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.