chalkboard Christmas tree 2017

Here it is! This year’s chalkboard Christmas tree. You can see the previous five chalkboard trees here: Chalkboard Christmas Trees

Our theme for this year is “…not even a mouse…”

Chalkboard Christmas tree

As in previous years, I googled the internet for images that would fit the theme. I searched < Christmas mice >, printed the images I liked and then edited those pictures for the final image.

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The chalkboard is first divided into the sections, with a vertical line for the tree trunk and horizontal lines for the branches. Then we tape up the pictures, move them around, move them again…till we’ve decided on the design we want.

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Each design is transferred to the chalkboard.

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Then the chalking begins. We decided to add popcorn and cranberry strings this year.

Chalkboard Christmas tree

Starting at the top…

Chalkboard Christmas tree

Chalkboard Christmas tree

Chalkboard Christmas tree

The bottom of the tree features Clark and Winston. Clark is being entertained with Christmas carols and Winston is napping with a little mouse napping on Winston’s head.

Chalkboard Christmas tree

Another year, another chalkboard Christmas tree. I wonder what next year’s theme will be?

Merry Christmas from all of us! ~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ november 20, 2017

Another busy week. My sister came back this weekend and we got a lot of Christmas prep done. We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” while we made popcorn and cranberry strings for the living room tree.

Popcorn and Cranberry Strings

Ski wanted to check it out.

Popcorn and Cranberry Strings

We decorated the candy/cookie tree for the top of the fridge. Genny found some LED lights in one of the storage boxes that were perfect for this little tree. They look like little pieces of sugared candy.

Candy and cookie Christmas tree

Today, I made Peanut Butter Cup Cookies for the Open House. They’re packed and on on their way to the freezer.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Here’s the menu for this week. Thanksgiving on Thursday!

Monday
Roast Chicken
Steamed Green Beans with Butter
Garden Salad

Tuesday
Taco Salad

Wednesday
Beef Stew

Thursday / Thanksgiving
I’m making a loaded cauliflower-brocooli casserole, dinner rolls, and a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cheesecake. We also have the Candy Turkey supplies ready!

Last year’s turkeys…the plate of cookies…not the twins…

Candy turkeys

Friday
Chicken and Cream Cheese Sauce in the Instant Pot

Saturday
Crock Pot Beef Stew

Sunday
Slow Cooker Pork and Cabbage

I hope Thanksgiving Day brings you great joy as you consider the wonderful blessings that enrich your life. We thank God for His everlasting love and faithfulness!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ november 13, 2017

We had a busy four-day weekend. My sister was here for the entire time, helping with Christmas prep. A friend came over on Saturday and put in hours of help with decorating Christmas trees and hanging snowflakes. She brought two of her helpful kids along to carry and tote and help as they could for an hour or so. Older Son and his wife were here all day Saturday, as well. And, of course, DH, who helps in so many ways. My grateful thanks to all of you!

The staircase, before the bows were added.

The staircase banister just needs the bows.

Out the kitchen windows…autumn outside…winter snowflakes inside…

Out the kitchen window.

The grands were here Thursday through Monday. We celebrated their tenth birthday!

tenth birthday!

Snow White did some decorating of her own. She used a piece of garland and some duct tape to make a tree. Then she decorated it with ornaments from the surrounding boxes and used pipe cleaners to make a star for the top!

My granddaughter fixed up her own little tree, using garland and ornaments she found.

She also gave me an award!

My granddaughter gave me an award.

The next few weeks will be busy. We are prepping for our annual Christmas Open House, which will be Sunday, December 3. There is still a lot of work to be done. We have six small trees to decorate and the two largest ones are not yet decorated. I am still putting lights on the “glass” tree. It has to be entirely redone. It had quite a few nonworking lights strings this year. I decided to start fresh with all new lights. A huge job, but it will look better when I’m done. If I had to give up all my trees but one, I would keep the glass tree.

Here is a picture of DH decorating the top of the glass tree last year.

glass tree

The front hall is packed with boxes and there are storage containers all over the house. Just part of the process. When it’s done, we will have all of December to relax and enjoy it.

For now, here is the menu for this week. I hope your menu is in place. Planning ahead makes mealtime much more simple than it is without a menu!

Monday
BBQ Baked Pork Steaks
Cauliflower and Broccoli with Cheese
Garden Salad

Tuesday
Fridge Food

Wednesday
Cheesy Burgers
Garden Salad
Dill Pickle Spears

Thursday
Alton Brown’s Pot Roast A family favorite!
Cauliflower and Broccoli Casserole

Friday
Chef Salad

Saturday
Beef Stew

Sunday
Roasted Lemon Chicken with Veggies
Garden Salad
Steamed Green Beans

~~Rhonda

three simply-styled putz houses

I listed three new Putz houses to Etsy this week.

ChristmasNotebook.etsy.com

These houses are in a simpler style than my usual Putz. I’ve had a few requests for less embellished houses and I am always happy to make houses in different styles. These houses were constructed earlier this year and emblellished a week or so ago.

The first one is a dark yellow and green house. Small gold bead strings decorate the two bottle brush trees and line the eaves of the roof.

Yellow and green Putz house

The green fence is a simple scalloped design.

Yellow and green Putz house

Yellow and green Putz house

The metal embellishment over the small upper window is a flattened bead cap. Isn’t it pretty with the light shining through it?

Yellow and green Putz house

This unusual color combination of country blue and coral is inspired by the picture on the base of this house. I enjoy using an unusual card for the bottom of the base. It’s an extra little surprise.

Country blue and coral Putz house

Country blue and coral Putz house

Love the little houses when they are glowing with light.

Country blue and coral Putz house

This dark red Putz with a green roof is one of my favorites. I love the classic Christmas colors and the little bead snowman in the front yard.

Red and green Putz house

He’s the perfect size.

Red and green Putz house

Red and green Putz house

Red and green Putz house

Red and green Putz house

If you are interested in constructing your own little Putz houses, follow this link to my tutorials. I am always happy to answer questions about the process.

Putz house tutorials

As always, 100% of the proceeds from my Etsy shop, and all other sales of my Putz and Christmas ornaments, support Kenya Mercy Ministries. These dedicated people serve children and their families who live in the largest slum in Africa.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ november 6, 2017

We had a busy weekend of Christmas decorating and baking! Genny is almost done with the chalkboard Christmas tree. I can’t wait to show you the whole thing! The theme is Christmas Mice. I’ll have pictures when it’s done.

One of the treats I made is an Open House favorite – Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

The weather has been cloudy and chilly. The sun poked through the clouds for about twenty minutes yesterday afternoon. DH and I took some time to get outside for a few minutes. The leaf color is beautiful!

The silver maple has the prettiest yellow leaves this year. I think this is the best color it has ever had.

Autumn

The Japanese maple is practically neon orange! Just beautiful!

Autumn

I love our hickory tree. Right now it is a glowing yellow. If the sun had continued to shine, this picture would have been even better.

Autumn

Even the hostas are looking beautiful.

Autumn

The menu for the week is as follows. We will have company Thursday through Sunday, helping with decorating for the Open House. Should be another busy weekend!

Monday
Fridge Food

Tuesday
Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche with Bacon

Wednesday
Chef Salad with Ham or Turkey

Thursday
Baked Chicken Parmesan
Asparagus
Garden Salad

Friday
Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole
Garden Salad

Saturday
Heat-Free Chili minus the beans

Sunday
BBQ Pork Steaks in the oven
Roasted Cabbage with Bacon
Garden Salad

~~Rhonda

Christmas card shadow boxes

I had a customer request for more Christmas card shadow boxes and spent some time this week working on new ones to list in my Etsy shop. They are always fun to make! Here are the ones I’ve finished in the past few days.

Santa delivers the goods…

Christmas card shadowbox

The decorations include a bottle brush tree decorated with a garland of green beads and tiny red ornaments. Holly leaves accent the shadow box.

Christmas card shadowbox

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

Christmas card shadowbox

Christmas card shadowbox

Christmas card shadowbox

Santa’s puppy

Christmas card shadowbox

This photo gives you a peek at the glitter that decorates the interior of the box. It’s hard to get a picture that does a good job of showing off the glitter.

Christmas card shadowbox

The shadow box is about an inch deep.

Christmas card shadowbox

I call this one “Christmas Eve Service.”

Christmas card shadowbox

It’s one of the smaller ones I made this week.

Christmas card shadowbox

Christmas card shadowbox

This shadow box, called “Dashing through the snow,” has already sold.

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Details include a ceramic bead snowman next to the bottlebrush tree.

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The customer asked if I could make a few small changes and I am always happy to comply with such a request. I removed the deer and replaced it with a small bottle brush tree and I covered the lettering to give the shadow box a more unified appearance.

Christmas card shadowbox

This afternoon, I plan to work on a few more, then I’ll be spending the weekend decorating for the Open House. My sister will be here to help and I’m looking forward to making good progress!

Visit my Etsy shop to see these and other available Christmas card shadow boxes, Putz houses and ornaments. ChristmasNotebook.etsy.com

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ october 30, 2017

This is a busy time of year for us. We are deep into Christmas prep. Because our annual Open House is the first Sunday in December, we need to have all our Christmas decorating done before that weekend. And, if you know anything about me at all, you know I love Christmas and, therefore, we do a LOT of Christmas decorating. In the past two years, we have cut down a bit, as we didn’t decorate the upstairs as we have for so many years. We had two daughters living at home at that time, and they didn’t care to have their rooms on the Open House “tour.” I also opened my Etsy shop in that time frame, and because I was very busy crafting for that, shipping orders, etc., it wasn’t a good time to have my craft room open to guests. All that to say, we are doing less decorating than in the past, but it’s still a lot of decorating! We will have 16 or 17 fully decorated Christmas trees downstairs. My favorite holiday! Did I tell you that…?

Ski kept an eye on the setting up of the living tree this week. DH brought all the trees down from the attic, so they ready and waiting for someone to add the decorations. We have surprisingly little tree “interference” from the cats than you might think. Thankfully none of them seem compelled to climb the Christmas trees.

Ski supervises the putting up of the living room tree.

My sister was down for the weekend, and she worked on the chalkboard tree. That tree takes hours and hours to do. But it is on the top five list for favorite Christmas decorations when our guests share their faves. Here’s a link to our previous chalkboard trees. Chalkboard trees

Chalkboard Christmas tree

While she worked on the chalkboard tree on Saturday, I worked in the same room, making Christmas Card Shadow Boxes for my Etsy shop. I had a request from a visitor to my shop for some shadow boxes with Santa and/or outdoor winter scenes. Happy to comply! I actually made 25 little boxes and today I will begin the process of embellishing them. I will have some posted to my Etsy shop in the next day or two. Here’s a post with some samples of ones I have made previously. Christmas Card Shadow Boxes

Christmas card shadow boxes

Lots to do, as I said, so I’ll post the week’s menu and get back to work!

Monday
Fridge Food

Tuesday
Creamy Tuscan Chicken
Garden Salad
Buttered Asparagus

Wednesday
Pulled Pork
Cheesy Broccoli and Cauliflower
Garden Salad

Thursday
Lemon Butter Salmon
Sauteed Zucchini and Summer Squash
Fried Mushrooms

Friday
Oven Roasted Kielbasa and Cabbage

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Roast Chicken
Stir Fried Sugar Snap Peas with Cherry Tomatoes
Garden Salad

That should keep us going this week! I hope your week’s menu is planned and ready to execute. It saves time, money and frustration when you have a plan!

~~Rhonda

teal and brown autumn putz house

This autumn Putz house is pretty in teal and brown.

Autumn Putz house`

I found this lovely autumn-themed greeting card in my collection of cards I’ve been gifted with by so many of my friends. It made the perfect base for my autumn Putz house. Thanks to everyone who has donated their used greeting and Christmas cards to me! Just FYI, I am always looking for more cards!

Autumn Putz house`

The pattern for this house is one I drew in 2012 from a picture of a vintage Putz house that I found online.

Vintage Putz house

The fence is made with natural twigs.

Autumn Putz house`

So cute with the light shining through the windows and door. The metal frame for the tiny window hole at the top of the house is made with a bead cap. I flattened it with a rubber hammer and glued it over the hole. Makes a great frame for a tiny window. Especially on a church.

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A Putz house starts with a little bit of poster board, some paint and glitter.

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I usually don’t have a plan for embellishments when I start a new house. I choose a card for the base, then choose a pattern for a house that will fit on it. I paint the house to match the greeting card. As I work on the Putz, the color dictates which embellishments I can use.

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This Autumn Putz house is posted in my Etsy shop. ChristmasNotebook.etsy.com

~~Rhonda

double-decker autumn putz house

This little house is one of my original designs. I drew the pattern in 2012 and it remains one of my favorites.

Autumn Putz house`

I decided this one would be an autumn Putz and found a card I could use for the base.

Autumn Putz house`

I drew inspiration from the colors of the card for the paint I used on the base and the house.

Autumn Putz. Ready to assemble.

After the house was constructed, it was time to pin and glue it to the base.

Autumn Putz house`

I added embellishments.

Autumn Putz house`

And a fence. I use decorative scissors to cut a lot of the fences I use. Here’s a link to a tutorial for making fences from poster board. Tutorial for making Putz fences

Autumn Putz house`

Done!

Autumn Putz house`

Copper-colored glitter added accents to the roof. And a poof of smoke lets you know someone is home!

Autumn Putz house`

Close-up of the details.

Autumn Putz house`

Beaming with light, the little house beckons you in.

Autumn Putz house`

I hope you enjoyed this little autumn Putz. It was fun to make. I will be posting it to my Etsy shop later today. ChristmasNotebook.etsy.com

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ october 23, 2017

This past weekend, I and my sisters and our sister-in-law got together for Sisters’ Weekend at our Dad’s house and made 197 dozen Christmas cookies and candies. We had the excellent help of our great-niece who loves to bake and loves to help. Our two brothers take platters of Christmas goodies to their customers each year. This year, we decided to help out and take the load off the shoulders of the few people who have provided the delicious goodies in the past.

Sisters' Weekned

We all brought some things made ahead of time, and we baked a lot more over the weekend. Here’s a small part of all the wonderful things we made…

Sisters' Weekned

I spent the night at Older Son’s house last Thursday to sit with the grands and then spent Friday through Sunday at Dad’s house. I had a wonderful time both places, but am glad to be home and back to my daily routine. I have a lot of Christmas baking of my own to do, lots of Christmas prep, and, of course, the continued work of creating stock for my Etsy shop.

Here’s the menu for the week.

Monday
Homemade Chicken Soup

Tuesday
Bacon Cream Cheese Cheddar Chicken
Asparagus
Garden Salad

Wednesday
Cheesy Burgers
Dill Pickles
Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Thursday
Fridge Food

Friday
Spicy Shredded Pork
Roasted Cabbage with Bacon

Saturday
Taco Salad

Sunday
Baby Back Ribs
Garden Salad
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I hope you have your weekly menu planned! It’s a great way to save time and frustration during these busy days!

~~Rhonda