My word for 2013

Given that I am a very lucky girl – lovely husband, lovely children, lovely family and friends, lovely readers!!! – it took me a while to figure out how to narrow down my desire for the upcoming new year. More than anything, I want to make sure I make as much time as possible for those people who make my life worth living.

The first word was LESS – as in, LESS stuff, LESS things to fill up my house, LESS clothes that I don’t wear and just take up space, LESS energy put into friendships that have run their course. I find myself so overwhelmed at times with so many things I want to do, that I end up doing none of them. At least none of them are done well, and then, what is really the point?

But simply getting rid of things or clothes or projects wasn’t really enough. I do want to do all those things, but what about what is left behind? I don’t want to spend 2013 just ridding myself of items or wasted emotions. I want to enjoy 2013, and, hopefully, many years after that.

So instead of LESS, I chose FOCUS.

In 2013, I plan to be more particular about projects that I tackle, things that I purchase, and what I invest my time and energy in. Because I want what is chosen to mean more. And less time wasted on half-hearted projects means more time to spend with my family and dear friends. It is very difficult for me to maintain focus, so I think this will be a true challenge, but a rewarding one.

I wish you all the best for the upcoming year. Our first bash of 2013 is our Annual New Year’s Day Brunch; we provide all the waffles people can eat and our guests bring whatever else they want to enjoy, like OJ, bacon, eggs, etc. I am working on some sparkly items to decorate – see you next year!

The Lettered Cottage

To recap, in a slightly clearer version

2012 has been an eventful year here at Casa de Berry, so I thought I would do a little Top Ten thing and recap the most popular posts of the year.

* I did tweak the results a bit in that several posts about our son’s Superhero party made the top ten. The #1 post is unchanged, but I did add the other superhero party posts in there since they were all about the same event.

10 – Chloe’s Kitchen Cookbook Review – In an neverending quest to make our family eat healthier, I got this cookbook after seeing Chef Chloe win Cupcake Wars with her vegan cupcakes. We’ve tried many of her recipes and have never been disappointed.

9 – The Xenomorph from Alien – Another amazing creation by my husband. Our oldest hasn’t seen the movie but he did see the monster in a video and requested a costume for Halloween. Steve obliged, even forgoing sleep the night of October 30th so he could finish every detail. He watched proudly as our boy strutted his stuff at the school parade πŸ˜€

8 – It’s Scary Out There! – Our Insane Asylum-themed Halloween decor was a hit with neighbors and you, lovely readers.

My husband made this fabulous sign out of an old puzzle tray we had laying around.

7 – Our Garden in May – Our garden thrived this year, we had many, many tomatoes, grapes, avocados, pears, greens, blueberries, etc.

I am already starting to think about the 2013 planting season – whee!!!

6 – Dining Room & Kitchen Makeover – Where our dark, cave-like eating and cooking areas get lightened up. We LOVE the new look!

5 – Lego Birthday Party – It was my youngest’s time to choose and he chose his beloved Legos as a theme. My husband rocked the pinata, I made some Lego cakes, and we all had a great time!

4 – Embellished Kitchen Towels – Flour sack cloth kitchen towels made prettier with a plain old Sharpie!

3 – Button Initial Art – I got an 8×10 canvas on clearance and decided to make an initial with buttons. I’ve seen this all over Pinterest and many lovely blogs and was very happy with the way it turned out.

2 – Stereo stand to Craft tower – An old stereo tower had been languishing, collecting dust, and not being very useful at all, so I grabbed some spray paint and lovely peacock paper and transformed it into storage for my craft supplies.

And the most viewed post of the year was . . .
1 – Superhero party background and decor!!!! My husband and his mom – both very talented, created a mural for the Superhero birthday party.

It was hand drawn on butcher paper, the buildings spray painted, and the details painstakingly drawn on by hand and/or printed out (such as the lettering on the Daily Planet) and attached. The mural was the centerpiece of our boy’s party and afterward it was moved to his bedroom, where it covered two of the walls.

Here are the links to other posts about the birthday party – Masks & Capes, Superhero Cakes, and Superhero Party Invitations.

Feliz Navidad!

A proper Peruvian feast is not complete without a refreshing glass of Inca Kola. Seriously, best tasting soda EVER. My husband is addicted.

Recently we went to a restaurant supply place with his parents and they had trays and trays of lovely, golden, beckoning Inca Kola. My husband made a beeline for the shelves and picked up two trays.

To honor those Christmas Eve dinners of long ago, surrounded by my Peruvian family, I am raising a glass of Inca Kola to toast the family and friends I hope to see again someday.

Felices Fiestas!!!

And Happy Holidays to my non-Inca Kola-drinking friends, too ;D

Know when to hold ’em – and a blog hop!!!

and know when to fold ’em. And, people, I am so folding!

See this?

This is my office. Or rather, it will soon be known as The Area Formerly Known As My Office. TAFKAMO.

I love it, don’t get me wrong. I chose the sleek IKEA desk with red legs, I made those lovely bright file holders on top of the shelf. I made that little corner my own.

And for some reason, EVERYONE in the house wants to use MY computer. My boys (that’s my youngest there) love to play Minecraft on my computer. My boys’ friends come over and play Minecraft on MY computer. My husband uses my computer. Never mind he has his own desk and computer:

Although it’s now become The Electronic Dumping Ground. TEDG. I can’t say it.

My oldest has his own computer, my dad’s old laptop. Does he use it? No. Mama’s computer is so much better. It’s like food, they don’t ever want what’s on their plate but I sit down to eat and within 2 minutes one or two little monkeys will be sniffing around, asking for a bite.

So you know what? I’m Claudia, and I’m taking over πŸ˜€ my husband’s desk. I’m going to work with what is there. Which means, first, I will be taking everything off the surfaces, giving it a good cleaning, and then sorting through everything before I decide what gets put back, and where. I have plans for this little corner. My first project for 2013, I’m so psyched!!!

For now, though, I am co-hosting a blog hop with one of my favorite bloggy friends!

Please share the hop with your readers and let Katherine know if you would like to co-host with her.
Remember to leave her a comment if you are a new follower so she can follow you back:-)
Thursday favorite things is where you can link your favorite post or write a post about your favorite things You gain visibility for your blog and make bloggy friends too!
Here are the rules, yes there are rules. But just a few:

*** Follow Katherine’s Corner preferably through Email it’s on her sidebar (or facebook, google plus or twitter) And My Blog, Facebook, or Twitter too.
*** Visit as many blogs in the list as you can.
*** Share the button on your post.
*** No adult content blogs

Grab the hop button code from Katherine’s button page. It’s always nice to have the hop button on your post. It IS NOT mandatory; but a Link back to Katherine’s Corner is always appreciated.

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Cookie monsters

Last Friday my dear friend J and her kids came over for an evening of sugar-filled cookie decorating. My husband, my boys and I had such a great time that we decided this should be a monthly event ;D

J brought her delicious sugar cookie dough and royal icing – nom nom nom!

and we turned it into these:

by “we” I mean she, while I took pictures.

I had a gingerbread cookie kit so I made those:

Tough to believe from this picture, but my youngest has a “more is more” approach to decorating:

He was still being somewhat restrained here:

But then all limitations went out the window πŸ˜€

See what I mean?

Yes, there IS a cookie under there . . . somewhere!

I did love his heart-filled Christmas tree:

My husband and oldest boy went the more “precise” route ;D

There was also impressive modern artwork from one of our small friends:

And much merriment as tray after tray of yummy cookies came out of the oven. It was a wonderful, fun-filled, sugar-laden evening, and so much fun watching my boys having such a good time. Thanks for coming over, J and the E-team!!!

The Christmas Serpent

Okay, so the title may be a little dodgy, but really, check out what my awesome husband made this time!

The inspiration was one of the structures at a local park, which does a great holiday lights display for people to drive by. Last year, my mother in law commented that she really liked their Christmas sea serpent and my husband, of course, said, “you want one?”

He cut out the pieces out of plywood, then my in-laws helped with painting, drilling EIGHT HUNDRED HOLES for lights to poke through, and painting.

It looks pretty awesome, doesn’t it??

Here’s Mr. Awesome checking out his masterpiece, on his parents’ front yard:

Hope your weekend is wonderful!!! I am off to see if I should change the name of the blog to My Husband’s Awesomeness ;D

Serenity Now blog

Two favorite holiday movies

A few years ago my husband and I went to see Love Actually:

and it has become our Christmas Day tradition. At some point, after everyone is gone and the kids are busy playing with the new boxe-, I mean, the new toys, we curl up on the sofa and watch it. It has many of my favorite British actors and sweet stories, not all of them ending happily, much like in real life.

My favorite scene? When the Prime Minister is singing carols and reacts to his bodyguard’s voice — I won’t tell you any more than that πŸ˜€

The second movie is another Christmastime set story, but of a much different tone. This one not only has wonderful actors I love, but it has a historical background – even better! I give you, The Lion in Winter:

As a complete peasant who loves Hershey’s kisses above most other chocolates and is very happy drinking $20 bottles of wine instead of Cristal Champagne (yuck!), I will admit to having watched the original movie and not liking it as much. It’s probably due to the fact that nowadays acting is not so grandiose and standing around declaring things to the audience. Now I think these great actors bring a more “natural” feel, which I prefer. Which is not to say that Patrick Stewart and Glenn Close do not do “grand” here, but I prefer their subtle kind of grand, I guess.

To complete your disdain for me, I watched the classic film “Anne of the Thousand Days” and fell asleep, preferring The Tudors — like I said, I am a complete peasant. I like what I like.

I just realized both movies came out in 2003, the year when we got married. Awwwwww. πŸ˜€

It takes a village . . .

to brighten up our TV console during the holidays ;D

Over the last few years, we have been gathering pieces for our little holiday village, mostly on clearance or at 60% off.

It is my youngest who turns on the lights every day when he wakes up and gazes at the different buildings, like this little cottage:

isn’t it adorable?

I wouldn’t mind taking a class at this pottery studio!

And I am sure both boys would love to have a tree house like this one in the backyard πŸ˜€

although the kid on the swing seems to have suffered a mishap – oops!

We recently purchased another little building at Michaels, they had a 60% off sale plus 15% off that day only, so we scooped it up, it was the last one like it — I’ll show it to you next week.

Puttin’ some flair out there

Our sweet little Christmas tree is now up and delighting my boys with the colorful lights:

But when it comes to the outside of our home, we like our lights clear and steady. No blinkin’ for us ;D

We got a few extra pieces, some to replace items that had gotten damaged over the years. Like these huge red ornaments, they look great against the white garage door!

Between our two windows, we place this lighted wreath, which I love.

The swirly drop ornaments are also new this year. I like the different textures on them; smooth metallic, glittery, etc.

Our entryway has a bit of whimsy with a hanging Ho Ho Ho decoration that Steve painted, and a couple of welcoming pieces leading up to the wreath on the door.

On the front lawn we have some candy canes and sparkly accents:

I didn’t notice my youngest’s big wheel until I was editing the photos ;D but you know, that’s part of our home’s charm.

Are you decorating outdoors for the holidays?

Raise the red lantern

I swear when I saw the stack of them, I started power walking down the aisle with my poor husband going, “what? WHAT??”

You see, after many, many trips to IKEA, I was surprised to see dozens and dozens of the red Rotera lanterns just waiting for me to pick them up and fondle them. They’ve never had them in red. Or maybe they did, every single time I was NOT at my local IKEA, but anyway, they had them this time and Steve, understanding my giddiness, told me to grab more than one. He’s so awesome. He also got some small strands of battery-powered lights for some holiday crafting.

With our beautiful new living room wall color and chocolate brown accents, I knew the red lantern would be a perfect pop of color:

I am totally loving this look — right now our mantel is decorated for the holidays but my precious (ha) red lanterns are here to stay.