Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tearing Down the House


Have you taken your Christmas tree down and all your Christmas Decor? I don't know why tearing down the house reminds me of the song "Burning Down the House" by the Dave Matthews Band? Maybe because it seems easier to burn the stuff than put it away. (Just Kidding) I have learned a few things. Frankly, it is shocking that I actually have an organizational tip. I can tell my mother is laughing herself silly right now. All kidding aside, it really helps to put things away in an organized manner.

Old First Box or Box 1

I have a box 1 or first box I pull out first every year. I had to change it up a little this year but basically I put all my Christmas books, blank Christmas Cards, extra ornament hooks, Christmas music, and Christmas labels in this first box. I keep this box in my hall closet. I was really relieved to find blank Christmas Cards in this box as those little things can really run the budget up. This is also stuff that you don't want to go digging through a whole box of Christmas decor to find. As I was cleaning up stuff, I realized it was a also a good idea to purge a few items that haven't been used and put it into the donate pile.

Saving and Giving (WFMW) had a post on things that worked this Christmas and things she would like to do differently . It got me to thinking. I love doing the Lego Advent. The kids really enjoyed so I will do a advent calender of some type next year. I hosted Christmas and I thought all the making ahead of things really lowered the stress level. As always, I wish I did a better job of shopping ahead so I am going to work on that. I always have a hard time coming up with good teacher, friend, bus driver gifts, and friendship trinkets. I managed to find some really cute clearanced stuff at Rite Aid so I am all set on that. I also want us to slow down and really enjoy the reason of the season so I am going to work harder at that next year.

2009 by the Numbers






favorite photos of 2009


Here is 2009 by the Numbers

Number of Posts in 2009 - 231
According to Stat Counter these are the most read posts-The Room that Thrift Built, Christmas Tour, TP Roll Wreath. TP and Paper Towel roll Art,My View this Morning, and ADHD Awareness Week

average number of views per day - 35

Number of books read - 45

favorite books of 2009 - Twilight Series, My Enemy's Cradle, and Firefly Lane.

favorite book club book - Accidental Tourist and The House at Sugar Beach - I consider these the best book club books as they generated a lot of discussion and I think that is the main reason a book club is successful. They are books I wouldn't normally read.

favorite read aloud kid books read - The Diary of a Killer Cat and Return of the Killer Cat by A. Fine
Number of trips to the Emergency Room - 2 (Giant Man Child, #1 Son)

Number of Adventure Van Trips- too many to list
Number of parades attended - 3 (?) 4th of July, Torch Light, Lynden Light Parade
favorite adventures - Squires Lake, Cama Beach,Torch Light Parade, Warm Beach
favorite quote - "This Van Sucks" and Wizard of Ooze both were on the Squires Lake trip

Number of Rag Quilts this year - 4 My favorite is the one I made for Mrs Epi.

Big Trips taken this year - 2 - Colorado and San Diego

Number of Letter Boxes found - 7 I will have to say the one in Rocky Mountain Park was the most difficult to reach. We had to send #1 son into the rock crack

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gift Revealed

I was working on two rag quilts right before Christmas. I was finished literally two days before Christmas. It was really hard to keep these a secret especially the one for Mrs Epi as she was there when I purchased most of the fabric. I only did 4 rag quilts in 2009. The one above is the one I did for Mrs Epi complete with bird and flower appliques. Here is a link to see the fabrics up close.Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the one I did for Nonna.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Warm Beach

On Wednesday last week, we had the opportunity to visit Warm Beach and their Christmas Light Display, "The Lights of Christmas", in Stanwood, WA with the Adventure Crew. That was one amazing light display. There is definitely 1 million lights as advertised. I especially loved the mountain with the moon.

The full sized wood carved Nativity was beautiful.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cookie Plate Revealed


Just had to show off the wonderfully delicious cookie plate minus most of the fudge from Mrs Epi - oops, got to check my thighs. Check out those hand painted shortbread with the holly leaves. There were tea cakes, two types of fudge, dipped pretzels, rosettes, peanut brittle, shortbread, macaroons, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and no bake cookies, snickerdoodles, and what I call snowflake cookies.

Merry Christmas

#1 Son and Chuckles with the only snow we saw at Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Signs of too much Christmas Baking

You set peanut brittle on fire

you wonder to yourself if 20 batches of peanut brittle is enough

you go through 6 lbs of butter

you have a blister on your stirring finger

you make late night trips to the grocery store for chocolate chips

you think there might be a mini chocolate chip conspiracy

you have a cramp or pulled muscle in your right calf muscle from standing

you make sweets you can't even eat because of your life threatening allergies such as peanut brittle and peanut balls and coconut macaroons ( She ain't called Mrs Epi for nothing)

your snickerdoodles turn into hockey pucks - Something really bad happened

you let your daughter watch trash TV just so she can help you dip pretzels into chocolate

you make threats to your friends that if they don't stop harassing you they won't get a goodie plate - That is really, really wrong and will put you on Santa's naughty list.



THESE ARE ALL SIGNS TO STOP BAKING!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Break Incident

We have managed to make our first visit to the ER during Christmas break on Sunday evening. #1 Son managed to fall off a desk chair into a large wood captains bed and cut open his head. We believe in starting our break with a bang (literally to the head). He ended up getting 5 staples. It is a nice gash to the head. I didn't think you needed pictures believe me it isn't pretty.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Baking

I am a little slow to get started on my Christmas baking. I am a much better baker than a cook. I see my friend Carol is working on her Christmas Baking. Check out her blog. This year I plan on making sugar cookies, snowflake cookies, sesame cookies, banana bread, carrot and pineapple bread, Corny Snack Mix, and the world's best cookies. The sesame cookies are my experiment cookie. I decided to do these as I over bought some sesame seeds for another recipe. I got the recipe out of the Bellingham Herald's Reader Submitted Cookie Recipes. These are really different and I think would be really good with a cup of tea.

Sesame Seed Cookies submitted by Mary Lindeman
Ingredients
1 cup of butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sesame seeds to coat

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Mix Flour , Soda, and salt and add to first mixture
Chill dough
Roll dough into balls and roll each in sesame seeds.
Place on cookie sheet or parchment paper.
Bake 10 minutes.
let set for a minute or two before removing to cookie rack to cool.
Makes 2 Dozen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

6 sided Snowflakes

Big E in the Snowflake Witness Protection Program
I was really inspired by the Hope Studio snowflake garland . You have to look at her garland. IT is beautiful. Hers was inspired by the movie "ELF". I have never seen the movie but now I want to. I had the Diva and Big E cut the 6 sided snowflakes and we made some paper chains. I did all the folding. Make sure you have sharp scissors as it is a lot of paper to cut through. For little people, there needs to be a lot of supervision because of the sharp scissors. I totally had to relearn how to fold the darn things. I feel like such a flake. I cut quite a few my self.
They are quite addicting. Here are some instructions to make 6 sided snowflakes. I hung a bunch in my kitchen window. It is not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

SNOW!

#1 Son
We got snow yesterday! The kids were so excited. Last year and this year, I broke down and got snow pants. That is the best investment. I have no idea why I resisted for so long. We ended up going and getting more boots last night as Chuckles exploded out of the pair we had on hand. As of this morning, we are having a 2 hour late start for school.

Christmas Tour

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester


In the spirit of the Nester, it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. This is also is what happens when you let children decorate their own tree without supervision. Even the lights were put on by the children. Note how the lights were placed so carefully -LOL. They put a lot of the ornaments that they made in school on the tree. Then they wonder why I won't let them decorate my big tree all by themselves.

Between my children and cats helping with the tree it is amazing that the thing is still standing. All kidding aside, my children did help decorate the large tree. I did a little rearranging to spread the ornaments out as they all seemed to end up clumped up together. This year and last we only put our non-breakable ornaments on the tree as we have cats. I have collected a lot of glass ornaments over the years so I am a little disappointed not to be able to display them on my big tree. I would say our non theme tree is red with snowflakes and icicles. I think the red balls/icicles seem to unify the tree. The quote boards behind the tree say this - "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year." ( Charles Dickens)and " Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone."(Charles Schultz)

I displayed my shiney brites on glass candlesticks. The TP roll wreath I made this year. The details are here.
These snowmen were made by a friend of mine and I display them every year. They are just 2 by 4's painted white and made into snowmen.

Check out the Christmas Home Tour on the Nester.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My View this Morning


This is the sweet picture of my Chuckles this morning. He is fascinated with the book "1001 Things to Spot at Christmas." It is a scholastic book. He sat for a good 30 to 40 minutes with this book. That is a long time for him. As many of you know, I have books I only get out for Christmas. My kids really look forward to reading these books the month of December.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter Picture


This picture seemed appropriate as it is in the 20's and the wind chill easily makes into the teens. The Diva crafted this collage/winter picture on Monday. The idea is from laugh, paint, create. She did a great job.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lego Advent Calendar

The Lego Advent Calendar is huge hit our house. We got ours at Legoland but I have seen it in stores since. The kids are really excited every morning to build a new creation. So far, we have a policeman, snowman, skate stand, light pole, sled, sledder, skater. It has been a good activity for us and I thought the price was reasonable.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

TP Roll Wreath

I am little obsessed with recycling the empty TP rolls. I guess that isn't so far fetched since I named my blog after an outhouse. Here is the link to my previous TP roll escapades. The Diva and I made some snowflake shapes with the cutoffs from the TP rolls. Then we painted them white and glittered them. I decided to glue some of them together to form this wreath.
I think it looks pretty good behind the Shiny Brites. I got the idea from here. My is similar but different. It definitely isn't Martha quality. There is an enormous amount of really cute simple wreaths made with recycled materials out there. Check out this one. This is another popular one done with all dollar store materials. I think I am done wreath making for myself but I might try out one of these ideas with the kids on Crafty Crow.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brrr! It is cold outside.


We woke to a very sunny clear but windy morning but it was crisp. It has been a tradition to go to Holiday Port Festival in Bellingham. We especially like the gingerbread house display. This year did not disappoint. Our favorite was the house from the movie, "UP". It is really amazing the stuff people make. Below is a picture of Bellingham Bay, it was not a good sailing day.

We finished up our day by attending the Lynden Light Parade. We about froze to death. We didn't make it through the whole parade. It just was too cold. Two hours later and I think my face unfroze. We were so busy trying to stay bundled up that we missed Sinterklass, the Dutch Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shiny Brites

I love my Shiny Brites. They make me happy. I put up my display a little different this year. I broke down and got a little mercury tree. I think it looks great up there on a glass candlestick holder. (Sorry for the dark picture) I also brought out some silver candlesticks I got at my wedding (ages ago). I would like to put a little something behind all of this to tie it together. I crafted something but it I just am ho hum about it. It didn't come out quite how I imagined it. Below is some of the past displays - 2007 and 2008.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gingerbread Men

Chef E wanted to make gingerbread men today. I was little uneasy about making these from scratch. I have never made gingerbread. I have decorated gingerbread but never made it. I got a hot tip that Pillsbury made pre-made gingerbread dough. THANK YOU PILLSBURY! I got a lot of love in my heart for you. Having the ready made dough made this project possible. We had fun cutting out gingerbread men and women. Hey, we are equal opportunity here. The giant big ones didn't hold up that great once we started to decorate but it was ok.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Puzzling Thanksgiving

We spent most of Thanksgiving and the weekend putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle. I have to say my contribution was small. It was a toughie. There is a whole lot of white and blue in this puzzle. We were missing two pieces. It was driving us crazy that we couldn't find the last two pieces.
Luckily the Giant Man Child was able to find the pieces. We had a fine Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cherry Coke Warning

I hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving! I ventured out on black Friday to Walmart with my best friend. Thank God, I had her to protect me from the crazies. I received this email on Thanksgiving Eve. It made me laugh so I thought I would share. This is from my sister from another mother/best friend. This is totally printed without her permission.
Okay, this is what happens when your best friend comes over at 6:30pm and gives you a cherry coke... this is a real story not fiction!
1. Pick a new paint color with such friend to fix the "fiesta" theme kitchen
2. Open can of cherry coke before such friend leaves and begin to drink it... did I mention this is probably close to 7 pm now?
3. Gather up kids and go to get in the van to venture out for dinner.
4. Realize that your out of gas and need to make a quick stop before dinner.
5. After filling tank with gas drive to the closest McD's and order a nutritious dinner.
6. Eat dinner in van as you drive to town because you now have had a half a cherry coke and another coke from McD's ... did I mention I was driving to go and pick up new paint?
7. Buy new paint.
8. On the way home from Home Depot stop in at Walmart to see if they curtains to match new color - no such luck only one in stock. (might call for a Mt Vernon trip)
9. Arrive home and send two small children to bed.
10. Go downstairs and put freshly baked pies in fridge... 2 pumpkins, 1 apple
11. Make green bean casserole and refrigerate.
12 Make sweet potatoes and refrigerate.
13. Finish cherry coke from earlier... Very Important!
14 Clean counters and make room for new roaster oven.
15. Open and assemble new roaster.
16 Do one load of laundry.... bedding off oldest daughters bed.
17. Oldest daughter comes in and tells me that something ate the rabbits food and neither rabbit has any in their cages.
18. Realize that we are also out of milk.
19. 9:45 jump in van and go to Fred Meyers for milk and rabbit food... Thank God they really are one stop shopping!
20. Arrive home feed rabbits with daughter.
21. Take dogs out.
22. Make regular stuffing and refrigerate.
23. Toast bread for new special stuffing.
24. Do dishes
25. last but not least ....PAINT... and yes I LOVE THE NEW COLOR!!!!!!
26. 12:52am wide awake and going to play some bejeweled blitz and hopefully crash soon!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nov 25: Thankful



I am thankful for NEW days, NEW beginnings, and NEW Starts. We were rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise and a rainbow. Let today be a day of good things.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Treat

The Diva's Turkey
Big E's Turkey

#1 Son

Chuckles

Me and my little turkey's for the afternoon made these turkey treats. These were made with packaged biscuits and cinnamon rolls with a lot of sprinkles. You can't go wrong with sprinkles. They were delish.

IEP thoughts

After doing my ADHD post I received such a positive response. I thought I would go ahead and post this. Today was my son's IEP (individual education program) meeting. My oldest has had one of these IEP's since preschool. He is now in 6th grade and 11 years old. He will be transitioning to middle school next year. When a school system (district) decides that a child needs services a evaluation is conducted and IEP is drafted up. The IEP has specific goals that are written in it as well as who will provide the services to reach that goal. It is a contract of sorts. Today I will go again and advocate for my son. When I stared the evaluation process for my son, he was 4 years old. Many times I felt in the dark about the process. At that 1st IEP meeting there were no less than 10 people present and the first meeting resulted in denial of services. I had no idea on what I was walking into nor how to advocate for my son. I felt completely defeated, mislead, and alone in my concern about my son. I have learned a few things after 9 or so IEP meetings, I always cry. I can't help myself. It is really hard to hear negative things about my son. These things always make me feel like I have failed. I know that isn't true but deep down I feel that. Secondly, talk is cheap. We can all talk about my son but show me by your actions what you are doing for my son. Lets talk about what we can do not what isn't possible. Thirdly, I am there for my son not the school district, therapist, or teacher. I am not there to make things easier by not making you do the job that you are tasked to do. I really don't care where the funding comes from or how many kids you have to service. I am there to ensure that my son receives services or a free and appropriate education (FAE) Fourth, the ideal school setting for me is not the ideal school setting for my son. How I was educated is vastly different from how they do it now a days and what worked for me is probably not going to work for my son. I have to leave my feelings about my education outside that meeting. Fifth, the parent is part of the team. Parents are allowed to make suggestions and request that certain things be removed from the record. The parent is the only person in that meeting that is an expert on that child. I did in fact have something not included in my son's very first evaluation because I believed the evaluator inserted her personal prejudice into her report. I frequently ask them to reword or include certain things. I won't sign an IEP that I don't agree with or is not factually accurate. Lastly, keeping a binder will all the important evaluations/old IEP's is extremely helpful when questions arise at the meeting. This binder has my child's picture on the front because when I started going to these meetings he wasn't present. I want everyone to know and see who we are talking about. Many times some of the people present will not have met the child. I have yet to meet a school psychologist in my son's current district that has actually met him (a whole different post)I want them to remember who they are deciding for. I believe my experience with IEP process is average. I have had been at IEP's that have been adversarial and IEP's where my son was granted services that I didn't expect him to receive. Today was a good day and a good IEP meeting.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Do you know where your Turkey is?

My turkey is going into the refrigerator tonight. Here is the Betty Crocker chart for defrosting. We plan on deep frying our turkey on Wednesday night and reheating it on Thursday. I guess a lot of people do this. I have already made ahead garlic mash potatoes and have sweet potatoes boiling as we speak. I use Money Saving Mom's method.(scroll down to the bottom of the post) I decided I am kinda planner. I think holidays are stressful enough so I like to make ahead a lot of what I am going to serve. On the day of , I will be making dressing and rolls. My Hubby helps me with the cooking. He is going to be making his famous cheesecake for dessert.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Quilting Inspiration

Winter weather is upon us here near the northern border. It is wet and windy. So instead of doing all the really necessary projects for the coming holiday season, I decided to start a rag quilt. I saw the above bird flannel at JoAnn's and knew I had to make a quilt involving that fabric. The picture above is the layout of the fabrics I am using for this quilt. One thing to another and I am doing some appliqued blocks as well. Did I mention I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my house and the quilt I am working on has no intented recipient. Why can't I be inspired when I have a clean house and no responsibilities? LOL

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving Wreath

We copied this craft from Chica and Jo. This is an almost dollar store craft. The paint and 2 packs of clothes pins were from the dollar store. I purchased the wire wreath at Micheal's for under $3.oo. The Diva and Chuckles did this project cooperatively. They both did the painting.

The Diva did all the clothes pin clipping and made the heart sign. Everyone wrote their name and what they were thankful for.

Diva "The Lion"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov 14: Thankful


Yesterday after all the crazy weather we had yesterday, we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow. A facebook movement and Ali Edwards on her blog have started a daily thankful until Thanksgiving. I thought I would join in. I am thankful for all the friends and family that helped me celebrate my 38th (EEKS) Birthday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Forever Honored

Specialist Aaron Aamot came home today from Afghanistan. This is the welcome our town gave him. 3 over passes were lined with people waving flags and our downtown was lined with folks flying the flag . Thank You, Specialist Aamot for your brave sacrifice and service. You are a true American Hero.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Little Linky Love

This is some of the random blog entries that I have been enjoying in the last month.
If you haven't had a chance to check out the nester's 31 days to the best dress nest, check it out.(link to my favorite in the series)
Change your change into a gift card. Check out this blogger's idea. I AM SO GOING TO DO THIS!
Think you got mad thrift skills/looter extraordinaire. Check out Apron Thrift Girl posts on reselling, here and here.
I checked out Owlhaven's new cookbook from the library. I can't wait to try some the recipes.
There are a few projects I would like to try like this at Flea Market Style or this project at Fern Creek Cottage.
I am in dire need of some style and love the formula looks found at You Look Fab

Veteran's Day

Me - 32nd AADCOM Darmstadt, Germany
Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. - General Patton


Both I and my Husband served in the Army. We were both proud to serve our country. We were saddened by what happened at Fort Hood. There is so many that serve with honor and sacrifice and what that man did at Fort Hood was not honorable. It was an act of terrorism and at the very least murder. In a few days, SPC Aaron Aamot will be buried. He is from Custer, WA a town near mine.He died in Afghanistan on Nov 5. Tomorrow there will be a procession from the airport to my town. He was 22 years old. If that doesn't put Veteran's Day in prespective, then I don't know what does.If you want to honor a Veteran, send a prayer for all the victims and their families at Fort Hood, fly the flag, and thank a soldier for their service and sacrifice.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. - George Orwell