Friday, December 31, 2010

The end...

...of 2010.  Hope its been a fabulous year for all of you.  We hope the past few months we've been able to give you a little bit of inspiration for your homes and lives.  We look forward to sharing lots of great ideas in 2011!  Check in Monday for our January drawing announcement! 

If there's anything you'd like us to feature or highlight this next year let us know!  We'd love to hear from you!

Today I thought I'd share a little list of resolutions I saw on Haley Warner's blog a little while ago (she's a great photographer who does mini-shoots at a reasonable price a few times a year.  Check out her blog at  Although they focus on young Moms, I think there's at least one resolution for everyone in the list...

1.  I will embrace the fact that I am not perfect
2.  I will get down on the floor and play with my child(ren) everyday
3.  I will take care of my body
4.  I will learn to love the chaos
5.  I will make family dinner a priority
6.  I will focus a little more on my marriage
7.  I will make time for my friends
8.  I will remind myself daily that time with my children is precious

May 2011 be a wonderful year for all of us.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A few party favorites...

If you're planning a get-together tomorrow night, here are two delicious things to add to the menu...

Cranberry Slush
(Thanks to my friend Kristin for sharing!)

Photo courtesy of Taste of
1 quart pineapple juice
1 quart cranberry juice
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
1-2 bottles Sprite (the pomegranite 7-UP would be great too!)

Most pineapple and cranberry juices come in 2 quart can make two batches and save one for later!  Combine all ingredients except Sprite and pour into 1-2 gallon Ziplock bags.  Freeze for at least 3-4 hours before serving.  It should be frozen, but able to be broken easily.  Place in bowl and add Sprite.

Photo courtesy of Culinary

These are SO easy and yummy.  All you need is...

Bag of frozen meatballs (I buy the bag at Costco)
1 jar chili sauce (Homemade Chili Sauce is the best...Fresh Market and Walmart)
1/2 jar grape jelly

Place frozen meatballs in crockpot and add chili sauce and grape jelly.  Let cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 1-2 hours.  We've also done bbq sauce instead of chili sauce and it's great too!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Decluttering for the new year

Lisa gave me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine and I love it!  It's only $5.99 for a year...highly recommend it!  This month included an article on 25 ways to declutter your home for the new year (pg. 39 if you have a copy).  Lisa and I picked our five favorite tips to share with you and here are mine...

"A system that's a natural extension of your habits is easier to stick with than one that forces dramatic change.  So set up solutions right where clutter collects, such as a labeled pail for each family member's shoes and other equipment."

Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine
  I am a huge fan of wicker baskets.  They look good and can also serve a very functional purpose.  Put one at the bottom of your stairs or near an area that often gets cluttered with "stuff".  It's an easy way to quickly gather everything and put it in it's right place! 

"Create a repair center for clothes that need mending, toys that need batteries, things that need gluing.  That way, unusable items aren't in general circulation, and you know where to look when you have time to tackle a project." 

"Relegating a sentimental item you no longer have use for to a box in the closet, basement, or attic does nothing to honor it.  Instead, take a photo of the item and put it in a scrapbook or load it on your digital picture frame.  Then donate the item.  It's both space-saving and respectful."

"Each spring and fall, do CPR on your closet:  Categorize, Purge, and Rearrange.  Carefully consider each item.  If it doesn't make you feel wonderful or look fabulous, it's a no.  Put it in the "to donate" box, and put that box in your car right away."

"If you're having trouble letting go of clutter, whether it's too many things in your house or too many commitments eating up your time, think about what it requires you to sacrifice.  Less stuff means less to organize and less money spent.  Fewer activities means less running around and more family time."  

 I also thought I'd share one organizational tip of my own.  For the longest time I had a cluttered mess of pens, phone books, papers, etc. overflowing in a larger cabinet space.  I decided to dedicate one drawer in my kitchen for these things and get rid of the rest.  It really has made such a difference! 

Organization makes me so happy.  Make a commitment in 2011 to live a more organized life and I promise it will make a positive impact on everything you do!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Packed away for next year...

Time to say goodbye to all the red and green in our homes!  Here are a few tips to make it organized and ready to be put back up next year! 

#1 - Organize decorations by each room in your house.  On the outside of your bins write which room it belongs in.  Next year you can decorate room by room as you have time!   

#2 - (Thanks to Lisa for this one!)  Take a picture of the set-up of your decorations before you take them down and tape the picture somewhere to your storage bin.  If you loved the way you displayed certain items, this will help you to replicate the same design for next year!

#3 - Gallon sized Ziplock bags work great for keeping like ornaments together...especially those with glitter to keep everything else in your bin from becoming sparkly!  I wrap fragile ornaments in one piece of tissue paper before placing in the bags to give a little extra cushion.

#4 - We all know now is a great time to buy Christmas items for next year!  If there's something you wanted to do this year but didn't want to spend the money, start looking for those items now!  One great idea is to let your kids decorate a small tree in their rooms.  The little aspen trees are usually at least 50 percent off now along with cute ornaments and picks.  You can have it ready as a December 1st Christmas surprise for them! 

#5 - Make a Christmas card memory book!  I always keep one of our Christmas cards to put in a memory book.  I've kept it simple and just mount our card on cardstock and will buy a nice photo binder to put them in.  What a fun tradition to pull this out as the years go by!  If you don't write a Christmas letter you can also write bullet points on these pages of the fun things that happened each year.

Now take some of your gift money and fill your Christmas void with a fun new decoration!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fun Find: Supplies to put Christmas away!

So...hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  This week we'll all be saying goodbye to our Christmas decorations until next year.  Thought I'd share Target's deals on Christmas bins.  Lisa had a great thought to use orange and black colored bins for fall and Halloween decor and green and red for Christmas (clear with colored lids also works great!)



Tomorrow I'll be sharing a few tips on how to put Christmas away to make it easier to get out and set-up next year! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Ornament Tradition

I married into a fabulous Christmas tradition.  Every year on Christmas Eve, my husband's family gives each other ornaments.  Davy got a truck every year, so we have quite the truck collection.  I loved this idea and have carried it on in our family these past nine years. 

 Each year, I get a new santa ornament.  Below is my favorite!

 I love seeing what the santa will look like from year to year.

 For Davy, I pick an ornament that represents something from the year.  This is from the year he graduated from the U of U.

 This is from our 2nd Christmas.  Basketball is his second love!

 This was Khloe's ornament from last year.  When I saw it, it reminded me of her and her love for puppies.

 This was Porter's from last year when we went on the Polar Express.  He talked about it all season long and was a one-time memory.

The Village Christmas store at Gardner Village has an amazing selection of ornaments.  I hope this gives you an idea of a simple way to reflect on the year and create a memory.  Also, when your kids leave the nest, they will have their own ornaments to decorate their trees.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Eve Tradition

Re-enacting the nativity is one of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions.  When I was little, we would all dress up and role-play the nativity as an adult read Luke 2.  Here are some great costume ideas to do the same at your Christmas Eve gathering.
Sparkle Box has these great masks that are free to download.

Oriental Trading sells cheap nativity costumes you could purchase or look at for a pattern of your own.  Seagull Book was offering them this year as well.

If you want to assemble your own, towels and ties make the perfect head piece for the shepherds.  White sheets and sparkly twine make a great angel costume.  Be creative and enjoy re-enacting the nativity story this Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making that Special Gift

If you can't think what to give that person in your life that has everything or is SUPER hard to buy for, consider making him/her a personalized gift this year using:  Avery's Light Fabric Transfers.
They are simple to use and turn out great.

I used them to make my own vintage hot cocoa bags for Davy's work party.  Simply find an image that you like, place the Avery 3271 sheet facedown in your printer and print the image.  Next, cut out your image and find your fabric, whether it be a t-shirt, fabric bag, etc.  Using a hot iron, iron the paper side of the Avery image onto your fabric.  (Detailed instructions are included and are very easy).  After 40 seconds of ironing and 2 mins of setting time, peel off the paper, and voila: you have your image!  You could frame your favorite image, sew it for a pillow, ornament, etc.  I used muslin and sewed the bags in about 3 mins!  This is a great project and a great idea for that last minute gift!  You can buy the Avery Fabric Transfer paper at Walmart on the office supply aisle for $7.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hot Chocolate Tasting Game

If you are looking for a fun game to play at your holiday parties this week, try the hot chocolate tasting game.  Purchase the eight hot cocoa mixes below.  Put them in eight different numbered bowls.  Give each guest a paper numbered from 1-8.  Give each guest his/her own mug and have them mix each of the eight cocoa mixes and try to guess the flavor.  Reveal the answers at the end and send the winner home with some Stephen's Hot Cocoa!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Once There Was a Snowman

For the last three years, my friend Amanda has given us a snowman kit for Christmas.  The first year, it was your traditional Frosty, the second year, a pirate, and this year a cowboy.  Here's what you need to start the tradition with your own family:
Classic Frosty:
Basic black top hat (Partyland)
Orange wooden carrot
2 black coal eyes and 4 black coal circles for smile 
(Roberts-She used wooden circles painted black with dowels glued on ends to stick into snowman)

Pirate Snowman:
Pirate hat (Partyland)
Golden hoop earring glued onto wooden dowel (Partyland and Roberts)
Hook (Partyland)
Striped scarf/belt
Eye patch glued onto wooden dowel (Partyland and Roberts)
Re-use eyes, nose, and mouth

Cowboy hat (Partyland)
Mustache (Roberts)
Re-use eyes and nose

Friday, December 17, 2010

A drink to sip and smell

Hot spiced punch is my husband's favorite winter drink.  It's really yummy and also serves as great potpourri.  This recipe makes alot so its great for large parties or to enjoy each night for a week (make sure to use a large pot when making it)!

Hot Spiced Punch
2 1/2-3 cups white sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
4 quarts water
1 large can of pineapple juice
2 6 oz cans of orange juice
1 6 oz can of lemonade
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
Dash of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg

Mix all together and simmer on medium for 30 minutes to an hour.  Keep warm to serve.

We keep it simmering on low for a few hours...makes the house smell great!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stuffing the Stockings

Here's a list of 10 ideas of what you can fill your kid's stockings with...usually my last piece of Christmas shopping! 

Books... (a few favorites and recommendations from my Mom the kindergarten teacher)
1.  My 18 month old walks around with this book in hand most of the day.  A must have for every children's library! ($6, Target and
2.  This book is so sweet and fun to read even to the tiny newborns.  ($8,

3.  The Magic Tree House series is great for both boys and girls ages 6-8 (early chapter book level, $7 for the first four books,
4.  The Rainbow Fairies series is popular among little girls 6-8 ($4 per book,

5.  The Leapfrog DVD's are great for preschoolers in learning the alphabet, early reading and math skills.  If you're going to get just one, get the Letter Factory...they are frequently at Costco for $6 each but you can order from for $10 each or a set of 3 for about $25.

 6.  The Scholastic Storybook Collection is a great price at Costco right now...$50 for 100 stories on DVD.  It's great to also have the book out and follow along with the DVD.  Even in the book order it's usually about $80.

Other fun ideas...
 7.  The Disney figurine sets are so cute and you can open and wrap each individual toy to make the gift giving last longer (without having to buy more!) ($12.50, Disney Store)

8.  Give a date with your kids!  Buy a certificate to McDonalds (or their favorite place) along with two movie tickets.  Plan a date with just the two of you.

9.  Make a CD of your family's favorite music and give it to everyone.

10.  Use their stocking as an opportunity to replace all the necessities...sippy cups, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, bows etc.  While they may not shout for joy at these things, you'll be spending money on worthwhile things instead of little junk toys you'll throw away in a few days!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This and That

Here are a few things I have around my house that add an extra Christmas flair:

 I bought these round topiaries after Christmas last year at Michaels for $2.50 each.  I debated what to do with them earlier in the season and recently created what you see.  Just tied together and finished with bows made of different ribbon.  I guess I found a way to use the plant hanger left by the previous owner after all!

 This picture of Santa is actually scrapbook paper from Roberts!  I'm no longer a scrapbooker but will now start looking for alternate uses for cute paper! 

My friend Stephanie made this darling banner for me a few years ago.  I LOVE it! 

 Each letter is embellished so well!  It's a plain triange shape layered with a smaller triangle that has been accordian folded (I'm thinking they used the roller machine that creates the accordian texture).  Next layered with the accordian circle and sparkly letters!  These banners are great for spaces you don't want to rearrange but need something festive in the room!

Lastly, had to show one of my 50 percent off purchases from Rod Works.  I loved this Santa...he was $7 and the JOY was $3.  With their store having been 50 percent off Christmas for a few days now I'm not sure what they'll have left, but I love the purchases I've found!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

garland banister revamped

I grew up with my Mom wrapping our banister with garland and lights which I now do in my own home.  A few years ago I decided to hang ornaments from it as well and really like the color it adds...

Bulbs from Walmart and Hobby Lobby are inexpensive and they both have great colors and designs to choose from.  Just hang with clear fishing wire and tie to the top of your banister.  A few other items that would work great to add to the banister include kids ornaments they've made for you at school, small framed pictures of your family from past Christmases or tie bows of different sizes and ribbons throughout. 

If you've never been a big decorator at Christmastime and would like to start, your banister is the perfect place.  It really adds alot to your home and isn't too expensive (again, garland is $4 for a 9 foot piece at Walmart, white lights $2.50 for a 100 count strand and bulbs are $5 for 18).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fun Find: The smell of fresh pine

The downside to an artificial tree is the fake, plastic smell that comes along with it.  My friend Kallee introduced me to these wonderful smelling satchels from Scrooge and Marley's...

For $2 each you too can have your home smell like fresh pine.  Lovely...

I hope you are thoroughly enjoying yourself this holiday season.  If its been too much hustle and bustle so far, take some time today to sit with your family around the Christmas tree, listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate!  Lisa and I love sharing this part of the holiday, but we also want you to know we appreciate and cherish the birth of our Savior and what part he plays in this season...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Easy Recipes for the Perfect Holiday Party

When hosting a party, it is always tough deciding what to serve.  Here are some quick recipes for your holiday party.

Little Smokies: Buy the Hillshire Farms Little Smokies, place in crockpot with bbq sauce, and heat.  Use toothpicks to serve!

Shrimp Dip: Mix one container of sour cream with one can of crushed shrimp (Make sure to drain the liquid and rinse in water.)  Add 2 tbsp of Worchestire, 2 tbsp lemon pepper, garlic and onion salt to taste.  Serve with Ruffles.

Meatballs:  Costco sells great meatballs.  Lindsay has a fabulous recipe that she'll be posting for New Year's Eve.

Main Dish:
Ham: I buy a honey ham at Costco and serve it cold with rolls. 

CranApple Sparkle: Mix one jug Ocean Spray CranApple with one 2-liter of Sprite.  Place in large punch bowl with frozen ice ring.  (If you have a Jello mold, simply fill it with water, freeze, and you have the perfect ice ring!)

Hope you have a great holiday party!  Don't forget that the perfect way to end your party is by playing "Christmas Tree!"  It is a fabulous way to spice up your gift exchange this year.  Check Monday's post.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Just thought I would share a few of my favorite holiday decorations.  They are simple and inexpensive ways to dress up your home this holiday. 

I made these wreath for about $10 with items purchased from TaiPan.  I hang them on my outside lights.

This is the first year I bought poinsettas.  Lowe's had them the day after Thanksgiving for $.98.  I found these darling red ceramic pots at IKEA for $1.99.

I couldn't believe my luck when they rang in that cheap!  IKEA is the place for cheap finds!

I bought these items from Rod Works.  This santa is my favorite as he is resin-carved and was only $13.  The sign was $9 and the ornament $2.  Rod Works is having 50% off one Christmas item and still have lots of great things.  Don't forget to check Monday's post for my favorite Christmas game!