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I’m a day late for this one, but that’s what happens when your 18 month old refuses to sleep through the night anymore, has terrific separation anxiety, throws up, runs a fever AND gets three immunizations all in two short days. Still, lack of sleep can’t dampen our holiday spirit, and we’ve been doing all kinds of fun Christmas-y activities.

Last year, I talked about making new traditions, and we’re still doing that this year, since we’re still in “flex mode” with Christmas. Eventually, we’d like to spend Christmas day at our house, with all our kiddos, and invite over whatever family wants to come for lunch. Now, Colton is still small enough and doesn’t realize what’s going on enough to care that we have five Christmases.

Still, we’re doing some things I hope can stay as traditions whether we travel or not. Like last year, we drove around looking at Christmas lights while we ate Chick-fil-a. We did that again this year (although we actually ate inside Chick-fil-a so Colton could eat and play). Colton didn’t seem to love the lights as much as he did last year, but he’s kind of in that phase where running around and doing what he wants is the most exciting thing on the planet.

How toddlers watch TV.

This year, we watched Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas with a friend and made Christmas cookies. For as long as George is exciting, I would love for this to be a tradition; the Hubs and I are both George fans. Colton really got into making Christmas cookies, so I think I might be replaced as the official cookie baker!

Last year, my parents started a new tradition in our family – giving four gifts. We each got something we want, something we need, something to wear and something to read. I was a big fan of this and adopted it for our family this year. It definitely helped keep me focused in my gift giving and not go totally overboard. Santa does still come, but he just gives small gifts that fit in stockings.

No matter what we do though, I still think Christmas is awesome. And you better believe I’ll be fighting my dad for Santa’s Christmas cookies this year!

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Be sure to check out all the other traditions, and maybe find a new one for your family, at NewlyWoodwards!

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I love Christmas. Its my favorite holiday, after my birthday. So its no surprise that my collection of Christmas decorations grows each year. And now that I have a toddler, my supply of ornaments, art, crafts and cards is about to grow exponentially.

Now, I do plan to scan every last one of my son’s masterpieces, saving them digitally and turning them into a book, but I love my kid’s art and want to display at least some of it, especially at Christmas. So, I picked up an empty frame at Hobby Lobby, had Hubby put a piece of cork board in it, and hung the finished product over my mantel.

Eventually, I think I’ll need something a bit bigger, but for now, this works wonderfully for the art being produced. Now, I must admit that I blatantly stole this idea from my mother, who has a very large version of this (she claims she used an old frame from Wal-Mart). Hers comes out only at Christmas and displays about 10 or so of her favorite Christmas-themed crafts my brother and I ever created over the course of our 17 years of schooling. Hands down, its one of my favorite things about Christmas.

Of course, I also had to create something else to add to my Christmas decor. I love monograms, so when I saw some monogrammed felt ornaments on Pinterest, I knew I had to make them.

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This was a super easy project, mainly because I had everything but the batting on hand.  My ornaments ended up being about 3-inches in diameter, and the letters were varying sizes (the “C” was the largest at 200 pt, the “K” was slightly smaller, and the “M” was 150 pt or less). I modified mine just a tad to make this a simpler project; rather than sewing the letters on, I used Heat N Bond (this also makes this a project that can be done without a sewing machine). Rather than putting them on my tree, I used mine to jazz up my ancient wreath.

I’ve gone back and forth over liking them here, and I’ve decided I love them. Seeing them when I come home makes me happy, so they stay. These were a lot of fun to make, and I’m still thinking about whipping a few up as gifts.

Be sure to check out seven more great DIY projects on today’s link-up at Kim’s!

Y’all, I am so excited about what I made for this week’s Dare to DIY Challenge! Mostly, because not only did I make something to give, but I also made a duplicate for me to keep – score!
Dare to DIY

The Hubs and I have been keeping our toothbrushes in plastic bags when we travel, which is kind of gross, so we need something cleaner and washable to keep our toothbrushes in when we travel. Thanks to Pinterest, birthplace of all great ideas, I found a simple solution.

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I bought two white washcloths from WalMart, used our existing toothbrushes to gauge the height the bottom part needed to be, sewed up the sides, eyeballed the four pockets, and DONE – washable (and bleach-able, if needed) toothbrush holder.

I love that Hubby’s can also hold a razor and can of travel shaving cream, and mine can hold Colton’s toothbrush and toothpaste. I’d love to modify mine in the future and split the last pocket for the two make-up brushes I usually have travel with me.

These are going in our stockings this year, complete with new toothbrushes and travel toothpaste (which Santa always brings), and I am super excited. I can’t wait to travel with mine!

This is a great, easy project that takes about five minutes with a sewing machine, but could also be easily made by hand. They’re super inexpensive to make (less than two dollars for each washcloth, and about a buck-fifty for a spool of ribbon), but will be super cute nestled into stockings.

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Now, don’t forget to check out this weeks link up at NewlyWoodwards for more great gift ideas you can create yourself!

As if someone would need to dare me to do that!

Dare to DIY

We’ve been off visiting family for Thanksgiving, so I’ve yet to actually make the “cookie” recipe I’m sharing this year. I made it last year for a cookie exchange, and my aunt made it for Thanksgiving this year. It’s more of a fudge, not a cookie, but it is so, soo good. This is an especially great recipe if you’re a fan of a football team whose mascot is a tiger.

Tiger Butter is a delicious fudge-like treat made of peanut butter and chocolate, swirled to look like tiger stripes. The recipe is as follows; the notes in parenthesis are courtesy of my mother.

1 pound white chocolate bark.  Melt in microwavable container in microwave. (Be careful, it can burn.)
Add 1 (one) 12 ounce jar of peanut butter.  Melt & mix until creamy.  (Can be smooth or crunchy peanut butter.)
Add 1 bag (7.5 ounce) Bits of Brickle.  (Found with chocolate chips in grocery store.)
Spread in greased 15 x 10 pan.  (Don’t use waxed paper because it sticks to it.)
Melt 1 (one) 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips in container in microwave.
Stir melted chocolate into pan of peanut butter/white chocolate mixture and swirl w/ knife to give tiger look.

If you do decide to make this, despite my lack of photos, I would add that as you pour the melted chocolate into the pan of peanut butter, you need to be very careful to keep the bowl moving and not pour too much into one spot. If you do this, the chocolate becomes a giant brick when cooled and you have almost no hope of cutting through it.THe beauty of Tiger Butter is that you can cut it into neat squares (like my mom) or sort of break into into random sizes and shapes (like my aunt), and it still looks great.

If I decide to make this for my cookie exchange again this year, I’ll come back and add a picture. But, I might be making one of the awesome cookies that are part of today’s link up at Newly Woodwards. I’ve already seen some I’m dying to try!

This week kicks off the Dare to DIY series, hosted by Kim of Newly Woodwards! The first week of the challenge, Dare to Be Thankful, was all about creating a Thanksgiving project of some sort. I wanted to do something that was fun for all three of us to do and reflected some of the many things we have to be thankful for.

Thankfully, I found a great toddler craft via Pinterest.

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The craft idea was great, but I made a few adjustments to make this work for a toddler who can’t be trusted with glue and make this something fun for the whole family. So, I grabbed an old baby food jar* and created the turkey face myself, while Hubby and Colton ran around outside. I also did all the feather cutting, and set everything up on our dining room table.

Over dinner, we took turns talking about what we were thankful for, putting them on the feathers. Colton had waffles on the brain, so we had to prompt him and ask about specific things we knew he liked, but it worked very well. We had fun thinking of all the great things we have, and ended up with a cute little turkey for our table.

I filled mine with Gerber Melts, Colton’s favorite snack, and let him eat a few after dinner. I think these would be super cute for a kids’ table at Thanksgiving. You could put a special treat inside for each child and either let them fill out what they’re thankful for, or you could fill them out with thing you love about that child. Or, if you have older children, you could have them make their own as a little “goodie bag.” I’m definitely keeping this idea in mind when I finally have to host Thanksgiving in about 40 years.

* If you have a baby food jar that still smells funny, even after going through the dishwasher, fill it up with hot water and a little dish soap, let it sit, and you’ll have no more smell. Even works for jars that held meat!

One of the things I learned to do after having a baby was make my own appliques. Super simple, super cute, and super giftable! I knew I wanted to do something with my new-found “skill.” At first I thought I might make a silhouette pillow, but I don’t have the skills or tools to make a good silhouette, so I decided to make a hand-print applique to give to Colton’s grandparents and great-grandparents.

First, I found my favorite baby and traced his hand. I used that tracing to create my hand-print template (it required a bit of refining – babies don’t hold still very well). I used Heat n’ Bond and a black pillowcase to make my applique, then cut my cross-stitch fabric to size and ironed the applique to the center, but a bit high.

Next, I took some blue embroidery floss and sewed around the outside of the hand print. Now, I am not a great embroider, so the stitches aren’t exactly even, and I left a space between them, but I like that!

Then I used my handy blue, washable pencil to mark the center of the hand print, and used those markings to write out Colton’s name, nicely centered.

I simply followed my writing and embroidered his name. I did get a little off once in a while, but that’s why I have a washable pencil!

I popped the finished project into a frame and now have the perfect gift for family who love Colton!

I do plan to mat these, but I had this frame laying around and had to use it for one of these – nothing beats free right? I love these so much I think I’m going to make one and give it to myself to add to my family photo wall!

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Don’t forget to check out all of the awesome projects in this week’s Dare to DIY party at Kim’s! I’ve been checking out the projects this morning and I’m inspired to get my craft on!

I saw today that there are only 47 days until Christmas and, with Halloween behind us, we’re officially in the holiday season! Last year, I participated in Kim’s holiday Dare to Do it Yourself Holiday Blog Party. I had fun, but I wasn’t the most creative or handy DIY-er.

BUT, this year I’ve been practicing getting my sew on, and I’m feeling crafty and prepared for the upcoming challenge. In fact, I’ve started a couple of projects, one of which involves a black pillowcase and some blue embroidery floss. I don’t think you’re going to guess what I’m making, but I’m pretty confident you’re going to love it (or at least really like it. I hope.).

Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that Kim is hosting this challenge again. Yay! If you haven’t signed up already, you should! Not only does it give you inspiration (and a time deadline, which I so desperately need), you get a lot of great ideas for future projects.

Hop on over to Newly Woodwards and tell Kim you’re in!

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Also, don’t forget about the Miracle Blanket giveaway, running through 8 PM (EST) tonight!

Just a 20-something girl living on the East Coast, trying to figure out life. I'm a wife and mom to two. I'm trying to rediscover my love for long walks, yoga and pilates. But not hiking. I still don't like hills. I was raised at the beach, but I don't like the beach. I like to look at it, but I don't like to swim in it, I'd prefer a pool, thanks. I'm just trying to become the best person I can be -- the woman God wants me to be. That's easier said than done!

E-mail Me!

Contact me at longbrakeliving@gmail.com - I'd love to hear from you!

Hubby is my all-time favorite guy. A perfect mix of serious, sarcastic, laid-back, handy and nerdy, he is the perfect complement to me. I love his strong work-ethic and the way he always loves and supports me through everything. Some of Hubby's favorite things include: hiking, Virginia Tech football, woodworking, and his family. When I married him in July 2007, I had no idea what an amazing journey we were headed on, and how I could come to love him so much more each day.

Our oldest, Colton, is three years old. He is equal parts sassy and hysterical. He loves all things train, car, bus, truck, and machine related. He has a penchant for made-up words and loves to be the clown of his pre-school class. Our younger son, Nathan, was born this May. He is pure joy and full of smiles! He is such a blessing and a perfect fit for our family.