Christmas Angel

I've tried to write this post multiple times in the last few days and keep struggling with the right words. There really are none. So instead I focused my energy on releasing some of my grief through another outlet.

Supplies: DHD Spring Menagerie papers; Butterfly Kisses elements by Karen Funk; 2peas Dragonfly font.


Santa's Magic Key

I saw the idea of Santa's Magic Key last year on Pinterest and meant to make one. The poem is the part I really love as it combines the magic of Santa with the real meaning of Christmas (find it here from Michelle at The Picadilly Post). I don't recall ever questioning Santa getting into a home without a chimney when I was little. I certainly didn't expect my almost 2 and a half year old to question it last year when our home didn't have a fireplace much less a chimney. I simply thought it would be fun and cute. And while we now do have a fireplace, it is gas so we still don't have a chimney. Thus, I finally finished this project!

I purchased the key last year at Michaels. I tried to find the dollar bin option mentioned in Michelle's post, but didn't have luck. Instead I found one in the jewelry section. It was a little bit pricier but not too bad with a coupon. Since I was never fond of the brass color, I used some bronze spray paint left from my bathroom hardware project to paint it.

The tag I made with fabric from my stash. I ironed freezer paper to the back, cut it to 8.5x11 and slipped it into the printer paper tray. I created a tag outline in Photoshop and added the poem plus a Santa graphic from Sara Schmutz's Jolly kit. I printed it to the fabric, peeled off the freezer paper and cut out the shape. Punched a hole in the tag using my Cropodile and added an eyelet (my scrapbooking stash pays off for all sort of crafty projects!). Then looped a red ribbon through to hang it on the door Christmas Eve and called it done.


Giveaway: Blurb Custom Planner

Hopefully you saw my post earlier in the month about my 2013 Blurb Custom Planner. It is gorgeous and I'm looking forward to using it to help keep organized in the coming year as I juggle my family's new schedule now that I'm working again.

Blurb was nice enough to not only share the opportunity with me to enjoy one of their planners, but one of my readers as well! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance to win a $25 gift certificate toward a Blurb Custom Planner. I'll announce the winner on Friday morning. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fine print - The giveaway winner will be emailed a one time use code that expires 2/28/13. Shipping is not included.

Updated 12/21/12 Congrats to Julie! Your code will be emailed to you.


And the Curtains Were Hung

As the holidays approach, we are slowly checking off items from our "to do" list around the house. (Even emptied a few more boxes! Yes, we still have plenty of boxes.) One that has made the most impact in the space we spend the most time - curtains in our family room:

We had curtains in every room in our last house. Partly because it was easy with the cats (oh how they loved to chew the mini blinds in our apartment once upon a time ago). All the windows in our new home had blinds already and the windows were different size/quantity than our old house so we only brought the guestroom pair with us. I ordered room darkening curtains for Dylan's room and hung them the day after we moved in. Partly to keep his room darker and because I'm still uncomfortable with corded blinds in his room.

Back to the family room though, I did quite a bit of searching to find the right style and colors to match our room. I struggled to find anything that I liked in a price that would also fit our current budget. Then I saw an idea on Pinterest (that I failed to pin from what I can tell) and searched for tablecloths instead. Sure enough in the kitchen section at Target I found 84" long tablecloths in a print I liked and in colors that matched our room. Since the room is in the southwest corner and faces wooded land designated for a future park, we didn't need lined panels. I simply clipped on curtain rings to hang. No sewing whatsoever.

I did end up visiting 3 local Target stores to get the 6 total tablecloths I needed for the 3 windows as the print I chose wasn't available online. We also picked up hardware there. I confess, I'm not thrilled with it. I would like larger curtain rods eventually, but for now it works. The simple act of hanging the panels added tremendously to the warmth of the room.

Slowly our new house is starting to feel like home.


[almost] Wordless Wednesday: Elf Fun

Day 4: hiding in Dickens' Village

Day 5: looking down from cabinets in the kitchen

Day 6: swinging from the dining room chandelier

Day 7: leaving magnet messages on the fridge

Day 8: playing with pinecones in the foyer

Day 9: hanging out in the family room

Day 10: reading to toy friends in the playroom

Day 11: perched a top our Christmas tree

Linking up to Wordless Wednesday and Sarah Halstead


Holiday Express

A month or so ago Trent purchased tickets for the Holiday Express at Pullen Park. Our first time going and we all enjoyed it. Dylan participated in several crafts (his ornament received a spot on the tree the moment we got home!), we rode the train, saw Santa (Dylan was so excited until one of the kids in front of us screamed while his mom forced him to sit for a photo - then he was terrified), we watched part of the Grinch on a big screen, and looked at the lights.

The photos barely give a glimpse into the fun. This is a definitely family tradition for years to come.

Supplies: Pressplate No 27 by Paislee Press; Christmas Magic kit by Karen Funk; Everyday Life by Karla Dudley; Century Gothic font.


Friday Freebie: Santa Photo

Each year we've managed to join our playgroup for a photo with Santa. This year we had 4 of the 6 moms & kids and, once again, the boys didn't want to be "alone" with the man in red. Forget how excited they were moments before. ;)

Although Dylan looks less than pleased in the photo, it's a favorite of his. Every time he sees the photo, he grins and exclaims "Santa!" Then names all of his friends. Maybe next year the boys will brave the photo without their moms? Maybe.

Supplies: Santa Photo template; Merry Little Christmas mini kit and paper set 3 by Erica Coombs; Messy Cursive - Holiday word art by Robyn Meierotto; The Basics - Patterned Brads by Sande Krieger; Century Gothic font.

Now the fun part ... I'm sharing the template I created for this layout with my readers! It contains 10 layers. The large photo mask on left is sized to fit 5x7 Santa photos. Use the 3 smaller masks for photos or papers. The template free for personal use only.

Click here to download the Santa Photo template 

Hope your holiday season is off to as fun of a start as ours is. Enjoy!

Have you missed one of my previous digital freebies? Click HERE to find them. And, don't forget to subscribe to my feeds so you won't miss future freebies!


Blurb Custom Planner

I ordered my 2013 planner from Blurb just before Thanksgiving and was excited to find it on my doorstep late last week. I spent a good bit of time filling it with photos from previous years. Lots of good memories.

The Blurb BookSmart software is free and very easy to use. I simply selected my photos, chose the page and added them. I also was able to add notes to specific dates in my calendar (ie, birthdays) that I wanted to remember.

I selected the 6x9 size with an ImageWrap hardcover. At first glance I could see how perfect the cover was. The printing is crisp. The corner edge from back photo to spine color is on the mark.

Inside, each page is exactly how I laid it out from images to text on special days.

The big monthly photos are fantastic.

The little weekly photos aren't quite as good. I knew they were small which is fine, but was surprised how many looked grainy. Most were taken with my DSLR (like the one below) although some with my point and shoot or iPhone. Regardless, I thought they might look a little better than they do.

That said, overall I'm very pleased with my new planner and am excited to start using it! Since you can select any date to start, I almost wish I'd started with December so I could be using it now.

Note: The 6x9 Custom Planner was provided to me at a discount by Blurb for reviewing. The opinions expressed within the review are my own.


There's An Elf in our House

On Saturday a special package arrived for Dylan.

Inside he found Christopher Pop-In-Kins! Dylan pulled him out before we realized that we aren't supposed to touch him (oops!) but we figured it must be okay this one time since Christopher needed to come out of the box. I set him up on the mantel where he could keep an eye on us and be safe from accidental touching. We don't want him to lose his magic!

Then we cuddled up on the couch to read the book and learn about our new elf. Dylan has been quite intrigued by him. We've never had an elf visit before. I assured him that it is ok to talk to Christopher, but that Christopher won't talk to anyone except Santa. Dylan has spoken to him several times. He's welcomed him, said good morning to him. And, there have been a few apologies for slightly naughty behavior.

We're curious to see each morning where our new friend is hiding. Yesterday we had to really hunt and finally discovered him high on a bookshelf in the playroom decorating Dylan's little tree. This morning he was a little easier to spot (although it still took Dylan a few minutes of checking other rooms) and even brought us a treat - snowman donuts!


New Beginnings

There was more to our trip to Great Wolf Lodge the other week than celebrating my birthday. We were also celebrating my new job and Dylan starting "school." Initially I'll be working 3 days a week with Dylan going to daycare those days.

On Monday I took him for a 3 hour visit to acclimate him to the classroom, teachers and other students. He had joined right in when we were touring daycares and did not want to leave so I felt pretty confident about our decision.

He was a bit clingy initially. After a few minutes, I encouraged him to try a toy he had enjoyed during our tour. Soon he was engrossed and a few of the other kids had joined him. I left and he was on his own until lunchtime. The teachers told me he did great! Participating and following directions. He was even eating noodles *with* sauce (unless it's mac 'n cheese he usually eats them plain) when I arrived to pick him up.

Today we begin his first full day at school and my first full day at my new job. Saturday I'll end my part time job in retail. I'm excited to still have time with Dylan during the week and have my nights & weekends free with both him & Trent now. Here's to new beginnings!


Fall Leaf Fun

A few photos I took of Dylan last week playing in the leaves in our backyard.

I wanted a photo or two of him in his Christmas sweater and decided to let him play. From my journaling: "The result was a lot of silliness, a lot of laughter, a lot of fun action photos and one really good smile shot." So much fun.

Supplies: The Last Warm Day mini kit by Agnes Biro; Framestatic by Juliana Kneipp; A Kind Word Vol. 3 by Deena Rutter; The Fiona kit by Rebecca Wagler; Another Typewriter font.


Vote 2012 - the layout

Each opportunity to vote, we take Dylan along with us to help expose him to this great privilege we have. Last month he & I went to an early voting site while Trent was at work. I snapped a quick photo of the two of us afterward using my iPhone.

Supplies: Blossom, All American, and In Bloom kits by Karen Funk; Digi Essentials 4 by Karla Dudley; Recollect kit by Sara Schmutz; Cut It Out masks by Robyn Meierotto; Autumnal Bits + Pieces elements by Erica Coombs; Century Gothic & Another Typewriter fonts. Scraplift of 'Relax' by Aria Andrus.


Birthday Weekend

I had one request for my birthday this year - a trip to Charlotte to get a couple things for our new home from Ikea. Not only did Trent agree, but we had a few last minute changes to our plans that led to a bit of extra fun. We went to Great Wolf Lodge first to celebrate. I confess, I was probably as excited as Dylan especially once I realized that this was the first time I've ever had a birthday pool party.

Trent booked a KidKamp suite which featured a "tent room" complete with a bunk bed for Dylan. For a first hotel stay, we set the bar high for him. He'll now think every hotel should have this:

Nervous that he'd try to sleep on the top bunk, we told him he had to be 5 to go up there. Amazingly, he believed us after trying to climb up and getting nervous about being so high. The next day at Ikea he even told Trent's aunt & uncle that you have to be 5 to get on the top bunk. ;)

Both Friday night and Saturday morning we played hard at the indoor waterpark in the resort. On Friday, Trent's cousin Laura joined us and helped keep an eye on Dylan so we could enjoy the big slides too.

I missed a photo of the one time Dylan tried a slide in the kids' area. There were a variety of water spraying/dumping mechanisms on the structure he had to climb to get to the slides and they made him nervous. Hopefully he'll be more willing when we join friends at the Williamsburg location in March.

After all our fun at Great Wolf, we spent 4 hours at Ikea with Laura & her parents (thanks for helping us entertain Dylan & load the car!) and then stopped in Greensboro on our way home for dinner with my dad and his wife. We returned late Saturday night, exhausted but full of good memories.


Thankful Turkey

I remembered making version(s?) of toilet tube turkeys as a child and decided to try it with Dylan a couple weeks ago. Rather than just making the turkey, we talked about a few things we were thankful for and incorporated them into the design. A simple way to address this season of Thanksgiving with my 3 year old and remind us daily as we see it on our mantle just how blessed we are.

  • toilet paper tube
  • construction paper
  • crayon or pencil or pen
  • scissors
  • glue (we used a glue stick and glue dots)
  • googly eyes (optional)
  • feathers (optional - could use instead of paper)
  • markers (optional)

To start our project, I drew feather shapes onto 4 pieces of construction paper. We talked about things we were thankful for and I wrote one on each feather. (Note here's where I made a small error - didn't plan ahead enough so two of our thankful things are upside down! Oops! My advice, write some on the far left & some on far right to leave enough space to glue and still see words.)

I held the paper while Dylan practiced his cutting skills with his new scissors - he loves any excuse to use them!

Next he glued each of the feathers to one side of the tube.

I helped him add glue dots to the back of the googly eyes. The dots make it so much easier for him to stick the eyes and they stay in place immediately - no waiting on glue to dry.

Then he glued on the beak and wattle I had cut out for him.

Here's the completed turkey:

And, yes, he thinks the wattle is the mouth. :)

A version of this post originally ran on November 1, 2012 for Arts & Crafts Thursday at Notes from a Mom in Chapel Hill blog here.


Wordless Wednesday: fall


theatre & lunch

Last month our playgroup spent the morning in downtown Durham getting a little culture. We visited the Carolina Theatre to see Skippyjon Jones and had lunch at a local spot, Dame's Chicken & Waffles (the gingerbread waffles? One word - amazing).

Supplies: Give Thanks papers by Sara Schmutz; Painted Textures by Robyn Meierotto; Autumnal Bits & Pieces by Erica Coombs; Album Cards by Karla Dudley; Just the Way You Are and Another Typewriter fonts.


Trick or Treat - the layout

Last year Dylan trick or treated with one of his playgroup friends. This year we drove over to our old neighborhood to meet up with one of his buddies there so they could go together. After one house, he said he was done. Thankfully, we were able to convince him to continue on with his friend and by the 2nd house he was hooked. He even helped hand out candy with his friend's father after we were done!

Supplies: DHD November Blueprint template by Jen Papadimitriou; Have a Hoot papers by Celeste Knight; Digi Essentials 2 by Karla Dudley; DHD Daydream Believer collaboration kit; Halloween Free by Jen Allyson; Trick or Treat & Country Fair kits by Sara Schmutz; Kooky Spooky kit by Miss Mint.


Half Bath Hardware Revamp

We've been knee deep in home improvement projects from the moment we closed on our new house. Day 1 started with all sorts of fun from changing door hardware to toilet repair (sorry no pictures of that excitement! Seriously crazy when the bolts holding the tank to the bowl literally fall out with a touch due to rust. Oy.). Last week I tacked a little project that had been an eyesore to me from the beginning, but small enough it wasn't a high priority either - the two toned brass & chrome hardware in our half bath.

I removed the hardware and took it outside where I wiped it down, gave it a light sanding and then painted it using Rust-oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint. I've spotted users all over the internet and was curious to see if it was as good as everyone said. After the first coat, I was a bit skeptical. Still wet, it was very shinny with lots of little flecks - almost like glitter.

Two more coats later (all because I kept missing spots) and allowing the full 24 hour dry period, I was excited. The hardware looked fantastic and brand new.

I was happy with the style of the hardware from the beginning, but now I love the color too. It's really warmed up the small room. And at $7.50 for the can of paint, it was far cheaper than replacing both pieces plus I still have some paint left for another project.

Next on the list for the half bath - new wall paint (fine with the current color but the flat finish is showing everything) and a new mirror (it has quite a bit of chipping along back edges). But for the moment I'm going to relax and enjoy that this part is checked off my to-do list.


NC State Fair 2012

Our visit to the Fair last month summed up in 16 photos ...

Supplies: Neutral Cardstocks by Audrey Neal; Toolbox Mist v1 by Gennifer Bursett; Protectors Set 2 by Karla Dudley; Another Typewriter & Century Gothic fonts.