Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Embracing a not so picture perfect Christmas

 We all have a vision in our minds what Christmas is supposed to look like, right?  Perfectly decorated trees, candles glowing next to a beautifully decorated table, the children playing board games so peacefully by the glowing fireplace and gifts wrapped so delicately and perfectly placed just right under the Christmas tree.

And enter reality here...Wilke style.  Dan and I just got done wrapping gifts for tomorrow morning.  The kids are only getting 3 gifts (due to our puppy surprise a month ago).  Nothing fancy.  Mostly clothes.  Books.  Water bottles for basketball.  Backpacks.  No huge electronics or fancy toys.  Frankly we are good to go with everything we need so even trying to find some "necessity" things was a bit tricky.  I will clarify on the wrapping front as well.  The gifts are a hot mess.  Old wrapping paper.  Tape everywhere.  Corners just kind of crinkled in...not creased.  And we write on the gifts with a sharpie as to who they go to.  Is this how I pictured our wrapping situation to take place?  No way.  A few years ago I would have had the gifts all wrapped by early December.  They would have been hidden away in our closet.  Neat corners and all.  For the past 4 days we have had the gifts strewn all over our bedroom.  The kids have walked in and out of our room on numerous occasions over the course of the past 4 days.  I know this may shock many of could you let the kids see their potential gifts?  What about the surprise?  Well, I guess we are kinda party poopers here.  Santa doesn't visit our house.  He is off delivering to other families and our kids are totally ok with that.  I think over the course of all that has happened to us this past year we are truly just grateful for what we have.  It has been a rough year in many many ways, but also such an incredible year in way many more ways.  We have learned to set up boundaries.  We have had to let things go.  We have learned to be "ok" with situations.  God has put so many solid people in our life over the course of the past 2 years that without them I am not sure where we would be.
 Please don't let our Christmas card pictures fool you.  We are far from perfect.  Our kids aren't perfect.  We yell at the kids sometimes....or a lot of times.  Our house is kind of a disaster zone right now.  Just keep walking past the bedrooms I tell myself daily.  I can't do it all.  Our Christmas tree is decorated only about half way down because the 3 cats keep climbing it and knocking ornaments off. There are pine needles everywhere because we forgot to water the tree.  Our puppy poops in the house daily.  Sometimes multiple times a day.  We have no bread or milk in the house right now.  (due to a lack of grocery shopping!).  And we.are.okay.with. that.
We are embracing our crazy life.  We are enjoying our new home this Christmas.  We are loving being warm and waking up to warmth.  We are SO grateful for our jobs and our kid's school.  We try our best to help when/where we can.  We take things day by day.  Maybe Christmas will be a little more fancy for us next year, but for this year.... It is a Perfect Christmas for us.  We are simply grateful this year.  Merry Christmas from the Wilke Family!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cookies and more Cookies! The 1st Annual FATF Cookie Exchange!

Well, that just happened!  Wow!

Nellie and I just hosted our very 1st Christmas Cookie Exchange for Fridays at the Farm.  

It was awesome!~

***All of this was made possible by Nellie***
I was a loser and got sick and over scheduled myself and got overwhelmed and kinda shut down and panicked and almost cried in a corner of Walmart while shopping at 10:00 at night...

Nellie rescued me yesterday.  She did all the thinking about the cookie exchange.  

We started off by prepping our drink stations.  We had sherbet punch, apple cider and a hot cocoa bar.  Next year we are gonna get that hot cocoa right on the 1st try ;)  No more burnt whole pot of hot cocoa!

I had found these super cute mini loaf dishes at Michaels the day after Thanksgiving.  I had a grand idea of making everyone homemade Banana Bread.  We may have cut it a bit close, but the last loaf came out of the over at a little after 5:00 and Nellie and Lanie had those breads packaged up and ready to go as a little Thank You from us for coming to our cookie exchange!  We didn't taste test the bread so we are hoping for the best!
 Nellie created some more fabulous printable for us.  We went with a pink, red and brown theme.  Pink you say?  Uh huh!  When you have super cute all pink pencils to use, you can bring the color pink into anything.
We had our stations all set up.  One dozen cookie to go on each plate for our sampling.  

 And then the cookies arrived!

 I told you those pencils were cute!  After the cookies were all set up and ready for testing we gave a quick instruction.  You couldn't vote for your own cookie and only one cookie per card.

 The rest of the cookies went around our kitchen island so we could walk around and fill our tins/trays with a dozen of each of the different kinds of cookies.
 Let the sampling begin!  There were so many different kinds of cookies and 13 different kinds of cookies to try is a lot of tasting!

 The ladies sampled and ate and rested and ate some more.  And then they voted.  Nellie and I tallied the votes and we had some close races!  And the winners ARE:

                                  LORENA LUKE:  BEST LOOKING COOKIE AWARD!

                                    AMANADA GRAEVE:  MOST CREATIVE COOKIE

                                     TIFFANY BIESBOER:  MOST UNIQUE COOKIE

                                            NELLIE LEIS:  BEST TASTING COOKIE
 Tiffany wasn't able to be there (she dropped her cookies off ahead of time), but here are the winners :)
 Everyone left with 13 dozen different cookies.  Yum yum~ !
It was a success, I think!  ALL of the cookies were SO good.  Thank you to all who were able to participate!

Please don't forget to sign up for next semesters classes!  If you are viewing from a cell phone you have to click on the full web version for the sign up to work!  The new schedule of classes is at the top of the page!  We can't wait to craft with you again after the New Year!

Monday, December 15, 2014


YAY!  You can sign up for next semesters classes starting today!!!

Click on the link labeled " Schedule of classes" which will give you directions


Click on the Sign up "button" on the right side of this blog!

*Remember to sign up for the morning or the evening session!

I have to confirm childcare for the morning session yet...but it WILL be offered.  $5 per child for the 2 hour session.  Please include that in the "notes" section when you check out how many children you will need care for!

You will need to pay a $10 class deposit for each class you sign up for.  The remainder of the balance will be due when you come to the class!

Ok...go sign up now!

Thank you for your support and for being a part of my dream.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winter/Spring Craft Session Preview!

So after planning and talking and planning and changing our minds and planning and talking some more......We have completed the next semester of craft sessions! I really hope you are as excited about these as we are!  They are going to be A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

Ok so this is the deal.  When Nellie and I had a random encounter at the beach last summer and we casually talked about doing this we really had no clue!  We have done a lot of living and learning and have had to tweak a few things to make this the best overall experience for everyone!  

Tweak #1:  The price.  I know, I know.  We had to do some adjusting to our pricing.  There were many weeks when we made nothing and even a few weeks when we *gulp* lost money.  We understand that the price was part of the draw to the sessions and we really hope that you all will still come.  Thank you in advance for understanding all the work that goes into each and every Friday at the Farm!  

Tweak #2:  Sign up.  We will have a new way of signing up for the sessions.  I will go into further detail in a few days after the listings are up.  In short, you will head to my etsy store and purchase your spot for the session you want to sign up for that way.  (Once the class is filled you will no longer be able to purchase that session)  The cost of the "deposit" will be $10 per class you sign up for.  This will be a NON REFUNDABLE $10 with the remaining balance due at the class.  We struggled with many no shows and with last minute cancellations.  Don't get me a mom of 7 I totally understand no showing or canceling last minute...I am guilty of it as well.  However, we would purchase enough material for everyone signed up and there were many weeks when we had left overs and had prepped for too many and then couldn't return items.  I also spend a ton of time at craft stores looking for the best deals to keep costs as low as possible and having a portion of the money ahead of time will give me more freedom to shop earlier and more efficiently!  

We will still be offering a morning session and an evening session.  I just need to verify childcare help before I post the sign up as well.  That will be staying the same.  $5 per child for the 2 hour session.  

The only item you will need to bring is yourself and a snack to share if you would like to bring one along.  I will provide drinks as well as all of the supplies. ( If you are going to sign up for the Nail string art session, you might want to bring your own hammer!)

Depending on how quickly the classes fill, I may add a second session of a craft if it is a popular one! I am also planning some kid craft dates, a mother daughter craft session, and a drop in session as well!

I would LOVE to keep offering private sessions as well as well as Birthday parities.  I am also open to opening my crafting area up for scrapbooking days or other crafty kind of things!  Please email me at if you would like to get more info on that.  I am booking sessions in January and February already so let's get you on the calendar!  

Stay tuned as I am having Nellie help me iron out a few other things!  What do you guys think?!?!  I will keep you posted on when the sign up will be!  

Click HERE to download and preview a PDF version of our Class Flyer!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pom Pom and Paper Bow Session!

This past Friday at the Farm we made pom pom garland and paper bow garland.  This wasn't as popular as some of the other sessions, but I think those of you that came were pleasantly surprised at just how cute both garlands were!  Both crafts were rather easy as well, however, they were also very time consuming.  I think maybe 5 ladies were able to finish both sets of garlands.  I am really hoping you guys were able to finish your other set of garland at home this past weekend!

We started off with a bit of instruction.  We used clover pom pom makers to create our pom pom garland.  Once you get the hang of it, they are rather easy to make.  My kids love making these as well.  They come in all different sized from super tiny to a jumbo size.  We have pom poms coming out the whazoo here at the farm!
 You can use any type of yarn to make your pom pom garland.  Some brought sparkly yarn, some baby yarn, and some brought colorful yarn.  Each set was so different and SO happy.  Pom Poms make me happy!

I wanted to keep everyone rather close for this class so people could chat and create together.  Since it required mindless winding of yarn there was lots of talk and fellowship which also makes me happy!  

 I didn't take many pictures of final products.  I don't know why I didn't because this was one of my favorite sessions...but I didn't.  I wish I would have so you can see just how cute these both are!  I used the pom pom maker to make a huge pom pom for a gift we wrapped a couple of weeks ago....I told you the possibilities were endless!  The paper bow garland is just made with scrapbook paper.  Use used Christmas paper, but you can use any kind.  Wouldn't they look so cute hung over a baby crib?  Or hung from your windows?  Ahhh!   I need to go make some for myself!

 Nellie was Oh so kind, again, to create a free downloadable printable for you so you can make your own paper bows at home.  This is what you do:
#1 Gather materials:  Glue, paper clips, scissors, pencil, bakers twine and paper of your choice
#2 Print out your Template
#3 Cut out your template
#4 Trace your cut out template for the bow garland on the BACK of your scrapbook paper
#5 Cut out your bows
#6 Assemble.  Start by folding over the large bow pieced to the middle.  Wrap around the small middle piece and attach the 2 "legs" on the back.  Secure each section with a dab of glue.  We used school glue so they would lay nice and flat.  If you don't hold the bow together in the middle it will just pop open until the glue dries.  We used a paper clip to secure the bow together until the glue dried.  Pull the paper clips off when everything is dry and attach bows to a piece of bakers twine or yard with hot glue.  Boom.   Paper bow garland complete!  You can make these as long or as short as you would like.  You could even make one and use it on your Christmas gifts this year.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cow party...Finally!

Griffin was in love with cows last summer.  I am talking not this past summer but the summer before.  So like any good mom I decided to have a cow party for him last year.  We talked about that cow party SO much.  "You are gonna have a cow party, Griffin."  And....

It never happened. We didn't make it a priority.  We got busy.  

We have been hyping up this cow party for a few months again.  We had all the stuff for the party.  It was just sitting in a tub staring at me every time I went into my craft closet.  It was begging to be used.  Then last Sunday I realized that Griffin's birthday was in a week.  One week.  There was No way I was going to be able to pull off a cow party in a week.  Impossible.  So I kinda settled that the party wasn't gonna happen.  I was holding special craft sessions and doing a lot to get ready for Christmas at work that I let the cow party go.  Then on Thursday I snapped back into reality.  

Griffin was turing 3.  He deserved the cow party we had been promising for 2 years.  He's our baby.  Our baby was turning 3.  I got my priorities in order and worked my buns off to have the best cow party possible that we could throw together in 3 days.  It was too late in the game to pull Nellie out of my back pocket for invitations or printables....apparently she has a life other than designing things for me.  I am almost embarrassed to tell you what I did for invitations.  Mainly because it may have just involved a text message!  And I didn't even include everyone in the text message so I had to make phone calls!  I am sure the invitations would have been adorable, but we made it without them.

So ladies and is our cow party that we started planning for on Thursday.  We decorated the dining room with wrapping paper for the tablecloths and added scrap book 12x12 sheets for the placemats.  (this was all purchased at Hobby Lobby last year but I know they still have all of it cause I looked a few weeks ago!)  The cow plates were also from HL.  
 I use these little glass jars for my Fridays at the Farm.  I had 10 extra glasses and I borrowed 10 from Brie.  Lynn helped me create these milk jars by dipping the rim in melted white chocolate and then dipping them again in black jimmies.  (I always melt my melting chocolate in my tiny crockpot thing I have.  As long as you keep stirring that chocolate melts to the perfect consistency!)  We put a black and white straw in the jar and boom.....milk jars done.  They were filled with lots of chocolate milk today!
 I knew last year I wanted to make cow ears for all of the kids to wear.  Nellie helped me cut the felt out on Friday morning during our craft session and then with a little guidance and help from me, Molly and Sadie finished them.  I found the template HERE  So easy.  Just cut, trace, cut and hot glue on headbands.  I bought the headbands last year at the dollar store.  3 for $1.
 The party table was a bit of a jumbled mess.  Christmas decorations are up and fire burning wood and paper are all in the area of the table...but we made it work.  I reused some of the supplies from Lanie's Lady bug party so that was helpful and convenient!
 We had a good number of people coming so we tried to make plenty of seating room as possible.  Even the play area was used.

 I am SO glad we made the cow headbands!  The kids looked adorable wearing them.

 There is a local store that makes jumbo cow cookies.  I also picked up a few pig cookies for my pig loving kids!
 I tried to keep the food theme black and white.  Donuts in a jumbo vase?  Yes, please!  I think the donuts were a hit for sure.
 Griffin LOVES chocolate milk.  On a rare occasion I will buy it.  Actually, I have learned to never buy it, but Dan will pick him up a gallon once in a while.  If he knows we have it then that is all he wants to drink.  I am not sure how many milk jugs of chocolate milk he had.  It's hard to say no to the birthday boy!
 I loved that the "big" kids wore the cow ears as well!  Even Pastors wear cow ears!  :)

 Cow parties bring out the happiness in everyone!  This time around we celebrated Griffin's birthday with friends.  God has placed so many great and wonderful people in our lives who have surrounded us and supported us.  We have felt so incredibly loved by them and wanted to thank them for playing such an important roll in our lives.  We truly love all of you and are so thankful for you!

Could Nellie and her hubby be any cuter?  Look at the matching attire and their sweet baby girl, Ms. Navy.  Seriously you guys.  Come on now!
 Like I said, chocolate milk filled those milk jugs all afternoon long!
 And the kids were SO happy about it!
 We had planned for all the kids to celebrate in the dining room together and they did!  Wow!  I know 7 of them are mine, but look at all of those sweet children.  How did we get to be so lucky to be so blessed?
 And then Griffin started to break down.  All the pictures and the fact that we weren't letting him open up all the gifts was a bit too much for our 3 year old to handle.  Once we started on the presents he perked right back up!
 The cake came from DQ.  Of course you have to have an ice cream cake at a cow party!  Someone suggested it to me on Friday during our craft session when I was complaining explaining that I was so far behind that I didn't even have a cake planned.  Griffin loved the cake.  He kept asking to open the freezer to look at it.
 I didn't get a good picture of the cow area all together.  The lighting was horrible and frankly there was stuff everywhere.  That is ok, though.  Look at those "MOO" letters.  Dan made those late last night as we  I was in full panic mode.  He sat and traced the scrapbook paper and then taped them down for me on the cardboard letters.  ( I know....I know....he is a keeper!)
We didn't get a picture of all the food either!  Ahhhhh!   I should just wear the camera around my neck.  Anyways, we had hot ham and rolls and lots of salads that our friends brought.  Store bought brownies may have been included on the menu as well.

Overall I am super happy with what we could pull together in 3 days.  I was bummed I didn't have time to make a cricut banner for him, but maybe I can work on one and have it ready for next year!

Please don't for a moment think that I can pull this off by myself...cause I can't.  Between Fridays at the Farm and juggling 7 kids and a part time job I have learned to ask for help AND to be okay with accepting help.  I am always amazed by how we get done all that we get done.  Thank you to each of you that help us get our "things" done!

Nellie and I have committed to get you guys the class schedule for next semester this week.  And. We. WILL!  Stay tuned for an update on that.

I am off the crash on the couch.  I haven't  been this exhausted in a long time.

Happy Birthday to my sweet, non picture loving, crazy haired, wild, silly, ninja turtle loving, diaper wearing, potty chair hater, baby boy.  I love that God said we weren't done at 6 and blessed us with you.  You rock my world Gibby Cakes!