Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stuff Your Animals in the Freezer

Stuffed animals, that is. If your kids (or you) have stuffed animals in the home, they are officially collecting dust mites and germs. Wrap the stuffed animal in a pillowcase and wash it in your washing machine's hottest cycle OR place it in the freezer for 24 to 48 hours. (Some soft toys require freezing because they cannot be laundered.) I found this out the hard way when we recently washed a "not recommended for wash" Build-A-Bear dog, who lost most of his stuffing. Thankfully, Build-A-Bear is just around the corner!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coupon Codes

If you are purchasing something online and there is a box to type in a promotion code, don't continue on your merry way. Take a moment to search the web for the name of the retailer and "coupon code".

For example, if you're ordering something on type "snapfish coupon code" in google (or a different search engine). This will bring up multiple sites that have the coupon codes for snapfish listed.

I did most of my Christmas shopping online this year and really saved by using this method. The site I had the most luck with was Almost every gift we purchased had a reliable coupon code on this site.

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Coat Your Crockpot

I love my crockpot. We have become great friends. In my house "happy" hour is NOT a good time to prepare anything!

1 HungryMom
+ 3 HungryKids waiting
+ 1 HungryDad on his way home
+ 1 Dinner recipe that requires thinking

So, I slow-cook as much as possible. Coffee in the morning helps whip it all together then the house smells SO GOOD all day!

The only down-side I have found to the crockpot is cleanup. One tip I read somewhere was to spray the inside of the slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray. I wrote it in all my crockpot recipes so I don't forget!

It does help to ease the pain of cleanup a little. I allow the crockpot to soak while I clean the kitchen from dinner and then it wipes right up.

If you need some new crock-potting recipes, crockpot365 is a great place to start!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tissue Paper Your Wand

Want to un-clump your mascara wand? Use tissue paper to wipe it clean. It cleans well and doesn't leave lint on the brush like a facial tissue would.
I try to keep a small scrap of used tissue paper in my makeup drawer. Currently, I'm out. This post will serve as a reminder for me to go in the attic and get some down!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rapid Poster

If you're a blogger like me you put off posting pictures on your blog because you have to upload them 5 at a time and who has that kind of time? Well email is my new blogging friend.

If I am out and think of something I'd like to blog, I send an email via my phone to the blog and it posts a draft. I can attach a picture and it uploads the picture, too! I have the blog address saved in my address book and this makes quick work out of it.

If you use Blogger, follow these steps to get started:

Open your blog and click on the "Customize" link (top left-hand corner)
Click on the "Settings" tab
Click on the "Email and Mobile" link
In the "Email Posting Address" you can edit the email address so it is unique and nobody else could figure it out
Choose your setting. I like "Save emails as draft posts" but you can do whatever floats your boat.
Click on the "Save Settings" button and you're ready to post!

Please Note: If you have a large number of photos to post, email sometimes returns undeliverable because of the size of the email. Instead, download and install Picasa (free download). Once inside, select all the pictures you'd like to post and then click on the email icon at the bottom of the page. This seems to handle emailing pictures seamlessly.

Another Use for Newspaper

I just heard a great tip as I was leaving an extended family dinner. If you have food you would like to keep warm or cold and don't have one of those super-great bags, wrap it in newspaper. It works in a pinch! I had ice cream cupcakes to tote on our 30 minute drive home. They were still very cold when we pulled up in the driveway.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Scotchguard Your Scrapbook

Do you have a scrapbook you spent hours working on but now it has dirty fingerprints all over it?

I had this problem, too, until a lady at our local scrapbook store informed me that you can Scotchguard the outside of the fabric covered ones (like the Creative Memories one pictured left).

Changes everything!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange

A friend of mine was so kind and organized a Jesse Tree ornament exchange. Jesse Tree ornaments are used during Advent as a devotional tool. The whole idea of the exchange is that each woman makes 27 of ONE kind of ornament, saving each of us from having to make 27 of different ones.

If you want to do this, these are the steps we recommend:

- Start early. This gives plenty of time to get them all made. My friend started in the summer. Figure out how many dates are in the Advent calendar for your year. (2009 has 27 days of Advent so that is why we made 27 ornaments.)

- Email as many different groups of friends you have. You'll need quite a few women to make it happen, based on the number of days of Advent for that calendar year. We needed 27. For simplicity purposes, I will use the number 27 for the rest of this post, but substitute your number, of course.

- Assign each lady a suggested ornament that follows these Jesse Tree devotionals. They are organized by date, but make sure you assign ornaments not dates because different websites list different dates. This again is because this site will update based on the number of Advent days in your calendar year.

- Ask someone in the group to host the Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange party. The hostess should have a 3-ft tree ready to hang the ornaments on. Our hostess asked each woman to bring either an appetizer or dessert, assigned by ornament devotional dates.

- Give the date of the exchange party up front so the deadline is set. Explain that each lady should make 27 durable kid-friendly ornaments to bring to the party. Each should be about 2-inches by 2-inches. Felt patterns may be used but creativity should be encouraged. Remind each lady to familiarize herself with the devotional and be ready to explain why her ornament represents the devotional (especially if she deviates from the suggested one).

- Remind each lady to bring 27 of her assigned ornaments to the Jesse Tree Ornament Exchange. The ornaments should each be in a plastic shoebox-sized bin with hanger hooks attached. They should also bring a 1/2-inch 3-ring binder to store all of the devotionals. We didn't do this, but I think it would be a great idea to ask each woman to put each ornament in a plastic sandwich bag with the date and ornament written on the outside. This way she can file them in the box so they are easy to find. This also keeps the ornaments from becoming tangled. Each woman will take home a plastic bin with 27 different ornaments and a devotional binder.

- You will need to hole punch, sort and print the devotionals on nice paper to hand out at the party. Also inform each lady to bring money to cover the printing costs. My friend changed the font and put each one on it's own page.

- At the party, each lady will stand to explain her ornament and then hang one on the tree for the hostess to keep. It was really fun to see all of them on the tree. And OH MY, the creativity!

- After the party, email an "index" of ornaments and the women that made them and email the file with the devotionals so each family can make changes to the devotional pages as they see fit.

One other idea that was circulated after our exchange was to allow your kids to illustrate the devotional story each night and then you can bind it at Kinko's and save one from each Christmas.

We had a blast at our party. (Thank you, Miranda and Emily). It was so much fun to see what everyone had come up with. My family is also really enjoying the devotionals. I highly recommend doing this if you're interested.

Here are some photos of our ornaments:
These pictures are of the ornaments scattered around the room for each lady to fill her box with.
These are the "stump" ornaments, complete with our family names printed (WOW!):
The "earth" ornaments were laminated and made with food coloring dropped on coffee filters glued to black cardstock paper.
The "fruit" or Adam and Eve ornament were store-bought apple ornaments. Very creative!
The "Noah's Ark & Rainbow" ornaments were made from dough and craft wire was attached with beads to create the rainbow. Love it!
The camel ornaments are wooden. They were ordered online, painted and given eyes.
Oh, the "baby" ornaments. These booties were handmade by our sweet Jenn. Wow!
The "ram" ornament. So cute!
The "Jacob's Ladder" ornament. I made these out of skinny craft sticks held together by wood glue and then spray painted a champagne color. (Because that's what I had on hand). It was simple but measuring and cutting the pieces took some time.
This is the "Joseph's Coat" ornament. There are no words. I love this one! And don't ask me how to make them. Logan is so creative!
The "Ten Commandments" made from popsicle sticks. You'd never know! I love these so much!
The Rahab "Red Rope" ornament. Simple but very creative.
Again, another one I love. The "Wheat" ornament. No idea how she made these but they are perfect.
I loved this variation from the suggestion. She filled a miniature glass ornament with real oil and hot glued the top. I have to keep mine upright in the box so it doesn't leak, but SO PRETTY! The "Annointing Oil" ornament
The "Crown" ornament. My kids are going to love this one!
The "Rose" ornament to represent the Rose of Sharon and God's promises to us. I love that. What girl doesn't love a rose? She was actually the only one who thought to bring each of hers in a plastic bag. Thanks!
Oh, and do not forget the ever-so-creative "Altar" ornament. Don't you just love the pipe cleaner fire? I do!
And the "Whale" who swallowed Jonah. It's so sweet and completely indestructible! My kids will love playing like it's eating someone!
Ok. This one is so great! The "Lion and the Lamb" ornament. One side is a lamb. Other side lion. To represent the peace God will establish again one day. Great stuff!
And the "City of Bethlehem" ornament turned out so pretty. I cannot believe she cut out all those brown cities!
Daniel's "Lion" den ornament. So great!
My kids will love this "Clock" ornament to represent waiting. I would have never thought of this!
One of the most creative variations. Since Zechariah's voice was taken away he wasn't able to worship with his voice. So this is a "Jingle for Jesus" ornament. Isn't that so much better than a picture of a Zechariah man and Elizabeth woman?
And a "Water Droplet" to represent Baptism. So pretty! I wonder where she found these?
And the ever-so-sparkly-and-bright hearts. I love these. Make me think of Valentine's Day!
Okay, this was such a good idea. A paper "Hammer" ornament with a tin foil top. :)
And another great store-bought idea. Flipflops, a.k.a. "Sandals". They walked a long way in sandals. Great!
And lastly, but certainly not least. The "Star" of Bethlehem to represent the day of Christ's birth. These were perfect. Pretty, sparkly and bright to top it all of. Oh, and store-bought, too! My kids keep asking where the star is for the top. I love that it will be the last ornament we hang!
I'd like to give a SPECIAL thanks to Kathy for providing all the pictures!

UPDATE: The Domestic Notebook blog has a slew of great Jesse Tree ideas, as well!