$6 letters from the North Pole

Hey friends,
I'll be taking a little break while I have family in town and celebrate Thanksgiving. I'll also be printing off my Letters from Santa and getting them ready to mail to North Pole Alaska for the cancellation stamp. Letters go out right after Thanksgiving for an early December arrival.  I know everyone is UBER sick of me yakking on forever about these letters.  Just a few more weeks.... I promise.  Keep reading my clever reasons why you should buy... hopefully I'll convince at least 12 of you.

WHY should you buy my Santa Letters?
  • They're a fantastic read if I may boast.  Each letter is very detailed about the goings on at the North Pole.  Did you know the North Pole has a clock tower and a Sleigh Shop?  Did you know Santa's rig was being fited with the latest in GPS gadgets?  Yup. 
  • They're meaningful.  The letters include a message from Santa about why we celebrate Christmas and urge kiddos to do service to honor our Savior.  They're a great way to combine Santa with the sacredness of the season.
  • They're convincing.  Do you have a skeptic?  Are you dying to limp your little skeptic along just one more year... you may get 2 or 3 with these letters.  Older kiddos can't refute the real North Pole cancellation stamp.  Science wins out... Santa sent evidence!
  • You're giving a memory.  We only have a few years to mark this little minds up with the most wonderful, magical, memories that they will cherish forever.  A letter from Santa for a child is a memory that will last.
  • They're personal.  Every letter is unique to your kiddo.  You provide all the convincing embellishments like place Santa will be flying to, things Santa is proud your kiddo did this year, toy suggestions, pet names, friends to say hi to, siblings to serve... this letter is personal and fun to read.
  • It will make me rich. (Enter shameless plug....)  Even moms have dreams of getting out of debt. We dream of financial security, sending kids on missions or to college and we dream of heaven.... a double size laundry room. Okay, it's out of the bag, I'm not independently wealthy.  I'm not a multi-million dollar heiress to a chocolate empire... though one can dream.  Nope.  I'm a mom.  I'm a dyed in the wool, stay at home, bread bakin', clothes makin', lunch tak'n bum spank'n mother of 6 trying to eek out grocery money and next months supply of pull-up undies for my nightime bed wetter. 

If you haven't ordered Santa Letters before, this is your year!  Just try it one year.  Letters are only $6 and will continue to go up as we get into December.  Most letters out there are $10-$20... crazy!  These letters are worth keeping affordable!

HURRY and order now so you can get in on the first shipment!!! 


Christmas Pillows... out of Placemats.

I've made purses out of placemats but what about pillows? Here are a few ideas that are SIMPLE to make. And of course, they're pretty cheap! I love fabulous frugal gifts and decor!
Wouldn't these make great Hostess gifts!
Get yourself some killer looking Christmas placemats. Kohel's sells Christmas placemats (often 50% off) and they're about $3. You can also try Big Lots, Walmart, and Target.

Aproach 1- sew 2 together and stuff with polyfill. WARNING... if any of you have a sewing machine that acts like a princess and is particular... she's going to be sad about thick seams... ya may wanna stock up on sewing needles. For all you fancy machine owners... ignore me and read on. Aproach 2- Only will work if the place mat has a lining on the back that is not attached in the center. ( You can test this by holding the front and back fabric and pulling.. do they come apart? GREAT!) Cut a slit on the end of the back side lining and stuff poly fill on the inside... sew up the slit!
If you don't want to give pillows...come back tomorrow for more ideas!

Oh... Last chance to order your Letters from Santa before I mail out my first shipment after Thanksgiving!  The first shipment will arrive at your home in the beginning of December. Prices are still low but go up as we get into December. Go check out all 8 of my letters and imagine how much fun it would be for your munchkins to have grown up mail come from the REAL North Pole, Alaska!


Thanksgiving Day Helps

I love gathering with my family for Thanksgiving Day.  While I look forward to visiting with relatives and eating fantastic food there are the moments that I try to rehearse in my head.... they involve hungry children- 6 of them, a well decorated house FULL of people( the house isn't mine), and nice dinnerware.... a combination that is sure to make any mothers heart fail.  And, if the mother's heart doesn't fail, the grand-mother, great-grandmother or OCD Aunt's WILL!

So how do you get the family together, let the parents talk, watch the kids, AND keep them out of the kitchen and away from the china?  Well, if you're my family, you give up on china.  My mother informed me we were having decorated paper plates over gold chargers... problem solved for me, no breakables... problem solved for her....less dishes!

Here are a few other links for crafs and things to keep your kiddos occupied during dinner prep.
Several Thanksgiving crafts, coloring pages, puzzles ect.  at Kaboose.com
Thankful Leaf pages... let your guests write what they're thankful for! Family Fun

Photo Pilgrim Napkin rings... featuring your family!  Let you kids put them together.

What do you do to keep your chipmunks under thumb for Thanksgiving Day?


Handmade Ornaments Friday Linky Boutique

Meet my new friend Elizabeth!  She is the designer and owner of her very own unique Christmas ornament esty store called EBornaments Elizabeth is an artist, as you can tell... love her Van Goegh.  It will be so pretty with Christmas lights shining through!

See the resemblance to Van Gogh's The Stary Night

Each of her ornaments is hand painted and truly is unique.  I'm fond of this one....

and this one....

and my kiddos would LOVE the fish.

As a mom, I have made a tradition to give each of my 6 children 1 ornament each year that is unique and their very own.  I won't pretend.. it's HARD to find unique ornaments... especially ones that are reasonably priced.

Elizabeth's ornaments are beautiful AND considering you are getting a hand painted one of a kind work of art, they're a scream'n deal.  She also is spreading the crafy love and has a tutorial for you HERE

Head over and see all of her creations at her Etsy store EBornaments or at her website EBornaments.com

Or just click on her linky below!  

Christmast Shopping this weekend?  The big day is eeking closer and I know you're looking for fantastic gifts.  Link up below if you'd like to sell something (on your blog or Etsy store) and if you're shopping, go check out these crafty ladies!


Charlie Brown Meets the Grinch... My Christmas Tree

WARNING!!! This post is not for the faint of heart!  It is ugly.  Really Ugly.  IF you're looking for eye candy, scroll down a few posts, or visit my other posts... or head over to the Nester or some other first rate home decorator because... this is terrifying.  and LONG...What?  You're still reading?  You asked for it!!
No, that is not a piece of barbed wire... that is the tip of one of my Christmas tree limbs... and they ALL look that way!  Every side of this tree should go towards the wall.
This is my tree.  If it looks like it's leaning a little, that's because it is.  Severely.  I used to call this our Charlie Brown tree... now it looks more like a bunch of the Grinch's fingertips stuck together.  Doesn't it?... LOOK at it!  THIS IS AN UGLY TREE!

AND, it's balding.  It's more like a deciduous than an ever green.  It's even losing it's limbs.

Of course, that might be from the year when the mice nested in it and the hubby vowed he could fix it (I secretly prayed it would be the end) and he hosed the thing down 3 times with bleach (I thought we'd have a turquoise tree!) and let it sit WET for days... then hosed it down again... thus the rusty tips.  I TOLD YOU this would get terrifying!  Yes, we're using an old un-smellied mouse nested tree!

I'm not sure where I went wrong.  It might have been when I started the tradition of letting my kids help decorate the tree.... to make memories.  This is how they make memories.

That's an ImagiNext guy.  We have a tree full of them....

and these.......

Yes, amid all the decorations-none of which match because I thought it would be another great memory to give my kids a different ornament each year that was unique to what they did that year.- We house our own Sherwood Forest.  AND each year I unpack the tree, I find a few Merry Men hanging out in the branches that were somehow attached too well to be shaken out like the rest of their gang the year before.

Oh yes... minus the beautiful ribbon (Thank you Costco for your 4.95 per 50 yards of wired ribbon) and the tree skirt, this is it.  Wires and all.  Every year I unpack this tree cursing and whining and dreading the event.  No pre-lit here.  We do this mess ourselves.  My kids hang the ornaments (we all draw straws for the lights...  just kidding...  I do them every year- Don't you just love those cords?  This year I finally passed off the duty to my son).

 It's not a beautiful tree by any means and I can't ever justify taking $200 out of our budget to go toward a beautiful tree that opens up as easily as an umbrella... I just can't.

Each year I curse this tree, but each year it works.  The kids are STILL excited to haul it out, decorate it, redecorate it, hide their "Guys" in it and redecorate it AGAIN.  And each year as I watch them content to play with our tree I think, "I can wait another year.  They'll only want to play with the tree for a short while, then I'll be trying to keep them home during the holidays instead of out with friends."  Sometimes beauty isn't what adorns the Palace rooms but what love and joy is found within them.  This Palace has beauty, and love, in the same room as the ugly tree... and somehow that tree isn't ugly any more... it's a beautiful memory.

Stay tuned because this year I'm going to the extreme to give this tree a face lift and hopefully another year of use, I just bought 6 cans of spray paint:) I'm spraying it red.


$15 Dresser Refinished... Finally!

Yes, I showed you this picture in May.  This has been a long time procrastinator project.  Somehow hauling out the primer and black paint took a back burner to the everyday schedule of life with my 'lil punk-a-noodles. Now this beauty sits in the corner of my bedroom.

Not bad for $15 eh?  See her sister in yellow?  I collect old dressers.  Truth: My new black dresser presently is empty.  It's missing the entire back of the cabinet and the drawers don't work... but it LOOKS fabulous.  I'm sure it will take me another 6 months to restore the drawer runners.  The husband gives me a sideways glance... why did I knock myself out for a broken dresser?

Why?  Because I needed black in that room to make it feel right.  I needed an upright substantial piece of non-working furniture for a mere $15 to take up floor space so I wouldn't have to vacuum in that corner.  And....?

....AND I'd steal horses for those knobs!  $15 dollars is chump change for handles like that!  I'm a sucker for a good drawer pull.

Now the room is balanced... though the dresser's not.  I can roll a marble right off the top.  Everything leans forward severely.  That's fixable too right!  Guess I should have closed that drawer all the way too.  Shameful.  No, this dresser isn't a waste of space.  It's great storage, even if I have to support the drawer when I pull it out.  I could keep plenty in them drawers:)

Now, I just need to finish this FREE dresser I rescued from bulk pick-up day on the side of the road.  No, the drawers don't work, but they will... in 6 more months!
Want to see more DIY projects? Go visit Kimba at her NEW home! or Wendy @The Shabby Nest for Frugal Friday! 


Friday Boutique... A Parade of Christmas Decor Themes

If you're thinking about decorating for Christmas... (my friend the Nester is decorating early to prepare for her deck the halls post:) then you might be considering new ways to spruce up your home for the Holidays.  I'm praying that a real artificial tree lands on my house and squashes my wicked excuse of an artificial tree and that the Good Witch of Christmas waves her magic wand and produces a tree that would make my munchkins dance and sing, "Ding dong the tree is dead..."  Don't believe me?

True story... this is my tree.  I'll tell you about it next week... or maybe never. Actually, this is a great picture of my free tree. It was free... us thrifty gals will suffer a lot for the sake of FREE.

One of the things I've learned after 14 years of marriage is that every person needs to find their own style of decorating for Christmas.  I'm still mulling mine over...

I love it when a room looks festive without decorations overpowering the senses.

I love rooms that make you go, "Hmm... I never thought of that for Christmas."  Blue and orange, starfishes in garlands, topiaries and toile...

I love it when the tree is the focus of a room.  Simple, stately, alive and inviting to gather around.

While I love the traditional colors of red and green and also am lured by the natural look (tans, whites, and winter nature scenes) I have enjoyed seeing other colors come into use during the holidays.  Now days Christmas decor is centered around what makes you happy, cheerful and festive.

What decor themes do you use to decorate with?

Okay ladies, if you're crafting, come link up and show us what you're selling this season!  If you're beginning to hunt down Christmas gifts for sister, moms, neighbors, and daughter... now is the time to get out your check book and visit the talented ladies of blogland and shop!   Happy Boutiquing my friends!  Don't forget to order your Christ Centered Letters from Santa HERE for $6!  Orders need to be in by Thanksgiving for an early December delivery!


African Nativity Cards

I love these Pictures.

They were sent to me from my parents in Uganda.

Last year they sent me a Christmas Card made of finely cut grass and leaves glued together to make a nativity scene. I {heart} these pictures!
I asked my mom to send me more so I could hang them up... we have a couple of beautiful brown daughters in our house and I wanted something that reflected that on my walls. Never mind that I can't take a decent picture to save this post...
I was trying to figure out how to put this ensemble together with what I had: 2 shadowbox frames, one black frame and a cheap plastic dollar store frame. I decided to glue a cheap dollar store frame ON TOP of the glass of the black frame. You're right, it's not straight- I don't care. It took me forever to center it this well... picture police, I'm guilty... bad lighting and pictures after 10pm... need I say more?
Ta-da!- A year round nativity of African art in my very girly office (which is such a mess from writing Santa's letters (and other things) that it's not able to be photographed.


A Veteran's Day Tribute to my Dad

Today we honor those who have served our country and put their very lives on the line to keep us free and oft times to preserve or fight for the freedom of others.  Every Veteran is a hero.  But my favorite Veteran is my Father-in-law.

My father in law is a quite man who has led a life of service as a soldier, father, grandfather, and now as a missionary.  My Father-in-law was an officer in the Army Special Forces... a Green Beret.  Dad served in Viet Nam and put his skill to use not only fighting but serving the people who he was fighting to protect.  He is a warrior for what is right no matter where he is... no matter who he's with.

Dad received a Purple Heart for saving his men at great cost to himself under enemy fire.  He was severely wounded and to this day has no feeling in parts of his hand and the scars to prove it... but he doesn't.  Dad is quiet and modest and has spent his life humbly serving God and his country.

He continues that service, only in Africa.  He's been serving the people of Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Sudan for 2.5 years with his dear wife.  We miss him terribly but are honored to call him Dad and Grandpa for the example he sets for our children.  Our lives are blessed because he has always put Faith, Family, and Freedom first.

This Veteran will never ask for a word of thanks nor ever call attention to himself.  He presides over our family and has set a standard for all 7 of his children and 19 of his grandchildren.  His greatest honor will be to see his children serve their God, Country and Families and live lives of service to their fellow man.

Happy Veteran's Day Dad.  We love you, we're thankful for your sacrifice and example and know the world is better because of you and people like you who defended the freedoms we enjoy.


Luxury Laundry Room... and unhealthy Longing

Every year about this time I start pining away for an expanded laundry room.  You can read about my other rant HERE... or HERE. Careful, the pictures will make you drool.  They'll make you want to stay in your laundry room. They'll make you want to go buy a can of paint and whip that laundry room into the oasis you wish it were.

Just before my laundry crawled down the stairs I ran... FAST.  I just barely made it into the office so I could write this post!  Whew!  Right now as we speak there are socks that are squeezing themselves under the office door ... no they don't match.

With family coming in for the Holidays how do you keep laundry under control?  Well, here in this house, on good days... when I've had enough chocolate, sleep, and chocolate, I DO have a system.  I keep our family of 8 under control with personal buckets, cold water and NO SORTING... with few exceptions.

Curious?  Yes, it's crazy and desperation is the mother of inspiration so you have to be completely bonkers to think, "Hey, wait, I don't have to pair these socks... and my boys can fold their own shirts.."  Yes, the results do produce more wrinkles than the standard method BUT it also yields responsibility, and sanity.

Now, if you're dying to find more hours in your day you can check out my laundry method.  It doesn't turn your laundry room into this picture of laundry bliss but it makes you sane and gives you a little more time to appreciate the finer things in life...

... finer things like chocolate, good movies, snuggling with the kids, a good book, or just plain 'ole "being free from the laundry!"
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