Monday, December 15, 2014

I'm enjoying doing

the December Daily Album this year -- 
It helps me slow down a bit and enjoy the moment...
finding a little joy in each day...
I want to share a few pages from this week - 
But first let me show you how I've gone back and 
embellished a bit on the pages from last week -
Putting in the journaling and a few 
tags and Christmas stickers --
So... on to this week --
On Sunday [the 7th] we had the opportunity 
to visit a relative celebrating her 90th birthday - 
how wonderful is that?
[We started our day with special music at church
so I included the flyer from that too - ]
Then Monday night we had an impromptu date night with friends
for dinner at the art museum and the tinsel trail downtown - 
You can see I've put a larger photo in sideways
as a half-page...
with another photo [and tag] on the back -
And on Tuesday we enjoyed our traditional
Messiah sing-a-long at a local church.
Always beautiful.
[Since the Deck the Halls was printed on the adjoining page 
I added a photo of my office from work --]
Wednesday was a travel day for me [work - whee]
But I took the time to visit a favorite island along the Gulf Coast
before I headed to the office -- 
[I always find peace at The Gulf -]
The page adjoining 11 will have different photos in the next few days -
Just haven't got those printed yet --
[So you might see these of our mantle again on another page -]
You can see that I added another partial page
[I really do LOVE the contrast of different sizes of pages!]
And the rocket always signifies home to me --
It was a long trip, so it was so good to be back home -
[Love our front porch decor --]
Another partial page, clear so you can see the little elf 
that travels along with me...
I think he needs a name - hmmm...
 I bet you've noticed some repeating elements on my pages --
I picked up a bag of tiny foam trees that I'm adding throughout, 
as well as the craft tags, large word stickers, and red lace... 
And of course the numbers for each day -- 
I think it adds continuity...
or helps it all flow better...
Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We had my side of the family to our house

for Thanksgiving and I loved it.
We decided to go with a non-traditional meal
[but now I’m doing a re-think on that because 
I DO love Aunt Betty’s dressing recipe and I miss having it…]
I loved sharing dessert with this girlie -  
She ate the icing and I ate the cake, 
saving me a TON of calories - lol -
Before dinner we had a little pre-dinner shooting –
Much thanks to the oldest for bringing the entertainment!
and he supervised us well, I might add.
[A pellet gun, y'all -]

 It's always fun to glide with my favorite little girl -
She helped me edit this photo too -
But on to the meal -- 
I set two tables to accommodate all of us
I used our regular dishes for the table setting, 
layered with a paper plate underneath [for dessert] 
and clear glass plate on top for salad. 
The table d├ęcor was gathered from around the living room – ha. 
[I’m loving the burlap table runner I got at Wal-Mart.]
- JimmyJohns provided the bread...
and Ricatoni's the dipping spices...
We did a pasta bar – with three kinds of pasta 
[shells, angel hair, and cheese tortellini] 
- served from the stove top -
[I didn't cook it until everyone had arrived -]
and three sauces 
[marinara, alfredo, and primavera 
 {that I COOKED – Pioneer Woman’s recipe -}] 
These were kept warm in crock pots -
We also had some baked 
chicken, turkey meatballs, and sausage to top things off… 
[kept warm in an electric skillet -]
Everyone could make their favorite -
Of course we started with a nice salad full of olives and roasted red peppers – 
and ended with a yummy pumpkin roll, carrot cake, blueberry bread, and mixed fruit. 
Doesn’t everyone need four desserts for ten people? 
[Thanks to Kelly for this photo - ]
Then, of course, after dinner 
we had to roast some marshmallows around the fire pit. 
[There really is something relaxing about sitting around a fire 
and visiting, with no agenda other than to just be together -]
And we ended the day with some crazy hammock shenanigans.
[Thanks to Kelly for this photo - ]
There was at least {more than} one moment when I thought 
little MK was going to be dumped overboard…
[my cell phone does not 'freeze' the moment well--
But I took this one with Kelly's camera,
so glad we got at least one of the three of them that was good -  
And now it's on to Christmas///
I have some travel to do this month, but I'm still trying to 
be intentional about celebrating the real reason for the season...
I hope I'm able to capture it all in my December Daily album 
that I'm sharing each week with you- 

Monday, December 8, 2014

December Daily - week one

I've done a December Daily Scrapbook
[a-la Ali Edwards] 
off and on for a few years now...
I'd originally bought this album for last year
[a planner, really]
from Stampin' Up and just couldn't get into doing a whole lot with it- 
So ended up doing a simple little thing  instead- 
I'll take some photos of that one and share with you -
Here's the prep - 
punched number 'cards' - cricut numbers - and xyron adhesive
The base of the album was done early in the fall of last year...
And here's how this week looks 
[so far -- I've still got some journaling and embellishing to do!]
I always like for the 'cover' page to be a large photo of our tree... 
This is a 5x7 print...
This first page actually occurred mid-November during our 
annual walk-through of at The Botanical Gardens - 
A traditional kick-off to the season for the past 20+ years --
 Love that we've been going with this same group of friends for that long!
LOVE the lights - 
And always LOVE the rocket that shows the way --
This is a little 'everyday life' photo 
of my Christmas Cactus - 
It was given to me as a gift LAST November
and I've actually kept it alive for a whole year!!
 The calendar is penciled in with all the interesting things 
we'd like to do during the season, 
We know we won't get to them all - 
I'll color-code it and finalize it as the weeks go by...
 LOVE our Women's Dinner at church each year!
This year Anita Renfroe was our speaker - 
and she was so great!
Always fun to get together with these gals!
This is my little pink tree at work
and our white tree at home that we [finally] got up on Thursday.
Do you love sitting in the lights of the tree as much as I do?
We did a little shopping Friday night and I picked up some little gifties...
And since Saturday was St. Nicholas Day we got up early to deliver our traditional chocolate Santas to the oldest and his wife [we'd put youngest's in the mail to him earlier--] so we took the time for a nice breakfast at one of our favorite local cafes...
But sadly - we're addicted to our own coffee and take our own - ha
Although, we DO order something to drink from them or that'd just be rude - lol
Again - this is the bare-bones of it - I've got a stash of embellishments and lots of journaling to add to it... I'll share the whole thing once it finished...
But I wanted to show that I was indeed working on it - ha.
I've loved seeing others' on FB and instagram!
I think it's great to document the ordinary days in this 
extraordinary season of Goodness and Light -

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How I feel about santa Claus -

[an edited repeat from past years...]

Pere Noel, Christkindle, Father Christmas, Kriss Kringle, Sinterklas,
St. Nicholas
I was first introduced to St. Nicholas as a freshman in college when my dear friend Grace [whose grandparents on both sides of her family came to the US from the Netherlands] put a wooden shoe, filled with candy, outside my door on December 6th. [Still have that shoe, btw.]
I’ve loved the idea of St. Nicholas ever since!
There’s a lot of fact and folklore about him today, but most believe he was a real person and that the idea of Santa Claus came from the acts of goodwill that he did.
[Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, if you will - ]
Here’s a link that tells his story briefly.
I’ve always wanted to have “Santa Claus” visit our boys on December 6th and keep Christmas sacred [or, practically --at least spread out the gift-receiving a little for them], but differed to C’s wishes. So instead, for the last 27 years, our boys have always received a chocolate Santa on December 6th. [Granted there were some years when I was out at 5 a.m. to get these Santas because of our crazy schedule! – But it was done!] 
This year? Let's just say they're on their way!
So, Happy St. Nicholas Day to you!
At our house Santa has always been pretend.
Our boys were never taught he was real, but more just a character of the secular celebration of Christmas [kind of like Mickey Mouse = celebration of magical place] who left gifts for them on Christmas morning. They’ve always known that Mom and Day were “Santa.” We’ve had a few Santa photos through the years [we have those Mickey ones too!] and we’ve had fun with it, but have always, always tried to help our boys see that
Jesus truly is the reason we have anything at all to celebrate in this life.
We hope that in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season you can take the time to see a tiny baby lying in a manger who died so we might live eternally.
What a hope we have because of Him!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Y'all know that we do a little Family Fondue Fun

each Thanksgiving –
And, we really should do it more often…
Why don’t we?!
  Our menu almost always includes the following:
Cheese Fondue with new potatoes, broccoli, apples, and bread cubes
Main Course [fried with or without batter or cooked in broth] – shrimp, beef, chicken, and mushrooms with cheese for stuffing…
And of course – Chocolate Fondue for dessert – with pound cake cubes, cherries, and marshmallows [we’ve had strawberries and bananas too, 
since we’re all about keeping it healthy – lol]
  Here’s some tips to keep things flowing nicely throughout the meal:
Our table is set with fondue pots at each end so everyone can reach it easily with a lazy susan in the middle for [somewhat] easy access – we use fondue plates I pick up at thrift stores whenever I find them, and we have a little bowl for the raw meat since you don’t want to mix the raw with the cooked.    
I do a little prep work ahead of time – Chopping most everything into bite-sized pieces.
I cook the little potatoes [no one wants to bite into a raw potato!] and usually steam the broccoli a bit too –the apples are set aside in some lemon juice so they don’t discolor. 
I cook the cheese fondue right before the meal and keep it warm on the stove top [hint: don’t skimp on the cheese; gruyere makes a HUGE difference between a good fondue and GREAT fondue!] When it’s time to eat the potatoes, apples, bread cubes, and broccoli are arranged [piled] on the LID of the divided container I use for the raw meats… then set on the lazy susan and we’re ready to go! 
[The men take care of adjusting the flame underneath each one…]
 I begin heating the oil and broth
[daughter-in-love brought the MOST DELICOUS broth this year!]
while we’re enjoying the cheese fondue – then we [again, the men – ha] carefully bring it to the table while I’m getting the pre-cut raw meats out of the fridge and arranging them in their container, with the mushrooms –a family favorite.
You can use whatever meats you want, we prefer a bit of beef and shrimp, and a whole lot of chicken and mushrooms.
Clean and pull the stems from your mushrooms ahead of time.
– I put the softened cream cheese in little cups around the table with spreaders.
[Double hint: you stuff the mushroom with {garden vegetable} soft cream cheese, dip it in batter and give a good fry – OH MY. So very good!]

  The fondue pots we use for this part of the meal are electric and we can d we can easily adjust the temperature on them to keep the cooking nice and even…
I take a quick break and clean the cheese from the two fondue pots [saving what little is left for a re-heat later in the week…] and put the chocolate fondue in these. 
 [I forgot to mention, I prep the chocolate fondue ahead of time on a make-shift double boiler and leave it to stay warm on the stove, so it’s ready at a moment’s notice!] I like these two fondue pots because they can both be used a double boilers [meaning VERY hot water is in the bottom area and the fondue is setting on a bowl on top.] 
For me, this is the BEST way to insure your fondue doesn’t burn on the bottom. 
[Triple hint – I keep a big pot of water boiling on the stove so I can prepare these fondue pots – during both courses without waiting on water to boil - ] 
I usually have the dessert container ready to go with cherries [drained] cubes of pound cake, marshmallows cut in half, bananas, strawberries, etc. so that it can replace the meat tray on the lazy susan quickly.

All-in-all a really fun, interactive, and delicious meal 
that each person can tailor to what they want to eat. 
I love it – and I think the rest of the family does too – 
 -Here's the place setting - 
I know you were dying to see it - ha.
 I used plastic plates [Old Time Pottery] as chargers, fondue plates from thrift stores, 
and glass bowls [label is taped on underneath.] 
The skewers are tied with a bit of orange ribbon to contrast 
with the leaf designs on the 'charger' and the table runner. 
- A fun and functional table setting. 
Do you fondue too?
I'd love to hear about how you do it! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

What a great weekend!

But great, none-the-less...
 I was kind of dreading doing the whole holiday thing again without our Mama...
Last year I think we were still in such shock over losing her...
we just went through the motions...
So this year, I'm feeling the loss just a bit more.
[And I guess I know it will always be there --]
But we did okay.
 There's lots of joy to be found with family --
 We started the holiday with Craig's mother on Thanksgiving day -
a relaxing day of just visiting together ...
[lunch provided by Cracker Barrel.]
Next we had our little family gathering with fondue fun!
I prepare it all 
and then let them cook their own!
[More on that in a few days -]
It was yummy!
Then we finished the weekend up 
with my extended family here at the house -
We had a great day - a pasta bar 
[we're so non-traditional, ha.]
and a little afternoon air-soft shooting, fire-pit sitting, marsmallow roasting...  
leaf throwing, and hammock swinging.
All-in-all a pretty good day!
[Photos to come!]
I DO love Thanksgiving!
for me, it's a relaxed holiday 
with no expectations other than good food -- 
A great time to 
with family.
 Even if we are a little nutty - 
[Hope your holiday was great too!]

Friday, November 28, 2014

So here's a favorite photo

for this Friday after Thanksgiving.
I'm sure I've shared it before ---
Back in the day we'd always do our best to be together for the after-thanksgiving sales -
[even that time I had to 'sneak' over to Decatur because I was on-call for work - ha]
One of our favorite places to shop was Rhodens - out in Russellville [now closed]...
Mama always gave us a little cash to spend, and it was never about the amount - but instead about how far we could stretch it! 
And stretch it, we did!
I love this photo, 
I love that I happened to have my camera with me 
and asked a complete stranger to snap this shot 
[this was WAY before digital or cell phones...]
I love that it captures an 'every-day' moment that was a tradition in our lives.
I love that we all look so young and healthy - ha.
[I love that I STILL have those wreaths too!]
Happy Shopping y'all!
Doubt I'll be out in the crowds this year 
- I'll be getting ready for our own traditional fun-family-fondue.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Speaking of Thanksgiving Trees --

Here's one from [more than] a few years back --
We always put our thankful tree on the pantry door of our little kitchen.
The tree was cut from paper bags, and the leaves from construction paper 
[or I may have bought them at our local school supply store - but this was WAY before personal die-cutting machines!] with a little something we were thankful for each day of the month - .
I'm thankful for my boys [and the faces they make!]
Time sure flies!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We had our 'last' art group meetiing

 this month at my house -

[We'll have an artist-date type meeting in December where we'll finish up our Bible Study at a cute little cafe by the river and then shop the local antique and thrift stores...]
I love God's timing - this month our study talked about bringing our creativity to God... 
being thankful for what He has given us -
 and how we are made differently, yet, 
we can pull our strengths together in a mighty way --
And since we've had a 'thankful tree' in our house for as long as I can remember I thought it would be fun to create a canvas [yes! we moved up from our journal cards!] based on this one [on the left] that was inspired by Christy Tomlinson's class a few years back - 
I did the pink one during our meeting this month - 
But I was so inspired by the ones the others created, I wanted to put one in my art journal for the class as well.... 
[you can see it closer at the top --]
Then... while I was traveling for work 
[and I've done a bit of that lately - ha], 
I saw these prints in my hotel room 
and thought I'd put my spin on it for the other page in my book.
Not exact, for sure! 
But still, I think you can see the inspiration - 
And I've so loved creating in my art journals 
these past couple of years - 
creating with no expectations of perfection - 
just expression... 
and creative learning.. 
and gathering my thoughts together ...
What kind of things inspire you when you create?