Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts- Decorating

Decorate your home. 

It gives the illusion that 
your life is more interesting than it really is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fun with Advent Calendars...

There are so many cute advent calendars out there this year and if you're not careful you could end up spending a small fortune on one of them.  Before you do that, consider a fun DIY advent calendar.  There are many ideas and tutorials out there that are budget friendly and really fun to put together.  In no particular order here are 12 of my favorites - I'd  have them all in my home if I could!

The Envelope Advent Calendar - I just love the idea of this because it's super easy and pretty inexpensive.  Most of us have envelopes on hand to make this happen.  This is the perfect type of calendar for 'experience' treats as opposed to toys or candy.  Things like: watch 'Elf' tonight, go sledding or make cookies with mom can be printed out on the computer on paper and tucked in the envelope for a fun activity.  This one from A Few Things From My Life is one of my favorites.

A Few Things From My Life

Muffin Tin Advent Calendar - These are all over the place and they are one of the neatest ways to count down to Christmas I have seen.  You can make your muffin tin as elaborate or as simple as you want to.  And I think you can get muffin tins at the dollar store!  I love this one from The Happy Scraps

The Happy Scraps

Note Card Advent Calendar - I love this calendar for its cuteness and frugalness.  And it is a simple undertaking.  

Love of Family and Home

Coke Crate Advent Calendar - Life as a Thrifter's coca-cola crate advent calendar is so fun.  Vintage meets glitz. 

Life as a Thrifter
Baby Sock Advent Calendar - This one had me wishing I had kept all those cute baby socks.  

Martha Stewart
Tag Advent Calendar -  Honey We're Home created a darling tag advent calendar - another great one for activity based treats. 

Honey We're Home
Pottery Barn Inspired Advent Calendar -  The Feminist Housewife really saved some money creating her own advent calendar using inspiration from Pottery Barn.  

The Feminist Housewife
Painted Sleigh Advent Calendar - I bought a wooden sleigh with drawers a few years ago at Michael's and painted it for our advent calendar.  I love the way it turned out and we are still using it.   Look for these types of advent calendars in the shapes of trees as well.  There are so many options to make them your own.
September Acres
Luminary Advent Calendar - Design Dining and Diapers made a lovely luminary advent calendar using baby food jars (I wish I had kept those along with the baby socks). 

Design Dining and Diapers
Matchbox Advent Calendar - Chris at Just a Girl created a really neat advent calendar using matchboxes (the kind you buy at the grocery store).  

Just a Girl
A Book a Day Advent Calendar - I loved this countdown when LM was younger.  Before the month begins wrap 24 Christmas/Holiday/Winter books and each day have your kids unwrap one book to be read that day.  If you don't have enough books, check out thrift shops or hit the library (keep track of due dates though).  

Blue Cricket Design
Paper Chain Advent Calendar - An oldie but a goody, the paper chain is especially fun the the little ones.  Cut 24 strips of construction paper and link them together like a chain.  Each day your child can take off one link.  This is a fun learning tool when working on colors and numbers.  Add a bible verse or Christmas-y saying to each link for a little something extra.

Less Ordinary Designs
The Christmas countdown is coming soon but it's not too late create your own advent calendar.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

Color your Christmas...

Are you spending this weekend decking the halls?  Are you thinking of spicing things up with a new color scheme?  Or do you stick with the traditional red and green?

I try to do something a little different each year without breaking the bank (of course).  Last year I went with a red and blue theme in our main living areas (family room, dining and kitchen).

And pink and green in LM's room.

Here are some other great ideas for this year's Christmas look:

 Blues and Greens.  I love these colors so much.

 Turquoise and Orange.  How fun is this?  It really creates an exciting and modern feeling.

White and Brown.   The beauty of this color scheme is that it's easy to incorporate your regular decor into a clean Christmas look.  And it's very White Christmas-y too.

What non-traditional color schemes have you used? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts - Thanksgiving


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

 ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ten Things to do on Black Friday besides Shopping...

I spent too many years in retail to ever want to spend the Friday after Thanksgiving shopping.  All that traffic and pushing and waiting in line is great for retailers but not for me.  I actually went to W@lmart one Black Friday about 12 years ago.  I figured I'd zip in at 5 am, pick up the vacuum and TV and be back at home before my husband woke up.  This was before the days of being open on Thanksgiving day and even at 5 am, the store was packed.   Packed with mean, pushy, cart ramming shoppers.  I picked up the two things I came for as fast as I could (which wasn't all that fast) and vowed never to do that again.  Never.  Ever.

These days my Black Fridays are more relaxing and fun.  If you're looking for something to do this year besides hitting the mall, consider one of these activities:

  1. Put up your Christmas Tree.  This can be a fun family event and if you have relatives in town you even get some extra help!  Take pictures, too, for a fun scrapbook page.
  2. Write out your Christmas Cards. I love the day that I send out my cards.  It's one thing I've ticked off my to-do list and the task is not hanging over me as another thing that needs to be finished.  
  3. Bake. If you're a baker, Friday is a good day to get started.  Again, with relatives in town you may get some help and enjoy a day of family fun.
  4. Enjoy the outdoors. Take a hike or bike ride with the family.  If you're lucky enough to live near a ski resort, check and see when opening day is.  Many resorts try to open Thanksgiving weekend if there's enough snow (or they can make enough) but it's usually not super crowded this early in the season.
  5. Create an advent calendar. Advent calendars are always fun but I've seen some out there that cost a pretty penny.  Spend the day making your own advent calendar with your kids. Use a mini-muffin tin to create yous.  You will find tutorials for these all over blogland . I like this one from The Mommymess.
  6. Watch Movies. Spend the day in pajamas, eat leftovers and watch movies.  Pull out your favorite holiday flicks or just some fun movies your family loves but doesn't get to watch very often.
  7. Go to the Movies. Pack everyone up and head out to the theatre for a family friendly matinee. Or if you have a large group pick a few movies that start and end at about the same time so everyone gets to see something they like.
  8. Take the Kids Swimming.  It's been pretty wintery already and a day at the indoor pool may be just the ticket.  Most towns have a rec center or Y pool so give them a call and see what their weekend hours are.
  9. Park Day & Picnic.  If you still have fairly warm weather, pack up some turkey sandwiches and the family and head to your local park for a day of play.
  10. Work on Holiday Crafts. Most of us have spent the last month or so pinning every cute holiday craft we've seen on line but most of us haven't done all any of them yet.  Do it on Friday!  Just remember to buy any supplies you need before Friday so you don't have to brave the crowds at the craft store.
I really look forward to Black Friday knowing that I have the entire day to do something fun with my family.  (disclosure:  my husband doesn't partake in most of these activities but I can find him in his chair watching the plethora of college football games that are on TV.  A win/win all around!)

Do you have any Black Friday traditions?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts - Anniversary

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. 

The order varies for any given year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy Lunch Boxes -Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook

I recently had the opportunity to review the Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook by Kelly Lester.  I became familiar with Kelly and her Easy Lunch Boxes products by following her on Twitter.

I am a huge fan of cookbooks and own too many.  I can also be found with an armful each time I check out at the library.  As with anything, some of the cookbooks are keepers and some are duds.  The Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook (available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon) is a definite keeper.

The eye catching cover is only the beginning of the enjoyment you will discover when you pick up this book. If you are a mom, you will appreciate the fun, easy, fast lunch box ideas.  Each recipe is beautifully photographed and not only shows a picture of the recipe but also sides (fruits & veggies) that would be tasty served with the dish.  I don't know about you but I am always looking for different lunch ideas for my daughter - not only for her main dish but for sides as well.  I know she gets sick of having baby carrots every day.

Who wouldn't love to open their lunch box and find one of these feasts:

I made the Bacon-Cheesy Whole Wheat Pita Pockets tonight for dinner and they were a hit.  I asked my daughter if she'd like to have these in her lunch box and she said yes.  It looks like all of the recipes are fairly quick to make & make ahead of time.  

I am really looking forward to adding some excitement to our lunches and lunch making as I try more recipes from this book.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

From Halloween to Harvest...

I found this black feather wreath at Michaels and snatched it up.  I added an orange glitter spider for Halloween (I had already taken it off when I took this photo.) but really wanted to figure out a way to keep it up until Christmas.  Knowing the orange spider wouldn't work, I started brainstorming.

I came up with some fall colored leaves (cut with my Cricut) and paper acorns (using an ornament punch).

I finished it up with a tan ribbon.

I think it turned out pretty cute and will work Until I bring out Christmas.  Most importantly, I didn't spend any money on this transformation.  Always a good thing for me!

Linking up to Frugal Friday at the Shabby Nest.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts - Football

Football is like life, 
it requires perseverance, 
 hard work,
 respect for authority.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

October Fun Recap...

Just like every other month, October was a blur.  With my 31 Days of Home Organization series I really blogged about nothing else. But, believe me, there was a lot going on.  In no particular order:

  • We celebrated my husband's birthday.
  • We decorated for Halloween.
  • We carved pumpkins.
  • We went to our town's pumpkin festival (sadly, it was very disappointing but it was the first year so hopefully next year will be better.  And maybe it won't be 90 degrees out.)
  • LM trick or treated with her friend's family while my husband & I were at a trade show.
  • We made snickerdoodles (yum!)
  • We went to Disneyland for fall break. I have decided that we go there too much since I have been to Sephora twice this year, both times at Downtown Disney.  And my husband & I have the Mouse Wait app on our phones.
  • LM went on a weekend girl scout camp trip. 
  • We watched 4 debates. (Don't forget to vote today!)
  • I went to the dentist and got my hair cut - things I feel like I am forever doing.
Add in all the everyday things like work and school and you have one tired mom here.

Is it too much to ask for November to be a little slower?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Yes, No, Maybe So...

I've spent this weekend pondering the possibility of helping with our school's winter carnival.  A note came home on Friday asking for help & ideas for the event. I have tons of ideas for the event but I'm from the school of 'if you have fabulous ideas for an event I assume you will also be volunteering to head said event.'

And that stopped me in my tracks.

Last year's carnival replaced our school's long standing fall fair and I had high hopes for the new event because it would be something different.  Or so I thought.  As it turned out, the carnival ended up being the fall fair with snowflakes hanging from the ceiling.  And Christmas music.  I was highly disappointed but kept it to myself as I am also from the school of 'if you don't offer your assistance, don't complain about the outcome of an event.'  I never even said anything to my husband or LM.

So when I heard the group sponsoring the event wanted ideas, I started thinking about tossing my hat into the ring to help and offer ideas.  By late this afternoon, after much thought, I decided that I wouldn't be offering my assistance or ideas to this event for many reasons, but most importantly because I want to be able to spend the time and energy on getting my home ready for the holidays and getting ready for a cookie party/Santa's breakfast for LM and her friends the weekend before the winter carnival.

While it's fun to work on outside activities sometimes we just need to remember our priorities and realize we can't do everything we want, when we want.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Have you ever said no to something you wanted to do but knew you wouldn't be able to give it your all?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts - Doing your best

"I have done my best."
That is about all the philosophy of living one needs.
~Lin Yutang