2013 Word of the year: DO

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I've had a favorite saying for several years. I didn't realize it at the time but it's true.  If you know me, you've probably heard it. It's a quote from Yoda...you know...from Star Wars?!
Yep, I'm a geek.

Favorite Projects 2012

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I can't believe that it's been a year...and what a year it's been. Here are a few of the projects that were YOUR favorites this year (okay...mine too).

In January, I showed you how to make this Valentines Day Felt Heart Wreath and pillows

My Favorite Christmas Poem

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In the words of one of my favorite poets. Merry Christmas my friends!

A Christmas Poem

by Helen Steiner Rice

I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book
And every year when Christmas comes, I go and take a look,
And that is when I realize that these names are a part
Not of the book they are written in, but really f my heart

For each name stands for someone who has crossed my path sometime,
And in the meeting they've become the rhythm in each rhyme
And while it sounds fantastic for me to make this claim,
I really feel that I'm composed of each remembered name

And while you may not be aware of any special link
Just meeting you has changed my life a lot more than you think
For once I've met somebody, the years cannot erase
The memory of a pleasant word or of a friendly face

So never think my Christmas cards are just a mere routine
Of names upon a Christmas list, forgotten in between,
For when I send a Christmas card that is addressed to you,
It is because you're on the list that I'm indebted to

For I am but a total of the many folks I've met,
And you happen to be one of those I prefer not to forget
And whether I have known you for many years or few,
In some ways you have a part in shaping things I do

And every year when Christmas comes, I realize anew,
The best gifts life can offer is meeting folks like you.
And may the spirit of Christmas that forever endures
Leave its richest blessings in the hearts of you and yours



Christmas 2012 - Projects and Family

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I can't believe that Christmas is only a few hours away. It's been a whirlwind...in fact, the last months have been a whirlwind...it's been like a Christmas carol....or several of them......

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes......
       Our home was the surprise house on Jennifer Rizzo's holiday home tour

Snow flakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes....
  These snow flakes would probably poke your eye out....and they're far too heavy for eyelashes...but just right for the Christmas tree.  I made snow flake themed ornaments for my extended family.  The children have their initials and the adults' are personalized with their names.

Brown paper packages, tied up with strings....
I wrapped all of our packages in brown paper from the Dollar Tree using ribbon from Costco and the outlet with hand stamped tags and chocolate Santa's. Total Cost to wrap everything was under $10.

These are a few of my favorite things. 
  Heck yes, these are only a few...I LOVE the holidays!

When the dog bites....
 This dog would never bite...of course, she was NOT amused at the hat....

Okay...that was fun....how about this one....

Oh the weather outside is frightful...
Actually it's not...it's probably 35 degrees and there's no wind. Not bad for December in Chicago, IL.

But the fire is so delightful.....
 Truly, it is. But the best part about it is that I'm sharing it with my family.

and since we've no where to go, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Oh it doesn't show signs of stopping and I've brought some corn for popping.
  Actually, dinner tonight was beef stroganoff over wide egg noodles.... but that didn't rhyme.

The lights are turned way down low. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
 A new stocking...for my new Grand-nephew. Finished at 3am on December 23rd...whew, that was close! ;)

Prayers for the families in Sandy Hook. 

I'll be back with more as time permits, but I'm spending time with family.  You see, for me the best part of Christmas is family...

That, and the look on my sister's face yesterday...when she opened her gift from me.....

Merry Christmas, everyone!


PB Inspired Glitter Santa

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I should have known by the way that this project started that I was in over my head....but I'd seen it, on Pinterest.... for the last two years and it looked easy enough.  Of course, the other versions weren't four by four feet!

Our Christmas Tree 2012 - The Story of Our Lives

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You may have noticed that I've been quiet since last Friday.  I've been spending time with my family and thinking of those impacted by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. I've struggled, as many others have, with whether to write...and about what to write. As I said on Serendipity Refined's Facebook Fan page on Saturday, I hope that in coming here, you will find a pleasant diversion or a much needed break when you need one.  I hope that you enjoy what I share as much as I enjoy sharing these snippets of my life.

Today, I'm sharing a few things from our Christmas tree.  We put up several trees in our home at Christmas time but the one that means the most is the 12 footer that stands in our family room because it's this tree which contains our most prized ornaments.

Oh, it's not what you may think. They're not expensive. They are, however, irreplaceable.  Each one of them, (numbering over four hundred at last count), has a story.  There's a macaroni necklace, made for my as a Christmas gift by my youngest when he was in preschool. There are salt dough ornaments, painted with water colors, made in  kindergarten by my oldest.

I'm blessed to have come from a close-knit family steeped in strong traditions. The gifting of Christmas ornaments is probably one of my favorites; especially in December.  On our tree hang ornaments gifted to me by my Grandparents on my first Christmas, a wooden thread spool strung with glass beads which I gave to my mother after having purchased it, in First grade, at our school Holiday Bazaar.

This tradition is carried on by my family to this day. My parents gift ornaments to us and to our children, my siblings and I do it for each other and our respective Nieces and Nephews. We gift ornaments to our sons, to the children of friends, and I gift them to my closest girlfriends.It's a reminder of their importance in our lives.

On our tree, Vintage ornaments mix with new;  store-bought baubles hang next to home made beauties but they all share one thing in common: they tell the story of the lives of our family.   As I hung these ornaments on the tree with my youngest this year, I smiled many times as he told me the stories of ornaments that came into my life before he did.

Stories that are shared, memories that are re-lived and new memories that are made each year as we decorate the tree.  I don't have a  favorite ornament, I have several...from construction paper hand prints, to paper plate angels, to gift tags and inscriptions written in the hand of friends and relatives who are no longer with us. Our tree reminds us of the people and events that have shaped the lives of our family.

I'm blessed to be able to add to the ever expanding collection this year and to have sons who are now nearly grown to do it for...and with.   As I sat, this afternoon, looking at our tree and this ornament, made by my son when he was five or six, my thoughts turned to the families and loved ones of heaven's newest angels.

My heart breaks for everyone who has lost a loved one...especially at the holidays....especially a child.

I won't say any more on this topic publicly, or on this blog, after today.  Please understand that it doesn't mean that I don't think of people who are struggling with tragic loss and remember them, every single day. It's simply too private and too sad for me to continue to do each day.

I choose, instead, to try to share happiness and beauty. I choose to create a memory or to help teach you how to make one of your own.  I choose to do what I can to  make our world worthy of the memories of all of those that we've loved and all of those that we continue to love each day.

Thanks, everyone, for allowing me me share and for taking your time to read.


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Jennifer Rizzo

Layered Peppermint Bark Recipe Tutorial

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Have you ever heard the saying "His bark is worse than his bite."?

I remember the first time I heard it, I think that it was my Grandma who said it to me when our kick ball went into the neighboring yard and we tried, unsuccessfully, to retrieve it from the less than pleased man who lived there.  Holy smacks, was he crabby...  And loud about it..

Snow(white) in the Dining Room - Christmas Tablescape

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Have you ever wondered what it looks like when Snow White and the guys sit down for holiday dinner at the castle?

Do you think that she has her staff turn the dining room into a wonderland that reminds her of her days back at the cottage in the woods?

I'll bet that she does. She always was kind of crafty...even when she had nothing to work with but a white table cloth, a burlap runner, a few bowls and some things that she gathered in the woods...including a six foot long birch log!

Woodland Winter Mantel..and NFL Fooball

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Sometimes, decorating for Christmas in a house full of men has it's challenges...like when they question why I'm doing it at all. Especially when I'm doing it on Sunday afternoon...in the middle of a football game.

The groaning and complaints about ladders blocking the television and vacuuming drowning out the sound  got me thinking....

I have come to the conclusion that my decorating for Christmas is the holiday equivalent of a Sunday afternoon of NFL Football. Yep. They're the same.

Star Tree Top and Werner, The Ladder

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I have a confession to make.  I didn't do all of my holiday decorating alone this year. 

In fact, I haven't since we moved into our home ten years ago.  

I have help...his name is Werner...he's a ladder.

2012 Holiday House Walk - Stop 19

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 Surprise! It's me, Kimberly from Serendipity Refined and I'm delighted to be a part of my dear friend, Jennifer Rizzo's, 2012 Holiday House Walk. Thanks so much for inviting me, Jen!

If you're visiting from the amazing Tricia's Morning T, welcome and thanks so much for stopping by!  Isn't her home glorious? She's got the most beautiful style and her photos...well, don't get me started or we'll be here all day!

Let's get this tour started, shall we?!

Wow! Keeping this secret has been one of the most difficult things that I've done since hauling my concrete urns inside from the front porch! Come in...let me show you what I mean.

Yep, that is a concrete urn in the foyer. You'll see the other one in the living room hearth. I filled them with live greens to give our home the smell of Christmas even though we have artificial trees. The urns were heavy as heck to move but worth the trouble once they were in place!

 The living room, dining room and foyer were decorated using birch logs, pine cones and mixed evergreen boughs. The goal was to create a winter woodland feel that would blend well with my collection of flea market finds and vintage ironstone using materials that were often free and readily available and didn't involve me getting poison ivy, or dealing with wild animals.


In the kitchen and great room of our home, pine cones and birch twigs are joined by vintage red plaid blankets and plaid flannel ribbon for a rustic lodge-like feel that I've decided is something akin to Paul Bunyan meets The Polar Express. It's much more casual and I have to admit, it's in these rooms where we spend most of our time and where everyone feels most at home.


The kitchen is the heart of our home. It's where we make candy and bake so many batches of Christmas cookies that I've stopped counting.  It's also where you can almost always find homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows waiting on cold Chicago winter days when I've been outdoors shoveling after the plows block the end of the driveway with snow and slush for the fourth time in 24 hours!

You may wonder why I decorate the one room in the house where I have my eyes closed most of the time. The answer is simple: for me, there's nothing like going to sleep to the glow of twinkling lights (and it keeps me from tripping over the dog when I get up in the middle of the night to see if it snowed or if Santa has arrived. You can read that story and see more photos of this room here).

Needless to say, we're still in the thick of the holiday season with DIY projects, baking, and the 12 foot tall tree in the family room still left to decorate. I've also got many more photos of these rooms that I'll be sharing on the blog in the coming days so I hope that you'll visit again soon!

Now, please continue to the next stop on the tour, Paige from Simple Thoughts. Paige is a wonderfully talented photographer, mom, and newlywed!  She's got a style that is as elegant as it is powerful.  She's honest, candid, and will make you feel like you've known her forever. 

If you'd like to start at the beginning so that you don't miss any of the other houses (including Jennifer's own home that was featured on the Pottery Barn blog this week), click on the button.




I'm linking to:
Embracing Change
On Sutton Place
Stilettos In The Mud - Home for the Holidays