Behind My Red Door

Behind My Red Door

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Still Giving Thanks!

Happy last day in November everyone!

It's almost new month and there is Christmas excitement in the air. At least Behind My Red Door there is. I love all the preparations and the fun of getting ready for Christmas. I am very late in shopping this year but it will get done and wrapped and under the tree in time. It always does. To me it is about so much more - especially the traditions. Every year for years and years DH has taken a good part of his vacation time in December and this year is no exception. I always had at least 2 weeks off from school, so we got to make some great traditions together. I'll share those as we go along this month. I love how I see him decompressing day by day and he really relaxes. I can tell it is starting when he plays Christmas Carols on his computer even as he works his tax, 401k and retirement planning strategies for the new year. This year he started before Thanksgiving - the planning AND the music. My early Christmas decorating must have rubbed off on him.
I am so thankful to have received some wonderful goodies in the mail this past week. I have the sweetest and most generous Webshots and blogging friends.

First, my sweet prim friend Sherri, over at Here Goes My Life, sent me this yummy smelling prim cinnamon heart. The cute tags says FRIENDS - isn't it sweet? I have it hanging off the wall lamp right next to my day bed and when the light is on, it fills the room with the scent. Sherri, I don't know where you found the time to make these wonderful hearts with all you have going on, but I thank you so very much!!
And I am very thankful to the very talented and crafty Debbie, over at Ribbonwood Cottage who sent me a package with not one but two Holiday Planners! How sweet and generous is that?!! She made the adorable one on the right and while she says it isn't practical, it is sitting right next to my monitor where I am jotting notes about all kinds of Holiday things. And I have to tell you even though I am super organized in most areas of my life somehow I have misplaced my Christmas Card List!!! UGH!! I have a folder that I keep it in, along with my Christmas gift list from last year, address labels, notes on what I gave the letter carrier and paper delivery person, extra money cards, etc. And that folder is stored 11 months of the year in a box marked Christmas and the box is stored on the shelf in the closet next to me. When I pulled the box out, I could not find the card list in either the box or the folder. I have no idea what has become of it. I can't believe it is missing. So now I have to start all over again but NOW I have this pretty and practical organizer on the left, and this won't get misplaced like a piece of card stock did. Thank you so very much Debbie! You saved the day with your thoughtfulness. I appreciate your kindness and generosity. And for those of you that don't know Debbie, you have to stop over and see her gorgeous tablescapes and all the great creations and treasures she makes with simple things like paper, fabric, ribbons, buttons and embellishments. She never ceases to amaze me.
And I am thankful to Pam, who is another talented lady, and a sweet friend from Webshots, (Pammikins601) because she stitched this absolutely wonderful Joy pillow for me. The back is the perfect dark red checked homespun, and the handle is braided from the same fabric (very clever!). I just love it. It is so colonial looking and I don't have anything like it. I decided it was much too special to go on the tree and it is hanging on the black jelly cupboard right behind me as I type. That way I get to enjoy it all the time. Thanks so much Pam for thinking of me and taking the time to stitch that with me in mind.
I am so grateful for all my Internet friends. I wish there was a way to gather you all together in my home so I could cook up a big meal and show my appreciation! And maybe we could do some prim crafts? !!!

I wanted to share a few pictures of most of my side of the family gathered for Thanksgiving Behind My Red Door.(and to show a few skeptics that we DO use this space Behind My Red Door) My brother and his family cook their own turkey and while they aren't here in person, they are in spirit. And you can be sure that every time we take a bite of our Potato Kugelis, we think of Allan! (we miss him and his family and his awesome spring rolls!)

Shortly, DH and I head over to our son's house as we are doggy sitting Brady while Jay and Ang are in Disney this week on their long awaited honeymoon. When Jay and Jen were much younger, we took them to Disney this same week - after the Thanksgiving crowds went home but before the Christmas and school break crowds show up - and it was perfect. Disney was all decked out with a million poinsettia's and hundreds of trees, but a fraction of the crowds. Jay and Ang researched and decided that was the perfect time for them as well and they have been waiting since May for this week. DH is sleeping at Jay's to keep Brady company, but I will head home in the evenings to our own bed - and my own computer :-).
DH's snoring is one thing, Brady's is quite another.
Until December - hugs, Linda

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Goodbye Fall and Hello Christmas!

Did you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving? We sure did Behind My Red Door. My side of the family gathered at our dining room table and enjoyed a great feast. We all came together in the cooperative spirit and everyone participated in making the meal. We long ago pared down the menu to our favorites, and everyone has their role. It's still a lot of work for me, but I enjoy hosting the day. I love that the day is about being thankful and sharing with those we love. With most of the crowd needing to move on to their better half's side of the family, all too soon the house was quiet again - except for DH snoring as he 'watched' the football games.

You all know how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE fall and I would never want to rush it away, but outside, it really does look like winter. Bare trees and shrubs, very little color, and everything is hibernating. It can look depressing if we don't stop and appreciate that this hibernation is just part of God's cycle of life and is part of the reason we are blessed with the glorious colors of fall that we do look forward to (not to mention every shade and hue of green come spring when it all comes to life again!). So, when the landscape is bare, save for some evergreens, and we are in a thankful mood, what we do hearty New Englanders do next?
We look forward to the blessed Christmas season of course! And it's beginning to look a LOT like Christmas Behind My Red Door! Actually is has been for several days now. We ate our turkey, my mom's meat stuffing-dressing, our traditional Lithuanian Potato Kugelis, our fresh cranberry-orange relish, sweet butternut squash, my apple pie and Pumpkin Crunch dessert, with fall themed napkins and plates, amidst all Christmas decor! It was actually quite festive and no one seemed to mind. That said, I am not sure I want to decorate before Thanksgiving every year, but it sure is nice to have it done this year, so now I can concentrate on other things as Christmas gets closer. And it is close! By the way, I got the Pumpkin Crunch recipe from Raquel over at Kitchen Mysteries and it was fabulous, easy to make the day ahead and is now a new 'staple' on our Thanksgiving Day menu. It replaces the Pumpkin Pie for the few us that like pumpkin!
I got the house all undecorated from fall extra early this year to take photo's for Mercantile Gatherings next issue that Twigs requested, and I got that CD sent out finally the week before last. Then I started decorating early for Christmas. I finished last Monday and in between dental appointments, career decisions, and Thanksgiving Day shopping and preparations, I took photo's for another special project. A Primitive Place is a brand new website dedicated to the Primitive and Colonial Decor and they have so kindly requested our home be their very first Holiday Featured Home!! The site offers tours of many primitive and colonial homes and exteriors as well as some great primitive crafting tips and there will even be shopping opportunities. Be sure to check it out! It is a work in progress and new photo's are added all the time.

Here are a few more pictures of the living room and dining room. I like to use greens much in the same way I used bittersweet in the fall. It's says Christmas instantly. I love the look of Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg,VA and Old Salem,NC and use them as inspiration and then add my own touch with family pieces, my Father Christmas collections, folk art and a few of my snowmen.

My finished wool wall hanging.

I love how this centerpiece came out.

Part of my Father Christmas collection.

To see a lot more of our Christmas Decor, click on this photo.


Among many other blessings this week, the very best we celebrated was Jay and Ang hearing the baby's heartbeat at Angela's routine prenatal visit yesterday. I was just tickled when they called on the way home from the appointment. It just adds to the excitement in the air.

When I come back next time, I have to share some goodies that arrived in the mail this week. I am constantly touched and moved by the kindness and generosity of my fellow bloggers!!

So until next time- many thankful hugs, Linda

(PS I have to apologize for not posting some tags and awards that came my way last week when I wasn't blogging- please forgive me )

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks!

Dear blogging friends, I am so sorry I have been mostly absent the past week - there has been a lot going on Behind My Red Door and with several dear and close friends. I just didn't have it in me to be blogging when they have endured tragic losses in their lives - loss of loved ones - much too young as well as those who have lived long and fulfilled lives. Others have lost their jobs, their security, retirement income, and more. Our hearts are heavy and go out to each of them.

Behind My Red Door, we have not been immune. Thankfully, we have not lost a loved one. I have been having some dental pain that keep resurfacing for over 2 years now and really came to a head last week and was puzzling a team of experts. Finally, just today they found the cause, and I will have dental surgery in 2 weeks. I am so hopeful this solves the ongoing problem.

In other news, DH will be starting new employment after the first of the year. We have had some very tough decisions to make in the last week and those decisions are ongoing. Needless to say, it's added a little stress to our lives. We hope that by Monday, we will have some solid answers. I am so proud of this man for always doing what was right by his job and his family. He worked hard no matter what it took and his comfort often came second. We have always had a good life because of him. I am so thankful because this man is still providing for his family. Because we have so much. Because we want for nothing.

I am so thankful DH is humming along to Christmas carols as he works away on his laptop.

I am so thankful that he gets to enjoy a long well earned and well deserved vacation. It will be fun to have him around so much after all the traveling he has done for 2 years.

I am so thankful for his wise and thoughtful planning and his judicious saving. The wonderful home he has provided us all these years, the food on the table that we will enjoy this Thanksgiving Day, and the good times we will have because of his hard work.

I am thankful for the good thoughts and well wishes from our dear family, close friends this Thanksgiving week. They mean a lot.

I am thankful for this room full of craft supplies that will keep my hands, my heart and my mind busy during this time of many decisions.

I am thankful that my dental problem was finally discovered and there may be an end in sight!

And mostly I am thankful for the love of this wonderful, caring man. I know this will only bring us closer as we work together to decide our future. It will always be bright with him by my side.

To each of you reading this - I pray that God will bless your Thanksgiving with warmth and happiness and fill each day with the richness of His grace.

I'll be back some time after Thanks giving with some Christmas decor and some fun news. Until then - hugs, Linda

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whatcha Working On and I Got Mail!!

It's Whatcha Working on Wednesday again and I have been slowly getting some Christmas decor out. I say slowly because I keep getting interrupted. I am very thankful that they are not all bad interruptions though! On Monday, while was busy getting my Christmas Decor out of the attic and decorating my feather trees, I never heard the mail come. When DH got home, he found not one, but TWO boxes waiting for me. It was like Christmas in November!! Now DH works a long day in the office and often needs to get right back on the Blackberry or laptop right dinner, so I have dinner ready when he walks in the door. It was soooooo hard to wait until dinner and clean up were done to dig into those boxes.
I started with the box from my prim friend Rondell over at Tomatoe Creek Prims. She was my Christmas Stocking partner for the swap we signed up for over at The Robin's Nest. (Robin did a great job matching us!) She has emailed me that she got my box and we had agreed ahead of time that we could open them right away. Lookey lookey - Rondell picked the perfect card to go with all my goodies - just perfect for a Grammy to be isn't it? Thanks for thinking of that Rondell - that was so sweet of you!!

Look at all the packages I got to open - I was about squealing by this time!! There was even a can of cashews - but I think DH 'borrowed' those just as I was fixin to snap the picture!
You bet I tore into the that tissue paper! Look at all this swap goodness! OH MY!! Rondell went above and beyond - and I am the lucky recipient!!
Look at the prim stocking she made. I know she just learned how to do the blanket stitch, but you would never know! And I love Prim Snowmen stitchery. I don't have anything like that so he will be a welcome addition to my Christmas decor and he can stay out all Winter- doing double duty! Rondell, I am so thankful and honored to have these treasures that you put your special touches on just for me. I know you watch your grand kiddos sometimes and have a busy life so thank you for taking the time to make those for me. And see the prim Angel ornie? She will look great on my tree and what prim girl can't use a new candle holder. And did you see the cute little crow's inn? I already put the believe sign on the whale shelf in our bedroom -perfect for the season! (you'll have to wait until the shelf is all decorated to see that folks - sorry!)
And there is even more!!I love the homespun towel with the date stitched on it (more wonderful handwork) and the paddle is already in my crock with my other utensils. I love the snowman ornie and red tin star and old fabric ornie - they will be welcome additions to my prim tree this year. And can you see the doggie bone? There is a pocket to hold a picture of our sweet Brady!! Rondell you thought of everything! WAIT - there is still more - some yummy spinach dip (I'll use that Christmas Eve!!) and some cinnamon sticks - I use them to stir my Chai Tea!! You were a great swap partner Rondell, and I love ALL the goodies in my box. I will treasure it all, especially those that you made just for me. Thank you so very much my prim friend! You made me giddy!!

After I came back down to earth, I got the other box - it was from my sweet friend Colleen over at And Baby Makes Five. When I opened the box I found this. Hummm... I wonder what this is all about??

Colleen's note said it was a "just because" gift! Now how sweet is that? My heart was melting that once again, someone in blogland would do something so kind. Look at these prim fall napkins and plates for my Favorite Season!! I love the pumpkins and crow! I was thinking of using them on Thanksgiving, but I just might save them for next fall. It will make one more fun thing to look forward to!! (did I tell you I love Fall??) Then again, I might not be able to wait!!
Back here, Colleen posted her recipe for Chai Tea. Well if you read my blog with any frequency, you know I love Chai Tea so she included some of that as well. I had a cup that night and last night and it is wonderful!! If you like Chai Tea or want to try something spicy and warm, check out her recipe. It is a keeper.
Can you read the cute tag? It says - For the next chapter Behind Your Red Door
Okay, this one got me blubbering - yup hubby came down the hall and couldn't imagine what was making me cry this time. Colleen stitched this saying that is a favorite in her family. It says "What happens at Grammy's, Stays at Grammy's". It surely will be a favorite of mine in the not too distant future!! Are you reading this Jay? hehehe It's already sitting on my desk!
Thank you so very much Colleen for finding time in your busy day as a mom of 3 active kiddo's to make and send me these treasures. I am truly moved and touched and very thankful indeed to have met your through our blogs.

Now back to what I have been working on... here is a sneak peak of a few Christmas things I have in place. THIS is what I made my gingerbread men for! Back in 1985, when we still lived in our other home, Country Living magazine featured a Scandinavian Tree like this. David made it for me that year and I used it for many years. I don't remember why I stopped, but for the last few years it stayed in the attic. I had already planned to bring it back out when Colleen posted the recipe for ornamental gingerbread dough on her blog. (I had lost my recipe down behind the stove!!) I hot glued strips of homespun on the back of the men so they wouldn't twist and turn. I love how it came out. Someday, I'll make a row of edible ginger bread men for the grandkids, but for now, it's just for show.
One of my 'German feather trees' and old stitchery I did many years ago. And my winter blocks that I bought from Kindra. I love to use real greens but they dry out so quickly with the heat on, so I use some good quality 'faux' greens in with the real thing.

Thank you for all the interesting and thoughtful comments on my last post questions. I guess most of us feel the pinch of time when it comes to blogging. We love meeting so many wonderful people, reading many wonderful stories and seeing the pictures of each other's homes and families and lives and getting to know each other. And we all do our best in our own way to get to our favorites as often as we can, while still maintaining that balance. I know I am thankful for what blogging has brought to my life. It has opened doors that I would never have walked through before. It has connected me to gals in all walks of life, at all ages, all over this great country and beyond! How exciting is that??!!
Now take a moment if you can to stop over at Leslie's My Country Home, to see what other bloggers are working on today! Until next time - hugs, Linda

Monday, November 17, 2008

Is there ever enough time?

Here it is, the beginning of another week and this guy is still standing (or should I say sitting) guard over the front garden. He doesn't seem to mind that the trees are mostly bare and that there was frost on the grass this morning. He's staying there until Thanksgiving Day to greet the family. Poor guy is going to be confused when the Christmas decor goes up inside this week. Yes, it is very early, and I never put it up before Thanksgiving but I have my reasons. First of all I took of all of my fall down early because my magazine layout for Mercantile Gatherings was moved up to spring. Tiff (aka Twigs) asked me to help them out, and I was happy to oblige. So fall got packed away early this year. And I am decorating early for another reason (nope, not a magazine) and I'll share it with you as soon as I can. I am thankful that others enjoy my decorating and find it worthy to be featured. It makes my heart sing! Speaking of Mercantile Gatherings, my friend Kathy's Home on the Hill is in the current Holiday issue. I have heard her home looks gorgeous (and I am not surprised!) so I can't wait to pick up my copy later this week when I visit one of my favorites stores, Homestead Primitives in Fitchburg, MA. Here's a peak at her lovely home last Christmas.
I am thankful for all the get well wishes this weekend. Luckily my cold never really blossomed past some minor sniffles. That zinc really seems to do the trick. I was able tackle some of those things on my to do list. On Sunday it turned very cold and windy, so while DH watched the football games, and while I made cards and tags, I had a big batch of Swedish Meatball soup simmering in my smallest Nesco. (What's a Nesco? read about it HERE) It sure helped to chase any lingering sniffles away. This soup starts out very similar to chicken soup - with carrots, celery and onions. My DH's Swedish Nana's recipe called for 2 beef bouillon and 1 chicken bouillon cube for about 3 quarts of water. I don't use bouillon - I use beef and chicken base - I get it at BJ's. It is the same type of paste that pros use in their soups and it has real meat in it, unlike bouillon. I also add lots of pearl barley - we like our soups thick - more like a stew, so the more barely, the better. Not only does it thicken the soup, but it is good for you! Did you know that it has just about the same health benefits as oatmeal? Except for special occasions, I do cook as healthy as possible. Lots of whole grains, limiting red meat, extra veggies wherever possible and only the best dark chocolate! LOL A few red potatoes peeled and diced will round out the soup's starter. You let that simmer until everything is tender. Since I make it in my slow cooker, I let it simmer a few hours. About 20 minutes before you want to serve it, bring it almost to a boil, and slowly add your uncooked Swedish meatballs one at a time and cook until they are tender. Nana's meatball recipe calls for 1 egg, 2 slices of white bread ( I use whole grain) minced onion, black pepper and allspice to each pound of ground beef. I use ground turkey breast and add a little of the beef base and they are just as good as the beef meatballs and so much better for us. When I first started making the turkey breast substitution in this and other ground beef recipes, I also add some Gravy Master to darken the meat (it helped to fool DH.) Now, he has learned the recipes taste as good so I skip that step. We usually love a hearty whole grain bread with our soup, but this one doesn't need it so we just have a few crackers on the side. I always double or triple this and freeze it in batches. I am thankful I have it to pull out on a busy day when a bowl of steaming homemade soup is the only thing that will do. I am thankful my DH thinks it is a worthy meal too!

Those unfinished to do lists seem like a common theme among us bloggers. I see a lot of gals have their UFO listed on the side of their blogs. Mine is on my desk. I like those long narrow prim note pads meant for shopping lists - they are perfect for my to do lists. I have a pad for just about every holiday or season. I have always enjoyed nice paper and stationary and cards. Sometimes when I shop with a friend, the only thing I come home with is a cute note pad. Here are the ones in my stash right now. I often but 2 of each -I keep one in the kitchen for shopping lists and one on my desk for my to do list. It helps to make my chores just a little bit more fun.Getting around to other blogs and answering all the comments is always one of the things on my to do list that I never have enough time for. There are just so many blogs I love to visit and each time I make a post, more new bloggers find me and then I find their blogs. I just can't add any more blogs to my blog roll - but I wish I could spend all day reading both familiar and new blogs.

Karen over at My Yellow Farmhouse posted some an interesting questions about how to answer comments and whether or not to comment on every single post on everyone of your favorite blogs etc. It got me thinking and I wanted to mention it here. I find that I only answer comments when it is a blogger not on my blog roll because then I won't automatically see their next new post, or if someone asks me an actual question. Then I go to that person's blog and answer the question there so they don't have to take the time to come back here looking for the answer. I normally wouldn't think to go back to some one's blog and re-read comments to find an answer so I wouldn't expect my readers to come back here either. It's just too time consuming - it's like reading the same post twice. (Edited: I like how Janene from a Primitive Lifestyle put it - I like to contact them personally. Thanks Janene! )That is just my personal preference thought, and I know other bloggers do what works for them. And I don't comment on comments just for the sake of that. I usually watch my blogroll and then when my commenters update their blog roll, I make a comment then. It seems to be the most efficient way for me to blog. What do you do? Do you answer questions from bloggers in your own comment section or do you go to their blog to answer it? Do you comment on every comment (not question) that bloggers leave you? Do you comment on every post you read? I will admit, some times I don't comment on every post because of lack of time. If you post about a give away on another blog or a topic I am really not interested in, I might not leave a comment that particular time. But if your post really speaks to me, I might write a short story in your comment section - LOL. I guess it all boils down to too many great blogs and not enough time and trying to be as fair to everyone as I can be. And let's face it, some blogs are more our style than others. Since we can't possibly visit every blog as much as we'd like to, we each have to decide which ones we want to visit. I know that my style is not for everyone and I am not offended if every blogger I visit doesn't feel the need to visit me the same way. I hope that my system allows me to touch base with as many of my favorite bloggers as I can in the span of every few days. And like Karen said, after all, this is supposed to be fun and relaxing, right? And once again, it is all about leading a balanced life. So that said, I am thankful for everyone that takes the time to read my blog, and while I LOVE hearing from you, if you don't comment or don't comment every time, I understand and appreciate your visit any time.

After our soup dinner, we went to visit our son and DIL and this sweet guy - our grand doggy Brady. Brady and my DH truly have a special bond. When Brady sees that we are coming (he looks out the picture window) he waits at the top of the stairs and he prances back and forth until DH gets to the top step, then he hops up on the sofa and takes his place, waiting for his Grampy to snuggle with him. It's so cute to watch and I am thankful DH gets so much joy from Brady. When Jay and Ang take their delayed honeymoon in 2 weeks, DH and I will be Brady- sitting for the week. DH will actually sleep at Jay's house and I will spend a good part of each day there with Brady. You can bet the boys will get in plenty of snuggle time!

I wanted to share the picture of the wedding platter I ordered for Jay and Ang's wedding reception last May. Instead of having our guests sign a book that they would more than likely never look at again, we had the guests sign this platter. I ordered the platter and the special pens used for signing it from Say Anything Designs. They offer many different sizes and styles of plates and platters as well as other personalized gifts. I found their customer service to be top notch.

The kids picked out the design they wanted and the size and shape of the platter. After the reception, I baked the platter according to the enclosed directions, and now it can be used for serving food, if they choose. They decided to display it above their front door. They can be used for other special events - like anniversaries. How many of us know a couple celebrating a special anniversary and they have everything. I bet they don't have one of these and would enjoy the useful memento from their special celebration!! Just a thought.

That's all from Behind My Red Door. Thanks for stopping by and have a great Monday. It is time for me to get to my Monday chores and a little decorating - that is if I don't get distracted by even more blog fun. I hope to be back for Whatcha Working on Wednesday. Until next time - hugs, Linda