Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Winter!!!!

My dearest friend, Marlene, has inspired me again!!  She was commenting on the APP forum that we love, and made an off-handed greeting to us of "Happy Winter" on December 21, the first day of winter.....and all of a sudden I thought of how wonderful that sounded -- in the midst of the speedy, fast-paced Christmas holiday, a wonderful Winter reminder! :-D  And it got me thinking.....why don't I continue some of my favorite flourishes-embellishments-trimmings-adornments in celebration of winter -- the things that aren't just about Christmas?  Like my sparkling little kitchen tree?  And I could finish my gingerbread men garland and leave my gingerbread sled out!  And I could keep some pine boughs and red berries around!!

There are lots of fun "Winter-ish" things I could focus on and play with that would keep that celebratory feeling around my home!! :-D  So that's what I'm going to try to do!  I'll be sure to post my HAPPY WINTER flourishes, too!  THANK YOU, Marlene! ;-)

I've been a little distracted around here since Christmas and My Floor because I've had Brian home ALL WEEK!  Yay!!!!  His work shuts down for Christmas week AND tomorrow and New Year's Day too!!  Oh, it's been SO fun to just be with him all this time! :-D  We keep looking at the floor and talking about how much we love it and what we can do with our bathroom when it's time (years away!)!!  We really wanted to do some of the trim this week too, but money has really just run out! LOL  We will have to wait a few weeks to let our finances catch up!  That's ok, I have lots of fun things to do around here while I wait.....I've been thinking of moving some things around in my kitchen -- I still have most of the stuff that goes in there sitting in the library room, so I can easily put it all anywhere I want to!!  And I still need to paint my island.....! :-D

I did get to buy a few fun things yesterday......
Look at these candles I found at Walmart!!!  The tapers were 22 cents each, and the pillar and glass candles were $1.50 each!!  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but it's going to be something! :-D

And, of course, I had to get some more WOOL.....

The top picture is wool clothing I bought about a month ago, but I got the two jackets and the sweater in the last two pictures just yesterday, they were $1.50 each!!!  Yay! :-D  I picked them apart last night and felted them today......
BUT, the most exciting thing is that I coffee stained some of the pieces!!
I picked the red and some of the grayish-brown above.....

I put about 1/2 cup of ground coffee in each pot with the water, and I added a little over 1/2 cup of white vinegar, which is important to get the color to penetrate the wool (thanks, Cee, for your advice! ;-D).....then I stirred in the pieces and brought the water to a boil, then shut the heat off and let the wool sit in there for about an hour.
Then I rinsed the pieces in the sink.....

And threw them in the washing machine to rinse (with hot water) and spin, and then the dryer on high, and here's how they turned out.....

PRETTY GOOD, right?!!! :-D  I love it, especially the browns in the bottom picture!  Now to find something to use them in......! LOL

So I guess it will be a little while before I can get to work on the wood for my living room floor, or the trim for the kitchen.....which IS disappointing!  But I have plenty of little jobs and projects around here that I can work on while I wait.  And I'm going to be posting pictures of my "Happy Winter" embellishments, don't forget!  Let's see what I can come up with for that.....!! ^-^

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Have My NEW FLOOR!!!! :-D

Oh yes, that's what I said -- we did the floor on Saturday thru Tuesday (Christmas Day!)!!  Phew!!!!  It was ALOT of work, but SOOOO worth it!  But I'll get to that LATER.....first.....CHRISTMAS!!! :-D

In spite of everything working against me having a happy holiday, Christmas was delightful!  We could only get a few little things for the kids, but I did good with it, and they loved what they got!! :-)  I found some really cool, fun, inexpensive things for them -- Brian picked out two leather jackets for the boys from the Thrift store for $12 each, I also bought them all a few really nice shirts from the thrift store -- Gap shirts even, which I could NEVER afford brand new!  I got a few board games for them, and some books that they were searching the library for (but couldn't find).  We got Emily a few bead kits and some new beading tools, and Brian wanted her to have a nail polish set with a nail dryer fan built in to it! LOL  She's always complaining about how long it takes for her nails to dry, so she was really excited about that.  We got them a table-top foosball game and pool table -- those are really fun!!  And we could afford only ONE archery set, but that was a huge hit with all of them!  So I spent under $200 and it was all good, they were really happy!

For dinner, I baked a ham, and I made two very yummy dishes -- Cheesy Onion Casserole (from a previous post!), and Cheesy Sliced Potato Bake......

They were delicious, and they all kept saying how yummy everything was! :-D
Here are the links to the recipes that I used.....

Cheesy Onion Casserole

Cheesy Potato Bake

I also owe you guys a recipe for our favorite cookies.....

Oatmeal Gingersnaps
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling cookies in
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, molasses and egg.  Add sugar and mix well.  Combine dry ingredients and stir them into the butter mixture.  Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Roll into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar.  Bake 10 minutes.  Makes 3 1/2 dozen.

You won't regret making these!!  In fact, I'm making another batch tomorrow! :-D  Yum, yum, yum!!

Something else I want to share is that I finished my penny rug about 2 weeks ago, and haven't posted about it yet!  I LOVE how it came out.....

See the stitches up close?  I love those little stars! :-D  I am contemplating tea or coffee staining this....I'm not sure....but I think I want it to look a little grungier (is that a word??) we'll see!  I am searching for wool for my NEXT rug, that I can't wait to start!  I'll talk more about that next time....!! :-D

So.....THE FLOOR.....I CAN'T believe the thing I've wanted, and planned for, and thought about for the past 5-6 years is here -- I HAVE it!!  Wow!  I told Brian last night that the kitchen floor was the biggest job we had to do in the whole house, and now it's done!  The only other tiling we have to do is in our bathroom, and that's less than half the size of the kitchen.
And oh boy, was it a big job!!  Saturday we moved all the stuff out of the kitchen.....
After that, Brian and the boys screwed down the cement backer board.....

Good bye, hideous floor!!!! :-D

I told Brian just having the backer board down made me happy! LOL  All that wretched vinyl is gone!!!

There was no time to begin the tiling after all this, so we waited until the next day to start -- Sunday!
I couldn't imagine how this whole job would be done.....I mean, it seemed so huge and impossible to me!!  But that's where Brian is the perfect match for me -- I'm the dreamer, the planner....he's the DOER.  He makes all my ideas come to life!! :-D  He had tiled his mom's house years ago, and then when he worked in construction (years ago, too), he did tiling as well.  So he has plenty of experience with it.  We tiled the kids' bathroom about 3 years ago, too, but it's so tiny, it took less than two hours to do -- this kitchen looked HUGE and daunting to me!!
Sunday morning, Brian started mixing the mortar.....
.....and away we went!!! :-D
He "snapped a line" to make sure the tiles went down "right", which I guess means "in line"......
Can you see the very light red lines going along each wall?  Those tiles are just laid out because they are the first ones I want him to put down.
It only took 30 minutes to get the first row done.....
He also used a laser to mark his tile line (it's in the top right corner of the picture), and the white cardboard next to the tile is what he held up so he could see the laser beam as we got further away!
Next, the other row along the other side.....
That's the corner where the stove goes!
And on we went.....

Brian wiped on the mortar and set the tiles, and I ran around behind him picking the tiles that I wanted to go in each spot, getting things he needed, cleaning any mortar spots off the tiles, and when he had to cut the tiles to fit around the counters and island, I held the tiles down and held the hose on them so there was a trickle of water running over them while he cut them with his special saw blade.  You see, tile guys have special saws called wet saws that flow water over the tiles as they are being cut, so they don't splinter and spark and blow up a bunch of ceramic dust everywhere.  But we didn't want to rent one of those saws (it was $70 a day!), so all Brian had to do was buy a special blade and use our own water!!  And that was my job! :-D  All his cuts came out perfectly!
It took us about 7 hours to get the whole thing done, and we were exhausted and SORE, but oh, what a difference......
You can see that I haven't painted my island black yet! LOL
Oh, who cares about that, just look at those tiles!!  *Sigh!*
The next day was the grout (oh, and Christmas Eve!).....but it was a much quicker, easier job.....

Brian pressed the grout into the seams, and my job was to go behind him (after about 10 minutes) and wipe the grout seams with a damp sponge to smooth them.  That's IT!!
After we had finished all that, we waited about 30 minutes for it to SET, and then we went back and cleaned all the tiles with a damp sponge.....the first time......
Ummm.....yeah, you can see that they needed to be cleaned a few more times! LOL
Actually, it took twice more, once that night, and the last time was on Christmas morning, right after the kids opened their presents!! LOL  Talk about cutting it close! :-D
The boys helped Brian bring all the stuff back into the kitchen, including the oven, so I could start the ham!


The pictures can't even capture how warm and homey it looks!  I love it SO MUCH, and I just can't believe it's all done!!!  Remember the picture a few posts ago, where I laid the tiles out in front of the fridge, on the ugly taped floor?  Here it is now.....
Aaaaahhhhh!!!  Sooooo wonderful!!! :-D

Of course, there is still plenty of work left to do in here -- now we can trim out the doorways, the baseboard, and the ceiling!!  And add the thresholds.  And I can finish stenciling, and I have to paint the island.  But a little cloud has floated into my happy I look at my gorgeous floor, I think I might have to repaint the cabinets and trim.....!!!!  I just don't know -- that mustard color takes on a greenish hue next to the floor now.....I don't know if I'm going to be happy with it.....*sigh!*  It never ends!! Hahaha!

So, now that all my distractions are fixed, I'm ready to celebrate and enjoy the Christmas season! LOL  Uh-oh!!  It's OVER......I've totally missed it! :-(  One thing I'm really sad about is that we didn't get to go to the living Nativity that a nearby church does the weekend before Christmas -- I LOVE seeing that, but we were busy with the floor while they were doing it, so we didn't get to go.  I know it's coming again next year, but I hate having to put it off.  Well, I am setting a goal for myself, right here --- I am going to spend this next year getting all my unfinished projects finished, that way I won't have them distracting me next Christmas!!  Let's see, I have to get the kitchen all done, then the wood floor in the family room, then finish painting all the trim and the doors, then use the antiquing glaze that's just sitting here on the living room walls, and.....I think that's it, for the main living area anyway!  The bedrooms all need to be "done", but I'll focus on that after I'm done with the kitchen, living and family rooms.  Then I will have lots of places for my favorite Christmas decorations!!! :-D

OK, this is by far my longest post ever!  I definitely have to get back to posting a few times a week -- I've been working on this post now for hours!! LOL  Well, it's all too exciting, even just writing about it and looking at all those pictures again.....I am SO happy and grateful, and satisfied, that my years-old-dream has happened!  And it's as wonderful as I always thought it would be!! :-D
Brian and I didn't get eachother any Christmas presents this year - there was just NO money, and I told him the best present for me is to save money by NOT buying me anything! LOL  But really, my best present is us getting this floor done -- I can't think of anything I wanted more than this!!

I hope everyone enjoyed my mini-novel of a post here, and I hope everyone got their favorite and best presents for Christmas, too, just like me!! ^-^

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I just want to wish all my internet friends and blog readers a Merry Christmas!!
I hope everyone had a joyful day celebrating with family and friends! :-D

I'll post tomorrow with some FUN FUN FUN pictures!

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!!! ^-^

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guess What I'm Doing....AGAIN.....!!

And of course, like the rest of this Christmas Season That Wasn't, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS!!!! :-P

Here's a hint......

If you guessed "Saving More Abandoned Puppies" are RIGHT!!!

These are MORE puppies from my neighbor's dogs, but the difference is that one of the wives over there asked me to help her find homes for them (thank God!).  Still, these puppies were born outside and have only lived OUTSIDE for their whole short lives.  I think it's barbaric to leave tiny baby domestic animals outside in every kind of weather!  But the great news is that I found a home for each of them in two days!! :-D  Right now we only have one left, he is here in the house with us tonight, and I'm bringing him to a new owner tomorrow morning!!  YAY!
Oh, but he is SO ADORABLE......
*Sigh!!*  He's like a bean bag when you hold him, he just totally relaxes and slumps into your arms or lap!

So after Christmas, I'm really going to start pressuring them over there to get their dogs FIXED.  I'll tell them I'll drive them if they need it, I'll get the forms so they can use the low-cost spaying that our county offers, whatever they need.  I mean, I can't stand this!!

Now, you realize that this all came down upon me two days ago, and I've been on my computer emailing potential owners constantly since then, and on the phone too, and I've made four drives out and about meeting these people to bring them the dogs.....and I'm supposed to be getting the kitchen ready for the flooring!!  Well, looks like that's going to be delayed by a day -- not that it matters, that's what Brian said.  He is so supportive and helpful about this puppy stuff, and I'm so glad I'm married to someone who agrees that we have to do whatever we can to help needy animals!  I mean, he's a cat person!!  And we have four dogs now! LOL

SO.....Christmas is in a few days, I have none of my decorations out (except the tree), I have kitchen flooring stacked against my family room wall, I have family room furniture scrunched together to make room for my kitchen furniture that will be moved out of the kitchen tomorrow, I don't have my Christmas shopping finished for my kids -- they are only getting 4 small things each, but I still can't manage to GET them! -- I have had puppies scampering all over my house for two days, I haven't even planned our Christmas dinner yet -- well, I have the ham, but what are we having WITH it?? -- oh, and did I mention I don't have any of my favorite decorations out, the ones I look forward to seeing every year???  Yeah, there's no way this is Christmas!!! LOL

Now one fun thing is that the day before puppy-mania descended on us, I spent the whole day baking cookies for Brian to bring to work!  I LOVE doing that, and Brian loves when I do it, too!! :-)  I think he's proud of me when he gets to bring the cookies in and everyone there loves them.  He works for a heavy equipment company (they build construction vehicles), so it's all men, and you know that none of them are bringing in food to share!  It gives me a really happy feeling to do something special like that for all of them.  And I love baking, especially cookies, and I have some TERRIFIC recipes....
Here is my first batch going into the oven -- they are Peanut Blossoms, peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss on them!  YUM!!
All done with these!!  It's so hard not to eat them all! :-D
Here are two more kinds we love....
The top are Chocolate Crinkles (they have powdered sugar on them!), and the plain-looking cookies on the bottom are Almond cookies -- they look plain and boring, but they are delicious!
These are the best cookies, and always get eaten up first -- Oatmeal Gingersnaps.....
They have white chocolate chips in them!  If you like ginger cookies, you've GOT to try these!!!  I'll post the recipe in my next post!! :-D
These are some of Brian's favorites.....
They are Chocolate Carmelita Bars, from the Taste of Home website.....all I can say is WOW!!
These are the last batch I made, Italian Cookies.....
I use homemade frosting and red, green, and plain sugar crystals.  They have ricotta cheese in them!!  It makes them soft and cake-like!  My daughter had fun frosting them and dipping them in the sugars with me!! :-D

So you can see I made a bunch of cookies!  It took all day, but it was so worth it.  I still have left-over batter to make them fresh for us....YUMMY!!

Well, I've taken the tiny puppy outside to go to the bathroom, and I'm ready for bed!  Phew!!  I'll be glad to get back to normal around here....well, after the puppy is gone, and then after the kitchen floor is done....oh, and after Christmas, and after cleaning up and putting things back, and.....WAIT -- I guess there's no real normal around here, is there??? LOL ^-^

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Christmas Season that ISN'T.....

I have really been struggling to write a post this week.....this whole month hasn't felt "Christmas-y" to me, for alot of reasons, but when I heard about the school shooting in Connecticut, ALL my creativity and happiness just LEFT.  I haven't watched any of it, but I've read a few headlines (and then clicked away), and it's always in the back of my mind, as I plan cookies for our homeschooling cookie swap, or shop for Christmas presents for my kids, or watch my favorite Christmas movies, or look at pictures to post on here.....there is a pall that has fallen over me and I can't seem to get out from underneath it.  As a mother, I can't bear it.
HOW do I pull out the rest of my decorations and put them up, when there are families up there struggling with such an enormous loss???  I can't.

I got a really helpful perspective from one of my favorite Walmart cashiers the other day (I get very attached to the people who help me!)......she said that it's not about asking God "Why?", He has a plan that is beyond us and our comprehension, and He loves those children and their families more than anyone on earth does.  Instead of "why", we need to ask God for the strength to trust Him in this horrible situation, and for PEACE for those families and ourselves.  I was so grateful to hear her put it in those terms for me.  It did help me to think of it like that.  But I still struggle with asking Him, or the universe, or anyone listening, "why?" ......WHY?????

So I am having a hard time posting about things that seem so trivial now -- penny rugs? dried oranges? gingerbread ornaments??  Does any of that really matter, AT ALL???

Add to that the fact that we have very little money to buy presents for our kids or to do any kind of shopping, and that our dear little Minnie has eaten the rest of my gingerbread ornaments (who knew she could reach that far back on the counter?? :-P), and pulled the lights and some ornaments off the bottom rows of our tree (so now it's bare on the bottom! LOL), and that all my kids seem to want to do this year is play their video games or sit and stare at the computer, and that it's hardly even COLD outside......well, you get the picture!!

Actually, there is one reason I can't focus completely on Christmas that is a GOOD reason......ready?......we are putting our NEW kitchen floor down THIS weekend!!!!  That's right -- Brian's last day of work is tomorrow, and we want to get the floor done before Christmas so he can still have time to relax and enjoy the rest of his week off after.....oh, and time to fix any issues that come up while doing the floor (there are always SOME issues!).  So that is GREAT, and makes me very happy and excited (when I'm not thinking about how those families in CT don't care about how their homes look anymore....*sigh!*).

It makes me a little nervous too -- I mean, it's two days away, and I haven't done anything to get ready for it, like I meant to!  I wanted to paint my island black (remember that project?), and I wanted to repaint my cabinets next to the floor because some of the paint has worn off.  Also, thinking about having to move our stove, refrigerator, cabinets, tables, chairs, all our stuff out of there is overwhelming!  It seems impossible!!  And all that stuff will have to be crowded into the family room where the tree is, for days -- YIKES!
I'll be sure to take TONS of pictures to share on here!  It really is so very fun and exciting -- I've wanted a tile floor in there for about 6 years!!!! :-D

So, I've gotten this difficult post out of the way, and I feel better than I did before I typed it. 
But does that sound selfish even?  Nothing even happened to ME, and I'm acting like I have something to get I even have a right to feel like that??  Should I even be trying to "feel better"?
I guess I don't really mean that I feel ok about what happened, what I mean is that I feel better about POSTING, about sharing such small, insignificant things in my life, while knowing that there are mothers up there who's entire worlds have fallen apart......  Yeah, I guess I don't feel any better at all.....

I'm sorry if this post hurt anyone or added to their sorrow over what happened -- I just couldn't start posting about normal life as if it never happened.  But this will be the only post that I will be talking about it, even though it will always be on my mind.  For all the people who have been touched (burned?) by this horrible, unthinkable act.....I pray for your peace and comfort.  My heart is broken for all of you, and I deeply wish I could do anything that would help.  But I can only think to that's what I will do.  May God be with all of you..... :-(

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a COLD Christmas!!!!

**MORE trouble with blogger!! :-P  This post was supposed to post on Sunday afternoon!!  Now I have to wait to do my NEXT post that I wanted to do todayGGRRR!!  Sorry!**


I am so excited because we got a different kind than I've ever had before.....we got a Douglas Fir!!!  The needles are longer than the trees we have always had, Frasier Firs, and it smells more piney in the house! :-D
The best part is that they were $10 cheaper than the same size Frasier Firs -- YAY!!

BUT.....tell me, is there anything wrong with this picture......???
See what he is wearing????  I had jeans on, but short-sleeves and flip-flops too!  And I could have taken a picture of the family in the next row tying on their Christmas tree, but I didn't want to be creepy -- THEY all had short-sleeves and shorts on, too!!  To this New England girl, it was like being in the Bizarro World Christmas!!! :-P

Here it is at home, in it's spot.....
(notice the very nice walls behind it.....)(LOL -- I couldn't resist!)
The branches still need to fall, so we'll decorate it later.  It smells SO GOOD!!! :-D
See how soft it looks?  Look at the needles.....
That's twice as long as other fir trees!!  I've never seen a Douglas Fir before today, and I think it's my new favorite, must-have Christmas tree!  I can't wait until we decorate it....!! :-D

This has been such a FUN weekend for me -- I didn't get any of my list-projects done, but my doctor's appointment went well on Friday (my shoulder still hurts, but the numbness is gone, and I got a prescription for a different muscle relaxer that works great without making me drowsy or loopy!), and yesterday (Saturday) we went to the thrift store and I found some great wool sweaters - great colors!!......
Those are ALL wool, and cost between $1.25 and $3.....WOW!!  I can't beat that! :-D  I only felted them, I didn't pick the seems all didn't seem necessary with soft sweaters.  All I need to do is cut out the pieces that I want.  Here they are after I felted them in the wash......
See how small they are now?! LOL  And they are SO SOFT.....I almost want to make a blanket out of them!
I found another treasure at the thrift store.....
.....a little wooden sled!!!!  It's so cute, and perfect -- I'm going to paint and distress it!!  Just wait until you see it when I'm done! :-D

The final fun thing this weekend was that I moved on to the last phase of my penny rug -- the edge row. 
I stitched on all the light green row pennies, and then I pinned all the brown circles down, and tried to think of how to best cut the black around them.....YIKES!!
I sat and looked at it for a day, and then just did it.......
First I cut it close, and then I went back and shaped it around each penny....
It was nerve-wracking!!! LOL  I made a few mistakes, but I fixed them the best I could, and I don't think they will show at all when I do the stitching.  Hey, this is part of the charm of hand-made antiques -- nothing looks as perfect as when a machine does it, right?!  I just have to keep that in mind, because as an ultra-perfectionist with myself, I'm not satisfied unless my work DOES look like a machine made it! :-P
So I guess this is all good for me, having to accept and even embrace my mistakes......Oh PHOOEY!!!  Where are my scissors???!!  Haha! ;-)

I love the look from the back......
All the little stitches almost look like their own embroidery design!  I'm not sure what to do with the back of this one.....should I put a backing on it, like my mom's?  Or just leave it like this?  I'm not sure.  There's no way I could iron a proper edging around all those half-circles!  Hmmm.....something to think about.....

And oh, I've already picked out my next penny rug I want to make!  I'm already gathering and comparing wool colors for it!! :-D  Oh yeah, I'm obsessed!! (for now!)

I am so excited about decorating the tree later!!  I am also really hoping the air will cool down about 20 degrees, so it at least feels like Christmas (kind of!) -- I mean, this weather probably feels like the real day that Christ was born, but it's still a damper on getting into the Christmas spirit!  I'll feel better when the tree is all done and I have my carols playing, and the rest of my decorations out.

Oh I can't WAIT to show everyone!! ^-^