Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 in review


Now that the Christmas rush is over, it's fun to look back over 2014 and to consider all its challenges and accomplishments.


This year included projects big and small around my house.  My favorite project was the makeover of the kitchen island.  I'm so happy with the way this turned out!


I also did some smaller projects in the kitchen, like the transformation of our bar stools.


It was fun to look back at the way they've changed over the years:


I claimed the use of a large closet and made a space for crafting.  It's not fancy, but it surely is useful!

One of my favorite small projects this year was creating a watercolor portrait of our home.  This was easy and fun, and I share step-by-step instructions for it.


To celebrate my son's 21st birthday, I created my own recipe for deep-dish key lime pie.  It was a hit!


2014 was an event-filled year for me.  Some of the events were wonderful, such as taking a trip to East Asia to visit my oldest son.


Other events were decidedly not fun, such as when my 21-year-old son had a stroke this fall.


Perhaps the best way to sum up my year was my final project: this DIY "Joy" sign.


In good times and bad, life is full of joy.  The key is to remember our blessings even in the midst of the trials.

What blessings has 2014 held for you?

I'm joining Rhoda at Southern Hospitality for her Best Projects of 2014 party.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The hope of Christmas


100 years ago, World War I was underway.

Several decades of economic, political, and territorial conflicts among the great European powers had paved the way for a clash of forces made worse by a complicated system of alliances that drew more and more nations into the fray.  Late summer 1914 saw enthusiastic German forces invading Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, certain that no one could stop their march to Paris and that they'd be home by Christmas.



By Christmastime, though, an enormous system of trenches had been built on both sides of the front. Allied forces held against the German invaders.  Soldiers dug in on both sides, with "no man's land" between the miles of trenches.

"Home by Christmas" was a pipe dream.  The war would go on to last several bloody years, resulting in many millions of casualties.

In the midst of that horror, though, the spirit of Christmas lived.  Thousands of soldiers along the front declared unofficial cease-fires at Christmas.  Although fraternization with the enemy was forbidden, soldiers put down their arms and joined one another in celebrating Christmas.  For a short time, anyway, their hopes of peace were renewed.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Truce, a British grocery chain produced this video. Because it's an advertisement, some have complained about it.  But I found it to be a touching tribute to the men involved--and a reminder of the strength of the spirit of Christmas.  I hope you'll watch it.  (If you're reading this in an email, click over to the blog to watch the video.)

 

May the hope of Christ be born anew in our hearts this year.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Grace at Home No. 135


Welcome, friends!  I'm so glad you're here.

The days are flying by so quickly, and Christmas is just one week from today.  Wow!

Today will be our last Grace at Home party of 2014.  Since next Thursday is Christmas Day, I know you all have better things to do than to be online.

Question: would you enjoy participating in a Grace at Home party on New Years Day, or should we just start back up on January 8?  I'd love your opinion.

Now for a few of my favorites from last week's party:

Sherry from No Minimalist Here shared her Christmas Home Tour.  Lovely!


If you need something simple yet elegant you could do to make a big Christmas impact in your house, check out this post from Shenita at Embellishments by SLR.  So pretty!


Planning a holiday dinner party?  Patti at Pandora's Box shares an entire menu and recipes.  I may just copy the whole thing!


Kids are getting out of school this week!  If you need some simple and lovely Christmas crafts, here are some great ideas from at Kimberly at LouLou Girls.


And Diane from An Extraordinary Day shares a thoughtful post called "Cleaning House for Christmas."  You'll be blessed by reading this!


Oh, and if you missed it, I'd love for you to take my Christmas home tour.  What I'd really love is to have you all come here for live tour and a Christmas party.  Wouldn't that be fun?



These are just a few of my favorites.  Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!




Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas home tour


It's time for Christmas home tours, and I'm so glad to welcome you!

Here's how our house looks these days:


This is how we wish it looked. . . but since we're in North Carolina, a white Christmas is usually just the stuff of dreams.


Still, things are pretty Christmasy around here.  Take a look!

At the front door you'll be greeted by my DIY Joy sign and my kids' old sled.  I hope being here fills your heart with Christmas joy!


On the front door is my wreath.  I've always admired wreaths made of noble fir, but find them too pricey.  This year I bought 4 feet of noble fir garland and wired it onto an artificial wreath.  I added berries, pine cones, and a bit of ribbon.  Presto!  A noble fir wreath for a fraction of the cost!



When it's not too chilly, we can pause here on the front porch for a bit.


But it's been pretty cold lately, even if it's not snowy--so come on in!



Here in the foyer you'll find simple decorations--a lighted garland and our Christmas village.

My kids started this Department 56 village for me back in 1995.  I love it displayed here under the DIY watercolor of our house.  I mass poinsettias under the table to hide all the unsightly cords!


This year I added a new banner to the foyer.  It was made by widows in Bangladesh through the good work of a ministry called The Widow's Friend.



Isn't it lovely?


To the left of the front door is my husband's study, where the decor is simple to go with the rustic stone fireplace.



To the right of the foyer is the dining room, which was fun to decorate this year.  2014 marks the 15th anniversary of my mom's death, so this room is full of things she loved.





My favorite things this year are the 12 Days of Christmas ornaments hanging in the dining room windows.



Straight ahead of the front door is our living room.  Along with our nativity scene and Christmas wall art, our sentimental, non-fancy tree is at one end:



And at the other is our fireplace.  The mantelscape is very simple--just mercury glass candlesticks, some greenery, and our stockings--



along with a basketful of cherished Christmas books.  I love looking through these every year!



As you can see, the fireplace scene often involves our two dogs, Snickers and Cocoa.


As you peek into the kitchen, you'll see that our newly remodeled island is looking good for Christmas.  The green color and the beverage fridge are perfect for this season!



I usually do a lot of decorating in the kitchen.  Life has been a little busy this fall since our 21-year-old son had a stroke (he's doing well, thank God!), so this year things are pretty simple. On the island are my antique wrapping paper dispenser and scale. The window is sporting some garland, which smells divine, and my DIY "Noel."

On the kitchen table is a simple centerpiece on a tray that can easily be whisked away.  No muss, no fuss.



Well, there is one fussy piece of decor.  My sons built a LEGO Christmas village.



Look--there's even someone taking pictures with Santa!



The kitchen leads out to the screened porch, which is fun to decorate for Christmas:



The table runner is just a piece of plaid flannel which I folded and stapled into place.  On it stands a tool caddy filled with greenery, some holly berries, and a few pine cones.



Before I stapled that fabric into place on the table, I tore off a few strips to use as bows on the lanterns. Those bows and a few other touches and the porch is ready to go.


Thank you so much for visiting!



A blessed Christmas to you and yours!

I'm joining Kelly at Kelly's Korner for her annual Christmas home tour and 
Myquillin at Nesting Place for her tour.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grace at Home No. 134


The days are flying by, aren't they?  Welcome to the weekly Grace at Home party!

Here are some posts from last week's party that caught my eye:

A few weeks ago I featured the kitchen renovation done by Cindy from Dwellings: The Heart of Your Home.  Now she's all moved into the space, and you're going to want to see it.  So beautiful!


Debbie from Debbie-Dabble showed us how she decorates the outside of her home at Christmastime. Debbie is such a sweetie.  She doesn't let a small space cramp her style!


Laura from The Turquoise Home shared 12 DIY Christmas Ideas.  Lots of inspiration!


Jamie from Anderson + Grant gave instructions for creating this beautiful Christmas pillow.


The folks at Christianity Cove shared 21 Christmas Bible activities for kids.  Great ideas!


These are just a few of my favorites.  Thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!