Overstuffed: November 2015 Overstuffed

Monday, November 30, 2015

19 Helpful Gifts for the Busy Mom

I am a busy and often overwhelmed mom. With three kids in three different schools (high school, middle school, and elementary school), I often feel like all I ever do is manage their schedules and chauffeur them all over the place. Which doesn't leave much time for cleaning the house, cooking, or working.

I know I'm not the only mom in this predicament. I used to think it would get better as my children got older, but it's definitely proven to be the opposite, just as all the more experienced moms I knew promised it would. Sigh.Do you know a busy and overwhelmed mom? These gift ideas will help relieve her stress! #overstuffedlife


But! There are things that can help. And if you have a busy and overwhelmed mom in your life, this list is sure to give you a couple ideas for gifts. If YOU are the busy mom, send it on to your husband and kids and mark just what you want! (Affiliate links)

Busy moms not only want to look good, they want to FEEL good. 


One of the most life-changing things I have purchased in recent years is the Dressing Your Truth system. DYT has helped me to understand how what I wear and who I am are intricately linked. It has helped me to dress true to myself—to dress MY truth and not how the fashion magazines are telling me I should dress. It may be a bit of a splurge, but the benefits I have gained from this system are priceless (cheesy as that sounds).  Dressingyourtruth.com  $299.99.


Busy moms need to stay organized in a stylish way.


Mom on the Go Planner--a perfect gift for a busy mom.

Some busy moms will be perfectly organized digitally. I am not that mom, and neither are many of my busy mom friends. I desperately rely on my paper planner, and my favorite one to use is the uber cute Mom on the Go Planner. The set up is perfect for my own busy life and I am rarely found without it in my purse! It comes in several cute styles, so you can find the perfect one for you.  Intheleafytreetops.com $34.99.

Home Executive Planner--a perfect gift for the mom who does it all.

Another planner I have used and like is the Home Executive Planner. It's name tells the story—every busy mom is a home executive, and this planner gives you the tools to run your home well. You can purchase it at  Amazon for $15.71.

Some busy moms prefer a cute wall calendar to go along with their planner. These options are all really cute!

Personalized journal or planner: These can be personalized with your own photos. And like everything Minted does, the result is stunning.    Minted from $16.00.

You can also get a Personalized calendar that will be just as beautiful.  Minted from $29.00.

Anne Taintor Wall Calendar: These vintage housekeepers with their sarcastic remarks always make me smile. And boy, do I ever relate!   Calendars.com $14.99.

Moms Do It All Planners and Calendars: Lots of cute choices, and again, the name says it all! Give that poor mom a way to organize her do-it-all life.   Calendars.com $14.99.


Busy moms live half their lives in the car—they need things to make that easier.

A couple years ago, The Maestro bought me a Jabra Cruiser 2 Bluetooth speaker for the car. I know many modern cars are already equipped with bluetooth, but my decidedly un-modern 2002 Honda was not. This thing has made my life so much easier! I can talk to my mom or make important calls while I am driving the 20 minutes to piano lessons or while I wait for kids to finish up at sports practices. I have even used it to call the doctor while I drove to her office when it was obvious my daughter had broken a bone.  Amazon $76.99

My kids like to bring their whole entire lives with them when we are driving somewhere. This Backseat Organizer is nice because it at least corrals it all, even if it doesn't actually stay organized!   Amazon $17.97

My kids also tend to leave their trash all over the car. It's amazing how quickly a newly clean car can start looking like a landfill! I love this Car Garbage Can—it's super functional and looks good. I just have to remember to actually empty it.  Amazon $9.89

I would be lost without my Power Inverter Car Charger. I like this one because it has two USB slots and one for a normal AC/DC plug. I often work on my laptop while I am waiting, and it is nice to be able to charge it.   Amazon $18.99

Busy moms are already super productive, but tools to help make her productivity easier are always appreciated.

Help your busy mom be more productive with a wall calendar.

I had no idea how helpful putting up a Magnetic Whiteboard Calendar in my kitchen would be. But it has been amazing. The kids are actually taking more ownership of their schedules because they can see them on a daily basis.     Amazon $14.77

I know that fitbits are all the rage for making sure you get your steps in, but I prefer the Misfit Shine. I like it because it looks more stylish and because you can make it even more stylish by purchasing bracelet or necklace accessories for it. It syncs with my phone and I can see if I hit my activity and sleep goals every day.   Amazon $99.99

I love my BlendTec so much. I use it for smoothies and pie crust and grinding things and making soup and a ton of other stuff. It really cuts down time spent in the kitchen doing the mundane.  Amazon $299.00

I don't have this item (yet), but what busy mom wouldn't love a Wi-fi controlled crock pot? Doesn't that sound amazing? You can turn it on even when you are not home and have dinner waiting for you. Unfortunately it can't put the dinner in by itself, but it's still pretty darn cool.    Amazon $129.99

Most of all, the busy mom needs to just relax!

There is nothing better than being able to curl up in a warm blanket, sip my favorite tea, and read at the end of a long and crazy day. Below are some things all moms will appreciate—and maybe you can give her a foot massage while she's reading, too.

Calming Aromatherapy Candle    Amazon $12.50

Sage Tonic Relax Tea   Amazon $14.00

A Fuzzy Blanket      Amazon $24.99

Kindle Fire   Amazon $49.99

Whatever you get her, just remember that every busy mom really just wants a little help and a whole lot of love.




4 Ideas for Candy-Free Advent Calendars

Last year, I splurged at Pottery Barn and bought an amazing advent calendar. I'd actually gone 14 years of motherhood without ever owning one! Sometimes we bought the little cardboard advent calendars with the chocolates, but usually we never bothered with it.

Until I just had to have this giant Christmas tree advent calendar! It's so much bigger than I thought it would be—I thought I could hang it on a door, but it's much larger than all of our doors! I love it anyway, though. (Want one? Buy it HERE.)

Stop the bickering over the chocolate and start helping your kids learn service with the advent calendar. #overstuffedlife

Last year, I just stuck some chocolates in each pocket, and the girls took turns getting it out every morning. But I didn't want to do that this year for several reasons.

1. They get enough candy and sweets during this holiday, I don't really want to add to that.

2. They bickered over whose turn it was to take the chocolate every single day. That is not what Christmas time should be about.

3. Nothing about the activity really supported my main priorities for Christmas—I really want all the activities we do to point us to the celebration of Jesus' birth.

I've thought about it, and I came up with the idea for a Kindness Advent Calendar.


Print out these cute advent cards to put into your advent calendar. Each day has a way to be kind or serve someone on it. Great way to keep the Christmas spirit! #overstuffedlife

Instead of candy, I am putting these little service activities in each pocket of our advent calendar. They are mostly simple activities that all the girls can do that day with the idea that they will give a gift to Jesus by being a little kinder. A handful of the activities will require a little more effort on your part as a parent, such as candy cane bombing a parking lot (leaving a candy cane on every car's windshield), baking cookies for your neighbors, or leaving a popcorn packet on a DVD rental machine.

Free printable Kindness Advent cards.

I made the cards fairly small (1.5 inches x 3 inches) so they should fit into most advent calendars.

To download:

Enter your email into the form below and the cards will be emailed to you. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.



25 Days of Kindness printable cards for your advent calendar.

If the service ideas aren't exactly what you're looking for, here are three other ideas for candy-free advent activities.



Names of Christ Advent Devotional


Names of Christ Devotional


If you would like to focus on Jesus Christ and his names Heidi of A Lively Hope has a beautiful advent for you. Each day focuses on one of the names and roles of Christ and includes a paper ornament for your kids to color. This will keep their hands busy as they listen to the devotional. Totally genius idea for younger kids, if you ask me! You can then hang the ornaments on your tree or on your advent calendar to help with the Christmas countdown.

To find Heidi's beautiful advent devotionals, click here: Names of Christ Advent.

Christmas Book Advent


I don't really consider it an advent activity, but I could easily put the name of a Christmas book into each pocket of the advent calendar and that would work beautifully. I've seen other people wrap each book in Christmas paper and number the gifts so the kids can open one each night to read. No matter how you do it, though, it's a wonderful activity that accomplishes all my Christmas priorities—namely spending time together and remembering the birth of Christ.

24 Christmas books to read with your family

I just keep mine in a basket by the fireplace. If you would like to see the list of books we have for this tradition at our house, click here: 24 Christmas Books or 11 More Christmas Books.

25 Days of Christmas Spirit and Fun


Kendra of The Things I Love Most has a great idea with her advent. She incorporated a spiritual activity and a fun activity for each day—plus a random act of kindness every single day, too.

25 Days of Christmas Spirit and Fun


She has everything in printable form so you can print them off and pop them into your own advent calendar. I love the ideas she has—everything seems fun, even the spiritual stuff! I think all of them definitely adhere to my Christmas priorities, too.

If you'd like to download her printables, click here: 25 Days of Christmas Spirit and Fun

There's no need to stick candy in your advent calendars with all of these great ideas! Not only will my kids not start their day with another piece of chocolate, hopefully the bickering about whose turn it is to open the calendar will subside completely. I am really getting excited for December 1st to roll around (I don't have to wait long!) so we can get started with our kindness advent this year.

Don't want to put candy in your advent calendar? Try these four great ideas to count down to Christmas instead! #overstuffedlife

Sunday, November 29, 2015

4 Ways to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays

Several years ago I found myself standing in a very long line at the Post Office on December 19. That year had been insane as far as the holidays went and I was not enjoying myself. Instead, I was completely stressed out and overwhelmed and just trying to keep my head above water to make the time happy for the kids. As I stood in that line, trying to balance the pile of packages I hoped would arrive to family members before Christmas Day, I vowed that I would never again let the holidays become so crazy that we couldn't even enjoy them.

Don't let your long list of things to do steal your joy this Christmas season. Use these ideas to help you simplify and focus on what really matters. #overstuffedlife

While I certainly haven't been perfect—we've definitely had our crazy holiday moments since then—I will say that I have been much better. The first step to simplifying the holidays is to recognize that things have gotten a little too overstuffed and reevaluate your priorities.

What is the most important thing about Christmas for you and your family? 


For me, it's that my family is together, that we're happy, and that we are focusing on the birth of Christ and all that entails. Hopefully everything we choose to do during this season will accomplish those three things. If something detracts from those goals, it's now much easier for me to cut it out of our schedule without feeling too bad.

The following four ideas have helped me greatly to focus on what my Christmas priorities are:


1. Schedule downtime

Do not give in to the idea that you must be super busy and running around everywhere during the holidays. You may have a long list of things to accomplish, but make sure that downtime is on that list.

During that downtime you can do things like:

— Listen to uplifting Christmas music (for suggestions, click here: Our Favorite Christmas Albums).

— Watch a favorite Christmas movie.

— Read a Christmas book, either by yourself or with your family (for suggestions click here: 24 Christmas Books or here: 11 More Christmas Books or here: Even More Christmas Books).

— Sleep! Renewing your energy will help you get more done later.

How are you focusing on what really matters this Christmas?

I'm sure you can think of plenty of other relaxing activities that will help you keep the spirit of the season with you. Don't let a long list of activities deter you from resting, filling your own vessel, and keeping your joy.

2. Stop doing it all

I am a huge fan of holiday traditions. I love every tradition we have ever established. But sometimes, it is overwhelming to try to do all of them, even if they do support my priorities for the season.

If your list is getting too long, try asking each family member what their favorite tradition is. Make those things a priority, and fit in the rest if you can. Let the lesser traditions go if necessary.

This year, I asked my family that very question and the answers I got will help me to make the best decisions this month.

The Maestro's favorite tradition is watching Elf on December 22, A Christmas Carol on Christmas Adam (December 23), and listening to Amahl and the Night Visitors on Christmas Eve. He said those three things cannot be separated for him, so I guess we won't separate them! The great thing is that each of them is an activity that we do together and makes us each happy, as well as helping us remember Christ.

How are you focusing on what really matters this Christmas?

Bria's favorite tradition is baking Christmas cookies together and giving them to the neighbors.

Chloe's favorite tradition is listening to Amahl and the Night Visitors on Christmas Eve. Amahl is an opera about a young, crippled shepherd boy and his meeting with the three wise men on their way to visit the Christ child. Just before bed on Christmas Eve, we turn off all of the lights and listen to the entire opera (about 55 minutes) by the light of the Christmas tree.

Sophia's favorite tradition is going sledding.

As for me? It's probably Amahl, which is obviously a beloved tradition in our house. Luckily, it requires almost no planning or effort! So I'll pick my second favorite tradition, which is reading Christmas books together as often as we can during the month of December. It brings such a sweet spirit into our home, and while it isn't always feasible to do it every single night, I love the nights we are able to cuddle up together and read inspiring stories of Christmas magic.




3. Plan ahead

By planning ahead—and I mean WAY ahead, like September ahead—you will free up a lot of time during December for enjoying the season instead of running around like a crazy person.

Things I try to plan ahead:

— Christmas cards. I try to have the photo picked out before school starts and have them ordered before Thanksgiving. For more information on how I deal with Christmas cards (which can cause a TON of stress during the holidays), click here: A Stress-free Guide to Sending Christmas Cards.

— Stocking stuffers. It's easy to pick up little things here and there while shopping. Before I know it, I have a nice assortment for stockings and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.

—The big gift. For the past few years, that has been a trip of some sort instead of an actual gift. Either way, though, it's nice to have decided what it will be before December rolls around. This way, you know which sales to watch for and you are less swayed by other things just because they are a good deal.

—Food. Whether it's what we will bake for our holiday neighbor gifts, or what we will make for our own traditional meals, I try to think way ahead on that and have all the ingredients on hand before December 1.

—Christmas dresses. I always buy my girls new Christmas dresses to wear to church at Christmas. I used to always get them in October with coupons I would get for Bria's birthday, but now that she is a teenager that's a bit more difficult. This year I have Bria's and Sophia's dresses already, but haven't found a good one for Chloe yet. Because I wasn't planning ahead enough with this—it's been harder now that I try to match them without matching exactly.

How are you focusing on what really matters this Christmas?


There are plenty of other things you can plan ahead, depending on your own traditions and schedule. It's good to make some goals for the holidays sometime in September and do a one or two things each week so that you are totally prepared. I include Halloween and Thanksgiving in this planning, too. It's a busy time of year!

4. Simplify your gift giving

I used to go completely over the top and over budget every year for Christmas. This was no good for several reasons, but the main one was that I was spending too much time dealing with gifts and not enough time with my family creating memories.

Nowadays, I have my children fill out their wish lists in four categories: Something I want, Something I need, Something to wear, and Something to read.


Simplify your Christmas list into four categories: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

To get a printable download of the list, click here: Christmas List Printable

Not only does this help me and The Maestro to focus on what's important during Christmas time (not to mention save some money!), it helps the girls to also focus on what's important. They know they will only have four gifts under the tree from us. Actually, three. The "something I want" is usually from Santa Claus, though I have also downplayed Santa a LOT in the past few years.

Other ways to simplify gift giving:

— Have your family members keep a Pinterest board or an Amazon wish list throughout the year so you can get great ideas early.

— Buy up an assortment of things like lotions or candles during the year so that you have gifts on hands for friends and acquaintances.

Consider gifting experiences instead of things. We are doing this more and more and I LOVE it.

How are you focusing on what really matters this Christmas?


Now that December 1 is creeping up on me quickly, I am ready. I'm ready to relax, to enjoy my family, and to focus on the things that matter most and why we really celebrate this season. My list is still long, as it always is, but I am kinder to myself about getting it all done.

Don't be overwhelmed this holiday season! Simplify.

What's your best trick for simplifying the holidays?

PS The Nativity photos throughout this post were all taken back in 2008 when I was featuring some of our Christmas traditions. Read those posts here, here, and here.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

35 Perfect Gifts for a Teen Girl

I asked my 15-year old daughter, Bria, to make a gift guide again this year. Her gift guide from last year was a big hit, and she is so detailed and conscious of what's cool right now that I knew you would love another Bria researched gift guide for teenage girls. 


Looking for the perfect gift for the teenage girl in your life? You're sure to find something she will love on this list, written by a teen girl! #overstuffedlife

She came up with an absolutely amazing list of things that a typical teenage girl will absolutely love. It includes all the basics: Make-up, hair, skincare, jewelry, electronics, and more. I have NO idea what I will be getting her for Christmas this year since I obviously can't purchase all of it! Plus, some of it I want for myself now. I guess the teenage girl in me has never quite grown up!

With no further ado, here is Bria's ultimate gift guide for teen girls (affiliate links):

Make-up and Hair Gifts for the Teen Girl:


Make-up and hair care gifts for the teenage girl. #overstuffedlife

1. Make-up Eraser:  This is a nice alternative to make-up wipes or messy make-up removers. It's chemical free and has a make-up removing side and an exfoliating side. Good for 1000 washes. Amazon $24.00

2. Beauty Blender Pro Cleanser Kit: Comes with a sponge applicator to help blend make-up flawlessly. Includes a cleanserkit to keep the sponge clean, which can also be used to clean any make-up brushes and applicators. Amazon $24.50

3. Acrylic Make-up and Jewelry Organizer: Bria likes the fact that it is clear and she can see everything in it. Also, it's just plain a great way to organize your make-up without having it be scattered everywhere, the way hers is now (hint, hint). Amazon $20.23

4. Kabuki Make-up Brush Set:  Includes every necessary brush you need to complete your "every day make-up look."  Amazon $12.99

5. Naked 3 Palette: Beautiful neutral colors and high-quality make-up. Your teenager can imitate nearly all of the YouTube make-up tutorials with this palette.  Amazon $76.99*

*If you aren't up for spending quite so much on a make-up palette, try the Nake brand knock-off. It's only $15.99 at Amazon.

6. Mascara: Bria's two favorites are Maybelline Falsies (Amazon $6.64) and Maybelline Pumped Up (Amazon $5.12)

7. Not Your Mother's Hair Products: Bria particularly loves the Texturizing Beach Spray (Amazon $8.19) and the Dry Shampoo (Amazon $8.28).

8. Hot Tools Jumbo 1 inch Curling Iron: It's a simple curling iron, but Bria uses it all. the. time. It has become her favorite go to. We found it because they use it at the salon where she gets her hair cut. Amazon $32.98

9. Redken Iron Shape Heat Protectant: Excellent for all the curling and straightening and blow drying the teenage girls do! (And their moms, too!) Ulta $17.00

10. Panasonic Close Curves Wet/Dry Shaver: Pretty cool to be able to use an electric shaver in the shower. You can also use it dry, of course. Amazon $29.19

Other ideas: 


Clarisonic Cleansing System: Amazon $99.00

Clean & Clear Day/Night Pack: Amazon $10.26

CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion: Amazon $13.00



Electronic Gifts for the Teen Girl:


Electronics gifts that teen girls will love! #overstuffedlife

1. Mophie Battery Case for iPhone: When you charge your phone, the Mophie case charges too, giving you double the battery life. Sounds pretty awesome for a text-crazy teenager! Amazon $21.10

2. Mophie PowerStation: I fully admit that I don't understand how this works, but Bria says it is an awesome portable charger. And you can charge any device from it. Amazon $34.00

3. Camera lens clip for phone: This is pretty dang cool for someone who is interested in photography. It comes with a wide-angle, fish-eye, macro, and CPL lens. Amazon $13.99

4. Garmin Running Watch: Bria is a cross-country runner and we purchased this watch for her birthday a couple months ago. She has loved it, which is why she put it on this list. Amazon $94.99

5. A good pair of headphones: She put two pair on the list this year. Beats Solo2 (Amazon $129.99) and Frends Taylor Headphones (Amazon $229.99). I can't imagine spending so much on headphones, but apparently they are really good.

6. Crosley Portable Turntable: Bria found this at Urban Outfitters originally, but they are available on Amazon for a better price. This is a perfect gift for a teenager who loves vintage music and enjoys picking up vinyl from the thrift store. It comes in a variety of colors, too. I sort of want one, actually! Amazon $69.99

7. GoPro Hero: The Go Pro is an excellent gift for active, outdoorsy teens. They can film their adventures from a personal view! Amazon $129.99

8. Marble iPhone Case: Bria is totally into phone cases and having a wide assortment of them. Her current fave is this marble looking case because of how artsy it looks. Amazon $8,98

9. Selfie Stick: You knew it would be on the list, right? Good news, my middle daughter, Chloe, bought herself one and it is actually a pretty fun gift. She has enjoyed experimenting with it, and has not been annoying (so far)! Even I have to admit it has come in pretty handy for group selfies.  Amazon $11.97

10. Just Dance 2016: My girls adore playing Just Dance, and it is always fun to have new songs and dances available. It's such a great way for them to get exercise and have fun at the same time. Amazon $29.99 (Wii price, other systems may vary)

11. FitBit Charge: A fun way to stay active, check steps, and have contests with friends. Amazon $119.00

12. Giant Diamond Speaker: This adorable speaker is a super fun way to listen to music. It's pink and shaped like a diamond, which is perfect for the teen girl. Amazon $40.00

Miscellaneous Gifts for the Teen Girl:


Fun gifts for the teenage girl. #overstuffedlife

1. There's a Map for That Necklace: A cool, contemporary piece that the geography loving girl will especially love.  ModCloth $11.99

2. Lokai Bracelet: These are all the rage right now amongst teen girls. The bracelet includes one bead filled with water from the highest point in the world (Mt. Everest), reminding you to stay humble. Another bead is filled with mud from the lowest point in the world (The Dead Sea), reminding you to stay hopeful.  Amazon $23.00

3. Kate Spade Sticky Note Set: Super cute and stylish way to help your teenage daughter stay organized. Amazon $16.00

4. Secret Decoder Ring: This is a fun and stylish ring that really works! Write your daughter a note in secret code to go with it, or she can have fun with friends writing all their secrets out in code.  Amazon $17.99

5. The Darkest Part of the Forest: Bria really likes this book. It's from her favorite genre of fantasy, but any book you know your daughter will love will make a wonderful gift. Amazon $10.63

6. Shakespearean Insult Bandages: If your daughter enjoys Shakespeare, she'll love these bandaids! Bria got quite a kick out of them. Amazon $6.54

7. Donut Pool Float: Even though it's the dead of winter and you could maybe use it for a sled, it will be something fun to have at the beach or pool come summer. Amazon $19.99

8. Burt's Bees Lip Balm (4-pk): There isn't a teenage girl alive who doesn't love lip balm. This package comes with some great flavors like mango and coconut pear. Amazon $9.99

9. Bubi Silicone Water Bottle: This water bottle is stylish and functional. Amazon $20.00

10. Thread Wallet: These wallets are really, really small and thin, yet they hold your money and cards really nicely with an elastic material. You can attach it to a backpack or a water bottle and dispense with the purse. Amazon $16.00*

*Only two styles are available on Amazon, for more variety you can go to the Thread Wallets website directly.

11. Realtree Perfume: Bria recently found this scent and really loves it. Even if it's not this specific scent, perfume is always a good gift for a teenage girl!  Amazon $26.99


Finally, because every girl has her own unique style, here are some of Bria's very favorite clothing stores for teenage girls. She says a gift card is always best!

ModCloth
Tentree.com (They plant 10 trees for every item of clothing you buy there, Bria—a member of the environmental club at school—LOVES that idea.)
Urban Outfitters
Forever 21
H&M
Tilly's




Friday, November 27, 2015

Easy Solution for Displaying a Holiday Photo Blanket {without putting holes in your wall}

Have a decorative blanket or quilt you only want to display seasonally? Here's a super easy tutorial for a temporary wall display. #overstuffedlife


I've been wanting to try out a photo blanket ever since I saw them at the Walmart photo center. I finally got one recently, and it turned out absolutely gorgeous! It was so gorgeous, that I wanted to find a way to somehow display it, but since I used holiday photos, I knew it needed to be a temporary display that was just for the holidays.

First, let me show you just how beautiful this blanket is! You can go with fleece, plush fleece, or the woven throws. I'm a sucker for the woven throws, so that is what I chose. I chose the 60x80 size because I wanted it to be a warm blanket we would actually use as a way to keep warm while watching Christmas movies together.

Even though I knew I wanted to also display it while it wasn't being used for giving warmth, I didn't think about just how large that size was—it takes up my entire couch! Still, it's big and beautiful and I love it, even though I don't have a blank wall in the whole house that is big enough to show the whole thing!

It was super easy to upload my favorite Christmas photos and design the blanket. The Walmart online photo center makes it very user-friendly and quick, and the blanket was delivered to my house within the week.

I knew I wanted to do a curtain rod display on the wall, but I did not want to be drilling holes in my wall or have a permanent curtain rod there. I ruminated on that a bit, and I came up with a really simple solution using the velcro Command strips for picture hanging.


Supplies needed:
(affiliate links)

A curtain rod
4 velcro Command strips
Wide burlap ribbon (I used 2.5 inches wide)
Hot glue
Sewing machine

You will need to do a little bit of sewing, but I promise it's super easy.

Directions:

1. Cut two pieces of burlap ribbon approximately 12 inches long each. Fold in half, and sew a line about one inch from the fold. I left the threads hanging on the above image so that you can see what that should look like.

2.  Take the adhesive strip off of a velcro Command strip and sew it above the loop you just created. I just sewed one line straight down the middle of the strip.


3. Trim all your threads.

4. Attach the other velcro strip to both of your burlap hangers, and attach them to the wall where you want to hang your curtain rod. Make sure you have measured how wide the rod needs to be, and hang the burlap strips a little bit narrower than that.


5. Feed your curtain rod through the loops, and hang your blanket. To be sure you don't need to adjust widths—you will probably need two people to get the blanket on easily, I learned that the hard way! (You can always adjust the widths by taking the velcro strip off the wall and using a new one! It's the beauty of the Command strip.)

6. Finally, make some ribbons out of your burlap ribbon and hot glue them to the outside of the ribbon that is attached to the wall.


Voila! Now I can enjoy this beautiful blanket all the time, and not just when we're all cuddled under it!

I wasn't sure at first how strong the velcro would be, but I wasn't too worried since I've taken to using those strips to hang all my big picture frames, too. It has held wonderfully!

Want to make your own beautiful photo blanket? Go check out the options at the Walmart Photo Center here: Photo Blankets at Walmart.



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gluten-Free Eggnog Mini Muffins


This post is sponsored by International Delight, but all opinions are my own.

I love the holiday season! Beginning at Halloween and lasting all the way through the new year, this time of year is my very favorite. I love all of the family traditions we have established and always look forward to creating new ones. I love the time spent with family and friends. I love the extra dash of happiness and goodwill that seems be in the air wherever you go.

Eggnog Muffin recipe. Such a great way to bring some Christmas cheer to your breakfast this holiday season! #overstuffedlife

And I love the flavors.

That's right. The flavors—not necessarily the food. I look forward to a handful of flavors that seem to just inspire holiday cheer: peppermint, pumpkin, gingerbread, cranberry, and eggnog. Add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to the mix, and I am one happy girl.

Adding a dash of nutmeg to your eggnog is an easy way to dress it up.

That's why I was so excited to try out International Delight's Holiday Nog. We always break out the eggnog right around Thanksgiving and especially love to drink it while we decorate the house for Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving. They offer both original nog and "very vanilla" nog—which is my favorite. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg on top and a little bit of Frank Sinatra's Christmas songs and you are instantly full of Christmas cheer.

Because eggnog is such a big part of our day after Thanksgiving traditions, I thought it would be fun to try a muffin recipe featuring the nog. The plan is to eat them for breakfast before we bring out the bins of holiday decorations. Instant Christmas cheer in (gluten-free) muffin form!

Gluten-free Eggnog Mini Muffins. So good!

Gluten-free Eggnog Mini Muffins Recipe

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (if you are not gluten-free, regular all purpose flour will be fine)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp rum extract
1 1/4 cups International Delight Very Vanilla Nog
sugar
cinnamon
nutmeg

Make this eggnog mini muffin recipe using International Delight very vanilla nog.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line mini muffin tins with mini muffin liners. Use a cooking spray to grease the liners. Or, simply grease the pan itself and do not use muffin liners.

2. Cream butter and sugar together. Beat eggs into the creamed butter and sugar.

3. Add baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and rum extract. Mix well.

4. Alternately stir flour and eggnog into the mixture. Begin and end with the flour, and make sure all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

5. Spoon batter into mini muffin cups.

6. Mix sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together and sprinkle a bit on the top of each muffin.

7. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 425 degrees. (If you are making regular sized muffins cook for approximately 18 minutes.)

8. Enjoy!

These gluten-free mini muffins highlight the holiday flavors of eggnog, nutmeg, and a bit of rum to bring you instant Christmas cheer! #overstuffedlife

Visit International Delight's website and tell them how they help you capture the spirit of the holiday season for a chance to win a holiday brunch for your family and friends!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Turkey Treat Bags {easy craft for kids}

It's always nice to have a simple Thanksgiving craft for the kids to do while they are waiting for Thanksgiving dinner to begin. This adorable little Thanksgiving turkey treat bag is super easy for even the littlest kids to make. Plus, if you let them fill it up with an assortment of their favorite little candies, it will give them something fun to look forward to later!

Make these adorable turkey "gobble" bags with your kids this Thanksgiving. It's the perfect craft idea for keeping kids busy while waiting for their pie! #overstuffedlife

Set up a craft table for the kids while the adults are busy in the kitchen, and let them have at it. Since there is some cutting involved, it's good to have an older child or an adult who isn't carving the turkey help to supervise. But, like I mentioned before, it's super easy and preschoolers will be able to do it just fine!

I've also provided a printable template for you below to make the process even easier.

Free printable turkey template for fun turkey treat bag--easy craft for kids!


Supplies needed (affiliate links):


Mini paper bags
Scissors—make sure the little ones are using safety scissors!
Googly eyes—I like the peel & stick kind.
Washable glue sticks
Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
Stapler/staples
Colored paper (or you can use plain white paper and have the kids color the feathers and turkey heads)
Your favorite candy!
Or, if you would rather not sugar the children up on Thanksgiving Day when there is already the promise of pie, you can always fill the bags with other small party favors.

Directions:

So easy, they're almost not needed.

1. Print out the turkey template. You'll need approximately 5 sheets of feathers for every sheet of heads you print out.

To download the templates:


Enter your email address into the form below and the template will be sent straight to your email inbox. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.



2. Have the kids cut out and color the heads and feathers however they'd like. Add googly eyes to the turkey heads as well.

3. Fill the bags with candy or other fun things for the kids.

4. Fold the bags over and staple shut.

5. Glue 7 feathers (or how ever many you like!) on the back of the paper bag.

6. Glue the turkey heads on the front of the bag.

7. Enjoy!

Free printable turkey template for fun turkey treat bag--easy craft for kids!

Are you hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year? Read my tips and tricks for having an easy going Thanksgiving feast at your home here:  How to Host a Stress-free Thanksgiving Dinner.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Make a Thankful Jar for Thanksgiving {free printable}

Normally by this time in November I would have put up our Thanksgiving tree. I like to have it up all of November so we can focus on our gratitude all month. But here it is 10 days before Thanksgiving Day and I barely managed to get the Halloween decorations down just a few days ago. I just haven't managed to go dig up the hedge clippers and trudge outside to get some branches for the tree, so it hasn't gone up yet.

Make a cute Thankful Jar and have your family write down their gratitudes on paper strips to put into the jar. Free printable gratitude strips. Jar project is quick and easy to make. #overstuffedlife
So, tonight I decided to do something different—and a whole lot easier! A thankful jar. I plan to keep it on the coffee table with blank strips for the kids to write their gratitudes every day until Thanksgiving. Then we will read them around the Thanksgiving table as we usually do with the tree.

Supplies needed to make a Thankful Jar with a Yorkshire Mason Jar.

Supplies needed:

(affiliate links)
A "yorkshire" mason jar (I used one I found in the Target dollar spot, but these are similar).
Chalkboard Paint
Baker's twine
Jute
Paintbrush
Chalk (I do love the chalkboard markers)
White cardstock

You could also use a plain mason jar and use one of these chalkboard labels instead. And ribbon would work just fine in the place of the twine and jute.

Directions:

(This is so easy and fast! The only time that it really took was waiting for the paint to dry, and I just used a blow dryer to hurry that along!)

Use the paintbrush to paint inside of the grooved out label shape with chalkboard paint. Once the paint is dry, use your chalk or chalkboard marker (I used actual chalk this time—and managed to accidentally erase it twice!) to write on the label. I wrote "give thanks" but you could choose one of many Thanksgiving sentiments.

Finish up by tying some jute and twine around the mouth of the jar.

Give thanks this Thanksgiving with an easy Thankful Jar craft! #overstuffedlife

That's it! The jar itself is finished.

For the gratitude strips, I whipped up a printable for you to download.
Thankful Jar free printable gratitude strips.
Print out as many copies as you need onto white cardstock. There are 10 strips per sheet.

To download the gratitude strips:


Enter your email into the form below. The printable will be sent directly to your email inbox. If you are on a mobile device, click here to see the form.




Thankful Jar free printable gratitude strips.

Cut your strips. I like to use a paper trimmer to get nice straight lines on my strips, but scissors will do just as well!

And that's it! Seriously, this project takes only 10 minutes, not counting the paint drying time. The jar and extra strips are now living on the coffee table where I hope my children will take the time to write down the things they are grateful for each day. Chloe already got it started and I can't wait to read them around the table on Thanksgiving Day!

Use this free printable to help you create a fun Thankful Jar for your family. Be more mindful of gratitude this Thanksgiving. #overstuffedlife