O’Christmas Tree

We have Always done a traditional Christmas tree.  ALWAYS!

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2008, our artificial tree.

2009 tree

2009, our same tree.

2010 tree

2010, our first real tree.

2012 tree

2012, another real tree.

The last few years though our trees are not lasting and the are making a horrible mess. I am also highly allergic to them but the family wanted a real tree and I gave it a shot.

Last year I was miserable for a month and every time I touched the tree I broke out in hives. This year we gave the tree thing some heavy thought. We didn’t want to go with a real one and put me through misery. Buying a nice artificial one would cost a couple hundred dollars and money is tight.

What to do what to do?!?

I asked the kids if we HAD to have a tree. The 22-year-old could care less. The Monster Child (11 years old) told me “mom, it is not about the tree”. The one that threw the fit was the 16-year-old Diva Child. She said it would not be Christmas without a tree. I think she is stuck on the materialistic side of this.

We need a tree, but not spend a fortune and make me sick. Our answer…………….. Lowes and Pinterest.

I searched Pinterest and came up with a few idea for nontraditional trees. We narrowed it down to these.

Light Tree

Wall Tree

Tomato Tree

Alternative Tree

We settled on a design (the last one) and went to Lowes to shop.

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Everything we needed to make our tree was in this cart. We decided not to do the bottom like he did and had to come up with an alternative. That took up almost an hour at Lowes. Finally we settled on landscaping tubing and sand.

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First we had to cut the tubing to the right size base we wanted. Monster Child helped with the math.

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Next came the sand, did you know that at Lowes the bagged sand is half off? Yep! We filled the tube with sand and moved it around so that it was even.

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That left us with ugliness. How was I suppose to make this pretty?

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A nice roll of gold mesh will do the trick.

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We wrapped it and put our tree skirt under it, to make it feel like a tree according to the kids.

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Next we had to figure out the center of the circle. Once we did this we screwed in a plant hanger hook. From this we hung a small embroidery hoop.

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Next we screwed in 16 little hooks to string the lights.

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Then we started stringing the lights, started at the back. We went up through the hoop and back down across to the next small hook and back up to the hoop. It took 12 strand of lights to do this all the way around and another trip to Lowes. I recommend using the smaller strands as you don’t have to try to pull a large strand through the hoop.

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This is the end of the light part. I know there are two different colors of lights but a few years ago the stopped making the lights in pure white and went to a dim yellowish light. Deal with it.

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Our tree topper has been a bow for a few years and it worked nicely to cover the hoop at the top. It lights up too.

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I felt the tree wasn’t done and went and bought garland.

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I strung the garland in between the light strands. I like the finished look.

Only thing is that we can’t hang ornaments per say from the tree. I have a  Rubbermaid full of pretty ornaments. What to do?

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I made a wreath!

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I couldn’t get the ribbon to work, so I cheated on the bow and hot glued it together.

Peace, Love, & Cupcakes

Shannon

 

 

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Smal Victories

Saturday I worked in the backyard for two hours. That is all my husband would allow. I don’t have much to show you because I was totally embarrassed with how it looked before.

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I did manage this, two pots buried for my tomatoes. I added the lattice-work for the tomatoes to go somewhere.

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We cleaned up the area where we put our trash cans. Years of kids not getting things into the trash cans and the raccoons getting into them had made a mark. Now the area is clean and free of debris.

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We even cleaned out the area under the steps. We are going to put a mini deck under there and put an outdoor dog bed there for our dogs to chill out.

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That is part of what we moved out. Oh and we found a family of mice. One child wanted to kill it and the other wanted to keep it. We named it “you don’t live in my backyard” and set it free in the woods. It was just my husband and I cleaning up, the kids didn’t offer to help.

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Sunday found us in this corner of the yard. it was a freaking mess. A raised garden bed that never took off. A garden bed around the deck that next amounted to more than weeds. We had all hands on deck, four of us, for this cleaning project. The hubby and I decided that they didn’t get a choice in the matter. They helped to mess it up, they can help to clean it up.

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This is what it looked like 3 hours later. Amazing what a little teamwork can do. Still want to take down the dish today.

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We moved the raised garden bed and it is almost ready for planting.

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I even let the 15-year-old girl work a drill! She is better at using a power tool than scissors. Where did I go wrong?

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We also moved some things around. We moved the shutters to behind the rose bushes I planted. We added two stumps to the top of the steps. We are going to get solar lights, drill holes in the tops and have lamp posts.

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I also took down my teacup bird feeders I made last year off the trees. I moved them to the stumps and filled them.

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Today they are empty, because that little guy told EVERYONE there is bird food in the backyard.

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Zen is coming to my garden and backyard!

I am this  point in my life when you realize you need a pain reliever to move from doing yard work the day before.

~Love, Peace, and Cupcakes~

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Thrifty Thursday 3.20.14

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Today is Thrifty Thursday over at LWSP. I have a great way to improve your outdoor life.

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With today being the first day of spring I am going to share my cheap planters. I made these planters for free! I will say that it requires a bit of muscle and time, but I love mine!

Here is what they look like finished.

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Now how to get there. We had some tires with the rims off an old car and I wanted to reuse them.

I drew scallops on the tires with chalk and we cut them out with a knife and a jig saw.

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*If you can push this in easily, the tire will be easy to invert. If you cannot push this in easily, move on to another tire. You may need to check several tires before finding one that is suitable. It does NOT matter if the tire is steel belted or not. The steel wires are only in the tread, which is not cut in this process.

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Cut from almost to the tread (where the steel belts start) and almost to the center hole.

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*NOTE: Cut AWAY from yourself in case the knife slips.

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Turning the tire: this is kinda tricky – turn the tire inside out. Stand the tire up, cut side away, and push in the “soft spot” with your knee, while pulling back with your hands. If it doesn’t invert easily, try again, putting your knee in a different spot.

Once the tire has started going inside out, take your time to pull and push the rest of the tire, all the way around. Do it a little at a time, and it will go faster. Don’t sweat it at first, just keep trying – it will work!

I am not going to lie, turning this thing inside out was hard. It was a harder tire and took us over an hour to turn.

Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this process because it was really funny and I was too busy standing on the rim and being jostled around and laughing to be able to take pictures anyway.

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We did it! We were sore for days, because the first one was a learning process!

Once they are inside out, I started painting…

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I used spray paint on the rims and tire I had laying around …

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I made mine two toned….

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When they were dry, I moved them out front and filled them with dirt…

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*I put pieces of old window screen in the bottom to keep the soil from falling out.

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People always ask where I got these and are very surprised when they find out the are tires!

Challenge #2 Organizing the Kitchen

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Ok, So I didn’t win the desk challenge. But I was extremely happy with my progress. Was I disappointed? Yes! Did I think about quitting? Yep! But I am here and while I don’t have a ton of time this week to do things in the kitchen I will tell you what we have done in the last week or so to change our kitchen.

Please remember that I am a pastry chef and my kitchen is my haven. This area has to work for me and no one else.

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Again, I have a Habitat for Humanity home and so they only give you enough space to live with. We have no dishwasher (no place for one), counter space is limited, and I share the kitchen with my dining area. When we moved in I think I put everything on the counter.

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My kitchen went through lots of changes over the last 13 years.

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First, changed the floor three times. And I should tell you it is going to go through another change later this year to tile. The half wall is something I put in all by myself about 10 years ago. It creates a buffer between the eating and the living part of the house.

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The walls have been an array of colors and design. The dining area is currently what we are staying with. The tile is staying as the backslash but I am painting the strip above the cabinets white in a few weeks.

Back a few months ago I built a rustic island for added storage in my kitchen. I  will post how I did that this weekend.

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Now, on to the projects I have done recently. I recently painted my cabinets on the bottom from the boring golden brown to a gray color. I am painting the top cabinets next weekend, I am a camp cook this weekend. I lined the shelves and drawers with a pretty contact paper. And thank goodness Missouri has weird weather and I had a good day to sand down the doors and paint.

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I also took off the outlets last week and added some bling to my covers. I saw this on Pinterest. I added Scothgaurd to these before replacing these to help them last longer.

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Inside my “baking cabinet” I added two strips to hang some of my vital tools of the trade.

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I also had an Amazon credit from selling back some textbooks and I bought these little spice jars with magnets on them. I forgot I had bought these months ago and found them in a closet I recently cleaned out. I had a thin piece of metal I bought for another project and I had the correct screws to attach it under the counter.

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I also redid the dining area wall a few weeks ago. here are the before and after. Sorry my flash wasn’t up. I hate this Nikon camera.

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I added that bookcase to hold all my cookbooks. Yep I have that many, it really is sad. That shelf under the calendar will be getting a makeover soon and it will be stained black and have tiles on them to hold cups so we don’t go through a million cups a day.

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Here is my kitchen today as it stand. Yes, I know there are dishes in the sink. Not my job….. waiting for 14 year to home from school.

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This is the last image I will leave you with. I got this quote last summer and kept it until I found the perfect place for it. It is one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Seuss. It is our family motto and we live by it. The bag is supposed to be there, we put our recyclable there.

I promise to have blog post this weekend on these projects.

 

New Year’s Organizing Revolution: Challenge #1 – Office/Desk Area

I am doing a challenge over at Organizing Made Fun and this week is the Office/Desk area. You can find out more by following the link. You can also see more pictures of my challenge at Pinterest by going here.

New Years Organizing Challenge Banner

We have a small home, 1600 sq feet in total. We fit 5 souls in this house, we make things work. We don’t have an “office”, heck I don’t even have a master on-suite, but I have a corner of my living room that has a desk. It is not really a desk either, but we use it as a desk. A few years ago I worked for Pottery Barn and got things at a great price! This was a sideboard table that I bought scratch and dent and then got my discount on top of that. It works well for what we need.

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This was a unique challenge for me since the day before I took this photo we took down the tree, cleaned the desk off, and moved back to the corner of the room. Usually this desk is a dumping ground and not for me, it is all my husband. I have a laptop and rarely use the desk, except to blog and do bills. But here is what it looks like on a typical day.

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Here is the one and only drawer and sometimes to open or shut it requires a magic trick in itself.

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The papers run over and our bills are out there for all our friends and family to see, wonderful!

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So, I took the challenge and got sidetracked along the way. I started this on New Year’s Eve morning and went downstairs to get the bulletin board and then decided I needed to totally rearrange my bedroom. That is a whole other blog post in itself. I finished this desk challenge last night, New Year’s Day.

Now this being January and I am on a no spending challenge, I needed it to be a project where I spent no money. Everything that I do for this challenge and the other challenges needs to be from items that are around my house. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

First, I cleaned out the drawer completely. Then I went on a search for something to put in the drawer to organize it. Being a baker I go through 5 dozen eggs in a week easily! I have all these crate/cardboard egg holders laying in my basement for random projects or till my husband finds them and recycles them. I thought this would be the perfect size for one side of the desk to trap all the little floaters that swim around in the desk drawer.

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As you can see I have rubber bands, coins, staples, paperclips, thumb tacks, finger nail clippers, batteries, stamps, chap-stick  USB thumb drives, glue stick, micro mini cards, and stylus pens in this system and they are all easy to find now and they don’t move around the drawer.

In my drawer I also decided to keep only things that would be needed in this area, extra cords for DS game systems and random other things would have to find a new home. I have my note cards, stapler, 3-hole punch, post-it notes, external hard drive, and misc office supplies all put away nicely in the drawer. I have a few cords that I kept in a small black bag with a pull cord to close it. That box has pencils in it since those are a rare thing in our house, I keep them well guarded.

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Next, I worked on the desk top itself. We had this three slot organizer that was never organized. NEVER! What is the point than? So, I changed some things up. A few days ago I made my home management binders (I will post that blog tomorrow) and I have 4 of them all together.

Binder one- is strictly for my father-in-law. He recently lost his wife, who took care of everything and has left him and my husband in a foggy haze about bills and important papers. I have all his important information at the tip of my fingers now. Binder two- has our family calendar, cleaning, menu planning, to-do lists, contacts, and holiday traditions. Things to help an outsider or my husband run the house, if something was to happen to me. Binder three- has a section for each member of the house and all their important info, car information, pet information, home inventory items (DVD, book, and items with serial numbers), and home maintenance items. Binder four- is for the budget and bills. I put current bills in here, along with any coupon payment books we have. I have moved the bills from the unorganized organizer to the 4 handy-dandy binders.

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As for the three slot organizer, I have put my red blog notebook in the back, empty envelopes in the center and address labels (in an envelope) and out going mail in the front slot. This makes this work for us a whole lot better.

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The last thing I tackled was the wall/corner wall in the desk area. Some time ago and on another blog I can no longer access, I wrote a blog post about a Pinterest project I found and made. I found the original pin that you can find here on how to make this bulletin board.

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I added these little post it notes, I forgot I bought months ago at the dollar area at Target.

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I hung my Le Cordon Bleu medal in the corner. It means a lot to me and my family, that I earned that medal and it was a hard-fought road to travel. It hangs there to remind us all that the outcome is well worth the rocky road you must travel to get there.

I also moved around two shelves and used some Command strips to hang a dry erase board that was doing nothing on my fridge. to the small wall. The lower shelf current holds my camera and a Chewbacca doll, don’t ask! I was using the camera, that is why it is not on the shelf.

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The last thing I did was to add a few small nick-knacks that have special meaning to us as a family to the shelf above the computer. Ganesha, he is popularly worshiped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.We can all use a little help removing obstacles so that is why he sits there.

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So this is what my desk looks like now…….

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Cluttered home, cluttered mind?

I feel like my house is a disorganized hot bed of messiness just waiting to explode. I feel like every little bit I get ahead, it puts me ten steps back. Just when I think I have something all settled down, a spark lights it all back up. It doesn’t help that my family just doesn’t care and figures mom will fix it or clean it.

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I was on Pinterest and found some great sites for organizing my home. I came across one site and thought to myself ……. hmmmm yes you could do this or at least look at all the great pins and think about doing think. What?!? I am being totally honest about this. Besides she made her blog sound interesting and fun.

New Years Organizing Challenge Banner

 

She gives you a nice little calendar you can print off and put on your fridge to help you through the week, or serve as a nice piece on your refrigerator and make people think you are doing it. But than that creates a whole new problem as they will want to see your progress. So, you might as well print it of, do the things each week, and be proud of yourself at the end of the month. Who knows you might win some prizes!

So, This whole new organization room by room starts on Monday, December 31, 2012. I know, I know…. not the new year…. get over it.

Are you in or out?

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