Pinterest Christmas

My dearest Honey is beginning to dread the words “so I saw this cool thing on Pinterest,” likely because he’s come to expect me to completely obsess be inspired to do yet another project. Miss L’s birthday party may have been one such project. And Christmas just may be another.

Before Thanksgiving, I was talking to Honey about our need to replace the 10-year-old Christmas tree. “You know,” I said, “I’m really tempted to just leave all the ornaments in the attic this year and just start fresh.” And he said, “Okay.” Which I interpreted as “go right ahead.”

Whether that was his intention or not is completely irrelevant. What is important is that I consulted him on color scheme (“If I were going to change things up, would you rather do this or this?”) and I did my best to do it on the cheap. That meant having my oldest pull anything out of the attic that worked with the new colors (silver, white and aqua, with a touch of red) and scouring Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods for inexpensive decor items I could use. Oh and of course making a few things, too.

Want to see?

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Oh Christmas Tree. Tree and many ornaments from Target (mostly the shatterproof kind since the tree is situated in the middle of the greyhound’s indoor track aka the dining room) but also some from Home Goods etc. and our existing stash. Ribbon garland from Hobby Lobby (50% off). Star from that W place. Tree skirt made by me.

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Coffee table. Candleholder thingy from Home Goods; candles from my stash.

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Dining room light fixture. Most of the ornaments from the attic. Snowflake/crystal drops from TJ Maxx. Bow ornaments from Target.

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End table in the living room. Silvered glass tree from TJ Maxx. Glitter house from Hobby Lobby, painted and glittered by me. Tiny tree from attic.

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Foyer. Holiday sign a free printable I found on Pinterest. Brush tree from Marshalls. Ornaments and garland from Target.

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Foyer light fixture. This is seriously one of my favorite touches! Paper star from Home Goods ($4!!) with stash ribbon added.

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Stair railing leading up to the living room. Stockings made by me (aqua feather wale cord from my stash + Platinum Delovely Damask from Antiquity by Michael Miller). Garland from Michaels (60% off).

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We have a sort of half wall along one side of the dining room and where the stairs come up, open to the foyer. It needed something but it couldn’t be anything that could fall off the ledge since it likely would end up broken thanks to either us or the cats. I made a really simple banner garland with more of the damask fabric and a glittery aqua ric rac (Hobby Lobby, 50% off). It’s hung with some of those removable 3M hooks with more of the Target ornament bows to hide the hooks.

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Fireplace hearth and mantel. Seasons Greetings garland, mini trees and pots we had (I freshened up the pots with some white paint). Ornament garland from Home Goods. Silvered tree and glass owl from Marshalls.

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Schrank in the kitchen. A work in progress. Wreath, stands and ornaments we already had. The “gifts” are wrapped boxes I had on hand. Glass owl from Marshalls. Banner garland made by me.

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Kitchen sink window. Mason jar we had; I just added candy canes from Target. Silver glitter snowflakes also from Target and hung with monofilament thread, suspended from monofilament thread strung on two 3M hooks. Lighted garland from the attic.

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Kitchen cabinets dressed up with ribbon (50% off at Hobby Lobby). I used tiny clothespins (Joann) to clip the Christmas cards we received to the ribbon. It took two rolls of ribbon to add it to all the tall upper cabinet doors (8 total) and we’ve just about filled them with cards.

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Tree in my studio. I’ve had it three years and this year decorated it with the items I made for L’s birthday party. The tree skirt is my design (created for the FreeSpirit booth at Quilt Market with different fabric).

We had a few friends over for a casual open house, which of course meant I did a little cooking:

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Tablecloth from Home Goods. Table runner made by me with a different colorway of the damask fabric. Centerpiece put together with silver tray and candles we had (I Mod Podged glitter on the pillar) and votive holders from Target. You can see more of the food on Flickr, if you’re interested.

Gratitude 2009

I’m bringing back Thankful for 30 this year. You can read all about it here.

My MacBook is still at “the spa,” but I’ll add a Mr. Linky as soon as I can for those who want to participate. (blogging from my iPhone has challenges.)

ETA: My MacBook is home! I feel like I’m back in touch with the world at large again, although I’m still trying to work out the kinks that sprouted from replacing the hard drive. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

You’re welcome to sign up with the Mr. Linky widget if you’re taking part in this year’s Thankful for 30. Feel free to grab the little graphic, too.

1. Sunny Fall days and more in the forecast.
2. Finding the stash of checks after I ran out.
3. Bringing home my MacBook with its shiny new hard drive.

Gobble Gobble

Our Thanksgiving this year will be one unlike any other my daughter has experienced in her short life.

I’m cooking.

Now, for most of my adult life, I’ve cooked and served Thanksgiving dinner for our family. There were a few years pre-kids and after the boys were born that we had dinner at this or that grandparent’s home but those mostly ended after we moved to Florida 12-plus years ago.

I love making big dinners, even if it’s just for the four (now five) of us. During our law school years, we’d invite other students who wouldn’t be traveling for the holiday. It was so much fun and we have a lot of great memories from those occasions.

That all changed when Miss L arrived on the scene a month before Thanksgiving 2004. Honey knew I’d have my hands full with caring for a newborn and he didn’t want me to overdo it just weeks after having my third C-section. He insisted we eat Thanksgiving dinner out. At a restaurant.

And it was wonderful. A full buffet of goodies, no dishes to clean, no hot pans to juggle, no leftovers to tempt me into overeating for days after. We enjoyed it so much, in fact, that we decided it would be a new family tradition — which would be continuing this year had the restaurant we’d agreed was perfect not turned into a special events facility. sigh

Not that it would have mattered this year, since we made plans to spend Thanksgiving with my folks at their home in South Carolina. Only … their plans changed because of my stepmom’s health and we found ourselves struggling to find a replacement dinner spot. It took a little work, but I convinced Honey that it would be no big deal for me to cook dinner this year. I had to promise that I wouldn’t go overboard, so no appetizers and only two desserts (and one of those is — gasp! — Sara Lee). Oh, and I have to make his favorite green bean casserole (I won’t tell you what I call it but it includes the word ‘slimy’).

Best of all, I have an excuse to make Aunt Marlene’s famous Sweet Potato Casserole. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my family cookbook opens to that page. It’s as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey and dressing (and I make it every year around this time, along with a pan of Granny’s dressing because it’s just not November without them both). Try it; you’ll be just as addicted as the five of us.

Aunt Marlene’s Sweet Potato Casserole
1/3 cup milk
1 cup sugar
3 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs, beaten
Mix all ingredients and pour into a 9″x12″ baking dish. Then mix ingredients for topping and put on top of casserole. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
Topping
1 cup brown sugar, packed (I like dark brown sugar but that’s my personal preference)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup flour
Mix flour and sugar. Spread over potato mixture. Sprinkle pecans over flour and sugar mixture. Pour melted butter or margarine over all.

Thankful: My seam ripper. Grrrr.

In Pictures

I’m a huge fan of giving photos and photo-related presents at Christmas, especially to family members. My parents love to tell me how they need absolutely nothing and not to spend a dime — not the best way to plan my gift list.

My oldest is a senior in high school this year, so I’ll definitely be doing some nice, big prints to give all four sets of grandparents this year. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, so it’s OK to not have his siblings in the picture. I hope. The storyboard up there is likely what I’ll be framing to give to them, although I’m not 100 percent certain if those are the pictures (and text) I’ll be using. Pink Ink Studios has some great storyboard templates for sale (although you need to be comfortable with Adobe Photoshop and layers to use them), if you want to make some of your own. I like to get mine printed at either MPix or Scrapbook Pictures. To save a little money, I try to make sure I use standard sizes so I can buy a ready-made frame and mat instead of having to spring for custom framing (it’s also a great timesaver, if you are in a hurry).

I love combining cute with useful, so photo calendars are another favorite gift on my list. There are tons of services available that let you plug your photos into ready-made calendars (Snapfish, Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, FedEx Office/fka Kinkos, Zazzle). Or you can buy a digital scrapbooking kit that will let you do the same thing. I prefer the kits, because you have more control over the final product. I’m a huge fan of the calendar kits from Shabby Miss Jenn Designs and the Shabby Princess. I’ve bought from both sites and been delighted with the final product every time. Probably my favorites are the CD-case calendars. They’re compact in size and so useful, sure to be a hit.

Continue reading “In Pictures”

Multiplicity

One of the requests I’ve had regarding the Crafty Christmas Countdown is for gifts that can be made in bulk. Boy, can I relate to that one! With so many people on my list, I find it important to have one or two gifts I can make lots of, especially if it’s something that works for either gender.

Probably my all-time, No. 1 gift I make in bulk is food. Cookies, breads and the like are always a hit. And if you have freezer space, you can start making them up to six months ahead of time (assuming you can stand to heat up your kitchen during the summer).

My friend Katie has a great tutorial for creating patchwork fabric bookmarks. They’re probably not enough to give as a solo gift (better for stockings and maybe as gift toppers for a little something extra) but worth making a stack to have ready for giving.

I think scarves are always handy (depending on where you live, of course) which makes them great for gifts to crank out in multiples. I don’t crochet but I’m still tempted to try one of these Crocheted Ribbon Scarves from The Caffeinated Crafter. This Patchwork Scarf tutorial from the Sew, Mama, Sew blog is designed for kids but I bet it’s fairly easy to modify for grown ups. Or make this Scrap Scarf from JavaJem.

One of the gifts I’ll be making this year will be reusable grocery bags. I’ve made the switch myself and bought about 15 bags (and another dozen for my folks) but really wish I had made them now that I’ve seen all the great tutorials out there. These would be great for using up old (or thrifted) bed linens or some clearance fabric that was too good of a deal to pass up. Plus, they’re such a handy gift that can be used over and over again. Check out these great bag-making tutorials: