Monthly Archives: December 2011

Something’s Gotta Give

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I have been in the DIY mood lately, maybe it’s the holidays or maybe it’s my new interest in Pinterest (no wonder they chose that name).  Whatever it is, I am looking around my house and see it decorated with our handmade advent calendar, Christmas artwork on the walls, gift bags under the tree and garland strung around it (and our big piece of artwork that we painted last weekend is now on display in our yard).  It feels cozy and festive in here and I love it!  But if you look around, you will also see pieces of wicker from the basket that my dog has chewed.  The basket was supposed to be for his chew toys, but somehow it became a chew toy.  I see a spoon on the floor right now that Tatum threw off the counter.  I see a broken ornament in a bag that has been on the end table for a week now, and there is a new toothpaste stain on the white chair that just got cleaned last week.  And if I were very honest with you all, this is pretty good.  You should see what it looks like in the middle of the day when the kids aren’t in bed.

I don’t know how to balance home and life like some people it seems.  I don’t know how to have fun and get stuff done.  Even when I designate a day, like I did twice this week, to clean the house, I am not sure it is worth it.  I love stay-at-home days, but I question my progress on these days.  It seems like I am cleaning up the same thing over and over again, and since we spent the whole day at home, the kids are here playing and making messes.  Piper is pretty good about cleaning up, well sometimes.  But Tatum, she is just kind of crazy.  Today she dumped the game out after Piper and I had finished putting it away.  She threw three plates on the ground that were out to give back to somebody (not breakable luckily).  I had Piper pick them up, and then she threw them on the ground again.  She dumped over a bowl of salsa, got hold of a sharpie and put it in her nose, opened the container of blackberries and spilled them on the floor, and ate some chap stick.  I know this is not just my reality.  It is the case for many moms.  But it can be exhausting at times.  This picture pretty much captures Tatum.  She is standing on the coffee table if  you couldn’t tell.  Man, I love that little munchkin to death, but she is work.

little rascal

And so, friends ask me, how do you have time to scrapbook, or paint or blog?  And the answer is, I don’t.  I could get up right now and do a load of laundry or I could put the laundry away that is finished.  But, I am sitting down for more that a few minutes for the first time all day and I am enjoying the fact that the only sound I hear right now is the hum of the refrigerator and clicking of my fingers on the keys.  Like most jobs, there is never a point where you can really “get ahead”.  There is always something that comes up and each day brings new washing, dishes and messes.  Something’s gotta give, and lately it has been my house.  I don’t think this will always be the case, but it is definitely the case now.  A few months ago when I was struggling with my worth and my value and feeling like I was putting aside things that were important to me, I made some changes.  It has made life busier, but we are making it work.  I make time for doing those crafty things I like to do, even when the time seems like it can be better spent.  I have started tutoring kids through a nonprofit organization that focuses on some low-income neighborhoods in our city.  The best part about that was that I received a Christmas present from one of the students this week!  He gave me a hug and said, “Happy Merry Christmas!”  I really felt like a teacher again for the first time in a long time.  And I have started attending Share Your English nights where a bunch of us work with adult English language learners in a conversational and casual setting (click here to read more about that).  Brian and the girls are my first priority, and I don’t want them to suffer because of these commitments, but we make it work.  We make time, just like we make time for going to the gym and all the other things we value.  Something’s gotta give, and right now it is the stain on my chair and the pile of laundry that are suffering and sometimes I am okay with that.    My hope is that the stains on the furniture will be insignificant, but that our time together painting, and cutting and gluing will be made into memories.  One can only hope, right?

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Ristow Happenings

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Piper sees Christmas as lasting 25 days, and it truly does feel that way in the Ristow house.  We have been busy reading Christmas books, doing our Advent activities and just seem to have an all around busy schedule this time of year as I am sure is not unique to just us.  Oh, and can I just say at the top of fun and free things to do is going and looking at lights!  We walked around Balboa Island this evening which is always really decked out and the houses are just so pretty to look at even if they weren’t.  Earlier today the girls and I worked on a Christmas painting for our yard that turned out super cute.  It’s in our garage right now until we spray it with clear coat because the forecast calls for rain.  You can’t tell by the picture, but it is really quite big, maybe 2 1/2 by 4 feet. I had to do a closeup otherwise you would see all the junk in the garage ;).  Piper apologized for making Joseph look like he was wearing a dress, but I told her, “No worries!  He probably did wear a dress!”

We are usually the type of people who get our tree right after Thanksgiving.  While we do get excited about Christmas, we get it that early mostly because Brian has a few days off from work at that time and we usually head to Arizona right after Christmas so we are the folks that have our tree out on the street by the 27th if not the 26th.  This year we were a week late for whatever reason.  Brian managed to snap a few pictures at the tree farm that I thought I would share.  I LOVE these pictures.  The quality is not good and Piper’s outfit is pretty atrocious, but I love them because Tatum wanted to hold Piper’s hand and they held hands pretty much the whole time.  I love watching their relationship blossom as Tatum gets older.

We are big fans of buying our tree at Peltzer Pines (even though they don’t grow noble firs) because I feel like I am keeping the local tree farm in business.  But I love these pictures also, because I am sure that if anyone in Oregon, Washington or some other place that actually has seasons would laugh at this tree farm.  Everything from the dirt ground with the sprinkler hose running through to the palm trees in the background makes me laugh.  At least kids will be able to say, “we used to cut down our Christmas tree when we were kids.” Because I am not sure their kids will have the opportunity if they are living in Southern California.

We pulled out the decorations when we got home and had so much fun putting the ornaments on the tree with the kids.  Tatum found a porcelain bootie that was her “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament from last year and put it on the ground and tried to put it on her foot.  It looked a bit like Cinderella’s step sisters.  Piper and I made some cute garland to go around the tree using a large scrapbook hole punch, some cute holiday double-sided paper and a sewing machine.  And this time, I didn’t even get my mom to sew it for me!  If that doesn’t impress you, that’s okay, Piper was impressed.  She helped hand push the pedal which is a bit sketchy, but it worked.

And last, but not least, I have a totally note-worthy recipe to share with you (not to brag or anything ;)).  Tis the season to eat cranberries and turkeys and wine and cheese, right?  Well, I made a pretty darn good turkey burger that you should definitely try.

First, I made the turkey patties with a little salt and pepper, then I dipped them in egg and bread crumbs just for something different.  I cooked those up in a frying pan and topped a piece of toast with some cranberry sauce, brie and arugula and suddenly my ground turkey patty went from drab to fab!  Pair it with a nice Sauvignon Blanc and maybe some sweet potato strips and invite some friends over!

opened face turkey burger, perfect for the holiday season

That’s all for now.  It’s time for me to hit the hay.  Just 5 more days and I get the Mr. home for two weeks!  Can I just quickly apologize to those of you who look and find spelling and grammar errors in my blog.  I am the type who notices them when I read, but really, I am just too lazy and often running out of time on the computer that I don’t always give it a good proofread.  So please, don’t judge, don’t think I’m not smart enough to know the difference between there, they’re and their, it’s just sometimes my fingers try the best that they can to keep up to my brain, but it doesn’t always work out.  So, for those of you who are like me, sorry!

Feeling Crafty: a hodge podge of holiday ideas

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We are in the first week of advent and it would have been good if I posted these ideas sooner, but that didn’t happen.  I figured I would still go ahead and post.  It’s better late than never and if you want to try any of these things with your family, I am pretty sure they won’t mind if you are a few days late.  Advent is all about getting ready and exciting for the coming of baby Jesus.  So, it’s an exciting time full of anticipation for Christmas day.  I wanted to make an advent calendar last year, but never got around to it.  So this year, I did, on Dec. 1, but nonetheless I got it done.  It isn’t exactly how I wanted it to turn out, with the tools and supplies that I had it turned into my old standby of pennant flags, but still pretty cute if you ask me.

This local scrapbook shop has a machine that laser cuts out numbers and letters so, I had those done and just glued them on to the flags.  Super easy to make by the way.  They are 4 inches across the top, so one piece of 12×12 scrapbook paper makes 10.  Let me know if you want step by step instructions.  I was going to include them, but didn’t want to if it was going to be for nothin’.  Anyway, with a small sticky dot, I attached small pieces of paper to the back of each flag and every day is a new, fun and exciting activity!  Some are for me, like “girl’s night”, some for the hubby, some for the kids, and some for the family.  I included things like, decorate the tree, sing Christmas songs before bed, ride the reindeer carousel at the mall, Nail Day for Mommy and Piper, make cookies, take Tatum on a bike ride to look at lights, pictures with Santa, Mommy and Daddy date night, paint a Christmas tree poster.  I strategically placed certain ones on weekends and even had to arrange sitters and “dates” for our girls and boys night out.  This is what Piper and I worked on during Tatum’s nap time yesterday.  She didn’t want me to take Tatum’s and her picture down (is that proper English?  It sounds weird), because I already took 2 other pictures down of her.  I told her it would just be for 25 days or so, but she would have none of it.  She also went to town tying toole and raffia to the string.  Sometimes I have to let go of perfection in the name of having fun with my little munch :).  We enjoyed our time making it and so far it has been equally as enjoyable uncovering each day’s surprise!

day one!

Next on the advent activity to do list is this idea of opening a new book every night leading up to Christmas.  I heard about this last year and we tried it and really liked it.  I wrapped 24 Christmas books in brown paper and numbered them 1-24.  Now before you think that seems ridiculous, let me just say that 20 of the books were library books.  I raided the library and put those first, since I can check out books for 3 weeks.  Each night the girls unwrapped a book and we read it before bed.  Since last year, I have collected a few more from garage sales and gifts last Christmas, but earlier this week I made a trip to the library and stocked up again.  It is really better that way, because you can get a variety and don’t have to read the same books each and every year.

This year Piper helped me wrap them and then we mixed them all up and she wrote the numbers on them, well, most of them until she got tired of writing.  Here’s a picture of our books on the ground since we don’t have our tree yet.  Tomorrow they will be under the tree!  Here’s a picture of the girls last year with their book and cute matching jammies, how quickly my little Tate has change in a year!  So head to the library and try this I am sure the kids will love it!

This blog is kinda going to be all over the place, but I just wanted to put it all down while I had the time.  Let’s talk gift wrapping now.  I have some holiday table cloths that were given to me, but I don’t actually have a dining room table.  Plus, they aren’t exactly the color scheme I am currently going with, so I got the idea to use the fabric as gift bags.  I am sure I could go to the fabric store and find some really cute fabric to make these bags, BUT INSTEAD I used these table cloths that were FREE!

I collected my fabric along with some square shaped objects in a variety of sizes.  I folded the material and then cut out the material the size of my boxes and wood (so that the bags would be the same size).  And then, if you are lucky enough, like I was, you get someone to sew them for you!  While I was busy cutting and ironing, my mom sewed the sides up.  And here is what the finished product looks like, again, no tree.  Sorry.  Just a simple little raffia bow on the top.  I think toole or twine would look cute too.  Who knew going green could be so cute?!

recycled tablecloth

And now onto the next piece of business.  I thought you would like to know that this Tuesday, Dec. 6 is Saint Nicholas Day.  St. Nick lived a long time ago like in the 300s and died on Dec. 6th.  It is a really great story of a boy who inherited some serious wealth after his parents died, yet he chose to give it all away to the poor and needy.  Often by putting coins in the empty shoes of those needy individuals.  Of course, we know that St. Nick is Santa Claus’ namesake, so it may be worth reading about him.  Celebrating Saint Nicholas Day on this day with gift giving helps keep the focus of the birth of Jesus on Christmas day.  So, on Monday night, the Ristows will be choosing our shoes to put out on the porch and will wait and see what happens the next morning!  If you have young kids, I know VeggieTales makes a pretty good movie on Saint Nicholas.  It may be worth buying, renting or borrowing.  I found this video of Piper putting our boots out when she was two.

And last, but not least, I wanted to let you know about some unique Christmas gifts that not only will totally bless the person you give it to, but also support some really amazing global causes.  I’m calling it Christmas with a cause.  Have you heard of punjammies?  These do not go in the category with pajama jeans, let me just say that.  These are really cute pajama bottoms that are made by women in India who were rescued from a life of prostitution and are working to build a new life for themselves.  Talk about a good cause, and totally cute too.  Click here to go to the website.

My friend, Kaitlyn, just told me about this other organization called Sak Saum, which has a similar cause, but helps those that were forced into human trafficking in Cambodia.  This company sells handbags and other cute accessories.  It is really  worth checking out. The prices are reasonable and you and the receiver will both feel good knowing that your gift is kind of like a double gift!

cute wallets on Sak Saum

Lastly, I have to tell you about 31 Bits because these girls are my neighbors!  I am so excited for them because they are young little twenty somethings who went on a trip to Africa a few years back and came back with a vision.  They have started a company selling handmade jewelry from women in Uganda.  They have been pretty successful and I keep finding their product in new places all the time.  They even have a contract with Reef sandals.  I’m so proud of these girls, really!  Check out the website and read the stories of lives changed.  Truly truly amazing.

I know this blog was all over the place, but I hope that you walked away with something.  Go get your craft on, or your shop on or something!  I am hoping this wasn’t in vain on my part.