Saturday, December 24, 2011

I will be out of the office for the next week enjoying the holidays with my family. Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Years! I will be back again on Monday, January 2nd.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is Santa Real?

Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

I have a nine year old daughter.  I also have a husband who wants her to be little forever and if he had it his way would never find out the “truth” about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns or even Mickey Mouse.  We have been thinking about how this is all going to play out for us here at our house.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Man Cave: My Top 10 Christmas Traditions

Everyone has their own set of Christmas activities without which it just wouldn't seem like Christmas.

Here are a few of mine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

You Know It's Time To Take The Tree Down When

I am running on fumes this morning, having gotten too few hours of sleep last night. I am feeling more zombie than human and my eyes are stinging just looking at this computer monitor. I do not have the brain power to be serious about anything, and even if I did, serious isn't really in my vocabulary very often. When I am really tired I tend to get really dorky - so I am going to allow my dorkiness to shine through. For your enjoyment on this amazingly dark and cold morning:


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snowman Pencils

I have to admit, I am having a very busy day today, and when I am not running around or working I am vegging in front of this computer. That is what I am currently doing - taking a moment to do nothing, with my feet up, sipping a green tea and just web surfing: ya know, just the brainless activity of a much deserved lunch break. I found these adorable snowman pencils and decided to share them for my post today. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas Lights Walk

Every neighborhood has one: the one house that tries to match Clark Griswald's 25,000 Italian imported twinkle lights. I have never been one to put lights out on my house.... the fear of falling off a high ladder and having no outdoor outlets on my house are kind of deterring to me.... but I love to drive/walk around looking at other peoples outdoor creations. It's one of my favorite evening Christmas activities.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sharing Our Tradition

Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

You all read my entry on traditions, right?  Well then you all know that I think that they are an important part of the holidays and of leaving a family legacy.  If you don’t have any traditions of your own a good way to start  making them is to borrow some from others and try them out and see how they fit your family.  Today I will lend you one of ours, making Christmas Bon Bons.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Man Cave: Letting Go as a Parent

I'm not going to lie: I don't really have a strong topic today. Just some random thoughts and feelings ( feelings belong in the Man Cave?) about when and how to start letting your kids find their own way through life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Contentment

I was sitting here this morning thinking about what I should write about. The house is quiet (Aaron is off to work and the kids are still in bed), I am surrounded by all of my Christmas decorations and I'm listening to Laurence Juber's "Winter Guitar" (ten points to Griffindor if you even know who Laurence Juber is.... Aaron, you don't count ;o) I am feeling very peaceful and content at the moment.
Peace and contentment. I like that. I feel good. That is what I am going to write about - what brings me peace, contentment and the holiday spirit. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sugar Cookies

In my house Christmas just wouldn't be the same without sugar cookies: they are my favorite cookie ever. When I was a little girl I would go to grandmas house for Christmas and we would be in the kitchen with frosting and sprinkles decorating our little hearts out. She would always prepare a coffee can full of our hard work and give it to me to eat on the journey home. Those are very fond memories for me.

I have tried many sugar cookie recipes over the years and always come back to this one. It is the best - and that's saying something coming from a sugar cookie expert ;o)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Show and Tell

I am a fan of The Ellen DeGeneres Show on FB. That woman cracks me up!! She is posting funny Christmas pictures this month, and last week she had a pic of a kid freaking out on Santa's lap. I laughed and then thought.... "Hmm. I have a picture just like that of me!". So, for your enjoyment this holiday season, here it is, me as a shy little two year old totally freakin on Santa's lap.

This also got me thinking, let's all share!! This could be a fun thing to do if everyone want's to participate. Here is what I'm gonna do.

Friday, December 9, 2011

3 FREE Fun Gift Tags

Here are some silly ideas I did a few years ago as part of my "12 Days of Christmas" for my kids. They loved them, and it's so simple and inexpensive you can give them to all of your impish friends. I am providing the idea, along with free gift tags to put along with them.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Man Cave: My Most Memorable Christmas

It is ironic that the calm, settled phases of life are the ones that we enjoy the most, but the difficult times are the most memorable. I had many childhood Christmases filled with fun presents and happy times, but the one that remains most vivid in my memory was turbulent and meager. My kids are tired of hearing the story, so now I'm going to tell it to you.

Have a seat.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Nothing puts me in the mood for Christmas faster than listening to Christmas music and watching my favorite Christmas movies. I have a small collection of my favorite movies that I watch every year - without fail. I've already started to watch my stack, but am waiting for Jess to get home to watch most of them..... yea, she comes home today!!

Here are my favorite Christmas movies: it wouldn't really be Christmas for me without them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sock Snowman

Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

Finding gifts to give everyone in the family can sometimes be quite the chore.  You want the gifts to be nice and thoughtful but you don’t want to spend a zillion dollars on them.  Having little kids is a great excuse to make a cheap homemade gift.  People love it and think it is so cute even though it is made out of your husbands old socks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Bizarres!

My mom and I have a Christmas tradition at the beginning of every December to go to "The Victorian Christmas", which a large local Christmas Bizarre. This is one of the things on my list of festivities that really puts me in the Christmas mood. Surrounding myself with Christmas music, decorations and activities fits the bill perfectly.

Friday, December 2, 2011

December Holidays

As we are full swing into the holidays, here are a few more to keep you busy and having fun all month long.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Man Cave: The Best Man I Ever Knew

Every young man needs a role model...a person they can emulate as they find their way to manhood. I was lucky enough to have been blessed with a role model who was perfect example to me of every manly virtue.

I miss him.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

We love this time of year!  Family time for us is the best thing ever and this time of year is just jam packed with family time.  It has been fun for us over the last 12 Christmas’ to find our own traditions or take from our different family traditions and blend them into one.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

12 Days of Christmas

Many years - not all years - I do the Twelve days of Christmas for my family. Sometimes I have a theme, sometimes it's completely random. Last year I actually took the song and rewrote it to suite my needs and it turned out awesome. It of course is personal to my family and our circumstances, but you can use it as a guideline for writing your own 12 Days of Christmas poem.

Just have fun with it. I start 13 days before Christmas so that the last gift received is on Christmas Eve. I think I have as much fun leaving the gifts as everyone does getting them.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pictures With Santa

As you know from my post "10 Tips For Surviving Black Friday" Jess and I are Black Friday Shoppers. We started the tradition about 6 years ago, and both of us are very protective of our day: it's always just the two of us and we like it that way. We have certain places, and certain things we do every year, and one of them is to get our picture taken with Santa!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Man Cave: Why You Might Be the Turkey on Thanksgiving

I know that insulting Family Strong readers is not the best way to build loyalty. For some reason I don't care today. I'm going to exorcise my Thanksgiving demons. I'm going to pull no punches and say the things that are really on my mind; tell it like I see it.

And if you don't like can get stuffed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pilgrim Hats

Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

We do not find as many easy to do projects for Thanksgiving as we find for both Halloween and Christmas but there are a few.  Finding them or thinking them up is the hard part.  I never hesitate to improvise on someone elses idea.  When I can use what I have and get pretty much the same result I think it is a project well done.

Monday, November 21, 2011

10 Tips For Surviving Black Friday

Jess and I are Black Friday Shoppers, and have had this tradition together for about 6 years now. It's really quite amazing how similar my rules for Black Friday parallel those for "Rules of Zombieland". If you have never seen this movie, it's a must in your preparation for Black Friday. Look at it as a training video.... It's quite uncanny how the shoppers you will run into on this morning mirror zombies: you have sleep deprived, caffeine pumped maniacs that will do anything to get what's on their list.

So, here we go - 10 Tips to survive the Black Friday Apocalypse.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins

I love pumpkin! Pumpkin bread, muffins, pie, cake, smoothies - you name it, I love it. This time of year is always a special treat because I really break out the pumpkin and go to town.

This muffin recipe is pretty much a staple right now. I think I have made it three times so far, so I thought I would share.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Man Cave: Ten Tips to a Manlier Thanksgiving

For many Thanksgiving is the forgotten holiday...the middle child in the Holiday family. Not for me. I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. You get all the perks of Christmas and none of the hassle or pressure. There is very little home decorating, and maximum opportunity for manly pursuits.

Here is how you do it:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake

 Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

This is one of my family’s very favorite desserts!!  Whenever we are asked to bring a dessert to any function, this is what we bring.  It is easy, it isn’t to bad for you but most importantly it tastes fantastic!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey sandwiches... and I meant that quite literally. Another amazing idea floating around out there! People's creativity never cease to amaze me. What a simple way to make lunch fun while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I LOVED this idea..... I wonder if I could get Jess to eat her veggies if I made her this when she comes  home for the holidays?....... Better not get my hopes up.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Andy Rooney on Women Over Forty

This is slightly uncharacteristic of me on Family Strong, but a friend of mine posted this on Facebook last night and it made me chuckle and feel good about myself. So, for all of you over forty women out there - this one's for you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Oreo Turkeys

I was talking with my girlfriend the other day and she mentioned a care package that she is sending her son. One of the things she was putting in there were the supplies to make Oreo turkeys..... Oreo turkeys? Never heard of them, but it sounds amazing! After our conversation I immediately got online to look these little gems up. I found a few sites that had them, but these were my favorite - SO CUTE!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Man Cave: His and Hers Diary Entries

It's no and women see things differently. I ran across a perfect example this week that I thought I would share. I have no idea where it comes from or who to credit. I only know it's funny.

I showed it to Kathy, and we both agree: it's funny because it's true.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

7-Up Cake

Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

It is the time of year when we are all looking for good deserts to go with those special holiday dinners.  We cook huge turkeys or hams, mix up bowls full of mashed potatoes and green bean casseroles, spend hours baking delicious rolls but when it all comes down to it we are all most excited for that yummy dessert.  Okay, maybe not everyone but I am at least.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parenting Is A Serious Commitment

My mind has been on little Sky Metalwala the last couple of days. This adorable little two year old went missing a couple of days ago when is mother... get this... left him in the car for an hour while she took her four year old daughter to "get gas"!! There are so many things wrong with this scenario I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Paper Bag Turkey

I was jumping around some of my favorite sites this weekend and found this little craft on I thought it was so cute that I would share it. Sometimes I really wish I had the little ones still to do fun crafts with...... I guess I should just hang in there. In a handful of years I can start doing them again when I have some grandkids to do them with ;o) Make one of these for me!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Man Cave: Fun Fridays

Now that my kids are grown and out doing their own things most of the time, I miss the days when we used to hang out. So many fun little moments happen when you spend unstructured play time with people. Since that time doesn't happen so much with them any more I've taken to sending out "Fun Friday" emails to everyone in my family.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You Guys Are Really In Love, Aren't You?

I love my husband fiercely. We just love being together, and when we are we are usually absorbed in each other completely: even after almost 23 years of marriage. Apparently we love each other so much that perfect strangers can tell. 

I have been dying to share this experience since it happened, but was so focused on Halloween it didn't seem to fit. However, now that Halloween is over and it is that time of year we contemplate all we are thankful for, now is the perfect time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Start A Thankful Banner

We have so much to be thankful for in our lives that most of the time we take it all for granted. It really is an eye opener to be able to visualize all of the things you have around you that make your life so great. We did this one year as a family and it was an amazing experience to see all the blessing we have: we started a "Thankful Banner" and it was crazy how quickly it filled up.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Holidays

One of the reasons I love Halloween so much is it is the marker for the official start of the holidays. We are in full swing now, and I just love this time of year. Thanksgiving is so great: a day dedicated to food and family and a whole month to remind us of all we have to be thankful for. Here are some fun holidays to keep you busy between now and then.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mini Jacks

I am not a huge pumpkin carving fan. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE jack-o-lanterns and have a great respect for "jack art", I just don't have a love for doing it myself. It's messy, my ideas always look better in my head than on the pumpkin and someone always seems to get hurt in some fashion in the process. A couple of years ago my "mini Jacks" idea came into fruition, and I have been doing it this way ever since!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Patch and Corn Mazes!

You don't have to have kiddos around yet/any more to enjoy all that a pumpkin patch has to offer. Sunshine, a holiday atmosphere and thousands of pumpkins to pick from was all I needed to head out. Why would you go to the boring ol' grocery store to dig through a box when you can have the entire field to pick from?!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Man Cave: Han Solo Costume

Last week I talked about making a laser gun for less than $10, while Kathy created the rest of the Han Solo costume. I finished my part, and now Kathy has finished hers. That can only mean one thing.

That's's time for the big reveal.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Book Mini-Marathon

 Guest Writer Amy Hamblin

Here is how we made reading fun at our house last night using our little Halloween library and completing homework at the same time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Care Package

Jess has been feeling a little homesick as of late. It's been 6 weeks since she started school, so it's definitely been the longest she has been away from home. We decided to all climb into the car on Saturday to pay her a visit (the advantages of only going to school two hours away). I couldn't go without taking her a little something, and one thing she said she was missing was all of my holiday festivities, so I made her a Halloween care package.

It was perfect and she loved it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spider Pizza

We are pizza fanatics in our house. Ever since the kids were small we have had pizza night on Fridays and it is almost always homemade pizza. This has slowed down in it's regularity since the kids aren't really here any more, but Aaron and I still will make a pizza now and again. We decided to have pizza this last weekend and I thought: "Why not make up some extra dough and  make a spider web?" Why didn't I think of this idea like 15 years ago?! It turned out awesome!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

FREE Halloween Bottle Labels!

Creating a fun mood is as simple as a glass jar and the right label to stick onto it. I made a few labels last year and served our drinks in them. This year our jars are sporting candy and I like that better because it's prettier to look at and I can have them on display all season instead of just at the Halloween party (if we could just keep our hands out of the candy jar....I'm gonna gain 5 pounds!).

My gift to you this year is access to my wonderful labels - yes, I am quite proud of them! Print and enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Man Cave: Halloween Weaponry

This year I've decided to be Han Solo for Halloween. While Kathy has been wasting time with the vest, the pants, the shirt, the boots, and the belt, I've been busy creating the most important (and manliest) part of the costume:

the GUN.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Ghost of Halloween

Guest Writer: Amy Hamblin

I found a great idea for a Halloween project that will be fun to have for years to come.  The kids thought that it was great too and that, to me, is the most important thing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pepper Pumpkins

Not crafty enough to fill your house with amazingly handmade Halloween atmosphere? Don't have a lot of time to mold gory masterpieces out of your food? No big deal and not a problem. Creating a fun mood is as easy as a pepper and cookie cutter. Next time you are making a casserole, nachos or other such dish, just cut out some pepper pumpkins to arrange on top. Insta fun!

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Costume Contest Winners!

The entrances have been tallied and weighed and we have our winners for the 2011 Halloween Costume Contest.

First Place is Scott and Tyler of Logan, Utah. Little and big Mario - how cool is that. These costumes were hand made as well, which in my book deserves a huge applaud! I am making Aaron's costume this year, and that's a lot of work!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Visit A Pioneer Cemetery

We have this little pioneer cemetery down the road from us that I have been wanting to visit for some time now. What better time than Halloween to pack up the troupes and visit an old time cemetery. Not only is is a cool place to be during the holiday season, it is also a great learning tool for the history of your area. And, you'll never guess what we found...... a baby monster!