Santa's Magical Reindeer Dust

Last year my cousins gave my kids this really cute bottle of "Santa's Magical Reindeer Dust." They loved it! So this year I made them for some of our neighbors and cousins. I purchased the jars for 99 cents at Michael's. The "Dust" consists of red, green, silver glitter and fake snow. I found the cute take out boxes at Hobby Lobby. The saying on the front of the boxes reads- "Santa's Magical Reindeer Dust- Special Formula- Directions for use on Christmas Eve- Sprinkle this dust outside tonight, the moonlight will make it sparkle bright. As the reindeer fly and roam, this will help to guide him to your home."

Kids and Christmas

We have some traditions that the kids remember and talk about all year long. We also like starting new traditions every year. Their favorite thing that we do is the advent calendar. They run to find the little prize each morning. I will usually hide the small gift along with the sock. The gifts are very small but sometimes they might find a favorite Christmas movie with a mug and a package of hot cocoa. They know that we will all snuggle to watch that movie together that night. Sometimes I leave a note that says we are going to see the Temple lights or another fun activity.

This year I added new clips with bigger numbers. Lucy knows her numbers now and Lily makes a math problem out of anything and everything. I covered the clips in scrapbook paper and glued the printed and punched number.

For the past few years, the kids have had Christmas lights in their bedrooms. We string them over the windows. The girls insist on reading their bedtime books with them on. This year after I had finished decorating they were able to decorate their rooms with the stuff that I didn't use. So they have star garlands around their mirror, snowflakes hanging from the fans, and snowmen and Christmas trees all over their dressers. They love it!

We have been collecting Christmas books since our first was a baby. We now have quite the collection. The basket of books is one of the first things we get out when the seasons rolls around. We put ours on our lowest shelf in the family room so they are able to get them by themselves. So many times I come into the room and all of them are reading one. The books really help us to get into the spirit.
The kids are really what makes our Christmases so special. So start some traditions that they will remember forever!

Christmas Collections

The day after Christmas was almost as memorable as Christmas Day when we were little. I was always so excited to hit up the crazy sales at Mervyn's. Lots of pushing and shoving but the excitement and energy was unforgettable. Some knew exactly what they wanted others just grabbed whatever they could get their hands on. We were after something to add to our little village. I loved that village set, the people, the homes, the buildings around town, especially the ice skating rink. We loved getting that out every year. It is fun to have a collection to add to every year. A few years ago I started collecting Christmas trees. As you know there are lots to choose from out there. But I am on the lookout for just the right tree. I am running out of room to display my trees but I sure do love to see them all bunched together. So start a collection and add to it every year with just the right piece.

Tis the Season

Last year at this time I was ready for Christmas and my house was completely decorated. I think it was done before Thanksgiving. This year I wanted to stretch out Thanksgiving as long as possible. I am feeling a little pressure to finish things now but if I have it done by the end of the week, I will be happy. We will see...

It is always fun to bring in all of those red and green boxes from the garage. The kids can't wait to get out the Christmas toys reserved just for this time of year. Some they remember and some they have forgotten about. Sometimes I am even a little surprised at what is inside the boxes. I may have bought some things after the season ended. Plus there are those projects I never got around to completing the year before.

We always start with the trees. We have two now. One for the front room. And one for the family room where we unwrap our presents on Christmas morning. This one is my favorite. I have been collecting things for this tree for several years. When decorating a tree it is a good idea to choose a theme or color scheme. My front room tree is green and gold. The year that I bought that tree those colors were really catching my eye. The family room tree is red and white. It is really fun and bright and the ornaments the kids have made through the years work perfectly on this tree. I have always wanted a pink tree! Everything pink! Someday... Pick something that you will love and that makes you happy!
I added the ribbon on the tree two years ago. In my opinion it change the whole tree. Trees at stores are always loaded with ornaments but that would take alot of time and money to cover your tree with ornaments. The ribbon takes up alot of space and helps to give it more color. Think of all the options there are out there for ribbon! My ribbon is 4 inches wide and is wired which makes it very easy to work with. I don't remember how many feet of ribbon I used but I think that it took two big bolts. For the big bow on the top I stacked the ribbon on top and tied the center with wire and then fanned out the loops. I love putting sprays of beads or flowers or anything on the top of the tree. The tree skirt was made several years ago and I still love it. It is made out of a snow colored fleece. Measure how big you wan the skirt and make a pattern. We had a big roll of butcher paper to make the pattern. But if you don't have a big piece of paper make a half circle or even a quarter and double or quadruple it. My edges are scalloped. Make sure to leave a slit through the skirt so you can easily wrap it around the bottom of the tree.

It's Simple

I love November. I love the cool weather, the new smells, the warm colors, and the simplicity of the season. Even Thanksgiving Day itself is a simple day (unless you are hosting this year's feast!). For Halloween, my decor is over-the-top and pretty much all over the place. It is nice to look around our newly bare home.

Every time I look at my kitchen table I smile and breathe a little sigh of relief. Relief that I still have a few more weeks before the crazy, but fun, month of December rolls around. My table holds the real fallen leaves from our trip to Sedona a couple of weeks ago. The kids love to see their leaf collections as part of our tablescape. I was inspired by the Pottery Barn magazine to slip some photos of the kids playing in the leaves into one of the jars. I love how pomegranites can be used for Fall and Winter decor items. I wrapped a branch with gold berries around the smaller jar. It's simple, just as it should be!

Our Gratitude Tree

For FHE we read The Gratitude List. It's about a little girl who makes a list of all the small things that she is thankful for. By making this list she realizes just how blessed she is. We turned our fun Halloween tree into our Gratitude Tree. Each night we write and draw a picture on a small card that says "I am thankful for". The kids look forward to it and help remind me to do it before we go to bed. They are very thoughtful about what they will write about each night and even plan throughout the day. It is a fun thing that hopefully will become a new tradition for our family. Come Thanksgiving our Gratitude Tree will be overflowing with all of our small blessings. I am planning to make a small book to look through even after the season is over.

Some of the things we are thankful for: Lily, the thoughtful one, is thankful for her eyes so she can read and our home. Lucy is thankful for playing outside. Who isn't this time of year? We are all happier now that most of our days are spent exploring the backyard. Hudson is thankful for tree branches (I think he drew the picture first and decided it looked like tree branches) and Batman. The other night I drew a picture of a bed and wrote that I was thankful for bedtime. The kids just could not believe it. I don't think they realized it was their bedtime I was thankful for that night!

Spicy Tortilla Soup

It's November, so it's time to break out our favorite soup recipes that we put on hold during the hot summer. Even if it's still in the 80's here in Arizona, it's plenty cool enough!

This recipe is one of my husband's favorites. It has a slight kick to it, but still kid-friendly.

Spicy Tortilla Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz. chicken broth
14 oz. mexican style tomatoes (Rotel is the best)
4 oz. fire roasted green chilies
1 t. cumin (add more if you like it more spicy)
1 t. chili powder
1 t. sugar
1 T. lime juice
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
diced avocado
sour cream
freshly cut cilantro
4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese (or cheddar)
1 cup corn tortilla chips, crushed

In a 6 quart pot combine onion, garlic, and olive oil and saute for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and puree. Stir mixture. Add crushed corn tortilla chips. Stir well, cover and simmer about 30 minutes. If liquid cooks down too much, add water.

When ready to serve, put cheese, cilantro, sour cream, avocado and a handful of broken chips in bowl before serving soup.

Recipe from Katherine Fields

"Tutu" Cute!

A couple of months ago I asked Liberty what she wanted to be for Halloween. She thought about it for a second, and then replied, "A kitty-cat!" (That's what she was last year.) I told her, "Well, you can be a cat, or you can pick something different than last year, like a princess or ballerina..." She laughed and said, "Princesses don't belong to Halloween!!!" She thought costumes had to be typical Halloween objects, like black cats, ghosts, etc. A few weeks later I bought her some butterfly wings at the dollar store to play dress-up with. That was when she decided she wanted to be a butterfly for Halloween. One cute, pink, sparkly tutu later, she became a "dancing butterfly." Making a tutu is easy. I bought a few rolls of tule at Hobby Lobby already cut in 6- inch widths. I then cut approx. 24 inch pieces and folded them in half. I got a strip of elastic wide enough for Liberty's waist and tied knots with the tule around it. I did two tones of pink for a little contrast. For her antennae I curled pipe cleaners with a pencil and hand-sewed the pon-pons on top. I wrapped the end of the pipe cleaners onto a headband, and they stayed really well. I found the perfect sparkly pink shoes at Target. My mom had some ladybug wings from the dollar store, so Hadley got to be the cute ladybug. I used red tule for her tutu, and tied knots around ribbon instead of elastic. I've found it's easier to put tutu on babies when you just have to tie the ribbon in the back. I hand-sewed on big black pon-pons under the first layer of tule for the spots. I liked that they were subtle spots. I did the same thing as with Liberty's for her antennae, but put it on a baby headband. Hadley's to-die-for red shoes I found at Old Navy. It was nearly impossible to get a decent picture with an (almost) 1-year-old and (almost) 3-year-old.

Happy Halloween

This year we all did some handmade costumes. It made it even that more fun! Hudson was set on Spiderman with "big muscles" since about July so that one I bought. The other three I made! Lily's Dorothy dress was actually the first pattern I have ever followed. It was a little tricky so I am glad I had back up from a pro (thanks Mom!). We will see if I am brave enough to make the girls' Christmas dresses as I am planning. I added a cute blue tulle slip underneath to make it fluffy. It may be hard to see in the picture. Lucy's first choice this year was a Power Ranger. Usually I let my kids be whatever they want since they plan for it all year long. We compromised with a pirate (I got to choose the costume, she got a shiny new sword and hook.) I think it was a good deal. My favorite part of her costume was the corset. It is a ribbon with pirate print sewed onto a black strip of fabric. The loops to loop the ribbon through was some heavy thread. Graham's costume was made from Lucy's extra fabric. I traced some of his pants and added a little extra all the way around. They fit him perfectly. I will definitely make his some more. For his shirt I cut a pirate shape out of fabric that I ironed on to Heat and Bond. Then I stitched around it. It felt good when the costumes were all finished! It takes extra time but it was definitely worth when I saw how cute they looked!

A Halloween Treat

The kids loved these! We found this cute mini pumpkin bundt cake pan at Walmart. We just used a yellow cake mix. For the frosting it worked best when we warmed a can of frosting and poured into the center of the pumpkin. To top it off we used sprinkles and an M&M.

More Jars!

These jars sit on my kitchen table. I filled one with M&M's and the other one I lined with mini skeletons from the dollar store and filled with black balls I found in the Christmas section at Hobby Lobby. My chandelier is another find from Z-Gallery last year after Halloween!

Bones and Jars!

As you can tell we LOVE Halloween around here!
My favorite item to decorate with is apothecary jars. Mine are filled with black and orange glitter balls by RAZZ (I found mine at Taipan, Hobby Lobby had some similar ones) and Halloween M&M's. I got my glass eyeballs last year on clearance from Z-Gallery. The orange and black garland is from Target last year and my black skeleton heads and mini skeletons are from the dollar store. I cut a piece of zebra print scrapbook paper to fit the inside of my cake stand. I love to buy decorations after the holiday's on clearance.

Pumpkin Dessert

This delicious dessert is perfect for the Fall, and would be perfect for your next party. I love the different layers! It is great served warm with ice cream or whipped cream. I received rave reviews when I made this. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Dessert


1 box (unprepared) yellow cake mix (reserve one cup for topping)
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 egg

Mix together, and press into greased 9x13 pan.


1 can (30 oz) pumpkin pie mix
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs

Mix together, and pour on top of crust.


1 cup remaining cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup hard butter
2 tsp. cinnamon (or a tad more)

Mix together, and sprinkle on top.

Bake at 350 degrees, for 45-55 minutes.

*Recipe from my amazing friend (and photographer) Jessica Gowdy


I love this new addition to my Halloween decor! The spiderweb lace runner I found in Utah, but can also be found at for $15. They also have a large round table topper web for $8 on their site that is really cute! I found my witch last year at Z-Gallery after Halloween for only $10 and then tied an orange ribbon around the waist. My "SPOOKY" sign was a gift, but it actually looks really easy to copy. I took my black cake stand and filled it with black and orange christmas balls that I found at Hobby Lobby last year. I cut an orange circle out of scrapbook paper to line the cake stand so my christmas balls would pop! The spider on top is from Z-Gallery.


This BOO sign is super easy to do and the best part is I am going to put JOY on the otherside for Christmas! It will serve two purposes. To start you will need to get 3 boards cut to the size of a 12X12 piece of paper. Then drill holes in each of the four corners. I painted the edges of each board black. Next choose 3 sheets of scrapbook paper and modge podge onto each board. Once dry I took a black ink pad and distressed the edges of each board. I poked a pencil through the holes and then took sandpaper to the edges of the holes.

Next paint letters, mine are painted a deep purple. I found my letters at Hobby Lobby. Then I decopaged over the top of each one and sprinkled Martha Stewart glitter in Crystal Fine over the top. After letters dry you can embelish them however you would like. My ghost ornament and Happy Halloween sign are by RAZZ. I found mine last year at Orange Patch. My spiders are from Z-Gallerie last year. Attach letters to board, I used tacky tape, and connect boards with ribbon or tulle.

Just a tip, I attached my spiders and ghost ornament with velcro so the board will lay flat when I switch it over to JOY.

Haunted Houses

Another tradition that our family has, is to make Haunted Houses while the men are at the Priesthood session of conference. The kids love and look forward to it every year. There is just something about having frosting and candy right there in front of you without restrictions. I guess I can't blame them. It is a bit messy but definitely worth it. We cut boxes to the perfect size and hot glue them to a piece of cardboard. We use graham crackers for the sides and roofs and spread frosting for the glue. We also use tubes of frosting to fill in cracks and stick the candy. We always have the usual assortment of Halloween candy but this year we realized that the 100 calorie snacks were the perfect size and shape to decorate the houses.

The candy delivery truck bringing the goods.

The finished products. In years past we have given out prizes to the Spookiest, Cutest, etc.The moms always want to make their own Haunted House but we are too busy helping the kids. We decided it would be a fun date night with several couples making them.

Pumpkin Tower

I made this last year. I sprayed an urn that I already had black. I bought a black wreath from Michael's. I looped about 3 yards of black and white striped ribbon around the wreath 2 times. I just looped a small section and poked it into the wreath with my finger. I took the ribbon off to store it. Then I had a garland of black beads and also wrapped it around the wreath. Then I stuck a white Funkin on top. I saw a really cute pumpkin tower at a boutique that maybe I will do next year. They stacked 3 Funkins (small, medium and large) and used a black feather boa in between each Funkin. They had it standing a top a tall black metal can. It was very cute!

Fun Pumpkin

This is an quick and easy idea to dress up a pumpkin to match your display. First we bought a Funkin from Michaels. Then cut several 1.5 inch strips of patterned paper. The thinner paper works better. Find the length of the strips by measuring the pumpkin from top to bottom. Then pour some modge podge in a bowl. Dip the strips of paper into the glue completely saturating the paper. Then glue the paper to the pumpkin. It will be a little lumpy. Layer each strip so that the pumpkin is completely covered. Then add rhinestones evenly around the pumpkin. I waited til the modge podge was dried before I added the rhinestones. I used a rhinestone glue. Then glue some leaves to the top of the pumpkin. I clipped some of a bunch of flowers that I already had.

Bat Mobile

We saw this in the PBK catalog.

This is how we made it: We used 3 different sizes of embroidery hoops - 12, 10, and 7 inches. We wrapped them with black ribbon dabbing with a little hot glue at the beginning and end and in the middle as needed to hold. We strung the three hoops together with invisible thread. We cut little bat shapes from black glitter fun foam and punched eyes with a small hole punch. We strung each bat (we poked a hole through the top and bottom with the thread showing on the back of the bat ) on black carpet and button thread and then strung it through a small black pom-pom. We put a dab of hot glue where the thread goes through the bat to make sure the bat stayed in place. Then we tied each bat and pom-pom on the hoops. We put 9 bats on top, 8 bats in the middle, and 6 bats on the bottom. We love the way it turned out. It flutters around perfectly.

Falling for Autumn

It's funny that the temperature drops a few degrees below 100 and all of a sudden it feels like fall to us. We are very easy to please in that area. I am even thinking about wearing a sweater one of these days just because... Plus we have only about 10 seconds of sweater-wearing weather so we better live it up.

Next to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite time of year to decorate my house. I love the colors and my kids love the spooky stuff we have around. It is just a fun time of year - the beginning of a great season.

We have some great projects to share that you really can do for reals!

We made this banner last year while the boys were at the Priesthood session of conference. (Wait til you see what we will be working on this year!)

The background is 6 by 10 inches with a 4 inch angle to the middle. We backed the pattern paper with black cardstock to give the paper more body. The orange rosettes are made from tissue paper. We cut a sheet of tissue paper into 2.5 inch wide strips. We folded them accordion-style and used double-sided tape to attach the two folds on each end. The letters are cut from glitter fun foam (we found ours in the Kids Craft sections at Hobby Lobby and Joann). We found a font that we liked and printed a pattern. Our letters are 4.5 inches tall. We then hung the banner on a strip of tulle.

This year I added the gems on every other flag. I bought these gems at Michael's. The price on the bag was 3.99 for 30. They rang up at .01. I felt a little guilty so I showed my receipt to the manager. She said they were on extreme clearance but if it stayed at .01 it would mess the whole system up. So she had to fix the price to 1.00. OK fine, I'll still take them. It was still a bargain!

To attach them, I wound wire around a marker two times, punched a hole at the bottom of the paper, and put the gem on the wire and then through the hole.

My banners hang on a curtain rod that I hung over my couch in the living room. But some of us hang them over windows or on shelves. You find the perfect place in your house.

The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER

Growing up, we always thought our mom made the best sugar cookies. Then, one day she came back from a baby shower with a sugar cookie that was given as a party favor. She raved about how good it was, so we all cut off a bite so we could see what she was so excited about. That was the first time we thought someone out there made better sugar cookies than our mom! We decided to search for sugar cookie recipes online, and found one that had sour cream in it. We realized that might be the secret ingredient. We tried it, and it was a winnner! It was just like the one from the shower - only better! Since then, we've used this recipe to make hundreds, if not thousands of sugar cookies for many occasions.

*It's been awhile since we've found this recipe, but we're pretty sure it was from

Sugar Cookies

4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt (opt.)
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 ½ cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup sour cream

Sift flour, powder, soda, salt – set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter & sugar. Beat in egg, sour cream, & vanilla. Add sifted ingredients. Wrap dough and chill overnight (or for a few hours).

Roll out dough, making cookies ¼ inch thick.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Makes about 3-4 dozen.

For the frosting, we just use the recipe on the back of the C&H Powdered Sugar box:

5 Minute Buttercream Frosting

1 lb. box of C&H Pure Cane Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter, softened (we usually use less than this)

Countdown to Christmas

i know, i is not even halloween yet. however, here is a project you can get started on right now and have it ready by christmas. this is my kids' favorite christmas tradition. i collected 24 red and green socks (mostly toddler socks from old navy) and clipped them on a red rope with numbered clothespins. each morning the sock contained a little gift. so get on it and start shopping for socks.

Chore Chart

this summer i made a chore chart for my kids. that way they would know exactly what they needed to do each day. it became a great routine that they stuck to all summer. we hung it on the refrigerator so we could all see what they needed to do and what they had accomplished. i bought the pockets at the dollar store. there was a pocket for the things they needed to do, one for what they had finished, and one for their big weekly chore. i printed words or pictures telling them what their job was. then i punched it in a circle shape and glued it to a popsicle stick. each child had about ten chores per day according to their ability and then two big jobs they were in charge of all week. the weekly chores were rotated each monday.

Pictures + Books

i love putting pictures everywhere. but my entertainment center was getting too cluttered with so many frames. i love how books displayed in magazines always seem to go together. mine always seem mismatched. i was inspired by a picture in a pottery barn magazine and decided to cover my books with blown up photos. now i still can display lots of photos and my books look like they go together. i used group photos and picked one person in the group to show on the spine of the book.

Ribbon Holder

do you love buying ribbon as much as me? i always buy some "just in case" i ever need that color. plus it looks pretty sitting on my shelf. i have been putting mine in jars but most of the time i need the ribbon at the very bottom. so i have to dump the whole jar out. so we made these holders. the ribbon is much easier to get to. the bottom is precut unfinished wood from hobby lobby. we drilled holes to stick the dowels in and bought round dowel toppers to put on top (also from hobby lobby). we put all of our christmas ribbon on one so when are wrapping presents it's all right there. the kids have one just for their ribbon too.

An Apple A Day

we love making (and eating) sugar cookies. there are so many cute cookie cutters. you can make a cookie to go with every occasion. these cute apple cookies were for the girls to give their teachers. there's nothing wrong with a little brown nosing!

Curl Power

have you tried this? i love trying new make-up products. i have tried many of the mascaras at sephora. i have liked some and not liked some but never loved any. i was in desperate need of new mascara and i happened to be at wal-mart. i called my sister and asked if there were any mascaras that she had tried and liked. she told me about some maybelline mascaras that she has tried. this was one of those. it has a clear primer that you apply first (we love primers) that makes the black easier to apply. the two coats together stay all day and never flakes. don't forget to curl your eyelashes first and make them really pop! try might like it!