Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Christ-Centered Christmas Craft Advent for Young Children

Hello all! Lorene here again today, to share one of our new favorite Christmas traditions. The holiday season gets so busy, but it's also so important for us as a family to remember the purpose of the holiday, so I am always looking for easy ways to make Christ-centered and kid-friendly Christmas traditions. Last year, I stumbled upon the 25 Days of Christ and I loved it! One small problem -- they were out of stock for the season and... there's no way it would have been delivered before December 1. (Procrastination strikes again!)

Instead, I used the same scripture stories and created my own simple kids craft advent teaching all of the life of Christ. And we loved it! In about 10 minutes each night, we had a short devotional and crafted an ornament to remind us of the story we read. This all-important family time helped us learn and discuss the gospel, invite the Spirit into our home, and enjoy each others' company.

We culminated the 25 days by opening a special present on Christmas morning -- a heart-shaped tree topper to remind us that the most important gift is God's love to each one of us, given freely and not based on whether we've been "naughty or nice". Our quick devotional before we headed downstairs to open presents set the tone for the rest of the day, and sealed for us that we wanted to do this again.

So this year, I'm sharing with you, for those of you who have likewise been searching for good family traditions that don't take a lot of time, money, or energy (all of which are hard to come by these days!) The whole thing takes very few supplies (most of which you probably have on-hand, or could substitute something you have around) and you can create a new family tradition in around 10 minutes every night. I've included photos of our ornaments from last year, plus any changes or adjustments we plan to do this year. Some of the crafts were pathetically lazy/simple last year since I was 32+ weeks pregnant at the time. :)

Each day includes 
  • a short scripture selection
  • a picture (from the Gospel Art Book, which you can purchase at ldscatalog.com or access digitally with additional images here on LDS.org
  • a very simple ornament that uses common craft supplies and requires very little time to create
We also supplement most nights by reading the same scripture section out of the children's scriptures (in addition to directly from the KJV), and if you're interested in also using short videos, the 25 Days of Christ site includes great links to gospel videos (or you can access the whole Bible video library here).

For most of the advent ornament crafts, preschoolers will need some help with cutting, while older children will be able to do it on their own. I've also included some additional options to help you adapt the crafts to your children's skill and interest levels and your available materials. Print a 1-page (front and back) quick reference sheet + printable ornament templates here (or for Bible-only, here) -- which includes the each day, scripture, picture #, and craft supply list. Instructions for each craft are below.

Full details are below (just click the Read More link). Please let me know if you have any questions or if there are any corrections needed. If you do this with your family, I'd love to hear what you think and see pictures of your crafts! You can tag @iamjustlu on Instagram or email me at iamjustlu@gmail(dot)com.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Frozen Whipped Cream for Hot Chocolate with Stephen's Hot Cocoa Giveaway

There are few things I find more festive than a warm cup of hot chocolate. It reminds me of skiing all day, caroling and seeing Christmas lights. It is the perfect warm accent to any holiday party. When I am making hot chocolate for a large holiday party, I love having little dollops of whipped cream, measured out and frozen to add to the hot chocolate bar. They are easy to make, on a piece of parchment paper using a can of whipped cream. Simply pipe the whipped cream into cute little towers and freeze. Then you can add them to your hot cocoa or keep them in an airtight container in your freezer for single uses. I can't lie, they are also super delicious to just eat by themselves. Yum. 

One of my absolute favorite hot chocolate flavors is cookies n' cream. You are combining the delicious warmth of hot chocolate with the sweet flavor of cookies. I have looked and looked for an amazing recipe and I have found my favorite is actually new this year, made by Stephen's Gourmet. It is the perfect amount cookie and cream. For the perfect cup you will need:
  • 3/4 C warm milk (using milk makes it creamier)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons Stephen's Gourmet Cookie N' Cream Hot Chocolate 
  • Real Whipped Cream
  • 1 Oreo Cookie, crushed 
You can try my favorite hot chocolate combination out for yourself. Stephen's Gourmet is generously going to give two Housewife Eclectic readers three flavors of cocoa. You will get to choose from the following flavors:

  • Cookies ‘n’ Crème
  • Italian Amaretto
  • Pumpkin Spice
  • Orange Crème
  • Candycane
To enter simply head on over to Stephen’s Website and check out the assortment of Cocoa you can purchase online.  Then come back here and comment below with your favorite flavor or which new flavor you would like to try. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Hunger Games Book Jewelry

I have loved sharing my love of the Hunger Games with you this week. You can check out The Hunger Games party here, the Katniss shirt here, and the free printables here. 
To finish off a week of Hunger Games posts, I am sharing these Book Jewelry pieces. The only thing better than loving a book, is getting to bring a little piece of that book with you wherever you go. For these pieces you will need a copy of Mockingjay. I love using old book pages from my favorite books for all sorts of things. I scour thrift stores for old copies to use.  You can either cut the pieces directly out of the book, or you can photocopy the pages you want onto cardstock. Either will work. 

You will need:

  • jewelry blanks
  • a copy of Mockingjay
  • Mod Podge
  • Mod Podge Dimensional Magic
  • scissors
  • a pencil
  • tissue paper

 Using a pencil, do a rubbing of the edge of your jewelry blank. This will let you know the exact size your are looking for with the words. Use your tissue paper to place on different parts of the book to find a piece that will fit.
 Cut out your words, using the tissue paper as a guide.
 Add a thin layer of Mod Podge to your jewelry and use it to secure your book page down. Allow this to dry for about 20 minutes.
 You can use one specific part or layer the pages like this one. This is seriously my favorite layering ever. You have Katniss Everdeen, District 12, Peeta and my favorite line from the book all in one.
After your necklace is dry, add your Dimensional Magic. Start from one side and slowly work to the other filling the piece of jewelry as you go. DO NOT SHAKE the Dimensional Magic, as this causes bubbles to appear in the piece.

Watch your piece for bubbles, when bubbles appear, pop them gently with a toothpick. I have found that I can generally pop the bubbles for about the first hour or so after I have added the Dimensional Magic. Allow the entire piece to dry for 3 hours or preferably overnight.

These necklaces are so easy to make and they make a big statement. What would you want your necklace to say?
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ultimate Gift Guide Holiday Giveaway

I am so excited to be joining up with a bunch of fabulous bloggers to bring you the opportunity to win gifts for so many of the people on your Christmas list. There is a little something for everyone.

Hunger Games Free Printables

 As part of my Hunger Games party, I wanted to create some fun printables based on the books to use on the display tables and as labels for all of the different food. In the end I created three different 8x10 printables for decor and five 4x6 printables to display with the food. You can download all of them throughout this post.
For me, there is not more iconic line in Mockingjay then "I tell him real." I wanted to capture that in a simple, straightforward way, so I created these two printables for the food table. I love the Real printable so much that I plan on displaying it long after the party.
Find the "Real." Printable here
Even though the party was celebrating the release of Mockingjay, I couldn't pass up the chance to make a "May the odd be ever in your favor." printable. 
It isn't a Hunger Games party until somewhere it says "May the odds be ever in your favor." Find this printable here
The food printables all match, just different names on it one. The names on these printables include Mockingjay Wings, "Peeta" Bread with hummus, Nightlock Berries, Girl on Fire Cupcakes and Caesar Flickerman salad. 
You can download a printable PDF of the food labels here. These printables are for personal non-commercial use only. When sharing please direct people to the original post on Housewife Eclectic. 

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Easy Katniss Shirt and Baby Hunger Games Pictures

If there is one thing that Marissa from Rae Gun Ramblings and I love to do, it is to photograph our babies dressed up in cute costumes. We have down Harry Potter, Frozen and now we bring you The Hunger Games. I have to say, this is one of my favorites. I loved making these easy and fun Katniss shirt for my little one, I think I need to make one in my size! Scroll down passed the shirt instructions to see more images from the baby shoot! 

You will need
  • A black shirt
  • Gold Glitter Heat Transfer, I used the Cricut brand found here
  • a cutting machine (I used a Cricut Explore, but any machine or even an x acto knife would work)
  • Mockingjay Silhouette 

 If you are using a machine, start a new project in your design software. Pull the Mockingjay Silhouette image into your software and trace. Add the number 12 to your design in a chunky font. For my baby, who is six months old the 12s were about 1 inch high, and the Mockingjay was about 2 inches tall.

Glitter vinyl is thicker than normal vinyl, so make sure you up the depth on your machine before you cut. On the Cricut Explore I turned the dial to the highest iron-on setting and it did the trick. Make sure to mirror (flip) all of your images before you cut iron on.
Weed out the negative image, leaving you with the Mockingjay and the number 12. Preheat your iron to its highest setting. Place the 12s on the sleeves and the Mockingjay off to one side on the shirt. Iron each piece onto the shirt for about 30 seconds. Peel up the plastic, if any part of the design comes up with the plastic iron the entire piece for another 30 seconds.
 Add some black pants and a dollar store bow and you have one darling little Katniss. When Marissa said she wanted our next photo shoot to be Hunger Games themed, I assumed we would be photographing a baby Katniss and Peeta, which we did eventually, but first we had to capture some pictures of Katniss with the pig from the first movie. Isn't he a cute little piggy?
For the baby pictures this time around we did several different set ups. We did Katniss and the Pig and then Katniss and Peeta with weapons. Make sure if you do a similar shoot that you only use good quality play weapons that have very blunt edges. We used the weapons that Marissa's husband uses in his music shows and they were perfect, foam and hollow plastic. They gave the right look of the games while being very safe.

This last picture just melts my heart. Baby Peeta knew that Baby Katniss needed some bread. How could she not love the boy with the bread? For this picture we literally handed them a loaf of bread and just let them play.
As always with baby pictures, make sure you watch them closely and always stay within arms's length.
Are you excited for Mockingjay Part 1? If you want your own Mockingjay Swag enter Rae Gun Ramblings Hunger Games Giveaway below.

Step2 Spin & Go Xtreme Cruiser Giveaway

Today I am thrilled to bring you a giveaway for one of this year's hot holiday toys! Enter below!

Welcome to the Step2 Spin & Go Xtreme Cruiser Giveaway, hosted by Thrifty Nifty Mommy and Viva Veltoro and sponsored by Step2!

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