Family, General, Valentine's Day

Cute Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids!

Do you remember your school days? How the first two week of February were always full of candy and treats and crafts?
My kids aren’t in school yet, but I have plans for them to experience Valentine’s Day the way we all did (plus, what grandparents don’t love getting Valentine’s from the little ones?)
Here are a few I saw on Pinterest that I absolutely /love/, and you will too!
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Family, General, Valentine's Day

Romantic Valentine’s Day Ideas (For Her)

I absolutely love Valentine’s Day. Everything about it. Even back in my single days, I still enjoyed the holiday and celebrated with friends.
Now that I’m married, I almost look forward to it more than Christmas! It means a guaranteed night or day (this year BOTH) without the kids!
So, are you out of creativity? Not sure what plans to make?
Here are 5 romantic Valentine’s Day ideas for the woman of your life!
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Christmas, Family, General

Don’t Forget Your Dog This Christmas!

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Often enough, our pets are our world, along with the rest of our family. Some of us even consider them our “furbabies”! They’re important enough for us to celebrate their birthdays, and we spend a lot of time running around after them. So we devote a lot of time to them, and we feel like we love them like we’ve never loved anyone else before in our lives! Let’s face it, they’re cute and fluffy, and immediately understand the word no! With Christmas around the corner, don’t let them get left out of the festivities. It’s no fun just to see your dog sitting out of the way while everyone else is having fun.

(Related post: How To Help Your Kids Sleep On Christmas Eve!)

So you’ve got everything for the kids sorted, and you’ve got the presents all wrapped up under the tree for the little one to marvel at. Then you turn around and see your dog sitting right behind you, a sad look on their face. Sound familiar? If it does, pamper your pooch a little with a couple of their own presents on Christmas day. While they may not understand what’s going on, they definitely know what attention is and how it makes them feel! Here are some quick things to pick up for your pets just in time for the big day.

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Why Not Get Them an Advent Calendar? Maybe a Stocking?

There’s a market around niche products for dogs, and for any animal really, so next time you go to the pet store, pick up a doggy chocolate calendar! This won’t hurt your favorite friend to eat and you can stop the kids from trying to feed Rover their chocolates on the sly!

Similarly, you can also buy them stockings to hang up on the mantelpiece next to your little ones’, and fill it with small treats and toys. Just make sure your dog doesn’t catch a hold of the tail because the smell got too overwhelming for them and they just had to try out the merchandise! Hang them up high, or get a premade stocking that’s well sealed, meaning you’ll be able to get to it before any real damage is done.

Bag Up Some Good Treats!

Christmas is a good time to share in food and delights, and just because a dog’s diet is different to our own doesn’t mean they can’t take part. Healthy treats can be given to a good dog in bigger quantities, but of course not too many! It can be a lot cheaper to buy natural treats instead of the processed stuff we find on the supermarket shelves: buy up packs of treats that have foods like chicken and beef in them in large concentrations, which a lot of the bigger companies don’t have, and you can save about $10 to $20 on the food.

Dogs love to eat; just look at how many of them tend to beg for a bite off our own plates! Direct Fido elsewhere if he’s doing this a lot, and give him good reason to. A dog is always going to love something tasty to chow down on, so why not pick up some Betsy Farms dog duck treats for them to rip open on the day? Dogs have a natural tendency to sate their innate hunter’s drive, and tearing up some festive wrapping paper is a good way to do this! Just be sure you got all the little bits from under the sofa.

Buy Them A Ball or Treat Launcher

Following up from the point above, dogs love to chase and get a reward at the end of it. So, if you find that your pooch has boundless energy and your arm gets tired after a few short minutes, there’s a treat in store for you too! Invest in a launcher!

This covers a lot more distance and gets your dog to run faster and for longer distances. You can waste a little more of their energy out this way! Similarly, you can pack a launcher with whatever you want your dog to chase after, whether it’s some treats because you’re trying to get your four-legged friend to exercise more, or a ball because it’s their all-time favorite. This is the best gift for them!

Go Out and Buy Them Some Clothes

Animal clothing is cute and fluffy and makes a lot of Instagram worthy moments. Everyone loves to see a pet dressed up in headbands and with a scarf around their neck, so why not go the extra mile and get them a whole set? It makes a great Christmas card to send around, and you’ve got yourself a good moment for the family photo album.

A lot of people think it’s silly to dress an animal up and take some fun and creative photos with them, but you’re not hurting anyone and it’s a good way to introduce more fun to your family! If you have a smaller dog, the options are endless, and you can invent yourself a mini reindeer, elf, or Santa himself in the shape of your canine companion.

For a bigger dog, the options are a little more limited, but that doesn’t mean your Great Dane has to miss out! Make your own clothes for your little buddy; you can cut, paste, stick, rip, sew, and bedeck material with sequins. Plus, it uses up a lot of the kids’ creative energy, so if you leave it til’ just before the big day itself, it means they’re more likely to settle down to sleep on Christmas Eve!

It’s all about making this Christmas one to remember! If you have a pet, particularly a dog, include them in your plans for a lot more variety during the festive season. You could go for walks in the park through the snow, an activity a dog will always love, and you can get your dog to sign cards with their pawprints when dipped in safe paints or food coloring. It’s a nice touch and people are guaranteed to love the extra affection.

Christmas, General, Self-Care

6 Easy Ways to Lose Holiday Pounds

The holidays aren’t even here yet, and many of us have already started to pile on the holiday lbs. Shops start selling Christmas treats earlier every year, and we want to fit in as many as possible to make the most of them before they leave the shelves in the new year, so we start buying them as soon as we can. Then, there’s the fact that most of us no longer pound the streets for hours searching for the perfect Christmas gifts, burning off hundreds of calories in the process. Instead the only activity our Christmas shopping brings us is the clicking of a button. So, we’re eating more, working out less and have already gained some holiday weight when we enter December. At this point, many of us give up. We’ve gained weight already; we want to be able to enjoy the holidays without worrying, so instead let’s take a look at ways to lose the Christmas lbs when it’s all over.

Have a Cut Off

Most of us buy way too much Christmas food. Then receive even more as gifts. Try to stick to a limit, and give yourself a cut off date. Allow yourself to indulge until the 2nd of January, then have a clear out. Any treats left in the house, give away or put in the bin if it’s past its best. Then, start eating these healthy weekday dinners that you can make in the crockpot.

Calorie Count

To lose weight, you need to burn off more calories than you consume. 1lb is around 3500 calories, so you need to eat 500 calories less every day to lose 1lb in a week. The best way to ensure you do this is by calorie counting. If you struggle, use an app to help you track your consumption and buy an activity tracker to measure what you are burning off.

Drink Less Alcohol

Alcohol can actually affect your weight over Christmas more than food, and won’t even fill you up. On average a 175ml glass of wine has around 160 calories, that’s about the same as half a burger or 15 minutes running at high intensity. To lose weight in January, try to have an alcohol-free month.

Get Help

Calorie counting, dieting, and exercising can be confusing. Especially if you are busy and tend to eat quickly and on the go. Get help from isolatorfitness.com, and you won’t have to worry about working everything out and regulating yourself.

Enjoy the sales

A full day of sales shopping could burn off 1500 calories. So instead of shopping online, brave the cold and get out there into the January sales.

Make Healthy Leftovers

It’s not just the snacks and treats that can last long after Christmas. You might find yourself tucking into the leftover turkey for weeks too. Try some healthy recipes like soups, salads or a healthy low-fat curry.

The most important thing is not to carry on eating at the same holiday pace well into January. Let yourself fully enjoy the festivities. Then, stop. Even returning to your normal diet and increasing your activity levels slightly should help, any extra is a bonus which will help you to lose your holiday weight faster.

General, Holidays

Hello, December!

Happy Friday everyone! Today is the day I send out my Christmas Cards, and begin making last minute plans for Friendsmas and Christmas parties!

As I’ve discussed before, the holiday season is my favorite time of year. Specifically, there’s something about the magic of December. All the decorations, the trees, the lights, and music everywhere. It seems like a generally cheerful time in our community!

I absolutely love going all out for the holidays. Living in Southeast Texas, this isn’t something easy to achieve. Luckily for my kids, I’ve found an ice skating rink! It’s about an hour and a half away, but super affordable and I cannot wait to surprise them with a trip!

There are so many local activities we’re looking forward to tomorrow, and I’m hoping to hit almost all them! Just in one day we have:

-A Run, Run Rudolph 5k and 1k (8:30 am)

-Ice House Museum Make it and Take it Event(9-11am)

-Christmas in The Big Thicket Festival(10am-5pm)

-Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at the library(11am-2pm)

and the first Christmas Parade we’ll be attending! (6-7pm)

Do you think we’ll be able to do them all? I hope so!

Wade has his first Christmas Party at Taekwondo next Thursday. Then next Friday we have the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in the Park (I /love/ tree lighting ceremonies!)which is going to have a Santa and a few activities. We’ve already had Santa come by on the firetruck and throw candy canes! (Our local fire department does this every year, on the weekends they do 6-7 streets a night with Santa rolling by)

The 14th we’re going to a premiere of the new Star Wars (because we’re total Star Wars nerds, no lie).

On the 15th we have our Friendsmas get together and white elephant (I’m NOT hosting this time). Then the 19th the kids have a potluck and so far those are all our set-in-stone plans before the big day! I’m sure there will be plenty more, as I mentioned the ice skating earlier!

Is your December calendar full yet? What activities do you have planned so far?

Hello, December! - The Southern Smiths: A few of my favorite things, as well as some of our December plans!
Cooking, General, Thanksgiving

5 Unique Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

I hope you had a great holiday! Now’s the time where you’re home, you’re relaxing, and you start to realize: you have WAY too much food, and no idea what to do with it. You either hosted, and no one took any home, or you attended and were sent with an oversized roaster pan full of leftovers.

Well, here are 5 more creative recipes to help get rid of those pesky Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Turkey and Cranberry Quesadillas 


Thanksgiving Leftovers Stromboli

Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie with Stuffing Crust 

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Pizza 

Turkey Mushroom and Cranberry Risotto 

Have you tried any of these recipes? What’s your favorite thing to do with leftovers?

5 Unique Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes - The Southern Smiths: From stromboli to risotto, these are recipes you don't want to miss!