Monday, December 26

Highlights of our Christmas Week!

I love Christmas Week.  We get done with school for the rest of the year and have time for special projects.  This year was our 2nd Annual Cousin Gift Swap.  Each cousin draws the name of another cousin and then makes them a handmade gift to receive after our Christmas Dinner.  This tradition was started by our sil Kim and it quickly become the thing I look forward to the most on Christmas.

So, earlier this week, our 3 kids were busy putting finishing touches on their gifts.  Ty had Carden this year.  Carden loves to cook and loves to hostess little parties with her friends.  Ty wanted to make Carden an apron.  A lofty project for a 9 year old boy who has never used a sewing machine, snicker.  But he was sure that was what he wanted to make so he earned some money, we went to Hobby Lobby, he picked out the fabric, ribbon, and every detail needed included the color and size of the buttons.  And a shocking fact for me to admit, he was amazing at having the patience and stubbornness to learn how to use a sewing machine.  He only had one bad needle poke... at which time I not so gently yelled, "don't bleed on the apron!"  He was not adoring his mom nor her lack of compassion at that moment ;[
 We didn't use a pattern.  We just used one of my dress forms, and a drawing Ty had made of how he wanted the end product to look.  In the end, Ty was thrilled with the apron(s) and he was so excited for Carden to see.
 I love this flower detail that Ty added.  The button was the only thing that was handstitched on and after that he decided he was a sewing machine sewer only, snicker.
 There was a small strip of the striped fabric and a tiny scrap of the polka dot fabric left over from the large apron.  Since Ty spent his only money on the fabrics he wanted to use every little piece... funny how important things become when kids spend their own money on them.  So we squeeeeezed out a little half apron out of the remaining fabrics.  We thought Carden would enjoy this apron to wear while hostessing her little parties.
 He added another flower embellishment on this apron too.  This was the very button that the 'Massive Needle Poke of 2011' occured.  OUCH!  He was done, Done, DONE at this point.  I am so proud of all his work for Carden's gift!
 I didn't get pictures but... Savannah had Taylor for the gift swap.  Taylor loves to dance.  Savannah made her some ribbon rings, and jingle bell tamberines, and chachas to dance with.  Savannah was sure to use all shades of purple and the more sparkles the BETTER!  Christian had Bella for the gift swap.  He made her a little fishing game.  He even found a small plastic container that looked like a little tackle box, then made a fishing pole out of bamboo with a long cord and magnet.  He copied little fish, lobsters, oysters, etc onto fun cardstock... laminated and added magnetic washers.  It turned out really cute!

We also spent the week making some baked goodies for friends and neighbors.  This was our gift to our neighbors... which we ADORE!  They have 9 kiddos so there is always fun to be had next door!  Living next to them constantly gives me fond memories of the blessing it was and is to have grown up with tons of siblings.  SO, I found this book at Anthropology and flipped through it and thought it would be fun to create a gift 'basket' around...
 We baked up 2 batches of two different recipes from the book... Oatmeal-Raisin and Chewy Chocolate Chip... and added them to the gift...
 Together with the cookbook and cookies... I added 12 of the old Amish milk glasses I found recently, added some fun Christmas straws... tossed it all into an old Enamelware bowl.  It made me smile, and I hope it made them smile too! 
 Ty made a card for his best friend next door, J.  It really is a blessing when your children are blessed with good friends that live on the farm right next to yours.  Wonderful!
 While I was busy preparing food in preparation for Christmas dinner... Shawn was busy checking things off a 'honey do' list.  I finished the buffet and he was cutting the baseboards so it would fit.  Love this guy!!
 And finally all the preparation was done and time was spent in just enjoying time together.  A quick pic of Christmas Eve PJs.
 Christmas morning brought tons of new legos for Ty, Cash (boring teenager wishlist) and clothes for Christian, and a new cell phone and clothes money for Savannah.
 After presents we had Breakfast Burritos... YUM!!  We were blessed enough to actually get to go to church on this Christmas Day and enjoyed sweet messages and gorgeous music.  When we returned home, we had  few hours of cooking and prep until the whole Family arrived for Dinner!
 I went a little whimsical this year.  I found these plates weeks ago at Party City and thought they would be fun!  The centerpieces were from jars, silver, and candles collected from around the house.  Berries, pinecones, and greenery from the farm... easy!
 The 'littles' table is simply strewn with jingle bells and the kiddos kept wanting to know who the present was for... snicker... they found me quite cruel when I said it was empty and just for pretty's sake.
 Everyone was able to make it for Dinner... even our newest little family addition, Grey.  There were 36 of us all squeezed into our kitchen for a sit down dinner... Cozy at it BEST!  Love this!
 On the Menu:
Pork Roast
Ham and Swiss Sliders (huge hit)
Mashed Potatoes and Corn on the Cob
Cinnamon Apples and Deviled Eggs
Breads Galore
Pasta and Green Salads
 After dinner... the actual HIGHLIGHT of the whole night... the cousin gift swap!  We pack ourselves into the TV room.  We pick a cousin to start and they give their gift to their cousin and it goes from there.  Emma had Ty and made him this Tshirt.  Ty is the classic 'LEGO HEAD'... the boy is a creative genius with these things, and please note that Emma put 'TYGER' on the sleeve in the Lego Brand Font too!  So Brilliant!  Noah made Savannah some beautiful earrings, hair pins, and necklaces... I shall be bumming some of them!  And little Miss Ava made Christian a wooden Christmas Ornament, precious!  Every gift was amazing... so perfectly suited for the cousin receiving the gift. 
 After the gift swap, we pile back into the kitchen/family room for dessert.  I don't know how we find the room for more food but we do....
Creme Puffs with Mississippi Mud Fondue
Peanut Butter Pies
Peach Praline Pie
Pecan Pie
Red Velvet Cupcakes
and Turtle Pound Cake!
After dessert, we let the kiddos play, play, play.  The rest of us just relax and d.i.g.e.s.t!  I personally sat in the TV room and played with my little nieces as they danced with the ribbon rings.  Lo and Behold, some time later as family started to leave and the house became quiet... I walk into the kitchen and my incredible groom has the entire kitchen cleaned, all 3 dishwashers loaded and hummin', counters wiped, trash taken out, etc.  WHEW!  In less than 15 more minutes, the kids and I had the tables undecorated, chairs and tables taken to garage, and the 5 of us gathered together in our bedroom for nightly prayer.  Does it get any better than this?  Truly?  Nothing makes me happier than family.  Nothing.  Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22

Our Family Room and Kitchen

These rooms are usually the FIRST to get decorated, but this year I have been taking my sweet time, grin.  I've enjoyed clipping fresh greenery from outside... pine, cedar, and junipers.  I also have discovered a wealth of winter berries that have made it into many containers.
I don't have a real game plan for decorating for our HUGE Christmas dinner, except that I plan on doing it FREE... Mother Nature provided.  I hope to get photos of Dinner prep if I have time.
For now, here are a few pics of the 'main' rooms in out house.  I'll say now... sorry for so many crooked photos, snicker.
I painted a new silhouette this year.  This time of a little girl.  Really pleased with her.
Have I shown this blue door yet?  I got it in Destin at the end of the summer.  It is the perfect shade of greyblue.  In fact I am working on a raggamuffin old buffet that I hope to finish by Christmas dinner for added serving space, and I had it color matched to a paint chip from this door... I think it will be a pretty close match.  Hope.
I had to take this photo at night because of the glare I kept getting during the day.  Every year thus far I have hung these vine wreaths in all the windows at the back of the house.  I brought in these clipping and put them in my copper watering can.  I smile everytime I look at it.  Looks a tad wild and out of control, snicker.
I finished this large dresser end of summer for this space.  It had mismatched drawers and its veneer is in bad shape, but imperfection is what I am drawn too, thankfully.  I did several layers of a dark umber/charcoal glaze and now all the finishes match.  I have a broken piece of hardware, sigh, that I am still trying to remedy, but I love the top porcelain knobs.  I love the height of this dresser and the storage in this, the most cluttered room of the house, is phenomenal!
I've been told these berries are Ilex branches.  Can anyone confirm that?  I found what looks like an oversized bush outside one of the pasture gates and it is covered in these berries... Great Find after living here all these years!
 That concludes my decorations 'tour'.  I hope to capture some photos of Christmas Dinner and the set up for that... tons of fun!  But if I don't make it back on the blog by then... I hope everyone has an incredible Holiday!!!

Monday, December 12


Every morning... between the hours of 8-10... this is where you can find our gal.  Her and Missi are forming quite a relationship.  Because Missi is so young and had never been ridden before, we had her professionally trained and since we got her back on the farm Savannah is on her every day.  So thankful Savannah could see this dream of hers come true!
 We own Missi's mom, Bre, too, but due to special circumstances she is not safe to ride.  But every morning she stands at the fence and watches Savannah and Missi... Maybe her nickname should be 'ole mother hen'.  Bre is the prettiest horse I have ever seen.  Love everything about her.  She is a very gentle and mild horse and serves as our most gorgeous lawn mower and lawn ornament ;)
 Our cowgirl and her horse

Saturday, December 10

Our Christmas Hub

The classroom is a very central part to our Christmas.  It is where we have our main tree... our jiblet tree as I call it, because it has every little ornament as a family we have made or collected along our way.  Here is where we gather on Christmas Eve to read about our Savior's Birth, open Christmas PJs, and gather on Christmas morning to do stockings and open presents... always with a fire burning in the fireplace.  I had big dreams for this room, even before it was built.  It has delivered!
I have no budget for additional decorations this year, so I worked with what I already had to do this room.  A wreath, log, pine branches and mercury glass... DONE!
 I made these antique sheet music wreaths for my business.  I loved them so much I kept one aside for me!  I hung it directly over a barn print that is always on this mantle.
 I found this little radio flyer trike at an estate sale months ago.  I love to collect old toys like this and the little skis on the porch. 
 And the 3 stuffed animals that our children each had when they were small next to our little trough awaiting out little baby boy Jesus.
 So there is a little glimpse into our classroom, aka our Christmas hub.  I am now sitting in the chair next to the fireplace in this very room.  There is Christmas music booming through the whole house and my dear husband is building our first fire of this season.  There is nothing I don't love about our wood burning fireplace... the sound, the smell, the flickering light from the fire.  I am so happy in this moment!