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  • Carving Pumpkins

    Everybody knows that carving pumpkins is a solid, fall tradition. What used to be strictly a Halloween decoration has turned into a fun, and even competitive family and friends activity that lots of people are getting in on. Just take a look at Facebook and you'll undoubtedly have at least one friend who is hosting their own family-friendly competition!

    If you are already into this tradition or just hopping on board, I thought I'd show you some examples to get the ball rolling for this year's soiree. Of course there is no replacement for your own imagination, so use these "templates" as a starting point and branch out....have some fun....be wild with your pumpkins! Some have been known to even pull out the power tools!

    A FRIENDLY FACE!

    friendly-face-pumpkin-l

     

    EXPRESSIVE!

    fun-pumpkin-eyes-l

     

     

    SILHOUETTE

    kitty-pumpkin-l

     

     

    FALL LEAVES

    2249201_Carve_049

     

     

    SOUTH CAROLINA STATE FLAG!

    south-carolina-pumpkin-l

     

     

    MESSAGE ON A PUMPKIN

    spooky-word-pumpkin-l

     

     

    STARRY STARRY NIGHT?

    starry-night-pumpkin-l

     

     

    READY TO PAINT THE TOWN ORANGE!

    tux-pumpkin-l

     

     

    I don't know about you, but I think we're heading to the pumpkin patch this year and having some fun!

    Photo credit:  www.southernliving.com

  • Elf on the Shelf Ornaments

    Elf-on-the-Shelf-Ideas-09There are some trends that seem to stick around longer than you'd like, but Elf on the Shelf just is NOT one of those! With his innocent, adorable and yet mischievous nature, there is something about this trend that makes nearly everyone smile.

    We have shared some very cute ideas with you on how to incorporate this growing tradition, and I just love this one. Hang it from the bathroom light fixture so his cute little greeting will be seen by even the sleepiest eyes. For more ideas just check out the pictures here.

    _elf-on-the--the-shelf_v2KOAs you can see, having more than one of these little guys around makes the fun even grander. That's why I want to share with you the Bucilla Elf on the Shelf Ornament Kit. Hang these on your tree or place in strategic places. It makes for a very fun game because you never know where this red suit is going to show up.

    The kit is available on the Merry Stockings website right now, too. Each of the ornaments measures about 5", and of course just like all the other Bucilla kits, comes with everything you  need to complete your project.

    Photo credit

  • Staying Lean at Christmas

    health coachThe plan today was to finish up our series on Christmas Traditions in other parts of the world. However, I had a meeting this morning with Melissa, my health coach, and now my mind and heart are reeling from our talk . . . so much so that I'm having a hard time thinking about anything else! I do love switching things up around here, so here we are, discussing staying lean at Christmas!

    Melissa and I were talking specifically about my journey and what is next on our long list of things to work on, and maybe sometime I'll share some specifics about that. But for today, this whole process I'm in got me thinking too about the holidays and weight gain and the aftermath of all that. For a couple years now I have been a part of a Facebook group whose goal is to maintain our healthy habits throughout the holidays without deprivation. Say what?

    snowmenIt seems almost impossible what with all the extra sugary treats, rich foods, parties to go to, cookie exchanges, etc. to emerge none worse for the wear.  And, even tho some studies show that we, on average, gain only about 1 pound over the Christmas holiday, so often momentum that was hard won prior to the holidays is lost, and that takes much longer to recover.  I'm going to share with you some of the things I have learned, both through that group and from my health coach that can help to avert that crisis.

    We_Can_Do_It!

    Keep that momentum going while still enjoying the most wonderful time of the year! Here's how:

    1. Set your mind. Once we set our minds to accomplish something, to do something, to be something, it is often very difficult to change, good or bad! Decide ahead of time what you want, what you really want. You don't want extra pounds in January, right? You don't want a foggy brain or an energy sap, right? Then, adjust your plans. Decide. Then, when it comes time to make choices at the party or the family dinner or the cookie table at work, you'll intuitively know what will and what won't serve you best.
    2. Maintain your healthy diet and exercise regimen. Many people use the holidays as an excuse to take a holiday from how they know they should eat. The trick is turning that "shoulda" into something that you want to do. Once you find what's right for you and your body and you don't feel deprived, stick with it. You will enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas far more and feel so much better about yourself. And, who knows, your good habits may just rub off.
    3. Go for a walk. After that family dinner, enlist others to go for a walk. I know I know, sometimes all you wanna do is lay on the couch. But, just a short 20  minute walk about 15 minutes after eating a large meal burns more calories, plus aids your digestion. It doesn't even have to be a fast walk. Take a stroll in the snow or at the park or wherever you want.
    4. Choose your indulgences wisely. Some people decide ahead of time they'll enjoy just one very decadent treat, so that means they are constantly on the lookout for what that'll be. Once you find it, have a small piece, or even just a bite. Often that's all our taste buds really need to feel satisfied.

    I am not a health coach or a personal trainer or anything like that. I'm just a person who strives every day for good health. And, I'm wondering why it should be any different at Christmas. :)

    Have a happy, healthy holiday!

    Photo credit:  Tape measure, Snowmen, We Can Do It

  • Gifts for Grandma

    Simplifying our lives is a growing trend in today's hurry-up world. We do it for a variety of reasons but mostly the result is a lot less stress to deal with. Saying you are simplifying is another way of saying you are downsizing, and t's not easy for a lot of us to let go. A lot of grandmas are in the downsizing phase of life. and, tough as it is, they know that it just makes so much sense. Because of that, sometimes it can be difficult to know what to give Grandma for Mother's Day, her birthday, Christmas or other occasions.

    I'm not a grandma yet, but I know one of my all time favorite gifts from my sons are current photos, and my own mother was forever asking for photos when the boys were growing up. I've become a real sucker for photos that feature 3 or 4 generations of women. Or men. I've seen so many ideas on how this can be done.....faces, hands, eyes only, walking down a path holding hands, the ideas are really endless.

    Here a couple of examples I found to get the ball rolling. There isn't a mom or a grandma alive that wouldn't love the sentimentality of images like this. Put one or many in old looking but nice frames, and you have a very lovely gift for grandma.

    hands generatoins

    Hands

    black and white generations

    Black and White

     

    men generations

    Formal

     

    men generations 2

    Menfolk

    another hands

    So Sweet!

    And, if the generations simply cannot get together for these lovely photos, something like this will most definitely warm her heart!!

    a hug for grandma

    Hug

  • A Mother's Favorite Ornament

    Have you ever seen photos from the past posted on Facebook on Thursdays with the hashtag #TBT? TBT stands for throw back Thursday, and it's quickly becoming a big trend! It is so much fun to see old pictures of friends and family, and I decided to get in on the fun recently. I pulled out some old photos when the boys were little and even some when I was little. Time slipped away quickly as I couldn't take my eyes off my incredible sons . . . and how I want to do something special with these photos. I'll put some of them up for #TBT, but was looking for a more permanent way to enjoy them.

    photo ornamentIsn't this lovely?! I think this is one Christmas ornament that any mom would have hanging up year round. I was thinking how fun it would be to have some that feature all of my sons, some that feature each son individually, and then some that feature our family together!

    I think what I'd do is make nice black and white or sepia colored copies of the photos, arranged in a collage. If you are looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift OR a Christmas gift for the mom who seems to have everything or never has any suggestions for you, I think you've just found it.

    I know of no mom who wouldn't just adore an ornament/gift like this. Just follow this tutorial, and give your mom something she will defintely, always and forever cherish.

  • An Old Fashioned Christmas | Free Activities!

    old fashionedBeginning in April, I started a series of posts around the idea of re-creating an old fashioned Christmas. We decorated vintage style, we spent more time with the ones we love, and we resurrected some very old fashioned Christmas treats.

    This week, I'm wrapping up the series talking about spending less money. I know, not very sexy is it? But, we're learning some really neat stuff about setting a budget and making our own gifts. Those are both becoming very chic these days!

    Today it's all about free activities. Not everything needs to cost money even though sometimes it feels like it just does. And, we accept it often without even questioning, and reason "Well, it's Christmas, not the time to skimp." Let's talk about that for a minute.

    Remember those camping trips you took when the kids were little? Remember the rain? The mud? The close quarters? The fire that wouldn't start? The noises in the night? Haha, me too. And, when we get back home we're so happy for our warm, dry beds, for the hot shower, and all the comforts that home brings. But, I venture to say you still talk about those camping trips just like I do, often with lots of now-hilarious stories and laughter as if it were the best. vacation. ever.  Lotsa stuff went wrong and yet here we are, still talking about it. Funny, huh?

    family

    Truth is, spending time doing the simple things often produces some of our best ever memories. We can pack our Christmas holiday with so much busyness that we end up irritated OR we can back off of the merry-go-round and plan some simple free things to do together.  We have a cupboard full of table games that gets added to every year. We can spends hours and hours together playing the latest and greatest game that just came out or the oldest one in the drawer, doesn't much matter.

    Or, how about puzzles? Jigsaw puzzles are great because you can really talk!

    Snuggle up on the couch and watch a favorite movie, pop some popcorn, or go for a walk.

    The list is as long as all the stuff your family loves to do on ordinary days. Do you like music? How about renting a karaoke machine and hamming it up? Like being on stage? A good ol' game of charades will do the trick.

    What other free things to do around the holidays can you think of?

     

    Photo courtesy:  Holly, Family

  • The Elf on the Shelf | Part 2

    Yesterday I shared about the story of The Elf on the Shelf, and announced that Merry Stockings would be carrying the newly released Elf on the Shelf Bucilla craft kits. Today, I want to show you some of the cute little things you can do with this charming, and evidently mischevious little elf.

    elf

     

    elf 2

     

    elf 3

     

    elf 7

    elf 5

     

    elf 6

     

    That should get the creative wheels turning!

    Photo courtesy:  Shower, Sink, Drawer, M & M's

  • The Elf on the Shelf

    Elf-LogoGreat things can happen over a cup of tea. I'm really more of a coffee girl myself, but I will give tea its due because there's just too much proof to discount its overwhelmingly mysterious way of inspiring really great stories.

    This is exactly where The Elf on the Shelf was born. Have you heard of this latest phenomenon storming the world with all its charm and savvy? Well, here's how it all got started.

    Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell were sipping their tea and talking about Christmas memories, and more specifically a game they played with a little toy elf. Every year around Thanksgiving, the elf would appear on a corner shelf, hidden so as not to be obvious. The tradition stated that each night after everyone had gone off to bed, the elf would fly back to the North Pole to report on what had happened and who had been naughty or nice. Then, before everyone in the house woke up in the morning, the elf would fly back and occupy a different place in the house. The game ends on Christmas morning when the elf flies back to the North Pole and stays until the next year.

    As they sat there, mother and daughter, reminiscing over all the fun times and wonderful memories made from practicing this Christmas tradition, Chanda had a brainstorm. She suggested to her mother that they co-author a book so that other families could share in the fun too. And, the story was born.

    Sounds kinda sweet, a perpetual game of hide and seek between a little toy elf and each member of the family! Merry Stockings wanted in on the fun, so we've decided to carry the 2014 newly released Elf on the Shelf Christmas craft products, made by Bucilla. This new line includes two felt Christmas stocking kits, an ornament kit featuring 4 pieces, an advent calendar kit and a felt wreath. And, they'll all be available for order beginning in May!

    Start your own Elf on the Shelf tradition and get started today on these coordinating craft products by Bucilla.

     

  • An Old Fashioned Christmas | Taking Pictures

    silly picturesIt has been aptly said that it isn't what's under the Christmas tree that counts, it's who's around it.  Today we are continuing with our old fashioned  Christmas theme, and focusing this week on the old fashioned priority of spending more time together during the holidays. This old world tradition is still with is in many ways, but usually we've cluttered it all up with so much activity that stress is at an all time high by the time we gather.

    Let's take a break from all the hustle and bustle, and gather 'round the tree for some photo sessions. And, not just your ordinary photo sessions mind you. Instead of the typical serious or posed and formal looking shots, this is a great opportunity to have some fun and just get goofy.  Save the shining faces and perfect dimpled grins for some other time, and jump on board with photos that will make you, your family and anyone who sees them giggle. Yes, giggle!

    silly pictures 2Nothing like combining an old fashioned tradition with technology too. With digital cameras, now you don't have to spend so much money developing pictures you aren't sure anyone will want or, in this case, giggle over. Now you can take dozens and dozens of shots, view them all on your computer and decide which ones you want to print. Getting serious or goofy and even being extreme makes it all the more fun.

    Make the most of the pictures that come from this kind of fun, and create your Christmas card for either this or next year. I don't know about you but I love getting those kind of cards in the mail. They really do make me smile and giggle and feel good all day.

     

    Photo courtesy

     

  • Healthy Treats For The Kids

    lightsWith kids still on Christmas break from school, I'm wondering if your kids are getting a little antsy? All the excitement of Christmas Day is done, and while it's wonderful to still be all at home together, it is a definite shift from the ordinary schedule. As much as we never really relish the idea of going back to work or school after a vacation, there is a certain comfort in doing so as we slip back into our familiar routines, the house gets back to it's pre-decorated state and, of course, New Year's resolutions are pondered.

    fruitsnacksfeatured-770x403_jpg_pagespeed_ce_WZR8WRvEX2While all of that is happening, the kids still want to eat! I found a healthy treat from a local wellness center that I think is sure to please. These healthy fruit snacks are pretty cute too, aren't they?  They are made with fresh berries, a bit of honey, lemon juice and gelatin from grass-fed cows. There is nothing not to love about these....sweet, healthy, cute and just the right size for little hands You can check out the recipe here.

    And, while the kids are nom nom-ing on those, you can grab a cup of coffee or tea and make your plans for the new year. Sound good?

     

    Photo courtesy: Lights, Snacks

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