Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday Savings: Keeping My House Clean with the Motivated Mom's Planner

It's that time of year where I'm going crazy trying to get organized for the spring semester.  It's also the time of year where the *uncleanliness* of my house starts to get on my nerves.  But this year, I'm doing much better with that thanks to this planner over at Motivated Moms!!  

I love this planner, because it has a checklist for each day.  All of the household chores are broken into manageable chunks -- and it includes everything from changing batteries in your smoke alarm to cleaning the microwave to clipping the children's nails.  It has all those things I know I should be doing (but can't seem to remember).

The planner is available in several formats including full-size, 1/2 size, 1 day per page, 1 week per page.  You can also choose to have a Bible Reading plan (or not).  There are lots of options!

The planner is usually $8, but I have a special code to get you $1 off!

Here's how to do it:
1)  Go to Motivated Moms
2)  Order a planner
3)  Enter the code 1OFF at check-out to receive $1 off

All you have to do is download, print, and you're ready to go!  Let me know what you think!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Blessings to You!

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
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Customize your own free digital ecard

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends!  I'll be taking a break until the first of the year, so I'll see you then!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Star Cookie Cutter Christmas Tree

Two nights ago, my husband decided he we needed to make something for his coworkers (uh, a little last minute?!!)...and he settled on these Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies.  I purchased a kit several years ago with six different-sized star cookie cutters, but I think you could use 4-6 sizes and still make a lovely tree!

Star-shaped cookie cutters (4-6 different size)
Cream cheese frosting
Green food coloring
Butter knife
Sprinkles or powdered sugar
Paper plate or foil-covered cardboard

1)  Make your favorite sugar cookie dough.  Cut 2-3 stars with each size cookie cutter.  You need to have about 12-18 cookies for each tree.  Bake according to your recipe directions.

2)  Tint the cream cheese frosting green.  Place a dab of frosting on the plate (or cardboard) to stick the largest cookie to the base.  Frost and stack each cookie from largest to smallest rotating each one slightly to achieve a tree shape.

3)  Dust with powdered sugar for a snowy effect.  You can also use sprinkles for a more festive tree!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Make a Christmas Tree from Hearts

Did you know you can use hearts to make a Christmas tree?  Here's an easy way to do it!


1)  Print or trace the hearts onto construction paper.  Glue the hearts together to form a tree.  Add a rectangle trunk from construction paper.  

2)  To decorate the tree, add sequins, pom poms, stickers, buttons, etc.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Tree Craft Round-Up

I have two more of Christmas tree crafts to post next week, but I thought I would do a quick round-up of a few ideas from around the web!

We made this Craft Stick Christmas Tree last year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tortilla Christmas Tree Snack

We made these as a healthy snack.  They definitely would've turned out prettier if I had guacamole or cream cheese!  Plus, the decorations would've actually "stuck" to the tree!

  • Tortilla
  • Guacamole or Cream Cheese
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Shredded Cheese

1)  Use kitchen scissors to cut a Christmas tree shape from a tortilla.  A spinach tortilla would have worked best, but I just used what I had!

2)  Spread guacamole or cream cheese mixed with green food coloring on the tortilla.  Add sliced celery and carrots.  Sprinkle with cheese.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Melted Snowman S'mores

I posted this last year, but I wanted to share it again -- especially since my sister made up some super-cute printable gift tags!

When my friend, Donna, shared these cute Snowman S'mores with me, I wanted to share them with you!!  Special thanks to her for sending me the photos and directions!!

2 Tbsp. of canned icing
Wilton decorator food colors, orange and black (these make the truest colors instead of mixing the drops)
1 wooden skewer broken in half (use pointed end for painting nose, flat end for eyes and mouth)
Striped cookies
Cellophane bags (if desired)
Printable Directions/Gift Tags

1)  Mix 1 T. frosting with orange food coloring.  Melt in the microwave.  Repeat with the black coloring and frosting.  (This will make enough for a bag of marshmallows.)  Make an orange nose on the rounded sides of all the marshmallows with the pointed end of the skewer.  After the noses are finished, add the eyes and mouth with black frosting (using the blunt end of the skewer).

2)  Place the marshmallow in the microwave on top of a striped cookie.  Microwave for 10 seconds (no longer unless you want a tough marshmallow)!

3)  Put another cookie on top.  Enjoy your "melted" snowman!

My friend gives these treats to others at Christmas time.  If you want to share them, be sure to let the frosting dry completely, then place 2 cookies and one snowman marshmallow into a cellophane bag.  Include directions to microwave for 10 seconds! 

(Update:  You can download a customizable, printable version here.)

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Chronicles of Narnia Boxed Set for $12.99

These are such a great deal (today only), and I didn't want you to miss out.  I haven't seen the boxed set for this price!  I'm wondering if they'll sell out before the end of the day.

You can get The Chronicles of Narnia (Boxed Set) for $12.99!!!  Shipping starts at $3.99, or you can use try the code 339121TF to get free shipping if you place a $35 or more order.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Savings: 25 FREE Holiday Song Downloads

Amazon is offering 25 Days of Christmas Music with one new (and FREE) download each day until Christmas!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Gingerbread Man Hunt

I did this once with a kindergarten class (it was a hit!), so I decided to try it with my girls.  We've done it several times....and they just love it!

Gingerbread house

1)  Make your favorite gingerbread cookies (this is our milk and egg-free version).  Put them in the oven.  Distract the kids, so they won't be around when the cookies finish baking.

2)  Put the gingerbread house near the door to "catch" the little gingerbread men or women that might run away.  Once the cookies finish cooking and have cooled a little bit, hide one (or a pan-full) in the house!  I usually hide the pan somewhere, too.

3)  Scream with surprise that the gingerbread man isn't in the oven.  He must have escaped!!  Go on a gingerbread man hunt!

We have done several variations of this.  Every year, the girls love it!  One time I left just half of the gingerbread man and pretended our dog must have eaten part of it.  Another year, we made one of the gingerbread cut-outs into a "running" gingerbread man.  Of course, he ran away and we never found him!  Have fun!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gingerbread House (Simple Paper Bag Craft for Preschoolers or Toddlers)

We have been using our Gingerbread Puppets to act out Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett, and I thought it would be fun to make a simple gingerbread house to add to our story.  This is nothing fancy but definitely easy for a preschooler to make!  An older child could add a lot more detail!

Paper bag
Paper scraps
Glue (we used a glue stick, but I would use school glue to stick a little better)
Tape or stapler

1)  Cut scraps of paper for the windows and doors.  Glue them to the paper bag.

2)  Add stickers or other embellishments.

3)  Stuff with scrap paper or newspaper.

4)  Staple, tape, or glue down the top.

We can't put the gingerbread puppets in the house, but they can go behind it or under it as we tell the story!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Crafts & Carols eBook

Last year, I did a whole series of posts on 12 Days of Christmas Crafts and Carols.  I have taken those posts, reformatted and fixed them up a bit, and put them into an eBook.  If you're interested in accessing that eBook, you can find out how over at Motherhood on a Dime.

Otherwise, you can always look for any subject over in my sidebar, so if you want to find all my posts on Christmas, just look here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gingerbread Boy (or Girl) Puppet

Our town recently held a Gingerbread Festival.  We decided not to attend since my oldest is allergic to milk and eggs (she can't touch the frosting to make one), so I decided to do some of our own gingerbread activities this week!

This simple puppet is fun and comes in very handy for our reading of Gingerbread Baby!


  • Gingerbread pattern (I had one in my files, but you can print a girl or boy here.)
  • Brown paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Embellishments (buttons, stickers, sequins, wiggly eyes, scrap paper, foam, etc.)

1)  Draw or print a gingerbread boy or girl pattern on brown paper (I cut down construction paper to fit our printer).

2)  Cut out and embellish as desired.

3)  Glue a craft stick handle to the back and use the cut-out as a puppet.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Savings: The Jesus Storybook Bible for $5.99 has the Jesus Storybook Bible marked down to $5.99 today only!  

My estimated shipping was $3.99 (on orders up to $20).  Also, you can try the code 339121TF to get free shipping on orders over $35.


The Amazing Mess Preschool Gift Guide (Part 3)

If you missed the first two posts in the series, you can find them here:

In this final post, I wanted to share our favorite electronic and learning toys!

Electronic Toys
LeapFrog Leapster 2 Learning Game System - Green
There are so many options for electronic and learning toys.  Our very favorite has been the LeapFrog Leapster 2 Learning Game System.  I'm convinced my littlest can hold her pencil so well because of this game!

LeapFrog TAG Reading System - Green
The LeapFrog TAG Reading System is a reader favorite.  I have heard rave reviews from lots of you!

LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet (Green)

The LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet is one of the most popular gifts of the season -- very rarely can you find it in stock now for retail price.

Wii Console with Mario Kart Wii Bundle - White

Not that you have to get it with the Mario Kart bundle (that was just the cheapest option I saw), but I saved and saved for a Wii Console.  The girls especially love it in the winter.  We use it for recess -- and a way to be active even when we're stuck inside!

Learning Toys

Melissa & Doug See & Spell

The Melissa & Doug See & Spell is well-made and works wonderfully as one of our Learning Baskets!

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Magnetic Pattern Blocks Set
Since it is magnetic, the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Magnetic Pattern Blocks Set is nice to use in the car along with our travel activity bags.

Lauri Toys Primer Pack

Lauri Toys Toddler Tote is filled with hands-on activities for little ones, and it's fairly inexpensive.

Lauri Toys Number Play
This Lauri Toys Number Play set also includes a hands-on way to practice numbers.

There are so many more I could share...but I better limit myself!  I hope this gift guide has been helpful!  Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments below.

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Attempt to Simplify Christmas: Three Gifts

As I've tried to simplify my life (as much as a messy lady can), it often feels like overload once we've opened presents from family and friends.  We really wanted to find a way to focus more on Christ at Christmas, so over the past few years, we have made the decision to limit the number of gifts we give to the girls.  

The girls receive three gifts from us -- and we talk about how Jesus received three gifts after He was born.  For us, it has simply been a way to draw the attention back to Jesus instead of to the gifts.

I used to just give three gifts of any kind, but now I look for these categories of gifts:

1)  Extravagant: This gift could be a bicycle, doll house, video game system, or other higher-value gift. It's a gift that isn't a necessity.

2)  Practical:  Clothing, shoes, school curriculum, and books are just a few of the practical items we've given over the years. (Yes, I know it's strange to give workbooks -- but my daughters ask for them!)

3) Spiritual: We also try to give the girls one item to encourage spiritual growth throughout the year. It could be a Bible, Bible study, CD with hymns, or a DVD of some sort. This year, the girls are getting "Giving Banks" as part of learning good stewardship of what God has given us.

How do you keep the focus on the real meaning of Christmas?!!