Monday, October 10, 2011

How I Do Christmas

My new friend Emily asked me to do a post on how I do Christmas. Most people think I'm crazy and eccentric because all of my Christmas presents have been bought and wrapped for months. WHY??? Why not? I ENJOY the holidays. They aren't stressful. I spend so little on Christmas presents because I know when to shop and I shop all year long for what I think are the best presents. I am able to relax and enjoy all of the holiday festivities with my family. I even have all the craft projects to do with my kids organized in baggies and ready to be made. Sugar cookies are in the freezer all ready to be frosted. So....seeing as it is October, there isn't as much time to get ready but you can still use some of my tips to alleviate some of the stress this year and next year you can make it really easy on yourself.

1. Make a list of EVERYONE you need to shop for (don't forget co-workers, neighbors, old friends, that random relative, etc.)
2. Set a budget of how much you're willing to spend.
3. Divide money between each person/family. You may have to do some adjusting for a while to get it right. We try to focus on one family or person each year to spoil and get them something extra nice. We've also learned that something simple is all that is needed for other people--they'd rather you not go into debt for some present they won't even like. They just want to know you remembered them.
4. Start to list ideas of gifts to give each person (this is the hardest part I think).
5. Now start shopping!
6. Keep a list of how you're doing.
7. Once all presents are purchased--wrap. I love doing this early because I always forget a bunch of what I get my family members and it makes Christmas morning even more fun!
8. Purchase extra non-personal gifts like nice boxes of chocolates or nuts or gift cards for the people you forget (the first few years you do this you'll forget someone!)
9. ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS!

Tips about shopping:
Right after Christmas (when most people don't have any money) are the BEST deals. I can't emphasize this enough. If you budget and plan, you can find the money to shop at this time. EVERYTHING seems to be on sale at rock bottom prices somewhere. I think most things are even better than black friday prices. Shop online or in store. Ask store clerks where clearance sections are. You may be surprised you never saw them before.
Other months I have found seem to have great deals are March (toys the month before Easter are cheaper and if you coupon, you can often find some great coupons) and September (lots of items go on clearance as stores prepare their shelves for Christmas).
 Shop used. Depending on the person and what you'd like to get for them, sometimes you can find AMAZING things used (or even brand new) on places like craigslist, local thrift stores and Yard Sales.  My husband found me a Kitchenaid mixer used only 2-3 times for at least half the price. It is amazing. For Christmas this year I went in with my in-laws on a loving family playhouse with 5-6 room sets and the car and people for probably 1/5 of what it is new and everything looks amazing! My kids will never know.

That's all I can think of right now. I hope this helps someone. The key is to plan ahead and avoid paying the high prices of so called "deals" at Christmastime and guilt purchases. The more you avoid the stores at Christmastime, the less you'll spend. TRUST ME! :) Let me know if you have any questions. My pregnant mind doesn't always make so much sense--even to me! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marriage Helps

I'm no expert but I love sharing ideas that work for me in case it might benefit others. Here are a few things you can do to help enhance your marriage.
SUPER EASY IDEA #1:
Go grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Don't wait. Do it RIGHT NOW. Now write something that your spouse does that you love--could be something simple like: "I love your smile." or "I love it when you do the dishes for me." or it could be something romantic. Now go hide it somewhere only your spouse will find it. (I put notes in my husbands pant pockets before he wears them). Get in the habit of doing this once a week for a nice little treat for your spouse to know you care!
COMBINED EFFORT IDEA:
This is best if you get your spouse in on the activity. You'll be making a list. Title it something like this: "A guide to loving _____ (your name here)" or "The Things ______(your name here) Loves" or "I feel loved when:"
Then list everything you can think of that your spouse currently does and especially what you wish they would do. If you've never done this before, chances are your spouse will have no clue about some of the things on your list and you'll probably be shocked about their list. Be specific.
When I did this, I included a list of treats that would brighten my day (like hard Runts and Ben and Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream- YUM!) and also things that I consider Romantic. I was shocked my husband really wanted me to serenade him. I never knew!
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET IDEA:
So for most of our marriage, I had it in my head that whenever my husband did something I didn't like--i.e. leaving his socks on the floor, that it was personal. It was as if his leaving his socks on the floor was an expression of "I don't care about you enough to pick these up." I would get irritated over all the little things. Somewhere along the way, I decided to change my attitude. I somehow got through all the nasty little lies in my head and told myself the truth: "My husband does love me and he loves me a lot and he isn't perfect because look at how imperfect I am!" Once I realized this and got it into my head I started noticing all of the amazing things he DOES do! He does the dishes every night. He gets up with the kids more often during the night than I do. He gives me a break from the kids whenever I ask for it and he often encourages this. He DOES throw his clothes down the laundry shoot and only occassionally forgets a sock or two. He does try to bring home suprises to show his love for me. The list goes on and on.
I can't tell you how big of a difference this has made in our marriage and for me personally! Rarely does he do anything now that truly bothers me and if it does, I tell him and he usually tries to change immediately. OK, so maybe I have an amazing husband but I think most spouses would try harder and do better if we got off their case and let them be human. Accept your spouse for who they are. Love them despite their faults--you have plenty of them too! :) Forget about the little things that bother you. It may take time. Catch yourself the next time something bothers you and tell yourself to get over it. Once you've gotten over one issue, move on to the next. Make an effort to notice the good things they DO do and praise them for it. A LOT!
I hope these ideas help someone!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Best Cake - Possibly EVER

We can never finish a cake. There are 4 of us but the kids just can't eat very much. I made this cake on Sunday and over the next few days we ate all but 1 piece--which would have gotten eaten by my hubby but I was tired of it sitting on top of my microwave! Crazy that a cake without chocolate could be this good. My Mother-In-Law makes it better but for my first try, it was amazingly delicious!


Lazy Daisy Cake
From the kitchen of Marilyn Allen
Mix:
4 eggs                                     
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Sift in:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Heat until almost boiling:
1 cup milk
1 TB butter or margarine
Mix and bake in 9x13 pan at 350 for 30 minutes (mine took about 45 minutes to be done in the center).
Top with:
6 TB butter
4 TB cream
1 cup brown sugar
coconut and optional nuts
Brown carefully under broiler.  You may need to turn it around as it broils. (This only took about 2 minutes in my oven).

Enjoy!!!!
                                              

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bow Ties On Sale

Have you seen my Bow Tie Shop - Modish Podish? I'm getting closer and closer to having this baby - (ok, so I still have a few months left) but I want to get all of my bow ties sold. So... I'm having a buy 2 sets get 3rd set half off. Check it out here. http://www.modishpodish.etsy.com

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Interesting tidbits I learned today

I love learning things to help me to improve my marriage and be a better mom. Today I learned  a few tips I thought I'd share:

1. Write down your last disagreement with your spouse (what and when) and have your spouse do the same. Share your answer with your spouse. You may be suprised your spouse doesn't have the same answer. Discuss how you resolved the conflict. Hopefully this excercise will get you to both open up and communicate more about your differences and preferences. Disagreeing is a natural and can be a healthy part of marriage. You just have to learn to disagree in a fair manner--yeah...I'm still working on this. :)
2. REWIND. When something frustrating happens (especially with your kids) and you say or do something you regret, get into the habit of saying "rewind" or something like it and pause, back up and rephrase or redo what you had previously done in a positive way. An apology would also be a great insert here.
3. The Entitled Generation: Help cure feelings of entitlement with your kids by making them learn to work hard. No, you won't be a mean parent. They may act like you are but you will be doing them a huge favor! Starting in the home with small, simple tasks that a child can accomplish will provide a child with a positive self-image, determination, self-reliance and countless other essential qualities. I had a roommate in college who honestly didn't know how to boil water. Bits and pieces of our food kept dissappearing. After weeks of feeling very hungry did we finally figure out it was her and what her problem was. Her mother had wanted to shield her from all hardships while growing up and did everything for her. Boy did she have a steep learning curve. If you truly want to do something good for your child, help them learn to share responsibility in the home according to their capabilities. Let them learn to serve you. How can you love someone you have never served???

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More New Items

 Click here to buy Patriotic Mini Kit
Click here to buy Monday Paper Pack

New Blog Coupon Code

To celebrate this new blog, please enjoy this 30% off coupon code:

newblog30

Valid through 8/31/2011

New Mini Kit

Purchase this kit here! :)

The BEST Smoothie

We love making smoothies in our house. We made the BEST one the other night. Here is the approximate recipe:

1 Can frozen Dole 100% Juice Mix - I think we used the orange, peach mango one
1 Personal Size Strawberry Yogurt (I used Western Family)
Some Milk 1/2 c. to 1 c.
1 Tray Ice Cubes
Handful Frozen Strawberries (thawed slightly)
Handful Frozen Blueberries (thawed slightly)
2 Jars Fruit Baby Food (weird I know but it sealed the deal!)

Blend until smooth in blender. The baby food really did make a difference. I needed the jars for a craft project with the kids and thought they might taste good. Boy was I right! ENJOY!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Cucumber Paper Pack

Click here to purchase the newest Paper Pack

Buy 3 Get 3 FREE Sale

Welcome! Prettiful Designs is Buy 3 Get 3 FREE now until August 19th! Valid on ALL items in my Etsy shop - Prettiful Designs. Do not put free items in cart. Mention in notes to seller which items you want for free. Free items must be of equal or lesser value.