Friday, December 23, 2011

Sara the Elf is Not on the Shelf

Every morning when Kaylicious and Zazu wake up, they run to find out where Sara, our Elf on the Shelf, is hiding or what kind of mischievous elf adventures she may have had the previous night. Sara the Elf is never on our shelf.  The girls always discover Sara in some silly hiding place or frozen precariously in the middle of a crazy adventure. They both think Sara's hi-jinks are absolutely hilarious. They laugh so hard every time, especially Kaylicious, that they crack me up too. Recently they’ve found Sara perched on a castle wearing a tiara, swinging from the ceiling fan, riding Kaylicious’ piggy bank and chilling out on our wreath.

Don't forget to check out and/or join my Elf on the Shelf Link Party for more Elf on the Shelf ideas and adventures:

I Caught Santa!

This is so fun!  Imagine the look of wonder and surprise when your kids receives a photo of Santa caught in the act in your very own home. is a unique website that helps visitors create those memorable keepsake photos.

In three easy steps anyone can upload a holiday photo, add Santa Claus and print it as proof… or share it via Facebook and/or Twitter. Last-minute shoppers can purchase Gift Cards and eGift Certificates for loved ones with children, making a great gift idea even if you don't have your own children.  It costs $9.99, but you can make yours for half off using code: SANTA50

I am definitely doing this, just need to wait until I get Kaylicious and Zazu's gifts all wrapped and under the tree, so I can snap a photo!  They're going to love it! I will post our photo here once it's done!

If you get your own photo, leave me a comment with a link, so we can all check it out!  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Elf on the Shelf Link Party

In this final week before Christmas, are you running out of ideas for your Elf on the Shelf?  Are you actually considering hiding your elf on a shelf? If so you've come to the right place.  I'm gathering the best Elf on the Shelf ideas in the entire Blogosphere right here at Counting on Me, so you'll find Elf inspiration galore to get you through the week and many Christmases to come!  Don't forget to leave comments for the Elf on the Shelf posts that you like the best.

Join the Party: If you got a great Elf on the Shelf post, please link to the party!  We can wait to check it out.  Please follow the rules and use the Blue "Add Your Link" Button below to join the party.  You can  add as many different Elf links as you want.

I made this graphic using PSE 8, an adorable freebie from (I Love Them.) and what some might consider to be way too much time, but since I like the end result, I'm going to chalk it up to time well spent improving my Photoshop skills.

Thanks for coming to the party! You can use the following code to provide a link back to this party on your page, just cut and paste it into your html editor:
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Elf on the Shelf Party"></a>
Elf on the Shelf Party

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sara the Elf on Our Shelf

Our elf arrived last weekend from the North Pole and Kaylicious immediately named her "Sara."  Zazu has bounced back and forth between calling her Sara and "Elfant" which seems to be a combination of elf and elephant.

Here's Sara hanging from our entry way light.  
I used PSE 8 and a free quick page from Free Digital Scrapbooking to make this graphic.
We've had a busy week with Sara.
  • We've read Sara's Elf on the Shelf book multiple times.
  • Kaylicious was concerned that Sara wouldn't be able to fly to North Pole, if she didn't take the plastic off her box right away. 
  • Had a make your own sundae party to welcome Sara.
  • Watched  "The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story"  (Kaylicious spotted Sara in one of the elves' dance numbers).
  • Taken Sara to visit Santa at the mall, after Zazu accidently touched Sara with her foot, zapping her elf power. Thankfully, Santa was able to give Sara her elf powers back, since it was an accident.
  • Talked extensively about Sara and discussed how she flies, and what she does when were not  watching.  Ever inquisitive,  Kaylicious has endless questions and thoughts about Sara.
  • She has also asked if we could keep Sara after Christmas.  She says she loves her and will miss her if Sara goes back to live at the North Pole.   
  • Once I realized our Elf on the Shelf was a girl, I started thinking about more little elf outfits for her.  I've seen the Claus Couture Scout Elf Skirt, but it seems like there should be a whole line of little elf clothes.  What's a girl elf to do? One red leotard and one skirt most definitely does not qualify as a full Elf wardrobe.  I thought for sure someone would have any Etsy shop selling Elf on the Shelf fashions, but so such luck.  If you know where to find elf on the shelf clothes, please leave me a comment.  I know Sara's inner-elf fashionista is dying to come out.
Make Your Own Sundae Welcome Party for Sara the Elf
Make Your Own Sundae Elf on the Shelf Welcome Party
We've found Sara getting into mischief and hiding all around our house. After losing her elf powers once with the touch of tiny two-year-old toes, Sara has tried to stay up a bit higher out of Zazu's reach.  Also, since Zazu and Kaylicious are only two and three years old, I think Sara tries not to make her hiding spots too difficult to find.  Each time Kaylicious has found Sara, she has squealed and laughed with delight.

Here are some of Sara's hiding places this week:
  1. On top of our Christmas tree 
  2. Going wild with streamers
  3. Hanging upside down from a ceiling light
  4. Sunning herself on the top our window blinds
  5. Sitting on top of our kitchen cabinets -- Sadly, she got her feet caught in the cabinet and banged around that night trying to free herself for her trip to the North Pole, but she was stuck.  
  6. Riding Kaylicious' Piggy Bank
  7. Sitting on top of an alarm sensor in our living room, where she could hang out with us and watch us all day.
    Sara the Elf on top of Our Christmas Tree 

    Elf on the Shelf Party
    Check my Elf on the Shelf Link Party.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our Elf is Here!

Our The Elf on the Shelf is here. I've got our Tivo set up to record "The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story" about an elf named Chippey who tries to help a young boy who is struggling to believe in the magic of Christmas. It will be on WJZ 13 Baltimore, our local CBS station, this Friday night at 9:30.  Now, all I need is my little girls home from visiting their Nana in New Jersey, and we'll be ready to get this tradition started.

If you have any tips or creative ideas for introducing our Elf to my two and three year old daughters, please share them by leaving me a comment!

Elf on the Shelf Party Going on Now!
Check out and/or join my Elf on the Shelf Link Party for more Elf on the Shelf ideas and adventures:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Elf on the Shelf

iconDo you have an Elf on the Shelf?  When I first saw the Elf on the Shelf a couple years ago, I thought it  was cute but a little odd. After learning more and seeing so many adorable Elf on the Shelf ideas on Pinterest, I think I am going to head over to Barnes&Noble and take the plunge.  Kaylicious and Zazu are visiting their Nana in New Jersey right now, and I think it will be exciting to have their Elf here when they return.

Here's the Story behind the Elf on The Shelf:
Have you ever wondered how Santa knows who is naughty and who is nice? The Elf on the Shelf – A Christmas Tradition is the very special tool that helps Santa knows who to put on the Naughty and Nice list. This interactive holiday hide-and-seek tradition is perfect for children and families of all ages.

The tradition begins when Santa sends his scout elves out to Elf Adoption Centers. Waiting for their families to bring them home, these patient elves hibernate until their family reads The Elf on the Shelf, gives their elf a very special name, and registers their adoption online. Once named, each scout elf will receive its Christmas magic and become a part of the family’s Christmas each and every year.

Excellent listeners and even better observers, these scout elves are the eyes and ears of Santa Claus. Although they cannot be touched, or else they may lose their magic, the elf will always listen and relay messages back to Santa. Taking in all the day-to-day activities around the house, no good deed goes unnoticed; these scout elves take their job seriously.
Each night, after the family goes to bed, the scout elf uses his magical Christmas powers to fly back to the North Pole. Once there, the elf will make his or her daily report to Santa and visit with elf friends where they will tell stories about their beloved families, play with the reindeer, and of course, sneak some of Mrs. Claus’ cookies!
Before the family awakes each morning, their special scout elf will fly back to their home from the North Pole. However, since these elves like to play games, don’t expect to find them in the same spot! While some like to hide in the freezer (probably because it reminds them of the North Pole) and others prefer to sit on the fireplace mantle or hang from the chandelier, these elves love to play hide-and-seek with their families.
On Christmas Eve, the scout elf will listen for Santa’s bell and then fly back to the North Pole until the next season, wishing every girl and each boy a Christmas of peace and a year full of joy.
Source: via Shannon on Pinterest
iconI love the idea of starting a new holiday tradition with my daughters. With virtually endless opportunities for mischievous holiday fun, I think The Count and I may enjoy "The Elf on the Shelf" every bit as much as Kaylicious and Zazu do.

You can check out my Elf on Shelf Board on Pinterest Here:
Elf on the Shelf Ideas on Pinterest

Send Me Some Elf Love:
I Want Hear About Your Elves . . . If you have an Elf on your Shelf, please share your thoughts.   Leave me a comment, telling your best Elf idea or your funniest Elf moment.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Knot Top Sewing Project

One of my goals for the year is to do 50 craft projects before my 35th birthday.  I have definitely been crafting up a storm, but I haven't been so great about keeping up with all my projects here on my blog.  Kaylicious wore one of my sewing projects from September on Thanksgiving and that spurred me to post about it.  
McCall's Pattern M6387
Matilda Jane Percy Knot Dress

I absolutely love Matilda Janes's knot dresses and tops, but my debit card
 doesn't like them one bit.  So when JoAnn's had a sale on McCall's patterns in September, I scooped up McCall's M6387 -- Children's/Girls' Top, Jumpers, Detachable Aprons and Pants for $1.

Before this project, the last time I had successfully used a sewing pattern was in 8th grade Home Ec. Class.  The pattern was labeled as "Easy," but I was worried that it might turn out to be beyond my skill set.

The knot dress* top was a bit of a challenge to say the least, but in the end it turned out really cute.  The Count (my husband) helped me select the fabric and trim for this project.  I wanted the fabrics to go together without being too matchy matchy. The Count is surprising good at that sort of thing.  I am more of an completely matched or terribly clashing sort of fabric chooser.

*I had originally planned to make a knot dress, but I struggled so much with the upper ruffle that I couldn't bring myself to try it again with even more fabric for the lower ruffle.  Between broken and stuck thread while trying to gather the material, fabric that shouldn't have been part of the ruffle getting accidently stitched into the seam, and not being able to get the circumference of  my ruffled "skirt" to line up with the circumference of the bodice, my seam ripper and I became very well aquainted.  I am definitely going to need some more practice with gathering before I attempt this again.  If you have a tried and true method or know of a great tutorial that has worked for you when gathering two yards or so of fabric while making clothing for small children , please don't be shy.  I need help, please leave me a comment.

Two things I learned during this project that were much easier than I anticipated were how to make button holes and sew on buttons using my sewing machine.  If only the gathering had been that easy, my little ones would probably have a whole closet of these adorable tops and dresses by now.

As challenging as the process was for me, I love the end result.  The knot top is kind of tunic length right now and very versatile.  Here's Kaylicious sporting it on a warm day with capris:

The apron with its green monkey trim is detachable, but it really makes the top, so Kaylicious hasn't worn it without the apron.  The straps are adjustable, just untie them and re-knot however you like.  

Here she is wearing the same top with a white eyelet long-sleeve swimsuit cover up (Sometimes, it's good not to discriminate about season or purpose when it comes to your wardrobe.), thick brown knit tights and furry boots on Thanksgiving.
Isn't she a cutie?

I feel like I'm always crafting, but this is only my 5th project of the year that I have posted about.  I am going to work on catching up, so stay tuned for more craft projects soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and were able to enjoy some quality time with your loved ones.  If you're like most Americans, you probably also overdid it with the Thanksgiving goodies.  Did you know that to burn off the calories from the average Thanksgiving dinner you have to walk, jog, or run a full-length marathon?  That's 26.2 miles. Scary, huh?  Even scarier . . . the left-overs!  Many of you will eat that same meal again tomorrow and the next day.  Unless you're one of those wild and crazy ultra-marathoners (and I know a few of my followers are), I hope you will try to find some balance this weekend . . . a few less left-over Thanksgiving calories and a little more exercise.

The Infographic below breaks Thanksgiving dinner down by calories and by the miles of walking, running or jogging required to burn it off.

If you can't read the print, you can click the image for a larger view of the graphic or press Ctrl and + at the same time on your keyboard to enlarge everything on your screen. (Pressing Ctrl and - at the same time will decrease the size when you are done.)

A Thanksgiving Milestone for Me

Since this is Counting on Me, I thought I'd also share a little milestone that I celebrated today.  Today was the 22nd anniversary of the day I became a vegetarian.  That's 21 years meat free . . . no red-meat, no poultry, no pork, no seafood.  I chose Thanksgiving to officially go vegetarian because there are so many great meat-less side-dishes on Thanksgiving, I figured I would never miss the turkey.  I didn't miss it way back then and I never have since.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Playaway View: Have you seen these yet?

The library near our house, the Abingdon Branch of the  Harford County Public Library, is a fantastic and free resource for me as a mom of two small children and it just got even better.  They recently started lending the Playaway View.  In a single word, the Playaway View is AWESOME!  At 3¾ and and almost 2 respectively, Kaylicious and Zazu absolutely love them, and so do I.

The new Playaway View is so easy and so portable.  Our library allows me to check out two Playaway Views at a time and keep them for one week each.  I can carry them in my purse and hand them to the girls, while I am running errands or doing other tasks for which toddlers only have so much patience.  I love that I can give each child her own Playaway View, especially at times when they are not sharing well or can't seem to keep their hands to themselves. The Playaway Views are the perfect little distraction to help keep my girls from fighting with each other, crying, screaming or whining while we are out in public or for long car rides!

Playaway View is the first and only pre-loaded video player. Each View can hold multiple hours of digital video content while keeping with the Playaway promise of simple, portable and durable. With the best educational and entertainment content out there,  Playaway Views are currently exclusive to libraries
  • Pre-loaded with multiple videos
  • Full color LCD screen with shatter-resistant acrylic screen
  • Built-in speaker and optional headphone jack
  • Rechargeable internal lithium-polymer battery provides over 8 hours of continuous play
  • Simple 7 button functionality
  • Weighs only 5.4 ounces
Who's Playaway View For?
  • Toddlers/Kids: These durable devices can go wherever they go; with content from Sesame Street to Little Pim, it's a great way to learn and grow
  • Teens: Shakespeare, National Geographic and more—school-work has never been so fun
  • Busy parents: No downloads or internet needed; each View is pre-loaded with multiple videos from top studios across the nation
Have you tried the Playaway View Yet? If so, please leave me a comment with your or your child(ren)'s favorite titles. Sesame Beginnings and Sesame Street Numbers & ABCs are the only titles we've tried so far, but my daughters are already requesting countless other titles for the Playaway Views.  Our library has a decent-sized collection considering that they just started offering them, but I already can't wait for them to get even more titles.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I just discovered that Google is now offering Google+ Pages for businesses and brands, so I created a Google+ Page for Counting on Me.  If you're on Google+ you can find Counting on me here:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pinteresting, Very Pinteresting

I have a new obsession. It's Pinterest. Are you on Pinterest yet? I'm totally addicted. It is without a doubt my favorite web site in along time.
What is Pinterest? Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. Pinterest is by invitation only, but if you leave me a comment including your email address, I'd be happy to send you an invite.

This is a screen print of my Pinterest.

You can find and follow me on Pinterest here:
Follow Me on Pinterest

You can find links and photos of all kinds of crafty, yummy, fashionable and funny stuff plus much, much more on Pinterest and save them all to your pinboards.  It's like a super, awesome visual version of  your favorites or bookmarks, but everything is organized on boards instead of in folders and each link has a photo, so you (and everyone else) can see it all in a glance.  I first discovered Pinterest right after I started writing this blog, when I realized that thousands of people were visiting my blog with the majority coming from Pinterest.  Thousands of visitors  from a site I had never heard of . . . I was definitely intrigued.  I'm so glad I checked it out, because I love it.

I made this and few other Pinterest signs below.  Feel free to grab it!

I have found Pinterest to be very well designed and user-friendly.  The only issue I ever have is that it sometimes runs slowly or gets overloaded, but it usually rights itself within a few minutes.  Could it be that too many pinners are pinning too many pins?  Nah . . . impossible!  I have a feeling the creators of Pinterest were just not expecting such a HUGE response quite so quickly.

Pinterest 101:
If you are new to Pinterest The Daily Digi has a great tutorial:

And for the already well-initiated, here are some great Pinterest-related pins I've come across:

Officially Addicted to Pinterest

If you like it then you shoulda put a pin on it!
Pinterest is taking over my life (but I love it).

Pintervention . . . I may be headed down that road.

Go ahead and Curate the Internet. You know you want to.
I don't always repin . . . 
Here are few Pinterest Freebies that I made just for you.  If you like them, please feel free to grab them for your own use.  Linking back to this blog and following me on Google Friends Connect, Pinterest or Facebook are not required, but always appreciated.

These are .JPEGS on White Backgrounds:

These are .GIFs on transparent backgrounds:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Meatless Monday Recipe Roundup

Welcome to the first Meatless Monday Recipe Roundup. This is my first Meatless Monday Recipe Link Party, but I am hoping if it is successful to host it regularly.  Whether you are a life-long vegetarian like me or just looking for some meatless recipes to try, this party is for you!
Grab a Meatless Monday Recipe Button. 
Here's the code:

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