Christmas Mantel

While I decorated the tree Mike worked on the mantel. He started with a fake pine garland. It originally had lights attached but half of them were burnt out. He removed the lights and cut the garland to fit the mantel. Then he arranged some of our various Christmas ornaments and candles. He finished it off with some small gold pics. Then hung the stockings with some removable hooks.

Christmas Mantel

We filled these clear glass vases with small ornaments. Then added a few pics I got on super clearance from Walmart. The candles are another Walmart clearance special.

Christmas Mantel, ornaments in a vase

My dad made the red nutcracker when I was younger. I guess craftiness runs in the family :)

Christmas Mantel

I got this cute berry tree at a garage sale this summer for only $1.

Christmas Mantel

Having our tree and mantel all decorated really helps to put us in mood for Christmas. We're planning to host Christmas dinner with my family. There will be around 13 people coming so it's going to be another big group and we are looking forward to showing off our decorations.

Tips For How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

My favorite part of Christmas is setting up my Christmas Tree. I always do it the weekend after Thanksgiving. I learned how to put together an awesome tree from working at the department store Dillard's back when I was in college. I get lots of compliments on my tree and I've had several friends and family members ask for tips on how to make their tree look like mine.

Red and gold Christmas Tree, decorating tips
I think it helps to have a theme. Mine is red and gold. The majority of my ornaments are this color and I have a few that are crystal. I only buy my ornaments when there are on super sale after Christmas is over. I always forget what I bought the year before so it makes it fun to pull out the new ornaments next Christmas.

I also highly recommend an ornament box. I think I got mine at Lowes or Target. It's a plastic box with cardboard separators. You can store all your ornaments in this box and it makes super easy to clean up and store at the end of the season.

I prefer a fake tree because I can use it every year. We always had a real one when I was growing up and I have great memories of going to cut our own tree. It's really your preference. If you get a real tree you need a tree stand and to remember to keep it watered. If you have a fake tree fluff all the branches by pulling them apart. They are all crushed when you pull the tree out of a box or from storage. I keep my tree in an enormous Chrismas tree bag. I bought it around the holidays a few years ago and it's much easier than trying to stuff the tree into the original box.

Add your lights or turn them on. We have a few branches that burnt out so I added an additonal string of lights. It was a much cheaper alternative than buying a new tree. They are expensive!

Add ribbon or garland. I used two rolls of 30 ft ribbon. The ribbon adds more dimension to the tree. If you can't find 30 ft ribbon you can combine some shorter rolls to make a long piece. You can also add a beaded garland in place of the ribbon.

Load your tree up with ornaments. I like to start with plain round "filler" balls first. Then I add the more interesting ornaments. I try to keep my two colors evenly spread out through out the tree. The last ornaments I put on are crystal and gold icicles. They add a sparkly touch.

The tree is looking pretty good right now but to add another layer of interest I add two different kinds of flower pics. You should be able to find them at any craft store.

I place them wherever I feel there are "holes" in the tree.

Now finish it off with a tree topper and skirt. Voila! Ready for presents.

Red and gold Christmas Tree, decorating tips.

One more shot with the lights off.

Red and gold Christmas Tree, decorating tips

Crochet Newborn Baby Bear/Monkey Hat Pattern

I got a request to share the pattern I used for my baby bear hat. I've never written a pattern down before so I apologize if there are any errors. I love to modify my patterns as I go along so I tried to add hints for making this hat custom to your liking.

crochet newborn baby bear hat pattern

Using an H hook and worsted weight yarn.
sized for newborn with a 13 in circumference
Also needed: yarn needle and stitch marker.

This is worked in the round so there is no joining seam.
Use the stitch maker to keep track of your starting stich. When starting a new round, remove the stitch marker, make your stitch and replace the stitch marker in the new stitch.

Rnd 1: Make an adjustable ring (go here for a tutorial). Ch 1 and work 6 sc in the ring-  6 sc(Alternatively chain 2 and work 6 sc in the first ch)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around- 12 sc
Rnd 3: [1 sc in next st, 2 sc in next st] - 18 sc
Rnd 4: [1 sc in next 2 st, 2 sc in next st] - 24 sc
Rnd 5: [1 sc in next 3 st, 2 sc in next st] - 30 sc
Rnd 6: [1 sc in next 4 st, 2 sc in next st]- 36 sc
Rnd 7: [1 sc in next 5 st, 2 sc in next st]- 42 sc
Rnd 8: [1 sc in next 6 st, 2 sc in next st]- 48 sc
Rd 9: 1 sc in each stitch around- 48 sc
Repeat until length is 5-5.5 inches
Weave in ends

To make the head size bigger continue increasing rows after Rnd 8. The next round would be [1 sc in next 7 st, 2 sc in next st]. Continue in this pattern by adding 1 more sc before the 2 sc until you reach the desired circumference. Then start the 1 sc in each stitch until you reach the desired length. Here is a handy size chart (see below.) I have found that different sites give different lengths. If you can measure your subject that always helps. This hat has a good amount of stretch so it will fit a bigger head than the circumference you measure.

On the side of the hat find where you want to place the earflaps. I usually just eyeball it based on the number of stitches in the earflap
Rnd 1: Join and Ch1. 1 sc in next 7 st- 7 sc
Rnd 2: Ch1 turn. 1 sc in next 1 st - 7 sc
Rnd 3: Ch1 turn. Sc decrease over first 2 sc. Sc in next 3 sc. Sc decrease over last 2 sc- 5 sc
Rnd 4: Ch1 turn. 1 sc in nexst 5 st- 5 sc
Rnd 5: Ch1 turn. Sc decrease over first 2 sc. Sc in next sc. Sc decrease over last 2 sc- 3 sc
Weave in ends
Repeat on other side

Join yarn in back of hat
Ch1, Sc over edge of entire hat
Weave in ends

Rnd 1: Make an adjustable ring Ch 1 and work 6 sc in the ring- 6 sc
(Alternatively chain 2 and work 6 sc in the first ch)
Rnd 2: 2 sc in each st around- 12 sc
Rnd 3: [1 sc in next st, 2sc in next st] - 18 sc
Rnd 4: 1 sc in each stitch around- 18 sc
Weave in ends
Repeat for other ear

Stich ears to top of beanie for a bear and on the sides of the beanie for a monkey
You can make the ears bigger by adding more increases after row 3 before starting 1 sc in each stitch. You can also add more rows of 1 sc in each stitch to make the ears fold in more.
Cut 6 lengths of yarn 30 in long.
Use a hook to pull through the bottom of the earflap
Tie a knot and braid
Tie another knot at the end
Trim ends.
Repeat for other side.

You can make the braids longer or shorter as you desire

Size Chart

1 -2 lbs 1kg
Baby's Head Circumference is 9" - 10" 23-25 cm (so hat circ. should be about 7.5" -8" 18-20 cm) Height of hat should be 3.5 - 4" 10cm
2 - 3 lbs 1.4 kg
Head Circumference 10" - 11 1/4" 25-28 cm hat circ = 8.5" - 10" 22-25 cm Hat height = 4" 10 cm
4 - 5 lbs 2 kg
Head Circumference 11 1/2" - 12 1/2" 28-33 cm hat circ = 9" - 11.5" 23-28 cm Hat height = 4 to 4.5" 10-11cm
5 1/2 - 6 lbs 2.7 kg
Head Circumference 12 1/2" - 13" 31-33 cm hat circ = 11" - 12" 28-33 cm Hat height = 5 to 5.5" 13-15 cm
Head Circumference 13" - 14 " 33-36cm; hat circ = 11.5" - 13" Hat height = 5.5 to 6" 13-15 cm
Baby - 3 to 6 months
Head Circumference: 14" - 17 " 36-43 cm; Hat height= 6.5 - 7" 15-18 cm
Baby - 6 to 12 months
Head Circumference: 16" - 19 " 41-48 cm ; Hat height = 7.5" 18 cm
Toddler - preschooler (12 months - 3 years)
Head Circumference: 18" to 20 " 46 -48 cm; Hat height = 8" 20 cm
Child (3 - 10 years)
Head Circumference: 19" - 20 1/2" 48-51 cm; Hat height =8.5" 22cm
Pre-teens and Teens Hat
Head Circumference: 20 1/2" - 22" 53 -56 cm; height 9-10" 25 cm
Adult Woman
Head Circumference: 21.5" - 22.5" Hat height = 11"
Adult Man
Head Circumference: 23" - 24" 58.4 cm - 61 cm; Hat height = 11"-11.5"

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful day with the ones you love.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a wonderful husband, two great dogs, a beautiful house, a good job and a loving family. I am going to enjoy the day and eat lots of great food!

Thanksgiving Day Menu

We started a Thanksgiving tradition the first year we moved in to our house five years ago. Mike is the master chef. We do a potluck so everyone brings a dish. It's the perfect set up so Mike doesn't have to cook an enormous meal.

Last year Mike grilled the Turkey and it worked out so well he is doing it again. He put in in the roaster and it baked on the grill . This frees up the oven so we can cook other dishes or warm up the ones our family brings. 

Last years turkey

On the menu this year, we are making the Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sausage stuffing, and Roasted Cauliflower. The family is bringing green bean casserole, broccoli and cheese casserole, veggie lasagna, ham, sweet potatoes, parsnips, mac and cheese, rolls, home made cranberry sauce heath bar cake, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and chocolate cake. Wow, that seems like a lot of food once I wrote it out :)

We will have a total of 19 people so it's going to be a full house and our biggest year yet. It's really we have the upstairs room setup now with a TV so we will have a second area for people to hang out in. Our living room will be pretty full because we will be setting up a second table. With so many people we won't all fit around the dining room table.

Final preparations today before the big day tomorrow!

Thanksgiving Mantel

With Thanksgiving in just a few days we have done a deep clean on the house. It really needed it after our painting project. We gathered up our fall decorations and Mike arranged them on the mantel.

I got the garland and the yellow the pumpkins for 90% off at Michael's last year. I added to our collection through garage sales this summer, a gift from a friend and another sale at Michael's this year.

I love the way it turned out so I have to enjoy it this week before it's time to put out the Christmas decorations next weekend.

Hall Painting

Woohoo! We are done painting in our hall.  The moulding was a real challenge since there were four doorways plus the steps. It looks so good now we wondered why we didn't do it sooner.

Mike also put in a new door to our big closet. It's a huge improvement over what was there. We didn't want to order a custom door so Mike built a frame with moulding and installed a bifold door. It really openes the hall up since the old door opened into the hall and blocked the steps.

Painting Update

The bedroom painting is complete! I started last weekend and finished on Friday (with not much done during the week.) A coat of primer on the ceiling and two coats white paint. A coat of primer on the walls and two coats of Cornerstone by Behr. Two coats of semi gloss white on the molding.  Plus Mike installed new blinds from Lowes. Here it is ready for decorating.

We moved onto the hall on Saturday and it has seemed like a ton of work. Mike has been the brave one and climbed on the ladder to get the ceiling and upper hall walls.

I spent all day Monday getting the walls done and all we have left is the molding. I will be glad when this done! We are trying to get everything spruced up for Thanksgiving. We have hosted the event at our house ever since we moved here and this will be our 6th and probably biggest year yet. We are expecting up to 19 people so it will be a full house. More on that to come.

Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Cauliflower had never been a regular for us. Maybe it has been because we never knew the best way to cook it. That has all changed. I saw a recipe for roasted broccoli on Pinterest and it got the wheels turning in my head. Cauliflower was on sale at the grocery store so it was meant to be :) We liked this recipe so much it may be making an appearance at Thanksgiving.

What's great about making this cauliflower is that it is versatile enough to combine other ingredients to make different flavors.


Head of cauliflower
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup cashews
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves or 1 tbl garlic powder
1 package bacon, cooked and chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

You could sub any kind of cheese or nuts in place of the cashews and parmesan.

  • Preheat the overn to 400
  • Cut the cauliflower into even sized florets for even cooking
  • Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl
  • Spread the cauliflower into a baking dish or baking sheet
  • Cook in oven for 30-40 minutes (or until desired doneness.) Toss part way through and keep an eye on it to prevent the top from burning
  • Garnish with cheese, bacon, nuts and parsley and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Enjoy!

We had this for dinner with a grilled porkchop and the last zuchinni from the garden

Crochet Baby Bear Hat

Here is another baby girl hat I made. I made up the pattern for this one myself and I think it turned out pretty well.

Update: The pattern is here.

Crochet Baby Girl Flower Hat

My friend's friend is having a baby girl so I made this hat for her. It's a simple beanie made with single crochet and Caron Simply soft yarn. It's basically the same pattern I used for my newborn bear hat pattern minus the ear flaps.

I  added a pink flower from the  pattern found here.

I may be linking up to one of these fabulous parties.

It's Painting Time

Mike and I have embarked on our next big house project. Our long forgotten spare room is getting a makeover. This room has served as Mike's dressing room/dog cage room. We haven't had a guest room in a few years and it would be nice to have a place for guests to stay (particularly my sister who lives in DC.)

The goal is to have it up and running by Thanksgiving so my sister and I can be ready at the crack of dawn for all the day after Thanksgiving sales :)

We are also giving the hall a much needed painting spruce up too.  Two long over due projects are finally getting their turn!