.

Blogging is my “Something.”  

What’s Yours? 

Have you ever had that feeling?  You know, that “something.” That “something” that starts nagging at you and just won’t stop. I’m pretty certain you have, even if you’ve never acted on it.

 That “something” is your passion! 

It’s always there, but may not always be the same. It changes with you as your life changes. Over the years, you have probably missed some opportunities because you didn’t acknowledge that it existed.  Hopefully, I can encourage you to act on those nagging little tugs at your heart. This is how you find your passion.  Haven’t  you already missed too many “somethings?”

Flowers
To be honest, recently, well, ok, since forever, I have been looking for “something”…”Like writing a blog, you might ask?  Why on earth would anyone want to write a blog?”  No, not by a long shot. I didn’t even know what a blog was until about six months ago when I started following a few cool craft blogs on Pinterest.
 I had no idea “what”, but I was looking for “something.”  
“What is it that keeps nagging at me? What do I really enjoy doing?”

For you to understand better, allow me share some background information. (Make yourself a note to think about your own background when trying to appease that little nag).  Ok, I have been enjoyed crafting for most of my life, as a hobby, not a career. That is what I enjoyed doing, besides work and taking care of my family. Selling at little craft shops, festivals, consignment stores, home shows and Etsy. You name it, made “that” and tried to sell it, “there.” Lol.  Still have rooms full of craft supplies to prove it. (Coming soon, post about craft room clean out, hopefully).

Disorganized craft room
Craft Supply Explosion

It was fun, most of the time, but I was too slow and too particular to produce enough pieces to even pay the rental fees most of the time. I started getting frustrated and stressed out instead of enjoying the process of creating.

So, I decided to give up crafting, except for making some items for my own home and maybe a few gifts for my friends. No more pressure to create and sell. Fast forward six months… “How many craft projects do I need in my house and my children’s homes and how many handmade gifts can I respectfully, give away to friends?”  The answer was easy, not many more!

If this “minimal crafting and not selling” was cluttering up my house and this “something” was still nagging at me, I had to figure out what I was being called to do now.

After I started reading the craft blogs, I started researching and the more I researched, the more it seemed like blogging might be a good fit for me.  I’ve always liked to write. I can use my creativity by writing and designing (which, I have started to realize, for a blog, is much harder than it looks), I can learn something new, which is exciting, and possibly, one day, generate a small income for my work. But, the main reason I chose to start a blog is that I truly enjoy helping people and see this as an opportunity to do just that. Now, I’m not talking about big help, like a doctor or accountant, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science to be helpful to others. I’m talking about little bits of help, here, there and anywhere I can,  but nonetheless, help.

I enjoy sharing products that work well for me, possibly a few crazy household tips, a small, quick craft idea or anything that might make someone’s life just a tad bit easier or happier.  And, although I am a real newbie and this blogging thing is a bit more challenging than I imagined, it’s also fun and rewarding exploring this little “something.” 

So, right now, I ask you to please start taking time,
even little bits of time,
to figure out what “something” is calling your name.

Then, GO FOR IT!  

It might not be the first thing you try, or the second, but every step is progressing you towards your “something.”  Your “something” should be your passion, but it does not have to be the thing that makes you a living. You can have a job and a passion!  How about that?

If you are feeling that tug, wanting to go for it, but don’t know where to start exploring, let me offer a few suggestions:

• Read magazines that you enjoy. You may be drawn to an article that peaks your interest.

• Talk to friends. What are they doing? Maybe you’re just longing for a ladies’ night out every now and then.  For example, recently, I went to a “Bring your own Wine & Macrame’ Class” with a great bunch of lady friends. It was a blast, but just so you know, Macrame’ is very difficult after a glass of wine or two.  Needless to say, my Macrame’ wall hanging did not end up looking like the model and I’m pretty sure it’s not my “something”!  However, I tried a new craft and it was tons of fun.  Lol

Wine & Macrame’
Wine & Macrame’ Don’t Mix
Macrame’; harder than it looks
Can’t I just buy the sample?

 

• Think about things you used to enjoy doing. What were your interests pre-motherhood or pre-marriage, pre-adulthood?

• Pinterest, of course!

• At work, focus on figuring out parts of the job you enjoy & parts you dislike.

And last, but hopefully not least, “Let’s be Friends”

No, I won’t force you to blog, or even write, unless you want me too, but I will show you how to do some quick craft projects, neat ways to organize your photos, and make easy party decorations using your Cricut. If you don’t have a Cricut, maybe you’ll get inspired to buy one.

I will share an eclectic array of ADHD ridden, sporadic ideas & projects.  Kind of like they say in the South, “Hey, ya’ll, watch this!”

I will share stories, freebies, feelings, travels…anything I think may be of interest to you, my readers, my friends, because my greatest hope is that a post will peak your interest and inspire you to listen to that little voice, explore new interests and find that “something” that has been nagging, tugging, lurking, in the back of your heart and mind for so long.

We only have “So Many Somedays”

Let’s not waste another single one!

Start right now.  

Find your “something” and you will find your passion!

 

P.S. I would love to hear your comments. Have you found your “something”? What is it? Are you feeling that little tug? Are you still exploring your interests?  Keep me posted!

15 minute Easter Wreaths

Do you love for your house to be decorated with

cute holiday and spring decorations, 

but no time for the hassle?

 

Or, do you not feel like you’ve “done it up” enough without going through the hassle?  Hmmm.  If you’re reading this blog, I’m betting that you are 100% in agreement with the first statement, much like me!  
I’ve done it both ways, and I can truly say that I enjoy the easy decorations just as much as the decorations that I have spent countless hours on in the past.  I want to sit back and enjoy time with my family, not work on fancy decorations the whole time.
In this short post, I’m going to share a quick fix for your front door wreaths.  Keep them close by after Spring, because we are going to be revamping them fairly often for the change in seasons and holidays.

Items Needed:  Easter Ornament, Plastic Easter Eggs, Cardstock, Hot Glue, 1-2 Boxwood Wreaths or Boxwood Garland, Grapevine Wreaths, Spagnum Moss. Optional: Ribbon for bows, Laminating Sheet

Odds are, you already have a Boxwood wreath(s).  If not, it’s worth the purchase.  You can find them priced reasonably at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, A.C. Moore, etc… or do like I did when I didn’t want to pay the price for two wreaths.  Buy two grapevine wreaths, (really cheap, like $3 each), some spagnum moss (couple $’s), and a Boxwood garland (maybe $6-7).  
I’m pretty sure that I did both of these wreaths with one long garland, but if you want it fuller, pick up two garlands. Hot glue the moss onto the grapevine wreath.  Cut garland in half and use wire or hot glue to arrange the Boxwood around the wreath. Add a bow, or not.  
Now you have a generic, simple, but very pretty, Boxwood wreath(s) for your door.  

 

Then, here comes Easter and you’ve got your nice green wreaths hanging on the front door.  Don’t you want to spruce them up a little for Spring?  Of course, you do, if it’s this easy!

 

  • Go to the Dollar Store, Dollar General, or Walmart and buy an adorable little chic, like I found below.  It doesn’t have to be a chic, (but he sure is cute)!  You might like a little bunny or a cross, whatever you find that is cute, cheap and speaks to you!  Chirp, chirp…  Use hot glue or wire and stick him on one of your wreaths.  When you take it off later, the hot glue might ruin the little ornament, but that’s why we buy CHEAP!  The glue will peel right off the plastic Boxwood leaves.

 

Sweet Fluffy Easter Chic     Isn’t he the cutest?

 

  • Then, pick 2-3, however many you want, plastic Easter Eggs to go on the wreath. As going with my tag line, “creating your best perfectly imperfect self,” I tried a couple of things with the eggs that just didn’t work. Originally, I was going to hot glue them together and then attach to the wreath, but they looked like ‘three eggs glued to each other and stuck on a wreath.” That was a little too imperfect, even for me. Lol. Never fear though, hot glue will peel right off plastic eggs. Note: Let hot glue cool first!

  • Decide where you want them and hot glue straight onto the plastic Boxwood.  I Much better look!


    Pretty Colored Easter Eggs

    Pretty enough, you can stop here or for just a little more hassle…

…you can add some cut outs to the wreaths.

  • If you have a Cricut, design and cut out your words.  If not, print and cut out the free printables on the Freebies page. (Coming soon).  I cut these words out of heavy cardstock.  You can coat them in waterproof Modge Podge or cover with a clear laminating sheet.

I think the words add a lot of “POP!”              

There you have it…Spruced up Easter wreaths with hardly any hassle at all!

 

P.S.  I’m afraid Peter Cottontail may be missing something. Lol

Declutter Pre-K to 12 School Pictures


“Ugghy” Blue and Faux Rainbow Backdrops

Have you ever wondered what the heck to do with all of those Pre-K to 12th grade school pictures? Mundane and cheesy, yes, but it is YOUR child and it does serve as a fundraiser for the school, so let’s face it, you’re going to buy them. A bunch of them, most likely!

I don’t understand why you can’t buy just one picture instead of packages of 100’s and I can’t imagine who in the world decided that a bright blue background or a fake rainbow looks good hanging on anybody’s living room wall?  Yes, those are our precious babies and they are adorable even with a faux background, but that still doesn’t mean I want them hanging on my wall. I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a bad mother, but honestly, I don’t think my kids really want them hanging on the wall either.

So, what do you do with all those pictures?

Well, for about 15 years, I kept them in a nice box. One for each kid, 15 to 100+/- pictures for each year, Pre-K thru 12. Until a couple of months ago, when I decided to clean out the “junk” closet (ok, you know me well enough now, one of the “junk” closets) to make room for my craft supplies that I would be moving to the downstairs closet whenever/if ever, I clean out the craft room upstairs, again! You might be able to relate, it’s a vicious cycle. I plan to write a post about how to clean out a really full closet and reorganize it soon, but I have to figure out how to do that first. Ha, ha!

ADHD moment: My little craft room used to be a craft room, then I cleaned it out to be my husband’s office, then I moved my craft supplies back in there to be a craft room again and somehow, they just took over the space. Craft supplies just seem to have a way of doing this to a room, a house, a barn or all of the above! Lol. Good luck with this, right? Another project for another day.

Now back to the school photos. The first thing that I thought of when I found these boxes was that I couldn’t even remember how long it had been since I had opened them up. And secondly, after I opened them, why in the world did I think I needed to buy and keep all of these photos of the same child, same pose, same old blue background? I mean, you can only get away with giving so many of them as Christmas gifts. Lol.

So, this is what I decided to do. I took all the pictures out and sorted them into piles by each child, then by school year (x 2, twice a year). Oh my gosh, I had forgotten that they take school pictures twice a year. Really, how much does a kid change in six months once they are in kindergarten? But anyway, I then started the process of photo elimination.

Step by Step Easy to Follow Plan:
  • Pull one 8×10 picture from each photo session
  • Take a picture of the photo with your cell phone
  • Send to an album on your phone
  • Cut out 2-3 wallet pics in case they want to give to their kids one day
  • Cut a 2×3 or 5×7 for each of the other siblings. Nice to have if they ever want to blackmail their brothers or sisters
  • Place the 8×10 and wallets in a large envelope
  • Do this for each school year
  • Toss envelope of photos into a storage tote.  Stick a label on the side with their name and L👀k at that!  You have just created a Memory Tote for your children that they can take with them when they leave home.  

Presto, magico!   They have photos from every school year (x 2) and you have eliminated your school picture clutter!

For both kids, this took me about an hour. It was quick, super decluttering and so refreshing to accomplish! Easy access. No more digging through photo albums or boxes.  And, I don’t think there is a better way to embarrass your children than by sharing their school photos with your grandchildren. Lol.

 

Now, my long-range plan is to upload the photos that I saved on my phone to Chatbooks and create one book with all of their pictures together. I think it’ll be so cool to flip thru the book and see the changes from year to year, all in one place! Don’t hold your breath, but I’ll keep you posted on this progress.

I guess if I was really serious about decluttering, I’d just make a Chatbook for each child and they wouldn’t have any photo clutter either. You could snap the photos, eliminate all the steps above, toss all the pictures and just create the books. Truth is, I’m not sure I could throw away ALL of the cute little stinker’s school pictures.  However, I CAN put them in THEIR boxes so that one day they will be the ones dealing with their own clutter and I won’t have a guilty conscience about tossing all of their school pictures in the trash. Lol

Remember: Snap a quick photo, save a couple for the Memory Tote and toss the rest!!!  No guilt!

If you declutter your kid’s school pictures, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

February 14, 2018


Valentine’s Quickie

 

Now, now, get your head out of the gutter.

We’re talking Valentine decorations, here! 

I’m almost embarrassed to show you how quick and simple these little decorating ideas are, but that’s what I am about, quick and easy. There you go again, head in the gutter!

We don’t have a big Valentine’s Day party, so I don’t see any reason to spend a lot of time decorating the house. However, I enjoy having a little holiday decor around for our own personal pleasure. It just makes me happy!

Decorative Heart Tags

In the picture above, I just took patterned pieces of scrapbook paper and cut out hearts with a hole on one side.  I used my Cricut, but truly, how hard is it to cut out a heart and punch a hole? Then I cut a piece of twine and threaded through the hole in the heart.

You can spruce up your table so many ways with these Valentine patterned hearts.

  • String the heart and tie around your mug handles.
  • Tie the twine in a bow and lay the heart on your plates.
  • String the twine through the hole and tie a knot, then stick the heart in the middle of your napkin ring.
  • Pull the string through the hole and tie around your pretty napkin.  (Can even use a paper napkin).  

I think you can handle these quick, but festive and pretty decorations, very easily!

Hand-Inked Napkins

Make your own hand-inked napkins. I promise, you can do this.  Buy plain white or off white muslin.  It’s very cheap so go ahead and get a couple yards. I’m sure you’ll want to use it to make another set. Measure and cut accurately, or you can do it my way.  Decide about how wide you want the napkins, make a little snip, grab and rip!  I love the sound of ripping fabric. Then snip and rip the size you want and use it to measure, snip and rip the rest.  Lay napkin out and using a rubber stamp and a permanent fabric ink pad, STAMP and BOOM!  Pretty napkins!

There are lots ways you can display your napkins on your table.

  • Lie napkin on top of napkin ring, then push fabric down in the middle of the ring.  Wiggle fabric around until you are happy with the fluffy arrangement.
  • Roll napkin lengthwise towards the middle and slide napkin ring to the middle.
  • Fold napkin over and tie twine in a bow around the middle. (bottom right, first collage)
Your hand-inked napkins will make your table look very impressive.

Mood Lights

Nothing sets a better mood than lighting and the easiest of all decorations, unless you are putting them on a tree, are string lights. I bought the red set 75% off after Christmas. Nice!  And the white lights, well, if you read my blogs, you may remember that I put them up at Christmas and have just enjoyed them so much, I haven’t taken them down. I don’t feel like it has to be a holiday to have mood lighting! Am I wrong?

A Few Extra Touches

Happy Valentine’s Day

I hope this post has given you some quick and easy inspiration for your Valentine’s decor (and maybe a few hints for your Valentine as well). Lol.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Everyday!

 

Go Red for Women®️

National Wear Red Day®️

Friday, 2/2/18

The American Heart Association sponsors National Wear Red Day®️ on the first Friday of every February in order to raise awareness of heart disease in women. By wearing red to promote and support this cause, we can honor loved ones who have suffered heart attacks, strokes or other effects of heart disease, as well as, draw more attention to the risks of  heart disease in women. We should also use this as a reminder to ourselves to have regular physical examinations, eat healthier foods and exercise more in order to protect that part of our body that keeps it all pumping!
Back in my day, well, actually a lot shorter time back than that, Heart Disease was thought to strike mostly men.  With women’s symptoms usually being quite different from what a National Wear Red Day®️ experiences, women were rarely considered targets of heart disease.  Based on these issues, early detection was uncommon, which is “heart breaking” considering that according to the AHA, “80% of cardiovascular diseases maybe preventable with education and action.”  
Many people today still do not realize how vastly this affects women.  The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, in the U.S., states that “Coronary Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States.”  We have to raise awareness about hosw this disease is killing women and that is exactly why we Go Red For Women®️!

 

 Ladies, Learn your Risk Here

Okay, enough stats and heart disease history. This is where it gets real…

 

You can read “My Story” below to understand what inspired me to start honoring my mother, Jackie, in February 2009 by participating in Go Red For Women®️.  It wasn’t a big deal.  I just asked co-workers in my area at the community college where I work, to wear red on this day if they wished to participate.  Well, as usual, these amazing people stepped up and we had red hats, red shirts, red dress pins, red fingernails…you get the picture!  Go Red For Women®️ throughout the office!
We continue this tradition every year with more people on campus coming over to our offices showing off their red attire in support.  We try to have fun whatever we are doing, so one year we put a red dress with white polka dots on a headless mannequin and took turns having our heads photographed with the mannequin body. Last year, we made a simple photo booth by hanging a big, red tablecloth with white hearts on the wall.  We let everyone write the names of people they “Go Red” for, on the hearts and took pictures in front of it using funny props.  
The tradition has extended off campus to our friends, friends of friends, family members and the community. On this day, all day, I receive selfies and group pictures of people in their red attire.  Some are supporting me, some remembering my mother.  Most have had a friend or family member touched by heart disease.  Whatever the reason they choose to participate, they are helping bring awareness about heart disease in women to more and more people.  

When I send out the Go Red For Women®️ email reminder every year about this time, “My Story” is attached for any new employees or in case anyone wants to share it with their friends and family.  My mother was truly an inspiration to anyone that knew her.  I have missed her every day of the past 12 years and will continue to miss her always.
Won’t you please Go Red For Women®️ with me on Friday, February 2nd and proudly help raise awareness about heart disease in women?  It could save a life!  You are very special and deserve a HAPPY HEALTHY HEART!

 Free Shipping @ Target. 

 

My Story

My mother had her first heart attack when she was 36.  I was in the 5th grade.  She lost an entire artery and was told that she could not go back work.  She was disabled…
As a child, that did not mean much to me, except that, my mother was sick and couldn’t do a lot of the things that she used to do.  She had been working as a teacher/librarian, going to school to get her Master’s Degree in Education, looking forward to a bright career ahead, as well as being a wife and active mother of two young girls.   As I got closer to that age, and then even more when I passed it, I realized how young she was and how life-altering that must have been for her.
She survived another heart attack when she was about 50 and because of her determination, lived a very full life even though her heart was only pumping at about 10% capacity.  She dedicated herself totally to her family and friends instead of focusing on her illness.
On Feb. 6, 2006, she collapsed at a middle school basketball game, was taken to the hospital by ambulance and died two days later, on February 8, 2006 of congestive heart failure.
With National Wear Red Day®️ occurring the first Friday of every February, I thought this would be an awesome way to honor her for being so strong and persevering, when I know she hardly had the energy to get up every morning.
At her celebration of life, we played a song that was very special to her, “I Hope You Dance” by Leann Rimes. I hope that the next time you hear this song, you will think about her and remember that life is short.  You must dance, live fully, laugh much, love, pray, enjoy your friends and take care of yourself!

 

If you have a story you wish to share, please feel free to comment.

 

February is American Heart Month and as much as we need to promote heart health in women, we care about our men’s heart health as well. This article by the Center for Disease Control is certainly worth the read.
Link: Strong Men put their Heart Health First

Fixer Upper B&B – The Beautiful Hillcrest Estate

Hello to all you ‘Fixer Upper” fans!

In one of my first posts, I gave you a glimpse of our second trip to Waco, Texas in October 2017 and promised to share more photos of the trip. Well, sorting through the pictures, I was reminded that I took quite a few!  So, please sit back, relax and join me as I take you to the amazing Hillcrest Estate.  This is the beautiful entrance to Hillcrest Estate, the second B&B that Chip and Joanna renovated. This one is actually located in Waco, whereas Magnolia House is in McGregor. The Estate opened in 2017 and reservations are available twice a year when they open the reservation lines. Just make sure you pick someone with persistence to dial and redial and redial since fans from all over the country will be trying at the same time to book a stay at Hillcrest Estate. With some luck, and a sister with a quick dialing finger, like I had, hopefully, you will get through before all of the dates are booked.

As soon as you walk in the front door, you know it, you feel it, they’ve done it again and in a big way! You feel welcome and at home immediately. In the foyer, there is a round table with a Guest Log, scented candle, large bottle of water, Magnolia store discount cards for all guests and a note from Chip and Jo.The living room is open and bright but also very cozy & inviting. They’ve built an entertainment center using old doors, covered a wooden chair with soft new fabric (top left) and hung blankets on a ladder for your snuggling pleasure. The dining room (top right) seats 10 at the long, black wooden table. The bookshelves are full of white dishes, pitchers, candlesticks, cake stands and books. I promise, you never get tired of just wandering around this house checking out the details. The middle right picture is the poker room.  It is a dark grayish/blue, has its own fireplace and a large old map framed and hung on the wall. Bottom right is a sitting area in the downstairs master bedroom. Magnolia notepad and pen placed on the table for your convenience, of course.I honestly don’t know how many bedrooms there are. I guess I could count them from my pictures, but anyway, all of the many bedrooms are amazing! The collage above shows the first bedroom to the right as you walk in the front door. It has a fireplace with remote control gas logs, a desk, bookshelves and the coziest bed covers and blankets ever. This is true for all of the beds in Hillcrest Estate!

This is the Master Bedroom, however, it’s really hard not to call all of the bedrooms “Master’s”! A beautiful 4 poster king size bed (OMG, comfy), bottled “Magnolia” water, chocolate truffles, and Wifi password at your fingertips. Then, the master bath… The granite countertop, double sinks, subway tile, two headed shower with bench seating, are all impressive, but THIS tub…It must be three feet deep (middle left).  Again, all the details, towels, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap at your fingertips in the glass door linen closet.  The toiletries are Bigelow Peppermint and Lavender. When I smell the leftover lotion I stingily use at home, it brings back that Magnolia ambience all over again.So cute! This is the entrance to the upstairs bathroom. I could get used to seeing that every morning, couldn’t you?More bedroom and bathroom pictures. Are you tired of looking at pictures? I didn’t think so. Lol. So many wonderful nooks and crannies filled with decorating inspiration!Another sitting/reading area, more pics of dining room table and fireplace.Now, this is really a smart use of kitchen space. The oven is located in the brick divider wall, which is cool, but my favorite part is that here are inverted shelves built into the brick wall on both sides of the oven. These hold coffee, flavored syrups, spices, etc…anything you need while you are cooking. I love this!

Then there’s the back yard. Simply peaceful. A fire pit with rocking chairs ready to warm your hands in the evening and a quaint chapel built with old glass windowed doors, complete with a concrete bench where you can sit and watch the birds, think, pray or just be grateful.

And last, little, but not least, is this adorable playhouse. Covered front porch, window boxes planted with trailing greenery, and dinner bell hanging by the door. Walk in and notice a lovely pattern on the ceramic tile floors, wood shelving, and the cutest ceramic sink with actual running water. 
What child, or adult for that matter, wouldn’t love to hang out in this precious little house?  Unless, of course, you have the opportunity to stay in the big house. Lol. 

I just can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our stay at Hillcrest Estate and how much we appreciated all the details that were handled by the wonderful caretakers.  Chip and Jo obviously put their heart into preserving the history of this old house built in 1903 by updating the decor but maintaining the original style of the home, like they do so well!

I hope you enjoyed my little virtual tour of the Hillcrest Estate.  Stay tuned for more pics and info on Magnolia Silos, Waco tours and restaurants that we visited on our trip to Waco, Texas.

Enjoyed having you visit the Hillcrest Estate with me!

Free shipping at Target

Unique & Quick Ideas for Christmas Decoration Storage

Christmas, Christmas time is here…I just realized this morning when I was singing that old chipmunks song, that I didn’t hear those cute little chipmunks singing on the radio one time this year. My second thought was, “I bet my kids don’t even know who the chipmunks are.” They didn’t know what JibJab was when I suggested we do a JibJab dance on Christmas Eve either. I guess I’m really telling my age. Ugh!

Anyway, back to Christmas, Christmas time is here…and gone. Some of you really efficient people may have already packed up the tree, ornaments, lights and other decorations, but I’m not one of those people. I usually de-decorate my tree on the 26th and re-decorate it for my daughters birthday on Jan. 2nd. However, she has her own house now and wasn’t even going to be here that day, so I packed up those ornaments and took it down the 27th.

As I was taking the ornaments off the tree, I started thinking that one day, those kids of mine would probably take the ornaments they had received every year and use them on their own family tree. So, as I took each one down, my intentions were to sort by child, in order of the year they received them and photograph them as a keepsake. It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t have the patience for all that organization. So, I just sorted them by child and took pics! Better than nothing, right?

So, now it was time to take down the rest of the decorations. I won’t bore you with those details, I’m sure you have boring details of your own about doing this. But, I will tell you about a few new things I did this year to help protect my fragile decorations and to make finding those precious ornament boxes easier next year.


First, I have rediscovered shrink wrap!

I wrapped many pallets loaded with cartons of diecast cars using this stuff back in the 90’s, but had not thought about it for years until I saw this idea on Pinterest about shrink wrapping your Christmas tree for storage. Check out this cool tutorial at www.Epbot.com. I bought shrink wrap for the tree, but haven’t gotten that far yet. However, I have used it for several other storage solutions.

  • Wrap up fragile decorations in tissue paper and then shrink wrap for extra protection

  • If you use cardboard boxes and put them in plastic storage totes, fill the cardboard box, then shrink wrap to protect from bugs and dust. We all know those storage totes are not completely airtight.

  • Wrap your Christmas frames in tissue paper and shrink wrap to protect and keep secure. Note to young parents from old parent: Always date the frames if the year is not shown as part of the design. I PROMISE, after 10-15 years, you will not remember which pictures came from which years unless you do this. Alas, the reason I photographed all of my yearly pics before packing this year is to give me time to determine the correct date before unpacking them next year. You better believe, I will add that date as soon as they come out of the box. Lol.

  • Shrink wrap the stack of Christmas cards you received this year so you can save them for that project you have planned to put all of them together from past years. Oh, “so many somedays”!

Second, take a picture of the inside of your storage tote before you seal it up!

Years ago this would have been a pain, but with cell phones and printers at our homes, BOOM! Snap, snap, snap, print, and there you go. I slip mine into a 3 ring plastic sleeve like we used in our “Lifesaving notebook” Time Saving, Life Saving Thanksgiving Notebook, back in November. Slip a piece of ribbon or string through the top hole and tie on your tote! Now, you can easily see what is in the bin without having to lift the lids and dig.

WOW! I wish I had done this in past years and how convenient would it be if we had done this with all of our storage bins, not just Christmas?


Last big idea I have for storing your Christmas treasures this year is to buy these plastic bags at IKEA.

This particular pack has two sizes, but you can also buy them individually. They are very inexpensive and an absolute necessity at my house. You can use these for so many different things like, packing cosmetics for a trip, storing sheets & pillow cases, (yes, they will fit), and packing away children’s clothing. They are sturdy, very large, double locking & inexpensive!

For Christmas, I used them to pack anything that wasn’t so fragile that it had to be shrink wrapped, anything with lots of pieces that need to stay together, books, cookie cutters and linens that need to stay clean and dry. The possibilities for storage are endless with these babies! If you were using regular clear zip bags, which you can if you don’t have an IKEA close by, you would probably go through a whole box and many of your things would not fit. I believe that I used about 5 bags and I had a lot of decorations scattered around the house.

Well, I’ve help you procrastinate long enough. Hopefully, I’ve also given you some inspiration to make your Christmas packing a little easier this year and finding those decorations and unpacking a little easier next year as well.

HAPPY PACKING AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

“All the Stockings were Hung” Pop-up Party


My birthday is December 13th. Many people that are born in December don’t really like their birthday being that close to Christmas, but I’ve always loved it. When I was young, we would go out to dinner, which we only did on special occasions, then come home to enjoy cake and decorate our Christmas tree. It’s crazy but I just realized while writing this post at almost 55 years old, that the remaining days would be the “12 Days of Christmas.” I bet my mother knew that all along.

Today, I can’t imagine waiting until the 13th of December to decorate our tree. I dread the process of getting out the decorations and creating another mess in the house, but usually try to get started the weekend after Thanksgiving. My kids are grown and “Thanksgiving is at MY house” (http://somanysomedays.com/thanksgiving-is-at-my-house), not Christmas, so every year I think maybe I won’t pull all of the decorations out.

Then I get to the ornament box and everything changes as I pull out the precious ornaments given to my children by my Mom every year since 1991, the Christmas before my daughter was born in January, until Christmas 2005, her last Christmas with us. Then the ornaments that my faithful sister has given my children every year since they were born. That’s a trait I do not have, consistency. My sister finds the perfect ornament for whatever phase of life they are experiencing. A driver’s license at 16 years old, basketballs & volleyballs (good for several years for both kids, lol), beach themes while they were attending college in a beach town and at younger ages, airplanes, water-skiing or Star Wars.

Before you know it, I get all excited, start surfing Pinterest, making new crap, cutting tree branches for arrangements and doing those spontaneous, procrastinating projects.  

After all this creating and decorating, it occurs to me that we, as empty nesters, are pretty much the only ones here over Christmas except a few short visits from our kids. It seems a shame not to invite our family and friends over for my birthday but I just do not feel ready. (Not sure that I ever feel ready, though). The house needs cleaning, the coffee table doesn’t match the other furniture, the paint on the windows needs to be scraped off and blah, blah, blah. I just didn’t feel capable of getting it done.

But you know what? God gave me such a blessing last Friday; a beautiful, snowy, afternoon at home.

Now, at this point I still wasn’t thinking “Pop-up Party”.  I just felt like I might be able to finish my new napkin rings and possibly get the den straightened up enough that we could relax and enjoy the snowy evening.

Then it got dark.

The snow was glistening outside, my dining table was decorated, the tree lights were twinkling, and the lit wreaths were shining on the stairway. That, is when I decided to have a “Pop-up Party” for my birthday and Christmas. Pretty spontaneous, right?

I started creating a checklist in my head. “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung….” OH CRAP! “Where the heck are the stockings?”

Tree decorated
Mantle decorated
Front door wreaths (lights are a little half-a**ed)
Icicle lights (still up from last year)
Newly painted Christmas pillow
New dough ornaments made
New napkin rings done

                          But, “Where the heck are the stockings?”

Pop-up Party planning off to a rocky start!  Go ahead and send out email invites anyway.

Pop-up Party @ the Parks’ House

No gifts please, come as you are, drop in after work, before or after shopping or shop online at our house! Bring some cookies or wine or come empty-handed. I just want to spend time surrounded by friends and family, Christmas lights and laughter.

My house will not be spotless, my dog will be barking, my two grand puppies will be running around, my son will have to visit thru Facetime, but all will be merry and bright for this evening, “stockings hung by the chimney” or not.

I challenge you this Christmas to let your guard down a little.  Invite people into your home and share your blessings with them. Their presence will bless you. They will not judge you, but instead appreciate you for including them in your “real” life.

Now, I’ve got to go find those darn stockings send out some evites. Happy Birthday to me and Merry Christmas to all of you!

.

Create a Life Saving, Time Saving, Thanksgiving NoteBook

Around ten years ago, I started filling my Halloween and Christmas notebooks, so I don’t know why I just thought about creating one for Thanksgiving this year. Unless, maybe, I was waiting on you so we could create ours together! Good excuse for procrastinating anyway.

But seriously, you can create your Thanksgiving notebook right now and it will save you so much time and stress, not only this year, but in the years to come. You will be so proud and relieved next year when you open your notebook up and Thanksgiving is already planned and under control. Just follow your organized notes and recipes so you can relax and enjoy the preparation of food, the festivities and time with your friends and family. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

This is actually a very simple project to accomplish and you only need a couple of items to get your holidays organized forever.

First, get a cheap three ring notebook. I prefer the notebooks with a clear pocket on the front where you can slide in a picture. When I pull out the notebook, it makes me happy to see the cover and brings me joy in knowing how easy this is going to make my holiday. 

COVER IDEAS:

1. Let your children draw a picture each year and slide it in and the clear pocket, over the old one. So much fun to look back year after year at the different pieces of artwork they have created.

2. Print out a Thanksgiving family photo on 8.5 x 11 copy paper and change yearly.

3. Print a favorite blessing, quote or graphic on 8.5 x 11 copy paper and insert.

4. Use a piece of pretty scrapbook paper in the clear pocket.

5. Leave it empty if you choose, but that’s not fun or very pretty. Remember, pretty can be really quick and easy, just go for it!

Second, you will want a pack of three hole punch, clear, letter sheet protectors. You can create your notebook without them, but I’m a really messy cook so for Thanksgiving, sheet protectors are a must for me.Third, grab some 8.5 x 11 copy paper for printing, writing recipes or notes.

THAT’S IT! I know it’s hard to believe that with so little expense and using time and resources that you have to use right now anyway, you can simplify your holiday season now and for years to come! Just trust me, you won’t be sorry.

MENU:

Write out your menu, make a copy and file behind current one so that if you share cooking duties you can add names beside the items. If it is different next year, you have a blank menu (without name assignments) for the next Thanksgiving.

.

RECIPES:

After you have created your cover, which I usually spend too much time and thought on, and your Menu, start collecting the recipes that you use every year. Print, copy or write all of them, slide into clear sheet protectors and BOOM! you have all of them together and don’t have to go through that dreaded pre-Thanksgiving recipe hunt ever again.

If you find new recipes or run across a really special one, like below, you have a three ring binder, just add them as you go.

Good Tip: Go ahead and put several empty clear protectors in your notebook so you don’t have to try and find them or buy new ones if you want to add recipes.

 

GROCERIES:

Make your grocery list, make a clean copy for next year, and place in a clear pocket folder. This will save you hours of trying to recreate a list of things you basically need every turkey day! How many Thanksgivings have you not needed to buy pumpkin, turkey, whip cream or wine? You could probably leave wine off the list because I’m pretty certain you would never forget that anyway. But just in case, put it on there…

That’s pretty much the scoop on how to make your Thanksgiving planning a breeze. You can add some “WOW” factors, but those are the necessities. For my Halloween and Christmas notebooks, I usually print out a collage page of pictures, insert into a clear sheet, and add to the notebook, just because it’s fun. But, wIth or without the additions, you have basically just made yourself a magical time saving, life saving, Thanksgiving notebook to keep and add to as long as you have the awesome responsibility of directing this special day for your friends and family.

If you are like me, and I know many of you, so I know you are (lol), I feel like I spend most of my days looking for “things”. Let’s get it together this Thanksgiving so that next year’s Thanksgiving plans will be all in one place, ready to execute with no stress.

Now, if only we can remember where we keep these magical notebooks…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and your families!

Thanksgiving is at MY House

Thanksgiving is at MY house, which is totally fair since we spend two days of Christmas frolicking at my sister’s beautiful house. However, Thanksgiving is at my house and it comes first, fast and right after a fun, easy, little night of Halloween festivities, which does not require a big meal with lots of family; only candy, drinks and a few spooktacular friends.  So, here it is 2 ½ weeks away and you want to give Thanksgiving all the attention it deserves, but Christmas ads are already running on TV, the 30’ tree has been delivered to Biltmore House and you have to RSVP to the company Christmas party.

Well, HOLD ON A DOG GONE MINUTE!

Thanksgiving is at MY house and if I have to clean up, buy groceries, pull rarely used pots, pans and dishes out of storage, then we are going to pause… and focus on Thanksgiving.

If you want to skip over Thanksgiving and move on to Christmas, I guess you’ll just have to celebrate somewhere other than MY house. We will be enjoying each other’s company and giving thanks for the many blessings God has given us until the last piece of Pumpkin Pie has been devoured!

So, that being understood, I’m going to give you a few fun, easy to do, easy to clean up and put away ideas for your Thanksgiving celebration so that you can quickly move on to Christmas AFTER your Turkey Day dinner without feeling like you’ve cheated Thanksgiving…

1. Have a chalkboard available for your guests to write things that they are thankful for this year. Since you can’t keep chalkboard writing, just snap a picture for memories and erase! Easy, easy! Ready for your Christmas quote!

2. Use Fall colored Christmas balls, which are already available in every color imaginable, and put little clear sticky dots on the bottom (the ones you use to keep items from scratching your furniture). Cut slips of cardstock or scrapbook paper and supply a black sharpie for your guests to share a blessing, prayer request or Thanksgiving praise. Use a piece of clear tape to attach the note onto the wire ball hanger or punch a hole in the paper and tie to the wire ball hanger.

3. Buy a cheap roll of brown contractor’s paper at the hardware store and cut placemat size pieces. Don’t take time to measure; you know that’s not my style. When you have one about the right size for your table, use it to get the others pretty close to the same size. Then, take a sharpie and draw squiggles around the edges, write Bible verses or quotes, use a stamp or draw turkeys on your placemats (if you have more artistic ability than this girl). Crumble up and toss after Thanksgiving dinner!

4. Buy an old tray at Goodwill, a thrift shop, or more likely, use one from your secret stash of Someday Wannado craft supplies. Paint the center with chalkboard paint. Let dry. Write on. So simple, I’m sure you didn’t need me to figure that one out. Erase and get ready for “# of Days ‘til Christmas”!

Now, I can’t help you much with the “big” family meal, but if you are supplying the location and the fabulous décor, maybe you can do like I do and have your guests bring their “specialty” dish that ONLY they can make (wink, wink)!

Then, PRAY. EAT. ENJOY… Thanksgiving at MY house is almost over and now we can get excited for the next big thing, my birthday (lol).  Seriously, more importantly, Christmas (which is not at MY house)!!!