Most Anticipated Post All Year! My Elf On The Shelf Adventures of 2012!

So for you folks who do not know about Elf On The Shelf, well bless your heart! Look it up…try Google (amazing little thing Google is, huh?!) Anywho, for those who are very familiar with the little red elf, whether it be that he resides at your home each year or you’re enduring all your friends post photo after photo on Facebook (yes I’m one of those folks!), I’m going to share our adventures this year. 

This is our second year of the little red guy visiting us each night and I have to admit, the creative juices are starting to run out. I made myself a promise to not cheat and look online for ideas this year. I’m not saying it’s wrong to search Pinterest for hours or copy off other people’s Facebook pics so that’s why I’m sharing with everyone this post. Maybe you’ll find some fresh ideas to get you through the next few days until it’s time for your little elf to head back home. I’m sure some of our elf’s little antics have been done before (maybe they discuss strategy when they head back to the North Pole every night to check in with ole Saint Nick) but I can honestly say, I’ve done my best to be “original”. 

Let me start by saying, I usually have NO CLUE what our elf might come up with until long after my 4 year old has gone to bed. Oh! Let me throw in this disclaimer before I go any further: If you’re one of those who has an elf that just sits there and maybe every other day or so moves from one end table to the next…I ain’t hatin’ ya…your kid might, but who am I to judge! Back to my point of gathering ideas, the elf genius comes from standing in my kid’s playroom thinking “What in the H_ _ _ am I going to come up with next?!”

It’s really been a challenge this year because we’ve spent part of our time in our RV…Holy Limited Space And Props Batman!  I hope you enjoy our elf, his name is Jingles by the way…left that out earlier. Here’s to another year of crazy elf-ness!

Jingles making his presence known on the first day of Elf season

2012
My child is a Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong freak. He thought it was cool that his elf wanted to play with him.
2012
“Elf SMASH!” (Guess you’d have to have the Hulk toy to get this one.)
2012
Way to repurpose that left over pumpkin from Halloween!
2012
Ahhhh yes! Spa day! Complete with marshmallow bubble bath and a gauze towel.
2012
I’m not big on paying a ton for props so a .99 bag of bows fit right in my budget.
2012
That’s just funny stuff right there. Even changing the wording on the frame.
2012
Tree climbing elf!
2012
Nothing like waking up to streamer everywhere.
2012
Taken hostage by ninjas…those ninjas are pretty sneaky!
Note to self: Never put your husband in charge of toothpaste decor! That stuff dries up quicker than a pond in Texas during the heat of summer.
We’re headed back home. No elf left behind!
So the elf got put in the front seat with me as to help my child not fall into the temptation of touching it (check out elf rule #1). I thought it only appropriate that he help navigate.
ok, what’s funny about this pic is the fact that Rex is playing Whack A Mole…seriously, with those arms?!
Red Solo Cup Elf! One of my faves!
This was the original plan on the night of Red Solo Cup Elf. My husband said it wasn’t very G rated. I still find it funny!
All of the bad guys joined forces (haters!) to tie up the elf. I guess they figured he was getting too much attention.
On the day that all the bad guys tied up the elf, my son says “It would be funny if Jingles tied them up.” Why yes son! It WOULD be funny…thank you for helping me plan ahead that day and knowing what would be next on the antics list.
Again, I don’t like to spend a lot on props and it seems like these that are the most simple are the ones my son enjoys the most.
We finally got our holiday plans figured out and low and behold, the elf decided that we needed our tree put up! Yay!!!! So glad I didn’t have to fool with it!
Let’s play ball! I still think it would be funny if someone had one of those 3D stickers that looks like a baseball has been thrown through the window. Talk about an elf needing some money for an insurance deductible!
Getting chocolate wasted!
Oh my!!! This one earned a bent over belly laugh by a 4 year old!!!
Just hanging around.
p.s. for those of you who didn’t know, it is safe to cut the little string off the elf’s hands. Bread ties work GREAT for tricks like this one when you need their hands back together.
Another one of those nights of standing around waiting for inspiration to jump out at me! Thanks to a little bit of flour, a long toothpick, and 3 marshmallows…a snowman was born!
At dinner my son had practiced using chopsticks. My husband brought them home and taa daa…instant idea! Yay!
Oh Cricut how I love thee! Apparently Jingles loves it too!
I had made mention that if the elf can put up the tree then he should start wrapping presents too. Glad somebody listens to me in this house! Ha!
You can always count on a dry erase crayon to get you through tough times! And it cleans off things much easier than lipstick!

And to add a little extra to this post, here’s a trip down memory lane at the fun we had our first year with the little red guy!

Who knew elves knew how to drive tractors!
Just doing a little cooking.
Jingles arrived on a snowflake parachute!
Yeee haww partner!
Another one of the times that this wasn’t my original plan…the original plan was for the elf to be eaten by a shark but that was frowned upon by management.
Yup…Jingles can spell!
Just chillin’ on the beach.
Hanging out in the tree. Clearly not one of my most creative/original ideas.
Gotta hate it when that happens. Now he knows how some cats feel!
This was probably my favorite last year. My husband came walking in with this big rock and we just kind of went from there. I made the hook, attached the goldfish and of course my husband added the “tree” for extra appeal.
Glad he learned pretty quick to stay out of my coffee!
Cookie dunking! It took 2.9 seconds for my child to eat the cookies on the counter!
“There’s an elf in my boot!” Get it? From Toy Story?
My son was OBSESSED with cheese balls. This did not go over well.
Jingles reading his autobiography.
Best part about this day? New coloring books!
GASP! Someone touched Jingles!! He was sick all day!
Slam Dunk Jingles!
Ah yes! No practical joke is complete without a little TP’ing!
Another one I loved! Roasting marshmallows over a tootsie roll fire.

Another one I loved! Roasting marshmallows over a tootsie roll fire.

It's E.T. (Elf Terrestrial)

It’s E.T. (Elf Terrestrial)

Let's go racing boys!

Let’s go racing boys!

Candy case rope climbing

Candy cane rope climbing

Did you know elf milk is green?!

Did you know elf milk is green?!

Our elf does laundry! He's definitely welcomed back every year.

Our elf does laundry! He’s definitely welcomed back every year.

We made it our vacation spot in Florida.

We made it our vacation spot in Florida.

Jingles enjoying some Florida sun!

Jingles enjoying some Florida sun!

We were sad to see him go.

We were sad to see him go.

I hope everyone that has an Elf On The Shelf enjoys it as much as we do. This is the best time of the year for us and we have so much fun with it! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

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What Happens When A Southern Girl Heads North

When I started this blog I knew that I would be embracing my Southern roots but boy oh boy I had no idea how much I would be reflecting on them until now. Let me start by saying this is not a “Let’s bash the North” post but rather a comparison of the things I’ve encountered since we left on our journey last Saturday.

Just a little background as to the reason why I would even CONSIDER an extended stay in the north, let alone one during the winter. My husband’s job ended in Texas and his most solid job offer was in North Dakota. So after much discussion, prayer, and consultations from Nate’s dad, we decided to purchase an RV and head north. The RV was a must have for many reasons, mainly from a financial stand point and because of our dog. Hotels for some reason welcome little annoying yappy dogs all day long but intimidated by a large dog…whatever!

Back to our journey…we left Texas last Saturday after a very long day of prep. Nothing like taking your car for a front end alignment and finding out yet another tire is bad (Goodyear is the worst tire made in my opinion). After a lot of hustle we got that fixed. Then it was on to getting the brake system on our truck fixed before we started towing the RV. 6:00 pm rolled around and were finally on our way. We only made it 150 miles before exhaustion kicked in and we stopped for the night. Bright and early the next morning we left out of Brady, TX and continue on. Lordy Texas is a BIG state! We made a stop in some little town in Texas for lunch and to celebrate our little man’s 4th birthday. In the midst of all the chaos surrounding this huge decision we still made time for the important things in life. So on through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and South Dakota we go. We stopped for the evening in Rapid City, SD. The next morning we made a stop by Sturgis and visited the Full Throttle Saloon…LOVE IT! We continued our journey to Watford City, ND and could not find a decent RV park anywhere. Tired, exhausted, and stressed beyond belief we decide to head for the closest “big” town, Williston, ND. This is where things went south (no pun intended) and my opinions of the north begin.

Besides the obvious Southern draw, the overly used expression “bless your heart”, and the embedded manners of using the term ma’am and sir when addressing folks (yes, we call them folks, not people) the South is just nice. We’re nice to folks whether they’re our neighbor or enemy, we’re nice to our family, we’re nice to our pets…we’re just nice. The folks in the north seem to have missed that memo. When we hit about the Kansas state line it was like a switch was flipped. You can walk into a gas station and say hello and the cashier looks at you like you’re speaking a foreign language. Even my just turned 4 year old said “Thank you sir” to a guy that held the door open for him and the guy looked at him like he had just said a cuss word. Since we’ve been in North Dakota we’ve dealt with nothing but rudeness. No sense of customer service, no sense of compassion…nothing but attitudes as cold as the weather. Now I’m not saying that every single person who lives “up north” is rude or lacks compassion…this is just what I’ve experienced in 4 states in the last week. These people need to loosen up…smile every once in awhile…develop a sense of humor. It’s really kinda bumming me out.

Who knows how long we’ll be here but one thing’s for sure…I’m not going to let the Grumpy McGrumpy’s change my Southern way of life but rather give me greater sense of pride of how I was raised. I will continue to use my Southern twang when saying my ma’am’s and sir’s and not deter my son from being polite even in the face of someone who hasn’t ever been introduced to the wrong end of a plum switch. At the end of the day all I can do is walk out with my chin up and just shake my head and say “bless their hearts”.

Busy, busy summer!

Holy cow! I knew I hadn’t blogged in awhile but gosh, I’ve been a complete slacker! I’ve had such a busy summer and I hope I can recap everything into one post.

Let’s see, June brought Father’s Day and my birthday. I made a super cute craft for Nate for Father’s Day that incorporated his hand with both Tristan and Ethan’s hands and he absolutely LOVED it! I received the Cricut Expression 2 as my Mother’s Day/Anniversary gift so I was thankful to have that to do the lettering for the frame. 

Father’s Day 2012

My birthday was filled with all kinds of fun that involved Magic Mike, beer, and Boba Fett! We saw the movie at an awesome theater that serves food and drinks during the movie! We honestly didn’t care if the movie was good or not…we had beer and Channing Tatum.

Getting ready to see Magic Mike! (notice the big JUG of beer! It was awesome!)

OH! Did I mention my friends “gifted” me with a life size cut out of Boba Fett?! He was standing at my front door on my birthday and luckily my husband didn’t shoot him when he left for work that morning.

Mandy, Kat, and Boba Fett

July brought more birthdays, 4th of July (of course), my first attempt at a beer pong tournament, my daughter came to Texas for a short visit, and trip to Florida to visit our family and attend my (gulp) 20 year reunion!!!  

If you even know me a little bit I can be a bit of a prankster…so with my friends thinking they had the upper hand on me with the whole surprise Boba Fett thing at my door I felt paybacks were in order.  For Mandy’s birthday our whole group of friends decided to show up unannounced at her house and basically have a pretend BBQ complete with BBQ pit, empty beer keg, radio, cooler of beer…you name it we had it! It was pretty awesome although Mandy’s husband (who was recovering from the previous night’s beer pong tournament) didn’t find it very amusing.

BBQ at Mandy’s…SURPRISE!

Beer Pong Tournament…and can I just say, the girls kicked butt!

My friend Kat’s birthday was also during July and she let it slip out that she HATES pigs! Well, of course I made a mental note and left these cute little fellas all in her yard along with a good old fashioned forking! I had a great time drawing up these pigs!

Happy Birthday Kat!

My youngest daughter made her way to Texas in mid July. Our time together is so precious to me and I just soaked up every minute I could. (another reason why I haven’t blogged in forever) We spent our time checking out a few of the tourist hot spots that we hadn’t gone to the last time she was here. She’s absolutely IN LOVE with the city and is already making plans to move here for college so I’m super excited about that possibility. We also visited the Japanese Tea Gardens http://www.saparksfoundation.org/japaneseteagarden.html 

and took some photos that will be used as her “official” Sweet 16 pictures. We visited the Riverwalk a couple of times and her favorite part was seeing how beautiful it is at night.  

Enjoying an evening at the Riverwalk

Sweet 16 sneak peek!

After a week in Texas we began our 14 hour drive to Florida. Nate had been there for a few days and was soaking up that wonderful Florida sun and Tristan was chomping at the bits to see his Daddy, see his Papa, and of course play on the beach. No road trip is complete without a stop at The Shed BBQ in Ocean Springs, MS. By far THE BEST BBQ ever!!! 

http://theshedbbq.com/

Get Fed at The Shed!

We had a great time just enjoying time with all the kids and I finally got to spend some time with my oldest daughter and her boyfriend. My 20 year reunion was a 2 night event and it was great to see old friends and take a walk down memory lane. 

Sunset in Panama City Beach, FL

Even Superman got to go to the beach!

My not-so baby girls!

20 year reunion

So far August has brought our little family trying to get back into routine again. Tristan is back at t-ball practice, Nate is back at work, the dog is happy to be at home, and I’m still cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and trying to stay cool. We did have another Mom’s Night Out event that was a wigging out theme. We all wore wigs and went out to a couple of restaurants for food and drinks. We had a BLAST! I did learn that if/when I wear my wig again I have got to come up with a better game plan for putting all this hair up.  

“Wigging” Out!

As far as all my plants that I was sooo proud of…this Texas heat has been tough on them and I’m still trying to revive them since my trip to Florida. 100+ degree heat plus no watering for a few days did a number on them all. I was able to get a good batch of basil picked before I left and we made some really good basil pesto using a recipe from my friend Tara’s blog at www.dellaroseliving.com.

Find the recipe here: http://www.dellaroseliving.com/basil-pesto-recipe/.

I hope to be back very soon with some new recipes and to share some more fun stories! 

“MOMMY! My SEEDS are sticking out!”

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it would be a fun little project for Tristan and I to plant some herbs and a few other vegetables. I had to plant them in something portable so that when/if we move we wouldn’t have to give up all our hard work. For the past couple of weeks our daily routine has consisted of watering our seeds that we had spent one afternoon planting. Tristan got bored rather quickly at the whole seed planting thing and I’m sure the only way I’ve been able to keep his attention with every day watering has been the fact that he gets to play in the water for a few minutes. 

It may take a few extra trips to fill up the watering can but this is big fun for a 3 year old!

So, to our excitement today (mostly his because I knew that one day we would be watering more than the dirt) we have started seeing little sprouts pop up, hence his declaration “MOMMY! My seeds are sticking out!” He was so proud and so excited that he’s FINALLY seeing something! It’s in these little moments like this you can teach your children the very tangible meaning of “you reap what you sow”.  I’m sad that I lived life at a faster pace when my girls were this age, yet appreciative that I have this chance to give Tristan some of the experiences I had as a child. 

The beginnings of a planter box full of green onions.

While planting the seeds I thought back to a story my dad still loves to tell from our days in Alabama. My mother and father planted a garden every year and I guess I felt the need to “help”. I was very young so I either do not remember this or I was falsely accused, wink wink. While they were working hard planting their garden I found the butter bean seeds! Once the seeds started sprouting all over the yard they come to the very quick conclusion that little Toni Lynn had her own little green thumb. From the looks of our seeds, Tristan might have acquired that same green thumb.

Little bitty cilantro sprouts!

I still wonder if my butter beans grew better than the ones they planted in their garden…hummmm

Do It Yourself Coasters = Easiest Craft EVER!

I originally found this craft idea on Pinterest (imagine that!) but I wanted to share how I did them just in case there’s one person out there who isn’t a Pinterest addict like I am. This craft is super easy, but I did find it time consuming because I’m a perfectionist. This is a great gift idea for Christmas or even Mother’s Day. 

Items needed:

4×4 ceramic tiles

Felt

Mod Podge

Sponge paint brush

Photos

Clear spray paint

Yup, that’s it!

Tristan and I spent the day at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens (I’ll post specifically about that later) and I got a lot of really cute shots of him. I saved up a few coupon codes through Shutterfly and printed 4×6 photos for practically nothing. The tiles were extremely inexpensive (about .16 each at Home Depot) and I got the black felt and mod podge at Hobby Lobby. All in all I probably have about $20.00 invested and created a TON of coasters.

Basically, cut your photo down to size. Brush a thin layer of mod podge on the tile then apply the photo. Give it a few seconds to set then begin your first layer of mod podge.  This is where it takes up the most time. I would do a batch of coasters then let the glue dry overnight.  When you apply the mod podge it will be white. Don’t worry, it will dry clear. Because these are being used for beverages, I didn’t want to take the chance of the glass sweating and seeping through the layers of glue and warp the photo. After several layers of mod podge I then spray a layer of clear spray paint over each coaster to seal in everything then wait another day for drying. At this point, I begin to cut out the black felt for the back of each coaster. This is a must so that the tile doesn’t scratch table tops. I applied another layer of mod podge then attached the felt and allow to dry. TAA DAA! You’re done!

I made lots and lots of coasters for Christmas gifts, these are in different stages of completion.

Another spin I did on the coasters was to turn some into wall art. I found some decorative ribbon and glued to the back of the tile before placing the felt.  I decided to do this alternative for my girls because they really don’t need coasters but loved the idea.  

Making coasters into wall art.

View of the back side of the coasters. Super easy to cut felt and glue to the back.

Bubble Blowing = Appreciation

As I was sitting outside yesterday blowing bubbles with my 3 year old son I started thinking about how simple this time was, yet so very special for both of us. As I’ve gotten older I’ve started learning to appreciate and respect how precious time is. Time is something you can never get back so I try to enjoy even the small things.

So, as I sat outside I thought “Why not document my way of life, the things I’ve learned, the roads I’ve taken, and the roads I’m traveling.” These thoughts led me to create this blog. I hope to share lots of fun stories of the past and present, some of my best Southern recipes, and anything else that reminds me of the great South.