Saturday, December 31, 2011

Advent Calendar {a little late}

I realize it is now New Year's Eve. Christmas is over. But I really meant to post this. You know, before the whole fam came down with the flu (ugh) and ear infections (double ugh). So for the sake of my blogging self-esteem, just go with it. Please :)

As you search out those after Christmas deals (if there are any left...), be sure to think about projects to work on for next Christmas. I bought this advent calendar five years ago from Starbucks. Can you believe it?  It was just after Christmas and only cost me a few bucks. It's durable enough to last our family a long time. We have used it every year. In the past I've filled it with candy, other times with notes and this year I did a combination of candy and trinkets for Ellie.

Did you notice that the boxes are reversible? 
By Christmas, all the images are revealed to form a picture.

I've realized using an advent calendar is a great way to practice numbers with a toddler! Each morning Ellie asked to "pick a box." I would tell her the date and help her find it. She can only count to ten but I think she recognizes some larger numbers even though she hasn't been taught them directly. Whenever she had trouble finding a number I would help her by saying, "Find the nineteen (or whatever day we were on). It is a one and a nine."

I love how all my crafty bloggy friends made amazing advent calendars. There is some major talent out there. I also love that I didn't have to because Starbucks sold this for cheaper than I could have made one.

Hope everyone has a great New Year's eve!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year in Review 2011

This year has been a whirlwind! I'm so thankful for the many blessings we've received including our sweet addition Hannah Rose, our new home and, of course, all my new bloggy friends :) I've learned a ton about blogging in the past eight months - mainly all trial and error! I hope to improve in the coming year, but you know, we are all a work in progress. Most importantly I hope to become more like the description in Titus 2:3-5.

 Here are some snippets of my top posts for my year in review:

Homemade laundry soap. I love this stuff! This is the supply I prepared before Hannah Rose was born.

Putting together a super hero fort kit was a lot of fun:

And here is the girl version - a princess fort kit :)

DIY glass pebble necklace using letters from a magazine:

Easy to make felt Christmas tree:

These little snow globes were my absolute favorite Christmas decoration, hands down. I just love the simplicity of it. Cost me a total of $1 for the two of them! 

Ellie still wears her Rapunzel wig:

This is one of my personal favorites. Lamp makeover:

Can you tell I was really into this blue color this year?! Key art and vase:

This garland was oh-so-easy to make and looked lovely during the fall months. 

 Thank you all for your encouragement in this personal endeavor. I love all your sweet comments and I look forward to seeing what the year to come will bring.

Linking up with...


It's Overflowing
Oopsey Daisy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Discount Deals

Okay y'all. I feel bad that I haven't shared this sooner. Are you aware of all the discount deals on the internet? There are two boutique dealers that I purchase from regularly and I really have been meaning to share them with my bloggy friends! I've not been solicited to share these deals but I have been very happy with my purchases over the last several months. I check these deals daily and I've purchased several items from both companies. They offer deals on unique handmade and/or specialty items often at half price and sometimes up to 70% off! You can sign up to receive email deals or you can "like" their Facebook pages and follow the deals there. I have followed other daily deals but these two boutiques are the only I have purchased from and they are much more reasonably priced.

Here are just a few deals that I have purchased:

Shabby Burlap Stockings from GroopDealz.  $8 each
This is probably my favorite of all the deals. I have one of the ruffle stockings and one with "noel" stamped on muslin.

Here they are hung in my entryway.

Set of 6 chalkboard place settings from GroopDealz. $10 set
I've already used these for the holidays.


Painted filigree locket necklace from Very Jane. $7.50

Belle dress-up apron from Very Jane. $7.50
Ellie loves playing dress-up and these are just darling!

When I find deals I want to purchase, I consider if I could make them myself and, if so, could I make them for less than these prices. If not, I place an order. There is no cost to becoming a member of these sites. You can access Very Jane here. And GroopDealz here. ***Just like any member of GroopDealz, if you use my referral link, I receive $5 off my next order. I would love for you to use my link but most importantly I just want to share these great deals with y'all! I actually felt bad that I haven't shared them sooner. Hope you enjoy and please share any other discount deals you would recommend!

Monday, December 26, 2011

My favorite things...

We had such a lovely holiday with our sweet girls. Unfortunately, we were (and still are) sick on Christmas. Of course that didn't stop us from opening all of our presents :) Here are some of my favorite gifts this year.

The Hallmark snowman night light. I kid you not - I have wanted this little guy for five years and searched high and low. He has always been out of stock but this year I got him. Better yet, the hubby got him for 50% off!

 Lady Grey tea. For whatever reason, this flavor is not sold around here in any of the stores. A friend of mine enjoys it too and has her daughters pick it up for her before they come visit. It is my absolute favorite tea. Thanks Mom!
 Bakers twine is my new addiction. I especially love this spool of cotton candy pink that the hubby ordered for me.
What was your favorite gift?

Farewell Christmas Tree

As we pack up all the Christmas decor, I thought I would snap some photos of these vintage bulbs. Some were my dad's when he was a child. Others I picked up at a thrift shop.

I'm glad I saved all my egg cartons this year. They are just the perfect size for storing all these vintage lovelies.

Linking up with...
It's Overflowing

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas Express

Okay I have to share our new favorite Christmas tradition. I was checking out the latest pins on Pinterest when I found this from Confessions of a Homeschooler:

She is brilliant. She created these awesome free printable tickets. The ones I printed say "Christmas Express" since we don't have a minivan ;) Go to her website and read about her family's tradition and the ideas she has to share. 

On the eve of Christmas Eve (yes we celebrate that!) I let Ellie unwrap a present. It was The Polar Express which I actually rented from the library. (We'll be returning it next week, no worries.) We all got in our comfys a.k.a. pajamas and read the book together.

Next, I sent Chase and Ellie to her room.While they were reading books, I secretly popped some popcorn and made rich homemade hot cocoa. I used individual buckets for the popcorn and put the cocoa in our travel cups. Once I had everything in the car, I had everyone check their beds and lo and behold they found their tickets! Just like Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler, I punched the tickets and loaded us up. I drove through the neighborhood lights playing Christmas music. It was such a fun and spontaneous activity....well not for me but for the rest of the family :) We are going to continue this tradition for many more years. The hubby even suggested keeping the same tickets and just punching them again each year. I hope you'll go check out Erica's website and get the free printable. She also has great ideas for teaching a range of ages and shares the curriculum she uses with her kids. You'll also find a wide range of educational printables. Have fun and start planning some traditions for next year. 

The Meaning Of Christmas

Merry Christmas eve to all you lovely bloggy friends! I absolutely love the holidays and all the traditions that accompany them. Having special family time and building memories with our children is wonderful. This time of year it is common to see so many different attitudes about Christmas. This has really been on mind so I prayerfully decided to share my thoughts with you.

Christmas, like Thanksgiving, Father's Day and birthday celebrations, is a day that we devote to family time. We create special traditions in hopes of making memories and passing them along to our children. Christmas is no different in that aspect. However, it is also a holiday with great religious significance, especially in the United States. Many families celebrate the birth of Christ and may even celebrate the day as Jesus' birthday. I'm sure most everyone realizes Christmas is not the actual birthday of Jesus. No where in the Bible are we told the precise day that He was born, nor are we commanded to celebrate Christmas. In fact, it is believed that Christmas began as a pagan holiday full of indulgent sin. Regardless of its origin, isn't it wonderful to see so many focus on our Lord if only this one time a year?

 Certainly we should teach our children about Jesus all year long and remember the greatest gift we have been given. I'm thankful for the teachable moments this time of year provides. I enjoy seeing the  many nativity scenes on display this time of year and use them to recount the birth of Jesus with my two year old daughter. However, since there is no command to celebrate Christ's birth, no one should be condemned for choosing not to celebrate Christmas or associate it with the birth of Christ. I think the most important thing is to remember the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it." (New American Standard)
There are some who may be offended by the Christian holiday because of its pagan origin. Others may be offended if we do not take time to think of blessings we have in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).  In all that we do, may be always be mindful of our ability to influence souls, teach them and encourage them to dwell on the blessings we have in Christ. The birth of Christ is just the beginning of a beautiful story that we can share. Let us continue to share the life of Jesus and the ultimate gift we can have through clothing ourselves in Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). I promise it will be better than anything we unwrap under the Christmas tree ;-)  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hats for every occasion

I've been trying to prepare some sort of craft or activity to go along with the books and movies Ellie has been watching lately. Do you remember the rapunzel wig we made? She still enjoys wearing her "rapunzel hair" when she watches Tangled.

After reading One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by Barbara Hennessy and learning about the Wampanoag Native Americans, we made this hat to wear on Thanksgiving.

A few weeks ago after watching Rudolph, I whipped up a reindeer hat for Ellie. I forgot to take a picture of it but it was similar to this one I pinned on Pinterest.

Source: via Kristen on Pinterest

Then last week we watched Aladdin. When we got to the part where Genie turns Abu (the monkey) into an elephant, Ellie looked at me and said "Mommy, make me an elephant hat please!" Before I had a chance to respond, she went to find my craft supplies. After looking around she pensively put a finger to her mouth and said "Hmm...let's see...." This was a proud mommy moment for me.
Two reasons:
1. Ellie didn't ask me to buy  her an elephant hat but, rather, make one.
2. She is learning that if we can imagine it, we can make it. It makes my heart happy how confident she is that I can make whatever she dreams up. is the elephant hat. I was a little unsure how to go about this craft. I actually checked Pinterest but I couldn't find any elephant hat crafts. It is nothing fancy and I threw this together in less than 5 minutes. I used a gray foam paper sheet that I happened to have in my craft box. First I cut two strips and stapled them together to fit the width of her head. Then I drew a trunk and two ears, cut them out and stapled them to the hat. I can't draw. Like at all. But I have a daughter that believes in me and she loved her hat so that is all that matters :)

As I write this, Ellie asked me to make her some feather wings. Hmmm...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Card Keepsake

Don't you love getting Christmas cards in the mail? What do you do with your cards after the holidays? I sometimes re-use the cards for gift tags or projects for next year's Christmas. Up until last year, I was just throwing all the pictures in a photo box - one with all my pictures from pre-digital camera times. Remember when we developed film and had hard copies of all the pictures we took (like it or not!).

Thankfully, a dear friend of mine shared her Christmas card book with me. Each year she adds the photo Christmas cards to her book categorized by family. She has been keeping her book for many, many years and it was very neat to look back through the years of each family.

For my keepsake, I just put page protectors in a three ring binder. I put one family in each sleeve and just add to it each year. On the outside pocket, I slipped in this free printable from Tattered and Inked. Now it is cute enough to set out on the coffee table or slide under the tree.

Linking up with....

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

I'm joining the Christmas Tree Linky Party over at Five Days...5 Ways. are a couple of my trees and some other odds and ends.

I'll start with one of my favorites. My feather tree. I made the tree and collected the Old World ornaments when I was child.

Do you have a pickle ornament on your tree?

My big tree is turquoise and gold. I'm thinking next year I'll do turquoise and white with bird and burlap ornaments. 

Not a tree, I know, but I had to share my paper village I'm working on. I've got the barn, a house and the general store finished. There are probably ten more but we'll save those for next year.

I also have this Merry Christmas banner that came with the paper village. You know I only paid $4 for all of it?

Ribbon tied in a bow + berry sprig = Christmas wreath!

We have a family tree and the girls have a pink tree but I haven't gotten around to taking pictures of them. I look forward to seeing everyone else's trees linked up!

five days five ways christmas linky party | because every day is different