decorating with dodi

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Still Holding On!

This is one of the times of the year that I dread the most! There is something sad to me every year about taking down all of the Christmas decorations. I will miss the sights, the smells, and the sounds of the holiday. But, perhaps, I will most miss all of the memories and togetherness that Christmas evokes. I am always sad to see treasured decorations get boxed up for another year but maybe more so for this holiday. I guess it may have something to do with the fact that we are also saying good-bye to another year...although this has been a rough one for our family and many of our friends and, quite honestly, I am more than ready to hop into the new year!

In any case, as I was looking around today, I remembered a few things I wanted to memorialize. I guess by now, anyone who reads this blog knows that I love all holidays and crafts. Many of my family seem to have inherited that gene and I am always thrilled when hand made gifts show up for any occasion. We didn't get to as many hand made things as we had wanted this year, but here are a few.

When her eyes were better, my mom was the queen of crocheting and knitting and all of our family were beneficiaries for almost every holiday. A hand made gift would come in some form or another. As her eyes and fingers began to get worse, small ( or large ) doillies were usually the gift of choice. We all have so many - and we treasure them - but how many doillies can one home possibly display at one time. Couple that with the fact that my mom can no longer do any shopping but still wants to give gifts and I am hard pressed every holiday to come up with something meaningful that could really still be from her. I always try to use something from her things that are stored at my house and this year I was at a loss when I saw an idea in MS Living. They used doillies purchased from e-bay so how lucky were we to have own own stash conveniently on hand!? They glittered them in various metallic colors and ran them up the middle of a table. My initial intent had been to make 3 for each recipient. I decided to start with an antique gold color that I actually mixed using MS yellow gold, silver and rose quartz. It is pretty and mixes well with any of those colors and all of the mercury glass we are all using these days.

As with all MS designs, what may sound like child's play, usually isn't. This project starts off with stiffening with starch. I had to do each one, on each side, about 3 times. Then you spray with adhesive. I had an old shower curtain liner so I put it out on the floor and did one doilly in the middle at a time. Let me just say "over spray" - even in the middle of a shower curtain. My feet stuck to my wooden floors many, many feet away. The glitter disappears like socks in the dryer! You pour it on and try to shake off and it is gone-and not necessarily covering the doilly. When you finally get it covered, you let it dry and then spray with hair spray. I know the idea is to set the glitter, but if you could see my skin, hair, floors and table tops, you would know that that idea isn't fool proof. I will say, that when I looked back on the original picture, I don't think MS totally covered her doillies in glitter. Perhaps just the hint of glitter. Of course, it took me many, many bottles of expensive glitter before that thought hit me. I am sure by the time we store these away and bring them out again next year, that will be a lot less glitter on the doillies and a lot more on everything they were stored next to! In any case, everyone loved them and they will be another remembrance of my mom for many years to come.

My oldest grand daughter has always been crafty. And why not? I have had her hands in glue and glitter ever since she could sit up. She always comes up with unique and meaningful gifts and this year was no exception! My husband, I think like most men, is not easy to shop for. He has recently been tauting "his" new strawberry smoothie. He is making one every morning for breakfast and very proud of the fact that he has it so precise now that his concoction perfectly fills an old 22 oz. Gator cup-a remnant from a long ago drink at a football game. Hannah decided his recipe ws worthy of a finer vessel so she made him his own, personalized smoothie cup. He is thrilled! He loves it and I am happy to have a much prettier cup in the midst of all of the mess left in the sink after he is finished every morning.

Hannah knows how much I love my family pictures so she made me a personalized clock this year. The photo face is wonderful but the message around the side says it all..."don't count every hour in the day; make every hour in the day count!"

I'm not very proud of it, but the only other holiday craft I completed this year was for my sons-in-law. They're reindeer beer bottles. They were all over the blogs this season and just struck me as funny. Still have all of my other wonderful ideas on my Pinterest Christmas board-maybe next year!!! For now, I am going to milk every last bit of the holiday out of the next two days. I will admit to already looking at old Valentine blogs from last Valentine's Day and I'm sure I will be pulling down the Rubbermaid containers before too long. I used to decorate for winter in the first part of January but didn't leave that up long enough to make it worth my while. Now, I go straight from Christmas to Valentines. If you are ready to do the same, stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

So many photos... little time!

This is the picture that started it all. We took it on Thanksgiving. I had hoped to get a really good picture of my husband and me and all of the kids but that is usually just a pipe dream because if we are all together to take a picture, it probably means it is a special occasion and they are all too excited to stand still and take instruction. We got a few that were O.K. but then I brought out the props I had made. I saw this idea on Pinterest and they seemed to work-at least they all stood still long enough to get this picture. I used it in my Christmas cards.

In a previous post I mentioned that my son-in-law took some of the kids to see the "crazy house" in St. Pete. He took these pictures on his phone and sent them to me. You can get an idea why the kids call this the "crazy house" as it is really someone's home and covered head to toe, inside and out in holiday sparkle! Fun to visit, but I don't think I would want to live there-or anywhere near there for that matter as it does cause quite a crowd every year!

As I was thinking of this post and all of the pictures I took over my numerous celebrations of Christmas, I realized that the only true measure of the holiday was on the faces of those that I love. Thought I would spare you the typical opening presents, trying out new toys, etc. pictures and concentrate on the true feelings of Christmas. I left out the grown-up faces as requested, but just know that there were just as many smiles amongst that group as you will see on the younger ones!

Got to share a nice long visit with my mom. She was having a really good day this particular day and we got to share many laughs about holidays past! She looked so festive in the holiday shirt I got for her. It is still really difficult not having her with us for the holidays but her health hinders her leaving the nursing home any more and, quite honestly, I don't think she really realizes how her life has changed of late. She is very secure and happy where she is and that is all that we can ask for. Each of my daughters and their children had a chance to visit with her this holiday so she had more that enough excitement for the occasion!

There are lots of stories behind those faces-especially the one full of peanut butter, but I will just leave it at that.

We had appetizers at Jen's house before heading to mine for gifts and dinner and managed to sneak in one more picture. The days were full and hectic but bursting with love and togetherness. It has been a challenging year for our family and nothing solidifies us more than our chances to be together. The true gift of the day is our family! I hope you and yours had as many chances to make memories as we did. I am going to enjoy the rest of this week with more Christmas music, lights on throughout the house, lunch with friends and a few more quick get- togethers with family.

After that, my mind will begin thinking of the new year. I don't make resolutions any more because I never kept them but I am thinking of some projects I would like to start and there is always another holiday on the horizon. I am already "seeing hearts and flowers" so stay tuned.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Deck the Halls...

and the mantles, and the windows, and the doorways-well, you get the idea!

Today is Christmas Eve and we are supposed to be on our way to daughter #2 in a few hours but I still had some last minute things to do so I thought I would clean up enough to take a few pictures and wrap up this tour.

This is our family room. I use white lights in almost all of the house except this room and the sunroom - which I just remembered I forgot to photograph so you will have to accept my word on that. These are the rooms where the children are most often and I have always used colored lights in these ares. To me they are more childlike-happy and bright as opposed to the more formal white lights. It doesn't show up in these pictures, but there are a lot of colored lights in this room!

The mantle is a bit different this year. I love the lanterns and wanted a more rustic feel. Didn't quite get what I was going for but never had time to go back and tweak.

I told you you would see this bowl of pine cones again. I simply added some fresh greenery and it was perfect for Christmas!

I LOVE our tree this year. We had to cut off so much to fit it into our 8' ceilinged room-it was truly majestic before the chain saw came out but we love a tree with lots of breadth-we've actually had wider ones but this tree was so fresh it has continued to take over a quart of water every day since it went into the stand and has hardly shed a needle. I keep it lit all day as I just love looking at it. It is full of so many memories and lots of new ones as well as everyone knows an ornament is always a good gift for me. I try hard to hang every one every year. I use lots of the simple balls further in the branches and the "meaningful" ones out where they are more easily seen. I love the sparkle coming from deep within the tree.

I love my old red cupboard! There is quite a story behind it. May have to tell you some day. In any case, I added more shelves to it and it now houses our collection of movies for easy picking. The kid movies are stored out in a piece in the sunroom so they can reach them and get them going all by themselves these days.

Not much explanation needed for much of this. I did change up some things this year. Kind of went a little more natural and held off some of the cutesy things. Of course, if it was a gift from a child or grand child, it is still there somewhere. The fridge is covered with Christmas crafts from many years ago. They may not pass Martha's decor test, but it wouldn't be the same without them!

That is the quick tour. So many things to talk about but that will have to wait. We will be spending Christmas Eve and morning in Gainesville. Before leaving, we will visit and have lunch with my mom. Then it is back to Ocala and the afternoon and dinner at daughter #3's house. Then, on the 26th, we will all meet again at Jen's for the afternoon and appetizers before heading back to our house for presents and our traditional Christmas meal. Uh, I forgot, this year we are going for pizza. More about that at another time. I will be back before you know it with lots to share. Until then, have a blessed and family-filled Christmas and stay tuned!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Fun Continues

My oldest daughter always hosts a cookie exchange party every year. This year, my youngest daughter, her 3 kids along with grand daughter #3 and Kris' own daughter, Caitlin, who we were returning to St. Pete from her visit in Ocala, hopped into the car and we were off.

I have been so far behind this year that I really had very little time to debate cookies or presentation. I saw an "Andes Mint Chocolate Cookie" recipe on Pinterest so I tried it. This recipe did not tell you the quantity it would produce, so it was kind of hard deciding how many batches to bake and since I had the girls with me that weekend, I really didn't want to spend much time in the kitchen as we have other things we love to do when we get together.

Any way, the recipe produced JUST enough for each attendee to receive 6 with just 1 left over for us to give it a taste. One cookie split 4 ways. It was O.K., but I don't think I will ever make it again. Now, I should confess that 1. I am really not much of a cookie person-much prefer savory snacks and 2. I'm not much of a chocolate person. If by chance you would like to try this cookie and form your own opinion, the recipe is on my Christmas Pinterest board.

My middle daughter and I worked on the presentation as I am told "presentation is everything"! We found the mugs at the $ Tree and Becky found the individual serving packet of cocoa at Fresh Market. Our thinking was 'cookies and a hot mug of coca'. They turned out pretty cute.

Here is the table full of everyone's offerings. After much visiting fueled by so many delicious appetizers and holiday beverages, we went into the livingroom to talk about our cookie and share any funny stories that may be involved-and believe me, with the time crunch everyone is on, many funny stories abounded. Maybe we should do a holiday cookie exchange in July when saner minds prevail. I shared that my first attempt had been a double chocolate shortbread cookie that the 2 year old took one bite of and handed back. When her mom attempted to hand her another she shook her head and refused it. Unfortunately, the rest of us concurred and that recipe hit the trash! Also, why do we all feel we must try something new-never before approved by our harshest critics, our families. I guess we all want to avoid the mundane but there IS something to be said about tried and true!

Any way, we all had a wonderful time-kids included as their Uncle Rich piled 6 kids and the black lab into the car and they headed off to dinner and then viewing of Christmas lights. It must have been a truly successful adventure as the 6 year old ran in telling us they had gotten to tour the "crazy house" (yes, it really is. There isn't a square inch not covered in some kind of Christmas decor. I think this house was once featured on HGTV. They let you tour the inside which is just as decorated as the outside-it really is a must see if you are in St. Pete...but, I digress) and the 2 year old was sound asleep. Thanks Uncle Rich-service above and beyond the call of duty!

Needless to say, this little one gets lots of attention!

My daughter's home is always beautifully decorated. This is her living room this year. Believe it or not, this is a small tree for them. It is usually about 18' and has to be set up by professionals but after a fall last year and many irreplaceable ornaments broken, they decided to reign it in a bit. You can see all of her home decor and adventures getting there on her blog, "Life in the Carline". If I were a bit more computer savvy, I could link you up but sadly, I am not. I think you can get there via Google or something.

On our way home on Tuesday, we stopped at the Shoppes of Wiregrass. The brave ones ice skated. It was fun as the rink was in the middle of one of the squares of this beautiful outdoor mall, so people came by and chatted and shared stories of skating from their childhood.

Then, we stopped and visited with Santa. Santa was wonderful and truly enjoyed talking to Harrison and Hudson. They were conversing about all sorts of things like Santa had all the time in the world. Don't know how the parents in line behind us felt, but the boys loved it. Don't have any candid pics to share as this set-up requested that NO photos be taken even if you were purchasing a package. After the fact, I realized that there really wouldn't have been anything they could have done if I snapped one or two, but I follow all rules and where would my Christmas spirit be if I defied Santa?

Of course, once they spied the train, that became the perfect ending for a perfect 5 days! Time spent with loved ones hopefully making memories for a lifetime...the best gift ever!

Now I am back to reality.Wwill try to mop up some loose ends today and get a few pictures of the rooms left to visit. Stay tuned.