Wrapping Up November With Thanks and Joy

Season’s greetings! Is it too early to say that? I’m in the Christmas spirit early this year, and genuinely want to share with everyone the joy this time of year brings to me.

An Easy and Special Thanksgiving

gathering greenery

We had a happy Thanksgiving. This year, we stayed in town and celebrated with my husband’s side of the family who live in town, too. Not traveling or hosting allowed us to make the day our own, and it was a day that really did remind me that there is so much in my life for which to be thankful.

Knowing that I needed greenery to make Christmas decorations, my husband surprised me with a special plan when Bitsy and I woke up Thanksgiving morning: we would be going to a friend’s horse farm to gather greenery. We dressed and got coffee on the way. It was a beautiful morning: sunny and mild, just cool enough for a sweater or light jacket. The farm looks beautiful in the fall, with all the colorful leaves and the evergreens getting their time to shine.

gathering greenery fun

Bitsy had a wonderful time. We watch her closely but give her plenty of room to play. At one time, we were in a fenced-in area where we could gather holly branches and let her explore. She walked alongside us and played her heart out. By the time we finished gathering, she was falling asleep in my arms. I got great exercise carrying her and the baskets full of branches, leaves, and pine cones!

farm finds

A Simple Sidedish: Kale Salad With Apples and Dried Cranberries

We came home in time for me to prepare the simple side dish I was bringing to Thanksgiving dinner: a kale salad with warm cranberry vinaigrette. All I had to do was wash and tear the kale, cut a couple Honeycrisp apples into thin slices, and prepare the vinaigrette (olive oil, garlic powder and 2 cups of dried cranberries, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of honey, juice & zest of half a lemon and half an orange, a pinch of brown sugar, and salt & pepper to taste) in a sauté pan, massage the kale with olive oil for about 90 seconds, then toss in the cranberry vinaigrette mixture and top with the apple slices and pecans. Bitsy napped the whole time I was preparing it–something else for which to be thankful! Those who like kale loved the salad, and those who don’t ate some to be polite 🙂 What more could I ask for?

My Most Precious Blessing

This was Bitsy’s second Thanksgiving, but the first since she started eating table foods. She loved the food, and had a wonderful time playing with cousins and made new friends with my sister-in-law’s brother-in-law’s children who are close to her age. She ran played, squealed, and laughed with the purest joy until she was all tuckered out.

And the Prettiest Sight You’ll See is the Holly that Will Be On Your Own Front Door

Christmas wreath

I’m usually not one to put up my Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. I like to wait until it’s officially Advent to even begin decorating for Christmas. Beautifying my home with Christmas decorations is part of my observance of Advent. “Make your homes fair as you are able,” says my favorite Advent hymn, “People Look East,” as we prepare for the coming of our greatest Christmas guest, Jesus Christ. This year is different because I’ve already collected all of this beautiful fresh holly, pine, and magnolia, and must go ahead and put it to use. I made my wreath and put it on the front door Saturday, and we are all enjoying it. For this one, and most Christmas wreaths I make, I used a metal wreath form, attaching the pieces with floral wire. Whenever I hang a wreath, Bitsy likes me to open and close the door so she can keep getting a look at it. I have plenty left over for more decorations, so I’ll be pretty busy decking the halls.

Loving the Fall and Looking Forward to Winter

It’s still fall for a while longer, but starting to feel like winter. Just a couple weeks ago we were enjoying the pleasant days of early fall, with lots of playing outside. I guess it wouldn’t be right to skip through the season without the obligatory toddler-playing-in-leaves blog post, so here we are having some family fun time outdoors a couple Sundays ago:

The day was still warm enough for bare feet, especially for my child who hates to wear socks and shoes.

leaves on porch

After helping Daddy with a little yard work…

approaching leaves

…it was time to play in the crisp dry leaves.

in the leaves xi

in the leaves 6

in the leaves xii

in the leaves xiv

Bundling Up

Now that the cooler weather is here, I’m happy we get to start wearing our coats and sweaters. I love this trench I got from Stitch Fix (this link will get each of us $25 off when you sign up and order your first box!) I got it two years ago, but it’s such a classic and high-quality piece that it should last me for years to come.

beforeMass Missal for Toddlers

Something to Read

In this pic we were just getting ready to leave for Mass. The book you see in the picture,  A Missal for Toddlers, is a recent purchase I’m so glad I made. Bitsy loves the book (as you can see her clinging to it in the picture), so it’s a great way to a) start getting her interested in what’s happening at Mass, and b) give her something to entertain herself with if she gets restless during Mass. This board book is hardcover, but soft enough (almost like a padded feel) that it won’t be noisy if your toddler bangs it against the pew. The language is simple and relatable for little ones, and the illustrations are adorable. I highly recommend it for Catholic families with small children.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time…

It’s a busy but happy and invigorating time for me as the semester winds down and the holidays approach. I have one last big assignment to do for my collection development class, and so much decorating to do! We have to come up with a plan b for our Christmas tree this year, since we don’t have a good way to baby-proof it, and Bitsy’s too young to understand that it’s off limits. I know it’s just the type of thing she’ll want to explore, from the water in the tree stand, to the branches, lights, and ornaments. Right now, the plan is to have a very small tree on an end table. I’ll check in again soon with more decorations, recipes, and holiday cheer!

(This post contains affiliate links.)

 

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DIY Halloween Wreath

DIY Spooky Halloween Wreath

This was one of the easiest wreaths I’ve ever made, and one of the most fun, too. I think it’s just the right combination of pretty and spooky for Halloween. All it took was some Halloween decorations you can easily find this time of year–I got these at Walmart–and basic craft materials I already had at home.

Here’s what I used:

  • a foam wreath form

  • greening pins

  • a few floral pins

  • Heavy duty floral cutter scissors (I use Clauss No. 3412 Stainless Steel Floral Cutters)

  • Hot glue gun, glue stick

  • purple ribbon

  • about 20 artificial roses in Halloween colors

  • a bag of small plastic skulls (These were about $3.)

  • 2 sprigs of Halloween bouquet filler–one with a jack-o-lantern, the other with a spider

You could easily replace the Halloween decor I included with whatever is available at your store. I think it would be cute to use the spider rings you so often see at Halloween.

halloween flare

halloween wreath materials

I still had a Styrofoam wreath form from a fresh wreath I made a few weeks ago. I generally hate anything made of Styrofoam, but if I can reuse it many times, I don’t feel quite as bad about it.

halloween flowers

Once I got my materials together, the first step was cutting the roses. The strong wires in artificial flowers mean regular scissors won’t do the job. I was so glad to have my floral cutters, which had mysteriously made their way from my craft box to my husband’s tool box. Most artificial flowers have little grooves along which it is easy to make cuts. I cut the bloom at highest groove, separating it from the leaves but leaving enough stem to attach the flower to the wreath without needing any pins.

cutting off bloom

That leaves you with the stems and leaves to serve as your greenery. Pin those to the wreath first, sticking the end of the stem into the wreath, then pinning into place using U-shaped greening pins.

Halloween greenery

greening pins

pin to wreath

Next, pin the flowers to the wreath. You won’t need pins, just stab the wire at the end of the stem into the foam wreath.

After covering the wreath with black stems & leaves and the roses, I added the sprigs of Halloween bouquet decorations.

halloween floral

I could have left it at that–just a pretty, Halloween-themed floral wreath, but I really loved the skulls I’d found and wanted a more spooky/kitschy Halloween look.

The best way to attach the skulls was with hot glue. The mesh bag they came in had a few mini-skulls around the closure. I cut the closure off in one piece, with the miniature skulls, and pinned it to the wreath.

bag of skulls

skull bouttoniere

Next, I hot glued the rest of the skulls to the wreath.

I needed a few floral pins to attach a few leaves that came loose, to cover gaps, and finally to attach the ribbon–some I still had left over from my DIY wedding flowers and decorations. I don’t usually like big bows on my wreaths, just some simple ribbon for hanging it on the door.

DIY Pretty and Spooky Halloween Wreath

Ta-da! I’ve really enjoyed the wreath. It’s really helped me get even more excited about taking Bitsy trick-or-treating, then handing out candy. I made it during Bitsy’s nap. When she woke up and first noticed it on the door, she wanted me to keep opening and closing the door so she could look at it 🙂

I think I’ll keep this wreath and use it again for years to come.

Happy Halloween!

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