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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Card Holders

Last year I saw this great idea on Emily's blog to hold all those great Christmas photos/cards that come in December.  I decided to make it for myself this year.

I put it up last week and decorated it with Thanskgiving photos from years past and upcoming party invitations.  Now though, it's ready for Christmas cards!

I usually use a Christmas basket to hold all of our cards, but then you can't see them.  I've tried other card holders but they never seemed to work well and the cards end up on the floor.  I like the idea of being able to switch them up and having something a little different.

I followed Emily's directions.  I bought two long metal (not aluminum) strips at Lowe's for $4 each.  The first set I covered with Mod Podge and scrapbook paper.  I made a mess of it because the Mod Podge stuck to the newspaper underneath.  I had a mess on my hands but I'm sure it would have been cute like Emily's if I had used wax paper underneath instead of newspaper.

So I ripped it all off and went with paint - so fast - and free because I had it on hand.

I then adhered the metal bars to the wall with 3M adhesives that will come off when I take down the card holders after the holidays.
David wasn't sure they'd hold the metal strips up, but Emily assured me they would and they did!  I used 4, and while you can see them in my photos, they'll soon be covered up by Christmas cards.

I went with plain white magnets (you don't need strong magnets for this project) to complement the green and red card holders.

And voila!  I think it's going to work great!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho

We have some real math maniacs in this house.
I saw a cute sign like this one in a Hallmark store last year and thought of them.
I almost bought it despite the $22.95 price tag.  That seemed awfully steep.

So I made this for the cost of a canvas ($2 on sale at Hobby Lobby) and materials I had on hand - paint, rub-on letters, and a white paint marker.

The boys really love it :)

The Christmas Season

My new banner at the top of the blog (for those who read in a reader or on email).  We're praying that we get to spend Christmas with my grandmother who's still doing OK.  She'll be 99 on Tuesday.  Love these photos of the boys.  Last year's crafts, this year's crafts, and a good supply of hot cocoa on hand, of course.

It's always strange for me to see Christmas decorations up before Halloween.  It just seems weird.  But once November 1st hits, to me it's fine.  I am getting into my gift-buying mode then, I'm starting to think about taking Christmas card pictures, and we start thinking through our Mississippi travel plans for the holiday. 

We always give Thanksgiving it's due, but to me November 1st - December 31st is "The Holidays".

If I were to wait until TODAY to start thinking about the Christmas season (and the responsibilities and chaos it brings), it would not be a joyous occasion.  I need November and December to think about parties/dinners/open houses, gifts (lots of family birthdays during this time as well), Christmas cards, school celebrations, church celebrations, decorating and travel.

So, I am thankful that we had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with friends yesterday. 

And, I'm thankful as well for the rest of this Thanksgiving weekend.  We will enjoy the Christmas season soooo much better because I'll spend the rest of this weekend taking down the Fall and putting up the Christmas, finishing up the Christmas cards so they're ready to go in a few weeks, and continuing our holiday baking.  A wonderful time to spend with the family indoors preparing for the weeks ahead. 

And a two month "Holiday Season" just works for me!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tangled: Count Up to 50th Animated Motion Picture

We're not huge Disney people.  We like the movies just fine but the boys have never wanted to go to Disney World and they rarely watch Disney Channel.  I don't think I've seen half of the movies on this list.  But, we thought this was really fun to watch and it made us want to put some of these titles on our Netflix queue!

Two Peas in a Pod

Brennan's first day wearing his new glasses. 
Dad picked the boys up from school - what a treat!
Brennan just said "I have a logic problem to show you.  I think it's like Boolean Algebra."

Christmas Cookies 2010 - Lace Cookies

Before I start on Thanskgiving cooking and then clean my kitchen well for tomorrow, I decided to go ahead and make a couple of batches of cookies to freeze for Christmas cookie platters that we'll be sharing with friends in a few weeks.

First up, I decided to try a couple of Lace Cookie recipes.  The "lace" comes from the fact that as they spread out and cook they get little "lace-like" holes in them. They're fragile and crispy.  I got both of these recipes from Mississippi Magazine.  These were easy recipes and the cookies freeze well so they're great for doing ahead of time.

First up - "Drop-and-Bake Lace Cookies" (see recipes below)

I dissolved two kinds of sugar over high heat.

Then added in dry ingredients and finely chopped pecans.

After baking for 8 minutes, they're ready to cool.  The boys loved these cookies.  I should have doubled the recipe!

Next up were "Oatmeal Lace Cookies".   

Here's the mix - no cooking needed.

The recipe recommended measuring out 1/2 tsp cookies onto a baking sheet.  To me, these cookies were too small. 

So the remaining batches I did by the tablespoon-full and they were better. 

If you have the patience you can take the half-way-cooled cookies and wrap them around the handle of a wooden spoon and then fill the cookie, canoli-style, with different flavors of frosting.  I just went with the flat cookie.  I figured they'd be less fragile to store in the freezer.

Can't wait for the boys to get home from school and let me know what they thought of this version of the Lace Cookie.  Knowing them, these versions will be a hit!

Drop-and-Bake Lace Cookies
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c light brown sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/3 c very finely chopped pecans
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
**Yield 3 dozen cookies

Combine butter, sugars, and cream in a saucepan and boil for about 1 minute to dissolve the sugars.  Remove from heat and stir in the pecans, flour, and salt.  Drop teaspoonfuls of the warm batter onto parchment or silicone lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
2 tsps vanilla
frosting to fill cookies if wrapping around a wooden spoon
**Yield 3 dozen cookies

Combine flour, baking powder, and sugar.  Add oats, cream, syrup, butter, and vanilla.  Mix well.  Drop onto buttered/foil-lined (I used silicone instead) baking sheets.  Bake 6-8 minutes at 375.  If wrapping half-cooled cookies around a wooden spoon, be sure it is well sprayed with Pam.  Cook on a wire rack.


Turkeys on Strike

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving every year is "Drama Days" in the program that Thomas is in at school.  I think it's one of the main reasons he likes the academic challenge program so well - the chance to do a lot of creative projects like this one.  The students perform in two plays.  Thomas played a turkey and a football player this year in "Turkeys on Strike". 

One of Thomas's classmates wrote the second play, "Once Upon a Time", and all of the songs in the play.  The kids were really excited to help her out with the play.  I heard a lot about it over the last few weeks.

I got to help out with running lines in the classroom and with yesterday's surprise Cast Party during lunchtime.  Here are a couple of photos from the final dress rehearsal on Monday.

(so cute to see T in a football jersey!) 

David took off today and attended the big performance.  We agreed Thomas did a great job!


super fun new toy, borrowed from a friend

Monday, November 22, 2010

Initial Frame Ornaments

I saw this cute project at Jane's blog and thought I'd try it out.  I was mailing packages to my mom and mother-in-law and thought I'd tuck them in for an early Christmas treat.

I started with Dollar Store frames.  In one set of frames I used push pins in the corners to hold the ornament ribbon.

A drop of hot glue on the underside of the push pins holds the ribbon securely.

The other set of frames was metal so I tucked a ribbon in the holder since push pins wouldn't go in.

I got these chipboard letters and painted them green.  These are cool letters.  It never occurred to me to paint thin cardboard, but it worked beautifully!  I used about 1/100th of the letters in this $10 pack.

I put a piece of red scrapbook paper in the frame and dabbed a little glue on the letters to hold them in place and popped the frames back together.  Easy!

I made one set for each Grandma with their grandchildrens' initials.  I think they'll like them :)

Frames - $1 each
Letters - $10 for about 400
Scrapbook paper, glue, paint, push pins and ribbon - all on hand (free!)

One of My Favorite People on Oprah

Phillip Woods is from our town and he is an extraordinary person.  His grandson is in Thomas's class and we're privileged to know some of his family, some of whom are our neighbors.

In order to encourage Americans to get active, Phil walked 2,500 miles (Wisconsin to Key West, FL) this year.  With his wife Carole driving along side and acting as nurse, I followed his journey through Facebook and updates from his family.

Phil was on today's Oprah show.  He was there for the surprise "Favorite Things Part 2" event, having received tickets because he was nominated as An American Hero.  He came away with some fantastic gifts.  He especially enjoyed hearing Johnny Mathes sing live.  I just watched the TiVo'd show - and I think I glimpsed Phil a couple of times among the chaos!

Here's Phil crossing the finish line on October 16th in Key West.

And here are Phil's thoughts at the end of his experience:

"Words cannot express the appreciation and fulfillment I have from all the people who have supported me and embraced my effort to tell America to “Get Active”.

When my thought processes began for this 2,500 mile endeavor and what it might bring, I could only imagine the kind of participation I might get and how it might it end. Would anyone hear me, would anyone care to listen to what I had to say? Would I be able to motivate anyone to action like I was hoping? Would my call to action spread from one person to another and actually become a movement of people bettering themselves and bettering their communities? Will any success I have continue beyond the end of my walk?

Now, on the other side of 2,500 miles and the realization of my goal; my mission for America has also been achieved, thanks to all of you: my friends and family and all the acquaintances I have met along the way.

The celebration to highlight the end of my journey was a beautiful event and one I will never forget. On Saturday, October 16th, at 4:00pm we gathered together at the Westin in Key West, a mile away from the southernmost point of the United States, ready to begin the final steps. As we were waiting, I received a phone call from a long time close friend, Gene Hull, who, although he was unable to make the trip, was going to be walking a simultaneous final mile at the very same time as us only 1,100 miles north. How cool was that thought!?

We began the walk with Carole and me leading the way. The weather could not have been more perfect for our walk. Though the sun was shining, Whitehead Street on which we traveled was lined with gorgeous trees creating shade for us. The temperature was mild and the breeze ideal. As we made our way down the Street, I enjoyed falling back and talking with my fellow walkers and letting them know how much it meant to me for them to be a part of this very special event in my life. As we approached the iconic buoy marking the end of the journey, the walkers parted in to two lines on each side of the sidewalk to make a path revealing two of my grandchildren holding a banner through which Carole and I ran, hands held high while the people cheered and chanted “Walk With Woods”. How exhilarating!

We spent some time and had a ton of fun waiting our turn getting pictures taken next to the buoy. Then we headed to the historic Southernmost House to celebrate the occasion.

Our celebration began with the Key West Mayor Craig Cates reading a proclamation making October 16th, 2010 Phil Woods Day in Key West. I never cease to be flattered by these declarations.

Thank you to all those people who think me worthy of the honor.

The kids pinned a nurse’s cap on Carole and presented her with a birthday cake and well wishes for her upcoming big birthday on Wednesday. We all joined in singing Happy Birthday.

Then a surprise happened that left me speechless. Jay Goad, from Cummins MidAmerica, representing my friends from the North American Distribution of Cummins Engine Company, came forward with all my distributor friends who were in Key West and presented me with a dramatic oversized check to Hospice of South Central Indiana for $5,000 given in my honor. I am so humbled by their thoughtfulness I don’t know what to say. Not only are these the best people in the world to work with as business partners, but they make even better friends. You will always hold a special place in my heart, gentlemen.

Next, the president of the Key West Southernmost Runners Club; Susan Kochan, pronounced me an honorary member of the club. Once again, I feel privileged to receive such an honor and am proud to be considered part of their club.

As the finale to the ceremony, I did get the opportunity to take the microphone to give a little reflection on mine and Carole’s journey and to convey my appreciation and gratitude to all those who participated in any way toward the success of this enormous vision of mine.

In the end, it appears the answer to the questions I had before I began, is Yes. People did hear me and listen to what I had to say. People did let me know they had been inspired to action by my crossing their path. Their motivation did spread from one to another as they shared stories with me about how they got their family and friends inspired, too. From that inspiration, it is my hope the momentum continues to grow beyond the end of my walk in to a movement and each small act of kindness reveals itself through improvements in each of our communities.

Though I have ended my walk, I will never stop striving for a better America. I will continue to talk to everyone I meet about getting active toward being the best person they can be, about doing an act of kindness each and every day and about contributing in positive, active ways toward bettering their communities. If we all do that, then we HAVE achieved a better America.

And, before I depart their company, I will leave them with my mantra:

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

I did."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

David and I teach the 5th and 6th grade Sunday School class at our church, along with 2 other couples. 

We chose Operation Christmas Child as our mission project this year.  We all met last night to fill wrapped shoe boxes with donated items to be shipped around the world to children who might not get to celebrate Christmas otherwise. 

The church members were so generous with their donations.  We filled 25 boxes and still have plenty of leftovers to take to Turning Point (our local domestic violence shelter) and the Cheer Fund (the fire stations' toy drive). 

Some of our class as we kicked off the project a few weeks ago

Organizing our donations

We had lots of great help!

This was such a great project and the kids did such a wonderful job securing donations and wrapping the boxes.  We're so proud of them!

Harry Potter 7

We had a great time with our friend Nathan at the Harry Potter 7 Part 1 movie this afternoon!
Awesome to see so many families we knew at the theater.
We got there early and joined in all the fun and then got great seats.
Now I hate to have to wait until July for Part 2!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Hostess Gift

Here is a great Hostess Gift if you are going to get togethers this holiday season.

Target has great Paperwhite gift sets for only $4.99.

I bought one for myself as well and it's been growing strong over the last 10 days.

The galvanized flower pot, soil and bulbs come in the package, along with instructions.
You start out keeping the flowers in a cool, dark place until the roots take hold. 
I've had ours in the master bath and I think it's ready to move into the kitchen now.

Friends that I've given it to really enjoy it.  And paperwhites smell so wonderful during their holiday blooming period!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The boys are on our local swim team this year. 
Brennan's loving it.  Thomas is going.
These are their Swim Team photos and they were so proud!

We had a swim club party before Halloween.  Brennan go to go off the high dive again. and again. and again. and again. and again.  He LOVES it.

Who Looks Like His Daddy?

We found out today that Brennan is getting glasses. 
We tried on a bunch of pairs at the optometrist's office. 
These are the ones we chose. 
He looks so handsome!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Renee!

Senior Annual Signing Night, Pearl City Hawaii, May 1988

Happy Birthday to one of the sweetest girls I know. 
We've been friends since we were juniors in High School. 

We have big birthdays coming up this year.  Renee's husband Mike took her to Florida for her birthday weekend.  They went horseback riding on the beach.  Renee wasn't so sure horses and water mixed!  I can't wait to hear all about it!

Happy, Happy Birthday, Renee!