Friday, December 2, 2011

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love this time of year! I usually try to wait until after Thanksgiving to break out the Christmas music, but I couldn’t wait this year!

I finished up my foundation pages for the December Daily album prior to December 1st…amazing!!

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We usually wait until 2-3 weeks before Christmas to get our Christmas tree, but once again….I just couldn’t wait!

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I also decided to do the “Christmas Book Advent” this year. I wrapped up all of our Christmas books…

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…and numbered them 1-20.

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In addition to the Christmas books that we already had, I also added in a couple of new ones to surprise the girls. They received Jingle and his first book last year for Christmas. He has a new book this year and it is waiting for them in the bucket! Shhh…

We also have a new addition to our Christmas fun this year! The “Elf on the Shelf” has been around for years…I think since the 1960’s…but it has definitely made a big comeback over the last couple of years. Thanks to Pinterest, I decided to join in on the fun this year.

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Introducing…. “Noodle”….

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I didn’t want to same elf that everyone has. I know…I am a little too picky about things like this. Have you seen the “Elf on the Shelf’s” lack of feet?? His legs just end at a point…weird! I looked everywhere for an elf that would work and just couldn’t find one! I even looked on Etsy! I found a tutorial I liked and had finally decided to just make my own, but I knew that it wouldn’t be finished this year. Then, the clouds parted and the angels sang…ok, maybe I am exaggerating…my daughter and I randomly came across one a couple weeks before Thanksgiving when we stopped in at the Navy Exchange. Score!! He even has little magnets in his hands and feet!

The girls originally chose “Jingle” as the name of the elf, but then we remembered that we had “Jingle” the dog. When my 3 year old tries to say “Rudolph”, it sounds like “Noodle” (I know, it’s strange! ha!)…we all thought it was pretty funny. That’s how our elf got his name! I’ll share some of the trouble he has been getting to getting into in a separate post.

We also have the typical “chocolate candy” Advent calendars for the girls.

How are you counting down the days until Christmas?

December Daily 2011: The Foundation Pages

These are probably the most “bare bones” December Daily pages that you will see!

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I was going to add some more elements to them, but I decided to just wait and add them as I add the photos/journaling. That may mean that I am working on the details after December is over, but that is OK with me.

I have linked them all up to the December Daily Flickr Group:

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The cover is about halfway done and I will post that once it is finished!

I only numbered one page and that is because I had one scrap left of the snowflake paper so I just found the number that would match the best.

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The rest of the pages will be numbered as I go. I wanted to be able to move the pages around as needed for each day. For now, they are on 2-inch book rings and I have just been moving the pages around depending on what works for that day.

Watch for a post with the first 2 pages that I have completed! Are any of you doing the December Daily this year?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

December Daily: The Beginning

I have been a fan of Ali Edwards from the moment she entered the scrapbooking scene.

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{Via}

I have always been drawn to the graphic design components that she implements in all of her work. I have all of her books and never tire at looking through them. I feel like her style, as opposed to many scrapbooking “styles”, will never become obsolete! She started doing a December Daily album in 2007 and I knew that one day I wanted to add that to our annual traditions too!

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{Via}

I love the idea of being able to document the moments…big and small…that take place during December. Basically, the foundation of the album is created before December arrives so that you aren’t spending all of your time putting your album together rather than spending it with your family!

The other nice thing about this album is that I don’t need to purchase anything new! I just raided my stash for anything that looked “Christmas-like” and got to work! I found a basket and loaded it up.

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I had so many little tags and labels in my stash…it felt good to finally put them to good use!

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As you can see, I have plenty of 7Gypsies products, various stickers and labels, some bakers twine that I scored off of Pick Your Plum a few months ago, some chipboard frames and tags that were on the clearance rack at Target, and some circle tags from Every Jot and Tittle (one of my favorite Etsy shops!).

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…some chipboard letters, rub-ons, and transparencies…

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…and of course the paper!

I had originally planned on using this for an advent project when I picked it up 2-3 years ago…

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…but I have decided to use this as the basis for the numbering of my December days (which I guess can be considered a type of advent/countdown)…and also dictate the color scheme.

First, I had to decide on the page size. I have seen that many of these items get to be pretty bulky by the end of the month so I didn’t want to put them in a premade album and discover that it was too small at the end of the month! Based off of what Ali has blogged about regarding her process over the last 5 years, I decided to go with 8 1/2 x 6 inch pages.

Once I got started, the project went fairly quickly! Since I am only building the foundation of the album at this point, I didn’t add a lot of the detail work that I would normally add. I haven’t even numbered the pages since I will more than likely move the pages around depending on what each day of December holds! Of course, with any good creative process comes a little bit of a mess…

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I only spent a couple of hours on it this evening and already have most of the foundation finished. Tomorrow, I will pull out the paint and the ink (my favorite part of the process) and add a few creative touches here and there.

Here is a quick peek at what I have so far…

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What? It doesn’t look like much? Well, I don't want to give away too much at this point. I will reveal the pages as I put them together in December!

Oh…and look what my little creative 6 year old was working on in the next room while I was working…

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These are the scraps leftover from her project. She was cutting out letters and hearts and then gluing them onto a card for her friend. You can see her writing a little note to go in the card in this picture. She said that she wants to be an artist and she can’t be an artist unless she practices. Makes me happy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our “Tangled” Birthday Party

I just realized that this post has been sitting here as a draft and I never posted it…oops!

I don’t know about you, but we are HUGE fans of the movie Tangled in this house! We were so excited when we won tickets to the advance 3D screening the weekend before it came out! I was just as excited as my 6 year old and loved every minute of the movie!

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It was from that point on that my daughter decided that she wanted a Tangled theme for her party…and I was definitely OK with that! Since the movie was fairly new, there weren’t too many ideas out there in the blogosphere, but I managed to find a couple fantastic ones! There are SO MANY more ideas out there now though…just do a quick search on Pinterest!

I loved this idea for party favors….so fun and easy!

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My girls are both huge fans of Pascal in the movie so they loved these! There is a free template on the Disney family site

We also added a large braid of hair on the front door, but I somehow managed to not get a picture of it. It was similar to this one though:

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{Via}

Now for the cake…

I liked the idea of this tower using cupcakes,

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but I wanted it a little more substantial, so…I used ramekins instead. Jessica, from Life as Mom, used small cheesecake pans so I followed her design.

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As you can see, I baked 6 small cakes in ramekins, but 1 of them didn’t survive being removed from the ramekin. I placed them all on top of an 8x8 section of cake:

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After freezing the cake and adding the crumb layer of frosting, it was time to decorate the cake. I froze each section individually and then frosted between each layer too. Now…as I have mentioned in the past, I do not claim to be a cake decorator at all!! I just enjoy making the cakes for my girls’ birthdays.

I let my daughter pick out the color for the tower and she chose purple with a pink cone. My husband was in charge of dipping the cone on the top in the candy melts. It didn’t quite come out as pink as we thought it would, but it worked.

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We picked up the Tangled figurine set from the Disney store as an early birthday present for my daughter and used Flynn and Pascal as part of the cake d├ęcor!

Thanks to Jessica’s advice, I found some candy rocks to add to the base and added some fun vines going up the side of the tower.

My favorite part of the cake was Rapunzel’s braid hanging down the side of the tower! I got the idea from this adorable invitation:

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{Via}

In hindsight, I should have darkened in the window where her braid was coming from. Regardless of cake decorating skills that I lack, it was a hit with my 6 year old and that is all that matters to me!

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We only have a big party every other year for my girls’ birthdays and this was the low-key year. It was just our family and one other family. Next year will be her big party and she is already making plans!

Other posts you might like:

Rainbow Birthday Party

Birthday Party Goody Bags

The Night the Clam Chowder Exploded

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Zaycon Experience

Have any of you ordered your chicken (or bacon or beef) from Zaycon yet?

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I was excited when I received the e-mail announcing that they would be holding an event in my area. The pickup location was less than 5 miles from my house too…score! I placed my order for 40 pounds of chicken for $1.49/lb and made sure to make a note of the pickup time.

The pickup had to be made during a one hour time frame. This is because they only have the refrigerated truck for a certain time period before it needs to be returned. The pickup time length will be different in each location…sometimes up to 4 hours.

The pickup process went very smoothly. We didn’t even have to get out of our car! We waited in the car line for less than 5 minutes. They checked our names off of the order list and loaded our box of chicken in the back of the car.

There were 4 separate bags of chicken inside of a larger bag in the box. The larger bag was sealed very well.

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The 4 smaller bags inside were not sealed…

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The chicken breasts just needed to be separated and trimmed before freezing them.

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I just trimmed each one and placed them in a large bowl. I only worked on half of the chicken at a time before packaging them for the freezer.

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I was excited to really put our new Foodsaver to use. My husband found a barely used Foodsaver along with a large amount of Foodsaver bags on Craigslist for $45…not bad!

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So…this is what 40 pounds of chicken looks like…

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actually there are 2 chicken breasts missing from the picture since we ate them for dinner that night. Ha!

They actually fit into our deep freezer very nicely. Needless to say, I will not have to buy chicken for a long time! There were 42 large chicken breasts in the box and I put 2 in each foodsaver bag.

Zaycon will also be offering ground beef in addition to the chicken. Based on this experience, I will more than likely purchase the ground beef if it is a lower price than I typically pay.

It was a great deal for 100% natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients. The chicken comes fresh directly from the farm to the sales event and has never been frozen.

Go to their website to see if there are any upcoming events in your area. You can be added to their mailing list for your area so that you are notified of upcoming events in your area.

How long would 40 pounds of chicken last in your household?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I can't believe it's November!!

Another month has passed and it is November already!! October just flew by for me. This time of year tends to go by so quickly so my goal is to enjoy each moment and be intentional about the memories that we create!

Halloween has come and gone...now it is time to take down the Halloween decor. I don't know about you, but my decorations go up so much easier than they come down. It's a good thing that the majority of my decorations are fall decorations and can stay up for a while longer!

I never got around to posting my Halloween decor so let me give you a quick tour before I transition to non-Halloween fall decor!

On my mantle, I have a couple of Jack-o-lantern buckets up on my pedestals...

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These pedestals held my birdhouses all spring and summer...

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My favorite part of these Jack-o-lantern buckets is that all I have to do is turn them around to go from Halloween to Fall!!

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I have a few window clings up on my living room mirror...

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...back doors....

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...and on the bathroom mirror.

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I'm not a huge fan of these, but the girls like them. This is probably the last year that I will use some of them. I might keep the leaves around though.

Up on the entertainment center, I have a fall-like frame with one of my favorite “fall” pictures of the girls…

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In my entryway, I have a wall hanging that I made last year.

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I actually got the pattern off of a tutorial for some really cute trick-or-treat gift bags on one of my favorite blogs...but we didn't need any more bags. I thought they would be cute to hang on the wall!

We also had an invasion of bats (or black birds depending on how much critiquing you would like to do of my hand-drawn bat silhouettes…lol!) in our entryway!

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I had this idea saved for last year when Dana posted it, but I never got around to it.

Here is a sneak peak at my refinished stairs! I can't wait to share the before and afters. It took a lot longer than I intended it to, but they are almost finished now. One of the reasons I refinished them might be so that I could put these adorable mice up at Halloween, but I will deny that if my husband asks!

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Seriously!?! How fun are those!

I made some pillow covers for the front porch pillows, but I only had time to finish the stenciling on one! I have a tutorial coming up for these pillows too!

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I had so many other decor items on my list for Halloween, but they will have to wait until next year now. I barely finished my girls' costumes in time for trick-or-treating!!

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My 6 year old watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time a couple of months ago so she wanted to be Dorothy. I made her a simple dress and Dorothy-ized her shoes.

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She already had some pink sparkly shoes from last years costume (Fancy Nancy), so I just spray painted them red and poured fine red glitter on them while the paint was still wet. I had my doubts, but they actually turned out pretty good.

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Much to her disappointment, she was not allowed to wear them in the house or in the car. I was afraid that I wouldn't be finding red glitter for years if she wore them around the house! I was surprised that they were still red and glittery by the end of the night...they actually held up pretty well!

My 3 year old LOVES Hello Kitty right now. She even has a Hello Kitty backpack! She saw a Hello Kitty costume in the Party City catalog and decided that was what she wanted to be. Her previous answer was a flower when I asked her what costume she wanted, so I was pretty happy when she changed her mind to Hello Kitty!

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Of course, at this time of year, the only cat headbands around are black for Halloween. I'm sure I could have found one online, but I didn't prepare that far ahead of time. I just found a white fuzzy boa and wrapped it around a headband and some pipe cleaner for ears. I added some pink inside the ears and a bright pink bow...Voila!

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Surprisingly, she left the cat ears on except for the last 15 minutes or so!

Even though I procrastinate and finish up their Halloween costumes at the last minute every year, I still love making them! I can't wait until they pick out their costumes for next year! Do you make your kids costumes or buy them?

Oh…and I didn’t forget about the winners of the storage labels. The 2 winners are Nicole and Kristi!! Congrats!!