Friday, November 30, 2012

Bloom for Christmas

Given that Bloom published this year and there's a little holiday around the bend, I suppose I should suggest...

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And because I love the idea of a thoughtful gift package, here are a few ideas for including the book in your gift giving this year.

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Bloom is available for purchase in bookstores (support your local bookstores--they need it!) and online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books a Million, Target and Indie Bound Books.

I am looking forward to listening to Christmas carols this weekend, time with my best friend, a little baking, a full family bed on Sunday morning (if we can convince Nella to join us--Sister likes her crib), and possibly a little Elf. Because smiling's my favorite.

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I'll eventually get back to regular Friday phone dumps and #enjoyingthesmallthings collages, but I'm feeling a little lazy during the holidays.  A few from our week:

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It's December tomorrow. December.  So I can rightfully incorporate the word jolly into my posts now, right?

Have a jolly 'ol weekend, Friends.

* A friend is hosting a beautiful holiday fund raiser for a precious boy with Down syndrome. I'd love it if you popped over to Miss Miggy to check it out.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winter Terrarium

Ballet is my peaceful time.  I could sit in a corner of the studio and watch my girls for hours.  I like when they catch themselves in the mirror.  Lainey is old enough that she plays it off cool--pretends not to notice that her reflection is moving so beautifully and dancerly when really I see her shy grin, tongue tucked in the corner of her cheek, and that girly satisfaction in her eyes.  Nella, not so much.  Girlfriend has no problem running straight to the mirror, stretching and twirling and touching palms to mirrored palms.  She takes her reflection in slowly--testing movements, watching her double simultaneously copy her dance.  And she smiles.  Because Sister knows she's got something.   

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She looks so small in that big room.

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I look forward to this day every week. 

Cue transition to craft.

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Our woodland critter ornament idea actually arose from a craft we did earlier this weekend. There are oodles of terrarium ideas online. I wanted a winter centerpiece for our kitchen table and knew Lainey would enjoy putting it together without much help. You could probably find a lot of these items outside if you don't live in a tropical area. 

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Basically we sprinkled a layer of silver rocks on the bottom of our glass bowl vase and covered it with a mixture of white craft sand and silver/white glitter. We positioned moss scraps where we wanted them, pressed some branches and tree pieces into the sand, dropped some pine cones into our mini landscape and finished by placing our little deer.

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We sprayed our pinecones with a little artificial snow first and Lainey accidentally had the nozzle pointed the wrong way.

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And there you be, as my grandma would say: a winter terrarium.

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Have some more glitter.  Enjoy.

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Our new jewelry sponsor, Leviticus Jewelry, offers a unique style and some beautiful designs that range from vintage to edgy. Talented mama Tara is the owner and designer behind Leviticus Jewelry.  Her signature line is full of dramatic elements composed of mixed metals and stones among other mediums.  Her site features page after page of stunning pieces that turn heads, tell stories and set them apart from other jewelry.  And they're affordable--a huge holiday 30% sale currently being offered.  I am in love with the vintage sundial, the brass feather, the vintage globe and the key holes.  Oh, and those hand carved wooden swan earrings...be still my heart.

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Check out Leviticus Jewelry for gifts this year and support another talented mama's work.

And have a lovely evening.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hallmark: How to Give

This post is a Hallmark sponsored post. I am being paid by Hallmark to write it, but all writing, ideas and opinions are mine. Thankfully, Hallmark and I share the same idea--that little moments are to be celebrated and that good people, good efforts and good intentions deserve a spotlight. See Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion for more details, like them on Facebook, and/or sign up for their e-mail messages HERE.

I have this great big flaw called Overthinking. I am an expert at taking simple concepts and turning them into a confusing heap of Too Much. I’ve made many mistakes in life, exhausting efforts to build elaborate bridges to get over troubled waters when really, all that was necessary was a simple raft. My wise friend Kleidy says there’s no such thing as mistakes or failure though—it’s all just learning. This concept has been a gift—a deeper acceptance of who I am and the infinite journey toward who I want to be (which, for the record, is Who I am + Time).

I’ve been over thinking a lot of things lately, the Flaw (kind of like the Evil Claw) fed by a number of circumstances that include the following confusing heap of Too Much: making sense of people’s suffering, feeling guilty for our current non-suffering, holiday sentiment, teaching my kids gratitude, teaching my kids meaningful giving, etc. I seem to jumble up these feelings this time of year because the holidays bring it out of me. Dear friends of mine suffered a horrible family tragedy over Thanksgiving, and I can’t make sense of it. Crafting and baking and swinging on my holiday high chandelier doesn’t seem right. And I thought I didn’t know how to help. Brett and I have also been talking about what we want to do this holiday to teach our kids giving back, and we discussed adopting a family, donating toys, taking the kids to pick things out for another child, etc.—all good and meaningful things that need to be done, but still…does Lainey really get it?

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In defending my writer’s block in expressing this all and explaining to my dad last night what I wanted to write, I mumbled a stream of feelings that equated to ‘Ya Totally Just Lost Me. Kindly, my dad suggested, “Okay, how about you start backwards and write one sentence.” Natalie Goldberg instructs writers to stop in the middle of typing and write simply “What I really want to say is…” I like to think of this as deconstructing that needless elaborate bridge and hopping on that simple raft.

What I really want to say is…the best and most important gift you can give anyone this holiday and any time of year—a hurting friend, your children, your spouse, the needy, the suffering, your best friend, your mom, your coworkers, and the world around you—is what you have to give. Simple as that. Taking my kids to the toy store to pick out something for a needy child is a meaningful experience, but what’s more meaningful is teaching them every single day to give of themselves—to use their talents and their words and their smile and their enthusiasm and their blessings to bring good to someone else. Shine your little flashlight, girls. Shine it bright.

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I ask myself so often, “Are we doing it right? Do our kids really know how good they have it? Do they understand others’ suffering?  Will they genuinely want to help and give?” The other night, as we prepared to visit our hurting friends who lost someone dear to them, I listened as Lainey told me how she wanted to help. I smiled when she suggested that we bring hot cocoa for her friends and serve it with one extra cup so we could “pretend their cousin is still with them and she’ll always be there.” That night, as we all huddled together—the hurting and the hurting help—the simplicity of all of this made sense. We all at some point will play the role of both the hurting and the help. We all both receive the gift of kindness and bestow it. And perhaps I don’t need to overanalyze the concept of giving for my children. It's a simple concept, a solid raft:  If we live it, they will learn it.  Share your gifts, share your heart.

This holiday, as you search for ways to help, as you hear of others’ suffering, as you find opportunities to teach your children about gratitude and giving and as you craft and bake and enjoy the things with which you’ve been blessed along the way, know that the simple and most important gift you can give is yourself. Make someone laugh, send a thoughtful text, listen to someone who needs to talk, smile in the grocery store, say thank you, make cocoa for a hurting friend, offer your talents and teach your kids to shine their little flashlights. That simple raft will travel far.

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This time of year, how do you embrace the concept of giving?  How do you teach it to your children?  Do you have a story of something someone did for you that made a meaningful impact?  Hallmark and I would love to hear your response.

To see other Hallmark posts on this blog, click HERE.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Craftastic: Kids Art Winter Ornaments

In three days, our house has been properly Christmas-tized--corners iced with twinkly lights, nooks adorned with pinecones.  This morning, as I stepped out onto cold tile after my shower, I smelled the residue of dust that has rested on electric heat pipes for a good nine months and finally got the chance to burn off.  Yes, we ran the heater--a monumental occasion down here but one to be celebrated when it lines up properly with holiday preparation.

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Sweaters!

The unspoken agreement in our home is that I get the final say on inside decor and Brett has the outside.  In other words, I don't exactly love flashing, colored LED lights that scream Vegas, Vegas, Vegas!  But Brett loves them, and I like the way they make him happy.  I will put my foot down when he attempts to synchronize them with landscape speaker-blasted Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer.

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Tradition and home are such comforting things right now.  And I love that elements of both of these are controllable--I can create so much of what I want for my family.  So that's what we do right now. 

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This little Hallmark music maker has been around since Lainey received it on her second Christmas.  It is a favorite of my girls.

We crafted and created a lot this past weekend.  I'll share a few of my favorite creations this week, the first being this little snowglobe gift.  I've been trying to think of a way to turn some of Lainey's drawings into Christmas gifts, and I had some leftover supplies from our winter terrarium (will share later this week).  We combined them to create winter scenes for her art. 

We've been using Sachiko Umoto's drawing book to guide Lainey in drawing some woodland creatures.  She's very meticulous (;o) tedious) and it takes her a long time, so if I were to do this over I'd scan the artwork first and duplicate it to make several ornaments for friends and family to save her from drawing too many.

Breakin' down into teeny tiny easy steps.

KIDS ARTWORK WINTER WONDERLAND ORNAMENTS:

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You'll need:

* Clear Glass or Plastic Fillable Ornaments.  We found ours at Joanns and they work great because they are flattened, making it easy to adhere drawing.
* Your child's artwork (keep it small, no bigger than 2 1/2 inches tall).
* Pure white crafting sand (available at craft stores).  We used white craft sand because we already had it, but I'm sure you could also use some version of artificial snow.
* Fine White Glitter
* Tiny Pinecones (if you can find them outside; otherwise we found a bag of tiny ones at Joanns)
* Craft Moss
* Tacky Glue, Scissors
* Optional: Fabric scraps to cover the ornament fixture at the top

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1.  Cut around the edge of your child's artwork.

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2.  Paint a thin layer of glue behind artwork.

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3.  Carefully roll/bend artwork so it can be slipped into ornament ship-in-a-bottle style.

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4.  Using tweezers, carefully slide artwork into ornament, being careful not to get glue where you don't want it.

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5.  Once in position (not too close to the bottom because your snow will cover it up), press down against back of ornament.

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6.  Using the end of a paintbrush or pencil, smooth edges of artwork down to make sure everything is adhered to ornament.

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7.  Create a paper funnel and pour white sand mixed with a little fine glitter into ornament.  Stop when snow level is to your liking (I like the art critter to look like he's sitting in the snow).

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8.  Using tweezers, drop in one tiny pinecone (you might need to give it a little push).

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9.  Add a tiny scrap of moss.

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10.  Reattach ornament fixture.  Our ornaments are very secure--light enough where the ornament does not pull away from the fixture.  You may want to hot glue yours if it feels like it's pulling.

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11.  To add a little more, squeeze a little glue along the edge of ornament fixture...

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12.  ...and cover with a strip of your favorite fabric.

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Voila.  Hello cute little critter on your tree.  Merry Christmas.  Now make ten more and give them away.  You will get smiles...promise.

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If you seek, you shall find. Because, look...in Florida. It's beginning to look a lot like...

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This time of year, this blog space becomes invaluable to me.  I'll sprinkle it with glitter.  Take some if you like.

I hope your weekend was kind to you.

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A few of our sponsors are offering great Cyber Monday deals.  The Shine Project employs at-risk-youth, helping them make their way through college.  I love what they do.  If you want to support them today, check out the new sweatshirts they launched last night.  Buy two, get one free, using code Holiday33.

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And Mother/Daughter team Kelly and Linda of Linkel Designs is returning to Enjoying the Small Things as a sponsor, expanding their incredible collection of beautiful handmade jewelry to include new holiday picks and special Cyber Monday deals (like 45 shop items for only $5 and $10!).


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Top Row, L to R: Poinsettia Ring, Vintage Holly & Ivy earrings, Merlot Leaf Earrings, Fly With Me Obsidian and Silver Necklace
Middle Row, L to R:  Vintage Wildflower Cameo Ring, Silver Cameo Ring, Willow Tree Necklace, Brass Leaf Earrings
Bottom Row, L to R: Navy Byzantine Earrings, Brass Scissors NecklaceSilver Go West Necklace, Triangle Geometric Necklace

As always, Linkel Designs offers a wide range of jewelry selections, from unique statement pieces to sweet vintage-inspired designs.  Shop for friends, teachers, mamas, or find something special for yourself.

Enjoy free shipping through December 3 with the code SHIP4FREE.

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...and dance by the light of the moon.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Thanksgiving

This morning, I am full and content.  The garage is a lively and noisy place right now as Brett rifles through attic boxes, and two little girls enthusiastically await the day's decorating. 

Our Thanksgiving snippets:

Seventh Annual Neighbor-But-Moreso-Beloved-Friends Pajama Breakfast
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I might spray paint everything silver this holiday. 

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Our first fire this season
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Bring on the holiday playlists, and have a wonderful weekend.

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Welcome back to Enjoying the Small Things sponsor, Sweet Seat, creator of the portable, easy-to-clean, and beautifully designed booster seat.  Every chair is handcrafted on this Texas family farm and thoughtfully made with consideration for both the environment and your family. 

My girls each have one, and our Sweet Seats give us a good opportunity to get out of high chairs and kid tables and join the family for a more intimate meal. 

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And yes, that's a matching doll booster!  Sweet Seat has added new products to their shop and now offers Sweet Seat Minis for little friends who want to join the table as well as beautiful, laminated cotton bibs with adjustable straps that double as pacifier clips.  The fabric choices are dreamy--lots of fun, retro prints.

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Sweet Seat is currently offering a holiday discount of 10% off and free shipping, using coupon code THANKFUL.

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As you pick up little holiday goodies for those you love during this shopping season, I want to take this opportunity and thank you for your support of Enjoying the Small Things sponsors.  We love the businesses we've worked with this year and have enjoyed learning the stories behind how they've developed and grown, allowing many mamas to stay home, small ideas to bloom, and great products, art and services to reach homes that appreciate them.

Two more to remember while you browse Internet deals today:

Jessica Clough's Scentsy Shop (time for pine and balsam!)

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...and one of my favorite vintage-inspired clothing shops, Shop Ruche.

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Bing Crosby is crooning, and I hate to keep him waiting.

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