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,

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to take a minute and wish everyone well this holiday season.  Merry Everything and Happy Always to all!Christmas Card 2015 Family Photo in front of barn Merry Everything
(our Christmas card this year, obviously.  And on the back I shared a few highlights from the year)
Christmas card 2015 back Yearly Update Merry Everything Happy Always Great way to share a few extra family photos and some of the highlights of our year

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.

Home Matters Linky Party #67

Welcome to the weekly Home Matters Linky Party. A great place to come, share your blog posts, and make new friends. I am excited to be co-hosting this fabulous link party again this month.  I can’t wait to see what everyone has to share.

Home Matters Linky Party #67!

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We at Home Matters wish you the very happiest of holidays! May this season be full of family and friends, love and joy.

We want to thank you for making Home Matters so successful during 2015. We have loved every moment partying with you!

This is the last party of 2015. We are taking off two weeks to celebrate with our loved ones.

Home Matters Linky Party will return on January 8, 2016.

Enjoy the rest of the year, and we’ll see you then!

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Lorelai at Life With Lorelai:

Lorelai is a Mom, Writer, Pumpkin Artist, Karaoke Singing, Cooking, Gardener blogging about Life, Love, Interests…

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Melissa at Adventures of Frugal Mom:

Melissa is a wife, mom of 3 teenage girls and tons of fur babies who loves hunting for freebies and deals, crafting, and sharing her experiences.

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Melissa shows us how to create DIY Mickey Christmas Ornaments

Mexican Wedding Cakes or Snowball Cookies make a tasty treat from Lorelai

Say, “Hello!” to our November-December 2015 Co-Hosts, and Share some Love by Visiting and Following them on Social Media!

HMLP Co-Hosts November-December 2015

Alayna at Alayna’s Creations:

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Audrey brings us some Fun and Easy Gift Jars

Show some hospitality with this Holiday Guests WiFi Sign from Denise & Sharleen

Jamie shares her Melted Snowman Ornament

Simple and Delicious M&M Cookies from Wendy

Vickie shares 4 Free or Low-Cost Activities for Winter

DIY Pull-up Snowman Gift Card Holder — learn how to make it from Sahana

Alayna shares some Easy Christmas Gifts for Teachers and Classmates

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We have features that will get you through the holidays and take you right into the New Year! A beautiful holiday serving idea, fabulous party drinks, an easy Christmas breakfast, a delicious salad, and how to take your photos to the next level in 2016. You will love these awesome features!

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Christmas Ice Mold from Julie @ Frugally Blonde

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Holiday Cocktails from Kendra @ Simply {Darr}ling

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Easy Breakfast Braid from Jen @ Cincy Shopper

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DIY Portable Photography Light Box from Connie @ Creatively Renewed

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Caramel Apple Salad from Kimberly @ Lou Lou Girls

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We hit 500 Links in last week’s party, so…

HMLP - Highlights 2015

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Mint Marshmallow Cupcakes from Krystal @ Krystal’s Kitsch

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Cinnamon Sweet Potato Biscuits from Melissa @ Oh My! Sugar High

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Thank you to all who linked up at last week’s party. We look forward to seeing what you will be sharing with us this week!

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Thanks for visiting me here at Alayna’s Creations.  I can’t wait to see all the new blog posts and make some new friends!

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.

Home Matters Linky Party #66

Welcome to the weekly Home Matters Linky Party. A great place to come, share your blog posts, and make new friends. I am excited to be co-hosting this fabulous link party again this month.  I can’t wait to see what everyone has to share.

Home Matters Linky Party #66!

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We are so happy to have you here partying with us this week. What an awesome time of year–it is so much fun to see what everyone is up to. Thanks for being so fabulous and sharing your blogs with us.

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Lorelai at Life With Lorelai:

Lorelai is a Mom, Writer, Pumpkin Artist, Karaoke Singing, Cooking, Gardener blogging about Life, Love, Interests…

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Instagram/ Google+/ Hometalk/ StumbleUpon/ YouTube/ BlogLovin’

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Melissa at Adventures of Frugal Mom:

Melissa is a wife, mom of 3 teenage girls and tons of fur babies who loves hunting for freebies and deals, crafting, and sharing her experiences.

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram

HMLP - Here's What We've Been Up To 2015 ©

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Lorelai helps you find Christmas Gifts Your Tech-Savvy Kids Will Adore

We Whisk You A Merry Christmas from Melissa

Say, “Hello!” to our November-December 2015 Co-Hosts, and Share some Love by Visiting and Following them on Social Media!

HMLP Co-Hosts November-December 2015

Alayna at Alayna’s Creations:

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Vickie at Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden:

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Sahana at Vikalpah:

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Jamie at TigerStrypes Blog:

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Audrey at That Recipe:

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Laura at Lauras Little House Tips:

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Denise & Sharleen at Cu-rio:

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Wendy at Living Almost Naturally:

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Jamie shows us how to Create A Christmas Snowflake

5 Smart Stategies To Save Money Eating Out from Vickie

Sahana shares basics, tips & more in Let’s Talk About Lights

You’ve got to try these Sugar Cookies With Edible Frosting Rounds from Denise & Sharleen

Audrey shares a Gift in a Jar: One Hour Whole Wheat Bread Mix

Check out these Elf Antics 2015 – Week 1 from Alayna

Laura brings us 10 Slow Cooker Potato Soup Recipes

Learn the Top Money Saving Laundry Tips from Wendy

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We are looking for Co-Hosts for January 2016. Let’s Rock this party in the New Year!

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HMLP - This Week's Features 2015 ©

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We have some amazing holiday ideas for you. Things from baking, candy making, gifting, decorating, and DIY. We know you will enjoy!

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Holiday Candy Cookie Pop from Brittanie @ Simplistically Living

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Homemade Salted Caramels Recipe - Moms Need To Know - HMLP 66 Feature

Homemade Salted Caramels Recipe from Mindi @ Moms Need To Know

PIN here.

25 Totally Do-Able DIY Gifts for Men - Love Create Celebrate - HMLP 66 Feature

25 Totally Do-Able DIY Gifts for Men from Lindi @ Love Create Celebrate

PIN here.

Christmas Chalkboard Inspiration - Clean & Scentsible - HMLP 66 Feature

Christmas Chalkboard Inspiration from Jenn @ Clean & Scentsible

PIN here.

15 Fabulous Make-Ahead Holiday Cookies - The Frugal Foodie Mama - HMLP 66 Feature

15 Fabulous Make-Ahead Holiday Cookies from Carrie @ The Frugal Foodie Mama

PIN here.

We hit 500 Links in last week’s party, so…

HMLP - Highlights 2015

Highlights Collage - HMLP 66

No-Bake Santa Cookies from Crystal @ Crystal & Co.

PIN here.

Peppermint DIY Bath Bombs from Holly @ IGOBOGO

PIN here.

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Thank you to all who linked up at last week’s party. We look forward to seeing what you will be sharing with us this week!

Remember that every feature is shared on all Host’s and Co-Host’s blogs, as well as on the Home Matters Linky Party Pinterest Board! Don’t forget to follow…

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If you were featured this week, Please Grab our Featured Button to display proudly on your blog post, featured page, or sidebar! Share the joy…

Featured at Home Matters Linky Party
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Featured at Home Matters Linky Party

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Are you ready to Party?

Brand Logo HMLP 2015 ©

The linky party starts when Friday begins and closes when Monday ends, EST.

We at Home Matters love meeting new people and discovering new blogs. Help us grow this party by sharing a link on your post or grabbing our party button for your sidebar or party page.

Home Matters Linky Party - Grab Button
<br />

Home Matters Linky Party - Grab Button

<p>

Stop by and VISIT as many OTHER BLOGGERS as you can. Leave them a message, and share their talents on social media.

Be sure to Please USE our Registered Hashtag

HMLP - Hashtag 2015 ©

Home Matters Linky Party Guidelines:

We are thrilled that you came by to link up today! Here are a few rules that hosts and co-hosts of the Home Matters Party follow, and we ask that you follow them, as well.

    1. Please link up no more than THREE posts each week–try to make sure that they are new links that you have not shared here previously. (Exception: Holiday/Seasonal specific posts may be shared once per year.)
    1. Please take some time to poke around and visit some of the other links.
    1. Please take some time to check out your hosts and co-hosts on social media.
    1. We appreciate the variety of blogs on the www; however, the Home Matters Party is for links on matters of the HOME. Please link accordingly.
    1. We ask that you do not add other Linky Parties, Blog Hops, or Giveaways–unless you begin the party with a new project, recipe or post.
    1. On the same note, please do not add links of an extremist, political or strong controversial nature. (The hosts and co-hosts read each and every blog post linked, and will contact you directly if you have linked something that does not fit into the realm of the party.)

With your help, we can continue to grow the Home Matters Party! Thank you!

HMLP - Interested in Co-Hosting With Us 2015 ©

We are looking for Co-Hosts for January 2016. Let’s Rock this party in the New Year! If you are interested, please

Click Here for DETAILS!

By joining the Home Matters Linky Party you are giving permission for all hosts and co-hosts to use and share any part of your post, including pictures, for party promotion, as featured posts, in party photo collages, on blogs and across social media, etc. All credits will be given to the original source. Also, you will receive a weekly email reminder regarding the new week’s Home Matters Linky Party.

An InLinkz Link-up (click here to view links and add your own!)

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Thank you for joining in the fun and excitement at the Home Matters Linky Party. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. We look forward to chatting with you in the comments.

Don’t have a blog, but want to Remember to Party With Us each week?

Forgot to leave your email while linking up your post?

You can still sign up for our Email Party Reminders. Click below for a form…

HMLP - Get A Party Reminder 2015 ©

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Thanks for visiting me here at Alayna’s Creations.  I can’t wait to see all the new blog posts and make some new friends!

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,

Elf Antics 2015 – Week 1

Christmas Elves Elf On the Shelf Arrival Just in Time

Hello December!  (Have I said that already?)  We are now one full week into the month and I already feel like I’ve fun a marathon – in a good way, of course.  We have been having non-stop fun with Christmas outings and traditions, the little guy’s birthday, and I even slipped in some girls-night fun at Paint Nite last night after taking the kids to the town tree lighting to see Santa.  Good thing I was ahead of orders for laundry drying racks  because yesterday was the first chance I have had to paint racks this month. (we are having an inventory clear out and these are going fast so if you have been meaning to pick one up you might want to do it soon!)

One of our favorite traditions for the season is having our Christmas Elves come for a visit.  This is my variation of the Elf on a Shelf that has been trendy for a few years now – and we’ve been doing it long enough that I have developed a few tips and tricks for hosting one (or two!) of your own HERE.  The kids anticipate their return every year and really enjoy the search for the elves each morning.  You know those elves – they are constantly up to something!  I have been posting daily #elfantics photos on Instagram (so be sure to follow me!) but I thought I would share their adventures on the blog as well.

Day 1 – our elves arrived!  The kids found them hanging from the clock with a note that said “Looks like we got her just in time.  Happy December!  We can’t wait to spend the month with you.  And don’t forget we will be reporting back to Santa!”
Day 2 – found the elves in the kitchen making donut reindeer
Day 3 – We have been deep into prep for Tyler’s Avengers themed birthday party and after seeing all the plans the elves must have wanted to be in on the fun too.  They found Tyler’s dress up box and pulled out the Iron Man and Captain America costumes.  Tinsel even figured out how to “fly.”
Christmas Elf Elf on the Shelf Antique Super Hero Elf dressed up as Iron Man and Captain America
Day 4 – Tyler had been reading his dinosaur book and before going to bed he instructed the elves to do something with the book (which I found amusing to watch and a bit puzzling since dinosaurs are not one of his current obsessions).  The elves found a printable game from The Good Dinosaur movie and were partially through the process of setting it up when the kids woke up.
Christmas Elf Elf on the Shelf Antics for birthday decorating with crepe paper streamers
Christmas Elf Elf on the Shelf Antics for birthday decorating with crepe paper streamers and birthday banner
Day 5 – Happy Birthday to Tyler!  The elves certainly couldn’t be left out of the festivities and decided to decorate the hallway with crete paper.  The boys (Tyler had a friend sleep over the night before) though it looked like a great laser maze and wanted to use it as an activity for the party but the dog ran through the hall and accidentally pulled it all down before party time.
Day 6 – found the elves in Kaitlyn’s closet trying on her clothes.  Twinkle was wearing Kaitlyn skirt for the band concert and trying to play her flute while Tinsel went the more manly route with jeans and Tyler’s cowboy hat.
Day 7 – We had finally managed to set up the tree on Sunday (I purposely waited until after the birthday party) and the elves were happy to build a “tree house” using the discarded boxes from birthday gifts Tyler had left laying around.
Christmas Elf Elf on the Shelf Antics built a tree house out of discraded boxes in the Christmas Tree
Do you have a Christmas Elf or Elf on the Shelf?  What have your elves been up to?  I would love to hear all about it!
Or if you need additional inpiration feel free to follow my elves antics on Instagram or check out my Pinterest Board when I am continually adding new ideas.

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

Home Matters Link Party #65

Welcome to the weekly Home Matters Linky Party. A great place to come, share your blog posts, and make new friends. I am excited to be co-hosting this fabulous link party again this month.  I can’t wait to see what everyone has to share.

Home Matters Linky Party #65!

Brand Logo HMLP 2015 ©

The Holidays are here! Bring on the cheer, and share your ideas and inspiration. We’d love to know how you prepare and celebrate the season.

HMLP - 2HostsLogo August2015

Lorelai at Life With Lorelai:

Lorelai is a Mom, Writer, Pumpkin Artist, Karaoke Singing, Cooking, Gardener blogging about Life, Love, Interests…

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Instagram/ Google+/ Hometalk/ StumbleUpon/ YouTube/ BlogLovin’

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Melissa at Adventures of Frugal Mom:

Melissa is a wife, mom of 3 teenage girls and tons of fur babies who loves hunting for freebies and deals, crafting, and sharing her experiences.

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram

HMLP - Here's What We've Been Up To 2015 ©

Hosts' Posts - HMLP 65

Melissa shows us Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season

Try this Caramel Creme Pie inspired by the movie Christmas With the Kranks from Lorelai

Say, “Hello!” to our November-December 2015 Co-Hosts, and Share some Love by Visiting and Following them on Social Media!

HMLP Co-Hosts November-December 2015

Alayna at Alayna’s Creations:

Facebook/ Pinterest/ Instagram

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Vickie at Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden:

Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ BlogLovin’

HMLP - Spacer - Plant Ball Floral Line Center 2015

Sahana at Vikalpah:

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram/ BlogLovin’

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Jamie at TigerStrypes Blog:

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram/ StumbleUpon/ YouTube/ BlogLovin’

HMLP - Spacer - Plant Ball Floral Line Center 2015

Audrey at That Recipe:

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram/ StumbleUpon/ BlogLovin’

HMLP - Spacer - Plant Ball Floral Line Center 2015

Laura at Lauras Little House Tips:

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram/ StumbleUpon/ BlogLovin’

HMLP - Spacer - Plant Ball Floral Line Center 2015

Denise & Sharleen at Cu-rio:

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram/ BlogLovin’/ Tumblr

HMLP - Spacer - Plant Ball Floral Line Center 2015

Wendy at Living Almost Naturally:

Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+/ Instagram/ StumbleUpon/ BlogLovin’

HMLP - Co-Hosts' Party Posts 2015 ©

Co-Hosts' Party Posts - HMLP 65

Sahana shares some Gift Wrapping Ideas For Small Gifts

Bake Your Own Gingerbread HouseAudrey shows us how.

Alayna gives us 7 Top Tips For Hosting Your Elf On The Shelf

Spanish Rice makes a great side dish from Vickie

Laura shows us how to make Iron Skillet Peaches & Cream Cobbler

Here are some Top Elf On The Shelf Ideas from Wendy

Jamie shares things that bring back memories with Field Of Dreams

Learn how to make Crochet Poinsettia Gift Toppers from Denise & Sharleen

HMLP - Interested in Co-Hosting With Us 2015 ©

We are looking for Co-Hosts for January 2016. Let’s Rock this party in the New Year!

If you are interested, please

Click Here for DETAILS!

We’d love to have you apply.

And now, onto…

HMLP - This Week's Features 2015 ©

Features Collage - HMLP 65

We have some beautiful ideas for sprucing up your home for the holidays, some great DIY projects, some delicious recipes, and a super fun Christmas activity idea.

Decorating Tips To Spruce Up Your Home For Christmas - The Road To Domestication - HMLP 65 Feature

Decorating Tips To Spruce Up Your Home For Christmas from Kristen @ The Road To Domestication

PIN here.

How to Tackle Your First Upholstery Project and Live Through It - Michelle James Designs - HMLP 65 Feature

How to Tackle Your First Upholstery Project and Live Through It from Michelle @ Michelle James Designs

PIN here.

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt - The Evolution of Mom - HMLP 65 Feature

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt from Rachel & Jen @ The Evolution of Mom

PIN here.

How to Add Images to Candles - H20 Bungalow - HMLP 65 Feature

How to Add Images to Candles from Wendi @ H20 Bungalow

PIN here.

Peppermint Mocha Cookies - Virtually Yours - HMLP 65 Feature

Peppermint Mocha Cookies from Kelly @ Virtually Yours

PIN here.

We hit 500 Links in last week’s party, so…

HMLP - Highlights 2015

Highlights Collage - HMLP 65

Slow Cooker Black and White Hot Chocolate from Carla @ Kids Activities Blog

PIN here.

Crock Pot Caramel Pecan Baked Apples from Arlene @ Flour On My Face

PIN here.

HMLP - Spacer - Plant Ball Floral Line Center 2015

Thank you to all who linked up at last week’s party. We look forward to seeing what you will be sharing with us this week!

Remember that every feature is shared on all Host’s and Co-Host’s blogs, as well as on the Home Matters Linky Party Pinterest Board! Don’t forget to follow…

Follow Home Matters Linky Party Board on Pinterest.

If you were featured this week, Please Grab our Featured Button to display proudly on your blog post, featured page, or sidebar! Share the joy…

Featured at Home Matters Linky Party
<br />

Featured at Home Matters Linky Party

<p>

Are you ready to Party?

Brand Logo HMLP 2015 ©

The linky party starts when Friday begins and closes when Monday ends, EST.

We at Home Matters love meeting new people and discovering new blogs. Help us grow this party by sharing a link on your post or grabbing our party button for your sidebar or party page.

Home Matters Linky Party - Grab Button
<br />

Home Matters Linky Party - Grab Button

<p>

Stop by and VISIT as many OTHER BLOGGERS as you can. Leave them a message, and share their talents on social media.

Be sure to Please USE our Registered Hashtag

HMLP - Hashtag 2015 ©

Home Matters Linky Party Guidelines:

We are thrilled that you came by to link up today! Here are a few rules that hosts and co-hosts of the Home Matters Party follow, and we ask that you follow them, as well.

    1. Please link up no more than THREE posts each week–try to make sure that they are new links that you have not shared here previously. (Exception: Holiday/Seasonal specific posts may be shared once per year.)
    1. Please take some time to poke around and visit some of the other links.
    1. Please take some time to check out your hosts and co-hosts on social media.
    1. We appreciate the variety of blogs on the www; however, the Home Matters Party is for links on matters of the HOME. Please link accordingly.
    1. We ask that you do not add other Linky Parties, Blog Hops, or Giveaways–unless you begin the party with a new project, recipe or post.
    1. On the same note, please do not add links of an extremist, political or strong controversial nature. (The hosts and co-hosts read each and every blog post linked, and will contact you directly if you have linked something that does not fit into the realm of the party.)

With your help, we can continue to grow the Home Matters Party! Thank you!

HMLP - Interested in Co-Hosting With Us 2015 ©

We are looking for Co-Hosts for January 2016. Let’s Rock this party in the New Year! If you are interested, please

Click Here for DETAILS!

By joining the Home Matters Linky Party you are giving permission for all hosts and co-hosts to use and share any part of your post, including pictures, for party promotion, as featured posts, in party photo collages, on blogs and across social media, etc. All credits will be given to the original source. Also, you will receive a weekly email reminder regarding the new week’s Home Matters Linky Party.

An InLinkz Link-up (Click to view links and add your own!)

Thank you for joining in the fun and excitement at the Home Matters Linky Party. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. We look forward to chatting with you in the comments.

Don’t have a blog, but want to Remember to Party With Us each week?

Forgot to leave your email while linking up your post?

You can still sign up for our Email Party Reminders. Click below for a form…

HMLP - Get A Party Reminder 2015 ©

HMLP - Spacer - 3 Planter blue 2015 ©

Thanks for visiting me here at Alayna’s Creations.  I can’t wait to see all the new blog posts and make some new friends!