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Elvis is in the House!

Whew! I haven’t posted lately. It’s been super crazy with our kindergarten kid and our high school senior! But it’s that time of the year again and Elvis is in the House! Elvis is Spencer’s Elf on the Shelf. Just wanted to share Elvis’ shenanigans for the past couple of days. First, Elvis left magic candy seeds for Spencer to plant in sugar.

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Spencer was so excited to “plant” his magic candy seeds in our sugar container!

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Elvis returned the following morning with a special note!

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Spencer grew giant candy canes from his magic candy seeds!

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Hope your Elf on the Shelf is bringing lots of smiles to your precious babies! Elvis is working wonders in our very blessed home! Happy Holidays!

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Happy Mother’s Day

Looking for a unique, inexpensive and super thoughtful Mother’s Day gift? Look no further! Make her therMOMeters! 

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They are pretzel rods dipped in white candy melt with a drizzled red line and drizzled black hash marks. They were so easy to make! Literally took a total of an hour to make over 60 of these! The hardest part was finding 60 intact pretzel rods! I used 3 squeeze bottles (like for ketchup and mustard) to make these. I filled one bottle with the white candy melt discs. Popped the plastic bottle in the microwave for 60 seconds. Then I squeezed the bottle and put it back in for 25 seconds. Although I filled the bottle to the top with the candy melts, once they melted down, it was about 1/2 full. I just put more candy melts inside and gave it another two times in the microwave at 25-30 second increments squeezing the bottle between cycles. Make sure the white candy melt goes all the way to the top! Do not put on the lid. Lay out wax paper. Dip the pretzel rods straight down into the bottle. Gently swirl the rod in a circular motion over the bottle opening to allow the excess candy melt to drip back down. Lay flat on the wax paper. Repeat until all rods are dipped. I had to refill the plastic squeeze bottle one time with candy melt discs and put it back in the microwave. Toward the end, I would dip the rod and gently squeeze the bottle (don’t squeeze so tight that you are touching the rod inside) and the candy melt would come up the rod and cover it. Repeat the same steps in melting the red and black candy melts in their own bottles. Squeeze a dollop of red (to create the bulb) and pull down the length of the white. Repeat until all rods have red bulb/lines (be sure the white is fully set before squeezing on the red). Once the red is fully set, squeeze black hash marks in even increments up the rod). These were so easy to make and so cute. 

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Here’s the tag above that you can download and paste into a Word document. Just right click over the picture and choose something like “save as” and save it to your computer. Tie the tag with a ribbon around the rim of the mason jar for the cutest Mother’s Day gift ever!

DIY Fall Wreath – Dollar Tree Craft!

So Spencer has really settled into preschool. He loves it and is learning so much. It is 3 days a week but only for a few hours. I hate to waste gas going back and forth so I just hang out in the little town his preschool is in. Unfortunately for our bank account, there is a Dollar Tree store just around the corner from his preschool. Everything is just $1.00! So with $10 or $20 bucks you feel like you went on a massive shopping spree! I literally go in there everyday Spencer is in school. So much so that the other day an employee was trying to find fake eyelashes for a customer who wanted it for Halloween…I was in the next aisle and yelled out where they were located in the store, hahaha! When I checked out last Friday, the cashier literally said, “See you on Monday” hahahahaha! She is so right! Last week I spotted these gold, glittery, filigree maple leaves. I am a sucker for anything that sparkles! Then I saw the spool of sheer gold wire ribbon…9 feet of it on one spool! Then the deep purple and orange flowers. Then the plastic green gourd and jewel-crusted, plastic orange gourd. I felt a new fall wreath was coming on! $7.00 later I had the makings of an awesome wreath! I hopped on over to Walmart and picked up a straw wreath for $2.97. With my magic glue gun, I created our new $10.00 Fall Wreath in under half an hour! Be sure to visit your local dollar store, there are treasures to be found within! Happy Crafting!

DIY Photo Block Ornaments

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve blogged before how I live life a little different. I do stop and smell the roses everyday. I appreciate the priceless things in life like love and friendship. My family and my friends are my sanctuary. In them I find peace. Peace with being diagnosed with PH. In them I also find hope. Hope for the future no matter how short or long mine may be. I am a very thankful person. I let go of anger as fast as it comes. I tell those who are important to me that I love them ALL the time. I say it because I mean it. Am I this way because of my death sentence diagnosis? No. I really don’t believe that. I have always been a passionate person, if anything, PH has made me even more passionate. I am passionate about living versus just existing. There is a huge difference.

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So when birthdays, special occasions or the holidays come around, I don’t run to the nearest mall or megastore looking for perfect gifts. The truth is that we are on a fixed income thanks to my PH. So what I believe my family and friends deserve are things I can’t afford to buy them. So instead, I always try to make something for those I love dearly. I pour all my love into the things I create and I am giving a piece of me when I make something for someone. This past football season, I made large 4×4 wood blocks for each senior that on each side had a different photo of them in action on the field. You can check out how I made the large photo cubes HERE. The kids loved them and they turned out so great. Then it hit me! I can scale back the size and create personalized photo ornaments! This post has written directions but the post with the large 4×4 photo cubes has detailed photos to go with the written directions. I pretty much followed the same steps other than I inserted eyelet screws into these smaller photo block versions to create a hanger.

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The hard part was gathering memorable photos of my friends and family. Thankfully social websites make this part less daunting. I visited my family’s and friends’ Facebook pages and found 5 special pictures of theirs that I knew were important to them. For the 6th side of the block (the top), I found a wintery background picture (just type “winter wallpaper” in the Google image search bar and you will find tons of graphic backgrounds to choose from). I used a cute snowman picture and added text that said “Our Sweet Snowbabies 2012” or “Our Sweet Grand Snowbabies 2012” or I just put their name with the year on it. I used a photo editing software to crop down the photos into perfect squares.

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Then I went to Michaels to find 2×2 wood blocks. They were selling them for $1.29 each! Highway robbery! The hubby took me to Lowes and got a 36 inch 2 x 2 railing banister, eyelet screws (to make the hanging ribbon) and sand paper. He cut a few by hand using a hacksaw and then my dear friend, Rhonda, had her dad cut up the rest. First off, let me tell you, those hardware megastores get away with murder! There is no such thing as a 2 x 2 or 4 x 4. Everything is always at least 1/2 an inch smaller than stated! If the wood is not 2 x 2 then just say that! Sheesh! it’s a good thing those mega hardware stores are geared toward mostly men because if enough women were aware of their cheating ways, there would be a major ruckus! Us women don’t do well with false advertising, lol! After choosing all the photos, I added them to a Word document. I scaled down the size of each picture to 1.5 x 1.5 size. I was able to get several photos onto one sheet of paper. I saved them to a memory stick and took them to the FedEx Kinkos to print them in color using their laser printers. I know from experience that photos printed from my deskjet printer at home doesn’t work well with Mod Podge. The ink runs, smears and ruins the photo. I had the photos printed on plain old copy paper because again from experience, I know it works best to have thin paper when Mod Podging (is that a word? LOL).

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Steve sanded down the edges and the freshly cut sides to make them as smooth as possible. Steve then used the black spray paint left over from making the senior photo blocks and spray painted all the 1.5 x 1.5 blocks black. Following the same technique I used for the 4 x 4 blocks (which again were really 3.5 x 3.5 blocks, lol), I cut down the photos just slightly smaller. Each side was slightly different so I laid the block on the photo, traced around it and cut just slightly inside of the square. The black creates a frame around the photos giving it a really cool effect. I applied Mod Podge to the wood block and using an old expired credit card, I smoothed the picture on to the wood block side. I repeated this for all the sides and for all the different blocks I made. I then applied two layers of Mod Podge (glossy) over each photo all the way to the edges of the block (allowing the 1st layer to fully dry before adding the 2nd layer). I hand screwed on the eyelet screws (using the pointed scissor ends inserted into the eye to do the last few tight turns). I then attached a color coordinating ribbon. They turned out so freaking cute!

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I decided to go back in time and make one of Spencer for every year we have been blessed to have him. I used a different winter graphic design for every year and always added “Spencer” and the coordinating year to the image on the top of the wood block. I also made sure all words were toward the top or bottom and not in the middle where the eyelet screw would be screwed in. I will continue to make one every year for Spencer choosing 5 photos of importance for that year. When he turns 18, he will have 18 keepsake ornaments! I made one for our oldest son using special photos of him from the past year. There are very few photos in general of Steve & I together. Mostly because I am usually the one taking pictures. I found 5 photos of us taken some time in the past 17 years we have been together. Then on the top block I put “Steve & Kathy” toward the top of the block and “In love since 1995” toward the bottom of the block. I loved how these turned out and am so thankful that I was able to create a gift that is worthy enough to be given to those I love.

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These would make for great “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornaments using 5 baby pictures of that year. Or a fantastic wedding gift using wedding photos. For one of my friends, I used some of her daughter’s senior school pictures. For another friend, I used photos from a loved vacation she had taken with her daughter to London. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination! So get those creative juices flowing! It would be so awesome to have just a tree only decorated in little mirrors and photo blocks! Make some of just specific family members and some of specific vacations! Oh, this will be a future project for sure, a photo cube tree covered in wonderful memories! Because I had black spray paint, ribbon and Mod Podge on hand, the 20+ ornaments cost less than $10 to make. Again, that doesn’t matter, these cutie patooties are priceless gifts made with tons and tons of love!

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Keepsake Hand Ornaments

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI have seen several versions of this craft project around the internet. I couldn’t wait to make this with Spencer! It is just a super cute way to create a keepsake of your child’s precious hand print!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAAll you need to create this cutie are some glass balls (I used frosted blue balls I purchased from Hobby Lobby for around $2.50 on sale), white acrylic paint (purchased from Michaels for .69 cents), a foam brush and different colored permanent markers.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAFirst, pour a small amount of paint onto a styrofoam plate. Generously paint your child’s hand with white paint all the way to the finger tips. Spencer just laughed and laughed saying it tickled and was cold.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERABefore placing the ornament in his precious hand, I first showed him what to do. I placed an ornament in my palm and slowly wrapped my fingers up and around the ornament. I told him to “hug the ornament with your fingers”. I then showed him how to open his hand back up pulling his fingers off the ornament slowly. Once he understood, I laid the ornament in the palm of his hand and said, “hug it!” Spencer did exactly as he was told and shrieked in delight when he saw his big white hand print! We repeated these steps for the other 5 ornaments. Once done, I secured the ornaments (see below) and helped Spencer wash off all of the paint.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAI strung the balls onto a dowel rod. I taped the hanger piece to the dowel rod so the ornaments wouldn’t slide and move up and down the dowel rod. I then suspended the ornaments between 2 TV trays and allowed them to fully dry for a couple of hours.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAWith Spencer’s help, we used permanent markers to decorate his hand prints turning them into snowmen. First I drew the eyes (black marker), mouth (black marker), buttons (black marker), nose (orang marker) and stick arms (fine point brown marker). Then I let Spencer choose the colors for each hat with matching scarf for each of the 5 snowmen. I gave him the choice of earmuffs, a ball cap, top hat or Santa hat. He picked the color, then picked which type of hat and I drew them all on as he delightfully watched.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERADon’t forget to turn the ornament over and write your child’s name and the year it was created. Spencer loved this craft project as much as me! Spencer is mighty proud of his little Keepsake Hand Ornaments! A perfect way to turn  your child’s hand print into a keepsake item that I’m sure his or her grandparents would love to get as a Christmas present!

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Polar Express Round Trip

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe holidays are fast approaching! Never fails, we are always pinching money during this time of year to ensure our kiddos don’t go without. BUT, that doesn’t mean we can’t take in all of the holiday activities in our own special Pack Family way! The Scioto Mile was lit yesterday as well as the Columbus Commons downtown. The Columbus Parks and Recreation Department has made great strides in cleaning up the downtown area making it a place where people don’t just work there, they play there! There’s also Zoo Lights going on and a bunch of other activities all around the city. As much as we want to do it all, the cost for all those activities adds up quickly! So Steve and I hatched a plan to create the Polar Express Round Trip for the Pack Family.

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It started with help from one of our closest friends, Beth. She beats out Wikipedia when it comes to being a source of information and will give you a run for your money on Jeopardy (I let her win when we watch it together because, you know, it’s important to her…bwahahahahaha). She also pretty much has her own library because not only is she an avid reader, so are her two fantastic kiddos, Jodi & Jake. I asked if she had some kiddie books around that I could borrow that would be age appropriate for our 3-year-old. With a wink and a blink, she rounded up over 30 kiddie books and demanded we not borrow but instead keep them.

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I did a search online for the Polar Express Ticket. I wanted something that looked authentic. I found the perfect image! I pasted the image into a Word document and enlarged them into fun-size tickets! Looking for Polar Express Tickets? DOWNLOAD THESE! I printed them and cut the tickets out. While I was doing this, Big Steve took the books into our bedroom and locked the door. He wrapped each book up individually in bright red wrapping paper. Ok, as I look more closely at the picture, I am guessing the name in the bottom left corner is “Aidan”? Oopsy, I should have photo-shopped right over that name lol. Oh well, the tickets still looked very real! Actually, I just officially named our minivan “Aidan” so it’s all good! LOL

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We told the kids we had a surprise for them and to get their PJs on. They returned in their flannels after just a few short minutes. We handed them their tickets and said let’s go! It’s time to get the Pack Polar Express Round Trip on the road! The kids were both excited, yes, the 3 year old and the 16 year old!

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While Stevie helped his little brother into his car seat, Steve stayed behind just long enough to put all the wrapped books under the tree.

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As we turned off our street we were saddened to see a huge house fire just around the corner on Sedalia. Here we are ready to embark on the Polar Express and someone lost their home. Just another reminder to always be thankful every second of everyday. The road was closed off so we had to circle around. This additional time was good because we called in our family favorite pizza, The Founders Favorite, from Donatos and had 20 minutes to kill before we could pick it up. Wonder what’s on the Founder’s Favorite? Ham, sausage, pepperoni and green peppers! Super delicious!

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The first thing we had to do was fill up the Polar Express. Gas was $3.27 a gallon. Not too bad although I do remember when gas was .99 cents when I had my very first car. Of course, that was 23 years ago, lol. Steve picked up our sodas while paying for the gas.

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Big Steve is always so thoughtful and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. While the gas was pumping, Steve cleaned off the windows of our Polar Express so everyone would have a clear view of the Christmas lights to come.

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We left the gas station and picked up our pizza. We all enjoyed our pizza as we headed first toward the Port Columbus Airport. What is really fantastic is that we received coupons for buy one ticket, get one ticket for the Zoo lights attached to the pizza box! So maybe in the near future we can do that as well!

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We found a little parking lot just off the runway and watched a couple of airplanes fly in. It was dark but the planes were lit up! Spencer really enjoyed that. Did you know there is a big “X” that flashes down the runway? I never noticed that before. Spencer was quick to see it and point it out. I guess for the pilots it means, “X hits the spot” or maybe “X this lane closed for Santa?” LOL

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Off we went down Broad Street heading west into downtown. We took side trips down well-lit streets in Bexley. Some folks go all out decorating their homes with Christmas lights (others do not, lol). Spencer loved it all and would yell out what color the lights were. Can you tell we were driving in the pictures below? LOL

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We finally arrived downtown and I was saddened for a moment to see the manger scene again not put up on East Broad. That’s ok because a couple blocks later and we were by the Columbus Commons. Downtown was busy and full of bundled up families taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of downtown! They had kiddie rides, food vendors and even a campfire to roast marshmallows. This is definitely someplace I want to come to next year with the family when the holiday season rolls around!

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We then drove further to the Scioto Mile and the lighting was so very impressive. We drove over the newly opened bridges and once we were on the other side of the river, we all got out to take in the lights and get some pictures of our beautiful downtown Columbus. The colorful lights reflected off the river creating a very magical view of the riverfront!

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Even though we were in our PJs, we also took keepsake pictures of ourselves.

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As we drove away, I had to get a picture of the LeVeque Tower downtown. The colors are always changing depending on what month it is. The traditional red, green and white lit up the top of the building for December. It is my secret wish that one day, the LeVeque will be lit purple in the month of November to raise awareness about Pulmonary Hypertension. Maybe one day.

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We drove into German Village just south of downtown to look at more lights the residents had put up. We eventually weaved down to 104 and headed back home.

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Once home, we gasped and said, “Look Spencer! Santa had called and said he was bringing you a few presents to get you started and he must have come by while we were gone!” We told Spencer that tonight he can open one present. He looked them over and picked one. I think Santa knocked some pine needles off of the tree? LOL

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He eagerly unwrapped it and was smiling ear to ear to find it was a book. Spencer crawled up on my lap and we read the book together. I explained to Spencer there are enough presents under the tree for him to unwrap just one every night. So every night, Spencer and I will be reading a new book together! Thanks again to Beth who made this possible!

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Make your holidays bright whichever way you financially can. Anything is possible if you just BELIEVE and get a little creative!

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Heart-shaped Homemade Hand Warmers

Can’t believe it is that time of year again for mittens, winter coats, scarves and boots! Today I’m sharing a very simple craft project that is functional and super sweet! It is Heart-shaped Homemade Hand Warmers! It takes very few materials to create this cutie patootie. So let’s get started:

Materials:

Scrap Felt Fabric

Scrap Cotton Fabric (any color or pattern will do because you will not see it)

4-5 inch Heart-shaped Cookie Cutter

Pen

Scissors

Sewing Machine

Sewing Needle

Sewing Thread (in matching color with the felt)

Funnel

Rice

Directions:

Fold your cotton fabric in half so that you are cutting through two layers. Trace the cookie cutter with a pen onto your cotton fabric. I am using an old plain white pillowcase.

Cut out the pattern following your traced line through both layers of fabric.

Fold your felt fabric in half so that you are cutting through two layers. Trace the cookie cutter with a pen onto your felt fabric.

Cut out the pattern following your traced line through both layers of the felt.

Layer your fabric in this order: cotton, felt, felt, cotton. Make sure the hearts line up.

Sew around the heart leaving a 1/4 inch seam and leaving about a 1 inch opening (be sure to backsew at both ends).


Trim within 1/8 inch of the sewn heart being sure to not cut through any sewn pieces.


Turn the heart inside out.

Place a funnel into your opening.

Scoop out 1.5-2 tablespoons of dried rice.

Pour the rice into the funnel right into your heart. You don’t want it overstuffed but full enough that you can’t feel fabric to fabric. Slip stitch the opening shut using the color coordinating thread and sewing needle.


Tadah! You just made the cutie patootie hand warmer!

Repeat the steps to make a second matching heart. To use the hand warmers: heat in the microwave between 25-45 seconds on high. Place in your gloves or mittens. My microwave takes 45 seconds but every microwave is different. Test your hand warmers first before giving them to a young child. You don’t want to burn their precious little hands! So please use common sense! This would make an awesome stocking stuffer. Tie a ribbon around your hearts with a label explaining how to use them. I found these cute little red and green bells at the dollar store (18 per package). The bells were strung together and I just cut the string and strung the bells directly onto my ribbon for a finishing touch.

Quick and easy, functional and sweet! Just the way I like my craft projects to be! Enjoy!

NOTE: It is filled with rice so it can’t get wet! Be sure to include that in your homemade tag! Here is a link to a Word document that has the tags I used: Handwarmer Tags. You can certainly change the fonts and font colors to make it your own! I used a tag design paper punch to punch out my homemade tags. That made it super easy!