Menu buttons


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Magic Elves - 2009

I introduced our Elves to you last year (see this post) and of course they are back for more fun this year. Kaitlyn could not wait for them to arrive and checked the porch for them first thing in the morning on Dec 1st. And most mornings since then, the first thing she does is find the elves (and clean up after them if necessary).
Some of the elf-capades include:
-wrapping each other in wrapping paper
-stealing the chocolate from the advent calendar
-hiding in the stockings with new coloring/activity pages for the kids
-riding on Katy's Barbie horses
-making snowflakes and hanging them from the ceiling

-getting stuck in the cereal box while trying to find something to eat
-writing all over the bathroom mirror with the dry erase markers
-wrapping up in blankets on the couch reading books, including a new book for the kids
-leaving post it notes all over the house with messages for the kids
-making "snow" angels in the kitchen using powdered sugar

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy List

You know those days where your brain and your emotions are telling you "I don't care what it is, today I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT!" That's the kind of day I had yesterday. I had reason to be having a rough day, oh yes I did. I've been dealing with a lot lately, including a sick toddler and very little sleep, and the stress from everything else in life was piling up I'm sure. I probably had a case of PMS too. :) And did I mention the part about Ty trying to be too independant and I found my ready-to-go-out Christmas cards in a puddle of spilled milk? Yup. The good news was that only 2 of the envelopes had to be replaced. But that was the part of the day, at barely 6:30 AM, where I just kind of crumbled and fell apart. I didn't know if I wanted to cry, scream and throw things, or just simply run away.

It took me a couple hours to get back on an even keel, struggling the whole time not to take my mood out on my sweet kiddos. Because goodness knows they didn't deserve it. A closer look at the milk debacle showed that my little guy had been trying to help. Not only had he decided to leave me alone and try to get his own drink, but I found a slice of bread at each of our places at the table and the peanut butter, honey, and bread knife ready and waiting. My 3 year old was making us breakfast! lol

Today, while thinking about how yesterday had gone, the concept of the Happy List came to mind. I remember reading a blog somewhere, months ago, about this list - a list of things that made the woman happy. She used this list when she was down to help herself get happy again. Because we all know that in the moment it's very hard to think about much more than just coping. But we also know that our moods and the way we handle each and every little situation has a profound effect on the rest of the day, and more importantly, on those little people around us. Being able to get past the frustration and regain our patience and positive outlook quickly is one of the most useful things we can do for ourselves. And that's where we need the list - to help us find/remember the fastest, easiest way to get happy when our lives are driving us crazy.

My list includes:
-a nice long soak in the tub (tried to hop in the shower yesterday to get a little time to myself and not 2 minutes later Ty was barging in, crying and complaining about his sister. So remember if one doesn't work, move on to another thing on the list)
-music. can't be unhappy when something upbeat and loud is begging me to sing along - or dance!
-talking it out with a friend over the phone, in person, or online
-walking away from it - to another room, getting out of the house alone, whatever it takes
-having my guardian angel (my mom) take the kids off my hands
-scheduling something FUN to give me something to look forward to. This usually involves Girl Time or Date Night.
-straightening up the house. I always feel better about life when I'm not staring at piles of clutter or stepping on toy cars.
-a big old hug from the husband, usually accompanied by me crying on his shoulder for a few minutes. He also knows to feed me chocolate :) True story! I was having a meltdown a few months ago (more than a year now probably), practically in tears because he had brought home Miracle Whip instead of mayo and I couldn't make dinner as planned. (a true PMS moment when emotions are just out of control for no reason. Isn't it funny that I am only now finding myself acting this way in recent years? It must have something to do with having kids right? RIGHT?!? Tell me I'm not the only crazy one!) So off to the store he went and came home with mayo and Hershey's kisses :) He also ratted me out to my mom, who had happened to be at the store. She called later to make sure I was doing ok.
-immersing myself in a good book
-taking a step back and remembering how much I love my little ones. Hugs and other gestures of affection from them are good too.

So what's on YOUR happy list?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Black and White Birthday

A good friend of mine just turned 30. She has 4 kids and her birthday just happens to be sandwiched in between 2 of the kids' birthdays. And thus - no big birthday bash for herself on her agenda. So we offered to do one for her!

We went with a black, white and red color scheme - it's a favorite for both of us - and just took it from there. It doesn't take much to throw a good party for adults - a few cute touches and good food and they pretty much entertain themselves.

The invitation:

-Happy 30th Birthday banner. I know we've seen these all over the place in blogland so of course I had to try one myself. Loved it! If I could get away with using it again for the next party I'm doing, I would. (my husband turns 30 in January. He'd like the black and white floral damask and polka dots right??)
For mine I used my largest circle cutter for the background, my scalloped circle Nestabilities for the mat, and just printed out the lettering from the computer and cut that into circles and layered them all together. Punched holes in each side of the circles and tied them together with ribbon and tulle.
-We wanted to do photo holders for centerpieces. And can you believe I couldn't find what I wanted ANYWHERE? But I did have all these leftover wooden cubes so we painted them up, added some patterned paper and had the hubby drill a few holes in the top. Then we took some wire (Home Depot, hooks and photo hanging section, thickest kind they had) and twisted it up into the shape we wanted. Then just used a little hot glue to hold the wire in the cube. We had her mom and sister send a bunch of photos that we stuck in the ends of the wire. We placed these in the center of each table, as well as on the gift and cake tables.
-Black and white polka dot fabric. Cut it down into 2' squares for the center of each table and larger sections for the food tables.

-a nice variety of soups. She's vegan so we went with meatless chili, minestrone, and chicken noodle (yeah not vegan, but most of the husbands would have protested the complete lack of meat)
-caramel apple cider (yum!)
-yummy chocolate cake from Costco
We had a TV and movies, along with coloring stuff to keep the kids occupied. Didn't work very well. That's my one complaint about big parties for adults - you just can't keep the kids from running (literally) around unsupervised. Drives me nuts. Short of hiring a sitter to keep track of them all or having someone run activites for them I don't know how to avoid it. Anyone have a better solution to this problem?

But all in all, a nice party for someone who certainly deserves it. Happy Birthday Cheri! Thanks for making the drive up here for it :) And a big thanks to Alisha and Beau Dee, my co-conspirators.

Now back to our regularly scheduled holiday programming, for at least another week or so.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Farm Party

 Party has now been reposted on the new blog at   Click on THIS LINK to see all the fun details and photos of the party!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quick Christmas Decor Projects

It was my turn to host November's Saturday with The Girls. And being this close to Christmas I was craving Christmas crafts. So I designated it "bring your own Christmas project day" and found a quick little craft idea to get us started.

Walmart has these fun glittery word ornaments right now - for just $1. I wanted to mount them on something so I cut down some scrap wood and stained it. Then everyone added their choice of patterned paper for the background. Adhered everything and TaDa!

My own project for the day was to dress up some new ornaments. My new theme for my Christmas tree is "Sparkly Santa." So of course I needed some Santa ornaments.
I used XL red balls and hot glued black ribbon around the center. Cut some chipboard (cereal boxes) squares with slits and painted them silver for the buckle. And in no time I had these. I've seen a version of these in stores, but the DIY way is so much more satisfying right?

Consider this a teaser. The next time I post about my Christmas tree it WILL be UP. Promise.

*linked to Strut Your Stuff week at Somewhat Simple


I'm am crazy for Christmas. Seriously obsessed. I think about it at least 6 months out of the year...or more. I've been working on Christmas related projects since at least August. Why? Because I love the holiday and I hate being rushed/stressed. So my goal every year is to get everything ready for Christmas by the 1st of December. Let's be honest, I never get EVERYTHING done. But I do get pretty darn close and that frees me up to enjoy the month of December and all of it's festivities and traditions.
So here I am with only 1 day left before December, with my house undecorated and my shopping only 2/3 done and I haven't started on Christmas cards. How did that happen?!? Some of it was unavoidable. Some of it was procrastination. But the part that is currently bugging me the most is the fact that this year I decided to go against tradition (tradition being putting up the tree and all the decorating the day after Thanksgiving) and not get the tree out until after Tyler's birthday. I'm just itching to drag it out and see how all the new decorations looks on it. I can barely restrain myself. But I must, because our house is tiny and this year I planned a few party games that are a bit active so I need the extra floor space. I only have to wait until Saturday. I can make it, right?
So. Since I can't spend my day putting up the tree and then showing it off to you, I thought I'd share a few of our traditions. This might be a long post - we have a TON. :)
-One that I'm very excited about is our Christmas Elves. They will be showing up Tuesday morning and staying with us until Christmas Eve.
-for the last couple of years we have been taking the kids to the town's Tree Lighting. That's where the kids get to see Santa, have a sleigh ride, and nibble on cookies and hot chocolate. This year it takes place on the 7th. I'm always anxious to see what the kids tell Santa they want - just in case they change their minds at the last minute.
-can't have Christmas without a trip out in the car to see the lights. We bundle into the car, stop for hot chocolate at the Chevron, turn on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (ooooo we just went to their concert - so good!), and drive around until the kids get bored.
-countdowns to Christmas are multiple - usually in large part due to the kids' Grandma Jackson. In fact, their chocolate advent calendars are waiting here for them already. She usually does 12 Days of Christmas for them as well. And if that weren't enough, we also keep track on these fun countdown blocks.

(original idea was a gift from a friend. These particular blocks I made myself and will be using for the gift exchange in my card group)
-I like to have a family photo taken in November that I can then use in the Christmas cards. This one has been especially hard to accomplish this year, mostly due to my husband's schedule. He was pretty much unavailable during all of this month. On top of that, I wanted to do a digital card this year, which means taking the photos on our own instead of in a studio. We went out today with the tripod, but I'm not sure how happy I am with the results. Not sure I can try for retakes though, as my kids rarely want to cooperate when I am the one behind the camera. Ugh.
-Toys for Tots. My husband used to be in the Marines (reserves. He is now in the Air Force Reserves) and Toys for Tots is something he loves. He used to volunteer to stand at one of the donation locations to collect toys. Now we try to make a point of buying a toy or two to donate.
-Christmas Eve is usually spent with one side of the family or the other (they usually fight over us for this. No idea why Christmas Eve is more highly desired than, say, Christmas Day). When we get home from the party, the kids get to open up a new set of pajamas. Then we set out cookies and eggnog for Santa and throw carrots on the front lawn for the reindeer before the kids go to bed. We also make sure the elves are all ready to meet Santa and report on the kids' behavior.
-On Christmas morning, we call my parents when the kids wake up. They live just down the road and like to see the kids open their gifts. So most of my family's gifts end up under our tree. Once the presents are all open, my husband makes gingerbread waffles and an oven omelet for breakfast.
-we are also thinking of adding in another one (tradition) this year. For most kids in Utah, at least those within driving distance, it is a tradition to go down to Temple Square and see the lights. I remember doing it many years, as does Sam. And now that the kids are no longer babies, we might, just MIGHT brave the cold one night and take them down to see the lights. We'll see.

So there you have it. Anyone else have some great traditions I need to add to the list? :)

linking to Show Us Your Life - Christmas Traditions at Kelly's Korner

Friday, November 20, 2009

Barn Invitations

**Reposted on the new blog.  Click THIS LINK to see not only the invitations but all the fun party details and photos!

Two weeks until my little guy turns 3! His favorite thing is to be out with grandpa, either on the big equipment or helping feed the cows. So the theme I chose for his party this year is Down on the Farm. I'm feeling pretty proud of myself for having the planning and prep work all done already (I'll show it off after the party). And we hand delivered these fun little invitations this morning.
To make them, I simply drew a quick barn pattern and cut them out of red cardstock, making sure to cut the opening for the barn doors. The white "trim" is very thin strips of white cardstock. The tricky part was cutting them that thin. Then I just printed out the wording for the inside and attached it to the back.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monkey Party

My little sweetheart turned 6 yesterday - so big! Seriously, I can't believe how OLD she seems lately. It's kind of a bitter-sweet realization. But still a big reason to celebrate.
Kaitlyn had requested a Monkey Party, which at first seemed hard to put together. Turns out, it doesn't take much to make a big impact and to keep 9 little girls (plus my 2 year old) happily entertained for an hour and a half.

-I enlarged, printed and colored a couple of monkeys (really cute ones from Dustin Pike). One for the front door to welcome the guests, and the other was hanging from the "tree" (brown butcher paper I had crumpled for the trunk, and large green paper leaves) I attached to the wall
-vines hanging from the ceiling. These were made from paper leaves attached to green yarn. I used 3 lengths of yarn to make it a little thicker.

The table:
-I bought a couple packages of Zoo Pals plates and cups. I separated out the jungle type animals and saved the rest for later (can we say Farm Party?).
-the centerpieces were misc Monkey type items I had collected from the dollar bins, along with some bananas, and a few balloons.
The food:
I kept it simple with monkey cupcakes (I also took some of these cupcakes to school), bananas, and lemonade. I found the instructions for the cupcake here, but they're fairly simple. You use lg vanilla wafers for the nose, smaller wafers for the ears, M&Ms for the eyes, and do the nostrils and mouth with frosting.
I also (it's one of my traditions) make a more elaborate cake that is used for decoration at the kids' party and eaten later at the cake and ice cream party we have with the grandparents. For the cake I used my Animal Crackers pan (from Wilton) and followed these instructions to turn it into a monkey.

The favors:
(I'll have to find a close up photo of the bags, I took one earlier but need to take a little time and figure out what file I put it in - too lazy to do it now :) )
-I used brown paper bags, turned down the top edge and threaded some blue ribbon through it. I shrunk an image of the invitations and added it, along with each child's name to the bag.
-inside the bag I put some Curious George notepads and some monkey stickers (both from the dollar section at Target)
-the bags were then used to hold their craft items, and to collect the rest of the favors when the pinata was broken. The pinata held some monkey erasers (3 for $1 at Michael's), jungle animal pencils (6/$1 at Target), banana flavor Laffy Taffy, and Nerds (because Kaitlyn loves them, and they were in the same bag of Halloween candy that the Laffy Taffy came in).

The activities:
-when the children first arrived, I had them color jungle animal magnets. (pkg of 3/$1 at JoAnn's)
-then they made "binoculars" with toilet paper tubes and decorated them with crayons and monkey stickers
-we then used the binoculars to go on an animal safari. I had hidden pictures of animals all over the house (really great resource for these was National Geographic Kids website. You can print out a photo of the animal, along with some fun facts about each animal)
-once the animals were all found, the kids took turns acting like the animals while the rest of the guests tried to guess what animal it was. In order to have enough animals for each guest to find at least 2 I had to use some pretty obscure animals, so at times we resorted to giving hints on the hard ones (anyone know what kind of sound a meerkat makes??). The kids LOVED this game.
-more animal charades while we waited for everyone to finish eating
-pinata time. I know - scary to blindfold a bunch of little girls and give them a stick but Kaitlyn's idea of a party isn't complete without a pinata. So we grit our teeth and hope for the best. We didn't break anything. And I (the blindfold putter-on-er) only got hit once.
-and that was the end of the party. It went by SO quickly. I even had a couple more activities planned but didn't have to use them because the kids enjoyed the animal game so much. Care to know what the other games were? Ok. I was going to do a monkey toss (using Barrel of Monkeys monkeys), a Monkey See Monkey Do game...and a third one that I can't remember right now. Good thing I didn't have to use it huh?

And that, my dears, is how you throw a Monkey Party! What, oh what, will she come up with for next year?? My guess is I will find out sometime in the next week or so... :)

*update (12/20/09): this post featured over at Somewhat Simple

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monkeyin' Around

In my world, October is our Birthday Month. Between my family and Sam's we have 6 birthdays in the stretch of time between Sept 30 and Oct 16. SIX! Not the least of which is Kaitlyn's birthday (on the 14th), which has been part focus for the last few months. I can't honestly tell you how early I started planning her party, but it was probably sometime this spring. You know me, the planning and prep is my favorite part. And since Kaitlyn decided on a Monkey theme barely one week after her last birthday, I've had plenty of time to gradually piece it all together. And now it's time for the final preparations.

I'll do a big post after the party, but I thought I'd share the invitations with you now. These little babies are going out tomorrow, provided we can figure out who some of the people are that she wants to invite (anyone else have this problem with their kindergartener? She plays with kids every day at recess and on the bus but for the life of her cannot remember their names. That is, if she has even remembered to ASK their names).
I paper pieced the monkey face, making up the pattern as I went along. Not bad 'eh? He kinda looks like a bear but hopefully the pokey-out ears and the Monkey Around statement inside will tip them off to the theme of the party.
I also whipped up a card for Kaitlyn, because I loved this image. My friend Callie introduced me to the Dustin Pike images and I'm in love! I enlarged two of his other images for part of the party decor...but you'll have to wait to see those.


Have you been watching the leaves turn colors? We've been marveling at that for a few weeks now, at least up on the mountains. I'm happy to say the trees in our yard are still green. I love the temperatures we've been having lately (70s and 80s I think) and the slight crispness in the air. But I'm really not wanting the leaves to fall off or the temperatures to drop and force us inside.

I do however, love to decorate for Fall (second only to Christmas...and maybe Spring). This harvest board is another one I made with Audrey during our marathon project day. I just finished it up yesterday and am wondering where I'm going to find space for it! The creative credit goes to Audrey's friend and neighbor Jen, who is about as crafty as they come. She was also good enough to provide the handles. Thanks Jen!

Linked to:
-Fall Inspriation Link Party at Thrifty Decor Chick

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Witch's Hat

Fall! Yay!
Can you sense the forced enthusiasm? Oh good, I fooled you! :) I've been trying to get into the fall spirit but for some reason it isn't quite working. I even got all my fall decorations out this week and...nothing.
I am, however, excited about my most recent projects. I got to spend the whole day yesterday with my friend Audrey. This used to be a regular thing for us, but it's been harder and harder to coordinate schedules. So I was really excited when we finally managed it. And the day didn't dissapoint. I had a great time. Ty had a great time playing with her son (and they were surprisingly very well behaved and happy the whole time - bonus!). Kaitlyn had fun playing with her grandma (who was in charge of picking her up after school). AND we managed to get a lot done, despite the fact that we fully completed only one of our 5 projects for the day.

These witch's hats were my idea - or as close as I get to an original idea in this age of blogs and great crafts stores and tons of creative women. Since our (my Saturday Girls) visit to see the witches at Gardner Village last year I have been enamored with all the wonderfully fun and decorative hats everyone was wearing. But I can't really stand to wear hats, nor am I all that great at dressing up so I was having a hard time convincing myself to make one of my own. But when Audrey and I were discussing projects, this came to mind and we decided to turn them into centerpieces instead of hats we could wear. And I am very happy with how they turned out.

She just doesn't have a bad side, does she? :)

You'll have to wait to see the rest of our projects. I need to buy some more paint and stain and get them all finished...stay tuned!

Oh, in case you want to recreate these yourself: We used an inexpensive costume witch's hat and stuffed it with floral foam and some paper to give it shape. Covered the bottom with cardboard to hold everything in. And attached the embellishments with straight pins and hot glue.

Linked to:
-Fall Inspriation Link Party at Thrifty Decor Chick

Monday, January 5, 2009

Word for the Year

I ran across this idea about a week ago on Ali Edwards blog and fell in love with it. The concept is to identify a word that represents what you want out of the next year. The word I chose is ENJOY.
As in:
-enjoy the process. I have a tendency to move from one project to the next without really taking the time to enjoy the final product or the outcome of my last endeavor.
-enjoy the little moments with the kids. We all know that they grow up way too quickly.
-enjoy my husand. This translates specifically to Date Night, and to making sure that I don't take him for granted.
-enjoy all the daily stuff, even if this means grinning through the hundredth load of laundry for the week or that awful job of scrubbing the toilet because at the very least I will be enjoying the feeling of a clean house...eventually :) This is how I spend my days. I not only want to accept that but to be happy with it.
-enjoy good health - I was glad I was finally able to incorporate my word for the one resolution I am trying to get myself very motived for - losing this dang baby weight! And hopefully I will soon be able to say that I enjoy the way I look/feel in my clothes.

To remind myself of the word for the year I have chosen to display it where I will see it often. I altered some wooden letters (photo above) that are now sitting atop my kitchen cabinets. And I made some small signs that I have attached to my refrigerator and my bathroom mirror.

It says:
Enjoy [en-joi´]
(v.) To take satisfaction; to live in happiness.
(v.) To receive pleasure or satisfaction from.
(v.) To have the use or benefit of: enjoys good health.

And as luck would have it, the word of the year is also the theme for Tip Junkie's Talk To Me Tuesday. So be sure to check that out.