Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Elf.

Today we're talking about The Elf, mamas.  

I remember the first time I ever heard about an elf hiding in your house watching your kids and reporting back to Santa.  I was at my next door neighbor's house at Christmas in maybe 2011(??) and she pointed out these three elves that were hiding in random spots throughout her living room.  She explained that they come after Thanksgiving every year and watch her 3 kids so they can report back to Santa each night.  And sometimes they move around at night to find different hiding places.  

 I decided to start it that next year and coincidentally, it's also the same time the actual Elf on the Shelf started to get really popular.  I don't even think my neighbor knew it was a "thing" when she started their tradition. (Her elves looked like cute little gnomes.)  But I jumped on the bandwagon and bought our elf.  We read the book with Matthew and Mason almost every night and thank goodness that book is so cute.  I think I could recite it in my sleep by now.  

When our elf arrived for the first time, we knew it needed a name.  Somehow, the name Dude was mentioned.  But when Mason went to say it (he was around 2 at the time) it came out more like "Doo-dah!".  And so it stuck.  Doodah the Elf. 

Our little elf visited for two years and then year 3 came around and we could not find that darn elf. Anywhere.  I really really did not want to spend another $30 on an elf and another book (since they came as a set) so on a whim, I bought a much cuter elf at Kirklands.  The boys were still pretty little so we didn't have much trouble convincing them that Doodah must have grown up a little, got a promotion and some new clothes.  And yes, the next year we found the original Doodah while digging out Christmas decorations from the attic.  We kept our new one though.  

For the first few years, it was just us trying to remember to move the thing from one spot to another every night.  That was hard enough.  Then Pinterest took over and all of a sudden our elf was competing with neighbor elves to see who could have the wackiest, craziest, funniest elf.  (Spoiler alert:  It was not us.)

I want my kids to have those awesome memories so we stepped it up from time to time.  But for the most part, he just moved from the mantle to the TV cabinet and then maybe over to a light fixture if he was feeling crazy.  ;)

I feel like every year it gets harder.  I always feel the pressure to make our elf do something funny and cute every night.

But seriously.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  At least I don't.

I have pinned all the elf idea pins.  I have saved and screenshotted cute ideas from Facebook and Instagram.  But by the time my kids are in bed and I've given them enough time to really fall asleep, I've gotten cozy myself and the thought of coming up with some staged elf shenanigan is the last thing I want to do.  So we keep it simple 9 times out of 10 and just move Doodah from one place in the room to another.

This year though, my friend, Dani, decided to host an Elf Survival Prep party at her house.  She sent out an invitation on Facebook and said we should all come up with one idea for our elf and bring the supplies needed to do it to share with everyone.  Then we'd all leave the night with a ton of ideas AND supplies needed to pull off each cute idea.

I love these two ladies.

Dani got us started by going over a few of her ideas.

And then everyone took turns explaining their idea and showing how their supplies would work.

And then we all collected the goodies.

This was such a great idea and it was also fun to kick the holiday party season into gear!  We all left with a big bag full of ideas for those wacky elves of ours.  ;)

Here are some of the ideas...

I used this idea of roasting marshmallows for Doodah's first appearance this season.  The person who brought this had baggies filled with a few marshmallows, the wooden sticks and one battery-operated tea light candle.  Craig roasted the marshmallows to give them a more realistic look.  The boys LOVED this.  They even brought Doodah some Apple Jacks and popcorn in case he needed some more food.

And this next one was easy with these little red noses.  She also brought those stick-on mustaches to put on our pictures too.

And the snow angel is fairly simple although it can be messy.  You can do it with fake snow or sprinkles.

Make cookies for the neighbors...  
(My kids love nothing more than to drown a sugar cookie in sprinkles.)

And you can make cute Christmas cards for friends, family and neighbors as well!

One girl brought little flannel squares to use as blankets when hiding your elf in the fridge. (A washcloth would work too.)
And someone brought a genius doctor's note that said their elf couldn't move for 3 days.  #canwemakeitaweek

This little treasure hunt is so fun but be sure to leave room in your morning schedule for a candy cane hunt or plan it for a weekend morning!

And once again, marshmallows for the win.  So cute.  And easy!

And I think I found my soulmate with this elf... #canteatjustone 

And then this cute kissing booth idea is awesome and really easy.

Find the printable for the kissing booth here.

For more adorable ideas, you've got to head on over to Living Locurto and check out all of her posts and pictures.  It's like a one-stop shop for your elf.  So cute!

So now ask me how many of these cute ideas I've done so far.


That is all.

Doodah had an amazing arrival with the roasting marshmallows bit.  But then he moved to the mantle.  Then he hung upside down from the light fixture in the kitchen.  And then moved to our Christmas tree.  And we forgot to move him at least once so far.  When we forget to move him at night, we always make sure to move him when the kids are at school.

Excuses for why he didn't move?  Snowstorm/bad weather.  Sick.  Slept through his alarm.  Just plain comfy.  ;)

One of my favorite things to do though is to decorate the tree with and/or replace the stockings with the boys' underwear and leave your elf hiding nearby.  They think this is HYSTERICAL.  #boys

So there are some ideas for you if you need some relatively simple ones!  And the Elf Survival Prep party was genius.  

If you missed my Boy(ish) Gift Guide, from Tuesday you can check that out here and there are TONS more deals and gift ideas over in my FB group (here).

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Gift Guide: Boy(ish) Edition

Ok, y'all.  As I type this I am sitting in the waiting room while Craig has a dental procedure done (under anesthesia) and this is the most "down time" I've had before 9pm in a really long time.  Isn't that sad?  I'm enjoying sitting here and doing some online shopping!!  It's Cyber Monday (although when this posts, it will be Tuesday) and there are so many fun toys out there that I thought I'd put together a little informal gift guide.  

My boys are 9 and 7 now.  All they do is play outside with their friends, play sports and play Minecraft.  (Or watch Dude Perfect or Kid Fails on You Tube Kids).  They don't play with toys like they used to but I know what they used to go nuts over!  (Hint:  anything with wheels)

Here are some of my favorite picks.  Most of these were on sale at the time this was written so hopefully they still are! And these are not just for boys.  I know there are girls who love playing with race tracks and cars just as much as boys do. But I don't have girls so I'm not really sure what the hot toys are for them.  So that's why this is my "boyish" guide.  ;)  And for the record, I still think playing with cars and race tracks are fun.

Race Tracks

First up is this race track because my boys were allll about cars and race tracks.  Especially when asking for Christmas gifts.  These things are not cheap either so finding deals on them is key.

This one is on sale right now (I hope it still is) and it looks so awesome!  I'm kind of thinking of getting it for my boys now.  I think they'd love it!

This one (below) is less expensive and smaller but just as cool.  A great option for younger kids.
And this one looks super cool.  LED lights plus a race track?  Great combo!  

It has great reviews too!  (Always read the reviews!!)  I kind of want to play with this light up track.

I really miss the days when I knew anything with wheels would be a total score with my kids!!

Matthew used to carry around a Halloween bucket filled to the brim with all of his cars.  He would even sleep with it.  Anytime he got new cars he was so excited.  Boy moms:  You'll rarely go wrong with a big case of new cars.

Teddy Ruxpin

And oh my gosh.  Look what is back!!  #80skid

The Teddy Ruxpin!!

You will definitely pay for the nostalgia factor of this guy but he is on sale at the moment.  Did anyone else love Teddy Ruxpin back in the day?!

The New Fidget Spinner

And then there's this new take on the fidget spinner.  It's called the Fidget Cube and basically, it gives you more to fidget with.  This would make a cute stocking stuffer!  I have a feeling all the kids will be coming back to school in the new year with one of these in their backpack.

Board Games

I came across this while I was looking for fun game options and OH MY GOSH I WANT THIS!!

This is the Googly Eyes game and even though it's for kids, I think it would be hilarious for adults too!  Put on the crazy glasses that distort your vision and then try to draw what's on your card.  Kind of like Pictionary plus Beer Goggles?  haha.

We have a New Year's Eve party at our house every year and while the kids go crazy upstairs, the adults usually play some sort of game. I think this would be a totally fun option!!  You can find it here.

And are anyone else's kids obsessed with bottle flipping?  It is a completely normal sound to hear water bottles smacking the hardwood all.the.time. at my house.  Mason is the main noisemaker.  If there is a bottle within 10 feet, he will find it and flip it until someone (me) tells him to STOP IT!!!  The constant "boom boom boom" of a bottle being flipped over and over drives me up the wall.

But I just ran across THIS GAME.  An actual bottle flipping board game.  This has Mason's name written all over it.  This WILL be under our tree this year.  Mason will flip!  ;) #seewhatIdidthere

Find it here.  (Nana?  You seeing this???  You said you needed ideas!)

But my boys' absolute favorite toy they've ever received has to be this truck.  They each had one. And they would push them around the culdesac so fast every single day.  They would also sit in them and roll down the driveway.

These will be the things that remind them of their childhood someday.  So many memories with their big yellow trucks.

They aren't super cheap but they are on sale (as of now) so if you think you're cutie pie would like this, get it now!  But even if they aren't on sale, they are so worth it!  We've gone through 4!  One was stolen from our front yard and one we ran over.  Oops.  And we had no other option than to replace them.  They were obsessed. 

Even now, they still play with them.  Find them here.

So those are just some of my top picks this year.  The more I browse, the more I find.  So if you're like me, and you like it when moms like you tell you about their favorite finds, join my group here because that's what I've been doing lately!  I know I can't buy everything I see, so I really like sharing these fun finds with you! (And hearing your feedback on things!)

And before I go, I wanted to let you all know that my Etsy shop is CLOSED.  I just can't keep accepting orders or I will go insane.  I shipped out a bunch today and then gained a bunch today as well.  So I'm now at 144 open orders.  And I just want to enjoy the holidays with my family at some point.  I'm hoping to have all orders shipped out by December 15th at the latest.  (If you have a current order with me, you can find your expected ship date under Purchases in your Etsy account.  Your order will ship by that day if not sooner.)

I will probably reopen again before Christmas but those orders will not ship until after Christmas.  If you have joined my Facebook group, I will be hosting another giveaway and giving out a special Members Only coupon code after Christmas!  Hope to see you there!

Have a great Tuesday, friends!!

Linking up with everyone for Tuesday Talk!


Monday, November 27, 2017

Turkey Time 2017.

Happy Monday, friends!  I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving!  Have you been hitting the Black Friday sales this weekend?  I'm curious if you got out and fought the crowds or if you are strictly an online shopper during Black Friday weekend.  

I've been working pretty much non-stop since Friday morning in order to get Etsy orders out on time but I've been able to multitask enough to catch some great sales!!  I've posted a few finds over in my FB group (here) when I see them.

I'm just about caught up to where I'm back to a normal work schedule but I am quickly burning myself out, y'all.  Right now I have exactly 140 open orders.  For every order I ship out, three more come in!  Most definitely, not a bad thing.  ;)  Just stressful and exhausting.  It's very hard to find balance as an Etsy owner during the Christmas season.  It's the most lucrative time of the year for us maker mamas so being a hot mess mom for several weeks leading up to Christmas, just kind of comes with the territory.  

Could I hire someone to help?  Yes.  Trust me, I've thought about it.  But the time it would take me to find and train someone else right now and then oversee their work to make sure they were doing it to my standards would just make it worse.  I've been putting Craig to work as much as possible, running to Home Depot for wood, cutting boards and sanding them.  I can't imagine how far behind I'd be if he wasn't there to help!

But I was able to have a very happy Thanksgiving day with my family!

Last Wednesday, my in-laws arrived from Louisiana with my niece, Scarlet.  Scarlet is Craig's brother's daughter.  She's been coming with Craig's parents to stay with us for Thanksgiving for several years now and the boys look forward to it all year long!  They LOVE their cousin.  

(By the way, as soon as I jump off the Hot Mess Express, we'll be getting these boys some haircuts...just in case you think I haven't noticed.  #ihave)

On Thanksgiving Day, my parents and grandfather drove in from Texarkana, TX (2.5 hours from Mckinney) to be with us for the day.

Craig was in charge of the turkey (thank goodness) so I handled most of the sides.

Craig's mom always brings the dressing.  (Stuffing?)  

My favorite desserts are Craig's mom's mini pecan pies and my chocolate chip gooey cake.

I grew up on "gooey cake".  I think some people call them Neiman Marcus bars.  But it was always my favorite dessert growing up.  My grandmother used to make it for Christmases and Thanksgivings and then I started begging my mom to make me gooey cake at other random times throughout the year.  I started making it for myself once I got married.

 A few years ago, I saw the same recipe on Pinterest but they threw in chocolate chips.  So I decided to do that too and oh my goodness.  I never make it without them now.

And I may be in the minority here, but I prefer them cold. Straight out of the refrigerator.  ;)

Here's the recipe.  So easy and perfect to bring to holiday parties!


1 box butter cake mix
 (I use Duncan Hines Butter Golden but any of the yellow "butter" cake mixes will work)
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 16oz box of powdered sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup (or more!), chocolate chips
(I eyeball it. Sometimes I use more.  And I prefer the milk chocolate chips but any kind will work!)


Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.  In a bowl, combine cake mix, egg and melted butter and mix well with electric mixer.  Pat into the bottom of the dish.

You can use the same bowl to use the electric mixer to beat your cream cheese until smooth.  Add your eggs and vanilla.  Slowly add in your powdered sugar and beat well.  Carefully add in your melted butter and mix well.  Stir in your chocolate chips.

Pour mixture over the crust and spread evenly.  Bake for 40-50 minutes.  You want the center to still be a little gooey and wiggly.  Let cool completely before cutting. I always sprinkle powdered sugar over the top before I cut them.  Serve right away or store in the fridge and eat them cold.  :)  I love how chewy they get when they are cold.

Anyway, we had a great meal and a great day with our families.  My sweet granddaddy is the best.  I think he had fun playing ping pong with Mason.  

Papa (my dad) is still a big kid at heart so he was fully on board with helping the kids work a puzzle.

Mimi (Craig's mom) got in on the action too!

The grandkids love to play cards with Mimi.  They had a fierce game of Go Fish going on later that night.

And then again the next day.  ;)  (The extra kiddo is our neighbor.)

Let's all pretend we don't see their dirty feet all over the table.  K?  We only use this table once a year so I'm sure by next Thanksgiving, I'll have forgotten about their feet.  Right?

And if you're looking at my living room and dining room and thinking to yourself "Man, she could really use some rugs in there...".  I know.  I think it too.  Unfortunately, my dogs are old and getting senile and rugs and old pups just don't mix, if you know what I mean.  Someday, I will have a cute house with pretty Joanna Gaines rugs, curtains that aren't from Ikea and furniture that isn't covered in dog hair.  Someday.  But not today.  ;) #idreamadream

Saturday night, I finished up working, got the boys in bed and took over the living room.  This is my favorite place to be during the holidays.  Twinkly lights, glitter and a Christmas movie.


Today, you can find me in the waiting room of an oral surgeon's office.  Craig is having a minor procedure done but he has to be put under so I will be there with him.  It shouldn't take too long, we hope.  The last time he went under anesthesia though, he had a little scare coming out of it so we're praying he won't have a bad reaction to it this time.

I'm hoping to use that time to check out all the awesome Cyber Monday deals though while I wait!  And speaking of deals, here are a few of my favorites that I saw over the weekend.

For the kids:

Walkie talkies are so stinkin' fun, no matter how old you are.  I saw these for just $14 through Cyber Monday!

They also had cute pink ones (here) on sale as well. My friends and I would have had the best time with these!

And this Cars train table is on sale for almost 60% off!  If my kids were still little, this would be an immediate purchase!!  (Why do they have to grow up!!!)

And since I'm dreaming of them staying little forever, I'll go ahead and dream that I had a girl and I'd get her a Frozen dollhouse.  ;)  If I saw this under my tree on Christmas morning when I was little, I would have flipped out.

But my kids aren't really into toys much this year.  Mason wants a hoverboard and Matthew wants his fixed.  We found out it will be cheaper to just get Matthew a new one than have it fixed.

I saw these and they are definitely in the running.  On sale for only $150!

And I've been asking on my Facebook page and on the group page about these Fire Kids Editions.  Sounds like the earlier version weren't great with storage but these are 32GB so that shouldn't be a problem.  Matthew uses Craig's iPad for games and stuff and Mason is using an old Samsung (now that he broke my old iPhone...).  I wanted something he could play his games on but didn't necessarily need all the stuff that comes with an iPad.  (Like the cost.  Plus he doesn't need the internet and all that.  He needs games and that's it.)

Amazon also gives you a 2 year warranty!  No matter what your kids do to it, if they break it, Amazon will replace it for free, no questions asked.  Mind. Blown.

We're still feeling out our options but the more research I do, the more I love the idea of the Fire Kids Edition!  (Built-in parental controls too!  Thumbs way up on that.)

And for the ladies in your life (or yourself!), don't forget about these FAVORITES!

(Oh my much THIS!!)


This is still the coolest cosmetic bag ever.  (Read more about my review on this HERE.)

Check out THIS for a 2 for 1 deal on these cosmetic bags!!

And this brush cleaner is the easiest and quickest way to clean your makeup brushes. (I did a little review about this HERE.) 

Both of these things would make awesome gifts for some makeup lovin' ladies!

I'll be posting more fun gift ideas as I stumble upon them this season, so if you'd like to see what I find, join me over there!

Have a great Monday, everyone!