12 Languages of “Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas” everyone!   Love, the Fullerton Family (Chella + Kona)

Italian: “Buon Natale” (bwohn na-tah-lay)
Swedish and Norwgian: “God Jul” (good yeul)
Greek: “Kala Christouyenna” (ka-la khree-stoo-ye-na)
German: “Frohe Weihnachten” (fro-uh vai-nachk-ten)
Portuguese: “Feliz Natal” (fel-eej na-tow)
Swahili: “Hari za Krismas” (he-ree za krees-mas)
Dutch: “Vrolijke Kerst” (fro-al0ik-er kehrst)
Finnish: “Hyvaa Joulua” (hew-vae yoa-looah)
Danish: “Glaedelig Jul” (glaedh-er-lee yool)
Icelandic: “Gledileg Jol” (gleoi-leg johl)
Turkish: “Iyi Noeller” (ee-yee no-el-air)

…I guess it’s 13 counting English… MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🙂

Tricks for the Post-Christmas Pack-Up

Now that the craziness of decorating for Christmas has past, here are some helpful tips on how to pack-up and ship-out to make next year’s decorating process a breeze:

1. Take Inventory
Before you start your Christmas pack-up, take inventory of the decorations you have so that you don’t buy items you already own next year. Use an old spiral notebook as your decorating journal: use a number system to label the boxes and the items on your list according to what box they’re in. That way when you only want to get down some of the decorations, you’ll know exactly which boxes to take down from the attic. Another helpful packing tip is to pack all the items that you usually want out first in one box and label it “Open First.”

2. De-junk before you box it up
If something is broken, loosing its luster, or just not used anymore – get rid of it! Don’t keep storing things that you don’t use (especially if you have limited storage space, like us!).

3. Wrap-up your Christmas lights
On an empty coffee tin! The two most tangled things in the world: Garden hoses and Christmas lights… This year rinse out an old coffee can and cut a slit in the lid. Slid the plug-end of the Christmas lights through the end of the lid and then wrap the lights around the tin (we used this idea for the garland as well). You can keep extra bulbs and extension cords inside the tin. If you finally have the perfect decorations, label each roll of lights so that you know exactly where to hang them next year, and before you unroll the lights, plug them in to an outlet to make sure that they still work. Also, make sure to store colored lights in the dark to keep them from fading.

4. Pack your ornaments like you’re going to ship them
We have a paper shredder that we took the shredding from and used as packing material for our delicate ornaments. Used gift wrap is also great to use to protect precious memories until next year. If you bought new ornaments this year, keep the containers that they came in so that they have the safest home possible. If you didn’t keep the original container, try using partitioned liquor or wine boxes (We shop at Costco so we grabbed a few boxes on our way out to use). For food-ornaments, put them in a sandwich bag so that they don’t attract unwanted guests while they are left unattended all year.

5. Treat tablecloths like a pretty dress
Instead of creasing up your holiday linens by folding them, use skirt hangers for tablecloths, place mats, and even napkins. Use a trash bag to cover them (like a garment bag) before storing them in the attic so that they don’t get dirty.

6. Tame Tangled Ribbons
Ribbons and other wrapping-essentials (scissors, tape, name-tags, etc.) can be difficult to track down (and untangle) from year-to-year. You can make your own wrapping station with a shoebox and a paper towel roll. Cut the paper towel roll so that it fits long-ways inside the show box. Cut slits in the side of the shoe box that are large enough for the ribbon to go through. Slide each roll of ribbon onto the paper towel roll and place it inside the shoe-box. After feeding each piece of ribbon through the slits, you can use the back of the box to store tape, scissors, and name-tags until next year.

Merry Christmas everyone! 🙂

Home-Made 3D Star Decoration

To decorate our front entry, I found a website that described how to make these 3D Stars, but it was very confusing – so I thought I would share my star-making journey with – hopefully – some easier instructions. They make great decorations, and might be a fun craft to do with children who are a little bit older.

Step One: Cut the longest piece of paper you can find into approximately one-inch strips – then tape 3 or 4 pieces together to make them even longer. OR, you could buy paper strips from a craft store to make the task a little easier.

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Step Two: Fold the strips in half and line up the ends. Cut the ends so that it makes the paper easier to work with.

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Step Three: Line up the ends so that they’re a little off – one half is about 3 inches longer than the other. Crease the fold so that you don’t loose this ratio.

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Step Four: Create a basket weave bottom by sliding the two loose ends of each strip into the folded end of another strip.

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Step Five: The last strip of the basket weave will have to be pushed through an existing weave like a stitch.

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Step Six: Fold the top-right strip behind and to the right to form a triangle.

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Step Seven: Now fold that same piece forward and down to form a pyramid.

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Step Eight: Now fold this strip forward and to the left to get back to a pyramid. You will have to feed this strip through the top of your basket weave. If you pick it up and bend the triangle backwards a little bit when you do it it makes it a little easier to feed it through.

20111216-232917.jpgStep Nine: Repeat this step for the remaining 3 strips coming out on the right side of the star – then flip the project over and do the same thing 4 more times on the back. Then fold the left over strip straight up in the air from where it comes out of the weave.

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Step Ten: This is where I had to add another strip of paper to keep going. Set your star on it’s side so that it is standing up. Take the strip on the right (the one that I added paper to in this photo). Hold the tip of this strip with your thumb on top and index finger on the bottom and rotate the strip counter-clockwise. Keep the top part with your thumb on top always.

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Step Eleven: Slide that underneath the strip to the left (make sure to keep the original top still facing up)

20111216-233018.jpgStep Twelve: Pull the loop tight to make a point (I tucked the ends of my strips into the triangle point so that the 3d point would stay tight, but if it’s easier you can just cut your ends off).

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Step Thirteen: Repeat on the remaining 3 strips sticking out on this side. Turn the star over and repeat on all 4 strips on that side.

20111216-233202.jpgYou’re all finished! One tip is that if the tape from where you joined the paper together is showing on a particular fold, undo that last step and move the tape back some so that it is hidden.

Merry Christmas!

Mrs. Fullerton’s Porcupine Meatballs

I love recipes that use up all the stuff that you already have in your pantry. Here’s a quick and easy meal from my MIL (mother-in-law). Even though it’s a simple and inexpensive meal, in no time this recipe will find its way into the comfort-food category and be a family favorite!

Ingredients:
2 lbs. hamburger meat
2/3 cups white rice
1/4 cup bread crumps
Pinch of salt & pepper
1 egg
Pinch of dried parsley
2 cans tomato soup

Directions: Mix all ingredients together except for the cans of tomato soup. Roll meat mixture into medium sized meatballs. Spray pan with Pam. (Use a pan with a lid that’s flat on the bottom.) Brown meat on all sides. Pour both cans of tomato soup in pan. Add 1 1/2 cans of water. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Simmer on low moving the meatballs around occasionally. Serves 4 to 5 people.

Next time you have your neighbors over for dinner you will try the recipe and enjoy it!

Christmas Cards

With Christmas right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about sending your Christmas cards out! We’ve already received a few Christmas cards with a sweet note and a recent family photo inside, but you can also combine the idea and send out all-in-one Christmas cards with your photo on them.

A really cool option is to go digital with your Christmas cars with Apple’s new app called Cards. You can create Christmas cards right from your phone with a photo that you just took and send it to someone in your address book all in one swoop (only $2.99!) or with Postagram, you can do the same thing but with a post card (only $0.99!).

If you prefer to hand write a message before your cards get sent out, here’s a few holiday discounts and specials to help you save money from online printing companies where you can either order prints of your Christmas portrait to stuff ready-made Christmas cards, or you can create your own card:

Pear Tree Greetings
15% off $49 or more: Enter Promo Code “REAL”
Expires 12/31/11

Minted
10% off holiday cards: www.minted.com/realsimple

Paper Culture
25% off: www.paperculture.com/holiday
Expires 1/1/12

Expressionery
15% off Items Site-Wide: www.expressionery.com/RSDEC11
Use offer code: RSDEC11
Expressionery offers custom stamps as well to make a fun time of return-address labels

Tiny Prints
I didn’t find a discount for this one, but it is an option…

For our first Christmas as a married couple, we’re going to take a picture with our pup, Kona, all wrapped up in Christmas lights. It should be cute! I hope this helps get you going on your Christmas cards this year!

Gifts Ideas for Acquaintances

Neighbors, work friends, party acquaintances, and the cute kid next door, all present a Christmas predicament: To gift or not to gift?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if you should give a gift to these people or not: If they truly weren’t expecting anything, they probably didn’t get you anything either and that can make them feel unnecessarily uncomfortable, but if they were expecting a gift that can be awkward too!

Here’s a few gift ideas that say “I’m glad we know each other,” without going over the top and making them feel bad if they didn’t get you anything in return:

For Kids
S’mores kit: $23, recciuti.com
Giant Gummy Bear: $30 at redenvelope.com
Legos: Target, Walmart, etc…
Chalkboard place mats $33 for 4 at bafriend.bigcartel.com
Toy Salad Set: $25 at landofnod.com

For “Grown-Ups”
Caramel Collection: $27 theochocolate.com
Candied Pecans: $49 squirrelbrand.com
Costco has some pretty good deals on all kinds of gift baskets
Brainy Board Game: “Six-Word Memoirs,” $20 at areyougame.com
Smokin’ books: These little books look like packs of cigarettes but they’re actually classic literature! $17 at tenover6.com
Camera-lens mugs: $24-$35 at photojojo.com
Stanley Flask: $20 at rei.com
Color-block gloves $35 at blockheadwear.com

For Men
Men are so difficult to buy for! This year my husband and I agreed not to get each other anything, but there is still my dad, my husband’s dad, and my brothers that we have to figure out gifts for – so this is a little more personal, but I came across an iPhone wallet that I thought might be a good idea for some of the men in your life that you’re a bit closer to. Especially if he’s anti-man purse, this is a great combination of phone-case and leather wallet (but it only has 6 card slots). $50 at shophex.com “The Code Wallet”

Cheap Family Activities

Entertaining kids is the one thing I definitely know how to do! Having grown up in St. Augustine myself, I’ve learned first-hand where all the fun things to do around town are, so here are some solutions to getting kids off of the couch during the holiday break!

Anastasia Family Bowling Pass: Go to www.kidsbowlfree.com and print off free kids bowling coupons, or you can pay $24.95 to get a family pass for the summer, which includes 4 adults and 6 kids – all you have to pay is the $4.50 shoe rental fee. 904-471-3565.

Sunday $5 Movies at Regal Cinemas: The Regal at the Avenues Mall in Jacksonville shows all of their movies for only $5 on Sundays. You can all go together as a family, or you can drop the kids off and do a little Christmas shopping while they watch the movie. Go to www.fandango.com to see show times.

Castillo De San Marcos: One of the most popular attractions in St. Augustine is FREE for children 15 and under and to locals. Non-local adult tickets are $6. The fort is open daily from 8:45 AM to 5:15 PM. 904-829-6506.

Oldest House Museum Complex: Located on Charlotte Street in historic Downtown, locals and children 6 and under are free, students are $4, and adults are $8. It is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM. 904-824-0192.

Colonial Spanish Quarter and Spanish Quarter Museum – Locals can visit the recreated Spanish Village for free. It is located on St. George St. in downtown St. Augustine.

Fort Matanzas – This fort is built on an island and you have to take a boat to get there – but it’s free to locals! It is open daily and about 15 miles south of St. Augustine on A1A.

Lightner Museum – the former Alcazar Hotel. It includes many collections from stained glass art by Louis Tiffany to porcelain and furniture. It is open 9 AM – 5 PM. While you are there, take time for lunch at the Alcazar Cafe that is located in what used to be the swimming pool when it was a hotel.