Christmas Fun!!

Tonight I surprised the boys with a 
Christmas box of fun. 

I found the tickets HERE but they said the minivan express. Well I don't own a minivan so I opened them up in Photoshop, made a  few custom edits to personalize them, and printed them out. I then ran them through my laminator so we can use them year after year. 

After whipping up a few hot chocolate K-cups ( love these!), some marshmallows, bag of popcorn, a few cookies, and an envelope for the tickets, I put them into a Christmas box. The boys were so excited when they opened the box!! We have a house, not to far from us, that has you tune to a radio station in your car to watch the lights dance to the music. The Kotwica Express was a big hit and I can't wait to do it again! 

Merry Christmas!

Handmade Christmas Cards

This year I made my Christmas cards. I have done this before, and I love to do it, but you have to have some time on your side. I have over 50 cards that I send out! So doing the same card 50 times was just not an option for me. I knew I would get bored fast.

I found my cards at Hobby Lobby and loved that they had some chevron prints in the mix. I can never get enough chevron in my day! Then I used a mix of Cricut cartridges and cuts on Sure Cuts a Lot to make the pieces of my cards. 

Here are all the cards I made. I hope you get some inspiration from them! 

Merry Christmas!!!

Free Printable 2014 Calendar

I whipped this calendar up for myself and thought why not give it away as a freebie!! I use this calendar in my kitchen by my command center. I'm a color girl and love when things look purtty! It helps me want to stay organized when I have something pretty to write on. The new year is just around the corner so I hope this calendar will help you to organized your months ahead! Enjoy!

To download the calendar click HERE. Printable is for personal use only. You may not reproduce, sell, or market as your own. However, feel free to share with a link back to this post. Thanks!

Christmas Planner!!!

Christmas is only 48 days away! I cannot wait! Christmas is my FAVORITE holiday. I am one that puts up the trees and listens to Christmas music way too early. I just get giddy about the holiday. I am rubbing off on my kids too as they have been singing Christmas songs and keep asking when we can put the tree up.

The holidays get hectic for me. The older the kids get the more holiday events we attend. I need to be organized in order to have a stress free holiday. I have been using a Holiday Planner for 4 years now. My first year I used one from Organized Christmas. They had several different types of planners with several free printables. Year two I used some of my printables from Organized Christmas and made a few of my own. Year three I found several bloggers with free holiday printables and pick various forms that suited me, but I hated that they didn't all match or have a theme. This year I thought I would create my own based on the past three years printables. Well time was getting the best of me so I went in search of a Christmas Planner in blog land.

The angels began to sing when I visited one of my absolute favorite bloggers, A Bowl Full of Lemons!!! Toni has created the most amazing holiday planner with everything you need to stay organized this Christmas! She does charge a minimal fee for her planner but it was worth every penny spent!

My planner set-up

I print all my pages on white card stock because it is more durable then regular paper and I love to use Sharpies! The card stock prevents the bleed thru from the pens. I purchased a three ring binder, printed my cover page, and slapped it in. I was already happy!

The very next thing in my planner is my calendar. I have a calendar for November and December. The calendar helps me plan out when I am decorating, all our holiday events, when the kids are on holiday breaks and more. I downloaded my calendar from Eli Blog. You can get it here.

I just loved how they had that Subway Art feel to them.

The next item in my planner is just a 3 hole punch poly pocket to keep loose items in. I put coupons, Christmas lists, notes and more in there.  I also put two envelopes in the pocket to hold my gift receipts and shopping receipts. I even gave the front of the envelopes a Christmas feel - it makes me smile when I pull them out! I then put tabbed dividers in and used my label maker to label each tab.

Tab One:
My first tab in my planner is my shopping tab. I love how Toni's holiday shopping list is set up. There is are so many more items to purchase then just gifts at Christmas. I now have a place to jot down any new decorations I need to pick up, Christmas card items, wrapping items, and a spot for miscellaneous items to purchase. I then have her Black Friday shopping form. I usually go shopping on black Friday (more for the fun then anything) but I now have a spot to jot down the store, the item I need, the price, and the time frame to get the item. So important to stay on task on that big shopping day! I use her Gift Giving list to keep track of those non-family gifts to give - teachers, neighbors, friends.

Tab Two:
The second tab is my budget for gift buying. My husband and I sit down every Christmas and set our budget for each family member, each other, our kids and non-family gifts. This tab is huge to me. It keeps me on budget and also gives me a place to keep track of gifts bought.

Tab Three:
The third tab is lists. The My Christmas Wish List form is a great way to let people know what your number one item is, things you want versus things you need, sizes, and more. I added a gift card list for stores that I love gift cards from too. I will also punch in the list I get from others for reference.

Tab Four:
The fourth tab is my events tab. Toni has a wonderful way to keep track of all those events to take the kiddos to around the holidays. Whenever I receive an email or find an event that we might want to go to I jot it down. I missed out on a Groupon last year for an event that I would have loved to take the kids to!

Tab Five:
The fifth tab is food! Now I occasionally host a Christmas dinner, but I will be using the Holiday Menu Plan for any event that I will be hosting during the holidays. It breaks the meal down by course and I love that it gives a spot for preparation date. There are so many things you make the day or night before your event that you need to have a plan for. I also love there is a grocery list sheet too!

Tab Six:
The sixth tab is my Christmas card list. In the past I have used a list that you are able to keep track of who you sent/received cards from for 2 to 4 years. The problem I had with that is my list is always changing. I like that Toni's is a one year deal mostly because I am anal and hated messing up my list if someone moved, lost touch, divorced, or whatever the reason may be for not sending a card the next year. You know......I like things to look pretty!!

I am a planner - I always work better when I make a plan! To find out more on Toni's awesome holiday planner or to purchase it click HERE. Happy Holidays!!  

Thirty Days of Thanks

What are you thankful for??? Join me in doing the Thirty Days of Thanks. Thirty Days of Thanks is where you post something you are thankful for each day. Post it on your blog, Facebook, or just jot it down. I did it last year and loved doing it as it really made me realize what an amazing life I am living and all the wonderful people in my life. It was also awesome to look back on what I wrote. If you have a blog or social media site where you are posting please feel free to link up below. 

Nov 1: Today I am thankful for Advil. I know that is silly but there are days that I just don't know how I would survive with out it.....being a woman and all!

Nov 2: I am thankful for my son Nathan. He is such a thoughtful kid. I am so blessed to have his positive energy in my life!

Nov 3: I am thankful for my son Trace. He is the sunshine in my day! 

Nov 4: Today I was thankful for coupons. Did some Christmas shopping and everything is so expensive but with coupons I got some good deals!  

Nov 5: I am thankful my husband takes the financial burden so I can stay home with my boys. I love that I am there for them everyday, in anyway!

Nov 6: Today I am thankful for my parents. I love hanging out with them and making them laugh! They have always been there for me, supported me, and help me become the woman I am today! Love you both!

Nov 7: After watching Greys tonight I am thankful that both my babies were born with no complication and remain healthy today! 

Nov 8: Today I am thankful for my girlfriend who always make me feel special around my birthday. 

Nov 9: Today I am not feeling very thankful. Having a terrible day! But I guess I have to be thankful for bad days so I know what good days feel like. 

Nov 10: I am thankful for another year in my life. As much as I dislike getting older on my birthday, I love to add another year that I have lived in the physical world!  

Nov 11: I am torn on my thankfulness today. I can be thankful for more than one thing today right? First I am thankful to my Father, Grandfathers, and best friend Michael Buck for their service to our country. Today and everyday my thoughts, prayers, and thanks go out to those who have served, and those who continue to serve our country. 

Today I am also thankful for Grandpa Kotwica. Today is his birthday.Even though he is no longer with us here in the physical world, I know he is with us in spirit. I am thankful for the time I got to spend with him. He came into my life through marriage but filled a void in my heart from losing my own Grandfather so early in my life. Love you and miss you tons Grandpa! 

Nov 12: Today I am thankful for quite in my house. There are just some days I enjoy the kids being in school all day and the husband in the office! 

Nov 13: Today I am thankful for the love that my kids give me everyday. I know someday to soon they will no longer want to crawl up in my lap and cuddle with me so for now I will cherish those moments and be forever thankful for those moments of love! 

Nov 14:  Today I am thankful for my car. She is getting old but runs great and I love not having a car payment!

Nov 15: Today I am thankful for my husband for giving me a break from my daily routine. He is such a great husband and dad I never worry leaving him for the weekend

Nov 16: Today I am thankful for my mom teaching me it is better to give than receive. As I sit here making my Christmas cards I am thinking about the smile it may bring to a friend or a family members face when they receive it. I am also thinking my extra cards should go to a good cause.

Nov 17: Today I am thankful for love. I watched my parents today and even though they drive each other crazy once in awhile they truly love each other. They get each other and accept each other for who they are. Almost 45 years of marriage will do that to one another :)

Nov 18: Today I am thankful my dog Hazel is still here with us. She is almost 11 years old and her age is starting to show. She is such a good dog and I love that she still wants to play with me at night!

Nov 19: Today I am thankful for my bed. Silly but true. We spent a good amount of money on our bed and I love it. I sleep so much better and it really helps my back.

Nov 20: Today I am thankful for candles. It is amazing to me how a scent of a candle makes me feel. I love it when my house is filled with a wonderful scent.  

Nov 21:Today I am thankful for coffee. I treat myself to coffee at Starbucks and today it was just extra yummy!

Nov 22: Today I am thankful for my a day with my husband. I love spending time with just him even if we are just running errands.

Nov 23: Today I am thankful I got so spend time with my husband's side of the family. We don't get to spend much time with them and I really enjoyed my time with them. I am glad it worked out for everyone and we were able to get together.

Nov 24: Today I am thankful for my cooking. My mother taught me well as I made a wonderful dinner for my parents and my family!

Nov 25: Today I am thankful for how I was raised. I had my boys teacher/parent conferences today and got nothing but praise for how good my boys are doing in school - from school work to their behavior. I have to give some credit to my parents and how they raised me, as this is where I learned it from. I also needed this myself as I feel I am too tough on my boys but today help me realize there is a reason why I have rules and expectations.  

Nov 26: Today I am thankful that my husband and I can be silly and make each other laugh. I really think it is a strong trait and helps us to have a great marriage.

Nov 27: Today I am thankful for my neighbors. We have been in our new neighborhood for a year now and could not have asked better neighbors! 

Nov 28: Happy Thanksgiving. Today is the day I should be thankful for all my loved ones in my life, but this is a Thanksgiving I will never forget. I guess for today I am thankful that I now know the truth.

Nov 29: I am thankful for my friendships. I have so many amazing friends and even though some of us are so many miles apart our bond is still so strong.

Nov 30: On the last day of thanks I am thankful for sleep! Wow this holiday was exhausting and now on to Christmas!! 

So Excited for my Black Chandelier

Here is the thing about have to have patience!

I currently have the patience of a saint right now because my husband convinced me to wait the "one year before painting on new construction." The white walls are killing me. Not to mention the flat paint that shows every mark. I have my paint colors all picked out for every room so with that in mind I have been searching for additional decor pieces. 

For a year, yes a year people, I have been trying to find a reasonable black chandelier for my bedroom. I have been to several lighting stores, researched online, and read reviews on black chandeliers. They were either too expensive or too cheap.

My kids are both in school all day for the first time this year, so one day my husband played hooky and we went out for lunch and shopping. We were shopping mostly for house items. I would say I want that. He would say "really?" See my husband can picture things in his mind. I tell him the grand plan of any project, he usually disagrees with my plan but goes along with it, and then when it's all done he usually tells me how good the project turned out! This was also the case with me wanting a black chandelier for our bedroom. After we finished shopping, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a lighting store tucked back in a corner. 

We walked around the store and we're about to leave when I looked up and I saw her! She was beautiful and exactly what I was looking for! Now the price tag on her was not bad but a little higher than I budgeted. I inquired about her and found out the tag was incorrect, she was even less, and on top of that they were having a store wide sale and took an additional 15% off. I was sold! 

Well she finally came in and I could not wait to get her up! My husband got her up and I couldn't help but smile ear to ear! Now I really can't wait to paint the walls! So the moral of my story is when you have a vision make sure you take your time to put all the pieces together to complete your vision.

My bedroom be continued. 

Back To School! Organizing The Homework Area!

Well my "summer blogging break" is officially over tomorrow when my oldest returns to school as a second grader. Where did the summer go?? I feel like the summer went so fast! Our summer here in Chicago started out cool and rainy but we still did a ton of things on our bucket list. 

With the start of the school year I knew I need to get our homework area organized - it was a mess! Last year I watched my neighbors twins three days in the week. The twins and my older son were in the same class so doing homework together was easy peasy! This year I will be watching the twins again buy they have one teacher and my son has another, so homework might be a bit more challenging, but I will figure out a way to "getter done!" Also, add to it, my youngest son will be in Kindergarten with homework as well. So I knew I needed to get our homework area cleaned up and ready to go for the first day. 

My youngest son is in Kindergarten all day. He qualified for a program where he will be in a regular Kindergarten class in the morning, and then stay with 12 of his friends to continue working on literacy. He is not recognizing all of his letters. My first thought as a mother is complete failure for not working with him more. Come to find out he is blind as a bat and cannot see near. They believe this is a huge factor but still put him in the program to make sure he is up to speed when entering first grade. I dug through my teacher bin and pulled out all my ABC, numbers, flash cards, worksheets, and other fun activities to help him through out the year.

Here is how our area turned out:

Each child has a seat to work, and supplies are in the middle in a caddy. Our calendar is up and will help my youngest with his counting along with our ABC poster. We also have some fun stuff on the board for seasons, weather and to determine today, tomorrow and yesterday. My youngest always says "Remember last year when we....." instead of yesterday. I will also add fun visuals for each month.

Off to the side I have our ABC/Word and Number/Math helpers. The black drawers hold extra supplies, scrap paper, notebook paper and more school goodies. My white TV cabinet I found at the curb. I removed the doors and spray painted it white. Here I house 3 bins that house workbooks and worksheet for ABC, numbers and math, and the last one has fun activities like mazes, hidden objects, connect the dots and coloring for when the kids are bored. All our markers, crayons, colored pencils, dry erase markers, and pencils live in the pencil boxes. On top is our word wall/sight words, and white paper and construction paper in the trays. The magazine holders hold my calendar markers and miscellaneous items I have used in the past when assisting in doing homework. The crate holds all our flash cards (addition, subtraction, ABC, numbers, sight words). It also holds some games and puzzles related to ABC. 

Education is so important to me and having educational items at my finger tips to use in assisting with homework will make it fun for the kids and fun for me!

Happy 1st Day of School to you all! 

Organizing: Project New Home!

I have an obsession with Thirty-One bags! I love them and want so many of them. So when Julie asked me to do a product review for their hang-up home organizer I was beyond excited!!! I could not wait to share with how I used the organizer that I have had my eye on forever. 

When my box arrived at my door I was giddy! After opening it I was amazed at the quality of the fabric and new right away it would be durable and last. At first I thought for sure I would be using it as an addition to my command center (go here to check out my command center). Then the light bulb went on and I knew exactly what its purpose would be for me. 

First I wanted to add a pop of color to it. What better then some chevron pink!!! I trimmed up some scrapbook paper and inserted it in all the clear pockets.

The next thing I did was find some cute mini clothes pin and added some pink washi tape to them. I loved how they turned out and they work great to clip up items to my organizer. 

After I dressed up my organizer (which I had so much fun doing) I then began to set up my organizer. We have recently moved into a brand new home. It is our second brand new home, but boy I forgot about all the things you need to buy for a new home. The paint, window treatments, furniture, lighting and more! Even though we came from a home where we lived for 10 years I still needed some new items for the new home. So this became my project new home organizer!

I use the 4 pockets at the bottom to hold paint and window treatment quotes, information for my son's lego room and a miscellaneous pocket for things I pick up for later projects.

I love that it comes with a dry erase marker to label areas. I used the middle section to write out any appointments I have and a pocket to keep my business cards. 

The top portion of my organizer allows me to write out my to do list. Some items on this to do list are long term as we are working on one area at a time, but I love that it is right in front of my face to keep me motivated.

The other half allows me to clip up items, like swatches, brochures, picture inspiration, and more. 

Here is my finished thirty-one wall organizer

If you loved what I have done with the home organizer and would like to get organized with Thirty-One head on over to Julie personal website and check out the catalog. She will gladly help you get what you need to get organized!

Julie Biggs 407-494-3131