Ahhh, the end of the holiday season…

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Okay, I know I promised at least 2 posts a week, but you really can’t blame me… Right?

Christmas and everything up until ten minutes ago has been ridiculously crazy in my house. Family drama, financial situations, child support issues, etc etc etc. To be truthfully honest with you all I completely forgot I *had* a blog for a few days!

In the midst of all the above, we did manage to have a moderately nice Christmas Eve. We picked up my step-daughter in the evening, had the first “family dinner” we’ve had in a LONG time at the local Denny’s, enjoyed my 14 month old sitting at the table in a big girl booster seat, went home and unwrapped presents (because my step-daughter had to be back to her mother’s early the next morning) and spent the evening watching the girls play together wonderfully — despite their 5 year age difference.

Yes, Christmas Eve was probably one of my favorites since having our own family. It was just the week before and the nearly 2 weeks after that has my head spinning.

 

Do you enjoy the holidays? Growing up, it was the best time of year. My grandparents would always be the hosts for our HUGE family lunch. Grandma and I would spend weeks baking our butts off in preparation for nearly 100 people to pack our house Christmas Day. Cookies of all kinds, breads, candies, you name it – we made it.

Christmas Eve, I’d go to bed extra early so I could be up extra early. In the morning, I’d wake up to the smell of French Toast and maple syrup waiting for me in the kitchen. After (and ONLY after) we all ate breakfast, it was time for stockings. Mine always had an orange in the bottom and was filled with my favorite candies and Avon jewelry from Grandma.

Presents were then passed out by my Uncle Jimmy. We all had to wait until ALL the gifts were handed out before we could open them. Then, it was a solid 45 minutes of Oos and Ahs as we tore into paper and boxes to reveal our new toys, clothes and nick nacks.

Every year, you could count on getting new PJs (that we changed into after gifts were opened and kept on the remainder of the day) as well as gloves — grandma always sprung for the good stuff and got me Isotoners!

Lunch was served at EXACTLY 1pm and included turkeys, hams, mashed potatoes, pan gravy, olives, rolls, stuffing and yams. As people finished up lunch and dessert, the number of people dwindled until it was just grandma, papa and me. Together, we’d clean up then enjoy the rest of the day sleeping or, in my case, playing with whatever cool stuff I got that year.

Christmas was the shiz. It was literally the one day I looked forward to all year long.

Now, most of the family doesn’t speak to one another. The time leading up to Christmas is spent arguing over how each of us should be living our lives, how crappy things are, why there isn’t enough money to do this or that and trying to figure out how to include everyone.

Looking back, I wish I would’ve cherished those Christmas days in my childhood. The drama of the family kept away from my innocent ears. I try to figure out how to do the same thing my grandma and papa did for me and create a Christmas that my kids will cherish but drama seems to be lurking everywhere. Just waiting to pounce on every lick of hope I have for a Christmas of yesteryear.

How do you clean?

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I just received a call from my grandparents letting me know they were coming for Christmas. Today.

I don’t know about you but my house isn’t EVER ready for spur of the moment company. I get lazy most days and only do the bare minimum to keep things safe for my daughter.

More times than not this means the dishes pile up for a few days,  laundry might not get done, if it does get done it doesn’t get put away… Things like that.

It’s times like these that I wish I was a more diligent cleaner. You know, one of those women that is ready for everything. Has a place for everything and everything in its place.

Are you like me? If not, how do you motivate yourself to get things done when they need to be done? Do you have a schedule for cleaning that keeps you on track?

Sincerest Apologies and Christmas Tidings…

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For the last month, I’ve been using the phone application to post 3-4 times a week from my phone. Getting to a computer to write a post has been impossible with all the Christmas baking, decorating and hosting of family I’ve been doing. Today, I looked at my stats and wondered what in the world happened to my readers?!

I went from 40ish views a day to 0. Freaking out, I decided to go through my posts to see if I could find something, ANYTHING that might have offended everyone and I discovered something that made me very sad.

Not a single post I made was listed. Not one. Somehow, there was a glitch with my app that made it not work. 14ish posts were gone. No wonder I had no readers! I had no posts for them to read! After several emails back and forth with the application’s creator, we figured it out and it should be working fine now.

I hope you can all forgive me for neglecting to see what was happening before now. After being lucky enough to do not one but TWO giveaways for y’all, building up a readership and gaining your trust, this happens. Please know I will be diligently keeping an eye on my posts from now on to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Now… On to better news!

How many of you are holiday bakers? I’ve been baking for the holidays since I was 3. Yep, my grandmother (she raised me), had me sitting on the counter in our kitchen measuring out ingredients and cracking eggs long before most kids get the pleasure to. It has always been a tradition for us to hand out Christmas goody platters to family and friends and since I’ve grown up and had my own family, my goody trays have become the gifts I give (since money isn’t always abundant enough to buy everyone a gift!).

My daughter is almost 14 months old, so a little young to be helping but I was able to get her in the kitchen anyway. She helped me add flour and other pre-measured ingredients then attempted to mix (which resulted in a bowl of dough on the kitchen floor!). Having her in there showed me why my grandma always had me help. Seeing my daughter’s eyes light up when the flour disappeared as a liquid was poured on top of it, or when she tasted raw cookie dough for the first time… Talk about amazing!

Do you have any Christmas traditions that you have passed (or will pass) down to your kids?

Pillow Talk 11/25/2013

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I really don’t like going to doctors.

Ever since I can remember, every time I’ve gone to the doctor’s office I end up leaving with something else wrong. Everything from bladder infections to pneumonia to cancer. It gets tiring knowing that every time I go for a cold, I leave with something a lot worse. And going off of family history, it isn’t going to get any better.

Do you like doctors? What is your experience with them? Are you an “only once in a blue moon” visitor or an “always in” patient?

CutiePieAndCupcake Giveaway!

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I love featuring small businesses on my blog. Many people selling handmade items on Etsy are SAHM’s like me trying to help out with family bills or trying to make some extra cash (which I can totally relate to!).

CutiePieAndCupcake is an adorable shop on Etsy that features dresses and bows for little girls in the cutest fabrics! Here is what Jennifer Lamprich (owner of CutiePieAndCupcake) has to say about her and her shop:

I am a SAHM and a Navy wife! I love my little family! When I began my Etsy shop it was really by accident that it happened. I had made a few dresses and doll dresses for my daughters and received lots of compliments. Through the encouragement of my family and friends I began my Etsy shop! This has been a huge blessing to our family in many ways! Of course my girls are loving that not only are they getting lots of new dresses and fun things that we have made but they are also getting to help sew some of the projects we have made for them. This has been a great team effort by our little family, with helping to package shipments, pick out fun fabrics and ribbons to modeling the new things that I make. 

The name of my shop came about because, I have always called my oldest “CutiePie” and my youngest “Cupcake”, in fact the youngest introduces herself as “Cupcake”. When I started my Etsy shop, I felt that it needed to be named after my inspiration, which is my sweet little girls, CutiePie And Cupcake!”

CutiePieAndCupcake has generously offered to give one of my readers the beautiful holiday themed hairbow pictured below!

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What do you need to do to win you ask? Simply complete the mandatory entry listed below and any of the extras you’d like!

Mandatory Entry: Head over to the CutiePieAndCupcake Etsy page and tell me one thing you’d like to have from her shop in the comments-3 points

Extra Entries:
-Like the CutiePieAndCupcake Facebook page HERE. Leave your Facebook name in the comments (don’t forget to tell her who sent you!)- 1 point 
-Follow Chocolate and Chores by email or using the button on the left sidebar.- 1 point

Giveaway starts 11/14/2013 and ends at midnight on 11/28/2013 and winner will be announced/emailed the following day. Winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Gypsy Soul Productions review

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When Chandra Ribero from Gypsy Soul Productions agreed to a review for one of her stamped rings, I was thrilled! Her shop has some of the most unique things I’ve seen in an Etsy shop. Have you ever seen personalized stamped stethoscope ID tags? What about beautifully textured, stamped tie bars and money clips (perfect gifts for the men in your lives, btw)?

Stethoscope ID Tag

Tie bar

I received a stainless steel metal band with my last name “Waters” stamped onto it. When I got married, my grandmother gave me her wedding set that was sautered together (because she hated them twisting on her). While I am very happy with that set, I wanted one that was mine. Gypsy Soul Productions’ personalized ring was just that.

Wedding Band

Her stainless steel rings are perfect wedding bands! You can have them personalized with just about anything. Here is the list from her Etsy listing:

Names
Team Name
Short quotes or statements
Initials
Special Dates
Favorite Band
Favorite Team
Name & Team name
Boy name (Heart) Girl Name
Characteristics or nouns such as- Strength, hope, spirit, love, creativity, perseverence, kindness, music, art, drive
Job Titles: Nurse or RN, Doctor (MD), Paramedic, Welder, Scientist,
Family Titles: Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Grandma

So, on to the technical stuff. The sizing ran very true to size. It’s a solid band (no breaks like some rings you get from Etsy shops). The stamping is straight and nicely darkened. The ring in general is very shiny and hasn’t dulled at all. I give 5 solid stars for her craftsmanship.

Wedding Band

When my ring arrived in the mail, I didn’t know it. My husband set it aside and “re-proposed” a few days later with this ring in hand. Let me tell you, I was ecstatic!

Check out her Etsy page for yourself (HERE)and show her some love from Chocolate and Chores!

Pillow talk 11/6/2013

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If you’re married or have been in a relationship for a long time, do you ever reminisce about your dating period?

Tonight I got to talk on the phone with my husband for around half an hour and it reminded me of when we first started dating. We’d talk for hours about his day, my day, how we’d decorate different rooms of a house….

Not much has changed about our conversations except for bill talk. We’ve only been married a year but it seems like a decade. I truly enjoy talking to him whenever I can because I love him so much

Wasted money…

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Have you ever purchased a gift for someone only to find out that your money was wasted either by the person already owning it, a change of heart in wanting that gift or the gift itself being defected?

For the last year or so, my husband has been talking about how he wanted a pocket watch. He’d mention it to me weekly! When I won a giveaway for a PayPal cash deposit, I immediately took to eBay to find him a pocket watch I knew he’d love. After a few weeks of weeding through endless pages of cheap imported watches, I finally found one I KNEW would be perfect. It wasn’t gold (he doesn’t like gold), had his favorite creature on it (dragon) and the creature was in his favorite color (red)!

It was destiny! Or so I thought.

Two days later, he and I go shopping and we stop at the watch section to look around. He kept skipping over the pocket watches so I innocently asked him, “What’s wrong, don’t like the pocket ones anymore?” I couldn’t believe the response I got.

“Nah. I would never wear one so it’d be a waste of money.”

Seriously?! After I spent the money I won and all that time looking for one, he decided he didn’t want one anymore. I called him out on it, inevitably spilling the beans about his Christmas present (that I wanted to keep secret) and he apologized for messing up the surprise. That’s it. Just an apology.

Now I’m broke (again) and all future money will be going to the kids’ Christmas and I have a pocket watch being shipped to me that I can’t return due to change of heart. =/

Has something like that ever happened to you?

Saltbox House review AND GIVEAWAY!!

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I am so excited to bring you this wonderful review and giveaway from Saltbox House! Being my first review and giveaway, I am hoping to do this company justice because the products they offer are truly awesome.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

The mastermind behind Saltbox House is Jackie Smit of California. She does “hand painted wooden primitive/colonial signs for the home, garden, or anywhere you’d like to put one!” She makes her own stencils, so only paint is used on her signs.

Mistletoe Tradition

I ran across her work when I was searching Etsy for new Christmas decorations. When we moved, most of my decorations were thrown away because they were dollar store cheapies anyway. I knew I wanted to replace them with high quality decorations that would last years.

When I saw the Saltbox House Etsy page, I immediately fell in love! Every single one of the wooden signs Ms. Smit created were gorgeous and sure to compliment every style of decor.

My eye was drawn to one sign in particular because it quoted my all-time favorite Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year“. Talk about a coinkydink! I knew I had to contact her about doing a giveaway. Afterall, I knew my wonderful readers would love them as much as I did!

It's the Most wonderful time of the year

Saltbox House sent me that sign (It’s the most wonderful…) to review so I could introduce you to her work and show you how awesome these signs really are. My sign arrived padded with bubble wrap and paper, all wrapped up beautifully with red and white twine and a tag that thanked me.

I was so anxious to open it, that I forgot to take a picture! Forgive me for my haste, but I can assure you, she took the utmost care in packaging it so it wouldn’t get damaged.

My sign

My sign measured around 12″ x 18″ and was a little less than 1 inch thick. It is a little weighted but not so much that hanging it on a wall was impossible. Speaking of wall hanging, this sign has a gold colored sawtooth hanger for easy wall hanging.

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This particular sign is painted with antiqued white paint then distressed before the wording is stenciled on. She finished it out by sealing it with a clear protectant spray.

Distressed paint

Detail

My sign

Ready for the part you will love? Saltbox House is going to give one of YOU a gorgeous Christmas sign of your very own! How awesomely exciting is that? You can choose from any of her ready to ship Christmas signs. Want to know what you need to do to have your shot? Simply follow the instructions below. Giveaway starts November 4, 2013 and ends at midnight on November 22, 2013. Open to US residents 18+ only.

Mandatory Entry (MUST be completed before you complete the others!): Go to Saltbox House Etsy page (here) and tell me what sign you’d chose if you win; don’t forget to leave your email address. 3 points

Additional Entries:
-Follow my blog using the button on the side. Leave your email in the comments 3 points
-Like Saltbox House on Facebook and leave your Facebook name in the comments 1 point 
-Follow Jackie Smit on Twitter and leave your username in the comments 1 point 
-Follow Jackie Smit on Instagram and leave your username in the comments 1 point
-Follow Chocolate and Chores on Twitter (HERE) and leave your username in the comments 1 point 
-Like Stay at Home Mommies Timeout (HERE) on Facebook and leave your username in the comments 1 point
-Tweet about the giveaway. Be sure to use @SaMiKaY101 @Jackiesmit and #holidaysign in your tweet. Leave a link to your tweet in the comments. Can be done daily 1 point every day you complete

Connect with Saltbox House! Etsy ShopFacebook, Twitter, Instagram

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