Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Posts of 2011

Here you have it, the top 5 most visited posts of 2011. 

It's no surprise that three of the five most popular blog posts were about the nursery.  After all, Noah's birth was the big event of 2011. 

If you missed them, be sure to check 'em out here by clicking on the titles.

Here's to a happy, healthy and productive 2012 filled with lots of home renovations, projects and blog posts!

It's always surprising to see what posts get the most readers. Not surprisingly, these aren't my personal favorites (although I DID love creating that wreath). 

My favorites this year are the two big events that defined 2011 for me. 

My hope is that in 2012 this blog will be filled with even more inspiration.
May your 2012 be filled with peace, love and good health.

Holiday Happenings and Decorating

Happy Holidays . . .

For those of you who think I forgot to send you a Christmas card . . . I promise I didn't.  I didn't even get around to sending them this year. I'm contemplating sending a New Year's card, but since New Year's is only a few short days away, I'm not sure that is going to happen either.

I tried to get Imani and Noah's picture in front of the Christmas tree but Noah wasn't exactly feeling the Christmas spirit. He had a nasty Christmas fever so much of our Christmas morning looked like this

Although Imani was all smiles, since Santa brought her an Ipad.

Now that Noah's feeling better, maybe I can capture a cute photo before the tree comes down and wish you all a Happy 2012. 
If I don't get around to sending out cards . . . Happy 2012.

Work has been especially busy for me this year, so I haven't been able to post as much as I'd like. I'm still working on convincing Jason to post because there IS a lot going on around this little Cape of ours, but obviously my persuasive skills need improvement.

We didn't have our gingerbread making workshop this year either. In fact, we didn't even make a gingerbread house! You can see last year's here.

Before you think all I did this year was sit around reading "The Hunger Games" and eating bonbons, I shall have you know that we did accomplish quite a bit this holiday season.

For one, we had our big annual Christmas party but we failed to take

Trust me. It happened. 

It's probably one of my favorite parts of my holiday. I love filling my house with more people than it can hold and spending time with friends and family and watching everyone open somewhat ridiculous gifts at the white elephant gift exchange.  Of course the gifts we gave were collections of toothpaste and body wash that the coupon cowboy got for next to nothing at Rite Aid over the course of the year.

We Atkins also joined in over 2,000 other runners to run a 5k together in the Seneca Falls "It's a Wonderful Run." For me, Imani and Noah, it was our first 5k. For Jason, I don't think he counts it because he jogged with Imani and Noah the whole way. For those of you who don't know, Jason is a bit of an extremist with running. 

We had so much fun running in 20 degree weather under the Christmas decorations of Seneca Falls, NY hearing the bells jingling on the other 2,000 runners' feet. Thanks to Barb and Andy Reese for encouraging us to participate. It's definitely on our list of things to do in December 2012.

And of course, we also got our annual Griswold family Christmas tree -- one that was far too big to fit through our sliding glass doors, but one that Jason and his brother (this year's unfortunate victim who happens to own a truck) somehow managed to make fit.

I've honestly considered buying an artificial 14ft tree for next year because part of me feels guilty about cutting down not one, but TWO trees every year and part of me knows that it's only a matter of time before our sliding glass doors get broken from trying to cram a ridiculously large tree into our little house.

But once it's in and decorated, it does look beautiful.

Just don't look at it from behind, because there are so many ropes securing it to the wall!

We did manage to get the decorations up.  Most are simple, subtle touches throughout the house.

A pointsetta in an old tin bucket.

Christmas balls under a cloche.

Mints in an apothecary jar.

Pine cones with a little sparkle in a big round vase.

Santa's magical key.

We used real pine garland this year too.

I don't know how I would've ever decorated the original staircase in this house.  Remember, it once looked like this.  For more flashbacks to what our house once was, click the "Our Fixer-Upper" button above.

Thank God Jason learned how to use  power tool.

More decorations this year include Jason's latest obsession, "St Nicholas Square," which we bought on clearance at Kohl's last year after Christmas. 

In fact, we're going to Kohl's today to see if we can expand our little village.

While some might find these little villages a bit cheesy, we love how they look illuminated at night and we love the little detailed people in the shop windows.

Our nutcracker collection continues to grow each year. 
We have a display along the windowsill of our kitchen sink.

And random nutcrackers displayed around our house.

Our tree for our sitting room turned out nicely this year too. Once again, we placed the stand inside an old wash basin.

We made Candy Cane Valleys and Sprinkle Delights again this year.

And of course, we exchanged presents. 

I got this awesome ornament from my two nieces.

And Jason and I got matching duck boots.

But my favorite present didn't come on Christmas morning. Jason gave it to me a few weeks before Christmas.

I'd seen a Pottery Barn Santa painting online that I really wanted.  A lot of bloggers have replicated it. I showed it to Jason and asked if he could do it.

One night, he came upstairs and told me he had something to show me. When I came down the stairs, here is what I found on my mantel.

I absolutely love it.  He insisted I not blog about it because it wasn't a big deal to create and it's not his "original" art.  As you can see, I don't listen.

We still made Christmas tags out of old Christmas cards. You can see how here. It is a tradition after all, and we needed some tags for Mr. Noah.  It's getting harder to make Christmas tags from cards because so many people send photo cards now.  Don't get me wrong . . . I  cherish each and every one.  

We (finally) moved Noah into our upstairs bedroom and we moved downstairs into the room originally created for him.  I'll try to post pictures about that later.  I'm happy to report we are all getting more sleep now.

And that, my friends is my Christmas update.

Wasn't that better than a Christmas card?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Crafts for Procrastinators

I should probably start Christmas crafts in July or August when I have more time, but I think I've told you before that I'm a bit of a procrastinator, so you would never find me thinking of Christmas in July or August.  I've tried to change myself on numerous occasions to be more of a planner . . . and a morning person too . . . but neither has ever worked.

So Christmas crafts come to me in December, when there isn't a lot of time to get them done.  In any case, here are a few holiday ideas I came across on Pinterest. I hope to try at least a couple with Imani over the next few weeks. I hope you find something here that will raise your Christmas spirits.

These little bottle cap art are adorable. I would turn them into a magnet or a necklace. I love that you can use patterned paper or fingerprint sized art.

I've seen a lot of these little trees in stores and on the Internet. Some are made with feathers or other materials. This one is made with wax paper and is super cute. I would do a couple in different sizes and put them on an end table or mantel display.

Love these simple ornaments with black lettering. Super easy; super cute.

What little kid doesn't love any craft with candy? 

Turn them into an ornament, magnet or pin. Whatever you decide to do, these little button snowmen are whimsical, fun and simple.

I love that these are natural and organic. 
You could use them indoors or outside as a treat for your  furry or feathered friends.


I love texture and these twine covered ornaments will add an old-fashioned feel to any tree.

Every year I plan to make an advent calendar and every year I fail to do it. I love this one and hope to make it a reality . . . maybe if I start in July or August next year?

I love the monogrammed ornament and the bubble ornament. Again, these are really easy to make and would make a great gift.

So there you have it . . . a few quick and easy holiday crafts to inspire you if you're a procrastinator like me. Let me know if you make any of these or if you have any to add!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Decorating Walls

I used to have a lot of pictures on my walls -- pictures of my family and pictures of Imani but when we moved into our house, Jason and I decided that tons of pictures all over the walls just didn't look classy. 

In fact, I believe Jason said if the frames don't match, it's white trash.

I probably just offended half of my readers and all of my family members.

But take that up with Jason. I didn't say it. I have a whole other list of things I think are white trash that nobody else does . . . you'd have to ask my sister if you're curious because it's an ongoing list and I haven't ever written it down.

But I will tell you that 99.9% of the things on the list I have done . . . so in my opinion that makes it okay to classify it as white trash.

Anyway . . . we basically don't have any photos on our walls as a result of this conversation from so many years ago.  

In fact, we have one photo of Imani framed at the top of our stairs

 and one frame that was once an old window and now holds several pictures from our wedding.

Jason gave it to me as a gift and it's one of my favorite items in my house.

So everyone who has told me I appear to be a perfect home decorator or a perfect mom can rest assured I am NOT.  What kind of mother doesn't have pictures of her children on her walls, especially now with all of the cool canvas options that are available?.  I haven't purchased one, but I always think they look so nice, modern and clean.

Source: via Stephenie on Pinterest

In some ways, our house looks like a model home that is going on the market to be sold. 
We have a few framed photos on our dressers and night stands but something feels WRONG about not featuring your family in your home in some way, especially when you have a new baby!

And I am not a fan of digital photo frames.  I know there are a lot of digital photo frame lovers out there, and that's fine but it's just not me.  I don't like a lot of electronics in my house and to me, a digital photo frame is just another black plastic electronic eyesore.

So we've been wondering what to do with the wall going up the staircase. 

We thought about lininig it with botanical prints something like this.

But that wouldn't help me get photos on the walls.

And then we were inspired by the staircases of people who framed lots of black and white photos with white frames.  Take a look.

Source: via Stephenie on Pinterest

I even like this one, which is just a bunch of empty frames but my goal is to get more pictures of my family up on the walls.

Uh oh. I think I might need to find one of those fancy "&" symbols. 

So all summer we were on a mission to find cool picture frames (think antique) and Jason's been busy painting them white to prepare for our staircase gallery of our family.

We found some random frames at antique stores, garage sales and TJ Maxx.

I cannot wait to put it all together. . . but don't get too excited. It might take us a year to finish!

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