Great merciful heavens, that was a tough couple of weeks we just went through. The kids turned 3 on December 16th, but one set of grandparents were out of town that weekend so we postponed the party until the 22nd…if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll remember that we did the same thing last year because we had just moved to Arkansas the week before their birthday. I fear that we would be asking too much of our relatives if we try this a third year — after all, nobody has anything at all to do on December 22nd, right??? — not to mention driving ourselves to the loony bin…trying to throw a party for 40 on Sunday, then have the first family Christmas celebration on Monday, host Christmas Eve festivities at our house on Tuesday, then the third family celebration on Wednesday is not exactly an ideal time frame. We don’t get much time to enjoy things, and in case you did not know, having children opening gifts for four straight days is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. They woke up Thursday grouchy, spoiled, and disappointed that a pile of presents were not waiting for them anywhere.

But for all of my grouching and complaining: how lucky are we to be able to celebrate with so many family members? VERY LUCKY. And how lucky are we that so many family and friends are willing to give up two or more hours on the Sunday before Christmas to celebrate the twins’ birthdays? VERY LUCKY. This is the first year we’ve thrown a BIG party for them, so we kind of went overboard. I really wanted to rent a bouncy house but we had a cold-cold-cold snap the week of their party so I thought better of it…instead, we found a children’s performer who came, played her guitar, and led the littler kids in a sing-a-long.

In addition to grandparents and aunts and uncles, we invited all of my cousins and their kids who live in the Northwest Arkansas area, along with our very special friends like Kristie, Bailey, Beth, Shara, and Shara’s son, Christopher. So we had a house full. In the week before the party I went NUTS trying to get the house a little more put-together than it has been. We moved in in May, so you would think I would have gotten around to a couple of the projects I’ve had on my list for some time now…but you would be wrong. How is it we always end up working on things for the booth instead of for our own houses? If you have a booth or a store, I’ll bet you find yourself doing the same thing. Even though it nearly killed me to try and do all of that stuff in a week, I’m still glad I had a deadline that forced me to do it. We had the kitchen/family room painted, re-did all of the stuff that was above the kitchen cabinets, put together a gallery wall in the living room, painted the kids’ room, put together a gallery wall in their room. Next is putting up big-kid beds (KILL ME NOW) and then I’m going to finally get some pictures up of our house because, at last, I’m kind of proud of it.

I have some odds and ends to show you, because of course, I DID still manage to do a little thrift store shopping in middle of all of the madness.

The kids and I had to drive waaaaaaay up north to Rogers (about a thirty minute drive) because that’s the closest Staples location, and I used their Engineer Print service for another couple of projects I did two weeks ago (I’ll show you pictures when I get the house pictures taken. I just LOVE getting things blown up HUGE with that service). Since we were already in town, we OF COURSE stopped by the Salvation Army store. It’s huge, and pretty good, I just don’t get a chance to visit it very often because of the distance. I picked up all of these old-school light strings and bulbs for just under $10. The strings don’t work, which is perfect for me, because I have something in mind like this –– a Christmas sign that has a garland of big old bulbs hanging from it. The loose bulbs are to use on wreaths — I saw a vintage ornament wreath that used the old bulbs to plug some of the holes after all the ornaments had been glued on and it was adorable. I also think these bulbs look so cute just sitting in old mason jars. I’m stockpiling this stuff with an eye towards being more prepared for next year in the booth — seems that most people stop buying things to decorate for Christmas around the first of December. Before the first, my Christmas decor stuff was selling like hotcakes. After the first or so, sales ground to a halt. So I want to be ready to fully stock the booth from about mid-November until December…I’m aiming at at least two or three Christmas projects a month until next year.  And these semi-old ornaments will be perfect for an ornament wreath:

At that same Sally, I got four stocking holders. I had been looking for some for our family, but they all seemed so light. I wanted some that would truly hold the stocking even after Santa had stuffed it full of goodies. By the way, no one ever told me that Santa spends almost as much stuffing the stocking as he does on all of the other presents combined. What the heck, man? Solution: SMALLER STOCKINGS.

These were $4.50 each.

I am just now remembering that I stopped by my local Salvation Army about a week-and-a-half ago — forgot to take any pictures in the rush of the madness that was going on then. I got some vintage ornaments, the most beautiful manger scene EVER for $3.50, a wooden manger with scalloped roof, and this tree skirt, which is the only thing out still (all other Christmas has been safely packed away in the attic):

We didn’t have a tree skirt, and when I went out to buy one, I was disappointed in the prices (thirty dollars???) and the styles (puffy white satin?????) so hadn’t pulled the trigger on a purchase…and then found this one for $4! POLKA DOTS!

Next year, I decided to hold off putting any of my really old ornaments on the tree, lest they end up with the same fate as my six lost glass ornaments from this year (sob). I found these (kind of cheesy) Christopher Radko Shiny Brites at a half-off sale and decided to grab three of them to at least lend the spirit of vintage to our next year’s tree.

When these wretched children of mine are 18, I suppose I will try to use the real thing again.

And one more thing I found pre-holidays…


How cool is this??? It was $4.99! In very nice shape. The wood is just bare, no finish on it whatsoever, so I’m thinking I should paint it? Chalk paint? Or bright red? Or what? Suggestions solicited. It will be a bit until it’s warm enough to paint it.

There is an auction tomorrow that I am kind of contemplating going to. I haven’t been to one in weeks and I’m kind of hankering for it…but I shouldn’t spend the money. Who knew throwing a kids’ birthday party was so expensive??? Guess I will wait until tomorrow and see. Part of me wants to get this garage completely cleaned out of merchandise before I buy anything else…so much JUNK out there right now.

Here’s wishing you and yours the HAPPIEST of New Year’s Eve celebrations and a happy and healthy year to come. I’m grateful and thankful for each and every one of you who takes the time to read my blog…you make collecting a whole lot more fun.

December 31, 2013 - 4:41 pm

Sarah I hear you on the stockings. Times three. So this year I did something different – I bought them food. Yes, it was money, but it was cheaper AND it all goes away! I haven’t been buying them things like fruit roll ups and granola bars or teddy grahams because of the extreme tightness of my food budget right now, so they got those things. They were nice unexpected treats, it was a budget boost in a way, and they are still eating off them with no little crap clutter everywhere. Win.

I am pretty sure I spend at least $150 on each birthday party. Not really a savings over just going someplace like Chuck E Cheese, but twenty times the work. Oy.

December 31, 2013 - 4:52 pm

Lara Jo That’s a great idea about food in the stocking. We did buy them new toothbrushes, which they needed, and a new Elmo/Hello Kitty fork, so we tried to get away with things they need as much as possible.

YES on the birthday party. We balked when we heard that the local bouncy place charges $250 to rent for two hours for up to 20 people — no food included — but after all was said and done (lunch for 40 people, plus cake and cupcakes, plus entertainment) that started to sound downright economical. We can’t do a big one like this every year, but since it was the first big one, I’m trying not to feel so bad about it.

December 31, 2013 - 8:43 pm

Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage I love that sign you linked with the strings of lights! Darn cute. I made 3 wreaths for my market with vintage bulbs and all three of them sold and I got lots of positive comments and compliments on them, so I say go for it!

I saw some of those Radko ornament sets at TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Home Goods and I meant to go back after Christmas and see if they had any left at a discount. Darn it, I forgot! Maybe I’ll sneak out tomorrow and see if I can find any. I did go to the big antique mall today to hit their sales, specifically looking for stuff I can repurpose or resell next year. Being prepared is a good idea!

December 31, 2013 - 11:12 pm

Shara That was the nicest party I have ever been to for anyone let alone two three year olds! Your house is just so nice, I love it so, so much. Everything you have done is wonderful. You will have to share the Cake Plate area of your kitchen – I loved it! Also, you served the best meal – I mean you guys made the hamburgers, had so many things laid out for them, plus you bought fancy salads for me and the Bean which was SO nice. Plus the cake! The cupcakes! The cookies! The entertainment – it was F-U-N!

That ironing board/stool combo thing is great. And, is that another shopping cart in the back? It ‘s not the one you were so nice to give me – did you find another one?

If you go to the auction – have fun and be safe. i saw there was going to be one at the Armory by you sometime in January. Maybe we should go to that one?!?

January 1, 2014 - 6:32 am

Chanelle Wow, you did take on a whole lot! As a December birthday person myself, I know how hard it is. I have a friend with twin Dec 24th bdays. They celebrate their 1/2 birthday in June instead. It’s normal to them.
Stocking holders so grown up! Love them. We don’t stuff the kiddos stockings…couple of fun smalls and a Hershey’s kiss candy cane. Chocolate solves all.
Thinking orangey red for the stool combo.

January 5, 2014 - 5:19 pm

Melissa Holy crap…have you recouped? Are you still exhausted? I’m exhausted for you. Pheeeewww!
I like the stool. It’d be neat in aqua chalk paint.

January 27, 2014 - 9:53 am

Lara Jo Melissa, I ended up painting it Benjamin Moore Wyeth Blue, which is ALMOST aqua! I love the way it turned out!