Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Posts of 2011

It was not until I started looking back through my posts that I realized just how much we have accomplished this year! Our house is definitely well on the way to becoming the home we have always dreamed of.
According to the pageviews for my blog, the following were the most viewed posts from this year:

1.Architectural Art
This project consumed most of my year as I was very busy making these for several family members, co-workers, every wedding/shower we attended and even a few anniversaries.

I changed it up a little bit at the end of the year by creating similiar pieces using photographs of different tools, which I gifted to my nephews for Christmas.

2.Thomas Train Birthday Party
This was one of the most fun projects I did all year. It is absolutely ridiculous the amount of money you could spend in decorating for a party and feeding the guests. I think that it is so much more fun and personal, not to mention cheaper, to be able to create the decorations myself.

3.Curb Appeal
Since moving into our current home, I have been less than thrilled with the curb appeal. I had contemplated painting the exterior of our home this summer to freshen up the curb appeal and also camouflage some of the flaws. Fortunately, we were able to update the curb appeal with brand new vinyl siding and a new roof! This is one of the most amazing transformations that our home has undergone in the 2 years that we have owned it!

4.Living Room Changes
A change to the curtains in our living room resulted in painting it for the 3rd time in the past two years! We also bought 2 new sofas! The room has come a long way since we first moved in!

5. Dramatic Dining Room Color
Finding a gallon of "oops" paint prompted a drastic color change in our dining room!

6. Landscaping
After 2 years in our current house, we finally spent some time working on cleaning up the landscaping around our house. A large bush on our lot was replaced with a much cleaner looking rock garden. We also trimmed several trees and cleaned up the flower beds in front of our house.

7. Gallery Wall I have wanted a gallery wall for awhile and this year I found a perfect spot to put one in our basement stairwell. My mom was over recently and said that it took her 10 minutes to get up the stairs. I remarked that it was because of her recent knee surgery and difficulty getting up the stairs. She immediately responded, "No, I was busy taking in all of the photos on the stairs!"

8. Fall Topiary Update
I loved the pumpkin topiary that I created last year, but this one was even better!

9. Safari Themed Baby Shower
Planning my sister-in-laws baby shower was a jumpstart to my creativity after taking several weeks off! Here you can see some of the fun shower games and decor ideas that could be used for a baby girl or boy!

10. Little Mermaid Birthday Party
Check out how I made everything from invitations to decor and a cake for my little girls' Little Mermaid themed birthday party.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The boys who have everything

I have difficulty every year thinking of something unique to get for my nephews. They are totally into anything motorized (trucks, tractors, equipment and trains) and love helping their dad fix or work on anything from house to car repairs. Over the past 3 and 2 years of their young lives, they have acquired almost every toy truck, tractor and train you can imagine from the itty bitty, to practically life sized. And their obsession is not just limited to toys. If there is a shirt or piece of clothing with these things, they have that as well!
With large families on both sides, it is even more difficult to get something unique or special. I began thinking about Christmas early this year and decided to incorporate some of my letter art into my Christmas gifts, but the architectural letters were not exactly going to impress these two. So this summer, I began looking through the garage for tools that could look like the letters in their names. Neither my husband or I are very handy, but suprisingly, I was able to find tools to represent all of the letters of their names and then some.
Without further adieu, here is what I came up with for the boys who have everything:

I'm sure that it was not as exciting for them to open as some of the other gifts that they received this Christmas, but I hope that these personalized pieces of art will hang in their rooms and bring them joy long after all of the trucks and toys are packed away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Open House

I have had most of the decor up around our house for several weeks. With Christmas around the corner, I thought that it was finally time to invite you in to take a look around.
I inherited some wood reindeer and a plastic santa from my mother after she cleaned out her garage this fall. With the addition of the deer, I decided to tweak my outdoor decor. I put icicle lights up on the roof, as I did last year. Instead of continuing the icicle lights along the deck railing, I placed the reindeer in our raised planter bed and strung lights between them to look like a lighted tree.

Santa stands near the door, that is decorated in red and green wreaths, to greet guests to our home.

The trees I bought for our porch several years ago, did not hold up very well in the wind and elements last year, so I moved them into our entry.

They add a little bit of sparkle when they are all lit up at night!

Just like last year, I hung a few ornaments from the light fixture in the entryway.

Our living room is right off of the entry, and the perfect place for our tree.

A few weeks after putting the tree up, we came home to this:

Fortunately, very few of our ornaments were broken! And I had an excuse to put the ornaments on a little more evenly (i.e. not all on the bottom 1/4 of the tree), as I could not let the kids help as they may step in or touch a broken glass ornament and get cut.
The living room also houses one of my favorite decorations, my Nativity set. It was a gift last year from my husband's grandmother. (I think that I kept it up until June last year because I didn't want to put it away!)

I hang our stockings from the fireplace in the living room every year. Because of my husband's obsession with very large electronics (we had to buy a 72" tv this year because the 60" just wasn't cutting it anymore), there is not much room for much besides our stocking holders. I finally added some fur letters to our stockings so that we can tell which one belongs to us without looking inside. I did uppercase letters for my husband and I and lower case letters for the kids.

My dining room is the same as last year, with my upcycled crib rail card holder and ornament centerpiece. I did add a fluffy coffee filter wreath to the window.

My kitchen is also complete with the addition of my holiday plates and mugs that I have used for years.

Last year, I decided to buy a few fake trees at the end of the season. One of those trees went upstairs in the hallway between my children's rooms. I had lots of silver, purple and blue ornaments that my husband and I had bought for our very first tree together. They have sat in storage all these years, because I decided to switch to a more traditional red, green and gold palette the next year. The silver, purple and blue looks very icy and wintery on a white tree.

I diy'ed a silver tinsel garland for the topper, trimmed a tree skirt in more silver garland and also made some star ornaments out of a baking dishes like Nike from Thrive.
With that, my Christmas Open House has come to the end. I hope you enjoyed your peek into our holiday decor. I want to thank you for taking a look around and also wish you a very Happy Holidays!

Christmas Questionnaire

I have seen this questionnaire on several blogs that I read and thought that it would be a fun way to ease into some blogging for the Holidays. Here goes:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate for sure!

2. Does santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa always wraps them. It doesn't feel like Christmas unless you are surrounded by tons of pieces of beautiful wrapping paper!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I like white lights, especially icicle lights. I have several sets that I use on the front of our house.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Never.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Soon after Thanksgiving. My mom always tells me that I need to wait until after my birthday, December 4th, but because we buy a real tree the weekend of Thanksgiving, we start before then.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? My family is very non-traditional as far as food goes, so my favorite is my mom's homemade chicken noodle soup.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? I love that we each took turns opening gifts one by one. There were five kids, so some years, it took us hours to open everything, but it was really nice to be able to see everyone's reaction to each gift!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about santa? I think that I was in about 5th grade. My friends revealed the secret and my mom confirmed it. I was devastated but put on a happy face for my 4 younger siblings.

9. Do you open a gift on christmas eve? not usually.

10. How do you decorate your christmas tree? with red, green and gold ornaments. Lots of our ornaments are hand me downs from parents and grandparents from when my husband and I were younger. We also have several sentimental ornaments celebrating the timeline of our lives together, marriage, 1st house, moving, pregnancy and babies.

11. Snow! love it or dread it? I love it for Christmas! If it could snow Christmas eve and then melt and not return until the next year that would be just fine with me!

12. Can you ice skate? I have never tried, but would believe that I would not be any good as roller skating was a very dangerous sport for me!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I got a typewriter one year for Christmas and spent days in my room typing up my own stories and poems.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Spending time with family! My husband and I are both the oldest children in our families and are very close to our parents and siblings. Luckily, my family waits to celebrate Christmas
until January, while we get together with Randy's family on Christmas eve and Christmas day. This way we are not rushed and get to really enjoy the time we have with each of our families.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? I love the candies that my family gets together every year to make including peanut butter and cocunut bon bons, peanut brittle, and cookies.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? It would have to be picking out and decorating our live tree. Since meeting my husband, I have taken part in their tradition of getting a real tree. We go the week or so after Thanksgiving to pick our tree and set it up soon after.

17. What tops your tree? A Fanciful Flights Angel. I collect Fanciful Flights sculptures and was so ecstatic to find the tree topper.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? Definitely giving! I have made a few handmade gifts over the years, and those are definitely fun to give!

19. Candy canes: yuck or yum? Rainbow candy canes are good, but I would rather waste the calories on something chocolate!

20. Favorite christmas show? The classics: Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman.

21. Saddest christmas song? Christmas Shoes, but I love it!

22. What is your favorite christmas song? Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is You", Mannheim Steamroller and Feliz Navidad. I have a very ecclectic taste in Christmas music, but those are my favorites to sing along to! I'll listen to Holiday Music from Thanksgiving until well after Christmas, I can't get enough of it!