Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to Make an Advent Wreath

Today we are preparing for upcoming Thanksgiving festivities and I am so looking forward to slowing down and just enjoying time with family. I wanted to make sure to share this tutorial with you before things got too hectic in case you were planning on celebrating advent this year. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

As I packed away Christmas last year, I was thinking about what I wanted to do differently the next year. I knew that Christmas would be even more exciting for Ethan as a three year old and that Santa and all the other glittery things would really be grabbing his attention. Our main goal as a family is to keep Christmas Christ focused and one of the ways I hope to instill that is through a family advent wreath. 

I grew up in the Methodist church where we celebrated advent on the Sundays leading up to Christmas. We never had an advent wreath within my home growing up, but I love the idea of doing this with our family now.

This is our first year celebrating advent within our home and I'm looking forward to what takes place and how it will evolve over the years to come. This year we plan on doing a short biblical reading every night at dinner and talking to Ethan about what Christmas is really all about. There are many beautiful ways to celebrate advent with your family depending on the age. I searched the internet for a reading guide hopefully aimed towards young children and came across this lovely plan from Part of the Main. She uses the Playmobil Nativity Set along with her readings which I think is a fantastic idea. We do not have this particular set, but I think next year that will be a must.

Making an advent wreath is such a simple and inexpensive project. There are several ways out there in Pinterest-land to do them, but I thought I'd share my version with you. I do plan on remaking my wreath each year. You can buy metal advent wreath forms to reuse each year, but I wanted a little creative wiggle room to do my own thing. Here is what you will need for my version…

I bought my supplies at Hobby Lobby which regularly has items at 1/2 price. The greenery came from my backyard and I also used some floral picks I had leftover that are not pictured here. 

The traditional advent candle colors are purple and pink. I chose all off white solely so it would match the rest of my decor. If you want the traditional colors they do sell them at Hobby Lobby as well as a group. The 5th candle is optional. It is the Christ candle that is lit Christmas day.

Step One: Create your layout.

Arrange your candles on the florist foam. Once you have them spaced the way you like, put a little pressure on them and wiggle them down into the foam to create a hole. Remove the candles, fill the holes with hot glue and then place your candles back in. I did not do this procedure with the center candle since it is stable on its own. Carefully place the foam and candle piece into the bowl.

Step Two: Cover Florist Foam

I used moss since I already had it laying around. You could use a variety of different materials or possibly get away with nothing if you have enough filler. I just don't like to see any foam peeking through.

Step 3: Create your greenery bundles.

I like using a variety of textures and thankfully we have several in my backyard. I used a little of the Christmas tree, a few branches of a shrub and some of a variegated holly tree. I made three bundles using florist wire to keep everything together. 

Step 4: Place the bundles in the bowl.

This step is pretty self explanatory ;). I regretted using the holly around this point as it is extremely pokey. This is one Christmas decoration that has it's own self defense mechanisms, which will probably come in handy with the toddler about. 

Step 5: Jazz it up with some floral picks.

You could have stopped at Step 4, but then you would miss out on the glitter. Something about Christmas just screams glitter so I couldn't resist. I just placed a few floral picks around to cover up any remaining holes. And that is it! 

**Obviously all of these materials are flammable. I plan on only having the candles lit at dinner so it will always be attended. Please keep this in mind if you make your own.** 

How does your family celebrate advent? Do you have any favorite reading guides you use?

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Operation Get Fit Update

I'm definitely a turtle when it comes to...well anything really. I eat slow, I achieve slow and apparently I "get fit" slow. In case you are wondering, it's been since September that I did an Operation Get Fit update. If you are new-ish here, it's gone something like this…I had  a baby (last December), did a Dr. Oz Cleanse (in July) and a little hot yoga and calorie counting (in September)


For Comparison…


Waist: (Above belly button) 26in (-5in)*Total inches lost
                                              (At belly button because I feel this is my trouble spot) 33.5 in (-3.5in)
Hips: 36in (-3in)
Thighs: 21in (-1in)
Calves: 14.5in (-.5in)
Arms: 10.5in (-.5in)
Weight: -11lbs (3-ish pounds to go!)

I'm at a happy weight number-wise. I'm 2 pounds below where I was pre-Ethan and 9 pounds more than where I was pre-Jackson. I've got 3 pounds to be at goal weight but I'm pretty much there. 

Diet-wise, I've stopped counting calories. We have made the switch to *mostly* clean eating. In full disclosure we do still eat out (including fast food) from time to time. I've never been one to swear off anything fully, but we have cut down on eating out quite a bit. It's amazing how unfulfilling fast food is once you start eating clean. As far as what we are eating at home, we have been using eMeals to plan our lunches and dinner and I've been loving it. It is so nice to have a shopping list and menu all planned out for you with healthy options that fit your dietary needs. Seriously, the amount of time I've saved is worth every penny and it didn't even cost me that many pennies. I found a great deal on Groupon that will be covering all of 2014's lunch and dinner plans. 

eMeals - Easy Meals for Busy People!

My stomach is still my trouble spot. I've discovered that my abs are still pretty severely separated. I'm planning on seeing our family doctor to discuss what the best course of action is around the first of the year. For now, I'm not doing any particular ab exercises in fear that I will worsen the situation. So, I'm at a standstill really. It's disheartening, but at the moment, it's just something beyond my control. 

I may not be where I want to be, but I do feel 75% back to normal I'd say. Last time I checked that was passing. I'll continue on cleaning up my eating and hopefully get some sort of plan for this ab situation around the first of the year. 

For now, I'll just keep reminding myself of this..."Slow and steady wins the race.".

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Painted Mason Jars

If you are like me and have joined in on the Mason jar obsession that has taken place over the last several years, you probably have a good quantity of mason jars stashed away in the closet after using them at one party or another just waiting to be used again. I've been dying to change up the decor in my house, but since I don't have a ton of extra spare cash laying around at the moment, I'm having to make do with what I've already got. 

I actually painted these mason jars with intention of using them at Ethan's 3rd birthday, but they became the perfect fall (and now Christmas) decor for my kitchen table. I'm thinking about adding a burlap and lace for spring and maybe doing a group of them on my mantle.

Can I confess something? I really thought this project was going to be a big fat Pinterest fail. Please tell me I'm not the only one that has those? 

The instructions said: Pour in paint, roll to cover jar and turn upside down to dry and drain excess paint.

Um, maybe it was because I did this project outside, you know, in the elements and not inside but the majority of my paint drained off…not just the excess.

(Sorry, I stopped taking pictures at this point.)

So. In case I'm not the only one who screws up the simplest of things. Here is what worked for me…

Use a paint brush to paint on a thin layer of acrylic paint (I wanted an antique white so I used white with a tiny bit of yellow mixed in). Let that dry…I did turn mine over just so there wasn't any build up in the bottom. Then go back and add another thin layer. Don't get impatient…if you do too much it will pull off the "dried" paint. So, just add thin layers each time. Just keep adding layers until everything is covered properly. That is it.

This method is a tiny bit more time consuming than the roll and drain method, but hey…the paint stays on and I consider that a win!

This project has been linked to: House of Rose, Lamberts Lately, Living Well Spending Less, The Girl Creative

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

5 Reasons I'm Breaking My "No Christmas Before Thanksgiving" Rule

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday hands down. No gifts just family and food. Always a winner in my book. I've rolled my eyes countless times over seeing Christmas out way before its time. "Commercialism" as Charlie Brown would say is determined to ruin Thanksgiving…and Christmas, but that's another post for another day. And here I am, mid November with my house fully decorated (minus the tree). Who am I?

P.S. These lights lasted a day before I blew out our electrical outlet. Apparently it's not so awesome to plug in 16 power cords to one timer and then plug the one timer into an outlet. Hopefully my Handy Dandy Husband will have them back and running up our electric bill soon.

Honestly? I blame it all on Jack. This sweet tiny bundle of joy made his appearance December 14th last year and required me to do all things Christmas EARLY. Now…I'm addicted.

5 Reasons I'm Breaking My "No Christmas Before Thanksgiving" Rule

{One} Less Stress

In years past I've truly been a "bah-humbug-er". I know it's terrible to say, but Christmas stresses me out. There is so much to do in so little time and my perfectionism (and sometimes my cynicism) gets in the way of me having a good time with it. I never properly plan for a smooth Christmas and starting early cures some of that. Knowing I have the decorating out of the way is a biggie for me. Seriously this holiday basically requires you to pack up half your house and put decor out. It's a job. The more time I have to do it, the better.

{Two} The Toddler Needs to Get His Mind Right

"What's Santa going to bring you?". That question needs to go to die right now. I'm not completely anti Santa, but it's so freaking hard to get a toddler to grasp the concept that Christmas is not all about presents when that is what's constantly thrown in his face. Having the Christmas decor out brought on the "I want presents!" antics and I'm tying that in quite nicely with Thanksgiving at the moment. We are blessed. Be thankful child. Think of others. It's a work in progress.

{Three} It's A Short Season

Has anyone looked at the calendar this year? Christmas comes fast this time around. Like I mentioned before…decorating is a lot of work. I want it to be worth it! 

{Four} Frees Up Time for More Fun

Now that I have the busy work out of the way, we have time to enjoy it. I can now shift my focus to fun Christmas activities after Thanksgiving. I have so many things I want to do with the littles and I want our weekends to be filled with fun not preparation.

{Five} Everything Takes Longer with Little Kids

I don't think I'll be decorating before Thanksgiving forever. This season of life is just…busy. Everything we do takes 10x longer than normal at the moment. We need one weekend to get the tree and another to decorate it. Un-decorating my house and redecorating requires several days because of little hands that like to "help" or destroy. We can only pack so many fun activities into one day or even one weekend without melt downs from either the kids or the adults. Right now, extra time…is such a blessing.

As they say…"never say never". Sorry Thanksgiving. I love you. I really truly do, please just look the other way as I try to save my sanity. 

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Five on Friday



I have a secret. I've been desperately behind the times. Until yesterday…I had...a dumb phone. That's right folks. If you hadn't already suspected from my subpar photos, I've been instagramming (find me under mythoughtsuninterrupted) from the iPad while I patiently waited for my dumb phone to kick the bucket. It hung in there longer than any other phone I have ever had, but finally my husband considered it dysfunctional when I had to resort to talking on it only through speakerphone. Hence it's retirement. I was pretty much dancing around singing "It's a whole new world!" yesterday. I know, I know…but seriously. I had to wait forever.

I know I'm still technically behind the times, but for me…major upgrade!

So now, I need to know from all you experts…

Favorite apps? Best cases? I'm an iPhone dummy…enlighten me!


Although I've always been against Christmas before Thanksgiving, I've discovered that with young kids it is best to start early. It just takes so much time to do everything anymore and it's nice to have some things out of the way like buying presents and decorating. This week I've managed to get up most everything minus the tree and I plan on doing the lights outside this weekend. I've got some fun Christmas crafts to share soon! Here is a canvas I completed yesterday to go behind my nativity scene. Be on the look out for a tutorial!


I haven't ordered my Christmas cards yet. For some reason I'm just not feeling it this year which is so odd because sending mass amounts of cards/invitations in the mail makes me unreasonably happy. Mail is my favorite. Real mail. 

I'm thinking of possibly trying to do a card that gives profits to charity, but I haven't found the right one yet. I typically always do a photo card, but our last family session was in August and I feel like all the pictures have been seen. I like the element of surprise. When it costs so much to order and send cards…it should be something people haven't seen before. Who knows…maybe I'll try to do a mini photo shoot with the kids myself. That should go well. 


Have you tried Dunkin Donuts Turbo Coffee? Um, we bought it because there was no regular left and seriously…it has cut me back to one cup a day. The first day I had it I'm pretty sure my husband thought I was on something more than just coffee. Let's just say I got lots done. It's my new favorite.


J's turning one is 30 days!! How did that happen??? From the moment I found out about him I've worried about how to handle his birthday being right smack dab before Christmas. So, I'm pretending he was born in January. No really, pretty sure I will always throw his party a month late. Maybe it's wrong, but I feel like this will be less stressful and that more focus will be put on him. And also? I couldn't stand for there to be Christmas decor up at every single birthday because winter babies have house parties right? I'm a theme girl and I don't want to always be working around the Christmas theme. And yes, this years theme has been picked. I decided on it way before his birth actually. 

A little flashback...

Happy Friday Ya'll! 

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Red Tractor Party - (A Birthday Party that Almost Never Happened)

I've been hearing about a "red tractor cake" for over a year now. Yes, seriously. What seemed like moments after I had disassembled everything from his 2nd birthday party, Ethan told me that he wanted a "red tractor cake" for his 3rd birthday. 

I was happy. 

All the effort of party planning had paid off. It had clicked that I had done it all for him. 

He felt special.

I'd check in from time to time to see if he still wanted the "red tractor". I just knew that at some point he would change his mind. 

I should have known better. He is me made over and when we make our mind up about something…it sticks.

He would tell random strangers that he was going to have a red tractor cake for his birthday. It came up in conversation time and time again over the year.

The pressure was on. 

I desperately wanted to scale back this year. After throwing 2 pretty elaborate (to me) parties in a row, I was ready to do something simple and it just so happened we had a family wedding to attend in New Orleans on Ethan's birthday.

Not many kids get a New Orleans birthday at the tender age of 3.

I reached out to a blogger friend there to help me pick the perfect place. I invited extended family to join us and placed an order for very special red tractor cake.

The day before we were scheduled to leave, sickness hit (and dare I say it hasn't left us even 7 weeks later). We had to cancel. 

I hoped he wouldn't notice. I made plans for us to visit all the grandparents for another party two weeks later. Another out of town location picked, another tractor cake planned.

Two weeks later we were hit with bronchitis. Again…we canceled.

We attended two little friends birthdays and each time he would talk about how excited he was to have a "red tractor cake" at his party. Each time he mentioned it, my heart broke.

I felt like I was letting him down. I felt like I had built him up only to disappoint. People kept telling me that he would just forget. But I know my son. That was not going to happen. 

Finally, over the weekend, we threw a joint birthday party at our home for Ethan and his Papa. It was simple. There were only 5 in attendance counting us. He was sad that not everyone was there and for that, I am sorry, but sometimes things just can't be helped. 

He watched me bring out all the party supplies. His eyes lit up at the sight of balloons and other party decor being laid out. He brightly exclaimed "It's my party now!"

The poor thing. It had been such a wait.

A weak rendition of "Happy Birthday" was sung, candles were lit and a tractor cake was presented.

He smiled from ear to ear and music hit my ears when I heard Ethan say "I like my red tractor cake mama. My party over now.".

Yes son…until next year.

**To see our other parties click here.**

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just Be Still

I'm a fidgety person I guess you could say. My mind is usually racing from one thing to another. It doesn't necessarily mean that I'm being productive, I guess sometimes I just prefer to be busy. 

I've noticed though that "busy" usually means I'm missing things. Missing moments. Even the moments I think I'm present in, I'm typically not. 

I have a hard time just sitting with my kids. I find myself looking around at all the things that need to be done or use their contentment as an opportunity to sneak away and get something done. I guess that is what happens when you are with them all day…you start to take them for granted. It sounds horrible when I write it out like that, but I find confessions freeing, so there it is. 

Even when I do decide to just be with them. To enjoy the moment. I typically pick up the camera to "remember the moment". The problem is…I'm not really present. I'm not really taking it in. I'm just there. 

I've been trying to get myself refocused. I'm trying to still myself. I'm trying to still my mind, open my eyes to really see and feel things. 

It's not easy. 

I skipped cleaning the kitchen last night to just sit and play with my kids. Actually, I didn't even play with them. I just sat in the middle of the floor and watched them play together. I soaked it up. I talked myself out of grabbing my camera yesterday during Jack's bath because I knew it would shift my focus. He was so freaking cute I just wanted to record it so I could have it forever. But, I realized I needed to experience the now. I didn't want to just see it through a lens.

I've been participating in the 30 Days of Thanks on Facebook. I know some people are all "meh" about it, but it's been a wonderful opportunity to refocus things for myself. I so often forget to be thankful for the small things and a lot of times, those small things are truly the big things in life. Before the busy-ness of the holiday season kicks in I'm trying to retrain myself to be still. To really open my eyes. And in return, I'm pretty sure it's going to open my heart.

Please take a second and hit the "Like" button. You can follow my 30 Days of Thanks posts there if you can stomach all the joy.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Are you new here?


I've had quite a few new faces around here lately and with the launch of Knoxville Moms Blog this morning, I'm expecting (and humbly hoping) I might have a few more. I am so excited to be connecting with so many other moms both near and far. It truly brings joy to my life and comfort to my day. My hope, is that my blog can bring comfort to yours. 

Credit: Overbay Photography

I'd like to think I'm a pretty honest mama (you can find out more about me and my family in the Our Story tab up top). I blog through all the joys of parenthood along with the not so fabulous times. Through parenting fails and potty training to mama struggles and parenting sweet spots, I try to keep it real around these parts in hope that other mamas can have a place to relate. Click on the Parenting 101 tab located on the right side bar to read some of my more popular parenting posts which are really more like war stories with a few tips thrown in every now and then. 

I've always dreamed of being a SAHM and while that comes with it's own challenges I love being here for my kiddos everyday and being able to express my inner homemaker. That's not to suggest in any way that I'm fabulous at it…more than likely when I've whipped up a delicious recipe or made some sort of craft…I can guarantee my home isn't quite visitor ready…seriously, I don't do drop overs. Love ya, but call before you come! Click on the All Things Home tab to find my Home Organization Notebook, favorite recipes and  home decor. I also have a passion for party planning so be sure to check out the Our Parties tab as well!

I hope that you are now a somewhat more acquainted with my little home here on the world wide web! Please be sure to say hello and if you blog or have your own little space on the web (shop, business or whatever really), be sure to leave a link. I'd love to virtually meet you! Be sure to check me out on Facebook as well where I'm currently participating in the 30 days of Thanks challenge and always sharing bits of our everyday. You can follow my posts there or through bloglovin. You can also subscribe via email (just put in your email address under the Follow Us header towards the top of the right hand sidebar)

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Friday, November 1, 2013

5 on Friday



After all my complaining about October, we actually had a fabulous Halloween. I can't tell you how excited I was that Ethan actually got to experience some real trick or treating. I think he will be super pumped next year! After all, the boy is just like his mama and anything involving sugar will get him excited. And can I just say that candy-tax is ah-mazing…sorry kid, everyone has gotta pay up :) He won't even know it's missing. Seriously, though…rationing this stuff is going to be hard on the little guy.


We started doing emeals about 3 weeks ago and I have to say I am loving it! I thought the control freak and self professed food snob in me would hate being assigned meals every week, but I have been so impressed with the recipes and the way the food has turned out that I honestly don't mind. We are currently on the Clean Eating plan and the Healthy Lunch plan and I couldn't be happier. It's made meal planning and dinner time so much easier and of course, healthier! It has been so nice to cut fast food out of our diet (except when we are in a pinch) and I'm already feeling healthier. Is it saving us money? I think time will tell. 

eMeals - Easy Meals for Busy People!


I found this body wash about a month ago at Target and I'm so glad I did. It is the Organix Teatree and Peppermint Body wash and it is amazing! I love how clean it makes you feel. It even gives you that tingle effect which, of course means it's working right? 

  Organix Teatree Body Wash, Peppermint


The cable cords are officially cut! Hello $90/mo. savings!

I've had a few people ask questions about this process/decision and I'm thinking about writing a full review once we have experienced this a little more. If you have any questions please ask and I will try to answer them in the review or via email!


I'm not sure how many Knoxville neighbors I have reading, but if you are local, you need to check out the new Knoxville City Mom's blog that is launching on Monday! I'm excited to be joining 8 other amazing women as a contributor for the blog and will be attending many of the local events. Come check us out on Facebook for more info. We've got our first play-date scheduled for next week and lots of other upcoming events and giveaways planned. I'd love to meet you in person! Here is the KMB team...

You guys rock! Last week you helped me reach over 150 likes!!! THANK YOU. Hit the "Like" button to help keep this blog growing...

**Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you click them, I might be paid a few cents for recommending them. All opinions are honest.**
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