Fridge Finds

Life got busy. And that is why you haven't heard a peep from me in awhile. I don't have a project to share today, but more of a humorous discovery. I was rummaging through our fridge looking for a snack. I was hoping to find something sweet and salty, and healthy. A girl can dream.

Instead I found this.

Really? Three small carrot sticks left in the container. Who does that?! As if whoever was in there last couldn't finish three measly carrot sticks. Or they possibly felt bad for eating them all. Still.

I guess the up side is that our family ate a whole container of carrot sticks - a healthy choice. They may or may not have been dipped in peanut butter. I cannot confirm or deny.

Happy Weekend!

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Family

Yarn Letter

I was curious. I've seen all the fabulous yarn wrapped letters on Pinterest. But I can't find the letters at any of my local craft stores. I've heard Hobby Lobby has them, but sadly, I do not have a Hobby Lobby nearby. (sniffle, tear.) Then I found this tutorial using cardboard to make the letters. I can do that. I have cardboard boxes.

I printed my letter (S) and cut it out. I traced it twice on a piece of cardboard and cut them out too. My exacto knife is now dull.

And now I have a bonus cardboard stencil, should I ever need one.

Then I used the scraps of cardboard to make "sides" and taped them to the letters, making a 3-D letter. I did not do sides all the way around - just enough to add support and create a relatively solid letter to wrap around. I'm also fairly confident in saying that my letter - S - is one of the harder ones. An "L" seems like it would be way easier, without all the curves. I bet B's are hard too.

I cut short pieces of yarn to go over the ends, and hot glued them in place.

Then I just started wrapping. And wrapping. And wrapping. I wasn't going for a super tailored look. I just wanted the yarn to cover the cardboard and look neat, but casual. A dab of hot glue on the back side secured the end.

Not sure where I'll put it yet. I'm thinking about hanging it with ribbon from the mirror over the fireplace. Or possibly setting it on one of our ledge shelves along with the photos there.

It was a very easy project. I'd like to do more letters and make a yarn wrapped "LOVE" and maybe "JOY" for other holidays. I could do the kids' initials too.

How would you use your letter?

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Crafts

Speaking of Excess...

We have been very productive in our household so far this year. Mr. Helpful attacked his side of our closet. I would say his half, but that would be a lie. Our "sides" are not exactly even. Guilty. Typical, though, right? Women just have more clothes. He emerged with 2 large trash bags full of clothes to donate. He even threw some clothes away, that were not worthy of donating. I could not believe the transformation when I walked in there and saw his side. Wish I had a before picture.

Then I saw my side.

Oh. Not so good. You know those pictures of people who've had half their face treated with some amazing product and the other side looks horrible? That was our closet. Ok, here goes. I'm holding my breath and closing my eyes as you look at this.

Me being "Miss Organized" could not be outdone. I had to tackle my side, which I have successfully avoided since we moved in a year and a half ago. See the moving box? Not sure what's down in there, but obviously, I don't need it if it's been sitting there since July 2010. I have several formal dresses from my skinnier days. Days when I had a reason to actually wear a formal dress from time to time. Business suits from my "real job" days - eight years ago. Bridesmaid dresses, outdated skirts, pants that are too big or too small, shoes that don't fit my post-kid feet, my wedding dress, my guitar (which hasn't been played in at least seven years), and... ugh, I need to stop. It's giving me a headache.

Mr. Helpful agreed to take the kids for the afternoon and I went to work. My method of purging/reorganizing is to make a really big mess first, and start over. I went through the hanging clothes first, and made a donate pile. Or tower, as it turned out to be. If I've had it since before kids, it's gone. Sadly, I've had some things for much much longer than that. If I haven't worn it, or make a face every time I see it hanging there, it's gone.

Next I threw (literally) all the clothes on the shelves down onto the floor. I've got to be honest, there was something very therapeutic about that. I highly recommend it. Things that were staying got neatly folded and placed (not thrown) in neat stacks back on the shelves. The rest were thrown on the donate tower.

A few of my donate clothes are actually quite nice - Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer. (That's nice to me, a Target, Khols, & Old Navy kind of gal.) So I placed them aside in a laundry basket to see if I can find a place to consign them. I may do that with some of my nicer formal dresses and timeless suits as well. Hey, if I can make a few bucks, it's as if someone paid me to clean out my closet. Score.

Of course, my time in the closet was interrupted by small children wanting to try on my shoes and dresses, and play that dusty guitar. So I had to stop for the day. Things left on my list: bag up the donate tower and get it out of the house. Find a few better solutions for storing things like purses, duffel bags, and goal clothes (the ones that WILL fit me again once I reach my goal.)

I don't have a pretty closet, with matching hangers and pretty shelves with decorative baskets. I'm ok with that. It's my closet. I spend very little time in there, and very few guests ever step foot in there. But it feels great to be able to walk in there without fearing that something is going to come crashing down on my head while I'm trying to figure out what to wear. (And please, don't call the folks at What Not to Wear on me after seeing my wardrobe. I could never spend that much money on so few outfits, like they make you do on that show.)

The 2012 purge continues!

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Organization

Ribbon Storage

I recently spent some time in my studio (a.k.a. our dining room) taking inventory, which is another way of saying it was such a mess I had no idea what I had in there. Now it's organized. I have a lot of ribbon. I'm a recovering ribbon addict. I fully admit to buying ribbon on sale with no specific project in mind. I can't stop myself when ribbon is on sale. (Help.) There are tons of different ways to organize ribbon - some would work for me, some would not.

Source: http://minimozblog.blogspot.com/

Source: http://shannonjaredwight.blogspot.com/

Source: http://www.amazingpapergrace.com/

The system I use seems to be working, so I'm not going to mess with it. Nothing fancy. Just plastic shoebox size bins, somewhat sorted by color.

I use a pin to hold the end in so the spool doesn't unravel. Ribbon gets used to make hair bows and headbands, mostly. Occasionally I'll use some to tie a label or tag on something, if I'm trying to be all "Martha".

 

I do sell these headbands and/or hairbows (though I don't have the bows pictured). Headbands are $7. Bows range from $3-5, plus shipping. If you're interested, contact me, and we can figure out colors. They make very nice gifts and can be custom made to match outfits, holidays, etc.

 

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Crafts

First Purge of 2012

Recently, as we were getting the kids out the door for school, searching through the closet for the appropriate coats, matching gloves, etc., Mr. Helpful says to me, "That closet needs help." Yes, yes it does. So The Bear and I went to work.

Here is the closet before.

Contents include games, dog towels, winter hats & gloves, summer hats & caps, a bin of school stuff for each kid, rolling drawers of stationary and extra office supplies, coats for all seasons for five people, bathroom hand towels, four folding tables, four folding chairs, and an overflowing basket of tablecloths that we don't use. Because that makes sense, right? It might help to tell you that this closet is between our powder room and our family room/kitchen area. Not by an entryway. And though we live in the south, we originate from the north, so we do believe in wearing coats unlike many southern natives.

First step - empty contents and vacuum. Next, sort into keep, purge, and relocate piles. Refold dog towels and tablecloths. Rehang coats. Label.

I had a special helper. She was not tired, just an actress who wanted to get in my pictures! Those vinyl tablecloths are usually for outside parties or messy crafts, but they don't stay folded well. So I put a rubber band around them to hold the fold.

The kids coats that are worn most hang from hooks on the door, so they can reach them.

I had an empty bin that worked for my Christmas tablecloths. Two of them are round. Do I have a round table? Not anymore. But I do have an idea for a tree skirt, so I'm going to hang onto them. I promise that if I don't use any of these after next Christmas, they're out. Yes, they are tablecloths, but that's also "free" fabric. That's how I see it.

Hmm. I'm not loving that white basket thing on top, but it's an improvement. It's too wide to fit on the shelf itself. When I reorg the kitchen, maybe the tablecloths can find a new home in there. The coats aren't as scrunched. I actually may be able to purge a couple more, but I need Mr. Helpful to decide, since they're his. Summer hats and adult winter gear have their own bin.

Kids coats that aren't worn every day hang to the right, in order by kid. (A little OCD? Maybe.) The dog towels are folded neatly on my rolling drawer thing. (In case you're wondering, we use the "dog" towels to wipe off her paws if she's wet or muddy. Then we hang the dirty towel on the hinge of the back door until we are so disgusted with it that we put it in the wash. Classy. I know.)

Kid winter gear is in a bin on the floor so they can reach it. I have a better idea, but that is another post. The folding chairs are leaning against the left side, with the tables along the back of the closet.

And the donate pile. Coats and several tablecloths (hiding underneath). Once spring officially comes I can purge some of the little hats and gloves too. (I say officially, because although it's January, my kids are playing outside in shorts and t-shirts. I love the south!)

It feels good to sort through things. Addicting. What will be next? I'm thinking maybe the kitchen...

Have a great weekend!

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Organization

Setting Goals: Using What I Have

At the start of every new year people make resolutions and have motivation to succeed at least for a day or two. Maybe even a week or a month. My personal resolutions usually involve losing weight or getting in shape, etc. Blah blah blah. Well, this year, I'm not going there. Not that I don't need to do those things. But I just don't want to announce it publicly. So if I chow down on leftover Christmas cookies, or the bottomless fries at Red Robin from time to time, I will not be judged or reminded of my failure. Just being real.

One of my goals this year is to UWIH. Use What I Have. For example, I have a ton of hand lotion. Why does one need more than one bottle of hand lotion at a time? Well, I don't anyway. So this year, I am not going to purchase any hand lotion until I UWIH down to the last drop. This picture does not include the lotions I have in my purse and my car. It's just taking up space.

I also have more perfume/body spray than I need. Mostly gifts. I admit - I have perfume that I got in high school from a high school boyfriend. Probably should throw that out. Does perfume expire? Anyway, I don't wear it much - or not often enough according to Mr. Helpful. But maybe I should. I have it. Just sitting in a basket in my bathroom closet. Why not? If I'm not going to wear it, I need to get rid of it.

Cleaning supplies is another area where I aspire to UWIH. So instead of buying a new scent of bathroom cleaner, I am going to use up the Costco size Comet I have in my stock of cleaning agents. I have a ton of Windex - we bought a big refill bottle probably 5 years ago. Guess I need to wash my windows more often. Oh how I wish this picture was all I had. But there is about that much under my kitchen sink as well. And more in the mudroom closet. And the hall closet.

The big one for me is knitting, sewing, and crafting supplies. You can never have too much, right? But if I don't use it, it's just sitting there. I really enjoy doing those things! I'm not trying to start a collection of yarn. I've bought yarn over the years with good intentions but very little time. Again, I have more yarn in another basket downstairs. And more in my knitting bag. Ugh, this is embarrassing.

With that said, I'm going to pick up my knitting needles and start. Something. Probably a dish cloth, because they are easy and functional and make nice gifts.

I am going to attempt to update you monthly on my progress. Hopefully my stash of lotion, perfume, cleaning products, and yarn will decrease, creating more space and less clutter. Use. Purge. Simplify. Succeed. Who's with me?!

 

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Organization

Coaster Gift Set

One of my favorite places is the Habitat ReStore. They have all sorts of things - it's always changing - and you can get a pretty good deal on furniture , building supplies, books appliances, and anything in between. The best deal I have found is on tile - ten cents for a 4x4 white tile. That is the perfect size for coasters, so I bought six. I'm sure you've seen these on Pinterest.

I took some fun scrapbook paper and cut it to fit the tile, leaving a small border around the square, and Mod Podged it on. After sufficient drying time (about 20 minutes or so), I sealed the coaster top with more Mod Podge. I typically use a foam brush to apply Mod Podge. After letting that first layer dry, I wasn't happy with the brush marks that showed. I thought foam brushes weren't suppose to do that, but it did. I'm sure I'm the only one who would ever notice those tiny lines, but there must be a way to avoid them.

My next attempt was to use spray Mod Podge sealer in a gloss finish. Much better. Six coasters. Most sets just have four, which annoys me since if/when I would ever use coasters, I would likely need more than that. So my gift sets will have six.

I attached squares of corkboard self adhesive contact paper to the bottoms. Tie a coordinating ribbon around them and call it a gift. So simple and inexpensive. Sixty cents for the tiles, two pieces of scrapbook paper, and Mod Podge, which I had in my stash.

I'm a huge fan of quick, easy, inexpensive yet functional gifts. I just might make one for my desk, so I can set my tea on something other than the pile of papers stacked in the corner. (Look out 2012. I'm in the mood to purge and reorganize!)

 

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Decor

Christmas Recap

Did you miss me? I thought since the kids were off school for Christmas, I'd take a break too. So here's a quick recap of part of our Christmas morning. The kids were too busy to pose for us in front of the tree, but I'll take what I can get.

The big kids got those craft loops to use with looms and make potholders. I think I have a drawer full of them now. They've been busy!

Bud got a cool remote control truck. The dog loves that. And so far, it's not broken. Amazing! The big kids also got IPod Shuffles (as shown in the back of the truck.) So now, they can listen to music that we approved. I'm not sure the headphones will come off for a few days, until the novelty wears off. (It's been so quiet at our house!)

One of my favorite traditions that I married into is the Christmas Morning Danish Kringle. We only ordered 2, but by the miracle of Christmas, we were shipped 4. Cherry, Apple, Cream Cheese, and - my all time favorite - Raspberry.

See that? Is your mouth watering? Here's a picture of the package, in case you'd like to start the tradition in your family.

They know how to make Christmas morning wonderful.

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Holidays

Neighbor Gifts

We are so blessed to live in a neighborhood where we actually know (and love!) our neighbors. Our street pretty much rocks. We are those people who are always having cul-de-sac parties in the summer. I've borrowed eggs and rang doorbells late at night knowing we'd be welcomed with open arms. So I like to do a little something for each of my fabulous neighbors at Christmas.

This year we made chocolate covered pretzel rods with sprinkles. The Bear and I worked together and made 9 little goody bags. I made a simple tag and the girls walked from house to house delivering the treats.

In years past, I've done jars of Christmas Tea, Gingerbread Men, and Peppermint Bark. We have received everything from sampler cookie plates and hot chocolate, to sparkling apple juice. What do you do for your neighbors?

 

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Holidays

Three Little Bakers

On the first day of Christmas break my three loves helped me bake gingerbread men.

They got silly and mostly played with the dough while I attempted to work with what ended up being very dry crumbly dough. (Where did I go wrong - more molasses maybe?) They liked getting messy and sneaking nibbles of dough - which by the way, does not have eggs, so it's ok to eat raw, in case you wondered. It's actually quite good, and if we hadn't baked today we might not have had any dough left in the fridge!

After struggling to roll it out smooth and cut out the little men, I gave up and we just started making gingerbread blobs and squares instead. Bud wanted to make a dog. Girly wanted to make a girl. And the Bear just wanted me to keep sprinkling "sugar" on her little pile, which was really flour. (She calls most white things that can sprinkle sugar - like Parmesan cheese and salt.) They totally didn't care how it looked, and neither did I.

When the gingerbread men came out of the oven and onto the cookie rack, they looked like they had just returned from battle. Some of them just plain didn't make it. Limbs were missing. Some heads too. And any that were actually in tact were dry and cracked like mud baked in the sun.

But. They still tasted great. Just like the dough. Only warm! Obviously, I am not a stickler for perfection, especially when it comes to doing anything with my kids. Why set myself up for failure?

But I have yet to celebrate a Christmas without gingerbread men - or gingerbread whatever.

 

 

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Holidays

Snowflakes

No, it's definitely not snowing here in the south. But there are a lot of snowflakes in my house!

Every year my parents get our kids a silver snowflake ornament with their name and the year engraved on it. I have a mini tree that I put up in our entryway that I've been decorating with these snowflakes for years. Given that my kids are 7, 6, and 3, we have quite a collection.

I think I'm going to need a bigger tree!

Christmas vacation has officially started for my kids - we did the school parties today and they are all hopped up on candy canes. I'm thinking we need to do some serious Christmas crafting to pass the time create memories this week.

And Mr. Helpful pointed out our shortage of Christmas cookies. We've all been so sick, no one wanted to bake. Now he has the flu so the kids and I will step up to the plate. And fill it with cookies. (Wow. That was cheesy.) Coming soon: cookie-making pics, and hopefully some kid-friendly craftiness too!

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Decor

Christmas Traditions

It's funny how the family traditions we grow up with carry over into our own families - or morph into some new version that incorporates the traditions of your spouse's childhood. And then there are the new traditions that we start - whether on purpose or by accident.

One of my favorite traditions growing up was reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with my brother and sister. My brother was always the reader, and he read every word in the book - right down to the publishing information. There were songs in the back of our book, and he read those lyrics too. Fa la la la la...la la la la. We didn't sing it. We read it. It was a silly thing he started that just stuck. Now, we still try to read it on Christmas Eve if we are together. We've even done it over the phone when we are not!

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

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Family

Decking the Halls

With Christmas less than a week away, I thought I'd show you some Christmas decorations around our home. With 3 young kids we don't do anything terribly elaborate or breakable. Just about everything we have out gets handled by little hands, so if there's something I'd but upset about breaking, I don't use it. That's probably why my fine china has been kept safely in the cabinet for 10 years.

Over the years, we've been given various pieces of the Willow Tree Nativity. It's probably my favorite thing to put out each year. I started to put in on our sofa table, but then I had visions of the dog grabbing a wise man and chewing him to pieces. So the Nativity went on top of the TV cabinet, safe from the dog and kids. Mr. Helpful designed, built, and crackle-painted a custom creche a few years ago. We put lights behind it so the cut out star actually "shines".

I just realized that the 3rd wise man is hidden behind the 2nd wise man. He's back there.

The mantel is often the focal point of the room. Ours is pretty basic. A large mirror leans against the wall. Maybe someday we will actually hang it on the wall, but for now, it's leaning. Two mini-trees laced with cranberry beads cap off the ends. My mother-in-law made each of the stockings with our names embroidered on them. The stocking holders spell PEACE, which is ironic since there's not usually much peace to be found with kids' excitement for Christmas! But it was the only word I found with 5 letters. They should make one that says CRAZY. It's not very Christmasy, but it definitely describes my house this time of year. My only complaint about them is that they fall with the slightest pull on the stocking. So once Santa fills them, they will likely need to lay on the floor.

The tree sits in the corner with all kinds of non-coordinating ornaments. My family gave us an ornament shower when we got engaged, which gave us a great start to our collection. Many are handmade by our kids - some made by me when I was a kid!

In the other corner of the room I have wrapped presents that are really just empty boxes that I wrapped for decoration several years ago. But every year, the kids want to open them. Go figure. Some presents need to be replaced - they moved with us and spend most of the year packed up in the garage. They sit on top of our very classy piece of furniture: the dog crate. I made a custom cover for it, so it's not as bad as it once was. It's tucked in the corner out of the way, but I've never been real sure how to incorporate it into the room when it's not Christmas.

And that's our family room. All decked out. More Christmas stuff coming up this week! Have a great Monday!

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Holidays

Christmas Cone Trees

Whew! What a couple of weeks! I think, as of this very moment anyway, we are all on the way to good health....several trips to the doctor and multiple antibiotics later. I finally feel like maybe - just maybe - I can get my craft on once again. So here's a quick, easy, and inexpensive Christmas craft that even the kids could do.

Cone Trees. You've seen them. On Pinterest. Right? The styrofoam cones wrapped in yarn or with sparkly goodness glued on them? Yes, those. Well, I am trying not to spend money (perfect time of year for it, right?!) but I really wanted to try one of these trees. So I got creative and went digging through our recycle bin.

Cheerios. Fruity Cheerios. The kids' favorite.  And I guess because it's "Cheerios" it seems healthier than Fruit Loops. (?) A few cuts and folds of the cereal box and some bright orange ductape, and I had 3 cone trees ready to be wrapped.

In keeping with my free project goal, I went to my stash of yarn and found this fuzzy white yarn that would be fun. It's actually a little hard to knit with - it sheds - so I had no problem using it for this project. And with my love for jute, I had to try a tree with the all-natural-earthy look too. I used hot glue for the beginning and the end. I don't think it really matters, but I started at the top and worked my way down. For the white trees, I went from top to bottom back to top, to fill in and make it look fluffy and snowy.

You like?! I got 3 trees from one cereal box. I just might have to do some more. Easy. And free. For me - since I eat cereal and have a stash of yarn and jute.

Here's hoping no one in our house gets sick over the weekend! Is all your shopping done? I'm done and ready to start wrapping! Ho ho ho!

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Crafts

Nurse Mommy

Hey all! It's been awhile since I posted. We've had a crazy week of sickness in our house. Stomach bug, hacking cough, sinus infection, and now pneumonia. And yes, Mommy got sick too. I thought that wasn't suppose to happen! So that's why I haven't done anything. There has been much snuggling and movie watching. Not much crafting or creating.

Maybe this week...we'll see. Who will be next to visit the doctor? I should just camp out in the parking lot.

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Family

Teacher Gifts

This year when brainstorming for gifts for my kids' teachers, I went to the best source around. You guessed it: Pinterest. There are so many creative and inexpensive gift ideas out there - it was tough to pick one. The Post-It Present, from Paper Wings, stood out to me as being both useful and cute, not to mention easy and inexpensive. I have done gift cards in the past, but now with everyone in school with 2 teachers each, it's just too expensive.

Walmart had 5x7 plastic frames for 97 cents. I picked up some pretty scrapbook paper and cut two 5x7 pieces out of each for my six frames. I had ribbon to go with each design, and I purchased a pack of colorful post-it notes. I actually took a scrap of each paper with me to see if I could coordinate colors. I had trouble keeping the post-it notes on the frame with just the sticky part of the post-it. So I used some double-sided tape and that seems to be holding.

Teacher gifts. Check!

 

I'm linking up to

 

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Crafts

Feather Boa Wreath

So I saw this idea on Pinterest. Don't you love when I start like that? Hey, at least I'm trying to make the things I see on there.

Christmas wreaths have traditionally been made up of some sort of greenery. But I wanted to try something different this year. So I went with the white feather boa and foam pipe insulation. The foam stuff is cheap (found mine at HD) and you can create any size you want. But the first time I tried a wreath with the foam, it ended up bending and kinking and looking not-so-circular.

Then I found the solution. On Pinterest. (No, I'm not getting paid to promote Pinterest. I just love it!) (But if you'd like to pay me, please contact me!) Ha!

The foam insulation has a slit down one side that you can pull/cut open. The genius of Gail at Gail Made realized that if you open up that slit, and tuck one side into the other, it allows the diameter of the inside of the circle to be less than that of the outside, since the slit lets the foam slide a little to...um...make it work. Whatever. It works!

Because my boa is white, I needed to cover the grey foam so it wouldn't show through. So I took a long sleeve white shirt that had been retired, and used the sleeves to make sleeves for the foam. It took three tube sleeves to cover the grey entirely.

Then I used clear packing tape to secure the ends of the foam together to form a circle.

I positioned the white sleeves around and overlapped them slightly so grey would not show through. I taped the overlaps to hold it in place.

The boa was easy to wrap around. I used two six-foot long boas from Michaels. I could have used more, but I only had 2, so I made it work. This is where the white sleeves came in real handy since there are some gaps in the feathers. But you'd never know it since it's white underneath too.

Once I had it wrapped all around, I showed Mr. Helpful. His first comment was that it looked like something from Victoria Secret. Nice honey. Not at all what I was going for.

So in an effort to make the wreath less...um...sexy...and more festive for Christmas, I added some red ornaments that I had in our ornament box. I just poked the wire through and stuck it into the foam.

He doesn't like it. His hesitation to comment said it all. Oh well. I like it. I think it's cute and fun and something totally unlike most of our more traditional holiday decor.

I should totally put a feather boa in Mr. Helpful's stocking. Wink wink, honey.

 

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Holidays

Holiday Concert Part II

Last night we were treated to another evening of holiday concert entertainment. This time, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders took the stage. The house was packed - standing room only. And the only hope we had of seeing Bud was if they happened to get him on video on the big screens - which they did a few times.

Girly and the Bear hung in there like champs - they were both tired and hungry. Thank heaven for mints in my coat pocket. They saved the night.

Here's Bud. He didn't have to dress up. He chose his own outfit. Same outfit as last year.

We had to bribe him with the promise of ice cream when we got home, just so we could take one picture. So after one click of the camera, he was gone. And when we got home, before we were all inside, Bud was sitting at the table with a smile and a spoon. The kid loves ice cream. Can't say I blame him!

It's been a busy week with concerts and Bud's slight concussion (yup - fell off the monkey bars and landed on his head.) But I've been working on a fun holiday project . More next week, but here's a teaser picture.

Have a great weekend!

(Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!)

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Family

Holiday Concerts

This week is concert week for my elementary kiddos. Girly's was last night, and Bud's is tomorrow night. What is it about elementary school concerts that makes me laugh until I pee my pants cry?! So very entertaining - last night was mostly because the one kid who will obviously be an entertainer of some sort - is the son of one of my favorite friends. Cracked. Me. Up.

The Bear (who insisted on wearing her Christmas dress like Girly) spent most of the concert dancing in the aisle, doing the hand motions and singing along to all the songs (as if she knows them.) People around us were watching her more than the kids on stage. Until she noticed they were watching. Then she went into shy mode and snuggled with Daddy for the rest of the show.

So here are my girls. Bud did not want any part of the post concert picture taking. Out of about 20 pictures, these are the best. How on earth do you get kids to look and smile (a normal smile) at the same time?

Thank you Grama for the pretty dresses!

 

 

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Family

Christmas Wish Lists

It seems like once the turkey is off the table and the parade has passed, there's a race to Christmas. Most of our neighbors have Christmas decorations up. We still have pumpkins on our porch. Keeping up with the Jones' is tough. No, really, the Jones family lives on the corner and they are already fully decorated for Christmas. I heard they hired people to do it for them - cheaters. (Just kidding Jones family - you guys are great!)

Best Christmas movie ever!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both passed and I have yet to purchase a single gift. I need to have my kids get serious about their Christmas Wish Lists without letting their expectations soar. They are WISH lists, after all.

So have I missed out on all the deals? I doubt it. Am I too late to have things ship in time? No way. My goal this year is to order online. Anything I can order online and have arrive on my front porch sounds good to me. I'm not a shopper. I don't like crowds, lines, or parking spaces a mile from the store entrance. Not to mention that I have 3 kids, and finding time to go shopping alone is not easy.

And my hope is that by shopping online, I can stay on task and on budget, and not purchase extra items that might tempt me in the store. Wish me luck!

 

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Holidays

Road Trip Activities for Kids

Many people travel around the holidays to visit family and friends. We were in that group this year, and took a long torturous adventurous drive to NYC for Thanksgiving last week.  (Once we were there, it was great - it's the getting there - and getting home that's rough.) But this year, I took the bull by the horns. I searched for car-friendly kid activities to help us get through the 12-ish hour trip. I went to my go-to, Pinterest.

Of course, I was not disappointed. There are lots of ideas on there! My favorite ones involve bingo and magnets. Oh how I love the idea of things staying put and not flying all over our car. Road Trip Bingo, compliments of Kimberly, the Homemaking Expert, is fabulous! She has six different printable bingo cards -  for free! (Thanks Kimberly!) The Alphabet Search and Slug Bug games are also free at Prepared Not Scared - her travel bag ideas are fantastic!

The idea for the magnetic activity tray came from the girls over at Ladybird Ln. They made several magnetic activity sets using mostly dollar store finds! So the Bear and I went on a mission to make some variation of these for our trip.

We found inexpensive cake pans at Dollar General. I like these because they are deep and can double as a tray for meals on the go, so less things end up on the floor. (Very old french fries, gummies, and goldfish have formed a colony under the back seat of our van.) At the Dollar Tree, we picked up magnetic wooden letters. For $1. Love it! So I got 3 pans, and 3 sets of letters.

  

Knowing that we take these long trips occasionally, I wanted the activity trays and games to last. So I splurged and got self laminating sheets at Walmart and laminated all of my print outs. This would also allow you to use a dry erase marker to play, but I do not want my kids in the car with an open marker of any kind. I'll stick to magnets for now.

After laminating all the games, I put self adhesive magnet strips on the back of each. I just cut the magnetic sheets I had in my stash. The kids picked from my scrapbook paper and I punched out circles using my Creative Memories small circle punch. Which, by the way, is a  perfect fit for those 3/4" round craft magnets. I used my glue gun to attach the paper circles to the magnets. Not sure if that was the best option - Mod Podge may give you smoother results. Next time I'll try that.

Next I trimmed down an plain manilla folder and used double sided tape to attach coordinating scrapbook paper to fit the bottom of the pan. I sealed up the sides with packing tape - to create a pocket for the extra game cards. Then I attached the manilla folder to the bottom of the pan with double sided tape. My last step was to place a small self-adhesive magnetic strip on the inside of the pocket to hold it closed so game cards don't fall into the colony thriving under the seat.

The magnetic letters are not that strong - they kept falling off the pan. So in an effort to save them from the colony as well, I used very random scrap fabric and some string to create little pouches to hold the letters. Side note: I often wonder what other blogging moms do with their kids while they work on all their projects. In case you were too, the Bear was right by my side. She was my product tester.

So each child has their own pan, set of games, their unique color of magnet, and a pouch for letters. Do you like how I used tissue boxes and library books to prop up the pans for my photo? Nice. Ha!

Everyone has their own. Everyone can identify their own. No arguing over who's is who's. Bliss.

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Crafts

Being Thankful

We should be thankful throughout the year, but with the Thanksgiving holiday this week, we get a friendly reminder. I am not always as thankful as I should be. My kids definitely are not. They don't grasp the concept of truly being in need. Most of us reading this don't. Thankfully.

So this week, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am going to take a break from my computer and try to use every opportunity I can to show the kids how to be truly thankful. There is always something to be thankful for - no matter what. I love this quote I found on Pinterest (not sure of its origin) - so true.

I am off this week to be with my family. To eat turkey and abnormally large portions of everything else offered at the feast. To have leftover apple pie for breakfast. To watch football. To be thankful. And to try to teach them how to be thankful too.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be back next week with some fun things to share!

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Family

Mod Podged Bowl

I'm still a beginner Mod Podger. But I really really like it! I posted about repurposing plastic food containers awhile back. Well here is another project I did with a small container.

I used a scrap of fabric, and just folded it up around and inside the bowl, trimming where I needed to. I Mod Podged it to the plastic, then sealed the outside with Mod Podge so it's smooth. The pattern on the fabric is very easy to work with - no stripes to match up or anything. And it matches my first Mod Podge project. A few more things done in this fabric, and I'll have a complete matching set of organizing containers!

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

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Crafts

Kids Craft Closet Makeover

We have a very deep closet under our stairs. It would make a great concealed desk area. But for now it houses all kids crafts supplies, a pile of tablecloths (that I never use), games, puzzles, extra school supplies, stationary, play doh and play doh accessories. It's on the verge of being a catch-all. It may not look that bad, but one angry stomp up the stairs above would send things crashing to the floor. (Anyone else have angry stompers?)

My kids love to create, color, cut, glue, tape, etc. I very much prefer these activities to watching tv, so I try to keep their supplies handy and give them different ideas to keep crafts new and exciting. They go in and out of this closet on their own, helping themselves to what they need. They are always in a hurry to get to the next thing, so "cleaning up" is more like if it's in the closet and they can shut the door, it's good. We encourage them to put things back in an organized manner, but they're kids age 7, 6, and 3, and their standards of organization are much lower than mine.

I got tired of trying to straighten the construction paper so it didn't get bent. Crayons were in the marker bin. Game boxes were missing their tops. My once neatly stacked pile of tablecloths had been stood upon to reach things on the shelf, and was now falling over, with some tablecloth edges ripped and chewed compliments of our dog. I found way too many marker tops on the floor along with scraps of paper, tracing tools, play doh crumbs, goldfish crumbs, and yes, there were a lot of dog hair clumps in there. Eww. Just being real.

It was time for a change.

I decided to make the closet storage for kid stuff only. So I emptied it. Completely. And started over.

I tested every marker. If it didn't work, I pitched it. I pitched hard play doh, fully-colored coloring books, sticker pages with 3 or less stickers on them, glue sticks with no glue left, 30 page stapled paper "books" with one scribble per page, and anything else that was broken or not up to par anymore.

I love purging. Especially kid stuff. Don't ask me to do my own closet - I'm not ready. :)

I have one of those plastic drawers on wheels things that was sort of organized with kid stuff. I emptied that too, carefully chose which items to put in each drawer and labeled them with my handy dandy label maker.

The play doh bin was purged of all dry play doh, broken tools, and empty containers. Now it closes! Amazing! Coloring books fit nicely in 2 separate bins - one has activity books more appropriate for the older kids, the other has mostly regular coloring books. The construction paper was straightened in its bin, and kids notebooks and sketch pads landed in a large red fabric bin on the floor. My stationary and tablecloths got the boot and are now stashed in a different closet (which could also use some purging...another day.)

I moved all the "grown up" games to a different closet and moved the kids games and puzzles where they can reach them better (well, the big kids can reach.) The top shelf is reserved for things that I need to ration or supervise, like extra play doh and Bud's chemistry set.

I found that black over-the-door organizer at Walmart at the end of the summer when they had all their "going to college" stuff out. It holds baggies of pom poms, foam letters, wooden shapes, sponge shapes, yarn, and other craft embellishments.

Ahh. Organization. Happiness. I'd like to add some shelves down the one side of the closet for easier reachability. (Yes, it's a word.) There's a lot of wasted space. But I need to live with it for awhile to see exactly what I want. There may be an update coming eventually.

What's your trick to organizing kids craft supplies? And do they actually keep it organized?

 

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Organization

Fighting Consumerism

Like many most families, our budget is tight. Especially this time of year, when Christmas wish lists are in full swing, and any store you visit has Christmas things spilling out of every aisle. There are new fliers and catalogs in the mail every day with sales and coupons galore, pushing us to buy and buy now.

I am a stay-at-home-mom and currently bring in $0 toward our family budget. But I'm also the one who does most of the spending. So I feel a huge responsibility to purchase wisely for things we need, and not get sucked into the pressures of consumerism. As luck would have it, both of our cars recently needed major work within one week of each other, leaving us out several grand. To say that we are on a "spending freeze" is an understatement. I'm making it a personal challenge - a game. Let's see how little I can spend and only purchase the necessities for my family of five. Game on.

Just the other morning, I had to go to Walmart to pick up 2 things: pull-ups and soap. Pretty essential. Unless I want to wash sheets every morning. Which I do not. I purposely did not get a cart or a basket. And I took the most direct route to the things I needed, not stopping to browse. I was on mission. Literally in and out in under 5 minutes, with only the 2 items on my list. I will admit to feeling a bit proud of myself as I walked back to my car.

However, a few stores down was Michael's. One of my weak spots. And they had a bunch of fall things out on the sidewalk displayed for 90% off! Oooh - I could pick up a few things for next fall for next to nothing! Giddiness set in and there was a great parking spot waiting for me. Before I even turned the car off, I stopped myself. Do I need more fall decor stuff? (YES!) No. Not really. We had a perfectly nice display this year that would be perfectly nice next year too.

I fought it.

90% off. Oh, it was hard!

But I pulled out of the parking lot, knowing that "they" did not win today.

Point for me.

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Family

About Susan

Susan I am a stay-at-home mom with three great kids, a fabulous husband, a cat, and a dog. I enjoy making things (but not cooking), painting, rearranging furniture (that one is genetic), organizing, purging, and most things DIY. Thanks for stopping by! More »