Author Archive

Celebrating St. Nicholas Day (Giveaway with Shoe Carnival)

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

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How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

I am so excited to be partnering with Shoe Carnival again for the holidays. This month I will be sharing some of our family’s favorite holiday traditions with you, some gorgeous shoe options for outfitting your entire family, and some refreshing new ideas for personalizing gift cards for this holiday season. We will also be offering gift cards to share at the end of each of these posts to treat yourself or someone you love to a beautiful new pair of shoes!

To kick things off, I wanted to show you a fun idea to bookmark for next year. This year our family started a new tradition to celebrate St Nicholas Day which is observed in the states on December 6th.  Have you heard of St Nicholas Day? It is actually something I heard about recently from my friends and I thought it would be a sweet tradition this year to share with my kids.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

 

What Is St. Nicholas Day?

St. Nicholas Day is a popular holiday for children, especially children in many parts of Europe, because it is another day of sharing gifts. What kid doesn’t love that?  In fact, in some European countries, St. Nicholas is celebrated with not only gift-giving, but it is so special that it is celebrated through parades and festivals too.

This holiday celebrating him is derived from Nicholas of Myra who officiated as a bishop in 4th century Greece. During his lifetime he was known, in particular, for his gift-giving. They say that he slipped coins in other people’s shoes, which accounts for many of today’s Christmas traditions that involve leaving gifts in shoes or boots today.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The Simplest of Treats

The presents need not be grand, but are simple gestures that build up that sweet anticipation for Christmas. Gifts like chocolates, chocolate coins, nuts, cookies, small trinket gifts, apples and oranges are just a few sweet treats that are perfect for tucking in your shoes on December 5th.

When I think of things to tuck in our shoes it reminds me of the cozy nights I spent reading with my daughter about how Christmas was celebrated in the Little House in the Big Woods. As Laura described her thrill over a peppermint stick and a small cake made with real sugar, I remember my daughter’s wide eyes that these small offerings were the only presents they received for their Christmas. Can you imagine anything that small feeling magical for our kids today? It’s that nostalgia of sweet treats that is so perfectly captured through this tradition and why I wanted to share it with my two. Less electronics and more magic, I say!

We are displaying our treats in two beautiful shoe options from Shoe Carnival. In Indiana, it is all about cozy footwear and these are two great selections that I found for the holiday season that would be great options to wrap under your Christmas tree this year.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The first option is the Tommy Hilfiger Charlie Duck Boots that I found for my son. We have outgrown the days of little kid’s boots after an enormous growth spurt this year and now my son & husband can share shoes.  Duck Boots have become my new obsession because they can be worn in the Fall, Winter, & Spring making them a really great option for keeping your feet warm & dry for several seasons unlike boots that are just dedicated to snow. I consider them to be a wise investment!  I have a pair for myself and my daughter has a beautiful pair too. They are stylish and practical which is why I am recommending this option this Winter.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

The second pair is actually one that we featured here this summer for myself and fell in love with.  I discovered that they make Lil’ Bobs for kids with the same supportive memory foam sole that I love for my own feet. It’s like walking on a cloud and I wish everyone could feel that way! This trendy Bobs Pure Flex gives a nod to our pink obsession with the stripe detail on the sole, but reflects her big girl status in the print. If my daughter is anything like me, these will be doubling for slippers because they are so darn comfortable. You just can’t go wrong with this option and the modern prints available are beautiful and on trend.

I am so excited to share with you that this weekend is the Friends and Family Weekend which means that everything will be 30% off all weekend long so definitely take advantage of these discounts on top of their affordable pricing! Yay!

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with Momadvice.com

I hope that this tradition inspires you for next Christmas season and I hope these shoe options help you when selecting shoes for your kids!

Today I am giving away two $50 gift cards to two lucky families for a holiday shopping day at Shoe CarnivalFollow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter.  Good luck and Happy Holidays!

*This post is sponsored by Shoe Carnival.  Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Amy’s Notebook 12.08.15

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Easy Twisted Updo

source: A Beautiful Mess

An easy twisted updo that I am hoping to try over the holidays.

Now that’s a use for temporary tattoos that I never would have thought of!

Busy morning breakfast cookies- let’s see…that’s almost every morning then.

A truly inspiring home holiday tour- so much eye candy!

Slow cooker peppermint vanilla lattes look like a fun holiday brunch treat!

10 things our kids don’t need this Christmas- I couldn’t agree more!

I am excited to follow this kid’s cooking series and plan to work through this first lesson over the holidays!

46 ways to give experiences instead of stuff- REALLY great ideas!

9 bestsellers that are actually worth the hype- have you read them?

Simple Eucalyptus Wreath

source: Centsational Girl

I love a great simple wreath for any season.

What it is like to raise a transracial family- lots of things I had not thought about until I saw this video.

How to decorate for the holidays without punching someone in the face. Perfection.

An LOL for my fellow Fixer Upper addicts.

A fun book lover’s gift guide- I want all the things.

10 holiday movies you are demanded to watch- I don’t think I have ever seen the first one on this list. Have you?

Addicted to distraction? Guilty!

Even if you don’t feel like you are doing everything right, remember that you are a mom that shows up!

I am curious about this tool for capsule wardrobe building- have you heard of it?

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

 

It’s the 3 Little Things: Queens, Royals, & Your Favorites

Friday, December 4th, 2015

nutcracker

It has felt like a lifetime since my last favorite things list. So many good things have been happening over here! Let’s see, I hosted BOTH sides of my family and it was absolutely perfect. I even nailed the turkey this year even though I accidentally set my oven to the wrong temperature (oops!). I was thankful for all that delicious food I had prepped in my freezer for our holiday meal.

My daughter performed in The Nutcracker with the Conservatory of Dance over Thanksgiving weekend and our faces hurt from smiling at her sincerity and focus while dancing.

We also got these halls all decked and I shared my first tour ever of our home. I have already heard from two friends that they were ordering a Bucky for their home. We love that cardboard animals are trending!

holiday-project333-1

Brooks Brothers Fancy gently used from thredup!

I’m still rocking my fall wardrobe from my capsule and I haven’t even made any switches yet, although I did add a couple of ponchos to the mix. I am planning to stay in this capsule through the winter because I am liking it so much.

Save-Time-and-Money-with-a-Capsule-Wardrobe-Podcast

 

Speaking of the capsule, you can find me over on A Prioritized Life sharing about what I have learned from finishing out my first full year in Project 333. If you are thinking about exploring one, this might help you navigate it better than I did at first, as well as how this shift began to transform the rest of my life. I hope you can give it a listen! I love getting to share about my journey through this experience.

Here are a few other things that made me happy this week!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

I’m Working My Way Through the GoodReads Nominations

I am going to be combining the Must-Reads list for November & December since it is a struggle for me to get in as much reading time as I would like for the holidays. Rest assured, I will have it to you as well as my list of the best reads for the year (which is always a big challenge!).  I headed to the library and checked out a huge stack of the GoodReads Nominations after I put together the list for you guys!  I read this one (EXCELLENT!) and I read The Royal We. I have heard so many good things about this one and, once again, you guys were right!  It was a BIG book (a whopping 452 pages!), but I enjoyed it from start to finish.

I was expecting it to be a light love story of an American falling for a Prince, but there was some real meat in there. I can’t imagine how much research they did to really create the insider feel of what it would be like to be a part of the royal family. I found all of that really fascinating. The authors will be joining us on a Sundays With Writers this month so stay tuned for that!

It must have been a week for me and royalty because the second thing on my list is…

The White Queen

The White Queen

My girlfriend told me ages ago that this show was so great (it’s based on the Philippa Gregory books that I am sure many of you have read), but I told her I didn’t have HBO so I never looked into it. The other night I was flipping through the Amazon Prime Options and The White Queen was on there and I am completely sucked in.

It’s racy so I am always looking over my shoulder if one of my kids is trying to peek at my iPad and giving everyone the evil eye with my headphones on to stay away, but goodness it is SO GOOD. The costumes are incredible, the settings are unreal, and I am bawling my eyes out at scenes because the acting is so good.

Sadly, they only made one season of it, but that also makes it a series that I can start and finish (a rarity for me!). If you have Prime, it’s worth adding it to your Watchlist!!

harry-potter-illustrated (4 of 4)

I Love Seeing Your Favorite Things

I took a peek at my Amazon reports to see what you guys are loving and purchasing from our recommendations on the site this year. When I started this favorite things series, I wasn’t sure if you would love it as much as I would love sharing my favorite stuff. I thought I would tell you what your top ten favorite things have been!

1. Lion Brand Hometown USA Yarn- It seems our yarn pom pom wreath  &  pom pom garland has been a big hit in a lot of houses and you bought a ton of yarn to make these projects.  As we toured the house, I shared that I never put it away because the wreath is so special so I am happy you want to make one too!

2. Harry Potter Illustrated- Basically, my kids favorite book of the entire year!

3. Pom Pom Makers- I told you that wreath was a hit! If you love pom poms, you must have a maker. It’s a must-have tool for any crafter!

4. Rit Dye- If you are restoring your jeans, you need a little of this dye to make it happen and apparently that was happening in a lot of homes.

5. All the Light We Cannot See- What an honor it was to interview a Pulitzer Prize winning author. I count that among one of my biggest blessings that happened from our Sundays With Writers series.

6. Rice Cookers- Everyone loves to make quinoa in their rice cooker and I list it as must-have gadget for any busy cook.

7. Epilators & Laser Hair Removal Devices- I must not be alone in my hair woes!

8. Coobie Bras- So thrilled my yoga pant comfort in bras is such  hit!

9. Black Lights- People love glow-in-the-dark stuff and our glow-in-the-dark JELL-O must be hitting a lot of Halloween parties. We also sold a ton of glow-in-the dark accessories so it sounds like some of you had some epic parties that I wasn’t invited to. It’s cool…

10. Argan Oil- You must have the skin of babies.

I hope my weekly happy list continues to inspire you in your home!

Oh, and here is a little more Adele just in case that wasn’t enough happy for your weekend! Isn’t this beautiful?  xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

DIY Trophy Wine Topper

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

DIY Trophy Wine Toppers from MomAdvice.com

Oh, you know I love a good hostess gift for the holidays! I am so excited to show off my DIY Wine Trophy Toppers I created for this gift-giving season. Our amazing designer, MJ from pars caeli, created these adorable free printable gift tags to customize your gift for the holidays. This is a 5-minute craft that is sure to get a good laugh from your favorite hostess and it couldn’t be easier.

While you are crafting these up, be sure to print out the trophy wife one for me- ha!

Head on over to the Kenmore blog to grab your free printable today- a holiday gift from us just for you!!

xo

The Big List of Handmade Gifts on Mom Advice

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Big List of Handmade Gifts on MomAdvice.com

Since you all know I’m a crafty girl, it’s probably not hard to figure out that handmade gifts are high on my list of great things to give and receive! Over the years on Mom Advice I have complied a pretty good size archive of crafts and ideas that make great gifts any time of year, can be made easily – and sometimes really quickly – and would be perfect for your holiday gifting needs. So I decided to put them all together in one big list (that I can easily add to in the future!) to make it easy for you to find them.

You’ll find something for everyone on this list – kids, teachers, friends, family, as well as DIY projects that work for every skill level- easy to a little more involved. But never difficult, I promise!

Here’s how I’m organizing the list (and the categories are in order, so if you’re looking for kid’s gift ideas, you’ll know to scroll to the bottom):

  • Crafty Gifts
  • Knitted Gifts
  • Food Gifts
  • Fashion & Pampering Gifts
  • Kids Gifts

Crafty Gifts

DIY Paint dipped spoons make a perfect hostess or Christmas gift!

Paint-Dipped Spoon Sets

DIY Personalized Stamped Pencils 

DIY Herb & Garden Markers

Easy DIY Terrarium

DIY Monogrammed Wine Glasses

DIY Slow cooker candles on MomAdvice

Slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Vintage Book Page Art

Heart String Art on Wood (free template!)

Knitting/Crochet Needle Holder from Vintage Linens

Knitted Gifts

Knitted coffee cozies made a great, stash-busting gift!
Knitted Coffee Cozies

Knitted Sweater Coffee Cozies

Knitted Wine Bottle Hat & Scarf

2 Dishcloth Patterns: Circle & Chinese Waves

4 More Dishcloth Patterns (& Homemade Cleaners to pair them with)

2 Sweet Little Baby Blankets 

Make a pair of quick knitted boot cuffs tonight!
Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

Knitted Dovetail Cowl

Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

Snowflake Scarf from Purl Soho

7 Easy Scarves & Cowls to Knit

Knitted Headbands

3 Scarves, 2 Fingerless Gloves & 1 Hat Pattern

Learn cabling and make a Headband ear warmer to keep or give away.
Cable Knitted Ear Warmers

Violet Ruffled Shawl

How to Make the Perfect Prayer Shawl

Knitted Gap-tastic Cowl

2 Kids Knitted Hat Patterns

Food Gifts

Make chocolate coffee covered spoons.

Chocolate Coffee Spoons

No-Bake Peppermint Cheesecakes in a Jar 

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Sugar & Spice Nut Mix

Oreo Biscotti 

Gingerbread Biscotti

DIY grill seasonings plus free printable labels for gift giving!
Grilling Seasoning Mixes with Printable Labels

Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

Drink Mixes: Creamy Hot Cocoa & Vanilla Chai Tea

Quick Breads with Printable Gift Tags

Vanilla Scented Granola

Homemade Mint-Truffle Coffee Creamer

Fashion & Pampering Gifts

How to make a blanket scarf - it's easy!
How to Make a Blanket Scarf 

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial

Easy Felt Fabric Brooch

T-Shirt Flowers

Rosette Bib Necklace Tutorial 

Add cute fabric flowers to slippers to make a personalized gift.

Slippers with DIY Interchangeable Fabric Flowers

Rolled Ribbon Rosette Hair Accessory

Sweet Ribbon Rings

DIY Mojito Bath Salts 

Peppermint Bath Salts & Oatmeal Cookie Bath Soak (+ Free Printable)

Kids Gifts

DIY Book Tote with free printable designs
Library Tote Bags with Free Printables

Knitted Princess Leia Hat

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Homemade Playdough

Kid’s Crafts: Painted Mugs

World’s Greatest Homemade Bubbles

 

See? That’s a lot! And you’ll want to pin this or bookmark it since I’ll be adding to it as I post more handmade gift ideas. Let’s get making!

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My Little Holiday Home Tour

Monday, November 30th, 2015

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

Can you believe that December is here? I am so excited to celebrate another holiday with my family in our home. You know bloggers that do those beautiful home tours? I am always in amazement at their beauty & style and it inspires me so much. Our ’60’s fixer upper has never felt blog tour worthy, but I started to think about the types of things that really appeal to me in my real life. They aren’t always the big and elaborate homes with loads of store-bought accessories or even what one might find Pinterest-worthy, but more simplistic in beauty & a nod towards homemade.

Doable stuff, that’s what I am after. I think that our home accomplishes those two things so well so I wanted to invite you in for a bit!

I hope you like coffee because that’s what we serve around here! Please leave your shoes at the door in our beautiful boot tray that I have left out for you. It’s usually one of the first things people remark on and I found that gem at Target years ago! It’s perfect for the narrowest of hallways like ours!

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(bells: michaels)

Guess what? I will have already known you have arrived because I put bells on our door. Typically, I am more of a wreath girl, but I loved the minimalistic simplicity of these bells. I also happened to get them while they were 60% off  at Michael’s and I had a gift certificate to spend from my birthday so these babies were FREE. Yay! Welcome to our little house- we are awfully proud of it!

Pay no mind to our hideous yard and feel sad for our neighbors who must view it every day. Notice this is not a yard tour because, seriously, we aren’t that amazing at yard work.

Let’s just ignore it for now and move on into our front room where no televisions are allowed, only vinyl.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(sources: bucky cardboard deer head/yarn pom pom trees tutorial/every day i’m hustlin pillow/knitted leaves centerpiece tutorial/pillows (a daily deal)/curtains (a daily deal)/fabric-lined bookcases tutorial/ thumbtack pumpkin tutorial/charlie brown vinyl)

Here is a wide shot of our front room. I am leaving my mountain of knitted cabled earwarmer projects because I am too lazy to move them.

Now that I think about it, this is probably why I don’t get invited to do blog tours.

Hey, we live here!

We just had this room painted in my favorite Benjamin Moore Gray Owl paint color along with fresh ceilings, new trim, and the window trim painted. This was a much needed update to this tired old house. This is my favorite room in our home now because it houses our record player that was gifted to us by my husband’s father and all the light spills into this room making it warm & cozy in the winter.

Our favorite accessory is our deer (I even included him in our gift guide!). We have way too much fun with this cardboard deer and decided to move the furniture around to really put him on display because Bucky is the star of the show. I loved decking him out for the holidays, although there is rarely a day when Bucky isn’t decked out in some way. In fact, he looks ridiculous now without glasses.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(sources: love grows best in little houses pillow cover/eddie ross modern mix/vintage home ec trophy (similar)/ pom pom wreath tutorial/ laura ingall’s wilder collection reissued b&n classic (similar)/wuthering heights reissued b&n classic)

I wanted a creative spot to put our keys and found a vintage first place home economics trophy from the 60’s on etsy that I absolutely love for throwing our keys into.  Let’s face it, no one is giving me any awards around here so I have to award myself. Well done, self.  It’s not Christmas-y, but it is one of my favorite things in our house.

My pom pom wreath was so labor intensive that I never put it away and it is now a year-round addition. I find that happens with a lot of homemade goodness around here. When you work that hard on something you really should show it off!

 

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: mrs. meyer’s everything/ painted desk with bookshelf tutorial/ painted kitchen table tutorial/painted kitchen cabinets tutorial/ barclay light gray armchairs/yellow metal dining chairs/furry throw/ornament wreath handmade/succulent wreath/ yarn pom pom garland tutorial/chalkboard)

I have found the addition of red to anything green instantly makes it feel like Christmas. I tacked on a few bows to my green wreaths so I don’t have to switch them out for a month and just wired them on with a little floral wire for easy removal. Instant holiday!

Our kitchen is transitioning slowly which can be hard to do for this go-getter, but the funds needed for a complete kitchen overhaul just aren’t there. I wasn’t ready to make a big financial commitment in a new table & chairs so we switched out chairs for now and added a fresh coat of paint to our 13 year-old table to make things feel new again. Those two things have brought a lot of contentment for me in this space.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: owl ornaments/ornaments/bells/plaid ribbon/have yourself a merry little christmas pillow- all from Michael’s! Grab your coupons!)

We divided and conquered our tree this year. The boys went tree shopping and the girls purchased fresh ornaments. Our fifteen year-old ornaments looked REALLY bad last year, but I thought my kids would appreciate the sentiments behind them.  When I “broke the news” that I thought we should get some new ornaments, Emily said, “OH GOOD! You mean we will have Santas for our tree with TWO LEGS?”

So….surprisingly, they did not care one bit.

My husband was the only one who was like, let’s still have a tree with Santas with only one leg, but he got vetoed by the three unsentimental people in the family.

I guess he can have a tree for his office with the Island of Misfit Ornaments and we will keep this shiny tree here for the fancy folks!

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My best friend said I should show you all this because she had never seen anyone do this before. I wire my ribbon garland to the tree limbs. I know it is completely OCD, but I never want it to move once I put it on. You can twist it there or just do what I do which is kind of bubble it up and then cinch it with an ornament hook. It makes it look super PROFESSIONAL. Which I am not.

When I was in high school I worked at a hardware store where we decorated trees every holiday season so I know a lot of things that seem useless like how to make bows and make garland stick and wrap lights around limbs like your life depends on it,  but these useless things definitely comes in handy around the holidays!

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

 

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: bar cart tutorial/blanket scarf tutorial/forbidden desert/carcassonne/boss monster/tapple/ticket to ride/alvin & dexter/boss monster extension/love actually/white christmas/annie (don’t forget a treat!)/nightmare before christmas/yarn garland tutorial)

I switch the bar cart out for the season and it doubles as a great entertaining tool when hosting large groups in our home. Although our house is on the smaller size (about 1,500 square feet), we maximize every space with little storage ideas like this for our home. For the winter, it is loaded with our favorite board games, holiday movies, holiday puzzles, and all my vintage records that I collect from Goodwill for just a quarter each!
My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

 

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: blanket scarf tutorial/diy painted laminate fireplace/furry throw/copper deer head (michael’s)/winter garland (michael’s)/storage ottoman)

The picture above the mantle distracted from the beautiful copper deer head so I covered it with one of my blanket scarves for the holiday. This little fireplace is probably one of the smartest home investments we have made. This is our sub-basement (our home is a quad level) so it can get chilly down here in my office. This addition not only added warmth, but it added a focal point to this room that wasn’t my work and desk.

The only bad part is feeling motivated to work when I have such a cozy spot to curl up in.

I mean…look at that focal point.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

(source: yarn pom pom & ornament garland tutorial/yarn-wrapped letters tutorial/sherpa blanket/bed/nightstand/nobody puts baby in a corner pillow (similar)/q&a for couples/ yarn trees/bell wreath (similar))

I photographed my bed with yarn pom pom garland, but I think I pushed too much yarn bombing on my husband so we are back to the minimalist metal frame. He’s actually such a good sport about yarn, but maybe that is because his mom is a knitter.

Basically, he was raised right.

One vow I have always made to myself is that our room will be treated like a sanctuary which means NO CLUTTER. There is nothing relaxing about sleeping in a room that is filled with stuff so this is truly a retreat space for me during the holiday season. I would stay in this room all day if I didn’t have kids and have to work.

My Little Holiday Home Tour from MomAdvice.com

And just because everything feels more magical at night, I wanted to close with this photo. I love the twinkle of Christmas lights!

I don’t know if this home is “blog tour worthy,” but I couldn’t be prouder of our sweet little home if I tried. It is filled with my favorite people which makes it the most special place of all.

And if I want to retreat from those special people even more, you can find me hiding out in my She Shed thanks to the heating unit out there. It’s like my own private getaway.

I hope you liked touring our little house with us! Happy holidays!  xoxo

*This post contains affiliate links. I promise to only recommend what I love!

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Circle With Disney: The Only Cyber Deal a Parent Needs

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Protect Your Kids

Sometimes it is difficult to share here and keep a sense of privacy  around certain issues that we have in our family. We have been dealing with a personal struggle with our kids and creating a good balance of online time and offline time with them. Our biggest struggle though has been protecting them from the internet and potentially harmful content as well as monitoring the amount of time they are spending on their devices.

There are a few things that I became aware of over the past couple of years about my loss of control as a parent.

One was that one of my children was getting up in the middle of the night to play online games while we were sleeping because we were monitoring the amount of technology hours they were allowed online. We found out that this child had been getting up at 3 in the morning every day, slipping on their uniform, playing Minecraft until I needed to wake them up, and then pretending to read in their room, absolutely wowing me that I did not have to pull them out of bed. Of course, the routine started to slip when they became an absolute disaster at school and emotional mess when they came home. We checked our internet logs to discover what was happening and realized it had been a routine for quite awhile before we realized they had been doing it.

The second was that one of our children left open their Google searches on our computer and a peek at their open search history yielded a serious discussion we needed to have about sex and the potential that their search could yield pornography or put them at risk of child predators. We should have had the talk sooner- it felt like a parenting fail to see what they were looking for.

The third were some unsavory jokes at our dinner table that apparently had been found on YouTube skits. 

Clearly, we had lost our control.

The Only Cyber Deal a Parent Needs

We started locking down the internet in as many ways as possible. No one could get on during certain hours, their Kindles had every parental restriction we could set, and we blocked any potential sites that we could that might pop up in their searches. We became police monitors of their behavior as best as we could, but still situations arose where we felt we lost control. My husband did hours and hours of research on what we could do to make this better, but we couldn’t find anything that fit our family’s needs. These blockers for our kids created blockers for me all day trying to do my job and I didn’t know how to reset the blockers my husband enabled. Potential monitoring systems would not work with our router so this is the crappy “block you from everything,”  solution that we had come up with for now.

Until THIS.  It’s called Circle. The company reached out to me to help spread the word about their service for the holidays. Honestly, I almost cried when I watched the video because this is what we needed.  THIS is what our family has been waiting for. THIS is the answer to our issues and I am so excited to show it to you today. I am over the moon excited that we are implementing this system in our home to help protect our kids and I can’t encourage you enough to consider the same system especially if you are having these struggles too.

I received a beta unit this week and would love to walk you through it. Even though I am a blogger, I can admit that I am not very tech savvy.  Watch the video to see how easy it was to set up for our family!

Every family needs this in their home.

Don’t believe me? Here is another video clip of it in action! 

Best part…

It’s only $99 FLAT (meaning no monthly fees!!)

Are you tired of letting the Internet dictate what your family is exposed to? Not Anymore! With Circle, you are the boss!

Here are 4 Awesome things you can EASILY do with Circle:

1. Set appropriate filters for EACH DEVICE. Use the pre-designed ones or customize your own.

iOS Screen 4

2. Track where your family is spending their time online. iOS Screen 3

3. Give your devices a BED TIME! iOS Screen 2

4. PAUSE the internet! Yes. you. can. iOS Screen 1

If you are still not convinced, read what these Circle customers are saying about it:

“As the father of four kids from elementary through college age, I am not exaggerating when I say Circle is EXACTLY the device I have been looking for to control the internet in my house. Circle truly is peace of mind in a little white box.” – Wayne Stocks

“Circle has literally changed our lives and how our family spends time on the internet. My worries of what my children could be exposed to online has changed overnight by the use of Circle. I can pause the internet anytime making getting chores or homework done much easier these days.” -Terra Nyce

“Circle makes it easy for me to protect my kids online, monitor usage across all our home’s devices, and create conversations with the entire family. It’s rare that something is simple and effective, but Circle is both.” — Michael Lukaszewski

We are so excited to finally have control again. Get control of the Internet and give your family this gift of Circle on Cyber Monday.

*This post contains an affiliate link, but I only promote things I believe will add value to your life.

M Challenge Giving Syllabus Notebook 11.25.15

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

M CHALLENGE FOCUS ON GIVING Syllabus

As a wrap-up of each month’s M Challenge theme, we will be using the last Notebook of the month as a sort of “Cliffs Notes” edition of the challenge – a place where you can find a list of all the articles we’ve published for the challenge, as well as more inspiration and links from the web around the challenge theme. Our hope is that this will be something that you can refer to in the future as well as catch up on in case you’ve missed anything!

November M Challenge: Focus on Giving

Other Links: Ideas for Giving

Picasso Printable via Lia Griffith

Source: Lia Griffith

 

Free printable: The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away ~Pablo Picasso

Blessing Bags: give a blessing bag to someone in need. Keep a stash in your car.

A Friendsgiving master plan for stress-free hosting.

Simplify Christmas gift giving.

A “gifts that give back” 2015 holiday gift guide

How to be generous even if you’re broke.

75 military care package ideas.

20 volunteer date ideas.

24 ways to volunteer with kids.

I hope you enjoyed our M Challenge syllabus notebook, a collection of the Mom Advice articles and gathered links all around the month’s challenge focus. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Last Minute Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas from MomAdvice.com I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow! I am hosting both sides of our family and as a hostess, I know the struggles of decorating AND getting the feast on the table. Today I wanted to show you a few easy last minute ideas for decorating your Thanksgiving table that don’t cost a lot and can be pulled together rather quickly for the holiday.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips blog where I show off these easy to execute ideas for your holiday table today!

Amy’s Notebook 11.25.15

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

A Thanksgiving – or any time – side dish: Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes with Herbed Goat Cheese

I’m inspired to go leaf hunting in the backyard now!

Beautiful Thanksgiving placemats- I’m in love!

3 ways to make mornings rock.

11 comfort foods to eat while crying to the Adele album.

How to want very little.

Girls apron pattern via 5 Minutes for Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

How cute is this free pattern for a little girl’s apron? Perfect for the holidays!

I have a crush on this simple modern wreath.

Be wowed by this beautiful closet.

Beautiful scrappy trees.

#thisis40

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!