Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Decorations 2011

Gracie was so excited to start decorating the house for Christmas this year.  She loved helping to hang all of the ornaments.

Of course, anything that Gracie does then Caleb wants to do, too.

Since I had pics of the other two putting ornaments on the tree, I had to have one of Kanin, too.  Can't you tell how excited he was to take this picture?  Actually, he did kind of "get" in to it.

For the family room tree, I went with my gold, silver, and angel ornaments.

Since the family room tree is gold, I decided to go with gold on the mantel, too.  

I got this Nativity set a few years ago from hosting a Partylite party.  I love it and each piece in the set holds a tea light.

I had to put the kids' crafts out.  I put them on the piano with a red garland behid.  We will be having another Christmas craft night in a couple of weeks that I will add to these.

I bought a Gingerbread house that we are going to do tomorrow night that is going to go right in the center of the buffet.  (I'll post more pics when it is finished.)

Here is the downstais bathroom.

I love this little Christmas tree that I found at Dollar General for $3!!

The toy room tree is a sad little thing but I think it is very sweet, too.  I didn't put a lot of effort into making it "pretty" because I figure that it will probably end up on its side sometime during the Christmas season.  I put multi-colored lights on that Gracie thought was great.

This tree holds the ornaments that the kids have either made or received over the years.  (Pay no attention to the drawing on the wall.  Caleb still hasn't figured out that we write on paper)

I found these sweet letter ornaments last year at Kohl's. 

I bought all of these ornaments before I had a little girl but I fell in love with them.  This year I decided to put it together and put it in Gracie's room.  I can't wait to fid some more "girly" ornaments to add to it.

This banner belonged to Scott's mom and dad and he said that his mom would hang it every year at Christmas time.  

I have a few more things to put out but, for the most part, it is complete.

Thanksgiving Recap

It has been a crazy week.  Do you guys feel like things have just kind of crept up on you?  I sure do.  It already seems like Thanksgiving was so long ago and I'm in full Christmas hustle and bustle now.

So, here's a recap:

We had all of our family over to our house for Thanksgiving. This year we had a group of 20. (there were a few missing)

Here's a dark picture (taken with my phone) early on Thanksgiving morning. 

Normally for family get togethers we all just sit where ever we can find a spot but for Thanksgiving, I like us all to be sitting at one table as a family.  The last couple of years I put the food out on the table but it was too much of a hassle to pass it all around so this year I set up food and drinks in the dining room and we did a buffet.

I cooked my cranberry glazed turkey again this year but, I have to be honest, I don't think it was as good and juicy as in years past.  I think it is because I cooked a 20lb turkey this year and every other year I had only a 15 or 16lb one.  I think next year I will either cook 2 smaller ones or maybe go back to a 15 or 16lb turkey and then also have a ham or brisket on the side.

I also tried out 2 other new recipes and they were fantastic.  If you are looking for a couple of recipes over the holiday season, check these out:


We had quite a spread of homemade macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, potato casserole, corn, mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, cranberry minis, cranberry relish, and rolls.  Not to forget some fantastic homemade desserts, too!

The kids had a great time playing with their second cousin, Kenzie, who lives up in Chicago.

 We ended the night by Gaga reading "The Elf on the Shelf" just like every other Thanksgiving evening.

(Please ignore Gracie's look-hahah!)

The difference this year, though, is that we could not find our elf, Chuckie.  We looked and looked so early on Friday morning (the first day he was supposed to appear), I had to run out to Target to buy a new elf.  Scott sent all of the kids into every, single room looking for Chuckie so when Susie and I got back from Target we hid him in the laundry room and it just happened to be the last room they looked in. 

Mission Accomplished!  They were so happy to have finally found Chuckie!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A recycled slipcover as a dog bed

Guest post written by Martha Andrews

I'm all about reusing the things that I already have in my home to come up with all different types of new things. It's not only fun but it's also just a smart move too. It doesn't hurt that it helps pinch some pennies too! Well I thought that my next project could be to make a bed for my dog. He's been sleeping on an old sofa cushion that we have and I'm honestly embarrassed for anyone to see it when they come over and visit our house.

I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to get a nice dog bed, especially before we have all this company over for the holidays. I looked online with wireless internet Los Angeles to see if I could find some great dog beds that would look nice in our home.

Then I found an idea for a slipcover dog bed. I stashed an older one that I had in my closet and I pulled that out and used ti to make a dog bed. It was pretty simple and I didn't have to worry about finding some fabric for the dog bed that matched my decor.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Norton Provides Internet Security

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Norton Small Business by Symantec for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you ever had any of your accounts get hacked?  Recently, my PayPal account was hacked.  The person spent over $500 and I spent several hours on the phone trying to get the whole thing sorted out.  I don't understand people who have nothing better to do with their time than to mess up people's lives on the internet.

After getting that mess figured out, I knew that I had to find some way to protect my computer from future pirates.  I found Norton Small Business by Symantec

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Unanswered Questions

Yesterday morning I received a call that a girl I knew had taken her own life. 

The last 24 hours have been somewhat of a blur.

"Jane" and I were not what I would call friends but we were friendly.  We saw each other several times a year and kept up with each other's lives on Facebook making an occasional comment here and there but we didn't call each other or go out on our own mostly just because of geography and being busy with our own lives.  No matter our relationship, it was devastating to hear the news.

There are so many questions that I guess will always be unanswered. So many things that I cannot comprehend or understand.  Questions and images that won't get out of my head.

Even from a removed distance from her, I have experienced so many emotions over the past almost 24 hours. 

Shock-just utter and total shock

Sadness-for her sweet family and extended family

Anger-lots and lots of anger and why's and how could she

Compassion and Sadness-to think that "Jane" felt that she had no other alternative, that no one would miss her, that people would be better off without her.

Oh, how I wish she could see the grieving that is taking place and to know that people did care about her and for her.  That her life meant something to more people than just her immediate family.  That no matter how bad she thought it was, people still loved her.

If you get a second today, could you please say a prayer for "Jane" and her family.  God will know who she is.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fitness Friday-New Workouts Needed

I am in desperate need of some new workouts.  I love working out from home by I am a little bored with everything I have. 
Do you know of any good workout or videos that I can try?  I have:

Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred
JM 6 Week 6 Pack
JM Shred It with Weights
The Firm Bootcamp:  Maximum Calorie Burn
Jackie Warner Power Circuit

If so, do you like it?  Have you seen results?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé

Never heard of Beaujolais Nouveau?

Well, here's a short history taken directly from In To Wine
At one past midnight on the third Thursday of each November, from little villages and towns like Romanèche-Thorins, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through a sleeping France to Paris for immediate shipment to all parts of the world. Banners proclaim the good news: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! "The New Beaujolais has arrived!" One of the most frivolous and animated rituals in the wine world has begun.

Beaujolais Nouveau began as a local phenomenon in the local bars, cafes, and bistros of Beaujolais and Lyons. Each fall the new Beaujolais would arrive with much fanfare. In pitchers filled from the growers barrels, wine was drunk by an eager population. It was wine made fast to drink while the better Beaujolais was taking a more leisurely course. Eventually, the government stepped into regulate the sale of all this quickly transported, free-flowing wine.

What makes the Beaujolais Nouveau so special? 
Here are 10 Facts:

1. Beaujolais [BOE-zjoh-lay] Nouveau is always released the third Thursday of November, regardless of the start of the harvest.

2. The region of Beaujolais is 34 miles long from north to south and 7 to 9 miles wide. There are nearly 4,000 grape growers who make their living in this picturesque region just north of France's third largest city, Lyon.

3. All the grapes in the Beaujolais region must be picked by hand. These are the only vineyards, along with Champagne, where hand harvesting is mandatory.

4. Gamay (Gamay noir Jus Blanc) is the only grape permitted for Beaujolais. While certain California wineries may label their wine "Gamay Beaujolais" this is not the same grape variety as what is grown in France, and is quite different in taste and growing habits.

5. Beaujolais Nouveau cannot be made from grapes grown in the 10 crus (great growths) of Beaujolais-only from grapes coming from the appellations of Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages.

6. Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration, also called whole berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.

7. Beaujolais Nouveau is meant to be drunk young-in average vintages it should be consumed by the following May after its release. However, in excellent vintages (such as 2000) the wine can live much longer and can be enjoyed until the next harvest rolls around.

8. Serve Beaujolais Nouveau slightly cool, at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit-the wine is more refreshing and its forward fruit more apparent than if you serve it at room temperature.

9. Approximately 1/3 of the entire crop of the Beaujolais region is sold as Beaujolais Nouveau.

10. The region of Beaujolais is known for its fabulous food. The famed Paul Bocuse Restaurant is just minutes from the heart of Beaujolais, as is Georges Blanc's eponymous culinary temple. These great restaurants have plenty of Beaujolais on their wine lists. This quintessential food wine goes well with either haute cuisine or Tuesday night's meat loaf.

So only having learned all of these facts, I was determined to get my bottle of Beajoulais Nouveau TODAY and drink it TODAY.  I was assured that every grocery store would have it out today so off I went. 

First grocery store--FAIL
Second grocery store--FAIL
Liquor store--FAIL

Finally, 2 hours and about 20 miles later . . .

How awesome is this label?  Truly a work of art. 

The back label reads:
Nouveau Expression:  Make a Statement
The 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau is here!  Refreshing, fruity and perfectly balanced, Nouveau is best served chilled with friends.  The wine is youthful, lively, distinctive and fun-just like the original artwork created by NY artist Mr. Kaves to celebrate its release.  Art in any form is a means to express yourself, your culture or to make a statement.  So raise your glasses to the spirit of Nouveau and Make a Statement!

I bought 2 bottles.  One to open today and one to save for Thanksgiving to share with friends.

Want to Chat?

Meet up with me and other fantastic bloggers tonight over at
Tales of a Hockey Wife at 8:00pm (EST).  The hockey wife hosted the first one last week and we ended up chatting for 3 hours!!  We talked about everything from the most famous person we've ever met to post baby bodies. 

Tonight's starting question is What is your biggest pet peeve?

Hope to see you all on the chat.  Just log in on the chat box on the Hockey Wife's page, introduce yourself, and chat away!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kanin's 8th Birthday Party, Part 2

After the party at our house, we invited everyone to go bowling.  Ali and Aidan were staying the night with us and Kanin's Uncle Rick and girlfriend, Michele, went with us along with Sue, Jacob, and Annabelle.


Jacob, Aidan, Kanin, Alison, and GracieAnn

Toward the end of the night, Gracie was being Gracie (as we say around here-LOL)

Caleb wasn't tired, though, he had fun with the hand blower thing.

The next morning the kids decided they wanted to play baseball.

Caleb didn't really understand that he wasn't supposed to stand on the base.

The chairs on their sides were supposed to act as a backstop.  They didn't work very well.