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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Home For The Holidays

I remember well the many holidays that Jason spent under the sea, in a submarine. I was 3000 miles away from my family, spending Christmas by myself.

Those were hard times.

Thankfully, we are together this Christmas and we have the opportunity to spend the holidays with my family.

I’ll always remember those Christmases spent away from my loved ones, and my wish for you this season is that no matter your situation or location, you are with people you love.

Happy Holidays!

This post was sponsored by T-Mobile.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh What Fun It Is To… Decorate!

Today is the final day of the Oh What Fun It Is To… series and I’ve had such a blast visiting the hostesses and reading everyone’s posts. Today I’m linking up with Erin at Blue Eyed Bride to talk about holiday décor.

This is the first year I’ve decorated the whole house for Christmas. I’ve always intended to do it, but traveling, pregnancy, and a baby have prohibited me. I love Christmas decorations! They just make the house look so festive and joyful.

I mentioned earlier this week I put up multiple trees. I thought this was common, but when I mention it, someone people look at me like I’m crazy. We have four trees up this year, and my goal is eventually to have a tree in every room1

A few years back, I hit up the after Christmas sales and got two trees. Then I happened by Goodwill and found two more Target Christmas trees – new in box – for less than $20! Score!

*I apologize in advance for the terrible pictures. My mom messed with my camera this weekend and I can’t figure out how to restore the regular settings.*

Here is the living room tree. I have to confess my mom did the mesh and the bow since I am not capable in those areas.

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And Cooper’s sock monkey tree…

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This tree is upstairs in our hallway.

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This tree is in our bedroom.

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The are not decorator perfect by any means but I love them. Smile

This is the first year that I have had a mantle, and I had so much fun decorating it for Christmas!

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I’ve been drooling over that Santa picture for years, and I finally pulled the trigger on Black Friday. He’s standing with his sack on his back and has his finger to his lips telling you to “shhhh!”

This is an iPhone photo but it shows the detail a little better.

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A few other odds and ends…

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I can’t wait to see your pictures! Please link up and show off your Christmas décor!

Etta is the winner of the Father of Joy Designs print! Congrats Etta!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh What Fun It Is To… Create!

I’m back today to link up with Meredith from The Tichenor Family to talk about our holiday creations! I love to craft, and I especially love Christmas crafts. I tend to get the most use out of my glue gun during December.

My favorite Christmas craft (even though it gave me a horrendous glue gun burn on my ankle that hasn’t faded even after 3 years!) is my peppermint wreath. SO EASY! All the supplies were less than $5 and it took me a few reruns of Grey’s Anatomy to complete.

Picture 028Peppermint Wreath Tutorial

Are you looking in need of a great teacher or neighbor gift? This cute Santa pot makes a beautiful gift basket!

Picture 032Santa Pot How-To

If you need an inexpensive gift for a coworker or Chinese gift exchange, these frames are stunning and are so easy to make! This is another $5.00 craft. I gave these to my grandparents with my maternity pictures and they loved the frames almost more than they loved the picture! Ha!

DSC02601Bejeweled Frames

I made monogrammed plates last year for my aunt, best friend, and SIL, and they were a huge hit! They were so easy to make, and again, were very inexpensive. All you need are plates, a computer (a Silhouette/Cricut helps but you can make this with Word as well), ceramic paint, a Sharpie, and a paintbrush.

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IMG_2754Monogrammed Plates

Beverage tubs make great hostess gifts (I stock up on these tubs at the end of the summer when they are on clearance). These are easy to do if you have a Silhouette or a Cricut and can cut vinyl!

IMG_2757Monogrammed Beverage Tubs

What are you creating this Christmas?

Oh What Fun It Is To… Make Memories!

Today I’m linking up with AP from I Love You More Than Carrots to talk about making memories during the holidays.

This is Cooper’s second Christmas. Last year he was less than a year old, and he didn’t really get it. This year he is very into the idea of Christmas and he loves Santa!

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I want to create/introduce so many traditions to my family, but I know I need to tweak everything so that Cooper can understand and participate in each activity. This year I was very excited to introduce Cooper to Elf on the Shelf, and it has been a huge hit with C!

An Elf’s Story aired on CBS the Friday after Thanksgiving (and again last week, I believe) and I give this movie 2 thumbs up. It is a great way to introduce the idea and purpose of EOTS to your child. The movie is sold at Barnes and Noble, but I believe it is out of stock right now. I had Cooper watch the movie several times prior to the appearance of our elf

Another tradition we started this year was the book advent calendar. After Christmas last year, I went and purchased 25 children’s Christmas books while they were on clearance. I won’t lie – it was a big purchase, even with the books being on sale. However, now that we have all 25 books, I can reuse the books year after year. (If you aren’t able to purchase 25 books, you can get out library books for this purpose – just keep a record of when they need to be returned.). I wrapped the books and numbered them for Cooper to open each day.

I decided that this year I wanted to tie the book advent calendar and the EOTS together. I thought that getting a present from Ollie (our elf’s name) would get Cooper really excited about EOTS. I had planned on having him open the book on December 1st, but the night before Cooper found my hiding place for the book, so Ollie came to our house early.

Jason and I explained the concept of the elf to Cooper, and we read the book together. The next day, Ollie was waiting downstairs with a book. We built up his appearance and let him run around downstairs searching for Ollie. When he found him, we stressed how important it was not to touch Ollie. He’s only touched him once, and when he did we explained how he looses his magic if touched. He hasn’t touched him since.

Cooper does not get the concept of his behavior being reported to Santa. Honestly, I think he’s too young for that. However, he finds Ollie very exciting and he loves opening and reading his books. Ollie has helped enforce the idea of manners for Cooper. I used to have to remind Cooper to say “thank you” but every since Ollie arrived he is saying thank you whenever someone does something for him or gives him a present.

Next year I will separate the EOTS and the book advent calendar and they will be separate activities. I think we’ll push the idea of Ollie reporting his behavior and will have him be more mischievous next year.

I know a lot of you already have an elf, but for those of you that don’t, I wanted to share how wonderful Ollie has been for our family. I hope this helps some of you with younger child get ideas on how to introduce the elf to your child.

I’ve shared this already on the blog, but here are a few of our other traditions:

  1. Make a special evening of putting up the tree and decorating.
  2. Go get Cooper’s picture taken with Santa.
  3. Do several local Christmas events around town (Lights of the South, Lights Before Christmas at the zoo, holiday parties).
  4. Listen to Christmas music.
  5. Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  6. Watch Christmas movies.
  7. Bake cookies.
  8. Decorate a gingerbread house.
  9. Make a Christmas craft.
  10. Purchase Christmas pajamas for each member of the family – open on Christmas Eve.
  11. Purchase Christmas ornaments for each member of the family.
  12. Display a nativity.
  13. Make treats for Santa.
  14. Make a birthday cake for Jesus.
  15. Read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve. Celebrate Jesus’s birthday!
  16. Make a special Christmas morning breakfast.

How do you make memories at Christmas time?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Keepin’ It Clean at Christmas

I don’t know about you, but I find it to be such a struggle to keep my house clean during the holidays. Not only am I crazy busy, meaning I have less time to clean than I normally do, but I also have more stuff in my house. I absolutely love how festive and cheerful my house looks during Christmas, but the upkeep can be a pain!

Y’all know I am for sure a sequins and glitter kind of girl, and this means my Christmas décor contains lots of bling bling. Case in point… le tree:

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I love my tree. I mean, I big pink puffy heart love my tree. However, said tree has left about 10 tons of glitter all over my living room floor. I vacuum and vacuum and vacuum some more, and the glitter never leaves. It’s the same thing all throughout my house. Glitter in abundance, and y’all know glitter likes to migrate. Which is why I went to work today with glitter all over the butt of my dress pants. Nice.

I’m the epitome of a frazzled mommy, and I struggle to keep the house clean in the best of circumstances. I’m here today to share some tips with you on keepin’ it clean while decorating for and during the holiday season.

Tip #1: Decorate in one weekend. Yes, I know it can be a handful, especially if you’re like me and you put up four Christmas trees. However, 15 tubs of Christmas decorations strewn throughout your house is bound to cause you undue stress. Do yourself a favor and knock out the decorating in one weekend. Then you’ll have weeks to enjoy the ambiance before you have to drag those tubs back out and put it all away!

Tip #2: Put your tree(s) up on one day, and decorate the next. (Of course, this only pertains to us using artificial trees.). I hate hate HATE putting together my Christmas tree. There is nothing worse to me than “fluffing” the tree. I’m paranoid about gaping holes and will spend 2 hours post-fluffing contorting myself to see “is that a bare spot?!”. Get the painful part out of the way on day one so that the actual decorating can be an enjoyable family activity.

Tip #3: If you have young children, take a few minutes  when you’re breaking down your tree and put together a separate box of shatterproof ornaments. That way your younger children will have ornaments to hang next year, and you won’t have to worry about searching through your ornament stash to find something they won’t break.

Tip #4: If you have lots of glitter frou frou for your tree, consider putting down trash bags around your tree until you’re done decorating. This will cut down on the mess. This helps during the “fluffing” process – I usually lose little bits of the tree as I pull apart and arrange the branches.

Tip #5: At the end of the holidays, have a tub for each room. Pack the decorations for that room in one tub, and label it. This will make it easy peasy to decorate next year. If you have multiple trees, have an ornament box/tub for each tree. I decorate my trees by color/theme, so if they get mixed up, it takes me lots of time to sort it all out.

Once you’re fully decorated for the season, the key to keeping your house beautiful is to maintain. If you are anything like me, your messes tend to snowball. I have to clean every.single.day or my house is a giant chaotic mess. I spend 30 minutes before bedtime picking things up, putting them away, and vacuuming, and this routine keeps my house clean and company ready.

I hope this was helpful to you! What are your tips for keepin’ it clean during Christmas?

I am sharing my holiday home decor and cleaning tips for the chance to win prizes from The SITS Girls and Great Cleaners.

Oh What Fun it is to….

I wanted to link up with Nina yesterday, but sadly I have no mad skills in the entertaining department. I’m excited to read everyone else’s posts on the subject though!

Today I’m linking up with The Duchess of Fork to talk about cooking. I have some great recipes to share with you!

My family is very traditional in the sense that we make the same things year after year. My mom makes a ham and turkey, and everyone else brings the sides and/or the desserts. If you’re celebrating Christmas with us, you can always count on having dressing, sweet potato casserole, and my mom’s famous “pink stuff” (congealed salad). Yum! In years past I have not contributed a dish as I have been traveling and there was just no way for me to keep a dish hot for a three hour drive.

This Thanksgiving I made my infamous (in the sense that people say “you’re making WHAT?”) grits n’ greens casserole for our potluck… and the same haters that scoffed at the idea of grits paired with collard greens came back for seconds and thirds. If you love collards, grits, and/or parmesan cheese, you will love this dish! I’ve even had people who didn’t like collards or grits say that it was delicious. Try it…. I promise you will love it. Not to toot my own horn (toot toot!) but every single person who I’ve made it for has asked for the recipe.

Grits N Greens Casserole

Ingredients:

2 cups whipping cream
8 cups chicken broth, divided (6 cups if you use canned collards)
2 cups quick cooking (5 minute) grits (not instant!)
1 bag frozen collard greens (I used Glory canned collards, or you could make your own)
2 sticks butter
2 1/2 cups parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon

Directions:

  1. Grease 13x9 casserole.
  2. Combine cream and 6 cups chicken broth and bring to boil. Stir in grits and cook over medium heat until grits return to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir frequently to keep from burning. Add milk if needed to thicken to proper consistency.
  3. Cook frozen collards with remaining 2 cups of chicken broth until tender (omit this step if you are using canned collards. If using canned, simply heat and drain). Drain well in colander, squeezing out remaining liquid.
  4. Add butter, parmesan, greens, and pepper to cooked grits. Pour into baking dish. Top with additional parmesan and crumbled bacon.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned.

If you need an easy dessert to take to a potluck, how about Caramel Apple Dip? It takes 5 minutes to make and is so delicious! (Just beware of the double dippers…)

Caramel Apple Dip

Ingredients:

  • One block cream cheese, softened
  • One tub caramel dip
  • One bag of Heath crumbles
  • Apple slices – I recommend Granny Smith

Directions:

  1. Spread the softened cream cheese into a pie plate.
  2. Top with a layer of caramel dip.
  3. Sprinkle a generous layer (who am I kidding – the whole bag) of Heath crumbles on top.
  4. Serve with apple slices!

We used to do Christmas morning brunch at my aunt’s house, and every year my mom would make grits casserole. Yes, my family loves grits. This just serves comfort food to me! I make up big batches of this and freeze for mornings I want a hot and hearty breakfast. This would be great for Christmas morning!

Grits Casserole

Ingredients:

  • Quick cooking grits, cooked according to package directions (NOT instant)
  • Sausage
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper

I don’t have exact measurements for this recipe. To begin, you'll need to decide how many servings you need for your family. I usually make 4-6 servings, according to what's written on the side of the grits package. 4-6 servings feeds about 8 people. If you make more than 4 servings, you should use more than one package of sausage.

Start by cooking your sausage, and set aside to drain. Prepare your grits according to the package directions. Once they are ready, season them to taste, adding in butter, salt, and pepper to your preference. Add cheese, as much as you like, keeping in mind that you'll be topping with cheese as well. Add in 1 egg (2 if you have 6 or more servings of grits) and enough milk so that it is not a super thick consistency.

Pour into your casserole dish, and top with a layer of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

If you want to freeze this, stop before baking in the oven. Just cover with foil, and on the morning you want to cook, pop in the oven frozen and back at 375 for about an hour.

What are your tried and true holiday recipes? I can’t wait to see what you have to share!

Monday, December 12, 2011

2 On Tuesday & a GIVEAWAY!

Hey friends! I hope you are doing well. Sorry I have been MIA lately. Lots of stuff going on around here… some good and unfortunately some bad. But isn’t that life? I’m just trying to soak up the Christmas season with my baby so some things have been neglected… namely the blog. I apologize for the lack of posts and the absence of 2OT last week.

You’ll find today’s topic at the bottom of the post, but right now I want to tell you about the awesome giveaway I have for you today!

I’ve been reading Abby’s blog for awhile, and I was super excited when she asked me to review a print from her Etsy shop. I truly envy people who are talented at graphic design… I only wish I had the talent to create some of Abby’s prints! Abby asked me to pick something to review, and though I love all her designs, I was immediately drawn to this Jingle All The Way print.

Jingle All The Way 5x7, $5.00

Please excuse the terrible iPhone photos… they do not do Abby’s creation justice!

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The print arrived super quickly, and it is printed on high quality cardstock in vibrant colors. I love the whimsical design, and you can’t beat the price of a holiday art! Here are a few of my favorite designs from her shop:

Merry Christmas, Y’all 5X7, $5.00

May Your Days Be Merry & Bright 5X&, $5.00

And I love this print for a nursery! Don’t forget you can order any print in custom colors.

Jeremiah 29:11 5X7, $5.00

Abby is giving one of you the opportunity to win any one print from her Etsy shop of your choosing.  To enter to win, you simply need to visit Father of Joy Designs and tell me which print you would like to win. Please leave the link to your favorite print in the comments!

Abby is also offering my readers 10% off your order. Simply enter MYCHIHUAHUA when you check out.

On to 2 On Tuesday!

What are your two favorite Christmas songs? What is your favorite Christmas movie?

I love, love, love the entire Point of Grace Christmas CD. Point of Grace is a Christmas musical group, and if you like classic Christmas music with beautiful harmonies, this is the CD for you!

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I’m also loving the Glee Christmas CDs!

As far as movies, I’m really snobby about Christmas movies. I’ve actually never seen It’s A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. I love old school claymation and I’ve already expressed my love of Elf on the Shelf.

What are your recommendations? What Christmas movies do I need to see?

Thanks for linking up, and don’t forget to visit Father of Joy Designs to enter to win the giveaway!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How To: Lush, Full Lashes Without Falsies!


Thanks to L'Oreal for sponsoring my post about my favorite beauty looks, tips and tricks! Check out Makeup.com for beauty advice from the experts.


Hey friends! I hope you all are doing well. I’m here today with a vlog! Yes, I vlogged. Bad hair day and all. 

I wanted to share a beauty tip with you. Want to know how to get lush, full lashes without using false lashes? Check it out!


My absolute favorite mascara is Loreal Voluminous. I’ve been using it for years and years, but a few weeks ago I decided to branch out and try Loreal Double Extend mascara. I really love this mascara! It’s a lash primer and mascara in one. The extender acts as a conditioner and fortifier for your lashes, prepping it for your mascara. The mascara coats your lashes with a mascara that won’t clump or smudge!

The beauty tip I want to share with you is how I get lush, full lashes without applying falsies. 

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Step One: Curl your eyelashes.

Step Two: Apply the fortifying extender (white side of the Double Extend mascara). Let dry. 

Step Three: Use a tissue to lightly wipe off your mascara wand. This removes excess mascara and prevent clumps. 

Step Four: Apply one coat of mascara just to the very tips of your eyelashes. 

Step Five: Apply a coat of mascara to your lashes, root to tip. Using a lash comb, comb through your lashes to remove any clumps and prevent the dreaded spider lash look. 

Step Six: Repeat step five!


Bat your eyes, because you have lashes like a Kardashian!

For more great beauty tips and tricks, check out Makeup.com! 

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Click here to learn more about Makeup.com or become a Facebook fan by clicking here.


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Southern belle, mom of 1, cooker, decorator, crafter, and lover of all things beauty related. Check my About Me tab for more information!

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