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No Ugly Ornament 2014 Wrap-Up

No, I’m not on holiday yet! Like many of you, in the minutes I’m not rushing around, finishing DIY gifts, school work, recitals, scouting parties, baking, and roller derby (What, am I the only one with scrimmages on their calendar?), I’m attempting to keep all the mundane day to day things going. Thankfully I have finished the majority of my shopping but I still need to wrap up that closet worth of gifts.

When it comes time for the gift wrapping my crunchy side comes out, if I can’t wrap it up in cloth I reach for the packing paper I’ve saved up over the year. The only problem is that while plain craft paper has a simple chic-ness about it, it still needs a little pick-me-up! Ornaments are great at doing double duty in this department; they dress up your presents and make great keepsakes for those you are gifting.

Below are ornaments from this year’s NOU Challenge, all of which will look just as lovely under the tree as they do on it!

  1. Wire Ribbon Ornaments
  2. 3D Paper Ornaments
  3. Christmas Vacation Ornament
  4. CRAFT FAIL: Ballerina Silhouette Pick
  5. Ballerina Slipper Ornament
  6. Clothespin Ballerina Ornament
  7. Wood Bead Ornaments
  8. Rolled Magazine Ornaments
  9. Painted Feather Ornaments
  10. Glittered Leaf Ornaments
  11. Pipe Cleaner Elves

Erin Sipes
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Craftastic TV: Felt, Ribbon, Button Toy

Fine motor skills, shapes, colors, patterns, this simple DIY toy is an awesome learning tool and better yet it’s an gift idea easy enough for the kids to put together! Head on over to Craftastic TV and see how I put it together or go straight to the YouTube video!

I mention it in the video and in the description but I really can’t say it enough. Unlike the ribbon snake projects you see on other blogs I’m recommending that you weave the ribbon through the buttons rather than sewing the buttons to the ribbon. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a couple kids who never outgrew putting things like buttons in their mouths, but I try to avoid potential choking hazards whenever and wherever I can. If you’re worried that little hands might get tangled up in the doubled ribbon just tie knots along it. The felt should be able to get over the knots and little fingers won’t get hurt.

Erin Sipes
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Want–Need–Wear–Read Printable Gift Tags

Every holiday season we’re reminded of our gross consumerism and while I’m not the kind of parent to ban Christmas gifts (don’t get me started on those types) I do think it’s important to put limits on the number of presents my kids receive. I’d rather give them gifts such as dance lessons throughout the year. I want my kids to enjoy visiting family for the sake of keeping in touch NOT for the gifts they will be given. Plus, I don’t like the mess. The packaging alone makes me have an anxiety attack, so much trash!

For a few years now we’ve been focusing on ONE bigger gift, not from Santa by the way-I never understood why he gets all the glory, let your kids know that YOU worked to be able to afford what gets put under the tree-he just stuffs the stockings in our house. Anyway, I should say we try to focus on one gift but as the day grows closer I’d end up picking up more and more so this year we’re giving the Want – Need – Wear – Read concept a try.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, gifts are limited to something you want, something you need, something to wear, and finally, something to read. I have to say, I wish we’d started this sooner. Christmas lists this year were much more thoughtful, it wasn’t a bunch of toys that would find their way to Goodwill within a couple months. Thinking about the things they needed spilled over into the way they thought about everything.

Science kits that would normally be a homeschooling expense were listed as wants, electric toothbrushes (don’t ask) were listed as needs, and for the wear category, they included new bags for sparring gear and dance shoes, again things that would be normal expenses associated with their extracurricular activities. This has made it much more friendly on our pocketbook and easier for me NOT to overspend!

Below is a free printable of want, need, wear, and read tags you can print or download for yourself. 

I’ll be sharing gift wrapping ideas, including how to use these tags, next week! 



Erin Sipes
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31 Breakfast Meals

Recipe Round-ups are becoming the church cookbooks of our generation! It’s a chance for blogging friends to get together and share their favorite recipes with each other and our readers. Hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up!

The holidays are one of the few times of the year when entertaining happens in the morning as much as it does in the evening, whether you’re feeding visiting family and friends, hosting a mid-morning brunch, or simply indulging kids home on winter break. Here are over 30 breakfast meals to give a try!
Erin Sipes
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Over 40 Christmas Cookie Exchange Recipes

When it’s time for dessert we all have our weaknesses, for me it’s cookies! Crunchy or soft, chewy or crumbly, chocolate dipped or fruit filled, I love them all! A great way to sample a variety of recipes and share your favorite is during a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party.
Today I’m so very excited to be taking part in a virtual exchange featuring over 40 cookies recipes from some of my blogging friends. I hope you find a new favorite in the bunch, ahem, I’m partial to the Cranberry Almond Shortbread Bites.
So much yumminess, I can’t wait to give some of these a try!
Be sure to follow along on the Cookie Exchange Pinterest board for year round cookie recipe inspirations!
cookie exchange 4 

cookies 1 Andes Mint Cookies Double Chocolate Mint MnM Cookies Hot Cocoa Cookies

cookies 1

cookies 2

Image Map
Erin Sipes
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Cranberry Almond Shortbread Bites

Shortbread is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated cookies. It really has a lot going for it, rich buttery taste, crumbly sweet texture, and unmatched versatility. You can add nearly anything to the dough to create one of a kind flavors such as this Cranberry Almond recipe.

These bite-size cookies are perfect for wrapping up as a gift, serving at a party, or snacking. Plus the recipe is easy enough for kids to make! Hope you enjoy them! 

  • 1/2 cup of cold butter cut into pieces (I would not recommend making this with margarine.)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 almond flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries-finely chopped


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and cut together with a pastry cutter. Perfect work for little hands!

Cuttingthedough #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
Once the dough passes a pinch test (Grab a pinch-if it sticks together it’s ready.) knead until all the crumbs are combined.

Pinchtest  #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
Form into four four-inch balls, flatten into circles and cut with a dough scraper into wedges. Leave the wedges together!

Scoredandreadytobake  #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
You don’t have to form the dough into four balls you can also make just one, I happen to like lots of crunchy edges and the smaller bites also make it easier to pack if you’re going to be giving them as a gift!

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 325-degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden. Once removed from the oven re-cut the wedges and let it all cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

This recipe is part of the Christmas Cookie Exchange Party, be sure to check it out for over 40 treats for you to try!

Erin Sipes
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