New Years Eve Balls!

We are getting SO excited for New Years Eve at the Johnson home!! We are doing something very special earlier in the day, but I'll get into that next week :) Later we plan to party hard to ring in the new year...with our little ones of course ;)
My oldest has been talking alot about watching the New Years Eve Ball drop, and since I don't QUITE think she'll make it up that late, I wanted to make some New Year's Eve Balls for us so she could still enjoy the glitter and glam of New Years!

The best part about this project was that I got almost all of the supplies at Walmart in their 75% off Christmas clearance! Gotta love a deal :)

I somehow forgot to include the styrafoam balls in the picture...they are only the most important part ;) But to decorate these cuties I used a garland of silver tinsel, black paint and glitter, and silver mini-bows.
My favorite ball was the glitter ball. I painted it black and while it was still wet dumped WAY too much silver glitter all over it :) Once it was dry I hot glued a white ribbon to the top so we could hang them up until tomorrow.

The tinsel ball was just as easy. I just hot glued it around and around til it had a full look that I liked. Then I trimmed a little bit of the fuller parts to make it more circular.

Finally the mini-bow ball! I just hot glued little bows all around the ball...pretty self-explanatory right?! :)
I absolutely LOVE how they turned out and think I will be making these in all different colors to decorate for Christmas next year! :)

Thanks for coming by today and I hope you and your family have a wonderful, SAFE, New Years!!
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Family Motto 2012

I LOVE the start of a new year! A fresh beginning, a chance to be better in some things, and let some things go.

Paul and I decided this year we wanted to choose a family motto that would help us as we strive to grow closer as a family, and have a better spirit in our home. As I was thinking about what our family really needed, a tune kept coming into my head. I mentioned it to Paul and he thought it was perfect for the Johnson Family Motto of 2012!

Love is spoken here!
As we talked about how we want our home to be, I thought about how home should be a safe place, a place where no matter how harsh the world is, you can always go and feel loved and special.
In an effort to make that more of a reality for us I made this printable and quickly painted this old wood frame to display on our mantle all year long!
I love how it turned out, but mostly I love the wonderful reminder that it is for me. Honestly...right after I put it up my kids starting fighting upstairs over which characters they were from Backyardigans (does anyone elses kids do this?!) and I was about to yell up at them to knock it off (not so nicely :) One look at my sign reminded me that our home NEEDS to have that spirit of kindness, patience, charity and LOVE.
So tell you choose a family theme at your house? If so, what is it?! I would love to hear what is working for you in your home and your great ideas! Thanks for checking us out today and enjoy this New Year's with the people you love the most!
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New Year's Neighbor Gifts

Hey Everyone!! I hope you all had a most fabulous Christmas with your loved ones! We certainly did. I loved that Christmas fell on a Sunday this year...we woke up, ate breakfast and headed off for church. I couldn't believe how good the kids were about waiting to open presents, and it was the perfect way to kick off the day, celebrating the birth of our Savior.

The week before Christmas was a little bit crazy at our house. A nasty stomach bug ran its course and threw all my plans for a loop! Some things had to be put on hold...and one of them was neighbor gifts for Christmas. I figured I can't be the ONLY one who dropped the ball, so I thought I would share my super easy New Years Neighbor Gifts :)

Yep...that's it! A bottle of Martinelli's, snowflake ornament, matching ribbon and tag! Doesn't get much easier than that!

I made this super simple tag using the Silhouette and just printed them out, hole-punched, and tied on with a fun ribbon and matching snowflake ornament.

Simple and quick, but still shows those awesome neighbors how grateful you are for them!
Thanks so much for stopping by Blue Skies Ahead today! I have some fun projects coming up that I can't wait to share. I LOVE the start of a new year and all the organizing, revamping, and crafting that comes with it! Hope you all have a VERY happy New Years!


Elf Hunt!

One of our favorite holiday traditions is to go to Gardner Village and go on our annual Elf Hunt! This year we decided to go a little bit more prepared...

Big Christmas pencils tied to clipboards with the elf hunt attached...made the elf hunt MUCH more enjoyable for mom :) And yes, there is a little 2-year old in the background crying his little heart out. Should have been my first sign it wasn't going to be easy! I actually took this pic yesterday...halfway to our destination my little guy threw up everywhere! We had to reschedule our elf fun for today, but I am SO glad we did!

Even though it was freezing, we all had a fantastic time searching high and low for those silly elves! I was really proud of my kids, they had a wonderful time in spite of the fact, they didn't want to leave :)

Everyone perked right up once we went to the bakery and got some hot chocolate to warm us up!

Do you remember being little and the magic of trying to catch a snowflake on your tongue?! I am so in love with this picture.

I am so glad we were able to make it out to Gardner Village today. I kept thinking of all the things I needed to do, and how cold it was, and literally talked myself out of it 3 or 4 times. However, my love of tradition got us there, and it was truly magical. Christmas music playing, a light snow falling, the smell of hot chocolate in the air, and my kids with bright red noses and huge smiles on their faces :)

Happy Holidays everyone!


Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Need a simple, tasty, last-minute cookie recipe??

You have come to the right place! :)
My friend told me about these babies over the weekend and I have made several batches since. They are simple, quick and YUMMY...all my requirements for cookies :)

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies!

These are basically homemade Oreos with a twist. Here's what you need to get started:

Devils Food Cake Mix

2 eggs

3/4 C shortening or margarine

Candy Cane Hershey Kisses

First up you mix up your cake mix, eggs and shortening. Cook these babies for 8-9 minutes at 350 degrees.

Then instead of whipping up some frosting you are simply going to unwrap a bunch of these little yummies...

And place 2 on the baked cookies while they are still HOT out of the oven.

In just a few minutes they will start to melt and you can use a butter knife to spread them around to cover the top of your cookie.

Once your kisses are melted you add another cookie on top and you are done!



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Holiday-scented Playdough Gifts

My kids LOVE giving little gifts to their friends and cousins every year, and every year I try and come up with something fun, that they can help put together, and isn't too sweet! This year (thanks to Pinterest :) I found a great idea that we tweaked a little to give to all the cute little ones in my kids lives :)

I'm sure you have all seen the Gingerbread Playdough making the rounds on all the blogs out there :) Well, I made it last week with my kids and they LOVED it!! We had so much fun playing with it that we thought it would make a great gift as well. Because I can't do anything simple I thought it would be fun to make some other scents as well...Peppermint and Wintergreen. We packaged them up, added a cookie cutter, and here they are!

First have to make your playdough! This was so easy and fun, if you haven't made the homemade stuff before...DO IT! Your kids will love helping and they will feel so proud that they made their very own playdough! I used the Gingerbread Playdough Recipe from HERE

And to make the Peppermint and Wintergreen Playdough I used THIS basic playdough recipe with my special ingredients...

Food coloring and flavoring to give it that wonderful holiday smell! For the Wintergreen we used green food coloring and Wintergreen flavor, and for the Peppermint we used red food coloring and, you guessed it, Peppermint flavor. I just found the different flavors in the baking aisle at my local grocery store...just make sure your little ones know these are JUST to smell...not to eat :) Because of the different spices in the Gingerbread Playdough you don't need any food comes out a nice, pretty brown all on its own.

Now comes the fun part...the wrapping!! I wanted to get my kids in on the fun as well, so here is what we did!

Remember my love for brown paper sacks?? They're back! This time I took a cookie cutter (candy cane for the Peppermint Playdough, tree for the Wintergreen Playdough, and gingerbread man for the Gingerbread Playdough) and got out my acrylic paint. Then I let my kids make stamps on the paper bags to their little hearts content...I think they did a great job!!

Once our bags were all dry, I put a ball of playdough in a plastic baggie so it would stay sealed, dropped it in the paper bag, punched holes through the top and tied it off with ribbon and a fun little cookie cutter!

I don't know how I missed getting a picture of the Peppermint Playdough, but you get the idea :)

I loved that my kids could help with every part of this gift for their friends, including the handing out which we will be doing today!

Oh, I hope you are all just having a wonderful Christmas season!! We have a little stomach bug going rampant at our home, but I am just thankful we are getting it now and not this weekend :) Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out some of our last minute gift ideas!


Star-Themed Primary Class Gifts

In case anyone is like me and wanted to do a last-minute gift for the wonderful kids in their primary's a simple gift I prepared this morning for mine :)

I am all about using brown paper sacks for gift-giving this year! To make it a little more personalized I cut letters on my Silhouette and used them as a stencil. Then I just stamped the stencil with acrylic paint and added a little bit of glitter for the girls. I left the boys without glitter on this one :)

For inside the bags I made Rice Krispie treats and then used my cookie cutters to get them in these cute star shapes. If you are running low on time (who isn't?!) you could totally use the premade Rice Krispie treats as well. I wish I would have thought of that earlier...;)

Inside of the bag I put a card that says

"For hundreds of years Heavenly Father promised His children the birth of a Savior. The Star was the symbol of His fulfillment of that promise. Everytime you see the star perched high atop a Christmas Tree...remember this: Heavenly Father ALWAYS keeps his promises."

Then I included a personal note and tied it up with ribbon.

To complete the gift I got some matching ribbon and star ornaments. I got the ornaments at WalMart, $2 for 12 ornaments.

Then I just punched 2 holes in the bags, tied the ribbon in one knot, then added the ornament and knotted the ribbon one more time.

And there you have it, a simple gift for the kids in your life, with a great opportunity to bear your testimony that Heavenly Father loves us, knows us, and ALWAYS keeps his promises!

Thank you so much for stopping by! If you are last-minute like I am, keep checking back this week! We are making some super cute gifts for the kids' friends, yummy neighbor gifts, and a SUPER easy, delicious cookie recipe too! Have a wonderful day!


Pinecone Christmas Trees

Have you been looking for a simple, fast, FUN craft to do with your little ones this Christmas?

Look no further!!

This is one of those crafts that is so simple you feel silly blogging it...but I can't be the only mom that loves these kinds of things so I figured I would share :)

I found something HERE on Pinterest that inspired this little craft. We changed it up a bit to work better for small hands.
I love crafts that don't take a ton of prep or supplies...this one is simple in both aspects. Here are the fun Pinecone Christmas Trees we made.

These are as easy as the look :) All you need to get started are some pinecones spray-painted green. I used some of the cinnamon scented kids loved that they smelled too!

Then I just dumped out a bag of Mini Pom-Poms to use for our ornaments.

From there I let the kids go at it. They played for about an hour, decorating their little Christmas Trees. Once they finally settled on just the way they wanted them I hot-glued the pom-poms to the pinecones. My oldest daughter didn't want hers glued so she could decorate it again tomorrow :)

Yep...probably one of THE easiest crafts we have done, but the kids loved it. Just goes to show you sometimes simple is really best. Maybe I can keep telling myself that... ;)

Have a wonderful day everyone and thank you SO much for stopping by!!

Check it out!!

In a post HERE I wrote about the amazing experience I had attending the Time Out For Women conference in November. Since then I have loved following their blog and enjoying posts from Time Out presenters, stories from regular women like you and me :), and checking out the blogs they feature.

To my utter shock and amazement, yesterday they contacted me to see if they could feature MY little blog!


HERE is the link if you want to check it out, it is a wonderful blog that has so many inspiring stories and thoughts, a great way to stay on track and remember what things are really important in life.

Thank you so much Time Out For Women...its an honor!! :)


Christmas Symbols Countdown

One thing I have tried to do with my children since they were very young was teach them about the symbols of Christmas. I have tried to do this a bunch of different ways...but several years ago I finally found something that is fun for our family that has become one of our favorite traditions.

We have one of those little tabletop trees that newlyweds have in their new, teeny-tiny apartments :) One year I realized it would be fun to get different ornaments to represent the different symbols and hang them on our little tree. That simple idea has transformed into an advent of sorts and something we all really look forward too. All you need to do this fun activity with your family is a little tree and the following ornaments:

Christmas Tree
Candy Cane
Red ornament
Green ornament

There are more symbols of Christmas but these are the ones I use. I wrap up each ornament and every night starting on December 16th we unwrap one ornament, discuss what it symbolizes, and hang it on the tree. On Christmas Eve I always make sure we unwrap the Gift ornament, and we talk about the symbolism of the Greatest Gift of all time...the birth of our Savior and his Atonement.
I took pictures of each of the ornaments we have and put what they symbolize as well. I use THIS story to get the meanings of all the symbols.

This has become a precious tradition in our family and a wonderful way to help my children understand the true meaning of Christmas!
Thank you so much for stopping by today, I hope this maybe gave you one more way to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.