Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts On the New Year

I wish nothing but success, good health, and joy; for all of our family, friends, and blogging buddies! Now that 2012 has come and gone, it is a time to look forward to 2013 and the "bigger picture." May each of you have a great impact and richly memorable connection with all those you meet this year!  

Is anybody happier
because you passed their way?
Does anyone remember
that you spoke to them today?
The day is almost over,
and its toiling time is through,
Is there anyone that will utter
a kind word about you?
Can you say tonight in parting,
with the day that’s slipping fast,
that you helped a single person
of the many that you passed?

Is a single heart rejoicing
over what you did or said?
Does the one whose hopes were fading
now with courage look ahead?
Did you win the day or lose it?
Was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness,
or a scar of discontent?

As you close your eyes in slumber,
do you think that God will say,
“you have earned one more tomorrow
by the good you did today?”
“At Day’s End”  – John Hall

Happy New Year! 
I cannot wait to see what 2013 brings for each of you! 

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Good Bye Tree and Holiday Clutter!

The tree is down, and honestly, taking it down bummed me out. Okay, maybe bummed out isn't the right word... nostalgic or just shocked that Christmas has come and gone is a better way to say it?

I am amazed that I have the same feeling taking down each ornament, as when I place them on the tree. Each one has a memory and reminds me how much the kids have grown. Mikey and Ryan's first Christmas, or even my husband's first Christmas ornament makes me smile. There are ornaments that I hand crafted with my mother, when I was a teenager and I cannot help but think of the time we spent together. There are military ornaments to honor loved ones, ornaments that remind us of vacations or museums, and then there are ornaments that hold the memory of Mike's sister, Melinda. (Her memorial ornament sits at the top of the tree, right under the angel tree topper.) Yet, as I took the time to lovingly pack each of these ornaments away, I couldn't help but feel a sense of peace and relief!? (If that isn't an oxymoron!?)

So, good bye tree, holiday decor, stress, late nights, and elfin' around elves. I tell myself each year that with planning, zero expectations, and a budget...this year will be stress free. Well once again I failed! Not in the sense that this was a horrible holiday, in fact it was nearly perfect. I failed in the sense that I did not manage my time wisely, and created the stress myself!

This is the reason I packed the tree, shrugged off the Holidays, and de-cluttered the mess under the tree. The kids received some amazing gifts this year, and yet I could not imagine where it was all going to go! I told the kids we were going to sort and organize their toy shelf. If there were things that we needed to donate or get rid of, today was the day! Of course this blew their little three and five year old minds! I explained that if a toy was broken, they weren't playing with it, and it was not safe to keep it. I then found an empty box, and asked if there was anything they wanted to donate or share with a little boy or girl who didn't get to have a Christmas. This idea sunk in slowly, so I helped them and they helped to select toys that they no longer played with! Was the box filled? No, but I didn't want to shock them or think that they had to get rid of their stuff!

I am happy to say that we cleaned and organized, enough that we are clutter free, and made room for their new toys! Was it hard? YES! I had to take down my tree, and say good bye to my memories. The kids had to part with old and broken toys, small sacrifices but all worth the battle! 

How long do you leave up your tree? Does it bum you out? How do you de-clutter after the Holidays? How do you make room for the new stuff?
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Taking A Break...We've All Been Very Sick

My apologies, if you are a loyal reader and are looking to see what I have posted today. We have all been sick, and I needed to take a little break.

  • My five year old has had a double ear infection and a wicked cough. 
  • The three year old has a super runny nose, and has temperatures that have been pretty scary.
  • I have had what started out with flu like symptoms  and turned into a  horrible chest cold. I have coughed so much, I felt like I bruised my ribs. Add in a loss of my voice, and then a froggy whiny voice...I am really disliking the way I sound.
So, with all of this in mind, look for a new post on Monday, and I will hope that all of us have recovered and healed by then. There comes a time when we need to refresh  and rest and I just needed to take a few days. I hope you understand, and will look for new posts early next week!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

OREO Play Up Dessert Winter Challenge {#OreoMoment}

Thanks to Liz, of a Nut in a Nutshell this amazing box of goodies arrived on my doorstep from OREO! Inside the main snowman container, I found two packages of Winter OREO's, a recipe book filled with inspiration, stacking holiday bowls from Crate & Barrel, holiday icing colors, candy cane sprinkles, star cookie cutter, chocolate dipping tool, snowman place mat, and gift tags from Paper Source. 

Did I mention the recipe book? I selected the OREO Cookie Balls, they were so easy to make before our guests arrived on Christmas Eve.

Prep Time: 30 min. Total Time: 1 hr. 40 min. (including refrigeration) Makes: 48 servings

1 pkg (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened (I used strawberry)
36 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3 cups)
16 oz. Semi-sweet Chocolate, melted

MIX cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.
SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 minutes. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper lined pan.
REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. 

Use your imagination to create your own variation of OREO Cookie Balls. For starters, try switching the chocolate used to coat the cookie balls, choosing between milk chocolate  dark chocolate or white chocolate  Then top the glazed cookie balls with your choice of toppings, such as crushed candies, colored sprinkles or colored sugars. For added flair, decorate the balls with decorating gels or icings.

You cannot go wrong with OREO, as they are always loved by all! Add chocolate and I guarantee that your family and friends will be begging for more! I only had a few left, and I shared them with our neighbors packaged in the festive red polka dot gift boxes. Thank you OREO for this great challenge, and inspiration!

Check out OREO on Twitter, Facebook, or on the OREO website to see all of the #OreoMoment pictures.

*This is a partnered project with OREO and a Nut in a Nutshell. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

{Book Review} Dazzling Duct Tape Designs

Zebra print bracelets…Floral throw pillows…Decorative party banners…Patterned bow ties. Yep, there’s a lot you can make with a roll of colored or patterned duct tape. Introducing “Dazzling Duct Tape Designs,” a new craft book that shows you how to turn decorative duct tape into adorable fashion accessories, cute home d├ęcor, funky party decorations and so much more. The step-by-step instructions and color photos make it incredibly easy to create purses, sandals, and wall art using duct tape that matches your personal style—gold, florescent pink, floral, black…you name it! With a little duct tape and creativity, the possibilities are endless.

Now that the hustle and bustle is over, are you ready to craft your way into the New Year? Are you finding some time for yourself and want to try something new? Dazzling Duct Tape Designs, will show you how you can create new and exciting projects, never seen before! Did you know you can make your own accessories and trendy colorful items to add a pop of color to your wardrobe? You can go way beyond the duct tape wallet  and make a fringed sling or four paneled tote. Just a few folds and twists and you can make your own sandals to match your cruise wear! 

Did you know that duct tape can decorate your home? Dazzling Duct Tape Designs will guide you step by step as you make a decorative pillow, place mats, or napkin rings. You can make your table the talk of the New Year, when everyone wants to know how you made the table top decorations. The full color photographs and directions will make these projects easy for your young craft enthusiast.

Try something new, pick up a few rolls of brightly colored duct tape, and you can craft fun and funky projects with  Dazzling Duct Tape Designs, by Tamara Boykins. Dazzling Duct Tape Designs can be found at major retailers and Amazon

*I was not compensated for this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Christmas 2012

We were woken up by Ryan at 5:30 a.m., and it was a challenge to talk him into going back to bed as he was so excited about Santa's arrival! The kids were very animated this year, and were soon swallowed by a sea of wrapping paper as they opened their gifts. I loved their reactions to opening Legos, and Madagascar 3...which lead to a singing of "Afro Circus!" 

Mother Nature surprised us with snow, and it was beautiful! The snow flakes were huge, and then steady enough to give us a White Christmas! The kids were very excited and kept saying it was magical and a gift from Santa!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals were spent with friends and our close neighbors! We had a very "Merry Crabby Christmas," when we feasted on Maryland Blue crabs on Christmas Eve. It was a rare treat to not drive all over town, and have multiple stops...but to enjoy, slow down, and celebrate with the friends we have made here in Maryland!

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas surrounded by the ones you love!

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Elfin' Around - Prep and Landing {#ElfinAround}

On their last night in our home, Buddy and Max wanted to make sure that the kids had everything they would need to get ready for Santa. They placed reindeer food, glass jars, a cookie plate, and instructions in a box and wrapped it just for fun! They kids were so excited they wanted to watch Disney's Prep and Landing, as they felt they were now part of the crew!

I laughed so hard when they kids wanted to set out milk, Oreos, and chocolate chip cookies! Not just one kind of cookie, but two? Were these kids making sure that they were on the Nice List? They also stepped outside to sprinkle the reindeer food on to the lawn, and make sure that they picked they best spot with lots of room for 8 reindeer to stop and eat while Santa stopped at our house.

They also found new pajamas at bed time, thanks to pajama elf! Nothing like new Spider Man pajamas, to help you drift off to sleep, with all the excitement of waiting for the Jolly Red Elf!

How did you get ready for Santa? Do you set out milk and cookies? Do you feed the reindeer? How long did it take your kids to fall asleep this year?

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
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Elfin' Around - Polar Express {#ElfinAround}

Polar Express fan? Does the BELL still ring for you? Do you believe in Santa? Buddy and Max wanted to remind everyone in the house that Santa will be here very soon, and brought The Polar Express book, movie, and real bell so that the kids would know that if they believe, their Christmas will be everything they could ever hope for!
Merry Christmas Eve Eve to everyone of you! 
Thank you for reading and joining Buddy and Max on their adventures this year!
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Elfin' Around - Wood Art {#ElfinAound}

Buddy and Max wanted to keep things simple, with Mikey still under the weather. Wood art kits made for easy and low key entertainment, when he woke up this morning, and felt okay enough to use the included markers! Thanks Buddy and Max, for understanding that he didn't feel well!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elfin' Around - Sick Day {#ElfinAround}

Take two candy canes, and call me in the morning! 

My oldest son started showing signs of not feeling well, when he came home from school yesterday. He then spiked a fever, and spent the night very ill. Buddy also said he didn't fell well, so Max did what any elf would do. With a little TLC, and two candy canes...crossed his fingers that, Buddy might feel better soon.

Do you think elves get sick days at the North Pole? Does hot coco and two candy canes, make an elf feel better in the morning?
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Kindergarten Winter Party

Mike had his first Winter (Christmas) Party at school. It was awesome...if you are 5! The room moms helped the kids make the cutest finger print "light bulb," shirts and they turned out better than I even pictured in my mind! There was a feast of grapes, popcorn, cookies, and cupcakes...more than enough sugar to make any kid overjoyed. They then played a relay race to see who could decorate a tree the fastest! The party ended with two boxes each wrapped in 10 sheets of paper so that each child was able to unwrap a layer of paper. Inside the kids found goody bags filled with candy and a new pencil. 

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vlogging Mommies - Christmas Exhaustion

Happy Holidays! We are talking about holding it all together during Christmas and exhaustion! Are you tired Mom? How much are you doing once your little one is in bed? Gift wrap, running to and from holiday events, Elfin' Around, and shopping all take time, and it is the time of year that can leave you frazzled! Lets wear an ugly sweater, find a reason to laugh, and support on another as we count down to Christmas!

Join in on the fun, and tell us how you are holding it together!

Next week we are talking about the best part of your Christmas this year? Was there a great gift under the tree? What was the best part of your holiday meal? Big family announcement or really good news? Tell us all about your 2012 Christmas!

Join in on the fun, and comment below! 

Happy Holidays to each of you!See you next Thursday!

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Elfin' Around - Red Nose Monster Truck {#ElfinAround}

On Driving School, on Blue Thunder, on King Krunch, on Backdraft, on Monster Mutt, on Donkey Kong, on Jurassic Attack, on Superman, and Grave Digger...  Santa needs you to be ready in the event the reindeer can't pull the sleigh! Grave Digger donned a red nose and antlers just for Christmas, and really would love to jump and crush his way through the Holidays! Max and Buddy knew the boys would love to see their Monster Trucks prepped as part of the delivery crew, if needed!

Do you kids love Monster Trucks? My boys would love nothing more than to go for a ride in a real Monster Truck, and crush a few cars! (Of course it would all depend on if they could handle the sounds of the loud engines!) 

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Train Ride

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Elfin' Around - Ginger Bread Taste Testers {#ElfinAround}

One of the staples of an Elf's diet is candy, its what makes them so sweet! Waiting for my boys to offer them some of the ginger bread houses that they made at school, was testing their will power! Max just couldn't take it any more, and taste tested the roof of one of the houses. It can be fixed, right?

If your family makes a ginger bread house, what do you do with it? Does it last till Christmas? Do you let your kids eat the candy off of it? Does it end up in the garbage or do you let the kids try to eat it once it is all dried out?

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Monday, December 17, 2012

{Toy Review} Tonka Chuck & Friends Twist Trax Tornado Tower Playset

We're turning things upside-down - literally! We all loved playing with track sets when we were kids, but for our CHUCK THE DUMP TRUCK vehicle, we really  wanted to amp it up! A spiral track, a moving elevator and a diagnostic garage combine to give your child a super track adventure.

Did you catch that? These trucks and tracks go upside down! My three year old, stood there with open mouth and complete wonder when he saw the Tonka Chuck & Friends Twist Trax Tornado Tower Playset in action! Never seeing a dump truck upside down on a track before, he was completely speechless! 

Your little one will love the Tornado Tower with Chuck the Dump Truck, as you can have a quick tune up at the garage,   rise to the top on the elevator, and go for one wild ride on the Twist Trax, that ends with a big jump! The Tornado Tower has sounds and actions that will delight any car enthusiast, with 30+ sounds and phrases!  

Assembly was quick and easy, and my little guy helped to put it together in a matter of minutes. Height, is perfect for little ones, and encourages movement and active play! Look for giggles and excitement as your child plays with each feature of the Tornado Tower. The Tower comes with one Chuck the Dump Truck, but you can find other Twist Trax Trucks, Roller Coaster, and Fire Funhouse that all can be played with and connected to the Tornado Tower!
Check out Hasbro on Facebook, Twitter, and at Hasbro.com!

*I was not compensated for this review, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. I was sent a Tornado Tower on behalf of Hasbro for my personal review.
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Elfin' Around - Bowling {#ElfinAround}

Buddy & Max are on a bowling team at the North Pole, and thought a little practice was needed before they get rusty! Max has bowled a perfect game, but is still waiting on his ring from the Elf Bowling Association! What do you think their bowling team name is? (Naughty vs Nice? Candy Cane Anonymous? Tinsel Happens?)

Does your family go bowling? Are you good at it? How do your kids react when they get a strike? (Mikey does a little happy dance!) Are your elves in the elf bowling league? What would their team name be?

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elfin' Around - Dog Treats Taste Nothing Like Cookies {#ElfinAround}

Buddy and Max are very curious little elves, often seeking snacks and treats. They saw a red jar, on the counter that looked like a cookie jar! Needless to say, they quickly found out that dog treats taste yucky; unless you are a dog, and love bacon and liver flavored treats! 

Elf Lesson #231: Dog treats taste nothing like cookies!

Okay, fess up...when you were a child did you try dog treats or cat food? What was the strangest food you tried, because of curiosity?
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Elfin' Around Linky Party #4 {#ElfinAround}

Welcome everyone to our new tradition here at Crazy & Cool with a side of Crafty and The Green Eyed Momma. We are super excited to be sharing with you our Elfin' Around tradition with you and to be hosting the linky. Each week we will be posting on Sunday a linky for you to share your Elf and his adventures while he watches over your kids during the holiday season.

Last Weeks Picks

Check out Life Experience Needed’s Elfin Around post

Now on with the Party!!

Crazy & Cool with a side of Crafty

Linky Details

    • We would love for you to follow the hosts via blog subscription, twitter, and Facebook (we will return all follows)
    • You can link up to 3 Elfin' around posts (all others will be deleted)
    • Make sure the links are to your Elf posts not your blog’s landing page.
    • Please don’t repeat links and please link only your stuff!!
    • Each week we will randomly pick 1 (one) post from the previous week to showcase (we will be using a picture from your post so please watermark!)
    • Each week you link up, please follow the co-host and they will be encouraged to follow those new followers in return.
    • Visit, follow, and comment on any of the linked up posts
    • Link back to Crazy & Cool with a side of Crafty and The Green Eyed Momma in your Elfin' Around post (this is required to be a showcased blogger!!)
    • Grab the button to share with your readers and spread the Elf Linky Love!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Elfin' Around - Snowman Soup {#ElfinAround}

Buddy and Max made Snowman Soup, found the marshmallows, extra hot chocolate, found two hot coco mugs, and a book that explains it all! We should have two very happy kiddos, as they love hot coco!

The poem:
How do you like your hot chocolate? Add whip cream, cinnamon, or lots of marshmallows? Have you made it from scratch or do you only use a premade mix?

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

{Book Review} The Farm Chicks Christmas

What is a Farm Chick?
A Farm Chick is a girl who sees the world through rose-colored glasses.  She loves her family. She laughs a lot. She's farm girl meets Fifth Avenue and with a little style, she'll change the world. From homey decorations to irresistible homemade treats, THE FARM CHICK CHRISTMAS will help you usher in this festive season with style.

The Farm Chick Christmas book is filled with vibrant photos and details, of Christmas cheer! I love that the book reminded me of my own days of youth and memories of cutting down a live Christmas tree at a local tree farm. It is amazing how a splash of color, sparkle, of touch of whimsy can decorate every inch of your property! Have you considered decorating a green house or detached garage? I haven't  but with simple outdoor decorations it is possible and absolutely easy! 

The Farm Chick Christmas, has tips and hints on how to use up-cycled  vintage, collections or household items to create beautiful country inspired crafts and decorations! Quick and easy craft ideas, will leave you wondering why on Earth didn't I think of that! New ideas and color combinations, will send you running to your nearest antique shop to find items from your youth or something your Grandmother once shared with you. I love that this book, reminds us to share the Holiday Season in a way that fits our family, and engage  those we invite into our homes with what makes us unique. Each page turn will warm your heart, and remind you of why Christmas is about family and time spent together!

Farm Chicks can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and her blog. The Farm Chicks Christmas can be found at Amazon, and major book retailers!

The Farm Chicks Christmas (September 2012, Hearst, 9781588169730), now in paperback, celebrates the magic of the season with ideas for entertaining, decorating, tree trimming, and crafting, plus 17 recipes for yummy holiday sweets.  Serena Thompson has parlayed her love of vintage stuff, handmade crafts, cooking, and family into a brand that celebrates the simple and stylish.  Serena now runs The Farm Chicks Antique Show, in Spokane, WA; maintains a website and blog where she shares Farm Chick Style, a line of jewelry, clothing, and stationery items; and is a contributing editor to Country Living.

* I was not compensated for this review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Elfin' Around - I Spy Christmas Elves {#ElfinAround}

I spy Christmas Elves, up playing all hours of the night! Buddy and Max found the I Spy Set, and played with the boys puzzles and matching games. Max is really good at puzzles, but Buddy seems to always win the matching game. They also left a note asking the kids to find things on the tree, for a live version of I Spy. 
Do your kids love I Spy, either in the car or the books? My boys love I Spy, and could read and look through the books everyday!

Have you checked out @CrazyCoolCrafty to see what her elves are up to? Look for week four of Elfin' Around, and link up on Sunday! Share your pictures and elf stories! We love to share and inspire our fellow elf moms, as we all seem to run out of ideas when we are busy and exhausted after the kids go to bed! Link up, and save the sanity of your fellow elf Mommas!

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