Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the Eve of Christmas

It's the night before Christmas and all through the house, excitement - pure and untainted - flows through our house. Children whisper and inside their little ambious hearts, expectations of a certain visitor arise.  There is not one single corner within the house that is not decked with holly, mistletoe, or joy for what the evening will bring.

However,we are reminded that long ago another story came before then one being told from above.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.... Upon this day of His birth, the sheperads came to see him from afar.  They came, not bearing gifts, but tidings of good will to men and cheer. 

Tonight, with little ones nestled in their beds with visions of Nintendo DS's, Video Games, and Toys in their heads, remember as your up late wrapping presents and searching for last minute gift stashes in the closet to reflect on the spirit of the holiday. 

Tomorrow is a day of celebrations, of family gatherings, and of children's joy.  Tomorrow is a day well remembered in our hearts from generation to generation, traditions long handed down, and sharing the love of one little babe whose birth started this splendid holiday.

There is another bedtime story that perhaps we overlook most often, the birth of Jesus.  Tis the reason for the season, and whether your Christmas if filled with presents abundantly under the tree, or only three gifts, know the greatest gift is love.

Love is a book within itself, that never runs out of pages, has no end, and starts as a babe on Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!

See you all in the New Year.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Special Book for a special Great Grandmother

Every year for Christmas we visit both families, and always make it a point to drop in and visit Chad's grandmother.  This year, when I was trying to think of a special gift for my children's only living Great-Grandmother I thought of a book. 

Chad and I's philosphy is, and has always been, "You can't have too many books".
Last year, I made Great-Grandmother a shadow box with a picture of her great-grandchildren.

This years' gift is a memory album filled with bible verses, quotes, and poetry.

As you can see, this unique memory album enables you to open each new page to something new, like a window or opening a door to new discoveries.
 At the end, it closes on the last page with a bronze silk tied bow.

Not only does this memory album make a great gift for a great-grandmother, it's possibilities are endless.  Hmmm... maybe Mother's day too?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Momma's Mocha Cappuccino

Lately, I've been on a Mocha Cappuccino kick. It's so addicting, my husband has also been following the habit. After attending a recent Taste of Home show in November, I started flipping through the free copy of my Taste of Home Magizine and came across a recipe for Mocha Cappuccino. The recipe is as follows:  2/3 cup instant coffee, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup dry dairy creamer, 1 cup instant chocolate drink mix (like Nestle' or Ovaltine), 1/2 tsp of cinnimon, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. Mix all ingrediants together and place in a container. Stir 3 tablespoons of mixture into 6 oz of hot water for some Mocha Cappuccino.
I used a recycled peanut butter container, took off the old label and created my own. This makes a great gift!

Monday, December 14, 2009

25 Days of Free Holiday Music

This month only, is offering a free downloadable MP3 song as they count down the 25 days of Christmas!!

The only thing you need to take advantage of this offer is to have an account.  Then from now until Christmas enjoy one free holiday song on your MP3 Player.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Meal Planners for Teacher Gifts this Christmas

Every year, as Christmas approaches I'm always in a mad dash to come up with new ideas to give my children's teachers for gifts.  Last year, it was brownies in a jar, this year my local MOPS group made peppermint bark, bagged it, and put cute little tags on it. This year, however, I didn't make enough peppermint bark to go around to all the teachers during craft time. 

So this year, I thought it would be a neat idea to pass on the peppermint bark to the bus drivers and do something different for the teachers.

While standing in my local Michael's I picked up small weekly calendar pads that had the days of the week down one side and a shopping list down the other side.  Along with the calendar pads, they had matching recipe cards, note pads, and blank cards.

The cogs of creativity got to turning in the store and I brought home calander pads and recipe cards.   Then it was matter of getting out my Zutter Bind-It-All and with a few small helping hands to punch holes, another to do some artwork, and to-da!

These meal planners came together quite nicely, my son is exspecially proud of the books he made for his teacher as he punched, stamped, and picked out paper to help put them together. 

If you'd like to find out more about how I put this together you can check out the following article:

How to Create a Meal Planner Book

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Mood Journal gets a New Cover

Since the release of the 2010 Daily Mood Organizer, I got to thinking that perhaps the MOOD JOURNAL could use a small make over.  The old book cover seemed a little drab - it was totally black with white letters. So a a few weeks ago I went to work on creating a new cover for this journal, and this is what I came up with. 

The wheat blowing in the wind reminded me how sometimes our moods can shift the same way, north, south, east, west, and the open blue sky seemed inviting above the open field.  But that's just my perspective.
What do you think?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ways to Earn Cash Back While Shopping Online

The holiday season has a tendancy to clear out the last cent in our wallets, however, by shopping online you can not only avoid the crowds of black friday and last minute holiday shoppers, but take adantage of earning cash back, instant rebates, and rewards in addition to the perks of free shipping offered by many online merchants.

Here is a list of a few sites where you can SIGN UP for FREE and start earning cash back, instant rebates, and other types of rewards for shopping online all year round.

1. EBATES  This site list tons of shopping sites that give you instant cash back based on a percentage of the your total purchase price.  Checks are issued every quarter and can be deposited into your Paypal account, Bank account, or a paper check sent through the mail.  To date, I've saved over $100 using this site and have received my money right on time. :)

2. BING CASH BACK Get more BING for you buck through the popular search engine BING.  Create a new or use an exisiting MSN account to sign up for cash back.  It's easy, once you've signed up, search for specific products and you can earn up to $2500 a year in instant cash back savings!!  I've just recently stumbled over this site, but have already received 20% cash back on purchases.

3. MYPOINTS Although this site doesn't allow you to earn cash back, it does let you earn points that can be exchanged for gift cards to your favorite merchants like Target and Star Bucks.  You can earn points by reading emails, visiting merchant sites, taking surveys, and making purchases through participating merchants.  Personally, I save up all my points till around the holidays then cash in my points for gift cards that I then pass on to friends and family during the gift giving season.

4.  EBAY has started their own cash back program.  New and existing users and sign up and become eligible to earn cash back from purchases through this online auction site.  The cash back you earn will be sent in the form of a coupon to be used when making a purchase through eBay.  The usual amount is about 1% - 2% earned, but if you're searching for a bargain anyway, this might be the deal breaker that has you bidding.

While there appears to be many more sites online that offer the same incentives of earning cash back, I have not tried them all (there are too many) but would recommend these ones from past experience.

Check out my latest ehow article How To Earn Cash Back Shopping Online (Instant Rebates & Rewards).

My your days be filled with online savings and the blessing of giving to others this holiday season.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Salt Dough Ornaments

Today, I marked one major task off my holiday to-do list inside my holiday planner.

I'm happy to say it's beginning to feel like Christmas around our home.

The kids were excited and put oodles and oodles of handmade and commercial ornaments on our tree. Each one special in some sort of way, each child happy to find a place to hang something, and our tree actually starting to lean from the weight of their efforts.

For a moment we all stood and held our breath to see whether the tree topper, an angel, would stay atop without falling over on the tilted side of the tree.

All those salt dough ornaments we made pull a lot of weight when they're all placed on one side of tree.

One of the things I love most about salt dough ornaments, is that they are kid friendly for several reasons.

Salt dough ornaments are easy to make, you can paint and decorate them any way you want, and if they break - there's no sharp glass for young children or pets to get hurt.

Here's the recipe we use each year to bake up our holiday salt dough ornaments:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

1. Mix salt and flour.
2. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water.
3. Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.

Create Ornaments:
Simple holiday cookie cutters will do, or sculpt with your hands. If the dough gets too sticky use flour. Kids love making ornaments from salt dough, it's just like making stuff out of play dough or clay.

After your ornament creations are finished, lay them on a baking sheet. Take a straw and poke holes at the top before baking.

Turn your oven on you lowest setting or about 200 degrees. You'll want to let them bake for around 2 hours, depending on the thickness.

(Just don't let any new comers in the house bite into a sample thinking they're sugar cookies, they might think your a bad cook. lol..)

Once they cool, you can let your child paint them, glitter them, or decorate them further.

Cut ribbon and tie through the hole to hang. Or you can go to your local fabric shop and get remnant fabric, snip 1/2" down the fabric and tear in strips to use instead of ribbon.

I'm sure no matter how they turned out, they'll be beautiful on your tree this year, and the smiles on your children's faces will be well worth the effort to make your own salt down ornaments this year.


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