Saturday, December 11, 2010

Days of Play--Make a {Christmas} Wreath!

I made my first wreath this fall and fell in love.

It was cute, unique, totally my style and cheap!  But then I repeat myself.

Consider making a wreath today.

Kiddos can help you pick colors and trimming and can even help design the layout. 

Step #1--Buy your supplies.

We went for a less-is-more candy cane color themed wreath.  I nearly caved to the maroon and gold poinsettias with sparkly cardinals but Matt would have hated it.  So M.E. and I negotiated and the theme "candy cane" worked (bribing her with an actual candy cane may or may not have helped).

I got everything at Michael's for 50% off.  I've listed the BEFORE discount prices.  Wreath 5.99.  Berries 1.99.  Ribbon 1.99.  Ornaments 2.49.  Pointsettas 1.99.  Final price after discount: $7.22

Step #2--Lay out your supplies to get a "feel" for the finished look.

Step #3--Weave the ribbon and berries through your wreath.

Step #4--Add your flowers and ornaments.

#5--Hang on your door and take more photos than necessary :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

30/30--Lessons Learned

On November 7, 2010 I started my 30/30 adventure.

I chose 30 items from my closet and promised not to wear anything else beside those 30 pieces (minus outerwear, underwear, and accessories) for 30 days.

My purpose for doing this was two-fold:
1.  I am constantly fighting the inner, materialistic "me" and I thought using only 30 pieces would greatly help my attitude.  In essence, I wanted to learn to be grateful for what I have and not constantly look for new "things" to make me happy.

2.  I wanted to become more adventurous with my clothing.  It is really easy to have simple, go to outfits. But what happens when you can't wear those?  Well, you get creative.

Tuesday I completed my challenge! {Insert congratulations, cheesecake, and happy dances here}

After 30 (somewhat long) days, I've definitely learned something about my clothes and myself.

What I learned about clothing:
  • I have enough clothing.  30 different outfits from 30 pieces and I didn't even wear all of them more than once.  If you've got more than 30 pieces of clothing, you've got enough too!
  • I didn't do a good job with my picks.  I'm a jeans and sweaters girl and I didn't have enough of either. I had too many work clothes and not enough weather-appropriate gear. This is code for "I froze 19 days out of 30." None-the-less, I made it work!
  • In an effort to play it safe I chose too many neutrals.  And I learned that too many na-na-na-neutrals is ba-ba-ba-boring!
  • I should have stuck to the Real Simple clothing basics list.  I had a black blazer, black dress, and a denim jacket but I put them back.  Why oh why did I do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid!
  • I love my accessories!  Yay for scarves, hats, necklaces, and bracelets!  I've said it before (and now I have pictorial proof), accessories make the outfit.  Bonus that you can find them cheaply!
  • My most-often worn pieces were from thrift stores--not bought new off the shelf.  Let that be a lesson to us all!
  • Though I tired of wearing the same pieces over and over, it was surprisingly easy to have such limited choices.  I didn't have to agonize; I could grab-n-go!
  • I really, really, really love my red MaryJanes.
What I learned about myself:
  • I'm not very creative about putting outfits together.  I play it safe WAY too much!  Ironically, my "wildest" outfits were my most popular ... hmmmmm...........
  • I am not grateful for what I have.  I have a feeling I'll love my clothes a lot more now.  I can't wait for more options in the morning!
  • I am capable of looking at other people's outfits and putting together something similar. 
  • I get grumpy when I don't feel like I look good.
  • I feel great when I feel like I look great.
  • I didn't miss shopping {that much}.
It's amazing what a little "out of the box" challenge like this can do for your life perspective.

Thank you Kendi from Kendi Everyday for hosting this event and congrats to all the bloggers who participated {and finished} the challenge!

My 30/30 Re-Cap 
(Dedicated to the brown blazer I bought for $3 but proved to be worth one hundred times it's value.  Oops, I meant, dedicated to Matt and M.E. for taking pictures and dealing with clothing emotional Reagan)



Don't forget to sign up for my giveaway. ---->Click Here<---- If you want $50!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

{Holiday} Things I Love--My Nativity Set

I am not a collector of things.  I'm not knick-knacky and cutesy.  I love the way all that "stuff" looks in other people's homes but just the thought of having to dust one more item sends me into a panic attack.

Yep, at my house--less is definitely more.

I was pretty surprised when I first saw "Willow Tree" figurines and kinda loved them.  I'm not exactly sure why but I wanted some.  They don't match my decor but something about the faceless people feels really homey to me. (Still, I didn't get carried away.  I have a couple and that's it. No need for the whole collection).

When my mom learned there was a nativity scene of Willow Tree people she asked if she could slowly build me a collection.  I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement because I'd seen the set and loved it but didn't want to pay for it because I'm cheap readily gave her my consent. I'm just nice like that.

So my mom slowly got me pieces. Mary, Jesus, and Joseph on year one.  Year two the creche.  Year three the shepards.  Year four the stars.  Year five the wise men.

And then my mom got sick.

Now she doesn't remember that she started my collection for me.

She doesn't remember it isn't quite finished.

She's forgotten about the other stars, the angel, the angel stand, and the animals.

Last year my mother-in-law lovingly offered to finish the set for me but I just couldn't let her do it.

It might be weird but I love my set just as it is.  I love the memories I have of excitedly waiting for my new pieces each year.  I love that it's from my mom.

Every year I unwrap my nativity set by myself.  I open each piece slowly.  It's kinda like opening a memory.

When I got my nativity set out this year I got all weepy.  Even now my eyes fill with tears as I realize the beautiful reason this nativity set is so beloved to me.

My nativity set is a symbol of my relationship with my mom.

It is no longer growing. 

It is humble.

It is not finished. 

Something is missing.

Yet it's perfectly perfect just the way it is.

My house has great Pre-War II bungalow built ins (which we added, of course, since we just built our house last year).  This one is in my entry way.  I never dress up my nativity scene.  I think the pieces are a bold enough statement on their own.

I use one of my other figurines as the angel every year.

And that's why I love my nativity set.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What I Think About--Christmas v. Xmas v. Happy Holidays

Every year the same drivel gets hashed and re-hashed on the news (because apparently there are no real injustices or humanitarian issues to address).

Should we say "Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" or "Xmas"?

Seriously people, who cares?


I personally say "Merry Christmas" because I love Jesus and I think Christmas is about His birth.


But I also have "Xmas" on my Christmas boxes :GASP:

Now before you pull our your "Put Christ back in Christmas" bumper sticker, let me explain something to you.

We refer to God as the Alpha and Omega (It's biblical).  Did you know those letters are the beginning and the end of the Greek alphabet?  Is anyone offended that we'd refer to God with a O with a line through the middle?  Hardly.

Well in Greek X means "Chi" and is literally the start of the spelling of Christ.  So when I write Christmas XMAS- Christ is still in there.

So back off.

If the plan to use X was a huge conspiracy to make Christmas NOT about Christ, the attempt failed miserably (though I might add that attempts to minimize Christ by making Christmas totally consumer driven has worked beautifully--especially among Christians!).


And now the dreaded "Happy Holidays."

There is a lot of debate about why people say "Happy Holidays."

Some people claim that we say the generic term because there are a lot of holidays during the season so it's more politically correct.

Ohers feel like it is a personal way to attack Christians by claiming Christmas isn't about Christ.

And still others say it because "holiday" is short for HOLY DAY.  And Christmas is a holy day, is it not?

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

But does any of this matter?  Is it *really* worth getting worked up about?

Will saying "Happy Holidays" really cause a fellow Christian to stumble or an unbeliever to NEVER know Christ?

I have a feeling Christians would get a lot farther if they chose their battles.  If they fought for salvation issues--not heart issues.  Sometimes the best witness is to lovingly defer, not fight.

So here's my thought:

This year, instead of boycotting stores that say "Happy Holidays," what if we SHOWED the love of Jesus to people by serving them, not debating common vernacular?

What if we cared more about their salvation than we cared about their Christmas salutations?

What if we let the season be more about HIM that what others say or do? 

What if we got as riled up about human trafficking and poverty and war as we do "Happy Holidays?"

What I think is that the Christmas v. Xmas v. Happy Holidays debate is a ruse to give Christians, who would otherwise be involved in nothing and stand for nothing, a soapbox on which to stand and feel like important "good" Christians.  

Heck, as long as we can argue about linguistics, there's no need to take a stand about what REALLY mattered to Christ--loving people!

So to all those near and dear (and far and estranged) Merry Christmahanakwanstice (I had a student from a multi-religious family wear that shirt once).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

30/30--The End!

Phew.  Today is my last day of the 30/30 challenge.  YAY!

Today I wanted to wear my Express gray frilly coat.  It is a fave but for some reason it just didn't "go" with most of my other 30/30 choices.  I tried it several times and it just didn't work.

I paired it with a black T, jeans, heels, and a pink and purple scarf and it's fine but this isn't my dream outfit.  Oh well, tomorrow morning I'm going to open my closet and a world full of fashion possibilities will greet me.

And I promise not to say "I have nothing to wear" for at least 30 days!

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Christmas Trees

Freshly cut Christmas trees smell divine, don' they?

But cleaning up after a freshly cut Christmas tree can be a disaster!

Ergo, I have a lovely fake tree and I burn a pine smelling candle from Gold Canyon Candles called "Sleigh Ride."

Perfect solution .... for me.

If you love a fresh tree, like my dad, here's one way to help keep the needles on the tree.

Water your Christmas tree.

You're welcome.

No really, water is pretty essential so don't take it for granted.
 Follow these steps:
  1. When you get your tree home cut at least one inch off the base.  You need to do this for every tree that hasn't been cut in the last four hours.  Resin forms on the bottom of trees and keeps water out so if you didn't *just* cut that tree down (or if you just got it from a tree lot), cut off 1 inch minimum.
  2. DO NOT cut the tree in a V shape, at an angle, or drill a hole through the base.  This does not help with water absorption and makes it hard for trees to stand in their bases.
  3. Find a tree stand that fits your tree; don't cut the base down to fit the stand.  The outer parts of the bark are really important (which is why trees have it) so if your base doesn't fit, get a new one.  
  4. Your stand should be able to hold around a gallon of water.  (Yes, your tree might drink a gallon of water in a day). You'll want to refresh the water often; check it at least every other day.  If you are feeling particularly festive, give your tree a drink of 7 UP or ginger ale. **Try not to give your tree water from your water softener.  The sodium in water softeners can dry out your tree**
  5. Be smart about where you put your tree.  Keep it away from heat sources: furnaces, fire places, heating vents ... All of these will dry your tree out (not to mention the fire hazard).
  6. Use low-heat (LED) lights.  And turn them off when you go to bed and leave the house.
  7. If your tree dries out, you can "refresh" it by cutting another inch off the base.  Doesn't that sound dreamy?  No?  Okay then, just keep it watered and you'll be fine through Christmas.
Country Wings in Phoenix

Monday, December 6, 2010

29/30--Easy Peasy!

One more day and I'm done.

Today I pulled out khakis and a white long sleeve shirt and a green ruffly shirt and it was wrong.  All wrong.  Even Matt agreed.

But the white T and khakis seemed so boring.

Matt had a point: I never wear that so even though it seems drab, it's unusual for me.

And it was easy.  After 29 days of missing sweaters and MaryJanes I was ready for easy.

Plus, I wore it with my fave necklace. For some reason I've totally neglected my necklace lovey this whole challenge.  Until today!

Want to know what else is easy?  Signing up to win my giveaway. <---Click that link

Seriously.  $50 could be a click and two comments away.

50 Smackers {A Giveaway}

A while back I posted that I'd host a BIG giveaway when I hit 100 followers.

Then I hit 100 hundred followers the day we got carpet, the day family was flocking to town.  Then it was Thanksgiving and all of a sudden it was December 6th!  YIKES!

So even though I'm late, let me just tell you a

Big Huge THANK YOU for letting me ramble and feel important!

And as my way of giving back, I introduce my fabulous blog giveaway:

50 Smackers!

That's right ladies--50 tubes of Lip Smackers Lip Gloss.  Coca-Cola, Cookie Dough, Watermelon, Sugar Plum ... all your favorite flavors are there!

Who doesn't want 50 tubes of lip gloss?


You don't want 50 tubes of chapstick?

Fair enough.

When I was a freshman I found out (the hard way) that I'm allergic to Lip Smackers.  My lips go so inflamed I looked like the Joker.  I had to walk around for months putting Aquafore on my lips and everyone teased me and said it was KY Jelly.  True story.

Oh well. If I'm not the only one opposed to Lip Smackers I might as well give away 50 Smackers.

As in this guy:
Fine Print: You won't get a $50 bill but a check or card.  I swear it's good.  I just hate mailing cash (though the mail men don't seem to mind ..... hmmmmmmm........)

The Truth:

I was going to give away $100 but then I heard about a cause on WayFM that broke my heart and I gave half the money to them.

It was totally worth it.  If you haven't heard of The Room at the Inn fundraiser for Cure International, please click the link and read all about it!  You can provide a healthy pre-post natal cost of an infant in Afghanistan.  **Warning**Photos on sight are heartbreaking**
---------------->CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION<-------------------

So if you want a chance to win 50 Smackers, here's what to do:

Mandatory (Leave a separate comment for each step and make sure to DO each step or you'll be DQed): 
  1. Become a follower with Google Friend Connect and leave me a comment telling me you are my new follower (if you are already a follower, thank you. Please leave me a comment saying you are still checking up on me).
  2. Tell me what you'd spend the $50 on
Optional (you know, to better your chances):
  • Like me on Facebook (be sure to leave a comment)
  • Blog about this giveaway (leave a link to your post in a comment)
  • Post about this giveaway on your facebook page
This giveaway ends Sunday December 12 at Midnight.  Winner of the $50 will be announced Monday Dec. 13th at NOON so check back!

The super fine print:  This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only (sorry).  And you cannot be related to the blogger.  Sorry, SD!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

28/30--Oh My {and a meal plan}!

Ruffles, and roses, and beads--Oh My!

Reds, and blues, and patterns, Oh My!

This was a fun outfit. 

I felt vogue and shiny all day.

And that's what I call successful dressing :)

I have several of these rosette pins that I add to necklaces and shoes.  A quick-o change-o!

The Polar Express was on TV.

For the record, I love this skirt.

And I pretty much <3 these bold tights, too!

Meal Planning.  Generally I'm a fan but these past two weeks I have been snowed under.  Don't worry.  I've still been feeding my family.

A little late but here's this week's cooking adventure:
Monday--Garlic Parmesan chicken salad
Tuesday--Orange braised chicken thighs with green olives and rice
Wednesday--Salsa beef wraps (and our annual Sweaters-n-Nog party!  Bring on the buckeyes!)
Thursday--Breakfast for dinner (DH will be on a business trip.  Boo!)
Friday--Grilled Cheese and tomato basil soup
Saturday--Lasagna and salad
Sunday--pepper steak and fingerling potatoes