A Thankful Thursday

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought it would be nice to bring back Thankful Thursdays. Each week throughout the holidays, I’ll post a little something I’m thankful for and offer a prompt for you to do the same. I appreciate all of the blessings in my life, and I know you do, too. So we can expand our habit of gratitude together!

Today: I’m thankful for the friendships in my life.

I’ve had many come and go over the years, and I’ve learned that’s okay. At the time, I never imagined going a full 24 hours without talking to my high school besties or summertime pool buddies. Now, it has been decades since I’ve seen most of them, but it doesn’t mean our friendships weren’t strong or that they didn’t serve a purpose. Each of those people taught me about acceptance, gratitude, and compassion – and maybe a little mischief. They set the groundwork for the kind of friend I could be to others.

I used to stress out about not calling enough or doing a better job at keeping in touch. Then I decided to be nicer to myself – and allow my heart to take the lead. It’s amazing how things work out. People show up in our lives at the right times, for the right reasons. And sometimes that person is us – being home when the doorbell rings and a friend needs to talk.

I think one of the most beautiful things about friendship is that people are friends because they want to be – they choose each other. As we search for a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life, we realize we can’t do it alone. So we chose friends to help us along the way.

I love this quote from The Atlantic, “Friendship is a relationship with no strings attached, except the ones you choose to tie, one that’s just about being there, as best as you can.”

Some of my most treasured friends are the ones who are willing to forgive long lapses in communication, because they feel life’s obligations, as well. When we finally pick up the phone, grab a cup of coffee, or schedule a road trip to each other’s homes, everything falls right back into place. We become the same people we were the last time we talked. That has to be one of the best kept secrets of friendship. And I’m incredibly thankful for all of them.

Prompt: Which friendship are you most grateful for?

Join the conversation with a comment below or share on your social channels using #ThankfulThursday.

Oh, and how perfect is this…today starts the “buy one, share one” promotion at Starbucks. And if you go online, you can make a cute little e-card to send to someone special. I made this for my dear friend who just moved back to the states from France. “Hi, Ovey!!” Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 5.11.22 PM

Cheers to a happy week shared with friends – old and new!

-Kate

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Hello again!

Hello, friends! If you’ve been wondering where the heck I’ve been lately, not to worry. I was on a whirlwind, family-style adventure for the past few weeks, and now I’m back and ready to blog about it all.

Where exactly did I go?!

Our little family of five trekked up to Hastings, Minnesota for a family reunion. Then we headed down and over (very technical directions, I know) to Lincoln, Nebraska for my nieces’ wedding. It was a trip that took us two weeks and all the way through the entire state of Iowa. We saw lots of agriculture and wind farms (cue the 12-year-old boy jokes) and even a few rainbows spread across the sun-stormy skies.

rainbow

A beautiful rainbow over Somewhere, Iowa

Our whole adventure started with a full day’s drive to Owatonna, Minnesota where we visited Brandon’s sister and brother-in-law over cold beers and grilled burgers.

owatonna pic

We made it to MN! We’re in my SIL backyard next to a gorgeous koi pond.

But let me back up a bit.

If your family is at all like ours, the adventure actually begins before you even leave the driveway. First we had to stop off at the vet to drop off Rosie the Rabbit. That’s where she stays when we go out of town. That little bun arrives with more stuff than you’d pack for your first-born child. It’s pretty ridiculous. Once we got Rosie settled and said our dramatic good-byes, we moved to the task of shoving our suitcases, pillows, stuffed animals, coloring books, snacks, drinks, magazines, electronics and all of the associated chargers and adaptors into the car – and the car topper.

At one point, there wasn’t enough room for either Avery or Clara. Since it wasn’t an option to leave them Home Alone style, we rock-paper-scissored our way down to one stuffed animal each. When it was finally time to pull out of the driveway, we only had to de-program the house alarm twice to get things we forgot before we were officially on the open road headed for middle ‘Mercia.

family road trip

Road trip!!!! Of course Mr. Fluffers and Hershey made the cut.

Adventure Part One…Done!

Back to being in Owatonna. After our visit to this cute town, we decided to head to Mall of America before things kicked off at the family reunion. Now, I was a bit leery about this particular outing – only because this was our family’s second attempt at shopping here.

The first occurrence happened back when Evan was 3-years old and the twins were a mere 3-months old. We had a four-alarm meltdown right in the middle of Rain Forest Café where visitors were not able to distinguish between the sounds of automated rainstorms with screeching monkeys and our three whaling children. Our car was parked MILES away, and we could not get out of there fast enough. It’s a memory I’m still trying to forget, which is probably why my right eye started twitching the moment we pulled into the multi-storied parking garage.

I’m happy to report that all went well this time! There were a few screams, but only out of delight when we rode the roller coasters (yes, plural) and other crazy rides in Nickelodeon Universe®, which is smack dab in the middle of the mall. Evan found the Lego store, which was clearly marked by the two-story Transformer – made entirely of Legos.

IMG_5873

We also managed to find the Godiva Chocolatier store where we stuffed our faces with truffles like we were Lucille Ball. Aaaand…we ran into both of my brothers and their families. It was a delightful day – one I’ll be happy to remember for a long time.

Godiva chocolate store

Yes, we found the chocolates!

It was the perfect way to kickoff our reunion with the Clark family (my dad’s side), which started later that day.

Our reunions are special because they happen once every three years.

It’s amazing what can happen in that amount of time – both joyful and tragic. We spent the entire weekend catching up, hugging, laughing, eating, drinking, swimming, canoeing, and even praying together.

frisbee golf

This is just a few of my nieces and cousins who were there! They were the “frolfers” – frisbee golfers 😉

One of my favorite outings was a boat ride along the St. Croix river that docked in the darling town of Stillwater, MN. The mosquitoes there are no lie, but the views are worth the extra spritz of bug spray.

Homepage-SS-2-

River Boat on the St. Croix

Once we said our good-byes to all 85 or so family members, our little family headed to Nebraska where we spent the week helping my niece and (new) nephew prepare for their wedding. This is the same couple that I made a scrapbook for – which pulled together really well, btw!

Anyway, I may have to dedicate an entire post to this event, because it would be worth it. This couple is absolutely adorable, and I’m not just saying that because I’m their Aunt Kate. People unrelated to them say the same thing. They had a picture-perfect wedding, and I felt honored to be able to share in their joy.

emma and paul

I mean…look at that sweet couple. Am I right?

Talk about lots of family time!

We certainly enjoyed every minute of our trip. Well, except for a couple of bad decisions on gas station stops. #sanitizer All-in-all, it was a wonderful experience. I even picked up a few “rules of the road” I’ll share with you tomorrow on my Friday Wrap. It feels good to be back on the blog and I’m so glad you’re here.

Can’t wait to visit more tomorrow!

-Kate

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DIY: Jars of Joy

Jars of Joy

Designed by The Neat Nook

My girls and I recently attended a party that included the making of Jars of Happiness. One of the moms had smart words to share with this group of 3rd grade girls to set the stage for kindness, respect, and inclusion toward each other. Such important lessons for any age, but I especially like the idea of talking to my girls about this now. #nevertooearly

Party Pic

We had fun at the party, if you couldn’t tell.

The mom encouraged the girls to write happy friendship memories on little slips of paper and store them inside the jar. At the end of the year, they can go back and see all of the kindness that filled their year. How sweet is that?

Jar of Happiness

These were the jars the girls made at their party. They used Mason jars with cloth stretched across the top. They cut a slit so the notes could easily slip inside. The initials were simply large stickers. Cute, right?

This project reminded me of a gift my son, Evan, gave me one Mother’s Day. He decorated an old Mason jar, wrote personal messages to me on slips of paper, and then tucked each of them down inside the jar. I was a puddle of tears when I opened the gift, and it’s still one of my most treasured gifts today. The jar sits on my nightstand, and every now and then I’ll dig into the jar to see what words of comfort my son will provide. I call this my Jar of Comfort, not to be confused with the one in my freezer containing vanilla ice cream.

Jar of Comfort

This is the jar from Evan. He took little pieces of tissue paper and glued them to the side of a Mason jar. Look at those sweet words, too. Talk about an instant boost in your day.

Evan’s gift actually inspired me to make something similar for one of my coworkers one Christmas. We drew names and had to make or find a gift that didn’t cost us anything. We had to get super crafty, so I decided to make a Jar of Joy. I found a clear, glass jar and spent the next hour or so typing 100 joyful messages for my friend. I printed them on bright colored paper and tucked them inside the jar. It was an easy gift, but one that was hopefully appreciated for many days (at least 100!) Here’s a printable list of 100 Days of Joy if you’d like to make your own!

Whether you make a jar to share with someone else or keep for yourself, this project is a great way to capture and organize your thoughts and share a bit of happiness. Call it whatever you’d like, too. As you saw, we have jars of happiness, comfort and joy in our house. Who wouldn’t want a little more of that goodness in their life?

Have an awesome day, and let me know if you try making one of these. I always love seeing pictures of your creations!!

<3 Kate

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Christmas Blessings

Hello, dear friends. It’s officially Christmas, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day filled with love, laughter and lots of good food! I gathered a few of my favorite sayings and song lyrics to celebrate the day. Feel free to share.

silent night

Source: Nest of Posies

sweetness

This one comes with a lesson in hand-lettering! Source: Skillshare (P.S. A great place to learn or hone your creative skills)

irish blessing

With my Irish roots, I had to include this family favorite. Source: Marie McKeown

Hugs and best holiday wishes,

-Kate

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The Best Gifts for Teachers

TeachersThis thankful Thursday is all about teachers. I’m willing to go out on a limb here to say teachers are some of the most patient, kind, humble and intelligent people on the planet. My sister, Debby, has been a 4th grade teacher for many years, and she certainly fits this description. Not all teachers are perfect (who is?), but they’re certainly special. So when it comes to making your Christmas list, be sure to check it twice for those teachers of yours.

Since the best gift is a thoughtful one, I asked a few teachers for some ideas. Here are the top five faves!

GiftCard#1 Gift cards: I was originally thinking of offering a slew of ideas besides gift cards, but after my research it became clear. These are by far the most favorite and preferred gift. If you’re worried about it not being personal, you can make it extra special by getting a gift card from your teacher’s favorite store and wrapping it in a box that’s her favorite color or fits her style.

These adorable gift card holders are on Etsy.

These adorable gift card holders are on Etsy.

Most teachers love gift cards from bookstores, craft stores, spas, coffee shops and local restaurants.

If you have a super organized group of parents, you can coordinate getting one big gift card, which will make that terrific teacher of yours feel like she’s getting a bonus. You could also purchase several smaller gift cards and display them on a photo holder with a pretty bow tied around the base. The holder makes a great desk accessory, too!

Photo Holder

Something like this would be perfect for holding gift cards.

Using a plant or little Christmas tree is another fun way to arrange an assortment of gift cards. My sister had a class use a lavender tree one year, and she said it was lovely.

This is a live tree with gift cards tied like ornaments.

This is a live evergreen tree with gift cards tied like ornaments.

Speaking of group gifts…

#2 Gift Baskets: Jump on a site like SignUpGenious or BringIt to make a list of your teacher’s favorite things. Have each family sign up to bring one item, and then turn it into a big gift basket. That way your teacher gets items she loves or needs – and ensures she doesn’t get another dozen coffee mugs.

One thing NOT to give teachers is coffee mugs. Their desks, counters and cabinets are brimming with mugs, and they don’t need any more to add to the stash.

coffee mug

As cute as this is, just walk away! That goes for knick-knack ornaments, too.

#3 Goodies: I know it might seem like teachers live at school. I thought that when I was little. I’d see a teacher at the grocery store and think, “What are you doing here – in public?” Spoiler alert, teachers have lives outside of school. Many of them are working parents, too. They don’t have much time for things like baking, so edible gifts are a welcomed treat for them to enjoy and take home to their families.

Christmas Goodies

These are peanut butter cookies with M&M features and mini chocolate-covered pretzels for antlers.

If you go the route of homemade treats, be sure you’ve tested the recipe and packaged the goods in a new container that looks appetizing. No one likes sketchy food – even if it is dipped in chocolate.

#4 Board Games: Teachers usually have to provide their own supplies, books and games for the classroom. So checking your teacher’s wish list is always a thoughtful idea. In addition to stocking up on Post-its and pencils, think about adding a fun board game to the class. With a long winter ahead, a quick game of Cranium or Bananagrams might be the ticket to a teacher’s sanity. Here’s an awesome list from Education.com that recommends games by age group starting at preschool.

cranium

Our family loves Cranium.

#5 Handwritten Notes: Good old-fashioned letters that are written from the heart always make priceless gifts. Pretty much every teacher’s goal is to help children, so to receive hand-written confirmation that they’re making a difference in a child’s life can be incredibly affirming and joyful. You definitely can’t go wrong with this gift!

I hope this was helpful. If you’re a teacher, let us know what else you’d add to this list.

May you all have a day full of gratitude! #ThankfulThursday

-Kate

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Handmade Pet Gifts

Rosie ChristmasThis week’s shout out goes to Rosie, my pet rabbit. We boarded her at the vet while we were out of town last week for Thanksgiving, and I really missed that fuzzy little friend of mine. She’s always well cared for at Dr. Lyon’s. In fact, they give her a private room away from the cats and dogs when she stays there. She’s pretty much the most spoiled rabbit in all the land, but I still missed taking care of her and seeing her sweet face every day.

If you have a pet of any kind, I know you totally understand. Pets have a way of making room in your heart. They’re always ready to snuggle or just sit and chill after a hectic day. They quickly become part of your family. So when it comes time for Christmas, I like to include Miss Rosie on the gift list.

With that said, I recently found some cute DIY pet gifts. While I don’t have a cat or dog (yet), some of my friends and family do, so I have a few ideas in here for them. A happy pet makes a happy owner, you know.

Here are a few of my top picks:

 Rope Toy for Dogs

This project just requires a few clean dish towels. I love the simplicity of this idea. I’m going to make a few of these for our local shelter.

If you and your family are looking for ways to give back to your community, call your local shelter to see what they need. Food is usually welcomed, but sometimes they just need a few extra hands to help wash blankets and socialize with the animals.

Food Tin for Dogs or Cats

Food Tin

Source: Tidy Mom

This goodie is inspired by Ballard Designs. I’m thinking you could use acrylic paint and stencils if you didn’t want to go the route of vinyl stickers. If you’re feeling extra generous, go ahead and fill the tin with some food or treats before gifting.

Feather Toy for Cats

Feather Cat Toy

Source: Martha Stewart

This toy uses felt that’s cut to look like feathers, but you could easily use real feathers from a craft store. We had a neighbor cat that would come to play on our front porch every now and then, and I discovered that a feather is to cats as One Direction is to teenage girls. They. go. crazy.

Treat Box for Rabbits, Hamsters or Guinea Pigs

Bunny Treat Box

Source: Bunny Approved

Kleenex has some of the prettiest tissue boxes right now. I might use one of those as the base. The picture pretty much stops here. I’m going to kick it up a notch by filling the paper tubes with timothy hay and making it a full-on treat box. I’ll wrap the whole thing with tissue paper, secure it with a cute twine bow, and boom – it’ll be fit for any furry friend big or small.

Store-bought treats

If you don’t have time to make anything, not to fret. Check out Three Dog Bakery out of Kansas City for the most amazing treats for dogs – and cats! Any of their items would make perfect stocking stuffers or gifts. I mean, who could resist a cup of Beg Nog? Beg Nog LatteIf you want some bun-bun treats, look no further than the Busy Bunny. Rosie will be getting several of these willow “candy” canes in her stocking this year.CandyCane

Here’s hoping your furry friends have the merriest of Christmases and a hip hoppin’ new year!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving MessageHello, sweet friends. I hope you’re having the best Thanksgiving so far filled with scrumptious turkey and all the fixin’s. I know I am. Why is this not also National Yoga Pant day? Not that anyone is doing any actual exercising, though.YogaWhat will we be doing? Well, I thought it would be fun to share a few of our family traditions.

  • We always travel to Nebraska to visit the in-laws, as well as my sister KJ and her sweet family. So I get to partake in two Thanksgiving meals, making me one thankful girl.
    Nebraska...the good life

    The sign speaks truth.

  • If we don’t oversleep (because my amazing in-laws let Brandon and I sleep in while they hang out with the kids who wake up like roosters), we catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love the fanfare, the creativity, and the death-defying inflatables cruising down the street.
    Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

    That is one big turkey.

  • We watch college football like most of America. I should probably clarify. Brandon watches football while I sit next to him catching up on the latest issue of Real Simple and the kids play games on their phones. It works for us. With the Huskers not playing so well the past few weeks, football has turned into a sore subject with the hubs. “Want the November or December issue, honey?”
    Husker Power

    “Please play well, Huskers. My husband’s joy depends on it.”

  • As you may have read on an earlier post, Brandon and I were married on Thanksgiving weekend, so we always carve out some time for each other. This year we’re headed to Lied Lodge in Nebraska City – home of the National Arbor Day Foundation. Gorgeous trees and apple orchards everywhere. I’ll share some pics on Instagram: @katejandersen.
    Lied Lodge & Conference Center

    Lied Lodge & Conference Center

    I’d love to hear about your family traditions. Share in the comments, Tweet or tag me on Instagram. In the meantime, have a wonderful day. I’m thankful you’re here!

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Thankful Thursday: New Paint!

This week I’m thankful for finally getting our bedroom painted. Brandon and I have been wanting to freshen up the color for quite some time and other things kept cutting in line – like replacing the dishwasher and tires on the car. You know how it goes.

So this week it finally happened. We scheduled our favorite paint guy (Kim Valentine for anyone who lives in NWA), and I came home from work yesterday to the finished product. It was so worth having my clothes and bedroom furniture sprawled all around the living room for two days. Even if I was heckled by my kids for the amount of clothes I had shoved into my closet.

For the color we went with Quiet Moments from Benjamin Moore. The description on the website says, “Tranquility seems to ooze from this light, blue-gray that inspires moments of quiet meditation. This soothing shade creates a look of elegance and simplicity.” Um, yes, please. I’ll take several gallons – for my entire house.

The color is perfect with our bedding, too. We have the Charlie Paisley from PB. If you can’t find me for a few days, I’ll be the one sleeping in the tranquility of quiet meditation.

Charlie Duvet

Charlie Paisley Organic Duvet Cover from Pottery Barn

Oh, one other thing I’m thankful for this week (and actually discovered in this painting process) is Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Whaa? Where have these been all my life, and why hasn’t anyone told me about them sooner? Magic EraserWe had a few scuffs on our doorways and closet shelves that were driving me crazy. The freshly painted walls made the scuffs look even worse. They looked dirty and just wouldn’t wash off – or so I thought. Enter, Magic Erasers. A few good swipes and just like the name says, all of the scuffs were erased. Magically. Needless to say, I was wiping practically every surface in the house. I swear, if they ever want to do one of those cheesy infomercials on how awesome they work, sign me up. No pride here.

So those are some of the highlights of the week so far. I’d love to hear some of your discoveries and what makes you feel thankful. Comment on the blog or post on Twitter or Instagram using #ThankfulThursday so everyone can share in your happiness.

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A Thankful Thursday

Hello, friends. I think I’m going to start writing about the things I’m thankful for each week. What better time to start something like this than the month of Thanksgiving, right? I appreciate all of the blessings in my life, and I know you do, too. So I hope you’ll join me by either adding comments on the blog or sharing on your social channels. Use #ThankfulThursday or tag me so I can see your posts!

Here we go…

Love Notes

I spread out a few of my faves for you to see.

Today I’m feeling thankful for all of the treasures my kids give me. I recently opened the drawer to my nightstand, which is where I keep my kids’ love notes and trinkets. I decided to read through all of their handwritten messages and sort through the beaded bracelets, knitted pouches and tissue-paper flowers. One of my favorites is a mason jar filled with “hugs.” My daughter Avery made this and told me she poked holes in the top like a saltshaker so I could sprinkle out a hug when I needed one (which is every day from that sweet thing).

I still have notes that date back to my son Evan’s first words. I love how sometimes I’m taller than a house and have flowers growing in my hair, and other times I’m bald wearing a triangle dress and square shoes. As I sort through all of these notes, one thing is clear. No matter how I look or change on each paper, I’m loved equally the same. It’s amazing how you can literally feel someone’s love jump off a page.

I wish I could keep every single drawing, but if you’re a parent you get it. The volumes of notes can get a bit out hand. You have to pick and choose the keepers and pray your kid doesn’t see the leftovers in the trash.

I’ll never forget when Avery found one of her drawings in the kitchen trash. When I saw the look on her face, I felt like crawling into the can right next to that crumpled up piece of paper. Needless to say, I learned to dispose of any “leftovers” discreetly and directly into the trashcan on the side of the house where no one ever goes (other than my husband Brandon, and he’s in this thing with me). I also learned not to feel too guilty about tossing things. I found a great quote that helped put things in perspective…Gratitude Quote

While I don’t have to keep everything my kids give me, I do need to take time to appreciate each and every item.

It’s important – and enough – to be grateful.

I’m thankful for that lesson, and it certainly helps when it comes time to weed through papers and make a quiet trip to the side of the house. At the end of the day I know I’ve given proper hugs and shared my deep appreciation of their love – which lives far beyond my nightstand drawer.

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