keeping it simple: da holidaze

I’m pretty sure 1 bajillion (totally a real number in my world) people have already written about this.  AND, they’ve probably even said it better.

But I’m going to share it anyway, because when I was listening to K-Love and Air1 a few months ago and had heard some of the same songs a few times in a day I thought, “Man Lord, why can’t there be even more uplifting/positive music on the radio?   And not the 80’s boring stuff? I want to hear more bands like Switchfoot and Toby Mac and Mandisa, Anberlin, 10th Ave North, and Brandon Heath singing good stuff.  But there’s just not currently enough to fill twenty radio stations all day long.  And that’s when God was like, “Remember when you told me you didn’t need to do a blog because fifty kajillion people already have blogs and write amazing stuff?  Well here you sit wanting more awesome and uplifting music, and you need to take your own advice and pen a blog even IF a zillion other people are already writing.”  He didn’t say it exactly like that, but you get the idea.

On that tangent – I’m taking my own advice and going even farther.  Talking on a subject that’s almost been talked to death.  But not quite, I hope.

It goes along with the main theme in my life this year of not being a crazy hot-dog stand lady. Meaning, keeping it simple.

It’s about keeping it simple at Christmas.

Here is what we are doing: only stuff that seems important in our world and is easy enough. As in, I didn’t strain my cornea trying to accomplish it.

I made a list of things things that made me feel loved, connected and secure at Christmas time, or things I really, really wanted to do at Christmas time, but my parents said no: see the Gingerbread house.  Here they are in order of my memory:

  • Make hot-coco and watch a Christmas movie (Elf in our case, and hopefully more)  ABC Family is running Christmas movies every day from Dec 1st to Dec 25th.  I’ve set my dvr to record the ones I think either my husband and I would like, or all of us.  So movies and chocolate.  Not spiritual.
  • Send a PHOTO (that part is crucial) Christmas card to family and friends.
photo 2
the surprise is ruined, now you’ve seen our Christmas card

photo 3

My endless over-the-top appreciation for photo Christmas/ New Years cards is paramount to my excitement for actual Christmas morning.  I LOVE them.  Therefore they are a priority in our house.  I want all our family and friends to know they are important to us, even if we just send them a card each year.  We actually budget for this each year, because photo cards and stamps can add up real quick.

This year the kids wanted to help, so they decorated half the cards on the back (mostly, Ellie also decorated the front (sorry mail-person!)) until they got bored.

photo 2 photo 3 photo 1 (1)

The perfectionist mom in my head tried to come out, thinking, “you colored half, finish the rest, everyone deserves some art”, but then I remembered, who the heck cares?  No one.  If you are family, you probably got a colored envelope, because those were on the top.  Congratulations!

giving up on computers

All of our cards are all hand addressed because the word documents of saved addresses that I printed perfectly normal last year has confused me refused to work correctly and won’t print in the right spots.  So to spite the computer and it’s printer friend, I decided I didn’t need them! All cards are all hand addressed because it seemed easier then trying to figure out how to make labels print correctly… my version of keeping it simple.

And, they will be return addressed with the free return address labels they send in the mail, because it’s so easy… and tacky, but more easy then tacky.

  • Make gingerbread houses.  I don’t have a memory of making this sort of colossal, sneak-candy-when-mom’s-not-looking type of mess.  It looks like SO much fun to me.  I will let you know how it goes.  Mine are pre-fab from Costco for $9.95 each, because I wanted to keep things simple.  Thanks Costco!
You had me at “pre-built”
  • Go look at Christmas lights, in our own neighborhood by walking with hot chocolate (notice a reoccurring theme? chocolate).  I know there are better neighborhoods, and we might go drive one if it seems easy, but why not just keep things simple and enjoy what our neighbors have to offer?  We will all be on foot (Ellie in her toy push car) and we can walk slowly in the comfort of our own non-crowded neighborhood. There’s a neighborhood not too far that is KNOWN for being incredible, it’s like five miles of amazing-ness, but to get there one has to park at the local store and walk for like 10 minuets through congested traffic.  Pass.
  • Talk about Jesus’ birthday.  My kids now understand birthdays.  They know who Jesus is.  This is the first year they’ve realized he has an actual birthday that we celebrate at Christmas.  So whenever they are in awe of anything Christmas tree, lights, sparkles, fun, hot chocolate, whatever – I say, “WOW!  Isn’t it cool that Jesus gets SO many birthday decorations/ways to celebrate for his birthday?  Everyone wants to celebrate his birthday!  So fun.”  Then I follow it up by explaining that we give and get presents on Jesus birthday (Christmas) to remind ourselves and others that Jesus is the best gift of all.

AND, we will make him an Apple-Cinnamon Toastie from Babycakes on his birthday.  We will eat it Christmas morning to celebrate. Even though every single time without fail, the middle turns out soggy and the whole thing looses it’s shape, it’s insanely delicious, regardless of it’s hideous appearance.

photo 2 (1) photo 1

This type of baking dish and I have had some disagreements.

photo 3 (1)So much so that the words banana bread and zucchini bread have been cast out of our home. I have NEVER successfully made either.  Not. Once.  But for you Apple-Cinnamon Toastie, I will try, forever.

  • Make some Christmas cookies.  I loved decorating cookies as a kid.  It’s just fun and delicious.
  • Veggie-Tales Christmas time:  Again with the movies.  This one is not actually a priority, it’s just another convenient way to teach the kids about Christmas.  We own three Veggie Tales Christmas themed movies.  Two are vhs that we inherited.  Yes, I have my kids watch vhs films on our 9 inch vhs tv player.  The latest one (dvd only) even has Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty, it’s called, Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas and it’s pretty funny for grown-ups too.  So, if it’s a tv moment (they’re have been quite a few lately due to kids being sick and listless) I put on a kid friendly reminder about what Christmas is really about.

In addition to those little diamonds, I will attempt to continue with life as normal.  This month we are eating from emeals, the vegetarian menu.  It’s simple and not vegan, but it’s as close as I’m going to get without going crazy.  Dinner on the table with the family is ONE of my sacred ideals and I don’t want to loose it to this busy season.  It’s just always been a priority, and I feel like it keeps our family connected.  So in between the parties, Christmas ideals, friends and family, I hope to still have a home cooked meal on the table 4 to 5 out of 7 nights a week. Davin and I usually go out a few times a month on a date!  AND there are super delicious Mexican, Thai, Sushi and Italian places that cook for us regularly (for a small fee of corse), so that will be the other 2-3 nights out of the week.

Also in this month to simplify things?  Canned soup.  Amy’s canned soup from? Costco.  In fact we’re having that for lunch.  So simple.  I also hope to maintain a fairly well kept house, and keep our clothes clean by washing them occasionally, and keep up with our kids dental and general hygiene, and having pretty painted nails… not TOO tall of an order.

That is it.  So far.

I downloaded, The Truth in Tinsel and prepped all the even craft days for it (I was coordinating with a dear friend).  But then I realized that completing a craft each day with my children, on a schedule would be as pleasant for me as breaking a glass Christmas ornament and scraping myself with it… to death.  I am not exaggerating.

Also, my kids are too little to understand most of what very deep things I try and share.  So even though it’s spiritual, even though it teaches, and is super intentional – we’re not doing it. Not this year anyway.

I also LOVE wrapping gifts (grown-up ones, because grown-ups appreciate good wrapping) so that will be something I put some effort into.

Now that it’s all in print.  That’s actually a LOT to try and accomplish, so if something gets missed.  Oh stinkin’ well.  We’ve already watched part of Elf and drizzank some hot chocolate, CHECK!

Enjoy your semi-simple holiday season.  And don’t stress out if your 3 year old kids get the light of Jesus mixed up with the candle in Beauty in the Beast… in the end, it will all come together if you just keep praying for your little ones;-)  I think they can know the love of Jesus in hot chocolate and movies too:-)

As always, thank you so much for reading.

The Craft to Contain All Other Crafts

Let me just start this post by stating: I should be doing laundry.  Sometimes in life, we should be doing something, but there a moments I believe, it’s good to let yourself do something else for awhile.  A mini vacation from life’s should-do’s!

I also probably should have made lunch, but on a whim I decided I wanted to drive a crazy number of hours all the way to Santa Cruz and buy pizza at Pleasure Point Pizza.  I then realized that whim was a bit much, we didn’t even have jackets in the car, so scaling it back a bit I decided to splurge on In-N-Out instead.   In-N-Out is just one of the many reasons living in the Sunshine state is wonderful.


My kids could not have been happier over their grilled cheese and fries with ketchup.


And, Micky Mouse Clubhouse.  Life is so good as a little person in our house right now.


Look at the toys-on-toys going on here.  Random pillows on the floor from another room?  We’ve got that.


Toys all up in he-ah!IMG_6218

So in addition to laundry I should also be cleaning…  but instead – mini-life vacation to the rescue!

Today I have absolutely nothing to share that is amazing from my heart, but only a simple solution to a problem I encountered when my kids started bringing home their work from preschool and kids church.  I’ve had an entire grocery bag FULL of art, and school crafts piling up since September.  I don’t like clutter, so I’m not really into the fridge idea.  I did however want my kids to feel like every piece of artwork was special and important to all of us in the family. Who doesn’t like an audience for hard work, right?

So I prayed for a solution.  Sounds silly, I don’t care what it sounds like, that’s what I did.

And, surprise surprise – I got an answer.  Now, God did not speak to me like, “DO THIS CRAFT TO CONTAIN ALL OHER CRAFTS, thus sayest…”.  That did not happen.  I just prayed something like, “Snap God, look at all this work the kids did, it’s still sitting here in my pantry making me feel bad like it should be up or something, and they are going to keep bringing home cooler and cooler work – what am I going to do?  You know how haphazard I am with the crafts!”

So when an idea popped into my head, and it felt simple enough I was like, “yep, that be my answer.”

So, I introduce to you, the Craft to Contain All Other Crafts.



I actually learned about a Christmas version (posted at the bottom) of this at a Mops meeting and I just modified it a bit.  I feel like all the credit of this craft rests upon our fearless craft leader from Mops named, Carly. Thank you Carly.  She makes signs, they are amazing, you can see them at Sweetly Spoken Signs.

I like this craft because it is:

  1. easy enough
  2. versatile based on decor preferences
  3. easy to change out the art/crafts

Here’s what you need to accomplish this one:

  1. 2 pieces of wood from a lumber store (I know, this sounds taxing, but it’s not THAT hard)  You need 2 pieces of 1×4: it measures 1 x 3 1/2 but I’m assuming they round up?  They come in lengths of 6 feet at my store, so with two, I had my husband cut each one into three sections of 2 feet each. If you are nice at the lumber store, they will cut if for you.
  2. clothes pins (you will need 48 if you follow the steps exactly)
  3. craft paper: like scrapbook paper, or even wrapping paper, newspaper, it’s up to you
  4. elmer’s-like glue (regular old glue)
  5. glue-gun and glue sticks (the dollar store totally sells both of these)
  6. mod podge
  7. white craft paint
  8. two paint brushes (small for the mod podge, larger for the white paint – mine are from the dollar store)
  9. some twine or ribbon if you prefer


Everything but the wood and elmer’s like glue is shown in this fancy burlap background photo


Here’s a bin I keep my craft stuff in, see how often I do crafts?  It’s really that I’ve just done the one… in varied forms.


For Christmas, my weakness is plaid.  I can’t get enough of plaid.IMG_6240

And antique looking santa Christmas card stuff.

Here is what you are making (x 6 if you like)


Nice right?


Here’s two of them together.  With the supplies I listed, you will have six total.  Scale back on the supplies if you want only a few.  I have three kids, two are dedicated to each kid.
IMG_5632And here’s what they look like on the wall.

You can start one of two ways, depending on your feelings.  At step 1, and then 2 or reverse it.

Step 1: I recommend starting with the wood.  Go outside.  Cut two foot strips (if you haven’t already), or whatever length you prefer.  Then dust them off with your hand or an old towel, you don’t want wood chip pieces painted on your board.  Then give each board a light coat of white paint.  Cover it ONLY once lightly if you want the farmhouse look, or beach-house look. The wood grain peeking through in spots is pretty cute, plus it saves time. Be sure to cover the sides (the cut ends) as well, otherwise it will look unfinished.  It dries in about 20 minuets.

While it’s drying, head back inside and begin step 2!

Step 2: Select the craft paper you want to use, and how much.  I glued 8 clothespins to each board.  So I selected 3 papers for each board.  Two papers were represented three times, the one just two.  You can make the pattern however you like, abc,abc,ab as I did or use four papers for abcd,abcd, or even abcdefgh if you want to use 8 papers.  Your’e choice.


Cut out all your paper for ALL your boards, each paper the size of your clothespin.


I did each paper selection twice, so my son’s boards are the same, and so are each of my daughters.  I have two “sets” of the same three boards.


Enough math.

Step 3: Once you’ve finished cutting and arranging all your clothespin patterns, glue the strips onto each of the clothespins with simple white glue.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  If you cut a larger piece then needed, once it’s dry you can go back and trim them up if you like. IMG_6267

IMG_6259Step 4: Once these are completely dry, bust out the Mod Podge.

IMG_5622 IMG_6268Paint a light coat of Mod Podge over each of the clothespins.  Let them dry.  This gives them a more finished and slightly glossy look.  Set them aside to dry.

Step 5: Go retrieve your dry wood.  Set all your boards on a large flat surface (like a kitchen counter) that is close to an electrical outlet.  It is time to hot glue.  Prior to gluing, space your clothespins out evenly.

IMG_6263Mine are three fingers apart.  I also have super ginormous hands, so if you don’t, perhaps just eye the spacing.  Take your time, pull away any hot glue hairs before they have time to form.

Step 6: The hanger.  Gather your twine or ribbon to set a loop on the back so you can hang them.  Prior to flipping your boards, make sure ALL the hot glue has had time to dry.


Once dry, flip your board and eye the center of the board, go about two inches on either side to create a loop .  Measure it out and cut your twine.  I used hot glue to adhere my twine.  So far this has worked.  I also used a lot so that it would hopefully never fall off the wall and splatter everywhere.  If you can think of a better way to hang your Craft to Contain All Crafts, by all means, go for it.

Step 7: Let your glue dry then get to filling those clothespins with crafts!


IMG_5629 IMG_5628 IMG_6253 IMG_6251Below are some pictures of how I modified this for Christmas.  I used a LOT more clothespins, and Christmas paper.  Here is how they display.

FULL disclosure:  If you have EVER sent me a Christmas Photo card, you can be sure that I’ve saved it.  I don’t keep A TON of random sentimental things, I do however collect these, and plan to one day put them in book.  That being said, up for dibs on my display is a random display of last years beauties, which we kept up on the wall until March this year, because I like seeing all my friends and their beautiful children and animals.  What can I say?


Without Christmas photo cards, so empty and sad.


Up close and personal


Filled with cards!IMG_6226IMG_6227

Happy crafting!

As always, thanks for reading!