Friday, December 26, 2014

SUPER Simple Organizing Tips To make Decorating NEXT Christmas EASIER...

I hope y'all had a very, MERRY and BLESSED Christmas!

Question:  Are you one of those who can't wait to get the decorations down?
Or are you like me, leave them up till after New Year's........AT LEAST;)

Either way, these tips will help.
I know we all get tired eventually and just want get the house back, and if you're like I used to be, that means you CRAM the stuff in boxes till next year.
Then next year, you open boxes full of STUFF......some of it broken, ripped, stained.........basically ugly and un-useable.

Well here are a few simple tips to help. (common sense, but who has common sense? hahaha)
By taking a day or at least a few hours to do some of these, next year when you drag the Christmas boxes out, you can be a bit more FESTIVE as you deck the halls!

1.  Take a look around your house.  Do you like what you see?  Did your Christmas Decor this year turn out pretty darn cool?  Or AWESOME?  Then here's what you do.  Go around the house and take pictures.  Wide angle, close up......especially if there are smaller items that you had placed "just so".  Load the photos on your computer and create a file or print them out and place the photos in a folder.  Next year, look at the pictures as you decorate.
It seemed my nutcrackers and village houses landed in just the right place this year:)

2.   Packing up........ As you take down your ornaments, get rid of any that are broken or irreparable in any way.  Seriously.  Unless it's a sentimental and/or incredibly valuable ornament from Great Aunt Bee, get rid of it.  Frankly, even if it is, you should probably get rid of it.  Chances are it won't be nearly as sentimental to whoever inherits it as you are.  Just sayin.  And if you didn't use some ornaments.......just know there is a good chance you will never use them.  So throw em out, donate or something:)

3.  Pack carefully.  This is something I NEVER do.  But this year, I will.  I kinda like the ornaments we have now and want to keep them around.  Wrap fragile pieces in tissue paper.  Make dividers using pieces from a cardboard box or even use egg cartons.  You can try packing them in plastic cups.
 Hey, you can stuff tissue in ziplock bags if all else fails.  Use your other towels, artificial snow.......stuff like that, for padding.
My husband bought me Christmas plates this year and you can bet they will be packed up right!

4.  Christmas Lights.  Oh gosh.......the dreaded Christmas lights.   Make sure all lights work and then roll them neatly on cardboard.......pieces or old rolls of paper towel.  Do this for garland and ribbon that came unwound also.

5.  Gift Wrap.........Here's the deal.  We all save crappy bags that should be tossed because they have been used for 5 years.  AND.......we buy rolls of new paper and forget about what we already have.  Go shopping TODAY and buy some half-price bags, bows and paper.  Make an inventory list and keep it on your phone, in your wallet, on the computer.  Anywhere and Everywhere.......just keep it and look at it before you buy more. * * *Extra Tip: If you shop all year long, then WRAP all year long.  Why not.  Just record what you have and who its for.  Important:)
What can I say???  I really liked the rustic touches we added this year to a HUGE white tree, like the plaid and birch gift wrap.  When I saw it on sale for 1/2 off today, I grabbed some for next year:)

6.  Christmas Cooking.........Did something turn out really great this year?  Or really awful?  Did you receive a food gift that you just have to make next year?  Rather than keeping every recipe that sounds good, keep the ones that you know are a SURE THING.  They should be in a special notebook for Holiday Cooking.  Then, when you come across a recipe that might be a keeper, you can place those in there too.  I have the mother load of Christmas cookbooks and guess what.......we eat the same things every year.   Remember.....Simplify!

Alrighty then, I guess that's it from this us.
You, you probably DO have better ideas.  But this is HUGE progress for me and maybe it will also help you.
And next year, when everyone else is freaking out over their Holiday preparations,
we'll be feeling pretty chill.
At least that's the plan:)


Friday, December 5, 2014

MERRY Little Christmas Treats

Hey there....
'tis the Season to be MERRY
and make MERRY treats;)
I'm talking fun, festive, easy, yummy kid-friendly treats!
I looked at my secret and not so secret (Pinterest) places
 and here are a few I want to pass on.......including links when available.
let's get started.......

First up we have "Grinch Kabobs".
 I told you easy, right?
a toothpick, grape, strawberry, banana slice
 and a mini marshmallow is all you need!  Yummmmm.

Rice Krispie Treats.......
Y'all know the recipe is on the box, right?
Just add green food coloring and build a Christmas Tree 

 Red Velvet Santa's Hat Brownies.....
Hmmmm.  What does one say about these except double YUM!!!!!
 (source...Cookies and Cups again:)

Pretzel Presents.......
these are new to me this year.  
Nothing fancy.......just square pretzels, melted chocolate and m & m's.

or how about a Grape Christmas Tree?
Styrofoam cone, toothpicks, grapes and You're done!

 One of my favorites are Powdered Sugar Donut Snowmen,
made with mini donuts.
Soooooo cute and easy!
These are from A Little Tipsy.

In keeping with the donut theme,
mini chocolate donuts, pretzels and red m & m's = Rudolph!!!
source: puertabella

Check this out.........
Strawberries and Bananas!
What a cute after school snack:)

 Last but not least, one of our all time favorites.....Santa Hats!!
We first saw this on a Disney Video and have made them every year since.
Simply use a vanilla wafer as the base and use a dab of whipped cream or frosting to stick the strawberry to it. Decorate your "hat" with frosting or whipped cream again.

Well, there you go!  I DID say easy:)


Monday, November 24, 2014

Hanging up her Pointe Shoes........

16 years of wearing leotards, pink tights and ballet sippers.........
and she's done.  Well, pretty much.
Yes, my Ballerina Girl is moving on.
And guess what?
She couldn't be happier.  (Now mama.......that's another story.)  LOL
To many this will come as a BIG surprise.
To others.......not so surprising.
For those of you who do not know Taylor personally, 
 let me paint a picture here........
She was always a little girly girl.........
in love with Barbies, Fairytales, Princesses and all things pink.

But even more, she loved Ballerinas.
She saw the Nutcracker when she was 3 and all she could ever
say was that someday she wanted to dance the role of Clara in the Nutcracker.
She wanted to be a Ballerina.
  (or Bannerina as she called it:)
She danced non-stop all through high school, 
often making sacrifices most teenagers
would never make.  But she loved what she was doing.
She was dedicated and focused.  
As time went on and she learned more about the world of Ballet Companies,
she asked us to let her go away for a year or so just to
see if she liked that life........
to see if she wanted to keep putting her body through
the daily grind.........
to see if she wanted to constantly compete/audition for 
even the most basic of roles.
We decided that if she was offered the chance, she could give it a try.

She accepted an offer from Joffrey Ballet to train for the year in Chicago.
She also has/had an offer on the table from Nashville Ballet II for this year.
Many people do not know any of this because she is not one to talk about herself.
We often receive questions as to what she is up to and it is awesome
to know so many care!
However, we have also heard a lot of misinformation
 about my sweet girl, which is unfortunate.
So here I am, MamaBear, setting the record straight.
Because she DESERVES that.
And in the process, I get to write one last ballet post.
(Please forgive me for all the pictures, but I couldn't resist:)
She has worked hard and lived her young life with integrity, morals and values intact.
Like everyone, she's made a few honest mistakes.
But she has been and always will be a wonderful role model for younger girls.
She has simply made a decision that she feels is best for her.
And after all, it IS her decision, right?
She still lives to make others happy.......and if you could meet her and see 
her shining light for yourself, you would all understand.
You would also understand that to see this girl unhappy is heartbreaking.
To see her smile NOT shine so bright is the saddest thing ever.
To hear that she is not enjoying the whole routine,
To hear her say that there are so many things she wants to do in life
and to hear her question why she is expected to only focus on this ONE thing
makes you realize that she has far more GIFTS to offer, in addition to
 the gift of being a beautiful ballerina.
(as her family, we knew that......... but maybe we needed a little reminder:)
This girl loves to laugh.
As I said, she loves making people happy.
Performing, in some capacity, is in her blood and still burns brightly.
She absolutely adores ballet and always will.
Even more, she adores the school and the people that helped her get so far, 
Naples Academy of Ballet.
If they ever need anything from her, she will be their biggest supporter.
She had opportunities to dance roles with Naples Ballet 
that many professionals never see if they do not reach the upper levels in a company.
She is my Soldier, Harlequin, Spanish Dancer, Snowflake, Snow Queen, Dew Drop, Sugarplum Fairy and her dream.......Clara.
She's been gracefully twirled and lifted into the air by

She has also been Swanilda......the lead in Coppelia, a Cat, Peter in Peter and the Wolf, 
Peter in Peter Pan and the 
LILAC FAIRY in Sleeping Beauty.
And even more, if I say so myself.
(Forgive me for bragging, but I'm her Mama...I'm supposed to:)
She knows what it's like to dance through the pain........
those ballerinas on their a steep price, trust me.
She has danced through nerves and wardrobe malfunctions.
The show goes on, you know.........with a SMILE:)

Because of this, she can confidently say that she has danced the roles she dreamed of
for the place that was her second home, Naples Ballet,
 and hopefully made many in the
audience smile.

Also, we will forever be grateful to and supporters of Nashville Ballet.  
Besides being in a southern, countrified cool city, the people there and the company are amazing and understand the pressures these young dancers face! 
(In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find my country girl living in Nashville someday!)

The self-discipline, the life skills and the doors that have been opened
 for her already, because of ballet, are incredible.
The friends she has made........priceless!
Because of ballet, she has had the opportunity to live in Chicago for a year, 
in a high rise downtown apartment. (lucky:)
She has spent summers training in Alabama (Roll Tide:) with the American Ballet Theater,
Ohio with Ballet Met, Maine with Bossov Ballet,
 Boston with Boston Ballet, Chicago with Joffrey Ballet
and in various places around Florida, including Naples Ballet and her first real training grounds with Ballet Florida in W. Palm Beach.
She has danced for Opera Naples and many community events.
Taylor even spent a few years modeling ballet costumes and poses for
a local artist/art teacher.
Yes, she's already lived an interesting life.........
and it's only just beginning:)

What's next for my Sugarplum?
 (ahem.....this will always be her nickname around here:)
well, that and Taylorina Ballerina.  heeheehee
Let's just say that whatever it is, it won't be ordinary.
She has a way of finding and doing interesting things.
Within a week of being home she landed a job at Island Company
( on 3rd St in Naples.)
After only a few months, she was approached by them to train for a promotion.
However, her happy, smiling face was noticed by somone one night and she was offered
 a wonderful position with Michael Kors at Waterside shops.
(as in "project runway" Michael Kors:)
She is now working there and absolutely loves it!
(And she may be meeting Mr. Kors himself very soon, so she is SUPER excited:)
She has also had other offers but that might be considered bragging.......
and we don't do that, right?;)

She still wants to perform in some way, shape or form.
Most definitely!
Dancing, Acting or (Disney Princess maybe????)
In fact, she is teaching ballet to young girls at the Boys and Girls Club of Naples,
on behalf of her school,  Naples Academy of Ballet.
Taylorina the ballet teacher!!!
Teaching is much harder than one might think and she has a lot to learn,
but she LOVES it!
Taylor is taking online courses through the University of Central Florida.
She has something very cool in mind and is soooooooo excited about it.
(Hint:  She just may be Naples, Florida next
 Primo.........or should I say "Prima" Wedding and Event Coordinator
........with a twist;)
That's all I'll say for now!
And, that is just one of the ideas floating around here.
One thing that's for sure, this girl WILL land on her feet.
Or her TOES!   (lol.......a little ballet humor;)

Everyone in our lives has been SO supportive and encouraging
to her through the years.
 It may be her decision and her life,
but she is well aware that she has many people to thank.
So thank you!!!!!!!!!
And stay tuned.
If as they say, the best is yet to come, it should be pretty awesome:)
To all young ballerinas out there, if this is what you love, go for it!
Taylor will be your biggest cheerleader!
She loves passing on little tips she has learned along the way.
But really go for it, because that is what is needed.
Ballet has to be your LIFE, not just a small part of it.
At least at the beginning of your career.
She will never regret these years
and is happy she got the chance to go away to train.
Just because she has other plans for life and is over the whole effort to 
get noticed and all that, it doesn't mean ballet isn't a beautiful life for some.
That's probably why she wants to keep it in her life.

                            Well, I guess that's it!
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
If you're around Waterside Shops in Naples, Fl,
stop in Michael Kors store
 and say Hi to Taylor.
She gets SO excited when someone she knows comes in:)
Or look for her in ballet class.
(She's looking forward to taking class after this longer than anticipated break:)
Taylorina/'ll always be our star.
BRAVA, beautiful girl.
You did yourself proud:)  And you made all of us proud too:)
Once a ballerina, always a ballerina!

A.K.A proud mama

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