The Christmas Party

I hope you all had warm and wonderful Christmas celebrations.  Amoeba and I were busy on Christmas Eve with both church services.  Amoeba played his horns and sang (Praise Band for the first service, choir for the second).  I ran the new audio-visual set up for the second service.  Man that tech is sweet!  I wanna get me that!  It was all Mac — a 28 inch monitor, a blue tooth key board and the most responsive little mouse ever.

Above the fireplace I hung a swag of garland and decorated it with large red jingle bells.

Christmas Day we slept in, then had a lovely bacon and egg breakfast — treats not often on our menu.  Then we lazed around.  Amoeba watched some sports on TV.  I read a novel in front of the fire.  Later we had a nice meatloaf dinner with cheesy mashed potatoes, then we (mostly Amoeba, I read for awhile more, too) worked on the Christmas Tree puzzle until bed time.  It was quiet and pieceful (pun intended).

Here is our coffee table, decorated for the occasion. This table is the most recent item added to our decor. I bought it at the second hand store the afternoon before the party. I have been searching for months for the perfect table, and here it is. Mona (she of the coffee shop) ordered me to go to the second-hand store. I told her I didn't have time. She said, "Howard has new stuff, and believe me, you have to see it." I wasn't going to go. Mona told me if it was still there after the party and I saw it, I would be furious for not having gotten it sooner -- but she wouldn't tell me what IT was. I stomped over to the shop ... and promptly told Howard to wrap it up and toss it in my car! Mona has been helping me table shop and she knew this was exactly what I wanted.

But what you really want to hear about was our Christmas party.  We were pleased with the turn out.  Judging by the compliments still coming in, our guests were quite pleased with it, too.  I have had several of the women say I made the party look easy.  Of course, I did a lot of the prep work the day before — and for the party itself I recruited a couple of friends to help get everything sat out so when the guests arrived we could look relaxed and serene.

These packages above the entry closet got a lot of attention and compliments. One of Amoeba's colleagues wanted to know if I had to put the presents up there to keep Amoeba from peeking. Everyone was saddened to hear they are just pretty, empty boxes. The bag is full though -- it has a 3-Pack of Kleenex in it! I couldn't make it stand up without adding weight.

I set up the buffet table with hot plates and crock pots so it was self-monitoring. I had 8 pounds of meatballs (store bought but simmering in my own, homemade marinara) and 5 pounds of chicken wings, 50 bacon wrapped crab balls (made with imitation crab since I didn’t have medical records on all of my guests), both potato and mac salad, Summer sausage, assorted cheeses, veggies, dips, and crackers, hot cider, coffee and tea (hot & iced) and one guest brought sparkling cider. There were peanuts, pretzels, Chex Mix, olives, sweet & dill pickles, assorted cookies … a small mountain of food. I kept worrying about what we’d do with the leftovers, but there weren’t enough leftovers to worry about!

Pine garland, lights, and ornaments on top of the 3/4 wall surrounding my kitchen.

I figured the approximate number of guests by counting plates — I bought 96 and had 48 left. Five or six of the guests didn’t eat because they were just coming from or heading to meals. Our next-door neighbor came but she didn’t eat, either. It was her son’s 18th birthday and they were having their own big bash. And, of course, a few people could have used more than one plate. We estimate 50-60 people came through the house in about 4 hours. I wish I had thought to have a guest book!

Pine garland, lights and ornaments viewed from the living room side.

We had a basket with brand new activity books, crayons, and pencils for the kids.  There were also a couple of stuffed animals and an Etch-A-Sketch.  I don’t think a kid ever got to touch the Etch-A-Sketch, but it was a sure hit with the adults.

The Pine Garland viewed from the hall.

We also set the card table up, covered it with a red plastic table cloth and put a 1000 piece border-less puzzle out.   Several of the guests worked on it.  And we gave impromptu tours of the house.  Of course the kitchen and the master bath were the two favorite features.  I had several people ask if we needed house-sitters when we travel.  They were all female and eying the bathtub when they asked.

Three of our guests, Rosalie, Allison, and John, working on the puzzle.

We even had a bit of music.  Jim brought out his guitar and harmonica.  Amoeba got his horn.  They played together and Jim  even sang a couple of tunes.  According to the comments we received, a good time was had by all.

Jim and Amoeba making good music.

This is a horrid photo of Jim. My apologies. Some of you might remember him from another party post here.  He wasn’t quite as Christmas “clean-cut” then.

Fun With Stencils!


Want to add a touch of elegance to your home? Would you like it to look expensive but not be expensive? And would you like it to be super easy to do? SimpleStencil.Com has exactly what you are looking for, and right now you can win $30.00 worth of product free. Keep reading to find out how.

I absolutely love the way stencils look on walls, but I do not have the talent to paint one in place. I figured the only way I would ever have one is if I paid big bucks to an artist. I don’t have any big bucks; in fact, I am kind of short in the department of small bucks. Luckily, Simple Stencil has high quality merchandise for a very affordable price. Even more fortunate, these stencils are super simple to apply! I put one up in just minutes.

Step one — I read the directions. They come with pictures so it was super easy.

Step two — I applied the test stencil they sent me to the wall between my window sill and my whiteboard (I did have to take the whiteboard down, but the window sill stayed in place.)

After I applied the practice stencil it was time for the main event.  The photo below shows you all of the tools and equipment you’ll have to gather to do a quality job.

stencil, rubbing tool (included in kit), and tape

Step Three — Find the center of the area where you’ll be applying your stencil, then tape it to the wall by the top edge only.  Now, walk across the room and look at your stencil.  Is it straight?  Is it perfectly centered?  Make any corrections necessary and check again. 

I live in the Pacific Northwest where the sun is rare, and here it is peeking in my window right where I want to work. I considered being annoyed with it, and then realized it was wonderful. Keep your eye on that strip of light and it will help you gauge exactly how long this project took.

Step Four: Flip your stencil up using the tape as a hinge.  (You do not need to tape it into this position.  I did so only because I couldn’t hold the stencil up and take the photograph.)

back side of stencil

Step Five — carefully peel the backing of the stencil. Do this slowly to make certain none of the stencil adheres to the backing. If the stencil should stick, recover the area with the backing, then even more slowly uncover it, bending the backing a bit more sharply to encourage release.

Step Six — Once the backing is removed hand smooth the stencil onto the wall. The backing is tacky but easily movable.

Step Seven — Using a Popsicle stick, tongue depressor, or the handy-dandy plastic scraper included, firmly rub over the semi-transparent backing. This will help transfer your stencil from the paper to the wall. Rub from the center outward, using the applicator like a squeegee to remove any air bubbles or wrinkles.  Since there is only one of me, I could not photograph the smoothing process, however, I took this close up shot so you could clearly see the stencil pressed against the wall.

Now, lets talk about my wall.  Obviously it is textured.  I wondered how much trouble that would cause me in applying this stencil.  The answer is, none.  The stencil went up easily and is secure.

Step Eight — This step is one I learned while doing the test application. The tape I used to hold the stencil to the wall is much tackier than the stick’em on the semi-transparent stencil sheet. When I was trying to gently and carefully peel the facing off the stencil, I also had to stop and hassle with the tape. To eliminate that issue, just pull the tape free of the wall and tuck it out of the way before you began the peel.

Step Nine — Cautiously peel the semi-transparent backing off the stencil. Work slowly. And watch the letter edges. If they stick to the facing rather than the wall, back up a bit (I love this tacky paper, nothing can slip out of alignment!) and give that piece an extra rub. If it still sticks to the paper, back up again and catch just the merest edge of the letter with your fingernail and hold it to the wall. Once the edge sticks, the remainder will as well.

Step 10 — if you have a large stencil you will want to trim the backing as you peel. I accidentally allowed the tacky backing to touch the applied stencil, and I had to again carefully peel it off because the stencil was perfectly willing to transfer back onto the paper.

backing trimmed at halfway point

Once you have completely removed the semi-transparent facing paper, take your finger (nothing hard or sharp) and gently rub over your stencil securing any loose edges to the wall.

Note the movement of the sunbeam. It took me about 20 minutes to complete this project. I think it looks great.

TheSimpleStencil.Com, has generously provided me with a $30.00 gift certificate for one of my lucky readers.  If you want to be entered in the drawing, visit TheSimpleStencil.Com and tell me what it is that you think would look great on your walls.  You can also check out The  Simple Stencil on Facebook where you’ll receive special offers not available anywhere else.  They’ve got one up now for free product I just may be taking advantage of.  And don’t forget to follow them on Twitter to make certain you receive up to the minute news on sales, specials and secret discounts. For ideas, special promotions and other news, sign up to receive The Simple Stencil newsletter. Their latest one features a project I just may tackle next!

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I ♥ My Gas Fireplace!

Coastal Driftwood Logs

I ♥ My Gas Fireplace!  It has R.H. Peterson gas logs.  They look more realistic than may other gas log fireplaces I have seen. The Vented Gas Logs in our fireplace look a lot like burning driftwood.  I enjoy sitting and watching the flames leap among them. I especially enjoy that I don’t have to clean up any soot and ashes — and my house doesn’t smell like woodsmoke!  One more exciting little tid-bit, you can buy Hansen Wholesale Gas Logs for about the same amount of money as you’d pay (locally) for a couple of cords of firewood, but these will never burn up!

Our Outdoor Gas Logs cost a little bit more, but our backyard firepit is wholly safe and we don’t have to worry about our fire spreading beyond the ring and getting out of control.  Further more, both the firepit and the fireplace light with a simple match.  No stacks of paper or noxious chemicals are required and there’s no sawdust, bark, and other wood debris to clean up.

Now, in case you are wondering why I am talking about gas stoves and log fireplaces in July, it is because it was so cold here yesterday our block party was canceled.  Nobody wanted to go outside!  We had great weather for the parade but while the One More Time band was playing at the Pig War Picnic, the sun left, the wind came up and our little island got pretty darn cold!  When we were home sitting on the couch I told Amoeba I was darn tempted to light the fireplace!

Privacy With a View

If the neighbors look out their bedroom window they can see right into my home office.  Since this is my home I tend to wander around in it dressed however I please.  I also tend to leave my window shades up because I thrive on natural light.

Tonight I glanced out my office window and made eye contact with the man next door as he was closing his bedroom window shades.  Luckily I was wearing my bathrobe — this time.  The incident set me to thinking about my former father-in-law’s windows.

Dean put privacy window film on the two big picture windows in the front of his house. He was still able to see out and get natural sunlight, but no one could see in. Plus he installed the film himself without any trouble whatsoever.

He also put decorative window film up in his bathroom. It was a classy improvement over the roll down window shade and it brightened the room right up, but still protected our modesty. I wonder if I could get permission to put some decorative window film up in my office?

My Own Eagle’s Nest

For most of my life I have dreamed of having my own little cabin in the woods.  It was a vague dream with no defined locale, but San Juan Island has changed that.  I would love to have a little cabin on one of the cliffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Park Homes has the perfect cabin. The Harper model is a gorgeous two person hideaway, plus it has a double loft so Amoeba can have his musical instruments on one side and there’s sleeping room for a guest or two on the other. I love this model not just for the space, but because it is full of light and windows — a must if I am going to perch it on a prime whale watching cliff overlooking Orca territory.

Now all I have to do is find the lot to put it on. Thanks to the Federal Manufactured Housing Program, I don’t have to worry about the quality of my manufactured home. Park Homes meet and exceed industry standards, plus, they can be customized.