Sunday, December 21, 2014

Red & White Decorations

Each year I enjoy getting all the boxed of Christmas decorations down from the attic, setting up the trees, trimming the trees with our huge assortment of ornaments, and deciding where and how to display our eclectic assortment of Christmas decor. This year I decided to try something new and use all red and white decorations (along with our collection of Santas) in the front room.

Instead of the traditional nativity scene, I placed our Santa-Kneeling-At-The-Manger figure as the centerpiece on the sideboard in the entryway. I included a small red & white Christmas tree and the folded Christmas tree I made. (I had actually anticipated creating a couple more trees in different sizes for this display, but I haven't yet found time to decorate the additional trees I folded . . . or to post a tutorial here!)

My favorite part of the red and white decor took me an entire afternoon to complete, but was worth it as it makes me smile every time I walk through the room. I removed everything from inside the china cabinet, cleaned it, and put together a display with an assortment of red and white items - milk glass, ruby red glassware, dark red & white china. (Based on the dinginess of the mirrors and the rather substantial protective coating of dust covering everything, it's been a while since I removed everything and cleaned the inside of the cabinet!) I then piled red and white Christmas balls in some of the dishes.

Here's another angle, showing the red & white stuffed bears on the chairs beside the cabinet.

We used the silver Christmas tree in this room and decorated it with red and white and Santa ornaments. We spent this morning wrapping our gifts to each other in red, white and silver paper.

I arranged our Santa collection and photos with Santa on our memory shelf.

As a final touch, I replaced my God Is Love hook-a-rug with a framed Santa-kneeling-at-the-manger that a dear elderly friend gave me years ago.

We had FUN using lots of red and white decorations in this room . . . and adding some "froufrou and whimsy" decorations throughout the rest of the house (which I'll share in an upcoming post).

Do you have FUN decorating for Christmas? Do you use a color scheme in your decorations?

Friday, December 19, 2014

So much FUN

I can hardly believe it's less than a week 'til Christmas! It's been such a FUN month around here. Here's a look at some of the FUN I've had just in the past week and a half:
*wrapping gifts & creating handmade gift tags
*crafting with my friend Joellen (sorry - can't show you what we made, Christmas is coming!)
*visiting with my sweet teenage friend Ally who's just returned from her first semester of college
*shopping with Mama & Daddy
*mailing Christmas cards & packages (the line was long but I was in & out of the post office in only 15 minutes)
*antiquing with my friend Kim
*enjoying a date night to see A Christmas Story The Musical

*and celebrating Mama's 67th birthday!

We've been watching FUN  Christmas movies in the evenings. I've also read a couple of books, created a set of cards for a Valentine's Day card class I'll be teaching at Scrappin' Goodtime in late January (more information coming soon!), and completed four layouts!

We're looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home as we head into Christmas week. What are y'all up to this weekend?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Remembering Christmas In July

I have a new post up on the Scrappin' Goodtime blog today - sharing a two-page layout showcasing photos from the Christmas in July classes I taught this past summer. Of course, I had to use those FUN stamps from the class on the layout!

Check out my post here to see the complete layout.

Monday, December 15, 2014

One Little Word - October, November & December

Once again, I had gotten a few months behind in Ali Edward's One Little Word class, so this weekend I took time to review all the remaining class materials. Then I flipped back through my FUN notebook, reviewing the FUN intentions I wrote out in January and the FUN action items I set in February. I printed the last few months' FUN photo collages and slipped them into place and completed the past three month's reflections cards.

I decided not to include the October and November prompts - one was a painted background topped with a letter to  myself and the other was another photo prompt. However, I did complete the Facts & Feelings Worksheet Ali provided as a wrap-up for the December prompt. (You can click on the page for a larger version if you'd like to read my journaling.)

I have to admit that I've definitely had lots of FUN with my very first word! As the year comes to a close, I know that this word will continue to be a part of my life and that I will be more aware of the FUN in every day now that I've spent a year focusing on and acknowledging the FUN in our life.

I'm definitely going to choose a word for next year. In fact, I've already been contemplating possible words and what I'd like to be more aware of in 2015. Of course, I'll be sharing that journey with y'all here on my blog! Which brings me to a huge THANK YOU to those of you who have followed along with my FUN journey this year. Your encouraging comments and how you've enjoyed my posts and photo collages have made this journey all the more FUN!

I'll be wrapping up  my FUN year with one more post at the end of December, sharing my final reflections card and last monthly photo collage as well as some additional thoughts on the difference this word has made in my life in 2014. How will you be wrapping up your word this year? Are you ready to let it go and announce a new word for 2015?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Surprises

Joining in with Sian and the revived Christmas Club today to share stories sparked by the simple beginning. . . 

At Christmas we . . .

. . . often had surprises. I remember . . .

*the year Papa Bill's plane was scheduled to arrive very late on Christmas Eve. As we were loading up in the car for the drive to the airport, Mama had to run back in the house for something she forgot. We were soon on our way, however, and very happy to see Papa Bill and head back home. We had seen on the news that Santa was near our area, and as we entered the house, we realized he had visited us while we were at the airport! All our gifts were under the tree and we were able to enjoy them before heading to bed some time in the wee hours of the morning!

*the year I got up early and saw the huge stuffed animal for my younger sister, and the big bean bag for my older sister, and didn't notice my gift lying all alone on the table, underneath the small tree, until Daddy said I should look again . . . and there it was, my very own .410 shotgun. Until that moment, I'm not sure that I really believed I would get one. I was so excited that I carried it around all day and even propped it against the wall near my chair while we ate Christmas dinner!

*the year Grandma gave each of us girls a real rabbit coat. I didn't think much about it at the time, but I'm sure she must have saved for quite some time to be able to afford those gifts on her grocery store clerk's salary.

*the year I got a $50 Ralph Lauren shirt. We didn't have money for expensive clothes, but I wanted one of those shirts, like everyone else had back then, even though it was such a luxury. Somehow Mama & Daddy made sure a plaid long-sleeve shirt with the Ralph Lauren logo made its way under our Christmas tree that year. (Alas, I know there must be a photo of me wearing that shirt but I can't seem to find it!)

Please share your Christmas surprises memories in the comments & be sure to pop over to Sian's to enjoy more Christmas Club stories.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 - Visit Harry Potter World In Florida

Item number fourteen on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list (Visit Harry Potter World In Florida) is complete! Our trip to Florida last month to celebrate Robbie's birthday was planned so that we could visit Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Orlando.

Harry Potter World actually consists of two areas - Diagon Alley at the Universal Studios park and Hogsmeade at the Islands of Adventure park. We had early admission to Diagon Alley, along with lots of other folks!

We followed the early morning crowd into a very long line for the Escape From Gringotts 3-D ride. The line snacked along through some fabulous Gringotts exhibits, and the ride itself captured Harry, Hermione and Ron's adventure as they escaped from Gringotts!

Our favorite views were of the dragon atop Gringotts . . .

. . . and Hogwarts.

 We also enjoyed seeing the Knight Bus and chatting with the Conductor.

We stopped in for some fish & chips at the Leaky Cauldron for lunch, and had our first taste of Butterbeer (a creamy butterscotch flavored non-alcoholic drink). Just to be sure we didn't imagine all that creamy deliciousness, we sampled another cup of Butterbeer the next day. (And Robbie has been experimenting to re-create it since we returned home.)

We had lots of FUN when we entered Platform 9 3/4 and rode the Hogswart Express back and forth between the two parks, knocked on the door of 12 Grimmauld Place (no one answered, but we saw Kreecher peeking out of the upstairs window), picked up a few items at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes store, and had our photo snapped on Hagrid's motorcycle with the sidecar.

Our favorite part of the visit was when we went back to Diagon Alley late in the day, after dark, and discovered that we had missed Knockturn Alley! We found the vanishing cabinet at Borgin & Burkes, where Robbie picked up a replica of Lucius Malfoy's wand.

We were also able to stroll through Diagon Alley and enjoy the window exhibits that we had missed earlier due to the crowds of other visitors during the day.

We both thoroughly enjoyed visiting Harry Potter World, and I'm excited to check off another item on my 50 Things To Do Before I'm 50 list! I added a photo, the dates, and a couple of lines of journaling to this page in my 50 Things mini-album.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Laura Ingalls Wilder

For eight weeks this fall, I participated in the Laura Ingalls Wilder: Exploring Her Work and Writing Life, Part I class at  This free class was taught by Pamela Smith Hill, a professor at Missouri State University. I am so grateful that Sian posted about this class back in August, a few weeks before it started, so that I could join in.

The main text for the class was Pamela Smith Hill's book Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life. We also read the first four of the Little House books as part of the class. In addition, there was a list of other recommended books for further study. I jumped right into the course and ended up reading 12 books during the eight weeks of the course! I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the study of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her life and writings.

In addition to the four Little House books, I read a couple of other books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that I'd not read before. One was a collection of writings and the other was the diary she kept on the covered wagon trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri.

Several of the books I read were written by William Anderson, a specialist in the subject of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I was fortunate to find quite of few of these books at the library, some in the adult section, others like the the one below, in the children's section. This one contained recipes for some of the foods mentioned in Little House on the Prairie as well as step-by-step directions for crafts and words to the songs they sang.

I've always been a huge fan of the Little House books, so I was excited to learn more about the real life Laura Ingalls Wilder and how she became such a popular and well-known writer. The class materials included weekly reading assignments, video lectures, discussion questions, and quizzes. I found the materials excellent, although the discussion boards were filled with way too many comments to read as there were over 1000 people signed up for the course. Luckily, each week we received an email which summarized and condensed the responses to each discussion question (and I was thrilled to be quoted twice in those emails!).

I have to admit that I am even more impressed with Laura Ingalls Wilder as a writer after learning more about how she practiced and perfected the craft of writing and the way "she altered the truth to make a better story." Wilder's stories revolve around the theme of always moving west, a theme that is consistent in the novels despite the fact that the actual Ingalls family moved numerous times (not always west) before settling in Dakota Territory. The course instructor stated that "Wilder shaped the history of her life for the purposes of her story" and also notes how her writing and storytelling improved with the later books. This improvement could be a result of several things: (1) she grew as a writer, (2) she remembered more about her life during her teenage years, and/or (3) she learned how to explain how things looked after her older sister Mary lost her eyesight and Laura began to "see" things for her through words. As Laura states in one of the Little House books, there are "so many ways of seeing things and so many ways of saying them."

I also learned a good bit that I hadn't known about Laura and Manly once they settled at Rocky Ridge Farm with their daughter. Rose Wilder Lane became an author before her mother, however I have to admit that I didn't think very highly of her as we studied how she edited the Little House books and "borrowed" heavily from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl autobiography . . . without telling her or asking her first!

I'll definitely be signing up for Part II of this course, which begins in early April 2015. We'll be reading and discussion the remaining Little House books along with Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography that is scheduled for publication later this month.