Thursday, December 31, 2009

colors of the year












a gift and a giveaway

My Sweet Man got me this movie (along with just about everything else on my list) this Christmas and I have already watched it about 5 times - maybe more.

The thing about watching this movie is it makes you want to cook. And cook. And cook.

My Sweet Man is the gourmet cook in our family, and I am the baker, though I have a few tricks up my sleve in the savory department as well (I make a yummy batch of Chicken -n- Dumplings if I do say so myself!)

For Christmas I tried to get him the perfect Christmas gift- a nice new baking dish. Turns out what I bought was a stoneware baking dish (sort of like the ones from Rachel Ray cookware ) but what he really wanted was a Cast-Iron Enamel Baking Dish. Not that he wasn't grateful for the one I got him, but it wasn't exactly what he was hoping for...

Luckily the kind people at CSN Stores are saving my bacon!

They are sending me a Enamel Cast-Iron Baking Dish to review, and drum roll please, they are also generously GIVING AWAY one also to one of my very LUCKY READERS!

So stay tuned and I will keep you posted about days to enter etc.
Right now I have to go pick out the perfect Julia recipe that we will use to test our new dish once it arrives...

If this is any indication of what the 2010 is going to be like, I am already overwhelmed with gratefulness!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


for some reason I cannot sleep.
I have been to sleep, I just cannot get back to sleep, so here I am posting in the early hours of the day.

I am sure it has something to do with the weird schedule have been keeping for the past week or so - staying up late finishing projects, watching movies etc. But last night I actually went to bed at a rather normal hour and I think I have now thoroughly confused my body. *sigh.*

I am notoriously bad at taking pictures on Christmas Day itself - so caught up in the action I always seem to forget to take pictures of the actual events. But here are a few.

This is one of all the presents wrapped up at 2 a.m. on Christmas morning.
My sweet man and I had a lovely "gift wrapping date" after the kids went to bed, which included watching Love Actually and drinking a bottle of wine while we wrapped gifts under the tree.
It was a lot of fun, despite the late hour, and we both agree it should become our new tradition.

and here is Miles opening the first one at 7:30 a.m.

I love the look on his precious face.

and here is Wylie, who was loving being "Santa" and handing out the gifts so much that we could barely get him to open his own gifts - a trend that continued at our next 2 Christmas's as well.

Christmas really is a lot of fun with kiddo's, I must say.

Monday, December 28, 2009

bean bag stiching

For Christmas this year I did mostly homemade gifts.

I love making gifts, and I always try to come up with new and fun things for my family and friends.

This years gifts were composed of lot's of Scrabble Letter necklaces, rings, key chains and hair pins, some wall signs and a few other odds and ends.

Of course I didn't get pictures of most of the items I made, because I was wrapping them as fast as I could make them, but somehow I managed to snap a few pictures of the 4 embroidery projects I did...

For my side of the family I made little Bean Bag Paperweights for all the gals.
This one was for my mother who loves to have "tea" time in the afternoons. Even though that usually means coffee.

For this beanbag and the one below I used patterns from The Black Apple @ Sublime Stitching

This Bean Bag was for my sister Jemimah.
Her husband is in the military and they just moved to Texas and she is in the process of setting up her home there. The green fabric is from her old couch cushions, and "Making" is sort of her trademark phrase.

This little Bean Bag was for my sister Judea. It is sort of a hodgepodge of favorite patterns and colors. I think maybe it is a little more "me" than "her," but I think the mix of the soft patterns and colors against the bold is VERY "her."
She is our soft-yet-bold gal after all.

This little neck pillow was for my Maw. I thought maybe she could use it during her 15 minute power naps.
I am not a fab seamstress so the pillow itself is a little wonky, but I can honestly say it was made with love, if not perfection!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I am in love with this mantle display from April at secondsister suaviloqy.
Her blog is one of my favorite little web jems.
I feel a kinship with her somehow, that I cannot completely explain.
Over the past few days I have finally begun to catch up on my blog reading and comment replying.

Doesn't that mantle just look delicious?

And this bookcase? Adorable!
I am currently obsessed with simple paper garlands and April's are so cute!

I made a few paper garland inspired items for Christmas this year myself (including this display over the dinning room table) and I have big plans for many more as the year progresses!

We are at my mother's house for a few days, relaxing, and doing a whole lot of nothing.
It is bliss. Again, I am so thankful for my new job and the fact that I can now keep "school time" with the boys. That is perhaps my favorite Christmas gifts of all.

My sweet man bought me the new Rachel Ashwell book, and I have enjoyed reading it as much as I have looking through it's pictures.

I think my favorite quote so far - one that sums up where I am in my life right now is this one:

"I have learned the pace of nature, her secret is patience."

isn't that just the best?

ok, back to do a bunch of nothing now.

Friday, December 25, 2009

to be human on Christmas

Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

You could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

But You came like a winter snow
You were quiet
You were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

Oh, no, Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still
It was small
It was hidden

You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

by audrey assed

last night at our Christmas Eve service, my littlest sister Judea and I sang the song above.
in front of people.
it was a sweet, humbling and memorable experience.

I have loved the song all season, playing it over and over in my car, singing it at the top of my lungs. Even though it is more of a whisper type of song.

I had this dream of Judea singing it at our Christmas Eve service. Somehow in the mix of things (read: crazy holiday madness) I agreed to sing it with her.
Now, one thing you should know is that Judea sings publicly a lot, and I don't. Well, not since I was a teenager and learned better.
But somehow, in the romance of Christmas I agreed to sing this one with her, in front of everyone I love. Oh, my.

So we did it. We sang our song, and like most plans made in a humans life, our little performance did not go exactly as planned. Let's just say it had it's ups and downs. It's highs and lows.
But we made it through- together- and it's memory - albeit slightly embarrassing - is one that we will share forever.

Today I was thinking about that song, about our singing it, and about our imperfections - as singers, as sisters, as humans.
And I thought about Mary. Mary, mother of Jesus.
I thought about the stable where Jesus was born, the crowded town of Bethlehem, the strange circumstances of her marriage and pregnancy. And I thought how giving birth in a stable, to baby God, was probably never, not even once, part of her own "best laid plans."

And I realized for the first time, that not only were the circumstances of Jesus' birth less than ideal, less than "perfect" (by Martha Stewart's standards to say the least) but that Mary herself was in some way imperfect as well. Maybe she didn't like the infant stage and resented midnight feedings. Maybe she had postpartum depression. Maybe she loved the toddler stage but had trouble with the preschool years (all those questions!) What if she was a messy housekeeper? What if she grew frustrated with Joseph for not taking out the trash and grumbled under her breath or worse, yelled at him? What if ?

What I realized as I thought about this new imperfect Mary was, that if I truly believe that Jesus came to earth as a Human, to have the same experiences that all of us have as earthlings, then he must of had the very common experience of having a less-than-perfect mother as well.
Maybe even one like me, who potentially embarrassed him by singing less-than-perfectly in front of all his friends. Or something similar - like putting him on the spot publicly by promising a distraught friend that he could turn water into wine for the thirsty wedding guest....

And I was aware, in a fresh way, of we are all connected, even to Christ himself, more through our shared less-than-perfectness (and the awareness of it) than perhaps in any other way.

Or as my friend Darrell put it much more eloquently when writing to a group of friends on Christmas Eve:

None of what we are doing would be possible if God had not initiated the invasion of earth by becoming a man. In the incarnation, God takes on the life and characteristics of humanity. In our salvation and sanctification, we take on the life and characteristics of God.

So whatever went wrong this Christmas - whatever you did poorly, whatever disappointed you, or however you disappointed yourself or others, whatever best-laid-plans fell through or did not go off as you had hoped, please remember Mary, and myself and know that you are in great, wonderful and accepting company.

After all, as long as Christmas has been celebrated, it has been hosted by less-than-perfect women, who just did what they could to show love the way they knew how.

Merry Christmas my friends!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

front stoop

here is the little decorating I did to the front stoop. It was not nearly enough to suit Miles, who is desperate for us to have lights galore. Maybe next year we will get to the lights... baby steps, baby steps...

the only thing I bought was the big wide cheap red velvet ribbon. and actually I bought it for a clients house and used the leftovers for me. I love that ribbon, it is the best looking ribbon for doing the outside of a house at Christmas - the wider the better!

all the green bits are from our tree.

this is my mail basket that I use for leaving my Etsy packages for the mailman. thought it needed a little dressing up as well.

this is our street lamp that has never worked (at least not since we have lived here...) it is on the long list of things to fix.

here is the wreath I made a few years ago - it has held up well considering.

it is just tinsel garland wrapped around a foam wreath, with some paper letters glued to it.

Still battling the cold. I am moving at about half speed, which means most people will be getting New Years cards this year, and some people may be getting gifts on December 27 instead of the 25, but we do what we can.

I am just glad to be with my family this Christmas and to have people in my life who understand I am not even close to perfect and who love me anyway, late gifts, messy house and all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

all was calm

for about 10 minutes. and this is what the living room looked like.

and then joy spilled over, and well you have seen what that looks like

but here are a few pictures of the living room all gussied up for Christmas, without the pirate ships, dirty dishes and laundry...

I am fighting a cold, and laying in bed trying to get some Christmas gifts finished.
What are you doing 2 days before Christmas?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

our advent

Growing up my family loosely observed Advent , just enough to give me a taste for it's sweetness, it's calming rhythm.

As an adult, I can honestly say that my experience of Christmas began to change for the better when we began our own Advent traditions in our little family. I found myself connected to the season in a way that I had lost since childhood. In observing Advent, I found there were more reminders of what the season is truly all about, instead of less, all around me. Slowly, the very essence of true Christmas became woven into every part of my holiday experience and I love it.

Here are some of our Advent traditions.
The Wreath.

We have an Advent Wreath the boys made at church last year during our annual "advent event" (a tradition passed down from my childhood church family.) With this wreath are 5 candles - 4 votives and 1 pillar jar.
The smaller candles represent: Love, Joy, Hope and Peace. The larger one is the Christ Candle to be lit on Christmas Eve.
On Sunday or Monday nights we try and eat dinner as a family at home, and we light the candles in order (there are 4 Sundays in Advent, and each Sunday we focus in on one of the 4 themes.)

We then take turns reading from the Advent guide that we put together at church, which has Readings, Poems, Scriptures and Questions pertaining to each weeks focus.

As the boys have gotten older, they have taken on more and more ownership of this weekly event and it has become a sweet time of renewal at the beginning of each busy holiday week.

The Garland.
We also have an Advent Garland that goes from December 1-December 25. They are simple shipping tags, which have the numbers and pictures pasted on the fronts, and then on the backs of each tag are "deep thoughts" or actions - like "Be Humble" or "Share a cup of cocoa with someone you love." Hanging from each tag is a small ornament. The boys take turns turning the shipping tag around and hanging the ornament on our tree.
This was my first stab at an Advent Garland, and each year I think I am going to make a new and improved one, a more "professional" one, but I think we all becoming a little bit attached to this one, warts and all.
It is honest and simple, and maybe that is what matters most.

The Cards
The last part of Advent that really isn't officially Advent, but that feels like it to me, is the Christmas card exchanging. Writing my cards each night, and checking the mail each day to see which ones have arrived is something I look forward too.
I know the tradition of sending cards has slowed down, and I know some people don't like the expectation and pressure that writing Christmas cards brings. But I am one of those Christmas nuts that really likes the whole kit and caboodle.
For me it is a way feel connected to those I know and love despite the miles we may have between us, or the lack of time we have together.
I love seeing the circles of the card wreathes fill up with faces and notes from friends, new and old. I love that I can see the passage of time, see so much history right there in one glance.
It reminds me that I am not an island.

Of course we do not observe any of these traditions perfectly. There are days where the advent tags on the garland pile up and we have to turn 3 at one time. There are times when the Candle Lighting doesn't happen till Tuesday or Wednesday if at all, and lots of people will get their Christmas cards from me in 2010 because I didn't get them all quite finished in time...
But I love having these traditions just the same, and I love that each year, we try again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

tree hunt 2009

I am officially on Christmas Holiday now and can get back to blogging (posting and reading!)
here is a belated post from thanksgiving weekend, 2009...

we're going on a tree hunt, a tree hunt, a tree hunt to see what we can find...

for several years now we have cut our own trees down, and for the past 3 years we have done so at my grandparents place.

one of my favorite parts of the experience is the interaction between my boys and my grandfather - their great-grandfather. they adore Paw, and always insist that he go with us on the Tree Hunt.

I am so very, very grateful for these memories. I am so grateful that my children have had the opportunity to know their great-grandparents so well, and that they are old enough to hide these memories in their hearts forever.

This picture perfectly sums up Miles and Meme's (my momma) relationship.
Playful and spirited till the in.
Love it!

After some searching, we found this beautiful "charlie brown" fairy tree.

I love the spread of the branches. So airy and whimsical...

(don't you just love a man who chops down tree's while donning a fedora?)

Wylie brings up the rear, helping Daddoe carry it back.

Home at last, resplendent and bedecked in all our Christmas finery, our little fairy tree lights up the living room.

welcome Christmas!
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