Love Story

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pin-spired Teacher Gifts

With the last day of school upon us before Winter Break, I have spent the week putting together little gifts to let the people in my kids school life know how much we appreciate them. All of these ideas where pinned to my Random Acts of Kindness board on Pinterest, so make sure to come follow along if you want to see what other gift ideas catch my eye!

Samuel has been seeing a physical therapist for a few months now and she makes the trek out to our house every week to do his therapy and is so good with not only him but our other kids, so we wanted to give her a little Christmas gift to thank her for all she does. This gift idea came from Taylored Expressions (where you can find the free printable tag to go with it) and includes some cozy socks and a bottle of nail polish. I put it in this cute Christmas tin I got for $0.99 at Walgreens:

The only people who spend anywhere near as much time with Nathan and Jordan as I do, are their teachers. We so appreciate the hard work they put in each and every day to teach and care for our boys so it was the least we could do to send along this small token of thanks. These tins full of Snickers and Almond Joy along with the tag that says To A Year Full Of Snickers and Joy is from Lil' Luna, head over there to get the free printable.

Finally, we wanted to pass along some Christmas wishes to the man who has the big task of picking up and dropping off our boys each and every day. This printable is actually a postcard meant for a mailman, but I cut off just the main message and crossed out mail to replace it with kids. Some M&M treats for the bus driver, as inspired by Who Arted?:

While none of these gifts were over the top or about to break the bank, I think it is the thought that counts. Taking a moment to thank someone important in your life, even in a small way, is the least we can do to show our gratitude. Hope you have been Pin-spired to do the same for those special people that surround you and your love ones!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Elfie 2013 - week 2

Another week into December means another week of Elfie's holiday fun. Here's what he has been up to:

That naughty elf tp'd our tree!
A book tower - mad skills, Elfie :)
Ever feel like someone is watching you?
Elfie brought the goodies to make Sugar Cone Christmas Trees
A little Rock 'em Sock 'em with Samuel's dog
Elfie, you are NO angel!
Want to see what he was up to last week? Click the picture to check out last week's post:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Elfie 2013 - week 1

Elfie's back and up to his old antics again! We have had a fun first week hunting him down each morning. Check out what he has been up to:
Trying to blend into the boys' room to keep an eye on them!
"Hanging out" in the boys' bathroom
A mini-marshmallow message
Pretending to be Samuel....silly elf!
Family Movie Night - Elfie brought Arthur Christmas (I heard it was only $4 on Amazon ;) ) and instructions for mom to make homemade brownies with the popcorn

Want to see how he made his entrance this year? Check out my post on the North Pole Breakfast he surprised us with:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

North Pole Breakfast 2013

Our mischievous elf friend, Elfie, has officially made his debut and decided to surprise us with a North Pole Breakfast to kick off this Christmas season.
The boys came out this morning to find a note that Nathan promptly read aloud to his siblings.
They practiced their best "CHEERS" while I put together all the goodies that Elfie had been gracious enough to bring for our special breakfast.
He brought all their favorite special treats - strawberries, sausage, donuts and eggnog. Oh boy!
There is so much to be thankful for on this December morning, so we remembered to say grace before digging in to the feast.
Be on the lookout for all the creative, messy, silly things this elf is likely to have in store for us this year. Happy December everyone!

**This is our second experience with a North Pole Breakfast. If you want to read about the first one, check it out HERE.**

Friday, November 29, 2013

Elfie flashback

It's almost that time again.....Elfie is set to arrive on Sunday and the boys are already anticipating the big day. Last year I didn't get around to posting about Elfie so I thought I would share some of our favorite pictures from his last visit:

Walking on the ceiling....that naughty elf left footprints!

Spidey Elf! Can you spot him?

A yearly favorite - hiding in the tree.

Helping himself to some nuts

Looks like Elfie had a hard time getting to sleep so his good friend Buzz helped him by reading a bedtime story :)
Some more Elfie fun from previous years:
- Elfie, Elfie, Elfie
- More Elf Antics
- Elfie's First Week
- North Pole Breakfast
- Elfie's Trip Is Coming to an End
- What's That Elf Been Up To
- Elfie Update
- Elfie is Here (how Elfie came to be in our house)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nimli Animal Print Scarf Giveaway (ends Dec. 2)

Nimli is a curated marketplace of makers & sellers. We're a community of designers, curators and consumers.  To read more about NIMLI, please go to

It's the season for animal prints & we have a collection of great animal print scarves on Nimli! From leopard to cheetah to modern takes on the animal design, we have it all & for one exciting winner - we'll be giving away 3 seasonal animal print scarves to keep you right on trend all season long.

WHAT: The winner will receive 3 beautiful animal print scarves from Nimli.  The 3 scarves are featured below ( Azuri Blazing Leopard Scarf, Azuri Into the Wild Scarf & Azuri Urban Jungle Scarf).
WHO: One winner will be selected on December 2nd, entry ends at midnight on 12.2.13.  This giveaway is open to US residents only.

HOW TO ENTER:  Go to to enter the giveaway.

**This is a sponsored post from with my unbiased thoughts.**

Friday, November 22, 2013

Homemade Taco Seasoning Gift Jars

I was recently invited to a My Favorite Things holiday party. If you have never heard of this, the concept is that you pick one of your favorite things - be it food, bath item, homemade, cleaning product, etc - and bring 3 of that item to the party. Everyone draws to see what new things they will be taking home and it is a chance to get to try new products and get some gift ideas for the holidays. Tons of fun!

We had a $5 limit (give or take) so I wracked my brain trying to decide what one thing to bring and settled on one of my truly favorite items in the kitchen....homemade taco seasoning. Seriously, if you haven't tried it, YOU MUST. It is so superior to store bought and is simple to make with seasonings that you most likely already have in your possession. It's also cost effective and you know that there are no preservatives in it. I not only use it for taco meat but like to coat homemade fries in it or mix it into sour cream for a dip or put it into a Mexican meatloaf....this list of possibilities goes on and on. Can you tell it truly is a favorite?
Let's make this into a fun little gift now. I already store mine in the freezer in a small mason jar so I decided to use the same thing for my recipients. 
Time to mix the spices. You can get the easy recipe that I follow at $5 Dinners. To make this even more cost effective, I buy my spices from the bulk bins at Winco. I then mixed up one big batch and then evenly distributed it between the mason jars.

Should we make it pretty? Silly question! I found some free printable mason jar labels over at Limeshot Design and used one of the blank designs to create a label for the lid, which I attached using Mod Podge (I am sure basic crafting glue would work fine too). I also hot glued a little bit of yellow ric rac around the rim of the jar for some extra cuteness.

I wanted the people who received these to have a copy of the recipe so they could keep refilling their jars so I printed these adorable recipe cards from Design Eat Repeat. I ended up cutting off the sayings at the top just so they wouldn't be so huge in comparison to the jar. I wrote out the ingredients, where I bought them cheap in bulk, how to make it and some suggestions for using it. The only thing I left off was how much was equivalent to a packet you would buy in the store (which is 2 Tbsp, by the way).
Small Tabasco jars attached with twine completed the gift.

Wouldn't you want to get this from a friend, co-worker, secret Santa? I'm thinking I might have to add it to my own list of homemade gifts this year!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It’s a Thornton Thanksgiving from Chicago!

Today's post is a guest post by Kendra Thornton about Thanksgiving Traditions:

With the leaves nearly fallen and a cold, crispy snap in the air, thoughts turn now to family and making plans for the holidays and all the cheer this season can bring. Thanksgiving is certainly one of my most precious times of the year because of the strong meaning it holds in my heart: the act of giving and gratitude. This year, at the Thornton household, all our relatives will be visiting Chicago, and I can barely wait.
My visits to Pinterest have borne lovely fruit in the way of finding appealing dessert ideas and appetizers that my children can help make in the soon-to-be very busy holiday kitchen. As they grow older, their desire to help mom in the kitchen seems to also grow. It’s best, though, to keep the food designs simple. Complexity in food preparation tends to create bigger messes and also consumes more time. Fun and fast, I discovered, is the best way to prepare food for this special day.
The traditional Thanksgiving dinner still beats all other alternatives; so traditional it shall be again this year. The staple foods of this holiday will occupy their usual places of honor at the table. That will mean turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and my all-time favorite - potatoes and gravy. My traveling experiences will play a role this year in creating different dishes, too. An article on Gogobot’s blog highlighted what specific luxury hotels will prepare for guests this Thanksgiving season.
I said, why not? I gathered inspiration from these sophisticated but homey dishes and decided to give them my personal twist and flare, including them as special fare in my kitchen. Yes, my fingers are crossed with hope that my special guests will enjoy every bite. One dish destined for the table will be a velvet pumpkin soup with lobster accents from the expert chefs at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. This exquisite soup, offered as a pre-dinner treat, will certainly warm the heart.
One of the traditions at the Thornton household is to go around the table and ask each person to give voice to at least one aspect of life they are grateful for. That great humanitarian Albert Schweitzer touched on gratitude in his life when he penned these words: “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Perhaps this tradition of mine can become one of your traditions this Thanksgiving. May wonderful memories and delicious food grant you a safe and happy holiday! What will you be serving this year!?
Thanks Kendra for stopping by and sharing your Thanksgiving traditions with us!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"The Best Of" Shadow Box Gift

My husband's grandpa just turned 80 and I knew I had to come up with something special to celebrate this huge milestone. After some thought, I came up with the idea for a shadow box that featured all of the best things from the year he was born, which happened to be 1933. I started by having my mother-in-law hunt down an old baby picture of Jack (he was a twin too!).
 Then I used The People History for my information on what was happening during that year in history. I chose the topics of popular culture, who else was born that year, and how much things cost when narrowing down my focus.

It was as easy as finding a piece of scrapbook paper I liked for the background, using my Cricut to cut out the lettering (you could simply do this by hand or print it off of your computer), and printing off the information with a few pictures to make it more interesting. I did my magic with a trusty glue stick and the gift had come altogether.
Once it was in the shadow box (which I picked up at Hobby Lobby for 50% off!) it made a great addition to the table at thebirthday party that displayed different pictures of Jack over the years. Happy 80th Birthday Jack!

I think this gift would also be a great way to commemorate an anniversary or any other fun date in history you are celebrating. I know I found it fascinating to look back a ways in time and see what memorable things had taken place.

Featured on The Happy Housewives 100 Days of Homemade Christmas Gifts (2013):

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