Monday, 16 December 2013

DIY Kid's Art Display

Noah still has a blank space on his wall that was driving me nuts. He also has a large pile of crafts he brings home from preschool and coloring pages we do at home. I allow myself to recycle some things, I have to. Our fridge is becoming a display board for his work, and we're running out of room (not to mention how chaotic it's looking) So I came up with a solution for his room to display his art proudly.

I found a perfect sized board in the basement

I painted on some chalkboard paint. Please note I've had this jar of paint for 3 years now. I've used it several times and it's still in great condition.

I used a hot glue gun to glue on some clothespins.

Ta da !!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Very Grinchy Christmas

If you're a fan of the Grinch (seriously who isn't) then you'll love this post! So many of the Christmas decorations I see lately are very "Grinchy". Greens, pinks, reds and lots of sparkle.

Friends of mine built and created a "Whoville Road Sign".

They cut wood into arrow shapes, painted them and traced on the words. They printed out the words on paper, laid the paper over the boards and traced the words on and indented them into the wood. Then they painted the words on over the indentations.

They laid a red tree skirt over the bottom of the stand.

 Ta da !!

They inspired me to look into some other Grinch themed decor. Lime greens, sparkle and crooked trees. Here is some inspiration!

Monday, 9 December 2013

Guest Post - Estoy aquí!

Amy Hawke writes from her cozy London flat, sharing her life experiences on my blog for the second time. You can catch up to her by reading her previous entry here

Estoy aquí!
If home is where the heart is then my heart lives in two places, neither of which I presently call home. Rather, I physically sit and write this from a lovely flat nestled on the edge of London Fields.

London Fields is a gem of a place in the heart of London’s East End. I moved here in August with two amazing ladies and we spent summer evenings BBQ’ing on our terrace, watching the sun set over the West End of London. The weekends have been dedicated to exploring our new hood; eating delicious food from Broadway Market, shopping for the weeks ‘fruit and veg’ from our local farmers market, testing watering holes and restaurants, rummaging through vintage shops and taking in all the amazing street art. I’ve spent my morning running along Regents canal and through beautiful Victoria Park, with chilly nights spent snuggled into the living room. Its home, for right now.

I have been away from heart home #1 – Five Trees Lane – for two years, always making it home for the holidays. If I’m being honest, October, November and December are the hardest months of the year to get through if your heart is living in two places and you are living in another. October marks the official start to the Hawke/Mercer/Westaway family birthday season – 6 in 3 months (not to mention the friends birthdays!). There is Thanksgiving to get through (Jenny Hawke makes a mean roast potato), Remembrance Day, the first snow fall and the motherload – Christmas.

This year I spent Thanksgiving with a great group of friends. We cooked a great meal at ‘home’ and I even took a stab at Jenny’s famous roast potatoes – passing on the joy of the roasted spud to our guests. I have also decided to take a leap of faith and spend Christmas in heart home #2 – with Andy in Granada. Moving to London has been tough and I beat myself up a lot – but I stayed because I self-imposed a trawling of the soul when I left home. Like the ghost of Christmas Present in a Muppets Christmas Carol, I have invited myself in (here) because I need to get to know myself better man! The longing and sad moments have changed to grateful, loving movements and I want to constantly feel those good emotions in whichever place and space I am. Longing for home #1 or #2 isn’t going to bring me closer to those feelings of wellbeing – it separates me from my heart which calls me home.

So, instead of longing for what I had, I’ve started to revel in the joys of what I have, thinking outside of the box to be present when I am away. I’m grateful to my family, friends and Andy who have embraced me, making a home away from home and have encouraged me to be here now. It’s become so crystal clear that if you carry home in your heart you’ll always be right with where you are.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Guest Post - Shutterfly's Helpful Hints for Holiday Cards

I was beyond thrilled when I was contacted by Shutterfly to partner up and share some of their Holiday card ideas with my readers!
Heather Hewitt has written some great tips for creating the perfect greeting card.

Tips for
Using Embellishments on Your Holiday Cards 

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time to begin thinking about your Christmas card for this holiday season. If you’re a veteran card maker, then you know the importance of embellishments – that is, those decorative accents or details added to make something more attractive. But what about the newbie card maker who wants to give it a shot this holiday season? DIY projects can often be exciting, but intimidating if you’re venturing into a new area of craft. The best way to test the waters of DIY card making is to simply order your holiday cards online, and then add embellishments to the existing design. Simply use these helpful tips on card making to get started: 

  • Understand your options. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to know what materials are out there – and how to use them. Visit your local craft store; there will likely be an entire row or section dedicated to scrapbooking and card making. In addition to the basics like cardstock, tape/glue, and scissors, you will want to see which embellishments match your cards’ theme and colors. Embellishment options often include: 
  • Stickers 
  • Expression tags 
  • Ribbons 
  • Washi tape 
  • Glitter and sparkles 
  • Labels 
  • Jewels 
  • And more!  
  • Pay attention to the Rule of Uneven Numbers. According to visual experts, using embellishments in clusters of odd numbers – 1, 3, 5, etc. – brings balance to your design and is appealing to the eye.   
  • Create layers. Cut unique shapes from your papers and layer a variety of colors, shapes, and embellishments to add depth to your cards.   
  • Don’t waste. Use leftover scraps! You may not think you will use a small bit of ribbon or a one-off jewel or button, but you never know when they’ll fit right into a design you’re creating.  
  • Remember that less is often more. You don’t want your cards to become overly crowded or weighed down with embellishments. The eye needs a place to focus – if there is too much going on visually, it can’t.  
  • Get outside your box. For creativity to bloom, don’t limit yourself. In other words, don’t just stick to the same ol’ embellishments. Use fabric or take an object and use it differently than you have before. For instance, try creating flower petals by positioning several mini-safety pins on the page in the shape of a flower. Let your imagination run wild! 

The most important tip for DIY card making is to start with the end in mind, making sure that once you add your embellishments it still fits into the envelope. When ordering photo cards, be sure to note the final size of the card you order and plan accordingly. If you think you’re going to add layers for a border, this will increase the size and you will need larger envelopes – you may be able to request a sample envelope for sizing or request the next size envelope with your purchase. Also, keep in mind the amount and type of embellishments, as heavier objects or a lot of them – will add weight to your card and may increase the postage. 

If you’re new to card making, hopefully you will find these tips for using embellishments helpful. Adding embellishments to pre-ordered photo cards will certainly add a personal touch without giving yourself too much like creating something completely from scratch. This also gives you the opportunity to gauge your level of craftiness and desire to spruce up next year’s cards. Or you might just find that ordering your holiday cards online and adding embellishments might just be the perfect compromise. 

Author Bio: Heather Hewitt is a seasoned writer and guest author who enjoys connecting people with thoughtful products, services and ideas as they relate to crafting, photography, gift giving and personal expression.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Our Elf on the Shelf is BACK

Our Elf on the Shelf, Sarah returned last night while we were sleeping. She was a little late this year due to some misbehaving kids. She still looks as creepy as she did last year, and she's lost her skirt. I'm not surprised, remembering the naughty activities she took part in last Christmas. Riding around in Barbie's corvette with Ken, messing up my makeup, and playing Modern Warfare on the Xbox (What would Santa think?!).

She was kind enough to bring us waffles for breakfast, and set our table in our best Christmas place mats. I made her a new skirt from a coffee filter and we welcomed her back with a celebratory breakfast!

My kids are thrilled, I've got loads of Elf ideas thanks to Pinterest and Mike pretended to drop her only twice so far. We're so ready. Now begins our month of Elf !

If you have an Elf, how did they return?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas Family Traditions

I've mentioned before that I'm big on Family Traditions, especially at Christmas. It's the perfect time of year to create new traditions and celebrate old ones. It's part of how we celebrate the season as a family and we look forward to them every year. Aside from the regular Christmas movie marathons, hot chocolate drinking,snowman making, and present wrapping, these are just a few of the Holiday Traditions we've celebrated over the years.

Advent Calendars
Every December 1, our kids break out their Advent Calendars! It's fun to pick out different themed calendars each year.

Christmas Light-up
We bundle up and attend our town's annual Downtown Christmas Light-up. It symbolizes the beginning of the Christmas season and It usually inspires me to start putting up our Christmas lights that same weekend.

Gingerbread House Competition

Every year we set up a few houses and host a competition. Kids love this!

Decorating our tree
The last few years we've always decorated our tree after the girl's Christmas concerts. It's nice to continue the Christmas spirit into the evening. We decorate sugar cookies, have hot chocolate and then hang all our ornaments on the tree.

Elf on the Shelf 
Our Elf, Sarah was our newest tradition from last year. She hasn't arrived yet, and the kids can't wait to start sharing our Holidays with her. 

Mike and I have our own traditions we share as well. It's a busy time of year for us as parents, and we seem to be so busy making sure our kids are enjoying this time of year that sometimes we don't take the time to enjoy the holiday season ourselves.

Each year we set aside just 1 day for our Christmas shopping. We arrange babysitters, make a list and brave the stores to collect all our gifts. We enjoy some of my favorite things. Eating out, shopping and being with just my husband amidst Christmas cheer! All while following an organized list (which I love)

On Christmas Eve, once Mike and I settle all the kids into bed, we tune into "It's A Wonderful Life", have a cup of tea and set up for Christmas morning. It's our way of winding down after a busy evening and enjoy planning the excitement that will arise the next day!

I'd love to hear of some your Christmas traditions!

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