Welcome To Our Little Big House On The Prairie

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Look Back: Our Prairie Home 2011

So, who can believe that 2011 is almost over???  Definitely not me! I tell ya, the older I get the faster the time goes!  And my mother says it only gets worse the older you get!  Gee Mom, thanks for giving me something to look forward to!  ;)

The year of 2011 brought about a lot of changes in my life.  One of which was falling in love with crafting and refurbishing furniture.  Oh, how I love the hunt for bargains, refinishing, and repurposing!  Who knew I even had a creative streak?!  Not me, that's for sure!

I initially began blogging to give myself much needed motivation on remodeling our home.  To be honest, I had really gotten overwhelmed with the never-ending list of things that need to be done to this old place... Almost to the point that I wanted to put it on the market, take a huge hit on what we paid for it, and move on.  But who could afford to do that in this economy?  Certainly not us!  Talk about frustrating!  There have been many times that being overwhelmed with this place has brought me to tears...  Little time and even less money to do what we wanted and things were just beginning to deteriorate.  NIGHTMARE!  But one day, I googled remodeling old houses and I ran across a blog.

I had heard of blogs before, but never really "got" the idea of why people would put their lives out there for perfect strangers to read.  I had no idea that there were blogs out there where people shared their crafting and remodeling ideas.  I just thought people rambled on about their boring lives and put themselves out there because they needed some kind of pat on the back from people they didn't know.  Remember I'm blond, okay?  LOL!

This was back in June and I spent a few weeks reading blogs and getting more and more excited about what I was reading.  One blog led me to another, then another, and then another.  And then a little seed was planted...  What if I started to blog?  What if it would hold me accountable to others to get things going?  What if I got some much needed moral support in this never-ending quest to remodel this pain in the butt?  But I had no clue what to do.  Some of the blogs looked so professional.  Some actually intimidated me.  I was scared.  I was totally chicken to put myself out there like that.  What could I possibly have to offer?  What if people laughed at me?  And I didn't know a thing about remodeling, except painting.  I didn't know much about anything - and really, I still don't.  But one day, I just did it.  And you know what?  I am so glad I did!

Blogging has opened up a whole new world for me.  I have made some fantastic "friends" that I look forward to chatting with and reading their comments.  These are such fantastic women that have let me into their hearts and into their homes.  You know who you are and I love you!  :)   My favorite part of every day is in the early morning quiet when I sit with my cup of coffee and read about what everyone is doing.  And comments on this blog and my Facebook page just make my day.  Its amazing just how much a part of my life blogging has become.

There are blogs that I faithfully follow because I adore their authors and some I follow that I laugh at their sense of self-importance.  One thing I promised myself when I started was that I would keep my blog "real" and I would never take myself too seriously.  I wouldn't act like I knew it all - because I don't.  I wouldn't act like my life is perfect - because it isn't.  And I hope that I have done that.

So, this is a look back at 2011 at Our Prairie Home.  Some of my early blogs, I actually giggle at because of the picture quality or things that I said.  For what its worth...  Here are the Top 10 Post of 2011 according to number of views...

2011 Our Prairie Home Top 10

My very first ever refurb.  This is the one that started it all...  Gave me confidence to do more...  And made me realize I CAN do it.  I love this little chair!  A $30 Craigslist find that I'll never part with, just simply because it was my first.  Is anyone else sentimental over their refinished furniture like that?  LOL!

9.  A Man's Got To Do...

I was actually surprised how many views this one had.  Probably had more to do with the title and less to do with the content.  LOL!  However, there are some beautiful pics of our yard that make me long for summer!  LOL!

8.  Foyer Table Reveal

Love my foyer table - which is now in my bedroom - but probably won't stay there.  I have such schizophrenia in my decorating.  LOL!  It was a boring stained oak and now has a lovely coat of white paint.  With a little distressing and glazing, this little beaut is now a little more Y2K and less 1980s.

7.  Its All About Family

I'm actually considering selling this piece.  I love it, but I'm not sure what direction I'm going to be taking my living room after I paint it.  Might keep it, might be coming to a Craigslist near you!  ;)

6.  Birthdays and Expected Blessings

This one brought tears to my eyes when I re-read it.  You can definitely hear my sorrow through my words.  And the video will probably always make me cry.  And each one of your loving comments touched my heart in ways you can't imagine -  helping to heal me even more.  Thank you!  What a wonderful father I was blessed to have.  And Landon - my heart - what a blessing you were during a time of unspeakable sorrow.  I love you, little man.

5.  A Start On A Prairie Home Christmas

Ahhhh...  It was beautiful, wasn't it?  And to think that I had no clue what I was doing when I started dragging things out.  Its amazing that pretty much everything in this picture, except for the tree and a couple of odds and ends came from a thrift store.  Even my "tree skirt" is a tablecloth!  I never even knew it was possible!! And I was amazed at how much I was hurt when someone "complimented" me on how I had taken this picture from a magazine and claimed it as my own.  But it also that gave me hope that maybe I do actually know a little bit about decorating after all.  LOL!!

4.  Rotten Potpourri, Meal Worms, And A Blond Moment

Not my brightest moment, but one of the funniest.  Thankfully, I never got poison ivy since I was pretty well bundled up.  Thank the Lord for small favors!  ;)  And I loved how my lantern wound up turning out.  That thing was N-A-S-T-Y!

3.  A Little Repurposing Goes A Long Way

Sadly, the south wall of my office no longer looks like this.  :(  Since deciding not to put anything back up after I took the Christmas decorations down, all that's left on the wall is the mantle.  But its the only way I can motivate myself to get these walls painted, darn it!  It relaxes me just looking at it.  I miss it!!

2.  DIY... Barn Window Picture Display

This cutie is how I met Shannon @ Fox Hollow Cottage when I linked it up a linky party.  We've been fast friends ever since!  One of my most favorite bloggy friends!  Love you, Shan!  And it was one of my favorite easy-peesy crafts...  Until Ian knocked it over a week before Christmas which shattered the glass and broke one of the boards off.  ARGH, KIDS!  Will wrapping all the breakable stuff in your house in a layer of bubble wrap ever be a fad???  :P

And the #1 viewed post of 2011 with 1, 714 views is:


Ahhh...  My favorite piece to date.  And the last "big" one I've tackled.  Thank you so much to Shari @ Turnstyle Vogue (another one of my lovies that I adore and follow faithfully) for egging me on and getting me to shut up and just do it! - And I didn't suck!  HA HA HA!  :)  I'm finally getting the itch to tackle another one!  It just took me 2 months to get over the hell that one put me through.  LOL!  But I tell ya what...  I now know that if I can refinish that bad boy, I can do anything!  LOL!

Well, that's it for 2011, and 2012 can only hold better and brighter things, right?  Right!  And I hope each and every one of you keep me company for the ride.  I adore each and every one of you!!  You brighten my every day!  Here's to 2012!

Wishing you a Blessed New Year 
from Our Prairie Home to Yours!


Friday's Finds #14... and Adventures With Kammy from Kammy's Korner!

Well, I think I've finally recovered from my all day outing yesterday with one of the funniest, creative, and absolutely outright awesomest people I've ever met!  What was supposed to be a few hours of junkin' and lunch, turned into an all day event.  We didn't even eat "lunch" until 4:30!  LOL!!  What an absolute blast!

For Laura, who is an old friend from back in my wild youth (I was wild, she definitely was not!  LOL!)...  Yes, you were absolutely correct.  I spent the day with Kammy from Kammy's Korner.  And we had so much fun!  I don't want her to go back to Michigan!!!!!

And let me tell ya...  She is as beautiful in person, as she is in her pictures!  She's like a little tiny china doll come to life.  LOL!  And she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside!  Just a wonderful soul and you can totally see Jesus in her.  :)  Her children as just a cute as they can be too!

I picked Kammy up around 10:30 at her parent's gorgeous home.  Her mother was absolutely gracious and welcoming.  I enjoyed visiting with her for a few moments before Kammy and I set off.  (And yes, Mrs. Hayes, I think you should paint your roll-top desk black with a tan trim (similar to your walls) and do the subway art on the sides as Kammy suggested.  It'll be beautiful!)

Kammy had done some sleuthing via Google and she had a whole entire list of places to go that I never even knew existed!  In preparation for traveling into East Waterloo, my diamond earrings, a ring, and a necklace were off.  My jeans had holes in them...  And Kammy was totally laughing at my preparation.  Hey!  You hear stories about East Waterloo!  :P

However, our first stop was Gilgens in Cedar Falls....

What a wonderful little place run by a very grumpy man.  :P  He has a bargain basement that has tons of stuff at pretty reasonable pricing, but his refusal to dicker with us had us leaving empty handed.  And I really, really wanted that bird cage too!  In fact, there were several items that I would have purchased, but a grumpy proprietor is a total turn off.  Maybe we just caught him on a bad day.  :P  I will probably try to find it by myself and see if I have any better luck the next time.  I'll let you know how that turns out.

Our next stop we headed into (dum dum dah) "The Loo"... St. Vincent DePaul Thrift.  It really wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.  LOL!  Tons of stuff, but no pricing on anything!  You must ask the people who work the store and then they tell you a price.  However, that did not deter us!

Check out this cute little handmade Christmas tree made out of cardstock paper.  Totally going to attempt this on my own next year!

I should have stocked up on Christmas items for next year, but I figured I should put my money toward items I want for the rest of the house.

While Kammy and I chatted about who our most favorite and least favorite bloggers are (We'll never tell!  LOL!), we poked and peered into every part of the store.  There was one moment where she had to drag me away from a huge selection of candlestick holders, so I couldn't give in to my fetish.  HA!  Thanks, girl!  Now, that's a true friend!  He he he!

Kammy picked up some absolute steals that I'll let her share on her blog and I can't wait to see how one in particular turns out.  If she can turn that into a treasure, I'll eat my shoe!  LOL!!!  I, on the other hand, grabbed up this gorgeous pitcher for a mere $10.00 and a little vase for $3.00...

The pitcher (although missing its bowl) is Dresden.  SCORE!

That's why I didn't even blink at the $10.00 price.  In fact, I was holding my breath while I waited for the lady to tell me the price - hoping she wouldn't take it from me and look at the bottom!  LOL!

I also grabbed a light fixture and a set of shutters, as well - but I took the picture of them with stuff from another place, so you'll have to see it below.  :)  I spent $20.00 for both of those.  Totally wishing I hadn't bought the fixture, but oh well.  I may paint it, spruce it up with some beads and such and sell it.  Probably will.

Right down the road was the W'loo Salvation Army.  I hemmed and hawed over this purchase, but for $7.50, how could you go wrong.  Plus, Kammy assured me that with a little spray paint, it would look A LOT better.  ;)  And then she promised that if I didn't like it afterward, she would buy it from me.  LOL!!!

Screams 80s, doesn't it?  A couple of little old ladies checking out thought it was beautiful and I offered it to one of them, if she wanted it.  She thought Kammy had talked me out buying it!  LOL!  Just the opposite!  She talked me into buying it!  LOL!  So, I walked out with the purchase, while Kammy got a few odds and ends too.  ;)

Our next stop, we hit the mother load!  Kammy...  thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for finding this place!

This is the best kept secret in W'loo!  Located on Vinton Street in downtown, Mart Buy The River has got to be the biggest resale shop I have ever seen!  Of course this isn't saying much since I'm new to junkin'.  LOL!  However, if you make the drive in the cold months, I suggest bundling up in a coat, hat, and gloves.    Poor Kammy lost feeling in her fingers.  Luckily, I have a nice layer of fat to keep me warm, since I didn't even have a coat.  LOL!!!!  Oh!  And bring a flashlight!

This ginormous machine shed is packed to the gills with treasures beyond your belief!  Hundreds of old doors, windows, closet doors, antique dressers, vanities, desks, tables and THOUSANDS of chairs.  I can't even begin to even describe it!  I'm talking YEARS of accumulating stuff!  It has very dim light and no heat.  And if you're a germaphobe, don't even think about setting foot in here.  Everything is pretty much covered in a layer of dirt.

This is what we saw when we walked in the door...

There's Kammy!  Isn't she gorgeous???  LOVE her style!
I think I said, "Oh my God!" several times out loud or maybe it was just in my head.  You literally could not squeeze through in several places.  I could have spent the entire day in there!  As it was, we were there for three hours, I think.  Everywhere you looked there was something fantastic.  I think the lady was a little leery of us, since we snapped off a few pictures.  We tried to explain that we were bloggers, but I don't think she really knew what that meant until we just said we had websites.

We browsed and browsed and browsed some more...  Oooing and aahhing over pretty much all of it.  The only downfall is the pricing.  My gut feeling on this is that the married couple that owns the building are hoarders, but they just have buildings to hold it all in.  This was one of four that they have.  And this is the smallest!!!  I think their prices are a little on the high side simply because they really don't care if they sell it or not.  I could be wrong though...  That was just the vibe I got.

I fell in want with a door that was $175 and I just couldn't justify buying it to lean up against a wall.  I really, really wanted an old library card catalog, but the asking price was upwards of $350.  It would have been perfect to store all my craft items in!  And they probably had 25 of them!  They couldn't come down just a little??? Hopefully, if I frequent the shop often and develop a relationship with them, I might be able to score some good deals.  I can only hope!  Not that it will deter me if they don't...  Seriously, there are some phenomenal pieces hidden within.  I just wonder how we would even begin to get them out.  We will probably have to clear a path to the front door!  There is a beautiful kidney shaped desk that I will go back and get for $75.00 though.  If you're looking for a place to go to furnish your own home, this is place to go.  But if you're looking for stuff to refinish to sell to make a profit on...  Well, I would steer clear.  Not saying that some of the pieces aren't worth the asking price...  They do have some priceless antiques in there, but some of the stuff...  Yeah.  Nuf said.

I did really enjoy talking with the lady of the business and she followed us about sharing stories, answering our questions, and even arguing with us a bit.  Kammy and I exchanged a few looks between us at some of the stuff she said.  LOL!  She really didn't like the idea of us painting the furniture, even though some of the items we talked about would absolutely have to be painted.  Kammy was laughing at me because we were discussing a buffet that had severe water damaged to the veneer that the asking price was $35 - one of the cheapest pieces we found.  Way to leave a girl, Kammy!  You were supposed to be backing me up!  Instead I hear, "Ummm...  I think I'm going to look over here."  HA HA HA!  Scaredy cat!  ;)  I think I unintentionally insulted the woman when I said the veneer would have to be removed and the top painted.  OOPS!  Not something you would want to do if you're looking to form a relationship to wheel and deal.  BUT...  Ask Kammy.  There was NO saving that piece without removing the veneer!  The lady thought we could reglue the veneer and stain it.  Yeah.  Not happening.  She did admit she had macular degeneration, so maybe she just couldn't see it as well as we could.  But, I back-pedaled like crazy when I figured that was one argument I was NOT going to win - can't alienate the owner!!!!  She definitely had her own opinions about things and painting furniture was a sacrilege.  :P

I did come out with some great finds.  I need to learn to be more like Kammy and learn to say no when something is a little high in the pricing, but all in all I'm pretty pleased with how much I spent. Towards the end, we were able to meet the woman's husband and he was quite a character in his own right.  If I had to sum up his personality, it would be good ole boy with a heck of a lot of shrewdness.  I really did like him though.  But then again, I'm a people person and I like to talk and learn things from the older generation.  He was pretty firm on the price of the $125 door and said he even had one that had a $4,000.00 price tag.  You have got to be kidding me!  But as soon as I get the opportunity, I am sooooo going back for the day.  I'm sure if I do enough digging, I can find something I can afford!  LOL!  Seriously, it almost overwhelms you.

This is what I walked away with...

The smaller set of shutters were from the thrift, but the larger shutter with the absolutely wonderful chippy paint I bought for $15.00.  It has working louvers too!  Love, love, love this!  Only bad thing was that I thought it was aqua (that's why I said bring a flashlight!) and really its green.  Thankfully, it will still go perfectly with my bedroom!  Is that not awesome?!

Going to have to seal all that lead paint with spray gloss though.

I also grabbed up this fantastically large frame that is blue and wonderful and chippy and absolutely perfect without doing a thing to it!  It still has the glass to boot!  I'm seeing a framed chalkboard...  Do you see it?  Do you see it?  Oh yeah!  Priced for $20.00, I did manage to talk him down to $15.00.  My problem is not wanting to insult the seller with too low of an offer.  I probably need to get over that.  :P

See the dirt?  Yep.  Everything is covered in it.
Kammy, on the other hand, has no compunction about saying it like it is.  I really love that about her.  She's a straight-forward as it gets!  I stifled laughing really, really loud (still smiling about it now - ha ha ha) when she was haggling with the man over one of her finds (not going to give away just what it was) and she says, "Oh c'mon.  Do you want to make a sale today or not?"  BAH HA HA HA!!!  Tiny thing that she is, but she has got moxy in spades!!! She got her price though.  ;)

I grabbed up a couple of other little things to round out my purchase and wrap things up.  I think Kammy was ready to go long before I was, but probably because she was freezing to death!  LOL

The light fixture to the left, I got at the thrift for $10 (I'm such a sucker!  :P )  The light fixture to the right, which was more what I was looking for to turn into a chandelier for Eva's room, was marked at $8.00.  That's why I wish I hadn't bought the other one!  RATS!  The scale was $10.00, but he sold them both to me for $15.00, without me even asking.  Although I probably should have dickered with him to get him down to $12.00.  There's worrying about insulting him again.  Grrrrr.

After that, since at that point we were faint from hunger, we headed to get something to eat.  Leave it to us though...  We got sidetrack by the Treasure Chest, which is a consignment shop.  There were several items that I liked including an antique chest that totally needed a coat of paint for $22.00 - someone had painted it a horrible brown and a grapevine tree for $12.00.  But, I managed to walk away without spending a thing, which never happens.  Yay for me!  Kammy picked up some awesome Christmas decor that was 80% off.  This is a fantastic little store that really has some good quality items.  They obviously are really picky about what they accept and in return, they have a very nice selection at very reasonable prices.  And since they like regular turn over of their items, items that have been there more than 2 months are half off.  Definitely something to check out if you're in the area.

Finally, we wound up at Panera for a quick bite to eat.  Kammy treated me to dinner, which was super nice of her.  THANKS AGAIN, KAMMY!  The soup tasted especially good after being in that cold building and was exactly the pick me up I needed!

Before we headed home for the day, we made one more stop at the Goodwill in W'loo.  I didn't find anything, but Kammy got a little end table for $2.50!  Nice!  I can't wait to see what she does with it.  Once in the parking lot, we took pictures of the back of my car, crammed full with all our finds for the day before it got too dark...

Of course this really doesn't show just how much we got because some stuff is crammed in the middle seats.  LOL!

And then Kammy had me howling with laughter as she scoped out the parking lot to ambush someone to take our picture together with all our loot.  BAH HA HA HA  I hid behind the car.  LMBO!  But a really nice guy humored her and snapped off a few pictures on her camera and mine.

Obviously, I'm still laughing!

Sadly, it was time to call it a day and we headed back to Kammy's parents.  I have to say it was the most fun I've had in a looooong time.  We're going to have to make this an annual tradition when she comes home for her holiday visit each year!

We unloaded her finds and her mom invited me in to show me her painted countertops that Kammy had told me about.  Oh my gosh! I am totally doing it.  They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  And the cost?  Negligible.  I may have my kitchen done by spring!  YIPPEE!!  (Only been waiting 3 years for it.  Argh.)

After hugging goodbye, I left with a smile on my face and some great memories to tide me over until next year.  If you have the opportunity to get together with a fellow blogger in your area, definitely do it.  We had the most fun!

So, Kammy...  Safe travels back to Michigan with your hubby and beautiful kiddos.  Until next year, girlfriend...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Today's the Day!

I am so super excited today!  I have been looking forward to this for about a week now, but didn't want to say anything on the off-chance that things didn't work out.  You know, how despite the best laid plans stuff comes up...

 A few months ago, I met an awesome lady after I shared my  buffet makeover at some linky party or other.  She commented on my post and asked if I'd link it up to her linky party.  And of course, I said, "SURE!"

Well, over a few snafus with her linky party button we got to talking over the following few days and even though she lives somewhere in Michigan, she grew up a mere 20 minutes from where we live!  We even know some of the same people.  What are the odds of that???  Talking about six degrees of separation!  LOL!

And guess what?!  She's here visiting her family for the holidays and TODAY we're going junking together!  WOO-HOO!

I can't tell you how very exciting that is to me.  Most of my good friends here are friends I've made through my sons' sports.  And I adore them, I really do.  We do a lot of getting together that revolves around sporting events and get together just to hang out, but none of them would probably even consider going with me to dig through piles of someone else's junk.  LOL!  The thought of one friend in particular doing it makes me LOL!!!  I've finally gotten so I don't try to keep on the DL that I love going to GW and thrift stores. And its been amazing the amount of support they've all given me - trying to talk me into opening my own store (Kevin, Karmen, Tracie, Amanda, and Niki... <3 you guys!), which has been great for my confidence as I get comfortable with my new love of refurbishing and crafting.  But its not the same as having someone to go out and share finding stuff with, or has ideas of her own and might see potential in something that I don't.  So today, I get to enjoy doing what I love doing best with one amazing person who is a fantastic crafter/refinisher in her own right.  YIPPEE!!!

I'm going to take along my camera and record a few moments.  I'm sure we'll have a hilarious time and lots of blog worthy material.

And since I'm in a mysterious kind of mood (LMBO!), I'm going to  see if you can guess who I'm going to be hanging out with today.  (Gotta save something to blog about, right?  LOL!!)

Here's a little hint:

Well...  Gotta get moving and get ready!  I hope we find tons of great stuff.  After all, tomorrow is Friday's Finds!  :D

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Backdoor Reveal

So, I started this door that sits between the kitchen and the back porch two weeks ago...  We had removed it THREE years ago and it had been sitting in the barn FOREVER waiting on me to get around to doing something with it.

As you can see, if needed A LOT of work.  Glass missing thanks to my boys.  :P  SEVERAL layers of paint.  I tried stripping...  I sanded and sanded and sanded...  I peeled off paint in strips.  And yet the very.  last.  layer. wasn't going ANYWHERE.  What did they use back in the day??? Its like it had formed a permanently hardened coating.  NOTHING took it off.  PFFT.  Story of my life with everything in this old house.  Drives me nuts!

Well, I suppose I could have put a new back door on.

It certainly would have looked BETTER.  It would have been NEWER.  But it would have lacked any PERSONALITY.

So, this is what I came up with...

Probably should have waited until Scott got the trim on to reveal it, but I've never been known for my patience.  LOL!  Plus, I'd be waiting WEEKS!  :P

I painted it white, distressed, and then glazed it.  The numbers I hand painted on using stencils.  The glass I replaced with a piece of plywood that I painted using chalkboard paint.  Works for me!

And here's the exterior side of it...

I didn't distress or glaze this side.  I'm kind of wishing I hadn't done it to the other side either, but once the kitchen gets done, it'll be perfect...  I hope.  Otherwise, there's always more paint.  ;)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Prairie Home Christmas Day Celebration

I can hardly believe that Christmas for this year is over and gone.  It just seems like I was putting up the decorations and in a week, it'll be time to take them down!  What a great time we had!  But not only did we have a lot of fun, we also learned a little this season too.  Here's a little peek into our Christmas with our family...

Christmas Eve we had an absolute blast!  This is the first year that I attempted (and succeeded) at making sugar cookies from scratch, for the children to cut out and decorate.  I have been informed that this is now a must each year!

They had such fun rolling out the dough and using the cookie cutters...

decorating (and eating) their creations.

But trying to get a good picture of all them afterward is like attempting to get a clear shot of the Lochness Monster.  LOL!

This was about all that was left out of 7 dozen!  LOL!

Just another day in the life.  HA HA HA!

After we baked and decorated cookies, we had our traditional opening of presents from Scott and I.  We read about the birth of Christ and answered some of the questions they inevitably have about the circumstances of His birth.  Then it was present opening time.  This year we decided to get them books.  Epic FAIL.  Greyson likes his.  Ian had already read his.  Noah had already read his.  Eva liked her Shel Silverstein book, except it wasn't purple (her favorite color).  And Landon...  Well, he said his book was a baby book.  Well, son...  You ARE still a baby.  Guess he doesn't think so.  LOL!  Better luck next year!  :P

Then, we all settled down to watch "A Christmas Story" and the antics of Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB Gun.  We LOVE this movie and have watched it every year since Greyson was about 8.

Finally, it was time to get them settled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums (or rather cop cars, Moxy Girls, XBOX games, and Lord knows what) danced in their heads.  Christmas Eve is the best night of the year for getting all the little stinkers to go to bed at a decent hour.  Within 30 minutes, not one was awake.    YAY!  ;)

After waiting about an hour to be sure they were good and quiet, we ran over to Scott's parents to get the "stash", came back home, and waited another hour just to make good and sure they weren't faking it.  LOL!  When I started pulling the presents out of their bags and grouping them according to who they belonged, I realized we were missing some.  ARGH!  This meant another high speed dash to the in-law's to grab the other presents we had hidden inside their house.  Finally...  At about 12:30am, I was able to commence wrapping.

Fortunately, it didn't take me too long, as their "big" gift was unwrappable (in my world, that is a word).  Finally, Santa Claus had come...

I have to admit I was a little worried this year about how our Santa Claus's presents would be received.  Not only because we I  had declared a technology-free Christmas (which Scott thought was a huge mistake), but also because we had cut our Christmas budget by more than half.  I don't know about y'all, but we often way overspend.  An average Christmas the past few years has usually run us upwards of $1500 and since we buy nothing on credit, this really leaves us hurting the rest of the winter, since our business is seasonal.  This year, since I am often the major buyer of presents, I said enough is enough.  This craziness of trying to out-do what we did the year before had to stop before the only they didn't have yet was a car!  And since I've been seeing a huge case of the "Gimmes" with my kiddos, I knew if we didn't stop now, we never would.  Needless to say, I was totally holding my breath the next morning.

So, the kiddos awoke us bright and early (in which I was zombified as I crawled into bed at 3:30am) the next morning, excited to see what Santa had brought them.  This was a really fun Christmas, as Eva was so "into" the idea of Santa Claus and had really pumped Landon up for it too.  This is really the first year that he understood what was happening.

First, Greyson read a letter from Santa (giving me little eye rolls in the process), while I tried to stifle the giggles from the other two little non-believers with meaningful looks glares.  Then the opening of presents commenced in force:

After they opened all of their presents, they each read out loud a little clue Santa had left tucked inside their stockings...

The younger two of the four just stood there kind of puzzled.  Greyson blurted out, "A vehicle."  Darn good guess.  And then Ian says, "A bike!"  I smile and nod and they all go running for the west door that leads out to the driveway and barrel outside with bare feet and no coats on to see my answer to a technology-free Christmas...

I'm pretty sure it was a hit...

And I totally breathed a sign of relief - and kind of gloated that I had proved Scott wrong.  LOL!

While, I think they were a little disappointed that they didn't come downstairs to the mounds of gifts that they're used to or super expensive, high-priced items we've allowed them to expect over the years, they never said a word.  And you know what?  We're never going back to that.  Ever.  We survived, and dare I say enjoyed a simpler Christmas.  No worries about how we're going to pay our bills for the next couple of months.  No worries about how in the world are we going to out do ourselves the next year.  Just a simple, back to the basics Christmas where the focus is the why we are celebrating, instead of how much we can spend celebrating.  And we also gave our kids a more reasonable expectation for when they become adults themselves, instead of perpetuating a future where they feel the need to out-do and give their children more than what we gave them.

The rest of the day was spent lounging on the couch, playing games, watching movies, and not doing a single thing but enjoying the day.  Needless to say, the living room looked like a tornado went through it...

But we had a blast!

And instead of killing myself cooking our traditional Christmas dinner of ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the like... And instead of spending the entire day in the kitchen and not being able to enjoy spending time with the kids, I did this instead...

About a simple as it gets:  Paper plates, a roll of paper towels, sweet tea, homemade cocktail sauce, and a great big aluminum pan of Chesapeake Bay Seasoned Spiced Shrimp.  It took less than an hour to prepare:  5 lbs of shrimp, 3 lbs of red potatoes, and 24 ears of corn.  Done.  Ian informed me that this must be the new tradition and everyone else nodded because their mouths were full.  LOL!  Music to a momma's ears!  ;)  Of course, we usually spend Christmas with Scott's family, so this won't be the norm, but I did tell them we would definitely make this our Christmas Eve dinner, if that's what everyone wanted.  LOL!  There wasn't a single bite left after everyone was finished and everyone was stuffed.  No leftovers to deal with either!  SCORE!  ;)

Lesson learned this Christmas:  Sometimes breaking with tradition is a good thing all the way around.  :D

Sooooo, that's how we spent our Christmas....  How was yours this year?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guest Blogging @ Turnstyle Vogue

Today's a great day!  Four days and counting until Christmas!  Are ya ready yet?  I think I finally am - after a mad sprint to W'loo last night and frantic rushing.  Thanks for all your advice yesterday ladies!  It definitely made me think and I think I've won the technology-free Christmas challenge!  YAY ME!  (You'll have to wait until after Christmas to see what I decided.)

Last week, one of my favorite bloggers that I ritually stalk flattered me and asked if I would be willing to guest blog over at her place.  The subject matter:  Christmas Traditions.  Well, she didn't have to ask twice!  My first guest blog!  And from one of my most favorite bloggers to boot!  WOO-HOO!

So, today I'm blogging over at Turnstyle Vogue.  Shari is absolutely fantastic and I am often in awe at her eye for style and color.  And what she can do with furniture...  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

I am joined in Shari's Traditions Week by Mandy from The Project Queen, Cassie from Primitive and Proper, and fellow former Iowan and friend, Kammy from Kammy's Korner.  What fantastic company I'm in!

So, please stop over at Turnstyle Vogue and read about all of our different and endearing family traditions.  Be sure to tell Shari I sent ya!  ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Taking The Challenge: A Technology-Free Christmas

Oh my gosh!  This week is flying by.  I've got about a bazillion things yet to do.  This year, my procrastinator streak really bit me in the hiney.  Plus, we've an some "ah-hah" moments that have really limited what our buying options are for our older boys.

Here's where I'm at...

Landon is done.  Eva is done.  But the boys...  Yeah.  What do you buy a 9, an 11, and an almost a 13 yr. old boy?  Ian wanted an iPod Touch...  We bought one, only to return it because of a certain event the other night that proved to us he's really not ready for that kind of responsibility.  Texting on your brother's phone at 10:30 p.m. under your covers when you're supposed to be asleep????  Really???  I don't even want to talk about the meltdown that ensued.  HUGE, folks.  Just because I demanded that he surrender the phone to me.  REALLY!  You would have thought I was cutting off his right hand!  Now, I feel like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.  Remember him?  Except its "No iPod for you!  Next!"  :P

Let's look back at how far society has come...   For me, it was a book and a flashlight.  For them, its texting or the TV or the XBOX or the iPad.  At least the reading was improving my mind!  Ian wanted the iPod Touch.  Hmmmm...  Not gonna happen now.  So, now we have to figure something else out.  Noah said the only thing he wanted was his DSi XL fixed...  That's the only thing he could think of!  OMG.  Seriously???  Greyson wants a basketball hoop and a new ball...  That's reasonable.  However...  We live in Iowa.  Its winter time.  All he'd be able to do is look at it in the box for 5 months before the ground thaws enough to be able to concrete it into the ground.  He's just going to have to wait until his birthday for that one.  ARGH.  But at least it wasn't another piece of technology

To be honest, I am sick of technology.  It sucks up all of our time.  It takes us away from time that should be spent as a family.  As an adult, I can self-impose time limits on the amount of time I spent online.  And even as an adult, I find that difficult.  How many times have I been sucked into other people's blogs, Facebook, and do I dare mention it...  Pinterest.  If I, as an adult, have a hard time and I know the boundaries, what about children who haven't learned that yet?  Kids...  Its a whole 'nother ball game.  Especially my kids.  If they're not watching TV, they're texting.  If they've not texting, they're on the computer.  If they're not on the computer, they're on the XBOX.  And just for fun, let's also throw in the school endorsed iPads.  Grrrrrr!  I feel like I never "see" my children!

After a lot of reflecting the last couple of weeks, Scott and I decided to have a technology-free Christmas this year.  Last year they got an XBOX (bane of my existence) and Greyson got a cell phone.  The year before, it was their flat screen (another bane of my existence - Parents:  Keep the TV out of your kids' bedrooms!)  I feel like I spend half my time coaxing them out of their bedroom to spend some time with us or chastising them to turn them off at bedtime.  Noah:  "Just wait until my man dies, Mom." (Yeah, two hours LATER.)  Ian:  "But I've been waiting for this game all week!" (Its every sports game, no matter what the season.)  Greyson:  "But I'm right in the middle of this show." (There's ALWAYS a show on!)  And just for fun let's throw in the inevitable arguing because one wants to watch TV and another wants to play XBOX.  And the other half of my time is spent chasing them away from one piece of technology, only to have them go to another.  Is this really what our family has become???

So, this year I have decreed a technology-free Christmas.  Scott thinks I'm certifiable.  That within a day I will driven insane with bored children who have nothing to do.  And it will probably take a while for all of us to get used to it.  But.  I am sticking to my guns.  There will be absolutely not one single thing that promotes technology.  No video games.  No iPods.  No movies.  No iTunes cards.  No nothing.  The computer will be locked down.  I have already told Ian and Greyson, but have yet to break it to Noah.  It didn't go over with them too well and we even had a few tears.  Noah is by-far the most addicted to the XBOX, so I'm bracing for a nuclear explosion.  And that's not all...  The day after Christmas (I'm not a TOTAL grinch - I'll at least wait until the day after),  their TV is being taken out of their room.  I can't remember the last time we all sat down together and watched something - and that's sad.  The XBOX is being removed from the house all together.  Its going to be a tough Christmas break - for them.  For me...  I'm really, really looking forward to spending some quality family time with my kiddos...  If they're not ignoring me because of this total shift in the family dynamic.

You may wonder where this epiphany came from.  Why the 180* turn?  Well, I was going through some old videos that I've thrown together the last couple of years and I came across this:

I've watched it a gazillion times in the past week.  And that was a year ago...  They've changed even so much since then!  Where has the time gone????  It just seems like yesterday Scott and I were newly married.  Then came the babies one right after the other.  Then they all started school and then came the sporting events and the never-ending running, running, running.  I spent all of 5 minutes home yesterday and barely saw any of them at all.  Savanna is now 17, all grown up, living out on the east coast, has a job, and will be starting her first semester of college in January.  Yesterday she was my baby!  There are so many things nowadays that compete with my time with my children.  School, I can't control.  Sports is something they love and I don't want to limit.  Technology...  Well, that I can do something about.  I do not want them to look back on their childhoods and only have memories of TV shows and XBOX games and absolutely none of family time spent together.  Its time to simplify life a little bit and get back to the basics.  Back to what really matters.  Each other.  So...  Here we are.

Some of you may be wondering why I let it happen in the first place.  Or you might ask why I didn't realize it sooner.  Well...  being a slave to technology is something that happened over years.  It kind of just snuck up on us.  It began by adding one piece at a time, until suddenly we just realized that we have been inundated by it.  Its been a slippery slope and one that we now find our family at the bottom of - in a gigantic messy heap.  I am just so glad that the Lord has put it on my heart to do something about it - before technology raises my children for me.

However, this revelation has also brought about a big conundrum:  What in the world do we get the boys this year for Christmas????  My sons have never been ones to play with Legos or other "toys".  They have all the sporting equipment they need.  They have so many clothes (its hand me down heaven around here), that they don't need anything in that department.  I am completely at a loss.  Its really sad that I can't think of a single thing that they would like that isn't technology related.  So.  Here I am.  Its five days before Christmas and I have NOTHING.  They're getting books from us because thankfully they've all inherited my love of reading - well, except for Ian, but he's still getting books.  He will convert!  LOL!  There's the prerequisite pajamas, underwear, and socks that they know to expect from us.  But anything else?  No clue.

So...  I'm asking for some help in coming up with ideas for presents.  Yes, I am so desperate for ideas that I'm reaching out to all of my friends in the blogosphere.  I know y'all won't let me down!  :)

Until then...  I'm sitting here wracking my brain because I refuse to be sucked into buying them video games or iPods or anything else technology related because I can't think of anything.  Ugh.  And that's how I really know things must change - and fast!  :P

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday's Finds... #13

I absolutely, positively cannot believe its Friday already!  This week just flew by and I was non-stop on the go for all of it!  I don't think I've ever let a week go by without posting at least a few times!  Sorry, y'all!

This week's pickin's  for Friday's Finds is a little slim.  If you're following me on Facebook, you'll know that last week, I had a minor incident that involved a can of paint...

Yeah...  Don't shake a paint can AFTER you loosen the lid!  LOL!  What I didn't take picture of was me covered in paint - hair, arm, and leg.  Ugh.  I immediately threw all my clothes in the wash and didn't remember until the cycle was halfway through that I had stuck my cell phone in my pocket.  GREAT.  So, guess what I had to spend money on 2 weeks before Christmas?  That's right a cell phone.  And then last night, our fan broke on our furnace.  Fa-la-la-la-laaaaa  La La La... Bah-Humbug!

So, let's just say there isn't a lot of thrifting going on, but more like being thrifty.  Extremely so.

Here are the very few finds that I haven't shared, that I've gotten this week and some that were delivered last week...

I haven't really decided where to put these ice skates yet, so for now they're hanging on a decorative ladder.  I haven't had much time for anything this week!  I got these from Shabby Chatue for $20.00 + Shipping.  They need a little embellishing.  Hopefully, I can get around to some glaze and glitter before next weekend!  Or maybe, I'll put a little less stress on myself and leave them for something to do next year.  ;)

The silver platter I found stashed in a cupboard in our kitchen hutch.  LOL!!  I'd completely forgotten about it!  The book is a German Hymnal copyright 1867 in Deutschland (Germany).  $2.50 at the thrift store!  Its amazing what people just give away.  I can't read a single word of it, but still!  What an awesome piece of German heritage!

I stole this cloche from Shannon @ Fox Hollow Cottage when she posted it on her Facebook page.  Yes, Shannon...  I just admitted I stole it from you.  Just so you know, its a bit more turquoise than aqua, so you probably wouldn't have like it as much anyway.  LOL!  I may have to tone it down some with some white paint...  or something.  $22.00 + Shipping from Etsy.  The name of the store is Turquoise Rollerset.  For some reason the link repeatedly wouldn't work.  :(  If you love turquoise, this is your girl!  :D

I got these fantastic frames from Annette's Vintage Blanket Bingo. I love the color and the glazing.  Fantastic!  $8.00 each + Shipping.  These will be perfect for my gallery wall!

I got this lovely at the thrift for a mere $3.00.  I am beginning to believe I have a slight candleholder fetish.  If it has any design and heft to it, I snatch it right up.  I think my current count is 12.  LOL!  But I suppose it won't technically be a "problem" unless my collection starts numbering in the hundreds.  How's that logic for you?  He he he!

And last but not least, I promised the diva that we would make homemade sugar cookies, cut them out with cookie cutters, and decorate them with icing and sprinkles....

Since in my 17 years as a parent I have always relied on Pillsbury, I didn't have one single cookie cutter.  So, off to the thrift I went and picked up a few of them for $0.25-$0.50 each.  Of course, after I bought them Scott tells me that his mother has tons somewhere.  Go figure.  Oh well...  They can always be used for Christmas decorations.  LOL!  And if anyone can tell me what the one in the foreground is supposed to be, I'd appreciate it.  Scott says its an angel.  I think its supposed to be Santa with his sack on his back.  What do you think????

And on that note...

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!  Saturday I'll be enjoying a day of Christmas baking with my little girl, but the rest of the time it'll be wrestling, wrestling, and more wrestling.  :D

Until next week...