Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

I hope you all had the most wonderful Christmas!
Our day was so relaxing and fun.
We went to church, opened presents, had a giant brunch, played with our toys, read new book, and rode snowmobiles on the back forty:). The kids went to bed in the new pajamas that my Mom made for them {it is a sweet tradition}.



Christmas is one of my favorite days of the year.


Two of our boys on our free snowmobiles....they are so perfect for the kids!!

Here are a few more pictures from Christmas 2010...



Jack giving Papa {my Dad} a Christmas hug.




Out tree came from our Christmas tree lot! So exciting...as this was the first year to harvest one.
We decorated it in Dollar Store sliver frames with pictures of loved ones, manila tags with scripture written on them, and other simple silver ornaments.




Our front door welcomed everyone with this cinnamon pine cone swag. I just cut strips of burlap and hot glued them on. 


And now everything is tucked away safe in their places for next Christmas....
Whew!
 I am ready for new beginnings..

I am so excited to start a fresh new year tomorrow!  
How about you? 
Are you feeling like you want to straighten, clean, organize, and get everything "just so" in preparation for the BEST year possible?

I have been streamlining our home and thinking about what is most important in my life.
What do I want my life to look like by next year?
How do I get there?

My New Year's Resolutions or Solutions include these areas of my life:

Spiritual

Marriage

Children and Family Life

Making Memories

Finances

Health, Physical Exercise

Diabetes {I am type 1}

Home Keeping and Gardening

Homeschooling

Business

Down Time....because we all need it!!

So, I am making plans and hope to share with you some great tips about how to achieve our goals. 
For me, it all comes with organization that isn't too rigid or conforming.
I need a little wiggle room.
I am in total chaos without a plan, but I also need baby steps to get there and a good dose of diligence.
 That's the key...right?

Next week, I hope to share with you my Home Keeping Journal.
I have borrowed ideas from many sources and have come up with a great system that works wonderfully for me. 

Have a fabulous New Years Day!

Thank you to everyone who reads my little blog...you have been so inspirational and I enjoy visiting your beautiful sites. I feel so blessed by your sweet comments and friendships!

~Julia






Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Minute Packaging Idea

We have some sweet friends that invited us over today for tea and I just love to package up a few goodies to share.

I love to share gifts, but it can be challenging on a budget sometimes.
I believe God has given each of us talents and that is what we need to share!
I am not gifted in many areas, but I do love to bake!
I also like to find things that "keep on giving."

Our friends have goats, so I thought that a galvanized tub would work perfect to package  everything up.
It might come in handy on the farm.

Don't you love to think outside the box when it comes to wrapping?


I actually ran out of ribbon! Whoops! So, I used fabric strips to encircle the bucket and added holly as an accent.
I purchased the cellophane bags long ago and still have a good supply.



Lily was invited to tea in the play house with her doll by Millie, her darling friend.
We included paper dolls for her in our gift.


All of my gifts were handmade...

Spiced Plum Butter
Cinnamon Anise Jelly
Handmade Recipe Cards
Chocolate Snowmen made by the kids
Gooey Popcorn
Nutmeg Cookies
and
Saltine Caramel Brittle



Lily was asked to bring a present for her dolly to share at tea. 
We really were stumped, then thought a charming little doll's stocking would be wonderful.
She helped me put it together from fabric scraps and an old lace table runner.  

Lily really wanted to show all of you...


Too sweet. 
I hope the dolly loves it!

Wishing you a peaceful and blessed Holiday!

Warmly,

Julia

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Free Christmas Gift Tags

I  think I am slightly smitten with all of the wonderful free tags out there!

Isn't this darling? 
Eighteen25  has them available on their wonderful website. 

My friend Ara clued me in on these pretties from Dear Lillie... {one of my favorite blogs}.
There are so many more available....just click HERE. 




Here are a few more:).










christmas-labels

Xmascard



Printable Gift Tags



4holidygftgs_2




Above tags from Martha Stewart.  




LollyChops_BirdTags

Scallops_HolidayTags


Free Printable Holiday Gift Tags


I hope you enjoy all of these!

~Julia

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wrapping Ideas

 I hope that you are all having the most wonderful week. 
We had all of our family over for a Christmas celebration and it was so much fun.
We started the day out sledding at an absolutely enormous hill and then came back to celebrate.
So many great memories were made.

I thought I would share some thrifty wrapping ideas with you.




I love to wrap with things that I have on hand...brown paper packages being one of my favorites.
I usually buy the paper at the local Dollar Store in the mailing department. 

Fabric ribbon is so inexpensive, and paired with a little holly it really makes a nice statement.
Just cut strips from your favorite {or scrap} fabrics and leave the edges unfinished. 


The last few years I have enjoyed using newspaper.
After all, we all have it laying around, and what better way to use it up!
All of my ribbon came from Walmart and was under $2 a roll. I love the chartreuse satin and grosgrain is one of my all-time staples. 


Natural elements are cheap and a wonderful accent. 
The little tags can be printed HERE. 
Aren't they sweet?
I also make these tags on my printer... 


The images are from The Graphics Fairy.



My sister Charity is hosting a wonderful party on wrapping ideas. 
You can find more fun ideas and visit her HERE. 


Happy Holidays!

~Julia 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Aunt Barbara's Popcorn Cake

This is a doozy of a cake and is so simple you will jump for joy! This is the PERFECT go-to dessert and works wonderfully as Christmas gifts to neighbors.
Best of all, it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.


The recipe comes from my dear, sweet Aunt Barbara. 
If I could steal her recipe book for a day, I would. She absolutely is one of the finest cooks I know and every one of her concoctions are divine.


Aunt Barbara's Popcorn Cake

12 cups popped popcorn
1 pkg. marshmallows {regular, large size}
1 stick of butter
1 large pkg. peanut M&M's
1 pkg. spice drops
3-4 drops food coloring {optional}

In a large pot, melt butter on medium heat. Add marshmallows and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until melted and completely blended. Add food coloring and stir.. Remove from heat and add popcorn. Stir with wooden spoon, adding spice drops first, then M&M's. Keep stirring to make sure everything is coated well.

Now comes the sticky part. You can use a greased bundt pan {like I did here},a 9" x 13" pan, or any other mold. Use the spoon to pour the popcorn mix in, then slightly wet your hands. Press mixture down. Put in refrigerator for at least 15-20 minutes to cool.

Remove, cut into pieces, or just package up for gifting:).

This cake has many options..
I have used red food coloring and a molded heart pan for Valentine's Day. A friend had an oval "egg" pan and used light colors for Easter one year.
The possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!   

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pocket Hand Warmers

I have been making these simple pocket hand warmers as gifts for Christmas after seeing that my sweet sister, Charity was sewing a few.


They make the perfect added "little something" to stockings, as a hostess gift, or even for classmates!
My daughter, Lily, who is 7, can sew one with just a little help.
They seriously only take minutes to make!


To make them, I cut two pieces of fabric 5 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches.
You could use flannel, cotton, or even a poly blend...just as long as the fabric "breathes" a little. 
I used a cotton and a flannel.

Sew right sides together and leave an opening at one end.
Turn right side out, make a paper cone to insert into the opening and fill with flax seed, barley, rice, or hulled corn.
Just estimate how full you would like it to be.
I like mine to have a little wiggle room:). 

I tried hulled corn this time {thanks, Cheech!}
You can buy it at the feed store and it seems to hold heat a bit longer.
It will pop though if you microwave it too long!
For this size, 30 seconds per hand warmer is perfect.



If you are using rice, you could add a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, or lavender to scent the bags.
Yum!



Sew the open end up and you are finished.
I am going to include a little card with instructions to heat both warmers in the microwave for 1 minute.
They are really a cozy addition to coat pockets on a cold Winter's day!

~Julia

Sharing this tutorial HERE

Tiny Little Chocolate Snowmen...

Are you looking for a fun winter project? 
The kids and I made these over the weekend and it was such fun!

Tiny little chocolate snowmen.
We are going to tuck them into gifts for the neighbors.


Of course, Martha had the idea first.
She always has the cutest crafts!


Martha uses large chocolate bars, but they were a little pricey in my neck of the woods, so we used smaller ones. I bought the Hershey bars in a package of 8 for $1 at Walmart.


Just cover each bar with white paper and secure with tape in the back.
Add eyes, a carrot nose, buttons, and a little ribbon scarf. 
Too sweet and easy for small hands to make:).

Have a great day!
Happy Holidays!

~Julia

I am sharing this idea HERE.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Handmade Christmas...Christmas Cards and Tag Freebies

How are you doing with your Christmas preparations?
To be honest, I am running a little behind schedule!
Handmade it is, though, and here are some great resources I found this week!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I think these are some of the most adorable cards I have come across!


Simple as That has some free downloadable cards as well as a schlew of other links to other wonderful FREE cards! 

And take a peek at these darling tags for your Christmas boxes from Jones Design Company...

IMG_7595

IMG_7962

You guessed it....they are FREE!

Thank you Keep Home Simple for the great post about Jones Design! I love that site and all of her delightful ideas.

Hope your Christmas preparations are coming along and that you are having a season filled with peace!

~Julia


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