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Thursday, December 18, 2014

a preschool Christmas

This is Jake's first year in a two day a week preschool and I love all the fun activities they get to do. 
For Christmas, I got to take reign of the kids' Christmas party. Yay!

I planned a craft, a game, and some snacks. Want to see how it all panned out?

We started with a snowman ornament crafts. I grabbed some plain plastic empty ornaments at Michael's. I also decided to go ahead and paint the faces on myself to avoid a messy paint issue and having to wait for them to dry.

The kids got to stuff cotton balls into the snowman. Awesome dexterity craft for a two year old!

For some fun, I also decided that we should do something a bit out of the box. You don't get much crazier than an indoor snowball fight, right?

So I parked in front of a few episodes of Call the Midwife and drummed up a bag full of snowballs... aka yarn pom poms. You can do these completely by hand {my tutorial here} or you can grab a pom pom maker for around $8 in most craft stores.

It was a hit! The kids absolutely loved tossing these soft "snowballs" all over the place. And especially at their teacher, haha. 

After all our energy was spent, it was time to load up on sugar. The kids had already eaten lunch, so I brought some fun snacks. 

A preschool chex mix of cheerios, raisins, pretzels, marshmallows and M&M's...

And these sweet melted snowman cookies! They were super fun to make and went great with my accidental snow theme!
Just sugar cookies, frosting in the shape of a puddle, a marshmallow head, and some little drawn on add ins for the snowman accessories. 

The kids all got to go home with a snowman {Olaf} goodie bag. I tossed in some candy, a jingle bell necklace, and some Christmas temporary tattoos.

Of course they all recognized Olaf and had to put on their jingle bells asap.

Overall, I think the kiddos had a great time. 
And I had a fun time putting it together! School parties are a new gig for me, but I think I'm going to like it!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

wrap it up

One of my favorite things about each Christmas time is deciding how I'd like to wrap my gifts. I know a lot of people just grab some bags and paper and call it a day, but I really enjoy coming up with a design or a style. Here is some of this year's inspiration...








These ideas are so beautiful. Though for someone like me, that's wrapping a billion presents, I probably need something a touch simpler that decorating each present with a chalk marker.

 I really love the neutral kraft paper look. Add a pop of color with some plaid paper and call it a day!

 No ribbons or bows this year. In an effort to keep it simple, I picked up these plain kraft tags. I'm adding each person's name on them with some little letter stamps.

Hope you're enjoying the holiday season as much as we are! 
... So much so that you'd like to volunteer to wrap the rest of the presents for us? Anyone? Bueller?
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

a new centerpiece!

We've been decking the halls around here in anticipation for Christmas!

One of my very favorite times of the season is our big family Christmas Eve dinner. So jazzing up the dining room table is always on my agenda. 

This year I had a new plan and asked J.B. to help me create a centerpiece.
Obviously, he happily obliged.

Pretty, huh?! I love it!

He built a basic box for me out of a 1 by 6 board. Nothing too fancy, just four sides nailed together and a base. This is built based on the dimensions of our table, so I'm sure each of our boxes would be a bit different. You'll really just want to make sure you cut two identical pieces for the width and two identical pieces for the length. Then add the bottom section to fit.

I stained mine with Minwax's Special Walnut
Then I filled the box with some fresh cedar garland and a few white tapers. Simple, elegant, and it even smells like Christmas!

Since this is more seasonal that just Christmas-y, I plan to leave it up as long as the garland lasts. And I'm kind of excited to see what other ways I can decorate it! Budding flowers in the spring, hydrangeas in the summer, pine cones in the fall. The possibilities seem pretty endless!

I hope your mistletoe is hung and your feasting table is ready! Only 16 more days until Christmas!

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

advent activity calendar {tutorial}

I have to say, Jake being super into Christmas this year is incredibly fun. Every new thing we do this season brings wide eyes and excitement. So while making my list of things I wanted to do as a family to celebrate the season, I decided just to anti-up and do an advent calendar.

Each day brings a new adventure! 

So here's how to put this into action:

I started by purchasing some little brown bags at the craft store. Nothing fancy. 
Using my number punches, I numbered each bag according to the advent countdown.

{I can't say enough good things about this set up punches. You can use them for so many things! I believe I grabbed them at Hobby Lobby when they were half off for about $10}

Next I had to create my cards to go into each bag. I'd love to show you a picture of the file I used in Illustrator to create these, but my program literally crashed the moment after I printed them. 
Basically I just sized them about like a credit card and used a typewriter style font to add an activity in each box. You can fit about nine cards on a page pretty easily. Then you just cut them out!

I laid all my little bags out on the table in order, and in the style of the calendar. This helped me put the right activities in the appropriate spot. Weekends were reserved for trips to the local Santa's Village or the Galaxy of Lights, whereas on a random Tuesday night our activity might be more low key, like reading a new Christmas book. 

Lastly I hung my calendar up on a large frame. I used simple baker's twine and tiny clothespins to attach everything. By tucking the cards inside, you can side the numbers pop even more. And as we take the cards out each day, the countdown changes!

My list of things varies from reading specific Christmas books, creating Christmas crafts, memorizing Scripture about the Christmas story, watching Christmas movies, going on Christmas outings to seasonal activities, etc. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to come up with 24 things that you're basically going to do anyway. The calendar just allows you to be more intentional in planning it. And I love watching Jake get excited about the new adventure we'll have each day!

And just because its already December 4th doesn't mean you can't add an advent calendar to your celebration this year! There are so many fun things to do to enjoy this beautiful season!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

currently {december}

I've had a taste for some good fiction lately. Right now I'm flying through The Deepest Secret and I have Reconstructing Amelia on deck. I'd recommend both! There's a lot of reading left to do if I'm going to make my end of the year goals.

Christmas music!! All day every day! I've just grabbed this album by the a cappella group, Pentatonix. I've enjoyed them since their stint on The Sing Off and they're Christmas songs have been all over social media and I've been loving it!!

The Advent! Jake is finally old enough to understand and enjoy so many things about this holiday season, and I've decided to do an advent countdown to Christmas for him. So fun!
I'll be back on Thursday to share what we're doing. In the meantime, here are a few other advent ideas that I found.

For Christmas this year, I asked Santa {aka J.B.} to redo our downstairs bathrooms. Nothing major, just some new paint and a bit of decor. As "Santa" paints my little walls, I've been dreaming up exactly what I want to go in there, and how to make it happen on a tiny budget. I can't wait to show you when its completed!

To get my Christmas cards out soon! I was a good girl and ordered them early, but they've sat in the box for quite awhile now as other things got in the way. I ordered from Tinyprints again this year, and as always, am super happy with the results. Their designs this year are completely lovely. Check out a few of my favorites:






Andplusalso, I just realized that Tinyprints has some fabulous money saving deals going right now! Grab those cards while the getting is good!!

Y'all. It's Christmas season. So basically everything. Baking cookies, visiting Santa, wrapping presents, drinking hot chocolate, singing carols, tons of yummy food, Christmas parties, reading the story of Christ's birth, Jake's choir concerts, seeing family... The list really could go on and on.

I just think Christmas is the most magical time of the year!

That's what I'm up to right now! 
I'm sure you're swinging into the holiday season with just as much gusto! Enjoy it!
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

paper feather place cards {tutorial}

My rule: No Christmas before Thanksgiving. 
I make some small exceptions, usually due to scheduling, but we're pretty tough about it. No Christmas decorating, music, etc, until after we've enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday.
And I'll be honest, y'all, its difficult. 

 Having said all that, the rule does really allow us to invest in Thanksgiving. We made a thankful tree this year and hung tags about what we're thankful for. Yes, Jake's tags were kind of hilarious at times {"oatmeal", "puddles", "the zoo" all made his list} but he really gets it. I love his sweet prayers every night as he's learning to thank God for all the wonderful things He's given us. 
We're also pretty excited about a day with family, yummy food and watching the Macy's parade. New float this year? Thomas the Train. Doesn't get any better than that for Jake. 

What about you guys? Are you prepping for a big Thanksgiving dinner? 
I think I got off pretty easy this year by hosting a brunch for my in-laws, then headed to my mom's house later for the main event.

But I did volunteer to whip up some place cards for the feast and I thought I'd share...

These were a great and simple design for the Thanksgiving holiday! 

Minimal supplies are also a big plus! I used brown craft paper {scrapbook paper style}, a little glue and string.

Start by creating you paper feathers. I used the same pattern from my feather garland to trace my feathers onto the craft paper. Then I made the little snippets into the feathers - no pattern needed there, just cut where ever you like!

Then I printed a page with all of our names on it. 
You're also welcome to hand write these! 
{the perfectionist in me would never allow that}

I cut these out in a banner fashion and then attached them to the feathers. A little stroke of glue stick helps keep the banners from flopping around and I added a sweet little string to make it pretty.

I love a pretty fall table! 
Soaking up this scene for a few more days!

A sweet little token to add to a great holiday! Can't wait to celebrate!

Friends, I hope you all have a beautiful Thanksgiving day!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

our favorite picture books {the second edition!}

We first shared our favorite pictures books in a post a few months back. Jake is 2 1/2, with a huge vocabulary and a great grasp on so many things. I honestly give a lot of credit for that to all the reading he does.

 As he grows and discovers more and more, I want to keep sharing what we're reading! So here's to the second edition of Jake's favorite picture books!

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Where the Wild Things Are is such a fun book! Jake loves the story of the little boy that dreams of a whole new world where he's king of the wild things. "I'll eat you up, I love you so!"


The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear is one of Jake's favorites. He can recite most of the story by himself and always cackles at the silly mouse trying to save his lunch.


Otis was a bookfair buy when Jake and I visited my mom's school. We are all thinks truck/tractor/car/train so the moment I saw it, I knew it would be great. This is a sweet story of friendship between a little calf and Otis the tractor. And if your little one loves the first Otis book, there are several more in the series!


The Very Busy Spider is just one book in our Eric Carle collection. I can't say enough good things about his beautiful books and illustrations. {Remember that I was even inspired to create an Eric Carle nursery for Jake!} All of the farm animals wish to play with the spider and Jake loves to make the noise for each one.


The Little House is a beautiful story of an old house that watches time pass and everything change around it. Virginia Lee Burton always tells wonderful tales and her books have the sweetest illustrations {author of great books like Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, and Katy and the Big Snow}. Jake loves to look at each new scene around the house as the pages turn.


Big Red Barn is probably the most read book in our home. We've been turning the pages of this book since Jake was an infant. It's a perfect bedtime book, filled with gentle animals headed to sleep.


Oh the Places You'll Go is a great book about adventure and courage. It's great advice and encouragement for both little ones like Jake and even an adult! Jake loves the funky pictures and silly Seuss rhymes!


Madeline is the original story of twelve little girls in two straight lines, with the feisty Madeline bringing up the rear. Another classic story that Jake loves to recite as we read it.


The Little Engine That Could is a must-have not only for the train obsessed, but for any sweet kiddo. This precious story of the the little engine that says "I think I can, I think I can". Obviously a big winner in our house!

As always, our favorites are subject to change. I'm sure we'll be back in a few more months with some great new reads to share! 

What about you? What are your favorite picture books?

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