As promised, here are a few of my homemade Christmas items.  I found a lot of them on pinterest (if you haven’t discovered this website yet and would like to be sucked into hours of fun go ahead and give it a try or email me so I can send you an invitation to join).

The first things I tried were some kid friendly crafts.  Eldest loved helping me make these and did a great job as my helper.

Who knew play-doh was so easy to make!!!  I will not be buying any packaged play-doh ever again…this was just too easy and I added scents to the dough, so it smells great (vanilla, berry, peppermint, lemon, and lavender).

I also made bath crayons, but gave them all away before taking a photo.  We’ll be making those again sometime soon so the girlies can have some bath fun of their own.  These, too, were easy to make.  Simple and smelly and fun!

The hardest thing that I made took patience even though it was a pretty simple thing.  I loved how it looked and if I were to do it again I’d add more yarn/balls, but it was too costly to do that this year.  I like that this can stay up all winter long, too!  Here’s my winter wreath.

I also made a few gifts for some friends and family members.  Lavender bath salts (epsom salts, baking soda, coloring, scent) and warm vanilla bath scrub (sugar in the raw or brown sugar, coconut oil, vanilla scent, and sea salt).  Here’s a photo of my bath salts (they’re great, I finally tried them out last night!)

Girlie was very excited as just before Christmas she was finally selected as the Gem at preschool.  During her week as the gem she shared a bit about her favorite things and family, brought snacks for her friends, and got to be the helper for many class activities.  For her snack days we brought a butterfly snack and a snowman snack.  I don’t have a picture of the butterflies, but they turned out cute, too.

At Christmastime we go a bit crazy on the cookies.  We’ve got our old standbys, but this year added a fun one that the girls helped with (and by helping I mean they mostly ate the ingredients!)  Here’s a shot of my main helper mixing up some cookies.  I’m, also including one of the new yummy treats we made.


We had a great Christmas and it’s hard to believe it’s 2012.  I don’t usually make too many resolutions that I tend to keep, but I’m really hoping that for Christmas 2012 I’ll be even more prepared and will be able to keep my new resolution.  My goal/resolution would be to have everything done on my list for Christmas by the start of Advent.  I’d love to enjoy December instead of run around like a crazy lady getting everything ready.  So…next year my goal is to have everything except baking and our Christmas letters ready by advent.  We’ll see if I can make it happen next year!!

I leave you with our family enjoying advent with our devotional written by Erik’s parents (pic taken by eldest!!) and our official family picture.  Lastly, a picture of my cuties :)

 

Here are a few pictures of some completed projects around here.   I have quite a few Christmas crafts/presents I’ll need to post about later (after Christmas!!)

new 233

The picture collage above our couch was fun to plan and I was so excited to finally get it up on the wall!


Girlie now has stripes in addition to her butterflies :)

Meelie needed a bit of color, too.

And to end a project that wasn’t really a project, just being creative with what I had on hand…Erik’s 30th bday cake, ha.

I’m off to liberate eldest from her room time and start making some Christmas tree spritz cookies.  Wish me luck!

Tomorrow night, if any of you read this in time, I’d appreciate a few prayers!  I’ll be hosting my first Usborne book party.  I not only get to host some lovely ladies, but I’ll also be giving a little chat to explain why I think these books are great and hopefully motivate some of my guest to either buy some books, host a show or even start selling along with me!  Because I’m a newbie to this I’m excited to offer anyone who hosts a show double free books (this should add up to $250 of books for under $40…quite a steal!)

I’m excited to get out of the house a bit and meet more people through Usborne.  I’m also happy that I didn’t need to invest much money to start this up.  I’ve got a great supervisor who lives in Green Bay and is one of Usborne’s top sellers.  She has great insight and is lending me some of her books to use for my show(s).

It will be nice to have folks over tomorrow and can’t wait for the munchies!  I’m making some yummy treats thanks to a fun new website I’ve found (pinterest.com)….

*Brie wrapped in a pastry with strawberry jam (crackers and apple slices to enjoy with the cheese).
*I’m also cooking up an easy (new to me) recipe for spinach and artichoke dip
*Lastly I’m  adding a bit of healthy foods to the mix…good old veggies and dip :)
*I’ve also got a nice bottle of wine, some sparkling moscato, hot chocolate, teas, coffee, and apple cider on the list.

Fun, fun!  If any of you are ever interested in checking out my new site you can find it at
www.myubam.com/P3934

I should also add that if you’re ever interested in having a show I’d gladly travel back to Chicagoland area, Madison, or Minnesota to host a show for a dear friend!  Thanks for your prayers, I’ll keep you updated!!

I’ve been thinking of hospitality lately. Erik and I LOVE to host people and really enjoy being around others.  It’s part of who we are.  I got this (see picture below) to hang in our home at a St. Norbert event and it really sums us up well.  It hangs in our living room and when people enter the house they should be able to see it right in front of them.


We’ve gone to a few events and homes since our move here to De Pere.  There was the formal President’s Dinner that was a bit nerve wracking, but had amazing and yummy food.  There have been a few really fun neighbor events (our kids do so good playing together) and then there’s been the, well, how do I put it…odd events.

We’ve been blessed to meet some very friendly people here and usually take any invitation to be welcomed into another family’s home.  After a strange, not quite how we would have liked it go kind of event, Erik and I sat on the couch talking over our night.

We’ve come to the conclusion that Americans are starting to forget hospitality.  We aren’t always welcoming and we like to stay in our homes and forget people exist just a few feet away (ahem, they’re your neighbors).   Christians are also failing at this.  We’ve walked into churches and left without having a single conversation with another person.  People are opting to play it safe and not extend invitations for fellowship.

Erik said I should blog about this.  Smart guy, he must know much it helps me to write when something’s pressing on my mind.

Maybe this post will help someone to be more welcoming to others.  It will maybe even show you how opening your home to others can bless you just as much as it blesses the other person/family.

So, without further ado here are a few guidelines for hosting folks and making them feel welcomed.  (NOTE:  We have met some really awesome people/families here too and have really welcoming fun friends in other places that make us feel loved–this list is not about a specific person, it’s just for everyone out there to help them practice a bit more hospitality!)

*When you invite people to your home welcome them and then introduce them to everyone else you’ve invited over.  It can be awkward sometimes to not know a single person in the room and it’s intimidating to feel like you are invisible or unwelcome.  Obviously if there’s a big group of people here it’s also hard to meet everyone.  Just be sure to get the person connected with someone in a conversation before you wander off.  If later on you see them standing in the corner looking bored out of their minds don’t just leave them there…rescue them!

*If you have invited someone who you don’t know (say, a friend invites one of their friends).  Please please please, if your friend doesn’t introduce you to the people they’ve brought with them please introduce yourself, welcome them and then introduce them to the other people at your party.  If not it can get a bit awkward when your kid starts throwing food everywhere and you get lost looking for the bathroom and have to ask around to figure out who’s house you’re in so you can #1 pee and #2 apologize for your child’s behavior.

*Offer your guests something to drink.  Don’t assume they’ll ask.  If they have to ask that’s kind of embarrassing.  Same goes for food/snacks.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not hungry or on a diet.  Feed people…especially the little ones!

*Help people with kids feel relaxed.  Don’t look at them like they’re horrible parents if their kid throws food or acts rudely.  Let’s be honest here…everyone with children has had many of those moments where your children do something rude or accidentally spill something.  If you don’t want Grandma’s antique white table cloth to be stained with red kool-aid, show the parents where little Jr. should sit to eat, or better yet be prepared to host a child and again, help the parents feel relaxed!!

*Having a conversation with your two best buddies at one end of the kitchen while the new guy stands a few feet away silently eating some food is not cool.  I know that you may be a man and it’s awkward sometimes to get to know new people.   Take it from my hubby…not fun and extremely awkward.  Suck it up guys and say hello, start a conversation about something, anything!!  Erik would only request you stay away from the topic of the Vikings…oh what a crappy year…sigh.

*I didn’t realize I’d have to say this, but it appears I do.  Please clean your house before you have people over.   I’m not talking scrub the floors, wipe every surface kind of cleaning.  What I  mean is vacuum up the visible piles of dirt, make sure your laundry pile of underwear isn’t sitting out for the world to see and there’s no rotting food around.  You know, the basics on housecleaning.  I appreciate a house that’s lived in and can turn a blind eye to a pile of toys in the corner, and some dishes in the sink, but when it’s disgustingly dirty and you’re afraid to let your small child wander for fear she’ll eat something from the dirty floor.  Uff.

I apologize if some of my readers disagree.  Prepare to be more angry…ha.  Do people have the right to never invite over a neighbor or friend to their house.  Of course.  Is it healthy?   Nope.   I understand that not everyone is social or enjoys being around others.  We all have different personalities.  I’m not saying you need to have a dinner party with fancy china and pressed napkins.  I’m saying you need people and especially to my Christian friends out there reading–PEOPLE NEED YOU!

Hospitality is about welcoming others.  You can do that in a small tiny apartment or a mansion.  It won’t matter how big your place is, what will matter is if you’ve made your guests feel important and cared for.  I’ve been in cramped tiny apartments and had a GREAT time.  It really is all about you making someone feel welcomed.

I could go on and on, but this seems like an appropriate place to close.  For those friends reading who have loved us and welcomed us–thank you a million times.  For those who are afraid to open up their homes to others, shoot me an email…let’s chat about how you can help open yourself up to fellowship with your neighbors.

Happy hosting all!

This past weekend hubby and I escaped for a little one night adventure (thanks to my parents who came to watch the kiddos!).  It was so needed and we really had a good time being just “us” minus our girls.  I couldn’t get over how quiet it was and the two of us were able to have some fun playing games, we had good conversation,  got a nice hike in which included the end of Door County’s fall colors, swam at the hotel pool, soaked in the hot tub, and ate some great meals.

It was a great 24 hours and we realized how much we needed to get away.  It would be great if we could do this more often.  I think we need those little remembrances of what life was like before everything seemed to be controlled by a four year old and one year old and just life stuff in general.

Here’s a few shots of our time in beautiful Door County!  (We’re so lucky to live about an hour from here!!)

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