Sunday, November 17, 2013

I love beautiful Fall days!

Oh how I love you! 

However, I forget that this time of the year,
 we get many "gloomy" days, 
where the sun doesn't shine much at all. 
SO, on the days that it does shine,
it's a very much celebrated thing to me!  

Here are some of my favorite photos from the last little bit that made me happy because of blue skies, sunshine and clouds of all kinds!  
Clouds that look like an
 "airplane" taking off!
I NEVER tire of beautiful sunrises and sunsets!
When your day starts off this beautiful, 
you know it's going to be a wonderful day!
I LOVE and cherish those nights, 
when there has been grey skies all day, 
however, as the sun starts to set, 
it breaks through those grey clouds 
and give us a glimpse of some blue skies and rich color.
It's always a bonus when one of the clouds resembles a heart!  
OH and when you live in the country, 
you never know what you're going to see!
This large guy startled me and caught me by surprise on my way home from work this past week! 

It's such a beautiful life!
The more you look for beauty, 
the more you will find it, 
even on those days when you least think you will!  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

First Snow Fall!

Thursday November 7th, 2013
It was a grey, drizzly and rainy day 
as I drove to Parker, Idaho 
to teach my PE classes.
However, a mile or two before I got to the school, the weather instantly turned to SNOW!

It's too bad grown ups aren't as excited about snow as kids are!
I came outside to do lunch recess duty and this is what I saw...

Lots of little balls of snow that had been rolled by little hands, trying to make some snow men!
These cute little girls were SO proud of their creation!
OH and if you keep your eyes open when you walk around a playground of grass with melting snow, you can even come across cool shapes... 
I SPY... a swan!

The snow didn't stay for long and by the next day it was melted and gone.
However, when we awoke on 
Saturday, November 16th,
we had a fresh new falling of snow. 
I wonder if it's going to be here to stay for good this time?

Mr. Smith and I headed into town this morning with all of our propane bottles and filled them up, so we can hook up our heater and be able to keep warm while we putter, tinker and create in the garage!

(OH and so we can have plenty of fuel so we can use our Weber grill for making burgers, pizza and salmon all throughout the snowy winter months as well!)

Sunshine, Rain, or Snow,
Life is GOOD!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A simple Christmas, is the best Christmas!

such a magical and wonderful time of the year!   
I truly love it! 
(although, I do love Halloween the most!!)

However, it seems that every year it gets more commercialized...
Christmas is in the stores, sometimes even before Halloween stuff!

Christmas shouldn't be about having 
the most perfectly decorated house!
It shouldn't be about having 15+ strands of lights on your tree, perfectly adorned and shimmering with tinsel,  ribbons and balls and ornament!
It shouldn't be about having the most amazing centerpiece for your table!
It shouldn't be about how many perfectly wrapped presents you have nestled under your tree!
It shouldn't be about having the most lights on the outside of your house...
 and the list goes on and on and ON!!

I know how easy it is to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. 
Every magazine you read has pages and pages of what you need to "decorate with" and " buy" to have the most magical, wonderful Christmas ever!
Every store you go in has amazing and beautiful rooms jam packed full of trendy Christmas decor.
OH and don't even get me started with Pinterest... Christmas overload!

For many years, I had every square inch of my main house area decorated to the hilt! 
Every year, I added a few more strands of the lights to the tree (of which, my hubby, would not be the happiest with me..."Why in the world do we need more lights, dear?")
Every year it seemed like we added a few more gifts under the tree, because it "looked" better and you didn't want your kids to feel "ripped off" if they didn't have LOTS of beautiful packages to open up.

When Ethan was a baby, (11 years ago)
 I worked with a lady that talked about their Christmas tradition of the 
"4 gift rule".
I loved it so much, 
I wanted to add it to our own Christmas traditions. 
However, it's really hard to simplify Christmas 
down to just four gifts... OR, so, I thought.

This is the 4 gift Rule:
Something to Wear
Something to Read
Something you Want
Something to Read 

It's actually a win-win! 
The kids get something they WANT
They get some kind of article of clothing to WEAR
They get something that they really NEED
AND, best of all, you are promoting learning by getting them something to READ!

We decided to do this 2 years ago, 
because we wanted Christmas to be Simple 
and NOT about the gifts at all! 
So, we took some white pillow cases that we had got from some friends that own a motel and we made each of us a BAG to hold the 4 gifts in.

You can make them as elaborate as you would like.  
Stencil on the wording, or embroidery them on.  
Add glitter, 
use colorful fabric, 
whatever you want, it would work out great.

Ours were just made by Sharpie Markers.
(However, one of these years, 
I would like to re-do them and make them a little bit more jazzed up!)

As you can see, 
they look awesome under the tree 
and they are a BIG hit with the kiddos!

This sweet boy, really got us into 
the TRUE Christmas Spirit last year.

He wanted an Old Fashioned Christmas.
He wanted a REAL tree.
He wanted to string popcorn and cranberries for the garland.
He wanted a homemade star on the top of the tree!
He wanted ALL of us to help decorate it and not just mom, making it perfect while everyone was at school and work, with lots of glitzy ornaments.

He did NOT want fancy, or tons of decorations.
What he really wanted was TIME.
Time to decorate...
Time to sip LOTS of hot chocolate while we read Christmas stories.
Time to listen to Christmas music.
Time to make goodies together.
Time to watch holiday movies.
It really is true that the SIMPLE things are the REAL things that kids CRAVE and long for!

After 8 years of working on simplifying the holidays and scaling back, I can officially say that we have finally figured out how to SIMPLIFY Christmas 
to be like my favorite word
(not too much, not too little, but just the right amount!)

Here is our Christmas Holiday decor from Christmas 2012 complete with REAL Christmas tree, simple ornaments, homemade garland and a few holiday touches on the kitchen table and our buffet.
Home strung garland...
popcorn, cranberries and peppermint candies!  
Old Fashioned Tree Skirt 

It's amazing how a .97 package of Tinsel Strings 
can really add some 
SHIMMER and SPARKLE to the holidays! 

Tracy and I stayed up late 
and made a homemade glitter star for the top of the tree
 that we hung from our tall ceiling to be right above the tree!

 My simple, yet beautiful 
dining room table!
 The Stockings were Hung...

 Favorite Santas...
This years Nativity

I made many batches of Cinnamon Roasted Almonds, Carmel/Chocolate Dipped Pretzels 
and other dipped chocolates!
Holiday Treats! 

Christmas Eve Dinner... 
Christmas morning breakfast... 

The DAY after Christmas breakfast 
with Tracy's parents

Complete with Orange Rolls...

After Christmas was over,
 all of my favorite tree ornaments fit in a large boot box!!
THAT is what you call SIMPLE!

(cute little couple in our ward that acted out the Nativity last year at our YW party)

I'm looking forward to enjoying another 
SIMPLE Christmas this year 
that's easy to put up and easy to take down...

 Where we focus on the true meaning of Christmas!
Where we do NOT add unnecessary clutter and junk to our lives
 from over spending and over consuming, 
and where we create this year's memories as we enjoy 
all of the traditions, goodies and FUN
 that come with this most 
"Wonderful Time of the Year"!

 my holiday Christmas decor, will not be gracing our home until November 30th,  (the Sunday after Thanksgiving)
because, unlike many of my wonderful friends that have Christmas decor up right now,
cannot be forgotten about at my house and until we have enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Feast, there will be fall leaves, pumpkins, turkeys and pilgrim decor at the Smith House!