Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adding a Bit of Window Whimsy....

Well, we've been plenty busy decking the halls around here!  And this year I wanted to do something fun around some of the many windows in our home.

It all started with the wide set of three windows in the living room.  They were just begging to be accessorized....and this was my super simple solution!

I simply took traditional colored shatterproof balls, purchased dirt cheap at Dollar Tree (I got 21 for $3), added pre-cut 20-gauge floral wire and a snippet of left-over ribbon.  To get the whimsical curly-q look of the wire, I wrapped it around the handle of a wooden spoon from the kitchen and then stretched and bent it a bit, making a loop to hang over the curtain rod.

These provided just the touch I was looking for to provide a festive frame above the window.  So, I made more....for the window behind the tree....

Hey, I was on to something here....so, why stop in the living room?!?!?  I added some to the windows in our bedroom.  This time I used a box of bronze ornaments purchased at WalMart ($5 for 12).  Fortunately, the green, red and gold colors in our room already lend a holiday feel to the room!

Finally, I focused on Ed's little office, which has a Texas theme anyway.  These cute little wire star ornaments were 2/$1 at Dollar Tree, so this double window got "the treatment", too.  

I'm tickled with the added element of whimsy....and the way the hanging ornaments reflect the light in the rooms, both day and evening.  It was an easy, quick project that didn't break the budget.  (All three rooms came in at $11 for the ornaments; I used leftover ribbon and wire I already had.)

I'm linking up with Robin over at "All Things Heart and Home" for her "All Things Merry & Brite" party.  If you take a moment to click on the link, I know you will be blown away by all the great ideas and inspiration of Merry & Brite party-goers! 

If you've come up with a simple solution to stretch your decorating dollar for the holidays in a non-traditional way, I would love to hear about it!

Keep it warm, Friends!


Triggering Christmas Memories

Our large tree in the living room is filled with so many special decorations.....I have been collecting unique ornaments since I was a child!

It was a tradition started by our next door neighbor, whom we affectionately called NaNa, when I was probably only about 6 or 7 years old.  She selected a special, albeit inexpensive, ornament for her granddaughter, my sister and me every year.  My mother quickly adopted the same practice.  So, by the time I was grown and started my own tree, I already had quite a collection.

Of course, some of those early additions have not survived the years.  But, I still have many of them and they all have a special place in my heart.  Among them....


There are a couple of ornaments that I clearly remember making.  This wooden candy cane was my effort when our fifth grade class painted ornaments to decorate the class tree.

And this beaded candy cane was made in a missions class at church about the same time.

I was fortunate enough to find a box containing a few of my grandparents' ornaments after my grandmother passed away.  They are among my favorites!


Throughout my adult years, I have continued to add unique ornaments....those that catch my eye or "speak" to me.

And, of course, I love the set of Shiny Brite reproductions (found in Fredericksburg on a hot summer day, no less!) and the clip-on candles I found at Dollar General (gotta love the dollar store for some great decor on the cheap!)....

Our tree may be a hodgepodge of many different types and style of ornaments, but it is filled with wonderful memories.  I get a warm, fuzzy feeling just unwrapping the ornaments and placing them among the branches each year.  

Every once in a while, I toy with the idea of starting fresh and decorating a tree with a specific, cohesive theme or color scheme.....but, it's always a fleeting idea!  

How about your family's tree?  Do you have some of those priceless, irreplaceable and sentimental ornaments like I do?  I would love to hear about it if you do!  

And now for lots of vintage inspiration, I am linking with Debra at "Common Ground" for "Vintage Inspiration Friday". If you love the use of older ornaments and such when decorating for the holidays, I guarantee you will be blown away!

Relishing the moment....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Decking the Halls....

Thanksgiving is behind us....and we are barreling straight towards Christmas!

My house began the transformation from Autumn to Christmas nearly two weeks ago....and it took a full week to get the interior decor into place.  (For some reason, I seemed to have trouble finding things that we had packed away before we moved....)  I opted to have most of my i's dotted and my t's crossed prior to Thanksgiving Day so the weekend following would be relaxed and open for other activities.

Of course, the first order of business was the main tree in the living room.  It is loaded with ornaments I have collected since childhood, it's branches tipped with glass birds, candles and poinsettias.  (I will share more of the individual ornaments with you in another post!)

This year is all about working with what we have.....and Lord knows we have A LOT!!!  With this in mind, I tried to work in all of our favorites, although this meant getting a little more creative.

The water globes have their usual home atop the piano....

The hutch is laden with garland, lights and ornaments resting in a variety of glassware, with Mary Engelbreit's "The Night Before Christmas" tucked in for background....


 And filling the space between the bookcase and tv on the opposite side of the room is our traditional Texas Tree....

Although our home is smaller this year, it is oh-so warm and cozy. My goal is to make you feel like you have stepped into a Thomas Kincade painting, with all the warmth and  light inviting you to sit and stay awhile.  I love the way the room "glows" as I look across from the sofa...

In the coming days, I will share more of our decorations from throughout the house...and outside, too. 

And I have a very special treat for you!  My mother has agreed to let me take you on a tour of her lovely little cottage.  You will love it!!!

Until next time, I hope wish you warm tidings of the season....


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

I rose early this morning....drawn by the quiet arrival of a cloudy dawn. 

Now, with the dogs fed and back in their beds snoring softly, I am enjoying a cup of coffee laced with spiced pumpkin pie creamer.  Soon, I will have to get busy in the kitchen....

But, first I wanted to relish this still moment and give thanks.  On this, the day set aside to celebrate Gratitude, I am thankful for so much!  I have been blessed beyond measure!

I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful day filled with Family, Love and Thanksgiving! 

Stay close and warm....


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Week Before Thanksgiving....

Oh, what a hectic week....and it's not over yet! 

I've not had the time to post this week...or get out and look around at all my favorite blogs.   I miss visiting everyone and getting my inspiration "on"!!!

I figure a lot of you are doing what I am doing this week - preparing for Thanksgiving....and, oh yeah, that holiday that comes nipping on Turkey Day's heels....CHRISTMAS!!! 

I'm truly hoping to find the pace slow down a bit soon so I can sit down and bring you up to speed on all the going's-on around The Porch.  It's about time to change out all the Autumn decor around here for something a little more red and green, silver and gold......maybe a little something more like this......

So, be watching for the changes comin' soon! 

Hopin' y'all have a terrific weekend.....


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reflections on October....

Here we are, already past the first week of November!  But, I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect on October before it just becomes a dim memory.....

What a busy month it was!  A lot of time was spent decorating for Autumn and Halloween.  I put a lot of effort into it this year since we live so near the grandkids and I wanted Mimi and Papa Ed's place to be really special for the season.  It might have been a lot of work, but it was a lot of FUN, too!

All that effort drew lots of attention and compliments from the neighbors and trick-or-treaters!  In addition, my blog post,  "Make Mine Spooky, Please", garnered some attention from FrontPorchIdeasandMore.Com and was featured in a special Halloween decorating section on their website.  You can check it out RIGHT HERE.   What a thrill to see my porch somewhere other than on my blog!  LOL.

Another project that seemed to require a lot of time in October was preparing for my stepdaughter's wedding in Oklahoma.  There was much to be done as far as helping Ed plan the meal that she requested for the reception....but, most of my time and energy was focused on finding that oh-so-right dress.  Remember???

I waited for my educational requirements to be evaluated by the Texas Real Estate Commission and my application to take the state licensing exam to be approved.  I was disappointed by the delay, but started an intensive review of the material I studied over the Summer.  I heard back from them just before leaving for the wedding.  I have a "green light" to take the exam!

And, finally, we put together a family evening of pumpkin-carving and chili-eating to celebrate Halloween.  It turned out to be so much fun - I'm sure a new family tradition has been born!

But, as I reflect on the month, one of the most special and rewarding moments had to be making cookies with my 4-year-old granddaughter, Ansleigh!   On the day before Halloween, I picked Ansleigh and her 6-year-old brother, Trayden, up and brought them over for some quality "Bake Time" with their Mimi (uh, that would be me).  We mixed up packaged sugar cookie mix (so simple!), rolled it out and used cookie cutters in the shapes of pumpkins, ghosts and bats to cut the cookies.  Then, we sprinkled orange sugar crystals on them before baking.  VOILA!!!  Halloween cookies!!!

To be honest, Trayden lost interest in the project pretty quickly.  He cut out a couple of cookies and then headed out into the backyard to romp with the dogs and search for treasures in the dirt.  But, Ansleigh took to cookie-making like a duck to water....and stayed with me through the last sheet of cookies.

This was a morning I will always treasure!  Just look at those precious little helping hands.....

And so October has raced past us....remaining only in memories.  Did it fly by for you, too?  Did you accomplish your goals for the month?  Spend the time you wanted with your Family?  Oh, I hope you did!

I am linking with Heidi at "Heart and Home" for Wednesday Gratitude.  Please take a moment to go over and check it out! 

Looking forward....


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust.....

Well, it's all behind us now....Ed's daughter, Anita, was married on Saturday evening.  Her months of planning all came to an end and Friends and Family gathered to help Jimmy and Anita celebrate their wedding vows. 

The venue was the Marland Mansion in Ponca City, Oklahoma, a beautiful historical estate complete with a grand ballroom....the perfect place for a wedding on a gorgeous Autumn evening!

The bride looked stunning.....

The cake was totally awesome....

The ceremony was relaxed, intimate and full of little surprising touches....such as the Bride and Groom sharing their first smooch as man and wife to the tune of the rock classic, "Another One Bites the Dust". 

Ed smoked four large briskets and three turkey breasts and, together, he and I prepared all the trimmings to go with the traditional Texas spread, per Anita's special request.  By the time the ceremony rolled around, we were ready to just enjoy it!  Champagne and beer flowed and everybody just got down to the business of having a good time, which was what the couple wanted. 

There wasn't a dry eye in the place when Father and Daughter waltzed to "I Loved Her First", such a special moment for a daddy and his little girl....

And the happy couple was all smiles as they cut that divine-looking cake!

(Yep, that's "all smiles" for Jimmy!)
Congratulations, Anita and Jimmy Casey!  
We love you both and wish you many, many years 
of Happiness and Joy together!!!
Dad & Jane 

And now, it's back to Normal Life....at least as we know it!   With Thanksgiving right around the corner,  Christmas hot on its heels, and one major Real Estate Exam to conquer, it ought to be interesting to see how "Normal" works out....

Alive & kickin'....


P. S.  I finally got to wear that red dress and those gold shoes.  Ah, yes, those oh-so-sexy shoes turned out to be real killers....they killed my feet!  I ended up doing what most every other woman did (including the Bride), and kicked them off before I kicked up my heels. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

28 Years Ago Today.....

November 8, 1982.  I will never forget this day....as long as I live!  28 years ago today....a miracle happened! 

I was expecting my first baby!  My due date was January 18th....many more weeks to go.  But, I awoke that morning feeling less than stellar.  My stomach was tight and cramping.  As I dressed for work, I remember telling my husband that something just didn't "feel right"....I even called my doctor at home, interrupting his breakfast, and told him I was feeling sorta strange.  He told me he had an early surgery, but to go on into the office when it opened and wait for him there....just to check things out. 

My husband was a bit put out when I asked him to accompany me to the doctor's office, but he phoned work and told them he would be in a bit late.  Then we headed off to wait for Dr. Dawson at his office.

His sweet nurse, Cindy, was surprised to see us.  When I told her how I felt, she teased me and said she bet I was having bladder spasms.  We laughed about it, but she had me lay down in the exam room to wait for the doctor.  That's when all hell broke loose....

As I was lying there, I felt a gush of warm liquid.  Mortified to think that I had just wet myself, I jumped up from the exam table and blood went everywhere!  Cindy came running when she heard my screams.  Things happened so quickly....yet, somehow, to me, it all seemed to be happening in slow motion.  She literally lifted me back onto the exam table, barking out orders to the other staff to call the doctor in surgery, call an ambulance, run down the hall to an other obstetrician's office and get help.  Then she lowered my head, pulled my knees up to my stomach and laid across them to keep me in this position. 

It goes without saying that I was in a state of panic....and shock.  I was hemorrhaging badly.  The doctor from down the hall arrived first, took one look at the situation and refused to touch me.  All he would say was "She's miscarrying."  Dr. Dawson's P.A., who was with him surgery, ran across the street from the hospital, arriving at the same time as the paramedics.  He helped them get an IV in my arm and rode with me in the ambulance around the block to the emergency room entrance, where the doctor was waiting for me. 

Nurses started cutting off my clothes and Dr. Dawson told me he wanted to try to get an ultrasound to see if the placenta was still attached.  He listened to the baby's heartbeat....it was distressed, but still strong enough to do this.  As I lay there, I felt another gush of liquid and an unexplainable desire to push.  When I told him this, he did a cervix check and I had already almost fully dilated.  He looked at me calmly, this doctor who had taken care of my mother when she was pregnant with me and had known me all my life, and said that there would be no delaying it....the baby had to be delivered immediately. 

There was a great flurry of activity as they rushed me to the operating room.  As I lay there, shaking uncontrollably, everyone telling me not to push, one of the nurses held my hand and smoothed my hair, trying to comfort me.  The anesthesiologist told me to start counting backwards from 100...and the last words I heard the nurse say were "You will have another baby, sweetie....".  As I drifted under, my only thoughts were that I had lost my baby.

When I surfaced from that dark, muffled place, Dr. Dawson was standing over me, holding my hand.  He  was smiling.  I wondered how he could be smiling.....all I could feel was a deep sense of loss as the nurse's words immediately filled my mind.  I could not find my voice....

"Jane, wake up....you have a baby girl.  You have a beautiful baby girl and she was trying to cry before I could even get her out of the womb!"


"Wake up, Jane.  Listen to what I am saying."  He squeezed my hand and leaned closer.  "She stuck her little fist out as soon as I started going in!  She has ten fingers, ten toes....and she is much bigger than I thought she would be.  The best neonatalogist in town is with her right now.  It's going to be fine, girl, it's all going to be fine!" 

I have never heard more welcome words! 

And that is how little Bonnie Leigh came into this world!  Weighing in at 3 pounds 5 ounces, she looked somewhat like a drowned rat.  Her skin was translucent; her lungs were severely underdeveloped; but, she was a fighter!!! 

She spent 12 days on a respirator, suffering some setbacks.  She had jaundice; she lost weight - down to 2 pounds 14 ounces.  But, she was more than beautiful to me! 

After only 5-1/2 weeks, much sooner than anticipated, she left the hospital.  Oh, such a tiny thing she was!  But, already plumping up and home before Christmas! It was the beginning of my journey into "Motherhood"...

Bonnie, you were truly a miracle.  I knew from the beginning that God had a special purpose for you in this life.  Such an auspicious beginning for such a tiny little being....and what a blessing you have been!  I am so thankful that God made me your mother....that He gave me a daughter like you! 

Happy birthday!!!  I love you forever!!!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween......Family Style!!!

Our first Halloween back in town....close to family, especially those grandkids!!!  Yep, we had to do something really special to celebrate.

So, we decided to invite everyone over on Saturday evening for some pumpkin carving and a big ol' pot of Ed's fabulous homemade chili. 

In attendance, the Boys (Ben and Sam), Bonnie and her Brood (Trayden and Ansleigh), Dad, and Mom and Bob.  Oh, and of course, dear Eddie Dale and moi, the hosts with the most! 

We started out on the back patio with pumpkin carving....

Ed sorta ran this part of the show, seeing as how he is the master pumpkin carver!  In exchange for his overseeing the outdoor activities, I shuttled in and out from the kitchen with drinks for everybody and kept the pot of chili stirred.  And, I was the official photographer of the evening's activities, by default! 

Here he is getting everybody organized and started with the carving.....

Eddie Dale helping everyone find the perfect pattern.
Daddy was the first one to jump in and start cuttin'!

Bob looks on as the carvers get started.

This is the hard part, right???
Bonnie always manages to look like she's having fun....
This part is kinda yucky, Mimi!
Ben, deciding who he is going to end up helping....
And the lucky winner of Uncle Ben's help - Trayden!
Mom had a great time watching - but, no messy carving for her.
And Sam was totally distracted by his new I-phone....
But, one by one, they all finished up their masterpieces....and brought them over to me to be lit up and photographed.  
Ansleigh and her happy little Jack-o-lantern
Bonnie and her ambitious UT/Longhorn carving
Trayden might be serious, but his jack-o-lantern is surprisingly happy!
Daddy picked a very traditional pattern, but he had the best "stemmage", hands down!
I think Eddie Dale got confused and thought this was a mug-shot....
But, I did say he was the master carver - and he proved it once again!
When they were all lit up, I finally got someone else to snap a photo of me with the grandkids....just so y'all  would believe I was actually there!  :)
Oh, my goodness....is that a "deer in the headlights" look on my face, or what?!?!?
At this point, everyone was getting pretty hungry and that chili, with its tantalizing aroma, was beckoning us into the kitchen. 

Dinner was super simple and casual.  We ate spicy chili out of styrofoam bowls and slathered warm flour tortillas with butter.  Dessert was peach cobbler, munchkin-sized cupcakes, and the sugar cookies Ansleigh and I made earlier in the day.  (More on that in another post.....'cause it was just so special it deserves its own space!)

It was loud, chaotic and crowded!  The food was filling, hot and oh-so-yummy!  Everybody had a great time and the evening was total success!!!   And I am so glad we were able to do this with our Family.....this "building memories" is a "very good thing". 

Here's one last look at all the Jack-o-lanterns before they went home with their carvers.....

Aren't they just so SPOOKY and BOO-TIFUL?!?!?!?  (Sorry, I couldn't resist that....I promise I won't do it again....ever!) 

Be back later with more about those sugar cookies.....and then we'll shift gears and look ahead!  After all, it is November!


Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year&...