Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Use it up Wednesday

This week's use-it-up energy is being applied to gift wrap and decor. I have made two solemn vows this year, one, no new gift wrap purchases, and two, no new decor purchase. I've only broken each one once, lol. :-)

I bought a single roll of "Santa" giftwrap which is different from the rest of the wraps and bags, for the sole remaining believer in the house. *sigh*

New candles for the Advent wreath. And yes, one broke on the way home. Oh well. Advent has quickly become a special family tradition.

I'm digging to the depths of the big container of wraps and ribbons, most saved from previous years, some scrounged from yard sales and thrift stores.

I may use some of the boys' large easel paper drawings and dress them up with ribbons.

We always have a supply of gift bags. It's become a family tradition to carefully fold up the gift bags for the next year. My MIL calls them "heirloom bags." We've also received several reusable gift bags made of felt, which are fantastic.

For decor I decided to only get out things I love...things I made or things my mother gave me or things like my vintage Shiny Brites.

I wanted everything to feel simple and clean this year.

Our door wreath; a first year of marriage purchase from Target. I drool over all the magazine ideas for new wreaths, and I even made one of those fancy ornament wreaths one year (which fell apart miserably despite gobs of hot glue.) But for things we use once a year, I'm just sticking with what we've got.

Our stockings. I remember doing the names on the first two, the "Mommy and Daddy" ones the year we found out we were having Zack. And when babies were coming I bought a new stocking to add as we went. I also remember my mom getting rid our our worn out stockings when I was a kid and replacing them with these knitted character things she got in a store. It was never the same! I've vowed not to ever EVER change out these stockings.

Soon we will put our tree up---fake tree due to my allergies---with all the home made and saved ornaments from over the years. I love that it is all coming together quickly and simply. If time permits, and if we have a few strands that still work, we'll put up a few lights outside. If not, we have the wreath and some greenery. I might make a Christmas bunting from fabric scraps, and I might not. I'm doing a cookie swap with my book club next week, so I should be set for holiday sweets. With the kids, we'll probably think of some little craft to make or draw something. I am just all around loving this vibe of not beating myself up if things aren't perfect, AND not spending needless money in the process.

Anyone using anything up this week? I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Use it up Wednesday and Thanksgiving Prep

Today's use-it-up energy was directed toward the annual eating of the random foods in the fridge to make room for the Thanksgiving food tomorrow. We all had something a little different for lunch---a pb&j wrap, an onion bagel and cream cheese, a couple of hot ham-and-cheese sandwiches, assorted fruit, and a big side of spinach for everyone.

My use it up theme extended into the decor. I scavenged every little pumpkin I've picked up from the thriftstores over the past two years to make my "pumpkinscape." I also found a way to incorporate my favorite vintage tablecloths which are too small for our tables, colorful candlesticks my sister-in-law made, and our everyday Fiestaware and cloth napkins, because we don't have the cash or the storage for fancy holidays-only plates. We had to bring out a card table and every available chair in the house, which really makes it feel like Thanksgiving!

Tonight we honor a nuclear family tradion: the eating out at our favorite Mexican joint, so as not to mess up the kitchen. Whatever your traditions, I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Use it up Wednesday

I've noticed on Wednesdays I am at my peak of creativity for the week. I'm over the hurdles of the Monday-reclamation of the house when everyone else goes back to work and school. And I'm not feeling the rush of trying to get ready for the myriad weekend activities. So I've taken to using my Wednesdays to dig to the bottom of the freezer, pantry, cupboard and closet in search of forgotten ingredients or supplies for food or craft making magic.

Ingredients: half an onion from the fridge, a bunch of slightly bruised apples, a butternut squash from a farmer friend that has sat on the counter for over a month, six eggs that are about to expire, limp broccoli, and the bottom of the Craisins bag.

Transformed into: a broccoli quiche and a mix of roasted squash, cranberries and apples, roasted with just a sprinkle of salt and a touch of honey. Yeah the crust was a bit overdone, but all in all it's pretty good.

Now if I can just get the kids to eat it...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cleaning up

Today I hunkered down to help Zack do his 3rd grade service project. The kids all had to think of their own project, and his idea was just to pick up litter along a local watershed by our house. It was probably the last nice day we'll see for a while and it was so nice to talk while we picked up litter. The main conclusion we reached is that buying less disposable stuff is far superior to trying to pick it all up later. We enjoyed the walk home through a grove of trees where I snapped a photo of the kind of fall "litter" I like to see on the ground. I was very very proud of him today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Use it up Wednesday

In a stroke of energy I ended up having a thrifty-goodness kind of day. First I decided to use up the leftover cooked oatmeal from breakfast on an experiment creation that turned out pretty good: oatmeal cranberry pistachio biscotti. I basically tinkered with a biscotti recipe until it looked right, and voila! Best part was I was ready to throw out the pistachios because they were a bit stale. It's really pretty good, and of course I have no recipe, as I was tinkering and eyeballing (and wishing and hoping) my way along. I would say the easiest way to incorporate oats into baking is to substitute no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour with oats. If you're adding cooked oats, you'll want to use less of the wet ingredients called for in the recipe of your choice.

Also I rescued some soup bones from the dregs of the deep freeze. They came with the hunk of grass fed cow we bought from a farmer friend last fall. They have simmered all day on the stove top, and now I will add some frozen veggies from the summer garden and other odds and ends from the freezer to make a simple soup for dinner.

This all goes together with a new goal we've set for ourselves: we will not buy any meat, other than for holiday entertaining if needed, until 2012. We are blessed with a full freezer, and anyway we don't need to be gorging ourselves with meat. Likewise we have a lot of grains, cereals and ingredients in the pantry, and I'm going to do my best to keep us well fed and out of restaurants! So as part of this, at least once a week or so it will be my mission to scrounge the freezer and the recesses of the pantry, flex my creative muscles, and come up with bits of culinary genius. Or, at least something edible.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I don't know why they call it Indian Summer

...but I like it. My first walk to school in over a week, feeling good though taking it slow. Took the kids in to vote with us. Remembered to take my camera. Thoroughly enjoyed the walk home. If anyone needs me I'll be sipping some tea or cider and enjoying some good reads on the front porch this day while the kiddos ride bikes. Cheers and happy voting!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Things are looking up

(My neighbor's crab-apple tree)

Home from the hospital and feeling better. I'll be home all weekend resting but hopefully back to the blogging desk mid week sometime. I've missed the beginning of NaNoWriMo and I don't know if that's going to happen for me this year or not. All in all, I'm just enjoying the sunshine as it streams into my house today, and a little quiet while the boys are out with their dad.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Funny that I said I'd be scarce this this week, and yet blogging more than ever. Ha ha, blogging is more fun than doing the laundry. Hope your All Hallow's Evening was a good one!