Celebrating Spring!

Near 70 degrees in Michigan for the past two days has really given everyone around here spring fever. The minute I heard the temps were going to be above 50, sunny, windy, and no chance of rain for two whole days, I set my everyday to do list aside and started a new one —

Spring Fever To Do List

  1. Hang laundry out. I hate not being able to hang bedding and clothes outside all winter. Not only does running the dryer cost money, but it never leaves the laundry smelling quite as good as the fresh air.
  2. Start seeds for spring planting. It’s the beginning of March and time to start planting the seeds for tomatoes and peppers. These seeds take the longest to grow and are the biggest crops in my garden. Last year winter never gave us a break so I moved my potting bench into the great room along with bags of dirt and worked on starting my seeds there. This break in the weather couldn’t have come at a better time. Now I won’t have to spend a day setting everything up in the house and can just work on the patio, outside in the sunshine.
  3. Take Bell for a walk — many walks. Although Bell does get an occasional walk during the winter months, especially if the temperatures are above 35 degrees, they tend to be few and far between. With the warm weather making every activity outside inviting, walking Bell is a welcome chore.
  4. Garden planning. Admittedly, planning the garden for 2016 has not been something I have wanted to do so far this year. Every once in a while, when we’d have a fairly nice day, I’d get the gardening itch, but within a day or so the cold and snow would return and chase the itch away. Now that I can actually go out and get in the gardens to pace out new additions and plan crop rotations, the time has truly come to take this seriously.

Well, maybe not the biggest list of all the to do lists I currently have running, but I am far more excited about this one than any other at the moment. The past two days have been spent checking off this list and I have enjoyed every moment. All the bedding in the house has been washed and hung out to dry,

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Bell has had more walks in the past two days than in the past two months, I’ve got my plan for the 2016 garden layout done, and today I finished planting all the tomato and pepper seeds I’ll need come May (check out my post at Simply Grateful Gardener Starting Seeds for the 2016 Garden).

This is Michigan so accepting that snow will more than likely bury us again before spring truly comes to stay is just how it is. Having this reprieve and taking total advantage of the gift — for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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The Eighth Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas to start the New Year right

I caught up on dirty laundry and made everything clean & bright!

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Starting the New Year off on the right foot is a good thing, at least it feels that way. For weeks as the push for getting everything done for the holidays closed in, everything around the house seemed to be put on the back burner. And I do mean everything.

Nothing got cleaned, nothing got washed, nothing got put away. If people were coming over, I threw clutter in things, under things, or buried them under a stack of presents for camouflage. Dishes were only done when there wasn’t one dish left in the cupboards. Laundry got done only after Hubby threatened to start wearing my underwear if he didn’t get some clean ones of his own. Waste baskets overflowed making it easy to shoot baskets with wadded up tissues because the basket was buried under a mound of already wadded up tissues so the target was three times its original size. And the dust was so thick on the end tables and floor that I dared not put on a ceiling fan for fear of reducing visibility in the great room to zero.

Yep, the house was trashed and I couldn’t stand it, but what could I do. Running away sounded good, but if I ran away, Hubby and the kids would just want to come with me, and then what would I be accomplishing. Ignoring the situation certainly wasn’t an option, not when you’re tripping over piles of papers, wading through baskets full of dirty clothes, and constantly moving stacks of dishes from one spot to another just to find an inch of counter space to pour a glass of milk.

So, what better way to start off a new year than to spend it trying to get caught up on some long overdue house cleaning and laundry that I seriously think could have walked itself to the washing machine. Obviously not everything could get done in one day, but even finishing one load of wash, running the dishwasher one time, and clearing a couch off so we could comfortably sit and enjoy a movie as a family is success in my book.

I’ve got the rest of the year to get caught up and catch my breath, and with any luck maybe I’ll be more organized and prepared for the holidays in 2016 — or not. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath on that one.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all, even if it is a day late — but heck it is still the new year and when exactly will it become the old one? For now, I’m going to enjoy the smell of a freshly dried towel from the dryer, eat off a clean plate with a clean fork, and yes, put my feet up on my still cluttered coffee table while sitting on my uncluttered couch — and for this I am, Simply Grateful.

Why Is It So Hard Letting Go?

Back about seven or so years ago I boxed up all my homeschool supplies and packed them away in the basement. That’s not to say that I stopped homeschooling, but the supplies I finally put away were the Pre K – 4th or 5th grade stuff. This amounted to nearly 30 plastic bins of stuff.

This might sound like a lot of stuff, but my situation was not typical of a homeschooler. Having a son with Down Syndrome I tried anything and everything when it came to teaching him. If one workbook didn’t work, I bought another. If one manipulative didn’t hold his interest, I found others to try. My home was better equipped with teaching materials than most public school classrooms.

With the addition of our new freezer in the basement, although I made a space for it, I decided it was time to start parting with my homeschool materials. This would free up some much-needed space and get rid of lots of clutter. Even though the bins were stored out-of-the-way, having them still gave me a sense of clutter. I justified holding onto all this stuff by claiming that perhaps some day Grace might want to homeschool her children.

Grace is 19 and although she likes the idea of homeschooling her children someday when she has them, she is a very different person than I am. I wouldn’t say she is lazy, but she isn’t motivated either. I had a long conversation with her recently about this and I can see that she is pulling away from the homeschool choice already because she doesn’t want the work or responsibility that goes along with it. I can understand her point of view, as many times I was overwhelmed with the homeschooling aspect of our lives, but at the same time I wouldn’t change those years for anything. This will have to be a choice for Grace to make and if she does decide to do it, she will do it her way, not mine.

So over the long weekend I began pulling out a few bins of teaching materials and taking pictures of them to put up on Craig’s List. As I started sorting through the hundreds (and this is no exaggeration) of workbooks I have, I found myself setting aside certain ones that I remembered really liking. These were in the keep pile. The rest went in the sell pile, which was substantially bigger.

I posted five ads/five items in three categories each and then decided that perhaps a bulk ad advertising just “Homeschool, Teaching and Teacher’s Resources” would be better. It would be tedious to list each item individually.

Bright and early yesterday morning I received a phone call from a woman who saw one of my ads. She wanted to come by and take a look at everything I had. I asked her what she specifically was interested in and she said “EVERYTHING!” My heart began to race. I was thrilled or something, I wasn’t really sure. I told the woman that I would pull out more bins for her to look through and see what she was interested in and we made arrangements for her to come by later in the morning.

A few hours later the woman and her four little girls were seated in my great room looking through binders of workbooks, boxes of puzzles, stacks of books, and bin after bin of manipulatives and teaching aids. I have everything priced to go. workbooks are from $1 to $3 depending on the size of the binder they are in. All of my workbooks have had their bindings removed and been put in either a binder or file folder for easy copying, no writing in them whatsoever. Wood puzzles were $1 for small to medium and $2 for large. Books were $.25 each for readers – but I didn’t even bring up the 1000 books I still have in the basement. Manipulatives were from $5 to $15 depending on how much I know I paid for them which is at least 3.5 times those prices (teaching materials are not cheap).

The woman filled six boxes with stuff and ended up spending $200. Zeb and I packed the stuff away in her car and she asked me to contact her again when I pulled out more stuff. In all, I probably had pulled out about 1/3 of what I have. She didn’t buy everything, but she took nearly every workbook, quite a few puzzles, several stacks of readers, four different types of sorting, lacing, manipulative type sets, a videoscope lab, and bug collection.

After she left I sat on the couch looking at the empty spaces in the great room holding my money. It was a weird moment. I was happy to see my stuff going to a home where it would be used, but at the same time, there was this funny feeling in my stomach.

Hubby came home shortly after the woman left and was very excited that we’d sold so much. His excitement encouraged me, so after he left for work again a few hours later, Zeb and I once again headed into the basement to pull out more bins. I finished clearing out one storage room (another five bins) and then we went into the pantry and pulled another seven bins from there. I brought everything upstairs and began sorting through everything.

This time, as I sorted through all the workbooks though I noticed something, the pile to “keep” was increasing three or four times faster than the “sell” pile. Very quickly I had four bins of workbooks that for some reason I just could not part with. This was not to mention the four boxes of file folders in the basement I’d already eliminated from the selling option before even bringing them upstairs.

I stopped!

Why was this suddenly so hard to do? Why was I holding onto even one of these workbooks? It’s not like I’m going to use a Pre-K Numbers Workbook or Second Grade Math text-book, and even if there were ever an occasion for me to use or need such a thing, there is no reason I couldn’t go online and pretty much find anything I needed.

Still, that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach was turning into an ache and then an anxiety-ridden struggle. I want the extra space and all the clutter gone, but after watching that woman walk out of here with so much of my “stuff” that I used for so many years with my children, I feel an emptiness that is choking me.

Probably the best thing to do would have been to just take the bins out of storage and get rid of them without opening them, but I couldn’t do that. I had to organize everything again, make sure everything had every piece, and even clean some things. Touching every piece brought back so many memories and thinking of these gone is really hard.

So, this is what my great room looks like this morning:

It looks like -- No words! Just a MESS!

It looks like — No words! Just a MESS!

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These are just some of the workbooks I have. There are two more bins of ones to sell and of course the bins I have hidden away in the office.

These are just some of the workbooks I have. There are two more bins of ones to sell and of course the bins I have hidden away in the office.

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I have five other accessory-type charts for this thing!

I have five other accessory-type charts for this thing!

I can't even find my coffee table under all this stuff.

I can’t even find my coffee table under all this stuff.

I don’t know what to do. I am so afraid of regretting getting rid of all this stuff — but at the same time, it’s only stuff! Hubby pointed out to me when I began pulling all this out that it would be nice to make some of our money back on all this stuff, but as long as I got what I wanted from it, donating was an option. If I do donate it will have to be to a school for special needs children because that is where I would really like to see this stuff utilized, although I don’t know that they would even want it. Just giving it away and not knowing that it will be put to good use is not something I’m comfortable with right now. Getting rid of it period is not something I’m comfortable with right now.

I’m not sure if I should email the woman who was here yesterday to come by or contact another person who emailed me last night about my ad. I bet I could sell every one of my workbooks, even the ones I have locked behind the office doors, but how can I do this?

I have a rule that I try to hold myself to: Once something is brought up from the basement to get rid of, it doesn’t go back down. This has served me well when getting rid of other things, so when it wasn’t sold it was either thrown away or donated. There is no way I can leave my great room the way it is. Something has to be done, just what?

At the moment I’m at a loss. Grace made me a fresh pot of coffee, the weather is rainy and humid, but supposed to get cooler sometime today, and Bell needs to get out for a walk before I’m brought up on charges of dog neglect because she’s been homebound for so long because of the heat and humidity. I think I’ll get dressed and take her for walk to clear my head, come home and have a fresh cup of coffee, and then maybe my perspective will clear — and for this, I am trying to be Simply Grateful.

Oh Happy Day! We’ve Got A New Addition

Yep, it’s true. We have a new addition to our happy home. I have been wanting this for a very long time, longer than I can remember, and finally it’s happened.

Monday morning, as I sat on the couch, avoiding opening the refrigerator and facing the 25 pounds of plums still sitting there waiting for me to do something with them, I made a decision. I was NOT going to can one more plum this year.

Nope! Not me. And if I don’t do it, no one will, so other options needed to be explored.

The only method for preserving plums that I don’t think I’d tried was to freeze them whole, or at least in half, seeing as I would definitely want them pitted first. In order to do this, there could be no more excuses, delays, putzing, or any other form of putting this off — I needed another freezer.

Financially a new one was really out of the question, so off to Craig’s List I did go. Knowing selling this to Hubby was not going to be an easy task in the first place, I decided to make sure to look at freezers within a 15 – 20 mile radius. Luck must have been on my side, because I found two that had been listed within the past three days. Crossing my fingers I shot off an email to both sellers inquiring if their freezers were still available. Within minutes I got a response from one indicating she still had it.

This freezer was only 12 miles away, upright, less than 9 years old, in great condition, clean, in the garage (Hubby would not be receptive to having to lug a freezer up basement stairs, seeing as he’d be lugging it down ours), frost-free, and she could let me take a look at it that afternoon. I called Hubby and asked if he wanted to come with me or if he just wanted me to make the corporate decision.

Now me giving Hubby the option of coming or not might seem a bit harsh, because there was no discussion as to whether or not I was going to get one, just that I was going to, but we have been at odds on this subject for far too long and I don’t ask for a whole lot. Plus, I had $100 from my birthday in June that has been burning a hole in my pocket, so if this is what I chose to spend it on, I think I should be able to.

I’ve done my homework and know how much an additional freezer will cost per year to run, measured the area out in the basement where it is going to go, and have been sending baked goods and fresh picked veggies from our garden home with Hubby’s buddy that he works out with that has a truck for months now, so I felt fairly comfortable that I had everything pretty well thought out.

Hubby chose to come with me, in fact, he was all too cooperative — it made me nervous. Still, I was too excited at the prospect of just pitting and freezing the rest of my plums that I didn’t over-think it.

At 3:15 Monday afternoon we headed out to the woman’s house and found ourselves looking at an upright freezer larger than anticipated (a good thing), newer than I thought, ice-cold inside, and in excellent condition. She was asking $125 for it and from our conversation on the phone I knew she REALLY wanted it gone, so I offered her $100. She accepted. In fact, she jumped at it.

All the way home Hubby kept talking about how nice this freezer was and what a great deal this was. The one thing he did say that stung just a bit was, “Why do I think though that you’re just going to fill this up and then want more space.”

OUCH! What could he be thinking? Hasn’t he lived with me for nearly 23 years now? Where was this accusation coming from? I was hurt — but far too excited that I was getting a new freezer to even acknowledge his comment. I just diverted him by asking him how big he thought it was. I had figured by the dimensions it was 16 cubic feet, but Hubby said it was at least 17 possibly even 19. Perfect! That’s exactly what I wanted…I mean needed.

Tuesday afternoon Hubby’s buddy picked us up and we picked up the freezer at 2:30 and unloaded it into the garage by 3:30. At 4:30 I was at Wal-Mart picking up some baskets for the shelves. By 6:00 I was home with my baskets and started cleaning the new freezer. I bleached it inside and out, although it really didn’t need much cleaning. Still, I felt better sterilizing everything and making it smell absolutely new. I plugged it in, put a cup of water in it to freeze overnight, and went to bed.

 

Wednesday morning I checked the freezer and the cup of water was frozen solid. Later in the afternoon Hubby and I moved the freezer into the basement, ran the extension cord, and plugged it in. It purred like a kitten. Right away I set to work at pitting my plums and placing them in the freezer on cookie sheets to freeze. By Wednesday night all the plums I wanted frozen were done.

Then today it happened. Remember Hubby’s questions/premonition about me filling the freezer…

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Okay so I filled it. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? Now I didn’t go out and buy a bunch of stuff to fill it with, I just reorganized my other three freezers and moved all the things I wanted in this new freezer in it. So although my new freezer is pretty full (I’m sure I can still get quite a bit in here), I have freed up a ton of space in my other freezers and can organize them a lot better so I can find what I’m looking for when I want and see what might have been forgotten about because it was buried at the bottom of my chest freezer or tucked away somewhere in the back of my refrigerator freezer.

I’m happy, oh so happy and Hubby is gloating because he was right, but at the same time not exactly, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

The Rantings Of A Burned Out Canner!

Every morning when I come downstairs from a restless nights sleep, I know exactly what is waiting for me, and it’s not a pretty sight.

Canning season has been in full swing for what seems like FOREVER now and the house, the kids, Hubby, and especially myself are really starting to suffer for it. As I trudged down the stairs this morning, dreading what I knew was waiting for me in the kitchen, as well as every other room in the house, the first thing that popped into my head was:

I want a clean stove!

Is that really too much to ask for? Can having a clean stove be something I will only dream about or is it something that might actually, possibly, just maybe happen some day in my life before we have to replace it for the third time because I’ve burned yet another one out?

Don’t get me wrong, I do clean my stove. Not as often as I should, or probably as often as most people do, but it does get clean. The trouble with cleaning it though is that gosh darn it if it doesn’t just get completely dirty again. And we are not just talking a spill here or a drip there. No, we are talking totally and completely unrecognizably stained, burned and splattered.

I don’t think I’m a messy person. I wouldn’t consider myself to be flippant when it comes to cleaning up messes, but my stove is NEVER, and I don’t use that word lightly, clean. Even when it’s clean, it’s not really clean. There is always just a subtle streak, a tiny spot, or because this stove is now several years old those black marks that just won’t come off there to mock me. Is it a curse? Am I the only one who can’t seem to have one day when her stove is clean for more than the ten minutes between meal preparation, canning projects, or kitchen endeavors?

Realizing that a clean stove just might be too much to ask, I began to think about all the other things that I want, and the list was HUMONGOUS!

  • I want a kitchen floor that I can walk on barefoot and not have to worry about crunching, sticking, or slipping.
  • I want kitchen cabinets without food drips all down the front of them.
  • I want empty counter space. Yep, either the counters are filled with full canning jars, empty canning jars, stacks of dishes to be cleaned, pots and pans to be scoured, or food to be processed.
  • I want a kitchen table without crumbs all over it because no one thought to shake out the tablecloth after the last five dinners I made.
  • I want a kitchen sink that isn’t already full of dishes soaking or stacked so high you can’t even use the faucet.

Then I moved from the kitchen:

  • I want coffee and end tables that aren’t covered and stacked with recipes, note books full of notes on future blog posts, gardening books, and all sorts of papers strewn on every table and taking up every cushion on the couch.
  • I want to know what color my carpeting is. I think we have navy blue, but for all the dust, lint, dog toys and hair, and other paraphernalia all over it I just can’t be sure. Doesn’t anyone around here know what a vacuum is – oh yeah, that’s my job. Okay then, I want my carpet vacuumed.
  • I want to know what watching television without a ½ inch of dust on it is like.
  • I want to know who keeps putting all those cobwebs in every corner and in every crevice imaginable.
  • I want the stack of ironing sitting on the fireplace to magically be done and all the baskets of unfolded laundry folded and put away.

Moving upstairs:

  • I want the sheets on every bed to get a washing that is too long overdue.
  • I want all the work that needs to be done in Zeb’s room behind me: The border on his ceiling needs removing, the walls need to be primed and repainted (including the ceiling and closet), his videos, trophies, and anything on his dressers or bookshelves need to be boxed so we can throw out his old “little boy” furniture to make way for his new bedroom set being delivered in a couple of weeks, we need to remove the old carpet and put in the new, and I need to find new bedding, make a new window treatment, and all the finishing touches a remodeled room requires. I want it done before he turns 22, which is in a few months, but in reality I have less than a month to get all the prep work done before the furniture arrives.
  • I want to wash my windows. Yes, you read that correctly. I WANT to wash my windows. I hate washing windows but at this point the prospect of washing them appeals to me. I basically only streak them, but I want clean windows so I’m willing to streak them as only I can and clean the tracks too! Of course the reason I want to clean windows now, when it isn’t really a priority, is probably because there is no way in the world I’m going to do it. When I actually have the time for such a project, I will hate every minute of it, but if I went upstairs right now and started cleaning any window, I think I’d find some sort of distorted comfort in it.

Miscellaneous:

  • I want a fresh cup of coffee. I have been drinking out of the same pot of coffee, just reheating it, for the past three days now. A fresh cup of coffee sounds so good right now, but a luxury that cannot be – BECAUSE I’D NEED A CLEAN SPOT ON THE COUNTER IN ORDER TO MAKE IT!
  • I want all the shoes that everyone just tosses off and leaves in the entrance to the laundry room put away where they belong. Let me qualify that by saying “put away by the people who tossed them there” and not by me!
  • I want someone to walk Bell. Although it does give me a reprieve from everything overwhelming me here in the house, it would sure be nice to have someone else take her for a change.
  • I want dinner done. No matter what I do all day long, dinner is the one thing that absolutely, positively, without fail has to get done TOO! Not in leu of, but along with. How nice it would be to actually spend a day just making dinner and not have to worry about everything else on my perpetual to do list.
  • I want the gardens to be cleaned out. The cucumbers and peas are done and need to be cleared to make way for spring crops and there are several gardens that need revamping for next year as well.
  • I want all the peppers and tomatoes waiting to be harvested picked and processed, the pumpkins pureed and frozen and the corn dried. Actually at this point I just want the peppers and tomatoes to STOP. The peppers especially seeing as I can’t figure out anything to do with them and there are at least a few hundred more peppers out there to pick.

Is all this really too much to ask?

Oh, and I want a stocked, full pantry. Wait. I forgot…the pantry.

Yes, this is stocked and overflowing. A testament of where my time has gone, what I’ve been doing, and why everything else in our house seems to be in complete upheaval and an utter disaster. So is this the price I have to pay for a full pantry?

The argument could be made to pace myself. How??? Fruits and vegetables wait for no one. The window of opportunity for preserving is so short that it is impossible to stop and smell the roses. So the only thing to do is push forward and keep telling myself “this too shall pass.”

Still, what I wouldn’t do for a fresh cup of coffee right about now, and with that I’ll sign off – Simply Grateful.

Obstructed View!

After our new windows were put in the other day, I was thrilled to sit in the great room just staring out the new doorwall. It was not only nice to have a new door, but it was great to have a window that was clean.

Although I pride myself on being a fairly good housekeeper, windows are not something I specialize in or for that matter do very well at all.  I do clean them often enough, but to clean them and not leave behind streaks is not going to happen. After the installers left on Thursday, it was wonderful to sit and stare out freshly cleaned glass without any sort of film, streaks, or grime.

Well, this morning when I got up my bubble was burst.  Yep, chalk one up for the birds.  They managed to somehow mark their territory quite well, right through the screen on our new door.

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Very Nice!

So, now that my doors have officially been “broken in,” I guess I’m going to have to add insult to injury and clean them, most likely leaving behind streaks.  I’ve tried most everything in the past, Windex, ammonia mixed with water, vinegar mixed with water, soap and water, you name it, I’ve probably tried it.  I think it’s me really.  Some people excel at certain things, and cleaning windows is definitely not one of those for me.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. I suppose I can always look at the pictures I took of the doors just after they were installed, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Halloween Piece de Resistance

The ultimate in my Halloween decor for me has to be the full size coffin my father and I made together back in 2009.  It took 2 days, three wooden pallets, and the meticulous mathematic genius of my father to accomplish this not so small task.  I found instructions on the internet to make this, but my father is more of a hands-on woodworker.  He looked at the plans then set out to do all his own measuring, angling, and cutting.  He just needed the picture of what I wanted it to look like, and off to work he went.

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Every time I look at this, which is practically every day of the year as it is stored in the garage next to my car, I smile.  The memories of all the fun my dad and I had making this are priceless.  Probably the funniest memories are from when we were deciding how large to make the coffin. After we debated for a bit, my father laid down on the floor and told me to mark a few inches above his head, below his feet and on either side of him.  When I was done he said, “There!  Now when the time comes, I’ll be all set.”  We laughed, but it was even funnier when he yelled upstairs to my mother and said, “Honey, come on down here for a minute.  It’s time for your fitting!”

Of course my mother didn’t find this the least bit funny, but we did.  Iy was all in good fun.  Perhaps morbid fun, but to this day my father and I still have a good laugh when we reminisce.

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You might not think the size would really matter, but being that it is a full size coffin, it has been perfect for photo ops at every Halloween party we’ve had.  You’d be surprised how anxious people are to crawl inside and get their picture taken.  The first year we had this displayed, I had a hard time keeping Zeb out of it.  He was constantly crawling inside it and trying to scare everyone.

Now I keep the lid screwed on tight for display purposes, as Halloween parties are a thing of the past for now.  Maybe when the kids get over being “too old” for Halloween, we can once again enjoy Halloween for what it is intended for — FUN!

This final piece of Halloween decor went up this morning in the front foyer and is the perfect finishing touch for the season.  What great fun and wonderful memories, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Halloween’s Everywhere

The room that the family spends the most time in at our house, besides the kitchen, would be our great room.  This is also the room where I have the most decorating opportunities.  As with Christmas, this is the center of my decorating.

This year I added decorations to our stairway.  I absolutely love this.  I had a vision, but after I’d bought the tulle netting, I had to let it sit for about a week before inspiration hit me.  It took nearly three hours to complete, but I think the end product is fairly impressive.

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Grace came to me one afternoon several days after I’d completed the stairway and told me, “You know what I like most about your decorations?”

Taken aback by her question I told her, “No.”

She continued, “They look just as nice during the day as they do at night.”

I asked her which decorations she was referring to, and she told me the stairway.  I had to agree.  Actually though, the stairway looks far better during the day than at night.  Even with lights hidden among the layers of tulle and decorations, at night much of the beauty of all my hard work is lost.

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In addition to the banister decorations, new also this year are the tomato cage trees on top of my doll cabinet and hall closet.  I first wrapped the trees with orange lights and then brown tulle for the one on top of the doll cabinet and black tulle for the two on top of the closet.  Adding a few decorations to the tulle so they looked nice during the day, the project was complete.  This was a quick and easy project and cost very little as I only had to but the tulle.

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Besides the stairway, there are two other focal points in the great room — the mantle and the television cabinet.

The mantel is decorated with several ceramics I made as well as some Halloween themed pictures.

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The television area holds three more of my favorite home-made ceramics.  These are large pieces that I made back when my kids were still babies.  It took me months to complete these and now they are the absolute first decorations I have to put up.

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My Ghoul Ceramic

My Ghoul Ceramic

My Mummy Ceramic

My Mummy Ceramic

My Grave Marker Ceramic

My Grave Marker Ceramic

The bats on top of the television were made by me as well.  You will also notice the mouse and witch Annalee dolls that are front and center.  I love these hand painted dolls and have a huge collection of Christmas ones that I have been collecting since I was 16 years old.

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The coffee and end table in the great room have decorations as well.  The coffee table is home to two large character spiders that I painted and the end table has some egg-bats and a haunted tree I made.

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The remainder of the great room is a combination of homemade and store-bought decorations I’ve been collecting for more than 20 years now.

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Every morning when I come downstairs, and every night when I turn out the lights for the day, the great room is the room I see.  All the decorations hold wonderful memories and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Halloween Continues To Spread

This is the second post showcasing this years Halloween decorations around my home.  Although the kitchen is not decorated all that much, there is just enough to know that fall has arrived.

The kitchen is tough to decorate because taking up any space on the counters would be counter-productive.  I do manage to put a few homemade ceramics here and there, but most of the decorations have to be displayed on the top of the fridge, ovens, and breakfast bar — which has never been eaten at in the 20 years we’ve lived here.

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The ceramic pumpkin that sits center on the breakfast bar was made by my Great Grandmother and handed down to me by my mother.  It is one of the few decorations I have in my collections made by her and one that I hold very close to my heart.  Seeing it every morning when I come into the kitchen to make coffee stirs wonderful memories of her and the time I spent with her.  I wish I had appreciated her more while she was with us, but am thankful I have my memories and a few trinkets to keep her spirit alive.

Ceramic pumpkin made by my great-grandmother.

Ceramic pumpkin made by my great-grandmother.

The nook’s decorations are limited to the table.  Being that this table is eaten at three times a day, a centerpiece and tablecloth are about all I can manage.

The nook.

The nook.

Even though it might not be the easiest room to decorate without putting things where they would get in my way, I love to have the kitchen decorated because that is where I spend the majority of my time every day.  Even the slightest bit of festivity warms the soul, something that makes doing something as mundane as washing dishes just a bit more enjoyable, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

It’s Time For Halloween

Decorating for Halloween is one of my favorite holidays to decorate for, however, because decorating my home for Christmas typically takes more than a month because I want it done by December 1st, more often than not, I tend to skip it.

Yes, it does take that long to decorate my home for Christmas. Hopefully this year I’ll be able to share with you some pictures so you can get a glimpse into our version of Bronner’s East (Bronner’s is a huge Christmas store here in Michigan for those of you that are unfamiliar with it).

This year, because I have not quite decided how much decorating I will have time for during the Christmas season, I decided to take out all of my Halloween decorations that have been dormant for several years.  My intension was that if I didn’t use it this year, I’d get rid of it.  With the house decorated and everything I wanted to use in its place, I had four things to drop off at the thrift shop.  Not as many as I thought I’d have, but the pressure was on.  Plus, after I was done using what I had, I decided to add to the decorations with some homemade touches.

Quite a few of my decorations are handmade.  I have a kiln and for several years made various Halloween ceramics.  I sold some, but for the most part, used them for gifts and personal use.  There are also some pieces in my Halloween collection that have been handed down through generations.  These are pieces that I hold close to my heart.

For those that don’t like Halloween or agree with what some consider to be a pagan holiday, bear with me.  I decorate for and enjoy Halloween for the fun and joyful spirit that it instills in children and adults alike.  There are no hidden religious connotations behind anything in my home, at least not in our minds.  If you are offended by the holiday or posts related to it, then I suggest you skip this post and probably the next couple on my blog as they will be consumed with showcasing my Halloween decorations.  I hope though that you will enjoy a look into our home and perhaps find some inspiration for decorating your own.

The Bathroom

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The bathroom is always the first room to get decorated it seems.  Probably because it is the easiest.  Very few wires to hide and not many lights in this room, only the leaves around the top of the mirror and the cone tree in the corner on the vanity.

It always surprises me how just a few decorations can transform a room.  I love bringing fall into the house to match the color changing world out of it, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.