Little things matter. Along the way you discover they weren't so little after all.

Tag Archives: fall

Thanksgiving is the start of the “holiday season” and is a fun opportunity to embrace fall. It also is the last chance to live it up before winter and all things winter-wonderland start invading every orifice of your existence. Even your morning cornflakes become winterized after Thanksgiving, which is just silly because who wants to eat breakfast cereal that’s either glittery, icy  or striped with green and red? Bleh!

What's that you say? It's almost time for Thanksgiving?

What’s that you say? It’s almost time for Thanksgiving?

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, since the primary activity is eating we naturally began to think about setting the table. My sister and I wanted to set a table that was:

  • welcoming and practical
  • beautiful
  • wouldn’t require us to purchase a whole new set of anything.

We’re big on using what you already have. Many times if you combine things with something different or in new ways, that’s all it takes. It can be helpful to have someone else look at what you have, since you’re used to it and might have a hard time envisioning it being used any other way.

Here’s a colorful first attempt that obviously DOES NOT work at all:

Thanksgiving Table Attempt 1

In this photo, some things to avoid are:

  • Overfilling the table
  • Centerpiece that’s too tall
  • Table cloth that’s too small for the table – commit to a table runner, a full table cloth, or even both but a too small table cloth looks like you threw it on the table at the last minute.
  • Turkey hunting decoy

Other things to avoid:

  • Flowers or candles with a strong (or any) scent
  • Too many colors all at once or just random extra stuff that doesn’t serve a purpose

In the next photo we’re making some progress…

Thanksgiving Table Attempt 2

Because we used a mix of glassware and ceramics, the result is disjointed and haphazard. Even though the flowers are pretty, they don’t really make sense just plopped on the table, and would be better used on a sideboard or hearth.

Things to go for:

  • Fresh flowers, even just a few
  • Low centerpiece so people can see one another across the table
  • Handmade items or items with significance
  • Candles are an inexpensive way to create a warm and welcoming glow
  • Varying heights as long as they’re not too tall.
  • Taller items should be narrow so they don’t obstruct people sight line.
  • Unified color scheme

Here’s our final attempt:

Thanksgiving Table Attempt 3

Again, we tried to use what we had already. We also wanted to leave room for plates of food to rest on the table (who wants to have to get up every time someone wants another roll?). Even though we really wanted to use the flowers, we had to find a home for them somewhere else. By removing those along with some of the extras, the pretty table cloth becomes the focal point. There’s room for people to be able to navigate their plates without knocking over decorations. When the candles are lit and the lights dimmed, the result is warm and festive. Imagine a platter on the table, and the seats filled with family and friends, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful Thanksgiving experience.

We hearby announce the table is ready.

We hearby announce the table is ready.

These are simple ideas we’ve figured out by trial and error. Do you have suggestions people should consider as they prepare to host a holiday event? Any real life lessons of what to avoid?


Here’s a video blog for your entertainment. Hope it is encouraging to you today!

What changes are going on for you lately? Do you need to say no to a few things? Or is it time for you to say yes? 

This is after it's been tidied. Scary.

This is after it’s been tidied. Scary.

There are tumbleweeds of dog fur in the corner next to the buffet, the surface of which is covered in papers, pencil boxes and mail, rendering the buffet virtually undetectable.

There is an un-emptied suitcase at the foot of our bed from a trip taken three weeks ago. It’s not that I don’t need the clothes that might be in the suitcase, it’s that I’ve worn the same jeans every day this week, and that makes for a much lighter laundry load.

The children are required to make a path through their rooms from the door to their beds so I don’t trip on stuff, should they need me in the middle of the night. But as for putting away these items, it hasn’t happened lately.

My oldest son was supposed to have a friend over but I forgot to call the parent and solidify details. The gift we bought for our favorite teacher is still sitting on my kitchen counter — school was done last week.

If you wash the rugs in the bathroom, it makes it look like you have probably washed the actual floor.

Why do I get bothered by these and other things I see as indicators of my own shortcomings?

Why do I expect certain things from myself that I wouldn’t expect from any one else?

In reverse, I make excuses for the things I have done. I made scones for a friend’s visit this week. She complimented them and I downplayed it. Even though it has been raining and generally icky outside, I have managed to split hostas, remove grass and replant or pot up at least 20 plants. But it doesn’t seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the other things on my list, so I decide that effort doesn’t count.What if we all, specifically all of us women and/or mothers, decided to cut ourselves some slack? What if we admitted that we don’t have to have it all figured out every moment of every day? What if we stopped expecting perfection from ourselves?

If that happened, I think we would start to realize no one expected it from us, that it was self-imposed.

And besides, no one was buying the image of perfection we thought we projected.

Let’s allow the façade to fall away and reveal the real imperfect us – quirky, overwhelmed, loving, strong, flawed, fully-human us. And we are amazing. We are beautiful.

This post is part of a link up with Lisa-jo Baker and Five Minute Friday. Check out all the details here: It is open to anyone. Come shake yourself out of the shackles of self-critique and write for the sheer pleasure of it. Today’s word prompt was Fall.

Flower alone

Here are some thoughts about this month’s so-called holiday. Please click on the little tiny link below.


I wouldn't want to meet this guy in a dark alley

It is cool this morning, the air is dry, and there is a subtle scent that has me thinking that even if the calendar didn’t say it was the middle of August, I would still know that autumn is on the way. My sweetie has been saying it is the end of summer since July, though, so I’ve been resisting and trying to be the summer optimist.

My family is in for a serious reality check this fall. Over the past year, we’ve had very few things regularly scheduled in our lives. I homeschooled my oldest son, my middle son did a few days of preschool, and our youngest, our daughter, just hung out and did whatever the rest of us did. Even this summer, my husband and I chose not to sign up the kids for many activities, for a few different reasons: we wanted to be free to spend time at the family cabin, we were just getting settled into a new house and town, we don’t want to be the parents that schedule every waking moment for our kids…and we missed most of the deadlines in the spring!

A few weeks ago, however, I wished we had more structured outlets for the kids. There was one five day period when they were all crabby and difficult, which made me feel crabby and irritated. I realized then that there is a certain amount of schedule that helps define a summer, helps punctuate it and make it flow. Of course families who sign up their kids for multiple clubs or sports also have times when their kids are ornery too, but they have more times when they don’t have to hear it since their kids are off doing something else with somebody else. There’ve been times when I wished for that this summer, if I’m totally honest. But shhhh, ’cause I’m not supposed to say that out loud.

As we get ready to start life with a 2nd grader and kindergartener (the preschooler hasn’t gone anywhere, but we aren’t sure if she’ll attend a program or not), we want to be purposeful about which activities we enroll the kids in. There are so many things available for kids to do these days, and they’d probably have a great time in any number of them. But we’re trying to look towards the future, and not get ourselves committed to something we’ll regret later.

Let’s take sports, for instance. What if we sign up our oldest for hockey this winter? Do I ever want to see my baby get checked up against the boards by a boy twice his size? That sounds like a really stupid idea! But what if he tries it and likes it? I had a brother who played hockey growing up, and I’m familiar with the sharp smell of indoor ice rinks and the smell of stinky hockey equipment cluttering up the laundry room. And football doesn’t seem much better, without even bringing up the expense of the required equipment.

It’s not only sports that we’re thinking about. In an attempt to raise well-rounded children, we also want them to be involved in music (a high priority for me, especially). Do we automatically start them on piano? Then I’ll have to draw them a keyboard on the dining room table, ’cause we don’t have a piano, nor do we intend to purchase one. (Do they have indestructible, outdoor pianos?) Then there’s the mid-week church activities, not to mention all the after-school clubs they offer these days. We could already choose between chess, Legos, science, cooking, art, and even more “enrichment” activities.

How does one choose? That’s where you come in, Dear Reader. I have my own ideas, but I’d love to hear your words of wisdom, as my family enters the world of elementary school schedules, and grooming my children to take over the world. How do you pick between “the better” and “the best” for your family? Post your comment so I can come back and blame you when I’m stressed out from driving my kids all over the place! Ha! I’ll need somebody to be the scapegoat.

My Children's Musical Future

Okay, folks, this winter garden is proving to be a tad more complicated than I predicted, particularly because I’m trying to do it on the cheap. My dad had some random pieces of wood, and he was kind enough to slap together a frame for me. And I had a shower curtain lying around that was the wrong size (didn’t even think to check the size when I bought it — never really knew they came in different sizes). But as you can see from the photo it is too small. So now we’re stuck with a covering that doesn’t fit, much like the Dr. Seuss character who can’t get his whole body to fit in his little bed. There’s still quite a bit of work to do, and I have to keep drilling myself to remember to leave a flap that can open in order to access the stuff inside. That’s just the kind of thing that I would forget until after the project was complete, then I’d be stuck cutting a hole with a kiddie scissors or something. Not nearly as neat and professional as what we’ve got going on now! *smirk*

Just wanted to give you a progress report. The fall is cooling down and the air feels different even from two days ago. I’ve got to get this thing done if we’re going to have a fightin’ chance!

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