Valentines 2016

The thing about having kids –  chances are good they’ll eventually multiply.  With one married and the other two engaged, making Valentines is becoming quite the production with seven valentines to make now.   I used to leave them out at night for the kids to open Valentine’s Day morning, but these days they go through the mail.  I was in such a hurry to send them, I only got a couple pictures.  This year I water-colored animals and thought of punny mush to go with each one. Once they were painted I mounted some fun papers onto card stock and uses pop-dots to attach the artwork. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Dare I say it? Christmas.

Christmas music has been playing in our local stores since November first. Yesterday the decorations were already up at the grocery store strip mall. That’s a little too soon, even for this elf.

I LOVE Christmas and everything that goes with it. I love shopping and wrapping and secrets and sparkly things and Christmas plays and lights… I really should have been an elf.  I was 10 years old when my (very mean) best friend insisted Santa wasn’t real. I still don’t believe her.

That’s me on the right, listening intently to what my future boss had to say.

Barb&Deb2
Every Christmas Eve we’d pile into the car to go pick our Christmas tree. We’d drink hot chocolate while Daddy brought the tree into the house and set it in its stand. We’d make a big production of giving it lots of water, hang our stockings from the mantel and go to bed. I couldn’t sleep wondering if every noise I heard might be Santa on the roof. It’s a wonder I survived the anticipation at all.

Our first house in New Jersey was a wee little two-bedroom rancher. You could see the entire living room from our bedroom door. On Christmas morning my sister and I would fling open that door and freeze in absolute wonder. The bare tree we left in the stand was now fully decorated and lit, the only glow in the room, surrounded by presents. Pure magic!

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Our magical tree, 1968.

I was eight when we moved across town. Our new house had two stories and the impact of seeing that sight as we flew down the stairs on Christmas morning was a new brand of magic that didn’t disappoint.

Christmas-1972

Christmas 1972: I’m the elf on the left. 

Two years later we moved to Florida, and the tradition changed in a lot of ways, but Mom’s knack for the magical smoothed it over.

Then I grew up and learned a few things. Like Christmas trees are free on Christmas Eve. And Mom and Dad had to wait until we were sleeping to begin decorating the tree, so they got maybe 30 minutes of sleep Christmas Eve. And it looks like a lot more presents when the room is only 8 feet wide. And the tree looks much bigger when you put it on the coffee table and you’re only four feet tall.
Knowing the secrets behind the magic makes it even stronger, because it was made with love.

The best part of being a grown-up is that I get to make the magic now. After all, I did inherit Mom’s elf gene.

Valentines 2014

It’s that time of year again, and this year I decided to keep it simple. Each year I feel the pressure to out-do previous valentines. Then I think about the simple little card we exchanged as kids. It’s about the love, not the fancy. As minimalist as this year’s creations are, they are some of my favorites.

 

 

Snowy Day

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This is my view today as I work.  All that snow makes it BRIGHT in here! I had to pull the shades down 3/4 of the way to keep from needing my sunglasses.   We don’t get much snow here in coastal Virginia, so when we do things pretty much close down – everyone’s working from home today.

There are squirrel tracks outside the back door. From the look of the muddy prints on the door, I’d say they wanted in. No wonder –  it’s 12 degrees out there with a wind chill in the negatives. Brrr! I made sure my feathered friends have fresh water, and they’re thanking me by singing outside my window.

Valentines 2013

When making last year’s Valentines I kept the theme “Love Letters” and had a nice surprise at the end. This year I had five Valentines to make instead of four, so it was time to come up with something new. I didn’t need to look far. As my friends and I gathered to make this year’s snippets of love, one of the gals showed up with cupcakes made by our friend, Alice, whose cakes are famous and not only works of art, they taste like Heaven in your mouth.

With that inspiration, I baked up my own creations for the loves of my life in their favorite flavors: Cookies N’ Cream, Red Velvet, Lemon, Chocolate and Funfetti.

Designing and making my own Valentines is a tradition I started when the kids were little and just can’t seem to give up. As our family grows, I might need to start thinking about Valentines Day in July!

Valentines 2012

Last year the theme was Love Letters, and this year I decided to expand on that theme. Introducing, Love Letters 2.

I made a list of sentiments, trying to come up with four fun puns. After they were all finished, I lined the kids’ Valentines in a row to take a picture and noticed a happy accident….

I hope your Valentines Day is full of fun surprises!

Valentines 2011

Every year I make home-made valentines for my family. When the kids were smaller, they each had something to do with their lives that year as a memento of who they are.

This year I tried a joint theme that linked all four valentines. I was wracking my brain for ideas, when a simple thought struck: Love. Letters.

I used a paper pack  I already had, making it really easy to keep continuity. Add chalks, white acrylic, and pop dots.  I prefer a small paint brush to apply the chalk… I have better control that way, and it blends real well with the fine bristles.
I also make the envelopes to match. Craziness, I know.

Cottage Living


The first of the year I moved into a cottage.  A real cottage – 348 square feet and consists of a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom.

Not only was the price right, but it has lots of “extras”.  It’s tucked into the woods and covered by huge trees.  The birds love my feeders. The deer come out to say hello each night.  It’s under the the airport so there is no light pollution and I can see every star. (No airport noise – the big jets use the other side.) From my front door I can watch the horses next door. I have lots of windows and lots of light. The country road to get here is a treat for the eyes.  And I’m right around the corner from just about everything.
Living in such a small space has its challenges.  The kids laugh when I have to move something to get to something else, but that’s what makes it fun.
The microwave is on my kitchen table.
My rotary mat is under the loveseat – which is the largest couch that would fit and opens to a twin bed for guests.
The toilet stops the bathroom door.
I have one closet – it’s in the kitchen.
It’s home.