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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Lightening Up – Door Treatment {Part 1}

Okay I know we are all in the Christmas zone but I could not wait to share with you an amazing before and after that I finally (almost) completed today!!!  So…here is the before


And here is the glorious after…
These pictures were both taken during the day with the same camera settings – look out the side window same daylight.  I can’t even believe the difference!!!  (The almost done part is referring to the holes I patched when I took out the hooks I no longer needed – apparently I no longer have that wall paint so I have to go get more – grrrr.)
The front door is now the same color inside and out.  When I painted the first coat on both doors I was certain I had made a mistake – wow that door was really blue…
But, I always like to live with things for  couple of days before I bail.  I lived with it for longer than that because life happened.
I knew I wanted to add some molding to spice up the plain flat doors, so on a free Saturday I dove in.  (Or at least I got started.)  I wanted something simple on the closet door, but I knew the front door needed a little more.  So I went to Home Depot and looked at doors, I found a style that I like that I thought would be simple enough to go with the rest of the entryway but enough to give it the weight it needed.  Still unsure I decided to pull out the painters tape 🙂  I went ahead and cut the molding pieces for the closet door, but I did not glue them on yet, just hung them with the tape.
Again, I was still VERY unsure about the front door, so I took out my design, my tape measure, and my painters tape, and ended up with this…
Which I lived with for several more days.  This project took WAY longer than I anticipated and not because it was overly hard, I just had a hard time fitting in time to do it. 🙂
I will be back in a couple of days to share the how to – don’t want to write a novel in one post 🙂  You will be surprised at how simple this transformation actually was!!  Lots of helpful pictures of the process – so check back for {Part 2}.  If you don’t want to miss it – then pick a way to follow my blog there on the right.  Thanks!!
 I’m a starter, not always a finisher.  The one great thing about writing this blog, and reading so many other fabulous blogs, is that I am inspired to finish.  I hope that I can do that for you – inspire you to start and to finish.  Because, if I can do it, anyone can!!
Linking up with Carmel at Our Fifth House today.  If you are visiting from that linky party check out some of my other painting projects herehere, and here.
Also linking up here at Emily A. Clark
Working With What You Have link up at emilyaclark.com
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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…..


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How We Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas

Today I would like to share a few things that our family does to help keep the focus on the reason for the season – Jesus.  Since before we had children this has always been a big deal to us.  I mean after all the holiday wouldn’t even exist if Jesus CHRIST hadn’t been born – hence the name CHRISTmas – I mean really people it’s not a question of if you believe or not this time.  But, almost everyone celebrates Christmas right, whether they believe in Jesus or not.  Everyone likes getting giving gifts, getting together with friends and family, and the festive decorations.  How sad it is that they really don’t fully appreciate the spirit of the season.  Commercialism, materialism, all of that have all but ruined the holiday in my opinion.  But…not at our house.  “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:15.


So, how do we do it?
1)  I love Nativity sets, I have several and I like to spread them out around the house.  They are a wonderful reminder of the scene that night when Jesus was born, and a peak into how we should adore Him.



They didn’t have these cute sets when our kids were little, but they are awesome.  Even the littlest of ones can touch and play with Baby Jesus! 🙂  Fisher Price makes a great set, but there are lots of nativities sold now that are child safe – a must have in my opinion Jesus should not be off limits!!
This year my little boys were going around and comparing – “this one has two shepherds, this one has one, this one has a cow and a sheep, this one only has two sheep”.  As they got older I got braver about putting them in places where hands can reach, and yes pieces have been broken – but super glue is fabulous kinda like the healing power of our Savior… {forgive me Lord for that corny metaphor…or is it a simile??}
3)    On Christmas Eve, with several thousand other folks, we attend Christmas Eve service at our church.  Again, a good time of reflection, remembering, and rejoicing.
4)  Christmas morning is wonderful.  We do not run to the tree Christmas morning at 6am to open presents.  First, because I am not a morning person and second, because other things come first.
Christmas morning we have birthday pancakes for Jesus – complete with candle.
We all gather around the piano, in our Christmas PJ’s, and sing Christmas hymns together.  It’s extra fun now that my daughter plays violin, and the little boys are getting good enough at the piano to play a few of the songs.
Then we all sit down and read the story of Christ’s birth from the Bible.  (This pic is from a couple of years ago, but I couldn’t resist those sweet little faces that look so different now.)  In the beginning of course it was my husband who read.  I have many sweet pictures of his lap full of children intent as he read.  But now, they fight for the honor to read.  Sometimes we let them take turns, sometimes we choose one, and sometimes daddy reads.  When we are finished we pray and thank God for the most precious gift of all.
And then….come the presents.  Again, we don’t go crazy with the gifts.  They have so much and need so little nothing {thank you Lord}.  We buy each child one gift, and they draw names amongst themselves.  So everyone gets two gifts.  Obviously they get more from grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles, and again they need nothing.  Another thing is we take our time.  Each person opens one gift at a time, it is not a free for all where everyone is opening at the same time – that makes me crazy!!
5)  Later after dinner we have “Happy Birthday Jesus” birthday cake.
Let me say we are by no means experts, but we are pleased with the spirit that is in this home at Christmas time.  Each year we may add one or two more elements because in my heart we can never do enough to honor the birth of Our Savior.
This year I spotted something for Advent on Pinterest that I fell in love with and put my own spin on it a bit.  This was the inspiration
And here is ours.
I asked my husband to make his own list of 25 names of Jesus and he did – in about 2 or 3 minutes I might add, love – then I used this web page to find corresponding scripture references.  It was November 30th and I didn’t have time to craft cute ornaments with the kids, so I just took some extra ornaments I bought and with a gold paint pen and a black sharpie I went to work.  I wrote the name on one side and the scripture verse on the other {because I didn’t want to have a separate sheet or something to look at to find the verse}.  Then I took some gingham ribbon from my stash and tied loops on the ornaments.
Then I tucked a small tree next to our fireplace, wrapped the base in leftover burlap {swaddling clothes :)}, found a crown {won by hubby at a father-daughter event} for the tree topper – perfect King of Kings – and a basket to hold the ornaments.
Each night we have one of the kids choose an ornament to put on the tree.  They read the name of Jesus and then they tell us what that name means to them – which by the way is my favorite part, I love to see The Holy Spirit work in their hearts – and then we read the scripture, and hang the ornament.  Can I just say I.  LOVE.  THIS.  The kids love it too!!  So simple, but so honoring.
We are also looking at ways to focus on giving instead of receiving.  Do you notice that as kids get older their lists may get shorter but way more pricey??  Anyway, taking my cue from several of my favorite bloggers.  One being Ann Voskamp.  Read this post to learn more.
What are your CHRISTmas traditions??  How do you honor Jesus??


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Christmas Mantel 2012

Well, after running around like a crazy person on Saturday, I finally got my home decorated for Christmas!!  I love it!!  Today I would like to share with you our mantel decor.

At Christmas time I clear off everything and start fresh.  The family portrait of course stays because I love it :).  Everything you see are things I already had in my stash except for the JOY which I showed you how I made here.
It never looks exactly the same from year to year.  Probably only a couple of elements are constant – the greenery and the star garland – which I actually made last year to hold my Christmas cards.  You see there is one lonely little card up there so far – but soon (hopefully) it will be covered with cards and pictures of friends near and far.
I’m pretty traditional when it comes to Christmas decorating – I like red and green, and a little sparkle here and there.  Most important to me is spreading out my nativity collection – the snow globe and the little handmade one next to it.  CHRISTmas is about the birth of Jesus and I want people to be reminded of that when they are in my home at this time of year.
I’m loving our advent activity for this year and so are the kids.  You can see a peak of it in the corner of this pic.  I will share more with you about that and other ways we keep Christ in Christmas on a later post.
Have a blessed day!!

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