Archives for December 2011

"Custom" Framing

For nine years, Dan’s diplomas sat in a cardboard tube.  Four years of undergraduate work…four years of medical school…two residencies.  All unframed and sitting in a corner of the closet.

Custom framing can be a huge expense – even if you have one of those 50% off coupons. And the fear of that large price tag kept me paralyzed. All that hard work, sitting hidden in cardboard tubes because I was too afraid (and dare I say maybe too lazy?) to deal with it.

This year, I was finally ready to attack the project.  I measured the diplomas and started shopping.  Much to my surprise, a few of them were a standard size and I was able to find some really beautiful frames.  And all of them were on sale! Ka-ching!

The biggest diploma caused the issue.  I found a great frame that cost a whopping $11 (I know, big spender!) but the matte was just a bit too big.

Can you see how the edges kind of curl up?

I figured a custom matte couldn’t be that much money!  So I went to the frame counter and had them re-cut a matte with a fillet for me. It was roughly $40. Not bad!

Today I picked up the new matte and put Dan’s diploma in it. Fits perfectly. And it looks like a pricey, custom frame job…..but the frame and new matte only cost $51!

No more curling edges!

If you have something that you think will need a custom frame, check out the pre-made frames and consider getting a custom matte cut. You’ll save a bundle!!


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O’ Christmas Tree – Part 2

Our Christmas tree is all decorated.  And while it’s not the fanciest of trees on the block, it’s ours.    There isn’t any expensive ribbon cascading down the sides. And there aren’t any matching set of sparkling ball ornaments.

But the tree represents almost 15 years of marriage and 8 years of life with kiddos.  There’s the ornament that we bought on our honeymoon and the ones we have received as gifts from family. But my absolute favorites of all are made by the smallest hands in this house.

This next one is the newest ornament to our collection.  I purchased for an ornament exchange at a friends house.   And since it was one of those ‘steal the gift’ kind of exchanges, well….let’s just say I stole it!   Not sure if that was breaking rules, but that shiny little number got to come back home with me that very same night!!

And this one represents an organization very near and dear to our hearts.

The only other consistent item on our tree (other than white lights) is the red berry garland.  I love it.  And it goes up every year. I’m not sure when I will grow tire of it, but for now, it still makes me smile!
And in an effort to decorate the base of the tree, I started wrapping gifts today too.  I love having fun wrapping paper.  And double sided wrapping paper is double the fun!  Look at this monster roll that I purchased at Costco!

A roll this large will surely last me into
next year. Let’s hope I still love it then!
Fun wrapping paper deserves an equally great gift tag.  I printed a few sets off of the Jones Design Company website.  Don’t you love them!?
via jones design company

So I got busy wrapping, and was able to put a few gifts under the tree.  It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Have a great weekend!
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My Mantel

My living room mantel was all decorated for Christmas with the rest of the house. But I didn’t love it.  Part of me was just happy to have that ‘to do’ crossed off my list.  But the rest of me desired something different. So my poor mantel was left out of my Christmas blogging because I was unhappy with how it looked.

I used fresh cedar when I first decorated and wound lights around it.  Talk about drying up fast! I always use fresh greens in my house, but in small quantity. So the fact that they dry out doesn’t seem like too big of an issue.  But oh my – a big 7 foot section of cedar is a giant mess when it dries up in your house!   My main priority should have been the major fire hazard that was my mantel. But it wasn’t.  Fashion first, right?  I should have been thinking ‘safety first!’ So today, I disassembled the mantel and gave it a new look.

Here is my mantel earlier today.  Shall we call it Christmas Mantel #1?


 It was rather flat looking too me.  Needed some height. Maybe some color (and not more yellow! The yellow-ish walls and yellow glow of the candles is plenty, thank you very much. Maybe it’s time for the wall color to change too!!  Hint hint, Dan!)


You can’t even see the ‘NOEL’ stocking holders. They blend into the greenery and lights.
Since my party was over, I didn’t have an urgent need for the table centerpiece anymore.  I borrowed two of the red lanterns and used them on the new mantel.
After a big mess of dried cedar, here is the updated look. I present to you….Christmas Mantel #2.
Much more bright and cheery.
One of my favorite things is the old tin that hangs above our fireplace.  It was one of those great bargains that I’m so thankful we didn’t pass up.  It’s from an old salvage yard from our years of living in Texas.   It cost me a whopping $25. And 12 years later, I still love it!  During the holidays, I like to hang the two red berry wreaths on them for added color.


My Lowes lanterns, Costco flameless candles, cranberries floating in water and fresh greens from my yard are a new, welcome look to our mantel. (yes, more fresh greens – but in small quantity this time and with no lights wrapped around them!)


And now you can actually see my NOEL stocking holders!

My mom knit Dan and me these Christmas stocking when we were first married. As the kids came along, they each got a matching sock.  Now our set is complete!!

Aaaah.  New mantel = happy me! And no fire hazard = happy insurance company! Let’s take one more before and after look.
Christmas Mantel #1 – BEFORE

Christmas Mantel #2 – AFTER

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Ol’ Saint Nick

Every year we pay a visit to Santa Claus.  We try and make it fun and festive.  We go to downtown Seattle.  Wait in line at Nordstrom.  Enjoy some cookies and hot apple cider while we stand in the long line.
For Jack, this is such an exciting event.  And for Emmie…..
Emmie almost 1 years old –  Jack 3 years old

…..not so much.  She didn’t care for Santa when she was 1 years old.

Emmie 2 years old – Jack 4 years old
She didn’t like him any more when she was 2 years old.
Emmie 3 years old – Jack 5 years old
When she was 3, we had to put a little muscle into getting her to sit on his lap.
Emmie 4 years old – Jack 6 years old

At age 4, she lookslike she’s ok with Santa.  But truth be told, she has no idea Santa was standing behind her. Santa got up so Jack and Emmie could sit in his chair – and he returned quickly at the last minute, just in time for the picture.

Emmie 5 years old – Jack 7 years old
Last year, it looked like we were making some serious progress.  After some tears and anxiety while waiting in line, Emmie agreed she would STAND next to Santa. That gave her very little contact with Mr. Claus.  Smiling pictures. Candy cane afterward. Success!  Well, that was until…..
2011 – almost 6 years old

….this year.  Emmie hit an all time high with Santa panic.  The only thing that would calm her down was waiting outsidewith my mom, while Jack was inside on Santa’s lap.

Emmie gives Santa the stink eye.
Even from outside the window, Emmie wasn’t too sure about Santa.  And I must confess, I was frustrated and disappointed.  My perfect display of Santa pictures is now a little askew.  Not only do we have a picture without tears, we have a picture without Emmie!  There is no record of Emmie with Santa in 2011.  In the scheme of things, I know this is such a small matter.  What’s most important is that Jesus is Lord of her life and that she remembers the real reason that we celebrate Christmas.  And it’s NOT to give Mommy the perfect Santa picture.
Santa was kind enough to send Jack out with a candy cane for Emmie. So while we warmed up with a coffee at Starbucks, the kids enjoyed their treat.
And the day was still fun, despite our Santa mess.
We should get the official picture in the mail sometime next week!!  I have my picture frame ready and waiting…for Jack and Santa.

Christmas Decor

I spent more time decorating for Christmas this year than ever before…or at least, that’s how it felt!  But it was worth all the effort because I’m quite happy with how things turned out.  
I was motivated to get it all done because we were hosting a party for 29 people (14 adults and 15 kids!!) It might sound like a lot of people, but it was a great time!  
Here are some shots of our house, ready for the big event!

Centerpiece: lantern from Lowes  with fresh greens, berries and pinecones.

Click here to read more on this centerpiece and our new dining room.
My grandmas silverware and a linen napkin wrapped in twine with fresh cedar.

Add a little color to your water with fresh cranberries. 
Just a friendly reminder to guests….
Paper plates, napkins and forks for the kiddos, displayed in an old Pepsi crate.
And a few shots from around the house….

Lit garland with torn ribbon for bows.
Click here to read about making this lit branch arrangement.

Dining Room Reveal

It’s done! The dining room is complete.  Wall decor hung. Light fixture installed (and working!). Christmas decor in place.

Thank you for waiting so patiently for my reveal.  It’s been done for a bit, but the days have been a touch gloomy and I’ve had a hard time photographing it in what little natural light we’ve had. But the pictures will have to do the job, good lighting or not….you’ve waited long enough.

Here are the before pictures (or to read the post, click here.)

And now, I introduce to you, the dining room!!  (Drum roll please…….)

Slipcovered parson chairs, from World Market.  It is a light, neutral color, but the face that they are slipcovered allows me to take them off for a quick cleaning.
Red lanterns from Lowes cost only $6 each.   And by adding fresh greens, pine cones and berries, I had a full centerpiece that was low enough to not block visual space when we sat down to eat. (Decorating tid bit: before you throw out your fresh, green wreath after Christmas, take off the pine cones and fake berries.  Toss them in your Christmas decor bin and re-use next year when decorating!)
I hung a fresh wreath with some satin ribbon.  It added nice color to the room.  There isn’t a ton of wall space in this room so the window provided the perfect background for the wreath.
New light fixture from Ballards – hung by yours truly!  I love that you can see the texture in the drum shade.
The dining room table is also from World Market.   The color of the finish is just what I was looking for.  It’s rustic looking, which is perfect for our family of four. My hope is that any new scratches or dents will just blend right in!  It came with two breadboard leaves too, which we have already put to use.

I have some of my grandmothers old silver trays. They don’t get much use so hanging them up seemed like a great use of my dining room walls (which I’m still itching to paint a different color. Dan still likes the red.  So we’ll keep that through the holidays and leave that project for another day).
What do you think? I hope it lives up to the anticipation.  We are sure enjoying it!!  
Thanks for reading.
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Branching Out

A few months ago, I pinned this image on Pinterest. Loved the lit branches and how it added so much warmth to the vignette.

via pinterest

I had the itch to recreate this look.  Dan and I found some lit branches on a weekend getaway to Bellingham.  I felt like they were a bit pricey ($39 for 3 branches) but we both loved them – and were in the shopping mood….so they became ours!   And after a gathering a few supplies around the house and yard, I was able to put this together.

The supplies were simple to gather up…most of which came from the yard and throughout the house.  The branches are from the woods behind us.

This box of branch lights are from Target and cost roughly $20.  They are LED lights so the glow is a bit different than the ones we purchased in Bellingham but they worked great for the arrangement I put together on our front porch.

Rocks from the yard (Yes, that is rain water.  The northwest IS as rainy as you’d think!)
Find a fun container, vase, metal bucket (or trash can! This one is from Target and I thought it would work great in case I couldn’t find anything else around the house).
Start placing branches and rocks into the container. You will have to fiddle with the position of the branches (both real and lit….make sure you open up the lit branches, spreading out the limbs to make them look more like a real branch….not that real branches are lit. But you get the idea.)  And you’ll probably need to trim the real branches some too.
After a little bit of work, you should have a new piece of decor for your house or front porch! Here are the two I’ve created for my house.
I hope your arrangement brings some fun twinkle to your house this holiday!!
A few blogs have featured my post!  
I’m linking up to:
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