Thursday, December 31, 2009

our year in review...

in case you missed it.

We started the year

by beginning our journey in unschooling...

There was no rest for the weary.


we began the arduous task of house hunting.

We got the keys to our new home...

 on May 29, 2009.

We set about making it ours.

In the meantime,

we began to enjoy our new surroundings,

celebrating birthdays and...

everyone started school in the Fall.

Leaving me

 at home alone for the first time in fifteen years!

It's still been busy and I've found a new hobby.

And did stuff like this...



but at times, it's still hard to get used to.

So, I'm taking it day by day.

 I have set a list of goals for the new year

and am looking forward to 2010!

Have a safe & happy New Year('s Eve)!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

10 things in 2010

This year I am making my list of goals very tangible.  Nothing vague... like eat healthier- although I should.  No, I want a list I can look at and check things off.  That is a soothing thought for me admist all of the chaos and questions about my health that led up to the holidays.  So here goes...

1.  Stop procrastinating.  Nah.  I do some of my most creative work under pressure.  Back when I was a waitress and a bartender, I thrived on those crazy times of the night, when the kitchen got in the dreaded "weeds" and the "dinner crush"- pressure gets me thinking clearly!   Instead, I think I'll to learn embrace this "downfall".   Moving on...

2.  Become the gift wrapping guru I've always wanted to be.  I lovingly linger over magazine pictures of gorgeously wrapped gifts and always swear I am going to wrap my gifts like that.  But when the time comes, I'm always short on time (see #1) and usually have a smaller-than-I'd-like-to-have budget for the gift, never mind the wrap.  So, I am going to collect fun and pretty items, ribbons, and wrap all year, to have on hand when I'm wrapping a gift in the 11th hour.

3.  Commit to buying at least one thing. I covet from Etsy each month

4.  Make at least three things for this home, by hand.  Myself.

5. Convince John to buy a pool

6.  And a firepit.

7.  Plant something.

8.  Spray paint something.  Seriously. I have been so inspired over the past year by all of the amazing transformations that fellow bloggers have made- with just a can of spray paint!

9.  Cook something.  That doesn't involve just a pot of boiling water or the toaster oven.  This is a HUGE challenge!!

10.  Host or plan some sort of neighborhood gathering.  Like a block party or huge cookout- but something with a creative twist.  Any ideas?

What are your goals for the new year?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Is it me?

or does Mackenna look like Eloise...

either her or...


Madonna -

circa 19 eighty-something.

Isn't  5 and 1/2  fun?!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

wordless wednesday: almost 8.

side note:

 so it doesn't count against the "wordless" part of this Wednesday...

Everything old (me) is new again-

my daughters are wearing stretch pants, high tops and hair bows.

All she needs here is a fingerless glove-

which thanks to Hannah Montana are available in stores!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

WHO 's that girl?

The Sunday performance of Gianna's high school drama club's play was snowed out, and unfortunately, the other performances were Monday and Tuesday nights- at 7 pm!  So, not everyone in our family got to see her this year, but Brielle and I did get to go Monday, and I snuck a couple of no flash pictures...

Gianna is the one in the middle-

one of the Grinch's aunts

(She also played one of the Whos in the post office scene in the beginning, but I didn't get a shot of that.)

The whole cast and crew did a FABULOUS job- it was so funny and the stage and props looked great!!  It was a fun, fun night and Brielle (my 12 yo) even let me take a picture of her after the show(a very rare occurrence these days!)...

My girls are growing up so fast!

(and what a difference a year makes- remember Brielle's new 'do last year ?! )

Gianna- Super job!!

Brielle- thanks for accompanying me on so many nighttime trips this holiday season.  At least this one was fun.  ;)   

Love you both lots!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

hummus, feta cheese and sliced black olives


and call it a day   dip. 

(you can use a fancier dish for entertaining- I'm just eating lunch.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

So, I lied.

Yesterday wasn't my last pre-holidays post.

But I was so excited by the best $2 I ever spent on Christmas decorating, that I had to post.   Inspired by a red and white clothesline (I thought it look like candy cane) that I  found at the dollar store, I grabbed some clothespins (one more dollar) and leftover ornaments and went to town...

I made the best of that awful rail on the top of my kitchen cabinets that I still haven't gotten the nerve to rip down while John's at work.  Then I tacked some of the line around a doorframe and  clipped our Christmas cards and other random goodies on it.  Cute and cheap! 

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that Shaye is honoring Hanukkah this year with paper candles she colored at school...

She has informed me that she is also going to mark the days of Kwanzaa this year too.

And I forgot to post the picture of the littles' visit with Santa this year... 

He got a laugh from the "CASH" written on Mackenna's list.

And I never posted the littles' school pictures from this Fall...

Whew.  I feel better now.  All caught up.

NOW  I can head off to celebrate. 

See you all after Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

About last night...

Last night we attended the Sr. High's Chorus and Band Winter Recital.  Gianna sings soprano in the chorus and her boyfriend, Madison, a junior, plays the drums in both band and jazz band.  The recital was really very good and I'm not just saying that because I'm her mom, because let me just say it was a huge improvement over the 8th grade concert we attended two winters ago.  ;)  Also worth a mention, Madison's talented twin sister, Kelsey,  who plays the flute- and did well also, she was even honored with a solo.  I didn't take any pictures during the show, as it was impossible to do so without being rude, so here are Gianna and Madison afterwards...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Irony is

being too anxious to actually take the anti-anxiety medicine your doctor prescribed for you. 

Luckily I am blessed with an extremely patient (and this has been tested the last six weeks!) and encouraging husband and now I am three days closer to being back on an even keel.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

a gingerbread house so easy even a five year old can make it!

This morning, we attended a local library's gingerbread house making party.  We had a blast and the instructions were so simple even Mackenna, who is 5, could assemble and decorate one completely by herself! 

Want to join in the fun?  Here goes...

Start with graham crackers (we used cinnamon ones because we thought they looked sparkle~y,  like snow-dusted houses.) and any white frosting - refrigerated overnight before starting.  The library provided tin foil covered cardboard rounds, a plastic "pastry" bag, and a plastic spoon.  I brought butter knifes, which we did also use.



Fill your pastry bag with frosting 1/2 way and roll closed.  Pipe the frosting onto three sides of the first cracker and place upright on the round.  Pipe frosting onto three sides of the next two crackers and place them perpendicular to the first cracker but in slightly from the edge.  **This is the secret to a sturdy house!  Edge to edge crackers WILL collapse - place the two sides in slightly from the edges of the ends**  Pipe the frosting onto the three sides of the fourth cracker and place at the end.  Your walls should look like this...

 Now we have to brace the roof.  We placed a peppermint candy and then a Hershey kiss- both held in place with frosting- in the middle of both "end" crackers.  Then frost the undersides of the roof crackers (two of them) along the top and bottom (lengthwise) of the crackers.  Very gently, balance the two crackers against each other at an angle- resting against the braces.  Hold (the crackers and your breath) for a second and then let go...

Now comes the setting time.  For BEST results, let the houses sit like this overnight.  We let them sit for 15 minutes while we planned and prepared our "decorations"...

Oh yeah, and decorated a gingerbread cookie we baked at school yesterday and snuck along today to decorate too.  After the house has set, very carefully apply some frosting to the candy and cookies of your liking and apply to house.

Very carefully....

Once you've gained some confidence, continue frosting and decorating- your consistently more rapid pace fueled by the 3:1 mouth to house candy destination ratio...

If  by some chance your roof cracks and does start to cave- no worries. Simply discard  eat  the broken cracker and braces and lay the one cracker still in good shape flat across the walls.  Problem solved.

Before you know it, you will be the proud owners of some of the best real estate in town this holiday season...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas card photo runner ups...

the unpink ladies*
december 2009

*God's greatest gift to me was these four girls and my husband, John, who works hard  every. single. day. so I can stay home and raise them!  Where do you see God's fingerprints?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Gianna was asked (along with all of the actors) to bring in two wrapped presents and some Christmas decorations to be used as props and scenery.   I picked up four large sparkle~y ornaments from the $1 bins at Target and we got a little carried away with the presents...

what d'ya think-

are they Who-a-licioUs?!??

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

cute "ice cream" ornament

Two years ago,
Mackenna made this unique ornament for us at (pre)school.

Simply glue an ornament onto a kiddie cone and add a ribbon.

As you can see, the cone has held up rather nicely.

The teacher personalized it by writing Merry Christmas 2007
and Mackenna's  name on the cone with a Sharpie.

Here is a (slightly blurry) side view...

Cute, right?

Monday, December 7, 2009

our Christmas tree

see more Christmas trees at...

Funky Junks Christmas Trees 


Sunday, December 6, 2009

ornament exchange 2009

This is the second year I've  participated in Pampering Beki's ornament exchange.  Yesterday,  a package from my exchange partner, Melissa (another SAHM to four kiddos- perfect match) arrived on our doorstep.  Inside was a pretty gift wrapped box- the girls were all sorts of excited.  Inside were two beautiful ornaments- one all sparkle~y with my  three favorite highlights of December cut out of it and a happy polka-dotted (love polka dots!) ornament reminding us of the reason for the season.   And she tucked some yummy little treats in for the girls, which was so nice of her, and very much appreciated by the ladies!  Thanks Melissa!

And I can not write this post without sending a shout out to Melissa's husband - a member of the US Army - thank you for all that you do for me, for all of us!  Melissa is also an etsy shop owner - look at these darling leg warmers....

just $12 !

find them here in her shop--->  jonah bonah.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

that's a wrap.

The first round of gifts under the tree were wrapped using some cool animal print ribbon I found in the $1 bins at Michael's.   The girls had fun pairing them with brightly colored wrap and mixing in some polka dots.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

a little Christmas bling for mantown.

for the coffee table.

and his bar... tiny ornaments in a decanter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

a very merry to do list:

1. make a gingerbread house

3. drink hot cocoa w/peppermint stirrers

4. go caroling

5. be a secret santa

6. go sledding

7. make a snow angel

8. make {and give} a box of love

9. choose a charity as a family and make a donation

10. drive around together enjoying the holiday lights


11. decorate the Christmas tree

12. make {and enjoy} snowman pancakes

13. hang a winter wreath on the front door

14. watch The Grinch!

15. read The Night Before Christmas

16. go see a local play

17. ride the Christmas train at the mall

18. go see A Christmas Carol in 3D

19. make a snowman

20. have a snowball fight

Host a Christmas Eve gathering at our house.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

a very merry start

What better way to start December, than to show you how we've started decorating for Christmas...

a view of our tree from the kitchen

we've gone with a warm red, green and winter white

in the living room, so far.

I'm thinking of adding a little lime green...

like the colors of our welcome mat.

Went with a simple swag on the front door.

Since, we don't have a mantle after all...

we laid the stockings out on our tree skirt

 for a bright pop of color.


a string of lights is a cheery addition

to the little girls' room this time of year.

Have you started decorating yet?

click this pic below to see how everyone else decked their halls this year...