10 Tips to be an Awesome House Guest #1

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Since we find ourselves in the position of being extended guests of late, I thought a post about how to be a great house guest would be appropriate.  Having been both the guest and the host, I’ve come at this issue from both sides.  Both roles can be quite challenging!  Here are ten tips to help keep both the guest and host sane:

  • Communicate!  Keep the lines of communication open at all times, so both parties feel comfortable bringing up problem areas.  It’s also good to communicate about expectations, meal plans, daily activities, shopping for supplies, etc.  You don’t need to get permission for every little thing, but it’s courteous to keep one another in the information loop.
  • Ask for a house tour and tips.  Your host will probably welcome the chance to show you around the house, let you know what is off-limits, and show you how things work.  If they care about their home, they will likely be relieved that you care enough to ask.
  • Help buy household goods.  When you see that a household supply is getting low or you have just finished the hand soap, why not go out and replenish that item?  To be on the safe side, I would recommend buying an exact replica.  Your host may be partial to a particular brand or scent.
  • Bring a host gift.  It’s a great way to show your appreciation to your hosts by bringing a thoughtful token gift.  It doesn’t need to be expensive or extravagant, but do put some thought into it.  A few ideas: chocolate or other yummy food, wine (if your host is so inclined), flowers/house plant, gift card and handwritten note, or a special item which fits their interests.
  • Keep your room/area tidy.  This is a no-brainer, but it still warrants being said.  Nothing will get your hosts upset with you quicker than if you leave their house messy.  Even if you have a private guest room to yourself, it shows respect to your hosts when you keep it looking nice.  Of course it also makes sense to clean up after yourself in the common areas, as well.
  • Help with pet care.  You don’t need to take on full-time pet care, but it’s thoughtful to help care for your host’s pets when there is a need and you’re available.  Make sure you are familiar with the particulars of caring for their pet before you jump right in.  You don’t want to give them the wrong food or something.  A few easy tasks are feeding, taking the dog for a walk, or changing the cat’s litter.
  • Spend time away from your hosts.  Even if you and your hosts are having the time of your lives together, it’s beneficial to both parties when you can spend some time apart.  Don’t be afraid to make plans to see a movie, go shopping, or go to the library.  When you come back together again, you will feel more refreshed and energized.
  • Help with dishes and meal clean-up.  This is just common courtesy and it helps the household run more smoothly.  If your host has been kind enough to prepare a meal for you, why not be kind enough to wash the dishes for them?
  • Limit your bathroom time.  This is especially important when the bathroom facilities are limited!  Try to take reasonable showers and bathroom breaks so that you’re not preventing others from using the facilities.  Ask your host when it would be most convenient for you to shower.  You don’t want to mess up their morning routine!  Also, try not to use up all the hot water.  😦
  • Buy groceries.  If you’re staying for more than a meal or two, you should definitely be helping with the grocery bill.  You could offer to go with to the grocery store and foot the bill, if your host already has the menu planned.  Or you could plan some meals yourself (ask when it would be a good time for you to cook) and go purchase the necessary groceries.  It’s also nice to get the occasional treat for everybody–donuts, snack food, or pantry staples.  Again, ask your host if there are certain brands they prefer.

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Christmas Gift Idea #1: A photo book from Shutterfly

http://Deck the Halls 8x11 Photo Book

This post contains an affiliate link.  I’ve shared my honest opinions.

If you’re anything like most people, Christmas is a time to slightly freak out when trying to come up with Christmas gifts for all of your loved ones.  As someone who has been on the receiving end of some very non-personalized gifts, I tend to go overboard finding the right gift for each person on my list.  Shutterfly is one site that I’ve used to help make personalized gifts.  I’ve made photo books, a mouse pad, mugs, and photo refrigerator magnets.  To keep my children’s faces off of the Internet, I won’t be posting them.  Sorry!  Each item turned out great, however, and I was very satisfied with my orders.  I always used a coupon or deal to help keep the cost reasonable, as well.

Right now (through October 18th), Shutterfly is offering to new customers one free set of address labels or $10 off an order of $10+ with promo code 10OFF10 at checkout.  This won’t completely cover the cost of a photo book or most other items, but it will take a nice chunk off the total price.

Here’s wishing you much success in your Christmas shopping!  Start now and save yourself some stress!  🙂

LEGO Hand Soap

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As a mom of LEGO-loving boys, I couldn’t pass up this awesome idea from The Rockin Boys Club-LEGO Soap.  It’s such a simple idea and I hope that it will make handwashing more fun for the kids.  Without further ado…onto the soap!

Lego Soap 2The materials you will need are a pump bottle of hand soap or hand sanitizer (or both) and a handful of LEGOs.  I like the look of a variety of brightly colored LEGOs, but you could go monochromatic, as well.  Or match the colors of the room it will be in.

Lego Soap 3It was quite easy to peel off the front and back labels on the soap dispenser.  However, they left behind a filmy white adhesive.

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I used rubbing alcohol to remove the adhesive, but you could also use a product like Goo Gone.  I just didn’t have any on hand.  Once the adhesive is removed from the bottle, open the soap and push a few LEGOs in there.  You may want to try and remove some of the air bubbles, otherwise they’ll all bunch at the top.  Screw the top back on and you have some wonderful LEGO soap!

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Melissa & Doug Review

IMG_7361 crThis post contains affiliate links.

I made a large purchase with Melissa & Doug recently for our church’s Children’s Ministry.  It’s the end of the fiscal year, and I had to use our funds or lose them.  Well, we did need some new toys since most of ours had been donated and some were looking a little worse for the wear.

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Everything came in a large box with a variety of cushioning–cardboard, air mailers and paper.  Once everything was unpacked I was glad to see that nothing was broken or damaged.

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I got a wire puzzle rack because our puzzles are in an untidy pile right now.  I hope this will help it look a little more tidy and make it easier for the kids to use the puzzles.  Below the puzzle rack you can see the latches board that I got.  These are a really cool toy for younger kids who are just learning how to manipulate small things.  It’s great for improving their small-motor skills!  The next picture has a set of magnetic farm animals that came free with the order because I spent a certain amount.  Next to that is a giant Underwater floor puzzle with 48 pieces.  Kids just love putting big puzzles together.  I also got a transportation peg puzzle for the little ones.  Next to that is a set of coloring sheets and crayons that was thrown in free.  I’ll show the coloring sheets below–they’re really nicely designed.

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I also decided to augment our block play area.  We have a set of basic wooden blocks, but nothing fun to go with them.  I got three sets of wooden block people and a set of Town Blocks.  The town blocks are really fun and let the kids make some fancier buildings.  I got another simple animal jigsaw puzzle, too.

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The puzzle rack was perfect and allowed me to corral all of our stray puzzles.  A couple of the super-chunky ones wouldn’t fit, but that’s okay.

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The latches board was a big hit and everybody wanted to try it out at the same time.  I definitely recommend this board for any environment that needs toys for younger children!

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The blocks were also a huge hit and kept the kids busy until church started.  I probably could have gotten two of these sets!

Check out Melissa & Doug for yourself and see what they have to offer!  I love that they have toys that help kids use their imaginations and that the toys are good quality.

Birthday Word Scramble Present Hunt

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My kids and I came up with this fun activity for my husband’s recent birthday.  I had gotten him a bunch of Star Trek books, but didn’t want to just wrap them up and hand them over.  So we orchestrated a word scramble present hunt.  Fun!  Above you can see a stack of books that we wrapped.  I just used leftover Christmas paper.  We made a list of places to hide the books, then made little paper tags that had that word scrambled.

While my husband hid in my craft room, the rest of us proceeded to hide all of the books around the house.  When we let him out, we would give him a scrambled word tag to unscramble and he would go off in search of the gift.  When he found that one, we gave him the next clue.  He chose to open each gift along the way, though you could save that until they are all found.

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Because there were so many books, we chose to put some of them in gift bags.  I didn’t want to spend the whole day wrapping presents, y’know?

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We hid gifts all over the house, and somehow the clue for this one never made it into my husband’s hands.  I discovered it hanging in the shower the next day.  We really enjoyed this present hunt and the kids asked if I would do it for their birthdays, too.  If you try it out, let me know how it went for you!

The Boodle Box Review # 1

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The Boodle Box is a fun subscription box for girls!  I have three girls–ages 5, 4, and 2.  The two eldest think they are teenagers.  I’m not sure where they learned it, but they sometimes get in their big-girl mode where they act like somewhat prissy adults.  They are in love with all things girly, beautiful, fairy, princess, etc.  That’s so not me but if they like it, fine.  So…this box will especially appeal to my girls.  The outside of the box looks very fun!

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This box’s theme is Pretty in Pink, and the inside of the box makes sure you won’t forget that.  All red and pink for Valentine’s Day.  Everything was adequately padded.

IMG_5929 crA sneak peek at what’s inside!

IMG_5931 crOh my–lots of girliness!

  • Lip Toothpaste Squeezers — retail $1.  These are super-cute, but we already own two of these (not the lip kind).  I think we’ll pass these on.
  • Lace Ruffle Cuffs Boot Toppers — retail $12.  You wear these on your legs, so that the top sticks out above your high boots.  I like the look on others, but I don’t wear that type of boot and neither do my girls.  Another item to gift.
  • Kiss My Face Triple Action Gel Toothpaste — retail $5.95.  We’ll be using this for sure.  My girls will be very pleased to have their own tube of toothpaste.
  • Poe-Poe Tails Reversible Ponytail Scarf — retail $10.50.  This is one of those scarf-looking things that you tie around your ponytail to make it look cute.  Think back to the 1950’s.  It is striped on one side and polka-dotted on the other.  The fabric is satin-y.  I think this is very cute too, but it won’t stay in my girls’ hair.  They have fairly fine hair.
  • 3 Hershey’s Hugs — YUMMY!
  • 2 Rhinestone Heart Cord Bracelets — retail $11.98 (for both).  My girls will be thrilled about these bracelets!  They are good quality and super cute.  Great idea!
  • Sugar Lips Valentine Lollipop — retail $2.  Looks yummy and it fits the theme well.  You can use this as a photo prop and eat it afterwards.
  • Ruby Wing Color Changing Scented Mini Nail Polish — retail $3.25.  This polish is sort of clear with glitter in it.  It says that when you go out in the sunlight, it changes color.
  • Cabachan Hair Pins & Comb Set — retail $12.99.  The flowers on these are hard and look realistic.  All of it seems sturdy and well-made.  Very feminine and pretty.

Total Retail Value: $59.67

Cost: $24.99/1 month ($19.99/month for longer subscriptions)

Shipping: $7/month

Final Thoughts: I was quite impressed with this box.  The cost compared to value is fairly good.  It was nicely packaged.  Everything fit the theme and there was a good assortment of items.  Any girl or teen would be happy to get a box like this.  It would also make the perfect gift for a special young lady in your life.

Check it out for yourself: The Boodle Box

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Dottiebox Review # 1

IMG_5503 crYou guessed it–another subscription box!  This is one that caters to women.  Dottiebox sends items that are handmade, sold by small businesses, or indie style.  They have both a regular size and a mini box–this one is regular size.  I think you’re going to like this one, so let’s get started.

IMG_5509 crHere’s what it looked like when I opened it up.  Exciting–isn’t it?  Notice the card with a description of the items and their retail cost.  And everything is packaged so nicely.

IMG_5510 crIncluded was:

  • The Vinyl Company “Hello” door/wall decal — retail $6.  I really like this, but it won’t work on either of my doors–they are too close to the color of the vinyl.  I know a couple of friends who would love to receive this as a gift, though.
  • Running Blynd decorative clothespins & thumb tacks — retail $7.  These might have to travel up to my craft room for displaying inspirational ideas on my bulletin board.
  • Gracious Bee Greetings easel desktop calendar — retail $11.  This is by far the cutest thing in the box.  Just look at the picture at the end of this post.
  • Cuppow wide mouth jar drinking lid — retail $9.  I had never seen this before, so I had to look it up.  I’m not sure that I would use this sippy-type lid so that I could drink from a canning jar.  Just not my thing.  It will go bye-bye.

Total Retail Value: $33

Dottiebox Cost: $20 + $4 shipping per month

Final Thoughts: I feel like this box would be best as a gift subscription for a friend, or for yourself if you just want some fun extras sent your way each month.  Everything has a handmade or home business feel to it (three of the items are sold on etsy).  If that’s your style, then you will definitely like this box.  The value is okay and I certainly understand that when they’re working with smaller businesses, they can’t get the same discounts that they would with a mass retailer.  Since I’m a bit of a diy-er, I may cancel when my subscription comes due again.  If I really wanted to, I could make some of these items myself or get one of my crafty friends to do it.

Check it out for yourself: Dottiebox

IMG_5511 crThis calendar is itty bitty–only about as wide as the length of my pointer finger, and I don’t have big hands!  It would look so cute on a desk or kitchen windowsill.

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Winter 2014 Craftaholics Anonymous Handmade Gift Exchange – Received!

IMG_4879Here is the gift I received in the handmade gift exchange hosted by Craftaholics Anonymous.  Thank you so much to my exchange buddy–I love all the detail and effort you put into making this special journal for me!  I will enjoy filling it in with pictures and special thoughts about my family.  I really enjoyed participating in this exchange and would highly recommend it to others.

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Neighbor Christmas Gift – Candy Coated Pretzels

IMG_0350This year we made candy-coated pretzels to give to our neighbors as a little Christmas gift.  It is quite simple to make and tastes really yummy!

Materials:

  • 2 packages vanilla almond bark
  • 1 lg. bag Holiday Pretzels
  • assorted sprinkles & colored sugars
  • treat bags or boxes
  • large mixing bowl & spoon
  • microwave safe bowl/double boiler

Directions:

Spread two large pieces of wax paper on counter/table.  Melt the almond bark according to package directions.  We did ours in the microwave, but I think I’ll do it on the stove next time so that we can do both packages at the same time.  You will want two packages of candy coating for one bag of pretzels.  Dump pretzels into a large bowl.  When candy coating is fully melted, pour it over the pretzels.  Fold coating into pretzels so that they are all covered.  Dump mixture onto the wax paper and spread out in a thin layer.  While coating is still warm, sprinkle with Christmas-colored sprinkles and sugars of your choice.  Allow to set.  Once it is set, simply break into pieces and put in treat boxes or bags.

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