Archive for December, 2012


If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s holiday decorations, and every year it’s the same story – I wander around Pottery Barn, Target, Crate and Barrel and just about every other store longing for it ALL, but I have to determine the difference between wants and needs and I usually end up filling a cart or basket, and then putting it all back – it’s a curse!  Every year though, there are a few that make the cut, and this year these things did and I am pretty happy with my purchases, I must say.  The mantle is a collection of trees I already had, and some new ones (the tall white ones on the right) I found at Cost Plus, along with some new real maple votives I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine and just had to have (they’re from saveoncrafts.com).  The Noel sign is new this year from Target – love.


I also found these three little wreaths at Harvest to hang from our three barstools now that we have a kitchen counter to eat at – eventually I’ll get nicer ribbon but twine works for now.


And lastly, I saw these little houses in the catalog from Ballard Designs and couldn’t resist.  They hold tea lights and are just simple and whimsical enough for my taste (I’m not really a fan of the more ornamental detailed ones).  I am really in love with their simplicity and they look beautiful when lit.


So I think I’m done with new holiday decor for this year and will be trying VERY hard to resist any more temptation!

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ornaments3Today was probably the most labor intensive day we’ll have, but also (I think) one of the most fun.  I wanted to think of a new way to make ornaments so we don’t end up with a bunch of similar ones year after year, so I found this cute idea on Pinterest (where else!) and adjusted it a bit to be more kid friendly.  Just cut out matching shapes from felt (I used cookie cutters I had to cut out stars, trees, ornament shapes and mittens), so each ornament has two sides, then have your kids decorate one or both sides with whatever you can think of.


We glued on rhine stones since my daughter is obsessed with anything sparkly, but you could also use fabric paint or other little decorations of any kind.


When both sides are done, just sew them together with a basic row stitch, put in a bit of fluff or cotton to bulk them up a tad, and put in a knotted ribbon to hang it with at the very end.  I have literally never sewn before, and even I was able to figure this out with minimal effort.  They actually turned out really cute!!  We made a few for our friends down the street so I wrote their names and the year on the back with glitter glue.  I just love how handmade they look!


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santa letter1Day 4 on our advent calendar was to write a letter to Santa!  She did a great job writing and then decorated it with stickers and a new rainbow crayon she had gotten for her birthday (which I think is pretty much the coolest thing ever).

santa letter2

Her final letter read:

“Dear Santa

1. Dress Ups

2. Wizard of Oz Movie


santa letter3

Then we gave it to Chippie (our elf) to deliver tonight 🙂

santa letter4

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hot choc1

I made a little advent calendar to hang in my daughters’ room, with each day having a little activity inside.  Most are crafts and such, but a few are treats, and today’s was “hot chocolate with marshmallows!”.  There’s no better time for cozy, warm hot chocolate than the holidays, right?  I tried to make it a little more special by getting these sweet little gingerbread man marshmallows I spotted at Safeway – they were a huge hit!  Just look at that look on her face before they go into her mouth, hahaha.   I like to make my own hot chocolate mix since it’s ridiculously easy and doesn’t have any fake stuff in it, plus it tastes waaaaaay better.  Recipe is below!

hot choc3

Hot Chocolate Mix:

  • 1 part cocoa powder
  • 2 parts white sugar
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)

Just put everything together in a container and mix!  How much easier can you get??  Just note that cocoa powder doesn’t dissolve easily, so this won’t work for cold milk.   When you stir into your hot milk, make sure to get rid of all the lumps before drinking.  Trust me, once you do this, you will never go back to store bought hot chocolate!

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decorate tree2

 By far, my favorite thing about Christmas is listening to holiday music and decorating the tree, each ornament like it’s own little gift tucked away in tissue paper that conjures up memories of Christmases past.  This was the first year A. could really help, and she loved it, oohing and ahhing over almost every one.  Of course any that were remotely pink, purple or sparkly were instant favorites.

decorate tree1

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where is my child?

Oh, there she is… lying on the floor in the corner of the dining room – duh.IMG_5425

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advent cal

I’m trying REALLY hard not to spend too much money on frivolous things these days – I think it’s important that kids grow up valuing the things they have and enjoying experiences more than things, so the idea of an advent calendar that didn’t include only gifts and/or treats really appealed to me.  I also wanted to keep things simple, to also reiterate that just because there are no bells and whistles (or glitter, sequins, monograms or flashing lights) doesn’t mean something great can’t come from it.  So I made a little advent calendar using 5 relatively inexpensive things:

  1. mini kraft paper envelopes
  2. red & white bakers twine
  3. mini clothes pins
  4. label paper
  5. card stock

Then I put together a list of 24 things I wanted to do for the holidays with my girls – most are experiences or crafts, but of course there are a few treats and goodies mixed in.  Overall I think it’s a great balance at providing family time together and making memories rather than just giving them more toys they don’t need or too many sweets, and didn’t cost a ton of money.  So here’s a run down of our list for this year:

  1. New Christmas games (this is a computer program my mom gets for us every year that has little interactive holiday games and puzzles, so day one was loading these onto our computer)
  2. Decorate the tree
  3. Hot chocolate with marshmallows!
  4. Write a letter to Santa
  5. Make Christmas puppets (using brown paper lunch bags and other supplies)
  6. Watch a Christmas movie
  7. Pick out holiday books at the library
  8. Make ornaments
  9. Look under mommy’s bed (I hid a new ornament under my bed for her to find that I knew she’d love)
  10. Candy Canes!
  11. Decorate the front door (our front door has a big glass panel on it so we always make something to hang there for holidays)
  12. Make Christmas cards for our family
  13. Bring gifts to teachers
  14. Drop off gifts at the Salvation Army
  15. Reindeer craft
  16. Make Christmas cookies
  17. Bring cookies to neighbors
  18. Indoor snowball fight!  (I made “snowballs” with a bunch of cotton balls)
  19. Look in mommy’s closet (I hid holiday stickers in my closet)
  20. Snowman craft
  21. Take a drive and see the lights
  22. Christmas jammies!
  23. Make gingerbread houses
  24. Open ONE present

We’re on day 3 now and already it’s a big hit – I can’t wait to do this every year and see how it evolves.

Printable files for the labels are here:

1-12: advent labels 1

13-24: advent labels 2

Happy Holidays!

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