Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Ornament Tradition and our 2014 Ornament

Our Christmas Ornament Tradition

A few short months after our wedding, my husband and I celebrated our first Christmas together. 

We decided to start something that has now become a special tradition for our family. We decided that, each year, we will find or make an ornament that especially represents that year and add it to our tree (we're both big on ornaments that have stories and are not just decorative). 

In 2012, we put a picture from our honeymoon into this small frame. It represented a year of a new beginning—the year we got married!

In 2013, we made the tradition "official." We decided that, each year on our anniversary, we would take some time to write in our anniversary journal about what we decided to make for our ornament that year and why. Deciding our ornament on our anniversary has proven to be a good plan—that gives us time to find or create our ornament before Thanksgiving weekend, when we put up our tree each year.

For 2013, we got a small jar and put a poppyseed in it. We decided to make this our ornament last year because God had given us a baby—a baby who we called poppyseed up until she was born in early 2014.

Our 2014 Ornament

I'm really excited about our ornament this year—maybe because of the symbolism, or maybe because it took longest to make. This year, we decided to make a tree.

We decided on a tree partially because of the symbolism in this Andrew Peterson song and the story behind it.

2014, has, for us, been a year of growth, planting, putting down roots. There are three main reasons we decided a tree represents this year:
  1. We have both been convicted this year about our need to pursue spiritual growth more fervently. This is something we are both, together, being more intentional about.
  2. We had our baby girl this year! We "planted a new seed" and are cultivating her growth.
  3. We've gotten more settled into our new home, our roles, and our routine. We are "putting down roots," so to speak.
The Making of the Tree

After we decided to make a tree, I set out looking for a tree ornament. But, the only ones I could find were Christmas trees. So, I decided to make a wire tree (which is significantly cheaper than buying one. About 10 times cheaper, in fact). I found this helpful (and silly) tutorial video about how to make gemstone trees.

I took some liberties and did my tree a bit differently... I added more "branches" (my tree has 11 of them). I also put crystal beads onto the loops so I didn't have to mess with gluing things. I also just curled the ends of my roots instead of gluing it to a rock since this tree will hang instead of standing. I added an extra little loop of wire and tied a green ribbon to it. With sale prices and a 40% off coupon, the materials for this project were only $2.50, and I still have at least half of the 26-gauge wire left over. I'm loving this tree and can't wait to hang it on our Christmas tree next week!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Easy Barley Soup

I invented a recipe today. We are always looking for affordable meal options, and barley is almost as cheap as it gets (this whole pot of soup was less than $3 to make)! We don't get fancy barley, just the simple kind, where you buy a bag of dry barley like you'd buy a bag of dried beans.

I got the inspiration for this recipe from the back of the Hurst's barley bag. I made quite a few modifications, though, so I think I can call it my own. It turned out so much better than I'd expected it would!

  • 1/2 c. barley
  • 7 c. water
  • 1-1/2 c. diced ham
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1, 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 beef and 2 chicken bullion cubes
  • basil to taste
  1. Combine ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Boil gently for about 2 hours, checking and stirring occasionally. Add water during cooking to reach desired consistency, if needed.
  3. Remove bay leaf and serve. Makes about 4 bowl servings.