chorizo stuffed zucchini

This was our dinner last night. I found some chorizo at our local meat market, which is one of my favorite places because the meat they sell comes from locally raised, pastured animals. Chorizo is basically ground pork with some spices, including chili powder that gives it the red color. I decided to make stuffed zucchini with the chorizo. Here’s how I made it:

Chorizo Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients
1 pound chorizo
1 onion
3-4 zucchini
1 ounce shredded raw cheddar cheese

Directions
Cut zucchini in half the long way. Scoop out the seeds, making a boat for the chorizo. Microwave the zucchini for about 4 minutes to make it a little softer. In the meantime, chop the onion and cook it with the chorizo. Scoop the chorizo mixture into the zucchini boats. I used three zucchini this time, but that was only because there were only three of us home for dinner last night. I could have used slightly smaller zucchini and made four. Plan on using about 1/4 to 1/3 pound of meat per person. Once the meat is in the boats, bake it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Shred some cheese if you like, and add it during the last five minutes of baking time.

chorizo stuffed zucchini

chorizo stuffed zucchini

chorizo stuffed zucchini

chorizo stuffed zucchini

We loved this! It was nice to get back to our California roots and enjoy chorizo, which is a delicious ingredient in lots of Mexican dishes.

chorizo stuffed zucchini

chorizo stuffed zucchini

chorizo stuffed zucchini

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

I’ve been on a mission to simplify our lives for a couple of years now. It dawned on me that not only did we not need all this stuff that we had, we didn’t want it, either. There is a lot of accumulation that can happen in over 20 years of marriage with three kids. Life had gotten too complicated. There were too many details I was responsible for, and it didn’t feel like I was going to be able to maintain things to my own standards. I don’t think I have to be perfect, but I like to think I at least have a shot at getting a few things pretty close. As it stood before, I didn’t see that possibility. It was more like I had a shot at scraping through life by the seat of my pants. I don’t like that feeling. So, I’ve been sorting through the things that take up space in our lives in an effort to downsize the the load.

My goal is to prepare for moving into a smaller space. With the first of our three kids moved out, our house already feels big. With the second of our three kids traveling a lot, our house feels even bigger. Knowing that we will likely be empty nesters in the next few years makes me want to systematically prepare. I think the shock to our systems will be huge when there are no longer kids in our house, and it would delay my emotional ability to sort through boxes and boxes of stuff from our five lives. My thinking is that if I start now, moving to a smaller place won’t be daunting, it will be exciting. When I say smaller space, I mean really small.

tiny house
If you don’t already follow me on Pinterest, you can see what I’m dreaming of here. Tiny houses and the lifestyle that comes with them are very interesting to me. No debt, very low living expenses, and fewer possessions to care for are just some of the things that are drawing me to this movement. All of those things would allow us to spend more of our time and money on fun things, like travel. I don’t know if we will be able to shrink down to official tiny house size because we have some biggish possessions that we are very sentimentally attached to and use every day. But, even if we could shrink down to an almost tiny house that had enough room for the piano and jukebox, I think we’d be doing ourselves a favor.

Our downsizing might happen in stages. I’m not sure. There could be a move into a smaller house for the time we still have kids living with us. Something about the idea of gradually shrinking appeals to me, just to be sure we are cut out for it. We can always cry uncle if things get too small. For the time being, I have been shrinking the amount of stuff we have. Here’s the list so far:

1. Photographs
This is a long process and takes many passes. It’s okay to do this in segments. I’m still working on this one, but have made lots of progress. Even so, it might be years before I get through it all. This would be easier if you started your family life with digital pictures. There is the physical sorting of printed photos, and the sorting and tagging of the digital photos. The goal is to get all photos in a digital format so I can access whatever I want whenever I want. For me, I’m sorting printed photos by year (and guessing the date if I have to) and throwing out doubles and bad photos. That way if I haven’t finished digitizing, I can find the photos I want by looking at the photos in that year. If I find something I want to scan immediately (which is inevitable) I scan it into iPhoto, change the date to the actual photo date, tag the people in the photo, and write a description if it needs one. Taking the time to do this at the moment I scan it is a good idea because I won’t want to re-figure out all the details the next time I see the photo. I can already search my iPhoto library with the word “lobster” and come up with a whole bunch of my birthday pictures. I can search by person and come up with all the photos I’ve tagged of one person. It’s very cool and makes me want to do a good job of entering the photos into my library, because my ability to search is only as good as the details I entered with each photo. Once I’m done with a scan, I add the printed photo to the box of scanned photos, and those are sorted by date as well. I’m not sure if I’ll keep the hard copies of everything forever, but for now I still have them. My husband votes to get rid of them. Currently, I play photos through our apple tv, so it’s very similar to a music playlist. One of my favorite albums is one I created by compiling all the photos that have all three kids tagged. It’s a nice combination of new and old photos. Even though this is taking forever, I am already happy with how nice it is to be able to search for something particular and actually find it.

2. Linen Closet
I only meant to organize this to make the closet look neater, but when I got in there I discovered that we still had sheets and comforters for a twin bed. We don’t own a twin bed! I found old towels that we don’t use. All the matching sheets are now tied together and labeled as to what size bed they fit. Seasonal quilts are neatly folded. A couple of huge garbage bags of linens were donated and our closet now sings when I open the door. Maybe that’s just in my head, but it’s wonderful. Sometimes I walk by and open it just to hear the singing.

3. Table Linens
Our dining table has sharpie marks all over it from one of the early signs of creativity in our kids and one of the first parenting lessons in not leaving sharpies accessible to toddlers. We hope to refinish the table someday soon, but until then, we always use a tablecloth. Who knew you could have too many tablecloths? It’s just like the other areas where we had too many things. Some of the tablecloths were out of style, stained, or just ones I didn’t use because I didn’t like them. Donating them made the cupboard much more roomy. Sorting them into two piles, one for the regular size table and one for the extended size table, has made it easy to find what I need. I even bought a new tablecloth and didn’t feel a bit guilty since I was getting rid of a whole bunch of them. It’s always a good idea when you’re in this shrinking process to make sure that more things are leaving your house than coming in to your house.

table linens

4. Clothing
This one happens a lot. I started with the “if I haven’t worn it in a year” plan. That got rid of a lot of things, but I have to admit that I kept some things I hadn’t worn in the past year. I am always fighting with the “what if I need this sometime” thought. Doing this in passes over a couple of years has helped a lot. Each time I go through my closet again I see a few things that made the cut last time, but that I still haven’t worn, so it’s easier to get rid of them. I’m noticing that I wear the same things all the time because they are my favorites. Not having to see my overstuffed closet full of things I don’t wear is great! I’ve been through my closet so many times now that it looks organized and neat, like I could add things if I wanted to. Every couple of weeks I notice another item or two that I don’t want or need and add it to the donation pile in the garage. So far I haven’t regretted donating anything, and I think allowing myself time to get used to the idea and mindfully paying attention to what I wear and don’t wear has been a good way for me do do this. So far I haven’t been able to get rid of a pile of t-shirts from races I ran. Some of them are reminders of time with friends. One of them is from the only half marathon I ran, and it reminds me of a big goal that I achieved. The thing is, I don’t ever wear the t-shirt because I don’t like it. I only like the memory. My goal this week is to get rid of the shirts I don’t wear. If I still sleep in them they can stay, but otherwise I have photos of the friends and races we ran together that can serve as sweet reminders. Why do I need a 12 year old t-shirt with a mock turtleneck?

5. Furniture
This one was easy. Our oldest son was moving out so we gave him a lot of our furniture. What’s funny is you can’t even tell that our house is missing anything. We’ve even sold a few pieces on Craigslist and donated a few others. I think we tend to fill the space we have, just because we have it. We clearly didn’t need all that furniture, because we haven’t replaced any of the items we gave away or sold. Our house feels more comfortable with less stuff in it.

6. Craft Supplies
I’ve completed round one on this one. A lifetime of making things leads to a lot of fabric scraps and miscellaneous partial bags of supplies. Since I love vintage things so much, even the stuff I started collecting as a newlywed now counts as vintage. That’s a scary thought! Moving on. For my first pass, if I didn’t have a specific project in mind, hadn’t used the supply in the past couple of years, and didn’t have a sentimental attachment to it, it was donated. That was a lot of stuff. I still have more than I need, so the next time I go through I will look at having a stock of basic supplies. I’ll try to narrow the fabric down to a variety of colors and materials. I will tell myself that I don’t need seven different green floral cottons (unless I happen to have a green quilt planned!). I know that if I come up with a specific project after I have cleaned out the supplies, I can buy what I need for that project. Chances are I will find a way to make something out of what I already have, because I like the challenge of making something for as little cost as possible. Surprising myself again, I’ve realized that I’m happier having fewer things to go through when I’m looking for project ideas.

7. Spices
This was one of the easier areas to attack. I pulled all the spices out of the cupboard. Anything that had expired got the boot. Even though I could have used them anyway, they barely had any smell left, so I was guessing that they didn’t have any flavor, either. I also booted a few things that I used once an didn’t like. It’s crazy how easy it is to accumulate spices. Some of them were over ten years old, some of them were doubles because I bought new ones when I didn’t realize there was already one in the cupboard. The cupboard looks organized now and I know exactly what I have on hand. That’s a win for me.

8. Kids’ Childhood Mementos
Wow. I had a lot of boxes of papers and toys and clothes from when our kids were little. Each moment seemed so new, so unique, and so special, that I thought surely we would want to save a piece of it forever. The years added up. The kids added up. And the boxes added up. When I started looking through these, I found so many sweet reminders of the things our kids have done and learned over the years. What I realized, though, was that this doing and learning never stops. I am always noticing new things they do. I get as giddy now to see them get a dream job as I did when I saw them take their first steps. It’s still new, it’s still unique, and it’s still special. I will always be amazed by who they are and what they do. Knowing this, I’ve decided I need to take a different approach to memory storage. Changing these things into photographs is a simpler way to store them. I have scanned and photographed many things, thrown out lots of things, and probably kept more than I should. The volume of boxes has been drastically reduced. I saved handmade things, especially the baptism outfits made by my mom from the scraps of my wedding dress and buttons from my husband’s tuxedo. For the things I saved, I photographed them, too, so if we ever lose everything in a fire or tornado, we’ll still have the photos.

9. Music CDs
This was a process that we did slowly. We stopped buying CDs years ago and now we buy only buy digital music. For all the music we had already purchased on CD, we ripped it into our iTunes library, allowing us to get rid of the CDs. For this family of five with diverse musical tastes, getting rid of all those CDs has created a lot of room.

10. Movies
It’s the same story for DVDs as for the CDs. We ripped the ones we owned into our computer so we can play them on our apple tv. It works beautifully and getting rid of the DVDs has reduced the cluttered look of our television area.

11. Books
This has been an ongoing process. We love the idea of being digital and not being burdened with physical things to haul around with us. We have donated a lot of books already. Picture books went to friends with young kids. Chapter books went to a new teacher starting her classroom library. Books that we read once and probably will not read again were donated. That cleared out a lot of books. We kept books the kids found sentimental, books we think we’ll read again, and some old family books. Our goal right now is not to grow our physical library. We are trying to buy digital books instead, or buy books that we intend to pass along after we read them. Borrowing books is another great way to keep the collection down.

random acts of kindness donate books

12. Boxes of Paper Records
We had several years worth of taxes and old records that hadn’t been shredded. We found a place that let us bring in our boxes of papers for shredding. That saved us a ton of time versus individually shredding each piece of paper on our home shredder. It was just a matter of getting around to finding the business and taking in the boxes. The cost was minimal, I think less than $10 for all the boxes.

13. Christmas Decorations
I like a simple Christmas. When I went through our boxes of decorations and ornaments, I discovered that I only put out or use half of them, so I donated the rest. That’s four big plastic tubs of stuff donated, and four left. Even that seems like more than we need, but I’m happy with the progress.

14. Old Electronics
We had an old television that was set up with our Wii. After several years of constant use, it hadn’t been used in about two years. Our kids weren’t using the Wii anymore, so this dusty thing was taking up storage space in an armoire. We sold the Wii and paid to get rid of the television. It was a bummer to pay to get rid of something like that, but well worth it. We did try to give it away with the Wii, but the smart garage sale shopper said no way. We also had three, yes three, old computers. One of them had died and we needed to see if we could retrieve the information from the hard drive before we got rid of it. We made it a priority to get that done, then got rid of it. Another computer was a relic, one of the first apples, and we never did anything with it, so we gave it to a friend who loved it as much as we did when we first got it. Another one was just too old to get updates for the graphic design software my husband uses, so instead of continuing to let it sit in our basement, we sold it. Overall we ended up with some extra money and lots of extra space. We think those decisions were well played.

15. Kitchen Cupboards
For this category, I looked through everything in our kitchen and pulled out things we don’t use. Just because we have room for 25 coffee mugs doesn’t mean we use (or need) all of them. I kept the ones we use and donated the rest. I got rid of appliances and gadgets we never use, an embarrassingly big collection of plastic cups, and expired canned goods. I’m sure I could do more here, but that was a pretty good start.

16. VHS Home Movies
Before we got rid of our tv with the VHS player, we used it to digitize our home movies. You see, when we started having kids, digital movies weren’t a thing. We made the conversion by playing the old movies through the old television, connecting it to the computer, and using a purchased piece of software to convert them to digital records stored on our computer. It was a time consuming process because it took place in real time. I had to play the whole movie at regular speed to capture the recording. Once I had saved the movies and made a backup, we got rid of the tv, the video camera and the VHS tapes.

17. Hair Accessories
My daughter and I had quite a collection of headbands. We donated tons of them. We cleaned out all kinds of clips and bows from her childhood, the kinds of things a college girl won’t wear, and donated them. It’s really nice to look through only the handful of things we actually use.

18. Bathroom Cupboards
This was was easy, too. The amount of makeup and hair products that filled our bathroom cupboards was embarrassing. If we hadn’t used it up, there was probably a reason. We pitched everything we wouldn’t use now, and organized things we realized we could still use. There were several partial containers of shampoo and conditioner. We just used the mismatched containers until they were gone. It ended up saving us money, even though our hair may have had too many scents going on at once.

The last two things are probably the most important ones on my list. Without these, the others wouldn’t have happened. I believe in the concept of healing from the inside out. Taking care of my own health gave me perspective and made me feel like attacking all those other areas.

19. Me
Early on in my process, I realized that I hadn’t been taking care of myself the way I should. I decided to make a grand effort to eat more whole foods and less processed foods. I focused on making dinners at home and preparing the most nutrient dense meals I could. I read a lot and researched to find what I believe to be the healthiest meats, produce, eggs and milk products, then I tried as often as I could to buy those. Not only is there a little less of me now, it has helped me feel better all over. What I wasn’t anticipating was the mental benefit. I feel more focused, calmer, stronger and more capable than I was before I did this. Every little bit helps. The bonus is that my family appears to have benefitted, too.

20. Volunteer Commitments
This is a sensitive area for me. I started volunteering when I was 14, as a candy striper in our local hospital. By the time my first son was one year old, I was on the board of directors of his morning out for mom’s preschool. Between helping in classrooms, PTA, sports teams and lots of things in between, there was always some kind of volunteer activity in my life. For the past several years I have volunteered for a group that didn’t directly have anything to do with my kids, one that I chose because it makes my community better. I gave a lot and I learned a lot, taking on bigger and bigger roles until I was giving so much of myself that it felt like I was spread too thin, not able to be good at the most important things in my life. So, in a year when my family had some big challenges and I wanted to be the best wife/mom/daughter/sister possible, I cut back on the volunteering. The decision was very hard. I felt like I was letting people down and giving up something that was a part of who I am. It was a good decision. Reducing that stress made room for me to cope with bigger things in my life and put more focus on my family. It was a lesson in trusting my own gut feelings. It needed to be done, even though it wasn’t easy. And, I am still a volunteer – giving time, money and praise to this group that does a lot of good in the world. I learned that being a leader doesn’t always mean you have to have the biggest job in an organization, it can be leading by example, and giving what you can when you can.

One of the best things about going through all this stuff is that I feel so much lighter. Each time I get through another category, it feels like a weight has been lifted. I wasn’t expecting this, but it makes me want to go through more things. Every time I open a closet or cupboard I see only things I love, and there is something about having fewer choices that is completely freeing. Even though I’m still choosing the same things I was choosing before, now I don’t see all the stuff I had to overlook to get to the stuff I really wanted. I hadn’t even realized that there was a burden in seeing the extra stuff. I thought since I had space, it didn’t matter if I kept the stuff I wasn’t using. I was wrong.

The more I shrink our stuff, the happier I feel all the time. Less really is more. More happiness. More freedom. More time to enjoy what’s in front of me right now.

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

Usually, my husband makes eggs for us for breakfast, and throws in whatever meat and vegetables are leftover from last night’s dinner. Sometimes there isn’t the required time/energy for that kind of breakfast making, and that’s when granola comes in handy. I’ve made several variations of this by changing the nuts, seeds and fruit. One of the versions I made turned out tropical because I used the ingredients I had on hand, which included macadamia nuts and dried pineapple.

tropical granola
Ingredients:

1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried pineapple bits

Directions: Combine oil, honey and syrup. Melt the oil if it’s not already warm enough to be liquid form. Combine the nuts, seeds, coconut and spices in a bowl. Coat with the sweet mixture. Spread out the granola on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes. Stir in the pineapple bits and let the mixture cool. Enjoy!

When I make this, I try to use raw nuts and seeds, but I have been known to use whatever I have in the house. One time I added in some chopped Caramel Pecans leftover from this recipe. That was a really good batch. In addition to making a quick breakfast every now and then, this grain-free granola makes a great snack for after school. To change this recipe, just substitute different nuts, seeds, or dried fruit in the same quantities. I’ve had lots of luck with this granola and it never lasts very long at our house. Even though it’s pretty sweet, I like knowing that my family is eating real food instead of more processed stuff.

tropical granola

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

 

I’m on a simplifying kick. Over the last year or two I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of stuff in my life. It seems that over the past 100 years we have created new technologies and new standards of living that allow us more opportunities in almost every area. While I’m all for opportunity, too many choices or too much stuff can make me feel overwhelmed. There’s something very freeing about trying to curate my possessions to the things that are very useful or very sentimental. If it’s not very useful or very sentimental, it’s out. This is not as easy as it sounds, but I love how it feels when I’m done with an area of my life.

The latest target of simplification: the spice cupboard.

simplify spices

To simplify spices I emptied out the whole spice cupboard onto the counter. There were things in there purchased from Costco in California over ten years ago. There were spices we used only once for a never-repeated recipe. There were jars of all shapes and sizes, some glass, some plastic, some metal. It was a huge mish-mash of disorganization. Here’s the list I used to simplify:

1. Check all the dates and throw out everything that has expired. I realize that spices can be expensive, but I also realize that if I hadn’t used up a container of spices in over ten years, I could probably do without that particular jar. I might as well season our food with something that still has flavor. So the old stuff was pitched.

2. Sort by jar size. I want the cupboard to look neat and organized, so uniform jars are my goal. Since I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to by a whole set of matching jars, I chose the jar that I like best, which is the tall glass jar. I already have several spices that come in that jar, so that’s my new goal for buying spices, to buy the ones that come in those jars until I have collected enough jars to store all my spices in them. There were a couple of expired spices that were being pitched that were in those jars, so I emptied them and moved spices from non-matching jars into the ones I like better. Once I have all matching jars, I will be able to buy more of my spices in bulk and save lots of money. I spent a whopping 26 cents on oregano for one of those jars the other day. I can’t believe I didn’t start doing this sooner.

3. Use a tiered shelf inside the cupboard to display the spices so they can be easily retrieved. I put the short containers in front, but eventually I hope all my containers will be the same.

4. Miscellaneous or specialty spices get their own space. Mine are on their own shelf.

5. For things that aren’t used often, and don’t display neatly, use a plastic bin. Mine has birthday candles and plastic bags of bulk spices that I will use to replenish the jars, including the paprika our daughter brought home from Spain last fall. I put the bin on the top shelf behind some more used items. If I need to refill something, it’s easy enough to pull out the plastic bin.

It’s hard to put into words how happy this project made me. Every time I open up the cupboard to get a spice, it’s right there in front of me, easy to see. The cupboard has about half the amount of jars it had before, and I have no more duplicates! I cringe to think that I was so disorganized that I bought more spices when really all I had to do was look harder to see that I already had them. When I told my mother-in-law about my latest clean-out project, she knowingly asked if I have been opening the cupboard for no reason other than to look at it’s organized beauty. I have. Several times. This is most certainly a case of less is more: less time looking for spices and more time thinking about other things, less clutter and more open space, less stress and more enjoyment in the kitchen, and hopefully less waste and more flavorful food (from fresher spices.)

spice cupboard

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

Earlier this week I realized I hadn’t written my Christmas thank yous, and hadn’t noticed anyone else writing theirs, either. So, I created a thank you note station. I set out everything our family members would need to complete the task of writing thank you notes: a variety of notecards, our return address stamp, pens, stamps and also a list of addresses for people who gave us gifts.

20140108-180509.jpg

The thank you note station has helped me in two ways: it simplified the note writing process by having everything in one place and it created an obvious reminder to everyone to get them done. A couple of times a day I’m seeing a new note added to the outgoing pile of mail. In a few days I might have to give Last Call to hurry up the process so I can clean up the table, but for now I’m happy with our progress.

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

I’m a huge fan of candied nuts, and these healthy caramel pecans are just the right thing to give nuts that sweet taste without using regular sugar. Have you ever heard of the Date Lady? She makes these fabulous syrups made of organic dates. She’s based in my hometown, so I’ve seen her products at my local farmers market and in the stores where I shop. Since I’ve been trying to eat a more paleo diet, I’ve found these syrups to be a really good addition to my cupboard. A few days ago I wanted to make some candied pecans to use for snacking and for salads, so I decided to try using the Date Lady Caramel Sauce. This is the fancy sauce, with a whopping three ingredients. (Her other one has only one ingredient.) Anyway, this was the easiest thing ever.

Date Lady Caramel Pecans

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients
2 cups raw local pecans
1/4 cup Date Lady Caramel Sauce

Directions: Drizzle caramel sauce over pecans, just enough so that when you mix them they are well coated with sauce. You might need less than 1/4 cup of sauce. Spread nuts on cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool and eat.

Date Lady Caramel Pecans

These are just what I was hoping for. They are sweet and crunchy. I don’t think they’ll last long.

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

When our daughter came home after spending a few months in Europe earlier this year, we greeted her at the airport with my favorite airport hello of all time. (I love airport hellos. I’ve written about them here and here.) Even though social media kept us in touch with her while she was gone, I missed her a lot. Here are a couple of little things we did to welcome her home. First, we tied a yellow ribbon around our tree. (It was really a fabric scrap leftover from the prom dress she refashioned here.)

yellow ribbon around tree

Then we made a welcome home playlist on the jukebox. We included all the songs we could find that related to home, our girl, and America. Yes, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree was one of the songs.

welcome home playlist of 45 records

jukebox

We listened to the playlist while having a family dinner with asparagus (her request), then went to Andy’s Frozen Custard for dessert. It’s been really fun to hear about her adventures abroad and see how her perspective on the world has changed. I think she’s already started planning her next adventure.

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

We still have a real tree at Christmas, and we have the perfect, hand crafted Christmas tree stand.

hand crafted Christmas tree stand

This was Brian’s solution back when we had toddlers tipping the Christmas tree over. It’s a canister stand with cross feet made of heavy metal bolted to a custom designed wood stand.

We started out with just with the metal stand. But it wasn’t quite sturdy enough. So it was bolted to a piece of plywood. For a few years the stand received more upgrades each year, including feet, molding, stain and paint. It’s been in the current stage of metamorphosis for many years now. I used to think it was funny how much time was spent upgrading the tree stand each year. But we love it. We don’t ever use a tree skirt because the stand is now a work of art. Even when it’s hanging in our garage, it’s beautiful. You can see in one of the photos that Brian even designed his tool rack in the garage to match the tree stand.

hand crafted Christmas tree stand

tree stand 1

tree stand 2

tree stand 3

If you have toddlers, this is a great idea for keeping them a little safer around the tree. We never did figure out how to keep our little ones from taking the bottom ornaments off the tree, but if you still have toddlers in your house, don’t worry; in just a few short years you will be able to decorate the entire tree again.

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

There have been several reminders in my life lately to live in the moment; don’t stress out so much about big things that you forget to appreciate the little things. I’ve been doing my best to leave space in my head to soak up every little moment of goodness I can from those I love. Our daughter recently came home from a few months in Spain, where she had an incredible experience. I missed her terribly, but I loved following along with her and hearing about the European adventures. So, when she wanted to paint her face today for Halloween and do a photo shoot, I was ready! Time with this creative girl was something I have been looking forward to for three months. My house is still messy and I only did a partial grocery trip, but this is one of those days I wouldn’t trade for anything. Here are a few pictures from our shoot this afternoon. Even though I watched her transform, it was creepy when she looked at me. {chills}

jack skellington face paint AnnaNimmity.com

jack skellington face paint AnnaNimmity.com

jack skellington face paint AnnaNimmity.com

jack skellington face paint AnnaNimmity.com

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

Tagged with:
 

Mason jars are the go-to container for our summer drinks. Now that it’s getting cooler, I wanted to keep drinking from mason jars, but hot drinks make it tricky to hold the jar. So, I decided to try making a mason jar cozy that would allow us to keep using our mason jars for coffee, hot chocolate, or spiced cider.

Mason Jar Cozy DIY

It works! Here’s what I did:

I made a template that was a rectangle, 3 x 10 3/4 inches. I cut out two pieces of fabric: one piece of cotton for the outside, and one piece of felt for the inside. I sewed the trim onto the bottom of the outside piece, then sewed a hair tie to the side of that piece. I placed the felt over the cotton piece and sewed the two pieces together, leaving a small opening so I could flip it right side out. Once it was flipped, I sewed a topstitch around the whole thing, and added a button. I tried it on a mason jar, but it slipped a little because mason jars are generally not skinnier on the bottom. My solution: glue a rubber band to the inside with E6000 glue. It made the cozy stick to the jar and it didn’t slip. Success!

mason jar cozy diy

mason jar cozy diy

For the maiden voyage of the mason jar cozy, I made this pumpkin spice latte. It was even paleo. Yum!

mason jar cozy diy

Sometimes I share my posts at these link parties.

 
Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.