Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Usually for my Thankful Thursday posts, I answer the following questions in regard to what surprised me, moved me, and inspired me on a weekly basis. However, because it's the end of the year and I'm feeling a bit reflective I'm going to answer these questions with a larger perspective in mind.

What surprised me this year?
Our family grew by leaps and bounds in 2009. We added three more individuals to our ranks -- two grandchildren and one son-in-law. What always surprises me in these instances is how quickly each individual assimilates into the family and how natural each addition feels. (I don't very often post photos of my family, but here's the latest photo of our expanding family taken in August at my daughter's wedding...)

What inspired me this year?
I have received inspiration through many sources over the years, but I think what makes this year different in that regard is the inspiration I've received from my many blogging friends. It's a wonderful thing when authors of blogs can exchange ideas, establish resources, fire imaginations and create thoughtful, thought-provoking exchanges with those who would normally be outside their sphere of influence. My blogging friends have inspired me often this year!

What moved me this year?

There are several references in the scriptures to the "tender mercies of the Lord." I have come to realize that these "tender mercies" are the very personal and individualized blessings and ministrations which we receive from and through the Savior. Some are poignant and obvious blessings of protection or healing, while others come in a more subtle, quiet form as inspiration, support or confirmation. More often than not these heavenly mercies arrive when I least expect such an affirmation, so the impulse is to label them as mere coincidence or luck or good fortune. When I do recognize the source of these ministrations, I realize how wonderful it feels to be blessed, watched over, supported, and protected by Him, and I realize, once again, that He is mindful of me and aware of my needs. And I feel loved. I am moved by the many tender mercies my family has received this year.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

This beautiful original music and video by Shawna Belt Edwards, with artwork permissioned by Liz Lemon Swindle, Joseph Brickey and Mark Mabry will put you in the Christmas spirit.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.
(Click on the video below and go directly to You Tube for the download.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Been busy...

This is such a busy time year. I hardly have time to look at my favorite blogs, let alone write a post of my own. The last few days have been busier than most, thanks to a little granddaughter of mine. Several weeks ago her mother called to ask if I could "play Santa" this year. She wanted to write Santa a letter and her mother was wondering if I (aka "Santa") might be able to answer it. I enthusiastically agreed! A few days ago when I received her letter, I realized it might have been better if I'd considered all the ramifications...

Avery is a precocious little thing and a prolific writer, as was demonstrated by her letter to Santa...

She started out with the usual greeting and then went on to ask 20, yes 20 (I counted), questions for Santa. They were perceptive and thoughtful questions, such as...

"Which reindeer is your favorite?"

"What is your favorite elf's name?"

"Do you have lots of friends?"

"Do you like doggies?"
(This was a good opportunity for Santa to petition Avery to quit
carrying around her cat, Cosmo, by the neck.)

"Who gives you Christmas presents?"

"Do you like your job?"

"Do the reindeer get along?"

And finally, "Are the elves fun to play with?"

It took me three pages to answer five questions. "Santa" may need to publish a Volume 2 and 3 later in the year just to satisfy her curiosity.

I took advantage of the situation and added a few words of advice from "Santa", like "Always remember to be kind to your little sister..." (Her parents owe me for that one.)

I learned early on in my parenting that Santa's admonitions carry big weight with children. As a young mother throughout the month of December, I hourly belted out "You better watch out... You better not cry..." when my kids were young. It worked like a charm. Every. Time.

I have to admit, with all the busyness going on this time of year, it was so fun to sit down, relax, chuckle and respond to a little girl's questions and wish-list for Christmas. It was my favorite moment so far this season.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box...

I have two examples of "thinking outside the box" that I'd like to share with you...

Some traditions in our family are meant to be kept, like putting on a nativity play every Christmas Eve and sharing spiritual thoughts about the Savior, but it's fun to see other traditions evolve and adapt to family circumstance and change. You might know that my husband and I have seven children, but our family has grown in the last seven years to include five more children (in-law) and seven grandchildren. Several years ago after buying the many items to fill stockings for our children and children-in-law that were going to be with us that Christmas, I saw the writing on the wall. That year I had spent way too much money on too many little items of little significance or consequence to fill umpteen stockings! I realized with each passing year and the addition of more children-in-law on a regular bases, this tradition of filling Christmas stockings for our children needed to be revamped. The next year I decided to use the money I would spend on many insignificant little stocking stuffers for each stocking (those little gifts add up!) to buy one meaningful gift. I bought just enough presents for each of the adult children that was going to be at our home that Christmas Eve. After the nativity play and spiritual thoughts that Christmas Eve and after grandkids were nestled in their beds, our children and children-in-law gathered in our family room for this new tradition. It has become one of our all-time favorite Christmas traditions.

We run this tradition much like a "white - elephant" game. As I said, my husband and I buy one nice present for each of the children there that evening. Then we draw numbers and the person who picks #1, chooses a present and unwraps it. Then the person who draws #2, can either pick the present that #1 opened or choose another from the pile. Each gift can only be traded three times. This goes on until the last person is finished, and then #1 gets one last chance to keep the gift he has or choose one from another person in the room. These gifts are really fun to buy because you can get very creative. We have had massaging pillows, restaurant and movie tickets, cash (wrapped so no one can tell just how much money is really there), best selling books, redeemable airline points for tickets, and many more fun, creative expressions of love! Every member in our family has the "competitive" gene, so this activity ends up being filled with laughter and fun! (Last year we had to instigate a new rule that no "alliances" could be formed before or during the game.) The moral of this story is that sometimes it's good to "think outside the box" when you revamp an old Christmas tradition into something more suitable for your current time and place.

Here's another example ... Yesterday I decoupaged a couple of boxes for this year's "white elephant" tradition. I have a few gift cards that needed a cute place to reside, so I whipped up some more colorful boxes. I love the traditional colors of red and green for Christmas, but this year I'm using lime green and bright red to wrap presents in, so I bought some scrapbooking paper to reflect those colors for these decoupaged boxes. I made some traditional looking boxes a couple of weeks ago, but I thought you might like to see a different twist on these paper mache decoupaged boxes. (Click here for instructions.) It's my second example of "thinking outside the box!"

Happy Holidays!
Brrrrr. It's so cold in Colorado.
Last night it was -20 degrees with the wind chill.
Try to keep warm wherever you are!

I've linked to "Show & Tell" at Blue Cricket Design.
Check it out to see more creative posts!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Be Still...

I love Christmastime. I look forward to the purchasing of presents, the decorations, Christmas trees, delicious sweets, parties, and all the merriment that this season has to offer. Although these things can be beautiful, sometimes I allow these festivities to clutter my mind and compete for my attention and the true meaning of Christmas gets buried beneath the glitter and the glam.
And I almost forget. What should be a holy season filled with peace and love, goodness and service, gratitude and remembrance, worship and reflection becomes a hectic scramble of presents and decorations that almost eclipses the real meaning of our celebration. Almost. Fortunately, in still, quiet moments clarity prevails and I catch a glimpse of the Christ child. No wonder He said, "Be still, and know that I am God." In stillness comes understanding, inspiration and peace. This morning I watched this video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...

(This video is produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is entitled "The Nativity," but the audio has been removed and replaced with a recording of Amy Grant's "Breathe of Heaven.")

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Framed Ornaments...

When people use the term "framed ornaments", they are usually referring to Christmas tree ornaments that are miniature picture frames you can hang on your Christmas tree. Here are some "framed ornaments" with a twist. This is a way to create a seasonal decoration with items you may already have on hand. I generally have a few extra Christmas ornaments in my boxes, or I can always put aside a few that I usually reserve for the tree. In any case, you start with a few ornaments...

Next, grab some Christmas ribbon (or jute) and string the ornaments onto the ribbon. Tie a bow in the ribbon and hang it from a little nail on your wall. Then grab a picture frame and "frame" the ornaments by surrounding the ornaments and hanging the frame to the wall.

That's it! Could it be any easier?

I'm linking to "Transformation Thursday" @ The Shabby Chic Cottage. Head on over to see more creative designs.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Repurposed Centerpiece

Last month I created a centerpiece with a wooden tray, a floral urn, and a large candle for my Thanksgiving dining room table. I loved the size and shape of that piece, so for Christmas I wanted to repurpose some of those same items and create a decoration for our living room table.

I started with the same darkly stained wooden tray...

and the flower urn that I used for the Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Then, I bought an inexpensive glass hurricane-style candle holder at Hobby Lobby, kind of like this one, for half off...cause I'm cheap. And smart.

I filled up the urn with some polished river rocks I keep around the house. I wanted those rocks to help "secure" the hurricane and boost it up a bit. Then I "planted" the hurricane and filled the edges with moss. Next, I added a little greenery and berries around the base of the urn...

Then, and this was the tricky part, I made it snow. Right into that hurricane lamp. Don't ask me how. It's a trade secret.

And I plopped some bright, red Christmas balls right in the middle of that snow...

And that, my friends, is how this repurposed centerpiece came to be.

Today I'm linking to "Show & Tell" at Blue Cricket Designs.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Quick, Easy & Affordable

Here's a quick and easy gift idea to give to friends, neighbors and loved ones this Christmas season. It would be a cute present tucked into a gift basket with a variety of goodies as a pre-Christmas gift, but I think in the spirit of "less is more" this little gift could stand alone! Here are the specifics:

6 3/4" Square Wooden Plaque @ Hobby Lobby: $.89 w/40% off coupon
Acrylic Craft Paint or American Accents Spray Paint: approx. $.10
Modge Podge: approx. $.20
Scrapbooking Paper: $.20
Also, collect the following items:
distress/brown ink pad
paper cutter (optional)

Paint your plaque with acrylic craft paint or spray it with American Accents Rust-oleum spray paint. As the paint dries print the "saying" onto a piece of scrapbook paper that coordinates with your paint. Trim the saying to the correct size of your plaque and distress the edges with an ink pad. After the plaque has dried, Modge Podge the front of your plaque and the back of your scrapbook paper and apply the paper to the front of the plaque. After the glue has dried use sandpaper to rough up the edges of the plaque and the paper, then go over those edges with a distressing ink pad, brown shoe polish, brown acrylic paint, or whatever else you have to make them look a little distressed and more "vintage." Finally, liberally apply a finish coat of the Modge Podge over the entire front of the plaque to give it texture and sheen. For under $1.50 you have a cute, meaningful plaque to give a friend or neighbor. (You can't buy a bag of chocolate chips for that!)

FYI: My computer savvy son created the lettering for the plaque and I have it in a word document. If any of you are interested in making one of these, just email me (my email address is on the sidebar of this blog), and I will be happy to send you the saying as an attachment in an email.

Today I'm linking to "Toot Your Horn Tuesday" @ A Silly Little Sparrow.
Check out the ideas at "Get Your Craft On" at Today's Creative Blog.
Also, "Show & Tell" at Blue Cricket Design.