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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Decorating for the Worn Out and Weary

Believe it or not, some of us genuinely love the holiday season, even if we aren't up for the crafting blitzes and marathon-style decorating sessions that come with it. However, leaving our home unadorned can feel a little bah-humbug. Luckily, we've found 10 ideas that can bring a little holiday cheer into your space without much effort.

Go Big ~ It doesn't matter how many lights the neighbors have illuminating their home. Save on the electrical bill and still get in the spirit of the season with these oversize outdoor Christmas ornaments. SHOP NOW: Outdoor Christmas ornaments, $60,

Fir Sure ~ Hang this ornament anywhere in your home to get that nostalgic holiday smell, without having to gather and assemble a potpourri of freshly cut pine, berries and pinecones.SHOP NOW: Frasier Fir Botanical Ornament, $12,

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Decide Ahead of Time To Be Thankful

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’d be happy if...” ~ “my friends, family or spouse treated me better.”, “my boss moved to another planet.”, “if I didn’t have to sit in traffic every day.” If we are thinking these thoughts, then we are allowing what we can’t control, to sour our life. We have to change our approach to the negative things in life ~ or the things we think are negative.

Before we ever even step foot out of bed each morning, we need to make a decision that no matter what comes our way, we are not going to get upset.  Rather we are going to give thanks for everything, even the bumps in the road.  Those bumps are just than, bumps and bumps can be smoothed! 

We need to decide that no matter what somebody says, we’re not going to be offended. No matter what interruption or delay, we’re not going to be sour. The key is to decide ahead of time, then when life happens, when traffic is worse than normal, when our children forget their homework at school.home, or when our plans don’t work out, it’s no big deal ~ we’ve already decided that “this is the day the Lord has made, I'm going to rejoice and be glad in it!”

We can’t wait until we’re in the heat of the battle, we need to make up our mind before life happens to rejoice no matter what situation comes our way. Let's make a conscience effort to decide ahead of time to give Him praise and thanksgiving in all things so we can move forward in the joy and peace that He has prepared for each one us!

Father, today I choose to rejoice in You. In all things, at all times, in every circumstance I will praise and thank You. I release what I cannot control. I submit myself to You and thank You for the victory in every area of my life in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

DIY Christmas Decorations

Festive centerpiece
Branch out from conventional tablescapes by using an extra-long tree limb as a platform for displaying ornaments. Simply knot lengths of twine around the branch and hang it from a row of five or six ceiling hooks.(Silver and green ornaments, from $23.75 for 12; for stores. Cultural Intrigue ornament in bronze, from $4; Chairs, $275 each; Martha Stewart collection glasses, $36 for four;

These simple gift tags, which cost less than a dollar each, take center stage when hung in vintage cages. The paper doves also look lovely dangling from chandeliers or even doorknobs. (Tags, $9.95 for 12; Birdcages, from $10 each;

Bird-themed tree
The shining star of this avian-themed tree? An egg-filled nest perched at the top.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Crazy Life ~ Up in Smoke, My QUIT Story

What an anniversary ~ 1 year without a cigarette! YAY for me and this is how this journey came about....

I LOVED to smoke, crazy I know, but it was my comfort, my best friend, my life line and it's so sad to admit!

Last September after having a cough since July, that wouldn't go away on it's own or with meds (I had pneumonia and/or bronchitis at 2-3 times per year so meds were always in my diet), the doctor sent me to a pulmonologist ~ the lung doctor in laymen terms. That in and of itself just sounds scary! She was STUNNED that since my mother is a 8 year lung cancer survivor and NEVER smoked a day in her life, that someone such as myself with that kind of history was sitting on her table.

I was told that this was it, COPD was beginning to creep in at the age of 39 and if I didn't quit ~ and quit for good this time ~ I would be carrying an oxygen tank by 42. Okay then, that was it, enough said ~ somehow I had to find a way to lay those darn things down and I knew just where to turn, my praying momma!

Believe me, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer I tried quit. I did Chantix and it worked but made me so sick I stopped taking it and with 6 months was smoking again =( You may also be thinking I surely quit when I was pregnant with my 3 beautiful babies and unfortunately the answer to that is YES I quit with the first one (we do everything right the first time....right), I started again after a month of giving birth and then became pregnant with my 2nd 3 years later.  I "cut back" without quitting altogether like I did the first time and then 5 years later with I became pregnant the 3rd time, I smoked off and on but not like I did in the previous pregnancy. So SHAME ON ME, I didn't ever really quit the nasty habit even then! Why you ask, because I was so scared of gaining, or rather, not taking off the baby weight.

You see 22 years ago at the prime of my battle with eating disorders (story at a later time ~ it's a lengthy one) some crazy person told me that smoking would curb my appetite and rev up my metabolism, so I choked them down and before long was 100% addicted. I so wish some other crazy person would have told me to "just NOT do it" instead.......this was the hardest fight of my life to date, the battle of quitting!

So in September of last year I left the pulmonologist office with a prescription for Chantix and started this battle again! I called my mom, my prayer warrior, and simply said "I know I can't quit, we have prayed again and again, year after year for God to give me the will power to quit and I just don't have it". "We have to start praying that I will just literally wake up one day and not remember ever smoking." At that point I think I was put on every prayer chain she knew of.

I started Chantix in October and within a few weeks I was so sick, I even had students asking me if I was pregnant! HECK no, I wasn't pregnant but I sure had morning sickness like I was! I had to stop the meds and keep praying.....keep believing my miracle was coming!

Thanksgiving weekend last year, must have been the last time I had a cigarette.....that sounds strange doesn't it? I say "must have been" because I don't really remember smoking a "last" cigarette. All I remember is looking at my husband one day and saying "I don't think I have smoked a cigarette in a few days", and there was still a pack of cigarettes in the drawer with only a few missing.

A few weeks go by and they were still in the drawer with the same amount missing. "This is REAL" I tell my mom and husband,"I don't remember smoking and quite frankly can't believe I ever did that ~ it smells awful!!"......

I finally threw away that pack of cigarettes late this spring ~ I kept them as a reminder, to me and everyone, of what MY GOD can do!  Please know that what He did for me He can do for you too! We have to have faith, faith as little as a mustard seed. I knew that I could NOT do this on my own, I had tried for 9 years! I knew that the only way I would quit and never go back was for God to perform a miracle within me!

Scripture tells us in Matthew 17:19-21…Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,"Why could we not drive it out?" And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. "But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

To date, I haven't had a cough, I haven't even been to the doctor for an illness since that appointment with the pulmonologist over a year ago AND I can sleep on my back without gagging for the  first time since I was 20 ~ PRAISE GOD and to God be all the Glory! (I also said I would never be a 20 year smoker ~ well that came and went, with my new goal to be quit by age 40.)

God knows our dreams, desires and needs ~ I had laid those cigarettes down 3 months before my 40th birthday.......I still weigh what I weighed at the time of that doctor visit too (so that part of my past is truly still in my past).......if that wasn't God at work =}......    

Thank you Lord God for your word, your truth and your life. Thank you for delivering me from the enemy that held me captive and for giving me an opportunity to share your miracle working power through this testimony. I pray Lord, that if anyone is reading this that they too will be delivered from the power of cigarettes, that they will be able to lay them at your feet, turn from them and focus on you instead of their addiction. It is through you that we have our strength, in you and you alone! In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Don't Get All Frenzied Out Over Black Friday ~ Make These Quick and Easy Handmade Gifts for Teachers, Staff, Etc. and AVOID The Crowds

Teatime Gift
Dress up a mug by gluing a scrapbooking border just below the rim. Set the sugar-cube-filled mug on a small plate and add a tea ball and lidded clear tubes filled with loose-leaf teas. Identify the teas on computer-typed labels.

Decorated Treat Jar
Trace around a jar lid on paper; cut out. Glue the paper circle to the lid. Cut a piece of ribbon to fit around the center of the jar, and glue it to the jar. Fill the jar with goodies and finish with an ornament and ribbon attached to the lid if desired.

Cookies in a Colander
Nestle cookies inside a classic colander, wrap with ribbon, and personalize with a handwritten note on a round tag.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas

Get Inspired by the Season
Who says casual, kid-friendly centerpieces should be relegated to the kid table? This feathered friend is sweet and charming enough for a seat of honor at the big-kid table. To create, have every guest write their thanks on a piece of construction paper, cut, crease, and fringe to resemble a tail feather. Tuck each feather into an oversize pinecone. Make the turkey's head and neck from pieces of paperboard cut in oval shapes; add googly eyes and a beak and wattle. Elevate by stacking on top of several boxes or baskets. To complete the rustic look, surround with gourds and use a kraft paper runner.

Hang Painted Acorns
Contrasting colors and interesting textures add visual variety to this outdoor-inspired centerpiece. Select a few acorns; carefully remove the tops and set aside. Spray-paint the seeds a bright color, let dry, and reattach the tops with a bit of hot glue. Secure a twine loop to the top with more hot glue and hang from an intricate branch (suspended in a pretty vase). Place the vase off-center in a tray and add more acorns and a complementary bowl to complete the vignette.

Use "Thanks" as a Centerpiece
There's a clever way to remind you and your family of the true reason for the season -- and create a centerpiece in the process, too. Each day of November, have family members write something they are thankful for on a leaf shape, cut from multicolored construction paper (search the Internet for copyright-free art). Punch a hole in the top of each leaf and use string or twine to tie from a branch. You can paint the top of the branch white or leave it natural. Prop the branch in a tall vase filled with acorns, nuts, or small rocks.

Friday, November 15, 2013

DIY Gifts ~ Cute Crafts Projects to Make as Christmas Gifts

Get ready to pile handmade gifts under the tree. Whether you're giving a Christmas themed gift or something they can enjoy year round, jump start your holiday crafts with these cute ideas.

Decorative Tea Towels
Add pizzazz to plain tea towels for a heartfelt and practical Christmas gift. Simply cut trims (ribbons, ruffles, etc.) slightly longer than the width of the towel, then topstitch the strips in place.
Perfect For: A domestic diva or your holiday party hostess.
How to Make It Say Christmas: Use holiday-theme trims or a color palette of red and green.

Zoo Animals Gift
Go a little wild with this Christmas gift you make yourself. Kids adore animals, and these silhouettes are a fun room addition they'll love through the toddler years. Cut animal silhouettes from plain white cardstock, and mount them on colorful patterned paper. Adhere each paper to a white mat board cut to fit a frame. Insert silhouette in the frame, and tie a ribbon around the exterior.
Perfect For: The parents of a baby, toddler, or any zoo animal-lover.
How to Make It Say Christmas: Cut out reindeer, penguin, or polar bear silhouettes. Make bows from Christmas ribbon, or attach Christmas motifs to the frames.

Flannel Wine Sleeve
When the wrapping is this lovely, the wine tastes even better. Whether given alone or with your favorite vintage, these wine sleeves serve with style. Plus, they're eco-friendly! Made from the sleeves of flannel shirts, it takes only a few stitches to refresh them for their new use. Cut a section of flannel shirt sleeve to the desired length; turn under the ends. With a needle and embroidery thread, tack the edges in place using blanket or blind stitches. Trim the wraps with buttons or decorative embroidery stitches as desired.
Perfect For: A wine devotee, recycling enthusiast, or country-style buff.
How to Make It Say Christmas: Choose flannel in holiday red-and-green plaid, or look for sleeves sporting a holiday pattern. Top the bottle with holiday-hue ribbon. Add glasses with etched snowflakes or other winter motifs.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving Decorating Using Fall Finds

Fall Harvest Basket ~ Rimmed with pinecones and casuarina pods, this bentwood basket is ready to hold the fruits of your harvest. Golden pecan stain gives the inexpensive container a rich patina.

Simplicity Reigns ~ Dress up a side table for Thanksgiving with a simple arrangement of tall pheasant feathers in a ceramic urn. Surround with small gourds, pinecones, and loose feathers.

Elegant Acorns and Pearls ~ Add a touch of elegance to an autumn element using luminous pearls. Glue acorns to a crafts-foam wreath, placing the caps squarely on its surface. Mix whole acorns and acorn caps for a natural look. Hot-glue large pearl beads to some of the acorn caps to add pops of pearly white to the rich brown ring of nuts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Crazy Life ~ Eme's Christmas Room Reveal

So it took more time than I had anticipated to get her room finished and posted HOWEVER, I was working on several other rooms at the same time (I will post those as well later) while I waited on things to arrive to finish her room. Also because of our home being our town Holiday Homes Tour December 7th......Christmas decorations took precedence as I have 16 full size trees that needed to get up during this time as well! So here it is with her Christmas tree because, well I had to get them all up early so I can clean and paint before the 7th! I will post more pics of her room once the tree is taken down the first of year.

I can't even describe how much fun we had re-doing this room! Eme and I would look through catalogs, magazines, websites, and pinterest, then go around her "then" room as well as the house and look for things we could re-do and re-purpose! We both had a hand in crafting the items and we had to compromise a lot (I learned after her purple room that a young girl will not have the final say =}, I just wish her dad and brothers would learn this lesson as well)!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Its The Weekend ~ From Garage Sale Finds to Savvy Storage, There's A DIY For Every Room Of Your House

Handy Helpers
Put antique accessories to work as handy storage solutions in your bathroom. Here, an old ladder stands in as a space-saving towel rack and a large hutch provides display space for pretty soaps and accessories as well as plenty of storage for towels and bathroom necessities.

Party Organizer
For your next party buffet, corral silverware into fun containers. Sorted and stored in tin coffee cans, flatware is easy to grab as guests make their way through the buffet line.

Storage and Display
Repurpose a vintage cart as a side table for a living room or entryway. A cart like this can be used as a drink station when entertaining or when outfitted with baskets on the lower shelf, it can be used as a handy entryway organizer and hold seasonal gear, shoes, and more out-the-door essentials.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Too Cute Handmade Christmas Ornaments

Adorn your Christmas tree with these beautiful handmade Christmas ornaments. These easy to make ornaments will hang on your tree for generations, or you can wrap them up for personalized, homemade Christmas gifts.

Handmade Ornament Rosettes
Heavy scrapbook papers transform into Christmas ornaments to hang on the tree, on gifts, or a banister. Cut patterned cardstock into twelve 1x6-inch-long strips. Loop each strip in half, patterned side out. Glue the ends together. Punch two circles from solid cardstock and attach to the front and back center of the ornament. Add sticker letters and a twine hanging loop to finish.

Christmas Cookie Ornaments
Make the cookies of the season last longer by creating a few decorative versions from clay. Soft modeling clay works with your cookie cutters just like dough; use a straw to create a hanging hole and bake according to package directions. Paint subs for icing, but your favorite cookie-decorating essentials (such as sprinkles) work great as ornament embellishments. Note: If you use edible items, you should not keep the ornaments after the season.

Words as Ornaments
It's simple to create your own ornament message for the holiday tree (or a mantel or window). Choose chipboard letters that spell a word or message. Coat with glue and glitter, then string on hemp twine.

Monday, November 4, 2013

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes

Cowboy Beef - Chipotle peppers and chili beans give this pot roast recipe an irresistible Old West makeover, while canned vegetables help cut down on prep time. You'd never guess that this satisfying recipe is also healthy, too, coming in at less than 400 calories per serving.
2 2 1/2 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast
1 15 ounce can chili beans in chili gravy
1 11 ounce can whole kernel corn with sweet peppers, drained
1 10 ounce can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
1 2 teaspoons finely chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
Directions: 1. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Place meat in the cooker. In a medium bowl combine chili beans in gravy, corn, tomatoes and chiles, and chipotle pepper. Pour mixture over meat. 2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours. 3. Transfer meat to a cutting board. Slice meat; arrange in a shallow serving dish. Using a slotted spoon, spoon bean mixture over meat. Drizzle with enough of the cooking liquid to moisten.

Super Simple Peachy Barbecue Chicken - Think bold, saucy barbecue from your slow cooker is too good to be true? It's possible, and the finished product is irresistible. The barbecue sauce and apricot preserves infuse the chicken with flavor as it cooks, and a dash of yellow mustard adds a hint of spice.
2 1/2 - 3 pounds chicken drumsticks, skinned (if desired)
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup apricot or peach preserves
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
Fresh peaches, cut into wedges (optional)
Directions: 1. Place chicken in a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. For sauce, in a small bowl, stir together barbecue sauce, preserves, and mustard. Pour over chicken. 2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours. 3. Transfer chicken to a serving dish; cover and keep warm. Transfer sauce to a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until sauce is desired consistency. Serve chicken with sauce. If desired, garnish with fresh peaches.

10 Quick and Easy Holiday Decorating Ideas

Have a pair of boots you won't wear this winter? Dress them up with twigs, greens and ribbon for a welcoming display. To protect boots, line with plastic bags. Add weight with rocks to keep the boots from tipping. Insert twigs and small evergreen branches. Tie a bow around each boot, and drape an evergreen sprig down one side.

Sprigs of pine and berries dress up framed photos in the home's entry.

Spell out holiday greetings on tree containers that climb the stairs. We made paper letter ornaments for white ironstone pitchers and pots and planted a lacy Goldcrest cypress tree in each.