Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year, New Dreams

I decided to go back through the photos on my computer to try and see the last photos taken from December of 2009.  This time last year I wasn't really into photography, so one of the last photos taken was the one above, snapped by Mr. Tide just before our Christmas party, which was actually held after Christmas due to a big snowstorm.

It's funny what can happen in a year isn't it?  Over the last year I've started a blog, found a love for photography, had my first story published in a national magazine and even had photographs published in another national publication!  Thank you so much for your kind words of support about having my pictures featured in the spring 2011 issue of Romantic Country, no one is more surprised or excited than I am.  And I promise that after this weekend I'll get back to answering comments and emails, but for now I'm savoring every last minute of 2010!

I've also watched my youngest graduate from high school and then make us so proud by deciding to leave one college due to a bad roommate situation, only to be accepted into one of the finest colleges in the country.  He then went on to get his EMT certification and even helped save someone's life when he insisted they be transported to the hospital when they didn't want to go.  That person ended up living because of our son's unwillingness to take no for an answer!  

I've witnessed my daughter blossom into a strong young woman who can live on her own and handle a very stressful job.  She has organized conferences for high ranking military officers, traveled the world, and most importantly, remembered who she is along the way...never compromising her beliefs or her intelligence!

We welcomed a furry new baby into our home, and although our old girl Miss Kylee isn't as fit as she once was, she's holding her own.

But 2010 has also been a year of sadness for me.  It was the year in which my dear friend Ms. M suffered her stroke, although I'm happy to report that she is now home and doing much better with the aide of some close family and friends.  And losing my dear friend Dan was gut wrenching, and something that will take much more than a year to try and overcome the sorrow.

I think that's how years go isn't it?  A mix of good and bad, happy and sad.  I've found friends along the way thanks to this little blog, friends who I will have for a lifetime, and for that and everything else wonderful that has come my way, 2010 will go down as a very good year.

I decided to put together a video a few months ago to celebrate the year that soon will be over.  I just finished it up this afternoon, and I was not happy when the song I thought would be perfect was used in a holiday jewelry ad, but I still like the message it sends so I kept the song.  This video is my way of saying thank you to each of you.  Thank you for sharing in the good times, as well as the bad, for your support and encouragement, and mostly, for just being there!  

As the ball drops in your part of the world welcoming 2011 in all its glory, I wish each of you a year filled with promise, a year of hope, and a year for your dreams to come true!  Happy New Year Everyone!

I would like to give a special thanks to Lindsey from the fabulous blog Better After for featuring my kitchen makeover as one of her Top 12 for 2010...Thanks Lindsey you're the best! Be sure to stop by her blog to see all of the wonderful makeovers she features throughout the year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out Of Pocket

Miss Kylee:  Ok, so here's the deal.  Yesterday our company left and that makes me sad because those other people who were here always give me extra belly rubs.

Misty Belle:  I agree Ky, those people who I think are Daddy's parents were nice and even held me sometimes.  And I was a good girl and only jumped on them some of the time...ok only when I knew my paws were really wet and snowy!!!

Mom says the creek is really frozen, more than it's ever been since they've lived here.  Bugs left his fishing stuff outside, I guess he's going ice fishing sometime soon.

Misty Belle:  This is the frozen stuff they keep talking about, it's called ice.  And I really liked trying to walk on it which kind of almost gave mom a heart attack, so a few days before Christmas they called in the fence guy and now I can't get to the water anymore.  Mom is happy about that, but I am NOT!

Over Christmas we had lots of yummy food, but it was really cold and snowy and the winds were ferocious!  We did get lots of great presents though, all of us dogs got treats and new toys, and the humans all got really cool stuff for me to try and chew on!

Mom and dad took us for lots of walks in the snow and that was fun, but very cold!

Miss Kylee:  It was cold Misty, and very windy, I agree.  But as you can see behind me, a lot of the snow has melted and the temperatures are rising.  By the end of the week it will be 50 degrees.!

Mr. Quinn:  Today mom is doing laundry and cleaning up the house...we shed a lot!  And she hasn't been doing anything on the computer, which has been nice because that means she's been spending a lot of time hanging out with us.

 And letting me do lots of this, which I love!  Snow is delicious!

Really...I hope it doesn't all melt too soon.  I like having my very own icy machine in the backyard...

Misty Belle:  I hope everyone out there had a great Christmas...we sure did, well except for one small problem.  It seems that mom and dad have developed a little bit of an addiction to the show Ugly Betty.  Angelfish brought home season 1 for us to watch and now mom and dad can't stop watching it!

Actually I don't really mind, I like it too, as long as I get my food I'm ok with them watching it.  So Angelfish could you PLEASE come home this weekend and bring season 2?!  If not I think mom and dad might start going through withdrawals...thanks a bunch!

Oh, and one more thing...

Mom's photos of the Ekster Barn Sale are featured in Romantic Country's story on the best barn sales across America.  She's super excited about how the spread turned out, and loves the whole Spring 2011 issue, the magazine is available in stores now!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Memories

I hope all of you are safe and warm tonight, snuggled up and waiting for Santa to arrive.

Eagerly anticipating what's inside each carefully wrapped package underneath the tree!  For me, Christmas is all about the traditions and the memories we create which will last a lifetime.  So each year we do certain things, the way we always have.  It's these little rituals that make it feel like Christmas.

On Christmas Eve my children have a special package to open.  They know what's inside, it's been the same thing for years.  It's a pair of PJs for them to wear while visions of sugar plums dance in their heads.  They are grown now, but they still love this tradition.

Also each year I buy my children an ornament to commemorate something important or special that has happened to them throughout the year.  For our son Bugs it was receiving his EMT certification last summer, so I found a special EMT ornament.

And our daughter, Angelfish, moved this year to her new apartment, so she received a key ornament.

I love the little card that came with this ornament, especially since we don't have a chimney for Santa to come down at this house, and neither does she at her new place!

When my mother passed away 6 years ago, I decided to purchase an ornament that reminded me of her.  And then when my father also died, I continued that tradition, and began purchasing an ornament in memory of him as well.  Some years I get a separate ornament for each of them, but this year I bought an ornament with the Kings Arms Tavern crest on it.  They loved Williamsburg and visited it each year, often dining at the Kings Arms Tavern so I thought it was a perfect reminder of both of them.

Sadly, I also lost my dear friend Dan this year, so I added an ornament to the tree in honor of him.  He loved Superman, and I know he is smiling down when he sees it hanging on my tree.  I also sent one to his wife and mother in hopes that they too will find comfort in adding an ornament in his memory to their trees each year.  For me it is a way of keeping those I have lost close to me during the holidays.

Of course I have beautiful new ornaments on my tree, but it's the ones that bring back fond memories from when my children were young that make me smile the most each year when I unwrap them and place them on the tree.  Like this Santa made from a crab shell by one of my chldren in elementary school!

Or this one made by my son when he was in kindergarten.  It seems like just yesterday that he brought this home all wrapped up as only a 5 year old can, and beaming with pride at his magnificent creation!  Ahh I miss those days sometimes!

There are ornaments that once graced the branches of my grandparent's tree.

And a beautiful tree skirt cross stitched by my mother in law not long after we were married always adorns the bottom of the tree. 

Of course with each year there are always new memories to be made.  This will be Misty Belle's first Christmas and she will find out that Santa doesn't just remember to bring toys and goodies to the adults...special pets will find something under the tree on Christmas morning too!

Unlike any other time of year, Christmastime is when we are flooded with emotions...both happy and sad.

And every one of the things I chose to put out each year, and then lovingly pack away until next year, have special meaning for me.

It may be the memory of who gave them to me.

Or the special place I visited where I picked up a certain something.

Each piece of decor has a story to tell.

A memory to awaken.

Of childhood...

Or Friendship...

Or family.

Some things spell it right out.

Others are more subtle.

But each thing, no matter how big or how small has meaning.

If not to everyone, at least to me.

They are the tiny threads that connect us to our past.

That remind us of who we are and where we come from.

And these things will create memories for our own children.

I hope that each of you will find those quiet moments during the hustle and bustle of ribbon flying, paper tearing, and the sounds of laughter and excitement on Christmas day, to stop and take it all in.  To drink up the joy that surrounds you and tuck it away into your heart and mind for safe keeping.

So that this time next year, or 60 years from now, you'll be able to think back, and although you may not remember what shirt you got, or how many pairs of socks, you'll remember the feeling.  The feeling of love, contentment, and happiness that Christmas is supposed to bring.

I wish each of you Happy Memories and a Very Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Across The Miles

When you grow up in a military town, and have family and friends who have and continue to serve, the holidays take on a whole new meaning.

You become keenly aware that sometimes families are split apart during a time when family means the most.  That children sometimes unwrap gifts from someone as elusive as Santa some Christmas mornings.

And that the sacrifices made by so many often go unnoticed by those of us racing around to create the perfect family Christmas here at home.  I must admit that I am sometimes guilty of this as well.

But each year as I pull out my ornaments, for trees both big and small, I am reminded of those who are giving of their time, and time with family, so that I can celebrate Christmas as a free woman.

The Christmas cards will arrive as another gentle reminder that not all of us will be whole this year.  That someone will be missing from the table and not eating a home cooked meal but MRE's in the field.  And candles will light windows, not as decoration, but as a hopeful beacon to guide loved ones safely home in the future.

I don't always agree with my government or their policies, but that will never make my love for this country wane or make me stop supporting the men and women who so selflessly serve.  I hope that as we all rush around to complete those last minute details to make our Christmas merry and bright, that we will stop and take a moment, say a little prayer for all those around the world who are suffering and far from home tonight and every night, or those families who have lost loved ones.  May they feel our love, and find their way safely home!   And if you happen to see a soldier, be sure to thank them and let them know how much you care.

This video isn't about Christmas, but it is very touching...enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Might Be A Christmas Redneck If...and Other Outdoor Decor

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments about my dining room in my last post...I truly do appreciate each and every comment!

The last few days I've been outside in the cold and wind, both with the dogs and also trying to get my outside decor pulled together.  I always like to do something nautical on the exterior of our house since we live on the water, but this year I think I took it to a whole new "redneck" level!

You might be a Christmas Redneck decorate with crab pots!  Yup, I got this bright idea the other day when I was down by our dock and saw our empty crab pots, which are retired until summer rolls around again.  I thought, hey, wouldn't it be neat to tuck a tree into the pot and then put my glass fishing float (that was a gift from the lovely Caroline at Ekster Antiques) next to it?!  Of course Mr. Tide helped with this endeavor, I love a man who doesn't question my crazy hairbrained ideas...he just nods and helps me find a tiny cedar tree!

Of course you can't have a crab pot without a crab right?!  This beautiful rusty crab garden stake came from my dear friend Traci.  She sent it to me for my birthday this year, and I LOVE it and quickly found a spot for it in the front flower bed right by the steps.  Thank you Traci!!!

Mr. Tide also helped wrap the fragrant pine roping around the porch.  I love having fresh greens both inside and outside this time of just says Christmas is here to me!

I had hung several wreaths around the property earlier, but we added some pine roping to the fence as well to give it a more finished look.

While out running errands with my son yesterday I stopped by my grandparent's farm and grabbed some pine, holly, magnolia, and nandina berries to add to the porch.  Our property doesn't have many pine trees or magnolia, so I'm happy to still have a free source for some of my favorite greens!

Last year, I asked my sister if she knew where the old sleds we had as kids had gotten to.  We both agreed that they must be somewhere buried in the barn at the farm, but after searching tirelessly we came up empty handed.  

This year around my birthday my sister "M" informed me that she had something BIG that she wanted to give me and could she stop by one day to drop it off.  She had found not one, but 2 beautiful vintage sleds and I love how they look on my porch!  Now if I could only find my old ice skates to hang on one of them!!!

I love how glossy magnolia leaves are and how beautiful their bright green looks against the red nandina berries!

I also have a fresh wreath on my front door that I bought from a local Mennonite family.  They always have the best wreaths and they last for a very long time.  The one I chose for the front door has several pine cones sprayed white to resemble snow!

Tonight while I was doing other stuff, Mr. Tide graciously went out into the cold and wind to take a few pictures of our little crab pot tree.  I combined blue and white lights for a beachy feel.  The lights said they were blue, but they are really more of an aqua lucky was that?!

I strung white lights inside the crab pot itself, and believe me I have the scrapes on my hands to prove it.  Next year I'll wear leather gloves!  I also tucked more nandina into the top of the crab pot for a little added color.

I'm sure a few city slickers out there will be rolling their eyes at my little redneck creation, but hey I'm lovin' it!

And if you want your very own crab pot tree...the real deal, not a redneck sure to stop by The Painted Cottage!!!   Maybe next year I'll own one of these!

What decorations do you incorporate that could be considered a little bit country...or a little rock and roll?!