Christmas dessert/gift

For the last few years a Christmas tradition for our family has been to make Juniors Famous Cheesecake. Let me assure you, this is unlike any cheesecake you have EVER had. The most creamy, rich, fattening cheesecake on earth! With a spongecake crust and 4 packages of cream cheese, this recipe is sure to please. So if you are looking for a dessert for your holiday, this is it!!! It's a bit time consuming, but trust me... VERY worth it! Here is the link to the recipe. It includes a topping recipe but I have never used it. No need.


Happy Birthday, Jesus!!!

Last week, the kids and I went to a Happy Birthday Jesus Party at a friends house. If you haven't done this with your little ones, you really must! It is such a great way to show them exactly what Christmas means. It can be as elaborate or simple as you would like. Below are a few ideas for a party with friends. However, you can use any of these ideas for a small family party on Christmas day (or any day near Christmas for that matter).

The Cake
What is a party without a cake??? You can make a cake (or order one) that is as elaborate as simple as you prefer. This year, the party we went to, had cupcakes. Here are a few examples I found online.

Here is a more "elaborate" one:

Here is one I found over at As We Walk.

We make our own birthday cake on Christmas day every year even if we do go to a party earlier in the month. It refocuses all of us to the real reason for Christmas. It's fun to let the kids decorate the cake too.

Pin the Star on the Manger
A super simple idea for a party game is to play pin the star on the manger. Simply find a Coloring page and print extra stars. Then, play the game as normal, with or without blindfolds depending on the age of the children.

Gingerbread Houses
Here is a great craft that we did at the party last week, but you can do just for fun. Take an empty orange juice or milk box. Let the kids put frosting on the side of the box then half of a graham cracker. then frost the cracker and put the candies on. Here are a couple of examples that my kids made.

Hope you all have fun celebrating the birth of JESUS!!!!


Elf on the Shelf

This idea comes a bit late, so maybe you can tuck it away for next year. However, if you start tonight, you could still squeeze it in. Trust me, this one is so worth it!

We were that family that never really PUSHED the Santa thing, but we didn't skip it either. The kids stockings are filled with toys and treats from Santa every year. None of the gifts from under the tree were because, frankly, I paid too much money and put too much thought into them to give Santa the credit!

Well, this year I wanted to take it a bit further, but I wasn't sure how I was going to accomplish that. Until, last week while at a Christmas get together at a friends house, she showed me her Elf on the Shelf. I had never heard of such a thing, and if you haven't either... getting ready to be delighted.

Meet the commercial version of Elf on the Shelf:

So what is it? It is your family elf, sent by Santa, to make observe whether the children in your home have been naughty or nice. Each night he heads back to the North Pole to report his findings to Santa. Then, every morning the children must find his new location in the house. There are a few rules with the shelf elf. Your children must name their elf as soon as he arrives to your home. They may NEVER touch the Elf!!! If they do, he will lose his magic. The children can talk to the elf, but he can not talk to them. Simple rules, but VERY IMPORTANT!

The Elf on the Shelf above is available for purchase along with a book that explains the rules and why he is there. However, it is $30! Instead, I searched online to see if anyone else had made their own elf. Along with a few scary looking elves, I found this tutorial. It was perfect.

Here is our version:

Here is the wording I used for the letter that arrived with our family elf.

Dear Caden, Alanna, Abram, and Eli,
Merry Christmas! It is my pleasure to introduce the bearer of this note as the Magic Elf assigned to your family this holiday season.
This Magic Elf will visit your household from now until Christmas Eve, to observe the behavior of any good little boys or girls residing herein. Each night the elf will report back to me to inform me if each of you have been naughty or nice. When I arrive on Christmas Eve, the Magic Elf will come back to the North Pole with me to help prepare for next year.
There are a few things you must remember. First, give the magic Elf a name. Second, and this VERY important, do NOT... I repeat, do NOT touch the elf. If any of you do, he will lose his flying abilities! Finally, you may talk to the elf, but he will not talk to you. I have given him strict orders not to! Each morning when you wake up, you must find his place in the house because he will sit in a new location after returning from the North Pole.

I must also add that I have been made aware of prior incidents of Elf Mischief on the part of this Elf. Should any Elf Mischief occur, please feel free to contact me at the address below.

Your Sincerely,
Mr. S. Clause
Santa's Workshop
North Pole
It was a huge hit! The kids have LOVED this part of Christmas so much. It has been fun for Dan and i as well. Finding a new spot and coming up with creative ideas has been fun. This weekend, the elf caused some mischief and made flour angles on our counter. We simply sprinkled flour on the counter, place the elf on top and moved his arms and legs to form a flour angel. We brushed most of it off but left a little evidence with some flour tracks to his new spot for the next morning in the kitchen. The kids ate it up! We had baked cookies the day before so when they found the flour, they made up their own story as to why he had done such a bad thing!
If you do this with your children, have fun with it! It's awesome!!!


Christmas Decorations

Here are a few Christmas decorations I made at our MOPS group this week. They were easy, fun and so cute!

The first is a Christmas card holder. It is simply 2 yards of ribbon folded in half with different lengths of dowel rods hot glued in between. Then, a small ribbon tied to the top for hanging. You use clothes pins to hold the cards on. You could paint your dowel rods or clips if you prefer.

Then we made an advent calendar out of matchboxes. You can find these all over online. It was very easy, but a tad time consuming. But so worth it in the end.


Catching up

We are all finally healthy!!! YAY!!! I'm about to finish editing our last wedding of the year and then... a much needed 4 month break. While that's not so great for the pocket book, I'm excited to breathe before the summer craziness next year! WOOHOO!! And of course... MORE CRAFTING!!! (or, at least, I hope so.)

Last time I mentioned that I had gotten together with a few friends for our hair accessory workshop. It was so much fun and gave us a great opportunity to make something for Christmas gifts. That's the advent conspiracy at it's finest! Here's how I set it up.

1. We picked a location (our church) that would allow us to work while our little ones played. It worked perfectly.

2. I printed a bunch of tutorials I found online (below is a list of tutorials we used).

3. I gathered the materials (mostly from my stash). I found 100 alligator clips for $10 on amazon with free shipping! I have tons left over too!

4. On the day of, I simply set out the tutorials and the supplies and we went to town.

Here are a few of the ones I made:

Isn't that pinwheel clip adorable???


Holy Sickness, Batman!

A few weeks ago the flu started to run ramped through our family. As soon as 4 out of 6 of us finished that, the cold hit all 6 of us. Then, last Sunday, the flu reared it's ugly head again and finished with me yesterday... on my birthday. Needless to say, it was a lousy day. So, I have had all of these fun things to share with you, but no energy left to actually blog about it. I have some finished projects I hope to share with you before the end of the weekend. First, a little trip back to Thanksgiving and the fun dress I made for my sweet niece, Madysen.

I simply made a quick pattern out of one of her dresses and put a turkey applique on the bottom. Simple and adorable!

Here is Mady with my husband, Dan. We love her!

More to come... including a fun get together/Christmas workshop idea for you to do with your friends.


Turkey, Turkey!

I have been itching to do some sort of craft for so long now! My lack of crafting/posting is mostly because of the busy wedding season (my husband and I own and run a photography business). We just finished our last wedding of the year last weekend. So, I am looking forward to finishing up all the editing so I can get my hands back into the crafts.

I have been working on some ideas for Christmas projects, which I will start posting after Thanksgiving, and made my daughter a hair clip for Thanksgiving.

Isn't it adorable? I found some tutorials online (there all over the place) and tweaked them a bit to make this. We love it!


"Green" Gift Wrap

I HATE spending a ton of money on gift wrap, just for it to be thrown away. At the same time, I like the presents to look beautiful under the tree. No cheesy Christmas wrap for me! In Leui of my husband being out of work for the last 6 months, some creativity is definitely in order this year!

I have a bunch of cheap and pretty wrapping ideas this year. Here are a few that you can try with Newspaper of all things! These ideas all came from a friend of mine, Melissa. She is our creative activities director for our MOPS group. I think you will enjoy these as much as I do.

Idea number 1!

First wrap your gift with newspaper.

Then fold a few sheets of newspaper accordion style. Use three or more sheets, depending how full you want your flower to be. Then cut enough ribbon for each fold you have at the length of your newspaper.

Place one piece of ribbon in each fold.

Pinch in the center and tie with a ribbon.

Separate your layers and tape to your gift.

You could use black ribbon to maintain the black and white or use a color for a little pop. Both are gorgeous!

Idea number 2! (this is my favorite)

Fold a sheet of newspaper in half.

Starting at the unfolded edge, cut strips all the way across, but not all the way through. Don't make them too thick... about an inch.

Roll it up so it looks like this:

Here's my favorite part: CURL IT!!! (Who knew newspaper could curl?)

Tape it to your present!


Idea number 3!

If you're any thing like me, you hate wrapping bottles. Even more than that, you HATE using gift bags. Here is the perfect solution.

Lay your bottle at the bottom edge of a sheet of newspaper.

Roll it up and tape it down.

Start cutting 1 inch strips down to the neck of the bottle.

Tie a ribbon around the neck.


How fun is this?

Have fun with your wrapping this year but maybe try to keep it cheap. I was even told that you can go to your local newspaper and ask for their end bolts. They just throw them away. It's blank newspaper. Have your kids color it or just use it the same as above.


Simple Christmas Garland

Did you ever learn to finger knit when you were young? If you have, here is a simple idea to do with your little ones or even by your self for that little bit of nostalgia. The other day I pulled out some cheap red yarn from my stash and started finger knitting a garland for Christmas.

It's a fun and easy project I'm teaching Alanna. She loves all things crafty so this was a perfect project for us. For those of you who don't know how to finger knit, here is a link.


Advent Calendar

Advent Calendars have come a long way. It is an old German tradition. But they started far different than what we now use. Families used to make a chalk line each day until Christmas. Now we can find or make all kinds of elaborate advent calendars.

Here is one antique Advent Calendar that I found online.

My mom used to buy the cardboard ones that you popped open and ate a piece of chocolate each day.

It was one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I know... an advent calendar of all things!

our goal this year is to GIVE not to get. So a lot of our Christmas traditions will be altered to accomplish this.

This year we are going to be using our new advent calendar differently. Instead of finding candy or gifts inside, my children will be finding a little note and maybe something to go along with it. It won't be something for them, but something for them to do for someone else. My children are young so the concepts will be pretty easy. Here are a few of the examples I have come up with so far:

1. Make a Christmas card for someone you love (maybe a special token or picture to use on the card)
2. Do something kind for one of your siblings.
3. Help mom and dad shovel the neighbors driveway.
4. Bring hot cocoa to your teacher (a little hot cocoa packet in the box)

Over the last couple of days, Alanna and I made a new calendar. It is simply icicle boxes with the numbers 1-24 on them.

Here is the template I used to make these. (Although, I wish I had used this one) I did not print the template on the back of the paper we used because I had 12x12 paper. I knew I could fit more than one each piece! So, I traced the template 3 times on each sheet of paper. Then, I used the template as a guide to fold them correctly. I didn't cut the handle out, but just used a hole punch instead. You can do either. Alanna and I picked out a bunch of branches from the backyard to stick in a vase. Then we hung the boxes. I'm not sure if I will leave these on the sticks, though. Maybe just on the Christmas tree. Either way, they're coming down until December :)


I'm back

With the insane amount of work I have been doing for the business, I haven't had time to even think about crafting. So sad!!! Well, I feel inclined to share some thing with you that has been on my heart - something Dan and I fully intend to do with and for our family. I hope that you will also be inspired!

It's almost that time of year!

Do you constantly find yourself stressed? Is your goal just to survive the season? Do you hate the long lines, greedy shoppers, and bogus sales?

Let me introduce you to a new way to celebrate Christmas...

What is the advent conspiracy? In a nut shell, the idea is to spend less and give more. Americans spend 4 BILLION on Christmas EVERY YEAR!!! And you wonder why the stores are already putting up Christmas displays. We buy useless things that the recipient doesn't even care about. The idea here is to put time into gifts that build relationships. Maybe it's a date night for your brother and sister-in-law while you babysit their little ones. Maybe it's a family outing. A handmade gift. The possibilities are endless. It's about getting back to the basics and away from the consumerism of Christmas.

If you want more in depth info on what the advent conspiracy is, check out www.adventconspiracy.org

So, why am I bringing this up? Because my husband, children and I are implementing this. Our goal is to build relationships and bless those around us. So, get ready for some great crafts, recipes, and tips for Christmas. There will be ideas from all over the place.

The kids and I will be making our first project tonight! So, get ready!

I hope you will be inspired.


Undies and Presents

Today was a crazy day, but a great day! After only 3 days of potty training, our 2 year old (Abram) is potty trained!!! Incredible! He didn't even have ONE accident today! The easiest kid ever. So, I made him some underwear out of old t-shirts using that*darn*kat's awesome pattern for Children's Undies.

I loved it. They turned out soooo cute and it was such an easy project! They fit nicely and do not have big gaps where the leg wholes are like the store bought ones tend to have on my kids. I will DEFINITELY be using this again for all of my children. Try it. You'll love it.

In other news, my youngest (Eli) turned 1 today. So sad. It's hard watching him grow up so fast. Even on the 4th child, it never ceases to amaze me how fast it goes by. Eli is so cute though. I made him a smash cake and he refused to get dirty. So, he didn't bother with his hands.

Cross-eyed and all. Adorable.


The $4.00 Fall Jacket

That's right! $4.00! I need to keep reminding myself that it only cost me $4.00 to make this jacket since the amount of time I put into it was bull. I used Alanna's old jacket as a pattern, but some how screwed up along the way and ended up with a jacket 3 sizes to big for her. So, the next morning, back at it. I had to pull the thing almost completely apart, re-cut it and re-sew it. Then it was done. It fits. Thank God. The $4.00, 4 hour jacket became the $4.00, 8 hour jacket. But... It was only $4.00.

I love that this jacket isn't restricting with buttons all the way down. It leaves lots of room to play and was, aside from my fiasco, easy to make. I'm debating a pattern for this one after I tweak it. We'll see.

I think I'm going to put a second button above the one that is already there. I don't like the way the corners won't stay folded down. Either that, or I'll put some sort of seam in it to hold it down the way I want to. Or maybe just tack it down with a quick stitch and add a cute flower? hmmm.

The fabric I used for the lining was leftover from a baby sling I made a few years ago. The arms are also lined. It's a cute little touch without being childish looking. And... it was in my stash... so no extra cash!


It's FALL!!!

Fall is my favorite time of year. Though, it would be better if it were not followed by Wisconsin winters... blah. But with that nasty thought aside, I love fall for so many reasons. Apple picking. Sweatshirts. Leaves. Acorns. chilly days. Sweaters. Hats. Pumpkins.

So, in keeping with the fall theme, I made a fun little decoration. ACORNS!!!

It's so darling! Isn't it?

I used the same technique I have used in the past to make felt strawberries. They are super simple. I did a search after making these and there is another tutorial online that you can find here. Equally as great.

Here's what we did...

My daughter and I went outside to pick acorns out of the back yard. We kept the tops and the nuts. But, this craft is just with the tops. I'm working on another project with the nuts.

Then I cut out my fabric in a circle that measures about 3 inches. I did so by tracing a childs cup.

I folded the circle in half and sewed a curved line to about the center. See how the seam next to the fold is curved? If you make it completely straight, your acorn will have a point at the bottom. This is an easy way to prevent that.

I did this a bunch of times.

Then I clipped next to the seam.

When you fold it right side out, you will have a sort of cone shape. Now put a long running stitch through the top with a hand needle.

With a small amount of stuffing, stuff your acorn. Try to stuff it pretty full so that it will have a nice round shape. Otherwise there will be a lot of creases at the top. I did some of both and the fuller ones look much better. Now pull the thread tight and tie it shut.

You should have this:

Next, glue on the top of your acorn with a hot glue gun.

Now make a whole bunch of them and you will have your own bowl of cuteness!