Posts Tagged With: National Holidays

I love you more than…

Happy Valentine’s Day or Single Person’s Awareness Day to all of my friends out there on the interweb! If you came here looking for a cute heartsy project, I’m afraid you might be disappointed. I spent some time perusing my “This is How I Roll” board on Pinterest looking for Heartsy stuff. I just came up with one that I really wanted to share. Regardless of what holiday you’re celebrating, I hope you have a great day filled with love!



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O Christmas Tree…

Real tree? Artificial tree? Unconventional tree? What’s your preference? I want to know so I’m taking a poll. Yay for me rhyming! Anyway, leave your answer here:

This Christmas Eve, I thought I would bring you into our house (again) and show you my second favorite part of Christmas decor. Michael and I both have fond memories of going out and hunting down a with our families. I think we’ve gone out hunting for a tree twice since we’ve been married. Most years we head to Menards and pick one out. In 2008 we were so busy with me working a ton of overtime, helping our friends move back into their house after the great flood of 2008 before Christmas and driving to Michigan to get a car that we didn’t get a tree until December 23rd. But hey, we still had a tree and this cheapskate frugal girl was happy to only pay $5 for it. This year, we were only a little behind the game. I would love to get our tree on the weekend after Thanksgiving, but it just didn’t happen this year but we did get it the next weekend.It came inside and we had to find a place to put it. Last year it was in the dining room, but since the dining room is now the living room and a 7 foot Christmas tree would have significantly blocked the view of the tv we decided it needed a new home. I love having the tree in the entry room so no matter where you enter the house (front door or back door) you see the tree. This being Bristol’s first Christmas, we weren’t sure how he would react to the tree. We decided to leave lights and ornaments off it for a couple days so he could get used to it.

When we knew it was safe, we got out the lights

and put them on the tree. I love it when the tree glows so I put the lights inside the tree instead of just on the outside limbs. It also helps support the weight of the lights by putting them where the branches are stronger.

Bella seemed to enjoy sitting by the tree and “helping” put ornaments on

I love getting out the ornaments and remembering where we got each one and what the mean to us. I have a hard time getting pictures of the ornaments, but I wanted to show you some of them anyway. This one always finds a spot at the top of the tree. Dad and Cora gave it to us on our first Christmas together and having the color changing really draws attention to it reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas

This is our “Our First Christmas” ornament. The ladies at church had a bridal shower for me after we got married and used Christmas ornaments as decorations. They gave us this Hallmark ornament that I adore! (Evidently, my friend Kristen aka NC Amy has this one too)

My Grandpa Dale and Grandma Sally gave us this one to go on our first Christmas tree. The angels skirt is a seashell and it’s totally a handmade ornament. I cherished it before and Grandma Sally passed away two years ago and I smile every time I look at it. I smile because she would want us to rejoice that she gets to spend Christmas with the person whose birth we celebrate.

A reminder to pray for military families who are not able to be together because they are defending our freedom to celebrate as we want to

In December 2009, we bought our house. Michael’s parents got us this ornament to celebrate our new house

We moved into our house in January 2010, so we got this ornament for our first Christmas in our new home

Last year Jeff and Jenna gave me this Willow Tree ornament for Christmas. It was so sweet last year and this year when I put it on the tree, I cried. The name of the ornament is “Comfort” and this past year, I’ve needed a lot of comfort. Bella is our independent child, but whenever I’m sad about saying goodbye to Beau and Brady she seems to know and she comes and cuddles me…so comforting.

Then there are the ornaments that aren’t as meaningful, but just plain fun. Eventually, I want to have separate themed Christmas trees (the extras will probably be artificial ones) so I’ve been gathering different ornaments as I find them on sale after Christmas. I plan for Michael to have a Star Trek tree in the Man Cave so he has these ornaments

I would love to do a tabletop tree in the dining room that is coffee related so I have these

Eventually when we have a game room, I want to have an old movie style in that room. Marilyn and James will adorn the walls. Only fitting that the tree that will be in that room would have them adorning the tree in there too.

I completely love our tree this year with all the decorations. Next year, I think we’ll put more lights on it. I love twinkling lights! So, tell me. What is your favorite Christmas decoration? And of course, don’t forget to tell me what kind of tree you have too.

Categories: It's Our Life, Let's shop!, Tour | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Traditionally Non-Traditional Christmas

I love a good style quiz and when you combine that with Nate Berkus, it’s bound to be just about perfect right? So when I found Nate’s Holiday Design Personality Quiz I couldn’t click “Start Quiz” fast enough! It’s only five questions, so it doesn’t take long and the questions are super easy. I did have a little trouble with the first question…5AM seems really late to get to the stores

I love me some chocolate chip cookies

Apparently, I’m Nostalgic/Traditional

Nailed it! I do love my Grandma’s ornaments and the ceramic house she started painting for me before she got sick. I can’t decide if I want to finish it or if I want to leave it the way it is. It’s been the way it is for almost 15 years…maybe someday I’ll decide for sure. Holiday traditions? Gotta have a real Christmas tree and it has to be tall because that’s how it’s supposed to be.

You might remember a few weeks ago I was having trouble deciding on my colors for Christmas this year. I was out shopping one day and decided I wasn’t going to buy bows for Christmas gifts this year…I was going to make them and they weren’t going to be regular bows that get smashed either. Little yarn pom poms! Hallmark had the most perfect wrapping paper to go with my idea too. Then it just spiraled after that. It’s all s’mores and hot chocolate at our house for Christmas this year! I started wrapping the gifts and knew it was time to start in on the pom poms. The way I made these is definitely not the only way to make them, but it works for me. I wasn’t going to buy a set of pom pom makers when I had a perfectly good scrap of poster board sitting around (cardboard or cardstock or a leftover old box in the recycling bin would work well too). I cut two pieces that were about an inch wide and 2 1/2 inches long. This means my poms will be about 2 inches wide. If you want poms that are 1 inch wide, cut your poster board at 1/2 inch wide. I bent the ends about 3/8″ to help keep the yarn from sliding off the end.

Next I cut a longer piece of yarn (about 6-8 inches) and sandwiched it between the two pieces of poster board that I put back to back. I put the piece of yarn mostly to one side. This will make wrapping the yarn around easier. I wrapped the yarn around the two pieces until it is almost even with the bent up ends of the poster board.

After it’s all wrapped, I pull the yarn in the middle so it’s even on both sides and tie it in a bow around the yarn on one side- trust me, the bow part is important

Then, I put scissors between the poster board pieces

and cut it on the opposite side of where I tied my bow. Hold onto it so it doesn’t all come apart.

and lay it down

Then I untied the bow and tied a knot around my little stack of yarn.

As you pull it tight the yarn will poof out and start to look like a pom. You might have to trim them a little bit to make them even, but in one episode of Revenge, you’ll have a bunch of little poms. I picked the colors to match my wrapping paper – cream, brown, green, red and aqua.

I just couldn’t wait to get these on a couple of the gifts I’ve wrapped. I also used yarn for the ribbon and just wrapped it around the box a few times.

I can’t wait to get them under the Christmas tree that’s getting decorated today. There’s just something about them that screams traditional, but they aren’t your traditional Christmas bows. If you take Nate’s holiday design personality quiz, let me know what your style is. I’m just curious!





Categories: It's Our Life, Projects | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The colors of…Christmas?

That’s right, I said Christmas. Even though I refuse to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving, it’s still on my mind. I need to start working on our Christmas card for the year but I can’t do that until I’ve picked our Christmas colors and theme. Last year we did olive green, black, white and silver. Yes that’s a lot of colors, but our Christmas cards (that never got printed or sent – oops) looked like this

Designed using My Digital Studio by Stampin' UP! All Images copyright Stampin' UP!

And the gift tags for presents (which also never got printed) looked like this

Designed using My Digital Studio by Stampin' UP! All Images copyright Stampin' UP!

One year we did a red, white and blue Christmas. Two years ago was a John Deere Christmas. My favorite colors were back in 2004 when we did deep purple and gold. Anybody else pick new colors every year so the presents under the tree will look like one beautiful coordinated decorative masterpiece? Just me? Oh well. That’s how I roll. Usually I don’t have any problems, but this year I’ve really struggled with it. You see a couple weeks ago Hallmark sent me my rewards certificate to spend. It was only $3, but that’s better than nothing right? Not to mention that it came with an extra $2 one to use the first weekend in November. You know I’m not about to pass up a deal so I was all over that one. Off I was to Hallmark to visit Deb (yes I’m on a first name basis with the manager of the local Hallmark store) and see what I could find on sale and spend my free $5. The answer was definitely gift wrap after I saw that deal! Buy one roll and get the second roll for 99 cents. Woo hoo! Now which ones? Do I go fun but traditional red and green like these?

Image from

Maybe something a classic filigree or damask style but with not so classic colors like this set

Image from

Well, I ended up with neither of those and can’t find a picture anywhere of the one that I went home with. Doesn’t matter much because it’s heading back to the store and being exchanged for something totally un-Amy. But I was at Target and saw some paper that will coordinate with the Hallmark stuff I got and I came up with a great idea to make bows and stockings and a wreath and….oh, I’m so excited. I may have had to fight the urge to start singing and dancing in the Christmas aisles at Target. I’ll start sharing with you soon in case you want to craft along with me this Christmas. Oooo, the suspense.

Anybody else pick perfectly coordinated Christmas colors? Come on, someone has to. It’s okay, you can share. We’re nice in this house, this is a safe place (that’s what I tell Bella when she gets mad at her brother). I’m ready to start working on my Christmas cards so I can actually get them printed and mailed this year. Self imposed December 1st deadline. Keep me in check people!


Categories: Best Laid Plans, Let's shop!, Living Frugal, Possibilities | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Scary S’mores

I know, I know, another s’more post. But this one is a little bit different…promise. As soon as I saw a s’more idea for trick-or-treaters on Pinterest (here) I knew that our neighborhood kids would be getting them! I also thought it was the perfect way for us to make sure that it would be peanut free and I could add a tag that let people know that too. I wanted to share this with you today just in case you wanted a weekend project.

It was easy to find printed bags, but how would people see the cute little ghost in there with that? The Peeps and Hershey bars I got at Target and I got some treat bags at Hobby Lobby.

I took one graham cracker and broke it in half and put it in the bag.Then I put the Peep in and then the Hershey bar. I know that might seem like it’s pretty basic, but the order of Peep then chocolate will save you some headaches. I was putting the Hershey bar in first then the Peep and when you tear apart the Peeps it leaves a little bit of sticky marshmallowy goodness that is very attracted to Hershey bar wrappers. When I put the Peep in first then the chocolate my ghosts started looking less like blobby melted snowmen.

How to seal them? The original post had ribbon and I bought some black ribbon after a series of texts with my friend Kristen aka the North Carolina version of me…or I’m the Iowa version of her, depending on which one of us you knew first. She had the cutest idea of adding googly eyes to the ribbon to make them look like bats. Awesome right? I ran out of ribbon but did have some black tulle laying around, so some of these will be batty and some just have black tulle and some will have batty ribbons

Then there was the tag. I haven’t settled on what it’s going to look like yet, but I’m thinking it will be something like this

How cute are my babies in their Halloween costumes? Can you tell that Bella is a butterfly and Bristol is a blowfish? Do you know how difficult it is to get pictures of two cats sitting still in their Halloween costumes? This was my plan. I took the orange cushions from our deck chair and put them on the floor in the well lit three seasons porch. With some help from my trusty friend duct tape I put up some black polka dot fabric I had sitting around. Bristol would be on the left and Bella on the right. Easy schmeezy right?

Me: “Here Bella…mommy will give you some treats to put your costume on”

Little Miss Independent was done and took off. No amount of chicken and cheese treats was going to get her to stay there any longer.

Maybe I can photoshop the two of them together? Bristol’s turn for the bribes

Somehow he was able to just walk out of his costume…sneaky, sneaky

When we go reverse trick-or-treating on Monday, I hope they stay in their costumes better than they did for the photo shoot. Reverse trick-or-treating you ask? We dress up the kids and take them to other people and give them treats. This year we’ll be going to see their doctor and all the wonderful people at Marion Animal Hospital. We want to thank them for taking such good care of our whole family this year through some very rough times with Beau and Brady. They are just amazing and all of us think they deserve some great treats.

What are y’all doing to get ready for Halloween? Are you dressing up? Share pictures of your Halloween night on our facebook page!

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The Independent One, That’s Me

Go on a mission trip to Europe with 95 other people that I’ve never met for a whole summer? Sure, why not? Move to North Carolina to go to college when I’ve never been there or even visited? No problem. Move to Switzerland to be a nanny for a year(ish) and live with a family I don’t know? Bring it on. I’m an independent kind of gal. I mean really independent. Like, it’s-a-wonder-I-ever-got-married-because-I-didn’t-want-to-be-tied-down  independent. So can you imagine what one of my favorite holidays is? Independence Day!

Our holiday was quite low key this year. On Sunday night, we took Beau & Bella to watch the fireworks in a nearby small town. Crazy I know because they’re cats, but Beau loved Christmas lights when we took him, Bella & Brady around to look at them last year, so we thought he might like fireworks. Turns out that fireworks are Bella’s thing. She sat and stared at them for the entire show…Bella usually doesn’t sit still for any length of time, it’s not how she rolls. But evidently, she takes after me (yes, I still know she’s a cat) in her love for fireworks. Michael says that Bella and I watch fireworks with the same look on our faces.

Since I can’t take a weekend off without a DIY project or two, my mom came for a visit and to bring me a new hosta on Monday. One hosta closer to filling in a part of our yard with a garden! We also tackled a project that her and McDad had also tackled last year. Those trees just came back again

Behind those trees that keep popping up are some peonies and a few cone flowers too.

Obviously, we’re going to have to do a little planting there, but what to plant? All that work called for another one of my favorite summer traditions – sun tea

I’m starting to think that this is a Midwest thing to do. So my dear readers from anywhere else, do you make sun tea or is it really a Midwest thing? If you’ve never done it, you should definitely try it. Take 10 bags of tea and put them in a gallon of water and set it out in the sun for a few hours. It’s just that simple. Of course in our house, we also heat a couple cups of water on the stove, dissolve a cup of sugar in it and then add it to the tea once it’s done. We’re a sweet tea household ya’ll!

We broke in the new grillagain. Michael is trying his hand at a blog post tutorial on the grill for ya. I tried to eat my first hot dog in over 15 years. Yeah, I still can’t do it, but I gave it a try. My dad, Cora & my niece Mikayla came for a visit. Well, a visit and for Mikayla to feed Beau & Bella some treats

and for Dad and Michael to climb up on the roof and do some measuring

I so can’t wait to get started on that project and share with you the step by step of how to do your own roof…yikes.

But until then, I’ll share some of my other favorite scenes of summer and Independence day. My hydrangea all bloomed and pretty (see the before here)

My lilies that I planted last year waited to bloom until Independence Day – gorgeous!

My hosta called Patriot

Monday night we went to another small town and sat in the car and watched more fireworks. Actually, Bella and I watched the fireworks, Beau looked out the window at the lightning bugs flying around and Michael tried cleaning the the bugs off the windshield with napkins and sweet tea. Disclaimer: These fireworks pictures are not from this year. I just love these ones!

Most importantly the biggest and best symbol of our Independence

Hope ya’ll had a fabulous Independence Day, I know we did!

Categories: It's Our Life | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

summer = BBQ

About a month ago,  Michael opened the door to our three seasons porch and looked at me and said “It smells like lilacs.” I had to break the news to him gently but our lilacs were not blooming yet thanks to a very cold spring here in Iowa. To which he responded “When I say lilacs, I mean any flower.” I love him because he makes me laugh folks…among other reasons. To me, the first sign of spring is blooming lilacs. When I was little, we had a row of lilac bushes at the back of our yard and the smell of that flower takes me back to my childhood. I can’t wait to figure out what we are going to do in our yard so I can put up a bunch of lilac bushes. Right now, we just have this little bitty one that I’m trying to get to grow.

Once the lilacs are blooming it’s time to plant. I don’t know if that’s actual and true, but I guess I just don’t feel like playing in the dirt until I smell those fresh lilacs. It also means that it’s time for me to start planning our summer BBQs. We grill from spring to fall (and occasionally in the winter). Last year our first BBQ of the summer was on Memorial Day and you know I had to do some decorating. Of course there was this big change (post here)

But there were a couple other decorating things that had to be done. This sign went up on the three seasons porch

This lantern helped to keep some of the bugs away

This year we’ll be breaking out the lawn chairs and sparklers to have a great time with some of our family again. But as we BBQ we’ll remember the reason for the holiday. Not only to remember those who have given their lives for the freedom that we are able to enjoy, but to thank those who have protected that freedom. Michael and I have so many family members and friends who have given and continue to give part of their lives for the country that they love. This Memorial Day, don’t forget to thank a veteran.

The most important thing we added before last Memorial Day

Thank you to our brother-in-law Jeremi, my cousin Mike, my cousin Brent, my uncle Bill, my uncle Jim, my grandpa Bill, my grandpa Herb, my grandpa Dale and all of our friends who have served. May God richly bless you for all you have given.

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