Sunday, November 28, 2010

Celebrating Christmas All Month Long : Advent Calendar

Oh December! I want to love you with your holidays, family get togethers and feasts. But every year you bring me such stress. Its really my fault with trying to squeeze in so much into so few days. Rather than waiting until January to wonder where you have gone, I will choose now to intentionally celebrate you ALL MONTH LONG!

There are so many gorgeous advent calendars out there! Some of my favorites are this one and this one... I have good intentions of making something amazing like that but with December days, literally hours away, I knew I needed to act quickly. I did a quick assessment of what I had on hand and I quietly vowed not to let my perfectionism get the best of me.

And here's what this blue house has hanging over our fireplace this Christmas season!

Its as simple as 4.5" X 6.5" cardstock rolled into a cone shape and held with a dot of hot glue. I printed numbers on water color paper and cut them with a scalloped punch. The frame is a painting covered in scrap fabric!

The absolute best part is what is inside the cones...simple activities for us to do as a family.
  1. Read every Christmas themed story we have in our library for bedtime.
  2. Peppermint hot chocolate!
  3. Make graham cracker houses
  4. Watch a classic Christmas movie
  5. Put together and send a package to a friend
  6. Bake! Bake! Bake!
  7. Stamp and paint our own wrapping paper
  8. Go to the kids Christmas program at church
  9. Decorate the tree
  10. Go on a drive to marvel at light displays
... and other fun stuff! Things that I always say we are going to do but we never really do it. On Sundays there will also be scripture for us to read as a family tracing the story of Jesus' birth, which of course is the real meaning of the season! My whole goal is to really embrace December instead of just watching this happy month slip by. I want to choose each day to live and celebrate intentionally.

How about it? I want to challenge you to get away from the commercialism and hype of the holidays and focus on family! (a homemade advent calender is a super place to start!) Two blue houses wants to help and we will be posting a bunch of ways to celebrate and give intentionally this season! And these posts are not simply posts, friends. This is how we live our life. Get on board!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good is the Enemy of Great

"It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

It is ironic how Jackie and my life is parallel to each other. But at exactly the same time she and I realized that while we enjoy our blog and are excited about the possibilities... it is just "good". We don't want to settle for "good". We want "GREAT"!

So we will be sitting down and creating a direction and mission statement for our blog. I know that both Jackie and I want to start living more intentional lives. And this blog is one avenue of doing just that. In addition, we are actively exploring ways to "open shop" and offer some of our creative ideas for sale. This is an exciting and long talked about time in our lives.

We can't wait to share with you our vision and hope you join us for the ride! In the mean time we will be making some posts. Possibly not at the same volume as before but we will get back there once our planning is done.

So until next time ...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Craft/Sewing Organization

Where are my good fabric scissors? Have you seen my seam ripper? Which of you kids hid my glue gun? Sound familiar... We are artists and we have supplies. But there is something about rooting through a giant tote of fabric scraps, glitter, and ribbons that discourages me from wanting to create. All those fancy organizing rolling carts with lots of drawers and compartments at craft stores are sweet, but expensive. I like to find solutions that are free. Who wouldn't. Hmmm... let's see... Some kind of a case that I could easily transfer room to room, or wherever my project would take me. Dividers or sections would be nice too. And while I'm dreaming, throw in that it will look super cute on display in a corner. After a couple days of contemplating, tearing the house apart and almost giving up and purchasing one of the above mentioned super awesome rolling carts, I remembered a set of child sized Samsonite suitcases that were mine as a child collecting dust in my daughters closet.

From that point on, things just fell into place A place for threads? Check! A pocket for scissors and needles? Check!

And a large middle section for all the bigger items!

In the other case, the top section is for all my patterns and paperish things like heat and bond and old wallpaper samples.

The bottom holds all the jars of beads and buttons and my wonderful glue gun!

The best part? Its small enough to really keep it organized! Double check!

And it looks so beautiful all closed up on display in a formerly empty boring corner of my room!

P.S. The bottom large case is my grandfathers old accordion.

P.S.S. All my fabric is still in a giant tote, but less cluttered and easier to rummage through.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Things I Love

Just a short list to wrap up the week.

1. Jackie found this great article about people who live in blue houses. I can tell you on my end that NOT all of it is true. I'd love an Audi, thank you very much. But I do love my blue house. I especially love this quote:
"In addition, the average "blue" homeowner is in a long-term relationship and has two children and four close friends."
2. Alphabet plates. Yup. Enough said. So cute.
3. A perfect solution to my tiny kitchen and storage issue. Watch the video and you will see the table extension can slide and be hidden away! My house is only 950 square feet and everything needs to pull double duty. I know the price tag is steep but ... here to dreaming.
4. Speaking of kitchen. I love Ikea's kitchen planner. Hubby keeps telling me that this spring we can overhaul the kitchen. We will see!
5. I successfully baked my first loaf of bread and ate it all myself! But here is the book that I used. I can tell you that I don't own this book. The library is amazing. I love the idea of artisan bread and I am impressed with a some of the other recipes. Not tons of pictures in this book and a surprising amount of copy for a cook book, but great picture by picture guide on how to make the basic loaf. And you build from there.
6. I love how my baby is growing every day. He just keeps me totally amazed.

Wade after he rolled over for the first time this week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

Easy-peasy fall recipe using squash!

Soups are big in my blue house. Growing up my grandma made soup every day of the year. Now I don't make soup every day but I do make soup all year round. Yes, I force my family to eat soups even in the summer. But fall soups are probably the best because nothing sounds better after raking leaves than heading home to a hot bowl of soup(except maybe hot chocolate... ) And this recipe is by far the kids favorite! This soup is soooo easy to make. Don't let the blender part keep you away from this recipe. Its too good to let an extra step scare you off. Plus butternut squash is inexpensive and can be found just about anywhere this time of year. Try it!
Butternut Squash Soup
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lb carrots
  • 3 whole ribs celery
  • 3 small onions
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 quart cooked squash, cubed or pureed
  • 1 quart broth ( or 1 quart water and equivalent bouillon)
  • whole springs of thyme (a couple) and rosemary (about 4 inch sprig)
  • In a large pot, saute onion, celery and onions in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When onions are translucent and other veggies softened, about 5-7 minutes, add squash and broth. Stir until combined. Add whole herbs. Bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for about 20minutes.
  • Remove whole herbs. Transfer in batches to blender and blend until smooth. Continue until entire pot is processed. At this point you can either reheat to serve it or freeze it for future suppers! ( I freeze mine in quart yogurt containers.)
(If you buy whole butternut squash, it needs to be steamed before you add it to the pot. The easiest way is to cut the squash in half, longways, scoop out the guts then place the hollowed squash cut side down in a shallow baking dish filled with one inch of water. Put it in a 350* oven for about 45 minutes to one hour. You want to be able to pierce the skin with a fork. When its soft, scoop out the insides and mash with a fork or run it through a food mill. Now continue with the recipe.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Inspirational Quote

Originally this post was to be about an easy "Bread from Scratch" method I found ... but I didn't have enough time this morning to finish the bread before driving out to Jackie's for a beet freezing day. Soooo ...

Instead here is an quote to leave you with and I PROMISE the "Bread from Scratch" soon. Very soon.

"It takes only one person to change your life - you."
-Ruth Casey

Quote is courtesy of

How have you changed your life?

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Heart Faces - Orange

This week at I Heart Faces the theme is orange.
What a perfect way to showcase a happy boy and all these colorful fall leaves!

Lots more orange at!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things We Love

Happy Friday! This morning Jackie and I are together so our lists are combined but we hope to have Lauren's List and Jackie's List of things we love from the week. Remember there will be a lot of dreaming happening on these lists.

Here's a short list of things that are making us smile this morning...

  1. Kids in cozy jammies reading "I Like it When".
  2. We love that came out with their new float + peace calendars yesterday. Thinking Christmas presents!
  3. Since our first dinner party was so much fun, we are doing another dinner party for a friends birthday Saturday night. Happy Birthday Heather!
  4. We indulged in a French Green Clay mask, today with egg yolk and olive oil. Faces feel AMAZING!
  5. This Posh Peasant Tee is sooooo Jackie! And she would like it BEFORE she wins the lottery. Hint hint.
  6. Lauren dreams of this Isabella Sterling Silver ring. Her wedding ring still doesn't fit after baby and it would be a great treat! Like HUGE treat.
  7. We love, Love LOVE homemade Christmas gifts! We are thinking this and this. Ooooh, and maybe this too!
See you Monday...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Introducing... Before & After

We have never really done a "theme" here at Two Blue Houses, but we thought we could give it a shot. There are tons, literally hundreds of themes floating around on blogs. Some having to do with days of the week, or crafting, or clothing... Each of them unique to the author. So we hunt...It must be cheap and simple yet inspiring and very accomplishable (is that even a word? well, you get it.) So here it is...

Before & After

and as the title suggests it is a mini-transformation. Nothing huge or life changing, but something that makes you feel good to complete, a big fat check on your "to-do" list.

Let's see how this goes, shall we?


a pile of huge mega blocks castle blocks left over
from cleaning and re-organizing the playroom

a super awesome castle bed for my 5 year old
(his older brothers are waaaay jealous!)

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