Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent Calendar with Activities

December 1st is just a little under a week away and that means Advent starts. I figured this would be a good time to get my calendar finished. I have been wanting to come up with something that I can use year after year and I wanted something that would include an activity and a treat so I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. There are plenty of ideas pinned, but nothing seemed to be what I was looking for. One day, during a shopping trip to Micheal's, I found these cute mini-stockings.
I happened to catch them on sale and had a 20% off coupon for my whole order which brought them down to $0.59 a piece. Score for me! I just love getting a good deal! I did also see some similar to these at the Dollar Tree which came in a two pack that I would have bought had I not already bought the ones from Micheal's.
I purchased some red, green, and silver fabric paint and embellished each stocking with a number from 1-24 thus creating my Advent countdown. I wrote out the activities we were going to do on plain white paper and glued each one to red and green construction paper. Then I cut them out creating a border with the red and green paper. Each stocking got an activity and a special treat.

Here's what I came up with for a list of activities for Advent:
  1. Decorate the tree
  2. Address Christmas cards
  3. Write a letter to Santa
  4. Make Christmas cards for soldiers
  5. Leave out wooden shoes for St. Nick
  6. Make cotton ball Santa and watch Santa's Coming to Town
  7. Make paper snowflakes and watch Charlie Brown Christmas
  8. See light show at Wiregrass Mall (any public light display will do)
  9. Make an ornament for the tree
  10. Random act of kindness
  11. Hang mistletoe and kiss under it
  12. Watch the Grinch and make Grinch punch
  13. Watch the Polar Express and make hot coca
  14. Play a game
  15. Visit Santa
  16. Go for a drive to see Christmas lights in our pjs
  17. Make gifts for teachers
  18. Watch Rudolph and make popcorn
  19. Read "The Night Before Christmas"
  20. Read the birth of Jesus- Luke 2
  21. Make fudge for gifts
  22. Go ice skating
  23. Make Christmas cookies
  24. Family Christmas party
  25. Have a Merry Christmas!

I hung each stocking on a piece of twine using some clothes pins I already had. Doesn't it look nice hanging across the mantle? I love it and it was so simple to make. Just one more thing to check off my holiday list of things to do. I hope you are doing the same.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

DIY Cat Toys

With Christmas being at our heels, I have been busy making presents. One of my latest were fleece tie blankets for my sweet twin boys. I had some scraps leftover and decided to make some cat treats instead of pitching them in the garbage. I try to be thrifty when I can since money is always tight around the holidays.
These fish were so simple to make and our kitty now has four new toys to play with...well I should say hide. I am always finding her toys behind the couch or under our bed.
All you need is some scraps of fleece fabric and a plastic grocery bag to use as stuffing. I used  5" X 5" squares of fleece. Right sides facing each other, trace a fish and cut it out. Sew together, leaving a big enough hole to stuff,n inside out so the right sides are facing outwards now. Stuff with small piece of your grocery bag and sew hole closed. See....I told you, EASY! They take about 5-10 minutes each to make.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beef Tips with Baby Portabello Mushrooms

I wasn't sure if I should post this recipe here or in Tastefully Tuesdays. Since my sister blog is used for rating my Pinterest finds, I decided to post it here. This is entirely my own recipe created by yours truly....ME! And as always....super easy! You know I love easy. Did I mention delicious, too?
1 lb beef tips
6 oz package baby portabellos- sliced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope french onion soup mix
2&1/2 cups of water
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
In a large skillet, brown beef tips. Approximately 5-10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until meat and mushrooms are tender. Approximately 15-20 minutes.
Serve over egg noodles and Voila! Delicious meal with hardly any effort.

I must be getting better at tinkering in the kitchen because I didn't hear one complaint from anyone about this meal and there were no leftovers! I love when I have created something that my family likes. If you try this recipe, please let me know how you liked it. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DIY Christmas Ornament

I wanted to make something special for gifts this year. What's better than a personalized ornament to show off on their Christmas tree? They were so simple to create and I love that a little piece of my family will be included on someone else's tree.

What you will need:

  1. Plastic ornament that can be filled. I found mine at Joanne's, but I saw them at Walmart for $0.97.
  2. Sheer ribbon in color of your choice. I picked up a deep red from Dollar Tree.
  3. Elmer's glue
  4. Clear glitter to use as the snow inside
  5. Glitter to match the color of your ribbon. I chose red to match.
  6. Family photo

First I had to resize my photo so it would fit inside the ornament. This was the hardest part. There was a lot of trial and error. I finally chose 1.75" X 2" then just rounded the corners so it fit better.

I added a bit of the clear glitter to give it the snow effect inside and put the top back on. I did find some confetti, red stars in the birthday decoration section at Walmart that I'm going to add to give it a little more pop of color. I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

With the Elmer's Glue, I drew 2012 on the back and sprinkled the red glitter over it. Now they will always know what year they received it.

Lastly, I tied a little piece of ribbon around the top. Viola! My finished product. Since I had everything already and only had to purchase the ribbon and the ornament, it only cost about $2.00 to make.

Please feel free to share your creations here. Happy crafting!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

15 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Man in Your Life

If you're like me, then you struggle with what to get your husband/boyfriend every year for Christmas. Finding the perfect gift can be quite a task. With all the gizmos and gadgets to chose from it's hard to know where to begin. You want something that shows you put some thought into his gift, but you also don't want something that is going to just be collecting dust in the back of the closet. Something that isn't going to break the bank either. New socks, undies and a comfy pair of pjs are a family tradition that each family member gets every year in my home. I find myself stressing over something unique for my husband year after year. This year is like no other....with a little over 6 weeks left to shop, I still have no idea what that special item will be. This is usually where I enlist the help of my children. They get him to talk about things he would like then report back to me. Not this year....I am doing it all by myself. Below is the list I compiled to help all those wives with difficult husband's to shop for just like mine get started:

1. Sporting Event or Concert Tickets: Surprise your beau with two tickets to his favorite team's next home game. Or go for the whole package and plan a weekend away at their next away game. For the man more into the arts, concert tickets may be the way to go.

2. Sunglasses: Sunglasses always have a way of getting lost or sat on and by the end of the year a new pair is needed. A good pair of Oakley sunglasses like these would be just what he needs.
3. Sporting Equipment: If your husband likes to play sports, a new piece of equipment to keep him on top of his game. A new putter, fishing gear or a baseball mitt..... oh the possibilities are endless.
4. An Engraved Flask: For the classy way to have a drink, a personalized flask would be a great idea! Add his favorite bottle of liquor and he'll be ready to ring in the New Year.

5. Athletic Wear: Purchase a new tee and matching pair of athletic pants for the workout junkie in your life. Or make him apart of his favorite team and create a jersey with his team's colors and iron his name on the back.
6. Photo Book: Nothing says "I love you" like a book full of memories you both have shared together. There are plenty of places to upload pictures to and create a wonderful book from. One of my favorite sites is Shutterfly for all my photo creations.

7. Tool Set: A matching tool set with tool bag included for the "Mr. Fixit." Then he will always know where his tools are. Lowes has a great set at a reasonable price.


8. Electronics: What man doesn't love a new television or maybe the latest blu-ray player? With how quickly there are advances in technology, I can bet the camcorder you bought two years ago is antiquated and doesn't have the latest features.

9. Tervis Tumbler: Tervis tumblers have become quite popular over the past year. The great thing about them is they are made in the USA and have a lifetime guarantee. even offers personalized tumblers where you can add your favorite pic of the two of you.
10. Emergency Tool: Better to be prepared than to be caught off guard in case of an emergency....Amazon has this great little tool to carry in your vehicle for just those instances. It is a self-powered radio, seat belt cutter and hammer all in one.

11. Basket of Goodies: My grandmother always said, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." This is a great idea for couples who have moved away from where they grew up. Since my husband and I are originally from Buffalo, NY, I found Made in Buffalo. Everything in each basket can only be found in Buffalo. This gives him a little taste of home. Any basket of your guy's favorite goodies would do, also.
12. DVD Boxed Set: Missed season one of The Walking Dead? Why not pick it up for under the tree? There's nothing better than cuddling up together while it's cold outside and watching a bunch of zombies running around. Not one for zombies? There are plenty of series out on DVD you can chose from. 
13. Spa Day: Want something for the romantic side of your love? Maybe reserve a day at a local spa where the two of you can go unwind together and reconnect. Keep an eye on Groupon for deals and steals.
14. Gift Certificate: Still not sure what to get....a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant, home improvement, or electronics store is a safe choice. Most can be found in any grocery store in the checkout lanes now.
15. Leather Goods: Wallets, jackets, brief cases....oh my! Genuine leather holds up to even the most brutal of men and well worth the money. I'm a big supporter of American made and Will Leather Goods have some beautiful items made on our own soil.
Well there it list of gift ideas for the man in your life. I hope I have inspired you in some way. Please feel free to leave me a comment on my ideas or add some more of your own. Happy shopping!