Sunday, December 7, 2014

DIY Holiday Lantern

Instead of doing the traditional mall mob Black Friday type of shopping, my family and I found ourselves enjoying a leisurely ladies day strolling through a locally-owned, family run craft store in Omaha called Mangelsen's. It's is as big or larger of our Hobby Lobby or Michael's in Des Moines, but a little bit different. Instead of just having craft supplies on shelves, they have wonderful displays and exampled of DIY projects and things to build with the supplies for sale. 

I wandered past an end of an aisle display and immediately fell in love with this lantern. 

 It was on sale for an After Thanksgiving special, only $9.99! (A steal from the retail price of $34.99). It came in silver and the antiqued looking black color.  I was drawn to the black one to match my rustic decor in my family room. I thought I'd put a candle in it and keep it up year round. After my mom and aunt both purchased a lantern too, we decided it be cute to fill them with holiday items. 

The next day I stopped by the dreaded Wal-Mart and restrained myself to only going into the holiday section. I picked up a few items that cost less than $15 total. 

Fake Snow : $3.98
Tiny Strand of attery Operated Lights : $3.98
Mini Snow Covered Tree : $0.98
Sprig of Greenery $0.98
Ribbon: $1.98
Mini Red Balls : $2.98

I filled the bottom with fake snow. Wrapped the lights around the tree and sat it in the middle.  Placed red ball ornaments around it. Tied a burlap bow and wired the bow and greenery to the top. 

Here's the finished product! The little tree is so cute because the lights flash and it looks like a full size decorated tree :) It's currently sitting on a table in my entryway/living room, but would also look adorable on the front porch, hanging on a shepherd's hook or to give as a gift! 

Shoot Em Santa Shotgun Shell Christmas Tree

My mom has been working hard on her new creation for this holiday season, the Shoot Em Santa Shotgun Shell Christmas Tree.  We went down to the federal public hunting ground near my parents house and collected a variety of different size empty shotgun shells. Not only were we picking up litter, we were collecting important craft supplies.  Mom put them to good use decorating an entire natural looking fake Christmas tree as a Shoot Em Up Santa Tree. She took a strand of Christmas lights she had sitting around and covered each bulb with a shotgun shell. She took red shotgun shells and painted little santa beards and faces on them. The remainder of the shotgun shells we covered in glitter. The finished tree looks adorable. Perfect for any hunter or gun lover in your life! More pictures of the DIY process to come!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Cookie Exchange

The ladies in my family and I always have an annual holiday baking day. We dedicate an entire day to gathering in one kitchen, usually around 10 of women, over 25 recipes and unlimited laughter and memories. Sometimes it gets hard to make all those different recipies in one kitchen at one time, so this year we decided to try something different. We had a cookie exchange and decorating day. We all brought already finished cookies and candies. Everyone had their specialties they make year and after year along with new ideas we wanted to try.

That day we just rolled and cut sugar cookie dough and had a decorating party. I think the snowflake cookies turned out elegant looking with the simple blue and white frosting.

We compiled these along with all the goodies everyone brought and had a Christmas treat buffet. Everyone brings their own containers, platters and boxes and go up and down the line to fill make goodie trays for coworkers, neighbors, etc. Even though we've all tried most of the goodies by the time the day is done, we of course make a tray to take home and enjoy too.

Keep watching the blog for an update on what we do for our annual baking day this holiday season! Start a tradition with your family, such an amazing day to enjoy the holiday with everyone for years to come!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Amana Colonies : Holiday Shopping

I've always loved little day trips around Iowa, especially when I get to enjoy them with family. Each year my mother, grandmother, aunt, cousins and I take a day trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas to do some holiday shopping. A great destination is the Amana Colonies, full of history and lots of sightseeing opportunities.

It's just a short walk up and down the street to hit all the quaint shops, woolen mill, delicious restaurants, meatshop & smokehouse, winery, and brewery.

The gift shops and antique shops are loaded up with adorable Christmas decor during the holiday season. So many great ornament finds!

Even though we usually had way too much to eat for Thanksgiving shortly before we go, we always stop for family style German Food at the Ronneburg Restaurant. This year I had Wiener Schnitzel and Chicken spaetzle.

 We love to stop in at Millsteam Brewing Co. I love local craft beer, this year I got a six pack of windmill wheat. Grandma always gets their cream soda :)

Sunset at the end of a beautiful day in the Amana Colonies.

A New Month, A New Routine

Around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always think back to what I was doing during the holidays last year. This time last year I was working my butt off at the gym a few days a week. The last few months I've been slacking. I am active outside quite a bit, but haven't renewed my gym membership in several months. I kept making excuses not to. Finally, since it was the first of the month, I decided it was the perfect time to start my new routine again. I marched myself into the gym and renewed my membership. My first workout back I had the gym totally to myself. It was so peacefule to be the only one there, to be back on my favorite elliptical and jamming out to my favorite workout station on Pandora. I only finished two miles, a few situps and some stretching, but I felt incredibly accomplished. I also felt fortunate that I'm physically healthy and capable of doing these things. Can't wait to get on a regular exercise routine again and start taking better care of my body for the rest of 2014 year and the future!

...It's the little things :)