Thursday, December 17, 2015

Visiting a Tree Farm and Our Christmas Tree

We live in the heart of Christmas tree production here in Clackamas County, Oregon. Our county grows more trees than any other county in Oregon, and Oregon grows the most trees in the US. So you can imagine that we are literally surrounded by beautiful tree farms all around our small town. I love it, the air smells of Christmas trees all through the surrounding rural area throughout Christmas tree cutting season. You can see helicopters lifting loads of Christmas trees from the fields to the shipping locations starting in November.

Here is a helicopter hard at work that we spotted on the way to church in mid November.

The past few years we have been busy with school events and purchased our tree from local farmers that sell right here in town, but this year we decided that it had been quite some time since we had cut down our own, so we took a short drive outside of town and found the perfect tree farm. The drive there was beautiful, acres and acres of tree farms that all looked so beautiful all along the way.

The farmers at the tree farm we chose were very friendly, I spotted stacks of fire wood at the entrance to the farm, something about stacks of firewood always intrigue me, I had to stop for a few pictures.

All the trees were lovely, just about any tree would have been great, finally we settled on one, and when we lifted the branches to start cutting it down we spotted a toad stool next to the trunk, which I thought was fun and perhaps a gift from a Christmas elf. ;)

My daughter loves trees and was right at home among all of the trees, she had fun exploring and balancing on all the tree stumps. :)

My son Joe decided that he would do the bulk of the tree cutting this year and got right to work with a hand saw.

After a bit of work he finally got our tree cut down. The farmer was so kind and brought a truck out to the field to drive it down to be bundled for us, we got the tree shaken out and all wrapped up and made our way home.

This year we decided to put the tree in our living room, so we got it all set up and ready to decorate.

It took us a few days to finish decorating because everyone was busy with various end of school term finals and choir practice. But finally we got it all decorated and it turned out really pretty.

This year we chose to put up a lot of our red ornaments, as well as some of my new faux fur ornaments, and forest themed ornaments, and some of our special family ornaments. One of my favorites this year is the lumberjack below, as well as my big faux fur letter M, and all the little red mushrooms I found at Ikea this year. My daughter found the pretty whale ornament below that is very cute, and we have a bunch of different fox ornaments this year as well. I love having the Christmas tree in the living room this year, we have the lights on every evening, and it is nice to see while we are watching Christmas shows together. :)

I made a fun video of our trip out to the tree farm as well as a closer look at our decorated tree.

This weekend I will be spending my time doing lots of baking and wrapping gifts. This December has flown by and Christmas is right around the corner. I am really looking forward to seeing all of my family on Christmas weekend. I hope everyone is having a nice Christmas season!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas 2015 Home Tour

I love decorating for Christmas, it is something I look forward to every year. This year I decided to update a lot of my decor, and I was excited to plan out some new decor ideas, update some of my old favorites, and this year I even decided to decorate my bedroom. Here is a look at how I decorated for Christmas this year.

I have really been drawn to all things metallic this year, so I decided to do my entry and dining room in gold and mixed metallic colors. I love my little gold tree that I decorated with tiny metallic baubles and pinecones. I flanked the tree with two glittery deer and added some gold mercury glass votives. I decided to soften the room with a faux lamb skin from Ikea.

Here is the entry tree close up, I found a cute glittery cutout "Merry" ornament that made the perfect addition to the tree.

The garage and coat closet doors each got wreaths. I love the simple green felt wreath, I added a sparkly Noel ornament to tie it in with the metallic look of the room. I found a tiny gold wreath for the garage door, as well as a cute little sign for the door handle.

The entry opens up into the dining room, which is also done largely in metallic colors. I found these cute picture frames with gold antlers as well as a great marquee style glitter star and a deer bust. I added pictures of our fall picnic to the frames. On top of another bookcase is another marquee style lighted star, with a beautiful gold bottle brush tree and a wood cutout Peace decoration.

On my hutch bookcase I got out some of my favorite Christmas books and added some of my Santas, as well as a copper colored geometric shaped deer from Ikea, and a copper wolf from Target. I tucked in a few other favorite little decorations like my little pinecone elves around my books.

My dining room doubles as my library, so I have a lot of bookcases that I can decorate. On one set of bookcases I displayed one of my favorite finds this year, my gold deer head from Target, along with mercury glass hurricanes filled with led twinkle lights, a white and gold Santa, and a marquee Joy sign, with some pine garland to soften all the metallics.

I strung a metallic geometric garland across the window, and the last bookcase is decorated with a gold foiled deer, a glass lighted white and copper tree and two gold bottle brush trees. I added some mini pillows to my chairs as well as my plush polar bear.

On the table I have a cute sparkle themed wooden sign as well as my fox handled wooden tray with my gumdrop tree and some cute plates featuring animals dressed dapper style with gold accents, as well as a tall gold deer with a fur collar.

The side table is decorated with a burlap runner, gold deer, and other gold decor and floral picks, and features my two nativity scenes, my Celtic nativity and my olive wood nativity.

I love my Celtic nativity scene and look forward to having it out every Christmas, I love its simplified beauty.

On the way to the living room is our little hallway table, this year I decorated it with laser cut flat trees from The Container Store surrounding my little group of Santas, along with little red lantern ornaments.

The living room is decorated in woodland and lodge themed decor with red and green as well as wood and faux fur accents.

I found a new centerpiece for the mantle, a wonderful wood slice bear rimmed in rustic metal, I fell in love with this bear as soon as I saw it, both me and my hubby agreed it would be perfect. We kept with our tradition pine garland with red lights and red glass ornaments, and added some red candles in metal lined candle holders. To add height to the display I found these cute little wooden skis in Target's dollar spot, and they were perfect. I had originally purchase only one set of skis and they were on my TV stand as you can see above. Then I held it up to the wall and thought how nice it would look on the wall if I only had two. My Target's dollar spot gets picked over fast, so I wasn't very confident I would find any more of the skis since Black Friday had come and gone. However when I was out shopping with my mother, I popped over to Target and they had exactly two left, I was so happy to have found them.

I found some cute fur buckets to store extra blankets and pillows, I found a very comfy faux fur throw, as well as a plaid fur lined pillow. I want to have many cozy evenings enjoying Christmas movies along with hot cocoa, so I found a sturdy wooden tray that I thought would be perfect for serving hot cocoa and snacks. I love how cozy our living room turned out. I am currently in the process of decorating our tree which we cut down this past weekend, I will be doing a separate post of our tree when it is finished as well as some pretty pictures of the tree farm we visited.

I always like to add Christmas decor to the main bathroom. I wanted to do classic red decorations, I displayed one of my nutcrackers with some of my little silver deer, as well as a cute whimsical light up reindeer. I set out Christmas towels, and Christmas tissue in a cute metal basket. For the bathroom door, I found a cute red sled with vintage lettering.

This year I decided to decorate our bedroom, I have never really decorated our bedroom for Christmas, but now that the kids are young adults, and they often have company, I thought it would be nice to have a festive little retreat area for me and my hubby to enjoy some Christmas movies while the kids are busy with friends or finishing up college finals work. I love pastel Christmas decorations but they don't work very well with the rest of my house, so I thought it would be fun to do a pastel theme with a white tree for our bedroom. I found a faux fur white wreath for our door. I added a faux fur throw and some faux fur pillows to our bed along with my Snoopy. :)

On our TV cabinet I set up a pretty pastel Christmas scene. I used my old pink paperboard church, lots of pastel bottle brush trees, a pink mercury glass tree, and a wonderful collection of glass dessert themed pastel colored decorations that I found at Macy's this year and fell in love with.

I love doughnuts and two of the ornaments are beautiful glass doughnuts, as well as a gumball machine, a cupcake in a glass domed stand, a cute snowman ice cream cone and a 2015 candy and sweets themed ornament. I also added some inexpensive mini pastel baubles.

I found a pretty doll ornament wearing a cream colored winter outfit that I thought would be perfect for my display, I also added a glittery little deer and some of my old glittered mini wooden houses. I also found a pink metal candle holder from IKEA (I have the same one in red in my living room), and I knew the pink one would be perfect for my pastel Christmas display. I love how it turned out, and it makes me happy every time I see it from our bed.

So that is our Christmas home, I had so much fun updating my decor this year. I also made a video of our Christmas Home Tour for my Youtube channel which you can view below.

I hope you enjoyed checking out my Christmas home, I will leave you with a picture of my old friend and fur baby Xena, she is my 12 year old German Shepherd/Lab who is my constant companion, along with her "younger sister" my young lab Zoey who is far to busy to stop for a picture. Xena loves sitting by the fire every time it's on, and I'm glad I was able to snap a few pictures of her. Xena knows the drill every year and looks forward to Christmas decorating, she loves when the tree goes up and the fireplace is on. :)

Thanks for stopping by, I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Home and Two Turkey Left-Over Recipes

This year our family is celebrating Thanksgiving with my husband's family. I am looking forward to waking up on Thanksgiving and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade then heading out to visit family. Even though I am not hosting the Thanksgiving meal I still like to put out Thanksgiving decorations, so I thought I would share some of the decorations that I put up this year. I also thought I would share two Thanksgiving leftover recipes.

This year I added some fun new wooden signs to my Thanksgiving decor, I found the signs in the Target Dollar Spot for $3.00 each, which I think is a great deal. I paired the wooden signs with candle holders I already had, as well as a few animal figures and of course my Thanksgiving Snoopy.

I used a lot of the same decor as previous years, in addition to using all of the pumpkins that I painted with metallic paint for Halloween.

On my bookcases I tucked in my little Thanksgiving figurines that I have had for awhile now.

I also had fun decorating with some of the cute fox decor that I found at Walmart earlier this fall.

Since I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year I decided to cook a turkey last week so we could still have our favorite Thanksgiving foods as well as our leftover meals. I cooked the turkey from a frozen solid state following directions I found online. I have always wanted to experiment with that and it worked out great. I was very careful to remove the plastic giblet bag as soon as the turkey thawed enough to remove it. Of course the Turkey took a lot longer to cook, but we were in no hurry. I was glad to have tried out the method, it worked great and I did not have the fuss of thawing out my turkey. I made stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, brussel sprouts, and mushrooms, and we also had canned cranberry sauce, and rolls. Everything was yummy.

I love using all the turkey meat in leftover dinner recipes. This year I made one of my favorites- Creamy Turkey Noodle Casserole.

Here is my Creamy Turkey Noodle Casserole Recipe-

1 pound Rotini pasta, 2 cups chopped cooked turkey, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 soup can of milk, rounded half cup of grated cheddar jack cheese, half a bag of frozen green peas, salt, pepper, 15 Ritz crackers, 1 rounded Tablespoon Parmesan, 1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil.

Cook and drain one pound rotini pasta (or any of your favorite shaped pasta)
while the pasta is cooking chop up about two cups of leftover cooked turkey into small cubes. Return drained pasta to pan, add turkey, one can cream of mushroom soup, 1 soup can of milk, half a bag of frozen green peas, and a rounded half cup of cheddar jack shredded cheese (add a bit more if you like cheese), add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combined then transfer to a greased casserole dish. For the topping crush about 15 Ritz crackers in a small Ziploc bag, add a rounded tablespoon of grated Parmesan (just the sort in a jar), and about a tablespoon and a tablespoon and a half of olive oil, seal the Ziploc bag and shake until combined, then top the casserole with the crumble mixture. Bake the casserole at 350 F. until the casserole is heated through and the crumble topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

I like to serve casseroles with extra veggies and sometimes a muffin or apple bread side dish.

The next night I made a family favorite Thanksgiving leftover- Turkey and Stuffing Roll-Ups. I came up with this recipe a couple of years ago, and it is always yummy. Here is a link to my Turkey and Stuffing Roll-Up Recipe.

I have been thoroughly enjoying all of the fall weather we have been having, the cooler temperatures have finally arrived and along with it, it is seems we have quite a few more birds in our garden. Last week I was sitting at my computer and kept hearing the cutest little chirping going on in my front yard, so I thought I would take a peek. I was surprised to see all of my burberry bushes filled with the cutest little birds flying around so quickly you could hardly catch a glimpse. Upon closer inspection I realized they were bushtits. I got my camera and tried to get a couple of good pictures through the window, they were so fast it was tricky but I managed to get a couple. Bushtits are so tiny, the body is only about an inch long, the tail is about another inch as well. I just love these birds!

Apparently they were quite fond of my bushes, I couldn't tell if they were eating the berries on the shrubs or something else, but I'm glad they enjoyed them. I hope they come often. :)

Here is my Thanksgiving Home Tour, Recipe Idea, and November favorites video if you are interested in seeing clips of my home decor, as well as checking out some of my November favorites.

I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving and has safe travels,

Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Simply Sunday School - A Ruth and Naomi Harvest Bible Craft

We have been very busy around here with holiday preparations. I wanted to share a very fun harvest themed Bible craft that I did with my Sunday school class this month. I have so many Sunday School children's Bible crafts to share as part of my Simply Sunday School posts, and I am hoping to catch up a bit in December as well as into the new year. This craft is actually part of a larger series of lessons that I will be sharing when I have completed them all. I decided that instead of my usual Thanksgiving and Christmas lessons this year that I would teach the Fruits of the Spirit throughout the holiday season matching up the different Fruits of the Spirit with different aspects of the holiday season, as well as some good lessons for in between. Since it is Harvest time and Thanksgiving, I thought of the story of Ruth and Naomi, and I decided to use this story to teach the Fruit of the Spirit - Kindness. I came up with a fun craft for this lesson that I really wanted to share since it also makes a nice decoration for Thanksgiving.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 

I love the story of Ruth and Naomi which is found in the Old Testament in the book of Ruth. Ruth is Naomi's daughter in law, and after both of their husbands die, Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and go with her back to her family in Bethlehem, I felt this story was a nice example of Kindness. When Ruth and Naomi get to Bethlehem, Boaz, one of Naomi's family members also shows Ruth kindness by letting her glean in his fields and instructing his men to leave Ruth grain to glean. It is a very nice story, and the whole book of Ruth can be read in one sitting. I wanted to make a craft of Ruth holding grain. So I cut out a cone shape from orange construction paper, and using glue stick and tape turned it into a cone. I wrote the word kindness on the bottom. I also cut out two arm shapes, and used a circle punch to cut out a head shape. I had the kids tape on the arms and glue on the head using glue stick.

I found dried wheat at the craft store and cut the stem so it would be the right size, and taped two pieces in the arms, then taped the arms together. I love the way they turned out and I think they look nice as a harvest table decoration.

Our Bible verse was a simple shortened one. Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32 After reading the story of Ruth we talked about kindness, and I had the children give examples of acts of kindness.

For snack, keeping with the grain and harvest theme, I made my harvest snack mix with the kids, I told them how cereal is made of grain, and we added Corn Chex, Vanilla Chex, and Cinnamon Chex to a bowl, as well as candy corn, Bugles to represent a cornucopia, and raisins. I let the kids all take a turn stirring the mixture with a couple of big wooden spoons, which they really enjoyed. Then they each scooped a cup for snack time, then after snack they all made a bag of the mix to bring home and share.

I also brought in a bunch of extra dried wheat to show them a bit about what gleaning would be like, and how the wheat has little wheat berries inside and how they would have been harvested and turned into bread. I passed around the wheat and let each child pick out a wheat berry to look at. They where all fascinated with with that as well, which I thought was fun.

I think this made a fun Harvest themed Thanksgiving lesson, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the whole lesson. 

I will hopefully be sharing the rest of my Fruit of the Spirit lessons at the end of the year.

Thanks for stopping by! :)

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall 2015 Family Picnic at the River

Every fall I love getting outdoors and exploring all the beautiful fall scenery. I especially love going down by the river and seeing all of the trees changing color and dropping their leaves. The colors reflect in the river so beautifully. When we had a dry fall day we decided to pack a simple picnic and head down to the river to explore.

I love red plaid, and my classic red plaid thermos and lunch box, so I packed a simple classic picnic in all of our red plaid gear, along with a red plaid blanket. On the way we picked up a regular baguette, and a sour dough baguette, and we were all in the mood for coffees.

Along with our bread and coffee, I brought a wedge of Gouda, some slices of Havarti, Genoa Salami, and roast beef. I love simple meats and cheese with fresh baguette.

For dessert I brought grapes and two delicious Honey Crisp Apples to dip in Smucker's Salted Caramel. The Smucker's Caramel was wonderful and definitely a new favorite.

I also brought a thermos of hot apple cider, we all love hot apple cider, it is a family favorite. Me and Sarah also decided to wear our plaid sneakers which was fun. :)

Sarah and Joe were good sports as I tried to get some fun pictures of them throwing leaves. I think the pictures turned out cute.

I was finally able to break out a fall sweater, up until then it had been too warm for fall sweaters. I also wore my favorite stag necklace I found last year. Of course I wouldn't want to go out to the woods without my trusty Swiss Army Knife, I bought this knife for my self in high school and it has held up beautifully over the years.

My kids love exploring and climbing trees, they have since they were little. I love all the pictures I got for our scrapbook.

Gary and Joe had a fun time skipping rocks down by the river.

I took the opportunity to get as many pictures of Sarah and Joe as I could.

I got a bunch of really great pictures of us all, I think outdoor photos are always my favorite.

The water level of the river was the lowest that we had ever seen it. In this old post from 2012 you can see how high the river was on the water level ruler. It was so low on the day we went we could walk all the way around the cement bridge support, and it looked like with a pair of wading boots you could easily walk right across the river in quite a few places. It was fun to explore parts of the river bed that we don't normally get to see. A few days later our fall rain arrived and there were flood warnings for some of the houses by this park. Crazy how a few days of heavy rain can make that much difference!

The kids and Gary had fun playing hide and seek, they are all so good at hiding that it always ends up making me a bit nervous, one of these days I will have to find a clever hiding spot! :)

I love all of the interesting trees at this park, there are so many different growth shapes and root shapes, it always fascinates me, and all the interesting trees are perfect for more photos! :)

The kids took some pictures of Gary and me as well.

I love this brother and sister picture of Sarah and Joe down one the river bank.

The water was so beautiful, I loved the autumn leaves reflecting on the water.

Overall a wonderful day, and a perfect family picnic!

Since I have been having fun lately playing around with video I also made a short video of our outing. 

I hope everyone is enjoying the fall! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

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