Saturday, November 30, 2013

It was...

It's cold and drizzly outside my office window this morning and the sky is nearly the same color as the wet pavement on the street.  Makes me all that more grateful for cozy warmth, twinkly lights and fond memories of Thanksgiving just days ago. 




 We hosted Adrain's entire side this year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was the very best kind of chaos.  Adrain has two younger sisters and a younger brother and they all came with partners.  Two of my nieces were there in pig-tailed cuteness, and after an excited welcome hug, made a bee-line for the toys and trampoline with my hoodlums.  There were squeals of laughter from the kids table, loud enough to give all the mama's headaches and prompt a lot of, "Hey sit down and eat your food," or "Okay quiet down over there."  (Which they totally ignored.)

Best kind of kid's table ever.  Wish I had gotten more pictures.  Dang.

After dinner, my three brother in laws took over the television and it's football game, Adrain finished carving the remains of the turkey, sis in laws portioned out leftovers for one another and kids ran back and forth in my tiny hallway.  It was fabulous and sweet and loud.  My house is little.  And we packed it full.  One of my sis in laws is newly engaged and they set a date last week- for the end of December!  We have a budget of around $200 and four weeks, so she and I took over half of the post-meal table with papers, lists, pinterest and plans.  Let me tell you something folks, I was made for that.  Her wedding is all but planned and it's only a matter of a bit of shopping and a craft night.  (If you've been following my Pin boards you've probably been overwhelmed by all the wedding pins. Now you know. Ha!)  It's going to be fabulous on a dime. 

After everyone trickled out at the end of the day, Adrain and I collapsed, kids donned cuddly jammies and we relaxed for the remainder of the evening.  My kids were almost giddy as they heaped plates with leftovers and that's the first year I've seen that. My kids both tried and loved gravy. What?  They ate! Normally they just pretend to eat.  So funny.  I  put up my Vintage ornament canvas in the guest room a bit early, but I am so glad I let Thansgiving be Thanksgiving and didn't drag any other Christmas decorations in- no matter how much I secretly wanted to.  I have to remember that next year when I have that itch to do that (like I do every year. Ha!) 

And before I go, let me talk about the food.  Oh my heavens.  I made everything ahead and all I needed to do was warm it in the oven as the turkey was resting and being carved.  It was the most effortless Thanksgiving ever.  Gotta love that. I made this chocolate coconut tart.  It's going on the make again and again list.  I made two pans of these fluffy potatoes.  Definitely doing that again too.  I made this cauliflower gratin recipe (and added bacon as a Sasha-twist) and used gf breadcrumbs.  It was to. die. for.  Didn't make enough and it was gobbled down by cauliflower haters and lovers alike.  Crazy simple too.  (Definitely add 1/4 cup crumbled bacon to it if you make it.)

We spent yesterday cleaning, rearranging furniture and pictures, and decking the halls a bit. Today  we are spending the day winterizing the outside vents and running your orders to the post office (Yay and thank YOU) before Saturday night church.  I love long weekends, don't you? 

How has your Thanksgiving weekend been?




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It all begins at the table...

 
I will likely not be posting again until after Thanksgiving.  So I thought I'd pack this post full.  Okay with you?  Oh good!  Is everyone else out there as excited for Thanksgiving as I am?  I always kind of forget about it as I begin the behind the scenes preparation for the BIG holiday- Christmas... but then a couple weeks before, I remember, "Oh yeah... Thanksgiving!"  And then I remember how much I love it.  So I shove mental Christmas preparations to the back of my mind and start thinking about the food, the table, the games we'll likely play and getting the house cleaned and ready.

There will be pumpkin pie of course- one of my sis in law's are on that. (I made a teeny gf one for my Ava girl and I because we can't miss out on that!) There will be a brined turkey because that's a favorite in my household.  There will be green bean casserole (blech- so glad I am gluten free) because my man loves it.  Like.  LOVES it.  It may be one of the few things in life we disagree on. (Bless his heart.)  His other little sis is on that dish.  His mama will bring the sweet potatoes and another sweet sis in law will bring the fruit salad.  Little by little it comes together.  I love that part.


I am mostly excited about the place cards I created this year.  They are so fun! I wanted to make them inexpensive (you know me) yet cute.  I used little brown bags that had been cut with my pinking sheers and Avery tag labels.  Filled with goodies, hole punched and tied with yellow and white twine made for quick work.  I downloaded Avery's Turkey graphic and changed the color, then added each person's name.  SO CUTE!! 
 


 I'm excited to use a variety of brown and white dishes on the table top.  I love mixing things around and not quite matching, but my favorite thing is layering a tabletop.  I've got our everyday white dishes on top of seagrass mats from Ikea, with mis-matched brown Transferware on top.  It makes for a casual yet pulled together look and I do feel that Martha would approve. I've collected these brown and white dishes for several years and finally had enough for everyone.  (I'll have to get a few more as the family expands.  Ha!)

Today I set things out to see how I wanted them to look, because I always find that it makes putting everything together on Thursday morning a breeze.  I snapped some photos before putting things back into a pile... and I may have taken too many but eh... why not?



 Let's talk about the kids table for a second. I found the felt feather headdresses in the dollar bin at JoAnn's last summer.  I've got brand new crayons and Target supplied me with a color-on-me tablecloth.  It wouldn't be complete without fun striped straws.  My kiddos are at the eye rolling stage of the kid's table. They say, "Really mom?  We have to still sit at the kid's table?"  Until they see it and realize how fun it is.  Someday they will look back and have fun memories with their little cousins and they will love that I made them sit together.  Nothing better than goofing off at the kid's table, I always say.  And cousins are important.

This retro-inspired bell turkey made my day.  He reminds me of my childhood.  I found him at the grocery store and couldn't resist!


 I also wanted to share the easiest little recipe with you and you can make it gluten free.. or not, depending on your needs. This would be perfect as a make-ahead freezer meal too so head's up on that!  I literally pulled things out of my freezer and tossed them into a bowl, which is why I can't really give you a strict recipe since I made it up as I went, but just read through it and you'll get how easy it is.  Spices and seasonings are to taste but go heavier than you think you need on them.

In-a-hurry-Chicken pot pie.
Rotisserie chicken, cut up the breast meat.
Butter about eight personal sized baking dishes (I found mine at the grocery store) and set aside.
Prepare some pre-made pie crust by cutting it out with a pie crust cutter in a leaf shape.  You could easily use a cookie cutter or a biscuit cutter.  (I use the gluten free pantry brand of pie crust and keep some in the freezer for things like this, but if you're not gluten free, go easy on yourself and use the refrigerated kind.)

Into a large bowl, toss the following;
Cut up chicken pieces
small bag frozen peas
small bag frozen corn
small bag shredded carrots
1 diced onion (I used a sweet onion)
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I used gf soup)
a few chopped and boiled potatoes
salt, pepper, oregano, sage, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, thyme, marjoram.  I think we ended up using about a tsp of each, but doubled that (or more) for the sage, garlic powder and poultry seasoning.

Spoon evenly into about eight prepared baking dishes.  Then place prepared pie crust on top. (I brushed mine lightly, with some melted butter and salt and pepper.)  Bake at 350 for about 35-45 minutes, until bubbly and the crust is golden and flaky.  Enjoy!
 Adrain and I realized that we needed a little place for the laptop so when our hoodlums were googling things, writing papers, and researching, we could keep them under our watchful eyes, rather than tucked way in the office/guest room that Adrain and I share.  I had been looking for a tiny desk for this spot, and we found this little guy at Ballard Designs a couple of weeks ago- on sale!  It's a perfect fit and already being put to good use this week.

So I think we're all set... and I know we're excited!

Psalm 95:2-3

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends- I hope it's a wonderful day of rest, being with family and loves ones and enjoying the simple things we have been given. 

Don't forget... there are only a couple more days to order your Vintage ornament wrapped Canvases.  I won't be offering them after Thanksgiving, and my shop closes for the holidays on December 13th. There is a special promo running here and here! 

 Click here to shop!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sweet little clothespin ornaments, etc.

I had a wedding anniversary...yesterday.  It was eighteen years, on the eighteenth.  May man came home with peachy-orange roses and tulips.

He shouldn't have.

But I love that he did. 


 We were babies.  I had just turned 20 and he was still 19.  Oh boy.  We grew up together, that's for sure.

My brother and his sweet wife and baby came to hang out yesterday because Joe had his first orchestra concert last night.  It was a big deal.  He was crazy nervous and looked so handsome.  I was so glad he had an Uncle and Auntie there to clap for him. (We laugh and call ourselves the Bravermans.- You know, from the show Parenthood?)  Before kiddos got home, and before Adrain got off work, and before the concert, my sis in law let me put her to work packaging your orders.  It was a big job and she was awesome help!

 My shop closes temporarily for the holiday season, on the 13th of December... however my vintage ornament canvases will only be for sale until Thanksgiving so if you want one, get your orders in asap.  They take 3-5 business days to process and then they ship so I decided it would be easier on me if I only offered them for a short while longer.

Also I've only got a handful of my ball jar dishtowels left in stock and once they're gone, I won't be making any more until I reopen in January/February.) Click here to shop.
 My man was behind the camera at last night's concert... love this cute shot he took of my niece cheering on Joe as he played.
 Joe normally plays violin and guitar, but he has been learning to play the double bass this year as well.  I think my boy is going to gravitate toward anything with strings.  It sounded SO cool!  I had no idea.  Wish I played!  Love the serious face. 

 I made some fun wood star ornaments for the tree this week and wanted to share.  Ava took all the springs off some wood clothespins, and then I hot glued their flat backs together.  Once that was done, we hot glued six of the glued pieces into star shapes.  It was really simple and I think they will look great on our tree.
 I love the natural wood look of them, but you could easily paint them or stain them any color you wanted. 
 I am going to hot glue some wire loops on the backsides so they will hang. 
I wanted to remind you about a few fun opportunities I've got in the works right now. Clockwise from left:

A few posts back, I shared about using Avery labels for the holiday season.  I've been loving these labels and tags (also sold in my shop) and have been finding great uses for them.  (Wait til I show you what I've come up with for my Thanksgiving place cards!) If you haven't checked out this post, make sure you do, and leave a comment to enter the $100 Visa gift card as well!  They will be announcing a winner after December 15th.

Top right: I shared a few sweet jewelry items from lemonkissed.com on Instagram, and wanted to share it here with you as well.  Shauna is offering you guys 25% off your jewelry orders (check out her necklaces!) by using the coupon code "LEMONADE" when you shop. Click here to shop! 

I also shared the darling monogram Christmas ornaments from Lisa Leonard,  in this post.  From now until December 5th, use the code "hollyjolly" to get 15% off your order! Click here to shop!






So that's me today.  How are you doing?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Solutions and such...

My sweet friends.

It's been a long while since we had a bit of a heart to heart chat.  I had some things sloshing around in my brain as I drifted off to sleep last night, and thought I'd process them out here, with you.  That always seems to help.

When I think back to the day I wrote this in May of 2010, I had a picture in my mind of what our mission field was going to look like.  We felt a calling and we thought we understood the direction it was going to take us.  Get this... we didn't realize that we thought this at the time... but I'm pretty sure we thought it was going to be a tidy mission and a tidy journey.  We saw a tidy calling full of grateful, hungry, tidy people, and their tidy stories in our minds-eye.  We didn't picture broken people with broken, messy stories.  We didn't picture our hearts struggling to understand their choices, yet feeling burdened to sling our arms over their shoulders and say, "We're here for you.  You're not in this alone."  We didn't picture that the messy brokenness would touch us.  We never visualized their mess overlapping and getting into our business, changing our plans and making us grapple with so many emotions along the way.  We couldn't have imagined the crushing weight bending our knees and forcing our eyes heavenward as desperation drove us to beg for strength and wisdom so we could help.

When we first felt called to do life differently, one thing we really never imagined was not having the ability to change things for others.  Sure, we knew we were powerless without Christ working through us. We had the head-knowledge but we didn't know it.  Not deep, within our bones, so aware of our inability to do anything in our own power.  The past few years have shown us, more than anything else, that we are not equipped to deal, fix, help, or reach out and make one bit of difference in our own power.  The past few years have shown us that God doesn't call people who have it all together to jump into the lives of those who don't, and show them how it's done.  He calls the broken, messy and powerless to jump in, wrap their weak and shaky arms around the hurting and say, "With God leading us, we'll walk out of this hole together."  He equips us, because He called us and He points the way out with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I always thought I'd be able to blog about the many ways God has directed and written our story.  I never counted on the private journeys or the personal stories of loved ones that can't be shared here.  More and more Adrain and I are being shown reasons why we were never allowed to move here or there... do this or that.  We can see God's finger weaving the threads of our story together in ways we would have never imagined.  We have been placed in a unique place to do a unique job and it baffles us yet seems so clear at the same time.  We can't understand, yet it makes perfect sense.  All I know is, we are being molded and shaped and our story is far from over.

The holiday season is nearly upon us and it often throws family, friends and loved ones into our path in intense ways.  If you don't know why you're where you are, or why you have been given such messy stories all around you, or how you fit... I hope that you can somehow be encouraged that you are exactly where God wants you to be, this very day.  Even if you're in a season of waiting, you're uniquely placed right there in that waiting room because you are the one He wants in that space.  (Oh don't you love that?!  I don't know about you but I mostly feel forgotten when I'm sitting in the waiting room. Not so!)  I love the following encouragement from Ephesians and I especially love the way The Message translation says it;     

Ephesians 2:10The Message (MSG)

7-10 "Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing."





Okay, so now that we've talked about what's on my heart... I am getting ready for Thanksgiving and the transition into Christmas.  (I will be talking about my heart on the matter soon but for now I thought I'd mix a bit of light-hearted home decor into this post.)  Y'all know I have an eight foot-long table in my kitchen right?  (I have this super long table, because I should have been born a little old Italian grandmother who pinches people and says things like, "You're too skinny, you need to eat!" and then ladles heaping portions of yummy goodness onto their plates. I'm just saying.) Anyway, I have a thing for white candles.  They are classic and timeless and work in almost every season.  I wanted a four foot long tray narrow enough to not take up a ton of space on the table top, yet able to hold a long mass of white candles from now until spring.  Well I couldn't find one.

So I made one.  It's rather rough "construction" but it works perfectly for what I needed.  Perhaps we'll just call it "rustic."  Yeah.  That works.

I bought a long four foot board from Lowe's.  It was the perfect width.  I purchased three long strips of wood, also four foot long.  I nailed two of them to the sides and then cut the third one to fit into the end spaces.  Then I painted the whole thing a creamy "Navajo white" color (sherwin williams) and lined it with various sized candles that I've been purchasing over the past many months, from my grocery store.  (I used to buy one each time I did my big grocery shop.)  Once dry, I used self adhesive felt pads on the underside to protect my table top.  Though I probably didn't need to bother with that since there is permanent marker residue all over the end of it from a certain child working on a science project, who shall remain nameless (he knows who he is).

So there you have it.  A simple candle solution that will be perfect all through the holiday season! 


P.S. This is the last batch of holiday dish towels and ball jar dish towels that I'll be making before my shop closes, so it's a perfect time to snag a few if you need gift ideas!  Go here to shop

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lisa Leonard Christmas Collection and COUPON!

I am so excited to share these darling, darling, darling Christmas Ornaments with you today.  Lisa Leonard, someone I admire and respect in so many ways, is the beautiful woman behind Lisa Leonard online,  a site where you can find lovely jewelry, prints, totes and other goodies. What I love most about Lisa, is her sweet heart.  Mother to two beautiful boys, one who has special needs, she shares pieces of her life and heart in her blog.  If you haven't visited her there, you should change that as soon as possible and I guarantee a blessing. 
 Today I get an opportunity to share something new to Miss Lisa's shop- Holiday ornaments that are personalized for you!  She sent one for each of my little hoodlums and I must tell you what a fun treat that was for my kids when they tore open the box.  Fun mail can really make your day and they always love things with their name on them!

Joe helped me with these photos so you could see how cute the ornaments are.  He even cut a piece of greenery from a tree outside for me so we could have a little "mini tree." 
 Each initial is stamped with their name, and the backside has the year.  Every year one set of grandparents give my kids a special ornament and I love that when they leave home they will have their own special box of tree decorations.  These ones are extra special because they aren't made of breakable glass or cheap plastic- they are created with sterling silver/fine pewter and made to last. 
 These would make a really special gift for nieces and nephews, kids and grand kids.  They would also be gorgeous gift toppers too, because everyone loves a unique monogram.  Lisa is offering a coupon for 15% off anything in her shop right now until December 5th.  Use the code "hollyjolly" when you check out to save, and make sure you scope out all of her jewelry pieces and other items for those festive gatherings and loved ones on your shopping list.  Click here to shop.
And speaking of shop... I listed these festive flour sack dishtowels in my shop yesterday and mentioned it on Instagram... and they were all gone by last night before I got a chance to share them here!!!  (THANK YOU SO MUCH my friends.  You continue to bless my family so much!)  I will be making more next week,along with one more batch of the ball jar towels, but it will probably be my final batch before my shop closes on December 13th so plan your gift giving accordingly.  (grin)  Is anyone else feeling like the time is flying past? I think my to-do lists are getting longer and I'm accomplishing less.  (And I'll probably blog on this at some point, but I'm getting to the point where I'm making "weekly" lists, rather than daily ones so that I feel less pressure.  It has actually really helped.  I feel a bit less stressed when I think, "At some point over the next five days this needs to get done." I am committed to making this holiday season a less intense one.  I'm going for simplicity and thankfulness.)

Okay, I've got a full day today of errands and working in the kiddos' school ahead, so I'd better close this and get myself ready for the day.  Next week I want to share something I made with you and a fun DIY Christmas project if it turns out!

Happy Friday sweet things and don't forget to go check out Lisa Leonard and all of her goodness, and use her coupon code "hollyjolly!"    



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Insta-trippy

 Last weekend I had the happy adventure of road tripping with some of my favorite women, my book club, up to Whistler, B.C. Canada.  I didn't even bring my camera!  It felt a little weird but I took a few fun photos on my phone and shared them on my Instagram feed.  (Did you know that you can follow me there even if you don't have a smartphone?  Just go here!) (I am @lemonademakinmama if you do have Instagram) From the left it's Kristin, Kristin, Me, Alli, and Nurse Nicki. 

We laughed, and laughed.  We sat in Starbucks and talked for hours.  Deep, good talks that make you feel like you really got to the bottom of a person's heart. (I tend to thrive on that... I bet you totally get that too!) We ate yummy things, sipped yummy things, window shopped, and walked all over.  We watched a few good movies, talked some more and laughed.  It's always relaxing with these girls.  There are no expectations, no drama, no weirdness.  It's all about hanging out, refreshing and enjoying one anothers company.  I've never had a group of friends like this and I know what a rare gift it is.  We don't always get to see each other regularly outside of book club but these girls are so precious and I love knowing that they have my back if I need them.  
Canadians have such pretty money.  I lived in Canada in high school, for two years, and it was a fun change from what I was used to.  



 Gorgeous suspension bridge.  I am so freaked out by bridges.  I literally have to have my finger on the button that rolls down the window as I pass over one. 
Canadian chocolate.  (Apparently you can get some of these in the States but I've never seen them.) My man is a coffee crisp addict.  I instagrammed the above photo and he commented, "I know who that coffee crisp is for. #betterthanashirt"  LOL  I should have brought him a case.  Dangit.  Aero is my fave but I only bought three.  Everyone shared a bite of theirs with me, so don't worry... (Should have bought a few more of those too!)
 Lush.  Super cool bath bomb bar.  How can you not love this? Ava was so excited when I gave her one.  The ladies in this store pampered us and did a hand treatment on us.  It was fantastic.
 If this is Canadian humor... I dig it.  We spotted this on the side of an ice machine. 
 Dinner at the Mongolie grill.  Always fun.
 Pretty displays in some of the shops had us drooling and feeling inspired. 

 It's just gorgeous there.
And before I left, I made some of these four ingredient- sweet treats for my man as a thank you for his willingness to hold down the fort without me.  He is so precious- always encouraging me to go and get refreshed.  Happy wife=Happy life.  :) He even had to deal with ballet rehersals, homework stuff etc and he did it all with a smile.  Such a good man! (The peanut butter cups were fantastic, easy and quick. (and all gone when I returned)  If you haven't made these yet, you should!) 

I'm looking forward to sharing something lovely with you in my next post too, so I'll see ya soon!