Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Pretty

 A few pretty things I couldn't resist sharing.
For your home -- a little silver, ironstone, transferware and antique linens...

For your feet --  the prettiest pair of flats I ever did see....

For your friends -- because if I received a gift wrapped with a silhouette tag and
scalloped ledger paper topped on a pretty kraft paper box, I think I would gasp!
(Elizabeth - I thought of Miss Ella's birthday when I saw these! :))

Now, I must run.  I have no business doing 2 posts in one day,
when laundry is piling up, our pantry is empty and it's dinner time.

Our Christmas

Christmas Crackers
Pretty Packages
Buche de Noel
Plaid Shirts
Meringue & Chocolate
Cozy Slippers
Cameras Flashing
 Blazing Fire
Satin Ribbons 
Handmade Presents
Happiness at Home...

These are the things that made our Christmas joyful & bright.
I am so grateful.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Brunch Recipe

I'm all ready for tomorrow.
The brunch table has been set.
The food has been prepared.
The gifts are wrapped and waiting.
There is much joyful anticipation in the house.
And as soon as my little biscuit is up from his nap we'll head over to my parents.
Christmas Eve to me is the most magical night of the year.
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved this night.
My Mum makes everything beautiful, the house will smell delicious, and we will have
all sorts of long standing family traditions.

Once we had children I began hosting Christmas Day brunch for my side of the family.

Here's the menu for tomorrow... 

Spinach & Cheese Strata
Herbed Potatoes
Berry Salad
Cinnamon & Pecan Coffee Cake

The strata is my absolute favorite of favorite brunch dishes. 
It looks, smells, and tastes amazing.

I look forward to setting the table each year too. 
 Antique linen napkins bought with my Mum from an antique excursion in Kentucky years ago
wrapped in jingle bell holders I bought to entertain Andrew when he was a baby, 
a little tin Santa in an airplane that was in Andrew's very first Christmas stocking,
our wedding china & crystal,
antique silver flatwear that my parents gave to us at our engagement party
& a centerpiece made with greens from our own yard.
This year I added four little bottle brush trees bought
at a favorite local home accessory store called Details. 
(Barb - don't the trees look cute!!?) 

I probably won't post for a few days.
So Merry Christmas to all you dear friends & readers.
Enjoy your families. make precious memories and have peace and love in your hearts!

Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God
In the highest:
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Pre-Christmas Tradition

It's no secret I like old things --
old houses, old furniture, old linens, old art, old books...and the list goes on... Our home is filled with them.  I often love the memory of searching for and finding them as much as I enjoy the thing itself.

 Each year, before Christmas I have a date with Andrew to search for a new (old) thing to add to his collection. 
When Andrew was very little he fell in love with soldiers, then nutcrackers and at the first mention he received three that Christmas.  They were beautiful and grand.  His collection has grown and currently fills his window seat in his bedroom at Christmas time.  About three years ago, I wanted to make it more special.  I suggested we start a new tradition. A day of scouring local antique stores and malls to find a new (old) nutcracker.  Last year we went to about 4 different places before we found him.  This year we spent the afternoon at a massive antique mall.  Amidst loads of vintage and kitch Christmas goodies we spotted this treasure.  Hand painted, with a turquoise top hat.  He's gorgeous.   I love that no one else will have one like him; that he can't be found at the local Target.  I love the memory we make each year while we search, while we haggle the price, while we weigh the merits of each nutcracker before we make our final selection.  I love that at age 8, you appreciate "old things" just like your Mama. 

Thank you , Andrew for such a wonderful Thursday afternoon. I think this is your best find yet!

And just so I don't forget...you made my heart melt a few days ago.  You worked so diligently to shovel our steep driveway in an effort to earn money to buy Charlie's Christmas gift.  I glanced out once and saw you sitting with your hands clasped and your mouth moving.  I asked after if you had been praying.  Your shyly said yes (I assumed for strength to finish the job).  I asked if you would share what you were praying about.  You said, again quite shyly, "that God would help me find the perfect gift for Charlie."  I asked you why? You replied, "because I love him and want to make him happy, why else?"  Yes, that is what it's all about.  He will adore the set of firetruck Matchbox cars you chose but not nearly as much as he adores you. And when I pray, it's that 2011 will bring more moments like this...true, uncomplicated, unconditional love...and that I will stop long enough to enjoy them. XOXOX 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Vintage Parcels and Other Cuteness

I came across this adorable idea here from this online Aussie magazine.
We ship a number of gifts to children.
I would love to have filled the UPS boxes with gifts wrapped like old parcels from the post office.
All the sources are listed in the current issue of LMNOP, click here to download.

Another idea that I did use are these labels free to download from Jones Design Company
Not only do all the gifts don her tags, 
but a number contain handmade items made by me via her tutorials. Thanks, Emily!
And one more gift topper that I'm off to make in a second
are these darling little book page flowers via Holly's blog.
Off to get my crafty on...

I'm going gaga over these little book page flowers! 
So stinkin' cute! 
I made one Holly's way and another using Emily's technique for fabric flowers. 
 Both equally easy and cute.  Here, see for yourself...
So thankful for all you creative bloggers out there who are willing to share your ideas!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are You Ready?

Christmas Eve is just 5 short days away...
I spent the weekend finishing up my shopping.
And my Saturday night wrapping (for 3 hours).

For someone who typically rushes like mad to have all her shopping done by Thanksgiving,
the sheer fact that I braved the mall the Saturday before Christmas
and lived to tell about it, is hard to believe.
But you know what's even more disconcerting?
I didn't mind it. 
In fact, it was LESS stressful than trying to get it all done early. 
And I think I was more organized and spent less.
I also made a couple unexpected discoveries on my shopping excursion...
First, I want to move into the Vera Bradley store.
I'm not talking about the bags either, it's the decor.
Have you ever been in one?
Oh, so adorable & happy.
And second, Anthropologie had the cutest, and I mean CUTEST, ornaments this year.
Each year the boys pick out an ornament for their Godparents and the ones this year are by far my favorite.
(Sarah & Mindy - you are going to love them!!)
The rest of the weekend consisted of A LOT of snow play, fort building, and a date with Dad for Andrew
(hence my Saturday night gift wrap extravaganza.)

We had my father-in-law over for dinner tonight.
I made this side dish.  It is soooooo good.
 I mean close-your-eyes-when-you-take-a-bite good.
If you like butternut squash, and you have yet to make Ina's mashed version, you must make it. And soon.

Butternut squash always makes me think of New England. 
 It wasn't something I ate growing up, but after living in Boston, it became one of my favorite comfort foods.

Sorry, rambling...Really this post is about nothing in particular. 
Just an excuse to add a few more beautiful Christmas pictures to the blog before the week is done.
But since I hear giggles coming from the other room that I'd like to partake in,
and I just started an EXCELLENT book that is calling
my name on a big comfy chair with a cozy blanket... 
I'm going to sign off.
pictures 1, 3 here, picture 2 unknown, picture 4 traditional home,  picture 5 unkown, pictures 6-8 here

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snowmen from Charlotte, Concerts & Sledding

Is it just me, or is the week before Christmas vacation pure madness? 
Here's what's been happening since Monday...

The annual Christmas concert at school...
(what's up with the saucy face??)

Without fail, every year, on this night I find myself wishing I had a little girl. 
 To put in a red corduroy dress.

I've been busy making my "Charlotte Snowman Pops" for Andrew's class party on Friday. 
I call them that because I learned to make them from my dear college friend, Sarah, who lives in Charlotte.
Charlie got to sample one while I assembled the rest and when he came back in the dining room all covered in white (hair, eyes, cheeks, hands, arms) I assumed it was marshmallow till I got a whiff of him,
it wasn't, he'd somehow found a tube of diaper cream. 
I'm telling you, age 2, while adorable, it can wear me out!

They are easy & fun to make.
(Skewer three marshmallows on a long lollipop stick.  Coat them in melted white chocolate - the kind you buy at craft stores and melt in the microwave, let them dry. 
Paint on their features with more melted chocolate in a zip lock bag. 
One tip for coating them -After melting the white chocolate, pour it into an aluminum, disposable mini loaf pan and cut a deep V in the back to roll the stick in.

I've also been trying to make a simpler version of these paper trees (ala Martha) for Andrew's party craft. Let's just say mine don't look anything like this,
but I'm snowed in and already have the supplies,
so we will just need to make it work for tomorrow. 
Why, oh why, do I continually volunteer for the party craft?! 
Speaking of snowed in...

We have our first snowday today.
Popcorn, movies, fire, sledding, wet clothes, wet floors, pumpkin bread, and dancing --
and that was all before 1:00 PM.  

We happen to have the best front yard for sledding. 
As a result, we've had a steady stream on neighborhood kids since 10:00 this morning. 
But the snow was a bit too deep for my littlest guy.
After the 30 minutes it took us to get suited up, looking like Ralphie's brother from A Christmas story,
we still only managed about 5 minutes outside before the cold snow hurt his little fingers. 
So, Charlie kept tabs on the older boys from inside.

Where he happily made a mess after helping to make the pumpkin bread.
 And just in case you ever wondered...
if you happen to mix all your ingredients together
and things don't look quite right,
 and you notice an unopened can of pumpkin that was never added
and you have to throw it in at the end... well, guess what?? 
It'll turn out just fine!
Hope you are staying warm!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas House Tour

For those of you regular readers, you might be getting
a wee bit tired of looking at Christmas pics of my house - this is the last of it. Promise. 
For those of you visiting by way of the Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes, so glad you stopped by...
I remember stumbling on a holiday home tour 2 years ago when I first was discovering blogs.
I thought, who on earth are these people, and who goes around taking pictures of their home to show to strangers, and why on earth can't I stop looking.
And now look at me?!  So here goes...

At Christmas, I really like to keep things pretty traditional.
Which suits our me and our colonial farmhouse just fine.
I like lots of fresh greens both inside and out.
Preferably with a dusting of fresh snow.
i like red and green.

I like ribbons and berries.
And LOTS of reminders that this is a home with young children.

I like wreaths over mirrors.
And a real tree filled with sentimental ornaments, collected since childhood..
But most of all I like spending time at home, 
celebrating the traditions we've made as a family, and the new ones we add each year. 
Thanks so much for taking a moment to look. 
If you want to see more...
I got a little crafty and talked about making stockings here and here.
I gave a little recap of how our village kicks off Christmas here.

And lastly, I savored an evening in front of the fire with my eldest child here.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Sorta-Kinda Stocking Tutorial

All of you were very sweet after seeing these stockings I made sort of haphazardly
one night as an alternative to gift wrap.
I received a number of emails asking for instructions.
Well here they are...
This was my first (and likely last) attempt at doing a tutorial.
 I tried channeling my inner Emily (seriously how does she do these with 4 children, or any of you crafty Mamas for that matter??)  So, somewhere in between Charlie getting tangled up in ribbon, running off with scissors, and almost burning himself with the glue gun, I did this....

What you need:
1. Fabric - preferably one that is the same on each side. 
You do not need 2 fabrics, I just did because 
I was using scraps and didn't have enough of the check.
2. Ribbon
3. Glue Gun
4. Scissors
5. Poster Board
6. A Stocking - to use as your template
7. A Sewing Machine
8. Pins (not pictured)
9. Wooden Monogram - not pictured

Step 1.

Trace your existing stocking onto poster board.  Make it slightly larger to account for your seams.  Make the top a few inches longer because you will fold the top down after you sew it.  Cut the pattern out.

Step 2.

Trace the pattern onto 2 pieces of fabric.  I used a sharpie, this is probably not the best thing to use on fabric, but you won't see it.

Step 3.
Lay the two cut out pieces of fabric together and pin around the edges.
Ummm... no, I did not use a grocery bag for the second fabric, but it sure looks that way! :)

Step 4.

Sew it up.  Back stitch at the beginning and end. Sew close to the edge. Leave the top open.
A few of you asked if you could do this by hand. I suppose you could, I would never have the patience, I hate (a strong word, but I mean it) hand stitching.  With a machine it takes about 1 minute.

Step 5.

Turn it right side out. 
Fold the top down a couple inches
Don't worry we'll hide that unfinished edge in a second...

Step 6.
Use the glue gun to attach ribbon around the edge.  I used burlap in this example.  The large statin ribbon I used previously looked nicer.  Again, just using scraps of what I had.  Then glue gun on two more bows.  This hides the edge of the burlap ribbon and lets you attach the letter with two of the ribbon tails.   

All stuffed and ready for gift giving.  Sure is prettier than a sweater box! :)

That's it. All done.  A little like making a pillow, but no edge to finish, zipper to sew on etc.
Hope that helped.  Off to snuggle & watch a movie...
Any more questions??