Handmade For The Holidays

This year, like everything else, I'm keeping the handmade gifts simple. 

I made several felted snowflakes. They come together so fast. This may look like a complicated project, but the pattern is easy to follow, and if you understand the basics of crochet, you're all set.
I would love to make enough of these to decorate the tree next year. 

I used the patterns found here.

When we hit the road this year, I plan to bring along my crochet materials and a couple of cute holiday patterns.

I'd like to share one more handmade holiday project...let's see if I can make that happen. Time is running out!
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Update On Natalie's Room

This room is the very definition of a compromise. Our taste in decor is very different. She likes teal, zebra print, and plenty of posters. That sounds like a lovely room for a girl her age, as it should be. So that is probably where this story will end, until she asks for my input in a matter of months.

Why spend money and time creating a room that she doesn't love? I read plenty (too many...) decorating and DIY blogs, and it always makes me sad to see a blogger create a ridiculous bedroom for her child just for the sake of content, when the end result isn't even kid-friendly. I want my kids to love their rooms, even if that bedroom isn't worthy of Pinterest. Because this is real life and I have real kids. If Natalie doesn't love her room then what is the point?

I shared several ideas with Natalie, but what she wants is a room that she has created for herself, and I have to respect that. She spends a lot of time in her room, and keeps it clean and organized and super cute. I have no complaints, and I love going into her room and seeing the pride she feels in her space. She is a nester too, unlike her brother, who spends as little time in his room as possible. He could live happily out of a drawer. That little dude is another story for another day. 

We changed the color of her walls, and that made her very happy. Pink to turquoise. We relocated the black headboard from the guest room. 

We hung her favorite posters, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. You won't see that on Remodelista. I love Remodelista, but Natalie loves Taylor Swift.

We updated her furniture arrangement, and organized her closet and precious belongings. We changed the curtains. She still needs a more functional desk. I'm checking CraigsList regularly for the perfect desk for us to fix up together.  

She would not love this room any more if I hung a beautiful grid of Rifle Paper Co. prints in perfectly coordinated frames. Nor would she appreciate an expensive upholstered headboard.

Animal heads and chevron are all the rage in blogland, but she is not interested. 

She would not be happy with white walls and bohemian decor. 

But I did make one final change, and it got her seal of approval along with hugs & kisses. 

I love her room because it is a reflection of her, and she is pretty amazing. 
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Decorating For The Holidays

This year I'm keeping the decor simple, with a focus on nature. The red berries above came from a bush along the side of the house. Owen and I went hunting for branches and berries yesterday after school. I'm so grateful that we have nature all around us in this home.

I love traditional red and plaid accents.

The branches gathered in the back yard were added to the mantle.

The wooden beaded garland is my favorite find this year. 

Minne loves sleeping under the tree. She has to know it isn't real, right? This "focus on nature" ends where the tree is concerned. I do prefer a fake tree. Sorry Mother Nature.

I'm not quite done. The tree is still a work in progress, and today I'm making pillows. But I'm really happy with the direction we're headed! 
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Thanksgiving In Review And On To Christmas

I took some much needed time off after Thanksgiving to enjoy the holiday with family, and get my wits about me to prepare for Christmas.  

It's not often that my husband's entire immediate family gathers in one place at the same time. We hosted his Mom, two sisters, brother-in-law, three nephews, and one niece. I love having family with us for the holidays. Over the years we've had a few sad holidays without family, just our sweet little family of five. Of course we aim to make each holiday a memorable event for the kids, but it's just not as much fun without extra people there to celebrate, and the kids usually announce their boredom by 10:00 a.m. They look at us sideways when we suggest they watch the parade. Apparently any excitement around the Macy's parade died in my generation. 

So we were thankful to have family with us this year.  I loved watching Jason and his sisters recount the trouble fun they had during their high school and college years. May our kids not create that mayhem for us. Jason's poor Mother. He turned out just fine, but what a trouble maker. :)

It was really nice to see the cousins playing together, making memories.  Of course I think back on playing with my cousins at my own family holiday parties. There were often 11-14 of us, and Grandma Kendall's house was not that big. 

This year the kids were seated in the dining room, an old-fashioned kids' table in a separate room. We covered the table with white paper and each kid drew his/her own place-setting. 

This art melts my Mommy/Auntie heart.

While my husband's family was staying with us we made a point of taking plenty of family pictures.

That is one justifiably proud Matriarch.

From those images I created our Christmas cards, not the one above, obviously. They're ordered, now let's see of I can get them in the mail before the post office closes on December 24th.  

We dragged the Christmas decor, all 18 totes, out of storage shortly after everyone left. We made cocoa, put on a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, and assembled the Christmas tree.

The tree has already been relocated. I had second thoughts and rearranged the living room. And the rest of the house has been hit by the magical wand of Christmas. So I have plenty to share this upcoming week!

I can't finish without mentioning another exciting event - I was delighted that Sarah from Thrifty Decor Chick shared my dining room on her blog. She is a legend in Home DIY blogging, and I am honored!
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The Plan

Pretty standard fare, nothing too wild about this menu, except it is seriously lacking in veggies. But there is always a crudite platter to munch on before dinner, right next to the olives & pickles.

This is the second year I'm attempting my grandmother's scalloped corn. Last year it was delicious, but it wasn't very much like Grandma's. Her corn recipe was thick and custardy, and I know there were eggs, but that is the extent of my knowledge. Most of the recipes include corn bread, and I don't remember a corn bread taste or texture. We'll see how it turns out this year.

One of my sisters-in-law is making rolls from scratch. I need to watch how she does this. Someday I'll conquer my fear of yeast. (it's ALIVE, people!)

My other sister-in-law will probably tackle the green bean casserole, because she nailed it during her last visit.

My mother-in-law is making a family recipe for the dressing, and the famous Stevens noodles. These noodles are so yummy - a traditional Belgian recipe that she learned from her own MIL many years ago. 

Jason is in charge of the turkey and ham. He fries the turkey every year, after brining and injecting flavor. Oh yes, this is serious business. I can't express how much I appreciate being able to focus on the side dishes and leave the main dish in his capable hands. 

And this year I decided to tackle coconut cream pie, which is brand new for me. Pumpkin pie might as well be made of canned cat food, because no one goes near it in this house. I'd rather make something that will be eaten.

Add a couple of appetizers, some fun cocktails, a few bottles of wine, the obligatory football game, and we're looking forward to a great holiday with family!
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The Lounge II

The new sofa arrived as planned last Friday. These large purchases make me sick with nerves. We've made a few furniture-buying blunders in the past, and it just makes your heart sink to realize you really don't like the thing you invested hope and money in. 

But that is not the case with this guy. We found a keeper.

We are still playing with the arrangement. Someday I'll find a coffee table I like enough to replace the trunk. And the hubby would like a set of ottomans to go with the chairs. But we're in no rush to buy more furniture before we know what we want and need.

Snuggles this morning before school.

The material has a great midcentury texture, rather than a discount furniture store feel. 

One more gratuitous shot of Minne sleeping? Oh, alright.

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We Finally Started Natalie's Room

This girl is about to celebrate a birthday.

Oh that sweet face!
Other than the gorgeous blonde hair, and the height she inherited from her father, she is my mini-me. At her age I was shorter, chunkier, and I had the baddest mullet in all of Yates county. 

Despite those differences, Natalie is the child most like me, delightful personality quirks and all. 

This Halloween...dressed as a hippie
In our former home, her room was the first to receive any attention, and Ella's was never really finished. So in the current home, to be fair, there were a few projects to complete before I was able to concentrate on her room. And it's worth noting that her room in this house was already really cute, just not exactly her taste. 

Before: pink walls and black & white curtains, no real plan or design on our part yet.

Natalie has a signature color, and although I've tried to convince her to consider other colors, she sticks with turquoise/teal. I really wanted to design her new room around plum/purple, but she wouldn't hear of it. Blushy pink? Nope. 

Onward with teal then! A word about the teal that we settled on, Valspar Alpine. It is three shades brighter than I would have chosen and three shades more subtle than she wanted. We were at an impasse but settled on this color after much debate and mutual concession. 

This room is another (practically) zero-cost project. We have everything we need on hand, but may switch out a desk or chair, a night stand, or paint a dresser. The biggest impact came with wall color and (eventually) curtains. And we definitely need a good afternoon of purging and organizing.

Yesterday I painted. I started listening to the Serial Podcast from the beginning. I've heard so much about it. Before I knew it the whole room was painted, the sun was setting, and I felt like I'd lost a day of my life. I hadn't showered or eaten. But her room was painted and I had listened all eight episodes. Weird.

So this is what the room looks like now, at half-done status.

Truthfully, I don't love the zebra rug. I'm not a fan of zebra. I'm sure they are lovely animals, but I don't love the whole effect in design. It's just a personal preference. But she desperately loves this rug and a coordinating blanket, so who am I to keep these harmless things from her?

This week I will figure out the curtain situation, and a few other details: memo board, dresser refresh, wall decor, etc. But she is happy and excited to get back in there once the paint fumes go away. And I am happy to focus my attention on her in time for her birthday and before the holidays take over. 
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