Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Tradition: A Visit from the New Year's Elf!

One of my favorite traditions of the holidays is the visit from the New Year's Elf! This is a tradition that my maternal grandfather began years ago, and my mother remembered it as a young child.

To receive a visit from the New Year's Elf, you simply place a pair of shoes under the Christmas tree on New Year's Eve (given that your tree is still standing--we leave ours up until January 1st). When you awake, you'll find that your shoes are filled with goodies: money, small treats, lip gloss, an orange, small boxes of sugary cereal---(you know, the ones that we parents rarely let our kids eat), and other trinkets that will fit inside the shoes. Some years he has brought small flashlights, puzzles, stuffed animals, Littlest Pets, gloves, chocolate oranges, and occasionally, if the shoes are in poor condition, he'll even exchange your old pair of shoes for new ones!

The New Year's Elf is not of the same gift-giving caliber as Jolly Old St. Nick....The Elf's gifts are small and more simplistic in nature. Just little tokens to enjoy as we celebrate the ringing in of a new year!

My husband's family does not share this same tradition. In fact, I know of no one outside of my own siblings that participates in anything like this. But my young children are always amazed at the fact that wherever we go for New Year's Eve, the Elf seems to find us, even if the homeowners are non-believers! One year at my in-law's house, their Christmas tree was already taken down, so we placed our shoes underneath a large plant that was in their front room. Lo and behold, not only were my own little family's shoes filled the next morning, but our grandparents' shoes as well!

No one (to my knowledge) is quite sure how this tradition got started, or why. My best guess is that my English grandfather liked the German custom of leaving shoes out on December 5 for St. Nicholas to fill. Somehow, he fixed the date for his own family to be New Year's Eve, and over time, the New Year's Elf was conceived. A common expression my extended family exchanges during the holidays is, "Don't forget to put your shoes out!"

If any of you share a unique or similar tradition in your family, I'd love to hear it!

Best wishes to all for a safe and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Proof of Santa's Visit on Christmas Eve!

Santa is slated to visit tonight, and I just discovered the perfect way to document his visit! Pop in at to create proof that Santa Claus has visited your house!

Simply take a photo of your tree or fireplace, upload it to the site, and then choose from dozens of posing Santas to superimpose upon your uploaded photo. The current cost is 9.95 per photo, with the second photo free. After that, each photo is just 99 cents. What a fun idea for keeping the magic of Christmas alive...

I'm guessing Santa will leave us a note tonight to take a peek at our computer on Christmas morning. There we may just find that he has uploaded his photo as our new screen saver! Won't that be a hoot?

I hope that all of you have the merriest of Christmases!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Minute Gift Idea - Kitchen Gift Basket

You Can Make This has had a gift giving series with some great ideas! If you are in need of some last minute inspiration, along with free downloads for projects, you are in luck! They even have a free download for some darling printable gift tags to coordinate.

Check out their blog for some fun ideas to get your juices flowing (you the last 8 days we have or something!). Here is a sampling of what Kim has been busy doing (and it happens to feature the oven mitt pattern I designed, and it's free!). Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Advent Candle Activity

Each year at Christmas, I determine that I want to have a more Christ-centered Christmas. As we have all experienced, it is so easy to become consumed with shopping, decorating, crafting, gift-giving and receiving, dreams of Santa and all he might bring....all good things! But sometimes it is easy to get carried away, and we easily forget the true reason that we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

My sweet friend Dana, gave our family an early Christmas present that I'm so excited about! It is just a little something that will help us stay more focused each day on Jesus Christ, and truly ponder upon his life and all the reasons we have to celebrate His birth. We her permission, I share it with each of you. Not only is this a great activity for our families, but it is also an inexpensive, yet meaningful gift for neighbors and friends. Please share it as much as you'd like.

Simply click on the image below to enlarge it, and print it to follow each day for the next twelve days, finishing up on Christmas Day.

At each nightly reading, light a candle as a reminder of the Light that Christ brought into the World. In the image above, I took the tapered candle she gave us, and simply placed it in a dollar store goblet filled with Epsom Salt and tied with a ribbon. We'll place this at the center of our table each night as we read. I think I'm going to serve hot cocoa as well...just to make the activity that much more enticing and special.

I hope as Christmas approaches and throughout the upcoming year, we can each find room in our hearts to let the Savior in to our lives. In the words of Thomas S. Monson, "If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter's hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth."

With love and wishes for a special Christmas,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Decking the Halls (and each other...), Along with a Few Decorating Ideas!

It seems as though I've been MIA lately... As I'm sure you are all experiencing, there is never a dull moment during the holiday season! Here is a peek at what we've been doing at our house for the last few weeks....

Decking the halls.

An eventful visit to the E. R. on a Saturday night.

Yep, you can't beat that for entertainment! In our home, we have a large, open, great room that houses our kitchen and family room altogether with vaulted ceilings. I truly love the openness that it creates, and unfortunately, my kids love it as well, although for different reasons. It makes the perfect football arena, much to my dismay--especially when there's snow on the ground outside. I've talked, and cajoled, and threatened, and taken away privileges, but after so long, it has become a fight I'm tired of fighting--especially when one of the culprits is the biggest kid of all. My hubby! So now, I just try to ignore it for the most part---until they leap over my couch or run in circles around the kitchen table. Then I have to put my foot down!

We've only had a few casualties---broken glass in a picture frame, the tip of a hat off of one of my favorite Jim Shore Santa figurines (I just discovered that today--and the little gremlins thought they could hide that from me, I'm sure!), and of course, now, Blondie's eye.

She and the Little Missy were playing football tag with a small foam football, and avoiding being hit with it when it was thrown at them. Not 15 seconds earlier, the words had come out of my mouth: "Hey, you girls need to take that outside." I continued cleaning the kitchen and soon heard the soft "foomp" of the football as it hit Blondie and I saw her flamboyantly buckle to the floor, holding her face in her hands. Knowing her flair for drama, I said, "Goodness, Blondie, it's just a foam ball!" and continued with my work, pretty much ignoring her there. (This is where my candidacy for Mother of the Year comes in.)

Several seconds later, (Blondie still on the floor), AW came in the house from outside and asked me, "What's with her?" pointing in her direction. Blondie straightened up to look at him, and he quickly followed up with, "Um, mom. She's, um, bleeding." That got my attention, and sure enough, blood had pooled onto the kitchen floor, and was streaming down her face from her eye.

Apparently, while ducking out of the way of the oncoming ball, she had caught her eye on the edge of my kitchen counter, splitting it open near the eye brow. So yes, good times. Three hours later, her eye brow was glued shut (thank goodness for her, no stitches!) and we were able to return home from the E.R. Pretty sure that Mother of the Year award will arrive soon. I'm counting on it.

Taking in the festive lights.

A little decorating.

I love this candle idea from one of my new favorite blogs, Rainy Day Farms. It is delightful! I think she is living the farm life I was supposed to have, and I love looking at her gorgeous photos of her yard and farm.

Anyhoo, she has a tutorial on her blog for how to create these beautiful candles, and it's so easy. You simply need a candle, some Epsom Salt, and a little Modge Podge. I placed my candles on a dollar store plate, and added some wayward greenery that I found in a box, along with some berries off of one of my trees. I love how mine turned out!

A little holiday designing, stitching, and sewing.

That is a given. Always a work in progress going on around this place. As we all know, Christmas is crazy, and somehow a sense of humor helps us manage! Come see my latest design and read the entire quote!

And check out the blog at You Can Make This! They have a DIY gift series going on that is terrific!

I have a Christmas Advent Activity coming up that I think you'll find worth your time... It begins the 12 Days Before Christmas, which is Monday, December 14. All you need is a candle, and I'll take care of the rest for you! Be sure to check back before then for details!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scentsy Candle Warmer Winner!

Welcome new followers and friends! I'm so appreciative of the enthusiasm you each displayed for the give-away that Debi of Scentsy has sponsored. I am confident that you will be pleased with her products! Now remember, you (that means all of you---even you who are reading this blog for the first time ever!) can each email Debi requesting a catalogue, and she will send you a car candle for free (a $3.00 value). Just remind her that I sent you. She will keep you updated with each month's promotional scent and warmer style. (I just received my flyer for December, which is promoting the Candy Shoppe warmer shown above, with the Cinnamint scent. Yummy!)

So now for our winner of the Scentsy Full-sized Warmer and fragrance bar (may we have a drum roll please)... The winning comment chosen from goes to ...number 30!

"I tweeted about your giveaway!!

BlueRibbonXS: Have you visited @HaystackDesigns blog: ...she is having a great Scentsy Giveaway!!"

Congratulations, BRD girl! I can't wait for you to try out your new warmer! (She chose the Boleyn Warmer, and I think it's just beautiful.) Debi will be in contact with you soon!

Thanks to all for entering, for becoming new followers and friends, and for visiting my blog! I love having you along for the ride! And again, a special thanks to Debi for a fantastic give-away!!!

Tomorrow you'll get a peek at what I've been doing over the last few sure to check back!

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