Category Archives: Winter

minted // what i found

{source: minted}

Hello Friends!

I am in love with this season of festivities and giving and joy and life! Even if it does fall in the winter, my least loved season. 😉 Aaaaand, one of my favorite seasonal topics is this: I want to talk Christmas greetings/cards today. 

I began doing Christmas cards to send all of my friends way back in high school. I loved snail mail (which back then was just called “mail”, um, hello) and I was obsessed with paper and stamps and handwriting, etc.

Then I got married and I will never forget the first photo-type Christmas greeting that I ever sent out from Chad and myself. It was a corny, funny heavily-photoshopped photo of us layered over some fake cactus in the background with some photoshopped santa hats on our heads. We sent those babies out like it was the best thing we had ever seen. (If I can find a copy of it, I will post it here, because it is pretty epic.) We mainly sent that out because we had just moved across country that summer from Tennessee to Arizona, hence the funny cactus background, and didn’t know a soul. That was in 2001 and I have been crazy for funny or beautiful Christmas greeting ever since, but the times and designs have definitely classed it up a notch.

We skipped the years that we had winter babies because we chose to just send out announcements those years, and the last two years we have sent nothing because we honestly couldn’t find a photo-card-quality family photo in time and didn’t have time to have one taken. So, I just said oh well as much as it pained me to do so.

I love cards, mail, and photos so I wanted to share with you some beautiful designs I have found through a company called Minted. There designs are gorgeous! Every year it gets even better and they add more and more designers and styles. A great variety for every style and they really know how to work with you.

Here are some of my favorite designs that I wish I was using (we shall see if I can come up with a photo) because there is still time to send them out! 😉

Cozy Snow Holiday Photo Card (same as shown above) by designer, Ashley Hegarty:

I love how sweet and simplistic this one is. Because it really highlights the photo you choose and the backs of these have great options, as well. PLUS, hello….free addressing of the envelopes?! Yes, please!

Gorgeous, right?

Next I found this one. Watercolor Noel Holiday Photo Card by designer, Annie Mertlich:

This one just makes me happy. :) The artwork is happy, natural, and the colors are really great. Watercolor is just a great relaxed feel anyway.

Examples of the back of the card choices….

And you always need a little gold at the holidays. Don’t argue. Just do it. 😉 Going with the same idea of the watercolor again, this time with a banner and real gold foil-press on it. Hello, glam! I give you the Watercolor Bunting Foil-Pressed Holiday Card by Wind-Up Key Press.

Check out that shine! I’m in love with this one. And because of that, you must see a close-up. Seriously….

Beautiful, classic, a bit of glam, but still understated and not stuffy. Great for the modern family! :)

One last one for you, or I could post these all day. For real. Check this out – this one is too cute and fun and fresh AND it appeals to me because we have not sent out Christmas cards once since we have lived in our current home. Also, because we moved in here the week after Thanksgiving 2 years ago and it was nuts. This card reminds me of that time and I wish this option had been out there because it would have been a perfect moving/holiday card all in one. This cutie is called the Mod Move Holiday Photo Card by designer, Kristen Smith. ADORABLE!

And here is a great shot of it all assembled with front, backing, and envelope with the coordinating liner and address wrap tag. So fresh (and so clean, clean.) I would want to just hang this up in my house for a little piece of artwork every year if someone sent me one of these!

I hope you see something here that you like. If not, there are TONS of designs that are just amazing. I tried to choose a variety of my favorites, but there are even more styles that might fit YOU and your family more appropriately. Go take a peek at Minted. You will not be sorry.

I also love that you can upload one of your own family photos into the website and it will show you what each card will look like with that photo. It’s a no-brainer, really. They have truly taken the difficulty out of ordering holiday cards.

Speaking of “holiday” cards? Every card I looked at had the option of changing the wording from a Holiday saying, a Christmas saying, or a New Year’s saying. Pretty sweet if you ask me.

If you place an order before midnight on the 8th (that’s Monday, friends) then you can receive 15% off your order with code SNOW15FS. PLUS FREE SHIPPING. Did you read that? FREE SHIPPING and a discount code. Yes. Click over quickly and then come back and tell me what you ordered. 😉 Maybe even send me a holiday card. Maybe? Ok, maybe that was taking it a bit far. (But I do love mail. hint hint.)

As for the business side, I know that I’m supposed to let you know that I am receiving compensation for writing this post in partnership with Minted, but let’s get real – I’ve been perusing their site for the last couple of years and their designs always blow me away. I have been already peeking through their designs for this year before I was ever approached. So there you have it. I wanted to share them with my pals, too! Also, all of these photos were taken from the Minted site with permission for this post.

Happy Holiday/Christmas/New Year’s card shopping!

xoxo, Amanda


I Will Survive

If you know me well, then you know I don’t like the winter season.
It’s just cold. 
Too. Freezing. Cold. 
I’m a summertime girl and could live in a bathing suit,
all oiled up,
book in hand,
lying on a float in the pool
on the hottest days here….
for the rest of my life. No lie.
yesterday it started snowing and when I finally raised my weary head after the 3rd time hitting snooze on my alarm clock, I went to check my cell phone and Maddox’s teacher had texted me this:

“No school today.”

In my head, I suddenly broke into The Hallelujah Chorus.

And I can handle that. : )
You know why?
Pardon me, as I share two important (horrible quality) cell phone photos from after school yesterday.
Reason #1 that we will survive the next few months:
Oh yes. He reads now. Chapter books! Alone!
He just discovered The Magic Treehouse Series two nights ago with me and he wants to read them all the time now. He literally asks if he can read them when he wakes up, before bed, after school. He is so excited about finishing each chapter and moving onto the next. 
I am giddy with excitement that I might have a fellow bookworm in this house! : )
And for the more active member of our home….Reason #2:
Baby got a brand new bike.
Yes! And she loves it! So does Brother.

(I just realized that she’s wearing one of her new aprons in the above photo. Aunt Heather – she loves it! She received 2 for her birthday, which was great because she didn’t have one yet, and both of them were given to her by two different Heathers. They are so adorable and she wears both. Ha!)

Back to the bike. This is so fantastic actually….the trike is a Trek Trikester/Trekster and it has real wheels.
We found this used locally, but in perfect condition. Normally retails for over $200, but my thrifty self found it for $75. SCORE! The awesome thing is that our downstairs has an entire “track” for them to ride on the hardwood floors. 
If you’ve been here, you know….if you haven’t, here’s how it works. : )
You start in the kitchen, then speed through the long hall to the foyer (as shown above),
then make a sharp right through the dining room, continue through the butler’s pantry into the kitchen.
Another sharp right take you THROUGH the kitchen and back around to where you started. 
You’re pretty much going in a large circle around our stair case and closet, 
Maddox loves it and speeds so fast that he tips over. 
After seeing them do this today (or riding together since there are “running boards” on the back for another person to stand or kneel on and hang on tight to the driving/pedaling sibling) I realize that we will make it through this winter. 
In addition to the above new additions to our lives, our house organization is undergoing some changes that will also aid in wintertime boredom. I pray.
As they grow, I constantly need to rearrange areas in our home to suit our growing needs and the main one right now is our sunroom. My current focus and plan is to turn it into a craft/art/homework room for children and have enough space for everyone who comes over to play. These changes are very quickly spilling over into the other areas of our home and I’m very excited about moving out of the stage of having all of my rooms so baby & toddler friendly!! : ) I have big kids now!
I picked up some used children’s furniture for an absolute steal today and will refinish it when warmer weather arrives. But for now it is usable. I’m hoping to share photos soon as I get after-holiday life back under control. Until then….

10 Simple Ideas for Surviving Cabin Fever

Along with winter and the end of the holidays, things start feeling really depressing for me each year.

I’m cold and summer seems way to far away, the dreariness makes me tired, my kids have cabin fever because they are (a) either sick or (b) out of school because of snow, and the sun goes down around 4:45pm. So your morning is really the only time to run errands or get out before the temperature drops again. My kids are waking up while it’s dark in the morning and I really just want to crawl in bed and sleep all day. Many days the kids and I never make it out of pajamas because I just can’t quite get it together. Sounds so pathetic when I write it out like this, but it’s the truth.

And we survive. As Maddox would say, “This is how we DO it!” 😉 Here are my 10 best activities for these cold/sick/snowy months:

1. Get some stamps & ink. I bought this Melissa & Doug Deluxe Alphabet Stamp Set of the entire alphabet (uppercase & lowercase plus punctuation) from Homegoods back in the summer and just now gave it to them. They already had a Melissa & Doug Vehicle Stamp Set , but I felt that Maddox would enjoy stamping words he knows with these. Maggie can work on her alphabet at the same time! They BOTH love it. Maggie ends up stamping all over herself, but I don’t really care. She’s happy. Maddox is happy. I’M HAPPY.

2. Find a chalkboard. Maddox got this Mala Easel for Christmas ($14.99 at Ikea) and of course, they both are digging it. There is a dry erase board on the other side and a paper roll which I haven’t even set up for them yet. But chalk! What kid doesn’t love chalk?!


3. Line up baby dolls. 😉 Okay, so this is something very OCD that Maggie does. She lines up everything veeeeerrrrry perfectly including DVDs, Matchbox cars, her babies, plastic animals, cards…you name it, she organizes it. It bought me 20 minutes of time so I’m including it here. Plus, I love these pics of my old baby dolls. (Did anyone else have this yellow Honey Doll back in the late 70’s? Maddox named it Alex.)

4. We watch birds. It’s maybe more me that watches them and am continuously saying “Hey guys, hurry…look at the birds over there!!!” They humor me and come running and stand at the windows and laugh with me and scare the birds away in doing so. It’s all fun. We are lucky enough to have this amazing sun room on the back of our house that is an overlook down into a little valley and the mountains and sunset beyond. There is a 100-acre farm (I’ve been told that’s the size) behind us and that’s pretty much it! They sell produce and Chad and Maddox have walked down before to bring vegetables home. It is beautiful and one of my favorite places to sit with the kids. We hear owls at night, horses, wild turkeys come running through our street and back yards, and I’m thankful for this place. We can look out all the windows and see thousands of birds landing in the trees above us while we sit cozily on our pumpkin colored sofa. :)

5. We take photos. My kids love nothing more than for me to round them up into the sunroom (where the light is totally amazing) and take hundreds of photos of them. Ha! Yeah, right. They don’t love it, but Maddox is a little poser and so photogenic and I pretty much finish with him quickly and chase his sister around trying to get a non-blurry photo. But it kills time and I sometimes catch some great photos or the perfect expressions that mean so much to me for this season in our lives.

6. Legos. Legos! LEGOS!!! How did we live before Maddox started Lego-ing at the ripe age of 3? I’ll never know. Oh wait. He used to nap. But napping had stopped by that age, so I owe the makers of Lego a big Thank You. Creative, Imaginative, QUIET play is perfect. For all of us actually. Maggie loves building little creations and I love helping if they need it. And he learns to help her if I can’t.

7. Crayons! Maddox had never seen a Crayola 64 Pack before (Remember getting your first pack for a school year? So magical!) and I had purchased about 5 packs in the summer for about $2.50 each on a great sale. So I brought these out last week during Maggie’s naptime. These are just for him and he loves taking his time picking out just the right color.

8. Paints! Again, these are mostly reserved for a quiet, creative play just for Maddox while his sister naps. Sometimes I will let her paint as well, but she’s another story. I have to sit right by her side if she has any writing utensil because she will always sneak away and start writing on a non-Amanda-approved surface. No fail.  Blank paper, paint and a paintbrush = perfect creation! We bought this Mala Paint Box with paints, colored pencils, and chunky crayons from Ikea. (So, maybe Joy Nudd and I went a little nuts in the kid’s section at Ikea on our Girl’s weekend back in September? It’s all so inexpensive, you just can’t help yourself!)

9. We have tea parties and play in Maggie’s kitchen. I have been so thankful for her new kitchen and Maddox’s new play store since Christmas! (I will write more on these two items later.) We put these in the sunroom so they are right by my kitchen. I can keep an eye on them and hear them while they play. Their wooden table is in there with their 2 red wooden chairs and they buy from each other, take it to the kitchen, “cook” a meal and serve it on the dishes at their table. It’s the cutest thing I’ve seen in a long time. And hearing the one-sided dialogue of Maddox to Maggie is so precious. (You think I could put a wire on him and record it all? If only….)

10. Just play. :) These kids love nothing more than for me to get down in the floor with them and snuggle, wrestle, twirl in the air, and all the other number of things you can still do with a 30-35 lb child. And watching them giggle and laugh out loud over it makes it even better. They are much more well-behaved after they receive that close attention and contact so it’s a win-win for all of us.

Yesterday I took a “Yes Day.”

I have been so busy for a month with cleaning, making food, buying gifts, planning meals, entertaining, planning parties, having parties, etc, that I have been saying No a lot. And it has made me sad and regretful and their attitudes have been showing the effects of it. Sunday, we had Maggie’s birthday party (pics to follow this week!) and since I had nothing pressing for this weekend, I gave myself a Yes Day with them.

Almost every time they asked me to play something, I tried to say YES! I made waffles & eggs for dinner last night because Maddox always asks and I always say no, but not this time! I didn’t do laundry, I didn’t do dishes, I didn’t clean one single thing. I took time to bathe both of them, brush their teeth, clip their fingernails/toenails, lotion up their poor dry winter skin and then sit and snuggle with them before bed a little more than I normally take the time to do. They loved every second. They were pleasant ALL DAY. Of course, I can’t do this every day, but I’m wanting to make a point to do more “Yes” moments. :)

And now to my soapbox: CREATIVE PLAY. I can not stress to you enough the importance of this. Don’t buy the gadgets. Don’t buy the battery operated toys. Give the kids the opportunity to entertain themselves. I see so many kids that get so bored, so quickly with all the gadgets they have at home and it’s really because they have forgotten how to think on their own. I love watching them imitate adult tasks at home like cooking, cleaning, dialogue, and then building things and making up games! Maddox literally makes up his own games with any little thing he finds. A piece of string, a bouncy ball, a frisbee…anything can be anything in their minds. Just give them the chance. We’re trying to keep the innocence in this house, while pushing their minds educationally in ways we find appropriate.

I’m not saying I’m perfect at this. If I need a nap desperately when Maggie is sleeping, I will set Maddox up with a computer game and let him play for a little while. Or watch a show (which I’m soooo particular about.) But in reality, the TV only comes on when she’s napping or if Chad is not here and I need a quick shower. I don’t turn on the TV for myself unless they are both in bed. They don’t ever see me watching it. I’ll step off the soapbox now.

So, I hope you enjoyed the ideas for when your kids are driving you nuts with being at home for days on end…and the photos. Always the photos. 😉