Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Very Merry Advent {Shopping Guide}

So, wait?! I can't start celebrating Christmas right now? ....Well, I guess I'll twiddle my thumbs.

No! >>Don't Jump The Gun.<< Some people have all their bases covered, even an Advent playlist (!!!). But what if you're a newbie to the Advent game? It starts in two weeks!  What is needed?

In honor of the fact that I'm going out of town, today is a special post! Here are 20 things to kick off your Advent celebration and observation.  

and.... joke time.
Stephen: Why does Sufjan sound so sad when he says "Rejoice"?
Me: He's happy, but he's expectant.  #laughcry

1.  Silver Advent Wreath

Here is a pretty wreath that is simply that: it holds your candles.  I have searched every where for an Advent wreath like the one we have, but I actually found it at a Lutheran thrift store during our Annapolis days. It is wonderful for adding living greenery!

For so long, I celebrated using red candles, because that felt seasonally appropriate to me. I have finally- I'm proud to say- converted! *yay!* And I use the pink and purple candles, now.


These are pretty purple placemats to Advent-up your table during the season.

To be honest, I have never done Jesse Tree observaton. But I think this would be a good one to start with. It would be great for kiddos who want to be involved in the celebrating!

5. St. Nicholas movie (A Story of Joyful Giving)

This Veggie Tales classic is a must-see for our family during this time of year. Try a Chocolate Brunch on St. Nicholas Day. (This year-- It's December 6th-- coming soon!!!)

It is a tradition to place coins, candy canes, and maybe a little gift in some shoes for the Feast of St. Nicholas. Here's a good place to start.

7. Tomie dePaola Books

Joy to the World: Tomie's Christmas Stories is wonderful and I have already sung the praises of our family's favorite Christmas/Advent book author and illustrator in this post.

My Mom has a collection of these gorgeous dolls on her mantle.

These are adorable and little hands will want to grab them and interact with them.  Fun!

I have not bought these yet, but I simply adore the idea of this and I'm putting it on our wishlist.!

11. Chocolate Coins

Tuck these in some shoes on the morning of the Feast of St. Nicholas!

This version is quite expensive, but we have this on our shelf and we absolutely adore getting it down every year!

13. Jesse Tree books

This would certainly be helpful to add to your collection.

14. Books for The Legend of St. Nicholas and St. Lucia

Read them on the Feast Days and celebrete a special Brunch with your children.

15. Our Lady of Guadalupe

This book of feasts around the world looks like it would be helpful (although I cannot vouch for sure as we do not own it ourselves).

16. Playmobil Nativity Set with Manger

This sweet set would be the perfect playing pastime for kids celebrating the season in December.

17. Little People Nativity

18. Advent Tablecloth

19. Advent Door Wreath

20. Advent Garland

I hope that helps!  Now I'm just waiting for a Charlie Brown Advent movie to come out.  👅#justintimeforchristmas

God bless you!!! :0)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Advent Planning~ Why Celebrate and What's to Come

Have you bought your Advent candles yet? Soon it will be time to pull out our Advent wreath as we anticipate Christmas and remember the coming of Jesus in our hearts. I've long been an advocate of planning and observing Advent in our homes.  Like the analogy I offered last year, celebrating Christmas before the 12 days is like popping in some sugary bubblegum right before you brush your teeth, or eating a bunch of sticky candy right before you hop in the Dentist's chair.

Don't jump the gun, if you're tempted to say it is already Christmas on December 1st (or sooner!) It may be common or popular to decorate for (celebrate) Christmas early. Yet, but we cheapen the "joyful expectation" when we stuff ourselves full of shopping and sweets and cookies and Christmas carols this time of year.  There is a purpose for the expectation and the waiting!

This year for Advent, I'm taking that to heart, and I will be blogging less. In fact, going to only post twice during Advent.

Last year, I posted what was probably "my best" and most thorough Advent recap of all of our Christmas traditions and the things our family is dedicated to doing! Because I'm pretty sure I can't top that, I will just link to them here.

Christmas and Advent Books
Christmas and Advent Movies

Week One (Preparing Our Home)
Week Two (Family Traditions)
Week Three (Seasonal Celebrations)
Week Four (Christmas is Here-- includes Christmas carols)

Instead of trying to recreate that this year, I will post two Advent recaps (total) and stay more involved, over on instagram, to share seasonal traditions with my followers! :)

Expect more of the same around here-- celebrating the Church's feast days (St. Lucia, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Nicholas), Seasonal celebrations (School Christmas Program, Breakfast With Santa, Family Christmas card photos), and Family Traditions (Making Spice tea, Glitter playdoh for the holidays, Christmas tree, baking cookies!)

And of course, lighting the Advent wreath and observing the season with an Advent calendar!

All of that, plus a giveaway and also-- look for a post detailing how I shop, how to celebrate the `12 days, and then....  Epiphany!

Some posts I have found helpful around the internet in preparing your home/house/heart for Advent:

Planning For Advent and Christmas @ Catholic Icing

A Brunch For Our Lady of Guadalupe @ Shower of Roses

Brunch for the Feast of St. Nicholas @ Catholic Cuisine

How We Try to Celebrate Things In Their Proper Order Without Feeling Like Total Jerks @ Catholic All Year

Friday, November 10, 2017

weekly minutiae vol34-- just checking in + stuff!

I'm joining up with 7 QT today "I can have one, since I quit"*  philosophy (from Cigarettes and Coffee) to share my weekly ramblings.  Nothing original here, just a report of recent thoughts and doings... reading, buying + what I'm prepping for!  Christmas/Advent prep is just a brainstorm away here in these parts. #pumpkinfog
I call this photo "I should be a retarded food blogger" (i know that word went out of style in the very early 90's)
because I burnt a chocolate cake, then set it on a hot stove and it exploded literally everywhere


I think, you guys, that I have finally learned (maybe mastered?) the art of reading several books at once.  Ever since I can remember, I have struggled with multi-tasking, reading included.  I'm not sure why, but the most I could handle was one book on my iPad and one hardback.  I have never been a bedside table reader. Usually, I was a "devour" type reader who would be All In a series or novel or even novella. Loved binge-reading The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agencry.  But you guys! I am finally reading three books-- parallel synchronization-- total right now and I'm really enjoying it. I've been pondering it, and I think the key is that they are all differently paced. One is slooooow but rich and good (Possession, recommended by Fountains of Carrots), one is quick, fast-paced and rather simple (Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg), and the other is dense and thoughtful and meaty, but not quite as slow-as-molasses as the first (Flight Behavior by Kingsolver).

I'm really happy I've made this discovery ... as I have always envied those who seem to have twenty books going at once (How *do* they do it?!)  #passthepizza


So this week. Ya'll, despite what you might think and despite my actions to the contrary (definition of hypocrisy? I think yes).... I have been saving money.  I am sticking to a budget and we are getting so much better at hardcore saving (Dave Ramsey, yada yada... cough cough... EMERGENCY FUND people!!!).

I am doing a cash-only policy. So when I saw this beauty at a consignment store marked way down from the original price, (owers were sooo good to it, too!) I checked and I didn't quite have enough cash to buy it.  I said a quick prayer, then searched my wallet for my VISA credit card and then remembered I gave it to Stephen over the weekend. I was upset but I put it on hold. Came back the next day, and tried to write a check, but learned they don't take checks!  So.... I called my Mom.  Aaaaaand, suffice it to say I basically asked her for an early Christmas present!  And yes- epic!- she agreed to buy it.

Isn't it lovely! Just perfect for our perfect baby. :) (ha ha) :0)


I don't get too much into Christmas prep (I don't start buying presents until December- seriously, ya'll) but this post and youtube video (short!) are really helpful.  @ >> Come Home For Comfort<< This is one blog/channel I have actually really been enjoying over the course of the past year. (really really!!!)  Whitney is thoughtful, very organized, and best of all extremely real and honest. refreshing totally so go check her out.

I call this photo "joyful hope"

I am excited about it.


Other than saving, I have been a little busy trying to take on a new challenge. New, for me.. which is to be a little more involved on instagram (grow a following, yada yada).

I participated in the #onedayhh hashtag yesterday and it was fun!



I'm just thinking about how grateful I am for irl community. It is so important to stay afloat in the midst of the muck and yuck and jealousy that is early motherhood (your thirties), and all that goes with that. To those of you bearing a particular burden or cross, know that others look at you and think "Perfect life"! We are so impressed by what you do. And you should *never, ever* sell yourself short or think you aren't capable of something. Harness that creativity baby baby and GO for it! Whatever "it" may be... an etsy shop, a book, a painting, a poem, whatever your "it" is.  Do it and don't let the world miss out on your genius!  In the mean time, stay connected where you are and don't forget the light you are to those who feel they may be missing out (on something).  I think the key is to slow yourself down and take care of that human being first (you you girl)... get therapy or irl community at the very least!

Have a good week ya'll!

*I gave up link-ups a while back :0)
Hi Kelly!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

How I DIY-ed My kids' 6 Halloween costumes

This year, I decided I wanted to DIY my kids' Halloween costumes. It was so much fun (if stressful) and they turned out great!  This process had 2 purposes-- both working for me! One, when you DIY you can really do the costume your kids are really itching to be. Second, it is much cheaper and easier on the budget not to buy brand new costumes for everyone. As you'll see I definitely could have kept the DIY costume tradition cheaper.... but it will work for now, and hopefully down the road, I'll learn the art of keeping traditions affordable.

Let's start with Madeleine and Annabel, my two youngest girls, because that's the easiest to explain.  Madeleine wanted to be Mal from Descendants with a fiery passion. I knew the decision was easy, but pulling off the look would be harder.  Mal wears a leather vest and jacket in many scenes of the movies.  I found some metallic-looking leggings, a purple belt, and black boots at Walmart.  When I was looking for a little owl/owlet costume for Annabel, I happened upon a 4 T butterfly costume that included the blue dress Madeleine ended up wearing. And of course, hair spray-painted (using special  wash-out spray we already had from Claire's). For Annabel's costume, I bought a black dress that fit her, and I used fabric paint to add a pretty butterfly to the front of her dress. She simple added black leggings, and the wings and headband that came with Madeleine's dress. Done! and Done. Simple!

Anders knew right off the bat that he wanted to be a big, green lizard. He loves finding lizards and bugs in our yard, so this was perfect for him!  I ended up buying a dinosaur costume from Walmart, who I soon beheaded, because Anders specifically said he didn't want to be (riding) a dinosaur.  At first, my Mom added some button eyes. Later we decided to get him a green shirt and simply safety pin the lizard belly to his shirt.  I made a green mask using green fabric, white felt, and a glue gun.  It tied in the back like a ninja mask. DONE! And he absolutely loved it! :)

Frances may have been the hardest costume to pull off. She explicitly requested Evee from Pokemon. This is a hard look-- it's sort of a cross between a deer and a fox!  I knew brown would be hard to find because it isn't one of the trendy colors right now. I found a gold and grey dress from Target, and I simply sewed a brown collar, tail, and ruffle to the dress using a size 2T deer costume that we found at Walmart.  This costume came with a deer headband, and we cut off the antlers and simply left the deer ears-- perfect! It was quite a bit of sewing to cross two store-bought items, but I call it re-purposing. (I had to completely cut apart the deer costume!) BUT--  to say Frances was pleased was an understatement!  She wore it around the house for 3 days straight playing Pokemon with her siblings! It was a huge hit! This was her favorite show to watch this past Summer, so she was all in!

Molly is last but definitely not least. I have to say I *enjoyed* the process of DIY for her costume the most! It was such a cute look to do Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson books/movies, and it was so much fun to make.  I bought the orange t-shirt and fabric paint from Hobby Lobby, (which is also where I found the materials to make Frances' tail).  We bought a horse stencil and letter stencils and pained the shirt ourselves, although it is available to purchase on Amazon. We did buy a dagger/Roman sword, and to complete the look she got black Chucks (she needed new shoes for school anyway!) and an owl necklace and simply wore it with jeans.  We actually already had the hat on hand, so didn't have to buy it! :-0 :)  I am so happy this worked out, because Molly is a huge, huge fan of these books and movies. Rick Riordan anything is right up her alley!

And Conrad was yoda!*

I hope this encourages you on your journey of DIY *and* repurposing! :)


Win, win, wine!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

monthly recap vol. 49 ~ October 2017

Happy Halloween, ya'll!

October, oh, October.  This has been an interesting month.  I would describe it best as "overwhelming."  I do love the changing seasons (although here, our leaves don't really fully change until people are singing Christmas carols).  The kids had to dress up already for a Trunk or Treat event at our in-laws' church.  After reading Percy Jackson in its entirety, Molly wanted to be Annabeth Chase for Halloween. So Annabeth Chase, it is!  We did a DIY of this look and this

Having six kids is enough to qualify for a loud, boisterous, busy-busy-busy life.  The overwhelm is mostly from the added stress of preparing for Halloween, keeping things clean (as usual), and keeping kids obedient as the weather changes.  Here in TN, we have highs in the (sometimes upper) 80's the first half of the month, and the second half of October is usually mid-70's with sometimes lows in the 40's. A few (a handful, really) of days we have highs in the upper 50's or in the 60's.

Stephen finally finished a project that has been on his docket for some time! Finishing the fence! I'm thrilled! He had to take two days off from work, the first day pre-treating it (pressure washing every square inch) and then applying Thomson's Water seal. The weather was PERFECT. :0) ~ He bought a sprayer and a long brush. The seal claimed "clear," but I love the finished color. It looks like stain, so I don't have any idea why it's called clear. But anyway, I love it!

Stephen has a saying, the 2x4 rule, "Costs twice as much, takes four times as long as you think!"
So, so, so, so TRUE. (!!!) After he did the math, he had to go back and buy another {huge!} container of seal. Point taken. :)

Conrad is a really sweet baby. He was baptized earlier this month.  He gets comments everywhere we go. It is bittersweet. He has just started solid foods.  As he is probably our last baby everything feels uber-special and like something we just can't afford to take for granted!

Stephen is teaching him how to talk (already, as per usual with all of our kids!) and I am teaching him to be a (someday) gentleman!  #manners  On the right (in the photo above) is pictured Stephen's out-of-this-world barbecue chicken. YUM/Slurp!


This was my book stack for this month. Two of these books were for my kids. :0)  I was definitely on a YA kick this month.  I am trying to read as much as I can as this year winds down! Pressure is definitely *on.*

tea with Agave nectar

I have upped the ante on my Reading Challenge, and I'm proud to say I think I might meet my goal for the year! Hey 2017, not so shabby after all! #we'llsee

So, for October, I finished Bridget Jones' Baby, (funny funny) The Giver, (love) The Unexpected Everything (liked it pretty well, but it *definitely* felt like YA fiction to me), We Were Liars (loved this and it made the crossover from YA to adult-pertinence quite well), The Fault in Our Stars (read about it on goodreads--I agree!), and Summer Island. (good!)

After hearing a bit of buzz about Kinsella from her recent book My Not So Perfect Life, I decided to check out one of her older books from the library, The Undomestic Goddess. This was from 2005, but I have to say, I really enjoyed it! I've read too many books that don't have a satisfying ending to know that her style is something special.  She can write and wrap up a plot well, but if that were not significant enough, she is also really, really funny. Humor like this is also hard to come by! So all in all, I give this book 5 stars!

I can safely admit to a lot of light reading this month. It was a fun month of library visits, though!! Although I'm working through my list for November, I have plans to get slightly more serious about many things, namely reading less YA and more grown-up fiction and perhaps a classic or two (or one....).

Here's that reading challenge link again!

~Funny things they say~

Annabel: Let me in! Let me in! (Wanting to go outside)

Annabel: Can I watch PG Masks?

Little Girl at our parish: {talking to her little brother} Do you know the story of Noah's ark?  The animals boarded a big ship, and they sailed to a new land!

Annabel: {tears off diaper, poops on floor} Mommy, that's Dog Poop.

Annabel: Let me out! Let me out! (Wanting to go inside)

Stephen: We used to listen to this song when we dated. {talking about me}
Madeleine: (deadpan, serious face... looking at me and Stephen) You dated?

Madeleine: Dove Cameron is Liv and Maddie and Mal from Descendants.
Tacy: I know... she's famous!
Madeleine: (deadpan, serious face) She is?

Me: Molly, it looks like your hair has gotten curlier!
Molly: I am fine with that, as I am *not* bald.

Stephen: Are you eating some food?
Annabel: Nope, it's just french fries.


I have been ashamed to admit that I've enjoyed the country station a little bit (ok a lot) recently. I really like Kelsea Ballerini right now. She has some good lyrics, and her sound is a bit more polished and a little less twangy than a lot of stars at the moment.  If you want to listen to one good song, I recommend "High School" (I also like Yeah Boy and the lyrics of Peter Pan).  Watch the video right here.  

As for my kids, they are literally *obsessed* with Descendants 1 &2, and the song The Space Between might be my favorite thing to come out of Disney for a while. (maybe since Frozen?)  I know... high stakes. :0)


Stephen and I watched Spartacus (yes the oldie!) and Arrival on two different date nights.  Both very good! I would recommend the latter if you're looking for a good recent flick -- it makes excellent date night material.


Finances in Marriage @ Into Your Will

Trump Impresses the Media (or tries to...) @ CNN

Does anyone want to start a book club and read this book?  Raise your hand, and you'll be my BFF! (actually to be perfectly frank, Stephen is my BFF so ... slot taken!)  But maybe we could still do lunch.

linking up with Leigh Kramer as per usual for the What I'm Into monthly recap link up.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Candy Corn- themed fall art camp ~ 7 ideas!

Not sure if you remember, but if you've been reading my blog for any length of time at all, you know that I love to do art camp with my girls.  My oldest 3 girls Molly, Frances, and Madeleine especially love art projects. What better time than when the kids are home for Fall Break?

If you want to see our past art camp projects, you can see Easter art camp here and Fall art camp 2016 here.

snack time, inspired by this Monster Munch
having fun!! *

For this year, we used this candy corn template...
idea (1)

It looks best with a template.

idea (2)
Here are the candy corn people that we did. (pictured above!)

idea (3)
We also made a pumpkin banner (Frances and Madeleine) and a candy corn banner (Molly). 
Here is a cute banner tutorial.

Idea (4)
This was a big hit with my kids!
enter #allthepompoms

Print, Trace, Cut it out, and then Decorate!
paint, glue pens, 
(bits of paper and pom poms), and stickers!
Go crazy... I recommend glue pens! :-)~

idea (5)

I had the girls trace the candy corn template, then decorate the various candy corns using collage 

idea (6)

Jackolantern faces using these walmart stickers (similar)

idea (7)
An "I Love Fall" painting with a pumpkin for the "Fall" piece

idea (8)
Candy Corn footprints using paint!

orange and yellow glue pens at work!

finished project! fun and no need to decorate after all of that! :0)

This year, we decided to do it with a "Candy Corn" theme, because I wanted to keep it a theme we could follow through on with our snacks, without getting too fancy... because if you know me, then you know I like simple and nothing too expensive (ever!). ! :)  I tried doing all the fancy snacks for Easter art camp last time, but the sugar intake got out of control.

This time, I just made one big batch of "Monster Munch"-- popcorn, caramel corn, pretzels, graham crackers, and CANDY CORN!  :)  I replenished the supply a time or two, and every time we did crafts, I would pull out a big plastic bag of it and pour some into our "candy dish."

Honestly, it was delicious and the kids chowed down every time I brought it out. And it was super cheap. WIN!

enter #allthecorny!  /:D
Now you shall go forth and try your own #artcamp

*Q: Why are your kids wearing uniforms if they were on fall break? A) we finished (some of) the projects this week after fall break was over.  :)