Category Archives: saturday

Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Homemade Gifts

We are down to  2 Saturdays until Christmas! I am hopping a plane back to the midwest to attend a baptism in a few hours leaving Daddy and Daughters home for a little Daddy-Daughters weekend, in which they will be taking the Christmas Card Picture (hint… The Wisconsin Badgers will have something to do with the picture!) and possibly getting the tree. I am a little sad to miss out on the tree hunt, but I am very excited for my Godson, Cazimir’s, baptism.

So far, we’ve covered ladiesgentlemen and those-hard-to-shop-for ; this week… easy-peasy homemade gifts for even the most non-crafty! I’ll admit right at the outset… some of these ideas came from Pinterest. Pinterest is a crafty and non-crafty girls’ dream! But beware… it can be addicting. You’ve been warned.

Fleece-Tie Blanket.

This is an easy craft that doesn’t take that much time. You need two pieces of fleece, both the same length. Lay one piece on top of the other and make continuous cuts around the outside, 2″ (5cm) in length. Once all of the cuts are made, tie one fringe from fleece #1 to one fringe of fleece #2 all around, using square knots. Once you’ve finished, you have a great, practical gift for anyone! One key thing to keep in mind, make sure your shears are sharp because fleece is very dulling.


I personally love gifts in jars. They are pretty to look at. They store well and when you are done with them, you have a new jar! For most food-based gifts-in-jars, you will need a 1-QT Mason Jar with lid. You can jazz the jar up with some scrap fabric, ribbons and a hot glue gun. For bath/ beauty gifts-in-jars, the Pint Sized Mason Jar should suffice.

Chocolate Holiday Cookies (from Taste of Home)

1.5 c. All Purpose Flour

0.5t baking soda

0.25t salt

0.5 c Dark Cocoa

0.75c sugar

0.3 c baked brown sugar

1.25c red and green M&M’s

0.3c white baking chips

1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a 1 QT jar, layer (in order) the flour mixture, cocoa, sugar, brown sugar, M&Ms and baking chips. Cover and store in a cool, dry place for up to one month. (Makes 36 cookies)

To the jar, add the following directions:

This recipe makes 3 dozen cookies. Store the mix in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month. To make these festive cookies, you will need:

0.75 c butter (softened)

1 egg

1.5 t vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, egg and vanilla until well-blended. Add contents of jar and stir until combined.

2. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2 in apart onto an ungreased baking pan. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in airtight container.

Mmm-Good Pasta Soup (from Taste of Home)

0.5 c. dried split peas

2T chicken bouillon granules

0.5 c dried lentils

2T dried minced onion

1t dried basil

1t dried parsley flakes

1 envelope vegetable soup mix

2c uncooked tricolor spiral pasta

1. In a 1QT jar, layer the first seven ingredients in the order listed. Place the pasta in a 1QT resealable plastic bag; add to the jar. Seal tightly, store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. (makes 3.5 QTs soup.)

To the jar, add the following directions:

This will make 3.5 quarts of a delicious soup… enough to feed 14 people! You will need:

Contents of your soup jar

10 cups water

3 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained.

1. Remove pasta from top of jar and set aside. Place water in a Dutch Oven; stir in soup mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Add the chicken, tomatoes, and pasta. Cover and simmer 15-20 min longer or until pasta, peas and lentils are tender.

Bath Seeds

1 c. baking soda

0.5 c citric acid (order online)

0.5 c cornstarch

2T plus 1t oil (almond, sunflower, coconut, mineral, canola or baby)

2t water

1-2t essential oil (order online)

0.25 t Borax

food coloring

Mix baking soda, citric acid and cornstarch. Mix the wet ingredients and the Borax and slowly add to the dry ingredients, mixing constantly. Mix SLOWLY or you will get bubbles. Pour into a 1 QT jar and add the following to the label:

Homemade Bath Seeds

Use 2-4 Tablespoons per bath

And now, from Pinterest!

Reindeer Thumbprint Ornament from Little Bit Funky

Memory Ornaments from InMyOwnStyle

T-shirt Shag Rug by Rags by Sock Monkey

Crayon Monogram by Chic and Chic Nursery (great for teachers!)

Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! This has been a fun series and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!


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Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Hard-To-Shop-For

We are down to  5 Saturdays until Christmas! In our family we really value not celebrating/ decorating Christmas until after Thanksgiving (although I would prefer waiting until after ADVENT, but we compromise.) But that’s not so say that the shopping portion can not be completed earlier!

Sometimes it’s really hard to find great gifts for people, ones that are functional but also pleasant, so I thought that I would offer some unsolicited advice on what I would consider great gifts. So far, we’ve covered ladies and gentlemen; this week… those who are hard-to-shop-for/ “have everything” in your life! These are the people who tend to receive cash or gift cards or something just as generic. So, this year, lets change it up a bit and consider Charitable Donations!

These can be a bit on the tricky side. The key to giving a charitable donation is to keep your recipient and their stance on issues in mind. Your gift is supposed to be one of appreciation and kindness and should not start an ideological war. The list below is not a comprehensive list and you can of course look to local agencies, but consider this a starting point!

To fight hunger/ aid disaster relief

American Red Cross

-Feeding America

Share Our Strength

The Salvation Army

For the Animal Lover 


Best Friends Animal Society

-Local Animal Rescues

For the educators

Donors Choose

For non-cash charitable donations

These are kind of neat because you can use your cash to buy a gift in someone’s name which is then donated to a family. Some examples of the gifts are: cows, goats, honeybees, fish for a fish pond, micro finance, etc.

Samaritan’s Purse (Christian Organization)

Heifer International

Kiva (micro finance for men and women)

Accion (heavier emphasis on financing women)

Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! Next week, we’ll talk about some easy-peasy handmade gifts that even the non-crafy among us can make and give!! And of course, if you know of other charities or other great gifts, please leave a comment below!


Filed under christmas, family, gentlemen, gifts, hanukkah, holidays, ladies, saturday

Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Gentleman

We are down to  6 Saturdays until Christmas! In our family we really value not celebrating/ decorating Christmas until after Thanksgiving (although I would prefer waiting until after ADVENT, but we compromise.) But that’s not so say that the shopping portion can not be completed earlier!

Sometimes it’s really hard to find great gifts for people, ones that are functional but also pleasant, so I thought that I would offer some unsolicited advice on what I would consider great gifts. Last week, we talked about the ladies; this week… the men in your life!

For the gentleman:

Pocket Handkerchief/ Pocket Square

Now I know what you are thinking… ewww. But I will tell you, both my husband and his father swear by their pocket handkerchiefs. They always have one on them and they are not just for blowing noses. A gentleman can use his handkerchief as a small bandage or tourniquet, or to carry small treasures as they are found. Maybe you aren’t too keen on the hygiene part of the handkerchief? Maybe consider a patterned pocket square for his suits.

Cuff Links and Collar Stays

If your gent is wearing a French Cuff suit, he will need a great set of links. You can find links at all price points and all materials. In addition, unless your gents’ shirts have button-down collar points, he might appreciate collar stays. Just like cuff links, you can find collar stays in all sorts of material, but my hubs swears by his brass ones.

These engraved collar stays can be found at Collar Bars

Stove-top Espresso Machine
What a way to start the morning! If your guy loves his espresso, but not the hit on his wallet by stopping at LCS (local coffeeshop) every morning, consider a MokaPot. Priced very competitively it is a handsome addition to your kitchen… just like your gent!

A classy timepiece. And he can never claim to not know what time it is!

For the Outdoorsman:

A Rugged Wallet
Even though one is out of doors, you still need a wallet to keep everything together!

A Bowie Knife

Your guy could take this gift one of two ways… hopefully he will look at your giving him a great survival tool.

Starbucks Via

This is not your mother’s instant coffee! I am a huge fan of Starbucks VIA and I always have a stash here at home when just don’t feel like making a Press full of coffee. All your guy would need for a cuppa-joe on the go is fresh, clean water and a heating source.

A trip to Yellowstone National Forest (or another equivalent) so he can live out all of his outdoorsy dreams!

For the techie guy:

Computer Bag
Lots of pockets and a space for his laptop, a computer bag will keep your guy organized and ready for anything!

Arcade Cabinet for the iPad

If your guy spent a lot of time at the arcade as a kid, or thinks arcades are just cool and this current generation is missing out… here you go!

iPhone Case Bottle Opener

Never be without a bottle opener again.

A New Computer

Find out what he is looking for, or take him along to buy a new computer and surprise him by footing the bill.

Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! Next week, we’ll talk about those who have “everything” in your life!!

Many of the bags shown can be ordered at my Thirty-One webstore.


Filed under christmas, gentlemen, gifts, hanukkah, holidays, saturday

Saturday’s Holiday Shopping Guide: Ladies

Looking at my calendar this morning, I’ve realized that there are (including today) 7 Saturdays until Christmas! Shopping is not my favorite past time, but if I have a plan, then it’s more bearable.

Sometimes it’s really hard to find great gifts for people, ones that are functional but also pleasant, so I thought that I would offer some unsolicited advice on what I would consider great gifts. For the next 5 weeks, I will offer some gift ideas for the people in your life. This week… let’s start with the ladies!

For the crafty gal:
-Fingerless mitts are great for keeping her palms and wrists warm, but still giving her the dexterity for working her craft. For some reason, knitting/ crocheting/ sewing tends to make your hands cold!

-A new craft bag with lots of pockets so she can keep all of her must haves in place

– Luxe Hand Lotion. When working with natural fibers, like wool, it can really dry out your hands. Surprise her with a great hand cream in a travel size so she can tuck it into her craft bag.

– SPLURGE: an iPad 2 works fantastically for storing patterns and scrapbook templates. Plus, now with iCloud, all of those files can be stored “in the Cloud” and shared across platforms.

For the Classy Gal:
-The new edition of Emily Post’s Etiquitte. Timeless, classic and always handy.

-Fine writing paper. These tend to be heavier weight with natural fibers and they are a dream to write on. Complete the gift with a fountain pen with a fun ink color.

A small mirrored or silver tray, perfect for her dresser with an assortment of nail polish in neutral shades.

-SPLURGE: classic earring studs. Something simple in diamond or pearl

For the trendsetter:
– Infinity scarves. These scarves are essentially one large loop of material, but can be styled in multiple ways. If you are a knitter, grab your size 50 needles and some super chunky yarn and make one out of a giant I-cord!

-A fun wristlet. Wristlets are great because they can double as wallets, plus they make a cute little handbag for girls’ night out.

-Head back to the nail polish section and pick up some fun shades: teal, gunmetal, taupe, magenta, enclose it with a gift certificate for a mani/pedi and pack it into a cute bag!

-SPLURGE: the new iPhone 4S, if she doesn’t have one already!

For the gal who loves to cook:

– Grab some local apples, a bamboo spoon, a few spices and your favorite recipe for apple pie and tuck it into a handy tote!

-A great infused vinegar or olive oil

-A retro inspired apron

-SPLURGE: A high quality French Oven

For your hairdresser/child’s teacher/personal trainer:
– coffee mug, assortment of teas and a gift card all tucked in a small bag

– personalized thermal lunch bag

Hope this will help a bit in your holiday shopping! Next week, we’ll talk about the men in your life!!

Many of the bags shown can be ordered at my Thirty-One webstore.


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Surprise Post Saturday: The Big (or not-so-big) Reveal

Yesterday, I posted a series of song lyrics and asked if you could come up with the common link.

The songs used were:

1. California Gurls- Katy Perry (featuring Snoop Dogg)

2. I love L.A. – Randy Newman

3. Hotel California- The Eagles

4. The Little Old Lady from Pasadena- The Beach Boys

5. California Dreamin’- The Mamas and The Papas

6. Surfin’ USA- The Beach Boys

7. California Girls- The Beach Boys

So, of course, the common link in the songs is California. And the reason why?

DH was promoted within his company and so the Caffeinated Catholic Family is packing up and heading to the Golden Coast in early October! (Los Angeles to be specific!) It is news that is both bittersweet and exciting, but I know that it is just part of that great adventure we call life.

We are going to miss our friends here in The Lou, but thanks to the Internet and FaceBook, Twitter and of course, this Blog, I am sure that we will only be a click away!


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A Modern Day Princess

I’ll admit, I got all caught up in the Royal Wedding. There was no way I was going to get up sans children to watch the LIVE broadcast, so I DVR’d it so I could watch it at my leisure. I am glad that I did, because when I did get up (earlier, yesterday, to watch and to pack for a trip to the Zoo,) my little darlings both got up at the same time. Sigh.

I was able to catch snippets of the broadcast here and there but I was over the moon to see a few things:

Kate’s sister, Pippa, and the adorable Flower Girls!!

but more importantly, Catherine’s wedding dress. Swoon.

What do I love most about this dress? Everything. I love the lace. I love the A-line. I love the embroidery. I love the train. I love the veil. I love the tiara. Must most of all, I love how modest it is.

Think about it ladies and gents, instead of having Audrey or Katherine or Jackie or Grace to emulate, girls now have Snooki, Christina or Gaga. Stripper Pole Dance Classes are cast as group exercise and seven-year olds are hawked thongs and padded swimwear.

Who would you rather your daughter emulate? Other than you, of course!

Michelle Obama has turned the tide in First Lady dressing a bit and gone a bit more elegant and modern with her look but, sadly, many girls would look at her and see someone who is… old. You know, like their moms.

So, I want to say “Thank You!” to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge for showing us how modest dressing can look so classy and appropriate for young girls and for celebrating my favorite NEW-TO-ME accessory… the fascinator!

Pax Christi!


Filed under family, life, mothering, saturday, world

Where distance is measured in minutes, not miles…

This weekend, the family decided to road trip up to the city in which The Mister and I spent our first few years of marriage… Chicago (and if you now have Frank Sinatra’s Chicago worming it’s way through your mind, you’re welcome!) Our trip, of course was not without events.

I bade farewell to the Mister on Tuesday morning as he left for the airport heading to Los Angeles for the week. Our plan was for him to fly into Chicago Friday night and we’d have the rest of the weekend to stay and play in the city. Well… you know what they say about your plans and God’s plans. Wednesday morning, I woke up feeling two steps shy of awful. I had only felt this way once before, it was last April and it was when The Mister was in California and I ended up having Strep Throat. This year, same time, same circumstance, same diagnosis. Thankfully, I was blessed with the kindness of a dear friend (and reader!) who came over and spent the afternoon with my girls allowing me to sleep and begin recovery. (Thank You again, Kristine! You are such a blessing to me.)

Just an aside: I’ve been asked if strep throat is just a “really, really bad sore throat??” If it was just a sore throat, I could deal with that. But with it being an infection, I had all of the classic infection symptoms: fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and to be honest, the sore throat was minor. For me, it was difficult trying to care for my children, to feed them, diaper them, while trying to stay on my feet without keeling over or running to the vomitorium at the sight of food. That is what made the illness difficult.

Anyway, losing a day and a half of prep for illness was a challenge but not insurmountable. Friday morning, we ended up leaving about 1.5 hours behind schedule,which would come back to kind of bite me in the end. So, we hit the road in the Swagger Wagon and get about 90 miles outside of home before The Bear needs to make a potty stop. I figure, we might as well eat as it’s close enough to lunch time so we spent about an hour at a popular “PlayPlace,” with the thought that the girls would expend enough energy and sleep a good chunk of the afternoon. The original plan was to picnic at one of the many Rest Areas in Illinois which have these fantastic playgrounds, but the weather was less than cooperative. Back on the road, the girls snoozed until just south of Chicago, in Joliet, despite Mama’s chastising peoples’ driving habits (“Cruise Control People! Learn It! Use It! Love It!”; “Trucker, there is no shame in being passed by a Swagger Wagon, stop playing LeapFrog with me!”, etc) We made one last stop for potty and a mini-stretch and hopped back on the highway for the short jaunt to the city.

Along the route I spied a sign that said “67 minutes to Dan Ryan” and I, foolishly, didn’t believe it. I figured it was left over from Rush Hour traffic. No fewer than two minutes later, my speedometer went from 70 MPH to 11 MPH… and we had 26 miles to go. Guess that 67 minutes wasn’t that far off. Ah, Chicago traffic, how I didn’t miss thee.

I don’t do much driving in St. Louis in which I encounter copious amounts of traffic and you tend to forget that traffic even exists in the insular world of the suburban stay-at-home mom. But as I was sitting there on the Stevenson, I kept hearing this quote from Homer Simpson running through my head: “Gas, Brake, Honk. Gas, Brake, Honk. Honk, Honk, Honk. Honk, Honk, Punch!” Since I had my trusty GPS with me, I decided to bail on the Stevenson and let the GPS re-route me to where I was going. (Just so you know, we are staying with dear friends who have this gorgeous condo in downtown Chicago. Looking out of their windows, you have a great view of the skyline with the Sears Willis Tower, the River, The Chicago Tribune Building, The Chocolate Building, among others. Gorgeous! And Free. Tee Hee!) However, my GPS is insistent on re-routing me back to the Stevenson and when that didn’t work, wanted to re-route me to the Dan Ryan, which was just as much of a parking lot as the rest of the expressway. Sigh. After many turns and relying on my memory of the grid outline of downtown, we finally made it to the condo.

We left our driveway in St. Louis at 10:30a on Friday morning. We arrived at our Friend’s condo in downtown Chicago at 7:00p Friday night. Traveling where distance is measured in minutes, not miles, with children is not for the faint of heart.


Pax Christi!

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