NOTE: This post is best read in a British accent. {In your head, especially if you're in public, don't be awkward.} I just ...

Slow to Anger Mom

NOTE: This post is best read in a British accent. {In your head, especially if you're in public, don't be awkward.}

I just wanted to share a parenting moment from today. It turned out to be a good reminder of why it is wise to be--as the Bible says--slow to anger.

We've lived in this house for five years and a few days now. Hard to believe! We've only recently completed replacing the last of the appliances too. When we moved in all the appliances were either original or vintage. It's been nice to be able to gradually update each appliance, one-by-one, and two of those have been our washer and dryer of course. A few years ago we purchased a pair of LG laundering machines from Best Buy and we've enjoyed them ever since. Even if the washer drum is so large and deep that I have to use my kids' robot arm grabbers to get the socks out of the bottom. #trexproblems

I was not paid to say I love Persil. We used to be Tide loyalists, but then this 100-year-old brand from England appeared on our grocer's shelves and we love it even more now. But I digress. Always with the digressing. {Are we sure we want the blogging back?}

Today I headed down to our basement with a load of dirties to throw in for a wash and tumble when I spotted something odd. As I approached the machines--and can we go back to England for a second? When I visited there as a teen and stayed with host families, I was surprised to see how they all had their washing and drying machines in the kitchens. Which is weird to Americans. We have newer homes and thus the space for "get a room" when it comes to our laundry business. And I'm not sorry that I don't throw my knickers to be washed in the same space that I make my toast. Just saying.

I digress. 

Still digressing, can I just say that space is a commodity in jolly old England the way it will never be here. {I mean, have you even been to Idaho? Eastern Colorado? South Dakota? Heck, North Dakota??? America has room. Our roads know how to manspread, y'all.} So over there they wash and dry in the same machine. Yep. They've invented that. It actually exists. Of course, you can only have one load going at a time, so there's that. But sometimes I hear people say, "I wish my washing machine could also dry!" Because who hasn't forgotten to dry a load only to find it a couple days later smelling a little corpse-flower-on-bloom-day? Well, the machines exist! England has them. Here in America, however, they are more concerned about getting paid for you purchasing TWO machines than they are saving you space. #conspiracytheoristhere

--as I was saying, the odd thing that I spotted today was a new color on my washing machine, and dryer. Bright pink?! What??? What's this?!? I got closer and inspected...

Someone had used a PINK ballpoint pen and scribbled all over a few select buttons...on BOTH machines!

This is the kind of surprise that can make a stay-at-home mama's blood boil in an instant. We spent good money on our TWO wash drying machines!! How dare someone mar them with pink scribbles?!

Here is what I knew...

The oldest child did not do this.
The pink pen was Violet's.
The boy probably was responsible for this.

What I didn't know...


So I called my suspects into the laundry room and did what any FBI agent would know to do: psychological warfare. I didn't ask, "Who did this?" That's something a rookie parent of an only child might Those lucky punks only ever have one suspect. That's something a less-experienced parent might ask.

I am not an inexperienced parent. So I know while the weapon was likely Violet's, the culprit was likely Paxton.

Like a game of Clue, I was certain  my answer was this:

In the laundry room. 
With the pink pen. 

So I pointed at the pink and eyed him first and asked, "Why did you do this?" I felt awfully proud of myself for knowing not to ask which one of them did it, because they always blame the others, kids do. Also, acting like I already knew who did it was more likely to get an early and easy confession.

To my surprise, before Paxton could tell me why, Violet said, "It's just tape."

Huh? I turned and inspected closer. It was true. She had taped on the scribbles, not scribbled on the buttons directly.

I started picking at a piece to remove it immediately. So she hadn't marred my machines, I wouldn't need rubbing alcohol after all.

"But...why would you do that???" I was now thoroughly confused.

"So I know which buttons to push."

I stopped picking off the tape.

It was unsightly, it wasn't pretty. But it was what she needed to remember which buttons to push on the machines to run them. Suddenly it made sense, and I wasn't angry at all. {And to be fair, the girl has a point. There are far too many buttons on ALL appliances these days. Back in my day there were two buttons: ON and OFF. There was no button for when you want your BRIGHT WHITES pre-washed with afternoon tea and a touch on honey. Or something like that.}

This touched me. While I had been on the verge of anger over yet another, "THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!!!" rant, she had reminded me why it is so good to be slow to anger. Which today I was, thank God. I'm not always.

Without going into detail--because my kids deserve some privacy and I'm of the generation that is pioneering raising kids with social media and blogs and oversharing--Violet creates excess laundry for us pretty much daily. And we know she isn't proud of that.

So here she was trying to help by learning to do it herself. 

So I learned--as I pieced the story together--she had asked her daddy to show her how to run the machines, and then when we weren't looking she "highlighted" the buttons he showed her to use so that she could do it independently.


I mean, and the whole tape use thing was stinking smart, making her marks non-permanent. So, well done of you, Violet! She has always been my smarty.

And shoot, but lately I've been trying to make a point to teach my kids "adulting" things like how to cook eggs, what types of cleaning supplies to use and when, and how to do their taxes. Well, we'll get to the taxes. But here my kid was taking it upon herself to adult her own laundry. And I'm really glad that I didn't immediately respond in anger before I knew the whole truth and made the fool out of myself.

Which I have done before.

When Sander got home from work I told him this story not unlike how I'm telling you now. You know what is funny? He patiently listened to me as if it was all new to him and then said, "I had the exact same experience last night when I saw the pink pen marks."

Turned out, no discipline needed. No need to go restock my rubbing alcohol for removing pen ink.

The scribbles stay.


Merry Christmastime!  We've decked our {outdoor} halls and done something really big and fun and different this year. My inspirati...

2018 Christmas House

2018 Christmas House

Merry Christmastime! 

We've decked our {outdoor} halls and done something really big and fun and different this year. My inspiration came from the incredibly talented Christine McConnell, who recently became famous for her new Netflix show, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell. The show isn't for everyone, but if you're a fan of both Martha Stewart and Tim Burton--as I am--then you might like her too.

I was charmed by her new show, which features vintage Pyrex, amazing craft and baking tutorials, 1950s style dresses, puppets, macabre jokes, and an adorable set. I wanted to know more about her, and after a quick Google I found she started to gain fame when she did her parents' house up for Halloween a few years ago. Then I saw she also did her parents' house for Christmas--
>>CLICK HERE<<--and take a look!  It's amazing.
I was so charmed and inspired by her holiday house.
I had to try it myself. 

Not only was her Christmas house my inspiration; you'll see I directly lifted her ideas for my own Christmas house.


I was so excited to do something different than your classic string lights or inflatable outdoor Christmas decor.

So, I've spent the last two weeks carving and painting 46 foam insulation pieces.

2018 Christmas House

And while I would have added another 46 pieces of decor if I could, one has to stop somewhere, and I'm pretty happy with the way my little yellow gingerbread cottage turned out.

2018 Christmas House

I never want to see a paintbrush again. But I did it.

2018 Christmas House

With the help of my husband--who grew more supportive of this project as it became clear he would be involved in wiring and installation projects--we have it spotlit at night. But what is nice about this sort of decorating, is that it is just as visible during the day. Christmas light displays can't do that.

2018 Christmas House

I did fret that some neighbors might think it was tacky {which is silly because all Christmas decor is inherently tacky, if we're being honest} but so far I've heard only compliments and talk of "Santa's village" and such.


The Merry Christmas sign has been the biggest challenge. It is 14 feet long and I cut and painted it by hand. My husband originally installed it elevated above the roof, but a winter storm came through and it was obvious we needed to lower its profile. It's been great since then.

2018 Christmas House

While I'd like this all to be an investment I can put up year after year, the truth is we don't know how it will hold up. So far, so good!

2018 Christmas House

Maybe I'll even be able to add more pieces each year?

2018 Christmas House

Keep reading to see how we constructed all this and got it up...

2018 Christmas House

But first, a snowy shot. {This was taken before I put some final touches on.}


So, I took all the info I could get from Christine's Instagram posts. She used this type of foam insulation. It runs about $12 a sheet at Home Depot. We used six sheets total.

2018 Christmas House

Also at Home Depot, I purchased a two-pack of snap-off razor knives in the tools aisle. The two pack was only about $1.97. I recommend the narrow razor knife for cutting curves easily.

2018 Christmas House

It helped to make cardboard templates. These frosting pieces for the windows I copied from Christine's design; I love the scrolls and scallops.

2018 Christmas House

{Free child labor}

2018 Christmas House 

I started out with acrylic paint from a craft store {bad idea} which hasn't held up as well and chips in the cold. Early on, I found that a gallon of outdoor white primer paint from Home Depot and a roller brush was faster and better.

2018 Christmas House

I worked outside when I could, but it's been so cold here on and off, so unfortunately my house got pretty messy from working a lot inside.

2018 Christmas House

The most intimidating part for me was the 14-foot Merry Christmas sign!

2018 Christmas House2018 Christmas House

I found it helpful to print big letters off and used a graphite transfer paper to trace them onto the foam. The letters aren't perfect--in fact a lot of the details are iffy. But the beauty of this is that most people see it from a distance, from the street. It looks good from there!

2018 Christmas House

The biggest question, and I've seen a lot of people begging for hints from Christine on her Instagram page asking this same thing--though she is a celebrity so I understand how she can't answer everyone--was HOW in the world to attach it to the house securely?

2018 Christmas House

We brainstormed this for days and had all kinds of ideas but that all seemed problematic in one way or another. Then Sander finally went to Home Depot just to browse and came home with this: Industrial Strength Velcro that just sticks on. Holds up to 10 lbs., package says.

2018 Christmas House

It's worked wonderfully. We cut small pieces of Velcro and each foam decoration has only required two or three small pieces of Velcro. Since it is cold here, we found it helpful to heat up the adhesive with a hair dryer as we were applying.

2018 Christmas House

This is how we originally had the sign before we had to lower it. Oh well, all's well that ends well, yes?

2018 Christmas House

Merry Christmastime and thanks for visiting! I hope you leave inspired. I have been inspired by Christine McConnell to continue to try bigger and more challenging projects. I'm already looking forward to what's next!

2018 Christmas House


I'm back on the blog.  I know, I've been bad this year. I've really stepped away from the old bloggophone which, by the w...

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

I'm back on the blog. 
I know, I've been bad this year. I've really stepped away from the old bloggophone which, by the way, just turned 11! I've been blogging for 11 years, although I slowed way down this year sadly. But a lot of friends, and even people I barely know on Instagram, have mentioned missing my blog. And you know what? I do too. 

So here I am, playing catch up in November--of all times--with this Thanksgiving post. 
On Wednesday, I'll have another post up about my Christmas decor, as we did something big and fun this year. So stay tuned. 

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving 2018 was truly lovely, despite my crooked, cracked candles. 
I stayed up until 2 a.m. the night before {night owl powers} just to get all the sides made ahead of time. It was so worth it. All we had to do when we got up was clean the entire house {I wish I were kidding, but the Christmas decor project I mentioned earlier meant our house was a wreck}, put out appetizers, and set the table. 

Thanksgiving 2018

This year Sander spatchcocked and smoked our turkey. Isn't she beautiful?!

I made plum wine spritzers for a fun fall cocktail.

Thanksgiving 2018

True story: When we were kids, mom started making Watergate salad for Thanksgiving dinners. You know, the pistachio pudding/Cool Whip/marshmallow/fruit blend? It's called Watergate salad. 

Except we didn't know that. 

So my mom asked my sister and I one year if we wanted her to make it again--of course we said yes, it's like candy at dinner--but she didn't know the name of "that green marshmallow salad" and so my sister and I agreed that it should be named Francis. 

This is one of the few things we've ever agreed on. 

Francis has now been a staple at our Thanksgiving table for a good 25 years. We know now the name is Watergate salad, but we still just call it Francis. Every year someone says, "I'll make the Francis." 

Here is a picture of this year's Francis:
Thanksgiving 2018

We really stuck to the classics this year for Thanksgiving.
Francis. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Sweet potatoes. You get the gist.
I made a great stuffing! So good that I left it sitting in the microwave during the entire meal. 

Thanksgiving 2018Thanksgiving 2018 

And then there is green bean casserole. 

Can we talk about GBC for a minute? Does anyone really like GBC?
{Not sorry for shortening it to GBC because green bean casserole is a pain to type over and over.}
The typical GBC is made with cream of mushroom canned soup {yuck} and French's fried onions on top, right? 
In our family, we all admit no one really likes it--besides mom--except it is such a traditional dish. So I wasn't going to make it this year. 

But then I realized our menu was: turkey, starch, starch, starch with marshmallows, Francis, starch gravy, and pie. No greens. And what, with Romaine being deadly right now...

So I started looking for what might be a decent GBC. And I found this recipe I'd bookmarked for Thanksgiving 2016, over on the Pioneer Woman website. It uses fresh green beans that you blanch, you make your own gravy sauce with sauteed mushrooms--no canned stuff that jiggles--and you even fry your own SHALLOTS instead of that canned crunchy onion topping. Also, bacon.

Now, you give me a recipe card with shallots and bacon on the ingredient list and I'll make it! Doesn't matter what it is. Shallot bacon ice cream? Sure. Shallot bacon iced coffee, I'd give it a whirl.
Same goes for any soups with booze in it and recipes that combine butter, wine, and mushrooms. Sold. 

It was the most laborious of all my Thanksgiving dishes. But was it worth it?


I mean, UM, YES. 

Not only were Sander and I up at 1 a.m. washing dishes and sneaking finger licks off the pot I made this stuff in, the whole family had multiple servings of THIS DISH! Green bean casserole, the star of the show?! Who knew? Everyone loved it. 

I will absolutely make this GBC every year from now on. 

Thanksgiving 2018

{Games in the homeschool room, a good way to occupy kids and keep them out of the kitchen.
So nice to have a space like this.}

Thanksgiving 2018Thanksgiving 2018

Then it was time to sit down and feast, but I wanted to remember the moment, so I told everyone to close their eyes and look away for a nice photo to remember the day. 

Thanksgiving 2018

As you can see, photography perfection, as always.

I did not make these Christmas Thanksgiving crackers, I got them at Marshall's.
{Fun Fact: It's best to pronounce Marshall's like a Kennedy, for example,
"Maaashuls" or "I got it at Maaashuls." Try it. You're welcome.}
They had woodland animal ornaments inside, and paper crowns.

Thanksgiving 2018

And all my favorite people were there, so I had a lot to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving 2018

I also made a killer Thanksgiving playlist, if I might brag, that included songs such as In My Life by the Beatles {my favorite Beatles song}, Turn! Turn! Turn! by the Byrds, and Forever Young by Bob name a few. {I was feeling hippie vibes this year!}

Thanksgiving 2018

My beautiful nieces sure are all grown up.

Thanksgiving 2018Thanksgiving 2018

Eisley scored a turkey leg and was pretty proud of it.

Thanksgiving 2018

And finally, of course, the traditional post-feast conga line.
Even the Indians and Pilgrims celebrated with a conga line 
at the first Thanksgiving. 
Pretty sure.

Thanksgiving 2018

I'm not a huge fan of classic pumpkin pie.
The last few years I've been opting for this
rum pumpkin chiffon pie.
More like YUM pumpkin chiffon pie. 
*wiggles eyebrows*

Thanksgiving 2018

Then it was all over.

Thanksgiving 2018

The guests left.
The dishwasher was running.
The leftovers were chilling.
The children succumbed to their tryptophan.
The husband went to bed.
I realized my candles were still burning, and I observed the lonely and used 'Turkey on the Table' and suddenly it occurred to me...

Well, shoot.
It's officially Christmastime.