Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post-Christmas Musings

I realize that I owe you all a post-Christmas post. But in order to do this, I thought it might be more fun to play a little game. The game is called . . . "spot the goodies". I will post some pictures, you spot the goodies, I will let you know if you are right. Here we go:

For Christmas, we spent two and a half days at Cory's mom and dad's house. No, this was not the plan. The snow forecast made going there early and staying there a necessity if anyone wanted to see us Christmas Eve, and potentially Christmas Day.

Staying there was TOTALLY fun - reminded us of the good old days. :) And it did snow about 3-4 inches, so it also ended up being very smart on our part.

We got to Cory's folks house right as the snow started to fall on Christmas Eve morning. We spent the day lounging about and trying to get Nora to nap (FUTILE).

Right as it started pouring down snow, we got in the car and trekked across Cory's tiny hometown to his aunt and uncle's house. Nora was being very shy because of the lack of sleep and therefore crankiness. We ate some amazing food cooked by Cory's uncle, and then opened some presents.

OK, spot the goodies time!:
This one's easy: the shopping cart. Hello - what a way to make a 16-month-old-girl's day.

Another easy one: the cat piano. Nora likes music and kitties, and her cousin got her a cat piano. We seriously should have given her this last - she had to play with it for 20 minutes before she would even consider opening another gift.

No one got a picture of the adult goodies from that night. Among other things, I got a beautiful diamond necklace from Cory's sister and . . . a COACH PURSE! WOOT! :) Cory got his crazy toe shoes. And he has been wearing them all around since.

Nora eventually got over her crankiness and spent some time playing with the girls, which was nice.

It was also "The Night of a Thousand Snuggies". All the young girls got one.
CIMG3326 - Copy

So, that was Christmas Eve. We got back to Cory's parent's house and got Nora into bed at a completely reasonable time of quarter-to-eleven. She was too excited about Santa . . . right!

Christmas Day! Time to open up Santa presents! Two goodies in this picture. Can you spot them??:
The first is the obvious: the car and people. This was probably Nora's favorite gift - she has not stopped playing with it. The other is hiding out right behind her: the Thirty-One tote sticking out behind Nora's back. Cory's mom gave away a lot of Thirty-One gifts this year, and they ended up being LIFESAVERS this Christmas with all the crap we had to haul here and there and everywhere. So much so, that it convinced me to sell them in addition to the AtHome America stuff that I already sell. More on that to come.

After a light breakfast and Santa presents, we went to my mom's for brunch and more presents:
Which Nora did not enjoy at all.

TOTALLY KIDDING!! Did you spot the goodies here? No surprise, the pink motorcycle of course. And . . . another Thirty-One tote! These things are so freakin' amazing.

And I just like this picture I randomly took of my mom and Nora:

The rest of Christmas Day was spent just resting. I knitted a lot, and Cory watched "Inception". Nora napped a bunch and played at Cory's folk's house. Nice end to the day.

On the 26th we were awakened to bad news: my sister had the stomach flu. That was NOT good because that day Cory and I were scheduled to go to the Rams game with her, her husband, my dad, his wife, my mom, and her friend. My sister ended up not getting to go and that was crappy.
Did you spot the goody? My sister got us Santa Rams hats for the game! Yay! But I was sad I had to wear it alone.

The game ended up being a fantastic game to watch. This was only my second football game ever, but it sure was a great one. After the game, Rachel was feeling better, so we all headed to her house for dinner. Our family has already had the stomach flu, so we weren't scared!!

That about brings you all up to date.

But wait!

Did you think our game was over??!!

Because it's not. :)

Spot the goodies! I have some of them up in my post-Christmas home:
Two goodies here: there is a bread machine in this house now! :) I, the future Paula Deen, have a bread machine. Oh yeah! Also, I got myself a magnetic utensil holder for my knives. SWEET! Everyone sing with me now: "No more knife block, no more knife block . . . "

One goody here - I went to a bunch of antique malls this week to clean up their after-Christmas sales, and got that little star decoration. LOVE it!

Changed up my shelves a bit already. The goodies here are the beautiful candle holders I got at Michael's for practically NOTHING! Who cares if they are Christmas decorations?

My simple mantel. It's not done yet of course, but the goodies here are the little fabric strips on the stars - 25 cents each! Why make when you can buy that cheap?? . . . lol.

My photo wall is back to normal for now (although I have plans to change it up again soon), but I just wanted to point out one little goody: the hurricane. Got that hurricane for four dollars at a thrift store, remember? LOVE IT!

Anyway, so that's the scoop. Hope you all enjoyed our little game. :)

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A blog post to say . . .

. . . I probably won't be blogging too much this week. Sorry. I guard my family time jea-lous-ly, and I am enjoying it too much. This week has been great so far!

Having said that, I am already formulating a blog entry in my mind. :) Who's to say I won't break my own rules and blog a little tomorrow or the next day during naptime or in the [blissfully] relaxing evenings?? In this house our lives are not ruled by rules this week.

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Still plenty of time before Christmas . . . right??

So I decided - last night - to rearrange almost all my Christmas decorations.

Nevermind that there are 4 days until Christmas, and no one will even be coming to our house this year. Rearranging became critical.

Why you may ask? Well, remember those shelves I talked about? Oh yeah - you KNOW I bought them for myself with my b-day money. :) Actually, I bought a more expensive version. The cheaper ones that I wanted were sold out, so I made do with the cute Pottery Barn ones. Which means I paid too much, but I also treated myself to something from Pottery Barn with other people's money instead of my own. Happy Birthday to me!

Anyway, this part of my living room wall has always bugged me:
I have these gigantic walls and I fill them with itty bitty picture frames. It's just not right. It needed to change. Did it really need to change dramatically a week before I take down the holiday decor and change it all again?

YES OF COURSE. Who do you think you are talking to here?

I didn't put much on the shelves or worry too much about what they looked like, since I will be changing it all again in a week. I bought the name blocks off Etsy in a 2-for-1 deal wayyyyyyy back in August (one set went to my sister and brother-in-law as a wedding gift) so I have been sitting on these for awhile. Yes, I could have made them myself, but why do that when you can get 2-for-1?? I LOVE them a ton.

I like how these shelves make my walls look more "balanced". Makes my day really. :)

Also awhile ago I saw a post someone had done on a DIY site, and it immediately sparked my interest. When we were cleaning out the basement I discovered all my old composite posters from Alpha Phi. I put the posters in storage, but it left a bunch of cheap, large, empty frames. I decided I had to upcycle them and do this project, creating my own dry-erase boards and organizing my house in the process. Here's what it ended up looking like:
I am very happy with how it turned out! If I could do it all again, I would make the "W" in the background a darn tan instead of burgundy. It blends in too well with the brown and you can only read it real well up close:
Also I think I need to come up with something creative to hold the corners of the frames together better. These frames are SOOOOOOO cheap. Like at a yard sale you would talk a person down to 25 cents instead of paying 50. Seriously, you would.

If you are interested, you can find the organizer and bell listed above at my website. :) GRATUITOUS PLUG!!!!!!! Hey, I'm not ashamed.

Until next time . . .

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dare to DIY - Week Six (Final Week)

Dare to . . . have traditions! (week 6/6)

Each year by Christmas, three things will have happened:
1.) I will have finished my shopping . . . months ago.
2.) My face will break-out from stress.
3.) I will not have gone anywhere near the vicinity of Fairview Heights, IL from mid-November to sometime after Christmas.

The first two are kind of obvious, I think. I plan ahead and buy gifts way in advance with our Christmas fund. Also, as if it's not enough to LOOK like a 13-year-old, I also have a 13-year-old's skin. Yay.

The last one is something I am pretty adamant about. I believe that what happens in Fairview Heights during the month of December is pretty much the epitome of what the Christmas season is NOT about. Traffic, mall craziness, waiting in line, spending money on things . . . oh my goodness. Just thinking about it stresses me out.

For the past few years, holidays generally go something like this:

*A week or so before Christmas - is spent with my mom's LARGE family. Did I say large??
I mean GIGANTIC. This was taken this year (this past Saturday) and it is not even all of her brothers and sisters. Just imagine all of their families who are present as well. Holy moly.

Anyway, we get together, eat, play cards, sometimes we have a gift exchange, and at some point Grandpa opens his gifts. That's pretty much it. It's a good time, always nice to see everyone. I loved it this year because Nora had a lot of fun playing with all her relatives. That will only get better! :)

*Christmas Eve - is spent with Cory's mom's family. It's usually TONS of fun and we look forward to it. Usually Cory's aunt, uncle, and cousins from Nevada are in town and it's just so good to see them. We play cards, eat, open presents, the usual.

When I was a kid, this night was spent with my mom's above-mentioned gigantic family, and when Cory and I got married this night was kind of a nightmare because we had to split the night between his family and mine. Luckily now we don't have to worry about that, but I remember one year in particular that we basically spent the entire night in the car, and I was seriously upset that we missed out on seeing my family at all because we showed up too late. SO glad my mom's family does not get together on this night anymore.

*Christmas Day we get up and open presents and our stockings with Nora. Last year it was not too interesting, being that she was about 4 months old - but we got to sleep in! :) We are enjoying what we think will be our last year or two before we are up at 6 a.m. opening presents. :)
Nora last Christmas. Wow, how time flies!

After we do all that, we usually end up doing something with my dad's side of the family, and we include my mom and brother and nephew in this (or we see them the next day). We drink and play dominoes, after that we eat and open presents. :) Then sometimes we head over and see Cory's family again - it just depends on what everyone is doing, when my dad comes into town, etc.

This year, however, is way different. We are seeing my mom on Christmas Day, and then on the 26th we are going to . . . the Rams game! :) If you are keeping count, this will be the SECOND ever football game that I have been to ever (and both within the last three months). This will also be the second time we all kill ourselves to get up to our WAYYYYYY high-up seats. Ha. It should be fun, but I am not looking forward to the climb. Or helping anyone make the climb when I am out of breath myself.

The final "tradition" (if you will) is that Cory always asks for something that needs an explanation. Always. He asks for things no one has heard of or no one but him would want, and I am starting to wonder if he's doing it on purpose. :) Last year it was the shovel:
This is him assembling his shovel. No I did not mis-type, and yes he has WHEELS in his hands. His shovel has wheels. Only Cory!
This year, he's asked for the crazy toe shoes.

While looking for what crazy thing Cory asked for in 2008, I came across this list of his from 2004 in my email inbox. I thought it was good for a laugh. Also it proves my point!:

Drum role please.......

Top (not even close to) 10 random under $25 items I thought up during
lunch at work one day (in no particular order):

1) The Bourne Supremacy DVD
2) Spider-Man 2 DVD
3) Gift Certificate to Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target
4) I forgot what number 4 was gonna be, oh well...
5) move onto number 6
6) Duct Tape Wallet...Yes, you read that right, a Duct Tape Wallet
(follow this link to see it ->
7) Honestly, who wouldn't want a duct tape wallet.
8) I never really liked the number 8, so I will skip it.
9) Circuit Board Business Card Case
10) What is a circuit board business card case you might ask? Click
here ->

Well, that about tops my list. Hope it brings you all joy and laughter.
I avoided clothes in the list because I came into this world naked and I
plan on dieing that way. Have fun everyone.

Cory T. Whitaker, CMfgT

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dishcloth Dreams

This, my friends, is the best washcloth in the world:

OK, so maybe you disagree - this is no special washcloth. Except for the fact that it is pictured draped on a seriously pretty (!) Christmas Tree, it looks pretty ordinary. But let me explain . . .

If you have been somehow living in a Morgan-Freeman-or-Jack-Nicholson-free environment (the horror!) then you will not know what a "bucket list" is. A "bucket list" is a list of things you need to do before you die, written in checklist-style. My "bucket list" has always been small. Very small. In fact, this was it:

1. Be on a game show.

. . . . .

Yes, that is all. I aim high.

This past October I attempted to get on Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately the producers didn't notice me and immediately KNOW that I am - without a doubt - the best game show contestant that ever lived, so my bucket list had to be modified:

1. Never stop trying to be on a game show. Even if they never pick me.

Still fairly lame, yet at the very least hopeful and much more realistic. So I decided then and there to really think about it and add a few things to my list. There has to be something else I want to do! Unfortunately, when you spend 24-7 chasing around young kids, there is little time to "seriously think" about anything other than "How can I fit in a shower today?" But I did add something to the list that was kind of a no-brainer because it's always something I've wanted to do:

2. Learn how to knit/crochet.

And . . . I did! :) This washcloth is the first thing I have ever finished. After only three weeks. :) I am so proud of myself for already taking my newly revamped "bucket list" and cutting it in half.

. . . . .

Well, proud and annoyed all at the same time. My list is still pretty crappy. But at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that something on the list has a CHECK!

1. Never stop trying to be on a game show. Even if they never pick me.
2. Learn how to knit/crochet. - CHECK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, yay for me!! Moving on now . . .

As a side note, this weekend is our first family Christmas, so I will go back to posting some cute, Nora-related stuff in order to ease you into the transition back to more family-related blogs, as opposed to DIY-related ones. Although please don't think the DIY-entries will ever go away. As of right now I have about 25,139,345 projects to finish, and I don't go anywhere during the day folks! I have to show them off somehow. :)

Until next time . . .

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dare to DIY - Week Five

Dare to . . . deck the halls!

Since I posted last week's dare a little late, I thought I would post this one a little early. You're welcome.

I love to decorate my house. (My birthday present to myself is going to be . . . . shelves. Yes, shelves. When I get around to depositing the money I got, I am ordering them - AND I am super DUPER excited about it.) This year, however, I went simple with my Christmas decorations. I created a few new things and went with it. I will have a 15-month-old and a 10-month-old around here messing it all up anyway. :)

My favorite items are my wagon wheels. My mom picked these up for me at a local flea market after I had checked them out and decided against buying them. :) I attached some of my AtHome America items to it with zip ties, and voila! Two new Christmas decorations for my wall.

I really like how these turned out. I think they go great in my house, and I may keep them on the wall when Christmas is over. So what if they are technically outside decor?? :)

My table decor is lame. This is all I could muster:
Terrible, right? Next year I may make something for the table, but I have been spending a lot of time knitting and taking care of a sick kid this week, so I had to make do in the little time I had.

The tree is also kind of lame.
I didn't really do too much with it, or worry about if it was straight or anything. I was sick with the stomach flu when I put it up! Plus I was worried if I put too many ornaments on it that one of the kids will pull them down or break them. So I decided to go with a "poor woman's tree" this year, and run with it. :)

Here's my mantle:
I have really nice hangers for the stockings, but I was terrified that one of the kids would be able to pull them down on themselves. They are heavy and metal, so that would not be good. So I went with the (totally expensive!!! :( but safer) stick-on hooks. Classy, right?

And now for the piece-de-resistance (lol - I don't speak French, but I hope you get the idea. Remember this ladder I posted about? Well, I did something with it. :)
I spray painted it a matte black and then roughed it up with sandpaper. I then painted it with a clear matte lacquer to seal it.

While it was drying, I hand-embroidered panels to go in the "windows" of the ladder. I glued them in when the ladder was dry.

It is a very long ladder, so I wasn't sure where to hang it. I had a few options, but I ended up just attaching it with ribbon to my Sussex Wall System. I like it there quite a bit.

This is my newest "store bought" piece. My mother-in-law got me the Willow Tree Nativity I have been asking for. She also had someone make me a replica of the creche that the Nativity goes on, so that was awesome. LOVE IT! :)

And that's what the Whitaker household looks like this year friends. Enjoy!

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

29 today.

I have been joking around saying that today is the last birthday I will ever have. From now on, it will be anniversaries - like next year will be the first anniversary of my 29th birthday.

Really, I'm not so concerned about ME turning 30 next year, as I am my own daughter turning 30 in 28.5 years. Then I will feel old (sorry mom).

So far this day has been OK - a little crummy, a little happy - but I am starting to think of my birthday as "just another day", just like my husband does. I always felt a little sorry for him for thinking that, because I believe that the joy of a birthday is rooted in the innocence of childhood. No matter how old you get, I think it's always important to remain childish at something. Then I remember: "well, he IS my OTHER child", and I smile and don't feel sorry for him anymore - but a little for myself!! lol

So that got me thinking: What am I childish about? What about my life is still "rooted in the innocence of childhood"?

I think the biggest thing is my love for children's books. The reason Nora has so many is because I made sure of that long before she was born. The thing that I love best about them is how fun and funny they can be. I sometimes get exasperated reading the same ones over and over daily, but I enjoy them all over again the moment I open them. I get Border's coupons weekly, and the first thing I think of is "I could take this and get Nora a new book." I even applied for a job there so I could potentially buy her more books. She has so many books that it's both cool and a little ridiculous all at the same time. But we enjoy them - a lot - together.

So today, my 29th birthday, I think I will go buy myself a new book. Maybe a children's book, maybe not, but something that reminds me that I am always a kid at heart!

Until next time . . .

SIDE NOTE/UPDATE: I went to go buy ONE book and couldn't do it. There are just too many good ones! Although I might give in and finally buy "The Perfect Nest" if I have time this week. If you have never read it, you MUST. Very, very, VERY cute book.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dare to DIY - Week Four

Dare to . . . give homemade gifts!

Sorry this post is late. Been dealing with a sick kid (and semi-sick me) all day long.

I. LOVE. THIS. CHALLENGE!! SOOO MUCH. I love it because of three reasons:

1.) I am giving almost entirely homemade gifts this year.
2.) I love to see gifts that others are making and wish I could make them.
3.) See reasons one and two.

So I obviously can't show off a whole lot of things that I made, BUT some will be showcased. Be warned. If you are a close relative, might want to skip reading this post for a few weeks.

First of all: the food. Let me just tell you something: you (really do, sincerely) wish that YOU were MY neighbor. The reason that you wish this is because my street is awesome . . . and also because I like to make food for my neighbors and give it as gifts. This year, the bags of food will include the following:

*A jar of homemade applesauce or apple pie filling.
*The white chocolate peanut butter cookies I mentioned in a previous post
*Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
*White Chocolate Peanut Bark
*Apple Cinnamon Muffins
*Little gifts for the kids from Nora
*A handmade card

See? You wish you lived on my street.

Now I will go ahead and share some of the handcrafted items. I recently learned this year how to make jewelry, so I am giving away some jewelry as gifts:
Also, because of the new jewelery thing I am able to make wine charms, so I made a few of those too. (Sorry, no pictures. I wrapped those up already.)

I also learned to hand embroider thanks to this website that Kim over at Newlywoodwards shared, and I made something similar to an item that we sell in the AtHome America Holiday Catalog (although I cannot find the link to it at the moment):
This shelf pillow is a neat decorative piece that I had never considered until I made one myself! :) Love it, and I hope the person I made it for likes it too.

I also got busy this week on making an advent calendar:
I wanted one for Nora (and potentially future children), so I decided to make one this year (even though I was fairly sure there would be no way I could finish by December 1st.) I made this one to go on the fridge, which is kind of funny because I will likely not put it on the fridge - I will probably buy a cookie sheet or something to stick it on and hang it up! Anyway, this one is based off "The Grinch" and Max the dog. (Side note: Max the dog is one of my all-time favorite cartoon characters ever.)

I am thinking of making more advent calendars out of baby food jars for next year for other people. Unless anyone wants a million baby food jars! Ha ha . . .

Until next time . . .

EDIT: the shelf pillow I was copying looks something like the one in this photo.