Wednesday, December 31, 2008

things to be grateful for...

I was going to do a collage from the whole year, but moving back from today, I found enough just this past month to make be smile and remember how blessed I am. Good friends. Good times. Good food. Good family. A Good life. I hope 2009 proves to be as wonderful.

Happy New Year.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

office hutch goodness

Remember this $6 thrifting find??

So it has spent about 6 weeks in my garage until Sunday I decided 42 degrees was a good time to break out the spray paint.
Two cans later, some sanding and a coat of polyurethane and it looks like this. I am so proud of myself. I am good at ideas, not so good at the follow through typically.
And then yesterday, I got all kinds of impatient and carried it by myself up the stairs and into my office. It is not light. In fact, I had to call Olivia to help push from behind on the stairs and she ran screaming that I was going to squash her when it slid down a bit. Fortunately, her friend was here playing, and she helped me. Yikes!
I am really loving it and all the possibilities. I already have several more items in place, and switched things around to better suit my storage and crafting needs. Which these days are leaning more heavily toward sewing than anything else. Go figure. I also plan to take down the white shelf above it, spray that matching green and also spray all the lids on the baby food jars. Yea, that was the original idea 4 or so years ago...

I am making what I have work and that is satisfying.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

2009 calendar


On December 21 or 22, I decided I really needed to give Tyler a handmade gift too but I did not think he needed a desk calendar like my other family members--he does work, but not at a desk. So I was aiming for something simpler for his room but that would also showcase a different photo each month (and something I could kick out quickly!). Here is my solution! I used the free calendar set from here. I designed the cover myself and then the most fun thing of all--decoupaging the binder clip to use as a stand. It worked out so perfectly. My friend Kim gave me this idea, she used them to hold gift cards, another totally fun idea. I got this jumbo sized one from her but I picked up an assortment at the dollar store too. The cover might look a little wonky b/c I printed it at home thinking I would not get my prints from Walmart in time, but they came through. I knew it was temporary so I used my photo paper from Dollar Tree, only b/c I have about 3 packages of the stuff. My printer does not like it AT ALL so I can only use it up for nonsense type things. Not everything that costs a $1 can always be a deal, right?!

I liked this calendar so well, I think I will print one out for my husband's office.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

just how Christmas should be--

Smiles on kids' faces because they are receving gifts they love. And family. LOVE this picture of my Mom and my girls. L.O.V.E.

We had a very Merry Wii, I mean a very Merry one, um a Merry Christmas! Our family got the Wii from my parents, the Wii Fit from my in laws and lots of games and stuff to go along with it. Darn if that is not plain ol' fun. Shelby also got a new DS and Cooking Mama which is my favorite. Really, the first game I have taken to at all on that thing. I am not such a good gamer. I feel a change in the air though.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

making magnets

Yesterday, when the girls came in to interrupt me for the umpteenth millionth time, I decided to let them craft something up with me. These are just the little pebbles you put in the bottom of vases. I got them at the Dollar Store in two sizes. It was a deal too b/c I saw the same thing elsewhere for $5, that is why it is so important to know the inventory at Dollar Tree like I do. Anyway, Olivia was not pleased with just adhering scrapbook paper to hers, so she made little creatures from her thumbprints, inkpads and a marker. Clever. Shelby did some like that too but she liked my original idea as well. Did you know if you are a 7 year old girl, you like very little of what your mom says? Make that almost none. Since a few people on our list will be receiving these in the next few days, I won't show the finished product quite yet but it was fun, quick and easy. Oh, we just used Mod Podge to adhere the paper. And I had self stick strips of magnet.

I am still feeling rushed and not quite done which is not the usual for me. I still need a last trip to the Mall tonight. It is December 23 for those of you not right in front of a calendar. In my book, this is just plain wrong and unacceptable. I want to be at home, warm and toasty not searching for a parking spot and standing in line. Bah Humbug. I am wondering if my last few giftees would mind these magnets instead of what I am going out in search of...
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

classroom project: snowman pavers

A lot of my time the past two weeks was spent organizing Olivia's school party. I saw this idea originally online but then Family Fun showed by far, the cutest version ever. And so, the room moms from all of the second grade classes, teamed up to make this happen. Cute but HEAVY!!
If you will notice, my daughter is also sporting pierced ears?! Her father took her on Thursday night so it was not a total shock to me. However, her 4 year old sister also has her ears pierced. Now that one took me by surprise! So far, they are doing well and taking care of them.
We also incorporated a service project into the classroom party and the kids brought in donations for the Hope Lodge in Cincinnati. It is alot like the Ronald McDonald House concept but serves adults who are receiving cancer care in Cincinnati, but live far away. Yesterday, I dropped of an entire van load of goods to them. Although I have shopping left to do, and nearly all my wrapping, food to buy and prepare for Wednesday and Thursday--this was worth the time spent. Not only is it just a wonderful service, but the grounds and facility are beautiful, spectacular really.
4 days to go!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

soup's on!

Last year I totally got into making homemade soups and I am back at it again! Right now, this is on the stovetop:

Chicken Minestrone with Pesto from Woman's Day (and I borrowed the picture from there too). I decided to make it on the stovetop because 1) I am afraid of chicken thighs and 2) I was too afraid to put raw meat in the crockpot. Unfounded fears probably, but just two I live with! Anyway, I browned ground chicken in a skillet instead and then added all the ingredients as called for. I cannot wait to try it topped off with pesto, b/c I LOVE pesto. I already sampled a bit, and the flavor is wonderful.

ETA: The pesto makes such a huge wonderful difference. Make sure you add that to each bowl. Also, this makes a ton, I have 6 big servings to freeze. I share these with my dad, I am my parent's own version of Dream Dinners. Kinda. At least they say that jokingly. Ha!

Earlier I made a fudgelike candy from a recipe my neighbor shared. I had it at her house last week and it was divine. I will try to find the recipe online and share b/c it was so simple: chocolate candy bark coating, sweetened condensed milk, pecans and vanilla.

Once Olivia got home, she and I whipped up Rocky Road fudge which is absolutely to die for.

Rocky Road Fudge (Good Housekeeping, 2006)

1 pkg. (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1 pkg. (10.5 ounces) mini marshmallows

Grease 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan; line with plastic wrap. In 4 quart saucepan, combine chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter and margarine. Cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes or just until ingredients are melted, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir marshmallows into fudge mixture. Pour into lined pan; spread evenly. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate fudge until firm, at least 3 hours.
Invert fudge onto cutting board; remove plastic wrap. Turn fudge top side up. Cut fudge into 36 pieces. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

The guys at my husband's work particularly like this one.

And yesterday while reading blogs, I ran across this madness: Peppermint Bark like William Sonoma. So I bought all those ingredients too!

And this news will probably surprise no one but today while trying to hoist my jeans over my gut, one of the belt loops literally ripped off. It seems my waistline doesn't agree with all this cooking and eating as much as my tastebuds do. I have decided to just live it up until January 1, and then I will address the gut.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

handmade christmas gifts

So finally, something to hang on my Ikea tree. Handmade ornaments! I have just been freestylin' some simple shapes from felted wool. The red is from a woman's wool thrifted blazer, and the beige was a man's sweater. Most of this ribbon was the $1 spot stuff from Target. I am having a blast making them, and do so when I should really be doing other things. like housework. Oh well.

Inside the envelope is a do-it-yourself stationary set. I gave these to Shelby's teachers today and they went wild over the idea. I printed out address labels and notecards for each of them but also included a CD with the PDF files for them to make their own in the future. I attached the explanation on the sticker, and then more detailed instructions on the letter inside. I also included the instructions on the CD as another PDF file. I took lots of inspiration from here. I have used digtal scrapbook supplies that I have either downloaded for free or purchased. These are all for personal use, so I am just giving them as gifts. I am going to kick out a few more of these tonight. And I also have a more specialized one planned for my nephew who lives in NC--a pen pal kit.
Once again, these pictures were taken in the dark of night, making a flash necessary. Please forgive me.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Cookie Day

It is an annual affair for my family. The big kids still come which is a tribute to my mom, my sister and I come b/c we fear my mom's wrath if we do not (just kidding! we love it too) and my little kids dig it of course b/c they get to eat junk, make messes, and be spoiled by Aunt Kelly, Tyler, Kacie, Mama and Papa.
So, on top we have two very serious chocolate artists making lollipops. Next, most of the gang in the overflowing kitchen. Kacie made Baklava from scratch this year and I will admit, I was thinking this is CRAZY! It takes too much time and is really involved but she stuck it out and it turned out beautifully. I am so sorry I did not get a picture of the pan b/c it looked like it came from a bakery, and tasted even better. Perfection. I will share the recipe just as soon as my Mom can unstick the pages and send it over to me! Last, is my sister decorating snowman cookies. She loves snowmen, collects them. Aren't they cute?!
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

tag tree

Excuse the pics. I had to take them the same night I gave the gift and it was already pitch dark at 6pm. I am always inspired by the simple, striking tags on Nora Griffin's blog so some of these ideas are direct knock offs of hers. I also recently got a little package of tag bits and pieces from Nora in the mail--thanks Nora!
Anyway, I got this tree for under $10 at Kohls, added all the little tags and the top red, bird holder has a Starbucks card inside. LOVE that free packaging from Starbucks. Since making this, I have ordered two more trees from Kohls and I hope to use one for the teacher gift I am assembling for Olivia's teacher. I will have gift cards to fill it, and maybe a few tags will still be necessary.
I am working on quite a few homemade gifts that I really like and it is also OK if I am saving a few beans in the process, right? We are being faced with some more job insecurity so every bit helps, huh? If you can cross your fingers on my behalf, that would be good too.
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Sunday, December 7, 2008

and the winner is...

Melissa! Sorry for the one day delay but commenter #8 was picked in a very non-scientific way, out of a bowl with the numbers 1-8 written on paper. I sent you an email, please reply with your address and I will send it out.

If I get time later, I will upload a picture of my gift from exchange last night. Pretty sure it is going to be the basis for the class gift for Olivia's teacher too.

Once again our girls only party was so much fun. The best appetizer idea?! You can go to Chipotle with your own dish/bowl and ask them to fill it as a Burrito Bowl, and they will charge you based on the amount. So my friend brought what amounted to the price of two bowls, and we dipped in and ate it with chips. Yum-o! Pin It

Friday, December 5, 2008

home office

This my office although here, it looks like Shelby's huh?! In order to get some work done a few days back, I brought the laptop up, put it on the ironing board, down low at her height, she got a Hannah Montana stool from his sister's room and was all set. A little apple juice and Webkinz and she really did allow me some time to work. I still cannot manage work phone calls very successfully when she is around, she tends to forget to be quiet and not interrupt, but I can do my computer work or gasp!, just plain fun stuff.
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

checking a few things off my to do list

I picked up all my photos today: both my cards and all the 5x7's that I am cutting down to make a desk calendar for my family. I printed all my envelopes too. You can see a little sneaky of my card, nice work from Costco, huh?!
Next, is the 2008 version of Shabby Princess CD calendar that I updated for 2009 with dates and new pics.. This is my 3rd year of making these, and I do believe I have it down to a science now. Or at least it has gone MUCH quicker! I bought new dates from Little Dreamer. Here is my helpful advice:
1) merge down the files and then plop each one down onto a 5x7 new document, married up to the left corner and snug across the bottom. This will save you in trimming them later. I had mine printed at Costco and they look just great.
2) even if you are going to use these in a CD holder, printing on photo paper makes them stand up much nicer and look sharper, than cardstock
3) last year, I had them bound at Office Depot, which I plan to do again. They added the cardboard "stand" and the binding for $4-5, I cannot remember.

(This is the cover of last year's version, but it shows the stand and binding)

These were such a big hit, my family is requesting them. Heck, my Mom asked for two, one for work and one for home. So, I have 5 of these already to head to Office Depot and I am feeling pretty good about my sense of accomplishment.

I also need to shout out a huge thanks to my carpool partner who generously took Shelby to a Burger King playland, giving me an extra 2+ hours today to do all this in.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

how about a blog giveaway?

Leave a comment before Friday night at midnight (Eastern Standard Time) and I will randomly draw a name and send out this cute zippered pouch sewn by me and embellished with a thrifted wool and felt flower (also made by me!). I will post the winner on Saturday, it will be like a St. Nick gift in your stocking...but for adults! The bag measures 5"5x6.5" and is lined with the same fabric as shown on the outside. One side is striped, the other floral. I use a similar one for carrying my little digital camera, that is shown in the last picture. There is still plenty of room in there for credit cards, cash, lipstick etc. I hope you like it. Suddenly I feel driven to create these little posies and I am becoming a regular at my St. Vincent DePaul store. Today I found an Abercrobmie wool sweater for $4.49. That seems too nice to cut up! I need to get my act together and whip up a few more for gifts. If I were to use these as a hostess gift, what would be a clever, yet inexpensive item, to put inside? I also thought about making them large enough to fill with either handmade tags or notecards. What do you think?
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

comfort foods

My nose is nearly running off of my face yet still, I cook. There is plenty left to put away from our trip, laundry yet undone, a house not particularly clean and the looming holiday decorating and shopping yet I cook.

I borrowed this photo but since the recipe that followed mirrored mine exactly, I feel it is OK to show you! I use a recipe from the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust box and it is the best:

Classic Pot Pie

1-15 oz. Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
1/3 c. butter or margarine
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 ½ c. chicken broth
2/3 c. milk
2 ½ cups cooked chopped chicken or chicken breasts (you can buy this pre-cooked in the refrigerated case)
1- 10 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (one with corn, beans, and peas etc.)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pie crusts as directed on package for a two-crust pie using a 9 inch pie pan.
In medium saucepan, melt margarine over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended well. Gradually stir in broth and milk; cook, stirring constantly until bubbly and thickened.
Add chicken and mixed vegetables; remove from heat. Spoon chicken mixture into pie crust. Top with second crust and flute; cut slits in several places.
Bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I place the pie pan on a baking sheet covered with foil b/c this inevitable cooks over making a big mess!

***My super Mom and sister visited yesterday and brought me Thanksgiving leftovers so I used turkey breast instead of chicken tonight. Yum.

I had also thawed out some ground beef so I made super quick vegetable soup:

30 minute vegetable soup

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. garlic
1 jar 20-30 oz. chunky garden style pasta sauce (I used Ragu, about ¾ of a jar)
water to taste (start with 1 soup can) (I actually omitted this, I like thick soup)
2 cans beef broth
1 can 10 oz chopped tomatoes and chilies
1 bag 16 oz frozen mixed vegetables, thawed if you have time

Sauté meat, onion and garlic together in stockpot. Drain any fat. Next, add everything else. Remember to add only part of the pasta sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Toss in fresh spinach if you’d like (I did not) until wilted, about 1 minute. Serve with grated cheddar or parmesan for garnish.

I was so sick of eating out, and particularly eating fried food, that some home cooking should be exactly what I need to get me on track for life in the real world. And for snow :)

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

christmas card photo

The one that did not make it! I had a few really cute choices from last week and I totally love this tree on the beach in Captiva but I had a better shot of my girls and I chose it. In the interest of saving time (and money!) I actually ordered a ready made photo card from Costco. I have designed my own for the past few years but sometimes, a girl has to do, what a girl has to do. I am soooo behind this year so I am happy to check one thing off of my list and they had some super cute choices. Maybe this will free me up to do a few more crafty things I had in mind.
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