The Winter You Turned Four

Today Jack turns four. I never manage to write a birthday blog on time – I’m kind of the worst mom blogger in town on that score. The draft for his three-year old post is still sitting in WordPress never to be published…oops. But this year is different! We’ve already had cupcakes at school and Jack’s present is bought and wrapped. I have a few hours to sit by myself with no deadlines looming so let me ramble on about the joy of four.

The miracle of four. I love watching my kid grow up. You have to excuse me and Roger sometimes for the single-minded focus we can have. Separately we wished for this kid, prayed for this kid in our very individual ways. Then somehow those wishes and prayers were granted and all the years of waiting washed away. I’ll never say, “please don’t grow up”. I waited too long to have the chance to watch you grow, child of mine.

What an adventure this year has been! Jack started school which is AMAZING. You think you’ll never to get to school age and then you do. Huge step forward this year, kiddo. Sometimes we get to visit the classroom like when I brought cupcakes in this morning. He could barely sit still for me to take a quick birthday cupcakes picture:

this many NYCjenny

I love these looks into his independent life. So funny to go from 24/7 togetherness to a 8:30-2:30 school day. I think we’ve all adjusted brilliantly, if I do say so myself.

There are days when I walk down the sidewalk and every wobbly, little toddler I pass makes me sigh.  I remember those long days. Days of taking little walks around the neighborhood just for something, ANYTHING to do. Walking down to Second Avenue to stare at the subway construction was as good as any monster truck show you could pay money for. But man, those days were long and unrelenting. I pass these tiny, little kids now and I look at their mom or dad and I know how long their day is. It is so long. SO. VERY. LONG.

But there was so much sweetness in it I must remember. We’d curl up together for naps. I miss naps. Last night I was tempted to go sleep in Jack’s room. Not because I’m some weird-o who can’t let go, but just because I miss him being small and sweet and cuddly. He’s so tall and full of opinions now, and sometimes far too much sass for his own good.

I miss him being little.  It happened so fast and yet so slow. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the endless days of toddler tantrums and questions and woe. Those days were so very long. I don’t miss that part. No sir. It’s safe to say, preschool is pretty much rocking our world. Jack loves seeing his friends every day and learning new things. He’s fascinated with math concepts right now and that’s cool by me! The endless days of toddler woe and sunshine, flip-flopping faster than you can bribe with a fruit snack seem so long ago!

I must have been brooding on our endless days together because Mother Nature gave NYC the threat of a “historic blizzard” two weeks ago. It turned out to be a complete dud, but we were given a day off from school and instead of panicking I was ready to hang with my boy all day. I had stocked up on baking supplies and a fresh box of crayons ready. We were supposed to be stuck inside while a blizzard raged outside. Instead we woke to relative calm and 8 inches of snow. Snow that demanded sledding.

snow carl shurtz park nycjenny

So we did. We met friends from preschool on our nearby pedestrian street and when that got old, we hiked to the riverside for sledding in the park. For hours we played outside.

snow friends nycjenny

snow east river nycjenny

I hope he remembers the winter he turned four and the day we hung out sledding for hours. I hope he remembers that his dear old mom rode the sled down the fast hill with him, both of us shouting for joy. I hope he remembers finding the only deli open for blocks and how we had chocolate milk and cookies while sitting in the snow.

snow snacks nycjennyJack and me? We were having the best day.

snow selfies nycjennySnow days are news days though, and when your dad is a reporter…sometimes you get put on the news. Remember the winter this happened, Jack? I remember you shouting, “Oh my GOD that’s ME!”

Jack on NY1 NYCJennyYou’ll only have one winter you turn four, and we’re so lucky that we get to have days like these. Days to just be together and play. The winter you turned four, Jack, has been pretty amazing. Happy Birthday, kid. We love you more than we’ll ever be able to describe.

Jack Birthday Cake NYCJenny

 

 

Easy DIY Christmas Tree Memory Ornament

Yes, I realize it’s mid-January and perhaps not the best time to blog about Christmas related crafts, but my Pinterest feed is still jammed with holiday crafts and Instagram tells me that many of you are just now taking down your trees. Let’s all be comfortable in our procrastination together.

When we took our tree down earlier this month, we all got a little sentimental. It was our first Christmas tree together as a family, and Jack enjoyed it so much. Roger asked if we could keep a piece of it and I remembered seeing memento ornaments where you saw a circle from the trunk and use a wood burning tool to put the year on it. First thing – I don’t have a saw. Second thing – WOOD BURNING? We settled for snapping a small branch off. It sat on our kitchen counter drying out until I saw these beach ornaments and inspiration struck. I give you, the world’s easiest Christmas tree memento:

Christmas Tree Memory Ornament

Everyone knows the needles from your Christmas tree fall off far too easily. Scoop some up and put them in a little glass vial with a tag stating the year and anything special you want to remember. In future years I’ll probably stamp a tag like the beach ornaments, but I wanted to remember it was our FIRST tree so I just used my printer to print some tiny words on acid free paper. I used tweezers to keep the paper in front of the needles so the words are still visible. In future years I’d like it a little buried in the needles. This will do though. To finish your ornament off use two pieces of wire to create a hanger. Place one length in a loop over top of the vial and wrap the second around the neck of the vial to hold the loop in place.

Couldn’t be easier. No saw or wood burning required.

I left it on the table for Roger to see when he got home and he was really touched. Now we’ll always have a way to remember our first tree! And lest you think I’m crazy – Balsam or Fir needles have been used in crafts for decades. The Victorians were wild about sachets stuffed with Balsam. Those tree needles that drive you nuts falling from your Christmas tree keep their scent for years!

To recap, here’s all you need:

Christmas tree ornament supplies

  • Small glass vials – I used these Corked Vials by Tim Holtz Idea-ology. (affiliate link!)
  • Christmas tree needles
  • thin wire
  • paper and a printing method (pen, printer, stamps…your choice)

Go forth and craft, my friends! Twine would also be cute on top of these instead of wire. You could hang little embellishments on the neck… You could really go nuts with creativity, but I went for simple. Jack was able to help scoop the needles in and loved putting the cork in once it was filled. The family that crafts together you know!

So, have you taken your tree down yet? Be honest!

 

Celebrating Friendship This Holiday Season

The holidays are a wonderful season of celebration with family and friends. But they can also be stressful as we try to fit everything in! Spending time together is a gift especially as life gets ever increasingly busy. I am blessed with a circle of girlfriends that have been there for me time and time again, and truly held me up over the years. We first met through theater and became fast friends – they are my New York family. One of the best things my group of girlfriends does is our annual holiday party. We take time every December to pick an evening and gather to celebrate the season and our friendship. As the years pass careers have grown, marriages and children have entered – we’ve all gotten so busy! It might take us awhile to find a date we can all agree on, but calendars are cleared, spouses, boyfriends, and kids are told they’re on their own for the night, and we gather to have a little fun.

Gloria Ferrer Christmas

To keep things fun (and fair), hostess duties rotate each year. After the year I dropped a pumpkin pie face down on the kitchen floor five minutes before the first guest showed up, it’s quite frankly a relief to share that duty. We offer to bring food and/or drinks, whatever we can so that no one person is responsible for the whole thing. Partying is no fun if you’re too stressed to relax.  Thanks to Gloria Ferrer I was able to bring the drinks for the entire night! Warned that bubbly would be coming, my friend Nicole made these awesome drink tags for each of us. She chose a screen star legend for each of us and taped it to a candy cane with some sparkly jewels and hooked it over a glass. Part of the fun was guessing who she chose for each of us! I was Vivien Leigh – no surprise!

screen star glass charms

Nicole offered to cook for us, and I’m still dreaming of her ways with cheese and pomegranates. Theresa brought a flourless chocolate cake that wowed us. Rachel brought a ginger liqueur to add to the bubbly if anyone want to spice things up, and I can attest that it was delicious! Cara made us all homemade Irish Creme to have with dessert. The crowd favorite though was definitely the cheese plate, and everyone had fun tasting the different sparkling wines with them. The Sonoma Brut from Gloria Ferrer was a big hit with all the aged cheeses we had on hand. Having so many sparkling wines to try was really fun – we’re big fan of bubbly and firmly believe it adds so much to a celebration. When a show opens, when a show closes after a great run, at bridal showers or baby showers – it’s always a good idea to pop open a sparkling wine!

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut

Another fun thing we do is our annual “Better Than Your Office Party” gift swap. We use an online service to draw secret Santa names and have a little fun surprising each other. My secret Santa gave me a tiara! Absolute perfection and far better than anything I ever got in an office exchange!

tiara nycjenny

Holiday entertaining doesn’t have to be stressful to be perfect. We’ve learned over the years that all we really want is time together. Share the cooking and baking duties, and use the decorations that are already out this time of year. Taking the time to gather is what really counts.

ladies celebration

I’m so glad I have these beautiful friends in my life!

Disclosure: Gloria Ferrer supplied me with the sparkling wine to share, but all opinions are my own.

Keeping Myself Fueled Through December With the Keurig 2.0

Disclosure

December has proven, as usual, to be one heck of a month. It really started back in November though – preschool holiday shows, parties to prepare for, and epic feasts to cook. It’s a lot of fun, but to be perfectly honest, it’s exhausting! I’m staying up far too late working on little crafts, wrapping presents, and addressing a giant stack of holiday cards. Cards that should have been done two weeks ago! The traditional December lack of sleep is upon us, and my coffee maker is working overtime.
image

You can imagine my joy when Keurig offered me a chance to try out their new brewer, the 2.0 this month. CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY!!! I’ve been a Keurig fan for years – my trusty basic (first generation?) Keurig has stood by me through lots of early mornings and late nights. I’ve made converts out of my extended family, and converted my old office to Keurig as well. Being able to make just one cup of coffee instead of a whole pot is great when you’re the only coffee drinker in the house. As a sleep deprived new mom, it was helpful to not have to measure out grounds. I was so tired, I’d lose count!

The newest Keurig the 2.0 comes with a huge upgrade – it can now brew a 4 cup pot of coffee! A great feature for holiday entertaining or just getting life done. You can see the carafe in my photo above – definitely needed to power through a holiday card marathon!

Beyond the new carafe feature there are lots of little features that make me so happy with this upgrade. There are several cups sizes to choose from including 10 ounce which means my travel mug for the walk to school is finally filled up to the brim! There’s a “strong” selection too that you can press when brewing a coffee and it really does work. I can’t tell you how much I love this. A tall, strong, HOT, cup of coffee in seconds. This new brewer makes a much hotter cup of coffee than my older model.
image

It was definitely time for an upgrade. I love how it fits under my kitchen cabinets, and my little boy got a kick out of choosing the LED light color for the water chamber. He went with green for Christmas, of course! The touchscreen is beautifully simple to use too.

The new Keurig® 2.0 hot beverage brewing system  has a suggested retail price of $199.99. It has the ability to brew all of the more than 275 different beverages that we’ve all come to know and love with our Keurigs including beverages from brands such as Snapple ®, Lipton ®, Dunkin Donuts ®. I rely on mine to keep me going through early morning school drop-offs, volunteer activities, and to caffeinate me through the crazy wonderful holiday season. I’m tempted to pack it up and bring it along on our roadtrip South for Christmas! Crazy or just sharing the love?

Gift Guide For the Procrastinating New Yorker

Christmas is now less than one week away! Have you finished your shopping yet? Me neither…  I plan on rushing around like a mad woman for the next four days as I attempt to get it all done before school break starts for the boy. But cheer up, my fellow New Yorkers, I’ve done a little work for you and have a procrastinator’s guide to shopping NYC style. All of these things can be found right here in good ol’ NYC. They celebrate our city’s uniqueness and style and would be welcome under any tree (or by any menorah for that matter…).  Whether it’s your difficult to shop for parent, your brand new niece or nephew, or just someone who needs a little special something – I’ve got you covered. Load up that Metrocard and let’s get shopping!

For the Littlest New Yorkers

Head straight to Piccolini NYC where owner Alex Zagami has curated the cutest, and coolest, collection of kid stuff. Alex’s family has lived in NYC for generations – maybe that’s what guided her great NYC themed selection of gifts for the small set. My personal favorites here are her original Hot Dog Pretzel onesies and tees. For the newest New Yorker you can pick up a hand-knit rattle designed like a Metrocard. Never too young to practice your swipe technique I say!

Piccolini NYC NYCJenny

For the Book Lover

Head to Central Park West and visit the New York Historical Society Museum & Library. My husband, Roger, often does feature stories at this museum and earlier this year after one such story, brought home a new book for me: A History of New York in 101 Objects I love picking this book up at random times and flipping to a new section to read. It makes me fall in love with this city all over again. From black & white cookies to public school doorknobs, and the CBGB sign – I love all of it. This book was a companion piece to an exhibit at the museum earlier this year and it is FANTASTIC. If you’re not sold on this, the gift shop at this museum is chock full of NYC themed items. I could have done all my holiday shopping here, but it’s the book section that really wows me. I could have done some serious credit card damage in there. You can’t go wrong here.

image

For the Romantic 

Head to the Transit Museum Gift Shop. You’re probably not believing me yet on this one, but think about it. The romance of train travel. Books, movies, images burned into our collective conscience about old-fashioned train travel. It’s true you probably won’t find much old-fashioned romance in the hustle and bustle of Grand Central at rush hour, but utter the words “meet me at the clock” and I’ll bet any New Yorker will know what you mean. To me, that kind of collective understanding and the reverence we have for a century old building IS romantic. Man I love that building. In the transit museum shop you’ll find lots of NYC themed transit type gift ideas, but my absolute favorite is this ornament of the clock. It just captures the magic and romance of one of my favorite buildings in the whole city. Someone please buy this thing for me.

grand central clock ornament

For the Difficult to Shop For

We’ve all got at least one person on our list that we have absolutely no clue what to buy for. I like to resort to chocolate in those cases. Almost everyone I know loves chocolate – you can’t go wrong with it. This year Lindt (they of those delicious Lindor truffles that melt in your mouth) has special  New York City gift packaging only available at their two Lindt Chocolate Shops in mid-town Manhattan, (692 5th Avenue and 665 5th Avenue). They were kind enough to send some over for us to preview and trust me, they’re so pretty and gift appropriate! Everyone I’ve shared them with has loved them. I had friends over one night and paired the chocolates with some champagne and it made everyone in the room happy! Come to think of it – once you’re at Lindt on 5th Avenue, you’re a short stroll away from Sherry Lehmann which is my absolute favorite place to buy champagne. Their staff has always been super helpful and knowledgable when I’ve gone in. Nice when you’re shopping for a gift and want to make sure you get it right. Lindt truffles in a NYC box paired with some great champagne would please all but the most difficult!

lindt chocolate champagne

For the Homesick New Yorker

Food. Always send food. When someone leaves home food is quite often one of the things they miss most. The tastes of home that they cannot get anymore. You can have just about anything shipped if you know what your friend is missing in particular. If you don’t know or just want to surprise them – I vote Katz’s. No seriously – they ship nationwide and this the home of “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army” How can you not??? I love Katz’s. My kid loves Katz’s. EVERYONE loves Katz’s.

katzs salami

Alright, if you’re not brave enough to send a salami (or matzoh ball soup maybe?) they also have a Chocolate Egg Cream Scented Candle. I mentioned this item to my egg cream loving, New York born and bred husband and his eyes lit up. New Yorkers and egg creams, man. Walking into Katz’s sends us into a wave of glorious nostalgia. Send the salami. Or the candle.

katzs candles

I hope this little gift guide helps. I had a lot of fun putting it together! I’ve always got at least one person who asks for something from New York, and I like to oblige. I live in the greatest city on Earth and it’s fun to be able to share the joy. What are your favorite go-to New York gifts?

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, friends!

Disclosure: I was given the chocolates and book, but nothing else. These are my own opinions!

Cookie Icing So Easy a Kid Can Do It!

Last Christmas I introduced my then two-year old to cookie baking. We’d spend many a day mixing cookie dough, rolling it out, choosing fancy cookie cutters, and icing to our sweet tooth’s delight. This year, Jack is three and in a full day preschool program. He still loves to bake cookies, but by the time we get home from school at 3 in the afternoon…there really isn’t time to do the whole cookie bake-off routine. Enter Walkers Shortbread Cookies. They’ve got a line of shortbread cookies in Christmas shapes that are perfect for decorating when you need a quick cookie fix with your kid. They were kind enough to send us a couple of packages to have fun with – and so we did!

You could buy icing or frosting pre-made and save even more time, but my kid loves to stir things and considers it a crucial part of the cookie process. We compromised by whipping up some quick and easy cookie icing after school yesterday, and got down to decorating.

walkers shortbread christmas cookies

For icing cookies I like to use this simple icing recipe:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • food coloring

Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth.  Use food coloring to tint the icing to your desired colors.

Jack mixed the icing all on his own after helping me measure the three ingredients. Stirring in the color is his favorite part.

easy cookie icing nycjenny

To ice the cookies I let him use the little knives that came with his toddler silverware sets. They’re about the size of those little fancy cheese spreader knives you have but never use. Perfect for kids to frost cookies or cupcakes with! We had a bunch of sprinkles in our cupboard already – what kid doesn’t love sprinkles? Jack delighted in making piles of sprinkles – as most three-year old’s do I imagine!

decorating walkers shortbread

With minimal fuss we had a plate full of decorated Christmas cookies in no time at all. It was a lovely way to spend our after school time before I had to clean up and start dinner. Jack was proud to have decorated cookies to serve at dessert too.

decorated walkers shortbread

I’ve been on a mission this year to enjoy the holiday season more than I have in years past. Finding ways to squeeze in holiday fun with Jack and watching him enjoy all the wonder of the season has been key. Things don’t have to be picture perfect or 100% from scratch to matter. Spending time together is what counts. This little cookie activity was just the thing we needed!

Have you found any holiday hacks or cheats to help you out this season? I’d love some more tips as we head into the final countdown!

Disclaimer: We were provided with cookie samples from Walker’s – no other compensation was provided. All opinions are my own.

bobble SPORT Reusable Water Bottle Giveaway!

bobble bottle nycjennyThis week I am co-hosting a week-long, bobble SPORT reusable water bottle giveaway with a wonderful group of mom bloggers from across the United States. I LOVE these bottles, and you will too!

Growing up as a girl, bottled water that you bought at a store was a thing of the future, instead we just drank straight from the tap. However, in 2014, drinking bottled water is more mainstream, and with that comes a whole host of environmental and health concerns that we may tend to overlook.

For instance, according to the website Ban The Bottle:

  •  Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation.
  • The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.
  • Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3.
  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year.
  • The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap rates equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.

So What Can We Do ?

Using reusable water bottles is a HUGE step in the right direction. Fill up your bottle with water from the tap! What if you do not like the taste or worry about impurities? Try it with a filter like in the new bobble SPORT bottle.

Introducing the bobble SPORT

Replaceable water filter

Replaceable water filter

The new bobble SPORT bottle is a hydrated water filtration system which uses a replaceable carbon filter, in effect removing chlorine and impurities from standard tap water. Each replaceable bobble filter equates to 300 single-serve bottles!

As the name suggests, the bobble SPORT is perfect for a busy on-the-go lifestyle, use it at the gym, or fit it perfectly into your stroller cup holder as you run your way through the day’s errands.

It has a molded in-grip feature, comes in seven pretty colors, is made in the USA, is dishwasher safe, and has a carry cap lid so you do not lose it, which personally is really handy for me as I always lose lids. It is also free of BPA, phthalates and PVC.

 

By drinking just under four, 22 ounce water filled bobble SPORT a day, you will easily hit the suggested 8 cup a day minimum intake of water – easy peasy!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

 

bobble water bottle giveaway

First place winner will win a prize package which retails for $75, including a bobble hoodie, a bobble sports top, a bobble gym bag and a bobble SPORT bottle.

While 2 additional winners will win a bobble SPORT bottle, valued at $12.

Otherwise, through December the 31st, bobble is offering 20% off on their website, using the code GIVEFUN.

If you are one of the winners, bobble will send out the prize to you direct from their warehouse.

This giveaway starts at midnight on Sunday December the 14th and ends on Sunday December the 21st at midnight EST. It is open to the USA only.

Good Luck, and thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The participating blogs, and NYCJenny are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prizes.

DIY Lined Christmas Stockings from Old Sweaters

It’s mid-December and the Christmas season is in full swing. You’ve got time for one more craft, right? If I can do this one, so can you. This week I spent one hour and made Christmas stockings – seriously, ONE HOUR. One hour gave me two stockings – and they’re lined! I used old sweaters and it couldn’t be easier. I found this idea on Pinterest, and it’s the most successful thing I’ve ever done via that crafty you-know-what!

lined-stockings-from-sweaters-nycjenny-banner bright

As opposed to previous years, I’ve resolved to calm down, enjoy the holiday season and be a part of it! We’ve put up our first tree together (last year’s never happened), hung our lights, and my little boy is practicing for his first school Christmas concert. We’re having so much fun this year with the Christmas traditions, I thought last year was magical with him? Nothing compared to Jack at almost 4 years old! One tiny detail though…he still doesn’t have a stocking. Shameful. I knew I’d never knit the stocking of my dreams for him in time so I resolved to buy a decent substitute and start knitting for the next year.

Then I cleaned out my closet and found that my stack of beloved, seriously out of date, wool sweaters from high school had been attacked by moths. Ouch. I thought I’d turn the leftover good bits into sofa cushions or mittens and went looking online for inspiration. It being almost Christmas, I instead found Pinterest awash in Christmas decor. I don’t know who thought of it first, but I found at least five tutorials dedicated to making stockings out of old sweaters!

I could turn my beloved, boxy, oversized early 90’s high school sweaters into Christmas stockings! Turn one sentimental item into another. This really couldn’t be easier to do – I made two of them in little more than an hour. And just because I had to, I one-uped what I saw on Pinterest by adding a lining to my stockings to help them hold their shape, protect the interior seams, and to keep items from catching on the yarn thus frustrating my little kid on Christmas morning. Two lined stockings in an hour. Here’s what I did.

Besides your sewing kit and optional machine (you could sew by hand of course!) you’ll need:

  • an old sweater
  • a pattern or old stocking to trace around (if you’re in need of a pattern I like the shape of this one by Amy Butler)
  • fabric for the lining

Lay that old sweater flat and pin your pattern to it. Put the cuff/top of the stocking on the hem (how nifty – you won’t have to sew a cuff! Your sweater’s hem handles it for you!) If you’re tracing around an existing stocking, be sure to add a seam allowance. I’d suggest a half-inch for this project.

stocking-patternCut through BOTH layers of the sweater, the front and the back, around the pattern. Don’t worry about your sweater unraveling, especially if it’s wool. Wool fibers tend to stick together!

Flip your pieces over so the right sides are facing each other:

sew-sweater-stocking

You don’t see any unraveling there do you? Nope. Granted this sweater is roughly 25 years old and nursed me through a lot of heartbreak and insecurity then warmed me through many a NYC blizzard, OH MY FRIEND! I’m so glad I found a way to keep this sweater around.

Use a lot of pins if you’re sewing this together on a sewing machine. It will help to feed both sides through your sewing machine evenly. If you’ve got a walking foot, go ahead and use it. If you’ve been sewing since you were eight and just don’t give a hoot? You’ll be fine. I honestly got tired of pins and just started tugging on the top layer a bit to keep it even with the bottom layer. Little trick I learn in a quilting class eons ago…

sew-stocking

Once you’ve sewn from one top edge to the other (obviously leaving the top open for Santa to have access) you’re done. Secure the ends of your threads, turn your stocking inside out and say, “WOW THIS WORKED!” You done! Unless you’re like me and you just like things to be perfectly finished.

I wanted my stockings lined. Grab some fabric that kinda sorta coordinates with your stocking. I’d recommend cotton because it’s easy. I used muslin because it’s what I had. It also shows up nicely in photos for the purposes of a tutorial… For my darker stocking, I want to redo it and find some darker cotton that won’t show through. In any case, take your chosen fabric and fold it in half. Lay your pattern out on it. You need to cut two again, just like you did for the sweater – a front and a back. If you can, lay the cuff/top of the stocking pattern on the selvage of your fabric so you won’t have to hem or fold in the top of your lining.

What’s the selvage? That finished edge of the fabric that won’t unravel. If you’re sewing a quilt or clothing or really anything but this – don’t use that selvage! But for this? It’s ideal!

selvedge-edge-of-fabric

The lining is just as easy as the stocking was. 1. Cut out your two halves. 2. Sew them together and then trim your seam down a bit. You don’t need to do this with the sweater pieces, just here on the lining to help it lay in the stocking a bit nicer. 3. Without turning the lining inside out, insert it into the sweater stocking. 4. Use needle and thread to secure the top of the lining inside the cuff of the stocking. I secured it maybe a half inch down from the top so it wouldn’t be seen.

lining collage

All that’s left is to secure a little loop to hang your stocking with! Grab ribbon, string, yarn – go crazy and unravel some from your old sweater and braid a little loop. Go really crazy and knit i-cord for it. Whatever you choose, tack it in place with needle and thread and hang your new stocking up!

Stockings-hung-on-bookcase-nycjenny

We live in pretty small apartment and have no mantel. Nor have I found the time to craft some crazy fancy stocking holder. I use our bookcases and some command hooks. So there’s your bonus small space living tip! Command hooks turn anything into a mantel! You could use ribbon or greenery to cover them up, but I ran out of time and had to go pick the boy up from school!

Here’s a close-up with my second stocking that I made out of another high school sweater. This one was cabled and came out beautiful!

command-hook-hang-stockings

Aren’t you proud of me? I made a Christmas craft this year! Go forth and raid your closets for sweaters you haven’t worn in years – you never will and this is a really beautiful and sentimental way to keep them close while freeing up a little closet space!

Merry Christmas!

Pajama Program’s One Million Good Nights

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the weeks of giving. There’s no shortage of ways to help out, and so many charities seem to need extra help this year. My husband, Roger, through his job at a local news station, does a lot of stories on charities around town that need help. This week I woke up to see an image of him sitting around in some adult sized footie pajamas and quite frankly I was confused. What on Earth…? I thought he said he was doing a charity story this morning?

pajama program charity

Turns out he was talking to the founders of Pajama Program. Quite frankly, I’d never heard of them despite them having some pretty high-profile press and corporate partners. By the end of Roger’s two-minute piece I was texting him to ask what I could do to help. I was so moved by their simple mission to provide a new pair of pajamas and a book to children in need nationwide. The full mission as listed on their website is this:

“Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books to children in need nationwide, many of whom are waiting to be adopted. These children live in group homes, shelters and temporary housing facilities and are shuffled often from one place to another. Many of them have been abandoned, abused or neglected. Most of these children have never enjoyed the simple comfort of having a parent tuck them in at bedtime with warm, clean pajamas and a bedtime story. Some of the children are living with their families below the poverty level, in desperate need of food, clothing and shelter. These two simple gifts of pajamas and books let the children know that someone cares – sometimes these are the only new things they have ever received.”

Can you imagine a child without a pair of pajamas? A child who doesn’t even know what pajamas are? One of the founders of Pajama Program told a story to Roger of how when she was visiting a shelter a child was given a pair of pajamas and the child asked what they were. How on Earth are there children in America who don’t know what pajamas are? My heart just broke a little. THAT is why my husband was sitting on the morning news in a ridiculous pair of footie pajamas.

You can buy ridiculous adult footie pajamas as a gag gift, yet we have children in our country who don’t even know what pajamas are.

The bedtime ritual of cozy pajamas and a storybook is so ingrained in our culture, in our parenthood, and the raising of our children that I cannot imagine being unable to provide that for my child. Yet some children in our country do not have the comfort and security of a change of clothing for bedtime. The comfort and peace of having someone read them a story is a foreign concept to them.

It makes me want to buy all the pajamas I can get my hands on and go read a million books to kids right now.

Currently Pajama Program is running a One Million Good Nights campaign with their partners Carter’s and Scholastic. The goal is to collect “one million new pajamas, one million new books and the resources needed to get them in the hands of children in need by December 31, 2015.” I can’t personally buy one million pajamas, but I can help spread the word. All the ways to help out are on their website at: http://pajamaprogram.org/  This is such an easy thing to do to help a kid know that someone out there cares. That can make a HUGE difference in a young child’s life.

This is a wonderful charity to have your kids help out with too. Even at three years old, Jack understands that little kids need pajamas and a bedtime story – that’s just basic stuff. Except for when it isn’t.

Here’s the piece that ran on NY1 if you’re able to see it, (I know sometimes you must have a Time Warner Cable login to see video on NY1.com) http://www.ny1.com/content/219845/pajama-program-looks-to-grant-warm-holiday-wishes/

What charities are near and dear to your hearts? Please share and let’s try to inspire one other to help as much as we can!

Nine Naturals: Plant-Based Body Care and a Giveaway!

If you’ve ever been pregnant you know how absolutely nerve-wracking it can be trying to figure out what products are safe to use. Not only are you worried about what you eat and drink, but you start to also wonder about the products you use on your skin and hair. Enter Nine Naturals. A Brooklyn, NY based company that makes beauty products that are safe for pregnant and nursing moms. All of their ingredients are pre-screened for health and safety during pregnancy and while nursing!

NN_Partnership-Logos_030313-01I’m very excited to be partnering with a wonderful group of bloggers to give away toxic-free goodies from this wonderful company – including a GIANT grand prize group of products worth $280! Forward-thinking Nine Naturals makes personal products which are smart and safe for moms and moms-to-be. They craft their products using only natural and organic ingredients, which include shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, deodorant, body wash, sunscreen and lip balm.

Mother Beware!Nine-Naturals-Citrus-+-Mint-Nourishing-Shampoo_final_5_3_cap

For a health conscious mother or mother-to-be, most of us are well aware of the dangers of eating genetically modified foods and foods sprayed with pesticides. We are aware of the dangers of drinking coffee, consuming alcohol, or smoking during pregnancy, and so many other things. However, not a lot of attention is spent on the dangers of slathering disease-causing chemicals and endocrine disruptors on our bodies, which are found in most mainstream personal products. Especially, as these are used on a daily basis!

The skin is the largest organ, and it absorbs whatever is put on it very quickly, traveling into the blood stream, moving around the body, and of course this can affect a fragile fetus growing inside.

So What is Available and Safe to use during pregnancy?

New-Belly-ButtersmallNine Naturals are 100% plant-based products, which are free of all the nasties one wants to avoid like, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances and artificial preservatives.

All Nine Naturals products are derived from nature, there is absolutely nothing artificial in their formulas. Additionally, all the ingredients have been pre-screened to make sure that they are safe for Mom and Baby, which is very assuring. Nine Naturals also happily discloses all additives that they uses!

I appreciate that Nine Naturals offers an unscented body butter, as speaking from experience, for most of my pregnancy I could not handle anything with a fragrance! Other essential oil based fragrances that are used in Nine Natural products have been formulated to ease common pregnancy complaints like morning sickness and fatigue – so thoughtful!

screen_shot_2014-10-06_at_12.07.25_pmThe Nine Naturals website is also filled to the brim with information like their handy explanation of all ingredients used in their products which you can see HERE.

You can order Nine Naturals from their website easily. Free shipping is included on all USA orders of $50+, a 10% off coupon is emailed to you if you sign up for their email list, and they offer a $5 sample set to try their shampoo and conditioner (just in case you want to try it first).

Nine Naturals is caring small company, who are focused on making a mother’s pregnancy that little bit less stressful but don’t take my word for it, visit their website and check them out for yourself!

Giveaway Time!!!

IMG_8700Thanks to Nine Naturals for offering this very generous prize.

One grand prize winner will win the full line of products from Nine Naturals valued at $280, including;

5 additional winners will win a body balm, valued at $15.

If you are (fingers crossed!) one of the winners, Nine Naturals will send out the prize to you direct from their warehouse. This giveaway starts at midnight on Wednesday November the 26th, ending on Tuesday December the 2nd at midnight EST. It is open to the USA and Canada only.

Good Luck!

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Disclaimer: The participating blogs, and Willy B Mum are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prizes.