Sunday, December 30, 2012

Putting Away the Tree and Trimmin's....

Awoke to gray skies and cold weather on this Sunday morning.  Oh, how I wanted to snuggle back in and sleep a bit longer......

But, something inside of me felt restless.....I had a nagging idea that I should get up and clean house....really clean house.....minus the Christmas decorations!

And, so I pulled on my favorite grubby gray sweats and a jacket and began the process of dragging all the plastic storage bins into the house from the storage shed in the backyard. 

All the ornaments have been removed and wrapped in tissue and plastic.  The tree was bare and the pups were incredibly curious as to what I was doing.

Bit by bit, I collected little touches of Christmas from all around the house.  The dining area near the back door became a staging area. 

Now, I have nearly finished and am in the process of cleaning the rest of house.  Laundry, laundry, laundry....I have no idea how two people generate so much.  Changing sheets, scrubbing the bathroom....still await me.  And the kitchen floor is a mess, thanks to so many trips in and out the back door.  But, the rest should be a breeze......

I'm sad to see it all go back into storage until next year, but I'm glad I listened to that little inner voice telling me to get my rear in gear and get it done.  It feels a little bare right now.....doesn't it always when the tree and decorations come down?

The pups are chilling in the living room while I work through the rest of the house....

....and I am feeling good about getting it done!!!

Looking forward to starting off the new year in a clean house!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Contemplating the New Year....

I'm loving that it's Friday and Eddie Dale is home this evening!  Actually, he has been off all day, but I ended up working for the first half of the day and had another appointment later this afternoon.  So, we didn't get to spend a "day off" together......

But, I am still thankful that he is home and piddling around in the kitchen, putting together dinner right now!

It's hard to believe that this is the final weekend of the year!!!
Where, oh where, did 2012 go?!?!?  
It seems that it just sped by at warp speed.  

I ask myself...."Am I ready for the new year?"  Hmmmmmm.....I suppose I have to be.  Because there is no stopping or slowing the clock.  2013 will arrive, ready or not.  

As I look back at the last year, I wonder whether I met my goals....
or accomplished what I had hoped to accomplish....
or lived as I intended to live, on a daily basis....

The answer to all is "NO".  

I did not meet all of my goals or accomplish everything on my "to do" lists.  
I did not always act, respond and think in the way I intended.  
I did not live every day to the fullest or live "in the moment" nearly enough.  

I did not make "New Year's Resolutions" at the beginning of 2012.  Instead, I set goals, both short and long term.  And, as I look back, I did not achieve all those goals.  

However, I do not feel down in the dumps or depressed over it.  I am not beating myself up over it because I knew that, realistically, I would not achieve all I hoped to in this past year. 

What I do feel is MOTIVATED to do it all over again!  
Reevaluate and ponder on where I felt short, what I need to change 
and how to continue moving forward from where I am at this moment.

I figure this weekend is a good time to really start focusing on 2013.  
Maybe I should have been doing it before the final weekend of the year, but with the lull between Christmas and New Year's, this seems to be a fitting time for me.  

Much can be accomplished when a little extra thought goes into it.
Many obstacles can be overcome with foresight and focused planning.
 A life can be changed with an adjustment in attitude.

Whatever the new year holds, I am eager to move forward and greet it.
2013???  Bring it on!!!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After Christmas....

Hard to believe that Christmas has already come and gone!  

We kept things pretty simple here at our home.  All the decorating, shopping and wrapping was done early, so those last few days before Christmas seemed oddly quiet and peaceful.  It actually felt a little weird not to be running around like a chicken with my head cut off at the end, though......

I did do a bit of tweaking on decorations in the final week.  I found some lovely snowflakes at Dollar Tree and put a bit of bling on the trees out on the porch and the garland wrapped around my snow globe display.  I love the snowy effect it gave and it only took a couple of packages of snowflakes.  Total cost - $2. 

The family came together at our home on Christmas Eve evening and enjoyed a very simple meal.  We put out sandwich meats and cheese, along with mini croissants and rolls to make sandwiches, and a variety of dips, chips and veggies.....what could be easier?!?!?  And, everybody got to have exactly what they wanted.  I also warmed apple cider with cinnamon and orange slices in it to sip on throughout the evening.

Then, chaos reigned while gifts were exchanged and opened!  We watched Christmas movies for a while and everyone just drifted out, taking their leave as they got tired.  It was a wonderful time and definitely the highlight of our holiday.

We left all the Christmas lights on, both inside and outside the house for the night and snuggled up as a bitter cold front blew through.  On Christmas morning, we awoke to snow flurries and we had a decent dusting of snow for a semi-white Christmas.  After a quick lunch of leftovers, we bundled up and headed out into the cold.  Destination - the mall theater with our pre-purchased tickets to "Les Miserables" clutched tightly in hand.  We arrived early enough to get terrific seats and munched on way too much popcorn while we waited for the movie to start.

I must say that I totally enjoyed the movie!  The music, the cinematography, the acting - I thought it was all superb.  And, hard as I tried, I couldn't keep the tears from my eyes in the final scenes.  The theater was packed and I think Eddie Dale and I have found a new Christmas tradition - the movies, of course!  When we returned home, we snacked on leftovers (again!) for dinner and popped in "It's a Wonderful Life" on the dvd player.  The perfect ending to a pretty perfect day......

Now, I've spent the better part of the day at the office and have come home to a quiet house.  Eddie is at work and the pups are all glad to see me.  I have another full day of work planned tomorrow, so this evening I am going to curl up and read....or maybe watch one last holiday movie that I recorded off the Hallmark Channel.  I'm having a hard time letting go of the Christmas feeling this year.....the tree and decorations still look beautiful and I plan on leaving everything up until the new year. It just feels so warm and cozy....I can definitely enjoy this for another week!

When do you take down the decorations???  
I've done it as early as Christmas evening, after the children went to bed.....and as late as the first week in January.  I guess it all depends on the year and what else is going on....

I hope you and your family/loved ones/friends had a wonderful and blessed Christmas!  Now, we can all look forward to the new year - 2013 - with great hope and anticipation!!!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas in a Compact Dining Area

To be honest, I've sort of  lost track of the countdown to Christmas this weekend.  

With the tragic events that unfolded Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, it has been hard to focus on the "trappings" of Christmas.  My heart is heavy and burdened for the victims' families and loved ones and I cannot even begin to imagine the scope of their loss.  It certainly puts things into perspective, doesn't it? 

For several days, I had been trying to capture the holiday decorations in our dining area in  photos that are share-worthy.  Lighting in that room is tricky, particularly at this time of year.  I finally just decided to go with what I had saved in my camera.  After all, how important can it truly be to fuss and fret over photos for a blog post when the world is in a state of shock and hurt?

Our kitchen and dining area are open to one another and very compact.  When we moved in nearly three years ago, we ended up "gutting" the kitchen down to the studs and rebuilding.  We got as much storage and counter space into the small area as possible.  You can see the results of that project RIGHT HERE

For the holidays, I try to keep it simple over in the dining area.  It is a very small area and everything has to be easily shifted (when we pull out the leaves to the table for dining and drag in more chairs) and kept to scale.

The floral table runner that I found this past summer at Big Lots has nice pops of red in it, so I am using it right through the holidays.  A large basket holds snacks and overflow from the cabinets year round, but I've added a poinsettia, simple candle and small bottle brush tree that can be whisked off the table quickly at mealtime. 

The corner cupboard was a gift from my Mother when we moved here.  (I.e., she bought it for her house but couldn't find a place to put it!  But, hey, it works wonderfully in this tight area!)  Simple lighted garland with lots of silver and gold jingle bells and a small collection of elves dance along the top.

This odd little cubby in the wall is a constant sore point and decorating dilemma.  It appears that somebody knocked this little spot out to fit a small television when they were bored one Saturday afternoon.  I would love for it to be gone.....but, you work with you've got, right?!?!?  So, I keep it filled, mostly with books and odds 'n' ends that change with the seasons.  The tall vase was an early autumn find at TJ Maxx and I simply used another prayer candle and leftover red bead garland to fill it.  A cup full of candy canes screams "Christmas" in any room and the grandkids have already hit this one. 

  The old salvaged window that hangs to the side of the back door is dressed with a garland and country-style Santa.....

And the spare ladder back chair is home to Rudolph, Clarice and a stuffed Santa and stocking made for me by my grandmother for my very first Christmas.  The Santa and stocking are showing their age (sort of like me), but they are among some of my most treasured keepsakes.....

I've been a real homebody this weekend.  Ansleigh spent the night with us Friday night and she and I made cookies yesterday.  Today, I've been working on a little more Christmas baking and candy making in the kitchen.  Scout is having a difficult day, feeling her age, so we are all about to snuggle up for a nap and hope she feels better when we wake up. 

I hope that each of you, no matter where you are in your holiday preparations, is finding the time to stop and enjoy the little things along the way.  
Hug on your loved ones a little extra, 
say an extra prayer, 
relish a quiet moment.....
and experience the true meaning of Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A "Not So Rushed" Saturday in December...

Oh, my golly gosh!!!

December is well under way and Christmas is racing towards us! 

I still need to get good photos in the dining area/kitchen and finish the tour of our home decked out for the holidays.  But, that just doesn't seem to be happening today.  

What can I say?!?!?  

Eddie had a rare Saturday off in December, so we decided to take full advantage and spend it together.  After he prepared fried bacon, scrambled eggs and toasted breakfast sandwiches, we got ready to hit the streets.  

We were only out for a couple of hours.  But, we had a lot of fun while making a few stops.  Eddie had to pick something up at Lowes, so he dropped me at the garden center before parking.  I just walked around and watched families selecting their trees and breathed in the heavenly scent of fresh cut firs.  

It made me want a real tree really badly!!!  

But, I settled for these instead.  And they really do smell like a real Christmas tree!  When we got home, I immediately hung three on the tree in the living room and I'm in heaven.....

After a stop at Target, we dined at Arby's and hit HEB for some dog food on the way home.  By the way, I discovered the most awesome holiday cookies.....  

And, what's even better is that Eddie doesn't like peppermint, so that means I get to eat them all!!

Now, the dogs and I are chillin' while Eddie watches the Navy v. Army football game.  My tummy is full of those yummy cookies and I am headed for my comfy corner chair in the bedroom to read (and maybe doze) for a bit.

 Doesn't that sound sinfully lazy right here in the middle of the "Christmas rush"???

This season is not all about the rush and the shopping.  
It's about having a little fun....time spent with loved ones....

and finding a bit of peace and quiet now and then.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bringing a Little Christmas Magic into the Bedroom

Don't you just love bringing little touches of Christmas into different areas of the home when decorating for the holidays?  

Today, I am sharing the master bedroom and how we like to celebrate the season in our own private little sanctuary.

Little is the key word when it comes to our bedroom.   

Our home was built in the early 50's, so there is no "master suite".  This is simply the largest bedroom, located at the front of the house.  So, it became our "master" and, this year, home to our traditional "Texas Tree".  Perched on the top of a writing desk in the corner and reflected in the mirror, it sparkles and shines with the numerous Texas and western-themed ornaments we have collected.

Actually, the colors I have year round in this room lend themselves very well to decorating for the holidays.  

The light olive tone on the walls, red and gold in the bedding, and gold sheers at the windows provide a nice backdrop for the red, green and gold of traditional Christmas decorations.

 On the dresser, sits a very simple arrangement of white prayer candles and shiny bulbs 
on a gold charger. 

 It provides a soft, radiant glow when reflected in the mirror in the evenings....

Do you decorate throughout your home or focus on the living areas?  

What are your favorite, and maybe non-traditional, rooms to deck out???  

I remember that my grandmother even decorated their bathroom when I was a child!  

Oh, yes, she did!  She had a Christmas toilet lid and tank set that adorned their lovely blue potty.  Looking back, it was kinda strange....and I'm not a fan of toilet seat covers at any season.  But, we thought it was grand back then!

Next time around, I am finishing out the holiday tour of our home with the dining area and some miscellaneous stuff.  So, make a point of dropping by again in a day or two!  

Wishing for you the true JOY of the season.....

Monday, December 3, 2012

Decking the Halls...

Welcome to our little cottage, all decked out for the holidays!!!

Today, I am sharing our living room.  Since I decorate other rooms in the house, I thought I would break it into separate posts - little mini tours - so I could share more photos for each space and not have a mile-long post!   

Our place is definitely small.  (Maybe that's why I like to call it a cottage - it makes it sound more romantic or chic.)  But, we are chocked full of Christmas cheer! With limited space, I try to keep things to scale. That is why, when it came time to replace our tree, I went with this very slim model. Although it isn't large, it fits the space nicely and provides lots of branch tips to hold our large, and growing, collection of ornaments.

The tree is nestled between a decorative table holding a display of snowglobes and the hutch I got from my mother many years ago.  Since we don't have a fireplace and mantle, I generally try to compensate by making every flat surface a mini-mantle!

The hutch is dressed differently every year, but this is how it came together this time.  I am still tweaking, though!

Holiday plates, tiny pine trees, framed photos, candles and tiny white lights.....Mary Engelbreit's illustrated "The Night Before Christmas" and our fun little elf (who often moves around during the night)....

And, up top, this framed movie print from "It's a Wonderful Life", signed by Jimmy Stewart, takes center stage...

The piano is dressed for the holiday, too, with its own theme of birds, red and green ornaments and chunky gold stars.

On top of the antique barrister case, we have our nativity scene - complete with angelic water globes and a framed print of a guardian angel my mother found in a shop many years ago.

The windows have ornaments hung from the curtain rods, just the same as I have done the last couple of years.  (You can read up on making these whimsically wired ornaments HERE.)  And you can just catch a glimpse of the lighted deer grazing out in the front yard!

I love this room in the evenings, when it is lit only by candlelight and the glow of the Christmas lights.  It's so warm and cozy and I look forward to the end of the day when we can just enjoy the decorations.

Linking with:  Sundays' Best Features and Par.tay #53 at My 1929 Charmer

Over the next couple of days, I will share more of our home.  So, I hope y'all will pop over to The Porch for another visit.  In the meantime, I'm still tweaking and fine-tuning, as I am sure you are!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Christmas Song to Take to Heart

December 1.......time is flying by!!!

Hard to believe that we are in full holiday swing.  But, Christmas is just a little over three weeks away now!

We are enjoying being all decked out for the season.  I've been busy at home today, just doing some cleaning and tweaking the decorations.  This evening, we have plans to go out with friends for dinner, but I am hoping to lay down and rest for just a bit with the pups before it is time to get ready. 

I know many folks are running and rushing at breakneck speed at this time of the year!  So much to the list goes on.  We are making a very conscious effort to avoid some of the craziness that has become the December norm.  

Enjoy time together when we are both off; get out at times of the day when it is less crowded; simplify the schedule.....those are our goals! 

I always enjoy music in the car when I am out and about.  Music seems to have a calming effect and often moves and inspires me, even when I'm only driving for a few minutes.  And I admit that I usually drag out the Christmas CD's early in November!  This particular song really speaks to me and I hope you will take a few minutes to listen and take to heart the lyrics......

Isn't this so true?  
We all need time to be quiet and still....
to reflect on the true meaning of the season at the end of each day. 

Which holiday songs do you find yourself singing along with this year?  Listening to over and over?  Take the time to leave a comment and share one of your favorites with us! 

Peace and Joy....

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Memories Around the Piano....

Christmas is in the air!!!

Everyone is bringing out treasured ornaments, decorating the tree and creating lovely vignettes across Blog Land.  For me, just sitting and browsing through the photos is so inspiring, but....

I've been doing a little decorating of my own.  

This piano has been in my family since I was a child.  I am so thankful to have it in our home!  It holds many special memories and is very beautiful....the warm wood, lovely lines and keys yellowed with age now.

I dress it differently for the holidays from year to year.  And, since we don't have a fireplace, the piano top serves as a mantel, of sorts!  This year I have topped with an evergreen garland, wrapped in tiny white lights and a beaded garland in traditional red, green and gold.  

To add some varying height, I popped bright red and green flocked ornaments from Dollar Tree on crystal candlesticks and nestled more into little Depression Glass dessert dishes passed down from my grandmother.....

I added in some chunky gold paper mache elements......

And, of course, my red and gold clip-on birds sit among the branches of the garland!

But, my absolute favorite element is the vintage sheet music - "White Christmas".  Ed found this on Ebay several years ago and it is such a treasure.  There are times when I walk through the living room and am simply drawn to the piano, compelled to pull out the bench, take a seat.....and play this lovely tune. 

Doesn't it make you want to sit down and make music?  I know it makes me want to sit and down practice, practice, practice this piece so I can play it and have the family gather around and sing on Christmas Eve!

This is just one little corner of our living room and I promise to have more to show you  next time we visit!  Until then, wishing you many blessings......

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