A Review and a Farewell to 2012!

Well hello there friends!  Happy New Year's Eve!

I seem to have taken an impromptu week off from blogging.  Between hosting Christmas Day, the kids off from school and the general mayhem of the holidays it's been a whirlwind and I can't believe the year is actually coming to a close - can you?

Do you set yearly goals and if so, how'd you do with your list?  I laid down a few house goals right here last January, and out of those six I have accomplished a total of ONE!  (DIY roman shades which I haven't even blogged about yet!) 

Yep - I'd say the 2012 goal list was a bit of a FAIL - but hey!  Even though I didn't get to most of the lofty projects I had hoped to this year, I hope my complete and utter non performance makes you feel better about the things YOU didn't get to this year!!

In case you missed any, here are a few of the mind-blowing, earth shattering projects covered this year on SYL.
1/Hannah's closet makeover
2/finished basement, aka "the sea of beige"
3/makeover of kitchen table and chairs
4/stenciled drop cloth curtains
5/unconventional drapery hardware
6/exterior improvements and musings for adding curb appeal
7/DIY Ballard-inspired shelves
8/painting tile
9/mirror makover with a lil' bling

10/a fixed up master bathroom
11/latitude-longitude sign
12/Rub 'n Buff gallery of ideas
13/shells fit for a mermaid
14/DIY map serving tray
15/fancy schmancy chalkboard lettering
16/host  chairs for the dining room
17/hanging heavy art
18/unsticking photos from picture frame glass

19/are you staring at my chest? (aka how to get stains out of clothes)
20/cleaning silver the lazy way
21/vintage menus
22/setting a stepping stone path
23/spray painted door hardware
24/the easy way to change the color of door hinges
25/tracing paper and tissue paper wrapped canvases
26/temporary tiered dessert stands
27/DIY docking station from a wine box

And of course, I can't end this year - on a Monday no less - without rounding up some of the yummiest recipes from 2012.

1/pineapple infused vodka (stoli dolis)
2/microwavable brownie in a mug 
3/chocolate chip banana cake
4/low fat chocolate spoon cake
5/good old fashioned lasagna
6/puppy chow (aka Texas Trash)
7/blueberry lemon cake
8/linzer cookies
9/fiery chili
10/hot fudge sauce (and homemade ice cream)
11/white sangria
12/minestrone soup
13/blonde brownies
14/blueberry muffies
15/strawberry napoleans
16/fried mozzarella
17/orzo salad
18/sausage and onion risotto

Mangia Mondays will return next week!

Thanks for hanging with me here this year - I appreciate you so very much!  Wishing each and every one of you a safe and fun New Year's Eve, and a wonderful, healthy, funny, joy-filled, beauty-full year ahead!  



Christmas Cheer In Our Home

Merry Christmas my friends!!!

Come in, come in, come join me for a cup of Christmas cheer, while my house is actually 
Let me get you a cup of coffee.  Or tea?  Perhaps a Christmas libation?

Here's Old Saint Nick at the front door.  You didn't know he was Irish??  
 But of course….he even brings a pot of gold on his Christmas sleigh!

From the foyer, there's our tree in the living room.
I'll spare you the details about how Hannah, Sean and I put it up and decorated it ourselves while Mark & Peter were in Ohio for football.  It's not standing straight and I had it cut a bit too short.  Oh well - it's perfectly imperfect!
Did you put up a tree this year?
I bought myself one new ornament this year.  I wish I could find a sparkly little dress just like it for Christmas Eve!!  What are you up to for the holiday?
Our glitter pinecones from a couple years ago…..I love how they sparkle when the tree lights come on!
The best kind of ornaments…..handmade by little munchkins once upon a time.  Look at how this lad now towers over me!
Yes, those are our new host chairs from the dining room.  They're easy to pull into the living room for the computer armoire, or for extra seating, until we get some new furniture for this room!

Clementines at Christmastime……a must have!  Would you like one?
Do you believe our talented neighbor MADE this beautiful wood bowl for us, as a thank you when we gave him wood from our massive 2011 tree removal project?  It's made from a solid piece of Black Cherry and I think it's a work of art.

Simple wreaths hang inside the dining room windows.  I'm all about un-fussy these days.

All our own Christmas cards from over the years. 
1.  Where has the time gone, and 2. did I mention how lucky I am to watch these crazy people grow up??

My childrens' interpretations of the gingerbread house.  
Do you like how they decorated the Rice Krispy Treat Trees I made?  Interesting.
Silver and pewter baby cups are one of my favorite vessels for flowers and fresh greens all throughout the year.  

Let's freshen up your drink in the kitchen.  We love how we can see the tree from almost every room!

Amidst the Santa pictures on the side of our fridge…look at this gem I found at my parents-in-law's!  That sweet babe happens to be the man I married…who knew there were photo Christmas cards in 1969!
Rockin' the Dorothy Hamill in my brownie uniform, circa 1977ish.  Santa looks so happy doesn't he?

My all-time favorite Christmas decor….cards from friends and family!  I've hung them on ribbons with tiny clothespins ever since I can remember and this look never gets old to me!  These will stay up well into the new year….I love all these smiling happy beautiful faces!!

Let's go sit in front of the fire in the family room….I did a simple mantle this year, with fresh greens and lights.  It's barely visible in these photos, but I wrote "Joy To The World" on the mirror with a white window marker.

This little guy is so excited for Christmas.  He made a very special gift at school that he can't wait to give us.

Can I just tell you how filled up my heart is right now?  I am so grateful.  
For my kids.  My husband.  My mama and parents in law.  
For you!!  Your friendship.
How doing random acts of kindness lifted our heavy hearts this week.
For this house with it's worn out wood floors, leaky faucets and bologna countertops.
(Did I mention it's actually clean at the moment?)

I'm so glad you stopped by today, and I hope you are filled with Christmas cheer too!
Let us raise our glasses! ---

Wishing you a joy-filled weekend!!


DIY Evergreen Bannister Swag

Are you hosting Christmas festivities this year?  If you're looking for some last minute ways to spruce up your home, look no further than your backyard.  I love collecting fresh greens and pinecones and adding touches of nature all over the house.  Little bits of whatever is still green in my garden make their way into our home this time of year and give it such a festive feel.  If you don't have a yard or anything green to clip, fresh loose greens are inexpensive to purchase at a garden center, or ask your friends if they might have some trees you could clip from.  The swag I made for our stair bannister is a collection of greens from both my yard and my mother's.

I love fresh garland on stairs, but over the years I have discovered that *certain people* in my house...

...feel the need to TOUCH the garland every single time they come down the stairs (yes, even in their advanced ages) and there are always needles scattered hither and nither.  I bought a fake garland a few years ago, but it just looked so…fake.

This year I made a fresh swag that hangs on the outside of the bannister so it doesn't interfere with holding onto the railing or invite munchkins to touch it.  So easy!  This took all of 10 minutes.  Here's how:

Clip greens to 1-2 feet.  Spread out like angel's wings on your work surface, layering different kinds of evergreens if you have them.

Wrap a pipe cleaner around the center, twisting tightly, to hold these two sides of the swag together.

Add a layer of greens between the angel's wings and again, use a pipe cleaner to faster this bunch to the first set, intertwining the pipe cleaner between the branches so it all holds together tightly.

Next, cut a piece of ribbon that is wide enough to cover the pipe cleaners.  The ribbon needs to be long enough to tie the swag to the railing.  (I am currently having an obsession with peacock blue, by the way!)

Add two more piece of ribbon to support the sides of the swag.  You can tie the ends in a bow or just a simple knot like this:
Doesn't this side look pretty coming down the stairs?  Is it distracting your eye from my hideous 80s foyer tile?  Okay good. :)

I layered three ribbons together and tied a simple bow, then attached it with a piece of a pipe cleaner to the center ribbon holding the swag to the railing.
That's it!  A little festive touch to welcome our holiday guests.

To keep cut greens that are kept indoors fresh through the whole holiday season, lightly mist them with a water bottle on occasion.  Also, fresh greens look so pretty and stay fresh for ages if you put them in a vase of water just like you would a floral arrangement.

Bruschi says: 
"We hope you'll stop by tomorrow for a little holiday house tour and a cup of Christmas cheer!"

Have a lovely day my dears!


Christmas Cheer & Gingerbread Houses

It's 7:31a.m. and two of my three kids are gone off to school.  My husband is on his way to work.  My ten year old baby is still snuggled in his bed, and the pup has already had a little snooze on the front path, then left his trail of muddy pawprints across the foyer right over to his dog dish.   I'm drinking my coffee while I check emails in front of the Christmas tree.

It's just a regular day, and I'm feeling so blessed to have it.  

Today more than ever, I want my kids to have the nativity set, the sparkling tree, the bell-shaped cookies.  I want to find the time to decorate gingerbread houses.  I want them to walk in the door from school and feel it - Christmastime in our home - a memory they will take with them into their old age, God willing.  Good, fun, warm memories of a childhood in which they felt loved, special, and part of something is what I want for them, what I hope will sustain them when hard times come.

Even when heartache abounds, even when grief and devastation exist, our small efforts to make Christmas cheerful for those we love and strangers alike matter.  They do.

I'm not looking for perfection, Normal Rockwell painting meets Leave It To Beaver show.  On a daily basis, my kids argue, I lose my temper, my husband is tired, there are seven damp towels on my daughter's floor, I'm annoyed at my extended family, and the dog is stinky.   Real life is messy.  But I'm still grateful for each day of it.  

Let us make the most of these regular days that we have.  Let us pack some good living into our days in honor of those whose life on this earth came to an end too soon. Let us spread some Christmas cheer, love, kindness and fun, for who knows what tomorrow will bring.

Today….there will be gingerbread house making!!!

Have you made one this year?  Whether you have children or not, I firmly believe gingerbread house making is good for the soul.  Look at all these fun ideas!

The chocolate graham cracker roof and pretzel fence?  Pure genius.

Non pareil shingles?  A-dorable.

Rainbow?  Yes of course.

And trees….now why didn't I think of this one??  

I bought a bunch of gingerbread houses on sale this year and the kids and I pre-assembled them .  This afternoon we look forward to decorating them with our friends.

I also made Rice Krispy treat Christmas trees and bushes that are waiting to be decorated.  To make them, just whip up a batch of RK treats using the recipe on the box, adding green food coloring to the marshmallow before mixing with the cereal.  When the mixture has cooled a bit, form the trees and balls and let cool on wax paper.  

Christmas…..love in action.
-Dale Evans

Now go, ENJOY the rest of the Christmas season, bring CHEER to someone who needs it, find JOY in the small things, LAUGH and LIVE and make the most of this regular, busy, messy, beautiful day!