67 days till Christmas

How do you feel about that?? Only 67 days till Christmas…doesn’t seem so far away, does it? Especially when one thinks about what has to be done between now and then. Time to get your Christmas Notebooks out and get started!

planning for Christmas

At our house, we start early. We have an annual Open House on the first Sunday in December each year. We put up a lot of decorations and a lot of trees. So, yes, we usually start decorating in October. My sister Genny comes down and gives us a tremendous amount of help each year. I always look forward to getting started!

Last weekend, Genny came and we officially began in the smaller guest room upstairs. This room has a white iron bed, a white country-style armoire and a clean lined, antique, walnut dresser from DH’s side of the family. Though I would prefer to give this room a more relaxed, woodsy, traditional theme, the room has a Victorian style tree. Maybe next year, we’ll switch it up. Right now, we’re on the “get it done” schedule, so the tree we have is the tree we will use. The room used to have a large four poster bed and an ornate antique wardrobe. The Victorian theme was a better fit then. But furniture tends to play musical chairs in our house. During the past few years, our three girls have switched rooms, left home for their own apartments, etc. Now that we seem more settled upstairs, I can decide on better themes for each room. Something to work on during the year, though, not during decorating season.

I had hoped to get the kitty border taken down last summer and the room repainted, but it didn’t get done. Perhaps next summer. The walls are a pale blue and the ceiling a soft yellow. The quilt hanging behind the bed is one I made years ago. It has twenty blocks with a different red Christmas print in each block. I searched quilt stores in three states to get enough different prints. It seems there is more variety available now. Or perhaps it’s just easier to find with the internet available.

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As a side note…the iron bed and the other one we have, came from my husband’s family farm. He said they had been stored in the barn for forty or more years. They had been moved to the machine shed for a number of years when we decided to bring them home. I sent them to an auto body repair shop and they sandblasted the beds, then painted them white. The simple designs were beautifully outlined with the white. Here is a picture from 2009 of the other bed.

Christmas open house

The smaller bedroom contains the staircase to the attic, so we gave the banister a little garland treatment. The white ball on the newel post is a light. There’s a little chain pull on the side of it. When kids discover that, they get so excited! On, off, on, off, on, off!

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The Victorian tree is a seven foot, slender tree. We place it on a round table to give it height. The room has a twelve foot ceiling.

Victorian tree

I used gauzy ribbon to tie the bead garland loops to the branches. Those beads are never coming off. They make it to the attic and back down again year after year without having to be redone.

Victorian Tree

Last weekend, after Genny left, my middle daughter and I decorated this tree in the upstairs hall. It holds pictures of our children and grandchildren from Christmases past. The beads for this tree are necklaces the girls have collected at parades in the area. We drape them on the tree, from limb to limb. They make a colorful addition to the tree.

Upstairs hall tree

This weekend, we worked in the downstairs bedroom. This room is in the 1960 addition to the house, so the ceilings are eight feet here. The tree features silver and blue ornaments, some Putz houses, and a sprinkle of icicles. The topper is a variety of picks that are poked into the top of the tree. The silver bead garland and the LED lights stay on the tree during storage. To keep the beads on the tree, I turn the tip of the branch back over the garland and that holds it in place. We are blessed with a third floor attic with plenty of room to store our trees upright. DH puts a large plastic tree bag over them to keep the dust off while they are in the attic. This tree was highlighted with silver spray paint. More about that at this link: Thanks, HGTV!

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We need to decide what we’re going to do on the top of the bookcase behind the tree. On the top shelf of the bookcase, our Heartwood Creek nativity is displayed. It went on top the book case last year, but we might do something different this year, leaving the nativity where it is.

To the left of the blue and silver tree, we placed the two pieces I have of a Christmas village that was going to be produced for the town I grew up in. Only these two pieces were made, the county courthouse and the county jail, then the idea was scrapped for some reason. This picture is from last year. Looks just the same this year. :)

bedroom dresser

The white Putz tree is also in this bedroom. I confess I left it up all year because I liked it so much. It just needs a little tweaking. Read more about this tree and the little Putz houses at this link: The Putz Tree.

To the left of the Putz tree is a lowboy dresser on which I display some vintage Putz buildings. The houses were given to me by my daughter-in-law.

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Above the lowboy hangs an antique post office mailbox cubbyhole shelf. My older daughter brought me a box of vintage bubble lights a year ago and I display them on top the cubby.

vintage bubble lights

DH brought down all the Christmas storage boxes for the addition, which includes the bedroom, the hall, the laundry room and the bathroom. Genny and I decorated the garden tree in the bathroom, and the rest of the addition is waiting to be done. There are a couple of cardinals to add to the garden tree, but we haven’t put them on yet. Again, a picture from a previous year, but looks the same this year. We may forego the poinsettias this year, though.

garden tree in the downstairs bath

That’s what we’ve accomplished so far! I’ll keep you posted. There may be 67 days until Christmas Day, but we have only 48 days left to prepare for the Open House!

~~Rhonda

the grands came by

What a beautiful fall day we had this Friday. After several days of rain and cold winds, we enjoyed a perfect autumn day. The windows were open, the breeze was rustling through the big oak tree, and the sunlight poured from a blue blue sky and danced off the red-crowned dogwood at the kitchen door.

I was happy to see the twins come by with their mom this afternoon. They came over to cheer me up as I’m still feeling sad about losing my kitty Zak. We had a good time visiting. The first thing they did was construct a pirate ship using cardboard boxes and tubes, duct tape and paper. They used two boxes so there was room for them both. I wish I had taken a picture of the finished product with the girls in it. Lots of “Argh!” and “Hoist the mailsail!”

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My daughter-in-law, bless her, volunteered to straighten the pantry for me. We have a large pantry, by the way. A big job. While she did that, the twins and I dipped marshmallows in candy coating to make “candy corn” marshmallows. Then they moved on to making marshmallow ghosts. A couple of candy coating dots made eyes. Before the coating dried, they stuck heart-shaped cookie decorations on the dots, declaring, “the ghosts are in love!” After the eyes and the candy coating mouth dried, they spread candy coating hair over the tops.

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The girls also dipped big marshmallows in orange to make pumpkins. They put green heart-shaped sprinkles on top for leaves.

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The smaller marshmallow below is a regular sized one. The “candy corn” ones turned out very cute. The girls left this one for Pa. And the large marshmallow was one they started for their sister and then the orange candy coating was put away before it got dipped, so they left that one here. Didn’t want an unfinished one! Hopefully, they shared one of the candies they took home with Sissy.

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All in all, a fun afternoon. I’m so glad they came.

Genny came down this evening. We will be decorating the blue and silver Christmas tree tomorrow. Pictures when we’re done!

~~Rhonda

memories of Zak

My cat Zak passed away yesterday. He was a sweet cat, gentle and loving. I am going to miss him a great deal. A friend suggested I share some memories, so I thought I’d write a blog post about Zak. He was a people cat. He was always happy to meet new people and would ask to sit on anyone’s lap. But he loved me best and would abandon everyone else if I called his name or talked to him. Zak was a chatty cat. You could carry on an entire conversation with him, if you wanted to. He’d “talk” back as long as you wanted to talk to him.

Zak

Zak came to us in 2006. He was just a kitten.

Zak

We got two cats from the same litter. Zak and his sister Zilli.

Zak and Zilli

He was very loving and extremely patient with children. I always thought he would have been a perfect nursing home cat. He loved being with people and was so easy-going. Ready to be friends with anyone who happened by.

autumn afternoon

grooming Zak

Zak loved being outside. In any season.

Zak, catching the last rays of sunshine

He was a great moler. Our yard was practically mole free when Zak had access to the outdoors.

Zak in the garden

I love this picture, taken by our middle daughter, of Zak enjoying the winter snow.

Zak chasing shadows

When we worked in the garden or walked the yard, Zak would follow us, watching what we were doing, waiting for us to move on…

Zak in the hosta garden

Zak

Zak preferred his food from the stash rather than the bowl, if the lid was left open.

can't wait his turn

Last fall, Zak developed an infection in a toe on his right rear leg. The vet thought he had been bit by a poisonous spider. The infection could not be cured. After almost two months of fighting it, then removing two toes, with no resolution, Zak’s leg had to be removed. After that, he had to stay indoors. I feared for his safety outdoors when he wasn’t able to run as fast as he used to. We have resident foxes and I was concerned about them chasing Zak.

three legged Zak

Being slower on his feet didn’t slow him down when playing, though. He was always ready to chase a string or catch the “fishing” line.

Losing a leg didn't slow Zak pdown when it came time to play.

Zak had a second bout of kidney issues this past weekend. Monday we took him to the vet. Yesterday we were informed that Zak had passed away while under anesthia while a procedure was being performed. DH brought Zak home, wrapped him in his favorite fuzzy blanket and buried him under the birdbath in my fenced garden. It was a favorite vantage point of his.

Zak in the fenced garden birdbath

Pets are a gift from God. They teach us love, patience and the value of companionship. I’m thankful Zak was a part of our family.

I will always miss you, Zackers.

peeking

~~Rhonda

Christmas shadow box…embellishments start to finish

This box was one I liked a lot. It had two large white trees, one on each side, framing the mill pond and the skaters. I glittered the box with silver glitter glue inside and out (one side at a time) and let that dry. Then I covered the trees with a larger white glitter so they would stand out.

Christmas shadow box

I used a small hole punch to punch holes on the top of the box to pull the hanging cord through. I began embellishing the box by adding white branches to the sides to bring out the snow theme.

Christmas shadow box

Layering the embellishments gives the box more depth.

Christmas shadow box

After I hot glued the cording, I wanted to cover the glue on the inside of the top of the box, so I added some branches there.

Christmas shadow box

Silver branches added more sparkle. Then I hot glued a pretty trim around the edge of the box.

Christmas shadow box

I added silver branches to the top of the box and had them hang over the edge just a bit. A little dab of hot glue held them in place. A few white branches tied in the other embellishments and a bit of silver and white in the center finished it off.

By the time I finished the embellishments, the white trees on the card didn’t show up as much as I had hoped, but I do like the way the box turned out.

Skate date

Follow this link for a tutorial on making Christmas card shadow boxes.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ october 13, 2014

I’m sitting in the craft room (second floor) looking over the back yard as it rains, rains, rains. There have been several tornado and severe thunderstorms watches. Also, a tornado warning about an hour north of us. We’re staying tuned to our alert apps. So thankful for the ease of keeping up with the weather.

Our middle daughter is sewing her first quilt top. Her kitty Zilli is supervising.

quilting

I am just across the counter, doing some computer work, including this Menu Plan Monday post. I was just able to squeeze my computer between craft projects. Time to clear the counter again!

Time to clear the counter again.

The rainy weather puts me in the mood for soup. The chicken is in the crockpot for tonight’s meal. Smells good already!

Monday
Chicken and Noodles
Cornbread

Wampanoag Cornbread

Tuesday
Tacos

Wednesday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Baby Baked Potatoes
Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

baby baked potatoes

Thursday
Cheesy Potato Sausage Soup

cheesy potato sausage soup

Friday
Baked Penne with Chicken
Garden Salad
Roasted Asparagus

Penne with Chicken

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Homemade Sauce
Garden Salad
Garlic Bread with Cheese
Peas and Corn

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

decoupaged Christmas card ornaments

I’ve been crafting my way through a lot of old Christmas cards lately. I am grateful to all who have donated used cards for my crafts. I’m always looking for more. If you have some you want to be rid of, send them over!

The Christmas card shadow boxes have been a lot of fun. I have at least twenty more cards made into boxes, glittered and ready to embellish. After this weekend, I will get back into the craft room and make more boxes. I’ll post some later this week.

My sister came down this weekend to help us with the official start of Christmas decorating. We finished the Victoria tree and most of the decorating in the smaller guest room where the Victorian tree is placed. The upstairs hall tree and boxes came down from the attic, also. But, of course!, the hall tree needs a string of lights replaced. We’ll do that this next week and get that tree decorated, too. Pictures soon!

Another project I am using the old cards for are decoupaged ornaments. I peel the front of the card and use that to decorate a glass ball. Here are a few examples:

Snowbear
Front:

Christmas card ornaments

Back:

Christmas card ornaments

Christmas Angel
Front:

Christmas card ornaments

Back:

Christmas card ornaments

Chickadee Greetings
Front:

Christmas card ornaments

Back:

Christmas card ornaments

I have started a tutorial to show how to make the round ornaments. It will take a while to finish the post, but stay tuned. I hope to have it up in the next week or so. Much to do between now and then!

~~Rhonda

twin time

The girls were here last weekend and we had a great time, as usual.

Snow White found an electric candle we use in the window at Christmas time. She and Rose Red played with it for almost half an hour. Who knew an electric candle could be so much fun!?

Fun with an electric candle.

Pa helped them make plaster of Paris casts of their hands as a gift for me. They loved doing that and then enjoyed showing me how the molds fit their hands.

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The girls have been fascinated by the Christmas shadow boxes I’ve been making.

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I helped them make their own. They picked out their own cards and made the boxes.

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Then they spread the glitter glue. They were patient with having to wait between inside and outside coats while the glue dried.

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They picked out embellishments, with just a little editing from Ma.

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Rose Red is especially interested in crafting, creating with paper, scissors and glue, etc. She was in her element!

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They were so happy with the results that we ended up making another set of boxes.

They designed their own shadow boxes...picked the card, glittered the boxes, and picked out the embellishments. They are very proud of what they created...with a little help from Ma.

Children seem to find it easy to take great pleasure in the moment. They’re not worried about the past, not dwelling on the future. Maybe that is part of what makes grands so much fun.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ october 7, 2014

I guess it’s Menu Plan “Tuesday,” this week. I’ve been very busy crafting ornaments and didn’t take time to plan a menu on Monday. Here are a few of my favorite ornaments from the past few days.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Eve

Stopping by woods on a snowy eve

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

O, Come Let Us Adore Him

O, Come Let Us Adore Him!

Have a Beary, Bunny Christmas! …couldn’t stop myself…

Have a beary, bunny Christmas... Sorry...couldn't help myself.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Snow White and Rose Red were here for the weekend and they made their own Christmas shadow boxes…with a little help from Ma…

They designed their own shadow boxes...picked the card, glittered the boxes, and picked out the embellishments. They are very proud of what they created...with a little help from Ma.

And now back to menu planning…

Monday
Take-out

Tuesday
Baked Pork Steaks
We didn’t eat together…I was crafting, DD was away for the evening, and DH was watching the Cardinals win another game!

Wednesday
Pork Loin Roast in the Crock Pot
With Carrots and Potatoes
Garden Salad

Thursday
Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Fresh Bread, toasted

Friday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Stir Fried Cabbage and Garlic
Sliced Tomatoes

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce
Garden Salad
Garlic Bread

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

Christmas card shadow boxes

I’ve had a lot of fun the past few weeks working on little shadow boxes made from Christmas cards. Follow this link to a tutorial for making the boxes. I’ve learned a few things since I posted the tutorial. First a few tips, then a few samples of what I’ve been doing.

I now make the box tabs folded to the top and the bottom of the box, instead of to the sides. And I don’t cut them short most of the time. I think leaving the entire tab makes the box a bit stronger.

The way I do it now, with tabs on top and bottom:

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The way I did it before with tabs on the sides:

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I also am making most of the holes to hold the hanging cord with a punch instead of a pin or an awl. It makes a nice smooth hole.

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The pin method. Works fine.

Christmas card shadow box

My handy dandy awl. Also works well. I don’t remember where I found this tool, but I do love it. Comes in handy for a lot of different uses.

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In the tutorial, I glued the beaded string around the outside of the box.

Christmas card shadow box

After making a couple of dozen boxes, I decided it looks better with the edge of the box covered. My small multi-temp glue gun puts out a small bead of glue without dripping while it rests. Perfect for edging the boxes with trim.

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Chickadees in the snow

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This is one of my favorites. Over the river and through the woods…

Over the river and through the woods...

Good tidings of great joy!

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Christmas Cardinal

Winter cardinal  Christmas card shadow box

Happy snowman

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Sledding snowmen

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Sweet nativity

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Another nativity

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My dear friend Marsha came to visit on Tuesday and we made shadow boxes. I have quite a few card boxes made, and will be embellishing them soon. More to come!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ september 29, 2014

It’s been a busy week. DD and I made three kinds of truffles and candy acorns for a fall themed wedding. It was fun and I am so grateful for my daughter’s help.

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It did put me in the mood to get started on Christmas goodies for the freezer! It’s that time of year! Before you know it, we’ll be seeing lots of these!

Christmas Open House

The menu for the week is planned as follows.

Monday
Homemade Pizza

sooo good!

Tuesday / company coming! My dear friend Marsha and her husband Paul are coming for the day. MJ and I will be crafting. Pablo will be doing some carpentery work for us. Can’t wait to show you his project!

Chicken Tortellini Soup
Corn Bread

Wampanoag Cornbread

Wednesday
Grilled Pork Steaks
Grilled Potatoes and Carrots
Garden Salad

Thursday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Stir Fried Cabbage and Garlic

Friday
Crock Pot Turkey Tetrazzini
Sliced Tomatoes
Lima Beans
Garlic Bread

turkey tetrazinni

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Garden Salad

I hope you take time to plan your week’s menu. It saves a lot of anxiety and last minute shopping (which always costs more!), and you’ll feel good knowing you are prepared! More menu and recipe ideas can be found at Menu Plan Monday. Check it out!

~~Rhonda