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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 {a year in review}

2014! Gone!

We've had a great year here on the blog. Tons of ideas and yummy treats and random fun! Here's a highlight reel of our popular posts of the year.

In January we started of the year with a couple of tutorials: 



In February, Jake got to take his very first Valentines to school and we created a fun spring garland for the kitchen.



March was all about Jake's second birthday! There was a special post about his party invites and then the train party itself!




In April we made a yummy strawberry crunch cake and revamped our home office into a comfy space.



May had some awesome how-tos with the rope coaster tutorial and the mason jar citronella candles!



In June, Jake and I got creative with a fun dino photo holder for J.B. for Father's Day.
And later that month, I tried my hand at chalk paint for the first time.



In July, Jake's bathroom got a fun face lift and I also create some diaper straps for a few expectant friends.



August brought on some fun kids tutorials with this chalk block city and the kids' kitchen play set!



In September I made my very favorite burlap ruffle wreath and finally debuted Jake's new explorer room!



October brought on the fall! We tasted this yummy autumn dip and got to show off our Halloween costumes!



In November I talked about our favorite picture books and created this fun tassel key chain.



If you haven't already guessed, December brought on ridiculous amounts of sickness {plus a totaled car and surgery for Jake!} so we were pretty bogged down. But before all that madness, I did get to create a pretty new centerpiece for the dining room and a Christmas advent calendar for Jake.



And we enjoyed lots of other things like reviews, giveaways, and general life banter.
 I hope you've had fun following along with us!
Can't wait to see what 2015 will bring!

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!

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?

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!

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!