Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas at Our House

As promised in my last post, here are some photos of Christmas at our house.  Is there anything more magical than the twinkle of lights on a tree?  Oh, the glowing white and colored orbs against the dark of night...sigh.  I could keep them up forever (: 

We use the same decorations year after year.  Cherished ornaments that each have a memory attached adorn the tree. The wreaths on the mirrors were purchased from the dollar store many moons ago, but with a simple tweak of berries and ribbon they shine.  This year we were very fortunate to receive free poinsettias from our local grocery (Earthfare) and I love them on the mantel.  We have stockings, but didn't use them this season.

Garland and white lights frame the barn window in the dining area with a wreath hanging in front.  Please excuse the unpainted column on the bar...I still haven't painted that thing yet.  It's just sitting there in a mocking fashion, waiting for a coat of white (:  More garland and white lights grace the top of the kitchen cabinets along with a couple of giant Santa coffee cups, but things were not yet all in place when I took this photo.  I've decided to keep lights up there from now on because the glow is wonderful and helps to keep the cave-like kitchen illuminated (:

Apartment living makes it a little more challenging to go crazy with the lights and decor, but our little snowmen love to sit outside and greet passers by with a Happy Noel (: 

Each year we purchase rosemary trees to place in the baskets, but this year I wanted to use a no-cost alternative.  I gathered evergreen cuttings and pine cones from outside and then mixed in decorative berries and red Christmas ball ornaments to make it festive.  Simple, free and cute!

Now, what would Christmas be without an inflatable outdoor decoration??!!  When did these become so popular?  I purchased Santa a few years ago on sale for $10 and he's been a hit with the kids ever since (:  Garland with white lights frame the door and the wreath is the same berry wreath I used for the fall.  I just removed the grasses and goldenrod and substituted evergreens.

This is a view of the tree in my bedroom. Please forgive the fuzzy, dark photo (: My father gave me a couple of slim Christmas trees many years ago when I lived in a much smaller apartment.  They're called pencil trees and are perfect for cramped spaces.  Now that we have a large tree taking center stage in the living room, the pencil trees offer a touch of Christmas cheer in each bedroom.

This year decorating was much more fun thanks to my niece and nephews.  My niece assisted with the lights and garland and then each child carefully placed special ornaments of their choosing (:  Afterwards we had cocoa, lit the candles in the fireplace and watched a Veggie Tales Christmas movie.  We finished off the night with a drive through Christmas Town to see even more lights and Santa as he made his nightly walk through the village.  Such great memories that will last a lifetime (:

This holiday season has been a different one for us.  Simplicity has been at the core and it has made the celebrating so much sweeter. When we tear away the busyness and commercial emphasis, we begin to really appreciate the great gift that was given many years  I do believe we have started a new tradition and one that we will continue for years to come.  May you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Abundance During Tough Times

Tough seems to be a common thread in many of our discussions today.  Topics of job loss, cut wages, lay-offs and downsizing can be a pattern interrupt to the concept of the daily grind.  If you've ever experienced any of these life altering events, the daily grind doesn't seem so bad, eh?  Everything in perspective (:

We all know leaner times are at hand for many of happens.  When the tide rolls in, it must also roll back out to the sea.  Nothing ever stays the same, which is a good thing.  It gives us the opportunity to discover hidden treasures left behind by the constant movement of waves as they crash the shores of life over and over again.  We have just gone through this ebb and flow period ourselves and find our income reduced by 75%.  The "old me" would have panicked at the thought of such a thing, especially during Christmas, but the "wiser me" has been filled with thoughts of abundance.

Now, I have to be first response was a bit in the realm of frazzled nerves, but it soon gave way to comfort in the hands of a loving God who knows our every need.  He's taken care of us so far...why would He drop the ball now?  (:

This journey of simplicity over the last year has been a great teacher.  Being thankful for the many blessings already present, learning how to prepare a whole foods pantry, reducing debt and expenses, making things instead of rushing out to purchase new items, buying used and saving the difference, repairing instead of tossing, creating handmade treasures, cherishing time spent at home, streamlining products to make sure they pull double-duty, appreciating the art of frugality, letting go of things to honor what really matters, getting rid of clutter to make room for new ideas and possibilities...all of these things have created such an air of abundance that lack can't even enter the space (:

So if you find yourself in tough times, take heart and know that many of us are traveling right beside you on this journey.  It might seem as if your world is crashing in around you, but just put one foot in front of the other and move forward no matter how devastating it may feel.  Keep your eyes open because possibilities abound to those who think outside of the box.  Don't allow your current circumstances to overwhelm the blessings that are waiting to be discovered.  When we operate in thankfulness and have gratitude in our hearts, it opens the door to abundance.

This Christmas will be a simple one, but isn't that really the way Christmas should be celebrated?  Sad to say these days the focus tends to be on the gifts, food and fun times instead of abundant thankfulness for the greatest gift of all...Jesus.  Over the next two weeks I'll bring you into our home to show how we're choosing to celebrate this year...decorating, gift giving, organizing, etc.  Hopefully our simple, frugal Christmas will inspire and encourage others to seek out a different way of embracing the holidays...a way that allows abundance to shine forth, even in tough times (:

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