House For Six

A Thanksgiving Table (JuSt In Time!)

Deme CrinionComment

Before the interwebs are pumping out all Christmas all the time (wait, we're already there, aren't we?), I wanted to throw it back to Thanksgiving for one last shoutout to fall.

I recently gave up the idea of using our dining room as a playroom, and switched it back over to a dedicated dining space.  The playroom/homework room made sense, in theory.  We have four young kids (read:  toys, and books, and backpacks oh my), but we found that they rarely used this room.  


We opened up most of the first floor when we moved in so it feels like one large living space.  With the exception of this room.  It's on the other side of the main level and sort of closed off.  Perfect for corralling toys out of the way, right?  Turns out our kitchen must have a large magnet because that's where everyone congregates.  The older kids use the breakfast table or bar for homework and Liv would never play with her toys in the dining room..because she must be in the mix at all times.  #notoddlerleftbehind

Since moving her play kitchen into the family room, she plays with it daily.  I moved the computer desk into the living and the craft supplies up to the guest room. Which meant.....time to hunt for a table!!  

Except I wanted a big long table to seat lots of people, and holy moly when did they get so expensive?? I was pretty discouraged until a friend texted me a picture of some farm tables at the PB outlet informing me that they were not only 50% off but on sale for an extra 20%.  

When you're shopping an outlet you really don't get to be picky.  There's often only one of a particular item (especially if it's a larger piece of furniture) and could have minor to major defects.  And there one table that was perfect.  The farmhouse style I love, long enough to seat 8, had two additional leaves to seat 10 or squish in 12, solid wood that would last forever, under budget.....perfect. 

Thanksgiving table

Except somehow I managed to talk myself out of it (because it had grooves and imperfections [that I love] but would make it difficult if you tried to write or do homework there).  The whole way home I regretted passing it by.  I mean the whole point was for this to be a space for gathering to share a meal and play some board games.  There were a million other surfaces to do homework.  

I called as soon as the store opened the next day to confirm the sale was still on and drove the 40 minutes back out there to get it.  Let's not dwell on the extra gas money.  

Thanksgiving table

It was delivered the day before Thanksgiving, just in time for us to host our first holiday in our new place.  We had a small gathering with one of our dearest family friends who also have 4 kids, and by bringing in Liv's play table all 12 of us were able to eat together.  

The table was loud and rowdy, and while I normally would have been worried about my children's table manners, I was just so grateful for the life that was happening in our home.  

Thanksgiving table

Really, it wasn't the size or style of the table that made it wonderful.  We could have pushed a bunch of folding tables together for the same result.  But investing in a table gave me the nudge to reopen our doors and do community again.  

Thanksgiving table

It's always hard to open your home after moving when there are still boxes to unpack and pictures to hang, but let's be honest.  If I waited for the house to be perfect (or even "done") before we invited people in, the months would turn into years and we would miss out on so much.  

I hope our kids see that it doesn't matter how the house looks, it matters how we use it.  We are just as much stewards of that gift as we are finances, talents, and little souls.  And it's always the season for opening our doors. 

Thanksgiving table

Family Advent Ideas

Deme Crinion3 Comments

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And happy first day of Advent!  All the pumpkins are gone from the house and we froze our buns off stringing lights on the house this weekend.  I think this may be the earliest we've ever put up the exterior lights since we've been married. The inside of the house is a fresh blank slate, and I can't wait to bring Christmas into our new home for the first time!  But today I'm thinking about Advent....

The concept of Advent as a season of spiritual preparation wasn't really part of our family traditions growing up. Advent was more of a countdown to Christmas, preferably involving pop-out windows with chocolate treats. It wasn't until becoming Catholic that this became a different part of our holiday season and honestly, we're still figuring out what that looks like for our family.

Can I make a confession here?  I'm super guilty of succumbing to mom guilt.  Even taking it onto myself when it doesn't exist.  I was confirmed 10 years ago and because I didn't grow up with a lot of catholic traditions as a child, I tend to look to how other catholic families do things. 

And there's a lot of amazing, inspiring, affirming families out there that have helped us come up with our own catholic culture in our home.  But there's a lot of indirect "should's" and "should not's" out there too.  In catholic circles, in mom circles, in social media circles, in pinteresty circles.  All the circles.  All the expectations.  Expectations that I constantly have to remind myself do not necessarily apply to me/us.

So, as I started to think about Advent for our family this year, I had that moment.  The what should we do? brainstorm....

OK, Let's pull out the Advent Activity Calendar and plan some super fun and festive things, mixed in with some service.  Then we'll bake all kinds of goodies for neighbors, teachers, pastors, and unexpected gifts. Then I'll make personalized gifts for our family/friends.  And maybe quilt each of my children their own Christmas blanket of coziness.  If there's time.


I was talking with a friend the other day about that touted Advent Activity Calendar.  The one that was so great in theory but almost killed us by the time we landed at Christmas Eve. The stress was probably self induced - the first year, I tried to plan something exciting for each day, but quickly learned we needed a variety of festive and low-key activities.  Even with a better balance of activities, and even though the kids do enjoy it, that dang calendar has been a giant stress bomb every year.  It just felt like it made an already busy season even more packed.  The pressure of planning something everyday was too much.  For me anyway.  

Since we're fresh off another move, we're leaving the Activity calendar in the basement this year. We will pull out our Advent wreath (a "work with what you've got" DIY from last year)

Advent wreath

And we're testing out two new traditions that will hopefully work better with our family dynamic in guiding us through a more intentional Advent.

The first is this beautiful set of Advent table cards from She Reads Truth

Each card (one for each day) has a charming illustration on the front and a very simple Scripture with discussion prompts on the back.  I love the simplicity of this tool and the fact that you can do it part of a bedtime routine, in the car ride to school, or over a meal.  We're hoping this will not only help us to make a point of sitting down as a family to dinner each night, but also make for some thoughtful conversations.

The second is The Giving Manger.  

You certainly don't need this kit to get started on the idea, but I love its natural beauty and the wonderful story that accompanies the manger set.

The Giving Manger

Mia actually found this and started reading it before I even had a chance to introduce it.  Soon she had the whole gang gathered around. 

The Giving Manger

With each act of service they show to another, they get to place a piece of straw in the manger.  By Christmas, baby Jesus should have a bed made of love.  The physical connection helps the kids understand the concept of serving another being a gift to that person but also a gift to God.  Now if I can just wrangle that swaddled Savior away from the toddler so I can hide it until Christmas morning....

the giving manger

Our pastor referred to Advent as a time for "spiritual renewal" this morning.  Not "hustle and bustle", not the "season for gifts", not for everything we feel we "should" be doing.  Maybe you'll choose to do some of those things.  Maybe you won't. It's totally up to you.  What we chose to do (and not do) can really shape our Advent and Christmas experience.  I for one have a lot of noise in the background that I need to quiet in order to pave the way for renewal.  So, that's where I plan to start this week.

How about you?  Is Advent a liturgical season in your home?  What does it look like for you?  How about those Christmas expectations?  Anyone else kicking something to the curb this year?

Easy Pumpkin Flower Vase

Deme CrinionComment

Hey there!  Today is our kids' last day of school before the Thanksgiving break and I'm all about Tuesday being Friday!  

We're hosting a small dinner with friends this year and I was looking for an easy fall table idea.  I've packed away most of the Halloween spook and orange pumpkins, but I do have a small handful of neutral pumpkins still out.  Including a fake white pumpkin begging for some attention.

pumpkin flower vase

I'm sure this project isn't a new idea, but it was such an easy way to get a great focal point for minimal cost, so I thought I would share. All you need is a hollow fakey pumpkin (I grabbed mine on clearance from Tarjay last year), a jar just shorter than the pumpkin, a perforated knife,  and some pretty blooms (mine are from the grocery store).

I started by drawing a ring around the top just larger than the base of my jar.

Then I cut along the ring with the knife until I could pop off the top of the pumpkin.

Then I filled the jar about halfway full of water and placed it in the pumpkin.

I cut the stems on my flowers to my desired height.  I wanted mine nice and low so they would look like they were sprouting out of the pumpkin.

pumpkin flower vase

And that's it!  Easy peasy!  

pumpkin flower vase

I think this would look so cute full of sunflowers during Halloween and with flowers in fall hues throughout the rest of the season.  

pumpkin flower vase

These are all the pumpkins still out from our Halloween/Fall decorations.  I kept out enough to keep our Thanksgiving meal feel like fall and then we'll be ready to start decking the halls for Christmas!

pumpkin flower vase

This will be our first Christmas in the new house and I'm so excited!  We moved in this summer and it's been so fun to see our how our neighborhood changes with the seasons.  Between the holiday posts, I still have a few house projects to catch you up on too.  We have a mini-coat closet makeover, exterior house paint, a crazy front door, and of course the completed mudroom to close out 2016.  

For now I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and we'll be back on Friday with some family Advent ideas.  I can't believe the holidays are here!!

One Room Challenge Week 6: Not Quite There

Deme Crinion1 Comment

While we made huge progress on our den turned mudroom space for the One Room Challenge this week, but the big reveal is not quite ready #wompwomp 

There were plenty of DIY's in this room but the contractor helping us out on a few things has been slammed with work.  He's been generous enough to fit us in after hours on this project, but of course, there's always the hiccups....

-What we thought was an easy electrical fix was not so simple.

-The water hookups on the washer were installed backwards hot/cold and cold/hot.....which earned us a nice error message along the lines of "thanks, but I'm not actually going to wash these clothes until you fix it" love note from our washer.  Kind of a big deal in a house where 6 people are generating dirty clothes by the minute.  

-The dryer vent was not connected properly or was damaged when we reinstalled the dryer on the platform.  Not sure exactly what's going on, but the room has basically been a steamy scene from the Titanic movie (minus Leo and Kate) whenever we dry clothes. Fun.

-All that humidity generating means the remaining painting was also put on hold.  Again.

So is there any good news?  YES!   All these issues should be resolved/corrected/finished by the end of the week.

And we did manage to finish the floors before everything else in the room went awry.   We bid a not-so-fond farewell to the last bit of avocado green 


And remember that "should we stain or paint dilemma" for the platform?  We went with paint.  There were so many little nail holes and seams to fill that would have been really noticeable with a stain.  We have plenty of other natural elements in the final room design that painting the platform was a good choice, and the white paint mimics the white lockers on the other side of the room.  

This space is all about function and leaves limited space for art/accessories.  Which means what we do bring in needs to be well thought out and edited.   I'm excited about what we landed on and can't wait to see those accessories bring the space to life!

Even though this is looking to be more like a 7 week ORC for us, I'm so glad we jumped in on the challenge to get this space finished! If we hadn't, I know it would still be wallowing in it's sad state waiting for someone to give it some love.  Can't wait to share the full transformation with you soon!  If you need to catch up, here ya go:

Week 1:  A New Mudroom

Week 2:  The Design

Week 3: Road bumps and Plan B

Week 4:  We Have A Platform!

Week 5: To Stain or To Paint

In the meantime, I'm absolutely blown away by all rooms that were shared in the final link-up! Not to mentioned the featured designer's spaces.  There some serious eye-candy happening over at Linda's who has so generously hosted this event.  So, hop over and be sure to have your Pinning fingers ready!