Friday, December 23, 2011

Fa-La-La Favorites!

Wow! I can't believe that it is almost Christmas! Where has December gone?

Remember the Photo Trash Cans that I posted about last time? They were a hit. A huge hit. My friends loved them. Now I'm excited to do more things like that (tabletop? memory box? shelf?).

I decided that for this Fa La-La Friday post, I would share some of my holiday favorites with you (including a recipe and a craft idea... keep reading!). This is what my family likes to do each and every year. What are some of your favorites?

Favorite Cookie
Peanut Butter Kisses- these couldn't be easier. Start out by making some peanut butter cookies. You can use the store bought roll of dough or make your own family recipe. Up to you. Then while they're in the oven, start unwrapping Hershey Kiss candies. You won't have time to unwrap later, so do it now! Once the cookies come out of the oven, imediately (as in, before they even come off of the baking sheet) pop a Kiss onto each cookie. Let cool as usual. Enjoy!

Favorite Movie
There are a lot of good holiday movies out there. But my all time favorite is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I love the Christmas Spirit that just oozes from every second of the movie. I love the fuzzy green guy. But most of all, I love the message. "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more".

Favorite Song
The Christmas Shoes, by Newsong. Mostly because it is just a beautiful (and tearjerking) song. But also because when I was younger (10-12ish), my three best friends and our mamas went to like 3 (maybe more) Newsong concerts. They played this song at every one. Even the one that was in the middle of July. Those concerts gave us girls some amazing memories. Here's a link if you haven't heard it. Warning: Have a tissue!!

Favorite Decoration
Our tree. It's a special tree. My grandma bought it and had it for several years before giving it to us. It was at our old house and we still have it at our current house. It's not like other trees. It's fuller than most trees you see these days. Like really, really, really, really full. It's the fattest, fullest tree I've ever seen. And I love it. It has plenty of room for all of our ornaments. They're all pretty special, themeselves. I love getting the boxes out each year and looking at the ornaments again and remembering all of the special memories that each one has. My mom's favorite is the handprint reindeer that I made in preschool. Wanna make one with your kids? It's simple! Just paint their hand brown and have them make a handprint on paper. Add googly eyes and a construction paper nose. The fingers are the antlers. Make sure to date it! We also have a ton of Hallmark ornaments. My grandma buys each of us a new one every year. Last year, she got me a kitty cat themed one since it was Bella's first Christmas. I love it! But not nearly as much as I love our special, special tree.

Well, friends, that's all for now. I hope that you have a great CHRISTmas weekend!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fa-La-La Friday (Err, Tuesday)

I am a few several days late on my Fa-La-La Fridays post. That is because when it was actually Friday, I was working on the oh-so-cute craft project that is mentioned in this post. I'm sorry for the delay.

My three best friends and I exchange gifts every year, and this year we decided to do homemade gifts. Yay! I love crafting. My most favorite type of crafting is quilting, but I really didn't have time to crank out three quilts in a matter of a week. So I came up with this fun idea: Photo Trash Cans! They couldn't be simpler to do. Each one took about an hour to make, and I actually had fun doing it.

First, get your supplies ready. You'll need a trash can without a design (I used clear), scissors, Mod Podge, sponge brushes, ribbon and LOTS of pictures. The cat is optional.

Start trimming your first picture to your liking. I found it to be better to trim the pictures one at a time, rather than all at once. That way, you'll be sure that they all fit well. You can get really creative with this part. For some of the pictures, I just cut squares or rectangles. For others, I cut sillouhettes around the subjects. Once your first picture is ready, spread Mod Podge generously on the back with the sponge brush.

Then, stick it wherever you like on your trash can. It's definitely easier to start at either the top or bottom, rather than the middle. Make sure you hold it down for a bit and squish out any air bubbles. The corners of the picture will try to pop up, with the trash can being so round and all, but if you hold it down for a bit, it will stay. Promise!

Add another picture, then some more!

Once your trash can is completely covered with pictures, go over the entire thing with a top coat of Mod Podge. Then, once that's started to dry (but is still a little bit wet), add a ribbon to the top. The still-drying Mod Podge will help it stick. I had trouble getting it to stay in place at first, but like with the pictures, it will stay down if you hold it for a minute or two. I folded the ribbon down over the lip of the trash can so that part of it is on the inside, but you certainly don't have to do it that way. You can put it all on the outside if you like. Your choice!

And that's it! Let your trash can dry completely, and then watch your friends' faces light up! My mom even suggested writing "Our memories can never be thrown away" on the card, which I find to be completely adorable. I encourage you to get really creative with this project, and think of some other things besides trash cans that you could do this on. I have also considered doing the top of a small white end-table I have in my apartment. I'll post pictures if I ever actually do it. Here's what the trash cans looked like when they were completely done:

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you have a special friend that you can make this fun keepsake for. Let me know what you think!

PS: For old time's sake, here is a picture of my best friends and I, one of many featured on the cans. Bonus points if you can figure out which one is me!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fa-La-La Fridays!

Hi, Friends!
I love Christmas. It is my absolute most favorite time of the year! So, I decided to do something fun on my blog to celebrate! It's a new series called Fa-La-La Fridays. Every Friday from now until the end of the year, I will share some of my favorite Christmas traditions, recipes, gift ideas, songs and more! I guess it will kind of be like the Super Summer Saturdays series that I had going all summer, but it will be cooler because it's Christmas!

Today I'll share one of my favorite traditions with you.

You may remember reading about my little cousins and the fun times we had together when my college hosted Sibs' Weekend last February. You may have realized that I really, really like doing fun things with these two cute little girls pre teens. Our most favorite thing to do together is our annual Christmas party.

We started this when they were quite small. It started as just an afternoon spent together making Christmas cookies and watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas (our favorite!!).

The next year, we made it a sleepover. More time for crafts, games and a few additional movies.

Then we started tacking several hours onto both the beginning and end of the sleepover, making it practially two full days. We made fun crafts, like fun holiday pillows. For the pillows, we used two pieces of fleece and put them on each side of a plain white 12x12 pillow. Then they used the cut and tie method that you often see people use to make blankets. They tied their fleece all around the pillow, and they turned out so so so cute!

We also always included a trip to Burger King. (If you read the Sib's Weekend post you'll know that we went there that weekend too. We really like Burger King!) After our lunch, we went to Dollar Tree (everything's a buck) so that the girls could pick out gifts for parents, friends and siblings. The things that they purchase always bring a smile to my face. The very first year we did this, Riley, just 3 at the time, picked out a Disney Barbie for her mama and a red bowl for grandma. As they've gotten older, they really, really think about the recipients interests and pick out the most thoughtful gifts that they know will be a hit.

It makes me sad to say that my freshman year of college (Christmas 09), the party did not happen. I was just so ridiculously overwhelmed with the new life chapter that I didn't have time to plan anything. I felt so awful.

Last year, I was still pretty busy, especially since Ihad taken a new job that took up a considerable abount of my free time. But I still wanted to do something for them. I knew it had to be easy to plan (for me) and more grown up than the past parties (for them).

I decided on a lunch at Applebees. My best friend was working in a nursing home at the time, and already knew that she would be working the morning shift on Christmas Day. I decided to use that as an opportunity to bring a smile to someone's face, plan a fun craft for the girls and teach them about giving as well. We decorated cards for the residents. I asked my friend how many we would need and counted out an index card for each person. Then I gave the girls crayons and Christmas stickers and let them go to town. They worked on these while we were waiting for our food. I told them how some of the residents don't get a lot of visitors, and my little empathetic sweethearts worked so hard to make them smile. I gave the cards to my friend and she delivered them on Christmas morning. She said they brought lots of smiles! :)

I'm not sure what our get together will entail this year, but I'm sure it will be fun!

Well, that's my favorite tradition! I'm a tradition girl, for sure. I can't wait to start some traditions with my own babies someday. I already know that I want do do Elf on the Shelf with them. I also want to give them new matching pajamas on Christmas Eve.

What are your family's favorite Christmas traditions? Stay tuned each Friday this month for more fun traditions, recipes, activities and more! Merry Christmas!