Ten Ideas for Hostess Gifts

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with that comes dinner invitations and parties! Parties and dinners, of course, usually entails bringing a hostess gift. For me, that used to mean bringing a bottle of wine, or flowers or a dessert. Now I know better. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I remember once going to someone’s house for dinner and several people bringing wine (me included!) and several others brought flowers.

Now, I try to personalize the hostess gift to match the interests of the hostess. Here are some of my favorite ideas that won’t break the bank! (Not only that, these ideas can be used for almost any occasion, not just the holidays, such as birthdays.)

1. Disposable camera. This is popular at a lot of weddings these days, but can be fun for any occasion. Pass the camera around and then offer to have the film developed. To take it one step further, why not surprise your hostess and organize the pictures in an album before giving her the pictures? I know, for me, I often forget to take out my camera when I host a gathering and it would be great to have someone capture the memories for me!

2. Decorative calendar for the New Year. There are many types of calendars that are quite lovely. You can even go online and have personalized calendars made, if you have enough time. Also, if you are giving the calendar to a family member or close friend, pre-fill in some important dates to remember such as birthdays, anniversaries or events.

3. Gift certificate. A $5 or $10 dollar gift certificate makes a terrific hostess gift. Who doesn’t love a gift certificate to their favorite store?! Put it in a pretty envelope or card and you are good to go. Or, go one step further and make a homemade gift certificate that is redeemable for one afternoon of watchingย  her kids (or other fun activity)!

4. Spiritual bouquet. A spiritual bouquet is nothing more than a homemade (or store-bought) card with a list of prayers and/or spiritual devotions that were (or will be) offered for that person. You can decorate the card as simply or as elaborate as you want. Here is an example of a spiritual bouquet to get you started.

5. Framed scripture verse. You can use Microsoft Publisher or other software to create and print out the host’s favorite scripture verse on fancy card stock and frame it for her.

6.ย  Candles. You can never have enough candles, can you?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

7. Ornament. You make a tree ornament or buy one inexpensively. As a nice touch you can have the ornament personalized for your host. When my husband and I were celebrating our first Christmas together, my mother-in-law gave us a personalized ornament that brings me a smile every year when I hang in on our tree.

8. Music. You can easily get some beautiful Christmas or other music CDs for $5 dollars or less in the clearance rack. Or, you can take the time to make a compilation of the host’s favorite music onto a CD.

9. Costume Jewelry. If your hostess likes to wear jewelry (personally, I don’t), you can find some really nice costume jewelry inexpensively. Etsy has lots ofย  costume jewelry in all different price ranges. Of course, if it’s your thing, you can certainly make your own.

10. Gift baskets. Gift baskets make great gifts for any occasion. You can quickly put together a small basket that is theme based. For example, you can do a tea basket with different tea samples and/or tea towels or a small basket with bathroom or kitchen accessories.

I’d love to hear you ideas, too! Do you have a unique hostess gift idea you can share with us?

P.S. Download this list, no opt-in required, for future reference:ย 10 Ideas for Hostess Gifts

(This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday.)

10 Thanksgiving Crafts From Pinterest

Thanksgiving is only a couple short weeks away, and I’ve been looking for some simple (and fun) craft ideas. I’ve mentioned this before, but my new favorite place to look for ideas is Pinterest; and, I’ve found some cute ideas there for Thanksgiving. Here’s just a few:

1. Be Thankful.

Be Thankful

Pinned by Tilisa Howell

 

2. Thanksgiving Hat Crafts.

Thanksgiving hat crafts

Pinned by Chelsea Ewert

 

3. Placemats.

placemats

Pinned by Rebecca Phalen

 

4. Story of Thanksgiving Crafts.

Story of Thanksgiving

Pinned by Cindy Schival

 

5. Turkey Craft.

Turkey

Pinned by Ashly Dower

 

6. Paper Crafts.

Paper Crafts

Pinned by Christy Kramer

 

7. Thanksgiving Wreath.

Thanksgiving Wreath

Pinned by Jacqueline Mills

 

8. Thanksgiving games and crafts.

Games and Crafts

Pinned by Brenda Kirk

 

9. Thanksgiving card and craft.

Thanksgiving card and craft

Pinned by Marri

 

10. Thankful Box.

Thankful Box

Pinned by Ann Hathaway

 

Aren’t these great ideas? I particularly love the thankful box! Do you have any favorite craft ideas to share? Leave the idea or link in the comments. Thanks!

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

Ten Ways to Honor the Lord’s Day

Yesterday I talked about why honoring the Lord’s Day is important. Today I would like to suggest some activities you can do as a family to honor the Lord’s Day:

Image by Icb (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by Icb (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

1. Go to church. Yep, I know I’m probably preaching to the choir (pun intended!) to most people reading this. But, sometimes, even faithful Christians need a reminder that participating in the Eucharist is the paramount expression of our faith. We can get lazy. We can make excuses.

2. Pray as a family. If you don’t have a daily family devotional time (or have become lax in praying as a family), Sunday – this one perhaps? – would be a great day to start. Praying the rosary or Lectio Divina would be a great place to start.

3. Visit the sick or shut-ins. I know from personal experience from having worked in several nursing homes over the years that there are a lot of lonely people (with no or little family) stuck in their homes or nursing homes due to illness or age. A short visit to someone who has no family could make his or her own week, let alone day!

4. Visit with extended family. It’s not always easy to get everyone together for a meal during the week; but Sundays shouldn’t be too hard – even if it’s just once or twice a month. ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Go to the park.ย  Or for a bike ride. How about a game of frisbee or football? Weather permitting, have a picnic. The point is: get out of the house and have some fun as a family!

6. Go on a pilgrimage. You don’t have to travel to Lourdes, France or travel hours to some popular shrine. An internet search will probably bring up several lesser known shrines you can travel to as a family.

7. Make Sunday meals special. Good china isn’t just for Christmas and Easter, you know. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Why not put a nice table cloth on the table and set it with some nice china? Put some nice candles out and play some nice background music to make a nice atmosphere in the room. (Be realistic with this. Obviously you don’t want to put out breakable china in the reach of little ones. Maybe just use “nicer” plates?)

8. Plan a special meal or dessert. Without going crazy(or exhausting yourself with making an elaborate six-course meal), it may be nice to plan a more special meal or festive dessert. Let it be something that you ordinarily wouldn’t make.

9. Play games or read together. I’ve often talked about our love of games and the latest books we are reading, and for our family, Sundays gives us more time for these activities. Sunday is a great day to finally get out that game you’ve been wanting to play for so long

10. Rest. If your family is like mine, taking a nap may be out of the question; but, maybe you can cuddle up with your little ones. ๐Ÿ™‚ It would be a great time to just chat and rest with them.

I’d love to hear your ideas! What do you do with your family to honor the Lord’s Day? Please share in the comments.

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Tweetable: Ten Ways to Honor the Lord’s Dayย 

Ten Unusual Apple Recipes

Apples for sale(Photo Credit)

Fall is here and that means an abundance of apples! If you are planning to go apple picking or have more apples then you know what to do with, here are some unusual apple recipes I found around the ‘net: (P.S. Most of these sites have other apple recipes, as well!)

1. Grilled Cheese and Apples.

2. Herman Applesauce Donuts.

3. Apple Blue Cheese Slaw.

5. Apple Bean Casserole.

6. Apple Noodle Kugel.

7. Apple Beef Sedish. (This site has two other unusual recipes, as well.)

8. Applesauce Meringue.

9. Apple Iced Tea. (Sounds a bit odd toย  me, but I can’t wait to give it a try. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

10. Apple Cinnamon Soy Protein Smoothie. (I don’t like soy milk, so if I make this I’m gonna try it with regular milk.)

Now it’s your turn to share. What’s your favorite or unusual apple recipe?

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

Ten Family Game Night Ideas

As the days are getting shorter and the air is getting cooler, we are slowly moving from outdoor activities to indoor activities. For our family, that means the return to game nights! We have a standard weekly game night, but usually wind up playing games together several nights during the week and weekends.

Andrew is six, so the games we play areย  for the younger crowd; however, I must confess that I enjoy playing them as much as he does! Here are some of our favorites:

1. Scrabble, Jr. I’m so happy that my son is carrying on my tradition of loving Scrabbleยฎ – even if it is the junior version!

2. Candyland. Who hasn’t played this classic game?! Candyland was a great game when Andrew was smaller and learning his colors and it still continues to be one of his favorites.

3. Chutes and Ladders. Another classic game. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to get close to the end of the game only to land on one of the slides that brings you back to the beginning of the game!

4. Trouble. Oh, watch out with this game, it can get a little loud AND frustrating. ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Silly Sentences. Not only does this game teach reading and grammar (almost without the children realizing it), it’s fun!

6. Hungry, Hungry, Hippo. This is a loud game, so I personally can’t play this game for too long; but, Andrew loves it!

7. Don’t Break the Ice. My son totally has this game backward. The object of the game is to NOT let the little polar bear fall; but Andrew always wants to make it fall! Ha!

8. Connect Four. When I was growing up, I only knew of one version of this game; but, now apparently there are three – and all of them are fun.

9. Operation. The version of this game that I remember is a little different than the one that is out now. However, it’s still just as fun. (Although I don’t get the same kick out of having to retrieve the “runny nose” as much as Andrew does!)

10. Twister. I can’t play this game because of physical limitations; but, I do get to spin the board and call out the colors and placement (and laugh at everyone else trying to contort their bodies to get into the right position!). This is definitely a HILARIOUS game for the whole family.

What about you? Does your family have a regular game night? What games do your family enjoy playing?

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

Our 10 Favorite Current Family Read-Aloud Books

When I wrote my revised curriculum, I promised that I would share some of the books I have been reading to Andrew. A few of the books are repeats from the list I shared a little over a year ago; but, now that Andrew has discovered the world of chapter books, those favorites are slowly being replaced! In another list I’ll share some of the books Andrew has been reading to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are 10 of Andrew’s current favorites:

1. Guess How Much I Love You. Andrew knows this book by heart now! It is a standard read every night before bed.

2. Children’s Book of Virtues. This is another that continues to be a favorite. There are so many little stories in this book that Andrew loves. And I love the underling moral virtues encouraged in all the stories.

3. Picture Book of Saints. This is a book that will remain a family favorite for a long time. Andrew never gets tired of reading and re-reading the lives of the different saints in this book.

4. Get Busy Beaver! This is a about a beaver family that is Quick! Quick! Quick! about building their dam. Except for the brother…who in the end surprises the family in a beautiful way. A sweet story.

5. The Hipponotamus. This is a fun story about a hippopotamus who wants to be anything but! Andrew often giggles and laughs his way through this cute story!

6. The Boxcar Children Series. When I called out for help in getting Andrew to practice his reading, this book came recommended by many moms – and I’m so glad! Andrew LOVES these books. There are over 100 books in this series, so I suspect we will be reading these for a while! (Each book stands on its own, so you don’t have to read them in order; but, I would recommend reading the very first book first.)

7. The Bobbsey Twins Series. These books are a bit above Andrew’s level but thanks to The Boxcar Children books, Andrew has grown to enjoy mysteries and enjoys these books very much.

8. The Flat Stanley Series. My sister-in-law handed these books down to us. Her sons enjoyed theses books and she thought Andrew would enjoy them, too. And he does. These stories chronologize the adventures of Stanley who was flattened by a bulletin board. Fun books.

9. The Magic Tree House Series. These books tell the story of Jack and Annie, a brother and sister team, who discover a tree house that is filled with books. Through these books, they are able to travel through time and place and encounter all sorts of adventures. A couple of books where a little too suspenseful for Andrew, but over all, he enjoys these books very much.

10. The Little Bear Books. I think I love Little Bear as much as Andrew does. ๐Ÿ™‚ You may recognize Little Bear from the popular cartoon series on Nick Junior but; Little Bear started out as a classic book series way before the show. All the stories are heartwarming and enchanting and they never fail to keep Andrew mesmerized.

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday.)

Ten Odd Search Terms That Reached This Blog

search resultsWho doesn’t love reading their blog stats? I do! It is fun watching the viewer count (a little too!) slowly go up (with some dips, too). One of the things I’ve noticed, when checking out the stats, is some of the strange terms that people have used to get to my blog.

As way of example, here are some of the search terms people have used who have found my site. Most of these aren’t “way out there” per se or particularly funny, but I thought they were strange. Odder still is that all of these terms were searched at least two or more times!

1. Purchase chlorine resistant.

2. History of.

3. Bikini Catholic.

4. Search throat.

5. Philadelphia pressure washing intext:posted.

6. Big pants.

7. How to build teens.

8. Potato pancake church.

9. Eggtastic.

10. Who do you.

What about you? What strange search terms have people used to get to your blog?

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday.)

Ten Reasons I Love My Husband

Yesterday was our eighth wedding anniversary so I can’t resist taking advantage of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday to write a little list of some of the things I love about my husband. ๐Ÿ™‚

1. He is committed to his faith. No one is perfect, and his faith may have wavered at times, but never broken!

2. He is committed to his family. Family is very important to Michael and he will do anything for us. Not just me and our son; but, also our parents, siblings, and extended family.

3. He is a good provider. Michael works hard to provide for us; and, although we may never be rich, we have all we need to live a good life.

4. He is a good father. Michael loves our son very much, and it shows in all that he does with and for Andrew.

5. He’s funny! Well, sometimes when I’m cranky or stressed, I don’t always appreciate his humor – and I HATE that he loves to tickle me – but most of the time I think he’s funny. ๐Ÿ™‚

6. He is laid back and doesn’t let small things bother him. Unlike me. I definitely worry too much and brood over minor things. He can let things roll off his back and deal with things as they come. I sure wish I was like him in this respect.

7. He is cuddly. I love snuggling up in his arms and still get tingly when he kisses me. {blush}

8. He loves my cooking. As he should! LOL! Well, I am a decent cook; but I also like to try new recipes and he is always a good sport about eating (or at least trying) anything I make.

9. He is not afraid to admit his mistakes. When he is in the wrong and knows it, he admits and says he is sorry. And, he is always willing to talk things out (albeit a little loudly!) when we disagree.

10. He is cute! Seriously, he has such a nice smile – and eyes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just wish I had a better, updated picture than the one below to prove it!

Ten Fun Craft Ideas from Pinterest

I was poking around Pinterest the other day and came across some fun craft ideas I’d like to try. Here are some of them:

1. Pillow Craft. Looks like a fun fall project.

Pillow Craft

pinned by Connie Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cardboard tube craft. My son would love this!

Cardboard tube

pinned by Kayla Stoops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Clothes pins craft. Aren’t these adorable?!

Clothespins craft

pinned by Julie Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Picture frame. Cute idea for a gift.

Picture Frame

pinned by Amanda Jenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Handmade cards. I love making home-made cards and do so frequently for different occasions.

Handmade cards

pinned by Tiffany Cottam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Candles. These are so pretty!

Candles

pinned by Vicki Hodgman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Button Crafts. Another craft my son would enjoy.

Button crafts

pinned by Sarah Sasac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Rolled Roses. Not sure how complicated it is to make these, but they are beautiful.

Rolled Roses

pinned by Justine Lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Quilting crafts. I have been wanting to learn to quilt for a long time.

quilting craft

pinned by Cristin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Christmas Crafts. I’d like to make some homemade gifts this year, so I better start thinking of Christmas now!

Christmas craft

pinned by Paula Coreg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What craft(s) are you working on or planning to start in the near future? Do share!

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)

Ten Simple Ways to Beat the Heat

Hot enough for ya? ๐Ÿ™‚ It felt like July this summer has been one of the hottest ever and it looks like August is going to be quite a scorcher, too. Thank God for fans and air conditioning! Besides those, here a some other things we are trying to stay cool:

1. Close some vents and open others. In a lot of houses, at least the ones I’ve lived in, the upstairs is usually hotter than the first floor. It makes sense, giving that heat rises. To counter that, we open wide all the vents on the second floor and partially cover (and in some places completely cover) the vents on the first floor. I got this idea from my father-in-law and at first I was skeptical. However, once I actually did this, I discovered that it actually does help.

2. Close the curtains. I love the longer natural light that comes with summer, but the burning sun can add extra heat to a house. To counter this, I close the curtains during part of the day and in some rooms, all of the day.

3. Shut the lights off. Light generates heat, so except for the light I need when I am in a given room, I keep the lights off as much as possible.

4. Don’t use the oven. I don’t have to tell you how much heat the oven can bring into the kitchen and possibly other rooms in the house. However, one can only eat so much salad. You can grill just about anything, so that’s definitely the way to go. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you don’t have a grill, you can just as easily throw something into your slow cooker for a simple and yummy supper.

5. Wash the dishes by hand. Gasp! Believe me, I *love* my dishwasher; but, on the hottest of days – like when it was over 100 degrees – I’ll wash the dishes in the sink. Washing the dishes isn’t my favorite chore, but it does help.ย  Better yet, get one of your kids to wash them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

6. Don’t use the dryer. Again, the clothes dryer, like the oven, can generate a lot of heat. That’s why I often use a clothes rack or line in the summer. I love the smell of clothes drying in the fresh air! If it’s not practical or you can’t use a clothes line for whatever reason, dry running the dryer in the early morning or later in the evening.

7. Give the kiddies a bath. When it’s too hot and humid to be outside at all – even at the pool or beach, I’ll turn the bathtub into a mini-pool. I’ll fill the bath with cool water and throw in a few beach toys. Then I’ll put on Andrew’s swimsuit and let him play in the water.

8. Have some indoor fun. When you want to get out of the house, but it is way too hot to be outside, then it’s time to resort to other indoor activities. We don’t have tons of disposable income at hand; so, we have been utilizing the library A LOT. Our local library has many different programs going on right now and we have been attending many of them. Other options would be free or discount days at a museum or going to a matinee at the movies.

9. Stay hydrated. We all know how important it is to drink lots of water. In the summer, it’s paramount. Drinking lots of water is important to avoid dehydration but can also helpย  you stay cool. Try and at least drink a glass of water every hour. Besides regular water, sucking on ice chips or using an ice pack on the back of your neck may help you stay cool.

10. Cover up. It sounds counter-intuitive to cover up with clothes to stay cool, doesn’t it? However, wearing light-colored cotton tops or clothes, particularly moisture wicking fabric, will actually keep you cooler when outdoors for long periods. The fabric provides a protective layer against the sun (and skin cancer!), and allows for your sweat to evaporate to help cool you off. (By the way, I’m not saying you should never wear short sleeves, or shorts or a bathing suit. I’m just saying that covering up is one valid way to help stay cool. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

What are you doing to stay cool this summer? Please share!

(Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.)