Archive for November, 2008

A Shift Towards Holiday Traditions

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

With the economy in crisis, I have been getting a lot of questions on how families can celebrate the holidays when they don’t have the money to have the Christmas that they have been dreaming of. It can be stressful as a parent to not be able to have the holiday that you envision for your children, but a change in perception for the holidays can go a long way. You see, regardless of the economic turmoil, the holidays will never change for our family because our focus has turned to traditions rather than gifts.

When you make the switch to focusing on family traditions, there is a lot less stress in your life worrying about the gifts under the tree. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about? For me, it is all about family, about creating memories for my children that they will never forget, and it is about the love that they feel from us as parents.

Here are some of the ways we have made traditions more important than presents:

Special Holiday Meals

For me, the holidays are when I get to spend oodles of time in the kitchen with my children. We do special holiday meals that the kids can really look forward to and enjoy participating in.  We go to lots of holiday gatherings and do our own holiday food traditions where we center our time around activities in the kitchen rather than time spent in the stores. My hope is that my children will remember getting to be a part of this time spent preparing food together, just as I remember spending time in my grandmother’s kitchen making her Christmas cookies.

In our family, each Friday night in December, we make a homemade pizza and bundle our children up for an evening of looking at the holiday lights in the neighborhoods. We blast the Christmas carols on the radio and bring along popcorn for them to snack on while they enjoy all the beauty of the Christmas lights. To make it more fun, we let them pick their favorite pajamas to wear and they think this is hilarious to get to wear their pajamas in the car.

On Christmas morning, I make cocoa and gingerbread waffles for the kids. As a special treat, I shape the tubes of store-bought cinnamon rolls into a Christmas tree shape and tint the icing green for the tree. We eat this together after we open the presents and the kids look forward to it each year.

While these traditions might not sound like much, our children look forward to them each year and we get just as excited as them for these special meals.

Caring for Others

Instead of focusing on ourselves, we try to do things for others around the holidays. We are gathering items for a donation to our shelter and we plan to bring the children there to help be a part of the giving. We are trying to teach them just how good giving feels and how fortunate we are to have what we have. Growing up, we used to donate our time to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate and I have never forgotten this. The gratefulness in these people’s eyes and the rush of euphoria I felt when I could do something for someone else has always stuck with me. I want my children to experience this just like I did and realize how much better it is to give than to receive.

We also do boxes of treats for people who have been good to our family or cared for us in some way- our teachers & staff, our extended family, and even service workers.

I highly recommend, if you have little children, taking the time to visit your fire station with a box full of goodies. First of all, seeing the faces of the firefighters light up when they see all of your treats is a treat in itself. More importantly though, is the light in your children’s eyes when they take them around to show them the fire engines. This is one of the best days of playing Santa I have every year.

Filling the Stockings with Love

On the first day of December, I try to set out a basket and small slips of paper. Each person in the family is supposed to write something about someone else in the family that they appreciate about them and stick it in each other’s stockings. On Christmas morning, we have something fun to look forward to opening, which centers on family rather than gifts. If you have smaller children, have them draw pictures for each family member and jot down the sweet things they say about their family members. It is truly a highlight of my Christmas morning and brings us all closer together.

Countdown to Christmas

Each year, I collect Little Golden books all year long for a countdown to Christmas for the children. I wrap them in newspaper with ribbon and we open one for each day of December. The books are bought at the thrift store for a quarter each and we read them each day until Christmas. Similarly, you could do a countdown to Christmas with a small treat or candy, an Advent calendar countdown, or another small token to let the kids know when Christmas is coming.

We also do a Christmas jar of fun activities for each day of December. We fill it with fun and free activities- making a snowman, watching a holiday show on television, making a holiday ornament- anything that is inexpensive and fun for us to do together as a family.

These are just suggestions for ways to make the holiday more special and more focused on your family rather than a store-bought Christmas tied up with an expensive bow.  Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to document these memories in some way so you can share them with your children. I started a holiday journal for the children and tucked in a copy of their sweet letters to Santa, their favorite holiday recipes, our holiday photo each year, and jotted down their favorite memories from the year.

My goal is to only leave my children a legacy of holiday memories, not a legacy of stuff under the tree.

Gingerbread Waffles

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron
  • Syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruits for topping, to pass at table

Preheat waffles iron. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Do not overstir the waffle batter. Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook 4 waffles, 4 sections each. Serve with toppings of choice.

Thanksgiving Day Recap

Friday, November 28th, 2008

I have to say that even though I hosted and it was a lot of work, this was probably one of my most favorite Thanksgiving Days ever. It was so wonderful to have both sides of our family with us at our home and to celebrate with everyone at one time. Even though our space was limited, I managed to get everyone on one level so that we could all eat together. That was really important to me. It was so fun to see the grandmas from each side sitting together and the families all mixed together. It was just what I envisioned for our day.

All of the food turned out wonderfully. I had made ten pounds of these make-ahead mashed potatoes and I began to panic as I poured them into my slow cooker. They had separated and looked a lot like soup. I said a little prayer, put the slow cooker on low and they thickened up within a couple of hours. They were so delicious, although I made far too much of them, and no one could believe that they came out of my freezer. I will be repeating this recipe often for our family get togethers.

The other hit from the party, my cranberry spread with crackers. I put this out on a cake stand at one of the tables and no one could stop eating it. This dip is highly addictive! I had extra cranberries leftover and those got thrown into the stuffing with more celery and garlic. It was heavenly and I can’t wait to eat the leftovers.

My turkey was my biggest worry although I had great guidance from Chef Lee. I had never made a turkey before and was very worried that it wouldn’t turn out. I cooked it in a turkey bag and stuffed it with celery, sage, and garlic. I stuck butter underneath the skin and let the bird roast all morning. It turned out wonderfully, although the pop-up timer popped a little later than it probably should have as part of the turkey was a little dry. This was remedied with a little chicken stock poured over the turkey to make it nice and juicy again.

We all headed out to our backyard to get a family picture. In hindsight, we should have done this FIRST before the children were too tired and grumpy. Emily was kicking, screaming, and crying throughout the picture taking. Pictured here is my side of the family!

Here is my husband’s side of the family. At this point, it is hysterical because Emily is screaming bloody murder and everyone is cheering and trying to get Emily to smile on the other side of the camera.
And here is my most favorite picture of all. Me with my super handsome husband- aren’t I the luckiest girl in the world?

How did everyone’s Thanksgiving turn out? What dishes were a hit? What flopped? I can’t wait to hear your stories!

Freebie Friday: November 28, 2008

Friday, November 28th, 2008

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know our own family really enjoyed the holiday and I survived my first year of hosting both sides of the family and it went really well! I hope those of you that are braving the crowds today find all the deals you are looking for and those of us that are less ambitious, enjoy another great day with your family.

A big thank you to Heather, from Freebies 4 Mom, for helping us with our freebie list this week. Heather has a great guest post from Ginger, at Attention Target Shoppers, on shopping safely this holiday season. Be sure to read Heather’s post on the latest news from Walmart too!

Health & Beauty

Hairband from Crest (for current and new Vocalpoint members)
Pantene (the Mystery Shampoo sample revealed)
Airborne Original Zesty Orange

Sun Crystals Natural Sweetener
Dunkin Donuts Dark Coffee


Robb Report Magazine (1 free issue from StartSampling)

Home & Garden

Shopping List from Marie Callender’s (restocked by Walmart)
Glad ForceFlex Trash Bags

Upcoming Freebie Events:

Nov. 29 & 30 Santa Photos at Walmart 10am – 2pm
Dec. 6 Make an Art Easel at Home Depot 9 – Noon
Dec. 6 & 7 Santa Photos at Walmart 10am-2pm
Dec. 13 Make a Gingerbread House (out of wood) at Lowe’s 10 – 11am


Don’t forget to enter this week’s giveaways. You can win a year’s worth of toilet paper & paper towels, Clorox 2 laundry detergent, and Klutz Holiday Activity Packs! Find out the scoop on all the giveaways here! Consider it our holiday gift to you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

I will be taking a break today to enjoy some wonderful time with my precious family. Our Notebook & Notebook Experiments will be on hiatus this week and I encourage you to really focus on all that you are thankful for this year!

I know I have so much to be thankful for. God has been so very good to our family. I am also thankful for you, my special readers, for helping our site grow by sharing it with your friends and loved ones. Without your continued support, I wouldn’t have this wonderful platform to share with you. Thank you for all you do and for continuing to make this a regular blogging read. It means the world to me!

I wanted to post this wonderful reminder for what this season is all about. I have been seeing it circulate on a few blogs and it just really resonated with me. I actually cried a little when I watched this because it was such an incredible reminder of what we are trying to do this year. A change in focus, a switch in attitude, a little love for those in need- I hope you can do the same this year.

Blessings to each of you!


(Photo Credit: Tom Olliver)

5 Tips for Great Photography Straight From A Pro

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I was excited to have found an old friend of mine from high school through Facebook. As I paged through my friend Daniel’s info and pictures, I couldn’t believe how incredible his photography was and had to find out what he was up to. It was no surprise, after seeing his amazing photography, that he was running his own business and doing quite well with it.

I asked if I could interview him for our website so I could share tips for great photography with our moms and was so thrilled when he accepted. He was happy to share with our readers just a little glimpse into the world of great photography and I hope that this information will help you as you venture into taking pictures of your children.

Best of all, he shares his secrets for getting that perfect family photo and just in time for those fun holiday pictures for those photo cards!

Can you offer some insight on choosing the best photography equipment for a young family? What is one good investment that is totally worth the splurge?

Sure! I can talk cameras and gear all day and night, but I’ll try to keep it brief. The main thing to keep in mind is that expensive gear doesn’t make great photographs. Expensive tools are nice, but more important is the knowledge of how and when to use the tools you’ve got. With that in mind, remember that digital photography equipment is very rapidly evolving. For example, the big camera manufacturers have a history of announcing new SLR camera bodies every 18 months or less! So the one solid investment to make in digital photography is in glass (lenses). Spend your money on the best glass you can afford, keep it forever, and then look for a camera body within your remaining budget.

If the SLR world of bodies and interchangable lenses is entirely out of your budget from the start, then don’t forget that truly great photographs are made every single day with cameras in the Point & Shoot (P&S;) category. In general, P&S; cameras will range from being completely automatic to having the ability to shoot fully manual. An automatic camera can be convenient and may serve your purposes well. However, in my experience, most people taking photographs of their kids will eventually want at least some amount of manual control over their camera’s settings. The danger in letting an auto-camera do all the thinking for you is that there will be situations involving lighting, motion, white balance and selective focus that will require at least some amount of manual control to capture. I don’t want to get too much into recommending specific brands or models, but the P&S; camera I take with me when I scuba dive is a Canon G9, which can be as “auto” or as “manual” as I need it to be. I use 2 SLR bodies and a variety of lenses when shooting above the water!

If readers would like more specific recommendations with regard to brand/model, they are more than welcome to contact me directly. I’m happy to help! So, quick re-cap: spend your money on good lenses first if going the SLR route or spend your money on getting some manual control if going with a P&S; camera.

When trying to capture pictures of children, what are a few quick tips for good photography?

First, remember that photography is about light and without good light on your children, their smiles, laughs and actions will likely go uncaptured! So, position yourself in relation to your children so that their faces are well lit and worry about lighting in other areas of the frame as secondary importance. With that in mind, harsh sunlight isn’t very flattering in most situations and finding some shade under an overhang or next to a building will generally improve the quality of your light. Think about light in at least two different ways; there is a quantity of light and also a quality of light, which are very different from one another. Try to avoid shooting under tree leaves as you’ll end up with “broken light” on your children from the sun shooting between the leaves of the tree. You’ll end up with bright spots and shadow areas right next to one another on their faces, creating a “giraffe skin effect” on your kiddos!

Of course, with kids, the harder you try to pose them, the worse the situation becomes, and very quickly! Most parents with younger children would have no trouble agreeing with that! So, let children be children. Don’t impose too much, hang around close enough to capture your photographs, gently inserting mild directives when possible, but try not to intrude. If you do need to pose children in a more formal manner, do it quickly, with lots of praise and by showing them examples of what you want, etc. Get the shot immediately and then set them free to go play! In general, I try not to keep the little ones ‘posing’ for me any longer than 30 seconds to a minute before giving them a play break. Of course, during their play break, I’m still shooting from a distance!

Young children are constantly in motion, what settings work best for energetic toddlers?

Great question! I tend to think of child photography as being similar to sports photography in many ways. Two things have to happen; 1. your shutter speed has to be fast enough to ‘freeze’ the child’s motion and 2. your focus must be constantly adjusting as the child moves and the distance changes between the child and your camera. A slower shutter speed will let in more light of course, but motion will also be blurred (which can be a cool effect). However, I find that a sharp, crisp, and in-focus photo of a moving toddler will typically require a shutter speed of 1/80s or faster depending on how fast they are moving and depending on the lens you are using. A longer (telephoto) lens requires faster shutter speeds to avoid camera shake. Many cameras have several focusing modes. If your camera has a mode that allows you to track movement, sometimes called AI Servo or AI Focus among other names, this usually works better than pre-focusing and trying to anticipate a child’s movement. So, quick shutter and tracking focus for kids on the go!

What editing software would you recommend for a mom who is just starting out with photo editing?

Well, there are just so many good options for editing photos anymore, many of them free and I’d be happy to recommend a few of my favorites. However, I want to emphasize how important it is that good photographs be made in-camera, not ‘fixed’ in post processing. With tools like Photoshop we can do some really amazing things to a digital image, but it’s always obvious when a photograph has been ‘saved’ in photoshop. There’s a saying to this effect amongst many photographers, “garbage in, garbage out.” My point being that you should spend more of your time working on getting great photos with your camera than working on trying to edit them into great photos .

However, in my opinion all digital photos do require at least a little post-processing in the way of white balance, saturation, curves and sharpness and one of my favorite tools for, say a mom jus
t starting out, is
Google’s Picasa. It’s free, has a very easy interface, offers many web and sharing options and likely isn’t going away any time soon! Honestly, my 6 year old uses Picasa with her digital photos. It’s very user-friendly. For those who may be ready to get into a little more serious editing, but want to maintain the ‘free’ aspect, I’d recommend the application, Gimp.

There are also many free web-based applications for those times when you might not be at your own computer, but need to quickly upload and edit a handful of images: Picnik, Pixenate, Fotoflexer, LunaPic, flauntr, picture2life, phixr, and easyphotoresize. Personally, I do the majority of my editing for the weddings and portraits I that I shoot in Adobe Lightroom and a little bit still in Photoshop.

When getting family portraits done, I am always stumped how to dress the family. Do you have any suggestions for getting that perfect family picture?

Sure! In general, I like families to feel comfortable above all else. Good photographs are about capturing a family’s personality and it’s always very obvious when subjects are uncomfortable in their own clothing. Additionally, I tend to like solid colors on top and either jeans or khaki pants. In the Fall, I prefer solid black or white tops. In the Spring and Summer, I really like bright bold solid colors on top. Bright, bold colors in the snow for winter portraits can really be fun too! It’s usually best to avoid busy patterns, horizontal stripes, and clothes that have never been worn before. So, be comfy, be yourselves and do your best to NOT stress out about getting your family portraits done. One thing I can say for sure, is that stress always shows in photographs and stiff, posed portraits are just not my style at all. So, when considering getting your own family portraits done keep comfort and personality in mind. In general, you want your family to look like your family in your portraits, not a stiff, posed and stressed version of your family!

I have to ask, what is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken and why is it special to you?

Definitely the hardest question to answer, Amy! It’s so tough to say. On one hand, there are so many photographs that I am really pleased with and on the other hand, one is always very critical of his own work.

One thing I do every year in December is put together a collection of what I feel are some of my best photographs for that calendar year and publish them as a free video podcast, which can be found in iTunes by doing a search for “dgmphotography” or “Daniel G. McNulty” in the iTunes store. Subscribing to this video podcast portfolio is free of course. I also regularly put many of my personal favorites on my blog in more of an informal format. That said, I think I’d have to choose a favorite in multiple categories (weddings, children, families, landscape, etc), but if I were forced to choose one photograph to keep for the rest of my life and never look at another, it would probably be this one, mostly because they are my daughters and loving the beach and loving each other as I do!

General Info About Daniel G. McNulty Photography:
email: [email protected]
iTunes Link

A big round of applause to Daniel for helping us with this piece. What is your biggest dilemma with capturing pictures and what would you like us to feature more of in this category?

Please be sure to leave a comment and thank Daniel for his time in helping us supply these amazing tips!

The Rainy Day (or Snowy Day) Scarf

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

The Rainy Day Scarf



This is one of my latest knitting projects that I have been working on for a holiday gift. Isn’t it beautiful?

This is the Rainy Day Scarf, but in my case it was the snowy day and sore throat kind of scarf. I think I am going to finish it with some ribbon and yarn tassels in various colors.

The yarn was on sale for $2.99 at Michael’s and I was planning to pair it with a tin of my homemade vanilla chai tea as a gift.

Don’t you think these would be cute wrapped up and tied with ribbon together? I can’t wait to finish this project and crank out some more of these.

This is definitely a wonderful holiday gift on a budget!

Best of all, the pattern is easy and can be done parked in front of the television. You have to love that! You can follow my holiday projects by joining me on Ravelry.

I have a few projects up my sleeve for the holidays so be sure to join the community and add me as your friend!

My login name is “momadvice.”

As a side note, can I brag just a little?

Don’t these photos look so much better?

My husband and I worked together on putting together a little light box for me and I have to say I am so pleased with the results.

I am still fiddling with my camera and figuring out settings, but this light box will help make my day much easier.

I have wasted so much of my day trying to take pictures in good lighting and this will definitely help with my still photography.

I used this tutorial to put it together that my friend Janel had shared with me.

It was a small investment for a lot of peace.

Just imagine holding the entire dinner hour up trying to find the perfect lighting to shoot your food in.

Then imagine eating cold food because it took sixty shots to get one decent picture.

Obviously, something had to be done.

So, here’s to snowy day scarves and fabulous little light boxes! Cheers!


What holiday projects are you working on?

An Apron Full of Giveaways 11.25.08

Monday, November 24th, 2008

An Apron Full of Giveaways will be offered each week starting today. It is a way to tie my two obsessions together- awesome aprons and loads of free loot. Each week a giveaway will be sponsored by a new apron and in each post will be a load of great free stuff you can enter in to win. I thought this would be a great way to help my fellow work-at-home friends and give you some eye candy while entering your giveaways. To kick off this feature, we will be offering four giveaways to our readers this week.

If you would like to host an apron giveaway, please send me an email at [email protected]. Until we get some sponsors, these will be just some eye-candy while you enter the giveaways. I am hoping we will get sponsors though and can enter to win these contests!

Today’s apron is called “Dots on Cocoa” print and is a hostess apron. It can be purchased for $29 through Fancy Boutique. I just love the style and print of this one and who can resist a brown apron with bright polka dots on it? I am a girl who loves a full apron because I am a disaster in the kitchen. Can anyone else relate to this statement?

Not only do we have four giveaways to offer our readers this week we also have two giveaways that will be closing up at 8PM (EST) Tuesday evening. Included within our giveaway list for this week- a personalized photo necklace, free Clorox 2 laundry detergent, Klutz Christmas Activity Books and a year’s worth of Scott’s paper towels and toilet paper.

Be watching for more giveaways periodically throughout the week! I am doing my best to make your Christmas a little brighter and help relieve some of that financial strain that plagues us all around the holidays

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Christmas Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Redbox Code 11. 24.08

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Today’s free code for a Redbox movie is 2MNC92. This code is good for one free movie and you can use it until midnight tonight. Enjoy a free family movie together!

Side Notes:

– If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

– When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, “Rent with Promo.” Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

Looking for some movie recommendations? Check out Scribbit’s recent list of movie rental ideas (or ones to avoid!)


Give your child the ultimate Christmas gift with this collection of holiday favoritesThomas & Friends: Ultimate Christmas, The Happy Elf, Santa Claus: The Movie and Eloise: Little Miss Christmas. To enter this giveaway head over to The MotherLoot and please leave a comment by Tuesday (11/25) at 8PM (EST).

Lands’ End wants our readers to enjoy shopping with them for the holidays. They are offering three of their holiday favorites as a choice for you should you win this giveaway- a cashmere sweater, a down vest, or a sleeping bag set. Put your entry in by Tuesday (11/25) at 8PM (EST).

Check out all the giveaways each and every Tuesday- enjoy!

My Christmas Wish List This Year

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Reader Q: What is on your Christmas list this year?

I love making Christmas lists for my children, but I dread making them for myself. I feel like I have so much that I don’t really need anything. I know how fun it is to see other people’s holiday lists though because it can help you in creating your own lists. Without further adieu, here is my wish list for this year!

The first thing on my list is that people make a donation to our Big Give this year. I have been working so hard on this and want to really give our local homeless shelter a really great Christmas this year. Our family does charitable giving in lieu of gift exchanges so I look forward to putting money in for good causes this year. I encourage you all to do the same or request that charitable gifts be made instead of getting something on your Christmas list.

One of the gifts that I received as an early Christmas gift was a Kindle. I get to do some traveling with my work and I am an avid reader. On my last trip, I was toting four library books to keep me entertained. While I was out of town, Oprah had the Kindle on her show and my husband ordered one for me at the special discount price. It was the best gift he could have ever got me, although a little extravagant for our usual “only buy for the kids” Christmas. I absolutely love it and am asking for Amazon gift cards so I can download books on it for reading. I am a gadget girl and the convenience of having all of my books on this little reader is such a special treat. You can download newspapers, books, and blogs into it and keep your reading in one little spot.

As a Christmas gift to my husband, this Mighty Bright clip-on light would be great so he could sleep at night while I am reading. I drive him crazy reading in bed so this would be a great gift for both of us. This gift would be only $13, but would add a lot of sleep value for my husband.
A makeup brush set is top priority on my list this year. This set from Ulta is only $19.99. Why might I ask for this? Well, my daughter managed to find a lemonade packet from our kitchen and decided to mix up a batch of lemonade in the toilet. With no spoons within toddler-level, mommy’s make-up bag came in handy and she used my brushes as her official stirrers. Nothing like swiping a damp brush across your face to make you wonder how it got so wet? Evidence of pink residue and other fine handiwork led me to the conclusion that I should get a fresh set of brushes.

Another item on my list was the Apples to Apples game. Our family loves board games and this is one that I would really like to add to our family collection. I absolutely love this game and it is a great game to play when we have friends over.

I have a wine opener on our list because ours has kicked the can. I prefer the Rabbit style of wine opener. I am not into the wine opening sets because they require more space in my limited kitchen cupboard space. This Houdini Lever Style Wine Opener is a steal in the black color for a little over $20!

I would like to get a dry erase calendar with a set of colored markers to get our family organized for the new year. This jumbo calendar is what I have in mind for our kitchen so we can get everyone’s schedule in one spot. This calendar is only $14.99 through the Container Store.
One thing that I have not bought for myself in years and years is perfume. A little known fact about my husband is that he has no sense of smell. I seem to not make the extra effort with things like this because I know it is wasted, but I love a good perfume so I would love to have some even if it is for only my own benefit. One of my favorites is Clinique Happy perfume. Just a teeny bottle would be great for those special occasions.

I would love one of these mother’s necklaces with my kid’s names on it. I can already see this necklace around my neck. This one is sold by Moppets Closets and is $27. I love that it says blessed on it with the names surrounding it because that is exactly how I feel as a mom.

I love bamboo placemats and we have had these on our table for years. They are easy to clean and can be rolled up and stored when we want to throw a tablecloth on our table. After eight years though,they are showing their age and are falling apart. I love these bamboo placemats in black because they wouldn’t show any food stains. These are $14.90 for four.

I really would love an oilcloth tablecloth for my table and I think this color would be perfect in my kitchen:

Chalkydoodles makes custom ones with a gingham border that would be a wonderful and useful splurge in my kitchen. If I get holiday money this year, I am putting it towards this. For my table size it is a splurge at $44, but would be used for a long time. Oilcloth appeals to me with two messy kids so I would love to have one of these in my kitchen.

My French Press broke so I would love to get another one to replace it. I found my first one at a thrift store, but is rare you find one with all the working parts on it. This Bonjour Hugo accommodates three cups of coffee (or one Amy cup) and is unbreakable. You have to be careful with the glass ones and this one could stand my abuse a little more. Best of all, it is priced at $12.90.

I got the first Digital Photography book by Scott Kelby last year for Christmas and absolutely fell in love with this book. I would love to get this Digital Photography 2 book as a holiday gift. I would recommend these books to anyone who is trying to understand photography without a lot of mumbo jumbo language. These books are absolutely great for beginners.

Other things that will always make the list are-

  • Michael’s or Hobby Lobby gift cards to help feed my crafting addictions. I was also thinking I would like to take the next level to cake decorating so those could also go towards my supplies.
  • Candles, but they have to be food-related scents and I love holiday-ish scented stuff.
  • Starbuck’s gift cards to splurge on my favorite coffee drinks.
  • Babysitting- We love anyone who offers to help us with the kids so we can have a date night. Even the gift of time during the day so I can whip the house back into shape is always a hit!
  • A maid- If I can’t get the babysitter, I could really use a maid to help me with my house.

What is on your holiday wish list this year?

Blogging for the Right@Home Team

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

I am excited to let you all know that over the next couple of months, I will be guest blogging for the Right@Home website. The SC Johnson company contacted me to see if I would be interested in sharing for their Family section and I am very excited to be included. I, along with a few other great bloggers, will be sharing some creative tips for families and look forward to sharing these articles with you too!

Here are some of the other wonderful ladies you will find on the site- I do hope you will visit them and add them to your blog reading!

Kristen from Dine and Dish

Kristen’s posts are food-and-family focused, pairing a family story/experience with a recipe. She is a 34 year old mom of three children. She has one son who is 6 and two daughters ages 4 and 2. Besides her family, Kristen is passionate about cooking, entertaining, photography, reading and shopping.

Sarah from Organize Your Life

Sarah pens this blog as a stay-at-home-mom of 2-year-old Maddie. She has been married to her husband, Trevor, for six years. She is the co-creator of the Daily Home Planner, the only software program designed by a mom to help other moms get their families organized, and also manages .

Cathe from Just Something I Made

Cathe writes and works from home in Petaluma, California as a graphic designer, mother of three and wife. Cathe blog, “Just Something I Made” is about one of her biggest passions, crafting for the home. Cathe has also appeared on Design Mom as a guest blogger.