Happy New Year!

Happy last day of 2011 everyone!!  Sorry I’ve been a little MIA lately- visitors and the holidays left me little time for blogging.  I’m hoping to get back on the bandwagon soon though!!  For now, I’m just dropping by to wish everyone a happy New Year.  Here’s to many good things in 2012!!

Cheers!!!
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Dare to DIY: Christmas traditions and a tree!

It’s the last week of Kim’s dare to DIY link party- and this week it’s Christmas traditions! 

Our Christmas traditions have changed over the years- when we lived in the same state as our families, we’d split the holiday between our two sets of parents.  My husband’s parents are REALLY into Christmas, and he has a huge family, so the majority of the holiday was spent with them- we would go to their house for Christmas Eve and have a big dinner and open presents with his brothers/sisters/nephews/nieces.  Then my husband and I would actually stay the night at his parents (and Santa would fill our stockings!  Seriously this never gets old for me…) and open presents with them the next morning (plus have Christmas breakfast).  Then we would drive 2 hours south to spend Christmas day with my parents and sister.  My family is pretty flexible about when the holiday family time actually occurs, which is nice when you’re separated by a couple hour drive!

Now that we live all the way across the country from everyone, our traditions have changed.  We have 5 animals and it’s REALLY difficult to find a petsitter at Christmas.  So we’ve had to create our own Christmas traditions the past few years because we can’t be with everyone at Christmas time.  It goes a little something like this- Christmas eve I make a big dinner, usually a turkey, but I did make mac n’ cheese (from scratch!) one year so we’re flexible.  That way Christmas day all we have to do is heat up leftovers (and eat them for a week since it’s only the two of us!!)  We usually open a present or two on Christmas eve.  Then Christmas morning we have a big(ish) breakfast and open presents/stockings.  It goes very quick with just the two of us, but it’s still fun to have some sort of tradition.  We’re lucky in that my parents have decided they like visiting around Thanksgiving, so we do an early Christmas with them.  This year my sister is visiting right after Christmas, so we’ll do another mini celebration with her!

One of our traditions that we do regardless of where we live is to cut down a Christmas tree.  There’s just something about the scent of a live tree- I don’t know if I could ever do a fake tree, although they certainly are easier (and WAY less mess).  I also don’t like buying a pre-cut tree- I want to tromp through a field and pick out/cut my own!!  This year was no different, except that we were a little later in getting our tree than we usually are.  Want to see?

There’s even presents underneath already!!!

We do a mish-mash of ornaments- some are from my husband’s childhood, some are from my childhood, some are keepsakes that people have gotten us throughout the years and then there are lots of different balls on there to fill in the holes.

Here’s a look at a few

An early Christmas present from my husband- awww he’s so cute!

My mother-in-law gets me one of these ornaments/figures almost every year- I love them

My husband has quite the John Deer collection on the tree- we think he might need his own tree for them!

One very old one from my husband’s childhood

First married Christmas together!

I really like the white lights on the tree- that’s actually my favorite part I think.  My husband REALLY wants the giant old fashioned colored bulbs on the tree because that’s what he grew up with…uhhhhh.  I’m a little worried they might be a fire hazard since they’re outdoor lights…but maybe once our white lights burn out we’ll make the switch??

Here’s the tree at night- my favorite part

And in the room

Ahhhhh- so nice!!

And one more fun picture- I got all the “kids” (well, of the canine variety anyway) to sit for me under the tree.  It only took about 20 tries to get a good picture, and I think Ellie thought she was in trouble.  Oops.  But it turned out cute!!!

Happy Holidays everyone!!!  Looking forward to reading about everyone’s holiday traditions!

Deck the halls: Pinterest inspired

Whoops, I did it again…I made another Pinterest inspired craft!!!  I saw a bunch of people on the blog-o-sphere and on Pinterest doing snow globes inspired by Anthropologie…like these:

Adorable right?  I have several of those little bottlebrush trees (I never knew what they were called until I started seeing these snow globes) that are actually fairly old- they were my grandma’s and my mom grew up with them.  I never really know what to do with them and usually put them on the dining room table.  I didn’t even put them out this year, until I saw the snow globes and knew I could put them to good use.

I didn’t want to spend any money, so I used what I had- a vase, epsom salts (work great as fake snow- who knew?), 3 bottlebrush trees and a nutcracker.  I’m quite pleased with the end result!

Cute right??  My husband even walked by and said “oh cute!” which is two thumbs up in my book.  Let’s get a closer look

Yep- I’m pretty pleased with this free decoration.  All in all it took maybe 5 minutes to gather the supplies and put it together.  It’s sitting on our entrance way table.  I love it!

Stay tuned- we’re getting our tree this weekend so I’ll be back to share it once it’s all decorated!!

Deck the halls- outside edition

I think my favorite part of decorating for the holidays are the outside decorations.  I remember my dad decorating our house when I was a kid- we had a big light-up snowman, a couple of giant candles that said “Noel” on them, and a bunch of lights and garland on our front porch.  There’s something so magical about driving/walking up to your house at night and seeing it all lit up.  I’ve carried on the outdoor decorating “tradition” at each house my husband and I have lived in.  It varies depending on the outside of the house, but lights end up out there some where!!  And believe it or not, I do 95% of the decorating.  Yep, I get up there on the ladder and figure out what lights plug in where.  Don’t worry, my husband helps too- usually by holding/moving the ladder and handing me lights.  I think he enjoys helping, but is probably glad I don’t make him do most of it.

This year, of course, was no exception.  This is the 2nd time we’ve decorated the front of this house, so I’ve got it down, for the most part.  Here’s the entire front

Actually, this photo is from last year.  I don’t have a good photo of the entire front this year.  BUT, the garage looks the exact same this year, I’ve just changed some things about the front of the house.

Here’s a better look at the front (from this year):

Can you spot what’s different about this year??  If you guessed giant ornaments, you win!!

I think I made my garland swags bigger this year, because I mysteriously ran out of garland about 4ft from the end of the house- whoops.  So I stole one of the wreaths that I had hanging in front of the windows (made out of leftover garland from last year) and used that- which is why there are no wreaths in front of the windows this year.   When my parents were visiting, my mom and I made a trip to Hobby Lobby and came back with the giant ornaments (50% off thankyouverymuch).  I wasn’t sure where to hang them, as the original plan was to put them in a tree in the front yard, but I didn’t like the look once I got started.  As luck would have it, I had just the right amount to hang them from the garland- and I like it!!  So does my husband.  They’re shatter-proof so they should hold up, even if it gets really windy.  Also none of them are hanging directly in front of a window so we shouldn’t end up with an accidental broken window. 

I love having our house all decorated- I wish we could leave it up year round.  It makes me smile to see it all pretty and sparkly.

What do you think?  Do you decorate the outside of your home for the holidays?

DIY: Pottery Barn Noel sign (and some yarn wrapped trees)

Linking this post up to the Inspire Me Please link party over at House of Rose.  For those of you stopping by, I will have a new post coming out about how I made this sign very soon, so please stay tuned!!

Ahhhh- my favorite decorating time of the year is here!!  I typically don’t do a lot of seasonal decor, except for Christmas (and a little bit for fall).  Christmas I go all out- we have 4 giant Rubbermaid tubs devoted to Christmas decor.  This year we’ve been a little behind on the decorating because I was out of town and then sick.  But this past weekend I got a good start!  And I’m linking up a couple of crafts to Kim’s Dare to DIY party as well as Centsational Girl’s craft party- unfortunately these decorations were done last year, not this year.  But I haven’t blogged about them before, so that counts, right?

We haven’t put up our tree yet, but here’s our mantle:

yarn wrapped trees

I start with a simple lighted garland and then add a ton of other stuff- in the garland are Christmas ornaments, pine cones and decorated floral picks. The 4 stuffed creatures above each stocking (the stockings are mine, my husband’s, one for the dogs and one for the cats) were made by my mother-in-law and sister-in-law- they are (from left to right) a santa holding a snowman, a skiing snowman, a large snowman holding a “Merry Christmas” wreath and a penguin holding an “I love snow days” sign.  Everything else was made by me.  Let’s take a closer look:

DIY

These trees were pretty simple- I bought styrofoam cones at Hobby Lobby** and then wrapped them with twine and yarn (hot gluing the ends down as I went).  The white yarn at the top has sequins in it, which kind of makes it look like snow- right?  Then I got cardboard stars and painted them with gold craft paint, hot glued a straight pin to the back and stuck them into the styrofoam.  Easy!  A secret- the trees are sitting on soup cans which makes them appear to be floating above the garland- there wasn’t enough room on the mantle otherwise!

This wreath was another easy craft- I just wrapped a styrofoam wreath form with some red ribbon I already had on hand, hot glued some ornaments on and hung it with another ribbon from the mirror.

pottery barn inspired

Finally, the Pottery Barn inspired Noel sign.  I saw this on Frugal with a Flourish’s blog last year (see link here) and had to re-create it.  It’s cost at Pottery Barn? $149!  My cost? Right around $20.  I bought press-board letters at Hobby Lobby and stapled/hot glued them together (seriously, the back is a hot mess- you don’t want to see it).  Then I painted them with a combination of gold, burgundy and brown craft paint.  It’s propped up on a piece of wood so that it doesn’t disappear behind the garland- garland is great, it hides everything!!

There you have it- my Christmas decor so far.  What do you think?  Stay tuned for a peak at our outside decor!!

**Disclosure:  I was not paid or compensated in any way by this company for this post.

Dare to DIY- Homemade gifts!

Happy Monday everyone!  I’m participating in Kim’s Dare to DIY party again this week- this time it’s homemade gifts (my favorite!). 

I’ve given homemade gifts for many Christmases, and some have turned out better than others.  Once I learned how to knit, I started to get more requests for hand made items- specifically socks (there’s nothing like a pair of hand knit socks, seriously).  One year I think I made 4-5 pairs of socks for Christmas, which is ambitious considering it usually takes me 2-3 weeks to complete a pair.  I always start on the Christmas knitting late in the game too- if I were smart I’d start stockpiling knits a year ahead of time, but I usually start a month or so before the actual holiday which leaves me knitting up to the last minute and my hands start resembling claws!  This year I got a little bit of a head start on my knitting, and I’ve actually finished ahead of schedule with this pair of socks for my mother-in-law (who requested a pair on her Christmas list).

The pattern I used is available for free and called “Waving not Drowning“- it’s an easy to memorize pattern, a pretty simple sock, as well as a great introduction to lace knitting.  Socks may look intimidating but they’re fairly simple once you get the basics down.  I picked up some really pretty yarn in Bellingham (when we were visiting) that I think really compliments this pattern (the colorway reminds me of subtle peacock feathers for some reason).  Want to see?

The yarn I used is Crystal Palace Yarns “Sausalito” yarn in Mediterranean, and it’s a blend of merino wool and nylon- it makes a nice mid-weight, squishy sock when knit on a pair of size 2 needles.  These socks took just over one ball of yarn too- I think I have enough to make a second, smaller pair of socks (I thinking maybe for my sister, although I have another knitted item to make for her before Christmas). 

I hope my mother-in-law loves these socks as much as I do!  Too bad her feet are smaller than mine, otherwise I might steal them for my very own!