Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Belated Christmas from My Family to Yours!!
Hello, dear friends! I'm back from my blogging break, and eager to fill you in on my adventures!! I've missed our visits, but needed the time with my family :). Thanks SO much for continuing to check in on me, and "Thanks" to all of my new Followers! I'm still trying to make the rounds to visit you all!

I've gone shooting birds with my dad in Indiana (I know, can't quite "picture it" can ya?), and did well for only my 2nd time out, getting 4 pheasants, and multiple quail and partridge. My dad takes the meat, and I take the pheasant feathers to decorate with:)!! It's such a fun time, and I really enjoy the "hunt", and the time with my Dad!

I've had visits with family and friends, always a good thing! My daughter and I both had sinus infections...not fun, but we've survived. And we actually got a "White Christmas" when visiting Hubby's family in MI!!! It was so beautiful, and our girls were thrilled to play in the snow again, and to have Momma build a snowman with them!

I just realized that I'm using LOTS of exclamation points!!!!!!! :) LOL

Been working, and re-working the sunroom...you'll get to see pics eventually--hehe!

Eating tons and tons of mini-sized Heath bars, kissing my nephews all over their chubby little cheeks, and have become quite addicted to Starbucks' decaf mocha's...tall with whipped cream. Yum!

I've also been spending lots of time thinking about what constitutes "home" (y'all know I love the topic of Creating a Welcoming Home!), and what this means for our family. I'm in prayer about this and some big changes that hopefully I'll be able to share with you over the next few months. Part that I can share now involves paring down and that I'll be doing starting this week! Maybe we could work on it together??

Anyway, I know this is a hasty post, and not the most clever or well written (I hear pitter-patters upstairs, and it's supposed to be bedtime), but know from the bottom of my heart that I have truly loved our "visits" over these past months, and I love having new friends in you! Even though so many of us have never met, I've loved the relationships formed...sharing advise, praying for each other, listening, laughing, and learning along the way. Thank you all...it's blessed me more than you can know!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Everyone should go check out this garland party at Nesting Place for some fabulous Christmasy decorating inspiration! I used the garland that I showed you in this post!! Don't you wanna break out the cheap garland and fake stuff and make your very own fabulous garland?? Dont'cha??? :)

Forgive me for being away from my blog this week so far...I've been Christmas shopping, having Dr. appts, had my wonderful Cousin for a visit, putting up outside decorations, and decorating my sunroom!! Been just a little busy, y'all :)!

I have more Christmas decorating to show you soon, and the sunroom is coming along as well (can't wait for you guys to see it soon!). I have lots of things planned, and can't wait to share them all with you! So, thanks for being patient and checking my blog anyway :), and thanks for all of your lovely comments and those new "followers" as well -- I really appreciate it all and am so thankful for all of you :)!! It truly means more than you can know!


Friday, December 5, 2008

Gingerbread Houses on Parade!

I thought I'd show some pictures from our visit to the Grove Park Inn to see the Gingerbread Houses since so many of you were interested! It was such a wonderful "girls day"!! My girls, Mom, Sister & I all went shopping in the village by the Biltmore and then to the Grove Park Inn for tea and cake and seeing the Gingerbread Houses. We had a great time together :)!
The 1st pic above was taken on the lovely terrace out back. It was a cloudy day, but you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background -- what a view! The other pics are all of the Gingerbread House competition. These were incredible! Some are very different from the traditional gingerbread house that I would normally think of. But the creativity was amazing, and it was truly worth seeing!!
And just so y'all know, I am working on my sunroom makeover!!! Hopefully I'll have pics soon :)!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fun Christmas Meme!

Christy from Between Here and Home has tagged me for a fun Christmas Meme!!

1) Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Definitely hot chocolate with marshmallows! Or a candy cane stirrer! Although, I honestly can't say I don't like egg nog since I've never tried it. But it makes me think of Rocky in training, and I'm sorry, but I just won't go there!

2) Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Sits them under the tree with a bow and a note! There seems to be differing opinions on Santa, and what we did/do is explain to our kids a few years ago the real reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Santa is based on someone who was real (Nicholas) and who gave to those in need, but Santa Claus is just pretend. But it's fun to pretend, and if they want to they still can. Neither kid was shocked (at age 4), and my youngest said "I thought it was Daddy anyway!". They believe in Jesus, they don't care there's not really a Santa, they like to hear that there was a good real person who gave to others, and they still want to have some Christmas fun with it anyway! So, "Santa" leaves one unwrapped gift with a bow and a note!! And that's how we roll! :)

3) Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White outside, and it varies inside! Most trees are white, but for years we did colored, cause that's what we grew up with! Now, the playroom tree is colored lights cause the girls like it better!

4) Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but I did kiss my sweetie under a kissing ball at the Biltmore last weekend, so we're covered! ;)

5) When do you put your decorations up?
The week before Thanksgiving -- we're never home for Thanksgiving anymore, so it cuts down on my stress level to do it before!

6) What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)??
This is a toughie, since someone different hosts all the time! I do love a good Christmas ham, though! Mmm!! With cheesy potatoes casserole, too! Or White Chicken Chili for a quick Christmas Eve meal! Ok, now my mouth is watering!

7) Favorite holiday memory as a child?
Being in our tiny church and the kids doing the Christmas Nativity "play"; driving around looking at lights after service; my sister and I clearly hearing jingley bells outside my bedroom window one Christmas eve (my room was smack next to the chimney), and seeing a reindeer hoof prints on the snowy roof outside; laying under the tree and looking up at all the twinkly lights......

8) When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don't remember, I think I always just "knew". But my best friend's little brother found out by accident Christmas morning, and he screamed "YOU LIED TO ME!!" and ran upstairs. Not fun! That's part of the reason I told my kids, (though they already "knew" too).

9) Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yup, just one and it's always new jammies to wear that night!!

10) How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
It's different every year! I should post pics on another post! This year there's one that's quite formal in the dining room with lots of real pheasant feathers, one in our family room that's simple and serene, one in the sunroom that's garden/vintage themed, and one in the playroom that's all red glittery stars! The family ornaments are on the sunroom tree right now. That might change, though! :)

11) Snow! Love it or dread it??
Love me a White Christmas!

12) Can you ice skate?
I used to be able to as a kid! Haven't done it in years. I just got my old skates though, but only to decorate with LOL!!!

13) Do you remember your favorite gift?
A few fav's: a wooden sled, a fancy doll and bed and high chair, ballet shoes and lessons, a Nintendo !, and as an adult: finding out my sis-in-law was expecting!

14) What is the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Celebrating the birth of my Saviour Jesus Christ, and being with those I love! As a mom, I also want my children to know the real reason for this season of JOY, and I want to create lovely memories for them as well!

15) What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Without a doubt, Christmas cookies. And my favorite is Cherry Sand Tarts! I'll have to post a recipe!! I feel I need to admit here that I also like fruit cake. But only my hubby's Grandma's version. Yummy! Sue me.

16) What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Going to Christmas Eve services. And having my Daddy read "The Night Before Christmas" every single year, just as he has since I was born! If we aren't together for Christmas that year, we schedule a multi-family conference call to hear "the reading", and listen to Daddy yawn throughout the story! :) That tradition is why I collect Santas! A fav new tradition we've started several years ago is to have a Jesus present. I'll do a post on that, too!

17) What tops your Christmas tree?
A bow or feathers or pretty branches.

18) Which do you prefer -- Giving or Receiving?
Well, it's fun to get gifts :), but I truly have a little wiggly happy dance watching others open their gifts -- way more fun!

19) What is your favorite Christmas song?
Oh Holy Night is just lovely!

20) Candy canes? Yuck or Yum??
Oh, so good! Yummy indeed!! Although I had a nauseous aversion to them when pregnant with my first kid. Anything minty taste or smell made me sick. It only lasted for 5 YEARS! But now I'm back to my candy cane licking days!! :)

21) What do you want for Christmas?
A Longaberger market basket to hold stuff by my family room chair, and to use at the farmers market!

22) Do you attend an annual Christmas party?
Not here in NC, but we did every year in the Chicago area with our church class!

23) Do you dress up on Christmas or wear PJ's?
It depends on which family we're with! We switch every year. My side, definitely PJ's for most of the day. His side, we get dressed in something casual but nicer. It's weird. But so is wearing jammies in front of your father-in-law! :)

24) Do you own a Santa hat?
Nope. And again, no way!!

25) Who do you normally spend Christmas with?
Answered this in #23. Always family, though!

Now, that you know some crazy things about me, and my fingers are about to fall off cause I can never give a succinct answer to these things....I'd like to tag 5 of you lovelies for this meme!! Cause I'm curious what you would say! :)

Here goes:
Shannon at Bless Our Nest
Jenny at The Red Bulletin Board
Rhoda at Southern Hospitality
Kimba at A Soft Place to Land
Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Have a great day today!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our Holiday Weekend

(My parents and us in front of the Biltmore House)

(The girls visit with Santa Claus!)

Wow! What a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend we had :)! Well, it was more like a Thanksgiving, Birthdays, Christmas weekend celebration for us!! My side of the family met at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC for an amazing time together.
This was our first time to the Biltmore, and it was so much fun! The girls and my nephew LOVED the barnyard where they could pet animals and play with old fashioned toys, and later met Santa! We shopped and did a wine tasting, ate delicious meals, and toured the Biltmore house during a candlelight Christmas evening tour -- Gorgeous!!
Another day was spent with the "girls" shopping the village and visiting the Grove Park Inn for tea and seeing the many gingerbread houses on display. We also had a "Christmas morning" where we gathered in my parents' hotel room by the 6ft. fake tree we brought with us :) and opened presents!!
I am so thankful for my family :)!
What did you do this past weekend???

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to You!!!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful day full of blessings!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More Christmas Decorating

Today I'm continuing the Christmas decorating "tour" of my home!
Here are some pictures from our family room! :)

I bought this lovely tassel from Nester at Nesting Place, and I heart it SOOOO much!!
This little Santa's glittered self is perfect with his soft colors and ribbons and trims!
Love it! :)

Here's our "family room tree". Yup, I'm having to specify, cause I've got several trees which are all decorated differently. And I also change things up every couple of years. Maybe I'll do a post on different Christmas trees I've had over the years!

This year since I made a garland for the mantle (see yest. post!), I just did a simple tree in this room to match.
It's a fake tree (soooo much easier in my opinion than real -- burn a pine scented candle!), and I just stuck in more fake greenery like I used in the garland, a mossy green ribbon that I already had, silver tiny jingle bell garland from Michael's, and silver glitter snowflake ornaments from Target (4 for $.99!).

Simple and easy!

The tray on our ottoman with Christmas books, more vintage ornaments, my fav Home Sweet Home Candle, an angel and new cloche from Michaels.

So there ya go! Hope you enjoyed seeing more pictures :)!!
Some of you on the comments yesterday said that you were glad to see I was "keepin' it real" with showing my cord and other things :). Ready for more keeping it real moments??
Here you go!:
My "tree skirt" is actually a lace curtain panel! And I just threw it down there for the photo yest. I was too lazy to get down on my belly and wrap it all the way around the tree!
And it's still exactly like that today!
The ribbon on the tree wasn't long enough to wrap around it. In fact it's not all one piece! I just tucked it around the front and sides.
Same for the garland!
My new cloche still has the white bar code tag stuck on the back behind the angel! I have a thing with those sticky little things -- I hate them, they take effort to take all the way off. Maybe I'll remove it soon. Maybe!! ;)
Lesson?? Work with what you have and go with the flow! :)
Your home can look lovely on a small budget.
"Fake" it till you make it!!!
Have a great day, my friends!

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas?!

Welcome to my mantle! It's all dressed up for Christmas!
(and SITStas -- Welcome to The Blessed Nest! :) I'm so happy that you came for a visit!)
I was super inspired by the Nester's garland tutorial, and here's my version!

I began with 2 el-cheapo 9ft. garlands from Walmart ($4 each). I laid them one on top of the other and intertwined some of the "branches" every couple of feet. This was the main part of my garland. Then I added in other greenery that I already had (I cut up fake stuff and stuck it in there!) to fill it out. Add white lights, more greenery, green berries, pinecones from the yard, and leftover ribbon, and you get a gorgeous-looks more expensive than $8-fabulous-Christmas garland!!

I took these pics on 2 different days, so you'll notice some subtle changes :).
I LOVE these pretty "mercury glass" trees from Michael's! On sale right now, girls!!
I added a few of my vintage ornaments to the mantle as well!

Ok, here's with the bow added :) It matches the ribbon on our family room tree! And it fills out the ends of the garland.
In case you were wondering, I used those 3m Command hooks on top of the mantle to hold it up! Wind a "branch" around it, and you're good to go! Easy-peasy (and it's held for days so far!).

I had originally had a silver Santa plate in the center. It looked good, but even though I collect Santa's, I didn't want anyone to think that it looked like we were honoring Santa as the focus of the season! So the Santa plate got moved to a side table, and I'm planning to get something else for the center. Maybe paperwhites?

Ignore the cord and fabric tacked above one window...you still love me anyway, right? ;)

I just love how this project turned out! Thanks again, Nester, for the inspiration! I'll show you all a bit more of my Christmas decorating tomm.!!
Also, I'm so excited to be one of the Saucy Blogs of the Week over at Secrets In The Sauce (SITS)!!! Thanks you gals :) Woot, woot!!
Have a wonderful, wonderful day!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Creating a Welcoming Home Thursday

I just love our neighbors! We live on a block with some really great people! My children play with their children/grandchildren (there are actually 4 sets of parent/grandparent who actually either live in the same home or across the street/next door to one another! So cool!), and hubby and I talk with the adults on a very regular basis. It helps that we all moved here close to the same time from up north, and that the weather is just so stinkin' fabulous here for most of the year!

I get excited about my neighbors! Probably because I never had neighbors growing up in the country. I've loved every neighborhood we've had (3), which has run the gamut from us being the only non-retirees on the block to having a full mixture of elderly and little ones all having fun at a block party!!

Neighbors can give a hug and a meal after the birth of a new baby, or the loss of a loved one. They can babysit when you need to run to the store, or give advice on growing the greenest grass. They'll give a plate of cookies just to be nice. Impromtu pitch-in's when no mom feels like cooking dinner are the most fun! I like having neighbors!!

So, this year our family is going to tell our neighbors how THANKFUL we are!
The kids will be making cards with me today (handprint turkeys!), that say "We are Thankful....for neighbors like you!"

This Thanksgiving, think about sending an "I'm Thankful for YOU!" card to someone!! It'll make their day!

By the way, dear friends, I'm VERY THANKFUL for YOU!!
Won't you be my "neighbor"?! :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm a Winner!

Yay!!! I actually won something! :) Miss Ruthann from the most divinely lovely blog ever Warm Pie, Happy Home had a blogiversary giveaway, and out of 442 entries, I WON!!! Thank You so much, Ruthann, I LOOOOVE everything!!

Ruthann was SO generous in this giveaway, and I feel so blessed! When I opened my package yesterday, I gasped. Okay, maybe I squealed and did a little happy dance! :) She had everything wrapped so cute in red and white polka-dots! The gifts were almost too pretty to open, but I couldn't contain my excitement for long!!

I won the most darling apron EVER, a string of pearls "to remind you how precious you are", the most amazing smelling Evening Mocha scented candle, and 4 lovely books (some are co-authored by Ruthann! and she actually signed them for me!) that I can't wait to dive into!

Thanks so much, Ruthann! You're so sweet!!

If you haven't read and been blessed by Warm Pie, Happy Home yet, Go & check it out!!