Monday, November 16, 2015

3 ways to a better Christmas season

This is the time of year I usually get a little Scrooge-y.  Oh, I love the real Christmas.

I just hate what the world has made Christmas into.  Greed, money, expectations...

I like thanksgiving so much better.  Food and gratitude!  Perfection.  BUT, I have children, and a couple still have the magic gleam in their eye.  I must embrace the goodness of Christmas for their sake and keep it special around here.  I am changing my approach in an effort to help us all.  Here are the things I'm implementing this year.  Nothing new, maybe, but I'm sharing in case you could use some direction on purifying the season.

1.  White Friday

The pic is self-explanatory.  As a family we will take the day after Thanksgiving to connect to the temple.  For our girls, who are too young to enter the temple, we will visit the grounds with them and have them touch the temple and we'll partake of the spirit there.  The rest of us will take turns attending and serving in the temple.

2. Handmade gifts?

Ok, not all gifts.  Santa will still be stopping by.  But normally the kids earn sibling gift money thru extra chores, and then we take them out shopping and it's lots of fun, actually.  They only have one sibling to buy for and they put a lot of work into it.

This year we're challenging them to make it a homemade gift for their person.  Gift supplies can equal a maximum of $5.  Preferably $0. Mom and Dad can help if requested, as long as it's completed by Dec 22 (we're trying to encourage the procrastinators to get in gear).  I am very curious to see how this will play out.  We introduced the idea at Family Home Evening this week and it got mixed reactions.

3. Straw for baby Jesus

This story has circulated for a while, and can be found HERE and HERE.  Basically, service you provide as a family creates the soft bed for baby Jesus to lay his head.  

I don't have a manger, but I found this little basket at the thrift store for .50.  We have plenty of straw from the fall porch decorations, so I just need to make tiny baby Jesus.   

I look forward to reporting back on our Christmas changes for 2015 and evaluating what we'll incorporate into our permanent bank of family traditions. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Apple pie

The snow outside is perfectly timed. I feel like hunkering down, putting on the fuzzy socks and baking my heart out.

I saw bags of discounted Granny Smith apples at the store this weekend. Pie was calling to me!

I don't really use a recipe. Just Granny Smith, cinnamon, flour and sugar. I was out of shortening so I looked up a recipe for an oil crust. It was great! No rolling. I'm crust-challenged anyway, especially the rolling out part, so this was perfect.  Just google the Better Homes & Gardens version of the oil crust. 

The only thing is that without a traditional crust I couldn't do a top crust. I decided to make it a Dutch Apple pie instead. Mmmm. 

I'm glad it was good, cuz the homemade crockpot macaroni and cheese recipe I tried was a total fail! ����

Friday, November 6, 2015

A roll, or...

When is a roll not a roll?

When it's a baby bread bowl! 

Kid-sized, and cheaper. And cute as can be. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bathroom side table

 You know how you can watch a design show on cable and they find the most amazing things at thrift stores and Craigslist?  High quality pieces that some unsuspecting soul cast off without a thought?

Yeah, that's never me.

Usually I go to the thrift store and find aisles of junky particleboard bookshelves and weird overpriced coffee tables.

That is, till this beauty showed up on a quick trip to Deseret Industries.  I fell in love, and I even had a vague idea what to use it for.

I tried to remember how to choose a "good" piece of furniture.  Drawers open and close?  Real wood?  Quality workmanship?  Check.  For $10 she was mine.

I grabbed a paint sample from Lowes in Perfect Storm by Valspar that I've had forever and sanded lightly before I went to town on that thing.

Cute, no?

You could change out the hardware, but I actually really liked this handle so it stayed.

Now when we use the claw foot tub in the downstairs bath there is a place to actually put down the shampoo, if we're so inclined.  And it adds the perfect pop of color.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ya do what ya gotta do

As soon as we had this house under contract, we started filling up a storage unit with the boxes that got packed and ready and the furniture we wouldn't be needing for a month.

I also spent time seeking out the perfect long table for our new dining room.

I found one - an 8 seater - for $200 (I think) and we stashed it in the storage unit as well.  I was so excited that our family could fit around ONE table with non-folding chairs.  Yeah, our dining room used to be that small.  

This is how it used to be.  8 great seats, a little worn, just right for us.

Well, stuff happens.  We beat up on the table and chairs pretty good.  It was old to start with, but we made it look REALLY old in 2 years' time. 

This summer Strider refinished the table top for me.  He did a fantastic job.  The newest problem was the chairs.  Oh boy.  One broke.  Then another.  

See, with 8 chairs we had one to spare, but losing two was no bueno.

I shopped around on the classifieds (because I buy nearly nothing new that I can get used) to find a set of chairs.  But who has 8 matching, wonderful, affordable, black chairs for sale?  

No one.  But wait - how about 4 chairs?  

That's precisely what I did.  I found 4 chairs that I thought would coordinate well enough with our current set, and I bugged the seller enough that she lowered the price into my range just to get me to shut up about it, and now I have an eclectic mix of dining chairs that totally works.

Voila!  Maybe someday I'll recover the seats so they all match.  And maybe I won't.

Wanna know a secret? I think I like it even better than the original matching ones.  Shhh.  AND I still have 2 extra.  Insurance policy.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Living room updates

Last fall we had gorgeous family photos taken by Simply Shelby Photography.  They've been on display for a few months now and they make me so happy.  

Some things I'm loving in this room right now:

1.  Family pics

2.  Our significant keys - one smaller one to remember the starter home we came from in 2013 and one larger one to represent our current one, larger and perfect for our needs.  When we moved we had teenagers and kids at ages that made it tough to leave the only home we'd known.  These keys were a way for me to show them it was okay to have poignant reminders of the past.

3.  Our numeral 7 for, well, the 7 of us.

4.  This rusty sign that reminds us of a simple truth

5.  A new set of lamps that I swapped out for my dated ones.  I like the warm glow from these.  I picked them up at TJ Maxx for $25 each.

6.  An absolute fave pic of mine.  This is from fall break 2013 - Phelps Lake near Yellowstone.  Great hike and great memories of Jackson, WY on that trip.

7.  The yearbooks that I make for the family every January, using the adventures and photos from the past year.  Well, these are the books I used to make.  Snapfish has designed a brand new fancy website and, unfortunately discontinued my classic cover.  BIG boo hoo!  Must find a replacement 8x11 black cloth window front, STAT!  Ideas appreciated.

A previous living room post can be found HERE.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August happenings

Helping Daddy set up his new classroom

Strider and I got smartphones!

When your teen son asks for a selfie, you oblige


Water and homemade slip 'n slides


Football is back

Back to school feast - a new tradition

School shopping

First day of school treat!

A whole year older...

5/5 gone.  And my life will never be the same.