Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pumpkin and Nog

We had a wonderful time in Knoxville for Thanksgiving, and it was great to spend lots of quality time with the fam and friends.

I've mentioned how talented my mom is before... here's her Thanksgiving table setting:

My lovely sisters (plus one banana-sized baby girl):

My godmother Patty and I:

All in all, it was a nice, relaxing weekend!  Hope your Thanksgivings were just as nice!  I had tons of mac and cheese, cheese grits, and stuffing.  Not to mention both pumpkin bars -- and pumpkin cake.  And Thanksgiving marks the beginning of Nog Season - that's right - I LOVE eggnog.  To the haters who think it tastes like Windex (...Tony...), you don't know what you're missing.  We even decided Courtney was "nogged up" :)

Diet starts Monday...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

DIY Tinsel Tree

I feel so crafty!

I finally got around to doing a little DIY Christmas decor project that was two years in the works.  I saw this idea on TV 2 years ago, and decided I was going to do it (insert excitement and ambition).  I bought the necessary materials.  Then..... I got lazy.  And this little project got pushed off to "next Christmas" ..... then the next...... but FINALLY I got up enough energy to do this 30 minute project (whew...that was tough)

This is a simple tree that's super easy and cheap to make.

First, you start with a tomato cage.  I think it was $1 when I bought it, but you might need to account for inflation and the rise in standard of living to calculate it's cost in today's currency.

Gather the ends at the top into a point so it makes a cone shape.  Use zip ties to hold them together.  Leave a little extra at the top so it will stay and won't pop off.

Next, thread a strand of lights up through the cage from the inside. [important note: make sure the lights actually work before doing all of this to avoid anger management issues] Zip tie the lights in various places on the cage to keep them spread out, including hanging them from the top.  I used icicle lights, because you get more bang for your buck in terms of lightage.  Make sure to leave a little tail sticking out with the plug end.

I then wrapped the outside of the tree skeleton with tulle that I had leftover from my wedding decor, to keep the garland from sinking into the open parts of the cage.

I happened to have some sparkly thingys that I got a few years back (they were meant as New Years place settings, I think). You could always use feathers or tall vase filler or anything else that looks right. I zip tied these to the top.

Next, gather up some tinsel garland shiny stuff (you will probably need 3-4 sets, and the thicker it is, the better).  This is great to buy on sale after the holidays - it's super cheap and prevalent (unlike those stupid mirrored trees that are always immediately gone on the 26th).

Start at the bottom, and hotglue the garland along the base of the cage.  Keep winding it up and around, gluing in intervals along the vertical "bones" of the cage.  You don't need a ton of glue.

Keep going til you hit the top.  Plug it in, and enjoy!

(it's glows a lot more in person!)

I've linked this to A Soft Place to Land's DIY Day - check it out!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tony and I are currently in Knoxville, eating way too much food and doing a whole lot of nothing!

I have a million things to be thankful for, but most importantly, my wonderfully supportive, loving, and hilarious husband.  He keeps me sane (kinda) and manages to make me happy every single day.  I'm so thankful for my family and extended family - including the two little baby girls who are growing away right now in their mamas [my sister officially found out she's having a girl - as is my sister in law - so I am super excited for TWO little girls!].  I'm so grateful to have loving friends around us (both near and far).  I love the fact that we are blessed with good health, good jobs, and overall good lives.  I'm beyond thankful for my dogs - they keep me laughing (Roxy) and snuggle with me when it's been a rough day (Sandy). 

I'm thankful for all of the blessings of this life - both big and small.

And I'm thankful for the 3 helpings of mac and cheese I'm about to go devour.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Common Sense...Eluded Me...

Here's what I've learned today:

You can't just pack candles up in plastic bins with the rest of the Christmas stuff, and then put them in your attic to sit through the following year, including a record-hot summer....

And it doesn't help if you just toss them in... upside-down...on top of other decorations..

Also of interst - Ikea candles are made out of some weird styrofoam white stuff on the inside, even if they are "red"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas Boxes

When I wrote this post last week about Operation Christmas Child, I promised I would share what we bought to go in the boxes for the kiddos.

Here's what I put in mine (I chose a Girl aged 5-9):
  • Nerds!
  • Fun hair clips and bracelets
  • Mittens (even though this might go to a kid in the desert - oh well!)
  • Dress up slippers
  • Pencils, Colored Pencils, Chalk, Crayons, Notepads, Sticker book
  • Half of a set of plastic jungle animals (Tony took the other half)
  • Soap
  • Lip Gloss
  • Rubber Christmas stampers
  • A stuffed reindeer
    • See my deranged dog in the background?  I have mentioned she LOVES anything white and fluffy, so she was soooooo upset that I wouldn't let her have that reindeer.  I even had to put it on the mantle while I was organizing everything so she wouldn't steal it.  She looked at the mantle for a good two hours -- even after I had already packed it up in the box.  Poor dog - she's lacking in the brains department....

Here's Tony's.  He packed it up before I had the chance to take a picture of what was inside, but a lot of it was similar to mine, with a few extra "boy" things thrown in there. 

[And he did such a good job packing it I couldn't unpack just for a's kinda like when he folds the laundry...I really want to unfold and refold the "right" way, but I try to least while he's watching...]

They take the boxes up until the 23rd - you can find a dropoff location here.

I wish I could pack 1,000 of these.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Painting Made Easier

Do you know what would really make painting easier?  If Tony helped... but let's not go there... ;)

In other news, I painted our office!! Woo!  It only two and a half years....

But I can cross that one off the list ---->

I will post some pictures of it once I actually put the furniture back in :)  In the meantime, I wanted to share the little gadget that made this paint job the easiest one yet.

I feel dumb because I'm pretty sure everyone else in the world knew about this, and I definitely didn't. 

I thankfully crawled out from under my rock on this guy due to my good friend Kirsty's recommendation.  (I technically bought the cheapo version without the fancy handle, but you get the idea!  It was like, $3..)

I didn't have to tape (my arch-enemy)!!  It went PERFECTLY around all of the door and window frames, as well as the ceiling.  The baseboards were a little tricky, as they weren't thick enough for the wheels to ride on, but I used it anyway with a steady hand and got a relatively straight line. 

And honestly, there's some paint on the baseboards.  And I don't care.

Too bad I discovered this tool while painting the last remaining room in our house to be painted..

[ps - Kirsty's husband Josh is on his way home from Afghanistan right now for his leave-- keep him in your thoughts for safe travels home and back :) ]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thrifting Treasures

I found a few great things at our local thrift store and Goodwill this weekend. 

And what's a trip to the thrift store without following it up with a good spraypainting session?

I found these fabulous candlesticks for under $4 total, that I plan to use for Christmas decor (similar ones from Target were around $8 each and I was sad I never got any last year!).

I loved this little bird too ($2).  And while I liked it in silver, the little waxy lines on it just wouldn't clean off.  So out comes the spraypaint!

It kinda looks porcelain now... I love it!

Side Note:  I'm certainly not the first to tout the amazingness of this thingy - but if you are an avid spraypainter/buyer-of-other-people's-junk and you haven't tried this, then you don't know what you're missing!!  It's a cheap plastic handle (Rustoleum, from Walmart) that snaps right onto the spray can and makes for a much smoother finish on what you paint.  It also eliminates that bizarre cramped shaking twitching finger syndrome.

In my quest to de-red our living room, I put the bird on the mantle.  However, the solid white color needed some balance on the other side.

So I painted this candlestick solid white too:

I definitely need to get a different candle for it, but I like how they balance each other out.  I'm going to replace some of the other accessories too, but I'm going to wait until after Christmas, since it will all be temporarily replaced with festive decor soon anyway!

On a side note, I also got some really cute shirts too - all for $3 each!  (Don't judge me, I wash them well, ok??)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Wordle

I used Wordle to create an image of all of the words in my blog posts, and this is what it came back as:


I'm a little disturbed that BAD and RAIN are so large (I hope I don't sound that negative all the time!)... and of course, KOALA kinda throws it off from my Halloween post...
And apparently I use the words REALLY, MAYBE, and POPCORN a little too frequently... I have a feeling it only pulled in some of my more recent posts, otherwise GRASS might have been in there much larger!
It's so crazy I never went to this site before - I can't wait to make Wordles of all kinds of things (and I forsee a wall-decor project in my future using this!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Holiday Giving

I've officially begun allowing myself to look at the Christmas loveliness in stores.  Before now, I would have to walk by that section in Target, physically averting my eyes, since I just wasn't ready to handle the onset of the season (Christmas is my fave! The lights, the glitter, the gift giving -- sigh...).  I've even started my gift shopping - a full two months ahead of schedule! (I know, you're jealous)  We decided to that this year, since December is always such an expensive month - and this way we can spread out the spending - not to mention the stress! 

But really it's not stressful - I LOVE giving gifts.  It's one of my favorite things - to put thought into what someone might like, package it in a pretty way, and experience their happiness with them.  I promise it's not a narcissistic thing, and I'm sure not all of my gifts have been knock-outs.  Honestly, I really do love it, and if we had that money tree, I could totally go all-out on giving, all year 'round! 

And of course, the holiday season always brings the wants and needs of others into closer focus.  People are in need all times of the year, but it's such a natural fit with the giving-ness of the holidays and giving to those in need. 

One of my favorite holiday-timed charity initiatives is Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child.  This is something my mom had my sisters and I participate in when we were younger, and Tony and I did it last year.  It's a religious organization that helps children in poor countries. 

Basically you fill a shoe box with goodies for a child - you choose Boy or Girl, and the age range that you will buy for.  You can give toys, school supplies, basic hygene necessities, etc.  Most areas will have a church that's a collection center where you can drop off your box, and they send it across the world to a needy child.  I just read that if you make your $7 donation online, you can track your box and see where in the world it is going. 

When I would fill boxes as I was growing up, I would always choose a Girl box and choose the age range closest to my own age.  I would put great thought into what I liked and what I thought a girl my age would enjoy.  Last year I choose the youngest age segment, and had fun wandering the toy aisles that are otherwise totally foreign to me.

It's easy and so very fun, and you don't have to spend a ton of money to make one kid happy.  It's sad that things like basic pen and paper, toothpaste, and candy are things that these kids don't see very often.  The boxes take a while to be organized and shipped, so next week is actually the collection week - the boxes must be turned in to your closest location by then.  I'm getting my stuff this week, I will try to remember to share here what I got!

For me, it's a great way to begin the holiday season.

One of the places I feel I'm seriously lacking in right now is charity - I'm currently not involved in anything, and this is something I hope to change soon.  I might not have a lot of money to give, but I do have time and skills, and I know I wasn't given all of these things to be selfish with them... And while helping children in underdeveloped countries is a great thing, there is also much want right here in our own states and towns. 

Any holiday charities that hold a special place in your heart?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How They're Hangin'

Well, I can finally say I've crossed a few things off of our lengthy house to-do list over there on the right --->

I've said before that we have been phasing out the red in our living room, opting instead for more natural and neutral colors - greens, browns, whites, tans, etc.

Here are the old roman shades we had.  We originally went for this type of shade because Sandy has a penchant for standing on/dominating the couch all day to be sure she barks at every passing car/person/gust of wind.  I didn't want broken blinds.

But we're risking it and put up white blinds and a lovely curtain rod. 

They have a greenish silverish blueish tone (maybe a tiny bit more blueish than I would prefer..) but just having curtains totally softens the room.  I love how they look.

Here's my issue.  I really wanna implement the principles of hanging curtains for maximum impact.  But seriously, I got the longest curtain rod that Ikea had (accidentally stabbing a few eager shoppers along the way to checkout in the process) and it still isn't long enough!  I want the curtains to not be covering the windows at all.  Technically I haven't looked anywhere else, but any recommendations as to where to find a long (yet substantial) rod??  My windows aren't even that big...

But screw it.  Blueish material and midget rods --- I'm still crossing it off the list. 
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