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Bits of happy for today.

This 10 minute project brightening the kitchen window.

Idea credit: Dottie Angel

While I’m on hearts, here are some other fun ideas.

Fabric Heart Garland

Free Printable Sentiment Poster

This adorable Heart of Gold print from Banquet.

In non-heart matters, these little girl shoes are so stinking cute.

Joy Folie

As is this West Elm pillow.

Cooking with fresh things = eventually, less flab. Also, side bonus: fresh scraps for the compost pile.

Happy surprise: this wreath I made for a baby shower three weeks ago is still kicking it on my front door (sans ranunculus).
And happy that even on dreary days, I get a Narnia-esque scene when I peek out the back door.

I’ve been thinking about who I want to be in 2011. I’m guessing the Julia Child/Martha/Jenna of J. Crew’s “Jenna’s picks”/my mom hybrid may not pan out for me all at once.

I want to be intentional with my time. I am realizing that entire weeks can go by when the only thing I accomplish is clean laundry. And that’s ok. But, I also want to make sure I’m becoming someone who is honorable, resourceful, wise, creative, and godly, and that I have outlets and time set aside for development in each of those spaces.

I resonate with the simple weekly goals laid out in this amazing blog I read:

1. Home Organization- cleaning out a closet, sorting the growing stack of stuff that needs to be filed on our desk, etc. Taking an organizational project and finishing it each week.

2. Project Completion- finishing a creative or home project. Keeping the creative juices moving each week.

3. Something for Someone Else- writing letters, spending time with our elderly neighbors, volunteering. I want our kids to grow up in a home where an others-focus is part of the norm.

4. Each Kid-  I only have one sprout right now, but as she gets older, this means helping her learn/do one thing that is important to her, to show her that I value her…and the same with any other sprouts that may come along. Right now that looks like “I value you, so you can spit up butternut squash in my hair all you want.”

Also, if I had this alarm clock, do you think it would be easier for me to get up at 6 am every day, make breakfast, and pray?

I think it would.

Other odds and ends:

Read more cookbooks. Starting with this one.

Read through my Bible.

Locate the best flea markets/thrift stores.

Learn to knit and needlepoint. Goal: homemade knit stockings by next Christmas.

Re-configure the front yard so that it doesn’t look like a crazy cat lady still lives in our house. Not that there’s anything wrong with cat ladies [ahem, CLAIRE].

Sew clothes for the sprout.

Grow more of what we eat.

Host dinner parties.

Spend more time with my closest friends. Let them see my dirt.

And of course, be laid back about all of the above, keeping what fits and letting the rest roll on off of my shoulders.

I’m sure I could belabor a play by play of ‘baby’s first Christmas’ in this space. But wouldn’t you rather see a recounting of Lucy’s second Christmas?

Ok, maybe not. But I’ll show you this first.

Someone is in denial about her weight.

The peace was soon broken as the Goose ran full speed into the Christmas tree with a box on her head. It’s possible the box part can be attributed to yours truly.

She got some consolation after the traumatic tree incident.

And some hand holding.

And then… our Survivor Dog embarked on Possum Quest 2010. She pranced around with this prize in her mouth for about an hour until the men trapped it in a garbage can and disposed of it at another part of the farm.

The next day involved snow, deer, and a squirrel incident.

We took four or five pictures, and Lucy is frolicking in the background of every single one.

In conclusion, her Christmas was very merry indeed. As was ours.

Onward to 2011.

The last days have been spent offline doing wintry things.

Wintry things like changing my sprout’s explosive diaper in the backseat of my car in 20 degree weather – resulting in widespread poop distribution from the car seat, to my arms, to her head. Oops.

Wintry things like dissecting the contents of my favorite seed catalog. You can order one for free (or download it, if you’d rather) from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Much, much more on seed-related things to come.

Wintry things like contemplating the below record album photos (front and back) and wondering if it is the genesis of my fascination with copiously coiffed facial hair.

The latter is like a Who’s Who of strange. Cocker spaniel? Yep. Snoopy? Roses? Clown? Cabbage Patch dolls? Check, check, check, check. French horn? Of course.

Please note that I propped the record on a giant pile of laundry to take this picture. Obviously my priorities are in order. Sorry, FCL.

Wintry things like laying curled up in bed with my nightly before-sleep ritual: checking the Weather Channel app on my iphone. Forecast for Christmas day in Tennessee? 30% chance of snow.

And of course, wintry things like watching White Christmas with Sprout (she may have inherited my love of musicals…and Christmas) and making gingerbread cookies with mom.

… and wintry ornament swaps and Christmas parties.

And just to think that winter doesn’t even officially begin until tomorrow.

The day after Thanksgiving means different things to different people.

I suppose it’s most synonymous with crazed shopping and  leftover turkey sandwiches. However, at our house, it means I can officially listen to Christmas music in the open without fear of judgment.

No more having to quickly close itunes when someone walks in the door because I’ve been listening to Christmas music while dipping caramel apples on Halloween. No more clicking off of my Christmas mix when other folks get in the car because we’re all wearing shorts.

Finally — freedom.

In light of that, I’d like to highlight a list I outlined to FCL (i.e. French Canadian Lothario, i.e. the husband) in the car on the way to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. Of course we would NEVER commit the crime of listening to carols pre-Thanksgiving.

1. Behold the Lamb of God- Andrew Peterson and Co.

2. A Christmas Album – Amy Grant, 1980s goodness

3. Home for Christmas- Amy Grant, circa my formative middle school years 1990’s

4. Songs for Christmas- Sufjan Stevens

5. Christmas- Mannheim Steamroller

6. Joy- Ed Cash, Allen Levi, Bebo Norman

7. The Oak Ridge Boys Christmas

8. O Holy Night – Sara Groves

9. This Gift- Gary Chapman

Certainly not claiming that this is the best, most definitive listing of Christmas albums — there’s a lot to be said for an eclectic take on the the same old, same old. But there’s a sweet, familiar comfort to participating in the same rhythms each advent season — a reminder that God’s promises in advent are just as rich, dear, real, and miraculous today as they were 2,000 years ago…28 years ago when I first heard them…and as they will be when my daughter is 28, listening to the same sweet carols in her flying car.

In the last three days, I:

dragged an entire woodpile into my house to “artfully” (emphasis on air quotes) arrange it in my non-working fireplace.

filled multiple wheelbarrows full of dead pumpkin vine for the garbage men — backyard expunged of jack and the beanstalk.

cleaned the bowels of our dishwasher. It smelled the way I imagine a colonoscopy might smell. Afraid I’d be stripped of my homemaker badge if I posted a picture. Of course, homemaker badges are probably going for pennies on ebay, but still.

gave our dog a mustache shaped chew toy.

I’m sure all of this is vital for my Sprout’s development and education. It’s very possible that — nature OR nurture, she is going to be a quirky kid.

I tried to name this blog after a line from The Sound of Music‘s “My Favorite Things.” I assumed the title line would already be taken — it was. I worked my way down my list of preferences until I finally reached “schnitzel with noodles,” thinking, surely…

No dice.

Someone, somewhere, out there, is smugly sitting on schnitzelwithnoodles.wordpress.com. And don’t doubt that I looked it up on the world wide web to see if perhaps the blog was run by a kindred spirit. Rather, it seems the squatter hasn’t even posted any material.

So, burlap and twine. No connection, no story. Just two materials sitting in front of my toes right now, as they’re propped on the coffee table. Onward.