Fun

  • Fabric Advent Calendars

    Great news! If you'll remember back a couple of weeks, I shared with you a darling advent calendar pattern. Many of our readers love these kinds of Christmas decoration projects because they are simple to make and yet add so much to the whole holiday experience.  Advent calendars in particular have become a preferred way for you and your family to count down the days until Christmas, and Merry Stockings did not want to be left out of all the hoopla. Sooo, we are now carrying fabric advent calendars on our website!

    The products that you'll see come in both non-religious and religious themes, so you are sure to find one your family will love. Take a peek at the 5 designs we're carrying brand new this year:

     

    Santas Workshop Advent Calendar

    Santa's Workshop Advent Calendar

    Holy Night Advent Calendar

    Holy Night Advent Calendar

    Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

    Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

    Nativity Advent Calendar

    Nativity Advent Calendar

    Dog Gone It Advent Calendar

    Dog Gone It Advent Calendar

    Tidings of Joy Advent Calendar

    Tidings of Joy Advent Calendar

    Every advent calendar comes with movable pieces, making these fabric decorations both utterly adorable and ingeniously interactive! No more questions about how many more days until Christmas....the little ones in your family will be telling you!

    Fabric advent Calendars are a perfect way to prepare for Christmas Day, and the best news is that each of the above designs have a reduced retail price. Click on the links below each one to be taken to the Merry Stockings website where you'll find full details!

  • 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

  • Wreath Kits For You

    We've been spending quite a bit of time looking at some pretty cool wreaths over the last several week, not to mention delving into the history of this quintessential Christmas decoration. We also gave some basic instructions on how to make a live wreath, and then filled your brain with pictures of lots of unique wreaths to get your creative juices flowing.  I want to wrap up this mini wreath series and show you a couple of Bucilla kits that we carry on our website, Merry Stockings. I'm not saying we won't ever talk about wreaths again (of COURSE we will!), but I am really excited to share with you these fun, do-it-yourself kits that have become immensely popular.

    cookies wreathFirst up today is the Bucilla Cookies and Candy Wreath Kit! Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, this wreath really is 3 dimensional. What could be sweeter  hanging on your door than candy canes, gingerbread cookies and hard candies? You'll get all those along with those psychedelic round suckers in this fantastic kit. I am gonna bet my bottom dollar that the kiddos might even be willing to help out with this one.

    Do you have a crafty person on your Christmas list, someone who is hard to buy for? This sweet three dimensional felt applique wreath would make a fabulous gift too. Best part? It comes complete with everything you need to complete it. No last minute running to the craft store, it's ALL included:  stamped felt, cotton floss, sequins and/or beads, needles and even instructions in three languages.

    The Cookies and Candy Wreath kit is designed by Maria Stanziani and is made in the good ol' USA. Finished size is 15" x 15". The list price on this fun kit is $34.99 but you won't pay that at Merry Stockings. Order today and receive 20% off, paying just $27.99.

     

  • Christmas in July | Summertime Snowballs!

    One of the things I am loving the most about this crazy mid year holiday called Christmas in July is that it sparks all kinds of very creative ideas, games, parties, y0u name it! Combining the 4th of July with Christmas is just one theme. There is certainly A LOT we can do with just that, and make it last all month long, but why limit ourselves like that?

    anytime snowballsToday I ran across these sn sn sno snowballs (it's just really hard to say in the summer in Minnesota!), and what I would have given to have had these when my boys were little! Or even as they got bigger!

    In fact, I may pick up several bags of these and send them for Christmas....they are never too old for a good ol' fashioned snowball fight, and now its possible any time of year.

    These babies are made out of a soft material that the manufacturer says

    "feels like snow, no slush, no mess"!

    Now, granted, part of the fun IS the slush and mess and being outside, invigorated by the cold. But, think of the smaller kids who get too cold out there. Or in places where it really is too cold to be out for very long. These snowballs make it possible, yes, to enjoy a snowball fight even in the middle of July, but think about the hours of fun (and exercise!) when the weather turns less than desirable. I think these little guys are total winners.

    They are washable too. I bet the really handy folks among us could make them pretty easily, no? Here's a pattern just in case you are inspired!

    Photo credit

     

  • Christmas in July Tradition

    Melted SnowmenAfter all the hoopla yesterday involved with celebrating the 4th of July, riding home in the car with the windows down was the perfect way to end it all. It was a perfect 75 degrees and breezy, traffic was practically non-existent, and I thought about how much I'm going to miss all this warmness when winter comes again lol!

    Granted, there is something fun about having snow at Christmas, and in order for snow to happen it must be cold. But, I'm just not missing it right now. Nonetheless, I'm attempting to get into the spirit of Christmas in July, but it don't come easy for this warm-weather loving girl. If you, on the other hand, are participating, I've got a very fun idea for a picnic treat!

    Aren't they adorable, these melted snowmen? These would be great little buddies to your s'mores around the campfire and will help you use up all the marshmallows that are left. Combine those fluffy spheres with a plain sugar cookie and some icing and you'll definitely put a smile on a bunch of faces. Promise.

    While I am not wishing for cold weather today, this is one snowy treat I can sign on for. How about you?

    Photo credit

  • Happy 4th of July and Peppermint Ice Cream!

    July 4th partyIt's set to be a lovely day here in Minneapolis, a perfect day really for celebrating our nation's independence. The sun'll be out, the temperature will climb to a comfortable 80 degrees, and you can bet there will be no lack of partying going on later tonight. It's always so much fun when July 4th falls on a Friday. It means we won't have to put on an extra pot of coffee for the next morning just to get ourselves to work.

    Peppermint Ice CreamWith the heat increasing in most parts of our country, ice cream is always a favorite treat. One of our absolute favorite flavors around the holidays....okay, let's be real, absolutely any day, week or month of the year....is peppermint ice cream. And, what do ya know, it is both very holiday-ish and July 4th, all wrapped into one.

    Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

    Now, we've never been too successful at finding our brand in the store in the summer, but that hasn't stopped us from enjoying the flavor of candy canes in the off season. I turn to none other than the Pioneer Woman for a homemade peppermint ice cream recipe! And, if you are more of a mint chocolate kind of ice cream eater, she's got you covered there too. You can find both recipes here.

    Here's wishing you all a blessed time with family and friends today, celebrating our freedom!

    Photo Credit:  Picnic, Ice Cream

     

  • Quick Workouts for Christmas

    christmas exerciseYesterday I talked about my meeting with my health coach a little, and shared some insights about how to stay the course of healthy habits over the holidays. Now, having said that, I recognize that it's much easier said than done. There are a lot of additional to-do's we are squeezing into our schedules in a few short weeks, and so it would seem that something has to give. So often it's our exercise program or specific diet we've decided on. But, what if you didn't have to give that up, and yet could still fully participate in all the fun of the holidays?

    I submit to you that we can! Here are a few great options for quick workouts that keep that momentum going and actually get you out ahead of the crowd come January:

    1. Yoga. Get some stretching and mind focus work done in just 8 short minutes! The trick with this one will be finding a spot for it, but the "what to do" part is easy. Just download this app and you'll be downward dogging it all the way to New Year's.
    2. HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training workouts are considered the gold standard for not only raising metabolism and burning fat, but for being super fast. Here's another link for you for a 7 minute workout that comes complete with what exercises to do and for how long. You'll be sweating, but that's how you know it's good. :)
    3. CrossFit. Another version of HIIT, but with so many variation you just have to check it out. I was introduced to Tabata workouts which are basically HIIT in reverse. Usually with HIIT you go hard for 30 seconds, then easy for 90 seconds and repeat. With Tabata, you shorten the time of your workout by going hard for 20 seconds, easy for 10, and complete anywhere from 2 to 8 sets depending on your fitness level. Using just your body weight or typical cardio equipment like an elliptical or bike, this workout will have you in and out in no time.

    So, really, there's no excuse is there? Get those workouts in even in December! You will be so glad you did, not just in January when everyone else is resolving to lose their holiday weight, but also during the holiday...you'll have energy and stamina to spare!

    Photo credit:  Santas exercising,

  • In Honor of Chocolate Chip Day

    frangoI may have mentioned a time or two that I am a big fan of chocolate mint meltaways. Marshall Fields used to sell what they called Frango Mints, a much beloved confection in Chicago around the holidays. Also, anyone who filled out a credit card application would receive a free box! Stories were told about people filling out fake applications in order to get more free boxes of Frango Mints! They stopped making them in 1999 and 6 years later Marshall Fields was acquired by Macy's (and some have never gotten over their bitterness!).

    Macy's has tried to mimic the well loved chocolates, but how can you even come close to a candy that is hand made on the 13th floor of its originator? I have had the Macy's version, and it's not half bad, but Frango Mints will always be remembered as the folkloric taste of Chicago.

    magic mint choc barkPerhaps second best to the long lost 13th floor creation is something we can make in our own kitchens. I don't think there are many ingredients that, when combined with chocolate, top mint. Am I right? Caramel comes close. Peanut butter a close third. But, mint remains clearly at the top. We can recover some of the magic of those scrumptious, melt in your mouth, chocolates with today's recipe for Magic Mint Chocolate Bark. Okay, we can at least try. :)

    So, in honor National Chocolate Chip day, you can find the recipe for this tasty treat here. Happy May 15th to you!

    Photo credit:  Frango, Bark

  • 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

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