Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Decorating: A Centerpiece

This is the centerpiece I made for the holidays.  I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I got the orange/peppermint idea from Real Simple a couple of years ago and just love it.  I think it is a great combination for Christmas but one I never would have thought of.  I already had the jar and ribbon and I purchased the evergreen for $2.  It was so easy to put together (I did it during one of baby's short naps).  I have also done the orange peppermint thing in little clear baggies tied with ribbon for gifts.  The possibilities are endless! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brown Paper Packages

I have been busy this week trying to cross things off my list as I mentioned last post.  Many of the things I won't share with you because they are Christmas presents, so I will probably share them after Christmas.

Here is one thing I have done that isn't a Christmas gift spoiler.  It has to do with Christmas presents, but people will see it before Christmas anyway, so it really doesn't matter that much.  I like to come up with a theme for my gift wrapping at Christmas.  Nothing too fancy or expensive, just something a bit more special than simply wrapping paper.  Here is what I came up with this year.

I love plain brown wrapping paper and did this bow to freshen it up a bit.  I got the idea for the flower from here, but changed it a little.

I thought the green rick-rack was a nice change to regular ribbon.  And I think the color scheme is festive without screaming Christmas.

I made the flowers by cutting three circles of descending size.  Then I sprayed them to make them damp.  Crumpled them up in to a little ball.  Un-crumpled them, arranged them, and secured them with a brad.  Let them dry completely.  Very easy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crunch Time

I just looked at my calendar and counted that there are only 40 days until Christmas!  That still seems like a ways out there, but I know it is going to fly, especially once Thanksgiving passes by.  I have accomplished a lot so far, but still have many things I need to do and finish before the joyful day.

I have made a list of all the things I need to do before Christmas and have put my game face on.  Here it is.

I even have a plan to do a couple projects while out of town for Thanksgiving.  I figure I should take advantage of the opportunity of so many willing babysitters!  We'll see how everything goes.  So far my list is just of things I absolutely need to do, while I still have ideas in my head of things that would be nice as well.  I'm hoping for the best, without excessive, unwanted stress.

I know I'm not the only one in this position, so good luck to you all as well!

Friday, November 12, 2010


There are a million varieties of beverages out there these days that have loads of sugar and fat, yet are so delicious.  It is very easy to drink hundreds (maybe even thousands) of calories without even realizing it.  Even easier than eating tons of calories, in my opinion. 

I'm not telling you that you have to stay away from these types of drinks, but just remember to use the same sense as with food.  Here are some tips.
  • Reserve these beverages for special occasions and at that time, watch your portions.
  • Go with water as often as possible when eating out.  It's typically free and also calorie-free.
  • Don't drink soda on a daily basis.  Start cutting down little by little if you are a soda-addict, even if you are a diet-soda addict.  Maybe they don't have calories, but it is debatable on what they do to your total daily caloric intake.  Plus, it is still bad for your teeth.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  An easy way to determine how much you need is to take your weight in lbs and divide by two. Drink at least that amount of fluid ounces.  (140 lb/2 = 70 fl oz. = about 9 cups)
  • Drink low-fat or skim milk.  Although you don't need more than 3 cups each day.
  • Limit intake of juice, but when you do have it, drink 100% juice without added sugar.  You can try diluting juice with water as well.  The increase in volume will decrease the proportion of calories and sugar.
  • Make smoothies yourself.  Use only fruits, veggies, water, and maybe a little yogurt if you want.  Don't add extra sugar.  Bananas are a great way to make them creamy without adding any dairy.
  • Drink some gatorade if you are sick of water.  It will give you an extra boost of flavor without a ton of sugar and calories.
I hope these tips help you out.  Believe me, I've been struggling with this one as a nursing mother.  I am thirsty all the time and it is hard to drink only water all the time!  I try to use my own tips and feel they really are doable.  You can do it!

*Thanks to my husband who questioned me on this topic and inspired this post.*

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I should be doing right now...

As part of my 500 Days of Refinement, some of my goals I want to accomplish have to do with reading.  I really do like to read, but as a full time student the past six years, "reading for pleasure" didn't really happen.  I am now starting to get back into the habit. 

What I did for my project is ask my husband, parents, and siblings the following question:

"If you had to pick only one book for me to read, what would it be?"

I thought it would be a fun way to have a reading queue all set up for me and to include books I maybe wouldn't have picked up otherwise.  Here are the responses I got.

Husband:  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Dad: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Mom: Siddartha by Herman Hesse
Brother #1:  The Fifties by David Halberstam
Sister: The Mother in Me by various mothers
Brother #2:  Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Brother #3:  A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

I have started The Count of Monte Cristo, but am only about four chapters into it.  At this rate, I probably won't even finish it in the next 500 days.  It's not that I don't like it, it is just intimidating because it is a very long book (I was specifically told I am not allowed to read the abridged version). 

On that note, I think I will hop in the tub and read a little before bed.  Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fall Things

I love Fall, it is probably my favorite season.  It is a toss up though.  Spring and Summer are great as well.  And since Winter contains Christmas, it is also great.

Anyhow, I do love Fall.  One of my favorite parts about Fall is running.  I ran cross-country in Jr. High and High School and the season for the sport is during Fall.  I have so many fond memories from that time in my life.  Friendship and conversation while canal running, crazy moments on the trips, fun and painful practices, the anxiety associated with meets...  I could go into a lot more detail, but I won't.  But it really was the highlight of my high school years.  And whenever the leaves start to fall and they crunch under my feet as I run, my mind takes me back to those moments.

This past weekend, or maybe the one before, was likely the state meet in Idaho where I grew up.  That means it was seven years ago when my team swept it.  Both our varsity girls and boys teams won.  It was an amazing thing to be part of and the best way to end my senior year of running.

I didn't really mean to go on a tangent about that, but there you go.  What I really wanted to do was show you pictures of these beautiful bushes that are all over our apartment complex.  I love them.  I need to figure out what they are so I can have them one day.

Aren't they gorgeous?  These photos have not been altered in any way.  They accurately portray the true colors.  I love how all the amazing autumn colors are incorporated into a single plant.  And the berries add a great touch.  If you know what kind of bush this is, let me know.  I need to put in on my list of "things I want in my future house."  I don't have an actual list, but if I did, these would for sure go on it.  

Monday, November 8, 2010


One night (a long while back) we had a float night.  We went to the store and picked sodies to go with ice cream for new creative floats.  Here are the combinations we tried.

Jones Soda's Strawberry Lime with Vanilla Ice Cream

This one was good, but not as good as I was hoping.  It was quite pretty though.  Maybe it would be better with a lime or lemon sorbet, just to bring out those flavors more.

  Cream Soda with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This was probably our most adventurous combination and it was actually better than we expected it to be.  Honestly, it was really good.  Try it for yourself.

Key Lime Soda with Vanilla Ice Cream

This combination was also a success.  If you like key lime pie with ice cream, you will love this float.

Lemon-Lime Soda with Raspberry Sorbet

This was probably my favorite float out of the bunch.  I love most anything with raspberry and lemon together.  It tasted brilliant.  Although, I realize we can't really take credit for this match-up because it tasted pretty similar to those drinks often served at bridal and baby showers.  Oh well, it was still great as a float and I would recommend it for something different.

We'll keep thinking of more fun float ideas and share the great ones with you!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

#8. Make Christmas Stockings

I haven't actually completed this item, but wanted to share with you that I have started it.  Now that I have a child, it is critical (in my mind) that I make homemade stockings for our whole family.  I'm not sure why I feel so strongly about it, but I do.  I want her stocking to be something special that she will have her entire childhood.  Therefore, I have to get it done.  I don't want to confess to her later in life that she didn't have her special stocking until her 2nd Christmas.  I just can't live with that guilt.

I am struggling, though.  I just can't decide what I want to do for her.  If you have any amazing suggestions, let me know. 

In the meantime, I'm working on Landon's.  He picked out the above fabrics.  And this is what we are going to do. 

Pretty, huh?  He wants the front of the stocking to be a patchwork.  He did most of the cutting, I just helped a little, and he came up with the design he wanted.  Now it is up to me to do the sewing.  I think he did a great job with the picking and arranging.  I am tempted to make a similar Christmas table-runner with the extra fabric since it is so pretty, but I can't get distracted with other projects until I finish my baby girl's stocking.    

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"I'm only pretending to go as a cowgirl!"

I did a big post about our Halloween costumes on our family blog.  I was going to do a smaller version of it on this one, but decided to just refer you to it in case you came here first!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Coping with Post-Halloween Stress

Starting today, Halloween candy typically goes on mega sale.  The cheap price may tempt you to buy it.  Just don't do it.  Turn your head and walk away.  You likely have plenty in your house anyway, and as the holidays draw near, treats will be plentiful.  Believe it or not, you will spend less by not buying into the great deals!

Here's another tip I have to use all the time.  If you are going to eat candy or chocolate, you might as well eat the ones you really enjoy.  Sometimes I find myself eating candy that I don't even like that much.  Save the really great stuff and chuck the rest.  You'll be glad you did, trust me.