Thursday, October 30, 2014

Huckleberry Christmas Book Review - Another Fun Read!

Ok guys this is my favorite book written by Jennifer Beckstrand. Huckleberry Christmas is the third book in the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill and I couldn't put it down. I love the characters and the story!



Spoiler alert: if you haven't read Huckleberry Summer, don't read this!

If you did read Huckleberry Summer you'll remember Tyler Yoder and how the book was ended with him being a single man. Now he becomes the one to be matched. 

Honestly I didn't love Tyler Yoder in Huckleberry Summer, but I think it's because we didn't really get to know him. But in Huckleberry Christmas we get to know him and his character is quality. Not believing in falling in love (he regrets his past experience with Lily), he does believe in companionship and having a help meet to raise his children and take care of the home. So he wants to get married, but doesn't feel like he needs to be head over heels for his wife.

And then we meet Beth, a widow with a small child who did not have a good marriage experience. She becomes an independent and strong willed woman as she has to survive on her own. She doesn't want to get married again because of her experience and can't seem to rid herself of her late husband's family who is overbearing and unkind. 

I love how the characters develop in this book. There are so many times where you wonder how this is going to work out. But as in a true love story you know it just has to!

It's sweet, clean, romantic, dramatic, and just a fun story. I think you'll really like this one!  Come see how a good man with a kind heart who doesn't want to get lost in love ends up with a woman who doesn't want to repeat the past of her difficult marriage and wants to just take care of her son and herself without the help of others. You're in for a treat!

With the weather quickly cooling down, you'll want a good book to cuddle up with near the fire and I strongly suggest this one!

You can find Hucklyberry Christmas on Amazon for only $7.19!


Monday, October 27, 2014

8 Great Fall Games for Kids

Author: Alyssa Craig

Fall is a great time of year! Between the beautiful weather, the beginning of the holiday season and the delicious treats, there is so much fun to be had. There are so many activities available that can incorporate some of the signature items of the season! As you are looking for fun activities to enjoy this time of year, make sure to include some of these great games for kids.

*Use your own best judgement to decide if the activity is suitable for the age group suggested.



Pass the Pumpkin

Indoor or Outdoor: Either
Age Group: 7+

Instructions: This game is similar to musical chairs. Rather than walking around a set of chairs, have the participants stand in a circle and pass around a small pumpkin while playing music. When the music stops, whoever is holding the pumpkin is out! Continue playing until there is one player left.


Gourd Bowling

Indoor or Outdoor: Either
Age Group: 7+

Instructions: Line up empty plastic soda or water bottles as the pins and use different sizes of gourds as bowling balls. The more bumpy and misshapen the gourd, the more challenging it will be to roll the gourd where you want it to go!



Foot Volleyball

Indoor or Outdoor: Indoor
Age Group: 12+

Instructions: Choose a room that is open, with plenty of floor space. Players will be put on two teams and lined up on either side of string that serves at the “net”. They must remain in the “crab crawl” position (on all fours with stomach side up) throughout the game and use only their feet to hit a balloon back and forth over the net. The same rules as volleyball apply - if the balloon hits the ground, the point goes to the other team.


The Squirrel Game

Indoor or Outdoor: Outdoor
Age Group: 5-10

Instructions: Rake up a pile of leaves and hide some large nuts on the bottom of the pile. On your count, let the kids jump into the pile and search for the nuts, like a squirrel saving up for the winter. The object of the game is to be the “squirrel” who acquires the most nuts in a set amount of time. Be wary of letting older children play at the same time as younger ones, in case it gets too competitive.



Cornhole

Indoor or Outdoor: Outdoor
Age Group: 7+

Instructions: Line up at least 15 feet away from the cornhole board and take turns tossing bean bags. One point per bean bag that makes it in the hole.


Pin the Wart on the Witch

Indoor or Outdoor: Indoor
Age Group: 6+

Instructions: Have fun with the Halloween season by making a big witch face out of paper. Cut out circles to be the warts and then play in the same way you would “pin the tail on the donkey” - blindfolded! For the older kids, spin them around a few times before letting them attempt to place the wart on the witch’s face.


Hopscotch

Indoor or Outdoor: Outdoor
Age Group: 7+

Instructions: Use chalk to draw a hopscotch board on the driveway and use a rock or a pine cone from the yard to mark the block that will not be in use that round. Players then hop through the course, putting only one foot in each block, skipping the block with the rock/pine cone. Since this game is played on hard concrete, help your child to wear good footwear and to be aware of what they are doing, so they don’t fall and scrape their knees. Don’t forget to check out these other great games to try on concrete surfaces too!



Touch Football

Indoor or Outdoor: Outdoor
Age Group: 10+

Instructions: Go to a park or a backyard with plenty of space to run. Split up into two teams and play a fun game of touch football - no tackling allowed! Be mindful of the ages of the kids playing and make sure they are compatible with each other.

As your kids look for fun fall activities this season, encourage them to get creative and add their own unique flare to each game, especially the more familiar ones. They can enjoy the outdoors while the weather holds up and if there’s a rainy fall day, there is plenty to do indoors. Fall is truly a magical time. Don’t let it go to waste!


Friday, October 24, 2014

7 Secrets to Managing Dry Weather Hair



*This is a sponsored post.  I was given HairGia products to try, but they were so great that I wanted to share them with you!  There are no affiliate links so feel free to click away!


Do you find that the dry winter weather really messes with your hair?  Living in the desert of Utah makes it difficult to have soft, hydrated hair.  Pretty much any time I go out, my hair gets full of static!  I have lots of little pieces lifting up and sticking to my face.  It's super frustrating.

So I asked my friend Karilyn, a professional hair and make-up artist who can be found at
Karilyn Styles (she did my hair for my wedding and it was perfect!  If you're in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino or San Diego Counties definitely look her up!) what we should do to help our hair during these dry winter months.  She had some great tips that I would love to share!




Tips from Karilyn

1. Trim Those Split Ends!
If you don't, they'll continue to split up the individual hair shaft and cause more damage higher up which means more hair will need to be cut off.

2. Use a Deep Conditioner
One of my (Alexis') favorite deep conditioners is the Keratin Hydrating Masque by HairGia.  I've been using this masque for a few weeks now and it does wonders for my hair!  I can really tell how good hair products are working when I straighten my hair and I didn't have any static or fly-aways.  And usually when I straighten my air, I'm about ready to put it up in a pony tail in less than an hour because it's starting to bug me.  But with the Keratin Hydrating Masque, I was able to keep my hair down all day!  It felt hydrated, smooth, and silky instead of dry and in the way like it usually does.

HairGia provides natural and earth friendly products and UV protection to your hair.  They also have shampoos, hair loss/hair growth products, hair styling products, and hair finishing products.  I also got to try their Hydrating Mist Conditioner.  I use this when I don't wash my hair.  I just give my hair a little spritz and it keeps my hair hydrated and the static away.  I've been learning that when it comes to your hair, it's worth getting high quality products because they really get the job done and make your hair feel great!

Here's my hair after blow drying...a mess.



Here's my hair using the HairGia shampoo and Keratin Hydrating Masque.  I let it air dry with some curl boosting products and it came out like this.  I finally feel like I can let my hair air dry and it looks good!


And here's my hair after straightening.  It was smooth, soft, and no fly aways!

3. Protect You Hair When Blow Drying
If you're going to apply any heat to your hair, like a blow dryer, straightener, or curling iron, make sure to protect your hair with a thermal protector.  Karilyn strongly suggests using Kenra Thermal Styling Spray.  It's her go to!  And you can apply it to wet or dry hair!

4. Finishing Sprays
When you're finished styling your hair, give it a little spray to help keep your hair smooth and prevent the ends from frizzing.  HairGia has a product called Polish Drops that eliminates frizz, smooths split ends, and doesn't weigh hair down.  

5. DO NOT Wash Every Day!
Try not to wash your hair every day.  If you are the type of person who feels like they need to wash their hair every day, try using a dry shampoo to help you prolong washing.  Your hair needs those natural oils to keep it healthy.

6. Grow Out Damaged Hair
If your hair is over processed or you have split ends, products are not going to reverse the damage.  But they can help your hair look better and be more manageable until you are able to grow it out and just cut the damaged part off.  Coloring and bleaching your hair will not destroy your hair unless you hairdresser lets it sit too long or you're switching your hair color often.  Don't be afraid to ask your hair dresser if you have any questions or concerns about the process!

I'm actually in the process of growing out my hair.  I've done highlights for years!  But my hair got darker and darker with each baby I had, so I decided to go back to my natural color.  I just colored it with a semi-permanent dye that closely matched my roots and I haven't colored it since!  I get it cut every few months and pretty soon it will just be my natural hair.  It's going to take a while, but I'm excited! 

7. Your Hairspray Matters
The type of hairspray you use actually matters.  The cheap kind can dry out your hair.  Use a good finishing spray like the one mentioned in #4.


I hope those tips help you out this winter!  Or if you just have dry hair!




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Easy Elsa Dress Tutorial



It was pretty obvious that my 3 year old was going to ask to be Elsa for Halloween.  I was going to buy her a dress, but they were a little pricey and the material looked itchy.  And if your 3 year old is like mine, she HATES itchy things.  I didn't want her to not wear it.

So I decided to make my own.

I thought it would be smart to use a t-shirt so I didn't have to sew sleeves - I'm an amateur seamstress.  Turns out I wasn't the only smart one.  I began to look on Pinterest for other Elsa dress ideas.  I actually came across a blog post from What's Up Fagans? with a collection of Elsa dress tutorials.  I scanned through them a pulled what I liked and made up my own.

So here's an Easy Elsa Dress Tutorial.  
Like I said, I'm an amateur so I needed it to be easy.  :-)




What you need:

white t-shirt
shiny blue fabric (dress)
transparent sparkly fabric (cape)
1/4 inch elastic band
blue jewels
fabric glue

I just bought a white t-shirt from a thrift store.  It had some graphics at the bottom, but I was going to cover those with the dress.  I also bleached it to get the little stains out.


Cut out the material in the lengths you need.
1. Dress - I measured my daughter around the chest and back and she is 22 inches.  Double that.  Then measure from the underarms to the floor.  My daughter measured 29 inches.  Then I added 2 extra inches for sewing.
So the dress material was 44 inches x 31 inches.
Hem one of the long sides of the dress (Iron 1/2 inch over then sew).  Then sew the side seam by sewing right sides together of the shorter sides.

2. Cape - You have your daughter's measurement from underarm to floor and the chest measurement.  So the cape was 22 x 31 inches.
Hem all 4 sides of the cape.  The material I chose frayed at the ends really bad so I double hemmed it by folding it over 1/2 inch and then 1/2 inch again and sewed.

Now attach the cape to the dress by sewing right sides together.  Make sure the side hem of the dress is where you want it before you sew. 


Turn the dress inside out. Then fold the entire dress over 1 inch (including the side with the cape).  Leave an inch where you don't sew so you can feed the elastic through.


Put a safety pin on each end of the elastic so you don't lose it.  Feed the elastic through the hem at the top of the dress and pull so the bunches are even around the dress.
Remove the safety pins and sew the elastic together.  Sew up the 1 inch hole you left for the elastic.


Now place the dress around the t-shirt and pin.  You will have had to flip the cape over the top of the dress so it's on the right side of the dress now.  Make sure the dress is even around the t-shirt.
Using a zigzag stitch, sew the dress to the t-shirt where the 1 inch hem is so you don't sew on the elastic.  Be careful not to let the shirt get folded where you are sewing! (I know from experience, it isn't pretty).
Then glue on your blue jewels using fabric glue and allow it to dry over night.  Make sure to put cardboard between the shirt layers so the glue doesn't go through and glue the shirt together.


And there you have it!  A super cute and super easy Elsa dress!  My daughter loves it and wears it almost every day.  Here's some pictures from our little photo shoot.









If you like this tutorial, you might also like:






Friday, October 17, 2014

5 Unique Halloween Party Themes

Author: Amber Brubaker

Many adults have the mindset that Halloween is just for kids. However, Halloween becomes a holiday for all ages if it involves a great party.


Halloween parties are often very unoriginal, with the same old snacks, orange and black decorations, drinks, and music you see at every other Halloween bash. This year, spice up your Halloween party by coming up with a theme. A theme brings any party together, since the costumes, decor, food, and games will all match. Consider using one of the five themes below:

1. The Wild West

You can go several haunting or playful directions with this party theme. If you like spooky, turn your venue into a ghost town. If possible, rent out an old barn and fill it with spider webs, broken down carriages, and a skeleton in a stockade.


For kids, fashion your party around the cowboys and Indians era. Make a “wanted” poster with the middle cut out so that guests can stand behind it and have their photo taken.

And of course everyone will need cowboy hats like these and boots, which will keep the theme unified and make for some great memories!

2. Crime Lab

For a mysterious theme, turn your home into a crime scene. Invite guests to put their investigative caps on for this party and dress up as cadavers, coroners, lab technicians, or even test tubes.

Create a made-up murder scenario and invite guests to help solve the case using various forensic clues. Create four or five profiles of possible suspects as well as a background of the victim and include the information in the invitation along with a picture of the “dead body” and a forensic clue (different for each invitation), such as a fingerprint, a strand of hair, or a drop of blood (fake of course).

Then, leave clues throughout the party (perhaps a scrap of cloth snagged on the staircase or a fake suicide note on the coffee table) that will eventually lead your guests to the killer. Your guests can “interrogate” others to learn which clues they had in their invitation. All the while, serve them blood-red drinks and lady fingers. Offer a prize for the first person to both guess the culprit and produce enough evidence to convict him or her.

3. Hollywood

Only the rich and famous are invited to this party—though no one needs to actually be rich or famous; they just have to look like someone who is! Everyone gets a chance to be the star they’ve always dreamed of at this family-friendly party. Invite Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, and Elvis to sip some sparkling cider at the drink table, and have every star stop on the red carpet for a photo-opp.


For games, consider pinning a celebrity’s name to the back of each guest’s costume. Each guest will then guess which star they have on their back by asking other guests yes or no questions regarding his/her assigned celebrity. Or tape pictures of celebrities to the wall and invite guests to match up the correct star with his/her romantic partner.

4. Carnival

If you love a party with plenty of games, this one is the theme for you. With lots of helpers, you can have a cake walk, darts, bean bag toss, and bobbing for apples, all with great prizes! Your treat table can be filled with cotton candy, popcorn, corn dogs, fried oreos, funnel cakes, and all the delicious snacks you find only at carnivals.

For a haunted approach, fill your venue with distorted mirrors and have a spook alley with skeletons, a graveyard, and a ghost or two. 

5. Monster Bash

Only monsters may step foot in this party, and your definition of a monster is entirely up to you. Your guests can throw a monster spin on traditional costumes by having cheerleaders and football players grow fangs and fur. Or they can dress up as traditional Halloween monsters like vampires, werewolves, and giant spiders.


For kids, don’t make it a scary party. Have them dress up as friendly monsters such as the ones on Sesame Street or Monsters Inc. Your kids will love seeing their favorite friendly monsters everywhere they look, and be delighted to sample the furry, fanged cupcakes you made.

Now that you have a few ideas, go out there and pull off the best Halloween party yet! Use these ideas, or come up with your own, but remember that a great theme is the secret recipe for a great Halloween party.






The Miracles of Jesus Book Review

I was really excited to read the book The Miracles of Jesus by Eric D. Huntsman.  We talk of Christ often, but I really wanted to dive into the miracles that he performed while living on the earth. 


It seems that Huntsman's goal is to help you see more than just the individual miracles, but to also see how they all connect to Christ as the person He is and all the things that He did from the beginning of time.  For example, Hunstman talks about the miracle of changing water to wine and calming the winds and seas all as being able to manipulate the elements of the earth.  Being the creator of the earth, He had already manipulated the elements, changed, and created.  As a man on the earth, He continued to do this which refers back to His role as creator.  I love how Hunstman helps us see how things are connected and that the miracles help demonstrate the roles that Christ has.

Hunstman also dives into the meaning of the words used in the Bible from their original Greek which is a little too deep for me.  I think some root words and meanings are interesting, but he really goes into it and often.  Which is great if you love words!  

I do really like that there are sidebars with addition information to give you more insight on symbolism, word meaning, and even culture. This book is also full of great pictures, paintings, and diagrams to go with each miracle to better illustrate what is happening and the emotions that we can feel with each miracle.

I've been using this book as a part of my scripture study.  There are tons of scripture references to take you to where the miracle takes place in the Bible.  It also helps you get to know the Savior better and understand some of the reasons He did what He did on the earth.

I think this is a great book to help you learn more about Christ and understand His earthly life even better.  You can find this book at Deseret Book.





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Cutest Christmas Cards!



I know it's still October and we haven't even had Halloween yet, but you know most of you are already thinking about Christmas right?  There are so many fun things to do during the Christmas holidays that we have to prepare a little in advance - like deciding what gifts to buy for family and friends and...

CHRISTMAS CARDS!

You have to design them, order them, decide who you're going to send them to, and then get them in the mail and hopefully everyone gets it a little before Christmas.  I love hanging all the Christmas cards we receive in my home, so the earlier people send them, the longer they're featured!  :-)

I recently came across Minted.com and they have the cutest Christmas cards.  Seriously.  Designs I haven't seen anywhere else.  They have classic and modern, Christmas and general holiday greetings.  One of my favorite things is that you can change their designs!  They have different color options and you can move the text so that it fits your picture.  So you can make the card yours and something that you love rather than just having to choose what they give you.

Here are some of my favorite cards.


I love these conversation bubbles where you can tell something fun about the year or something each person is enjoying right now.


 They have some cards that are foil-pressed!  So they're nice and shiny!  So cute!


Isn't this adorable?!  I thought it was super clever.  :-)


I just love how modern this is.  I think the text directly on the picture is really fun.


There are so many cards to choose from that it's hard to go through every one and see which you like best.  So they have this awesome feature called Find It Fast.  They take the picture you were using and put it on a bunch of different cards for you so you can quickly go through and see how it looks.  I love that!  Saves you a bunch of time.



And of course they have a bunch of different options to make your Christmas cards how you like it.  You can make your card a flat card, a folded card, or even a mini book!  They also have postcard styles if you don't want to get envelopes.

Ok now here's where I need your help.  I couldn't choose which of their cute cards to use.  And I couldn't decide which pictures to use.  We had family pictures taken this summer that I wanted to use for the card and there were some really cute ones.  It was just one of those miracle photography sessions where all your kids are good.  I know, once in a life time right?  It probably helps that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were in charge of photography, it was outside, and some of Alan's siblings were there to help make everyone smile.  So it was a team effort.  :-)

Anyway, I need you to help me which one to pick for our Christmas cards this year!

1. Tanner Luggage Tag
2. Tanner Family


or 3. Tanner kids


I would love to know which one you like best!  And make sure you head over to
  minted 
to check out their super cute Christmas cards!