Bringing in the New Year

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On December 26th my husband and I let out a sigh of relief... it's over. As sad as we are to see it done, we're looking forward to the start of a new year.....and looking forward to all these goodies being out of the house. I mean, seriously?! No wonder I have to set New Year's Resolutions, my friends are determined to make me fat over the holidays! But it was worth it. The best part of this past holiday season was Christmas morning. As stressed out and overwhelmed as we were in the weeks leading up to Christmas it was SO worth it! Seeing our kids eyes light up and hearing the squeals of delight was priceless. 

I must admit I've been tackling the tedious job of organizing after Christmas. It looks like a toy store bomb went off in my house. Not to mention the not so fun task of taking down Christmas decorations :(

As I push on with "cleaning" I'm thinking to myself what exactly I plan to accomplish in 2011. There's always my typical eat healthy... last year I actually went to vegetarian and....well...that didn't last a full year. It did last about 10 months though. Maybe if I make a resolution to work out I can keep it for 10 months?? Hmm... doubtful. So I'm not quite sure what my New Years Resolution will be. Do you know what yours will be?


Friday, December 10, 2010

This year has been completely overwhelming. I'm not sure why I've gotten so much busier....but life has literally been flying by. Add in laundry, everyday cleaning, feeding the family ect. and it's insane. Oh, and it's December so let's also add a ton of cookies to make, cards to send out, family visiting, my birthday and can I just pass out now?! Do I sound like a scrooge? That was kinda how I was feeling. I totally lost sight the magic and the whole point of Christmas. I think it's easy to be stressed out and overwhelmed this time of year....but that's when we need to re-focus, re-organize, and treat ourselves to those high caloric eggnog drinks ;) I mean, who really cares (besides yourself) how many cookies are sent out. Send 4 instead of 8. You don't have to be the sole provider of their Christmas cookies....and we all need a moment to relax. 

This past weekend we took the kids to Disneyland. And let me just say, their isn't a whole lot more magical than Disneyland all dressed up for Christmas. Add in 8 real reindeer, Mrs. Claus and yes....Santa was their too. It was such a magical time and brought back a little peace and some energy to my soul. I hope you all can find the magic and keep in mind the reason for the season. 

Christmas Decorating

Friday, December 3, 2010

I know I haven't posted in quite a while. To say that Thanksgiving wiped me out was an understatement. I was exhausted! Then it seemed like Christmas was flying towards me at light speed....and I wasn't ready! This year it seems like everything has been more difficult. I think that the new school schedule has really thrown my typical plans through a loop. But I'm finally rested up and ready to tackle the season. First up on the list...decorating. I like to get all those little places that most people don't decorate. For example:

Above the microwave:

On top of the fridge:

Next to the phone:

Every year I decorate my china hutch. I put my special (aka breakable) decorations on top and then add garland around them. 

I also add some ornaments and garland inside too :)

For those of you in apartments, why not bring the lights inside?? On top of a mirror is the perfect place!

Here's some more decorating snapshots and maybe ideas.... my favorite is the mistletoe ball on the stairs :)

Turkey Wrangling

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Here's the issue with the Thanksgiving turkey.... it is THE Thanksgiving turkey. It is the main focus point of the meal. You spend hours on end slaving away in the kitchen over side dishes and deserts all to complement a big chunk of meat. I mean, think about it- if you burn the turkey, that kinda ruins this whole meal that you literally have spent a month preparing and hours prepping for. It's kinda scary to most people to put that much pressure on one piece of meat!
Yes, even after doing this many years, it is still intimidating to me. Not to mention the whole "prepping" the turkey.
Here's what goes through my mind on Thanksgiving morning:
How the heck am I going to rinse this awkard lump of meat that weighs an insane 24 pounds ! Um...o.k. So I'm dangling this in my sink and trying to control where the faucet is hitting the turkey while trying to not drop it. It's freezing too! It's been thawed out in the fridge and happens to be very cold. And it's slippery! Oh crap, totally just dropped it- hope that didn't bruise it or tear the skin. This thing is bigger than a kid! It'd be easier to hug this thing and rinse- but eeew. Well, do I have another shirt? Ok, bad idea. Ok, got most of it rinsed by this point. Oh darnit, the turkey just hit the faucet- mental note: Disinfect that when I have to disinfect the sink later. And, LIFT. And then try to gently set this monster of an obese bird on a roasting rack. Phew. Now just pat dry.....and thoroughly scrub myself and the sink and possibly floor where water went splashing everywhere. Now yell at the dog to not lick the water on the floor, dangit that's going to make him sick. Kids!
No running in here! Don't come over here!...... When do I get to open the wine?!

Here's the good part- it turned out perfect! After I patted it dry I rubbed it down with a salt/herb mix and slathered with butter and olive oil. It was soooo good. Yay for a successful turkey roasting!

Organizing the Chaos

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I have a "junk" drawer in the kitchen and it seems like it's gotten even more cluttered recently. It seems like the junk drawer always coincides with how my life is going. When it's insanely cluttered I feel overwhelmed and am constantly busy. So I am taking the "junk" out of my "junk" drawer today. Thanksgiving is next week and I'm definitely feeling overwhelmed about that. I'm looking forward to it but it just seems like there is so much going on between now and then .... so much I have to do, clean, prepare, etc. I feel like Turkey day is racing here and I'm not ready! So I need to suck it up and get ready. I'm starting by cleaning out my junk drawer and organizing the house a bit. This way I'll get the cleaning done early. Hopefully this will free up some time closer to Thanksgiving and I won't be so stressed out. I will not be a stressed out mess, I will not be a stressed out mess, I will not.... maybe if I say it enough it will come true :)

Adult Place Cards

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Every year in our house we put place cards on the adult table that say "We are grateful for our friends and family." It's our way of saying thanks for coming and we love you guys. This year I was walking down an isle at Target and came across these adorable felt stickers. All I did was print out our little saying on white card stock. Then I took the stickers and stuck them on the sides of the cards. Ta-da! Super simple, super cute. You can take this idea and customize it to whatever you have on hand.

The silver ball place card holders add a touch of elegance and are available through "beau-coup":

Children's Place Cards

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taking the few extra minutes to make place cards for kids can make a huge impact. I really like turkeys so I decided to do a turkey for the kids but you could really do anything. I went to my local craft store and purchased large foam sheets of brown for about $1.99 each. The eyeballs were also purchased there for $0.99. This craft is pretty inexpensive. It would actually be a great craft to do with kids (age preschool and up).

1) I cut out a circle shape with scalloped edge scissors. Two per turkey.
2) glue feathers to the top of one brown circle. Apply other circle on top. Do not apply any glue to bottom half
3) I glued the eyes on. The beak and gobbler were hand made out of construction paper. Glue under eyes.
4) I hand cut a little sign like the turkey was saying the kid's name out of white construction paper.
5) Cut the base of the turkey so it's flat.
6) Let dry. Then gently pull the bottom apart to create a standing turkey. Done

Time to decorate for Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Last week I took down all my Halloween decorations and put up all my thanksgiving ones. Thanksgiving is such a fun time for me. It means lots of yummy food, good times spent with friends and family....and it's the precursor for Christmas! But before I can even think about Christmas I need to plan out my turkey day. And part of having a great turkey day is having a house that feels warm and welcoming and in my house that means lot of leaves. I think people can be a bit intimidated by decorating for thanksgiving. Don't be! Add those scarecrows and leaves! Here's how I decorated:

My welcome sign when I step in from the garage:

I always save pumpkins from October and use them to decorate for Thanksgiving. I also lite a lot of candles in the fall/winter, why not combine the two on a counter or side table?

A little pumpkin scarecrow, this one I positioned on some leaves.

My awkward steps above my fireplace..... I decorated them with pumpkins, scarecrows, lots of leaves and...

...a pumpkin turkey. What can I say, I thought he was cute!

See the hidden pumpkin behind the leaves???

I also like to decorate my china hutch. Everyone gathers in this area to eat and to be honest, it's a safe place for my Jim Shore woodcut figures.

I'm a little obsessed with Jim Shore woodcut'll see what I mean when I show you Christmas pictures...It's slightly "re-dunculous" as my hubby would say.

Cornucopia stuffed with leaves :) Simple and easy.

I even add a touch of leaves inside the hutch. It provides a nice pop of color and ties it all together.

I picked up this guy for $5 at my local craft store and the kids gave him a pilgrim hat :) I think we should name him.

Even our fridge is decorated. Turkey hand prints are the best! And so fun and easy. Just paint your hand with brown paint, then press on white paper. Glue feathers and ta-da! 

I purchased a bird houses at my local craft store and decorated it with fall colors and places it on top of my fridge. I'm not sure where this idea came from, but I like it.

Yes, my guest bathroom has fall towels and soap ;)

And I've replaced the real plants with a fall leaf assortment

My kitchen even gets a few touches

And Duke's treats

We made little American Indian pupets after reading a thanksgiving story. Simple craft and my kids love these guys! ....hmm....who knew.

And we can't forget our thanksgiving toys! :) The kids get really excited when they see these since they only come out of the garage once a year. Quick reminder: when storing seasonal toys remember to remove the batteries! 

I hope that gives you all a few ideas or maybe some Thanksgiving decoration inspiration! Happy decorating!! 

Halloween Recap

Monday, November 1, 2010

To say that Halloween was crazy is an understatement. It kept me up late at night planning, crafting and baking. I made a witch's shack halloween booth, 100 cupcakes and a costume for my great dane (....which he loved!). So I'm actually a little bit relieved today that it's all over. Although it was probably one of the most fun Halloween's we've ever had. Our neighborhood carnival was a huge success! The kids had so much fun! And I had a lot of fun in my little shack handing out those cupcakes. 

Left side pictures:

 notice the cat chasing the mouse??


And the right side, with my little cardboard shutters:

...and here I am inside my booth: 

And I did finish my dog's costume! And he loved it! I think he never gets to wear those things since he's so big, so it was a special treat for him. The next morning he kept whinning and nudging his I let him wear it the next day....he's just like a kid! 

I hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween too! Guess what... it's only 8 weeks till Christmas! Yikes!!!

I haven't fallen off the grid...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I've actually been holed up in my garage...and kitchen...and couch. I took a mental health day so I could finally shake a little cold that has been causing me great irritation. In addition to that fun, I've been baking and working non-stop on my Halloween booth. Today I baked one of my favorite recipe's, my swirl bread.

I've also been forcing cardboard to bend to my will :) My Halloween booth is coming along quite nicely. Here it is when I was figuring out the general layout.

And here it is as of today... All I have left is the decorations and the roof. I can't wait to slip into my witch's costume and hand out cupcakes from my booth!

I have to say, I'm very excited for Sunday....but I might be a little bit even more excited for Monday!

Dinner Party

Monday, October 25, 2010

I keep saying to myself, I really need to finish up costumes, booths and treats....but instead I'm playing host. There's nothing I love more than throwing a dinner party. I love setting up the table and figuring out the menu. I'm not sure why, but I just have so much fun! A dinner party shouldn't be stressfull, it should be a time for friends to come together to have a good time. Here's a couple of my tips that might help you out with your own dinner party....or maybe they'll inspire you to host one!

My tips for a dinner party:
1) Go ahead, pull out the china....besides it only gets used a couple times a year. Show it off!
2) Add a seperate water glass in addition to a wine glass. The restaurants do it and it makes your table look very elegant. (And yes, I do realize that in these pictures I hadn't added the water glasses yet).
3) Use chargers! No, I'm not voting for my favorite football team, I'm talking about the fake plates that go under the china. Chargers are bigger plates, sometimes made out of plastic, that are decorative and meant to add a decorative touch to your dinner plates.
4) Add a personal touch. Instead of name cards I write quotes on cards. We had our friends over last week and I wrote friendship quotes on the cards. We read the quotes out loud during the dinner which not only gave us something to talk about but also gave us an oportunity to tell them what great friends they are to us.

I hope these tips help you out with your next dinner party. And remember, have fun!

What now?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Can we say...clean up?! My hubby snapped this picture as we were discussing all the toys and clothes to organize and clean up.... oh my! I'm defninitely feeling a little bit overwhelmed today. At least the downstairs is in order, but the upstairs is a whole different ballgame! And I need to get started on thank you cards and my Halloween Carnival booth. Okay, time to take a deep breath and finish the morning coffee. Then I think I'll do a little bit of laudry organizing. Then maybe the thank you cards. I think on days that are overwhelming you have to take one task at a time. I can't think of the large list piled up, just one at a time... And that is my plan for today. One task at a time....