Monday, November 30, 2009

Gobble, gobble

Hope you and yours had a blessed Thanksgiving full of family, laughter and lots of calories! ;)

I'll be back super soon with some Christmas goodness, updates on Big Sister's Nutcracker "Sweet" birthday party planning and lots more. I've got a couple of long work days ahead and some preparation for one of our longest Christmas traditions at the Semi-Homemade House.... Mom's Weekend! Until then... hurry and try to cash in on the millions of deals my dear friend Sasha has found for us! I just ordered Big Sis the PBK Mermaid beach towel with her name on it for her birthday! Shhhh.....don't tell!
~~~~Okay, so I just went back and ordered the Shark beach towel for G-man. They're $9.99 with FREE SHIPPING and FREE MONOGRAMMING! Hell, I'm tempted to buy them for all our friends' kids and the neighbor kids and my nephews and nieces... okay, someone stop me. ;)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2009 Holiday Gift Guide goes recession proof!

As I was thumbing thru my new InStyle mag a few nights ago, I caught myself looking the the (beautiful! stylish! fun!) items and thinking... I can't believe how much all of this costs! I struggled to find one item I'd actually consider giving as a gift this year. My, how my thoughts and buying habits have changed in the last year and a half!

But Cool Mom Picks is on top of that! This year, they've included 100+ awesome gifts and they're making it easier AND more affordable! They've included tons of shopping discount codes (because, really... who shops without one these days?) and an 'Under $20' pick in every category. They even have an entire list of cool kiddo gifts for less than $12. It's like they 'get' me!!

They have gift ideas for everyone from your baby to your nephew to your dad, your neighbor, etc!

A few of my faves:

For the Future Rock Star: Personalized coloring books! I love the rocker one... but they also have a mermaid one that's right up Big Sis's alley (if there are 2 things she loves... it's coloring and Ariel!)

For the Future Food Network Star: Totally mod handmade apron. This is sooo cute! (Btw, I'm in the market for up to 20 CHEAP aprons.... would love to use them for Big Sis's bday party, if it works out. Anyone?)

For your sister, best friend, mom: Shabby chic picture frame. Okay, so the frame is a generic gift. But it's one I still love to get (esp if the frame is cute!)

For the preschooler who does NOT need another toy (esp a big, plastic one that takes up an entire room: Custom Rubber Stamp. I'm totally ordering this for Big Sis. Given her love of stickers, I think she'd be all over a stamp. And I won't be 'sticker shopping' nonstop.

So, check out this year's gift guide to find almost anything (including personalized necklaces with your twitter name - hilarious! Also many ways to give charitable gifts!)
Happy Thanksgiving - we're on our way up North (to OK, lol!) Oh, and happy shopping, too! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And we have a winner!

Okay, so I didn't win the contest at Design Dazzle (but thanks to y'all, I did get 175 votes - wow!!) The winning concept was these rain gutter bookshelves from Raising Olives. Kimberly is expecting her 10th!! child and homeschools them - super mom!!

But.... I am excited to announce that one of MY voters was a big winner!!

Heather, be sure to contact Toni at Design Dazzle to collect your prize of $50 to Design Dazzle and $50 to Woobie Wear!

Hope y'all have a blessed Thanksgiving. We're heading to OK tomorrow, so not sure if I'll get a chance to blog during the weekend or not.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas comes to Etsy & LAST DAY to vote!

These are a few of my favorite things....
I'm going to try to feature as many great holiday items from Etsy as I have time to find! This week, I'm focusing on ornaments and home decor!

In the Semi-Homemade house, we have a tradition that we pick out 1-2 new ornaments each year that symbolize the year. A cowboy and a chili pepper the year we moved to Texas, for example. I'm alway looking for the perfect new ornaments! And I've found some - it's going to be very difficult to pick this year!

This year, I'm all about custom details and personalization. Which is why I love these modern ornaments from Art by Kristi. Love 'em!

This monogram ornament would be perfect for the tiny pink & green tree I'm going to do this year for Big Sis (watch for pics to come - I'm decorating her tree on a super strict budget!) Susie is an absolute sweetheart, and she's the heart and talent behind the shop, my flip flopz.

This ornament sign would be perfect for any "first" Christmas - baby's, couple's, wedding! Love the vintage look! Find it in My Primitive Boutique.

Speaking of 'first' ornaments.... most of you will not be surprised to hear that I didn't get G-man a 'baby's first Christmas' ornament last year. And that's because I never found that perfect one.... and I didn't want to settle! (okay, and I ran out of time!) But this year, I've totally found it. I'm ordering the Custom Photo Ornament by kkhoff11. You customize 4 sides of the ornament with pictures and text, and you pick the colors to coordinate to your tree. I love it so much, I'm thinking about getting a matching one for Big Sis!!

This year, I'm looking for a couple new stand-out items to add to my classic decorations - something new that will change how I look at everything (without spending much!)

Here is more by my flip flopz - I love this Southern holiday sign! I've had my eye on it for ages... Hurry and stop by her shop today to take advantage of her sample sale!

Amanda at Imperfectly Beautiful is such a sweet, supportive gal. Oh, and she makes some really cool stuff, too! She's got tons of cute wooden words, but I love this Joy - the fresh colors, fun prints, whimsical look! SO cute! And she's got a great sale going until Dec 1!

Y'all know how I love decals! Check out this ho, ho, ho by Urban Expressions.

I talked to The Homespun Raven when I was planning the Semi-Homemade Haunted Halloween party. She was great to work with and I look forward to making a purchase with her. I love this pink sign!

I've been wanting to make a semi-homemade advent calendar, and just haven't gotten to it. (Honestly, I might have to buy a simple one this year and leave that project for 2010.) I love this idea - it's amazing! You customize the 24 Advent Pouches by choosing the ribbon color and font.

The contest at the amazing Design Dazzle ends TODAY at 3pm CST, so please hurry on over there and get your vote on! ;) G-man's nursery is trailing the top nominee, but in a close race for 2nd!! Thanks to all for your votes and support!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Semi-Homemade Thanksgiving Side Dish

Simple. Modern. Semi-Homemade. And not your typical 'traditional-but-bland Thanksgiving side dish.' It's been a staple at my family's Thanksgivings since before I had my own family, and it's found it's way into the Turkey Day menu at my inlaws house for the last 8 yrs or so.

Mexican Corn

Y'all, this is EASY. And so good that I'm asked to bring it to any and every holiday gathering we attend - at work, at church, with friends.... (it's also really good at Easter with ham!)

Here are the 4 (only 4!!!) ingredients:

First, chunk up a package of cream cheese and about 1/2 a stick of butter into a saucepan (seriously, I don't measure things if I don't have to.... and you don't have to with this dish! You like things really cream cheesey? Add more! Not so much a fan of butter? Cut it back)

Stir occasionally until the mixture is melted. The hardest part of this whole recipe is not getting impatient with the melting process....turning up the heat.....then burning the cream cheese!

When all is melted and smooth....and looking like this:

...add the other 2 ingredients. Three 11oz cans of white shoe peg corn (yes, it makes a difference that it's white corn, and no, I don't know why.... just trust me!) And one 4oz can of chopped green chilies. Make sure you drain the corn and the chilies!

Pour it all into your prettiest 2qt baking dish. Or a foil pan. Whichever you prefer. (Just kidding! I just happen to be making this for a daycare Thanksgiving dinner and don't want to worry about getting a dish back!)

Bake at 325 for about 40 min.

You'll know it's done when it's golden brown on top and it's formed a super light crust on top. This is THE perfect complement to the traditional turkey dinner. It's got a kick but it's not so spicy that it'll offend the delicate tastes of Grandma.

Don't forget to vote for me today! Contest ends tomorrow at 3pm CST!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Semi-Homemade Holiday Teacher Gifts

I always say: Teachers cannot be appreciated enough! What a tough job. They spend the day, shaping the minds (and manners!!) of our future. Wow! The holdiays are one of my favorite times to show our appreciation for the teachers in our lives.

I'm still working on my ideas for this year's teacher gifts, but here's a peek at last year's gifts for inspiration, as well as the semi-homemade 'how to!' I had 7 teachers and 3 director/administrators I wanted to appreciate, so 10 total gifts. The recession had begun... so I had to come up with 10 gifts on a budget. But I still wanted big impact, as these teachers had a big impact on our kiddos.

The container: I started at the mecca for semi-homemade budget-friendly greatness... Hobby Lobby. When they advertised glass containers for 50% off, I grabbed 10 cylinders. (I want to say they cost about $2.50ish each.)

The layers: This is where you can go from the semi-homemade to the totally homemade - whatever suits you!

1. Mnm's - My vision was to use red & green Christmas mnm's.... but apparently, I didn't share that part of the vision on my grocery list.... and Mr. Fix-It came home with the regular ones!

2. Brownies - If you've been reading awhile (or if you know me!) you've probably gathered
that I LOVE brownies. That I pretty much make them for every event. (Made some last night for the kids' school Thanksgiving dinner!) I've even gotten pretty good at them over the years, and my brownies draw their fair share of compliments!
So, I made these brownies.... but you could easily buy the brownie bites and use those!

3. Soft peppermints - I LOVE these! Mmmmm.... so minty and creamy! AND they take up lots of space, so they're an affordable filler!

4. Cookies - again, lots of wiggle room here for how time consuming you can go! Me? I bought some bakery cookies - shhhh!
Other layer ideas: nuts, craisins, red and green gummy candies, chocolate covered pretzals, homemade bread (I'm thinking cranberry orange or pumpkin), homemade fudge - I could go on all day!

The custom touch: I love personalization and giving gifts that custom touch! Remember the gift tags I made for all our presents last year? I used those for the teacher gifts, too! (This year, I like the "sweet" tag on the top picture!) And I tied it on with.....

....tulle, of course!! It's time to restock the Semi-Homemade tulle supply for the holidays and the new year! I get all my tulle at Nashville Wraps. They have THE best color selection at THE best prices right here. I need red, pink and green for Big Sis's bday gifts & decorating.... shades of blue for Christmas.... orange & black for OSU graduation gifts and bday gifts for my fav alums.... and a rainbow of colors for all the fun kiddie bday gifts! (Their ordering can be a little tricky, but you can email me with any questions. It's so worth it!)

The final touches: I wrapped the whole thing in cellophane (you can buy it in a roll, like wrapping paper!), so the yummy layers could shine thru! I added a personal note to the back of each tag and let Big Sis hand them out to the teachers. They were a huge hit! And at under $6/each... I felt like I was showing my appreciation in a BIG way... even though I wasn't spending big.

Have a great idea for semi-homemade teacher gifts? Email me at oursemihomemadelife at yahoo dot com with your ideas and photos. I'd love to share them here on Our Semi-Homemade Life!
Don't forget to vote for me in the Design Dazzle contest! You can see G-man's Pirate Nursery here. Leave a comment and YOU will be entered to win $500 in super cool prizes for you and your kids!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Luke's Semi-Homemade Birthday Party - Down on the Farm!

Some of my dearest friends have the art of semi-homemade entertaining down to the tee! One of those is long time friend, Val in Olathe, KS. She and I worked together right after college and went on our very-first-real-world-career-trip together. She got me through some of the tough crap (before I was the Mrs. to Mr. Fix-It!) Ahh, the stories....

But when she shared her son's Semi-Homemade Birthday Party 'Down on the Farm,' I knew I had to share it with y'all!

The inspiration: Luke loves animals! And he's turning 5, so lots of space was needed for a pack of rowdy boys!

The location: A farmstead in in KC called Deanna Rose Farmstead. In Val's words: It is like a majorly suped up petting zoo... pony rides, fishing, duck feeding, big slides coming out of a barn, you get the picture.

The prep work: Birthday boy helped mom make these adorable goodie bags! What was inside? Animal figures (of course!), goldfish (they went fishin'!), lollipops and bouncy balls!
What a fun activity for a range of ages! Val cut out the animals, Luke worked on 'cutting the grass.'

The 'cake': Val totally had me at the word 'mix.' She says:
This is the cookie mix, I use TWO of them to make the cookie (it makes it thicker than a usual cake... and a tad gooey!)
But then, this is where the not-so-much-semi-homemade part comes. She swears it's nothing, but look what she pulled off! THE cutest cow (who knew cows could be cute?!) cookie cake. Val, you're hired! And what do you have in the way of Nutcracker Suite themes? ;)

Here's the cookie cake in action - what a hit with the guys!

One thing we miss about KS (besides some amazing friends)? The fall folliage. Could the backdrop BE any more beautiful? One lil cowboy giddy ups...

The birthday boy gets his fish on with his closest buddies!

Not sure who is cuter - the birthday boy or the baby goat! Love the cowboy hats - each kiddo got to take one home.

And in case you've been inspired to throw your own farming party, I've pulled together a few more ideas!
This cute centerpiece is by Jolly Lolly Creations on Etsy. You could even work on matching foam animal crafts during the bday party - I know I've seen them at Michaels or HL.

And I love, love the cow tablecloths and the use of red. So cute!

And because y'all know how much I love the birthday kiddo to coordinate with the party (although I know this is something G-man will prob not appreciate nearly as much as Big Sis, but....) A cute tractor tee from makmaydesigns, also on Etsy.

For the time-starved mom who has a little more money to spend, try the everything-you'd-ever-need-to-throw-a-totally-CUSTOM-party pack. The Barnyard Bash includes invites, thank yous, birthday banner (love!those!), birthday hat, and 25 goodie bags with custom tags.

And I just love this shop for party favors. I convo'ed Mommys Little Critters last wk on my day off and she instantly started work on some custom Nutcracker soaps for Big Sis's bday party! She has tractors, she has fishys, she has animals. Seriously, I'm not sure there is anything she can't do!

Happy Birthday, Luke! Looks like you had a fun party - and I know you have one great momma!
Want to share YOUR semi-homemade decorating or entertaining ideas? Email me at oursemihomemadelife at yahoo dot com. If we get enough ideas, I'd love to make this a regular feature!

Don't forget to vote for me (and G-man's Pirate Nursery!) once a day at Design Dazzle and be entered to win $500 in the coolest prizes!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm a FINALIST! And YOU can be a WINNER!

Wow, this is THE single most exciting thing to ever happen for Our Semi-Homemade Life! It was an honor when G-man's Pirate Nursery was featured on one of my fav blogs in the first place.... and now this!

Toni of Design Dazzle made my day when she emailed me this weekend and said:

Congratulations! Your Navy & White Nautical Nursery that was featured on Design Dazzle has been chosen as a Design Dazzler and one of the top ten posts from my blog. You have the possibility of being chosen the top Design Dazzler.
What is a Design Dazzler? de·sign daz·zler: person who dazzles with design and decorating skills

Whoa!!! Isn't that exciting? Besides the honor of the title, the winner also receives $500 in gift certificates from sponsors such as Design Dazzle, Red Envelope and more. (Squeal!!)

I'd just be so appreciative for your votes, your best friend's vote, your mom's vote, your blog readers votes. You can vote each and every day (from Mon, Nov 16th to Fri,Nov 20th) right here. Doesn't matter what you say - just leave me some love!

Now, where does your winning come into play? Ahh, glad you asked.

There is a total of $500 in prizes and gift certificates to be won by YOU - those leaving comments on any of the 10 design dazzler nominees posts (3 winners will share the prize)!

I still can't believe this - what an honor! Out of 400+ posts on their blog, only 10 were selected!!
So, in review:
Visit Design Dazzle daily this week.
Vote for G-man's nursery!
Blog about it and send your readers!
Help one of my fav blogs celebrate their 1st birthday with a party that includes over $2000 in prizes and giveaways. Toni filled me in on a couple of them and they're HUGE!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Planning Big Sis's Nutcracker Birthday Party - HELP!

Today I'm home. Sipping pumpkin flavored coffee. Listening to directv's 40s on 40. (I love, love big band & swing.... it's so calming to me and reminds me of my grandparents.) Once or twice a year, I take a day off, send the kids to school..... I use it to recharge, get things done, catch up. And after working around the clock from Apr-Sept...then traveling all of Oct.... there's lots to catch up on around the Semi-Homemade home. Like planning Big Sis's Semi-Homemade birthday party.

In my brainstorming phase.... the most exciting part, IMO..... I dreamed up this idea:

Big Sis's friends come to our house (her idea). While some of them are decorating cookies with sprinkles, frosting, etc (again, Big Sis's idea), the others are on a sleigh ride (which was either going to be a horse drawn carriage or a sl(hay)ride.... a hay ride, decorated to look like Christmas!!) A snow machine is blowing snow around the yard (because in early Dec in TX... chances of snow are about zero. Which is why I love TX. Anyway...) Moms of kiddos are sipping hot toddies with me, ushering children between the 2 activities. Then, a knock at the door. It's Santa! Each child gets a turn to chat with Santa. He gives each child their goody bag, and off they go. Party over.

I even looked into these ideas, to see what they'd set me back. Turns out the horse drawn carriage would be $400+ (not a huge surprise), and the hayrides (which I thought would be more reasonable) are $500+. So, regardless of damn recession or not... those ideas are out.

A good friend of mine, and super creative, party-throwing mom suggested using the Nutcracker Ballet as a theme, and I love it! Toy soldiers, sugar plum fairies, The Land of the Sweets....
I plan to be all over Etsy, searching for ways to semi-homemade this theme a bit. I had originally thought I might do a gingerbread cookie theme and that's all over Etsy! The nutcracker theme might take a little more effort, working with sellers to come up with new designs! For example, these ballet shoe soaps would be great favors... for the girls. But I convo'ed the seller Mommy's Little Critters to see if she could do any toy soldiers or nutcrackers....

I think I can still manage to do the cookie decorating and a visit from Santa. But that doesn't seem like enough to occupy a big bunch of 4-yr-olds (plus a few special friends of various ages). So, what else? A bounce house in the backyard? Something else with a Christmas theme?
I need your ideas!!!
Related Posts with Thumbnails