Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

It’s the 3 Little Things: Holiday Shopping, a Ghostly Tale, & a Tired Eye Cure

Friday, December 12th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! I can’t believe that I am taking a real vacation from the blog! I really need to get back to center with my people so I will be out of the office December 13th-28th! I have a date with this book (have you read it? I can’t put it down!!) and an ambitious stack of library books that I checked out for the week. I hope you caught my annual list of the best books of 2014- it was a good year of reading!  I can’t wait to have a little quiet time before we ramp up for the holidays.

Before I check out of the social media world though, here is my happy list for the week!

Flourish Boutique Holiday Shopping

Stocking Stuffers Galore

I love a good statement necklace and last night I got the VIP treatment at Flourish Boutique to take a peek at their holiday offerings this year. Since I have some special ladies in my life, I I got some really pretty statement pieces for them that I can’t wait to give them for Christmas. If you are as big of a fan of costume jewelry as I am, you really should check out their store (online or in-person!) They had a ton of fun new arrivals, but my eye always gravitates towards their cozy leggings and shapewear offerings that I wear so much in my fashion capsule.  You can always use our web code MOMADVICE  to take 25% off of your purchases when doing your own holiday shopping!

Don’t worry- I was good! Although I had hoped to take a few photos this week for you, I am seriously in crazy mode for the holidays so you will have to trust me that I am absolutely loving my capsule wardrobe and continuing to learn so much from it about my purchasing habits. I will get back to sharing from it after the holidays although I am sure you can catch a picture or two on Instagram!

The Dead Files

The Dead Files on Netflix

I am just going to say it. Netflix has really been rocking lately. My husband and I picked up The Blacklist (did you know Netflix paid $2 million per episode just to secure that show? CRAZY!), The Mind of a Chef (craving noodles all day, everyday after watching this), and now The Dead Files which originally aired on the Travel Channel.

My sister-in-law shared this gem with us and I think we have watched ten episodes already because it is so fascinating. They send a private investigator into a home that is haunted and they send a medium in to the same scene, but each of them doesn’t get to meet with each other or share evidence until the end of the show. The detective spends time gathering the real fact about the house (meeting with town historians and local folks) while the medium runs around and talks to ghosts and works with a sketch artist to draw one of the ghosts that she sees that is bothering the family. Then they sit down and share their evidence and it is crazy awesome.

I’m not sure if you are into the ghost-hunting thing or not or believe in it, but just finding the true history of the homes is some seriously fascinating stuff. The show isn’t scary, just super interesting. I find the editing to be a little too tightly perfect and I’m not sure I believe all of it (she is never wrong!?), BUT I LOVE IT.  If you have a marathon of present-wrapping and need a little escape, this is a pretty good one.

If you have any other Netflix recommendations for me, let me know in the comments because I am going to have lots of stuff to wrap this week with a birthday and Christmas in one week!

L'Oreal Visible Lift Eye Concealer

L’Oreal Visible Lift Eye Concealer

I have terrible circles under my eyes that seem to be getting worse as I age. I haven’t been able to find a concealer that really does a good job covering these up until I got this gem at the drugstore. It is like a little deodorant roller that you just roll right under your eye and then pat in. It covers everything and makes you look well-rested when you are exhausted from yarn-bombing your home for the holidays. If you want to look five years younger, this stuff is amazing and super affordable.

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Bonus Happy

Happy 9th birthday, my beautiful and fabulous daughter! You forever changed our world for the better. I couldn’t be prouder to be your mama! I can’t wait to eat snickerdoodle cake with you-xoxo

Bonus Happy Two- the happiest of the happy!

Happy Holidays from The Clarks

Happy Holidays, friends! Thank you for your love and support this year! See you in two weeks!

*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?

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

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Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crazy 8.

Each holiday I get my kids new outfits to parade around to our annual family functions.  With an extended family of our size and two sides living in one town, you better believe there is a lot of parading for us.  Since they happen to wear uniforms at their school, it is a royal treat to wear something other than a uniform and especially sweet if it is something new.  Today I am partnering with Crazy 8 to share about their affordable holiday line of clothing that they are offering this holiday season.

We have been longtime lovers and supporters of Crazy 8 because the clothing line fits nicely in our family budget, yet doesn’t skip on style or quality. It was not a stretch at all to partner together since we have been such big fans over the years. There is always a good deal to be had and a coupon code to snag.

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

My daughter has a big personality and her clothes and style match it perfectly. She started ballet this year and playing a pink electric guitar. She’s really amazing.  If I had to describe her in one word it would be, observant.  She has this big personality, yet she takes it all in and never misses a thing. She has an incredible memory and gift for her attention to detail. She’s so incredibly smart.

Her personality happens to be as big as her infectious grin.  Her favorite things are sparkles, tulle, and soft faux furs.  She might just have a little bit of her mother’s style in her.  We happened to find all three of these qualities in the Crazy 8 holiday line. This holiday season they have their usual New Arrivals, but they have also added Party Picks, Rule the Rink, Gear Up for Getaways, and Shine On that you can access on the left-hand side of the Crazy 8 website. This holiday season, Crazy 8 designers were inspired by traveling, ice skating, holiday decorating and snow days.  If you follow the blog, you know all about our holiday decorating and our famous hot cocoa mix we love to indulge in.

The nice thing is that all of these lines also work together for a great mix and match to create your own outfits that fit your child’s personality. This outfit consists of a couple of Party Picks, a Gear Up for Getaways, & Shine On…all mixed together to create the perfect Emily combo.

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

My son, on the other hand, has a more understated style with a heavy reliance upon comfort and classics.  He is pretty tall, five feet already, and I am thankful that Crazy 8 sizing runs all the way up to size 14.  He’s a skinny kid and we love the adjustable tabs on the pants and the slimmer cut pant offerings that they offer for him.

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

His favorite item from the Party Picks line is this Herringbone Cap (priced at a mere $12.88). I haven’t seen him take it off since he got it. This look may have been inspired by his Uncle John who rocks a cap just like this and happens to be an artist (the very field he might like to pursue). At moments I have caught a peek at him out of the corner of my eye and have had to do a double-take because he looks just like my baby brother. Perhaps, that is why I love it so much too.

To describe him in a single word, the first thing that I think of is that he is compassionate. He always asks me how my day is and wants to know how he can help me. This kid still apologizes for making me get up early to help him catch the bus and will do just about anything for his sister. He is an awesome young man.

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On During the Holidays With Crazy 8

Shine On, Crazy 8’s current holiday initiative, celebrates the unique individualities and personalities that make every kid special which this mom absolutely loves.  As you can see, my kids have totally different styles and personalities, but we were able to find a look for each of them.

In honor of this, Crazy 8 has launched a month-long #ShineOnCrazy8 photo contest. To participate you can share photos of your kids, describing their personality in one word and tag the photo #ShineOnCrazy8 on Instagram, Twitter, or you can directly upload it right to the Crazy 8 Facebook fan page tab. Crazy 8 will be awarding $88 gift cards to a winner each week during the month of December.  How fun is that?

I hope you can take a moment to enter the contest and also to browse the new Crazy 8 holiday lines for your own family holiday parade that fits their personality perfectly.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Crazy 8.

 

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The MomAdvice Top Ten of 2014 (Some Behind-the-Scenes Hilarity Too)

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Amy Allen Clark

Friends, I just want to say a quick thank you for another year of great fun. Next month I celebrate my 11th year in this business and it is still incredible to me that a job I made up (I mean, I really did!) had such staying power. Did I ever think I would still be doing this? No way! Am I thankful every day? Absolutely! I can’t imagine living our life in any other way now.

Thank you for your visits, comments, and support over the years- I am so thankful for each of you!  Each day that I get to be creative and share it with you is a precious gift.

Let’s take a look at what your favorite posts were this year and let me spill the beans on a little behind-the-scenes stuff on these that I usually reserve just for my girlfriends. I love to end the year on a light note so I hope you will appreciate the true stories behind some of these crazy projects.

How to Teach Your Child to Tie

1. A New Way to Teach Your Child to Tie Their Shoes

I feel a little guilty that our #1 post is actually not even really my idea or video. Come on, did you really think I was that smart? A huge thank you to my amazing friend, Nancy Lary, for sharing her amazing shoe tying technique. As soon as she showed me how to work on this with my kids, I knew that it would be an instant hit on the blog. I was right. Everyone is always looking for a new shoelace tying technique and this post being ##1 just proves it.

How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans

2. How to Dye a Faded Pair of Jeans

A couple of years ago, I was working on a project for my job with Goodwill and thought it might be fun to purchase some thrift store jeans and restore the color. After I did it and it really worked, I was like…”Nah. I think I will keep it for my own blog.” I told my husband that it was going to be a huge hit and he was like, “Sure,” but shaking his head no at the same time. I’m like, IN YOUR FACE.  This project has been our most pinned project and, thanks to being picked up on some Reddit male fashion board, it is still going strong and holding steady in our #2 most visited spot.

Fashionable men, you can totally dye your jeans. Keep coming here for the scoop!

Easy Sushi Sandwich

3. Easy Lunchbox Solutions

This was one of the craziest and coolest things that happened this year. Walmart hired me to showcase a quick sandwich that moms could do for the back-to-school season. I decided to create a little sushi roll out of a cheese stick, turkey, and rolled out bread.

Fast forward to a month later and our site is getting a weird traffic spike from sites like People.com, TMZ, Perez Hilton, and a bunch of other sites. I brought it up with my husband and he thought it was some type of spam thing. As I sat at the bus stop with my son in the car, I was scrolling through Perez Hilton to catch up on an awards show that I missed on television and see my image there.

At first, I thought it was some weird targeted ad (you know, those strange ones on Facebook that just know you were browsing the Anthropologie site when you have no money at all).

Nope, it was my image EVERYWHERE showing moms how to make this simple little sandwich. Between that and the pin from Walmart, this quick lunch idea sits in our #3 spot.

As an aside, holy relief that I am on Perez for a sandwich and not anything else. Can I get an amen?

How to Make Glow In the Dark JELL-O

 

4. How to Make Glow in the Dark JELL-O

I have had many a dream where I am featured in an amazing food magazine like Bon Appetit. Did I believe it would ever be for a science experiment we did with our kids for Glow in the Dark JELL-O? Um. No. Of course, that is what happened.  This idea didn’t even come to me, but came from my real-life friend Ashley who spied the project in her daughter’s American Girl Doll Magazine. She sent it to me and said, “Hey, I think this would be a good one for your blog.” Boy, was it!  It’s always a hit at Halloween times.

If you read our lengthy review, you know it doesn’t taste awesome at all.

People don’t care.

They love stuff that glows.

Truth be told, half the time this is pinned as a glow in the dark shot.

Hey… I wonder if that tastes better? Watch for that tutorial next year and I will be sure to test the shots for you! I do it for the people.

How to (or how NOT to) Spray Paint Furniture

5. How to Spray Paint Furniture

This table is almost fifteen years old so I knew that if my idea for spray painting this didn’t work, it would be okay. It ended up being one of my favorite pieces I have ever made over in our house and is one of our most searched for projects on the site.  Sadly with the addition of our new fireplace, we donated her this week because of the new spacing of our layout. I hope she gets lots of love in someone else’s home though because she was certainly a favorite of mine.

I continue to embrace spray paint projects almost weekly and I am pretty sure that our bus driver thinks I am huffing because I am covered in spray paint at least two days a week getting my daughter off the bus. You can hang my mom of the year plaque inside my newly spray painted frame.

DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

6. DIY Minecraft Costume Ideas

Not only did I earn cool mom points for making a Minecraft costume with my son last year, but it also is one of our top ten projects on the site.

My son is still into Minecraft.

I still don’t get it.

6-Stitch Ruffled Scarf Tutorial

 

7.  Knitted Ruffled Scarf with Sashay Yarn

I find it intriguing that this is our top post in the knitting category, but I also found this yarn intriguing too when I worked with it. It makes a beautiful ruffle with just six stitches and people are always trying to figure out how to use it when they buy it at the store.

I ended up giving this scarf to my mom for her birthday. What’s the saying the cobbler’s children have no shoes? Yeah, it’s a lot like that.

How to Make a Care Package for the Homeless

8 How to Make a Homeless Care Package

Seeing this is still in our top ten posts makes me so very happy and is proof that I have such awesome readers. I did so much research on making the perfect bag and pricing out items so that we could serve as many people as possible with these bags and my husband spent so much time creating great resources and a checklist to make it easy for people to replicate this project for others.

I still get feedback from people that they are using it for their Girl Scout troops and even heard from one non-profit that used it as a template for serving people in their community. I’m so happy that this post made a difference and is impacting people in other regions.

There is nothing funny about this post- it’s just awesome.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs

9. Quick & Easy Knitted Boot Cuffs

It’s funny how a quick project like this can become so unexplainably popular. I try to submit my craft projects over to Craftgawker (you can view what has made the cut here) and this was one that I had submitted ages ago. People must be on the hunt for these because suddenly it shot to first place in our referral traffic these past couple of months. I headed over to see the views on it and it has already been viewed by 12,300 people (and counting!).

Guess how many pairs of these cuffs I have?

None.

My best friend got them for Christmas and I hear they are keeping her very cozy.

Now what was that saying again…?

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

10. How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Since I made this project just a couple of weeks ago, you can imagine how viral this has gone if it is already in our top ten posts of the year. I originally was going to execute this project for a client, but then I had the same thought as I did with those jeans, “Maybe I should keep the best stuff for me.” I am so glad I did and I have no doubt that this will be in our top ten even next year.

Why?

Who the hay wants to pay $60 for a blanket scarf?

Nobody.

I did find this image pinned in someone’s Mary Kate & Ashley pin board though and I was the only one who wasn’t Mary Kate or Ashley.

#longlostsister

Well, that was fun! What has been your favorite project on MomAdvice? I would love to hear if you have tried anything from the site for your family!

 

DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas

Monday, December 8th, 2014

DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas

 

I can’t believe that the holidays are upon us and, if you are anything like me, the house is just begging you to decorate it for the season. I love beautiful holiday decorations, but I prefer simplicity, affordability, and smart investments that can be used over and over again. In our house, for example, we are decking it out with my favorite burlap wreath and my handmade yarn trees and we are even buying our first REAL Christmas tree this year (which I am awfully excited about).

I love to make handmade items that we can pull out from year to year so that is why I am excited to showcase some DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas from some of my favorite DIY bloggers.

Check out these amazing DIY Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas on the Goodwill Tips blog today!

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Easy Bun Makers, Perfectly Airbrushed, & Blueberry Happiness

Friday, December 5th, 2014

It's the 3 Little Things

Happy Friday, friends! It was another busy week of crafting and decking the halls at our house. I also stayed up far too late watching Peter Pan Live last night. I thought the cast and the sets were simply phenomenal. What did you think?

We had new furniture delivered for our kids rooms last night so I am in a frenzy of cleaning out their rooms and drawers to make room for furniture that offers a little more small space function. Drawers are tucked underneath beds and bookcases tucked in headboards- the kind of furniture you really need when your bedrooms are shoebox size. I even cleared out an entire closet in my son’s room and have dreams of how I can make that a smart functional space for him.

Just as a heads up, I want to let you know that I am putting the blog on hiatus from December 13th-28th. I am VERY MUCH looking forward to a little peace and quiet after such a busy year with the site.   I am also putting myself on a social media hiatus and try to get back to center for the holidays and be present with my family.  I know you understand.  

I just snagged an ambitious amount of library books that I plan to read over my time off. I am looking forward to being creative just for the sake of being creative and not documenting anything for awhile. I’m so thankful for my job, but I am very run down.  That said, I have a VERY exciting reveal for 2015 that I am hoping you will love as much as me. Stay tuned for that as we take the site in a new direction!

 

Let’s talk about the happy  this week. This one is  a few new beauty tools I discovered!

Perfect Bun Maker

Finally a Perfect Bun Maker

I know everyone is crazy about the sock bun, but I have discovered a bun making tool that has saved us many a headache from bobby pins for my daughter’s ballet class. These foam bun makers are amazing and I actually paid $5 for  a single one at Target, but found this set of four for less than $5 on Amazon. All you do is throw your hair up in a ponytail, open the bun maker and slide it up so the end of your pony tail is sticking out, and roll upwards to the top of your ponytail, and bend into a bun shape. We secure it with just a couple of pins and it holds her heavy glossy hair all day long. It was so easy that I think my daughter could even do it herself.

This little tool came in handy this past weekend as she danced in her first Nutcracker which was so incredibly special to see. Here is a little shot I took of her backstage peeking at herself in the mirror at her dress rehearsal.

Nutcracker

Perfect buns and a perfect mom moment all rolled into one- that definitely is at the top of this week’s happy list!

Revlon Photoready Skinlights

Perfectly Airbrushed Skin

I picked up some Revlon Photoready Skinlights this past week. I have heard so many good things about this product and now I can see what the fuss is all about. You can mix this right into your foundation and it adds that airbrushed quality to your face and a little glimmer and dewiness that you see all the celebrities rocking.  As my skin is aging, I find that it gets more and more dry, and this being mixed into my foundation helps add that dewiness that I have been trying to achieve. You can also just add a touch to places you want to highlight like your cheekbones.   You only need a touch of it so a bottle will last a long time. I am really loving this stuff and highly recommend you pick some up to try it!

Yes to Blueberry Wipes

Yes To Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes

I am big on washing my face every night, but since we have been running around like crazy, I have gotten out of the habit of a good facial routine. I purchased these Yes to Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes from ePantry last month and I absolutely love them to get my make-up off before I head to bed. I love the smell of these and they do a great job getting my make-up off without drying out my skin. I am not sure if you saw or not, but we are running a deal with ePantry this week giving you $10 to shop, free shipping, a free Method Soap & they are giving $15 for each sign-up to my local food pantry for Giving Tuesday.  You could try this product out for free this week and help a great cause in the process! I hope you like these as much as I do!

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. Get inspiration and earn money cleaning out your closet with my tips! You must!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board and minimize that wardrobe!

 

camel tunic + burgundy leggings + brown & black accessories

Camel Colored Cowl Tunic Top Sweatshirt (Target)/Burgundy Knit Leggings (Ann Taylor Loft)/Naturalizer Boots- (6PM)/Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)

felt & wool sweater + burgundy tank + skinny jeans + boots

Last minute switch in the capsule because this shipped- pulled my emerald green shirt out. Anthropologie Wool Sweater (purchased second-hand from Thredup)/Burgundy Tank Top (Flourish Boutique)/Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/Naturalizer Boots- (6PM)

black dress + gray seamless shirt + black boots & tights + red belt + tassel necklace

Sushi Day Date With My Hubby- swoon! I even borrowed that bun maker from my daughter! Seamless Perfection Long Sleeve Tunic in Gray (Flourish Boutique)/ White House Black Market Knit Black Dress  (purchased second-hand on Twice)/ Red Skinny Belt (Target)/ Black Fleece Tights (Walmart)/Naturalizer Boots- (6PM)/Gray Tassel Necklace (Ali Oesch Jewelry)

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

How to Make a Blanket Scarf

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

 

Bonus Happy

Christmas Tree

 Our first real Christmas Tree. I’m in love!

*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?

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship

Monday, December 1st, 2014

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

*This post is sponsored by Walmart

I have had my calendar booked forever for Peter Pan Live! ever since I heard it was the next live theater production to hit television. Did you hear that it is coming to NBC on Thursday, December 4 at 8/7c? The cast includes several of my favorites like Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle and Minnie Driver. In honor of the film, I have crafted up a watermelon boat that you can share with your kids for your family night together. This fun food craft can be created together, adding your own personal pirate touches, or you can create it to surprise the kids for your family night.

Not many people know this, but I did theatre for many years and my favorite type of shows to do were musicals. My love for this started in high school and I took a year off in between high school and college to do more shows. In fact, I even did a show when I was pregnant with my son.  Thankfully, it was of an era with empire waists and flowing Victorian clothing. I miss it a lot and that is, perhaps, why I appreciate the opportunity to catch any production that I can. I also appreciate any opportunity I can get to expose my children to the arts and it is why I put a big significance on this in our home. Not everyone can afford a ticket to see a show and I love that this is an affordable way to enjoy the arts as a family.

Without further adieu, let’s create a fun pirate ship for your family night!

Supplies Needed

1 watermelon

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries

1 pound grapes

1 sharp knife

cutting board

1 piece of cardstock

5 paper straws (I found these in the party supplies aisle)

1 hole punch

1 pair of scissors

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

 

Directions for Watermelon Pirate Ship

1. To help your boat sit upright, slice very thinly the end off of the bottom of the watermelon, making sure not to puncture your watermelon so it can act as a boat for your fruit.

2.  Slice the top half of your watermelon off. Set aside.

3. Using a melon baller, remove the meat of your watermelon. If you do not have a melon baller, you can score the watermelon into chunks and glide your knife all around watermelon to help create the shape of your chunks. Use a spoon to then scoop out the squares of melon. Ideally though, a melon baller makes quick work for your fruit salad.

4. Once the melon is completely hollowed out, slice your fruit and place it inside of your bowl, weaving in your watermelon, to create your fruit salad.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

5. Now we can make our sails for our ship. Cut out five squares from a single piece of cardstock, any size you wish. I just cut out one square and used it as a template to create the rest of my sails. These do not have to be perfect, in fact, if they are imperfect they look like they are waving a bit in the breeze.

6. Using a hole punch, punch out a punch near the top of the square and then near the bottom to create a place for our straws to slide through. I stacked them all together and then punched them all at once so they would look more uniform.

7.  You will then need to cut your straws are varying sizes. I did one long straw, two medium, and then two short.  Slide the straw through making sure that the straw is peeking out of the back and not the front of that pretty white sail.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

We hope you love this craft we created in honor of  Peter Pan Live! and we hope you can catch the show with us!  You can learn more about this amazing production here! We can’t wait and hope this idea inspires you for your family night together!

xo

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

If there is one thing this girl loves it is a good yarn pom-pom project. I have created everything from pom-pom Christmas trees to bouquets of flowers for gift-giving. Today I’m partnering with Walmart to show you a fun winter craft you (or your little ones) can create for the holidays to decorate a window, mantel, or pretty up a ledge in your home. The best part is that it doesn’t cost a lot to create and can be used year after year!

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 skein (or possibly two depending on your ledge size) Hometown USA Super Bulky Yarn in Los Angeles Tan ($2.97)

Package of 20 Mini Shatterproof Ornaments (in seasonal decor with the mini artificial trees) ($3.48)

Large Clover Pom-Pom Maker (use the blue one) ($6.61)

Scissors

Embroidery Needle

Scissors

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com how-to-use-a-pom-pom-maker-4 Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom Pom & Mini-Ornament Garland Directions

1. Prepare yarn pom-poms as I have shown you in the step-by-step photo tutorial or follow directions on packaging to create your pom poms. Keep making pom-poms making sure to leave enough yarn to string your pom-pom garland.

2. Once all of your pom poms are made, thread them with the embroidery needle onto your yarn. Take the embroidery needle off (the needle head is too large to feed through the mini-ornaments) and then alternate it with a mini-ornament. Keep doing this until you have filled the entire garland leaving a little on each end to hang down. I ended mine with an ornament since it ends the garland securely without knotting.

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

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Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com
Yarn Pom-Pom & Ornament Garland from MomAdvice.com

Did you see that I got my first little fireplace? I decided to decorate it with this adorable garland. To tie it all together, I filled glass bowls ($1.97 each) with a package of mini ornaments ($3.48 each) and then stacked them on my little fake logs that I had bought for my fall decorating from the craft store. I found these adorable owls  for $4.98 in the seasonal decor and I love that I can leave these out even when it isn’t Christmas. This mini lighted tree was $9.98 and I finished her with a little pom-pom topper too. Since we took our painting down to decorate, I used the nails I had for hanging another shorter garland above the top to add a little interest to the wall.

This project took me about one hour and I look forward to enjoying it all Winter long and in the years to come.

I hope this frugal idea inspires you in your holiday decorating! Happy Holidays!

xo

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How to Paint a Laminate Fireplace

Friday, November 28th, 2014

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

It has been a dream of mine to have a fireplace in our home.  It started with a faux mantel obsession and endless nights on Craigslist. Then every home improvement show we watched had beautiful restored mantels that made me pine more for a cozy place in our home to sit. When we rented a lake cottage last winter, we all took turns sitting by it in the evenings to warm up. I just can’t seem to get over it.

Walmart wanted to partner with me on a fun winter project and I just knew it was time to pull the trigger.  You know, let the obsessing begin again. This time, I decided to explore the electric fireplace option for our home due to its affordability and ease it would be to add it to a room in our home.

I haven’t seen an electric fireplace in action in many years, but I can honestly say that they have come a long way. The flames are much more realistic than they used to be and you can select if you just want to sit by your little faux fire or if you want actual warmth which warms a room as a space heater would.  It’s definitely not the real deal, but a beautiful substitute especially for small spaces that need a little cozying.

Electric Fireplaces Ideas Under $200

Pictured Above: 1. Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199)/ 2. Wall Mounted Fireplace ($124.95)/ 3. Electric Fireplace with 26″ Mantel ($129.99) 4. Electric Fireplace With 38″ Mantel (159.97)/ 5. 26″ Polyfiber Electric Fireplace ($199)

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

This back corner in my craft room/office was intended to be a place to unwind. Unfortunately, unwinding seemed impossible when facing my desk and the corner ended up being a pretty space that was rarely used. I decided that wall would be the perfect spot for our little fireplace and settled upon this Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199) for the space. I paid the $5 for swift shipping and the item came overnight- I am not kidding.

This is a build-it-yourself piece of furniture that took a couple of hours to put together. I must admit, my husband was not on board at this point with my decision to bring this into our space, but I knew it could anchor this corner better and would be a lovely treat in the winter.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

That same evening (a late night Instagram capture), I rearranged the furniture and the kids raided their library books and spent the evening cozy by it.

I loved the cozy space, but felt that the fireplace could look a little better with a little paint and creating a brighter focal point. I decided that I would paint it white to brighten it up and also to camouflage that this is a laminate wood piece. Have you ever painted laminate wood before?  It really couldn’t be easier with these three simple ingredients.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture in 3 Easy Steps

1. Paint on a Coat of Zinsser Primer- I became a fan of Zinsser Primer when I painted our kitchen table (she still looks great!) and could not seem to remove the layers of poly that had been applied to the table. In the same way, Zinsser makes a laminate surface accept your paint. If you don’t use this as a sealant before painting, it is likely that your project will begin to bubble and it will not accept the application of paint. Zinsser dries very quickly and is easy to apply to the surface. Once it is dry (usually within an hour or two), you can begin painting your furniture

2. Next, you can apply your paint. I have been painting like crazy over here and so I had a gallon of paint on hand that I could dig into for this project. Since the laminate wood was so dark, I used my Benjamin Moore Paint (the paint color is White Dove) that included a primer already in it.  With the addition of that, plus the Zinsser, I only needed one coat and a little more for touching up.

3. Finish with two coats of Polycrylic in a Clear Satin. I have a very sad, sad tale to share soon about two pieces of furniture that were ruined by an oil-based poly. In fact, they yellowed within a single week. Please if you do one thing, take my advice and use Polycrylic to finish your project. It is clear, it doesn’t smell as awful as the oil-based, and this product WON’T YELLOW YOUR FURNITURE.  Allow each coat of poly to dry for two hours before reapplying. Allow the piece to dry overnight.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

The white paint definitely makes this fireplace the focal point of the room. I have already decorated her for the holidays and will be sharing my mantel decorating ideas on the blog next week that I created in less than an hour. This space is truly the happiest corner in our home and has been a wonderful place to unwind in the evening hours or for a break in the office during the day. I can’t believe how affordable this solution was and I love that I added my own touches to it to truly make it mine.

As you can see it, it is a hit with the whole family even our cat loves it and cozies up with us here. I highly recommend a little Bing on the record player to really bring this corner to life!

Happy holidays, friends!

xo

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Eating Well During the Holidays: Light Cranberry Bar Recipe

Monday, November 24th, 2014

*This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am very passionate about good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. You may not know that I actually went to school to study to be a dietician so I could help others eat and live better too. Although I never dreamed this would be my job, I am thankful for that background when putting together recipes for our site. I have come a long way over the years toward living a healthier lifestyle. I actually starting eating better because my body was indicating to me that something just wasn’t right after discovering I have a sensitivity to gluten. The other reason is how much better I feel when I eat well and exercise.

Today I am partnering with Celestial Seasoning Tea to share some ways that I try to stay on track for the holidays. You may not have considered tea a delicious (and healthy!) holiday indulgence, but they actually have 8 holiday offerings that include my new favorite Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Black Tea, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea, and Caramel Apple Dream that would all be lovely offerings for a post Thanksgiving feast treat.

Looking to stay on track for the holidays? Try these ideas!

Eating Well During the Holidays

Get in a Good Walk Before or After Your Feast

As you know I am absolutely obsessed with my Fitbit and we even shared a great way you can glam it up for the holidays.  Tracking my steps each day has been a great reminder to keep active and moving throughout the day. Whether you have a Fitbit, a pedometer, or use an app on your cell phone, try making a step goal for the day and get your steps in before or after your holiday feasts.

Many gyms offer a modified schedule for holidays for die-hard exercise enthusiasts (or just those of us who want to indulge in an extra slice or two of pie). Consider tackling a class in the morning, challenging your family to a game of flag football after your feast, or taking a family walk together after your dessert.
Eating Well During the Holidays

Eat Before You Eat

Since I have to be careful about what I eat for dietary reasons, I often eat before I head to a gathering because I know that many of the foods offered will leave me sick and feeling lethargic.  Consider indulging in a healthy meal or snack before heading out to your holiday gatherings that will help fill you up on the good stuff and give your stomach less room to indulge.

I like to keep a bag of spinach and roasted chicken or roasted turkey in my fridge for a quick salad with a few vegetable or fruit additions from the crisper drawer. Having a few items like these on hand during the holiday season will help you to eat healthy between the rush of holiday errands and gatherings. I have never regretted the time spent chopping and preparing my DIY salad bar for busy weeks.

Offer To Bring a Dish

I always offer to bring a dish to family gatherings that I know that I can eat and snack on. Opt for healthy options like a vegetable tray for snacking with a low-calorie dip or a fruit salad that can be a dessert replacement. Consider a lightened up holiday recipe as a dish to bring like these delicious Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars that can be enjoyed without the guilt.

Instead of coffee drowning in creamer opt to enjoy this sweet dessert with a tea that compliments it well. For these bars, I recommend the Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea or, another one of my personal favorites, Gingerbread Spice.

Light Gluten-Free Cranberry Bars

Indulge Moderately

Even I can’t shy away from the dessert table around the holidays, but there are definitely fun, light desserts you can share in lieu of the calorie-laden pie.  To inspire you, here is a delicious Cranberry-Oatmeal Bar you can make for a sweet treat to enjoy with your cup of tea. May I recommend the Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea as an accompaniment?  It is a perfect pairing!  The best part, each bar is only 133 calories and has just 4.6 grams of fat.

Light Gluten-Free Cranberry Bars

Eating Well During the Holidays: Light Cranberry Bar Recipe
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
A lighter dessert option for the holiday season best paired with a cup of tea.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free quick-cooking oats
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar $
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Cooking spray
  • FILLING: 1⅓ cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces) $
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve ½ cup oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray using the bottom of a measuring cup to create a cohesive crust.
  3. To prepare filling, combine cranberries, sour cream, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling.
  4. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

 

*This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

This post is sponsored by Walmart AND ALL PROCEEDS WERE DONATED.

I feel like such a lucky mom to have so many incredible women in my life. Most of these friendships started when I was a new mom still trying to figure out the ropes of motherhood.  Now my kids are growing up, but I need them as much as I did in the early days. Unfortunately, our schedules have all become so crazy that it becomes nearly impossible to get our group together anymore. I decided a few weeks ago that I really wanted to see them all before the holidays took over and we all began to hibernate for the Indiana winter. I invited them to my home for my first annual Friendsgiving feast to share in a meal together before the holidays and I couldn’t wait to share about it with you.

Let me disclose by saying that I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible and, if you are considering hosting a feast of your own, I would advise you do the same. I wanted to do it on budget, make it as effortless as possible, and I wanted the cooking to be easy too.

Here is how I executed the world’s easiest Friendsgiving Feast and helped give to our community in the process.

Host a Friendsgiving Feast

Create a Facebook Event (And Get Positive Responses)

Like I said, my friends are crazy busy and getting our group together is nearly impossible. Instead of setting up an event and shooting blindly in the dark for a date or receiving a million responses and being responsible for sorting people/dates, I utilize Doodle to schedule get togethers. Simply plug in the dates and times that will work for you and send out the link to the scheduling tool for each person to vote for the days that work best for them. Once you receive the responses you can set the date for the one that received the most positive response.

Once you have the date, it couldn’t be easier to invite your friends especially since everyone (at least in my group) is on Facebook. I just put up an event and asked that everyone respond there. It was easy to create, to monitor, and gave me an accurate headcount for making food purchases. Make sure that you set the privacy to, “Invite Only” for viewing otherwise everyone who is a friend can see a response (and might not be included- ouch!) I admit, the only time I wish I had a bigger house is when I host events like this. Believe me, Invite Only for viewers is the way to go.

Herb Roasted Turkey

You Supply the Turkey, They Supply the Fixins’

Last year I hosted my family for Thanksgiving all while photographing each and every dish for the site. This year I wanted to take an easier approach so I offered to supply the turkey, gravy, and stuffing, but requested that each person bring their own dish and a bottle of wine to share. To make sure all the categories were filled, I utilized Jooners to create a sign-up sheet for dishes. Be sure to specify what you need under the, “Needed,” box. That is where I asked for side dishes, desserts, bread, and appetizers. This will help you have a well-rounded feast and since everyone can fill in the dish they are bringing, it  helps cut down on anyone bringing the same dish.

Not only did I do store-bought stuffing and gravy, I purchased turkey breasts (here is my favorite method of preparation) instead of dealing with the bones and carving. It killed me a little bit to do this when I know I could do so much more, but this also helped me to truly enjoy the evening with my friends and allowed me to not worry about laboring over dishes and missing out on all the fun together. Not to mention the cost factor that I saved on by having everyone help me with dishes and drinks.

Decorate Store Bought Pies

Of course, there is always our make-ahead feast that gets you out of the kitchen that day altogether!  Here are my make-ahead mashed potatoes, make-ahead fresh green bean casserole, make-ahead gravy, make-ahead stuffing, make-ahead cranberry sauce, make-ahead appetizers, make-ahead rolls, make-ahead pie crust, and even some great make-ahead ways to dress up a store-bought pie… just to name a few!

Knitted Leaves Centerpiece

Invest in Smart Party Supplies That You Use Over & Over Again

Over the years we have hosted so many gatherings that I have accumulated an arsenal of tools so that I can pull a get together at a moment’s notice.  I honestly didn’t buy a thing other than disposable cups for our get together, but that is because I have invested over the years and I try to create handmade items that can double as centerpieces if I don’t have time to run out and purchase fresh flowers.

The things that I have used the most over the years:

Centerfold Table- I bought this three years ago and I use it at least three times a year. It has a handle on it and folds down the center making it easy to pack up and take it if you need to and also making it easy to store when you don’t.  I purchased this tablecloth (you can see it here in a game day party I did awhile back) because it was stain-resistant.  To save on time ironing, I just wash it and then spread it on the table the night before since it is so lightweight and dries quickly without even going through the dryer. It helps cut down on wasting time ironing and is wrinkle-free in the morning.

friendsgiving-2

Elegant Plastic Dishes- Elegance and plastic might not seem like they go together, but plastic dishes have come a long way. I hosted a shed-warming party (totally a thing!) this summer and since we had so many guests coming, I decided to buy twenty of these dishes. If you go to Walmart, you can purchase the plates individually, which is exactly what I did.  Unfortunately (but then fortunately), they didn’t have enough in a single style so I ended up getting three different styles which adds a bit of fun to the dinner table. I love that these are lightweight and can be reused over and over again.

DIY Bar Cart

Bar Cart- This summer I transformed a tool cart into a bar cart and it is truly one of my favorite entertaining tools. Since we live in a small home (which we are very committed to) we don’t have a lot of counters or surfaces to use for putting out drinks and food. My bar cart resides in my shed, but I wheel it in when I am entertaining and it offers a fun place to tuck bottles of wine and glasses.

Inexpensive Silverware- I actually hit our local restaurant supply store for inexpensive silverware that reminds me of some of my favorite diners. There is never a shortage of forks, spoons, or knives at our home.

Decor That Can Be Used Over & Over Again- I love to craft and in the back of my mind, I am always thinking how I can weave these items into our seasonal decorating especially when it comes to the holidays. For our Friendsgiving feast my Knitted Leaf Centerpiece was perfect for my table (and is on display year-round in my craft room). This winter the table will be adorned with these Yarn Pom Pom Trees that I made. Think of creating something that you can get out every year and that can save you money when entertaining.

Friendsgiving

REALLY Make it a FriendsGIVING

I have some truly generous friends so I called upon them to assist me with giving back to our community.  First, I asked each of them to take a moment to clear out their pantries so that we could make a donation to my church’s food pantry. Right before the holidays is a great time to clear some space and make room for all of those items you will need to tackle your holiday baking and dishes.

The shelter that I have helped in the past where we achieved our MomAdvice Big Give, the Elkhart Faith Mission, is a charity that I love to support. Longtime readers may recall the MomAdvice Big Give we executed with them. Here is a little throwback footage for you.

It costs a mere $.1.79 to give a Thanksgiving meal to one person at the shelter. I left an envelope out and asked if anyone felt like giving that they could donate as little as two bucks to give someone something to look forward to for the holidays.

Consider making a true FriendsGIVING experience and find a scraps of life way to give back or gather together to make care packages for the homeless.

Faith Mission of Elkhart

Each year I like to dedicate one post from Walmart to those in need and today’s post is for the families heading to Faith Mission that need a holiday dinner to look forward to.  

I understand that sponsored posts aren’t always the favorite posts here, but the proceeds from this post today and the donations I collected fed 187 PEOPLE a Thanksgiving meal and many of our posts this year gave a community of  people clean water this year.  How cool is that? Please support our sponsors because they do help many- perhaps, more than you realize! 

I hope my Friendsgiving inspires you to give back to your community and to throw a get together with your own amazing friends!

Have you ever hosted a Friendsgiving? Any tips or tricks you would like to share!

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