Dec 21, 2012

Snow Day

Back in October I had this brilliant idea - I was going to organize a trip up to the high country, to see the snow, ride the Polar Express, visit with Santa, walk through a Reindeer park and, most importantly, to go sledding. Yep, I was going to plan all this plus I was going to keep it a complete surprise from the kids! Well, Chase figured out that we were going to the mountains earlier this week and I asked him to keep it a secret (which he did, the little sweetheart)  but Alaina had no idea what I had planned and just how many people were in on it until we were on the highway and nearing Flagstaff. 

On Wednesday morning, Alaina and I went into school together and on the way into her class she was kind of whining about all of the fun things that Chase's preschool always had planned. (I even heard a few 'it's not fair!') I worked for a few hours at school, told her not to worry that I'd think of something fun to do and I'd be back for lunch. Little did she know, I had already packed a suitcase, all of our snow stuff, a basket of snacks for the kids, printed off directions and hotel info and had thrown it all into the back of the truck. (Have I mentioned how much I love that Alaina is completely oblivious to everything around her, I think she actually had to step over the suitcase that morning to get into my closet and she never thought twice about it. -  It sure makes surprising her really easy!) After running a few last minute errands, Peter, Chase and I went back to her school to pick her up and head up North. I walked into her class, told her to grab her backpack and that I had thought of something fun to do after all! 

 She screamed when she realized we were going up to the snow, "I've never seen snow in my real-life!"  Jumped up and down when she saw that we were going to ride on the Polar Express Train, told Santa that all she wanted for Christmas was a sleigh bell from one of his reindeer's (which Santa gave her on the train ride). She fed lots of deer and even a camel named Gracie! Chase meanwhile was awestruck and his usual quiet self, except when it came to sledding - I've never seen him smile so big or scream so much!

Best "last-minute" mini vacation ever. Enjoy the photos, xo ~ Tara

Dec 12, 2012

a hazy shade of Winter

Want to see one of my favorite color combinations right now? :)

I'm not much of a purple kind of girl. I like it but I never seem to use the color in any of my work and it's not a color that I wear..... but this combination reminds me of Winter and January. What do you say, thumbs up or down to Purple?

 I have a girls day planned for Grandma and myself tomorrow, I think I may try to pick out something in an amethyst or lilac shade.... even if it's only a sheet of paper. I'm always up for a color challenge! 

xo ~ T

Dec 11, 2012

a Phoenix Winter

It's easy to forget that it's mid December when you live in the desert. Mother Nature seems to skip over us each year and instead of bringing snowy grey days, we get clear skies and lots of flowers. I can't really complain about either! The Great Grandparents are visiting this week from Washington (another reason to love the desert in the Winter time - everyone wants to come visit!) and on Sunday we went down to their Hotel (this particular Sheraton is one of my favorite places to stay in Scottsdale the grounds are gorgeous!) to hang out with Grandpa Howard and Grandma Judy, soak up a little sun, and take advantage of the pool..... in other words: the recipe for a perfect Sunday afternoon!  

I spent all of last week asking Chase if he knew who was going to come visit us, sometimes it helps to prepare him in advance for changes to his schedule. We also think it helps him to not be so shy and upset.  The first time I asked him, he answered Mickey Mouse?  *Laugh* and then at some point he decided that Grandpa Howard and Grandma Judy were just as good as Mickey & Minnie. He also decided they were coming here to celebrate their birthdays. So, we got to hear him practice his Happy Birthday song for his Great Grandparents for days! :)  


Hope you having a great start to the week! 
xo ~ Tara

Dec 5, 2012

Let it simmer, Home Fragrance recipe

Right now, you are only 4 ingredients and about 20 minutes from having a house that smells absolutely splendid this holiday season! I like to fill a little pot of this mixture put it on the back burner and let it simmer throughout the morning while we're getting ready for the day. About 30 minutes later my home smells warm and spicy just like a home should and that cinnamon smell will linger on into the evening... Yum!

Holiday Home Fragrance

 3 or 4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp whole cloves
 the peel from one orange
 4 cups water

Combine all ingredients into a medium pot and place on the stove. Let the water come to a boil and then turn down temperature to just a simmer. Remember to check the water level from time to time and fill when necessary. 

I love simple pick me up's like this one and it's one from the 31 Things list I made for the month. The house still smells like cinnamon and orange tonight as Chase and I sit here playing the last game of Bingo before bed time. Now it's off to squeeze in a little scrapbooking time - I really need to get started on that December Journal I had planned! 

Thanks for stopping in tonight! ~ Tara

Dec 1, 2012

Hello December!

I was playing with some color combination ideas late last night, and what better way to start the weekend than with a little color. :) I have plans to wrap and ship out a few Etsy orders, some tidying up of the house (there is Christmas stuff everywhere!), a quick trip to the library this afternoon and playing with paper later on tonight.  Here's to carefree Saturdays!

~ Tara

Nov 30, 2012

31 Things

Hi all! It's almost December and I know this month is going to be incredibly busy for everyone, (with shopping, traveling, decorating, class parties & projects) but I wanted to post a list of things to do with kids and family! Most of these won't cost you anything but time (I'm all for low budget crafts and ideas right now!) and hopefully you'll have some fun in the process. Just think of the many photo opts for your December journal. :)

 1. start a Family Advent Calendar
2. donate canned food (this will make room in your pantry too!) 
3. decorate your home
4. make reindeer food (1/2 cup oatmeal, and a dash of glitter - sprinkle outside to attract Santa's reindeer)
5. take your child(ren) to see the snow this year & go sledding
6. make hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie as a family
7. be a secret Santa to someone unexpected
8. donate old coats to charity
9. make dinner for someone who could use a night off this month
10. read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas eve
11. volunteer to wrap gifts for someone 
12. visit Santa at the Mall
13. make paper snowflakes from coffee filters
14. bake cookies and decorate as a family
15. host a gift wrapping party
16. build a fire and roast marshmallows
17. host an ornament making party for the kids in the neighborhood 
18. make paper ornaments and let the kids decorate
19. write a letter to Santa
20. leave an apple or carrots for Santa's reindeer
21. play an old Christmas record or cd as background music for dinner tonight
22. write a letter to our troops stationed over seas this Holiday
23. sort through your kids' toy box and bookcases to donate old or unloved items
24. make a 'magic key' for Santa to use if you don't have a fireplace this year
25. bundle up and take a walk around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights
26. simmer orange slices, cinnamon sticks, cloves and some water to make your home smell wonderful
27. start an ornament exchange with family members and guests (we do this during Christmas dinner, I have a sleigh full of wrapped ornaments)
28. donate any extra blankets or quilts to a local charity
29. make time to hold a family game night
30. take your children to the library to read Christmas stories from around the world
31. spend an afternoon making peanut butter and bird seed pine cones, tie to a tree and watch the birds come to visit


After a long day this month, kick your feet up, enjoy a cup of hot apple cider and remember to breathe! I'm actually really excited for my to-do list this month as well as spending lots of time at school helping out in the classroom. (Usually I'd be a bit frazzled thinking about how much needs to happen this month.) I think with this year being our first in the new house, I'm feeling more energized and ready for the holiday. Chase is really helping too, he understands so much more this year that it's fun to now be able to include both him and Alaina in all of our holiday plans. It really is the most wonderful time of the year! 

Have a splendid weekend everyone! ~ Tara 

Nov 17, 2012

8 things I love: Saturday

It's grey, cloudy, quiet and the air is very still here this morning. It's kind of perfect weather for staying in and reading a good book or scrapbooking, but the kids and I have a bunch of errands this morning to run. (They want to have a s'more party outside tonight! :))  

I have plans later to finish a few custom orders for Etsy - including the cutest little bundle of Christmas tags and flowers I've ever made. (I think!) Can't wait to start photographing those. I also have this idea for ornaments that the kids can make... I think a trip to the craft store may be in order. 

Hope your Saturday is off to a productive and creative start! ~ T

Nov 16, 2012

Dinner Place Settings: tutorial

This was one of those tutorials that I really wanted to post during the Sweet November week, but I ran out of time and so here it is- a week later. I think I have narrowed down the menu for Thanksgiving and with the place settings and centerpiece figured out, I have a feel days to relax and get other stuff done... like cleaning the house from top to bottom. :) 

Jessica and I talked all week about the different ways we could use an old book and various other things around the house to make our place settings. I like the idea of using whatever I have on hand, 1. it's good to reuse and recycle and 2. with the price of gas, I don't want to be driving all over town if I don't have it! Here's a quick idea for using book pages 3 different ways when it comes to your dinner place settings!

Ruffled Napkin Rings

paper towel roll
book pages
sewing machine
paper trimmer
ribbon & leaf (optional)


1. Cut the paper towel roll into 1 1/2 inch sections 

2. take the book pages and cut into strips about 1/4 to a 1/2 inch wider than your paper towel roll. We'll have them overlap the paper roll so that it's completely covered!

3. Sew the strips of paper by gently folding the paper and sewing over the top very slowly so that the paper doesn't.

4. To make each napkin ring, you'll use 2 strips of paper. Once you sewn the first strip of paper and reached the end, fold another strip of paper under and sew onto the first strip. Keep folding and sewing slowly! Once you have 2 strips of paper ruffled and sewn, back stitch a few stitches and then cut the sewing thread.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have enough ruffled paper to make the desired amount of napkin rings.

6. Take one strip of ruffled paper and add a bit of glue to the napkin ring. Wrap the paper around the ring and when you've reached the end of the paper, you should have enough paper trim to overlap. Add another bit of glue and glue the end of the paper in place. Hold for a few seconds to allow the glue to hold. 

 7. Use a another strip of paper, and coil into a round tube, slip inside the napkin ring and let the paper uncoil so that it fits perfectly inside and glue into place. (Now no one will know you've used a paper toll roll to make your napkin rings!) 

8. To finish, we're just embellishing the napkin rings. You could leave them as is, but I chose to use a shimmery orange leaf and some vintage seam binding to tie around each napkin ring!

I think these ruffled napkin rings look great with crisp white cloth napkins! 

From the same paper used to make the napkin rings, I took a sheet, trimmed it in half and wrapped it around a large jar filled with greens instead of flowers. (I actually love the way green leaves and branches look on a table, so clean and fresh!) Use a little seam binding, lace or ribbon to hold the book page onto the jar. Set the jar on top of a few vintage books, add a couple of tall candle sticks, scatter some leaves (die-cuts using the same book pages) and it's super quick and simple way to create a centerpiece for your table this Fall! 

I've also typed out some little cards to put at each setting. I have an idea for making a very little mini book full of these cards! 

Since Thanksgiving is getting ever so close, have you been playing with dishes and place settings yet? I'm thinking of going with these burnt pumpkin floral and grey dishes. - I've kind of fallen in love with that color combination this season! 

Have a wonder start to the weekend! ~ T