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Countertop Review

This time last year I was packing up our house to prepare for our down-to-the-studs renovation in our kitchen, family room, and master bath as well as the addition of a screened porch. The family room wasn't originally part of the plan, but that's a post for another time. The kitchen was where I really had to plan and scheme, and, yes even fret, to stay in our footprint and budget and to get the function and look I wanted. I love a challenge like this, though, so despite some occasional frustration with my client (aka me! ), I enjoyed the process. A key "want" of mine was honed marble countertops. There are dozens--maybe hundreds--of blog posts, articles, and showroom sites that compare various types of countertop materials and their pros and cons. I read most of them and took notes from a lot of them in the months leading up to our start date. One of the most helpful things was visiting a sweet friend's kitchen, where I was able to ask questions about cleaning, a

Gladsome Tidings

My perfect Thanksgiving night looks something like this:  We are all full of home-cooked goodness, and the kitchen is sparkling once again.  We’ve entertained some guests, but now as the purple  darkness fills our windows, it is just us.  The fire is humming, and the Mister pops in the dvd of Miracle on 34th Street—the original with Edmund Gwenn and Maureen O’Hara.  Big, Middle, and Little are all lounging about in front of the fireplace while the Mister and I curl up on the sofa.  At my feet sits a basket of Christmas cards to address as I watch this holiday classic.  Oh yes, it’s tempting to nod off—especially after all that soporific turkey and dressing, but it’s so much more rewarding to finish this gentle task and look forward to a mailbox full of Christmas cards in the coming weeks.

We so enjoy receiving cards each year.  I know it's an expensive endeavor--postage alone is costly.  But still, even in the world of social networking and emails, I think it's a tradition worth keeping.  For the past two years I’ve ordered our Christmas cards online from Shutterfly, and I’ve been extremely pleased with both the quality and the service.  And after looking around at a few other online sites, I have to say that I think the prices on the stationery are extremely reasonable. 
A good friend took the photo we're using this year, and the Mister and I had a lot of fun selecting our card.  Shutterfly offers a lot of choices, but, happily, you can narrow them by color, by designer, by number of photos you’d like to use, and so on.  We first considered this one, called Holly Peppermint. It’s traditional but graphic and fun, I thought.
Also in the running was this tartan card.  Of course, I love tartan (more about that later!), and I thought this one, named Vintage Plaid,  looked great with a casual black and white photo.

The Mister suggested that we choose a card in which our photo bled off the page.  How daring!  (Well, for me, at least—I do tend toward the traditional.)  We were pretty taken with this one, called simply Merry Xmas 2010.

And then we both saw this lovely number, called Bright Merry Cheer.  We imported our picture, and a couple of clicks later, we had found our holiday photo card for 2010!  One of my favorite features of Shutterfly is that you can completely compose your own message for the inside of the card.  Many designs even allow you to include additional photos, something we’re considering for the top half of our card.  Our message reads:
May your days be merry and bright
with the Light of the love of the Savior!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
image I’m so excited to have our cards ready to go, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll be nestled in with pen and stamps on Thanksgiving night.
If you send holiday cards, be sure to address a few to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD
Pitney-Bowes and the American Red Cross have once again combined efforts to send holiday cards to American service men and women and their families as well as to veterans all over the world.   Cards must be postmarked no later than December 10th, to ensure timely delivery.
Holiday Mail for Heroes
Finally, I am thrilled to tell you that Shutterfly is providing me with a coupon code for 50 free holiday cards this year!  If you are a blogger and are interested in receiving free cards from Shutterfly, click here.
And I hope your mailbox is chock full of gladsome tidings this season!


  1. oh! i LOVE christmas cards! Mary Englebreight are my favs! Will be sure to send some to the address! Thanks!

  2. I love Christmas cards and I hate that we get fewer and fewer each year. I've been told that my rather tongue in cheek, sarcastic accounting of our year is a favorite (I've actually had people send me a note telling me they've moved so they don't miss my letter, go figure!) I love all your options, expecially the tartan! I've had our card picked out for some time, just waiting until we are all dressed up in our luau garb with a fabulous Hawaiian background. I looked at shutterfly last year and loved their designs, but am going with Polka Dot Design--same place I got J3's grad announcements. They have such cute stuff and are really fast, especially if you get one of their exclusive designs.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. Now I'm starting to panic--no picture or card yet this year--better start chopping!

  4. That really is the perfect card for your beautiful family!!

  5. thank you for the beautiful card choices.
    yours is absolutely gorgeous. what a
    beautiful family you have!

    and YOU look about 25. i'm going to have
    to un-follow you now. :)

    happy thanksgiving,

  6. My cards came in the mail yesterday. I usually do one photo of the children, but with two big graduations this year I did a multi-photo card of fun activities from the year.

    :) I will have to post it.

  7. Dear Tennis Shoes--yes, please send to Holiday Cards for Heroes. I had a long conversation today with a young man just back from Afghanistan--word from home (even from strangers!) means so much!

    Hostess--no need to panic; I received our cards less than three days after ordering!

    Princess--you are so dear. Thank you!

    Lea--I promise I don't look anything close to 25! The bag boys at the grocery stopped flirting a l-o-n-g time ago!

    Lisa--I look forward to seeing your card! Two graduations, whew--rest up for a busy spring!

  8. Hello all - thanks to an "highly skilled" Olan Mills salesperson I for the first time EVAH have my holiday card ready! OK, only the girlz are in it, but had I been as organized enough there would have been the menagerie. One year I did manage to take a pic of the pony in a Santa hat with the girlz in red standing next to. Pretty cute! Love to all, dare I say "Go Gators!" ??

  9. Your card is gorgeous!!! I love what you chose. I'll have the children send a card to some heroes!Thank you

  10. Oh gosh, you are all so adorable. What a perfectly lovely card!! Thank you so much for telling me about Shutterfly. I am always looking for a tartan card to put our picture in (I take a b/w one of my son every year). Thank you also for the Holiday Cards For Heroes address. I will definitely be sending some their way...It was very heartening to hear how you love to write and receive cards. I feel the same way. Although I was starting to worry, as it seems people aren't writing as many cards as they used to these days!


  11. I'm hoping I can get back to doing Christmas cards this year- the past few years have been so hectic. And to make it easier, I think Shutterfly is the way to go! I love the card you picked.

  12. I like them all, but I love the tartan. I do not have a picture ready for this year... I was thinking of enlisting Senor Pablo.

  13. I love sending cards and think it such a beautiful tradition. I will be sending cards this year as usual and will ensure that my children also give out hand-written cards to their friends at school.

    Your picture looks so lovely!

    Best wishes,

  14. I love sending out Christmas cards. We ordered ours last week... We also have a book we keep the photos of our friends from over the years. The boys love looking at the book!


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