27 December 2014

Christmas Craftiness

  We have had a great time with Bailey home for 10 days! We managed to fit quite a bit of craftiness into her break. Bailey suggested we go to a canvas class, which was super fun. I will share more pictures of that afternoon in another post. Here we are with our completed owl canvases!

Bailey also finished up her first knitted teddy bear! This was quite an accomplishment. She's been dabbling in knitting for a few years now but in the past few months has had a bit more time to delve into it more seriously. Wilson the bear is adorable! 

She is also teaching herself to crochet. This is a super cute crocheted coaster which I plan to hang on the Christmas tree. :) Bailey certainly didn't get her skills from her mother, but her great grandmother was an excellent crocheter (is that a word?). Grandma would be very proud!

 I'm not a painter or a knitter -- that much is clear! Paper seems to be my medium of choice! I made a few Christmas cards very late in the game, a few of which are shown here.

Then I made some thank you cards using the same design.

 I decorated several envelopes for gift cards...

 ...and I could not resist fancying up my candy canes for the Christmas dinner table.

Here's hoping for much more crafty time in the new year!

26 December 2014

Feline Friday: Tank Yoo, Santa!

  Deer Santa, 

TANK YOO for da gud STUFFS yoo bringed us on Crismass!

I luv da fether wand and so duz Tinsul!

But I speciallie luv mi new outfit! Heer is mi furst foto shoot!!!

I promiss to be (mostlie) gud in da noo yeer!
Luv, Lily

23 December 2014

Recipe: Grandma's Snickerdoodles

We are trying not to get carried away with baking this year, so we only making two kinds of cookies: gingerbread and my grandma's Snickerdoodles. I've shared this recipe previously on my blog but it is definitely worth repeating. Grandma passed away in August at age 102 and she made Snickerdoodles regularly for many of those years, always at Christmas but often for no reason at all.

 My pantry and fridge are very poorly equipped for most recipes, but I almost always have the ingredients for Snickerdoodles. That's one of the reasons I love this recipe!

This is a tried and true recipe which yields perfect cookies every time -- even for me! I hope you give it a try!

1 cup shortening (Grandma used Oleo but butter is also fine!)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon and sugar to coat the cookies

-- Instructions --
 Mix the first 3 ingredients (shortening, sugar, eggs) until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Mix up a bowl of cinnamon and sugar to your liking (start with a small amount of sugar and add in cinnamon to taste). Shape the dough into small walnut-sized balls then roll them in the cinnamon/sugar mixture until coated.

Oops -- I used this baking sheet for the first time in several years and a couple of the balls rolled off and into the bottom of the oven! Had to fish them out with tongs before the smoke alarm went off! Other than that small mishap, this sheet worked very nicely!

  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Don't overbake.

19 December 2014

Feline Friday: Deer Santa...

 Deer Santa...
Hi, its Lily. Last week I promissed to be gud. 
Den dis happened. 
I had a nottie.
I can ecksplain...

I got into Tinsel's noms and I cud not stopp nomming dem. I nommed untill I waz full.

Very full.

Verrrry verrrry fulllll.

Mi pants wuz wai too tite.

 I am verrrry sorrie I ate her noms. I haz a big big sorrie.

  Pleeeeze don't bee mad. I will not do dis again. At leest not until Januerie.

Pleeeeze still bring me treats?

Luv, Lily

12 December 2014

Feline Friday: Deer Santa

 Deer Santa,
Hi, itz Lily!!!
I haz been a gud kittie dis yeer wif one or to xcepshuns.

 I nocked over dis prettie flour. Ooopsie!

Den I tride to get into deez candie caynes.  
So far, I haz not broked anyfing.
I promis to bee gud untill Crismus so maybie i will get noms in my stockeen.


11 December 2014

Christmas Decorating: Old & New

 I'm finally back with the second part of my Christmas decorating post. I have a good excuse this time: We've been in Indiana visiting our daughter and attending her last performances before she begins student teaching in January. One of these days I will share some photos from our very fun weekend!

In my first post about my dining room decorating, I mentioned that I changed the color scheme to match a sign I bought at Memory Bound recently. When I bought it, I wasn't sure where I would put it but the china cabinet ended up being the perfect spot for it. I decided to add natural elements to the color scheme, such as pine cones and wood.

Since I shifted to a different color scheme, I decided to put only matching ornaments on the small tree in the dining room. I sorted out all of my gold/silver Shiny Bright ornaments and combined them with other gold ornaments I've used in the past on a smaller tree. This tree has seen better days! As a kitten, Lily knocked it down numerous times. I even tethered it to the windows with fishing line! Thankfully, she is no longer interested in it, so it is safe for my Shiny Bright ornaments!

I mixed old and new ornaments in order to have enough to fill the tree.

In years past, I've put lots of different things on my dining room table. Last year, I put some of my Dickens Village houses down the center. This time I tried something completely different using a combination of old, new, and thrifted items.

I found the wooden trees at a local thrift store for 50 cents! I seriously did not need them but I loved the simple shape. I bought the box/drawer from Memory Bound. Our store owner's daughter re-purposed it and added the pull. I love that it could be used for anything! I initially planned to put greenery in it but couldn't find exactly what I wanted so I decided to fill it with these pine cones instead. I found them in my mom's old Christmas decorations and they work perfectly in the box. I filled the bottom of it with wadded up paper to build it up slightly.

On the left of the photo below is a nut tree I made the Christmas before Bailey was born. It has held up really well and the color is perfect so I brought it out after a multi-year sabbatical! I'm not sure what came over me that year but I made hanging nut balls, too. They sort of look like medieval weapons!

My favorite thing is the little domed piece at the right. I've been seeing so many domes/bell jars this season and love them but they can get pretty pricey. Then I remembered this old cheese plate I had packed away in the basement. The base is made of some weird striped veneer so I opted not to use it. But the dome was the perfect size for the woodland animals I bought in Germany back when I was in college.

At first I put the animals on a plate and covered them with the dome, but it wasn't flat enough, and it looked like they were destined to be someone's dinner! What I really wanted was a piece of wood which I happened to find at Hobby Lobby. This small birch piece fit the dome perfectly and was exactly what I envisioned. Score!

 I bought some small Tim Holtz trees to add to my little scene. I considered dying them but decided to leave them as is because the color seemed perfect. I'm really happy with how this little piece turned out!

Meanwhile, I've been keeping my eye out at thrift stores for another dome of a similar size. I have a tiny wooden village which would be adorable under a dome!

I'm usually not so great with change but I'll admit that it was good to re-think some of my holiday decorations. I was able to use some things which hadn't seen the light of day in many years. Combining those old things with a few new pieces makes everything feel a little bit updated yet still familiar and homey, which is important to me at Christmas.

05 December 2014

Feline Friday: Subway NOMS!

I promised better pictures on my blog, but in this instance, Miss Lily was moving so quickly trying to steal my Subway sandwich that I could barely guard it and take a picture at the same time!

Good grief! From the minute I walked in the door, she was in attack mode! This naughty girl had to be put in the basement so that mama could eat in peace! :)

04 December 2014

Holiday Decor: Old and New

For many years, I've put up several trees for Christmas. I have so many ornaments that this allows me to mix and change themes in lots of different ways.

I usually put up a smaller tree in our dining room and decorate it with the Shiny Bright ornaments I commandeered when my maternal grandma passed away in 2004. My mom and her sister didn't want them, but I think they are beautiful! (Sorry for the blurry picture taken with my old phone.)
My only complaint about my Shiny Bright collection is that there are way too many pink ornaments. I'm not a fan of pink, and it definitely doesn't go with my dining room color scheme!

This year I decided to change my dining room decorations, and the inspiration came from this "Holiday Cheer" sign. I bought the sign at Memory Bound during our Holiday Open House, and the neat thing is that it was painted our store owner's daughter. I loved it the minute I saw it which was surprising to me because I'm not a fan of gold. But I was hooked by the retro design and the clean look of the white paint. 

Lately I've been seeing a lot of gold and white holiday decor, so I decided to go with that and build a decorating scheme in the dining room based on the colors in the sign. So far I've finished the top of the china cabinet, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. Re-thinking my color scheme allowed me to pull out a few things I had not used in years!

I love that so many pieces are meaningful to me: 
  • I made the pine cone tree during the holiday season when I was expecting Bailey. It has held up well! 
  • The candle holder was given to me by my aunt, and I used to love it but then quit loving it because it was gold. Suddenly I love it again! :)
  • The footed compote is a beautiful antique which belonged to my great-great-grandma on my dad's side.
  • The compote is filled with gold, silver, and copper ornaments that belonged to my grandma.
  • The pitcher in back belonged to my great-great-grandma on my mom's side. 
  • I found the gold decanter at a thrift store in Bloomington on a visit to Bailey.

 I sorted out all of the matching Shiny Bright ornaments and put them on the dining room tree, along with my other gold ornaments. It's taking me awhile to pull it together, but I think it's going to be a fun change in the dining room, at least for this year. I'll share more when I finish this room!

02 December 2014

Favorite Things and Other Stuff

Please, please excuse my lack of posts. I know it's sort "excuse of the week" these days! I just don't seem to have my blogging rhythm back and with a lot of holiday season projects, blogging has unfortunately taken a back seat. But I have some ideas I would like to try in the new year, so hopefully I can get a fresh start.

In the last few days I've been pulling together a few goodies for our upcoming staff event called a "My Favorite Things" party. The group tried this idea (which came from Heidi Swapp's blog) last year and loved it, so everyone wanted to do it again. Each person puts together a little gift bag or container with a few of her favorite things -- one for each person in attendance. At the party, each person gives the gifts out and shares why she loves those particular things. It's a great way to get to know people a little better -- and find out about wonderful things you may not have known existed! At last year's party, people gave popcorn, lotion, candles, Sharpie markers, and many other favorites! And the containers were so creative (imagine all the beautiful ways crafters can package things!) that they were just as fun as the gifts!

Last December I was in a serious slump from the events of the year so I sat out, but this time I decided to participate. First I had to decide what my favorite things are! That in itself was very hard, because many of my favorite things (like NPR!) do not fit in a gift bag! I finally settled on a galvanized tin container filled with a few odds and ends, which you can see being assembled in the above photo. I will share a picture of my finished gift and all the other goodies after the event this weekend!

One thing which is destined to become one of my favorite things is my new iPhone 6+. Yep, I got the big, bendable (not in a good way) phone. (I don't put phones in my pocket, so bending was not a concern to me!) So far, I love how easy it is to use compared to my Android. Things that frustrated me with my old phone are non-existent with the iPhone. And the camera is much, much easier to use. Try as I did, I could rarely get blur-free pictures on my Android. So (with the exception of this picture below which I did not take) you should expect to see much better photos on the blog from now on!

I have also started selling some things again on eBay. I dabbled in eBay a few years ago but got frustrated with the whole shipping process and quit. Recently I decided to give it another go. I have been selling a few small dollhouse items which belonged to one of my mom's friends while I figure out the shipping thing. I still have my case at the antique mall but this gives me another avenue to sell items which need a larger market.

So that's a quick update for now. Hope to be back in the next couple of days with some holiday decorating pictures!
Thanks for stopping by!