Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Gift Overload

I read the article by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom too late to make any changes this year, but next year there will be a new attitude for Christmas gifts. She talks about the 3 gifts: something to read, something to wear and something they need! What a great idea and, as a good Catholic mom, I can remind the kids of the 3 gift Jesus received at his birth. All the nuns at Epiphany would be so proud of me!!
My sister asked me during the 5th Christmas gathering if the kids got everything on their list. It only took me a moment to realize the answer was YES! OMG! Isn't there suppose to be a recession?! Does this make me a bad mom OR a great mom? I think neither, but I was still embarrassed by the fact that they were so overindulged. Now...not all the things on their list were brought by Santa or given by me and hubby. The grandparents and aunts/uncles chose from the list also. But still...everything on their lists!
So next year will be different. No more adding up money spent and number of gifts under the tree. Instead, a more practical approach to gift giving...3 for everyone!
I do have to share a proud mommy moment. L wanted a 2 wheeled scooter more than anything. It was not under the tree on Christmas Eve morning. She recognized that it was not there and simply said she would just ask for it again next year. I was SO proud! Maybe I am doing something right. (She got the scooter 2 days later from Grandpa Hof!)

*Santa made his deliveries a day early because my crazy job required me to work 24 hours on Christmas this year. The kids didn't seem to mind!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kitchen Dreams

I LOVE my new house but there are still many unfinished (& yet to be started) projects. The biggest is the kitchen. It is spacious with numerous cabinets and a large pantry. The problem is that it is not my style. The light cabinets and counter tops, the ugly wallpaper...all not me.

Well, I have found my inspiration!!!

Isn't she pretty?! I have loved her for years now, but would never spend the money for her. Since moving into the new house, I have been cooking and baking a lot more. I think it is because we have such an open floor plan so I don't feel disconnected from the kids when I'm in the kitchen. OR maybe it is because the girls are in school ALL DAY! is the KitchenAid Artisan 5qt. mixer! SIGH! Hubby gave it to me as an early Christmas present and I LOVE IT! I love him, too!

Now on with the inspiration...the color. It is that beautiful deep blue that I adore. From this, I have developed a plan for my entire kitchen! Crazy? I don't think so.

This dining room is from Country Living. I think the fabrics are fantastic! I must find them! I love toile, even though I don't have any in my home. Well here is my chance to go crazy!

This kitchen layout looks a lot like mine. I love the creamy cabinets and the accent pieces. This, too, must be mine! I must start looking for white plates and roosters!

So...French Country it is!

Funny things is...I was planning this post since I got the mixer and just got around to writing it. Yesterday The Nester and Susie Harris both wrote about their kitchens and BOTH had beautiful roosters and white plates for me to gaze at. The Nester also had slipcovers on her chairs that I am extremely jealous of.

Enough already!

That is the inspiration but the actual creation may be months or more off. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Gift with Heart

This was not an easy Christmas for my family. After losing mom in January, I dreaded the holidays. She made Christmas SOOO unbelievable with her parties, cooking and gifting. She never left anyone out!
I decided in November that this would not be a Christmas of tears because that would be contrary to everything that my mom was about. So my focus turned to my kids and family. It actually made the holidays easy to get through. I have lots of distractions with 5 year old twins and a 2 year old that finally understood the concept of Santa. Who could be sad surrounded by so much love?
Then I received a special gift from my LONG time friend, Jenni Hunstad. She gave me a book of mom's recipes. Most pages had pictures of mom and recipes in her handwriting. How special and what a surprise! The tears did come but they didn't last long. There were memories of meals we had with these recipes and that brought smiles. I can't thank Jenni enough. It must have taken a lot of time for her to gather the photos and recipes behind my back, organize them and then have the book published. Thanks!

This is her lasagna recipe. It was always what I chose for my birthday dinner!
Check out the hair!

This photo is of mom in Hawaii. She really LOVED the sun! Funny thing is...this recipe is mine. I guess she wrote it down when I gave it to her. It is for cucumber salad that was almost like Grandma Torlina's.

Thanks, Jenni, for always being one of my strongest supporters and shoulder to cry on! I love you!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Date Night

My hubby and I are truly children of the 80's. We love hair bands and parachute pants, Aquanet and big hair. We were high school sweethearts, so danced to many Bon Jovi and Journey songs at school dances. (I sound like an old woman!)
Last week I won tickets from STLMommy for Stone in Love concert. It's tribute bands for Journey and Bon Jovi! Yeah!! We dropped the kids off at Grandma and Papa's and out on a date we went. First was dinner at Trailhead in St. Charles and then off the concert.
Hubby and I LOVE to people watch and this was like hitting the jackpot. There were people there of EVERY age! People brought their toddlers and grandmas! Very interesting! We actually felt really young based on the average age in the arena. There might be a new hole in the ozone from all the hairspray used that night!
Then the music started...Bon Jovi tribute band first. We laughed a lot and sang some too. The lead singer was hysterical, although I don't think that was his intent. He was a little pudgy and not sexy AT ALL...unlike Jon Bon Jovi who is SOOOO sexy! The band was really very good and we had a great time listening to music from the early days of our relationship.

Next was the Journey tribute band Stone in Love. The singer sounded a lot like Steve Perry and we really enjoyed it. I think some of the concert goers had quite a bit to drink by then and everyone was lively (trying to be nice here!). By the way, Steve Perry is not sexy, so he doesn't get a photo!
We had a great time, so thanks to Kim for the great giveaway!!

I have ton to tell about Christmas, but this seemed more important today!!!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Getting Ready for the BIG Night

I do my best to include the kids when I cook. I have to admit that there is a lot of prayer and forced smiles to get through it. My mom always pushed us out of the kitchen saying she could get done faster by herself. I know it would be faster but I have lots of working mom guilt so I try to include them whenever I can.

I have never done sugar cookies before and I'll think again before doing them next year. What a mess!!

Oops! The secret is out! Let's face it...anything to save some time and aggravation! Plus, they taste good.

We did make the chocolate chip cookies from scratch. It was my first chance to use my new KitchenAid mixer! Yeah for early Christmas presents!

Finally, all ready for Santa. We opened Christmas presents a day early. I have to work on Christmas, so Santa made a special trip just for us!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Open House

Just wanted to give a brief look around the house for the holidays. It was hard to decorate the new house. The tree now seems too small and there doesn't seem to be enough of anything. It's OK with will be a project that I can add to over the years. Rome wasn't built in a day!

The yellow butterfly ornament was made by Grandma Hof. I don't know what grade I was in but the great hair was already there! HA!HA! The star was made by Sandy for the boy's first Christmas. She is wonderful about carrying on the traditions started by Grandma Hof. Thanks, Sandy!

Another ornament hand painted by Grandma Hof dated 1976. (I really need a better camera!)

I started collecting Nativity Scenes a few years after getting married. This one is from my trip to Europe with mom. I bought it in Prague. It is made out of corn husks. Mom would often bring nativities home for me after a trip.

Stocking sewn by Grandma Hof. Sandy has also continued this tradition for all of the kids.

A pretty tree with cardinals and a nest hidden inside. This was mom's and I always loved it. It sits in the middle of the great room and reminds me of her everyday!

A simple collection of snowmen.

Susie Harris, I have big pine cones too!

This sled was Grandma Torlina's. I have always used it to hold my Christmas cards. I think she did the same.

Another dollar store snowflake. I seemed to have found many places to put them!

When I look at the photos I chose to include, most dealt with family and holiday memories. Family is what the season is all about. Hubby and I have tried really hard this year to have love of family and the Lord be the main focus in our home. I hope that my children will have many memories to cherish of their time with me at the holidays. My home is filled the memories of the women who taught me the importance of family and tradition. Thank you for the lessons learned.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Card

If you were not on my card list, here is the card I sent out. SO CUTE!! As you can see, the boy refused to cooperate with getting his picture taken. There was a lot of bribery and begging, but the answer remained "No, mommy! I not get picture!" Too bad you can't see his baby blues! The girls, of course, were ready to pose...too ready! That is the most natural picture I could get out of the supermodels.
The card idea came to me but I have no computer skills to create this on my own. Google I went. I googled "Naughty or nice Christmas card" and this is what I found. Yeah for Google!!
Amanda is the owner of an Etsy shop called PaperRamma. In less than 24 hours she created this custom card for me with the colors and wording I requested. The original card in her shop was pink and brown with 3 photos. She even helped me get the photos printed at my local Walgreens!! Now that is customer service!
Go over and look through her store. She has wonderful ideas and is so creative. I have already have ideas for next "Favorite Things." "Unwrapped" would be perfect for any new parent.
Like the old saying says, "When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade!"

Boot Crisis Solved

Here they are...L's boots for Christmas! They really are cute! They will look so good with jeans or skirts after Christmas is over.
Don't ask how much. It is more than I would ever spend for kids' shoes, but this was a crisis situation! Just know it took a trip to Nordstrom's to solve the problem!!
I love my hubby. He only complained a little when I told him how much!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Love of the game

It's basketball season!! More basketball season and I couldn't be happier!
My love for the University of North Carolina Tarheels has been going on for as long as I can remember. It actually started with Michael Jordan and the love affair has no end in sight! It's so bad that my license plates say "TARHLS." I have to explain this to many of my friends and neighbors. A girls from Missouri that loves Carolina basketball! But for me, it feels like part of my DNA.

To make things better, the star player for the Tarheels is Tyler Hansbrough of Poplar Bluff, MO. Yes...I said MISSOURI! Tyler became the leading scorer in Carolina history last night and that is no small feat given the talented players that have played on the hardwood at the Dean Dome. Congratulations, Tyler! Players like you keep my LOVE for the game alive!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mom, are my boots here yet???

This year for Christmas, the girls chose really lovely dresses from Hanna Andersson. They are great dresses. They coordinate with each other, but don't match. Each girl gets to be her own person. O even wanted her hair with the little braid like the blonde in the photo. How sweet!
I had already bought these great boots for O when they were on clearance at Gymboree. I decided that the dress and the boots needed to meet...and so a fabulous Christmas ensemble was born.

But wait...I have TWIN girls. Now L needed the same boots! Off the Ebay I go. I won a pair of the boots in her size and I waited. And waited. And waited. I emailed the seller and she had sent them the day after the auction ended. Then I check with the USPS on line. It said "dead mail." WHAT IS DEAD MAIL??!! It turns out that something must have gone terribly wrong with the package. I believe the boots became separated from the box. The horror! Now Christmas is almost here and poor L has nothing for her pretty little feet!

To be continued...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

I have many guilty pleasures in my life but the biggest is my addiction to BravoTV. SO MUCH TO LOVE!!! The Real Housewives of Orange County is what started it all for me. I love the clothes and homes. I love to see how rich people spend their days and nights. For me, it is a peek into a different world. It's a world that I don't need to be a part of, but I am very curious about.

Then last Tuesday's episode stuck a cord for me. It was no longer these characters living a crazy lifestyle, but real people with real problems. When I saw Gretchen learning to give Jeff TPN for nutrition, I had a very real flashback to the day Melanie and I learned it for my mom. I remember Melanie taking notes so that she didn't miss a step and we could later teach Sandy . I remember being nervous about it, even though I'm a nurse and had done it hundreds of times for others. I remember mom asking us to keep giving it to her in her final days because she didn't want to starve to death. All of these very real emotions came back to me. Caring for a sick family member is the hardest thing you will do in your life. It is also the most rewarding. Gretchen certainly has the means to hire someone to do these things, but chooses to do it herself. So to Gretchen, gold-digger or not, I send you warm wishes for continued strength to help the one you love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Magazine Crush

I have a full blown magazine crush going on!! I think I first heard about Wisteria from Wendy at The Shabby Nest. I received the Holiday Gift Catalog in the mail last week and have not been able to put it down. They have such great items! You should go over and take a look!

I think Grandma Hof had these choir children. Hers may have been ceramic, but it brought back a lot of great memories of Christmas at her house. What a neat lady! So creative and talented. I, however, have none of that in my DNA.
So neat how they put the stockings in a group instead of strung out.
Finally, the church from the Christmas village. I love the entire series! Hint! Hint! Did I mention that they are having a great sale with up to 75% off holiday decor? This sweet church is only $19.60??!!
Enjoy your day!! It's a cold day here. If you have the same weather... make a fire, drink hot chocolate and explore your magazine crush!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Copy Cat 2

Here I go again...copying for my own good. This beautiful idea is courtesy of Susie Harris at Bienvenue.... If you have never visited her blog, I encourage you to take a look at this creative lady's work.

What do you think? Not too bad if I do say so myself. I even found the same snowflake ornaments at the dollar store!

See the tassel hanging in the middle? That is from NoGreaterGift at Etsy. She makes great tassels and was even having a SALE!! I can't pass up a good bargain! Maybe Santa will bring more at Christmas...

Again, it's a work in progress. I think the ribbons are too long and hide the tassel, but I can't bring myself to cut them. I seem to have a problem with long ribbons...and bad photography!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Copy Cat

Anyone that knows me well, knows that I have ZERO artistic talent. However, I am a great copy cat! This Pottery Barn image has been hanging around my desk for a couple of months waiting to be copied. See the garland hiding behind the bed? That is what inspired me! I have been gathering small boxes for a few weeks now and thinking about paper and ribbon. I have thought about the colors I want and just the right place to hang it.

Just look at its beauty....who would not want to create such a garland in their own home??!! Too bad I'm not on time for the Holiday Garland Show & Tell at The Nesting Place. Maybe next year I can be more prepared!

Well, here is my interpretation.....

WOW...I really need a better camera!!!!!!

I don't think it is done yet. I don't care for the longer ribbons and I might stretch it out a little further so it doesn't hang so low.

Thanks to hubby for helping me hang it!! He didn't even complain after working all day in temps in the teens and then coming home to help his silly wife hang MORE Christmas decorations!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two busy days

Saturday we hosted a party for a few of my work friends and their families. We had a great time thanks to the hubby! I had worked the day before and it was a busy day. I only got about 4 hours of sleep but he had cleaned the house on Saturday for me and helped me cook before my nap.
The party ended at 11:00 PM...very late for 3 little kids and their mom. We didn't even clean up the mess!!

For anyone that knows how "type A" I am, you know how hard it was for me not to have the kitchen clean before bed. Linda would have never left this mess until morning!

Even my pantry wasn't quite right!

Did I mention what a mess the playroom was??

Of course, I was up early and all was right in the world again!

Then Sunday morning was off to breakfast with Santa. I thought before we left I should take the kids picture in their Christmas outfits and FINALLY get a Christmas card put together. Boy was I wrong!! Timothy refused to cooperate. Did you know he is 2??!! I found a creative way to make his bad behavior work in my favor. More on that later.

Although, a chocolate donut can make everything better!!

The girls also sang at church in the morning. What a great job they did! I'm so proud of them. Keep up the good work, girls! You make me proud!