I'm a full-time wife and mom of two adorable boys. When I'm not busy trying to keep up with them I enjoy photography, traveling, planning parties and a little bit of reading.

In February of 2008 I was diagnosed with an incurable terminal lung illness, though God promised me a full and complete healing. While we wait for His timing, we're taking it one day at a time, and standing in awe of how God's using all of this for His glory. The tough road we've traveled has given us a new perspective on the fragility of life. Memories are more important to us than ever before. The goal of this blog is to share some of our family life - the ups and downs, the joys and probably some of the pains as well. It's mostly meant as a personal journal of sorts, but you're welcome to share in it. We'd like to take this opportunity to say ...


Thursday, January 14, 2010

the BEST gifts are FREE

Sometimes the VERY BEST gifts are FREE 
(except for shipping)

My sister lives in Tahoe - yeah that Tahoe.  It's waaaaay too far away, especially since I'm unable to fly (due to my lung problems).  Since she missed me sooo much (and who wouldn't???), two weeks before we moved, my sister and her toddler flew East for a visit.  She brought with her a dvd she created of many of the videos she's taken of my nephew since the last time they visited.  It was a wonderful idea - I got to be part of what I missed out on!  One of the video clips was of (then two-year old) Paul playing street hockey with his father using ginormous pine cones.  Pine cones.  Yeah.  It was an amazing video!

Well, my mind immediately started turning, and I told her what I wanted for my birthday (which was the following month).  I wanted PINE CONES - lots and lots of huge pine cones!  So, sure enough - after returning home, she went out in the back yard and grabbed a bunch.  Since they were filled with ooey-gooey sap and probably nasty little bugs (I detest bugs!), she baked them in the oven. This turned the sticky sap into a beautiful shiny glaze.  Then she packed them in a box with lots of padding and went to UPS.  Soon after we moved they showed up on my doorstep, and I was uber excited!

My birthday's right around Thanksgiving, so it was soon time to take down my autumn decorations, and put up Christmas ones.  So, they went into a basket by my fireplace.  You can see it here in one of our Christmas Photo out-takes...

Christmas decorations eventually came down too, and I didn't want to put away my beauties.  So, they found their way to our mantle.

Aren't they simply gorgeous?  They must be at least seven inches tall!  But, they're not quite substantial enough to fill the whole mantle all by themselves.

When we moved in, I vowed I wouldn't hang pictures/art until after we painted the corresponding room.  I thought there was no point spackling two sets of holes.  So, there's a corner of the basement devoted to the lonely framed treasures.  But, a week or two ago I got so sick of seeing the white walls (I'm decidedly NOT a "white walls person"!), so I pulled out four pieces of art to hang. As I was going through the collection, I decided to pull out a couple framed photos also.  So, some also found themselves on the mantle.

My sister and nephew

Aaron's nephew handing me a flower that dropped off my bouquet at our wedding reception

Young Aaron with his father and older brother
(When they were Amish)

Our engagement photo

And the whole mantle

Now before you criticize too much - the sconces (which are totally "fine" - just not me) came with the house and we haven't "dealt with them" yet.  And the mirror that I wanted to go over the mantle got broken during the move - and I haven't bought a new one yet.  The picture is temporary, I want it to hang elsewhere in the house.  But I think it's an acceptable fill-in for the time being.

So, there you have it - my be-au-ti-ful birthday pine cones and a couple treasured photos.

Thank you, Robbi!  I'd love more again next year!
(wink-wink, nudge-nudge)

(I'm linking up with)


Beth@The Stories of A to Z said...

I was so excited to see that you linked up!!! And yes, I have to admit I have some pinecone envy going on right now :). One of my girlfriends brought me a pinecone like yours from a trip she took out West. That was over a decade ago and I still treasure that baby! They are gorgeous and totally make your mantel. Thanks for joining my party girlfriend! I miss ya.

Barb~Bella Vista said...

Hi Julia, I love those pinecones. Wow, they make your mantel so festive. Thanks for such a wonderful idea!

Barb ♥

Magic Brush said...

Wish we could find some pinecones around here!!!!

Miki said...

Yup, pinecone envy from me too :-) No worries about anyone criticizing! You did a great job dressing up your mantle even in the in-between phase. Miki

Grace @ Ruby Moon Designs said...

Those pine cones are lovely! I love nature's natural beauty! Good job!


Blessedmom's Simple Home said...

I've had my mantel decorated with just photos before, but the pinecones look so nice with the pictures. I've been putting pinecones away today. I kept them out for quite awhile too, I just love using them to decorate.

Anonymous said...

I love the story of your pine cones....I have a similar one, my sweet sister sent me a tumbleweed after a comment I made about wanting a tumbleweed! She must have spent $30.00 mailing me that thing because the box was so huge! But I managed to find a couple small ones near me and my grandson and I made a S. Calif snowman with three tumbleweeds spray painted white! It was so much fun and "he" turned out so cute! Sisters are the best along with natures gifts! Toni

Blondie's Journal said...


I love what you did with the mantel!! Those pinecones are hug. It is so nice to have personal pieces on your mantel because I think people are drawn to it first and it says something about you and your family. The pictures are great! Beautiful job! :-)