Friday, September 30, 2011

{christmas} Day 5: Lovely Ladies

Welcome to Day #5 of my Handmade Gift Giving series!  I hope it has been helpful to you and given you a few ideas as you make your Christmas lists in the coming months.  It has been such a fun week and I have enjoyed finding beautiful things to share with you!  So much so, that I'd like to share a new adventure I'm undertaking: offering my super Gift Finding services to you

I love finding unique gifts...the ones that don't scream, "I just ran into the mall and grabbed something."  I'm sure you can understand.  Unfortunately, the search for just the right thing requires time, which many of us have very little of!  Here's where I come in: you give me a little information about your recipient and I'll take care of the rest!  In a few days' time, you'll receive a picture file in your inbox, much like the ones in my Gift Giving Series.  Links and a few packaging ideas will be included too!  Then you'll just have to sit back, buy and pay!  So easy and stress-free! 

If you're interested, please click on the button on my sidebar and get in touch with me!  I'd love to hear from you!

So back to today's grouping...perfect for all the ladies in your life!  My recipient for this group would be a fashion forward woman who loves to dress up and feel beautiful. 

Twisted Pearl Necklace, Gold Bracelet, Capelet Dress, Ruffled Purse, Art Print, Gold Ring Layered Necklace

An idea for boyfriends and husbands:  You can really pick any of these options and pair it with a gift card to her favorite restaurant.  Then write a handwritten note (certainly never typed!), inviting her to dinner and asking her to wear the enclosed _____ (the dress, necklace, etc).  So romantic and thoughtful...she'll think you're quite the catch!

Have a great weekend, friends!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

{christmas} Day 4: Little Pink Cowgirl

Welcome to Day #4 of my Handmade Gift Giving series!  I had so much fun with today's theme...I don't get to see pink very often around here!  :)

Necklace, Skirt, Hobby Horse, Lovey, Art Print, Booties
A few ideas for pairing these gifts:
  • Have a little baby girl on your list?  Pair the "lovey" blanket (which you can even customize with her name!) with the booties for a super sweet gift!
  • Make a "Cowgirl Kit" with the hobby horse and skirt, but be sure to find a pink cowgirl hat to include too!
  • Frame the art print, wrap in kraft paper and tie with fun pink ribbon. 
  • For a cute girlfriend gift, you can pair a necklace with this adorable "Cowgirl Cookie" mix:

Works for big girlfriends and little girls alike!  :)

Come back tomorrow for Day #5!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

{christmas} Day 3: Your Little Superhero

Welcome to Day #3 of my Handmade Gift Giving series!  Today's theme is for those little boys in your life!  In my home, super heroes are a really big deal. And although I was clueless at first, I can now name the members of the Justice League with the best of them!  haha

Seriously though, super heroes are a great way for little boys to learn about good and evil, about being chivalrous, and about kindness and generosity to others.  And for this mamma, all of those are a good, good thing. 

Peg Dolls, Cape, Buckets, Superhero Lightning Bolts, Lunchbox, Mask
Packaging ideas:
  • Pick out a few of your little guy's favorite Super Friends and package them in the lunchbox.  I love using lunchboxes as storage because they are sturdy and are easy to transport!
  • Make a "Super Hero" kit with the cape, mask and lightening bolts and package them in a personalized bucket.  The buckets pictured above are small and party favor sized, but the concept is universal!  Find a plain bucket (I believe places like Hobby Lobby have them, but also look at hardware stores) and decorate with his favorite Super Hero symbol. You can even just do his initial!
I love having packaging that can also be used again, especially with kids.  When you package a gift in a lunchbox or bucket, they can also easily be used for storage and organization, and can't we all use a little more of that!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

{christmas} Day 2: Tea Time!

Day #2 is for all of the tea-drinkers on your list!  So many cute finds!

Honey, Art Print, Tea Cups, Teapot Necklace, Tea Wallet
Pick two or three of these options and you'll have a sweet gift for a friend or a loved one.  Here are a few ideas:
  • Pair the handmade teacup with a few of your favorite teas.  Take the bags out of the box, tie a handful with pretty ribbon and place inside the cup. 
  • Tuck a few teabags into the wallet.  Stuff a little of shread/crinkle paper inside the cup and then tuck the wallet inside. 
  • Have the print framed (you can find inexpensive frames at Ikea and Hobby Lobby).  Wrap with kraft paper and twine and then include a note and tuck one of your favorite teas inside the card. 

 Kraft Bag, Tea Box

Packaging Ideas:
  • Any of the teacup ideas would look darling in these kraft bags with the window on the front.  Just finish with a label or some washi tape and you are good to go!
  • For a more expensive option, but one that would definitely become a family heirloom, look into the tea box.  Gorgeous!

Monday, September 26, 2011

{christmas} Day 1: Spread a Little Holiday Cheer!

Welcome to Day #1 of my Handmade Gift Giving series! 

It's never too early to think about Christmas, especially if you are hoping to buy handmade.  So all this week, I'll be sharing a bunch of finds in the hope that you'll get some great ideas for all those people on your list! 

Spreader, Tags, Muslin Bags, Jam
Today's idea is a great "go-to" gift and is appropriate for so many people: neighbors, would even be a cute teacher gift.

There are so many options for different flavored jams on etsy, but here are a few other ideas:
  • Share your own homemade jam from your garden's bounty
  • Use local jam or even jam made from your state
  • Wrap up your very favorite jelly or one that you use often
Packaging ideas:
  • Add a gift tag with some colorful ribbon around the cap.  The handstamped copper ones above are adorable, but any tag will do!  My favorite ribbon is grosgrain...this one is cute, but there are many affordable options at places like Hobby Lobby and Michael's. 
  • Add a spreader to your jar by simply tying it directly into the bow.  I love the ones with a cute phase stamped into it.
  • You can then gift as is or place the jar into a little muslin bag for added surprise!
To make your gift more personal, include a recipe card with a favorite way you use the jam (over cream cheese, spread on a toasted piece of homemade bread, etc). 

Come back tomorrow for Day #2! 

Friday, September 23, 2011

{learning} The Story about Ping...(and a little about China too)

Wow, I cannot believe we've finished another unit already!  The past two weeks, we have learned all about Chinese culture and ducks.  The Five in a Row book we've been reading is The Story about Ping.

Watching "Big Bird in China" on the laptop

These were the books we read:
I'm really enjoying spreading out each book for two weeks.  My "formal" lesson plans are brief (only lasting us maybe 45 minutes), but we usually always engage in some sort of impromptu art or math lesson afterwards.  I think that is what I love most about homeschooling - we have the freedom to further explore anything we want.  We aren't bound by standards and lists! 

Acting out the poem, "5 Little Ducks"

Tangrams...this was a big hit!

Inspired by another blog, I made a "Search and Find" using Scrabble letters and beans.  M dug around and found the letters that matched the words on his sheet.
Science experiment to see how ducks use oil to stay waterproof

We learned a little about the Chinese New Year and made dragons

A peek into our lapbook

Our "Art Gallery" all decked out with crafts!

I separated our learning into a little Chinese culture and a little discovery into the world of ducks.  For China, we made flags, wrote our names in Chinese characters, learned all about the Great Wall of China, and even tried out a few phrases in Chinese!

We incorporated a lot of science into our mini duck unit and I even learned a thing or two!  Did you know that ducks take oil from a gland and spread it all over their feathers, so when they dive in the water, they are waterproof?  I must have missed that in elementary school!  

Tonight we are headed to a Chinese buffet and if the weather's nice, we may hit the walking trail to see if we can find any ducks at the pond. 

Next up on our trip around the world: Italy! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

{etsy finds} Adorable Gift Tags from Fresh Lemon Blossoms

It's time to talk about packaging!  Last year during the holidays, I challenged myself not to buy anything new - I made myself use up my stash of old wrapping paper and ribbons.  It was so hard to do as I looked longingly at all the beautiful aisles of paper and trims in the stores, but I'm loving the decision now!  This year, I can start fresh!

I stumbled upon the shop, Fresh Lemon Blossoms, and immediately loved her gift tags.  Take a peek at some of my favorites:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

I love all of the little details, especially the glitter!  Wouldn't they look awesome paired with just solid wrapping (or kraft paper!)?  Shop here.

P.S. I've had a little Gift Giving series in the works here at the Big White Farmhouse and I'm excited to say that it's ready to go!  So be sure to come back all next week for lots of handmade gifts ideas for everyone on your list! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{reminder} My Life Goals

I love this print and am definitely putting it on my wishlist!  You can find it here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

{ramblings} On Motherhood

Motherhood gets such a bad rap in today's society.  In an age that is so self-serving, the thought of putting someone else's needs before your own is just...well, crazy!  But I'm here to tell you that motherhood is the most worthwhile job you'll ever have.

Don't get me wrong...staying home with your babies isn't always sunshine and roses.  There are definitely fussy days, grouchy days, downright "I'm counting the minutes until bedtime" days.  But if you seek with eyes searching for the good, I promise you that you will always find something.  Maybe it's that your little one hugged you for no reason.  Or you went a day with no sibling bickering, or they all took naps at the same time!  Maybe one of your babies made you laugh so hard, and you couldn't believe something so funny came from someone so small! 

Motherhood is a wonderful gift and I think that instead of grumbling about everything we're "giving up" by having children, we should embrace all that this new adventure has to offer.  

Fellow mammas (and fellow future mammas!), please know that you have a friend praying for you, rooting for you and challenging you to be the best mother you can be. 
A link that has helped and inspired me:
Ann Voskamp's free printable of 10 Points for Joyful Parenting.  I actually have it printed out and taped to my kitchen cabinet right now.  My two favorites: "Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child's behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child."  and "Today I will laugh!....I will create a culture of JOY!"  Such wise, wise words and ones I definitely want to incorporate more in my life as a mother.

Monday, September 19, 2011

{in the kitchen} Another Cooking "Experience" with the Boys

Cooking with my kids isn't just cooking, it's definitely an experience.  After the apple cake day, I should have learned my lesson, but oh no!  Wild and crazy Mamma did it again!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Last weekend, when my dad came over, I made him No Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Chocolate Truffles for his "Sweet Treat of the Month".  (That was my birthday gift this year to the man who has everything...I make him a special sweet every month, package nicely and send it his way.  It's been a great way to try out some new recipes!) 

M was dying to help, but I ended up waiting until after he went to bed to make them and he was pretty disappointed.  So, in another one of my "Hey!  Let's change things up and be spontaneous!" moods, I surprised him with a second round of chocolate truffles.  To say they were excited would be an understatement! 

And OH. MY. WORD.  Another cooking experience for the books.  I couldn't help but laugh and take pictures of this craziness. 

Look at that concentration!

 M was in chocolate dipping heaven, while D (who hates all things messy) sat there and immediately ate his hard work.  They weren't pretty, but they tasted pretty good!  

Here's the original post with a much prettier picture:

Friday, September 16, 2011

{i want to remember} - 9/16/11

Sometimes life gets so busy that I forget to notice and appreciate the little things.  Here are some of the things I am loving this week:

I WANT TO REMEMBER... the daily rhythm we've created with schooling at home.  The boys ask to "do school" almost as soon as I wake up, so we usually start right after breakfast and cleanup.  Who knew school at 6:30am could be so fun?  It should be interesting this winter when it's still pitch black outside!  :)

I WANT TO REMEMBER... D's silly resistance to seasonal wardrobe change.  Every spring, he tries to pull his new shorts down to cover his ankles.  Every fall, he hates long pants.  This morning, we had our first battle of wills for the new season...and I'm proud to say I won.  (EDIT: Just found his pants hidden on the floor.  And that boy strikes again...)

I WANT TO REMEMBER... fun family traditions being created.  A new bakery opened up in town, so every Friday evening, we've been heading out for ice cream cones.  Definitely a great way to start a weekend.  

I WANT TO REMEMBER... how I felt when I watched my baby walk his first steps to his big brothers.  The joy on the big boys' faces as they hugged and cheered was pretty much the greatest thing ever. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

{christmas} I'm Dreaming of a Handmade Christmas

It's Christmas planning time around here.  I know, I know....right now, you're either thinking, "Wow, she's crazy!  That's months away!  Can't we just enjoy fall?" or "Hmm, she's so smart.  I should start my list too."  HAH, just kidding on the last one. 

Fall is such a busy time for our family with birthdays and anniversaries, so planning this time of year just flows naturally for me.  I'd like to share a little of my Christmas "process" with you...

First of all, I don't think it needs to be said that I love etsy.  There are so many wonderful things out there and I am constantly bookmarking items for Christmas.  That being said, if you are interested in a personalized or custom item, you really can't wait until December to order it.

My first tip: If you want to order something custom made on etsy, order now!  

This was my first Christmas purchase of the year: Crayon Wallets!  

I knew I wanted something special for the boys that I could keep in my purse when they needed to be quiet (church, restaurants, waiting rooms, etc.)  These crayon wallets were perfect!  I ordered mine from a new shop called Delva B. Tree.  I inquired about a custom wallet and Stacy was so friendly and helpful.  She has a lot of adorable boy fabrics to choose from too!  I highly recommend her!

Stay tuned for many more Christmas's to a stress-free holiday season!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

{in the kitchen} Enjoy the Last Days of Summer with Caprese Sandwiches & Salads

I do believe I was living under a rock until my dear cousin (and baby J's godmother) introduced me to a culinary wonder: Caprese Sandwiches!  Incredibly easy to make and they look gorgeous when entertaining.

So in honor of the last few days of summer, here are a few variations that I just love!  I'll be keeping these in mind for my next get together! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

{family} A Field Trip to the Apple Orchard

A perfect day for picking apples and being with family.  We've gone to this orchard every year on Grandparent's Day/Opening NFL Weekend since M was a baby.  And I must say, it was surreal this time to watch my two oldest.  Giggling together with some conversation only brothers can understand.  Walking like "big boys", needing no helping hands.  Playing "tag, you're it" and races across the big, open field. 

I love being their mamma. 

And baby J's too of course!  He wore the obligatory Cowboys jersey in honor of his Daddy's favorite team.  Our third sweet baby boy to do so!  He's been teething, so he wasn't very interested in all the apple excitement and preferred to snuggle up to either his Meme or Poppa instead.

We all had so much fun.  Now to find a yummy recipe for apple pie.... 

Friday, September 9, 2011

{learning} How to Make an Apple Pie & See the World

Today marks the end of our first two week unit!  To catch up all of you new readers, we decided to do PreK at home this year using Five in a Row.  I chose it primarily because it felt like a gentle beginning to school.  I can include lots of extras or we can simply snuggle together on the couch and talk.  

I decided to focus this year on an "Around the World" theme since M is such a fan of different countries.  I chose stories from the first two volumes that fit with the theme and just went from there.  I have spread each book/country into two week units, so we can fully enjoy each place.  And How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World seemed like the perfect place to begin!

Here are some of the details about what we did and learned.  I apologize ahead of time for the horrible pictures...the boys wake me up each morning around 6:30 and hurry through breakfast, so we can "do school!"  So I hope that explains the lack of natural lighting and pajamas!  :)

(Also, if you are a fellow "FIAR"-er, please check my Pinterest for tons of ideas!)

Our "Art Gallery"

Our two big projects were a "life-size" apple tree and re-creating the lion from Ten Apples Up on Top!  The boys love to paint so they were super excited about both activities.  The lion head was all M's idea, right down to the pipecleaner curls.  He's so creative - I learn so much from him! 

A peek into our lapbook...
The books we read:
I was afraid two weeks of apples might be too much, but we actually enjoyed all two weeks' worth of activities!  We made apple prints, had a taste test with 4 different types of locally grown apples, made homemade applesauce and apple cake, created a lapbook, and even made our own playdough (scented with cinnamon and spices, so it smelled like apple pie!)  

Our field trip for this book will be our annual Grandparent's Day/Opening NFL Weekend apple picking trip with my parents.  We've been going every year since M was a baby.  The boys are so excited and I am too!  We still need to make an apple pie!   


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

{chit chat} Recap Part Two

Unrelated to the post, but I thought it was good food for thought...

So...I forgot a few things I wanted to include in yesterday's post!  I'm going to blame it on my crazy caffeine withdrawals.  I am trying (for the third time this year!) to kick my diet soda habit and get those artificial flavors/colors out of my system.  But wow!  I had a killer headache for most of the day!  We'll see how today goes... 

Anyway, here is the recipe we used for the bread in the bread machine:
Oatmeal White Bread (in the bread machine)
1 1/4 cups milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup oats
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Warm the milk in the microwave, so it's barely warm when you touch it (for me, it was about 30 seconds).  Put the ingredients in the machine as recommended in your directions (mine says liquids first, then dry, then yeast).  Set your machine for 1.5lbs, LIGHT crust, and Basic/White Bread.  Press start and wait until it beeps!  

Side note: I actually bribed my children with the first slice of bread for whoever picked up their toys the fastest.  And it worked!   

WEARING.  I can feel fall approaching and I am so excited to pull out the sweaters and jeans!  I just ordered a few things from Lands End Canvas and was really pleased with the quality.  Have you ever ordered from them?  

REMEMBERING.  Another fun find from another blog was  Easily accessible from your smart phone, it's a way to journal and can be used for many things: a food diary, record of what you did that day, etc etc.  I decided to use it as a gratitude journal.  I get a reminder e-mail everyday at 4PM, so I never forget.  And the coolest part is that at some point, I have the option of printing out or having a book bound with the entries I wrote.  So neat...and a great way to have a gratitude journal for this busy mamma!  


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

{chit chat} Labor Day Recap

How was your Labor Day?  I hope it was wonderfully relaxing and fun.  Ours was great as well!  We did a day of errands and shopping and two days of lazy relaxing around the house.  It was perfect!  A few more things to tell you about:

MAKING.  Through the wonder of the Internet, I stumbled on this creative girl.  She has a bunch of scrapbook how-to videos and I swear to you, M and I watched about three in a row, just oohing and ahhing over her pages.  Shimelle inspired me so much that I actually pulled out some 12x12 papers and tried my own.  So fun!  (And hurray for making some progress on my neglected pictures from the first four years of marriage!)  

BAKING. Over the weekend, we purchased a bread machine!  My mom found an amazing deal.  We go through a lot of bread around here (the boys are big fans of a good ol' PB & J), so it will be so nice to have bread without all of the preservatives.  We tried this recipe and I actually had to made it TWICE yesterday!

READING.  I finished Heaven is For Real last week.  It was a good, easy read and gave me a lot to think about.  Talk about childlike faith!  My new book is Love Walked In.  I grabbed it (mostly because I liked the you ever do that?) when we were browsing through Border's closing sale.  60-80% off!  I was in heaven.  I also picked up In Defense of Food for the husband...he's already a quarter of the way through, so it must be good. 

LEARNING.  We are into week two of Apples and going strong.  Yesterday, M went on a "Daddy Date" to the grocery store and picked out four different types.  When they came home, we had a family taste much fun.  I'll be sharing more of our Apple Unit soon. 

I hope you have a wonderful week! 
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