Thursday, December 27, 2007

Winter House

Bright and early tomorrow morning we will be heading up north skiing with the family. It is my intention to actually ski but we will see how that goes. Today we did the Costco run for groceries. We will make Rigatoni with meatballs one night, roast turkey another and a beef brisket another. All this will be fixed using the stove top and a roaster since the oven on the stove in our 45 year old Chalet is shot, should be interesting.

We have loved the Chalet that my Dad and his three brothers built in the early 1960's, but it is in desperate need of an update. Dana has the design all figured out on her computer and we will meet with a builder while we are up there to see if her design will work structurally and to get a cost estimate. We are using Charlotte Moss's Winter House as inspiration. It seems like I read somewhere that she sold her house in Aspen but don't know if that is a fact, but I would hate to have let it go if I was her.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Few Of Us At Christmas

Hope everyone is well and had a merry Christmas. We are back home now and the dishwasher and washing machine are running at full tilt. John went into work and Aaron is asleep on the couch. Why is it that I can't get my boys to go upstairs and get into bed? They love to fall asleep on the couch when they come down here, go figure.

Today CMU is playing Purdue in the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. Later this afternoon John, Aaron and I will head down there to cheer for the Chippewa's of CMU.
Mom and Dad are bringing my nephew and some of his friends down so we will meet up with them and other friends from MP to tail-gate before the big game.

This not putting up any Christmas decorations is working out to be a pretty good deal. When we got home last night the boys unloaded the car for me and I got everything sorted out and put away. John and I opened our presents and we had time after that to watch a movie and pop some popcorn. Today while John catches up at work a bit Aaron and I will get to do a little shopping with our Christmas money and have a nice lunch at Partridge Creek either at PF Chang's or Brio before heading down to the game. It is really nice not having to worry about taking down decorations and just being able to concentrate on enjoying family and friends!

Merry Christmas everyone, from a few of us!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas Eve!

Aaron picked this image to wish you all a happy Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Presents Are Wrapped

Yesterday I finished wrapping the presents that we had at the house. Now I would like to crawl back into my cozy bed and relax the rest of the day but no such luck, there is always more to be done, isn't there?
When I took these pictures the dreaded, 'no more room on memory stick', message appeared on my camera. It is probably a blessing because it would have broken my heart to have run out of memory during all the Christmas festivities. So, instead of fretting I'm giving the glory to God for gently reminding me to add getting a new memory stick to my To Do list: finish stocking stuffer's for five boys; one more fun thing for SDIL ;); one more guy thing for TSIL ;); pick up dry cleaning; wash and gas up the car; memory stick from Target, where I hope I can get most of the other things done too; pace around hoping that my LL Bean order, that has several gifts for above mentioned five boys, arrives before we have to leave to go up north to be with family tomorrow at noon; try and save enough time to get a mani & pedi; pick out and lay out clothes for four days of festivities for John and I. John has his company Christmas luncheon today and will go out with the guys after that so I will have a long day to fit everything in, hopefully even the mani & pedi.
Thank you Lord for giving me such a fun To Do list for today and please bless those who's to do list is not so fun. We have all had more of those lists than we like to think about so I'm thanking God for this fun one with all the gratitude I can muster!!!!! All glory and honor is yours dear heavenly Father.
Have a blessed day ladies!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gift Wrapping Day

Image from Carolyne Roehm's lovely website

Today is gift wrapping day here. The lovely Ms. Roehm was kind enough to post this beautiful collection of wrapped gifts on her website in my colors with even the Greenbrier ~G~ in hot pink included to motivate me to actually get started wrapping gifts. Well she didn't post it just for me but it is there never the less, and a lovely place to find inspiration if any of you need to refill your creative tanks for the last push to Christmas. ~xoxo ~

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Praise God!

Four months ago almost to the day my beautiful, only sister laid in a hospital bed expecting to die. The picture above was taken two weeks later at Kyle & Carrie's wedding. This morning she called to let me know that since our conversation near around the end of November when my niece's boyfriend passed away after a long battle with cancer and she called me for comfort, which is rare, but the only comfort I could offer was from Gods word and an invitation to pray the sinners prayer with me and she did. This mornings call was to let me know how much her life has changed and to thank me.
Praise God!

Edit: I just found this in my unpublished posts as I was deleting old unfinished posts and thought I would share it now.
All glory and honor is yours our heavenly Father!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mrs. Claus Apple Doll

The kitchen table set with faded snowman placemats and napkins.
Most of the great room bunnies replaced with Santa's.
My favorite Santa is Mrs. Claus the apple doll that has been in our family since the kids were little. That apple head must really be well preserved to have held up all these years.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cotton Colors Pottery

Before we had the wall paper up in the kitchen the walls were beige, my least favorite color, so these Cotton Colors Pottery plates lent a pop of color to the bland space under the kitchen cupboards.
Hope every one had a good weekend and is surviving the count down to Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Little Pink Dining Room Tree

It appears that some little ones where rearranging my decor last year by adding the little pink doll at the base of this tree and removing some of the pink ribbons from it at about a 2 year olds reach range. Ah, those are the things that make the best memories.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dining Room at Christmas

This Santa cookie jar didn't fit on the counter top in the kitchen so he got plunked on a pink and white ruffled cake stand among the white amarylis on the dining room table and spent the season there very comfortably. I wish I could say that we use our dining room a lot but we don't. When we were looking for a house though it had to have a dining room to put my dining room table and chairs in.

The table was bought at the semi-annual sale that Klingman's of Grand Rapids had in a warehouse. My mom and I got up very early on a cold fall morning in 1991 and headed west about one hundred miles in search of a Baker dining room table at deep discount to go with the six Chippendale chairs that I had purchased with a large commission check that I had gotten for putting together a real estate deal. The chairs were the first really good pieces of furniture that I bought. Although I still cherish them their cost left little extra for a table to go with them, so off to the Baker Sale (that's what we called Klingman's sale because we all were looking for the Baker pieces for way less than half off the original price) we went and there was my table waiting for me and at a price that made it possible to take home that day. Though not in pristine condition, the double pedestal based Sheraton style table was exactly what I wanted.

Baker furniture stays true to the proportions of the original cabinet makers and for that, I guess they charge more, but if you look around you can get pieces more reasonably priced at small town antique malls, yard sales or even on Craig's List. I am a stickler for proportion and much of the new reproduction pieces are so out of proportion that they seem almost grotesque. The old classical revival pieces from the 30's, 40's & 50's are more affordable than most new well proportioned pieces and can still be found with a bit of treasure hunting.

The roads coming home from up north today were wet and slippery but I went slow and made it home safely. Had a nice time up their with family and friends but it is always nice to be home again. Look for party pictures on Sheryl's blog if you are interested. My camera is still touchy and the pictures that I took didn't come out that well. After reading Keri's post at Just Living Large's about Christmas cards I had to get busy and get some cards in the mail to avoid being a 'no card sender'. Dana was kind enough to help me make at least a few to send out with a picture of John & I with my grand's from last year. Keri's post made me think about how much exchanging cards means to people and myself. I always enjoyed sending them and receiving them but in the last few years just kind of gave it up until I read her post and it all rang painfully and joyfully true.

Monday, December 10, 2007

~ Jolly Holly Elf ~

The lighted garland on the stairs was woven with velvet wired ribbon that I like to use because it is much easier to fashion into big fluffy bows. This is the stairway off the kitchen that I decorate more than the one at the front door in the foyer because most of our visitors are back door company. This is the door that John and I go in and out of, so voila, it got the Jolly Holly Elf treatment to great all who entered.

Today I'm heading up north for a few days. Dana has pictures that she says will work for my Christmas cards so we will be working on those tomorrow at her house which she has all decorated so I will get to be immersed in Christmas decor there. Then Wednesday is our Girlfriends party at Sheryl's where there will be lots of friends, food and fun as well as all of her gorgeous lady like decorations to delight us all. Last year we did a progressive dinner that was fun getting to see everyones house decorated for Christmas and their tables set for the course they were presenting, but this year we decided to just stay in one place and Sheryl kindly offered Friendship Cottage for the event. We are quite a chatty bunch and with the progressive format it was hard to keep up with the conversation. Any way, how ever we get together it is always fun and doesn't really matter how or where we do it but we are all pretty blessed to have so many lovely choices to choose from.

Wednesday or Thursday I will get to get my decorating out of my system by helping Aaron get his house dress for Christmas. He promised to have the tree up with lights on it for me so I just get to tackle the fun part.

It is strange not decorating this year. For most of my adult life I have decorated more trees, hung more garland & strung more lights than I can even remember. With the stores there were always trees to trim and vignettes to create. Several years I would auction off my Christmas decorating services to the highest bidder at our local annual auction to benifit the arts in our community and I had the opportunity to decorate some of the most beautiful homes in our area for the season. This year it is probably a good thing that Mr. A doesn't have too much to work with in the Christmas decoration department because it would probably end up looking more like the inside of a sweet little gift shop instead of a newly single daddy's cozy home.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ready, set, load it all up!

This picture was taken last year just before we loaded everything into the car to take it up north. The stockings must have already been loaded into the car before I snapped this quick picture. You will see John's lone stocking still hanging there by the towering boxes.
Looking at these old pictures is working out well. I had forgotten that last year I found that set of stacking boxes at Costco and thought it would be a good way to do something different with John's gifts. He is so hard to buy for, so last year each of the twelve boxes were filled with a little something and the whole presentation really did put a bit of smile on his face as he opened each little box filled with tiny treasures. None of them really amounted to much but he liked it and that made me happy. I better go retrieve those boxes again since I still have no idea what to get him this year.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Glad Tidings of Comfort And Joy

This year we have decided to forgo decorating for Christmas and carry the spirit of Christmas in our hearts. John has been working long hours with a tough commute six days a week for most of the fall. Today is the first Saturday that he has had off of work in a long time. Last night while we were driving home from his birthday dinner he asked if I wanted him to put up the tree and lights on Saturday. I suggested that maybe we didn't have to decorate this year. We do not have any Christmas parties planned here at Greenbrier this year. His work schedule is brutal. We go up north on Christmas. He thought maybe that would be alright.

This morning John showed me how to put the photo card from my old camera into the computer to download pictures. All of the pictures from last Christmas are now on my computer so I can share them with you this season as it progresses.

The picture above is of our great room mantel hung with stockings for each of our six children, Bernie, Joey, Aaron, Dana, Kyle, and Matt and one on either end for each of us. This picture cuts out Johns stocking but it is there. I still do stockings for my kids every year and they are their favorite thing that I get for them. We don't see most of John's side at Christmas time so we send their gift off earlier. We so look forward to when Bernie & Cathy and the kids are able to move closer so we can be together for the holidays.

Well, John is at the gym and I better get to exercising. We are focusing on faith, family, friends, fitness, and fun this Christmas season and being a gift shop proprietor for so many years guarantees that there will be gifts~~~~lots of gifts~~~~

We wish you comfort and joy today and through out this holy season.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Marie Antoinnette & All Things Bright and Beautiful the blog!

This morning while reading one of my favorite blogs, Absolutely Beautiful Things, and visiting some of her commenter's blogs, I came upon a blogger that took my breath away with her first post that I saw when I clicked on her site. I must go back and get her name, in my excitement it escapes me~~~shame on me~~~ but I wanted to get this posted for all of you. Her website is All Things Bright and Beautiful. The original photo source of the pink bathroom above is TBA.
&B has a most breath taking blog post about it today with some other lavender gems to go with it to round out this jewel box of a post.
edit: Thank you Cielo for bringing my error to my attention! Apparently the original source of the Pink Bathroom is from Anna at Villa Anna. Please stop by her blog to see all the accompanying photos that are just gorgeous.
Further down you will come to her Marie Antoinette post which just makes my heart skip a beat. Being well over the average woman's height, and a lover of all things stiletto, this indulged my passion for high~ heels in a visual way so that I don't have to suffer the consequences of actually wearing shoes that put me head and shoulders above the crowd. The fact that they are all silky, beribboned, ruffled and bejeweled in candy shop colors delights me to no end.
Do you think those are all real cakes in this gorgeous photo from the movie Marie Antoinette? Who were the lucky ones that got to eat them?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

~ Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread ~

I wish you could smell the aroma that this single little loaf of whole-wheat bread has given Greenbrier. It would be delightful to share with all of you.

May the good Lord bless all your kitchens, and fill your bread bowls on this beautiful day that He has made!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cherries In The Snow

Here are a couple of pictures of a table Dana did for her small group's luncheon at Church today. She collects cherry related things for her house. She used what she had on hand to create her Cherries In The Snow (wasn't that the name of a Revlon nail polish years ago?) themed table setting. This proud Mama thinks she did a pretty good job. What do you think? Actually don't tell me if you hate it, I'm very sensitive today ;)

You can see more of her Christmas decorations here if you would like to. She has a lighter family Christmas picture on there. She makes a sweet home for her little expanding family. They are expecting their second baby next March. I'm sure she would love to have you stop in for a quick visit ~

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Does this wreath look upside down?

I just hung this wreath on the front door but can't figure out if the big bow should be on top or the bottom, so I thought I would put the question out to all of you while I finish unloading the groceries from the car. Any suggestion would be appreciated. Thanks Ladies!

Edit* Bow on top it is! I really hate my door knob and would love some pretty door jewelry ;)

Cathy Kincaid for Southern Living

This picture has been in my file for ages as one of my favorite dining rooms. Hope you enjoy this light, calm, crisp room.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Each year at our Company Christmas party we try to get a nice picture of the family all dressed up and looking presentable. It seems like each year presents its own different set of problems trying to do that. This year the flash on my camera was acting up. One picture it would flash, the next nothing.

The picture above was the best one after cropping, lightening and brightening with the technology that our new computer makes easy enough for even me to figure out.

So, this is my Christmas card to all my blogger friends from my family to yours. May the blessings be abundant and love reign supreme as you celebrate this Christmas season!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sparkle Sconce

This sweet little sconce arrived yesterday from California. They were bough to grace the walls of Mom & Dad's guest house some where, but they just may end up here at Greenbrier.

These Vintage French Chic Crystal Wall Sconces are from our French Chic friend Lidy's charming internet shop that you must stop by and visit if you get a minute to browse. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, November 30, 2007

l 'art de vivre

A couple of years ago the book, French Women Don't Get Fat by Mereille Guiliano came out and after seeing Madame Guiliano on Oprah I bought the book. Well, sweet Cindi said that she wanted the book so when the time came that I needed a little something for her I gifted her with French Women Don't Get Fat which left me with a vague knowledge of the contents but not much more. In 2006 Madame came out with another book, French Women For All Seasons
so I bought it and loved reading every delicious word of it but that was as far as it went. Then last summer I stumbled upon her website and signed up at a cost of $19 something a month for her menus, support forums and advice from Madame herself, but with the wedding and everything else going on I never really had time to get into it and was about to unsubscribe when the Sunday after Thanksgiving I stepped on my scale and about fainted when I saw the offending #.

Miraculously, that same morning John had said, 'I'm going on a diet'. So that was all it took for me to log onto FWDGF, download the weekly shopping list and away we went off to Papa Joe's
to stock up for the week. My Italian husband was a bit nervous when I kept talking about all this French food I was about to embrace but I assured him that he only had to eat what he wanted and there would be plenty of meat and veggies which he adores thankfully.

It has been 5.5 days now and with Madame's approach to 'the art of living' I have taken off the awful holiday weight and started to learn a whole new appreciation for the pleasure of food. I am optimistic that with this new found knowledge and the exercise program which is all about the French way to move, there is a chance that I might finally get rid of those extra **lbs. that have crept up over the last 20 years.

I still haven't even thought about Christmas decorating yet but have enjoyed looking at a couple of blogs to help ease us into the season. Our company Christmas party is tomorrow night so that will clear the schedule a bit when we get back from up north to get busy next week with at least the tree. I hear MP got a pretty blanket of snow last night.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Clean Dining Room

Well the house is finally put back together after Thanksgiving and I'm having trouble motivating myself to start dragging out the Christmas decorations. John will probably start putting the tree together the first of next week. It is an old artificial tree that you have to put each branch into the center stem and it takes forever to assemble. Then he puts the lights on and does a beautiful job of it taking the time to wrap hundreds of colored lights around all those branches.

It would be nice to have a fresh tree but John has a particular fondness for this old tree so that is the tree we use. Last year I came up with the solution to the fact that our great room is 20' high and the tree is 7' tall. John says the tree is 9' tall and I'm not positive about exactly how tall it is but it is too small for the room. We tried putting it on a table but when we started decorating it the ornaments on the front of the tree made it tip over. So, my solution was to make a huge tall tree topper out of red glitter sticks, bows and ribbons galore. Not perfect but it settles the to small issue for me.

I do not know if it is the winter light or what. My pictures are not coming out very crisp. Sorry for the fuzzy dining room corner picture but I did want to pop in and say hi, and I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

After I set up this place setting to use as a Thanksgiving post this morning I realized that most everything in this place setting has been given as gifts from sweet friends or family. For years my Mom gave me a couple stems of Waterford's Lismore goblets in red & white wine sizes. Sheryl, our matron of honor, gave us the Waterford Champagne flute for our first toast at our wedding. The Mottahedeh Chelsea Bird plate was a gift from Sarah & Suzi. The white Wedding Band plates and salt cellars are part of the box of treasures Maurine got me for Christmas a few years ago. The gold silverware is a set that John's Mom got us for a wedding present. We are certainly blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives that have been so generous over the years.
Here is a picture of what we will actually be eating off for our Thanksgiving feast. After the first couple of years as a part of this big Italian family I gave up the fine china for paper plates, not just any paper though, Chinet.......and this year we have even added desert plates.

Hope everyone here is the US is not wearing their self out too much getting ready for the big feast. Happy Thanksgiving to all that will be celebrating tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cookie Day

Things starting out nicely with Peggy, Josephine and Steve rolling out the dough. Mary Ann was manning the trays. Yes, it is 9:00 am and those are beer bottles on the counter, what can I's tradition.
Cathy and Pat are ever so gently dipping the cookies into the frosting then the nuts after they come out of the oven and John dumps them on the table to be cooled.
Things are heating up a bit. John got a nasty burn on the inside of his forearm and Peggy is trying to keep the flour out of her nose. Jo and Steve barely looked up all day, amazing.
Some more of the kids arrive a bit later and the Mimosas come out and the cookies start to pile up. Mandy keeps filling the containers that everyone brings to take home their share of the bounty to make room for more cookies as they come out of the oven.
Pat takes a well deserved break from dipping to hold the baby while Dave and Niki wait for me to make more frosting and quit taking pictures. All in all it was a great day. I didn't get any pictures of the meal after all the cookie business was stowed away because we were just too busy but the food was delicious as always. The sauce John made was so good, and the big salad, warm rolls and wine was enough to fill us all up after a hard days work. By 3:00pm everyone was packed up and ready to head out.

Another successful Cookie Day is on the books. We think we surpassed our total from years past with more than 1,500 cookies made. We so love having every one here on Cookie Day and look forward to many more. This year was bitter sweet because just last month John's beloved Aunt Micki passed away. She and her brother, John's dad, started this tradition I think but am not positive since I'm still fairly new at all this. Hopefully the next generations to come will follow up and continue to crank out these unnamed Italian Christmas cookies for many years to come and use this sweet tradition to help knit together many more precious memories of Cookies Days past, present and future.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pink Bunny PJ's

While Christmas shopping with D & B yesterday we found the cutest PJ's in a soft pink flannel with bunnies ice skating on them. They had them in children's and adult so three pair made their way into the shopping cart, one for Taylor, one for Riley & one for Grama to match the girls on Christmas morning ;)
This is what my kitchen counter looks like this morning after unloading the bags and trying to sort them into piles for each child then the dreaded evening out process will begin after I get the piles into bags for each of them. At this age it is not about how much each item costs but more about having the same amount of presents to open which the kids really don't even pay attention to but I guess it is an old habit left over from when ours were still little and at home.

Well I better go get this stuff into bags and clear the counters to start some breakfast and then get my cookie dough mixed up and into the fridge for tomorrow. John had to run into work this morning but I noticed that he has his ground beef thawing in the garage to use for the sauce which means he will hopefully be actually making the sauce, yeah!

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

******Edit******Just thought I would add that the pink bunny PJ's are from Target.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Nursery Ready for Guests

Blake and Dana will be here later today. The boys are all celebrating the first day of deer hunting season so we will have some time to spend together. Carrie is going to visit a friend in Indiana. She has been so busy with school that I am happy that she is getting a bit of a break and getting to see her friend. We will miss her but I don't feel bad about her choice at all. I know how hard it is to fit in family time and friend time and we will enjoy plenty of time together over Christmas break.

Usually when Dana is here we fit in a little decorating. I'm hoping that we can figure out how to hang the curtains that go in the nursery. They have a white background with blue violets on them and are from our old house. I wish I could be content with the no curtain look that most enjoy now but to me a room isn't finished until the curtains are hung, especially tailored curtains. They are terribly out of style now but I still love them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Clean Cutting Board For Cookie Day

Early this morning while waiting for the second pot of coffee to brew I noticed the smell of garlic coming from the dishwasher........yuck! The remnants of Monday nights roast beef dinner had been finished off, and even though rinsed well, the cutting board still had the scent of the garlic that had been chopped on it. I scrubbed the offender with lemon until the smell was gone. No more garlic smell, at least for the rest of the morning.

No sauce making today because this Sunday is, what we call, cookie day. We will make the sauce Saturday and put it in the garage to cure until brought into service Sunday. There will be a kitchen full of Italian cousins, a few friends and Dana & Blake forming assembly line stations all over the place. We will make around 1,500 Italian Christmas cookies that no one can remember the name of. We have been told what they are but never seem to pitiful.

Every family brings 2 bundles of the cookie dough that they make at home. The dough is rolled into long strips and filled with almond paste then cut on the diagonal making little cookies. When finished cooking they are spread on the table to cool then the newbies dip them in frosting, then chopped walnuts and set them out to dry. If any one knows the name of these cookies please let me know. Maybe if it is in writing I will be able to remember what they are.........

After all the cookies are made and divided among the bakers we do a quick clean up them pull all the tables into the center of the kitchen for a feast of rigatoni with meat sauce that includes meat balls, ribs & sausage for this special occasion. We get fresh bread from Randazzo and the cousins bring the ingredients for the antipasto .

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Upper Stairway

Here are couple of fuzzy pictures of our stairway landing. The art is of mostly antique hunting scene pictures either in their original frames or newly framed.