Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

*Sidenote: these are pre-pixie haircut pics. I did not buy a wig.


* Because somebody will ask: I'm wearing sunglasses to cover the purple circles under my eyes, mmkay?

Mabel and I wanted to wish everyone a happy New year!

It's been a tough year around here. Tough but good.

I'm very thankful for all the trials and the blessings.


So bring it on 2012. We look forward to what you have in store.

Guest Post: Red? (And A Book Giveaway)

*Today's post brought to you by Erin: http://theconsummateamateur.blogspot.com . She is a copywriter by day, a novelist by night, and a wife, mother, dressmaker, quilter, zoo docent, painter, poet, and photographer in between. She only gets paid for the copywriting.

Liz’s drastic change in coiffure last week reminds me of the many, many different cuts and colors I have had over the years. I can identify my age in old photos solely by what style and color I’m sporting. Short or long, perms or waves, blonde, brown, or red, all give clues to my stage in life.


In high school I often had auburn hair. It started with a musical (Damn Yankees) when the directors said they wanted my part to have red hair. Mom and I went to the JCPenney salon and my stylist found my natural darkish brown hair color in her book of samples so that we could dye my hair back to normal after the musical was over. But I didn’t go back for years. I kept re-coloring my hair a dark auburn, then really dark brown, then red again. And on and on and on. I once even had awful blonde highlights that looked terrible on me. And yes, I’ve even been known to wear a wig of two, but always within the context of legitimate entertainment.



It’s been about eight years since I’ve colored my hair. But recently I started thinking about it again. I like my natural brown and I really do like my few gray hairs, which I have relentlessly defended from the sneaky, plucking fingers of my husband. I don’t necessarily want to lock myself into monthly coloring. Plus I’m not big on all the comments you get for the first couple weeks. They’re never a statement of opinion (“I like your hair!”) They're always a statement of fact (“You dyed your hair!”) I’m always trying to detect negative or positive inflection buried in those comments. It’s there somewhere.


Still, it’s fun to do something different once in a while. So the other night I grabbed this from the shelf at Rite Aid.



The first step is color. Well, after step one I already knew this would not turn out. Even though the swatch for brunettes on the box showed true red color after 25 minutes, when I rinsed and dried that scene from Beaches popped into my head where CeCe tells Hillary that she just spent an hour dying her hair exactly the same color and Hillary responds, “No!” says an indignant Hilary. “It’s a subtle difference.” Mmhmm. Subtle.


Step two is the highlighting. Remembering my bad highlights (done in a salon) years ago, I was nervous about this. Plus all of the examples showed ways to highlight long hair. How would I do the back of my very short hair, especially when I couldn't see it? So I put the bleaching agent on lightly and waited the minimum amount of time before rinsing to minimize whatever damage I might be doing to my appearance.


After racing back into the shower to rinse out the bleach, I dried off a second time with my now damp towel, starting drying my hair, and waited for the hideous highlights to show. They didn’t. At all. I had just spent an hour dying my hair nearly the same color. There’s red hiding in there, but not the color I wanted.


The next day I decided to just wait and see if anyone noticed. I had a haircut scheduled and evening church activities. Would anyone see red?

If my stylist noticed, she didn’t say anything. Hmmm…either it’s real subtle (good, I guess, considering the alternative) or it’s just one of those embarrassing, uncomfortable things you try to ignore, like when your husband gleefully carries around some sort of electronic gadget on his belt when it could easily fit in his pocket. One person at church mentioned it (in a positive way—score!) but for the most part it has flown under the radar.

Now that I’ve lived with it a few days and seen it under better light, I like it fine. Not enough to keep it around forever, mind you, but enough.

I know that many of you must have hair dying stories to share. Add yours to the comments and I’ll pick my favorite one to win a copy of Liz’s book—on me! Don’t forget to give your email address so I can contact you.

Friday, December 30, 2011

I Always Wondered

Whenever I would read blogs where mothers posted about decorating projects or food triumphs, I would always look at the pictures and think, "Where are the kids? At the sitter?"


And now I know. The kids are right there. Underfoot. Bouncing in a froggy. Yammering, "Babababmamamadadadadada."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guest Post: Weathering- God’s Provision from the Heart of a Gardener

Today's Guest Blogger is Tiffany from http://songbirdtiff.blogspot.com/ . Thanks Tiffany!

When the warm days of Spring come around, I know it’s time to put my fragile seedlings outside. After nearly a month of nurturing, watering, and talking nicely to them, it’s time to introduce them to the elements. It seems kind of harsh to thrust these sensitive beings outside suddenly after being coddled. The sun is hot, the wind harsh.

Still, it must be done. It is necessary for their survival.

This process is called weathering. We put our seedlings outside a few hours at a time, a little more each day, to make them strong. The gentle breeze helps my tomato plants grow sturdy stalks and encourages their roots to dig deeper. The introduction of direct sun teaches my plants to produce food on a larger scale, promoting overall growth, and before long my growing plant develops a needful relationship with the sun, a relationship necessary for the plants very survival.

If, instead of weathering, I continued to create a comfortable environment for my plants what would happen? I could keep them inside, protected, until it’s time to do their job. You see, the ultimate destiny of these plants is to produce fruit. I could put my delicate seedlings outside when they reach the required size and some would survive, perhaps a little worse for wear, but most would not. The shock of the bright sun (otherwise a source of food), beating of a gentle rain (otherwise meant for nourishment), and a stiff wind is too big of a burden for that little seedling to bear.

I believe that The Lord weathers us. A gentle breeze here, a good watering there. He grows us, encouraging our roots to expand, our stalks strong. It may seem harsh, or unfair, but these trials prepare us for what is to come. You see, ultimately, we are meant to produce fruit.

Hurricane winds come, the sun is relentless, but lately I have been praising God for weathering. I am blessed to have deep roots, surrounded by people who encourage and challenge me daily. Weekly teaching of the truth of The Word makes my stalk hardy so that when those winds come, I have the strength to withstand. My growing leaves are creating a needful relationship with The Son. I pray that the fruit that I produce is pure and selfless, so that my son can see what a Godly woman is meant to be.

Without weathering, I would not survive.

Tiffany is a mom, wife, and animal lover who blogs at Songbirdtiff.
Her newest adventure will begin in March of 2012 with the launch of
20by20: A Journey of Reckless Gardening.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Girly

There's something about short hair that makes me feel more girly. Which is strange, since you'd think it would be the opposite. My favorite girly thing today? This shade of pink lipstick.

Office Wishes

* images found here.

Since the birth of Jane, my office has become a dump. I toss things through the door, close it quickly, and pretend it's not there. This is happening because Jane's room used to be the guest room, which was my go-to dump. It's amazing how one tiny baby makes a house shrink like a cotton t-shirt in hot water.

But in the past week I've been writing more and more. I haven't written in a long time, and it feels good, like stretching my legs after a long sleep. But I've also got an itch to redecorate a little. Maybe paint the walls, or my desk, or sew curtains.


This picture is my dream. If only.


Or perhaps I should just start with cleaning. I found a dust bunny the size of Mabel yesterday.

How about this Harry Potterish library?
Mmmmm. Yeah. Never gonna happen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guest Post: Melissa Bolton's Tips on Home Organization


Hi there!


I'm Melissa.

I blog here: www.theboltons.com


I've noticed some things in my home lately and have thought,

"Hey! That actually worked!"

(I've tried countless decorating/organization tricks that haven't worked for us,

which is why I feel it's noteworthy when they do.)

Here's my little list of "Hey! That that actually worked!":


1. Baby wipes container to hold plastic bags






This keeps them all in one tidy place,

while also preventing me from hoarding them.



2. Black and white baby pictures (of my husband and I) on the changing table






My daughter has always loved looking at these pictures.

Now I get to chuckle every time she points at my husband's picture and says, "Baby Daddy?"




3. Spray painting indoors using a big, deep box






I needed to spray paint those ornaments, but it was way too cold outside.

I used a huge box, closed off my workroom, cracked a window, and went to town.


Result: Minimal stink, cute little ornaments, and no paint outside the box.




4. Speaking of ornaments, those apple containers from Costco


are awesome for storing the fragile ones.






5. Using cloth towels instead of paper





By keeping a stack by the paper towels, and a bin for the dirty ones by the sink,


we've gone from about a roll a week to a roll a month.


I just really like saving money.




6. Bread box (from a thrift store) for arts and crafts





It's been nice having a special spot for those items.


When I'm making dinner I can trap my child in her highchair and easily keep her busy.




7. An old sliding screen door as a baby gate






Those gates for wide stairs are expensive!


In a desperate moment, I stuck a screen door between the spindles to block off the stairs.

Finally after 8 months of this system, I covered it with burlap.


It works great and when we don't need it up, it hides easily.


---------------



Ta-da!

I'd love to hear what's working in your homes.

New uses for old things?


Organization systems that have weathered the test of time?


Ways to keep your kids busy while you cook dinner?


How do you spray paint things when it's freezing outside?




Merry Christmas to you all!
I wish for you a season of joy, peace, and minimal family drama!
And, Liz, I'll speak on behalf of all your readers and say,
thank you for writing.
Thank you for sharing your life with us.
Keep doing what you're doing.



We like it. :)



Monday, December 26, 2011

Plate. Problem.

My wall-plate-plotting-collecting continues.



It's becoming a problem.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Guest Post: Sugar Mama


Hello there! Thanks for having me Liz. I'm Ashley: wifey, mama & baker also known as Sugar Mama. I want to share my favorite cookie recipe with you all! It is a perfect Christmas cookie (but let's be honest, we eat them all year around here). This was the first recipe I wrote myself and it inspired me to pursue gluten free & vegan baking and to eventually start my business!

This recipe is entered in a contest here and I would love your support! All you have to do is click the link and "like" my recipe! Thank you so much & happy baking!!!!!

Oatmeal Cranberry Sugar Mamas

1 C Spectrum organic shortening
3/4 C organic cane sugar
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1 TB flax meal mixed with 3 TB water
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB coconut milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 C Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour mix
2 C gluten free oats
1/2 C craisins
1/2 C chopped walnuts
white chocolate

Cream shortening & sugars. Add flax/water & milk. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in oats, craisins & walnuts. Drop by tablespoon or ice cream scoop onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool on a cooling rack. Melt white chocolate (or dark chocolate is also delish) and drizzle on top of cookies. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

I'm wishing all of you a very merry Christmas. I hope it's full of house shoes and Bing Crosby and Home Alone marathons. I hope you all get gifts that contain something turquoise (but red will do too). I hope no one fights with their family or fries a turkey in their front yard. I hope all your children still believe in Santa. Love to you all!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Post: Take A Moment To Remember

When someone you care about is missing their loved ones during this holiday season, please take a moment to remember.

Write a little note in the card you send that says " I remember them "...
Call them to see how they are doing....
Bring them a home cooked meal so they can take a break...
Give them a little gift in honor of their loved ones...
Make a donation in their loved ones name (and let them know!)
Light a candle in the loved one's memory. Take a photo and send it to your bereaved friend.
Take some time out of your own busy schedule to spend time with them. Even an hour is better than nothing.

There is so many things you can do.... and none of it will take much time or effort on your part.

Remembering is the best gift of all.

And not just the first year.... but every year. It's always appreciated.

How do I know? Because I am one of the bereaved.


Ter is a blogger at With An Angel on my Shoulder : A Blog About What Came Next. Ter writes about her journey after the deaths of her daughter and husband, and seeks the good parts of life while always remembering her family. She is also the creator of the Patches the Bear blog.

Guest Post: A Little Inspiration From Leo


Hello all and Happy Holidays! My name is Kate, and I write a little blog called www.retroranchrevamp.com. Liz (and Mabel of course) were kind enough to let me write a guest post for them! When Liz informed me that I could write on any topic my little heart desired, (minus stuff like gun control…really not my cup of tea anyway) I immediately got a horrible and long lasting case of writer’s block. Yep, you guessed it, too much creative freedom makes me blank. Big time. So there I was amidst all the stress and busy bustle of the holidays, trying to pick a topic and get a post to Liz before she withdrew her guest posting offer. (If you’re reading this, I made it in just before the bell.)

I did what any logical person completely immersed in the Christmas craziness would do, I decided I would write about the holidays, until I realized my writer’s block would probably prevent my post from being turned in for Liz’s approval until after the holidays were over. Arrrghh!

Ok, on to the next topic. Hmm. But all I could think about was:

Why did the gift I ordered for my father-in-law arrive broken for the SECOND time and where will I find a replacement before Christmas?

How many more hours will I have to spend wrapping presents?

Yipes! New Year’s Eve (I’m hosting a party this year) is getting dangerously close and I haven’t planned a bit of it! (or cleaned for that matter)

Why am I getting a cold right before Christmas???

Then as I was in the midst of my holiday/writer’s block meltdown, my assistant came in.

Leave it to Leo to calm me down. He always has a way of making me feel better, or laugh and he always knows when I need it the most. (I suspect Mabel and Liz know what I’m talking about.)

Did my faithful assistant Leo cure my writer’s block? Not a chance. But he did he make me realize that my guest post didn’t have to be a life altering, earth shaking spectacular piece or writing. It was at that point that I realized, I had been thinking so much about my writer’s block, that I could probably write about THAT for the guest post. I mean, Liz is a writer, so I am sure it would be appreciated.

And that is the story of how I beat my guest post writer’s block.

Happy Holidays!

Guest Post: Dreams

Guest post brought to you from Jennifer Poppy at Bella Grace Home. Thanks Jennifer!





I love this print I found on Pinterest (a.k.a. the best invention ever! Okay, maybe not ever, but close to it for sure). But I would almost want to change the phrase to "She let God turn her can'ts into cans and His dreams into her plans." You see, each and every one of us is unique. We are taught that from birth practically, with comparisons to snowflakes "Not one of them is alike," we are told that we are created for a purpose.

Well, not all of us were told that. Some were told that there is no purpose in life...no meaning at all...and that really, we're just here to live and die and become part of the dust again. But whether you grew up knowing that you were uniquely made for a purpose or if you were like the latter, growing up not knowing the meaning of life at all, I want you to be encouraged today: You were beautifully crafted in your mother's womb by a Creator who loves and adores you more than you can possibly imagine.

Your laugh, your smile, the way you interact with others, your likes and dislikes were all created to make you, you. And that dream in your heart? The one that you had to bury because of insecurities, bills, nay-sayers, what-have-you...Well, that dream was placed in your heart for a reason. Not everyone shares the same dream you carry deep within you. There's a purpose behind the passion you hold for whatever that noble endeavor may be.

And that purpose can only be fulfilled when you allow yourself to become all you were created to be by the One who knows and loves you more than anyone else in the universe.



But it takes getting out of your comfort zone, into a place of trusting God. You may ask how I know this is true. Well, for years I've held a dream in my heart for doing mission work with my husband in a land that is far from my home. It's a dream the Maker placed within me as a teenager. It's a dream that makes me tear up; it's a dream that causes joy to overwhelm my heart; it's a dream that fits who the Lord made me to be on this earth.



And since our family has taken a step of faith, in the direction the Lord asked us to obey Him in...it has been amazing! Yes, there have been many ups, but there has been hard work as well. But the most astounding thing about it all is that we are in perfect peace, resting and trusting in Him. He has moved in ways beyond what we could have ever asked or imagined. And I know that it is simply because He is good and He has given us the strength to obey Him and jump into the destiny He created for us.

There's a special destiny for your life, too. Is there a dream in your heart that was buried years ago? Is there a dream in your heart that you are living today? Will you let Him change your can'ts into cans and His dreams into plans? Be who He created you to be...there's nothing greater on this earth, for it brings Him glory, so much glory!

I'm grateful, to you, Liz, for allowing me to share these words with your friends at Mabel's House. You are an encouragement and inspiration to us all. Thank you for letting your "can'ts" become your "cans." You are a blessing!




*All images via
Pinterest to the bottom of the post?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guest Post: The Years Without a Santa Claus



Today's guest post brought to you by Kelly at http://www.mrsmediocrity.com/



I’m in those years between raising my kids and being a grandmother. (I’m not complaining mind you, I can wait.)


But Christmas just isn’t the same without the pitter patter of little feet and those joyous smiles and that “I can't get to sleep because I'm waiting for Santa” excitement. Even in my extended family, we are in those in-between years. All the nieces and nephews are young adults. And so, there is no one around who actually believes in Santa. Well, except for my Mom, but she's Mrs. Claus, and that's a whole different story.


I miss the Christmas Eve reading of The Polar Express with my son next to me in his footie pajamas, clutching his very own authentic jingle bell that Santa left under our tree one year. I miss the making and revising of The List, and the letters to Santa, and the going to the mall to sit on Santa's lap. (Okay, I don't really miss that part all that much.) And I miss the cookies and milk that we had to leave on the coffee table every Christmas Eve, which of course I had to eat in order to keep up appearances.


Don't get me wrong, I still love Christmas. (I am my mother's daughter after all.) I find myself smiling all through the month of December, decorating, baking, wrapping, singing Burl Ives and Andy Williams. Making handmade gifts and finding that special item that is sure to put a smile on the recipient's face.


But I miss the magic. The mystery. The innocent, unbridled joy.


And so, for now, I live vicariously through friends that have children. I visit blogs and view adorable photos of babies and children (like Jane). I "adopt" less-than-fortunate children and fill bags with wrapped goodies and toys and imagine their smiles on Christmas morning.


And I enjoy my family just as they are now, old enough to know better, but still willing to sit down and watch A Christmas Story with me every Christmas Eve. (They owe me for the pierogies I spend all day making.)


But I still have that copy of The Polar Express, sitting on a shelf, waiting.


Because someday, Santa will be leaving another sleigh bell beneath our tree. I just know it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Post: Holiday Shopping Etiquette

Hi everyone! I'm Molly from Tupelo Love. Liz is kindly allowing me to crash her wonderful blog today and share with you a little "holiday cheer". I'm so excited to be here as a guest blogger here since I've loved and read Mabel's House for years! Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!



*photo found here.

There are (or should be) a series of "rules" when it comes to Holiday Shopping Etiquette. Something along these lines: Dear Fellow Holiday Shoppers, Hi there. I have a few helpful tips for you on how to make your holiday shopping experience a little bit nicer, a tad bit calmer, and a whopping ton better. And by "your", I mean "my".




1. When scouting the parking lot for a space to park, please do not stalk me like a Great White hoping to score an otter while I walk to my car. Not only is it incredibly annoying and sketchy, but it makes you look like an abductor.




(1a. I'm warning you in advance that if you do this to me, I will walk up to random cars, fumbling for my keys, and pretend to unlock them while you're strategically positioning your car to turn into my spot with your blinker on while foaming at the mouth and glaring at other cars that come within 50 feet of that space. Then I will walk away from said random car and continue to fake you out until you go away. There's no shame in my game.)




2. When you actually do decide that stalking your prey to get a parking spot is completely normal and acceptable human behavior, do not roll your window down and yell at me asking how far away I'm parked. This will cause one of three things to come out of my mouth:




a. Nothing. Because I will be ignoring you.




b. "I'm sorry, I'm not walking to my car, I'm just taking a break from shopping to get some fresh air!" Even if I immediately end up walking to my car when you're not looking.




c. "Just dropping off some bags to unload! Going back in for more shopping!" Sucker.




3. Do not walk too closely to me, or others, in the mall. It is rude and viewed as odd behavior in this country since we all "need our personal space" and get weirded out by people who don't seem to understand that.




4. Please try to keep up with "traffic" when walking through the mall. It's very simple and you can easily reference a car driver's manual for the rules, as the notions are paralleled. Walk with the same pace as others around you so as not to slow things down, keep to the right if you're moving slower, and by all means DO NOT STOP SUDDENLY just because something shiny caught your eye in a window. All of these are cause for sudden spikes of rage within people that make them want to punch Santa. KEEP MOVING, and if you have to stop, look around to make sure you're not about to cause a pile-up.




5. Try to have a list with you. It will make your experience, and mine, much more fluid and tolerable. The "wanderers" are the ones who cause the traffic jams because they have no idea where they're going, what they're looking for, or which way is up. Online pre-shopping can help you with this. Doesn't everyone know that's what you use the internet for while you're at work?


*photo found here.


6. Cool it on the cologne. Seriously. Do not douse yourself like a 13 year-old boy trying Aqua di Gio for the first time before your Homecoming Dance. There will be enough "smells" infiltrating the mall to deal with.

7. Similarly, please wear deodorant.

8. Be nice. That's all, just be nice. Everyone is there for the same reason. They are either working there and just want to help you get what you need, or they're shopping there just like you are. There is a common goal, so be considerate.

9. No judgmental looks. If I want to stand in a 20 minute line to get an Auntie-Ann's pretzel and a vat of cheese to dip it in, you can assume that I need nourishment for my hard day's work of trying to shop. Do not look me up and down and mentally determine whether or not I "need" it. Considering the stress of shopping, I "need" 7 more of them.

10. If there is one purse left that you've been wanting to get for someone, but you and another woman are both eyeing it at the same time, then bust out your brass knuckles and fight like the dickens to get it!!!! Just kidding. Reference #8. And if you just simply HAVE to have it, then talk it out or see if they have extras in the back.

11. If you're leaving and have already put all your bags in your car, fastened your child to their carseat, folded up the stroller and have it all packed in, please proceed to exit the premises. Do not sit in your car texting, putting on make-up, or taking a nap. This will cause an eruption of anger that could shake that very mall to its core.
11a.This action is, however, deemed acceptable if you've had a Great White on your tail since taking one step from polished tile to concrete sidewalk. You are allowed to sit for 3 minutes maximum just to annoy the shark that annoyed you. An eye for an eye, I always say.
11b. Or, see #8 and stop being immature.

12. Don't park like a jerk. There is very little that is worse than searching for a parking spot for 20 minutes, thinking you've finally struck gold, only to see that someone decided to park at least a foot over the line and is taking up two parking spaces instead of one. If you get out of your car and see that you've done this, please re-park it and save yourself a possible keying. Not that ANYONE would do such a thing! (Keep repeating #8 over and over to yourself).

13. Do not cut anyone off to get a parking spot. If you see someone waiting with their blinker on, and you know they were there first, then move along. Nothing will bring out a primal psycho reaction more than someone who blatantly steals another's parking spot. You have a death wish if you choose to attempt this.

14. Don't stick out your foot and trip anyone. This should go without saying, but don't you sometimes feel the urge?!? Oh, just me? Hm.

15. Last but not least, always say "Happy Holidays". Even if someone just cut you off or stopped suddenly in front of you. It will make you feel better and it will make them feel good as well. We always expect people to be rude or short during this crazy time, so surprise them with a smile and a well-wish. Spreading holiday cheer really does make a difference, and could change someone's day. Say it to those who deserve it, and those who seemingly don't. Because afterall, it IS the holiday season, and the reason for all this madness derives from a pure and true meaning. Let's not forget that.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jane and the Lamb

Baby lamb hats.
Baby sweater boots.
Our house is full of baby accessories.
She gravitates to the color purple like a baby moth to a baby flame.
Matt has already agreed to paint her bedroom her favorite color.
I say, "Someday."
I also asked that hot-pink be omitted from the choices.
Paleeese Jane.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Forever Family



I am so proud to call Zach and Anna our friends.
Adoption is such a beautiful thing.
See more about this here.

Guest Post: "Where's my hot glue gun?! I can't work with cold glue!"

I am not artsy, nor am I craftsy. And while I would love to be, it's just not my talent. My talent is running into a store on my way to an event, grabbing something beautiful and having the store wrap it for me to present to the intended recipient. This Christmas, however, I decided to buck my own trend and make all of my Christmas gifts. It's been on my bucket list ever since I discovered Etsy and saw stunning items that people are making by hand. Talk about talent! I started with my special toasted pecans and found a fantastic dry mix for chai lattes.


Toasted pecans are kind of my specialty. I made a super simple, yet super functional jewelry holder out of mismatched cups and saucers. I received one of these as a gift last year and use it every day of my life. One trip to the antique store and some serious glue, and I was all set to make this gift in about 3 minutes.


Little cousins are getting snack kits: S'mores for the boys and ice cream sundaes for the girls. Just fill a decorative box with the supplies needed, add a bow and it's ready to give. Teachers get mini chalkboards or a set of coasters. Cute, functional and easy to make for the craft-impaired. Plus, it gives them a little break from the lotion gift sets and candy they get tons of each Christmas.









I feel like I made enough gifts to give it a legitimate check mark on the list, but I'm closing out the project with mixed reviews.


1. It is not feasible to make a gift for everyone on my list. I was not going to sacrifice my children's Christmas in order to satisfy a requirement on my own personal to-do list. And what kind of Grinch would I be if I knitted my kids scarves this Christmas! They would be less than impressed. So once again, my kids are getting an Amazon-style Christmas. Ho Ho Ho!


2. Making gifts is pricey. You'd think it would be a total money saver, but by the time I bought everything I needed for making the gifts (including a a bajillion sheets of scrapbook paper and some seriously sticky glue product) and bought boxes to put them all in, I had spent a small, handcrafted fortune.


3. It was fulfilling to think of each recipient as I made their gift. I thought about what they would like and what would look good in their home, which led me to memories that made me smile. It was nice to set aside a block of time to think only of that person as I lovingly crafted their gift. And as I worked, I said a short prayer for the recipient, 'cause I'm spiritual like that.


4. I'm totally excited to watch everyone open their gifts this year, and I am perfecting my modest, oh-it-was-nothing smile when all the compliments roll in regarding my cleverness and talent.


My best advice for anyone wanting a do-it-yourself Christmas?


1. Start early. Chances are pretty good things won't go as planned the first go 'round. I started in mid-November, which allowed ample time to run back to the store to replace broken coaster tiles


2. Know your limits. I knew I was not going to crochet any blankets or make intricate lace placemats. I found several neat ideas that I could do by using existing items in new and unexpected ways.


3. Choose things you would like for yourself. I would love to receive the things I'm giving others, and that makes the anticipation of giving them that much greater. I'm fairly certain I will not be participating a full DIY Christmas again, but it's nice to know I can manage to put together a couple of crafty gifts that aren't completely lame.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on the gifts I made or hear easy gift ideas you've tried.


And a special thanks to Liz (and Mabel) for sharing their blog space with me.


KB is a blogger over at A Drop in the Bucket, one woman's bucket list and her daily efforts to meet those goals amidst the chaos of running an at-home business and the hilarity of raising two strong-willed yet perfectly awesome children.



Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Cheesecake

I've called Jane "Cheesecake" since she was born.
Back then she was a tiny, skinny, little thing. Not cheesecake-like at all.

But now she's definitely in the cheesecake class.


This morning she said, "Mama."

Today was by far the best Christmas present a girl could ever wish for.
I'm so thankful.
Merry Christmas!

*photos courtesy of my talented mom

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Silent Night, Not So Much

There's no such thing as a silent night in our house. Especially not on this night. I was too busy yelling about how wonderful these goodies were (from our friend Kelli).

Matt was clanging around and cleaning the kitchen, not complaining at all that his wife was eating/taking pictures of cookies and admiring the beautiful turquoise plate instead of helping him.
Jane likes to squeal and talk to the Christmas lights.

This picture has nothing to do with noise, I just love this haircut so much.

And then we all participate in the "getting ready for bed" part of the program. Matt plays with Jane and makes her hyper.

And then I take over with the rocking and bottle and singing "Jesus Loves Me." I put her to bed and kiss her goodnight, and she grins at me from behind her pacifier. Then Matt and I talk and catch up on each others' days. There's not a lot of silence in our house, but I love the lights and the busyness and Jane's babbling so, so, so much.