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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Talented Tuesday - Stan Is So Talented!

Talented Tuesday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. Got ancestors who had a special talent? Be it musical, comical, or any manner of skill, post at your genealogy blog through words and pictures. Here is my submission today:

My husband, Stan Harris, is so talented! He is a Maintenance Manager/Plant Engineer and can do anything mechanical, electrical, industrial. He can work on any machine and designs things too. He got this from his father, Billy Harris. Billy was a natural with machinery. He was uneducated in his field and yet was one of the best. He worked in the maintenance department of Draper Corp for most of his working life and could fix anything. He was the Dept Supervisor and he hired Stan. Stan worked at Draper Corp for 8 years under his father and he learned a lot. Stan continued to work in this field as he continued his education in Engineering. Stan's brother, Ronnie, seems to have this talent too. And Ronnie's son, Luke, definitely has the touch! Another Harris nephew, Evans, loves to work on vehicles and is good at it. Evans' brother, Aaron, may have that touch too. They all have this ability to tear down a machine, sit in it and learn by building it back. Same with construction. Now Evans and Aaron are very intelligent and did well in school and college. So they can do the school thing too. But all of them also learn by feel, touching it, tearing it down, almost by osmosis. They make mistakes but they learn from them. It just makes sense to them. It reminds me of my nephew, Lee, and his musical abilities. He just sat at the piano and did it. It made sense to him and it flows out of his fingertips. Those kind of miraculous, natural born, God given talents amaze me!

Stan also has a wide range of talents in contruction. My Dad taught his son-in-laws when we all built our first homes and the men did most of it themselves. Since then we have extensively remodeled two other homes. He has done everything from building a gazebo, to remodeling his shop from the studs. He can do plumbing, electrical, framing, welding, etc. What he can't do, he knows someone who can. He is so handy to have around the house, I don't know what I would do without his skills!

And his talents don't stop. He has written a book and has a second one in the works. He used to sing on our church's Praise and Worship Team. He is a good artist in several different mediums. He also loves to cook and grill and he is always coming up with new recipes.

He is a hard worker and very talented.

Stan recording his book.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Organizing and Storing Christmas Decorations

You finally got the Christmas decorations out and now I'm already talking about how to organize and store your Christmas decorations! Sorry, but unpacking and putting out my Christmas decorations made me start thinking about better ways to organize and store Christmas decorations. How do you store wreaths? How do you organize and store Christmas lights? How do you protect and store your Christmas tree ornaments? What about storing Christmas villages? There are so many different sizes of things to store... from Christmas linens to Christmas wrapping, from artificial Christmas trees to outdoor Christmas decorations. If your decorations look like this, you need to spend some time organizing when it comes time to take the decorations down and store them.

I searched the Internet for ideas on how people have tackled this. In the old days, people would cut down a small tree and string some popcorn and cranberries to decorate it. But today, marketers have convinced us that there should be no limit to decorating for the holidays. The home decorating shows on cable TV channels are really ads. They create a desire and need for everything Christmas. I watched "Celebrity Christmas Houses" and the decorators stripped the homes of their normal furnishings and started with a blank slate. I thought that was a bit much. Every surface was decorated, even the ceilings. Marketers are savvy enough to push all this in order to make money. And we stock up and then we have to store what we've bought.

One thing that I did last year was to buy a smaller tree, about 3' tall. I put the lights and decorations on it. After Christmas I covered it with a plastic bag and stored it in the attic with all the lights and decorations still on it. This Christmas we took the bag off and brought it downstairs. Voila! It was so much easier than anything I've ever done before. But they do make artificial Christmas tree bags and tents. The cardboard box that the tree came in originally won't last long and it's always harder to get the tree to fit back in that original box.

I have plastic bins. They are all the same size and are stackable. Big enough to hold what I need but not so big that they are too heavy to lift. I like see through plastic containers. But I also like the idea of a representative color like red and/or green for Christmas. It makes it easier to distinguish between your Christmas decorations and your Halloween decorations. I personally don't like cardboard boxes for storage as they can make for good bug homes and rodents can get in them especially if they are stored in the attic, garage, or basement.

It's essential to label your boxes with the contents.

Sort through your decorations and throw away or donate things that you no longer want.

Wash and dry your decorations. Don't store dusty knick knacks or stained linens. Wash your Christmas linens (or have them drycleaned) before you store them. Wash all the tabletop decorations.

Once they are clean and sorted, make sure you carefully store them. Wrap them in tissue paper, paper towels, bubble wrap. Don't use newspaper so you won't get newsprint ink on the ornaments.

You could use blister packs to help protect ornaments. Here are some apple blisters.

For those that aren't fragile, you can group them by color or size in plastic baggies.

There are some things that you won't want to store in extreme temperatures so be aware of this. For instance, if you have to store your decorations in the attic or the garage then they will be subject to extreme temperatures so don't store Christmas candles in them. Just be aware of those kinds of things. One tip for storing special Christmas candles is to store them in old socks to keep them from getting scratched.

Be sure not to put fragile items on the very bottom or very top of a box.

Keep extra metal hooks or metal hangers in a box or plastic bag and store with your ornaments so you will have what you need next year and aren't looking through drawers and boxes for hooks.

To store strands of lights you can purchase things that are made just for that.

Or you could wrap them around pieces of cardboard. You could even use a shoebox but using the top of the shoebox to wrap the lights around. You cut the sides off the top and then wrap the lights and place them in the shoebox.

You could also use a hosepipe reel like this.

You don't want your Christmas wreaths to get smushed so these wreath storage ideas are great to keep your wreaths fresh looking.

You may want to organize your decorations by theme, color, room, maker, etc. For instance you could have a box for the living room decorations and another one for the dining room decorations. Or you could sort them as to who made them such as all the ones made by your daughter and all the ones made by your son. My sister-in-law purchases new ornaments for each of her 3 sons every year. I'm sure she has storage containers for each son's ornaments because she plans to give them their ornaments once they get married. Or you might sort your Christmas villages by theme. Do you have a 1950's village and a Dickens village, then group them together. Or you might group all your white and silver ornaments in one box and your red and green ornaments together.

If you have some arrangements that you particularly like, then take snapshots of them and print them and enclose those photos in the boxes. I do this to make a scrapbook page each year of how I decorated my house. It's part of my Christmas scrapbook. For instance, maybe you love the way you arranged the mantle in the living room... take a photograph of the arrangement before you take it apart and print the photo and place in the box with the decorations. You can also take photos of how to put together the artificial tree and use that as your instructions.

Don't pack away your Holiday Planning Notebook. You will need this notebook during the year to keep track of recipes, address changes, gift ideas and gifts purchased.

You may have a box that is opened at the very beginning of the season. It could contain your advent calendar, tree stand, Christmas cards, or whatever you need at the beginning of the Christmas season.

I like to place Christmas sachets in the boxes. I love the Christmas smells of evergreen and I love getting that as soon as I open the storage boxes.

The best option for storing Christmas villages is to keep all of the boxes that your village came in. This way you can simply repackage them in the Styrofoam, put them into the box and store them in a plastic bin. If you don't have the original boxes, then carefully wrap them in bubble wrap and store in plastic bins. Be sure to carefully wash it or dust it before storing.

Plan where you will store your Christmas decorations boxes. This depends upon your house and family and how many decorations you have. Some people really go all out and have multiple trees, outdoor decorations, different villages, etc. You might need to set aside a whole section of the basement or attic to store all this. Set yourself up some shelving and go for it. Some people live in apartments and don't have room to store more than a few Christmas decorations. In that case you might can use a top shelf in a closet or a drawer in your chest or drawers. You don't want your decorations to be so difficult to get to that you tend to say, "Let's just forget about it." For instance, if you store 6 heavy plastic bins on a top shelf in the garage, you will dread having to drag out a ladder and reaching down those heavy boxes so you may procrastinate until you don't decorate at all. If that happens, then declutter and donate, trash or gift all that extraneous stuff. Nobody says you have to do any more than bare minimum in decorating for the season. If you have children, then, yes, you need a Christmas tree, stockings and some fun things. But you don't have to cover every surface with decorations. If it's not fun to put up and take down and store the decorations then you need to re-think what is important to you. I like for my house to be inviting and attractive, but I don't overdo it because it's too much trouble for just 3-4 weeks of the year. I've tried to scale down so it's not such a daunting task. You want your family to enjoy the season not dread it. Most of us can simplify more than we do. But there are those who get a lot of joy out of the decorations and more power to you! I love to drive around and see the Christmas lights in people's homes.

One last note... Always take your Christmas holiday decorations down in a timely manner. Nothing looks worse than drooping Christmas lights still strung on a house in April or a dusty Christmas tree still sitting in the living room in June or a Christmas wreath still on the door on Valentine's Day. If you can't take them down and store them, don't buy and set them out to start with. If you can't take the lights down off the house, don't put them up to start with. There is no law that says you have to put lights up on your house. We don't because my husband likes to put them up and hates to take them down and he is one of those who would leave them up rather than take the time to pull them down and that gets on my nerves. It makes a house look neglected and sad.

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