The Shady Porch: 12.11

12.31.2011

A Prayer for the New Year


Holy Father,
God of our yesterdays, our today, and our tomorrows.
We praise You for Your unequaled greatness.
Thank You for the year behind us and for the year ahead.
Help us in Your new year, Father, to fret less and laugh more.
To teach our children to laugh by laughing with them.
To teach others to love by loving them.
Knowing, when Love came to the stable in Bethlehem, 
He came for us.
So that Love could be with us, and we could know You.
That we could share Love with others.
Help us, Father, to hear Your love song in every sunrise,
in the chirping of sparrows in our backyards,
in the stories of our old folks, and the fantasies of our children.
Help us to stop and listen to Your love songs,
so that we may know You better and better.
We rejoice in the world You loved into being.
Thank You for another new year and for new chances every day.
We pray for peace, for light, and for hope, 
that we might spread them to others.
Forgive us for falling short this past year.
We leave the irreparable past in your hands, and step out into the unknown new year knowing You will go with us.
We accept Your gift of a new year and we rejoice in what's ahead, depending on You to help us do exactly what You want.
I say it again, we rejoice!
In Jesus name,
Amen
Author unknown

I don't remember where I found this prayer.  However, when I found it, I felt it covered everything so beautifully that I've shared it with friends and family for several years now, and this year, I wanted to share it with you! God Bless You Richly in 2012!

12.30.2011

2011 Retrospect - Best, Worst & Funniest!

As 2011 is coming to a close, The Shady Porch is closing in on a milestone. I am approaching my 200th day of blogging! That's right, January 8th will be day 200 of The Shady Porch! The days have passed in a blur, for sure. I will be honest and confess that I've wavered about continuing at times. There are moments I feel overwhelmed, but there are also great rewards, especially friendships forged! I blame myself for feeling overwhelmed because I have yet to get my schedule figured out.  I am praying that 2012 will be the year I can figure out how to build my best blog, make time to be the best me, and how to enrich my home and family.

With the end of anything, we...(okay...I) tend to reflect, so I thought I would share some of the most popular posts, some of the funniest, and my worst blog post to date.  

Chicken Dumpling Casserole

The Most Popular Food Post was, by far, the Chicken Dumpling Casserole. This is due to the blogger's new best friend, Pinterest (although I recommend it to everyone)! Right around Christmas this pin took off on Pinterest and I've gotten nearly 1000 hits on it since Christmas!
 
Hooty the Pine Cone Owl




The Most Popular Craft Post was my Framed Pine Cone Owl. As a newbie to blogging, I'm learning what folks find interesting and this project's popularity took me by surprise! I got several features for this project, which is always exciting! I was also touched when one reader said she was going to suggest this as the winter project at a residential complex where she worked!

DIY French Script Lamp Shade
The post that received The Most Comments was the DIY French Script Lampshade. This project turned out to be really easy. Once I ran out of ideas about what words and symbols to put on the shade, I used Google translate. I typed phrases I liked such as, 'love you til the end of time' and then Google translated it into French and I added them to my shade!  Most of the comments were readers that were wanting to make a French Script shade of their own and were encouraged by my post. Reader comments encourage me, so it is a win-win for everyone!

I had two projects that qualify for The Funniest Posts! At least the emails and comments let me know that everyone took the projects in the spirit intended...that I should not take myself too seriously. The most popular of the two posts was the Turkey Menu Chalkboard.
Turkey Menu Chalkboard
My Fall Scare-folks that are hardly scary!
This project was a spur of the moment brainstorm idea birthed from scrap wood we had around the house. 

The next post that I found to be the most fun and playful was the Pumpkins, Mums & Scare-folks, Oh My! The scare-folks not only added some whimsy to my front porch for Fall, I have them in storage and I plan to put them in the garden to hopefully spook the deer (or maybe give the deer a chuckle, too)! 

Mmmm...Great! Macaroni & Cheese
Challenge Winners & Top 5 Finishes!  I can't wrap up the year without reflecting on successes in various challenges I've joined! One such challenge is the monthly Crazy Cooking Challenge that began in September. Of the 4 Crazy Cooking Challenges held so far, The Shady Porch has won 2! The Mmmmm...Great Macaroni & Cheese as well as the Cheesy Baked Mashed Potatoes with Bacon. Here's a really BIG THANK YOU to everyone that voted for me in the challenges...family, friends, decades of my hubby's former students -- you are the winners in my eyes! I can't explain how much I appreciate your support! You're
awesome!
Cheesy baked Mashed Potatoes with Bacon
TP & Papertowel Tube
Centerpiece
 Another challenge that I enjoyed and finished in 2nd place was the 10th Iron Crafter's Challenge. In this challenge we had to create something using toilet paper and paper towel tubes.  I made a Whimsical Table Tubetop.  This served as a centerpiece for my kitchen table this Fall. 

I said I would share my worst and, fortunately, I deleted that post awhile back. It was from the 1st days of my blog and I had no clue what I was doing. However, don't fret there is still a bevy of choices for The Worst Post of the Year! When I first started blogging, I thought I had to post something everyday or I was a failure..needless to say I worked myself silly those first few weeks and, as I mentioned above, I'm still struggling with a workable schedule but this post proves my point that I was clueless...Many Projects...Nothing Finished!    

I really enjoyed going back and reflecting over the last 191 days. I can see room for improvement, but, thankfully, I can see that I've already made some progress too! If there is something you particularly enjoyed during these early days of The Shady Porch, please let me know! I cannot do any of this without you (and I wouldn't want to), so stay tuned and we'll have a blast in 2012! 
HAPPY NEW YEAR & GOD BLESS YOU!

12.28.2011

New Year Party Ideas - Decorations & Games


For years, we've hosted a family New Year's Eve party. This year, obstacles of time and distance are too much to overcome and we won't be having one. However, this is the perfect time to  share some of my past decoration and entertainment ideas and I am hopeful you will find something that will make your party planning easier!


DECORATIONS
I usually have 2-3 decorated tables set up for the guests and those tables contain the bulk of the decor for the event. I like to use styrofoam cones to make bright centerpieces that hold the noisemakers for the midnight hour. They are colorful and add sparkle to the tablescape. The cones are also great for presenting some of the party foods. For example, a green and black olive tree, a cheese cube, sausage and grapes tree, and a cream puff pastries tree! 


Many folks see New Year celebrations as grown up events, but the greatest things about our parties are the kids! All of the invited families bring their kids; they like parties, too! I plan more activities for the kids than I did the adults because the grown-ups love watching them play the games! It was great entertainment! Here are a couple of the games that were favorites among the younger party-goers. 
GAMES

The Classic Sock Game
First, raid the hubby's sock drawer. Pile the separated socks in the floor and have the kids that want to play sit in a circle around the socks. Tell them that when the bell rings, they have x amount of time (one year, we made the time very short and had rounds!) to put on as many socks as they can and the one with the most socks on their feet wins! If you are not sure you have enough socks, have them use only one foot. The hubby wasn't confident about this game prior to our first play, but he admitted this was great fun and he had to fight the urge to join in. (I was not surprised about the last part!) The kids get frantic as they race each other AND the clock!

Frogs & Bugs Game
If you don't mind the noise, get those silly blow out party noisemakers. Now unroll each noisemaker and stick a Velcro circle (hook-type and adhesive backed) on the end and roll it back up. This is now your frog's long sticky tongue - give one to each child. Now using felt (or the loop-halves) make some "bugs" and place them in a central area. To play, have the kids "catch" the felt bugs using their Velcro tongues. The one with the most bugs in the allotted time wins! (I recommend that you prep this game pre-party and make sure your Velcro will pick-up the felt you are using!) A great surprise was how much the older kids enjoyed this along with the younger ones. The sound and action entertain the younger set, but the older kids took this as a skill challenge. It was great to watch.

Kid & Adults Can Play together!

FFEACH (or CHEAFF, depending on your preference...)
(Source - Ultimate Camp Resource)
FFEACH (Fast Foods, Electrical Appliances, and Cartoon Heroes) is a charades race. Teams compete against each other to complete a predetermined list of items (which can be tailored to your group, according to participant age, interests, etc).
1. Divide your party into 2 or more teams.(The more, the more exciting!)
2. Have the teams spread out through the kitchen and living area (our great room was perfect for this) so that they can't overhear the other teams' answers.
3. Ask one member from each team to come to the you (Master of Ceremonies (MC)).
4. Whisper the first word to the first set of volunteers and, at your signal, release them to their teams at the same time.
5. Once a member of the group guesses the word correctly, another team member runs to the MC for the next word. Advise the team when you are giving instructions that no one can come up for a word twice until every team member has gone up once. This ensures that everyone participates.
6. The team player must tell the MC what word their team just guessed, and the MC tells the new player the next word on the list.
7. The object of the game is to complete the entire list first and without cheating (this will be more of a problem with the adults than with the kids!)

SAMPLE FFEACH LIST-
1. Superman                              11. Fruit Juicer
2. Curly Fries                            12. Scooby Doo
3. Spongebob Square Pants    13. Batman
4. Waffle Maker                       14. MP3 Player
5. Remote Control                   15. Bacon Double Cheeseburger
6. Pepperoni Pizza                  16. Defibrillator
7. Incredible Hulk                   17. Papa Smurf
8. Dishwasher                          18. Blender
9. Microwave                           19. Wonder Woman
10. McNuggets                        20. Onion Rings

Fun for the Adults
Name That Tune
One of the favorites for the adults is our version of "Name That Tune." We use our XM radio and, since the display has the song title and artist, someone presses the 'SCAN' button and when the radio grabs a signal, whoever guesses the song and/or artist gets a point and the first person or team to reach 10 points (or whatever number you all agree to) wins! This is another one the older kids will be good at, and the conversations about what the songs mean to (or meant to) us are both hilarious and precious.

Winners were awarded Prizes that were usually items I picked up at the Dollar Tree. For example, notepads, address books, candles for the adults and toys, ribbons and game books for the kids.  Word of advice - kaleidoscopes purchased for a dollar can be disappointing!

Often, there are two parties going on at the same time...the energetic competition of these games, and the quiet conversations and reminiscences in conversations on couches and at tables. Both activities create lasting memories of precious family time. I hope your gathering is blessed as we say goodbye to all that last year brought us and hello to everything that the New Year promises.


Rock 'N Share #9

Welcome to the Party!
I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas with their friends and family! We were blessed to be with our loved ones and it is truly treasured time! I wish we could swap "the amount of time spent preparing for Christmas" with "actual time spent with loved ones"...it just seems a bit backwards to me! Anyway, we had a wonderful time...it was just too short!

BIG THANKS to everyone that shared their projects last week! 

ROCK 'N SHARE PINTEREST GALLERY INDUCTEES from Week #8
(projects with the most views, and had a link back to The Shady Porch)
Guest bedroom Redesign by 21 Rosemary Lane
Last Minute No-paper Gift Wrap by I Gotta Create
Elf On A Shelf..Gettin' Down With His Bad Self by Eclectically Vintage
Hot Chocolate Snowballs by Melissa's Cuisine
Congratulations & Thank You for joining the party!

Be sure to get your Rock 'n Share Gallery Button! (on sidebar)
You can see all the inductees to the Rock 'N Share Gallery

Now Let's Party!
The only requirement is a link back! (No link back = No features)--- a text link at the bottom of your post, or a Rock 'N Share button (see sidebar)! You may copy and paste the text link provided below onto your blog post, in the event you are not sure how to do it otherwise. The Shady Porch

Please follow The Shady Porch! 
Although, it's NOT a requirement, I would appreciate it and I will always follow back! **Just leave me a comment, so I'll know!**

I also ask ...

* Everything be family friendly!
* Link up your own projects...something that you've created. Please only post projects new to the Rock 'N Share...no repeats from previous parties!
* Link to a specific post not your Home page! No Etsy shops or other businesses!
* Mingle! Introduce yourself (comment) on other party projects! Be kind! Make new friends!
I reserve the right to remove links that are in violation of these requests!

**I will be sharing my personal favorites on my Facebook page throughout the week!**

Most viewed posts make the weekly Rock 'N Share Pinterest Gallery!

Be sure to check back each Wednesday to see if you've been featured!





12.23.2011

Restyled Rustic Centerpiece for the Holidays!

There is ALWAYS a time crunch for the holidays at our house. It just doesn't matter when I start there is always 1 million things on my to-do list at the 11th hour. The hubby would tell you that the to-do list would be zero, if I would quit writing things down. ha-ha  I am a visual person and before I host an event I attend it in my mind and as I do so I write down what I have "to-do" to accomplish my vision. I hope that's not too weird but nevertheless, it's how I operate. 
Therefore, I look for time-savers and one of my favorite it restyling for the occasion! For instance, for Christmas I restyled two crafts that I did back in the fall and I thought I would show you the Fall version-vs-the new styled Christmas version. 

Rustic Christmas Centerpiece

Rustic Fall Centerpiece
The first craft project I restyled was my Rustic Fall Centerpiece. I used branches from a yard project and made a vase for the kitchen table. Well for Christmas, I painted the branches white/silver and switched out the flowers and tied red burlap around it! I think it looks as great for Christmas as it did in the Fall! 


The next project I restyled was the Red Burlap Game Day wreath. To switch the wreath from OSU game day mode to Christmas was easy!


I made the wreath with the intention of using if for other occasions (you'll probably see it again in February) and I simply took the football adornments and Yo-yo rosettes off and added a glittery silver poinsettia and plastic peppermint sticks with a new ribbon! If really brightens up the door and there is no mistaking that we celebrate Christmas!  

Did you restyle anything to save time or money for the holidays? If so, I'd love to hear what you did! Share your restyle tricks, tips and/or photos on The Shady Porch Facebook page!

Merry Christmas to All! 
God Bless You & Yours this holiday season!
D

12.21.2011

Rock "N Share Party #8

It's Party Time Again!
Please accept my THANKS for joining the Rock 'N Share! I try to come around and comment or email all of the partiers each week. If I missed you, I'm sorry. I do appreciate your being here! I know there are a lot of others parties going on!

ROCK 'N SHARE PINTEREST GALLERY INDUCTEES from Week #7
(projects with the most views, and had a link back to The Shady Porch)


Dollar Store Ruffled Stockings by Krista Arista

Wicked Good & Easy Pork Chops by A Pinch of Joy

Congratulations & Thank You for joining the party!
Be sure to get your Rock 'n Share Gallery Button! (on sidebar)
You can see all the inductees to the Rock 'N Share Gallery
Now Let's Party!
The only requirement is a link back! (No link back = No features)--- a text link at the bottom of your post, or a Rock 'N Share button (see sidebar)! You may copy and paste the text link provided below onto your blog post, in the event you are not sure how to do it otherwise. The Shady Porch
Please follow The Shady Porch, however, it's NOT a requirement.
** I will always follow back! Just leave me a comment, so I'll know!**

I also ask ...
  • Everything be family friendly!
  • Link up your own projects...something that you've created. Please only post projects new to the Rock 'N Share...no repeats from previous parties!
  • Link to a specific post not your Home page! No Etsy shops or other businesses!
  • Mingle! Introduce yourself (comment) on other party projects! Be kind! Make new friends!
I reserve the right to remove links that are in violation of these requests!
**I will be sharing my personal favorites on my Facebook page throughout the week!**

Most viewed posts make the weekly Rock 'N Share Pinterest Gallery!

Be sure to check back each Wednesday to see if you've been featured!

12.20.2011

Easy Sweet Treats!


Buckeyes
Well it happened again this year...we went into candy, and cookie factory mode and could have given the Keebler elves a run for their money....(well,... maybe not.) Anyway, it is one of the favorite events of the holidays around here. We have piles of nuts, candies, marshmallows, and such, and we crank out goodie bags and plates for my hubby's peers on the last day of school before Christmas break.

I thought I would share some of the treats we prepared this year in case you were still prepping for the holidays!


Chocolate-covered pretzel rods, Rolo turtles, Buckeyes,Thin Mints, 
Cream Cheese Shortbread Cookies,and Nutty Marshmallows
Buckeyes
1/2 cup of softened butter
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups of confectionery sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 lb. pkg chocolate bark (microwavable)
Mix butter, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Using a table spoon to keep buckeyes uniform in size, scoop out peanut butter mixture and form into balls, using your hands. Set formed balls on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Refrigerate.


Melt chocolate bark in microwave as directed. Remove peanut butter balls from refrigerator, insert toothpick and dip into melted chocolate. Return to wax paper tray, refrigerate for 30 minutes. 


Cream Cheese Shortbread Cookies with Toasted Walnuts
Cream Cheese Shortbread with Toasted Walnuts
2 cups of SR flour
1 1/2 stick of butter, softened
1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (4 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup of sugar (we used Splenda Blend)
1 t. vanilla
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix flour and walnuts and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat together - butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Add vanilla mix until incorporated. Set mixer to low, gradually add flour mixture to dough. Mix until well blended. 
Roll dough into balls, place on parchment lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart, pressing gently to slightly flatten tops. 
Bake cookies until light brown around the edges. In my wonky oven, it took about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

Homemade Thin Mints - Melt 2 boxes of Andes Creme De Menthe in microwave. Dip Ritz crackers in melted mint until covered. Set on wax paper or parchment until set. [Good News - the Andes Mints has a Sugar-Free version too!]


Nutty Marshmallows
Nutty Marshmallows
Roast 1 cup of pecans and 1 cup of almonds in skillet. Chop finely in food processor. Heat 2 cups of milk on stove top (do not boil). Dip regular size marshmallows into heated milk for about 20 seconds (until it gets tacky enough to hold the nuts) then roll in crushed nuts. Cool and store.

Rolo Turtles
1 bg. of square pretzels
1 bg. of Rolos
1 bg. of pecans halves (you can substitute M&M's for the nuts, if you prefer)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. On wax paper covered cookie sheet, place pretzels, then top each pretzel with a Rolo, and on top of the Rolo place a pecan half. Bake in oven for about 2-3 minutes. As the pan is removed from the oven, use a wide turner to press several pieces at once, pressing the pecan half into the melted Rolo. [Note - I like to add my pecan before baking so it gets a little toasted.]

12.18.2011

Rustic Pine Cone Christmas Tree

I've been using pine cones often of late. I think they're really pretty in any condition: natural, painted, glittered, or even deconstructed into petal form! Since I have so many of them at my disposal (Thanks again to my uncle!), I decided to make a pine cone tree for the holidays! 

Rustic Pine Cone Christmas Tree #Christmas #decorations #pinecones #rustic
Rustic Pine Cone Christmas Tree

Starting base for pine cone tree...a scratched charger plate
My pine cone supply
A scratched up red charger plate that needed a new purpose was perfect for my base. I started hot gluing the natural, untreated cones to the plate and built layer upon layer. I tried to achieve the shape of a Christmas tree by choosing pine cones of similar size for each layer.
1st layer of pine cone tree...
using hot glue to assemble
Once I had the tree finished, I used miniature silver and gold ornaments, some gold garland and topped it off with a gold star. I think it makes a pretty tabletop decoration for our home! I will use it as a  centerpiece in a rustic table scape in the kitchen at some point this holiday season.
 

Rustic Pine Cone Christmas Tree #Christmas #decorations #pinecones #rustic
Finished but unadorned pine cone tree


I pray your holiday season is filled with fun projects, precious time with friends and loved ones, and a fresh revelation of the Reason for the Season! Merry Christmas!


12.16.2011

Our Christmas Decorations & A Belated Thanks!

I realize I have not shared much about our home since starting this blog...so what better time to start than with a tour of some of our Christmas decorations!
I added a hot glue design to these vases and then spray painted them silver. I then added the white branches and pretty green bulbs. The vases rest on either side of the television which is above the mantel and leaves very little mantel space. I did have enough room for some greenery and white pine cones.

It never fails that after you've taken the pictures, worked with them, and added them to your post; that you suddenly see some flaw...like a branch of greenery that looks like it was thrown up on the mantel. haha 


All of the elements in this scene were gifts from various Christmases past. I love how they all work together to tell the Christmas story that we celebrate!

The hubby calls this my Whoville forest. haha! I hope to talk more about the making of these trees in a future post. One is simply white garland, another is a old gift bag, another is tulle and, finally, coffee filters.

Christmas floral arrangement on a living room table.


These three pictures (above, right and below) are from a shelf I have in the kitchen.  I have a mixture of silver and gold going on with these decorations.  
The center piece is the nativity candle holder and it is flanked by the star holding the bulbs and a sleigh and on the other side it's a pair of silver stars with a green starry tree (can also serve as a Christmas card holder).


This is a cone tree covered in green burlap and then adorned with gold ribbon and jingle bells. On a snowy gold tray and surrounded with a variety of pine cones and topped with a red velvet bow, it sits atop my recently made-over china cabinet.


All of the decorations have helped in creating a cheery Christmas atmosphere at our house! I love the new Glade Peppermint  spray too...if I'm not baking, it still smells festive!
 
Hopefully, I'll get to share my table scape, outdoor Christmas tree, pine cone tree, etc at a later date! 


A Very Belated Thank You!

Allow me a moment to thank Kelly from Eclectically Vintage and Jody from Homey Home Design for giving me a Liebster (the German word for friend or love) award. The award is meant to bring attention to up-&-coming blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
Thank You Kelly & Jody!
In case you are wondering I rec'd both awards over Thanksgiving weekend and didn't realize
there were two until I starting reading all my backed up holiday mail on 11/27. Now it has taken me this long to get my appreciation posted...so sorry :) Doubly blessed and very thankful!