Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Santa Pictures

One of my favorite things to display at the holidays is my collection of Santa Pictures with my girls.  It is so fun to take a trip down memory lane and see how much they have grown over the years.  The pictures remind me of not only what I see, but the stories behind the pictures as well.  Making our annual trip to see Santa was not always an easy task.

I had it in my head that the pictures should be taken at the same location every year.  Or if not at the same location, at least by the same company.  When I was little we had our annual Santa pictures taken at Fredrick & Nelson.  When my girls were born, Fredricks was gone, but Nordstrom took over and so Nordstroms it had to be!

Our very first Christmas we planned a very festive trip to Downtown Seattle, dressed our 3 month old baby up in her pretty Christmas Dress and stood in the long line to take a picture with Santa.  After about an hour of waiting in the cold long line, we rounded a corner to where we could actually see Santa.  Once we saw Santa, I decided after seeing him that he didn't look "authentic" enough for our baby's very first Santa picture.

So we marched back to the car, packed her in her carseat, and proceeded North to the next closest Nordstrom.  We went up to find Santa waiting with no line and candycanes ready.  PERFECT!!  We had found our new favorite place to get our Santa pictures!

The next year we went back to that store, went upstairs to find Santa, and found one of Santa's helpers sadly turning folks away.  We asked where Santa was and if he would be returning soon, but unfortunately Santa had just passed away.  Heartbroken over such sad news, we left and visited another store further North.  Santa never returned to that store, and it still saddens me to this day to think of Santa's family losing him over the holidays.

The next year we went back to the alternate Nordstroms, and it seems they had closed that Santa location and were down to just 2 locations in the Seattle area - downtown like we had gone the first year, and another location in Bellevue, just East of Seattle.  We made it to Bellevue, only to be told Santa is off duty.  Now remember, getting 2 girls dressed in their pretty Christmas Dresses, getting Dad off work and everyone together in rush hour traffic to go see Santa is no easy task.

I called Nordstrom and vented about my frustrating experiences with visiting Santa, and was invited to bring the girls in for a VIP Santa visit.  Our names were put at the top of  the waiting list, so when we arrived we would pass everyone else, visit Santa, take the picture and be on our merry way.  I have to say, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but when the time came and we were walking in front of all the tired, crabby children so my little princesses could get their VIP treatment, I felt a little silly.  It was very nice of Nordstrom to accomodate us like they did, but the dose of humble pie that went along with it left a bad taste in my mouth.

I decided the next year that we could branch off and try a new Santa.  I really wanted the brown mats that the photos were placed in to look the same, and fortunately we had collected a few extras over the years, so at this point, where we went really didn't matter (as long as the Santa looked authentic!).  We have gone to private photo studios, Macys and the Santa in the Mall (as long as it wasn't the one in his suspenders and work clothes - he MUST be in his Santa uniform!) Our girls are almost too old to visit Santa anymore.  Soon they will be setting their car keys on the counter next to Santa.  I figure as long as they live here and get presents from Santa, they will continue to keep mom happy by getting their picture taken with the big guy.

Merry Christmas to all~  Ho Ho Ho!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It takes a village...

And a Christmas tree, and some stockings hung by the chimney with care, but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The bookshelf on the left is still a work in progress, but the mantle is done!

I made the stockings about 5-6 years ago.  They are made from fleece and felt.  There was no pattern, I just started cutting the felt and hoped it all came together in the end.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

The village was a tradition started in our family by my grandmother.  She did ceramics as a hobby, and had a beautiful village displayed in her home each year.  Over the years she made villages for all her grandkids.  I have since supplemented the initial village with a few pieces purchased from the store, but many of the original buildings and people were hand painted by her.

This year I added little rock walkways to the village.


My kids look forward to helping put the village together each year.  It's almost as much fun as decorating the tree!

Do you have a Christmas Village your family displays?  Please share it!

Happy decorating everyone!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Tablescape

Happy Thanksgiving!  I've been busy getting the house clean, the table set, the food prepared - now I just need the ice on the driveway to melt so my 18 guests can arrive safely!  I must say, it's been nice to be snowed-in, more gets done that way.  Schools have been cancelled, so the kids have been busy sledding, drinking cocoa and baking sugar cookies.

OK, so the frosting didn't quite turn out like I had hoped.  I was going for Autumn colors - orange, brown and green, but they turned out more of a poopy-brown and pea green.  Funny, none of the kids wanted to eat any or take any home with them.  I'm just not the baker that my sister is.

Moving on...

The tables are all set and look very festive!

The grown-ups are in the formal dining room.

I found some cute little sparkly pinecones at the dollar store and use them to hold the placecards.

The kids table in the kitchen

And the appetizer buffet.  I think we look forward to the appetizers more than the dinner!

I love the Johnson Brother's Friendly Village place settings.  My sister and I got married in the same year and both registered for them for our holiday sets.  We live just a couple of miles from each other so now at the holidays, we merge sets and have enough for our entire brood!

We have since done the same with our everyday settings.  It's so nice to not only have the same taste, but to own the same sets.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Gobble Gobble...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dream Garage Organization

Ok all you organizers, I stumbled upon a garage that will make your heart skip a beat.  I went to a home to buy something off Craigslist, and was invited to enter the home through the garage. I do believe I heard angels singing as I walked through this mans garage.  It was beautiful. 

 Labels and bins galore!!  It seemed endless.  Big bins, small bins, wine holders, cabinets - it was a sight to behold.  I didn't want to leave.  I found myself standing there while he was sayin "buh bye now..."  I stood there taking pictures and admiring his handiwork. 

He was a cabinet maker by trade, so he took his skills to the next level.  Oh how I dream of a garage like this!

I came home to my garage with somewhat organized piles. 
 "This is my gardening heap.  Over here is my painting cluster.  All the car stuff is stacked here...  "

I guess a girl can dream.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Heather House is all grown up,

 It started as an abandoned home, waiting to be torn down so a daycare could take it's place.  As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, this home became my first home - the only condition was that I had to move it!

And so I did!

I painted the door and trim pink...

And then blue with white heart shutters.

Unfortunately the people who rented it for 10 years, and then later purchased it from me
ended up completely trashing the home, and lost it in foreclosure.

The ads when it was listed read "Potential Tear Down..."
That broke my heart.  I had so much love invested in this home, the thought of someone buying it to simply tear it down was devastating.

We put a bid in on the home when it was for sale, but were outbid and did not get the opportunity to give it the makeover it desparately needed.

Today I drove past the home, fearing I would see an empty lot where the home once stood.
Much to my surprise, I found my baby - all grown up!!

The investors who purchased it fixed it up beautifully!  I was so pleased to see  my "Heather House" looking so polished and clean.  The yard was nicely landscaped, everything looked so fresh and new. 

It's like a child who got mixed up with the wrong crowd, involved in drugs and you lost for a while comes walking through the front door all grown up, clean and healthy.  You can see it's still them,
but they look so happy now!
That's the way I feel about my little house.

It went from a family home, to abandoned and near demolition, to a move across town, fixed up, then run down, close to demolition again, and now...BEAUTIFUL!

Welcome Back, Heather House.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Our Fall Home

Autumn has blown in and trees are looking bare.  Soon yards and homes will be lit up and decorated for Christmas.  I love this time of year.  The colors are so beautiful and sunny cold days are invigorating!

Farewell Summer.  I look forward to seeing you again in about 7 months!

Hello Fall!  Glad you could join us for a few weeks~

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In a perfect world...

My home would be clean and organized.

My kids would hang up their coats and put away their shoes when they walked in the door.

I would take the time on Sunday afternoon to scour recipie books, inventory my pantry, meal plan for the week, grocery/Costco shop, and divide and freeze bulk foods.

I would take a day and prepare meatloaf and vats of spaghetti sauce to seperate and freeze for instant dinners.

I would build my meals around a crock pot to save myself from the 4 O'Clock frenzy.

I would put enough time into my side business to earn enough money to hire a weekly housecleaner to do the floors and bathrooms.

My garage would have cabinets and a shiny floor, with a place for everything and everything in it's place.

I would take the time each month to organize 1 scrapbook online and catch up on 12 years of photos.

I would take up painting.

I would have warm cookies waiting for my kids after school.

I would find the time to get in a daily workout.

And during the weekday, I would be organized in my business - spend my day more productively rather than cooking and cleaning, and I would have structure in my life.

What does your perfect world look like?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hello November!

On your mark, get set... GO!  Let the November/December Holiday craziness begin!!  From now until January 10th or so, things are going to get wildly out of control.  First put away all the spooky Halloween decorations and costumes, then pull out all the turkeys and cornucopias.  Plan the Thanksgiving menu, start Christmas shopping, figure out who's on the naughty and nice list for Christmas cards this year.  Did anyone get bumped?  Maybe I sent a card last year and didn't get one in return... I guess we've "lost touch." 

Make a list and check it twice.  I must be sure the kids are even-steven with their gifts.  Then there are the cookie exchange parties, the white elephant gifts, the little gifts for mail carriers, garbage men, piano teachers, school teachers, bus drivers, the friends of kids, those hostess gifts, giving tree gifts - it seems the gift list goes on and on!

Decorating the house is a whole other chapter in the holiday prep process.  Ladders and lights, big trees, little trees, garland and bows, there is so much to do in these next 2 months.  Just don't forget to enjoy the journey.  Play a little Christmas music, enjoy a glass of wine or cocoa, just sit and look at the pretty tree with it's lights and decorations.  Have some family time.  Don't get lost in the hustle and bustle.

Happy November everyone!  Hang on and enjoy the ride~


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm feeling crafty.....!

BABY STEPS!!  I haven't said "there..." yet, but I'm feeling much better about my chaotic craft room.  I even sewed some pillowcases last week! 

At least I can find things now.  I was able to put all the kids school papers into their notebooks.

I found my desk!!  I even used it to laminate some flyers, cut fabric, and actually do a little work.

 I moved my fun feminine lamp down to my desk.  I love the little glow it puts off.  It makes me happy.

My favorite new addition is my candle sconces.  I have had these in storage for about 3 years, and finally found a home for them.  Why didn't I think of putting them in here before??  This is still a work in progress though.  I plan to spray paint the mirror black - and maybe even the sconces too!

I feel good about the progress of my craft room.  Now I just need some time to catch up on scrapbooking, mending, sewing patches on Girl Scout vests, and continued school binder organization.  At least I have an organized place to get it all done!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Procrastination Party!

Is there a project around your house that you have been putting off doing until 1) the kids go back to school, 2) waiting for a rainy day or 3)you wanted to blog about it?  Well here is your chance!  I am hosting my first link party this Friday.  Now is the time!  Take those before pictures, roll up your sleeves and show us what you've got.

My project is my overwhelming craft room.  As embarrassing as they are, here are some "before" pictures.

While the rest of my house can stay maintained, this room tends to be the catch-all.  "Kids, will you run this up to my craft room?"  "Does this need mending?  Run it up to the craft room and set it next to the sewing machine."  What do I do with the gift bags from the last birthday party? Run them up to the craft room!  Things get put in here and then forgotten.

In a perfect world, this room would look like something from the pages of Ballard Designs.

 In my world, I use the big hunk of glass left from a tenant, placed upon 2 file cabinets as my desk, and I use the desk I found on the side of the road with a "free" sign on it which I painted and cleaned up for my sewing desk.

My bows, tissue and gift bag drawers is an old filing cabinet which is not strong enough to hold files.

I use a shoe holder to hold all the yarn I never use.

Lastly, I keep my kids schoolwork, pictures, awards, etc in labeled binders.  I am 2 years behind in putting these together.

By Friday, I hope to have this room whipped into shape.  I am searching Craigslist for potential furniture or shelves - we'll see if I get lucky.  I am also planning on getting a few more storage solutions, so I'll be hitting Staples and Fred Meyer for organization ideas.

Post your project!  Let's share our ideas and inspire each other!