Holiday Crafting 2011- Naughty and Nice Themed Gifts

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This year, I thought it would be appropriate to
ask my gift recievers to contemplate whether they have been naughty or nice this year.  With no indication of what was in the box, random selection was going to tell them if they've been good or bad.  
Here's how I set it up.  I chose six packages to be "naughty" and six to be "nice."  On the nice items, were nice names such as "Oh Soup Divine" and "Winter Wonderland Bath Icicles" and "Jingle your Bells" coffee.  The naughty names (which were mostly thought up by my husband) were names such as "Cream of Elf Soup" and my personal favorite, "Stocking Stuffer Stomach Pumper Coffee."
After having named all of the items, I put them all into random boxes, along with my crocheted washclothes, potholders and loofahs, stamped the box with either "Naughty" or "Nice" and then wrapped them all in plain brown Kraft Paper and tied a simple ribbon around them.  I then attached my "Have you Been Naughty or Nice?" stamped tags that Lily and I made, and voila!


Needless to say, even if someone was deemed "Naughty", they still thought I was very nice!  It was a lot of fun making them, and is an excellent project for children.  I recommend only doing one item at a time, having all the stuff ready before hand, and your child could definitely help you on this too!  I know Lily really enjoyed helping everyone make their gifts!

My Total House Makeover (on a budget!)

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My house has just got me down right now.  I figure, what better time to revamp than with the coming of the new year!  I've been cleaning and trying to pare down some belongings, and as part of my blog, I'm going to cover some of the projects that I'm working on, things I have planned, things I re-purpose and all sorts of other goodies for your home that will surely involve a bunch of crafty stuff!

Here's a sneak peek at a few of the ideas that I am taking inspiration from:


Mossy Water Washcloth {Crochet Pattern}

In yet another one of my holiday crafting mad moments, I created ANOTHER pattern!  I just can't seem to stop, and I LOVE it!  Today's pattern is a very simple washcloth, made using the Moss Stitch that I have loved so much during this holiday crafting season.  I really enjoy using nice ombres and cotton yarn to make this super nice, scrubby washcloths.

Copyright 2010-2012 LiLu Studios: This Crafting Life, by Lori Steffens. {} Make it, Wear it, Love it, but above all, Share it, don't Sell it!

Size H Hook
A ball of yarn: I use cotton, because it washes and dries very well as well as it acts more like a towel than with most yarns.
Ch 30
R1: sc in 2nd ch from hook, *sk1, ch1, sc* to end, turn.
R2: ch 2, sc in the first ch1 space, *sk sc, ch1,  sc in ch1 space* to end, turn.
R3-?:  Repeat R2 until your piece is square.
Pattern Notes:
Easy ways to change this pattern:
Add a border!  A border is a great way to finish off a project and can be as simple as an sc row all the way around, or as complex as stacked shells.

To Buy: Product Review, Play Hut Megaland Tunnel Toy

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Today I want to talk about the awesome new toy that Santa brought to our house this Christmas.  It is called Playhut MegaLand, and it is fantastic!  I ordered mine through Amazon, on one of their Black Friday Lightning Deals.

First Impression from the Website:  When I saw this lightning deal open up, I was curious but unsure.  We already have a pop up tent that I HATE because it has all these silly metal pieces that you have to snap together in order to form the frame for the tent.  I was very worried that this would be like that.  The deal though, was fantastic.  I got mine for just $19.99, thought it normally retails (and is currently back at this price) for $59.99.  I mainly bought it because it was such a great deal and it had decent reviews.  Plus, it claimed to be easy to take down and put up.

First impression from the Box:  This box is HUGE!  I almost freaked out a little thinking I bit off way more than I could chew.  I resolved that I wouldn't take it back and that we would chance it and see how things went.

Upon opening:  When you open the box, you'll find the reason for the size is more because of the balls that are included than with the toy itself.  There are five main pieces that make up the tunnel toy and when you start to open them up, they practically pop open themselves.  All that is required for you to put it together is to pull the sides and they pop into their shape.  There are three large sections and two tunnels that you can connect the sections with, and the tunnels can be connected to almost all of the openings on the different "main" sections.  This allows you to make almost any configuration of pieces that you could want and the pieces connect with velcro so that they stay attached.  Each of the main pieces is a little different.  The largest one has an open top, several openings and one mesh "window" that the kids can look out, and a basketball hoop for play.  The second section is pretty much just a cube with some openings, and the last section is triangular and has a wall with four holes that you can use to toss balls in, as well as two other openings. 

Upon playing:  Both of my children LOVE this toy.  My 4.5 year old uses it as a hide out, plays with her animals and loves crawling around and pretending that it is a castle.  My 15 month old likes playing with the balls and poking her head out the various holes.  We recently had a play date and the two big girls loved throwing all of their toys in the ball pit (I was too tired to bring out all of the balls)  They found their own creative use for the holes in the side:

Overall, this toy earns 5 out of 5 hearts from me, and I highly recommend it to anyone!

Book Review: The Hunger Games

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I had recently heard many people discussing Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" Trilogy, and I have to admit, when I first heard the plot, I wasn't very interested.  It wasn't until I went and saw Breaking Dawn (yes, I'm a Twilight junkie as well) and I saw the movie preview for "The Hunger Games" that I was really interested in reading it.  I found that I was very surprised with the series and couldn't put the books down!

These books are geared toward ages 12+ and grades 7 and above.  It is categorized in multiple genres, including Science Fiction, Dystopic Literature and Adventure.  The books center around Katniss Everdeen, who takes the place of her sister to be in her districts Hunger Games, of which there can only be one survivor. 

The book deals with some heavy themes, with the overall theme being the struggle for self preservation throughout the districts and often the decisions made by the main characters often are walking the line between right and wrong.   An overwhelming sense of Big Brother-esque control runs throughout the books as the characters are forced to take part in the Hunger Games, perform cheap labor and entertainment and as they are forced into compliance you can feel their pain and will root for them to overcome the capitol.

The books have won several awards, including Publishers Weekly's "Best Books of the Year" in 2008 and a The New York Times "Notable Children's Book of 2008".  It was the 2009 winner of the Golden Duck Award in the Young Adult Fiction Category. The Hunger Games was also a "2008 Cybil Winner" for fantasy and science-fiction books along with The Graveyard Book. It also one of School Library Journal's "Best Books 2008" and a "Booklist Editors' Choice" in 2008. In 2011, the book won the California Young Reader Medal.

All in all, the story is compelling, and the books are guaranteed to suck you in, no matter what age you are.  These books earns 5 out of 5 Hearts from me!