Mid Century Monday #9 – Eames chairs and kitchen scores

It’s been harder for me to come up with Mid Century Modern posts these days. Not because I love the style any less, but because stuff is pricey and we aren’t buying stuff left and right.

We did find some Charles Eames for Herman Miller chairs a few weeks ago and decided to grab them up. I don’t know for sure that we have a home for all 3, so some may only be here in passing. But, at least one of these chairs is a keeper!

I really like the idea of period appropriate finds in the home, so we are always on the hunt. Just low key lately, because, well…Dave Ramsey and saving money and whatnot.

Here are the funky chairs. They belonged to Southeast Missouri University at some point, according to stickers. But they also had that Herman Miller stamp and I was so proud of myself for spying them!

Looking for makers marks on furniture is a fairly new concept for me.

These chairs are probably better suited at a desk, which works because I am in the process of looking for a desk. But, for now, they are fun in here and the orange works nicely with our vintage fireplace on the other side of the room.

Plus, they spin so the boys are in heaven.

Today was an exciting day for Mid Century Modern finds because we were GIVEN some really cool pieces. I am especially digging this atomic veggie and dip tray!

And the colors on these are so cheerful! The coral is vintage Pyrex which I love. If you haven’t ever just Googled “vintage Pyrex” and seen some of the gorgeous colors and collections, it’s worth it.

And finally a full set of these pretty patterned dishes that go perfectly in our bright St. Charles Kitchen.

Going with short and sweet this time around–happy Mid Century Monday all!

tidying up takeover

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Netflix hit the nail on the head for a lot of us by airing Marie Kondo’s series on January 1. Before I even heard about it, I (along with tons of other people I’m sure ) had mulled over the idea of a good decluttering and deep cleaning after putting away holiday décor.

I knew I wanted to tidy up things like my shoes and my medicine cabinet and a few more high traffic/quick fix areas and actually posted about that here.

But the more I watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the more I let myself imagine how nice it would be to truly tackle the whole house, maybe even once and for all.

I am honestly not a pack-rat type. I am lucky in that I don’t usually form attachment to clothes the boys have outgrown or too many items other than a small amount of sentimental ones.

I like to even consider myself well-organized and a quasi-minimalist (in that I don’t like things on my counters or in my line of sight). But still, tackle the whole house? Marie Kondo recommends getting this all done at once, and what better time than dreary dull January?

It dawned on me that I was like many of the families on the show with fairly tidy living areas but some truly messy closets, drawers, and problem areas. Some of my closets and cabinets really aren’t even messy, they just aren’t organized and random. Items wind up where they don’t really belong and this leads to a difficult time finding things or not realizing what you have and buying doubles.

I had some skeletons in my closets, or the closets were the skeletons.

You know what I mean.

I think Marie Kondo is smart to ask her clients to just imagine the kind of home and life that they want for themselves. I pictured tidy junk drawers and spice cabinets and for things to stop falling out of the front
hall closet when I open it.

Why does this really matter, you may ask?

I am a huge believer in the concept that visual clutter can cause stress. I have been known for years to straighten pillows and fold blankets in the living room before bed or clear out all the kids toys before relaxing with a movie. That is because I am positive I feel happier without seeing the junk.

But I am also starting to believe the invisible clutter can cause stress as well. I know for a fact that front hall closet is a disaster. It has housed some odds and ends for the 2 years we’ve lived here that really deserve their own home. I know that my sheets and comforters aren’t exactly folded in the linen closets; they are just shoved or stuck in there. I know the one junk drawer in the kitchen has turned into two.

And even though those drawers are shut and those cabinets are closed, I know it’s all there. So technically the invisible clutter is still with me. Imagine the wonderful feeling of having no real problem spot in the home.

I know… this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. A straightened couch pillow before bed might sound like lunacy and a second junk drawer may not bother you in the slightest. That’s okay!

But I think many people are like me—and we are those people who have been posting trash bags full of junk since January 1 thanks to Marie Kondo.

I didn’t follow her format or order 100% but still giving her the credit for my motivation and wanted to share some wins with you all! It’s mainly about the folding for me, it’s my favorite part!

My scarf drawer–I wish I had a before picture. It was difficult to close! I purged things with holes and stuff but really this isn’t much less than before and sooo much more room with the new fancy folding
sweat shirt drawer before–they really are sort of folded. Just rummaged through.
After with no purging! They all brought me a comfy Saturday on the couch kind of joy.
Cleaning supplies–the before was such a mess. We have 2 of a lot of things! I would have never known before.
This would be a “during” shot of the laundry room. Can’t wait to be ready with that after!
Tom’s closet before, and sideways. It was folded and fairly neat but drawers were impossible to close if everything was washed..
Tom’s closet after. If there is one thing I take away from Marie Kondo it’s this folding. It is a space saver and shows you everything at a glance! Like Tom’s 50 shades of khaki (AFTER purging many!)
Before cups/glasses. This doesn’t even show all the sippy cups that we leave sitting out on the drying mat because they don’t fit well.
I purged a ton of old sippy cups that were starting to leak or be gross. I moved seasonal to our holiday storage. I got stackables that save space and are super cheap and easy to clean. Win! Also got rid of an embarrassing amount of coffee mugs.
These are the take and toss cups and I’m a convert.
before – TWO full junk drawers.
After – one junk drawer and one drawer left for who knows what.
Paper storage was really nice to get a handle on. We did have a file cabinet and fairly ordered system, but it was a pain to get to. Now I have 4 binders: tax returns, home and auto, personal (sections for each of us) and manuals! Appliances, complex toys, the Roomba, grills–you can find the all in this handy binder. And if you ever go to resell an item, buyers may appreciate the manual!

Kids’s paper clutter is another thing all-together. I am so so happy with this system I started last year.

This pretty spice cabinet makes me happy now! Spices do expire, and we had quite a few duplicates that I combined!

My full list is a little crazy. I am not halfway finished yet but I am enjoying this process. I am spending maybe an hour after the kids go to bed as well as my lunch break most days to power through it.

I haven’t done much with boxes but I love how she makes drawers neat an organized with them. I have these soft boxes in my cart!

Listening to a podcast while organizing helps!

Could this be the last time I ever purge?!

I think a lesson you learn by cleaning out all these areas is that you don’t want to just do it again next year. How do you prevent that?

Being super conscious about what you buy. I am completely on board
for buying less because I’m ready to get back on the Dave Ramsey train anyway.

I would recommend cleaning out just one little drawer for anyone out there who thinks I’m nuts. It just feels good! And for those of you going full on Kon-Mari—tell me all about it!

So here’s to 2019 and less visible and invisibe clutter–why I’m tidying with Marie Kondo!

children’s book series

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One of my new year’s resolutions was to read a book to each child before bed each night. We were okay at this before—maybe 75% of the time. But I really want to work at making it constant.

I am guilty of choosing shorter (but still good!) books for my almost 4 year old, and I think he is really ready to move on to longer stories.

We have done a few this past week that take me a good 20-30 minutes to read and I am thinking WOW this is quite a book. But then I imagine how calming that must be to lay there in bed and end the day relaxing and listing to a nice long bedtime story and I am happy I’m doing it.

I hope to instill a love of reading in the boys and I don’t want to let a busy night lead to the bedtime story falling by the wayside.

Today I am going to recommend a shorter board book that my 2 year old loves. He gets such a kick out of it, it was a clear first choice for my children’s book series.

The book is Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski and it’s pretty simple. It does not rhyme or contain more than one or two short sentences per page. But something about it makes Tom’s face light up.

Of course this could simply be due to the fact that he is a die hard cowboy fanatic. We’ve only read it 10 times in the last few days after all. See below he is “roping” with that wild arm.

Unlike a lot of kid’s books we read, Cowboy Small isn’t really there to teach a lesson on sharing or washing hands and there isn’t much by way of a moral to the story.

Cowboy Small does fall off a horse and get back up on another one, which is nice and we have discussed why he’d try again.

I think the stand out is the illustrations. The book has a vintage feel with bright illustrations in what looks like an older hue.

When I looked up when the book was written, and Amazon said 2001. However, it’s actually a new edition since the author lived from 1893-1974. It was written in 1949. There is a series of “Small” books including Papa Small and Policeman Small that we will probably try out soon.

I would recommend this to any little cowboy or cowgirl in your life. Great as a gift and inexpensive enough to buy just because!

That’s all for this little children’s book series. I am going to do a quick recommendation each month to keep me on track with our bedtime stories, offer recommendations to my readers, and have a written record of what my kids were loving at any given time in 2019.

easy things to do around the house this January

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Do you get that itch to organize and deep clean each January?

It always feels like such a fresh start. We enter a new year with a zest to be better and with the best of intentions.

Will it last all year? Doubtful. But why not strike while the iron is hot and spend those dull dreary January days whipping your house into shape, little by little?

If you are lacking motivation to get started, there is always the new Marie Kondo Netflix series.

I love how she never forces anyone to purge-the lady who said two bathrobes sparked joy I was just sure would be urged to pick a favorite by Marie. Instead Marie seems to love when items spark joy and never suggests something shouldn’t.

It is refreshing compared to the world of HGTV where every single house is criticized for it’s “outdated granite” or bad paint colors. In this series there is never one mention of outdated color schemes or furniture or the more blandly decorated homes that could have used some art work or accent walls, only happiness for people who can tidy up.

The whole sparking joy process is a big project. If you are ready to tackle that then more power to you! I have definitely filled some trash bags this weekend, thank you to the Netflix show.

But if you want to do a little less (and still feel a big impact) here is a list of my go-to quick and easy around-the-house tasks so you can bask in a sense of accomplishment:

  1. Ligth bulbs. Is it just me or do you ever limp along with less than ideal lighting because a bulb or two has gone out? I currently have one bathroom and two kitchen bulbs out and have done nothing about it for 2 months. January is a great time to not only go ahead and swap these out, but to dust your bulbs and clean your fixtures!
  2. Junk drawer(s). If you only have one, I am impressed. Of the top of my head I have two in the kitchen, one in the utility room and one in the bathroom. And I like to think I’m a fairly organized person! Anyway, there is nothing wrong with a drawer for a few odds and ends, but when it becomes too stuffed to use it’s pointless. Cleaning these out is one of my favorite organizing tasks. They stay organized for about 5 days, but who’s counting?
  3. A place for everything. No, I’m not saying to go through your whole home with a label maker and become ultra-organized overnight. But, I do truly believe in the saying “a place for everything and everything in its place.” It is easier for me to keep the house picked up because I
    know where to put (most) things. And if you stick with this, your family members know where to put things as well. Eventually, you all just start putting items in their homes from the start! Anyway, what I mean by this task is, have you come into something new that doesn’t have a home yet? For us this year it is arts and crafts stuff for the kids. Being 2 and 3, we haven’t done a whole lot of painting or playing with clay, glue, glitter etc. until the last year. Recently it seems like we have a mountain of play-doh, coloring books, markers, colored pencils, stickers, pipe cleaners, paint sets, googly eyes, glue etc and, I love it, but I just don’t know where it goes. Whatever your odd items may be, take a little time to gather it up and create a specific space.
  4. Clean your appliances. The inside of the washing machine, the dryer lint area, the microwave, the oven, the dishwasher (if you haven’t ever cleaned your dishwasher, I’m telling you to do it now. The filter will horrify you.) You don’t have to do all this at once. But spaced out in 15-20 minute increments over the month of January, imagine how great you’ll feel with fresh clean appliances!
  5. Vacuum the edges. I have a Roombathat I love. I also have a Shark that I love. Between these two, our home is vacuumed fairly often (mainly because we have a dog).But, have you ever taken the slanted end hose attachment and run it along where the carpet or floor meets the wall in every room? A lot of dirt and dog hair can get stuck there and the vacuum doesn’t always reach it. So get the edges of the rooms as well as the corners of all your closets the next time you get the vacuum out. It shouldn’t add more than 20 mins to regular vacuuming.
  6. Shoes. If you have kids, you might have a few outgrown or worn out beyond wear shoes tossed aside in the closet. And if you are like me, the bottom of your own closet may look like a sea of shoes with some random clothing price tags scattered about. I like to pull every shoe out, vacuum, and organize them into rows. It’s an early look too on what shoes everyone needs for spring. I wear my sandals to death so don’t let the first warm day sneak up on you without a pair ready to go! I did this task over the weekend and it took no more than 15 mins for my closet and it’s so much nicer to look at now!
  7. Medicine cabinet/bathroom drawers. Wherever you keep the toothpaste, contact solution, make up remover, deodorant. This place could probably use a good purge and a wipe down. Get a new toothbrush or refill the jar of cotton balls. I sometimes leave an empty product just sitting there for whatever reason….so pitch stuff like that, check expiration dates, etc. This is a quick task but since you use this area every day you will appreciate it!

That’s my own little list for January. Of course there are a few large projects I want to tackle including finishing painting the bathroom tile I started back in March on the third bathroom. I just left the area behind the shower curtain and it’s so out of sight out of mind I have let it go 10 months…oops!

I’d love to hear if anyone else is planning any particular cleaning or organizing this month! If you have not watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo I do recommend the quick 8 episode series or her book for some motivation!

taco night basket

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Our family has always loved taco night. It is easy comfort food at our house and I feel good making it because it’s not from a box or a freezer. I am not a home-cooked every night type of mom, after all.

We do taco night once a week pretty consistently and have for years. I wish I could find the picture of our first born enjoying taco night at table level. Laid out like a topping.

And by the way this was a random recommendation to me by my aunt who is wonderful with babies. When they are super tiny and can’t roll yet but want to scream all through dinner time (aka the witching hour) just put them right on the table. It really did work for ours.

Just don’t walk away from the table! I know you wouldn’t but I just had to add include a baby safety disclaimer if I’m going to recommend laying them on a table…

Anyway, as much as we love taco night, we’d love to mix it up a little. Currently taco night for us includes browning hamburger meat and adding a seasoning packet and then sitting out soft tortillas, sour cream, jalapenos, lettuce, cheese and some sauces. We include chips and salsa some times.

If I’m feeling like we are in a rut, I make chicken tacos instead. I just cook the chicken with a seasoning packet and some salsa in my crock pot all day and then shred it in the stand mixer, but all toppings stay the same.

It’s a very tex-mex approach that I do love, but I am excited to start our year of varying taco nights!

Here’s how I got the idea:

My husband, who has always been an excellent gift giver, needed another gift under the tree and I was drawing a blank coming up with a great idea.

He had been intrigued by the Man Crates commercial so I went to the website. They do have really cool gifts, but Travis really likes to research his stuff. Be it fishing gear, knives, grill stuff, hunting stuff—he enjoys the hunt for exactly what he wants, and I didn’t think a big box of items he hadn’t selected would be his favorite.

That is until I came across the taco man crate and thought he would love it!
However, for $100, it came with a tortilla press (which we already have) some sauces, some corn flour to make your own tortillas (um…yeah right), a tortilla warmer and a cook book.

Not to knock Man Crates at all because I love the idea of it, but I knew I could DIY this crate with more bang for my buck.

First of all I needed a crate and luckily was traveling to a town with a Michaels so I picked it up for under $10.

I filled it with:

the taco tuesday cookbook or try this Taco Tuesday cookbook adult taco holders

dinosaur taco holders for kids (it’s a family meal night after all!)

a tortilla warmer

Chips

a 6 pack of Mexican beer

sauces

Margarita salt

I did two this year:

Depending on how many taco holders you’d like, what sauces and food items you want to include or what cook book you go with, this cute and fun family basket can be done for about $60-$90.

Plus, I love the crate to use for storage or books or toys!

I am a huge fan of themed gift baskets/boxes and think this would be well-received as a wedding gift, a house warming gift, a father’s day gift, etc.

I have perused the book and it gives so many taco recipes from breakfast tacos to pork tacos, street tacos, and so many more. It will be a year of adventurous taco eating for us and I’ll share any of the stand out recipes along the way!

curly girl method – one month

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It has officially been a month since I quit using harsh shampoos (I only caved twice and used a special “low-poo”), towels, brushes, parabens, sulfates, silicones, etc.

I am loving it! My hair seems to like it too. I have some good days and some bad hair days just like before, but I have seen noticeably less frizz and better definition.

My routine is pretty much second nature by now. It has not changed much from my first post but if you haven’t read that one, here is what I do:

Condition scalp with fingertips to “wash” it using Not Your Mother’s Conditioner .

Add conditioner throughout (squish to condish method) and then use this in-shower comb under running water to detangle.

Squish in a bit more conditioner(don’t rake it!), let sit a minute, then rinse out 80%.

Flip head over (turn the shower off at this point or you’ll feel like your drowning, so I learned) and scrunch/squish out as much water as you can over and over.

Add in a dime size of Cantu Curl Activator in a squishing/scrunching motion. I do this in the shower because I read it was best to use on very wet hair.

Scrunch out even more water with a t shirt then add this cream and this gel

Plop overnight in a t shirt, if I wake up and it’s still too damp to air dry, I diffuse briefly.

Once dry, I scrunch out the crunch (SOTC in curly instagram lingo) with dry hands and sometimes this argan oil

It sounds like a lot of work but it’s not really. And I’m trying to only do this every 3 days now!

During showers that you don’t wash, use a shower cap. I use this cute one. On nights you don’t plop, sleep with hair on top of head in a fairly loose scrunchy.

On non-wash days, if hair looks bad, I “refresh” aka spray in a homemade conditioner/water mixture and a little gel and re-scrunch.

When I blogged about this at the 10 day point, I hadn’t learned about gel yet!

I have historically avoided crunchy gels. But I recently learned that a crunch or a “cast” over the hair is good! You just need to scrunch it out.

Thank you Instagram curly hair gurus!

I have a lot to learn, but I’ve found this little community of curly and wavy girls on IG and it’s nice to learn about techniques, read product reviews, see results etc.

Here are pictures to show progress! Some days it looks worse than the day before and some days better. I am still learning what works best for me. But I am happy with it and recommend to anyone with struggling waves or curls!

Sorry for all the selfies…

I woke up to these cute little twisties two weeks into CGM and I was so proud of them!
This is a plop! This is what I look like every 3 nights. My boys and husband get a kick out of it. The things we do for our hair! It stays in place all night, this is the next morning after sleeping in it all night and getting ready completely.
This is still damp but how it looks straight out of the plop. Pretty fool proof mornings compared to what I am used to!
I know I look thrilled about this, but it was day 3 hair…this was my first time trying a refresh on day 3 (was washing every other before this).
Ignore my first attempt at root clipping. I was shooting for volume but researching how to do it correctly is my month 2 goal. This is my little DIY refresh day bottle.
A little frizzy but not too shabby for 5 mins and a spray bottle! I am still learning to perfect refreshing.
Week 3, my first time using Cantu Curl Activator. It may be too heavy for my hair but I bought it and am going to use it up before trying another. I was really struggling with feeling like my hair was dirty here.
The underneath of my hair used to resemble a rat’s nest. On one hand this picture also resemles a rat’s next BUT I am starting to see some defined curls too!
Week 4. Loving the definition and lack of frizz, but wondering if I have over moisturized or if Cantu is too much for my hair.
Same as above, I’m so happy to see minimal frizz, but its it a little wet looking? Can’t decide!
And finally the one month mark! I washed out all conditioner and used less product for a less heavy look.

Are you tired of hair selfies yet?!

For my 2 month check in and I am going to show you results from both root clipping and a DIY rice rinse (saw it on Instagram). I just bought my rice tonight and can’t wait!

Thanks for following along on this curly journey of mine. Let me know if you have tried the method. I love seeing hair transformations!

new year’s resolutions

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I am not a firm believer in New Year’s resolutions. I think they typically stick for a month or so because I think we often times aim too high and/or too broad.

Last year my resolution was “to simplify”. I wanted to have less crap in my home. Having two boys under 2 meant I felt like I was drowning in unused baby gear, clothing they outgrew constantly, and a gazillion trucks and action figures.

I purged the play room, the closets, the junk drawers, my wardrobe.
It ended up being a really great way to clean out the house, but it wasn’t some dramatic lifestyle change.

I’d say we have the same amount of stuff a year later…whoops!

Last year wasn’t a complete flop but it was more of a fresh start that fizzled out. There’s nothing wrong with a clean out, though, and I do think the New Year is a perfect time for that.

So if you are craving that freshly organized, got it all together, productive and clean January vibe then I recommend going over to for the January Cure. I have done this for years and really enjoy it!

I also have a Amazon gift card from Christmas that is going towards random cleaning items. It’s like one of those “you might be a redneck” jokes but about adulting:

If you have a Mr. Scrappy Brush, you might be an adult!

Now back to the resolution side of things….this year I still will set some, but I’m thinking if I blog about it and put it out into the universe, I will feel more tied to it.
I want to focus on:

  1. Reading each kid a bedtime story every night (poor Tom gets a few a week, but not like how we started out with Sam, second child problems!)
  2. Working out a minimum of 3x a week (hopefully more, but I don’t want to fail)
  3. Committing to date nights (we are busy people, but had a really fun date night last week and I am determined to come up with something fun each month)

To stay accountable, I plan to incorporate these into my blog as a sort of check-in point for myself as well as blog content for anyone interested. I think blog series are fun to follow and they also help me out with delivering better content as well as preventing writer’s block.

Here are my blog plans to go along with my resolutions:

  1. A monthly book review. I love childrens’ books! But they are definitely not all created equal. There have been many books that were picked up due a cute cover that have fallen flat. Travis and I often wonder if people are really making money off such bad books. So, once a month I will fill you in with a favorite that I highly recommend!
  2. I don’t want to write about how I have been working repeatedly over the next 12 months. That sounds pretty dull. But, I am going to commit to a once monthly post that revolves loosely around my efforts in the gym. Morning vs evening work outs. My favorite yoga pants. What
    podcast I am hooked on. You get the idea! I’ll feel like a fraud writing about these things if I am slacking, so I am hopeful this will keep me going!
  3. Date night ideas. There is no shortage of date night recommendations on Pinterest. I know I am not going to reinvent the wheel here. But, I like to think I am a frugal and creative person who can inspire you to mix it up a little. I am so looking forward to this resolution!

And there you have it! I am looking forward to what 2019 brings and wishing all my readers a Happy New Year!

If you feel like sharing, let me know your resolution in the comments!

Santa Stationery

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What a week! I haven’t blogged lately because I have a case of the Christmas crazies and, like many of you, am just trying to prep for the big day.

If you don’t have a to-do list with 14 things still left unchecked then I am impressed. I had good intentions this week, and then I got sucked into a 4 hour playroom purging, vacuuming, organizing, furniture rearranging, baking soda carpet refreshing FRENZY, and it has gone downhill from there.

Does anyone else make a to-do list and then randomly spend their time doing things that aren’t on it?

Yesterday on my lunch break I intended to knock out the last few presents that needed wrapping. Instead, I walked into the utility room where we keep the wrapping paper and got distracted by the mess so I decided it needed to be re-organized.

What.

Kind of like when your Christmas cards come in on December 19th and you know you have to get them all addressed right that moment and you choose to get sucked into the longest (but maybe greatest) movie ever The Sound of Music…

Fun fact: you WILL spell things wrong if you are trying to sing “Do Re Mi” while simultaneously writing. And it will take you 3 hours to complete this one item on your list 🙂

Meanwhile I decided homemade gifts are fun (they are!) and have been concocting a potion in beautiful/practical spray bottles and I can’t say for sure if it has turned out. Every day I add a little something to it and I may just have to remove homemade items off my list next year.

So…if you’re feeling a little Christmas crazy…

I get it.

You think you can get things finished on your lunch break but then you realize you have kids class Christmas parties or have to brave Walmart for one last stocking item and wind up stuck in there for an hour. Or your kids are sick with the usual December crumminess and no one is sleeping because of it. Maybe you are hosting the holiday and your house looks like a war zone.

I really get it. They don’t call it hustle and bustle for nothing!

But hey, it’s worth it. I try to set it all aside and focus on how much I love this time of year. Because I truly do.

My point to all this rambling is: I have something that might help you out! I created a simple Santa stationery just in case he needs to jot down anything for your kids!

Somewhere in my parents home there is a letter I wrote to Santa that said:

“Are you real? Check yes or no.”

Clearly I was listening to a lot of George Strait in the mid-nineties and had some inspiration for my letter. Santa checked yes and even left a few ash-smudged finger prints. It was such a cool touch.

I remember thinking even as a young child that I had proof because no two people have the same fingerprint. I could just stroll into the nearest police station and have them run the prints, ha!

I imagine Santa may leave a few fingerprints on his stationary this year! I know my kids will love it.

Also growing up there were a few years where Santa led us through our house with a series of clues to lead us to our shared family gift.

This year I believe he may be planning to give the clues to the present idea a go! After the kids open their presents, there may be clues to lead them to a big surprise–their new costume closet!

What better way for Santa to leave a little note, a clue, a fingerprint, a request for kiddos to be good all year, etc than on a piece of his own stationery!?

Click here for the printable PDF of the image below

I am looking forward to seeing what Santa comes up with for this clue/scavenger hunt present idea. He has’t decided just yet….but it’s on his to-do list 🙂

Meanwhile I have decided one thing for sure, the big man is getting slice and bakes from this house. Crossing that whole “try making gingerbread cookies for the first time” thing off my list never felt so good!

I know for a fact he won’t mind a bit.

Merry Christmas everyone!

cookie decorating party

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For as long as I can remember, I have decorated cut-out sugar cookies at Christmas time. We used to make them growing up–I remember stars, trees, bells, and candy canes.

My mom made them and we’d decorate with colored buttercream frosting we’d spread on with butter knives.

When I went to college I recreated the same thing. I wish I could find some pictures of the ones I decorated with college roommates! I do recall we rolled out the dough with a wine bottle because we had no rolling pin, ha!

After college I lived in an apartment with roommates and we decorated each year. When I moved into my first house, these friends came over to work on our cookies.  It’s tradition 🙂

I used to play bunco each month until a few years ago when we realized it wasn’t the dice game (that we hardly ever played) that we looked forward to each month–it was the company! We stopped playing bunco altogether and instead choose a fun activity each month that we otherwise might not get around to doing.

This cookie decorating party has become my designated “bunco month” the last few years and I love that the tradition carries on at my house in this way!

If you’ve ever wanted to host a cookie decorating party (for adults, kids, or both!) here are some tips for pulling it off with minimal stress:

  1. Start preparing 2 nights before. I made the cookies on Tuesday night and the icing on Wednesday night so Thursday evening I only had to lay it all out and wait for my guests. I needed enough for 10-12 people so I doubled the batch of dough as well as royal icing.
  2. Make clean up easy on yourself. I lined the whole table with a disposable table cloth and everyone got a paper plate.
  3. Have fun! some of my icing consistency was off, some of my cookies were on the crisp side, some of the sprinkles spilled…but none of us are professionals!

T get started you’ll need  a recipe for cookies that do not spread even a millimeter. This was especially important for me because I borrowed some impression cookie cutters and the imprints would disappear if the dough spread! 

I have used this recipe ( https://bakingamoment.com/cutout-cookies-neat-edges/ ) twice now and I really like it! Side note, do NOT try to double this at once in a stand mixer, there won’t be enough room.

Those wonky little Grinch trees are so adorable it doesn’t even matter that my cookies aren’t perfect!

I think baking the cookies is the fun part. Royal icing is a whole different story. It is a labor of love 🙂 To make it easier I usually use this Wilton Meringue Powder so that I don’t have to worry about egg whites.

Wilton’s website actually offers their royal icing recipe to use with their product but I don’t recommend it. I used probably twice the amount of water they called for.

I have found from experimenting that it’s best it to start out with 3 tablespoons of the meringue powder along with 6 tablespoons of warm water. After this is mixed together on low speed I add in 4 cups of powdered sugar. I usually add more water here if it’s crazy thick to get it to form stiff peaks.

Really just play around with water (in increments of just a few drops at a time!) to determine consistency. You want stiff peaks.  You can also add flavor–I did a little lemon juice and a little almond extract to get it to taste less like liquid sugar.

Coloring it is time consuming, which again is why I like to dedicate whole night to icing. Just crank up the Christmas music, get out some wine and take your time. I picked 6 colors. So you need to make your two batches of icing (or 1 for a smaller party), then separate it into 6 bowls. Use gel food coloring.

It should still be at stiff consistency from the mixer and you want to color each bowl and transfer the colored icing into piping bags(I don’t use tips, just cut the bags when you are ready to use) Don’t use all the icing, leave some in the bowl to turn into thin icing! Add small amounts of water slowly into each bowl until it is thinned out. If you pick up your spoon and let the icing fall back into the bowl, you want to see it all “disappear” into the rest of the icing within 10 seconds.

Here is a tip for transferring icing into piping bags–wrap the bag around a cup! Then you can spoon the icing in from a bowl using both hands.

Your outlining icing is stiff enough to stay in a piping bag and not spill out. The fill icing is thinner so I rubber-banded those. I put all completed icings in an air tight container and stored overnight at room temp. That is a huge perk to not using egg whites.

The next step is just to set everything up! I poured sprinkles into cupcake liners just so they were easier to pinch instead of having to shake and dump them onto cookies.

We really had a great time decorating and chatting. I look forward to this  night every year! We enjoyed fancy Aldi cheese (my idea of cooking), wine/beer, the Christmas Pop station and the company. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Best of all–here is a picture of clean up:

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas season! I always make enough extra cookies to save for the boys to decorate for Santa Claus. These cookies actually keep great in an air tight container or freezer! Stay tuned for their artistic talents coming up in about a week!

the green light to sleep in

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

After seeing the results I feel like I have to share my review with other parents who may benefit from a Hatch. I already left a glowing Amazon review and while I was writing such a long novel of a review I thought—this could be a blog post!

Our 3 year old (4 next month) Sam has always been a great sleeper. An excellent sleeper really. He is a Babywise baby through and through.
If you aren’t super familiar with that—I can’t recommend it enough. We basically did “Eat Wake Sleep” in that order every 3 hours-ish and stuck to a schedule. There is more to it than that and my love for the Babywise method is a whole different post that I may do one day!

My point is, from around 3 or 4 months of age, Sam started sleeping from 7:00pm-7:00am and not waking up at night. This continued until he was around 2 years old and we changed his bedtime to 7:30pm but he slept until 7:00am pretty much every morning unless he was sick.

 I take no credit for this and only have the book Babywise to thank for it— our second son was also a Babywise baby and while not quite as easy at first, he was also eventually a wonderful sleeper—so check it out!).

Anyway, early wakings were not something we had to navigate this far in our parenting journey other than the occasional sleep regression with our youngest, Tom. Sam loved sleep so much the sleep regressions missed him! We lucked out big time.

This summer both of our boys even had some weekend mornings where they’d sleep til more like 8:00am and 8:30am. Hallelujah.

Sometime into the fall, Sam started creeping back to an earlier wake time until it was more consistently 6:30am. This obviously wasn’t a huge deal, but we do try to be ready ourselves first and then get the kids ready/feed
breakfast/pack lunches etc. So his waking up at 6:30 was kind of cutting into my hair and make up time, ha!

Other that looking less than my best, I didn’t worry 🙂

I did not think we had a problem on our hands until his new waking time got to be closer to 6:00am. And then, the time change happened and 6:00am turned to 5:00am. The final straw was one week in early Nov where Sam woke me up at 4:45am and 4:55am several days in a row.

Just my opinion…but if the time on the clock doesn’t even start with a 5 yet, that’s the middle of the night, not the crack of dawn.

Fun side note—he really preferred waking me up…not so much his dad. Kids do have it out for their mother’s sleep sometimes 🙂

We tried making his bedtime later, we tried being stricter and just saying he couldn’t get out of bed until we came to get him, we tried sending him back to his room each time he woke up at and BEFORE the crack of dawn, we tried saying just get in bed with us and go to sleep.

None of it worked.

See here a picture of Sam who had been sent back to his room multiple times from 5:00am-6:00am on a Saturday only to wind up getting bored in his room, putting on a warewolf costume and water shoes, and coming to crash by our bed. He had tossed every shoe he owns out of his closet searching for the summer shoes.

Amusing? yes. How I want every morning to start? ehhhh.

I was especially bummed out that those early mornings when Sam was up an hour before normal we usually let him play a game on our phone or even start a cartoon and he really doesn’t need any more screen time than he already gets.

What had happened to our awesome sleeper of over 3 year?! Was this payback for not having to spend the first year of his life as sleep deprived parents?

I got to thinking that this could be a developmental leap ( I am a baby book freak, this developmental leap is referring to another one of my favorites—The Wonder Weeks).

Anyway, by developmental leap, I mean that I wondered if he was just getting older and had developed enough so that when he was waking in the morning he was mature enough and independent enough to start thinking about his day, what he was going to do, who he might see, and how it was going to go. So much so that he couldn’t get back to sleep.

He had actually recently begun saying “What are we doing today?” each morning when I woke him up (back in the good ole 7:00am days).

Also, I thought maybe he was having a hard time shutting out outside sounds like a garbage truck or my hair dryer or even birds chirping. In the past it may have just all been white noise to his little brain, but now perhaps he had developed into an older, more curious little boy who heard sounds that meant—New day! Wake up!

I needed a way to teach him when an acceptable time to start his day was, but he wasn’t quite old enough to read numbers. I did some Google research that led me to colored nightlights and “time to wake” alarms. I had heard of them but had no need so far. There are quite a few options to choose from.

This is very unlike me, but I went with the most expensive option—the Hatch. I read way too many negative reviews on the other ones. So many of them had weird quirks like a “yellow” stage where it’s okay to be awake but not leave the room which to me just encouraged more water shoe time. Anyway I didn’t want to just confine him to his room, I wanted him to get his sleep.

Another perk is that the Hatch was the only option that was both sound machine AND sleep trainer. The reviews glowed.

If we ever have another baby, our boys will share a room for a while. I told myself the Hatch would be an investment and something I think will come in very handy in a shared room so they won’t wake each other up.

So, how does it work?

It’s basically a sound machine and night light that can play a wide variety of sounds and display a very wide array of colors in any level of brightness. It can do color and sound at the same time or one or the other on their own. You set the programs on your phone on their free ap and it uses Bluetooth. And you can even go in and change it once the kid is sleeping (if you wanted).

I set ours up to be very simple. A dim red glow that they say enhances sleep (who knew?) starts at 7:45pm and plays a soothing white noise. At 7:00am, the noise stays on but the color changes to green. At 7:15am it goes off all together.

I decided to keep the noise running even as the green light turns on just to it wasn’t a jolt into silence that seemed like an alarm to wake up. Maybe he’d want to sleep til 7:02 and would like the white noise, despite the color of the Hatch? Anyway, you could pick countless ways to set this up.


How has it worked?

Better than I ever would have imagined.

Here is a little mantra we came up with so he’d remember—“red, red, stay in bed.” Of course we explained he could get up to go to the bathroom. However, we said he could not come wake up mommy and daddy until it was green.

On day 1 Sam came to us around 6:30am and told us it wasn’t green
yet. I had to laugh a little. So we explained again and tried again for night 2. That next morning he bolted out of his room at 7:00am yelling “it’s green it’s green!” He did this for the next 3 or 4 days. Technically, it was working.

However, he told us he was “waiting and waiting” for it to turn green. The light had given him a rule and he had obeyed it, but was it really solving the underlying problem of him waking up at the crack of dawn? It wasn’t…not yet at least.

I did some more research and I had this theory that he was no different than any normal adult. Many times I wake up at 4:00am or whenever it may be. I wonder briefly if it’s time to wake up. I glance over at my phone, the numbers confirm that it is not, so I roll over and go back to bed. I may even do that same thing at 6:00am if it’s a weekend.

I stay in bed until my clock tells me otherwise—not laying there waiting on the minutes to pass by, but usually going right back to sleep.

Sam was also waking up at odd hours wondering if it was the right time to get up, but now the light was instructing him whether or not it was. At first he was so excited for it to turn green, he never went back to sleep. But as time went on, there would be a day or two here and there where Sam would sleep through his green light “alarm” and we’d have to wake him up after 7:00am to get ready.

We have had the Hatch for a little over a month and Sam has slept in past the green the last 3 days in a row as well as 3 days last week. I think he is learning to allow himself to go back to sleep and get needed rest before it’s the right time to wake up!

(Yes, I am aware I just officially jinxed us.)

Who knows if my theory about the developmental leap was right. I am fairly confident, though, that he was developing a bad new habit that may have gone on too long and been quite hard to correct. Then again maybe it was a weird stage and he would have gone  back to sleeping in on his own.

Either way, I am so thrilled with the Hatch and all of it’s functions, and really do think it will come in handy should we ever have our two young boys sharing a room.

And in case you are wondering—I only wish I got a free Hatch for this review…but I did not. The opinion here is not sponsored in any way.

Anyone out there ever experienced this sudden shift in toddler wake time? I am still curious about it. If you do have this issue and haven’t tried a light yet… I obviously recommend the Hatch!