My Weekly Friday Favorites – 12.9.16

friday-favorites

It’s Friday, and I’ve been thinking of a way to incorporate a weekly blog feature that I could change up each week. Today, I’m introducing my weekly Friday Favorites feature. I will include items or ideas that I found interesting or inspiring during the week.

  1. My household has adopted an Instant Pot. We purchased the 6 in 1, 5-quart, on sale from Amazon. So far, the hubby has cooked a whole chicken, and chicken, potatoes, and carrots. The instant pot cuts the cooking time, and everything that we’ve made so far has been tasty. Easy prep and clean up, too.
  2. I have several of the Robert Sabuda pop-up Christmas books. His latest entitled The Christmas Story may be one that I’ll have to add to my collection.
  3. Chalk paint is a new favorite of mine. I recently painted  a brown tray that was sitting on our       coffee table. The color is Tranquility and adds a nice pop on the red and white runner. I have also repainted three pieces of furniture with chalk paint and detailed those here.

Until next time,

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Searching My Family History

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Tracking my genealogy

I have always been intrigued with my family history. Where do I come from? Where did my ancestors live? One of my hobbies is to research my family history. I am so interested to see my family’s story come to life. In my research, I discover pictures, birth, wedding, and death notices, newspaper articles, and of course, censuses.

My dream, someday, is to visit the places where my ancestors lived. One of my paternal great-grandmothers was born and lived in a town that only ten minutes from our home. It’s amazing to me that we have settled in an area that is so close to where she, her parents, and her siblings lived.

23 and Me

I read an interesting article not too long ago about the distribution of DNA among siblings. In wanting to discover my background further, I ordered the 23 and Me DNA and health test kit. I chose the 23 and Me over the Ancestry DNA kit because I wanted the health report, as well.

I followed the directions that were enclosed with my order and then logged into the website and filled out the questionnaires that were part of the registration process. One of them related to what I believed my ethnic background was. The other questionnaire related to what I knew about my health issues. It also asked about auto-immune issues including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

My results

My ancestry results were as follows.

Based on my genealogy research, I knew that my genetic makeup was European. The one that surprised me was the 4.1% Scandinavian background. I do have a great grandmother that came from Denmark, but there has got to be more to that equation. Definitely fascinating.

One of my sons was so interested in this that he asked for his own kit for Christmas. I am excited to see what his results show.

Until next time,

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Gift Giving and a Free Printable

TwitterIt’s hard to believe that Christmas is a little over two weeks away.  For many of us, there is still much planning, shopping, and wrapping to do.

Our decorating is done with the exception of our tree. My husband loves having a real tree each year, so we continue that tradition. We purchase and decorate our tree a week before Christmas and take it down after New Years. We plan on purchasing and decorating one next weekend.

GifT giving

I am thankful to be done with our shopping for this year. I blogged about the ornaments that we purchase here as part of a family tradition. Due to personal circumstances, I did all of our Christmas shopping online.

Wrapping gifts is something that I enjoy doing. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be one the gift wrappers at the department stores. There was a local department store in my town, and they would have tables with two or three different types of wrapping paper to choose from. I loved watching them wrap each gift and top it with a colorful bow. Perfection.

I’ve created some gift tags for you to use to label your gifts. You can print them off, cut them out, and use a hole punch to put a hole in the top. I use twine or string to attach them to our gifts. I like the simple touch that it adds to the gift.

 

Until next time,

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A Tour of My Studio Office

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I spend a great deal of my time in my studio office. It serves a dual purpose, and I have filled it with some of my favorite things. I spoke about my studio office and shared a few pictures in a previous blog post. I thought that I would give you a more detailed tour today.

My studio office used to be my son’s bedroom. When he changed rooms, my hubby and I debated what to do with the space. The room has a pocket door that leads to what used to be my other son’s room.

We live in a ranch style home. Since the rooms were down at the end of the master bedroom, we didn’t want to create a guest room. We have other rooms in the home that could serve that purpose.

Instead, we turned one bedroom into my studio office and created a doorway from the master into the other bedroom to create a walk-in closet or dressing room. The pocket door still exists but has a shelving tower in front of it on the closet side. We don’t use the pocket door, but someone could change that out in the future if they wanted to.

Storage areas

One aspect of my studio office that was important to me was having adequate storage. The room isn’t terribly large and having a place for everything and everything in its place was important to me.

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Armoire storage

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Closet storage

Bookshelves

I love books. I can’t help it. There are three bookshelves in my studio office to help house my obsession. They also give me space to separate out my books by topics.

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My desk

My desk was purchased about two years ago. Originally, I had my son’s old bedroom desk which was too heavy and bulky to move to his new room. I wanted a desk that had several of the same components of the original desk but was more my style.

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My craft table

My craft table has seen a lot of paper and glue sticks. I do a lot of paper crafting but will also attempt anything that appeals to me. Pinterest is a great source of crafting inspiration to me like it is for so many others.

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Until next time,

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Printables for Christmas

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With the holidays approaching soon, I thought I revisit my Christmas printables put them all into one post for easy access. It comes up so quickly, doesn’t it? You can also access all of my printables under the Free Printables tab at the top of the blog.

Gift Planner

 

Christmas Card Planner

 

Christmas Dinner Planner

Also, I created a Christmas Planner to do list. I am all about a to-do list, so I can cross things off when they are finished. It’s a nice visual cue.

To-Do List

 

These trees are part of my studio office Christmas decor. I used wooden snowflakes and small, blue ornaments. These trees will stay up throughout the holiday season and remain up until March. I like the extra glow that the lights provide on the dark Winter evenings.

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Until next time,

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Pretty Organizational Storage

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I am always searching for pretty organizational storage. Items don’t need to be stored in what’s expected. You can use pretty, functional items instead.

Before organizational storage became a mainstream obsession, I was looking for ways to organize myself and my growing family. At that time, there weren’t a lot of storage options that were also pretty to look at.

Clear office desk trays

At that time, one of my favorite storage options is one that I still use today. I bought clear office desk trays that would go inside of a desk drawer to organize pens, paperclips, and rubber bands. I liked that you could see through them to the drawer liner below. It added functionality to the drawer along with the liner adding a pop of design and color.

Office supplies being used to organize items in a bathroom? Not exactly what’s expected, but it worked for me. They still work well, and I use them in three of my bathroom drawers to keep my nail items, makeup, and hair items organized.

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Other storage ideas

Fabric covered boxes –

Pretty organizing doesn’t just need to be where it can always be seen. I started purchasing fabric covered, divided boxes several years ago at TJ Maxx and Homegoods to add a pop of pretty when I open a drawer. They organize everything from ribbon to odds and ends.

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I’m  sure that they would be fairly easy to make, but I haven’t taken that plunge yet. When I do, you’ll be the first to know when I blog about it.

File boxes –

File boxes do not always have to be used for their intended purpose. I have several file boxes that I’ve repurposed to serve other needs.

One idea is to go vertical. A clear file box is used in my desk shelving area to store my address book, birthday book, and notebooks that I use frequently. The colors in the notebooks make it visually appealing. You could use a patterned filing box, as well.

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I also recovered a white file box, that I purchased at Target, with fabric. I used different fabrics with complementary colors on the top and the bottom. The fabric gives it more visual appeal and makes for great storage from my scrapbooking letters and stickers.

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Boxes, bins, and baskets –

I am always looking for a place to use boxes, bins, and baskets while organizing. I use boxes to store smaller books and notebooks and bins to do the same in my cupboard or closet.

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A gift box bin that I purchased at World Market was used to store my Silhouette items. I removed the ribbon and slid it onto the shelf underneath my Silhouette. It fits perfectly and keeps the items contained and within easy reach.

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I store my washi tape in a tiered storage box. To add some pretty to it, I cut scrapbook paper to match the size of the box and cut it to the depth of each bin. It created a seamless look that hides all of the tape rolls.

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In my studio office, I use a silverware caddy as a place to store pens, pencils, and highlighters that I use on a regular basis. I also use a canister to store markers that I use. It adds more visual interest than a typical storage container.

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In our master bathroom, I use a jar candle holder to store my face creams and essential oils on my bathroom counter. It is deep enough to keep them contained, and I like the design on the container.

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I use a clear nail polish holder to store my essential oil bottles. I added a small slip of paper to the front to add a pop of color.

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Storage tower  –

My office studio was a craft closet. I had a few storage cubes and a scrapbooking storage tower. When I created my office studio, I repurposed the storage tower into a jewelry storage piece. It has wheels on the bottom and is easy to move around.

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I also use three, small coat racks that hold my bulkier necklaces and bracelets where they are easy to see and access.

Until next time,

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Decorating for Christmas

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I change out the decor, in my home, for each season. The rooms that see the most change are our kitchen, living room, and my studio office. I also add a few items to our master bedroom and bathroom.

During the Christmas season, I mostly decorate for winter. In this way, I can leave the decor out longer. We put out our nativity set, and our Christmas tree is put up about a week before Christmas and stays up through New Years. Our children are grown now so this works for us. It may change if we have grandchildren some day.

In my studio office…

Candles are a large part of my decor. I am a sucker for good smelling candles and pretty candle holders. I talked about that in a previous blog post.
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I’ve had this shelf in my studio office since day one. The decor never looks the same twice. The smaller frame holds our Christmas card from last year.

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Our kitchen…

This piece graces the center of our kitchen dining table. It is a long,  wooden, narrow candle tray. Love.

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The sideboard in our kitchen dining area.
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Metal snowflakes that I purchased over ten years ago take center stage behind some greenery purchased around the same time.

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The plates and mugs were purchased around ten years ago, as well. The candy canes are hand blown and were purchased recently on Etsy.

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This candle graces the center of our kitchen island. I took a cake plate, added a small, colorful wreath, and a clear candle holder. Quick and simple.

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I purchased the olive bucket several weeks ago. The lantern has filler inside of it. I’ve used the filler in clear bowls and vases before. I have other lanterns in my home that don’t know

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Our living room…

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, my nativity set is from Willow Tree. I have added to it throughout the last eleven years. My most recent addition is the angel in the back. It is a tree topper, but I thought that it would make a nice addition to the nativity set. You can purchase it here.

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I received the bowl as a gift about 15 years ago. It included a floral arrangement. I added Christmas ornaments and a candle to it this year. I put extra ornaments in the tray that it sits on for extra sparkle.
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Until next time,

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Our Favorite Tradition

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Blending our families

When my hubby and I got married, we blended our families. Our four kids are five years apart in age, and we wanted to make the transition as easy as possible. This transition included buying a house that allowed each of our kids to have their own space. We made sure that the biological parent handled any difficult conversations and consequences. We also embraced any routines or traditions that each family had. Especially, eating a piece of cake in a bowl, with milk.

Another thing that we did was to combine all of our family recipes into a recipe book. Our kids found favorites that were known only by the other family before we were married. Many of my favorite family memories were made when we sat down at the dinner table. We did this as often as possible. Even with our varied diets, we still make some of the recipes when we have family get-togethers. We’ve also been able to change some of them to accommodate our eating needs.

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Creating a Tradition

We wanted to come up with our own holiday tradition. What we chose isn’t all that unique, but it is special to our family. Each Christmas Eve, our kids received an ornament that highlighted an experience they had in the past year.

Now that our kids are grown, we continue to purchase ornaments each year.  If we don’t see our kids on Christmas Eve, it is the first gift that they open when we do our gift exchange. My hubby and I also purchase an ornament to add to our tree that signifies something important in the year that we’ve had. Since my hubby’s daughter got married this year, I purchased an ornament to signify the special event. I caved and gave it to him early. It’s hard for me to keep surprises from him. He is the same way with gifts, so it works out.

Until next time,

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Support Your Chronic Illness and a Free Printable

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In my last blog post, I talked about living with a chronic illness. I’ve learned a lot during this time and what you can do to help support someone that is dealing with a chronic illness.

Do your research –

Once I was diagnosed, I wanted to get my hands on as much information as I could. I have spent time reading books, pouring over websites and blogs, and looking for natural products to use. My latest read is The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook by Mickey Trescott, NTP and Angie Alt, NTC, CHC.

One of the apps that I use on a regular basis is Think Dirty. It is free in the App Store and allows you to scan or search personal items that you are considering for use. The app gives you a score from 0-10. A score of 0 indicates that the product does not contain harmful chemicals. A score of 10 indicates that the product is full of harmful chemicals. This helps me to make an informed decision before I purchase something.

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Don’t listen to the negative –

I am hopeful that you have the support of people in your circle. There are also people that don’t understand what you are going through. I’ve had people say some very discouraging things to me. The bottom line is that others do not know what you are experiencing each day. They aren’t walking in your shoes, feeling your pain, eating your diet, feeling your exhaustion, or experiencing your frustration. Ignore the naysayers. They aren’t worth your time.

Speak up for yourself –

While dealing with a chronic illness, it is important to find your voice. You need to be an advocate for yourself. It’s not easy to say, “no.” I found that even though I wanted to do things, my body wasn’t up for it. Once I started speaking up for myself, I found that the stress of feeling that I needed to be there dissipated. I still like to be social; just at my pace.

Stay positive –

It’s not easy to stay positive. There are days that I am in pain and exhausted. There are days when I would rather not get out of bed. I’ve learned that there is always something to be positive about. I try to fill my time with something that I enjoy doing whether it is devotions, reading, journaling, crafting, genealogy, or puzzles. These things help to take my mind off of the negative thoughts and feelings that I may have. I’m not saying that I don’t have my weak moments. Focusing on other things helps me to focus less on my illness and helps me to remain positive.

Have Faith –

One of the things that have helped me through my health journey is my faith in Christ.  I spend time reading the Bible, doing devotions, praying, and keeping a journal. My faith has strengthened during this time. This helps me when things get tough. I have faith that things will get better and thank God when they do.

Free Printable

In previous posts, I’ve shared a Christmas card planner and a Christmas gift planner. Today I’m sharing a Christmas meal planner. Enjoy.

Stay strong,

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stay-strong

Living With a Chronic Illness

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A Diagnosis

Exactly two years ago, I started my journey to become diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I wrote about my diagnosis in a previous blog post.  The diagnosis was a relief but did not come as a surprise. I had spoken with several people who also had this chronic disease including one of my sisters. Before I was diagnosed, I did a great deal of research; much of which was online. I came across a blog post of 300 symptoms of this chronic disease. When I went through the list, I had almost 150 of the symptoms.

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Enter my functional doctor…

When I first visited my functional doctor, I was put on an elimination diet. During that process, I found several foods that I had an intolerance to and several others that I was allergic to, as well. This limited my dietary options, but I’ve since found a way to expand my food options with a lot of support from my hubby.

The basis of my diet is REAL food. I am on an AIP (autoimmune protocol) and Paleo diet. I don’t eat anything out of a box, can, or processed food. My basic diet consists of a lot of fruit and vegetables. My main meat staples are chicken and fish. My husband and I have also searched and found recipes that have things that I can eat. We make tortillas that I use as a bread substitute. You can find some of the recipes that I have saved on a Pinterest page for recipes. Not all of the recipes on the page are part of my diet. I do have young adults at home that eat differently than me.

One other thing that is imperative are the products that I use on myself and in my home. So many of the products that we use contain chemicals that impact our body. I make a lot of the products that we use as well as buying natural products and essential oils. I have several items that you can make saved to another Pinterest page for homemade products.

Most people have been extremely supportive during this time. In my next blog post, I will explain what I’ve learned during this time and what you can do to help support someone that is dealing with a chronic illness.

Until next time,

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