Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Little word 2010

Ali Edwards has a tradition of picking one word to focus on for the year.  My first ever post on this blog was about my word for 2007, breathe, which later in the year inspired the naming of my blog and as a result is still constantly in front of me.  I think on the whole I generally breathe pretty well now.

The last  2 years I didn't have a word but for 2010 I pick ACT ... not in the sense of pretending ... but more in the line of "just do it".  I have a bad habit of procrastination and my good intentions can get lost along the way so this year I will act.

Book Challenges on Royal Review

Royal Reviews is hosting a raft of reading challenges for 2010 and I thought I'd join in the fun.  The challenges run 1st Jan through to Dec 31st 2010 and all have four levels of participation:  curious - 3 books, fascinated - 6 books, addicted - 12 books and obsessed - 20 books.  The ones I'm going to join:

1.  !st in A series  Pretty self-explanatory ... read the first book in a series.




2.  2nd Reading Challenge  This is for 2nd in a series or second time you've read an author.



3. Fantasy Reading Challenge  Read any type of fantasy.



4.  Historical Fiction Reading Challenge  Love historical fiction so I'm in this one for sure.



5.  Romance Reading Challenge 



Putting myself in the curious category for each challenge.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ten favourite TV shows for 2009

Some things I watched this year ... in no particular order ... you'll notice we don't have foxtel.

1.  Rove ... it's really finished ... really?  Noooo.

2. Master Chef

3.  Flash forward

4.  Glee

6.  NCIS

7.  House

8.  So You Think You Can Dance Australia

9.  United States of Tara

10.   Thank God You're Here

also Hamish and Andy year highlights ... still funny second time around.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Top 10 Reads for 2009

A list of my favourite reads this year ... in no particular order.

1.  The Forgotten Garden by Katherine Morton

2.  March by Geraldine Brooks

3.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-time by Mark Haddon

4.  The Time Traveller's wife by Audrey Niffenegger

5.  Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

6.  People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

7.  The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n

8.  The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

9.  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

10. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene ... relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory .. but interesting.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Goodbye Harry

Today we said goodbye to our dog Harry for the final time.  The kids came to the vet with us and The Boy asked about a million questions ... Hubby was very patient with him ... I could have done with some quiet to be sad in peace.  "Why do vets kill dogs?" ... "Is Harry sad?" ... "Does he use a machine?" ... "Why do they burn dogs?" ... "Why do we want to not dig up the ashes?" ... "Can I keep Harry's collar in my room?" ... "How old is Harry" ... "What about old people?" ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A little Christmas Present ...

for you as partial compensation for slogging through my rambles this year.  A freebie template based on my layout 8.



I hope you like it.  You can download the template HERE.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A quick roundup of some books I've been reading.

I realised that apart from my Thomas Nelson books I haven't posted at all about what I've been reading since I got home from our trip.  So here's a quick roundup with very short comments.

The Forgotten Garden The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, a mystery The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton. "

My mum lent me this book and I loved it. I must admit I have a soft spot for tales that cover characters in different times and links them all together. Even though I solved the puzzle well before the main character it didn't ruin the story. Highly recommended.




Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the uniqueness of this story, the fantastical elements woven seamlessly into the everyday. Loved the whimsy and passion and the little taste of traditional Mexican cooking was a bonus. Very easy read but enchanting, definitely recommended.




Persuasion Persuasion by Jane Austen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An enjoyable read with Austen's trademark wit and amusing view of society. The heroine is Anne Elliot and she is wonderful and a mature women who finally knows what she wants and gets it.





Rites of Passage (Faber Fiction Classics) (To The Ends of the Earth 1) Rites of Passage by William Golding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is written as the journal of Edmund Talbot as he sails from England to Australia and his observations of life on board. At first I found it hard to get into but it was worth persevering with and in the end a good story. I really liked the journal style it was written in.


Rabbit, Run Rabbit, Run by John Updike

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Great writing but the depiction of life in this book is sad and depressing really.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Five #15

This will be the last friday five for the year ... I will not be blogging Christmas day.  Lots of good things to share this week but I'll keep it to five and save some for next year.

Our peaches are looking fabulous and some are ready for picking.

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I actually scrapped three pages this week ... hooray ... here's one.  The journaling is a condensed version of this post.



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My friend Donna is offering a freebie everyday until Christmas on her blog.  There are already some cute quick pages which are great for getting photos scrapped in a hurry so head over and check it out.

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Last weekend I made Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies.  What can I say about these except that I took them to two separate gatherings with rave reviews ... although I would have happily eaten the tray myself ... oh so yum.  Thanks to Amy for letting us in on the secret.

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and another Christmas song ... Oh Come Emmanuel by Rosie Thomas.  I couldn't find a youtube video but you can go here to listen ... enjoy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My challenge record is pitiful ...

 ... and yet I can't resist the lure of the challenge.  Yes, I am planning on making another attempt at Project365 next year ... my last attempt started in July 2007 I made day 155.  Last year I joined in 5 reading challenges ... and completed 1.  I currently have 10 challenges bookmarked for next year that I'm thinking of joining, so expect to see a few challenge join ups on here over the next few weeks.

First up though my worst performance in a challenge this year goes to the Take a Chance Challenge.  I officially completed none of the tasks although I did read a book for the first task:
Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)

Unfortunately I didn't review it straight away and I returned the book to the library and forgot the title of the book!

So next year Find Your Next Book Here is hosting the Take Another Chance Challenge with 12 new tasks and I'm going to make a better shot at it this time round ... really I am.





Basic Information
  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2010 until December 31, 2010.
  • Here are the participation levels. Feel free to do whatever level you want. You can also switch up or down midway through the challenge.
A Small Gamble: Complete any 3 of the 12 challenges described below.
A Moderate Gamble: Complete any 6 of the 12 challenges described below.
Gambling It All: Complete all 12 of the challenges described below.
  • Each challenge you complete and link up in the correct Mr. Linky spots (which will be posted on January 1, 2010) will earn you entries into a prize drawing at the end of the challenge. Some of the challenges are harder and will earn you more entries. If you complete all 12 challenges, you will earn 5 extra entries into the drawing.
  • The prize is a book of the winner's choice from Amazon (worth $25 or less).
  • Crossover books from other challenges is fine.
So here are the 12 challenges for you to pick from. The "easier" challenges are listed first, followed by the harder challenges that are worth more entries into the prize drawing.

The 12 Challenges

Challenge 1: Read Your Doppelganger (worth 1 entry)
Find an author who has either the same initials, the same first name, the same last name, or the exact same name as you. Read a book by this author and write a post about it. (If you try to keep your identity anonymous on your blog, you don't have to reveal what part of the author's name is the same as your name.)
Example: If your name is Susan Kasischke, you might read a book by Stephen King (same initials), Susan Donovan (same first name), Laura Kasischke (same last name) or Susan Kasischke (same exact name).
Challenge 2: Blogroll Roulette (worth 1 entry)
Find a blogroll at either your book blog or a book blog you like that has at least 15 book blogs on it. Go toRandom.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the number 1 for the min. and 15 for the max. and then hit generate. Then find the blog that is that number on the blogroll you selected. (For example, if you get 10 at Random.org, then count down the list of blogs until you get to the tenth one). Go to that blog and pick a book to read from the books that they have reviewed on their blog. Read it and write a post about it. Be sure to link to the blog post you picked the book from!

Challenge 3: 100 Best Book (worth 1 entry)
Choose one of the lists below and go to the link provided. Choose a book to read from the list that you haven't read before. Read the book and write about it.
Challenge 4: Prize Winner Book (worth 1 entry)
Pick one of the major literary awards from the list below. Click on the link for the award you picked. You will find a brief description of the award and links to past winners. Pick one of the past winners, read the book and write about it.
Challenge 5: Title Word Count (worth 1 entry)
Go to Random.org and, using the True Random Number Generator, enter the numbers 1 for the min. and 5 for the max. and then hit generate. Find a book to read that has that number of words in the title. Read the book and write about it.
Example: If you get 1 for your number, read a book that has a one word title. If you get 2, read a book that has a two word title and so on and so forth.
Challenge 6: Genre Switch-Up (worth 1 entry)
Go to this list of book genres and pick a genre that you have NEVER read before. Find a book from that genre, read it, and write about it. Note: If you seriously cannot find a genre that you have never read, then pick the genre that is as far away from what you normally read.

Challenge 7: Break A Prejudice (worth 1 entry)
We all have reading prejudices--authors we don't like, genres we don't like, or even publishers we don't like. For this challenge, think of a reading prejudice you have and then find a book that is an example of this type of book. Read the book and then write about the reading prejudice you had BEFORE you read the book and how reading the book either changed your prejudice or reinforced it.
Examples: I always say I can't stand James Patterson; therefore, I might read a James Patterson book for this challenge. Or, if you sneer at "chick lit" books, you might read a "chick lit" book. Or, if you think books published by Harlequin are pure drivel, you might read a book published by Harlequin. If you turn up your nose at the Twilight books, then you might read one of the Twilight books.
Challenge 8: Real and Inspired (worth 2 entries)
Many authors or books inspire others to pay homage to them by writing another book inspired by the original work. For this challenge, read both an original work and a book inspired by that original work. Write about both books in one post. Note: This might require some research on your part and requires reading two books so it worth 2 entries.
Examples: Christopher Moore's Fool is based on Shakespeare's play King Lear so I plan on reading both King Lear and Fool. Another example is Jane Austen, who inspired the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. For this challenge, you might read bothPride and Prejudice and the zombie version. (There are tons of other Austen-inspired books out there too.) Another idea would be a graphic novel version of a "standard" novel. The only real requirement is that the "inspired by" book must clearly state what original work inspired it.
Challenge 9: Same Word, Different Book (worth 2 entries)
Find two books that have the same word in the title. Read both books and write about them. (Worth 2 entries because you have to read two books).
Example: If you pick the word "Love," you could read any two books that both have Love in the title. To help you find books that have the same word, you could go to Amazon.com, type a word into the Search box and see what books come up with that word.
Challenge 10: Become A Character (worth 2 entries)
For this challenge, you can read any book you want. However, you have to write about the book as one of the characters from the book. The character can comment on his/her treatment by the author, other characters, the "untold story," what happened next, and so forth. You could even have two characters interviewing each other! Your imagination is the only limit. Because of the difficulty level of this challenge, it is worth two entries.

Challenge 11: All in the Family (worth 2 entries)
The writing gene often runs in the family. For this challenge, you need to find two authors from the same family (either by blood or by marriage) and read a book by each of the authors and then write about both books. Because of the research involved and having to read two books, this challenge is worth two entries.
Examples: The Bronte sisters; Stephen King and his wife Tabitha OR his son Joe Hill; Jonathan Kellerman (husband) and Faye Kellerman (wife); Michael Chabon (husband) and Ayelet Waldman (wife); Joan Didion (wife) and John Gregory Dunne (husband); Mary Higgins Clark (mother) and Carol Higgins Clark (daughter)
Challenge 12: Author Anthology Pick (worth 2 entries)
Find an anthology of your choice. Read at least 5 entries in the anthology. Of the 5 entries you've read, pick your favorite one and then find a book by that writer and read it. (If your first choice doesn't have a book, then pick your next favorite until you find a writer that has a book.) Write about the anthology, your favorite pick from the anthology, and the book you read by your favorite pick. Because of having to obtain and read two books, this challenge is worth two entries. Thanks to J.T. Oldfieldat Bibliofreak who partially inspired this challenge.

Example: If you choose a poetry anthology, you would at least 5 different poems, pick your favorite, and then seek out a book of poetry by that poet. If you read a short story anthology, you would read at least 5 different short stories, pick your favorite, and then seek out either a novel or another book of short stories by that writer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This years CD Calendars

Last year I made a CD calendar for my parents so this year I decided to do another set of pages to go in the case.  I finished printing last week and finally got round to cutting them out today.

2010 CD Calendar

I used the free template at Shutter Sisters ... I love the simple design ... and gave the photos a vintage look using the technique described in this tutorial at CoffeeShop but she also has a free action that will do the work for you.

My creation

You can take a closer look at the set on flickr.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Come Celebrate

We were supposed to be at my nephew's birthday party last night but my sister's been sick this week so it was called off so instead we went to this ...

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... Come Celebrate, the carols put on by our church in conjunction with the council and three other Blackburn Nth churches. I think they usually get about 10,000 people ... I'm not so good at estimating numbers ... there was a lot of people there last night. This is from the back of the crowd.

We had dinner and relaxed while the pre-show was on. The Boy was making sure Santa knew he had been a good boy.

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The kids choir is on early in the main show ... they were great ... Little Girl is keen to be involved next year.

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While the kids were up there they got a few of them to start the candle lighting. It takes a little while to make it round the crowd.

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Soon darkness fell and the night was transformed.

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Even Hubby enjoyed himself ... he doesn't like having to sit on the ground ... he's getting a bit old now :)

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Afterwards we drove over to 10 Canterbury Rd to check out the lights.

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It's completely over the top. There's more inside ... they have a tin to raise money for MS. Periodically it "snows" ... although it's a bit hard to see here.

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A fun Christmas night ... Little Girl wanted to know if we are going to do more Christmas things ... I hope so.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kabul 24 by Ben Pearson and Henry Arnold

Kabul 24 Kabul 24 by Ben Pearson


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read Kabul 24 by Ben Pearson and Henry Arnold as part of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers program. This is the story of the SNI aid workers held by the taliban in Afghanistan just before the 9/11 attacks. They were held for 105 days in horrid conditions and subjected to interrogations and intimidation. I remembered hearing their story in the media at the time and was very interested to read about it in more detail.

The actual story is very inspiring. The workers faith in God and his providence continued throughout the ordeal even through immense stress but we also see that they are normal people that still experience times of despair. We also get to see how the support of each other throughout their time in captivity helped maintain their faith and sanity. I was interested to read that quite a few returned to work in Afghanistan. Their love and concern for the people of Afganistan definitely showed through in this retelling of the story.

What let down the book for me was the writing. At times it read like a school report which prevented me from becoming fully engaged with the people and the situation they found themselves in and it was only the fact that this was a true story that captured my interest. I still rate it worth the read especially if you are interested in true stories of faith and missionaries.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Five #14

The leeks are flowering in the vege garden.

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In scrapbooking I have a Christmas page this week.  Our finished tree.  I am going to do a second page of photos of the kids decorating.

Spirit

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How cute is this:



I picked it up to scrap some photos of The Boy from last year's nativity.

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Something Christmasy:



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Awesome mashup of the Avatar trailer with the film Team America: World police.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You Speak English?

The school year is almost finished here which means the kids get to find out who's class they're going to be in next year.  Last week I had this conversation with The Boy:

Me:  Who's class would you like to be in?
The Boy:  Mr. English ... but he doesn't speak english.
Me: Oh?
The Boy:  No, he speaks Australian.

Anyway he found out he will be in Mr English's class next year, on Monday he got to visit and he thought Mr English was the best ... because they got to make nametags for their locker, tub etc.

I'll leave you with this fashion forward look brought to you by The Boy.

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Fearless by Max Lucado

Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read Max Lucado’s Fearless as part of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers program. This book seeks to answer how in the midst of layoffs at work, slowdowns in the economy, flare-ups in the Middle East, turnovers at headquarters, downturns in the housing market, upswings in global warming we can make faith, not fear, our default reaction to threats.Max Lucado deals with a variety of fears common in our society and looks at how we can replace our fear with faith in God. Each chapter includes stories and bible verses to illustrate his points and the book is written in an easy to read and understand style.I had no major disagreement with the contents of this book but there was nothing that was new either. When reading something like this I would look to be challenged in my thinking, to see things from a new angle or gain new insight on the topic but that was not the case here. This book would probably be helpful to people who are new to faith or as a reminder of what Christians should already know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Presents for the Teachers

Sunday afternoon was present making time at our house. First up the kids made banana bread for their teachers. They pretty much did it themselves except for cracking the eggs.

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While the banana breads were cooking they made some cards for their teachers. The Boy was given some Christmas stamps and a huge red inkpad for his recent birthday so we opened them up and gave them a workout.

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While the ink was drying they wrote some cards for their friends. The girls got theirs finished and the mini candy canes stuck on but The Boy wrote 3 cards then said he'd had enough. Luckily he doesn't finish until Friday so he has a few days to get them all done.

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By this time the banana breads were out of the oven. The recipe made three small loaves.

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Next on the list was hot cocoa. We made a few deviations from the directions given at Lollychops ... I'm notoriously bad at following recipes. We only had normal size chocchips so I made the mix in a food processor which cut up the bits into tiny pieces, also I've got no idea what non-dairy creamer is so I left that out.  The hot cocoa packs over there are gorgeous and love the colour scheme but it didn't go with the ribbon and decorations I bought so I altered the colours in PSE.   I'm sure I followed the directions to make the little baggies correctly but something went wrong because there was no way the paper cover was going to fit over the plastic bag, so I cut off the front and back of the paper bags and stuck them together to make tags.

Finally I wrapped the banana bread in cellophane, and tied both packages up with a red ribbon and finished off with these lovely dove Christmas decorations I picked up at Adairs for 20% off.

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I took some of the leftover cocoa mix to my sisters on Sunday night ... it was yummy.



Monday, December 7, 2009

One Year Older

It happened last week ... my birthday that is.  The day didn't start off in the best way.  We'd had the girls carols service the night before and I'd forgotten to hang out The Boy's shorts to dry when we got home.  A major insane moment followed before reality kicked in and I realised that 10 mins was not long enough to dry the shorts and luckily it was only low 20's so I sent The Boy in trakkie daks.

Little girl needed a plate of something sweet for her class party and the lamingtons that I was sure were in the freezer were no where to be found.  I did search the house ... sometimes I get distracted when I have things in my hand and put them down in strange places ... but no go, which meant a trip to the supermarket before I dropped them off at school.  Seriously do you ever have those days where it feels like you really might be losing your mind.  Hubby tried to make it better with fresh croissants and a bag of chocolates but I'm sure he was glad to leave the house. Getting back from school dropoff I hit the chocolates but Bailey's chocolate at 9AM ... not so good.

Later in the day this appeared ...

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but I had to wait for the next day to open it when my family were coming over to celebrate ... they all put in money towards it too.

Hubby also came home with Saralee cheesecake for my birthday cake,

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teahouse takeaway including peking duck which we usually don't get because it's a bit pricey.

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and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on DVD, so the day finished better than it started. I wasn't that impressed with the movie though, I guess they need to leave out a large part of the book but I think the storytelling suffered as a result.

Next day was my party. Once everyone was here I opened my present but then I couldn't go and play because that would be just plain rude ... I exercised a fair bit of self-restraint especially considering I'd been coveting this for two years now and had pretty much resigned myself to not having one.

The Boy joined in the candle blowing because we didn't have a family celebration for his birthday this year.

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As soon as everyone left Hubby took pity on me and did the dishes while I got stuck into the present. I suppose you're wondering what it is.

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A Macbook ... I think it was love at first sight.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Five #13

We have a few ornaments on the tree from other parts of the world.  This is one my parents brought back from South America.

Christmas Ornament
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Another fairly slow week with the scrapbooking but I do have a layout to share using two new products by Donna Duncombe, Winter Blues Cardstock and  Blue Glitter Alpha, as well as her Photomasks and bling from Shine minikit.

Let-it-Snow


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I finished up on the CT team at nuts4digi.com this week.  After our trip to the US I was feeling kind of restless, like their was something heading my way so I decided to put in my resignation to allow a bit more time in my schedule.  Debbie (the owner) has been the best boss and I have learnt heaps in the nearly two years I've been there.  I'll still call it my digi home ... I haven't found a place quite as friendly but now my visits will all be just for fun :).

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The Boy wants a Christmas Tree for Christmas.  He told Hubby about a week ago, but early one morning this week he crawled up into bed with me, gave me a hug and as we were talking he said he wanted a Christmas Tree because then Father Christmas can put his presents under it, he was also happy to wait until his birthday next year and then his presents can go under it the next Christmas ... love it ... we'll have to see what happens come Christmas morning.

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Raising awareness about breast cancer - The Pink Glove dance

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Joy ...

I'm a fan ...which is why when I saw this yesterday I couldn't help but bring it home with me. 

Joy

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rom 15:13
A little visual reminder always comes in handy :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's December 1st ...

which means today we put up the Christmas Tree.  I put the tree up while the kids were at school and when they got home they did the decorating.  Now we just have to wait for Hubby to get home so we can light it up.


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I also finished the Advent calendar. Last night I stuck the felt squares on the pegs ... actually broke out the hot glue gun which is always a scary thought. Each sock has a treat for each of the family and the days verse and an ornament to hang on our special tree. I took the verses from this post at Simply Sarah. Today's verse requires a branch which is obviously not going to fit in the sock but we'll put it out after the reading and that's what we'll hang the rest of the ornaments on.

Advent Calendar

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Five #12

This week's photo is of a piece of artwork Little Girl brought home from school this week ... not sure where she gets her ability from.

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This week's layout ... sadly my weekly layout pick is also turning into my only layout for the week ... scrapping time is few and far between at the moment.  I did this for the photography challenge at nuts4digi.com and uses Donna Duncombe's new cardstock Winter Blues.  Full credits HERE.

First-Day-of-Squad


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I've been thinking a little about what things we'll do as a family for Christmas this year.  I was hoping to get to Come Celebrate this year which is a carols by candlelight that my church is involved in but we have my nephew's birthday party on the same night.  I think this year we will go to Road to Bethlehem.  We've never been but know plenty of people who rave about it.
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If you are into crafting then you should check out Meet Me at Mikes 287 Links to Really Ace Craft Projects.  Yes you did read that correctly, 287 links.

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and lastly an Advent Calendar Project ... great idea.  I'm going with a different format but I hadn't decided what bible readings to use so this will be a handy reference.