Christmas Coasters!

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We have turned our dining room table into a coaster making workspace! This inexpensive and festive craft will be given to everyone in the family, so if you are family avert your eyes!

Supplies:
4 square tiles from your local hardware store (4.25″ x 4.25″)
4 pieces of scrapbook paper (3.75″ x 3.75″)
4 pieces of felt (3.75″ x 3.75″)
Mod Podge (we made our own with equal parts water and Elmers glue)
Sponge brush
Glue (i.e. Fabri-tac or other strong adhesive)
Clear acrylic sealer

  • Brush one coat of Mod Podge onto tile.
  • Place one piece of paper on center of tile.  Allow to dry.

  • Brush on another coat of mod podge on top of paper.  Allow to dry 15 minutes and repeat 2-3 more times.
  • After mod podge is dry, take tiles outside and spray with clear acrylic sealer.  Follow manufacturers instructions.  The sealer makes these tile coasters water-resistant.

  • Allow coasters to dry completely.  Once dry, glue felt squares to the bottom center of the tile.

  • Wrap four of these coasters up with some beautiful ribbon and you’ve got a gorgeous handmade gift.

 

*How to be an Organized Hostess*

I love to entertain.  In my 20+ years of adulthood I’ve had the pleasure of hosting countless events. Whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner, a casual dinner party or a themed event I love welcoming people into my home.

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How many times have you run around trying to remember every last detail?

Or spent the majority of time in the kitchen prepping and cleaning as opposed to spending time with your guests?

For anyone who has ever hosted an event, you know there are several moving parts that enable everything to come together smoothly.

To help ease the stress, I’ve created a 10 Step Entertaining Checklist that will help guide you from planning, to prep and finally execution of your next event.

Download my Entertaining Checklist  on the Resources tab on my website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

laurieLaurie Palau, founder of simply B organized started her company out of a passion for organization and simplicity. Having “stuff” is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean that you need to live in chaos. At simply B organized Laurie and her team teach methods for organizing your home without becoming consumed by clutter in a way for you to maintain moving forward.

Laurie publishes articles for local, regional and national magazines in addition to her own blog “A Life More Organized”. Laurie also teaches workshops and seminars on getting and staying organized.

(I Just Want to be Me)

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Not all girls need to grow up and be princesses. If you are anything like me, you repeat this over and over. I’ve always appreciated a good book to back up whatever message I am trying to send to my 6 year old. In this particular case, I feel lucky to have found  a local author who fits that bill. Sharon McGowell Cowan has recently published an adorable book that illustrates the life of a young girl who is more comfortable in a baseball hat than a tiara. This endearing little girl proves that being yourself is the key to happiness! This book would make a perfect  Christmas gift for a little girl in your life. Click here to purchase online.

It Doesn’t Have to be an Elf

I was going to title this piece “Elf Schmelf” and was advised against ticking off half the Nation (or half the 22 readers who are reading this).

In my opinion, the secular side of Christmas is about two things— Giving, and Magic. The Giving, I don’t think anyone would argue.

The Magic is left to our own interpretation and implementation.

Our family was pretty good with Santa being the “Central Magic” of Christmas, and then this silly little Elf product stormed shelves. Now, every kid who comes to our house wants to know “Where’s your Elf and what’s his name?” As you likely know, there’s a whole family of Elves now, with folks taking to creating elaborate situations for their Elves to pose in day to day throughout December.

We don’t have an Elf. We have Chuckie.

meet chuckie

Chuckie was mine since I was a little girl. He lived between my sister’s and my rooms in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Each night in December, I remember him moving closer to my door or my sister’s door, depending on who needed a closer eye on her behavior the next day. (He spent a lot of time outside my door, as I recall.) And sometimes, he sat right in the middle between our rooms, just smiling with his little plastic grin.

My parents loved spreading Christmas Magic. Most parents do, and thus, the Elf was recently born into the commercial world to help Santa drum up a little more excitement as the Big Day approaches.

I get the Elf. I don’t dislike him. But my point is, you don’t have to spend the $24.95 to buy their Elf and their book…

Any home-made Magic will do.

*New Friends*

PicMonkey Collage

*Shopping Tips*

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Get the Most Out of Your Budget.

The holidays are near and not too many are excited about those long lines at the shops and malls. But of course over the years, we have acquired the best strategies to shop wisely and effectively. Making smart decisions especially when spending during the holiday season can be a challenge and here are some tips and tricks that will help anyone complete their shopping list in no time.

According to a holiday survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend about $700 on gifts and there are even 13.6 million Americans who are still paying off their debt from their last Christmas shopping.

Aside from making a thoughtful shopping list, shopping online is a great alternative for shopping in those labyrinthine malls. There are a ton of promotions such as end of season sales especially during fall which are accessible online, even on your smart phone. This goes hand in hand with big retail stores and brands on Twitter and Facebook where they regularly announce these promos and discounts via codes online. It’s best to watch out for these codes especially for coveted, winter must have items. Items featured in popular magazines (online or otherwise), are the first to go out of stock. When Cosmopolitan featured the oversized pink coat from M&S last September 3, by the time most people got to the store it was already too late as the stocks were not able to meet the huge demand.

Also, Voucher Codes UK offers great discounts from retail giants. It will only take a couple of minutes to look for the discount code on any site where one can literally save up on hundreds of dollars with this simple step. Another site where you can get great deals similar to these is, Retail Me Not.

Some nifty tips from CBS News’ Moneywatch; Robert Pagliarini makes terrific sense when it comes to gift giving and saving in the process. One common situation would be shopping for yourself when you’re out shopping for gifts. It might be tempting to get a buy one take one body lotion set, but do you really need that extra lotion?

*Less than Graceful*

Today at Target, my credit card showed up declined 3 times. The 4th time was a charm apparently,  but the woman behind me with 3 well behaved teenagers looked less than amused.

I’m guessing that any woman with 3 kids who’ve lived to be teenagers has had the kind of days that I had early in the day.

I silently thank her for reminding me that I never want to be like her. Patience truly is a virtue.

When we get home we turn James Brown up really loud and dance and giggle until we can’t anymore. We regularly do this.

I am undoubtedly less than graceful but my life is filled with other more important things.

James Brown and happy kids.

 

 

*Welcome Little One*

“This new song was written for YoYo and her baby, who’s due in January! We hope that you like it. It was a lot of fun to put into words and music the wonderful feeling that you have when there’s a new child in your life. Welcome, Little One! We’re gonna have so much fun!”

One of our very favorite kids bands ( Lolly & Yoyo) have put out a brand new song for  a very short while. . If you haven’t heard this lovely band play before, please stop and listen. These pretty voices will brighten up your day (pinkie promise).

 

Recruiting the Tooth Fairy

tooth fairy mia

I did something I swore I would never do in my parenting.  I called upon the help of a trustworthy, giving, magical little being to help us with Mia’s behavior.

 

Mia had a rough day.  Mia also lost a tooth.  (These facts are unrelated.)

 

It was nearing bedtime and she turned her charm button on for the first time all day.  “Mommy, do you think the tooth fairy will still come even though I had a bad day?”  

 

What a loaded, million dollar question.

 

Not sure the correct reply in the parenting world, perhaps, “Of course honey, the tooth fairy loves you unconditionally!”  

 

But, at that moment, at the end of my rope for the day, my reply was, “I’m pretty sure she knows about the day you had, and I’m pretty sure she’ll wait until you have a better day to make her visit.”  

 

Low and behold, my prediction came true, and the next morning, I had a teary-eyed but much better behaved child beginning a new day.

 

I’ve heard it done with other magical beings as well, “Santa saw that!”  or “If you’re not nice to your sister, the Easter Bunny might not be able to find our house!”

 

And who knows, when Christmas and Easter roll around, I may, in desperation, call upon my other magical buddies as well.  But, for the moment, I am sticking with my partner, the tooth fairy, as my fellow team member in this behavior management business.  

 

Maybe I’ll pay her in teeth?

*Bunting Flag Tutorial*

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Here’s what I used:

-     Liquid Stitch adhesive

-     3 yards of double fold Bias tape.

-      Pinking Shears (to cut my flags to reduce fraying)

-     Assorted Fabric

-     Cardboard

bf materials

Here’s what I did:

-          Cut out a cardboard template using this free printable: http://www.chickabug.com/blog/2010/11/free-fabric-bunting-pattern.html (I used the 6” measurement)

-          Fold the  fabric in half (so you can make two at once), pin it together and trace the template onto the fabric, then cut out the two pieces of fabric for each flag (I cut out two of each piece so I could glue the fabric pieces together for a  solid flag)

-          Using the adhesive (Liquid Stitch), I glue two pieces of similar fabric together (right-side facing out) to make each flag

-          I made 15 flags, but ended up only using 13 for the spacing I wanted when I glued them into the bias tape

-          Lay out the bias tape and insert each flag, spacing them as you wish

-          Glue each flag in place in between the bias tape fold and let dry for 24 hours before hanging

bf finished productnpic monkey

*My Closet Swap*

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Women and Juniors Clothing and Home Decor Consignment Event!

November 22,2013 9am-8pm

Half Price Sale November 23, 2013 9am-3pm

St. Cyril’s Catholic Church

1410 Almshouse Rd. , Jamison PA, 18925

 

 

Gracie’s Night {Giveaway}

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Local author, Lynn Taylor Gordon has written a gem with Gracie’s Night. This lovable childrens book has a strong message that is easily absorbed by young minds. Young Gracie lives in a New York City with her single father and the spirit of Hannukah moves her to do the unthinkable. With so little herself, Gracie feels compelled to help those with practically nothing. This beautiful and important message is one that brought my 6 year old to tears. No matter how little you have, it is always better to give. Beautiful. Speaking of giving, we’d love to give one of you the chance to win this gorgeous childrens book. head on over to our Facebook Page and leave a comment under the appropriate thread. We will pick a winner at the end of the week! Good Luck!

Lynn Taylor Gordon will be at events all November long to host Gracie’s Night Signing Events.

Find one here:
11/13 Mixellaneous – Marlton, 1:30 PM
11/16 Adath Emanu-El Mt. Laurel, 5-7 PM
11/17 M’kor Shalom Book Fair – Cherry Hill, 9 AM-1 PM
11/22 Doylestown Book Shop – 6 PM
11/24 MACY*S – HERALD SQUARE, NYC! 11:30 AM
11/24 Book Court – Brooklyn, NY, 2 PM
12/1 Luda Judaica – Jenkintown, PA, 1 PM

{Take a Moment}

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*Orange and Clove Pomander*

Here is our take on a traditional Fall Craft. Normally, people get a little “heavy with the ribbon” on this one.  In order to keep my 5 year old interested and participating, we picked a fun color ribbon and went “light on the ribbon.”

You will need:

Oranges

Cloves

Ribbon

Hot Glue Gun

  • If you are using ribbon, attach it with the hot glue gun in any pattern you desire. Let the glue dry before you start adding the clove to the orange.
  • Make a pattern for your little one so that they are able to get the clove into the orange, make small holes with sharp scissors.
  • Insert cloves into holes.
  • Voila! These smell amazing, put them EVERYWHERE!!

*Pollo alla Romana*

Pollo alla Romana (Roman style chicken)

*Roman Chicken*

We made this high protein, low calorie dish last night and the whole family loved it!

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts, halved (thighs and wings can also be used)

¼ pound of prosciutto

1 TBS of fresh Thyme

1 TBS of fresh Oregano (chopped)

1 TBS of fresh Parsley, chopped

¼ TSP of salt

¼ TSP of pepper

3  diced tomatoes

2 garlic cloves chopped

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, sliced

½ cup dry white wine

1 TBS of balsamic capers

½ cup of chicken stock

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper then brown.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Slice the peppers and chop the prosciutto and sauté them in the pan using the same oil for about 5 minutes.  Peppers should start to soften and brown and the prosciutto should start to crisp.  Add the chopped garlic and allow it to cook for about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, wine and herbs and stir.  Reintroduce the chicken and pour in the chicken stock.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for roughly 30 minutes (chicken should be thoroughly cooked and tender).

When ready, add the chopped parsley and capers and serve.  Both of these are optional, but they give a slight tang to the dish.  We paired this with some whole wheat pasta and it was fantastic.

{Something Fun}

aromatherapy

Sara Naomi’s AromaKids Chemistry Class

Your child will become an essential oil scientist after taking this 1-hour highly interactive class.

Syllabus

  1. Chemistry of essential oils is covered in a simple easy to understand way.
  2. How therapeutic grade essential oils work at a cellular level
  3. Physiological impact on the human body
  4. Emotional benefits

It sounds heavy for a 7-year-old, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how fun and engaging this class is.  Each child will take a home goody bag full of surprises (including a $25 gift voucher toward a service) and a certificate of completion!

Check here for upcoming dates. 

Requirements

  • Each child must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • Class is for children 4-10 years-old.
  • Class size between 8-10 children.
  • If you are planning a theme party, or have specific dates in mind, please call Sara Naomi at 732-407-4020 to make arrangements.

Leftover Love?

candy

Valentine’s candy still hanging around (and threatening to cling to your thighs?!).  Here are five ideas to make that candy disappear, without feeling wasteful!

 

1.)    Eat it.  Let each family member save and savor a few favorite pieces.

Then, with the rest…

2.) Donate it. Call your local fire company, township building, bus garage and more.

3.)    Ship it to the TroopsLearn more at  http://www.operationgratitude.com/

4.)    Cook with it.  Crush up the Sweethearts and add to cupcake batter.  Melt chocolate and make fondue.

5.)    Teach with it.  What a fun way to work on counting, or sorting by type, shape, size.  Try math problems using M and M’s and Skittles and see how exciting division can be!

 

{Don’t Forget}

 

fall

{Top 10 Tips}

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Autumn is in the air!  It makes me want to run to buy an abundance of pumpkins & sit by a bonfire sipping warm apple cider.  

Even though I’m waiting a tiny bit longer before I explode my home in Halloween decorations it doesn’t mean that I can’t get started on Jase’s very first Halloween costume.  Mums the word on what the boy is going to be for his first big holiday hoopla, but it got me thinking about Halloween from years’ past.  In our family, costumes are made, not bought, so I hope to continue that tradition.

Here are my 10 tips for non-sewers when it comes to creating costumes for your own loved ones:

  1. Start with a Shell.  You don’t need to create a fantastic costume from scratch.  Buy the basic shell–or maybe your little one has a great base in their closet.  A sweatshirt hooded jacket can easily be the base for an amazing dinosaur after you add scales & plates to it.  Where’s Waldo can start with a striped red shirt.  Batgirl can be started with  black leggins & a black shirt, adding to it to bring her to life.
  2. Think Felt, Fleece & Foam Paper.  These materials can simply be cut & won’t fray if you don’t hem them, perfect for cutting superhero capes, masks, puppy dog ears, you name it.  Draw out templates on newspaper & perfect your shapes that way, creating a great stencil.  If you aren’t a self-proclaimed artist search for the shape you are looking for on the Internet & print it out to use as a template, whether that be a star, a letter or another shape or pattern.
  3. When In Doubt Use Hot Glue.  If you need buttons or elaborate netting sewn on to something & you don’t know where to start, think “hot glue.”  You fingertips might have a little less to them when the costume is done, but you’ll save yourself the trouble of tangling thread.
  4. Accessories Are Necessities. At The Little Old House of Make Believe all of our accessories (whether it is jewelry or pirate’s treasure) make dressing up even more fun.  Make sure to think of accessories for your little one’s costume.  A Doctor must have a Doctor Bag full of instruments.  What would a Spy be without all of their tools?  A Princess.  A Bumblebee.  Wonder Woman.  Last year a little “police man” came for treats on his bicycle that Dad put a make-shift siren on.  This little boy thought that he was so stinkin’ cool.  Trust me when I say your kid will thank you when you help them add little details of fun.
  5. Think Outside the Fabric Box.  Everything doesn’t need to be made out of fabric.  Materials like cardboard, brown paper, foam or glitter paper can be great resources.  You’d be surprised of the inspiration you can get just strolling the aisles of your local craft store.
  6. Get Kids Involved Although you might be trying to create a costume that would be able to grace the latest Pinterest homepage, remember that Halloween is supposed to be fun & by getting your little one involved, it won’t just create fantastic memories, it can make them super proud too.  Maybe they’d like to draw a sketch of what they want their costume to look like, and of course can help with the shopping, glueing or even more.  
  7. Something Borrowed.  Maybe a friend or family has a costume, accessories or piece of a costume that could help you get started–or finish–your little one’s look.  A cousin’s pig costume could be re-done into “Pigs in a Blanket,” “Miss Piggy,” a Piggy Bank (think chocolate gold coins to hand out to passerby!) or even Toy Story’s “Dr. Porkchop.”
  8. Use the Internet to Find Tutorials  Even if your little one has the craziest idea for something they want to be & you think you’ll need an interpretive guide to help you figure out what they mean, just search the Internet first.  You’ll be surprised that a Grown-Up probably had the very same request before from their little one.  And their finished product can serve as your inspiration.
  9. A Family Affair.  Just because you are a grown-up or your pet poodle is a dog, doesn’t mean that it can be fun for the whole family!  Is there a little accessory or thing that you can throw on yourself or your canine friend to complete your little one’s costume?  They are sure to get a kick out of it!
  10. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help Whether your Great Aunt is a crafty one, you ask for guidance at the fabric cutting counter of your local fabric store or you post a question on a message board, there are other people out there willing to help breathe life into your little one’s costume idea, whether with advice or maybe even to help you create it.

So ask your kidlet what is it they want to be & get started finding some inspiration!  We’d love to see your DIY costumes.  Post it on The Little Old House of Make Believe’s Facebook wall or use #IMadeItMyself on Instagram.

 

{Batgirl}

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My first grader, Mia, has been trying so hard to pull her little self together each day for school.  And she’s trying even harder to keep it together at school.  As you may have read in past posts, or you may know from personal observations, Mia is my energetic ball-of-fire kiddo who flies off at the drop of a hat, but is still super caring of others and loves to help… much like a superhero.

 

She held her own in Kindergarten.  Mostly because who can’t stay on their best behavior (most of the time) for 2 and ½ hours a day?

 

But Batgirl has met her match with the 6 and ½ hour school day of a first grader. She is literally hanging on by a thread to stay under the radar, keep her self-control in check, and make it to that last bell without meltdowns or outbursts.

 

And, as all parents know, you can only be good for so long before you need a little release.

 

Mia’s meltdowns usually start in the minutes she is released out of school, and they usually taper off near dinner time.  Getting through our after school routine and homework is quite challenging for our whole family.  We do encourage her to “use kind words and actions” (modeling the words, behaviors, and tone of voice to try instead), take a break and have some alone time, or even, eat a snack to get that blood sugar back in regulation. But all in all, we give her a little leeway because she just needs a release from holding it in all day.

 

After she has had time to release some of her strong feelings, and vent her frustrations, she is back to her charming and energetic ball-of-fire little self – ready to fight crime and hang with her fellow superheroes once again.