Sunday, December 30, 2012

Word Up

Yikes!  I just looked back at my 2012 To Do List and realized that my 2013 list will look just about the same.  I started to get a bit down on myself, but then I realized, maybe I didn’t tackle that list, but I did do a bunch of other things.  I guess I made up a new list along the way and didn’t know it. 

And sure, I didn’t really conquer my word for the year either.  MAINTAIN.  Hmmm.  Nope, not so much.  But whatever.  You know what, I gained something else instead.  Looking back at last year, the word really should have been AWARENESS.  I definitely became more AWARE of my actions, so that is progress.  And really, that’s the point.  Moving forward and making progress. 

This year, I’ve decided not to bother including organization, exercise or eating healthy as a part of my “word” because it’s always there hovering over me.  Haunting me.  I know it.  I’m messy and need to exercise more.  It’s my weakness.  I don’t really think I need to write it down to remind myself.  So my word for 2013 is…




Okay, so that’s three words, but they all encompass the same kind of thing.  To be in the moment, enjoy it to the fullest.  Last year, there were several things that continually reminded me to zone in on the little things.  Some things were happening to me personally, some to close friends and some to people I don’t even know in the world around me. 

It was like someone constantly tapping on my shoulder saying, “Hello…life is too short and too quick.  Look around and be present in the present.”  And within this last month, our entire nation was feeling this way.  As cliché as it is, my kids are growing so fast, it’s wacko, crazy and scary and that also means I’m only getting older (big 4-0 coming up) and my parents are too.  I want to eat up every moment.

Do you have a word for 2013?

PS – I was going to do a top ten posts of 2012, but they are listed on the right side bar all year round.  If you haven’t before, I’d love it if you took a peek!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year’s Eve Stuff

Hi guys!  Shooby-do, New Year’s is already around the corner!  Every year we spend it with our friends and their kids at a hotel.  No worries about being on the road and all that.  Works out well.  Over the years, there have been a couple things we’ve done to make it fun.


It’s the best noise maker around because it doesn’t squeal in your ears like the blowers.  We get a few rolls of it and let the kids run up and down popping away at midnight. (original post here)

Fancy Glasses

Last year, we fancified plastic wine glasses for each person to clink in the New Year. 


Check out the original post for more pictures of our “fancy” glasses.

Last year, the adults had fun trying to think up a “word” for the year too.  Kind of like a theme to keep you on track for your resolution.  It was a really fun and funny conversation trying to come up with our words actually.  I got the idea from Mique at Thirty Handmade Days.  She created worksheets to break down your New Year’s Resolution into separate areas, one for kids and one for adults.  I’ve printed them off for us again this year.  You can print them off at the links below…

Kids’ New Year’s Resolution

Adult New Year’s Resolution


So what are you all up to for New Year’s?  Whatever it may be, have fun and be safe!!

Happy New Year, friends!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Wish for You {2012}


Yesterday I was loving how the sun was beaming in through my back windows and hitting this little Norfolk Pine.  One of those super cool, glistening sunbeams.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Anyhow, I started to snap some shots of it.  I decided to move the nativity scene so that the light was shining on it too.  When I did that, the coolest thing happened.  The words on the book right underneath it said  “The Things That Matter”.  Seriously, you’ve got to admit that’s a pretty cool coincidence.




No matter what your beliefs,

I wish you all joy from

the things that matter.


Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Last Minute Christmas Pinspiration Gifts

Last year, I was on the DIY snow globe bandwagon and this year I jumped on the Starbuck’s bottle bandwagon.  There are millions of ways to reuse this adorable little bottles.  I just love ‘em!  For this project, I just wrapped the box in holiday paper, trimmed it out in washi tape and made labels for the caps.


Inside the bottles…

  • Elf Kisses – Hershey Kisses
  • Snowballs – mini marshmallows
  • Green & red candy corn – was going to label this mini trees, but used a Happy Holidays one instead
  • Peppermints – just used a candy sticker

Then I attached a gift card with ribbon and called it done.  This could work for anyone with or without the gift card.




Another Pinterest inspired idea I jumped on was North Pole sticks.


I’ve seen them in cupcakes, powdered donuts or marshmallows.  Super cute.  The kids watched Polar Express with cookies and milk for their school party.  So I sent them home with a North Pole hot chocolate stirring stick with a jingle bell attached.


My original plan was to dip these in chocolate, but I tell ya, I cannot seem to melt chocolate.  So I adjusted and create my own method.  A quick dip in water and roll in  sparkly sugar crystals and boom there you go!



These would be great just hanging with the fam having hot chocolate or out on a platter at a little holiday shin dig.


Last week, I had snack duty for Sunday school.  I couldn’t resist slapping on these melted snowmen labels to add a bit of fun to the water bottles.  I found this free printable here.


We brought the Sunday school teacher some Elf Kisses…


…and we were going to bring snowman powdered donuts, but instead of cute, they looked kind of creepy.  So plain powdered donuts it was!



Check out my Christmas pin board for more last minute pinspiration.

I’m definitely in last minute mode trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends.

Are you ready or are you in last minute mode too?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Babysitter Gift & The Gift of Joy

For our babysitters, I made a simple gift bag filled with an itunes gift card, nail polish, EOS lip balm (mine & my daughter’s new favorite) and some holiday candy.  Tied the bag off with a snowflake ornament just like I did with the stained glass hard candy.  It seems to be my trademark this year.  Easy peasy.


And today I was given the gift of joy by being able to give to a local family in need.  A few friends and I put together a “Basket of Cheer'”.  We all did something different.  Mine was some gift cards to Red Robin and the local grocery store along with a cookie making kit and hot chocolate kit.  I was in a bit of a slump today and it was the best cure for it.


It looks a bit jumbly, but it was definitely a jumble of of joy!

Happy Giving!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Simple Gift: Stained Glass Hard Candy

This gift stemmed from reviving an old, childhood tradition at my house - making hard candy.  As an adult, the part I remember most is the wonderful scent of wintergreen and cinnamon infusing our entire house.


This year, I decided it was time to introduce this tradition to my kids.  I want them to know the smell of Christmas as I knew it when I was growing up.  So during our traditional Christmas weekend with my family, we got to candy making.

It’s a really simple process.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 cups of granulated sugar*
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. of the flavoring of your choice
  • food coloring
  • candy thermometer
  • powdered sugar
  • foil

* Near the end, we used only 3 cups of sugar because we were running out and it worked out great. It made the flavor stronger. Wished we did that with the cinnamon. That was the one flavor that was barely there for some reason.

Here’s what you do:

  • Cover your kitchen table in foil.  Dust it with powdered sugar.


  • Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Boil until the candy thermometer reaches 310 degrees.
  • Add food coloring and flavoring.  It will spatter a bit when you mix it.
  • Pour it directly on your foil creating long ribbons of candy.


  • Wait for it to cool, then crack into bite size pieces.
  • Mix it around with the powdered sugar leftover on the foil.


  • Package it up and you’re done!

I packaged it up in a mini paint can from Target’s dollar section and filled it with the blue wintergreen candy.  Taped a snowflake ornament to it along with a little tag of holiday greetings using glitter tape.  Perfect for bus drivers, teachers, neighbors – anyone you want to give a little sweet sentiment to for the holidays.


Monday, December 17, 2012

taking a moment

Today I found myself staring at my kids desperately trying to memorize their faces and every move.  Memorize the feel of their hugs knowing that life can be taken at any given moment.  I felt tears welling up as I walked away from the bus.  I found comfort that I got to keep my youngest home (sick) just because I would have him nearby.

I’m praying so hard for those directly effected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

I’m praying so hard for anyone suffering a loss, pain or illness.  For the children around the world that live in fear and battle zones on a daily basis.  For the children who dread Christmas vacation because the only meals they receive are at school.  For those trying to figure out where the next paycheck will come from, finding a way to make the best life for their family.  For those fighting demons inside, may they find the help they need.

For anyone that has lost the joy of the season because it will now serve as a constant reminder of loss and pain.  I pray that you will find comfort and peace and someday joy once again.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Duct Tape {Hair} Bows

The other day I came home to my daughter and her babysitter creating duct tape hair bows and I fell in love.

DUCT TAPE HAIR BOWS plumberry pie

They are too cute and better yet, super easy!  Which reminds me, I’ve been wanting to share this awesome gift idea with you since…ooh…April.  My daughter received a bin full of duct tape with a few instructions of how to create things with it.  How cool is that?!  Great gift idea for a wide age range too.


Okay, now back to the bows.  This too, would be a super sweet gift to give to the girls in your life.  My daughter was so excited about them, she started making one for anyone she could think of…including her grandmas.  I cannot wait to see the bows in their hair!!

here’s what you need to get started…

  • duct tape
  • scissors
  • bobby pins, hair clips or headbands



Cut a 3 inch strip of duct tape.



Stick the 3 inch strip to the duct tape still on the roll - sticky side to sticky side.



Then cut it off so you end up with print on both sides of a 3 inch strip.



Fold it like an accordion, just like when you made homemade fans as a kid.



Cut a small strip of contrasting tape to wrap around the middle to create the bow.



Slide a bobby pin under the strip.  Boom, you’re done!

IMG_4894 IMG_4895

You can use clips from Michael’s or thin headbands too.

IMG_4900 IMG_4901

Variation:  the “double-decker”

Just add a smaller bow to sit on top of the bigger one.


A couple other options would be to glue the bows on shoe clips to jazz up some shoes or attach them to gifts, make a pin, so many options.

Have fun!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Gussied Up Brownies

It’s funny, the other day my husband asked me what was going on.  Hadn’t made brownies in the last 10 years and suddenly I’ve made them twice in the past two weeks.  It’s true.  I’m really not a big baker, although making chocolate chip cookies with my mom was one of my favorite pastimes.  So when asked to bake something, I get a bit nervous they won’t taste quite right or something will go awry…like my mangled mess of brownies.

I’ve learned a couple things from making these recent batches of brownies.

  • Make sure they are COMPLETELY cool, otherwise you will end up with a mangled mess when you try to cut them.
  • Throw them in the freezer to make for easier cutting.  It says this right on the box and still I didn’t do it. 
  • Use a plastic knife. I’ve never heard of this, but a couple people told me about it and swear by it. Next time, plastic knife!

Okay, so now let’s talk about getting them all fancied up to go out on the town.  A friend of mine tipped me off to this clever idea.  One of those, "why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. 

  • Put them in cupcake liners. Too cute and added bonus – makes for easy distribution at class parties.  I did that for pudding cups, but somehow the light bulb didn’t go off for brownies until I saw my friend’s.  Thanks, Emily! Smile 
  • Gussy them up with frosting and sprinkles.

Don’t these brownies look extra special all dressed up and ready to go?  These are the brownies my friend made that tipped me off to jazz up my next batch of brownies.

football brownies

I decided to Christmas-fy mine with some crushed candy canes and silver cupcake liners.

If you sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top while the brownies are still warm, you won’t need frosting.  The warmth of the brownies combined with the sugar of the candy canes keeps them stuck on without frosting.


You almost can’t tell how mangled they are. 

One last tip - transporting these guys.  Grab a cupcake courier of some sort.  You can find them most anywhere – Target, Home Goods, etc.  I’ve been wanting one, except most of the time, they only hold 24 cupcakes and most classrooms have over 24 kids.

Emily received this one that holds 36 cupcakes by The Cupcake Courier.  This link is just the home page, not a distributor, but I found some on Amazon.  I’m sure you could run a Google search to find them elsewhere.

cupcake courier

I suppose you could always buy two sets of 24.  One option I found that seemed flexible was one from Snapware.  You would still need to buy two sets for more than 24, but it offers the option to click a layer on or off to fit your needs.  Most of the ones I’ve found can also convert for cake or cookie transportation.

So have you baked anything and fancied it up lately?  Send us the link in the comments so we can check them out!  Or email me a picture.

Friday, December 7, 2012

How to Keep Your FB Feed Coming

Hi there.  You may or may not have noticed that Facebook updates are not as frequent as they used to be.  A friend of mine thought I just took a break from blogging, but the thing is, Facebook requires us to pay if we want our feeds to go to our entire list.  So that means only a certain percentage of people receive the feeds.  Which means it’s hard to tell you that if you aren’t getting the feeds to begin with.

Anyhow, Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick explained it all so well, I’ll send you over there.  She explains how to make sure you receive your Facebook feeds.  Go check out this post for more info.  And you’ll probably end up sticking around for a bit because she’s always got some fun going on.

PS – make sure to spread the word to your friends. Smile

Have a fantastic weekend!

I’ve got my sisters, brother, nephew and parents all coming over for a slumber party starting tonight and ending Sunday!!  So it’s about to get nutty over here.  Hope you get to have some nutty fun too!!

- Kim

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Mantel O’ Natural

Sticking with my simplicity kick, the mantel is just that.  Simple.  It all started with a bundle of pine from the garden store.  Tucked a little here and a little there, threw in giant sugar cones from our tree cutting day and that was it.


I got hooked on a nature inspired Christmas while I was at the garden store the other day.  The natural beauty of the plants themselves just made me happy.  So I grabbed a paper white for the mantel and a couple plants for other spots around the house too.


I’m loving how fresh and crisp they look up there, however I’m not so sure I like the scent of the paper whites.  So this may be the first and last year for those.  And there’s also the fact that I’m not sure I can keep them alive.  This photo was taken the day I got them.  Since then, they’ve gotten all flopsy on me.  They may not even make it to Christmas.

Typically, I use a faux pine garland, but I’m digging this naked, o’ natural look this year.


Oh, and remember how I said that it was possible I might go hog wild after I brought up the bins from the basement?  Well, I started to, but when I stepped back for a look, I took it all down.  It just wasn’t working for me.

But of course, the mantel has to have stockings, so those stayed along with just a few glints of shimmery ornaments.  You can see the paper white getting flopsy in this photo.  What do I do with this thing?  Anyone?

Oh, and look, just like Halloween, I decorated my magazine pile again.  Yep, they’re still there.  With that basket of ornaments and greens, you can’t even tell it’s on top of a clutter pile.  Well, that’s what I tell myself anyway.






I really am lovin this simple approach to Christmas decorating this year.  And I’m amazed at how one little bundle of pine managed to decorate my entire house.  I’ll show you where else it pops up next time.

Have a great day!


Linking this up here and down there.

The Lettered Cottage  XmasCheer2012-220x275 

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