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.

PB296185

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.

christmashousenight

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.}

PB246137

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

Cheers,
Heather

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?

YUM, YES. 

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 Dylan...to 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. 


Cheers,
Heather








Violet turned 7 this year! What a fun age for a kid to be. Fortunately for me, this was one of the easiest themed parties I've ever p...

Violet is 7!

Hello Kitty Party

Violet turned 7 this year! What a fun age for a kid to be. Fortunately for me, this was one of the easiest themed parties I've ever pulled together, thanks to Violet choosing a theme that is super easy to find supplies for. Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty Party

Hello Kitty merch is pretty much everywhere so it required very little creativity on my part. I always feel bad about Violet's birthday being in winter, so we can't throw the big outdoor parties like we do with Eisley & Paxton, nor can we go to Lakeside or something fun like that. We have to keep it indoors and warm.

Hello Kitty Party

Hello Kitty decor fits pretty well in my "sugar coated candy land of a house" {as my dad once called it--ha!} very cheery!

Hello Kitty Party

While my usual problem is finding party decor to match what my kids pick for birthday themes {Eisley with her tiger themed 5th birthday party, for example}, I had the opposite problem with Hello Kitty. We had to choose which of 5 different Hello Kitty paper plates to go with.

Hello Kitty Party

Then there was H Mart! We love H Mart already, but it was an especially fun resource for Hello Kitty party supplies, such as the Ramune Soda. Whatever that is. Here kids, I have no idea what this drink is made from, but it has Hello Kitty on it. Drink up! The novelty of these bottles is half the fun, as you open it by shoving a glass marble into it. Somehow it is not a choking hazard, however, because the marble stays trapped inside, much to the disappointment of the children.

Hello Kitty Party

I think this is the only crafting I did for this party, aside from the cake. Super easy Hello Kitty head lanterns.

Hello Kitty Party

More H Mart goods. H Mart is more than just a place to buy Korea's best selling instant ramen by the pallet and chicken feet.

Hello Kitty Party

They also have Hello Kitty cookies in Hello Kitty tins. If you haven't been to H Mart, do go. It's so much fun to shop there. I recommend stopping by the bakery for a waffle fish--filled with either melted chocolate or bean paste.

Need sea urchin for your Pioneer Woman casserole? H Mart.

Need all the Asian noodle types ever made? H Mart.

Need a 500 lb bag of rice? H Mart.

It's short for Heather Mart. I think.

Hello Kitty Party

I digress. Back to the party.

Hello Kitty Party

With our house decked out in the Hello Kitty decor, we ordered some friends and invited some pizza over.

Hello Kitty Party

The Ramune was a hit. No one could figure out the flavor. But who needs flavor when you have exciting glass marbles?

Hello Kitty Party

Per American tradition, we lit my cake creation on fire and sang a traditional folk song to Violet in recognition of her 7th birthday.

Hello Kitty Party

Violet blew out the candles and the children fought over all the candy on top.

Hello Kitty Party

But seriously, this was one of my favorite cakes {< click to see more} ever. It was so fun to throw together. Sometimes cakes turn out exactly as I envision, which is super exciting for a cake decorator. It happened with this one!

Hello Kitty Party

It was my pleasure to make a birthday cake for this seven year old sweetheart of mine! We love you, Violet! I can't believe you're already 7!!

Hello Kitty Party

It was a sleepover, so they all settled in with their sleeping bags to do what kids of the 2010s love to do most: cat video montages on YouTube.

Hello Kitty Party

It was probably the most simple themed kids birthday party I've thrown! But it was great and we had fun. And it's good to be scaling things back toward simplicity these days.

Hello Kitty Party

HAPPY 7th BIRTHDAY, SWEET VIOLET!!!!


XOXO