Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Card Tradtion

Do you have a family Christmas card tradition?  Or is your family's tradition that you take care of the Christmas cards?  Head over to Arizona Mama or Today's Mama to see how we finish around 45 Christmas cards in about an hour!

While you're there, check out their daily Great Toy Giveaway!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Family Home Evening: Thanksgiving

It is only fitting to have a Family Home Evening lesson on Thanksgiving this time of year.  We talked about Thanksgiving's importance is more than the food, which is a shocking concept for our family.  Thanksgiving includes being thankful, or having gratitude, and the important aspect of giving thanks or turning gratitude into an action.  As part of our lesson we used the Topical Guide to look up scriptures about Thanksgiving or thankful in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.  Any topic the Lord discusses in all four books must be important!

Our activity was another game of Harry Potter Uno and we warmed up to our treat of Hot Cocoa with marshmallows.  A child or two stirred their cocoa with a candy cane. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day
we acknowledge
our dependence.
- William Jennings Bryan

Friday, November 26, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Welcome to today's Favorite Friday Feeds.  I only have a couple today because I'm not a big Black Friday shopper.  I don't care for the crowds and I'm mostly done with my shopping (yeah!). 
  • Poca Cosas has the perfect Arizona snowman!
  • Travelin Oma has a great re-post on traditions.
I already filled my MP3 player with Christmas music; now it's time to take down the Thanksgiving decorations to get ready for our Christmas decorating!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pie Day Is Here Again!

Today I'll be up to my same antics as last year.  In addition to preparing pies and the stuffing foundations, I've been busy doing laundry, cleaning the house and getting a jump on next week's homework.  I've already finished my long overdue project of purging the file cabinet and packing the last few year's tax papers away!  

What do your Pie Day activities include?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Coupon Caddie

Yesterday, I finished my Thanksgiving shopping.  Even though I went around 2:30 in the afternoon, the store was pretty crowded.  It is good to be ready to start baking pies tomorrow and take advantage of some great deals, like 4-packs of batteries for only 48 cents!

This is how I organize and transport my coupons.  A friend of mine gave me this awesome box because she wasn't using it.  (I don't understand it myself, but I'm very grateful!)  It has 200 tabs, so if I'm looking for a coupon for mustard, it's under mustard - not grouped with a bunch of other condiments.  Besides the numerous categories, it also has handy little tabs to easily flip to the correct category.  It is much easier for me to use than the binder method I was using before.

While I was grocery shopping yesterday, I probably could have sold at least two of these little beauties.  I even gave one lady the website on my awesome coupon caddy, only to find the page no longer exists.  You could do make your own specific categories for the binder method, it just wouldn't have the easy to flip through tabs. An even better alternative is the Deluxe Coupon Organizer II with 80 categories or the Deluxe Coupon Organizer IV with 130.  The list at the top assigns a number to each category.  If I was looking for my deodorant coupons, I'd scan the list on top down to "d" and see that it is tab number 64 is deodorant.  I flip to tab number 64, and pull out my deodorant coupons and look for the brand that's on sale.

Yes, I was stocking up on deodorant and batteries and this handy coupon caddie is a great tool to help me build my food storage and save money!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I am Every Woman

We women are a varied group, but we often have so much in common.  Women seem much more likely to be going in 10 different directions at the same time.  I know my interests are varied and there are so many things I want to learn and skills I want to acquire, that I have a hard time focusing on any one thing at a time.  

A quick peak at my blog's thought cloud shows some of the range of my interests.  Many overlap, but there are over 20 interests that I've talked about on my blog in the last year and a half!  And I'm not the only one, although some bloggers are good at keeping their blogs to one subject - but they often have multiple blogs for other interests.  

I don't see men having so many or so varied interests.  No wonder women in general are overwhelmed so much of the time!  We want to be so many things, we want to keep learning and improving our selves.  And we want to be good at everything (or is that just me?)  

I think it's interesting that a typical "woman's magazine" like Better Homes and Gardens primarily focuses on cooking and decorating the home.  While many of us are interested in these things, we are often interested in much more.  I thought about how many magazines would it take to cover all of my interests.  And where would I come up with that kind of time to read them all?  It would be nice to have  all my interests in one place.

What would would your perfect magazine look like? 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Family Home Evening: Queen Esther

We had a great lesson about Queen Esther from the Old Testament.  We talked about her the courage she had to approach the king and ask for him to spare her people. By doing this, she added her life to those who were already endangered of losing their lives.  Part of what gave Queen Ester the courage to approach the king, was the faith that her people had in her and the Lord.  They fasted with Queen Ester to be successful.  

This story continues to teach me!  I usually think of this being a lesson of courage and faith, but what struck out to me this time I heard the lesson is how we can support and encourage others by fasting and praying for them.  

Our activity was our making Christmas cards; and our treat was Peanut Butter Cookies.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Thanksgiving

What we're really talking about is a
wonderful day set aside on the fourth
Thursday of November when 
no one diets.  I mean, why
else would they call it 
- Emma Bombeck

Friday, November 19, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

I can't believe it's the last Friday before Thanksgiving!  (Wasn't last week the last Friday before Halloween?)  Despite time whizzing by, I'm very excited about next week's festivities - and a week with no Biology homework!  I better get my act together and nail down Thursday's menu, or I could show you some of my favorites from today's RSS feed.  (I'll plan my menu this afternoon, I promise.)
  • Pardon the self promotion, but there is a great article on our family's Thanksgiving Traditions at Arizona Mama!
  • These place mats at Crazy Domestic would be so cute on the kids table!
  • I've been contemplating making homemade rolls instead of using Rhodes frozen rolls.  I'm loving the Idea Room's Thankful Rolls.
  • Why wait until next week for something to celebrate?  Your Cup of Cake created Harry Potter Cauldron Cakes in honor of the 7th Harry Potter movie opening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writing Improvements

I've been reviewing old posts and correcting a few things here and there.  In the process I've noticed the improvements in my writing and in my blog overall.  When I started my blog, I wanted it to be a record of my journey to become a better mom, and a better person.  I hoped that others would benefit from my lessons and find their own journey just a little easier.

That's still my basic goal, but in some ways it has broadened and in other ways it has narrowed.  My first posts back in May of last year, were fairly timid - they often lacked personality and humor.  I've been trying to include more of myself in my posts, which led to features like Favorite Feeds Friday.  

Originally I shared my personal goals and my progress.  It was a great source of accountability for me, but pretty boring for everyone else.  Instead I have a list the monthly numbers in a post at the beginning of each month.  Same purpose, but condensed and much more fun and interesting.

Besides the quality of the writing, the look of my blog has improved.  Just by increasing the font size so posts are easier to read and adding pictures more regularly has helped the aesthetics of my blog.  I still have some design changes in the works, hopefully I'll be able to roll them out before the end of the year.

Judging by the increase in traffic, all these things have started to pay off in the last few months.  Another landmark was last week's great give away!  It pleases me to be able to look back and see growth because often growth is so gradual it's hard to notice.  

Most important is you!  Thanks for spending a few minutes of your day sharing your journey with me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today's Mama Giveaway

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?
  • I'd like my family to safe, healthy, and obedient.
2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?
  • We get up at 4:30 am to open gifts.  When the gifts are unwrapped, we enjoy our traditional Christmas Breakfast.  (Yep. That's it's name, Christmas Breakfast.) Some wimpy family members take a nap.  The rest of us shower and play for the rest of the day.
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? 
  • A new car.  I'm not enjoying temporally being a one car family.
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
  • The best parts of Christmas don't require spending money.  There are hundreds of Christmas movies to watch; you can pretty much find one on TV any time in December.  And there's listening to Christmas music, and baking holiday goodies, and Christmas crafts.  I could go on, but I think you get the point.  The main reason for even having Christmas gifts is so I can torment my family with a song about me knowing what they are getting for Christmas. 
5. What games did you play with your family growing up?
  • One of my best childhood memories is playing games with my mom.  We played Crazy 8's and Rummy with a plain deck of cards.  We also played Uno, Aggravation, and Pay Day.
6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?
  • The only tradition I can remember from my childhood is decorating the Christmas tree as a family.  I do that with my own family, but we decorate the whole house!
7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?
  • I'd prefer an away-from-home trip after Christmas.  I really enjoy being home for Christmas and basking in the traditions.
  • For my after Christmas trip, I'd love to go back to Italy!
8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? 
  • My kids would love to get in on the Rock Band movement.  (I know, we're so behind the times)
  • They would also enjoy Lego Harry Potter.
  • Finally, we'd all have fun with Just Dance.
That was fun and now I can enter in Today's Mama amazing giveaway.  You can too!  While you're there, say hi by leaving a comment for me at Arizona Mama.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Cards

One Family Home Evening activity in November is always hand-making Christmas cards.  I design a simple card with several steps so everyone can have a job (or two).  This year we made 45 cards in about an hour.  I don't have a picture of the final results because I didn't want to take away the surprise of our family and friends.

Now I just need to write the Christmas letter, get a family portrait, and address all those cards.  At least I get the family to help on one part!

Monday, November 15, 2010

And the Winner Is...

I've seen other people use Random.org to choose a winner, or pick a number out of a hat.  I decided to try something a little different - my Bingo game.  I put 17 balls in the cage, one for each of your wonderful comments, and rolled it until the first number came out.  It was B 8; comment number 8 was left by Kirsten!  Congratulations!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family Home Evening: Joseph Smith's First Vision Revisited

Have you ever wondered where I get my fantastic Family Home Evening topics every week?  We have a simple chart that divides the responsibilities.  Every family member rotates from lesson to treat / conducting to scripture and so on.  I like this method for two reasons. One, it's a lot less work for me.  Two, and more important, it gives my children ownership in FHE and the experience of planning, preparing and executing their responsibility.  When they were little, I'd help them plan their lesson (sometimes even help them find a topic).  Now they usually do it on their own.  I'm still making or helping with the treat half the time, and that's OK because it's good quality time with my children.

One downside is sometimes the lessons, activities or songs get a little repetitive (sometimes even the treats)!  I pulled the bad mom card and banished a certain lesson because it felt like we were having the same lesson every week.  I do like the "Hold to the Rod" activity as much as the next person, but after four or five times in a row I was in desperate need for a change. 

One of my children chose the First Vision as a lesson.  Although we had the lesson several months ago, it was a good review.  And thanks to some awesome youth leaders, the lesson was well prepared; he even had cute little visual aides on a stick.  I was again impressed how different parts of the same lesson stand out.  This time we focused on scripture study, prayer and faith.

Our activity was one of our favorite games - What If?

I introduced our gratitude garland.  

One of the kiddos volunteered to bear their testimony for double treats.  You bribe your kids one time ... but it was nice to hear their testimonies again.  The double treat thing worked out because I made brownies and we had vanilla ice cream in the freezer!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Thanksgiving

Not what we say about our blessings,
but how we use them,
is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
- W.T. Purkiser

Do you like our Gratitude Garland?  Hop over to Arizona Mama to read the article!  

Time is running out to enter the CSN Stores $35 giveaway.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Welcome to the November 12 edition of Favorite Feeds Friday.  Can you believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away?  We made some serious progress on our Christmas shopping and even a little cleaning yesterday!  Here's my favorite feeds I found on Google Reader today:
  • Raimi from If Your're Happy & You Know It gave a touching Veteran's Day tribute.  And she took me on a little trip down memory lane with her picture of my childhood hometown.
  • The Mother Huddle shares some non-dinner Thanksgiving traditions.  Did I mention Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away?  I'm so excited!
  • Celebrations at Home has a great DIY gift box and candy recipe!
Thank you to all who have entered my drawing!  I'm so excited that CSN Stores is sponsoring the $35 giveaway so I can help one of my fantastic readers with their Christmas shopping.  (I won't tell if you spend it on yourself.)  If you still haven't entered, find out how here.  Remember to comment by Sunday at midnight!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christmas Shopping Help - a Giveaway!

Who wouldn't like a little help with their Christmas shopping?  I have just the thing for you, a $35 gift certificate to CSN Stores!  I've only heard of CSN recently.  They sell housewares, office supplies and furniture, bedding and other home decor items.  They even sell bathroom cabinets for your home remodel!

I recently won a CSN Stores gift certificate from Fun Snacks 4 Kids and have a great Christmas gift on its way as we speak.  I wish I could tell you what's coming - but Christmas secrets are too much fun!

So if you are interested in an extra $35 to help with your Christmas shopping, here's the details:
  • Leave a comment and share the best Christmas gift you've received.
  • Contest ends Sunday, November 14 at midnight.
  • Contest is open to those living in the U.S. and Canada.
  • The winner will be picked at random and announced Monday.
It's a pretty simple and straight forward contest, so comment away.  Good Luck!
This contest is now closed.  Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thanksgiving Preparations

I know if you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, you are probably thinking about the areas of your home you would like to deep clean before the big day.  I have a few things in mind too, but a big part of my Thanksgiving preparations is making room for the food!  November is the month to stock up on turkey, ham and baking supplies.  

Today I decided to get the stockpile of frozen chicken breasts out of my freezer and into the canner. I canned 18 jars of chicken, which worked out to about 16 pounds.  Since it's a long process, I figured this would be a good day to defrost the freezer (so I'd have room for a few turkeys and hams), clean out the pantry and the fridge, pack up the Halloween decorations and do my Biology lab.  I guess you could say my eyes were bigger than my schedule!  Do you ever do that too?

I did can my chicken, defrost the freezer and I finished my Biology lab.  Not to mention the not-so-quick trip to the store and an unexpected trip to the school to drop off a needed item.  I finally drug my aching body to the shower at 3:30pm.  I was rewarded with a "Thanks for canning the chicken Mom" from one of my kiddos!

I guess the Halloween decorations will stay piled on the floor for one more day (at least), along with the messy pantry and dirty fridge.  

What preparations do you want to complete before Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Barbie can Bend her Knees!

I played with Barbie dolls when I was a young girl, but the whole only child thing cut my Barbie years short.  They weren't much fun to play with by myself.  One of the most fun parts of playing with Barbie was bending her knees; it made a cool a cool sound and it felt neat.

A friend made fancy Barbie dresses for a couple of my girls.  Unfortunately the necks on both of the dolls cracked and couldn't keep their heads on - I'd never seen that happen to any Barbie, and then it happened to two in one week.  We were playing with the poor decapitated Barbie when I mentioned my favorite part of Barbie was her knees.  The kids looked at me like I was a little off my rocker until I showed them. How did they not discover that Barbie can bend her knees in all of those hours of play?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Family Home Evening: Gratitude

This week's lesson is about Gratitude.  For me this is a lesson that gives itself, we have so much to be grateful for in our lives.  Gratitude is a matter of focusing on the good things that happen.  We did have a very cool visual aid to go with our lesson.  As one of my kiddos talked about what we can be grateful for he poured water into a cup.  Then we listened to part of the story of Job and how he remained faithful to the Lord despite all that he lost.  Water was taken from the cup as we listened to all that Job lost, but his cup was never completely empty.  After he remained grateful through his trail, he was blessed with more than he had originally.  At this point more water was poured until the cup overflowed.  (Thank goodness it was in a bigger bowl to keep it from being messy.)  I like the reminder that the Lord has a desire to bless us with more than we can even imagine - and I can imagine a lot.  He is waiting for us to be open to all the blessings He wants to give until our cups are overflowing.

We had a unique activity.  We gathered on the floor around a bunch of Lego's and spent a minute building something we were grateful for, then passed to around the to let someone else add to it while we added to the person's on the opposite side of us.  My Christmas tree turned into a whole Christmas scene by the end!

Our treat was homemade caramel corn.  It was only the second time making it, I still have some room for improvement.  Everything but the burnt parts tasted good.  (I'll ignore the recipe and not even try to bake it next time!)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Sentament: Autumn

O sweet autumn, thy first breezes bring.
The dry leaf's rustle and the squirrel's laughter,
The cool fresh air whence health and vigor spring
and promise of exceeding joy hereafter.
- George Arnold

Friday, November 5, 2010

Favorite Feeds Friday

Welcome to the first Favorite Feeds Friday of November.  I guarantee there aren't any Halloween ideas on the list.  Without further ado...
  • Celebrations at Home shares 6 mostly pumpkin desserts, although the non-pumpkin pie is the most tempting.
  • My favorite Bugg is making huge strides lately - standing and sitting!
  • Booking Mama shares a review of a book I could sink my teeth into!  The Love Goddess' Cooking School has Italian food and love.  It reminds me of Eat, Pray, Love - which I haven't read, but I'd like to someday. I've heard mixed reviews for Eat, Pray, Love.  Have any of you read it?  What did you think?
  • The idea behind these cool garden markers at New Nostalgia could be used for so many similar projects.
  • This cookies and candy pizza at Megan's Munchies would be a fun party food!
  • Need a Christmas gift idea?  This frame tutorial from Bo Bunny might be just what you are looking for!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

National Young Readers Week

National Young Readers Week starts on Monday!  To help celebrate, I posted an article in it's honor over at Arizona Mama.  I also had my Halloween Dinners article, but I was late and it didn't go up until Halloween.  Maybe it will help for next year!

At the Homemaking Cottage, I have an article about our Gratitude Tree.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Caring Hearts Card Drive

I heard about this sweet card drive at Ling's Design Studio to bring a little cheer to the elderly this Christmas last week.  There's over a week to get any Thanksgiving or Christmas cards you would like to donate sent off.  

Or look into nursing homes in your area and send them a few signed cards to pass on to their residents who need it most.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Planning Christmas

Now that Halloween is over, it's time to get serious about planning Christmas.  Maybe the way I plan my Christmas shopping is a little nerdy or OCD, but it works for me.  I made a simple spread sheet with my kiddos names and my husband across the top.  In our family, we give four gifts to our children - something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.  So on the left hand side of my spreadsheet I have "Want", "Need", "Wear" and "Read".  Below that I have the names of all my children, to keep track of their gifts for each other (just to make sure everything is taken care of).  Last, is the section where Santa and I get in sync and make sure things are distributed evenly.

I start off filling my spreadsheet with ideas, then as I purchase gifts I highlight the box and include the price in parenthesis and keep a running total under each person's column.  A girl's gotta to keep track of her bottom line!

I also make an even simpler list on a separate tab of the spreadsheet of our extended family, friends and neighbors we like to do a little something for at Christmas.  The list will be getting shorter once again as we decided to send cards to our more of our extended family.  (That darn  budget thing again!)  I use this page the same as the first page, a place for ideas; then I highlight the gift when it's bought.  I also keep track of what I spent on each gift and a running total.  Email me (raejeaneasyaspie at gmail dot com) if you would like me to send you a blank copy.

I have ideas for some of my children, the older ones are more challenging - but at least they are content!  Besides collecting ideas for them, I also looking for ideas for neighbor gifts.  I found this recipe for Praline Ice Cream Sauce at Skip to My Lou that might fit the bill.  What do you think?  Do you have any awesome small gift ideas?

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Numbered

This has been a very eventful month, with many roller coaster rides (physical and emotional).  Overall, I have many reasons to be grateful in this season of Thanksgiving!

0 - Broken bones or major injuries
1 - Totaled vehicle
3 - Fun filled days at Disneyland
4 - Scrapbook layouts.  I'm very behind.  I need to complete 20 this month to complete my goal!
5 - Days spent with family in California
6 - Articles for The Homemaking Cottage and Arizona Mama.
8 - Times Trick or Treaters rang the doorbell.
20 - Blog posts
602 - Another record for monthly page views!  

What exciting benchmarks did you meet in October?


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