Monday, November 30, 2009

Tennessee Playhouse Cottage

Hello! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I had a few posts scheduled because the T family traveled from Virginia almost all the way to Nashville, Tennessee. It was a loooooong and painful car ride with two small children, but lots of fun once we got there. We stayed with T's Uncle Rich and Aunt Marie...and about 20 other people. In one (large) house. Really.

Most children have a radar sense when it comes to new toys and adventures, and mine are no exception. They spotted the backyard playhouse immediately the morning after our arrival.
Uncle Rich built this cozy little cottage several years ago, and all of the cousins enjoy playing when Thanksgiving rolls around each year. This isn't exactly my DIY project, but it's such a sweet little playhouse that I had to share it!

I love how Aunt Marie decorates it for each season. The front porch had a pumpkin sitting out, and the front door (which really locks!) had a lovely Fall wreath displayed prominently to greet little visitors. Soon it will have a Christmas tree and lights up!

Natalie was most enamored of the toy grill and adorable, child-size wicker furniture on the front porch.

This photo was unfortunately taken after my children and their cousins ransacked the house.

The cottage has a working chandelier and real laminate flooring. The cream colored furniture and bed belonged to T's grandmother when she was a little girl.

I love the cheerful blue walls and airy curtains. I didn't ask, but I believe that the cottage features original artwork painted by T's Aunt Edie.

When cousin Samuel arrived, he immediately found the only toy gun on the premises and announced that he was going out to hunt the rooster. I don't think Uncle Rich's roosters appreciated this part of the make-believe morning, but thankfully Samuel's hunt was unsuccessful.

The kids decided to make acorn soup in an urn instead. It's kind of like an outdoor crock-pot, you know?
Don't you love how Samuel thought to go inside and grab the toy blender? Those acorns are really difficult to mix.

Cousin Olivia thoughtfully reminded Natalie to roll her sleeves up when stirring. It would be a shame to get acorn soup on her new coat.

The acorn soup was wonderful, and I say that more out of maternal duty than of actually having tasted it. I'd rather eat cranberries from a can, and that's saying something!

Cooking can be exhausting, so the kids went inside and trashed our bedroom instead.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed. Maybe next time, I'll make Natalie sleep in the playhouse....

For more DIY inspiration, please visit Kimba at A Soft Place to Land for her weekly party.

Coming up at Serenity Now? My Blogiversary/Christmas Giveaway, a Thanksgiving and Black Friday Extravaganza recap, recipes, Christmas projects, movie reviews, and more!
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Friday, November 27, 2009

If You're Not Braving Black Friday (Or If You Are)

*Did you miss my Featured post over at Centsational Girl? Click over to read about Black Friday's not for the faint of heart!*

If I still haven't sold you on how much fun it is to devote a whole day to shopping, then head over to Shutterfly to check out their fabulous holiday offers! My favorite "buy one calendar, get the rest 50% off" sale is on!

This is a great way to get some Christmas shopping done without leaving your house.

As you browse cyberspace today, think of me...I'll be reveling in the wonder of Black Friday!
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The 27th Day of Thankful

It's Day #27 of 27 Days of Thankful. Click the link to find out what's been going on here every day in November.

Today, I am thankful to spend this holiday with my husband and two girls. I'm not crazy about the 10+ hours in the car to get to our destination, but I am so grateful that God has blessed me with such a caring husband and two sweet little girls.

Have a wonderful day, and remember that Thanksgiving shouldn't stop here. Take a few moments every day to meditate on the blessings in your life!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Man-Cold

Pam over at Bibbidi Bobbidi Beautiful sent me a link to this video, and I just had to share it with you all for a smile today.

Take a little break from those Thanksgiving dinner preparations and have a laugh. If you know any man who has ever had the slightest ailment, this video will resonate with you.

Here's the link in case you can't see the video here.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin, and Spice, and Everything Nice

It's Tasty Tuesday! Head over to see Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam for some gourmet inspiration.

This month, we've been looking for simple ways to celebrate Thanksgiving and being grateful for the blessings in our lives. I love it when I find little reminders of Thanksgiving that make my kids smile too.

I found these placemats a few months ago at JoAnn Fabric, on sale for 30% off. They were too cute to pass up.

A month or so after that first purchase, the turkey plates and cups were 50% off, so I brought those home too, and the girls love them.
Michaela Byrd is too little to drink out of the cup without spilling milk everywhere, but she loves talking to the turkey, who she sometimes calls a chicken.

I needed a good, kid-friendly recipe to fill those plates with. My sister dictated her recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins over the phone and I promised to give them a try.

{Pumpkin Spice Muffins}

1 box spice cake mix
1 can pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
2 eggs

Beat all ingredients for 2 minutes on medium speed with an electric hand mixer. Beat at 1 minute on high. Bake according to box directions.

I served mine with cream cheese frosting. Yum!

{Cream Cheese Frosting}
from Williams Sonoma

In a bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (all items should be at room temperature) on medium speed until smooth and creamy (approximately 2 minutes)

To ice our muffins, I spooned some melted frosting into a plastic baggy inside a glass.

Then I snipped an end off:

Then drizzled icing over the muffins. Divine!

Did the same thing with unmelted frosting. Also delicious.

Natalie's preschool teachers were pleased. And they most definitely passed the kid test. My kids were practically dancing in their booster seats when they got a whiff of those babies!

Note: these are a little cakey (since we used a box mix), but really not bad and very simple!

It's Day #24 of 27 Days of Thankful. Click the link to find out what's going on here every day in November until Thanksgiving Day. Only a few mores days to go until Thanksgiving!

Today, I am thankful for new recipes that pass the "kid test."

{What are you thankful for today?}
If you link up, please include a link back to this post. Thanks!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

DIY: Simple Party Invites

Some kids just really know what they want.

Months ago, Natalie told me that she wanted an "Ariel Under the Sea" party for her 4th birthday. Because my friend Tracy has 4 buckets of ocean decorations she'll let me borrow I wanted to be a fun mom, I agreed.

It didn't hurt that Disney's The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite movies when I was a little girl. I was surprised that Natalie stuck to her guns, and now months later, she's still talking about her "Arield" party. (Yes, she adds a "d" to the end of it)

I saw some Little Mermaid party invitations a few weeks ago, but I like to do things myself when I can. I knew that with some Joann's coupons, I could make the invites for less than it would take to buy them, and I'd use naptime to work.

I thought that today I'd show you how I made the invites, which could easily be customized to fit a Christmas theme for upcoming children's holiday parties.

I started in Microsoft Publisher, which is the program I use for documents if I need to use clip art. I believe Microsoft Word also has greeting card templates.
I chose a standard greeting card template and deleted all of the existing wording and clip art. Then I added in my own "ocean wave" borders, wording, and clip art photos of Sebastian the crab and Flounder (found on Google).

I liked using this template because it prints 4 to a page, which decreases the amount of ink and paper I'll have to use.

Then I gathered my supplies.
You'll need 3 or 4 sheets of paper in coordinating patterns and colors. I chose blue and purple to go with colors I saw on The Little Mermaid DVD cover. You'll also need a pencil, ruler, glue stick, scissors, and/or a paper trimmer.

I measured 12 purple squares small enough to fit inside the invitations envelopes (bought at Staples ages ago).

Then I pulled out my coordinating paper, a lovely blue with glittery purple polka dots.

I measured the patterned paper out to fit on top of the purple squares, leaving a border on each one.

Here's the back after I glued the printed invite down. This sure saved me a sore hand from hand-writing a bunch of invitations! Before they were mailed, I added a few Little Mermaid-themed sea shell stickers.
Time for the front!

Months ago, I found a Disney Princess stamp set at JoAnn fabric that included an Ariel stamp. I used my 40% off coupon to make the price just right. I like acrylic stamps because they are versatile and easy to store. Most craft stores have lovely Christmas stamps out right now.

I used good old Publisher to print a bunch of purple polka dot circles. Then I stamped an Ariel in the center of each one in black.

I couldn't find my colored pencils, so I used some watercolor pencils. If naptime's end hadn't been quickly approaching, I might have played around with the watercolor. I know these will end up in most people's trash cans after a day or two, so I wasn't intent on creating any masterpieces.

I colored in a faint blue background in each circle and then cut them out and glued them in the center of each card. (Sorry for all the white never know who's reading, right?)
These could easily be embellished with ribbon, buttons, extra stickers, more glitter, you name it. Most craft stores (any other Virginians want to join me in campaigning for a Hobby Lobby??!) carry lovely paper packs with different Christmas themes.

Think of the possibilities! Invites for caroling parties, cookie exchanges, moms' group brunches, Christmas movie viewings, family holiday gatherings....

And to make sure each little girl knows for sure what the theme is, I sealed the envelopes with an Ariel sticker. Natalie commandeered the extras for her own private collection.

Looking for more DIY inspiration? Visit Kimba at A Soft Place to Land for her weekly party.

It's Day #23 of 27 Days of Thankful. Click the link to find out what's going on here every day in November until Thanksgiving Day. Only a few mores days to go until Thanksgiving!

Today, I am thankful for 40% off coupons to craft stores (they make crafting so much easier!).

{What are you thankful for today?}
If you link up, please include a link back to this post. Thanks!

*Did you miss my Featured post over at Centsational Girl on Saturday? Click over to read about Black Friday's not for the faint of heart!*

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Thrifty Find (And 27 Days of Thankful #22)

If you have children or if you were ever a child then you know how difficult it is for them to give up a toy.

Even if it was a pink plastic Barbie compact from a McDonald's Happy Meal that laid forgotten at the bottom of the toy box for 3 months.

With Christmas coming, the T house is about to be inundated with another truckload of toys. I wanted to stay ahead of the game this year, so I've been practicing my stealthy moves.

Last week, when the girls were napping, I raided their toy box and canvas toy bins and chucked a whole lot of STUFF into two big bags and a box. I crept out the front door and hid the loot in the back of my car, and they were none the wiser.

On Friday morning, T stayed home with Natalie to watch Mulan for the 856th time, and I loaded Michaela Byrd up to make a donation to the Salvation Army. Of course, no one was working in the back, so I had to unload a fidgety toddler and haul her past an open case of ceramic cows to get someone at the front desk to sign my donation slip.

As I waited in line, singing every verse to "Old MacDonald's Farm" that I could think of, my eyes wandered across the store and I spotted this gem:

I breathed a quick prayer that the woman browsing that section would overlook my find and continue inspecting the 40 year old Tupperware she picked up.

The Thrift gods smiled on me, and I run-walked across the store as soon as my slip was signed, trying to look nonchalant, but I am sure I had the gleam of a good bargain in my eye. Once the apothecary jar was in my hands, I had to figure out a way to hold onto it and my toddler. It was like Sophie's Choice, I tell you.

I did a happy dance out of the store, after having paid only $1.50 for my new apothecary jar. It's the largest one I own now (I showed Michaela Byrd's hand so you could see how big it is), and I can't wait to fill it with pretties for Christmas. I love it when I happen upon items on my "wish list" when I'm not really even looking for them!

Do you use apothecaries in holiday decorating?

It's Day #22 of 27 Days of Thankful. Click the link to find out what's going on here every day in November until Thanksgiving Day.

Today, I am thankful for unexpected thrifty finds.

{What are you thankful for today?}
If you link up, please include a link back to this post. Thanks!

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Countdown to...Black Friday Shopping!

Centsational Girl

I know it's Saturday, so I hope someone out there will read this. (Hello? Bueller?) I have some exciting news!

One of my favorite bloggers, Kate from Centsational Girl, is featuring a new post today that I wrote about Surviving Black Friday Shopping!

If this is your first time visiting, I have a couple of links to some of my favorite posts at the very bottom of this one. If you like it here, I'll hope you'll come back soon.

Please stop by Centsational Girl today and leave some comment love when you have a chance. Kate's blog never disappoints--so many ideas swirling around over there that I don't know how the girl ever sleeps!

In honor of the countdown to Black Friday (which will be my second favorite Friday this year, after Christmas, of course), I thought I'd list the Top 10 things I'll be looking for on Black Friday.

1. A cute tea cup like this one:
My MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group is doing a teacup exchange at our Christmas meeting, and I can't take just any old crusty tea cup. The polka dots on this one are fun.

2. Brown boots.

I love these from Steve Madden.

I'm on the fence with these from Payless, but something about them intrigues me.
Maybe it's the fringe. I could have existential discussions on shoes all day, but then you'd get bored and wouldn't want to come back.

3. A classic white table cloth.
My Ralph Lauren tablecloth was ruined last Christmas Eve when one of my sister-in-laws (I'm not naming names, Deanna) spilled hot chocolate all over it. I've been on the hunt for the perfect replacement. I have Christmas tablescapes dancing in my head!

4. Christmas tree ornaments. I {heart} Christmas tree ornaments, and I give each of my girls one every Christmas.
To be honest, they could care less as they are only 3 1/2 and 22 months, but I love Hallmark's Keepsake Ornaments. They blend in with our mish-mash family tree in the Living room.

5. Something, anything to please my mother. Enough said.

6. A new eyeshadow that does not crease and smear 4 seconds after application.
I'm looking for something neutral. Any suggestions?

7. Something, anything to please my Nannie, who is 98. This means she has had 98 years to accumulate a. lot. of. stuff. She's a tough sell, is all I'm sayin'.

8. A new sweater coat. Love these two from Old Navy. That grape colored one rocks my world.
I could pair the gray one with my skinny jeans.

9. Something, anything to please T (the husband). He's the hardest one on my entire list to buy. His list always includes expensive items related weaponry, sports, expensive tools, or manly gadgets. My budget this year is small. The poor guy may end up with some eyeshadow and a sweater coat. Seriously.

10. Anything Christmas related that catches my eye. If it can make my house look like this, I'm game:
credit: BH&G
Of course, I don't have a fireplace and the picture is missing 68 Fisher Price Loving Family dolls and accessories littering the floor, but you get the idea....

No link ups today for 27 Days of Thankful, but I am thankful today to be featured on one of my favorite blogs. What are you thankful for today?

For you lovely visitors (or newer Followers), here are a few links to some of my favorite posts:

House & Home:

Stuff my Family Has Done or Is Doing to Drive Me Insane:
Worst. Wedding. Toast. Ever.
Can You Hear Me Now?
High Fashion
Why I Love Toddlers

Happy Friday, friends!

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