Archives for December 2012

Because What’s Not To Love About Free

A couple of months ago Nester posted some free printable artwork on her blog. I loved it so much that I immediately printed it, and then I went to Walmart and bought a frame for $3.00. Now said print resides on a table in our living room next to my beloved yellow lamp.

See? It’s a profoundly moving free printable love story, now isn’t it?

Anyway, I love me some funky typography / whimsical designs / colorful artwork, which is why my house looks like a cross between a children’s art gallery and a 1970’s estate sale. I just think we can get way too uptight about thinking that artwork has to be perfectly preserved and perfectly framed and perfectly matched to the other stuff in our houses. My viewpoint on this particular decorative issue probably doesn’t come as a surprise considering that I have a tendency to thumbtack stuff to my walls while I’m trying to figure out if it’s a keeper or not. Sometimes I even leave the keepers thumbtacked to my walls. Because if you haven’t noticed, I tend to like a healthy dose of eclectic.

(By the way, when I was trying to decide on a book cover, I showed three proofs to some friends at dotMOM this past September. And when Kelly said, “You know what? I think that second one looks like something that would be hanging on the wall in your house,” I thought, Oh. She is exactly right. And that ended up being the one that I picked.)

(That was a riveting tale, wasn’t it?)

(Sorry for the digression.)

So. I know that my personal taste isn’t for everyone. In fact, I know that my personal taste would probably drive a lot of folks straight up their very orderly and coordinated walls.

BUT.

I have found that “free” tends to share some fairly universal appeal. And since I have run across all sorts of great free printables on Pinterest and other websites, I thought I’d pass along a few links today in case some of y’all are looking for the magical free printable + $3 picture frame combo. Personally I have been tickled to pieces with the free artwork I’ve found online, and that free artwork has led me to bookmark several artists’ Etsy shops and purchase some additional lovely prints for our walls.

It’s always good to remember, though, that just because a poster or illustration is posted on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s free for the rest of us to print out and enjoy (even if we love it so deeply that we’re thinking of naming it and claiming it on our taxes). Make sure to click through the links and check the sources. Due diligence, etc. and so on and so forth.

That being said, here are some for real freebies.

The Fruit of the Spirit free printable

Wise Men free printable

Philippians 2:4 free printable

O Holy Night free printable (scroll down post until you see Raw Art Letterpress)

Unto Us A Child Is Born free printable

“Let all that you do…” free printable

Work Hard & Be Nice to People free printable

Peace on Earth free printable

“In all things give thanks” free printable

“Awake my soul…” free printable

All righty. That should keep you busy for a little while.

Hope you find something real purty for your house – preferably something that makes you and your people smile.

Happy weekend, everybody.

Decking The Halls And Walls And Etc.

A few weeks ago, one morning when I was in the process of leaving a meeting and then running to Starbucks and then heading back to work again, I had the strangest, most unexpected realization:

I want to have a Christmas party.

I mean, I didn’t just want to have one. I wanted to throw one. At my house. For people I know. So we could hang out and talk and be merry and whatnot.

But here’s the thing: I’m not much of a party-thrower. We used to have people over for dinner all the time – almost every weekend, in fact – but we’ve gotten out of the habit the last few years (and I say “we,” but I really mean “I,” because D is forever saying, “We should have them over for dinner,” and I’m forever saying, “But I am so very tired,” and the end). I try to give myself a break about it because the last year has been a little, um, full between taking care of my people and working at my regular job and writing a book and managing to find something clean to wear every day, but I very much miss that feeling of getting the house ready and cooking a bunch of food and laughing my head off and then not even minding the clean-up process because it was so. much. fun.

I’m now concerned that y’all think that I’ve turned into some sort of hermit, so please know that I haven’t. I mean, I could. But I haven’t. And we entertain our families all the time. I’m just talking about having a gathering of people who aren’t necessarily related to D or me. That is all. Plus, I think that writing a book is sort of an isolating deal – it is a LOT of time rambling around inside your head – and now that I’m finished with it, I am craving time with people. I want to cook food for people. I want to hear people laugh in my house.

So. Guess what I’m doing next week? I’m having a Christmas party. Just a girls’ night kind of deal for friends from Bible study and work. I thought about doing a big, grown-up, couples party for about three minutes, and then I decided that it would stress me out. A girls’ night seems like an easier place to start with the holiday entertaining (at least for me). So I’m cooking some stuff and a few people are bringing some stuff and I. CANNOT. WAIT. It’s made decorating the house so much more fun – just because I know I’m going to get to share it all with sweet friends.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to show off this particular bit of their Christmas decor?

Could anything possibly be more welcoming and inviting than an armless monkey stocking holder?

I THINK NOT.

Are you doing any special entertaining this year during the holidays? Do you have any go-to party traditions?

(Besides your own personal armless monkey stocking holder, of course.)

(It only stands to reason that it would be an integral part of your entertaining routine.)

20 Gifts Under $20 For Teenage Girls

I’ve mentioned before that one of the biggest blessings of my whole life is that I get to hang out with some darlin’ teenage girls every single week. They make me laugh and keep me young and are basically my only hope in terms of staying remotely fashionable (along with Melanie, of course).

I don’t write about the girls well, ever, since it’s always seemed like a good idea to keep their stories and issues and whathaveyou far, far away from the blog. But when it comes to gift ideas, I definitely share their opinions. I think it’s super-hard to know how to buy for girls / young women from, say, middle school- to college-age, and I figure that I can’t be the only one who thinks that. So I make a point to ask lots of questions and listen carefully when the girls are talking about what they think is oh-so-sassy. And then I make a list.

Just FYI: there aren’t any affiliate links in this list. Not that there’s anything wrong with affiliate links. But if I’m going to eavesdrop on a bunch of 17 year-olds, I figure it’s better if I don’t make a commission off of my nosiness. Call me crazy.

1. Silipada Dream Sign Bracelet – My sister-in-law gave me one of these for my birthday (granted, I am not in fact a teenager, but this is a bracelet that works for all ages), and I haven’t taken it off since. It’s so lightweight that you don’t even know that you’re wearing it, but I can tell you that I look down at it several times a day and smile. Dreaming is sort of counter-intuititive to my personality, so in a strange way, this bracelet encourages me. Delightful.

2. Silipada Simple Blessings Bracelet – I love this one, too!

3. Key to Kindness necklace

4. Dangle Stone hoops in brown

5. Write Everyday Agenda – I know that we have calendars on our phones and our computers and whatnot, but I am still so partial to a calendar that I can carry around with me and write in with Sharpies. Old school, you know.

6. Emi-Jay hair ties

Listen. I haven’t worn my hair in a ponytail since 1988, so I didn’t even know what an Emi-Jay hair tie was until the girls told me. But according to them, these particular hair ties are ALL THE RAGE – and the headbands, too.

7. Kate Spade iPhone 5 Paisley Hardshell Case – If you’re buying for a girly-girl and present her with this phone case, you will be THE HIT OF CHRISTMAS. No doubt about it.

8. Landlord of the Dance Slipper Socks

9. Country House Earbuds in Nesting Dolls

10. Micah 6:8 Typography Poster – I may get this for my own house. And since it’s a standard size, it’s easy to pick up a frame at Target or Hobby Lobby and create a gift that looks completely custom.

11. BDG Convertible Glove

12. Boot Cuffs with Buttons

13. Freeset Farmhouse tote bag with sari trim – Everybody needs tote bags, and these particular ones have a greater good attached. Plus, they’re super-roomy and durable, too.

14. Small Flap Crossbody Bag in gold – The crossbody bags are big – HUGE – with the 21-and-under set. So if you happen to run across one that you think is cute, I can almost guarantee you that it will be well-received by the lucky girl who gets to keep it.

15. Nick & Nora Vienna Woods Pajama Pant

16. Mr. Boddington’s Penguin Classics, Pride & Prejudice

17. Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot by Annie Downs

18. Graceful: Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life by Emily Freeman

19. Smashbox Studio Pop for Eyes – Because playing around with eye make-up is fun. I don’t care how old you are.

20. Crabtree & Evelyn Citron, Honey, & Coriander Mini 60 Second Fix for Hands – I think scented stuff is a super-personal gift, and I usually shy away from it for that reason. However, this particular Crabtree & Evelyn scent seems to be universally adored. It’s light, lemon-y, and just a tiny bit herb-y. Delightful.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

20 Books That The Kids In Your Life Might Enjoy

Earlier this week PamB left a comment and asked if I’d put together a list of books for kids. Since I happen to know a nine year-old boy who loves to read and who keeps his mama in the know about all of his favorite books, I figured I was up to the task. There are stacks of his books all over this house, and while sometimes I sigh a little bit when I move the piles from room to room, I am always tickled to hear the little guy mention how much he’s enjoying whatever he happens to be reading.

So. Here are twenty books that A. has enjoyed a whole bunch this past year. Lots of these books are part of a series, so if you do a little clicking on Amazon, you’ll see the other books in the series, too. I tried to make a list that goes beyond the normal favorites (Narnia, Harry Potter, etc.) and that’s very much geared to the older elementary / middle school set. As a mama I like to see A. reading a mix of classics as well as books that are just flat-out fun to read, but I definitely think that this list errs on the side of fun. Christmas is coming, after all.

Just FYI: these aren’t affiliate links. These are just links for books that I wanted to share. So there you have it.

1. The Action Bible (I’m putting this one first because it has hands-down been Alex’s favorite this past year. I’ve lost count of how many times he’s read it. And oh, has it ever prompted some interesting conversations. It’s a FANTASTIC resource for adventure-minded kids.)

2. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

3. Darth Paper Strikes Back

4. The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee

5. The Third Wheel

6. Worst Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure: Amazon

7. Justin Case: Smells, Smells, and the Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom

8. Big Nate Makes the Grade

9. The Hardy Boys (Starter Set)

10. The Name of this Book Is Secret (and the rest of The Secret Series)

11. Herbert’s Wormhole: The Rise and Fall of El Solo Libre

12. A to Z Mysteries Series

13. Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey, Young Reader’s Edition

14. Who Was Neil Armstrong? (this whole series has been a big hit in our house)

15. Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy: Amazing Voyage

16. Calvin and Hobbes

17. Wonkenstein: The Creature from My Closet

18. Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark

19. The Great Rabbit Rescue

20. Garfield Fat Cat 3-Pack

If you have any additional suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!