Winter Bucket List {plus a FREE printable}

Beating Wintertime Boredom--fun list of things to do as a family in the winter plus a FREE printable bucket list!

I’ll be honest: I don’t like winter.  I don’t like being cold.  In my ideal world, it would only snow on Christmas Day and then melt the next day.  Oh, and it would be 85 degrees outside at the same time.  I’m just a warm weather girl.  BUT don’t think that means that I don’t try my best to embrace the season and everything that comes with it.  I have a lot of wonderful memories surrounding winter: My husband and I met in the fall and dated during the winter.  Our first date was ice skating and hot chocolate.  We got engaged on New Years Eve.  So while I don’t like the cold, I do my best to bundle up in cute clothes and think about the things that make winter fun and magical.  Now that I have kids, I see how excited they get when they see the snow falling, put on their snow clothes and run and jump and play and lay down in it.  After all, I grew up in Utah and I still live here and there are some things that I actually love doing during the winter.

Before I had kids, I worked and went to school and did things with my husband and friends, and the winter seemed to go by fairly quickly.  Now that I am home with my kids full time, winter can seem really, really long.  The kids get antsy.  I get a little crazy.  It’s hard.  So to help get us through the winter months, I have learned to plan activities and events to look forward to.  Some are holiday related and others are simply winter activities.

So if your family is anything like mine, you’ll be needing a few fun things to make the time fly.  I’ve created a winter bucket list for you and–bonus: it’s a FREE printable!  Just click on the picture below and print it off.  Then hang it on your fridge and have fun checking the list off!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxRgDW3yUCnDMU5MYmRJX3U5RHc/view?usp=sharing

What else would you add to the list?

Happy {Day After} Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday!  I know we sure did.  I loved starting new traditions this year and we will definitely be continuing them for years to come.  One thing I especially love about these new traditions is that they can be used in any situation or circumstance and they can be adapted to your own family and resources.  You don’t need money or time to share what you’re thankful for.

My daughter has really enjoyed doing her “thankful leaves” every day and she has been a great reminder to me and my husband to do ours.  It was so neat to be able to hear what/who she was thankful for.  Our thankful tree really filled up fast, even with just three people to add to it, and seeing it each day in our front room filled me with happiness.

Our Book of Thanks turned out even better than I had imagined.  Everyone there was able to take a little bit of time throughout the day and write as few or as many words as they wanted about what they were thankful for.  I really enjoyed looking through it at the end of the day and I know it will be a treasure now and in the years ahead.  As I was putting it together, I decided to include the coloring pages my son, daughter and I did at the end of everything else.  I think it will be fun to see how their coloring skills change over the years.

Did you do a Thankful Tree or Book of Thanks this year?  What was your favorite part of your Thanksgiving celebration?

What I’m Thankful For

Today, I am thankful.

I am so incredibly grateful for all that I have and I have been given so much that I want to share with you the things that I am most thankful for…

–I am thankful for my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.

–I am thankful for my family, both immediate and extended.  They are a great support system in good and bad times. Due to my parent’s divorce, I don’t have just two sides, but three, which gives me more people to love and who love me.

What I'm Thankful For

What I'm Thankful For

What I'm Thankful For

–I am thankful for my husband.  He is thoughtful and caring.  He is a wonderful father to our kids and they adore him.  He works hard at his job during the day and helps me at home in the evening.  He’s also been so supportive of me and encouraging when I try new things, be it craft projects or hobbies or this blog.

What I'm Thankful For

–I am thankful for my two beautiful kids.  They bring so much joy into my life and the lives they touch.  I love that they are best friends and so sweet to each other.  They teach me how to be a better person.

What I'm Thankful For

–I am thankful for my friends.  I don’t have a lot of them that I’d consider close, but those that I do have are a great treasure to me and I’m grateful for their love and support, as well as the fun times we’ve shared.  They are the friends that you can jump right back into things with even when you haven’t seen or talked to them in ages.

–I am thankful for my health.  I am a generally healthy person and I don’t get sick hardly ever, which I count as a great blessing.

–I am thankful for my home and that it is a safe place for my family–a wonderful place where they can feel loved and where we can create happy memories.

–I am thankful for hard things because I learn about about myself and my strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve learned that I can’t do it by myself and that when I ask for help, I am surrounded by family and friends who love me and lift me.

-I am also thankful to you–my readers!  As much fun as it is for me to put these posts together, it makes it so much more meaningful to me when I know you are reading them.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you get to spend it with loved ones.

And remember…be thankful always, not just this time of year.  It’s so easy for the feelings of gratitude we feel during this season to be swallowed up in the excitement of Christmas.  I hope we can each carry a grateful heart with us throughout the year.

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities Round-Up

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner

One of the hardest things about Thanksgiving is the waiting.  Waiting for everyone to arrive.  Waiting for the food to cook.  Waiting for everyone to gather and get settled at the table.  And as hard as it is to wait as an adult, it’s even harder for kids!  So to help keep everyone happy, I’ve done a round-up of free Thanksgiving coloring and activity pages for all ages so you don’t have to do anything except print them out.  Just remember to bring the crayons.

The last couple of years, I’ve been keeping one or two of each kids pictures they color and saving them in our Book of Thanks as a fun way to see how their coloring and writing improves each year.  (Don’t have a Book of Thanks yet?  Check out my tutorial and make one for this year!)

*Note: All coloring pages can be printed out and given to children (or adults) but some may be better geared towards certain ages/interests.  I have included age groups for each coloring/activity page to help you decide which may be best for your family.  Just click on the link and it will take you to the site where you can print off your coloring and activity pages.

Coloring Pages
Thanksgiving Coloring Pages : 1+1+1=1 (younger kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Thanksgiving Doodle Coloring Page from 1+1+1=1

Thanksgiving Doodle Coloring Pages : 1+1+1=1 (older kids)
Pilgrim and Turkey Coloring Pages :  Nest of Posies (younger kids)
Fall Turkey Coloring Page : U-Create (younger kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving from Disney Family

Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving : Disney Family (younger/older kids)
Thanksgiving Color-by-Number (Toddler through 1st Grade) : 123 Homeschool 4 Me/Free Homeschool Deals (younger kids)
Pilgrim Color-by-Number : Teachers Pay Teachers (younger kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Turkey Color-by-Number from Simple Living Mama

Simple Turkey Color-by-Number : Simple Living Mama (younger kids)Turkey, Indians and Pilgrims Coloring Pages : Homemade Preschool (younger kids/older kids)
Turkey Color-by-Number : Nicole’s Free Coloring Pages (younger/older kids)
Cornucopia Color-by-Number : Nicole’s Free Coloring Pages (younger/older kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Harvest Pumpkin Coloring Page from Homeschool Encouragement

Harvest Pumpkin Coloring Page : Homeschool Encouragement (older kids/adults)
Leaf Mandala and Turkey Coloring Pages : Red Ted Art (older kids/adults)
Fall Leaves : Alisa Burke (older kids/adults)

Activity Pages
Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Thankful For List : Lil’ Luna (all ages)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Thanksgiving Cootie Catcher from Bren Did

Thanksgiving Cootie Catcher : Bren Did (all ages)
ABC Thankful For List : Written Reality (older kids/adults)
Thanksgiving Mad Libs for Kids : My Sister’s Suitcase (all ages)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Word Search and Maze from Reading with Kids

Word Search, Cross Word and Coloring Pages : Reading With Kids (all ages)
Coloring Page, Word Search and Thankful For List : I Should Be Mopping the Floor (all ages)
Mickey and Friends Activity Pages : Disney Family (younger/older kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving Placemat from Disney Family

Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving Placemat to Color : Disney Family (younger/older kids)
Thanksgiving Turkey Feathers Activity : Smarty Pants Fun (younger/older kids)

Happy Thanksgiving!

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

When it comes to home decor, I have a hard time committing.  I can find colors that I like, but figuring out the details can be challenging.  Or I find a knick-knack that I love but I’m not sure it’s the right fit for my house.  (This is probably partially due to the fact that I am still trying to nail down my own personal style.)  However, I do have a few items that I consider classic pieces.  One of these is hurricane vases.  I love them because I can easily change out what I put inside to match whatever decor I have up, whether seasonal or part of my everyday home decor.  There are various sizes, shapes and even colors to fit any style.

The unfortunate thing about hurricane vases is that they can be so blasted expensive, with prices ranging from $15-$100 and up depending on the size and material it’s made of.  Yikes!  I don’t have that kind of money in my budget so I started looking around.  Something I noticed is that the name of an item can affect its price.  If you search for “hurricane vase” online, you get higher prices than searching for “glass flower vase”, even if they look like the exact same thing.  And it got me thinking, “Where can I find cheap glass cylinder vases?” The answer is: the dollar store!

So off I went to the dollar store and I found exactly what I was looking for–short and tall glass cylinder vases– and I picked up two of each.  I had decided I wanted them up on a small stand so I also grabbed some glass candlestick holders to glue to the bottom, also from the dollar store.  I brought my purchase home and did a little research on the best type of glue to use for glass.  I’ve used various brands of super glue before on other projects, but not glass and I wanted to make sure the candlestick didn’t come off.  I also wanted the glue to dry clear.  The best solution I found was to use Loctite GO2 Glue.  I bought it at Walmart for about $4.  Armed with glass and glue, I was ready to start.

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

Before gluing the pieces together, I removed the stickers using Goo Gone, then wiped them clean of any residue and let them dry for a few minutes.

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

Then I opened the glue and gently squeezed it around the top part of the candlestick (see picture).  I was fairly generous without letting it get too goopy.  Then I turned the candlestick over and tried to get it as close to center as possible.  This particular glue has a repositionable time frame of 5 minutes so I didn’t stress out about getting it exactly in the right place the first time.  I basically just rotated the vase around and eyeballed it and moved it around until I thought it looked centered.  Then I repeated the steps on the other 3 vases/candlesticks.

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

The cure time for the glue I used is 24 hours, so after a few hours on the counter to let it set, I moved the vases to a more out of the way place to avoid getting them knocked over or touched by curious little hands.

*Note: If you use a glue other than the one I used, be sure to check the repositionable time, set time and cure time so you know how much time you are working with.

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

After the 24 hours were up, I turned the vases over and inspected my work and they looked awesome!  The glue dried clear and strong and they looked store bought rather than handmade.

Since I’ve got a Thanksgiving/fall theme going on at my house right now, I filled one small vase with popcorn kernels and a small votive candle.  The larger vase is filled with small pine cones.  I also tied some cute ribbon around my vases to add to the overall look and tie it into the theme.  When Christmas (or any other holiday/season) comes around, I will swap in something else.

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!
Want to make a burlap table runner?  Check out this tutorial!

Not sure what to put in your hurricane vase?  No problem!  I’ve compiled a list of ideas of items for both holidays and everyday decor.  They would also be great to use for parties and fill with treats or other items.  You can get a lot of these items from the dollar store!

Items to fill vases (Holiday)

  • Valentine’s Day: red cinnamon candy, conversation hearts
  • St. Patrick’s Day: plastic gold coins, rainbow candy (like Skittles)
  • Easter: Peeps, plastic eggs
  • Independence Day: flags, sparklers
  • Halloween: skulls, plastic rats, candy corn, anything you’d fill an apothecary jar with
  • Thanksgiving: popcorn kernels, acorns
  • Christmas: small ball ornaments, bells, cinnamon sticks, pine cones

Items to fill vases (Everyday)

  • Shells
  • Candle
  • Flowers
  • Potpourri
  • Plastic fruit, like lemons, limes or oranges
  • Sticks/Branches
  • Glass beads

Hurricane vases are so versatile and for a few dollars you can use them year round as part of your decor!

DIY Dollar Store Hurricane Vases--Use dollar store glass vases and candlesticks to make these inexpensive hurricane vases!

What do you like to decorate with year round?  Do you have other suggestions for what to put in hurricane vases?

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies

Pumpkin Gingersnaps--the perfect combination of pumpkin and spices.  I make these every year and everyone loves them!

My mom loves gingersnap cookies so I grew up eating them.  There is something about the ginger and the molasses together rolled in sugar that just makes me happy.  My mom also loves pumpkin pie and has been known to make it any time of the year so I grew up eating pumpkin pie year round.  I love the way that pumpkin and spices smell and taste together and it always reminds me of fall.  So when I stumbled upon this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod for pumpkin gingersnaps about four years ago, I knew I had to try them.  And let me tell you, I was not disappointed!  I’ve brought these cookies to many a holiday party and everyone loves them.  Even people who don’t like pumpkin or gingersnaps, like my brother-in-law, have requested them multiple times.  They are perfect for cookie exchanges, holiday treats or just something yummy to munch on at home.  I love that they are not your typical pumpkin cookie, but they still bring the warmth of pumpkin and spices into your holiday baking (and kitchen).

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

Let’s get started!

Here is what you’ll need to make these cookies:

Pumpkin Gingersnaps--the perfect combination of pumpkin and spices.  I make these every year and everyone loves them!

First, in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.  Then add the pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, soda, spices and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  The dough can be chilled for 2-3 days.  (One year, I made the dough the day before going out of town for Thanksgiving and just brought it with me in the cooler and put it in the fridge when we got to our destination.  So much easier than trying to bring all the ingredients with me!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the baking sheet with a silpat, parchment paper or a light coat of cooking spray.  I personally prefer using a silpat because it prevents the bottoms from getting overdone and makes removal super easy.  (I use the Miu brand.)

Pour some sugar into a small bowl.  (I used about 1/4-1/3 cup.)  Using a spoon, scoop about a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball.  Drop it in the sugar and roll it around until coated.  Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Pumpkin Gingersnaps--the perfect combination of pumpkin and spices.  I make these every year and everyone loves them!

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies look cracked and set on the edges.  Remove from oven and let cookies cool on pan for 2-3 minutes, as they will be very soft.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin Gingersnaps--the perfect combination of pumpkin and spices.  I make these every year and everyone loves them!

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies
  • 1/2 c. pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 c. molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.  Then add the pumpkin, egg, molasses and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, soda, spices and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  (The dough can be chilled for 2-3 days.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the baking sheet with a silpat, parchment paper or a light coat of cooking spray.  I personally prefer using a silpat because it prevents the bottoms from getting overdone and makes removal super easy.
  4. Pour some sugar into a small bowl.  (I used about 1/4-1/3 cup.)  Using a spoon, scoop about a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball.  Drop it in the sugar and roll it around until coated.  Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies look cracked and set on the edges.  Remove from oven and let cookies cool on pan for 2-3 minutes, as they will be very soft.  Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

*Note: I put my dough back in the fridge in between batches to keep it from getting too warm and spreading too much while baking.  It also creates more soft, dome-top cookies.  If you like your cookies more flat, then keeping it out of the fridge in between batches will allow them to spread out more during baking and will produce a slightly more crisp cookie.  It’s simply a preference, but either way is delicious!

Pumpkin Gingersnaps--the perfect combination of pumpkin and spices.  I make these every year and everyone loves them!

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as I do!

What are your favorite fall cookies?

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.

Today, like most days, I was straightening up the house—putting away toys, starting the laundry, cleaning off the counter—with my kids trailing behind me.  From the 3 (almost 4) year old: “Mom, what are we going to do today?  Where are we going to go?   Can I watch a show?  Can we do a project?”  The questions keep coming, like they do from curious preschool-aged kids.  And then there’s me, trying to answer the questions as they’re asked, still while trying to clean up: “I don’t know what we’re doing today.  We’re not going anywhere until the house is clean.   No, you can’t watch a show right now, I need you to help me clean up.  We’ll do a project when your brother’s asleep.”  Meanwhile, the 19 month old is pulling out all the toys I just put away and dumping blocks all over the floor.   Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

While browsing Pinterest one day, I found a little diagram that looks like this:

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.

And I laughed at the truth of it!

Do you want a clean house and your sanity?  Then forget having happy kids.

Happy kids and a clean house?  There goes your sanity.

Your sanity and happy kids?  No clean house for you.

Of course, we need to have all of these things at some point or another, but achieving them all at the same time can seem like an impossible task.

Here are some of the things I’ve found that help me:

Write it down  
I am definitely a task oriented person.  I like lists and I like checking things off my list.  I feel much more likely to do something if I’ve written it down, almost as though it makes me more accountable.  The times when I feel like I’m not getting anything done are generally the times when I’m not making my lists.   I think the reason this helps is because it gives you something you can actually see.  And then when you accomplish the things on your list, whether it is one thing or five, you feel good, which is positive reinforcement and you are more likely to keep doing it.  I talk all about how I use a paper planner to help me stay organized in this post.

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.
Take advantage of naptime  
Many days, when my kids lay down to take their naps, my initial reaction is to sit down for a minute and just breathe.  There isn’t anything wrong with this. In fact, breathing is good for you and kind of essential to your well-being! *wink*  But sometimes I sit down in front of my computer and start browsing my newsfeed or watching videos on YouTube, and the next thing I know, my kids are waking up and I’m feeling stressed out again.  Any kind of release I had is gone.  However, if I set a limit for myself, such as a certain amount of time browsing Pinterest or watching a couple of videos on Facebook, and then get up and do some of the things I’d rather not do, I feel like I get them done a little faster because I have regained a little piece of my sanity.

Accept offers for help  
This one is really hard for me.  I don’t like admitting that I can’t do it all myself.   But let’s stop and think for a minute.  How many times has someone offered to help you, and you could really use it, but you brush it off and tell them you’ll be fine?  I would guess that everyone has done this at some point and regretted not letting someone, who is truly willing, help out.  So the next time someone offers to help you, whether it’s by watching your kids for an hour while you run to the store or coming over to help with a project, take them up on it!

Ask for help  
Sometimes we can’t wait for someone to offer their help, so instead, we need to ask for it.   Just like accepting offers for help, it might be a little uncomfortable to ask someone for the help you need.  A couple of options to consider:

  1. You can pay for a sitter to come, maybe even on a regular basis, so you can get out of the house and run errands without your little people tagging along.
  2. You can work out a system with friends/family.   You watch my kids for an hour, I’ll watch yours for an hour on another day.  Win, win!

 

Finding the Balance Between a Clean House, Happy Kids and Your Sanity--great tips on how to find balance at home in these areas.

    Make it a game  
    Growing up, I remember having a regular list of chores that needed to be done before I could go out and play.  The faster I got them done, the sooner I could do the things I wanted.   Sometimes, if I was dragging my feet, my mom would turn on the stereo so the music filled the house and then me, my sisters and my mom, would dance around as we got our chores done.  It made it so much more enjoyable and created some fun memories too.   I still do this, both with my own kids and by myself.  (Grab your dish scrubber and sing your heart out, friend!)  Another thing we’d do is put a timer on and see how many of our chores we could get done before it went off.  It sounds a little Mary Poppins-ish, but it’s true!   If you can make something fun, it doesn’t seem like work and it will likely get done faster too.

    Find what motivates you  
    There have been days where it isn’t even lunch time yet and I’m counting down the hours until my kids go to bed.  On these days I find that I have to try extra hard to find the balance I need to make it through the day.  So I ask myself: What will motivate you?  What will help you move forward through the day?  It’s different from day to day.  One day I remember getting into my secret stash of chocolate–the really good stuff–and telling myself that I could have one piece at the end of each hour until my husband got home.  And guess what?  It worked!  Other days, it is knowing that I have my weekly dance class in the evening that gets me through the day.  Think about what motivates you and use it to your advantage.

    While I am far from perfect at doing these things all the time, I’ve found that when I do, the odds of my sanity staying in tact, a clean house and happy kids all happening at the same time is much more likely (at least for a little while!).

    What do you do to help keep balance in your life?