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Dec 4 / Erin

Candy Coated Christmas Shelves

It’s that time of year when most bloggers are showing off their festive mantels and I’m all like, “Hey!  I don’t have a mantel to decorate but I have styled shelves!”  You have to work with what you’ve got, right?

This year I’ve opted for a sweet pink and green theme for our three hallway shelves, featuring bright green ornaments, pink wrapped gifts and a little tassel and burlap garland that I whipped up (and will formally share on the blog another time).

I really like traditional Christmas decorations and colors for the majority of our house, so it’s fun to have this one small area to play with a different theme.

Poor Ike was a little dismayed and confused to learn the wrapped presents were empty.  A few more years of watching me decorate and he’ll no longer ask questions, I’m sure.  (“Just ignore my crazy mother,” he’ll say.)

Need some other mantle or faux mantel ideas?  Head on over to Our Fifth House or  Ten June to see other bloggers who are participating in the Holiday Cheer in the Blogosphere Mantel Party!

Hope you’re enjoying the start of the holiday cheer!

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Dec 3 / Erin

Elf Hack: Make your Elf on a Shelf Bendable

Felix the Elf on the Shelf is back in the house!

I’ll be honest.  I’m a total sucker for the Elf on the Shelf.  It is so much fun for the kids me.  And the kids.  Luckily Ike is still young enough that just moving the elf to a new spot each day is enough excitement, but this year I wanted Felix to be able to hang like all the cool elves I see in fancy pictures on Pinterest.

So, I hacked him.  A little bit of surgery, if you will.  Which you will once you see how easy this is.

If you’re new to the Elf on the Shelf like I was last year, you might be disappointed when you try to set up your elf in lots of fun poses.  The doll on its own flops around and doesn’t do more than, well, sit on shelves.  But, with a little bit of wire and trickery, our Felix the elf was climbing the curtains in no time.

(By the way, I saw about 100 tutorials for this online, so please don’t think I am creative enough to have thought of this myself. I just wanted to be sure that tutorial #101 got posted.  You’re welcome.)

Step one is gathering some simple tools:

  1. Wire (I purchased some beading wire at A.C. Moore)
  2. Scissors to cut the wire
  3. A seam ripper or small scissors to make your incision (scalpel, please)
  4. Your elf

Next, pull out two or three stitches in the hands and feet of the elf.  The wire is skinny, so just make enough space for the wire to slip in.

Then cut pieces of wire that are as long as the arms and legs, creating a small loop at the end so it doesn’t poke through the fabric.  Push the wire in until it is completely hidden by the fabric.

At this point you could sew the seam back together, but I left mine and you can’t really tell.  Call me lazy, but since the kids aren’t supposed to touch the elf, they’ll never know the difference.

Now our Felix the elf is hanging all over the place.

You’d never know he just had wire surgery, right?

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Dec 2 / Erin

Thanksgiving Table: Feather place card

This is an official truth in blogging post.

Truth #1: I purchased pheasant feathers at a craft store to make place cards for my Thanksgiving table.

Truth #2: I did this, in large part, so that I could participate in week two of the Dare to DIY Challenge: Dare to Entertain.

Truth #3: I didn’t actually use the place cards and only made one to share in this post because my dear, sweet husband told me that feathers are disgusting.

But, if for some reason you don’t think feathers are disgusting, you could totally make a fun, cheap and easy place card holder for your next dinner party.  I paired mine with some pussy willow branches and a gourd for a simple fall feel.

To make the place card I used a single feather and attached a hand-cut leaf shape with my name.  I cut the leaf out of a brown paper lunch bag using pinking shears.

Pinking shears are the best.  You’re really not supposed to cut paper with them, but when you’re just making one disgusting feather place card, it should be okay.

Okay, so now that you know I essentially faked this whole blog post, you can head on over to Maybe Matilda to check out all the real Dare to Entertain posts!

Hope you had a lovely, feather-free Thanksgiving!

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Nov 27 / Erin

Day 5: Set your Thanksgiving table

I am taking a quick break from my Thanksgiving prep for some last minute tips on setting your Thanksgiving table (my last segment of my five-day Thanksgiving series).  The big day is nearly here and the finish line is in sight!

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I’ll be honest, setting a proper table isn’t a high priority in our house.  We barely set the table each weeknight—usually it’s grabbing plates and silverware as we walk to the table.  But, I do take the opportunity each Thanksgiving to dress up our little dining space.

Some years I’ve been able to set the table the day in advance (which is fun and festive, and saves time on Turkey Day).  But, since we don’t have a separate dining room and we’ll be having five guests in our house for the long weekend, we’ll need to use that table for other meals.  But, there are still a few things you can do to prep even if you aren’t setting your table until Thursday.

  • Practice your centerpiece and table setting.  This might sound silly, but it will help you remember to dust off your candles holders, wipe the spots from your wine glasses and iron your napkins.
  • Make place cards if you’re using them.
  • Roll or fold your napkins so they’re in a place you can easily grab them.

    napkins ready

  • Set out all the silverware you’ll need in a place that is handy.  We use our nice silver the day of Thanksgiving, so I cleaned it and put it in a convenient place.

silverware ready

If you’re like me, you might need a quick reminder on which way the knife faces.  I always refer to a post that I wrote four years ago with a handy table setting diagram.

And now you should be all set for Thanksgiving!  Enjoy!

Psst, if you’re just catching up, check out the first four posts for menu planning, ingredient inventorying, grocery list making, and timeline planning.

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Nov 26 / Erin

Day 4: Thanksgiving game plan

People!  Thanksgiving is just two days away.  As in the day after tomorrow.  Do you have your game plan ready?

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I do, but just barely.  Thank goodness I’m doing this little Thanksgiving series—it is really helping to keep me on track as I plan our feast for five adults, two toddlers and two infants.  (Yeah, we don’t plan on sleeping.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it may sound like prepping for Thanksgiving is a lot of work and is stressful, but I find that dividing the tasks into reasonable chunks to be completed over the course of a few days is the key to a relaxing and stress-free Thanksgiving Day.

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It’s not too late for you to get your game plan in order.  All you need to do is think about the end result.  Picture your perfect Thanksgiving dinner—picture all the food you want and the table you’ll set.  Then outline the steps you need to take to make that dinner happen and spread the steps over a couple of days.  Here is an example of the general timeline I’m using to prepare our Thanksgiving menu.

Tuesday: Make pie crusts and refrigerate them.  Wash the sheets for the guest beds

Wednesday Day: Send the kids to daycare and clean the house!  Decide which serving dishes will be used for which dinner items and make sure they’re clean.  Iron table cloths/napkins if needed.

  • Bake: pies, breads, spinach artichoke dip
  • Make: cranberry sauce
  • Prep: butternut squash (peel and cut) and Brussels sprouts (wash and halve)

Wednesday Night: Help my sister make the birthday cake, prep stuffing ingredients, set the crock pot for overnight oatmeal so that we have breakfast.

Thursday:

  • 9:00 a.m. – Prep and stuff the turkey
  • 10:00 a.m. – Turkey goes in the oven!
  • 11:00 a.m. – Put out snacks and heat up spinach artichoke dip
  • 1:00 p.m. – Set the table
  • 2:00 p.m. – Make mashed potatoes and butternut squash on the stove top
  • 3:00 p.m. – Prep the Brussels sprouts
  • 3:30 p.m. – Turkey out, Brussels sprouts in!  Make the gravy and carve the turkey.
  • 4:00 p.m. – Dinner time!

I kind of can’t wait to get started.  How about you?

Be sure to tune back in tomorrow for the last installment of this mini series: setting the Thanksgiving table!

And, if you’re just catching up, check out the first three posts for menu planning, ingredient inventorying and grocery list making.

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Nov 25 / Erin

Thanksgiving Pennant Banner

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in holding off on Christmas until Thanksgiving is over, so while many bloggers are trimming their trees, I’m savoring fall for one more week.  Okay, six days, but who’s counting?

Thanksgiving isn’t one of those holidays that lends itself to decorating, but each year for the past four years I’ve been inspired to do a little something special thanks to the Dare to DIY blog party series started by Kim at NewlyWoodwards and now co-hosted by Michelle, Cassie and Rachel.  And since I had so much fun with my Halloween garland that I decided to do something similar on our hallway shelves for Thanksgiving by making a pennant banner out of burlap.

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll know that I use our hallway shelves as a mantle, changing up the styling for each season.  The pennant banner adds a little something, don’t you think?

The colors happen to coordinate with the turkey wall hanging I made last year which is just around the corner from these shelves on the pantry door (or the “dog food door” as Ike calls it.)

This was, perhaps, the easiest project I’ve done in a long time, taking a total of 30 minutes.

First I created a triangle pattern and cut out 12 burlap pieces (I had the burlap on hand from our fall porch decorating).  Then I trimmed the pattern and cut four pieces out of three coordinating fabrics.  I used pinking shears to give the fabric a finished look without any effort.

I didn’t bother attaching the fabric to the burlap, I simply used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to connect the burlap, fabric and yarn.

Easy peasy Thanksgiving banner.

If you need some ideas for last minute Thanksgiving decorating, be sure to check out my projects from previous years like my give thanks jars, thanks wreath or turkey wall hanging.  Or, just head over to Primitive and Proper to see the other projects linked up to the Dare to DIY party this week!

And if you want to join in on the fun for the next few weeks, here is the Dare to DIY schedule.

Here’s to a crafty holiday season!

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Nov 22 / Erin

Day 3: Thanksgiving Shopping Lists

It’s the Friday before Thanksgiving!  Are you shopping for your feast this weekend?  If so, you’ve come to the right spot at the right time.  This is the third post in my five-day series about prepping for your Thanksgiving meal.  So far we’ve covered menu planning and inventorying ingredients, so now we’re on to the shopping trip.  Bring your coupons!

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Once you’ve had a chance to list all of the ingredients for your Thanksgiving meal and check that list against your pantry inventory, it’s time to make your shopping list.  As I inventory my ingredients, I cross off items I don’t need to buy or make notes about quantities needed.  Then I turn that mess of scribbles and marks into an organized shopping list.  I secretly love to see the lists come together.

If you’re like me, you’ll visit two or three different stores to collect all of your ingredients, and perhaps split the shopping into two sessions.  I like to buy all of the non-perishables at least a week in advance so that my last minute shopping trip is only for fresh produce.

Now, this may sound crazy, but I recommend spitting your lists the following way:

1. Items to buy ahead
a. by store
i. by section (produce, baking items, etc.)

2. Items to buy last minute
a. by store
i. by section (produce, baking items, etc.)

I don’t mind doing this the old fashioned way with pen and paper, but I’ve really taken to using the Ziplist app on my iPhone.  I can make multiple lists (by store, by date, etc.) and check them off as I move through the store.  The app automatically organizes items by section of the store, so it does half the work for you.  And, if you’re splitting the shopping you can sync your list to another device (very handy to add items to the shopping list while your husband is shopping!).

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My last bit of advice about shopping is to go early in the day or late at night.  I did my first big round of Thanksgiving shopping on Wednesday night at about 7:30 p.m. and I was in, out and home with no problem.  Who wants to fight the crowds, anyway!?

If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, I get it.  But I have found this whole list-making process only takes about and hour and gives me the confidence to know I have everything I need when the store close the night before Thanksgiving.  And that, my friend, makes for a more restful and relaxing Turkey Day.  Ready to shop?!

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Nov 20 / Erin

Day 2: Thanksgiving ingredient inventory

Welcome to day two of my Thanksgiving prep series. This post is where I get all obsessive and weird about list making—but it’s for a good purpose!  My ultimate goal: to not make a trip to the grocery store on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or, worse, realize I don’t have foil while roasting the turkey!

Yesterday we focused on creating our Thanksgiving menu, so now we’re on to inventorying our ingredients.

ThanksgivingListDay2

The process that I use to ensure I have every.little.thing. I need for Thanksgiving is tedious, but effective.

  • First, corral every recipe you plan to make.
  • Next, write down all the ingredients you need to make each of the recipes.  This includes the basic ingredients like flour and sugar, butter and milk.  This isn’t your shopping list, this is your ingredient list that you will check against your pantry to determine what you need to buy!
  • Then, think through supplies you need for cooking, dinner and hosting, like napkins, saran wrap, foil, etc.  Don’t forget items like coffee, cream, wine and other necessities!
  • If you have an ingredient that you need for multiple recipes, be sure to keep track of the quantity needed so you have enough.  For example, by the time I went through all of my recipes for this year, I realized I should buy three bags of cranberries instead of my normal two.

This process ensures that I double check to make sure I have things in my cupboards like nutmeg, Bell seasoning and Wondra (for making gravy!).  Tomorrow I’ll tell you how I turn this ingredient list into my shopping lists.  Yes, I have multiple shopping lists.

How do you get your Thanksgiving list organized?  Have you ever forgotten to purchase a key Thanksgiving ingredient?

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