Monday, December 24, 2012

Our Elf on the Shelf: A Cautionary Tale

Merry Christmas Eve! So I'm sure you've heard of the The Elf on the Shelf*, a tradition that was started in our home back in 2008. Dylan is so eager to find the Elf each morning (ours is named Blooper) and is so enchanted with him. I catch Dylan talking to him, telling him the good things he's done and updating him on his wish list.

If you're not familiar, the elf visits from the North Pole and changes location each night after returning to Santa to update him on your child's behaviors. A story book with the Elf outlines the details and reminds your child to never touch the Elf or he will lose his magic.

Cue mistake on our end.

A babysitter came to watch Dylan one evening (while we attended the SMASHING PUMPKINS in concert OMG it was fantastic, hearing Billy [yes of course we're on a first name basis] play 'Bullet with Butterfly Wings' and 'Disarm' AND an awesome 'Space Oddity' cover live was, I digress)... So a babysitter came and was unfamiliar with the 'rules' surrounding the Elf and we overlooked letting her know. Dylan woke up the next morning to get ready for school and was upset, telling me that the babysitter didn't know and moved the Elf, and he didn't move and now his magic is gone! (Again, completely our fault for not sharing this information re: not touching the Elf).

So, I did what any parent would do on 4 hours of sleep (did I mention I was out rocking to the Smashing Pumpkins live late into the night before?) and googled: What to do if someone touches your elf on the shelf. Surprisingly G-rated and appropriate results came up.

Thanks to Southern Disposition, I was able to act fast. We quickly e-mailed Santa himself, asking what to do, and about 15 minutes later (MAN he's fast for such a busy person), we received our response:

Forgive the grammatical errors... I (ahem, er I mean Santa) was on 4 hours of sleep here.
Dylan. was. thrilled! He went off to school, and when he returned home, the following was waiting in our mailbox, magically:

"Mailed via Reindeer Express; Caution: Magic Elf Dust enclosed"

We sprinkled the Magic Elf Dust on Blooper, and he returned to the North Pole that evening and ended up in a different spot the next morning. Dylan still excitedly talks to him and continues to jump out of bed to look for him each morning.

Belief in Santa Claus: saved. Cue: self high-five.

Merry, merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas...

Like I said, I get really excited about Christmas. So, here is part 3 (I think the final portion but I make no guarantees) of my holiday decorations. This portion of the tour takes you to: my kitchen.

On top of my cabinet (that stores candle-making supplies and candles) we have a frosted cranberry tree, and two plates that I made with Dylan when he was itty-bitty. The left plate is his hand prints in wreath-form from 2005 (zomg, so little!) when he was 2, and the right is a reindeer made from his hand- and footprint in 2004 when he was 1.

On top of the cabinets sits our Santa (can you see the theme here, we love the guy is all I can say) with his sleigh and reindeer.

I added jingle bells and a red candle to my candle vase.

And the grand finale, my centerpiece tray to which I added jingle bells and small glittery ornaments to surround 3 of my holiday-scented candles.

Please excuse the mess of bags/containers in the background, our 'treat table' is currently overflowing (but not for long bwahahah)
I am enjoying the festive look around here and all the warm candlelights and tree lights add a warm, comforting glow in the evening.

We've been hosting a 'hot cocoa bar' nightly for ourselves, accruing our beverages with our choice of Christmas-tree shaped Peeps, mint M & M's, candy canes, and whipped cream covered in cinnamon or sprinkles. We've been sipping these delectable creations while watching our Christmas classics DVDs. Tonight we'll be renting 'Arthur Christmas.' Before bed, we read one of our favorite Christmas stories, so far we've covered Bear Stays Up for Christmas, The Polar Express, The Christmas Magic, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Bad Kitty Christmas and more. We save "The Muppets Christmas Carol" movie and The Night Before Christmas (illustrated by Jan Brett) for our Christmas eve tradition.

I try to emphasize to Dylan that Christmas is a time to spend with family, friends and loved ones and enjoy their company. I hope we are conveying that through all of our traditions.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

After a busy week, I'm back to share more of my holiday decorations. I previously shared my Pinterest-inspired ones, and here are the ones in the living room and outside on the porch...

We added a Dylan-made wreath to the mirror with ribbon, and a few of our favorite Christmas classics (Frosty and the Grinch with Max) to the bench. On top of the shoe organizer sits a little holiday vignette:

Gold and red ornaments round out the previously pumpkin-filled vase, and poinsettias replace my fall mums. The little nutcracker is from CVS, and one of my holiday-scented Mason jar candles adds warm candlelight at night.

These are our beautiful hand-knit stockings, made by my mom. She made Dylan's extra-large so Santa would spoil him!

On top of the TV armoire sits another one of my candles, surrounded by a wreath. The Santa rustic wood piece was a new purchase this year, Justin saw it in Cost Plus World Market and we both loved it.

On the bookshelves, we have our Dylan-made Christmas town.

And a garland that matches our Christmas tree. The large ornament was a gift from Santa last year, filled with candy. The Peace sign comes from World Market as well.

Out on the porch, Santa left us his sack one year. We also added a glittery white reindeer that lights up at night.

And finally (for today, forgive the picture-heavy posts!) are our Christmas lights attached to the railing.

Although you can't see them, there are jingle bells attached to the ribbons that make a lovely sound whenever the wind blows.

We are excitedly awaiting Santa's (and Nana's!) arrival. Off to cook and clean some more in preparation... 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Pinteresting Christmas

Like I've said many, many times, I love Christmas and in particular, decorating for Christmas. Another love of mine is Pinterest, which I need to join a support group for because it. is. addicting.

As I thought about posting my holiday decorations, I wondered about the best way to organize them. I looked around and realized many of my decorations were Pinterest-idea-inspired and decided to do a post specifically dedicated to the 'pins' that I re-created and "nailed it."

First off is my pride and joy, the Santa sleigh and reindeer garland. The idea is from The Proper Pinwheel, where a downloadable template is available.

To make, I simply downloaded the (free!) template and printed onto card stock. I then cut out the template, traced on card stock I already had, cut out, and hot glued twine to the back. I went over the hot glue twice to ensure it stayed. Finally, I hot-glued a red gemstone onto Rudolph's nose.

I'm really excited about how it turned out. In fact I keep staring at it and my family is starting to think there's something wrong with me.

Ahem. Moving on. The "Baby It's Cold Outside" print is ANOTHER Pinterest-creation, from Over the Big Moon. I prefer to print these types of things on photo paper, so I ordered a poster size (11" by 14") from Walgreens and used a 40% off coupon for a grand total of $5.99. I love that I can keep it up past the holiday since it is more wintry than Christmasy.

Although not a Pinterest-related item, I just wanted to point out the beautiful Cardinal print I purchased on Etsy from greenpix. It is very wintry (again something I can leave up past the holiday) and the red ties in with the Santa and other decorations in the room. Cardinals are my favorite bird and have a special meaning to me, which if I explained you would think I am crazy, so I'll skip that. The photos here do not do this photograph justice, please check out greenpix's shop to see its beauty.

Also on the mantel/shelf are a stamped-clay Santa sleigh that Dylan made, a mini-Nutcracker that is actually a place card-holder from CVS ($2, score!) and another of Dylan's awesome creations: a Clothespin reindeer.

The print that will stay up all-year-long and is also awesome (Be The Good) is from the Sprinkled Joy Etsy shop. Other addictions I may have: Etsy, Ikea.

Moving on next to the couch is another Pinterest free download/print-out, a chalk drawing by Nest of Posies. I love the look of this, and purchased the gold frame from Target just for this print.

Finally, I am always looking for a way to display cards. I loved the idea pinned from Greener Grass, which is to attach ribbon to the cabinet fronts and use clothespins to attach the cards as they come in.

I attached the ribbon with 3M removeable sticky strips, and covered the clothespins in festive Washi tape from Oh, and the Santa and Snowman jars hold festive cookie cutters, hot cocoa mix, and holiday teas.

Those are all of my Pinterest-inspired holiday decorations, for now. If you're interested, my Christmas Pinterest board is here.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012


My heart is heavy for those in the community surrounding Sandy Hook Elementary, and especially for the families of the victims. When Dylan got off of the bus yesterday, safely, I have never felt so fortunate in my life.

Please hug your kids extra tight, and teach them the difference between being angry and acting upon it, and how to express that anger in a healthy way. It is okay to be angry, it is not okay to hurt someone. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Christmastime... in the city

We went to see the National Tree this past weekend. Here are a few photos from that romp around DC that help get me in the spirit...

My neighbor Obama.

This last image is of Dylan peeking into Santa's workshop. I can't tell you how excited he is over Santa's upcoming visit. I love the joyful chatter about the logistics of making a trip around the world, the qualifications for being on the 'nice list,' and so on. I wish this stage lasted forever. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum

Like I've mentioned before, I do love me some Christmastime. Instead of sharing all my decorations together in one post like I did at Halloween, I'll break it up a little to show more detail, and also since my Christmas decorations are more, ahem, elaborate. Something about home decorating and me, that I've noticed, is I'm getting somewhat better at it over the years (and I guess having an actual income helps too. Hurray for incomes!). So, on this trajectory, I should be an HGTV featured designer by 3011!! SCORE.

I do a 'theme' of reds, ivories, and golds on the tree (and in most of my decor) for the holiday, mixing in more sentimental and meaningful ornaments, which are my fave. I would love (LOVE) to do a matchy-matchy themed tree, and a separate 'sentimental' tree, but alas, there is limited room at Casa del Claire. That being said, I do love my tree.

Side story (AS ALWAYS): My neighbor came over to drop off some extra cake the other day (YES I LOVE MY NEIGHBOR OMG) and wanted a holiday tour of my decorations (more like, I twisted her arm into coming to see my holiday decorations) and was all, "Did you study design?" "I should have brought my camera!" etc. etc. She is such a sweetheart! If you knew her, you'd know it was her personality to be so complimentary (AND BRING YOU CAKE OMG) but still, warms the heart (tear).

Here are a few of my favorite ornaments...

At first, you may think this is an ordinary family of snowmen...

BUT THINK AGAIN. It is not. It is a handprint!

Dylan made this in 1st grade and I love. love. LOVE it. So sweet, and such a nice commemoration of his childhood hand print!

Next on the list is one my mother-in-law gifted us back in '08.

"Bears?" you may be asking yourself. "Is this some type of representation of your love of bear-hunting, or bear-wrestling?" My response is: No. Bear-wrestler, I am not. However, we  do refer to each other as [insert name]-bear in our family, so this is a nod to just that. And perhaps the one time I wrestled a bear to the ground AND WON. Anyways it's a cute family ornament, and the first one commemorating our family together. So, it is on my list of favorites.

Moving along and far past the bear-wrestling thing... if you know me, you know I love the ocean. This deep-rooted appreciation for all things nautical is certainly represented in my holiday tree, as in here and here:

Side story #232904: The Sea Turtle Hospital of Topsail Beach, NC is awesome, both to visit and for the work they do. Once you learn of the kajillion predators that sea turtles have, the arduous journey they have to sea once born, on top of the fact that their moms just, like, leave them there to hatch on their own and all, it's amazing these poor things survive. AND THEN THE HUMANS COME ALONG AND TURN LIGHTS ON TO LEAD THEM AWAY FROM THE OCEAN AND POLLUTE AND RUN MOTOR BOATS AND HARM THEM. Geeze. 

Back to my point: so I love nautical ornaments but this is my favorite:

This is my favorite, because, like the bear ornament, it represents one of my favorite hobbies. 

So on that note, happy holidays. I hope your preparations and festivities are enjoyable, and also stress- and crazy-Republican-uncle-free. And filled with cake-bringing neighbors. 

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Enjoying the warm glow of a Christmas tree...

I love the feel of Christmastime. The melancholy coldness and darkness as we approach winter solstice, juxtaposed with the merriment of celebration. Here's looking forward to a season of sadness and love, family time and excitement, all wrapped together. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Things that make me happy..

These are just a few of the things bringing a smile to my face right now:

1) Organization. I present, a little before-and-after that makes my heart sing (GAH cannot. stand. clutter):

Before: a messy slew of shoes every time I walk in the door, to trip over!
After: Ahhh so much better. 
2) Living near the Smithsonian Museums:

3) My aunt and uncle joining us for Thanksgiving, then taking us to the Building Museum:

Photo credit: My uncle

4) Creative holiday wrapping ideas, from Pinterest:

I'm the next Martha Stewart! Not really..
Yes, I'm that annoying neighbor who has all their Christmas decorations up this early, so I'll be sharing soon. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Simple Sun Candles: Black Friday through Cyber Monday SALE!

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving, with good food and great company!

Candy Cane 8 oz. Tumbler Candle

Just a quick post to announce my Simple Sun Candles shop Black Friday through Cyber Monday SALE! Take 15% off your entire order, all weekend long, with coupon code: HAPPYHOLIDAYS12
Coupon code is valid Friday 11/23 through Monday 11/26.

Christmas Cabin 24 oz. Jar Candle

I have added several festive holiday fragrances, so be sure to check out the new listings! If you don't see something specific you are looking for, there's always the You Choose the Scent  candles! 
Christmas Memories 8 oz. Mason Jar Candle

Wishing everybody some great deals during your Black Friday shopping!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A few of my favorite things, November 2012

Celebrating the season of giving thanks, here are a few of my favorite things for November 2012.

Favorite things Nov 2012
Image sources: 123,  45#s

1) Why yes, I am a 27-year-old adult individual who plays laser tag on a somewhat-regular basis. However, laser tag presents a wonderful opportunity to take out all of your frustrations and aggressions on unsuspecting children that you don't know, which is perfectly healthy, no? As I get older, this game just gets more and more fun. As a family, we all enjoy it and thus it presents the perfect bonding opportunity. Or shoot-to-the-death competition between family members, whatever. ADDED BONUS: It's AWESOME cardio. You will leave the arena covered in sweat, if you are as competitive and serious about it as I am. Which everyone is, right?

2) So, I have talked before about how I find it peaceful and calming to maintain a clean home. Now that I have a job (current status: employed... woo-hoo!) I wanted to still clean but in much less time. This Eureka Enviro Hard-Surface Floor Steamer,313A is AWESOME in that rather than pull out the bucket and (dirty gross) mop, add cleaner, fill said bucket with hot water, sweep floors, mop, and then empty dirty water, you can simply fill up the steamer with water and it sanitizes your floor with steaming hot water! I LOVE that it uses no chemicals and therefore is eco-friendly, and is so easy to use. Just plug in, fill with water, let it heat up and mop. Again, I'm gushing over a mop (akin to gushing over a pair of stretchy skinny jeans) but here we are. Ahem.

3) My lips have been peeling away and in such a sad state since the weather turned cold. Despite using EVERY chapstick-type deal on the face of the planet, every five minutes throughout the day (okay, maybe I'm exaggerating), nothing alleviated my situation. Enter: Burt's Bees Ultra Moisturizing Lip Treatment with Kokum Butter, .25 oz. I use this once in the AM and once in the PM, and my lips are GOLDEN I tell you. Not literally golden golden. But they're good. I'm happy. And my lips no longer hurt and/or peel off at inopportune times throughout the day. AND they add a nice subtle glossy finish. Hurrah!

4) ZOMG. So, as a long-time Tiramisu lover, I introduced Dylan to this fantasmagoric dessert while summering in Saudia Arabia last year, at a Macaroni Grill (go figure, they have those there). He instantly fell in love, so when it was time to select his birthday dessert, he chose the Tiramisu Torte in the frozen foods section at Trader Joe's. We celebrated his birthday with this and all loved it. Simply remove from freezer and thaw for a few hours, and then die of happiness and Tiramisu overload. Repeat as needed.

5) We love all the Charlie Brown seasonal specials, and this one continues the tradition of teaching a meaningful lesson and being charmingly hilarious. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Remastered Deluxe Edition) features not only the 25-minute special where Charlie Brown is inundated by guests inviting themselves to his feast (BEEN THERE, DONE THAT CHUCK), but also a fantastically-done special on the pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, the hardships they experienced traveling to America, the illness and difficulty they had finding land and settling once there, and why they continued to show faith and thanks and the wonderful teachings of Native Americans that helped them (okay, so not the whole story...). It's very touching, and according to my sources, historically accurate. Note: My sources are me assuming it is historically accurate.

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