2010 in Review!

I honestly can't believe that tomorrow is the last day of 2010!  We've been blessed in lots of ways and not so much in only one area in our life (the hubs being laid off for so long!).   But when I look back at what 2010 has brought us, being creative with our money to re-vamp our house and create decor on the cheap, lots of quality family time, some great memories of Avalynn's 1st year, and lots of quirky laughs.

Here's some of my favorite projects & how-to's that I've shared over the past year on the blog.  I'll be linking to Rhoda over @ Southern Hospitality here. You should definitely check out some of the other fabulous blogs that are linked up showing off their highlights from the year.

To start, back in January the Hubs refinished our hardwood floors in the living room as shown in this post.

Early Spring we used some of our return money to do a partial remodel of our kitchen as shown in this post

After re-painting our dining room I decided our current furniture needed a desperate facelift and scoured Craigslist for a couple weeks for a dresser to re-do as well, as shown in this post.

I also tackled our "middle" living room area and created a humongous family picture wall in this post and here's how it looks after re-painting the walls, read more about our paint fiasco here.

The Hubs & I attempted making our own mason jar chandy that pretty much rocks in my opinion, click here for more details on that.

Created a FREE piece of art for our dining room, here - our Family Est. piece.

Emma got really into Toy Story this year and had a blast planning her 4th Birthday extravaganza in a Toy Story theme by making some really cute treats & desserts, here.

I look forward to 2011 - knowing that it can only get better in some areas of our lives.  I have tons of *new* ideas for around our Casa and look forward to sharing the journey of them with all of you!



Happy 11 Months Avalynn!

Baby Girl - 

Wow - I can't believe we are at the tail end of your 1st year.  So much has happened and you have changed and grown so much!  I think I'm in a little bit of denial that you'll be a toddler in less than a month.  

We celebrated your 1st Christmas over the weekend.  Well, you actually had two full weekends of family Christmas's since our family is so big.  You definitely have the idea of how to open presents, and love tearing off little pieces and just playing with those.  As soon as you'd get something open enough you'd have to peak inside to see what it was.  And honestly, you didn't want to play with anything you got, your sissy's toys and our gifts seemed so much more interesting to you.  

Your top two teeth have popped through for a grand total of 4!  You are sleeping through the night still and taking two naps a day.  I've switched you to mostly formula as my supply was dropping and now only nurse you first thing in the morning.  I enjoy our mornings snuggling in bed.  Your current favorite foods are peas, chicken nuggets, hot dogs & cheese.  You love the orange Gerber juices the most!  

You still won't stand by yourself, which also means no walking yet!  Which is A-OK with me!  You of course pull yourself up on anything or anyone to walk around.  And you can "run" from one side of the couch to the other so fast it's crazy!  Some of your favorite toys to play with are your wooden pull alongs, your rocking horse at Mimi & Pappy's, & the plush play sets you and your sister got for Christmas.  Also, Daddy says stuff your not supposed to, like computer cords, tearing through your sister's games and getting out every piece of them - actually, anything of your sisters really! 

Daddy calls you a tank because when you want something there is no stopping you.  You charge ahead and attack it, usually me!  You give the cutest lovings, in bed in the mornings you'll either dig your head against ours or throw it back into us.  Sometimes they hurt if we're not watching when you throw yourself backwards - lols.  Anytime someone goes in the basement you love to look through the pet hole in the door and talk to whoever is down there.  You play peek-a-boo a lot now, sometimes even pulling your own shirt up over your face to hide.  

I look forward to this last month of your babyhood and celebrating your turning 1 in a BIG way with all of our loved ones and friends!  You are so loved little girl and bring such joy to our lives! 

The Mama




jumbled into one big loooong post!  Know it's after the fact but did want to share some of the many pictures I took.  We are blessed with a lot of family, and these are just from this weekend, not including the previous weekends' Christmas's we had.

The Hubs & I Christmas Eve before heading to the in-laws for dinner and church.

The girls' ready for church.

My favorite part of Christmas Eve service, lighting the candle's and singing Silent Night.

At my parents house for our celebration.

Baby Girl showing off her new snow suit and boots.

The tree with all of the presents underneath.  Do you like our "fireplace"?  If only it were real - some day in our next house! 

The Hubs bringing the girls' down Christmas morning - I love that Avalynn is pointing at me and so excited.

Opening stockings.

She LOVES Toy Story!!! 

The in-laws have arrived for our Christmas with them.

Avalynn loves her new pony! 

This girls' excitement is pretty awesome to see! 

Love these two more than life itself! 

The Hubs explaining the craftmanship of the drawers to Emma. 

Passed out on the drive over to the Hubs grandparents, last Christmas of the day! 

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend with their families and loved ones!



What I Learned This Weekend - 5th Edition

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend with your loved ones!!!  We certainly did!

1.  Remember what all things you do on holidays, because kids' don't forget and will start to expect it.
2. Case in point - I decided last year to stick a present under Emma's tree from Santa, Christmas Eve morning she comes down and tells me how excited she was for that present - OOPS, wasn't planning on doing that this year.
3. This made me think what to put under them and we became creative and wrapped each of the girls' ornaments, hung them on their trees.  We decided they would be from Fred, our newest addition Elf on the Shelf.
4. Doesn't matter what Avalynn would open she'd only want everyone else's presents.
5. Avalynn was totally getting opening up her presents - loved this!
6. Avalynn woke up before Emma Christmas Day and we ended up having to wake up Emma to get started on the days festivities.
7. Egg & Sausage Casserole *new* recipe were a HIT for Christmas day breakfast!
8. We are SO blessed by all of our families.
9. I'm happy that we were able to celebrate another year with everyone.
10. Singing Silent Night while lighting candles is my FAVORITE part of church on Christmas Eve.
11. Opening presents was much easier this year as everything we wrapped we "pre" opened and then put back in the box so we wouldn't waste so much time opening cruddy boxes.
12. I'm starting to chat again with a lost friend, I've missed her friendship greatly over the last 4 years and hope this is a new beginning.
13. I've decided Miracles really do happen around Christmas it seems.
14. You know you've been busy when you are getting ready to put the baby to bed and realize she's 11 months today!
15.  I feel like I didn't get to take in this last blessed day with her.
16. Lesson learned - don't use re-chargeable batteries for Leapster Explorer's.  We thought Emma's Explorer had stopped working and I finally got it to work after cotton swabbing all battery parts and putting in some regular batteries.



Merry Christmas

It's officially Christmas Eve and I think we finally are done wrapping the last item!  (I kept finding things I forgot about.)

We will be celebrating the next 3 days with our families and am so looking forward to Emma's excitement and taking in Avalynn's 1st Christmas.

Wish you all a safe and hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones!!!



Recipes & some more Recipes

I'm always looking for some new great recipes to add to my list of dishes to make for parties etc. This year I tried out a couple new ones and they are definitely being added to the recipe box for another time.

1st up - Chocolate Chip Dip: *seriously, if you make this - bring along some copies of the recipe, have had 3 people ask for it*

- 1 block of cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup of 10x sugar
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tsp vanilla
- 1 cup of miniature
- Graham crackers - I get Scooby-Snack Graham crackers, perfect size for dipping

Directions: Beat cream cheese & butter, add sugars & vanilla, stir in chocolate chips.  Serve cold with graham crackers.

2nd Dish - Bacon Potato Bake

- 8 cups of red peeled potatoes
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 8 bacon strips.

- Slice up the potatoes, think scalloped potatoes, I use our cheese grater, the side that supposed to be used for cucumbers or whatever - it works and goes faster than using a knife.
- Boil water in a pot, cook potatoes for 10 mins, drain.  Dump in whatever dish you'll be cooking in, have used a casserole dish and also done in the crock pot.
- Combine flour, eggs, sour cream, 1/2 butter,  & salt - mix well.
- Your going to put a layer of potatoes, spoon over the above mixture, top with cheese - repeat until you run out.
- Toss the remaining butter with bread crumbs and put on top.
- Bake @ 350 for 45 mins.
- Just before serving top with crumbled bacon.

I'm always searching for new sugar cookie recipes and think that I've finally found some keepers.  Yesterday we made some rolled out sugar cookies, click here for the recipe, for the big man in the red suit.  And I have a good hunch he's going to *love them*.   We also tried this "drop" sugar cookie, click here for the recipe,  that has a really good sweet taste.

And my last two are a butter and cream cheese spread I made up for some gifts this year.  I made this Cranberry-Citrus Cream cheese and this Cinnamon - Honey Butter.

Hope you try out one or two of these and like them as much as I do!  Happy cooking & baking!!!



What I Learned This Weekend - 4th Edition

I can't believe we are officially at T-minus 5 days until Christmas!!!  Here's how my weekend went down

1. Emma has a one track brain.
2. This drives me batty when she's focusing on something and I'm trying to tell and/or ask her to do or not to do something.
3. I love trying new recipes, cheese potato bake & choc chip dip were a hit!
4. It's annoying when I bring scooby snack graham crackers for a dip and everyone has to make a comment along the lines "Eww...dog treats, what do you think we are".
5. I promise you, those crackers are so yummy and the perfect size for dips!
6. We had 2 family Christmas celebrations this weekend, one Saturday & Sunday.
7. I love seeing our extended families, catching up, and watching the girls' get some special time with their 2nd cousins.
8. Holiday games get very competitive and extremely loud!
9. It's something you can always expect.
10. My girls' got one of the Hallmark recordable books from my Gramma.
11. This makes me so incredibly happy, as my Gramma is fighting cancer and each holiday is a blessing and am so glad that my girls' & I will always have this little treasure to share.
12. Shellac polish doesn't care for my nails.  Supposed to be no chipping for 2 weeks, I didn't even last 1 day!
13. We finally caught the mouse in our pantry tonight.
14. For the past couple weeks, couple nights a week we'd hear something rattling stuff in our pantry *can we say creepy* and the Hubs kept resetting the traps.  Tonight we finally got it!
15. There's nothing more exciting then coming home late Saturday night to see a package on our front steps.  Our 2nd attempt *as the 1st one, wasn't what was pictured = it not working and having to return it* at buying a new heating element for our oven was a success!
16.  I never realized how much I relied on my oven for somethings until I couldn't use it at all.
17. This makes me beyond happy as now Christmas morning breakfast can go off without a hitch!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend - I'm off to crash into bed.



Petal Pushers & Zipper Rosettes

I have seen tons of these all over bloggy-land and over the summer I bought some zippers from a couple of suppliers from Etsy * I love that place so much!!!*.  And I experimented with the fabric ones first with a wool blanket I had cut up for another project and then went out and got some felt and fleece - love slipping one of them into the side of my messy bun, amazing how something so small can glam up an outfit some!

I'll be sharing a tutorial on the petal pushers in the next couple weeks. 

I'm linking to these fabulous parties - specifically, Today's Creative Blog, Skip to my Lou, Mad in Crafts.


Decked out for the Holidays

And so begins the tour of my home.  When we bought our home there was this random box, that actually has some pipes in it, so is used to disguise them.  The Hubs, the handy man he is built me these shelves for on top.  Honestly, the completely stump me every season/holiday.  Just went simple this year without overloading them and I'm in love with the girls' monogrammed stockings I got this year at Target. .  On the door is a raffia and button wreath, actually have two of them, on opposites sides of the room, my mom and aunt made them.  On top of our linen cabinet is a ball tree my mom made and a small jingle bell wreath.  

Here's another shot of our tree and a very old Santa made by my mom with a clorox bottle - which has been around since I was a little kid! 

Small shelving unit on the other side of the tree.  This is Avalynn proof - at least the bottom 2 shelves anyways.  The girls' new little people nativity set that they both love to play with!  Top shelf has some yo-yo trees my mom made and in the glass jars are some modge-podged glittered and tissue papered balls that my sister-in-law made for me.

Here's the top of the shelving unit.  I made these JOY plaques last year.  The copper button tree was made by my aunt.  

Just a simple stuffed stocking pillow in my "Mom" corner - they are so soft and comfy! 

This poor reindeer was saved this year.  I confiscated it from my parents who picked it up for a couple bucks over the summer and it was this hideous peeling silver color.  She looks SO MUCH better with a couple coats of glossy black paint.  Next year she'll look even better with a beautiful poinsettia.

Close-up of some other handmade items that are on the shelving in the living room. 

Now we're entering the dining room - love this little corner, ladder done by mom one year and the little reindeer was made by my mother-in-law.  

Built-in corner cabinet in the dining room.  Some hand painted items from my Nanny and a few things that Emma has made over the last couple of years. 

This nativity set was made by my father-in-law.  For 3 years we got 3 pieces to the set and 6 of them are holding glass candlesticks and globes that you can pour some oil in and light them.  We haven't lit them ever - perhaps some day.  Don't let the size of them deceive you in this picture, they are well over 12 inches tall. 

Simple set-up on the buffet, still trying to figure decorating this area.  The ornament tree is filled with hand painted balls from the Hubs Gramma that we get every year, it's so exciting what she decides to paint each year.  In the middle is a cloche I made from a cheese dome and candle base.  On the end is a piece from PartyLite I got several years ago.  Everything got a coat of glossy black paint - love it! 

Closer look of the ornament tree and a close up of a couple of the balls. 

Close-up of the cloche, filled with glittery garland that I tore apart. 

On our table is a pair of mercury glass and a cream ceramic candle base with some red pillars.  It's simple and easy to clear off for meals.  

Thanks for looking through my home.  I'm joining The Nester in her Christmas Tour of Home 2010.   You should hop on over and check out some of the other lovely homes that are linked up!