Friday, November 30, 2012

Pinspiration Friday: DIY Advent Calendars

Advent Calendar or Christmas Countdown Calendars are a fun and festive way
to watch the magical day of Christmas grow nearer and nearer.

Here are some of the most adorable DIY Advent Calendar ideas from around the web.

To see more Christmas pinspiration,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Planner

'Tis the season... to lose your mind!!!  Let's be honest, the holidays are hectic - fun but hectic.  To be the perfect Santa's little helper, you need to get organized.  I put together this easy and inexpensive Christmas Planner -with {free} printables - to get all us little elves in line.  This project took less than $10 and under an hour to make.  That's right - no huge commitment to get everything in a row.  Here's what you need...
Composition Notebook
Scrapbook Paper
Glue Dots
Double-Sided Tape
Circle Punch
Paper Cutter
Permanent Marker
Distressing Ink
2 Envelopes

1.  Measure your composition notebook on your scrapbook paper.  Mine happened to be 12" exactly when unfolded.  Cut and adhere to your cover with glue dots.  Uses scissors to trim rounded edges.

2.  Attach ribbon to front of book so you can tie your organizer closed.  Measure ribbon, giving an extra 8 inches on tails from edge of book, and cut.  Use a pencil and ruler to measure the middle of your cover, placing a mark on each edge of the cover, front and back.  Place glue dots directly over pencil markings and wrap ribbon.

3.  Cut rectangles with paper cutter from scrapbook paper and adhere with double-sided tape.

4.  Create cover label and adhere.  Embellish the cover with any additional decorations you would like.  You'll notice in my finished picture I added ribbon, snowflakes and rhinestones.

5.  Use two envelopes to create Coupon and Receipt pockets.  Adhere to inside covers of planner with double-sided tape.

6.  Create tabs for your dividers.  I used five categories.  Calendar, To-Do, The List (Gifts), Menu, and Cards.  Cut scrapbook paper into 1.5"x1.5" squares and fold in half.  Label - remember to mark close to the  fold!   Figure out how many pages you want in each section.  Attach to pages using double-sided tape on the first page of each section.

7.  Using paper cutter, cut scrapbook paper to exact size of your composition notebook pages.  Mine were 5"x7".  Adhere using double-sided tape to first pages of each section.  These should overlay your tabs.

8.  Print calendar pages and additional organizing pages {below} and adhere to composition notebook pages using double-sided tape.  The additional pages include a 25 Days of Christmas organizer, Numbered Christmas Card list (so you know how many you need to buy) and menu planning sheets.

 Now get to work!!!  It's the holidays - what are you sitting around for?!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Patriotic Christmas

You may notice something a little strange about my Christmas graphics...

Last year, my husband and I decided it would be fun to theme each of our Christmases.  Our thinking was simple - make every year unique while making our lives easier.  Some may wonder how coming up with a theme would make our lives easier.  Yes, it does, in fact, create a smidge more work, but overall, having a theme simplifies and streamlines the holiday.  When you have a theme, you know what kind of wrapping paper and cards you should buy, design your tree to celebrate the theme, and decorate treats to correlate.  A theme also ensures that each year is maximized and has a unique identity.  So we sat down and made a list of great Christmas themes.  Trust me, the brainstorming was easy.  We came up with a good 20 themes, from "A Cabin Christmas" to "Whoville".  

To celebrate our first year of marriage, we did a "Christmas of Yesteryear" theme using vintage colors and styles.  We packaged gifts up in brown craft paper with raffia ribbon, handmade our cards and took 1950's themed pictures (see them here).  We also stuck to older Christmas movies and music - hello, Bing Crosby! 

This year's theme is inspired by an HGTV special I saw last year featuring the White House Christmas decorating.  I was enamored with the Blue Room's patriotic tree.  So fun to decorate with red, white and blue, but also pay homage to our servicemen and women. I instantly started brainstorming some of the projects you will see in the coming weeks.  Thus, a Patriotic Christmas was born.

Do you need another bonus?  Almost everything I craft for this Christmas can be reused for Independence Day!  Talk about double-dipping! 

I hope you enjoy the celebration with me!  Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Hangover

This year, my husband and I decided to spend Thanksgiving at home - just the two of us.  We figured we may never be able to do this again so why not have a meal to celebrate being thankful for each other.  The other thing is... I never get to host Thanksgiving and I really love to cook.  You can imagine how excited I was to plan and prepare my own dinner.  Thankfully, my husband is a good helper and we made the most fantastic meal together.

The first order of business is to get organized.  I'm notorious of taping my recipes to my cupboards.  Keeps them out of the way of spills and at eye level for me.  

Our menu for this Thanksgiving can be found in these links.

As always, the first food to tackle was the bird.
Our bird's name was Timmy.  He was a big boy.  About 20 lbs.  We really really like leftover turkey.  Plus cooked poultry is good for two weeks... so 20 lbs goes a LONG way.
Preparing the lemon and rosemary basting sauce made our house smell so nice!  We used a little extra olive oil to ensure the bird would be juicy.  Worked like magic.  The skin tasted wonderful and it was so crispy!
Here's how we cooked it.

  • Set oven to 400* F.  Let turkey roast for 45 min to an hour until brown.
  • Reduce heat to 350*F.  Baste with olive oil mixture.  Add one cup of water to bottom of pan.
  • Baste with from the bottom of the pan every 30 minutes.  Be sure to cover the entire turkey.  
  • Follow the instructions that come with your turkey regarding the length of time needed to cook.  Ours came with the little red plug, so I waited for that to pop out.
  • Once red plug pops out, or you have reached your cooking time, baste turkey one last time with olive oil mixture, add fresh lemon slices and rosemary to the pan and roast for 20 more minutes.
  • Remove from oven, tent aluminum foil and let sit for 30 minutes.

We made 18 hard-boiled eggs for Deviled Eggs.  Don't worry, we didn't eat all 36 deviled eggs ourselves!  My Deviled Eggs are made with mayo, relish, salt, and pepper - all to taste.  Start with a little of each ingredient and keep adding little portions until the taste balances out to how you like it.  Top with paprika.
 My husband and I love Brussels Sprouts.  These were so amazing that we saved the recipe to make as a regular dinner side.
Now, to be honest, we weren't crazy about the tarragon green beans.  We love cooking with tarragon but it was a bit much in this dish.  However, I suggest cutting the suggested tarragon in half or eliminating it completely.  The white wine and the green bean pairing was outstanding!
 Every dinner needs bread.
 My wonderful husband carving his first turkey.  The turkey didn't need much carving though... the meat fell right off the bone.  That's what I'm talking about!!!  So delicious.

I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving!  Onward to Christmas!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Printable Thanksgiving Place Cards

Are you setting a table for Thanksgiving?
Do you want to impress your family and guests with awesome place cards?
Have you completely run out of time?

Check out these great printables to get your table ready
in a jiffy for your guests.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday with Martha: Place Cards

Speckled Leaf Place Cards

I love place cards - even if it's just two people.
Place cards give a wonderful sense of occasion to any gathering.

Here are some of my favorite place card ideas from Martha Stewart.

Rustic Place Card

Turkey Trivia Place Card

Pom-Pom Tom Place Card

Nutshell Place Card

Chocolate Bar Place Card

For more place card ideas, check out the
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