Friday, December 31, 2010

Inspiration Friday Party No. 17!


It's almost a New Year!
What will it hold?
The rollercoaster ride that is this life guarantees us that there will be surprises and joys and challenges in the coming year.
Are you a Resolution maker?
I'm not really, but I do have a lot of things on my mind as I close out 2010. Things I'm dreaming about.

Like where on earth to put this thing...

I was at TJ Maxx the other day (go figure!) and there it was buried under a pile of other artwork. It called out to me but I didn't listen. haunted me...and haunted cried,
"Come back! Come back!"
So I did.
And it was still there. Which we all know means it was meant to be mine all along.

Do you want to see it in all of it's gigantic glory?

But where to put it?
There it sits in the laundry room just waiting patiently while my hubby huffs it all around the house holding it up for me in a myriad of places. He's such a giver!
I'm pretty sure I know where I'm going to hang it but, I think I will let that be a surprise for my first post of the New Year!

But, even more than decorating and home projects, we are purposing as a family to do a lot more of this....

In just 4 days, this boy has become quite adept at Chess and is begging to play every day with Daddy. We almost got a Wii this year (I know we are the LAST people on earth to not have one!) but then he mentioned wanting to learn to play chess and, let's face it, this was a lot cheaper! Don't worry, he got other gifts too.

And I am purposing in the New Year to do a lot more of this...

I'll admit it...I love a good mystery! Not just any mystery, though. I like old-school stuff like Miss Agatha Christie and I got the above this year for Christmas and I've already been sucked into the world of Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

And my hubby and I are reading things like this...

We know she is only 3 but it's never too early to start preparing for what is coming our way and this book is especially excellent for those with girls ages 7-12 (and on into the teen years).
We are daily praying for God's wisdom and guidance as we prepare these little people to go out into the world someday.

And, I've decided that when it comes to my long list of home projects for this year, I am just going to ease into things.
Because, well, I'm tired!
So, here is a sneak peek at a quick and easy change I made this week to our master bathroom.

I'll show you the rest next week!

So, do you make Resolutions?
I know those creative juices are already flowing with dreams for next year! Or, maybe you are just still enjoying Christmas and the memories from this past year. I have seen so many amazing posts with your highlighted projects from 2010 and you all blow me away! I can only imagine with the New Year will hold.
I'm sure it will be an adventure!

Now, let's get to our Inspiration Friday Party!
What did you get for Christmas? What were your favorite projects from last year? How are you preparing for next year?
I can't wait to be Inspired by you all!

You know the drill...
1. Add your Permalink to your entry but not your General Blog Address. To get your Permalink, click on the title of the blog post you are wanting to submit and copy and paste the address into the URL box. You will also have to add your email address but it will not be visible to anyone else.

2. Do not try and Link up until you have actually published that particular post on your blog.
3. Please link back to the host blog, Southern In My Heart, so that those who visit your blog will be able to find some wonderful Inspiration from everyone else.

And let me leave you with this as we usher in 2011,
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him..." Romans 15:13

Happy New Year Sweet Friends!
From this Southern Girl at Heart,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Let's start at the very beginning

A very good place to start.
When you read you begin with A B C.
When you sing, you begin with Do Re Mi."
(from Sound of Music)
When you Blog you begin with, oh dear me!
Couldn't I see?

I don't know about you, but when I first started blogging back in July, I was not the most....ahem...gifted in the photography department. I'm not really much better now but at least I finally know how to edit my pictures!
So, my retrospect of projects from this last year will be selective in order to spare you.

We moved into our home 2 1/2 years ago and most of our larger projects were done in that first year. Wallpaper removal, painting, patching holes in doors and walls, tree removal that lifted up the entire yard. You get the idea!
This year was more about the fun stuff. Faucets and light fixtures and all of the little details that start making a house feel more like a home. Let's look back...

My first project I photographed for my blog was transforming our deck into a more inviting space for enjoying those lazy days of summer.

Our other outdoor projects included adding pavers to this little area in the front

and a raised bed garden in the back. That little lattice fencing you see in the rear of the photo is covering our air conditioning unit. It just didn't "Go" with my design plans, you know?

Turning inside, I finally managed to get this beautiful painting, done by my father-in-law, framed with molding and hung with 2 shutters on either side to create a "faux window" in my daughter's room.

I also discovered that spray paint is my new best friend and I sprayed my old brass bars on my fireplaces this lovely shade of copper.

I made new pillows for the family room sofa.

And in a "miracle of miracles" moment, actually painted our front door. In that post I said that the "Welcome" mat was actually a big fat liar because the door used to be so hideous it made people want to turn back around and head home!

We did some updating in our master bathroom

Including replacing faucets and,

Putting in new window treatments.

One of the most fun things to me about this blogging experience has been working up the courage to try new things.
Playing with centerpieces was just not something I felt confident in doing B.B. (Before Blogging)!

And if you had told me a few months ago that I would be participating in "Cloche Parties" I would have said,
"What's a Cloche?"

"Ohhhhh....they're those little cake stand looking things with the dome on top!"

There were many other projects, both little and small, but I think that the biggest blessing to me has been connecting with all of you. You have truly been a huge blessing and encouragement to me!
Someone said that "bloggy friends" are the best kind of friends because they only ever compliment you and say nice things.

I don't think that is entirely true but it has been nice to be on the receiving end of such support! But with many of you, the friendship has gone so far beyond DIY projects and Tablescapes. You have shared your hearts and your life experiences and that has been the biggest surprise to me this year!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming along on this journey with me and I look forward to what 2011 holds for all of us.
I'm pretty sure Spray Paint will be involved!

Linking to
Miss Kim's Boring to Better Party
Miss Rhoda's Top Projects of 2010
Whassup Wednesday
Feathered Nest Friday

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Because Christmas is Over...

Doesn't mean you can't enjoy the smell of Gingerbread wafting through the house.

Gingerbread Waffles that is!

This is one of our favorite family recipes and we make it starting in the fall and all through the winter.

We even love to make them on our "Breakfast for Dinner" nights!

Topped off with carmelized apples and bananas they are simply scrumptious. I'm sure that makes them healthier too!

Here is the recipe
1/4 C butter or margarine     1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 C light molasses               2 eggs, well beaten
1 C. milk                           2 C. siften flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder           1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger        1/4 t. allspice        1/2 t. salt
Cream butter, brown sugar, molasses, eggs, and milk. Sift together flour, baking powder, ginger, allspice, and salt; add to molasses mixture. Bake on greased waffle iron. Top with bananas or apples.

And here are some of our Christmas Highlights!

Visiting Santa on Christmas Eve at our Downtown Carousel. Lauren looks thrilled doesn't she? It was all we could do to get her to stay in that sleigh long enough for a photo!

All dressed up for Christmas Eve service at church. A girl's gotta have a sparkly purse to complete the ensemble.

The kids each receive a gift from Daddy on Christmas Eve. Lauren got a Ballerina Nutcracker and here she is showing us her own dance moves.

Ian received his first Chess set and they wasted no time getting the game going. Ian picked it up so quickly he is going to have to teach mommy now!

And, here they are coming down the stairs on Christmas morning.
They were not too happy that I made them stop to take this picture.
Can you see the courtesy smile?

I'm pretty sure it is because they saw this waiting for them!

This dollhouse that Lauren received was actually one that my dad built for my sister years ago. It has been sitting in their barn and Heather said that since my niece was past playing with it now, they would love to hand it down to Lauren. Remember that snow storm my parent's drove through at Thanksgiving? This dollhouse was sitting in the back of their truck the entire time! We reused some of the old furniture and I bought some new pieces to add to it. My plan is to repaint it and add wallpaper and maybe some stenciled rugs.
She is loving it and I even managed to find a new Victorian Doll Family that don't look creepy!

And yes, that is a toaster waffle sitting on the floor in the living room. Who wants to stop playing to go eat?
This is my favorite picture from the weekend. Little sister had been tucked into bed and Ian got to stay up a little bit later and listen to the grown-ups tell funny stories of Christmas' past.
Snuggled into Daddy's arms, this is where the memories are made!

So, how are you all doing? I'm looking forward to having time this week to visit you and catch up on all of your favorite memories from this blessed season!
See you soon,

Marty's hosting an "Anything Goes Party" at
A Stroll Thru Life

Thursday, December 23, 2010

From our family to yours...

Found buried in his backpack, written by my 7 year old.

From our family to yours,

Merry Christmas with Love,
Robb, Vanessa, Ian and Lauren

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wasn't it just Summer?

My house has been decorated since before Thanksgiving.
I have baked and wrapped and shopped.
We have driven around looking at lights (many, many times).
The doors have been opened on the Advent house.
We've made paper snowflakes and angels and cotton ball snowmen.
And yet...
It still snuck up on me!
How does that happen?
I found myself the other night turning to my husband and saying,
"Wasn't it just summer?"
It went too fast!

Anyone else feel that way?
Anyone? Anyone?

Well, if you are finding yourself doing some scrambling for any last minute gifts for friends and neighbors, let me offer you an idea that I tried this year.
I always see those beautiful jars of Mulling Spices at the specialty kitchen stores but they tend to be kind of pricey. And we LOVE our Mulled Cider around here, so I thought I would try my hand at making it myself this year.
It was very simple...

Now, there are many different variations of this but I did the one that was the least labor intensive.
You need:
Whole Nutmeg
Whole Cloves
Whole Allspice
Cinnamon Sticks

Put the nutmeg and the cinnamon sticks in plastic bag and lightly mash them with a hammer or mallet. You still want them to be in fairly big chunks. Cut squares of cheesecloth and make sure they are at least 2 layers thick. Pour some of the mashed nutmeg and cinnamon sticks into the middle of the square and then add 2 Tablespoons of cloves and allspice.
Tie up the ends of the cheesecloth and wrap with twine or ribbon.

Add a simple tag and you have a nice little gift!
On the back I wrote "Place in a simmering pot of Apple Juice for a delicious, aromatic beverage."

I even tried them myself when we had a party the other night and had folks say that it was the best Mulled Cider they had ever tried.
I think it was because the spices were so fresh.
Or maybe it was just the extra love that went into it!

Hope you are all enjoying this week!

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Our hearts grow tender...

...with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year, for having, in spirit, become like a child again at Christmas-time."
 Laura Ingalls Wilder

With only a few days to go until the Big Day, I just wanted to share with you a little bit more of my Christmas-y home!

Before we head into the kitchen, I have to show you my built-in hutch with just a few simple touches.

Come in for a closer look!

 A couple of changes gave this vignette some Christmas spirit.

My one and only little cloche holds a wintery scene.

Would you believe that this year was the first time I have ever purchased faux snow? If I knew the little fingers would leave it alone I would  have sprinkled it all over the place!

My crystal jar looks so sparkly with these ball ornaments courtesy of Wal-Mart.

Moving on into the kitchen, we'll stop in the breakfast nook where I have added some sprigs of greenery and berries tied with a simple ribbon to my 3-tiered stand for just that little touch of Christmas cheer.

I have been so delighted to realize that a common thread among bloggers at Christmas time is that we all seem to go a little more fun and festive in our kitchen decorating.
I am no exception!

Hanging on the door of our utility closet is this sweet way to count down the days until Christmas.
Every day the kids take turns adding to the Nativity scene until the 24th when baby Jesus makes His way to the manger. And no, we aren't off on our days. I just took the picture a couple of weeks ago! We are also working on not arguing over who gets to put the baby Jesus in the manger. You know they are missing the point of it all when mommy has to say "if you both don't stop fighting over baby  Jesus, I'm just going to have to put Him up myself!"

Over on the kitchen desk is this simple topiary tied with a bright red ribbon and surrounded by these sweet little houses. They used to be mine as a little gir and I had no idea until I had my own home that my mom had been saving them all those years.

Each little door has a number and they get opened every day of the month and fill in the sentence "Christmas Is...." with a simple word like "Generosity or Caring or Togetherness", etc. It has really helped having 2 different things to open or add to every day so the kiddos each have something to do.

In the shelves above the desk is this apothecary jar filled with colorful ball ornaments. I never would have chosen these last year, but you fellow bloggers have really helped me to branch out!

O.K. Are you getting sticky yet from all of the sappy stuff I share? Too bad because here comes a little more! Every year when we were little my dad would pick out an ornament to give to me and my sister. He always felt so left out when we opened our presents because he never really knew what we were getting since my mom did all of the shopping. So, he started the tradition of giving us one special gift just from him that we would open on Christmas Eve.
This little angel was one of them. She used to be a bell but now is just a sweet figurine. She comes out every year and I tuck her into this little corner so I can see her in the room where I spend the most amount of time. She always makes me think of how privileged we were to have a Daddy like that!

In the corner behind the sink I used my existing topiary but tucked in a few sprigs of bright red berries.

Have you heard of a "Groaning Board"? It references a sideboard overflowing to the point of "groaning" with treats and goodies galore. Well, this is our "Groaning Corner". It keeps growing and do we, every time we take a nibble while passing by!

Thanks for letting me show you a little bit more of my home.
Here is a sneak peek of what I hope to show you tomorrow!

 Are you feeling ready for the big Day?
I hope you get some time this week to pause in the midst of all of the frantic activity and just enjoy the moments!
From this Southern Girl at Heart,