Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's the MOST Wonderful Shopping of the Year...

Sing with me...

It's the hap-happiest season of all...
when the kids Christmas stuff in boxes
get shoved into three Walmart aisles
and then I come to call...
and the prices are slashed for one and allllllll.... 

Not the best rhyming I know, but you're making it sound wonderful.

TODAY is THE day I look forward to all year round!

It's the day I spend HOURS in the discounted Christmas Wonderland first trip to Walmart post Christmas.

It's the day when I buy up the little girl 50% off Christmas gift sets...and little boy gift sets too, if there are any still there to buy...those are gold. 
Cupcake body lotions and bath fizzies, because who doesn't want to smell like a donut, oversized hello kitty soap dispensers, ever after high make-up kits, hair chalk, stickers of snowmen,Thomas the train bath paints...

Turn This Into That: Ideas to Upcycle Toy Packaging

I'd like to invite you to play the youtube link below... to listen with me as you continue to read...

This is a song we toy-buying people can relate to...

Last night I did something productive with the toy packaging.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

the most Christmasy Family I know...

Back in 2000 I met a lovely young lady Rebecca at a New Year's Eve party.

That following summer husband Dion and I were married and moved to Chicago.

We have a mutual friend in our dear friend Gretchen, and so although Rebecca and I haven't spent a whole lot of  time together, it feels like we know each other pretty well.

We make good fb friends.

Soon after we became fb friends, Rebecca's love for Christmas became apparent. I remember these photos she posted on fb a few years back, of her and her husband Eric's apartment. I couldn't find it, but I specifically remember a picture of Christmas stove burner covers.  I was like, "this girl likes Christmas!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

RESULTS ARE IN...plus the Christmas cuteness of a PUPPY


In third place...THE PORTZLINES with the boys' melted crayon ornaments.
Great job guys.  I  LOVE them.  Super cool.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Be a GOOD Christmas Citizen--VoTe, VoTe, VoTe...

I became embarrassingly excited each time fb notified me to say someone had posted for the ornament contest.
Why is this turtle mad?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kris's Christmas Home Tour

I have a friend.  I love her dearly.  She has always been close to the heart of Christmas. For years Kris and her mom hosted a huge annual Christmas party/cookie swap for lots and lots of ladies. They baked and gifted and decorated.  They watched the Christmas classics together.

This has been a very difficult year for Kris, as it's her first Christmas without her mom directly by her side. And yet she bakes, gifts, and decorates.  Seeing her posts on fb, especially those honoring her and her mother's Christmas traditions has been meaningful for me. And so I've asked Kris if she'd open her home for all of us here at storybook-cottage, and share a little bit of what she's been doing this Christmas.  I was thrilled when she agreed.  Thank you Kris.

Now here for your Christmas pleasure is Kris's Christmas Home Tour...

I LOVE Christmas, and I love my home........and what we have made it. So, I was so honored when Linnet asked me to do a Christmas Tour of our home.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

10 Bright Ideas for Lighting Up Your Christmas Tree

Dear Reader, 
Every year I hope to get a little better, become a little more well-versed in my dealings with the enemy Christmas lights. I remain optimistic that my growing knowledge will in the end, triumph over the annual victories the Christmas lights seem to be winning.

I have little doubt that most of you have more common sense than I will ever be able to boast.
If you're a well-versed Christmas tree lighter, or if you've been generously blessed with the gift of common sense, this is not the post for you. Would you rather read about a lady with a squash for a head ?

But.   If you are one of my Christmas-light-struggling kindred spirits, or if this is your first year putting up a Christmas tree and have up to this point remained untouched by the unsuspecting havoc the enemy Christmas tree lights are responsible for...and here you are reading this, well then there is valid purpose here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Some Nights I Buy a 30 Dollar Tree in 30 Minutes, Grind Flour, and Make Cheeseball

"Some nights I stay up pureeing our pumpkins.  Some nights I make wheatberry bread. Some nights I wish that I could do no laundry. Some nights I make cheeseball instead..." 

Here I am still saying goodbye to fall.
Remember our painted pumpkins?  You can see them by clicking  HERE.  Well, the good thing about painting pumpkins is they are still usable after Thanksgiving.  This also means I can take them out of the food budget instead of the house decorating budget.  yay. yay.

We lost two pumpkins this year.  My glittery, giraffe, love pumpkin and Siri's little pumpkin.   rot in peace.

The others are now pureed in the fridge.  I will freeze the pumpkin in pre-measured amounts and use them for pumpkin spice cakes, muffins,  and pies this winter.

It would also make great baby food for Siri...if we didn't pretty much already have our own baby food store in the garage.  CLICK HERE  to find out more about that story.

Did I ever tell you how I went back and bought twice that amount? I did.

Here's a pic of the wheatberry bread and local honey.
and a candle and apples.

Last night I made wheatberry bread with the wheat berries ground a week ago by moonlight. Instead of sleeping at night, I do this stuff instead. And write stories about doing these things.

I feel a little silly telling you how to puree pumpkins.  Do you know how?  Many of you know how. But then again, when Sara was born (almost 11 years ago...whaaaat?!!),  I remember looking up recipes for "How to puree baby food" with not much luck. 

Turns out the making baby food knowledge is instinctual for most first-time mothers, so not a lot of information available.  There were recipes for different fancy baby food combinations, like oh I don't know, mustard green beans with alpaca (I just now google-searched "do people eat alpacas"), and how to make toddler food fun, etc., but not the simple

1. put the banana in the blender.  
2. blend.   

Which was what I  needed.

Go figure.

Anyway, here's how to puree leftover, painted pumpkins.  

1. Cut them up with a big knife.
2.  Place on aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet pans.
3.  Bake for 45 minutes at 375 or until soft all the way through.
4.  Let cool until you can handle them without burning your fingers off.
5.  Peel the peelings back.  They should peel right off.  If not, use a spoon or knife to help it along a little, like filleting fish.  I don't fillet fish.  But I know about it from when I was a kid, and that's what you do.
6.  Cool the now skinless pumpkin completely.  (may need to drain off excess water)

7.8.9.  Puree, Measure, Freeze.  The End.

So I may or may not have made an impulse decision to stop along the road and buy a Christmas tree with Sara.  Okay I did.  It's because there was a tree stand for 3 dollars! at the discount store. Logically we needed a real tree to go in it immediately.
THREE DOLLARS!  Half off of the half off price.  But the real tree was 30 dollars...not bad. except that we have a huge, already paid for, not as fun real tree assembled, with lights attached, sitting in our garage
Ta Da!  I used my superhero moving power strength.  In the house, into the only three dollar tree stand, and up it went. (You can read more about my superhero moving powers here.)   I have plans for this tree.  

And some nights, like tonight, I make Christmas cheeseball.  It is the only cheeseball I will eat.  ever. 

Now here for you is this recipe for "amazing because I said so pumpkin muffins".

They have gluten.  It's the holidays man!


1  1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. packed brown sugar (or coconut sugar for strange ones like me)
1/2 c. raisins (opt)
1 egg
1/4 c. vegetable oil (or substitute applesauce for strange ones)
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. milk (can use almond milk)

Preheat to 375.
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In another bowl, mix together egg, oil, pumpkin, milk.
Combine with dry ingredients until just blended.
Fill muffin tins (liners makes easy clean-up) 3/4 full.  
Bake 18-20 minutes. Good job.

Sara wanted to show you how the Barbie's are getting ready for Christmas...presenting to you...a youtube video by us....

Also:  I will not let you forget  Please don't forget about the ornament contest. We've had two entries already! One adult and one child entry.  Find the details HERE and win win win! 

Christmas time's a comin...
Look what's in the dough bowl.  I love the dough bowl.

My nose won't stop running.

I'm going to eat some cheeseball.

How are you making your today world beautiful?

Saturday, November 29, 2014


It's here!

If you'd like to win one of these prizes for Christmas, please read on.

If you don't want to win one of these prizes for Christmas, please instead read the story of Fred going to a yard sale here.

I like my ornaments "WELL DONE" prize:


KIDS MAKE THE BEST ORNAMENTS (12 and under) prize:
(the right mushroom is pink, not purple)


  • Make a tree ornament. 

All entries will be featured in a blog post on Dec 19th.  The voting will begin. You and your friends will be able to vote once a day for your ornament entry from the time the post is up until midnight on Monday, December 22nd.  

*If you're posting an ornament photo for the kids 12 and under contest, please include child's name and age with the entry.


  • MOST IMAGINATIVE--win one of the large doodle books!  yay. yay.  Check out these really fun books here on yesterday's post.  They're pretty great and make fantastic presents for kids AND imaginative adults.

  • KIDS MAKE THE BEST ORNAMENTS!--kids 12 and under contest.  Post a photo of your child's brilliant ornament, and they may win this set of Gnome Ornaments from POPchristmas. If you don't have a child, post your brother's or sister's or niece's or nephew's or grandbaby's or the ornament of a stranger kid living on your street. You may post for more than one child...all the stranger kids on your street for example. 

Isn't that bird feeder great?!  It has some nice reviews on amazon with pics.  Here are a few more...

these birds like it
more cats that like it
and the squirrel

this guy likes it too

Happy Ornament Making!!!

How are you making your today world beautiful?

Friday, November 28, 2014

I'm Dreaming of a DREAM BIG, DRAW BIGGER DOODLE BOOK...the beginnings of a Christmas Giveaway

It's here!  I have enjoyed this fall so much, and am actually kinda sad to see it go, but this morning I looked out the window and the trees are beginning to be mostly bare.
One of my favorite Christmas things is how it becomes a chance for all of us to get our creative on and use our imaginations.  Our traditions of making decorations, baking cookies, singing, and more importantly the connections that happen during those times are memories worth making and keeping.
Find this idea and other fun kid craft ideas on my pinterest board here.  They're made out of school glue.

If your kids are like my Sara, their lists are more-than-likely also filled with Elsa's and Anna's this year.  That's all good and fine. For sure our little niece is getting a package filled with her favorite frozen ladies. One of her presents that I'm kinda excited about is something found in the party aisle at Walmart.....icicle-resembling streamers that hang over a door opening!  It's like this one...

It will be like she's walking into a bedroom land of frozen!

(thank you for the lessons Bob Ross)

But if you're looking for something a little outside of the box, or even just something fun for the kids to work on over Christmas break, I have a gift idea for you!

Husband Dion came upon these books at a family outing to TJ Maxx last spring.  They were great for summer break.  So much fun.

I keep them in an accessible place, so Sara and I can easily grab one when we feel that  NEED  to use our imaginations and  MAKE  something.  They are like a glorified coloring book. Sara really enjoys working on them.

I too enjoy working on them. Really they're not only for kids. Here's one of my pages.
And here are a few more sample pages:

Now who do you know who wouldn't want to draw an octopus having a fight with a spider??!

There are also smaller versions.  You can find both sizes on amazon, and to make the deal even sweeter, with code "Holiday 30", they're 30% off this Black Friday weekend (until Sunday, Nov 30th). Click here for the black friday info.  Links to both size books are at the bottom of this post.

Now it's about to get exciting!!!
We of course are going to have a Christmas giveaway contest!

There will be three categories and three prizes...and a chance for your kids or grandkids or nieces and nephews or a stranger kid hanging out on your street, to join in too!  I'll post the info here this weekend, so if you have some mad ornament-making skills or would like to try having some mad oranament-making skills, please check back in.

In the meantime, here are the three prizes...
but the right mushroom is pink, not purple

(These cats like the bird feeder.)

How are you making your today world beautiful?

book links:
Large (and they are large!) Doodle, Imagine, Draw book.
Here's the smaller version of that one.

Large Dream Big, Draw Bigger book.
Here's the smaller version.

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