Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Festival of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

I'm in charge of a group of people from my church who are taking part in a city-wide Interfaith Festival of Gratitude taking place tonight at a well-known theatre space in my town.  There is a pastor who organizes the entire night - he works with area religious groups to put together a free festival.  The program consists of many different types of worship - from simply explaining tenants of faith, to prayer, to sermons, to leading a group meditation in thankfulness, to chanting, to singing and playing instruments... this will be my third year in charge of my church's contribution and my fourth year taking part.  
I remember the first time I went, my mom basically had to drag me because the ward choir was in need of more voices, but this interfaith thing sounded boring and, quite frankly, was the last thing I wanted to do with my holiday.

I was so wrong.  I've never felt so filled with interest and excitement for religion in general.  I remember thinking what a wonderful country we live in that allows us to practice our religious freedoms without fear.  And how much I truly take that for granted.  It was truly eye-opening to hear from so many different groups with so many different backgrounds and experience just a tiny bit of what they believe and how they worship.  I loved feeling connected to everyone in thankfulness - for no matter how different we seemed in our doctrine and principles, we were there for one reason.

To show gratitude to power beyond ourselves.  Gratitude for our blessings, our freedoms, our lives, our families.  Gratitude for BEING.  For song and dance and happiness.  I'm especially grateful for the opportunity I have to share these feelings with everyone who attends, so I can focus on them.  My littles are joining us for the first time tonight, and I love to hear them sing.

It makes me wonder why I don't host my own "festival of gratitude" more often.  Why does it take this pastor and this specific experience on this one night for me to keep my thankfulness in the forefront?  While I'm usually good at recognizing my very blessed life, why don't I focus on celebrating it more often?

Here are some free printables I made up for last minute decor.  Do you need last minute decor, like I do?  There has to be someone out there who procrastinates almost as badly...

In other news, it is almost that time of year when I annually drop off the blogging face of the planet in an attempt to finish (i.e. START) all the homemade presents on my list.  I'm hoping that doesn't happen completely, but if it does, you'll know where I am.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's Soda-Lightful!

Ready for another installment of cheap and easy hostess type gifts??

This one might be my favorite idea of the bunch.  Along with being cheap and easy, it requires such little time you'll feel almost guilty giving it for a present.
I'm under the impression that it's customary to bring some sort of wine for the hostess of a party - particularly a dinner party.  However, we (hubby and I) don't drink alcohol.  And neither does anyone in my family.  And I can't believe we're the only people in the world this applies to.  So, I have a twist on the old wine standby.

So, let's get started!

Obviously, the amount of fancy soda you include in each box depends on the size of the box you get.  I had two different sizes I was using, and I think I prefer the look of the smaller box overall, though both are cute.

First, take the labels off your soda. 
Print out your soda labels and your gift tag.
Put some double sided tape on the back of the soda label.
Stick it around the soda bottle and stick the ends with washi tape in coordinating colors for cuteness and added security.

Do this with all your soda bottles.  Is it weird that I chose soda for their colors and not their flavors?  I really wanted everything to be green, red and turquoise.  I made the labels in picmonkey, where else?  If you choose the same flavors as me, I have free printable labels for you!  

Now, take paper straws - one for each bottle - and tie them together with twine.
Put your soda bottles in the box and stick the straws down in the center.

Use the decorative clothespin to clip on your gift tag.
And there you have it!

Here's the larger red box all ready.

The Deets:
Polka dot box - Target; $1
Red box - Dollar store; $1
Bakers twine - Walmart; $1 for a small package
Scissors - on hand
Sparkle mini clothespins - Target; $1
Double-Sided tape - Walmart; $1.92
Washi Tape - Joanne's, Walmart, Target; .99 for one, about $3 for two pack
Paper straws - Target; $1 per pack
Fancy Soda - $3.99 per 4 pack
Labels and gift tag - FREE!  Right here in this post!  Just right click and download!

Total: About $12 for two boxes, with lots of materials left over for other projects or more boxes!

About 5 or 6 minutes for one box.  Seriously.

So.  Cheap.  Easy.  Super minimal time effort.  And ADORABLE!
Here are your free labels.

And just in case you're not using this for a hostess gift, but rather just for a gift gift, I made another gift tag for you as well.  One for hostess intentions, one for normal gift purposes - Thanksgiving or Christmas, it doesn't matter!  They're perfect for the entire holiday season right now!

Sure to be a hit!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Monday, November 25, 2013

FOOD inspiration. Yum.

It's that time.  FOOD day is coming!  Do you have your menu nailed down yet?  I know, most of us are traditionalists with our Thanksgiving food, right?  You generally eat turkey.  With stuffing. And mashed potatoes and gravy.  But just in case you want to mix things up with the sides, or get a little crazy with the desserts, or just want some inspiration to freshen things up a little at Thanksgiving this year - here are some ideas!

1. All American Turkey Pot Pie - Taste of Home

2. Sweet Taters in Orange Cups - Cut Out and Keep
3. Crockpot Apple Sauce - Thrifty Decor Chick
4. Turkey Apples and Dip - Catholic Cuisine
5. Funeral Potatoes - Li'l Luna
6. Turkey Veggie Platter - Catholic Cuisine

1. Acorn Cookies - It's Written on the Wall
2. Caramel Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies - Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice
3. Spiced Pumpkin Mousse Trifle - Rachel Ray
4. Turkey Treats - Clean and Scentsible
5. No Bake Peanut Butter Bite Pumpkins - Not Quite Susie Homemaker
6. Pumpkin Poppers - Little Bits

1. Thanksgiving Eggs Benedict - Closet Cooking
2. Thanksgiving Sandwich - Closet Cooking
3. Leftover Turkey and Stuffing Casserole - Cupcakes and Crinoline
4. Thanksgiving Pockets - Patio Daddio BBQ
5. Roast Turkey Cobb Sandwich - Closet Cooking

Good luck!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Thanksgiving Mantel

It's my very first ever Thanksgiving mantel!  Pretty exciting.  As with pretty much every holiday until this point, I just threw up a wreath or two (not "threw up" in a disgusting way... that was weird wording) and stuck a few decorations around.

Now that our furniture is rearranged, and the piano is front and center, I've got a "mantel"!  

I used almost all things I had on hand.  
I made the book page leaf garland two years ago for Thanksgiving.  
The turquoise candlesticks are from ikea, we've had them forever, but they used to be silver.  Yea spray paint!  
The white stand I made about three years ago - it's a wooden plate that I glued to a wooden pillar candle holder.  It used to be gray and I sprayed it for Halloween.  White seemed an appropriate color for almost every holiday so that's what I went with.  
I reused the wooden green apples again.  I got them at a thrift store for 50 cents years ago and I don't know why I like them so much, but I do.  
The gold plate stand is one I got at a garage sale last year.  It was missing plates, so I bought some china at the thrift store for 50 cents each - they're white with gold along the edge.  I put some mini pumpkins and pinecones on top and multicolored corn on bottom.  Those were all on hand, so didn't cost me a dime.  Yea!  
You can see I also reused the green scrollwork wooden shelf from Hobby Lobby that used to be black and is now green as well.  Phew, what a run-on sentence... I find that putting it on its side gives me something fun to stack things on to add height.  So I stacked a handmade chalkboard I made - remember this one?  I made a new one in a different frame and added a quote I saw on pinterest that I really like.
 I filled my chevron painted vases with pinecones, mustard and red yarn balls, and fall colored lentils with cranberries.  I stacked them on the orange mini crate (from the Halloween mantel) and stacked that whole thing on top of two wire baskets which I turned upside down.  They were from the dollar section at target last year.

I turned some votive holders upside down for a taller candle holder - it seemed to get drowned out when I used it the intended way.  
I also used my slinky pumpkins.  Easiest craft ever.
See the cute little bird on the candlestick?  I got that at Hobby Lobby (half off) and I love him.  He's made out of book pages! 

I tossed some brown striped fabric up for texture and some books for filler.  Here's a secret.  I only had three books that fit the color scheme - red, orange and brown - so I spray painted one turquoise and one green.  Yep!  I spray painted some thrift store books to get what I needed! 
One the bottom section of the piano, I put three mini baskets I got at Hobby Lobby for half off.  I filled them with some fake fall fruit and leaves and such.

So there you have it!  A Shabby Chic, on-hand, Thanksgiving mantel.  All I bought special for this one was the book page bird for a dollar, the slinky pumpkins at about 3 dollars each, two votive candles and a pillar candle at 1 dollar each and the baskets at 1 dollar each.  That's a whole mantel for  $11!  I like the challenge of using what I have and seeing how I can put the same things together in different ways for different looks. 

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Easy Wire Pumpkins and a mini pumpkinspiration round-up.

Thanksgiving is flying at us with force and if you're like me, you don't have a ton of time to sit down and create amazing Thanksgiving masterpieces to grace the decor on your mantel or table.  1 - because perhaps you're as adept at procrastination as I am? and 2 - because we all know the main focus here is the food.

So, if you're looking for something kind of funky and festive, but super easy and very minimal on the time commitment front, look no further!

This'll take you a total of five minutes, no kidding.

Let's not waste time - I know you're looking up thanksgiving side dishes as we speak.

1. Lay your slinky down and pull the ends together.
2.  Slide a small piece of yarn (or string, or twine, or raffia, or ribbon, or thread, or dental floss - seriously, whatever you have) through the very first two loops of wire on both ends of the slinky.
3. Tie the yarn together in a double knot.  Now the interior side of the slinky pumpkin is secured.
4.  Slide the yarn in between the same loops of wire again, slide the yarn to the outside of the slinky circle and tie in a double knot.  
5.  You should now have what looks like a slinky donut.

 1. Take some cinnamon sticks and break them to roughly the height of the slinky plus several inches.  Bundle them together,
2.  And tie them with raffia, securing with a double knot.
3.  Stick your cinnamon stick bundle down into the center of your slinky donut.  It should be tall enough that you can see the knotted raffia - it should stick up out of the slinky while still touching the table.
4.  Done!  Don't trim the raffia, that's like the vines coming off the stem!

Told you it was ridiculously simple.

Remember Pumpkinspiration Week from a few years back?  We had fun guest projects and posts, a round-up, tutorials, food, funny pictures...

Though I don't have the posts and tutorials to devote an entire week to pumpkins this time around, I thought I'd share a quick pumpkin round-up with you.


 Pecan Pumpkin Pie Bites - Pumps and Iron

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake - The Frugal Fairy

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls - My Baking Addiction

Pumpkin Dip - Carolina Charm

Painted Pumpkins

Pumpkin Centerpiece - Paint Me Plaid

Gilded Pumpkins - Southern Hospitality

Crayon Drip Pumpkin - The Swell Life


Wire pumpkins - Bella Knitting

Rustic Pumpkin Wreath - Four Generations One Roof

Thankful Pumpkin - Mumudesign

Yarn Pumpkins - DIY Show Off

AND, you can check out even more pumpkin ideas over on my "pumpkinspiration" pinboard on pinterest.

And if that doesn't inspire some pumpkin love, I don't know what will...

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!
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