Decorating your tree? There’s an app for that!

Super excited today to have another post by Heather Bourne. We were discussing tree decorating and she told me about a great app she uses and I said “You have to blog about that!”.  Enjoy – Jen


Step by Step Tree Decorating Tutorial

Everyone who knows me knows that I love the holidays. I like decorating and enjoy walking in and out of my home each day with holiday decorations all around.

The center of holiday decorations for many people is their Christmas tree and I want to show you a really great tool for putting a tree together this year that you will really love. For all my “OCD” friends out there that are looking to create that perfect tree…..look no further…..I have an app for you. You can visit Show Me Decorating online or download it in the iPhone App Store on your phone.

You get a menu that allows you to choose your theme, tree and various decorations.

The app allows you to pick your theme and then provides great suggestions based on what you choose. It also provides extremely helpful information, based on your size of tree, on how many bows and yards of ribbon you will need.

You choose your tree height and width (at the bottom).

You then move on to adding bows (if you are using bows in your decor) in which is shows you the placement along with a short video.

Then next is ball placement with great suggestions for using different sizes of balls and how to place branches to create size and depth.

Last you add florals and ornaments with details on grouping, colors stories and themes.

I have used Show Me Decorating to put together my tree and after a few finishing touches I can’t wait to share it on my Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Have you put up your tree yet? What colors or theme are you going to use?



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November 2, 2006

November 2, 2006

November 2, 2006 will be a day I will never, ever forget. I can still remember exactly where I was at, driving around a big curve, in Dallas, Texas on my way to work after dropping off Bub at school when my mom called. I still feel sick to my stomach when I recall answering and hearing her sobbing and then my sister screaming uncontrollably in the background. I cannot remember the exact words she said through her tears and sobbing, but when she was able to get out his name…..I knew. I hoped for a second it was an injury, something to hang on to, but it wasn’t. It was something much more final – death.

My last photo with Luke before he left for Iraq.

When you love someone who is in the military and stationed in a war zone there is a feeling you never quite forget. The nagging, uncomfortable feeling you learn to live with every day until that person comes home, or doesn’t. I remember going to Washington, D.C. with a large group of Blue and Gold Star families during the fall of 2007. I told my dad that on one hand a felt a little jealous of the Blue Star families because their loved ones still had a chance of making it home, but that was overshadowed by my feelings of sadness for them because I knew they were still living with that nagging, uncomfortable feeling everyday. When your service member doesn’t come home you are left with a hole, a big, gaping, freaking hole that never goes away.

My favorite photo of Luke & Bub.

I avoided the news after he first left, even more than before I couldn’t bear to hear the news of another life being lost and the reality of war, it hit just too close to home. It was not that I was against what he was doing – Luke understood what he was taking on when he signed up for the Marines, it was something he had wanted to do his entire life and he was great at it. He excelled even more than we knew. You see Luke was a humble guy and until his funeral there were things we had no idea about, such as the fact that he passed every Recon training on his first try which is rare.

My beautiful sister Jes & her Lukey poo.

After all the initial shock wears down, funeral plans are made and carried out, flowers wither and the headstone is placed, a family is left with a hole. You keep moving forward  and you continue to live life, but the fact is that life is never the same and you never, ever forget. No matter how you look on the outside, your insides are changed. Each of my family members remember and embrace Luke’s life and memory in a different way and I love that. There are so many pieces of him that are so ingrained in the fabric of our family I never worry his influence will leave us.

Our last dressed up family photo before Luke deployed.

Today is a day I will never forget because of a man I had the privilege of knowing over half my life, one who I was able to call my friend and “almost brother-in-law”. He loved and respected my sister, was an honorable bonus son to my parents, a big brother to my brothers and an uncle to my son. He connected us to the Holler family and no matter what that bond will never be broken, they raised an absolutely amazing son and I know they are so very proud of the life he lived. Through him we have met some precious Marines and Navy Corpsmen who worked and fought alongside Luke and I am so thankful for them.

The Coker Holler clan.

I choose to use this day for the rest of my time here on earth, to help people see beyond a solemn photo of a handsome, blond haired, blue-eyed Recon Marine to know what a smart, funny, amazing person that he was. He was down to earth, loved God, had strong character and treated people with kindness. I want to continue to share stories about him so that his memory will live on. Remind me to tell you about the time Luke and Jes drove Bub and I back home from Dallas and the turkey froze Bub’s tarantula (Spidey II is still alive and well), and about the time Luke grabbed a guitar and made up a breakup song on the spot to convince me my boyfriend at the time was no good for me and that I deserved better (someone who loved me as much as he loved Jes is what he told me) and the time Bub cut his own bangs requiring me to shave his head and Luke told him carrots would make his hair grow, so Bub ate carrots for a week straight while wearing a hat.

Summer of 2006 when Luke taught Bub to swim – Amphibious Recon guys are the best swim instructors!

I so look forward to seeing him again one day. What an amazing family reunion that will be. Semper Fi!

Here is a video full of photos showing Luke’s personality and many of the people he loved. Enjoy!


In memory of Lcpl. Luke B. Holler, KIA 2 Nov 2006, Iraq

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The “Glamorous Life” of a mommy blogger…..

Keeping up a personal blog has been on my “To Do” list for a while. I wanted to write witty stories about life, document cool craft projects and write succinct posts on non-profits and how they can utilize social media.

The blogging project came with its own “To Do” list I have been recently trying to tackle.

Mommy Blogger To Do List:

1. Take pretty photo for “About Me” page.

2. Come up with something amazing, funny and all around awesome for the “About Me” page.

3. Go to cool events.

4. Take professional photog quality photos.

5. Run really neat giveaways.

So I started working down the list. I found a good enough photo, typed up a few about me items, gone to 3 pretty cool events, taken a couple of cute photos and this week even a really neat giveaway (my 1st!).

What I did find is the life of a mom blogger (no matter what topic you blog about) is not quite as seamless as you would think. I am now finding out how a post really gets put together.

Find out about really cool event from amazing blogger friends.

RSVP to really cool event.

Get Handsome Hubby to go with you to help wrangle kids.

Arrive at event where Handsome Hubby realizes no other “guys” are there and gets his friend to pick him up for a “meeting”.

While watching cool event demo the baby tries to pull your top down to get to boobies.

Snap tons of cute photos of baby….I mean focus on the cool demo darn it.

Come home from cool event – rest and recover.

Later in the evening attempt to download massive number of photos on to the iPad while fighting over the iPad with the baby and a teen who wants to watch videos on Minecraft.

Wake up early the next day while baby is sleeping so you can hurry and put post together and you type like a maniac…


Baby “magically” wakes up so you give baby to teen (yeah for last days of summer) and type like a maniac…..


Teen brings up baby with a poop explosion diaper, baby then sticks his hand in diaper and so once you clean it up you have to clip his fingernails and disinfect his hands.

and then…..

Baby starts grunting and head butting your boobs signaling he wants to eat (obviously the baby sign language you are working so hard on is not taking).

When you finally. send. him. off. with the teen again and remember to get back to finishing your “blog”…

you realize “oh yeah” it is now time to make lunch.


So I want to know – how do YOU put blog posts together?

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South Texas Heritage Museum + Free tickets!

South Texas Heritage Museum + Free tickets!

This post has been in my drafts for a while – this blog entry is on my first visit to the Witte Museum’s South Texas Heritage Center. Since that time I was invited back for a Mommy & Me blogging tour this past Friday and I will share that visit later in the week.

I received a media sneak peak invite from Fran Stephenson to tour the new South Texas Heritage Center and I was so excited! I dropped off the boys with my mom and headed down to Broadway.

I showed up at the Witte in the middle of a San Antonio downpour and was greeted by friendly staff at the door. They led us out a side door of the Witte and down a path to the new center. The building was gorgeous. I snapped a photo real quick as I tried to avoid the puddles and not smack anyone with my umbrella.

Once inside we were given an introduction and began a tour of the 1st floor which includes the Russel Hill Rogers Texas Art Gallery, George West Trail Drivers Gallery & the Will Rogers Classroom.

I really enjoyed the Trail Drivers photos and cowboy gear on display being a horseback rider myself. The display in the photo above allows you to scroll through the trail drivers photos and learn more about them.

We then explored upstairs area A Wild and Vivid Land: Stories of South Texas. I cannot begin to describe everything that is included up here. What stuck me the most was what a fabulous job they have done making something for everyone. Adults, teens and kids can all find something to do and learn. They have such a neat variety of displays and integration of technology. Here are a few of my favorite things.

This Indian head piece was so detailed and beautiful. They definitely took time and pride in these pieces of art.

They have an old Menger Hotel Registry and the display highlights some of the signatures with details about the famous cowboys who were guests.

This display is part of the oil and gas section and is a good example of cool technology that is sprinkled throughout the displays.

The wall mural is something to see – well really the whole place is! If you love cowboys, vaqueros, indians, horses, guns, swords, art or history you will LOVE the new South Texas Heritage Center.

I can’t wait to show you the visit from last week with the boys! If you would like to visit the Witte and share this fun experience with your family then enter below. Some of my fellow mommy bloggers and I are doing a group giveaway. Enter the Rafflecopter entry below and follow my friends for more entry chances.

We are giving away lots of 4 packs of tickets – make sure you use them up by September 3rd before they expire.

To enter the giveaway for a family 4 pack of tickets click the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry quick the giveaway ends tonight at midnight and the tickets are good through September 3, 2012.


Disclosure: I was invited to the Witte as part of a media sneak peek and given free admission before it opened. In addition, my boys and I were invited to the Witte for the Mommy & Me event last Friday. We were given free admission and tickets to use for this giveaway. All that was asked of us was to share our experience with our friends.

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My husband encouraged me to start a blog and a personal Twitter account over 2 years ago. I did not do it because I felt the accounts I was handling for work were as much as I could handle – frankly more at times – and thought the time for me would come later.

I understand the immense value of a personal brand and it has been on my “to do” list. There were many things that would come up that I wanted to comment on (let’s be real, there were contests I wanted to enter too!) and I would think “I need to get on that” but haven’t. I wanted to join the Sea World “Wild Side” moms and be a “mommy blogger”, write about my journey toward de-cluttering and my travel adventures with my boys, but I kept letting myself get in the way.

A few weeks ago I took the DISC assessment and my result was “Perfectionist”. I realized that while perfectionism has many positives it has negatives as well, one of which for me is not blogging. Reasons to not blog included: my focus is too wide, not sure what post to start with, what if I am a crappy writer, what if no one reads it, tough job transition, newish baby, lack of creativity, etc. all preventing me from doing what I ultimately want to do – write a darn blog and get my thoughts out!

So here is to no more excuses, putting myself out there, being vulnerable, taking chances and for those of you who follow Seth Godin – SHIP. I can’t improve on something that hasn’t been started so here it goes!

First post done.

Jen – 1

Bad side of perfectionism – 0

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