Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Blog Button!

If you're reading this post and you shift your eyes to the will see my new blog button.  After noticing numerous buttons on other blogs, I thought I could make one for my blog, proudly advertising my denomination.  It was a piece.of.cake to create too.  Here's what I did:

1)  Go to
2)  Click on 'upload a photo'
3)  Use an existing photo, or surf the web for a background (like my snowflakes) you like and save it to your computer.
4)  Follow picnik's instructions to create your picture (button).  Start by re-sizing the photo (picnik automatically sizes one of the sides, so if you pick '250' as your height, it will automatically adjust the width to be proportionate).  250 or roughly there is a good button size.
5)  Add your text in the box on the top left of picnik.  On the top right, you can change the font, and size and direction of your wording by playing around with it - it's all right there on the screen for you.
6)  Click on 'save photo' and save your picture to your computer.
7)  Open your blog and add a gadget (choose 'add photo' as your gadget).
8)  Click on 'image' and select the photo you just created in picnik.

There you go!  It's a lot simpler than my instructions make it seem!  You now have a button!  What a great way to advertise something about yourself, something you love, or an Etsy shop (if you have one :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bows and Bands and Bags oh my!

After searching high and low for perfect inexpensive, yet cute, headbands to coordinate with the girls' Christmas outfits, I finally gave up and decided to make my own.
I did purchase the basic headband.  In fact, it came in a pack of 6 with only 1 white one in the pack, so I had to purchase TWO packs.  But I only paid $5.00 for all twelve bands.  One store wanted to charge me $9 for a so-so headband that was a bit shopworn.  Pfffft!

I followed the tutorial shown here and it was pretty easy.  In fact, making the bow was the simple part.  Attaching it to the headband?  Not so much.  I pondered a variety of ideas, such as velcro, but none of them seemed to be exactly what I wanted.  I even considered hot gluing the bow to the band, but I'm cheap frugal and I thought I might want to use the headbands again.  So after much thought, I wound some embroidery floss through the bow and simply tied it to the headband.  Since the bow itself is all stitched together, I can just snip through the embroidery floss to remove the bow, thereby preserving both the bow and the headband.  Genius!

After this I think I'll invest in some clips that I can permanently attach the bows to, and then I can trade them out to match various outfits.  Oh who am I kidding?  My kids hate hair accessories.  In fact, I'm not even sure how I talked them into wearing them on Christmas.  But I did.  And that's the point!
Finally, I made the girls matching tote bags to carry on Sunday.  I plan to pack them with  fun, girlie things like lip gloss, tissues, notepads, knick knacks and of course money, because what fun is a bag without money?!   So now, their outfits are complete and matching from head to toe.

Merry 'Matching' Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Clothes!

This afternoon I made the girls Christmas outfits.  After buying matching red tops, they each picked out the fabric for the skirt, and the Christmas tree applique on the shirt.  These were SO easy to make.  It took me about 3 hours from start to finish.  They can't wait to wear them to their grandparents on Friday night, then again to church on Christmas morning.

Each tree is the same, and contains fabric from Autumn's skirt, but I needed all the fabric to make Cayla's skirt, so her skirt fabric didn't make it onto the tree :(  I thought they coordinated really well though.
Here's a close-up of the tree.  Using the various fabrics, I applied Heat 'n Bond before cutting out the tree pattern.  Once cut, I ironed it on and top-stitched around the edges.  I finished it with a white bow tree-topper.  Sweet and simple.....just the way we like it!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting Organized!

 Last fall my father in law offered me a large sized shutter after I expressed interest in one for a project.  I knew I wanted to paint it and use it to hold Christmas cards.  Behold:

I began by painting it red, but the red spray paint I bought was cheap.  It's worth the extra couple of dollars to buy Krylon or Rustoleum.  And while I definitely didn't set out to paint it gold, I happened to have some Krylon metallic gold on hand because I used it to paint the crowns for the Wise men to wear during the children's music at church :)  One quick, coat and my card holder was reborn.

I'm honestly thinking of painting the backside Krylon red and using it during the year as decor in my living room, then flipping it to the gold side during the holidays.  Can't lose :)

I almost put a solid piece of wood behind the slats so the cards don't fall through, but OBVIOUSLY that won't work if I plan to use both sides alternately during the year.  I grabbed a couple of decorated clothespins to hold up Christmas card photos, and just slipped standard cards onto the slats.  Voila!  Organized and attractive (at least I think so).
My next organizing project was this purse organizer that I've been thinking about for some time now.  I have a darling Vera Bradley make up bag that I keep in my purse to hold various objects.  But they always manage to turn over, slip to the bottom and get lost in the great abyss.

Ta da!!!  I made pockets for each item, slipped the belongings in, rolled it up and tucked it into my make up bag.  It's SO nice.  Now when I reach for my nail file, it's up right, where I can find it, not laying down at the bottom, stabbing me as I try to grab it.  I love little things that bring me incredible joy :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Christmas Story!

I read it every year, usually several times.  It's beautiful, and I never tire of it.  Here it is for you to enjoy as well:

1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,who was with child.

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 

14 “ Glory to God in the highest, 
      And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Luke 2:1-20 NKJV

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Last week I stitched up a couple of these little gems: Homemade Heating Pads.  Microwave for up to 2 minutes to soothe away aches and pains, and keep toes toasty.  Or, throw them in the freezer and you have an instant cold compress for bumps and bruises.  Each flannel bag contains extra clean deer corn combined with cinnamon to make them smell wonderful.  The bags are then slipped into a matching 'pillow case' to keep them clean.  Oils from the skin and less than meticulous microwaves can get the bags really dingy, and since they can't be washed, the pillow case makes a great barrier, which can be machine washed and dried prior to the next use.

My girls love them, and Autumn uses hers nearly every night.  I love to put mine under my feet while I watch TV!  Unlike rice, corn heats more evenly and retains heat longer.  At least, in my opinion it does :)

A couple of tips if you make one of your own; 1) Use extra-clean deer corn, which can be purchased at Wal-Mart of all places.  Anything less will be really dusty and dirty to work with.  2) I like the scent of cinnamon, but any essential oil can be added to make the bags smell terrific.  3)  Do not heat for more than 2 minutes at a time.  Longer heating times can result in burns to the skin, and scorching of the corn inside.  Then it won't matter what you've scented it with, it will smell burnt.  4)  Use 100% cotton fabric.  Polyester blends can catch fire.  Obviously I don't need to elaborate on this tip :)

This one is mine.  It's made from ultra soft flannel and it's wonderful on those nights where the mercury drops to arctic temperatures :)

This one was intended for Cayla, but Autumn saw it and, well, the rest is history.  Cayla didn't stand a chance :)

I joined the link party at:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Glittered Christmas Lights!

Once again, Pinterest strikes.  This time with inspiration for Christmas.

Old style Christmas lights.......purchased at a church Christmas bazaar for $.50.
I have to confess....I hate glitter.  Well, I hate working with glitter, and I really hate when my kids want to use glitter.  But I love the results, so I stifled my glitter hatred and proceeded.  I wanted white or silver, super fine glitter, but I was too cheap to pay for it, so I kept searching.  I  found this 5-pack of colors on sale for $2.50 at a Craft Warehouse where my parents live.
Using a plastic cutting board as a work station, I covered the lights with Mod Podge and poured my glitter into a pinch pot so I could easily sprinkle it onto my lights.  Each light took about 30 seconds to create and I clipped them between clothes pins so they could dry.
I selected the most Christmassy (Yes it's a word.  It means anything pertaining to Christmas) looking colors to work with, but I think the blue is my favorite.  I know, I was surprised too because usually I gravitate towards all things pink!
Using some acrylic clear coat I sprayed the lights so the glitter wouldn't flake off and get on everything.  I think they turned out cute, and super festive.

So, what are you waiting for?  Go make some glitter lights!

I'm linked up:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Truffles Revisited!

Remember this?
Last Christmas, you may remember I made the most wonderful Oreo truffles (if I do say so myself).  My kids loved them and it was so simple I figured it was time to revisit the recipe and make them for one of our kid-friendly Thanksgiving desserts.  You can find the original post here and I've included the recipe below if you want to try them.  One more thing, the recipe calls for almond bark to dip the truffles in and I opted once again, to use CandiQuik.  As I said originally, it's more expensive but it's SO worth the price.  CandiQuik heats nice and evenly and can be reheated over and over, whereas I've found almond bark is not that easy to work with.  Almond bark can only be heated once and after that it hardens while heating, and then scorches.  Just my opinion!

Oreo truffles, dipped in CandiQuik, with harvest sprinkles!

Oreo truffles, dipped in CandiQuik and drizzled in orange frosting with autumn nonpareils.   (I wasn't as fond of the orange frosted truffles, but Autumn loved them and since she helped me decorate, I let her go for it. )

Easy Oreo Truffles

1 - 16.6 oz. (standard size) package Oreos
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 - 16 oz. package CandiQuik vanilla (or chocolate if you prefer) coating
Nonpareils, icing, crushed Oreos or other 'toppings/decorations' of your choice

Directions:  Crush Oreos (I used my blender and it was awesome, but you can use whatever method suits you.  I hear a plastic bag with a rolling pin works.)
In mixing bowl, combine crushed Oreos with cream cheese.  Mix together thoroughly.  Shape into balls and place on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.  Put truffles into refrigerator (or freezer) to chill.  I left mine for over an hour.
In a separate bowl, heat half the blocks of CandiQuik (if you heat it all at once it will ALL get Oreo chunks in it and turn 'dirty'.) and, using a fork dip the truffles into the CandiQuik, coating thoroughly.  Set aside in mini cupcake liners or on wax paper.  Immediately sprinkle on nonpareils or other decorations and set aside to harden.

That's it!  Super easy, super fun, super quick and super delicious!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pinterest Accomplishment!

 This evening I finally made a couple of the items I had pinned on Pinterest.  The first one was a treat for Chuck.  These peanut butter dog bones were a snap to make.  I found a dog bone shaped cookie cutter at JoAnn Fabrics and knew I had to try making some treats.  They're made with human grade ingredients so I decided to taste one.  They're awful......because they have no sugar. Chuck however, LOVED them.  The recipe is below (with my notes in red) if you want to make some for your furry friend.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter (really? my dog thought the Great Value brand was just fine)
1 cup non-fat milk (I only had 2% and it was perfect - just ask Chuck)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Next, I made dinner for the family.  With human grade ingredients - just in case you were wondering :)  This baked spaghetti was E-A-S-Y and you know if I'm saying it's easy it really IS easy.  The family loved it and fortunately, I decided in advance not to use a 9x13 dish, but instead, to divide it between two 8x8 dishes. I put one of the dishes in the freezer and we'll save that one for another night.  Cook once, eat twice - YES! Bonus!!!

I've made baked spaghetti many times before and we always thought it was decent, but this recipe contains the magic ingredient.........cream cheese.  It really improved the flavor, making it creamier, and it helps the spaghetti to stick together so after it's baked it cuts apart in nice, tidy little squares.  You know I like tidy!!!  I used the following recipe - my revisions are in red :)  ENJOY!!!

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

Adapted from and

12 oz spaghetti (I used 16 oz.)
1 (28 ounce) jars prepared spaghetti sauce
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced (I left this out)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated (It was pre-grated, in the little green can :)

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

In a skillet, brown the ground beef until cooked through; drain fat and stir in spaghetti sauce.  Set aside.

Cook spaghetti according to directions on packet.  Drain and place cooked spaghetti in bowl.  Add cream cheese, Italian Seasoning and minced garlic.  Stir until cream cheese is melted and the spaghetti is thoroughly coated. 

Lightly grease a 9x13" pan.  Spread a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Put spaghetti on top of sauce and top with remaining meat sauce.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.
So that's it!  Dinner for us, treats for Chuck and the feeling of accomplishment for having actually used one of my Pinterest pins!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Be Thankful!

It's the season for giving thanks, and what better way than with a list.  Because you all know how much I LOVE a list?!  So, here are 10 things I'm thankful for.  They're a tad out of the norm, but I figured family and friends go without saying.......I hope you'll play along and add your list in the comments section......

1)  Pinterest - Pinterest is a list-lovers dream only better, because it's pictures.
2)  Sweet Potato Casserole - It's the only sweet potato dish I really like and it's my sister's recipe so you know it's incredible.  If you've ever had Thanksgiving with us, you've had it.  And if you didn't try it, you only cheated yourself because it's amazing!!!
3)  Spray Paint - I've gone a little crazy lately painting everything in sight, or planning to anyhow.  For just a few bucks, spray paint turns trash into treasure.  LOVE!
4)  Lists - Whether they're on my phone, my Mac, or just a slip of paper, I'd be a disorganized mess without my lists.  Lists are essential.  And obviously the people at 3M think so too.....have you checked the price of "Post-It's" lately?
5)  Mason Jars - They're not just for canning anymore Toto!  I store everything from spools of thread to decorated clothes pins in mine.
6)  Organization - Admittedly, I'm not always on top of it, but I'm still thankful for it.  When I see rooms, cabinets, items, stores, anything completely organized, it gives me this wonderful, warm feeling.
7)  Discounts - Because retail is sooooo overrated!
8)  Blizzards - No, not the kind that shuts down streets and knocks out power.  The ice cream kind.  And as a member of the Blizzard Fan Club, I get 6 "buy one get one" coupons a year.  It's a family fave :)
9)  Humor - I'm grateful to God for giving us a sense of humor.  Afterall, who doesn't love to laugh so hard they have tears in their eyes?!
10) Tooth brushes - Yep!  I said it.  I'm thankful for tooth brushes.  Admit it, you are too.  As a child, I loved getting a new one from the dentist, and today, as an obsessive teeth brusher, I still love cracking open the package on a colorful, perfect-bristled brush.

Just so you know, this isn't just some list I randomly threw together.  I genuinely, at one time or another, have pondered the things above and thought, "Man, I'm thankful for this."  And I've thought it more than once about Post-It notes :)

Happy Thanksgiving!  Be Thankful!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Sleepy Hollow Affair!

 On Friday, we celebrated our annual Halloween dinner with friends.  Our theme was Washington Irving's "Sleepy Hollow", which as you may remember from Literature class, is set in Colonial times, and is the story of the Headless Horseman, who traumatizes Ichabod Crane in a cemetery!
My in-laws asked if I wanted this scarecrow and I jumped at the chance.  I already had a plan for it........

This!!!  I wanted it for a sign-stand.  I stripped off the arms and hair and painted it white so I could use it year round for holiday signs and decoration.  This was appropriately placed on the back porch and pointed to the home made cemetery shown below!

This headstone was made of cardboard.  The epitaph was printed out and hand cut before being taped to the front.

This stone was the remains of a foam surf-board used a few years back for our Outrigger Island VBS.  Cayla insisted one of the stones read, "RIP".
The theme wouldn't be complete without paying tribute to Ichabod  Crane, the smarmy school master.

Toilet paper rolls, covered in scrapbook paper, decoupaged.....
....filled with chocolates.....

....and wrapped like large pieces of candy, made great party favors for the kids.

What a trooper.  Not only did he keep the bandana on, he willingly posed for the picture.
I love these blocks.  My in-laws gave them to the girls, but I think I've had more fun with them.

Candy and decorations.....

....More decor, plus cupcakes the girls decorated by themselves.

Pictures printed from the internet provided theme-appropriate decoration.

Love this photo of a church.  Choosing to print them in black and white made them more eerie.

Black and white cemetery photograph, greeted guests who entered through the side door.

Potion bottles purchased for $.49 each at a thrift store.  I found labels on the internet and printed them off.

Candelabra and pumpkin centerpiece.

A tree branch from our cherry blossom tree out back.  When Cory pruned this fall, he saved it for me.  We suspended it from the ceiling, over the table, wrapped it in lights and draped faux spider webs across it for a macabre effect.

Brighter photo of the branch.  The pictures don't do it justice; it was really pretty cool!

Window sill decorated to welcome back door guests.
Wilton bottle labels, purchased at JoAnn dressed up our Martinelli's and sparkling lemonade perfectly.
My guests brought the cutest hostess gifts.  They know me too well.  My love of candy corn......

.....and pumpkins.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Party Prep Work!

In preparation for my yearly Halloween party, I settled on a cute idea to dress up some candy that was a bit lackluster.  I also made some place cards for my guests.  Read on.....

Hershey's Kisses with meltaway centers are delicious.  They also come nicely wrapped in Halloween appropriate orange (with silver) foil.  (For some reason I can't find the kisses wrapped in solid orange and black foil.  Are they still making them?)  To dress them up I asked Autumn to put a Halloween sticker on the bottom of each one.  The stickers were $1 at the Target dollar spot and I bought them a while ago, unsure at the time what I would do with them.  Now I know :)

The green 'EEK' bowl is courtesy of my sister.  It was the perfect dish to hold all my decked out kisses.  So simple, yet really festive!
Next I made place cards for the guests (but only photographed two of them).  Using paint swatches from the paint counter, I cut the tops and bottoms with embellished scissors and wrote the name of each guest on the front.  Then, I punched out the perforated hole at the bottom and pushed a Hershey's Kiss through.  The kiss is just the right height to act as a stand and hold up the card.  I thought they were pretty cute.....until I saw the photo on my computer screen.  Ugh!  They were boring and needed something else.

Tada!!!!  The women's cards perked up with the addition of a black gross grain bow, and the men's cards received little designs using an orange, glitter glue pen.  Whew!  Two projects down......