I’ve moved!

Happy Thursday everyone. It may seem like I haven’t written in a while but the truth is I’ve moved my writing to a new blog. You can find me at laughingabi.com (this blog was laughingabi.wordpress.com) and catch up with all the things I’ve been doing in the new year. I hope you will check it out. I’ve missed you.

My Christmas porch and entry decorations

Confession: I don’t love to decorate for Christmas. I get super excited and go crazy for Halloween. Thanksgiving is easy because I only need to switch a few things out. By the time Christmas gets here I’m tired and busy. I do what I can but it always seems kinda lame. With that  in mind I thought I’d share a few of my holiday decorations. This isn’t everything – I’m not that lame – just my front porch and entry. Enjoy.

laughing abi Christmas entry

Santa stands just inside the front door on my little entry table.

laughing abi Christmas entry

Next to Santa is the last letter my daughter wrote to Santa before she learned “the truth”.

laughing abi Christmas entry

Of course, I had to include some pics of my girls with the big man himself. Seems so long ago.

Christmas entry table

Here it is all together. (Apologies for the bad flash photography.)

laughing abi Christmas entry

Hanging on the wall above the Santa table is this chalkboard.

laughing abi Christmas entry

My front porch.

laughing abi Christmas entry

laughing abi Christmas entry

laughing abi Christmas entry

This is a bench that sits in my front yard. See the front porch in the background? If you look closely you can even see my little chalkboard and Santa just inside the front door.

The truth about my Christmas guilty pleasures.

This isn’t an ooey-gooey- sweet post describing how the spirit of the season moves me. This is about the truth. This is about some of the things I honestly love at Christmastime. You can judge me, or you can just fess-up and admit you love them too.

1. Starbuck’s gingerbread lattes.
If loving a $5 cup of coffee is wrong, I don’t want to be right. You can only get this liquid gold in December and I lap up every drop I can. Ain’t no shame in it.

2. Watching my teenage daughter try to be nice to me.
It’s obviously painful for her but she does it anyway because she wants the goods on Christmas morning. I realize her affection is shallow and self-serving but, like my beloved gingerbread latte, I’ll take it while I can get it.

Christmas guilty pleasures

3. Black Friday.
Yep, I’m one of those sickos who like to shop on Black Friday. I don’t camp out in front of Wal-Mart or anything but I do love the hustle and bustle of the crowds. And nothing makes me more tingly than a good deal. I also think it’s the best day ever to people watch – there are some real doozies out there. One caveat: under no circumstances do I enjoy Black Friday shopping with my children. That should be against the law.

4. Justifiable shopping.
Shopping makes me feel happy. Really, really happy. Most of the year I have to restrain myself  like an AA member at a tequila factory. But in December I can go to Target three times a day, every day, and nobody says boo.

Target store

5. Buying presents for myself.
I won’t even bother explaining this one. I know I do it and you know you do it. Enough said.

6. Out-decorating my neighbors.
I could tell you I put out a dazzling display of lights and scenery for Christmas that puts all others to shame, but I promised to be honest so here’s the truth. Of the four houses surrounding mine one is abandoned, two don’t decorate at all, and one hangs up three strands of lights. My holiday decorations may be small and simple but I can still say they’re the best on the block. It’s all about perspective people.

Christmas guilty pleasures

7. The “threat” of Santa.
Right or wrong, we’ve all played the Santa card before. Melt-down at the mall? Santa’s watching! Won’t go to bed when they’re supposed to? Santa’s watching! Didn’t mix mommy’s vodka-tonic properly? Santa’s watching!

8. Eating, drinking, and eating and drinking some more.
You know those holiday tips for not overindulging during the holiday season? BAH! If I’m at a party and something looks yummy, I’m eating it. If someone wants me to toast the season, I’m drinking it – twice. I’ll worry about calories in January when I’m reorganizing my closet and donating all the pants that don’t fit anymore.

9. Watching cheesy holiday TV specials.
Traditional. Musical. Animated. Old. New. I watch them all. I know some of them are awful but I don’t care. I love them. My favorite this year is Michael Buble’s “Home For The Holidays”. He’s so dreamy. Sigh.

Christmas guilty pleasures

10. Guilt-free lying to the children.
Lying is bad – unless it’s during the holidays. Then, it’s actually a requirement. Think about it, how many Christmas surprises would be ruined if we were totally honest with our kids? So lie away, it’s ok. Besides, it’s not like you’re breaking a commandment or anything. (Wouldn’t that be ironic?)

How many will you admit to?

Brown paper bags turned into holiday decorations

My sister-in-law is an amazing artist, one of those people who can do everything. She paints. She draws. She throws clay. She crafts. She crochets. She takes inspiring photographs. Even her name screams creative genius – Piper LaRue. Nice, right? So today I’m sharing a few of Piper’s masterpieces with you, specifically her hand-drawn gift bags. Yep, these all started as plain brown paper bags. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away after last Christmas so I trimmed, laminated, and framed them. Voila – handmade holiday decorations.

Santa Elvis

Santa fish

flying Santa

Santa puppet

If you don’t have access to an amazing young artist, you can find fabric and scrapbooking paper these days that’s frame-worthy. I’ve even seen some wrapping papers here that I would gladly hang on my wall. Do you have any “repurposed” holiday decorations? Send me a link, I’d love to see it.

The greatest coffee maker never invented.

You know that obnoxious, painful sound your alarm clock makes in the morning? That wish-you-had-a-hammer “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP”? (Maybe yours is a “BUZZ, BUZZ, BUZZ”. Either way, it’s evil.)

evil beeping alarm clock

And have you noticed that your coffee machine makes the same awful beeping sound when your brew is ready? Why? Why should the ugliest sound of the morning be used to signify the most glorious moment of the morning?

http://www.clker.com/cliparts/5/x/f/N/F/w/coffee-md.png

This is where my genius comes in. Genius may be a strong word but it’s my blog so we’re going with it. What if this sound came out of your kitchen when the day’s liquid love was ready?

Or maybe this.

Or, if you’re more of a traditionalist . . .

Feeling festive?

I could keep going but you get the idea. Greatest invention ever, yes? Now that I’ve come up with the idea please feel free to send me large sums of money for research & development – and whatever else happens when you invent things. What song do you want yours to play? I’m accepting requests.

Santa Claus and the Bearded Dragon: I Believe

My daughter wants a bird for Christmas this year. I told her no, but remembering what happened last year maybe I should start shopping for a cage. Here’s the story.

bearded dragon

(Originally posted March 26, 2012)

This was the conversation between me and my 8-year-old daughter right before Halloween:

Her: I want a lizard for Christmas.
Me: Um, no.
Her: Please mommy.
Me: No. No way. No way in H-E-L-L.
Her: Why?
Me: Because they’re yucky and icky. And because I said so.
Her: Fine, I’ll ask Santa for one.
Me: Santa doesn’t bring gifts mom and dad haven’t approved.
Her: You don’t know about Santa or lizards mom. I’m asking him for one!

Now repeat this conversation each and every day for the next month or so, which puts us somewhere in late November. I’m at a neighbor’s house (a neighbor who knows nothing of the convo between daughter & me) for a fund-raiser/party when she pulls me aside to show me this “crazy new thing” she has. I follow her into the next room and find myself face to face with a large, scaly, beady-eyed bearded dragon lizard.

Me: WHUCK?!
Neighbor: It’s not mine. A friend found it abandoned in one of his rental properties and couldn’t leave it there to die so he brought it here. I don’t know what to do with it. If you know anyone who wants or needs a lizard, let me know.
Me: (Insert stunned silence here.)

Folks, I’m not a religious person but I think my little girl must have been praying every single night for Santa to bring her a lizard. Praying hard. And since I’m too smart to spit in the face of divine reptilian intervention, Santa brought a bearded dragon to our house on Christmas morning. Her name is Elizabeth, Lizzy for short, and it took about a day for her to melt my heart. I’m not ashamed to admit I was wrong – she’s not icky or yucky. I love her. When I pet her I’m reminded that Christmas is a magical season, that you’re never too old to believe in Santa, and that my youngest daughter is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

bearded dragon

DIY cafe mocha sugar scrub and free printable

A couple weeks ago I shared a recipe for a DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub. Since then I’ve come up with another scrub that is UH. MAZE. ING. It’s perfect for holiday gift giving and you probably have everything you need in the cupboard right now.

Cafe Mocha Sugar Scrub 

diy cafe mocha sugar scrub

1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of regular white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground coffee
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil (see #3 below)
1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix together brown sugar and white sugar.

2. Add the coffee and cocoa to the sugar mixture and stir together, being sure to break up any lumps. I used a french vanilla coffee because it’s what I had. I’m sure any kind will do.

3. Add the oil and mix well. What kind of oil you choose is really up to you. Sunflower, safflower, or plain vegetable oil will all work. My only suggestion is to NOT use olive oil because it has such a strong scent. I used this from my local grocery store.

diy cafe mocha sugar scrub

4. Lastly, stir in the vanilla. (The smell might seem overpowering at first but it will mellow.)

That’s it, you’re done. All that’s left is to scoop it into some pretty containers and deliver it to your friends. I usually go with mason jars – simple & classic.

diy cafe mocha sugar scrub

But this time I was looking for something non-breakable so it could be used in the shower without worry of broken toes or bloody messes. I decided on this little number from The Container Store.

diy cafe mocha sugar scrub

Of course I had to make a pretty label for it too. It’s not professional or anything but I’ll put a link at the bottom of this post. You’re more than welcome to use it for your own sugar scrub adventures.

You could give it with a Panera or Starbuck’s gift card.

diy cafe mocha sugar scrub

Or with a coffee mug that’s perfect for you-know-who.

diy cafe mocha sugar scrub

A few other ideas bouncing around my noggin:

  • tuck it inside stockings
  • give as gifts at a ladies holiday brunch
  • package with a bag of specialty beans from Harry & David
  • surprise your favorite barista
  • put a basket full in the teacher’s lounge at school
  • give as a hostess gift at Christmas dinner

As promised, here are the labels I made. Let me know if you decide to mix up a batch of this yummy stuff. I can’t wait to hear how you like it.

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