Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Gift Link Up

Good Morning!  Are all you crafters busy for the holiday season?  Wouldn't it be fun if we could link up a bunch of our gift ideas and share with each other?  Last year, I hosted a 12 Weeks of Christmas link up, but with everything that's been going on lately, the time just got away from me.  So I'm looking forward to seeing what YOU are working on.

So here's your chance.

Let's Start Partying!

Link up a handmade idea for a Christmas gift, decoration or recipe.

Link back to this post as well so we can share more ideas.

Please Link Up!  I'm so excited to share with you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shutterfly Review

Remember the Shutterfly promotion I posted about last month?  Well, I just wanted to share with you all my Christmas cards.  They just arrived in the mail yesterday and I love them.  The photos came out so clear and the paper quality is incredible.  What do you think?

Family Collage Christmas Card
Heartfelt: Christmas photo cards and holiday cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

How are your Christmas preparations coming?

Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 Advent Calendar

For the past several years, I've planned out an advent calendar for the month of December.  Not your typical Advent Calendar filled with toys and candies, but an experience filled calendar with loving other people and trying new things.  Things the kids always want to do, but I push off.  So everyone day from December 1st through the 25th, we plan something fun to do with the kids.  Needless to say, this has become one of my favorite traditions.  Here's what have planned this year:

Dec 1st--Find a new Christmas puzzle to put together
Dec 2nd--Family Movie Night: Santa Claus is Comin to Town
Dec 3rd--Celebrating a family member
Dec 4th--Breakfast for dinner and invite babies/dollies to dinner
Dec 5th--Visit the retirement home
Dec 6th--Read the Christmas story and set up the nativity set
Dec 7th--Make cookies
Dec 8th--Visit a bookstore and purchase a new Christmas book to read
Dec 9th--Family Movie Night: White Christmas
Dec 10th--Drive area and see Christmas lights
Dec 11th--Carol neighbors and deliver cookies
Dec 12th--Let your light shine; how do we do this?
Dec 13th--Read books in front of the Christmas tree
Dec 14th--Make Christmas cards for teachers, SS teachers, gym teacher
Dec 15th--Print and color Christmas pictures
Dec 16th--Family Movie Night: Rudolph
Dec 17th--Lydia's birthday party; out to dinner
Dec 18th--Deliver a thoughtful gift to elderly neighbor
Dec 19th--Pray for the persecuted church
Dec 20th--Star gazing in the backyard
Dec 21st--Lydia's Birthday; her choice
Dec 22nd--Reading the Christmas story
Dec 23rd--Write letters to family members in way of gifts from kids
Dec 24th--Make a birthday card for Jesus
Dec 25th--Monkey Bread Breakfast

What traditions do you like to carry over during the holiday season?

**Linked to these Parties.

A Mixed Bag Giveaway!

Have you heard of Mixed Bag Designs?

If you haven't, you are missing out on one INCREDIBLE COMPANY.

These bags are partially made from recycled plastic and very heavy duty.  Able to hold up to 50 pounds, they are reusable, recyclable, and beautiful.

And Mixed Bag Designs doesn't just stop at bags.  They also sell travel totes, iPhone covers, iPad covers, insulated totes, cosmetic bags, lunch bags, art portfolios, and more!

Recently I was given a chance to do a review on this great company.
Among the products I reviewed where:

I have to say my favorite feature of the Weekender Tote is the zipper.  This bag is heavy duty, carries the perfect amount for the weekend or the gym, and has a super durable zipper.  Plus, it's just lots of fun.

The lunch bag was insulated and easily cleanable.  And the cosmetic bags were perfect for the essentials.

Mixed Bags has a variety of prints  Besides the damask, you can choose from:

So what about you?
Would you like to win?

Mixed Bag Designs is giving about THREE $75 certificates to anything in their store.

Curious how to win?

Mandatory Entry:

*Check out Mixed Bag Designs and leave a comment with your favorite print.


Additional Entries:

*Follow Mixed Bag Designs on Facebook

*Follow Creative2xmom on Facebook

*Follow Creative2xmom on Twitter

Leave me a separate comment for each!

Comments will close 12 am PST on Dec 5th.
Winner will be announced Dec 6th.

Good luck to all the entrants!

*Disclaimer: I received these items for free from Mixed Bag Designs for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

**Linked to these Parties.

Monday Muddle

Hey guys,

How was your weekend?  How was Thanksgiving?  Did you list all the things you have to be thankful for?  Isn't it amazing once you start making a list?  It truly is overwhelming how blessed we are.

This photo was taken a few weeks ago when I cooked a turkey at home.  It just cracked both my husband and myself that she wanted the whole turkey leg.  Didn't do too bad either.  We postponed Thanksgiving at our house this week.  My husband had to work both the night before and of Thanksgiving.  So we waited one more day and went down to my sister-in-law's on Friday.  Wow!  There was a lot of food.We took our famous Pumpkin Pie Cake and I was secretly hoping no one would like it.  I just wanted to bring home leftovers.  But no such luck.

The kids ran around with their aunts and uncles and the dogs for two days while my husband and I enjoyed a chance to sit down for longer than two seconds.  Back home for Sunday since my husband was preaching and yesterday seemed to fly by.  After nap, the kids and the hubby put up Christmas lights out front.  I stayed safely inside.  

Our week is starting out with a bang of getting back into routine.  School's back in and I actually really miss having the kids at home.  Gymnastics and dance recitals this afternoon.  Small group tonight.  And birthday and Christmas planning the rest of the week.  December is promising to be full.

What about you?  How was your week?  Any snow where you are?

Here's our Menu this week:
Oatmeal and fruit
Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Green salads
String cheese, fruit, carrots, homemade hummus

Monday: Split pea soup, rolls
Tuesday: Korean Beef Soft Tacos
Wednesday: Potato soup, salad
Thursday: Chili and cornbread
Friday-Saturday: home for memorial service
Sunday: Leftovers

Projects I'm working on this week:
Scrapbooking beach pictures
Plan 2-3 games
Start pinata
Print coloring books, necklace pictures, hats,
Work on prayer books
Work on chore cards
Make 6 sets of hair bows

Posts coming up this week:
Holiday decor and tutorial
Writer's Workshop
Easy Advent Calendar Idea

A Great Giveaway!

and a...

Homemade Christmas Gift Link Up!

Join us Thursday, Dec 1st for a link up featuring your best homemade Christmas gift posts!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Round-Up of Thanksgiving Recipes

Beauty and Bedlam is sharing how she makes her mashed potatoes ahead in the crockpot.

Keeper of the Home shares her ideas for Gluten Free Holiday Entertaining.

Make and Takes shares her best ideas for making mashed potatoes.  Lots of good tips here.

Living Locurto has 7 Turkey Treats for Thanksgiving.

And don't forget to check out these Creative2xmom favorites:

Easy Holiday Appetizers
Thanksgiving Blog Hop 2010
Turkey Pesto Sliders
Creative Leftover Turkey Ideas

Monday, November 21, 2011

After the turkey's consumed...

Ok, quick trivia question: What takes 6 hours to prepare and 30 minutes to consume?  Oh, yeah, and it makes you want to "Gobble, Gobble" when you're done?

Need a hint?

If you guessed Thanksgiving dinner, then you're right.  We spend all day in the kitchen lovingly preparing a feast for our family and friends, only to have it consumed in minutes.  So how do we spend the rest of our evening celebrating?   In a turkey coma on the couch?  Here are some ways to spend quality time after the Thanksgiving meal.

1. Grab your sister-in-law and clean up the kitchen, giving the cooks a break.

2. Hold the baby so the new mom can enjoy some adult conversation.

3. Take the kids for a walk around the neighborhood.

4. Play a game of Rummy.  Or whatever card game your family enjoys.

5. Savor the girl talk at the dinner table.  When else can you send the kids outside and catch up?

6. Take out that game of Monopoly.  Here's your chance to finish in one sitting.

7. Check out the football game.  Even if you're not a regular watcher, spend time cheering on the team with your husband.

8. Create a Thankful Chain with family.

10. Have a face to face conversation.  Turn off Facebook, Twitter, and text and have a real conversation with the people you're thankful for.

How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving?

Monday Muddle

Lydia and Daddy taking a nap!

Hey guys,
Sorry this is late.  I've been having so much fun with my kids today, time just got away from me.  How was your weekend?

We had a fun-filled, quick, high and low weekend that took us all over town.  We just finished reading a child's version of Pollyanna so our family movie night on Friday night was Disney's Pollyanna.  I love going back to all those old Disney movies and watching them with my kids.  And surprisingly my boy gets into them just as much as my girl.  Throw in some popcorn and you've got the perfect end to a busy week.

I hit the gym hard on Saturday morning.  I've been trying to start my New Year's resolution early.  My workouts are going great, but with the return of comfort food, the nutrition portion is definitely lacking.  We generally eat pretty healthy, but I just love food.  Anyone have ideas for self-control in the food department?

Lydia attending a Tangled party on Saturday at her best friend's house and the rest of the weekend was filled with church, staff meeting, cleaning, cooking, and all the usual parenting.  It's amazing to me that we're already rolling into another week.  But a fun week.  I love having the kids at home so I've tried to plan some fun stuff for them as well.  Some new recipes to make together, a few crafts, and lots of food.

What do you have planned this week?

Here's our menu this week:

Pumpkin Crunch Muffins
French Toast Waffles
Pumpkin Pancakes 
Cereal and fruit
Oatmeal and bananas

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sammies
Tomato Soup
Beans and Cornbread
Green Salads
Fruit, Veggies, and String Cheese

Monday: Sloppy Joe's
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: Hamburgers
Thursday: (postponing Thanksgiving) Fried Rice, Potstickers
Friday: (Our Thanksgiving) taking: Pumpkin Pie Cake, Hominey Casserole, Cranberry Applesauce, Rolls
Saturday: at my Sister In Law's
Sunday: Pasta E Fagoili

Molasses cookies
Soft Pumpkin cookies
Garlic Hummus
Chocolate Chip cookie Dough Fudge

Projects I'm working on this week:
Finish Thank You cards
Read 1 book
Paint Christmas ornaments
Scrap 4th of July photos

Posts coming up this week:



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Great Deals and Giveaways

There's some great deals and giveaways going on right now.  Check them out quick!

*Life in a Shoe is giving away a gift certificate to New Creation Apparel.  They have some beautiful skirts I'd love to purchase.  Which is your favorite?

*Today is the last day to save an extra 20% at Vision Forum.  Just inter the code ALLEXTRA20 at checkout and receive $5 flat shipping as well.

*Beauty and Bedlam is giving away a $100 gift certificate to Dayspring.  They have some great items on sale and clearance.  Check it out!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Printable and Banner

and had to share.

Chore Training

At the age of 6 and nearly 4, my children are growing fast.  And it just recently became apparently to me that they're capable of much more than I give them credit for.  It's funny how I hear stories of things they're doing at school or other people's houses and realize that they could be doing the same things at home.  But from day to day, they're just my babies.

But when you're just getting started, how do you get from babies to helpers?  We can't just hand them the broom and hope for the best.  We'll just be frustrating ourselves and setting our children up for failure.  So how do we get started?

We have a pattern in ministry that applies the same in our house: I do, you watch; I do, you help; You do, I help; You do, I watch.  Let's break it down.

*I do, you watch-- When my kids are first introduced to a new chore, I don't expect them to have any clue what I'm asking of them.  And they don't.  You'd be amazed at some of the questions they ask if given the chance.  They have no idea where to start.  So I'll take them aside and we'll go through it, step by step, sometimes half-step by half-step.

*I do, you help-- The next step is to go through the chore again with my child, having them help me where they can.  This brings up more questions.  Sometimes I remember details I had forgotten before and it's a new training again.

*You do, I help-- Then I'll ask the kids to complete a chore and I'll stay alongside them in case they need any help.  Sometimes they need a little reminder of where the spray is kept or how much food to give the cat.  And I'm close by helping to make sure they're learning.

*You do, I watch-- Finally, the kids take charge of their own chores.  Oh, I'm still close by to answer questions, but this time, I might be in the kitchen getting supper ready or helping a younger kid make their bed.  This is the step where they really take ownership of the chore.

A few things to keep in mind as you embark on this journey:
*Be encouraging.  Encouragement will go a long way in seeing the end result.
*Remember to work alongside your kids in the training period.
*Kid work won't produce adult results.  Understand that your children are still children and it won't look like you did the job.  But that's ok.  Keep at it, be encouraging, and one day you will have worked yourself out of a job.
*Inspect what you expect.  After your child has completed a chore, make sure you check the results.  It is kid work, but it shouldn't be half-done.

What about you?  How are you implementing chores in your home?

Seven Wonders of My World

The Seven Wonders of My World:

A Ukrainian Sunset

The Joy of Mud

A Little Orphan's Smile

The Catacombs

St. Stephans Dom

Sawyer's Glacier

Our Sacramento Youth Group

And the bonus eighth:

My kids, of course!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tomato Soup Bar

Fall has become my favorite time of year.  Not only are the leaves changing, but the weather is perfect for afternoon walks and outdoor fires.  There's something sweetly nostalgic about this time of year where the world slows down, families gather over popcorn and puzzles, and the earth prepares to rest.  

With the blustery weather, our meals change too.  Back in August, I was trying to prepare an exhaustive list of my family's favorite meals.  My husband and I put our heads together, but no matter how hard we tried, our thoughts kept turning to warm soups and stews. And this is one of our favorite's: Pioneer Woman's Sherried Tomato Soup.  It's quick, rich, and a thousand times better than Campbell's.  Think you don't like Tomato Soup?  Think again!  You'll love it!

Last fall while my husband was working nights, the kids and I started a new tradition for Tomato Soup night.  We made a Tomato Soup Bar.  What's that?  You start by whipping up a batch of your favorite tomato soup.  And then you serve with it a full array of tasty toppings.  Pictured here, we have cheddar cheese and crispy goldfish crackers.  Some other favorites have included fresh Parmesan, soda crackers, and scallions.  Other ideas would be:

Jalapeno peppers (I'm dying to try this one)
sour cream
fresh basil
crunchy onions
roasted garlic
toasted biscotti

I hope you'll enjoy this quick, fun dinner as much as we do.  Happy Soup Season!

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading

Monday Muddle

Hi guys,
How was your weekend?  Where you able to rest and relax?  Or did you find yourself getting lots of projects done?

My two little ones had a three day weekend since Friday was Veteran's Day so it feels like our weekend started forever ago.  We spent Friday running around and doing the stuff the kids always want to do: putting together puzzles, reading books, and going to the local museum.  They've been asking to go there for awhile so it was fun for us all to check out the exhibits together.

I spent part of the weekend cleaning out the deep freeze so Friday night was cooked a big turkey dinner. I love how yummy the whole house smells when there's a turkey in the oven.  And I especially love all the meat we get off afterwards for enchiladas, soups, and casseroles.  Definitely one of my biggest money savers on meat.

The rest of the weekend was typical family stuff.  We tried to get a family picture on Sunday after church, but with two little kids, I'm sure you can guess how that went.  Every shot great, except of a tongue sticking out here or a set of closed eyes there.  This is my favorite:

What do you think?  Stick with it or try again?

We have a little friend staying with us for a few days so I'm getting a taste of being Mama to Three.  We'll see how it goes.  :-)  Off and running for now.  Gymnastics and Discipleship Group tonight so have tons to do.  How was your weekend?

Our Menu this week:
Pumpkin Crunch Muffins
Oatmeal and fruit
Smoothies and toast
Baked Oatmeal

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sammies
Cinnamon Apple Wraps
Turkey Quesadillas
Green salads
Veggies, fruit, and dips

Monday: Turkey and Rice soup
Tuesday: Tortellini and green salad
Wednesday: Taco salad
Thursday: Grilled cheese sammies, tomato soup
Friday: homemade pizza
Saturday: Shepard's pie
Sunday: meeting, kids at sitter's

Projects I'm working on this week:
Scrap 4 pages
Read one book
Finish canning apples
2 backdrops for party games
Make Thank You cards with Noah

Living Close To God When You're Not Good At It {Review}

Living Close To God When You're Not Good At It follows the journey author Gene Edwards took in searching the face of God.  A young Edwards rose quickly to fame as a well-known author and pastor, only to turn around one day and realize he didn't know God himself.  It was in this moment that he knew he had to pursue a personal relationship with the Creator or risk loosing his passion for the kingdom.  But where to begin?

Edwards begins to seek out God beyond the basics of Bible reading and prayer, and desires to move his search into the moment by moment of his life.  Although he values reading and prayer, he makes mention several times that it just wasn't enough.  It left him dry and restless.  There had to be more for a common man.

While the book does go on to offer several practical tips in searching out God, I found it be very repetitive.  Edwards mentions repeatedly what a common man he is, almost as if the convince the reader of the practically of his methods.  He also notes repeatedly that the information he sought out before was written by people who were more spiritual than him and that he's writing this book for the spiritually inept.  But the sad truth is that he gets so caught up in sweeping statements that he lost this reader.

Certainly there were nuggets of truth in this book.  Suggestions that offered some redeeming take away.   However, the book as a whole was full of generalizations and repetition.  I quickly lost interest.  Sorry, Edwards.  You're going to have to go back to the drafts on this one.

*Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book for review.  All opinions are mine.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lee's To Do List

I'm getting ready to change the "Resources I'm Currently Lovin'" section on the home page.  But there's some great resources here so I want to bookmark them for you so you don't miss out.  Enjoy!

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