In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

A Tea Party Birthday

My little girl turned five this weekend and we celebrated with a super girly tea party!

I was inspired by this balloon wreath tutorial but ended up having to do mine differently because I couldn't find a straw wreath form or greening pins. Instead I used straight pins and a foam wreath form.  It is such a happy little wreath, it seriously makes my heart swoon!

We served little sandwiches, of course!

And we dressed up as ladies and gents all set for tea!

I can't believe it's been five years since our lives changed forever.

They grow up fast, don't they?

On an unrelated note, Jen at IHeart Organizing kindly featured my kitchen today on her blog.  Click here to check it out.  I am thrilled to be featured by one of my favorite organizing divas!

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  I'd be honoured if you would take a second to "like" me on Facebook or Follow me on twitter!

Sweet Sister Stitches Giveaway!

My friend Amberly and her sister have a wonderful business called Sweet Sister Stitches.  They sell adorable boutique style hats at affordable prices, and this week they are giving away a hat to one of my lovely readers. Yippee!  (I hope you win.  Yes, you.)

Here are some of their fabulous creations!

They even sell hats in adult sizes too. My hubby would love this one:

In this picture my twins are wearing some adorable heart hats made by these talented sisters.  Try not to be blown away by my children and their mind blowing cuteness...

Sweet Sister Stiches will be giving away one of these adorable hats shown below to one of my lovely readers.  The winner will pick the size (adult sizes not available for this giveaway) and whether they want boy colours or girl colours.

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is browse the photos on their facebook page and then come back and tell me which item is your favourite!  And while you're over there, you may as well "like" their facebook page because they frequently hold awesome sales and promotions over there!

I'll announce the winner later this week.  Best of Luck!

An Advent Activities Calendar

We all want to make Christmas magical for our children. But the busy-ness of the season has a way of squeezing the magic from our mall-weary bones.  That's why the idea of an advent calendar that focuses on activities instead of chocolate really appealed to me.

A daily reminder to do something magical with my children.  Even if it's a small thing.

 I made it by mounting a cork tile on a burlap-wrapped piece of plywood.  I cut out a circle for each day in December and used assorted stickers and scrap booking do-dads to number them.

I wanted it to have a bit of a Pottery Barn-esque look so I opted for a simple colour scheme of neutrals and green.

Under each circle is a Christmas activity for the day.

Here are some of the activities on our advent calendar:
-Set up nativity scene
-Go to parade
-Pick out a Christmas tree
-make paper snowflakes
-read a Christmas book
-watch a Christmas movie
-decorate cookies with friends
-build a snowman with Daddy
-string popcorn
-Make a Christmas craft
-Visit the Pioneer Village
-Bake treats and deliver them to neighbours
-Read the story of Christ's birth
-Put on jammies and drive around to look at Christmas lights

And right now, as I type these words, I'm listening to Christmas music and drinking hot chocolate.  It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

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Winners Of the Shaklee Giveaway

Thanks to everybody who entered the Shaklee giveaway.

The five ladies who will be receiving a sample of basic H2 Organic Super Cleaner Concentrate are:

Hilarie of Hilarie Joyful
Tracy of Mom, I Pooted
and Tami from Pink Mama In a Blue World

Ladies, you will be contacted by email momentarily.

Thanks so much to Andrea of Maia the Bee for sharing this product with me and five lovely readers.  If you want to learn more about Shaklee products, please contact Andrea over at her blog.

In other news, my oldest turns five tomorrow and is bouncing-off-the-walls-excited about her tea party birthday celebration.  If i get a sec, I'll snap a few pictures of the pretty pink festivities.

Have a great weekend!

Shaklee Review and Giveaway

***This giveaway is now closed***

Andrea from Maia the Bee asked me to do a review of Shaklee's Basic H2. She gave me a sample to try and these opinions are 100% my own.  She's going to give samples of this awesome product to 5 of my readers! And this wee little sample of Basic h2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate is enough to make 16 ounces of window cleaner, and 16 ounces of all purpose cleaner!  Just add water!

Cool, eh?

I started by trying the window cleaner on a mirror in my kitchen that seems to attract dirt at an alarming speed.  Here's what it looked like before:

And here it is after being cleaned with Shaklee Basic H2 concentrate, diluted to make window cleaner:

After trying the window cleaner, I started looking around my house for something to clean with the all purpose cleaner.  I saw these crayon marks on my cabinets and thought to myself  that there is no way this organic cleaner was going to be able to remove crayon from my cabinets.  I was wrong!


And after light scrubbing with my basic h2 and water.

Not too shabby!

The best part?  Shaklee products are super safe (apparently basic h2 is so safe you can use it to clean fruit and veggies!) so I can let me children do some cleaning, knowing that they aren't handling dangerous and toxic products!

Andrea is going to send samples of Shaklee's Basic H2 to five of my lovely readers.  There are three possible ways to enter, increasing your chances to win!

Entry #1: Just comment bellow and tell us what you are excited to clean with Basic H2 Organic Super Concentrated Cleaner!
Entry #2: Follow Andrea's blog, The Adventures of Maia the Bee (leave a separate comment below to let me know that you did!)
Entry #3: Follow Andrea on Twitter (leave a separate comment below to let me know that you did!)

And please take a second to follow Andrea on facebook too.

The winners will be drawn randomly on Friday.  Please share your email with me so that I can contact you if you win. Check your blogger account settings to make sure that you are displaying your email to blog authors when you comment, or leave your email address in the comment itself.

10 Tips For Cooking and Hosting a Stress-Free Turkey Dinner

[This is a guest post from my friend Beth.  Beth blogs with passion, humour, and gorgeous photographs over at Red and Honey.  She and I both hope that these tips will help simplify your Holiday entertaining!]
1. Choose your menu ahead of time and make a grocery list, then be sure to do your shopping a day or two before. 

2. If it’s frozen, move your turkey from the freezer to the fridge around 5 days in advance.

3. Make some menu items in advance. I like to make my sour cream mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, and sometimes my dressing/stuffing the day before, then just cook them as normal the next day. You could also easily do desserts, appetizers, etc… however that leads us to number four:

4. Go easy on the appetizers. If you are the type that has fun with entertaining and creative and yummy cooking, then you will probably be tempted by all of the awesome party recipes out there. My advice on that front is to keep it way simple – maybe one thing, or maybe (gasp!) none. The turkey dinner is the real star of the show anyway! 

5. Do your major house cleaning the day before so you don’t have to worry about it amidst all the cooking. You may want to do a quick tidy and vacuum just before guests arrive (especially if you have toddlers that mess things up as quickly as you clean them!), but it will be way easier than the “Everyone’s arriving in 20 minutes and I forgot to clean the bathroom!” Unless, of course, I’m the only one who’s ever done that…

Bonus tip: this year I used sticky notes to help me remember the baking length and
temperature of each dish to use my oven most efficiently. It worked perfectly, and
everything was hot and ready all at the right time.

6. Plan your table setting several days in advance. Figure out if you have enough place settings, and enough of the fancier things you plan to use, like wine glasses. Decide if you want to use a tablecloth, cloth napkins, a centerpiece, etc. Have those ready ahead of time. Remember that simple is beautiful!

7. While you are busily working away in the kitchen, remember to try to have fun. Put on some groovin’ music, wear some comfortable shoes (love my birks!), and shake your booty whilst stirring the cranberry sauce!

8. Be sure to have a meat thermometer so that you can tell when the turkey is done and avoid overcooking it. There are a million and one ways to cook a turkey, but the one thing we want to avoid is dry and tough meat that is supposed to be the star of the show.

9. If people offer to bring something, let them! Perhaps ask them to bring a dish that they grew up with. My family’s dressing recipe is completely different from the usual sage-based one, and it just doesn’t feel like a turkey dinner without it. Not only will it mean one less dish to make, but your guests will enjoy showing off their family favourites!

10. If anything does go wrong, don’t fret. The real point of hosting a turkey dinner for family and friends is not a perfectly cooked meal, but time to be together. Enjoy!

Read more from Beth at her blog, Red and Honey.

New Coffee Table from an Old Door

My husband does renovations, and will often salvage things he knows I might like.  Like wooden doors and old glass knobs.

One day, while coming home in the van, the kids asleep in the back, I asked my husband if he had a old door lying around.  He said yes.  But why?

"Never mind."

A few more kilometers down the road, I asked if the door had a window.  "No" he said.


"But why?" he asked again.

"It's nothing.  Don't worry about it.  Is it solid wood?  I need it to be solid wood."

Yes, it's solid wood.  What do you want it for?!"

"You're not gonna like it" I said with a smirk.

Oh, and he didn't like it.  Through every step of the project, when I stood back and exclaimed this is going to look awesome!  He would say something like "it's gonna look like an old door..."

Until he saw it in our living room.  You know what? He loves it!

And so do I!

You can find a ton of great tutorials out there on how to paint furniture, but basically we scraped, sanded, primed, painted and clear coated.

The legs were cut down from an old dinner table and spray painted teal, of course. 

I distressed the top a little because, let's face it, it's gonna get distressed one way or another.

We mostly used paints and products we had lying around. So except for a small can of primer, this project was free!

And just for the sake of authenticity, here's what it really looks like most of the time:

Still pretty great, if you ask me.  Even with the Batmobile hanging out on it!

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Quick Tip: A Dispenser for Homemade Spice Mixes!

A while back, I shared my recipe for homemade Taco seasoning.  I use this recipe several times a week: in tacos and chili, as well as any Mexican inspired casseroles or soups I might make.

And each and every time I get out all the spices to measure them for that one meal, I would think to myself: there has to be an easier way!

And then one day it occurred tome: a formula dispenser!

If you don't already know, you can by these things anywhere baby stuff is sold.  They have several compartments and a lid that turns so that you can dump out the contents of one compartment at a time. It's so that when your heading out with baby you can take pre-measured amounts of powdered baby formula instead of the whole can and scoop.

But I filled mine with Taco seasoning!

I'm considering making another one with the spices for apple crisp.  And another with my homemade pumpkin pie spice.  You could do this for any dish you make often but dread getting all the spices out for each and every time!

Oh, I *almost* forgot!

The winner of Monday's Giveaway is....


Her true Housewife confession made me laugh because it is something I have done too!  She said: 
 "sometimes my sweet son has to remind me that they didn't brush their teeth before bed, and since they are already in bed, I tell them we will do it extra good in the morning because I just want to go to bed!"
 Nicole will be receiving a copy of Style at Home: Favourite Holiday Ideas!

Thanks to everybody who entered.  Wasn't it fun to read each others homemaking confessions?  I know I enjoyed it!

Thanks so much for visiting the Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

My Real Housewife Confessions

I often get emails from readers who want to know how I do it all. How do I have time for crafty projects and blogging while keeping house and raising my five amazing children?  And the answer I keep coming back to is this:  I don't do it all. I try to keep things simple.  I do what there is time for in the day, and a tiny smidgen more because I like coffee better than sleep. I embrace imperfect homemaking.

My friend Beth just finished a 31 day series called 31 Days of Real Housewife Confessions.  It was  challenging and encouraging and a whole lot of fun to read!  I hear that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I've decided to share a few real housewife confessions of my own:

1. I once accidentally put a dozen eggs in the freezer while putting away groceries.  I haven't lived it down.
2. I like to stay in my pajamas until noon. I consider it a perk of the job.
3. I drink much more coffee than could possibly be good for me. 
4. My kitchen chairs are sticky.  We had pancakes for breakfast 2 days ago and I haven't wiped them down yet.
5. Sometimes when we have guests over who I know read my blog I get really nervous.  I have to remind myself that my blog is called imperfect homemaking and nobody expects a mom of five to have a spotless house!
6. I don't believe in yelling at my kids, but that doesn't mean I never do it.  I've grown a lot in patience and gentleness since becoming a mommy five years ago, but I still sometimes find myself yelling.  I hate it.
7. Sometimes my husband comes home to find I've accomplished some great crafty project, but haven't made dinner.  Or even thought about dinner.  On those days we normally just have bacon and eggs for dinner.
8. I only bathe my kids when they need it.  We don't do bath time every single night, it just never became part of our routine.
9. We are five minutes late for church every single week.  You would think we'd just start leaving five minutes earlier, but that has yet to actually happen.
10. Yesterday I treated myself to a Christmas magazine, only to discover that it is the same one I treated myself to a few weeks ago!!  Duh.

A Random Giveaway!!!

Because of number 10 in the list above, I've decided to give the extra magazine away to one of my lovely readers. Just leave your OWN real housewife confession in the comments below and in a few days I'll pick a winner at random and send out my extra copy of Style at Home: Favourite Holiday Ideas!

p.s.  Many of you have your comment setting set so that I see the words noreply-comment@blogger in place of your email and am unable to respond to your comments. Please read this post by Shelley at House of Smith's and make sure your email settings are such that I can contact you if you win!!!  Thanks :)

Quick Tip: Coring apples

My brood of hungry children request snacks about seventy billion times a day.  And I used to cut the seeds out of apples for them and serve them like this:

But then I discovered the tip that Changed. My. Life.  (I'm kinda in a dramatic mood today, can you tell?)

Cut the seeds out with an melon baller! 

It's a little thing, I know...but I love it!

And so does he...

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Silhouette Throw Pillows

My kids are sick with the snufflies and I have had the headache of all headaches all day and I think if one more little person whines at me because they can't eat Halloween candy three hundred and seventy-two times a day, my head just might explode.  But I did manage to create a pretty little throw pillow that makes me smile every time I see it.

I started by taking a profile picture of one of my daughters.

I printed the photo on plain printer paper and then traced the shape of her head with a sharpie.

The sharpie will bleed through the paper enough that when you flip it, you have just an outline.

I glued the outline to a piece of contact paper...

...And then cut it out.  Voila, a stencil!

Then I removed the backing from the contact paper and stuck it to the fabric.  I wish I'd used a different colored contact paper so that you could see this better.

I painted it with craft paint mixed with fabric medium.  Fabric medium basically turns any craft paint in to a fabric paint.  I've been using fabric medium ever since I was a teenager and wanted to paint my own offensive slogans on t-shirts.  You can find it with the craft paints in any store that sells that sort of stuff and the instructions on the label will tell you how to use it.

Once dried, I stitched together my pillow and stuffed it with the fluff from a retired bed pillow.

I also made a birdie pillow for our bedroom using very much the same process.(Although instead of trying to get a bird to stand still while I took a profile picture, I just used a bird picture from Picnik. )

Thanks for stopping by The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!
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