beadboard so the room wouldn't appear TOO dark. The bins were purchased at Ikea, and the chalkboard labels were a fun "splurge" from Etsy.

And on top of the dryer, you can see my new ironing board! It's a sheet of plywood cut to the dimensions of the top of my dryer, covered in batting & cotton fabric. I LOVE how it looks, and it's ever so much more convenient than my clunky old metal ironing board to move about!

Including the cost of re-routing the dryer, this entire renovation cost us just under $150... but is worth SO much more to me! Laundry is no longer a juggling-act, and getting to the freezer is MUCH easier. And when I walk back to grab a jar of homemade applesauce, I just grin at my beautiful canning-shelves.

We've redone several rooms in the past few years, but this is by far my favorite renovation to date!