Sunday, December 21, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Ideas Week 5 Link up

Last week was a super busy week for us. With the boys finishing up their last week before winter break and me trying to get my Christmas shopping.  I just never had time to sit to do our Elf on the Shelf post so this week there is extra. Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. 

Marshmallow snowmen getting ready to attack Cindy. I used toothpicks to hold the snowmen together and for the arms.

Cindy playing with the pig with the Christmas lightsabers that play music.

Cindy painted the kids pictures and brought painting stuff for the kids. 

Beyblade battles, the kids were over the top with this. Loved the idea of Pokemon battling a Carebear

The kids have been wanting to unwrap presents so Cindy wrapped up lunches. 

The army has captured Cindy.

Cindy brought Christmas PJs and put the train up. 

Hangout in the stoking having a lazy night. 

Cindy brought supplies for decorating Christmas trees. 

Small gifts from Cindy under the mini tree. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reindeer Food With Free Printable Label

Do you leave cookies for Santa? What do you leave for the reindeer? Carrots are what we have left for the reindeers every year but last year we added to our normal Christmas tradition of just leaving carrots and cookies. A family from my sons school gave all the kids reindeer food to sprinkle in the yard for the reindeer. What a cute idea...right? This year we decided to make a bunch of reindeer food  for friends, kids at school and ourselves. Recently I picked up a book called Santa's Coming to Boise (they have Santa's Coming to for most states) it talked about delivering all the packages and the reindeer being very hungry because Santa forgot to give them the carrots. So the kids and I sat down to make the reindeer food.  They said Santa's reindeer won't get hungry if Santa forgets to give them their carrots because reindeer food will be out. This is such a simple and fun activity to do with the kids and it adds to the excitement of the season.


1 cup of Lucky Charms or off brand cereal (on one batch I removed the marshmallows).
1 cup of Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Glitter (Christmas colors)
5 broken candy canes optional
24 small bags (snack zip-locks work)
24 labels FREE PRINTABLE IMAGE for Reindeer Food Label

How to:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl except for the bags of coarse.
2. Make sure to stir everything together well.
3. Add the reindeer food to the bags using a large spoon or a tablespoon.
4. Fold the labels in half.
5. Now fold the top on the bag over, placing the label over the folded bag and staple the label on. 

If you chose to make your own label the saying I used is below.

Be sure to take this magic food and sprinkle on the lawn,
and you'll wake up to Santa's gifts next morning on Christmas Day! 

Find more holiday fun at Whisicle's Coutdown to Christmas! You can also follow along on Instangram, Twitter or Facebook and join in with the hashtag #Countdown2xmas

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lauren’s Amaretto Chuck Cookies Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

This season I signed up for the 4th Annual Great Food Cookie Blogger.  The GREAT FOOD BLOGGER COOKIE SWAP brings together food bloggers from around the world in celebration of all things scrumptious. The premise is this: sign up. Receive the addresses of three other food bloggers. Send each of them one dozen delicious homemade cookies. Receive three different boxes of scrumptious cookies from other bloggers. Post your cookie recipe on your blog. See everyone else’s cookie recipes. Get lots of great ideas for next year’s cookie swap. Rinse and repeat. If your interested in signing up for the next one here is the info Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Yes I did receive 3 packages of cookies; Lemon Ginger Shortbread from This Tasty Life, Cherry Chocolate Almond Cookies from Like Mother Like Daughter and Chocolate Dipped Sugar cookies from Layla of Brunch Time Baker cookies and they were all so yummy. I have to say the Cherry Chocolate Almond Cookies were my favorite, I have actually bought all the ingredients to make them today.  I  decided to make Lauren’s Amaretto Chuck Cookies which is a recipe I got from my Nana. These cookies are for yummy and always a hit. I hope the 3 bloggers that received them enjoyed them. 

Lauren’s Amaretto Chuck Cookies 

Preheat oven to 375

2 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour (do not sift)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp. Salt
1 Cup Butter Softened
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
½ cup Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 Tbsp. Amaretto Liqueur
2 tsp. Almond Extract
2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 ½ Cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut
1 Cup Sliced Almonds

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, then set a side.

In a large bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs, amaretto and extract. Reduce speed to low: beat in the flour mixture just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and almonds.

Drop dough by heaping measuring tablespoon, 2 inches apart, on greased cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden around the edges. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Store cookies in a tightly covered container at room temperature up to 1 week or in freezer up to 3 months.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Ideas Week 4 Link up

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Traditions

Thanksgiving went by so fast and now Christmas will be here before we know it. With all the hustle and bustle its hard to remember to make sure to keep up on our Christmas traditions. When I was a kid the holidays were always so much fun. Its a big part of my memories growing up and my dad probably stands out to me the most with Christmas. When I look back I remember him being just  as happy and excited as my sisters and I were. My parents worked a lot so that's probably why the holidays stand out so much in my memories. I even remember my sisters and I sneaking out to get a quick peak before everyone got up. When we lived in Pinetop AZ I remember always going to my grandparents house on Christmas day. On Christmas eve we would get to open one gift. Did you have that tradition? Do you remember the traditions you had when you were a kid and are you still keeping those traditions alive.

Now that my husband and I have our own family, we are creating our own traditions. We are combining my husbands traditions and my own to make our own traditions, making it really work for our household. When we first got together we would go around all day to everyone's home trying to celebrate with both of our family's.  It was great to spend time with everyone, but extremely exhausting. Once we had kids we really started limiting the places we would go on Christmas. Then once we had 3 kids we decided no more. We decided to stay at our own house on Christmas. If family would like to see the kids and us they are more than welcome to join us at our home, but we decided it was best for us to stay put. The kids never wanted to leave our house on Christmas anyhow, so we were able to avoid that fight all together and enjoy a relaxing environment.  Plus all that unloading kids, food, packages etc was so nice not to have to do. Since we stopped driving all over the place, we had to think about what we would do at home. We needed to start our own family traditions.  

The first part of our Christmas day traditions start on Christmas Eve. The kids help make cookies for Santa, then get in their Christmas PJs to we watch a Christmas movie. After the movie we gather around the tree each child gets to open one gift of their choice and we snap a shot in front of the tree. We always leave cookies hot chocolate for Santa last year we started throw Reindeer food out on the grass for the reindeers.  After throwing reindeer food the kids head to bed to enjoy a Christmas story.

Now every Christmas morning I wake up early to get some homemade cinnamon rolls going so we can eat them while we sit around in our pjs in front of the tree and open gifts. When the kids wake up they have to wait for everyone to go downstairs together. I  always go first to snap a photo of their faces when they come down the stairs. The excitement on their faces is pure joy it warms my heart.

 Remember when you were a kid, being so excited the night before Christmas that you couldn't sleep?  That moment you woke up and the instant smile on your face running from room to room.  As you get older this excitement changes, but I feel the real excitement begins when you are a parent and you get to wittiness this excitement on your child's face. To me it makes all the hustle and bustle and prep work worth it, making smiles bring that energy alive and topping it off with the fact that your kids know the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus. This is the moment I live for on Christmas, the pure joy in a families heart shining through their bodies.

 It doesn't stop there as our family all gathers around the tree we watch the kids tear through their gifts watching smile after smile it amazes me. After we have finished with the gifts, the kids are usually checking out their new stuff and watching the Macy's parade.

Then the warmth moves into the kitchen where the adults come together to make eggs Benedict. Once the breakfast is ready everyone gathers around the table to snap a photo together and enjoy the yummy food. During the day we relax, play with the kids, watch a Christmas movie and talk about Jesus. 

For dinner we always have fresh tamales that I make. I try to do all the prep work the day before so on Christmas they just need to be cooked. The hubby, kids and I always love the warm feeling of being at home and having a fun day together.

At the end of the night when the kids are down the hubby and I look around at the storm that has hit our house then curl up on the sofa to relax and leave the mess for another day. We talk about the day the highlights and the things that the kids might have said and every year I feel like the day went by way to fast. Christmas is such a miracle its the birth of Jesus and with that it brings a great day of reflection to everyone which is much needed.  At the end of the day its not about about the gifts its about bring everyone together on a day of celebration for Jesus we are so lucky that we can celebrate in the manner we do.

Before Christmas comes we do some traditions like Elf on the Shelf, Advent calendar, baking cookies, gingerbread houses, Christmas movie nights, driving around to look at Christmas lights and decorations, and a couple other activities they had back in Orange County. Now with us being in Boise we will have to find new holiday activities to turn into traditions. 

How do you feel about holiday traditions? What traditions do you have with your family? Are you planning to start new family traditions this year?

On this Christmas day remember to take a moment to thank the Lord for  the many blessings that you have received.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Christmas Wreath with Ornaments

During this time of year I love to brighten up my front door with a beautiful wreath. Who doesn't love to display a beautiful holiday wreath on their front door? But yet they can be so pricey. Its crazy! I was  recently at Mom2mom which is similar to MOPS and one of my friends was making a wreath like this, she said she made it for $6. My jaw dropped. I talked with her to find out all the info to make a wreath. Its was seriously prefect timing because I had a Pinterest Party that night. We had to make and bring 3 identical items all for $5 each, so this was a prefect fit. Since the wreath costed more I just decided to make the wreath smaller to stay on budget.  When I finished I was so excited with the way the wreath turned out it was absolutely beautiful. 

4  small tubes of plastic Christmas bulbs from the Dollar Tree.
2 medium tubes of plastic Christmas bulbs from the Dollar Tree.
1 wire hanger (I found this in my closet from the dry cleaners).
Gorilla Glue or similar.

1. Take all the bulbs out of the plastic tubes then glue the top on them, put them in a bowl to dry. This helps so they don't pop off the hanger.  

2. While the glue is drying grab your hanger and form it into a circle. If you have a bowl you can use it as a guide. Once you have a circle and it doesn't have to be prefect.  Unthread your hanger at this point as well. 

3. Now you will start to weave the bulbs on to the wire hanger on the side of the hanger that doesn't have the hook. I didn't do any specific pattern, I just put the bulbs on in any order.  The bulbs will start to gather.

4. Once your hanger is full you will thread your hanger back together and give a little extra twist.

5. Add a ribbon for the bow, tying it to the top of your hanger. This step is totally optional.

This craft is so easy, cheap and fast. You will have a amazing holiday wreath in no time at all.  

I made 3 wreaths; 2 with ribbons and 1 without. The ribbon was at the the Dollar Tree too. 

Here are some of the crafts from the Pinterest Party. Not one person made the same thing. We had to get up and talk about our craft then draw 3 peoples names from a bowl and those are the 3 that got that craft. I left with Moon Shine and bath salts, chalk board candle holder and kids entertainment box for the car.  

Monday, December 08, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Ideas Week 3 Link up

This has been our first year with our oldest in kindergarten, and let me tell you, mornings here are very busy. I have had to do a little rethinking on our elf. On the week days I am trying not to do a huge elaborate deal being that we have to get out of the house fast but it is hard. I tend to like to go all out on things. So here is to toning it down this week ;)

My kiddos love hexbugs. They are little electronic bugs that crawl around. Plus they make great stocking stuffers. So far I have found them to be the cheapest on Amazon. 

 The kiddos have had a couple rough days. So Dr. Cindy was needed to help with the bumps, cuts and hospital visit.  I found these Elf on the Shelf Bandaids and chap-sticks from Target. The kids seem to really join the fact that Cindy was concerned about them.

Time for tricks, the hubby and I wrapped the potty and pantry door since these are normally the first spots that the kids go when they woke up. Hunter was super concerned about the pantry.  It was pretty funny.  The potty stayed wrapped almost all day until Weston came out saying "The potty is not letting me go potty in it!"

 Donut rope to get away from the hungry lizards.  I strung a ribbon through powder donuts and tied each donut on. super easy and the kids or dog can eat them right off the ribbon.

 Every year Weston gets lucky because his birthday is in December. I always have something big that Cindy the elf does plus she always brings him something special. This year we got Weston the Disney Infinity so Cindy brought him the figurines but instead of wrapping them it was a scavenger hunt around the house to find them. This was by far the funnest Elf on the Shelf day yet. The kiddos loved it. It was super cute to watch them figure out the clues.

 How is your season with the Elf going? Have you had to make changes?  How many times have you got into bed and thought oh shoot the Elf?  Make sure to link up!!!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Week 3 Link Up

Friday, December 05, 2014

$250 Paypal Giveaway

$250 Paypal Giveaway

Now that it's December it seems everyone is getting into the holiday spirit! Christmas lights and trees are up and shopping is under way. With so many people to buy for every year, I thought it would be nice to host a giveaway to help with some of your Christmas shopping. That's why I've teamed up with 9 other bloggers to give away one lucky winner $250 Paypal cash to spend! All you have to do is enter with the Rafflecopter entry form below. Seems easy right? But before entering, check out the 10 bloggers that have sponsored this giveaway and we hope you'll follow us for more exciting giveaways from this group (we call ourselves the Blogging Mamas - fun, right?)

Follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with all the latest blog posts and more giveaways like these! 

Kim from Life is a Lullaby - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest 

Christy from Stained with Style - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Bianca from Little Mommy Nest - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Tricia from The Good Mama - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest 

Heather from Krafts and Kiddos - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Tianna from Bumps to Bottles - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest 

Mel from Melly Moments - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest 

Kim from This Ole Mom - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Ashley from Taylors4you - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Gina from Money Savvy Living - Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest 

Enter below for your chance to win $250 Paypal cash! Giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only (excluding Quebec) 18 years of age and older. Please read the full rules under Terms & Conditions.

NOTE: The selected winner’s entries will be verified that each entry was successfully completed (i.e. you commented on the blog post, followed on Pinterest etc). If not, the winner will be disqualified and a new winner will be selected. Any questions, please send me an email. Good Luck!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, December 04, 2014

Family Photos

The holiday season in full swing with all the busyness going on and some of us are getting family photos done. We do family photos every year.  This year we did our photos in October, wanting to capture all the wonderful fall colors in Idaho.  We have always used  Cherly Polk Photography when we lived in California and were always over the moon about the photos we got from her. This year we moved to Boise so we had to find a new photographer.  This was a super scary step for me but we found Ashley Cates Photography. Ashley did an amazing job. The kids really liked her, which is a huge plus that can really make or break a good photo session. I would definitely recommend her if you are in this area. She had a little questionnaire she emailed out before the day of photos to make sure she really got what we were looking for, which I really liked.     

Anyhow, with that all said I have been eager to show off some of these photos but wanted to wait until I got our Christmas cards in the mail. Here is a little sneak peek at some photos we got. I hope you enjoy them and make sure to check back to see how our Christmas card turned out.

The kids always love breaking up the smiles to throw in some silly faces.  What do you do to break up the the time for kids?

We took these photos at the Boise River behind BSU. Hunter was loving walking on the rocks in the water, which sure made me nervous that he would get all wet before we got the photos done.  I just love this guys smile, its just so prefect to me. Every time we get new family photos done I always go through old photos to see the changes and it leaves me in awe every time. 

When we were walking to the bridge there was this perfect spot to stop to get a couple shots. Hailey was the first one to run in the bushes and sticks to get her photo taken.  

Weston walking across a huge tree located next to a stream.  We spent a good amount of time here because the kids were enjoying walking across this tree while giving me a panic attack. 

I love this shot. Brandon and his mini me, he is truly Weston's hero.  I really love shots with smiles but photos like this warm my heart and reminds me of just how lucky I am. 

Did you take any family photos this year? What tricks do use to get good photos with kids? My kids get to pick out a reward at the store after we are done with our photos.  What style photos do you like to capture?

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