It's The Season of Giving

While it's important to me and my family to focus on giving back year round, there's something about the holiday season that strengthens that focus. I think it's because we are so incredibly blessed and find ourselves extra happy and thankful during the holidays, it only makes sense to share what we have with those in need.

This year, I want to try and impress as much of that spirit that I can on HDawg and his two-year-old little self (let's just be honest, Little Lady June at 9 months old is not going to catch on yet!).

First off, I want to make sure H knows that we are blessed. David and I sat down with H and asked him- "what do you want to say thank you for?" We made a "thankful jar" filled with notes about the things we're thankful for this season... he said "my friends" and "Thanksgiving" (which kind of sounds like "ice-giving" in two-year-old speak) which we put in the bucket with some of mine and David's thanks for our faith, our health and, above all, our family. Our little H has been so sweet about reminding us of what we're thankful for and what's in our thankful jar, so I'm so happy we shared this little activity with him.

I also want to make sure he starts to grasp the concept of giving back. The kids' school was doing a food drive a few weeks ago for a local organization that supports the elderly. H helped me shop for non-perishable food items. He also helped me load up the items in a bag and drop them off at his school to be delivered to the elderly center. It was clear that he took a lot of pride in donating the food. In fact, he told his teacher "I share my peanut butter with the people!" after we dropped off the items which included jars of peanut butter. That's right, buddy, you did!

We've also decided as a family to make it a priority to organize and donate some of our gently used clothing. David recently lost some weight (okay... a lot of weight- almost 60 pounds!) and has a bunch of extra clothes that don't fit him. Couple that with all of the baby clothes Little Lady June has already outgrown (Miss Chunk is pretty much in all 12 month clothing!) and we have a lot of extra clothes around our house that we want to pass on to those in need.

Over the weekend, I brought out a few baskets and we sat down in front of the fire as a family and folded the clothes to donate. We talked about where they might go and who might wear them. It was a special time, gathered and working together as a family to hopefully help another family.

This holiday season, one of my favorite retailers has decided to get in the spirit of giving back, too. Target has teamed up with TOMS with a great line of products that are not only adorable but also make a difference.

For every item purchased, Target and TOMS are giving blankets, meals or shoes. For example, that soft, fuzzy TOMS blanket covering HDawg's sweet little toes while we folded clothes to give away? I purchased that blanket and Target and TOMS will give either a blanket to the American Red Cross or one week of meals to Feeding America. Same with that pretty grey cable knit TOMS sweater- I purchase, Target and TOMS gives a blanket to the ARC. Isn't that awesome?

You can check out the Target + TOMS items at your local Target store or online.

I'm grateful to Target for partnering up with me to share this great collaboration with all of you. I think it's so important to give back and to share that spirit with our little ones. 

How do you give back during the holiday season?

The Paper Lover's Delight: Christmas Cards and Art Gift Ideas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...! Every year, I love sharing with y'all one of my favorite holiday traditions- the Christmas card. It makes me so happy to run to the mailbox every day during the Christmas season and find a beautiful card highlighting our friends and family. I actually go so far as to save every card we receive and make a book for each year- just punch a hole in the corner of each card and string a ribbon through. Voila! A Christmas card book for each year.

This year, we ordered our cards again from Minted. I'll share the final result once we get them back from the printer, but above are some of my favorite options Minted has available this year. 

I also love their new ornament shaped cards. These are sure to stand out from the crowd of standard rectangle Christmas cards!

Minted also has a new holiday card booklet for 2014. Such a cute idea to share with your family and friends not only photos of your family, but stories and information about your year. It's sort of the revived "family update letter" that we grew up with. Love it.

You can check out all of Minted's Christmas cards right here. This year, Minted is offering free recipient addressing, which is pretty much amazing. Type your addresses in and they do all the work for you! Through the end of today, you can save 15% on your cards with the code: HAPPYHOL15. Be on the lookout later this week, as Minted will have some awesome Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales available! 

As if these adorable Christmas cards aren't enough, Minted also has upped their game when it comes to art prints. They've got an amazing selection of limited edition prints that you can check out here. I can't even tell you how many hours I have spent looking through their pieces. I love sooo many!

Not only are these beautiful, but there are some affordable prices, too. And Minted offer framing options! I think the art lover on your Christmas list would be more than happy with any of these pieces, don't you? I'm hoping a couple of these abstract pieces end up under the tree for me.

Have you ordered your Christmas cards yet?!

For a blast to the past or a little Christmas card inspiration, check out our illustrated 2013 Minted Christmas cardour 2012 Christmas card (hint: there was a naked baby involved!) and our 2011 Christmas post card.

Thanks to Minted for partnering up with me to share their 2014 holiday collections!

DIY Toddler Busy Bag Popsicle Color Matching Game

Back in September, I was asked to be part of a toddler busy bag exchange with a few other bloggers. Life got a little hectic and I never shared my tutorial for the busy bag I created. For those of you searching for some DIY inspiration for Christmas gifts for the toddler or baby in your life, I thought I'd share now! It's cute, it's simple and the kiddos love it- a popsicle color matching game.

Simply round up several colors of felt and cut two matching popsicle shapes from each piece. Also cut a tiny square from each color felt piece. Use fabric glue to connect each matching felt piece, but leave a space at the bottom unglued (along the straight edge) about two inches wide.

Next, glue each color felt square swatch to the bottom of a large popsicle stick. Once everything dries, you'll be able to match each popsicle stick to the popsicle through the opening you left unglued. Easy peasy! This will teach your toddler or baby their colors as well as a little hand-eye coordination and small motor skills as they attempt to put the pieces together. Store the kit in a cute pencil pouch (I got this one at Target) and you've got a fun game for the car or anytime momma needs a few minutes of quiet time! You can check out my busy bag in action over on Julia's blog.

Here are the girls who participated in the busy bag exchange. These are some fabulous blogging mommas, so make sure to check them out!

Colleen at Meet the Sullivans
Emily at Dear Owen
Natasha at Schue Love
Erin at Hello Erin

Going for A Stroll

Lately, I've really been making it a priority to be intentional with my time. With David, with the kids, with my family, with my friends. I want my time with them to mean something. These little boogers are growing at Jack and the Magic Beanstalk speed. Like, Little Lady June is trying to walk, y'all. It's all happening so quickly! So I never want to be absent from my time with them (or any loved ones!) just because I was busy playing on my phone or being distracted by something. It's all about the quality time, am I right?

A lot of the quality time I spend with my kids is outside. Unfortunately, the cold weather dragged itself into Georgia this weekend (and everywhere! boo, polar vortex!) but we luckily soaked up the beautiful weather all fall. 

A few weeks ago, we took our new stroller for a ride around the neighborhood. The stroller is part of the Maxi-Cosi Bohemian Collection. Check out those colors. Pretty fun, right?

Little Lady June is all, yeah, I'm wearing stripes and I match my stroller. Kickin.

I love that this stroller is lightweight and easy to fold up. It's kind of like a fancy umbrella stroller. I think this would be a perfect stroller to travel with- I can just see it jaunting through an airport swiftly and comfortably and easily being folded as a carry on as you step onto the plane. I will say that I was a little disappointed the stroller had two handles to push instead of a bar across the top... that makes it harder for mommas like me to push with one hand while juggling a toddler who is simultaneously trying to climb a wall/tree/bench/dog/fill in the blank.

I didn't get a picture of him in the stroller (he must have been too busy swinging like a big boy in his faux toddler Ray Bans... which he refuses to take off most days), but HDawg loved it too. So, it's light, cute and my kids like it? Win win.

How do you spend quality time with your kiddos or loved ones? Are you in the market for a new stroller?

*The stroller was provided to me by Maxi-Cosi but opinions, faux toddler Ray Bans and cute babies belong solely to me.

Black + Glossy Entryway Update

Lately, I've been working on a little project that I like to call "operation get my entryway's act together." Just in time for the coats and hats and scarves and boots and book bags and mittens and purses and shopping bags galore, I want to get our front door area organized and pretty.

In particular, I've got one big element I'm focusing on. Here are two hints: black + glossy. Okay, wait, my Pinterest boards have a little bit more to say.

Go ahead, call me Captain Obvious. But I can't wait to share once the project is complete! (which we all know may be in 42 years... will y'all still be here in 42 years to see it?!)

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