Friday, November 30, 2012

Making Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Recently Silas and I tried our hand in making the ever so popular Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments.  This is a simple recipe, a fun and great activity to do with kids (even two year olds) and it will keep your house smelling like Christmas for days.

Here's what we used:
1 cup Applesauce
1 1/2 cups Cinnamon
Cookie Cutters
Rolling Pin
Bakers Twine or some kind of string for hanging

So first you just combine 1 cup of applesauce and 1 cup of cinnamon.  Silas loved measuring everything out and being a big helper.

Then, we mixed and mixed the two ingredients together and Silas wanted to eat it.  I'm pretty sure he took a couple of bites - this is one of the reasons we left out the glue (some recipes call for it).

After we had a good dough-ish consistency we sprinkled some of the remaining cinnamon on our counter and rolled out the dough.  Another favorite part for Silas.  I didn't worry about a certain width for the dough, I just eyeballed it since he was so into this part.

Then we just had fun using our cookie cutters and cutting out shapes.  The star was Silas' favorite.  We also used our little stamps on a few to write messages - we have several that just have the letter X since that was the stamp Silas insisted on using.  Oh, don't forget to poke your holes for hanging, we just used a straw. We just had fun, made a big mess and made something together.

We baked our ornaments at 200°F for about an hour and a half.  They still didn't seem quite as hard as I wanted so I let them sit for about a week in a nice and dry place until they were as hard as a rock.

We finished them off with a little bakers twine and then Silas thought they were cookies so he took a bite.  Needless to say he found it disgusting so one bite was all it took - these are totally inedible.  Don't worry, I gave him a real cookie to make up for it.  

I thought this was a great craft to do with small kids, we had a blast!

PS - Check out our Salt Dough Handprint Ornaments we made last year.

Thanks for stopping by today and have a wonderful weekend!!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry part of Samaritans purse that provides gifts for children in need all over the world.  You simply grab a shoebox (or similar sized box) and fill it with little gifts, hygiene supplies, candy and goodies for a boy or a girl. Its such a great ministry and one that we as a church and youth group participate in every year.  I thought it would be fun to share a little behind the scenes job that our students do every year to help this awesome ministry.

After all of the boxes our dropped off at our church we load them all up and take them over the main drop off location in our area (which is the YMCA).  We then get the privilege of packing up all of the boxes that have been dropped off to be sent away to the children.

This year we packed up 2, 800 boxes together and I think our students did it in about 30 minutes.  They were on a roll and worked so hard.  I love seeing them get excited about serving others - its such a blessing to me.

There is something really cool about packing up all of the christmas boxes knowing that a child somewhere in the big wide world will soon be opening it up and receiving a little gift from a stranger who just wanted to show a little love.  I have a friend who was a missionary in Africa who got to experience this on the other side - when the boxes were delivered.  She said it was one of the coolest experiences in her life as the kids lined up and the smiles and excitement spilled over as they each received a gift.
When we are surrounded with so much consumerism and stuff here in America its crazy how something as simple as a toothbrush, soap, a few dollar store toys, socks, candy and some crayons can be a special and exciting gift for a child.

One of great parts of this ministry is that they don't just drop off boxes and leave.  They share the story of Jesus and the Gospel.  If you have time you should read some of the stories on their website.  Stories of children who live in some of the most desolate of places who desperately want new pencils and socks so they can do better in school since education is so important to them since it provides a way out.

The time for shipping boxes this year has come to a close but there are so many ways to bless other families this christmas season.  Its not just about someone receiving a new brush but someone receiving the love of Jesus.  Pray about who you can bless this year!

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Luke 3:11

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

DIY Advent Calendar

Advent is just nearly upon us - the meaning of the term means coming or arrival.  We celebrate the joy of the birth of our Savior, the truth and power of his presence in our lives and anticipation and hope we have of Christ's return.  We did this together as a family last year and I am so looking forward to taking the time each day together to remember what this precious time of year is about to us.  We put a passage of scripture in each package to read together each day and even though Silas is just two my prayer is that these little moments are the beginning of a foundation of faith he will one day have.

So here's our little DIY Advent Calendar I made this year...


It was super easy and I used some things I found at the dollar store, some things I already had and some things I had ordered from a really sweet etsy shop.

1.  I got all of these sweet little goodies from Paper & Present on etsy.  She had great prices and great customer service!  I received my package really quick - check her shop out!
2.  I found these red and white striped treat boxes at the dollar store.  They came in packs of six and also come with round tags (which I used) and clear little baggies - which will be really cute later on for little christmas cookies and such (double score).

So I decided to do twelve red & white striped boxes and twelve black & white chevron bags - here's how I assembled them:
1. I used leftover chalkboard tags that I had made for this project (I made extra in case I ever wanted to use them for other things).
2.  I also decided to use the round tags that came in the package - I just flipped them over, used a black permanent marker and a little red & white bakers twine to pretty it up.
3. I rummaged through my paper scraps and found some red & white checkered paper to used with the chevron bags and simply wrote the numbers on them as well.  
4.  Yay!  All of my little countdown packages were coming together.  
5.  Next thing was to grab the twine and decide on how many little spots I needed to hang things on.  I simply used duct tape to keep these little guys up - I'm keeping it simple.

The last thing was to hang up my little packages with clothespins (I used both mini and regular size) and I was all done!  Now its just waiting for us to fill them up and start counting down.

I'm so excited its now christmastime, I just love every part of it.  Do any of you have advent calendars or other Christmas traditions?  Do share!!

PS: Our Advent Calendar from Last Year  - here.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cyber Monday!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Today I wanted to spread the cyber Monday love a little bit.  Today you can get 50% off anything in my etsy shop!  Just enter the coupon code: BLOG50!   


Tomorrow I will be sharing our new diy advent Calendar for this year so come back and visit!

Take Care!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

Today is all about using what you have.  Its the day before Thanksgiving and you might be thinking you want to spruce up your table a bit or add something fun but just don't have the time to really even think about it.  Its ok, I've thought about it for you.  I have a little last minute table idea I put together to share as well as some other great last minute ideas I found thats all about using what you have.

Up first is my little Thanksgiving Table...

Everything I used I found around the house.  Grab your favorite vases, some mason jars, glass bowls - whatever you have and fill it with something pretty.

I had grabbed a bag of cranberries from the grocery store a few days ago, they were on clearance so I thought why not?  We have pecans galore in our yard so I gathered up a bunch and used them.  Acorns are another great choice, pinecones, twigs, leaves even those annoying sweet gum seeds can be used (check out the pic below).  I had some lighted branches that I used but you could totally just use sticks from your yard - it would be equally as pretty.

I didn't have a table cloth that I felt like fit the Thanksgiving feel so I just used a piece of scrap burlap as a little table runner.  I grabbed some twine and yarn to wrap the silverware - simple but I liked that I could use a little bit of the deep red to tie it all together.

Candles of course are always an easy solution.  A good rule when creating a grouping of items is to always use an odd number of things - its just more pleasing to the eye.

Next up is a bunch of little ideas from other sites that I had to share - they are all last minute, super easy and use what you have...

Seriously, someone has made a sweet gum berry look chic.  I can't even get over this but I love it so much.

Use your pretty fall leaves to write on for place setters.

Pinecones, upside down glasses and pumpkins - easy and so pretty.

Another great use of something you have on hand.

I love this idea for a kids table but I think it would be totally cute for an adult table too.  PS - you can get brown paper like this at the dollar store - they sell it as mailing wrap in large rolls.  

So many cute ideas here right?  I just love using what you already have.

Just want to tell all of you how much I'm thankful for you, your encouragement, support and kind words you always give.  I love all of my bloggy friends!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dollar Store Chalkboard Ornaments

A few weeks back a came across a christmas ornament diy that I just loved from Emily at 52 Mantels.  I love to chalkboard just about anything so this was right up my ally and I'm all about adding in some black this year to our christmas decor so this was perfect!  Oh, and its cheap - score again!  So here's my take on this little chalkboard ornament.

So first thing you need is a package of plastic ornaments from the dollar store in your choice of color.  I loved the idea of red and black together so I went with that.

Since they are cheap and plastic you just use the line that runs down the middle as your tape line.  I used a wide blue painters tape and it ended up setting up perfectly for me to paint.  Oh, I also removed the little gold tops so I wouldn't get paint all over them.

I just used chalkboard spray paint because I already had some.  I ended up doing two quick coats.

After a little dry time, I had a cute little chalkboard ornament!  I liked the idea of adding a little red and white bakers twine to hang them.

Super easy, super cheap but really cute!  Love these kinds of projects!

Take care and have an amazing Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Our Weekend in Boone

We have the sweetest people in our life.  Over the weekend we had a great opportunity to get away for a few days and spend some time together as a family in Boone, NC.  We were able to go because a family at our church thought of us and gave us their timeshare that they were not using.  We felt so blessed and so thankful and gobbled up the chance to spend a few days away together.  So, thank you so much John and Teresa!

Justin and I have not had a chance to really take time to explore and enjoy the NC Mountains in forever, we have gone many times as we have taken our students on ski trips every year - but those are focused trips.  We really just wanted to take the time to relax, slow down and let Silas explore - he is so into exploring and discovering right now and this was the perfect place for him to do that!  Oh, we also got to meet up with a lot of our ASU students and have dinner with them - such a sweet time for us as we have missed them so much!

We spent a lot of our time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping at little trails and historical spots along the way.  Silas loved these little cabins or houses as he called them, walking though the woods on the trails and throwing rocks in the creek - all the things a boy loves.

We actually were able to snap a few family shots - something we haven't done in a long time and Silas actually cooperated.  We found that making a game out of the camera timer worked perfectly, at least for a little while anyway.

The next day we explored Blowing Rock.  I was actually pretty surprised that it cost $6 to enter - not that it is a ton of money but I couldn't understand what was so special about the views here - they were pretty and all but so were all of the views along the way, I guess its just the big rock?  Either way we still had fun and our friend Allison who is one of our college students at ASU got to come along with us - it was like old times.

Justin isn't the biggest fan of heights so this freaked him out a bit but, he quickly got over his fears and even let Silas take a look at the view.  

The last day we made a little drive to visit Linville Falls.  It was so beautiful but it may have been a little much for little Silas.  He hung in there but Justin had to carry him all the way down from the top - he just quit, haha (I laugh now but there was no laughing the .8 miles down the trail).  The trial was easy but I think a bit long for him.  He absolutely loved the waterfalls but once he saw them, he was done.

We took a thousand pictures, can you tell?  It was such a fun time, we enjoyed every second.  We have always considered ourselves beach people but there was something calming and peaceful about the Mountains that we enjoyed so much, so much that we have talked about when we were going to take our next visit.

The most beautiful thing to me was the night sky.  I don't know if I have ever seen such a clear and bright night sky.  You could literally see millions and millions of stars.  It honestly brought tears to my eyes as I felt so small under the vast greatness of God's creation.  His love and power was overwhelming.  I read a lot of verses that weekend about God's stars, creation and power.  I don't know if I've truly grasped the meaning of these words until this weekend.  Its really just pure awe and wonder.

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Isaiah 40:26

If you ever need to be put in your place just go take a glimpse of the night sky (especially a Mountain view one) - thats all it will take.

There is something so precious about a few days away, I cherished every moment and I'm so thankful for the chance to do it.  

Hope you guys had an amazing weekend!  Thanks for stopping by today!