Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy December 1st!!!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house!

This really is my most favorite time of year! And having a 4-almost-five-year-old running around definitely adds to the excitement.  I've got a ton of Christmas crafts and activities planned for us and hope to get to at least doing half of them. :)

♪♫ Greeting cards have all been sent...♪♫

So happy to get that done on time this year. :) It really helped that we scheduled pictures with our photographer for October. She posted them on her blog yesterday, so please go check them out. I have to agree that my kiddos are the cutest ever! 

Also, a special thanks to Nikki, for linking to my Christmas Card List printable. She has a great blog for digi-scrappers and will be rounding up lots of freebies this month.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

{Freebie} Christmas Card List Printable

With our family photo shoot already checked off my list, I am excited to actually be able to get my Christmas cards sent out right after Thanksgiving this year!!

I spent way too much time searching the internet today for a Christmas card list printable before I finally decided to make my own. :) I have a separate all-purpose address book, so I really just need a basic list for recording names and checking them off as I send them out. So here's what I came up with...feel free to download (just click on the picture) and use if you like it! :)

...and some additional pages, if needed...

And for those of you who DO like to keep the addresses with your card list, I included extra lines on this printable with additional sheets to print as well.

Thanks for stopping by!! Please leave a comment and say hi!

Monday, November 5, 2012

{Recipe} Chunky Chicken Salad with Grapes and Pecans

I am extremely picky about the chicken salad concoctions I will eat... certain criteria must be met!!
MUST have CHUNKY chicken (no shredded mush, please!), red AND green grapes (just a visual thing, I think), PECANS (no other nut will do), and JUST ENOUGH dressing to coat ( I despise soggy, drippy bread).  Result?  Heavenly goodness served on a croissant. (Costco and Sam's make the best croissants!)

 So, as promised here and here, here's basically how I make it...
Serves: a 18-20 croissants worth
I usually make it for parties, but the recipe is easy to half.

(2) Whole Fryer Chickens, cooked 
 {I like to use rotisserie chickens from Costco because it's easier and actually cheaper.}
Red and Green Grapes - halved or quartered
{My grapes were HUGE, so I quartered them.}
1/4 Vidalia Onion - finely chopped
{maybe "minced" is more like it!}
8 oz bag of Pecans, coarsely chopped
optional: Grated Parmesan Cheese
{I like to add this for an extra flavor boost if I have it on hand.}

1 cup Mayo 
{I like the olive oil version.}
1 cup Sour Cream
2 Tbs Lemon Juice
{I usually just squeeze about 1/2 lemon.}
2 Tbs Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash of Cayenne Pepper

1. Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  I only use the white meat and of course, remove the skin.

2. Add grapes, onion, pecans, and {optional} Parmesan cheese. I go minimal with the onion because as the flavors "marry," the onion can get pretty strong...not a fan. I like lots of grapes and pecans, but feel free to add as much or as little as you like. When I add the cheese, I throw in a small handful. :)

3. In a separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients.  Feel free to be creative with the seasoning...seasoned salt or and all-purpose seasoning is good as well. 

4. GRADUALLY add dressing to chicken mixture.  I do not use all of the dressing because I do not like soggy, drippy chicken salad.  I add just enough to coat.

5.  Serve on fresh croissants for yummy sandwiches or a bed of lettuce with crackers (I like Triscuits & Melba Toast) for a yummy snack. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

{Not So} Wordless Weekend ♥ Fall Photo Shoot

In the midst of all the busyness happening in our lives right now, I decided to schedule a family photo shoot...and I'm sooooooooooo glad I did!!  Honestly, with everything else going on, it was craziness to get everything planned and ready the past week or so and especially the day of the shoot, but it was totally worth it! I've only gotten a sneak peek so far, but I just can't stop staring at this picture of my super adorable kiddos and feeling overwhelmingly blessed!

It's been a good reminder to focus on the most important things in life - people... and especially my fabulous little family.

On that note, signing off to enjoy some fall fun this weekend! ♥

Special thanks to Kendall Lynette Photography and Design for doing our photo shoot.  She even had gifts waiting for the kids when we got there - they felt extra special! ♥ She's awesome!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gender Reveal ♥ It's A....

We were so excited last week to find out the gender of Baby #4!!  I knew I wanted to have a small get-to-gether with friends on the following Sunday night after church to reveal the gender. But there was no way that Tim and I could wait another whole week, so we cheated and let the technician show us. :)

I used what I had on hand to decorate, so my total cost for everything except food was $2.50.  I used my Creative Memories circle templates to cut out the vertical banners, hung balloons from the ceiling to avoid paying for helium, and decorated my own paper lantern/pinata. 

I didn't even iron the tablecloth!!

I provided some of the food and then had each of my guests bring a dish. It worked out perfectly, and we had a great variety.

I served my party favorites: Chicken Salad Croissants, Ham & Cheese Croissants, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Cream Puffs. And I must apologize - I didn't realize until I went to pull up my recipe for chicken salad from the girls' first birthday post that I never posted it!! Ooops!! I promise I'll get it up in the next day or so - it's delicious!!!

UPDATE: Chicken Salad Recipe

Aren't they just the cutest little girls ever??!!!

Paper lanterns aren't exactly on the cheap side, so I had to get a little creative. I found a ghost paper lantern in the Target $ section for $2.50 and decided to decorate it myself.  I cut crepe paper and tissue paper that I already had on hand to make the fringe and then just hot glued it around the lantern.  And I didn't even take the time to do it perfectly so don't look closely!! ;)

I attached a "pull string" to a card stock circle and taped it to the bottom of the lantern to cover the hole. I ended up cutting a slit for the metal bar so that the circle would lie flat. I then filled the lantern with confetti to match the gender.  The plan was for Titus to pull the string and release the confetti to reveal the gender.  And it worked...too well...he was sooo excited to do it that he pulled it before I was completely ready...ha!! Oh well, it worked liked a charm.  
 Though as a side tip for anyone who may want to try this, some of the larger curling ribbon confetti got caught on the metal bar and didn't fall out right away. But, hey, I was tired of punching little pieces of paper - and was too cheap to buy confetti. :)

I made voting stickers for everyone to wear after they voted for what they thought the gender was.
The boy votes definitely won out!! Probably out of wishful thinking for us - and last minute prayers for Titus!

And now for the big reveal... It's A...


We are beyond excited...and a little relieved!  Wasn't sure how it would work to add another little girl to the twin's room.  Though, I must confess it's gonna be sad to get rid of all the cute little girl clothes.  But I'll be just as excited to break out all the little guy stuff again - and Titus is thrilled to death.  He knew it was a boy - there was no convincing him that it might be otherwise.  He kept saying, "I only need two sisters!!" HA!! I'm most excited for him to have a little boy to play with.
So, now, my sweet little family is almost perfectly complete...only 20 more weeks!!

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment and say hi!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

I ♥ Fall Decor!!

The weekend here was fairly productive...due largely to my favorite Pandora Christmas stations! :)
I was able to get my house somewhat recovered from 1st trimester lethargy and put out some fall decor. I did realize, though, my tastes have changed somewhat and I want to "makeover" some of my fall decorations...time permitting, of course!

I finally finished my fall deco-mesh wreath. If you ever plan to make one, I highly recommend something similar to these wreath forms!
 The fireplace

My candy corn pot - this gets re-filled MANY times!!
And a new favorite - Caramel Apple Milky Ways!

Highly contemplating painting these candle holders.

These pumpkins got painted last year - I love the bright pop of white!

I hope to get a few more DIY projects done for fall...need to find time to sew a cute table runner. Check out my Pinterest board for some great ideas and recipes! :)

Friday, September 28, 2012

DIY Kid's Anti-Frizz Hair Detangler

I have seen this idea all over the internet and have been waiting for my bottle of store-bought detangler to run out. :)  My girls have fine, frizzy, curly hair so taming their bed-head can be quite a chore!!  
Detangler is a must!! And actually I have been trying to figure out what to use in their hair to get rid of the frizz as kid's products really just don't get the job done. :(  
I can only imagine the $$$ we'll spend in hair products if their hair stays curly when they are older.

To make my version of this spray, I used what I had on hand so it was basically free!

 I used 4 ingredients/items:
Anti-frizz Cream
Re-used Spray Bottle

I use the anti-frizz cream in my hair and the conditioner was a free sample (which I have plenty of!)
I re-used the bottle I had - it holds 10.5 oz.  
I squirted the entire sample of conditioner (I'm guessing about a Tbs.) and about a 2-second squirt of anti-frizz cream into the bottle and then filled it halfway with filtered water from my refrigerator.  I shook it very well and then filled entirely with more water, shaking again.  

It smells very nice and works great!!! I've noticed their curls form a lot better rather than just "flying away" in a hundred different directions. They love for me to use their "Octopus Spray" on their hair and yell "It's raining!" the entire time - FUN!! :)

Suave brand detangling spray is really not a big expense at less then $2 a bottle, but I feel my version works better for my girlies. And really FREE is even better than $2 ~ and we go through it fast!!
If you have little girlies, you really should give it a try - it took me less than 5 minutes to make - another important factor!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Fall with Friends Round-up ♥

FALL IS HERE!! I couldn't be more excited!! 

Mostly, this year, because I've about outgrown all my clothes and need to start breaking out the maternity outfits - which are all for cooler weather! But, I'm also looking forward to getting my fall decorations out this week - I just love the smell of "spice" candles and the festiveness that comes with all the decorating. Even Titus was trying to convince me of all the stuff we need to buy "for decorations" during our recent Hobby Lobby trip - I don't think we have the same tastes, though!! :)

But the purpose of this post is to introduce you to some fabulous friends of mine who are awesome at their craft!! These ladies inspire me with their creativity, and I love that we can share business ideas and support each other.  All of them are stay-at-home-wives/mommies like myself, and they are awesome at juggling their family and church responsibilities along with their businesses - they encourage me! ♥

I hope you will check them out and consider them for your holiday purchases! :)

Ozarks Fare Grounds
Sarah was my college roomie my Junior year, and I'm so glad we've kept in touch because she inspires me!! She's a fabulous photographer, cake decorator, and now she's taken up sewing - she's also a fellow blogger. I just love the spoon pocket on this mug rug in her Etsy shop - adorable!!!
Fleurs N Frills 
Atina - She makes awesome vintage-inspired hair accessories!!

Daisy Cottage Designs
Lauren is a new blogging friend - she makes adorable hats and blankets among other things. She's famous for her owl hats! ♥

Your'e Invited Decor
Jennifer - she has mad Cricut skills and uses them to make these too cute party decorations. ♥
Happy Bubbles Couture
Sabrina - A fellow mommy of twins - she crochets in her spare time and makes all her fabulous creations without a pattern. If you can imagine it, she can make it! But since she has all boys (FOUR!), she has plenty of cute stuff for your little guys as well. :)
Cherry Chip Cafe
Jennifer - She is your one stop vinyl shop! I love her ideas!
Off the Hook
Desiree - This girl amazes me as well with all her original designs! This turkey is just the cutest thing ever! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

{REAL} Party Planning on a {BUDGET} - Part 1

So, hopefully the words REAL BUDGET stood out to you in the title above, because that is the whole premise of this post! With the trend this days leaning towards lavish birthday parties for children, this party-plannin'-lovin' momma has to keep herself in check when it comes to spending money on birthdays! ;)

It is my personal opinion that birthdays should be the most special day of my children's year...even more special than Christmas in a way.  Their birthday is the one day that can be centered around them. We try to celebrate Christmas and other Christian holidays with a focus on the true meanings of those holidays, but birthdays...well, that is THEIR day!! And as I plan their parties (which is totally FUN for me!), I really strive to keep that philosophy in focus. The purpose of a birthday party is NOT to impress anyone, see who gives the best gifts, or break the bank on outlandish decor. The purpose of the parties I plan for my children is to make sure their day is extra special - and a stressed out mommy does not make for a special day!

All that to say, everyone's budget is different - and not everyone likes to plan parties. Some families prefer to keep it even simpler with just family outings.  I have a few of those planned for future birthdays... But if you like to plan parties and you live on a budget, this post is for you! :)

So first, I'll share my personal philosophies and then I'll give some practical ways to save a few dollars:

1. Set a budget!!
This seems obvious, I'm sure, but I have planned parties with a general budget in mind...and gone over!! If you can only spend so much $$ on the party, then write it down!! Obviously you will want to get the most bang for your buck, and keeping track of expenses not only lets you know how and where you can spend your money, but, for me at least, it helps get the creative juices flowing! I've found that my creativity starts where my money ends! :)

2. Decide on a theme.
My children are still at an age that I can greatly influence their choice of party theme. I try to notice what they enjoy doing and incorporate that into my theme choice.  Don't fall prey to planning a party for YOU based on what you always wanted as a child or the characters you like. :) This year was the first year my son chose his party theme.  He turned four, and I let him choose between dinosaurs and pirates - his favorites pastimes. :) Too many choices can be overwhelming and they often can't make up their mind, flip-flopping back and forth between themes...can't plan a party like that. :)

Your budget will play heavily into what party themes you can afford.  Some parties lend themselves to a more expensive budget. Custom themes are all the rage these days...what theme can I think of that no one else has done??!! can't - it's all been done! But you can put your own twist to a popular theme.  

I usually have great ideas of all sorts of custom designs I'm going to do, but that is not feasible for my time or my budget. Unless it can be found in stores, I am either going to have to make it myself or pay someone to make it for me.  To save money, I always opt to make it myself, and there is only so much I can do.

3. Plan the menu
Food is one of the bigger expenses...but it doesn't have to be expensive!  For example, for my son's birthday this year, the main course was dinosaur shaped PB&J sandwiches. The party was a weekday lunch play date with his friends, so the simpler menu was perfect.

However, we knew that for my children's first birthdays we wanted to invite all those who were like family to helping us with our children and really loving them like their own.  At one year, children don't have "friends" necessarily, so we used it as an opportunity to say thank-you to the people in our children's lives.  We spent the money to have nice food and even catered one of the parties.  Really, we could never do enough to repay all the free babysitting, help with running errands, etc...

But for a party with your children's friends, please don't spend a ton of money on food! At a young age they don't even care about the food! :) Now, I am sure that as my son gets older, he's going to opt for more food vs. nice decorations!! And that's okay - it's all about a special day for them!

As a side note - themed food is all the rage...and I love to plan the party food around the party theme!  In my Google searching for parties, though, I've noticed a lot of parties are "styled" - meaning they aren't real parties! They are styled to give you ideas...which are not always feasible if you are having a large party.  Cake pops for 50... that's either a lot of work or a lot of money!

Until next time, remember it's all {IMO} about
"Keeping it REAL!!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Beautiful Girlies ♥

It's a gorgeous day here!! I took the opportunity to snap some photos of my girlies having fun their play clothes with uncombed hair! ;) These girls keep me laughing all day! 

I am so glad to finally have some cooler weather - fall can't come soon enough! My piano students are starting their Christmas songs for our annual concert in December, and it really puts me in the holiday spirit.  I'm one of "those people" that starts listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving - gasp! Actually, I'm breaking it out even earlier with each passing year - mostly because it puts me in a happy mood to clean and organize. :) 

But back to fall... I think it's my favorite season -though spring is a close second! I just love the perfect weather of these seasons. I'm excited, too, about some fall posts in the works...

For now, enjoy the pics of my cutie little girls! ♥♥

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Coming in March... ♥

...more craziness!!

So, there's really no rhyme or reason to this picture except that it does show my crazy little kiddos. ♥

Yes, in March (on or around the 15th) we will welcome the 4th and final little Curington. :) We are beyond excited... and just a little overwhelmed...ha!!  After baby is born, for one month, I will have 4 awesome little kiddos ages 4 and under...craziness!!

10.5 week ultrasound ♥

Titus was sooo excited when we told him. I was really kinda surprised how excitedly he was so funny and adorable.  He is hoping for a baby brother, which he totally deserves after putting up with twin sisters! ♥

My pregnancies are pretty good to me...I've yet to puke with "morning" sickness.  But I do have nausea and pretty low blood pressure which causes a lot of dizziness and weak spells.  I'm moving at a much slower pace these days...out of pure exhaustion!! Being pregnant with 3 little ones running around is not even comparable to my other pregnancies!!! 

I also have not been doing well with eating healthy... greens just turn my stomach right now. :|
BUT these homemade (as in I added milk to the Martha White mix, baked them, and added a powdered sugar glaze) blueberry biscuits were to die for!!! Who needs Bojangle's??!! These were so much better - light and fluffy and "melt in your mouth" goodness!

I still try to be somewhat health conscious...hence the wonderful combo of apples and crunchy PB with Tomato-Basil bread toasted with garlic butter. It was pickles and ice cream here! :)

 For real, though, I haven't really felt like doing much of anything but trying to manage these days (on the good days!)  My husband has been amazing, playing the part of "midnight elf" so that I can wake up to a clean house and clean laundry.

This Friday starts my 2nd trimester, and already the past few days, I've had a little more energy and "get-up-and-go."  But my poor Etsy shop....very thankful for patient customers!! Definitely gonna need the energy to keep up with holiday orders.

Oh, and if you know of anyone selling a Honda Odyssey for real cheap...
we'll be upgrading to a van soon!! :) Then I can be an "official" mom-on-the-go! 

Seriously, though, I'd certainly appreciate your prayers for a healthy pregnancy, safe delivery, and a healthy little one. 

Off to make lunch and then take a nap...!

Monday, September 10, 2012

K-4 Adventures - Our Homeschool Setup

So, I'm a little later than others with the school posts, but things have been really crazy around here. :)

I am homeschooling Titus for K-4 this year, and we are both super excited and love it! We took him shopping for supplies several weeks ago, and I was very happy with my finds.  We found some
"fat" pencils that are so much easier for him to manage. And I was also pleased to discover JUMBO crayons - and they seriously mean JUMBO! I've purchased large crayons in the past, but these are amazing.  We also got scissors with spring action to help him with learning to cut a straight line.
Additionally, he picked out a Spiderman notebook, folder, and coloring book, and some Batman pencils - typical boy!!!!

Taking him with me to shop really did help build his anticipation! He asked me literally every day for a week if we could start school. I still can't keep him out of his school supplies. 

You can see in this picture the size comparison of the crayons. From L-R JUMBO, Large, and "normal"

Part of the delay in starting was that I was waiting on my Ikea Expedit shelving. We planned a trip to Ikea for Labor Day so we could pick it up.  Titus was very excited to wake up the next morning to his "school room!"

Our School Room
FYI - the ITSO large fabric bins at Target fit the Expedit openings perfectly! I snatched these up on clearance for $2.48 each.

I also purchased the hanging rods and baskets and buckets from IKEA.  They definitely have cheaper versions, but since this room also functions as my piano teaching studio, I wanted a classier look.
The cute little picture frame stands are also from IKEA -  I snagged them on markdown for .99¢ each!!

Some Fun Details
I just love the clips for hanging his artwork! ♥

The paper roll is also from...surprise...IKEA! Can you tell we love the place?  I think this adds so much to the "school room" feel, and it's super fun! :)

While the room is function-able, it is definitely not finished.  I still need to make and hang the curtains and add some wall decor. I'd also like to add a brightly painted shelf above the rod on the shelving wall - just for a pop of color and some additional display area.

R- Colors I'll be using for decorations. I got the 8x10 frame on sale at Hobby Lobby for $10 - LOVE IT!!!!!!
L- I will be hanging teal curtains just like the ones in our family room. I snagged these table cloths on clearance at Target for $3.88 each and will just hang them as-is from curtain hooks.

I really love the flexibility of homeschooling. We are having a great time, and I love that I get to teach him! Today we discovered this spider on our front step, so after googling it, we had an unplanned science lesson. FUN!!

Daily Discoveries

 I'm hoping to post more updates on what we are doing this year in our K-4 adventures!!!
So stay tuned....

...but definitely don't hold your breath!!! :)

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