Santa’s Little Helper – Christmas Folder

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas or any other holiday you may celebrate! We had a great Christmas at my in-laws house and the kids handled all of the chaos pretty well!

My new goal of having a folder for every major holiday continues. This year, I have already made one for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Now it’s time for the Santa’s Little Helper Christmas Folder! Now this one isn’t completely put together yet. This has been an incredibly busy holiday season so I plan on doing the final touches once all of the holidays are over. However, I’ve been gathering some great ideas from blogs, Pinterest, magazines, etc and will have a great reference for next year.

There are a couple differences between the Christmas folder and the other ones. For the Halloween folder, I included party ideas since we started hosting a Halloween party this year. We don’t have a Christmas party, so I don’t have a section for that. In the other two folders, I also have sections for Kid’s Craft and Adult Crafts. I definitely have a Kid’s Craft section in the Christmas folder. However, instead of the other craft section, I have a bunch of miscellaneous topics, such as ornaments, advent calendars, gift wrap etc. There are so many different Christmas ideas, I needed to separate them into more categories.

I did keep the decorating sections and have split them into inside and outside decorations. I have split up the food into the following categories: desserts, appetizers, entrees.

Here are a few pictures of the book in progress. I created the section title pages in powerpoint.

Christmas Folder jpeg 4

 

Christmas Folder jpeg 3

Christmas Folder jpeg

And you can find my Christmas Pinterest ideas here. Here are just a few of the ideas I found on there so be sure to check out the Pinterest album for all of the links!

Advent Calendar 5 Appetizer 3 Card Holder INside Decor 3 Kids craft 4

I’m so glad I started these books. They help me to organize thoughts and ideas and also help me remember things that worked great. I also store them with their respective decorations so they don’t take up valuable shelf space year round and they are always with the ridiculous amounts of stuff for each holiday. I can’t wait to use them again next year!

And I can’t go without sharing one of my absolute favorite pictures from this Christmas season:

My Sweetest Boys

My Sweetest Boys

Happy Holidays!

~Erin

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Adding Joy to Every Room

For this month’s edition of Collectively Creative (dreamed up and hosted by Kelly over at Cobwebs, Cupcakes and Crayons), the theme is Joyful.

The Joyful Edition Logo 2012

I decided to take a non-Christmas approach to this theme and talk about adding JOY to every room in my house. So much of my time is spent organizing and cleaning and doing all of the things that NEED to get done. Often, I forget about little things that can make life oh-so-sweet and don’t take a lot of time, money or energy. So I decided to add something that makes me happy or brings a smile to my face in every room of my house. Here are just a few!

~Switching out the soap bottles on my kitchen counter

This one seems almost too basic to bring me actual joy, but it does bring me a little. 🙂 This is what I have always had sitting next to my kitchen sink:

IMG_8047Booooring, right? It was efficient and easy and didn’t take up to much space, but it was nowhere near pretty. I just wanted something simple to replace these, so I found relatively cheap plastic bottles to use.

IMG_4905I put them on a little tray I already had and put a napkin underneath to catch any drips. Soon I’m going to make cute labels for the bottles. This is a simple switch, but I love how it looks and everything is very easy to clean. It makes me smile just a little when I do the dishes. Everyone could use that, right?

~Dressing up the dresser.

I also wanted something decorative and useful on the dresser in our bedroom. Before, we had a little jar we used to collect change. I loved the jar, but it was so lonely sitting there by itself.

Lonely Little Change Jar

Lonely Little Change Jar

Again, I just shopped my house for decorative friends for the jar. I found a candle which was going unused in the dining room along with some polished river rocks I had.

IMG_4909 IMG_4919I put the rocks on the tray around the candle and brought them upstairs. I brought up a small plant that was also sitting in the dining room. Here is what the corner of our dresser looks like now:

IMG_4923I love how it looks! It so nice to have a plant in the room and it’s the perfect touch of green. The bonus is that it doesn’t take much water or light so it’s very easy to take care of. I’m not known for my green thumb. I also love candles, but only have them lit when I’m in the room. Now I can light a candle while I’m upstairs reading or watching tv. I love that this project adds a little light and life to that corner of our room…for free!

~Nesting in the office

A while back, my mom got me a box of 4 little decorative nests. I’m assuming this was because I had just started Neaten Your Nest and they caught her eye.

IMG_4870They are adorable, but I had no idea what to do with them for the longest time. Then I decided it was time to display at least a couple of them. I bought a shadow box (1/2 off at a craft store) and decided to cover the back of the box with some burlap I’ve had for months that was just waiting for a project.

IMG_4873I hot glued the burlap to the backboard and then hot glued 2 of the nests to the burlap. I reassembled the shadow box and now it’s a super cute decorative accent.

IMG_4877

Reasons I love this project:

-I had most of the materials on hand already, so it was super cheap.

-It’s adorable!

-It says a lot about me. The nest goes along with my business and blog, I love the comforting colors and the rustic nature of the materials, and I did it myself.

These 3 simple projects are helping to add a little joy to my home. It’s amazing how many simple projects can bring happiness and make life easier. What small things can you do around your home to bring you joy every day?

Now add a little more JOY to your blog reading and check out the other bloggers participating in this round of Collectively Creative!

Framing Christmas PJs – (Cobwebs, Cupcakes & Crayons)
J-O-Y to the World – (Pillows A-La-Mode)
How To Display Christmas Cards – (Organized Living Essentials)
The Spirit Of Christmas – (A Ponytail Kind Of Day)
Wrapped In Christmas Lights (Happy Little Kiwi)
Sharing Joy – (Gentle Stitches)
The Joy Of Discovery – (Love, Laughter and a Touch Of Insanity)

~Erin

Winter House Prep

Winter arrived late in Colorado this year. We had beautiful 60 degree days until just a couple weeks ago. So we were pretty late with our winter house prepping, but we got it done. We have a lot of outside projects that we like to complete before the cold sets in. We clean our grill and bring it into the garage storage closet. We fill up our wood racks on the deck.

Porch (1) Porch (5)Then we sweep the decks, shake off the doormats and wipe away any spider webs, etc from the porch.

Porch (6)We also have a bunch of patio furniture that we obviously don’t use in the winter.

PorchWe store the cushions in our shed during the winter so they don’t get wet or damaged. This year we did it just in time. A couple days after we did our outside winter projects, the snow set in.

IMG_8015IMG_8016It’s barely gotten above freezing since so now we’ll focus on keeping the inside clean. This is no easy task when you have 2 kids, 3 dogs, muddy boots and a wood burning stove. However, we love having a roaring fire and staying cozy with the family.

There are also other seasonal projects that still need to be done, such as changing out our water and humidifier filters. On my House Cleaning List, I have some of these projects listed. I also need to add a couple to my list, such as change the smoke detector batteries, which we’ve already done this year.

We have also recently gotten oil changes in both vehicles, gotten our 60K maintenance on my awesome minivan and got some new tires on the same awesome minivan.

It’s important to keep track of the things you need to do seasonally or annually to keep your house and belongings in good condition. With regular maintenance, your home, appliances, vehicles and more can stay in great shape.

Are there things around your house you’ve been putting off? Time to cross them off the list!

Wrapping Presents

I don’t love to wrap presents. I don’t even like to wrap presents. But sometimes you need to wrap them so here are my tips!

-I keep all of my wrapping paper in two shallow under-the-bed storage boxes. I have one for Christmas wrapping items and one for everything else. I literally just throw everything in there because they are so shallow that it’s pretty easy to find everything.

Wrapping Paper (5)

-As of this Christmas, I now have a pair of scissors and a roll of tape in each of the boxes so when I need to wrap something, I have everything I need right there.

-I also re-use every single bow and bag so that I don’t have to buy new ones every year. I usually buy one new roll of wrapping paper every Christmas and maybe some gift tags, but otherwise I don’t really have to buy anything else. I figure I spend enough on gifts…the last thing I want to do is tap out the bank account on frilly bows and Sesame Street wrapping paper. I just put the bows back in the original bag they came in.

Wrapping Paper (3)

I also save the larger bags on the bottom of the storage box and all smaller bags get combined into a medium size gift bag:

Wrapping Paper (2)

-I maximize the value of my wrapping paper purchases by shopping at discount stores or taking advantage of after Christmas sales to stock up for the following year. I also keep an eye out for double sided paper that allows you to have 2 different patterns from one roll of paper. These usually aren’t the cheapest but it saves on space and gives me more options when wrapping gifts.

Wrapping Paper (4)

Now some people absolutely love wrapping gifts. I can’t even tell you how many amazing ‘wrapping stations’ I’ve seen on Pinterest and other blogs and I have to admit I’m kind of jealous. I would actually love to be one of those people who buys cute little jingle bell embellishments and coordinates the different papers so that each present compliments the wrapping of the others. But I’m not. An example…we have a weird shaped and bulky gift for our 3 year old this year. While some people would seek out a large box to wrap or find a gigantic gorgeous gift bag, I grabbed a black trash bag and stuffed some tissue paper in the top of it. Seriously….

Wrapping Paper (1)My husband actually taped some wrapping paper on the outside of the bag after I took this picture, but still….

So you can see that wrapping presents is not my thing. But since I don’t like it very much, that is all the more reason to have ways to make it easier.

How do you make gift wrapping and shopping a little easier and more organized???

~Erin

 

Pre-Christmas Cleaning

With all of my Christmas listing and Projects around my house right now, I don’t want to let cleaning go by the wayside. I’ve been trying to keep up with my regular cleaning using my House Cleaning Schedule, which can be difficult this time of year. There are so many added events around the holidays and we’re short on time already. However, if I let the house cleaning slide, I get frustrated and let’s be honest….a little crabby. So today I decided to do some regular cleaning such as vacuuming and dusting and then throw in a slightly bigger project…..clean the dishwasher. Now I know that sounds redundant…why should you clean a dishwasher? It’s like cleaning soap.

However, there is always some calcium build up, possibly a little rust and perhaps food particles that didn’t get washed away with everything else. We have VERY hard water so the build up is more than normal. I wanted to clean with a natural product, so I used vinegar, which is what I clean almost EVERYTHING with. Here are the steps:

-Since I had never used vinegar in my dishwasher before I first checked the manual to make sure it was safe to use in there (some brands can have pieces that are sensitive to something so acidic). Sidenote: I keep my manuals in a large binder in the pantry. Whenever I need to reference one, they are all in the same place and close at hand.

Dishwasher (1)

-Then I took the bottom dish basket out of the dishwasher. The top one is actually screwed in and I didn’t want to mess with it, so it just stayed. I wiped both baskets down with a paper towel and vinegar.

-Then I took the spinny thing (technical term) out of the bottom of the dishwasher. It unscrewed by hand and came out completely for easy cleaning.

Dishwasher (2)

I found a wayward purple spoon underneath this spinny thing.

Dishwasher (3)I wonder how long that had been there….

Anyways…you can see some calcium build up on parts of the arm that spins.

Dishwasher (4)

I tried to wipe it off and then chipped a little off with a toothpick but it was still there. So I sprinkled some baking soda on it and then poured a little vinegar on. It was my own teeny tiny version of the volcano we all made as children and then the mess wiped right off. Yea!

Dishwasher (5)

I took the 3 small parts I had removed from the dishwasher and swirled them around in a little vinegar to clean them up.

Dishwasher (6)Then I put everything back into the dishwasher. And I have to admit that even though I was taking pictures and being careful about keeping things in order, I still had to lug the manual back out to determine exactly how these little pieces went back in.

Dishwasher (7)Then I cleaned the inside edges of the door with my vinegar and a little baking soda where it needed it. I tried to scrub really well around all of the seals.

Then I filled a plastic container with about a cup of vinegar and put it in the top rack and closed it up. I hit the ‘quick cycle’ button because everything I read said that this was long enough for the vinegar to clean the dishwasher. While the cycle was going, I cleaned the outside of the door. I did this with my other favorite cleaning tool….Mr. Clean Erasers. These are the best!

After the cycle was finished, I had a sparkling clean dishwasher!

Dishwasher (9)Dishwasher (8)I plan on doing this more often and it will take even less time in the future since I hopefully won’t need to reference the manual. Next I plan on tackling the washer and dryer, so keep an eye out for tips!

~Erin