We have a saying here at Haulin Kuester Acres; It’s better than it was yesterday. With every change, even the smallest changes we feel like we are heading in the right direction. The father of soil conservation and a renowned soil scientist, Hugh Hammond Bennett is credited with saying, “Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.” We believe this place landed in our laps because it needed us to rescue it. It was neglected, abused, and harmed. We are just trying to make our corner of the world a little better and hopefully, that means this land will in a way take care of us. The Bible tells us that everything belongs to the Lord, even the land. We approach this place as a gift from God and the best way to honor what he has given us is to rehabilitate this place.
The cat shed
A couple of weeks ago, we started the process of tearing down what we have labeled the cat shed. We’ve dissected it to try and determine how, when, and why it was built. The back of the structure had small rooms with cages. The previous owner told us that the owner before her rescued wayward cats and housed them in the building. At one time, she claims there were up to 50 cats in the shed. The main part of the building is solid. The rafters are what look like logs. There is only a gravel floor. In some parts of the building, the floor is elevated with wood pallets. It’s an unsightly mess. See my previous blog post about the wacky outbuildings https://missykuester.com/renovation-update-outbuildings/. It will take a couple more weekends and another dumpster to completely dismantle it. So check back!
A marathon, not a sprint renovation
As I walk around I walk with my head down, looking for bits of junk. I kid you not, you can come across tools that somehow work their way out of the soil. And just to annoy me, are the bits of crunched-up plastic in the driveway and yard. I have no idea what it is or where it comes from but it irritates me. The previous owners shared how they loved living here. Some days it’s hard to see where the love was.
Happy New Year! We are excited about 2021. I wanted to update all of you on our farm. Ideally, I consider it a hobby farm as we don’t plan on using it for large farming or animals. As a family, we decided to name it Haulin Kuester Acres. It was the name all 5 of us could agree on. You offered many amazing suggestions. We felt this best reflected our homestead and would maybe help people remember the correct pronunciation of our last name. Thank you for sharing in our enthusiasm and watching along. Due to weather and other commitments we are not currently undertaking any projects until the weather improves. Also, we currently maintain two households so fiscally we are trying to be responsible.
Additionally, my talented sister, Larissa designed our logo. We wanted a logo that could stand on its own but also be identifiable and unique. She accomplished that. Next up will be to get some swag with our new logo.
In my next blog post, find out the reason you are not allowed to ask “Why?” on Haulin Kuester Acres.
I am one of those people who writes a yearly family letter every year. Somewhere tucked in a draw in someone’s house are all the Christmas letters I have written. I just know it! I hope I have evolved over the years. So, in the hopes of helping reinvigorate the art of Christmas letter writing and to help another soul looking for more creative ideas, I am sharing my past letter ideas here.
The tried and true Christmas letters
Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future. At the time, I claimed this letter was not as boring as the others they would receive. It was my first attempt at writing a Christmas letter. All these years later I realize that the letter is indeed boring. Example: Christmas past was about what happened in the past year. Christmas present was where we were working and such. While Christmas future was about our upcoming year.
Written by our dog, Fletcher. Creative at the time but everyone has done this idea. Example: “Hi, my name is Fletcher. Mom and Dad are too busy doing human stuff. So, in between naps I will try to retrace some of the past year.”
Baby Makes Three. Written from the view of our newborn baby. Again, a tried and true version of Christmas letters. I at least used some pretty winter scenery paper. Wonder how much that cost? Example: “I must turn this over to Mom. I don’t remember the first part of my life and besides, I must nap now.”
Improving on the Christmas letter writing
Movie Titles. I started to stretch my creativity a bit. I used movie titles intermingled in our end of the year recap. It’s also fun to see all these years later what movies popular. Example: Chris, the star of An Ideal Husband and his driving could best be compared to Eyes Wide Shut, without the raunchy parts.
Top Ten List. At the time we lived in Idaho so the list was ‘Top Ten Things to Do While living in Idaho.” You could easily write about your own town. Again, I was getting more creative, or so I thought. Here is an example: 1. Ski, Hunt, Fish. 2. Flying: Chris has completed his private pilot’s license requirements.
Newsletter. It’s a cute, short, and easy way to share your thoughts. I’m sure at the time it was a lot of work and I was proud of it. Example: It announced the birth of our second-born son. Also, a Sightseeing section showed a trip we had taken that year. I have done the newsletter a couple of times. One time I used fancy parchment paper, included lots of pictures, and featured my third kid that was born that year. I was probably tired and desperate and this was a quick and easy way to get a letter written while kids napped. Some of the sample headings were: What we did this year. A year of blessings. What we learned. It includes some fun facts based on events from the year.
Stepping up the Christmas letter game
Review in Pictures This one is really simple for busy parents or folks that just don’t want to write a lot. I did this one when I had two kids, lived in a foreign country, and my husband was deployed. I included nothing but pictures along with a short summary. It starts off: We realize how busy we all are this time of year, so here we have put our past year in pictures.
Kids Answer Questions. I probably was desperate when I asked my kids questions for this newsletter. My kids’ answers are hilarious. I then give a recap and provided a picture of us. Example: The question was ‘Do you like your new house?’ Trevette’s response was “Yes, I like that it has an island in the kitchen.” Guthrie’s responded with “Time to eat!” Again, this is a simple Christmas letter if you have smaller kids.
All I ever learned I learned from Country music. The year was 2008. I guess I liked Country Music because the letter is based on the titles of country music songs. I use song titles to share our monumental events. You could easily pick your favorite genre and do the titles of popular songs from the year. One example is ‘Fall by Clay Walker’, as it shared the time that our kid fell out of a second-story window.
A Fairy Tale Christmas Letter. I decided to use my title of Princess to write our annual letter. The letter used royal titles and a storyline. You could use any story to write your letter. How about a superhero letter or from your favorite tv show. Example: Upon arriving in their new village they were given new responsibilities. The Prince was tasked with watching the skies. (Chris was an air traffic controller and airfield manager at the time.)
The best and worst of 2012. I shared things such as The best family vacation, Favorite month, Happiest Homecoming (because Magnum was deployed yet again), and Best News of the year….that we were moving to Belgium.
Thinking outside the box for Christmas letters
Facebook Status Update Christmas. I remember I was new to Facebook. I used status updates for the letter and then explained each event. The descriptions were short and to the point. Again Magnum was deployed so I was probably pulling my hair out. Example: Received my Princess Crown which told about the time my friend Lisa took pity on me and threw me a princess-themed party.
Bumper Sticker Letter. For this idea, I am sure it came to me as I stood at my freezer wondering what I was going to make for dinner. Each event starts off with a bumper sticker I have on my freezer. Each side is covered in bumper stickers so there is a lot of material to work with. One such sticker read, Yes, this is my truck and no, I won’t help you move. Then I wrote about how my husband bought a new truck.
A Review told with memes. I was pretty proud of this one. It was at the height of the memes. I used the memes to set up poignant events that had happened throughout the year. For example, I used a meme that said “We’ve decided moving is the easiest way to clean your house” and then I shared about our move to Belgium.
Epic Christmas letter ideas that will surely impress your family and friends
Season in Review: Football theme: This was the first year I did a photo card. In our picture, we are football players and referees. The theme of the letter is also football and breaks our year up into Quarters. I also used football verbiage and jargon. Example: Final Score: Kuesters crushed the Year 2014.
Comical Year. I really kicked it up a notch. This time, I made ourselves into comic characters and created a comic strip using a free online comic strip maker. storyboardthat.com It was visually pleasing and easy to read for sure. Example: One picture was me sitting in a hospital bed because I had ankle surgery at the beginning of the year.
Quotable Christmas. I have a book of zany things my kids say so I resorted to those quotes for a Christmas letter. Example: “The Beastie Boys fought and possibly died for my right to party” a quote by Trevette. I used it to share news about his senior year and graduation.
Random Facts. For this letter, I invoked the help of my family. They always have these random facts. I asked them to share facts based on what I was writing. One such great example: We moved from Maryland to Washington so one of the facts was “It was 2, 837, 015 smoots from there to here.”
This year’s letter is canceled. Even though it was the 2019 letter, it was probably best suited for the following year. I laid out all the reasons we couldn’t write a letter. For example, I thought I would have some time in August between trips to…..and so forth.” By the end of the letter, I had given all the reasons we couldn’t write a letter.
BINGO! This year’s Christmas letter idea
I’ve been writing these letters for Twenty Five years. It is the Silver Anniversary Edition of Christmas letters. A couple of years I repurposed ideas. This year it is…Bingo Christmas. I used a Bingo card generator at http://spark.adobe.com. Lucky for me 2020 gave me a lot to work with. I marked off the things we actually got to do. Consequently, there were things we didn’t get to do and I left those events unmarked.
Now you try it
These are my most epic Christmas letter ideas that are sure to not bore the recipients. Each year I try to outdo myself from the year before. I hope this inspires you to write a better Christmas letter that shares your yearly events in an entertaining and interesting way. Good Luck!