Saturday, November 29, 2008


It has been a wonderful couple of days. Truly days to reflect on our many, many blessings. Days to spend as a family. To be grateful for our health, strength, home and each other. Our freedom. We are truly, truly blessed.

We spend much of the afternoon decorating our home for Christmas. And for the first year I have relinquished control of the actual decorating of the Christmas tree. Needless to say, there is a bit of "bunching"... As I unwrapped the angels that go on our big Christmas tree, the kids came and held out their little index fingers for my to hang an ornament on. They would then pick a spot on the tree to hang it up on. Even Josh got into the action, and there was nothing cuter than seeing him come walking up to me with his little finger extended, going over to the tree, plopping down and hanging the angels on the lowest bough.

And you know, our tree has never looked more beautiful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Calling All Roadkill

Sam has decided that since he gets his friend party this year, he wants to have a "Davy Crockett" themed birthday party. That's where you guys come in. Apparently I'll have to come up with a dozen coon-skin caps for the party-goers. So if you happen to see a raccoon lying suspiciously still along the roadside...let me know. :-)

And have a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving tomorrow!! Megs is up and we're starting the pies and rolls this afternoon. I also had another doctor appointment today and got better meds for my poor ear infection. So things are looking very bright, indeed!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pullin' a "Wendy"

In our family, my sister-in-law Wendy is the ultimate consumer. We go to a cruddy antique store? She finds the one really, REALLY cool thing. And then gets it for half the marked price. She is never afraid to ask for the deal, and she usually gets it. So her name has become synonymous with getting a steal. Last week, I pulled a Wendy. Literally. In the strip mall that houses our local Hobby Lobby, there was a restaurant called Summer Kitchen Cafe. And in the last few weeks, the building has been painted and the restaurant has gone out of business. Last week, I was having a crummy day so I ran over to Hobby Lobby for some retail therapy after the kids went to bed and noticed that the painters had taken all the letters from the Summer Kitchen Cafe down and thrown them in a pile on the sidewalk. So on my way back to my car, I took advantage of the dark to sort through the pile of letters. Most of them were cracked or broken, but one of the "m"s was in great shape. It needs a little TLC, but was intact. Under cover of night, I threw it in the back of my car. And giggled all the way home. It's huge, but wouldn't it look cute over a family room sofa? Maybe in our next home, there will be a perfect spot for it.

And in other "m" news, Lemon Annie has been spotlighting cool Christmas tree decorating ideas and one of these was using miscellaneous letters to decorate a tree. We all know how I feel about "m"s and I get a lot of them as gifts. So I dug out all my hanging "m"s and made a few more with frame ornaments with rub-on "m"s applied in the window and added some cool aqua blue ball ornaments. It turned out pretty cool! Now, I have to figure out where to hide it until after Thanksgiving so Tony won't give me a hard time...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend in Review

First of all, thanks to everyone that entered my giveaway...the stars are making their way to Becky's home.

As for the rest of the weekend? Challenging to say the least. I ended up going to the doctor on Friday and got some antibiotics for an ear infection that seems to not want to die! Here it is Monday and I still have so much pressure in my ear that I can barely hear. Yuck. I was crazy enough to try and run the Turkey Trot anyway, even though I felt like crud, and my performance showed it. I ran it in my regular training time, but didn't reach my goal. But there's a race next month, so I'll have another chance soon to show the track who's boss.

And in other news, I went to the Friday night showing of Twilight with a bunch of girlfriends. We had a wonderful time, but I'd only give the movie a solid C+. I probably would have been generous and given it a B- except for having to endure all the teenage girl squeals every time Edward came on the screen. Ack. Were we ever like that??

I think not.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

3 Mini Barn Star Giveaway Winner!!

The winner of the 3 mini barn star ornaments is... Becky!

Becky said...
Love these! How do you find time for all your projects? Thanks for the giveaway and all the fun posts.

November 20, 2008 11:59 AM

Tony and I are off to run in a Turkey Trot this morning...wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Barn Star Tutorial

**Updated** Here are a few resources I have found for barn stars...I haven't purchased from any of these sites...just my persoanl disclaimer.
American Tin Star
Country Style Home There are several pages of stars on this site, including smaller ones.
Jolie Primitives

I had a request for a tutorial on how to cover barn stars with paper. So here we go! If you click on the photos, they will pop-up bigger. If something isn't clear, just leave me a comment and I'll do my best to answer it.

1. Make a template of one of the sides of your star's legs. The more carefully you do this step, the easier your star will be.

2. From assorted paper, cut 10 of your templates. But make sure you do five of each direction for a total of ten. This is the hardest part...I always lay my paper out so I get the right order and the right direction out of each paper piece.

3. Next, apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the star with a foam brush (I used matte on this project) and place a piece of the paper on the star. It is more important that the edge along the creases of the star match...we can trim the overhang a little later. The thinner you apply the Mod Podge, the quicker you need to work and the less bubbles you'll have to work out. Press the paper nice and flat. Then apply another layer of Mod Podge on top of the paper you just placed on your star. Continue on all sides of the star. Allow to dry.

4. Cut the extra paper off along all the outside edges of your star and apply another coat of Mod Podge focusing on the new edges you just created, and allow to dry.

5. When the star is dry, lightly sand along all the outside edges to make them nice and smooth and to take off any extra paper you couldn't get close enough to trim with scissors. Don't worry if the paper turns white along the edge you sanded...we'll be fixing that in the next step.

6. Using a sponge and some ink of your choice (I used Distress Ink in Brushed Corduroy) apply ink to ALL edges of the star, even in crease and anywhere two different papers meet. This will help camouflage any little mess-ups and give the star a little character. When you are happy with the way your star looks, apply one last coat of Mod Podge to seal everything.

7. When your star is dry, add some tulle or ribbon to hang and you have a paper-covered barn star!!

Can you believe that this is my 300th post?? So to celebrate, I'm having a little giveaway. Leave a comment on this post between now and Saturday morning and my non-partial 5-year-old will pick a name out of a hat to win a set of three mini-barn stars to hang on your Christmas tree or to give as gifts. And if you want to press your luck, my sister April is having a giveaway on her blog. Good luck!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Go Ahead... me a nerd. I can take it. I actually bought the new David Cook CD today. Seriously. How could I not after he inspired this lady to cast her first AI vote this past season? And I like it. A LOT. The first track? Yeah, David got a little help writing it from Johnny Rzeznick from the Goo Goo Dolls.

And remember our Halloween stars? Well, we have all gone a little star crazy around here. This past weekend, I found a killer deal on a big barn star at Gordmans and covered it in Rusty Pickle paper. I love the way it looks against my red front door.

Stay tuned...I have some others projects in the works that I will be sharing soon!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Miss Ashley

**UPDATED** If the following story isn't enough to give you a fit of giggles on this lovely Monday, head over to Chocolate on My Cranium and see what your nifty name is. Mine is "I ran over a monster because I'm cool like that." If you do it, let me know what your name is!!

On our morning carpool to take Sam and Miss Ashley to school today, we were excited to ask Ashley all about her trip to visit her daddy this past weekend, who is working at a rural hospital for the next few weeks. They left during the school day so Ashley missed the last half of the Kindergarten on Friday. She told us all about the fun things they did and how she was actually going to miss school today, too, but her mom drove back last night so that she could go today, and not miss art.

Me: Ashley, that was so nice of your mommy!

Ashley: Yeah, I really like school. (LONG PAUSE). Almost more than I like my parents.

I'm sure Liz will be glad to know it.

Have a good Monday!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

8 Favorites

What a week! I say again, what a week! Tony was in Louisiana for a course, we had play dates galore, I helped with preschool swimming, we had our huge quarterly enrichment activity, a craft day with the ladies, and an endless stream of Christmas projects. The last of which I can't post about because it would ruin too many a surprise. So I grabbed this fun meme from Marisa, because, well, there'll probably be no surprises here.

8 Favorite TV Shows:
1. Law & Order
2. The Office
3. Grey's Anatomy
4. Law & Order: SVU
5. The Amazing Race
6. Survivor (I'm a die-hard)
7. The Biggest Loser
8. Dancing with the Stars

8 Favorite Restaurants
1. Simon & Seaforts
2. PF Changs
3. Cafe Rio
4. Red Lobster
5. Orsos
6. Panera Bread
7. Grisantis
8. Moe's

8 things I did Yesterday:
1. Carpooled
2. Swam with Anna's preschool class
3. Worked on Christmas presents
4. Stayed awake until Tony flew home from Louisiana
5. Did 3 loads of laundry
6. Finally finished The Three Musketeers
7. Watched all my shows I missed on Thursday night while I ran
8. Bought Sam new boots for his first deer hunting trip

8 Things I look forward to:
1. Thanksgiving stuffing
2. The first snowfall
3. Starting a new book tonight
4. A new week
5. My kids wakey-uppey faces in the morning
6. Time to work on my DC scrapbook
7. Wearing my new Steve Madden shoes to church on Sunday
8. Sam's baptism

8 things I love about fall
1. Go Big Red
2. Flannel sheets
3. Thanksgiving
4. Hot chocolate
5. Changing leaves
6. Mittens
7. Blankets and movies in the basement
8. My birthday

8 things on my wish list
1. Happy kids
2. An extra 5 hours in a day
3. A week in Hawaii
4. A double-sized crock-pot. Seriously.
5. Two more hands
6. That my kids would grow up slower
7. A spring form pan
8. World peace

Have a good Sunday everyone!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lena's Baby Quilt

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted about the baby shower invites that I did for my sister-in-law, Lena? Well, her shower was this past weekend and so I can finally share her baby gift with you without ruining the surprise! I have done lots of little quilts, but never a real project. But since I wasn't going to be able to go out for the shower and since this is Lena's first baby, I wanted to do something special. So I made a pinwheel quilt that I found a tutorial for on V & Co.'s blog. I also used Vanessa's tutorial for binding the quilt.

It turned out lovely...not perfect...but lovely. I can't wait to meet my new little niece. We love you guys!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm a Little Acorn, Brown...

This year at my local Hobby Lobby they had the cutest wooden acorns. I ended up buying a few for my Harvest decorations, but it wasn't until Joan's visit that we decided that they might make adorable visiting teaching gifts for the month of November. So we bought a bunch (in fact, we cleaned them out) and I did a quick search and found a quote on gratitude to finish up the ones that Joan needed for her ladies as she finished getting packed up to fly home. I inked the edges, and then zig-zag stitched around the paper onto burlap and frayed up the edges.

Here are the quotes we used:

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."--Cynthia Ozick

"Our ordinary mind always tries to persuade us that we are nothing but acorns and that our greatest happiness will be to become bigger, fatter, shinier acorns. Our faith gives us knowledge of something better: that we can become oak trees.'
--E.F. Schumacher

Happy November!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

DC Memorials

On Wednesday after the Holocaust Museum, I walked back to the Mall. I started at the Washington Monument and the did a huge loop around, visiting all the Memorials. Maybe it is our family's military heritage, both past and present, but these memorials symbolize more to me than the ultimate price of war: a gratitude for the willing sacrifice of these men and women for something bigger than themselves.

This was the first time I have seen the WWII Memorial. A fitting reminder of "The Greatest Generation."

As I approached the Vietnam Wall, I saw two men, pacing back and forth across the sidewalk that leads to the Memorial. Heads down. Obviously working through their minds and hearts, trying to decide whether to take that step. I can only imagine the pain of these men, visitng a place dedicated to such misery and loss. This is the only picture of me I have from the trip...reflected in the wall.

Then the Lincoln Memorial. They were setting up a huge placard out in front of the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday for visitors to write messages to President-elect Obama near the spot where MLK delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech. Amazing.

Without a doubt, my favorite Memorial was the Korean War Memorial. It wasn't quite completed when I was in DC last, and it is even more powerful completed. On the ground, carved into the sidewalk, are these words: "Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."

This is the WWI Rotunda.

I have just one complaint about this day...can they make it ANY harder to get to the FDR and Jefferson Memorials? After two false starts and a close call with a blue sedan, I finally made my way to the FDR Memorial. I must admit, I didn't know very much about FDR. Now I know that he was in his wheelchair for his entire 4 terms as President. I know his beloved dog was named Fala. And I know that this man was a crusader for liberty, democracy, peace and equal rights. I could have spent all day there reading the quotes of this great man carved into the walls of the Memorial.

And, ah, the elusive Jefferson Memorial. I finally got a good shot of it outside the FDR Memorial along the Tidal Basin. I never made it all the way over (the biggest regret of the trip), but I had to save something for the next visit. And now I know how to get there without getting squashed by DC traffic.

And just as a final note about my last day in DC. Yes, I was the ONLY nerdy adult who bought a Kids' Club Memorial Passport to stamp all the sites I visited along the way. And I even earned my nifty pin at the end. So there.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Holocaust Museum

I knew this had to be the first stop on my second day exploring the Mall. I just finished re-reading one of my very favorite books, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which follows the story of a German girl and her foster family who hide a Jewish man in their basement during WWII, so the anguish was already at an almost unbearable level before I even got through the door.

They don't let you take any pictures inside the exhibit, but I did want to share a few impressions that I had while there. The first, is that although the things I saw there were unthinkably terrible, it wasn't so much about what you see there but about how you feel. I felt shame knowing that the first victims of Hitler were the handicapped and disabled. I felt embarrassed that there were hair color guides and wall charts describing the ways to identify "non-Aryans." I felt very small standing in hallways filled with names and faces of people I will never met, and who suffered unthinkable abuse when I am safe and free. I felt angry when the teenagers there on a high school field trip laughed and texted instead of mourning. It made we wonder if I would have been one of the truly brave, who reached out to help those around them, to hide them, to save them, or would I have turned away, content to know that I wasn't the persecutor or the persecuted.

One of the most powerful exhibits was a walkway that connects two rooms. In the alcove between the two rooms and under the walkway were hundreds and hundreds of pairs of dusty shoes. Shoes taken from the feet of Jewish prisoners moments before they were led to the gas chamber. If you can't read the words on the wall, it is a quote by the Yiddish Poet Moses Schulstein that says:

"We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.
We are the shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers,
From Prague, Paris and Amsterdam,
And because we are only made of fabric and leather
And not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire. "

The museum makes it a point that we know, as visitors, that we become part of the witness of the Holocaust. That it happened. That it could happen again. Now I am part of that witness. And as I was leaving, I passed a little grey-haired lady who is a Holocaust survivor. Someone who volunteers to talk to visitors, and I bet more often than not, comfort them after the horror they had just seen. Me? I couldn't even look her in the eye as I walked by. I will never know what she lived through. But I CAN bear witness.

The Smithsonian Exhibits

So, as the title suggests, I spent the last few days in Washington DC! Tony was selected to attend an annual JAG convention called "Keystone" at the swanky Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland right on the Potomac River. Since Joan was already coming for Tony's promotion ceremony, she graciously agreed to stay some extra days and take care of the kiddos while I flew out to spend some days exploring DC and the evenings (including watching election results) with Tony. That is what finally pushed me over the edge of making the trip...who wouldn't want to be in DC on election day!?

Tuesday, I took a bus to the Metro station and then the Metro to the Mall and the trip took about an hour. But I felt like such a capable grown-up for doing it all by myself...the last time I was in DC was 10 years ago and I was with a friend.
I spent the entire day exploring the Smithsonian exhibits...starting with the National Gallery where the highlights included Vermeer and Rothko...I can't believe I'm actually admitting this, but seeing this Vermeer made me short of breath! I'm such a Dutch masters nerd.Then the National Archives, the Smithsonian Castle for lunch and a visit to the Smithson Crypt and then the Natural History Museum (where I wished that I'd had Sam with me) and the Hope Diamond. Nice.

DC was glorious...the leaves were all changing color but still on the trees and the overcast skies made for really nice pictures for both days I spent on the Mall. Thank goodness, because my camera broke just as I was packing to leave, so please forgive me if photo stuff is off until I get used to Tony's camera and editing. But some of the highlights of Tuesday was seeing all the "I Voted" stickers. It made me so happy to see that so many people exercised their right to vote!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Field Trippin'

I may be a little quiet over the next few days...I'm going on what my kids are calling a "field trip." That's all I'm going to say, but when I get home, I'll have lots to share.

And for those of you who have lots of leftover Halloween candy, but no ideas for FHE tomorrow night, check out Cocoa's wonderful FHE lesson about the Candy Bomber of post-WWII Germany here.

Catch up with you soon!