Musings From MommyLand

Because sometimes there is more to Mommy…

Another New Christmas Tradition

This year we have started a couple new Christmas traditions in our house.  It really seems like the perfect time because the kids are at an age where they are still young enough to enjoy the magic of Christmas but old enough to understand everything going on and to participate in things.  Besides the Elf on the Shelf (he has been so fun…more to come on him later), we have also started a new kind of advent calendar.  I have to give credit for the concept to the many posts on Pinterest and am so glad to have come across them.  This calendar is so much more fun than opening a little door  for a piece of chocolate.  And, there are so many variations out there.  You can do a new Christmas book everyday, a little trinket/treat everyday, or what I opted for, a different activity every day.

advent calendar

It was pretty easy to put this together and though we missed the first couple days because life got pretty busy, we have still been enjoying the fun and family time so far.

It isn’t too late to get started and do this for your family.  There are still 15 days until Christmas which is plenty of time for fun activities and quality family time!

What you need:

  • 13 sheets of Christmas scrapbook paper (I got 2 envelopes out of each sheet)
  • 1 sheet of white cardstock
  • Red and green markers
  • Glue Stick
  • About a yard of Christmas ribbon
  • Small clothes pins
  • Ideas for Christmas family activities

First, I made 25 little envelopes out of the scrapbook paper.  You could use regular size envelopes I just wanted something more colorful and smaller so this is route I went.  The envelopes were actually pretty easy to make.  It’s amazing really, you can turn a heart shape into an envelope really quickly.  Here is the tutorial I followed.  Once my envelopes were all folded, I cut out 25 small circles from the white card stock and wrote the dates from 1-25 on them with the red and green markers.  Then, I just glued them on the front of each envelope.  After the glue is dry, add the little notes with your activities on them (handwritten or typed)  into the envelopes and seal with a sticker or tape.

advent calendar 2

Next string the ribbon wherever you want in your house (we started out lower but the kids wouldn’t leave it alone so we ended up putting the ribbon up higher where they couldn’t reach it.).  After the ribbon is secure, use the small clothespins to pin the envelopes evenly down the ribbon.  Now you are ready to go.  Just open one each morning and create some fun family memories.

Our fun pictures for the Christmas card

Our fun pictures for the Christmas card

Here are the activities we have done or plan to do for the rest of the month.  Some of these are new things to try and some are things we would have done anyways but now have become an event.  Just remember that these are activities I have tailored to my family(my kids are still pretty young so our activities are mostly centered around fun things for them) and you should have fun making your own list for your family.  AND, just to reiterate…it isn’t too late.  Don’t talk yourself out of this saying you have already missed 10 days…there are still 15 days left!

  1. Take a fun photo for our Christmas card
  2. Write letters to Santa
  3. Color Christmas pictures to put in some of the Christmas cards (like the ones to grandma and grandpa and other close relatives)
  4. Get the house ready for Christmas (cleaning and decorating) while listening to Christmas music
  5. Go to the mall and sit on Santa’s lap
  6. Christmas extravaganza at the Pioneers Museum (A local activity that we actually missed because we were out of town)
  7. Take the kids shopping to pick out gifts for each other and mommy and daddy
  8. Fancy dress dinner with french toast and hot chocolate
  9. Christmas craft day
  10. Decorate a gingerbread house
  11. Movie night with a new Christmas movie
  12. Campout in front of the Christmas Tree
  13. Go shopping and let the kids pick out a gift to donate to a local charity
  14. Make cinnimon ornaments for the Christmas tree
  15. Family game night with hot chocolate
  16. Make lots of snowflakes to put around the house
  17. Christmas baking and make sure we take some to the neighbors and grandma
  18. Make ornaments out of birdseed to hang up outside
  19. Load up in the car in our Pajamas with hot chocolate to drive around and look at Christmas lights
  20. Get a new Christmas book and have daddy read it to everyone
  21. Christmas pajama dance party with loud Christmas music
  22. Make frozen hot chocolate for dessert
  23. More baking (it requires 2 days in our house)
  24. Get pizza and go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for family time and presents (this is a tradition for my husband’s family)
  25. Christmas day!  Enjoy your new things and remember to be so very thankful for what you have and most importantly your family who loves you so much!

What are your favorite holiday traditions??

Merry Christmas!

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A Hiatus in Mommyland Over (Hopefully)

Wow!  Has it really been a month since I have posted anything?  I guess it has.  I am not even sure where November went quite frankly so I will just acknowledge my absence and move forward.    The main reason for my lack of posts is because christmas 3Makings from Mommyland, my Etsy shop, has really taken off and I have been painting what seems like millions of little wooden peg people.  I won’t complain too much because it is helping pay for our own Christmas.  I have finally found something that I enjoy, that is letting me contribute income to the family and the best part, that lets me do this while staying home with my babies!  Not exactly what I pictured for my life after 7 years of college but hey, I find it’s best to just go with where life takes you.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope that your start of the season has been going well thus far.  We have our Christmas tree up, but still have some other decorations to get up.  Hopefully, it will all be up and done by this weekend.  The most exciting addition to our Christmas traditions has definitely been our Elf on the Shelf!  Elf on the shelfHe arrived via special North Pole delivery Thanksgiving night.  The kids named him Jingle and he has been quite entertaining, both for Jay and I and for the kids who look forward to finding him every morning.  I have started posting pictures of his daily antics over on the Musings facebook page.  You can head over there and check them out.  I would love to see pictures or hear stories of your Elf on the Shelf or other holiday traditions as well!

I will definitely try and be a bit more diligent in my posting this month.  I hope life finds all of you well as we head at a blinding pace towards Christmas!

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Are You Ready to Vote?

photo credit sodahead.com

Today is the Christmas Eve of politics.  Last minute rushing around in a push to get things ready for the big day.  I haven’t been particularly vocal on here about  my politics which when looking back seems quite strange.  I am not too shy about sharing my political beliefs.  If you follow me on twitter or have ever caught my twitter updates on the sidebar here you may have seen just how vocal I can get.  But this post isn’t about my political views per se (Who am I kidding…they are bound to come out.  Let’s see if you can figure out my leanings) but about voting in general and reminding you — well my fellow Americans anyways — to get out tomorrow and vote!

As I was thinking about this post I couldn’t help but remember back to the elections in which I have previously voted.  This will be my third presidential election and I am quite amazed how different you can feel about each one.  I missed being able to vote in the 2000 election by just a couple of months so my inaugural voting experience came in 2004.  I was a senior in college and full of new-found political information and ideas.  Unfortunately, I was quite underwhelmed by both candidates.  I didn’t really stand behind the candidate of my party but, quite frankly I would have voted for a monkey over George Bush (I bet you just figured it out).  So, the first vote I ever cast for a president was for John Kerry.  A sad way to start I agree.  And then comes 2008.  It is amazing the difference four years can make.  This go around, I was just entering my third year of marriage and I now had a tiny little 3 month old baby boy.  Let me tell you how much a baby changes your way of thinking.  Not exactly how you feel about things, but suddenly the decision you make is not for you or anyone else but for them.  Which candidate will make the world a better place for my baby.

This may be the number one reason I vote the way I do. Photo Credit findingdulcinea.com

Luckily for me, this time I also found a candidate that I really wanted to stand behind.  Now, its election time again (good lord where does time go?) and am still fully behind our president.  I truly believe that he provides the path that will make our country a better place for my kids.

Here’s the thing though.  I didn’t write this to try to change anyone’s mind — although if you still consider yourself undecided I would be happy to have a discussion with you as to why I think that President Obama is the vastly superior candidate and why I hope that Mitt Romney never has the chance to roll us back to the 1950’s or take control of my health decisions.  I wrote this to tell you to make sure to get out and vote for whomever.  Voting is one of those things you just need to do.  It is one of the things that makes our country great and how we can be a part of the change we want to see.  I know my four-year old and not quite two-year old will be getting a little lesson on the importance of voting tomorrow just as they will every four years until they are old enough to finally get out and make their own decisions.  I am super excited about tomorrow and can’t wait to see how things turn out.

Happy Voting!

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NaNoWriMo…Or, The Day I Took Leave of My Senses

A couple of weeks ago I was reading a blog post from someone I follow and they were talking about their preparations for NaNoWriMo.  For those of who may not know, this is not some sort of doomsday event (wait, is it?).  It stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place every November.  During this month, more than 300,000 participants sit down at their computers/typewriters/notepads and attempt to bang out a 50,000 word (about 175 pages) novel.  It sounds crazy right?

I have never participated in NaNoWriMo before…had never even heard of it before about 6 months ago — but, the idea really struck a chord with me.  I have been saying I am going to write a book since I was in college (almost 10 years…yikes!).  It is even on my bucket list, but I have never gotten further than a couple of chapters.  I have more ideas than I know what to do with written down in random notebooks or word documents so maybe I should take one of those ideas and really run with it finally.

The problem was, when I started thinking about doing it, all that came into my head were the reasons it was ridiculous to even think about attempting this.  I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and this is reason enough to call the whole thing off, but I also have a new Etsy shop I am trying to make successful, and November is so busy with family birthdays and anniversaries, AND we are having some major home issues at the moment (literally I think our house hates us and is seeing if it can break us and I will stop there or I might start crying).  So many reasons not to…always so many reasons not to do it.

And that is when the epiphany hit.  There are always, always going to be reasons why I don’t have time unless I just sit down and set some time aside.  So I went over to the official NaNoWriMo website and signed up and over the last week I have picked out the idea I am going to turn into my first novel and have been working on some character development and plotting in preparation for Thursday when I can officially start writing.   I have a new little widget on my sidebar so you can see the progress I am making and I will post updates periodically.  Hopefully this will help keep me on track.

I may not hit the 50,000 word mark but, I am going to set aside at least a little time each day to write and by November 30th, I will be that much closer to complete novel.  Anyone out there participating this year?  Anyone a veteran of this event with some good advice?

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Wisemen, Music Legends, and Mr. Darcy Oh My!

The past couple of weeks have been filled with frantic painting of small little wooden men and women to get some new stock/ideas in my Etsy Shop in time for Christmas.  When I first did this as a craft project for/with my kids, I never imagined just how far it would go.  Anyways, I am really excited about all of the listings I rolled out today and wanted to share here.  You can check out all the new stuff here at Makings From Mommyland.

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A Beautiful Fall Dessert: Apple Pie Cake

About a month ago I was looking for some new recipes for side dishes and deserts to go with Jay’s smoking (meats people!  Smoking meats!) obsession and I came across what people were calling apple dump cake.  I read about 3 lines into the recipe and realized that this was almost the exact same recipe I use for what is a family Thanksgiving tradition called pumpkin pie cake.

So, I did what I usually do and stopped reading the recipe and decided I could figure it out on my own and while it doesn’t always turn out right when I do this, this time was a big win.  And I have to say, I am glad I didn’t follow the recipe because when I went back to it, I saw that it had called for canned apple pie filling while I used fresh apples and if you decide to give this a try, you should definitely go fresh as well.

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Book Review: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought what better time to put up a review of a vampire book.  So here it is…a spoiler free review of “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova.

Jay got this book for me almost 5 years ago and I while I gave it a go shortly after this, I only made it about 4 chapters before it was relegated back to the “to read” pile.  The title really excited me (I was in the first blush of pursuing my graduate degree in history), but when I realized that it was a vampire novel, well those have never really been my thing.  I am more of a happy ending kind of girl.  Fast forward five years…Wow, my “to read” pile is literally like 5 feet tall.  If I don’t start reading some of these rather than adding to it by buying more books it could become a concussion hazard.  So a couple of months ago, I picked “The Historian” back up and I have to say, I am really glad that I did.

As I said, I don’t read a lot of vampire/dracula books…ok, none really…so I can’t really make a comparison  in mythology/approach to any other books, but it does seem like this one had a unique direction in that it brought history (Dracula and his connection to history) to the forefront (hence the title).

I am not going to lie, this is a large book and the first probably 10 chapters or so are pretty slow.  But, if you tough it out (what I didn’t do the first go around), you won’t be sorry you did.  I am not saying this the the best book I have ever read, but I did enjoy it.  And the reason I enjoyed as much as I did has to be because of the world travel and archive digging.  I am sucker for far away lands and this book definitely has that.  London, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Budapest all play prominently into the story and Kostovo does a good job of really taking you along for the ride.  And the archive/library digging in each place, well my four year old could write about that and I would probably enjoy it.  I am sort of a sucker for a musty dusty location chock full of documents and books hundreds of years old -even if it is only fiction.  And I also quite enjoyed Kostova’s discussion about Vlad the Impaler’s history which serves as the backbone of the plot.  I can’t say Medieval Eastern Europe was something I studied a great deal of so I can’t speak to the accuracy, but whether it was accurate or not, it was fascinating to read.

I have read mixed reviews of this book and there are things on each side with which I agree.  As I said before, it isn’t the best book I have ever read -probably not even in my top 20 or 30 – BUT, a book doesn’t have to be the best book ever to be entertaining and I am glad that I gave it another shot.    Let me put it this way, I stayed up until 2 am one weekend night to finish the last chapters which, if you have kids, you know that that in and of itself is a glowing recommendation.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?

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My First Etsy Sale!

A couple of weeks ago I put up a post about painting peg people and how I had enjoyed doing this so much that I was going to try and sell some of them on Etsy.  Shortly after this, I put this same info up on my personal facebook page and was overwhelmed by the support I got from my friends and family. They all seemed to love the idea and have been so kind in sharing my link in different places.  I even got a couple of orders from them.

In the midst of all of this I also got my first Etsy order!  I couldn’t even believe how excited I got when I saw the message pop up on my phone.

My first Etsy Sale! Painted and ready to ship.

I love painting these little guys and am so happy to get to share them with other people!  I have made so many of them for my kids that my husband has accused me of cheating on him with peg people…ah well, he will get used to it eventually.

Anyways, I just wanted to put a big thank you out there for everyone who has given encouragement, shared my shop page, taken a look at my etsy listings, or placed an order with me.  THANKS SO MUCH!

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Seasonal Recipe Finale: Peach Cobbler

So here is my final seasonal recipe designed to squeeze the last drops of sunny warmth out of summer even though it is clearly turning to fall (especially here in Colorado where the aspens are turning colors and I woke up this morning to see snow on the top of Pikes Peak).  For the record, I think that it is my best seasonal recipe…or the one that I like to make and eat the most anyways.  This peach cobbler recipe has been around my family for years though I doubt anyone could tell you where it originated.  It has always just been there.  So, from my family to yours, cram another day of summer in and I hope you enjoy this recipe.

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Seasonal Recipe Blitz Week: Spicy Creamy Corn

Let me just clarify one thing here…this is  not the creamed corn you find in your pantry.  I know that the canned stuff grosses some people out(my husband included), but I promise this recipe is so different.  As my husband said to me, my brain says I shouldn’t like it, but but my taste buds say I do!

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