"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, December 31, 2010

Old Blog, Back In Business

The new year is of course a time for resolve, and one of the things I am bound to do is get serious about my craft blog again. I find that I am more productive when I document what I do, and I need the accountability that writing in a blog provides. If I know someone is reading it, I am more likely to keep up with it! For me it is a great way to archive the projects I am doing. It's a good place for me to post about crafting, scrapbooking, home remodeling (LOTS of this will be happening in 2011) photography, cooking, baking, sewing, and home organization. Feel free to follow me at www.veronicascreativespot.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Favorite Website

I have always been the type who would rather receive a big gift certificate to a place like Home Depot, rather than any other store. I love the sound of a power saw and I love the smell of sawdust. Most of my childhood Saturdays were spent watching my Dad build or repair something. I loved waking up on those mornings to the roar of one of his many power tools coming from the garage.

It's been on my to-do list to clean out our garage and create a work space for building things. I do most of my projects in our unfinished basement, but since we have plans to finish off parts of it in the near future, my current workspace will be no more. I have a million projects running through my brain on a daily basis of things I'd like to build and create. One of my favorite things to do is inventory our house, see what items we are in need of for our growing family (most of them are always furniture of some sort) and hit the second hand stores to see what I can find. I think I have a good eye when I find something that I can make something else out of. It's kind of a passion of mine.

I was elated when I came across this website that has a hundreds of different plans for building toys, furniture, shelves, and many other things from wood. I am a huge fan of the store Pottery Barn, but not a huge fan of the price tag on anything. I am attracted to their stuff because of the clean lines and simple designs, but we'd have to take out another mortgage to afford the furnishings that I drool over.
www.ana-white.com is a site that has many "knock-off" design plans from expensive places such as Pottery Barn. She has everything laid out for even the most inexperienced builders. Do yourself a favor and check it out!! Her designs are absolutely amazing. Now my motivation for cleaning out the garage has sky rocketed!

I have been eyeing the retro style play kitchen from PBK for years, ever since Hailey was a toddler. But the entire set costs about $800 and who in their right mind would pay that?? When I was in kindergarten my class had an amazing little wooden kitchen in the class and I always wanted one. I came across these plans for this kitchen on www.ana-white.com and about died. I have it in the works to make this for the girls for NEXT Christmas, but I think I may do more or a retro red, black, and chrome color scheme. We'd likely keep it in the basement family room and I'd like the little boys to be able to use it also as they get older.

We have been in dire need of a new dining table and chair set for a long time. We have for sure outgrown the tiny one we still use, but anything that seats eight people comfortably is super expensive...at least in the rustic style we like. I came across the above table on her site and aside from it being a SUPER easy design, I love how it looks! Just my style. I think we may have found our dining table. And again, it is a complete PB knock off, along with the bench below it. We would likely do the bench and then shop around for the perfect 5 chairs to surround the rest of the table. I love it!

And again, another PB knock off. This looks exactly like the Mason headboard from PB which costs $700-800 dollars. Yikes!! This plan is very very easy and very very awesome. We have been in the market for a headboard for years but it's one of those things that is expensive and not really a "necessity". But I think we may just have to build this baby. And I'd love it to be rustic black to match the rest of our bedroom.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Morning

Once upon a time I thought it was horribly lame to spend Christmas without any relatives. We always went to grandparents' houses for Christmas and that is just "what you did". But in recent years, we have discovered the joy in spending Christmas alone with our own family. And since it is growing so much, we are never at a loss for good company. Besides that, it is a huge headache trying to transport gifts and especially "Santa" stuff out of town, so we've chosen to spend the big day in our own house and we love it.

On Christmas morning the kids were up at about 7:30, which was just perfect. Our kids have never been early risers so 7:30 was actually a little early for them to wake up voluntarily. They came in and got us, but we had given them strict instructions that they were NOT allowed to go look down in the living room until they came and got us. So get us they did, and we had family prayer, brushed hair, went to the bathroom, woke Devin and changed his diaper. Then it was time for the Christmas line up picture at the top of the stairs. We checked the plate of cookies, and sure enough, it was almost empty. In place of cookies and carrots, we found a letter from Santa. He is very good aout leaving us a thank you letter for the cookies, and he always tells the kids if he thinks they have been naughty or nice. This year, the report said that they had been pretty naughty, but pretty nice too. Santa really DOES know our family!

The kids found their stockings, along with one unwrapped Santa present and two wrapped Santa presents. Santa always brings us three presents each to symbolize Jesus getting three presents when He was born. Mom is excited that since next Christmas we will have all our family members accounted for, we will have brand new matching stockings with our names on them!

This year, Santa gave-
- Iron Man gear, Atalantis Legos, and a new Buzz Lightyear.
Hailey- A penguin pillow pet, an Easy Bake Oven (or a "bakery set up" as she has called it for months) and a Barbie animal swimming pool.
Lauren- A panda pillow pet, ice cream Play Dough, and a glmour Barbie swimming pool.
Devin- A gorilla pillow pet, a Buzz Lightyear ride on toy, and a muscial stuffed doggie.

They also scored super big time with stuff in their stockings! More legos, loads of candy, lotion, lip gloss, tools, camp stuff, toys, nail polish, cookies, gummy bears, bubble gum, books, and they each got a new movie.

After stockings and Santa gifts, we paused to go make breakfast. This year it was yuumy cinnamon coffee cake, breafast burritos (stuffed with eggs, sausage, hasgbrowns, and cheese), fruit, and OJ to drink. While Mom finished making breakfast, Dad showed the kids "magic tricks" with silly puddy they ach got from Santa.
We then headed back to the living room to open presents from family. The very first present we opened was the most ornate gift under the tree. Inside was a little Jesus figurine with a note telling us to remember Christ while we opened our gifts. Hailey was the lucky one to open it this year.

Next the kids each opened a special present from Mom and Dad. They each got a framed picture of Christ for the rooms.

Then we started our traditional family presents. We open gifts one at a time and try to savor each moment. This is something Cody's family has always done and we adopted it when Ethan was born. It makes the process go slowly, but it's more meaningful this way. Much better than ripping things open and going too quickly. The rule is that when you open a present, you have to give the "giver" a big hug and then find another present for somone else to open. You are never allowed to pick a present for yourself, only for someone else. When Hailey opened Lauren's present, Lauren was VERY insistant that Hailey gave her a huge. Before Hailey and even opened the present, Lauren stood up, put her hands on her hips an said "Hailey! You have to give Chudda a hug now!!"

It seemed that everyone got exactly what they wanted. We didn't even change out of PJs until late in the afternoon, and the kids spent the whole day playing with their new stuff. It was such a fun and relaxing day, and so wonderful to spend it with our own little family. These are the moments great memories are made of!

The girls got new PJs and wrobes, and they couldn't wait to shower and get to try them out. I need to install special wrobe hooks in the bathroom so they have a place to hang them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Eve

Whew! Christmas Eve was a busy but very fun day. Luckily, I had been smart enough to do a little bit of food prep all week long. And thank goodness for a second fridge to store prepared food in! I think we may have started a new tradition of going out to lunch that day. We went out to run last minute errands and to drop off secret Santa stuff for a family that some friends of ours' were helping out. While we were out, Cody had the idea to grab some lunch. We ate at Rumbie Island Grill (or Grumbies, as Lauren calls it). Cody and I had the most amazing Caribbean chicken salds, while Ethan had a yummy looking cheeseburger and the girls had macaronni and cheese. Devin had chicken dippers, which he mainly just played with because he wasn't feeling well. I am in love with and addicted to their sweet potato fries and I all but finished off our giant order by myself.
The late afternoon was spent finishing up our dinner and getting stuff for cookies ready. While I was busy in the kitchen, Lauren crashed on the couch. That made for a VERY fun and long night of her bouncing off the walls until close to midnight. Love those late afternoon naps! Dad, Ethan, and Hailey played game after game of Uno while I finished up food, and Devin kept me company in his highchair while snacking on fruit puffs and gold fish. Dinner was delicious and we had all the fixins. Ham, funeral potatoes, cranberry Jello salad which sadly didn't set up, broccoli crud, green bean casserole, cream corn casserole, rolls, sparkling grape juice, and pumpkin pie for dessert (but we were way to full to eat any of it that night).
Next it was time to read and act out the Nativity story. I'm glad we had spent so much time earlier in the week talking about the real Christmas story, because our reenactment that night was pretty funny and irreverent. On the way home from lunch, the kids brainstormed and planned out who would play what character. Lauren was Mary, Ethan was a wiseman, Dad was Joseph, Mom was the angel, Devin was a shepard (in theory, but he was pretty naughty the whole time) and out of everything, all Hailey wanted to be was the donkey. She loved having Lauren ride around on her back.
Then we hurried to make snowman cookies for Santa. The actual cookies had already been baked the day before, so all we lacked was the decorating part. I heard through the grapevine that Santa loves snowman cookies the most, and Mom loves that decorating them is very easy.
Devin was being so naughty and cranky so we put him to bed early. Then Hailey had the pleasure of opening our 2010 Christmas book, which was "Frosty the Snowman". It's a version that I had when I was a kid, and when I happened upon it at Barnes and Noble I about cried because it brought back to many childhood memories. The kids really liked it too and I'm happy that we now have it in our Christmas book collection.
Dad read "The Night Before Christmas" and Hailey had fun saying most of the poem before he got to those parts. Her class learned it at school this year and she has most of it memorized. Then it was off to bed for the kids so Mom and Dad could finish getting the house ready for Santa to come. As I said before, Lauren was super hyper and didn't fall asleep until close to midnight. The older kids weren't much earlier than she was!