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Advent

(I love this Advent wreath-directions on how to make it here.)

Advent begins on Sunday!  I love this Catholic tradition.  There is nothing like the scent of those candles burning at dinner time that brings me back to my childhood.   Today I am running out to get some new candles.  Have a good weekend!

Guest Post -Affordable Gifts for Teens

Favorite Toys here.
Favorite Games here.
Book Gift Ideas here.

Ok, ready?  Boys and girls mixed in, junior high into college, here's a list of ideas from Abbey and some of her good friends. (I begged only a few suggestions out of my boys.)  Also at the bottom, is a cute post my daughter wrote when a few years ago with more ideas.

Nike socks-girls and boys wear them. I have bought so many pairs of these! Where do they all go?

Very popular right now, lots of different choices.


Makeup brushes. I am told they don't have to expensive to be quality.




Sanuk flip-flops.

Soft PJ's.  The Aerie brand is popular.

Crocodile clips.  Can be found at any drug store

Not Your Mother's Beach Spray and Dry Shampoo

These Lush bath bombs are a perfect gift and have a five star rating and are very popular.

Personalized Coffee Mug
This cute one is from Anthro for $8, but you can find these everywhere.

YogaAccessories (TM) 1/4'' Extra Thick High Density Yoga Mat (Phthalate Free) - Jasmine Green
Earth Therapeutics Aloe Socks, Pink

Electric Blanket-Abbey LOVES her electric blanket (and boy did it come in handy early this year when Janey and I had a terrible bout of pneumonia.)  I bought her one at Kohl's on sale.

Fuzzy Blankets
We have this one and this one-these are found everywhere, the softer the better.

IPhone Cases
My niece uses the Otter Box  Commuter Series and really likes it-they are affordable too.
Abbey uses a LifeProof (after having to replace the screen because of a breakage she decided it was in her best interest to spend a little more.


neff Men's Daily Pipe Glove, Cyan, Medium
neff gloves-boys or girls!

neff Men's Daily Beanie, Green, One Size
neff beanies-again, boys or girls, lots of cute colors.

Duffel bags-especially for college kids-Lands End has great ones, I love their sales, and you can get them monogrammed.

Quad copters. This is the brand we chose and you can read about this fun toy here.


Here is a list from a couple years ago, written by my daughter:
Shopping for teenagers is definitely harder than other ages (I would know, I am one) and one of the biggest problems is not knowing exactly what they want.  If you're stuck on this and need a few ideas, these are some of my favorite things that I have gotten, and some things I am asking for this year!

Headphones. Definitely a broad topic. My favorite are the brand Skullcandy .  Lots of styles, affordable, and great quality! Pink and purple are my go-to colors.

Something that I am in desperate need (okay, want, sorry Mom) of this year, this iPod adapter thingy for an older car like the one Isaac and I share.  Because radio music can get old too fast when they play the same songs over and over...

The Wet Brush Detangle Brush . Last time I went to the salon, the lady who trimmed my hair suggested this because my hair is so long and gets tangled so easy. It works wonders.

OPI and Essie nail polish. great quality and true to color. New favorite colors: Gargantuan Green Grape by OPI (minty green) and Mango Bango by Essie. You can find Essie at Target and OPI at salons and makeup stores like Sephora and Ulta.

Image result for mauve opi nail polish

A subscription to InStyle magazine.  Full of great ideas, new trends, fashion advice, cool pictures, and classy clothes!  Once I am finished reading a magazine, I look through it and cut out pictures that inspire me and my style and collage them onto my doors.

Every girl needs something Vera Bradley! Such cute patterns and very durable. I use my bag for everything, school, shopping, etc. (Sometimes I see these at TJ Maxx for a great price.)

Robin Hood Kate Wristlet
And when I don't feel the need to lug around my big purse, I love a wristlet. This one comes in tons of different patterns.

Also I put my cards in a pouch on the back of my phone.



One of my absolute favorite Christmas presents last year from my grandma was this Color Daze Blockbuster from Sephora.  (NOTE: This is crazy expensive now, this is a similar kit at a price close to what was paid for the above kit.)  For girls that love experimenting with makeup and trying new techniques, this set comes with it all: Mascara, blush, eyeliners, lip gloss, eyeshadow, luminizer, and brushes. It could also be a good starter kit.

A jewelry organizer is a must-have for a cluttery closet! This one hangs anywhere and is two-sided.

Hope this helps!

Janey-Pants




Janey is 3 months old now, and she reminds of a baby doll.  She is just so cuddly but still a little floppy, getting chubbier-boy did she hit a growth spurt in the last week and filled out considerably.  She smiles all the time, and laughs too. 


She sneezes four times in a row, always.
Isn't that cute?

My Helper

(She is pretending she is exhausted from her grocery shop trip.)

I am SO thankful for this sweet girl.  Abbey has always always been my biggest helper.  She is sharp as a whip and remembers everything and can find things and just knows what I need when I need it all around the house.

She has been grocery shopping for me because she enjoys it and I do not.  I write out my lengthy list and hardly have to go over it with her, and she comes back with it all, plus some treats for herself.  Like Santa ice cream treats and that sort of thing.  She even bought Double Stuff Oreos for Isaac to take back to college because she knows he likes those.  That's a thoughtful little sister.

Abbey also wrote a whole guest post for me this weekend, just to give me a little bloggy break, outlining some great affordable gifts of teen girls.  I will post that soon.  It is so sweet.

I love her and appreciate her so much.

Our Favorite Games


Favorite Toys here.
Favorite Books here.
Teen Gift Ideas here.

After reading my favorite toys post a week ago, Jeff informed me that I "forgot" to include all of the games the kids love.  I put "forgot" in quotations because I think I might have done that accidentally on purpose subconsciously.  I am not a game person-I can play a few: Scrabble, Candy Land,  Zingo.  Pretty much that's it.  I just don't have the patience, or the attention span, or maybe it's the lack of competitive spirit.  I am terrible at logic and deduction and all that fancy stuff.

So here's a guest post written by my husband, game nerd extraordinaire, who never ever takes a pass. Most of these games are for the five, six, or seven year old and up crowd, and quite a few are one-player for when Jeff's not around.

Here's Jeff:
I grew up playing games, cards and puzzles.  Sarah grew up reading books.

Like a Tetrus puzzle, there are different challenges to fit the wood pieces into the grid.  Six and up-the games adjusts to make it easier for younger kids.  All the kids in the family enjoy it.

2,837 Five Star reviews!!!
An awesome fun game that the whole family enjoys.  For two to five players, the object of the game is to travel to as many cities as you can in just seven days.

Like an old-fashioned top, that needs to navigated through the maze by tilting it.

We have four of these and they are ADDICTING!  So much fun.  You guide a marble through the maze by tilting the ball in your hands.  Ages six to adult.  These are great to set around the house-they are irresistible. 

This if for ages 8 and above and it IS difficult. The edges of each tile must match black to black and white to white.

All Think Fun Games get great reviews-they cater to all different ages from toddler to adult also.

Shake the cube and then match the pattern as fast as possible to win-a two-player game.


This is a great two player game where you try and trap your opponent before they trap you.  What is nice about this game is my 9 year old gives me a strong challenge every time we play.  It is very easy to learn, but once you play a few times you start to understand different strategies to win.  This is great when you are tired of chess or checkers.  Each game takes only about 5 minutes to complete.

Rubik's Cube- Our kids have viewed tutorials on YouTube to help solve the cube.  Isaac can solve it in under a minute and Andrew under three minutes.  I tried to solve it 25 years ago without any technological assistance, but never did, until YouTube!
Boggle-Our kids got onto a big scrabble kick this past year.  Andrew liked Boggle better.  You make up as many words as you can in three minutes.  We play together at night before bed and help each other try to set a new record for words found.  We sometimes re-shake it if the letter that come up are too tough.  
LONPOS Rectangular and Pyramid Puzzle-This is really two puzzle/pattern games in one.  Each puzzle is gradually more difficult.  The pyramids are fun to build.  

Rush Hour-We have Rush Hour and Rush Hour Two.  You just have to drive the red car out of the game by moving the other cars out of its way.  I think I have played this game more than the kids.

Solitaire Chess This is also a puzzle game where you use chess pieces and moves to capture and remove all the pieces until there is just one piece left.  You do not have to know how to play chess to play it, but you do have to know how the different chess pieces move.  Like Rush Hour, the easy cards help you learn how to play and get you hooked. 

Monopoly Deal-A fast way to play a game of Monopoly using playing cards.  I think this was the "in" game sweeping the country last year-our kids learned it from friends out in Colorado, and as soon as we left their house, they all begged us to stop and get a deck.  It has been worth every penny.

Qwirkle Cubes- This is a great game where both adults and kids can have fun together.  We have both Qwirkle and Qwirkle Cubes, unless Qwirkle found its way into one of Sarah's 40 black bags.  

Our kids still play this game four years later.  It is hard to not get addicted to attempting to beat your time again and again.

Guess Who Mix and Mash-Andrew is Mr. Game.  He is Jeff Junior.  This is one of his favorites.

Chess, Checker and Backgammon Set - It folds up and latches, and all the pieces fit inside which is why Sarah bought it. 


This year we bought a new chess set, as the chess playing moved to the low table on the porch that was constantly getting bumped by younger siblings.  For Father's Day we bought this magnetized version and a timer (to prevent the constant arguments over who was taking to long.
This clip on ping pong net is another new addition and fun-fits on any table.