Monday, December 30, 2013

My tree and decorations are still up and I'm not sure when I'll take them down.  After putting so much effort into decorating and enjoying them around my home, I'm not quite ready to take them down.  I've given myself permission to stop worrying to much about being on a decorating time table and am just enjoying them this year.

I have gone through my Christmas 2013 folder to make sure I have all my shopping receipts, card and present lists.  I updated all my new additions to my card spreadsheet so I know that I'm all ready for next year.

I'm also jotting down a few ideas for gifts next year.  Sometimes when I give a gift I think of something that would go well with it, or something along the same theme that I would like to do next year.  If I don't write it down now, it will be long forgotten by February, much less next Christmas.

We are off to see more friends tonight!  Hope all of you are relaxing and enjoying time together as we head into the new year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Photo: Home is not just a place with walls and paint. It's the place where you live and laugh with those you love. Each home you live in can hold a special place in your heart. I was honored to paint this house portrait that was given as a special gift. To me, home portraits can bring as much emotion and as many memories as traditional portraits of loved ones. I really enjoyed painting this home!

This is one of the projects that I painted and delivered right before Christmas.  This was a very special, surprise gift that I was commissioned to paint.  I love being a small part of those special moments in others' lives and making items that will stay with them.

I am also trying to get motivated to clean up from Christmas 2013.  I'm planning to update my address sheet for my Christmas cards and get my receipts together.  Hopefully I will get motivated soon!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and is getting ready for a wonderful New Year!!!

I have new painting info. to share, crafts to make all year round and ways to help you get organized for next year. 

Thanks for checking in with me during the Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I hope that you are enjoying the lights of Christmas, the warmth of hearth and hugs, the smells and tastes of wonderful food, and that your hearts are filled with the joy of Christmas.

We are continuing our family and friends rounds.  We are blessed to get to spend time with so many this year.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thanks to my daughter my presents are mostly wrapped and under the tree, the last of the Christmas cards have finally gone out and I'm making the last of the homemade presents.  I have to go Monday to get the rest of the gift cards, but I might just be approaching the finish line.  I better be, since we're running out of time.  I will post finished project pictures of my snowflake ornaments as soon as they finish drying. 

Hope everyone is doing well and isn't feeling too overwhelmed!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Even with all the best planning and trying, I still feel behind.  Maybe it's because Thanksgiving fell so late this year, so it seems like I was just eating turkey and am now supposed to have my shopping finished.  Maybe it's because we've had a lot of new activities and events to attend than usual.

Either way, I am not quite finished with Christmas cards or buying presents.  Most everything is done, but gift cards have to be purchased, gifts have to be wrapped and the last set of cards addressed and mailed.  Somehow it will all get done.

I am thankful that I tried to be more organized this year, because I would never have gotten this much done if I hadn't been prepared.  Hopefully I've learned even more lessons for next year.

So be kind to yourself, don't compare yourself to others who seem to have it all together, because in reality they really don't.

A week to go, and we will get it done. And what doesn't get done will wait....  :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Christmas party this past weekend went very well.  The weather refused to cooperate (cold, rainy, etc.) which caused us to alter our plans, but we managed rather well.  We had planned a large campfire with smores and reindeer games for the kids, but had to snuggle up the kids in the living room with movies, homemade cocoa and snacks.  They were not upset with the change. :)

We planned our get together for mid afternoon so that everyone could do Christmas shopping, basketball, or other activities in the morning and still get to their other Christmas parties that night.  We billed it as a "stress free" stop along the way.  Everyone of all ages had a great time.

We did a few "reindeer games", which included in the carrot nose on the snowman and Christmas tree ring toss and a dance party for the kids.  Lots of friendship and laughter.  It's stressful getting everything together, but always fun when everyone gets here.

I have tons of candles and ornaments flying out the door, so I must go paint again. :)

Hope everyone is gearing up for Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thanksgiving was two weeks ago and Christmas is less than 2 weeks away.  It's a mad sprint to the finish!

Here are some of the Christmas and winter candles I've been working on:

It's that busy time of the year, but it's also my favorite time of the year!

We are getting ready for our Christmas party this weekend too.  I love to cook, but had to realize that there's just not time for everything right now so we are keeping the menu super simple.  I'm blessed with other friends who are great cooks, so we are doing the main dish and everyone else is bringing the sides and helping with desserts.  No one minds as long as one person doesn't have to do all the work.  I will share more pictures soon!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

There's a lot to catch up on!  I was out of town this past weekend, so my blogging is behind. 

First of all, let me pass along that making lists by store and putting them on my phone has been a lifesaver.  If you're like me, you don't have a large chunk of time to do all your shopping.  I have to break it up into quick trips here and there.  Knowing that I have 30-40 minutes to run into a store and already have my list with me has been very helpful this week.  I've been trying to work, shop, plan for our Christmas party, and take care of all my commission work so anything that saves time is awesome.

Almost all the shopping is done.  Having all my lists in one place (the awesome Christmas folder) made a world of difference. 

Next week I will make all the edible Christmas presents and my daughter and I will deliver them.  Recipes and info. will come next week!

And finally, here are lots of pictures of my glass painted ornaments on my tree.  I think most of them are sold, but I will probably keep whatever is left and enjoy them on my tree (or make more for myself!)  :)

Hope all your plans and preparations are coming together.  It's hard to believe Christmas is 2 weeks away.  I still have to work on my Christmas cards, but hopefully that will get done soon!

Friday, December 6, 2013

We're getting closer, can you feel it?  That mixture of how will it all get done mingled with the glory and wonder of it all and the smiles and laughter of little ones who just can't wait. 

I will post more updates, suggestions, and photos very soon.  But tonight I'm going to turn off all the lights except for the Christmas lights and sit and enjoy the wonder of it all.  I hope you'll take a few minutes between now and Christmas and do the same....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If you're like me, you make a ton of lists this time of year.  I've been doing that and keeping them in my Christmas folder (see earlier posts) and that has helped tremendously. 

However, I still have a lot of shopping to do, so I took the gift list and decided where I plan to purchase them.  Then, I made separate lists on my phone by store of everything I need.  Now when I have a few minutes and need to run do a little shopping, I know exactly what I need to get at each store.  I'm excited about trying this - I will let you know soon how it works!

Monday, December 2, 2013

23 Days

Our house is not a huge place by any standards, but I have always had a "Christmas closet" designated just for special occasion items, Christmas tins, breakables and other goodies.  I always keep extra generic gifts in this closet too.  Even with the best laid plans I will forget a little something for someone, or will have an unexpected visitor bringing gifts.  I stash up on candles, hand towels, candy dishes, etc. when they are on sale and keep them available (with extra bags to quickly put them in) and very handy.

If you have a small nook, part of closet or shelf to keep a few extra last minute gifts, I highly suggest doing it.  It makes life so much easier this time of year and makes up for forgetfulness!  Just don't forget to restock it once you use up your gifts.

23 days to go.....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

24 days

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We ate too much and enjoyed time with family and friends.  We are very blessed.

This year I am extra fortunate to have my daughter decide to jump in and take over some ofthe decorating duties. She was ready to decorate the whole house and did a spectular job. Of course I did help a little... :-)

Tomorrow I will share more about my Christmas closet and how much it helps every year.

24 days to go......

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving is upon us and Christmas is coming so quickly.  I hope that you have made out all your Christmas card lists and gift lists and have started a little shopping, and/or crafting.

I'm hoping to order my Christmas cards this week and do a lot of my shopping (mostly online).  I'm not a big shopper, so I avoid the Black Friday sales like the plague, but I will shop online that day.  I'm working on some neat gift bag/basket ideas that will share as soon as they are assembled.

I've also realized that keeping a steady supply of refrigerated cookie dough is essential.  We've already had several events pop up on us that require bringing a snack or a dessert.  Having those ready to simply pop in the oven has been a lifesaver!

By the way, here's a sample of what part of my Thanksgiving mantel looks like this year.  I will share more pictures once I start decorating for Christmas.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This year we are trying a radical new experiment.  It's something no one in our family is used to, but we're learning.  We are saying "no" to a few extra activities this year.

Saying no is difficult under regular circumstances.  But around holiday time when so many special, once a year activities come up (especially for our daughter) we always try to do them all.  Then we wind up frazzled, exhausted, snapping at each other and ready for the rush to be over.

So this weekend, we sat down as a family and discussed the seemingly endless list of places to be and things to do.  We narrowed them down to a few things that we all want to do, and are going to let the rest go.  It's not going to be easy, but it has to happen.  Our daughter won't be living at home with us forever and we have to make time to enjoy our family now.

Don't forget that you don't have to do everything and be everything all the time.  We're refocusing this year on what's important, and I'm excited about the change.

33 days to go....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

35 Days

Very happy with the way my glass ornaments turned out! The glass paint is transparent so they will look great with the Christmas lights on the tree. I may give some as gifts, sell a few, or keep a few to put on my tree. :-)
35 days to go...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

36 days to go..... It seems that once Halloween is over, we just fly right through Thanksgiving and onto Christmas.  I have been busy painting a new line of glass ornaments that I will share tomorrow once they have completely dried and baked in the oven.  I love these new ornaments and would like to see what others' opinions are.

I also received my first shipment of gifts that I ordered earlier in the month.  It feels great to at least start on my buying list.  I can't promise that I won't be a last minute shopper for some items, but at least I won't be shopping for everything at one time.

I'm hoping to head to Bath and Body Works for hand sanitizers, lotions and other goodies for small gifts and stockings.  I have some ideas on gift baskets too that I will share once they are put together.

I you have any awesome time saving, creative ideas to share, feel free! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Because time is so scarce the closer we get to Christmas, I'm trying to start carving out time now for my daughter to have extra friend time activities.  It's harder to do with travel schedules and family activities when December rolls around. 

Besides the usual sleepovers and movie watching this year, my daughter decided to have crafting time with her friends to make Christmas presents.  It's so much fun to see them enjoying making things for others.  I also tried a new recipe out on them making cinnamon rolls from crescent rolls.  Oh my stars, were they delicious!  I will definitely make this again for sleepovers and our holiday parties.  I found the recipe on pinterest - here's the link to the original site:

I'm glad the girls were my taste testers yesterday and that they got to spend extra time together.  Good food, warmth and friendship.  What a great start to the holidays!

I also bought my first presents yesterday.  I love shopping online and am excited that I haven't waited until the last minute to start shopping this year!

39 days to go......

Thursday, November 14, 2013

41 Days

I love to paint on any surface, and a few years ago I discovered how much I enjoy painting glass.  I found a fabulous set of French glass paints from Cheap Joes that I love.  I just finished a new Christmas candy dish and hope to have new ornaments finished soon. 

I hope you're crafting and making something special for those you love. Those are the best gifts.

41 days to go....

Monday, November 11, 2013

Picked up more stamps, more wrapping paper and bags (I have some strange fear of running out), painted glass pieces for Christmas, and I am hoping to try my hand at crocheting necklaces and bracelets.  I will share step by step how it goes and photos if all goes well. :)

Now is the time to start pinpointing those Christmas gifts if you haven't already (I'm also talking to myself at this point).  With the card writing, decorating and taking care of everyone else, it will be a mad dash if you don't start soon.  Just your friendly reminder....

44 days to go....

Friday, November 8, 2013

We are hoping to plan a fun get together with our friends this year.  We try every year; some holidays we succeed and others we don't.  I am also working on lots of ideas for our "reindeer games" this year and lots of crafts to make for teacher gifts. I love looking at pinterest when planning a get together or giving gifts for those ideas to make things extra special.

If you would like to follow my holiday ideas board (which includes lots of holidays - not just Christmas) here's the link:

I've just started a new board for kid friendly Christmas party ideas.  If you'd like to follow it too, here's the link:

I'm sure I will continue to add a lot of ideas to these very soon!

47 days......

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

49 Days

Finished my first acrylic on watercolor paper snow and night scene this evening.  That's a long combination!  It was fun to experiment with the paints on a new surface to see how well they worked.  It's always nice to continue to challenge yourself to try to new ideas.

I haven't decided if this one will be a Christmas gift or go on the website.  Decisions, decisions....

Also working on more snowflake gifts and ideas for candles.

Don't forget to finish up your list of addresses and keep buying those stamps.  It's almost time to get those cards ready!

49 days to go.....

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

50 days until Christmas.....  Try not to panic yet.  Remember to breathe in and out.  That's what I'm doing too.  It's coming so quickly.

I've been making more snowflake ornaments for gifts, working on a painting, got more wrapping paper (I have this irrational fear that I will never have enough), and am working to get everything in order to start shopping this weekend.  I hope to do some online shopping and start getting items together for shoeboxes. 

The season is upon us!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Today I'm starting a new painting.  It will be my first night, winter scene painted in acrylics.  It will either be a great success or flaming disaster.  But life is all about trying new ideas and projects.  We will never know what we are capable of until we try.

I love our family's Christmas traditions, but I am looking to add new ones this year.  I would like to add a holiday movie marathon and some other fun activities to the list.  As we try out our "new" ideas, I will pass along how well (or not well) they go.  If you have any new ideas that you are trying this year, please comment and let me know.

I will pass along how my new painting project turns out too....

51 days....

Sunday, November 3, 2013

One of the most important things that I strive to remember during the holidays is just how blessed we are.  It's easy to get caught up in all the items that have to be purchased and it can feel that we can never do or buy enough for those we love.

A while back I started selling limited edition prints of two of my paintings.  I promote them mainly during the holidays, because I donate a portion of all the sales of these prints to our local food pantry.  They do such amazing work and there are so many in need, that it seemed like an obvious choice.  I love getting to pass along the blessings from others to those who need them so desperately.

These prints are $35 each and there will only be 100 of each sold.  Once they are gone, I will move on to new paintings and prints.

If you are interested in more details about these prints (Anderson Barn in Winter and Christmas at the Country Store) or how you can help your local food pantries, you can email

Saturday, November 2, 2013

53 Days....

With all the busyness of life, it's easy to get caught up in the details of the holidays.  Trying to have the perfectly decorated home, perfect Christmas card, and most delectable food can be exhausting and cause us to dread the holidays instead of cherish them.

I try to read the devotions from this website daily, but especially during Advent.  It's and it has wonderful daily devotions.  I make myself stop and take the time during the holidays to read and contemplate the scripture readings before going back out into the world.

So, I hope that you and I will take the time to refocus on what's important during the holidays and every day. 

53 days to go....

Friday, November 1, 2013

54 Days

Halloween was tons of fun for our whole family this year.  We got to spend extra time with family and friends and that's what made it fun and special.  We are working very hard to see those that we love a little more often, even if it doesn't involve a holiday.

I haven't gotten to paint and craft nearly as much lately, and I must work to make up for lost time.  I have so many ideas running around in my head that need to be made. 

One of the most important things I do is keep a little sketchbook with me that fits in my purse.  During the rest of the year, I sketch out ideas or write out anything that I am thinking of or need to do.  During the Christmas season it also multitasks as a to do list, present ideas, or anything else I need to jot down to keep me sane.

If you don't have a small notebook to keep with you, now is the time to buy one.  They are very cheap and I promise they will save you headaches later when you try to remember which store had a certain item, what size shoe someone wears, and what you need to pick up from the grocery store.

It's hard to believe there are only 54 days left.....

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

56 Days and 1 Day until Halloween

As promised, here are a few of the decorating pieces around our house for fall and Halloween.

As you can tell, I love painting on any surface.  Fortunately, so does my daughter and we really enjoy being creative and working together.  Several items are available for sale (if I don't decide to keep them :) ) on my website

We will enjoy celebrating Halloween tomorrow and then double our efforts towards Christmas.

56 days to go....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's almost the end of October... how did that happen?!?  We are gearing up for the Halloween festivities and excitement, but I secretly look forward to November 1st every year.  I enjoy Halloween, but it's not my favorite holiday and I get tired of hearing about it by the time it gets here.

Schedules are getting crazier by the day, so I am hoping to pick up the last of my supplies, and start ordering Christmas presents this weekend.  It will make me feel much better to have a few things done. 

My goal tomorrow is to post lots of pictures of our decorating activities for fall around the house and pass along lots of last minute decorating ideas.  Then, I will add more Christmas ideas too.

57 days to go.....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

59 Days

This weekend has been incredibly crazy, but awesome.  Ran my first trail run/5K, we went to costume and other parties, and trunk or treat at our church.  Halloween is almost here, and we're ready to celebrate. 

But with only 59 days until Christmas we realize that we have to get to work to make the fun activities happen for the holidays too.  So, we are working on our schedules and trying to schedule in fun.  Fun activities like riding to look at Christmas lights, hosting a Christmas party with lots of family and friends, etc.  It sounds strange to schedule Christmas parties before Halloween arrives, but everyone's weekends fill up so quickly that it's now or never.

So, while planning all the things you have to do, don't forget to schedule the fun!

59 days to go.....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

62 Days

I don't sit still very well, so I have to have some sort of quick, crafty project nearby at all times to help me be still for a while.  Crocheting snowflake ornaments to give as Christmas presents is a perfect solution because they're quick, small and portable projects that I can work on just about anywhere (even the car line at school).

I look through a variety of crochet books for ideas, but I mainly use motif patterns and resize them for snowflake patterns.  I use a smaller hook and crochet thread to give that delicate, lacy look.

When I finish crocheting ornaments, I try to make sure I stiffen them so they will hang properly on the tree.  There are a variety of suggestions and methods, but here's what works for me.

First, I take a large piece of cardboard and cover it with wax paper.  Then I take my ornaments and spread them out and shape and pin them in place.  I take a small paper cup and mix 3 parts glue to one part water.  ** Note:  make sure you use glue, NOT school glue.  You need something that doesn't break down as soon as it's mixed with water.** I use old, cheap paint brushes, usually the plastic brushes in the kits from Wal-Mart work very well, dip them in the paint and brush them on.  I try to allow them to dry for a full day before turning them over and doing the other side.  Then I loop my crochet thread through to make an ornament hanger.

Here's what they look like when on the cardboard.  I haven't added the glue yet, but I will tomorrow.  I will take another picture once the tree is up to show how well they work on the tree.  These make great Christmas presents! Very excited to have a few projects done!

62 days to go..... 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The air is definitely getting colder and the weather is blustery today.  I think that I could easily hibernate during the coldest months of the years and paint, craft and cook the time away.  We used our indoor time today to test out a new sugar cookie recipe.  We made Halloween cookies this time, but were hoping this would be our new recipe for our cut-out Christmas cookies.  Here are our results:

Now we are not professionals at icing cookies, but they turned out pretty well. The recipe made cookies that weren't as sweet as the usual sugar cookies, and were much softer, almost like a shortbread.  So, we're enjoying these cookies, but I don't think it will be our favorite Christmas cookie cut out recipe.  Better to know this now than in December when I'm scrambling to make cookies as presents.

I've been crocheting a few presents today while waiting in the car line to pick up my daughter from school.  Tomorrow I will share pictures and how I stiffen the ornaments I made so they will hang properly on the Christmas tree.

63 days to go... time is flying by....

Monday, October 21, 2013

We all have those special dishes, snacks, etc. that make us think of the holidays.  One of those in our house is party mix.  So a couple of years ago we decided that we didn't want to wait for a once a year feasting of this delicious snack.  Now as soon as the weather turns cool, we make and dive into those batches.  I think while it's important to have certain holiday elements that only occur during that time to keep them special, it's also important to celebrate a little as much as possible.

So here's today's deliciousness.....

Tomorrow, my daughter and I are trying out a new sugar cookie recipe to see if it will be a holiday keeper.  I'll share the recipe and a picture of our cookies if all goes well.

65 days to go.....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

66 Days

Can you believe it's the 20th of October already?  We are putting together costumes and doing last minute preparations for Halloween.  I haven't forgotten about the other upcoming holidays though.  My daughter and I are making plans to get items for our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (they ship out mid-November for those you who participate).  We love getting those small, but important items to send to a child in a far away location.  It reminds us that we are all connected and can all help each other.

We are figuring out which Christmas cookies we are going to bake this year too.  I'm hoping we can have a prep day of putting the dough together and freezing it so that we can bake our goodies whenever we like.

We are getting ready for yet another busy week.  New updates on projects and pictures are coming this week too!

Thanks to all of you who are checking in with me.  I appreciate it!

66 days to go....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

69 Days

I've been busy painting lots of candles for the holidays and getting my first orders finished.  Here's a sampling of what I've been working on.

69 days to go.....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

71 Days

I personally think that Thanksgiving is the most underrated holiday.  Because of its' proximity to Halloween and Christmas, it's the skipped over holiday.  But what better time to be mindful of your many blessings, spend time with family and friends and stop to breathe.  Also, there's lots of food to consume and no presents to open or candy to give out.

I painted this tray to go in my kitchen as a Thanksgiving decoration, but I truly believe I can keep this out year round.  I painted the inside of the tray with a mixture of greens, browns and blacks, and the trim in a brown/black mixture.  I wanted to keep the tray simple and rustic to symbolize the simplicity of being Thankful.

I am working on new Christmas candles; I will show those to you tomorrow.  I am also planning out my errand running to start picking up the basic wrapping supplies and stamps. 

71 days to go......

Monday, October 14, 2013

72 Days

Goodness time is flying.  We are almost halfway through October and I still want to write September on my checks.  I've started a few more projects which I will share soon, but have been busy getting online orders ready and finishing up our fall decorating.  I have also started looking through my wrapping paper, tape, bows, bags and other items so I can make a list of what I need.  Do I enjoy doing this?  No.  Is it necessary to keep my sanity when I am wrapping a ton of presents at one time and at the last minute?  Most definitely.

A couple years ago, I bought a gift bag set with tags and tissue paper from QVC.  I love this set.  I am still using items from it and they turned out to be pretty good quality.  Buying sets (if you find a good deal) can be so much easier and cheaper.  So, for now, I think I only need a few basics which I can pick up at the dollar store.

I think being more prepared this year will make a world of difference.  We'll see....

72 days to go....

Friday, October 11, 2013

75 Days

The weather is a little cooler, the leaves are starting to turn and definitely fall, so it was time to decorate for fall and Halloween.  We spent most of the day getting pumpkins and other items and decorating the house inside and out.  I will try to share a few pictures soon.

Meanwhile, I've started looking on amazon and other places for upcoming holiday music.  I have to admit I love Christmas music.  I start listening to it much earlier than the sane people around me, but it helps me get into the holiday spirit and get my painting/crafting done for my business.  So, I like to check out the new Christmas music releases (they generally come out in October) and scout out the top choices to add to my collection.

I'm also starting to purchase more Forever stamps for my Christmas cards.  No, they won't all be beautiful Christmas stamps, but I will feel so much better knowing that when I finally get all the cards addressed and ready to mail, I can actually mail them right then.  It's the little things that make me happy and reduce my stress.

I will try to share more pictures/decorating ideas for fall and winter very soon.  I may even be ready to start buying presents!  Feeling ahead of the game so far....

75 days to go.....

Monday, October 7, 2013

79 Days

The weather is finally starting to turn cooler, which always helps me do more work around the house, cook more and craft more.  I'm sketching out project ideas now, which I hope to share with you soon.  I've been down and out with allergies/cold, but I will catch up on ideas to pass along.

I'm also going back through the Christmas card list and updating addresses.  Folks move around a lot more, and I get frustrated every year when I'm ready to work on my card list, only to realize I don't have all the updated information.  So, I'm hoping to avoid that frustration this year by getting a head start on that piece of the puzzle.

I'm working on two new holiday/winter theme paintings.  I'm hoping to have new paintings to show you soon.

79 days to go.... Time goes by so quickly doesn't it?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

81 Days

It's been a strange weather kind of week.  It's October and it's been almost 90 degrees the last few days, with a breeze causing the leaves to cascade down in a leaf storm.  It felt more like fall in June than it does now.  It certainly doesn't feel like the time to keep working towards Christmas.  Which is exactly why I still need to do it.  If I wait until it "feels" like it should, I will already feel behind and overwhelmed.

So today I am treating myself and coaxing myself back into the spirit of things by downloading decorating/crafting/cooking books on my Kindle and looking back through the books I already have.  I collect cookbooks and reread them like other people reread their favorite novels.  So, this is a fun relaxing way to get back on track.

Some of my favorites are any of Mary Engelbreit's crafty/cook books, Gooseberry Patch (love them all!), A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Greer, and I like a free e-book on my Kindle, Homemade Christmas Gifts and More.  I'm getting lots of homemade gift ideas, which I love.

Now to get motivated enough to start making them...

81 days to go......

Thursday, October 3, 2013

83 Days

This has been another hectic week, which makes me so glad that I've started doing a few things to get ready for the holidays.  If our schedules are this crazy now, it makes me cringe to think what they will be like closer to Christmas.

I'm taking another look at the gift list and jotting down possible gift ideas.  By no means do I have ideas for everyone; just a few ideas to list before I forget about them in the every day jumble.

I'm also gathering together my craft supplies and putting them in containers or bags so that hopefully I will be inspired soon to make a few presents.

83 days to go.....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

87 Days

It's that special time of year again, school fundraiser time....  So, I used those catalogs to buy a little Christmas wrapping paper.  Yes, it's very expensive and you don't get much for the price, but it helps my daughter's school and I know I will already have some paper in the house when I do finally get ready to wrap presents.

So, one more thing checked off this list.  Hoping to make an inventory of all my supplies this week so I'll know what I really need.  We'll see if I get to that this week....

87 days to go.....

Saturday, September 28, 2013

88 Days

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it's easy to get caught up in our immediate needs and wants.  That's especially true during the holidays.  We usually try to do for others, but this year I want to be a little more conscious and intentional about helping others this Christmas.

So today I began making a list of charity programs in our area that are near and dear to my heart.  Those are the ones I want to focus on this Christmas, and make sure they don't get lost in the shuffle.  I highly recommend thinking about ways you can help others, especially around holiday time.  It doesn't have to be solely monetary donations, but help in other ways, such as delivering meals, donating food, or simply praying for those in need and those working to help them.

So, my list of groups I want to help this year has been made and is going into my trusty Christmas 2013 folder.  I'm hoping to come up with some creative ways to spread more Christmas joy this year, and I will blog about those later.

88 days to go.....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

90 Days

If you're like me, you come up with or see lots of little crafty ideas but talk yourself out of actually doing them.  I usually tell myself that I don't have time to tackle another project, but seem to have time to watch TV and play on the computer. :)  Today's project was one of those that I've put off for some time. 

I've read several articles about reusing old Christmas cards for various purposes, including making them into tags for the next year's presents.  I've kept old cards, mostly for sentimental reasons, but also to do this craft "someday".  Tonight, I got out the scissors, when to the card basket and in literally less than 5 minutes had some really cute tags.  Now that I've finished several, I just put them in a small Ziploc bag and put them into my Christmas folder.  I can handle 5 minute projects...

I think they turned out very well. 

90 days to go.....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

91 Days

Here is the finished product of experimenting with a motif pattern to make a Christmas placemat.  I love that it's round, looks delicate but is thick and will hold up well, and kind of looks like a poinsettia.  I'm pretty happy with my prototype - think I'll make 5 more soon.  I'm trying to decide if they will all be the same color, or if I will add in some greens and whites. 

But for now, I am happy that I took the time now before things get too crazy to start on a little something that I will like seeing throughout the season.

91 days to go.....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

92 Days

I've been thinking about Christmases past, and which decorations I loved and which ones weren't my favorites.  I find that I tend to love the handmade, one of a kind pieces so much more than the mass produced ones (even though they are beautiful too).  I am hoping to carve out time to make a few new things to put around the house this holiday season.  I'm hoping I can talk my daughter into making a few new creations too.

I've been trying to find the perfect Christmas placemats or tablecloths for quite a while but haven't had much luck.  We tend to get tablecloths dirty quickly, and I just haven't found placemats that I like.  So, I decided to crochet a new set this year.  I'm adapting a motif pattern into a round placemat pattern in Christmas red.  I started the first placemat tonight and almost have it finished.  I am much better at short term projects that I can easily put down and pick back up.

Pictures tomorrow... I promise!

92 days to go.....

Monday, September 23, 2013

93 Days

I know that I am the queen of lists, but today's list is very important.  It's the sometimes dreaded gift list.  I make a spreadsheet of my information and it makes life so much easier. 

The first few columns of my gift list spreadsheet include all those that I need to buy presents for, any gift ideas that I may have had throughout the year, and my budget.  I know budgets aren't fun to talk about, especially during the excesses of the holidays, but having a budget and knowing how you're doing helps keep those January and February monetary blues from striking quite so hard. 

The last few columns of the spreadsheet are where I put in what presents I actually purchased, if they are wrapped, and how much I actually spent.  I'm thinking about adding another column listing where I got the items.  That might help in case anything has to be returned.

This spreadsheet is great to save and adapt each year.  It also really helps me out, because I usually can't remember what I bought for everyone from year to year and it keeps me from giving the same present to the same person twice.

I have updated this year's list, printed it out, and put it in the Christmas 2013 folder.  Hopefully by updating and printing this out early, I will be inspired to start shopping a little earlier.  We'll see.....

93 days to go......

Sunday, September 22, 2013

94 Days

Took a day to look over everything that's been done so far.  I feel that it's going well, but the next few weeks will be key in making sure I don't feel overwhelmed later.  Making a game plan for the week; more to come soon!

94 days....

Saturday, September 21, 2013

95 Days

One of the big items on our "fun" list that I mentioned earlier in the week was to spend more time with family and friends.  I decided that the best way to get some of my crafting done and get to spend time with friends was to combine the two.  So, a great friend, who is incredibly crafty herself, came over and we had a girls' dinner and craft night.  We shared in preparing the meal, and crafted while catching up with each other.  It was so much fun; a great way to get needed items done while enjoying a nice block of time.  I worked on Christmas items while she and my daughter worked on Halloween crafts.

I love to paint anything on any surface.  These snowman candles are an example.  I keep adding more snowmen and snow women to my collection because I really enjoy making these.  There's a multi-step process involved to do it correctly and keep the paint adhering to the wax, but it's well worth it.  So, now I am on my way to having a few items done.

If you would like to give one of these as a gift yourself, you can find them on my website at

Here's what the back of the candles look like.  Love adding extra touches!

My daughter loves decorating for all the holidays as much as I do, and she is working through some of her Halloween projects.  She decided to do a duct tape jack-o-lantern and add details with a black Sharpie.  She loved how the Sharpie ran into the edges of the duct tape to give it a rough effect. She's very crafty herself.

I don't have a picture of the awesome Halloween craft my friend made.  I'm hoping she will send me a picture that I can add later.  She made small fabric covered witches hats that looked incredible.  The Halloween fabric was awesome.  I'm going to have to learn how to do them too.

It was a great evening spent eating well, laughing a lot and enjoying a little time crafting.  The shift in thinking in getting ready for the holidays seems to be paying off - at least for today.

95 days to go....

Friday, September 20, 2013

96 Days

This week has been hectic and exhausting.  After some thought, I decided to take today off from my preparations.  After all, this is a steady, small process.  I also have big plans tomorrow to get my house decorated for fall and to make a few Christmas items.  We'll see how it all comes together...

96 Days.....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

97 Days

I make a lot of lists; seriously, a lot.  I think I would make a list of lists if I could.  It's the only way I seem to be able to keep track of anything anymore.  So, of course I am making another list today.  But I want this to be fun, simple and not time consuming. 

So today's list are of the things that we want to do during the holiday time.  Almost every year the fun extra things we want to do get put aside for the things we think "need" to be done.  So, today's Christmas list of fun things we want to do includes, Christmas movie night (or maybe the whole day - we love our Christmas movies), extra sleepovers with craft projects that the kids can take home and give as presents, riding to look at Christmas lights, making lots of cookies, and planning time to get together with friends.  Sounds like a list I definitely want to follow.

I'm carefully putting this list in my Christmas envelope.  I'm hoping by placing it with the traditional "to-do" lists that this list will get completed too.

97 days to go....

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

98 Days

Today, was a cool, cloudy fall like day.  The cooler weather helps me think ahead about all the decadent food, warm clothes, and time with family and friends that lie ahead.  Christmas is an amazing time of year, and I'm hoping this year I won't be so frazzled that I miss it. 

So, today I printed out my Christmas card spreadsheet.  I'm certainly not ready to look at it yet, but just printing it out and putting it in my special Christmas envelope makes me feel like I've done something.  It's all about breaking the process down into small, baby steps.

If you don't have your Christmas card list on a spreadsheet, I highly recommend taking the time to put in all the information.  It saves so much time in the long run.  As much as people move and situations change, it's so much easier to update on the computer.  I also don't have to hunt for my address book that's been lost for a few years.

I'm also thinking about all those little gifts that I forget to buy.  I have some ideas on how to prepare those in upcoming posts.

98 days to go!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

99 Days

Today was hectic, as all days are now.  The thoughts of all the things that need to be done are overwhelming.  So, I decided to start off very simply in preparing for Christmas, because I know if I  do too much too soon, I'll start to put everything off.

So, for today I found a large mailing envelope and labeled it "Christmas 2013".  It will hold all my receipts, lists, addresses and other craziness.  I put it in my letter holder where I will have to see it every day.  Little visual reminders always help!

99 Days to go....

*** 2015 Update***:  It's hard to believe I started this idea two years ago!  After Christmas when you can't remember what you spent where, and what you bought for each person, this will become a lifesaver.  If you don't want to start a new envelope each year, just sort through the old information in the folder, decide what to keep, and change the year.  It's such a simple thing to do, but makes it so much easier to organize and keep on track each year!

Monday, September 16, 2013

100 Days

As I've been reminded several times today, it's 100 days until Christmas.  While I am one of those people who love to decorate and dive into the holiday season early, I am horrible at getting the essentials done without stressing myself and everyone around me.  So, this year I am going to try to break down the things that I need (or want) to get done into small tasks so that I can enjoy Christmas and get caught up in the blessings instead of the craziness.  I am hoping to still enjoy the changing of seasons and the importance of everyday life; I just don't want my to do list to become longer than Santa's list.  So, join me as I will try to post my ideas every week for how to break down the tasks.  This will either be a great success or maybe a flaming disaster. :) 

I hope to add paintings, new holiday crafts and homemade gift suggestions along the way for you too. If you have ideas that you'd like to share , by all means let me know.

Wish me luck!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

My latest painting is called "Closed on Sunday"  and is the first in my "Left Behind" series.  Some painting ideas come from a beautiful scene that I see, a flower blooming, the sun at the perfect angle.  This painting is not of a specific place, but came to me in my sleep (I have interesting dreams) as an idea of what we are leaving behind.

We are changing rapidly.  The phone we buy today will be outdated tomorrow.  The style of clothes or best song will be old news next week.  The buildings that we used to walk in, roads we used to drive on are still there, but are old and worn and not considered usable any more.

The buildings that sit with torn roofs and weeds growing around them were once thriving, important parts of our community.  We turn the other way, or simply ignore their presence as we have moved forward to newer, better and progressed along. 

To me, the buildings represent us and our greatest fears.  Our society values young and new, not older with character and wisdom.  We fear looking old and out of date; we fear being replaced or left behind.  There is so much beauty that comes with age, whether it's the worn boards with paint chipping off on the side of an old gas station or the wrinkles that come with a life well lived. 

Hopefully the paintings in this new series will remind us of the beauty and character that is all around us, whether it is a well worn structure or someone we see in our mirror. 

I am thankful that The Master Artist chose me to send these ideas too.  It combines so many elements that I love: old buildings, history, landscapes, and has something important to say. 

I heard this song by Matraca Berg years ago and had it my head while painting this.  It's a reminder that we are all beautiful at all ages and stages of our lives.

I hope that this painting will be a blessing to all of you as it has been a blessing to me.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Crocheting Hairbands

I love to experiment with paints, pencils, yarn (pretty much anything) to achieve new results.  After trying a number of different hairbands that were either too tight, gave me a headache, or just didn't feel right, I decided to try and make my own.  Here's the result of my experiment.  You are welcome to try this too and modify the instructions for the size and width that you would like.  The possiblities are endless.

I have pictures too, so don't worry if you're not quite sure about my instructions (I don't like typing all of them out and I might miss something... )

You will need:

-Any type sport or heavier weight yarn; baby yarn does NOT work as well with this. You need somthing sturdy that will hold its' shape.
-size G hook

Step 1:  chain 70, keeping the chain as straight as possible(this is the size that works for me and my daughter).  Wrap around your head going behind your ears to see if it works for you.  As long as you chain to an even number, this should still work for you.

Step 2:  chain 4, and then turn (this will count as your first DC (double crochet) and chain 1).  1DC in the 6th chain from the hook, then chain 1.  Skip the next chain, 1DC, chain 1 in the next (you are working in every other chain).  Repeat to the end, DC in the last chain.

Here's a closer view:

Step 3:  Turn, chain 4, 1 DC in top of DC, chain 1, repeat across.  DC in 2nd chain of 4 at the very end of row.

Note:  If you want your headband to be thinner, only crochet one row of double crochets.

Step 4:  hold ends together; single crochet in both ends all the way across while holding together.  Fasten off; trim ends.

Here's the final product:

I recommend hand washing these before wearing to make sure they aren't itchy.  By crocheting in every other space, it allows the hairband to be stretchy but still hold its' shape.  But the variations to this could be endless. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

If you're a Girl Scout Mom like me, you are currently surrounded with cases of girl scout cookies.  Hopefully your cases are getting empty quickly as all your cookies are being delivered. :) Fortunately our haul is dwindling.  I was getting ready to recycle all of our cases when inspiration struck.  Why not turn them into magazine and book holders for my daughters' bookshelves?

I've been looking at magazine/book holders for some time and couldn't find what I liked. The sturdy cardboard boxes allow for cutting, painting and reusing.  Perfect!

Step 1:  I cut off the tops of the boxes that fold down. At this point, you just have an empty box with no lid.

Step 2:  I then turned the box on its' side and made a diagonal cut from about 3 inches up to the top of the box, then across the top (as shown) and back down the other side to make them even.  You can see how to do it from the photo.

When set up this way, it can hold about 40 magazines.  Much better than having them stacked up or laying around!

Step 3:  Of course, I have to paint everything, so I took one of the cases of Peanut Butter Patties and sponged over it with red and white acrylic paint.  I tried to match the color of paint to the color on the side of the box just to make life easier.  I was very happy with the results!


Here's the other side:

You can also turn them on their side if you have shorter books and use them for small book storage too.  This was very quick, easy and inexpensive to do!