Friday, December 31, 2010

A sneak peek... the greatest Christmas present ever. More to come.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Homemade Gift - ABC Crayons

Today, I want to share another homemade gift idea. This one's for the kids. Life in Grace hosted 12 Days of Handmade Christmas back in November, and I got this idea there. If you want to see a tutorial, please click here. There's no sense in me redoing what's already been done. :)

I - probably because I'm completely insane and enjoy making enemies of other mothers - decided to make these as gifts for Aidan's preschool class this year. I have finally finished making 15 batches of alphabet crayons. Like I said - insane. I wouldn't suggest taking on this many if you're overly fond of your fingernails. Peeling 720 crayons is tedious work.

But I like giving a unique gift, and Aidan is really excited about them. Good thing he gets to keep a bag.

If you're wondering where the packaging came from, you can find these cellophane bags at Garnish. They're the largest size. And that adorable cherry red twine? It came from The Twinery.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Girl

There's not much to tell around here today. We've all (except John, of course) had a stomach bug this weekend, so I'm reaching back to last week and sharing a cute picture I forgot about. You know, to remember happier times. ;) Here's Neely Bug, wearing a mama-made outfit. Yes, that's a gum ball in her hand. I have to bribe her to let me put anything in her hair. And still, it doesn't last long.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Cake Balls

Some of you may remember that last year, I made Bakerella's Santa Hat Cake Pops for one of my kids' Christmas parties. They were so yummy, so when it came time for our Christmas party at church last weekend, I decided to make cake balls. Same concept, with no stick, and no trying to make cones out of cake. The balls are much easier.

You can check out Bakerella's post on making cake balls here. Or you can get her cookbook, Cake Pops.

Anyway, I used her basic cake ball recipe, with red velvet cake, and covered them with red candy coating, drizzled some green on top, and added sprinkles! Come on. Who doesn't love sprinkles? If you want them to be even more Christmassy and super awesome, add a couple drops of peppermint oil flavoring (mine came in a pack with four different flavors in the baking aisle at Michael's) to that green candy. Yum!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Music

What's your favorite? There are several Christmas albums that we wore out growing up, so they evoke a certain amount of sentiment and nostalgia in me. Amy Grant's "Home for Christmas," "Home Alone Christmas Soundtrack," and Michael W. Smith's "Christmastime" are a few that spring to mind. I add a new Christmas album to my collection each year, so I have a great collection now. But my all-time favorite? The one I consistently wear out? The one I'm so thankful that my children actually enjoy?

It's this one. I love me some Charlie Brown. Love it. And my kids are totally in the next room, watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special for the third time request. Smart kids. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Homemade Gift - Chai Tea Mix

I love homemade gifts. Love them. If you do it right, they only take a little bit of time and can save yourself money and time at the mall. Here's a recipe for one I tried out just last week.

Chai Tea Mix

2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom (optional - which is good, because I couldn't find any)
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea (regular or decaf, doesn't matter)
1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar (I put closer to 2 cups)
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered nondairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla-flavored powdered nondairy creamer

Combine spices and tea in a food processor or blender. Blend 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture becomes a fine powder. Pour into a large bowl. Add sugar to food processor or blender (without cleaning it), and process until superfine, about 30 seconds. Add sugar to bowl of spices. Stir in milk powder and creamers; blend well. Spoon mix into gift jars.

To serve, stir 2 heaping tbsp. Chai Tea Mix into a mug of hot milk or boiling water. Yield: 5 1/2 cups mix.

Credit:  Christmas with Southern Living 2007

I jazzed my jars up a little bit by taping off a square and painting them with chalkboard paint. I then wrote with chalk what is in the jar. It turns the jar itself into part of the gift, because when the mix is gone, it can be erased and used for something else.

I now have a few jars of these on hand to give to neighbors, teachers, party hostesses, etc. And yes, I tried it out to be sure it actually tastes good. It's delicious! I think it's as good as any chai I've ever ordered from the coffee shop.

You know what else? You could even pair it with one of my fun mugs. Yes, I know I'm shameless. I have several ready to ship that I need to unload. If you want more than one, e-mail me. I'll work you a deal. :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BabyLegs Winner

Drumroll, please. And the winner of my Christmas BabyLegs giveaway is.....Katrina! Katrina said:  I would love to win these for my daughter...we love baby legs in this house.  I'm glad, because you will have three fun new pairs for her to sport this Christmas!

And now for a bit of a surprise. I participated in a craft fair last weekend where a second set of these was to be given as a door prize, and no one ever claimed them. So we drew a second name. The winner of the second set is....Christina!

Congratulations to my winners, and thank you to every one else for participating!

If you didn't win but still would like a pair of Christmas BabyLegs, please send me a message through the Neely Bug Boutique facebook page. I have all three patterns that were part of the set - Merry Berry, Nordic, and Jingle Bell Rock - available for $12 a pair.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A New Tradition

My kids - Aidan especially - have definitely gotten a case of the holiday crazies lately. He asks me every day if it's Christmas yet. They're a little more wound up than usual. They fight a little more. I kept threatening to bring home an elf, and I finally had to hold myself to it.

We named our elf Buddy. You know, like in the movie Elf. The kids love him. It's very exciting to come downstairs each morning and find where Buddy has camped out to watch us for the day. Aidan is even trying to outsmart Buddy a little bit. When we were driving to school this morning, he said, "Hey, Mom. Buddy can't see me in the car, you know." I had to remind him that I can tell Buddy when we get back home if he's been misbehaving. And holy cow, when I had to put Neely in time-out with Buddy watching, it was catastrophic. She has never gotten so upset about being put in time-out before. I think Buddy was a good investment. He's certainly a lot of fun.

If you don't have an elf for your shelf, you should get one!

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's true.

The third time really is a charm. I'm not sharing it here yet, but I finally got a decent photograph to use for our Christmas card this year. I thought I'd share a few more of the silly ones.

Before you get started, though, for anybody local, come support Neely Bug Boutique at Sun City Elementary's Shining Star Christmas Show tomorrow from 9am to 5pm. 

And if you haven't entered my BabyLegs giveaway, you have until Monday, December 6th at midnight CST. Check it out now!

Okay, here are my goofy kiddos...

 Not cooperating. And there are my feet. Awesome.
 Rolling off the bed.
 You can't see (or hear), but she's screaming.
 I don't want to sit by him!
 What are you laughin' at?
 I'm pretty sure I caught her mid-pinch. This little girl is aggressive!
And they're done.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baby Legs - A Giveaway

December made its presence known this morning with our first below-thirty temperatures of the season and frost! Brrr...Hey, it's really stinking cold for Louisiana. In the spirit of the Christmas season, I am having a giveaway! I love to give things away. I'd do it all the time if I could afford it. What's up for grabs? This BabyLegs Sparkle gift set. This set contains three pair of holiday-inspired leg warmers. These are one size fits most and can be used as leg warmers or arm warmers. They'd be great as a gift or for your own child.
And yes, I've tested out this one size fits most thing. I put on a pair of my two-year-old's leg warmers and they stretch to fit me! When I was done, they went right back to their original size and fit Neely perfectly. I don't know how BabyLegs does it, but it's amazing!

How do you enter? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me who you'd give these BabyLegs to. Want another chance to win? Visit Neely Bug Boutique on Facebook and become a fan. Return here and leave another comment letting me know that you did. For a third entry, link up to this giveaway on your Facebook wall and leave another comment.

The deadline to enter is Monday, December 6th at midnight, CST.

If you'd like to see some of the other BabyLegs patterns I'm carrying, please visit my BabyLegs Gallery on the Neely Bug Facebook page. You may e-mail me to place an order.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Thanksgiving Report

This is a little late in coming, but it's better late than never, right? We spent Thanksgiving in San Antonio this year, and this time, it didn't pour rain the entire weekend and nobody had to wear a pilgrim costume. Don't think I wouldn't be showing that picture if it weren't taken a zillion years ago and my scanner wasn't broken. Alas, it was before I was a digital convert. Anyway, here are my favorites from this year.
 Giving Daddy a butterfly kiss.
 Injecting the turkey.
 Me & Aidan
 Building a gingerbread house.
 Big cheese. It's too bad the camera focused on that chair behind them. Grr...
 Eating "nim nims."
The finished project.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Support a Small Biz

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, I'd like to encourage you all to support small businesses whenever possible this holiday season. I've put together an Etsy treasury with some of my favorite things I've stumbled upon while lost in Etsy-land. This photo isn't clickable. Please click here if you'd like to view it. Happy shopping everyone!
Oh, and if you'd like to support Neely Bug Boutique, you can visit my shop here. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yarn Wreath Tutorial

Even though Thanksgiving is still a few days ahead of us, we're already getting into the Christmas spirit around here. We'll be spending our holidays elsewhere this year and wanted to be able to enjoy our own decorations for a little while. Over the years, we've built up quite a collection. I only add/make one or two new things each year. This year, this wreath is it.

I've seen some nice yarn wreaths on Etsy, and they range in price anywhere from $20 to $100. If you'd rather buy than make one, there is sure to be something you like. I just searched "yarn wreath" and turned up 728 choices. If you want to save a little cash, you can make your own! 

All you need is a foam wreath form, yarn, scissors, hot glue, and whatever adornments you want to add. I thought it would be fun to use white yarn, as a change from the traditional green wreath. 

To get started, just put a little dollop of hot glue on the back side of the wreath form and secure the end of the yarn to it. To avoid burning my fingers, I actually laid the yarn across the glue, held it in place until it dried, and then trimmed the end of the yarn. Now, get to wrapping!

I wrapped about an inch worth of yarn (15-20 times around the form), and then I'd secure the yarn with glue again. You don't want the yarn to slide around and expose the wreath form.

Just keep wrapping...Just keep wrapping...

It took me about the length of Peter Pan to get this finished, so...a little over an hour? Does anyone else measure time in children's movies?

Now, it's time to decorate! I bought one of those silk poinsettia bunches. I think it had five or six flower on it. Just yank those bad boys off. It will leave a little pokey end about an inch long on the back of the flower. I just stuck that into my foam wreath and voila! Cute yarn wreath adorned with poinsettias that I don't have to worry about anyone eating and getting sick. You can decorate yours however you like. You could glue pine cones to it, ornaments, tie a bow around it...the sky's the limit!

And since it is still November and Thanksgiving is just days away, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Photos: Part Deux

My experience so far this year trying to take photos of my kids for our Christmas cards is making me exceedingly glad that I'm not paying someone to do it for me. It's fairly easy to get a good photo of Aidan. Neely is a horse of a different color. Within the last few weeks, she has decided to act like a full-fledged, demon-possessed two year old, complete with random hissy fits. Want to see one? 

Neely was fairly uncooperative all morning, but when we decided to race back across the bridge, she was all for it.
 Running is fun!
 Come on, Neely!
 I'm gonna win!
 I don't think I want to race anymore.
 No, I do not.
 I think I'll lie down.
Right here on the bridge, in my pretty Christmas dress. Arg!

I've got one idea left, and if it doesn't work out, I'm using that silly picture from our first attempt. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Funny Faces

Oh, the things you get when you're trying to take a Christmas card picture of your own children. This one doesn't make the cut, but it was too funny not to share.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Operation Christmas Child

It's not yet Thanksgiving, but it is time to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. National collection week is November 15-22. You can visit their website for details about packing boxes and drop-off locations.

This year, I used Operation Christmas Child as an opportunity to teach the kids - mainly Aidan - about giving to others. He and I took a trip to the dollar store and filled the cart with things to put in our shoeboxes. He did really well. He only asked for one thing for himself, which is a feat considering all we looked at were things for kids.
 We bought enough to fill four boxes - two for girls and two for boys. Equal opportunity shoeboxes here.
 Aidan really got into sorting things into the boxes.
 Neely preferred to play with everything.
 I made them take pictures with the finished boxes. Neely cheesed it up.
I told the kids that I plan on putting a picture of them in each box, to show the children who get them who their gifts came from. Aidan decided that he'd like to draw each of them a picture, too. He's a sweet one, that Aidan. Have you made your shoebox yet?