Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Tour 2014

Well, despite the fact that I still have a Halloween post in my drafts, I thought I better get on the ball and share a few pictures of my Christmas decor. I like going back and looking at my previous years' photos while I'm decorating; otherwise, I can never remember where I put everything. 
You'll see lots of plaid and pops of red throughout the house this year- I found the red tartan ribbon at Michael's before Thanksgiving and bought out their stock because it sold out last year at my local store. I waited and missed out before, but not this time!
I didn't change too much on my mantel- just a new message, the garland and stockings (hung with care, of course).
I finally found a tree skirt that I love. Mine was a TJ Maxx score, but it is identical to a much spendier one featured in this season's Ballard catalog.
The "Happy Holidays" ribbon is also from Michael's. 

Even though it doesn't quite "go" with the look I'm after, my son's musical Pooh Bear figurine is always displayed front and center at Christmas time. What are traditions for, after all?
On to the kitchen...
My burlap wreath is once again looking festive for a new season. This time I added red ribbon, a big antler, and a few natural elements to compliment the snowy woodland scene on the mantel.
Caitlin painted a little snow-scene watercolor and it was the perfect backdrop to our Trader Joe gingerbread chalets. **check out my phony gingerbread man… I hadn't baked any yet, so I added him in PicMonkey!
I hope your Christmas is ...
and the season is full of magic.
I'm sharing here:
My Romantic Home A Stroll Thru Life
French Country Cottage My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Savvy Southern Style DIY by Design
Between Naps on the Porch
 Under the Table and Dreaming
The Nester
Dixie Delights

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Simple Autumn Mantel

 In the past, I've waxed poetic about the glorious abundance of fall and decorated my mantels in a suitably festive fashion. They were swagged and festooned within an inch of their lives, and I loved them in all their harvest glory. But, as you can see, I went in a different direction for this mantel.

It's bit more simple, even {comparatively} understated. Without miles of garland to distract the eye, the chalkboard pumpkin takes center-stage and it's simple message will remind me to count my blessings, right through Thanksgiving.

Tolkien and Lewis, my literary lions, had to have their autumnal crowns, of course. No amount of simplification would keep me from bedecking their noble brows. {I like to think they tolerate my seasonal shenanigans with quiet dignity.}

Of course, there are a lot of days between now and November. I don't know if I'll be able to resist bedecking the mantel with banners and bunting forever. For now though, I am satisfied with its simplicity.
I'm linking up here:
My Romantic Home A Stroll Thru Life
French Country Cottage My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Savvy Southern Style DIY by Design
Between Naps on the Porch DIY Showoff
Jennifer Rizzo Under the Table and Dreaming

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School Mantel

I know for many kids it is already back to school time, but in our neck of the woods school doesn't begin until after Labor Day. Even though we are savoring the last few days of summer, I thought a fun back to school mantel would help all of us get back in the mood for learning.

I'm not quite ready to break out the pumpkins for fall yet, but my summer mantel needed to go. Since this is our kitchen mantel and we homeschool at the kitchen table, it seemed only right to decorate our "classroom" with an education theme.

I had to include a copy of the homeschooling guide that has so influenced our curriculum-- "The Well-Trained Mind." 

 Is anyone else a pencil snob like me? I love these Ticonderoga pencils… all other pencils are dead to me.

The illustrations in "Dick and Jane" books are so sweet; I love the nostalgic depiction of childhood. Plus, Hunter learned to read with this book, so I get a bit misty-eyed too thinking of his lispy little voice sounding out the simple stories.

I've wanted a vintage kitchen scale forever, and I finally found this fun jadeite green one on a Facebook  group I belong to. It fits perfectly on the mantel, yay!

The chalkboard displays our lighthearted motto for the upcoming school year: it's Latin for "Learn or Leave." I thought it set an appropriately encouraging tone for the upcoming year. If that doesn't work, I can always grab that ruler and whack some knuckles. ;)

Happy "Back to School" time!
I'm linking up here:
My Romantic Home A Stroll Thru Life
French Country Cottage My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Savvy Southern Style DIY by Design
Between Naps on the Porch DIY Showoff
Jennifer Rizzo Under the Table and Dreaming

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Yoo-hoo! Anyone still here? I didn't mean to take such a long break from blogging, but somehow just never seemed to have enough to say. The blog has been on my mind though. I've known for a while that I wanted to make a few changes to my blog design and organization, but wasn't sure how to go about it. I hired a designer before because I was too intimidated to try myself, and while it was lovely and all, I've come to a better understanding of what I'd like to see on the blog going forward.You may have noticed the new header… well that's as far as I've gotten. It may be a slow process and it will look weird for the interim, but it's fun to try and figure out myself.

In the meantime, I've got lots of camping to do, lakes to play in, sunsets to enjoy, and lessons to plan for the upcoming school year. I will share our plan for 5th grade soon, I promise. Think lots of Latin, classics, drama, and art. In order to set an encouraging tone for the upcoming year I'm making our motto "Aut Disce, Aut Discede" (Either Learn or Leave). That ought to do the trick!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer So Far

It's hard to believe, but here we are, halfway through July already! The school supplies are back on the shelves and the countdown to September has begun. Before any more time flies by, here's a bit of what we've been up to this summer, so far… {as seen on Instagram}

My bid to inspire some creativity in the kids has been pretty successful. Having the art supplies out on display means they are much more likely to get used, which I love.
We've done castles, sunbursts, fruit, fish, and family crests. Now I just need to find a place to display all the works of art the kids are cranking out!
 June means strawberries and I put them to good use. Freezer jam, pies, cakes, and of course strawberries and cream… the tastes of summer.

We even found one that looks like a heart~ double the sweetness.
 The local gardens are in full bloom and people and ducks, alike are enjoying them.

Unfortunately, my own little garden is not as impressive as the one above. My hydrangea had only one bloom this year, but it was a lovely one.

 What's a post about summer without a little baseball? Hunter's new favorite position to play is catcher. It seems that between hockey and baseball, we are destined to be carrying a ton of protective gear year round. Such is the life of a sports mom!
I'm going to enjoy the remaining days of summer, savoring each afternoon and relishing each lingering evening. See you at the beach!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Organized Camp Kitchen in a Plastic Tote

Our family loves to camp, but it can be a lot of work. Between planning, packing, loading, unloading, and setting up camp, I am usually worn out by the first evening. Last year, after a particularly chaotic packing session, we found ourselves in the woods without cooking utensils, a hammer, or bug spray. Lesson learned.

So this year, I got organized and created a camp kitchen-in-a-box, known to hardcore campers as a "chuck box."

Actually, I had never heard of a chuck box before, but Pinterest opened my eyes. We used to just throw everything into a tote, willy-nilly. But even when I remembered to pack everything, it was difficult to find and always smashed at the bottom.

There are lots of examples of fancy, ready-made chuck boxes out there, but I was looking for something cheap and simple. I used a 27-gallon heavy duty tote from Home Depot and just bought two 3-drawer organizers at Target. They work great for holding all the smaller items that sank to the bottom of the tote before.

The easiest way for me to show you everything is with a video, but I apologize for my wonky camera work and fast talking. 

 We keep non-perishable food items in here as well as supplies and utensils. I still have to add in a few things before our next trip, but it's easy to see what we need.

Everything is packed in snug and tight, so it doesn't rattle around while we're traveling. And when we get home, it goes straight back in the basement, clearly labeled and ready to hit the trails next time.
 I hope this is helpful to other campers. Having everything organized and in one spot has made camping a lot more fun and a lot less work.
Happy camping!
I'm sharing here:
DIY By Design My Romantic Home A Stroll Thru Life French Country Cottage My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia Savvy Southern Style  Between Naps on the Porch DIY Showoff  Under the Table and Dreaming

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fuel Your Family: Chocolate Almond Protein Bites

Our family takes "active" to a whole new level in the summertime. Last week, our schedule included 3 play-dates, a soccer tournament, 2 soccer games, 2 baseball games, and 2 different hockey camps, plus various practices, library runs, and errands. All that running can leave us worn out and HUNGRY, which is why I love this healthy and yummy snack.
On days when we have multiple events, I always pack a cooler with drinks and healthy snacks. I usually grab things like fruit, cheese sticks, and granola bars, but homemade energy bites are a perennial fave. I've made different versions of this recipe in the past- that's part of its beauty; it's very flexible and can be easily adapted to the ingredients you have on hand. 
The good folks at General Mills were kind enough to send me a box full of protein-packed goodies as the inspiration for this recipe (and an awesome bicycle bag that my kids quickly nabbed). I wanted to make something healthy, tasty, and simple that would help fuel my family during our busy summer.
Chocolate Almond Protein Bites
{yield: about 20 "bites"}
1 cup oats
1/2 cup chocolate almond butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Cheerios Protein (Cinnamon Almond flavor)
1/4 cup chopped goji berries (cranberries or raisins would also work well)
1/3 cup honey
1 T.  ground flax seed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds

Stir everything together in a medium bowl until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (this helps everything hold together a bit better).

Once chilled, roll into 1-inch balls. I used a cookie scoop; it worked like a charm, and I didn't get my hands all sticky. Store in an airtight container (I like to keep mine refrigerated).
 My family LOVED these things. They are a great, energy- packed snack for summer!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Full Swing Into Summer

Happy first day of summer! We jumped into summer at full speed as soon as Caitlin finished school. Since then, it's been a whirlwind of baseball practice, soccer tournaments, and hockey camps. Throw in some mega cleaning and organizing projects and the days have been flying by. At this pace, I'm better at sharing on Instagram than here, so be sure to check there for more frequent updates. 

 Caitlin and Hunter actually collaborated to sort and organize all their Legos. I'll take any cooperation I can get from these two, even if it is short-lived.

 In the hopes of inspiring a bit of creativity this summer, I put all our art supplies out where they would be easily accessible, not to mention look pretty on display.
 It worked too! We collaborated on some summer chalk art and made watercolor rainbow fish.

Hunter has been baseball crazy.

 And Caitlin has been consumed by soccer. She has to get in the zone on the way to games with her tunes.

She had a big tournament over Father's Day weekend, so we treated Chris to breakfast between games.

The kids got Chris got a smoothie maker and we've been putting it to good use already.

 I put some of my pretty blue transfer ware on display. I love the pop of pink from the peonies. My favorite summer flower!

And I finally tackled my disastrous upstairs linen closet. Now if I could just get motivated to paint the door and trim. Being on the second floor, it's easy to procrastinate and let the "out of sight, out of mind" things go. Someday!

Even with all the busy-ness, we've managed to squeeze in some relaxing cuddle time. Sam is a spaz most of the time, but he does love to snuggle.
Happy Summer!