Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Have Been Distracted

Please forgive me for not chronicling our Christmas. I have started several posts but I got distracted and failed to finish them.
First I got distracted by Pinterest. (Pinterest is a bit addictive but is a great organizational tool).
Then came this project.
For quite some time I have been working on this photo display.
I have been collecting inexpensive vintage and antique frames to use to display family photos.
I loved the idea of pairing contemporary photos with the older frames.
This idea also appealed to my frugal sensibilities.
All of these frames were inexpensive; not one of the older frames in this display cost more than five dollars.
It was only after I collected a bunch of frames that I realized I might have an issue actually framing the photos as frugally as I had hoped because most of the frames came without glass and are odd sizes that would require custom mats to be cut.
So, this project floundered for some time.
I have spent months (like maybe six months or more) with some of these frames mounted empty on my wall.
Toodling around on Pinterest, looking at the gobs of really great art out there on the net, got my creative juices flowing and encouraged me to look at what I had stashed in my studio.
Then I had an epiphany: I could forget the glass and mats and use foam board, craft paper, dictionary pages, masking tape, packing tape and glue to finish framing my pictures, get them up on the wall and begin enjoying them.
I am so pleased with the outcome!

On the top right are buttons my grandmother allowed me to take from her button tin when I was just a youngster. Years ago I sewed them onto a small canvas and now they seem at home here. Next to the buttons is a picture of my great-grandfather looking rather dapper. And below are two of my favorite photos of the year. They are photos of my kiddo's (plus Ian) taken while we were in Las Vegas this summer. These photos are beneath glass simply because the frame came with it. (As an aside, this frame only cost me two dollars at a local thrift store!) The photos are mounted on craft paper wrapped foam board and are accented with scraps of vintage dictionary pages.

The top photo's are of my mother as a youngster and the bottom one is of Christian and Maceo when they were younger. I put the shadowboxes together some years back and am pleased that they work so well with this grouping. On the left is my grandmother holding me as a baby and Bishop at three days of age is on the right.

The top right is a photo of my grandfather sitting in the back of a truck with his younger brother, who died as a child. It is the only picture I have that has little Preston in it. To the left of that photo is my grandfather at 90. Beneath my grandfather's photo I simply taped two photos of my husband as a child. I love the one of him with his mother; isn't she beautiful with that fro?
And beneath that is a photo taken by my little sister, Christie, of Christian as a youngster. He is wearing my grandfather's hat and, although you can't see it in this photo, he is mounted on a horse.

To frame my grandfather's photo I simply wrapped foam board with craft paper and used masking tape as photo corners.

Christian's picture was already matted and I simply used packing tape to tape it the foam board covered with vintage dictionary pages.

I am so pleased with the entire arrangement.
I can hardly stop staring and smiling.
For me, it was worth the distraction
but I will try to get back on track.
I will try to get Christmas posted before the New Year.
Oh my, the clock is ticking....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas!

The kids awoke to a fire ablaze in the fireplace, stuffed stockings and presents under the tree.

According to tradition, the festivities begin with the dumping of the stockings.

In his stocking, Bishop received a Cardinals t-shirt commemorating his first time attendance of a baseball game. Now he has something appropriate to wear to next years games.

Then began package distribution which was done by Maceo, this years designated "wise man."
He was such a thoughtful and charming host.

Christian received a special 5-in-1 tool kit for his 72-hour emergency pack, clothes,

and these really hip glasses, gunnar glasses that are intended to help relieve eye strain for those who are on the computer a lot.

From Grandmama, Aunt Christie, and crew, he got his really cool book that has biographical sketches regarding Black Americans who have served in Congress. It is unbelievable!
Thanks guys!

Maceo received football-related video games, a football,

and Carolina Panthers gear. He is so proud of this shirt!

Bishop received an air soft gun, an r/c helicopter (which was a huge hit)

and Broncos gear. (We are a football loving family!)

Bishop has declared this to be a great Christmas, "one of the best ever, even the cat (who received special treats) thinks so!"

It was a beautiful day and a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

This evening we read the scripture pertaining to Christ's birth, placed Christ in the Nativity, and lit all the candles on the advent wreath.

We also roasted marshmallows over the fire and made s'mores.
S'mores used to be the designated treat for Santa but now we just enjoy them as a family.

The s'more eating came with a lot of football talk.
(I do live in a house full of guys).

Then came the traditional Christmas Eve gifts...

delivered to us by a very special elf, Bronco fan Bishop!

Every Christmas Eve the kiddos get pajamas...

and a book. I love how excited they can get over these simple gifts even though they have foreknowledge as to basically what is in the package.

Then the kiddos are all tucked in, comfy in their new pj's and reading their new books, while the stockings are stuffed and the presents placed beneath the tree.

Simple traditions and I love them!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Our 14th Wedding Anniversary

Herb and I have known each other for eighteen years and have been married for fourteen.

This evening we celebrated those fourteen years of marriage and the making of a family.

We got married with Christian and Keegan by our sides - Keegan as our flower girl and Christian as our ring bearer. Keegan passed out beautiful white roses to the family members who came to witness our vows and Christian was truly proud of being responsible for the rings.
It was a small and simple affair; we were surrounded by those who loved and supported us most and I will always treasure that.

Our recognition of this special event was also simple.
I gathered all my boys around the table to enjoy a meal of lasagna, salad, and apple-pear-cranberry cobbler.
We dined on the same blue willow dishes that were used at our reception and the salad was served in the wooden bowl and with the wooden utensils that were bought in Santa Fe while we were on our honeymoon. These are items that we use routinely but I am not sure that the boys were aware of their significance until this very evening.
The crystal champagne flutes used at our wedding reception were brought out for an anniversary drink. And with that, I drink a toast to my husband, Herb, and to our fourteen years of adventures together -including the adventures of giving birth to two children and raising four, of educational adventures and those found while serving in the army, of two deployments and multiple moves and, of course, those adventures found in the common routine of everyday life together. Thanks for the dance, the years, and the years to come!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

God is with us!
Throughout time He has performed miracles
and He continues to perform them today!

The Bible instructs us to remember that which the Father has done for us.
Our family tries to find memorable ways to recognize the mighty things that God has done for our family, our nation, and our world throughout all of history.

We are not Jewish, thus we do not recognize Hanukkah in all the ways commanded for them.
However, one night of the year we do incorporate some of their customs into our family dinnertime as we tell the story of God's miraculous provision for His people.
We light a small menorah, say a special blessing, serve fried foods, and play a little dreidl.

This year we got to share our simple celebration with three guests, including my grand-nephew.
Maddox did seem to enjoy the applesauce and latkes; but, I am not certain if he enjoyed the latkes more than he enjoyed the opportunity to use a knife to cut his latkes!

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Hot Chocolate Bar and a Cup of Christmas Cheer

I set up this hot chocolate bar
and we had a little fun with it this evening.

The hot chocolate bar included three different varieties of Swiss Miss and our homemade version of hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows and chocolate marshmallows,

chocolate and caramel syrups, dark chocolate chips and peanut butter chips,
and candy canes to be used as stirring sticks.

We had a guest over this evening who really enjoyed the hot chocolate bar.
His cup of Christmas cheer was made with milk chocolate hot chocolate, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, both types of marshmallows, and was topped off with a candy cane.

Bishop's cup of Christmas cheer was made with dark chocolate hot chocolate mix, chocolate syrup, dark chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and marshmallows.

I hope to be adding more goodies to the bar; there are so many possibilities.
I plan on keeping the hot chocolate bar stocked and ready to go at least through the 12 days of Christmas.
There are many cups of Christmas cheer to be had
and it will be fun to see what we can come up with!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Tradition Continues

Last night I placed three little packages on the table.

Packages to be opened today.
Each year I give the kiddos ornaments to be added to the tree the week before Christmas.

I try to make the ornaments representative of an accomplishment, interest or event experienced throughout the year.

Sometimes, as in the case of this football playing clown that Christian received, they are special for other reasons. This ornament was a gift to Christian's dad from Grandmama. I decided to pass it along. I know he will treasure it.
I gave Keegan something similar. I gave her a heart shaped cinnamon-applesauce ornament made by her father and I for our first Christmas tree. It is probably twenty-four years old. As she will be decorating her first Christmas tree, and doing it with very little funds, I wanted to inspire her. I even sent her the recipe and some of the ingredients to make her own cinnamon-applesauce ornaments. I look forward to seeing her Christmas tree.

As a cub scout, Bishop went camping twice this year.
I wanted to commemorate those activities.
He said that this tent looks a lot like the one he slept in during resident camp.
It made him smile.

Maceo's ornament is representative of our trip to California, and specifically our trip to the Santa Monica Pier. This ornament contains sand, shells, and even a tiny feather all collected from the beach during our visit. As I look at this ornament I can feel the sand beneath my feet and I can see my boys challenging the waves. I hope it brings back similar fond memories for Maceo.

I love this simple tradition!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The (Virtual) Holiday Open House Continues

I love my kitchen. It is bright and colorful with its yellow walls and green cupboard.
I particularly love it at Christmastime as it plays host to my most kitschy decorations.

Upon entering the kitchen you would find this old pew with a basket of Christmas books and fun pillows. I especially love the sock snowmen made by Maceo and Bishop.
Sometimes a boy will sit here and chat with me while I bake or prepare dinner.

My baking station is sensible and practical

...while being colorful and lively.

It encourages smiling while baking!

I love the glow of this Christmas tree that my younger sister, Christie, made for me.
It has been a part of my Christmas decorating for years and always brings me joy!

Above my kitchen sink are two large windows that now have some fabulous garland strung across them. The garland is a new addition. I bought two strands at two dollars each at a favorite thrift store. They are vintage and even have their original 'Made in Japan' tags still intact. What a great find.
On either side of my windows I have white shelves full of kitschy Christmas items.

I find Christmas elves to be irresistible.

I also have a penchant for vintage Santas...

...especially these Santa mugs and pitcher
that can be found above Herb's coffee maker.

One of my most favoritest Santas is this potholder.
It was a sweet gift given to me by Christian seventeen years ago.
As a kindergartner, he picked it out for me at his school's 'Santa's Workshop'.
It brings back such fond memories of now grown children as youngsters and of Christmases past!