The List – One More Thing to Check Off

It’s been a long time since my last post. Life happens and I have somewhat come to accept this although I do miss blogging terribly and have hopes of someday once again making it part of my life.

Blogging was a huge benefit to me for several years while in between hobbies/interests and when Hubby was still more of an anomaly at home rather than a staple. Looking back it is funny to see how I filled the gap of him being gone so much. There were odd jobs, volunteer opportunities, activities and clubs with the kids, crafts, and most recently my blog, gardening, cooking, and canning. Although I still cook and can and still have a garden (although for some reason it doesn’t seem all that important anymore), the blogging just as all the other “fillers” that either faded into nonexistence or were put on the back burner until I can get back to them, ceased.

Honestly I can’t say I don’t have time to blog, because although Hubby is home pretty much 24/7, he does his own thing a good portion of that time. My time management priorities, however, have not yet recovered from the transition of him being so present in my every day life. That plus having moved on to other goals on my “list”…you know the one, the list that everyone has, either written or mentally filed deep in our brains, of those things we want to experience or try. Some might call it a bucket list, but for me it’s not so dramatic. My list is just a compilation of things I’d like to learn or do at some point during this life, and if not during this one, perhaps in the next. Blogging was on that list, and although that is something that could (should?) be on going, having moved on to new challenges keeps the hours in my day pretty full. So until congress finally passes the bill changing the hours in a day from 24 to say 36 or more, I think I’m doomed to just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

So you’re probably wondering why I’m even making a post. Well, the one thing I truly miss about blogging, that I have yet to find any sort of comparable replacement, is the support I received from other bloggers and readers. I didn’t “live” for likes or comments, but when I did get them, they sure helped to justify what I was doing or sharing. Yet, even when a post would go by without a single comment or like, just having it out there and knowing others might be reading it, gave me a sense of completion. Does that sound sad? Throwing something out there on the world wide web to help cement my own purpose? I hope not. I don’t consider myself necessarily a needy person, constantly in need of affirmation for every little thing I do. I am human though and even though Hubby and the kids are extremely supportive and encouraging, sometimes I need to go beyond the security of my home and risk putting it all on the line for the world to see – on the internet.

What I wanted to share today were some photos of one of the things I’ve been working on for about 6 months now that had been on my “list” for many years – decorated sugar cookies. Nothing truly spectacular or life-changing, but something that I wanted to learn how to do and do to the best of my ability. What a ride this has been. I am having so much fun baking and decorating cookies and candies and now might even delve into the world of fondant covered cakes. There were so many techniques and tricks I had no idea were out there, and I can’t wait to try them all. My biggest problem now is finding a home for everything I make. Hubby is completely supportive of me sitting at the table working for hours on cookies, making them beautiful, but always asks “so who are those for?” Who indeed? The family can only eat so many sugar cookies before they get tired of them and I only have so many people to give them to. Yet, I keep going.

Valentine’s Day was a perfect opportunity to make cookies and surprisingly I did manage to give them all away without a single complaint from any recipients. Christmas too was no problem, as was Halloween. So what’s next? The one aspect of sugar cookies that does make sharing them with the same people over and over again possible is being able to make variations on flavors. Halloween and Christmas last year I was still just getting used to the basics, but with Valentine’s Day I moved on to a chocolate sugar cookie with strawberry flavored royal icing as well as dabbling in fondant. With the variations available in flavorings, I might just be able to pull off giving cookies away to my family and neighbors for at least a few more months. After that maybe I’ll move on to cakes.

So here are some pictures of the Halloween, Fall, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day cookies I’ve made so far. They took a long time to make, but I think the time was worth it. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to make some posts with recipes, etc. on Simple Grateful Cooking someday.

Thanks for stopping by ~ A Simply Grateful Tilly.

Halloween Cookies:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fall Cookies:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Christmas Cookies:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Valentine’s Cookies:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Halloween Monster Cupcakes

Everything happens for a reason — I truly believe this.

Yesterday I was super busy, nothing new there, but on my agenda was to make some cupcakes for Grace to take to work for Halloween.  She works at a daycare and wanted to do something special for the children she watches.  I got up early, got the cupcakes all baked and then got side-tracked.  I worked on everything and anything it seemed except what I needed to definitely get done — the cupcakes.  I kept telling myself, “I’ll do it next” or “I’ll work on that after dinner.”

Finally, at about 4:00 I decided it was time to stop putting it off and get to work.  I knew I only had an hour before I had to take Grace to a sign language tutoring session up at the college, but figured I could at least get the frosting made.  As I was making it, Grace came in.  She got a big smile on her face and said, “Are you working on the frosting?”  I told her I was and that I would still be able to take her to tutoring but needed to know exactly how much time I had.  She hesitated.  I asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t really HAVE to go to tutoring today.  I could go next week instead. So you don’t have to take me to school until 6:15 for class.”  She told me.

“Good!”  I told her.  “Now I can maybe get the cupcakes all done before we have to leave.”

As I worked on mixing the frosting Grace stayed and watched.  Then, as I pulled out all the bowls for adding the food coloring and got all the decorating tips and sprinkles ready, Grace joined me.  For the next two hours we worked, laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed making the cupcakes TOGETHER.  As we were finishing up Grace told me that she had told one of her coworkers that I was working on the cupcakes while she was at work.  Her coworker told her that was so nice and what a relief it must be that she wouldn’t have to worry about trying to fit it into her schedule.  Grace told her, “Not really.  I really wish I could do it with her.”

My heart sank.  All this time I was trying to get the job done so Grace wouldn’t have to stress about one more thing to do, and what she really wanted was for us to do it together.

I grabbed her around the neck and hugged her tight.  As much as I enjoy doing things for my children, doing something WITH them is so much nicer.  Sometimes I forget that I am not the only one longing for some together time.

Grace and my MONSTER CUPCAKES!

Grace and my MONSTER CUPCAKES!

Yesterday I was reminded how important it is to live in the moment and appreciate everything that we are given, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

OOOOO That’s Scary! Spider Princess Cape

When my kids were babies, I loved making their Halloween costumes every year.  Bunny rabbit, princess, skunk, three musketeer, knight, pirate, vampire, and Red Riding Hood’s cape are just a few that come to mind.  Every year I looked forward to when the kids would finally decide on what to be and then I could start looking for just the right pattern.

When the kids became teenagers they were suddenly disinterested in me making their costumes and more enthralled with all the stores had to offer.  I was heart-broken.  Still, for several years I was able to make accessories or capes for their costumes.  It was definitely some consolation.

Now that the kids are adults, it’s hit or miss as to whether or not they’ll want a costume, let alone me to make them one.

This year, Grace decided to be an octopus and wanted me to make her costume.  There was no pattern, but with a picture found on the internet I figured I could muddle my way through.  As we searched the racks of fabric for just the right one, we found an amazing black organza with purple glitter spiders all over it.  I teased her (wishing in my heart she’d be interested) that she should be a spider princess.  DONE!  She loved the idea.  So we bought every bit of the material, black satin, and purple satin, and went in search of a pattern.  All Grace wanted me to make for her costume was an amazing cape. Everything else she told me she could find in her closet.

Unfortunately, none of the patterns we found were what she wanted.  All of them had hoods.  So I had to improvise.  Sometimes I really surprise myself.  For not being a seamstress, or anything close, I think fudging a collar and lining the cape turned out pretty darn well.

DSCF5358 DSCF5359 DSCF5361

 

Although the days of making my kids entire costumes might be over, I am glad that I can still contribute something every once in a while, 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.

DSCF4786

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.

DSCF4787

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.

DSCF4747

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

DSCF4751 DSCF4754

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

DSCF4767

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.

DSCF4769

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.

DSCF4777 DSCF4778 DSCF4776

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.