My 3-Year Bloggiversary!

Three years ago today, I published my first post on Bewildered Mother, Those Two Little Blue Lines.

And boy, what a three years it has been! To commemorate, I created a timeline of all the posts from January 2010 until now. You can find the timeline up top in the menu. You can also find the individual pages for each year in that menu.

2010

Seriously, go check out the timeline. I spent time on it and need validation.

I also updated the ABOUT on the blog to include Neville. I’ll update it again when Baby Lion is born or if something monumentally life changing happens (I kinda hope it won’t).

Top 5 posts of all time

#1—The Cure for Hangerphobia, 1-20-2012

In which I humiliate myself by piling all of the clothes that need to be hanged up on hangers onto my own body.

Could I BE wearing any more clothes?

#2—Pinwheels—the Addictive Finger Food, 12-29-11

In which I give recipes for twelve different varieties of the tortilla roll-up appetizer.

Ham and Green Onion Pinwheels

#3—Mommy DIY: Nursing Pads, 11-22-2010

In which I describe the complete waste (and possible alien origin) of disposable nursing pads, and then illustrate how five dollars can make enough nursing pads to last the rest of your baby-producing life.

Easy even for those who mistakenly call seamstresses “sewers.”

#4—Daily Mom and Toddler Schedule, 5-14-2012

In which I am laughably unrealistic.

(This schedule did work well for a while, and I intend to pick up on it again SOON. Moving over the summer, followed by a 1st trimester of pregnancy, followed by job searching, has basically thrown any sense of schedule out of the window. I owe my sanity to PBS. I finally have a chiming clock, so it should be easier for me to keep on track.)

#5—Potty Training in One Day: Day Zero (Preparation), 1-19-13

In which I talk about the prep work that went into getting my 2 year old potty trained. Be sure to read Day One: The Big Day!

pottytraining0

Golly Moses, I wrote this less than a week ago, and it’s already in the top five posts of all time!

What I’ve learned about blogging

I don’t blog for pay, and I never intend to. Blogging is generally at the bottom of my priorities, even below the dishes, because 1) it is time consuming and 2) it doesn’t have to be done.

I’m an ideas person, but I’m not a follow-through person per se. If the idea ends up not going how I’d like, I ignore it for a new idea. My mind is like a closed room with a pitching machine shooting out bouncy blue racquet balls. I’m like the dog in that room, trying to catch just one ball at a time.

Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

I’m also a very forgetful person, and mommy brain does not help the situation.  I’ve been trying to make myself a cup of tea for the past three hours. I keep forgetting about the water boiling on the stove—we don’t have a whistling kettle and all my timers are already preoccupied. Now my tea is steeping. It’s a good thing I like strong tea, because I’ll probably leave the tea bag in there for about 20 minutes before I remember to take it out.

That said, you’ll find quite a few blog posts in which I start something and never finish it. If you ever want a follow-up on something, please comment on that blog post!

The Future of Diary of a Bewildered Mother

Primarily this blog began as a way to document the confusion, craziness, and excitement that accompanies an unexpected first pregnancy. In that sense, it was definitely more like a diary. Then I got to meet Little Champ, and my life as a mom really started. It’s crazy and unpredictable and anything but orderly.

Now that I have a toddler and am expecting a second baby this spring, I’ve got my hands full, but I’ll have my hands even more full once Baby Lion is born. I know I’ll post Baby Lion’s birth story, and I’m sure I’ll post lots of photos of my two kids once a month.

Ideally, I’d also post some more recipes and DIYs and lessons I’ve learned about parenting and marriage. But with two kids and a dog under 3, I’m just not going to make any promises. Especially since we might be needing another income this year. What I can say is that I post a whole lot more on my Bewildered Mother Facebook Page than I do here, so individual pictures and little moments are more likely to pop up over there. I also ask parenting questions and post links to parenting sites and to things that make me laugh as a mother. Check it out, become a fan if you want.

February 9th is our prohibition-themed speakeasy gender-reveal party! I’ll definitely be posting about that. On the potty front, there isn’t a whole lot more to say except that the Prince Lionheart Potty is far superior to the crap Disney Cars one we got at Walmart. Once I figure out about potty training and public toilets, I’ll be sure to share.

In case you were wondering, the tea is just fine. Champ has had to use the potty half a dozen times (read: 3) since I began this post, so I have been able to check on my tea using his biological clock. Now the matter is drinking it before it gets cold.

Daily Mom and Toddler Schedule

(Update from 2013: Let me get this out in the open. The following blog post is extremely optimistic. I’m not an organized person, and Life Happens. For a bit of a reality check to compare with the idealism you’ll read below, check out Mom Stress Test and Guilt-Free, Survival Parenting and Confessions of a Sleep-Deprived Mom of Two. And in case you’re wondering, I did make up a Mom and Preschooler schedule in the summer of 2013, but I’ve yet to have a day where something didn’t get in the way of our plan for the day.)

As a mom, I feel like I’m always trying to get my life together. I’ve been a preschool teacher, I’ve been a writer and a designer, and now I’m a mom that writes, designs, and takes care of my little man. Don’t even get me started on housework.

But I feel like I’m not alone. Most mom blogs out there talk about getting a good balance between ME time, KID time, HUSBAND time, and HOUSEWORK time. If you’re a Christian, you know you’ve got to throw some LORD time in there, too.

I’ve learned the hard way that even though I’m pretty free-spirited, I need structure in order to actually get things done. So today I took some time out and looked at child care schedules and adapted it for me and for my little man. I’m not a paid day care provider, and there’s only one of me, so I’m not going to be teaching or playing with my son 100% of the time—I’m the cook and the custodian, too.

Here’s our schedule. Already it’s going to be a bit flexible because we have things going on every night this week, and I’m going out to lunch later this week during his usual nap time, but here it is, ideally:


A few notes, in no particular order:

  • “Husband” is underlined in the chart because my word processor doesn’t like gender-specific words. The image is a screenshot because screenshots are easy.
  • Because we’d like to grow our family, I am starting to get Little Champ used to quiet play in the morning, when a baby might be taking another nap. Our family isn’t growing yet, but when it does, then it won’t be as big of an adjustment when there’s another napper in the house. Until then, it’s nice to get some quiet play, for both our sakes.
  • My time is divided between faith living, time with my son, time with my husband, cleaning, cooking, writing, design, drawing (something I need to work on), and reading.
  • Little Champ spends the day playing. I’d like to start structuring his play so that he has some artistic play, building play, and pretend play. Story time is also educational. I am a firm believer in the effects of imaginative learning—the more of your brain you use daily, the smarter and more creative you become.
  • How you spend your time is a good look at what is important to you. My husband and I are trying to be more intentional about living out our faith with our son, even at such a young age. We are also trying to make a point to eat together at meals. Families that eat together and pray together stay together; children who eat meals with their families are less likely to partake in drugs, underage drinking or sex; and intentional eating (opposed to distracted eating) keeps people from overeating and gaining weight.
  • Little Champ is a bit young to understand responsibility (he’s not yet 2), but he sees my husband and I cleaning, and we try to involve him. I let him help me put the clothes in the dryer, he helps me “sweep” with his own broom, and he helps us put away his toys. If he didn’t eat in a high chair, we’d be teaching him how to bring his plates into the kitchen. Maybe I’ll start looking into a little table for him to sit at, so he can learn to pick up after meals.
  • I’ve seen other moms’ schedules here in the blogosphere, and most of the time is spent watching TV. There’s a reason we don’t have TV. Educational shows or not, TV teaches kids to be absorbers, not performers; consumers, not creators. That’s why I highly value play time, and learning through play. I also want to teach my children to be active and responsible. I may allow my son to watch Shaun the Sheep (purely for fun) or Sesame Street (educational), but I limit it to 1 hour MAXIMUM per day. He probably watches about 2 hours per week.

Your turn. Are there ways you can see that I might improve this schedule? What has worked for you?

(Future me again, from 2013. Champ watches way more TV when I’m exhausted or when Lion is teething or sick. I don’t want to know how many times he’s seen every episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates and The Magic Schoolbus. Educational TV has helped his vocabulary and ability to empathize. However, he has far more fits on days I let him watch TV. So don’t feel bad if your child’s been watching a ton of television! Just be sure to get them creating, playing, and socializing in real life, too) 

Clean Sweep: Overview

Simplify your life by getting rid of clutter. “Getting rid of” means just that—you need it out of your house.

The next six weeks, I’ll share with you what worked and what didn’t work for me as I eliminate lots of stuff, organize, rearrange, and pack up my entire house to move across country.

Ready to embark on Operation: Clean Sweep with me?

Step One: Make a plan.

I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed really easily. At least when it comes to cleaning and organizing. If you are as much of a clutterbug as I am, then you know things have to get worse before they can get better. Making a plan will help you tackle things in smaller pieces.

My Plan

  • Decide themes/color schemes for each room. Here’s an idea of my colors (Warning: Pinterest Board!). This post on Young House Love is a great read about picking colors that create a sense of continuity in your home.
  • One room at a time—wall to wall—separate EVERYTHING into toss, recycle, give/sell, keep, store. If you want to make the process simpler, make three distinctions: Keep, toss, sell.
  • Gather books and separate by hardcover (for display), paperback, business/professional books, research, non-fiction, inspirational, etc. See if any paperback books are free for e-readers.
  • Magazines: highlight the good stuff, rip out ads, document/index, put in pretty boxes (tutorial coming in a few days!)
  • Decor: divide into spring, summer, fall, winter. Eliminate anything that doesn’t match each room or isn’t completely loved. I rotate decor between my bedroom and the living room so 75% isn’t in storage all the time.
  • Toys: Give away obnoxious toys, divide by age and season.
  • Photos: Divide by subject (artsy versus personal, family pics), divide by season. Frame.
  • Clothes: Get rid of everything not absolutely loved. Shoes, too. Divide by season, formality, and age (for kids). Recycle old T-shirts into a gigantic quilt. (Tutorials herehere, and here.)
  • Crafts: divide by medium, divide supplies and tools, get rid of crap.
  • Collect all containers/storage: Decide in which room to store them and what to put in each.
  • PAPERS: Recycle, shred, digitalize, or file. Organize notes into binders.
  • Furniture: Decide what to get rid of.

YOU

Next week (or later this week) I’ll update you on how the office Clean Sweep went. Until then, what’s your plan for getting rid of clutter?

Operation: Clean Sweep

Did you ever watch the TLC show Clean Sweep?

Yes, ladies, it’s the show with Eric Stromer, the carpenter who spreads paint on the wall with his hands.

Ahem. Anyway, it was a show in which a team would visit a cluttered home, choose the two scariest rooms, and declutter them. They’d first remove EVERYTHING from the two rooms. Then they’d bring it all out onto the front lawn, where they would divide the stuff between Keep, Sell, and Toss (or donate). Then the organizer would be brought in and purge everything.

No, Mrs. Paulsen. You cannot keep your porcelain cat lamp. It’s awful. Say goodbye.

Then the husband and wife would have competing garage sales, and whoever sold more stuff would get to choose something from their spouse’s “Keep” pile to get rid of. Drama and hilarity ensue.

Meanwhile, aforementioned carpenter man is building custom built-in storage for the family, and a professional designer is revamping the room. They put all the keep stuff back into the rooms, and then reveal the rooms to the family.

Wow! I can’t believe it! It’s amazing! It looks great!

You get the idea.

Well, it’s time for us to undertake a clean sweep ourselves. LT and I really haven’t accumulated much in our 2.5 years of marriage, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have too much stuff. Last week I found Flonase that had expired.

Expiration date: January 2006.

That was before I graduated high school. Since I graduated high school, I’ve moved TEN TIMES.

Time to purge.

The Plan

In lieu of bringing everything I own in my entire house onto our front lawn (as I’m sure our housing would have an issue with that), I’m going to be playing a crazy musical chairs sort of game.

We are having a party in about 6 weeks. I need to get rid of everything that needs to get rid of, and then put everything back in its place. After the party, then I’ll pack it all up for our move. Why put everything back? Well, to ensure that I have the room for everything I’m keeping. Otherwise I’ll get rid of more stuff. Plus, I’d much rather pack an organized house than a disorganized house, because the last 10 moves I have packed disorganization. Then I unpacked disorganization. Vicious cycle, really.

Operation: Clean Sweep

Want to join me? Stay tuned. I’ll post my plans and the results: successes and failures.

Are you a blogger? Use the image above to let people know you are participating! Copy and paste the code below onto your own blog:

<a href=”https://bewilderedmother.wordpress.com”><img title=”operation clean sweep” src=”https://bewilderedmother.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/operation-clean-sweep-01.jpg&#8221; alt=”” width=”350″ height=”351″ /></a>

DIY reusable daily and weekly planners

Are you ready for the week to begin?

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with daily planners and notebooks.

But instead of telling you about my love affair with planners and walking down the aisle in the office supply store, I’m just going to cut to the chase and show you what I do know.

I could write down all of the things I needed to do in my planner, easy. The problem was actually opening up my planner again to do those things I wrote down.

Now I use dry erase boards that are hanging on walls all over my house. I figure that “out of sight, out of mind” also means “in sight, obnoxiously nagging you.” I also figure that it gives me some accountability to anyone else that can read…

Here’s an example of one. I’ll explain the layout and give more examples below.

All you need is a dry erase board, a Sharpie, and an idea of what you want to be planning. Ruler and nail polish remover optional. Basically, you draw the outlines with a permanent marker and draw inside those outlines with dry erase markers.

Step One

Use the Sharpie to draw out the permanent layout on your dry erase board. If you mess up, you can erase the permanent marker in one of two ways.

  • For small areas, take a dry erase marker, scribble over the permanent marker, and erase.
  • For large areas, use nail polish remover and a Q-tip or cotton square to apply.

Note: If you accidentally draw over a permanent marker line with a dry-erase marker, the permanent marker will come off. That’s why I don’t draw lines for writing on—I draw boxes to write in.

Step Two

Actually, that was pretty much it. I suppose at this point, you start filling in your planner. Woohoo!

My examples

Here’s a close-up of the board shown above. I got the days of the week magnets at Target. The first row of seven is for daily appointments. The next is for menu planning and lists the menu theme of the day, as well as daily chores. The bottom section is the Honey-Do list, which LT and I both contribute to.

This one is a more elaborate weekly planner in a “checklist” format. On the left are things that need to get done every day, ordered in the rough progression of the day. The squares on the inside are either blank or I write in what needs to happen during that time. For example, I have two slots for “projects.” In the boxes I write which projects I need to work on that day. When I finish a chore or activity, I put a magnet on that square. The first column reads: Vitamins, breakfast, chores, lunch, projects, work out / go outside, snack, projects, dinner, dishes, brush teeth, mini bedtime (bedtime for the mini people in our family, aka the kids), before bed tidy up. Yes, I often forget to eat three meals each day.

If it would appear that I haven’t done anything this week, then I should point out that today is Sunday, and the board is for tomorrow–Saturday. Tomorrow I will put the magnets in the squares as I complete each item.

This format will be adapted or duplicated, probably, when I have more children. With this layout, each child could fit a magnet in one slot, or you could have a board for each child.

Here’s the daily one I made today.

The one on the left is the blank version. On the right, I filled in the planner and made a couple of additions.

When I saw these Free Daily and Weekly Planner Printables from AHolyExperience.com, I thought that they were great! And I thought maybe I’d try them out, and then I’d design my own. However, I haven’t gotten to that yet, and I wanted to use my third dry erase board for daily planning, so I did this.

The printable downloads are lovely! If you go that route, enjoy them heartily. Be sure to check out Ann’s book and the rest of her blog, too! She’s an inspiration. You can even try laminating her planners and reusing those with a dry erase marker (or overhead markers, if those are still around). When I come up with my design, I’ll post it here, on my blog, for free. I’m wanting a smaller size, I think, hence designing it myself. We’ll see, I suppose.

  • Top row: Devotion? check box | date
  • 2nd row: Blank space to write out memory verse, practicing every day |Domestic duties | business
  • 3rd row: Imperatives (things that have to get done) | things I should do | things I could do, if I have time | things that need to get done eventually
  • 4th row: menu for the day | Schedule for the day (when I will do what I wrote in the “to do” section)
  • 5th row: workout? check box | Water? Check box

Have fun planning out your days and weeks!

The Cure for Hangerphobia

As I described in my recent post about organizing clothing, I have quite an aversion to hanging things up on hangers.

The Life Cycle of my Non-Foldables

On a rare occasion, non-foldables make it all the way to hangers IN OUR CLOSET, only to be tossed on the floor after I try them on and decide to wear something else. But of course, they rarely get that far. Baby sea turtles have a better chance of becoming geriatric.

My hanger-necessary items usually get taken out of the dryer and lain out on a flat surface, piled on top of each other. Then the awkwardly long pile stays there or migrates across the house—to the couch, where the other clothes were getting folded while I watch Netflix, or to a chair in the bedroom, or to Little Champ’s pack & play, which is in the closet. Sometimes I actually get them on hangers right in the laundry room…and they stay there for months until LT wonders where his dress shirt is.

But yesterday I came up with perhaps my most brilliant idea, ever. Even more brilliant than using a ladle to grab bottles from the back of the top shelf (That totally works. Cup the top of the bottle with the ladle and pull it towards you.)

Anyway, here’s my idea, complete with real life, embarrassing photographs:

If you take a non-foldable article of clothing out of the dryer, PUT IT ON. Finish folding the other clothes. When you are done, walk to the closet, and take the articles off one at a time, PUTTING THEM ON THEIR HANGERS.

I suppose that an early and repetitive exposure to FRIENDS may have inspired this idea.

Here’s the plan, in action:

Bewildered Mother wants YOU to try it (if you are a hangerphobe)

Little Champ’s clothes prove an interesting challenge

I think that this would work especially well for kids that are hangerphobes due to its silly or embarrassing nature.

If you try it, let me know how it goes!

If you are especially silly, post a picture of an attempt on the Bewildered Mother Facebook Page!

Need help organizing your home? You don’t want to get advice on organizing from somebody who doesn’t really need to organize in the first place because their house is already in perfect order. You want tips from a person who is like you, who figures out how to organize through trial and error, and who knows the value of a Junk drawer. Let’s muddle through it together! Check out my Slobs Anonymous posts for tips and confessions. My Housekeeping posts have a little bit of everything related to keeping a house, even the D-word…Dishes.

When Clothing Attacks: Organizing the Beast

Part One: Children’s Clothing Sizes

Have you noticed that clothing brands NEVER fit the same? Same is true for baby clothes. I went through Little Champ’s clothing and decided to create my own sizing system, based on the averages of different brands.

I’d also get really confused. Are kids supposed to wear 3M until they are 3 months old, or do they start wearing 3M when they are 3 months old? Is 3M the same as a 0-3 in another brand, or a 3-6?

Carter usually fits my son the best according to his age. Gerber runs ridiculously thin and long. Ridiculous isn’t the word. Preposterous, maybe.

I could take a picture of the difference between Gerber and Carter sizes, but other people have done that for me. Below is a size 18 months in both. Click through to be taken to the source.

carters-gerber

Anyway, here’s my clothing system. I went through all of Little Champ’s clothes and drew a color coded star on the tag designating weight.

Feel free to share, download, print, and use! You don’t have to credit me as long as nobody tries to profit from the chart. Share and share alike!

A few notes: Gap and Old Navy are the same sizes. I didn’t include all of the baby clothing brands, obviously, just what we had the most of. If you have a different brand and are wondering what to compare it to, I suggest comparing it to a Carter’s piece. A general rule of thumb is that cheaper runs bigger. Little Champ has a pair of Faded Glory pants that are 6-9 months that will fit no human child, unless he or she is wearing an innertube around the waist. I put the cheapest brand on top (Garanimals, the Walmart brand that I totally love. Nowhere else can you get a new fleece hoodie for a toddler for $4—not on sale). Uncharted brands may or may not have similar sizes to other brands in the same price range.

After 5T, I’m going to assume that the size will be appropriate for the age. It was for me, anyway, until I had to wear adult clothing (and join the blasted small-medium-large system that is idiotic, if you ask me).

When Little Champ is finished with a color range, I donate half and keep half for the next kid, sorted and labeled by color size.

2014 Update: Having clothing sorted by sizes has made things SO much easier for my second boy. I can look and see where he is on the chart, take that size out of my hand-me-down bin, and and put them in his drawers.

Part Two: The Rest of the Mess

Speaking of clothing, I haven’t posted in a while because I am trying to battle the clothing monster that has multiplied and is spreading across the house like a fungus.

My laundry room is like the rats that bore the bubonic plague. I had to start there, since it’s the source of the problem. Unfortunately I can’t play a flute to make every article of clothing scurry into a lake of drawers and closets. Somebody invent that.

I watched the YouTube video on folding shirts the Japanese way. Instead of raiding my own closets, I raided Pinterest for ideas on how to organize closets.

Basically, I know that my clothes have to be easier to put away than take out.

Rule #1: If you can’t see every article of clothing, you are doing it wrong.

I know, I know, when you think of folded clothes in drawers, you probably think of something like this, clothes folded and stacked neatly, maybe you throw in some rolled(!) shirts, because that saves space:

Now this works…if you wear the same exact thing every day, like a MARINE.

If, however, you have liberty to wear something different every day, and you stack your clothes like that, you will have to dig through the piles to find the one shirt you want to wear, and the clothes will soon turn into a scary, terrifying mess.

But if you simply turn those stacks on their side, then you can see every article of clothing when you open up the drawers. Like this:

You can then browse through your selection and pluck the fruit without disturbing all the other little berries of clothing.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Rule #2: Get over your aversion for hangers

Update: See how I got over my aversion for hangers in “The Cure for Hangerphobia”!

I can’t explain my aversion to hangers. I just really don’t like hanging things back up. It’s a familiar scene: I take something off the hanger I’d like to wear, I put it on, it looks terrible, my husband hears growling coming from the closet, I take it off, and I throw it on the floor so it knows what it’s done.

Most people at this point might say, “If it looks bad on you, why do you own it?”

That’s a complicated answer. 1) I buy things on sale if they fit my high standard of “not crappy” rather than buying what I actually love. I’m getting better, realizing that I could buy one really cute dress I love if I don’t buy ten clearance items. 2) Sometimes it’s the day—if you haven’t had “fat days,” don’t dare tell me—and sometimes it’s just wrong for where I’m going. “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t wear this thigh-baring, cleavage-creating dress to church.”

Anyway, LT actually doesn’t like hangers because dust gathers on his clothes, especially his pants that he doesn’t wear often. So we put his rarely worn clothing in garment bags.

I commissioned LT to create something so we can utilize a bottom row of hanging. I’d like to have my skirts and shorts under my shirts, with dresses hanging by themselves.

Oooooooooo

Rule #3: Sort.

I love the look of arranging clothing on hangers by color, and I tried it once, but it didn’t last long. So I sort the books on my shelves by color and went back to my old system of sorting clothing:

  • sorting by formality
  • then by warmth (sleeve length, usually)
  • then by color.

2014 Update: In our new house, I don’t have walk-in closets anymore. Now I have a hanging shelf in the middle, on one side I have colorful dresses and shirts, sorted by color, and on the other side of the hanging shelf I have my neutrals (white, grey, black, brown) sorted by color and then by sleeve length. Now I can make an outfit by oordinating colors or mixing a color with a neutral. I still have clothes that I don’t wear, but I replace them as I go shopping (which isn’t often, now that I have 2 little boys and little or no access to drop-in childcare. )

My plan is to create a lower rung in Little Champ’s closet so I can hang tops on top and bottoms on bottom, then sort his clothes in the same way. Then when he’s old enough, he can pick out his clothes and still be appropriate(ish).

I’d use four graphics: One for formal (a Church?) one for play (a soccer ball or truck?), one for warm (a sun), and one for cooler (a snowflake or cloud). These would either go on the hangers or on sections of the closet. On his closet door, I’d put a felt board that showed the weather and what we were going to do that day (play or go someplace formal, like Church or a wedding, etc.).

His closet would only have clothes that fit him and were appropriate seasonally. Out of season or different sized clothing would be in the garage, in labeled bins, or they would be in a different child’s closet. I plan to color code like crazy when we have a houseful of kids. If we have a host of one gender or the other in similar ages, I might designate one room to be the “closet”—yes, like the Duggar family.

2014 Update: I have a Pinterest board of ideas for living with multiple kids, including shared closet ideas. The board is called “A Full House” and you can follow it here.

How do you sort or organize your clothes?

Wrapping Paper and Christmas Cards

Wrapping presents and Christmas cards can be one of the most fun (or most stressful) parts of Christmas.

Here are my solutions to two common headaches of the holiday season:

Christmas Cards

Mailing out cards and letters every year can be really expensive, so we decided to save some money by making a couple of changes.

  1. First, while gathering our Christmas mailing list, I asked who would prefer receiving a digital copy. That slashed my price in half right there, because about 50% of our list said they would prefer emailed cards.
  2. I designed postcards myself and had them printed on card stock. Mine are 5×7 so they are frame-able, and they fit 2 per 8.5″ x 11″ sheet, but you could fit divide a sheet into fourths and make a smaller postcard. Print on the back side in black and white, or leave blank when printing and hand write on the back. Postage in 2011 for postcards is $0.29.
  3. On the back of the postcards, I included a link to where our family and friends can find our Christmas letter online. If you have a blog, post yours on there and make it password-protected.
  4. For the couple of families who are not internet-savvy, I am printing the letters in color and sending those with our postcards in a manilla envelope.

How are you doing Christmas cards?

Speaking of Christmas cards, I am always wondering how to display them and can never find an idea I really like.

Today, though, I saw this idea: Use a beaded “ribbon” and lanyard hooks! Brilliant, cheap, and pretty!

Find the instructions here.

Wrapping presents

Little Champ has already unwrapped several presents under the tree, which is why I am anxious to finish the project I am currently working on.

My grandmother would sew pillowcases, put our presents in them, and then tie them shut with a ribbon. You can use these “bags” over and over again! Sure, wrapping paper can be pretty cheap, but think about a time you had to wrap a really awkwardly shaped gift, or you cut the paper juuuuust a sliver too short, so you have to cover the opening with an extra panel of paper, which you tape all the way around.

If you’re considering tossing the paper and scotch tape out the window, this craft might be for you!

If you want these to be multitasking bags, sew a bunch of pillowcases. I decided on drawstring bags, though, of various and random sizes. While I still have to sew them all up, I thought I’d let you know I’m doing it NOW, so that if you think, “Hey, that’s a good idea. I’d like to try it,” then you can buy the fabric now and make them before Christmas, instead of waiting for me to be done procrastinating, which might very well be Christmas Eve at 7 pm.

The best part? I don’t have to post a tutorial because so many have already made drawstring bags and put tutorials online!

To watch a video tutorial, go here.

Or to read a tutorial, go here.

Or, if you want to skip the sewing all together, gather up some pillowcases and those drawstring bags your sheets come in (you know, the kind you get in the college section at Target), and use those instead!

Let me know how it goes! I’ll post photos when I’m finally done.

Coming up in December!

I haven’t forgotten you, dear readers!

In fact, I have been making Christmas presents and have been quite busy. But here’s what’s coming up in the next few weeks—the last few weeks of 2011!

 1. A giveaway? Yes, please!

Remember how I told you I had some new ideas for the blog coming up this fall/winter? Well, one of them is a giveaway every once in a while! The past few weeks I have been laboring over a present for Little Champ—multilingual, vintage, alphabet animal flashcards. I just sent them off to be printed, and when I get them delivered to my house, I’ll snap some photos to show them off, post them on Etsy, and…give one set away to a lucky reader! Details to come. Look for it next week.

2. Tutorials and ideas for a homemade Christmas

I already tried and failed at one project, so sorry about that, but I’m going to start up on a few new projects soon, and show you what I made and how to make them. This includes gifts and Christmas decorations. And because you probably know a little about me from reading my blog, you know that all of these projects will be quite inexpensive to make. Like, how about a super cute garland for $2? That sort of thing.

3. A new blog design?

Okay, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Apparently I still don’t quite understand how to factor in motherhood when estimating time, and as such, I always underestimate how long things take me. So don’t expect the new blog designs until 2012.

Stay tuned!

And while we are waiting for my flash cards to be delivered, how about you share some of your family’s Christmas traditions with us? LT and I are staying home this year and have already begun two traditions: Advent devotions and a LEGO Star Wars Advent calendar :D