Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Sad Day at AGT

I can't believe it is nearly a week since Christmas Day.  Where did it go? 

We have been up to quite a bit and I had another nephew over the other night.  We did some interesting craft and we worked on some Maths issues he has been having.  I think we will need quite a few more sessions before the issues are sorted out, but we got a start.  

You are probably wondering what the title is about.  Yesterday was a sad day here at AGT or should I say, it was a sad day at our house.  The very last piece of birthday cake was eaten yesterday.  That means no more resident birthday celebration for another year.  Then, we will both be turning 30 and I think there will be more commiserating rather than celebrating.  

I showed you quite a bit of the fun that happened on the BFF's birthday, but I'm not sure that you have seen all the great food that was made in honour of my birthday.  My virtual and my actual birthdays were wonderful.  Here are some pictures so you can what fun we had. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Random Cuteness on Christmas Day

One of the wonderful things about Christmas is the little things the kids do.  I have to say that by the time we were having lunch I was well and truly over the kids.  However, we were all very tired by then which didn’t help.  But I digress. Kid One and I had a few nice moments and I have to share.

I received two books from my parents for Christmas yesterday. Naked Bunyip Dancing by Steven Herrick is a verse novel about a year 6 class.  It is a continuation of Love Poems and Leg Spinners (also by StevenHerrick.).  I asked Mum for Naked Bunyip Dancing and informed her that it really wasn’t what it sounded like.  I also got Little Elephants; the latest Graeme Base picture book and #1 had to have a look. 

When I showed him my books, #1 asked me questions about the authors and what the books were about.  He saw the verse novel and read the title out loud.  Naked Bunyip Dancing, he read, “hee he he hee” he giggled.  “Naked,” I repeated and we both chuckled together.  I’m sure if any of the relatives were watching or listening to us they wouldn’t have got the joke!

Don’t deny it people.  Naked is a funny word!

I hope you had a silly moment with a kid this Christmas, it really isn’t the same without one.

AAAHHH Boxing Day, I have to get back to my online sale shopping!  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The BFF's Bday

Hi All,
This is another post that didn’t make it due to my internet connection, or lack thereof.  So, I will tell you all about yesterday first!

Yesterday was the BFF’s Birthday.  That’s right, she celebrates her birthday on Christmas Eve.  I mentioned in my last post, that it doesn’t seem fair for an angel like the BFF to share the day of her birth with Santa’s annual world trip.  So, I try to make it just about the BFF.  That is really tricky for me, because we all know that the world is all about me.  LOL.
I worked well into the night on the Eve of the Birthday so that the BFF would wake up to this…
I blew up the balloons and strung them together.  Then I taped the string to the top of  her door frame.
So when she opened the bedroom door she had to walk through the balloon "curtain" to get out!

Hagrid kept watch to say "Good Morning Birthday Girl:"
as soon as the BFF emerged from her bedroom. 

After breakfast with her Mum, the BFF did some shopping before picking me up and we went and did more shopping and had lunch and then went to the movies.  We saw, PITCH PERFECT, which was surprisingly good.  “Acca-Awesome!”  After the movie, we went home and the BFF went running!  Yeah, I think that’s weird too.   She had cake with her parents (cheesecake, white chocolate and luxury chocolates created by her Mum) and came home to a giant hug from her bestest bestie (ME).

Luv Ya Bestie!  I know you had a glorious day, because you told me you did! Welcome to club 29… 30 is just around the corner!

Now, I must acknowledge the fact that today is Christmas.  
Church was a blessed gathering.  Our family had a lovely time together.  The food and the gifts were great. The kids were exhausted and everyone had a nap after lunch… the perfect Christmas Day!  It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t say…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cubby Houses and Christmas Gift Wrap and Best Laid Plans

Trust me!  I composed the post below YESTERDAY! However, my internet connection has been rather dodgy and my mouse (the computer kind) died! So, while it appears that I have missed two days in a row, I really only missed one.  The plan today, is to post again before the day is out, because I know you must have missed me!! However, I can't promise anything because the internet connection is still a bit wobbly.  



I missed yesterday and I almost missed today!  What a weekend. 
First, I promised photos of our most extraordinary cubby house.
This is the view from the side.  You can see the whole thing here.
The area under the blue roof is Hagrid's room.
Hopefully you can see inside.
You will notice the books scattered on the floor.
The best thing to do in a Cubby is read.
We had Tiny Teddies and water too. 
This is the view from the front door
(before you bob down  to crawl inside)

Yesterday, I slept late and the rest of the day was spent wrapping gifts.  The plan to do one present at a time and “not make a mess” did not come to fruition.  I had every intention of staying tidy and following the plan, but I pulled out the first bag and then I needed something that was at the bottom of the box and by the time I found it, the mess was made! Anyway, I tried another “loopy bow” with paper and it worked okay.  Then, I tried another loopy bow, but with curling ribbon.  There seemed to be a tangle of ribbon every step of the way.  The end result was very different, but it looks kind of cool in my opinion.  What do you think?

Today: I went to church and had lunch with the family and had my dress altered (love ya Mum) and sold a trumpet (Dad thinks I’m awesome) and gave Nan her present (she thinks I’m awesome too) and then I went to my Sister’s house and then the Chemist and then back to Church for our Annual Christmas Carol Service.  See, I told you it was a busy day!!

Tomorrow is the BFF’s birthday.  The poor girl was born on Christmas Eve and has to share HER day with Santa’s world travel.  This, in my opinion, is rather rude.  Therefore, tomorrow is going to be all about the BFF.  I have some nice little surprises planned for her, but I can’t tell you what they are, because she is sitting right beside me on the couch and even though she probably can’t see my screen, I don’t want to underestimate her super powers!  The BFF is a Super Hero, you know!  Not only that, she is my biggest blog fan and reads this thing religiously, so I don’t want to spoil the surprise. 

Did you read that girlfriend? No hints! No Peeking!  You will have to wait until tomorrow!!! :D

I do hope tomorrow is a Joy for everyone, and you all take a little bit of time to sit still and remember the real Reason for the Season (Luke 2 : 1-21).

Happy Holidays

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Lights and DVD Movies and Sleepovers

The joy of holidays is not being stuck to a plan!  Im finally beginning to relax and It is glorious. 

Last night, Nephew number 4 came over.  First, we went out with Grandma and Nan and number 2.  We took a driving tour around the neighbourhood to look at all the Christmas lights.  The tour ended at a local church that is open every night in December with a huge light display on their front lawn.  They also have stalls selling glow sticks, sausage sizzles, donuts, ice creams, books and handmade crafts.  They have singers and bands play in their main auditorium and the prayer room is set up with activities so people can read Bible verses, pray, or decorate a tree.  The Church has a Christmas Tree set up with a theme from every country in the world.  There are stuffed toys dressed in Santa suits and church members dress up as Shepherds.  We take the children there every year and they love it. 

It was very late by the time we all got home and into bed! But you know that already as you can tell what time I finished blogging last night.

This morning Number 4 woke me up and thankfully was happy to play with the blocks until the BFF got up and made him breakfast.  I love the BFF!!  We watched movies and coloured in and I made some bows for my gift wrapping.  4, was a delight for most of the morning, until we had a bit of a meltdown over shoes and socks.  It amazes me what this kid reacts to and what seems to slide off his back.  All kids are different.  I also found it interesting that 4 didnt want to watch the Dinosaur movie.  Dont get me wrong I didnt want to watch it either, but it is usually a favourite when the kids come over.  They will often pass up the other kid focused animated flicks to watch Dinosaur over and over again.  I have quite a few kid movies and I try to keep up with at least a few recent releases as well as some old ones, but Dinosaur often wins over the others.  I love introducing the kids to old movies (the ones I watched as a kid) and watching their reaction. 
Anyway, we watched Nim's Island and Evan Almighty.  Both are films that I havent seen in ages (despite having them on DVD) and I had forgotten how good they were.  I really enjoyed the animal fun in both movies.  Jodie Foster plays the agoraphobic writer, Alex Rider, who overcomes her greatest fears to help her biggest fan, a little girl alone on an island in Nim’s Island.  Evan Almighty is the spin off film of Bruce Almighty.  I have to say, I think I enjoy Evan Almighty more!  The soundtrack is my kind of daggy, there is zero swearing and no sexual innuendo (things that really ruined the whole concept of Bruce Almighty).  I cant help thinking about the life lessons and Christian messages that might be squeezed out of Evan Almighty.  Some may think that this watered down modern version of the Bible Story is overtly Christian.  While God is a real person, there are real (rather than veiled) Bible references and conversations about faith and prayer, the message is more environmental and moral than Biblical.  But, it is clever and sweet and a bit of a laugh on a holiday morning.  It kept number 4 occupied for a while and for that I was grateful. 

After the DVD viewing, we put on socks and shoes and walked to the local shopping centre (which happens to have a McDonalds beside it).  4 held my hand all the way, until we got there and he was off on the playground quicker than I could say, keep your shoes on!  After about 45 minutes of playing and eating and chatting and standing in line, we headed home, with a plan.  4 and I built a cubby house! I will tell you more (and show pictures tomorrow).  But for now, I will simply say, not many kids have an Aunty as awesome as me!!

After 4 was packed up and picked up by his Dad, I flopped on the couch and slept.  I slept and I slept.  I slept for hours!!! Being awesome is hard work you know! 

Thats that then. 
“Today was good, today was fun.  Tomorrow is another one.”
~Dr Seuss~
Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 20, 2012

All Wrapped Up!

I promised more wrapping for today and finally I have a few photos ready to share.  I hope you all appreciate the late hour!

The Sorting System

Start the Season by taking Stock!  The advice from Older and Wisor’s latest gift wrapping inspiration series (Pimp Yo’ Presents) is that we should use what we have.  But you can’t do that unless you know what you have.  It also helps to make a list of what you already have and a separate list of any other stuff you need.  This applies to presents as well as wrapping paper, ribbon, sticky tape and scissors.  I can’t tell you how many times I have bought sticky tape, paper and gift tags only to come home and find that I already have three rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, ten rolls of sticky tape and no ribbon!  Or I buy gold ribbon and silver ribbon, only to come home and discover that I have plenty of gold ribbon, but really need red ribbon.  You get the idea.  Hence, I made a huge mess and two lists yesterday. 

Next you need to make another list: who are you giving gifts to this year?  Also write down if there is a spending limit (some families make such a decision together long before November, or you might have placed a cap on what you can afford for each person).  If you can do it before you go shopping, decide what to give each person so that you are focused when braving the shops.  It is easy to go overboard or get frustrated when you don’t have a clear plan in mind. 

Now, when you start sorting, you might think that you are handling gifts two or even three times.  But trust me, if you don’t have time to wrap everything at once (or you simply don’t have the stamina), this is a much easier way to go! 

Use old shopping bags and sticky notes.  Label one bag for each person you are purchasing a gift for.  When you have purchased it, put the gift in that bag, secure the top of the bag and place in the present box.  You will end up with a box of (what looks like) old shopping bags piled up and shoved in a corner.  We all go to different events around the holidays and some presents will need to be wrapped before others.  As each event draws closer pull out the gifts only related to that event.  Wrap those, and place under the tree.  If you aren’t inclined to be really ahead of time, or you know that you will only have time/ stamina to wrap a few presents at a time, then pull out ONE bag from the box, get out your wrapping caddy and wrap that gift.  If you feel up to it, or you have time, pull out ONE MORE bag and wrap that gift.  Paper scraps and sticky tape disasters go back in the old shopping bag that has now become the bin for the day. 

The Wrapping Caddy

front view
This is designed to make life easier.  You can see from the pictures below (one from every angle) that your caddy can have any number of useful wrapping/ card writing tools in it.  Hopefully, it is fairly obvious that the point is to put everything that you need for gift wrapping in one place.  It is small and easy to take with you to any part of the house (great for when you have to hide in the corner of the bedroom to “help out Santa”). 
A shoe box or pencil case could also act as an easy wrapping caddy.  You only need essentials such as: scissors, sticky tape, pen/s, glue stick, ribbon/ premade bows and gift tags.  Extra coloured paper, cards and other craft items are bonuses that might come in handy. 
back view
side view

Last but certainly not least!

Kids are going to love the idea of getting a gift from you. They are going to remember the gift itself and the fact that you gave it to them.  They are NOT going to remember what it was wrapped in.  I know this, because I remember lots of presents I received from people (especially as a kid) and I don’t ever really remember the gift wrap.  It is great to do something fun and original when you wrap gifts.  If you are creative and like to do things different and interesting, then go for it.  But, if it is a huge chore, don’t make it worse by stressing over the size of the bow or whether you made it yourself.  

The kids will love what is inside the wrapping and so will the adults.  By all means, wrap in a way that is noticeable, so that everyone can tell who the gift is from without having to read the tag.  But, don’t spend more time at Christmas folding paper perfectly and fussing over ribbon, when it is going to be torn off in a fit of excited anticipation and thrown in the bin!!

I love wrapping and frankly the pretty is more for me than anyone else.  So, do what makes you happy.  There are far more important things in life than wrapping paper and ribbon!

I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's a Wrap

Get it?!

Less than a Week to go 6 days, 7 sleeps! 

I promised I would share gift wrap stuff and here it is.  Our family are Salvos –common knowledge- and Mum used to volunteer for the Salvos wrapping presents at Myer –not so common knowledge.  Anyway, I learned a lot about wrapping from her.  Myer had a quality assurance thing about how wrapping was supposed to appear.  I have that perfectionist thing happening and when wrapping gifts I want them to look awesome! Since my first knee injury (11 years ago), the family gift wrapping has seemed to land on me and I’m known for my wrapping style.  I tend to go just a little bit over-the-top with the curling ribbon.  As far as I’m concerned, when you are wrapping presents, there is no such thing as too much ribbon!!!
See... there is not enough ribbon on this gift! 

This year, I have been accessing a lot of genius wrapping ideas from a number of craft blogs I follow and random things I’ve seen on Pinterest.  My main source of wrapping inspiration has come from Older and Wisor’s series: How to Wrap Your Crap.  I love this name.  She has Seasonal ideas as well as wrapping tips for all year round.  

Pimp Yo' Presents Series
I also dropped by 30Days of Pinspiration and discovered Britt Morin.  She has pinned a bunch of ideas for wrapping and decorations for the festive season, although heaps of the ideas are adaptable.  You will see I have hyperlinked to boards and sites above, but I have also hyperlinked original sources under each picture.      

I love this idea from using coloured electrical tape to dress up plain paper
Now, let’s look at some of the cool wrapping I have done so far (not much).   I took a few ideas from above and gave myself permission to do what works for me.  If you are anything like me, it won't look like the picture, so don't stress!  

Gotta wrap the calendars!  Just tie it in a bow!
Don't forget to cut a triangle from each end of the ribbon for pretty ends!

When it comes to wrapping, I am not ashamed to admit that I put thought into which paper goes with which person.  The girls get pinks and the boys get blues.  The multi-coloured papers go for anyone.  In the past I have tried to avoid using the same paper for people in the same family.  For instance, Mum’s gift is wrapped in different paper to Dad’s.  I feel like I’m revealing some weird obsession as I type this.  Many people don’t fuss over gift wrapping like this, I know.  Other people buy only one or two paper types and wrap everything the same so that it co-ordinates with their tree.  Check out yesterday’s post about Tree D├ęcor

I love the loopy bow (click for directions), but it doesn’t love me.  I think I have successfully pulled off, exactly ONE of them.  Below you can see the original loopy bow and my loopy bow.  I have resigned myself to the fact that I’m not going to do any more of these (at least not this year).  But it looks good and if you can do craft with little fuss, than you will find this easy.  I don’t do anything with little fuss, so you can imagine! 

The Original Loopy Bow
Picture from Older and Wisor
My Loopy Bow
(I used ribbon and for my centre I used a pre-cut  stick-on bow).  

Tomorrow I will show you my wrapping caddy, the sorting system and wrapping kid gifts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

O - Christmas Trees!

One week to go!

Australia doesn’t do “living” Christmas trees as a rule so most Aussies have a plastic shrub in their houses.  Last year, our tree looked sort of like this…

This is very much how the tree looked the year before too.  Unfortunately I can't find a photo of either tree.  

Pinterest has a variety of individualised Christmas trees.  There is something for everyone.  I got pinspired and started pinning a bunch of them in November.  Where would all of us slow pokes get our inspiration (check out 30 days of pinspiration here) if it weren’t for all the super organised people on Pinterest?

Gone are the days of the traditional tree with a hodge podge of hand-crafted decorations and sad tinsel.  The themed tree of one or two colours co-ordinating decorations and gift wrap is also a bit old hat.  Don’t get me wrong, if that is your thing, I’m impressed with your level of commitment.  It took me 10 years to convince Mum that a bit of coordinated forethought would result in a beautiful tree standing in the living room.  The great thing is, that Mum now has so many decorations that she can easily choose a different colour theme each year without having to go out and purchase new accessories.  I’m sure I used to hear the poor tree groaning under the weight of all that stuff!

This year the BFF and I decided to go for something a bit different in the tree department.  
Our tree looks like this…

At night time it looks like this…

It was really quite easy to create.  Well, the BFF made it look easy! She did all the wire beading and bending and twisting.  I traced and cut out our paper decorations.  The tree shaped wire is secured with tape and cut-outs are just stuck to the wall with blu-tac.  The cool thing was, we had a different tree than last year and didn’t spend any extra money.  We raided the craft boxes and our awesome resourcefulness did the rest. 

If you are so slack, that you don’t have the tree up yet, check out these pins and raid the craft supplies before you rush out and buy an over-priced twig.  These days, anything goes, so don't be afraid to experiment.  

Tomorrow... Gifts and Wrapping! :D
Happy Christmas! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Less than 10 Days until Christmas

Everyone is raving about how the year has flown by.  I didn’t know the year had wings.  I’m so funny!

If you haven’t started getting ready for the big day, you better get a move on.  I am going to fill you in on all the stuff we have been doing at our house in the lead up to Christmas Day.  My organisation is (as always) a bit special.  A few readers will browse this week and think: “well, der, I did that weeks ago and I can’t believe there would be anyone who hasn’t done that yet!”  If that is you, then just laugh at the silliness of all those not so perfect and definitely not organised people out there.  Other readers will pop in to AGT this week and think, “oh dear, I forgot to do that!” There might be some colourful adjectives thrown in for good measure but the sentiment will be the same. 

I'm starting with trees (and decorations) and cards.  These are usually the first Holiday paraphernalia to hit the store shelves and it is usually the best place to start.  It is the easiest, in my opinion, part of getting into the Christmas spirit.  I will also add, that you can usually skip the seasonal cooking, kid craft and entertaining without being considered a Scrooge as long as you have a tree and send out a few cards. 
I tend not to give too many cards at Christmas time.  I have a bit of a “thing” about it.  We will go there another time, shall we?! We shall.

Christmas Cards

If you’re going to the trouble of giving out cards and you only give a few then you might as well make an effort.  On the other hand, most cards have pride of place for about a month and then they hit the recycling bin, so don’t waste too much time on it.  

I made a few cards with my Junior Soldiers this year.  The boys like to get crafty and I have to keep them busy!  Also, it gave them a reason for writing out Bible verses that I wanted them to learn.  Mwahaha… I’m sneaky!

We started with some blank door hanger templates (compliments of the BFF) and folded them in thirds.  One third had a big hole (where it would wrap around the door knob), the other two appeared to be in half.  We cut the first third (the one with the hole) off and then the halved remaining card made a perfect blank slate.  We drew pictures on the front fold of the card, or should I say D and J drew pictures.  We also used old Christmas Cards and cut out various shapes of the images on them.  I tried to steer the kids towards Joseph and Mary and Jesus pictures.  I focused on stars, shepherds and wise men as well.  Our Bible verses were matched to the Advent Candles so the words HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE featured.  The kids gave their cards to people in our church and the photos of their cards were a bit “special” so unfortunately you will have to get the idea from my photos. 

First we have a Button Tree.  The boys sorted the buttons into colours for me and then I just used PvA/craft glue to attach them to the card. 

Next you can see (my personal favourite) the Dove card.  The Dove and the words were on a larger card and there was a lot of space.  I cut the main images and just stuck them on to our baby cards with a regular glue stick.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m going with “the kids did it” on this one.  If that doesn’t work, I was distracted because all of my creating was happening in between assisting the boys, tidying, catching glue before it hit the carpet and setting up my laptop for movie time.  AAAHHH!!

I will fill you in on our very creative version of a Christmas Tree tomorrow.  The BFF outdid herself yet again.  Gifts and wrapping will appear the day after.  I have told you all about shopping for gifts last year.  So, this year the focus will be different. 

Happy Holidays!! J