Christmas Deployment Package

My husband is deployed. So, he didn't get too much for Christmas. We'll get him some things when he gets back, but I wasn't about to ship a bunch of stuff to him that he didn't need or couldn't use. So I decided to just send him some fun things this year.
For his Christmas package I did a "12 Days of Christmas". I scoured the internet for ideas, including lists of things people usually send to military members. Here is what I came up with.

1st day of Christmas -1 game of Battleship
2nd day of Christmas -2 cans of Pringles (he likes chips)
3rd day of Christmas -3 Fiber One bars (he is on some health kick)
4th day of Christmas -4 bags of combos
5th day of Christmas -5 hot chocolate accessory sets (marshmallow snowmen, peppermint sticks...)
6th day of Christmas - a card game of Fact or Crap (there were 48 cards, so '6' x8)
7th day of Christmas -7 small bags of candy (peppermints, candy coal, and orange jelly candies since we always get oranges in our stockings)
8th day of Christmas -8 bags of popcorn (4 different flavors)
9th day of Christmas -9 hot cocoa mixes (3 different flavors)
10th day of Christmas -a pair of Christmas-y socks, so he'll have 10 comfy toes.
11th day of Christmas -11 chocolate candy canes
12th day of Christmas -a tin with 12 gourmet butter cookies in it.

I had a little room left in the box, so I sent him some chocolate pudding, a travel sized nutella (comes with little bread sticks for dipping), and a back massager (it's plastic and looks like a hand). He says he'll put out a tip jar now and offer back rubs for his buddies.


Christmas Gifts 2012

Now that Christmas is over I can show you the things I made. I didn't do too many hand made gifts this year.
For one of my nephews I made a Bapron.

For my brother, a long time trekkie, I made a Star Trek apron. I even gave him the rank of Captain (hand embroidered).



For my older daughter I knitted a ballet sweater, since she often complains of being cold in her leotards.

My youngest got a marble maze toy. I don't think he has quite figured out what it's for though. But my other kids like it.

And for my younger daughter I made an art bag. She loves having her own colored pencils and coloring book.

I also made a bunk bed fort, so my kids don't have to use their blankets to make a fort every day (I didn't make windows or put words on mine). It went up that day and hasn't come down since. Sorry I don't have a photo.


Home Organization - Playroom

For this weeks organization challenge on A Bowl Full of Lemons we are doing the playroom. I do not have a separate play room. What I do have is a large family room where all the toys have an area. We don't yet have couches for our family room, so the play area is less contained than I'd like.

I admit that these are not current photos. They were taken in the summer. But things are pretty much still like this. Every few weeks things get really bad and the kids seem to dump out every toy they own. I gather them from all over the house (where they shouldn't really be). And then we sit in the middle and sort and put away.
I have gotten rid of a bunch of toys. Everything broken, or puzzles with more than 3 missing pieces got tossed. A whole slew of toys got donated. And things got put away up in boxes in the tops of the kids' closets to be rotated with the other toys later.
The bottom photo is how it's generally supposed to look. And they do look that way about once a week or so. But it never lasts. When my kids clean up their toys it's only about 2% cleaning and 98% playing with things they just found in the mess.

The train table is rarely used for train tracks, the floor just has so much more space to lay the tracks on. The drawers under the train table house the tracks and building blocks. The stuffed animals go in an old laundry basket. All the other toys are sorted into cloth bins. Each child has a color (purple, pink, blue or green) and has their toys in their bins. They have a matching bin with their other toys up in their closets. And some of the bigger toys go in the empty spaces of the shelf, or on top of it (or the train table apparently).
And please ignore the mess by the sewing machine...I haven't gotten to organizing my craft area :)



Home Organization -Dining Room

On A Bowl Full of Lemons Home Organization 101 challenge, I am working on the dining room. I don't have a separate dining room. When we added on to our house we put the dining table into the large new family room. It makes it easier to clean I guess, with one a table and chairs to worry about.

Where the dining area used to be I put in a credenza. I bought it off Craigslist. It was a medium brown color, so I painted it and I replaced the old knobs too. It fits some of my larger kitchen gadgets and baking supplies. And the drawer on the right end is my junk drawer, so I don't have stuff piled on my kitchen counter (well, not as much stuff). For the organization challenge I decided to take advantage of the wall space and add some shelves. Now I have some more space to put things. And right now that includes Christmas decor.



Vintage pattern and fun cords


I found some fun patterned corduroy in the clearance section of my local fabric store. Well, I snapped it up and figured I'd find a pattern later. And I did. I found a vintage pattern in my collection that I thought would work great with the fabric. My 4 year old loves it. It's long sleeved too, which is great for winter, since she seems to hate wearing coats everywhere.


I've been up to some other sewing, but can't share it here since it's for Christmas. I'll have to post the projects after the big day. Only 35 days to go!

Home Organization - Mudroom

Still catching up on the Bowl Full of Lemon's Home Organization 101 challenges. This past week I did the 'mudroom'. I don't actually have a mud room, but I do have a blank wall near my front door. When we first moved in to this house I bought a storage bench thing for shoes, and some hooks for coats. It was fine when there were only 4 of us, and 2 of them were small children. Well, it's been 5 1/2 and a lot has changed. Those kids are getting bigger, and there are twice as many of them. And that means more (and bigger) shoes and coats.
So, I made a trip to Lowes and got more coat hooks. And I actually went through the pile of shoes and got rid of the ones that were too small or worn out. Now everything fits (except large boots), each person has their own coat hook. So much nicer for the entryway.



Advent Activities

Since Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I'd share something we did last year that I am planning on doing again this year. Last year I saw a cute pin on Pinterest that had an activity advent calendar. I have a cute advent calendar that my parents got us on our first Christmas:

The doors open up to reveal 24 drawers. I usually put some small candies in the drawers. But last year I decided that the kids get plenty of treats, so instead I put in activities. I figured out our calendar of events for the month and then planned activities for each of the evenings.
Here is my list of activities (in no particular order):
Go for a drive to see the Christmas lights.
Bake Christmas cookies.
Read a new Christmas story.
Make an ornament or decoration.
Watch a special Christmas movie with treats.
Permission to stay up late.
Hot chocolate made especially for you.
Today we decorate the Christmas tree.
Christmas coloring book!
Make Christmas cards.
Decorate the windows in your room.
Invite a friend over today.
Go to the library to find some new Christmas stories.
Listen to fun Christmas music!
Bundle up. We're going to the Lights of Christmas!
Learn about holidays in another culture.
Pick out food to donate to the food bank.
Make a gingerbread house.
Go to a Christmas Party
 Make a craft with Mom
Have lunch at a restaurant with our family
Wear new Christmas jammies to bed
Decorate cookies
Read the story about the birth of Jesus

I printed them in red and green and cut them apart in strips. The kids enjoyed doing different activities each night, and didn't once complain that there wasn't candy in there anymore. You can have a pdf copy of my list by downloading it HERE.


Home Organization - Kids Closets

I'm a little behind on the home organization challenge from A Bowl Full of Lemons. I guess my Pinterest challenge and Halloween and birthdays have kept me pretty busy. Anyway, the next challenge is kids closets. My kids share rooms, 2 girls in one room, 2 boys in the other. So their closets are pretty full. We also keep their dressers in there to free up floor space in room. We've been fairly organized in the past, but it was definitely time to clean it up and get things back in order.

First up the girls room:
The girls have a lot of dresses. I put up a second, lower shelf and closet rod so the younger one could reach her own clothes. That has been a good and a bad thing. I do find the dresses scattered across the floor every now and then.
The top rod has the girls' leotards, some sweaters and jackets, skirts, a couple nice shirts, and dresses and Indian suits for my oldest. The bottom has the Indian/Fijian dresses and regular dresses for my younger daughter. I separated out the long and short sleeved dresses for her.

On to the boys room.They don't have quite as much to hang up, so they have just one closet rod. They also have a box for outgrown clothes, and the hanging organizer for misc closet things.

The clothes for my 1 year old are on the left and for my 6 year old on the right. They too have their Indian suits on the ends. On top of the outgrown clothes box I also keep the extra diapers and wipes.
It's so nice to have things straightened up again.



Dress Refashion

A couple months ago I came across a pin on Pinterest that lead me to a blog about refashioning clothes. It was a 365 project. That's a lot of redoing clothes. Well, it was very inspirational. Most of the clothes were ugly thrift store finds that were turned into cute clothes. I love thrift stores and all the treasures you can find there. So, a few weeks ago when I was there I came across some dresses. They were too big for me, but I liked the patterned fabric. My oldest is always asking for skirts and things, so I decided to refashion the dresses into skirts for her.
I finally got around to doing one.

This dress was a size 17, had smocking on the back and a zipper down into the skirt part. Needless to say, it didn't fit me, but it was cute.
And here it is as a skirt. Since there was lots of fabric around, I just cut off the top, made a casing and added elastic. I kept the zipper, but with the elastic I didn't really need it, but it doesn't hurt to have it anyway.

My daughter likes longer skirts, but seeing it on her I think I might take up the hem too. So maybe I'm not quite done with it.


Halloween Food

 It's Halloween, and I made some festive foods thanks to Pinterest. Sorry I didn't remember to get a photo of this first one before I wrapped them up for travel to the school. They are just regular brownies, with some frosting decoration. My inspiration came from here.
For dinner we had some super easy to make Mummy Dogs.
And that wraps up my month of Pinterest challenge. Of course, I will still be doing more projects I've pinned, but probably not quite as often.

Bollywood Birthday

We had a Bollywood Birthday Party for my 10 year old daughter. It was a lot of fun. I made the invitations myself, and glued them on to some sparkly scrapbook paper.
Every one came dressed in colorful and sparkly clothes. We ate the traditional Indian sweets gulab jamun (the round ones) and jalebi (the spiral ones).

We also had cinnamon vanilla cake, to go with our 'sugar and spice' theme. And an ice cream sundae bar, with homemade ice cream (so it was egg-free for one of our guests). We had pink punch too.

We gave them their goody bags at the beginning. In it we put some bangles, a fancy bindi, a pink candy stick, and a sari fabric scarf (pink, orange and gold of course).

They put on the bindis and bangles, tied on the scarves, and then we started the party. We had some fake henna temporary tattoos for them to put on too. We did some Bollywood dancing once they were all dressed up. I found some clips on youtube to learn a basic dance. And I put together some song/dance numbers from various films we have. We had the movie clips playing on the tv during much of the party and the girls went back and forth watching and dancing periodically.

Here is our play list (I felt all these dance numbers were child appropriate):

Ainvayi Ainvayi from Band Baaja Baaraat
Kajrare from Bunty Aur Babli
Baawre from Luck By Chance
Desi Girl from Dostana
Zoobi Doobi from 3 Idiots
Marjaani from Billu
Dola Re Dola from Devdas
Bole Chudiyan from Khabi Kushi Khabi Ghum
Shava shava from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum
Yeh Ladka Hai Allah from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum
Saajanji Ghar Aaye from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Kangna Re from Paheli
Minnat Kare from Paheli
Nimbooda Nimbooda song from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje from Hum dil de chuke sanam
Tumse Milke Dil Ka Jo Haal from Main Hoon Na
Deewangi Deewangi from Om Shanti Om
Aaja Soniye from Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Lal Dupatta from  Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Tenu Leke from Salaam E Ishq
Salaam E Ishq from Salaam E Ishq
Radha Kaise Na Jale from Lagaan
Jai ho from Slumdog Millionare

Even though we never got around to making the barefoot sandals I don't think they missed it much. We ate, danced, and generally had fun.


Girls Activity Days

In my church, I was recently put in as an assistant leader for our Activity Days for girls. Twice a month, the 8-11 year old girls get together and do an activity, and they have a 'Faith in God' booklet with a bunch of things for them to sign off during their 4 years in the program. Sometimes the activities are just for fun, sometimes they are crafts, sometimes they are more spiritual.
Of course, once I was asked to help out I immediately went to Pinterest for ideas. I started a new board for it. Now that I am actually involved with the planning of the activities I decided to organize the ideas from the pins. I have started a word document to keep track of them, with links back to the blogs/sites I found them. Hopefully this will help us correlate with the Faith in God program and give us inspiration for our own activities and crafts, without having to go through every blog every time.


Popcorn Hands

Getting ready for my church's Trunk-or-Treat! This year we decided to make Popcorn Hands (with candy corn fingernails) to give out. There are usually less than 50 kids/teens there, so why not make a more involved treat. My kids are excited about them, so I'm sure they'll be a big hit.


Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki

I took 2 days off from pinterest, to enjoy time with my kids. And since I did 5 pinned recipes on Thursday I'm just going to let it go that I did nothing the past 2 days. Anyway, back on to the challenge. For dinner tonight I made some yummy Hawaiian Beef Teriyaki. It was great. The kids all had seconds, even my I-don't-like-pineapple child. I think we will be adding this to the regular dinner rotation.


Bake Sale

It's bake sale time at my kids' school. So I turned to pinterest to get some yummy new recipes. They all turned out great. I made popcorn balls, both plain and with candy corn (the plain ones are gluten free). Pumpkin spice cookies, both with and without chocolate chips. Caramel apple cupcakes (it's an apple cupcake with a caramel cream cheese buttercream drizzled with caramel sauce). Chocolate Truffles, rolled in sprinkles, cocoa powder, coconut, and walnuts (not all at once of course). And last, chocolate mini loaves


Pancake Tutu

It took me a while, but I finally finished making a pancake tutu for my oldest. It took a while because I get tired of sewing all those ruffles after about 2 layers, and take a week break in between. My oldest has been doing ballet for about 5 years now, and really wanted a big flat pancake tutu. I looked into buying one, but nice ones are hundreds of dollars. So then I looked on pinterest. I found a simple tutorial on Cosplay Island, complete with diagrams. I sewed 7 layers of tulle onto wide bias tape (unfolded). It fits her perfectly. I have not yet decided whether I will add a bottom/panty to it, but right now it looks great on her regular leotards.


Organizing Food

I've been working the past month or two on cleaning and organizing my house. Yesterday I got a new fridge. What a perfect time to reorganize my food. My new fridge is larger than my old one, and I'm not sure where to put things yet. So, I turned to Pinterest.

Here is a great little article, with videos, all about organizing your refrigerator.
This one from I Heart Organizing has lots of great photos and tips.
Martha Stewart has tips for using the layout of your fridge to help you eat better.
And Organizing Made Fun suggests different baskets for organizing.

Hope you enjoy reading over these articles and getting your fridge clean and organized!


Freezer Paper Stencil

This is one of the first things I pinned. I even bought freezer paper months ago to do this. I finally did it. And it wasn't too hard. What was I waiting for? So here is a great tutorial for doing freezer paper stenciling on shirts (or a onesie in my case).



I've made several desserts I found on pinterest. Last month I had half a watermelon in my fridge and made some fresh watermelon sherbet. The recipe was from What About Watermelon?, and it was delicious. A very watermelon heavy flavor, which is a good thing. It was a hit with the kids.
Another favorite dessert-type recipe of my kids is Frozen Strawberry Lemonade Slushie. They ask for it at least once a week. I admit that I love it too.
A couple days ago I tried out 2 more desserts. A basic vanilla ice cream. I usually make homemade ice cream with an ice cream maker, but this recipe doesn't need one. Interesting. And it turned out great. And I made some pink punch. I has pink lemonade, raspberry sherbet, and sprite in it. The girls at the birthday party all raved about it.
So there are my pins for today.


Halloween Costumes

I worked on some sewing projects today. Got a Halloween costume done for my oldest, and half of one done for my youngest. I did get the ideas from pinterest.
For little red, I made a half circle (took the measurement and stuff from a circle skirt tutorial). And I added a hood, made from 2 rectangles sewn together on the top and one side. For the dress I took a vogue sewing pattern that I have used before, then made a few small changes. I widened the middle section and added the lacing, and changed the princess seams so they went to her shoulders instead of armpits. I think it turned out pretty well.

For my youngest, who will be a garden gnome (because he is tiny for his age anyway), I made a simple tunic. I used a long sleeve shirt that fits him and made a pattern, adding some length to make it more of a tunic. It is just a front and back piece, the sleeves are included, not in-set. Now I just have to make him a hat, and maybe a beard and he is all set. He didn't want the belt on, or his picture taken, so this is the best I have for now. Maybe he'll be in a better mood next time.


Cinnamon Vanilla Cake

My daughter's birthday party was a 'sugar and spice' theme. So I made her a cinnamon vanilla cake,  per her request. It was delicious and all the girls loved it. I made it pink and put a henna-style peacock on it, but the sparkly gold decorators gel spread a little more than I thought it would, so it didn't look as great as I'd meant it to. Nobody minded.