Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Year is here, so let's get organized!!!

If you read my earlier posts you know that I am really trying to "clean up" my act when it comes to home clutter.  I am still in the process of a SERIOUS home weeding and have taken over 7 LARGE black trash bags  to the thrift store this week.  With home school and 4 kiddos (ages 1-7) plus babysitting I need to have my ducks in a row to stay on top of homeschool, meals and housekeeping.

I want to go into the new year with a good schedule, a cleaned out house, a plan for healthy eating and my finances in order.  So to keep me motivated and on track I plan to blog on each of these subjects (scheduling, housekeeping plan, healthy eating planning and financial planning )each week this month.  I will slot in the healthy recipes, crafty stuff, and homeschool  helps of course too ,but I want to make sure I get a good chunk of freebies, helps, tips and ideas posted in each of these categories so we can get the new year off to a good start together!

As I was thinking about a good plan to get my housekeeping on track I was reading a blog called On The Old Path and ran across this AMAZING FREE (love those words together!!!) Clean Heart, Clean Home Challenge !  It is a printable organizer for a 52 day challenge that helps get our hearts and homes in order.  I just printed all 85 pages out and it looks awesome.  It includes 8 weekly devotionals as well as calendars, chore charts and meal planning sheets.  So if you are wanting to get organized this year but your good intentions seem to stay simply good intentions head over and print off your Clean Heart, Clean Home Challenge Planner and let's get started!  I plan on starting next week so that gives you a few days to print it all out, get familiar with it and get your supplies in order.  Why not grab a friend to do it with you?  The accountability and camaraderie can only be helpful.   Let me know if you are on board.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


First of all I have to say this has been the longest I have ever gone with out blogging and I am sorry.  Christmas with 4 kids is a crazy time!  I had so many ideas I wanted to share...  Carmel corn that tastes AMAZING  with out corn syrup and chemical margarine, the felt Christmas tree shaped advent calendar I had such a fun time making, the year of dates I gave my husband and the fun envelope book I made to give it in.... I could go on and on, however the point is that although I was crafting and thinking of you all I just couldn't find the time to craft, blog, and spend time with the fam.  Seeing as they are so cute they won out!

I just spent the last few days ransacking my house for things we did not need, use or LOVE.  After two days I had piled my entry (TINY entry/ sewing space/crafting area/office/homeschool area) full of 6 GIANT black trash bags of unneeded toys,clothes, kitchen stuff, shoes, etc...  With all the new Christmas presents for the kids from so many generous family members the old stuff had to go!  We have a small 1200 Square ft house with 6 people in it so we cannot afford to keep junk we do not need or love!  I am still not done.  In fact I am taking a break to write this.  I had planned to post a photo of my overflowing entry area but I jumped at the chance to have it all leave the house with my husband who was on his way to work, and in our rush I forgot to get a photo. I must say I am so glad to get it all out!

I am really trying to change my thinking when it comes to stuff.  I want to keep only things we need and love and feel the freedom to pass on what we do not need.  Clutter is so much harder to live with.  There are more things to put away, no place to put things and more things to maintain. NO MORE!! I think there is a mentality that says I may need this later, or I don't want to be wasteful but that doesn't leave room for generosity and simpler living.  So as I weed my house out BEFORE the new year I hope to encourage you to do the same.  Share what someone else could benefit from and you get the benefit of an easier lifestyle.  Less to clean up, take care of, and worry about!  Happy sorting!  Love to hear your thoughts on how you keep it simple and steer clear of clutter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

CUTE printable Christmas tags in many different styles!

Right now it feels like I have money coming out my pores right now! There are a million things to buy for Christmas, presents, groceries, stockings, tape, scissors, and the list goes on so why not make what you can.  Here are some GREAT printable gift tags in all kinds of styles.  Hope this takes one more thing OFF your list!

Gift Tags

 More great tags from Miss Cutie Pie (all of the following 3)

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scrapbooking tag templates

Need something more refines?  How about these by Blush Printables

There are tons more on the internet but I will let you start with these before I overwhelm you.  Enjoy!  I have  more homemade inexpensive AWESOME gift ideas coming soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas , thank you and other hand crafted card tutorial

Card making is fun year round, but right now during the Christmas season that card making fever reaches a whole new level!  There are Christmas cards to make, gift tags to make, Thank you cards and even sets of cards to be given as gifts! 

I have created a host of cards over the years but thought I would scan a few I had lying around into the computer to keep for ideas for later and to share with you all.  All of my cards are made with the most basic of supplies and skills. Feel free to copy the ideas for your own cards, (if you blog about one you copied from here just be sure to add a link back here with the appropriate credit, and please do not steal the image with out linking back here for the tutorial:).  I will walk you through them one at a time starting with the top left corner working left to right.

Full tutorial following photo

First of all let me say that I sometimes use the dollar card sets from Michael's that include envelopes and 8-12 cards.  I simply cover the cheap or boring looking front with patterned paper as a back ground and create from there.  It makes a very cheap and perfect base for your card making.  I also find my paper trimmer to be indispensable in making straight lines.  It really makes the difference between that "too homemade" look and the "hand crafted" look.  They are very inexpensive and can be found at any Walmart or craft store.
Card # 1- Moose punch out on green
The first card calls for a base card and envelope, green patterned paper, two colors of brown card stock and  a moose punch.  I simply cut a piece of the green patterned paper to fit the card front and then tore a the bottom edge to add texture.  After adhering that to my card I cut the brown pieces to include a strip across the front, a lighter colored larger square, and a slightly smaller inside square from the darker brown.  The smallest square I punched with the moose punch.  I then layered them on the card gluing one piece on at a time.  I even used a plain old kids glue stick to put it together.  For a Christmasy touch you can use a silver or gold pen to write "Merry" on the left side of the moose medalion and "Christmoose"

Card # 2- Simple Merry Christmas card
This is the probably the easiest card on here but it makes a cheerful addition to any Christmas card collection..  You need a base card and envelope, patterned Christmas paper scrap, two coordinating colored scraps and one Christmas greeting stamp and ink or rub on.  I first stamped my lightest of the two colored paper scrap and then trimmed it with my paper trimmer.  I then trimmed the darker colored paper scrap to slightly larger than the stamped piece to create a frame. I glued those two together using my handy dandy glue stick.  Next I cut the patterned Christmas paper to a larger size that left a nice border of white on the card.  I attached the patterned paper to the card and then added the framed stamped paper on top of that.  It is that simple and easy!  Your kids could help you whip out several dozen of these bad boys for your Christmas card list in no time!

Card # 3- Merry Christmoose!
This one is by far my favorite!  All you need is a white card and matching envelope, small tag, double sided foam square sticker to add dimension, and 4 coordinating papers as well as a small piece of thin matching ribbon.  You will need one of those to be a patterned "Merry Christmas" paper the size of the card minus a nice white border, and 3 small coordinating scraps for the center of the card.  First you take a dark card stock or colored paper and punch three moose out in a straight line. The last moose is just a place keeper so you know where to cut it and have it still fit the tag with the moose correctly.  Cut that piece to fit the center of your card keeping in mind it will have a framing paper behind it. Cut a small cream colored piece of paper to exactly the same dimensions so that the moose that were punched out now display the cream colored paper.  Glue those together and then cut a larger piece of patterned or colored paper to frame the moose piece.  Attach the large piece of "Merry Christmas" patterned paper to the card front.  Now glue on the colored paper that frames the moose piece.  Then attach the moose piece directly in the center of that. Attach the white small tag on top of the third moose at an angle with your double sided dimensional foam sticker.  Now punch out a dark moose using brown card stock or stiffer paper and adhere that to the tag in line with the other two moose punch outs in front of it.   All that is left is to cut a small piece of ribbon and tie it on the tag for added texture and color. Now put a simple hand written "Merry Christmoose" greeting inside and you're done!

Card # 4- Thank you card
This card is actually a take off of the previous card but I used a different punch and set of papers.  It is amazing how different a card can look using the same elements of design if you switch up the theme and tools.  You need a card and envelope as well as one dark patterned paper, a lighter coordinating patterned paper, Cream and plum colored card stock, a small hole punch and a short piece of coordinating ribbon  as well as colored pencils and a thank you stamp like the tag shaped one I used from stamping up and ink, and a small flower punch.  First cut and adhere the darker patterned paper to the card leaving a nice white border from the card front.  Now stamp your image on the cream colored card stock and cut it out in a tag shape by hand or with a tag shaped punch if you have one.  Use your colored pencils to color any details in.  Cut the plum colored card stock to frame it and attach the two pieces together using ..that's right your glue stick again!  Use a hole punch to punch out the hole for ribbon in the top of your framed tag. Find a matching piece of thin ribbon and tie it on. Now cut your lighter patterned paper in a rectangle to fit your card front and cut the plum card stock to frame it.  Adhere these together and use your flower shaped punch to punch out a flower shape in the left hand bottom corner.  Punch two small flowers from the cream and one small flower from the plumb card stock.  Now use your small hole punch to punch out the center of the  cream flowers, and save one of the small cream colored dots that is punched out. Adhere the 3 flower punches in the top left of the center rectangle of lighter patterned paper with the plumb one on top.  Now adhere the small cream dot you saved from the hole punch to the center of the plumb flower on top.  Use your glue stick or a dimensional foam double sided sticker square to the back side of the framed tag.  Not place it on the card at the desired angle and call it good!  These are really handy to have on hand as you are always in need of thank you cards.  You can also make a set with the same or coordinating papers and give as a gift.

Card # 5 - Alaska Moose card
I lived in Alaska when I made this card, and just liked it so much I kept it as an idea piece.  Now that I have scanned it and imprinted it forever into the blogosphere I suppose I can let it go. To create this one you need a white card and envelope, card stock scraps in white, tan, light brown, green and dark brown, a nice big scrolly background stamp and ink, 2 small brass brads, a corner rounder punch, The word "blessing" or other sentiment  rub on, sticker or velum word cut out and a moose punch.  You can change up the sentiment to "Merry Christmoose" typed, printed and cut out or hand written in place of the "blessings" if you want to use it as a Christmas card.  Start by stamping the background of the card front with the large background stamp in black or other colored ink.  Brown ink would be particularly nice here.  Follow that with cutting a thin strip of tan card stock to the length of the card front.  Use your small hole punch in the card stock strip and vellum "blessings" strip to attach the two together with the brads on the left hand side of the strip of tan card stock.  It is a little hard to put into words but if you just look at the card you will know what I mean. Now attach this to the card about 2/3 of the way up. Now punch out two moose one in light brown and one in dark brown.  Cut a square out of the white card stock large enough to hold two moose punches slightly overlapping as shown inside it and use the corner rounder punch to round the edges. Cut a larger square to frame it out of the green card stock  Use the corner rounder punch on the green card stock and attach it to the smaller rounded white square.  Using your glue stick attach the framed rounded square to the right hand side of  the tan strip of card stock  Adhere the moose onto the white square slightly overlapping.  If you want to add another word like I did below the moose be sure to leave a little room at the bottom and just hand print your word.  That's it!

Card # 6- Olive branch card set
I love these simple cards for their beautiful stamped detail and natural color pallet  These would make a great set of note cards to give away.   A nice personal gift for someone who has everything or for that person you have no idea what to get!  They are also easy and inexpensive .  All you need for these cards are some starter cards and envelopes in cream or tan, dark brown card stock. and a nice patterned paper in fall colors, as well as a piece of cream or tan card stock to stamp your image on and a detailed lengthwise stamp like the olive branch pictured from stampin up, along with brown ink. 
Start by stamping your image onto your cream or tan cardstock and trimming it with your paper trimmer to form a rectangle.  Now cut your patterned paper to frame it and attach it with your glue stick.  Place it (don't glue it yet) on your card and check the placement off to the right.  With this in mind, tear a taller than wide piece of brown card stock to offset it nicely for the left hand side of the card. Play around with the placement of the elements and when it feels just right glue it all in place.  It is that easy.  Now repeat or do it in assembly line fashion till your gift set is created.  Viola, you are done!  One beautifully hand crafted gift ready to go.  

Well I hope that tutorial was helpful and inspirational.  Let me know in the comments ( I LOVE COMMENTS!) your thoughts or how you package your hand crafted card sets as I am sure we would all like new inspiration for that as well. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Need to save some cash? Homemade gifts and online secrets for saving!

 Last year for Christmas I was totally set on a homemade Christmas.  I sewed and I crafted and I sewed and I crafted.  I worked till after midnight many nights and missed all the family movie nights while I holed up with my sewing machine and worked away.  I made photo calendars, music cds, aprons, dolls, hot bags (microwave rice bags in the shape of animals), purse hanging strip, hats, purses, mittens, purse organizers, a loft bed and crafty art station for the kids and all manner of crafty stuff!  I involved my husband in the creation of the art station and loft bed having him complete the carpentry aspect.  I just designed and dreamed them up.  So after an exhausting pre Christmas I came up with all these things..
Kids art station
My husband built the table and mounted the shelves.  
I created the rest and used washed out tin cans with clean edges wrapped in scrap book paper to create customizable art supplies holders.  My original plan and one I still plan on doing is to add strong magnets to the back of the cans and mount a strip of metal for them to attach to.  I also used baby food jars to fill with beads, and foam letters as well as lining up other supplies on the shelf.  I made the name plaques over their stations using a simple wooden plaque and adhering scrap book paper cut to size and individual letters to spell their names with spray adhesive.  The kids LOVE IT!  The best part is that this gift will give us years of use and is not just another plastic toy that ends up destroyed or outgrown in a few months.

Reversible Apron
Reversible apron (look at my right hand to see the other side of the apron).  My mom and I made up this pattern but similar patterns are available on etsy if you need a pattern .  I gave this to my sister and wish I had made one for myself!  It came out great.

Simple Cloth Dolls
The "black apple" doll came from a free pattern off Martha Stewart Living.  I made two of these, one for each of my daughters.  They turned out so so cute!  It was a very easy pattern as well.

This photo is from their website as I forgot in the midst of Christmas morning madness to take a photo of the two I made.

Customizable Purse Organizer

This is a great gift idea for anyone you know who has multiple purses and needs a great way to store them.  It is also very easy to do.  Instructions for the customizable purse organizer found here on my blog.
Loft Bed
My son went crazy over his new loft bed and we loved the amount of space it left for playing! We had been given a platform bed so my husband simply added a railing that he stained to match it and chain attachment before screwing it to the wall.  Then he built a ladder for the back side.  The ladder isn't in the photo because it was in the garage drying after it's stain job.

Ok so now you have some original crafty gift ideas, but if you are like me this year and are hoping to save some TIME as well as money I have another idea for you this Christmas.  EBATES! Click here to go straight to the site to start shopping from places already on your list.  You get HUGE cash back rebates from stores like and TONS of others!  I just used it yesterday to purchase a tablet that I have been deal hunting for and saved $40!  Right now for Cyber Monday 2 also known as "Green Monday" most stores are offering DOUBLE cash back rebates and some CRAZY deals!  I got 10% back at Sears (good even on their Cyber Monday 2 deals) and saw that some stores were offering 30% cash back!  If you are headed to walmart anyway for stocking stuffers how about skipping the long lines and buying online at through EBATES and getting 6% cash back and saving on tax at the same time.  That is my plan.

How do you save money and time during the season?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Need some crafty Christmas inspiration?

I Love Christmas!! Love, love, love it! There are so many fun crafty things to do.  It is a creative time of year with plenty of fun for paper crafts,baking, family fun, sewing and so much more.  I have found some fun things for myself and the kids to do, and we have been loving it.  I have 4 kiddos aged 1-7 so getting to play with paint, paper, colors and fabric is a great way to spend the afternoon.  Here are a few of our favorite things we are doing right now.

Make gift tags - We can use them in so many ways.  Aside from gift toppers we use them to make ornaments (put a photo of each child on the back and then laminate the whole thing), practice our coloring and cutting and use them as fronts for greeting cards as well.  You can water color on them as well just print on card stock.
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We also like to stamp out designs with rubber stamps and paint, color, or use markers to create gift tags as well.  The ones below would make great recipe cards to go with food gifts, and they even have matching gift tags.  These cute printable tags came from 4 shared.
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Here is one more set of printable gift tags for those colorful people in your life!  I love these.
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Make a stocking!- Stockings are fun presents and pretty easy to make.  They are also a great project for kids or adults new to sewing. Here is a great pattern from Moda Bake Shop

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I like to use old sweaters or old scarves to create easy stockings that look knit!

Like to embroider?  Check out this cute embroidery pattern by Bad Bird's

It would also make a really cute coloring sheet as well.
Speaking of coloring sheets your kids will love these snowmen that you can color and cut out.
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Want to make them 3-D? Color them cut them out and attach them to the front of a toilet paper roll so that you can stand them up.

Fun snowmen sewing ideas? Right here! I love these snowmen made out of..SOCKS! A fun crafty project  to do with the kids when it is too cold to do them outside or in warmer climates who have no snow to make them with! Full instructions found at Then she made.  
Well, I have to run and spend some time with hubby before I get sucked into sharing every good idea I have seen on pinterest!  I will save some ideas for a later post.  Happy crafting!  Love to know what crafts you are up to this holiday season.  Inspire me!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It is officially the CHRISTMAS SEASON!

Wow, sorry about that! I took an unintentional blogging break since Thanksgiving!  I was having so much fun with my family while everyone was here and together that it has taken me a while to get back to blogging.  It was a full weekend!  During which time my sister lost ALL of her work documents that were on a thumb drive only to find out days after scouring the house and turning it upside down that Cruzer (1 yr old) had fed it to Freddy our Gerbil! How do we know it was Cruz?  I asked him and he proudly assented that why yes he had given it to Freddy.  Fortunately Freddy doesn't like plastic and Pierce found it intact when he stuck his hand in the tank to feed him.  After a quick test we were relieved to find out that the drive was functioning and evidently resistant to gerbil pee!
My family with my sister and her husband as well as my parents. Did I mention it was over 70 degrees on Thanksgiving!
Bring on the traditions!  Black Friday has come and gone and with it Cyber Monday so it is definitely official.. THE SEASON IS ON!
I love how our mantel came out this year just rearranging what we had on hand.
 The day after Thanksgiving is always our official Christmas decorating day. 

 We break out the tree (yes it is a fake artificial one, but it saves a tree every year :) ) and my hubby sets it up and messes with the lights and then me and the kiddos decorate it.  I love it.  It is always a fun day of decorating while listening to Christmas music, and eating what we call "platter" which includes crackers and cheese, chicken sausage, olives, appetizers...(pretty much anything you can put on a community platter and snack off of).  Don't get me wrong we have a small house and there really isn't that much to decorate but we drag it out for the fun of it.  The mantel of our fireplace gets an overhaul, the garland is hung and once the tree is up that about does it.

December 1st for us starts two other traditions for us...
Advent Calendar - Nativity Scene (Special Chocolate Series)The first is that of the chocolate advent calendars!  My mother in law sends chocolate advent calendars to every kid (there are 4 of them!) and even Cruzy at one year old knows what is in there now and is constantly pointing at the calendar for me to get him more.  Sadly for him he has to wait till the next day.  The older kiddos Pierce, Dahlia and Bella have been counting down for days.  Bella ,being two,couldn't take the temptation and help herself to as many as she could get at before I realized what was going on!  Fortunately (for me and not for her) in a small house it doesn't take long for mom to catch you.

The other tradition is one we are just starting and have waiting for since last Christmas.  Every kid loves to open presents of course and is constantly asking "Can't we just have one?", and I love reading Christmas or winter stories to the kids this time of year every night before bed so when I heard about this tradition I knew this was for us.  You get 25 books from your collection, the thrift store,etc and wrap each one separately.  Then every night before Christmas in the month of December you let the kids pick out one wrapped book to open and then read it to them.  Stories and presents what is not to love!
Photo from Christmas Gift Ideas

I have a few other traditions we are wanting to start but haven't done so yet and I hope to be sharing those with you as well later.  I LOVE TRADITIONS!  The season is such a fun time to just enjoy friends and family.  I spent so much time making handmade presents last year that I always felt under the gun and didn't have the free time to just slow down and enjoy the season.  I hope to change that this year and am planning for a simpler yet richer Christmas.I would love to hear your traditions or favorite seasonal family outings. Leave me a comment and share them if you get the chance,
I better go and enjoy a few minutes of quiet with the fire before it burns out for the night.
The fireplace hearth and mantel are my favorite things in this house.  My husband built it and I just LOVE how it turned out.