How to gift Christmas ornaments that will make humans, pets, and trees happy (plus a special discount) from Susabella

By on Nov 21st
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas with Susabella's ornaments.

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas with Susabella's ornaments.

It's Christmas tree time for me! I always get mine the week after Thanksgiving. Then it's time to break out my ornaments and be all like "Oh hey, I forgot about this one. This is the one we got on our honeymoon! Aw, your mom gave us this guy, I'll put it in a special place…" For some peeps (like me), one of the best parts of the holidays is decorating the tree.

Why not gift your loved ones an awesome, loving addition to their favorite holiday tradition? That's totally easy to do with our longtime sponsor Susabella. Susabella specializes in personalized, handmade ceramic items for gifts, and home decor.

Check out this Christmas ornament gift guide complete with special discount from Susabella…

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DIY is magic: Make your own My Little Pony plushie

Guestpost by Stephanie Segall on Nov 20th
All photos/pony wizardry by Stephanie.

All photos/pony wizardry by Stephanie.

When I asked my brother if there was anything I could make for my niece for the holidays, I was a little overwhelmed when he suggested a My Little Pony — Friendship is Magic plushie of Pinkie Pie. I'd never sewn a stuffed animal before, and I'd be a pony newbie creating something to give to a pony expert!

I let the idea brew in the back of my mind for a while, as I tend to do for all sewing projects, until one day when a box full of gorgeous recycled felt arrived from a friend. Two shades of pink? Check! The project was on! I planned an entire weekend of sewing, but ended up adding two evenings so I could add pony clothing to the gift.

The felt was purchased from FeltForLess on Etsy. I will say that the thickness is similar to the wool blend felt I get from American Felt and Craft. It seemed to stretch a bit easier than the wool, and didn't have the subtle color variations that make wool felt so rich. But the colors were bright and it cut like a dream. I had no trouble working with it. It did lack that subtle "wool sweater feel" love so much about wool felt, but I'd use it again!

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Why we should ask and answer more repetitive, annoying, offensive questions

Guestpost by MelRuth on Nov 19th

I am Pagan, and I have always hated the repetitive, annoying, or offensive questions that occur every time I come out of the broom closet.

Until now.

I live in the UK and work at a museum which has a decorative display of nativity items within the collection. For the run up to Christmas these will be on display in the gallery and I was given the job of creating the labels for this display. Unfortunately for everyone my knowledge of Christmas and the nativity is rather limited to what I have gained from TV, and when I got to be a fairy in the nursery nativity (I have now learned I was never a fairy, I was an angel which both bolstered and crushed my childish esteem).

I decided the best way to tackle this was to learn about the nativity, and what I was being asked to display. First I read the bible story, which resulted in questions. Since I had yet to come out of the broom closet in this job (because of the dreaded questions) I decided I would ask a Catholic friend and a Church of Scotland friend the questions I had gathered.

I genuinely was trying to find out about the nativity so that I could do a good job, and present the nativity scene in an appropriate way. But in doing so, I became an annoying, repetitive, and offensive question asker.

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12 of my "favorite things" to gift to your favorite people

By on Nov 18th
We've already done all the shopping, so you don't have to.

We've already done all the shopping, so you don't have to.

It's that time of year again — the holiday season is ramping up, which means it's time to think about gifts! For those that don't know, I'm an enthusiastic gift giver — giving the perfect gift is more exciting to me than receiving a gift. I also like to spread my excitement around and help YOU ALL find the perfect gift for everyone on your lists. So here starts the latest round of Offbeat Home & Life gift guides.

For this one, we're going through the "my favorite things" archive AND re-visiting some of the things I've featured on Offbeat Home & Life that are STILL my favorite things… and may soon be your [parent/friend/partner/child]'s favorite thing.

Get your shopping fingers ready, because there's a BIG chance that you'll find something you need for someone you love…

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Old fashion chicken and noodle soup without the work

Guestpost by Kelsey on Nov 18th

My grandma used to make the best soups. I remember lying on the couch, sick, and she'd spend hours in the kitchen making soup from scratch. And it would be totally worth the wait, because I've never had anything more delicious.

Now that I'm an adult and expected to cook for myself, I find myself wishing my grandma would come live with me. I love cooking, but I'm also a graduate student in the tiniest of apartments. Neither of which are conducive to homemade meals. On the other hand, canned soups tend to have too much sodium for me. I have finally found a recipe that not only tastes amazing (pretty darn close to grandma's!) but requires very little work.

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Different last names: How do I make our family sound more coherent?

By on Nov 17th
I am a divorced woman who will be getting re-married soon. My daughter from my last marriage still has my ex's last name. But now I'm torn about what to do with my own last name?

Part of me wants my daughter and I to have the same name, but I also don't want to be stuck with the name that is associated with such a crap time in my life. I obviously can't have both.

Since I can't change our child's last name to that of my husband, is there anything that I can do to make our new family sound more coherent? -Amy

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Holiday decor that doesn't take up too much space

By on Nov 14th
IRIS 3-Piece Holiday Ribbon and Bow Storage Set

Even the SMALL 3-Piece Holiday Storage Set is too much.

The holidays are fast approaching. Both my husband and I come from families who love the holidays, so we both are super excited to have our own place to holiday-ify and celebrate together.

However, the problem is we have NO room to store any decorations post-holidays. My main concern is Christmas, but really any holiday is important for us.

How do the Homies who live in small spaces decorate their homes without generating the tubs of decor to store away later? -Kelsey

That photo up there, that's the SMALL storage boxes for holiday decor. That would take up a great deal of space in my residence. So here are a few of my favorite holiday storage tips…

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You better love root veggies: What you should know about winter CSA shares

Guestpost by Emily on Nov 13th

An earlier version of this post appeared here. Looking for a CSA near you? Check out localharvest.org

winter-CSA-pickup

Since 2011, my husband and I have survived the harsh, long New England winters in part thanks to our winter Community Supported Agriculture share.

At our farm (and your mileage may vary), winter shares begin in early November and we pick up our veggies at the farm twice a month through early March. Those fresh, delicious, organic vegetables seem to make winter a little less bleak.

I highly recommend winter CSA shares (and summer ones too, but that's another post). Not all farms have them, but they're awesome if you can find one. Below are some tips and some of what I've learned over the past three winters of our participation:

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