03 December 2011

Advent Wreath

I remember making Advent Wreaths every year when I was growing up. A centerpiece with some Christmas greenery, small colorful ornaments, and four white candles. We had a special ceramic ring for the wreath. The candles would be lit one at a time, on Sundays only. They were allowed to burn for about an hour, and then extinguished. The following Sunday two candles would be lit, then three, and finally, on Christmas Day, all four.

Not once have I seen a homemade Advent Wreath in this land I call home now. I never hear talk of the first, second, third, and fourth Sunday of Advent. Is it something that only happens in church, a place that I don't visit very often anymore? Or is the homemade Advent Wreath a European, perhaps even Dutch, custom? Is it just a Catholic thing? I am not sure. But I miss it.


I made my first Advent Wreath this year. I stocked up on my favorite candles during my visit to Holland, although an advent wreath was not on my mind when I bought them. Since they are quite burly, we burn the candle(s) every day when the sun sets.

My mom still makes her Advent Wreath in that ceramic ring. Mine is quite different but I am very happy to have this as a part of my family's Christmas traditions.

02 December 2011

Some Cause Happiness Wherever They Go

This quote by Oscar Wilde is written on a magnet adorning my fridge. The magnet is a picture of Santa Claus but it stays on the fridge year round. I was reminded of this quote a few days ago when Lola and I went grocery shopping.

Lola is practicing "Up On The Housetop" for her school's Christmas concert later this month. While we were perusing the aisles of the store, she was singing: "Ho ho ho, who wouldn't go? Ho ho ho, who wouldn't go? Up on the housetop click, click, click. Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick."

Loud and clear she sang these words, loud and clear for all to hear. I looked at the faces of the other shoppers as we passed them. And without exception, my daughter brought a great big smile to their faces.

Some cause happiness wherever they go. That's my Lola.

01 December 2011

Kids And Snow

At 6:30 this morning Lola was jumping around, ready to go outside because it had snowed last night, turning the world into a beautiful winter wonderland. Half an hour later she ran back inside, telling me she found deer tracks and I had to come out and take a look. It must have been a buck, according to Lola, that passed through our yard in the middle of the night. So there I was, just after 7 AM, checking out the deer tracks that look remarkably like cat paws.


Next she wanted to play with her sled. "Can I please have my sled back?" she pleaded. I had confiscated it to use in my little front porch winter styling project. I was just about to take apart my still life when I remembered we have another sled. Lola happily played with the bright orange plastic one, rattling on about unicorns and ponies.

Meanwhile I shoveled the snow from our front and back steps. We wouldn't want the plumber, who is scheduled to arrive in an hour, to slip and break something. I'll never be able to use the dishwasher then.

30 November 2011

The Great Christmas Book Countdown

Christmas books and advent calendars are two of my Christmas favorites. They always have been, ever since I was a child. I am hoping to pass these loves onto my daughter. Last year I made Lola a felt Christmas tree with twenty four ornaments, one for each day.

Of course we will be bringing the tree out again this year. But in addition to the calendar, there is a great big pile of gift wrapped books waiting for Lola. Every night, before she goes to bed, she can pick a Christmas book to read that night.


I spent all afternoon gift wrapping the books because, let's be honest, it's just more fun to tear off the paper and be surprised. And I did number the books because a) I am that type of person and b) I like reading "The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve.

Twenty five books I compiled, half of them found at garage sales this summer. Some we already had and the rest was picked up at bookstores and thrift stores. It is an eclectic collection of titles. This is what we will be reading the next three and a half weeks:

1. The Christmas Story
2. The littlest Christmas Elf
3. A Sesame Street Christmas
4. Madeline's Christmas
5. Frosty the Snowman
6. Little Fairy's Christmas
7. Kleine Muis viert Kerst (a Dutch book about a little mouse looking for the meaning of Christmas)
8. Merry Christmas Splat
9. Stories of Santa Claus
10. The Wild Christmas Reindeer
11. The Twelve Days of Christmas
12. The Nutcracker
13. A Letter to Santa
14. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
15. The Christmas Blizzard
16. Jingle Bells
17. Pooh's Christmas Gifts
18. Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (Don't judge, Barbie is cool! Especially since she underwent a breast reduction and took up acting.)
19. Snow Dance
20. Timmy's Gift
21. A Christmas Carol
22. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer shines again
23. Christmas Trolls
24. The Night before Christmas
25. The First Christmas

This idea is not mine, by the way. You can read more about it here. I don't think Lola and I will do a craft every day as well but I am thankful for the reading inspiration. If you know of a title we should add to the list, please tell me. This is a tradition we will be keeping for years to come, I'm sure.

My Gift

My Handmade Gift Exchange partner Heather surprised me with this beautiful vintage paper wreath. I love wreaths, especially around the holidays, but lack the patience to make them. It looks just lovely on the hutch in the living room. Thank you, Heather! And Merry Christmas.


22 November 2011

Handmade Gift Exchange

For Heather

Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous hosts a Handmade Gift Exchange twice a year. Last Christmas was my first time participating. I enjoyed it so much, I signed up again this year. I hope my gift exchange partner likes the felt heart garland I made for her. It was made with love.

I am sharing this on A Little Birdie Told Me at Rook No. 17.

Update: I wrote a simple tutorial that you can find on my other blog Dutch Girl Originals.

10 November 2011

Number Two

On my very first visit to my parents-in-law, I held and shot a gun for the first time in my life. Where I come from guns are illegal and public hunting is limited and considered elitist, to be honest.

I shocked quite a few people back home when I included in my newsletter this picture of a five month pregnant me, wearing camouflage and sporting a magnum. Surprisingly I was a very good shot. I even out-shot my husband.

Opening day of hunting season is coming up soon and this year I “chopped the knot” to use a Dutch expression and decided to join my husband, his dad, and his brother in the woods. Not to keep them company, no, I will have a stand of my own and a loaded gun by my side. Naturally I needed to practice shooting. Being a good shot five years ago with a handgun doesn’t mean I am a good shot today with a rifle. For all I know, it was the hormones controlling my aim.


I needn’t have worried. I am still a good shot. Apparently it comes naturally to me. But this time Ryan out-shot me by half an inch. And we found out that being out-shot all those years ago by a pregnant woman with no experience stung a little. He is very pleased to have righted this wrong and now lovingly refers to me as “Number Two”. But I know deep down inside he is very proud of me.

Of course, only time will tell if I can actually shoot a deer.

09 November 2011

Let It Snow

Inspired by a pin on Pinterest (which I could not trace to its creator - I'm sorry, I tried), I recreated Frosty the Snowman out of three grapevine wreaths, some burlap, and a piece of plywood cut in the shape of a top hat on the side of the garage. Lola looked on from the upstairs window, giving me the thumbs up when I finished assembling him.

For two days we have been promised snow, and contrary to what I said in my previous post, I was actually looking forward to it. It seemed a little unlikely with Monday being a gorgeous and sunny day with temperatures in the low sixties. And, even though it was a dreary and cold day, it didn't really surprise me that we didn't see a single snowflake all day yesterday or last night.

This morning the temperature had dropped even further but all it did was rain. Until thirty minutes ago...

Frosty the Snowman
I am sharing this on A Little Birdie Told Me... at Rook No. 17.

Update: a very basic How To can be found at Dutch Girl Originals.

03 November 2011

Winter Prep

I read on a fellow Wisconsinite's blog this morning that it snowed last night in her neck of the woods. [Gulp] Snow! I am not quite ready for it. I may be in full Thanksgiving preparation mode and Christmas is only 50 something days away, but I like the sunny fall weather we're having. I want it to stick around for awhile.

Reading about her snowfall sent me into a little cleaning frenzy. The bird feeders have been cleaned and filled. The last of the window screens have been taken down and brought in. The outside faucet has been shut off and drained, and the garden hose is safely stored inside the garage. Lola's wading pool has also been stored away. And as soon as I bring in the last of my garden herbs (I just don't know where to put them right now), the outside is done.

And since it was such a lovely day, and I was busy cleaning anyway, I washed most of the windows as well. Martha would be very proud, I'm sure.

31 October 2011

Halloween Rookies

To my surprise, I found out last Thursday that trick or treating in our town was not planned for the day itself, but rather Saturday afternoon from 1 to 5 pm. After recovering from the shock I realized it wasn't too big of a deal. I had already done my candy shopping, most of last year's decorations were still in tact, and Lola's princess costume was good to go. All we had to do was carve a pumpkin for Lola to bring to school on Friday. No problem.

The pumpkin turned out lovely. The Halloween parade at school where all the elementary school kids dress up and parents, teachers, and high school students come to watch, was the cutest thing you have ever seen. The decorations went up in time on Saturday. All but the black umbrella with the witch's tights. We'll save that one for next year.

While rummaging through the box, Lola found last year's witch costume and decided on a last minute costume change. Dressed as Winnie the Witch as she called herself, she and I set out on a gorgeous, sunny, and warm afternoon to join the kids already trick or treating in the neighborhood. We left Ryan to man the front door and dole out the candy.

This is the first time we celebrated Halloween at our own house. I had no idea what to expect as far as the number of trick or treaters we would see or how much candy I should buy. We live in a small town, 575 people including the three of us. How many kids could there be?

HUNDREDS!!!

I don't know where they all came from but they came to the house in droves. And we had nowhere near enough candy. Midway through I jumped in the car and raced to the store, dodging ghosts, ghouls, vampires, witches, and the occasional Green Bay Packer on the way. With arms full of toffee, chocolate, and lollipops, I returned.

After replenishing the bowl, Lola and I set off to scare the neighbors and local shop owners into giving her some more candy. We came back to find the front door locked, the lights turned off, and Ryan hiding out upstairs. We had run out of candy again. Instead of going out to buy yet more candy, we decided to join Ryan in his hideout.

Next year we'll do better. Happy Halloween!

19 October 2011

Off With Her Hair!

Photograph by Lola

Adventures Of A Housewife

You may have noticed it's been a little quiet around here lately. I know. It really bothers me, in fact. It's not that I have nothing to share, there is more than enough. There is a plethora of pictures to publish: the local fall festival, the pumpkin patch, Lola's field trip to the apple orchard. Ryan I have been to beautiful Bayfield to celebrate our fifth anniversary. We have visited family down South. We have all been sick over the past three weeks. And then there's the kitchen update. I am sure you would like to see what those lovely pee stained doors look like and if they've grown on me. Why yes, they have.

So why the silence? Because there is something I have to write about first, something I have been struggling with. I am looking for a new job. Why? Because I lost the one I had. About a month ago I was told my position had been eliminated, effective immediately. In fact, an entire layer of management would be cut out, I was told. Seeing that the casino is a bit top heavy in that respect, it makes perfect sense to me from a business perspective. From a personal standpoint, not so much. Enough said.

Dancing around that subject has caused me to clam up, save that one extremely frustrating kitchen cabinet door incident. I have started several posts, but haven't been able to finish a single one. Now that my secret is out, it should get better. So brace yourselves for lots of fall pictures. In between the job applications and painting projects, there is plenty of time to update you on the adventures of a housewife.

07 October 2011

Progress Report

Before we even moved into this house, we started working on the kitchen. I took down all the cabinet doors and drawers to transform the gloomy seventies look into a more modern one by painting them white. In the meantime Ryan ripped out the ceiling, painted the walls, and replaced the fixtures. The painting took a bit longer than anticipated. In fact, it is still not done. But, we are making progress. Sort of.

You know how they say "When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is?" After reading some rave reviews on the web, I decided to use Rustoleum's Cabinet Transformation kit. It contains everything you need for a complete cabinet make-over: a bottle of de-glosser (overpriced Spic & Span, if you ask us), a bond coat, optional decorative glazing, and the final clear protective top coat.

Supposedly two coats of the bond coat will turn those nasty dark tinted doors into fresh white colored ones. Not true. Even after three coats, you could still see brush strokes here and there. I was okay with that, though, and felt a fourth coat wasn't necessary. There is perfection and then there is completion.

We have 27 doors and 11 drawers. The doors were painted front and back, three coats on each side. 27 x 2 x 3 = 162. Add the 33 coats of paint on the drawers to that and you have 195 coats of paint. That does not include the 65 coats of the clear protective top coat still to be added, nor the painting of the cabinet frames. It's a lot of painting. A LOT. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have come to detest this project.

But the end is in sight. All of the doors and drawers are done, as well as half of the cabinet frames. But then. I found out the clear protective top coat is not really clear at all. It dries yellowish, like aged varnish. My white cabinet doors all have a stained, dirty look to them. Every single one, though some worse than others. As if someone peed all over the cabinets and did not wipe it off. It's hideous!

Can you spell F R U S T R A T I O N?

I am sure if you use a different color than white and/or apply the optional decorative glazing, there would be no problem. But we did not. We wanted simple white cabinets. Argh!!! I must say though, when I just walked downstairs to pour myself a cup of coffee, I was nice to walk into a kitchen with doors on the cabinets instead of on the dining room floor.

Perhaps the pee stains will grow on me.

08 September 2011

A Super Great Day

Ready for The Big Day
"It was a super great day!" Lola said to me when I picked her up at school yesterday. She loved everything about her school: her teacher, her class room, the new friend with the purple dress (Lola is horrible with names), recess, pizza for lunch, and no nap after lunch.

That's right, now that she's a kindergartener, she doesn't think she needs a nap anymore. When it was time to rest, Mrs. L. played a movie for the kids that don't take naps and Lola considers herself one of those now.

This is Lola at 6:30 PM. Out like a light on the couch while I was preparing dinner. She murmured something about being super hungry but try as I might, nothing could wake her up. 


Those super great days, they wear you out.

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