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.

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

Free Thanksgiving card

I sell cards over at my Etsy shop but this little number is an exclusive FREE ECARD for all my blog readers, Facebook followers, and Twitter followers. Feel free to share it on your own pages. If you want to email it to your grandma just right click on the picture below, select “copy image”, then paste it into the body of your email message. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!free Thanksgiving eCard from laughingabi.com

DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub

You are not going to believe how easy it is to make your own yummy-smelling, skin-softening sugar scrub. And cheap. I mean really, really cheap, using things you probably already have in your cupboards. This recipe is perfect to give as a Christmas gift or next week as a hostess gift at Thanksgiving. Here we go.

1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of regular white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil (see #3 below)

1. Mix together brown sugar and white sugar.

2. Add the spices to the sugar mixture and stir together, being sure to break up any lumps.

DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub

My inspiration, Stephanie Lynn, uses pumpkin pie spice. I tried it both ways and think using the four individual spices makes it smell . . . yummier.

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.

DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub

Did I mention that you’re done? Yep, that’s it.

DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub

All that’s left is to put it in a pretty jar and ask me, “hey, where’s the cute packaging and free printable?” I’m working on it, I swear. I’m looking for a non-breakable container so it can be used in the shower. When I find it, I promise to share. Until then, scoop a batch into a mason jar, tie a ribbon around it, and deliver it to your Thanksgiving host. They will love you for it.

Last minute Thanksgiving decoarations

I don’t know if you’re aware but Thanksgiving is only EIGHT DAYS AWAY. This time next week people will be arriving at your house. Putting their feet on your furniture. Their heads on your pillows. Their bums on your toilets. It’s crunch time and while I’m no meal-planning or entertaining expert, I can offer some simple, last minute decorating ideas.

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

1. Dry erase markers on dishes: I can’t take credit for this idea but I also can’t remember where I saw it. It was an easy update to my Halloween plate wall but if you don’t want to hang plates on your wall you could have all your guests sign or write what they’re thankful for on a large serving platter. Snap a picture of the finished platter at the end of the night for a lasting holiday memory. (NOTE: I tested my dry erase marker on the back of the plate first just to be sure it would erase.)

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

2. Seasonal fabric stretched in a large quilters hoop: I bought this hoop and fabric at JoAnn’s. There are no rules. Just find something you like, stretch it in the hoop, and pop it on the wall for a splash of seasonal color and pattern.

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

3. Photographs: Scroll through your family photos and pick four or five faves that scream “FALL”. I’ve used several shots of my kids in the leaf pile, and this one of my baby girl holding an acorn sits on the mantle. Even photos that have an orange or yellow color theme would work. If you have digital images upload them to a one-hour processing center (I use Walgreens.com) and all you have to do is go pick them up.

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

4. Candles: Candles are one of the quickest ways to set a mood. Mine are actually the fake, battery operated kind. I added a strip of golden scrapbooking paper along with some alphabet stickers to make them Thanksgivingy. You could use the same idea with different sized candles and place them down the center of the dining table. Just remember if you’re planning to light them, wrap the paper around a clear glass holder instead of directly around the candle so you don’t burn the house down – not a fun holiday idea.

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

last minute Thanksgiving decorations

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving “quicky”?

Movember mustache and lips pillow shams

Movember mustache and lips pillow shams

It’s Movember. Time to put a spotlight on men’s health issues and, of course, have a little fun doing it. In addition to letting my mustache grow for the whole month I made these new Mustache and Lip Pillow Shams.

Movember mustache and lips pillow shams

Movember mustache and lips pillow shams

You can find them for sale over in my Etsy shop. While they were inspired by the Movember movement they would be the perfect gift any month of the year.

– Christmas/holidays
– traditional wedding
– gay wedding (2 staches or 2 lips)
– house warming
– kid’s/teen rooms

Movember mustache and lips pillow shams

Movember mustache and lips pillow shams

Movember mustache and lips pillow shams

Hope you love them as much as I do. I’m trying to figure out how I can make a donation for each Etsy purchase. Will let you know when I do.