A Trip Down Christmas Card Lane

I love going to my mailbox in December. The bills and the junk mail are still there but so are Christmas Cards from dear family and friends. So to our dearest blog friends, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

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I love (for the most part)the yearly tradition of sending our family Christmas Card. For years I made my own card, scrapbook style. My personal Christmas card policy is to include a picture each year, usually alternating just kids and whole family. Lets face it, I look pretty much the same year to year, just add a few pounds and a few wrinkles and no one needs to see that. I also include a short update on our family because I adore reading Christmas letters from friends and family. So just for a laugh here's a trip down memory lane.

2002

This is a hoot because I was obviously in an embossing kick. And a tearing paper kick. Wow! Also the first year I made my card instead of sending a separate picture and letter.

2002

2004

(Sorry, can't find or even remember 2003) Definitely a more simple approach in 2004, but don't worry, I made it more complicated of course by trying to find kraft colored envelopes that opened vertically. I finally found some online and they arrived in an ugly manila color. So sad.

2004

2005

Trying to master the fine art of printing the letter directly on my cardstock.

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2006

I'd like to note that this was pre-Cruicut so I cut out the brackets by hand. And employed my children in the annual Christmas Card sweat shop.

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2007

Not my favorite card or favorite haircut on my son. Bad hair trends happen...Merry Christmas!

2007

2008

I'm pretty sure this was the year I wanted to sue myself for waiting too long to buy cardstock and red or green was nowhere to be seen. When life gives you lemons... black can be a Christmas color.

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2009

When you plan a family picture at the beach and your 6 year old is so petrified of the dog 100 yards away that she ruins all of the pictures with her tortured expression you....do a picture montage. I designed this card in Photoshop and uploaded the whole thing to Vistaprint. I was pleased with the linen paper it came on and loved the price and ease. I was converted to digital!

2009

2010

I'm so lucky to have a talented photographer niece at Shandi Marie Photography who took these pictures and then sent me a template so I could design the card in Photoshop and have her order them for me. I adore the pearl paper. I had to pay more for the card to open horizontally, but I couldn't resist having our 8 people lined up like that.

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2011

And, I cut yet another corner this year when Shandi told me to check out the card templates for photographers at HiStudio. I loved all of them, picked one out and Shandi worked her magic.

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I have lots of fond memories of getting together with dear friends as we all cut and pasted our homemade Christmas cards. But, now I have new memories of not making this process harder than it needs to be. The most important thing is keeping contact with loved ones and sending our Christmas cheer. The moral of the story is... when life gives you 6 kids and a busy holiday season...order your digital Christmas cards.

ABC Gingerbread Men

Have you ever had ABC (already been chewed) gingerbread men?  No?

You're missing out.
And they're missing appendages.
But they still smile through the pain.  Ready to give you a tasty treat.
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When I saw these funny cookie cutters, I just couldn't resist.
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I made sugar cookies and frosted them brown using the outline and flood method.  You could even just use gingerbread dough and skip the brown frosting, but my people prefer sugar cookies.
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Then they got some simple squiggles of white, and smiley faces.  The package had sad faces for an example, but I decided these guys were happy.  I decided they got the joke about "ABC" cookies and they were happy to be headed to a 6th grade classroom to make kids smile.
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Then they got two little red hots to finish the deal.
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These were so simple, that my daughter did them with me.  I have to say, she's 11 and fully meeting my cookie standards these days.  I outline and she knows how to fill, but not over fill.  She knows how to glue on the red hots with a small dot of frosting so it doesn't show.  And she is always very happy to share our cookies with her friends.  I just may have a little cookier on my hands.

If you think these little guys are fun too, you can buy them here.

Nutcracker Cookies

Have you gone to see this little man?

My girls had the privilege of being in the Nutcracker again.  It makes for a really busy holiday season with two sets of practices and performances to keep up with.  And that is the reason why I didn't let my girls try out last year.  I just thought something had to give and told them we were taking a year off.  They almost didn't forgive me, but they were happy to be back in costume this year.  One as a "bonbon" and one as a "party girl."  They make it a really great experience for the kids who are in it.

They love hanging out backstage with friends, being very silly.

They love rubbing shoulders with their ballet heroes.  This is our fave dancer, Elease!

So of course I had to take the opportunity to make a Nutcracker cookie.  They gave them to their cast mates "stage-family."  I've thought about making these lots of times, but always wimped out.  This year I went for it!  Just made rectangular cookies and used my kopykcake for the black outline and filled in.  I ended up kind of disappointed because I kept thinking there was more I wanted to do.  I wanted to add disco dust, rosy cheeks and more detail in the hat and jacket...

But I was so busy doing a kajillion ringlets and buns and stage make-up, 
6 days in a row that I ran out of time for more cookie detail.  
I love my little men though.  They made a special gift! 

Even though it is quite a commitment with volunteer hours and lots of hours taxi-ing the kids around, it is really worth it.  There is something really magical about the Nutcracker, I cry a little every year at certain points in the show.  I can help it.  I can't describe it.  It's just magical.  Even my little guy will sit through it just to see the soldiers battle the rat king!

I hope you get to get dressed up with your little girls and see your local Nutcracker.  
Or if you can't, just make some Nutcracker cookies and call it good!

Gingerbread House Cookie Kit

I'm sharing a cookie project today over on the fabulous eighteen25!

You'll feel like a kid in a candy store when you see how fun and easy these gingerbread houses are!

So go over and check out my guest post and grab some hot chocolate because you'll want to stay a while.  Eighteen25 is crazy amazing!

p.s. If you're trying out this project too, and you'd like to print out a cover for your craft box, 
you can download my version, HERE!

Coaster Tray

I made myself an early Christmas present.

You may not need this gift. Your children may drink from color coded cups, or drink a full 8 oz. at once and then put their cup in the dishwasher, or only use one cup a day, rinsing it between milk, water and juice. You may run loads in your dishwasher that don't look alarmingly full of only cups.

You are a better mother than I am.

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I have lots of lovely counter space in my new house. This is a good thing for when Ashleigh and I made 4000 mini cupcakes and 600 cookies in my kitchen last week (which is a whole other post).

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But, it's not a good thing when you have 8 bodies drinking their recommended 8 cups of fluid a day. The beautiful counters are then littered with various drinks and the children are shocked when you put "the cup I was drinking" in the dishwasher.

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The idea, sweet children o'mine, is to put your cup on the coaster with your cute initial. So that I know you are still drinking it.

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It was very easy and inexpensive to make. I used ceramic coasters from the hardware store at 18 cents each. Modge Podged paper and initial onto the tiles. Glued the tiles to the painted wood board with E6000 glue. I applied several more coats of Modge Podge since we are lucky to keep it to one spill a day around here. I glued some little wood legs on and screwed in some handles. It may not be so easy to get the kids to actually use it.

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I was pretty pleased with myself for actually trying to fix a problem that drives me nuts instead of just periodically huffing and puffing about it. I thought it was self explanatory. Then my dear husband asked if I made this contraption for the kids to put their backpacks on..... Ummmm.....Does he actually live here? I guess he has harder problems to solve at his job. I'm just taking motherhood baby steps here. Next on the list...get the baby to stop coloring on himself.

I {heart} Real Garland and a Winner!

I'm sure most of you are on top of your holiday game, all decorated and trees trimmed.

I, on the other hand am still tying to get my act together.  I decorated today, but I still don't feel my life is complete yet.  Because I haven't bought my garland yet.

Here are a few pictures from last year to show you how beautifully some fresh pine garland can snazzy up some holiday decor:
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This takes dedication considering that I'm allergic to this beautiful greenery.  I get little white bumps that itch and irritate my skin if I handle it.  But that doesn't stop me from putting on some gloves and going for it!

I usually get it at Costco.  It is 15 dollars for a whole lot of it.
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You've seen the shelves my husband made.  They are the perfect place for my greenery and other miscellaneous things.
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My shelves are the perfect place to display my advent calendar.  I got this from pottery barn but it would be so easy to recreate with tea light holders and vinyl letters.  My kids are constantly reminding me to light the candles at night.  It's pretty exciting when they're all lit on Christmas Eve!
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I also love my subway art from my favorite girls at Eighteen25.  And of course my shadow box is going strong again this year.
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And for the past few years I have done something unconventional with the Christmas cards I receive.  I put them on the fresh garland that hangs on the stairway.  I punch a hole and tie them on with a ribbon. It makes me so happy to see all of the cards from my family and friends on display and I get excited as it fills up!   It is the last of the Christmas decor I take down in late January!
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And before I go, I'm excited to announce the winner of the cake pop stands I made.

Heather!  I will email you and send them off!
I hope you get them in time to display something fun this Christmas.
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