12.23.2011

Wishing You and Yours....

...a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012
from...


*******

I will be taking a little break from blogging while I celebrate Christmas and ring in the new year with family and friends. Likewise, my Etsy shop will be on vacation mode until sometime in early January...

In the meantime, I wish you and your family a very happy holiday,
and hope that you take time in the midst of all the hustle and bustle to remember the TRUE
Reason for the Season...


The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.... For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
 
- Isaiah 9: 2, 6-7


Jesus - the best Christmas Gift....

*******


See you next year!

12.19.2011

The List that Never Ends: # 471-480

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
- Luke 1: 46-55
Thanking God...
471. ... for the official end of Josh's first year of PA school <insert big sigh of relief and exhaustion here>
472. ... for milestones and white coats...
473. ... for getting to move Josh back home out of his tiny "school" apartment... yay for living under the same roof all the time again!
474. ... for a good friend who came down to help us move Josh out of said apartment...
475. ... for a thoughtful husband who remembered to send roses for our anniversary in spite of being in the middle of the worst finals week of his life...
476. ... for an answered prayer in the form of a great deal on a house to rent for four months (with no hassle) for Josh's first rotations in VA.
477. ... for a couple of weeks to relax, spend time with friends and family, and celebrate our Savior's birth before we have to leave...
478. ... for being DONE with my Christmas shopping, with one week to spare! Yay!
479. ... for little previews of how it will be when "every knee will bow" to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords....



480. ... for the ultimate Christmas Gift in the form of God's own Son Jesus, born to die for you and for me...

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined....  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
- Isaiah 9: 2, 6-7

Wishing you and your family a
Merry Christmas
and a happy 2012...

Linking up at:


12.14.2011


Today I had the honor of doing an "Artist Interview" over at Robin's "My Creative Peace" blog.  
If you'd like to read it, here's the link. Thanks for stopping by!

Have a lovely day...

Quotables: G. K. Chesterton


"Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere."

- G. K. Chesterton

12.12.2011

Eight Years and the List that Never Ends # 461-470

Eight years ago today, this is what Josh and I were doing.....

I'd do it again today.


Thanking God for....

# 461. ... eight years with my best friend.

# 462. ... for a husband who is faithful, a hard worker, a servant, and a leader.

# 463. ... for a lot of good times that made us laugh....

# 464. ... and some difficult times that made us grow.

# 465. ... for encouraging and supportive families who have emphasized the value of a healthy marriage.

# 466. ... for our little fuzzball Harvey who provides us with endless entertainment and fodder for stories that we make up about him to amuse ourselves... :o)

# 467. ... for opened doors and God's provision over the last few years as we've faced unemployment, the illness/caretaking/death of a close friend, changing careers, going back to school, Josh being away from home a lot, and even more changes looming on the horizon...

# 468. ... that my Mamaw's health issue cleared up on its own, she didn't need surgery, and she's home recovering now... thank you for praying!

# 469. ... for the institution of marriage itself - for the comfort, security, and joy it is to have someone committed to you for life and who loves you in spite of yourself...

# 470. ... for the deeper meaning behind the symbol - Jesus' love and sacrifice for the Church, and her
submission to and love for Him.

Happy Anniversary to us, Josh!
I love you....

Linking up today at:

12.10.2011

The Weekend Gallery of Miscellany

1. Eight. Josh's and my 8th wedding anniversary is coming up on Monday! We'll probably be celebrating it next weekend since he will be right in the middle of his finals on Monday... In the meantime, I'll be sharing a few thoughts on marriage here on the blog, so be sure to stop by on Monday for a special anniversary-themed post!

See us getting married in the background?
Note to all engaged couples.... get married during a month when there is nothing else going on!
December is CRAZY and will be for the rest of your life! :o)  

2. Christmas progress report. My house is all decorated, and as of today, I am well on my way to having my shopping finished. We've decided to simplify this year.... Let me tell you why: just between my family and my husband's family, we have 40 people that we've been shopping for every year... 40! Throw in a few extra friends and those random "white elephant" party gifts, and that makes for an insane amount of Christmas shopping....(not to mention money!)


Over the past few years, I've grown to dread Christmas because it meant spending hours beating my brains out in the midst of  your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore  the crowds at the shopping malls trying to pick out meaningful, appropriate, and budget-friendly gifts for 40+ people. With our upcoming short-term move to VA, as well as the fact that we're on a shoestring budget with Josh being in school, we decided that enough was enough. Rather than shopping or trying to make something for each person individually this year, we're giving one gift to each family - hopefully something that they can all enjoy together. That brings our shopping list down to about 14 gifts, which is definitely more doable and MUCH less stressful. I'm actually looking forward to the holiday this year, which is more than I can say about last year...
{photo source}
I was really convicted by this post from Ann when she shared it last December. Her family hasn't exchanged Christmas gifts at all for the last 10 years. Instead, they "give Jesus birthday gifts" - by sending money to help families purchase things like livestock, wells/water-purification systems, mosquito nets, seeds, etc. After all, it is Jesus' birthday (or the day we've chosen to observe it, at least), not ours. I'd love for our families to start doing this in the future.... in the meantime, I can at least take some of the money I'm saving through simplifying our gift giving and use it to help some less fortunate people instead.... I think that's a great way to celebrate Jesus' birthday....
3. So happy together..... One week from today, we will be heading to Josh's white coat ceremony, then moving all of his stuff home from his "crash pad" in Knoxville. Yay! While this year has gone by pretty quickly (all things considered), it has still been tough having him gone so much during the week. I am definitely looking forward to living under the same roof all the time again. I have developed a new respect for the spouses of our servicemen who are deployed for months at a time (like my cousin, whose Marine husband has been deployed for the past several months)... I guess it's been a good "practice run" for me, since there's a possibility of Josh being sent to some remote location once he gets out of school....

4. Looking for some Christmas gifts? There's still time to order something special from my Etsy shop! I have prints in various sizes, handmade jewelry, and even a few originals available.... Please stop by - you're sure to find something for just about anyone on your list!


{photo source}
5. Happy Birthday today to my friend Carrie over at Carrie's Busy Nothings! Carrie and I have been friends for a long time, and we still keep in touch - mostly through our blogs and facebook these days. She's hitting the big 3-0 today, so stop by her blog and wish her a happy day... While you're there, check out her fun posts on topics ranging from home decor and craft projects to book reviews and personal finance. And if you're looking for a fun children's book to give to one of the special kids in your life, check out the children's book that Carrie's husband Peter wrote, Mashed Potatoes.


...and a little link love....
  • Handcrafted Gifts from Christian Freedom International - This ministry helps persecuted Christians around the world earn an income by selling their handcrafts online. They have some really neat items that would make great Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting a great cause! (Find more links like this up at the bottom of #2 in today's gallery of miscellany...)
  • Freeset USA - along the same lines, this organization helps women in India escape the sex trafficking trade by training them to make these beautiful bags. So check them out for more Christmas gift ideas, and help another great cause at the same time...
  • 10 Reasons Why the New NIV Is Bad for Women - this is a great article on both why God's Word doesn't need "fixing," and the importance of keeping gender roles in a biblical perspective.
  • Underpainting Technique from Scott E. Bartner - if you are an oil painter and interested in the technique of underpainting in portraiture, then you might find this article interesting. I certainly did.
  • Craft Gawker - have you seen this yet? It's a lot like Pinterest, but it's just for crafts! I may have a new addiction...
  • A Beautiful Picture of God's Care Found in Creation - this is touching... what a great reminder of how God cares for us...
That's all I've got! Have a wonderful weekend.....

12.09.2011

It's that most wonderful time of the year again...

Last year I did a horrible job preparing for Christmas. I'm pretty sure I started AND finished my shopping on the 24th. Yes, that's right, of December.
Utter Craziness.
This year, I'm determined to have everything done BEFORE Josh finishes up his finals, which means I have until next weekend to get it done.
Today, I am hoping to finish up my shopping (which I already started online last week),
and as for my decorations.....
well, I'll show you!
The first year Josh and I got married, I bought two evergreen wreaths from the tree lot and probably blew about $30 on them. At the end of the season, I pulled all of the greenery brownery out of the wire forms, and I have been reusing the forms every year to make my own. They're really simple to do, and it's saved us a ton of money on wreaths since you can usually get free cuttings from the tree farms. Our tree farm was kind enough to oblige us with some branches again this year, and I found the berries, the holly, and whatever those spikey red things are all growing in the woods around the house. Pop on a wired ribbon bow, and you have an economical, natural, and pretty decoration for the front door!

So come on in...
Since our front door is glass, I hung this berry wreath (from Michael's several years ago) on the inside at the same height - that way, the backs of both wreaths are hidden, and you get a little bonus color peeking through from both sides.
I have a little cabinet right next to our front door that holds all of our "Harvey" stuff.
His cabinet got decorated with some pinecones.

You can see how impressed he was...
Incidentally, in case you're wondering if we actually drank that much wine (as the jar of corks might indicate), the answer is, No, we didn't drink any of it. Someone gave me a bunch of corks to use for craft projects, and I haven't gotten around to doing anything with them yet, other than filling up random jars.
So welcome to our dining room. This apple/boxwood tree has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember. I think my Mom got the idea on a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, which is a-maaa-zing at Christmastime. I love it and have kept the tradition going in my own home.

Some more greenery and berries and Christmas-y dishes for our plate rack...
Please excuse the Santa Clause.... I'm not big on Santas, but this tray was part of my childhood, and I feel a little nostalgic about it.


Continuing with the Williamsburg theme, I always go for candles in the windows. I'm sure at one point in my life I would have loved flashing colored lights plastered all over the yard, but not now. No sir-ree, give me plain white lights on my tree and one single candle in each window or give me death.

See my little village in the background? I'm not sure where my yard guy has been lately.... things are looking a bit overgrown back there.

Moving on to the kitchen....

I added a little reminder and a quick sketch to my fridge...
...and in the hallway is my Christmas village, another childhood favorite...
A little peek into the living room...
Harvey didn't get the whole photo shoot thing.
Here's our tree, which we had so much fun picking out at a great little tree farm we found with friends...
It didn't go down without putting up a good fight.

And then, of course, it got covered with all of our special ornaments...

See Harvey running around in front of our house? :o)
Which, apparently, is located in Paris....


A Nativity ornament I made with my nephews in one of our art classes, a special hand-painted ornament from my friend Sarah, a Moravian star that was a favor at our wedding (Yes, I made them myself....yes, there were about 350 of them...yes, I have about 50 of the leftovers on my tree now....and yes, I can still make them in my sleep... :o)), and a little pewter chair that was a souvenir from our honeymoon, which was in - you guessed it - Williamsburg, VA.

A bulldog ornament for Josh, since he had a bulldog named "Beth" before he ever met me (he named her after the Little Women character - how could I not fall for him???), a little army man that belonged to my Dad when he was a kid and which my Papaw dug up about 7 years ago in the spot where Dad's sandbox used to be, a crystal snowflake ornament (with one branch broken off) that my Mom felt obligated to buy when I bumped into the rack at the store and about 10 of these things shattered all over the place... the store people were very nice about it since apparently these things had been shattering if people just breathed on them or spoke with too nasal-y of a voice in the general vicinity of the display, but my Mom still felt like she had to buy one.... just looking at this ornament still makes my eye start to twitch; also an "Our First Christmas" ornament (one of two identical ornaments we received as wedding gifts, both of which are on our tree), and a pewter Nativity an old Sunday school teacher gave me. You can also see the top of a beaded ornament that my great aunt made... I have a ton of these things on our tree, and I love them, because they were always on my family's trees growing up.... but Josh thinks they're hideous. We have reached a compromise - I am allowed to hang Aunt Julie's ornaments, and he is allowed to hang the Scooby Doo and Shaggy ornament with the missing arm. Give and take, that's how we roll.
Hi there! Are you bored yet? Also, Josh likes to fish.
Some little "Russian doll" ornaments I got on a mission trip to the Ukraine; another Moravian star; some handmade ornaments from family members, and finally, yes, that giant star is sporting the Mona Lisa with my face Photoshopped onto it. Here's the story.... Josh and I were going to do our own "family photos" one year, and I was setting up the camera/tripod to get the lighting and such adjusted. I sat down and snapped a practice shot of myself to make sure I liked the setup. Unfortunately, I was still getting ready, and I had hot rollers in my hair. That photo wound up being the only one where I had a "normal" looking facial expression, but I didn't know what to do with the curlers.... Not being a whiz at Photoshop at that time, I made a few attempts to switch my face out with the weird faces in the normal-hair photos. Needless to say, they flopped, so I started fooling around and this is what I wound up with.... I e-mailed it to a friend as a joke, and she presented me with this ornament when Christmas rolled around....

And no, you'll never know what I'm smiling about either....
:o)

OK, so enough with the ornament tour already... back to the big stuff....

Here's my big homemade wreath. I added a little gold bling to this one to match the ribbons and mantle greenery, but other than that, it's got the same natural elements as the wreath on the front door.

And speaking of natural elements, look what I found in one of the free cuttings from the tree farm...

This tiny bird's nest was tucked into one of the branches I picked up! I carefully pulled it loose when we got home, sprayed it with some clear acrylic sealer, and added it to my little nest collection in my studio.... Since I didn't have any tiny eggs lying around, I took a little egg-shaped pebble I found at the beach and used my rubber alphabet stamps to write a little message - "hope"... It reminds me of that Emily Dickinson poem that begins with, "Hope is the thing with feathers..."

But back to Christmas-y things...
(although hope is certainly Christmas-y).

My monster bookshelf got some more greenery and my Nativity set....
... as well as my little spinning angel candle thingy and a gorgeous bowl made for my birthday by my uber-talented brother....

"Bowl?" you say...
Oh, you mean this giant bread dough bowl! Isn't it gorgeous? It's made out of poplar, and I absolutely love it....

I had it filled with little pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn for the fall, and now it's sporting some greenery, pinecones, berries, and Christmas balls.... I can totally see it with some mossy bits, smooth stones, and a birds' nest in the spring, and maybe filled with sand and seashells in the summer.... The possibilities are endless. Love, love, love it.

It's normally on my dining room table, but it temporarily moved to the monster bookshelf to make room for the apple tree.

My coffee table got some berries and bling...
My mirror got a tiny Nativity set I carved when I was probably in Junior High.

I made our stockings the first year we were married.... The plaid on the top of the red stocking was left over from the trim on my bridesmaids' dresses.

Even my little studio got decked out a little bit, in spite of the fact that I keep mostly "perpetual spring"-like decorations in there (like the nest collection).

So there you have it!
I hope you've enjoyed this little Christmas tour of our home....
I will be linking up this post over at The Inspired Room's Christmas Home Tours on December 12th, and again over at the Nesting Place's Christmas Tour of Homes on December 15th.
If you need some more Christmas gift ideas, please visit my Etsy Shop...


...and in all the hustle and bustle, remember the true Reason for the season....
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
- Luke 2:8-14


...Thanks for stopping by, and from our home to yours....
Have a Merry Christmas!
Linking up at:
The Inspired Room

Nesting Place