Tuesday, November 30, 2010

OH Christmas Tree!

Don't you know the day after Thanksgiving I was up my husbands "you know what" to get out and cut down our tree! If it wasn't for the fact that it would be a severe fire hazard by Christmas I would have had it up before Thanksgiving!

I really wanted a faux tree this year and I almost got the anti-faux-tree-man (that would be my hubs!) to cave but he JUST. WOULDN'T. DO. IT. He said, "fine, you can get a faux tree BUT only faux presents are allowed under the faux tree." (Wow, I just said "faux" a lot!)

Ok. So thats not gonna work...it seems our kids kinda like presents. The REAL kind.

But then I realized, my husband had just tuned up his chainsaw and that is when I saw the big picture...my big kid of a hubs just wanted to play with his toy! Eh! So I let him. But not without an hour long torture session of me tromping through mud and blackberry bushes and him trailing impatiently behind me trying to find the Pottery Barn tree that was engraved into my brain. (Where do they find such perfect trees?)

Funny thing is... I ended up picking the first tree I saw at the tree farm within the first 5 minutes of my search! But because I am me I had to look over the entire farm before deciding to go back to that first tree (murphy's law). My hubs was getting his panties all up in a knot because he was DYING to fire up his toy and I was taking FOR. EVER. I just kept saying to him "picking a tree is like picking a diamond ring, you gotta pick the perfect one!"...or at least I think so. And my mom too. And every other girl I have ever known.

Once I chose "The Tree" my honey lit up like a firework! All he wanted was to use that chainsaw. Which was fine, cause I think he looks awfully cute with large scary power tools!

By the way here is Mr. 6pack in all of his chainsaw glory...

and our tree behind him:)

I have it all decorated and purr-teed up on a budget of course! I decided to change all the ornaments this year to try out something new. I was kinda going for the sparkly, neutral, cream and silver look or as my mom called it..."girly." I will show it off on my next post when I can get a little more light in the living room to take pictures!

I do have to say, I am glad I went with the real tree this year because not only does it make my chainsaw-man happy but WOW! THAT SMELL! It just can not be duplicated by a glade plug in!

Hope you all are getting in the Christmas spirit!

Do you have your tree up?


Monday, November 29, 2010

Catching up to do!

I have not disappeared! I just took a mini vacation!

No I did not go anywhere.

My bestie from San Diego came up for a visit for 10 days and I wanted to devote 100% of my time to her. I had so much fun having her up and all we did was two things...

We ate.

And we shopped.

It was AWESOME! But now we are both kicking off our "back on track" eating and exercise habits today before she leaves back home this evening. I am strapping on my Bodybugg today to keep me on track and going back to weighing myself every single day (because I am obsessive like that and despite what people say about weighing yourself everyday and how it is not ideal, it works for me). I do have to say that we made it to the gym once and it made me really wish my bestie lived close to me because we work out really well together. We also plan on going today before she leaves just so we can officially say we kicked off our diets together! LOL. I cleaned out the fridge last night tossing out all the naughty holiday goodies that were still hanging around and today I will be restocking the fridge with all of my healthy foods! I am not used to so much eating out so I feel quite puffy and a little more tired than normal. It really is amazing how foods make you feel. 

We had a great Thanksgiving together and as usual I made a RIDICULOUS amount of food and snacked waaaaay too much on deviled eggs while I was cooking our family feast!

Here was our simple Thanksgiving table...

And while I cooked we enjoyed a little of this in our champagne!...

Isn't that the "Juicy Couture" of liqueur bottles?! It made the yummiest pink champagne!

This evening I say "goodbye" to my bestie. This is the part I hate the most about people visiting but at the same time it reminds me how important and valuable my friendships are. I have the most amazing circle of girlfriends a girl could ever ask for. They are like my sisters and I am so lucky to have all of them in my life. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas is popping up in the 6Pack house!

I have seriously gotten bit by THE BIGGEST Christmas bug ever! No joke, like the day after Halloween I wanted to start decorating for Christmas...but I didn't. I waited until a couple days ago so my husband wouldn't have me committed to the crazy house. I have not gotten everything out yet as I am doling it out in small doses, a little bit each day so I don't send Mr. 6Pack over the edge. He is one of "those" who thinks you should not start decorating until Dec.1st. He apparently isn't the one who organizes the holidays in this house...I want EVERYTHING done by the 1st so I can enjoy and savor the month of December.

 I am excited to show you a few things I have gotten up. This year I am keeping it simple. I want less clutter, more natural things around like garlands and holly branches. I have totally been inspired by Martha Stewart.com, Pottery Barn and Ballard and obsessively tearing out pages of catalogs and carrying them around the house with me. I have been having a blast! 

I have to start with this ceramic Santa. He has been in the family since I was a wee little girl, he sat under the Christmas tree every year while I was growing up and now he sits out of reach from my little guy and enjoys Christmas with our family. (Thank you mom!)

This year I had to tuck away our stockings that my husband's grandmother made out of felt because they were beginning to fall apart. I really liked the cable knit sweater stocking Pottery Barn had but I really wasn't feelin' the price tag at $40 a pop! I did find a pretty good knock off at Target for $10 each and hung a little snowflake ornament on each one.

Last year this red bird sat at the top of our Christmas tree, this year I have decided it will sit on top of the old birdhouse that my husbands grandmother bought for me while we went out one day for lunch and antique shop hopping! 

My daughter Lily (who also contracted the Christmas bug) and I made these easy-peasy ornaments together one morning. We just stuck some old sheet music through a shredder and stuffed some clear glass ornaments, tied a little black ribbon on each one and called it good!

I found this set of wooden candle holders at the Goodwill for $3...

And I also found this set of pewter candle bases at Goodwill for $7 that are from Illuminations (they still had the price tags on the bottom of $20 each!). I just set these hurricanes on top of them, added some garland and they are perfect for my buffet!...Wine anyone?!

Or would you prefer some hot chocolate?

I found a holly tree in the woods behind my house and cut a couple of branches and popped it into this vase! I added some glass beads and faux red berries for some sparkly goodness!

Inspired by Ballard, I painted this bucket that was hanging around the garage ivory and popped in some faux Christmas greenery & berries...

On the coffee table I used some old ornaments to fill this old vase. I made this Christmas book last year to put pictures of the kids with Santa inside, added a couple candles, some old garland and my coffee table has been Christmas-fied!

I am really looking forward to the holidays. My family is coming up for Christmas and my bestie will be here to celebrate Thanksgiving with us! I have not forgotten about Thanksgiving with all this Christmas mojo running through me...I am truly thankful for everyone and everything in my life. It doesn't matter if my home is decorated for fall or Christmas (or nothing at all), either way I am overflowing with thankfulness! I love the holidays, family, friends and traditions and I love making our home a comfy cozy cheerful place for everyone to gather and create memories.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas season!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Movie room (on a serious budget)...

Everyone knows my favorite places to shop by now. The thrift store, junk stores, the garages of fellow neighbors and of course places like TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Target, Ross and Walmart. But seriously one of the best places I have ever stumbled on to shop at was a model home sale. A model home in my neighborhood was liquidating at RIDICULOUS prices.

I am talking brand new stuff at yard sale prices.  

I went in and instantly bought a 5X8 area rug for $40 that still had the price tag on the back of it of $329. I left and took my rug home. I still wanted to go back. They had so much fun stuff left at great prices! Later that afternoon after they had closed I called the number on the door and spoke to the girl who was running the sale and I did what I always do...I stuck my neck out. Being that I had gone into that model home a million times because I am weird like that and I like to stalk model homes for ideas, I knew exactly what I wanted and since the model home had a similar layout to the house I was about to move into, I knew EXACTLY where everything was going to go. Back to sticking my neck out...I offered $100 for all of the downstairs prints, doodads and the little patio furniture set they had off of the deck. She said she would call me right back because she had to ask the builder. 10 minutes later she called back and said everything was mine and 30 minutes later she opened up the model home for me and I frantically hurried to gather my new stuff before they changed their minds! It was that good of a deal!! 

The theme of our downstairs family room is "Movie Room." I put some of the prints I got from the model home sale in there and after about of year of living here we purchased a new couch. Our last couch set that I bought used from craigslist had gone through several years of torture by the means of bottle leaks, sippy cup drips, diaper leaks, kid, teenager and husband abuse. I tried to find something used but it just wasn't happening so I decided to buy new. I went to the furniture store and because I knew in my mind exactly what I wanted it took me about 10 minutes to pick out my couch! My entertainment center was passed down to me from my mom and our leather ottoman was found at a liquidator store called Stupid Prices. I loved that place but they closed! I found the plum curtains at Ikea that came in a two pack for $19.99 which I say is a DEAL because we all know how expensive curtain panels can get! Now that everything is put together we have a big comfy movie room for the six of us. Family movie nights are our one #1 source of entertainment so I really wanted to pull together the room for all of us to enjoy.  I keep it clutter free and kind of boring because once we bust out the blankets, popcorn, guitar hero equipment and board games it becomes a mess in there!

These albums belonged to my grandma. Every Christmas she would play them on her record player! I love them (or the memories attached to them) so much I framed them (using my Michaels 40% off coupons of course!) and put them in the movie room!

What is a movie room without a big picture of Audrey Hepburn?!

Or some fun movie reels...

And movie posters...

My little guy loves this film camera light a little too much so I had to put it out of reach of his little hands!

That is it! That is our family room done on a budget! We all spend a lot of time in there and that couch is soooo comfy cozy! And like my entire home it is still a work in progress but for now it works, has everything it needs and is totally functional for our big family!

Hope you all are having a great week!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My tortilla soup recipe.

I started making this soup YEARS ago. Like when I was 19. Fast forward fourteen years and it has evolved into something that is more like a stew (or "stoup" as Rachael Ray would say). It is loaded with healthy yummy goodness and topped with yummy unhealthy fatness (moderation is key)! I have lots of memories surrounded by this soup as it feeds large crowds and when my BFF's come up from San Diego to visit me I am always requested to make my soup!  

And now I am sharing THE recipe:) Not everything has to be exact. If you like it more meaty, then add more! If you like more veggies, then add more of those! If you like it spicy, add more chile's. It is basically to taste. Just don't be fooled by the small amount of chiles and jalapeno, they pack a whole lotta heat! This is my general guideline...

3-4 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 medium red onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3-4 cups potatoes, diced (I use red, russets fall apart)
2  zucchini's, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 yellow hook neck squash, diced
4-5 tbs tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp chipotle chile en adobo, chopped (I pop the rest in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer for future tortilla soup making. It can easily be cut through frozen as you need it)
1/2 to 1 tsp diced pickled jalapeno (You can freeze and use just like the chipotle chiles)
1 tsp mexican oregano
1/2 to 1 tsp cumin

Toss all these ingredients into a stockpot and cover with chicken base/broth (base has a lot better flavor and I always use Knorr Caldo con sabor de Pollo). Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until carrots and potatoes are done. Salt and pepper as needed. Taste and add whatever you think is needed...more heat? add more chiles. More flavor? Add more tomato paste, chicken base and cumin. When it is done cooking add the juice of one lime and small handful of chopped cilantro.

While it is cooking make some white rice (for the health nuts out there, brown rice does not taste good as an alternative. I suggest moderation for the white rice if your afraid of it!) and fry your corn tortilla strips. 

For your toppings you will need:

Fried homemade corn tortilla strips (I have given out this recipe and people have use tortilla chips...DON'T DO IT!)
Chopped cilantro
Shredded jack cheese
Sliced avocados
Mexican sour cream

To assemble your bowl of deliciousness...Place a couple of spoonfuls of white rice at the bottom of the bowl. Ladle soup over the top. Then top with the toppings! 

If you decide to give this recipe a whirl let me know what you think! Just FYI, this soup freezes well so if you have lots of extra then freeze it for a later use. 

Hope you all have a great weekend~

PS. I totally just ate that bowl of soup that I took pictures of above...for breakfast! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Putting together the master bedroom on a budget...

I love being a cheap. If there is anything I want or need you better bet I have a coupon, will find it on clearance or find it used somewhere. My obsession with being thrifty is how I put together our master bedroom (as well as the rest of the house) and has also become my #1 hobby! 
When we first relocated from San Diego to Washington we came from a 1050 (yes you read it right) square foot home to a 1900 square foot home. Down south you can get away with having a small house because you can literally live outside year round. Our front and backyard was always an extension of our home. It is not so much like that here in the north west! When we first got here we couldn't believe the space we had just moved in to. IT FELT HUGE. We were obviously new in town! LOL! We quickly learned that being cooped up for several long, dreary, cold, wet months that the six of us needed more space. Luckily for us we had the opportunity to move across the street in to our current home THAT IS HANDS DOWN MY MOST FAVORITE HOUSE WE HAVE EVER LIVED IN. Going from a three bedroom house to a four bedroom house and then to a five bedroom house has been a dream come true for our big family! Everyone has their own space, we don't feel packed like sardines anymore and best of all we all love it here...not just for the house but because we have a great neighborhood.

One of my favorite rooms in the house is our master bedroom. It is nice and roomy for Jason and I. It looks over the wooded green belt that has a creek that runs through it. At night we leave our windows open so we can hear the water running through the backyard. It is so peaceful. When we first moved here we had a hodge-podge of old things that was schlepped from house to house. When we finally decided it was time for a room makeover I hit the internet and scoured good old craigslist for weeks until I finally found our master bedroom set. I was the first one to call and got it for $500! The original price tag was over $4000 because it came from Basset Furniture. The owner "just wanted something new." 

I say "Score for us!"

I really wanted to soften the look in the room by keeping the curtains light. I didn't want to take away from the gorgeous view outside either! So I found these "Ritva"curtains at Ikea that came in a two pack of panels for only $19.99. I picked up the rods and clips at Walmart and I love the way it turned out. 

Here is "her" side...

And here is "his" side...
(I caved on the TV so we could snuggle up and watch movies but I put my foot down on having cable in the bedroom. I am just not a fan of having a TV in the bedroom).

My little bargain jewelry box I found at Target on after Christmas clearance for $15 that just so happens to match pretty well...

On top of that I put this old German bible I found at an estate sale that was in a box marked "free." It is from the mid 1800's. It makes me wonder about the person who brought it to the states...

The rest of my odds and ends came from various places. My duvet is about four years old and I scored it on ultra clearance at Pottery Barn. My lamps and cream quilt are from good old Walmart and my little perfume tray is from the Goodwill. It was a tacky gold color but it was nothing a can of black spray paint couldn't fix! The little candle holder above the bed was from Target (it is my Pottery Barn knock off!). 

I like it in here...it is quiet and calm. It is my little hideaway when all the kids are in bed and I want to snuggle up with a Nicholas Sparks book by candlelight:) I tried to keep things neutral, simple and un-girly for the hubs, although I did manage to sneak in a little zebra print on the bed! Best of all it was easy on the wallet to achieve the feel I was looking for. It just took some time, patience and elbow grease to get there. I am constantly inspired by so many wonderful bloggers out there who give me so many ideas and keep my wheels spinning! This room is still a work in progress. I have a few more things planned but for now its all good and I love it!

Hope you all have a great week~

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall photo shoot drama.

You know I am pretty lucky.
My kids are (for the most part) always well behaved. I would say 10% of the time they act up. 
Yesterday they decided to be that 10% during a span of 20 minutes while I wanted to do a little photo shoot with them in Camas underneath the beautiful fall trees.

Let me explain how important this was to me...

#1. It was a beautiful sunny day.
#2. There was no wind.
#3. The leaves were all falling and on the last few days of looking their best.
#4. I repeat: It was a beautiful sunny day!
#5. THIS IS A RARE OPPORTUNITY for us NW people.

For some reason they didn't care as much as I did and they all decided to morph back into two-year-olds yesterday. It went something like this...

Me:  "I am trying to learn MANUAL on my camera guys!"

Them:  (Eye ball roll) "Can you just push the button?"

Me:  "Don't roll your eyes at me!"

"SNAP" goes the camera.

Kids as they are scattering away:  "Are we done? This is BORING!

Me: "Grrrr! JJ has his eyes closed! Do over!"

Them:  Huff, puff, grumble, sigh, eye ball roll, standing limply with fake smiles plastered on their bored faces.

Me:  "Come on! Everyone say Daddy has stinky feet!!"

No response & eye ball roll.

Me:  "OK I am done."

Them with big (real) smiles on their faces:  "Yaaaay!! Lets go home!"

I did get a few snapshots that I am thankful for because getting them to cooperate yesterday was harder than getting them to the dentist to get teeth pulled. Usually they are good about pictures. Yesterday...not so much.  It would be because the outdoor setting was perfect and I had to think about how to use my camera. Murphy's law I suppose.

Here are a couple of my favorites!

This is JJ's face while waiting for sisters 1, 2, and 3 argue about who was going to stand where...

One of the few where everyone has their eyes open, is looking at the camera and is smiling at the same time...

Trying to make little brother laugh!

So cute! There is always one in the bunch not looking! LOL...

And my favorite of all...

Motherhood brings forth so many challenges.  Challenges that test your patience, anxiety, frustration and ability to "let go" while they are making you feel all of this. I hope they don't challenge me anytime soon! Don't get me wrong...I love and adore my kids but I will be the first to say "They and I are not perfect!" We are just a normal family with everyday ups and downs!

Until next time...

Have a great day~

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kids Art Wall...

Last night I was laying in bed with my kiddos watching Toy Story 3 (um, by the way it made me cry! whatever Disney!) and one of the characters says "you made the art wall!" and that is where I go "OH! I am totally going to blog about my art wall!" And my kids are all "Mom, your so weird, you blog about everything. You would probably blog about a pair of dirty socks!" (Note to self: "Dirty Socks") So here goes another post that randomly popped in my head!

I had this blank wall in my house for almost a year. The wall is in the stairway that leads down into our daylight basement. For awhile I just had some random pictures leaning against the wall until I could figure out what the heck I wanted to put there. That is the thing about decorating a space that gives you a total brain fart...you just gotta leave it alone until you can figure it out! This requires me to have patience...the "P" word is VERY hard for me. As I get older I am realizing that patience is a good thing and when I don't rush things usually it turns out better than I first anticipated. I just gotta "leave it be Kama!"...as my husband would say. 

 I decided that for this awkward smallish wall in a dark space I was going to make it an art wall for some of my favorite pieces of artwork my kiddos have brought home from school over the years. I was so excited when I finally figured out what I wanted to do with this wall that I went straight to Craft Warehouse to get my frames. And because I am a magnet to clearance deals I got them all on clearance!

As soon as I got home I started digging through 13 years and 4 kids worth of art projects, stories they had written, cards they had made me, turkey hand prints, poems and glittered pine cones. I would say this project was THE BEST project I have ever done! It made me so happy to pull out all of that stuff. It also made me a little sad (sigh) because my kids are growing up so fast. My oldest is driving now and going to school full time at Clark College to finish high school with her associates degree. My daughter Tierney just started high school and my sweet little Lily is just now phasing out all of the "baby & kid stuff" and moving on to more things that are "tween-ish." BUT thankfully I still have one in pre-school! My little guy not only brings me home flowers and rocks from school (with a giant smile on his face as he exits the bus into my arms) but he is still bringing me home hand prints, painted lunch bags and papers with cotton balls, foam pieces and random shape cut outs glued to them. I LOVE IT ALL AND I SAVE IT ALL! So I had a lot to sort through!

In the end it turned out exactly how I wanted it and every time I walk past it it is like a little flashback. The hardest part was trying to measure and keep everything balanced while hanging it up. It is such a small wall that I had to keep everything equally placed. I was glad when I was done putting it together!

(Er, sorry about the poorly lit basement stairwell!)

See what I mean? Small and odd shaped!
But look how cute those little hands look up there all in a row...

I chose a hand print from when each of the kids were 5 years old, cut it out and glued it to white card stock. I wrote their name under each hand print. I also wrote their name on each art project so they would know who's was who's!

When I pulled this one out of the Rubbermaid box I did this all at once: gush-laugh-tear-sigh!
It is by my oldest daughter. She made it in kindergarten. It is a drawing of her in a Halloween costume that my husband's grandmother made her (who is no longer with us). It also goes to show that the kid is a born cheerleader! Cheering at age 6 and still cheering for her high school at almost 17!... 

I love our art wall:) It makes me smile every time I walk past it and it makes vacuuming the stairway a lot more bearable! It was also a bargain of only $40 for frames on clearance and FREE art work!

Thanks for checking out my post! I hope I have inspired you to showcase some of your kids' art work. One of my next posts will be to show you all what I did with the rest of the art work and school work that was stashed away in the old Rubbermaid box! I organized it all!!

Have a great day~

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Twice Owned Tuesday!

So everyone knows I LOVE me some yard sales and Goodwill!
Whats not to love about secondhand? Its good for the planet, its good for the wallet and its good for the treasure hunters soul! It is so fun to find the perfect thing for your home, have people "ooh" and "ahhh" over it and then say something like "I got it at the Goodwill!" I think with creativity and elbow grease everyone can have champagne taste on a beer budget.
I love the motto that the Duggar family (on TLC) goes by...

"Buy used, save the difference!"

I have linked up for the first time to Bonnie's blog over at House of Grace for her "Twice Owned Tuesday" blog party. What a fabulous idea for the all of us treasure hunters out there to show off our scores!

I decided to do this little table and mirror set...

Both of which were "twice owned" and FREE! The table was free from a yard sale that my friend Suzin found while she was up here visiting from San Diego and shopping the yard sales. The mirror was a hand-me-down from my friend Becca. She gave it to me years ago. With a little black spray paint (I like Design Master's flat black) it is now a cute little matching set for my daughter's bedroom!

All it needs is a cute little chair (that I am patiently searching for). 

I hope you all are having a great week...I have the itch to go to Goodwill today! Wish me luck on finding treasures!!

Hope you come back to see my finds...