Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcoming the New Year!

Have a wonderful time ringing in the new year! We're going back to Melissa's and Tim's for New Years Eve. And unlike last year, little missy ISN'T going with us! That's her below at the party last New Year's Eve, when she first discovered the joys of noise makers and the pop corn machine they have in their finished basement.
We decided last minute, after finding out it was unlikely that anyone else was bring their children, to have her spend the night at Grammy's and Papa's. Grandma Norma and Ray are coming over for New Year's Day and will bring her back home. So we'll actually be kiddo free and able to talk and visit without having to entertain or chase after a preschooler.

Plus we are planning on going out to dinner, just the two of us after we drop her off. Nothing fancy but'll be nice to have couple time☺ I'm looking forward to a new decade and what it has in store for us! We've got a couple things we hope we'll be blessed enough to happen. What are your wishes for the new year?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Shape Picture

In November we made an Autumn Foam Leaf Tree.  Now that it's winter we've switched it out.  In it's place is a snowy scene, put together using basic shapes to create our picture. It went up in December and will stay on the wall through January.

It displays a picture of Brad's side of the family from Christmas '08, and is based on a project my room partner in CA used to do with her kindergarten students. It was simple and a fun way to review our shapes. I like the scrappy paper pieced look of it.

Book Review: The Sweet By and By, by Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

"Jade Fitzgerald left the pain of her past in the dust when she headed out for college a decade ago. Now she's thriving in her career and glowing in the light of Max Benson's love.

But then Jade's hippie mother, Beryl Hill, arrives in Whisper Hollow, Tennessee, for Jade's wedding along with Willow, her wild younger sister. Their arrival forces Jade to throw open the dark closets of her past--the insecurity of living with a restless, wandering mother, the silence of her absent father, and the heart-ripping pain of first-love's rejection.

Turns out Beryl has a secret of her own. She needs reconciliation with her oldest daughter before illness takes her life. In the final days leading to the wedding, Jade meets the One who shows her that the past has no hold on her future. With a little grace, they'll meet in the middle, maybe even before that sweet by and by."

Primarily authored by multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans, I was very interested to see what this debut title would be like as I have enjoyed the story like quality of many of her music singles. It did not disappoint! It is filled with strong women, complex relationships, overcoming betrayals, that ends on a heartwarming note that indicates the next chapter in Jade's life will be a happy one indeed. You will laugh, cry, and feel the heartache along with the characters. If it seems a bit melodramatic, think future Lifetime movie special, it's okay because it's a very satifying read and one that will capture and hold your attention from the first page to the last.

Disclaimer: I received a reviewer's copy as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Program, the quoted text and book cover photo are from their book reviewer's materials. This review reflects my own personal and unbiased opinions and experience with this book; yours may differ.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Pasts

It never fails to amaze me how much changes each year! As we take out and assemble all of ER's Christmas presents I've been reflecting on how, what Santa brings her each year reflects her interests and development. It was fun remembering past favorites and wondering what will be the big craze next year. At our house, this was definitely the year of the princess.
The First Year's Memorable Gifts: Spiral Spin Top, Safari Bowling Set, Amazing Animals Sing and Go Choo-Choo, Laugh and Learn Singing Puppy, and Peek a Boo Blocks.

Year Two's Memorable Gifts: Qwikfold Wagon, Zoom Around Garage, Chloe Doll, Wooden Table with Chairs, and Singing Tea Set

Last Year's Memorable Gifts: Dora the Explorer Talking Backpack, Medical Play Kit, Leapfrog "Computer", Bouncing Horse, Barbie Island Princess Vanity, Tricycle.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Memories '06 Envelope Mini Book

After ER and I spent a month an a half visiting family, for her first Christmas I made a few simple mini scrapbooks to commemorate our trip, as gifts for my family. This simple envelope book was for my brother.
To make it: Decide how many pockets you want in the finished mini book. Fold each envelope flap backwards and attach to the envelope behind it. Glue the last envelope to the cover.

The cover is just a piece of cardstock that I cut to slightly taller than the envelopes that I was using. I centered them on top and folded each side up and over. I marked where they overlapped and cut. The enclosures I used came premade but it's easy to make your own.

Punch or cut two small circles of cardstock. Center and attach a metal brad to each circle of paper. Attach both to the cover, as I did with the premade enclosure. Before you fold over the metal prongs of one of the brads to attach it, tie string around it. Then use the string to close it up.
Each envelope has a "page" that was cut to fit inside the envelopes. One side was decorate with a picture and embellished. The ones above are from ER's baptism, he is her Godfather, so that was a very special memory to record.
The otherside I added journaling to and simple embellishements is there was room. These are minimal because I wanted the memories to really be the focus of the book.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Celebrations

I hope your holidays and this most special time of the year has been filled with as much love, togetherness, and wonderment as ours.  I've been enjoying this time with my family and hope you are too!  We've got lots of family time still to go.  We'll be visiting with out of state relatives, hosting this year's belated Christmas playdate, and visiting Great Grandparents this upcoming week.  I just love this time of year, and having Brad at home on vacation for two whole weeks♥

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I'm off having celebrating Christmas Eve at my mother-in-law's house.  I'm looking forward to the big dinner and exchanging presents with her.  We'll celebrate Christmas Day with my extended family, but we already enjoyed our holiday cheer with my parents and brother.  We combined his 28th birthday with it, last Sunday. 

ER had a wonderful day, she loved seeing the my brother's childhood train set up in their living room.  She also got really spoiled with a full stocking and lots of princess themed goodies, games, puzzles, play clothes, and a big new Littlest Pet Shop Cozy Care Adoption Center. 

My Dad and brother who are gadget fans both got Blue Ray players, now they can finally watch the Blue Ray movies they've already started collecting!  We gave my mom a cute pair of earrings she picked out way back when we went out for her birthday last summer.  Everyone got a new photo calendar, my favorites are from Shutterfly for photo quality and design choices.  We also gave my mom and brother photo mugs to drink their morning coffee out of.

Everyone managed to keep a secret from me and boy was I shocked to get a new camera!  I wondered what they had up their sleeves when no one asked for any ideas and everyone said they were all done shopping for me.  The Nikon Coolpix P80 is a huge step up from my Olympus.  It's got 10.1 mega pixels versus 4.0 and has 18X zoom so I can get in really close.  I can't wait to play with my new toy more!  My mom also knitted me the cute pink cosmetic bag, I'm holding below.
Digital Credits: All the digital frames are from Design's by Dani's blog Girl Talk.  They had a fabulous 12 Days of Christmas promotion, with new freebies each day and these cluster frames were part of it.  Aren't the cute?  I had fun practicing my PS Elements skills, as I added my pictures.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Fun with Craft Sticks

I hope you are all finishing the last touches to your holiday preparations! I just finished putting together these craft stick projects that have been laying around our house almost done for too long. They were easy to do but just one of those things I never seemed to find the time to get done and hung up.
Craft sticks hot glued together by Mommy also were transformed into this abstract wreath shape after being painted green and getting a dusting of glitter. Red pom poms give it some extra color and represent holly berries.
We also made a manger out of the sticks and got as far as painting it brown. I didn't realize until afterward that I should've made the base much much wider. The next step would be to add a baby Jesus with a wood ball painted flesh color wrapped in a scrap of felt, on top of some of that gift basket filler. A pipe cleaner star should also be hanging over baby Jesus but alas we ran out of time. It was a good way to talk to ER about what exactly a manger is though.

Quick 4X6 Photo Calendar

I made a super quick last minute gift yesterday. It was so easy to make several copies of it in no time. I used this fun 4"X6" Pocket Calendar kit and created a desk calendar featuring all of our extended family and sent it off to Costco. The ones featuring me and my immediate family are below, so you can get an idea of how cute it all turned out. I added all my photos in PS Elements, uploaded, and picked up my prints yesterday. Now I've got a set to give to all of the Aunts & Uncles, Grandparents, and Great Aunts this Friday. They're a fun inexpensive gift and this year I don't have to provide the $1 to $2 frames, depending on where you buy them, to put the pictures in. They've all still got the little stand up clear plastic frames, that got I them last year. Each month they just put the corresponding month's picture/calendar page on the top. It's a fun little present and for me, easier and quicker than making one using CD jewel cases. Last year's version was through Shutterfly, you can see that version here. Those calendars are more generic and streamlined, you can find the calendar option under borders. But then I'd have to order them through Shutterfly and by the time you add up the pay their higher per print price and shipping...well I didn't plan ahead this time so they weren't an option. Don't feel to bad for Shutterfly though, they get plenty of my $$$! I love their photobooks☺
The calendar kit I used is half off right now at The "Ettes" & Company, only a $1.50 and so worth it for it's drag and drop convenience. I wasn't sure if I was going to make a new version this year, but my Mom said it really helped my elderly relatives remember all us and my Aunt Barb said she enjoyed seeing a new picture each month on her desk at work. I hope everyone loves it! I'm showing it off today at Show & Tell on Blue Cricket Design.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fiber One 50 Calorie Yogurt‏ Review and Giveaway, 3 Winners!

This giveaway is now closed, thank you to everyone who entered, and congratulations to:
Niecey, comment #12, who said...We try to make sure we still eat healthy meals over the holidays, then we allow ourselves to indulge in the sweets and treats.
rainmommy, comment #14, who said... I would love to try the frozen muffins! 
pixie13, comment #31, who said...I love the Fiber One Honey Clusters cereal & the Fiber One Granola bars. Thanks for the giveaway!

With the holidays quickly approaching, can you believe Christmas is THIS Friday, it's easy to get off track and end up with snugly fitting pants. The holiday buffets and cookies are calling and I'm sure many of us will be over indulging. With so many treats around, it's especially important to get a good start to the day and to choose snacks wisely.
For breakfast and smart snacking, we've been enjoying new Fiber One yogurt, that MyBlogSpark sent us. I liked that it's a simple way to get more calcium and fiber into my diet, two things I don't always get enough of. I thought the strawberry flavor we tried was very sweet tasting, but liked it a lot and it did help satisfy my sweet craving. My daughter, who we've never been able to get to eat yogurt before, likes it a lot. They come in a nicely portioned size for a quick healthy snack and are convenient too, so no reaching for the bag of chips!

"The only leading nonfat yogurt with 50 calories and 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of the Recommended Daily Value). It is also a good source of calcium and vitamins A and D, making this an all-around great choice for dieters and those watching their weights. Each cup includes the creamy, delicious taste you expect from Yoplait, and you don't have to feel guilty about enjoying it. Fiber One is available in a variety of flavors including, Strawberry, Peach, Vanilla and Key Lime Pie."

You can try it too, click here, for a $1.00 off coupon.

MyBlogSpark has three more "Healthy & Fit Weight Management" gift bags for me to give away!

Each one includes:
  • Fiber One yogurt VIP coupon (good for a free 4-pack of Fiber One yogurt),
  • Insulated cooler pack with separate zippered bottom storage section, and
  • Other storage items for you to carry your snacks and yogurt!
It's a great set for work and other on-the-go activities!

To Enter:
Tell me what Fiber One product you'd like to try or currently enjoy in your household.

Extra Entries:
  • Tell me what you do to try and maintain healthy eating habits around the holidays.
  • Publicly follow my blog via Google Friends Connect
  • Subscribe to my posts via email, use the gadget in my right sidebar
  • Follow me on Twitter, tweet about this giveaway, leave me a link to your tweet; and include @KTnestingspot in your tweet.
  • Post about or provide a text link to this giveaway on your blog.
Giveaway open to US residents until midnight December 29th. Winners will be notified by email and have 48 hrs to respond. Good luck!

Disclaimer: I received the product, prize pack, information, and giveaway from Fiber One through MyBlogSpark. This review relates my own personal and unbiased opinions and experience, with this product; yours may differ.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to my "Little" 28 year old Brother

Happy Birthday Dave!
Yesterday we celebrated my brother's birthday with my family. I was feeling terrible, I pulled my back or something and had a horrible migrane. But by the end of the day I managed to feel well enough for cake and ice cream. It was a trial being up right, but there are some things you just have to do for your family☺

Papercrafting Templates: Stocking Stuffer

Have any of you used templates for papercrafting? I've long been amazed at all the fun things I see in various forums using My Timeless Templates by Laura Meader. Several are for sale at Papertrey Ink, and two can be downloaded for free. I've been wanting to give them a try and recently used Stocking Stuffer to wrap up little treats to give at a recent moms night out with three of my girlfriends.
I am not much of a stamper so I used patterned paper. I wish I could say they were a breeze to put together, but to be honest they were a bit of a hassle to use. It took me awhile to figure things out the first time. Where to score and where to cut weren't labeled and the directions on how to assemble them weren't that clear. Plus the stocking heel and toes didn't seem to quite fit, tweaking had to be done to them. I am wondering if I just had a big learning curve or if anyone else has tried them and had these same issues.
It took longer than I anticipated to put them together so I didn't have time to embellish them the way I'd have liked. I whipped out the hot glue gut to add some trim, it was already out because I used hot glue to add the middle box or bag part between the two stockings. Based on this experience, I wasn't so sure if I'd be paying $5 for another template but...
Laura is in the process of opening a new store: My Time, My Creations. It's not quite up and running but there are a few things available already. I downloaded a free template there, Cutesy Cover and think that their templates may have been improved significantly. Step by step picture instructions are included now. I'm going to try that out soon.
Let me know if there are any papercrafting templates you like. I have always liked the free ones from Mirkwood. There are also several digital templates available, used by hybrid scrappers, I just wonder about their cost effectiveness. It seems you'd use a lot of ink and expensive photo paper when using them, unless you use them as tracers I guess. Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs seem to be the big right now. Plus she's nice too, we're friends on Tip Junkie's NING, so I think I'm most likely to try one hers next. Her blog show lots of fun ways to use them.

Did you notice who had to tag along? The clothespin photo holders and Oreo Bark continue to be a hit! Seriously making big batches of both have really helped me out this year.

Part of Make it for Monday at Cottage Instincts, Making the World Cuter Monday Thru Friday, Just Something I Whipped Up at The Girl Creative, DIY Holiday Highlights at The DIY Showoff, Made it Monday at The Persimmon Perch, DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land and

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Winner Times Three

Great news everyone! This month I have been lucky enough to win THREE giveaways! Can you believe it? I still can't! Too be fair though, I should mention I enter A LOT of giveaways. The ones featuring small businesses and Etsy sellers with handmade goodness are always my favorites. So these were like hitting the jackpot. Plus for once they are all fun things for ME☺I recently started reading Making the World Cuter, which is filled with great tutorials and other fun stuff, like her weekly craft linky party on Mondays. Tiff recently had a Holiday Giveaway, with four days filled with tons of great giveaways from all sorts of talented crafters and businesses. I was lucky enough to win the one I really really REALLY wanted to win, from Sumo's Sweet Stuff, for a cute and clever magnetic holder {insert squeals of happiness here}, adorable ribbon tree, and fun set of holiday baking goodies. You can see a few more versions in her post, here. She's a genius at coming up with fun little places to stick up things or jot a note. Take a look at her chalkboard blocks. Those are so clever! They're next up on my to do list, as she's provided a handy dandy tutorial. She also sells her handmade creations on Etsy, she makes cute colorful tutus, bright and cheerful fabric covered diaper wipes containers, and lots of different styles of cute hair clippies! This girl loves to pretty up her daughter's hair as much as I do! She has a huge variety of flower hair clips, the strawberry blueberry one is my favorite. I also love these pink and brown crocheted flowers, that come in a set of two. There are so many cute accessories for little girls over at Sumo Sweet Stuff! She also makes baby bracelets, frames, and seriously sweet leggings! You can customize them to match a favorite top and get them in gift sets that include a bow and bracelet. You'll definitely want to check out her etsy shop and start reading her blog!The second one I won, I found out about through a blog I've been reading since before I started my own, Sew Mama Sew, during their last Giveaway Day. I got this fabulous clutch made out of granny squares from Crissy at Crissybell's Musings. She let me choose the colors and she made it just for me. Isn't it really cool? I love the color combination and it's even lined with matching blue felt.
I haul around too much stuff to really use it as a clutch most of the time. It's just too cool to not use everyday, so I've been using it to stash travel kleenex, hair brush, mirror, and a lipgloss or three. Now I have something cute to take out of my big ol' bag when I need to freshen up while out running errands with ER, instead of digging through my bottomless tote. I can't wait to bring it with me on my next mom's night out with my friends. Then I will get to use it as a clutch and I know everyone is going to be jealous☺ I love it Crissy, thank you very much!
The latest giveaway I've won was from my new friend Kellie's blog Ladybug Soup, I won the Ayelet Artisan Bath and Body Products giveaway and got a gift set that with a soap, sugar scrub, and whipped body souffle. It looks a lot like the one above, and I even got to mix and match the scents. I picked out an Iced Gingerbread Cookie Olive Oil Soap Enriched with Shea Butter, cause it look too cute to pass up and is perfect for this time of year. I am going to add it to Brad's stocking, mainly cause that means I'll get to use it too☺ Ayelet has lots of great soaps, many would make perfect little treats for the men in your life, as they are more masculine sounding. I LOVE the Cranberry Clementine Emulsified Sugar Scrub, it's my favorite. The scent is wonderful! I wish she offered more products with it. Not only does it smell great I also love the bright and cheerful yellow color. It's a real treat for all the senses. I'm going to have to try more of her citrus scented products, the lemon ginger is calling my name.I last goodie in my gift box was the Pink Sugar Marshmallow - Whipped Body Souffle, which is as thick and creamy as you'd expect. I've been treating ER to special mini spa treatments with them. She feels so grown up sharing mommy's lotion, and then goes around smelling her hands...too cute.

All of Ayelet's scents sound yummy, don't they? I can't wait to my new treats to pamper myself this winter! The best part? I've already GOT them in the mail. I found out I won last Wednesday and had them by Friday. Talk about quick turn around time! Thank you Ayelet and Kellie for filling up my stocking with lovely scented sweets☺ While I'm talking about Kellie, I thought I'd add that I have found out about some great companies through reading her blog Ladybug Soup. I bought this really fun handbag in schoolhouse plaid from Hypernoodle, after clicking over from the giveaway at Kellie's.

It's for ER's Godmother Alicia in AZ. She has an ongoing love for plaid and the second I saw it, it reminded me of this plaid bag we both fell in love with a few years ago, that was ridiculously huge. This bag is a much more managable size, while still coming with lots of pockets and space to put stuff. It's a great every day bag and she loves it! It came wrapped in tissue paper and with a card that had my personal message on it. Wasn't that a nice touch?

I love Hypernoodle, I admit I am a handbag junkie, and hope to be picking up a bag for myself very soon! The hard part will be choosing which one, because I like so many of them. The giraffe print tote and this one are my current favorites, along with the bag design of this and this. Hmm...maybe I'll have to request a custom piece after the new year, perhaps in this print?
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