Wednesday, November 30, 2011

{ adorable advent calendars }

Do you have a holiday tradition that involves an advent or Christmas countdown calendar? We do. My Happy Jack loved counting down the days til the big day last year.  I'm excited for little bro, Grant, to join in on the fun this year.  We have a store-bought cardboard version that we've been reusing for a couple of years.  It does the trick, but I love the idea of a lovely, handmade one.  There are so many clever, beautiful ideas out there!

This one might be my favorite.  It's just pretty, printable numbered strips of paper.  And it's available for free download.  Just roll up a trinket or a candy inside, and you're set!

I usually put in a combinations of small toys and treats such as these:

As well as some cards with ideas for special holiday traditions like these:

* via pinterest

I'm so excited for the countdown to Christmas! But, uh-oh.  I've just realized that I'm several trinkets short to fill our calendar.  December 1st really came quickly this year, didn't it?! ;)

Monday, November 28, 2011

{ we are family }

I hope you all had a wonderful time visiting, laughing and munching this Thanksgiving weekend. We had a splendid few days with family and friends, but it sure is nice to be back home! 

One of my favorite things about this magical time of year is seeing all the beautiful family photos on the lovely Christmas cards that come our way.  I use the cards to decorate the mantle or the staircase, and it's like celebrating the season with those very family and friends, when we see those faces smiling back at us every day.  Of course, part of  the fun leading up to the Christmas cards is family portaits!
We had our family photos taken this year in a local apple orchard.
I'm kinda ridiculously excited about how they turned out ;)

Every time I look at these pictures of my clan, I'm reminded how very blessed we are to have each other.
Thank you to my crazy-talented, photographer cousin for so beautifully capturing this time in our lives.
You're the best, Kimber!

H A P P Y    M O N D A Y !

Friday, November 25, 2011

{ spread some sunshine - weeks 3&4 }

The past couple of weeks have been so busy with visitors and preparations for Thanksgiving.  I admit that we haven't made very much time for intentional sunshine spreading. 
We did manage to sneak in a few things, however:

Put together and sent a care package to troops overseas through Operation Gratitude. 
(lots of how-to info here, if you're interested)

Donated a heaping box of gentley used toys to Goodwill.

Left a coupon for a FREE frozen pizza taped to the product in the grocery store.

Are you making time to spread sunshine during this busy time of year? It seems more important than ever, given the meaning of the season. But, whew! We are finding it to be a bit of a challenge!

On another topic, are you braving the crowds and shopping today?  I think I'll be doing a good deal of mine this coming cyber Monday.  Also, don't forget to support local businesses and independent artists and crafters by shopping 'small' on "Small Business Saturday"!   

Thursday, November 24, 2011

{ give thanks.....for pie }

I have a trillions things to be thankful for, as I'm sure you do too.  

But, if I'm being honest.... there's one thing I look forward to most on this day.  And that would be P I E.  

See, my awesomely crazy family sees to it that our Thanksgiving dinner includes no less than 10 (!)  different varieties of pie.  

Pecan, coconut cream, pumpkin, apple, lemon meringue, chocolate silk, rhubarb, banana cream, cherry, and sweet potato. 

Best. day. ever. ;)
* amanda catherine designs
H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G   T O   Y O U!

Monday, November 21, 2011

{ designer crush - caitlin wilson }

I have a HUGE crush on blogger and designer, Caitlin Wilson's design style. 
She's a big fan of pattern, just like me.

She's so talented at created gorgeous little vignettes like this one.

And I love how she uses bright pops of color in her spaces.

Oh, my.  That ottoman/table is oh so lovely.

She just launched her own line of textiles too. 
The fabrics are all positively stunning.

Everything works together so beautifully.

I want every single one of these pillows!

* all via caitilin wilson design files

Nothing like starting the week with some eye candy ;)

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

{ making me smile... }

There is nothing like spending time with your sister :) 

I'm having a fantastic time with my awesome sister who is visiting us all week while my husband is out of town on business.  I'm taking a wee break from bloggy land while we spend oodles of time crafting, baking, shopping, and chatting.  Hooray for girl time!

I hope you're having a great week too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

{ spreading sunshine - week 2 }

I'm really pleased that I started this diddy on my little blog.  It's been the perfect daily reminder to me and my kiddos to go the extra mile when it comes to kindness and doing things for others.
  Here's the bit of sunshine we've been spreading this week:

Donated items and helped organize Happy Jack's preschool food drive.  I am sore from bagging up so many big bags of canned goods and boxes of pasta.  But it's a wonderful feeling knowing that we have helped to fill the tummies and hearts of some local families in need.

Turned a trip to the playground into a "beautify the park" mission. My boys and I raced around to see who could pick up the most pieces of litter.  When we left, the playground was trash-free! Yay!

Paid for the car behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru.  I have been the lucky recipient of this delightful surprise three times now!  It was such an unexpected treat to be ready to hand over my cash, only to be told that my order was already paid for.  It felt terrific to be able to do this for someone else. 

There has been a kindness revolution happening in bloggy world lately!  I have been so inspired by The Happy Day project happening over here.   And there's so much good happening over here too. 

Been spreading sunshine too?  Please do share!

h a p p y   w e e k e n d !

Thursday, November 10, 2011

{ holiday haze }

Halloween feels like a gazillion years ago already.  My circus act has already moved on to all things Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Did you eat a pound of chocolate last week like I did?  Are you ready for the holidays?  I'm getting so excited for this wondrous time of year ;)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

{ farewell to a furry friend }

My sister lost her beloved Boston Terrier, Maximus, over the weekend.  I'm positively heartbroken for her.  He was such a sweet, irresistible, lovable fellow.  My sis and I worked together to rescue sweet Max from a terrible situation almost exactly five years ago.  On the day I arrived to pick him up from his previous owners (it's hard not to use the word captors here), he was sulking in a crate in the corner of a tiny, filthy laundry room.  There were open paint cans all around his crate.  His bedding was disgusting, and he had no food or water in sight.  He was emaciated beyond belief, and he was suffering from several skin and nail infections.  My sister and her fiance did a superb job nursing him back to good health, and he flourished in his new home.  He spent his days playing, sleeping and tolerating the shenanigans of his constant playmate, and 'sister', Luci, the Boston Terrier.  He was a kind, quiet soul - always there, wordless, faithful, ever-available with a slobbery lick and a warm, furry body to snuggle up to. 
We love you and miss, sweet boy. 

"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."
-Will Rogers

Give your pets an extra hug today :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

{ i spy a diy - jewel jar cardigan }

Do you collect bits and bobs of sewing or crafty supplies?  I definitely do.  I have oodles and oodles of ribbons, laces, trims, fabric scraps, and about a bazillion buttons .  Buttons are, by far, my favorite goodies to collect.  I'm especially partial to the yummy, sparkly, vintage-y
variety of crystal buttons. I just love the way these beautiful buttons can be used in endless ways to add interesting details to so many things.  I've been known to snatch up an otherwise ugly thrift store sweater for the sole purpose of salvaging its lovely buttons.  I added a handful of colorful crystal buttons in different shapes and sizes to a plain, ol' black cardi, and I really like the fancified version.

Do you have a fascination/obsession/hoarding issue with buttons too? ;)

Friday, November 4, 2011

{ real recipe - thai chicken wraps }

Are you a fan of peanut sauce?  If so, then make these.  Make these now ;)

We've made these several times, and while they certainly look prettier for pictures with the wrap contents layered like you see them here in the photo, we all agree that they taste better when the rice, chicken and veggies are mixed up a bit.

h a p p y   w e e k e n d !

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

{ spreading sunshine - DOING more GOOD }

I read a blog post about a month ago, and it was truly one of the most inspiring things I have read in a long time.  It's a beautiful, tearjerking account of a woman who decided to celebrate her 38th birthday by committing to performing 38 "random acts of kindness" on one day.  I started pondering the idea of kindness quite a lot.  Here in our home, we talk A LOT about kindness.  "Do the kind thing" and "please use kind words" are phrases that are often repeated by my husband and myself when talking with our children.  That's all well and good, I suppose. But I got to thinking about how what we really need is less talk and more action when it comes to kindness.  In other words, we need our acts of kindness to be less random.  We need our kind acts, good deeds, or spreading sunshine, as we like to call it, to be more of a habit, a way of life.   Blogging and spending time in 'blogland' is a lot of fun for me, and it's definitely enjoyable to make lists of pretty things to buy, to drool over images of lustworthy interiors and pretty parties, and to dwell on the gazillion of crafty projects I'd love to make.  But all of that can feel much too frivolous and self-focused at times.  I want my children to learn the importance of doing good for others, but I realize I'm not exactly setting the best example for them right now.  So I'm beyond excited to start our journey as we actively strive to spread some more sunshine into the world.  It makes other people happy, it makes us happy, and let's face just makes the world a better place!
Won't you help us change the world by spreading some sunshine too?

I don't think you have to plan any sort of grand gesture to spread a little sunshine.  Something as simple as a smile or some words of encouragement are enough to impact someone's day in a positive way.

Okay, so here's the bit of sunshine that we spread recently:

The man in front of us at the grocery store was $2.48 short to pay his bill.  He was asking the cashier to deduct a box of cereal from his total, when Jack handed him $3.  He smiled and said thank you.  Jack smiled too and said, "You're welcome! Now you can buy your cereal!" 

My neighbor knocked on our door the evening before Halloween.  She asked if we had a black bowtie that she could borrow for her costume (she was dressing as Lady Gaga the next day).  She told us about how she drove all over town looking in store after store for a black bow tie, but had no luck. My husband said she was welcome to borrow one of his straight ties, but that he didn't have a black bowtie for her to borrow.  She looked bummed.  I was in my pajamas on the couch, and feeling a bit sorry for myself after a rough week, when I realized I could pretty easily whip up a glue-gunned version of a black bowtie  for her with some black ribbon I had.  I just didn't want to be bothered with it though.  But then I remembered our little vow to spread some more sunshine, and I thought about how I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want my children to believe that spreading sunshine is just about doing so when it's convenient for you.  I told her I would make one for her and pop it into her mailbox for the next morning.  I did just that,  and she was really appreciative.  I felt so happy to help her with her costume dilemma :)

I've gathered up a few places to find inspiration and ideas for sunshine spreading.

I can't wait to hear about your rays of sunshine! :)