Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Traditions - Ornamentally Speaking

Family Christmas Photos 2011

My favorite thing about Christmas is building excitement. One way our family does so is with sweet little traditions.  These small holiday activities are like our own secret society.  We shop and we bake and we craft and... we just do things that make our family unique.  While we have many, our first family tradition was started before we were an official family.  It is

The Ornament.

It all started when Hubbs and I were dating. He came home from his weekend job as a counselor at the local Boys and Girls club with this little fella (Christmas 2002):

Yep, a half-painted, 2-color rodent ornament with yellow curling ribbon. WHAT?! You don't see how absolutely beautiful it is? Well, we were in college and I thought it was so cute that he took his time to paint  that little ornament for me.  This also came at a time when he'd leave poems in random locations and sing made-up songs to me(my personal favorite, "I'll Kiss You with Dorito Breath")... LOL.

It was no surprise that we were engaged on Thanksgiving 2003.  While shopping (as a couple... for Christmas gifts from "US"), I fell in love with this little engagement ornament:

We were married in August 2004 and here's our first ornament as a married couple:

Yes, I shaved my head in October 2004 and this is all the hair I had Christmas Eve 2004.  Imagine, it's like 7PM Christmas Eve and we're out searching for the perfect 1st Christmas ornament - SMH.  None of them were right... Too frilly, too grandma, too cheesy... We went to every store and nothing was right.  I was quickly defeated but, luckily, Hubbs was DETERMINED.  When he saw this little booth where photos were made into keepsakes, he said, "the only thing perfect in here is you... So let's just take a pic of perfection." 

Did someone queue the crowd for the AWW?? I mean, SERIOUSLY PEOPLE, it doesn't GET any cuter! 

Hubbs saved CHRISTMAS (and he said I was perfect, in case you missed that part).  For this reason alone, I love that little ornament... In all of its plastic snowflake glory.

2005: Here's what happens when you're too sick to leave the house and have to send Hubby to Hallmark for an ornament like 2 days before Christmas:

"Brian, what were you thinking? Is that how I LOOK to you?! UGH. GET OUT OF MY FACE!"

My, my, my what a difference a year makes, huh? LOL.  Oddly enough, I was pregnant (just didn't know it) and FELT like an ogre.  I just didn't want HIM to say it with an ornament... Needless to say, this one spent its first Christmas on the BACK of my tree.  Until life happened on January 5th, 2005 when our dog (represented by the Donkey on the ornament) was put down.  I cried my eyes out packing up this very ornament. "O DONKEY, I'll miss you!" Again, the pregnancy hormones made me a MESS but now, I think of him and I'm happy to display this ornament on the tree every year.  Ogre. Hmph. I got yo' ogre. 

The next Christmas (2006) was extra special as it was Munchface's FIRST... The mandatory Baby's First everything (stocking, pj's, socks, bib, AND ornament) was well represented... Here's the Winnie the Pooh ornament:

The rest has been history:




Looking at these ornaments really tells a story of our lives and choosing our ornament every year is a VERY special family tradition for us. I remember when Brian was so excited to be frogs (2008) and my mom laughed SO hard at the little skinny legs and how the little frog family REALLY looks like us...



OK so... MAYBE we do have chicken legs but still - LOL.  This year, we got our family ornament while on vacation at Disney.  Munchface's reaction when she saw it come out of the box sums up the purpose of our ornament tradition:

"That's from when my DREAMS came true, MOMMY!"

Yep. It sure is, baby girl.

What are your family traditions?

How are you building excitement for the most wonderful time of the year?


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mama-Made Monday - The victim.

I finished this project on Monday but didn't have time to post until today... So, it counts as Mama-Made Monday in my head... Ah well!

Have I told you about the Home War going on in my life? It was like one day I woke up and told my home, "I hate you!"  All teenage girl-like, "you're the worst house ever!! Why don't you have granite counter tops and built-ins? Why are you so annoying? AND DUST! Why do you have dust? I hate you... I hate cleaning you. I hate walking into you. I hate you. I hate you. I. hate. you!!!!!

I crossed my arms, rolled my eyes, stomped my feet and fussed at Hubs about it.  I realized, after I took my multi-month long HATE moment, that this is MY home.  I have the control to make it what I want. So, I went online and found inspiration... I tried to figure out what I LIKED about my inspiration and I realized what was really bothering me (yes, the granite thing is like an on-going issue but BEYOND that) - my color choices 4 years ago no longer suit my style.

I used to equate warm with fire.  The colors of the fire: reds, oranges, yellows meant warm to me.  I wanted my home to feel "warm" so I added red pillows, red rugs, red walls, red... red, red, red!  I've come to realize warmth is in the smells of my home, the sounds of giggles and the memories we make...

I don't need RED!!!

You mean my home is already warm?! With this epiphany in my back pocket, I started to slowly transition from the reds to the cools...

I want my home to have classic, traditional comfort with a modern twist.  From now on, I will purchase things I love and things my family will love for years to come.So, I've been on the hunt for something to organize my family room life. We have a nice wood/glass combo sofa table and I really like it but we treat it like a bookcase by stacking family games, magazines and just STUFF on it.  PLUS, it's smooshed behind a sofa against a wall so we can only get to the 1 side that's exposed.  I'd like "exposed" surfaces to be clean... Cool colors mean relaxing and light and airy and... clutter is NONE of the above.

I've been on the hunt for something functional with a decent surface to store stuff. In my transition, I'm moving away from little pieces of furniture that feed my cluttery decoratin' needs and toward the larger pieces that make a statement and store lots of stuff out of the way! Enter $15 Craigslist victim:

Here's how the transformation went:

1.  Spend your Friday evening loading your car with Munch and Puppy, to go get your victim. Why is Hubby on travel right now? UGH. Ah well, the decorating show MUST go on!

2.  Solicit the help from a stranger to load the car... After you kick your child out, move the Puppy to the front seat and tell Munch she will get back in AFTER we figure out how to fit her and the victim... (Secretly text your mom to come get your kid off the side of the road IF this doesn't work).

3.  Thank God for being in the mix because you got your dog, your kid and your victim in the car... Have a happy dance moment. Now, re-focus and grin all the way home with your prized victim... When you get home, unload your kid, your puppy and your dinner-to-go.  Then realize that you now must carry your solid wood victim from your car, up your stairs and into your home by yourself. It only took me 10 minutes and I felt like Incredible Hulk... Until I heard the high school sweethearts hanging out a few cars over giggling at my Mission Impossible moment. It was truly amazing and I hope they You tubed it... I looked like a body builder and I'm proud of it.  Needless to say, I let my body and my victim rest for the night.  We needed it.

Next Stop? Sherwin Williams. I told the clerk what I was painting and he made a recommendation... Some fancy wood paint... If you're looking for a substitute, Behr makes a great stick-to-anything paint to avoid sanding but I do love my Sherwin Williams too:

Halcyon Green is a robin's egg blue... The perfect addition to my family room...  Now, back to the step-by-steps:
4.  Remove the drawers.

5. Take your handy sanding sponge-thing and give the top a good scrubbing.  It removes any light scratches and allows the paint to stick.

6.  Wipe the victim down.  I used a few damp paper towels to wipe the dust off. This step is critical for a clean coat

7.  Paint. Let it dry.  Paint again.  Fall in love. Paint a third time.  Let it dry. Fall in love.  Let it dry:

I let it dry over night then I moved it into position and guess what? I actually considered removing my mom tree from the front room... You'll just have to wait until I have the Christmas home tour to SEE what I decide. 

I got the white drawer pulls from Hobby Lobby marked $2.99/each and, while I THOUGHT to myself the knobs would cost more than the victim, I got 50% off making an $18 expense only $9! WOOT!  Isn't the victim lovely?

I should've closed the drawers... Oops, I was EXCITED!
Honestly, I don't need any pat on the back... I'm happy with it and that's all that matters.  Second lesson about this whole re-defining my home style?  My style is mine.  I don't need to live up to anyone else... Of course, in this early stage of things, hubby doesn't get it and that's fine. I almost prefer it that way. I know when it's all said and done, it will be fab!

So, I have victory in the battle of the "victim" dresser.  O and I was victorious in the battle of the pillows! I changed my sofa pillows to the new color palette months ago and guests were asking, "did you get a new sofa?"  NOPE.  Just brightening it up around here... Embracing the natural light... Taking queues from Mama Nature and, I have to be honest, I'm loving it. 

Speaking of loving little pretty things, doesn't my dresser compliment my sparkly wreath so well?

Just a sneak Christmas decor peak... More to come!

Are you inspired by the season?


Making Lemonade


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Elf Living

Holiday excitement? Uh, yes, I know ALL about it. I've been shopping, cleaning and decorating in preparation for my favorite holiday... 

I was moving so much, Hubs resorted to the SQUASH tactic (pictured below).  Let's just say it involves the following:

Him.  The sofa.  Me. Trapped.

I need to sit still, I got it. NOW can I get up?

This year, my nesting is fueled by the excitement that hubs and I are hosting Christmas dinner; we're both SO excited!  He's already put his 2 cents about the menu out there, I am planning games and crafts for family competition and we've both agreed that we'll make this year more of a family party than the typical gift exchange.  I'll post more about our plan later...

I've got buttloads (typed for no reason other than the word "butt" made me giggle) of stuff to do.  I'm decorating and menu planning and shopping and crafting and bow making and... My poor heart is about to burst with sheer happiness because...

This is the time of year I live for! 

I'm just pausing to celebrate my holiday accomplishments so far!

I've unpacked.  It took my muscle man hubby to venture into the basement and pull out, "that tub... O and that tub... OOoo I forgot about that box... YES, that tree TOO... O... And those Target shopping bags hiding under that box that I really didn't mean for you to see..."  It was definitely no easy feat!  I usually only give myself $20 to buy Christmas decor BUT when Target had the nerve to have a 90% off sale, I allowed myself to double the budget last year.  Imagine my happiness when I opened these beauties a whole year later:

These ornaments are for my Mom tree.  What's a Mom tree? O that's just the tree where I determine ornament placement (I have a difficult time allowing hubby and Munchface free reign over my tree; they don't consider the importance of even distribution), I determine ornament selection (Munchface's homemade ornaments go on the family tree... this is reserved for my matching pretty things) and I determine its location (in the front room for ALL to see, of course).  

If you're a obsessive and controlling mom like me, consider having a Mom tree in your home too as it is a great way to ENJOY tree decorating with family without the "o NO NO NO, that is one of my FAVES and needs to go in the FRONT" moments. 

So, in case you can't tell, I may not have done MUCH but I've definitely put my Mom tree up.  Sweets and shoes, mommy's favorite things, is the theme: 

Other than pulling out the trees, I have hung 2 wreaths (my seasonal mirror wreath and a fabulous sparkly $3 thrift store find).  I'll give a Christmas home tour so you can see how things turn out...  Just thought I'd check in to say, for the hundredth time already... MERRY CHRISTMAS!  In the words of Munch during her self-serenade before bed last night, "WeeeeEEee wishhhhhh you a Merryyyyyyy Chrisssstmassss!!!"


That's right. I'm raising a rock star elf! If not for CHRISTmas, then when?

How are your preparing for Christmas?  What are your plans?

O and 1 more question: do you want to buy me either a fridge or new *granite* countertops? LOL.

Enjoy every moment!


Goodwill Finds: The Magnolia Wreath

Happy Friday, Islanders. I wanted to share a thrifty find from a while back.  Ugh, I love my local Goodwill Outlet.  Oh, and yes, you saw ...

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