Let's Jazz it up for New Year's Eve!

Okay girls, I'm baaaack! Boy, was that a relaxing break but I did think of you often. As a little Christmas gift to the Big Guy I stayed OFF the computer for one whole week! Who would have thought it was even possible? Yeah, never again...

Alright, don't panic, I'm back to get you ready for your big shin dig tonight. Let's do this thing the 2010 way. We want to look cute without spending a lot.

Go ahead and whip up some cute Satin Flowers
and jazz up what you already have.

No time for flower makin'? Okay, grab a bright scarf and jazz up a fitted black turtleneck with a scarf. Some skinny jeans, silver hoops, and boots and you're ready to hit the town while staying warm.

Wear a scarf, originally uploaded by hopestudios1.

Keeping it low key at home? Try some of these fantastic and easy appetizers from my Wine Tasting Party

(sigh...) I missed you...


Santa's Sack, My Anal-Retentive Gift Wrapping, and a Guest Feature!

Okay, now I'll share with you my super anal-retentive method of wrapping gifts...but only if you promise not to mock me. Okay, you can mock me...and laugh...and point...Just do it quietly.

First, all (two) gifts from Santa arrive wrapped in red and white striped paper (ala Polar Express). They can be found in the fireplace in "Santa's Sack". This tradition began years ago because #1 son was super afraid each Christmas at the thought of a strange man tip toeing around our home in the dark of night. Really...it IS kind of creepy! He used to sit on Santa's lap and ask him to take the gifts to Daddy's work instead of coming to the house.

So, since that time, Santa has agreed to stay OUT, per our request, and simply drops the sack down the chimney and continues on his way to prowl through other unsuspecting children's homes. They still expect him to eat the cookies, though...go figure...

My kids sit down and write a thank you note before they leave for Mimi's house and Santa sends an elf to retrieve the sack left by the fireplace after we leave. This whole scenario has cut down on a lot of nightmares!

Sometimes this isn't possible, but I try to remember to release all items from their boxes before I wrap gifts from Mom and Dad. It saves lots of tears and bad words on Christmas morning if we aren't trying to unscrew a truck from a cardboard box. Either way, have wire cutters and a screwdriver handy just in case.

I try to give each child the same number of gifts. So, then I need to have that number of wrapping papers. Listen, you'll understand!

I arrange the piles into items that are similar and wrap them in the same paper. All DVD's get snowman paper, all cars get Christmas tree paper, all Legos get Santa paper, all books get gold paper, etc... So, then when it's time to open, I let each child choose a gift and the other two need to find the same paper in their pile and they unwrap all together. This way, no one's surprise is ruined when they watch their brother unwrapping and they know what that item is by it's shape in their own pile.

Make sense? It also slows down the process and turns it into a bit of a scavenger hunt. I sit and rub my eyes a lot during this whole process since it all goes down at around 6 a.m.

So, that's how we do it...what do YOU do Christmas morning?



Hand Made Christmas Ornaments - Tutorial Tuesday

My absolute favorite ornament submitted for my Hand Made Ornament Linky Party was the Paper Ball using wrapping paper scraps, submitted by Tina's Place!

I followed some links and discovered the original tutorial from Everyday Chaos using recycled book pages and I was in love! I gathered up my supplies and sat down right that minute to make one. It took one episode of Ellen and about $1.25 and I was done...want to learn?

Recycled Book Page Christmas Ornament


An old book (I used a cheap-o dollar store book I bought for projects like this)
Ink pad
Hot glue gun
Old ornament

Begin by preparing your book. Rip out the pages, then begin ripping 1 1/2 inch strips then 1 1/2 inch squares. I used the edge of the ruler to tear straight lines. I wanted a rough edge, but you could also cut these squares with scissors.

You will need MANY squares. Many more than this.

Now, rub the edges of the squares over the ink pad to age and distress them...you know I hate bright white!


Here are the balls I used, gaudy glittery balls that came 5 to a tube at the dollar store:

Using your pencil, form the square of paper over the end of the pencil, like this:

Place a dot of hot glue onto the end of the paper "cup" like this:

And, stick it to the ball like this!

Repeat about a thousand times until the entire ball is covered:

Once you cover the entire surface, embellish it the way you'd like. I cut out a star from the front of a glittery Christmas card and attached a Merry Christmas banner like the original tutorial.

You could decorate yours in all sorts of creative ways!

It's so easy a child could do it...or two children could do it while arguing over the hot glue gun. Whatever.

Here is a round up of some of the other ideas you shared at the Christmas Ornament Linky Party last week!

Borax Snowflakes by Domestically Speaking:

Snowman Balls by Joy Beadworks:

And a last minute Glass Ball Ornament using rub-ons from Fingerprints on the Fridge:



Christmas Tea

One of the Christmas traditions we have in my neighborhood is spending the afternoon together at the Johnston House Tea Room for "tea". Want to come along? Okay, hold up your pinkie in a most elegant way and let's go!

Here is the front...you won't believe what is beyond this door!

Lovely table settings in beautiful Christmas-y rooms:

The most gorgeous snow-flocked tree trimmed in silver and white. You've never seen such a thing. My indoor photos don't do it justice:

Amazing vignettes with all sorts of Christmas decor displayed. Let's buy our ornament for the neighborhood ornament exchange party here!

Now, turn the corner to see the "tea room". Beautiful gold chairs with mismatched antique tea pots and china:

The snacks are served in the traditional way, savory tea sandwiches on the bottom, scones with clotted cream and jam in the middle and sweets on top:

While you are laughing and chatting and feeling so civilized...try not to notice you are the youngest group in the building by 20 years!


Sunday Funny with JibJab

I love nothing more than to turn bad photos into something hilarious (Joy laughed for an hour with a picture of her hubs with a bucket on his head!). So, when the kids wanted to make a Christmas JibJab with them looking cool in their shades, it was up to me and the Big Guy to make it funny. Enjoy!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!


Saturday Wrap Up

Well, guess what??? I won. Yep, I won Kimba's DIY Day prize. And I didn't even cheat and use my real life friendship with her to weasel in on it. Nope. Random Number Generator and I have a thing. He thinks I'm cute and he picked me as the winner last week.

Want to know what I won? An awesome $50 gift certificate from Leen the Graphics Queen! Want to know what I picked during my shopping spree? Okay, check it OUT!

This lovely Three Floral Frame in burnt sienna:

And this sweet little Birdie Trio in olive green:

Did you know Leen has lots of other cool vinyl decals to spice up your own home. Let's go shopping:

This Antique Scroll Frame would look so cool as a way to display your kids' ever changing artwork. Maybe a little nail with a clamp attached up near the top to quickly change out the artwork? Huh? You likey?

This Wispy Grass would look so cool in so many different places!

And a little girl's room with this Dandelion Blowing in the Wind just makes me ache for a baby girl!

Okay, I'm done gushing. Go check out Leen's Etsy shop, you will love it!

Some of you girl's linked up your Ornament Wreaths on Tutorial Tuesday and I loved them! Let's remember some of my faves...

Rachelle, Fingerprints on the Fridge:

Becky, at Our Sweet Peas:

Ruth, at Farm Girl in my Heart:

And finally, let's take a minute right now to click on the widget below to send a holiday card of thanks to a soldier currently serving in Iraq. It would mean so much to know that they have all our support here at home.


Favorite and Least Favorite Christmas Songs - Feedback Friday

My friend, Craig over at The Constant Complainer posed this question last week and complained about the song "The Christmas Shoes". We agreed that song makes us want to hang ourselves. So depressing. I thought this topic was just perfect for my Feedback Friday this week.

My least favorite Christmas song is anything sung by The Chipmunks. You know, Alvin, Simon, THEADORE! Unfortunately, these songs fall on my kids' favorite list. Go figure.

The thing about Christmas songs is that they make me cry when I try to sing along. (I share this strange quirk with Lori from What's After 29?). So, that is usually how I judge my fave. Crying? Check! Love it!

As a child, my favorite song was "Go Tell it on the Mountain" My mom had it on an old Christmas record sung by a Gospel choir,(it was pretty hilarious to see a 7 year old go all gospel, I'm sure). Here is a more mellow version sung here by Sweet Baby James:

My favorite traditional song is "Do You Hear What I Hear". Listen to the Carpenters (LOVE the Carpenters even in this crazy psychedelic video):

My favorite contemporary Christmas song is "Mary Did You Know". I swear this song makes me sob! I listen to the words and can't help but think of my three sons and all their potential. Here it is sung by the great Kenny Rogers:

So, tell me, what is your favorite and least favorite Christmas song???

***there is still time to add your hand made ornament to the linky party below***


Hand Made Christmas Ornaments - Linky Par-tay!! Woo Hoo!!!

***Warning!!! No Soul Sisters beyond this point! My ornament for the exchange is going to be revealed and since our Christmas luncheon was canceled when Swine Flu reared it's ugly head (snout?) you haven't received it yet! Don't ruin it for yourselves! Turn away! I'm serious!***

Whoo, now where were we? Oh, yes, the time has come to show off your sassy Hand Made Christmas Ornaments for the year! Are your ready? Do you want to see mine first? Okay then, behold Light Bulb Snowman ...

It's so easy, you should try it! Want some tips?

I used ordinary burned out light bulbs that I cleaned with alcohol and cotton balls, and made a carrier out of an old box (mmm, eating the ice cream sandwiches was the best part!). Just cut a small "x" in the top and push the end in. Voila, the light bulb stands up and stays put.

Then I sprayed it with primer. This is for rust, it's just what I had on hand. I'm not even sure this step is necessary.

Next, I forgot to get a photo of the bulbs sprayed with Heirloom White spray paint. Any antique white will do. I did go over it at this point with layers of acrylic too, I wanted some texture and depth. But, it's just as nice with 3 layers of spray paint.

I wound craft wire around the threads on the base, twisted, and ran one end up finishing with a curly cue I use to hang it.

And the hat is just made from felt, similar to this pilgrim hat. I placed the brim on first and used a strip of felt to go around it to make the top hat. The whole thing is hot-glued.

The features are all drawn on with a sharpie and painted with acrylic paints.

You could paint a Santa on yours, or use glass paint and just paint dots and swirls...the possibilities are endless!

Click here to learn how to make a Book Page Christmas Ornament

Fun Kids Christmas Nativity Craft

I've had a few questions about my kids' nativity set from my Christmas tour this week. The Big Guy purchased ours from a woman at work who hand sewed them and it's a keepsake. I've seen some on Etsy and if you are willing to invest, it is a great thing to have around during the Christmas season (to keep kids' grubby paws off your Lennox, oh, and to teach them about Christmas...hee,hee).

BUT, if you want a fun, inexpensive project to help you get started...that's where I come in! Behold, Clothespin Baby Jesus!

Peacemaker brought this home from CCD last week and we've been waiting with baited breath for the seeds to sprout! Let's make it:

Fun Kids Christmas Craft, originally uploaded by hopestudios1.

1. Make a baby from a clothes pin, marker, and felt

2. Find an empty toilet paper roll to make a cradle.

3. Cut the TP roll in half lengthwise and crossways, leaving you with two semi-circles.

4. Hot glue the two half circles, round sides opposite to form a bed. Give the kids some soil and wheatgrass seeds (also known as "cat grass") to plant for bedding.

5. After about 7 days, you will have enough grass to cut for bedding.

6. Add to your favorite nativity!

Think of making all the other pieces to the nativity with more clothes pins and pieces of fabric! Like this one at Roger's Place Blog!

Still looking for more fun-with-kids craft ideas? Okay then, you could always make some Swirly Christmas Balls...

Your own chance to link up a Hand Made Christmas Ornament will be here soon! Check back around 10 pm for a sneak peak at tomorrow's post!


Ornament Wreath - Tutorial Tuesday

I know this wreath is all over the blog-o-sphere, but I needed a tutorial for today and this rocks...so, you're going to see it again! Nah!

This project is brought to you by my pretend super crafty boyfriend who could help me pick out clothes inspiring fellow blogger, Eddie Ross. (you know, the one I cheat on Martha with?)

This project is easy as pie, so let's get started.


Lots of Christmas ornament balls (big, small, medium, tiny, mix it up!)
Hot glue gun
Wire hanger

I went to the dollar store and picked up most of the ornaments, some are glass and some are plastic. Some are as tiny as a grape! I liked mixing up all the sizes, because I found that they nestled in and filled in all the gaps. I'm going to say, I spent about $12-$15 total and used somewhere between 80-100.

See? Ordinary wire hanger:

Now use your super-human strength to form it into a circle and untwist near the hanging part so you have an open end. (do you like all the technical terms I throw around, like, "hanging part?" Thought so.)

Here is my assortment of ornaments. This is the tedious part - hot glue the tops onto each ornament so it won't pop off the hanger and break all over your kitchen floor. (Yeah, I skipped this part and I'm still finding slivers of glass. This part really sucks, but it's recommended...I didn't do it and probably will never do it. I'm just trying to be a responsible tutorializer here. Like my made up word?)

Let's take a little break at this point and click on the picture and look for a distorted Juniper reflected in the balls trying to get a photo for you! (Thank goodness I didn't photograph these while naked!)

Now, simply slide the loop of the ball onto the hanger, one by one. You will see them fall into place, just mess around a little. If you see a big gap, just try to slide on a small ball or tiny ball, they will begin to fill in all around the hanger.

Now, come on, that's dang cute! You can coordinate the colors with your decor, you can add a ribbon, you could add different shapes...the possibilities are endless!

Now, I'm not dumb enough to think this is something new to you. This ornament wreath thing is a MOVEMENT! Soooo, go ahead, let me have 'em! Link up your ornament wreaths below and don't forget my big Christmas Ornament Linky Party is still scheduled for Thursday!

Your Skin Fix, December Edition