:: just warmed my heart ::

I relish the few "slowed down" days after Christmas. It's a time to review and make some resolutions for next year. I'm going to write some posts of my favorite Chrismas moments over the next few days as I reflect on our Christmas celebration.
This event took place one week before Christmas. I was thrilled to have an evening at home after a string of holiday parties (two at our house) that just came at us bam bam bam. We had fun at every party - and loved being with our best family and friends. But, I welcomed a night at home and a chance to work on addressing my Christmas cards.
Scott had gone to the church to help with a youth Sub-for-Santa project. They were to be wrapping the gifts for some little children that they had purchased the week before. I almost didn't answer the phone when it rang, but when I did, it was Scott. "Debbie, we need your help."
I asked what was going on and Scott said that when they got to the church they found out that there was another family that they had been assigned to buy gifts for: a mother and her two teen-aged daughters. Scott was calling from Wal-Mart where the group of three adult men and two teen-aged boys were trying to pick out clothing for these women. I was almost laughing as I told them to go to the section where the sizes were 3,5,7 not 6,8,10. Scott found that section and I told him to find some hoodies. Scott was carrying on his conversation with me and the boys. "Hey guys, do you know what a hoodie is? Find one." They found the hoodies - they had cartoon characters on them. I knew that if they were Sponge Bob characters that Scott would think they were cool and acceptable, so at that point I said, "I'll come down and help with the clothes. Go to the electronics section and find a digital camera or mp3 player."
So I went to Wal-Mart and there they all were, proudly showing me the things they'd found. Athletic shoes for each girl, and an mp3 player too. An outfit for the mother, and a gift card. They really didn't need me, except I found a really cute yellow bag for one of the teens, and some cute tops to add to the hoodies they had already selected. (No pictures on these.)

I couldn't resist following them to the church with the camera, and it was heartwarming to see their delight as they wrapped and labeled each gift. This was an all-guy collaborative project, and they did a wonderful job - without a word of negativity or complaint. It was a joy to behold!


{ a beautiful "live" nativity }

I thought I'd seen everything, and then at Aunt Norma's party I saw this nativity. These are cut-out photos of Norma's grandchildren posing for a nativity scene. They are all dressed in the sweetest costumes, with the perfect props. And they seem to be posed just for this project. Each photo is mounted on heavy cardboard and there is a small block of wood glued to it to make them stand up. Someday (when I have time) I'll call my cousins Cami or Jami and find out how they made this. Meanwhile, if you do the nativity on Christmas Eve, take your posed photos so you can make this for next year!


Congratulations Winston!

We went to Las Vegas for son-in-law Winston's Masters Degree graduation. HE DID IT! We are so proud of him and Suzie for supporting him through lots of night classes, homework and his thesis. It was fun to be in Vegas in December. We went shopping (of course - see my cut the crazy blog for shopping photos), went out to dinner and a movie (Australia - awesome), and Scott and the girls played an intense game of Rummicub. We got to ohh and ahh over Suzie's & Winston's house all decorated for Christmas.


== today I am fifty-five point five ==

Today I am 55 1/2. Hey, I'm just barely OVER THE SPEED LIMIT! There must be some metaphor for my life in this. Normally I don't notice my "half-birthday," but for some reason I realized that today is a special half-birthday for me - my 55.5.

So I made two resolutions. First, I am going to start doing yoga or some kind of exercise for flexibilty. Becky and Suzie said, "Now mom, don't get discouraged, because yoga isn't very fun." They know me well. My second 55.5 resolution is to try to be more "conscious." To not always be in auto-mode or in other words "non-thinking mode." Yesterday, here in Las Vegas where we are visiting Suzie & Winston, I left a sack in a shopping cart, and then later, I left my purse in a restaurant. In both cases we had to get in the car and go back to the places and I was just lucky there were still there. Arghh. So now I am making myself stop and think before I move on. "Do I have my purse?" Do I have my cell?" "Do I have my coat or bags or whatever?" It's not funny.


Aunt Norma's Christmas Party

The first Christmas party of the season - and what a fun one it was. We went to Aunt Norma's house for a delicious dinner, games and music. Scott, being his usual competitive self, won two of the games and the prizes were twin stuffed animals. He was thrilled. There was a group version of "Partridge in a Pear Tree," with Ethan as the star, and then more Christmas serenades and piano solos. It was wonderful to see Aunt Irene and my cousins - and kids of cousins. When Aunt Norma brought out the plate of her homemade penuche and fudge at the end, I knew I could never put on a party like this one - but I sure was happy to be invited!


:: a pretty picture & some good advice ::

I was in the bookstore last month and a book jumped out and said, "You need me." I wasn't planning to buy another 'self-help' book, but I thought maybe this particular book would be useful as I taught the Cut the Crazy out of Christmas class...and I had that 30% off rewards coupon to use. The book is by Richard Carlson, the author of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff." The title is "You Can Be Happy No Matter What." The book is worthwhile with lots of philosophy like, "Happiness is a state of mind not a set of circumstances." But what I especially like is his suggestions on how to handle stress. Here are a few tips:

Stress is an unpleasant feeling - it signals that we are not at our emotional and psychological best. It's interesting that when we feel ill and are not at our physical best, we pay attention to our bodies and do what we need to to feel better (rest, medicine etc.). Why not take the same care in times of emotional stress? When we are experiencing stress we need to use common sense, wisdom and be aware of our own needs.

Carlson says the solution to stress is to lower our tolerance for stress. The level of our current stress will always be exactly equal to our current tolerance. If we tolerate and can handle a lot of stress, we will always have to do just that. People with lower stress tolerance will pay attention to their stress EARLIER and will sense when it's time to slow down, regain perspective, and manage their thoughts and feelings.I find this concept so interesting. When I read it I just had to stop and think about it for awhile and ponder how it relates to me.


wheRe's the sNow??

We are on a little trip to Park City. When we planned this trip in August, we hoped there would be snow by Dec. 1st. It was a gamble, but we had some time share points that had to be used by the end of the year. On Tuesday morning, Scott went for a walk and took a bunch of SNOWLESS photos.

On Tuesday afternoon, a little storm blew in and left a few inches of snow, enough to make us feel like we're in ski country. But not enough to cover the mountain so the resort can open. Our son-in-law, Pitt, works at The Canyons, so we're especially interested in the snowfall. The latest report is that the resort has been able to make snow since Tuesday, so The Canyons will open tomorrow. One run. Is it worth it to go skiing? I don't think so.
We're having fun anyway. Merilee and Val came up to Park City to hang out for a night and along with Becky and Pitt, we played Cranium. I thought Val and Scott would win for sure, but they got hung up on humming identifiable songs. They were good at the acting though.
Merilee and I were a formidible team - at first. Eventually she had to draw stuff on a pad, and I was completely clueless. When she acted out the Energizer Bunny I lost it, and eventually we lost the game.


loving my red and white decorations

I'm DECORATING! It's a little early for me, but I when I was teaching the Cut the Crazy class on Big Picture, I told myself that this year I would do a decorating blitz on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I have had to PUSH myself, because there are so many distractions. I almost went to the mall Saturday afternoon, but told myself, "Just one more box," then I lost the desire to go to the mall (I know, I sound like an addict) lol. I really wanted to go to the mall to redeem yet another Bath & Body coupon. But I have quite enough lotion and wall thingies. So, back to decorating, and soon I had finished the family room. (I have a lot of decorations. I'm a collector of stuff.)

I love anything red and white. Maybe that's why I love Christmas. I snapped a few photos of some of my favorite red and white things. My bowls are so cute - notice that the polka dot one says 'merry merry' inside. And, of course, my JOY plaque. I put it on my window sill right above the kitchen sink so I can look at it all the time. Good luck to you on your decorating. Believe me, it feels good to get started!
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* * * ChRistMas has aRRivEd* * *

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[ A most wonderful THANKS-giving ]

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We had a wonderful day and it just got better as the day went on. Dinner at Aaron & Aimee's was elegantly beautiful (Aimee has the "flair" - notice the flower arrangement she created) from the perfectly-set table to the little turkeys and thankful hands that Aimee and Brookelyn created. It was fun to be with Aimee's family too. That night Suzie and Winston arrived and then when Becky finished her nursing shift, she and Pitt came. We were all together and I was certainly full of thanks-giving.


November Beginner Basics on the Adornit Scrapbooking Blog
Debbie writes: My Beginner Basics layout for the month of November is titled “Grateful for My Girls.” When I count my blessings, I think of my two daughters and feel overwhelmed with gratitude. They are shining lights in my life. I am very proud of them; they are hard working, unselfish, happy and generous. One daughter is a teacher and the other a nurse. Each has excelled in her education and profession. I’m so proud of their integrity, earnestness, and joie de vivre (zest for life – joy of living). They also gave me two very cute sons-in-law.

I used Adornit’s 2008 Thanksgiving paper and cardstock stickers for my layouts. I love the fall colors and pretty graphics of this line. The patterned paper that I used on both layouts is called Autumn Breeze. The variety of designs on this one sheet makes it possible to cut the paper apart and use it on several coordinating layouts. Or, as you can see, you could just add a couple of photos, a title, and some journaling, and you have a cute fall layout.

I like to follow trends in scrapbooking by going to scrapbook blogs (like the Aussie Scrap Source blog) and galleries of websites like scrapbook.com. Lately I’ve noticed that “clusters” are in. These are little bunches of embellishments stacked and clustered next to photos, or in the corners of layouts. So this month I experimented with making a cluster. It’s a great way to use up little bits and pieces of stuff. You just gather a bunch of embellishments and start arranging them. It’s fun!
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* this week (what's left of it) we are in zone 3 *

I know that we're a little behind on our cleaning zones from Flylady - I was supposed to post this week's zone a few days ago. But we needed that extra time in our kitchens. I took the kitchen cleaning to heart and tried to focus on getting the job done. I got my cupboards wiped out, my oven cleaned, the front and inside edges (yuk) of my dishwasher cleaned, and all the little corners of my countertops.

I want to show you the greatest little cupboard organizer shelves - above - they are corner shelves. I like them because they efficienty use the corner space and they have two shelves so I can store stuff three-high in my cupboard. I got mine at Walmart. Below is my key to getting things cleaned quickly - little wipes that make the job easy. If I found myself on the phone I'd grab a wipe and clean while I talked. I know I know, they're not environmentally efficient nor cheap, but during this month before Christmas I just had to hustle, and they helped.

Here is FlyLady's Detailed Cleaning List - Zone 3: The Bathroom(s)
This is FlyLady's Detailed Cleaning List for Zone 3. If your home is still cluttered, you are not supposed to do detailed cleaning yet, just declutter for 15 minutes a day in this zone. Remember, it did not get dirty overnight and it is not going to get clean in a day!

Bathroom Detailed Cleaning List




4. CLEAN SHOWER STALL/ WAX (not the floor!)






Thanksgiving planning everywhere!

You can count on Family Fun Magazine (one of my favorite websites) to supply lots of ideas for lots of Thanksgiving projects. Click here to find a lists and lists of printables for place cards, kids coloring pages, games, napkin holders, recipe cards, and even how-to videos. Fun stuff.

Click here to download the one-week calendar shown above, print it out, and fill in all the info. that is specific to your Thanksgiving to-do list. My calendar is delightfully simple since we are having Thanksgiving at our son's house. And I can tell you, with Aimee at the helm, it will sparkle! I'm really really excited because we'll all be together sometime during the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Hyper Homemaker blog is full of lists and guides. If you start today, you can follow her one-week list of things to do to get ready for hosting Thanksgiving at your house.

AND FINALLY, of course, Martha Stewart. Here is a link to a Martha's Thanksgiving planner - a one-page PDF download that has everything you need to do listed on a single page.


mY 100th PoSt!

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Can't think of a better way to celebrate one hundred posts on my blog than to display a photo collage of my favorite people at my favorite time of year. I'm so lucky to be surrounded by a neat family. Aren't they just so cute!



My nephew Derek knows how to make a work day a fun day. Derek's cute wife Nikki is out of town for a girl's weekend with friends and Derek decided he'd have fun too. He came over and announced Man-a-palooza. Then he rattled off all the man-ly things that he, Scott and Mike could do. "Work first, then play," said Scott as he raked up eight huge piles of leaves. Derek vacuumed his car and mine too. Mike bagged and bagged bags of leaves. Then they went golfing.

After hamburgers and Apple Beer they headed for the TV room to watch Indiana Jones - with the volume turned way up. Then more friends came and they got out the Nintendo.

Derek loves the warm chocolate chip cookies I contributed to the event.
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