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You Belong Here

Photos by the wonderful Cassidy Brooke Photography

(taken at 12 days old)

Words by M.H. Clark from my favorite book You Belong Here

(which I cannot get through without crying)

: )

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The stars belong in the deep night sky

and the moon belongs there too, 

and the winds belong in each place they blow by

and I belong here with you.

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The whales and the fishes belong in the sea

and the waves belong by the shore

and the dune’s where the grasses belong to be

because grasses are what dunes are for.

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And the trees belong in the wild wood

and the deer belong in their shade,

and the birds belong so safe and good

and warm in the nests that they’ve made.

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And you belong where you love to be, 

and after each day is through,

you will always belong right next to me 

and I’ll belong next to you.

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The frogs and the lilies belong in the lake,

where the water is silver and clear,

and the turtles belong in the homes that they make

in the sand where the water is near.

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And the otters belong by the banks of the stream

and the cattails belong there too,

and the carp belong where the water runs green

and the shadows all run blue.

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And you belong right here, where you’re home,

and where I hold you close.

Of all the wonders I’ve ever known,

you’re the one I love the most.

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The hares belong in the desert air

where the rocks are red and gold,

and those rocks belong with the comets out there,

which flash bright when the night turns cold.

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The foxes belong in the high canyon hills

and the sage there belongs in the sun,

and the lizards belong in the light, sitting still,

until they are ready to run.

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The crickets belong in the old stone wall

and the bees belong in the clover,

just as winter belongs in its place after fall,

before the new year starts over.

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And you are a dream that the world once dreamt 

and now you are part of its song,

That’s why you are here, in the place where you’re meant,

for this is right where you belong.

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The pines belong on the mountainsides,

tucked under their blankets of snow,

and the bears belong in the caves where they hide

whenever the storm starts to blow.

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Some creatures were made for the land, or the air,

and others were made for the sea;

each creature is perfectly home right there

in the place it belongs to be.

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And no matter what places you travel to,

what wonders you choose to see,

I will always belong right here with you,

and you’ll always belong with me.

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Kinkade Christmas 2013

KinkadeChristmas-1 We had such a fantastic week back in my hometown over Christmas.  It was one of those trips that I knew was going to be special, and it was, in a way that I fear won’t be duplicated for quite some time.  It helped that it was the first Christmas Jon and I had been in Ada since before we got married, which felt like forever ago!  All of the stars seemed to align and everyone was able to get away from their responsibilities to spend the week together.  Jon and I didn’t feel torn in a bunch of different directions, my brothers were all able to take time off from work to spend time there, and my Grandpa Pete flew home for his first Minnesota Christmas in 13 years!  We made a lot of great memories and it will go down as one of my favorite Christmases ever.

My mom always does such an incredible job decorating her house for the holidays so I thought I’d share some photos of her skills that she decided not to pass down to me.  : )

Mashup4 KinkadeChristmas-8 Her Christmas trees are consistently some of the most beautiful I see every year.  It makes my pathetic tree look like a 5 year old decorated it.  KinkadeChristmas-20Mashup3Mashup1

She’s amassed a pretty cool collection of decor over the years and I always look forward to seeing how she puts it all together.  She doesn’t just decorate the main areas of the house either, she makes sure every bedroom has their own little holiday touches as well.  She turns the house into a warm and inviting place that you never want to leave…and we barely did!  Partly because of the freezing temperatures, but mostly because it’s so enjoyable to be there.

KinkadeChristmas-7 KinkadeChristmas-15 KinkadeChristmas-24KinkadeChristmas-17 KinkadeChristmas-18 KinkadeChristmas-19 When she can’t buy the kind of centerpiece she wants, WORRY NOT!  She’ll craft it out of ice, throw it on a pizza pan and turn it into a glowing work or art.  What the hell.  I am SO not good at this stuff.Masup5 KinkadeChristmas-3 KinkadeChristmas-5 KinkadeChristmas-6KinkadeChristmas-31Mashup6 KinkadeChristmas-29My brother Tyler has turned into a pretty skilled chef and he was kind enough to give my Mom and Dad a bit of a break from feeding everyone all week.  He made us some delicious pasta Christmas Eve while we all waited in angst for Grandpa Pete to arrive in the tundra.
KinkadeChristmas-26KinkadeChristmas-16Just to prove how much more skilled my mother is at creative things, I made that hideous bloody ‘A’ in Grampa (spelled that way on purpose), after which she kindly fired me, and then finished the rest by herself.  KinkadeChristmas-27 KinkadeChristmas-28 Even the pups were quietly and patiently awaiting his arrival.KinkadeChristmas-32 KinkadeChristmas-33 IMG_5384 Livi was texting Jon, Chad and Greyson wondering why they were taking so long to deliver her favorite houseguest.  Before we knew it, the headlights rolled in the driveway and out popped a frozen Grandpa.  Forgive the terrible iPhone photos but I had to act quickly to capture the moment!  IMG_5388 IMG_5391Once he had arrived, everyone was home and all felt right in the world.  KinkadeChristmas-35 KinkadeChristmas-36 Mashup7KinkadeChristmas-37 To me, there is nothing better in the entire world than when the Kinkade house is filled with the commotion of food being prepared, people arriving, and drinks being shared.  It’s the greatest.KinkadeChristmas-38KinkadeChristmas-41 KinkadeChristmas-43 KinkadeChristmas-40 We carried on our tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve.  Our entire lives it’s been new pajamas to wear to bed and on Christmas morning, but this year my mom went rogue and got us deliciously comfy blankets instead.

Genius.  KinkadeChristmas-44 KinkadeChristmas-45 Walking around that house the rest of the week you could, at any given moment, find at least one of us curled up somewhere with those blankets.  They were a hit.
KinkadeChristmas-50 KinkadeChristmas-49KinkadeChristmas-46 KinkadeChristmas-47 KinkadeChristmas-48Before too long, everyone shipped off to bed anxiously awaiting what came next…Christmas morning!!KinkadeChristmas-60 KinkadeChristmas-53 KinkadeChristmas-59I have to say, Christmas is always better when there’s a little person involved.  Livi makes it all even more fun.
KinkadeChristmas-51 KinkadeChristmas-54 KinkadeChristmas-55Mashup10 KinkadeChristmas-67 Grandpa Pete has a history of dolling out questionable gifts, but he hit the nail on the head for Jon this year.  ; )  Take a close look at that t-shirt and consider recent laws passed in Colorado.  KinkadeChristmas-66 KinkadeChristmas-71 Mashup8KinkadeChristmas-56 KinkadeChristmas-52 KinkadeChristmas-68Mashups9 Mashup9KinkadeChristmas-70 KinkadeChristmas-74 All the boys in their Vikings gear.  At least they feel the pain of being Vikes fans as a family.  KinkadeChristmas-75 KinkadeChristmas-76 So, I’d like to pause here and point out my Grandpa’s shirt.  When going through these photos I realized that we MAY be a crazy cat family.  They appear everywhere.  I think we can see who’s to blame here…KinkadeChristmas-69KinkadeChristmas-84KinkadeChristmas-78 KinkadeChristmas-79Typical picture taking shenanigans out of those two.  I believe that move is to ward off the infamous ‘double chin photo’.
KinkadeChristmas-80 KinkadeChristmas-83KinkadeChristmas-93 KinkadeChristmas-85 KinkadeChristmas-86 KinkadeChristmas-87 KinkadeChristmas-88 KinkadeChristmas-89 KinkadeChristmas-90 Later in the afternoon, once our extended family arrived, we all gathered to watch Grandpa Pete open his ‘big present’.  It was a series of small hints leading him to a gift certificate which gifted him with his life long dream of driving a steam engine train.  Do you drive a train?  Captain a train?  Direct a train?  I don’t know.  He gets to drive a train.  In Nevada.  We all cried.  Well, all the girls did.  He tried to be stoic and it was a very cool moment.Mashup11 Mashup12 Mashup13KinkadeChristmas-99 KinkadeChristmas-98 KinkadeChristmas-100 This is basically what the week looked like.  Everyone eating.  Constant and relentless eating.  It was blissful.  : )KinkadeChristmas-102 KinkadeChristmas-101 KinkadeChristmas-103 KinkadeChristmas-104KinkadeChristmas-105 Greyson had to leave Christmas night for stupid work, so he wanted to get a few photos with Livi first.  As usual, she didn’t want to smile.  Thank goodness my mom was there for the assist.  KinkadeChristmas-107 KinkadeChristmas-108It worked!
Mashup14 KinkadeChristmas-106 KinkadeChristmas-111 KinkadeChristmas-112 KinkadeChristmas-113We spent many nights in the family room playing any number of games.  Once or twice we decided to brave the elements and head ‘up town’ to the Ada bars for some fun.  Fun it was.  Every minute.IMG_5399 IMG_5408 IMG_5413IMG_5401 IMG_5486 IMG_5455 IMG_5489 IMG_5485 IMG_5430 IMG_5447Sometimes we use things like blogs and social media to try and present our lives more perfect than they really are.  I’m guilty, you’re guilty, we all are.  Who wants to see the nitty gritty reality all the time?  Nobody does.  I have to be honest and say that this trip wasn’t perfect.  But if this post makes it seem like it was, that’s because it was as close as it’s ever gotten.  Looking back at this post makes me smile the whole way through, but at the same time gives me a tightness in my heart because I know how rare weeks like that can be.
IMG_5448I just feel damn lucky that I get to share my life with all these people…cat crazy as they are.  I’m not sure Morely shares my sentiment.  : )  Mashup15 KinkadeChristmas-124 KinkadeChristmas-125 KinkadeChristmas-126

Pine to Palm

It’s my party and I’ll blog when I want to.

Hello everyone.  Is the holiday season crazy or WHAT?!?  I even started early this year!  I don’t know what happens.  Whew.  I think I’m done though.  I mailed Christmas cards and shipped my last bundle of packages today, baked cookies and finished shopping yesterday and have now moved on to cleaning our place before we leave for 8 days.

My mom seems to blame some mythical ‘missing week’ between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.  I feel like it’s the same every year.  There’s always one more gift to get, one more errand to run, one more christmas party to attend…blah blah blah.  Regardless of the mayhem lately, I’m very excited to be going back to Ada for Christmas as we’ve missed the last two.  I know everybody says this about their childhood home, but Christmas is magical at my house.  Especially since we still have a little Livi around.  I credit my parents for having a beautiful snow covered cozy yard, a beautifully decorated cozy house, and deliciously prepared cozy meals.

Also because my family is awesome.  Except for that Livi.  She’s a real jerk.  : )

The biggest downside (maybe the only one) about going back to MN for Christmas is the flipping weather.  More so than ever, Jon and I have realized what huge wimps we are about the cold.  It seems to get worse every year.   I feel that we are in NO WAY prepared for what we’ll be encountering when we arrive in the tundra.  Here is some perspective on why we have such wimpy attitudes.  I was wearing a light long sleeve t-shirt and jeans two days ago and actually rolled down my window for some air because it was so warm out.  It creeped right up on 70 degrees.  Beautiful December day in Denver.  People were wearing skirts!

Do you know how cold it’s been in Ada!!???  Barely creeping up on ZERO degrees. Most days it’s so cold that the thermometers just give up.  Last night the high was 0 degrees and the low was -1.  It’s like make believe of the worst kind.  Today Jon and I played hooky and snuck up to Keystone for our first ski day of the year.  I was bundled head to toe in my usual layered masterpiece and at one point declared I was ‘a bit chilly’.  He should have slapped me because it was around 40 degrees and sunny.  I’m shivering just thinking about getting off the plane in Fargo.

Back to the blogging.

I think that due to all this talk about winter, and the fact that I don’t declare it being winter in Denver until I’m on a ski slope (which happened today) I will welcome in my official first day of winter with my official last post about summer.  Things have gotten very official around Midwest Mountainess lately.

This should warm my thoughts up nicely.
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Every year the same question hangs on the lips of the entire world:

“When will Ali and Jon be at the cabin this summer?”

Every year the same answer comes from our mouths.

“We have no idea.”

We end up picking and choosing different dates due to work schedules, deals closing, weddings happening, babies being born, etc.

Somehow those dates almost never fall on Jon’s favorite week of them all…

…Pine to Palm week.  (golf claps)

It comes and it goes and he’s usually in Denver moping that he didn’t get to play AGAIN THIS YEAR!  THE INJUSTICE!

Well…things changed this past summer and we made it happen.  It was a highlight of our entire year and we had such a blast.

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Gotta admit, I love a man in golf gear.
2013Lake-65As you can see it’s a fairly relaxed tournament.  : )  Which is also why it’s SO AWESOME!2013Lake-83 2013Lake-61Don’t let anyone holding a styrofoam cup fool you…it’s full of a bloody mary.  Every time.  2013Lake-58 2013Lake-63 2013Lake-76 Part of what made the week so special is that all the ‘cabin boys’ made it up there as well to watch the golfers play.  Even Max made it back from Dubai.   Jon had never gotten to play with his cousin Tyler and they organized it so that the first day they all were in the same flight.2013Lake-80 2013Lake-842013Lake-79 2013Lake-772013Lake-62 2013Lake-72 2013Lake-70 2013Lake-86 2013Lake-742013Lake-73 2013Lake-82Cuties.  2013Lake-68 The golfers may not have won any hardware for the mantle at the cabin, but the rest of us won big time getting to sip on Bloody Mary’s and bask in the Minnesota sunshine with our favorites.2013Lake-75 2013Lake-78All in all and as usual, it was a fabulous week spent with even more fabulous people.  Jon and I always leave weeks at the cabin with such warm fuzzies that we start to contemplate maybe moving back to Minnesota.  That is until it snows in September, hits -50 with windchill in November and remains dark from then on until May.

Happy Holidays!  Hope you’re warm wherever you are.  Paris posts coming soon.  : )

Farewell Summer.

Alright it’s official.

I’m letting go and admitting to myself that summer is over.

I know you Minnesota people think I’m crazy, that summer has been over for a long time, but here in Denver we’ve still been getting sunny and near 70 degree weather (which feels much warmer).

I’ll start looking at homes for sale in Denver for all of you immediately.

Anyway, summer is over.

I’m not happy about it.  But, I figure that once our ski’s get tuned up, a new pair of Uggs are purchased, and I start sleeping in sweats every night that it’s time to accept defeat.

It usually takes me a few weeks to turn the corner and get excited for another beautiful Colorado winter and ski season, but this year it happened much quicker.  I can’t wait!  I made major skill progress last season and am hopeful that I didn’t lose it all over the summer.

Something else that’s aiding in my ‘summer is over sadness’ is that the week of Thanksgiving  Jon and I will be visiting Paris!  He surprised me with the plane tickets when I got back from Erie, and although he only gave us two weeks to plan, we feel ready and are so flipping excited!!

I decided that in ONE last attempt to hang onto those summer rays I would post the photos of our big lake trip in August.  We were lucky again this year to get to Christian’s cabin as well as Jon’s family cabin.  Looking at these photos reminds me once again that MN in the summer is the best place on earth.

2013Lake-3 2013Lake-7 It’s always so fun to see all the boys back together again.2013Lake-2 2013Lake-1 2013Lake-6 2013Lake-4Yes, the watermelon cups were back and Anna loved them!2013Lake-5This guy became a first time papa just weeks after this photo was taken.  Look at him here with his beer and his cluelessness.  : ) 2013Lake-9 2013Lake-10 2013Lake-8 2013Lake-13 2013Lake-11 These two.  : )2013Lake-122013Lake-16 Yeah.  All that and she’s got a rock hard body.  HATE her.  2013Lake-14 2013Lake-17 THESE two announced they were expecting baby number two.  BABIES!  EVERYWHERE!2013Lake-15As predicted, we had a great weekend with friends only to head into an epic week with family.

There was a lot of horsin’ around.

2013Lake-19 2013Lake-21 Even better, the stars aligned and we got to have Max back from Dubai for the week.  I can’t even believe the luck.  It was so great.2013Lake-22 2013Lake-23 2013Lake-25 2013Lake-26 2013Lake-272013Lake-18 My ‘crew’ at the cabin.  I’m a lucky girl.2013Lake-28 2013Lake-29 2013Lake-32 2013Lake-30 2013Lake-342013Lake-37 PelicanLake-4 PelicanLake-6 PelicanLake-9 Miss Remi stole my heart.  Don’t look into her eyes for too long or you’ll be hooked too.PelicanLake-122013Lake-38 2013Lake-39 Because it’s the best lake.  Duh.2013Lake-35 2013Lake-36All the random alcohol bottles hidden in the depths of the cabinets along with their name assignments for finishing.  2013Lake-41 2013Lake-44 2013Lake-46 2013Lake-42 2013Lake-452013Lake-47 2013Lake-562013Lake-49While the rest of us ‘did work’ on the 25 or so random 1/4 full bottles of alcohol stuffed in random cupboards, these two did actual work.  I think those are their thinking caps.
2013Lake-87 2013Lake-89 Ever seen somebody shotgun a lim-a-rita?2013Lake-90 2013Lake-91 Now you have.  And he was never the same.2013Lake-92 Photos like this make my heart so happy.  Love those boys.2013Lake-93PelicanLake-2We even squeezed in an afternoon with the crazy busy Jennie Hendrickson!  It was such a great trip home, one for the record books if you ask me.  Already looking forward to next summer.  Too soon?  : )

Family Dinner

After spending nearly a month in Minnesota, we decided that couldn’t possibly be enough time and after receiving the news that baby Ellery had arrived early, we booked a last minute Labor Day trip back to meet her.

It’s funny how a planned trip and a spontaneous trip feel so much different.  When we plan a trip, I spend the entire month or two before in an excited planning mode, anxious to make the most of every moment we’re home.  I always overbook and end up feeling tugged in a million directions.

The spontaneous Labor Day trip felt indulgent and without any pressure.  No plans were made and it just worked out perfectly that my Grandpa was back from Arizona and everyone was able to gather at my parents house for a family dinner.
1231519_10151548001221991_2077706625_nThere’s just no place like home.

18 Kinkade’s, Fettings and Hendrickson’s wined and dined in the front yard on a beautiful late summer night.  My dad grilled up loads of salmon and steak, while my mom prepared corn and potato salad.  Perfect outdoor meal if you ask me.

Family-15Family-17Family-14 It may seem like we get back to Minnesota quite a bit, and we do, but nights like this are rare.  It had been well over a year since my entire immediate family (all brothers and sisters at the same time) were together at home.  I also hadn’t seen several of my cousins or my Aunt and Uncle since our wedding nearly two years ago.  Family-16 Family-1Family-2Being that everyone was home, I knew photos were unavoidable.  : )

My well trained and handsome husband posing for me while I got the light right for our group photos.  I’m only posting a few because we all want to use the results as Holiday cards.
Family-10Family-7 We are short one cousin, but otherwise here is Grandpa Pete with all his grandkids!  The cousin missing is another boy…can you tell why I waited so long for Livi?  I was totally outnumbered!Family-18Nights like this are what tug so hard at my heartstrings when I’m back in Denver.  I just have to remind myself that it wouldn’t always be like this, and that if we book enough trips home, the stars usually align to make it happen.

It was a good night.

Small Town Scenes

There’s just something about Minnesota.

For me anyway.

I can never quite pinpoint it either, but I love the landscape.  From the dense tree filled Minneapolis – St. Paul residential areas, to the winding, rolling blues and greens of the lakes, there’s just something special about it.  It calms me.  It makes me feel like myself.  I can’t explain it.

Although maybe those places, the lakes and the city, make sense to people.  The Twin Cites are obviously beautiful (in the summer at least) and the lakes…what’s not to love?  I think where I truly stump people is when I talk about my love of where I grew up.  Specifically the roads branching off to the East and South of my hometown.

It doesn’t get any flatter.  It doesn’t get much more desolate.  But I also don’t think it gets much more beautiful.

Anytime I’m in my car driving those roads I dream about trying to capture what it is about the landscape that pulls me in.  I didn’t even try during my last trip home (don’t have the right equipment…yet) but I did stop here and there to snap some small town shots.

I didn’t make it to Ada because my bargaining tools ran out with my little sister.

Next time.

 

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Call Me Martha.

In the over 28 years she has parented me, my mother has “generously” passed down a few of her traits for me to adopt as my own.  These include things like a biting wit, an eagerness to people please, and perfectionist tendencies or ‘an all or nothing’ like attitude.

What she chose to keep all to herself were things like her ability in the kitchen, her bright green thumb, and most importantly…her incredible creativity.

I’ve long come to accept the fact that I DID NOT inherit my mothers aptitude for making and creating things.  I realize fully that I am not a ‘do it yourself’ creative type and when it comes to crafts it needs to basically be dummy proof before I’ll even think about attempting it.  Lucky for me I found such a craft on Pinterest and decided to be brave and set out on an adventure to the foreign lands of Michael’s craft store.

The craft that I chose I found on the Martha Steward Pinterest board.  Usually I avoid all things Martha because her projects always seems to involve investing a small fortune in obscure craft tools and ‘craft necessities’ to make them look like her staff she does.  It’s a bunch of bullshit if you ask me.  It might be brilliantly marketed bullshit that has made her filthy rich, but bullshit nonetheless.

Anyway, this little project appeared different.  This one appeared dummy proof AND pretty reasonable.  So I ventured out to the suburbs and the local Michaels craft superstore extravaganza to gather my supplies.

They include:

-Spray Paint (your choice of color, but the metallic is much prettier than matte finish)

-Matching Glitter (if you choose, which let’s face it, one always should choose glitter)

-A Paintbrush

-Glue (a crafting necessity apparently)

-Pumpkins

Yep.  That’s right.  This is a Halloween craft.  The tackiest of all crafty holidays besides every other tacky crafty holiday.

Except this craft is not only dummy proof but sort of elegant and pretty too.

Now…this involves spray paint so you’re going to want to secure a spacious area with good ventilation.  I recommend the great outdoors.

Arm yourself with rubber gloves because spray paint DOES NOT simply wash off your hands. I know this because of trial and error.  And because I had to get my rings professionally cleaned after one pumpkin attempt.

I told you I wasn’t a crafter.

Now here comes the only part tricky part.  You spray paint the pumpkins.

All the way around, every visible surface, even the stem, then let them dry.

I know…it’s a lot to ask…but don’t give up now though because we’re almost done!

After you’ve finished the grueling task of spray painting tiny pumpkins, you’re going to take your paintbrush and with the touch that only Martha could teach you, apply a layer of glue to several of the pumpkins.  Now you will lightly dust the glue coated pumpkins with an ethereal amount of delicate glitter.

You just glitter the pumpkins…ok?  This isn’t rocket science.  Although from the outside looking in my process was probably NOT the one of least resistance.  I did use a makeup brush after all.

TADA!

They’re gorgeous.  Especially when they get hit by a little candlelight.

I chose to only glitter 2 of the 8 pumpkins I painted.  A little glitter goes a long way.  My mom didn’t gift me her creative crafting skill, but at least she taught me that much.

The remainder I kept only painted with two coats of spray paint.  They really are super easy to make and quite pretty.  I’ve got them staggered throughout the house and they make it ‘holiday festive’ without having orange everywhere.

This concludes my craft lesson for the year.  I hope you all learned something new here, even if it’s that I’m pretty creatively challenged.

In spirit of the season, here are some additional holiday decor views from around our house.  Happy Halloween!!