Friday, December 30, 2011

Out with the Old . . .

Redecorating is a bittersweet experience at our house---bitter for my husband, and sweet for me.  For Christmas this year, he gave me a paintbrush in my stocking with a little note attached that said the brush came with "one paint boy."  I know this was a true gift of love because as much as I hate painting, he hates it more.  I swallow my aversion laying on the latex because I love the end result.  Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome, however, likes things the way they are---bless his heart.  So when I tell him that I want to repaint a room, he looks at me with that tilted-head-scrunched-brow-Elvis-arched-lip look.  "But why do you want to paint that room?  I think it looks fine.  Besides, didn't we JUST redo that room five years ago?"  Five years ago?  FIVE years ago?  Doesn't he know that five years is an eternity?  Five years ago, we had 2 fewer children.  Five years ago I fit in single digit jeans.  Five years ago our bedroom looked great in "cornflower" yellow.  But a lot can change in five years.  So this week, it is out with the old, and in with the new.  And by new I mean "seahawk" by Kwal.  But before I reveal the look for 2012, I've decided that it is only fitting that I pay homage to those cornflower walls that served us so well for so long (or so briefly, depending on who you ask).

Here is our bedroom all dressed up for Christmas.  I have an addiction to all cascading greenery.  Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome thinks it looks like a rogue mustache, but he indulges me anyway.

Rather than hanging our stockings on the mantle with the kids' stockings, I thought it would be fun to hang our socks on our headboard.  Besides, it was a great reminder for my hubby to see every day . . .

And even though I would have loved to have worked a pear tree into the decor as an homage to the 1st day of Christmas, I settled with a pear in a wreath.  Sorry, no partridges this year. 

I really did love this look for the past several years, but I'm just as excited with the new scheme.  Stay tuned for the reveal!  Happy New Year's Eve!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

For the coming month, we are going to highlight any books that seem "New Years-ey" to us. Do you like that term? I do.

So do you know how most people watched "Supersize Me" and got angry and grossed out and appalled at the amazing McDonald's food machine?

Well, I felt those things too. However, the feeling of "I want a McD's Hashbrown" was just stronger.

This book was a different experience: 

I NEVER NEVER NEVER recommend diet books to ANYONE. I have zero interest in them. But Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food; An Eater's Manifesto," is not a 'diet' book. It is a sensible look at what we eat, and how we can improve it. You will find yourself being fascinated by the origins of margarine. Seriously. And although I can blame Mr. Pollan for the inordinate amount of guilt I felt when I chucked a box of Imperial into my cart this year (Butter just wasn't in the August budget), I love his writing too much to give it up. And as a general rule, it's not a book that will make you feel guilty- it just helps you to understand why simple, REAL food is best for you and your family. Now I just need to figure out how to make simple, REAL food cupcakes taste as good as these ones...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

You know how everybody has some cookie they HAVE to make at the holidays? I have like 7 I have accrued over the years, but among them is this amazing, moist, cakey, pumpkin spicey goodness. It's a staple here, and if you try it, I think it will become a staple for you too.  Heaven knows we all need one more thing to do for the holidays, right?

Pumpkin Cookies

1 C Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1 C Canned Pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 C Flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt

Cream sugars and butter. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture. Mix just til combined. drop spoonfuls onto a non-greased cookie sheet. Cook at 350 for 8-10 minutes. SERIOUSLY. If you overcook these, they turn into little rubber plate thingys. Not good.


Microwave 1/2 stick butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar until melted together. Add 1/4 c milk and a tsp vanilla, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups or so of Powdered Sugar, beat it all up, and spread over cookies. Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Book Pick of the Day: Christmas in the Trenches

Last night, I gathered my little boys and we read Christmas in the Trenches--the story of German and British soldiers in WWI singing carols to each other across the battlefield, and eventually calling a truce for the night so that they could celebrate the Savior's birth together.  If only for one night, these young men were friends. This story jabs me in the softest place in my heart--the one that is usually saved for newborn babies and tea sets; I had a lump in my throat for the entire book. But then my 10 year-old turned to me and, with his big brown innocent eyes, asked, "Mom, why does war have to tear our world apart?"  And that is when mom fell apart.  I didn't have a reasonable response for him because war is rarely reasonable.  However, we hugged and marveled at the spirit of Christmas that can make hard things soft, that can make battlefields quiet, and that can make enemies friends.  It is a beautiful truth wrapped in a beautiful book.  Good reads to you all . . .

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Homemade Ornaments

Merry Flu Season! I am feeling a bit under the weather, and by 'Bit' I mean something much, much more. But I thought, hey, I am up waiting for a DVD to burn for my Christmas lesson in Church tomorrow, so why not show off my latest ornaments?

***Update- feeling so much better :) ***

My craft group knows that if I am even going to bother bringing a craft with me to craft night, nine times out of ten, I am wrapping something in Jute with Elmer's glue. I know, not too classy, skilled, or original, but the budget is tight, and I got a few rolls of jute at Target's one spot this year, so cut me a break. For this little baby, I just started at the top with elmer's, wrapped the jute around, and repeated. Then I threw a little ripped muslin on top for a bow. Not hard, done in like 5 minutes, and pretty darn cute. So if your tree is looking a little too shiny and needs an earthy element, I recommend my "Craft night special." :)

You may be noticing the foil star behind the jute ornament- It was our family night this week, and I have to say, the easiest throw- together craft project ever! We read this story: The Christmas Tree
and followed the directions at the end for making ornaments. Trust me, this makes kids SO happy, and I can almost guarantee you have spare cardboard, foil, and glue laying around.

Alright, just one more view of the ornaments along with my Muslin Scrap or "Shower Puff" ornament from last week.  I hope you are feeling better than I am :) Merry Christmas!

Linked up to Skip to my Lou, Mod Vintage Life, It's Overflowing, & These Awesome Parties

Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reindeer Cookies

I admit it.  I've totally blown it with my 4-year-old.  By now I had my oldest reading and reciting Shakespeare.  With little Scoot, we are just happy if he has clean underwear on.  He is a smart boy with a mercurial spirit and the fine motor skills of a heart surgeon.  However, Scoot still doesn't know the difference between a letter and a stop sign.  I keep telling myself that if he would just watch more Sesame Street or Barney, we wouldn't be in this pickle.  The slacker.

But while Scoot may not be a literary wunderkind, he has still managed to secure rock star status at preschool by upping the ante on snack days.  Most kids bring crackers and cheese when it is their turn for snacks.  But not Scoot.  He may not be able to write his name, but boy can that kid bring a mean preschool snack!  Yesterday we sent a reindeer-themed snack array, including peanut butter cookie reindeer, reindeer food (crinkle-cut carrots), and snow (air-popped popcorn w/butter and salt).  Cue applause: the snacks were a huge hit.  The teacher personally came out to my minivan to fawn over our antlered creations.  Can you spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S?  My little Scoot can't, but I'm confident that one day, he too, will join the ranks of illustrious readers and writers.  Until then, at least he has his snack fame to get him through.

Happy holidays, and happy cooking!

Reindeer Cookies
makes approximately 18 reindeer
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
red and brown M&Ms

Cream butter and sugar.  Add peanut butter, egg, vanilla, and milk.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Shape into golf-ball-sized mounds and place on a greased cookie sheet.  Pinch the lower half of the dough ball so that it makes a lightbulb shape.  Press down slightly with your palm so that the dough is about 1/4 of an inch thick.  The dough should now look like a big and flat lightbulb.  Adjust the shape of the cookie so that the edges are even and smooth.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Don't overbake!  While the cookies are hot out of the oven, press two brown M&Ms into their centers for the eyes, and a red M&M into the "snouts" of the cookie for the nose.  Press two pretzels into the top of the cookie and gently squeeze the cookie so that the dough molds around the pretzel to hold it in place.  And voila!  Instant preschool stardom!  Serve with carrots and popcorn for full effect.

Linked up to Funky Junk Interiors   The Lovely Cupboard, and these awesome parties
Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Book Pick of the Day: Christmas Day in the Morning

One of life's greatest mysteries to me is this:  Why is the man I married so hard to shop for?  My husband assures me that this is not the case, as he would be happy to receive socks and drill bits for any and every holiday.  But that is exactly my point.  BO-RING.  Just writing "socks and drill bits" makes me want to take a nap.  When I give a gift, I want it to be exciting and unexpected and blissfully impractical.  This is easy when it comes to women.  We are born loving all things blissfully impractical, like jewelry, high-heeled shoes, and Barbie Dream Houses.  But my husband . . . well, he is another story. 

Just ask Pearl S. Buck.  I have a feeling she had grappled with a similar dilemma when she wrote Christmas Day in the Morning over 50 years ago.  In this story, a young farm boy struggles over what to give his strict, chore-wielding father for Christmas.  In the end, the boy bypasses the standard necktie option and gives his father a gift that is exciting, unexpected, AND blissful.  And here comes the shocker:  his gift is a practical one, too.  Blast.  Maybe Pearl Buck was doing more than just writing a timeless classic that illustrates the true meaning of Christmas when she took this story on.  Maybe she was also trying to teach gift-givers like me a lesson---that the best kind of gift isn't necessarily practical or impractical, but one that tells your loved one that you were thinking of them.

I wish you all a Christmas full of inspiring stories like this one and oodles of heartfelt gifts.  As for me, I'm off to buy some drill bits and socks.  Who knows, maybe I'll stop by the car wash to give my husband's car a bath and a good vacuum while I'm at it.  When he sees the car AND the Home Depot bag, he just might think that this is the best Christmas he ever had . . .

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Home Tour 2011: Cheryl's House

Welcome To Cheryl's Holiday Home

My amazing Mother-In-Law is a smart, driven, energetic person. Unfortunately for her husband (B) and last son at home (T), that drive gets concentrated on Christmas decorating for a few crazy days every November. But I think when you see the pictures (Which still don't do the house justice,) you will agree with me that it is totally worth the work. (Even if B and T don't agree :) )

I am so excited for you to come in and see this tree!

Entry Tree
I love the color scheme in here: deep, rich gold and amethyst. It goes beautifully with the formal dining room; see lower in the post...

Family Room

The Candy Tree
I like to think of this as the kids' tree. It's so playful.

Imagine you are a toddler looking at this tree: this is what you'd see.  

Have you ever seen a happier looking tree?

Kitchen Dining

The table is always set and gorgeous. We actually had to "Un-set" the table this week to eat a less formal meal :)

No nook or cranny goes undecorated.
What countertop is complete without a tree?
A Nod to a Texas Heritage

Formal Dining Room
Beautiful Nativity
Three Wise Men

 A perfect piano room to go play a Christmas Carol.

Eight Million Smaller Trees All Over The House...

We actually Counted one year, and I think it came out to 19 Christmas trees if I am not mistaken...

So there you have it: a home that is gorgeous all year long, but really *Sparkles* this time of year. 
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Mother-In-Law for putting up with YEARS of complaints and teasing from the men who see no point in any of this, because the women in this family know that it is worth it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Home Tour 2011: Erika's House

Welcome to Erika's Holiday Home 2011

 This year, she's used lyrics from "Joy to The World" throughout her home, beginning with the front door.

Welcome to the library. Here she's taken silhouettes of our favorite authors and used them to trim a beautiful chandelier. Here you can see Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and Charlotte Bronte is in the picture above this one. 
*She will be posting on this project soon*

 Here's a fun tip: She used an old Ideals Christmas book, and cut out the pictures to fill picture frames around the house. Notice them below in the Living Room pictures as well.

The Pub sign tells you you are headed for the Kitchen...

 Dressed up chandelier and Vintage Santa Plaques on the dining chairs...

 Through the dining room to the Family Room...

I can't tell you how much this picture captures the feeling in this home, and if you could look out of it, you would oversee an entire valley and silver lake. It's an incomparable view.


 In the Living Room, Nativity art fills the tables and picture frames.

Upstairs, a small village with vintage figurines keeps the Family Room playful

 I wish you could each walk through this lovely home and feel the warmth of Christmas that is always present. I only wish I could be there to enjoy it too. I guess we will all just have to settle for this blog. 


P.S. Hop on over HERE to see Cheryl's Holiday Home

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