I’m taking it down and I’m ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas but I wanted to share a few fun bits.
Pro Party tip – put a tablecloth on the wall as a splash guard. Ask me how I know…. This is the drinks station from the party and to further protect my paint I stuck up the plastic table cloth with wall decals. Big impact and the best part was no spills on the wall and the white table cloth is still white.
The ‘thing’ of the year this year was the skeleton animals. I had zero to start and I collected about 7 over the weeks coming up. They are so creepy but in a classy way, like I’m an eccentric collecter… The bell jars for my specimens are vases.
This was my really out there creation for the spooky boo-fet at the party. The original one on Pinterest looks so much better but I did ok. I searched the internet for ideas of what to put in the middle of the meathead and got zero answers so my meathead is on a cabbage – dense, inexpensive, and isn’t too weird looking when you start eating it. The one it the pictures uses mini sausages maybe? I used a giant summer sausage cut up into strips.
This mobile could be its own post. I was trying to get something to suck up some of our echo in the room. I think it helped, hard to say. The family each made a glue and fabric ghost and I strung/balanced them onto 2 6f pieces of metal. I’m thinking of changing the ghosts for snowflakes soon, we will see.
This is a fun substitution – where the skulls are used to be flower baskets. They were an impulse buy and gave nice color to this odd corner. I peeled off the basket and added skulls, for the 22 seconds, it took to actually do it got an admirable amount of attention.
A better shot of both my new picture rail (I’m very excited) and the collection of all our costumes from the last 11 years. I took them down and the wall looks so empty but I have a plan for Thanksgiving and then this is the future home of all Christmas cards we receive. We also moved a bench that we use as seating when we have big dinner parties into this room, it really works. It is also the #1 place for sneak cat attacks, beware what lurks behind the drape….
What do you do with outgrown treat buckets that actually have holes in the bottom because we had them on our porch lights at the old garage? Well, I put them on top of a cabinet for a cool pop. I see this as soon as I walk in and it made me happy all season.
I could not take a picture that did justice to this window. The candles are LED flicker style and I think it is simple, spooky, and elegant. We don’t have a mantle or a fireplace so this ‘piano window’ is my go-to centerpiece spot.
Final picture – we did have lots of Halloween shirts but these two are favorites of mine. I made them 3 years ago and they are still going strong. Lace, ribbon, and zigzag stitch.
Halloween is officially going into the boxes. I’ve picked my fav’s of the photos to print for next year, and the giant haul of collected candy has been divided 80% to be donated, 20% to be kept.
Anyone else do something cool for Halloween?
I’ve already documented my odd relationship with easter since it is so religious and so family in my mind it is very hard to ‘do right’ when I live far from relatives and don’t really practice. However, we have created a few traditions and as the kids get older it feels more festive and full.
Yesterday I made the figgoli and today we decorated. For a treat that is ancient and has no really special ingredients, in a modern kitchen it uses all the tools. There is the blender for cutting almonds, there is the kitchen aid to make the dough, there is the scale for measurements, there is the hand mixer for whipping egg and mixing the filling. Egg dying is next up but they are outside enjoying the gorgeous weather.
We had friends over for dinner and some games and it was a nice change of pace, tomorrow we are going to hunt eggs and do a byo brunch at another friends house and vague plans for vacation mom to drop over at some point. The nook for friends is nicely filled, I just wish I could import family more easily.
However it is you celebrate or spend this weekend I hope you have fun
This was the first Christmas in the new house
This was probably also the first Christmas that all the kids were into it.
Sure, they had moments, short tempers, fights over the dumbest things (so dumb I don’t have a funny example because my brain can’t even fathom how they managed to fight over it) however each said without fail that this was the best Christmas ever.
I missed being in NY, the kids missed their cousins and grandparents and quality time was spent on facetime. On the other hand, I feel refreshed after 5 days of break instead of trying to fit everything in and burning sleep to do it. Not that I’m napping the break away, it is just removing all responsibilities beyond feeding the kids is mentally nice.
There is also a new secret weapon to sanity; I can leave the kids home for an hour or two and it is OK. Not just legally ok (and it is) like, actually ok – they don’t seem to kill each other while I’m gone and I’ve come home to happy kids doing their own thing or watching a show every time. It is incredibly freeing to run to the grocery or hardware solo, or, with Lars and NO KIDS. They BEG to stay home, I didn’t know I had been torturing them so all these years but I did read a good article once about viewing shopping from a kid’s POV. Where you have no control or choice about where you are going, have to stick with someone else the whole time, can’t ask for anything, can’t even touch stuff that catches your eye. The article said imagine doing that with an adult friend – you would never – since then I’ve been treating shopping more kindly and looking at things that they think are cool and treating their opinions as I would a friend and it does help, but hey, it isn’t as good as undiluted Minecraft/kindle/TV/game that spreads toys all over with no one to tell you to pause and come pick up your socks or load the dishwasher etc. Anyway, sorry for that tangent, but it is relevant to my current good mood because I had the BEST Christmas eve and a really good Christmas day and day after even.
‘New house’ is an excuse I’ve used long enough that I’m sick of it. Yes, the house has eaten a ton of money and energy but when we made the decision to stay I also felt like I could reallocate some energy to getting back to normal and not so frantic. We actually made 3 types of cookies and creme brulee for Christmas. We used frosting and cookie cutters and we just stopped when they were ‘done’ even though that means there are 3 dozen unfrosted cookies in the freezer. I wrapped a mountain of gifts, nearly all in fabric so the clean up was relatively easy and I didn’t feel like I was filling a landfill. We threw out one single kitchen size trash bag and that was mostly packaging, not wrapping paper. I’ve posted about it before but it really is so easy to pack soft things or oddly shaped things, it all fits in a bag and bags don’t rip on crazy open areas to ‘show off’ the toy. They also make a very pretty collection if you make 6 or so a year, after 5 years you have a variety.
We got teacher gifts and even neighbor gifts done. Having Christmas on a Tuesday actually made things easier because that last weekend saw lots of Christmas prep time. For teachers, I broke the candy rule and made them all emergency sweet boxes. I know all the teachers well this year and I’m pretty confident they all like candy. If they don’t, still a useful bits box once they give away the 20 odd pieces in there. Neighbor gifts were from Pinterest and I hit a great sale early in the season at Michaels where nice wrapping paper was only $1.50 a roll and a 3 pack of tape was $3 ish and then there was a coupon…. It didn’t get together until 2 days before Christmas but the point was that it was emergency last second wrapping supply. I also sent each of them an invite to a new years day party so even if I don’t do it again, I had a good reason to this year.
Christmas Eve we had no plans – being in a place you never usually are cuts down on traditional invitations – but we kept busy somehow. I used my freedom to go pick up groceries using the pickup service and it was great to avoid that store on Christmas eve AND gave me time to pop into the thrift store. I intended to go to buy butter knives for Lars who has taken up thrown weapons and saw a youtube about using butter knives and to keep his grubby hands of the silver I got him a dozen of his own. While I was there (solo) I browsed the Christmas clearance and scored a house for my collection, a nutcracker for Zoe who is oddly into them and it was the best dollar I spent all year for her joy, and my best purchase was specialty Christmas dessert plates. I have room to store them finally and I really love them and they were under .50 each.
Santa was left a tray and kids practically put themselves to bed. This being the first year in the house the furniture got re-arranged to suit gift opening and this room is more and more my favorite. I wish the chair could stay full time but it is also needed in the living room. The final crazy thing we did is total potty humor but that is still very funny over here. The Tamtes all pooped mints for Christmas morning! We put a handful of mints under each one and it was worth it because they noticed right away and are delighted by it. I had intended to do it earlier in the season but this worked too.
Christmas Day started early (2am Fiona!) but they did let us go back to sleep until 7:30 and Niamh made cinnamon rolls and Fiona made coffee and Zoe made joyful noise and they actually spent their time organizing the gifts into people piles and that was helpful for opening, plus, it gave them time to wonder over the gifts and that is the best part sometimes. We had nearly no lull because Vacation Mom came for brunch and then the rolling family calls and then we hosted dinner for a set of friends and we finished the night with a new game that was a bigger success then I had anticipated.
Boxing day was totally lazy. PJ’s worn well into the afternoon. Kids cheerfully doing kits and playing with toys. I sequestered myself in my room to finally get my closet organized. It still had lots of boxes, lots…. I didn’t finish but I did get the shelving up I needed and I’m at 70%. I’ll have a picture when I’m done but there is no before picture, however, you can just imagine a small room full of boxes and 30 graphic t-shirts hung up. (ps. Lars didn’t notice there were boxes in the closet?!?). Maybe unearthing so many of my things beget my good mood but I definitely have one. I said goodbye to 2 bags for donations and 1 bag of garbage but I’m ok with letting it go.
Here we are today, on a bonus December day. A day off that has no obligation to society, church, family, or even airlines. Our plan is to go to the zoo but it is somewhat weather dependent. Tomorrow or the next day we need to start pulling out of vacation and getting ready for our open house party on New Year’s day but that isn’t today. I have house projects cooking too but none are quite done enough for pictures.
I hope your holiday week has been as good, good enough to outweigh the not so pretty times in the week. Believe me, there have been lows in my week too but as always I am focusing on the positive here and it doing so it sets the positive points in my brain. It is my worst fear that someone reads my blog and feels bad about themselves in comparison – I’m cherry picking – I could post a giant list of shortcomings, fears, messes, and disagreements but I don’t want to, and would that be interesting or helpful? In the interest of full disclosure and your feelings trust me they were/are there!
Can’t end with that, just not my style so; Merry Christmas and enjoy the last few days of 2018.
Am I ignoring Christmas with my title? Nope, I just am referring to ALL the holidays that are in this season. Some I celebrate, some I don’t, realistically there are SO MANY Christmas traditions that one could go crazy tieing them all in and that isn’t even touching other faiths. The school does a good job filling in details about traditions in many faiths and cultures and it really does make we wish I could do them all.
I love a cool tradition. I wish I had a maid (don’t we all) not because I dislike cleaning but because I really really like doing crafty creative decorating things and too much time is sucked up with normal cleaning. This makes me pick and choose what we are doing because life doesn’t slow down to accommodate, still have jujitsu and girl scouts and chorus and school board and PTO etc.
This year things are complicated a little (more) because new house means that none of our previous decorating go-to work. First, everything we have from before looks laughably small because the scale of our rooms is totally different in this house. Second, we have very few places to put things, for example, we don’t have a shelf in the living room yet much less a mantle to hang stockings with care. I also had a minor panic attack when 9 more BOXES were imported into the house, but, I told myself they are simply Christmas stuff and I can’t hold my box angst against Christmas.
We are a tad behind on things but I think I’ve covered it well. The kids wanted the Santa beard countdown and I finally got it done this Monday. To cover the late start I put it in an envelope from the ‘north pole’ in our mailbox and had a note that the first beard must have gone to the old address… They totally understood and happily went on to decorate the Santa and hat and we have been trimming the beard daily since.
Two things we actually are nailing this year is our annual Hannukah dinner, and, we added in Advent. I had already decided to do advent and even had candles when my mom suggested that we do the candle lighting together via facetime. Sometimes moms and daughters are just on the same page and for the past two Sundays, we have lit the candles ‘together’ 1400 miles apart. For the last few years, we have invited our friend who celebrates Hannukah to come share it with us. I actually told him the dates this year (it was early) and the day that worked best happened to be Sunday so he joined us in lighting the advent wreath. Then we had a very nice dinner with friends and the deadline of this dinner party really helped move the Christmas decor along. We actually trimmed the tree with them too, it was a classic evening.
One tradition that I’ve been semi-avoiding is the Elf on a Shelf but I ended up right in the soup of arranging Christmas creatures because I fell in love with the Swedish Tomte and made a set of 5 with the kids. Well, one thing led to another and they have been found posed a time or two. I wonder if there is an award for holiday tradition combining because I am totally winning this year.
Like most parents, this feels like an overwhelming time of year- and for us, it comes at the end of an overwhelming year. The decision to stay in MN for Christmas does simplify many things but it is still a hard choice. I’m trying not to overcompensate because the point of not traveling was to lessen stress. I feel super lucky that the kids have nothing crazy on their lists, except for the incredibly crazy things that they know are long shots so won’t be sad they won’t happen like iPads or Horses. They are enjoying the traditions, the magic of tomte is infectious because every time I move they love it. In looking at pictures to add to this post, even though my list is still long (like I’ve done next to no gift shopping) we have done some fun stuff;
Not too bad and we have 2 weeks to go. One last thing for those interested in the curtain campaign, I’m finally finished with bedrooms and started on downstairs. I’m pretty proud of this one – since the picture I’ve added the sheers but I like how they look.
As I said, the list is forever long so I need to do both laundry folding and Christmas card assembly today so time to get off the computer. I hope your holiday season is going well!
Every box of books in the house or garage is now nearly unpacked. (Fiona wants to do the kid books personally) I feel like we are missing a few boxes so they may be at our friend’s barn that we have not emptied yet (but will soon!). This isn’t all the books in the house, there are some upstairs too, this is just the majority.
I’ve missed my books….
How does this happen to me every year? I feel like there is ages to go and then suddenly it is crunch time.
I got the Christmas cards created, printed, address updated and printed, stamps and all in the mail. I must say that Avery templates have gotten really good. I used them to make super cute return address labels and they printed out so much easier than using the mail merge.
We have completed our holiday craft item. I’m experimenting with essential oil sprays and settled on 2 – one full of anti bug stuff to repel anything crawly, and, the other is just good smelling and with the high alcohol content it is really good at taking the smell out of non-washable things. We did a very scientific test – we took Lars’s riding gloves that are full of years worth of hand sweat and sprayed one and not the other and then got everyone who came over to do a sniff test. I think we actually did it because while the experimental glove never exactly got to smell ‘good’ it no longer smelled bad and the control was found every time. More credit to Avery for their printable templates. I buy the labels and go online and super easily create the perfect size graphics. I got the kids to do the drawings and I uploaded and tweaked them to fit and I’m happy with the results.
I’m in the middle of the sewing project for the kids. This year I’m inspired by the fact that they constantly steal all the living room blankets and find ways to tie them onto themselves as capes or dresses or disguises… I decided to make each of them a cloak with a hood out of a blanket BUT they have built-in scarf/tie to make them easy to keep on AND little hand pockets on the edge that can either be for better wing shape, or, putting things into. I wish I had a loner kid to test the design, I can’t wait to give it to them!
Decorations are on the scant side this year. We put a bunch of them into storage and I don’t know where they are. The 2 boxes we kept out did have some of the most important ornaments and there is enough to look festive overall. It did hower prompt a Dad-joke.
Lars – “look there is a bare spot”
Me – “where, I thought we found enough to look pretty good”
Lars – “right here” lol
Me – eye roll and laugh, I do love a good bad joke.
I’m glad the major projects are winding down and the decorations are all up (rather than in totes around the house waiting) so the house can get back to a mostly clean status. I was reluctant to put up the tree given the ornament situation and that we are always away for actual Christmas. However, all three kids have remarked on how much they love it and how magical it is that I’m glad we did it. One bonus to not having our decorations – we had to go get new lights and we finally found a solution to our White v Color lights situation. Target had lights that are BOTH! and also LED so I don’t feel bad leaving them on for maximum magical moments. Even being woken up by a 2am nosebleed is more magical when gently lit by a Christmas tree.
This is my last full week in MN for the year – next week is my birthday and then we take off for the holiday to return sometime near newyears (not totally planned). I hope to do the gift rationalization where I go investigate my hidden stashes and see what I need to finish up. That is my plan for the rest of today before kid time, just wanted to hop online to see how the blog world is doing.
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