Morning Coffee – Apple’s Christmas Ad is Heartwarming Goodness

Morning Coffee – Apple’s Christmas Ad is Heartwarming Goodness

Morning Coffee - JumpStart Your Day


Apple’s Christmas Ad 2013

I don’t even have the words, except to say. Bravo. Apple gets this one completely right.

Source: YouTube



Airport Security Makes Priceless Save

Man, is this guy a kidnapper? An evil elf stealing away all the good little kids? The Pied Piper, maybe… grabbing up a straggling baby?

I’d almost hope for one of the above, after seeing this airport surveillance video. This father needs coal in his stocking this year (pretty sure he’ll get it too, after Mom sees this video).

Watch as airport security makes a life-saving catch, while dad carries on, totally unaware of the danger facing baby.

Source: LiveLeak



Santa Stakeout Kit – with a Twist 

This is not your kid’s stakeout kit of yore. This lovely tidbit was shared with me by a reader and well… let’s hope we’re not dealing with a Santa extinction crisis in 2014?

Source: Gawker



DIY Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

DIY Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

I love the traditions of Christmas, and making memories with my kids that they will look back on (hopefully fondly) when they have their own kids.

When my boys were little we used to light the Advent candles and reflect every night on the theme of the week. When little Miss came along, I suppose it just became too much for me to manage, and although the Advent candles come out every year, we haven’t kept up with daily devotionals.

This year I wanted to do something special to count down the days to Christmas Day, and thought of doing something memorable from the children’s perspectives while also spending some time reflecting daily on the meaning behind the season.

I’ve always wanted to have an Advent Calendar, but never got around to getting one. This year, inspired by Pinterest, I decided we should make one!

But all the ideas I liked needed a good deal of space on a mantel or side table or wall, none of which really worked for our small space.

So… we came up with our own Advent Calendar. :)

It’s really simple to put together, fits in any space, and the result is beautiful to behold.

Gather Materials

Gather Materials

First we gathered all our materials.

We used:

  • cardstock and gorgeous scrapbooking paper for the trees
  • old necklaces to upcycle the jump rings and beads
  • ribbon or twine to hold each tree together

Then we printed the Christmas Tree pattern onto the cardstock and paper.

You can download the pattern below and you can use it to get a template for both the large and small trees.

To get the larger trees you’ll want to select “Actual Size” when you’re printing. To get the smaller trees, select “Fit to Page”.

[button-green url=”” target=”_self” position=”left”] Download Tree Pattern [/button-green]

Cardstock Patterns

Print Pattern on Cardstock


Assembling the components came next, and you can either use a hole-punch and string your pairs of small and large trees together with ribbon.

We opted for using a small sharp tool (a needle or a very sharp pencil will do) and using twine to string our trees together, because I liked the natural feel to it.

We also strung a couple beads together and attached that to the twine to dress them up a bit.

Finished Trees

Assemble the Components

We plan to countdown the last 12 days of Christmas together, so each pair of trees needed to be numbered.

You can number each of the small trees with a marker, or you can do what we did – hang a cardstock star cutout from the twine.

I liked using the stars, because the children can write an idea for family time behind each star, and they get to have their together-time wishes come true each night.

I have to say I’m really happy with the way these turned out, and I’m really looking forward to making some new memories with my babies!

Advent Calendar



A special thank you to Bead Cafe Craft & Hobby
for providing some of the materials used in this project!
BeadCafe Craft and Hobby

3D Spiral Snowflakes

3D Spiral Snowflakes

Ok they’re snowflakes, but I keep calling them stars. Something about the Caribbean and not having actual snow. Still, we do put up fir trees every year, so I guess we can allow snowflakes, right? :)

These are all over these days, but Lia Griffith has included a printable pattern for her 3-D Paper Snowflakes along with her tutorial which we loved.

We had so much fun making these, the kids have talked me into making more today. :)


I adapted the pattern slightly to make 2 larger sizes as well, which you can download here:

[button-white url=”” target=”_self” position=”left”] Pattern 1 [/button-white][button-white url=”” target=”_self” position=”left”] Pattern 2 [/button-white]

For the full tutorial please visit Lia’s blog:
Making 3-D Paper Snowflakes


5 Holiday Hostessing Tips to Impress Your In-Laws

5 Holiday Hostessing Tips to Impress Your In-Laws

Family All Together for the Holidays

Christmas is just around the corner, and for some of us, it will be the first time hosting the occasion. In addition to the regular hustle and bustle surrounding the holidays, you may feel extra pressure to maintain a great relationship with your in-laws. To pull off a seamless holiday that impresses your spouse’s family, be prepared to plan ahead and put in some extra legwork.

Send a Charming Invitation

A quick way to gain traction with your in-laws is to send an invitation to your holiday event. This sets the tone for the day and shows your family that you’re ready to set aside possible grievances and have a great time. Consider sending a holiday card inviting them to Christmas dinner at your place. For bonus points, include a small gift to indicate that you’re thinking of them. For example, ship a box of chocolate strawberries with a note saying, “Just an early Christmas gift in anticipation of our get-together in a week!”

Plan the Meal Early

To ensure that the holiday meal goes smoothly, set your agenda in stone at least a week before the big day. Plan each course of the meal, buy any must-have items (such as a large enough turkey roaster), and draw up a timeline to guide you through the stressful day-of cooking. At least a few days before the holiday, purchase everything you’ll need to cook. Don’t forget to buy extra flour, milk, sugar, butter, and other essentials in case something goes awry. Real Simple suggests making desserts or side dishes a day or two before the big event. It’s also helpful to dice, chop, and otherwise prep everything at least a day in advance to save time.

Don’t Take On Anything New

Sure, you’re excited to impress your in-laws, but now is not the time to make homemade puff pastry if you’ve never tried it before. When planning the meal, use only tried-and-true recipes that you have successfully made at least two or three times in the past. If you’re dead set on recreating your mother-in-law’s fantastic cornbread stuffing, ask her for the recipe well in advance and do at least one test run to ensure all goes well.

Create a Playlist

If it’s your first time hosting, things might be awkward for the first few minutes before everyone settles into a routine. To break the ice, add a little background music to get everyone in the holiday spirit. Apartment Therapy suggests a holiday playlist that hits all of the right notes for your gathering. Think classic holiday tunes from Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, or Mariah Carey to keep everyone in a cheerful frame of mind.

It’s All About the Little Things

Tiny details can make a big difference when you’re hosting for the holidays. To wow your in-laws, pay special attention to lighting and decorations. For example, lighting a bunch of pillar candles sets everything with a flickering glow that will soothe everyone’s nerves. Another great approach is to decorate the table with seasonal trinkets. HGTV suggests laying pine boughs across the center of the table. Spray painting pine cones with silver paint or a light dusting of glitter will add a holiday touch. Then, create simple holly leaf place cards out of red card stock to add a classic touch.

Holiday Kid’s Craft Roundup

Holiday Kid’s Craft Roundup

The holiday crafts I’m loving this week.

Simple enough for kids to play along, beautiful enough to unabashedly put on display, and accessible enough to make with things you already have at home (for the most part).

  1. Holiday Origami Decorations via Mini Eco
  2. Paper Hearts via Morning Creativity
  3. Recycled Boxes Christmas Village via Paging SuperMom
  4. Easy Snowman Craft via Premeditated Leftovers
  5. Beaded Candy Cane via A Girl and a Glue Gun

Have fun crafting and discovering some great crafty blogs!


Yes kiddo, there is a Santa Claus

Yes kiddo, there is a Santa Claus

I had a long talk with my eldest in the wee hours of this morning.

He kept me company as I sat feeding his sister while the rest of the household slept. He looked like he was turning something over in his mind, some puzzle he was trying to figure out on his own.

Mom. I want to believe in Santa Claus, but Daddy is making me feel like maybe… He’s confusing me! He tells me he exists, the he says things to make me think maybe he doesn’t exist!

My husband, as it turns out, isn’t very good at keeping his story straight. Clearly there must be some kind of coordination between Santa and the ‘rents, but it seems the Santa-Parents connection has been less than consistent of late, leaving my son to wonder if he’s being “led down the primrose path”. Did I get that Polar Express reference right?

Just like the little boy in the Polar Express, my son is at the age where the magic could be at an end. We’ve known this day was coming, and while we have no intention of fooling our son… how can I tell him Santa doesn’t exist?

I can’t take that magic away from him when I… I still believe in the magic.

That’s right. There’s a part of this grown-up that still believes in Santa Claus.

The way I look at it (and the way I explained it to my son) what’s Santa about?

  • Generosity of spirit
  • Justice
  • Hope
  • Sharing
  • Community
  • Love
  • with a dash of Miracle

If that’s what Santa represents, I don’t see any harm in keeping the faith alive in a little corner of my heart.

I mean we all know the media can blow things out of proportion, don’t we? Stories take on a momentum of their own and details get fuzzy… distorted… blown out of proportion.

Maybe instead of travelling the world, Santa only travels a small portion of the world and hopes to inspire by example.

Maybe he isn’t around in flesh and blood anymore. But who’s to tell me that I can’t take comfort in knowing that somewhere, in some time, Santa exists.

Nobody. That’s who! Because I know for sure he exists. And I hope he always lives right here in my heart.

Sundays In My City – Trini Christmas (Part 2)

Sundays In My City – Trini Christmas (Part 2)

What Christmas would be complete without a trip with the kids to the local mall to see the gorgeous decorations?
Their Christmas tree is spectacular every year.
I love that the design incorporates local elements such as the stately palm trees…
…alongside the gorgeous poinsettias. (I guess the reindeer do make it this far south?)
And look! On exit, there’s the roadside vendor selling Sorrel.
Sorrel is a local flowering herb, and these purplish flowers are harvested late in the year and used to make a delicious drink that is inextricably linked to Christmas.
The flowers are boiled with ginger and cloves and,
after being left to steep for some time, the liquid is drained off and sweetened.
In a word… Delicious! In another word, Refreshing!

I love the childrens’ Christmas Pageants every year…

On Christmas Eve, it is customary to attend one of the many church services (not everyone can make it to Midnight Mass.)

And on Christmas morning, we wake early to just spend time as a family – sharing time, sharing presents and of course, good food!

What’s Christmas like in your City?
Unknown Mami

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you a season filled with 
and Peace!

Sundays In My City – Trini Christmas (Part 1)

Sundays In My City – Trini Christmas (Part 1)

It’s Christmas in Trinidad!

My favourite time of the year. I kid you not, there are some decorations that never come down because my husband (who may love Christmas even more than I do) tries to keep the Christmas Spirit alive in our house all year round…
There’s so much tradition here that surrounds this time of the year. You get wrapped up in food and music and friends and family. Even though the seasons don’t change for us… there’s just something special in the air!
Pastelles and Ponche de Creme
No self-respecting Trini household can be without pastelles at Christmas. Because as soon as your guests walk through the door – it’s the first thing they’re looking for!
It’s basically a small cornmeal pie, wrapped and steamed. The filling is cooked minced meat (beef, chicken or pork) mixed with capers and raisins and olives – or any variation you like. Wrap that all in a cornmeal “skin” and steam it. Keep it from drying out by steaming and storing wrapped in a banana leaf, and you can freeze these babies for months.
And to wash it all down – a nice glass of ponche-de-creme. Depending on whether you’re a believer in the French or the Spanish origin of this yummy spiked egg-nog there are different variations on the name (punch-a-creme, punch-a-crema, punch-a-cream) but any way you say it, it means delicious!
My mother’s aunt makes the best pastelles EVER! Don’t even come try to test, cos you’re going DOWN Bobby Flay Throwdown style! These are not hers, these are my darling husband’s. Have I mentioned that he’s the best cook and keeps our tummies nice and happy all year round? Oh yeh!

You start off with strip of banana leaf, and roll out the cornmeal mixture in the middle.

Spoon in your filling. It doesn’t have to be meat, although it traditionally is.

Growing up I hated raisins in mine and used to pick them out. Now I LOVE them. Still not fond of the olives. :-(

Once your filling is in, fold one side of the banana leaf  over, so your cornmeal begins to make a little pocket for the filling. Kinda like a cornmeal envelope.

Do the same thing on the other 4 sides so the filling is totally enclosed in cornmeal.

 Wrap the entire pastel in the banana leaf and steam in a colander over a pot of boiling water. (Some people tie them with twine and boil them).

These accompany breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are BELOVED.
Next time around I’ll tell you about our homemade wine and sorrel. But for now, I’ll leave you with a local song telling you all about Christmas in Trinidad – Trini Christmas is D Best!
Okay one more… A favourite of mine. I absolutely love this song. Sung by Sharlene Flores (but not originally by her) it’s called Burbujas de Amor, and it’s on constant radio rotation during the holidays.
This is part of Unknown Mami’Sundays in My City. Go visit her and travel the world to visit Sundays in other cities!

Unknown Mami

Holiday Surprises coming soon!

Stay tuned for updates!