Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Favorite Children's Books

Earlier today I was making a list of our favorite toys to share with all of you to give you a few gift ideas (coming soon!).  It occurred to me while I was thinking about the toys my kids love and play with again and again that books should be at the top of that list.  We try to be careful about over doing it with toys (our kids get them for Christmas and birthdays and if they save their own money for something), but books?  Well.  I personally believe you can never have too many books.  Especially children's literature!  It is by far my favorite.  

Every year for Christmas we pick out several new books to give our kids and sure enough years later, while they may or may not be playing with their past Christmas toys, we are definitely still enjoying the books they received.  So I thought I'd share a few of our all time favorites that get read again and again and again around here!  

Olivia - The Olivia books crack me up.  My girls and I get such a kick out of that spunky little pig.  :)

Owen - I adore all of Kevin Henkes books (Lily's Purple Plastic Purse is also a favorite!).  But Owen is especially adored around my house because my kids and I all have special blankets in our lives.   :)

Today I feel Silly - I used to read this darling book to my 4th and 5th graders on the first day of school and then talk about how we all come each day with different feelings.  Such a good book to talk about moods and how normal they are.  My kids love the story and moving the different faces around at the end of the book.  

The Day the Crayons Quit - I mentioned this darling book in an earlier post.  It's a new book for us this year that we love.  SO funny!  And creative and just cute for everyone.  Big hit with my kids.  

The Empty Pot - Oh I adore this book.  Kenny gave it to me our first Christmas together.  (All I asked him for was children's books to start my teaching career!)  It is such a darling story that teaches the importance of honesty in such a profound way.  One of my all time favorites.  

Tops and Bottoms - FUN book.  Teaches kids to use their brains to get ahead.  The illustrations are beautiful and it opens from top to bottom instead of side to side.  My kids love that.  

Fanny's Dream - I adore this book!  If you haven't read it, you must.  The lesson it teaches will stay with you.  This book is such a treasure.  

Because my 4 year old little buddy and I spend so much time reading together each day I thought I better share his top picks.  These are the books we read over and over.  And then over and over again.  And then one more time.  :)  If you have a son, grandson, nephew, cousin - any little boy ages 2-6 in your life you need to buy for - these books are guaranteed to be a hit!  

The Monster at the end of this Book - We have several copies of this book because it was such a hit with Kole and I could only find the small one to photograph.  If you haven't bought your little one (boy OR girl) this book DO IT!  It's hilarious!  Grover keeps getting more and more upset with every page you turn because he's scared of the monster at the end of the book.  Which turns out to be him by the way.  (Spoiler alert!)  It's so cute and will have your child squealing and laughing out loud.  

How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad? - All the Dinosaur books are a hit with my buddy but this is his favorite.  I think we've read it a total of 1,289 times.  At least.  

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear - All three of my kids LOVED this book.  Such a cute, simple story and I love it for bedtime because it isn't crazy long.  :)

Go Away Big Green Monster - This was Kole's number one for about a year (age 3).  Very simple, cute story for little ones who are into monsters.  As many 3 year olds are.  

Digger Dozer Dumper - A gift from Kole's grandma.  If you know a little boy who is into trucks this is a darling book.  Kole has it practically memorized and we talk over and over about what each truck does.  Darling illustrations.  Huge hit at our house.  

Leonardo and the Terrible Monster - Another favorite monster book with a cute surprise ending.  

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site - A gift from Kole's other grandma.  Both of his grandma's gave him truck books last year and both books were huge hits!  This is such a cute story saying goodnight to the trucks before bedtime.  

We have a collection of most of the Dr. Seuss books but these are the two my three kids all loved the most!   

This is our ALL TIME favorite book for kids ages 1-3.  My kids loved this Wheels on the Bus book so much.  It's full of movable parts that they just couldn't get enough of.  The only problem with it is that your little one will destroy it if they are left alone with it.  It was a book I didn't let my kids look at on their own - just a special one for me to read at story time.  

I still ended up replacing it with each child and our current (and third) copy has tape holding it together.  :)  But totally worth it!  My kids all LOVED this book.  If you are buying for a 1-3 year old, look no further.  This book will be a hit!

And it goes without saying that we are HUGE Little Critter fans around here!  This collection is just too adorable.  I think these books are just as much fun for grown ups as they are for kids.  :)

If you are having a hard time thinking of a gift for a child in your life consider a book instead of a toy!  Chances are it will last much longer and make more of a memory and impression on their life.  My mom always wrote a little note to us on the inside cover of books she bought us with the date.  I now do the same for my kids.  Personalizes the gift that much more.  :)  

At some point I'll share books for older kids that we adore as well.  My girls are reading books that I loved in Elementary school right now.  Love that!  There is nothing as magical as getting lost in a good book.  

Happy Reading (and shopping!) everyone!

Feel free to add one of your child's favorite books in the comments!  
We are always on the hunt for great literature.  

p.s.  If interested you can also check out our favorite Christmas books and our favorite Christmas movies.  Tis the season!  :)  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Creative Turkeys

Happy Turkey week everyone!  Such a fun one.  My kids are out of school all week and I'm thrilled.  Low key mornings and no homework.  YEA.  Plus such a fun holiday to look forward to!  This will be a different Thanksgiving for our little family because we are on our own!  We usually visit family in Utah, but because of activities my girls can't miss this week we are staying put.  Which means I'm on my own to cook Thanksgiving dinner.  Which means I will be working hard to find a delicious, affordable pre-made meal that I can order and pick-up.  Kidding!  
Ok.  Not kidding.  :) 

A few days ago my mom sent me a text picture of this turkey.  Isn't he adorable and hilarious!?  Good way to use your left over Halloween pumpkins!

 Simple feathers from the craft store stick into the back of the pumpkin.  

Then because it was all she had on hand, a lemon became the face.  My sweet nephew colored on the eyes.  :)  Gobble gobble.  (Very impressed at your level of craftiness with this one mom.)

It got me thinking about a turkey craft I could do with my kids this week for fun.  A few years ago we gave the kids apples, dots and toothpicks while we were preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

It's pretty much the easiest "make a turkey" which is why it was such a hit.  The girls loved it.  I'm going to do it again this year because I know my little buddy will have fun with it too.  Plus I'll need something to keep the kids busy while I'm picking up our meal waiting for the rolls to bake.

A fun idea for older kids is to give them a turkey head and feet and have them come up with a way to "disguise" their turkey.  Ad and I came up with this cupcake turkey disguise last year.  Although it made us want to eat the turkey even more so not sure it was the best "disguise" for him.  

I looked around on Pinterest to get a few other ideas.  There are SO many fun turkeys!  Here are the three things I narrowed it down to that we are going to attempt this week... 

I like these Oreo turkeys because they look simple.  When it comes to food it has to look like something I can actually do.  Plus we have leftover candy corns and pretzels are a staple around here so we should be able to pull this one off!

I adore anything that has a picture of my kids on it (what mom doesn't?) so I fell in love with these "from your favorite turkey" cards.  This would be fun to give teachers, friends and grandparents this time of year.  We are making these for sure.  For someone.  
Maybe just for mom.  :)

This last one is too much fun!  Another must make for us since my husband has warned us all countless times about the amount of football he plans to consume this week.  Thanksgiving is his all time favorite holiday and while he says it's because of the love and family, we all know the truth.  Let's just say the kids and I will have plenty of time to complete these creative craft ideas.  

And to break out the Christmas movies in another room.  


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My FAVORITE Things from 2014!

YEA!!  It's that time of year!  If you've read my blog for long you know that I love sharing my favorite things.  When I find something I'm excited about, I get even more excited to share it with all of you!  I post random favorite things often throughout the year, but each November/December it's especially fun to round up my top picks.  Some of these things I've shared before and some I haven't.  Regardless, hopefully my favorites from 2014 will give you some fun holiday gift ideas!  (Links to products are below each picture.)

Ok.  First up is this white lattice tray from Target.  I bought one last year and loved it so much in my family room that when it went on sale for half price I bought 3 more!  They sold out quickly and I just saw them back in Target again so if you want one don't wait!  I've used them all over my house.

One in the family room on the coffee table, this one in my master bathroom, one in the girls' bathroom and one in my closet.  Fun, stylish, inexpensive decor!

While we're talking stylish Target decor you all know how I feel about my black/white/gold pitcher.  Truly one of my favorite accessories I bought for the house this year!  I just love it.

It "completes me."  And my Fall Console Table.  :)  Would make such a fun Christmas gift!  You could fill it with all sorts of things or it can stand alone.  

LOVE this fun set of mixing bowls from Crate and Barrel so much!  They are perfect sizes (I use the largest three the most), have rubber on the bottom so they don't slip, and of course I adore the colors.

Perfect for baking and cute enough to work for decor.  Aqua mixing bowls for the win!  

K.  I know.  This was a favorite thing last year.  But I love it too much to not include it in this year's round up!  Probably my all time favorite thing.  Ever.  I use it all the time.  If you are an organizer at heart like I am, you need this in your life.  Plus it's on sale!  We are getting our homes organized in 2015 together everyone so arm yourself!  And be ready.  :)

Have you all seen these?  This is my Scotch Paper Cutter and it works so well!  I always use it to cut wrapping paper.  SO much easier than scissors to cut an even, straight line.  Here's a fun gift idea that friends have done for me in the past.  Buy some gift wrapping supplies - paper cutter, tape, tags, wrapping paper, ribbon, etc. and wrap them up in a cute basket.  Give them to friends/neighbors the first week in December.  Such a useful and fun gift!  Plus you're done with your gift giving early.  Love that!  

I don't have time to read as much as I'd like, but I did pull off reading a handful of books this past year that I've been wanting to read for a long time.  My favorite of the bunch was EAT THAT FROG by Brian Tracy.  Such a great book about time management (a subject that has always fascinated me!).  I would highly recommend it if you want to learn a few tips on getting more done in your day.  (Who doesn't want that!?)  I'm going to go over some of the tips I learned from the book and have tried to implement at some point, but until then, a fun stocking stuffer!  (If you're a dork like me who gets excited about time management books.)  

This is something else I get excited about.  It's a Clarisonic.  A little secret to cleaner skin!  You wash your face with it each night with your regular cleanser and it removes so much more dirt/make-up off of your face than without it.  My dermatologist recommended it to me and I have loved using it each night.  They come in all different sizes and styles and colors (didn't get a pic of mine - it has flowers on it) so do a little research before you buy one to see which one is right for you.  They are a bit pricey, but after using mine for a year I can honestly say they are worth the money.  My skin looks and feels better so much better when I use it to wash my face.  A great Christmas gift if you are looking for something really nice for your mom/sister/friend.  Or maybe a fun idea for you from Santa?  :)  

Speaking of fun beauty products, this is my ALL TIME favorite new make-up for 2014.  You put it under your eyes before your concealer and it really minimizes any dark circles/bags. You know - for if you stay up WAY too late blogging about favorite things and your eyes look terribly scary the next morning because of it.  (#everymorningforme)  I wear the Light Bisque 2 so if you have fair skin that's a good shade to try.  I love this product so much!  Happy I decided to try it this year.  (You can see my other favorite make-up products here.)  

One of my favorite things from 2014!  Last year for Christmas my sister bought my husband a laptop desk.  One night I decided to use it to blog.  He hasn't seen it since.  :)  I've always used my laptop more than our desk computer because I work on my blog at night after the kids are in bed.  It's my down time so I like to be comfy.  Pajamas on, feet up, popcorn nearby.. you get the picture.  SO nice to have a little desk that sits comfortably on my lap to hold my computer.  The one we have is a little different than the one pictured above (silver and black) but I couldn't find it on-line.  I looked for one similar and found this adorable lap desk in blue!  So cute.  Maybe I need to get me the blue one and give my husband his back.  :)  This is a great Christmas gift for someone who is always on their laptop!  

Love these muffin pans!  I mentioned them on the blog before and they have definitely become a favorite of mine.  They are flexible and bend easily so you have to hold them carefully when they're full, but the are so easy to clean!  Just rinse them off.  Done.  I was thinking it would be fun to give them to friends or neighbors with a favorite recipe attached.  Perhaps my banana bread muffin recipe?  You didn't see that one coming now did you.  ;)    

So those are my favorite things from the year!  I feel like I'm forgetting something so I may have to add to this list.  I have too many favorites!  So fun.  More favorites will be coming!  Gift ideas for the kids and of course all of my friend's favorite things from the annual Favorite Things party we look forward to all year.  I hope these gave you a few ideas for gifts!  Below are past Favorite Things if you are new to my blog.  

Happy gift giving everyone!  


Linking up at 320 Sycamore where you can find more favorite things!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmas decor ideas (and my thoughts on early Christmas decorating)

The kids and I decorated our Christmas tree tonight.  We just couldn't wait one. more. minute.  In fact, I have been slowly adding Christmas touches to my house for the past few weeks.  This is a time of year and a season that I enjoy and look forward to all year.  For me it's not about Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day (although I cherish those as well) but more about the whole season together and what it represents.  Thankfulness, gratitude, love for our Savior and love for each other.

Making my house feel magical for my family during this special time of year brings me so much joy.  I like to spread it out!  Decorate when the mood strikes.  Add a little here and a little there. I don't like to feel rushed.  The smell of fresh greenery and the lights of the Christmas tree add such a warmth and coziness to our home.  I want to enjoy it for longer than the few weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas!  The holiday lights remind me of how much I have to be grateful for.  They remind me to slow down and cherish this time with my family.

I know a lot of people like to wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas.  That's great.  Some years we have done that too.  I believe you should do whatever feels right for your family.  For our family it felt right to turn on some Christmas music and decorate our tree today.  We were all in the mood and had a blast.  :)  There is no right or wrong when it comes to holiday decorating.  We plan to fully celebrate Thanksgiving and feel gratitude for all we have next to the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree.  Sounds magical to me!

If you are like our family and are already decorating or thinking about decorating for this special time of year, I've rounded up some of my favorite Christmas decor ideas I've found on-line.  I hope these pictures give you a few ideas and inspire you as much as they do me!

I love to see creative ways to use simple ball ornaments because they are so inexpensive!
Love these ornaments hanging from the mantel.  

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Also a fun way to dress up a window.

Or an open frame.

Or a staircase.  

It's pretty common to see wreaths in windows (love them!) but I also adore this idea of multiple smaller wreaths.  

Another creative way to use a wreath!  

I love fresh greenery.  Aside from its intoxicating smell, I love the simplicity and elegance it adds.  If you didn't want to put it up and down your whole staircase, I love the idea of just placing some at the bottom of the stairs.  Add a few ornaments and ribbon if you want to dress it up.

Love this fresh greenery around the chandelier and in a simple box with candles.  

Fresh greenery with pine cones and ornaments on a bench.  Fun way to greet your guests!

And how fun is this greenery in a Coca-Cola crate?  

Or in a basket with apples.  

Or a basket with ornaments.  Add fresh greenery to just about anything for instant Christmas decor.

These small socks are so much fun for a Christmas table setting.  

And I have always been a fan of using candy canes in Christmas decor.  Another inexpensive way to add some holiday cheer!

I have always been so smitten with mini Christmas trees.  Minimal decor - just a few ornaments and they are simply adorable.  

Chalkboards are another fun way to bring the Christmas spirit into your home.  I love the simplicity of this mantel with the chalkboard "Believe," candles and greenery.   

Pine cones in apothecary jars make fun, easy holiday decor.  

This picture is one of my favorites!  So warm and cozy.  It makes me want to plop down in that chair with a good book and never leave. 

There is something about Christmas decor that just stirs up happiness for me.

You too?

I'm off to enjoy the twinkling lights of our tree.