FREE OPEN HOUSE PRINTABLES — so you can keep a few doors closed!

Have you ever considered having a Christmas Open House  . . . but talked yourself out of it because you just didn't have time or energy to clean every.single.room?   Don't ever do that again!   If you have stairs, it's easy to keep the entire second floor off limits.     But there's another way to say OFF LIMITS. It's subtle, kind, and communicates—and I've used it on multiple occasions.  :-)   Print cute signs and put them on the doors you want to stay closed. Here are a couple of different styles.   RETRO CHRISTMAS MidCentury Reindeer Games   VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS   Victorian Santa's Workshop   These two images are available FREE for immediate ... Keep Reading...

The Not-so-glamorous Side of the Holidays: READ THIS IF YOU SHOP ONLINE!

It happened so fast! ... Keep Reading...

Favorite Ideas for Gift-Giving

Three weeks until Christmas, and your time is precious, so here are a few quick-and-easy (very random!) ideas for you this morning. These are NOT affiliate links.   Two Christmases ago, Renaissance Man surprised me with a set of sheets from BOLL & BRANCH. I love their company story—and was "wowed" by their detailed packaging—but let's be honest:  It's the verdict two years later that matters.   This is the only set of sheets I now use . . . and they get softer with every wash!  A+     A long-time family favorite both to give and receive:  PENZEYS SPICES. If you like to cook (or eat!), these high-quality spices are a "must".     RIDGID POWER TOOLS have been "must ... Keep Reading...

CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT COLLECTIONS: Oh, the stories they tell!

December 1   Are you in countdown mode?   It's hard for me to believe that, for the second year in a row, there will be precious little Christmas decorating going on at our house. One year ago today we sold the big ol' house we restored in town and began a year of fifth wheel living at the farm . . . waiting to build our Finally Farmhouse. We're still waiting—but we *think* we'll be able to move forward in January.   Can you believe Renaissance Man asked me the other day how may trees I want to put up for our open house next Christmas? :-) Seriously? We don't even have a house! How can I possibly think about having an OPEN house?   But in this season of missing my pretties, I had a special treat. If ... Keep Reading...

Going Green at Christmas

Can we really make a difference in our world?   Sometimes it seems we ask ourselves that question more at this time of year than any other . . . and we're a little more intentional about trying to make that difference. If you've spent much time here at My Place (thank you for that!), you know I'm all about making a difference in the lives of children. Holiday shopping in our family includes local giving opportunities like Angel Tree and Coats for the Cold and Christmas in Jefferson County.   I hope you're looking for those chances to give where you live, too.   There's one topic, though, that isn't "first" in my mind during the holidays, but I started thinking about it recently when considering tips for “going ... Keep Reading...

Christmas at Biltmore Estate

How about a short field trip on this Friday before Thanksgiving? Anyone needing a break?   Renaissance Man and I had to be in South Carolina earlier this week—and WE were needing a break— so I made my request:   How about on the way home we stop at Biltmore to see the Christmas decorations?   He agreed—and so we did!   And now you can, too!   Let's "travel to a whole new state of mind" to Asheville, North Carolina. Today we're visiting Biltmore Estate, America's largest home, built over a century ago by George Vanderbilt for his family—and still owned by the family today.   I know you're busy, so here are just a few bits of inspiration to think about as you're baking those ... Keep Reading...

SILENCE (followed by laughter!): Five Minute Friday

It's time for another Five Minute Friday—writing for five minutes from a single word-prompt.     START   Those rare moments when every sound stops and life envelops.   The motionless standing over a sleeping child’s bed—watching, dreaming, grateful.   The beauty of a snow-covered field at dawn before the world awakes—glistening.   The quiet tears falling down the face at the graveside—missing, lonely, grieving.   The peace that comes from saying, “Here I am Lord. Use me as you will.”   But sometimes . . .  Sometimes silence is the precursor to hilarity. It’s the pregnant pause moment when your mind says, “Did I just hear what I think I ... Keep Reading...

REST: Free Write Day 31

  START   Thirty-one days of free-writes . . .   Let’s give it a rest!   Thanks for indulging me and encouraging me to push myself through these last four weeks. It’s been an interesting experience.   Previous 31-day series have had themes. I’ve worked ahead a lot. I’ve enjoyed every.single.one of the posts.     This time was different.   There was no theme to grab on to. Each topic brought a variety of thoughts to mind.   There was no REST in the writing.   But I’m glad I pushed through. Glad, too, it’s over. :-)   I think I’ll still enjoy the Five-Minute Fridays (although it’s possible I’ll skip a week or two). But IF I do a 31-day ... Keep Reading...

REFINE: Free Write Day 30

  I love this photograph. It's the perfect combination of plain and fancy, simple and sophisticated. Both extremes are beautiful in their purest forms.   Both have value.   This photograph perfectly portrays what comes to mind when I think of "refined" people.   START   A refined person is NOT necessarily one of great wealth or aristocratic upbringing. They are NOT someone who's snooty or old-fashioned. They don't always know which fork to use.   I've known many refined people, and they all have things in common—regardless of bank balance or upbringing.   A person of refinement is kind, polite, respectful.   They are always thoughtful—in words and ... Keep Reading...

FOLLOW: Free Write Day 29

  I walked around a corner and saw them:  these shoes, sporting their cute looks along a wall. Once again, those girls showing their creative side . . . their "cute".   START   Those girls. They're following a new path.   The one they were born into wasn't pretty.   Abuse, neglect, abandonment, trafficking.   The girls no longer wonder if they'll be safe at night. No longer worry about whether or not there will be food to eat—or a bed to sleep in. Those cardboard "street mattresses" weren't very comfortable.   These girls no longer follow the path of poverty, teen (or childhood) pregnancy, and uncertainty.   Instead, they're living in homes with house parents who ... Keep Reading...

CONNECT: Free Write Day 28

  START   Life is no dot-to-dot picture.   We don't get a hint at what the future looks like. We don't even know how many dots there will be to connect.   Will our life be long, short—or somewhere in between?   Will the final picture be happy, sad—confusing?   I love watching children do their first dot-to-dot pictures. Some children know their numbers well and follow exactly as intended. For others, the final product is a little bit "off".   Life is like that, too.   Some people appear (on the surface, at least) to follow a clear path that leads to good things happening. Others take a lot of detours; some of their own making and some not.   And yet, if ... Keep Reading...

OVERCOME: Free Write Day 27

  START   For the past 11 months, Renaissance Man and I have lived in only 300 square feet. Most of that time, it's been fine—really. But yesterday . . .   The space started closing in, and I was *almost* overcome with a really gripe-y attitude.   Almost.   My desk was messy. (Still is). The floor needed swept. Books needed to be put away. (Still do.) The TV was distracting me.   And we'd spent the morning meeting with Builder #4.   The meeting was positive, but (as my husband said afterward) we're a bit jaded. We've been down this road before—three times—and we'll "believe it when we see it".   Thankfully, a short walk straightened out my mind and allowed me to ... Keep Reading...

CHANGE: Free Write Day 26

START   Before   After   . . . and everything in between.   Change rarely occurs without a lot of “in between”.   A lot of choosing—and choosing again.   We often think of “befores and afters” being things that go from bad to good, don’t we?   From inferior to positive.   Weight loss. Improved health. House renovation. Transformed lives.   I love those!   But what about when the change is from positive to negative?   From stable to unstable.   Divorce. Illness. Death.   Those are “befores and afters” too.   Change is simply part of life — but it’s rarely simple.   Change is hard, ... Keep Reading...

BECAUSE: Free Write Day 25

  START   While I may have a love-hate relationship with my cell phone, there's one part of it that has revolutionized my life.   The camera.   It's the perfect addition to my day.   The phone camera is always at the ready. Always a quick reach away.   Whenever I see something I want to photograph, it's there. No more missed moments.   While I still take my big camera with me on occasion, it's not usually accessible for the spur-of-the-moment pics. The ease has revolutionized my photography. It's stretched my artist's eye.   It's helped me slow down and live in the moments.   That is a gift!   Time is a gift . . . and so are these ... Keep Reading...

REVISE: Free Write Day 24

  Look closely at this picture. I've waited a long time to share it with you. It brings to mind a few days I've had!   Have you ever had a day (or year!) like this—when everything seemed to go wrong?   Of course you have . . . and so we all do things to try to avoid problems.   We revise.   Revise recipes to make them healthier   Revise words to make them kinder.   Revise travel plans to make them more convenient.   Recently I saw a revision that made me want to scream. Still does!   START   Flipping through the real estate listings, I saw a gorgeous Craftsman-style house. When I clicked on it, I saw a house under construction.   Oh, ... Keep Reading...

WORK: Free Write Day 23

  START   Wouldn’t it be fun if work felt like play? If work time was spent doing only what you liked — or loved!   What if you woke up in the morning excited about going to work? What would that look like for you? Would you actually GO to work (away from home) or would you simply walk to a studio or office and start your day?   How would you feel about getting paid to do what you love? Wouldn’t that be nice?   Why is it so many people are working in jobs they don’t like? Why are people under qualified (and failing) or over qualified (and bored)?   What would your dream job look like? Are you doing it?   Why — or why not?   Whatever you do, work at it with all your ... Keep Reading...