Christmas Home Tour {Part 1}

I love Christmas? Did you know? How could you possibly tell??

But this year I’m not counting down. I refuse to. Friends have countdown calendars. The kids are reminded daily in school of how many more days are left until Santa comes. Shoppers are told how many shopping days are left(which, incidentally, is now the same as the # of days till Christmas since we no longer have closed stores any day of the week). And all of it~ just makes me feel sad.  I’m sad that everyone is counting down and focused on THAT day and not enjoying THIS day.  There is so much to pack into this season.  It is a season.  And that’s why I wrote about the ones who hate Christmas.  All of this counting down is making us feel rushed and hurried and bothered and flustered.  So, I’m not counting down.  I have  no desire to care or know how many more days there are until the 25th of the month, because, well, there’s a 25th in every month and it takes roughly the same amount of time to get there as it did last month.

In the hopes of redeeming these days, I instead focus on making a new corner of my home more festive.  More cozy.  More like a place I want to be.  So, I’m going to take you on a tour.  I admit I am not done.  I never really get done.  Christmas decorations often get tweaked and moved and adjusted in my house.   I’m still working on a couple of key areas that never really had the proper attention given to them.

Today, I will show you a peek at our master bedroom. It’s been a neglected corner of our house since we moved in August. A dumping ground for random bathroom items that don’t fit in either upstairs bathroom, a mis-match of tacky 1960s  rattan wallpaper and my desire to make it soothing and peaceful.  So, this is what I did….

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Bottle brush trees~which I love.

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Aren’t they so festive?

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Dayspring cloche (which is on sale right now for a steal!). Feels like a snow globe.

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Vintage 3 tiered serving tray($3) and vintage ball ornaments

Chenille bedspread-thrifted.IKEA lighted wreath. Cozy.

Chenille bedspread-thrifted.IKEA lighted wreath. Cozy.

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Buddy loves my bed~ and he suits the decor so I think I’ll keep him! ;)

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I love looking around my house to find what can fit with what I’m trying to do. I’ve had this little wood sign for years and it just suits my theme here so well!

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Reflection.

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I’ve had this Coca-Cola poster for several years~it is an original. Found this IKEA poster frame we’ve had for a long time and it just suited perfectly.

 

Tomorrow I will post my living room ~I’m still working on it so I need the day to get it done!

In the mean time, I have a little contest going on  on my FB page.  Go check it out.  “LIKING” my page gets you your name in the draw, sharing it on your page gets you another chance to win and finally, following me on Pinterest will get you a third chance to win!  Just a little seasonal fun and who doesn’t like getting something free?  Please share!

Spreading Christmas Cheer~ A Giveaway!

I used to watch Oprah’s favorite things shows. I got all excited and teary when people would win stuff they weren’t expecting. Just watching their expressions was enough to make me want to run out and buy some goodies for my friends and family.

Now Ellen has carried on the tradition with her 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways.  Listen people, I don’t have unlimited resources or wealth to draw from.  I don’t have diamond bracelets or iPads.  I can’t even muster an iPod to give away.

However, I am feeling particularly generous this year and I wanted to share it with you, my readers.  But, there’s a catch(don’t you just hate that?)

Here it is:  I want you to go to my Facebook page and  “Like”  it.  Well, don’t just LIKE it….can you actually press the little “Like”  button? I want to set a tone for the new year with new posts, new ideas, new conversations and it all kind of happens there.  I just want everyone to be a part of it.  So, here’s the deal:Go to the link for THIS post on my FB page,share it on your page and then come back to my page and comment “shared” in the comments section.  For everyone who “shares” my link , you will get your name into a draw for something homemade by me!!  Just in time for Christmas gift-giving.  (sorry, this will only be available to those in North America).

And then ….here’s the good part: if you’re on Pinterest, follow me and I’ll follow you back.  Send me the link to your Pinterest page in the comment sections as well. This second comment will also get your name in the draw!  So there you go: 2 chances to win!

For all of my new followers wondering what this is all about~it’s just me, a little prairie girl, sharing thoughts on home, faith and family. If you’re wondering where to start…..a timely, good place would be my series on Redeeming Christmas. Lots of good ideas for simplifying and taking back Christmas from the chaos that it has become. There’s 31 posts in this series so no shortage of thoughts and ponderings.  Check it out here.

A bunting, a wreath and 12 fabric ornaments. Split it up and give as gifts or adorn your own little world with vintage loveliness. Perfect for that shabby vintage look, a girl's room, a nursery or kitchen. Possibilities are endless!

A bunting, a wreath and 12 fabric ornaments. Split it up and give as gifts or adorn your own little world with vintage loveliness. Perfect for that shabby vintage look, a girl’s room, a nursery or kitchen. Possibilities are endless!

Oh and one more thing….there’s a time limit here. Only comments posted by 11 pm(central time) Friday evening will count. That gives you 36 hours! Like,share, comment! Off you go! I can’t wait to see whose name will be drawn! I wish everyone could win~but, well, it wouldn’t be a contest then. ;)

 

 

He’s Making Me a Quilt

I have this thing with colour. I can’t get enough of it. I’m drawn to shades and hues and blends.

I want to be the one who discovers you really can put orange and purple in a room and not have it look like a Halloween theme party.

For years my colour obsession manifested itself in scrapbook paper. I have boxes of the stuff…still.  Unused; untapped potential to be cut and matted and pasted into something amazing.  When I look at it, I get a fire in my belly once again and I remember what I thought I might use it for.  But that doesn’t really redeem the fact that I have all of this paper sitting in boxes, unused and unfulfilled.

Photography has filled that need for capturing and harnessing the power of colour and sharing it. Making it into something for everyone to see and bask in the glory of God-given colourful creation.   Sunflowers are my favorite flower to photograph; literally bursting forth with the most vibrant, intense yellows, oranges and reds.  The magnitude and depth of colour in one petal is like a drug to my thirsty, colourless soul.  I crave colour.

And so it goes with fabric.  Get me into a fabric store and I am lost. My heart beats faster and I find it hard to not scoop up armloads of chintz, calicos, toiles and run full-force out the doors.  Where would I go? I have no idea.  But there must be a special place for lovers of fabric, texture and colour. I am there.

For years I have been building up this stash.  I don’t know exactly when it started but I happen to have remnants of my bridesmaid dresses from 20 years ago so I guess that’s as good a place as any.  Tafetas , silks, broadcloth, gingham.  I can see the decades passing by in this one box of colour.  The colour trends of the early 90s were smoky and moody.  And then there were cheaper, brighter cottons later on followed by more elaborate patterns in the 2000′s.

Red is the dominant from the past 10 years.  I picked up one yard meant for a small craft.  And then a few metres on sale begging to be created into some curtains that never got off the floor.  A little here and a little there.  Over the years, through several houses, I’ve been buying and collecting.  And what of it all?  Why buy and never use? What is wrong with me that I start but never finish?

It’s an awful lot like life with Jesus.  It feels a lot of the time like we are just grasping at colours and textures barely long enough to appreciate them.  Storing up and waiting for something. Never really knowing what the outcome will be.  We gather and prepare and plan.  And then we throw it all away because it’s outdated, we’ve grown up; we mature and no longer do those plans fit who we are.  And we wait.

I sat down this week and decided it was time to finish what I started.  I gathered some pinks and reds, a bit of white with flowers.  A cheap yard that was leftover from someone else’s project.  Another bundle from a long-forgotten goal plus a few other pieces and all of the sudden a plan was born.

I don’t do well with patterns. I work best by just starting and learning as I go.  Adjustments come along the way and sometimes the tension messes up the work I’ve done.

Tension.

That’s the one thing about sewing that can really cause a lot of grief.  Too tight or too loose and you’re ripping out seams and stitches.  You have to find that sweet spot where there’s just enough to make it right.

The Lord began to speak to me as I was adjusting the tension control.  He reminded me that sometimes he pours on the heat to push us forward and other times he lays right off depending on  my mood, my circumstances and my spiritual maturity.  Sometimes I can’t handle much tension at all and other times I thrive in it.  Just like this fabric I’m working with.  

I started out around 4.5 for tension and soon found it could handle 6.  In fact, the whole project is coming together better and faster since I upped the tension.  Hmmm. I wonder if there’s something I should be learning here?

I am beginning to see that the Lord has been making me a quilt for many years.  He’s given me a bit of colour here and there.  He’s pulled me and shaped me.  Cut me down a few times to something smaller.  He’s weaving and stitching the experiences of my life.  I haven’t always liked some of these times. In fact, some of them were so ugly that I’d like to forget them and throw them out.   And then I read this:

  Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

God doesn’t sew the way I do. He uses fabric and thread that I would never go for to make something beautiful.  If it wasn’t for some of the colours, textures and the tensions that He’s chosen,  I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Just like this quilt I’m making to mark 20 years married to my husband.  I didn’t plan this project when I first bought that little floral pattern or that brick red cotton.  I liked the potential of what they might become but I had no idea I’d get   this:

God is making me a quilt. He will redeem these seasons of my life.  He promised me joy instead of mourning and provision over poverty.  Our family will be redeemed and this quilt will be finished. I can hardly wait to see the end result.

Isaiah 55:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Christmas Giving {Sacrifice, Love and Spending Less}

Lately I’ve been re-hashing my past gift-giving practices trying to figure out what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong over the years.  I’m kind of annoyed with myself for the years when we went overboard on toys and stuff for our kids.  We didn’t do it every year but the years we did do it it was probably overkill.   I love my kids and I have loved buying them things but when it becomes pile after pile of toys and stuff that rarely get played with or appreciated like I had intended, it’s just a waste.  And I can’t stand waste.

So this year I’m repurposing on a whole new level.  I’m actually repurposing things we already have into new gifts for friends and family as well as finding creative ways to give to my own kids and others that don’t cost a lot of money, have big bang for the buck and still show that I care.  And even though this isn’t a new concept or even new to me, I think it’s important to focus on why we give and the time spent in finding that “perfect” gift or MAKING that “perfect” gift that says “I love you” more than what the actual gift is.  When I give to someone, I want their reaction to be “oh, she really thought of me and who I am” .   I don’t want the focus to be on the cost , the value or the  popularity.   iPads, iPods, iPhones…they’re great but they’re not personal.  If you want a TV, a new computer, a stereo or 2 tickets to the next Justin Bieber concert, you’re not likely to get them from me.

The next thing I want to focus on in my gift-giving is keeping the economy going.  I know, WHAT??  And it’s not by buying Sony, Apple , or Toshiba products.  Those items are made and shipped from Asia.  And as much as I love the Asian people, right now I need to focus my efforts on keeping our North American economy going. Did you know that the American postal service lost a couple billion dollars last year? They did.  People are not mailing like they used to.  People are using UPS, FedEx and local couriers.  We need to keep our postal workers working.  This may seem like an odd thing to focus on for Christmas but I think it’s one small way we can all help our neighbours and our economy.  Consider actually making a Christmas letter this year and NOT sending it via e-mail.  Send cards; they’re so much cheaper than they used to be.  And who doesn’t love to get Christmas cards in the mail?? I love it but the last few years I’ve gone from getting more than 40 a year to less than 20.  This is something we can all do and it shows our friends and family that we’re thinking of them while supporting our economy.  Also, mail your packages. There’s tons of time to get stuff in the mail. I’ve mailed items right up until Dec. 22 and it still reaches its destination by the 24th!  It isn’t hard to put a little something into the mail.

Next comes the actual items I’m thinking of sending.  I used to bake a lot prior to Christmas.  Like A LOT.  Mountains of cookies, squares, tarts and goodies.  I have not done that for a few years.  Busy schedules and lack of motivation have stymied my creative juices.  I made a commitment this year to revive my passion of baking for family and friends.  There are so many young moms who don’t have the time or ability to bake a lot.  There are older folks who can’t justify spending the time  and money on baking for just themselves.  There are neighbours and friends who need to know you’re there.  Baking is a simple, yet sacrificial way to show you care and think of those in your life.

And beyond the baking , I’m making.  Making gifts, crafting, reviving the art of creating.  I know there’s a lot of people who think it’s lame and you can’t really get quality out of homemade item.  But I beg to differ.  With a little ingenuity and a lot of Google searches you can find so many wonderful ways to make gifts.  A homemade gift says that you cared enough to take the time.  Time is something no one wants to SPEND.  We’d rather spend our money than our time. But which one speaks more?  Money is easy to find , easy to get and easy to spend.  Time is a commodity in short supply.  Time requires sacrifice.  Time requires thought and intentionality.  Time requires us to slow down and think.

Over the next few weeks I will post some of the items that I’m going to be giving.  Hopefully I can inspire others to do the same.  If we all scale back the monetary spending but ramp up the time spending, I think we’ll make an impact on what Christmas is really about: sacrifice and love.

How to make a Geisha Mask…

My daughter is incredibly talented. She’s 15 and in grade 10.  She comes by it honestly….I’m not boasting. I’m just saying that her dad is a perfectionist, and I am not.  But when it comes to creative flair…well, I’ve got it going on.  So, here she is, in this art class with a completely anal teacher who is a perfectionist and creative!  Every project seems to take on a life of its own and sadly, many other subjects get thrown by the wayside.   This particular assignment~ a paper mache mask…has consumed the better part of 2.5 weeks in our house.

If my daughter had started it when it was assigned, well…who knows where she would have taken it.  But she procrastinated(huh, wonder where that came from?? ) and so she actually got off to a late start.  This resulted in several nights the first week spent on flour paste, newsprint and quite the mess in the kitchen.  Layer upon layer, hour after hour, fans running, drying , sanding…..oh my, what an ordeal.

I wish I would have taken photos from the beginning.  The balloon and its pathetic looking first couple layers.  but here, is what we have now…..a completely professional looking piece of art that, when the teacher is done marking it, will be displayed in daughter #1′s Asian-inspired room.

The first thing to do: a concept, a drawing and yes, she did it on her own!

Mask baking in oven..to speed the drying.

Forming the nose....layer of paper, pinched and dried.

The backside after sawing off the rough edges....check out the thickness.

The front after sanding, filling cracks and sanding again.

Profile~ lots of sanding to get the nose and face shape just right...the white stuff is the dried spackle(wall crack filler).

My, what a BIG head you have!

After priming and painting white...on to the lips..glitter red!

Working on the eyes....she's way better than I would ever do!

Nearing the end..bought 2 pkgs of fake hair extensions at Ardene and then just hot glued them in the shape we wanted.

Next...a form for the bun. The form? A Coke stubby ornament bottle from Christmas. Spray painted black with the top cut off and then screwed into the "head".

Getting there..but not quite!

Attached a fan, authentic chopsticks(from Japan), flower and now blush.

Finding the right balance.

A proud artist!

Geisha Girl Paper Mache Grade 10 Art

 

Things that take time..

I recently visited a Value Village store.  Don’t get there very often and I really had very little time. I was looking for a specific piece of clothing and never did find it but I did quickly pass through the bedding section.  I was shocked by what I saw~ hanger after hanger of afgahns hung and waiting to be purchased. I don’t know if people see the value in them and so they may stay there a long time.  There were the brown/orange/yellow combination colours from the 60′s and 70′s, there were peach, green, pinks and blues reminiscent of the 80′s.  There were even baby afgahns, barely used, perfectly crafted, soft and ready for cuddling a new infant.   Why would people toss these out?
I have so few afgahns but each one I have I know the source.  I also know the time involved in making one.   I’m working on one right now and I have no intention of ever getting rid of it~ if I made it , it is worthy to be kept and passed down to my kids and their kids if need be.  Do people no longer appreciate the value of time and the care taken by the person creating this gift?  I don’t understand it.

Then there’s meals.  I am so guilty of falling into the bad habits of buying pre-made, pre-packaged, preserved foods and snacks.  I used to bake and cook everything from scratch but busy days and on-the-run schedules have caused me to settle for inferior foods.  I am trying to reverse the trend in our house but I admit it is so hard.   But even worse than saving time is the fact that the food is just not as good, especially baked goods.  What could be better than a fresh cinnamon bun , warm from the oven, smothered in melting butter?  You can’t buy that sort of thing.  And yes, start to finish, it probably does take several hours to make .

Last week there was a radio talk show host talking about how Generation                 ” Y”ers(born after 1977) know very little about cooking, baking, sewing and ironing.  One woman called in and made a flippant comment about how these things take too much time and when she can pay someone else to do them, why would she do it herself.  I thought of how sad that statement is.  We have lost the value of well-spent time.

We justify hours of TV watching as “down time”.  We spend loads of money on take-out , dining out and coffee times~ all of which take time out of our schedules whether we admit it or not.  Yes, it is definitely a priority issue.  And sure enough, some people will agree that it simply isn’t worth it.  But I would like to make the case for learning to do these seemingly mundane tasks once again.  If for no other reason than to appreciate the fact that quality takes time.

And when you stop and take the time to make something from scratch you will also stop time from passing by so quickly.  Consider  being so busy that you pick up clothes from the cleaner, rush to pick up some supper, rush to take the kids to their clubs and sports and rush to get homework done…..and then what?  What is gained by the rushing?  Fatigue, crankiness, ungratefulness, and the thought of doing it all over again tomorrow?  When you stop to make a meal from scratch, bread from scratch and perhaps even a quilt or afgahn, nothing else will get done in those moments, hours, days.  This is true.  Once you get past that fact though, you will see that because nothing else is getting done, you have the time to focus on one thing.  One very important thing for you or for your family.  In those moments, you suspend time.  You cannot drive and run and play and rush while crocheting.  It simply can’t be done.  And so, if it takes you 40 hours to complete your masterpiece, it is 40 hours well spent~ sitting, listening, soaking in the moments.    40 hours to think, to relax, to focus, to meditate.    Some things take time~ growing a baby, growing a garden, raising a child, perfecting a marriage, memorizing scripture, writing a book, learning a language, painting a house, refinishing an antique, rebuilding a car…………sounds like some pretty good things to take time for.

Fall inspiration.

 
 

I miss my pumpkin patch! Will have to grow some next year.

Love the Candy Corn!

While looking for some inspiration today, I came across these photos of fall decor. I just love this time of year.

 

 

Maybe you’ll be inspired too.

 

I just love white pumpkins.

I just love the simplicity of the setting.

Who wouldn't want to sit at such a beautiful table!

Can't you just taste it? Mmmm....pumpkin pie!