Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crafting Up Some Christmas Cards

If you know me you know that I LOVE making things, especially cards and invitations. Unfortunately, I also tackle projects that take WAY more time than I have. I can't help myself!
It all looks like such fun and I have the best intentions, but I just frustrate myself with trying to finish things at the last minute. In the past I have made beautiful handmade cards (finished sometime in January) only to get bogged down with addressing them and NEVER mail them out! That year I think I threw away my carefully crafted cards in August!

This year I think I have finally wised up. I have been using Shutterfly for years to print photos, create calendars, and even to make the photo playing cards we used for Lydia's Alice in Wonderland Birthday Party. They turned out so cute and I don't think I ever got around to showing them off. For her party, we just ordered one deck and handed out individual cards as favors. They are the same size as wallet sized photos, only they had the playing card backing and that great plastic coating. PERFECT for the Wonderland theme. Come to think of it, the cards aren't that expensive to give as a gift for Christmas, but I digress.

Back to the Christmas cards. Shutterfly has so many Christmas Photo Cards to choose from! It might take me as long to choose a design as it would take me to make a card. Or maybe I am underestimating how long it takes me to actually make things again. Actually, looking at all the designs was fun. I still cant decide and there are even more designs here and here. Part of the problem is that I haven't taken our holiday picture yet. I know we will all be in black and white, so what do you think about this design?
Or this one?

Of course, at the same time I am ordering the cards, I need to organize our Christmas Wall Calendars . We always make one for our daycare provider. I love that we are able to put multiple pictures on each month. That way each month features the children who have birthdays that month. You can also put a picture of the child on that actual day on the actual calendar. This is GREAT for reminding all the kids and the parents who has a special day coming up, so gifts can be purchased ahead of time.

Last year I also made a Lydia Calendar for each of the grandparents. Each month I put a picture of Lydia from that month this year, so that when that month rolls around in the new year, you can compare the Lydia of today with how she looked a year ago. I have been amazed at how much she has grown and I think the grandparents really enjoyed it. Some of them read the blog so I can't comment if we will continue the tradition, but it was a really fun idea!

Finally, in the I wish I had infinite time category.... I wish I had time to throw a Holiday Get-together that was fancy enough to deserve some of these beautiful invitations . Who am I kidding. I will be pushing it just to get the picture taken and uploaded to Shutterfly. Fortunately, for a fee, they can even address and mail the cards for me! Hopefully I won't be that rushed fro time, but I do have 2 new classes to teach, a birthday to celebrate, and a toddler to chase.....so it's nice to know the option exists!

Shutterfly has been kind enough to offer bloggers like me an opportunity to get 50 Christmas Cards....FREE! Want to find out more? Check out all the great deals, including this special Blogger promotion, at Shutterfly!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thifty Thursday

We have all fought a nasty stomach virus this week. Lydia had it Sunday, one of my co-teachers had it Monday, I had it Tuesday, Jen and my other co-teacher both had it Wednesday, and PJ was down with it Thursday. So, when I picked Lydia up from daycare on Thursday, we did a little thrift store shopping to kill some time and keep us out of his way for more of the evening. I found a few great toys for Lydia. This is my favorite for now! It was a big bag full of wooden nuts, bolts, and connector pieces. There is a wooden hammer and screwdriver and one separate Melissa and Doug nuts and bolts toy. All of it for $3! This is SO perfect for where Lydia is at right now. She is really into manipulating things and her little fingers are just able to twist the bolts and screws. She hasn't made any creations yet, but has had fun tinkering. PJ, on the other hand, built a giant horse with the majority of the pieces. Its like an erector set for the toddler set. So cool!
I also found these great blocks. They have one blue side, and then the rest have white stripes with red outlines. The stripes are positioned in such a way that you can connect the stripes and create a pattern that moves from block to block. So far, Lydia just likes moving and stacking them, but at some point I am sure she will notice the neat stripe. Not bad for $2!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Advent Calender Adventures

I saw this template for advent calendar houses last year and instantly began dreaming of making my own. Of course in my dream I started on them really early so that they were finished by now! I have been looking for the right materials, because I don't really like the idea of them just being thin paper. I wanted to find more of a paper-mache style box that I could transform into a house and decorate, but it hasn't happened and now I don't have the time. My main idea was that we don't have much space that I am willing to devote to a wall advent calendar. I don't like the idea of one that sits out on a table and takes up space either. My thought with the house/boxes was that they could be hung from our tree. I liked the idea of looking for the right number house for the day and then opening it to find a surprise.

Then I saw this neat idea for writing a clue about where to find the advent treat on a wooden spool and realized that there are many more options for interesting advent adventures that don't have to fit into a box. So here I am, with very limited time, dreaming about getting together. I doubt I could get all the spools together in time for December 1, so that idea is out.

Here are my two favorite ideas after a quick search online. Martha Stewart had this cute baby sock advent calendar idea. It is supposed to use up all the misplaced socks, but I would want to go out and buy really good looking semi-matched designs, so it could get pricey! Also, we end up with SO many stockings on our fireplace, this would only work if we got rid of socks as we went and added our stockings or swapped our stockings for these on Christmas eve? Cute, but maybe to complicated for my house.
Right now this is my favorite! I love this idea from http://www.anetteshus.com/ of putting little parcels inside a suitcase. The original website is in a foreign language, so I am gleaning what I can here. I would need to find an old or old looking suitcase. Small investment there, but it could be fun to search for one. All the advent goodies could arrive on the same day along with the suitcase. Or, maybe Santa's elves bring them the night the tree gets finished. Hmmmm..... That might create some little kiddy enthusiasm for helping get the tree up. Maybe there needs to be a by-line that the tree has to be finished AND the decorating boxes etc. put away before the elves leave any packages. Or how fun would it be to check the mail periodically for new parcels to add to the case? I like the idea of not having to have it ALL figured out ahead of time, but adding to it through the month. The "packages" could be simple brown bags, old mailing envelopes, etc. Sounds simple. The suitcase could get closed and opened to reveal new packages. I feel like I have time to figure that part out. The suitcase could go under the tree or next to the fireplace for Santa or the elves to drop in the gifts. I think I am sold on the idea. Any other better ideas? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Halloween Wrap Up

Have I mentioned that I LOVE Halloween? I think I have been posting Halloween stuff since early September. Here are a few final Halloween images that got lost in the shuffle.
I took Lydia to "Boo at the Zoo" for the first time this year. We had a great time wandering around with friends, seeing the animals at night, and of course getting candy! My favorite part was riding the carousel....BACKWARDS! Lydia seems to be enjoying it too.
Somehow I misplaced the pics of Lydia carving pumpkins.
Well, not actually carving, but sticking her hand in, getting grossed out and then letting mommy and daddy take over.
Here are the finished pumpkins.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Halloween, the sequal!

So apparently I am worthless for about a week after Halloween! Especially if my party is at the end of the week, and then the following week at school includes both an art conference and a time change! Whew! I have been meaning to finish up with Halloween pictures that were actually taken on October 31st. Daddy was still a monkey, but with much improved makeup.
Lydia was big enough to reach the doorbell and began to understand that saying "trick or treat" would lead to candy! I think she liked the idea!
And finally, here is our little family enjoying Halloween together.