Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

December was a wonderful roller coaster ride of so many fun things.

It started the 1st of December with a “mimi only” visit to my cutie pie of a grandson. I was so happy to be there early in December and see him decorate the tree and play gingerbread house with him on our date nite.

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On that trip I also got to catch up with a dear friend that I don’t see often enough and have a dinner date with my oldest daughter. It was such a great trip for visiting and laughing.

THEN off to Universal with my daughter and her hubby. Yep no kids – an adult only trip to Universal, Islands of Adventure, Disney and Epcot. It was so much fun. I thought it might be a one shot deal, but now I am thinking visiting Orlando before Christmas every year might be a really good thing to do!

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Then Christmas! We spend it in Atlanta with all the kiddos and their families. We have not all gotten together on Christmas for 5 years! I was in heaven. Here is our beautiful group photo on our ugly Christmas sweater Christmas Eve.

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We went to concerts over the holiday and saw lite and tree displays in a variety of places. We had friends over for desserts and drinks. We truly took some breaks to enjoy the holiday season.

We were then back home for New Year’s Eve. My mom and dad visited for a few days, we had a New Year’s Eve party with family and friends which was so much fun! We ate yummy food and laughed a lot. We watched a lot of football and slept. It was all good!

Christmas decorations are down as of yesterday and we are 9 days into 2017! I for one embrace the new year with all of it’s uncertainties and challenges, but mostly because of my family and friends that I have in my life – that love and support is constant and the holidays remind me of that.

So Happy New Year to you. I hope that it brings you much love and laughter, peace and joy and something in the way of a new challenge that will brighten your life.

Happy New Year!

FGU

 

Happy New Year from Florida!

We typically visit St. Augustine, Florida after Christmas until the 2nd week of January (or so). The Festival of Lights remains up until the end of January so we just continue on in the holiday spirit. We are still listening to holiday music, looking at decorations and are taking a few vacation days to totally enjoy some down time.

Yesterday we ventured out in the opposite direction that is typical for us and we discovered a gem. The Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is a beautiful state park that houses a formal garden and lots of coquina rock. The area was once owned by a distant relative of George Washington. More recently it was owned by Owen and Louise Young; he was the former Chairman of the Board of the General Electric Co. in 1922.  Louise Owen loved gardening. Following Mr. Owen’s death she donated the lovely property to the State of Florida; she requested that the gardens  be continued.

The entire setting is so lush along side some historic buildings. It was a wonderful find for us!

We wandered through and enjoyed the holiday spirit still alive and well at the park.

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Ornaments were hung from bushes and gazebos and poinsettias were everywhere!

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We even found Christmas trees tucked away in unexpected places.

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Reindeer were seen throughout and one even posed with hubby.

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In addition to that we saw some beautiful plants and flowers (even the roses were blooming!).

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Spanish moss was draped from the trees. Some trees are dated to over 500 years old in this park!

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Cute things like this rock fish would surprise you on a turn.

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Happy New Year from both hubby and I! We hope that where ever you celebrated (or are still celebrating like us) is joyous and peaceful.

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FGU

 

Farmgirl Friday Christmas Blog Hop #181

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Merry Christmas farmgirl friends! Deb and I are running a little late this week, but not without a good cause! All the Christmas preparations and fun have us in a whirl. Check out Deb’s check list and all that she has been into!

We went to a lovely brass Christmas concert last night and today we are baking cookies and bread. The house smells incredible and out the windows we see sunshine and frost.  I hope that you are mixing in fun and the season spirit into your to do’s.

Blessing to you all this week and into the New Year. We will see you here on the hop in 2015!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND LOTS OF HUGS!
DEB AND (ME)- DEBBIE  ( aka Farmgirl Unleashed)  

Remodel Survival Through Christmas

DSCN0329For those of your that have lived through a remodel you know that being in the middle of one at the holidays can be a bit challenging.  If you are doing it yourself, another layer of challenge is added.

A few years back, we were remodeling our dining room at our former home. It had been going on for months. As a matter of fact, the wallpaper alone was approaching 6 months in the removal process. It was a grass textured wall paper with other layers underneath. It had me in check mate and the holiday was fast on its way.

I think more than the fact that it wouldn’t be complete was the fact that I was hating this room a lot at this point since the wallpaper and I could not come to an understanding.

So what’s a girl to do?

Go with it. I decided that if I couldn’t beat it then I would join it and make the room the tackiest room ever! So out came every roll of wrapping paper I could find and the decorating began.

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As I started covering the wallpaper with wrapping paper my spirits lifted. I felt like I was in control for just a bit.  I added garland and then decided to not remove my ladder and tools, but include them into the decor!

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A friend of mine popped in as I was doing this and she did question my mental health for a bit, but then understood (I think)…

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We all loved the new look for Christmas, and it made me forget about the remodel that was seemingly taking over my life. The cheery look also brought a lot of laughs from all who visited.

We even took a holiday picture of Jasmine here.

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Have you ever done something a little extreme to regain your sanity in a seemingly impossible situation?

Happy Unleashing your creative side!

FGU

 

 

 

 

Tradition: Holiday Throwdown

We have lots of traditions at the holidays.  One of those is our family cooking throwdown over New Years. We get together with our girls and their significant others each year right after Christmas and through the New Year. We often go somewhere “beachy” although this year we will be at one of their houses due to scheduling challenges for travel. During our trip we select a night and a theme and each of the 4 couples compete for the coveted Throwdown Champ award. The prizes vary between puzzles (we always do a puzzle together on this trip), a game or something that someone has donated as a prize.

There are 8 of us so we crowd into a small kitchen where eight of us cook simultaneously

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And some of us have made an escape for a task…DSC_0363

We have competed with pasta, pizza, sliders and appetizers. We have eaten well during these competitions!

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We have had awesome foods like the year our Italian competitor made a KILLER vodka sauce for their pasta. We have had the not so good beer cheese dip that ended up a weird consistency.

We have had fun more than anything though...

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We cast ballots in the voting booth (the bathroom) and we vote on taste, visual appeal and originality.

So we like to eat so we have incorporated that hobby into a fun, holiday tradition. Let another Holiday Throwdown begin!!!

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What are some of your holiday traditions?

Happy Unleashing during the Holidays!

FGU

Giveaway from Santa Claus

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Yes, you read that right. I have a little giveaway direct from Santa Claus– Indiana that is.  Did you know that there is a Santa Claus, Indiana? It is in fact the only place you can get a post mark from Santa Claus in the world!

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Of course we had to visit the huge Christmas store. I have never seen so many decorations and ornaments in one place.  It was pretty incredible.

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It was in this shop that I found the perfect Christmas ornament for my farmgirl sisters. Take a look at this adorable ornament!

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Now what farmgirl doesn’t need a cute cowgirl boot on her tree?!

How do you get this? SIMPLE.

Good Luck!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #179

apronHello and welcome to December! It is cold, but not snowy here currently. Fall decorations are down and chopping a Christmas Tree down this weekend is on the agenda. We are reading about what the small, local towns around us do for the holidays and deciding how we can fit in all the light displays, concerts, plays and other fun things. We are heading to my mom and dad’s tomorrow to get their Christmas decorations down from their attic. I have been looking at Etsy, Pinterest and other DIY sites for really cool, make it yourself Christmas gifts. PJ’s are waiting to be sewn. Hubby and I spent a fun filled evening last night with cheese and crackers and wine doing a bit of online shopping for goodies.

Coming off of a great trip seeing all the kids and spending Thanksgiving with our first grandson was supreme! We cooked and ate and played and enjoyed. It has also just made me reflect on how blessed we are. We have a lovely life with great health. Others around us are not so fortunate and each day I thank God for our health and the ability to do and enjoy what we have.

So it is busy, but filled with holiday fun. What are you enjoying and doing? What are you busy with? Do you go over the top with decorating and baking for the holidays or keep it simple? Glad you took time to join us today; share what you are up to!

Be sure to stop by Deb’s she is highlighting a beautiful box and sharing a little power tool envy! I love power tools! How about you?

Countdown!

Snowpeeps!Five days until Christmas; four days until company and seven days to our family vacation over New Years.  Lots of count downs, lots of lists and lots to do!  We have been traveling this week and just arrived back last night.  With all the traveling, holidays approaching and another big trip on the way, it can be a little exasperating!  BUT it is all good stuff so how can one complain?

Our trip this week was for a big party for our daughter who is pregnant. On Monday night, we had a “Gender Reveal” party (something that was not even an option when I birthed my girlies!).  We all found out together that it is a son, grandson and nephew!  Yep, it is a boy!  Such a great trip to celebrate this and also an opportunity to visit all my daughters at the save time– a feat that is rare!

Holidays right around the corner give another reason to celebrate and visit with family.  My mom and dad are coming in town something that may not be possible had we not moved closer to them.  A two hour drive is manageable for them, but an 8 + hour drive not so much anymore.  I am fortunate to have both my parents still nearby and well to celebrate with.

Our family vacation begins on 12/28.  Every year over the new year holiday we rent a condo at the beach and the girls and their boyfriends/husbands come down.  It is SUCH a blast and I look forward to it every year.  We are all spread out now and they have busy lives and jobs.  They also have partners with families that they want to spend time with at the holidays also.  So, we bring a tree and ornaments and presents and we celebrate Christmas first– we do all the family traditions- pj’s on “Christmas Eve”, stockings on “Christmas Morning”, presents later in the morning, a big breakfast and then we move into New Years Eve on the 31st.  We also have a “food throwdown” every year with secret ballot voting in the bathroom.  We have done pasta, sliders, pizza and this year’s theme for the throwdown is appetizers!

With so many last minutes preparations it is easy to get lost.  If I focus on the smiles and memories that we have shared over the years and the new ones that are about to occur, I can stay very calm and joyful! 🙂  I have so much to be thankful for and am happily finishing up things this weekend to get ready for celebrating Christmas, Jesus’ birth, family and much love.

How are enjoying your “countdown” days?  Peace to you!

Happy Unleashing!

Burlap Gift Bags

Burlap Gift BagBurlap is so versatile and my daughters love it as much as I do.  All year I have been using it to make my own gift bags.  Recently I made some really cute ones for their St. Nicholas Day gift bags.

We always give a St. Nicholas bag to each of the girls on St. Nicholas Day which generally is a couple of weeks before Christmas.  We put Christmas goodies in it like socks, an ornament, some candy and other little presents that they can enjoy during the holiday season.  Even though they are now adults, the tradition continues and they love getting these little bags and love the little treasures in them.

This year, I made burlap bags to hold the goodies.  Look how simply easy and fun they are to make!

I fold the bag at the bottom so I cut a piece of burlap twice the length of what I want the finished bag to be.  These bags are about 15 x9. The beauty of working with burlap is that it doesn’t need to be perfectly straight; they are rustic you know!

After cutting my pieces I laid them out (I am making 3 bags here) and started decorating.

I cut out felt reindeer and stars to glue onto the front of the bags.  Again, these shapes do not have to be perfect.  The little imperfections make them perfect!  I made the bodies green (doesn’t show well in this pic) and the antlers, ears and noses brown.  Choose any colors that make you happy!

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Then get your glue gun or craft glue and start creating!

gluing shapes star with button reindeer with googly eyes decorated bag

 

 

 

 

I added buttons to the stars and googly eyes to the reindeer.  I don’t know about you but I have boxes of buttons from my grandma, mom and aunt.  I can always find some really cool looking buttons in there!

 

 

Then I sewed up the side seams with a zig zag stitch.  I just leave the seam on the outside and don’t bother with turning the bags to get the seam inside.  It just adds to the character of the bag I think.

sewing the bags

 

I trimmed the seams just a bit close to the stitching and then filled with goodies.

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I used a large knitting needle to pull some yarn through to close and tie up the bag. You could use ribbon too if you wanted to.  All three bags turned out so cute and the girls loved them.  They stated that they were “keepers” to quote one of them.  Aren’t they adorable?

3 finished bags

 

Do you make your own gift wrappings?

Happy Unleashing!

FG

Thanksgiving Traditions; Grateful Hour

turkeyI think every family has some traditions they follow for holidays.  We do too.  They have evolved over the years; some have been around for a long time, some are newer.  Some we can’t do anymore because of situations in location or participants.

When I think of  Thanksgiving some traditions revolve around food (of course!).  If my youngest is at the table I have to make green bean casserole.  My middle daughter is vegetarian so an abundance of veggies is a must!   Oldest daughter must have corn casserole and mashed potatoes.  Hubby always makes pumpkin pie from freshly roasted pumpkin and dinner rolls that the kids shape anyway they want!  I have to have stuffing and something squash.  The stuffing never changes; I have made it the same every year for as long as I can remember although I have no recipe for it.  Food is a big part of our traditions and I suspect it is for you too!

But our biggest tradition and longest standing one is “Grateful Hour”.

From the time we get up until we go to bed, every hour we do a round robin of what we are thankful for.  I love this so much.  It keeps our focus on gratitude all day.  For those that aren’t here, we call over the phone or text for participation. The predictable ones come up but it is always fun as the day progresses to see what everyone shares when the timer dings.  The last hour of the day usually brings up “glad that gratitude hours are over” with a laugh, but everyone really does love it and it just would not feel like Thanksgiving without it.

What traditions do you have?  Whatever they are, enjoy them, enjoy the holiday and enjoy pondering over what you are grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!