Buy Nothing Christmas

So, my mom, dad and sister came in this weekend and we exchanged our “Buy Nothing” gifts.  The point of “Buy Nothing Christmas” is to make something or do a service instead of buying a generic, overpriced gift from the store.  If you have to buy supplies, it should not be more than $5.00.  We were trying to be creative and see what we could come up with.  It was very neat and interesting what my family gave me.

Melanie, my sister, made me an apron and hand painted “Kiss the Cook” on it.

Kiss the Cook

My mom made me a devotional book.  It is very cool.  She took family devotions from our childhood that she saved and combined them with my first recital sheet music “Joy to the World” and family activities.
Family Altar

My other sister, Tiffany, who lives in Alaska made me a mini scrapbook out of dominoes.  It is too precious!  I absolutely love it!  When you open it up, it says: “Words that describe you”.  Sprinkled throughout are words that she attributes to me.

tiffany present

My dad made me DVD’s of our family vacations, childhood videos and a 1987 “Passion Play” our church used to do every Easter.  This is also a favorite gift.  I think they were all my “favorites”.  I am glad that my dad took the time to convert them from VHS to DVD and make me a copy for Vivian to watch.  I think Vivian will get a kick out of seeing her mommy at a young age.

I made all of the girls pretty whimsical pot holders with pretty fabric.  Vivian and I made the men a miniature box made out of an altoid tin.  Vivian painted the tins and I decoupaged them with different images and sayings.  On the inside we gave them a list of suggestions on how to use their little box.  Such as:  toothpick holder, really small pens, chinese fortune holder, stray screws, etc. 

Steven received a metal detector from my dad.  My dad either bought or received the metal detector as a gift many years ago.  After digging several holes in our yard, my dad was satisfied that there was not buried treasure located anywhere in the front or back of our property.  At that time, he put the metal detector up and never used it again.  My dad overheard Steven say he wanted one, so he dug it out of the attic and gave it to him for Christmas.  Well, it wasn’t very long before Steven and my dad disappeared and this is where we found them:

Digging for gold

At first, we kinda came in and out of the house laughing at them. I fussed at them for digging holes in my yard and told them to make sure that they filled them back in.  They found many roofing nails and a twisted metal, but we stopped laughing when they found this:

1920's Cosmetic Case

It appears to be a circa 1920’s silver cosmetic case.  That’s when all of us got interested and pulled a chair out on the porch to give advice on where they needed to dig.  In fact, my dad and Steven laughed at us and took a picture of us gawking.  Here is a picture of us with our food and drinks with a front row seat watching the “Gold Digging”:


Even Vivian caught “Gold” fever.

Vivian digging for gold

We also found a 1929 wheat penny and an old marble.  The marble was a lucky find.  It just turned up in a clump of dirt they turned over.  Last time I checked, the metal detector is parked close to the door so I am sure that there are many more holes to come and many more roof nails to find.  🙂

All in all we enjoyed our Christmas.  We proved that you don’t have to spend a million dollars or buy the “perfect” gift in order to have a good Christmas.  We focused on what is really important.   I did not want Vivian to grow up thinking Christmas was all about getting presents and I did not want to feel pressured to buy a lot of “Stuff” just to keep up with the Jones’.  I hope everyone liked their gifts and I look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come.



Yay! Holiday!

Today school is out and we don’t go back for two weeks! Yay! I came home and looked at my “To-Do” list…

Decorate [Check]
Send Christmas Cards [Check]
Buy/Make Presents [Check]
Clean house, get ready for family coming in [Double Check]

I got down to the bottom of my list and could not believe that everything is done! In fact, I felt a bit lost not having the pressure of “getting something done” this afternoon.  So, since I have the time, I am writing this short blog post to recap this past week in pictures.  It is nice to sit and relax and enjoy Christmas.

Over the weekend, we went to the zoo and had a great time listening to the music and looking at the lights. I felt a little bit homesick. Every year at City Park in New Orleans, they play music and light the whole park up with beautiful lights and trees that the children of the area schools decorate.  They call it “Christmas In The Oaks” It is beautiful and used to be (still is when I can get down there) my favorite thing to do at Christmas. City Park has a mini amusement park. It has some of the funniest things to do and, even as a teenager, I would get on the “Dragon Coaster” just because it was a tradition. My dad’s company would give us free tickets for a hot chocolate and a cookie. We always brought a neighbor friend and had a really good time.
Vivian at the Zoo

We had a Connect Group meeting at our house this past Tuesday. It was a lot of fun. We drank hot cocoa, cider and coffee and snacked. We also played UNO attack and for a while there, we thought we would never see the end of the game! But it was a lot of fun.

Connect Meeting

Connect Group 

Wednesday was Vivian’s school play and she was a very cute reindeer.

Vivian in her school play

Vivian the Reindeer


What does “home” mean to you?

Ok…school was cancelled Thursday due to the ice and snow. Today, the high is 74 degrees. What gives? Even though we have strange weather here in Louisiana, I still would not trade living in this state for any other. I have to admit that Louisiana is not the greatest state or the forerunner of anything (that I know of), but it is the only “home” that I have ever really known. I have often pondered moving to other states. I prefer warm climates, so living up North would be out. If I ever decide to move, it would definitely have to be somewhere in the South. What Louisiana lacks in mountain views and stable weather, it makes up in hospitality and good ole “caj’on” eating.

To me, “home” is hot summers with the promise of popsicles, rainy days with possible flash floods, a winter that only lasts 2 months, wearing flip flops from March to October (you probably could wear them in November too, but I have not been able to bring myself to do it…yet) and southern hospitality where everyone you run in to asks “howya mama and dem?” So, tell me, what does “home” mean to you?



Loft Living – Alexandria, Louisiana

On Sunday, December 7, 2008, Jim and Frances Hurst opened their loft home to host a Historical Association of Central Louisiana social.  Over one hundred guests stopped by to view the Hursts beautiful home and to ponder the idea of “loft living” in Central Louisiana.  The Hurst’s loft home is well appointed and tastefully decorated by Mrs. Hurst.  When I first walked through the door, this past summer for an HACL meeting, I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw and immediately felt like I was on an HGTV Television show set.  Jim and Frances planned and executed every minute detail in their loft such as the kitchen drawer pulls (hand made out of concrete by Jim) and the wall of square cubbies that displays the pottery Frances makes.   I enjoyed the Christmas trees in the center of the loft.  Frances Hurst said that it took her three days to put up the three trees.  So, if anyone is interested in creating a loft space in the downtown area of Alexandria, Louisiana, one has no further to look than right here at the Hurst loft to gain inspiration.

I was told that the building at the corner of 16th and Murray Street was an old hardware store and was empty when the Hursts bought the property to rehabilitate into a loft.  I do not have the historical details regarding the building.  I believe that the Hursts are having a hard time researching the origin of the building, as well as the history.  If anyone has any information, it would be most useful to the Hursts.  You can contact me through this post.  Here are a few pictures from the social.

Let it snow…let it snow….

I received a call this morning at 6:15 letting me know that I did not have to come in to work today. They were closing the schools due to the bad weather. Well, maybe I should back up, I did not hear the phone ring or the alarm go off. STEVEN, heard the phone and answered it and came back to tell me. 🙂 After I finally drug myself out of bed at 9:00, I looked out the window to see what the fuss was all about.
Sleet buildup on the SUV

I remember waking up a few times in the early morning hours hearing the sleet “ping” on the window. Then, I opened my email this morning and saw a picture my dad took this morning in New Orleans. They are getting a good bit of snow. Here is a picture of a Streetcar downtown where he works.

In all of my time living in New Orleans, I only remember it snowing twice. The first time I remember it being very cold and I was sick. My brothers and sisters and I all got bundled up, went outside and threw snowballs at one another. The next time it snowed, it caught us unaware. We all bundled up and scraped snow from the front yard, back yard, steps and neighbors yard together to form a 2 foot snowman! Then the last time it snowed, about 2-3 years ago, I was not there but I saw a video of kids playing in it.

I bet all of the people in Alaska (where my sister lives) and northern states are laughing at us right now! We get a little tiny bit of sleet and snow flurries and everything comes to a standstill in Louisiana! Oh well…(humming) “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas..”

Natchitoches Christmas Festival

This past weekend, Steven, Vivian and I joined Brad, Amy, Julie and Riley Scroggs at the Natchitoches Christmas Festival.  It was a lot of fun.  Here we are waiting on the parade.  It was loud and crowded, but it is worth going to see the Christmas lights, fireworks and shopping at all of the quaint shops that line Front Street.  We had a great time.  After the festival, we went over to Steven’s mom and dad’s house for a chat.  It was nice to sit quietly and visit with family.  All in all, we had a great weekend.  Today, it was back to the old grind.

I hope everyone is able to take a break during all of the busyness to spend some time with your family and celebrate the birth of our Saviour.


Christmas Decorating

Ok, so I know I am behind the game this year.  Everyone (besides me that is) has had enough forethought to dig out the Christmas decorations and get them up in enough time to enjoy them.  Maybe one day, in a perfect world, that will happen in my house.  We put up our tree Monday night and last night we (or maybe I should say, I) decorated it.  I did not worry about having to get lights or decorations.  I remembered that I had tons of stuff from previous years.  However, this seemed to be the year that all of the lights wanted to die.  I plugged the first strand in, BINGO, it worked.  I plugged the second strand in, same thing.  I wound them on the tree.  When I was pulling out the third strand of lights, all of a sudden half of a strand of lights went out.  No amount of shaking, wiggling or jiggling made them come back on.  So, I unplugged it, and went for the third strand.  I had the third strand out of the box (this is the one that has the 10 different light flash functions) and noticed that the wiring was exposed like something chewed through it (which brings up another possible problem…mice in the attic?).  So….I guess my husband noticed the look of frustration on my face as I stood on top of the ladder with three strands of lights that were not working, because he grabbed his jacket, keys and our four year old daughter and headed out the door to buy more lights.  That gave me enough time to sit on the sofa and reflect on the REAL meaning of Christmas and why we do all of this anyway.  Jesus is the reason for the season.

Here are some pictures of my Christmas decorating efforts.    Maybe next year I will have curtains up…maybe….

Tis the Season!  Make it a memorable one!