Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog Challenge Day 8

Today's topic: Least Favorite Thing About the Holidays

This one is easy for me: It goes by too fast!  There is so much work that goes into prepping for Christmas: decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping, attending various parties, etc... and it just all seems to be over right after I got set up for it!

The anticipation leading up to Christmas is amazing for me!  Then, in a blink of an eye, the gifts are torn open, the meal is eaten, and the day is over.  I always feel a little bit deflated after it is all over.  It's the one time of year that I wish could last and last (okay, besides summer...).  I'm really trying to soak it all in this year!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Blog Challenge Day 7

Today's Topic: Holiday DYI Crafts.  I've been looking forward to this one because I'm pretty handy with my sewing machine and trusty hot glue gun! ;-)

I've seen the deco mesh wreaths everywhere recently: blogs, craft shows, boutiques....  They are lovely, but I'm just not willing to pay $100+ for a wreath.  So, I decided to try and make them myself. 

This is one that I made for my mom.  I used an articifical pine wreath as the base and attached my mesh and other embellishments to it.  Easy peasy!

This is the one I made for myself.  I used a wired wreath form for this one.  I think I should have used more mesh or wrapped the wreath form in ribbon because it shows through a little. 

A close-up of the cute sign I found at Michael's.  It was meant to go on a banner,  but I thought it would look perfect on my wreath.

Another craft I've made recently is a glittered styrofoam ball tree topper.  I saw this idea from a Martha Stewart show.  Here's the LINK with step-by-step instructions.

I had trouble getting a clear picture of this one.  I added a few more things so it looks better in real life.  I did mine a little differently than the Martha Stewart version.  I put my balls and ornaments on bamboo skewers and wired them together. 

One more!  This isn't really a craft, it's clothing.  But I made it myself and it's Christmas themed, so I thought I would include it.

Applique Shirt and Double Ruffle Jeans (modeled by my sweet Abby).

I made my own applique by tracing & cutting out a tree shape on different fabrics and adhering them to a paper-backed fusible web.  Then I ironed it onto the shirt, stitched around with a think zigzag stitch, and embellished with fabric covered buttons and a bow. 

The ruffle jeans are simple to do.  I just made my ruffles out of fabric and sewed them on.  I topstitched around each ruffle to make sure that they laid right. 

These are a few crafts I've done recently.  I can't wait to see what everyone else is making!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blog Challege Day 6

It's Day 6 of the Blog Challenge, and the topic today is Gift Ideas for You.  My sweet hubby Casey is no slouch in the gift department, and I usually come out with a pretty nice haul at Christmas time.  Since I just got a new camera for our anniversary in October, I don't have a lot of big ticket items on my list.  I would be pleased as punch to receive any one of these items!

Project Life.  I love to scrapbook, but it is time-consuming and time is something I'm usually pretty short on.  This is a pre-designed kit that you just add your pictures and stories too.  It's at the top of my list!

Clinique Happy.  This has been my "signature" fragrance for years, and I usually always get some for Christmas. 

Handstamped Necklace from The Rusted Chain.  I love this necklace.  And you can add gems like coral or turquoise to jazz it up even more!

Embellish Your Story by Demdaco.  This is a magnetic base with cute little magnets.  I saw this at the silent auction at my daughter's fall bash.  Apparently it's been around for a while, but it is new to me.  It would look great in my kitchen!

Hearthside Slippers from L.L. Bean.  I love slippers and these look so comfortable.  The only problem I have is trying to decide which color I like the most!

Honestly, I would be pleased to get anything from my sweet family.  I always get great, meaningful gifts.  The ones I love the most are the homemade, heartfelt ones.  My sweet Abby has given me some really special homemade things that I'll cherish forever.  My mama is very crafty and has made me some wonderful things.  I'm blessed!  Despite my long list, I actually take much more pleasure in giving than receiving!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blog Challenge Day 5

It's Day 5 of the Christmas Blog Challenge, and the theme is Favorite Holiday Movies.  Since I'm the BIGGEST Christmas movie-watcher ever (including cartoons, sshhhh.....) I could never narrow this down to just one, so I'll have to give you my Top 10.

A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I grew up watching this and still love it.  It is a classic.  My kids (especially Abigail) love Charlie Brown and Snoopy, so this is a family favorite in my house.

The Polar Express.  This movie is just magical.  We watch this throughout the holiday season and always on Christmas Eve.  Lubbock, Texas (2 hours south of here) offers the Polar Express Train Ride which is inspired by the movie.  My friend Kathy took her 2 kids and really enjoyed it, so I am planning on taking my kiddos when Wyatt gets a little older.

A Christmas Story.  This has long been one of my husband's favorites, and I love it too.  We watch it together every year.

Frosty the Snowman.  Another one that I grew up watching and that my kiddos love too.  I find myself DVRing these specials so that "the kids can watch them" but I'm usually the one glued to the screen!

Elf.  "I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops...".  This one is too funny to miss!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  I love both the cartoon version as well as the Jim Carrey version, but my kids prefer the cartoon.  I'm always happy at the end when the Grinch discovers what it's all about!

The Santa Clause.  I love this one!  Abigail is getting old enough that I think she will enjoy it too. 

Home Alone.  I cannot believe this movie came out in 1990 (I had to look it up).  I remember this first coming out like it was yesterday.  One of my all-time favorites!

Miracle on 34th Street.  This is on my "must watch" list every year.  A classic.

It's a Wonderful Life.  If I was forced to pick just one movie to watch every year around Christmas, I think this one would be it.  This is a great one. 

Happy viewing!!

Here We Go Again...

I posted a blog post a while back documenting Wyatt's adventurous take on fashion.  You may remember the "chapeau sous-vetements" or underwear hat.  Well, it's back...but this time it has doubled up.  I introduce you to the "chapeau sous double" or double underwear hat.

This is how I find him after his nap frequently.  He'll be in his bed asleep with underwear on his head and his pajamas off.  Sometimes I find him with his footed pajamas and cowboys boots on.  I think he has a party in his room at naptime!

A view of this fashionable hat from the back. (Yes, that is a saggy, baggy diaper...he just woke up!)

If only I could get him to put the underwear on his bottom instead of his head and start using the potty, I would be golden!!

P.S.- This is one fashion that I hope does not take off anytime soon.
P.S.S.- My French translations came straight from Google Language Tools, so if they are wrong I apologize!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday 2010

(Cue horror music...dun, dun, dun)

Okay, it wasn't TOO bad, but it wasn't exactly a relaxing shopping experience either. ;)  I was one of those (crazy) people who tried to go to Toys r Us at 10pm last night.  I live in Amarillo, Texas which could be considered a small/mid-sized city (approx. 200,000).  I can't imagine what large cities must be like.  The stuff of nightmares?

It was chaos.  All good sense went out the window and flew away.  I didn't even bother getting out of my car and instead drove straight to Wally World.  (I did end up back at Toys r Us, but we'll get to that in a minute)  Since the Walmart sale didn't start until 12:01am, I just loaded up my basket with the things on my list and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  By some stroke of good fortune, a lane opened up while I was standing in the longest line ever, and I ended up second in line.  I was out of Walmart by 12:06am.  Hallelujah!!

I decided to try Toys r Us again at this point.  It had calmed down some but was still very packed.  I found most of what was left on my list but a couple of things were sold out.  The checkout line was an entity all of its own.  It started at the back of the store and weaved through each and every center aisle.  I asked myself several times, "What in the WORLD am I doing here"!?!  I rarely go to Black Friday but this year something possessed me to go. 

I have to admit that I broke one of my rules for Black Friday shopping.  I went alone.  All of my family had already left to go back home after Thanksgiving dinner and the hubs stayed home with the kids (thank goodness ;) ).  However, I stood by my rule of being nice and kind regardless of how ugly other people get.  I made friends with the people directly around me in line.  Since we were there for so long, we learned a lot about each other.  I let people store stuff in my basket until checkout.  It makes it so much easier when people are nice!

I also did some online shopping at Kohl's.com and the Rusted Chain.  This took care of the adults on my list.
So even though my feet are sore and I feel like I'm about 200 years old, my Christmas shopping is done!  And I saved a pretty penny by joining the (cRaZy) masses at Black Friday.

Blog Challenge Day 4

Today's topic: Tips for a Budget Friendy Holiday.  I am really budget-conscious but it seems like this is the one time of year that gets really expensive.  There are so many holiday get-togethers plus we have several people to buy for.  Here is my list of tips that I try really hard to stick to:

1. Make a list and budget.  Before I even think of shopping, I make out a list of who I am buying for and how much I can spend on each person.  Sometimes I go over...but I try not to.  However, I do not spend more that I can actually afford.  Don't go into debt for "stuff"!

2. Shop sales.  Competition among retailers is fierce during the holiday season, so that benefits us as consumers.  I really try to comparison shop to get the best deal.

3. Consider homemade gifts.  I love to bake and sew, so I have been able to make some pretty nice gifts for people and save lots of money at the same time.  (Note: Sometimes saving money means spending precious time)  This is a good time to utilize your talents to save a little cash!

4. Save a little at a time.  It's always smart to put back a little money in the months and weeks leading up to your shopping excursion. 

5. Remember what it's all about.  I feel sad for people who get too wrapped up in acquiring material things during the holiday season.  Keep your priorities in line.  To me, the holiday season is about spending time with family and spreading good cheer.  It's great to give nice gifts but it is definitely not the most important thing. 

6. Donate.  Whether it's time or money, don't forget to budget in something for those in need.  Count your blessings and help bless those who aren't as fortunate.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

It's Wednesday, so I'm linking up with sweet Jamie for WILW!  I'm on a baking/cooking frenzy because I'm hosting Thanksgiving in my home this year!

I'm loving that tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  I cannot wait to see my family (especially my sweet nephew whom I haven't since June!) and enjoy all the delicious food.

I'm loving that Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cheesecake will be on my dessert table tomorrow!  I hope mine turns out this pretty.

Black Honey Almost Lipstick by Clinique.  I love this stuff and have been using it for years.  The formula is so light and not at all sticky.  It claims to be a flattering shade on every skin tone.  I'm convinced!

A Fine Fete Necklace from Anthropologie.  How fun is this cute necklace!  I love the colorful little pennants.

Oregon Chai Latte Concentrate.  I love this stuff!  It's a concentrate that you just add milk to, and you get a delicious Chai Latte.  It's like pumpkin pie in a mug.  Our local coffee shop evens sells this brand!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Good luck to the brave souls who are shopping on Black Friday!

Blog Challenge Day 3

The topic today is "Best/Most Meaningful Gift You've Received".

I have received so many great gifts through the years: nice jewelry, expensive perfume, spa gift certificates, homemade gifts from my sweet and talented mama, etc… But one gift stands out as my absolute favorite, most heartfelt gift ever. 
A couple of years ago, my sweet Abby was in a Pre-K program at a local church.  Before Christmas her teachers took her class to the Dollar Tree to pick out gifts for their families.  Abby (knowing that I love candles and burn them all the time) picked out three little votive candles for me.  She made her own gift wrap and meticulously wrapped the candles.   She was SO proud to give these candles to me!

I have never burned these candles.  Instead, I proudly display them on the bookshelf in our living room.  I cherish them so much because it was the first time one of my children ever chose a gift for me all on their own and because she really thought about what I liked.  It still melts my heart to think about it!
She also put in a lot of thought with her daddy’s and Wyatt’s gift too.  She got Casey a tape measure (“because he likes tools”) and Wyatt some bibs (because he was only 6 months old at the time).  I will treasure that memory forever.  I’m proud to say that she stills thinks about others and puts a lot of effort into making and buying gifts for her family.  Sweet girl!
I can tell you that my idea of the “perfect” gift has changed dramatically since I’ve had children.  Who knew that three little dollar store candles would end up being my most “perfect” gift ever!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blog Challenge: Day 2

Today's topic is Black Friday/General Shopping Tips.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to navigating the crowds!

I have to admit that I have avoided Black Friday the past few years in exchange for Internet shopping and collecting gifts throughout the year.  There are a few items on my gift list this year that I could definitely save some money on if I shop Black Friday this year.  I’m still deciding if I will brave the crowds or not.  These are my shopping tips, good for all Christmas shopping not just Black Friday!

1.       Make your gift list: know who you are shopping for and how much you will spend.

2.       Gather the ads and make a game plan.  Figure out what stores are on your agenda and which ones you will hit first.

3.       Bring a shopping buddy.  Black Friday is no time to go it alone!

4.       Stick to your list, but set aside a little extra money for must have items not included on your list.

5.       Dress in layers.  Don’t bring a big, heavy parka: you will get hot and it will be a nuisance to tote around.  (I learned this the hard way one year)

6.       Don’t forget to swing by Starbucks!

7.       Most importantly, BE NICE!  I get absolutely disgusted when I read about people getting trampled to death over a material item.  Black Friday can bring out the worst in people, so try and spread a little good cheer around!

If you simply don't want to face the crowds on Black Friday, sleep in and shop online!! 

(All pictures taken from Google Images)

Have fun, find some great deals, and be safe!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge

I've only been blogging for a couple of months, so this is my first time to participate in a blog challenge.  I'm really excited, especially since it is Christmas themed!

I'm linking up with Molly at The Fuschia News!

Day 1: Christmas Traditions

I love having traditions, especially since I have children and hope they will one day continue our family traditions.  We have introduced a new tradition this year: The Elf on the Shelf.  I love this idea so much!  We adapted it just a little because my daughter Abby saw the little elf online and said that he was "scary".  Instead of buying the kit like I wanted to, I ended up finding a really cute "secret santa" elf and typed up a letter straight from the North Pole.  Our scout elf is named Charlie!

Another tradition we do every year is a gingerbread house.  I love letting the kids put them together and nibble on treats.  It is even more fun when you get some friends and their kiddos over as well!

I do lots of baking this time of year.  I make all kinds of cookies, cakes, and candies.  My specialities are Peppermint Bark and Chocolate Turtles.  I package up lots of treats and deliver them to friends!

We get a new personalized family Christmas ornament every year.  My husband's family started this when he was a little boy.  We have ornaments for every year since we've been together (12 years).

I participate in an ornament exchange every year with ladies from church.  It's so much fun, and I can't wait for it this year on December 11th!  Sometimes my friends and I have cookie exhanges too.

We let the kids open one gift on Christmas Eve, and we wait to open up all the rest (plus Santa's gifts) on Christmas Day.  Christmas Eve is a lot of fun around our house!  We make cookies for Santa, "reindeer food" so the reindeer can spot our house, and have all kinds of goodies.  We usually alternate between Mexican food and appetizers.  We always track Santa to find out where he is!

We have family movie/game night every Friday (regardless of the time of year), so we will be watching some of our favorites: The Polar Express, Charlie Brown's Christmas, A Christmas Story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, etc....  I make hot chocolate and some special little treat!

We drive around and look at Christmas lights several times throughout the holiday season.  Of course we have Christmas music playing in the background!

We love going to the Nutcracker but have missed a couple of years when the kids have been really young.  Abby and I went last year together and the boys stayed home.  We are doing it again this year, and when Wyatt is a little older, we'll all go as a family!

We used to always spend Christmas day at my parent's house, but since we've had our own children we always spend it here at home.  I prefer it that way.  We either have everyone to our home or we drive down before/after Christmas to spend with family. 

I am now so excited for Christmas, I can hardly stand it!!