A Homemade Advent Gift Calendar

This year after we pulled out our Christmas decorations, I realized something. Somewhere out there,
there is a box which contains
our Christmas Tree Skirt,
more hanging blue and white star lights,
and our Advent calendar.

A box that I apparently threw out over the summer during a basement cleaning frenzy.
(This is what happens when I watch too many episodes of “Hoarders”.)

Luckily I scored a beautiful and simple Christmas Tree skirt for $3,
and we really didn’t need anymore lights.

All that was left was the Advent Calendar.

So of course, I turned to Pinterest.
I browsed so many calendars they all started to become merged and blurry.
I knew I wanted to make one.
Knew it needed to be easy enough to make in four days
(yes, I waited until the last minute),
and knew I wanted it to be from my heart.

One morning while drinking coffee at the table and thinking back over the very many different ideas floating through my head,
this is what came to me.

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Now, a few things to go over.

1. I totally did not realize until AFTER I made my Advent Calendar, that they are only numbered from 1-24. Which is OK. I like the idea of having one final one to open Christmas Morning. I chose to have the Christmas Story of the birth of Christ included in my packages, so it will be nice to share that Christmas morning.

2. Do not spend all afternoon working on this, just to forget and leave out the opened Lego box for your son to find when he gets home from school.

3. Hug your son for agreeing to act surprised anyway.

There you have it!

I love it! I loved coloring clothes pins with my boy yesterday! I love seeing the cheerfulness of it hanging on the wall, and my son’s cheerfulness at having little packages to open every other day! (His step-sister doesn’t live with us, however, when she comes she will have the even numbers to catch us up!)

It was fun, and it was easy! I LOVE EASY!

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a lot of fun, filled with a lot of love this Christmas!
Do you have an Advent Calendar? Have you made one? Totally share if you have, I’d love to know/see other crafts! Or, if you use this for inspiration and come up with something completely different!

Either way, if you will recall from my earlier post, I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

And I love having an Advent Calendar to bring a little Christmas joy each day.

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Me + MacGyver = CHRISTMAS WREATHS

I have always envied those “crafty” women in life.
You know the ones I’m talking about.
They are like female MacGyvers. You hand them a paper clip, sequins, spandex, a boa, and they will take it into a room with their sewing machine and come back with a ballroom gown that Cinderella would fight you for.

I was never one of those crafty women.

I’ve tried to be crafty in the past.
I would see something, maybe even on Pinterest,
post it to a board, and never think of it again.
Or, I would try to do something, get frustrated about half way into it because it was taking way longer than I anticipated, or was way above my skill level, and then do a rush job followed by an attempt to hide it from public viewing.

(There was also this one time I saw this
“Super Cute Easy Way to Curl Hair with a Straightening Iron!”
on Pintrest and attempted to duplicate it.
The picture had this girl with super model beach waves.
I came out looking like a poodle.
Whose hair was crimped in the 80’s.
I wore my hair in a bun that night.)

Either way, the point of the story was that I honestly believed I didn’t have a crafty bone in my body. I’d played around with bead weaving a little, made a few earrings, made a few bracelets, however, never truly had enough time to sit and work on something like making jewelry. Back when I was pregnant with my son, a friend’s mom tried to teach me how to crochet. I even believed I did a little, however, never finished anything and then forgot how.

Then I became a homemaker.
And my whole world started changing.

First, I learned how to Knit. Not only did I learn how to knit, I fell in love with knitting. I even went out and bought a crochet needle and have started learning how to incorporate crochet into my knitting. I have dreams of how I am going to intertwine these two fine arts. I have found myself writing out equations, asking for Graphing paper from Santa, and calculating patterns.

(Am I becoming one of those female MacGyvers?
By golly someone hand me a hot glue gun!)

Then came the holiday season. The most wonderful time of the year.

And I got excited!

I was ready to decorate. Ready to be creative.
Ready to take on the “Do-It-Yourself” crafting world!

There was only one glitch to this entire plan.
I have a hard time staying focused. Some of the awesome DIY projects I found had a list too long, or instructions too long, or was simply just way above the time, energy, and MONEY I wanted to put into something.

And more time on these things would cut into my knitting time.
(Just being honest. HA)

Before Thanksgiving, I found myself cruising Michaels before a grocery shopping trip. I have fallen in love with this store as it’s easy for me to run in and out to get yarn, and I usually have a coupon. Today I was simply wanting to wander around and dream a little.

As I walked up to the front doors I noticed these big bins outside full of fake evergreen garland, and behold, there was a sign.

50% Christmas Items Sale

Score.

I took a look at the pre-made decorated wreaths first inside the store.
They ran from $15 and up.
The cheap ones were pretty plain and not decorated in a way that “spoke” to me.
Then I took a look at the pre-made wreaths without decorations. $8.
Then I saw the garland, simply in a package, not yet made into a wreath. $4.

Interesting.

I knew I had pinned something about making wreaths. I scrambled to try and find my phone, bring up the app, just for the phone to freeze up on me and need to be rebooted.. Instead of trying to find a “how-to” list, I picked up the garland and looked at it.
It was made of wire. Pretty bendable. The more I looked at it in comparison to a pre-made wreath, the more I felt I could accomplish twisting this into a circular shape. Besides, buying it this way, I could get two for the price of one. I could make a wreath for the front door AND the side door.

Wheels started turning.

I grabbed my garland and made it into the store. To the right was a Christmas wonderland of color, glitter, and everything else that makes me smile with girly joy. I found some beautiful decorations that were priced very well with the sale. They were my decorations. Something I was going to pick out. Something that I was going to assemble and hang up to make my home warm and inviting so when my family came home they were filled with holiday spirits and smiles.

I was excited!

And so, I bring you my friend’s, my moment of feeling Crafty!
(Queue the MacGyver theme song on YouTube now!)

I was seriously very excited about my small accomplishment. I am especially thrilled that my family enjoys seeing the wreaths on the doors. My hope is that the Maine weather won’t completely ruin either one so I can re-use them next year. (The thrifty part of me wants multiple uses out of these bad boys!) I’m thinking the birds will need replacement, just because the feathers are looking a little ruffled after being out for a few weeks. (hee hee…that’s right…I said it.)

It’s just joyful for me. Some may think me silly, or that it’s stupid, or even that the wreaths are ugly. (GASP!) I think they are awesome. I think it is a wonderful blessing for me to be able to take my mind, which once was busy running a million miles a minute solving problems in corporate America, and instead use it to solve problems like how to make a wreath.
I consider this time in my life a blessing. A joy. Something that I am truly, deeply grateful for. I know that if/when I am called back into “career woman” mode I will go. For as long as I have the opportunity to be in “homemaker mom” mode, I’m going to do it. And I don’t just want to do it, I want to ROCK it, honor it, and praise the Lord for it.

So I give you yet another peek at my journey. THIS is new stuff for me. New unexplored lands. New ideas. New creativity. A different way in which to spread my wings and fly.
I’m going to be working on some other projects I have lined up. Like bow making for the Christmas presents. (That’s right, I’m MAKING MY OWN BOWS THIS YEAR! SQUEAL!). And I started making an Advent Calendar. (MORE EXCITED SQUEALS!).

I look forward to sharing more of my “crafty” adventures with you. And ya know what, if another Pinterest disaster occurs that leaves me looking like an 80’s crimped poodle, I’ll share that too. ^_^

Feel free to let me know what crafty awesomeness you’ve got going on!

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Clean House with Purpose

Yesterday before I started my daily house cleaning I read a blog titled God on a Wednesday. After reading it, I felt inspired to use my house cleaning (I just had a conversation with a  friend about the repetitiveness of house cleaning) as an opportunity to count the things which I am thankful for.

Here is my list.

Thankful for House Work

  1. Dirty towels – I’m Thankful that we have dirty towels. It means we have water for long, hot showers. I even have time for relaxing bubble baths on occasion. I know there are people out in parts of the world with no clean water for bathing or drinking. I’m thankful for my dirty towels because we do have water for bathing and drinking. And as shallow as this may seem, I’m thankful for the different scents of body washes and shampoos. It appeals to the woman in me. Pretty colors, pretty smells, warmth. I’m thankful for dirty towels.
  2. Dirty dishes – I’m Thankful that we have dirty dishes. It means we have food to eat. Delicious food. Dirty dishes mean that I’m home now. It means breakfast for my family, packing their lunches, and in packing those lunches every day a little piece of my love goes into them. It’s my Act of Service for my husband and son. I love learning to cook healthier. Learning to “Eat to Live” and not “Live to Eat”. Learning to not be “consumptive” and to be appreciative for what we have. I love that nearly every night we sit down at the kitchen table and have dinner as a family. We say grace. We laugh. We may not always get along, however, we have a lot of love around that table. A lot of love. I’m Thankful for dirty dishes.
  3. Yellow Rubber Gloves – I’m Thankful for my yellow rubber gloves. I always thought women who wore rubber gloves to clean were crazy. I love mine. I love not getting who knows what all over my hands and under my finger nails. Looking at them reminds me of my husband, my husband whom does his very best to make my wants and needs a priority. Even when it comes to simple things like yellow rubber gloves. Instead of telling me we don’t need them, he fully supports me buying them. He supports me in a lot of ways. With a lot of different things. These yellow gloves remind me of that. I’m thankful for my yellow rubber gloves.
  4. Laundry – I’m Thankful for laundry. Folding my son’s shirts and pants, makes me think of how he is growing up so slowly and yet so quickly before my very eyes. This child who will come and ask his parents to pray for him when his heart is very troubled or afraid. When his father leaves for work in the morning, he always makes sure he hugs him, tells him he loves him, and reminds him every day he will be at the window waving goodbye to him. Then he goes to the window to wave goodbye until his father is out of sight. I’m thankful for this man-child. This boy growing into a man. I don’t want to rush it. I know there will be a day when I’m not folding his shirts or pants anymore. I’m thankful for laundry.
  5. Dirty Floors – I’m Thankful for dirty floors. It means there are feet here. People here whom I love, walking too and fro with shoes and socks and toes. It means this home is inhabited. It’s not empty. It’s full. Full of life and love and laughter. It also gives me a moment to laugh at myself. I use a Swiffer. I Swiffered the entire kitchen floor before realizing the pad was on backwards. That silly clumsy moment of mine. It’s a happy moment. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe because I’m happy. I’m happy because I have dirty floors to clean. To clean in anticipation of the feet that will soon be here again. I’m thankful for dirty floors.

Today as I was cleaning, I was thinking about my list from yesterday. It made me smile. It made me clean with a purpose.  I had a iffy start to the day. Had some difficult prayer time. Had some tears of growth. By the time I got around to cleaning, my heart had been refreshed, my spirit renewed, and suddenly I was all in.

I cleaned bathrooms.

Like. Really clean.

Squeaky sparkly crazy clean.

After the first bathroom however, I remembered why it’s important to run the fan and make sure the door remains open. Too many cleaners, too little air circulation. WHEW.

I’m thankful for a big sliding glass back door that I can step outside and breath for a moment. *Silly Me* After a few moments, I was right back at it. With all this joy I had to have some tunes.

I am thankful for music. I’m thankful for  a sound system loud enough to hear across the entire house. Thankful for Pandora where I can click and choose what I want to listen to. Thankful for the new band I heard and now am TOTALLY in love with. Thankful for the fact that I can dance like a crazy woman while cleaning a house and not feel judged because no one can see me!

Man. I have had a GREAT day.
Cleaning.

Cleaning with Purpose.

What would happen, if we took more of the “chores” of our lives, the things that become routine, boring, repetitive, and looked for reasons to be thankful for them?
What would happen if we really thought about those reasons, and let those reasons fuel us with fire? To give us purpose?
What would happen if we found a song we loved, and just danced like crazy for a little bit?

In closing, I will leave you with this. The latest band I have fallen in love with is Icon For Hire. I love their lyrics. I love the lead singers voice. I love the sound, the beat. I would classify it as Rock. Rock with a message. The best kind of rock.

If you haven’t yet today, maybe use this as your opportunity to dance like a crazy person.

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Organizing, Grocery Shopping, and Coffee Beans

If someone would have told me someday I would spend four solid hours of in-the-store-actively-grocery-shopping, and loving nearly every minute of it, I would have never believed it.

There is still some adjusting from being a career woman to a homemaker. Emotionally. Mentally. Financially.

  • Emotionally– I can’t use “work” as a way to find my “self-worth”.
    • The Blessing: This has resulted in more time in prayer, the Word, and working to serve my family. Drawing closer to my Savior, my Faith, and having more time to invest in my marriage, my family, and hopefully soon my church family.
  • Mentally– I don’t have these big complicated scenarios involving money, clients, or other things like policies and procedures to challenge me. So I have to find other things that are challenging and allow me to use my brain a little.
    • The Blessing:I started writing a novel (lifelong dream), playing Sudoku (so addicting), and figuring out how to merge my Blogger blogs over to WordPress (which was a HUGE win that took several hours. IT FELT SO GOOD TO BEAT THE CHALLENGE!).
  • Financially– I can’t go throwing whatever I want into the buggie (also known in the north as the “shopping cart”). Just because Pumpkin Spice coffee has finally been released at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks doesn’t mean I can drive all the way into town every day to get one. (Or Two).
    • The Blessing: I get to be crafty and learn new things. I have researched several options online for “making my own” and will be making my own Pumpkin Spice coffee tomorrow. (Bonus: It will be for a fraction of the cost AND a fraction of the calories. SCORE.) Also, I have more control over how my family is eating, what they are eating, and the reality is we can eat far healthier and better for the same amount of money OR less.

All in all, I am appreciating these days and this time in my life. I’ve also gone through the house and done some organizing of things.

Martha Stewart Home Office™ with Avery™ Dry Erase Weekly Planner as found at Staples

The first is a meal planner. This helps me to know what needs to be prepped for when. I bought the Martha Stewart Home Office™ with Avery™ Dry Erase Weekly Planner from Staples a long time ago. It’s coming in handy now!

It fits right to the front of our fridge and the dry erase markers make it easy to keep it updated. There is no “hardware” to have to deal with. Very easy, and very inexpensive. It has a backing that sticks if you want, or as I prefer, stays easily with one or two small magnets.

I personally recommend it.

The second is my “house calendar”. We have a paper showing when it is my husband’s turn to run sound at church. A paper showing when we help on the church’s chair team. A paper for Ryan’s school days. A paper for my mother-in-law’s work schedule so we know when we can plan family things. Then of course there are the papers everywhere for doctor appointments, car appointments, birthdays, party invites, etc.

Score!

Which brings me to my awesome find. While I would love to have this someday in a Dry-Erase version, for $1.00 at Wal-Mart I could not resist getting a desk calendar.

All of those papers are now carefully tucked away in my “organizing bag” and we have one main calendar on the side of the fridge with all information on it.
At the start of each month, I can simply update the latest and greatest calendar, and moving forward we can all refer to the same one. Hopefully this will protect us from double booking ourselves! (A bad habit I must personally break.)

Yes. I loved most of my shopping time today. I made a day of it. Looking at things. Thinking of projects or crafts I can get into moving forward. Meal plans. Lunch box ideas. The best sales. The best values. Of course, I also took time to check out some clothing, some jewelry, browse books, movies, and then organize my buggie Like A Boss.

Now you’ll notice earlier, I said I loved nearly every minute.

There was an incident.

We buy Eight O’Clock Bean coffee in the BIG bag. You know, the biggest bag they sell?
We typically buy whole bean and then grind it fresh. Sometimes, being lazy, I grind it while I’m at the store just to cut down on the morning prep time.

So today we needed coffee.
Now, I’m at one of the Super Wal-Mart stores. You know how these stores go, totally and completely crowded. I’ve been in this particular store for about 2 hours by the time I get to the coffee.
I get my big bag of Colombian goodness and make the decision to grind it in the store.

Now, I’m 5’3 to 5’4. Not a very tall person by any means. The coffee bean grinder is within reach, however, I can’t see down into it. It’s just above my eye level ability. (And I’m wearing platform flip flops too BTW.)
I open up my huge bag of whole beans and proceed to dump it into the the grinder.

Apparently, the coffee grinder in this particular store does not hold the full contents of one of these large bags.
Because of the height difference, I find this out only after coffee beans go EVERYWHERE.

They are ping ponging off the shelves onto the floor in a symphony of chaos.
More beans are rolling out across the isle to overtake any pedestrian even thinking about tea or coffee.
With absolute horror I look up to see the mountain of beans spewing forth out of the top of the grinder like an angry volcano erupting, and there are still a fair amount of beans in the bag.

So what do I do?

Like any good citizen who suffers from severe anxiety and turns so red she can feel her entire body on fire, I set the partially-filled-with-beans bag back on the shelf next to the grinder (beans still trickling down the shelf in a little sing song “ping ping”), grab another unopened bag of Whole Beans, drop it in the buggie and walk away as quickly as is humanly possible in platform flip flops.

Lord forgive me. And please bless the poor soul who ended up cleaning that mess. 

Sigh. I have to work on the anxiety thing still.

The rest of my shopping trip was a complete and utter blur. What I do know, is I came home with WAY MORE OJ than I needed, and three containers of Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of one. Not to mention a bunch of other stuff that put me WAY over the original budget I set for myself, which them prompted me to drive over to meet my husband for a bit on his short break at work, and burst into tears feeling like a complete and utter failure.

Today was an adventure.

On the plus side, it felt great talking to my son about his school day, making dinner for my family, and soon to be snuggling on the couch with the hubs for some quiet time before bed.

Life is an adventure. Life is good.
I am thankful for this opportunity.
And maybe, someday, in the far and distant future, I will try to grind my beans at a store. For now, home grinding will be the only grinding for me!

In Love & Faith,
RaZella

Give To Me The Coffee – And Take From Me The Pizza

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The pizza.
The Chester’s Chicken.
The fried potato wedge.
The Ranch Dressing. Not Fat Free Ranch. Not Light Ranch. The Real Deal Ranch.
The Oreo Brownie.
The Blueberry Muffins.
Cape Code Waffle Chips. With Sea Salt. Mmmmm. Waffle Chips.

Oh yea.

Yesterday was a “Food” day. A “Dive off the wagon with hair blowing in the wind” day.Read More »

Girl vs. Grocery Store

Today is cardio day.
Today is also grocery shopping day.


Normally I would do grocery shopping on a Friday, however, the empty fridge suggests I bump it up a day or face the wrath of my family.

Especially my son if he has to eat Oatmeal another straight day. I’d prefer he eat Oatmeal over sugary cereal. Changing that boy’s tastebuds is proving to be a whole new kind of challenge.
Read More »

Showers Must Be Before Noon

Today marks the end of my first week on the new job, staying at home. There are a few challenges I’ve experienced that I didn’t expect. The biggest challenge to overcome is the “Day Challenge“.
What is this you may ask? It’s the constant never ending feeling that “today is Saturday“. 

The Holiday this week didn’t help either with remembering time as my family was home with me in the middle of the week. (Although greatly appreciated that my family was!!!!)

Last night I had a very productive and yet relaxing day. This has also been a new concept difficult for me to grasp. One can be productive and not stressed? How is this so? I suffer from anxiety problems and spend much of my day feeling anxious. At home, I’ve found myself feeling anxious about not feeling anxious.Read More »

Vinegar, Cayenne, and What Am I Doing?

My first day as a homemaker was fairly mellow. I actually accomplished nearly everything on my To-Do list for the day which I was pretty impressed with. I’m still finding a lot of difficulty with getting into a grove. My husband has bronchitis and attempted to go to work, however, had to admit defeat and come home. His goal should be trying not to move because moving = breathing and breathing too hard may = losing a lung. Either way, the bonus for me is that he is here and is the perfect excuse for a distraction to my transition.

The second day was a national Holiday. Independence Day! Which means everyone is home!
And I develop a nagging cough that is not going away. AWESOMENESS. 
Sadly, my son was very disappointed that both of his parents were too sick to really want to do anything other than lie in a comatose state watching Netflix. Not to mention, mom is finally home and now she’s sick. Lame.

We did manage to go out on a little mini adventure, and start a game of monopoly that I’m pretty positive I’m going to lose this evening. (Hey, Go Big or Go Home).

We did get a little treat last night after deciding we would not be traveling anywhere for fireworks. Our neighbors apparently didn’t want to travel either and decided to put on their own light show. WOOT!

All in all, it was good. Today the hubs will be home sick again. I myself may be making a trip to the doctor. I don’t have the huge hack he has, however, I have a Zell sized hack and I’d really rather not be sick all of Maine’s short summer.

Speaking of which, this brings me to my latest topic. A friend on Facebook recommended that I start drinking Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother, which my first thought was honestly “what does my mother have to do with this?) with a dash of cayenne pepper.
It took me awhile to truly wrap my brain around what she was suggesting.
Then of course, I did some MAJOR Google stalking of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar as well as Cayenne Pepper.

I’m still not sure if I believe all the “healing powers” the online forums say this concoction can have, yet, why not try it? I’m game for giving this a shot over some man-made chemicals that come in an easy to swallow pill.
So during our little mini adventure yesterday, we stopped by the grocery store and picked up the key ingredient. The Raw ACV. This morning, I went for it.
As suggested by my friend, I put 2 tablespoons of Raw ACV (with the mother, which thanks to Google I know now what is) in 8 ounces of water and dashed some Cayenne pepper on top. Stirred it a bit and drank it. 
 
WOWZA – This will wake up any non-morning person I guarantee it.
Now she recommends drinking this twice a day. I’m not sure how long this is going to last. I will say that normally I cannot function in the morning without coffee. I am NOT a morning person. However, I’ve now been awake since 5am. I drank this first thing and here is what I’ve accomplished without yet having my first cup of joe:
  • Fix boys breakfast
  • Make coffee with our broken coffee pot (I’ll include a picture another time)
  • Pack son’s lunch for camp and fill out camp paperwork
  • Got into my Bible for some reading time/prayer time (post found here if interested)
  • Update my To-Do List
  • Blog this blog, HA
My point is, I’m just now starting to feel like I’m going to have to get that cup of coffee before starting on the rest of my list. If for nothing else, maybe this will be worth it to get my eyes wide open first thing so I don’t keep going for snooze or naps.
Today’s focus is getting the To-Do list done, trying to nurse the husband back to health, try to not hack up my own lung in the process, and see if I can find the ingredients for making my own laundry detergent. (Oh Pinterest, I forsee you becoming an ally in this homemaker gig or an enemy. Judgement is still out on that one).

I end this blog with the following funny:
At the end of Tuesday I was talking to my hubs about my fears and worries of being a homemaker. Here is our conversation:

Me: “I guess the thing that is the most difficult, is I don’t have a job description. I mean, like an official job       description with expectation guidelines. I feel like I need that.”
Hubs: “Are you saying you want me to give you a job description?”
Me: “Ummm…maybe?”
Hubs: “Would you like monthly performance appraisals as well?”
Me: “Does it make me a bad person if I say yes?”
Hubs: “No. Psychologically unstable and extremely concerning, yes. Bad person, no.”

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