Monday, December 21, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today, Monday December 21, 2009 - First Day of Winter

Outside my window...
sunny and cold. The grass was "crunchy" this morning when Sport took out the trash and our outdoor table and chairs have a thick layer of frost on them.

I am thinking...about craft projects I saw online last night and wish, wish, wish I had the time and supplies to get them made up for Christmas gifts this year. Can't believe I have to wait a whole year before I can get back to them!

I am thankful for...Christmas break! I had planned on homeschooling up until my parents' arrival on Wednesday. Then by the grace of God I realized the reason I wasn't enjoying Christmas this year was because I was too focused on school every night to relax and enjoy the season. So now we're taking a few days off so I can do just that.

From the learning rooms...
Even though we are on break, I'm still going to try to sneak in some math here and there for Sport. The kids have also been working furiously on homemade Christmas gifts.

From the kitchen...chicken and dumplings tonight, ravioli tomorrow and who knows for the rest of the week. Come Wednesday, I'm letting the family chef (my Dad) take over.

I am wearing...
jeans, a soft maroon ribbed turtleneck I picked up at our last swap (i.e. FREE), brown socks, and brown shoes.

I am creating...
a few last minute Christmas gifts to be finished up. Can't tell you what they are though. Someone might be snooping!

I am reading...
nothing at the moment unless you want to count my new Sneaky Chef cookbook. Will hit the books again after Christmas. Guess my Books Read In 2009 sidebar is finished for the year. I am halfway through a couple of books, but will have to wait until 2010 to add them to the list. Oh well, at least I averaged a book a month (barely).

I am hoping...the kids can control themselves today and tomorrow with all of their free time and not make me wish I had kept school going. : )

I am hearing...
Christmas music coming from the kitchen and Sport and Spice building with Lincoln Logs upstairs.

Around the house...
Looking Good! Did a quick clean up for friends who came over this morning, laundry is all caught up and even put away, Christmas lights are twinkling from every corner...maybe I should cancel school more often!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Tennis and Lego Club tomorrow, my parents' arrival on Wednesday, Spice's last minute Nutcracker Ballet themed birthday party on Sunday, and just in case that's not enough, we've got CHRISTMAS! (Which is also Hubby's birthday by the way.) A full week as usual.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...


You know all those cute Gift In A Jar mixes you read about this time of year? Well if you ever plan on giving one, plan ahead. Way Ahead. I had no idea canning jars were seasonal items until I went searching all over town for them a few weeks ago with absolutely no luck. We planned to give Cookie Mix In A Jar gifts to all of Sport's fellow book clubbers and Lego clubbers. I had enough jars on hand to take care of Book Club and thought I'd find more before Lego Club met. No such luck so an hour before our last meeting, I dug out three Pringles cans I'd saved for candle making and, in a moment of desperation (that's when I get most of my ideas), tucked bags filled with flour, sugar, and M&Ms in each one. I covered each can with wrapping paper, tied a recipe on with ribbon and viola...three cute little gifts ready to go! I love how the M&Ms show through the clear lid.

Visit Peggy for more Simple Woman's Daybook entries.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Elf on the Shelf

He's baaacckkk! Our favorite friend from the North Pole comes to visit every year around this time. We first invited the Elf on the Shelf into our home about two years ago. He arrives every year around the first of December and takes his job as a scout elf for Santa very seriously.
Here's how the elf works in a nutshell. He shows up one day in some unexpected place, like on the Christmas tree. All day long he keeps an eye on the kids, making note of behavior problems as well as good deeds. At night after everyone's asleep, he flies back to the North Pole to give a daily report to the big guy in red. The next morning, he's back in some new and unexpected location. Alvin, our elf, does seem to get his days and nights mixed up at times though. Some days we'll wake up and he'll be in the exact same location as he was the day before. Then he'll zoom off to the North Pole when no one is watching and show up again somewhere else in the house. The other day he had the bright idea of hiding in an apothecary jar. Apparently, he got stuck because he was still there the next morning, much to Spice's chagrin. I took the lid off the jar very carefully (you're not supposed to touch the elf) so he was able to make his rounds later that day while we were at church. He does do a good job of keeping the kids in line during this very exciting time of year though. Anytime a behavior problem begins to rear its ugly head, a quick reminder that Alvin is watching is usually enough to set everyone straight again.
If your family hasn't invited one of Santa's helpers into your home yet, we highly recommend it. The Elf on the Shelf works for us. For more great tips, visit We Are That Family.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY...Monday, December 7, 2009

Outside my window... it's dark except for Christmas lights twinkling here and there from neighbors' yards. I love this time of year!

I am thinking...of what I need to do to finish up Christmas gifts.

I am thankful for... friends, happy kids, and warm clothes.

I am wearing... green and white fleece pj pants, black shirt, gray and black fleece pullover, my nice and thick LSU socks. Yes, I am a mess, but I'm comfy and warm.

I am remembering...the fun of our museum trip today.

I am work on some Christmas projects as soon as I'm finished here.

I am currently reading...This Way To Christmas by Ruth Sawyer. It's actually the Dec. selection for Sport's book club, but we're all enjoying it.

I am accomplish a lot tonight...Christmas gifts, clean house, school plans for the rest of December, gifts wrapped...too much really.

I am hearing...Clothes twirling in the dryer and "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him" on the radio. I love listening to 104.7 The Fish this time of year.

On my mind...peaceful Christmas songs.

Noticing that...I'm not as prepared with my homemade gifts as I thought I was. I have plans for everyone, just very little actually made.

From the kitchen...catfish, Italian Parmesan baked fries, Sister Schubert's rolls, and salad.

Around the house...Christmas remnants everywhere from all the decorating. I hope to pack it all away tonight and call it a day on the decorating.

One of my favorite things...the giddy excitement of kids at Christmas.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Dance, Mass, Lego Club, tennis, and basketball practice tomorrow. All.In.One.Day. That should be enough for the rest of the week!

Visit Peggy's blog to read more Daybook entries.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baby's First Gift

If you have any new little ones in your family this year, consider this idea for baby's first Christmas gift: Purchase a basket or bin and fill it with some of your favorite children's books to get baby's library off to a great start.

You can buy pre-made book gift baskets online, but they are uber expensive. I hit upon this idea a few years ago and it has become one of my favorites for welcoming a new baby and one that is greatly appreciated by new parents. This is also an easy gift to plan ahead for. You've got a good 8 or 9 months to get things together right? Be on the lookout for book sales and you can put together a great gift for very little moolah. Some of my favorite places to pick up gift books are Scholastic's Book Club or warehouse sales, Target's dollar spot, and Kohl's. The Kohl's Cares For Kids program offers classic children's books in hardback for 5 bucks. Right now they are selling the Laura Numeroff series If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, If You Give A Pig A Party, If You Give a Cat A Cupcake...This is a great deal! I picked up the last few titles we didn't already own to add to our collection. You can also snag one of the stuffed animal characters to fill out your gift basket.

We also love to make homemade gifts around here. Here are links to some of our favorites:

We make a couple of these ice candles from Family Fun every year.

Spice and I have been making treasure soaps similar to these for her Little Flowers group. We put silk flowers inside.

I love these coasters! I'm making these for the kids' teachers. You would think with homeschooling we would not need teacher gifts, but that's not the case. There are church teachers, dance teachers, tennis coaches, co-op teachers... I think these make a beautiful gift without breaking the bank. One tip though that I learned the hard way: If you take on this project, use very thin coats of sealer. Don't even worry about covering the entire tile at once. Just spray a light mist, let dry and go back and hit spots you may have missed. I ruined 2 sets last night by getting the tile too saturated on the first spray. I was not a happy camper standing there watching all of my ink run together.

We Are That Family's special gift themed WFMW post has a ton of other ideas if you're just getting started on your Christmas list.