Sunday, November 30, 2014

Countdown to Christmas, Week Five

Week 5 has officially begun. You can see Week 4’s Countdown here.
To-Do this week:
1) Christmas parties are coming up. What will you wear? Do clothes need dry-cleaned, pressed, repaired. Or will you be buying something new? What accessories will you wear? Shoes?  Think about it.  This is the perfect time to buy YOU a new gift;
2)  Schedule time for a hair appointment and/or manicure.  Salons get very busy at this time of year, so get your appointment booked.
3) Mail Christmas cards.
4) It’s time to finish up with on-line and catalog shopping so that the ordered items arrive in plenty of time to be wrapped and put under the tree.
5) Plan the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus. Order fresh turkeys, hams or goose now.
6. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water. RELAX and ENJOY!

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Week 4 of Christmas Countdown was:
1. Send Thanksgiving Day cards.
2. Be thankful for all you have, and all that you've accomplished to this point.
3. Enjoy your Thanksgiving! You deserve it.
4. Send out invitations for the Christmas Ornament Exchange.
5. Pick up Advent candles.  Advent begins Sunday.
6. Begin addressing Christmas cards.
7. Choose a decorating theme for Christmas.
8. Are you having any parties during the month of December? Begin planning the menus and guest lists.

1. The cards were sent Tuesday morning.
2. I wrote a Thankful post for Thanksgiving day. 
3. Thanksgiving was a joy! Peaceful, serene, happy.
4. The invites for the Christmas Ornament Exchange were sent Monday.
5. The Advent candles will be bought today.
6. The labels for the Christmas cards have been printed.
7. Olde English Christmas is our theme.  We even purchased Christmas Crackers through Barnes & Noble for our party guests.

8. The guest list and menu has been decided on for the Ornament Exchange.  Since I will be working on Christmas Eve, I am planning an Open House for either the day after Christmas, or Saturday the 27th.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Day After (Thanksgiving)

It’s Turkey Casserole Day!  While others are out standing in lines to buy merchandise at ridiculously low (and MAHVELOUS) prices, I am preparing the turkey casserole that will get eaten by the inhabitants of this home and anyone and everyone who visits.  I can’t remember how I happened upon this recipe, but I have made it every year since.  In fact, if truth be told, I look forward to this more than I do the actual Thanksgiving Day dinner.  HOWEVER, I do not bake the casserole in the oven, instead I throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker that way it stays warm throughout the day, ready for guests.

If you are braving the weather and crowds in the pursuit of that toy, electronic or perfect gift, stay safe, have fun!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for God’s grace, my children, my parents, my grandchildren and my great grandchild.  For extended family members.  For friends and coworkers.  For our church family.  For good health. For peace.  For my big old drafty house and all its nooks and crannies.  For knowledge and patience and understanding.  For bus drivers. For books and the talented people who write them.  For my favorite tv shows. For the food we eat. The clothes we wear. For the Mister and our time spent together.  For trips to New York City.  For Christmas Carols, pretty presents, sparkling trees.  For leaves to rake. For sunshine and rain.  For beaches. For trains. For freedom.  For my 16 year old car.  For nights curling up on the couch with the kiddies and watching animated movies.  For my colorist and hair stylist, thank you Katie and Joe! For my job.  For my doctor.  For my life on this earth. For love. For all this and so much more.

Have a wonderful, lovely and turkey and pumpkin pie filled day.

Peace and giving,

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
~ W.T. Purkiser

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

When I got home from the office (they let us leave early!), I donned my apron (actually, one of my treasured aprons that belonged to my Nana), handed K an apron, set Elliot up with a few pots and pans and a big wooden spoon and proceeded to begin the prep work of tomorrow’s meal.  Thanksgiving is just a few hours away! This holiday and Christmas are my faves.  Kayla helped tear the loaves of bread for stuffing.  I pared the potatoes and set them in a pot of water in the fridge.  We pulled at the Cuisinart (pretty much used only once a year), and chopped, diced and sliced.  We got the pie into the oven and soon the kitchen was smelling amazing!  All the while we soaked dishes, washed dishes, dirtied more dishes.  After the prep work was complete, and the kitchen was put back in place, each of us showered, bathed the little guy, climbed into our pajamas and settled down to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  We will start early tomorrow with the actual stuffing, cooking, mashing, eating. 

Hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving Eve.

Current Conditions

It was 65 degrees here on Saturday. Today we have snow.  BUT the weekend weather is looking might FINE!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sending Thanksgiving Greetings!

This year I am sending Thanksgiving Day greetings.  My Mom is so good about sending traditional greeting cards through the mail.  I want to get into that habit, plus the little ones love getting mail.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Menu/The Grocery List

On my Countdown To-Do List this week was finalizing our Thanksgiving Dinner.  Not only did I finalize it, I also typed up the Grocery List and a menu plan for the whole week.  This way I can concentrate on the laundry and the cleaning and playing with baby.

The Menu/Grocery List
Thanksgiving Dinner
Mashed potatoes                                          potatoes, milk, butter
Buttered corn                                                 frozen corn
Turkey                                                             turkey
Cranberry sauce                                           cranberry sauce
Stuffing                                                            bread, mushrooms, onions, butter, milk
Cole Slaw                                                       cabbage, carrots, mayo
Crescent rolls                                                  rolls
Pumpkin pie                                                   store bought, this year
Gravy                                                              gravy

Pulled Pork Barbecue                                    Pork Roast  (Make extra)
Cole Slaw
Buns (Buy extra)

White Chicken Chili                                       Chicken tenders, McCormick’s spice,
                                                                        White Beans
                                                                        lettuce, cheese, sour cream

Barbecue Pork Tacos                                                Taco Shells, Cheese

Spaghetti and Meatballs                             Pasta, ground meat, seasonings, cheese,
                                                                         Sauce  Make extra meatballs

Turkey Casserole

Meatball Sandwiches

Easy Chicken Casserole                                Chicken Tenders, cream of chicken soup
                                                                        Sour cream, butter round
                                                                        crackers, onions.

Swiss cheese
Chocolate chips

Now to Shop!
Peace and giving,

"For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends."-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Countdown to Christmas, Week Four

I've been staying up with my Countdown.   You can see Week 3’s Countdown here  This is my Countdown for the Fourth Week of November:
1. Send Thanksgiving Day cards.
2. Be thankful for all you have, and all that you've accomplished to this point.
3. Enjoy your Thanksgiving! You deserve it.
4. Send out invitations for the Christmas Ornament Exchange.
5. Pick up Advent candles.  Advent begins Sunday.
6. Begin addressing Christmas cards.
7. Choose a decorating theme for Christmas.
8. Are you having any parties during the month of December? Begin planning the menus and guest lists.

Peace and giving,
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Week 3 of Christmas Countdown was
1.         Continue shopping for gifts;
2.         Update Christmas card list;
3.         Purchase or order Christmas cards.
4.         Make and freeze a batch of baked goods;
5.         Start collecting boxes/gift bags to use for gift wrapping, or make our own. 
6.         Start wrapping gifts as they are bought. 
7.         Finalize Thanksgiving dinner menu and entertainment plans.
1.       Ordered three Visual Land Prestige Tablets for B and J and J. Checking off that list!
2.       Updated the Christmas card list.
3.       We did neither this year as I have SO many (it is a weakness when it comes to buying Christmas cards, I love ‘em!).  We shopped the collection.
4.       Baked a batch of cut-out sugar cookies and stored them in the freezer.

5.       We are going to do a little of each. We bought a few rolls of paper at the Dollar Store and we will have E paint some brown shipping paper to use for smaller gifts.  I know I mentioned making envelopes using templates from Mirkwood Designs but forgot to put in the link for which I apologize.  It is here.
6.       We got off to a late start, but we’ve made up for it.
7.       The Thanksgiving Dinner menu has been finalized and the grocery list written out.  We plan to just relax and enjoy!

Peace and Giving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Light Up Night, Pittsburgh 2014!

Tonight, downtown Pittsburgh kicks off the holiday season with Light Up Night.  This past week, the stores and businesses have been busy decorating.  The Holiday Market has been built and wired and ready for shoppers in Market Square.  Macy's Holiday windows will be revealed this evening. The huge Christmas Tree will be lit, There will be lots of music, shopping, eating and fireworks. This is a fun evening and I am always surprised by the number of people who venture to town (despite the cold temperatures) on Light Up Night.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Eight Favorite Thanksgiving Themed Films

Along with adoring holiday themed books, I also have a love for holiday themed movies.  I really do.  Below is a list of a few of my very favorite Thanksgiving Themed Films.  I look forward to watching them this time each year.  

Thanksgiving Themed Films

1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles - John Candy, Steve Martin – What Thanksgiving is really all about.

2. Jack and Jill – Adam Sandler. Fun!

3. Home for the Holidays  - Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr.  This file is one of my absolute favorites.  Going home for the Holidays has never been more fun.

4. Pieces of April – Katie Holmes. This film is different, and I like it.

5. What’s Cooking?– Mercedes Ruehl.  Love this film!  

6. The Big Chill – Star studded cast including, Glenn Close, JoBeth Williams, Tom Berenger.  I can't even count the times I have watched this film. What a soundtrack!

7. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – The Peanuts Gang – it’s not a holiday without them.

8. Holiday Treasure – Jason Robards. I watched this as a young'un and it has always stuck with me.  I really like it.

Do you have a favorite?

Cheers to a Happy Day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Chick Fil A

Elliot's first visit to The Waterfront's Chick Fil A playroom.
Look close - he's in there
Peace and giving,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


18 degrees and snow. My journey to the bus stop. Happy Tuesday to you!

Peace and giving,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Well Read - the November Edition

This month I am reading The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond.  This is a story of how, in a matter of seconds, you can lose that which is most precious to you.  It's the story of Abby, a photographer, fiancĂ© and soon to be stepmom, while walking on the beach with six year old Emma, looks away for what might be 30 seconds only to find Emma gone.  It made me super aware of keeping watch over Elliot as we shopped this past weekend.  It's a page turner and I look forward to getting back to it.
Kayla is still working her way through Little Women.  Reading is not her favorite subject, but we'll get through it. 
November additions to Elliot’s ever-growing library, is this adorable board book by Roger Priddy.  It's musical also, push the big button and it plays Jingle Bells. 
Peace and giving,
We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude ~ Cynthia Ozick

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Countdown to Christmas, Week Three

Week 3 has officially begun.  You can see Week 1’s Holiday To-Do List here and Week 2’s here
To-Do this week:
1)     Continue shopping for gifts;
2)     Update Christmas card list;
3)     Purchase or order Christmas cards.  I have so many boxed sets that I really do not need to buy any for a few years.  However, there are so many adorable cards that when I see a set that appeals to me, I just have to buy them;
4)     Make and freeze a batch of baked goods (unfrosted cookies, bars, quick breads);
5)     Start collecting boxes and gift bags to use for gift wrapping, or do what K and I like to do – buy a roll of brown mailing paper from the dollar store.  Gather paints, stickers, ribbon, trim and create your own gift wrap.  One year, using an envelope template from Mirkwood, K fingerpainted on the brown paper and we cut out envelopes for money and gift card gifts;
6)     Start wrapping gifts as they are bought.  I must do this because I really do not like to wrap; and
7)     Finalize Thanksgiving dinner menu and entertainment plans.

Peace and giving

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.
~ Estonian Proverb

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Week 2 of my Holiday To-Do List was:
1) Continue shopping for gifts;
2) Begin buying nonperishable items for Holiday dinners;
3) Decide on table settings and linens, the good china?
4) Stock up on Holiday themed paper products;
5) Decorate for Thanksgiving ;
6) Send out Thanksgiving invites.

1. A good amount of gifts have arrived in the mail waiting to be wrapped. I ordered quite a few more yesterday and will order any remaining on-line purchases at the end of the month.  I should be pretty much finished by then.
2. My Mom “shops” her pantry first.  She’s a mini grocery store.  I’ve got most of my canned goods from her, i.e., cranberry sauce, carnation’s milk, green beans.
3. I am going to use my autumn tablecloth and these adorable pumpkins my Mom made a few years ago will again adorn my table.  

Even though it is going to be only three of us for dinner, I am still setting a pretty table, using our good dishes and silverware.
4. We took a trip to Sam’s last weekend and picked up some pretty ornament themed paper products for holiday entertaining.
5. Not many decorations for Thanksgiving, but enough.
6. No invites this year.  I am always for my children making new traditions with their families.  This year, my daughter has been working more out of the home and just wants to be home.  I know that feeling.  She is doing her own cooking and I am so proud of her.  And who doesn’t want leftovers?!

Peace and giving,

Hem in your blessing with thankfulness so they don't unravel.
~ Author Unknown

Friday, November 14, 2014

Around the House - For Convenience Sake!

At the beginning of last year, I took Becky Higgins’ Project Real Life through BigPicture Scrapbooking.  I came away from that series with so much more than just memory keeping.  Becky shared so many good ideas from her everyday life, that I found myself changing the way I did things around my own home.  For example, we live in a three story home with Elliot’s bedroom being on the third floor.  Instead of climbing flights of stairs every time he needed a diaper/clothing change, my Mom bought a 3 drawer “dresser” for us to use in containing E’s shoes, extra changes of clothes, blankets, etc.  This sits in the living room between the television and the mantel (in what would be wasted space).  Time saved!  There is also a basket of his toys in that room, too.  

Also on the first floor is the dining room, a bathroom and a nonworking kitchen (more about that later).  The bathroom is tiny and has no cupboards.  We put a shelf in the kitchen and bought baskets to hold large towels, washcloths, hairdryer and flatiron, diapers, little swimmers, extra skin lotion, shampoo and conditioner. No more up and down to the second floor bathroom.  This nonworking kitchen also has a dorm size freezer/fridge where we keep bottles of water, cans of soda, ice cream and ice pops.

          This multi-purpose way of storing often used items in uncommon places, has saved us a lot of time and energy.  Thanks, Becky!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Acorn Project

This craft idea was inspired by a post I recalled reading on Camilla at Home’s blog a while ago. The post showed a photo of hanging mason jars filled with acorns (inspiration – Pottery Barn).  I loved this idea and put it away for future crafting.  Well, that time had come.  Although, hanging glass and lit candles around these rough and tumble boys is not something we want to encourage, we modified the original idea.  The street I live on is lined with oak trees so we have plenty of acorns.  Giving the boys brown lunch bags, and a broom, I sent them outside to collect a few handfuls of acorns (the brooms were for the leaves they swept into piles for me to collect (smart thinking, huh??? clean yard/free help).  


Elliot, the overseer
After the acorns were washed and dried (I found directions for cleaning and debugging the acorns here).  While the acorns were in the oven, the boys and Kayla each painted their lids. 
Kayla painting
While the lids dried, they counted out acorns and filled their jars about ¼ of the way full. 

Then we added battery operated candles, screwed on the lids and turned out the lights. These jars were a hit and the kids really had a fun time making them. 

Peace and giving

The struggle ends when gratitude begins.
~ Neale Donald Walsh