Living Room Christmas Decor

We are having a blizzard today. The first one of the season. I have been anxiously awaiting it’s arrival. 
I love blizzards.
Especially at Christmas.
Why? It means I can curl up on the sofa in front of the fire and knit for hours on end. It means I can loaf around and watch sappy Christmas movies on Netflix completely guilt free because I couldn’t go anywhere even if I wanted to.
Which, I don’t.
When the sappy movies are over, I can curl up with my cappuccino and read some even sappier Christmas mystery books, and maybe even take a nap.
My colors for this room are a sort of a kaleidoscope variety. So what if I have blue walls, a red sofa, mustard curtains and teal accessories?
I am only a little bit indecisive. 
I just want all the colors, it’s far to hard to choose which ones to use.
The rustic spruce tree sits in a wine barrel borrowed from the garden and filled with logs to hold it in place. 
The tree sports shades of silver, grey, blue, red, and teal. Plus the multicolored LED lights. 
Kaleidoscope Christmas colors.
Part of the Christmas decor includes a promise I made to our son who visited Alaska last summer.
The deal was, that polar bears must be included.
Do you know how hard it is to find polar bear ornaments?
These little guys accompany a favorite Alaskan souvenir.
One bear is caught in a storm at the North Pole. He doesn’t seem to mind. I know how he feels.
The other side of the room features my seasonal card holder frame, click here for more details on this project. My girl friend made the beautiful Christmas quilt. Stockings are from Lands End, there’s a story behind them, I will share that another day as well.
The blue chairs are a favorite place to sit and knit. Just a little secret between you and me, they won’t be blue much longer. 
Don’t tell my husband. He is color blind. He will never notice if they change. Honestly.
Keep the secret. They are soon to be part of a blog post in the near future. Okay?
My ugly blue chairs are balanced by the ugly Darth Vader fireplace and my cool Pottery Barn knock off lamp that I found for $6.00 at the Goodwill Store. Balance can be a good thing.
This is my office space. It is not decorated for the holidays. It is unorganized and not very pretty. I am hoping some super organizing blogger will come along and tell me exactly what to do with it. I wasn’t going to include it in this post, but sometimes a bit of reality is a good thing.
I have two more rooms to finish decorating, time is of the essence! I was supposed to finish it all today, but that blizzard just distracted me. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
More tomorrow!
Linking up today over at:

Confessions of a Plate Addict

Advent Calendar with Treat Bags

It’s a bit late for this post, but I am doing it anyway. Someone out there may need to be inspired to create an Advent Calendar even though it’s Dec. 4th already. Wasn’t it just July?
I am slow. Somehow things just sneaked up on me this year.
Is it sneaked or snuck? 
Never mind….
I found these little treat bags in the bridal decor area at the Dollar Store. I shopped for them for days, did you know little bags are hard to find????
I loved how perfectly they were sized. I spent last evening in front of the tv stenciling numbers on the bags with a Sharpie and filling them with treats. Somewhere between NCIS and NCIS LosAngeles I finally finished them.
Then I punched a hole in the top and added some colorful bakers twine and a bit of greenery.
I hung the bags on the chalkboard that is painted on the wall in our dining room. I found these beautiful crystal nail heads to hang them on. I love bling  it is so festive for the holidays!
My little white tree was a find at the thrift store. It sits in a metal tractor box which helps it stay upright.  
The tree seems to have a tipping problem, which is probably why it was at the thrift store.
That’s okay, I like it anyway. A few old shoes in the box help keep it in place. I knew they would come in handy some day.
My favorite chicken ornament watches over the calendar. Can you spot her?
Today, our youngest son was the first to claim the treats. We have the philosophy that the early bird gets the worm. It was early 7am, not bad for a teenager!
He claims that now, we are officially ready for Christmas. Other than the REAL tree, of course. 
That will be tomorrow’s project.
But first, I have to rearrange the living room.
There is always something going on!

Repost from the Archives: Thanksgiving Tree

I am busy eating a second turkey dinner today…so much to be thankful for this year! Enjoy this post from the archives.
I had intended to do a different post today. But I got side tracked on Pintrest. I found this clever idea for a Thanksgiving Tree and I loved it! I knew I had to include it in my 31 Days of Pintrest DIY project posts. But then………….
I happened to be surfing the web over at A Holy Experience, one of my favorite inspirational blogs, when I came across her version of this idea.
Photo from
And my heart melted right down to my toes. You see, Ann Voskamp’s Thanks Giving Tree has bible verses on the leaves. Each day you choose a leaf and write what you are thankful for on the back. Each day you read the words from scripture on the front of the leaves. These are the words that give you a reason to give thanks.
And my heart melted right down to my toes. 
Ann has that affect on me. 
She always takes things one step further, one step more than I would have thought to go.
I was prepared to spend hours cutting out little circles for the first tree. But Ann had already done all the hard work. She designed these free printable leaves with the bible verses on them. You can print out these free from her website. They are beautiful.
Ann always goes one more step further than I would have thought to go.
So we printed them off (it does take about 10 minutes to load), and cut them out for our Thanksgiving Tree.
We trudged through the fields to find just the right sticks for our tree and brought them home. We cut them out, wrote on our leaves, and put them on the branches. I added some fall decorations, and we stood back to admire it.
It was pretty, but it seemed like there was something missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first.
Then I saw it on one of the leaves, and I KNEW what we were missing. It was so obvious then.
And my heart melted right down to my toes.
I pulled out a little sign I had laying around the house and hung it above our tree. It was just what our Thanksgiving Tree needed. 
You see, we need to give thanks for all things, not just the good ones, but the bad ones as well. We needed to pray for our hearts to be changed by this activity. It’s not always easy to give thanks for all things, but with prayer we can change that and have a Thankful heart.
One of my friends posts what she is thankful for everyday during November on Facebook. That is how she gives thanks.
My great great grandmother’s name was Thankful Melissa Lorinda Dennison Dibble. No, I am not joking, her name really was Thankful. She was born in 1685.  I wish I could have known her. I wonder what sort of heart she had? I like to think that every time she saw or heard her name she gave thanks to God.  What a wonderful reminder it would be to have the word Thankful before you every day. 



And my heart melted right down to my toes.
Are you thankful today?

Repost from the Archives: Penelope Van Princis

This post has become one of my post popular. It is the true story of my relative Penelope Van Princis who was the only person ever to survive a scalping by Indians. She was truly an American Pioneer. Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the best things we have done as home schoolers is to study family history. History is so much more interesting when you have a personal interest in the subject. For years, we have researched and talked about the relatives, many of whom have such facinating character you could write a book about it. What little boy wouldn’t want to learn about Uncle George Baseball, Uncle Herold the Hermit or Great Grandpa Ives and his mysterious connection to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad? Family history is facinating stuff.

My Grandmother used to tell me stories as a girl of an Indian Princess in our family. I was facinated by her tale of the only woman EVER known to have survived a scalping by Indians. My Grandmother always had her mind, even at age 105, and I had no doubt that she knew her family history. But it wasn’t until I recently Googled “Penelope Von Princess” that this tale came to life for me. There is nothing like seeing it printed in front of you on the Internet, and suddenly a family fable has a basis in reality.

It was the year 1622. A baby girl was born in Amsterdam, Holland named Penelope Kent. She grew up, and married a Mr. Van Princen (some versions of the story say his name was Von Princess or Van Princis. Grandma had told me Von Princess and I am sticking with it. She would have never gotten Van and Von confused.), set sail with her husband for the New World in 1642. It was a long, dangerous journey by sea. Many of the passengers on board the ship became ill in their cramped conditions. A storm ship wrecked their vessel off the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1643. Although they made it to shore, it was not easy. Mr. Van Princen was already ill, and now injured. The small group of settlers didn’t want to remain on the beach for very long, fearing attack by the Indians. They were eager to be on their way to New Amsterdam (which is now New York City). Penelope could not convince them to stay where they were while her husband recovered, and the group soon left them to fend for themselves on the deserted beach. Somehow Penelope managed to move her husband into the nearby woods, looking for shelter. Shortly afterwards, the Indians did attack them. They killed her wounded husband, brutally slashed and scalped her, leaving her for dead.

Penelope was not dead, however. She was severely wounded, her left arm hacked so that it would never regain it’s usefulness, her scalp fractured, and her abdomen slashed so she actually had to hold her intestines in her body with her one good hand. She regained conciousness and dragged herself inside of an old hollow log for shelter. For the next 7 days she survived solely by eating mushrooms from inside the log. Eventually two Indians came deer hunting, and disovered her. The younger of the two men was eager to finish killing her off, but the older man would not let him. Perhaps he saw what a miracle it was she was still alive. He wrapped her carefully in a blanket, took her back to his wigwam, and nursed her back to health. Penelope ended up living with the Indians for several years before she finially finished her journey to New Amsterdam. (This is probably why the family story claimed she was an Indian Princess). Penelope remained friends with the Indians that had healed her, even after she returned to the colony.

Penelope later met her second husband Richard Stout in New Amsterdam in 1646. A few years after their marriage they moved to Middleton, New Jersey in 1648-1649. Despite her previous maming, Penelope and Richard had a total of 10 children. Penelope lived to be 110 years old, and had 502 total off spring by the time she died in 1732.

Wow, what a story! November is the month all the little kiddies begin to make Pilgrim costumes for the “Harvest Festival” and decorate pinecones to look like turkeys for the Thanksgiving table. It drives me crazy. What really bothers me is that we sugar-coat our heritage for our children. The Mayflower was not the only ship to sail across the sea. Thousands of settlers came her seeking refuge, but ended up suffering incredibly in the process. The bountiful Harvest did not miraculously appear on the Thanksgiving table, and the Indians who shared the feast were not one bit friendly. It amazes me the things these people went though. I would feel like packing it up and heading back where I came from. I can’t imagine inviting your enemies to dinner, sharing your only food, not knowing if they would eat with you, or have your scalp for dessert.

We should teach our children the other side of the Thanksgiving story. True faith, trust and forgiveness are present in this tale. Penelope must have wished she was dead while waiting for 7 days in that log. She must have had tremendous faith. I cannot imagine why she did not go insane from the pain she endured. She certianly would have feared the Indian man who took her and healed her. She wouldn’t have been able to understand his language to know he wasn’t going to harm her. Being moved to the Indian village alone must also been terrifying for her. Perhaps he was trustworthy, but what about the other Indians? He must have been incredibly skilled at healing, for her to bear so many children later in life. Wow, what an amazing true story. Much better than the happy go lucky stories on the seasonal Hallmark cards, don’t you think? This is what true legends are made of.

Enjoy discovering your Heritage this month.

Designer Mom

Update: My father recently discovered this Ripley’s Believe It or Not newspaper clipping among Grandmother’s things.

I love the verbage:

“Penelope Van Princis (1602-1712) After journeying to America from Amsterdam at the age of 18, was attacked by Indians, who killed her husband, fractured her skull, shoved a spear through her body and left her in the belief she was dead.

She spent 7 days in a hollow tree, survived to live another 92 years, and had 502 descendants when she finally died at the age of 110.”

Summer Bucket List Round Up

It’s time for the Summer Bucket List Round Up! Sorry I haven’t gotten to it sooner, it has taken me FOREVER to get around to writing this post!
For all those who were following our Summer Adventures and may have missed one, now is your chance to catch up! Click on the link below the teaser photo to read the posts that you may have missed!
Week one: We visited the local Botanical Garden.
Week two: We visited the Carnival.
Week three: We visited the Beach.
Week four: We were Hiking in the Rockies
Week five: We visited the Farmers Market
Week six: We went back in time at the Renaissance Faire.

Week seven: We checked out the County Fair.
Week eight: Found us on an Alaskan Mission
Week nine: We had a Fire Station Tour
Week ten: We went Bowling for Free.
Week eleven: We had a World Cheese Tour.
Hope you enjoyed the round up!