Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jingle Bam the Elf returns!

Last year our boys received the infamous "Elf on the Shelf" just a few days prior to Christmas.  It was a gift from their grandparents and they definitely enjoyed his antics.  For the past few days, I have been trying to think how "Jingle Bam" would return but also wanted to remind them about the true meaning of Christmas as we've had our fair share of bickering, whining, and so forth lately. So, last night they watched the "Elf on the Shelf" show on television and my husband said that the elf better return soon.  

Apparently, our toys decided Jingle Bam needed a chartered jet from the North Pole.

He brought back plenty of snow to get us in the holiday mood!

That sneaky little elf even made a Welcome Back sign with his favorite treat.

Jingle Bam also brought a letter to Santa reminding us all about the best Christmas gift ever, the birth of baby Jesus and how he wanted us to remember all about showing God's love this holiday season.  He also reminded our boys that they were very special and that sometimes Jingle Bam gets into trouble but God and his Elf parents still love him very much!  
Needless to say, the excitement was overwhelming this morning.  The boys were running up and down the stairs saying "Jingle Bam is back".  Oh, how I love the magic of the holidays!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Teaching Kids to Help Others: Our Operation Christmas Child Boxes

Every year my husband and I try to come up with a variety of ideas for our kids to give back and help others.  We like to remind them, especially close to the holiday season, how fortunate they are to have so many wonderful blessings.  One of our favorite traditions has become our Operation Christmas Child boxes.  Our boys love to shop for these gifts and with the Dollar Sections at Target, Michaels and local Dollar Stores, it has become easier than ever to fill the boxes with a reasonable cost.  Of course, this also allows for us to fill more boxes each year!  

I love how our boys can select items that they would actually like themselves and choose the appropriate age level for the gifts.  

This is such a wonderful experience for our kids and one that you can easily start planning for next holiday season.  In fact, we start picking up items when we start shopping for school supplies as it has become a habit!  Hope you've enjoyed one of the ways we give back.  How does your family teach your kids to help others?


Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Roundup of Disney Travel Sweepstakes

Do you love to travel as much as I do?  Always looking, searching and trying to figure out your next getaway? I am always out for a great deal and a hot bargain but wouldn't it be awesome to actually win a vacation for FREE! Not just any vacation but a Disney vacation!  As the craziness of the holiday season approaches, why not take your chance and enter one of these sweepstakes today and maybe you will win a much deserved and needed vacation for the year ahead.  Hey, you are never to old to wish upon a star!

Enter through Nov. 27 to win a trip for 4 to Disney's amazing vacation club property on the island of Oahu.

Enter once a day through Dec 16 for a chance to win a trip to Disneyworld or Disneyland.

Open to Florida residents only through Nov. 30.  Enter to win a 3 night vacation package including 4 annual passes to Walt Disney World

Enter weekly through Dec 31, 2013 for a chance to win a magical vacation.

Win a 4 night cruise aboard the Disney Dream along with other prizes.  Enter now through Jan 31, 2014.

Don't forget to enter often and you never know, you may be headed somewhere fun in 2014.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Welcome Baby Printable Sign

This past weekend I journeyed to West Virginia to help my dear friend from college celebrate her impending bundle of joy!  Her shower was held at the The Bridge Road Bistro in Charleston, WV. It was a great space for hosting an afternoon luncheon and the food was delicious.  Amazingly, I was so excited to get a kid free weekend that I bolted out of my house without my camera :(  So the few photos I did snap were courtesy of my trusty iPhone.  I was able to help out from afar by doing a few minor decorations to celebrate the event.  As an added bonus, I am sharing the Welcome Baby sign with all of you!

The adorable cake!

Her color scheme was orange, aqua and gray so I came up with these simple Mason Jar centerpieces to add some color.  I love using Mason Jars to decorate!

Here is the first part of the Welcome Baby Sign I created at the last minute!

The second part of the sign!

So, I'm sharing this adorable sign with all of you for free!  
Click on Welcome Baby Sign below and you can download yours today!


Linking up Here

Making the World Cuter

Thanksgiving Photo Cards

One of my adventures along with blogging has been to slowly open my own little Etsy shop with some more customized printables. Like I said, it is a work in progress and one that I am adding to little by little as time permits.  However, I wanted to share my Thanksgiving card designs that are available for anyone looking to make a last minute card for the holiday all about giving thanks for the blessings in our lives. 

All of the cards can easily be customized to your liking in either a 5x7 or 4x6 style. The best part is you don't have to wait for them to arrive in the mail....just wait for the email file and then print them at home, Costco, Walgreens, etc...and let everyone know how thankful you are for having them in your life!


A Busy Mom's Thanks!

It's the season for giving thanks, for expressing our gratitude for all the joys and blessings we  have been given.  Like any mom, I am very thankful for so many things in my life; some on the more serious side, others on the light hearted side of life.  My husband travels quite frequently for work so some days I am more thankful for things that just get me through the day without a complete meltdown and today was one of those here is this busy mom's list:

1. My family: without them I wouldn't be the person I am today..
2. My husband: because although he travels a lot, he is my listening ear via text, email, facetime, etc...(now granted those frequent flyer miles are nice also)
3. My kids: they keep me on my toes, make me smile and always help me find joy in the day
4. Our health, happiness, home, food, clothing, shelter, etc.... I think I covered it all there

........Now for some things that help me make it through the crazy days........

5. Caffeine in any size, shape, and form: if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have the ability to do half the tasks I somehow manage to complete during the day.
6. Having 3 boys: because honestly, the fact I'm not battling getting hair in a ponytail, braids, or some other style in the morning gives me 15 extra minutes of sleep minimum.
7. School uniforms: another 15 minutes of sleep since I'm not battling the "I don't have anything to wear" conversation each morning.
8. Disney Junior: why you may ask? Because when it's 3am and your toddler has thrown up on everything, it is the one thing that makes him smile!
9. Pizza Delivery: Where would I be without this? I do not have time to whip up a homecooked meal every night, let's be honest, so this saves the day when its 7pm and you haven't eaten anything but the leftover crumbs from breakfast
10. Any type of portable food: granola bars, drink yogurt, squeeze applesauce, when we are running out the door late for school, I feel that I have at least accomplished breakfast.
11. My minivan equipped with blind spot monitors, heated seats and DVD player: it's a lifesaver in the best way possible!
12. Origins No Puffery Cooling Roll-On for Puffy Eyes: Yes, this works and at least I don't feel like the over tired mom going through carpool line each morning
13. Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix: because some days you just need chocolate!
14. Amazon Prime: if you aren't a member you don't know what you are is way too easy to order so much stuff from there...especially when it arrives in 2 days.
15. Online shopping: why go to the mall when you can have your own personal fashion show at home and forego the dressing room lighting
16. My Target Redcard and Target Cartwheel......because one can't simply spend enough time in Target, might as well save why you are shopping...
17. Pinterest: where else can I find how to make a last minute cute craft with only popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners.
18. Wine: because after a long day, I  just need a break...
19. My DVR: so when my chocolate brownies are done, I can have a glass of wine and catch up on all my favorite shows again and again...
20. NAPTIME: because I'll be honest, when toddler goes down, this mama takes a nap!

What busy mom thanks do you have to share?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Kids Christmas Pajamas!

It's a tradition in our household to give our boys Christmas Pajamas on Christmas Eve as they prepare to snuggle in for the night and await for Santa's arrival.  Since our oldest is now 7, it is becoming a little more difficult to find ones that match or at least coordinate for those super cute Christmas morning photos! If you are looking for some great holiday pajamas, here are some wonderful options for you to consider

We are big Hanna Andersson fans! The quality of their clothes is just amazing and they have a wonderful selection for prints and simple stripes.  
Plus, they have a great sale going on right now. 

Gymboree has a great selection of holiday pajamas for both boys/girls.  We will often buy these for our kids since the sizing goes up to size 12 and you can easily find coordinating ones for all age levels.

Gap has a few nice options for kids birth to 5 years.  They also have added a few options for older kids this year as well but nothing that matches perfectly.  

We've never shopped from here before but these pajamas are adorable and they have a lot of cute options for both boys and girls. 

Carter is another one of our favorites for pajamas.  They have a range of pajamas that goes up to size 12 and some great coordinating options. 

There are a variety of options on Etsy and many can easily be personalized. 
These are a super cute option! 

Hopefully this helps you find a great option for your holiday pajamas this year.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gift Ideas for the Sports Guy!

My husband is a huge sports fan: both college and professional so when it comes to gift giving, he is one of the easier people to shop for since anything related to one of his favorite teams makes the perfect gift. If you are looking for something this holiday season for the sport's fan in your life, check out some of these ideas....

What guy doesn't need a new grill cover?  Plus, it is available in almost every team possible!  

I love how this line can be personalized! Oh and there is also a great popcorn bowl to add to the collection!

My husband is always telling me he needs a new hooded sweatshirt and these new ones from Adidas definitely fit the bill. 

Head on over to any of the official shops and grab your guy's favorite team jersey today.  It is the perfect gift that makes game day even better!

There are many local dealers that make similar sets to these and can even customize with your favorite team name.  This game is the ultimate backyard/tailgate for any fan!

These blueprints would look beautiful framed and would make a great addition to any office space or "man" room.

These prints are available in a variety of teams.  I think they are such a unique item to add to anyone's collection.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Powder Room Makeover

After finally putting a few finishing touches in our revamped powder room, I can finally reveal the awesome redo of this teeny tiny space!

Our tiny little powder room sits in a very awkward location in our home layout.  It is right next to the family room and kitchen and would not be the ideal spot I would have chosen if I was designing a home.  Now, I must take you back to when we bought this house just a little over a year ago and why we chose this room as our first priority.....
Sorry for the blurry images but my husband managed to capture a few during our inspection (remember we didn't see every photo of every room before buying our house)

Brass was a key tone throughout the room

YIKES! The wallpaper was just a mess of red/gold everywhere
 and made the room feel smaller than it really was.

The sink was tiny.  My seven year old almost towered over it and didn't make sense for adults to be hunching over it to wash our hands.  Needless to say, since this would be the bathroom guests would be using when we had people over for a visit, I declared it top priority.  I wanted something bold and to make the room look bigger; however, there were so many difficult challenges with this tiny space. 

The first was finding a vanity that would fit the width and not feel overly cramped and also the depth.  We searched and searched for the perfect vanity to fit our idea and finally we found the Kohler Archer Vanity at Home Depot.  It was in stock at our local store too which helped! We decided for a more modern touch we wanted to use a one hole sick versus the widespread faucet so we ordered the Kohler sink from Home Depot.

We decided for a dramatic touch to tile the entire wall from floor to ceiling.  Now, our contractors were amazing and didn't charge us any extra for this!  We bought a combo stone/glass 12x12 sheets at Lowes in a grayish/neutral color combo.  Unfortunately, I can't find it anymore at Lowes.  It took them awhile to do this part since it was heavy, they could only do a few rows at a time and wait to dry. The floor tile was also new and a basic one picked up at Lowes for $1.19/sq. ft

As you can see, it goes all the way up the wall! I love it and we get so many compliments on this aspect of the room.  It really provides an awesome effect and makes the space feel larger.  We bought the faucet from Overstock which they no longer sell however it was the Danze Como Single Hole Faucet.  The light fixture was the Ashland Double Sconce from Pottery Barn in satin nickel finish.

As you can see, this space is very small, so directly across from the sink is the new toilet.  We decided to go with a nice streamlined look and add the Kohler Archer Toilet

The frames were the finishing touch as I was waiting for them to come back in stock.  They are the gallery frames from CB2 and the photos are ones we picked up while visiting Italy a few years ago. They fit a 4x6 image but I love how unique they are because of the size and shape of them. Again, we wanted to make the room feel larger

The mirror, towel rack and toilet paper holder are all from the same line at Lowes.  It is called the Gatco Latitude and we loved how well it matched up with our sconce and kept the  more modern streamlined look of the space. 

Overall, we love the powder room update and can't wait to tackle another bathroom project design in the future.

Paint: Benjamin Moore Hot Springs Stone mixed in Olympic Paint at Lowes
Vanity: Kohler Archer at Home Depot
Sink: Kohler Archer Single Hole at Home Depot
Faucet: Danze Como Single Hole Faucet from Overstock (also at Home Depot)
Wall Tile/Floor Tile: Lowes
Toilet: Archer 2 Piece Toilet at Home Depot
Mirror: Gatco Latitude at Lowes
Toilet Paper Holder: Gatco Latitude at Lowes
Towel Ring: Gatco Latitude at Lowes
Double Sconce: Ashland Satin Nickel from Pottery Barn
Photos: Sketches from Italy

Linking up Here:

Tickled Pink at 504 Main
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Baker

Baking is a stress reliever for me and over the years, I have discovered many must have tools for the kitchen.  So, if you are looking for some gift ideas for those that love spending time in the kitchen, then here are a few suggestions.

The Ultimate Gift

I don't know what I would do without my Kitchen Aid Mixer. I got it almost 10 years ago and it is still going strong.  I love all the fun colors it is available in: I currently have red but am eyeing this aqua sky color!  Plus, there are a number of attachments available to turn this into the ultimate kitchen tool.

The Best Pans

I was gifted a loaf pan from this line two years ago at Christmas and I haven't looked back!  I now own several muffin pans as well as the baking sheets.  These are truly worth the extra cost and a great way to add to a collection and replace old pans over time.  I have never had pans that baked so evenly, cleaned up so easily and made all my desserts appear to look magazine worthy.

My Favorite Apron

By far these are a must have for any kitchen and at $19.95, they are a great price for a quality, durable, thick apron.  This is the only apron I have found that truly provides excellent coverage and I love all the fun colors!

The Best Scrapers/Mixing Tools

I currently own 3 varieties of these and as soon as they break (they are still going strong 5 years), I will replace them with new ones.  These scrape bowls and stir thick batters like no other mixer/scrapers I have found.  The skinny scraper is another favorite tool to get to the bottom of those pesky jars!

Mixing Bowls

I own an older version of this mixing bowl set and although they are ceramic, I still love using them for a variety of food prep as well as serving dishes!  They are colorful and add some brightness to my kitchen!

A Great Cookbook

My favorite banana bread recipe is the one from Flour Bakery and this cookbook does not disappoint.  The mouth watering recipes are a must try for any baker and it will quickly become one of your go to favorites!