Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten Most Visited Posts of 2011

Thanks to each of you who has visited my humble blog throughout 2011.  You have made it a fantastic year of creativity and connection for me!  Looking back on my first year of blogging, I was interested in the variety of the most popular posts with my readers.  Here is the list in case you missed them the first time around.

#10 Worldwide Wednesday and My First Linky Party {Easter}
Maybe I will revisit hosting a party in 2012?

      Summer Opportunities List {Mom's Day Out}

#8 Pretty Happy Funny Real {A Day in the Mountains}

#7 Four Under $10 at Target for Christmas

              The Birthday Zone 

#5  31 Days of My Favorite Links

#4  Simple Summer Schedule {Bucket Lists?}
People love bucket lists...

#3  Summer Unplugged {simple summer cleaning schedule}
and helpful cleaning ideas...

#2  Creating an Autumn Rhythm {four steps to a cleaning schedule}
in every season!

#1 Most Popular Post of 2011
             Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
I was happy to see that one of my own favorite recipes made the number one post of the year.  This is really as good as it looks!

I have had the most amazing year learning how to blog and I cannot wait to share more ideas, recipes and reflections with you in 2012!

Sharing here
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {gingerbread houses}

Sharing here


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stressed Out? Try the four-S solution {Catholic Mothers Online}


Please join me over at Catholic Mothers Online where I am sharing my solution to holiday stress.  I would love to hear your stress-busting ideas as well.


Waiting {Wordless Wednesday}


Sharing here


Monday, December 19, 2011

The Kids' Tree Tradition {Christmas Tour of Homes 2}

One of my favorite childhood memories of Christmas was the multi-colored lighted tree just for kids.  It's a tradition I am continuing this year in our house.  I wrote about our family tree here, where each ornament tells a story.  Looking through our kids' tree, I see that these ornaments also tell their own Christmas tales.

Thomas the Train.  Each of my three sons has been a huge fan of the train set and the movies. This Thomas movie is hands-down our all time favorite.  KC, our youngest, spends half his playtime carrying on conversations between the various trains.  The train table definitely goes to him in the will.

Another tradition I started early on was to buy each child a new ornament every year. Usually they represent a favorite interest of each person.  Sometimes they're simply cute. This jingle bell snowman arrived with the birth of our third son in 2008.

I also buy a new ornament for my husband and myself.  Guess which one of us this was for?

These glittery icicle ornaments remind us of our chilly winters when we lived in Chicago.

The jack in the box arrived was another of our boys' favorite childhood toys.  Be sure to write the name and year on the bottom of each ornament because even though you think you'll remember, you won't!

The kids' tree also collects the handmade ornaments that come home from school as well as the milestones captured in photographs.

This isn't the modern-day elf on the shelf but rather the same little elf I adored over thirty years ago on my mother's kiddie tree.

Beneath this tree we place gifts for our friends.  Our family presents go under the larger tree.

One of the best parts of this tree is that my boys are drawn to it over and over.  They like to rearrange the ornaments and spend time admiring them in the colorful glow.

If you don't have a kids' tree tradition, think about starting one next year.  Target has great sales on trees right now. (I got mine for $25.) And while you're there, pick out a fun new ornament for each child to hang on it to remember the gift of 2012.  


Friday, December 16, 2011

When Your Tree Tells a Story {Christmas Home Tour}

Our red and gold family tree

My late Grandfather's ornament.  He loved birds and I think of him each time a cardinal pays me a visit.
Crystal cross from an ornament exchange trade with my Mom's group years ago.
For the coffee lover in the family ~me!
The peacock reminds me of my mother who always had one on her tree.  I loved to run my palm across the feather.
My boys at ages three and four.  Were they ever that small?  
The house to symbolize the first home we bought.  My best friend gave me a new ornament every year from the Bride's Tree set similar to this one.  It was a lovely tradition  and each ornament is full of sentiment.
Do you know the pickle ornament tradition?  You should!

A hand-painted Santa made for me by my babysitter in 1979.   

Our wedding ball ornament.  A gift from my mother that recalls my wedding gown perfectly.

A wooden carved reindeer found in a quaint village shop near Chicago.

Santa's gift to my eldest son last year.  He still does.

See our kids' tree tradition here.

Stop by the Nesting Place to see the 2011 Christmas Tour of Homes


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real {my Christmas Bucket List}

I have finally gotten the Advent candles burning at our house and I must say, they are such a beautiful sight at the dinner table.  Doesn't candlelight make everything lovelier?

KC (3 1/2) is really understanding Christmas this year.  He loves to see "his" ornaments on the tree and loves reading all our favorite Christmas stories.  Having young children keeps the magic of Christmas alive.

ZJ (8 1/2), our middle son, is so full of humor and wit.  He is always making us laugh and bringing joy into our lives.  We are  thankful for his unique spirit.


I am a little embarrassed to share these doodles with you.  I joined an on-line class for December called Doodle 12.31 in which we are guided through making a holiday doodle journal.  As could have been predicted, I have had little to no time to doodle lately.  This page is the best I could do one night, my Christmas Bucket list.  
What's on your holiday bucket list?

Sharing here every Thursday

round button chicken


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Watercolor Sunset

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peace In Your Heart


"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart."
St. Francis of Assisi


Monday, December 12, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays {alphabet for Christmas}

bare branches bearing berries
Christmas carols
donning decorations
early evenings
friends, family, fun
generous giving
hosts and hostesses
innocent infants
joyful jinglebells
kris kringle
lounging lazily
making memories
opening our homes
packing presents
royal radiance
silence, solitude, simplicity
twinkling tree lights
underneath the mistletoe
vacation days, vocation days
wise men
x-cited children
yummy yule 
zeal and zest

Sharing here...


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Storytime {and a Sunday Soup Night recipe link}

See that smiling face right there? That little boy ripped through the entire cache of wrapped Christmas storybooks I wrote about here.  Graciously, my older boys didn't mind and now we are simply enjoying all our Christmas stories in one huge bunch.  

The above scene occurred spontaneously while I was making lentil-mushroom soup for Sunday Soup Night (on Monday!).  It has been so rewarding to hear my older boys reading to their little brother.  I know that these snuggly storytimes will be a big part of their memories of Christmas at home.  I wonder which books will be the ones they must pass on to their own little ones someday saying, Grandma Mimi always read this book to me when I was your age.  

The most requested books right now are the following:
Note: Click on the picture to go to the link for each book.

 Jan Brett's books:
2008 Free School or Library Visit  gingerbread_baby_jacket_300.jpg (26325 bytes)
*In the Gingerbread Friends book there is a recipe for making gingerbread boys.   We tried it and it was wonderful.

Scratch-n-Sniff books

The Sweet Smell of Christmas (Scented Storybook)  A Scratch & Sniff Night Before Christmas
*I still have my copy of The Sweet Smell of Christmas from my own childhood.  Some of the scents still smell!

These are our all-time favorite books about Santa!
Santa Claus   
*If you are into Santa at your house, these beautifully illustrated and intricately detailed books will captivate young readers for hours.

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Christmas in the Manger - 1998 publication.  The First Christmas One Wintry Night

Advent Books
Countdown To Christmas (My First Read and Learn)The Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions
*The Countdown book is a board book for toddlers and young children and the Adventure book is for Mom's to read to children.  Both books focus on religious traditions and serving others rather than waiting for presents.

On my wish list this year
God Gave Us Christmas  -     
        By: Lisa Tawn Bergren
  Christmas in the Big Woods,  My First Little House Books  -     
        By: Laura Ingalls Wilder
        Illustrated By: Renee Graef
The Advent Storybook

Any of these books makes a wonderful present for a whole family to enjoy.  
Now go read your kids a story and make some Christmas memories!

Taking part in the Shower of Roses Advent and Christmas books link-up here.

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