Life’s Little Celebrations

Life's Little Celebrations Give yourself something to look forward to

Life’s Little Celebrations – Give yourself (and your loved ones) Something to Look Forward To

Isn’t Spring fantastic?  With all the snow melting, the grass starting to get green, flowers popping up, birds singing, and a new baby calf added to the herd every few days…

Well, it’s hard not to feel a little happy boost that Spring has officially begun, isn’t it?

Sure, there is mud to deal with. I made the husband bring home a few bags of mulch last week and we spread them in the rain because I couldn’t stand to clean up mud every time the dog went outside.   (I was really wishing my Spot Bot hadn’t died and I had a new Shop Amazon – Presenting the Bissell Symphony)  And my body is definitely not swimming suit ready.  But, that is vastly outweighed by the overwhelming urge to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the weather.

Enjoy the small things.

Last weekend, my daughter suggested we roll out the fire pit and roast hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner.  That’s one of our favorite things to do as a family during warmer weather.  The kids happily rode their bikes and played wall ball with each other while the husband and I enjoyed sitting by the fire for a couple of hours.

As I sat there staring into the fire, I couldn’t help thinking how glad I was that Kaitlyn has suggested something so simple yet thoroughly enjoyable.  Then I started thinking about all of the many other small things in life we had celebrated the past week or so.  (It had been kind of a crazy one actually)

Making it through my daughter’s back to back swim meet and band concert.  Celebrated that one by letting her pick out ice cream on the way home.  My little guy’s final Utah Citizenship performance (part of months of work and many projects and tests for them) celebrated again by letting him pick out ice cream on the way home.  That one happened to fall on the same day we went before the county for approvals on our building lot (got it!  Just a few more hoops to jump through before it’s official).  In among there, I hosted our monthly Bunco group and that always feels like a party.

And you know what?  Life is so much more enjoyable when you take a minute to appreciate the small things when they happen.  Everything seems better when you purposely give yourself and your loved ones small things to look forward to.  When once in a while we make the everyday special.

So I came up with my own list of Life’s Little Celebrations:

-a warm sunny day
-school or sporting event (ice cream!)
-one of those random “National ____ Day”  Find a long list of holidays by date HERE. (I can’t believe I didn’t do anything for pie/pi day last!  It falls on March 14.  3/14 – get it?)
-accomplishments – a promotion, finishing a big project, the baby took her first step, the 4th grader memorized his multiplication tables
-because it’s been a while since you had a dinner party or lunch out
-because the kids have other plans and you and the husband have some free time to spend together
-because it’s the weekend
-because it’s Monday
-because we’re all tired and need to relax and indulge
-the first ____ of the year  (snowstorm, flower, hot dog/marshmallow roast)
-because it’s Girl Scout Cookie season
-minor holidays (St Pat’s, April Fool’s, Labor Day, etc.)
-change of seasons
-local events (strawberry picking season, hot air balloon festival, etc)
-because you missed someone’s birthday/anniversary
-the divorce is final
-your favorite author just released a new book
-that movie you’ve been dying to see finally hits the theaters

Life's Little Celebrations Take a moment to recognize and enjoy the small events in life

Ways to Celebrate the Little Things

-get outside (walk, hike, ride bikes, roast marshmallows, fly kites, blow bubbles, fire up the grill Shop Amazon – Grilling and Outdoor Cooking Products)
-take a picture
-go out to eat
-try a new restaurant
-ice cream
-wash the car (what? Are you telling me having a nice shiny car after months of snow and salt-covered roads doesn’t count as a celebration?!  Have you SEEN the line at the car wash at the first sunny day in a while?)
-plant flowers (Shop Amazon – Gardening Products)
-rent a movie (or find one on Amazon Prime Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial or Netflix)
-cook something seasonal or extra-yummy
-document it – journal it, scrapbook it, post it on Instagram
-surprise someone (treat, card, gift)
-invite people over
-family game night
-food, food, and more food (funny how so many things revolve around food, isn’t it?)

Well that’s my list.  I hope to keep adding to it, so please feel free to share your own Life’s Little Celebrations, and how you recognize the small moments.

Give yourself something to look forward to AlaynasCreations

Give yourself something to look forward to.

 

*May contain affliliate links for your convenience.*

 

Linking to:  Made By You Monday,

75+ Non-Candy Easter Egg Filler Ideas For All Ages

75+ Non-Candy Easter Egg Filler Ideas for All Ages75+ Non-Candy Easter Egg Filler Ideas for All Ages

How do you like your eggs?  I prefer mine covered in glitter or stuffed with chocolate 😉

The kids, well, they love their eggs filled with all kinds of fun.

I now have 13 years of Easter Egg fun under my belt so I figured it was about time to put together a giant list of non-candy Easter egg filler ideas.  (Trust me – we stuff plenty with candy, but it’s nice to have some variety, right?)

Easter Egg Hunting Fun for Kids of All Ages

For the tiny ones:

Unique ideas to stuff your Easter Eggs this year

Preschool and Elementary Aged kiddos:

  • individually packaged snacks (fruit snacks, Goldfish, etc.)
  • powdered drink mixes (the kind the come individually packaged to use in water bottles)
  • coins
  • arcade tokens
  • stickers
  • temporary tattoos
  • rubber stamps
  • jewelry
  • Silly Bandz (THESE dinosaur ones look pretty cool)
  • glow sticks
  • Play Dough and Play Dough Accessories
  • arts and crafts supplies (googly eyes, pom poms, glitter glue, etc)
  • beads (to make their own jewelry)
  • stretchy bands for the Rainbow Loom
  • Perler beads and maybe print out some pattern ideas like these Disney Princess, Star Wars, or Pokemon perler bead patterns.
  • mini pens, markers or crayons
  • bath crayons
  • jump rope
  • chinese jump rope
  • sidewalk chalk
  • bubbles
  • bouncy balls
  • Hackey Sacks
  • set of jacks
  • sunglasses
  • swim goggles (THESE are a good choice for kids)
  • hair bows, hair elastics
  • Nerf gun darts
  • card games
  • travel games (THIS is a fun one I hadn’t seen before)
  • tiny party favor items (mini yo-yo, slinkies, etc)
  • puzzles (a few pieces in each egg)
  • Lego sets (a few pieces in each egg)
  • Lego figurines (like THESE from the Lego Movie)
  • Barbie/doll accessories
  • bicycle tire lights/decorations
  • army guys (one year I found a variation of these with construction guys at the dollar store – awesome)
  • plastic farm or zoo animals, dinosaurs, bugs
  • any small toy:  I have found cars, Little People, My Little Pony and others already packaged in their own eggs.  They tend to be in larger eggs which is great because then you can save those eggs and use them again next year.  Other ideas for tiny toys include action figures, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket (they still have those right?), toy trains (one year I found a mini Easter themed Thomas the Train set).  The sky is the limit on this one.
  • trading cards (Pokemon anyone?)
  • funny socks
  • scavenger hunt clues to find a larger item (free printables can be found HERE or HERE)
  • DIY coupons (like THESE fun printables)
  • small pool toys like diving sticks or splash balls
  • dress up accessories (policeman or fireman badge, pirate eye patch, tiara, hats, clown nose, etc)

Make your Easter egg hunt extra fun this year with these easy and unique non-candy egg filler ideas

Tweens and Teens

  • powdered drink mixes (the kind the come individually packaged to use in water bottles)
  • sunglasses
  • swim goggles (my swim obessed girl prefers these Speedo Vanquisher goggles)
  • headphones
  • fingernail stuff:  small bottle nail polish, gel nails, stickers, decals
  • gift cards
  • Lego sets (a few pieces in each egg)
  • puzzles (a few pieces in each egg.  Can you imagine how many eggs you could fill with a 1000 piece puzzle?!)
  • money
  • arcade tokens
  • Nerf gun darts
  • water balloons
  • flash drive
  • keychain
  • jewelry
  • wrist watch
  • funny socks
  • travel size items:  lotion, soap, shaving cream, shampoo, hand sanitizer
  • perfume/cologne
  • lip gloss/chapstick
  • make up
  • bath bombs
  • scavenger hunt clues to find a larger item (you can find cute printables like THESE or THESE)
  • DIY coupons like THESE fun printables
  • card games
  • travel games
  • miniature flashlight
  • small sports items (golf balls, ping pong balls, mouth guards, etc)

 

So there you have it – a giant list of non-candy Easter Egg filler ideas.  If you think of any I missed please feel free to share!

 

*Post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.

 

 

Linking to: Home Matters Party, Creativity Unleashed Party, Pretty Pintastic Party, BFF Open House, Remodelaholics Anonymous, Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make,  Saturday Sharefest, DIY Party,

Elf Antics – 24 Days of Elf on the Shelf Fun

24-days-of-elf-antics-quick-and-easy-ideas-for-your-elf-on-the-shelf

It’s that time of year again!  Halloween is over, Thanksgiving plans are well under way and all of the stores are decked out for the holidays…bring on the Christmas prep!  For me that means lists – gift lists, shopping lists, projects lists, Christmas card lists, and lists of ideas for our Christmas elves.

Our elves always show up on the first of December and spend the month with us keeping an eye on the kiddos for Santa, as well as having a little fun themselves (sometimes too much fun!).  The kids look forward to the visit from the elves and it adds a little daily fun and magic to the season for all of us.

Our elves have been making their appearance for almost 10 years now (yes, I looked it up 😉  I started this tradition in 2007), well before the Elf on the Shelf concept took on the recognition and popularity it has today.  So our elves don’t look like all of the other elves and they don’t have quite the same rules as the official Elf on the Shelf.  In fact, our elves love to get hugs from the kids and to play with them during the day.

To keep things fresh and fun year after year I do have to put in some planning time (thank goodness for Pinterest, right?  I have tons of ideas on my Holiday Elf on the Shelf board) so I’ve been pulling together ideas and reviewing photos of our Elf Antics from years past and I thought I would share a sample year with you.

This is what our elves were up to every day in December a couple of years ago.  (My kids were ages 11 and 8 at the time)

elf-on-the-shelf-easy-ideas-for-your-elves-first-week-alaynascreations

24 Days of Elf on the Shelf Antics
Day 1:  Sure enough, Tinsel and Twinkle arrived at our house on schedule bringing with them Lego advent calendars for the kids.

Day 2:  found them in the storage room where they had pulled out most of Grandma’s games and toys.  Photo is courtesy of Kaitlyn, who was quick to inform me when I got back from the gym that morning and found the kids playing Jenga that she knew I liked to take photos before we moved the Elves and had made sure to do so.  (Isn’t she the greatest?!)

Day 3:  in the bathroom, where Twinkle was tangled in Kaitlyn’s headbands and Tinsel had drawn a Rudolph head on the mirror.

Day 4:  the elves had put up a “tent” using one of the pool towels so they could hide while they created Top Secret missions for the kids.
Wonder what’s in the envelope….   (printable found here.  Awesome idea)

quick-and-easy-ideas-for-your-elf-on-the-shelf

Day 5:  was Tyler’s birthday so the elves had made an attempt to decorate with crepe paper but got distracted playing with the party games.

Day 6:  the elves we cozily reading a book together in the rocking chair

Day 7:  had decorated the photo wall in the office using dry erase markers

Day 8:  Perler bead creations

Day 9: they got into all of the treats left over from the birthday party

a-month-of-elf-on-the-shelf-plenty-of-ideas-to-make-moving-your-elf-easy-and-painless

Day 10:  must have been taking inspiration from my (body builder) brother.  Looks like Tinsel might benefit from a few personal trainer sessions.

Day 11:  found the sled on top of the entertainment center in the living room.  I’m told Twinkle almost met with a horrible accident when she toppled off and my brother’s pit bull picked her up.  Luckily, the husband saw it and pried her out of his mouth before any damage was done.

Day 12:  packed the kids’ lunchboxes

Day 13:  changed out the light bulb in the hallway for a pretty stained-glass one.  Tyler said it looked like they were having a dance party.

Day 14:  climbing the Christmas tree.  I’m afraid it looks like Tinsel must have taken a tumble or two.

elf-on-the-shelf-antics-a-whole-month-of-ideas-for-parents-making-december-with-your-elf-on-the-shelf-easy

Day 15: hot chocolate!  They found a special Cookies and Cream version from Stephen’s – MMMMMM

 Day 16:  crepe paper Christmas tree

Day 17:  time for a Nerf dart war

Day 18:  the elves found the tablet and had used it to take photos of themselves (by the Christmas tree, posing by the dog, random selfies, etc) then used them as the desktop background photos on the tablet.

Day 19:  Playing with Tyler’s Minecraft toys and even found a Santa Minecraft head for Steve.  (The cardstock “Steve” is a printable I used for Tyler’s Minecraft Party.  The Santa head is a printable found here that I just enlarged a bit before printing.  It wasn’t quite big enough for one of our elves to wear, but it worked fine for Steve)

need-ideas-for-your-elf-on-the-shelf-look-no-further

Day 20:  The kids forgot to open their Advent treat box before bed so the Elves did it for them.  Lucky for the kids, the elves didn’t get as far as opening any of the chocolate!

Day 21:  found the elves fast asleep under the Christmas tree, using the kids’ stockings as sleeping bags.

Day 22:  the elves were having fun with the camera last night and took all kinds of photos.  (Printable photo props found here)

Day 23:  this morning they attempted to hitch a ride to school in the kids’ backpacks.  I think we are all excited for the last half-day of school before Christmas break!

Day 24: elf zip line!  And of course they also wrote up a farewell letter since Santa will be picking them up tonight.

And that, my friends, is an entire month of Elf on the Shelf ideas for you.  They’re my favorite kind too – quick and easy.  Easy enough to implement at 3AM when you suddenly wake up with that feeling that you forgot to do something…  😉

What have your elves been up to?  Any great ideas you would like to share?  I would love to add a few to my list for this year!

Linking to:  Wow Me Wednesday,

Summer Bucket List 2016

 

Summer Bucket List 2016 Fun ideas for getting out and enjoying summer with the kids AlaynasCreations
Summer is in full swing!  With the Summer Solstice/First Day of Summer this past week I think we can declare it official – as if we hadn’t already.

The kids and I have spent the past couple of weeks getting into our daily summer routine, which includes spending the mornings at the pool for swim team and a lot of lazy afternoons.  It feels very easy to just drift along and let that be all we worry about and that’s been great so far but I’m afraid that too much down time leads to sibling arguments and mommy crankiness (and maybe a bit of jealousy when we see everyone else’s vacation photos).  So it has become our tradition to sit down as a family at the beginning of summer and make a list of all the things we each want to include in our summer – a Summer Bucket List.

Summer Fun with the Kids Make your own bucket list of ideas for summer fun

You know the tradition is a good one when the kids ask “Mom, when are we going to ____?” and that’s exactly what happened this year.  A week or so before school let out my little guy was asking when we were going to make our summer list and that weekend we sat down to compile ideas.  The husband even contributed a couple via chat (though mostly his big goal was to finish this deployment).  We try to come up with a combination of ideas – some easy, some that require more planning, a few goals (last year we wanted to hike to the top of Timpanogos), some that are fun and some that might require a little work.

This year’s list includes:
-lots of playdates/friend time
-family vacation
-snowcones
-paddleboarding
-family game of Monopoly (Tyler is obsessed)
-Kaitlyn:  babysitting, swim camp, get a state swim time, YW camp, be in the parade, build muscle
-Tyler:  new tricks on skateboard/scooter/bike, 4H Arts and Crafts Camp, Scout badges, change bedtime to 9 PM (his biggest request)
-sleep under the stars
-make a list of things to do on rainy summer days
-night games
-parties:  water fights, treasure/scavenger hunt, end of school party
-Do/see something new
-play baseball with Bambi (the dog)
-regular exercise for all, especially Bambi
-try out a new restaurant
-kids learn to cook a few things
-Sam home!

You can see last year’s list HERE.  And if you need even more ideas to get you started with your own list I have a great post full of Summer Fun Ideas Without Breaking the Bank.

Bucket List Summer Fun with the kids

Once our list is compiled I like to put it on display in a frame where we can easily refer to it and cross things off (dry erase markers work great on glass).  True to form, it took me a while after our family pow-wow to type it and get it up on display.  I suppose that works in my favor since this week I’ve felt like we needed to give ourselves a bit more direction and now all we have to do is pick something from the list and go do it.

Summer Fun Witouth Breaking the Bank Sprinklers

My biggest take-away from my chat with the kids was that they wanted to spend a lot more time with friends.  I get that.  During the school year we have very little time between school, homework, and activities and they were feeling socially deprived.  No one wants to be bored or lonely or to feel like our friends might be out having fun while we sit at home, especially during the summer.  But it does take some effort to turn that Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) into Getting Out More Often (GOMO), doesn’t it?  I’ve found, however, that the effort and planning is worth it.  And once I get past some of the roadblocks like trying to coordinate with friends with busy schedules and that whole Jungle-Book-esque mind-set of “What do you want to do?”  “I dunno, what do you want to do?” (don’t tell me I’m the only one that pictures those buzzards every time we have a hard time coming up with a plan?!), it’s really not that hard to get out and have fun.

Still need a bit more inspiration or ideas for things to do?  Check out websites like Eventbrite – it’s like TicketMaster but for smaller events, and can be used to coordinate your own events like a local 5K.  I hadn’t heard of this website until a few weeks ago, then coincidentally a few days later my son brought home a note from school about 4H opportunities this summer and wouldn’t you know it – online sign ups were available through Eventbrite.  Tyler was excited about the Arts and Crafts workshop so I had my first experience personally using the website and it was pretty easy and user-friendly.  I could see this being a great resource since you can search for events by area or even create your own events (oh how great would that have been when we were putting together our own version of Paint Night?!  Oh wait – I haven’t blogged about that one yet.  Remind me to do that soon – it was awesome! 😉  )

Other great resources include your local community events (4th of July plans, anyone?), summer workshops (Kaitlyn just had a blast at swim camp at a somewhat-nearby university), outdoor concerts and plays (we gave my mom tickets to Peter Pan for Mother’s Day and the play was on Tuesday.  It was so much fun – one of my favorite plays to date and I’ve seen quite a few), and so on.

No excuses, right?  I’m off to call a friend and make plans for a picnic at the park for next week.  Or research a nearby hiking trail the kids and I haven’t had a chance to explore yet.  So tell me, what’s on your Summer Bucket List?

 

Linking to:  Home Matters Party, BFF Open House,

Splash Bash – Last Day of School Water Party

Hello Summer!

Well, almost summer here.  The kids still have one more week left of school but the countdown has certainly begun and I’m nearly as excited for the change in routine as the kids are.  Oh how great to get a later start on the mornings, and to not have to wait until the kids are out the door in order to get a chance to take a shower!  (someone remind me of this feeling on one of those long summer afternoons when the kids are “bored” or constantly bickering!)

This past weekend the kids and I sat down to work on our Summer Bucket List – which has become one of our yearly traditions.  (you can see last year’s list HERE and I will post this year’s soon!)  As we were talking I noticed a theme emerging from their suggestions – fun time with friends.  I wondered for a second if my kids have been feeling…socially deprived…?  (and if so, do I lose Mom Points for that? 😉  ) but quickly realized it was just a manifestation of their fun-loving, outgoing sides which I would like to help them nurture.  Being a bit of an introvert myself, I admire that side of their personalities while at the same time I have to subvert my own desire for calm and quiet in order to give them the chance to explore that.  So we made a list of things they wanted to do with friends and party ideas and I agreed to let them host something on a regular basis.

Splash Bash Fun and Easy Summer party or end of the school year party Alaynas CreationsFirst up on their list – a party for the last day of school!  This is something we did a few times in our old neighorhood but didn’t follow through with last year and Kaitlyn, in particular, was very excited about hosting something.  She quickly decided on a water theme (after seeing an idea on Pinterest for SlipNSlide baseball a few days before) and in less than 30 minutes we not only had a plan and menu ideas, but had created and printed out the invitations too.

Summer Water Party Splash into Summer End of the School Year party invitation AlaynasCreations

I found the Splash clip art on the internet then simply added the wording over the top and printed everything onto cardstock (4 to a page).  The back side of the invitation holds all the details:  time, date, location, etc.

Splash Bash Summer Water Party Invitation Easy DIY invite for a fun and inexpensive summer party AlaynasCreations

We checked the weather forecast and so far it looks like we will have sunshine and decent temperatures – yay!  That means we can go ahead with our ideas for SlipNSlide kickball, water gun target shooting and Splash Ball lacrosse.  (actually we don’t know how to play lacrosse but we do have a couple of sticks and they can play catch)  Kaitlyn helped me pick up supplies and snacks last night so we’re all set to party.  Bring on the last day of school and bring on SUMMER!

I’ll be sure to post party details after the event – check back soon!  Or check out some of our other Last Day of School Traditions, End of the Year gifts for teachers and kids (Buckets of Fun idea or Teacher Gifts in a Cup ideas) or Summer Fun Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank.

Linking to:  Home Matters Party, Pretty Pintastic Party,

Hello 2016

hELLO 2016 Snow and sun flair behind the trees AlaynasCreations

Hello 2016.

I didn’t intend to take a three week break from blogging – it just kind of happened and I suppose it was a natural break.  Once again we are in a transition phase, kind of closing up a chapter of our lives and starting in on a new one and it works out nicely that it coincides with the new year.  My husband will be leaving on a military deployment SOON so I will be shifting into “single parent” mode and all that goes along with it (as well as putting together some AWESOME care package ideas so stay tuned!).  Since the husband was my carpenter for the laundry drying racks we are also putting the Etsy shop into hibernation.  I’m not sure yet if that is temporary or permanent, but I do know that it is a relief to be able to put my concentration and energies more fully into everything else right now.  In November we did a massive build with the rest of our supplies and I am happy to report that as of last night the last lonely drying rack in our inventory is SOLD.

My husband was out of town for training most of December so when he got home a couple of days before Christmas we enthusiastically jumped into Family Time mode and have been having a blast.  If we had a Winter Bucket List we probably would have checked off most of it in the last few weeks.  We did all the Christmas festivities and parties, took the kids snowmobiling, had sledding parties, ice skating, tubing, enjoyed many cups of hot cocoa and learned the importance of wearing ski masks in subzero weather, saw the much-anticipated new Star Wars movie, have had more than our share of yummy meals out, shopping, date nights, and even ran away for a night for some extended one on one time with the husband. It’s been fun and wonderful and…exhausting.  We have another four day weekend coming up (geesh, already?!) and I have no idea what’s left on the list of family fun and entertainment ideas but I suppose we will figure something out.  Then I’m pretty sure I will willingly and happily jump into our “new normal” routine.

In among all of that I really have been putting a lot of thought into shifting gears and doing some of my typical end of the year introspection.  I realized I had hit the end of my 101 in 1001 List time frame (wow time flies!), and will be posting a new list soon.  And, of course, I have chosen my Word for 2016 and signed up for another round of Ali Edwards One Little Word workshop (the One Little Word concept is something I’ve been doing for quite a few years now.  For those of you not familiar with it, as opposed to setting goals or resolutions, it is simply selecting a word for the year that resonates with you and using that to focus and explore in your life) and have put a lot of thought into where I am heading this year.  I know 2016 is going to be a big one for personal endurance with Sam being deployed for at least the first half of the year and really wanting to get the approvals for the new house going (all by myself).  I foresee plenty of work, plenty of frustrations, and I want to be able to stay centered and calm – and happy and peaceful despite anything I may be dealing with.  The giant list of To Dos will get done (mostly) and the time will pass, but I want my efforts to be not on making it to some sort of finish line but on my state of mind.  To not spend my time wishing for something different.  To not be overwhelmed with the big picture but to know that I only have to take it one step at a time and I can handle that. I also know that I really want to focus on the people in my life.  To give them more of what they may be needing – love, kindness, attention, time.

The word I have chosen for this year is

give

I want to give love, give kindness, give joy, to actively decide that whatever I am doing with my time and energy at any particular moment is something I am giving freely, willingly, and happily.

I love that the word give can be used in so many ways – give it all you’ve got, give it a chance, give yourself a break – and that all of them are positive.  I also love that it can be applied to the physical as in actually giving gifts (and I have oh-so-many ideas for that already from Rand Acts of Kindess to big guestures) and to the less tangible things like time and acceptance.  It’s a big concept and I’m looking forward to exploring it this year.

What’s even more fun is that my 12 year old is really into the concept this year too.  She has chosen her own word and already made a magnet for the fridge as well as led a conversation with the rest of the family and insisted they all choose words.  It’s fun to see her take some initiative an to see her enthusiasm, no matter how much or how little time she spends exploring her word later on.

Do you have a word for this year?  A goal or list of goals?  I would love to hear more about it – please share!  And feel free to check out the Pinterest board where I will be saving all my quotes and ideas for Giving this year.  (Who doesn’t love Pinterest right?!)

And as always, have a Happy Wednesday! 😉

Linking to:  Lou Lou Girls,

Elf Antics 2015 – Week 3

Yay!  We’ve almost made it to the big day!  I’m almost as excited as the kids – though probably for different reasons.  After all this preparation and planning, now that I have everything all set to go I’m anxious to get the party started!  And I must admit that I’m a little exhausted by the need to keep staying on top of things day after day, especially when it comes to those silly elves (#elfontheshelf).  The husband has been in Texas for military training all month and while I’m mostly excited to see him because we missed him, part of me would be relieved to turn over the nightly Elf Duties to him for a couple of days.
Here is what our elves have been up to lately:
*I have been sharing all the Elf Antics daily on my Instagram feed – be sure to check that out!

IMG_20151215_180507Day 15:  The elves found the DIY Lego Advent I started (and gave up on).  Tyler thought the designs were pretty cool.  Maybe between all of them they will get finished.
Day 16:  I think the elves must have heard about Kaitlyn’s field trip to the Discovery Space Center.  We found them busily painting balls of newspaper and making a sign that read “Our Solar System”

20151216_210036Day 17:  Guess who else is excited for the new Star Wars movie!  Glow stick light sabers and all – though Tyler was quick to inform Twinkle that “Storm Troopers carry guns not light sabers.” (Printable masks found HERE)
Day 18:  The elves wanted the kids to have something special in their lunchboxes for the last day of school before Christmas break so they dressed up pudding cups to look like reindeer.

20151219_075507Day 19:  6 day’s til Christmas!  First day of Christmas Vacation!
Day 20:  the kids have had a few days of extra good behavior and the elves wanted them to know how happy they were about that.  The elves brought fun new Glow in the Dark markers with a note that said “Write on!  Your good behavior is not overlooked.”
Day 21:  Found the elves “sledding” down the stairs, using my shoes as sleds.

20151222_072246Day 22:  We’ve had non-stop snow for a few days in a row and this morning we found the elves having some indoor “snow” fun of their own building snow forts and igloos out of cotton balls.
Day 23:  The husband has been out of town all month but finally made it back last night.  The elves were nice enough to make him a giant “Welcome Home” banner.

Day 24: As usual, on Christmas Eve the elves will be waiting for the kids with a Goodbye Letter until next year.

Wow.  It just really hit me that we are finally here at the Eve of Christmas Eve.  All the planning and prep for the holidays is done (or if it isn’t, it won’t be) and for the next couple of days we just settle in to enjoy the holiday and the time together.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

*For more Elf Antics and great Elf on the Shelf Ideas check out this year’s Week 1 and Week 2 on the blog.  Or follow my Instagram feed for daily updates.  There are also tons of great ideas on my Pinterest Board.

Elf Antics 2015 – Week 2

Here we are finishing up another week with those crazy elves.  This is what they’ve been up to lately.

Elf on the Shelf Ideas Do You Want to Build a Snowman toilet paper Olaf printable

Day 8:  found the elves in the bathroom where Twinkle had build a “snowman” out of toilet paper (printable Olaf found HERE) and Tinsel was trapped in the basket where we keep the extra TP.
Day 9:  the elves brought a candy cane bouquet for the kids
Day 10:  Elf Antics in the pantry.  I guess the elves were disappointed with our lack of Christmas cereal as they decided to create some Elf Breakfast Cereal of their own
Elf on the Shelf Elf Christmas Cereal
Day 11:  Twinkle tried her hand at barrel racing using one of the Barbie horses while Tinsel cheered her on from the “stands” with the rest of the Barbie and Skylander audience.
Day 12:  we actually got some snow yesterday (strange it waited this long to stick) and the elves were excited.  We found them all bundled up in the kids’ winter clothing ready to go out and have a snowball fight
Day 13:  pretending they were at the beach suntanning and snorkeling
Day 14:  The elves decorated the washer and dryer to look like snowmen.  How did they know it would snow on laundry day?

Elf on the Shelf decorating the washer and dryer to look like snowmen

Want more Elf inspiration?  Check out what our elves were up to last week HERE.  I am sharing their antics daily on my Instagram feed.  Or check out my Pinterest Board for even more great ideas.

Easy Christmas Gifts for Teachers and Classmates – AND a Giveaway!

Easy Christmas Gifts for Teachers and Classmates with a little help from my Silhouette

15 days ’til Christmas! And yes the title DID say GIVEAWAY! Keep reading ’til the end to not only see what my Silhouette Challenge buddies and I have been up to, but to get a chance to win some Silhouette goodies of your own! (Giveaway is now closed)

I have spent a lot of my free time the last week or so writing lists, double checking lists, running errands and shopping, and rewriting lists…that’s how the holiday season goes, right?  When December hit I was feeling pretty behind on things but the more I cross off the list the better I feel and the more excited I get for Christmas.
This year my son’s classroom is doing the 12 Days of Christmas, so each of the children are assigned a specific day to bring in their classroom gifts and my son was assigned one of the first of the twelve days.  It just happened to be the day before his birthday and I was neck deep in party prep, so I knew that I needed something that didn’t require a lot of time or effort to put together.  But fankly, it’s me and we all know that even when I want things simple and inexpensive I also strive for a bit of creativity and cuteness.

Easy Classmate Gift idea that even the kids can do themselves
It took a bit of thought, but I finally settled on snack-size bags of microwave popcorn.  My kids are HUGE popcorn fans (and kept trying to steal the bags while we were assembling the gifts!) and I figure the popcorn is a nice change from the typical candy canes and Christmas pencils my kids usually bring home.  And dressing them up was a snap – with a little help from my Silhouette (die cutting) machine and my kiddos.
Quick and Easy Christmas Gift for Classmates using microwave popcorn and construction paper
So there is a look at the supplies I used for decorating the popcorn bags.  We dressed half the bags up as reindeer and half as Santa.  This is the point to which I prepped the supplies before enlisting the help of the munchkins.
snack-size microwave popcorn
preprinted adhesive labels:  Mine say “Here’s to a Merry Christmas and a Poppin’ New Year, Love, Tyler” and are printed onto a sheet of Avery address labels.  You could substitute any kind of tag you want to use.
googly eyes
construction paper:
-brown for the reindeer and red for Santa, cut into strips (construction paper is 9″ x 12″ and I found that cutting it into three 4″ wide strips was a perfect fit)
-also a piece of black paper cut into 1/2″ wide strips (by 9″ long)
Santa belts made out of construction paper using the silhouette machine
-white paper cut into squares (1″ x 1″) with two cut lines in the center for Santa’s belt.  I used the Silhouette to do this and it saved a lot of quality time spent with an Xacto knife, but that’s certainly an option.  I was planning to have the kids thread them onto the black “belts” but quickly found that I had cut them to fit pretty tightly and my 8 year old was likely to tear half of them trying to put them on so I did it myself.  So when cutting yours out you may want the cuts to be a full 5/8″ to allow the 1/2″ black pieces to slide through more easily.
Reindeer Antlers for Christmas projects cut with the Silhouette Machine
-dark brown paper (I used cardstock as I’ve found the thicker texture cuts better for projects like this) cut into cute little reindeer antlers.  These are approx 2 1/2″ high.  I’m sure you can find a cut file somewhere but I decided to create my own using some antler clip art (just google it) and the trace feature in the Silhouette studio.  You could also just hand-cut them, though I was happy to not have to do that particular step.
-oh!  And don’t forget some red circles for the reindeer noses!
Cute and Easy Classmate Christmas Gifts the kids can assemble themselves
Assembly went pretty quickly and the kids were easily able to do it all themselves.  They just wrapped the larger strips of paper around the popcorn bags and secured it on the back with tape (I had them tape one side directly to the bags so they wouldn’t slide out of the wrappers), then added the embellishments and stuck the address label “tags” on the back.
Assembling these cute classmate Christmas gifts is so easy even the kids can do it
We made sure to attach the antlers to the back of the brown strips before wrapping them around the popcorn bags for the reindeer, but other than that the assembly is much the same.  Add the google eyes (we used glue dots for that), the noses, and the sticky “tag” on back and you’re done!
Santa and Reindeer Decorated Popcorn Bags make a great Christmas gift for classmates or neighbors
Mini bags of microwave popcorn dressed up like Sant and Reindeer make great Christmas gifts

While I was at it, I put together the gifts for the kids’ teachers as well.  I found these adorable mason jar shaped drinking cups on clearance at the craft store after Thanksgiving and knew I just had to do something with them for Christmas.
Mason Jar cups filled with school supplies and hot chocolate mix make a great Christmas gift for teachers

I rounded up some red and green colored Sharpies, green post-its and some great hot chocolate mix (looking at the photo I’m wondering why oh why I didn’t get a few extra so I could try out the toasted marshmallow flavor?!) to put inside the cup.   And I wanted a bit of customization (when in doubt – customize, right?!) so I fired up the Silhouette machine again and did some cute labels using the teacher’s names.
Decorative Teacher Name Labels cut with my Silhouette machine to dress up Christmas Gift

Embellished mason jar mug for teacher Christmas gift using vinyol and Silhouette machine

Mason Jar Gift for Teachers Christmas or Teacher Appreciation Gift in a Cup

Done deal!  The kids are now all set for Christmas festivities at school, which is great since we are down to only ONE more week before Christmas vacation!  (oh boy!)

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!

Easy Glitter Snowflake Ornament Ornament Surprise Box Merry & Bright Christmas Stocking Gift Card Holder Holiday Projects with Heat Transfer Vinyl Christmas Tree Card Display Easy DIY Hello Kitty Ornaments Fa la la Christmas Shirt Make Printed Holiday Tea Towels Christmas Tree Countdown: December Silhouette Challenge Modern Advent Calendar 'All is Calm, All is Bright' Canvas Sign Tutorial DIY Faux Aged Copper Snowflake Ornaments from a Cereal Box! Sew Easy Pillow Covers Easy Gold Striped Monogram Ornament Monthly Dry Erase Planner Handmade Christmas Tags Cactus Gift + Printable Buffalo Plaid Gift Tags Coffee Mug Gift for the Star Wars Geek Hot Chocolate Stirring Spoons & Gift Tags Cut File Merry and Bright Christmas Pillow Damask Reindeer Print Ikea Star Ornament DIY Etched Nativity Ornament Fa La La La Pillow {Tutorial} DIY Split Monogram Pillow Fun Holiday Gift Tags - Free Print and Cut Etched in Glass DIY Easy Red and White Christmas Pillows 3 Easy Ways to Create Christmas Baby Onesies with HTV Easy Christmas Gifts for Teachers and Classmates

1. Beauty in the Mess // 2. JustTyra // 3. Dream a Little Bigger // 4. Simply Kelly Designs // 5. The Stamp Doc // 6. From Wine to Whine // 7. TheKimSixFix // 8. unOriginal Mom // 9. HaberdasheryFun // 10. Tastefully Frugal // 11. Sisters, What! // 12. Small Stuff Counts // 13. Where The Smiles Have Been // 14. Whatcha Workin’ On? // 15. Designed Decor // 16. Architecture of a Mom // 17. Decor Adventures // 18. Create & Babble // 19. Tori Grant Designs // 20. Tried & True // 21. The Thinking Closet // 22. Creative Ramblings // 23. Get Silvered // 24. McCall Manor // 25. Cutesy Crafts // 26. Ginger Snap Crafts // 27. My Favorite Finds // 28. Cupcakes&Crowbars // 29. Pineapples & Pinecones // 30. The Crafting Nook // 31. It Happens in a Blink // 32. Alayna’s Creations

Silhouette Giveaway

December2015GiveawayGraphic-1114pixels

And I’ve saved the best for last.  My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I in partnership with Silhouette America are hosting a mega-huge giveaway …. Giveaway is now CLOSED.

Avengers Birthday Party Invitation – with Tutorial for Miniature File Folders

Avengers Birthday Party Invitation Tutorial

We now interrupt our scheduled holiday programming…
That’s kind of how it feels to have a son with a birthday in December.  My brain is set to be all gung-ho with Christmas but I have to back off and plan a party instead.  Not that I want my little guy to feel like his birthday gets rushed or glossed over in any way – I try hard for that not to happen.  So of course he got exactly what he wanted for his birthday – an Avengers Superhero Training party.  It was actually a lot of fun to plan and fairly easy to execute.  I will share all the details soon, but thought I’d start out with the invitation.

As with all parties lately, I started with a Pinterest Board for inspiration and went from there.  Tyler really liked the one with the Top Secret file folder and though I tried to convince him a manila envelope would work just as well, I ended up figuring out how to make mini-sized file folders for his invites.
How to Make your Own Mini  Top Secret File Folder for Avengers Birthday Party Invitation
Easy enough – I simply cut down some file folders I already had on hand, making sure to leave a tab on one side then completing the look by rounding off the corners.  The overall size is 9″ high by 6 1/2″ wide (cut down to 6″ except for where I wanted the tab) because I wanted them to fit a half-sheet of paper but these would look absolutely adorable in a smaller size as well.

Iron Man Dress Up Photo for Avengers Birthday Party Invitation
I knew I wanted to use a photo of Tyler in his Iron Man costume from Halloween for the inserts.  Cute right?  He’s quite a ham when he wants to be.
The rest of the inserts came together pretty easily with all the party details and a bit of clever wording.  I wanted it to look like a “report” you might find inside a Top Secret folder, right?  Then I simply printed them off two to a page.

Super Hero Training Birthday Party Invitation Iron Man

The fonts used are Bernard MT Condensed and Baskerville Old Face.  The Avenger logo is simply clip art I found online.  And the fun Avengers clip art along the bottom was part of a printable pack I found HERE and turned to black and white in Photoshop.  The printables are great – I used them again for a lot of the party supplies as well.

My 12 year old helped me assemble the invitations by stamping Top Secret on top of the folders and attaching the inserts inside the folders with paper clips (I didn’t want them to fall out!)
Avengers Birthday Party Invitation with Top Secret Mini File Folder TutorialMini File Folders for Avengers Birthday Party Top Secret Invitation
Tyler was happy and the whole thing probably took me an hour, tops, to pull together.  Total win!
Now you’re excited to see the rest of the party details, right?!  I’ll share them soon – promise!  The kids had a blast and, like most of my parties, it was simple and inexpensive to put together. Stay tuned…

Linking to:  Tip Me Tuesday, Made By You Monday, Learning from Each Other, Pretty Pintastic Party, BFF Open House,