Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Little touches of Christmas!

The day after Thanksgiving, I traditionally get out the Christmas decorations! It is always a lot of fun to get the boxes out and cozy up the house!

But, this year - I wondered if I should really get much out? I mean, we are leaving December 7th for the rest of the month to go to Colorado. And, does it make sense to get a bunch of decorations out only to have to put them all back when we get home on Jan. 1? No.

However, I am such a lover of all things Christmas and cozy and getting the house all fixed up for this season - that I knew I could not do nothing.

So, I began to look for ways to make the most of what we have out everyday and add little Christmas touches to those things. We're going without a tree - but I did have David get out the Christmas decoration boxes and I picked a very few things to get out.

Are you traveling for Christmas? Here are my ideas for adding Christmas to your home in a very short time and with only a few things from your stash of decorations!

* Christmas books and magazines!

Let their cover artwork provide lots of color and a festive touch for an instant display!
Current and past issues grouped together will provide a lot of Christmas cheer!

* Glass and Fabric Covered Balls!

Giving Thanks hurricanes are filled seasonally and I love keeping these out all the time! A few ornaments really went a long way in these jars that are on my kitchen counter.

Thankful for His Grace vase is instantly transformed when holding glass ornament balls.
Again, this takes about two minutes, but adds sparkle and ambiance immediately!

* Mini Wreaths!

I think these were my favorite touch this year! And, finding mini wreaths is so simple!
Look for napkin rings, candle rings or small wreath ornaments on the after-Christmas sales for a sweet simple way to dress up candle sticks, lay in jars or tie on to vases or candle holders.

* Something for the front door!

I typically get free greens at Lowe's to spruce up my front door - but saw these festive ice skates in my Christmas box already decorated. Again, all the time this took was to walk from the box to the door and hang!

* Something for your table!

I got out a table runner and my Advent Wreath - instant and yet,
lots of impact for just getting out these two things!

* Candles!

I have several little electric candle lights that I love to use year-around!
And, I recently was able to get these with a DaySpring gift code that I got when we sponsored our two new Compassion children.

* A couple of bigger items for higher impact!

One or two bigger things when grouped with the everyday
things will make a bigger impact than little things of course!

A pillow, a couple of trees and an angel are quick and pretty!

* Yummy smells!

Make something that adds to the Christmas smell or use
scented candles if you can in your home.

Make a cup of hot tea or simmer some mulling spices.

* Christmas Music!

* Christmas words on chalkboards!

The idea is that even though I did not want to get all my things out - I did not want to be deprived of everything Christmas! I wanted to get into the spirit of things and enjoy this cozy time of year in my home. Each area just looks lightly touched by Christmas which is just enough to sparkle and it won't take a lot of time or energy! It's amazing what you can do with one hour and a few goodies!

How do you handle your decor when traveling this time of year?

Monday, November 29, 2010


Nearly 700 comments later, I am excited to announce all the winners! Thanks again for making it such a fun giveaway extravaganza!

Princess Party Cookbook
: Lisa @ Simply Things Family

The King's Christmas List: Lady Dorothy @ Daffodil Dreams and Angel @ Angel Navy Wife

Kid's Flag Page: Jessica @ My Heart for Home

The Other Side of Organized: Susan B and Dawn @ Jeremy & Dawn Note: All of your comments about needing organization were so compelling, I decided to throw my review copy in to give a second one of you a chance to win!

Half Pint House Handmade Tea Take-Alongs: Jenny @ jennibek

A Christmas Prayer: Dorcas @ raunandme

Savvycents Wallet: topped in with the most comments! Goes to: Melissa @ isayamen

Jesus Calling books: Tracy @ btcassel

DaySpring Studio Photo Cards: Katie @ Blessed Femininity

Putting God Back in the Holidays: Ami @ Lessons from the Hills

Congratulations to all the winners! I have one more giveaway coming up on Wednesday!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks for joining the fun!

Wow - what a fun day! I've received over 350 comments today! It was so fun to see all of you coming back all day and it was really fun to put all of this together. Thanks to all the companies who generously sponsored these giveaways!

Giveaways are open until 9pm EST tomorrow (Nov. 27) night!

Giveaway: Princess Party Cookbook

Would you like to win a copy of the Princess Party Cookbook? Including over 100 recipes and ideas for princess parties!

I received this book as a review copy and it is really for older girls than mine - so I'm offering it up here for giveaway! Hope one of you will enjoy it or giving it as a gift!

Please leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. Comments will be accepted until November 27 at 9pm EST.

Disclosure: I received this book as a review item, there was no requirement on my part to post a review of the book and when I realized it was for older girls - I decided to pass it on to someone else. Enjoy!

Giveaway: King's Christmas List

Another book from Tommy Nelson, The King's Christmas List challenges our children to think about how to give back to Him at Christmas instead of getting more toys and presents.

Oops - I thought it was going to work to put a little flipbook preview of this book here, but it did not - so here is the link to preview some of the book!

Visit The King's Adventure website here.

Two winners will be chosen to receive copies of this book - please leave a comment on this post telling me what your family does to give back during the Christmas season!

Comments will be accepted until Saturday, November 27 at 9pm.

Disclosure: I received a copy of The King's Christmas List for review/giveaway here. Images and information were provided by Tommy Nelson publishers.

Giveaway: Kids Flag Page

Another item I received at the Relevant Conference was the Kids Flag Page game put out by Family Matters.

From the Family Matters website:

The Kids Flag Page is a fun way for moms and dads to interact with their kids and truly discover the heart of each child—who God created them to be. When you follow the simple, step-by-step instructions to complete your child’s Flag Page and read the information in the accompanying book, you will:
  • Discover the way God uniquely hardwired your children individually and how to best relate to them.
  • Find the six key things that motivate your child
  • Find out what your children love most about life.
  • Connect to the heart of your child.
  • Learn the do's and don’ts of how to motivate, encourage, discipline and help each child succeed in life.
  • Learn how to raise your kids in the power of God’s grace.
  • Discover how to bring the best out of your strong-willed kids.

Built in study questions make the Kids Flag Page a great tool to not only use on your kids, but to study together with your friends.

This colorful and engaging activity will help kids see who they are at their very best. The Kids Flag Page gives parents direction on how to bring out the best in each of their children.


I'm excited about this opportunity of learning more about the ways that God wired and gifted each of them. This tool is recommended for ages 6-11. Since my oldest has just turned six, I'm going to hang on to this and use it when they are a bit older. I think we would all get more out of it!

I love this kind of thing and I think we all agree that each of our children are equipped differently! So, it will be such a blessing to know how to encourage them and more about who they are!

The Kids Flag Page includes:

  • Game Board
  • Instruction Booklet
  • 36 Trait Game Cards
  • 4 Countries of the World Chart
  • Kids Flag Page Book by Dr. Tim Kimmel
  • Supplies for 3 Kids Flag Pages
    • Score Cards
    • Stickers

Here's the great news - one of you can win the Kids Flag Page! Please leave a comment letting me know why you're interested in this and a winner will be chosen through Random Number Generator.

Comments will be accepted until Saturday, November 27 at 9pm EST.

Disclosure: I received a Kids Flag Page for free in exchange for sharing it here with you. The photos I shared are from the Family Matters website and most of the info is straight from their site. Any opinion expressed is my own.

Giveaway: Organizing Book

From Amazon:

Organizing is about more than just finding a place for everything. It's about finding a level of order that's comfortable for you, discovering places and people that renew your energy, and being organized enough to feel balanced. In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life's details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.


Does the fact that I haven't even finished this book indicate that I am not very organized?! I love the concept of being organized enough - each of us has our own comfort level of what organized enough means to us. With our own set of circumstances and our own lives - this will look different for each one.

As indicated by the photo artwork, the book is divided into categories mirroring the four seasons - Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Each section is easy to read and encourages and challenges us in looking at our ideals or goals and think about how our choices are feeding or harming those things.

Preview Chapter One of the book here.

Would you like to win a copy? Leave a comment on this post before Saturday, November 27 at 9pm EST - open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Other Side of Organized for review purposes here. Image above is from the author's website and text as noted is from Amazon.com. Any opinion shared is my own.

Giveaway: Half Pint House Handmade

My friend, Megan, is at it again! Sewing all kinds of goodies just in time for Christmas! She sent me a package of fun zippies and my very own hot chocolate pocket - how fun! Next time my girlfriends and I are out at Ruby Tuesday's - and they don't have anything decaf that isn't coffee, I'll be able to whip out my very own hot chocolate!! Or, I could refill my tea take-along with decaf tea as well, ahem.

Look how cute this is?!

Tea Take-Alongs (a great teacher gift!)

Hot Chocolate Pocket

Zippy Bags

Megan is giving three tea wallets away to one winner - to enter, just leave a comment on this post! Comments will be accepted until November 27 at 9pm EST.

Just in case you don't win - Megan is offering 15% off everything in her shop - just use discount code HOMESPUN15! This code is good for the next two days only!

Disclosure: Megan sent me four zippy bags and a hot chocolate pocket because she is my friend. I am telling you about them because I am her friend. Photos are hers - opinions are mine.

Giveaway: Tommy Nelson A Christmas Prayer

I recently received a copy of A Christmas Prayer from Tommy Nelson to review.

From the publisher:

This is a precious storybook for little ones 2-5 that tells the Christmas story through the character’s in a typical household nativity set. The child in the story offers prayers of thanks and blessing for each of the characters as he wanders through his house on a snowy Christmas night. It has interactive dialogue and soothing rhyme so your child can repeat the prayers and wind down for bedtime. Would be great as an advent tradition – to read with your little ones before bed in the nights before Christmas and learn about each member of the Nativity scene.

Here are the things I love about this book:

* It's sturdy! This is a board book intended for younger hands! And, these are always a winner in my book because I know they will last so much longer!

* It is interactive. The child in this story is thankful for each one of the characters of the nativity and he uses simple toys from his own home to set out the story at home! This would make a great activity for us to do with our children! Just to give them the idea and show them that using their own toys (not having to buy a separate thing to do this!) we can "act" out the nativity story together.

* My girls like it! They saw it on my nightstand and snatched it quickly - running off to look at it. It has been fun to see them enjoy it!

* It has a great message - offering thanks for each part of the story, showing how each piece contributes to the whole. We can instill great truths through these thoughts.

Go here for a closer look via flip book.

Want to win a copy?

Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win one copy of A Christmas Prayer!
Comments will be accepted until Saturday, November 27 at 9pm EST.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of A Christmas Prayer from Tommy Nelson Publishing to review here. Thoughts about the book are my own, image is from the flip book site. Winner will receive a copy of the book courtesy of Tommy Nelson Publishing.

Giveaway: Savvycents Wallet

I've been trying really hard to do cash for a number of categories in our budget. Sometime this past year, I knew I needed envelopes in my wallet to help me with this!

So, I made really super cute envelopes from heavy duty scrapbook paper. And, I loved their cuteness and how they were helping me!

Now, fast forward a number of months and this is what my wallet looked like:

Ahem - these envelopes weren't really serving me much anymore because coins just rolled right out - and my wallet never closed because of the bulk of these envelopes.

When I saw a review for the Savvycents Wallet on Megan's blog I *really* wanted to win. I did not win - but while at Relevant, Megan suggested I offer to do a review/giveaway in exchange for a wallet!

Great idea! Melinda of Savvycents graciously sent me this black wallet:

And, I am serious - everything that was in the former wallet is in that wallet in my hand - YES - even in the photo. Can you believe that?! Soooooo much better!

Now, I've had it a few weeks and it still looks that slim and it is working great!! There are slots for your cash and they are even subdivided so that you can have coins or multiple subsections under one category. Like under Personal - I have a section for myself and one for our children.

I also love that Melinda is from South Carolina and is a stay-at-home mom to three!

I love it and I am so thrilled to get to offer one to one of you as well! One winner will be able to choose a black or pink wallet! Look at the inside of it here.

Please leave a comment on this post to be entered in the drawing! Entries will be accepted until Saturday, November 27 at 9pm EST.

Disclosure: I received a Savvycents Wallet for free in exchange for sharing about it here. The above photos and opinions are my own. Winner will receive a wallet courtesy of Savvycents.

Giveaway: Thomas Nelson Jesus Calling

Have you heard of this book yet?

I had heard of it - but hadn't had a chance to look at one or
really even understand the idea of the book. Until, Relevant!

As attendees, we were each given a copy of this book and I found myself reading it even that weekend. I have stuck with this and been using it for my devotions each morning.

And, I love it!

I'm not usually too big on devotional books - because I don't want a book to take place of when I would be reading the Bible. But, in this case - it has pointed me to the Bible.

There is a devotion for each day of the year, read that day's thoughts and then there are 2-4 Scripture references to look up that go with that day.

From the Amazon description:

"After many years of writing in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to "listen" to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she believed He was saying to her. It was awkward at first, but gradually her journaling changed from monologue to dialogue. She knew her writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping her grow closer to God. Others were blessed as she shared her writings, until people all over the world were using her messages. They are written from Jesus’ point of view, thus the title Jesus Calling. It is Sarah’s fervent prayer that our Savior may bless you with His presence and His peace in ever deeper measure."

I give this book my highest recommendation - I have learned and been challenged so much by it already in only one month of reading it.

And, guess what? It comes in a childrens' version as well:

How great would it be to have something like this in your family that you can be reading as parents and then reading to your children in words that are written for them at their level?

This book is set up the same way as the adult version - with 365 daily entries and Scripture references to look up at the end of each entry.

I've read this with my own children a few times, but I think it would be best when they are a bit older. I believe that I read it was geared towards age 8 and over. I still love the idea and am definitely saving this for my own family!

Would you like to take a closer look? You can download two weeks of devotions here for free!

One last thing - you may have noticed the I'm a Tommy Mommy badge on my sidebar. This just means that I will receive books to review on my blog from Tommy Nelson Publishers and have the opportunity to share them through giveaway with you! I hope you will enjoy learning about new books and having the opportunity to win also.

Speaking of winning - today I am giving away one set of Jesus Calling books.
One winner will receive both books!

To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post:
* have you ever heard of this book?
* tell me why you love Jesus Calling!
* or, tell me who you would give this to or how you would use it in your own home!

This giveaway will be open until Saturday, November 27 at 9pm EST.
Winner will be announced after that.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of each of these books from Thomas Nelson/Tommy Nelson Publishers. The thoughts expressed on these books are my own. Winner will receive complimentary copies of each book courtesy of Thomas Nelson/Tommy Nelson Publishers. Images are from the Tommy Nelson site.

Giveaway: Dayspring Studio 50 Photo Cards

With Thanksgiving just past, if you are like me - you are now in Christmas mode! How about winning 50 free photo cards to jump start your Christmas card writing?! I had so much fun browsing the many fun designs available at Studio DaySpring!

This is the design I ended up ordering for our cards. They came quickly and are great quality!
I am really excited about having these this year -
I always admire the photo cards everyone sends out!

Another thing I love about these cards is the great messages they include. I'm one who loves to share the reason why we are celebrating Christmas in my cards and these make it so easy and cute to do so!

To enter this giveaway for 50 flat photo cards plus envelopes, please visit the Studio DaySpring website and tell me what your favorite design is!

For a second entry, design and send a card to an unsponsored child as part of the card basket that DaySpring and Compassion are compiling to send to children without sponsors this Christmas. Leave a second comment on this post for your entry.

This giveaway will be open until Saturday, November 27 at 9pm EST. Winners will be announced after that time.

Disclosure: I received 50 free photo cards from Dayspring in exchange for sharing my thoughts with you. All opinion expressed is my own, family photo is mine, DaySpring card images are from their studio website.

Giveaway: Putting God Back in the Holidays

I recently received a review copy of Putting God Back in the Holidays from Moody Publishers. And, I get to give one away as well!!

I've really enjoyed flipping through this book and exploring different sections. The book is divided into six basic sections: New Years, Birthdays, Good Friday and Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Other Holidays.

Each section can stand alone and you can use this as a great tool to reference the upcoming holidays in your own home. I also love that there is a section on spiritual birthdays!

I know that lots of you would really enjoy this book - wish I could give each of you one! But, if you would like to enter for the one copy that I can give away, please just leave a comment on this post.

Comments will be accepted until November 27 at 9pm.

Disclosure: I received two copies of Putting God Back in the Holidays from Moody Publishers to read and share about here. I will be mailing the winners copy to them, but it is provided courtesy of Moody. Opinion expressed is my own.

Giveaway Day!

Welcome to a fun day of giveaways! Items for giveaway will post every two hours, from 4am-10pm keep coming back for a new chance to win.

All giveaways will close tomorrow (Saturday, November 27) at 9pm EST. Winners will be announced early next week.

Have fun!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you all have a wonderful time with family and friends
celebrating the many blessings of God!

I'll be taking most of this week off from my blog -
but come back on Friday, because I have a whole day of giveaways lined up!

Giveaways will be posted every two hours from 6am-10pm!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Cindy is the winner of the paper dolls from Noble Rose Press - have a great weekend, everyone!

Play Dough Pumpkins

Just in case you are not totally overdosed on Thanksgiving ideas - here is one that I made the night before Thanksgiving last year when frantically looking for a fun idea for my girls. Here's what I wrote that night:

It's the night before Thanksgiving 2009 - and I was inspired by this recipe for Pumpkin Pie Playdough! However, I looked all around and did not have just the right thing to package it in, so I wondered what else I could come up with.

I used my Mom's recipe for homemade playdough and added some cinnamon -

1 c. flour (I used whole wheat because I had some very old ww flour in the freezer to use up!)
1/2 c. salt
2 T. oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar (I used baking powder because I didn't have any crm. of tartar!)
1 c. water
sprinkle of cinnamon
food coloring

Pour oil in the pan first. Then, add all other ingredients. Turn burner on high. Mix together all ingredients. Turn burner to low and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool slightly and knead.

Store covered in refrigerator.

I made a batch of orange and a batch with no color - then used the brown for the stem (no color) and added some green to make the leaves. These will be greeting my little ladies at Thanksgiving breakfast tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Homespun Thanksgiving for Children

I have had a lot of fun putting together a bunch of ideas to make this a fun, thrifty and yes, homespun Thanksgiving that is a delight to our children! Today, I'm going to bring it all together into one big idea post with a few bonus ideas you have not seen yet!

I've already shared that I am hoping to have our Thanksgiving outside, but this could easily be adapted to indoors if the weather is not cooperative or it is too cold where you live!

Create a simple snack area for the children who will be at your dinner - I chose these snacks because they are healthy, not too filling and things my children like! Plus, none of these things is expensive or time consuming!

Create a cozy reading area where you can snuggle up and read books about Thanksgiving!

Provide projects and/or Thanksgiving-themed games and ideas for them to enjoy!

Make a meaningful favor to put at each of their plates:

And, set your table with whimsy, color and fun to delight your children! Note - we did not move our table outside to take these photos! You'll have to visualize that we are planning it for outside! And, I know someone will ask - I found the plates at Hobby Lobby for about $2 a package.

Table runner directions here. Turkey centerpiece directions here.

Make these cute turkeys on a stick that will be a yummy treat after they've done their decorating duty! This is a modified idea I saw in Southern Living last Fall.

Start with these ingredients and some lollipop sticks - I had these wooden ones on hand from one time that I tried to make caramel apples and it was a horrible flop. Anyway, unwrap the moon pies and poke the sticks in.

Next, place icing in the spots for the eyes and beak. Use a mini oreo for the eyes - just remove one of the cookie halves and place a mini chocolate chip inside his eye. And, use a candy corn for the beak.

Now, put a line of frosting across the top of the moon pie for the turkey feathers - broken pieces of candy corn work the best for this part! They are quirky and that is perfect!

Place on a baking sheet and freeze so the icing will set quickly. You could use them as table decorations, or wrap in a cellophane bag like this:

Simple placemats are made out of sheets of scrapbook paper. Just choose one 12x12 piece for each placemat! I flipped the paper over and drew little boxes for each child to trace their hand, write their name and draw a picture of something they are thankful for! Make sure to write the year on it and you'll have a sweet and simple (and small!) item to place in their memory book or memory box.

I really wanted little chalkboards for the name tags - but that was going to cost more than I was willing to spend, so I found these tags that I painted with chalkboard paint (already on hand).

Now, for the fun part - Noble Rose Press is hosting a giveaway and giving one of you Collection 3 from their Daughters of His Story paper dolls! Collection 3 includes Priscilla Mullins and Pocahontas - both perfect for including in your Thanksgiving celebrations!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. For a second entry, you can "like" Noble Rose Press on Facebook! Please be sure to come back here and leave a second comment if you do this! Their paper doll collections are on sale for $10 right now! I can't wait to be able to order some of their new things that just came out - I love the work that sisters Emily Rose and Breezy Brookshire have put into these and the heart behind them.

If you order any of their collections, please leave a comment for your third entry!

This giveaway will be open until Saturday night (November 20) at 9pm EST. Winner will be chosen via random number generator and announced after that!

Happy Thanksgiving!
May God bless your efforts to bless and delight your children!
And, above all - may He be glorified and praised!