Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 In Review

On this last day of 2011 I thought is would be fun to look back and review the year as it was documented on the blog. 

It was an unusual year for me.  Lots of changes and improvements to my body, my life, my home, my family, and my business. 


I started out the year teaching a few workshops.  I had a great time meeting so many new friends and sharing what I'm passionate about - organizing.  Click on the tab "Presentations" above to see a list of all of the topics I speak on. 

Several packages were sent out from my Etsy shop.  I like to make each package special and I try to use upcycled paper and ribbon when available.


In the beginning of February, I had the first of two surgeries for 2011.  My recovery was slower than I wanted it to be but I've never been known to do well sitting still.

I made a lot of muffins for the family and to freeze for later.

 We had good success with our winter garden, growing winter crops under row covers

We enjoyed a great visit with our oldest daughter and our two grandsons, visiting from Boston.  We had no idea that in a few short months their prayers would be  answered with a job transfer down to Virginia with Chick-fil-a. 


We added onto our organic veggie/fruit garden by doing some lasagna gardening

We got our order of peeps.  Five golden sex links.  Good egg layers.

Surprisingly, one of my more popular posts of the year was about how I make my brick floor shiny

I get a lot of requests from readers, asking how to organize the kitchen.  While photographing my pantry, I decided to write my favorite Bible verse on the chalkboard paint I put on the inside of the door. 

I found some cute birds that I hung over my fireplace.  This photo cracks me up.  It's just how I feel some days!


On April 11th my life changed forever. I had been prepping for a kidney transplant, hoping to receive a kidney before I needed to go on dialysis.  My friend, Cathy, volunteered to be tested and she was a match.  Our family is so blessed by the gift that Cathy (and her family) gave us.  There aren't  even words to describe how thankful we are.  **Cathy raised over $2000.00 for the National Kidney Foundation on the day before she gave me one of her kidneys by participating in the Kidney Walk - yup, she's amazing. 

Here we are the day after the transplant.  She came down from her room to visit me -they wouldn't let us room together like we had wanted to - you know, slumber party style.  My daughter, Ashley, did a great job blogging about it all.


With a new kidney energizing me, I was ready to get back to work.  Due to some nerve damage during my transplant, my right leg was temporarily paralyzed so I had to get around with a cane and a bit of help.  That didn't slow me down though.  I sat in a chair in the middle of the garden and ordered people around.  LOL

Because the transplant interrupted our garden expansion, we decided it was a good time to experiment with a new technique (well, new to us).  We planted our tomato plants directly into bags of potting soil.  It ended up being the best tomato harvest we've ever had.

Our kids threw us an anniversary party to celebrate our 30th anniversary.  It was a wonderful evening with family and friends.


Not much happened in June except that I went to the doctor and physical therapist regularly, watered and weeded the garden, and worked on products for the Etsy shop.


I made patriotic buntings from for the house to celebrate the 4th of July.

I was able to buy a Weed Dragon for Hubs, using my Swagbucks (see my link on the sidebar).  He's had way too much fun burning up weeds.

I made lots of recipes with our abundance of tomatoes and basil.

Our youngest son joined the United States Marine Corps.  Semper Fi

Thanks to a great physical therapist and my sheer will to beat the paralysis, I was finally able to ride my bike. 


With our grandsons living in Virginia (finally), we get to spend lots of time playing outside with them.  Our oldest grandson happens to be a fantastic tree climber.  J and I wrote a story about his tree climbing adventures, using the photos I took on this particular day. 

Still continued picking tomatoes and canning them.

Hubs and I celebrated my graduation from physical therapy by going on a camping trip.

And. . . we picked and canned tomatoes. . .

Pinterest loves the picture of my milk glass desk accessories.


Some beekeeping. . .

Some chicken wrangling. . .

More bee keeping.

And. . . green tomato relish canning.

With just enough time left over for adventuring.


I was able to sneak a photo of our family's favorite cake before it was completely devoured.

I always enjoy decorating for fall.


Marine Corps graduation at Parris Island, SC was amazing.  I'm so proud of all of our young marines. 

Back home, we visited Full Quiver Farm with the grandkids and learned all about pastured livestock.

After a trip to my local Re-store, I made a lamp using Oma's old wooden thread spools.


December was pretty quiet - by choice.  I was determined to slow down and enjoy the season by simplifying everything.  It was my best Christmas ever. 

Taking time to play, and snuggle, and read.

We took advantage of the mild weather after Christmas to neaten up the yard and tuck some free pine straw (thank you pine trees in the yard) around all of our plantings.

Well, that's 2011 in snapshots and snippets.  It's a year I'll never forget.  I'm not the same person I was when the year started.  I have a different perspective on life and I'm determined to continue growing and improving as the Lord leads me. 

Thanks to all of you who prayed for our family during this past year.  God worked in amazing ways - ways I never could have dreamed of. 

Happy 2012 to all of you.  I can't wait to see what God will do next. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 Holiday Home Tour

Welcome to Brown Wren Acres!  I hope you don't mind that I've brought you through the back door.  I just love how the Christmas lights look through the window. 

I've kept things very simple this year and I think I really like it.  I've always thought that more decorations meant cozy, but I've come to realize that less decorations can be be cozy too - and surprisingly calming.

A simple swag of greenery and a metal star on a piece of barbed-wire adorn the fireplace mantel.  We use our fireplace a lot so I have to keep things as fireproof as possible.
I've borrowed the picture below from a previous home tour post because the stockings are exactly the same as the previous years.

Here's a view from the dining area, through the keeping room, into the kitchen.  I'm still loving the surprise pop of bright green on my island stool.  I hope I never grow tired of it.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law live in Alaska and gave us this fun pillow a few years ago.  It is the softest pillow you'd ever snuggle up with.

A mitten cookie jar and snowman mug make a fun display on the island.  Both of these items were "white elephant" gifts from previous Christmas parties.   I like to keep everything on a tray so I can move it when necessary.

I keep some of my favorite mini decorations on my kitchen window sill.  The little wheelbarrow ornament is from Hubs.  My daughter gave me the small glass greenhouse (also an ornament) and I enjoy using it year round.  I placed a glass coaster, upside down, onto a milkglass vase and then placed the greenhouse on top of that.  I topped a bit of moss with one of my baby button nests.  I clip a little baby button nest onto every Etsy package I sell.  I have a great time making them.

I refurbished these faux pinecones this year and added new ribbon.  They hang on the knob of my china cabinet.

A perfectly simple tray of lanterns and greenery sits smack dab in the middle of my dining room table.  It's easy to move when we're ready to sit down for dinner and large enough to make a statement when the table is not in use.

Our tree is an artificial, pre-lit slim tree.  We had a hard time finding a tree that would fit in our awkward room.  My dining room sideboard boasts two lamps, a hurricane on a pedestal, a picture of my favorite Marine (son Ryan), and Lenox ornament. 

A slim table in the hallway holds a small tree and a family nativity set.  I put a small piece of fabric under the display to show it off a little bit better. 

My newest Christmas purchase is a tree shaped card holder.  It holds a lot of cards.  I found it in a little shop in Richmond, VA that I'll be talking more about in the future. 

Even my famous cobalt blue bathtub gets a bit of Christmas cheer.

I put a touch of greenery, a glitter shell, and a white sea star into a fishing basket next to the bathroom sink to welcome guests.

The table in the corner of the bathroom holds a small tree that I call "The grandmother tree".  It is decorated with items that once belonged to each of the grandmothers in our lives.  Small blue vintage balls from my grandma.  Small birds from Bible story time that Grandmother developed.  Lace and trim from Hub's grandmothers.  When my kids were babies, Sears had a special photo package that included little photo lockets.  They were perfect grandmother gifts, which were returned to me as each grandma passed on.  The rock at the base of the tree is heart shaped and I picked it up on the first outing with my first grandchild.  (I think I might cry now)

In the foyer, I kept things subdued.  The word rejoice and a beautiful display of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ child.

This nativity set sits on my coffee table.  Frequently, all of the animals are found nestled in the stable with Baby Jesus.  My grandson explains that the animals are keeping the baby warm. 

The master bedroom sports some cheerful red touches and my favorite pillow made by one of my daughters.

Up on the third floor, the guest room remodel is on hold because of a very special project. . .

As you can see in the background, the bed linens are ready for the newly painted bed.  Some things are just more important than decorating. . .

Merry Christmas to all of my readers.  You guys are the best cheering squad ever.  May this season of joy and hope fill your hearts with a renewed faith in Christ our Saviour.