Thursday, December 31, 2009

Are You Coming or Going?

Woo Hoo! New Year's Eve. I always love a good holiday & they're all good in my book. But because this day is significant, I thought I should post something before the day gets busy & runs away from me. I have nothing inspiring or too profound. Just a little thought about today. Today is when half the world seems to be looking back, reflecting on everything this year gave us, sad about some things & glad about others. And the other half of the world is looking forward, making lists of resolutions they hope they can keep, places they want to go, or people they hope to meet. This morning I was considering which of the groups I belong to. I've been a part of both, but today, I'm in the latter half. I'm excited about next year. There's a lot to do & see & teach & learn & enjoy waiting for me in 2010.

We had a great year in 2009. Not everything was pleasant every day, but just like every year before, God blessed us again. And I know the same will happen next year.

If you're in the first group, looking back & possibly regretting, let it go. That's what I love about January 1st. Even if December 31st didn't end so great, tomorrow there's another chance. You can get up in the morning & start all over. It's a brand new day. What will you do with it? And so I'll leave 2009 with a little Mary Engelbreit. 2010, Here we come!

Friday, December 18, 2009

What I Should Be Doing Instead of Blogging Right Now

I've been working on a project for my new house for the past couple of weeks which I had hoped to get done before I had my Christmas party, but due to all the festivities of the season, that didn't happen. So now my new goal is to have it done before the fam gets here for Christmas.

Here it is: it's what I call the Guest Tablecloth. I know, the title is super-creative. The concept is simple. When you have guests in your home for a dinner party or even just some snacks, you cover your table with this cloth. It's embroidered with a quote about friendship or even a monogram. At your party, you ask each guest to sign their name & date with a ballpoint pen. Then, later, before washing off the spilled cheese dip, you embroider over each guest's name to make it a lasting memory.

PLEASE DON'T LET ME LOSE YOU HERE. Some of you just read the word embroider & almost took off running like your hair was on fire to the next post on your list of favorite blogs. You CAN embroider. Even without a machine. It's actually really easy & I think you'll love the results if you just give it a try.

This tablecloth makes a great wedding gift or housewarming gift or a gift for anyone who likes to entertain. If I had thought of it sooner, I would have posted this several weeks ago so some of you might have been able to make one for someone for Christmas. However, this is kind-of a lengthy project, so unless you do have an awesome embroidery machine or you're snowed in somewhere with nothing to do between now & Christmas, I'd recommend giving your BFF something that takes less time.

So here's all you need:

*A white bed sheet big enough to cover your table (You can even choose to make a table runner or a table "scarf" to just cover part of your table). And yes, it needs to be white. Or at least ivory.

*A sharp pencil

*A sewing needle (not too small of an eye)

*A large embroidery hoop

*Several skeins of embroidery floss (You know the kind they sell at Wal-mart. It comes in a blue million colors for like .25 each)

* A pattern of your chosen quote that you print from your computer.

The first step will be to choose your favorite quote about friends. The ones I've done in the past are:

"Make new friends, Keep the old. One is silver, the other gold."

"The ornaments of a house are the friends who frequent it."

"May our house always be too small to hold all our friends"

Once you've chosen your favorite, pick a font you like on your computer & type out the phrase you want to embroider. Then print it out to make your pattern. Keep in mind that fonts with thicker lines tend to turn out a little better than fonts with really thin lines.

Next, you'll need to trim & hem the edges of the sheet to make it your desired size for your tablecloth.

Then, place your pattern under your cloth in the position you want it. With a sharp pencil, carefully trace the phrase onto your cloth. This is why it's important to use a white or ivory sheet. You'll need to be able see through it to trace on it.

Now you're ready to start the embroidery. I use a satin stitch for this project. Here is a diagram I borrowed from Martha Stewart with some simple instructions.

Satin Stitch

Made at an angle or straight across, these side-by-side stitches known as the satin stitch fill in the outlines of a design that incorporates shape or width. Insert needle from wrong to right side, coming out at 1. Insert needle at 2, and pull it back through at 3, right next to 1. Keep the stitches tight and flat to ensure a smooth finish.

When preparing to do this stitch, I recommend cutting a length of embroidery floss approximately 18" long. First, separate each of the 6 strands, then take 3 of the strands, line them up, smooth them together & thread them through the needle.

Whew! Still with me? Typing all this out makes it seem hard, but seriously, it's not.
To begin, you need to place your embroidery hoop over the area where you plan to start. Doing this will make you feel a little Grandma-esque, but keep going. It'll be fine.

Now you can start embroidering your phrase, following the simple guide above. As you finish one section, move your hoop to another until you're done!

The instructions for the backstitch are below. I use this stitch for the names & dates.


The backstitch is the easiest embroidery stitch. Insert needle from wrong side of fabric, coming out at 1. Insert needle at 2, pull back out at 3, and pull thread tight. Insert needle again at 1, and pull it out past 3 at a distance equal to length of the previous stitches. This is the first step for the next stitch; insert needle into 3, and continue.

Here are a few pics of my old tablecloth from my previous house. On this one, I used a lot of different colors for the different names.

You'll be amazed at how the embroidery stays true to the original writing!
Here's the signature of John Phillips, the Bible Commentary author, when he came to our house for dinner:
And here's the one of President George Bush. What? You can't see it on this pic?

I should have waited until mine was finished to post this, but I thought someone out there may be looking for a project to do over the holidays. And now I'm going to go sit by the tree & listen to Christmas music & see if I can finish mine!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Welcome to my house!

I'm so glad to be a part of the Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes this year! If that's not how you found me, be sure to click here before you leave so you can visit some really beautiful homes on the tour!

Here's my front door! Complete with my fresh wreaths that I ordered on eBay & decorated with non-traditional black & white bows. (Don't trip over that tacky cord as you come in.)

Here's my little table at the end of my front hall. I JUST painted it the other day. I love it because it lived in my grandparents' house for as long as I can remember. My Mamaw gave it to me when she moved & didn't have a place for it. It's perfect for holding my little tree of party favor ornaments I gave out at my party the other night!

Here's a close-up of my little table, complete with a little wreath I made.

And these little initial ornaments are easy to make to give away to friends.

Just outside my kitchen, I found a nice home for my Merry Christmas sign.

Now, come into what we call the piano room simply because that's pretty much all that's in there. Here's where I put my shiny silver stuff, like my mercury glass collection,

And this adorable little church that makes me just want to sing "Silent Night".

And this is where you'll also find my big Nativity set.

Now let's go into the kitchen, where most of Christmas happens here at our house. Here's my recently-created silver chalkboard & my kitchen wreath that sits on the little shelf above my range where I've been known to cook up a mean pot of chili.

Help yourself to a cupcake while we finish the tour!
I'll even serve you some hot chocolate in one of my favorite Christmas mugs.

And here's a view of the whole room (and 2 little elves busy at work).

What's that fabulous Christmas smell, you ask? Oh, that's my Mistletoe Yankee Candle my mother-in-law gave me. LOVE that smell! (Notice how I'm rationing it to make it last 'til Christmas.)

And one of my favorites from the great Mary Engelbreit...

And here on my breakfast room table is my grandmother's vintage tablecloth, complete with few stains from when my dad was a little boy.

A little more garland around the naked window ...

Some little kitchen ornaments my sister gave me this year...

Here in the laundry room I just hung the elves clothes out to dry...

And here in the family room is where I placed my "Wreath-in-an-Urn". Just watch: Martha will be doing this soon.

And here's where our stockings are hung with care...

And right over here is where the kids take turns pulling out the "bricks" in the fireplace, counting down the days until Santa comes down the chimney.

And that's pretty much the end of the tour, but I wouldn't want you to visit my house & miss the best thing of all. It's what I want Christmas at my house to really be about. It's really so not about Santa. (And trust me, I'm one of his biggest fans.)

It's really all about HIM.

Jesus in the manger. And me wondering how His heart must fill with joy when my 3-year-old talks to the little figurine in the nativity set.

And about the Jesus I've seen in the life of my parents through the good times and the times that aren't so good.

And the Jesus whom I want my kids to see in my life.

And the Jesus who will never fail me, even if other people do.

And Jesus who died for my sins, then rose again to give me eternal life.

It's about the Jesus of the day after Christmas and every other day of the year.

Without Him, it may be a jolly holiday, but it's not really Christmas unless He's there.

If you've never met Him, I hope this is the year that you do.

Thanks for stopping by, y'all. May you have a true Merry Christmas this year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

One the First Day of Christmas, My True Love Said to Me, "NINE Christmas Trees!?!"

Don't tell him it's actually 11 if you count my 2 latest finds on the front porch, but who's counting. Yes, it's been taking me forever to get this house decorated for Christmas, to those of you who've been asking. I still don't even have our stockings hung due to the fact that my husband doesn't want nail holes in the new mantle. I've got a plan, though. They'll be up before St. Nick gets here.

For the most part, I've finally found the place where each little Christmas item belongs in this house. And I've been really good about not getting too sentimental about our old house being decorated for Christmas for the first time by someone other than me. I can't help but wonder just a little if it misses us.

But anyway, I'll be joining the Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes next week, which I think is a brilliant concept since we all go to so much trouble to deck our halls, then usually don't invite enough people over to even see it! This way, we can take a peek at everyone's Christmas decor while sippin' hot chocolate on the couch!

So, here are my trees, all of which have a story. But I won't force you to endure all of that. I just thought it'd be fun to share some pics :)

Our Family Tree-
I have almost reached my goal to have no 2 ornaments alike on this tree. I can tell you the story behind each one, from the watermelon to Batman. Got a few hours to spare?

The Library Tree, which is really for exterior viewing pleasure only, since the room has no furniture yet.
Yes, that is a moving box full of books that we stood the tree on. Is there a problem with that?

Kitchen Tree #1

Kitchen Tree #2

My Little Entry Tree

My Son's Tree

Daughter #1's

Daughter #2's

Daughter #3's,
which she matter-of-factly stated was "weird".
She's 3. And opinionated.

Thanks for stopping by my little festival of trees. Maybe next time we'll do garland! Just kidding. I only have 4 strands.