Saturday, December 28, 2013

Salter Path Christmas

Today we had such a special time celebrating Christmas with our family in Salter Path!

Savannah, Grandma Barbara, and Harper

Savannah, Aunt EJ, and Harper

Savannah and Tal

Gran and Harper "playing the drums" on the box:

Savannah and Harper

Harper, Grandma Barbara, and Savannah

Harper, Uncle Benny, Savannah, and Aunt EJ

Savannah was blessed with many presents:

Savannah's new bike from Mr. Craig (with no training wheels!):

Gran and Grandma Barbara gave Savannah some adorable new clothes:


Savannah's Stuffie has 7 secret pockets:

Perfect for drawing princesses:

Harper and Savannah each received an El's T-shirt 
(El's is Tal's favorite restaurant):

Our family, as well as Uncle Benny, Aunt EJ, and Harper, 
chipped in to buy Grandma Barbara a Keurig:  

Keurig, Carousel, and K-cups

Here's how Grandma's new Keurig and carousel look on her kitchen counter:

For Gran and Grandaddy, I created a photo book with 
pictures from their 60th Wedding Anniversary Celebration:

Benny, Gran, and Grandaddy are looking at the photo book:

Gran and Grandaddy 60 years ago

Food at the Anniversary Celebration 

Cutting the Cake

Throughout the book, I included quotes about faith and family:
"Family, where life begins and love never ends"

"Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done"

Savannah helps Gran turn the pages in the photo book:

For each family, I also made a calendar that included 
some of our favorite photos and memories from the year:

Savannah's Pixie Cut

Harper's Birth

Visits from Grandma Judy

For Harper's first Christmas, we gave her some personalized gifts:

This personalized ornament shows that Harper was 
9 months and 2 days old on her first Christmas in 2013:

This custom placemat and plate have a little girl who looks like Harper with her 
blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair:

On the back of the placemat, Harper can practice writing 
her name and ABC's with a dry erase marker:

Here are some new books for Harper that she can lift-the-flap and touch-and-feel:

 After opening presents, we all ate lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings:

Savannah, Aunt EJ, and Harper 

Beautiful Blue Eyes

Aunt EJ and Uncle Benny giving Harper kisses: 

We're so thankful for our family, for their generosity, and 
for being able to celebrate Christmas with them!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2014 House Project Ideas

I'm not making a list of my home goals for 2014. I decided that I don't want to be tied down to a to-do list. Instead, I want the freedom to complete projects that inspire me. When I'm inspired, then I'm happier, more creative, and likely to get more projects done.

One project that WILL get done in 2014 is our backyard makeover. Tal and I have budgeted $3,000 for the playset, mulch perimeter, and sod.

Here are 10 project ideas that I've been tossing around in my head that may or may not get done in 2014. :) The good news is that all of these projects cost less than $100 each to complete. Also, some of these are leftover projects from 2013...for which I already have the supplies:
  • make and hang curtains for living room/kitchen
  • make and hang curtains for master bedroom
  • make pillows for living room, master bedroom, and man cave using leftover curtain fabric
  • paint stripes in the garage entry hallway
  • stain stair banisters
  • paint trim and baseboards around the house
  • spray paint door hardware
  • paint the backs of the bookcases in Tal's man cave
  • organize party supplies
  • organize craft supplies
Stay tuned!

2013 Goals Revisited

As 2013 comes to a close, I'm looking back at the personal, professional, and home goals that I made at the beginning of the year.

Keep reading to find out how I did:

1. Work fewer hours.
Last year, I worked 50 hours a week, taught 6 classes a day, and didn't have a library assistant. It was a tough year, but I learned to work smarter. I learned to prioritze, maximize my planning period, and utilize my parent volunteers and Junior Librarians. This year, due to increased student enrollment and funding, I've been blessed with a full-time assistant who runs the library, so I can focus on teaching. As a result, at least three days a week, I leave school when the bell rings at 2:45, so I can pick up Savannah when she wakes up from her nap at 3:00.

2. Exercise.
I still find it challenging to make exercise a priority. I work out consistently for a couple weeks. I lose a few pounds. Then, life gets busy or stressful. I get lazy or tired. I gain a few pounds. Having a home gym makes exercising easier, but it's not a cure-all. The biggest obstacle in this scenario is me and my lack of discipline...something to work on in 2014.

3. Pay down debt.
Last year I mentioned that Tal and I had paid off $72,000 in debt in 5.5 years. It hasn't been fun. It hasn't been easy. We're still paying off Tal's grad school loan and look forward to being debt free. We're throwing extra money from tax refunds, overtime pay, etc. towards paying down our debt faster.

The good news is that 2013 was our best year financially to-date. Our household income increased around 20% due to my National Boards pay raise, as well as Tal's salary increase and overtime pay. Because of the Lord's blessings, we've been throwing extra money towards our debt. (If you follow Dave Ramsey, you know that he recommends increasing your income in order to pay off your debt faster.)

4. Scale back home improvement/decorating projects.
To be honest, I don't think Tal and I did fewer/less expensive projects in 2013. However, we did accomplish many of our home goals for the year. Read my 2013 House Projects Review post for a summary of the projects we worked on this year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Making Christmas Traditions

For the first time in the 7 years that Tal and I have been together, 
we stayed home for Christmas. 
We didn't travel. 
We didn't go to Salter Path. 
(However, we FaceTimed twice 
with our SP family today and got to see everyone's Christmas presents.)

Tal only had one day off for the holiday. 
Instead of spending the day driving, we opted to stay home 
and make our own traditions.

The three of us slept in on Christmas morning.  
However, when Savannah woke up, she was eager to open her presents 
and find out what Santa had brought her.

Savannah's playset didn't arrive in time for Christmas, 
so Tal and I gave her a few stocking stuffers
(lip gloss, nail polish, barrettes) to open on Christmas. 
 Savannah also received a pink Nautica jacket and Hello Kitty journal from 
Uncle Michel, Aunt Sheree, and Cousin Mya. 

For lunch, Tal and I made turkey, stuffing, and potatoes with 
gravy...along with some biscuits and cranberry sauce. Yummy!

For dessert, I made monkey bread 
(inspired by Benny and EJ who made some at Thanksgiving):

After lunch, Tal, Savannah, and I spent the rest of the day 
napping, relaxing, and watching movies. 
It was a perfect day with family!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 House Projects Review

Looking back at our posts from 2013, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of house projects that Tal and I accomplished this year. We completed our front yard makeover and gave Savannah a big girl bedroom. We also added curtains to a few rooms, tackled some organizational projects, and started transforming our bedroom, backyard, and home gym. 

Here's a review of our 2013 house projects: 

1. Our biggest project of 2013 was our front yard makeover:

Tal and I spent three months updating our home's curb appeal by:
  • pulling out five prickly holly bushes
  • using a sod cutter to cut up the grass in our front yard
  • using a tiller to break up the dirt clods and stubborn roots
  • rolling up the sod and throwing it in the back of Tal's truck
  • laying 90 rolls of tall fescue sod
  • watering our new grass with our repaired irrigation system
  • hanging a yellow wreath on our front door
  • spray painting the planters turquoise and planting some new arborvitaes in the pots

2. Tal and I transformed Savannah's nursery into a turquoise and pink big girl bedroom, which included new bedding, headboard, and curtains, as well as a gallery wall, reading nook, and dress-up area:

3. We converted our formal living room into a functional home gym that includes an elliptical and weight machine. We installed a ceiling fan and added a floor lamp, as well as painted the room Royal Palm by Olympic and hung no-sew Groovy Grille curtains:

4. For Tal's man cave, I made no-sew curtains using 12 yards of Chipper Storm twill fabric and 4 packs of Heat 'n Bond:

5. I hemmed and hung Ikat curtains in our dining room:

6. I made our garage entrance more colorful and inviting by adding a welcome decal on our yellow door:

7. Tal and I updated our master bedroom with Rosalie Paisley bedding from Pottery Barn:

8. I organized Savannah's clothing into 14 plastic containers and labeled them for easy access in our attic:

9. I organized my bathroom vanity and lined the drawers with some pretty shelf liner:

10. Tal and I decluttered and reorganized our kitchen cupboards and drawers to make them more functional. I also added some chevron shelf liner for a pretty pop of color:

11. We cleaned up our garage and installed some hooks to keep our tools, ladders, and chairs organized and off the floor:

12. Finally, we started updating our backyard to make room for Savannah's playset: