“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!

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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.

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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)!!!


Hi, Ya’ll from Magnolia Silos

I just want to give you a sneak peek of our trip to Waco last week where we spent two nights at Chip and Joanna’s second fixer upper rental property, Hillcrest Estate. I will say that this house is amazing (no surprise there) and anyone you talk to that knows the Gaines’ will tell you that they are genuinely, the same people you see on “Fixer Upper” week after week.The locals don’t mind sharing their personal and/or professional experiences with this down to earth, but oh so famous, family.The positive impact on Waco is evident everywhere you look. Because of their dedication and desire to bring the city of Waco back from a devastating tornado and failing economic state, they have enriched so many lives and changed the future for the good of generations to come.  

I will share lots more from our trip so please check back soon!

Simple and Sophisticated Halloween Table Decor

You can make decorative Halloween plates without a creative bone in your body!

SIMPLE – MINIMAL – QUICK – EASY

Do you love those eery, farmhouse type Halloween plates you’ve been seeing around fancy shops like Pottery Barn? What if you could make four of your own in less than 30 minutes for practically nothing? That’d be awesome, right? It’s almost embarrassing how easy this project is, but since I’m all about giving you fast, little, awesome project ideas that you can squeeze in between the details of your busy life, here goes…

I really like the simple black and white plates for my kitchen, so I started looking around and saw them priced anywhere from $4.99 a plate at a local discount store, to $12.99 a plate at Pottery Barn. That’s not totally outrageous, but I wanted four and just couldn’t justify buying them when I already have Halloween decor galore! But, I still wanted them.

So, I did the only thing I could do, made them myself. You can certainly do the same and create your own totally awesome table for the Halloween season.

1. Gather up some white plates and wipe with alcohol to clean. I used the same ones that I have on my table all year long. After Halloween, I’ll just de-decorate them or re-decorate them for Thanksgiving! You can also find these for about $1 at thrift stores, Big Lots, or Dollar Tree.

2. I have a Cricut cutting machine, so I picked 4 simple Halloween silhouettes to cut out of scrap pieces of Oracal 631-651 black vinyl. If you don’t have a Cricut, you can just print out a few patterns, trace onto black paper & cut out with scissors or just buy some cutouts that will fit your plates at the Dollar Tree or Hobby Lobby. If you do the latter, just use some rubber cement and glue them on your plates. Remember that they are for decorative use only. I don’t think the paper will wash well. And, BOOM, you’re done! If you use vinyl, just a couple more steps to go, but you will be able to use and hand wash the plates if necessary.

3. Weed out the open areas of your pattern, ie. eyes in a skull. Take clear contact paper or transfer paper and place over your design, one at a time, and rub with a credit card until you can lift it off the backing.


4. Holding the clear contact paper with your design on it, hover over plate your design is where you want to place it. Lay it down and rub with credit card. Lift clear paper a little to see if it is sticking, if not, rub a little more, if so, BOOM you’re done too!

It doesn’t get much quicker or easier than this. Just think how impressed your friends will be when they see your totally, awesome, sophisticated Halloween plates and you get to tell them that you created them yourself! (You don’t really need to elaborate on how quick and easy it was, unless it’s a good friend that wants to make her own cool, eery plates)!

ENJOY!

Create a Totally Spontaneous & Spooky Halloween Graphic on Glass

 

So, you’ve found my blog.  I’m really excited to have you, but just a warning  if you haven’t read “Let’s be Friends”, which is a little background on me, you might better head on over there before you start this project. I’m not about long, drawn out, perfect projects created in a wonderful workshop or delightful craft room, even though it would be cool if I had one! Most of my project details are not well thought out but more, “I have a few minutes and some black paint, so I think I’ll paint a spiderweb on a window pane.” Which is exactly what I started thinking about today on my way home from work. So, if you want some “haphazard” instructions on how to create your own impromptu Halloween glass painting, here we go…

1. Find a piece of glass. It can be out of a picture frame, an old window pane, or even a glass table cover. You can always scrape it off after Halloween like I did last year. Check out the picture at the end of the blog.

2. If it needs cleaning, clean it a little. I don’t do windows, so I didn’t scrape off the paint from the edges of my window pane and besides, that gives it some character. Stick with easy!

 

3. Find a graphic that you like online or freehand if you chose. However, you will need to draw the picture in reverse, so I would probably suggest you save your artistic ability for other projects. Size the graphic and flip or reverse the design to print. If you use a computer, copy pic into Paint and flip horizontally. If you’re using an iPad or tablet, export to Word and reverse. Many printers also have a “mirror image setting” you can select. Then Print.

 

4. Place your reversed printout under the glass, backside up. You will be drawing on the backside. Use a white marker to trace over the design. Easy, right?

 

5. When design is fully traced on the back of your glass, use black spray paint, cheapest that you can find, and spray the back of the glass right over the white that you just traced.

Make sure you have a fancy paint area, like me. Lol The good old ground works well and is very convenient.

 

6. Don’t peek until the black paint is fully dry.

Okay, now! VOILA!    

Amazing how sharp the white marker shows up in front of the black paint.  Now, isn’t your totally spontaneous & spooky Halloween project just adorable?

Here’s a pic of the round glass table top I did last year.

        

I’d love to see your projects. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

If you love this post,  please let me know and be sure to subscribe @ “Let’s be Friends” so I can share other totally crazy, easy projects with you!

Oh No! My ear is “OUT OF ORDER”

In August 2015, while vacationing with my family, the hearing in my right ear started sounding a little muffled, like it does sometimes after you have gone swimming. Maybe I had water trapped in there or some wax built up.  Whatever it was, I wanted to stop it from becoming an ear infection and possibly interrupting our vacation time, so I went to a local doctor. He examined it and proceeded to irrigate, hoping to loosen any wax. When this was unsuccessful and my ear was even more irritated, he gave me a mild antibiotic and told me to see my family doctor as soon as I returned home. We continued with our plans and headed out to the beach where we enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day. It wasn’t until we were leaving that the tide begin to turn, literally. As I was walking up the beach access stairs, my head started spinning and I melted like a snowman onto the steps. For the life of me, I could not get up. Vertigo had taken over my body. If you have dealt with this or have ever had an episode, I truly am sorry. It’s terrible. My husband and son carried me to the car.

I had severe Vertigo for four more days and stayed in bed, only getting up to go to the bathroom with assistance. Luckily, on the fifth day, I wasn’t quite as dizzy and using a walker to keep from running into the wall or falling down, was able to make the three hour ride home. The next day started the long process of getting to the root cause of the problem. Of course I had to start with my family doctor, who sent me to have a little hearing test like you have in elementary school, then he sent me to an Eyes, Ears, Nose and Throat specialist, who sent me for an MRI. When that came back clear, he sent me to the Otolaryngologist (never heard of that before). Immediately, he sent me to the Audiologist, in the same building and I had a very thorough series of hearing tests. When I walked out of the soundproof room, I asked the Audiologist  if my right ear was dead. She said, “we don’t tell the patient that, but that’s what we usually call it, and yes, at this time, it seems to be”.   My kids thought I should get a tattoo on my ear that said, “Out of Order” so people would know which ear they should talk too. Lol.

After the Otolaryngologist  studied the hearing results and examined me, he concluded that it must have been a virus that attacked my ear and more than likely, unless it came back in the next couple of months, I would have to learn how to adjust to 100% hearing loss in that ear. I was 53 years old, it was 2015, so I’m assuming that unless God has other plans, I’m going to be dealing with a dead ear the rest of my life. The Vertigo, hopefully, would not continue.

Now, to me, there are much worse things that could happen than losing my hearing in one ear. So, after being out of work four weeks, not driving, and being totally dependent on my family, thankfully, the Vertigo went away and I was ready to move on. Even though there are worse things, I wasn’t prepared for all of the issues that just losing your hearing in one ear can create.

One day when I was really frustrated, I sat down and compiled a list of things about my sudden hearing loss that I thought my friends and family may not realize or had never thought about. I would never have imagined some of the symptoms that a person could struggle with day to day with loss of hearing in one ear if I had not been experiencing it myself. These thoughts are from my struggles and may not apply to everyone, but I imagine at least some of them do.  So, here goes…

Loud noises are irritating (your good ear compensates a lot and takes all the noise)
Soft noises are irritating
Soft noises can sound like dynamite (it sounds crazy, but it’s true)
Conversations in a restaurant, are almost impossible
You learn to “nod and smile” a lot
You miss “witty” comments because you don’t want to ask people to repeat themselves all the time
You have to learn how to walk straight and not look down all the time
You have to hold onto rails and hang close to walls
Your sense of security is shaken
You feel very insecure about venturing out alone
Your self-confidence takes a blow
You worry about joining in a conversation because you aren’t sure you have heard all the details correctly
In noisy places where you have to speak loudly, your ear vibrates as you speak
When you talk, sometimes it sounds like you are under water to yourself
At times it seems very calm because you can’t hear background noise
When I breathe, it sounds like Darth Vader breathing inside my head

Even though you can’t hear external noises, it’s pretty noisy inside your head (ringing, high pitched tones, chiming sounds, roaring, like wind on the beach)

But on a positive note, if my hubby is snoring, I lie on my hearing ear and it’s all good!

I wrote this list about a year ago and now and as I think back about it, some of these things have gotten a little better and at least tolerable, but about four months ago when my “good” ear filled with fluid and I could barely hear anything, I wasn’t very tolerant.  THAT WAS CRAZY SCARY!  My specialist sent me for another hearing test, drained the good ear and put in a tube right there in his office. I think he could see my panic! Almost immediately, I could feel the pressure decreasing and over a few weeks, it was back to normal. But, let me tell you, that other “good” ear becomes so important when you only have one left!

Like most things we’ve never experienced and conditions that are not visible to the eye, we can’t be expected to totally understand what a person may be dealing with. In saying all of this, my hope is that if you are in a similar situation, you realize that you are not alone and to everyone else, that I may have enlightened your awareness, patience and kindness towards other people, because really, we all have struggles and we are all just doing the best we can to move on to So Many Somedays that are much more fun!

 

 

Are you a Someday Wanna-doer?

Someday, I’ll paint that old wooden chair. Someday, I’ll make a clock out of that big round piece of wood. Someday, I’ll “sell a million” of those…

Wanna-do Chairs

“So Many Somedays” I have spent collecting pieces and parts hoping to use them to make something grand. What I have finally realized, or was pointed out to me by my normally wonderful husband of almost 30 years, is that I was spending all my time collecting for someday and never getting around to creating any of those grand projects. Much less, if I continued collecting at the current pace, not only would I fill our barn, which I pretty much already have, but I would never get to that ever elusive “Someday”. Yes, I have enjoyed collecting these little treasures. No, I don’t regret any of the Flea Market trips, yard sales or donations from friends. That was all part of the fun for that time of my life.  But now, I am going to CLEAN HOUSE. Any pieces, parts or supplies that were gathered for a far-fetched “wanna-do” someday project or that I have lost interest in or forgotten what it was to be turned into in the first place, is going to be donated to a charity, another junker friend, or burned, since some of it really is junk! Now, I can’t say I will totally stop hunting for new finds but seriously, I am going to try and decrease this “treasure chest” of supplies drastically.

It’s going to be hard to part with some items, especially when many of them bring back such fun memories. Like the time we were in the pouring rain rummaging through the field at Crumpler’s Antiques. Or the time my sister and I spent the weekend in Hampstead at the Women’s Club Annual Christmas sale and coincidentally bought matching black dresses. Then we made a dance video to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” to proudly present to, or rather, embarrass, our families on Christmas Eve. Yes, we were in our early 50’s, and no, there was no wine involved (this time)!

We’ll have successes and failures, but isn’t that life? Just keep moving and organize a nice clean space to actually create something amazing on a “Someday” more realistically within reach.

I hope you will join me in this journey. Of course, it won’t be all about “cleaning out” because as we go along, we will surely get distracted with fun things we uncover like, favorite recipes, ideas, tips, craft projects, old photos, home décor, DIY ideas, etc. We have to remember that being a Someday “wanna-doer” is not limited to amazing craft projects. It spreads to all areas of our lives. By sharing my treasures, aka JUNK, with you, I can make my case that they were worth collecting and now move on with a clear conscious to “So Many Somedays” ahead…

(If you are a “Someday” Wanna-doer, shoot me a comment and let me know what you collect for your projects).