Preparing for Christmas

So the official start to the Christmas season is here.  Thanksgiving has passed.  Ours was lovely, by the way.  Most all of the extended family got to meet Greta and proceeded to pass her around, while my cousins tirelessly played with Gus.  It was great.  Did I mention there was pie?

Anyway, so now with the start of Black Friday we have moved into Christmas.  The radio stations have started playing their holiday tunes, including one that plays it non-stop from now until Christmas.  It's actually pretty great because it's on whenever you want it, and I have to admit that we have it playing most days just as background noise.  From what I can tell, tv channels have already started airing holiday movies and specials.  I decided last Friday movie night that all of our Friday movie nights now until Christmas will be holiday movies.  We have Love Actually and A Christmas Story but I need a few more suggestions.  I've already heard Home Alone, Elf, and Scrooged- any others you can think of?  It also depends on what the library has, but at least I'll have something to look for.

Christmas doesn't actually officially start in our house until December 1.  That is when I am allowed to put the tree up and get out the decorations.  I would start Thanksgiving night but hubs thinks if they're up for too long then it's just not as special.  So, ok, whatever.  Gus is super duper excited to put up the tree, so that will be a fun project for the two of us.  I got the hubs a great ornament from eruckman on Etsy because he has been tirelessly busting his butt around here this year, especially with the storm and the new baby most recently:

His says Best Dad in the middle and the kids' names are along the bottom.  It is fabulous (and her other stuff is equally awesome so you should go check out her shop!) and the hubs really liked it.  It's quite his style.

I've also been plotting out my Christmas baking.  I tend to make cookies, breads, etc. to give to neighbors and such, and this year I think I am going to do cookie plates.  I always make traditional Scottish shortbread for my dad, and I also plan to do peanut butter balls, jam thumbprints, and these beauties from Pinterest:

Don't they look great?  I think that will be a Pinterest Thursday project, and the shortbread and peanut butter balls are going to be blog guest-posts, so you'll be able to try out all of my treats!  I'm going to start making them ahead whenever I can find the time (ha!) and freezing them, which is supposed to work well with cookies.  And Gus loves to help in the kitchen, so that will be fun for him.

So that just leaves putting in an order to Santa Claus for a few things that still need to be gotten.

Have you started your holiday prep yet?  Do you have special traditions you're looking forward to?  When do you put up your tree?


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which I am so excited for!  Most of the large extended family will get to meet Greta for the first time, and more importantly, other than a pumpkin pecan pie, I don't have to cook.  (P.S. Thank you all for your well-wishes about Greta.  She came home last Wednesday and has been doing well!)

Then comes the big shopping weekend!  Now, I haven't hit up a Black Friday sale in a long time and I am already tired enough without hitting up a 4am sale, but the Internet is always open for business and I am more than happy to shop in my pajamas.  To celebrate the holiday weekend I'm offering U.S. and Canadian free shipping on orders placed in my shop from Black Friday through Cyber Monday!  In addition, every order will receive on of these magnetic winter bookmarks free:

Navy blue background with shimmery metallic ice blue and printed on white linen.  Great for yourself or to gift as a gift!  And (yes, there's more!) every order placed will be entered to win a set of 10 of these holiday thank you cards (or personalize them with other wording), which are mix and match:

Now, I think those are some pretty great deals!  Please share!  Are you offering anything special in your shop over the weekend?  Any other good shopping plans?  Anyone planning on being part of the 4am crowd?


While looking through my favorites on Etsy the other day, as I sometimes do when I'm feeling in a need-to-shop kind of mood, I realized that I have been on a jewelry kick lately.  To know me is to know I am not big on jewelry.  I don't wear a lot at once, I don't really feel like I know how to accessorize well, and I don't like to draw too much attention to myself.  So in that vein, I tend to wear very simple, understated jewelry, and that's just what I've been putting into my favorites lately:

You know I love my tea!  Tea earrings by UntamedMenagerie

Dedication necklace by TheDedicationCompany

Tuesday necklace by BeauandStella

Gold disk necklace by ConstantBaubling

Custom initial necklace by tyrahandmadejewelry

Sterling silver classic hoops by hilarykoster

Notice a theme here?  I love the simple, classic styling of all of these and they are all affordable finds!  I know that my jewelry collection is lacking, and if I look through what I have, everything is either several years old (read: high school) and/or stuff I don't really like anymore.  It might just be time for some updating.

Darned Socks

So maybe this is a silly question, but I know a lot of you are do-it-yourselfers and/or thrifty upcyclers, you darn your socks?  I ask this because I have two favorite pairs of knee socks, both of which now have holes in the heels, making my feet feel all funny if I try to wear them, which I've been trying not to do.  But I can't bring myself to throw them away!!  It's not like they're even anything particularly special, it's just that they go with a lot of my pants, so I'd like to keep them hanging around.

Because it was the obvious thing to do, I headed to Pinterest to look for a tutorial.  For once, not helpful: everything had to do with knitting (um, no) or some kind of elaborate stitching that I'm just not up to.  I did see one thing where someone had "darned" a patch, but that was for an elbow.  I don't know how that would go over on a heel.  Advice?  Darn them or throw them out?

Oh, and you need one of these.  Sock darner, anyone? (by Sistermaide on Etsy)

Of course, there's always just new socks (love these!!):

by TatianaOrlova on Etsy


Oh TGIF.  This has been a good week for us, though now we are adjusting to life with a newborn all over again.  How about some humor to end the week?

I am a child of the 80's. (via Pinterest)

I'm sorry if this one offends anyone.  The hubs and I are big fans of the movie A Christmas Story.  If you've never seen it, you need to!  If you have seen it, this just reminded me of the scene in the Chinese restaurant.

Happy Friday everyone!  Have a great weekend!!  Anyone doing anything fun?

Pinterest: I Tried It (Well, I Meant To)

Welcome Pinners and friends!  If you've tried something from one of your pinboards this week and blogged about it, you can link up your post at the bottom of this one.  I really love to see what you come up with and how you interpret your pins.

This week, I meant to do something really easy- download this free font and make something with it for the shop:

Meant to are the key words here.  This was easy enough, wasn't it??  Well, you know how things have been going around here so it didn't get done.  Let's just add it to the to-do list, shall we?

Ok, so what did everyone else do this week?  I still want to see!

Feel free to grab a botton to add to your post to share this link-up with your readers!

life by the book

Friday Humor

Because it has been an endlessly long 2 weeks or so, this will be a quick one, but I love it because it's so true.  Have a great weekend, enter the My Sister's Hope Chest to win that fabulous album over there, and check back in on Monday!

Pinterest: I Tried It (Scalloped Card)

Welcome Pinners and friends!  If you've tried something from one of your pinboards this week and blogged about it, you can link up your post at the bottom of this one.  I really love to see what you come up with and how you interpret your pins.

This week's project was meant to be last week's project, but you all know how that went.  Fortunately I got pictures before everything happened, so now I just have to finish it off!

I have been doing a seasonal/holiday card swap with my two Etsy pals Heidi and Rachel, and with Halloween approaching, I wanted to get my cards made and sent.  The problem was, I didn't have a lot of Halloween-ish supplies around.  I did, however, have lots of 1-inch or so sized scraps leftover from my fall garlands. (Yes, of course I keep 1-inch sized pieces of paper.  Who doesn't??)  And I remembered this card I found on Pinterest:

So cute!  I decided to do a take on this with my square scraps and some ribbon:

I intended for them to have a square plate that said "happy fall" but it ended up so close to the top of the card that I thought it would look too crowded.  I really like how they came out, but next time I'd like to make them a little fancier.  I love how it's a great use of scraps, though!

So how about you?  How were your pinning experiments this week?  Link up below or leave a comment!  And remember- same time next week!  I had a lot of fun trying this one out and may stick to the sewing board for a little while.

Feel free to grab a botton to add to your post to share this link-up with your readers!
life by the book
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October Snow?!?!

October 29, 2011.  A freak snowstorm is on the way.  Snow was supposed to start at 4:30 pm and go through the night, with some concerns about power outages due to the heaviness of the snow and the amount of leaves still left on the trees.  We were a little concerned about the trees in the back of the yard that were still full, but hopeful for the one that had already lost its leaves, which is the most beautiful tree in our yard.

The snow actually started at lunchtime, and within an hour the ground was covered.  And so it went for the rest of the night.  We watched branches crash to the ground out of the poplar trees in the back, weighted down by the snow on the leaves.  As it got dark, it was hard to see what was going on, but if we shined a flashlight out the window, we could get an idea of the mess.  As the night went on, you would hear a crack and then a thud as more debris fell to the ground, and we would hear this really often.  And then as we made our way from window to window, realized we were losing major branches from our beloved tree, which had no leaves on it to weight it down.

It has been estimated that the snow weighed 40 pounds per square foot, which is incredibly heavy.  We think we got about 15 inches of snow altogether.  The power went out around 4:30 pm, and it returned Sunday, November 6 at 1:20 am, though we were at the hospital at that point.  Luckily we have both a fireplace (and had lots of wood from the yard clearing we did last year) and a gas stove top, so we could at least "cook" that way.  The fireplace was running for almost 6 days straight which means all of our clothes, towels, linens, etc. (still) smell of woodsmoke until they've been washed.  The laundry has been endless.  Not to mention the fact that I had one load in the washing machine and one in the dryer when the power went out, both of which needed to be rewashed, and I think I've done at least 7 additional loads since then.

Our "refrigerator".

Drying clothes by the fire.

We are thankful to our friends down toward the shoreline, who never lost their power and had us down on Halloween evening to shower, and Gus even got to go trick-or-treating for the first time, so his homemade costume wasn't wasted (more on that to come), and to our neighbors around the corner who had a generator (that the hubs had hooked up) and let us shower there.

Our yard and neighborhood did not fare so well.  Trees that have stood for decades now need to be taken down due to loss of limbs, some being uprooted completely, as was the case with our neighbor's two birch trees.  Another neighbor has a giant limb on her garage roof, the one next to them had a branch go through an upstairs window, the one across the street had a pine tree fall over across the street, coming to rest on the power lines.  My poor husband, who has spent so much time making our yard look so nice, has had to watch all of his time and effort (and money) come literally crashing down.  We have 9 or 10 poplar trees in the way back, 8 of which we think need to be taken down because they look like toothpicks.  We don't know if the ash tree, our most favorite and holder of Gus's swing, will survive.  We're going to wait until spring on that one.  One small oak has had all of its top branches snapped off, so that one is going to have to come down as well.  A maple in the front has to be trimmed back and another junky tree in the front will probably need to be taken down.  We have basically tripled our firewood supply just from the limbs alone.

All in all we are grateful to have survived the ordeal as best as we did, and that our house and family are all in good shape.  No one can remember ever seeing anything like this in the state ever.  The previous record for snowfall in October was something like one inch.  It just doesn't happen.  Our town was one of the hardest hit and we still have residents out of power.  The hubs is exhausted from clearing brush, which has been piled on the curbside, hopefully for pickup by some organization chosen by the town.

We're hoping this never happens again.


Ok.  So.  7 days and 16 hours without power in the house later, I am back!  What a complete and total disaster has befallen us.  The yard is wrecked, the house is a mess.  There is so much laundry to be done, it's not even funny.  And do you have any idea what almost 8-day-old wet laundry smells like?  I'm sure you can imagine.

Anyway, I have one last fall spotlight and giveaway to post this week (apologies to Liz, who has been very kindly and patiently waiting on me!) and the winner from 2 weeks ago will be announced, but that's going to have to wait for one more day because I have some exciting news.  My intention was to post photos of the disaster going on around us from this past week, which I will get to later in the week, but we had a little bit of a surprise in the midst of the chaos:

I'd like to introduce you to Baby By the Book!  Since I've given Gus his own online alias, let's call her Greta.  Greta wasn't due to arrive for almost three more weeks, but after measuring small and a concern that she had stopped growing, I got to make an impromptu trip to the hospital to deliver her this weekend.  She ended up being of average size, but her lungs are slightly underdeveloped, so she is currently in the nearby NICU getting some help breathing.  We're very happy to have her as the newest member of our family.

Did I fail to mention I was pregnant basically since this blog started?  Oops!  Actually, the hubs heard a news story on the radio about a Facebook stalker who ended up killing some woman and taking her baby, so he thought it might be best to just keep it to myself.  Not that any of you are Facebook-stalker-killers, but, you know.

So please pardon me for a bit if I skip a day here or there, or if I post some inane post about nothing.  My brain has had a lot to deal with in the last 8 or 9 days.