Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorites of 2011

So, here we are at the end of the year... crazy, huh? I can't believe we'll be ringing in the New Year tonight! I thought we should share a few of our favorite posts from this year but first I want to tell you about my new favorite Christmas tradition...

I was a little late to the game this year on the whole Advent Calendar thing, but when I saw this post from Lindsay at Southern Lovely, I knew I had to make one for my kids.

The temps were freezing outside, so I decided to go ahead and paint this frame in my kitchen :) I used one of the cans of Krylon's Glitter Blast that I won a few months ago {see my winning project entry here}.

I managed to get one coat of paint on before my kids woke up from their naps, and with the fumes in our kitchen, I decided I had to work with what I had :) {I opened the windows and took a trip to Target to let the house air out!} To add some bling to the inside of the frame (and cover up the white primer), I hot glued some ribbon in the same citrus green color to the edges. Then, I added a glitter bow I already had and I was done! It is a lot of glitter, but I think it was a fun pop of color & shine in our dining room this Christmas season. I made the numbered tags to match our red, citrus green, and turquoise decor this year. Then I printed off our activities on white cardstock, attached them to the back of the pre-cut white cards (found at Michaels on clearance) and pinned them to the twine with mini clothespins.

OK, those are the logistics of the project.

But here is the best part, the unexpected results of another "crazy craft project" of mom's..... We actually USED it! Every day my kids were SOOO excited to turn over the new card and find out what we would be doing together that day. We created tons of fun memories this Christmas season because of this Advent board. I mean, I always have intentions of doing these things with my family at Christmas time, but many times we've run out of time, trying to cram in all the traditions into the last week! By spreading them out over the entire month, we had time for the important things... service projects, making cookies, caroling, visit to Santa, and then we had plenty of room to add in some silly things :) Making a fort and eating dinner inside was one of the kids' favorites! Here are all the activities we had on our calendar this year:

One of the things I enjoyed the most was a few days before Christmas, we took our electronic coin jar that we had been adding spare change to all year, and GAVE IT AWAY! Each kid got a small bag of coins to take to the store. Then we took the rest of the change to the Coin Star money changer and got cash (I think it ended up being around $25). Watching all the coins being sorted in the machine was pure entertainment for the boys :) After we got our cash, each kid had fun putting their own pennies, dimes and nickels in the Salvation Army bell ringer's collections outside the store. They were so excited to have their own coins to donate!

Then we headed over to our local shelter and asked what they needed for the children for Christmas. Much to our kids' delight, they needed "cars and trucks!" We had fun letting the boys each choose a few cars and trucks at the store, then we paid for the items with our $25, and delivered them to the shelter.

The whole activity only took about an hour, but it was one of my favorite memories from this season. Our boys were able to see some of the children who lived at the shelter, and I think they felt really good that they were able to spend money they had been saving throughout the year to buy gifts for some of those little boys.

There were so many other moments and memories created this past month from the activities we did together as a family... I can't tell you how glad I am we started this tradition. And I can't wait to do it again next year!

I hope you all enjoyed the holidays with your loved ones, and thank you for reading and following along our new blogging adventure in 2011 :) Here are some of our favorite posts/projects from this year:

We're just getting started, and can't wait to share more projects and ideas with you in 2012! Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

You might have noticed... we've taken the past two weeks off to spend time with our families and take part in all the Christmas festivities :) I have enjoyed this Christmas more than I can remember in a long time, mostly because I decided to DO less and spend more time with my kids and hubby. So, thanks for understanding the silence on the blog for the past little while :)

We'll be back next week with our favorite new tradition from this year, and a few easy projects & tutorials. Hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones. Good night!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Handmade Gift: {Christmas Yarn Wreath}

I signed up for a Handmade Gift exchange this year over at Craftaholics and I thought I'd post a few pics of the gift I made for my partner, Emily. She wanted something to add to her Christmas decor, and she mentioned she didn't really have anything cute for her front door or mantel, so I made her a simple yarn wreath.

 Here are a few close up shots of the flowers on my Christmas wreath.

I made one from cream-colored burlap, one with a cream chiffon rose trim (you can get it at Joanns or Hobby Lobby), and one with some leftover red satin ribbon. The red felt flower was the easiest and most fun to make! Here is the tutorial I used, over at A Pumpkin and a Princess. The holly berries and leaves are also made with felt. Then I just added a few small branches of glitter berries, and voila!

If you haven't tried one of these yet, you really should! They are all over blogland, and there are a ton of tutorials to show you how :) I tried my very first yarn wreath earlier this year in another gift swap with my friend Natalie, at Natalie's Sentiments. For this one, I used a small styrofoam heart wreath form, wrapped it with gray yarn, and added some yellow and cream felt flowers. Easy peezy!

Here is the wreath hanging in Natalie's bedroom

My favorite part of homemade gift swaps is getting a package in the mail with your name on it {that is not your baby's diapers from Amazon, or the vacuum cleaner you had to send in to get fixed.} Although, I have to admit, I was pretty excited to get my Shark Vac and Steam back a few days ago!

I love knowing that someone made something just for me that I get to enjoy :)

I hope you are having fun making presents for your friends and loved ones this Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teacher Gift *UPDATE* + {North Pole Postmark}

Okay, first things first. Hi! I'm the sister that rarely helps out on this fun little blogging adventure! :)

Just wanted to let you know that we updated the Teacher Gift Tag post to include a few tags {drinks} that were requested! There is also a vertical 4x6 that would fit perfectly on a 2-liter of pop.
Check out the tags & post here: Teacher Gift Idea - Chocolate + Caffeine

And I just couldn't resist adding this. This is SO. Darn. FUN.

But you have to hurry!

If your kids haven't sent letters to Santa yet, hurry and get them in the mail today. You can get a real "North Pole" postmark via the USPS for your kids' letters back from Santa! How awesome is that? Yes. Thank you, Pinterest!

Go HERE to read all about it. It's really easy. You send the card (or cards) with correct postage on it, in a larger envelope to the address in Alaska, they postmark it, and mail it back. Fun! I know Holly's kids will get a kick out of that. (Get on it, my Sis!)

The USPS site says they must reach Alaska by Dec. 10 to guarantee Christmas delivery... I think we're going to take our chances!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Snow Globes: Anthropologie Knock-off {from Aimee @ It's Overflowing!}

I am so excited to have a Christmas guest post today, by Aimee at It's Overflowing. I discovered her blog about a month ago with this fabulous cart makeover.... and if you haven't seen her kitchen transformation, you have to check it out! To. Die. For. Seriously, she is amazing and she is all about creating beauty on a budget. I can't wait for you to see what she is sharing today...

Hi My Sister's Suitcase Friends!

I'm Aimee from It's Overflowing: endless DIY projects and loving every moment!  I am SUPER EXCITED to be guest posting today!!!  Nat and Holly were super sweet to invite me to share my favorite Christmas Decoration this season! I absolutely LOVE that these sweet sisters share their crafty talents and beautiful photography with us, it's totally an honor to be posting here!

I was looking around at my FAVORITE store and my heart skipped a beat!

I tend to prefer simple crafts that make a big impact so this was totally meant for me!!!  I grabbed some Mason Jars (they are 50% off at Hobby Lobby this week, just saying).  A couple white napkins from my kitchen and my glue gun. (Powder Artificial Snow, Epson salt or polyfill would work great, too).

With the "snow" set, I hot glued a couple dollhouse Christmas trees (they're sold in both the dollhouse area and the Christmas area, but since Christmas is marked down right now, go for the ones in the Christmas section).

I didn't want all three to be completely the same, so I took a garland that I had laying around and cut off one portion, cut a slit in one of the napkins and glued that faux tree into the napkin and held for 10 seconds until it was secure.  I had a couple of bitty pine cones laying around so I placed that in one of the globes also.

Truly, it's more about the effect than the details.  And it's totally Anthropologie so you can't go wrong!!!

Different tree sizes and styles.  I really wanted a porcelain tree, too.  Still looking for that!!!

I took the trees out in their lids and gave them a spray of artificial snow.  It's a little messy so I threw on my jacket and sprayed them outside.

With the snow still wet, I sprinkled a bit of sugar (you can use artificial snow, just whatever you have on hand).  I love a little shimmer, shine and sparkle!  When you put the lid back on just leave the lid with trees on the kitchen counter and cover with the jar.  Then screw the jar into place by pressing firmly down on the jar while it is on a hard surface.

For now these are in front of the Christmas tree, but I'm thinking mantle before long.  We have the Christmas music going and are munching on my Simple and Tasty {Two Ingredient} Peppermint Bark as we deck the halls!

The look and price make me SMILE!

 Two-ish Dollars a piece beats Twenty-Five-ish Dollars a piece, right!!! 

UPDATE:  My friend Kristen left me the follow scoop on a great deal!  "Just wanted you to know I made these today!!! Love :) I got two trees for $1 at the Dollar Tree." Now I just need to go back and get more...check out Titus 2 Work in Progress for her finished project!!!

Thanks again Nat and Holly for inviting me to guest post at My Sister's Suitcase!!!  I'm very excited to follow along and continue to be inspired!!!  If you'd like to visit me at It's Overflowing where I update daily on our endless diy projects, favorite recipes and daily life, I'd love to have you!   Here are a couple of my favorite tutorials: our kitchen remodel, my Curbside Table turns Dazzling Kitchen Cart, and currently I'm sharing a month of Christmas Ideas!!!

Thanks Aimee! I can't wait to see what you have in store for the rest of the month :) Make sure to check out It's Overflowing for more great DIY ideas. Happy Monday!