Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Our gift to you. Hopefully will be a smile :) You've seen one family shot in the blog title, but here are a few favorite that hopefully will bring you a little joy from our family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Favorite Books for 2010

For the first time in my life, I have not read very many books this year. I have managed to snag a few good ones, though, on recommendations from either Bas Bleu or from my mom and friends. Starting from the newest to oldest.
A semi-fictional war novel, Every Man Dies Alone, is based on a husband and wife who stage simple resistance in Nazi Germany. The author, Hans Fallada, tells a simple story with simple, yet appropriate prose and pace that draws you deeply into its characters and their inevitable deaths.

This book, Half Broke Horses, drew me in with funny, gritty stories of a fascinating woman in Arizona around the Great Depression. I loved learning about the history of Arizona as well as the amazing resilience of the author's great grandmother. This one was probably my favorite of the year.

I read also this thriller by Sarah Waters called, The Little Stranger, which was a little out of my typical genre, but still well written if you like suspense and drama.

Another good one this year was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It is a very interesting novel written about the women on both sides of society in Jackson,Mississippi during the civil rights movement. (Note: it has some adult situations in it)

For something humorous, try Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, by Rhoda Janzen. It isn't serious writing, and tells a self-discovery story that we have heard a few times; yet, she has some really funny stories that will make you laugh.

My spiritual highlights this year were these three books. Edges of His Ways by Amy Carmichael was perfect for those mornings when the coffee just wasn't strong enough, yet I needed some rich spiritual food to keep me going through the day.

The Praying Life by Paul Miller has become my new top five spiritual books. His words were so helpful and inspiring to really see God in a fresh way in my spiritual communion. It has been very uplifting as my family has fought to keep our faith strong during my father's depression.

Lastly, my other favorite, was by an old favorite, Elyse Fitzpatrick, called Because He Loves Me. I find her writing to be much "thicker" than a typical woman author. She has a lot of deep ideas about God's radical love for us and how it can transform our thinking about God.

Looking forward to new books this year as well, when I will pick up my tradition of reading one great big fat classic novel as well as other books along the way...

Any suggestions out there for this year's classic novel that no one ever reads or finishes?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our other child

Meet our dog.
He's one.
Which in dog years means he is still a child :)
We love him.
Especially the kids.

(Sorry but this is the best picture I could get of him...a quickly moving object :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Follow the Spark

I picked up this book my friend had at her house the other day and ran across this phrase:
Follow the spark
Following the spark is a concept that this author applies to mothering small children. What a great phrase to reinvent our time with our children during the holidays! If you are like me, you need an attitude adjustment, some elves, a cleaning lady, a personal assistant and a make-over to get through the holidays. When you have little ones crawling and taking off your tree ornaments, feeding your cookie dough to the dog and wiping faces, hands and bums a hundred times a day, it doesn't make for a lot of free time to accomplish all your holiday wish lists.

Those lists are just wishes. Not everything is crucial. If we follow the spark of what is amazing to our children we will stop. We will pause with them. We will rejoice in their little moments. Their perspective is so fresh. Usually I try to just grit though it and GET IT DONE. I want to follow their sparks of joy, wonder, delight and interest in the next few weeks. Christmas can be a true spark to rejoice in our mothering.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If you still don't know what you want...

Here are some odds and ends favorites of mine from this year:

Karve classes here.

Lululemon pants, yoga inspired wear that is tough enough to last five years.
Puma flats that act like slippers but give support like Dansko clogs.
Or these brand of flats, Me Too, are amazing for their comfort:

For my house, I just got one of these for our living room and it is super sturdy but the corners are soft enough not to endanger little heads.

On a personal level, I am loving a few new products that would be great stocking stuffers: like this new razor which brought smooth to a whole new level. 

It can be paired with this cream shave that saves me from using my expensive Redken conditioner.

And this amazing nourishing mascara that actually works on short eyelashes.

As well as this fragrance for winter:

Just some ideas that I've stumbled upon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Preparations

It was quite a shock to come home and have only three short weeks to prepare for Christmas. You see, I love Christmas preparations. I love decorating, baking, crafting, and designing. I love gift strategy, gift surprising and gift giving.

So my house is clean. My cookies are baked (favorites from last year are from Sunset magazine here). My crafts are sewn. My cards are sent. My house is decorated. I just love these new felt ball garlands I added to our decorations this year which Janis spotted on clearance at Crate & Barrel last year.

One little problem.

I came home and I had purchase exactly two gifts. I also hate mall shopping. Thank goodness for the internet. Tomorrow I am going to tackle the rest of the in-person shopping. But here are some holiday finds that I have used to make things go a little more smooth.
     North Face Gear here at great prices. (They even send you a $20 coupon for your next purchase!)
     Desk accessories at West Elm with free shipping.
     Amazon Wish Lists with free shipping.

I'll let you know how the real shopping goes tomorrow. It's quite a list of place to go :)