Saturday, December 25, 2010

If you are celebrating ....

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and that the last two days have been a wonderful time with family and friends  =)

We have had a wonderful holiday at our house and the last two days are just a reminder of how much I love this season and time. And although things have been very busy and there were times I just felt like I couldn't catch my breath, it really truly has been worth it. We've had such a lovely time. I think it's been made extra lovely knowing that we would have lovely time even without all the stuff and the extras.

Anyway, have a lovely weekend everyone =)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time ...

Time is positively not on my side these days! There's just too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it all! But, I am trying to remember to breath, to enjoy this season because it's supposed to be fun! And it is. It's just that it can also be stressful and full of a lot of to-do lists that are just impossible to finish, unless I decided to skip sleeping until December 26. And well, I might push the limits of staying up very late, but I can't give up sleep altogether =)

Anyway, things aren't going all that badly, but as each day passes, I worry about the projects left to finish. And a few things I've changed just knowing time is short. (Seriously, I think for next year I will have to start December 26 this year LOL!) But really, things are pretty good and after changing a few things, I'm not as nervous as I was a few days ago. And today, I got a massage. And that helps. A lot! I think I absolutely need to get a massage every single December. Well, okay, maybe every month ;-)

Also, this month I joined a photo class (not so much a class as a prompt a day to help inspire you to take photos) and I'm loving it! It's over at Big Picture Classes and I'm loving it. It's called Picture the Holidays. I think I will also sign up Picture Winter - which is similar. I do also wish I could take this Mastering Manual Mode class too - however, that's not quite in the cards for me yet! (And no, I'm not a paid spokesperson, I am just really enjoying the class so far!) I'm going to be posting my pictures here I hope - but I always say I'll share, and then never remember to do so. I hope not this time. Some of the pictures I'm actually proud of ;-)

Also, my baby turned 5 on Saturday. This led to a lot of excitement and happiness in our house. But, me, I'm a bit sad too. Because he's growing so big and independent. And while I love all of that - I truly truly do! I'm not above admitting that it is kind of a bit sad to be needed less. Although I'm not sure I really am, I am just needed in a different way I suppose and I am having a hard time transitioning. The kids, though, they are fine with it all!

It seems like a blink of an eye he's gone from little baby to a big boy

Happy birthday my little booga boy =)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

77Kids winner!

So using, I've picked the winner ....

The number 6 entry is

sarah said...
Because I am and my first link didn't work I added another wish for you! (honestly for all my friends but you are included in that)
Congrats to Sarah on winning the 77Kids giveaway!

And a big thanks to all who entered! =)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Some Lovely Soap ...

Look what arrived in my mailbox a few days ago:


Can you tell what's in there? {Also, note, it's not wrapped in plastic, which makes me smile lots!} Anyway, it's a lovely bar of soap from my friend over at Nothing But Soap. Sent me some lavender soap and I love it!


I love how it smells (nice, but not strong, which is good because strong smelling products and I are not a good mix LOL!).

Her etsy shop is full of lots of great soaps and a few extras! You can get a lovely little gift set

I know December is ticking by (and going faster every day!) but I think this would be a great teacher gift or a nice stocking stuffer. Or you know, you could get one and send it to your favorite blogger ;-) And there is still time to order some. And then, order some for you too. Because I know you've worked hard this holiday season getting everything all set so you could use a little bit of pampering =)

Anyway, head on over to Nothing But Soap and check it out. =)

*Disclosure: I was given this bar of soap by my friend. I decided to share it with you. I am not being compensated for this and all opinions are my own. =)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Chicago Toy & Game Fair

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win some tickets to the Chicago Toy & Game Fair over at Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy. So we got all ready and headed into the city to go have some fun!


And let me tell you, if you get the chance to go next year, you should , because we had so much fun! There are so many toys and games to try out and get to play with. The kids were constantly dragging us from one spot to another. The girls and I were able to play the new Monopoly game, which, I thought for sure I wouldn't like it with the electronic banker and all that, but I did!


Life-sized Wobble was a big hit - the little man actually put the game on his Christmas list!


My 8 year old had a BLAST doing some challenges and wanted to keep getting more! It was cute.


We met some of the Star Wars characters - which all the kids loved seeing (although the little man only admired them from afar).


I think, though, for our 3 kids, the biggest hit was definitely by far the Geppetto's Toy Box booth, which had tons and tons of Citiblocs. And oh my. I think we could have stayed there for hours building. The kids think these blocks are awesome and amazing.



I can't lie, these are on at least 2 (maybe all 3) of the kids wish lists. These blocks stack super high (we saw several towers over 5 ft.) And they are easy enough for my 4 year old to use, but fun enough that my 11 year old wanted to build with them too! Crazy. And fun. And that makes them perfect!

Anyway, we had a great time, and I think we will do our best to get back there next year! Thanks again Lisa for giving us the chance to go! =)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Family Photos

So Sunday we headed out to get some family pictures done! And so I thought I'd pretty them up a bit and share.  Enjoy =)

My Project 4-001

My Project 4-002

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there (well, at least in the US today!) =) I hope today was a great day for you and you were able to spend it with people you love.

And a huge thank you to those of you who keep coming back to read my ramblings. I know it seems cheesy, but I really do mean it!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

77Kids Wish4Snow!!

This summer, my family and I had such a great time working with 77Kids on Do Good Day, so when I was contacted to get to work with them again, of course I enthusiastically answered YES!

So this Saturday the girls and I headed on over to Woodfield to see our brand new 77kids Store (Yay! I'm so happy we are getting a 77kids by us! Also, based on what we bought, so are my kids!).

The store was well thought out and well planned out I thought. It seemed to me a stroller could get through most aisles (although I didn't have one to test that out). Right from the front window, the kids were able to "race" skiers down the hill!

Rounded edges on boxes and soft surfaces where they could put them

The girls dressing room door - possibly my 11 year old's favorite part of the store, has an opening so I could look in and see her trying stuff on without her having to walk out in front of other shoppers!
IMG_6196  IMG_6210
(and yes, we did buy that cardigan and cute shirt for her!)

My 8 year old's favorite part - the picture maker where she took and decorated (on screen) several pictures! The kids can then hang them up in the store or take them home. We left some there and brought some home - so fun!

There is even a bathroom and water fountain in teh store - and although my 4 year old wasn't with us, that water fountain would make the trip so much bearable. He's always thirsty and always wants water. So, I think they kind of thought of everything. LOL!

But, as with this summer, 77kids is doing more than just selling clothes. They are raising money for Children's Memorial Hospital! If you donate 77 cents (or more) you get a snowflake to hang up in the store.

Both my girls decided to donate a dollar and got to hang up their snowflake wish! But wait! There's more (why yes, that is my infomercial voice coming out! LOL!)

Can't get to the store? No problem, you can create a snowflake on like. If we can all go on and create 100,000 snowflakes, our hospital will get a $25,000 donations! We've already made a couple at our house to try to get the count up (just a bit ago it was at 6,484 so we need to get going on our snowflakes!!).

It's so easy, and each day you make a snowflake you are entered to win a 77kids giftcard through the site. In addition to that I'm having a giveaway too!

You can win a $50.00 77kids giftcard here! To enter all you have to do is create a snowflake at 77kids' Wish4Snow site! After you make your snowflake, come back and let me know what you wished for and the e-mail address you registered with! {With this info I can go and see all of your beautiful snowflakes! Yay!}

Make 10 snowflakes? Come back and tell me 10 times! Make 20 snowflakes, come back 20 times!

After making a snowflake, you can earn another entry by following  77kids on twitter. Just follow them, then come back here and let me know you did (and your twitter name just in case I'm not following you already, I can start!)

After all of that, head on over and like 77kids on facebook for another entry!

With all your entries, please make sure I have a way to contact you (e-mail/twitter/etc) so I can contact you if you win! You'll have 24 hours to respond with your mailing address so we can get your giftcard shipped out to you!  The contest will run through midnight, Saturday December 4!

The snowflakes are really fun to make and you can get your kids involved too! They can create some and leave some wishes for the world. My oldest wished for peace and my 8yo wished for a place for every kid to live safely! I think this can be a great way to give back all while having fun!

Not a requirement (and no extra entries), but I'd love it if you'd share this with your readers, facebook friends, and twitter followers - let's get to 100,000 snowflakes so that Children's Memorial can get the $25,000 donation because that's really the most important thing here!

* Disclosure: I was compensated by TheMotherhood and 77Kids to participate in this promotion and host the giveaway. As always, all opinions expressed are purely mine =) 

Comments closed as contest is now over! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Handmade Holidays

If you've been reading my blog through out the years, you will know that handmade holidays is very dear to my heart.

For the last 3 years as it gets close to Christmas, I sit down and plan on making as many gifts as I can for my family and friends. This year I actually started planning in January! (Although I didn't get a lot of making done until more recently!).

There is something special to me about sitting down and trying to find the perfect thing to make for people, locate patterns/directions/etc or create my own, and all during the process thinking about the person it's going to. Some years, I get some hints (like last year when my mom told my children to tell me she really wanted some hand knit socks for Christmas!).

Now, I haven't successfully figured out how to make something for every single person we give to - and I do know it's special to go out and pick out the most perfect gift, and yet, it is different when you are making it. That isn't mean to lessen the giving of store bought gifts at all - they are just as special, but it's just different. (and since we are on the topic of buying, I do try hard to buy items that have also been handmade, even if not by me! Thanks to craft shows, ebay, etsy and artfire, it's not only fun to see all the wonderful things other are creating but easy to purchase things!)

The first year I made a large portion of my gifts, I admit I was nervous. All crafters have learned that not everyone is not, well, as excited to receive handmade gifts as others. And while no one makes gifts in order to have thanks and praise and compliments lavished upon them, no one makes (or for that matter buys) a gift where the person receiving it kind of gives you "really, that's all" look or worse yet "what in the world is this and why did you give it to me" look. But my fears have been (so far) unfounded. I've learned most of my family and friends not only enjoy getting something handmade but love it. {That said, there are some people who have said things in the past that make me think they won't appreciate it and to save all of us, I have not ever attempted to make them something. Because I genuinely want people to like what we gift them and I don't have enough time to do it all myself!) And in the case of my mom, when they haven't yet receive something handmade, they let me know they would like to!

And that's all lovely and I'm glad that everyone likes getting handmade, but still, I have doubts - are they saying it to be nice. Did they really like it, etc, etc. But this year, this year, all my doubts have been erased. Because not that long ago my 11 year old, in conversation that actually wasn't about the holidays or handmade gifts specifically, said that although she gets lots of great things every year from people, but her favorite gifts are the ones I make for her. And to add to that, both my girls (11 and 8) are planning on making a lot of their gifts this year. Now, I've never made them make things. And have offered to help when they talk about making something here or there, but this is the first year they have tried to do a handmade holiday themselves. And I can't tell you how much that warms my heart. =)

This post is being entered in the Artfire: Win a Canon Rebel XS Digital SLR Camera contest. If you have handmade holiday story or plan to share, I encourage you to go over and enter too - but be quick, the contest ends tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Random Stuff

For lack of much to write about, I'll share some random notes with you all!

*I finished all the Harry Potter books. Definitely worth the re-read. There's so much I forgot from them, especially teh earlier books. Today I start watching all the movies!

*I bought all our tickets for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 already and am going tomorrow at midnight. Yes, I'm very excited. Yes, I'm a nerd and I might be wearing a Harry Potter shirt because, well, I can LOL!

*I've been knitting away like mad, but can't show you any pictures until after Christmas! Maybe I'll try to do some sneak peek shots if I can.

*My oldest has discovered sewing and is loving it. She's working on her second bag as I type! Very fun! And I'm glad she is enjoying it!

*My 8yo also took a sewing class and loves it too - not into it as much as 10yo though. Which is fabulous too. As long as she's happy, I'm happy ;-)

*Craft Day Saturday was fabulous! Another one is coming up in December. If it goes as well, I will definitely make this a regular occurrence! I think more people need days like that, so if you can host one, I think you should! =)

Okay, that's a good summary of what's going on around these parts for now. Watch for some fun news on Saturday - and a GREAT give-away if I do say so myself is coming up! Yay!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What a week.

It's been quite the week around here. Mostly because of some majorly raging hormones on my part. Which sucks for my family and well, anyone who has to talk to me! Someday I will have to write more about that, but for now just know this week had some highs and lows.

Thankfully, yesterday it all seemed to go back to normal. Just in time too. Because last night I got to go out to dinner with Kim and Tracey! And if you don't know them, go check out their blogs when you are done reading here, because these two ladies are wonderful and fabulous! And can I just tell you how awesome it was to get out of the house and chat with them?

In some fun news, Kim is house-hunting and starting a new vlog series that I think is awesome! It's called Property Sluts (but don't worry, it's less tame than it sounds!) and I think you should watch it. Tracey was talking about how she got her tickets to Blogher (umm, why yes, I am jealous!) but still has to cover airfare, so you know, feel free to sponsor her should you be looking for an awesome person! =) Other than that we just chit-chatted. I kept interrupting (completely unintended too, I swear, I really am not a horribly rude person I think I was just overcome with joy about getting to talk to adults! At a restaurant! With no kids around!) And dinner was just yum too (we ended up going to Sweet Tomatoes - and oh my. It was my first time and I hope I get the chance to go back soon!) Also, I got something fun to bring home and try out, and should I like it, I'll tell you all about it soon!

In some other fun news, tomorrow I'm going to host a craft day here. Just a few ladies are coming over. I have one planned for December too. I hope they go well, this I something I'd like to do every month or at least every-other month. Because it is much more fun to make things with company then without company. So hopefully I'll have some fun reports about that to share with everyone.

Speaking of stuff coming up - I do have one very exciting thing coming up that I can't wait to share and talk about. And then one warning, there are some really awesome give-away's going around (in time for holidays I guess?) that require some blog posts about them. I promise not to turn the blog into post after post, but a few are too sweet to pass up, and at least one of them will extend the prize to anyone who comments on the winner's post.

Aside from that, just working away on making things. And reading. And trying to keep the house a little bit clean. And needing to feed everyone ;-) Hope you all have a great weekend! =)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reading and knitting ...

Knitting and reading.

It's a lot of what I've been doing lately.


I'm working on Holiday gifts for people. And can I just take a moment to say how well it's been going? I have one project finished completely. And several more in progress. Which is good because usually I freak out around Thanksgiving and start working hard then! I think I much prefer starting now ;-)

And I've been re-reading the Harry Potter books. I was determined to reread them all again before seeing the new movie coming next week (why yes, I did already buy my tickets). It might have made more sense to watch all the movies? Well, I might do that too - it's not ruled out yet ;-)

Anyway, I started last Thursday with book 1. Which has been really fun. I received books 1-3 at my oldest daughter's first Christmas. She's 11. I read them right away - she was only 2ish months old then and we did a lot of nursing. So I read while we nursed. And fell in love. The rest of the books I all bought when they were first released (the last 3 I got at midnight!) and read them all within 24 hours. I hadn't touched any of them since the initial reading. There's so much I just forgot! It's very nice to read them all back-to-back too. Of course now I'll really be able to spot what the movie is leaving out (and oh, how the movies left so much of all of them out!). So I'm about to start book 6 - which I think means I will be able to finish all of them before the movie. (Also, here's where I point out that I am a naturally fast reader. And also that my husband rocks and almost all I did this weekend was literally knit and read! He gets me and knew that was important to me!)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Happy Birthday

My oldest daughter turned 11 at the end of last month.

{Side note: I swear she was just born yesterday. How the heck did she ever get to be 11 years old? It just goes by so incredibly fast!}

Anyway, we started talking cakes, oh, a month before her birthday. And then illness hit our house. On her actual birthday both husband and I spent most of the day in bed. Luckily, a good friend took all 3 kids over to her house, where they made a nice cake for her. (and yes, I do have incredibly wonderful friends!).

Last week we had her make-up birthday. And so she got the cake she requested.



Which let me tell you - that cake took some time to make, but she loved it and best of all - she helped me with it. Which made the cake that much sweeter.

But her birthday wasn't full of completely sweet moments. Oh no. You see my kids are huge fans of Cake Boss. They watch it whenever they can (and yes, we have it our netflix instant queue list as well LOL!). In one episode, Buddy mentions that in the bakery, they like to shove cake into people's faces on thier birthday (I believe in this episode they get one of his sisters). We watched that episode several months ago and the oldest mentioned it looked fun and could we do it on her birthday to her.

Strange request. I know. But her birthday came and went and no cake ended up smashed on her face. And her make-up birthday came and almost went. But right before bedtime I did some sneaky-sneaking and went to my bedroom with a frosted cupcake in hand. I asked the hubs to please call her up. And when she came into our room - wham-o. Cupcake in her face.

And you know what happened? She laughed and giggled. And smiled and LOVED it.


And now, my other daughter and her both request we repeat on the next round of birthdays ;-)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sneak Peak ..

One of the projects started for Christmas ... can't give too much away, but aren't these fun fabrics?

Hmmm ...  wonder what it will end up being? Me too! Nope. Just kidding. I know, but I can't tell you yet! LOL!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Well, a few days late anyway! We had a great Halloween ourselves. First I must show off the costumes.

First up is my little firefighter:


While the original plan was to make his costume for him, we ended up running out to buy this so he wouldn't be the only kid at school not in a costume because mom got sick and couldn't finish sewing on time. If he didn't need it Friday morning, I might have been able to finish, but once we bought this, the pressure was off. One less costume to worry about - which given last week, was a-okay!!

Next up, my 50's girl:



Seriously though, I think the glasses are absolutely the cutest part of her costume. I was able to make her poodle skirt. Luckily for us, the white shirt we owned the sweater came from Goodwill. Here's the close-up (kind of) of the skirt:


I learned while making this I really don't like applique that much. But it wasn't that horrible. I might try to avoid it if I can in the future though! LOL!

Anyway, last, but not least, my 80's girl (for the record, I tried to convince the boy to go as a 60/70's hippy, but he didn't want to. I thought it would be funny to have 50s, 60/70s, and 80s though LOL!)



I thought her costume turned out so cute - and it was super easy. The only thing I "had" to do was put the tulle on the bottom of the skirt. The jacket and skirt came from Goodwill. We bought the leggings and everything else we had. Awesome. And cute. She and two of her friends all dressed as 80's girls and they went out trick-or-treating together and so if you asked her she would say her night was absolutely perfect!

She also wins child with most candy at our house ... look at this loot (but don't try taking any, she's very protective of her candy LOL!)


Monday, November 01, 2010

Uneventful week

So about a week and a half ago, I started to get sick. I didn't think much of it, probably just a little cold. No biggie.
Except, within 3 days it had completely kicked my butt about all I could do was lay and cough. And cough and sleep. So that's pretty much how I spent almost every day last week - except Friday. Which made for quite some week - considering when it started, Halloween costumes weren't finished and my oldest turned 11 on Thursday.
Anyway, that's why I was so quiet around here. But here's hoping we are done with illness in this house. So far this fall, my oldest had pneumonia, my youngest's asthma has gone nutso, my middle had whooping cough and bronchitis, I had bornchitis and my hubs had some virus. Seriously, isn't that enough to last several years at least?


See, that's my kitchen counter right now - look at all those meds! Insane. But, at least we're keeping our closest drug store in business ;-)

A (belated) winner!

I have a winner to announce on my Wendy's gift card give-away!

I used to pick a number, and it turned out to be number 1 - Overflow of a Forgiven Soul, who left this comment

I would take my 18 yr old brother. I know that sounds funny, but with the age difference (16 years) we never got to know each other much. We just lost our Mom (His natural, my step-Mother of 31 yrs) and now more than ever I am looking for ways to reach out to him and get to know him better. We need each other more than we ever did before it seems. 
 Which I do understand (there are 12 and 14 years between myself and my two sisters). I am very sorry for their recent loss and while I know one lunch together can't heal that pain, I do hope they have a great lunch with each other!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Christmas Crafting has begun ...


Close-up of sign:


And I've warned everyone, if you see your present in progress, it's not your present anymore. (And no, this is not my only line of protection!)

What? Halloween? Umm, yeah, I'm working on that too. I still have 7 days LOL!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New lens ...

Earlier this year I was generously gifted an amazon gift card - for which I was very grateful for but struggled to spend it (because I'm strange and I've always had trouble spending gift cards often because I have too many things on my wish list and can't figure out just what to get LOL!)

But last week I read this over at Joyful Abode and kind of fell in love with the idea of her new camera lens. So I hemmed and hawed. And hawed and hemmed. And then I ordered the camera lens =)


And I love it. I've been wanting an actual macro lens for a while now (and was this close to purchasing one this summer, but held off because it just felt like too much to spend with our vacation and everything else). But I think this will be a nice filler. I can get closer with this lens than I can with my other lens. And so it will keep me happy for a while!


(Just a fun spur of the moment pic I took with it to see how it does with little things. Not bad I'd say!) I imagine next spring/summer, I will have a blast photographing flowers and other such summery things with this lens. Not that I plan on not using it until then - oh no. I will be playing and testing it out.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A new scarf!

So, here's the thing. I love scarves. I have several of them already. I wear them all the time - and when it's just a bit chilly out, I'll often wear a scarf even if I don't need a coat. I guess I must really like my neck warm!

Anyway, earlier this year, I had a chance to visit Galena Log Cabins and visit with their alpacas (which yes, was indeed fabulous!) While we were there I did purchase some alpaca yarn, because well, it was a special trip and it was nice splurge! It didn't take me too long to start knitting it up - but it did take forever for me to finish knitting it up! Well, last week, I finally finished it. And, dare I say, I think I have a new favorite scarf =)


I was able to wear it out already and had some nice compliments on it. Which I don't expect, but always love to hear!


The pattern is called Silver Bells and I found it at Ravelry!


And I love it. And I'm so glad I'll have a new scarf for this winter =)


P.S. Don't forget about my Wendy's gift card give-away over here!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yummy lunch (and a giveaway!)

Yesterday, courtesy of Wendy's and theMotherhood, I was able to get out of the house for a little bit and eat lunch with some very wonderful people. And I can't lie. It's always nice for me to get out and get to talk to other adults face-to-face!

Anyway, Wendy's is launching it's new pick 2 menu!

(*note: I copied and paste this image from here)

Basically you get to pick from one of four salads and then an extra side for 4.99. If you ask me, not a bad deal at all. I picked the very delicious Apple Pecan Salad

based on a recommendation from a friend who had recently eaten one. And I have to say, she was right. You can tell by looking - it's not just some iceburg lettuce shredded and thrown in there - it's so much better! It was delish. So good in fact, one little 4 year old kept "stealing" bites of it! And I admit, it's very hard for me to be annoyed at my child for stealing salad!


In addition to my salad, I also picked the baked potato, which was yummy too! Someone else ordered the chili, and oh my, it looked really good to me. Secretly, I wanted to pick the frosty, but thought mutiny might ensue from the children should they realize a frosty was a part of my lunch. So I went with the potato. And wouldn't you know it, they all ended up with frosty's anyway when they finished eating their lunches!

As if the food wasn't enough, I also got to talk to some very lovely people and finally get a chance to see Tracey - because we've been talking about getting together forever (okay, for maybe 6 weeks now) and it was so nice to finally get to see her!


In addition to see Tracey and her lovely family, I also got to chat with Michelle, Weasel Momma, Emily, Paula, Lydia, and several other very lovely people! I wish we had more time to chat truthfully because I could have done that all day. Alas, my children couldn't and they let me know exactly when it was time to return home LOL!

So lunch out with friends is so great. And Wendy's new Pick 2 menu is so great, I have TWO $7.00 gift cards to give to you so that you and a friend can go and try out the Pick 2 menu at Wendy's! Just leave me a comment - tell me who you would take to lunch with you. (Make sure you leave an e-mail address so I can contact you). That's it. You have until Tuesday, October 26th at midnight to enter. I'll pick one winner (only open to those with a US address though!)

Disclosure: I am working with The Motherhood and Wendy's. My lunch and my friend's lunch was paid for and I was paid a monetary stipend for participating. All opinions, however, are my very own!

*Closing comments as give-away is now over!