Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Christmastime is here...happiness and cheer..."

Okay. I'm late. Those who know me will not be surprised by this. I was understandably detained though! I woke up yesterday with a fever of 100.4 and general grossy-achiness so I mostly slept. All day. I missed the Nativity Exhibit concert, which makes me the worst wife ever because hubs was there singing his little heart out. I felt terrible. So blogging didn't happen.

BUT! I did get some pics of our decor today, so hopefully this will give you an idea of what the Country House is looking like now!

THIS I am super in love with. Way cute. It's a vintage apron that I got at the Antique Festival this past June with THE most gorgeous cut-work embroidery I think I've ever seen. It's gorgeous and I fell in love with it. So now it's a curtain over my window.

For some added cuteness, I added the cutesy cookie cutters that I got at an estate sale this past March and tied them together with baking twine. Love. It. They're rusty and well-loved, which makes my heart glad.

This is another vintage apron, this time from Etsy. It's red and the same aqua as the other apron, which are the colors that I'm hoping to do the kitchen in. Eventually all of the windows in the morning room will have adorable little aprons hanging cheerfully over them.

p.s. this was the view from my front windows yesterday. Could you just DIE?! I love it!!! I was blown away by how pretty it was!!! Look at that sky!!

This is my fab new-to-me sparkly white Christmas tree. It is 6' tall and gorgeous. Someday, it will festooned with all kinds of beautiful pink gorgeousness, but for now, it only has a few little pink treasures. It's not hubs' favorite, so it's in my craft room where I can drool over it and squee at it to my heart's content.

For some reason, the tree looks lean-y in this picture. I promise, it doesn't lean. I don't know why it looks that way...I straightened the very top bough a little bit because that was definitely crooked, but the rest of it is straight straight! Hm.

My FAVORITE pink ornament that I have. It's from Bronner's and it's pink and sparkly and beautiful. I love it. You can't really tell in this picture, but the tree itself actually has tinsel IN the branches! actually sparkles. This pleases me. It's prelit with white lights too, which on this tree, I love. Normally I'm more of a multi-colored lights kinda gal, but on this one? Love.

Pink/magenta fabric for the skirt. This is fabric that my bestie gave me that she decided she didn't want and I LURVED it. I haven't found the right project for it yet, so for now it's a tree skirt for my delicious pink and white tree. Fabulous.

Little. Tiny. Lovely. 
Around the base of the nativity it says "For Unto Us a Child is Born."

My all-white nativity on vintage table linens and a vintage hankie. I love, I'm SUPER proud of myself for keeping my little pink tea rose alive for TWO MONTHS! I know. Seriously, I'm like the Grim Reaper of Plants, so this is a major accomplishment for me.

Candy cane garland strung in the doorway through to the morning room from the living room. I love this. I think it needs some evergreen garland strung with it, but I love it!

Our Bird's Nest ornament from Bronner's! I love this...because I have a thing for birds. Seriously. If it has a bird on it, I want it. Immediately. But I ALSO love the symbolism of the bird ornament! Here's what the tag says:
"A bird nest is the symbol of the home. It reminds  us that we strive to make our home
a place where family members grow and prosper. Considered a good luck symbol,
the bird nest represents all the love and warmth, enthusiasm and commitment
required in creating the happiest of homes." 

Is that not perfect for me? I love.

Our red and green tree! This one houses a LOT of homemade ornaments, children's ornaments, and old family ornaments. I love it. And it, too, has a little fabric tree skirt. Hubs said it reminded him of Charlie Brown's tree with the little blue blanket as a skirt, and that was just fine with me. I love it. I also love that a lot of the ornaments on this tree were either made by my mom or remind me of her. She was the person in our home when I was growing up who made Christmas SO special and magical. I wish you could have seen the way SHE decorated for the holidays! It was magic. I miss her so hard at Christmastime especially for that very reason. She LIVED for Christmas. I want to give my family that same experience, just so they know what that really feels like.

The whole fireplace setup! Stockings "hung with care," the little Christmas tree, my North Pole Village pieces, my Santa smoker that I got when I was about 10 years old from Germany, and some gingham tied around the firewood holder for good measure.

Oh, and the North Pole Villagers have their very own Nativity scene in the town square because THEY know what the true meaning of Christmas is! Oh yes, they know what's up.
I got this lighted wreath (sans Merry Christmas sign) at the Goodwill last summer (WITH the box!) for $2.99. I almost ran out of the store with it. Oh, and don't even ACT like I wasn't stalking around the store looking for an open outlet so I could try it to make sure it lit up before getting it home. SO not my first thrifting rodeo. It works, is in perfect condition, doesn't smell like smoke, and is lovely. PLUS, it totally matches the lights on our main Christmas tree, which was an added bonus.
The day that my sister brought her kids over to frost cookies with my stepson, Hubs also set up the Christmas train that my dad gave us last year. This thing is amazing. It blows smoke (for real), has the cutest cat-scaring train whistle sound, and plays Christmas carols. I KNOW! I love it and so do ALL of the kids that come to our house, including "kids" in the 20-80 year old range. Because it's boss.

And, of course, mistletoe. RIGHT over the entryway to the house. I gotta get my Christmas kisses from Hubby as often as I can, and you know that man can't resist some mistletoe. 

Speaking of the entryway to our house- check out the wall color! One day a couple of weekends ago, Hubs and I rocked out painting this room (because we got a super-sweet paint donation from a lady at our church and it's PERFECTION). It looks orange-y in the picture, but it's actually a lovely deep rust red. And I love it. We're also going to use it in the t.v. room eventually. I can't wait. It honestly felt SO GOOD to get started on the painting! I was all on fire to get the rest of the house done like, that night. lol. This room is a hard-worker, being that it's the entryway, coat room, and laundry room, so we felt it deserved to get painted first. lol.

Buddy's ready for Christmas! So is our couch, with red and green Christmas-y throw blankets. Now they just need slipcovers...We got the sofa and the loveseat (which is ALSO a GLIDER! I KNOW!) at the Salvation Army in the beginning of November for $50. I about died. They're wonderful and not smelly at all, which, let's be honest- that's like a 50/50 shot when thrifting furniture. lol. They just desperately need to be slipcovered because the fabric is pretty beat up.

Our family Advent Wreath. Love this...I went with white candles this year because...that's what we had. I actually like them a little better than the purple and pink ones lookswise, although the traditionalist in me is having a fit. lol. Advent just snuck up on my this year, though, since it started in November and I had forgotten to get new candles. So we're going with white this year. lol.

My FAVORITE nativity set that I own. I love, love, love this one. I think it's so pretty...the faces are painted well, the glazing is gorgeous and I always get this crazy sense of pride was $8. BRAND NEW. From the Dollar Tree back in 2007. It's beautiful. The standing pieces are all about 8" tall with the kneeling ones and the manger being about 6" and 4" respectively. It''s beautiful.

And I love this one, too. I love that Joseph is actually holding the baby WITH Mary and, if you look closely, you'll see that the "T" is a cross. I love it.

Okay. So that's the start of Christmas at our house! What's it look like at yours? C'mon over and link up so I can check it out!

Friday, December 2, 2011

OH BOY! Christmas Times' A'comin'!

Oh beloved readers. Be watching. Christmas has arrived at the Country House and it is loverly. Be watching. My picture post is coming tomorrow and I just. can't. wait. I've been working, working, working and had some EXTRAORDINARY luck this year in that I got a FREE mint condition WHITE SPARKLY 6' tree. Yes. I know. I KNOW!!!! It's beautiful and this means that I FINALLY will have my very own, very gorgeous pink and white (maybe with some green?) Christmas tree!!!!!!!


I know. I KNOW! I's going to be a WEE sparse at first because I don't have a TON of pink ornaments yet (YET.) but the ones I DO have are fabu and I can't wait to put them on a gorgeous SPARKLY white tree. Seriously.

Yeah. I have no business living in the country. 

BUT! If it makes you feel better about my chances of surviving out here, I DID do a red and green tree and then our main tree is gold and silver with our nativities on it. Sorry, shoulda said, "Spoiler alert." Ah well.

I can't wait to show you. For real.

The post may be up late-ish if it isn't up by afternoon because hubs and I are participating in our church's Nativity Exhibit tomorrow, which I'm really looking forward to, and so we might get back home late. We're singing in a choral number and then we'll end up hanging around to see some of the over 500 (!!!) nativities on display. I collect nativities myself (although I don't have nearly that's good to have something to aspire, so it's always amazing to see them all displayed.

Not only that, but it's a really beautiful, peaceful way to start the Christmas season. The rooms are softly lit with beautiful Christmas music playing in the background, some of the nativities (especially those from war-torn or poverty-stricken countries) have really beautiful stories behind their creation which are typed out on cards next to the nativity so you can read about them, and there's a lovely pageant on the Friday night that it opens (which I mentioned hubby and I are singing in). It's just a lovely break from list-making, frantic meal planning, stressed-out shopping, and finally melting down in front of a Hallmark movie with a box of Thin Mints on your lap. 

So I'll see you tomorrow with pics of my very first Country House Christmas. I CAN'T WAIT! Wish us luck with the pageant!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Knooking In My Nook

I love a challenge. I do. I'm mostly self-taught in every kind of craft I do except for machine sewing. For that,  I tapped into the great talents of my bestie, Martha. She is a long-suffering soul. I like to think I'm helping her further develop her testimony through trial. lol.


My FAVORITE craft I do is yarn work- knitting and crocheting. They are wonderfully easy and keep my hands busy while I'm vegging out on the couch taking in educational programming. The yarn also keeps me from stuffing my face because I don't want to get crumbs and bright orange Cheeto crustiness all over it. It's genius. 

So then I saw the Knook and knew I had to try it. It's the best of both worlds! It takes all the things that are so great about crocheting (a single hook rather than two needles to wrangle, simple stitches, being able to easily work in the round) and combines them with the things I love about knitting (tightly woven fabric, only two stitches to master rather than several different ones, TONS of variety in patterns). It's fantastic. 

Because I can't seem to do ANYTHING without announcing it everyone I know on Facebook, it made my status updates about 95 times in the last week or so. That's an approximation. So I got a couple of questions about it, which reminded me that not everyone follows the Leisure Arts blog, which means that they were unaware, for the most part, of the publicity bomb that has been detonating on there since the Knook was released for sale. 

You can buy the Knook at Wal*Mart (usually. I was super ticked because that's where I got MINE and then I went back to get one for a friend for a gift -shhhh...-and they were out and the staff had no idea what I was asking them for. I mean, ideally, the people who work in the crafting department of a store should have SOME idea of what the stock is that they're in charge of. Ideally.) and online at the Leisure Arts website. For $9.95, you get three bamboo crochet hooks (which, if you decided Knooking isn't for you, is a great deal just for the hooks which can use to regular crochet with), the strings you use while Knooking, and a great how-to guide with four awesome beginner patterns.

This is what it looks like:

On the Leisure Arts website they are so excited about the Knook that they have produced some fanTAStic videos for us learning to do this to teach us- and they're great. 

Here's the link: How to Knook 

It's going to be awesome and you're going to love it. 

As proof, here's my Top Ten List of reasons why:

10. It's totally new and innovative and you can tell your kids that you were alive before Knooking became the hit sensation that's sweeping the nation. They'll be awed.
9. It's super fun and your hubby will be super impressed at your mad skills. You don't even have to tell him about the helper videos. They'll be our little secret.
8. It makes a great stocking stuffer for the yarn crafter in your life!
7. It's a great, non-intimidating way to jump into the yarn crafting arena yourself! No needles to juggle, no crazy stitches to master, easy patterns to, EVERYONE is learning to do this, so there's no nagging feeling of inferiority because NO ONE really knows what they're doing. Definite bonus.
6. It's SUPER portable, so you can take it with you to doctor's appointments, waiting in the carpool line after school, family parties (holiday parties! I can hear the "ooohs" from impressed and envious family members now!), etc. Nice!
5. It's a great way to snuggle up with your honey while watching holiday movies while the snow floats softly by outside your windows. Very "It's a Wonderful Life"! Don't you feel domestic?
4. Even if you don't like Knooking (*gasp!*), you get three great-quality bamboo hooks for a super-low price!
3. Leisure Arts is constantly releasing new patterns specifically written FOR the Knook on their website! They have some really great stuff available on there!
2. Winter is coming, which in Michigan means LOTS and LOTS of indoor time. Lots. This means you will need a hobby to avoid going nuts. It's between this and getting roped into coming over and painting all the rooms in our new house. Your choice.
1. It makes knitting in the round SO EASY. If you crochet, you know how wonderfully easy it is to whip up the cutest little beanie-hats in no time flat! But...crocheting can lead to kind of hole-y fabric. That's why I love knitting hats. But that takes forever and often requires double pointed needs. Not my fave. Enter the Knook! You can KNIT in the ROUND with NO cables and NO dpns! LOVE LOVE LOVE.


Grab yourself one now! Or add it to your Dear Santa letter! It's not too late! The Elves can easily grab one for you before the season is out. 

Coincidentally, Leisure Arts is hosting a FABU giveaway right now that you MUST enter if you're at ALL interested in this!

Go HERE to enter! Good luck!
(just not TOO much luck because I wanna win TOO! lol)

Oh, and this was in no way associated with or requested by Leisure Arts. Just my own ramblings.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What I Made for Thanksgiving

We share Thanksgiving duties in our family. Daddy makes the turkey and gravy, Allison (my fabu sister) makes rolls, a side of choice, and the most amazing pies ever to be guiltily jotted in my calorie journal. This year, Apple, Peanut Butter (with an oreo crust!), and Pumpkin Cream made her list. Just saying those pie names makes my mouth when I watch "Waitress" and she describes all the amazing pies she makes. Mmmm...Bad Baby Pie...delish. My sister's pies are amazing. They are legendary. Legen. Dary.

Hubs and I are responsible for sides and the appetizer his grandma used to make all the time called Crabbies. When hubs wakes up from his turkey coma, I will pump him for that recipe and share it with you all, because they are wonderful. Warm, salty and garlic-y, cheesey, crabby...yum. There are NEVER leftovers and you can make them as far in advance as you want because they freeze beautifully before they're baked. And they're eeeeeeeasy. Easy.

For now, I will share what I made:

Baked Cranberry Sauce
I know, I KNOW. Baked. It blew my mind, too. I'm used to standing over a hot stove waiting for cranberries to stubbornly, slowly, reduce down to sticky, gummy jelly stuff. Good but...not my fave. Sorry to cranberry lovers out there. I just found them to be SO SOUR. And they dried my mouth out. Then this year, I thought, "NO! There MUST be a better way!" and so I did what any Smarty-Smart girl chock full of kitchen savvy would do- I Googled it.

And I found THIS recipe and decided to give it a whirl. And it was marvelous. Thumbs up all around the table, except from my 9 year old stepson, but he doesn't like cranberry anything so I'm taking that as a win, since they tasted cranberry-y enough to make him hate them. NAILED IT. They are orangey, savory, nutty, sweet-and-soury goodness. In a dish. And no standing over a hot stove when you COULD be fluttering between loved ones sharing delicious anecdotes and charming conversation. At least, that's how I remember it...

We also made what are becoming our signature sweet potatoes, a recipe which I found due to similar "I'm not such a fan of this, but it's Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving is all about eating things you would never actually put on your table at any other time of year without your friends, family, and children looking at you like you'd lost your mind" circumstances. So. Sweet potatoes became my pet project. And I DID IT. My sweet potatoes are, I must say, fantastic. And I don't like sweet potatoes.


Here is MY recipe (also from Taste of Home):

  • 6 cups hot mashed sweet potatoes (prepared without milk and butter)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Adorable tiny marshmallows

    • In a large bowl, beat the sweet potatoes, milk, butter, brown sugar, egg, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice, salt and nutmeg until smooth.
    • Transfer to a greased shallow 2-1/2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Top with marshmallows. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until marshmallows just begin to puff and brown. Yield: 10-12 servings.
So. Those are my Thanksgiving Game Changers. They are wonderful. My husband also made green bean casserole which apparently is one of those things that everyone on the planet but me loves. I just can't do it. I think it's the texture...blech. Not my fave. I'm sure that to less freakish palates it's delicious.

As a sidenote, I also wore FLIRT! by Kohl's lipstick in Honey Kiss, which is a staple in my makeup bag and lovely for all seasons. HIGHLY recommend. It's a lovely nude color that doesn't wash you out and actually picks up the pigment in your lip, so you look less corpsey than most nude lippys tend to make you. Also, the formulation (HIGH WATTAGE Intense and Creamy Lip Color) isn't thick and sticky like lipsticks can be so you don't feel like BP just visited your mouth and had an accident. Love. You can't get it online, only in the store, but this is what the tube (NOT the color) looks like:

On top of that, I wore Bonne Bell Lip Lites (Don't judge! It is lovely AND delicious. In fact, I have a whole makeup post coming solely about my favorite cheap makeup. Watch for it.) in Cappucino. Love. This has been a rock star in my makeup wardrobe since high school and it hasn't failed me yet. In real life, it's a pale nudey beige color (sounds gross from that...but it's pretty! Promise!) with a TINY bit of shimmer in it. Pretty. And tasty. My favorites.


Oh, and I also wore heels. Always, always heels. *smile*
On a sad note (for my backside), my gym will not reopen after the holiday until MONDAY, which means that I'm going to be HURTING by Tuesday. Yikes. Here's to hoping I can resist holiday cookies, Thanksgiving leftovers, and Christmas-movie-snacking until then. This could get ugly...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Life, New House, New Blog

We are starting over. I'm told this is a daunting task, although at the moment it just feels like another transition. Maybe it's because we're still relatively young, or maybe it's because my life has been a series of changes of scenery and lifestyle, but whatever it is- this doesn't seem so difficult. I'm used to moving around a lot, to having my life change in a few seconds and sentences, to waking up in a brand new place with a brand new life. My faith has remained strong, my friends and family are amazing, and my husband and I have drawn closer together rather than falling apart. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "so it goes."

I love our house. I love living in the country with the quiet and the "scope for imagination" that there is out here. Ask me again how I feel about that in January when the snow is flying and the roads haven't been plowed in days, but for now- I love it. I'm choosing to overlook things like the cats killing mice in my living room (who knew my sweet kitties were so blood thirsty?) and the fact that it's totally normal for there to be horse poop in the middle of the road (...) and focusing instead on the positive- My cats have a new hobby other than sleeping all day! My neighbors have horses! How cool is that?!

Plus...this is the first time since I left home for college that I have felt like I have a home. Something that constant, so I feel less like a hobo. I feel like I have roots again, like I have a space that really and truly is mine. It's a heady feeling. A feeling that leads to picking out ridiculous numbers of paint samples so that the paint department guy glares at me, sure that I'm about to turn my fistful of precious (free!) paint chips into craft projects. Which I still might. Thank you, Pinterest. I have a vision for how this house will look and how it will be when we're done with it (although, being that it's me- I'm never really "done" but shhhh, don't tell my husband!). How it will be to someday have a yard full of little ones running around, driving me crazy and leading me to say non-sensical, parenty things like, "Go ahead and PLAY with the lawn mower then! But when you cut both your feet off, DON'T COME RUNNING TO ME!!!" The way the rooms will look when they're all covered in beautiful semi-gloss paint in gorgeous colors to match my gorgeous wall art and couches, all of which has been thrifted (shhhh, don't tell my...oh, who am I kidding? I'm a bargain whore, so I tell EVERYONE I MEET how little something cost me at the Salvation Army and isn't it CUTE?!).

So stay tuned. Watch us grow among the trees that make up my backyard (we live IN the them), and see what I come up with. Watch me change and plan and kludge things together and...and learn to blend in with the country in a stand-outy, LL Bean Christmas Catalog kind of way.