Valentine’s Day Dinner {Fun Family Tradition}

A few years back a friend of mine shared with me one of their family traditions.  She told me that once they had kids they stopped going out for Valentine’s Day, but rather spent Valentine’s evening at home with the family.  But, she made it special.  She got out the good china, and crystal and silver.  She made the table up fancy and had everyone ‘get dressed’ for dinner.  I loved this idea and started doing it myself.  We don’t go to a lot of fancy dinners or even nice dinners with the whole family, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to teach the kids how to behave in these situations.  Because baseball season has begun, we had our dinner a day late last night.  

 

 

This year I decided to not drag out my china.  I wanted to use my red chargers, so I decided to purchase some plain white plates from the dollar store.  These goblets are from the dollar store as well – this way if something gets broken it’s no big deal.  

 

 

The rest of the decorations cost all of $5.  Tissue paper poms hung from the ceiling fan.  

 

The vases are filled with shiny basket filler, and a candle. 
 I cut a heart from felt for the center of each plate.  

 

Simple but festive.  🙂  Have a great weekend!!
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Heart Day Mantel

The rain here today has been refreshing to my soul.  It is such a glorious sight and sound!!  We were under a tornado watch when I woke up this morning which is always fun, but hey.  So, instead of doing the painting I had planned on doing today.  I decided to work on some Valentine decor.  I don’t usually decorate for Valentine’s Day but I have to confess my mantel has been bare since Christmas came down and I was finally tired of looking at the emptiness.  Sometimes for me emptiness is good for a while – cleansing maybe.  Anywho….I have seen so many cute things floating around the blog world so I decided “why not”.  Here is the big picture.  

 

I spent around $5 a couple of weeks ago on some cute variegated yarn and started making some hearts – following instructions that I found here.  If you can crochet, these are very simple and quick.  (And, by the way, if you start to crochet something and forget how to do a stitch because you haven’t done it in a long time – youtube is your friend.)

 

Aren’t they cute??  When I had all the hearts I wanted I decided I wanted to make a garland so I made a chain using a large hook and double strand of yarn.  Then I very carefully (not) tied the hearts to the chain in a somewhat symmetrical pattern.
 
I also purchased some felt pieces in pink, red, purple, and white of course.  I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with them until I started putting things together today.  And this is what I came up with.  You may have seen something similar with paper doily hearts, but I didn’t have any of those and today was all about using things I already had.  

 

 

I have been scared to try the whole chalkboard writing thing.  Because I don’t think my handwriting is that good.  I tried several tricks that I found here and there and none of them worked – probably because I was doing them wrong.  So, I just decided to take the leap.  I started with this 

 

 

and ended with this.  

 

 

Not too bad I think.  I added some ribbon to the frame to dress it up a bit.  I have had this chalkboard hanging in my kitchen forever.  Sometimes with a verse, sometimes with a list, sometimes with a schedule, sometimes with a menu.  It has served many purposes, and all the while with that plain store-bought frame.  🙂
 
The last piece of the puzzle was another pinterest find.  I have seen several different versions of these with all different sorts of words.  I am in love!!  I had the frames and the paper in my craft closet – I just picked and font and sent the paper through my printer.  

 

 

Here is a side tip that maybe you already know.  How to remove sticker residue.  These frames had been sitting in the closet for over a year with the price stickers still on them.  So, when I got ready to take them off, of course they did not come off easy.  So, baby oil and a cotton ball (and some elbow grease) to the rescue.  Tear off as much as you can by hand and then rub over the spot with the cotton ball coated in baby oil.  
 
In just a minute or two it will all be gone!!  Way better than killing your fingernails trying to scrape it off!!
 
I love the finished mantel and that it was cheap.  
 
Things have been crazy busy around here lately and I don’t see any signs of it letting up anytime soon, so I was happy for the rain as an excuse to stay in and do some crafting!!

Linking up at Our Fifth House today.  Lots of fun Valentine’s day projects over there to check out!
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Christmas Home Tour 2012

Praying for continued peace and comfort for the families in CT.  Still, no words.  Still trying to process.  Just trying to stop the clock and hold onto the moments that are given each day.
Today I am sharing the touches of Christmas around my home this year.
You may have already seen my mantle here.

 

And you may have seen my nativities here.

 

 

And my tree here.

 

Learn more about this beauty here, and here is what it looks like now – 16 days in.
Here are some other touches of Christmas decor from around the house.

 

My husband commented that it was the “year of the ribbon”.  I bought this ribbon last year after Christmas and I love it, and I did put it everywhere 🙂

 

I couldn’t leave without showing you two of my kids trees.  The little sad tree on the left belongs to my 17yr old.  That’s about as Christmasy as he was getting this year 🙂
The one on the right is my daughters.  She loves decorating just as much as I do 🙂

 

I want to leave you with this picture.  I’ve said it before but I’m saying it again.  This is the reason we celebrate CHRISTmas, because Christ is born.  This is what I have hanging on my front door.  Simple with a little sparkle that lets everyone know what’s going on inside our home.
Merry Christmas everyone!!
Linking up to these fun parties, check them out for beautiful Christmas decor.
 
 
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Our Christmas Tree 2012

It’s Christmas tree share day!!
I have never been a matchy – matchy kind of girl when it came to my Christmas tree.  I love them and I think they look beautiful, but that decor never worked out for me.  When we were first married we hardly had enough ornaments to cover the front of the tree, and didn’t really have the cash to spend on a treeful of ornaments.  Each year I would add a few cuties during after-Christmas sales, and my collection slowly grew.  We have held to the tradition of purchasing a family ornament each year, some describing what was going on that year, and others that were personalized with names and year.  Sometimes we include the kids in the picking out and other times we just make it easy and
do it ourselves, because 2 heads are most often better than 6 :).
And then, we had children who began bringing home these adorable hand-made ornaments which I adore.
As my kids are all older now, new ornaments come fewer and fewer each year.  And, I come apart a little more each time I pull them out and gaze out these precious smiles and cheeks, and those little hands.  Where has the time gone??
As a matter of fact, the kids decorated the entire tree by themselves this year.  They really do love doing it, and it takes no time at all.  I turned on the Christmas music and unpacked the tins and they went to work.
I was unsure how it would work this year.  Because unlike those starting out years we have lots of ornaments now, because I still shop those after-Christmas sales.  Here is what my stash looks like all stored up.
Yep, those are old popcorn tins that I cleaned out and used for storage 😉  And here is my frustration…
See, my wonderful hubby had purchased this wonderfully awesome 9.5 ft pre-lit slim tree at an after-Christmas sale about 8 years ago for $35.  Yes, $35.  He called me and told what he had found and said “should I get it, is that a good deal??”  and I quickly said “YES!!”  Now I kinda wish I would’ve said “get two!!”  Because when I got this beauty out and fluffed and plugged in – only half the lights worked.  So, then I thought – ‘I can fix it’ – and proceeded to try – and then decided it wasn’t worth it.  So, I then pulled out our old 7.5 ft tree that I had kept thinking I would someday put up two trees and decided to use that.  So, I wasn’t sure that all the ornaments from the 9.5 ft tree would fit on the 7.5 ft tree – but the kids, they made them fit.  The tree is full, and I mean full or ornaments.  I love it!!
Here’s another look
Glorious imperfection is perfect to me 🙂
Oh, and if you are wondering, the tree skirt was a tablecloth that I got at an after-Christmas sale at Target, several years ago that I transformed – cost much less than a store bought skirt.
I wish I could keep the tree up all year long.  It just make me happy looking at it, twinkling lights and precious ornaments.
Linking up today at
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Lots O Gifts

Do you have a large group of people you need to get gifts for?  Employees, neighbors, teachers, co-workers, friends.  How do you keep it fair?  How do you do it without breaking the bank?  How do you make it personal?  I may have told you that I am the director of our church’s mother’s day out.  I have 27 employees that I buy gifts for.  This is quite overwhelming for me.  So, how do I do it?
My first tip would be set a budget, an overall max budget and a per person budget.  This makes it easy to narrow the gift down, and keeps you from breaking the bank.
My second tip – taken from directors past – is to buy everyone the same thing.  This eliminates a lot of stress of trying to find 27 individual gift that fit the person and that stay within your budget.
Third – find a way to make it personal.
Fourth – pay attention to the presentation.
The first two are pretty self-explanatory, but the last two take a little more thought.  Here is what I came up with this year {and yes, we had our Christmas party a couple of days ago so they have all already received their gifts}.

 

I started with a stack of CD’s {check out the title *JOY*!!}
And some silver ornaments + some sparkle
The ornaments are the unbreakable kind for crafting, and the sparkle came from the scrapbooking section – stickers.
So, the first step was to apply the stickers – lovely, blingy, initials.  This was my way of making the gift personal this year.
Second, I tied some bows.  I have used this sheer ribbon for years – no wire but it looks pretty no matter what you do with it and it’s inexpensive.  I then hot glued the bows to the neck of the ornament.  I used more of the sheer ribbon to make a loop to hang the ornament with.
Next came the packaging.  Because of the colors on the CD {and a little bit of my laziness} I opted not to wrap them.  I found more sheer ribbon in the gift wrap section of HL, this time red.  Sticking with the red and white/silver color scheme, I added some candy canes.

Time to start layering.  CD on bottom, then a candy cane, then the blingy initial ornament, and…..

VOILA!! 

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