Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Super Fun Family Game - The Settlers of Catan

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I'm interrupting my relaxing Christmas break to tell you how much I (and my whole family) love the game The Settlers of Catan! I'm extremely surprised by this, too, since I didn't think I would like it that much. I usually go for fast-paced games or games that take about 30 minutes tops. The Settlers of Catan is long - usually takes about an hour to an hour and 30 minutes to play, but it's pretty fun. Even my 9-year-old daughter loves to play. Goodness, we've probably spent over 10 hours playing this game on our break. :)

The Settlers of Catan is only for up to 4 players, but 3 days after Christmas my son had already bought the 5-6 player extension. It's been fun for all 5 of us to be able to play all at the same time.

The gist in a jiffy - you collect resource cards (wool, wheat, ore, brick, and wood) in order to build roads, settlements, cities and buy other development cards. All of these things give you points which you need in order to win the game. Be the first to reach 10 points and you win!

Obviously, a lot more goes into this game. The instruction booklet is quite a few pages long. Not a plus for me, BUT don't lose heart yet . . . There's a handy dandy app you can download on your phone that will walk you through an introduction game. Made everything so easy!!!

If you've been wondering if this would be a good family game to buy, I highly recommend it!!! Probably best for ages at least 8 & up.

Here's a link to a video that explains the game in a nutshell:

  *You can order the original game and extension separately or order both together! Thanks for using my affiliate link. :)

Linked to WFMW, Tuesdays with a Twist

Thursday, December 18, 2014

TBT: Three Years of The Hobbit

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Wondering if our journey has finally come to an end . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Aromas With Essential Oils

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Artificial scents and most perfumes tend to bother me. I get headaches and/or my nose gets stuffy. An alternative that works for me for the holidays and everyday are essential oils.

I typically use Young Living oils, and I use them exclusively for internal use. However, in order to be able to afford to make my house smell Christmasy using my diffuser, I browsed the internet for some other essential oil companies. I ordered 3 oils from Plant Guru: vanilla, frankincense, and myrrh and one oil from Eden's Garden: cinnamon.

I already had Young Living peppermint on hand since that is one of my absolute favorites! I use it quite frequently. I also recently received Young Living pine in the mail. In fact, as I am writing this post, I am diffusing a peppermint/pine mixture which smells like a candy cane forest!

Both non Young Living companies have worked out just fine for diffusing. The cinnamon and vanilla blend well together and create a wonderful Christmas aroma. Frankincense has always been a favorite, and I am even using that one in my skincare routine. Every so often I mix a drop of oil in my face moisturizer. This was the first time I had ever smelled myrrh; it reminds me of black licorice a little bit but not as strong. I haven't diffused this one because the smell doesn't wow me and it's a little thicker than the other oils. I am currently finding other uses for it. :)

I really loved that Eden's Garden sent a detailed product guide with my order. The guide explains who they are and why they are able to sell their oils for amazing prices and how they give back to the community. They claim that all of their oils are therapeutic grade as well. An included insert contained 101 Ways To Use Essential Oils.

I am completely happy with my holiday essential oil purchase! If you're looking for all natural scents for Christmas, see the links above and order yours today!

Linked to Works for Me Wednesday

Thank you for using my affiliate links!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Classic Gingerbread Cookie Cut Outs {Recipe}

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My hubby likes gingerbread men. No frosting. Just classically plain and simple. And they really do have a holidayish feel to them, don't they? I've used a couple of different recipes, but this one is my favorite. The recipe is very easy to make. The dough rolls out well, and cutting out shapes is a snap. Major Christmas baking plus right there! (I can't say these things about my Prize Sugar Cookies, though.)
Tiny gingerbread men make perfectly festive cupcake toppers, too! We took these yummy creations to our homeschool Christmas party. They were totally adorable until my oldest son said it looked like the gingerbread men had been shot with their guts spilling out all over the place. Boys.
My daughter crushed red hots for sprinkling the tops of the cupcakes. Gave the vanilla cake and buttercream frosting a little cinnamon zip!
We've also used these little gingerbread men to adorn gingerbread houses, but we didn't make any this year. Of course, it's always fun to give them frosting faces and cookie decoration buttons. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rolled Wrapping Paper Christmas Tree Art

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The other night after wrapping a few "fake" presents to put under the tree for decoration, I surveyed the mess that I had made and decided to get crafty before stowing it back under my bed. An image that I had seen on Pinterest came to mind. I hadn't clicked on it or anything, just remembered seeing it in my feed. I did a quick search on Pinterest, and this is what I found. (In case you wanted to check it out for yourself - lots of cute ideas!)

I still didn't actually click on any of the images because I didn't want to take the time to read instructions, so here's what I used:

  • Canvas that I already had handy
  • Several different styles of wrapping paper
  • Clear tape
  • Elmer's glue and mod podge
  • Bow (for the star)
  • Crumpled brown packing paper that came from a package (for trunk)
  • Piece of  wide burlap ribbon (for trunk)
My goal here was to be as quick as possible, so I didn't measure anything. I just started cutting - here's what I did:

  • I cut different sized pieces of wrapping paper, rolled them up, and put small pieces of tape on the seams.
  • I arranged the wrapping paper tubes on my canvas, starting with the biggest on the bottom. I trimmed any edges as necessary.
  • Once I was happy with my arrangement, I glued the wrapping paper tubes to the canvas, applying the glue to the seam sides. Leave room for a star or a bow!
  • Glue a bow or a star to the top of the tree.
  • I used burlap for my tree trunk with brown paper behind it so the white canvas didn't show through. I used mod podge to glue the burlap to the brown paper.
I am happy with the way it turned out. Not bad for a 1 hour project. :)

And I love how it goes perfectly with my entry way Christmas tree!

Linked to WFMW, Mommy Monday Blog Hop 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Guest Post: Changing Skin, Changing Lives

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Today I am excited to introduce you to Mimi who is guest posting about a product that I've heard people raving about. I've never used these particular Rodan + Fields skin products, but I have used Rodan + Fields Proactiv for about 8 years now. It's the ONLY thing that I've found that helps me have clear skin!

If you've been looking for a skin care regimen that can help your skin look and feel its best, check out what Mimi has to say. Be sure to check out her website and a deal going on right now listed below. :)

Changing Skin, Changing Lives
Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder who is looking back at you?   Me too!   My skin used to be riddled with sun damage and melasma (pregnancy mask).  My cute freckles had turned into ugly splotches and they were everywhere – on my face, neck, chest and arms.  I tried several products to fade the spots with no success.  Instead, I covered my uneven skin tone and spots with lots of foundation and never left the house without make-up.
Earlier this year, one of my girlfriends introduced me to Rodan + Fields skincare products.  The same doctors who created Proactiv formulated products to deal with a multitude of skin concerns…and one of them was sun-damage.  I’ve been using the REVERSE Regimen and Skin Lightening Accelerator Pack since September and I feel like a new person!   My skin glows again and I am comfortable leaving the house without gobs of make-up!
  • If you have sensitive skin, Rodan + Fields can help you.
  • If you have adult acne, Rodan +Fields can help you.
  • If you have sun damage, dark spots or melasma, Rodan + Fields can help you.
  • If you have enlarged pores, wrinkles and loss of firmness, Rodan + Fields can help you.

Check out these Before & After Photos

Take a look at how amazing this woman looks after using our REDEFINE Regimen with one of our skincare tools, the AMP MD Roller, for wrinkles and loss of firmness. 

This young lady erased all kinds of sun damage by using our REVERSE Regimen.  She looks incredible!

This beautiful young lady calmed her irritated skin with our SOOTHE Regimen. 

Just look at the difference our UNBLEMISH Regimen made in this before and after photo!

Changing the way your skin looks can change the way you feel about yourself!  That’s why our company tagline is, “Changing Skin, Changing Lives”.    If you want to feel better in your own skin, e-mail me at 

To purchase any of these products, visit:

Not sure what regimen would work for you?  Use our Skincare Solution Tool:

For a limited time, we are offering a holiday bundle!  Buy a Regimen (except Unblemish) with one of our skincare tools and receive a FREE Eye Cream!  That’s a $60 value for FREE!!

To learn more about these amazing skincare products or the opportunity to work for yourself selling these products, message me!

Friday, December 05, 2014

America's Best Main Street

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No trip back to Tennessee would be complete without visiting the Collierville Town Square which was recently voted as "America's Best Main Street." This place holds countless memories for me and my family.

I remember my family shopping in some of the antique stores here when I was a kid. I didn't enjoy the shopping so much then, but I liked going into the store with all the cats. When I got a little older, I'd walk to the Square with my friends and buy candy in the store that had an original soda fountain. I loved attending the annual Fair on the Square in May (I think) and watching the Christmas parade in December. We even attended the beautiful white church on the corner for a while. I think it serves mostly as a little museum and restaurant now.

I know it's not the building that matters, but oh how I sometimes wish I went to a building that looked like this every Sunday!

My boys have special Collierville Town Square Memories, too. Mullin LOVED trains, so we'd come here and look at the trains. We even celebrated his 3rd birthday on one of the train cars. Of course the theme was Thomas the Train! Grandpa (my dad) would take the boys to story time on the train and they'd eat at Café Grill quite a bit. They had amazing fried dill pickles!

Shops filled with Christmas glitz and glam were a feast for the eyes! I think I'd like to have a tree in my bedroom like the one pictured below. :) Every time I see a nutcracker I think of Lincoln since he likes them so much. Loved the bright colors on this one and the had that could open - never seen one like that before. Didn't buy it, though. Actually, we were good and didn't buy anything! Tempting for sure.

This place is definitely a quaint spot full of character and simple beauty. Glad we went, and glad Shiloh now knows what we are talking about when we talk about the Collierville Town Square.

A Collierville trip isn't complete without driving by my old house that I grew up in. I was probably in fifth or sixth grade when we moved into this house, and I left when I married Mark. :)

Goodbye Collierville. Until our next visit . . .

Thursday, December 04, 2014

TBT: Shiloh's 1st Christmas

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Awww. Seems like forever ago we celebrated our first Christmas with our last baby. Shiloh's 9 now. (Sob) Thank goodness she's still into a few little girl things like stuffed animals!

2005 would be her first and last tender Tennessee Christmas . . . (The rest of her Christmases have been in the desert so far.)

That Christmas was extra fun with 2 babies! Shiloh's cousin was just a few months younger, and thanks to Paw, they were all decked out in Mr. and Mrs. Claus attire! :)

The cuteness is killing me. Love this girl!!!! What sweet memories - well, except for ALL the crying she did that day and every day. Oh, the joys of motherhood with cranky babies. ;)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Anderson and Cooper

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While we were in Tennessee last week, my baby girl had the BEST time cuddling and playing with Paw and Cici's super sweet golden doodles. She looks right cozy in her element. ;)

It was so neat getting to know the dogs' different personalities. Anderson and Cooper are brothers, and Cooper is the white one who loves his toys and can jump pretty high! Anderson is a bit fluffier and is a little more laid back. Both are adorable. They even won me over, and I don't consider myself an animal lover by any means. I've never really liked poodles, either, but these dogs were pretty amazing. The best behaved dogs I've ever been around!

What a treat to play in big, fat leaves with cute, big dogs!

We miss you Anderson and Cooper!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Spot It! My New Favorite Game

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On my family's recent trip to Tennessee, my kids pulled a classic out of their grandparents' game closet to help pass the time while we waited for our lost luggage to arrive: Scrabble Crossword Game.

I think Scrabble is an okay game, but I am not super great at it. I prefer games that are fast-paced. When my daughter brought out Spot Itfrom the closet and asked me to play, I was like, "Alright, I guess."

Oh my! Y'all (Sorry, I just spent an entire week hearing this word again!), I gots me a new favorite game! ;) It's fast, fun, and I get to win a lot. Yippee!

Here's the gist of it: Each player receives one card with little pictures all over it. From the main deck of cards that is positioned face down, a player draws the top card and flips it over. The first player to call out a matching image on his own card gets to keep the card. This continues until all the cards are gone. Player with the most cards wins. I wish I'd taken pictures of the actual game, but I was too busy winning playing.

There are a few variations to the game, but this is how our family played most of the time. Loads of fun for the whole family! It would make a great under $10 stocking stuffer for your kids or gift for any other person on your list this Christmas. :) (Sorry in advance to all of my relatives.)

As I was researching this game, I saw that there were all kinds of Spot It! games. I'd never even heard of it before. Cool. I want the Holidays one!

Happy Shopping! (I went way over my exclamation point quota in this post, but I truly loved this game.)

Thank you for using my Amazon affiliate links! It doesn't cost you a thing, but it helps put a few cents in my Amazon account. :)

Linked to WFMW

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Our First Stop After 8 Years

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I can't believe it had been 8 years since I'd been back to the place I spent about 21 years of my life ~ Memphis, Tennessee (well, mostly Collierville). For Thanksgiving week this year, our entire family was able to go back for a visit. Since she has no memories of her birth place, I am so glad my daughter could finally see where she spent the first year of her life. :)

After getting up at 3 a.m., sitting on 2 flights, one delayed and almost cancelled due to inclement Chicago weather, a progressing diverticulitis attack for this poor mama, and Southwest losing ALL 6 of our checked bags, we headed on over to Paw Paw and Grandma's house to decorate their Christmas tree. This used to be an annual event - it's what Mark and I did right after getting engaged at Howard's Donuts (coming in another post).

At Paw Paw and Grandma's house - our first stop.

Two tired faces. Good to be off the plane and welcomed by our TN family. Sad that I couldn't eat the traditional-decorate-the-tree Cheeseburger soup due to PAIN, but thankfully I began to feel better as the night progressed.

This was Shiloh's first time hanging up her initial ornament made by her great grandma. Grandma has made one for everyone in the family. :) Lincoln loved wearing his step-uncle's ear flap beanie.

After the decorating was done, we still had to stop at the Wal-Mart to pick up a few first world essentials since we had NOTHING! Well, except I did throw in my face wash and makeup bag in our little carry-on. :) The rest of our carry-on stuff amounted to books, stuffed animals, crackers, and a Kindle.

Anyway, we all needed toothbrushes, and I needed ear plugs, pajamas, and face moisturizer. It got us through until the next evening when our luggage finally arrived. Just in time to go out to dinner with these 2:

My high school BFF (the blond) and her sister who is also my friend. :) Loved seeing them, and so glad we still keep in touch!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

2014 Ornament Reveal

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Mullin got a dragon, Lincoln got a Rubik's Cube, and Shiloh got Rapunzel. Hard to tell in the photo, but Rapunzel's hair glows!

Mark surprised me with a new ornament and some World Market goodies!

Then, on to decorating . . . The kids decorate while we listen to Christmas music, and we always end with Christmas Hot Cocoa!

All these pictures were taken with my old Windows phone. :( The camera part of the phone was really beginning to take awful pics. Thanks to my sweet hubby, I now have my first iPhone, and it takes great pictures!

We love our Memory Tree!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Last Submission ~ Bitter Sweet

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I mentioned in my last post that I'd taken a much needed bloggy break. Why? Because 10 days ago, I posted my last Schoolhouse Crew review. And I just needed a break from writing!

After 5 years of reviewing around 150 products for The Old Schoolhouse, I've decided to call it quits. It's crazy to think that my youngest was only in preschool when I began writing for TOS. It was such a huge blessing to receive so many homeschool products, especially during the time of my husband's job loss.

Anyway, our lives have changed, and as my kids have gotten older, it's been a little more difficult for me to add extra work into their schedules. Not really for my daughter who is only in fourth grade, but for my boys who are in 7th and 10th grades. Plus, after my hubby changed jobs and became a full-time assistant pastor this past September, I sensed that maybe God was going to have me step down from being a full-time reviewer in order to devote all that time to something else. At first I was upset about it, but I now realize it will be for the best.

My family has been truly blessed with such a variety of courses, curricula, books, games, etc.. The experience has been well worth it, even though there were a few products that my kids didn't like. I think I'll have to do a Top 20 post or something like that soon. :) I'm so glad to have been a part of The Old Schoolhouse!

Looking forward to the next phase of life, whatever that may be. Right now, especially during the month of December, I want to immerse myself in the Word and draw near to God, devoting much time to prayer. I pray the Lord will reveal what He has for me in 2015. If not a big picture, then I trust He will be that lamp unto my feet guiding my every step even if I can't see beyond what's right in front of me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday ~ Christmas Card Photo Fails

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I've taken a bit of a bloggy break. I will explain why in my next post, but I wanted to break my bloggy fast with something lighthearted and funny ~ CHRISTMAS CARD PHOTO FAILS.

As I've been going through all of our closets this week searching for clothes for my family to wear for our Christmas photo shoot this year, I couldn't help reminiscing about past Christmas card photos and what a chore it used to be to get all 3 kids to cooperate!!

We've always tried to send out Christmas cards (I love doing it!), but we skipped some years when the budget was way too tight. Lots of years we just snapped our own photo using the nifty timer button. Daddy would always have to rush to squeeze into the photo. Some years I actually took the kids to the ever-so-fancy JC Penney. One year, a few years ago, we hired a friend to take my longed-for-train-track family photo. Pictures turned out beautifully, however, the Christmas cards we ordered turned out too dark. Consequently, I didn't send out the cards that year. :( Thankfully, the online photo printing company refunded our money! No years have I been able to go out and buy new outfits for everybody. Do people really do that???

Anyway, for your enjoyment, here are a few pictures that didn't make the Christmas card photo cut . . .

Our 2008 Christmas photo shoot - yes, this is one we pulled off ourselves in case it wasn't obvious. ;)

Not quite working. Shiloh's really having a hard time.

Maybe a change of scenery will help? Okay, no. Mom is most likely getting a tad frustrated by now.

Oh, wonderful. Someone just bonked mom in the head. Thanks to the timer on the camera, it's a forever memory now. This one just makes me laugh!

This is the one we ended up going with. It was the best out of all the ones we took. And I didn't even post them all.

This was our 2007 photo shoot - again, we attempted to do it entirely on our own. I figured it was better than nothing. Lincoln's peek-a-boo shirt, Mullin's squint, and Shiloh's eye scratching weren't exactly the looks we had in mind.

Oh good. Lincoln's shirt is fixed, but now his face isn't quite right. And Shiloh moved her hand from her eyes to her nose. Oh brother.

I know all you mommas can relate to the stress joy of Christmas card photo shoots, right?

After much toil and tribulation, we had to settle on this one. That was the best we were getting from a 2-year-old. *sigh*

Well, this year I can't wait for our photo shoot! It's going to be so fun!!!!!!!!!!! :)


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