the 12 Pins of Christmas

the 12 Pins of ChristmasWhat better way to kick off the holiday season than with my favorite 12 Pins of Christmas! If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have seen me collecting these festive finds.

Here are my FAVORITE pins of the season. 

Powdered Doughnut Snowmen

Such a fresh take on decorating gingerbread men. Love this idea by Worth Pinning to transform a powdered doughnut into a snowman. Love!Powdered Doughnut Snowman by Worth Pinning

Marshmallow Winter Wonderland

Transform a table into a wintery delight by stringing marshmallows together to create a snowy dream. (via Mon Carnet by Wednesday Custom Design)Marshmallow Winter Wonderland (via Mon Carnet and team Wednesday Custom Design)

Charming Hand-Stamped Ornaments

Love how The Swenglish Home used leftover pieces of wood to create these adorable hand stamped sayings. We’re definitely trying this.Hand stamped Ornaments by The Swengish Home

The 12 Letters of Christmas

Ever wonder just what Santa and the Elves are up to? I do. Print these 12 letters and leave one out each morning to hear how it’s going on the North Pole. The stories are ADORABLE!! One day they run out of wrapping paper. Another day is the story of how the reindeer learned to fly. (by Soda Pop Avenue)12 Letters of Christmas Banner  by Soda Pop Ave

Ornament Key

Love this idea of turning a key from a previous home into an ornament. Sweet memories not forgotten. (from In my Own Style)From In My Style - turn an old key into an ornament to rekindle sweet memories each year.

Minute to Win it Holiday Party Games

Have a snowball toss by throwing marshmallows through a hanging wreath. Slide a gingerbread man from your forehead to your mouth. Or be the first to stack cups in the shape of a Christmas tree. Check out these and more minute to win it games over at Callie Grace.Callie Grace created some fabulous Minute to Win it games for a Holiday Party

Edible Snow Globe and Gingerbread cookie recipe

Can you imagine eating something so adorable?  What a lovely and unforgettable dessert. Check out the tutorial and recipe at Ya a la Venta.Edible Snow Globe by Ya A La Venta. What could be cuter?

Explaining Santa when the time Comes

Although the magical belief in Santa is still alive in all 3 of my children and husband, I love this letter of explanation to have on hand. (via cafe mom).A letter explaining if Santa is real bvia Cafe Mom

Holiday Bailey’s Drink

Freeze coffee in ice cube trays. For a festive and delicious Holiday drink, pour Bailey’s and Vanilla Vodka over the coffee cubes. Absolutely delicious.Holiday Drink - Freeze coffee cubes and add Baileys and Vanilla Vodka. Love these 12 ideas!!!

Christmas Tree Stump Ornament

Love the idea of saving a slice off your tree and turning it into an ornament. Great idea for newlyweds or a baby’s first Christmas. (idea off Pinterest by Prayers and Prozac)Use a slice off a tree as a future ornament. (via Pinterest. Sourced to Prayers and Prozac)

Santa’s official Live Reindeer Cam

Watch Santa feed his reindeer each day through a live video stream. Feedings are every day at 11:00, 6pm , and 9pmReindeer Cam - watch Santa feed the reindeer via this live reindeer camera

Magical Tulle Christmas Lights

When I saw this pin, I immediately knew I wanted to light up my daughter’s room with this great idea from Hayseed Homemakin‘. She simply tied tulle next to each twinkle light. Beautiful.Adorable idea by Hayseed and Homemakin' - Add a soft touch by simply tying strips of tulle to twinkle lights.

If you want more festive ideas, follow along with us on Pinterest. Have a blessed holiday season.

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Spending the Holidays in the Hospital: 7 ways you can help

Celebrating the Holidays in the Hospital - 7 Ways you can helpIn a moment, everything can change. Your worries. Your priorities. Your prayers. Today you get to hear from the heart of a mom who experienced just this.7 Ways to help a family in the hospital

Veronica Janus was born and raised in Sweden but currently lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Her life took a major turn when her son was born with major health issues. Today she shares with us a little glimpse of what she learned through this experience. She has written a beautiful book called Abundantly More –a  Mother Clings to God as her Baby clings to Life.

The holidays are usually a time when we are more eager to give and help those in need, especially basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.  We donate winter coats and we volunteer in soup kitchens.  But what about those who have everything they need and are suddenly thrown a curve ball and end up in the hospital. What do we give them?  How can we help?familynov9

A few years ago, when my youngest son was born, we were given shocking and unexpected news.  He had multiple heart defects and was immediately admitted to the ICU.  My son underwent his first heart surgery at 11 days old and the procedure was successful, but he became worse.  The next eight weeks were spent in the ICU going  through trial after trial including MRSA, weight loss, pulmonary hypertension and congestive heart failure just to mention a few. My son went on to have two more open heart surgeries. We had spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year as well as two big birthdays in the hospital before he was discharged. I don’t know what I would have done without the help and encouragement we received from family, friends, staff, and strangers. They offered to…


Pray in solitude at home. Pray with your family, friends, small groups. Place the patient and their family on a prayer list at your church and other churches. Leave a prayer  voicemail for your friend. Send them an email prayer. Quote scripture. Let them know you and others are praying for them. If you get them live, pray with them and you do all the praying. They’re exhausted. If they don’t want prayer, pray for them alone.


Be a sounding board. Don’t talk about yourself or your problems. If you have gone through something similar it’s ok to share but  keep it brief and positive. Don’t tell them you understand or you know how they feel, because you don’t. Instead mention how this must be very hard and ask how you can help. Give a few concrete examples of help so they don’t have to think.


Set up a meal plan for the family through email,, or www.mealtrain.comPlace a cooler on the family’s porch where people can easily drop off food. The family may not be home a lot. Bring food to the hospital giving the family a break from cafeteria food, fast food, or skipped meals.


Provide child care at the hospital in designated play area (so children are close to parents), in your home or the family’s home. Set up carpooling for children and adults. Offer to set up play dates, take children to birthday parties and other events around the holidays to keep normalcy for children.  Offer to purchase Christmas gifts for the children in the family.

5.Home Help 

Set up regular home management like snow shoveling, lawn mowing, raking leaves, house cleaning, laundry, dry cleaning, oil changes, car washes, and decorating the home for the holidays.


Be a liaison between the patient and family and the outside world.  Setting up an update and communication system is vital but may take away precious time from the family or patient on a daily basis. There are special health sites such as, but Facebook and regular email work too.


Send cards, flowers, gift cards, stuffed animals, books, toys directly to the hospital room or the family’s home to brighten up their environment. Call the hospital in advance to ask what is allowed in patient’s room.

The main point to remember is that a hospital environment is a very intense and busy place.  Patients and their families are inundated with medical information and multiple doctors visiting daily.  There is little time and room to think about anything but the patient’s health and advocating for them, especially if they are admitted long term.

How have you experienced the holidays in a hospital?  Leave a comment below and share your insights with us.

Celebrating the Holidays in the Hospital - 7 Ways you can help

Veronica Janus is a writer and speaker.  Her book, Abundantly More, a spiritual and medical journey can be found at major bookstores.  She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children.  For more information please visit You can also follow her on Facebook.

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35 Gifts that inspire Adventure in Boys

Help your kids put down the electronics and inspire a little adventure in your backyard this summer!

I like toys that don’t make noise or break easily. I seek gifts that  foster an adventurist spirit in my children and encourage activity and relationship between people.

If you have a son and know me in real life, I have told you about my deep LOVE for JM Cremps–  the boy’s adventure store. The majority of the toys in our home are from this family-run business out of Minnesota. It’s been my one-stop Christmas shopping spot for the past 3 years. For that reason, many things on this list are from there because… it’s my AWESOME secret store. Enough about the store, on with the gifts.

My Top Picks to inspire Adventure in boys ( and girls!):

(this post has affiliate links)

Slackline - 35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in BoysSlackline

Hot gift this season. Anchor the slackline between 2 trees and balance your way across this narrow strip. The advanced version can even be used with skateboards and skis.

Slackline for beginners -35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in BoysMilitary Surplus Tent $29

Perfect for backyard forts.

35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in Boys

Handcrafted Animal Slingshots$9.99

Choice of 7 animals – My boys spend hours outside trying to knock over cans and hit each other…I mean targets.Hand crafted animal slingshot - (35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in Boys)

Backyard Zipline

So fun for the right backyard.Zipline (35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in Boys)

Medic Bag $12.99

Shockingly popular with my children!! Before I gave these to my kids, I filled them with camo duct tape, bandaids, a wooden (not sharp) pocket knife, a mini first aid kit, a camo water bottle, string and caution tape from the dollar store, and some books on survival in the outdoors and  What to make with Duct Tape They staged “animal rescues”, climbed trees roping off weak branches, and had picnics under strange bushes. They were a huge hit. Every tool in that bag was used to its fullest.

Medic Bag (35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in Boys)

Rubberband Gun – start at $12 

These have been so much fun that I went back to get one for my husband. I bought a pack of extra “ammo” or rubberbands which was a wise investment.

Rubberband Gun (35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in Boys)

Z-Curve Bow and Arrow

This set is made of foam.There is also a Wolverine bow and arrow set for boys more self-controlled than my own.

Bow and Arrow (35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in Boys)Metal Detector

Spend hours searching for loose change and metal treasures. Detects up to 3 feet deepMetal Detector - 35 Gifts that Inspire Adventure in Boys

Young Architect Kit

Design rooms and shapes in 3d design. Great building set for aspiring architects.Younbd Architect kit

Electronic Snap Circuits

  • Contains over 60 Snap-Together parts. Build over 300 exciting projects.
  • Build a Radio, Doorbell, burglar alarm and more

Electronic Snap Circuits. Teach kids how to create electricity

Other favorites:








Some favorites BOOKS:

35 Holiday Gifts that Inspire Adventure in BoysMy favorite Boy's devotional of all time. LOVE50 Dangerous Things you should let your children do.

For more holiday ideas, check out our Pinterest holiday boards.

50+ Bloggers around the world have gotten together to create the 2013 Ultimate Gift Guide Series and Pinterest Board from which this list is part of. We’d love for you to check it

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