Friday, November 30, 2012

Ornament exchange

I had the opportunity to participate in the first ornament exchange sponsored by One Artsy Mama.  I was paired with Megan from Chaos Served Daily.  We were able to contact each other and get to know interests, color schemes for decorating, etc.  Megan sent me this beautiful hand-stamped ornament:
It will work well on "my" tree.  However, this year it's hanging out with all the family ornaments to provide less temptation for a certain 3-year-old boy.  (We're already at one "pull tree over on top of himself" incident this year.  I suppose it could be worse.)

For my part in the exchange, I thought and thought and changed my mind and finally settled on inventing a crocheted wreath.  I added some beads for holly berries and topped it off with a big rickrack bow. (my apologies for a blurry photo, I was in a hurry to get it mailed)
I hope Megan loves my creation.

What's your favorite holiday decorating color scheme or theme?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday 10 - Favorite Holiday Movies

Linking up with Lena for another week of Tuesday 10.
This week's prompt is 10 favorite holiday movies.  Not sure if I'll get to 10, but here goes:

Now my all-time favorite Christmas movie, I hadn't ever seen it until I was in college.

Animated classics, love 'em.
Two staples that I watched at church every year.
Love the entire trilogy.
Another classic.  The holidays wouldn't be complete without it.
This always brings memories of watching with my oldest daughter at a local pre-release preview.  No one seemed to know whether it was being shown in the IMAX theater or the regular screen.  We ran back and forth across the parking lot and were seated in the IMAX when employees came and said it was actually in the other building.  A lot of hassle, but worth seeing it on the big screen.

 I far prefer this classic over the live-action version.

And unless my counting skills are shot, that should be 10.  How about you, what are your favorites?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Family photos

We recently had family photos done to update various walls at our house and grandparents' houses.  Our yearly photo shoot is the bane of my existence when it comes to choosing clothes for everyone.  It used to be that I could find similar outfits for the girls and coordinate the rest of us.  Nowadays, I have to run between the Juniors, Girls, Boys, and Toddler sections.  And don't forget a quick trip through mens and womens.  Finding similar color tones between sections is almost impossible.  I browse through several stores, then finally decide on what I want, only to find out that the colors won't coordinate after all.  So I start over and find a couple ideas, then go to another section and change my mind, going back to previous sections.  Repeat several times until finally giving up and/or finding a workable combination.  This year I decided on navy blue and gray for our overall palette.  Thankfully it worked.
 As I was looking through everyone's photos, I laughed at the many facial expressions from Princess.  She's very animated in her face, so many of these are ones we see on a regular basis.
Choosing a favorite from our family photos was tricky.  Bugaboo didn't want to hold still for too many, and just trying to get 8 people all smiling and looking at the camera at the same time is a feat in and of itself.  Here's some of my favorites:

 Bugaboo decided he was done sitting at this point.  At least he was looking at the camera.
 Most of our photos looked like this:
A last few attempts at getting everyone all together.
We finished with everyone walking down the hill. This might be my absolute favorite shot.
I'm thinking about enlarging this one to go on our wall.  I don't think grandparents would appreciate it like I do, so they'll probably get one of the other family shots where you can see all our faces.  Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tuesday 10 - Random Acts of Kindness

Today I'm co-hosting Tuesday 10 with the lovely Lena from Lena B, Actually.  I suggested this week's topic of Random Acts of Kindness.  This is only a prompt.  Any and every list is welcome.


November and December always get me thinking about serving others.  I try to find ways to serve and help my children learn to give of themselves thoughout the year, but I'm especially conscious of it during the holiday season.  So, here's 10 kindnesses that I've been the recipient of, that I've given, or that I'd like to do.

Free babysitting
This falls under all three of my categories.  There was a time in our lives when hubby was working out of town, coming home every other weekend, and we had 4 little ones 6 and under.  Two teenage girls from church offered to watch the kids for a few hours each week so I could get out of the house by myself to go grocery shopping, watch the ducks at the park, see a movie, whatever.  I found myself looking forward to those days to keep myself sane.

Ring a bell
I've always thought it would be fun to do a shift ringing a bell with my kids.  I'm planning to start this tradition this year!

Pay at the drive-thru
This is another one that I'd love to do.  Pay for the person behind you at the drive-thru.

Christmas Jar
This is one of my favorite Christmas books and a favorite tradition.  We keep a jar on the kitchen counter and collect change throughout the year.  Sometime during the week preceding Christmas we secretly deliver the jar to someone in need.
Last year we discovered the program at  You mail letters or care packages to a serviceman or woman that has volunteered with the program to distribute these to members of their unit that don't often receive mail.  We opted to send as much beef jerky as we could cram into a box, as well as a few Christmas cards.  We never heard back from any recipients, but I'd like to think we made their day a little brighter.

Christmas Caroling
What is the Christmas season without caroling?  When I was growing up, my aunts used to take us around to our neighbors on Christmas Eve (probably to give Santa some gift-wrapping time).  We'd be all bundled up and sing a couple of songs before moving on to the next house.  Finish it off with some hot cocoa and you have a perfect service.

There are so many volunteer opportunities in any community.  Find one and give a few hours of yourself.  Maybe you serve food at a homeless shelter, help at an animal shelter, or read to kids at a local elementary school.  Even just picking up trash at a local park is a great service.

Tape Quarters to a Gumball or Vending Machine
Who wouldn't love to find a random surprise?

Anywhere you go, there's probably someone that could use a little cheering up.  A happy face can turn someone's day around.

Say Thank You to a Teacher
Teachers invest so much for their students.  Letting them know they are appreciated makes their day.  A simple note or a treat or a gift card or whatever.  I truly believe this is an instance of "it's the thought that counts."

What other great ideas do you have?  I'd love to see them!

Friday, November 16, 2012

So long Twinkie

I am a Hostess kid.  
As such, today's announcement that Hostess Brands is closing for good hurts.  It's the end of a piece of my childhood.

For much of my growing up years, Hostess was a daily part of life.  My dad started working for the company when I was about 7.  As a kid, it was great to have an almost never-ending supply of Twinkies, Cup Cakes, Ding Dongs, etc., in the freezer.  Many of the products Dad got early on were considered "cripples".  These were perfectly good products that had too much or too little filling, too many or too few swirls on the cupcakes, cupcake swirls that weren't in the middle of the caketop.  They were fine to eat, but not good enough to sell.  We certainly didn't complain.  The first time I remember eating a regular cupcake was when we took a family trip to tour the bakery closest to us.  We all felt silly wearing hairnets and at the end we each got a package of cupcakes.  We all agreed that we liked the "cripples" better. 

My kids always get excited to have Hostess at Grandma and Grandpa's.  They love to go visit Grandpa at work and see the delivery trucks.  Those special memories will be just that, only memories now.  It's a sad, sad day.

I plan to see if any of our local stores have any Twinkies left.  We'll have one last round to say, "So long Twinkie, thanks for the memories."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Adventures with vinyl

I've been having fun decorating with vinyl lately.  Awhile back I scored a Groupon deal from Say It On the Wall.  I knew I wanted to get their Glass Block Nativity vinyl and recreate this idea for our Christmas decor.  That's on the to-do list in the next week or so.

But, here's some of my other vinyl projects:
Kitchen Conversion Chart - I have been informed by several family members that I put this up slightly crooked.  It looked straight to me, so I think the problem is with them.  My solution for the blog world: take a crooked, blurry photo so no one can judge my lining up ablities (or lack, thereof).
 I thought this Valentine's vinyl would be fun to put on bathroom mirrors.  I put one in the kids' bathroom and one in the middle of our ginormous master bath mirror.
The idea for this Forget Not tile comes from one of my favorite talks of all time.   I will say, this was a pain to put on the tile.  It may be that I should have cleaned the tile better before trying to apply the vinyl, but it ended up taking hours and slowly making sure each and every letter/element was stuck.  Some of the letters got crazy, but it's supposed to look hand-made, right?  Just be forewarned if you plan to try it yourself.

And last, but not least, my latest vinyl endeavor:
I was browsing on Facebook a few weeks ago and saw that Kristine from The Foley Fam/J&M's Eye Candy had posted hers and offered to have her friend create one for anyone who was interested.  My first thought was that it might make a great focal point above my mantel.  However, the size is too small there, but works perfectly underneath our family photo.  We'll see what my family says when they all get home from school/work.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

December Blog Angel Sign-ups are OPEN!

It's Blog Angel time again.  This round promises to be bigger and better than ever before.  If you've thought about taking part, sign up today!  Maybe I'll be your angel.


The Ultimate edition of Blog Angels is about to start and it promises to be bigger than ever. If you're a veteran Angel then pay close attention as we've thrown the rule book for this round out of the window.
This time it is ALL about the giving. You will sign-up to help a blog of your choice, knowing there might not be any chance of receiving help. Most participants don't do this to be helped so  I am excited what we can, as a community, do to spread the Christmas cheer.
So here are the December rules and the sign up form is right below.
1. Find a blog you want to help in secret - this could be new to you or an existing blogger in need of a boost. Try and give the URL of a reserve blog to help in case your first choice is in hot demand.
2. Fill in the form (on the blog from 10th November!)
3. Wait for an email before 30th November confirming you can help that person. I will make sure that everyone isn't trying to assist the same person.
4. Help them with their blog in secret for one month, commiting to commenting a minimum of twice a week. See more advice on what else you can do here.
5. Link up a post summarising what help you have given throughout the first two weeks. (15th December)
6. Link up a reveal post on 30th December and contact your blog to let them know you've been their festive buddy for the month.

Blog Angels December Sign Up Form
If you fancy helping me out in promoting the sign-up, I'd be so grateful. If we had 250 people taking part....well...we'll be a small way to changing the world.....maybe!
Christmas is my favourite time of the year. So what a better way to make my grin 8 feet wide than with helping out?
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saying Thank You

You've probably seen the "Month of Gratitude" challenge on Facebook, where everyone is encouraged to post things they're thankful for each day.  Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea, but I've never been diligent enough to carry it out for more than just a day or two.  I do try to count my blessings during November as well as instilling a sense of gratitude in my children.

Still, as the days of October were dwindling to a close, I found myself looking forward to November (mostly for the less-busy calendar squares that are quickly being filled now that they're visible).  I decided that while it's great to feel a personal sense of gratitude, I wanted to take things a step further and express my gratitude to people that have given me their support in one way or another.
I had a brainstorm that in addition to just thinking about something or someone I am grateful for, I'd like to send a thank you note to that person so they know I appreciate them.  It's a little way to reach outside myself.  So, my plan is to bring a bit of happiness and a spirit of Thanksgiving to mailboxes around the country this month.  Who's with me?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Perspectives - Trick or Treat

Today's Perspectives challenge theme is Trick or Treat.  Since I did a costume post on Tuesday, it seemed a little redundant to do another post of costumes my kids wore.  So, I decided to think outside the traditional box a little and interpret the theme on a bit broader scale.  So, here are my Trick or Treat photos.
 You can't have Trick or Treating without a supply of candy.

This next photo has a bit of a backstory behind it.  Apparently Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in the Thor movie, has a reputation as a practical jokester.  He will pull pranks and then shout "Loki'd" when he's caught.  One late night hubby and I decided to go to bed, but The Artist and The Author were still up.  We told them to turn off the lights when they finally decided to call it a night.  I have no idea how long they stayed up, but the next morning we were greeted with "Loki'd" images everywhere - in cupboards, inside drinking glasses, under plates, on the light fixtures, etc. 
I think we may still have one or two that haven't been found. The kids all discovered over the next several days that their log-in icons and computer backgrounds had been changed to Loki images. We also had a variety of Avengers-themed objects in the kitchen: Stove Rogers, Agent Kool-son (Kool-aid packets), Thor-tillas (tortillas), The Incredible Hulk Chocolate (Hershey bars), Nick Fury (Nutella).  All in all, it was a great trick.

My last photo is more along the Treat lines.  This was the sign I put up in our elementary school teacher's lounge this week along with a container full of mini blueberry muffins.  The staff loved it!
Have you linked up with the Perspectives Challenge?