kriselkeeper: December 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Birds on a Branch

A good while ago P and I made birds out of egg cartons. We used them to decorate her room in a few different places.  But I really wanted to have them perched on a real tree branch.  Finally, on one of our recent hikes I remembered to look for the perfect branch.  

 Here is the final project of the birds on a branch and hanging in the girls' room. I love how it brings out a 3 dimensional aspect to the wall decal of a tree.  

This is where it resides over the fish tank. We get lots of compliments on our bird branch.  It was  a fun project to make and I loved incorporating a little of the great outdoors in the room!

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

Oh how I love this time of the year!  December is the month I want to move the slowest and somehow it's the one that moves the fastest. In a blink of an eye it's over. This year it literally felt like P had her last day of school before Christmas break and the next day was Christmas Eve. When in reality it was…oh, I guess it was only 4 days and for some reason I thought I had a full week.  No wonder I was so discombobulated.   Anyway, fortunately, I take lots of pictures. It always helps to make the season feel a little longer as I browse through all the images. 

Here are a few of how we decorated and things we did. 

I bought a new wreath!  For five years I've been trying to buy this Smith and Hawkens red, curled wood wreath at Target during the after Christmas sale but it's always sold out. This year I decided to celebrate the house's new colors by buying the wreath at the beginning of December.  I love how it looks. The red really pops against the grey and white. Add a red poinsettia and shazam! Tis the season!

 Our glowing frosty made his appearance again with the blinking snow flakes.  I stepped it up with new red string lights to coordinate with the red wreath. I need to figured out a better method of hanging the lights. I bet they'd look more "professional?"  if they were straighter. 

This is also the time of year when we light our fireplace almost nightly.  I love seeing the stock pile of wood in the wood ring…and then some.  I had to post this picture because it's the first year the wood ring is sitting in front of a nice white wall. No patches, no awful beige color, no weird texture. Just clean and white.

The girl's tent took a beating with the winds this fall.  The fabric was ripped off so I tossed it but I was too lazy to take down the entire tent.  Then one day I got the bright idea to string lights on it and it's been the most magical thing ever!  The kids love it! We love it so much I think we might leave it up throughout the year.  

I put the rest of our white Christmas lights on the ground by our fence.  The view from our dining room as you look out towards the pool is so lovely right now.  This pictures doesn't do it justice.

I should add that the reason I decorated the backyard was out of pure guilt. We have so many strings of white lights…purchased at MY request when we first moved in.  But my vision has changed and I felt guilty for buying the strings of red lights. I thought if I used them for something then I wouldn't feel so bad about buying more lights because then I'd feel that I HAD to buy more lights because I ran out.  Silly. Crazy…I know! But look at the magic that came from those crazy guilty thoughts!  

Our tree in it's 8 foot magical glory.  Dave taught the girls how to make snow flakes. It became an on-going holiday craft project. They've been taping up the flakes on the wall behind the tree as they make them. 

Our holiday cars get pinned on a line strung across our chalk wall.  I love getting holiday cards. I almost didn't send any this year  because I was so tired and overwhelmed. But then I felt kind of selfish about getting and not giving. 

This year the girls look like this! P is 6 and Gis 21 months. 

We had fun with our chalk wall. I still love that wall!

P and I made these teacher gifts.  The succulent wreaths were fun, and a little hard to make but well worth it in the end! 

P's belief in Santa is a crap shoot every year. When she was younger she totally didn't believe in him and now that she is older she seems to believe in the magic.  This was the first official year that we did the Elf on the Shelf.  I'm not sure but it feels like P believes in Santa in theory but not in practice. She placed cookies out for him but she knew all the gifts that were gradually appearing beneath the tree were from us.  

G had no interest in opening gifts, even if they were for her. She liked using the wrapped boxes as starting blocks more than as fun items for her to play with.  I'm sure this will be the one and only year she feels this way. 

Our table setting ready for breakfast morning.  We're still playing around with what kind of traditions we want to have. I made a sausage, kale and mushroom breakfast strata but I'm not sure I want to make that every year.  We went to Mass at 7:30pm on Christmas Eve and it was a big mistake. G cried and made too much noise the entire time and P fell asleep. Should have been the reverse.  Next year I think we need to have our big dinner on Christmas Eve, have a breakfast while opening gifts and then go to Mass in the afternoon.  We're learning as we go and making new traditions of our own.  

Hope your holiday season was lovely, magical and full of good company! xo


Friday, December 6, 2013

Photo Booth

The Photo Booth turned out to be a great hit! Not only was it fun for the kids but the parents had a blast with it as well.  I lucked out when building the three-sided box. An Osh near us was closing so I bought the plywood panels and hinges for $7. Regularly price it would have been over $60. All the dress up props were also a bargain at the after Halloween close out sales!  Dave used the iPhone app, Pocket Booth to take the pictures. They printed and emailed quite nicely. I like that all the pictures are "labeled" Annika's 6th birthday. As time goes on my memory doesn't seem to hold onto things as well. Events blur together so this is perfect for remembering when we had all this crazy fun!

Here are a few more fun pictures. 

My favorite one of the girls and I!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Time to Party!

With the house freshly painted I felt like throwing a party! Finally we look like civilized folk and I wanted to show it off.  P turned 6 in November. It was the perfect occasion.  

Seventeen kids and their parents came.  I've found something very interesting about the kid's parties we throw. Almost always both parents come. I really like that. I've also found that everyone stays longer than normal. I also really like that. The Latin side of me loves this and so I plan the food accordingly.  We had Italian Wedding Soup, Black Beans and rice bowls with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and cilantro. We also had sandwiches, lots of cheese and dips and beer and wine. I feel it is often more important to care for the parents than the kids. If parents are happy, kids are happy. I did make mac and cheese. All but the sandwich platter was homemade. The party was from 2-4pm. The last person left at 7pm. No one left hungry! 

Peanut and I have a great time planning these things. We thought about what kind of theme and activities to do.  The big guest list…and I mean big for the size of our house, curtailed some of the activities we wanted.  A petting zoo required too much space. After much thought we decided on a garden party theme with a photo booth and boats for activities.  I also decided to build our own photo booth. I had a vision and calling someone in would have cost us too much money.  This is how the party turned out on such a beautiful November day! Couldn't have asked for anything more!

Dave is taking a time out before the party to have lunch in one of our many little seating areas throughout the backyard. There's the table we got off Craig's list. Loving it!

I got many ideas off of Pinterest. I'm not a good originator of ideas but I can mimick and even improve on many original creations. Here we used golf tees to stake balloons into the backyard.  

The vision of Peanut dancing through her maze of balloons will remain my mind for a long time. 

The backyard and fencing look pretty fantastic after all the staining and painting. That is until Penny, one of our dogs, decided to go to town on the fence. $1500 in fence stain work down the drain in 30minutes. We had to replace that entire section of the fence. A topic for a future post. I did manage to repot, plant and spruce most of our plants in the backyard.  Loving our new succulents. This is a great time of the year for them. 

It looked like everyone was having a great time and the weather was so ideal!

One of our food spreads. In the background a talented friend is creating a great work of art on the chalk wall. I love how artistic most of our friends are. 

The tent continues to be a big hit with the kids. However, the Santa Anna winds have taken a toll on it. It's time to build something bigger and more permanent. 

We had a" build your own boat" station and then the kids set them afloat in the pool. This was an activity that incorporated and captivated both kids and parents!  I ordered two packages of these and it was perfect!

Dave is capturing a funny moment in the photo booth! 

Then it was time for cake. I made P's cake. It's a creation of love that I can't wait to do every year.  Chocolate cake with an amazing butter cream frosting. 

The cake followed the garden theme with fairies and all.  I created the banner as well. In the background are the green utensils wrapped up in an orange napkins with green pipe cleaners to make them look like carrots. Doing all this is like breathing life back into me. 

 To keep with the garden theme we had the cake on a "tree pedestal". Again, another Pinterest idea. 

The four of us on a very special day. Surrounded by great friends, celebrating the life of one of my own and getting to be creative! This is all a life I dreamt about. Feeling very blessed to now be living it!

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