Archive for January, 2013

I want Coleman to love things.  To love life.  To love friends.  To love family.  To love reading.  To love soccer or lacrosse or chess or whatever activity he chooses.  Jason is a very loyal, passionate person.  He is a super fan of so many things, including Cole and I. I want Coleman to feel that same passion for whatever he chooses to do in his life.  Including his faith.

There is so much good in the world.  So many good people who believe in doing good and being good.  I am grateful for the opportunity to rub shoulders and be friends with people of all faiths and beliefs.  But I think I’m not alone when, as a parent, I want my child to feel as strongly about his faith as I do.  I want him to be proud to believe in things of the spirit.  I want him to know it for himself and by knowing it, choose to live it.  I want him to love it.


I think I want this for the simple reason that I know life is challenging.  My faith has guided me, strengthened me, and given me peace during dark, difficult times.  I would love for my son to feel that same sense of strength throughout his life as he faces the natural twists and turns, ups and downs that our journey takes.

I’m sure these thoughts are on my mind right now because Jason is back in the hospital for an 8-week stay.  He just finished 6 weeks in the hospital this fall from surgery on a bone that was causing chronic bedsores.   Unfortunately, that surgery didn’t heal properly so the surgeon had to go back in a second time.  We had a fabulous holiday with our families and after two weeks of cousins and food and laughter and fun, we left grandma’s house to drop Jason off at the hospital while Cole and I headed home.  Surgery was two weeks ago (two weeks down – hooray!) and Jason is actually doing amazingly well as he is required to lay on the fancy no-pressure sand bed to heal.


Life brings challenges.  Adversity is around the corner.  Faith doesn’t solve the problem or take it away but it helps us manage our struggles.  And sometimes that’s all we need.  Here’s to faith – whatever yours is, wherever it’s found.  May you find hope and peace and courage to help you work through anything life throws you.

Faith – Love It.

For those of you out there who loved Ann Dibb’s talk about being a Mormon, here’s her quotable quote from that lovely talk.  Free Printable….Yes!  I can see this in our Activity Days future.

click: I’m a Mormon Quote

I'm a Mormon Quote - cropped

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IMG_0618 Have you ever had one of those experiences where everything comes together perfectly?  When reality surpasses all of your ideas of how something should go?  When a good idea becomes a great moment because all the stars align and everyone actually does their part and you end up with a perfect evening instead of simply a good idea?

That’s what happened at our last Activity Days Recognition Night.  The idea was not mine.  I stole it.  I’m a big believer in building on ideas that are already good and proven and then adapting them to fit our individual needs.  This activity was passed from my sister to my sister-in-law with fabulous results.  They did it for their young women’s groups (ages 12-18) but I knew it would translate perfectly for our 8-11 year-olds.


I think another reason this is a perfect activity is because of the feedback I have since received from so many groups who have tried it and found it successful.  I love hearing your ideas and how you put your own spin on it – notice the update below about how one group is using it as a Mother/Daughter Activity.  Use this post as a jumping off point – either do it like we did or do your own thing.  It all works! 




UPDATE:  I have received emails and comments about the invite so I’ll add that here.  I purchased glassine bags (look like wax paper) very inexpensively from amazon.com.  Click here to see the ones I chose.  They are 4 1/2″ x 6 3/4″ in size (11.4 cm x 17.1 cm).  I used that size because they came in a package of 100 for only about $10 and the numbers worked out that we could use one package for both the invitations and the refreshments so I got them large enough to put the popcorn in.

I designed the invite in Illustrator and it is not possible to offer you a file that you can manipulate in Word so you won’t be able to just use this invite, but I’ll tell you that it doesn’t have to look exactly like this to be darling.  Add some baker’s twine (I pick mine up from pickyourplum.com whenever the spools go on sale because it is heavyweight and lasts forever).  I put ALL the info on the invite so that everyone could be prepared with their presentations.  

If you look at the picture further down in this post you’ll see the back of the invite has the message to the parents and what their responsibility is that night.  To create the gray lattice on the back I used my Silhouette Cameo and cut out one of my pattern shapes. I used that as a mask and simply placed it over the back of each invite and lightly sprayed spray paint over the top.  I didn’t take the time to adhere the mask so I just sprayed very carefully directly over the top of the page (a little farther from the page so that it wouldn’t blow the mask up) and called it good.  I like the effect of the paint being blended and “not perfectly crisp.”  If you want the pattern more crisp then you’ll probably need to use removable adhesive to adhere the mask down each time.

Text About the Bags Said This:

GIRLS, PLEASE BRING A BAG THAT REPRESENTS YOU (such as your backpack, purse, dance bag, sports bag, etc.)

and fill it with three items that reflect YOUR PROGRESS in each of the three areas of the Faith In God program (be prepared to share about them for 3 minutes total)

1.  Learning & Living the Gospel

2.  Serving Others

3.  Developing Talents



Each girl brings a bag of their choice (purse, backpack, dance bag, whatever) with 3 things in it – one item for each of the 3 areas of the Faith in God program (service, living the gospel, developing talents).  They knew they would share for no more than 3 minutes total about their items and I was totally impressed with their preparation and the thought they put into their items.  Consider letting them know that their parent can share for them if they are too nervous – we don’t want anyone not coming because they are scared to share in front of a group.  Make it accessible and be sensitive to everyone’s needs if you can.


We started with a very short message about “what we are carrying” in the bags of our lives and how to keep the most important things handy.  Then each girl shared their items in their bags – what each item represented and why they included it. (Scroll down to the “Update” because Mindy put together a great lesson for this portion.  I’ve shared her idea below).

The “Service” category included things like writing to their brothers on their missions, helping friends at school and babysitting the neighbor’s baby.  For “Developing Talents,” we learned a lot about the loves and hobbies of our girls.  Piano, softball, sewing, reading, dance, karate, and even cutting vinyl!  Lots of talents were shared and celebrated that night.  Finally, as the girls shared about “Learning and Living the Gospel,” we learned about scriptures, prayer, Primary, and family home evening.  Each girl was very thoughtful in what they chose to bring in their bag.  They had practiced what they were going to say and did a wonderful job of talking about their own progress in the Faith in God program.


What could be better than the program being carried out by the girls themselves?  It was often touching, sometimes funny, definitely surprising, and always meaningful.  We learned that Savannah earned her lacrosse bag by selling 29 coupon books in the fundraiser!  No one else even came close!


We learned that Olivia aspires to be a fashion designer and learned to crochet from just one 30 minute lesson from her mom.  Oh, and she loves pigs.


We learned that Karissa has been befriending a less-fortunate girl at school who was being teased by their classmates and Madison has been working on developing her talents in the kitchen – especially with “baked goods.”  Yum.



After their daughter shared their items, parents were asked to take 1 minute to share ONE QUALITY that they have seen grow in their daughter over the last 6 months.  It was a focused, simple way to have parents share publicly about their daughter but keep the time under control.  Happy tears were shed, smiles were plentiful and there were lots of spontaneous hugs to go around.


About 45 minutes and 20 girls later (not bad, right?), we wrapped things up with a short message encouraging the girls to cling to their parents as one of the best things they could “carry” with them throughout their lives.  We then gave each girl a letter from their parents that we had gathered before the evening.  This step takes forever to pull together but it’s worth every phone call and reminder text to track down a letter for each girl.  Treasures.  That’s what those letters were.  Not only did each girl get to share their goals and achievements, but they got to hear what makes them special from their parents – both verbally and in writing.  And the whole fabulous night only lasted a total of about 1 hour and 15 minutes.



So simple.  We just gathered shopping bags from appropriate shops and stores that coordinated (pink, black and white became our color-scheme because that’s that the majority of shopping bags color motif).  We  used my trusty pedestals in our colors and placed shopping bags on and around them.

Add some tissue paper in each bag and tie a balloon to the handle and you’ve got fun and beautiful decor on the cheap.  I used my foamboard covered in fabric as a backdrop and added some pink banners and called it good.  I think the decorations cost about $2 for the tissue paper that I didn’t have on hand.



Popcorn drizzled in white chocolate (thinned just a touch to make it light and easy to pour) and placed in the rest of the glassine bags (same as we used for the invites).  I used box lids as the “trays” and covered it in wrapping paper to keep the color-scheme going.  Those glassine bags were also used for our invitations.  I purchased a package of 100 for $10 and we had enough for both the invites as well as the popcorn.





My top 3 qualifications for a great idea.  This one didn’t disappoint.  It’ll work for any group, young or old, boys, girls, whatever.  It’s easily adapted and totally perfect.  Perfect because it is focused on each individual.  It’s for them, about them, and in celebration of them.  And that’s what turns this good idea into a great one.

Try it with your group and let me know how it goes.  I can’t wait to hear.


You can scroll down and look at the comment from Lori to find an awesome way in which they are adapting this idea for a Mother/Daughter activity.  The bags the girls bring are going to be all about THEIR MOTHERS.  Love it.  Thank you so much for sharing, Lori!  Here’s her thoughts…..



Another group in our neighborhood did this same activity this week – here is how they ROCKED IT!

LESSON IDEA: Mindy brought her own biking bag and in it were various items that are used to PROTECT her when she rides.  She discussed each item and how it protects her PHYSICALLY.  



Then she pulled out the things that protect us SPIRITUALLY and talked about each one.  This lesson idea keeping the things close to use that will protect us and help us return to our Heavenly Father can be easily adapted if you are not a cyclist like Mindy.  Great idea.   


FAVORITE MOMENT:  The girls all did a darling job as they shared what was in their bags and how they had grown in the gospel and in life.  But when Autumn shared that she has been working on magic tricks – THEN DID ONE FOR US – well, that was my favorite moment of the night!  Where else could you see “The Amazing Autumn” than at Activity Days?   



 BEST. TREAT. EVER.  Can you say popcorn bar?  Mindy found recipes on Pinterest for a variety of popcorn flavors and let everyone scoop their own bag.  By making her own, it only cost about $20 for this treat and it added such a great atmosphere of celebration.  Plus, the room smelled yummy!




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Here we go.  I’ve loaded up my silhouette store with all kinds of valentines.  There is something for everyone – kids or friends or spouses.  You’ll find it all here.  Want to take a look?  Click on each image to find the designs in my store.

A2 Cards + Envelope:

Elegant Flourish Heart Card 4x6 - Thumbnail

Heart Lattice Card A2 - Thumbnail

Flourish Hearts + Butterfly Heart:

Elegant Fourish Hearts -ThumbnailButterfly Heart - Thumbnail

Valentine Subway Art (Muy popular, by the way.  Don’t be the only one who doesn’t have one!):

Valentines - Subway Vinyl- Thumbnail

Valentine Photo Props + Kissing Booth Banner (I know you want these.  I can see the darling photos now!):

Basic RGB

Basic RGB

3D Print and Cut Cards (yes, that’s a spider.  Hello, little boy valentine!) + envelope.  You print and cut these out and either add the cut shape that comes with each card or add a 3D toy (aka: a real toy top, a real maze toy or a toy bug).  If you use a 3D toy then use a plastic or glassine bag as the envelope for your valentine.  So cute.

You're the Tops Card

You're Amazing

Creepy Crawly Valentine 3D Card 4x6 - Thumbnail

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I have always loved quotes.  My teenage bedroom was plastered with them, handwritten on posterboard and construction paper (it was the 80’s – construction paper was super sweet in all its acidity).  Non-archival=safe paper or not, I’m inspired by words and it’s even better if the words have shape and texture and become art.  Therefore, I love vinyl and the Silhouette and their symbiotic relationship that makes us all happy.

To the Moon & Back - Thumbnail

It looks like the Silhouette crowd loves quotes as much as I do, too.  Thank you for that.  Thank you for downloading them and creating with them and making beautiful things with them.   Here’s a vinyl project from a friend, using my “Silent Night” shape.  Use the same technique for any of my vinyl quote shapes.

silent night

Here’s what she did:

1.  Choose a frame with glass.

2.  Cut fabric to the size of the frame and insert it.

3.  Cut vinyl quote to fit frame and adhere it to the front of the glass, creating a layered look by having the vinyl on top of the glass instead of under it.

4.  Add a ribbon or other embellishment if you choose.

Or maybe you just want to attach the quote to the wall like we did in Kaden’s room.  I had a friend cut this one using her professional vinyl cutter because we wanted it 20″ high.  It wraps around the corner of his bedroom.  Very huge.  Very cool.


Here’s some quotes for you to cut and peel and stick to projects of your choice.  Love them.

True Love Story - Vinyl - Thumbnail

These work great as vinyl projects or cut them out of paper – they are complete shapes and will work either way.  I love it when that happens.

Basic RGB

Love You Flourish Heart - Thumbnail

And here is some vinyl inspiration to work with, because everyone needs some positive reinforcement around.

Vinyl, vinyl, vinyl.

Happy peeling and sticking!

Make Today Your Day - Thumbnail

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Great girls.  Great plan.  Great activity.


Another fabulous Favorite Things Party in the books.  I posted about the invitation idea here.  It will work for any time of year…not just Christmas.  All you need are some gift tags to give them some pop.

1.  Everyone was asked to bring a wrapped gift to swap – it needed to be one of their favorite things and could cost no more than $5.

2.  Everyone was also asked to bring a favorite homemade treat or food to share – and we encouraged them to help make it.


The great thing about a Favorite Things Party is that it runs itself.  Everyone who brings a gift puts their name into a bowl.  Then each person chooses out a name.  Then each girl shares why the gift they brought is one of their favorite things and whoever’s name they had drawn out is the lucky recipient of their gift. (Cheer!  Hooray!  I love my gift!)



As for refreshments, simply go around the group sharing why they brought their particular treat then dive in for the festive feast.  Since we had the party at my home with Christmas decor in place, all we had to provide was some plates, napkins and cups and we were ready to go.


We added a short lesson at the beginning on the importance of being a good receiver (a hard skill to develop in young girls sometimes) reading this book and  this talk as a reference to giving and receiving.  The rest was up to the girls.  They shared and laughed and encouraged and spent time together in a meaningful way.

This activity works for any age – young girls, teens or women.  Try it.  It’ll be your favorite.


Want to make Savannah’s cute mouse treats?  1.  Dip maraschino cherries in melted chocolate.  2.  Add two sliced almonds to melted chocolate to create ears.  3.  Attach Hershey’s kiss for the mouse head.   4.  Cute and yummy.

(We loved this activity so much we did it again in 2013 – click here for the updates and changes that we made to the activity the second time around.)


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Cousins. Cousins. Cousins.

Oh, how I love the holidays.

Coleman + Cousins = Best Days Ever.


Here’s what I’ve been submitting to my silhouette store while Cole, Jack and Max played house with the Angry Birds figures.

And did hundreds of laps with Finn McMissle and Lightening McQueen around the coffee table.

And ran from closet to closet to test their flashlights.

Baby Subway Art:

Baby - Subway Vinyl - Thumbnail

You Are My Sunshine:

You Are My Sunshine - Vinyl - Thumbnail

Ampersand Collection:

Ampersand - Thumbnil

Words (love, relax, eat, read, art, pray):

Love - Thumbnail

Monogram Collages (entire alphabet available):

M - Thumbnail

Months – 2013 + plain (Jan-April, May-Aug, Sept-Dec):

January-April 2013 - Thumbnail

Happy Twenty-13!

2013 and twenty13:

2013 - Thumbnail

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