Countdown to Christmas
Earlier this week, I shared some of my favorite Advent Calendars from across the interwebs. Today, I’m going to share a meaningful activity that will inspire the whole family to focus on the spirit of the season.
This shop, How to Host the Ultimate Thanksgathering, has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Prep4Gathering #CollectiveBias
Thanksgiving is just days away, and with it comes the anticipation and joy of the holiday season, and the task of hosting the family gathering.
I think a lot of families, mine included, are a lot like fudge – sweet, with a lot of nuts! It certainly makes for some interesting holidays, but that’s no reason to stress about your upcoming hostess gig.
Prep like a pro with these simple, yet impactful tips for being the hostess with the mostess at your upcoming Thanksgathering celebration.
I know, I know! Halloween is barely over and I’m already talking Christmas. But it’s already time to start getting plans locked in for Christmas cards! It happens every year: photographers pack their schedules for the holiday rush as families procrastinate and, inevitably, miss the card ordering window. Keep reading for 10 inspiring Christmas card ideas you should totally steal, AND a free Christmas Card template to get you started!
A big thanks to the team at JORD Wood Watches for the wrist upgrade, and for sponsoring this post.
Halloween has come and gone,and the holiday season is officially here – according to retailers and advertisers. As a prequel to the holiday prep that is soon to come here on the blog and elsewhere, today I’m taking a moment to talk about the best gift we can give to each other, all year long: the gift of time.
You see, sometimes I get so focused on task lists, places to go, and whatever Google calendar says I need to get done, that I forget to slow down and savor the moments. Yes, even my #366 project, designed to help me stay in the moment, turns into a chore at times.
Case in point: A few weeks ago, my husband and I took the family to our favorite pumpkin patch. The weather was miserable, the ground was super muddy, and the place was crowded. I found myself rushing the kids through our traditions: running through the maze, picking out the perfect pumpkin, and of course, the requisite photos. When we got back to the car with our finds, I felt guilty. In my selfish effort to get past my own discomforts and cross the task off my checklist, I’d rushed everyone through the motions. I declared a do-over.
Sharing the love on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a huge investment. This year we started a new family tradition: love notes to each other. Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day, one family member wakes up to balloons in his or her room. Each balloon has a sweet note from another family member.
It’s that time of year again – when bathing suit season looms a little closer and we start resolving to treat our bodies a little better. I like to have lots and lots of recipes in our rotation because
we I get bored easily, so I’m always on the hunt for new, healthy recipes our whole family will enjoy. In that spirit, I’m sharing a round-up of some of our family favorites. Enjoy!
Years ago I hand sewed a Christmas Tree Advent Calendar, which has become such a sweet tradition for our family. Ever since I was a young child, I absolutely loved Advent Calendars – usually the perforated paper variety in our home – to count down the days until Christmas. The anticipation was overwhelming each year.
I wanted to have that same tradition in our family – and I wanted to create something we could use year after year. I stumbled across this sweet calendar by Stitch Craft Creations. I fell madly in love with this idea and got to work, using her calendar as my guide.
I’ve never met anyone who has said, “I WISH I didn’t have SO MANY PHOTOS from when the children were young.” Or, “We have too many photos! We simply must GET RID of all these.”
In fact, in a very unofficial poll of some of my closest friends, the #1 or #2 “thing” they would save in a house fire would be printed photos, hard drives and/or memory cards of photos.
That’s why I’m very passionate about capturing my children during these fast moving years, where each day brings a new milestone:
I’m a huge advocate for getting professional family photos taken each year. I’m all for posed-looking-at-the-camera-smiling photos.
But it’s these moments. These little everyday occasions that I look upon and I remember.
That’s why I’m so excited to join SHOOT 2016. It’s a year-long photography program that helps parents learn to take beautiful pictures of their families, with the help of photographers Amy Tripple & Heidi Peters.
Every week, members receive an email introducing them to a new photography concept or skill to practice with an instructional editing video. Membership includes access to a private online community forum for helpful suggestions, sharing and feedback (and friendship!).
You don’t have to have a fancy camera to participate – SHOOT 2016 is available for those with a DSLR and one for those using a smartphone camera.
Will you join me? Registration ends December 31, so hurry and register now!
This is one of my favorite projects to date – also the easiest and least expensive: the children’s artwork display located in our Family Command Center – otherwise known as the mud room.
I wanted plenty of space where the children could hang their artwork and good grades with pride, without that messy cluttered look on the fridge. It also needed to be really flat to the wall, since the area I’d designated is in a space the width of a hallway.
Here’s how I did it:
As for the rest of our family mud room command center, it’s still a work in progress. I have dreams for this space!
I found that sign at the thrift store. I think it was from a hotel long ago. I just love it!
What do you think of my low-tech art center for the kids?
I recently posted a photo of our family room on Instagram and got lots of notes asking me about the space. I had friends tell me it looked like something out of a magazine. What a compliment!
I was really surprised by the reaction I got, though. The truth is, anyone can make a space look amazing in just one photograph. Our home is a work in progress. Most of our home is not decorated. I finish little areas of a room and wait to finish the rest of the space as inspiration strikes me. That means there are uglier areas of the room that don’t get shown in photos – like the comfortable, oversized, slightly worn leather chair the corner where it doesn’t quite fit. The lamps that don’t quite match but that continue to live on in the room until I find the perfect lights that fit my budget.
I’m not very confident as a decorator, so I just go by my gut feeling. If I put a rug in the space and I find that I don’t feel comfortable, it’s not the right fit for me. If I put a wild throw pillow on the couch and it makes me want to sit down and enjoy the space – it was the right design choice for me.
Here are the design tips I follow in my home:
Planning our annual family photos is always a feat in coordination, especially when we’re trying to do it on a budget. Here’s what I came up with for this year’s photos, using many items we already had on hand…with just a few purchases. 🙂
Like this look for your family? Shop the look here:
Need more wardrobe inspiration? Check out more Christmas Card Family Photo Wardrobe ideas here.
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In addition to the fab blogs in the right sidebar, this was also linked up at Tatertots and Jello,Savvy Southern Style, Live, Laugh Rowe, Nap Time Creations The Turquoise Home, Elizabeth and Co. Vintage and The Scoop.
At our home, we don’t really “do” spooky Halloween. We do fun, dress-up, eat lots of sweets Halloween. So this year, I thought it would be fun to make a pumpkin representing each member of our family that we could bring back out year after year – in addition to carving Jack-O-Lanterns in real pumpkins, of course.
My local JoAnn’s store is moving, so they are having some crazy sales right now! That allowed me to buy these carvable foam pumpkins and supplies for a steal!
For ‘Belle, we chose to do a Frozen themed pumpkin because she’s straight-up obsessed. I didn’t have any craft snowkflakes on hand, so I’m thinking it ended up a bit more Cinderella, right? Regardless, it’s perfect for this little girl who loves to dress up and play princess every. single. day.
To make it, I used Krylon aqua matte spray paint to pain a white craft pumpkin. I then used Krylon opulent opal glitter spray paint on top. I was super bummed with this though. It was gorgeous going on, but within moments it stopped working. I figured the glitter was clogging the nozzle and I tried multiple solutions to no avail. What a waste!
I went back and purchased Krylon glitter blast diamond dust spray paint. It was also beautiful and the can worked much better. How pretty this would have been combined with more of the opal glitter spray! I topped it with self-stick rhinestone gems and one of the girls’ princess tiaras.
For Eve, we went the Hello Kitty route. I don’t know what it is about this cat. She’s never seen a Hello Kitty cartoon, but she loves it. For this pumpkin, I just printed a Hello Kitty on my printer and placed it over clear contact paper to use as a stencil. Then, I simply painted the face with black and pink acrylic paint and topped with one of the girls’ hair bows.
For Dub, I had to go the Minecraft route. I bought a black craft pumpkin, carved out a square hole and painted the inside green with Krylon emerald green spray paint. I then printed out a Creeper face on the printer, placed it on clear contact paper and cut it out to use as a stencil. I then placed it inside the dry pumpkin and painted the Creeeper face with black acrylic paint.
For my pumpkin, I just picked up this black studded pumpkin from JoAnn’s I just love it!
For my husband, well…
What do you think of our no-carve Family Halloween Pumpkins?
Several weeks ago, we decided to have a little family house dedication on our new home under construction by writing verses that held meaning and hope for our family. I love the idea that as we walk through the finished rooms of our home in just a few months, we’ll remember the verses written on the foundation of each room we enter. And, maybe someday many, many years from now, a different family might have occasion to see the blessings written by us under the carpet or on the wall studs. Today I’m sharing inspirational bible verses for a new home dedication.
Here are some of the verses we chose:
Entrances: You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. Deuteronomy 28:6
Kitchen: Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8
Dining room: Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14
Office: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23
Stairs: In his heart a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Basement: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. Matthew 7:24
Master Bedroom: And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14
Master closet: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you. Bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Proverbs 3:14
Strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 21:25-26
The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-25
Kid’s bathroom: It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This beauty will never disappear and is worth much more to God. 1 Peter 3:3-4
You don’t have to be building a new house to apply this concept to your home. You can write verses during a renovation, or on the walls before you re-paint, or on the floors when you replace carpet or flooring. Or, of course, add scripture out where everyone can see it in your home. Here is some inspiration:
I love Proverbs 31 art for a girl’s room:
I also really like the idea of hanging a chalkboard where you can update your verses weekly so they don’t start to fade into the scenery, like decor that hangs year-round (see my DIY upcycled chalkboard here).
What are your favorite bible verses for a new home dedication? Please share them in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas!
Looking for more inspiration? You might like these ideas:
We recently made the decision to sell our “starter” home and build a new home that better accommodates our growing family. We bought this home just months before our wedding, had three babies here and many, many precious memories as a family. We’re ready for the next chapter, but this sentimental mom is feeling a bit emotional about it, as well.
The moment we signed the papers to build our new home I was immediately motivated to take on a project I’ve been meaning to for a long time – make a family growth chart that we can take with us – wherever we go. Our former growth chart was done the old fashioned way – with pencil on the wall of our kitchen (that I still can’t bring myself to paint over even since I’ve made this beautiful new chart).
I’d once tried my hand at an embroidered chart that was supposed to be cute and charming, but didn’t end up looking quite as polished as my inspiration. I also found that I was too lazy to embroider once a year. My laziness factor is high.
So I moved on to those cute reclaimed signs I’ve seen all over Pinterest.
I started with a 3/4″x7″x8′ piece of cedar lumber that I purchased at Home Depot for less than $9. First, I enlisted Dub to weather it for me. I gave him chains and a hammer and let him have at it. I stained it with leftover stain that I used on our stairs for our garage makeover.
From there, I had to get measuring – my least favorite part. Our family is really tall, so I cut my board to 6′ tall and painted 1′ white stripes using leftover paint from the garage makeover. These are some terrible progress photos, but you get the idea.
I actually liked the way this looked when I was done, but I went ahead and sanded it to give it a more distressed look.
Then, I used my silhouette to create the measurement marks. I barely use my Silhouette but I used it for this, figuring it would make the measuring much easier for me. I measured it on the computer, cut it out on the Silhouette and then used transfer paper to stick it right on the board without having to re-measure.
I’m super happy with the way that it turned out! I can’t wait to hang this measurement chart in our new home next year. I can see keeping this chart in our home forever, and measuring little grandbabies someday.
Postscript: after completing my chart, I stumbled upon this cute version by Handmade Charlotte
If I had to do it over again, I think her way of painting the numbers would be a lot cheaper and easier. However, I’d still want to make the measurement marks so that I could tell visually exactly how tall the kids are. Everytime they get measured they want to know EXACTLY how many feet, inches and centimeters tall they are. Because that matters to 4 and 6 year olds.
What do you think? Do you have a family growth chart in your home?
We’ve established that I’m a big fan of ice cream. But, cake. Oh how I love cake, too! Eve chose Birthday Cake ice cream as one of her flavors for our ice cream truck and it didn’t take me any convincing to agree. I set to work researching recipes, but yet again found that most recipes called for eggs, which was not what I was going for.
So took my favorite ideas from the interwebs, then adapted a basic vanilla ice cream recipe to create this fabulous birthday explosion for the tastebuds.
What you’ll need:
What to do:
*No ice cream maker? No problem. Freeze the chilled liquid mixture for 2-4 hours or until slightly thickened/frozen and then gently stir in the cake cubes and sprinkles. Chill overnight.
YUM! Your kids will beg you to make this recipe again and again. I hope you enjoy this recipe! Please tell me what you think in the comments below.
I just love the tasted of malted milk powder! As a kid, my mom would often top plain vanilla ice cream with sprinkling of this powder, and our favorite ice cream shop in town had a popular malt with 2x the malt powder. Yum!
I wanted to introduce my kids to the same flavor, so when we came up with the idea to create our own ice cream truck, I went on the search for a good Malted Milk Ball ice cream. Unfortunately every recipe I found included eggs, which I didn’t want to mess with. So, I came up with the following recipe using our Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker*.
What you’ll need:
What to do:
The result? Amaze-
What do you think? Are you a fan of Malted Milk Ball ice cream? I’d love to hear your favorite ice cream flavor in the comments below.
*No ice cream maker? No problem. Once you’ve reached step five, simply put the container in the freezer for 2 hours or until it begins to freeze slightly. Stir in the malted milk balls and stir after another hour to evenly distribute, if necessary.
Dub has the heart of an entrepreneur. And marketer. He’s always saying things like, “I want to open a restaurant and name it ____,” or, “I wish I was old enough to start my own ______ business.” I love this quality about him, so this summer I wanted to show him that he can bring his ideas to life.
We chose to hone his kidpreneurial ambitions through his dream of owning an ice cream truck because,
his mom really likes ice cream what better timing than summer? He immediately knew he would name it “The Scoop” and his pitch would be “Get a scoop, double scoop at The Scoop!” I encouraged him and Eve to brainstorm some ice cream flavors. They each came up with two ideas and we’ve been enthusiastically experimenting to finalize our menu.
Today we landed on our first unanimous winner. It’s a frozen yogurt that’s just as tasty as ice cream, with a super-sweet cookie flavor blast for the tastebuds.
For those of you who have asked where I got the ice cream container, I found it on a clearance shelf at TJ Maxx, but you can also buy it online in several colors on Amazon. I’m going to buy several so I can have several flavors sitting in my freezer at once 🙂
Looking for custom decorations for your child’s room or nursery? It’s super cheap and easy to design a custom silhouette in Adobe PhotoShop, and today I’m showing you how.
My daughters share their bedroom, so I wanted to create silhouettes that would match the room but would be a bit unique. I created a digital background using colors from their toile bedding accents:
Here is my result, but you don’t have to create your own custom background to make this work. You can find lots of super cute digital scrapbook paper on Etsy that would be perfect for this project.
Next, I took profile pictures of each of the girls. This does not have to be a high quality photo; in fact, my camera phone snaps leave very little to be desired! All you need is to be able to see the profile of their face – the nose, lips and eyes.
Next, I opened it in PhotoShop, clicked on my selection tool, and got to work outlining her head, neck and shoulders.
Once I was happy with what I selected, I hit Command + J to duplicate just that selected area.
Next, I wanted to fill it with a color that matched the background. I hit Edit + Fill and chose a color from the background.
Then, I simply dragged this image onto my original file with the custom background. You’ll notice a lot of bumps and jagged edges on her silhouette, so I used a hard eraser to smooth out the edges.
Finally, I added their names using Jellyka Delicious Cake font. I had it printed by a professional photography lab, but you can also have it printed at Shutterfly for $7.99
To finish this project, I framed it in a very inexpensive wood cutout that I found at Michael’s for $3.99 on sale (or just $4.79 after using a 40% off coupon). I spray painted it in a high reflective shine metallic gold spray paint by Rust-Oleum.
I used Command Picture Hanging Strips for a non-committal way of affixing them to the wall. I love these!
Here’s the final hanging in the girls’ tiny shared room:
There you have it – a custom framed print for less than $13. Have you created a custom silhouette before? Tell us about it in the comments below, and feel free to link to your project.
This post was linked up at Remodelaholic.
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This summer is the first summer I’ll be at home most days with the kids since I started my freelance adventure last fall. My 6 and 4 year old are bright, exuberant kids and I knew I’d have to add structure their days if I wanted any sanity. However, with my freelance work I don’t have the ability to be there every moment to guide their day (and who would want to?). It’s also great for fostering their independence as well.
I went to work trying to find chore charts, but none of them were quite right. My 4 year old can’t read the text chore charts, and many of the picture charts were geared toward very little children, or had unattractive graphics.
After doing some research I landed on four requirements:
I landed on the concept of a magnetic chart with two categories: “Doing” and “Done.” I saw a few examples that I liked and got to work emulating those based on my needs. However, I needed clip art. It was SO hard to find cute clip art that would work for this! That’s when I stumbled upon Audrey Schilaty‘s blog. She had the exact chart I wanted – for free! Really, it’s the nicest free resource I’ve found. She offers both personal care and chore images, and I used a small combination of both (sad but true: I forget to have my children brush their teeth all to often).
I made it my own with a few modifications:
The kids woke up the first day and had moved two magnets over before I had a chance to remind them about it! So far, it’s been a great success.
I encourage everyone to check out Audrey’s great blog. And, if you’d like a copy of the 1-page version of the printable I used to create my chart using her images, just click the image below!
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I was sooo excited to recently be chosen for the PlaySkool ShowCam Bzz Campaign. A Bzz Campaign is a program through BzzAgent that sends free products and coupons to people to let them try it out, harnessing the most powerful form of marketing there is right now – word of mouth.
As soon as we got the box, I knew how I wanted to introduce this to the kids. Sunday morning we grabbed donuts and went to a local park where I brought my own camera to take a few snapshots of the family fun. I sent them on a picture scavenger hunt and let them snap away.
Now I should mention, I was surprised upon opening the packaging that there were absolutely no instructions inside. So we popped the batteries in and found that it was pretty intuitive to operate. Just a little testing of the buttons to figure out what-was-what, and we were off and running.
A cool feature of this camera is the in-picture templates. You can make your subject a pirate, ballerina, dragon, skunk…all sorts of fun things!
When we got home, we all watched the pictures through one of the camera’s coolest features – the projector. They loved this and were delighted when the in-picture templates played animations along to music. They watched them over and over…until a fight ensued about whose turn it was to play with the camera.
This camera is lightweight and made of plastic, yet it seems reasonably durable. I see lots and lots of fun with this toy in our future.
Our annual family photos are coming up quickly in just a few weeks – and I have been putting off the decision of what to wear. I normally have a vision and this time…I just don’t. Which is your favorite wardrobe theme?
One of our favorite birthday traditions? Homemade ice cream. So, what better theme for Eve’s July birthday than ice cream? Of course, we made our favorite homemade ice cream, with just a few drops of lemon extract added to the recipe. Yum!
We had just a simple gathering at Grandma and Grandmpa’s. We decorated using the decorations we invested in for her first birthday: vintage bunting, photo centerpieces, and a homemade chair cover.
I whipped up a batch of plain ol’ boxed mix cupcakes, and decorated them using my Pampered Chef Decorator Bottle Set, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips and maraschino cherries. For the main cake, I used three of the cupcake “scoops” of ice cream because it was her third birthday. The kids absolutely loved these!
What do you think of the ice cream birthday party theme? If you’re a fan, check out my birthday Pinterest board for more ideas and inspiration.
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