The In-between Days

Hello, sweet home making friends!

There is a time between December 25th and January 1st,
that seems to my days of reflection and refocusing.
You, too?

I can't help but think about all I've done this past year, 2012,
and whether it was good or bad, temporal-minded or eternal-minded,
meaningful or meaningless.
Probably all of the above.

And in the process, I decide, every year, that no matter the course I've laid out,
no matter the resolutions I have made,
my life is full of surprises,
interruptions and intention,
blessings and backfires,
wins and losses,
open and closed doors and windows,
and no matter where I thought I'd go each January 1st,
when I get to these in-between days at the end of the year 
and look back over this past year's days,
the path barely resembles the one I'd mapped.

This post is meant to be a reflection for me of surprises and intentions
that blessed my 2012.
It's also an extremely loose plan of the goals and plans
I am reflecting on for 2013.

I hope you don't mind my musings.

This past year

 I was willing,

shared 10 ways in which you can make money at home if you are a homemaker
(no get-rich-quick scheming here, just practical and doable ideas),

then we made something we've never made before:
a vanilla crepe cake, and my daughter, Miss S, shared the recipe,

reflected on being a host mom to Khomchan, from Thailand, 
Hyojin, from South Korea, and Jeep, from China,
and how it was worth every moment,

I found some ideas for uses for old armoires,

survived the writing of the series: 31 Days to a Staged Home (!!!),

turned a TV armoire into an office for my High School Senior girl,

and last but not least, 
I shared my Organized Kitchen :: The Baking Zone

This past year also included the shingles (for me) and the passing of my Gram 
who I talked about HERE and HERE.

This next year on my agenda is:

getting a blog/website a makeover from Kristin of Simply Klassic Design,

room by room, working my way down and around and out of the house
through the front door, staging our home to sell it by autumn.
Our Master Bedroom closet is already done
(the Master Bath is next- whoowee did this room need some help!),

our second daughter, Miss A, graduates from High School this May,

and as a graduation present,
we'd like to travel to Seoul, South Korea and Bangkok, Thailand to visit these two:

when we return, we will finish the details of selling this house
and we'd love to find a Craftsman bungalow in the historical district
here in Greenville, SC.
We've been house hunting and I've made a dream board on Pinterest,
speaking of Pinterest...

did you know that I am part of a group of organizing ladies
that strive to bring you our best home organizing ideas
to make your home making better?
My friends,
Becky from Organizing Made Fun
Anna from Ask Anna
Becky from Clean Mama

have made this ORGANIZING BOARD for YOU!
Check it out!
These gals are seriously amazingly fantastically organized!

In October, guess what's happening here in our
gorgeous downtown of Greenville, South Carolina!??
(I am stinkin' excited!)

Some of you may know Allume as the Relevant Conference,
formerly held in Harrisburg, PA.
What is Allume? It's a Christian women's blogger conference.

From their About page:
Our goal at Allume is to minister to the woman, the blogger, the story teller. 
We want to love well, encourage, and spur women on to shine the Light that lives within them. 
We want to serve you in ways that cultivate the Light in you, help you expand your influence, 
use your influence well (in your home, your community, or around the world) 
and encourage you with stories of those who are living out the Light.

I've been to the conference. It is not to be missed.

If any of you are coming, email me and I'd like to extend 
hospitality to you through anything you may need with here in Greenville
(we've lived here almost 20 years, so it's home).

I think I'll have plenty to keep me busy.
But I'll remember:

Happy New Year!
I am so thankful for you.
Words cannot express the joy I feel as we all share this
homemaking journey together!
May we bring peace and joy to our homes as we work in it every day!

What are some of your plans this year?


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Mary, did you know that Bethlehem didn't have a Hobby Lobby?

I am positive that mine isn't the only blog you read.

That being said, I am also positive that you, like I,
have seen a 100 Holiday vignettes, 1,000 Christmas mantels, 10,000 Sugar cookies, 
trees, lights, glass bulbs and garland all over blogland.

I am overwhelmed and inspired by all of of it.
AND all of you- 
the creative and sentimental
keepers of your abode, 
lovers of your brood, 
decorators of your homes.
Y'all are a combination of dozens of my favorite magazines!

Christmas has always been my favorite season to decorate.
I love helping Mark get the boxes down and out of the loft in the garage.
I enjoy seeing the new pretties I got the day after Christmas that I forgot I about.
I am fond of seeing all the ornaments once again, the new ones and the heirlooms.

But once it's all out of its hibernation state, I lose perspective.
Even I, a designer by trade, am baffled by the sheer supply
of frou frous that enamored me enough to put them in my cart.

WHY do I need all this stuff?
WHAT good does it do me spending 335 days out of its existence packed up
and stored where the sun don't shine?
WHERE do I "vignette" it all?
WHEN did it seem like a good idea to own every vintage flocked bird 
that the retired lady was selling at her Spring Estate Sale?
WHO am I trying to impress?

This year, I am asking myself these questions as I unwrap each morsel of adornment.

It's not that I don't enjoy these things,
but somewhere along the way, their lure has lost its luster.

It has been replaced by the conclusion that meaning doesn't come from a shiny, reflective ball,
flocked snow, painted twigs and adorable stockings.
Or that the season's purpose needs more embellishment by me.

2,000 years ago, our dying race was given the most beautiful present ever imaginable.
Was it wrapped in polka-dotted ribbon?
With a glittery tag?
Was this gift placed under a dazzling tree?

This gift lay in a mucky, lightless, unbeautified and unembellished barn.

Mary did not visit Hobby Lobby or Michael's for ribbon, wreaths or bulbs.
Joseph wasn't up on the roof attaching light strands with thatch clips.
I am pretty sure that there wasn't any eggnog or wassail to imbibe.

But what we ARE told is that this night, the light of the world came to us.
This night, the neighborhood was visited by it's first ever Heavenly carolers.
This night, heaven came to earth and emancipated it.

I can still deck our halls and hang the mistletoe.

But, as I sing along with each hymn,
display each shining item that I have found on sale or in a box on someone's driveway,
as I liberate the crafts designed years ago by my toddler's fingers
arrange and rearrange the lights on the bushes,
I will remember that the reason I treasure this season so much 
is that my Jesus is
the true light of the world, the creative embellisher, the original beautifier
and liberator of treasures, emancipator of souls.

He is the gift to my heart.
And Hobby Lobby has nothing on sale that compares to that.
And I'll bet Mary would have said the same thing.


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Gingerbread House Workshop (how to host one & survive}

I did something insane. And fun.
Insanely fun.
I hosted a Gingerbread House Workshop in our basement.
It is also called Cafe' de Sous Sol (basement coffee house).

Here's the room set-up, ready, and waiting for the ladies.

Each house was adhered to a 10" X 14" Wilton cake board
and accompanying it was a 16" disposable Wilton piping bag
filled with royal icing (recipe below). 
I also gave each spot some 4 oz. cups to hold the decorating yummies.
Each person got an apron to wear and a name tag sticker
which was resting on a mini candy cane easel.

The decoration stations.

I made some pedestal dishes by using royal icing as "glue"
and attaching plates to the rims of my red thumbprint goblets.

I dumped the flours out of my jars in my upstairs kitchen into baggies for the day,
and used the jars to hold cereal (graham squares and frosted wheat).
Tall, clear pedestal glasses held treats like shredded coconut, M&Ms, 
mints, gumballs, and licorice.

Tiny house pieces and wreath shapes.

Brunch items included:
scones, cupcakes, sandwich pinwheels, mini quiches, 
pull-apart cinnamon bread, yogurt parfaits, and cream puffs.

At the caffeination station the beverages were:
regular and decaf coffee, orange juice, water, eggnog (w/nutmeg and whipping cream), 
an assortment of teas, cocoas, hot apple cider, wassail, and sparkling white grape juice.


Happy Savanna.

Bamboo clothes pin worked perfectly to hold the icing bags closed.


The making of a chimney.

My daughter, Miss A, on the left, and Hyojin, our S. Korean
exchange student/sister/daughter on the right.

No way, mom! 
You aren't taking my picture!
(Too late.)

Hyojin's puppy in the doghouse!

My mom brought a diagram of what she wanted hers to look like.
(See it top left?)


Some of the ladies with their creations.
You girls make me smile!

What a wonderful day with all of you!


1. Be crazy and love people.
Because this is tiring, but so worth it!

2. Have a space to host in.
Decide how many spaces (people/houses) you want to make room for.
I made space for 10. It was just right for our accommodations.

3. Make invitation/date & time/set fee.
Below is the invite I used/the earlier in the season the better
(this was a four hour session)/I charged $15 
and it was just enough to cover all the expenses including brunch.
I simply made an event on FaceBook for the party and invited folks that way.
(Add text to the image below w/Picasa or other image editing software, 
or use as is, and upload the invite .jpg to your FaceBook event.) 

4. Recipe/templates.

Here's the template we used.
Using these measurements, I traced next to a ruler on cardboard then cut the pieces out.
Cardboard worked perfectly because it didn't rip or stick to the raw dough.
We also cut a 1 1/2" wide X 2 1/2" high door from the middle of one of the sides.
(A base piece wasn't used because the house was stuck directly to the cake board.
The chimney wasn't used on our houses, either.)

5. Shop for gingerbread ingredients, candy, and food.
In addition to Walmart (which had the least expensive candies), 
I also found candy in places like Kohl's and Five and Dime stores.
Ready-to-bake (or thaw) brunch items were quick and easy to prepare.

6. Call in re-inforcements. Sous Chefs.
My 2 moms helped me mix, roll, and bake for three days!
(Thank you SO much, you two! I loved doing this with you!)

Me assembling houses.
The yellow pieces of paper kept track of the pieces already made/needed per house.

7. Bake for 3 days.
'Nuff said.

8. Set up.
I set up a few days before the party because the houses needed to dry.
This also gave me time to arrange the tables, clean, make sure 
everything was in its spot and ready for guests.

10. Have FUN!
I loved seeing all the creative ways to use gumballs and Necco wafers!
I also loved being with my friends laughing and making memories!
Get out the camera!

11. Clean up.
Use plastic table cloths from the Dollar Tree to wrap up all
the leftovers into them and toss them.
Enlist some helpers to get the leftover decorating things into plastic baggies,
sweep/mom, wash dishes, and generally help tidy the area.

12. Rest for a few days.
(I may or may not have gotten a massage and pedicure afterward.) 

on Pinterest for more ideas and help!

Here are some other pictures of the cafe' decorated for Christmastime.

This is my house:


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