Monday, December 31, 2012

And That's a Wrap!

Pin It Now! Hard to believe another year is coming to a close in less than 12 hours. So many blessings, I can't begin to count. God is so good. I am so grateful He's been turning our big pile of ashes from the past few years into something quite beautiful.

Kids are healthy. Marriage is thriving. We're getting back on our feet. BLESSED.

Right now things are pretty peaceful in our own little household, and it feels good. I want to cherish it fully because I know circumstances can change in an instant. There will always be trials and hardships to come, but right now I am thankful I can bask in the calm.

I'm not going to attempt to recap our entire year for I have a couple of piles of laundry calling my name, lesson plans to prepare since I have procrastinated the whole time we've been on Christmas break, and tonight's a cook dinner night. So, that's that. Mom life!

I will, however, take a few minutes to recap some Christmas moments . . .

Christmas Eve

We always look forward to our Christmas Eve Breakfast - Sausage Balls and Monkey Bread. The kids like to exchange gifts with each other after breakfast, too. Oh, and they gave gifts to Daddy and me, too. SO. SWEET.

Getting ready for Christmas Eve service at church. Daddy picked great Christmas songs!

 After church we let the kids open the presents from all of their Tennessee relatives.

Christmas Morning
We always put all of the Christmas presents from us to the kids under the themed tree. This was the first year we had to wake our kids up on Christmas morning!!

At my mom's house for Christmas brunch.

Pretty girls

Silly boys
My brother's family

My mom
Fun games
Christmas Night

We went to my dad's for a delicious traditional dinner.

Shiloh got the light up Pillow Pet she's been wanting. :)

Red eye I can fix. What in the world do you do with white eye?

And that's a wrap!
See you next year. ;)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Thievesday" Household Cleaner

Pin It Now! I missed last Thursday due to the busyness of Christmas preparations, but I am back today to let you know about one of my favorite cleaners. :)
It's probably been 8-10 years since I stopped using regular store bought cleaners. The kinds with all the chemicals and synthetic fragrances. I have tried lots of different natural cleaners over the years, but Thieves® Household Cleaner ranks as one of my favorites!
What I love about Thieves® Household Cleaner:
* Uses 100% plant and mineral based ingredients
* Smells amazing
* Easy on the lungs - I can breathe while cleaning!
* Disinfects with all natural essential oils

How I use it:

I've mostly been using it to clean my bathrooms and sometimes the kitchen. I confess I haven't followed all of the suggested usage ratios when it comes to dilution. I simply pour a very small amount (about a capful) onto a wet, disinfected sponge and start cleaning. I add more Thieves® as I need it.

I have found that it works GREAT on stainless steel appliances! We moved into a rental home about 6 months ago, and the appliances are all stainless steel. I'd never had stainless steel appliances before. I didn't realize how difficult it was going to be to clean them, and I didn't want to use the poisonous cleaner (a sample that came with the appliances).

 I tried vinegar, lavender spray, and maybe some other things. Nothing was working, so I broke down and used what came with the fridge. Um, I wasn't impressed with that either. My last resort - the Thieves® cleaner. I couldn't believe my eyes! It worked like a charm. It's still a tedious cleaning exercise, but it works. After I use it, my appliances are shiny and fingerprint free!

Other uses:

* Laundry
* Walls
* Dishwasher
* Windows/Glass
* Carpet

Honestly, I have yet to use it in the ways I just mentioned (Other uses). Now that I've looked at my little Thieves® booklet again, I am curious to see how effective it is used in these ways. I'd love to try adding the cleaner to my loads of towels! I'll be sure to update when I do.

Do you have a favorite all natural cleaner?


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Parade

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Three trees. Sometimes I wonder why in the world we put up three, but once they're up I am glad. They are my favorite decoration, and they are so beautiful to look at.
How did we end up with three? Well, I grew up having two trees - a themed tree and a tree for all the other ornaments. So, it just kind of naturally happened for us, too. I LOVE themed trees. Here's mine. I've put it up for the past 14 years, I think, adding a few decorations over the years. My in-laws always do such a great job picking out ornaments that will look amazing on this tree!

I also love that this tree's colors and some of the ornaments signify what the season is all about. I look at it and am reminded of Jesus. Garnet for His blood shed for me. Gold for His majesty. White (well, actually off white) for His purity and the ability to wash us white as snow. White lights - He's the Light of the world. Without Jesus, I'd have no reason to celebrate Christmas!
Next up is what we call our Memory Tree. It holds all of our other ornaments. It's tradition for some of our other family members to give each of us ornaments every year. We also give our own kids ornaments every year. They get to open them on the night we decorate the tree together.

Now that our kids are getting older, our tree is getting REALLY full. Mark and I even had to put some of our own ornaments back in the box. There just isn't room to hold all of the ornaments! Sadly, one day, as each of our kids leave the nest, they will take their ornaments with them and we will get to hang up our own ornaments again. I am sure it will be bittersweet. :(

Anxiously waiting to find out what ornaments Mama picked out! Mark even bought one for me this year, but I will get to that in a minute.

For Lincoln: Phineas and Ferb. My kids love this cartoon. :)

For Shiloh: Christmas Barbie. I hope she remembers all of the sweet time we spent watching Barbie movies together. I know I will!

For Mullin: Diary of the Wimpy Kid. He's trying to pose like Greg, the wimpy kid.
This is definitely a special tree. So many memories. I love taking a trip back in time with every single ornament that's hung!

Got a little creative this year with a cute way to wrap money. I used toilet paper rolls, cellophane, and wrapping paper to make them look like individually wrapped pieces of candy. Why yes, I did see it on Pinterest.

Our third tree was given to us, and for the first year we put it outside with lights. Then we used it to hold all of our leftover ornaments that wouldn't fit on the Memory Tree. But this year . . .

I decided to get my theme on again. I never thought I'd have a tree with these colors, but I just couldn't help it since we now have a little entry way sitting room with teal as a main accent color. I wasn't even sure if I'd like a tree with teal, but once it was up, I fell in love!!

I looked everywhere for the "right" ornaments. The perfect set of blues just weren't showing up. Not even at Hobby Lobby! So, I gave up looking.
Then one day when I was with my mom, we ran into Wal-Mart for something, and I spotted these. I couldn't believe I had found what I was looking for at Wal-Mart!! I hope I can add a star and some ribbon next year. :)

This heart ornament is the one Mark gave to me this year. From World Market. Looks perfect!

Made a new wreath from an old one, and didn't spend a dime. My mom gave me the wreath, and I added flowers and stuff from an old wreath I had. Scrounged around for some ribbon, and there you go.
I think Christmas treats are just as much a part of the decorations, don't you? They make a kitchen look so festive.



And, of course, my grandma's Prize Sugar Cookies

The trees are my favorite to decorate. BUT, this is the first year I couldn't find the kind of red hots I like to use. Boo hoo!

Lincoln was very proud of his cookies and wanted me to share on my blog. ;)
Well, just 2 more days until Christmas, and I will have to put all of the decorations away. The decorations start coming down the day after Christmas in my house. How about yours?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What's Your Hobbit Name?

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We are the Boffins of Needlehole 
 Milo (hubby), Dolly (me), Berilac, Olo, and Prisca (our kids).


Are you as crazy about LOTR and The Hobbit as our family? Ever wanted to know your Hobbit name? Well, you're in luck! Visit the Hobbit Name Generator and find out your Hobbit name.

You can also find out your elven name if you wish. I am Anarane Calafalas.

Thanks to Kate for sharing this on facebook. :) Be sure to let me know what your names are!

Image credit

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Unexpected Journey

Pin It Now! I had no idea that a made up world would have such a profound impact on our family. As we counted down the days until December 14th, the day The Hobbit was released, I couldn't help but think back on the day Middle Earth invaded our lives.

Well, I honestly don't remember the exact day. I do know that my husband and I watched The Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers on DVD, probably sometime in early 2003 because I remember being crazy excited to actually see The Return of the King at the theater in December 2003. I do, however, know the exact day we introduced Lord of the Rings to our oldest son - February 13, 2004.

I remember Mark and I seriously contemplating whether or not we should allow our almost 5 year old to watch this movie. In the end, we decided to let him, and it's been quite an adventure ever since!

Mullin receiving his first LOTR character - Frodo - for Valentine's Day, 2004. The very next day, he bought a black rider character. That's when you could buy them at Wal-mart for like $5.00. I was probably even more excited than Mullin to scout Wal-mart weekly for new LOTR characters. :)
The craze didn't end there. Mullin wanted a Lord of the Rings birthday party, so in August that's what he got! We played Pin-the-Crown-on-Aragorn, Black Rider Tag, and Seek and Find the One Ring. Such a fun party!

Mullin found the One Ring - yea!

Mullin's it! The Black Rider must tag another player with the sword of Elendil - Anduril, flame of the west. (Yes, I know that is Aragorn's sword, and technically a black rider wouldn't be using it. *wink*)

Of course he got lots of LOTR characters for his birthday! He's thanking Grandma over the phone. :)

Wow, just 6 months after receiving his very first character, he has quite the collection.

When I used to have time for scrapbooking, I even wrote "Happy Birthday Mullin" in elvish runes.
Mullin loved pretending to be Frodo. Before his birthday and before he actually owned the swords, Anduril and Sting, he got quite creative. He used part of Cranky the Crane as his sword, a Lego bucket top as his shield, a pillow case as his cloak, and a chip clip as his leaf broach.
Over the years we've read Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other Tolkien books. We've watched the movies, the extended editions, a bazillion times. We've watched hours of behind the scenes material. We've listended to the Return of the King soundtrack on long car rides. We've played LOTR Trivial Pursuit, LOTR Stratego, LOTR card games, LOTR and Hobbit video games, LOTR Tic-Tac-Toe, and oh my, so much more!
Goodness, back before red-eye was so easily remedied. Makes me feel so old. :)
Somewhere in there early on in our homeschooling venture, we even named our school . . . Rivendell Academy. Dorky, I know. My boys didn't think it was dorky when they were little, but I think they are wishing for us to change the name now. We can't be too cheesy now can we?
We still have a huge tub of LOTR characters, though most are pretty beaten up. My boys have all the LOTR Lego sets and now they are working on collecting all of the Hobbit Lego sets. My daughter still drags out the LOTR Trivial Pursuit game even though Daddy knows the answers to ALL of the questions.
It was so amazing to finally see The Hobbit after all these years of waiting! Now that our kids are so much older, they have friends with whom to share their obsession. :) On December 14th our kids went on the best field trip ever . . .
Amazing movie! Can't wait for the others. Love sharing this unexpected journey with my four favorite people!

It's so hard to believe that it's been 9 years since our Middle Earth craze started. And we have many more years to go so it seems! It's been an unexpected yet very pleasant journey indeed.
I think sometimes we have to remind ourselves that Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves aren't real. ;)


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