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Author: HJ Ozborn

Popcorn & Cranberry Garland

This is one of those projects I didn’t really have the time for this holiday season, but I’d been thinking about it for more than a month before the tree went up.

In an effort to get it out of my brain, I had to make it happen!

I have just a couple memories of making popcorn and cranberry garland for our Christmas tree growing up.

Just a couple because we only did it a couple of times.

I remembered why once I got started: it’s delicate work and time consuming.

The final product though….

Oh Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

It just can’t be argued.

It’s unique and adorable and fun and festive and…and…and…

I managed to find the time to complete this project during “wind down” time – mostly at the end of the day when an absentminded task and the fifth (sixth, seventh…) showing of Home Alone plays in the background on TV are just what the mind and body needs before going to sleep.

I also accepted that this would come together slowly. It took an entire week of working a little at a time before I finally finished!

This isn’t a project for little kids, regardless how great their fine motor skills have developed. The task is just too delicate (popcorn doesn’t stand up to being handled with anything than the gentlest of hands) and I stabbed myself in the finger with the needle more than once.

Hazard of the job I suppose.

But if you need a mindless – mindfulness – project that will give your tree the little extra somthin’ that it’s been screaming for since you put it up and decorated: this one is just what you’re looking for!

Popcorn and Cranberry Garland Supplies Needed:

  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Large Bowl of Popped Popcorn – no need for buttery goodness
  • Fresh Cranberries

Popcorn and Cranberry Garland How To:

  • Measure thread to workable length and thread through needle (I like to double my thread strand for extra durability and my ‘workable length’ was about my wing-span)
  • Tie a thick “junk knot” in end of strand
  • Begin stringing popcorn and cranberries (I did 8-12 inches of popcorn, then cranberries, but there’s no hard fast rule here. You do what makes you happy!)
  • Once strand is finished, tie off the end and drape on tree
  • Continue until tree is fully adorned with your sweet handmade decor

Anyone else take on a project in the spirit of the holiday that they didn’t really have time for…but are soooo pleased that they bit the bullet?

Pause – Play – Pause

In the many weeks since I last blogged I’ve done a tremendous amount of blogging.

If you’re confused because you haven’t seen a word from me; allow me to explain: I’ve done a tremendous amount of blogging….in my head!

As per usual, our world got busy and in an effort to keep it from spinning out of control I had to hit pause.

Unfortunately, hitting pause <especially for mamas> often means pausing on the stuff that is OURS.

Our own self care.

And by self care I’m not speaking of taking a shower and eating a meal.

I’m talking about the special things that we have and do that are all our own…separate from all the mom-ing, wife-ing, managing a household responsibilities and meeting our very most basic needs.

While I haven’t had the time – or brain power, if I’m honest – to sit at the keyboard and string together coherent (and sometimes maybe even witty) thoughts, I’ve pondered a lot about this blog…namely its future.

I think the blog must go on, if for no other reason than it’s MINE and I have so few things that belong especially to me.

But perhaps it will take on a revamp….

Or maybe it will stay exactly the same as you’ve come to know (and perhaps even love)….

….I haven’t really quite decided.

We’ll see what the new year brings!

Until then, here’s a recap of what we’ve been up to:


-In early October we made a trip back “home” to Nebraska for a small town annual festivity known to some as “Oktoberfest” and to others as “circus tent full of drunken people”. Because our trip was aimed at being family friendly, we dodged the “circus tent” and instead took in the parade (fighting against ridiculous, cold wind) and made a trip out to the pumpkin patch later in the afternoon.

-Mid October we were blessed to move forward with adoption of our two <former> foster kiddos. Our parents and local supporters helped us pack the court room and make our “forever official”. When I say “been there, done that, got the t-shirt” I’m speaking literally. Our family of 5 wore matching “Forever Official” tees that were simply too cute!
A gathering of family the evening before and a party to include fun indoor play (and lunch, of course) after court allowed us to celebrate something we never, EVER, dreamed would be part of our story.

-Immediately following adoption (again, literally…the adoption party mess was hardly cleaned up before we were on to the next thing) we began basement remodel. A forever family of 5 means the need for more bedrooms.
I’m given to understand that kids are teamed up in shared rooms all the time — I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how. LOL. More power to all of you who’ve made that work….we simply haven’t been able to.
I’m still working on finishing paint before carpet arrives in a week and a half…but again…the need to push pause on that project until more time-sensitive things have been crossed off the list.

-Amongst all the chaos of planning for adoption and orchestrating those details I was diagnosed with a life changing autoimmune disease. And when I say “literally”, yet again, I mean just that. The night before adoption eve, I received a message from my GI doctor at 9:45pm (on a Saturday!) with the news.
Wrapping my head around this and coming to terms with the need to simply embrace it has been no easy task. I plan to share more at a later time – which is how this blog might revamp just a touch (but I’ll still bore you with all the details of my family, gardening, spirituality and DIY life, too!).

-Halloween! Of Course!

-I’ve been busy with more planning and preparing as we enter a VERY BUSY holiday season.
An out of town wedding the day before Thanksgiving meant figuring out what everyone would wear, what I needed to shop for and how I was going to get my kids to sleep worth a darn in a hotel room (for the record: they didn’t). Add to that a storm that dumped a foot and a half of snow on us the day before we were to leave and our furnace going out the morning of travel meant LOTS of obstacles before getting on the road. Somehow, we managed!
Thanksgiving morning we rose bright and early to hit the road once again and head to an early family Christmas on Thanksgiving celebration….thus the need for gift shopping and wrapping to be complete before we headed out on Wednesday.
Planning around my hubby’s travel schedule meant putting together a birthday celebration for our little guy who is turning ONE (!) a little earlier on the calendar than I’d have liked…but you play the cards you’re dealt. (side note: I can’t even process how this past year went so quickly). The party came together with the necessity for quicker turn-around than would have been ideal but somehow it happened and, we DID have a Monster Celebration the Friday after Thanksgiving…with far fewer guests than we had anticipated because Mother Nature got at it again with a blizzard and closed roads.

In the blink of an eye, it’s December!

Time to trim the tree, light the lights and do all the things Christmas…shopping, wrapping, crafts, cookies, cards, newsletters…and ensuring the reason for the season isn’t lost in the whirlwind of All. The. Things.

Our kiddos are still quite young but I am so excited about creating some yearly holiday traditions that will give them memories to last a lifetime.

It will very likely be after the start of the new year before I’m back on the blog but in the meantime PLEASE SHARE: What are your awesome holiday traditions?

Movement Monday: Standing Abs Challenge Check In & Green Beans

When the garden knocks…you answer…immediately.

The best time to preserve anything – whether canning, freezing or drying – is 24-hours within picking. Or sooner, if possible.

Waiting means the freshness and quality of the food is being compromised (tomatoes has been the only exception to this rule that I use simply because you want them to be as ripe as possible and that sometimes means having to wait a touch).

And what’s the point in putting in all the work if you aren’t going to have a high quality and fresh final product?

Yesterday before it warmed up I got out into the greenhouse and did a harvest.

Tomatoes and green beans galore!

Shortly after I set to work getting 8 pints (the max my pressure canner can hold at a time) of green beans canned and on the shelf for winter eats.

If you’re interested, here’s a post on how green beans come to be a delicious treat long after the garden is gone for the season.

It’s time consuming but oh-so worth it!

In other news…I wanted to check in with those who outreached either via the comments on the blog or personal message on FB with interest in the Standing Abs Challenge (<– link to challenge).

How are y’all doing?

Admittedly, I started off strong and have already fallen off the plan (weekends when there’s a lot going on KILL me!).

So I have some catching up to do.

As I mentioned previously, if you miss a day, you be the boss of you and figure out how you want to address those missed days.

Maybe you skip them all together.

Perhaps you double up a couple days until you’re caught up.

Another option is to exercise through rest days until back on track.

I’m for sure going to make up all the missed reps but haven’t quite decided if I’m going to double up or work through rest days.

If you didn’t jump in on Sept 1st, you’re still welcome to join the fun. For those who’ve started already….I’m interested to hear how you are doing…and if you did anything fun over the weekend. Shout out below!

And have a beautiful Monday!