Sunday, December 21, 2014

T'was the post before Christmas

I knew I hadn't posted in a while, but until I sat down to write this post I had no idea it had been a month and a half.
Sorry.  My only excuse is the business of the season.  My last post was right after Halloween. Then came my birthday with Thanksgiving right on it's heels.
Since then it's just been happy, holiday madness.


But, now the tree is up and the gifts are wrapped.



My growing collection of putz/glitter houses and bottle brush trees are gracing my hutch and mantle...


along with a Christmas dollhouse and some nutcrackers left over from my folk art painting days.  Not to mention the stockings I embroidered for my hope chest way back in my college days.



Christmas quilts are all over the house.  Even The Joe loves a good snuggle underneath one.  Hanging from my banister garland are some clothespin people I made with my Dad when I was about thirteen years old.  I've always loved them, but with Dad gone now, they are a treasured memento.
When I was young, I remember writing in my journal that I hoped one day to have a home filled to the brim with handmade items.
This year as I put up each decoration, I realized that hope had, for the most part, been fulfilled.  It made me smile inside.

I don't really have any sort of theme.  My house is a pretty eclectic mix of new and vintage decorations.
This is my newest addition.  I saw this gallery wall treatment on Pinterest and simply had to do it in my own house.

Here's the before.  I've added some stuff since then.


As you can see, I just wrapped some of the pictures to look like gifts.  The rest of the photos I flipped over to show only the backside, then put some Martha Stewart Holiday clings (found at JoAnne's) on the glass.


Family wedding invitations and birth announcements usually reside in the galvanized metal envelope. However, it's currently holding the Christmas cards I've received.  The key makes sure Santa can get in, with or without the chimney.  Hey, you never know.

We'll have the cookies and milk out as well.  A little bribery never hurts.

These vintage Harold Gale Santas are my newest passion.  And when I say passion, I mean it.  I am crazy for them.  The one on the stool stood under our Christmas tree each year as I was growing up.  I spent hours playing with it.  I've coveted it forever and last year my mom finally agreed to part with it.  The one on the floor I inherited from my beloved Aunt Twila.  That they are family heirlooms and bring back such happy memories make them all the more cherished to me.  
In addition to red, they come with green, gold and pink suits and I'm planning on collecting as many as I can find. So, if you have one you might be willing to part with or know anyone who does, please hook a girl up :)


Of course, I don't want you to think it's all about Santa for us.  It might seem schizophrenic to decorate with both Santa and The Nativity, but to me it doesn't have to be one or the other.  I believe they can peacefully co-exist if we focus on Santa as a symbol of love, benevolence and generosity.  These are, after all, gospel principles.  
This year Matt and I started a new tradition. Each week we read about a different character of the nativity story and a quality that character represents.  It has been a wonderful experience for us as we have delved deeper into the familiar story of the birth of Christ.  I look forward to doing this every year.  

Hot cocoa is the theme for this year's neighbor gifts.  

Larger families are getting some homemade hot cocoa mix.  I have a really great recipe that I'll post on my What's Cookin' page.  I'll include the link for the label download as well.    

Those with smaller families are getting some yummy Hot Chocolate on a Stick.  And boy are they yummy!  How do I know?  Let's just say I did a fair amount of bowl licking when I finished making the chocolate ganache.  
I found the recipe and gift tags here.  I also made the marshmallows but the link she has on the site didn't work for me.  I found a good Alton Brown recipe here.  It was easy and the mallows turned out smooth and creamy.  So far, I've gotten rave reviews from my neighbors.  I'll definitely be making these again.  

We were lucky to get tickets to the MoTab Christmas concert.  With the increasing popularity of the annual concert and the church giving them out by lottery, these tickets are as hard to come by as one of Willy Wonka's golden tickets.  I could not believe our luck in scoring some.  This year's guest performers were Santino Fontana and (wait for it)...the Muppets!  The concert was a blast! The highlight for me was The Count performing the Twelve Days of Christmas.  I mean, it doesn't get any better than that.  
Since they were filming for PBS, we weren't allowed to take photos but I did take this one before the show began.  

Of course, there is nothing more beautiful than Temple Square at Christmas.  


And through it all the quilting goes on.  Here are some Half-Square Triangles I put together into scrappy blocks.  I did it as a demo for my quilt guild.  


Since the quilt wasn't for anything special, I really challenged myself on the free-motion quilting and I love the way it turned out.  This will be a great picnic quilt.  

This baby has been on the design wall for weeks but I just haven't had time to get it quilted.  At this point, it will just have to wait until after the first of the year.  

Wow, that was a long, photo heavy post!  My life seems pretty routine but there is still a lot that goes on in a month and a half!

I'm pretty sure I won't post again until after the first of the year.  I just know I'll be too busy celebrating.  

I wish you a beautiful holiday season filled with peace and joy.  




Monday, November 3, 2014

The Day After


If you've ever wondered how geeky engineers and their wives pass the time on the day after Halloween, then you'll want to read on.


Welcome to the annual pumpkin launch.

Teams of students from the school of engineering compete to see which hand-built catapult will be victorious in various categories such as accuracy, speed and length of toss.  The event is open to the public so we joined with hundreds of other families to watch the festivities.  

It was surprisingly fun to watch those pumpkins fly.  There was even something for the kids as five of the pumpkins that were launched were filled with candy. 


I couldn't resist snapping a few shots of the leftover shrapnel. It was a fun way to top off Halloween.



Speaking of Halloween, here are some shots of the house all decked out.  





My favorite part of decorating is creating ingredients for my witches pantry.  

This year I made a haunted fairy garden for my front porch.

This bony fellow is my newest acquisition.  He was quite an effective watchdog.  

The weekend before we hosted a big, bad Werewolves party.  It's one of our favorite games and it's especially appropriate for a Halloween party.  

I had a great time whipping up the munchies.  Check out my werewolf claw cupcakes.  

The "bite me" cookies were a hit as well.  
The party was a huge hit.  Everyone had a great time.  We'll definitely be doing it again. 

Lastly, here is the newest creation on my design wall.  It's my new favorite.  I'm keeping it.  

So, it's been a busy and festive few weeks.  Topping it all off, today is my birthday.  My 53rd to be exact.  Yesterday and today were spent quietly celebrating with my family.  I'm feeling pretty blessed and grateful, the perfect lead in to Thanksgiving.