This Never-Ending Winter and my need for a change of scenery

We here in the northeast are experiencing the winter that won’t end.

It feels like it hasn’t stopped snowing since Halloween.  It feels like we’ve been trapped inside, staring at the same walls day after day, week after week, for half a year.  In a Facebook group I’m a member in, someone from Alaska commented last week that winter here has lasts for too long.  Alaska, people.  Let that sink in for a minute.

We’re trying to stay busy.  We’ve walked and been outside as often as we can, but sick kids and exposure to freezing temps aren’t always the best combo.  We planted seeds for veggie plants a few weeks ago.  The boys have a hockey net in the basement and can use that space to run off some extra energy.  T-ball season has started and we’re beginning to see a day or so a week that is suitable to be outside.  Regardless, we’re all tired of being inside. One day last week, upon returning from our errands, the boys filed out of my car and made a beeline for the driveway where big, fat snowflakes were beautifully, gracefully, tauntingly falling from the sky.  The three of them ran around in circles, arms spread wide, catching the flakes on their tongues.  It was heartwarming and beautiful, and I was so fulfilled to watch them, and yet…I’ll be just as fulfilled when I can sit in the grass and watch them roll up and down the driveway on their bikes, draw pictures on the concrete with sidewalk chalk, build castles and mountains in the sand, and push weeds from my flower beds in their big trucks while I soak up sun and heat.

But that’s just me.

In the meantime, I’ve stayed motivated by changing and reorganizing basically every room in our house in the last month.  I sometimes feel more energized when I rearrange things to change the flow and the way the light hits different aspects of a space.  That, in turn, gives me an idea of what accessory items are working for us and what we could maybe replace.

In our living room, for instance, I  played around with a completely different layout that seems to work really well for us.  What I noticed, though, is that we needed a new, larger area rug to tie the space together.  The rule of thumb for a rug is that it should touch all the pieces of furniture in the space to make it feel cohesive .  The rug we had isn’t big enough to do that; far too much of the floor was bare, which is not only an aesthetic problem, but a traction problem for our 12-year-old golden retriever.  She’s having a hard time getting up from the slippery floors after she’s been lying down.  So last weekend, we trooped into town, the five of us, for a family trip to Dick’s.  And I played the “Oh, but I’m the only girl, and can’t we please, please, PLEASE go to a fun store for me to look for house stuff?” card.  And we left with a rug.

I travel with the paint swatches we used on every wall in our house.  This way,  when I’m out and about, I always have the colors on hand to compare.  So, I pulled the swatches out of my purse in the middle of the store to check, and my three super manly boys and my one super manly man each grabbed a spot of the rug and trooped it to the checkout for me.

Another thing that I’ll be addressing in the living room is the blank wall above the sofa.  I’m currently searching for some artwork to frame and hang to make that more of a focal point.  My problem is deciding on what I want.  Because your space should tell your story, I don’t want something to just “put” there; I want it to be personal, have significance, and to tell a story about our family.  I have family portraits on the wall going up the stairs, so I’d like to do something artistic or inspiring in the living room.  My top ideas right now are to frame some photos of our town or from our travels and have them made into canvases, or blown up for large matted frames.  Because the sofa and curtains are neutral colors, I’d like to bring out the colors of the rug with the art…and then possibly repeat those same colors with some new throw pillows on the sofa and love seat.

I’d love to hear from you; does anyone else get suffocated by their surroundings when the weather keeps you confined in the same spaces?  How do you deal with it?  Are you painting?  Tackling a renovation project?  Replacing furniture or accessories?  Leave me a comment!

 

xoxo,

~d

 

 

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One-Month Check-In (A.K.A. the monster has been released)

30 days into our home-owning experience, and I have to say, things are starting to look and feel like home around here.  Most of the boxes have been unpacked, most everything has found its own place, and we’re falling into a new routine.  And best of all, the interior designer in me is indulging and reveling in the decisions I’ve been making for the past many years, preparing for this house, for this moment.  The home I’ve been planning in my head is finally becoming our reality, and, since this is (kind of) a blog where I like to brag talk about decorating and design and such, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek of the befores-and-afters.

We started in the living room.  Obviously, besides the kitchen, it’s the room that gets the most use.  And since we needed new living room furniture, we kind of got to start from scratch here.  The funny thing is, we actually decided to keep the same wall color we used in our rental when we painted last spring, so we weren’t really starting from scratch- just kind of.  Being consistent in the wall color has definite benefits though; for example, the stuff I had on the walls still works.  And the wall color really brings out the warmth of the wood floors and the banister on the staircase.  And finally, the contrast between the living room and dining room wall colors is really eye-catching.  Wanna see?  (Obviously, if you don’t, you probably aren’t reading anymore.  Which means I’m basically talking to myself.  Moving on…)

So, we can start with our living room at our little house, to really add the element of contrast:

Our living room at our "little house," after our spring face-lift last year

Living room in our new house: before

Living room in our new house: after

So, yeah, maybe I was being a little facetious about the “contrast” between our old living room and our new one.  There are some definite similarities, and the wall color pronounces them in a big way.  Oh, and the angle looking into the dining room:

The living room, however, is literally the only room in our new house that bears resemblance to our old house.  Take the kitchen, for example.  I thought the kitchen in our small house was huge.  And, compared to the rest of the house, it really was.  Remember that room?  We just painted it in October:

Here’s our new kitchen (before I made Ryan slave with a paintbrush and roller to splash my color of choice on the walls):

…and our new kitchen, post move-in:

…and, looking into the eat-in area:

Finally, I’ll show you the master bedroom.  We love this room- it’s really, really big compared to our little house.  This room posed some major design problems that we didn’t realize until after our closing.  See, the previous owners had put up wallpaper that they later painted over, and decorated with a chair rail.  Our plan was to remove the chair rail and paint (we didn’t know we would be dealing with wallpaper).  So when we got in here and started trying to remove the wallpaper- both by peeling and using a steamer- we discovered that it wasn’t going anywhere without taking the drywall with it.  We decided to paint over it (again) and hope that our color covered the dark stripes that were showing through the paint job that was done previously.  Here’s the “before”:

And, (from a different angle), here’s the after:

And for now, that’s kind of it for our improvements.  For being one month in, I don’t think we’ve done too badly.  We Ryan still has some painting left to do, but he’s been a real trooper (even though he’s opened at least two of the paint buckets and thought that his wife had completely lost her ever-lovin’ mind).   Our weekends, for the next, well, couple of decades, will be filled with projects and items from the honey-do list, but we’re comfortable with what we’ve accomplished so far, and we’re excited to continue making this home our own.

 

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

What Lies Beneath

When we moved into this house six years ago, the first question I asked the landlords was if we were allowed to paint the walls.  The living room was sort of pinkish-white, the kitchen was trimmed in wallpaper with little pink flowers on it, the bathroom had yet another wallpaper with little pink flowers, and the guest rooms are neon: one is blue, and the other- the closet-sized room that serves as the laundry room as well as Ryan’s RC pit/office is green.

Anyway, they told us that painting would be fine, as long as I went neutral and had approval beforehand.  And since this year seems to have been the year of sprucing-up for this house,  I decided I wanted the kitchen painted before winter.  This past week, my beloved and I struck a deal: if I removed the wallpaper from the one wall and the bulkhead above the cabinets, he would help me to paint.  Deal on.  Except that… I had never removed wallpaper before…

Before...

So Sunday, I ran to the store and bought a wallpaper scorer, to rough up the paper so I could tear.  I started to rip the pink flowered stuff down, only to realize that I was only pulling down the printed part of the paper; the backing and glue weren’t budging.  So I scored.  And I scraped with my putty knife.  An hour later, I had made little progress.  So I did what any modern, self-proclaimed handywoman would do: I Googled.  And I found that mixing a solution of equal parts water and fabric softener in a spray bottle made wallpaper fall off on its own…except that I was out of fabric softener.  The next result promised that equal parts water and vinegar would do the trick.  I had vinegar.  And- gasp!- it worked!  The backing came off easily with a few passes of the putty knife.  I was ecstatic- and so proud of myself.

You know how pride is one of the seven deadly sins?  Yeah, the heavens weren’t having it that I was proud.  So I received a curveball: there was another layer of paper underneath.  Under that pink patterned wallpaper (circa 1980) was yet another layer of wallpaper, circa 1962.  With vinegar solution in hand, and cuts on my palms from the putty knives, I managed to get each layer off by mid-day Monday.  Of course, there were still little chunks of glued- down wallpaper backing that were hanging on to the walls for dear life.  To get rid of those little suckers, I mixed some laundry detergent with water and scrubbed.  Most of the glue reluctantly gave up the fight, and the rest peeled off easily with my fingernail or a nudge from my putty knife.  By Monday evening, the walls were prepped to be painted.

Tuesday, while Ryan was at work, I packed up all my little decorative items from the kitchen and draped the appliances and table with sheets to protect them.  When he got home, we painted the ceiling so Wednesday we could paint.  While I was atop the refrigerator brushing to the edges where his roller wouldn’t reach, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: So this is how Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.  Lying on his back, just like this.

Ryan: Yes, but there’s one difference between you and Michaelangelo.

Me: Yeah, I know, his work is amazing.  And he used colors; I’m painting white.

Ryan: No, he was fast.

Me: But it took him four years!  I’ll be done here in four minutes.  Besides, I can’t get ahead of you.

Ryan: He also painted pictures.  But you’re doing great.  Keep going.

Seriously, never a dull moment here.

I tackled the walls myself on Wednesday.  I had all day to work, and there was absolutely nothing else I could focus on when a) there were PAINT cans in my kitchen, and b) most of my kitchen was in the guest bedroom.  I can’t work in a room that’s not aesthetically pleasing.  It stifles my creativity.  So I painted.  I thought, for my first time painting completely unsupervised ever in my entire life, that I could handle hand-painting the trim, where the walls meet the ceiling.  I was kinda wrong.

Ryan had to fix my screw-up places when he got home.  It took him literally all of about 15 minutes, when I had spent 9 hours painting, so I thought it was a pretty even trade.  And since each color took multiple coats to cover properly, I’m glad I got it done before he got here.  Wanna see the finished product?

Wait for it…

...After!

So now, with a more aesthetically pleasing kitchen than we had at this time last week, I’m retiring the paintbrush for awhile.  My shins are bruised from my many climbs between the floor and the counter, my hands ache from clutching the roller, my neck is sore from tilting it to see to paint near the ceiling, and I’m a few pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the week (I think there’s magic in my stretchy pants.  I lived in them Sunday through Thursday.  When I put on real button-up pants today, they were looser than I remembered them being.  I have magical stretchy pants.)…anyway, despite the fact that I can barely keep my eyes open at 9PM on a Friday, I feel great.

Ready?  One more time:

...and After!

Before...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I accomplished something this week.  Maybe I’ll paint the bathroom ceiling next week…

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

Idle Hands

You’ve heard that saying about idle hands, right?  I’ve heard different versions of it: “Idle hands make mischief,” “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” “The devil finds work for idle hands”.

My hands may or may not be idle over here, friends.  I’m not sure I’ve decided which applies.  Or if one leads to the other.  I’m just not sure.

Regardless, I spent last week preparing our house to finally-FINALLY!- having our carpeting replaced.  Of course, as with most everything I attempt, it was a kind of  debacle, but it’s finally done and we are back to normal and our little home-improvement project is complete.

If you remember, this project began back in October, when I began comparing paint swatches and carpet samples.  The week before Easter, we began the actual work by painting the living room and hallway.  After a little dilemma with the carpet I really wanted, we settled on one that was in-stock and last Monday, I placed the order.  Silly me, I was under the impression that placing an order (and paying in full) would allow me to pick the best time for me to have them come and install.  Also, since Ryan and I are such beasts where physical labor is concerned, we had decided to waive the fee of having the installers also remove and dispose of the old stuff; we agreed to tackle that task ourselves.  For this reason,  I wanted to have at least a couple of days for us to move all of our furniture and get the existing carpeting out.

Finally on Wednesday, I called and bugged  politely requested to speak to someone who could give me some idea of what was going on.  I had already started packing up our stuff, and needed to know if my efforts were in vain or if something was actually going to happen.  Apparently, we had been scheduled for Friday, and nobody had told me.  I was, um, a little miffed.

So when Ryan got home Wednesday night, we ate our last supper in the living room, over the old ratty carpet.  Wings and pizza, of course, with a glass of red wine thrown in for good measure.  (Of course, nothing was spilled… I’m saving that trick for the nice, new carpet.)  Last week was also one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had in early June.  It was the perfect week for physical labor without air conditioning.  Anyway, by Thursday morning, this was our living room:

 

 

By Thursday night, our bedroom was in the kitchen and the rest of the ugly green carpet had been removed to the front yard.  And no, the color certainly did not camouflage with the grass.  Not even close.

So with our floor on the front lawn and our bedroom in the kitchen, we called it a day by dining at Outback…seemed rather fitting, no?  And then we called it a night in the guest room.

Friday morning, I gave the bare floors one last vacuuming, removed the stuff from all the walls, and found a home for all of the clothing in our many closets.  The installers arrived around 9:40 AM.  Since they were basically taking up our entire house, Clohe and I were relegated to the great outdoors; fortunately, it was a pretty nice day.  I managed to give Clohe a bath with the garden hose and wash my car, and trim back some of the overgrown weeds outside.  I’m convinced that my weeding performance alone was worth charging the guys back on some-if not all- of the installation cost.  After all, it’s probably not every day they get to watch some five-foot-nothing chick wearing capris, flip-flops, and a baseball cap go at weeds with a hand saw and pruning shears.  But I digress…

So by 3:40, they were finished in the house and I was able to get in and get everything thrown back together.  By the time they were done, just before Ryan got home with the muscles to get most of the furniture put back, our living room looked like this:

Our bedroom looked like this:

…the hallway looks like this:

…and my thigh looks like this:

 

which is the only noticeable battle wound I accumulated, aside from the 1/3 of a toenail I broke off while trying to move furniture.  Cause, you know, of the flip-flops.  For me, this is not bad.  There wasn’t even much blood!

And now, our house is back to (almost) normal.  The only adjustment is going to be trying to keep dinner OUT of the living room.

 

Cheers!

xoxo,

~d

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Face-Lift: Phase One

Wow- what another crazy Monday.  I woke up with a to-do list as long as my arm, and accomplished (almost) everything on very little of it.  I still need to schedule a haircut and get my list together for Nicole’s bachelorette party to be held this Saturday, but I managed to accomplish a few things from my list today, at least.

This arrives on the heels of a crazy week last week, following an Easter weekend out of town, and a crazy week before that.

Two weeks ago, we painted our house.  Well, the hallway and the living room, anyway.

Remember, in the fall, I was trying to decide on colors?  Well, we’ve decided.  And we painted.  Well, Ryan painted.  I followed him around with a dry paintbrush so I looked productive, and a wet rag to wipe up the drips.  Ryan painted.  I just tried not to put butt-prints in the wet paint.  Tried.

And now, before I fill your brain with more disturbing images, I present to you:

Before.  And After.

Before...

...and After!

Obviously, that ugly green carpet still lives here.  I’m working on that one, but unfortunately, I’ve hit a bit of a snag in my plan.  While I was trying to make a decision on which carpeting I liked best, the store quit carrying my favorite.  Of course.  So today I stopped to pick some alternatives.  Maybe I’ll move quickly enough this time that we’ll actually have a decision made before the color I like is discontinued. Again.

Before...

Same area, alternate view. After.

It’s a subtle change, but it’s still made a big difference in here.  It’s a sunny color, and the light from our bay window reflects and makes it appear bright and cheery in here, even when it’s not.  Big plus!  My next challenge is to find new paint colors for the kitchen.  It has to coordinate, and I’d like to keep a “warm colors” feel in here.  Warm and homey.

Living room before

Living Room, after

Living Room, after

I’m in love.  I really am.  I chose this color to really enhance the natural light coming in from the bay window, and it worked out exactly as I had envisioned.  Ryan, on the other hand, was a bit nervous at first.  Since paint dries lighter than it goes on, he thought I was subjecting him to life in a pitcher of lemonade.  Once it dried, though, I was rewarded with an apology for underestimating my innate awesomeness as an interior designer, and a renewed faith in my abilities.

What can I say?  I’m just that good.

Cheers!

~d

This Week’s End

I’ve been AWOL.  MIA.  I have completely abandoned my blogging obligations.  It’s been nearly a week since you’ve heard from me.  I’m sure you enjoyed the quiet, but I’m back now, and ready to catch you up on the happenings of the last several days.

You knew my week got off to a rocky start when I told you about my flat tire debacle last Monday.  Tuesday I backtracked to Sunday to show you the scenery around here.  And Wednesday was Groundhog Day, for which I worked and worked to create an inside look at my hometown- Punxsutawney Phil’s hometown.  That post kept sounding cynical and jaded, though, so I was going to change topics and present you with something really fun and funny for Friday.

Then Thursday happened.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Up in the Air” with George Clooney?  Remember what his character, Ryan Bingham, did for a living?  (I’ve just spend nearly an hour trying to track down a YouTube clip- even if you’ve seen it, it’s worth watching again.  Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the scenes I want.)

Anyway, I received a speech on Thursday morning that took me back to that movie, resulting from a phone call from the west coast.  Almost the exact same speech- swear.  I literally almost laughed as they explained that I would be receiving my “packet” to tell me where to go from here, and requested that I return my keys and ID card, gather my personal things, and leave the building.  It may have been hysteria speaking.  Still, I was sane enough to honestly miss someone saying, ““Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it.” (An “Up in the Air” quote.)

Of course, my job does not define me, and I won’t be defined by reacting badly to a situation I don’t have control over.  So I’m moving on.  I’m taking the opportunity I’ve been given to help Ryan build the empire that is our life as a married couple.

We had already planned to be out of town this weekend, so I used my free time Thursday afternoon to finish my travel preparations.  In Punxsutawney, one thing you know you can always expect is the unexpected.

Remember when I told you that my family celebrates Christmas late each year, and that when I presented my homemade Christmas gifts to my mom and my aunts, I would pass it on?  Here’s a photo of the silverware wind chimes I made for them this year:

Simple enough; I found lots and lots of old silverware at a flea market, then used my pink hammer to beat it until it was completely flat.  (Not only was the end result pretty cool to look at; the action of beating silverware with a hammer was also a great form of stress relief!)  Then Ryan helped me to drill holes in the handles of the silverware, so I could thread heavy-gauge fishing line through the holes. I used my pink pliers to twist the tines of the forks to hold the lines for the dangling pieces, and my chimes have more forks than the others do, so I used the pliers to curl those tines also, for a more whimsical effect.  We celebrated Christmas on Saturday, and partied late into the evening.

We were awakened Sunday morning by the sounds of fire whistles.  Always expect the unexpected.

When we go to Punxsy, we always stay with Ryan’s parents.  Their house is just outside of town, but still pretty close to everything- including the fire station.  In the years since I started staying there, I’ve adapted pretty well to ignoring the whistles when they sound in the wee hours.  There have been only two exceptions.  The first time was the night the machine shed across the driveway from my parents’ house caught on fire, burning a fortune’s worth of my uncle’s farm equipment.  That night, the sound of the whistle stopped my heart before I even heard the address of the fire broadcast over the scanner.  The second time was Sunday morning.  The fire whistles sounded and something in the pit of my stomach told me that this was going to be close to home.  Close enough to be next door, as it turned out.  We awoke to the flurry of activity that always accompanies someone you know being in danger, and Ryan’s dad informed us that the problem was at the neighbor’s house where the carbon monoxide monitor had detected a problem.  Soon, fire trucks and ambulances were arriving and the neighbor came over to stay with us while the fire fighters checked her house for the source of the fumes.  Turns out, there was a problem with her furnace that seems to have started burning oil from within.  Scary.  Fortunately, within a few hours she was able to return to her home where the furnace repairman was waiting to diagnose and fix the problem.

Shortly afterward, just as I was leaving to wrench collect Clohe from my mom’s clutches care and say goodbye to my family, Ryan’s grandfather called to say that he wasn’t feeling well.  Ryan and his dad decided to take Grandpa to the emergency room to be sure he didn’t have pneumonia.  Fortunately, it turned out to be a sinus infection instead,  though he’s still pretty miserable.

So aside from a February Christmas celebration, being awakened by fire whistles on a Sunday morning, and a trip to the ER, the weekend ended on a pretty decent note.  We were home at a decent time, the car is unloaded and I have most of our stuff unpacked and put away, I have a load of laundry finished, and the best team won the Super Bowl (sorry, Steelers fans, it’s nothing personal, and it’s just my opinion.)  I’m ending the weekend on a happy note and ready to start the coming week with a smile and my head held high.  Because whatever happens, happens for a reason.  I’m ready for this.  I’m ready to take on the world and build an empire.  I’ve just closed one chapter of my life, and a new one is about to begin.

Come on back; a new chapter is sure to mean many new stories!

 

xoxo,

~d

The Designer Emerges

My mind works in the most mysterious ways.  That is, when it’s working at all.

There’s a lot going on right now.  Just.  A lot.  And somehow, with everything going on, my mind continues to race with ideas on how to redecorate our little house.  Because when I stress, I think about moving furniture.  And changing wall colors.  Yeah, I’m a freak.  Because I’m decorating our homes (both our current home- the one where we actually live and have lived for the past five years- and the image in my head of the home we hope to own someday soon that we haven’t even found yet) in my head.  I’m decorating in my head and I have not cooked a meal since sometime last week.  Our house is a disaster area and I am decorating it in my head.  I.  Am.  A.  Freak.

Remember a couple of months ago when I mentioned that we wanted to replace paint and flooring in our house?  And that I wanted to get on it soon?  It just so happens that my idea of “soon” means, “someday when I have a thousand other things on my mind and I need to add one more item to the list.”  Because sometimes I procrastinate.  Just another of my infinite charms.  In that last post, I described the room we want to  touch up.  Here are some photos to help you better visualize:

The detail in the ceiling is barely visible by the mirror

And here are some photos of the samples, just for you!  Because everyone gets a vote here!

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and the wood and tile samples that were included with each color option?  All laminate, actually.  Instructions for care: soap and water (or Swiffer, if you prefer.)  I suggested that we consider installing a solid surface flooring right inside the front door, so that when people come in with wet paws shoes, we don’t stain the new carpeting.  Plus, it will be easy to care for.

These are our options, friends.  I sent the samples off to the landlord today for her approval, so we’ll see if she approves of my choices!  Because, like I said, everyone gets a vote here:

xoxoxo,

~d

Christmastime: My Favorite Kind of Madness

It’s cold here up north, folks.  The thermometer on my car today registered that the temperature maxed out at a balmy 29 degrees.  Yes, farenheit.  (I’ve gotten them confused before, listening to the Canadian radio station on my way to work.  One day this summer, as I was headed to the office in a sleeveless dress, the DJ announced a high temperature for the day of 52 degrees.  I almost turned around and went home.)  Oh, and did I mention that I was wearing a dress today too?  Not so much because I was trying to tempt frostbite, but more because I was lazy and didn’t iron any of my work pants.  But I digress.

In other news, cold weather means Christmas!  Well, around here it sometimes means Halloween or Easter or Memorial Day, but this year Mother Goose has held on to her feathers (my Granny used to say “Mother Goose is shaking out her tail feathers” to mean that it was snowing.  I don’t like the “s” word much, so I’m going with it) until Thanksgiving.  Christmas means different things to different people, but universally, it generally means madness.  Insanity.  Chaos.  Choose your word, but most of us lose our minds this time of year.  Me especially.  This year, however, I’m proud to announce that with THIS MANY days left:

Santa reminds us every day that time's a-wastin'

 

for once, I actually have my shopping started- and nearly finished!  Mom and I started baking last Saturday, and my day off to stay home and bake is scheduled for next week. Most of the Christmas cards are sent out, and the gifts that I have are mostly wrapped.  And, the best part?  My amazing and wonderful husband bought our tree tonight!  The tree… it seems to be an ongoing controversy of preference.  Most people I’ve ever met have  preference for either a real Christmas tree or an artificial one.  My preference is a real tree.  I love the smell, and how no two are ever exactly alike.  Growing up, Mom would allow nothing other than a real Christmas tree in the house.  Ryan’s family prefers artificial trees.  Easy up, easy down, no shed needles, and no trudging through knee-deep (or higher!) snow to find ONE- just one!- that doesn’t have holes or animals’ homes in it.  But to me, that’s part of the charm, so I insist that we have a real tree every year.

The only exception to this rule so far was last year when Ryan’s cousin was in the midst of a battle for his life waiting for a heart transplant.  Last Christmas, we did shopping on our way home from the hospital.  We were traveling so much to be with Steven and the rest of Ryan’s family that neither of us had the time- or the heart (no pun intended) to put up a tree.  Thankfully, this Christmas we have it all: Steven got his heart and is doing very well, and we now have our tree.  So in celebration, this year our tree is fabulous!  I have new colors to adorn our boughs this year, so the red and gold of the first few years in this house are retired temporarily.

Red and Gold: retired. For now.

 

This year, we’ve evolved.  We’ve got color!  We’ve got style!  We’ve got a variation in the size of the ornaments!  We’ve got glitter!  We’ve got TONS of lights!  (Thanks to my husband who is adamant that a Christmas tree has to be “tricked. out.” with lights.  We’re triple tricked out.)  We placed it in a different part of the living room!  And we’re no longer red and gold:

And now, for the part I’m super excited about.  Well, ok, I’m excited about all of it because I adore everything about this season, (minus the cold) but aside from my new colors that I’ve been waiting for two years to introduce, I’m excited that I had a stroke of crafty genius today.  Look out, Martha; I’ve got your number.  As Ryan was sawing off the trunk of the tree before we put it in the stand, he trimmed off some of the lower branches also in order for us to get water to our tree.  He made a neat little evergreen pile on the driveway, and as he was scooping them up to dispose of them, I swooped in and saved them, yelling, “DON’T!  I’ll USE those!” 

So I saved the orphaned boughs and kept them near their siblings by making two of these amazing creations:

Waste not, want not!

 

And now, friends, my fun for the evening is finished.  I have ironing to do.