Friday, December 31, 2010

I'd Like to Thank The Academy (Best of 2010)

 Our Top 10 Favorite Posts of 2010
I know, everywhere you look at this time of year, you see a "Top 10 of 2010" list.  Here's ours!  First, in no particular order; our own personal favorite posts from 2010: 

Top 10 Referral Sites
I received the most hits in 2010 from these other home-y blogs.  Check them out; lots of great inspiration.  Thank you so much to these blogs, and to every blog or person who has linked to us:

Hooked on Houses

Thanks to our first Sponsors in 2010: 

Clean Mama

Don's Fine Art
Don's Fine Art

House of Hepworths

Bumblebee & Sophie

We have lots of great home and yard projects planned for 2011. Plus, we're working on changes to make our site even better. 

A great big thanks to Kim at seven thirty three for the great new blog design!

Thank you so much to all the people who read our site: 

To everyone who comments, subscribes, sends us emails; and to those who follow us on Google Friend Connect, Facebook and Twitter...thank you! 

To those of you who read, but don't comment, thank you!  Come out and play with us sometime.  We don't bite...much.

Happy New Year!

Linking to: Dittle Dattle

Monday, December 27, 2010

Putting Away Christmas

I recently shared a table setting with my set of Christmas dishes. 

Christmas is over, and it's time to pack away the dishes.  A few years ago, we bought some cloth storage bags for dishes.  You can find these at large kitchen specialty stores, and online.  

We store our Christmas dishes inside this buffet.  

Here are the quilted bags.  We bought some for glasses, teacups, platters, plates, etc. 

A few years ago, I got the idea to print out notes about what was in each bag, since I put dishes of different types and sizes in each to make them all fit.  This makes it so easy to put them away.

I love this large, oval bag.  I have two platters in here.  I cushion them by wrapping them separately, then I place them both in this bag. 

We took most of our decorations down and put the Christmas dishes away. The tree is still up.  Have you started to put away any of your decorations yet?  

Linking to: A bowl full of lemons/ Coastal Charm/ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating/ My Romantic Home/ Tales from Bloggeritaville/ Saved by Love Creations/ Tools are for Women, Too/ House of Hepworths/ The Shabby Chic Cottage/ Blue Cricket Design/ Not Just a Housewife/ Sugar Bee Craft Edition/ The Gypsy's Corner/ Organize with Sandy/ Making the World Cuter Mondays

Friday, December 24, 2010

Handy Boy's Christmas Tree

I thought I'd share some photos of the little tree that Handy Boy keeps in his room.  I bought this tree when he was a Handy Baby...when he got older, he asked if he could have it in his room...

We bought him little ornaments to put on it.  Here's our tribute to living near the seacoast:

Handy Grandma and Grandpa bought this snowman for him.  It lights up and changes color.  He loves to watch it:
Merry Christmas 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Organizing for Christmas, Part 3: Food

Our tree from, that was a BIG one!
This is the final part of my series about getting organized for Christmas.  Here are my previous two posts:

Food is always a big part of our Christmas celebrations.  I usually have a small family get-together in early December, bake lots of goodies, and we have special treats for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In late November and early December, I start buying some items that can be stored in our pantry.  This spreads out the expense of buying it all at once, and the hassle of going out at the last minute.  I need to make sure I have loads of powdered sugar for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, and peanut butter for Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls.  Yum. 

Last week, I made another huge list of all the food we'd need for the following:
  • regular, everyday food
  • food for our small family gathering
  • a few more ingredients for Christmas treats
  • special food for Christmas Eve
  • special food for Christmas Day
I went shopping last week, in the evening when it wasn't very crowded.  I worked off my list, and I piled my shopping cart up high!  I was determined to not have to go to any stores after about December 17th.  We will only need to do quick runs for things like milk, but we should have enough food in the house to last until almost New Year's.  

We have even planned what to make on Christmas Day: Lasagna Rolls.  (Recipe to come).  Yes, they are as good as they sound!  I have everything I need to make them in the house.

So to recap my strategy:
  • make a big list!
  • start shopping for dry ingredients early
  • buy as much as possible, to avoid Christmas crowds
  • make and freeze some items in advance
How are you doing with your Christmas baking and cooking?  Do you need to run to the store? Do you have a specific meal for Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day?

Linking to: Chic on a Shoestring/ A Little Knick Knack/ We are That Family/ Momnivore's Dilemma/ Beyond the Picket Fence/ Not Just a Housewife

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Dish Tablescape

I decided to take out our Christmas dishes and play around with a table setting. I've talked about our Christmas dishes before. It was fun to set this up.

This is a dish set purchased in the '90s at a Bradlees department store. Anyone remember Bradlees?

Here's a nice close-up of the pattern. I love the gold band around the edge of the plates and cups.

Do you have any Christmas dishes? Do you use them in December, or just for a Christmas meal? We use these plates during the whole month of December.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

15 Wicked Cheap Christmas Activities

I know that it can seem like money flies out the door this time of year...but here are some Christmas activities you can do either by yourself, or with others that cost little to nothing:  

1. Cut out paper snowflakes for your home or work space.  

2. Watch a Christmas movie (A Christmas Story is our favorite Christmas movie here!)  

3. Make a new ornament for your tree.

4. Make Christmas cookies (these chocolate crinkles are our favorites).  

5. Open (or give) a small present early!  Kids always love this one.    

6. Pick out a toy to donate to Toys for Tots (we've heard in the news that they are very low on toys this year, sadly). 

7. Make a hand made card for just one special person and mail it. 

8. Attend tree-lighting ceremonies or church dinners (which are usually free, sometimes they request a small donation). 

9. Have some hot cocoa.  

10. Read a favorite Christmas story.  

11. Go sledding on a big hill (if you live in an area with snow.  Can you believe we have no snow yet? Handy Boy is pretty bummed about this...)  

12. Have a snowball fight, or build a snowman  

13. Drive around your neighborhood to look at Christmas lights.   

14. Go to see Santa Claus at the mall.  Just watching kids talk with Santa is fun.  

15. Make some Christmas cookies and take them to someone who may not have family nearby.
    Do you do any of these activities?  Which are your favorites? 

    Linking to: The Thrifty Home/ Coastal Charm/ A Little Knick Knack/ The Shabby Nest/ Beyond the Picket Fence/ Tales from Bloggeritaville

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Organized Wrapping Storage

    We just started to wrap some Christmas gifts.  I thought I would show our gift wrap storage container.  I love it!  I can't remember where we bought it, though. 

    I like the upright storage.  We used to store our wrapping paper in one of those under-the-bed plastic storage bins, but that was so inconvenient.

    This one has a small storage area on top for ribbons, scissors, tape, etc.
    We don't store a lot of wrapping paper; we mostly have Christmas paper, birthday paper, flowery paper and a few "plain" rolls. 
    This is the label on the side of the container, it says "Snaplock Wrap Storage Box."  You can usually find these containers in stores this time of year; or in January when storage and organizing items are on sale.

    We store gift bags and boxes in this organizer that I bought from Improvements a few years ago.  This is the best organizer! It has three compartments, and zips completely shut.  It has a handle on top, and it's very sturdy.  The web site lists it for $14.99. 

    How do you store your wrapping paper or gift boxes?  Have you started to wrap any Christmas gifts yet? 

    Linking to: Organize with Sandy/ Between Naps on the Porch/ It's a Hodgepodge Life/ Fingerprints on the Fridge/ Frugal & Fabulous Design/ Organize and Decorate Everything/ Trendy Treehouse/ We are That Family/ Sew Much Ado 

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Wicked Simple Christmas Gift Tags

    I decided to make some pretty, but simple, Christmas tags using some of my scrapbook punches.  Here are the items I used:
    • scrapbook paper
    • large circle cutters
    • shape punches: circle, squares, tag
    • adhesive
    • hole punch 
    Here are the colors of paper that I used.  They are 4 x 6" pieces. 
    I thought it would be best to use white so that names would show up easier on the tags.
    I made tags in different sizes and shapes.  I even used some small Christmas stickers to dress them up.  I will probably use string, or maybe some curling ribbon to attach these to gifts. 
    This took me less than ten minutes to complete! I just love quick crafting projects. 
    I know it's a very busy time of year, but are you working on any Christmas projects?  Have you ever made gift tags before? 

    Linking to: Life as Lori/ Fireflies and Jellybeans/ Paisely Passions/ My Backyard Eden/ The Gypsy's Corner/ Sugar Bee Craft Edition/ Not Just a Housewife/ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia/ Today's Creative Blog/  I Heart Naptime/ Under the Table and Dreaming/ Craft-O-Maniac/ The Girl Creative/ Keeping it Simple/ It's a Blog Party/ Making the World Cuter/ It's So Very Cheri/ Between Naps on the Porch

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Wicked Good Christmas Ideas

    It's time to PARTY!  There are some wicked cute blog parties going on out there in the world of home improvement blogs.  At a blog party, bloggers can show a small thumbnail photo of a project they have completed.  You can click on any thumbnail, and you will be directed right to their project. 

    Here are a few of my favorite blogs that are having holiday blog parties where people can showcase some great Christmas decorations, recipes and craft ideas.  Can you see any of the projects that we linked up?

    Thrifty Decor Chick: Holiday Home Linky Party

    There are loads and loads of projects; click on a few that catch your eye.  I don't know about you, but I like looking at other people's Christmas decorations.  I also like checking out new Christmas recipes.

    For more Christmas ideas, you can check out some of our recent posts:

    Also, here are some of our popular Christmas posts from last year:

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Organizing for Christmas, Part 2: Decorations

    Last week, I wrote a post called Organizing for Christmas, Part 1: Paper.  I talked about paper: lists, stamps, cards, wrapping paper.

    Here, I'll talk about decorations.  In the past...before Handy Boy was born and I had all sorts of energy...I used to decorate our house in one whole day!!  We put the tree up, put up the ornaments, set up the other decor, took out the Christmas dishes.  (Oh yes, I have a set of Christmas dishes.) 

    I've decided to break the decorating down into three parts, over three days, to spread out the work:
    • putting up the decor in various rooms
    • putting up the Christmas tree, with lights and ornaments
    • taking out the Christmas dishes 
    This is a lot easier, and less exhausting all around.  I think that Handy Boy even enjoys it more.  It spreads out the Christmas fun! 

    After the house is decorated, I start thinking about finishing up my shopping, wrapping, and baking my Christmas goodies.  

    If you put up a Christmas tree, is it up yet?  If not, when will you put it up?  Do you decorate all at once, or in stages? 

    Linking to: Brambleberry Cottage/ The Shabby Chic Cottage/ Coastal Charm/ Frugal & Fabulous Design/ It's a Hodgepodge Life/ A Little Knick Knack/ Fingerprints on the Fridge/ the Colorado Lady/ Fireflies and Jellybeans/ House of Hepworths

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Favorite Christmas Ornaments

    I thought I would show some of my favorite Christmas ornaments. Several of them are from my childhood. However, this first one was my mother's when she was a child:

    Newer ornaments that I've bought since we've been married.  Can you tell I like snowmen? The middle one is from Santa's Village in Jefferson, NH.  I love Santa's Village!

    Campbell's Kids ornaments from the late 1980s and 1990s.  Does anyone have these?  You had to send away the UPC labels from the soup cans to get these.
    "Hope Your Christmas is M'm! M'm!  Good and Merry."

    This is one of Handy Boy's favorite ornaments, so I had to show it here.  Good ol' Spongebob.
    Do you have some ornaments from your childhood, or ornaments that have been passed down from other family members? 

    Linking to: Coloradolady/ Craft-O-Maniac/ a little lovely/ The Shabby Nest/ somewhat simple/ Tales from Bloggeritaville/ The Shabby Chic Cottage/ Hooked on Houses/ Simple Mommy Secrets/ Trendy Treehouse/ My Backyard Eden/ We are That Family/ Blue Cricket Design/ The Gypsy's Corner/ House of Grace/ Thrifty Decor Chick/ Making the World Cuter/ It's a Blog Party/ Skip to My Lou/ Cottage Instincts/ Keeping it Simple/ It's So Very Cheri/ Between Naps on the Porch

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    Three Certainties in Life

    1. Death.
    2. Taxes.
    3. The Sears Craftsman Hand Tool Warranty.

    Handy Man recently split the handle on his hatchet.  It was an OLD hatchet.  Darn, I should have taken a picture of it.  

    Anyway, he said that Sears has a Lifetime Warranty on their hand tools.  

    The warranty states: If for any reason your Craftsman hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, return it to any Sears store or other Craftsman outlet in the United States for free repair or replacement. This warranty gives you specific legal rights and you may also have other rights which vary from state to state."

    He took his old hatchet to a Sears, and got this shiny new one:
    Remember to keep the cover on for safety, when you aren't using it.  Just in case.  So you know, if you have it on a table top, and it falls over, it won't chop into your shoe and cut your toe.  
    Not that Handy Man's ever done that before.  Just sayin'.

    Anyway, this purty new Craftsman hatchet retails for $29.99 if you need to buy a new one. 

    Handy Man had the hatchet for 30 (!!) years.  Handy Man is 39 years old.  Yes, he got a hatchet when he was 9.  Things were different then (that's what we say).  Would I give Handy Boy a hatchet at age 9?  Ummmm, let me get back to you on that one. 

    Here are some of the things Handy man does with his hatchet:
    • digging up roots
    • splitting wood
    • chopping up wood for a campfire
    • drive in tent pegs
    Of course, those last two items actually infer that we sometimes go camping.  Which we do not.  We used to, before Handy Boy...but, the thought of bringing a baby who didn't sleep very well at night camping sent shivers down our spines, so we never tried it.  And now he's older, and we still haven't tried it.  Huh.  I'll have to think about trying that next summer.
    Rob really likes that these tools are Made in the Good Old USA.

    Do you own any Craftsman hand tools?  Have you ever had to have them replaced?
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