Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Handmade Cards

Monica from The Homespun Heart shared a wonderful idea for making her own cards and envelopes out of magazine pictures. It is her post for November 16, 2005 and is titled Christmas Crafting.

I decided to make some since I didn't have quite enough of my thrift store bargain Christmas cards left for this year.:-) Instead of magazine pictures, I used some heavier weight non-glossy wrapping paper that was given to me. For the cards, I used a half-sheet of cardstock folded, then traced an old envelope that will fit that size card. I am enjoying embellishing these with stickers and rubber stamps. Buttons and other trinkets would be cute if you are not mailing them. They turned out really cute.
Then I ran out of glue stick.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Free Movie Tickets

We went to see the movie Chicken Little this morning. We had movie gift certificates to use so this little outing didn't cost us anything. It is a very cute and extremely funny film. During the first part of the movie, the sound was horrible and wasn't working right at all. They finally paused the movie to get it working properly. The little movie attendant came out and told us what was going on and then promised everyone a free movie pass at the end of the show.

Well, the rest of the movie ran smoothly and at the end, we collected our free movie tickets. While some people may have been disgruntled, we were tickled pink. I will add these tickets to my stash. We hardly ever go to movies and by the looks of things, now we won't be paying to see a movie in a while!

Thanksgiving Dinner Recap

Well, my husband and I survived hosting our first holiday gathering in our home. It was a very enjoyable and worthwhile experience. But I now know why my mom warned me against trying to host family holiday events the first year we were married. It can be somewhat stressful.

We had invited quite a number of friends and family to our house for dinner and most everyone already had plans. I was feeling quite funny about a gathering so small-only nine adults and a baby.(Sounds like a movie title!:-)) My husband thought it was quite a lot of people but I am used to large family gatherings.

Well, my mind changed quite rapidly when we had to practically move out of our house to find room for tables in our living room. Finding room for the tables was not really the problem,but rather making room for the chairs with adults in them around the tables. We finally figured out that if we push the loveseat into the fireplace and the TV is pushed into the corner,( facing the corner too, which in this day and age is probably not such a bad place for a TV), we would have room for two tables butted up against each other. This provided minimal space for squeezing through in order to find one's way back to the buffet table set up in the dining room. It actually looked very nice once I set the tables and I thanked God for only allowing nine adults and a baby to come to our little house for Thanksgiving dinner. If I would have had my way, there would have been about thirteen guests. But we would have found room for extras, somehow.:-) (Actually, my suggestion, which my husband quickly vetoed was to reennact the first Thanksgiving and move everything outside.)

The dinner itself flew off without a hitch, really. I had made quite a plan for the week and then let myself work the plan. To account for my little kitchen space, I prepared everything that I could in advance and then baked it after the turkey came out of the oven. This worked extremely well. Even the mashed potatoes were reheated in the crockpot. (Personally, I think they are better fresh, but they were still quite tasty this way and eliminated a time-consuming process that morning.) Before and right after our guests arrived, I was able to sit and relax and visit. I really reminded myself of my mother and the phrase, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all!" (Sooner or later, it happens, even to the best of us.:-) She has the reputation of being a very organized hostess.

Then the turkey came out of the oven and the side dishes went in and then I made the gravy and oversaw the arranging of dishes on the serving table and directed the drink pouring(water and tea for your general information.) My mother-in-law did an awesome job of carving the turkey and discovering the little bag of stuff I had left inside. OOPS!!:-) I had taken the neck and such out and thought I had gotten it all. We had a good giggle over that and I figured if that's the worst thing to happen, I am doing pretty good!

Soon everything was ready and we all dug in. All the food was delicious, even though the gravy had a slight resemblance to something on Fear Factor. (It tasted great, though.) It was a wonderful dinner and a great time of being together with friends and family, sharing our home, lots of food and great stories! And that's what it's all about.

Then everyone left just as quickly as they came. And what do we have to show for their visit? An empty house...and a very full refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner

I am quite excited about hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner in our home. There will be nine people; well, ten if you count my 3 month old nephew.:-)My husband's parents and great aunt, my sister, brother-in-law and baby Knox, and some friends of ours. Ten seems small when compared to the giant family gatherings growing up. We also invited several other people but they already had plans. Ten people will fill this little cottage right up!!

So my turkey is marinating nicely in the refrigerator and most of the side dishes are made and waiting to be baked after the turkey comes out of the oven tomorrow. I have a carrot cake ready and pies will be arriving with our guests tomorrow(as well as a few other treats.)

Now I need to finish cleaning the house.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Outlet

We had some friends over for dinner the other night. As we were cleaning up in the kitchen the wife couldn't get over the fact that I had such strong water pressure. She obviously lives or has lived in a house with weaker water pressure. This comment led to a discussion on how doing without one convenience in our home can make the next minor improvement seem anything but minor.

I recalled back to the first apartment that my sister and I rented when we moved to South Carolina. It was a small three room apartment over our land lady's garage. I say three rooms because the kitchen, dining room and living room were all open together, then there was a bedroom and a bathroom. While nothing fancy, it did have new Berber carpet, a good amount of storage space in the kitchen and the rent was $240 per month. We were totally enamored with our little home. However, there were some major drawbacks. We soon learned that the oil heat would only stop working on the coldest days of winter, on the weekend when repair men were few and far between. The hot water heater required a minimum of about an hour between dishwashing and showering. The water pressure was not the best either. But all of these issues paled when one stepped into the bathroom. First of all,it was a very small room. The flooring was coming up, the toilet, sink and tub were very old and incredibly stained, making the whole room very difficult to clean. But we continued on, rarely even talking about it. Until the day we found another house...

We knew it was the right house. Yes, it had 3 bedrooms, a laundry room inside the house instead of going outside and downstairs, and a circle driveway. But the real selling point was when we caught a glimpse of the inner throne room. It glistened, it shone! New flooring(securely fastened to the floor, I might add), great lighting, modern fixtures, and even a sliding shower door. It was not only a pleasure to visit the room, it was also a joy to clean! We were thrilled! It mattered not that the house was in dire need of a paint job, there were no carpets, and the closets were very small. We told everyone about our "modern bathroom."

So when my husband and I were looking for our first little home, we were quite impressed when we found it. Even though it is older as every house I have lived in has been, this one was preserved quite nicely. We loved it right away. The laundry room is bigger than the kitchen, there is a dishwasher, and it is the first house I have ever lived in with central heat and air. I felt like a princess in a castle. Wow! What a nice house! But as always, after time, one will start to notice things.

And for us, that thing was THE OUTLET. Other than places to plug the refrigerator and stove in, my kitchen has one outlet. THE OUTLET is positioned on the wall at the back of my main counterspace between the sink and stove. Now this is not a normal outlet with space to plug in two appliances at the same time. No, the top half of THE OUTLET is a light switch for the light above the sink. Don't ask me why. Am I the only one who likes to plug in two appliances at the same time? As with other small inconveniences, one learns to simply deal with the issue at hand, until it is hardly noticeable. I don't have to time the dishwashing and showering so I have enough hot water. My bathroom is relatively easy to clean. But THE OUTLET has a lot of powers as to what I do when.

THE OUTLET determines whether or not we have toast for breakfast. If the crockpot is already loaded and started, then the answer is 'no'. THE OUTLET streamlines and schedules the use of my electric knife, mixers, toaster and crockpot. THE OUTLET evens kicks the crockpot out of the kitchen at times, into the Land of Plentiful Outlets, otherwise known as the dining room. THE OUTLET is quite the converstion piece.

Small things can mean big thrills. We notice small improvements and they are so exciting to us. Water pressure, decent hot water heaters, modern bathrooms... sometimes we are so easy to please! And I am content too. I am very blessed.

Our next home will be determined by the amount of outlets in the kitchen.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Holidays Are Coming!

November seems to have been proclaimed as home-improvement month at our house. Much cleaning, rearranging, painting, decorating, yard work and car-cleaning abound. The things that I have started and just haven't had time to finish are finally getting done. The upcoming holidays are having that effect on me. Probably because we are having Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year and then a month later my family will be arriving for Christmas from the Great Northwest.

Now I know that one's house must not be in tip-top shape in order to welcome guests and believe me, I have had a lot of people over when my house wasn't clean(or even unpacked when we first moved in). But I also know that I work better with a deadline of sorts. And I would like to get my several pieces of furniture completely repainted, so I can eliminate the boxes of dishes and piles of stuff that have begun to line the walls of my home. Somehow, deck the halls with boxes of stuff just doesn't have a ring to it.

Anyways, on a whim I rearranged my living room last week. I was only going to move the couches, but one thing led to another. You move the couches and you have to vaccuum under where they were. While the couches are out, you are closer to the windows and they really do look dirty now that you are up close and personal with them. So you wash them and you dust the windowsills and clean cobwebs out of corners while you are at it. And you can't help but notice how dirty the curtains are so they get a bath as well. And before you know it, you are on your way to Lowe's to look for another extension cord because the new arrangement of furniture calls for it. While you are there, you notice a display of 3-way light bulbs and you remember that your floor lamp has never been treated to the light bulb it was designed for. So you buy it and you go home and replace the bulb, and then you sit in your rocker which has been moved to a more prominent position in the room. And as you peruse the room, the corner that has been vacated by the rocker calls to you. It says, "Don't you remember what you were going to put here?" And you recall the dresser which is going to be there, but it needs to be painted a nice shade of red in order to coordinate. So you make painting plans. And several days later, the painting is done. The dresser is moved to its spot. Now that it is there, you can hang the mirror that has been waiting for the dresser.... And on it goes...

By the time the holidays arrive, I may need a nap.