Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Morning

Ahhh ... what can I say ... we have strong Christmas morning traditions. I realized even the food I serve for breakfast is a tradition. At the last minute I added back the Cinnamon Pull-Apart that I had taken off this year's menu ... Tradition! Matt had shared with Kathy that I serve it every year ... oops!
We met for breakfast at 10 a.m. and enjoyed a leisurely meal sharing many Germer stories and isms. We always enjoy our time around the table.
We gathered around the tree and spent time in our traditional way of opening gifts ... one person, one gift at a time. This can take hours and usually involves a story behind many of the gifts. This year I added pictures for the gift tags so "santa's helpers" a.k.a the grandkids could hand out the presents without having to read names on the tags.
Just when everyone thought gift opening was coming to a close ... the finale was just beginning. It was time to distribute the Twelve Months of Christmas gifts -- see previous post. What a great ending to our fun morning together.
To continue our day-long celebration we enjoyed another tradition ... a sub sandwich bar for dinner and playing games. How I cherish this day with the family ... it truly is "the most wonderful time of the year."
What are some of your family traditions?
Template: Moriginals 365 Template No. 15
Paper: jld holidayheart bg4
Ribbon: LJD The season
Wordart: dranet Christmas09WA
Font: American Typewriter

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pioneer Courthouse Square Bricks

While downtown on Christmas Eve Brian wanted to show Calleigh his brick.

Pioneer Courthouse Square was built in 1984 and my mom purchased bricks for our family as a gift in 1981. Matt was born in 1983 he is the only family member without a brick on the Square. The bricks were permanently placed in alpha order by first name so our family is not together in one area ... there are 71,165 named bricks in the Square. Seems like each visit to downtown Portland we plan time to look for our bricks but without success.

While researching for this post I discovered a brick locator online. Wow! I guess it never occurred to me to look for a map on the internet! So far Brian is the only family member to find his brick ... when the weather is warmer we'll need to take our map and locate each of our bricks. Sounds like a fun spring outing!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve Tradition

One of our Christmas Eve Traditions is to order a Starbucks and pose in front of the Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. This year I tried a Salted Caramel Mocha ... rich but tasty!
Tim and Rae were with us but missed the photo session due to some last-minute gift shopping.
This year our day began at Rose's on 23rd for breakfast with Byron and Heather and enjoyed a little shopping at our favorite shops in that area. We then joined our family at Pioneer Place. This year it was very crowded due to so many having the day off. Normally the crowds are quite thin on Christmas Eve.
We also enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery and visited Finnegan's Toy Store before leaving the downtown area. We headed south back home when the stores closed and added a tradition we haven't participated in since the grandkids were born ... we went to a movie. The guys saw Tron and the gals and grandkids watched Tangled. Following the movie we went to the TCC Candlelight Service at 11:30 p.m. We love this service ... so calm and quiet. I loved having lit candles for each attendee. We haven't done that since our Englewood days. It's a JOY to be a part of the true meaning of Christmas in word and song.
We got home after 1 a.m. and prepared ourselves for the next day ... time with the family!

Christmas Eve Snowfall

Each year we enjoy a little snow in downtown Portland on Christmas Eve. It "snows" at Pioneer Place.

The kids loved it ... they even made snow angels in the fluffy stuff!
It would have been nice to have a white Christmas but this will have to do this season!

Repeat: Secret Santas

Just in time for Christmas ...
We squeezed a Secret Santa Shopping date in before the holidays. With the POD move it was a little tricky finding just the right time for our traditional date night with the grandkids.
We gave them a dinner choice and Calleigh picked Wendy's ... she knows her grandpa's favorite place to eat : )
We headed over to the nearest Target and shopped for the perfect present for Mom and Dad. After much consideration we decided to buy them a combined gift of a Harry Potter Lego Wii game. We also included gloves for Mom because she needed them. I heard later that the second pair of the set will be shared with Dad!
We ended our evening with popcorn from the cafe while we wrapped and tagged our gifts.
What a fun evening out with the kids!

Glimpse of Christmas

It's always fun to play with Mosiac Maker at Big Huge Labs. I created a glimpse of a few Christmas decorations from our home this year.
Our unique pink Barbie tree is always fascinating for Calleigh. It's getting quite full -- so many Barbie ornaments to display.
This year the Christmas village was a delight to the grandkids. They had more fun rearranging the buildings, people and accessories. I painted the entire set about 16 years ago. Nice to see it provides fun and enjoyment many years later.
We always have a display of various angels and snowmen but the newest addition hanging on our tree was the angel we bought from the Murano glass factory in Venice. What a great reminder of our trip to Italy.
I found a few antique Christmas cards in the family trunk and displayed them on the bookcase we moved from our bedroom to the living room. My little birds were a great find at the Hen's Tooth in Sisters during our fall Sunriver getaway. It seems like nearly every blog I read has a glass displayed with shiny ornaments. I found this glass dome/plate at Goodwill this year and decided to fill it with colorful ornaments and display it on our china hutch. I always love my snowman shelf-sitter in our entryway ... a great holiday welcome!
This year I really tried to be more of a minimalist with my decor and found the house felt more comfortable without the holiday clutter. It will be a little sad to put it away but as the new year draws near, I am ready to have everything in it's place before heading back to work.

Goodbye Country, Hello Modern

One of my goals during the winter break was to move back into our bedroom. We have been living in our downstairs guest room since September while we updated our bedroom/bath. It wasn't so bad but I was definitely ready to sleep in our queen-sized bed again.
I spent two days before Christmas unboxing, moving, cleaning, purging, storing ... until it finally looked like a bedroom again.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the process involved in this transformation. The room was country ... floral wallpaper in mauve, blue and green. Mauve tile countertops in the bathroom ... my Barbie collection inhabiting a great deal of "real estate" and an large oak roll top desk that overpowered the room. It truly needed an upgrade!
Each addition to our bedroom caused new configurations in other rooms of the house. And I don't even want to discuss the garage ... overflowing! However, the room feels much more spacious and relaxing. It's good to see minimal decor ... much more comforting.
We spent Thanksgiving weekend stripping and painting/staining two dressers. They went from country-white to a mahogany top, black body and new contemporary knobs. They feel so updated! We tried to repurpose as many things as possible
We invested in a few new pieces of furniture -- a new sleek black desk, a chair from Pier 1, and a nightstand from Expressions Home Furnishings on 99W. Everything was on sale or clearance. These were great finishing pieces.
In the bathroom area we ordered a new solid surface countertop, stripped and stained the existing vanity, put up a new light fixture, mirror and faucet. What a transformation. Even though this round of remodeling was "lipstick" it is amazing to see how even small changes can make a huge difference.
We will be adding crown moulding this winter for a finishing touch. Even though it is still in-process we are finding this room a comfortable, stylish "retreat."
Truly a great Christmas gift!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Glitter Trees

I found this great idea at this site and wanted to make them for our home. I think a lot of bloggers liked them because I see them featured on many sites in my RSS Feed.
The subway art was a free download so the only investment I made was printing and the frame. The glitter trees required some time in gathering the materials. I wanted to use my Michael's coupon for each item: 3 styrofoam cones and 3 different colors of Martha Stewart glitter. I found the stands (candleholder) at the Dollar Tree and painted them black to match the frame.
I will not deceive you by saying it was a snap to make these. It wasn't so bad time-wise ... just a little messy. I worked on it in the kitchen because it was too cold in the garage. I placed newspaper on the table to protect the surface. The adhesive spray had a wider-range than the protection I placed on our table and attracted the leftover glitter : ( My fingertips were covered in glitter and I did this BEFORE heading off to work! I would recommend having UNDU available to help with clean up both with your work surface and your hands. I think if I made these again I would paint the cones the same color as the glitter. I think this would help with coverage. This might be a nice summer project where you could glitter these outside : )
I have really like the dazzle of color these simple elements have added to our home during the holidays and I have had many compliments. I am so thankful for the creative blogs I subscribe to. It has changed my decorating style to be more simplistic ... but elegant.

Merry Christmas From Our House To Yours

Homemade Marshmallows

My first Monday of Winter Break I wanted to tackle making homemade marshmallows to go with my December theme for "The Twelve Months of Christmas." I found a recipe on Our Best Bites and decided it had the best instructions for tackling this new cooking adventure. It was really a two-day process and they turned out well but the chocolate dipping was the most time consuming part. Dipping anything in chocolate seems to be a challenge for me : ( They are delicious and Walt wonders why you would go to all the work of making them when you can buy them at the store. No ... these are much better!
The packaging made a fun addition to my December theme. I would definitely make these again. However, if you are considering it, you really do need a stand mixer for the best success!
I feel like having a cup of cocoa right now with a yummy marshmallow afloat!
Template: In the Making V
Paper: Beth Long/Cold Winter paper 1
Wordart: In Winter's Arms/dydyge wordart1
Font: Chromosome Light, Pea Noodle's Girlfriend

A Taste of Italy

Still excited from our trip to Italy we wanted to include "A Taste of Italy" in our gift giving this Christmas. I remember our tour guide telling us we could find instructions for making Limoncello online so I did a little research. I found a site that included step-by-step instructions with pictures.
We gathered the ingredients, bottles, and equipment and started the process two weeks before Christmas. After mixing the ingredients the container is placed in a dark cupboard and stirred each day for 7 days. The final step is to add sugar and water and put it in bottles. Pierre told us about great glass flasks at The Container Store so we had several shapes and sizes to choose from. However, when we returned to the store for more, they had sold out! Very popular item this year. The added pleasure of the project was the Dehazes making it at the same time but using oranges instead of lemons.
I should have included a caution on the label: You only need a "thimble-ful" to enjoy the great lemony taste!

The Twelve Months of Christmas ...

This year I wanted to do something different for Christmas with our kids ... a theme to go with a "Make It, Bake It, Sew It, Grow It, Repurpose It" idea. After pondering this during a January insomnia night I came up with the idea of the "Twelve Months of Christmas." I could hardly get back to sleep with all sorts of ideas floating through my head. By summer I had a few concrete ideas and I started collecting the items and packaging for each month's theme. Here's what I came up with:
January: Movie night (Regal tickets in a popcorn container)
February: Bouquets in Winter (vase with Trader Joe's gift card)
March: Car Wash (Kaady car wash gift card in a car holder)
April: Gardening (Bucket filled with gloves, garden accessories, gift card)
May: Cinco de Mayo (homemade salsa, Mike's, chips)
June: Summer BBQ (glass votive holder, BBQ sauce, 3 rubs)
July: A Taste of Italy (homemade Limoncello, shot glasses)
August: Happy Hour (gift card to McMenamins)
September: Romance (pasta, sauce, candles & holders, dessert, wine romance music CD)
October: Fall Baking (TJ Bread mix, ceramic measuring spoons, homemade dishcloth, printed freezer labels from Martha Stewart site)
November: Red Box Movie Night ($$$ in a RED box, theater candy/popcorn)
December: It's Cold Outside! (Ceramic cocoa set, homemade marshmallows and cocoa "accessories")
Yes ... that made 36 gifts to wrap, package, and hide : )
Christmas morning we waited until all gifts were opened and then celebrated "The Twelve Months of Christmas." What fun to give ... and share in the joy of the recipients.
It was a great year-long project for Christmas ... fun shopping, finding bargains, discovering a great container idea, trying new recipes, thinking of different things I could find used/repurposed, and getting inspired by the blogs I read.
I already have an idea for next year ... however, I cannot share it because the recipients are also readers!
I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with those you love!