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Rebirth of the Fairy Garden {Wordless Wednesday}

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Reflecting on the Year & Preserving Memories

I’m fairly crafty, but I just can’t get behind “scrapbooking.” For one thing, “scrapbook” is not a verb. I’m sorry – it’s just not!

Can you conjugate it? NO! So stop saying that!


I love the idea of preserving our memories, but refuse to do it in that way. It’s too labor intensive, often too cutesy, and most things I’ve seen look cluttery. Since I’m trying to streamline my home, the last thing I want ANYWHERE is more clutter.

So, how to capture the special times throughout the year and have a record to look back on, without being all cheesy/cutesy/cluttery?

I’ve found a few ideas over at, and I’m totally on board.

First, printable questionnaire to fill out with your kids. How cool is that? My kids are just old enough to both get in to this, and we can add the pages to the backs of their baby books – which haven’t been updated since each had their first birthday, by the way. I like the idea of sitting down with them and reflecting on the year, and they’ll remember different things than Brian and I will. You can download these printables over at Today’s Mama.

Next: Memory jar to keep throughout the year, seen on Today’s Mama, courtesy of The Steamy Kitchen:

Keep a jar and some notes nearby, and everyone in the family can add notes or memories or little treasures throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Eve, you can open up the jar and relive all your memories together. Pinterest has a ton of other memory jar ideas. I’m now kicking myself for putting those Pinkalicious theatre tickets in the recycling bin last week! I’ll have to come up with a way to manage this without it seeming like more clutter in my house… notice a theme, here?

Finally, we are taking pictures of the kids artwork and creating an online gallery. The idea is that I don’t have to save EVERY. PIECE. Anna in particular creates several pieces of art every day – it gets a little overwhelming. So we’re capturing them digitally, and recycling. Yes – I said it – I’M RECYCLING MY DAUGHTER’S PRECIOUS ARTWORK. Are you judging me? Admit it! There are some pieces that I just can’t bear to put in the recycling bin, so I’ve put those in a nearby plastic tub. Employing this new system has kept the giant piles of paper from accumulating in my dining room. We’re even taking pictures of all of her school work, and since they’re automatically date-stamped, we have a great record of the progress she’s making with her handwriting and spelling as she moves through Kindergarten. Awesome, right? I’m feeling so organized!

What ways do you keep track of your memories throughout the year?



Filed under Family, Home

Holiday Fabulosas

sponsoredThanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring this post. There’s no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On!


I am blessed with many wonderful groups of women friends. One group of gals – we call ourselves Las Fabulosas Ravenosas – get together at each others’ homes monthly for food, wine and the very best conversations.

We’ve cried together, laughed together, everything in between together. Their friendship means the world to me, and I move mountains if necessary to not miss one of our “fabbies” get togethers.

Swarovski SnowflakeI usually host in December, because I just LOVE decorating and entertaining around the holidays. The beauty of our Las Fabulosas Ravenosas gatherings is that everyone brings amazing food, so the burden isn’t solely on the hostess. This leaves me free to concentrate on building a beautiful table, selecting a few starter wines (everyone brings wine, too – did I mention that?), and preparing one or two dishes.

Our darling friend used to always be in charge of desserts. She really loved coming up with fun surprises for us, but she had to go and move to Texas. I KNOW! TEXAS! Anyway, since I’m eating healthier and exercising more, I’m taking control of the desserts this month. I really enjoy the challenge of making something decadent that won’t be too high in calories or fat for us to enjoy. Plus, it’s got to go well with Champagne!

I don’t know what I’m going to make yet, but I’m already having fun pulling out the silver and crystal. I’m looking forward to seeing my gals, enjoying some great conversation and delicious food and wine. It’s a total bonus that I won’t have to drive home!

I’d love to hear about your holiday entertaining plans, and if you have any ideas for healthy(ish) desserts for me to make!

Happy Holidays,
Check out Duncan Hines’ website to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

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No-Mess Art for Anna!

Anna is so creative, she can’t resist a pen, crayon, scissors, paper, glitter… seriously, whatever she can get her hands on, she’ll make in to some form of artistic expression.

This can be charming, when she’s re-arranging flowers and sticks and pine cones in the yard to make funny faces. It can also be frustrating, when there are scraps of paper and glitter all over the house. Ask Brian about Anna’s constant art projects, and he’ll sigh heavily, roll his eyes, and bemoan the water color paints left out and the sticky brushes he had to clean up before dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, we both love that she is so artistic. But the mess gets to be a little much to take at times.

I was offered a Nomad Play™ iPad paintbrush to review with the kids, and I jumped at the chance because it seems like such a great way to encourage artistic expression without the actual paint. It’s a paintbrush stylus for iPads or other tablets, but the shape and size are designed for children.

Cute, right? There are a number of doodle and art apps for iPads and smart phones, but this stylus paintbrush keeps the fingerprints off the screen. A quality lost on the children, but appealing to me! Of these apps, iDoodle2lite is Anna’s favorite because she can create different shapes, then color them in. You can see other apps at, but we tried several and this was her favorite.

Anna's latest creation

Nomad Brush is offering one of my readers a free Nomad Play™ brush ($18 value)! Leave a comment on this page, then head here to enter the contest. The giveaway ends Thursday at midnight, so the winner can receive it in time for Christmas. Yay for that!

Now if only someone would invent an app that solved Anna’s need to cut paper into tiny bits and leave them all over the house…


I was given a Nomad Play™ brush to review hand over to my children. All opinions are my own that of my children.


Filed under Family, Technology & media

Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Okay, they’re probably more likely to be squirrel feeders. But we don’t care much!

Anna gathering

We have been so happy to be feeding the wildlife around our house. Between the hummingbird feeder and the popcorn & cranberry garlands, we’ve been having a lot of crafty wildlife fun. The pine cone bird feeders were a natural next step!

Fortunately, we live in a part of the world that has a lot of evergreens with cones, so it was easy to find friends with beautiful and plentiful pine cones for us to collect. It helped us with our project, and saved them from picking up cones for a while!


Pine cones (fir cones could work, but they tend to be smaller). If the cones are closed up or moist, put them in the oven at 200 for a while until they are dry and/or open. TIP: put foil under them, so if any sap drips out it doesn’t get on your pan!

I quickly realized that foil would save me a giant sap mess later, so I pulled them out and slipped a sheet of foil between them and the pan

• Peanut butter or lard. Make sure the peanut butter is all natural, no sense giving the woodland creatures a bunch of sugar or corn syrup. We don’t buy that crap artificial stuff anyway, so we used the Adams all natural that we had on hand. We used more than I expected, and I started feeling cheap about the peanut butter, so I went to Winco and bought some lard. It was much less expensive than peanut butter, and according to my handy bird expert (the zoo director!), lard & peanut butter are both great for the birds.

• Bird seed. I bought a 10 lb. bag at Fred Meyer for $9. I got a general mix that would appeal to widest variety of North American birds. Make sure it includes some black sunflowers, as those have really good protein.*

• String or ribbon to hang them.


1. Tie the string around whichever end of the cone you want to be the top. Don’t do what I did at first and start with the peanut butter – it only took one super-messy peanut butter string situation to teach me that the string should go first.

2. Use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter or lard all over the cone, tucking it into the spaces. I like mine to still look like pine cones and not just big blobs, but I’m sure the birds didn’t care.

3. Roll the coated cones in a bowl of seeds, and gently press the seeds into the lard/butter.

4. Hang it in a tree, and wait for the wildlife!

Happy birding!


*You can get specific seed blends for your area, so be sure to check. Cornell Ornithology Lab or your local Audubon Society are good places to check. I’ve also found a lot of good information on the Oregon State Extension Service website, so check your state.

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Filed under Family, Home, Nature

Twinkle Twinkle Little Snowflake

Swarovski Snowflake Star, the 2005 version on my tree last year.

I splurged on a beautiful crystal star ornament the year Brian and I got married. It cost $50, which seemed like a fortune at the time, but it was so beautiful, and had a little silver tag that read, “2001.” I wanted it as a keepsake from the year we got married. The next year, the price had gone up to $55, but I decided to get the 2002 version anyway. Now of course, I have to get one every year! I’m stuck!

Dayl got in to the tradition as well, and together we would visit the Swarovski store in Downtown Portland and buy our annual ornaments. A couple years ago, though, Dayl discovered something: the very same ornaments are available on Amazon fro $10-30 less than in the store!

I protested at first, “But Dayl, it’s so much fun to go to the store together and buy our ornaments!”

Her wise response: “Yes, but is is $30 worth of fun?”

Yeah, not so much.

The 2011 snowflake looks GORGEOUS, and of course it’s my 10th Christmas being married to Brian. The kids love looking at each year of the Swarovski Snowflake, and we discuss significant things that happened each year. Anna got a little annoyed last year that I wouldn’t actually let her put them on the tree, maybe I’ll let her help with them this year.

On Amazon, it’s $60. In stores, it’s $75. I for one can spend that $15 on some other things!

What special splurges or traditions do you do for the holidays each year?

Happy holidays,


Filed under Family, Home

The Advent of Anna’s Birthday, and also… Advent.

My poor little Anna has been obsessing about her birthday since September.

When will it be my birthday?
Why is my brother’s birthday before mine, but I’m older than him?
I can’t wait for it to be my birthday!

I was worried that she would spend so much energy worrying about this one day, that it would come and go and then she’d be disappointed.

I made a 3-month calendar for her to check off the days, and that kind of worked for a while, but I wanted something more special. Not that I want to indulge her every five-year-old whim, but I see value in helping her enjoy the anticipation of the whole experience, not just the day itself.

I’ve been looking at a lot of different Advent calendars, with the plan of making the first 11 days of December be all about Anna’s birthday. I saw a lot that were adorable and many that were complicated, and some that seem to take over a whole room. Since I’m trying to simplify, not complicate my life and living space, I rejected most of them.

My cousin Jackie, proprietress of Brow Betty – check it out, you’ll be glad you did! – posted this pic on Facebook, and I was hooked. How cute and simple!

Each one is a matchbook, filled with a message promising family activities or treats. Love it!

So we copied Jackie to a certain extent, and made Anna boxes to lead up to December 11:

December 1-11, ready to be lined up on the piano

And then made Christmas boxes for December 12-25:

We lined the Advent of Christmas boxes along the mirror on the mantel. I’ve filled some of them with activities or treats, but I need to get the others filled quickly! The advent of Anna’s birthday boxes were lined up on the piano, and the completed days went back in to the silver snowflake bowl.

It's easy to count down the days, because the kids can clearly see how many boxes are left!

I bought the matches at Winco in packs of 10 for only 50¢ each, and now we have a ton of matches…

That’s alright, I like to light candles.

Most of the papers we already had on hand. I bought a few sheets of number stickers at Michael’s for $3 each, and a few extra sheets of paper at 4/$1. I think we spent a grand total of $9.50 on this activity. Of course we already had tape, glue and fancy scissors.

What do you think? I’m kind of loving it!

Happy holidays,

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