Friday, November 30, 2012

Waiting

One of my good friends is having her baby today.  I'm so excited for her.  He should be here in just a little over an hour.  So, send her some good thoughts today.  I can't wait to see that sweet baby!

I'm ready for my workday to be over so I can get home and get the house cleaned so I can finish my Christmas projects.  All that's probably going to happen tonight is a little house cleaning.  We have a birthday party to go to tonight but I figure I can get a good start on the house before we leave.

I painted the small canvases to go on my mantle last night.  No pictures yet, I'm trying to wait until it's all done.  Maybe I'll be back with a sneak peak tomorrow.  We'll see.  So to put one of the canvases where I wanted it, I had to stand on the chair by the fireplace.  Later in the evening my husband asked what I had done with my project.  I laughed and said didn't you see me prop them up on the mantle.  He just looked at me blankly.  He hadn't even realized I was standing on furniture.  I thought it was pretty funny.

So now I'm just waiting for 3 o'clock so I can head home and get my projects going.  Of course I have tons of work to do today so the day should go by fast.  Publisher and I are best friends today.

What projects are you working on this weekend?  Are you finishing up Christmas decorating?  Or are you knocking out some Christmas shopping (I still need to start, oops)?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Open Season

In Missouri it's duck season.  And goose season. And for a few more days, deer season.  What does that mean?  All of those mean my husband is going hunting this weekend, Saturday at least.  When we were first married I hated hunting season.  I was still in grad school and if he was gone hunting it meant I actually had to do homework.  I didn't have an excuse.  And I knew I better do it while he was gone so we could spend time together when he was done and I wouldn't be stuck doing homework.  Now, grad school is over.  That means while he's gone I can craft, decorate, and clean to my heart's content.  I love it.

So, since I know there will be hunting on Saturday I have great plans.  I'm going to finish my Christmas decorating.  And I'm going to clean my house.  Cleaning is never fun, but when I know decorating and crafting is going to happen right after, it makes it totally okay.

And maybe I better wrap up No Clutter November since the month is almost over.  Sheesh.  Here''s a quick quick update.  The laundry room is almost under control.  The hall bathroom is a thousand percent better.  My storage solutions under the cabinet have helped immensely.  I love opening those doors.  I have actually been putting stuff away in our bedroom so that's pretty amazing.  The linen closet is fairly well under control.  For some reason it's helped that I've quit storing toilet paper in there.  I'm not sure why that mattered so much but I feel like it's given me much more space.  The closet in the laundry room is getting knocked out this weekend.  And the office....  I'd rather not talk about the office.  So instead I'm just going to be impressed with what I've gotten done other places.  Stay tuned for an update with pictures early next week hopefully.

Now the real question, what am I going to work on this weekend?

I'm going to be putting wreaths up on the outside of our bay windows.  I'm going to have to figure out how to reach the top, it may involve standing on the shrubs.  Wish me luck.  Maybe somebody should come check on me.....  I got the idea from Thrifty Decor Chick and her gorgeous shutters.
(source)

I'm in love.  Absolutely in love.  I just grabbed some red ribbon and three cheap wreaths at Walmart.  Hopefully it turns out as well as I want it to.  And I don't injure myself standing on the shrubs.

I'm also going to get my mantle finished.  Last night I wrapped new ribbon around my candle holders.  I'm loving switching these out for the season.  I just bought some pretty cream ribbon at World Market.  I'm kind of wishing I'd bought silver or gold but I couldn't decide so I just went with cream.  It's okay but it could be better.  So, on the mantle I'm going to put some cute little canvases on either side of my tree and mirror.  Sort of like these from the Lovely Cupboard

And I'm going to finally finish my stupid little Christmas tree cones.  If JoAnn's doesn't have them when I go this weekend, I'm just making my own.  I give up.  I keep seeing them on Pinterest and blogs everywhere and they're gorgeous.  I have one little one done and I love it.  I just need to do my other little one and buy two medium and two large so that I can be done.  Fingers crossed.

Anybody else struggling to get all their Christmas decorating done?  Or love it when their husband is gone so that you can have a crafting free for all?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Making a List

and checking it twice.

I decided it was time for an updated house list.  This permanently lives over on the To Do List page.  Sometimes it's nice to look back and see what we've done.  Especially when sometimes I feel like there's so much more to get done.  Ug.  And just when I think our house sucks, I go back and look at the before pictures, and even when our house is messy I know it's better than it used to be.

So, now.  The list....  It's long.  Get ready.

Inside

Entryway
Rip out skanky old vinyl flooring (I like to call it linoleum because that's what we called it when I was a kid) [edit] We didn't end up having to rip it out, according to the good ole internet, I could patch any holes (which there were a few), make sure old flooring was firmly stuck (thanks staple gun) and prime the old flooring before putting down my new tile.
- Put in shiny new peel and stick vinyl tiles.  I found what I want at Home Depot.  I think I can do the whole project for about $30 and I'm hoping to start on Monday. [edit] It ended up costing about $40, I can't do math.
- Do a happy dance that the first thing you are greeted with upon entry to our house is not curling up linoleum with holes in it.  Classy.
Find a skinny bench to store shoes under so I can hide the shoes I like to kick off when I come in the door though (Not too skinny of a bench though, I have big feet) [edit] I ended up buying this table at a garage sale for a bargain.  As a bonus, it has great storage.
-Paint over terrible crackle finish 
-Paint weird white trim brown
-Paint front door 
-Paint closet & laundry room door 
-Paint ugly barnwood door frame 
- Add quarter round at the baseboards to finish floor

Hallway
- Paint walls and paneling [edit] I may still want to repaint the actual hallway so the lower (formerly paneling) part of the walls is a darker color or so that the top part is a lighter color.  Or maybe paint the bottom part a darker color.  I can't decide.
- Replace carpet with wood laminate floors
- Hang art [edit] Even though this is one of the places there is actually stuff up on the wall, I'm not entirely happy with all of it.  I think some of it needs to change.

 Kitchen/Dining Room
- Rip out skanky old vinyl flooring.  It's covered with paint and has holes in it.  So attractive! [edit] After further investigation, we don't have to rip out the old floor.  We can just tack down the loose places and put down underlayment.
- Replace sub floor by dishwasher that is soft from the great pre-dishwasher installation leak of 2011.  Ug.
- Beg Dad and sister's boyfriend to install pretty new wood laminate floor
- Bake Dad butterscotch brownies in appreciation for new floor installation
- Add quarter round at baseboards to give the floor a more finished look.
- Run water line to freezer so our ice maker will make ice.
-Try to convince someone that building a seat under bay window for better kitchen seating is a great idea and that they want to help me build it
- Rearrange/replace art.  Hopefully a mini gallery wall.  [progress] New art is up in one place and I love it.  The other art I want I am either going to make or suck it up and buy.
Paint trim
Paint walls 
Paint cabinets 
- Relocate door knobs in a normal way
Repaint ceiling fan fixture and overhead kitchen light 
Install new backsplash 
Build exposed shelves on end of cabinet 
Replace ugly pink Formica countertop 
Replace brown cast iron sink with a shiny new sink 

 Living Room
- Find art
- Hide light sconce cords (yes, there are cords for our light sconces, it's tacky and I can't help it)
- Find cute turquoise end table [edit] I didn't even have to buy one, turns out I owned a table I could repaint.  Amazing.
- Buy lamps with turquoise accents.  At least one anyway
- Replace carpet with wood laminate floors.
- Paint trim
- Install trim around sliding glass door
Paint fireplace mantle
Paint built-ins by fireplace
Replace movie theater light sconces with normal ones 
Rewire overhead light in a safe way 
Paint walls 
Paint other ugly barnwood door frame 
Hang pretty curtains
Buy new couch and chair

Guest Bathroom
- Paint walls
- Paint vanity & cabinet
- Replace sink/countertop [edit] Has been purchased, just needs to be installed.  Woo hoo!
- Install new cabinet hardware
- Rip off strange single cabinet door
- Add crown molding around ceiling
- Trim out mirror
- Buy new faucett
- Install new towel bar
- Consider putting a shelf above the door
- Trim out upper cabinet? 

Office
- Paint walls
- Hang curtains
- Find a better storage solution for wrapping paper and craft supplies.

 Master Bedroom
- Find a bed frame and start sleeping like a grown up.  We are too old for our bed to sit on the floor  [edit] We picked out a bed, it's getting delivered soon.  I can't wait! [edit] Delivered and in place!  I bruised the top of my foot.
- Get organized, that room is a disaster!
- Learn to put away my clothes.  Geez.
- Find art.  Notice a theme?  We have a lot of very empty walls. [edit] one wall has art, now I just need a couple other things.
- Paint horizontal stripes on wall behind the bed.
Paint
Install double closet rods and built in shoe rack 
Hang pretty curtains 

Master Bath
- Find real curtains to replace blinds.  [edit] Made roman shades with my mom.  Love them!
Buy bathroom rugs that actually match the bathroom  Thanks Dollar General!  $15 and it's exactly what I wanted.
-Paint walls 
Repaint built in cabinets
Hang art

Guest Bedroom
- Paint walls (get rid of crazy red and blue)
- Hang curtains
- Fix closet doors or at least get new knobs
- Paint trim?
- Install new overhead light
- Wish for a closet light

Basement
- Finish painting bar
Paint door (inside and out)
- Think about refinishing trim on stairs
- Desperately wish for a good way to paint the top half of the walls in the stairway
- Replace linoleum by door
- Rip out old carpet and replace it with something better
Paint walls 
Paint bar (most of it anyway) 
Knock out weird shelf in the bar and put in a mini fridge 
Hang art 
Buy fancy new TV
Make curtains out of sheets because I am cheap and it requires no sewing 

Basement bedroom
- Paint walls
- Install new overhead light
- Make curtains
- Replace baseboards
- Buy new switch plate cover that doesn't look like a light switch grill

Basement bathroom
- Paint walls
- Paint ceiling
- Install floor
- Buy shower curtain
- Consider cleaning horrifying shower
- Paint vanity
- Replace sink/countertop
- Replace faucet

Outside
-Paint outside of house -- shutters, trim, siding.  I got a quote for someone to come paint it for us.  The amount was horrifying.  But my Dad said he would help me do it.  Huge sigh of relief.
-Power wash house (that should probably come before the painting)
Power wash deck
Stain deck
- Paint and install trim around sliding glass doors
- Demo front side walk
- Put in new paver walkway
Trim shrubs 
Plant flowers (and actually kept them alive!)
Buy pavers to replace front sidewalk 
Put in pavers to expand downstairs patio 
Desperately wish to rip out shrubs
Pick shutter color 
Repaint garage doors (it's so fancy now!)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

All That Glitters

Oh boy.  I like tequila.  There it is.  I'm waiting for my dear hubby to get back from a hunting trip and I'm drinking tequila while I'm finishing up my Dare-to-do-it-Yourself challenge for the week.  This week it's entertain.

And I'm watching Hitched for the Holidays on Hallmark.  Left on my own, I love Hallmark Christmas movies.  Especially when the tequila is out.  And really, I'm a girl of the 90s, if you put Joey Lawrence in a movie, I'm pretty happy.

Just for the record, I would usually schedule tonight's post to go up in the morning.  However, talk of tequila first thing in the morning implies that I might have a problem.  I don't.  In the morning I will be at work.  Working.

So, before we get to the challenge.  Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving was fantastic this year.  We went to my husband's family on Thursday and enjoyed tons of delicious food.  My pie and sweet potatoes were a total hit.  My husband headed off on his hunting trip Thursday night when we got back.  Friday morning I headed out to my parents house.  My sister and I made all the desserts -- pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and fresh apple cake.  The apple cake is my favorite.  Holy cow, it's so good.  I also processed my pumpkins that I had decorated with.  Well two of the big ones anyway.  I ended up with eight 24 ounce containers of pumpkin.  I can't wait to bake pumpkin stuff with fresh pumpkin.  It's so much better!

Okay, challenge time.  Remember to go check out the sweet party hostesses, Chelsea, Kim, Michelle, and Rachel.
This week is Entertain.  So, when we entertain we never have an actual sit down dinner party.  We usually do the meat (smoked or BBQ'd) and a couple of sides and desserts.  Then all our friends bring sides and drinks.  So, we usually end up with food and beverages covering every surface in the kitchen.  So, the table never really gets decorated.  I'm using my own little twist on the Entertain.  The girls usually end up congregating in the living room with our plates of food and drinks so I'm more likely to decorate the coffee table than our dining table.

What did I use?  I got three votive holders for $1 a piece at Walmart.  I used some painters tape, glue, and a mix of gold and silver glitter to add some fun sparkly accents..  I got a long picture frame for like $4, took the glass out and painted the back side with glue and coated it with glitter.  The glass went back in the frame and the candles sit on top creating a faux tray.  I couldn't find a tray that I liked and the frame was the perfect color and size so I went with it.




What's that drink setting on the table (the one you can't see, it's there, I promise)?  Oh, that's my tequila.  I realized I love mixing it with Cranberry Sierra Mist.  It's so delicious.  But, when I went to Walmart tonight on my way home, there was no Cranberry Sierra Mist so the drink du jour is cranberry juice, 7Up, and tequila.  It works.  Not quite as good.  For a real party, I would search down the Cranberry Sierra Mist.  It has such a nice festive look.  And I would probably put a slice of lime on the glass but since it's just me tonight I didn't go too fancy.

How do you entertain for the holidays?  Do you host a big sit down dinner for your friends or family?  Or are you more casual like we are and just rock the buffet?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What's for dinner...

I'm back, as promised, with recipes.  If I weren't so lame I would take pictures.  But nothing is fully assembled.  The sweet potato part of the sweet potatoes is in the fridge waiting to be baked tomorrow morning.  The homemade pudding for the pie is in the fridge waiting to go in the pie shell.  I made my first homemade pie crust successfully this morning.  Pretty impressed with myself.

Without further ado, recipes.

Sammy's Sweet Potatoes
4-5 medium sweet potatoes
2 T butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c sugar
1/2 c evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
Cook sweet potatoes, mash.  Add butter, salt, vanilla, sugar, milk, and eggs.  Mix together, pour into greased 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle topping on casserole.  Bake 35 min at 350.
Topping
1 c brown sugar
4 T butter
1 c chopped pecans
1/2 c flour
Combine ingredients, mix well.

Oh man, it's so good.  I can't wait to eat these tomorrow.

Chocolate Pie (from Betty Crocker, 1961)
*for a 9: pie
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 cocoa
3 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups whole milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 T butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan.  Gradually stir in milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Gradually stir at least half of hot mixture into egg yolks.  Then blend into hot mixture in saucepan.  Boil 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.  Blend in butter and vanilla.  Pour immediately into baked pie shell.  Finish with pie meringue.  Let cool at room temperature.  Or pie may be chilled thoroughly and topped with whipped cream.

I always put whipped cream on it.  Usually just Dream Whip.  You can use 2% or skim milk, but it's much more decadent with whole milk.  I always make it that way for the holidays.  It's so worth it.  I used to always use a silicone spatula with a wooden handle (thanks Paula Dean) to stir with.  Until I bought a silicone coated whisk.  Use a whisk.  It's the best way to make sure there are no lumps.  Since I've started using a whisk, my pudding has come out perfect every time.  You really do have to stir it the entire time you're cooking the pudding.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Anybody else make something new successfully?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Foooooood

I love holiday food.  And to be honest, as much as I love BBQ and fried zucchini, fall/winter holiday food is my favorite.  I especially love Thanksgiving food because it is the most holiday specific.  It seems like Christmas just borrows Thanksgiving's food.  For the most part anyway.  So, as Thanksgiving gets closer I've been thinking about my favorite holiday foods.

Sweet potatoes.  I love sweet potatoes.  There is one sweet potato recipe that is my absolute favorite though.  I got it from this sweet, sweet lady at the church I grew up in.  Her name is Sammy.  She brought lemon bars to the dinner after my aunt's funeral.  They were delicious.  She passed away just a few days later.  I will always love her for those lemon bars.  Funeral food is not always guaranteed to be good.  But in my hometown it is.  I remember opening the door for Sammy and seeing those lemon bars.  I can still taste them.  Okay, back to the sweet potatoes.  They are the most amazing sweet potatoes in the world.  You could put them in a pie crust and eat them for dessert.  They are creamy and sweet with a pecan crunch on top.  Amazing.  I wish we were having them for Thanksgiving.  We're not.  Maybe I'll make them to take to my mother in law's.  I really may have to.

Dressing.  I swear my mom makes the best dressing in the world.  Wait, is it stuffing or dressing?  We call it dressing because it never goes in the bird.  My mom makes hers with half white bread and half cornbread.  Man it's sooooo good.  And this year she's getting special white bread so that I can eat it.  Best Mom ever!  I hate it when people don't make real dressing for Thanksgiving.  I mean Stove Top and what not is good but you need the real stuff at Thanksgiving.  I may secretly judge people who use the instant stuff for holidays.  If you do, I'm sorry.  I promise we can still be friends.

Cranberry relish.  My sister makes it.  It's amazing.  I love cranberry in pretty much anything though.  Sauce, bread, on a sandwich.  Trust me people.  Cranberry relish or sauce on a turkey sandwich is amazing.  I can totally do without turkey for the most part.  It's fine, not my favorite, but it's fine.  But you put it on a sandwich with cranberry relish and it's amazing.

Cranberry bread is probably my favorite.  Nothing says Christmas to me more than cranberry bread.  Someday, maybe tomorrow, I will give you the recipe.  You will love me for it.  I promise.

Chocolate pie.  That is my thing.  The thing that I bring to all dinners with my husband's family.  When we first started dating and I started going to holiday stuff with him he asked me to make a chocolate pie.  I've been bringing it ever since.  Apparently it ranks right up there with Grandma's chocolate pie.  I just use a recipe out of Betty Crocker.  The real key is whole milk and butter.  So healthy, right.  But it's delicious.  

So, now that I've made you hungry and possibly jealous of holiday food I have to cook dinner for my hubby.  But I promise I will share recipes tomorrow.  What's anybody else cooking for the holidays?  What are the foods you have to have or it's just not Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful Heart

As I was thinking about writing this post, A Muppet Christmas Carol kept coming to my mind.  This is my all time favorite Christmas movie.  We had the VHS when I was a kid, I bought the DVD a few years ago and every year when Christmas comes around, I make everyone possible watch it with me.  It's amazing.  What does that have to do with today?  So glad you asked, Chelsea over at Two-Twenty-One is hosting a sweet little link party.  This week's theme is "Be Thankful"  So, before we get to my project, here's a little clippy for you from A Muppet Christmas Carol
Watch it.  Humor me.  Be glad you don't live close enough for me to force you to watch the whole movie with me.  But seriously, if you've never seen the movie go watch it.  Do it now.

Okay, back to "Dare to Do it Yourself"

When I started thinking about the first challenge, I just wasn't sure.  I searched Pinterest.  I thought really hard.  I was already so in love with my fall mantle.  I mean serious love.  It's the first year I've decorated for fall and I was pretty impressed with myself.
I thought it was pretty darn snazzy.  Well, until my pumpkins started caving in.  There were some issues.  So by Saturday, the argyle pumpkin and the big orange pumpkin had gone in the trash.  That left me with just the mantle to work with.  I was most in love with my little leaf canvas so I worked with that a little.

I grabbed a tiny wooden plaque at JoAnn's.  I painted it cream.  I thought about brown for a long time but our mantle is brown and I was afraid it would blend in too much so cream it was.  Then I pulled out my bottle of brown craft paint and a small paintbrush and just freehanded the word "thanks" onto my piece of wood.  I'm not 100% happy with it, I feel like it could've been a little better but it'll do.
So, not too bad.  I do love that canvas though, with my brown leaf.  And the cute little polk a dot pumpkin.  Love it.  I guess all in all I'm pretty happy with it.  Honestly it's not still out though.  We don't host any holidays at our house so the fall has already been packed away and Christmas is starting to sneak out.  I may have accidentally put up the tree on Sunday.  And now my living room may be covered in glitter.  Here's a sneak peek....

It's not quite Christmas yet though.  And I do love Thanksgiving.  Anybody else making sweet fall/Thanksgiving crafts?  Or did you make a better craft than me?  Probably so.  





Vinegar

Okay, the other day I wrote an embarrassing comment on this post at IHeartOrganizing.  I talked about how dearly I love cleaning with vinegar.  And now I've decided to continue the weirdness and just keep talking about vinegar today.  Trust me, it's truly life changing stuff.  I'm in a serious, committed relationship with the stuff.

So, what do I do with vinegar?  I'm so glad you asked.  Everything.  But here's a more specific list.  No, I don't use vinegar for nearly everything that's possible, but I definitely use it for a lot of things.
  • Fish.  Yes.  Fish.  Oh my goodness.  Vinegar makes fish amazing.  When we fry fish, I soak it in vinegar first.  Just plain old white vinegar.  And then there's malt vinegar.  That's for pouring on fried fish at fried fish places like Dowd's Catfish House or even Long John Silver's.  Don't put tarter sauce on it, that's for the fries silly.  Trust me.  
  • Cleaning the microwave.  My microwave is often embarrassingly dirty.  We suck at remembering to cover food before we heat it up, thus making a messy microwave.  So periodically I pour some vinegar (still plain old white) in a cereal bowl and microwave it for about 5 minutes.  Pull the bowl out and wipe down your microwave.  I'm serious.  Just wipe all the gunk out.  There will be no scrubbing.  It's amazing.
  • Cleaning the stove.  The other day I found an idea on Pinterest to mix white vinegar and dawn to clean the shower.  I did that and I loved it.  I usually clean my stove by sprinkling on baking soda and then spraying vinegar, letting it sit for a few minutes then wiping it up.  It gets everything off but it's kind of a pain.  So I tried my shower cleaning concoction.  Oh my goodness, it was even better.  Once again, no scrubbing!  Just a good wipe.  And not nearly as messy as the baking soda.
  • Cleaning the kitchen counters. Well, any counters actually.  I either use straight vinegar or a 50/50 (approximately, c'mon people, I don't measure the stuff) of water and vinegar.  Just give it a good spray and wipe it down.  I love it.  I do occasionally still use like Clorox wipes but I really prefer vinegar.
  • Mopping the floors.  I dump some vinegar in my mop bucket, top it off with hot water and then go to town.  We have old linoleum floors in our kitchen that are in pretty bad shape.  Cleaning with vinegar makes them look cleaner than anything else I have tried.  
  • Cleaning toilets.  I just pour some vinegar in the toilet like you would bleach or toilet cleaner.  Just let it set a few minutes and give it a good scrub with the toilet brush.  
  • Pet accidents.  I learned this from my best friend's mom years ago.  Thankfully our dog is over this for the most part.  But for puppy accidents, I just sprayed a good healthy amount of vinegar and blotted.  Magic.
  • Cleaning the shower.  I already mentioned I use vinegar and Dawn.  It has seriously changed my life.  I hate cleaning the shower.  But this really makes it not too bad.  I spray down the shower, let it set for a few minutes then I scrub.  I have one of those Mr. Clean scrubby things that has a long handle.  I bought it at Dollar General.  It's pretty much amazing.
So yeah, I use vinegar for pretty much everything.  And if you're curious, my house does not smell like a pickle factory.  Sure I light a candle or turn on my Scentsy usually after I've vinegar'd it up.  But no one has ever come over and said, "Holy cow Mary, vinegar much?"

But seriously, I don't think I've bought any actual real cleaning supplies in probably a year.  Maybe even longer if I were more honest.  That way I know exactly what is in my cleaner.  I know there aren't any funky chemicals.  I also know I'm not going to be creating any terrible chemical reactions.  It's just me and my vinegar.  You do still want to use it in a well ventilated area.  My bathrooms are pretty small and I can't go too crazy with the vinegar or it kind of makes my nose burn.  Just a tip.

Anybody else clean with vinegar like a crazy person?  Or have any great homemade cleaners you use?

I'll be back later today with my post for

so I'll be linking up over at Two-Twenty-One when I get my act together.  I meant to have my post all ready and scheduled to post this morning and then I forgot.  That whole Sunday football and losing majorly threw me off.  Anyway. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dear Santa

In my family we've switched up how we do Christmas now that we're all adults.  I have three sisters, two parents, and now there are boyfriends and a husband.  So there's kind of a lot of us.  And it gets super expensive to buy a good present for at least seven other people.  Do the math people, it's a lot.  So we've tried different things.  There were a few years we did homemade gifts.  I personally loved it but not everyone was so thrilled by it.  Then we did the get everyone a small present thing, like under $10.  Personally this was my least favorite.  This year we're back to doing one of the things I really like, we draw names and just buy a gift for the person whose name we drew.  My sisters and I do stockings for my parents.  My parents do stockings for all of us and then get us all something small.  It works out pretty well I think.

So, since we draw names, and we actually pick names out of a bowl, you don't always end up with someone you know what to buy for.  Last year I got my sister's friend who comes to our holiday stuff.  I had no idea what to buy him.  So we set up a family email address and we all send a wish list to that email so everyone can get on and see what we want.  It works out pretty well.  Except sometimes it's really hard to come up with things you want.  Our price limit is $50.  I'm really bad about just going and buying the things I want.  Or the things I might want are too expensive.

Like these.
So I accidentally bought them for myself the other day on Amazon because I was buying a couple of counseling books for my elementary kiddos.  And I found a coupon.  So yes, I justified spending $80 (with my coupon) on boots just because I was buying boots.  Don't tell my husband, m'kay?  These are supposed to be the best boots though.  They're waterproof, thinsulate, and rated to like -30 degrees or something insane like that.  Perfect for Chiefs games, general winter yuckiness and maybe even duck hunting. 

Anyway, back to my list.  I finally came up with things to ask for.  I thought really hard.  I still feel like I could've done better on my list, but this is what I've got.



And a turquoise lamp for the living room.  Something like one of these....
(1, 2, 3)

What do you have on your Christmas list?  Or do you even still make a Christmas list?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

So it's possible that I'm already very much in the Christmas mood.  I may have bought a Christmas CD on the way to work this morning.  No, I didn't stop specifically to buy the CD, I had to buy candy for some of my elementary kiddos.  And I needed nail polish remover.  But I somehow forgot to buy needles so I could sew a button back on my husband's shirt.  Fail.  Anyway, back to Christmas.

This year I'm changing my decorating color scheme.  For the past.... ten years I have done gold and burgundy.  My best friend and I had the same tree color scheme for the longest time.  The burgundy always matched the living room because I always had that unfortunate pink couch.  Well we bought new furniture and I painted the back of the built-ins turquoise so it's time for a new color scheme for the tree too.  We're going silver and gold.  I'm pretty excited about it.  I'm also cheap.  So I'm going to try spray painting the old burgundy ornaments.  I'll probably buy a few new silver ones too.

I'm also planning on making some of these guys.
I have pinned so many cute little cone Christmas trees.  They're going to look great on my mantle.  I can't wait to make them.

I'm also thinking about making my tree skirt.  I'm not 100% sure on that one though. It may be a little more ambitious than I want to tackle though.  I really keep going back to the idea of a fur Christmas tree skirt.  Not real fur obviously, but you know like soft fuzzy fake fur.  So we'll see.  I guess it depends what I find and how much it is.
So pretty, right?  I don't think I'm making any new wreaths for our house this year.  I made two new ones last year so I'll probably just use those again.  I am planning to make one for my mom and maybe my husband's grandma.  I probably should get on that so I could bring them at Thanksgiving.  

Anybody else getting excited for Christmas?  Or already planning decorations and craft projects?


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Making a List

And checking it twice.  Oh yes, we're getting ready for Christmas at my house.  I'm going to put my tree up either this weekend or Wednesday.  It depends on, are you ready for this, hunting and football.  If we don't go to the Chiefs game Sunday and my husband goes hunting, the tree is going up then.  If we go to the game, the tree will have to wait until Wednesday.  Either way, my house has to get into shape.  We all know the house has to be clean before the tree goes up.

Also, I have plans of working on the laundry room portion of No Clutter November on Saturday.  There's not too much left to do in there and I'd love to get it done.  Last night I rearranged our master closet and hung up the massive pile of clothes that was on top of my dresser.  I admit it, I suck at hanging up my clothes.  Ug.

So, the plan for the rest of the week/weekend
  • Put away stupid laundry in the guest room
  • Clean up office
  • Finish laundry room
  • Get rid of sad, dying pumpkins
  • Process pumpkins that are still good for later pumpkin bread making
  • Buy nail polish remover (unrelated I know, but it has to be done)
  • Go to the gym
  • Decorate for Christmas
  • Maybe do a tiny Christmas craft
  • Be excited that I have a good place for my nativity this year
  • Buy ribbon for candle holders to replace fall ribbon
And as promised, here is a pretty version of my Cleaning Calendar.  I just made it in Publisher.  I downloaded free clip art for the zebra print background and put in a pink text box.  The font I used is Champagne & Limousines.  I love free fonts.  They make my life happy.  And I'm printing it as a picture at Walgreens for like $2.  It will go in a black frame in my laundry room so I'll see it every day while I'm putting doing laundry.  I think it's pretty cute.  And it matches my laundry room.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Chore Wheel

Okay, there's really no chore wheel at all.  It was just a sad excuse to be able to include a clip from The Office.  Whee!  I love The Office.  Not the British one.  I haaaaate the British one.  I know, I know, it's the original, theoretically it should be better.  But I hate it.  Anyway, here you go, then we'll get back on track.  But you have to actually watch it, because well, it's great.
Back on track now.  As we've previously discussed, I hate house cleaning.  It's such a lame-o way to spend your time.  I would like my house to just stay magically clean.  But the other day I was on Pinterest (I know, I know, everything comes from Pinterest, leave me alone) and found this Cleaning Calendar.
And I fell in love.  Only I adapted it a little.  Let's be realistic. There are only two of us.  We definitely don't fill up the dishwasher everyday.  And I'm never going to be up in time to do dishes in the morning.  And I can't make the bed before I leave because my husband is still in bed.  Not because he's lazy but because he goes to work much later than I do.  So, here's my list.  If I was really with it, I would've saved it as a jpeg so I could've shared my pretty version.  Maybe later this week.  For now, here's the down and dirty version.

Cleaning Calendar
Morning
Start load of laundry
Wipe down bathroom counters and sink
Night
Chore of the day
Dishwasher
Wipe down kitchen counters
Sweep floor
Fold/put away laundry
Weekly
Monday:  Vacuum
Tuesday:  Clean mirrors
Wednesday:  Toilets & tubs
Thursday:  Mop floors
Friday:  Whatever's needed

Totally feasible, right?  Hopefully.  Wish me luck.  Hopefully this keeps the house a little more under control. And now I have to go take care of the dog.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Oh Baby


I threw a baby shower for a good friend over the weekend.  A girl I went to grad school with.  When I got my bachelor's I didn't really have college friends.  Now don't go, "Aw, Mary didn't have friends."  I did.  My freshman year I went to a small liberal arts college and made a couple of good friends, girls I still talk to.  Maybe not regularly, but I still consider them close friends.  After that I transferred to a large state university and lived off campus with two of my best friends from high school.  Then I lived with a girl I met through a campus ministry.  All people I still consider friends.  But I didn't graduate from college with the quantity of college friends my husband has.  Instead I have camp friends (I worked at a YMCA camp for four summers) and grad school friends.  There were only seven of us in our program.  We all got our masters in counseling in just over 2 years, with a thousand hour internship and most of us worked full time.  While we were in school, two of us got married and two had babies.  That's a lot to go through together.  So, now another of my grad school friends is having a baby.  He's coming into the world the end of November and we couldn't be more excited to meet him.

So, along with another close friend from grad school, we threw her a shower.  No games.  We all love to sit around and talk.  And eat.  So those were really the highlights of the shower.  Of course there were presents.  But food is really what we all like the most.  And because I love taking pictures of food....
So, what did we make?  Let's go counter-clockwise from the bottom.  Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic dip.  Guacamole and tortilla chips.  Tiny pigs in a blanket.  Pinwheels with salsa.  White cupcakes.  Baby blue punch.  Oh and little smokies.  They didn't make it in the picture.

We made white wedding cupcakes using this recipe.  Holy cow, they were so good.  My co-hostess actually made the cupcakes.  I just iced them.  And we made Sprinkles buttercream frosting.  Oh yum.  Make these. Do it right now.  You will thank me for it.
  
And we had the blue baby shower punch.  This is one of my favorite punches because it's just so fun looking.  We used Berry Blue Kool Aid but I really prefer to use the Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade.  Sadly, Walmart didn't have any so I had to use the Berry Blue.  Then it's just Sprite, Sierra Mist, or whatever lemon lime soda.  And vanilla ice cream.  And a rubber ducky that went home with that mama to be.  It's one of those that tests the bathwater temperature.

And now for my amazing craft project.  You saw a picture on Friday.  Mama to be is going to hang it up with her curtains, like we had it at her shower.  Her nursery is so cute and I love the bright colors she has picked out -- orange, yellow, green, blue, and red.

How did I make this?  I cut a Beauty Brands ad to make a template for my flags.  Then I just cut out each flag.  I made eight.  Then I also cut backs for each flag out of the same material I used for the binding.  I sewed each triangle together on the bottom two sides, leaving the top open since it would get sewed into the binding.  For the binding I sewed together two strips of fabric to get the right length.  I folded my long piece in half and ironed it to make a good seam.  I fold each half in towards the middle again and ironed it to make a straight binding.  Then I just put the flags in and sewed the whole thing together.  I didn't do any sewing on my binding until the flags were in.  No point in doing more work than necessary.  I was so happy with how it turned out!  

Friday, November 9, 2012

So Sweet

Okay, like I said, cake extravaganza at my house last night.  2 dozen cupcakes and a sheet cake later and we're done.  And without incident even.  I like to think I'm fairly good at cooking, specifically baking and anything sweets related.  But sometimes I get cocky and my project ends up as a total fail.  But, this time everything (as far as I know) turned out well.  You can't really sample a sheet cake but the icing was good.  And the cake looks pretty.

So, today is a picture day.  I didn't take a picture of the pumpkin sheet cake, because well, sheet cakes are kind of boring.  You can imagine it though.  A lovely pumpkin sheet cake with cream cheese frosting.  And I actually did a fairly decent job icing it.  Thanks offset icing spatula.  Totally worth my $3.

The cupcakes though, they were a thing of beauty.  Black Forest filled cupcakes.  With buttercream icing.  When I was individually spooning each part of the cupcake into 24 cupcake papers I wasn't sure it was going to be worth it.  Then I ate one of them.  And it was totally worth it.  So delicious.  And then I iced them with the star tip instead of the regular round tip I usually use.  Why did I not start doing this earlier?  They totally look like they came from a bakery instead of my kitchen.  So, without further ado, say hello to my pretty cupcakes.


Don't those just look delicious?  I was so impressed with myself.  I took way more than just three pictures.  And I made my husband stop watching Burn Notice just to come check out my cupcakes.  

And here's a sneak peak of my sewing project.  Come back Monday for more baby shower details.  It's going to be great.  I may still be suffering from sewing related injuries this morning though.  Two cuts on my thumb, two on my index finger.  And I had to finally get a band aid.  Sigh, someday I'll be better at handling pins without stabbing myself.

While I was sitting in the floor cutting out the pieces of my bunting I realized sitting in the floor cutting was probably not the cleverest idea I ever had.  When I was in 6th grade I sliced my leg open with a pair of sewing scissors at dance camp.  Oops.  From now on I may have to be a grown up and sit at the table to cut.  I'd hate to ruin a perfectly good pair of yoga pants.  Anyway, the bunting I made....
 Adorable, right!  I totally love it and just keep staring at it.  Obviously it's not still hanging from my fireplace because that would be a little weird.  But it's making me think maybe next year I'll do a fall bunting to put up there.  That could be cute.  We'll see.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Fall of the Great Pumpkin



My pumpkin is caving in.  Yup, exactly what you just read.  Not a euphemism for anything.  My pumpkin is actually caving in.  I bought all these pumpkins to decorate for fall.  When I was getting one out of the trunk, I knocked it on the side of the car or something.  I forget exactly what happened.  It made a little nick on the pumpkin but I didn’t think much about it.

Until last night.  I had hung up a craft project, a present for a baby shower, to see how it would look.  I called my husband to come upstairs and see my amazing handy-work.  He happened to look in the fireplace and notice my sad pumpkin, “Oh my gosh Mary, what happened to the pumpkin?”  Um….  As best as I can figure, the ding from getting it out of my trunk eventually caused my pumpkin to cave in.  Yup, so that’s what’s really happening at my house.

I can’t wait to share my project!  I made the most adorable bunting as a shower decoration/gift for one of my good friends.  We are throwing her a baby shower on Saturday.  So, it may be Monday before I’m back with pictures.
                                                                        
Tonight it’s going to be a cake extravaganza at our house.  The town I work in does a big Christmas to do and one of the ladies organizations is sponsoring Cupcake Wars.  I of course am participating.  I’m making filled Black Forest Cupcakes, roughly using this recipe.  

And tomorrow is my school’s Veterans Day assembly and we’re doing a lunch for all the veterans that attend so I’m bringing a pumpkin cake.  This is my absolute favorite pumpkin cake recipe.  It’s so easy.  And delicious.  And moist.  And it seems like a scratch cake.  But it’s a cake mix and a can of pumpkin.  Magical.  It’s supposed to be a recipe for cupcakes but I almost always make it like a sheet cake.  Mmmm, I hope there’s some left so I can eat it.


What kind of fall festivities are you up to?  Anyone else have their pumpkin cave in?  No, just me?  Okay.  Also, I have eaten way too many Tootsie Rolls today.  Ug.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Duck, Duck,.... Nothing

I went duck hunting with my husband Saturday morning.  Duck hunting means getting up at 5am (yes, really 5am), putting on lots of layers of clothes, wearing my husband's hunting boots, drinking coffee, and sitting in the woods for a long time.  And seeing only 5 ducks that were very far away.  But guess what, we had fun.

I left my camera in the truck so all I really have is cell phone pictures.  But, here they are because well, going duck hunting ought to be commemorated.
 The ducks don't care if you wear make up.  Neither does your husband, because you are an awesome wife and got up at 5 on a Saturday to go duck hunting.

Taking creepy, stalker-ish pictures of my husband while he is looking for ducks.  Glad he asked me to go with him.  

Picking up duck decoys.  This is a truly terrible picture.  Should've brought my real camera.

Duck hunting over.  Ready to head home.  I am in love with that sweat shirt I'm wearing.  If only it weren't camo, I would wear it all the time.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Like a Jeff Foxworthy Joke

Oh yeah, you read that right.  Maybe you're not familiar with Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck" jokes.  Well, right now our living room looks like one of his punch lines.  I mentioned our living room TV bit the dust.  It showed its last episode of Gilmore Girls.  And it hasn't turned back on since.

A few funny quirks our TV had before it died.  There was a dead grand daddy long legs in the screen.  We could never get it out.  You didn't really notice it after a while.  And then it became like a funny, slightly pathetic version of Where's Waldo when we had people over.  Can you find the dead spider?  Okay, so we had the TV fixed once when we'd had it about a year.  It's stupidly expensive to fix a big ass TV, in case you were curious.  That's why this time we're giving up on it.  Last time it cost about $250.  So not worth it to fix a second time.

So, for the time being the television from our bedroom has moved to the living room.  The extra TV from the basement is yet to move up to the bedroom.  That doesn't really matter for right now.  Okay, so since the old TV is one of those big ones that just sets on the floor, we haven't moved it yet.  And if the wheels in your mind are turning, and you're imagining we put the temporary replacement TV in front of the old, big, broken TV you would be right.  Oh yeah.  And that's why we look like a Jeff Foxworthy punch line.  We just sat the other TV in front of the broken TV.  Keepin it classy.  And because it's really kind of funny, I'm showing you a picture.  Yes, that's an egg McMuffin on the TV.  I was watching the CMAs and a McDonald's commercial was on.
Hold on, that is not a normal egg McMuffin, those are like weird link sausages.  Strange.  And yes, if you're paying attention there are three boxes containing Crown Royal on the bottom of the entertainment center.  And I desperately need to dust it.  Sigh.  I promise, I do dust other things.  Anyway.  Now, can you see why I'm so desperate to start planning for a new TV stand.  I have to give myself hope that we aren't going to be living with this situation forever.  Ridiculous.

In other news, it has been feeling super fall-ish around here.  And I love it.  All I want to do is curl up with a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate and watch movies or read.  That means I desperately do not want to go to the gym or really do anything but curl up on my couch and be super lazy.

Okay, I said I was watching the CMAs.  I love country music.  And I love watching award shows.  I really can't help it.  I'm confused though, how is Hunter Hayes country?  And why does he look kind of like a used car sales man?  Just my opinion.

And now I'm going back to my couch and blanket.  Maybe my husband will make me some hot chocolate.  Next week I'm off to a conference (can't wait!).  So I may be MIA for a couple of days.  Happy fall weekend.  I'll be back soon with duck hunting pictures.  Duck hunting opens Saturday and my husband asked me to go with him.  That meant I had to go buy camo.  Anybody else do random things with their husband they wouldn't do on their own?  I never would've guessed I would go fishing near as much as I do.  Or that I would be going duck hunting.  But I'm so glad he includes me.