Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas decor 2012

Popping in to say hello and share some pics of our Christmas decor this year.  I starting working on this post on Christmas Eve while Kenny, Kole and my dad were all taking Christmas Eve naps.  :)  But then the girls and I turned on It's a Wonderful Life and the house smelled so good (combination of my candle and my mom's cooking) that I was forced to close my computer and savor the day.  And now I'm posting Christmas decor pics after Christmas.  But I can live with that.  Hope you can too.  :)

I didn't have a lot of time to be creative this month so my Christmas decor is very similar to last years.   

Stockings were hung on my hutch again.  Safely out of my little buddy's reach.  :)

  I just tossed up white pitchers and some greenery - things I had on hand.  

I also added some of my glass bottles and jugs.   

The only new purchase was this fun little reindeer I found for a steal at Home Goods.  
I think he is simply charming and the two of us have become fast friends.  

Love seeing my kiddos' stockings all lined up.  
The girls left the sweetest little notes in each of them for Santa and Mrs. Claus.  :)

Last year I decided to try out a more winter-y look with my mantel and stuck with a silver and aqua theme.  But I didn't love the greenery with the blue and I felt like it was missing something.  RED.  

So this year I switched things around a bit and added a red wreath.  I found this wreath at Michaels for 4 bucks!  It adds the perfect pop of red I was looking for.  I love inexpensive wreaths like this because then I don't feel guilty buying a new one each year.  It's so fun to mix things up!  

After I hung my wreath I asked Kenny if it would look better with a red ribbon holding it up instead of a silver ribbon and without even looking up from his laptop he answered "that's out of my skill set."  
My babe.  What would I do without him.  

I tossed a few red, aqua and silver ornaments in my apothecary jars.

And added a little bling to reindeer #2 I picked up at Home Goods.  Because I was having too much fun with the reindeer on my hutch to stop there.

I think he looks regal.
He is so happy in his new home.

I had a few leftover ornaments so I tossed them in mason jars and added them to a few random spots around the house.  

Same winter-y frames from last year.  (Scrapbook paper project here.)

And I hung the same silver/aqua ornaments from our dining room light fixture.  

 (decor from 2010)
You'll notice I had things on the floor and on low counters and tables.  
A sure sign of the "pre-Kole era" as we like to call it.  :)

This year tables stayed wiped clean.  I also swapped out my Merry Christmas quote for my red bird.  

Because change is a good thing.  

And then I called it a day and my 2012 Christmas decor was complete!  

Oh!  Except for my pantry door holding all of our past pics on Santa's lap.  So fun to see how much my babies have grown each year.  This year there was hardly room on Santa's lap!  

But I will keep taking them to sit on Santa's lap.  
As long as I possibly can.  


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Santa came!  :)
So much love and excitement. 
We had a wonderful Christmas.  

Wishing the same to you and yours!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Time Management Notepad

Wow.  Christmas is in less than a week!  Are you ready?  I'm not.  No matter how hard I try to avoid scrambling during the last week of December, I'm always scrambling during the last week of December.  Oh well.  I guess it wouldn't be Christmas without a bit of that "harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in" feeling.  :)  Because this has been an especially busy December for us with added new house meetings I have had to work really hard to stay organized and on top of things.  Usually I use my time management binder each day to help me organize my life.  (Time management binder post here.)  

I still love my binder.  It is where I completely DUMP my brain each day.  But once the month of December hit I could tell I needed to simplify things.  So I made a drastic change.  My Time Management Binder became My Time Management Notepad.  Ok.  Maybe not so drastic after all.  :)  But I've been surprised at how much better this notepad has served my needs this month.  

I don't have time for any of the "extra" stuff right now (home projects, scrapbooking, etc.) so I kept things simple by buying a 5 subject notepad and dividing it into the four main areas I need to focus on each day.

I placed my favorite Martha Stewart home office dividers on each of the notepad folders...

and labeled them TO-DO's, NEW HOUSE, BLOG, CHRISTMAS.  Obviously these tabs would be different for everyone, but the idea is to break your to-do's down into 3 or 4 basic categories.  What I like about the notepad vs. the binder is that #1 - there aren't as many categories (like I said, I needed to simplify)  #2 - there is more paper and with the spiral binding it's easier to use to take notes.  I am taking a lot of notes these days.  Like the binder, there is a pocket folder for each section to hold loose papers.  

Here is how I've organized the Christmas section of my notepad this year.  And yes, I realize that while my notepad has helped me organize for Christmas, I wasn't organized enough to get this post done at the beginning of the month to help you!  (SO SORRY!)  I'm hoping this gives you some ideas for next December.  Never to early to start planning ahead.  :)

I used the pocket to hold random magazine clippings of toy ideas for the kids.  I've also used it to hold receipts.  I hang on to all of my Christmas shopping receipts so that if we need to do an exchange/return after the holiday we have the receipt ready to go.  It's nice to have them all in one place.

On the paper inside the Christmas section I've written LOTS of things:

- Friends to add to our Christmas card list this year and addresses that have changed.
- What I've bought for each of the kids and where I have it stashed.  Without this I would totally forget where I have things hidden.  I've had to get so creative because we are tight on space and my girls are SNEAKY.
- A list of extended family.  Gift ideas and what I've already bought each of them.  **You can see why I couldn't share these pages on my blog.  :)
- A list of friends/neighbors I am giving gifts to and what I'm giving each of them.  I check each person off after their gift has been delivered.
- Grocery list for Christmas Eve/Day dinner.  My mom is coming to our house this year for Christmas so we will have real meals!  YEA!
- Random Christmas to-do's including traditions/activities I want to for sure remember to do with my kids (make our Pretzel Hugs, visit Christmas Card Lane, etc.)

The Christmas section of this binder has been so helpful for me this month.  Each year after December I write down a list of things I want to do better/change for next year and I'll include that in this section too.  That way next year I can glance through my notes (hopefully early Fall) and get a jump start on a few things.  So that next year will be the year I don't have that "harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in" feeling.  :)

The New House section has also been a huge help for me this month.  I keep random magazine clippings and notes that I need in the folder.  Plus I love having the notebook to take with me to the house.  It's so easy to use for jotting down notes.

These are a few things I've been working on this week.  See why my blog posting has slowed down a bit?  :)  Every day there are decisions that need to be made which always involve research and a lot of phone calls and e-mails.  Having it all in front of me in my notepad has really helped me stay on top of things.  Nothing makes me happier than pulling out a page of house notes and tossing it knowing those decisions are behind me!  I think this system would work great if you are doing any re-modeling or re-decorating too.

The BLOG section of my notebook is where I jot down ideas for blog posts and a sad attempt of a posting schedule that I never really follow.  :)  

The TO-DO section in the front of my notebook is for all of those random day to day things that come up.  It's my go to list each day to keep my schedule straight.  I try to only write down things I HAVE to get done that day.  There are so many things I'd love to do, but writing too many things down always overwhelms me and then I never get that satisfying feeling of checking everything off of my list.  One of my best time management tips if you are struggling to stay on top of your life is to determine what your priorities are and be ruthless about trimming unnecessary stuff.  I have had a hard lesson in that this year!  Along with that, only write down your must do's each day.  Be specific and realistic.  If you keep your list short you are more likely to actually accomplish it.  If there's extra time you can always do more.  Ok.  Maybe that was more than one time management tip.  You know how I feel about this topic.  :)

The only part of my binder that was lacking was my section to keep sticky notes for my "to-buy" lists.    

So I added them on the inside of the front cover of my notebook.  When I'm running to Target I grab the Target list and toss it in my purse.  My love affair with sticky notes lives on.

So as you can see, this is very similar to my binder.  I just took out the extra stuff that wasn't a priority and added things that are a priority in my life right now.  This would obviously look different for each of you, but the idea is the same.  Having a place to dump your brain and organize your thoughts makes a world of difference.

Now if I could just get my handy little notepad to wrap all of my Christmas presents for me....


Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Santa

This is one of several "drafts" of El's Christmas letter to Santa.  Her top two wish list items keep changing (Santa has learned to hold off on toy making for this child!).  Her top two items change, but wish #3 stays the same.  For "everyone in the hole univers to have a wonderfull christmas and a happy new year."

That is my wish this year too sweet Ellie.

And p.s.  Santa loves you too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tears and Prayers

I have tried a few times this weekend to write something about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary but the tears fill my eyes so quickly.  They blur the computer screen and I haven't been able to finish.  I don't know that right now will be any different.  But I feel like I need to write something.  Even though I don't really know what to say.  I am feeling the same emotions we all are - immense sadness, anger, frustration, despair.  Those precious babies.  The little ones who lost their lives on Friday were the same ages as my girls.  It's such a magical age.  Those sweet innocent children went to school on Friday excited to see their teachers and friends.  Excited to learn.  Excited for recess.  Excited for Santa to come.  I can't stop thinking about those amazing teachers and the principal.  How terrified they must have been.  They were all heros.  I can't stop thinking about the parents hearing the news and not knowing if their child was safe or not.  Not knowing if their friends' and neighbors' children were safe or not.  I can't imagine a worse feeling.  This heartache affects so many people.  Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, the whole community.  The whole nation.  We are all grieving.  So many lives will never be the same.  I want to scream.  I want to rewind time and do something to stop this from happening.  I want to hold my kids so close and never let them leave our house.  But all I can do is cry and pray.  My prayers go out to everyone at that school.  To the community of Newton Connecticut.  Such a beautiful small town that reminds me for all the world of the beautiful small town I grew up in.  This just all hits too close to home.

Children, staff, and families from the Sandy Hook Elementary School - there is nothing anyone can say or do to take away your pain.  But I pray that you will feel the overwhelming amount of love and sorrow and empathy that we are all feeling.  I pray that you will know how loved you are.  How loved your precious angels are.  I pray that you will feel Gods love and know your angels are safe with Him now.  I pray that you will feel His arms around you.  That you will feel peace and strength and the support of a nation during this most difficult time.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A few more random favorites

   A few more favorites today!  I'm on a favorite kick and there's just no stopping me.  :)  

FRESH BALSAM CANDLE from Bath and Body Works.  You know I love this candle.  I think I mentioned it over 50 times last December.  K.  Maybe not 50 times, but a lot.  I've had it burning this year since mid November.  I picked up several after Christmas last year when they went on sale.  :)

Makes the whole house smell like a fresh Christmas tree.  I think it's the best Christmas smell ever.  They've changed the label this year (it's a Christmas tree instead of a pine cone), but it's the same heavenly smell.  

Last year I gave them out as gifts and just last week I received a sweet e-mail from a blog reader.  Here is her testimonial about my beloved candle:

I just had to send you a huge THANK YOU for introducing me to the BEST CANDLE EVER. I am not a candle person but every year I just kept reading about your love for the Bath and Body Works Fresh Balsam candle…..this year when I went shopping they had them 50% off (only $10) so I gave it a try. We have literally burned the candle every day since it was received. My husband even loves it. I love that it fills my house with the smell of chopping down my own Christmas Tree.

I have been reading your blog for the longest time. I love everything about it!! I am not one to ever email or comment on blog posts – but I quite literally thank you every time we light our candle. The thing is almost gone – and I have to get another before the season is over.

Thank you so much for sharing your “favorites” – I have picked up quite a few new favorites of my own, including this amazing candle…who knew J

Have a very Merry Christmas!

-       Your loyal blog reader

YEA!!  E-mails like that MAKE my day.  Lindsay, thank you again for such a sweet e-mail and I am thrilled that you love the candle as much as I do!

Her e-mail was so timely.  It literally popped up in my inbox the same day that I was working on this post and adding my candle pictures.  It was a sign!  I had to ask her if I could share it.  I needed back-up.  Proof that the candle is fabulous!


KEY FOB - Love this.  Comes in all different styles and is so handy for holding and finding your keys in your purse.  It comes in especially handy if you have little ones you are constantly carrying and loading in and out of the car.  I never lose my keys anymore!

Pajamas!  I'm not linking to any specific pair (these are some from J Crew my mom bought me and my sister and sister in law for this December).  I just had to include pajamas in my favorites list because I love a good pair of pajamas.  Who doesn't!?  I said to Kenny once "it drives me crazy how our girls put on their pj's the second we're home and then if we leave the house again I have to get them dressed."  He answered "where do you think they get that from?"

Hmmm.  Let me think.  :) 

I do love a good pair of pajamas.  

Of course what's better than pajamas?  Pajamas with a pair of house shoes of course.  :)  My sister gave me these UGG HOUSE SHOES last year for Christmas and I have lived in them ever since.  So comfy.  If I'm in my house, I have them on.  

Uggs can be a bit pricey so if you want a great pair of house shoes that don't cost a fortune try Dearfoams.  Same look and so soft.  My mom just gave me these with the pj's and they are just as comfy as the Uggs!  (I think she got them at Costco.)  They just have a soft sole vs. a hard one.  Both pairs are so soft and warm!  

I also love my Gap house shoes I've had for a few years.  I couldn't find these at Gap this year, but they have similar fun ones at Old Navy.  A girl can never have too many shoes and house shoes are no exception!  :)

POPCORNOPOLIS - Have you tried this popcorn?  The "Zebra" flavor?  Oh. My. Word.  It is so delicious!  And dangerous!  I can go through this stuff so fast.  It never lasts long around here.  One of my favorite treats for sure.  I picked up these fun packages of four flavors at Costco and this is what we are giving friends and neighbors this year.  (So friends and neighbors who are reading - one is coming your way soon.)  :)  You should see these piled up in my garage right now.  It's all I can do to not sneak into them and bust out the Zebra bag!  (Wonder if anyone would notice?)  :)  If you wanted to spend a little more for someone, a fun gift idea is to add movie tickets with the popcorn.

MARTHA STEWART OFFICE SUPPLIES.  I know.  I've mentioned them enough.  But everyone is in the "time to get organized" mind set in January so I think fun organizers like these labels make a great Christmas gift.  Any organizer would actually make a great Christmas gift.  You can check out my "oh the organizers" post for more ideas in that beloved category.  :)

WILLIAMS-SONOMA DISHCLOTHS.  I love them.  They are by far my favorite dishcloths.  They are $10 for a pack of four and they hold up so well.  Just today I went to Williams-Sonoma and bought five sets of them for gifts.  I had them wrapped with my favorite OXO dish scrubber I mentioned yesterday.  I'm giving them to my girls' teachers and a few other people.  Maybe dishcloths and a dish scrubber aren't all that glamorous, but everyone can use them!  They come in so many fun colors.  I am always drawn to the yellow and green.  I'm also drawn to Williams-Sonoma because they gift wrap them for you.  Love that!  Another favorite thing.  :)

PROJECT LIFE.  I can't have a favorites list and not include Project Life scrapbooking supplies!  Makes scrapbooking so much more doable.  You can check out my Project Life posts to see how I've used these kits for my kids' albums.  If you aren't familiar with Project Life albums, kits, and accessories you can learn more on Becky's blog.  I have had to take a break from scrapbooking for this phase in my life, but I know it won't last long.  :)

And last but not least, you all know how much I love a good magazine.  Last year for a friend's birthday I gave her a few good magazines and a pedicure gift card.  She loved it!

I think magazines are such a fun Christmas gift!  That is my favorite way to relax.  To sit back and read a good magazine.  Old school Pinterest.   

"Brown paper packages tied up with string... these are a few of my favorite things!..."

Julie Andrews and I would get along famously. 

Have a great weekend everyone!  


Thursday, December 13, 2012

MY favorite things! (kitchen, beauty products)

I'm always looking for new, fun gift ideas for family, friends, and neighbors and you all know that when I find something I love I get so excited to share it with all of you!  Favorites are more fun when you share them.  :)  A lot of these things I've already shared at one time or another, but I thought it would be fun to round them all up together to give you some fun gift ideas.  (Is anyone else still scrambling to finish Christmas shopping?) These are all things I use and love and a lot of these items I've given as gifts in past years.  I started working on this post two days ago and it is taking forever because I have SO many favorite things!  So I'm splitting it up into two posts.  Today I'm sharing things I love in the kitchen and my favorite beauty products.  Tomorrow I'll have more random favorites to share.  FUN!


Despite my aversion to cooking, I somehow still end up in the kitchen a lot.  Alas, I am a mom.  :) Moms know that life revolves around feeding your kids.  And then feeding them again.  And again.  And again.  And again after that.   

So here are some of the things I love and use often in my kitchen.  All of these would make great gift ideas for someone who loves to cook - or for someone who like myself, doesn't love to cook but has to anyway.  :)

OXO DISH SCRUBBER - I took this to Ann's favorites party last year and the girls who took it home told me this year how much they have loved it.  You squirt your dish soap right into the handle and just push a button to get it out when you're ready to scrub your pots and pans.  LOVE this.  I've been using mine for years and I gave them out as gifts to several family members a few years ago.    

CRATE and BARREL'S NON SLIP CUTTING BOARD WITH COLANDER.  I love having the drainer and cutting board all in one.  I mostly use this to clean and chop up strawberries (we eat a lot of strawberries around here) and other fruit.  I love the green.  It makes me happy.  :)

 You can see my OXO dish scrubber on my sink.  :)

 WILLIAMS SONOMA MIXING BOWLS.  This is actually a set of three but one of them was dirty and in the dishwasher when I took this picture.  I was too lazy to wash it first.  :)  These mixing bowls and cups and spoons are my absolute favorite.  I use them to make EVERYTHING.  The bowls are rubber on the bottom so they stay put on your counter and one of the three sizes is perfect for making just about anything.  I gave these as gifts one year to Kenny's sister in law and grandma and they have raved about them ever since!  I bought mine a few years ago and it looks like now they come in sets of four in fun colors.  You won't regret buying these!  I love them.

OXO PIZZA CUTTER and OXO GARLIC PRESS - my two favorite kitchen tools.  The pizza cutter I use ALL the time.  Embarrassing how much I use it really.  (Lean Cuisine Pizzas are my favorite dinner).  I don't use the garlic press as often, but every time I do use it I'm amazed at how well it works.  I've had both of these for over 10 years and they are still in great shape!  OXO is such an impressive brand.

OXO GOOD GRIP CLEAR CONTAINERS - You know I went on and on about these in my pantry post but I have to say that I still love these.  I think a few of them would make a fabulous Christmas present.  Everyone can find a use for a clear air tight container!

And last but certainly not least, my OXO LETTUCE SPINNER.  I make a lot of salads so we use this often.  This baby gets our lettuce so clean!  Plus it's incredibly fun to spin.  The girls and I fight over who gets to do it first.

They usually win.  :)  TA-DA!  Clean lettuce ready to eat.  I've given these as Christmas gifts before too.  Always a hit.  


Here are some fun beauty products that I love and use everyday.  
I would be lost without a few of these! 

CONAIR CURLING IRON - You've all heard me rave about my curling iron.  Inexpensive and fabulous.  I took it to the favorites party our first year and they were scooped up so fast.  Great reviews. (Ignore the owl plate.  This was the only pic I could find of my curling iron!) 

NEUTROGENA SUNLESS LOTION - I know.  Who is thinking about tanning lotion in December? Someone in San Diego, that's who.  :)  Despite your current weather, this is a fun stocking stuffer for someone once it warms up again.  Especially someone with fair skin.  Just rub or spray a little on your legs to get rid of that all too scary white.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, not fair.  :)

CROC FLAT IRON - While my curling iron is cheap, I spend a little more on my straight irons.  Croc is my favorite brand and I have had the one pictured above for years.  Great quality - makes your hair so straight and smooth.  If it weren't for the darn humidity around here I'd use this baby a lot more.  I use it often for Ellie though and can't say enough good things about it.  My mom has given me a new CROC straight iron several times for Christmas over the years.  It's a fun gift.
CROC IRON COMB - I am SO in love with my iron comb you guys!  Have you ever used one?  It is THE BEST comb to use when you are straightening your hair.  You slide the flat part into your hair and then comb as you are straightening with the straight iron.  Does that make sense?  Maybe another vlog to explain?  :)  It helps get your hair super straight.  If you already have straight hair you can do without this, but if you have thick hair with natural wave/curl, this comb is the best - such a great tool for straightening hair.  I've given them as gifts many times!

ENJOY STRAIGHTENER - While we're on the subject of hair... you know how much I LOVE my Enjoy hair straightener.  If I'm straightening my hair I rub a little Enjoy on my hair while it's wet.  Blow dry.  Then use my CROC comb and straight iron to straighten my hair.  Then I rub a little Moroccan Oil (mentioned yesterday) to add shine and keep it straight.  I use the Enjoy when I'm doing my hair curly too (and I use it often on Addison's hair) so it works for straight or curly hair.  I've given it for gifts many times and now my friends love it too!

The rest of these items I mentioned in my favorite make-up post so if you want to read more about them you can do that here.  This is all make-up that would work for anyone and I've given most of these as gifts to my mom, sister, and mother-in-law.

 PAINTERLY by MAC.  The perfect foundation for your eyelids to make eye shadow stay on and not crease.

LAURA MERCIER eye last curler
MAC eye lash curler  - my two favorites.  

MAYBELINE DEFINE-A-LASH MASCARA - shared it in my last post.  Combine this with an eyelash curler above and you will have LONG eyelashes.

 MAC EYEBROW GEL - keeps eyebrows in place and full.  One bottle lasts forever.  

BOBBI BROWN HIGH SHIMMER LIP GLOSS - this is pricey for lip gloss so I don't buy it myself, but it shows up in my stocking every year.  I've trained Santa well.  :)  It looks beautiful over any lipstick.

NATURAL ICE cherry chap stick.  This I've been getting in my stocking since I was a little girl.  My girls love this for chapped lips too.

So there are a few of my favorite go-to's for kitchen and make-up that I think would make fun gifts.  I'll be back tomorrow to share a few more.  :)

Enjoy your day!