December 30, 2012

A little bit artsy

While I was looking for inspiration for a 2013 journal project, I went back to some of the mini albums I have created over the years. I thought I would share a few!

I'll have more about what I found for 2013 in time for the new year!

December 26, 2012

Down time.

Christmas in our house usually includes books. If you are looking for a good read, we've got you covered!

New books and e-books in our house include:
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
May We Be Forgiven
In Sunlight and in Shadow
Don't Put Me In Coach
Tales of the Jazz Age
Water for Elephants
In the Garden of Beasts

Children's picture books:
Home for Christmas
The Carpenter's Gift: A Christmas Tale about the Rockefeller Center Tree

Would have been a gift spoiler

Over the years my side of the family has grown to to the point that exchanging gifts would mean buying for 11 other people, so last Christmas we decided to exchange names. This year I got my other sister.

A few years ago I chaperoned my daughter and her friends at the Warped Tour (actually I love alternative and wanted to go too, but all the parents think I took one for the team). My other sister agreed to go with. Turns out she likes the old school, political message alternative music. We bounced between stages all day.

When I saw "vinyl records" on her list, I was so happy. I went to several different music stores looking for the perfect album.

I settled on Barry Manilow Live - a two album set with all his best music - because who doesn't love the Copacabana? As a kid, I listened to that album over and over and over - and there was probably some hair brush microphone singing in there somewhere too. In my defense I was raised on Abba, the BeeGees, and Kenny Rogers.

Then I bought a whole bunch of real albums for her: Loverboy, The Police, Jefferson Starship, Genesis, Heart.... cuz I couldn't find Pennywise or Pearl Jam on vinyl.

If anyone else had drawn her name, she would have gotten lotion and candles. Now you see why I couldn't share this day's album page until after the gift giving was done.

December 25, 2012

December 25!

It's amazing how that big pile of boxes is reduced to the little stash of goodies under the tree!

December 24, 2012


I asked my middle daughter to take some pictures of the tree and gifts. She took this pic with my point and shoot Canon using color accent and the close up setting. Beautiful!

December 23, 2012

December 23 - Christkindlemarket

One of the things on our family list this year was to go to Christkindlmarket in Chicago. Years ago the oldest went there with her school, and has wanted to go back since. Now we all know why. Freshly roasted pecans, real potato pancakes, and the most beautiful European holiday gifts - most of them authentic, hand-made.

December 21, 2012

The blizzard of 2012

The news people have been forecasting the end of the world by snow for a week now in the Midwest. Rumor has it that some parts of the state received 20 inches of snow, but we got just a few inches of slushy stuff. To make a snowman, the kids would have to roll the entire yard.

And yes, yes that is grass sticking out through the snow.

December 18, 2012

Leftovers or white elephant?

The oldest is in the military while she is in college, and sometimes does weekend trainings. We accumulated a little collection of army rations in our pantry. I added a few to our camping kit. The ones that had been opened, I put in a basket thinking if they looked like food maybe people would eat them.

Turns out that the apple cinnamon apples are just like applesauce, the banana nut muffin top wasn't bad, and peanut butter, well, peanut butter is always good.

Maybe some of my deer-hunting, ice fishing Wisconsin friends would want some "wheat bread" to take along in the tree stand or shanty. Or, use as a white elephant gift. But I have dibs on the hazelnut cocoa!

December 17, 2012

We'll just be over here....

I was scrolling through the photos from the weekend, and apparently not everyone was so interested in making the cookies.

December 16 - Cookies

I gave my middle daughter a list of cookie supplies to add anything else she wanted before I left for the store. She didn't add any food, just the artwork. :)

See all the days of December.

Yum! Yum!

This weekend was cookie weekend. The kids chose all their favorites from our recipe collection. We made a lot of peanut butter dough. We also made several others to use as gifts for friends and coworkers.

These are chocolate cherry nuggets. My BFF makes these for me every year (Janet - these are gifts for other people - if you made me some I will still eat them... all). Now I know why I love them - it's practically a frosting recipe with a little bit of flour.

December 16, 2012

December 15 - De-Hustle and Bustle

This is my kind of holiday shopping. A cup of caramel coffee and Amazon.

December 14, 2012

December 13 - Blessed

December 13 was my birthday. I am so grateful for all the people in my life who sent Facebook messages, texts or warm thoughts. I was still getting belated birthday wishes a day later. I posted this quote on my wall, and it could not be more true.

It is a good thing to be rich, and it is a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be loved of many friends. ~Euripides

December Daily - Can I get a do-over?

I have been struggling with my December daily album from day one. I have spent way more time than I wanted trying to make it work, when really, I just should have started over a long time ago.

So today I gave in, and while I was at Target I bought a $2 album and $3 worth of stickers to start over. The cover is done, now on to the pages...

December 12, 2012

The art of organizing... wait, I meant the organizing of art.

I am a great organizer. When the kids were little we had a three drawer containers in the closet by the door. When the kids emptied the papers out of their backpacks they went into their drawer. When the drawer got full it went upstairs to the closet into a Rubbermaid bin with a lid. At the end of the school year the bin went in the attic to be sorted later. It was a brilliant system!

There was, however, one flaw. Three kids, times 20-30 pieces of homework a week, multiplied by thirteen years (not including preschool), equals roughly 4.5 million pieces of homework.

So over the summer, I decided that this would be the year I would tackle the bins in the attic. I started with the most sentimental - the preschool artwork. This is one of four large boxes and several other smaller bins and boxes before I started.

And this is now. There are three bins with the work all organized in nice little piles. I am still looking for something more safe from an archival perspective, but this will do for now. I took digital pictures of everything and backed them up on an external hard drive. I threw away the stuff that was mouse eaten, and to prevent any further snacking, I tossed anything else with beans, seeds, or cheerios - I had no idea the kids did so many projects with food.

All the stuff I tossed is sitting in the garage waiting for the perfect winter day for a bonfire. It makes me feel better to ceremoniously burn it than just throwing their childhoods in the trash (and no comments from the peanut gallery about any symbolic meanings of burning it - it's working for me).

At some point I will go back to do another sort and purge, and keep only the really special pieces. After the holidays I am planning to sort through the pics to find the best of the best digital photos for some beautiful Shutterfly books. Then it's onto the grade school years....

December, Day 10

Our December Daily album is coming along!

I am a list maker - if I don't write things down I forget for sure. The kids have started mentioning things they want to do: drive around and see the Christmas lights, make potato pancakes, go out to dinner as a family. I started adding  them to our calendar to make sure we plan time to do them.

Makdoodle has cute printable Christmas Bucket List - filled in or just the blank border. I might put our list in a frame and use erasable marker to check them off as we go. What a cute idea to keep our ideas where we wont forget them!

December 10, 2012

No snow for you!

Snow for everywhere else but here. Even the little village in the window has more snow than we do. Bah.

December 9, 2012

Scrappy trees

While the oldest was home last weekend we made some easy scrappy Christmas cards to send with the pop top surprise gifts.

December 8, 2012

December Daily...a little late

Ali Edwards hosts a project called "December Daily" documenting the 25 days leading up to Christmas. It was so much fun to look back at my December Daily 2010 that I decided to do it again this year.

I collected this great assortment of fun paper, stickers and ribbons. I pictured this whimsical Dr. Suess, Grinch, Whoville album. I started the album and I wasn't feeling it. 

So I asked my middle daughter, the artist, for some help. She pulled out the markers and the kitchen became a flurry - blizzard - of design.

She took that boring album and added such style. This is not at all what I pictured, and I love it. 

Comment, I dare ya.

I was sitting in the bleachers last night - duh Friday night, where else would I be? On a time out, my friend, Ann, hollered down from two rows up, "You know I read your blog, but commenting was really a pain."

Why has no one told me this before? Like spinach in your teeth, or toilet paper on your shoe, or food spilled on the front of your shirt (people do tell me about that - because is happens a lot). It's hard to say... but people would rather know than not.

So, thank you ANN for letting me know so that I could find a better comment system. I think y'all are gonna like it....

December 7, 2012

Just don't eat the players.

Last night the youngest was trying to explain a basketball term to her dad, and he just wasn't getting it.

"I know," she said as she grabbed a handful of star bursts out of the candy dish,  "I'll use mom's way of explaining." I smiled as she drew a court and set up the two teams.

Years ago, my middle daughter tried out for club basketball, but didn't make the team. She wanted to play so badly, and decided to play for the recreation team. I signed her up only to get a call that they were dropping the team because they couldn't find a coach.

I had no basketball knowledge at all. As they handed me a clipboard and whistle, I think my words were, "That's the round, orange ball right?"

What I didn't know about basketball, I made up for in what I knew about girls. I enlisted the help of my oldest daughter who already played. Then one of the dads stepped forward with all the basketball knowledge we could want. And when it came time to teach those wiggly, sparkly little girls how to run a play, we did it on a cardboard court with Lifesavers as players and orange runts as the ball.

And that's the story of how a mom who can't dribble or catch a ball takes a team of grade school girls to the city championship two years in a row.

December 6, 2012

Pop top surprise!

The oldest and I found the cutest idea for an easy gift. Here's what we did:
  • Buy cans with the pop top lids. They have to have a bottom that a can opener will fit.
  • Open the bottom of the cans, but not all the way - leave about an inch still attached. 
  • Dump out the contents, and wash and dry the cans. 
  • Fill the cans with whatever goodies you want.
  • Hot glue the can bottom back together. 
  • Cut paper to fit and glue that on.
  • Attach ribbon to the pull tab.
  • Add whatever tags or labels you want.

Aren't they adorable? We made them for her friends away at school and used M&M's but you could use legos, little cars, barbie accessories, hair ties... think of the possibilities! 

We saw this idea and many more at

It wasn't me, really.

This morning the youngest came downstairs to see what St. Nick left in her stocking. She looked at all three like she was sizing them up to choose the best one, and settled on the one on the left.

"How do you know that one is yours?" I asked.

"Because you always line things up oldest to youngest or youngest to oldest. I looked in the one on the right and it was empty except a few candies so I guessed that was the one St. Nick sent to my sister at college, which means the one on the left is mine."

Apparently St. Nick has the same OCD issues as me - who knew?

December 5, 2012

The stockings were hung by the fireplace with...

... scotch tape and staples. It's pretty only, kids, not functional. But St. Nick will get the idea.

December 3, 2012

Behind already

Today I stopped at Starbucks for coffee, and asked about their 12 days of Christmas special for today. As the barista thumbed though her little flip book, she said, "Let's see. What day is today?"

One of the others said, "I think it's the second."

Then in a collective debate... It's December 2, wait December 3, no wait is it the 2nd? No really. What day is it? Seriously? The 3rd? No way.


December 1, 2012

Welcome Christmas!

Christmas has arrived in our home! Today we put up the tree and decorated the rooms before the oldest went back to school. Now that the kids are older and help with the decorating, it is so much more relaxing!