504 Main by Holly Lefevre: December 2009

12.31.2009

Writer's Workshop: This Time I'm the Winner

I was seriously going to skip it this week
and recharge for the new year,
but I took a peek and couldn't not resist...
another wedding related prompt...and man oh man do I have a story!
So the prompt is "#3 Write about a speech you gave at a wedding."
Well, I am going to take liberties here...this speech is not mine,
but never in one million years could I do better...really!

(NOT my brother or his wife!)

To set the scene...
My brother decided to get married two weeks before me...
in Laughlin, NV. So, since I was super organized and
had nothing left to do for my own wedding (right!),
we hopped in the car and headed to Laughlin.
This part of the story could be long....very long...
and we would have to call in a therapist.
It is not pretty, so we'll skip it...for now.

This Time I'm the Winner
The wedding was on a riverboat at noon. My brother, and his friends...and my cousins...and the dad's...and any other male (other than my future hubby) were trashed by the time the wedding was supposed to start...seriously there was a trail of beer cans leading from the hotel to the boat dock. (I shall also skip the wedding details...save those for another post...it will be worth it...I promise!)

As the bride began her walk down the aisle, my brother and his best man (and everyone else) each took one last swig of their beers. My brother was still holding his until he realized it, and then passed it off to the Best Man who finished it.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the boat captain handed the bride and groom "I Got Hitched on the S.S. Riverside" T-shirts (wonder if they still have them?) and then passed his mic off to the Best Man. There was no champagne to be poured, just a few Coors Light cans to be passed around (if you were lucky).
And, so began his toast...

Best Man says...
"Dude, I love this guy.
(turns to my brother)
No, really, dude I love you man.
I have known you since Kindergarten.
I don't know what I'd do without you.
You are my best friend.
You are good at everything.
You have always been better than me...
at sports...
in school...
with girlfriends...
but this time I'm the winner."

Enough said.
Aren't you jealous you are not at my family events?

12.29.2009

Smackdown 2009...Jules vs. Christmas

Let's just first ignore the fact that part of this post
was supposed to happen about two weeks ago...
life got in the way of blogging...
but I have not recharged yet,
so here I am including it anyway...deal with it.
Oh, yeah...I apologize this is long.
I should have a giveaway at the end
for those who stick with it...but I don't.
Let me first say, that this may be one of the best Christmases in a long time...Oh it is always good for the kids, but I finally chilled out! I was determined to have a good time...and I promised hubby that "Happy Holly" was invited to this party. I usually stress myself out with making and packaging and wrapping presents up until the final moment...not this year...I started early, and when I got behind called for reinforcements...a babysitter!
Blinko made the trip with Mom and Dad...
and Jules was NOT allowed to touch him!

As for Christmas dinner...I did break out the china to eat off, but left the serving platters and bowls wherever they were hiding...we did not use the "fancy" stuff! I served in whatever was available. We made a great meal and we all got to sit down together.
I was a Christmas slacker and I am proud!

Honestly, I am glad we, and Christmas made it to that point.
I truly thought Jules was bound and

determined to take Christmas down,
and so I dubbed this year:
SMACKDOWN 2009.....JULES VS. CHRISTMAS
Yes, this face did some serious damage!

I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined what her fascination with Christmas would be. From the moment the boxes labeled "Xmas" came out of the garage, Jules has been on a rampage. Was she was overcome by the Christmas spirit or simply fascinated by it all - the sparkles, the lights, the tree the ornaments, all this stuff that sings and makes noises?
"Bells at the Bottom"
A traditon started by my grandparents...
my dad must have been naughty
when it came to peeking at presents,
so the bells go at the bottom near the presents,
to "alert" someone when a kiddo is peeking.

Well, on a daily basis, if she wasn't hiding in the tree, some toy or half eaten apple was. I found balls, shoes, Barbies, and dog bones...hiding in the tree. That was the easy part...we now have 10 missing chandelier crystals, 8 hidden jingle bells, 6 crackedsnowflakes, 4 smashed Hallmark Ornaments (unfortunately she did not break the half-naked Princess Leia one...I know you are jealous...I have two...any bidders?), 3 broken nutcrackers, 2 collapsed gingerbread houses, and a partridge in a pear tree. But oh what fun she had...I really couldn't be mad! I cannot wait to see where she hid the snowflakes and the bells!

Just a few casualties!
Just because I know you are dying to see it...
Princess Leia...you are sooo jealous!

Sorry, not done yet! I just have to talk about my favorite decoration of all - the Christmas tree. I love the way the tree sparkles and fills a room with soft twinkling light. Even I, in all my blah, blah, holiday spirit will admit there is something really beautifulabout a gorgeous tree with some simple white lights. Do you think people would think I'm weird(OK, I am weird!) if I bought a fake one and left it up all year? Jules would be thrilled!

Joe reading the Santa letter to Jules

To me the tree is magical. As a kid, I always wanted to go buy a tree ASAP and have it hang around as long as possible. I always wanted to leave the pile of presents by the tree for just as long. Funny how things change...as a mom, we unwrapped and fairly efficiently moved all the gifts to the respective new "homes" (sort of).

Yesterday, I took down the decorations. Today, just a few days after Christmas (gasp!), I took down the ornaments, in preparation to remove the tree tomorrow...I know, I know..I am horrible...but I just cannot stand the pine needles any more, and I like to start the new year off fresh.

And, yes, it did cause trauma...Jules cried, begged me not to take the ornaments, pleaded for me to hang them back up..but I am strong...I did not back down...however, she now has ornament hanging from various places in her room and I am sure she stashed a few in her back pack.
But, really I am looking at this perfect tree in its simple glory and reflecitng on this years holiday and so happy I took a chill pill (not really...and only one glass of wine!)
Cheers!
Holly


12.22.2009

Tag Your It!


What the heck happened to December?
I have this calendar hanging up...
and I keep looking at the days, refusing to believe
things are happening as quickly as they are.

I often loose track of days -
when I was planning weddings, that did not happen at all!
However all has changed.
So again, I have miscounted, misjudged,
over scheduled, and...I am out of time.

And unless you are like me,
you are probably not looking for anything new to do,
but here I am posting about gift tags anyway...
just days before Christmas...woops!
Um...next year I will so be on it!

So, if you are new to the game over here,
and thinking my tags are ugly like my son does,
(Yes, he still despises the newspaper idea!)
checking out It's a Wrap for the story behind the "ugly."

Last year I made tags too and bought my label maker
...which I love! - to simplify the process.
I also did a couple of tags by simply cutting straight lines
and decorating with pinking shears or corner rounders.

So, voila...here are the gift tags that match the "ugly" presents.

Supplies
Card stock, scrapbook paper, newspaper
Ribbon, yarn, or string
Hole punch
Label maker punch (optional)
Paper-tearer (optional)
Glitter (optional)
Glue and/or adhesive
(I like glue stick for the tags and
regular old white glue for the glitter)

How To
1. Cut or punch out numerous shapes in your
base paper - usually the card stock.
2. Cut or punch out numerous shapes in your accent paper
3. When I use newspaper, I also use card stock
and glue the newspaper onto the card stock (for some strength).
4. Tear you accent paper in half or into three's.
I keep all the parts and use them.
For example, sometimes the accents are on the top,
sometimes the bottom, sometimes the middle.
5. Match up the pieces to the shape of your tag and glue.
6. Punch or poke a hole in the top or side (your preference)
7. Slip some ribbon or string or yarn through the hole...
You Are Done!...almost.
8. I am using Sharpie's or a thicker marker to write the names
because of the pattern and colors of some of the papers.

For the initial toward the top of the post,
I just brushed white glue all over a chipboard letter
and smothered it in glitter.
I thought it was a fun accent to my "ugly" wrapping.


HAPPY HOLIDAYS ALL!
CHEERS!
Holly


12.19.2009

A {Craft} Quickie

Have I ever mentioned I have no attention span and,
until I figure out how to survive on no sleep at all, no time...
A few weeks ago I cam across this fantastic
and quick project at Craft Chic Mommy.
Then I saw it a few days ago at Katie's Nesting Spot.
They each have slightly different finishing methods,
so go check them out!
Really, I just thought this was so cute I wanted
to make some for my self, but since then,
they have turned into Christmas presents and hostess gifts,
and now I must trek back to the craft store
to buy more frames for me.
The lan is to do a set of 9 and hang them on the wall
with photos from our Europe trip 
(just to prove there was life before kids!).
Really, it took about one day to complete everything
because of dry times, but this could not be
simpler for such amazing results.
Supplies
-Wooden picture frames ($1.00 at Michaels)
-Light sand paper
-Modge Podge
-Foam brush
-Scrapbook Paper
-Exacto Knife or other cutting tool
-Paint, stain, or stamp/ink pad
(depends on the finishing method yous prefer)
-Optional: adornments: rhinestones, flowers, tags, etc.

For more complete tutorials go visit the links above.
Here is my condensed version...this is how I made mine...
1. Coat the front of the frame with an even coat of Modge Podge. Let it dry a little and then add a second coat.* (see NOTES for an optional first step)
2. Place frame face down onto the scrapbook paper.
3. Flip it over, and remove any bubbles by sweeping a credit card(or like object) over the surface.
4. Let the frame/paper set (or dry completely). Then, turn over and trim paper. I left my paper face down and cut around the frame and frame opening with an Exacto knife. No worries if the edges are not perfect...
5. Sand the edges of the frame and frame opening to smooth out the edges.
6. At this point you may have some white areas on the paper. I used my ink pad to fill in these edges and color the edges of the frame. I just dipped a paper towel in the ink, and dabbed around the perimeter of the frame and frame opening, and the edges. I wanted a more vintage feel, so I was happy to let the ink "bleed" out onto the corners and on some I even smudged it on purpose.
7. When the ink is dry, coat front of frame with 2 more layers of Modge Podge, letting the coats dry slightly in between applications.
NOTES:
1. Depending on your desired effect, you can paint or stain the frame first (before applying the paper to the front) and let it dry. Then use the paint or stain for touch up in Step 6.
Happy Crafting!
Cheers!
Holly

12.17.2009

Merry Cluckmas!

This week, I choose...
4.) Describe a funny or favorite gift that you’ve gotten or have given.

 Merry Cluckmas!

When I dream about Christmas and family gatherings, I see perfectly wrapped packages, each selected with the utmost of care; a delicious meal; cousins, aunts and uncles greeting one another with hugs and kisses. When I arrive at the N family's Christmas Eve gathering, my reality is a far different...there are wrapped packages - not necessarily beautifully wrapped, there is food - a 6 foot burrito and oyster stew, and the cousins, aunts, and uncles are either greeted with a beer or "What the hell you been doin'?" (that's he PG version) How festive it that? Doesn't it just scream CHRISTMAS!?


Traditionally, when it was time for the gift exchange, Uncle Rocco would give each kid a silver dollar and tell them to “Stay on the straight and narrow.” (As if he had!). Then we would gather around the Christmas tree. In an attempt to prevent anyone from going broke buying presents for 50+ people, we had a rule: each family was to bring gifts for one other family. Well, that fell apart the year my aunt decided I did not need anything…explain that to an 8 year old. (yes, and that was Crazy Aunt M of the Chili Brie fame).

As we, the cousins, got older, the gift exchange wasn't working so well. In time, this tradition morphed and transformed until we were finally all able to come to an agreement...a white elephant exchange. Sounds simple...not if you are a member of my family!

Our white elephant's main rule was that the gift not be newly purchased. It could be new, but it had to be sitting-around-your-house-I-am-never-going-to-use-it-new. This worked for us. Of course there was trading..uh, stealing...of gifts, and we finally had to make up a specific rule for this as well. Oh you think I am kidding...on no less than three occasions, members of one family did not speak to members of another family for at least six months based upon the outcome of the gift exchange.

Along the way, gifts included some good, some bad, and some ugly. I once re-gifted Hilary Clinton's Book, It Takes A Village (I never read it and was not going to). The recipient was thrilled. So, see a thoughtful, useful (I guess) gift. Antique oil cans, old cameras, and boxes of hockey cards made their rounds, but then the game began to digress...or get really fun, depending on how you look at it. Over the next few years, the gifts became a mixture of half used toiletries, the contents of a junk drawer (I will admit that was me), and obscene T-shirts. Our little white elephant exchange had evolved into "Who could find the most useless or offensive gift?" 

(not my family...I bought them)


As a prelude to the best/worst-gift-ever-given at the N's Family Christmas, one year the grand finale was the rusted car door of a 1970's VW Bug. What a useful item, eh? I actually do not even remember who "won" that, but it caused a great roar and uproar!

So then next year, there had to be something bigger and better...and more useless. That night we all gathered around the tree, a tower of gifts awaited us. There were big ones, medium ones, and small ones. We picked numbers to determine order (remember rules!), and were ready to rock-n-roll! I could hear my three cousins snickering every time anyone would touch Cousin A's gift. It seemed safe...it was small...no matter what was in there, it could be easily disposed of...again it was small...how bad could it be?

Coming to the end of the exchange, we discovered Crazy Aunt M was last. And lo and behold, the only gift left is Cousin A's. She thinks about it...she could steal someone's gift and risk a family feud, or just take the small one, end the game, and go home...

She picks the small gift, and right on cue we hear "Cluck, Cluck, Cluck" and a chicken races into the family room - no, we do not live in the country (this is L.A. baby!), no this was not a pet...yes this was the gift...a live chicken. All I can say it that at least it was alive.

Merry Clucking Christmas!
Holly

PS - OK, the gift was not from me, but close enough!

PSS - If you would like some background about
my warm and fuzzy idyllic family visit this post.

12.16.2009

Blatant Self Promotion and Bloggy Shopping

PART I

I won't even pretend to be shy about this one...
the first part of this post is all about blatant self promotion.
My latest book, 
comes out Friday. I am SUPER excited!



I will be having a giveaway over at
so if you know someone who is getting married
send them over that way and
tell them to buy the book!


PART II

The Bloggers Are Back Under My Tree!
My shopping was not quite done
(still isn't completely done),
so where shall I turn but to the bloggyworld
for some cool and unique finds
to fill the void under the Christmas tree.
I did wait a little too long...
some of the etsy shops were "closed" until January.

Anywho...Here's what I found!
I believe every girl should have at least one tutu -
no worries - I do not wear mine in public -
sorry for that visual...try to erase it from your memory.
BUT little girls in tutu's...
they go together like peanut butter and jelly.
So, Jules will be getting this
cute tutu in Blue Raspberry from tutu bug.

Purple Pizazz is next on the list.

Check out tutu bug's blog for more photos and colors!
(photos are from tutu bug's site)

Next up...
some fun tassels from Bees and Fleur de lis.
I figured they would add a little pizzaz
to some special gifts, accents a great bottle of wine or champagne,
or simply to give on their own..I have not quite decided,
but I just had to have some!
Check them out they are beautiful and elegant!
Be sure to stop by Jo's blog too!

 
(photos from Bees and Fleur di lis site)
(These are not the ones I purchased)

Seeing as how we are running out of time...
it is my job to pick out a gift for the lady
who has everything...my Mother in Law.
My mother in law has great taste
(just in case she is reading this...no really, she does),
and I almost always defer to hubby for her shopping...
and he is always right, but, this year, it is my turn.
I was scared...but then I found Muse Silk Paintings.
At her etsy store, she has AMAZING hand painted silk scarves.

(this is not the scarf I bought my MIL)
(photo from Muse Silk Paintings)

Just to recap from There Are Bloggers Under My Tree...
You can get some wonderful, personalized, scensational soap from Lah Dee Dah Soaps,

(these are not my soaps...
someone else bought these...
cute, eh?)

a totally cute apron from Lima Bean Designs,


and some gorgeous jewelry from Arco Iris


Also, from my There Are Bloggers Under My Tree post,
I had a couple of great suggestions for more handmade goods.
Well, I waited a little too long too check these shops out...
These shops are not shipping until January,
but do go check them out.
Besides, by January, I (we) will have recovered
from  Christmas shopping and will be raring to go!
So go check out...
downstairs Designs and their tres chic clutches and other goodies too.

Sophie and Lili (handmade with love)...has super cute dolls!
Her etsy shop is restocking but you can find her HERE!

And before you go...
Jenn has a seriously adorable selection of cupcake cuties!


12.15.2009

A Thank You & An Award (or two)

I planned on dazzling you with my gift tags
or my additional shopping from fellow bloggers today...
but kids and a new (work) project got in the way of my blogging.
Instead I will give a BIG thanks to the following people
and pass on a little cheer for the holiday season!



A VERY BIG THANK YOU
to Rita at Let's Embellish
I just got a my very own holiday surprise in the mail today.
Rita sent me a super-cute package of chipboard tags,
accents and an amazing photo/note holder.
If you like scrapbooking or just simply want to be inspired,
go check her out...her designs are beautiful!
I will post a photo soon!

And now for some awards!
From Jenn at Rook No. 17
My real life buddy, crafter, and baker extraordinaire
bestowed this lovely little gem that she designed herself.
I am touched and honored!


There is only one rule and it is simple: 
Pass this award on to ONE blogger
that you think is truly outstanding,
in both in their writing/posting,
and their treatment of fans, commenters,
and fellow bloggers.
 (this award is not part of the pick your own bling party)

This one goes to my pals Holly and Charisse at Life laugh Latte...They were my first followers that I did not actually know! 

From Tiffany at My Journey in Motherhood

I have received this before and am highly honored to receive it again!
Thank you! Here is the link to the post.
Because this award has very specific rules,  
it is not part of the Pick Your Own Bling Party.


NOW FOR THE PICK YOUR OWN BLING PARTY


The rules: I am supposed to share 7 things about me.
(I'll keep it short...I think)
1. I am a natural blonde...no one believes me.
2. If I had patience, I would love to go
back to school and become a teacher - 
never gonna happen...the patience part that is.
3. I was hoping to have two boys so that I could
drop all the bird and the bees talks on my hubby.
4. I love sparkly things.
I was very keen on the fad that included lots of
gems and stud on shirts and shoes
(that was a long time ago...)
5. I have only ever lived in California
and never more than 5-6 miles from the beach.
6. When I find something I like, I buy multiples.
I once had 20 of the same turtleneck...
10 were black.
7. I still have not figured out why people pay me to write.


From Holly and Charisse at Life Laugh Latte

From Polly at 5th Sister

From Daffy at Batcrap Crazy

From Lynn at Midday Escapades 

The rules...list 10 things that make me happy
(and tag 10 blogs that brighten my day).
1. Joe
2. Jules
3. Laughter
4. Sunshine
5. An email or phone call from a friend
6. Really good coffee
7. Treasure hunting...and finding treasure.
8. Listening to my fave country songs on my ipod.
9. When the computer works.
10. Sitting on the deck listening to the waves crash.
11. Visiting blog, getting/giving thoughtful comments.

From Corrie at Just Because My Pickle Talks Does Not Make Me An Idiot


So, following the precedent set by Holly and Charisse...
because it is the holidays,
will the following bloggers please pick out a shiny new award for yourself!


Trying to spread the holiday cheer around!
I bet there are a million typos in this post...
but at 12:40 am I do not care. I'll fix them tomorrow!


All of you - 
that means anyone who swings on by -
is awesome and appreciated.


Cheers!
Holly



12.14.2009

Winner! Winner! Winner!




Yes, there is a winner!
But first...
thanks to everyone who entered -
my "old" followers, my "new" followers,"
Ecostore USA newsletter subscribers,
and those of you who now tweet with me
(not that I tweet that much).

But, first, I apologize...
I have been a bad blogger this last week..
very few comments or emails returned,
but watch out...I plan on catching up this week!
And look for an awards post late tomorrow!


Guess who won the EcoStore USA giveaway!
...Go ahead guess...

So, I threw everyone's entries in the bowl,
and had a kid pick the name the old fashioned way,
and the winner is....

Krista of Daily Happenings

So email me or leave a comment on this post by Tuesday 12/15 at 1:30 am PST.

If you did not win, you still have a chance
to enjoy these amazing products...LOOK at this deal:

(wording borrowed from the web site)
Share the Love: Holiday Sale
As you know Ecostore USA loves making a difference in people's lives.
We want you and your families to be able to partake in our annual
"Share the Love Holiday Sale"
ALL of our plant and mineral based products are 40% off for the rest of the year.
Thank you all for your support, your suggestions and your call out for safer products  for your families and the planet.
Please continue to make No nasty chemicals™ a part of your lives.

Go and SHOP now!

 


FREE Shipping for ALL Orders of $25 or more

12.12.2009

In the Nick of Time

After looking at the boxes of Christmas decorations
for a couple of weeks, I decided it was finally time
to bite the bullet. Of course, I decided that it would be great
to light a fire and let the kids help...
and I hadn't even had a drink!

We did light a fire,
we did put on Christmas carols,
and we did have a good time...
we did not get anything decorated.
Instead there were little piles of Santa's,
candles, and snowmen all around the house
in all sorts of interesting places.

Thankfully, I abandoned my out-of-control
decorating ideas years ago, and the joy
of watching the kids "discover" the
Christmas treasures was all worth it.
So, yes, we did not get anything accomplished,
but we did have FUN!

I don't necessarily have a theme when I decorate -
I thought about it this year (and every year),
but end up using the items that call to me instead.
I think the closest I am getting to a theme
is the use of black and white with the
accents of green and red, like my gifts.
I was going to do red feathers
and made a wreath like the one I did for Halloween,
but it did not receive rave reviews -
it looked a little bordello-like.


(Joe made this in Kindergarten...still one of my faves!)

Might I also add, the decorating is minimal because
there is a certain little person who lives here
that thinks everything is hers, and so far,
has broken a leg off of a Santa,
hidden Christmas ornaments,
and who-knows-what-else she has done
that I have not yet discovered!

So, here is what I have done...
I love mixing rustic with a little glam.
It is not really traditional, but not really modern...
it is eclectic and...it is just us!

I drape pearls over the mirror every year...
best part they work as New years decor too!

 
I dress up my crazy "junk-store" fireplace decor
with some chandelier crystals and poinsettias,
and then we hang our stockings!


Some shiny new ornaments on a bed of moss
and Tiffany candlesticks!


The "sparkly tree" on a bed of moss,
perched atop a rustic container,
anchored with a silver and crystal platter.

 
I pulled some branches out of the yard
for Thanksgiving and loved the way they looked.
I just had to keep them for Christmas.
I put them in a vase, filled the vase with red beans
and hung more chandelier crystals.
This is one of my fave decorations...
but I cannot get a good photo! Bummer!


Joe loves Nutcrackers.
So, when I found a bag of Nutcracker candles
at Goodwill, I just had to have them.
There is just something kitschy and adorable about them.


These are my two fave's from this year.
Both kids sat quietly, intensely coloring their Santa's.


If the kids got to decorate...
our house would be full of singing Hallmark snowmen!
(Thanks Grandma!)

Oh yeah, no tree photos...because there isn't one yet.
Yes, we wait and wait.
In fact I really wanted to go cut our own tree this year,
but "Wholly Moly!" there is too much to do.
If only I had one more weekend.

As for the decor, next year, I am determined
to steal my parents Blinko -
a snowman from my grandparents
with a light up "blinking" nose -
I have never seen it blink
and pretty sure no one else has either,
but granny said it did.

What is your favorite holiday decoration?
Is there a story behind it?
Tell me..I just have to know!

Cheers!
Holly

There is still time to enter the GIVEAWAY!
You have until midnight PST on Sunday, December 13.