Friday, November 30, 2012

Meg vs. Christmas: Family Photo Ornaments

As time goes on, I find myself wanting Christmas to be simpler; less about spending and running around and more about family and simple giving. I mentioned the other day that I have taken a liking to putting up sentimental ornaments instead of designing a fancy tree, but I didn't share my favorite ornaments! Drumroll please...

This tradition was actually started by my mom being embarrassing. See that little 2006 ornament? My mom gave that to John and me for Christmas right after we started dating. Clearly she was excited that I finally had a boyfriend. Oh, and my sister also made us matching mugs with that same photo plastered all over it. Yikes! Thankfully John wasn't scared away, and still proposed to me a few months later.

The next year my mom received the beautiful glass snowflake frame and asked if we wanted it. I thought our wedding photo would go well in it, and the tradition went on from there.

My main tip if you'd like to do this: go to Michael's after Christmas and stock up! They always have frame ornaments, and they go on sale for about a buck in the weeks after Christmas.

Seeing how our family has grown and changed as we decorated the tree was a good reminder of how blessed we are in a season where it is easy to get caught up in the trifles that we might want.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meg vs. Christmas: DIY Felt Ornaments

I am just a little excited for the Christmas season. We put up our tree this weekend and the smell is heavenly.

Growing up, we liked to pick a theme or color scheme for the tree each year and do something fancy with it. That is what happens when the girls plan the Christmas decorating. But since we've been married, John has insisted on multicolored lights, a multicolored star, and a variety of multicolored ornaments. I'll admit that I thought it was a bit cheesy at first, and John has since said that I could do the tree how I wanted (though that would require buying all new lights and ornaments, which we can't afford), but our eclectic tree has grown on me.We try to pick up Christmas ornaments to represent the places we've gone and the things we have done together, so decorating the tree is like a walk down memory lane.

Last year I wanted ornaments to commemorate John starting med school and us buying our house, but couldn't find anything that I liked, let alone that we could afford. So I decided to get crafty in the name of Christmas, and made up some felt ornaments that were exactly what I wanted. They are super easy to make, if a little time consuming. Just cut out two of your chosen shape (one for the front and one for the back). Then cut out the shapes you'll need to adorn your ornament and sew them onto the front. when you are done, use a blanket stitch to attach the front and back pieces together and a hanging ribbon to the top, stopping before you close it all the way to add a little stuffing to give your ornament some dimension. Ta-da!

I used gold thread because I thought it gave the ornaments a more vintage, Christmasey (that is a word, right?) feel. They remind me of my grandmother's old felt ornaments that we had on our tree growing up. On the back of the first ornament, I embroidered (in my sloppy way) "First white coat, 2011," and on the back of the second, "Our first house" and our address.

And as an added bonus, these ornaments are fairly toddler-proof (knock on wood), which is essential in this house. We have already lost three ornaments this year, and the tree has only been decorated for just over 24 hours.

I am already brainstorming what ornaments I will make this year, and I have a few other projects up my sleeve to share here soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals November 26 - December 1

It's amazing how easily I met my goals when I significantly lowered my expectations--ha!

November 19-24
*Plan and shop for Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws
*Make my pumpkin cheesecakes!
*Seal that grout!
*Get the house clean (or at least hide the mess).

John is coming up on the end of the semester and exams, so he will be busy studying and I will be mostly on my own for the next couple of weeks. I am still going to be a little ambitious with my goals, but will cut myself some slack if I come up short. Especially because I am starting the week on 2 hours of sleep!

November 26 - December 
*Touch up the patch job in the bathroom
*Order cabinet doors
*Paint the ceiling and trim
*Re-fill green waste bin, look into getting yard cleared
*Mow the lawn
*Get the car looked at
*Plan Christmas gifts

Friday, November 23, 2012

Meg vs. Giveaways: We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Christmas print giveaway!  The moment you have been waiting for came, and I have an added surprise, because the first winner was my mom!

That made me happy because she is the biggest fan of my blog, and of me. And I was so happy that I decided I would get her a set, and give away another one too.

So the second winner is Stacey T!

I'll email you shortly to get your address so Emily can send you your prints.

Congratulations, and thanks for entering!

I am past due to get started on Christmas projects, so stay tuned for those coming up!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Simplifying (with Printables!)

I have a little tendency to bite off more than I can chew. It is funny, I think I always underestimate my abilities, but overestimate the quantity of things I can get done in any given time. This quote is definitely for me, and I think for a lot of women out there.

Get it here!

And here's another pretty version:

Get this printable here!

And don't forget to enter the Christmas Print Giveaway! The winner will be selected Friday night.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meg vs. Giveaways: Christmas Prints from Little Boston Print Shoppe!

To be honest, I am a little ambivalent about gaining followers on this blog. I mostly started it to record our progress on the house and keep myself motivated, but then I felt silly writing to myself so I thought I would write to, well, some readers. I am not particularly creative, or handy, or thrifty, or chic, and I blog in spurts. I don't even own a glue gun.

But I do enjoy sharing what we do around here and pretending like it's useful or interesting to someone else. So I'll just focus on sharing. And right now, I am going to share a set of these fun Christmas prints made by my awesome friend Emily, who blogs at Everything for the Love (where I occasionally blog as a guest) and sells her adorable prints at the Little Boston Print Shoppe!

My boys love, love, LOVE Christmas, and these festive prints are a perfect way to add some Christmas Spirit to your home! So fun and festive. There are lots of things you can do to win a set, and you don't even have to follow my blog (unless you want to). =) My treat, a Christmas present to some lucky friend. Just pick one or more tasks from the entry form below and you're entered to win! The more you do, the more chances you have to win. (And you can do some of them once per day.) The giveaway will be open through Friday night, and I'll announce the winner on Saturday.

Good luck, and Merry Christmas!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

p.s. To make it easier on you, I didn't require verification for most of the tasks. Enter on your honor!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals November 19-24

As I mentioned earlier, it has been a long week. I am just happy I can do laundry again, and we'll try again next week (with some scaled back expectatoins...).

November 12-17
*Get everything ready for Little Brother's 2nd Birthday.
*Get the whole house clean for family coming into town.
*Figure out/fix the leak in the drain pipe for the washing machine (as much fun as it was to have the toy room flood last week...).
*Seal the grout!
*Put the sink/vanity back in the front bathroom and rehang the shower curtain.
*Start staining the vanity
*Start painting the walls

November 19-24
*Plan and shop for Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws
*Make my pumpkin cheesecakes!
*Seal that grout!
*Get the house clean (or at least hide the mess).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Meg vs. Decor: My new pillow!

It has been a long week. The kind where I meant to get lots of things done, but the house just got worse instead of better (thus no posting this week). And I think I might have some kind of sinus infection.

But then I got a sweet package from by BFF Emily, and it made my day! Look what she sent me!

I love this print, it matches my living room perfectly, and it makes me happy every time I see it! Not to mention that it is a super sturdy pillow cover, which should stand up well to all the abuse my little guys are all-too-quick to inflict upon anything I place in their reach. Check out this and other designs at Emily's Etsy store, Little Boston Print Shoppe. She is going to be listing some Christmas prints soon, and I am thinking I may just treat one of you lovely people to a set, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks, Emily!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals November 12-17

November 5-10
*Seal the grout on the new bathroom tile.
*Do two Thanksgiving activities with the boys.
*Re-fill the green waste bin.
*Get gas for the lawnmower and mow the lawn (or make the hubs do it).  John did pick up a gas can, but it was rainy this week so we decided against mowing. He raked and mulched all of the leaves instead.
*Install the new toilet seat in the front bathroom.

Between sleeping kids, kids refusing to sleep, and my lack of sleep, the grout just wasn't in the cards this week. But I did paint two doors and touch up the beadboard in the living room, plus I installed a few new doorknobs. And this week John is done with his block exams, so he is planning to help me get the bathroom in working order before Thanksgiving! So here are next week's goals and aspirations. I should think of something with which to treat myself if I get to the bonus tasks. Maybe a nap.

November 12-17
*Get everything ready for Little Brother's 2nd Birthday.
*Get the whole house clean for family coming into town.
*Figure out/fix the leak in the drain pipe for the washing machine (as much fun as it was to have the toy room flood last week...).
*Seal the grout!
*Put the sink/vanity back in the front bathroom and rehang the shower curtain.
*Start staining the vanity
*Start painting the walls

Friday, November 9, 2012

Meg vs. Thanksgiving: Thankful Tree

For my second Thanksgiving activity this week, I wanted to do something that would help us to focus on being thankful this month. After my handprint and footprint garland, I had a couple more paper grocery bags and decided to cut out a tree on a whim, to which we could add some fall foliage with things we are thankful for. The trunk took me about a minute to cut out, and then I cut out leaves during my spare minutes throughout the day. Here it is with our first leaves:

I thought it was fun that when I asked Little Brother what he was thankful for, he simply said, "Happy!" That warmed my heart, since ultimately happiness is what I want to give my kids. I think that being thankful is a big part of being happy.

We are planning to each put up something we are thankful for every day until Thanksgiving (or maybe through the end of the month?), so our tree should fill up pretty quickly.

Once the tree was done, the wall still seemed pretty bare, so I thought I would finish it off with a banner. If you read yesterday's post, that lead to an epic hunt for printable buntings and banners that you can customize. Next time the process should be a little easier!

Here it is with the addition of the banner:

Much better! I'm no Martha Stewart, but the whole point is to help my toddlers learn about Thanksgiving and what we should be grateful for, and I think this fits the bill (not to mention that it cost me approximately $0, since I had all the supplies, and many were things I inherited from other people or my mom's work).

What are you thankful for today? I hope you can say "Happy!" too. =)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meg vs. Decor: Customizable Bunting Round-Up!

Bunting and garland is so in right now, and I am loving it. After making our Thankful Tree today (more on that to come), I thought the wall needed a little something to finish it off. A Thanksgiving message on garland? Just the thing. So I headed over to Pinterest to see what there was to see.

I wasn't sold on any of the Thanksgiving-specific printables I found, so I started looking for alphabet sets that I could customize myself. There are some really cute, free, printable alphabet sets available! So I thought I would put them all together and share what I found to save you (and me in the future) the scouring.

First up, good old Martha Stewart came through, as usual:

Found here.

Found here.

Found here.

Found here.

I love this one from Ruffled:

Such fun patterns and colors!

And Flights of Fancy put this one together with two different font types:

You can find this fun set at Wild Olive. Wouldn't it be super cute for a kids' party?

And if you like a vintage feel, try this one from Rook No. 17:

Here's a cutie from Jolly Allsorts:

Here's a simple set from Small Types:

Another from Shanty 2 Chic:

And one in miniature from The Tomkat Studio!

There you have them--have fun! I'll share my finished tree and banner tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Meg vs. Thanksgiving: Fall Handprint Garland

I love handprint crafts. If you search "handprint" on Pinterest you will find seven kajillion (of course that is a number!) amazing, creative, super fun handprint crafts to do with your kiddos. My three-year-old has been dying to do a footprint with paint ever since he saw the kids on Barney make Halloween ghost footprints, so when I saw turkeys on Pinterest that had handprints AND a footprint, I knew we were golden. (Oddly, none of the links to the actual turkeys worked, so I won't link back to any originals. We started out the fun by looking at some pictures of real turkeys online, then got to work.

Now as much as I love a cute handprint, I am not really into making extraneous messes, so my kids aren't really well trained with hand painting/stamping activities. More specifically, my almost-two-year-old cannot hold still for more than about two seconds, so I didn't think that doing all the prints right onto the turkey would work for us. I decided to just have the boys do a whole bunch of prints onto a paper bag (since I am too cheap to buy real craft paper) and then assemble the turkeys later. I have these Crayola Washable Kids' Paints, and we have really liked them and haven't had any problems with staining, which is good since I neglected to strip my kids down this time before we got going.

I had them stamp their feet twice just in case, which worked out because at the last second I thought to take advantage of the extra paint on their hands and make a little tree canopy so we would have some fall foliage to add to our decor as well.

Then when the paint dried, Big Brother and I cut out the hands and feet and glued them together, added some googly eyes and a couple spots of paint, and behold:

Handprint/footprint turkeys!

We taped them on to some yard with our fall trees, then hung them up in the living room.

Big brother and I also redecorated our branches for fall, since our spring buds (cut out from paint chips) were in poor shape. Here's the before & after:


Much more festive!

And I cut out two leaves to cover the tape we used to hang up our garland.

Super easy, the boys love it, and I think it's decor the grandparents will appreciate, as they are all coming to visit around Thanksgiving time.

I have to admit, I couldn't decorate for Thanksgiving without starting to get excited for Christmas. Growing up we always put up our tree and all of our decorations the day after Thanksgiving, so the two are intertwined for me. We may or may not have tuned in to Christmas Radio on Pandora. Don't judge me.

Here's to the start of the Holiday Season!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Meg vs. The Backyard: Cleaned up!

A friend of mine does some landscaping/yard cleaning on the side. I knew that with the baby, exams, and the bathroom still out of commission, we weren't going to get to it any time soon, so we contracted it to my friend. We basically told them to clear everything to the ground so we can rototill. Here is the result:

Clearly we need to make a trip to the dump before we can get to tilling.

The yard looks SO much bigger! We have a lot of work to do, but I am excited. I can envision letting my kids play here without wondering what animals are in the bushes (there really was a raccoon one evening, and we have tons of squirrels). Hurrah!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals November 5-10

Toward the end of last week Mr. Newborn was napping really well, and I just about caught up on the housework and did some baking, and I thought, "Wow, I think I can start working on house goals again." Then the last couple of days he is Mr. I-Want-To-Nurse-And-Be-Held-And-Not-Nap and we are not getting so much done around here... So I am going to go ahead and set some goals, but keep them flexible, and not assign them to particular days. You never know how a day might go around here.

November 5-10
*Seal the grout on the new bathroom tile.
*Do two Thanksgiving activities with the boys.
*Re-fill the green waste bin.
*Get gas for the lawnmower and mow the lawn (or make the hubs do it).
*Install the new toilet seat in the front bathroom.

Here we go!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Meg vs. Halloween: Big Tee to Totoro (or any animal!)

I meant to post this before Halloween, but you know how those things go. In true Japanese form, my kiddos love the movie My Neighbor Totoro . If you haven't seen it, you should! It is so so very cute and fun. A timeless classic.

I thought that a Totoro costume would be easy to pull off, and Big Brother already had this Totoro Hat, so I got to work. Big brother was going to be the big grey Totoro, Little Brother would be his little blue friend, and Baby Brother would be a Soot Sprite. Little Brother's costume was the most difficult, because there was no pre-made hat to buy, and I had a hard time finding any plain blue clothing in his size. Finally I came across this boys' XL tee at Wal-Mart, and figured I could work with it.

I wanted it to be a bit big, since I wouldn't have matching pants and the character is kind of round. So I grabbed a hoodie to use for my pattern.

First I cut new, shorter sleeves from the old sleeves.

Next, I folded the hoodie and the shirt in half, laid the hoodie down, and cut around it.

 I laid it all out to make sure the sleeves would fit the curve for the arm holes.

Then I sewed the sleeves back to the shirt, sewed up the sides, and hemmed the bottom.

I had this band from the bottom hem, out of which I cut my hat.

With some felt and a few extra tee shirt scraps, I appliqued on the little Totoro's eyes, nose, and tummy, and I was done! It really was a quick project, and you could easily do any number of animals the same way.

My little fellows were happy with the results! (Even if I did make the hat too small; my kids have really big heads.)

Happy Halloween! On to Thanksgiving fun, then Christmas! Eek!