Thursday, March 8, 2012

Some bunny loves Easter and Spring! ;)

Ok, I just couldn't help the title for this one. I've been procrastinating on making a door decor item that is fun and funky for my front door. I've seen the painted burlap decorations at some of the boutiques around here, but honestly, for some paint and burlap, I'd rather keep my $40+ in my pocket and create my own for about $5. Just what kind I wanted is my predicament. Easter egg? Flowers? Heart? Monogram? So frustrating, not to mention I change my mind 99.9% of the time before I actually get around to create something.

Anyone else like that? You plan a project in your head, and it seems 'perfect' and then you decide later- but before you make it- that it simply won't do. No? Ok, I guess I'm the only crazy one. ;) ha ha

So... I was hopping around blogland tonight, and found this adorable chenille bunny toy for a little girl. Perfect for my little girl's Easter basket, but that's not what I had the wheels in my mind churning at. :) This is the perfect shape for my door decor! :) A little bunny! Very Spring-y and Easter covered too!

If you want the pattern for yourself, hop on over to UCreate's blog and get it there. She also shows you how to make your own custom colored chenille with flannel! Sweet!!! I know what save me some $$ for my next quilt project! :)

Now, I have to print out my pattern and blow it up to size. I will post pics of it when it is completed.

Trash to treasure...

We moved a while back into the house we're at now, and until recently, I hadn't really ventured into our attic. No need to really, the garage was my storage place of choice. :)

Rewind to about a month ago, and the need/ability to house nearly 2,0000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies popped up. Hmmmm... where to store them? Our house is not a good option, because we have a 190# dog that has figured out how to open doors and he would happily consume all of said cookies. The only reasonable place was the garage.

There goes my storage area... we underestimated how many cookies *and* the amount of real estate needed to sort them out (good for the troop- bad for my lack of space). What to do, what to do? Oh wait! We have an attic!!

I grew up in a house that we didn't have an attic for storage. We used the basement/garage/shop/outbuildings for that. What didn't fit in those ended up at Goodwill or other local donation charities. So, I grabbed the cord to pull down my ladder to the attic to store all of my seasonal and misc. stuff- e.g. Christmas tree and decorations, Halloween decorations and all of the empty reusable bins we use for moving. Pretty sweet deal, out of sight *and* I get a cleaner looking garage in the process.

Well, apparently for some, out of sight truly is out of mind, because when I climbed up the ladder, there was stuff already there!! W-w-what?!? Books, posters in frames (you know the kind you had on your dorm walls), Christmas stuff, misc. stuff... Um, this is *not* what I wanted to find. Oh well. A quick call to the last resident proved that she didn't know about that stuff either, so it was at least 3 years old up there, and she didn't know how to contact the previous resident before her. So, I guess it is time to donate. In the last box of stuff- which happened to be a box that I have no idea *how* they managed to get it up there. It is bigger than the opening, unless they flattened it, popped it back open and then filled it...? Anyhoo... It had a *ton* of Christmas stuff in it. Not my style at all, but among the garland, wreathes, lights and ornaments was this little beauty.

Not too pretty, but she definitely had potential to be cool again.

I sanded the frame, pulled out the glass and removed all of the cracked and chipped paint.

Decided on how I wanted to paint it again and give her new life.

First attempt- epic fail. :( I was so disappointed in how it looked, I didn't even take a picture of it. It took almost 4 hours to paint and about 10 minutes to remove all of the evidence of my efforts. :( *note to self* must get a silhouette vinyl cutter for my birthday.

Second attempt- much easier- took about 10 minutes, but not what I really want. It will work for now, until I get said vinyl cutter. At which point, I will update this post.

So, there you have it. Huge long novel about repainting a window hanging- turning some trash into something that is cool... for now anyway. ;)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jumpin' on the pallet wagon... sort-of

I love some of the pallet art that I've been seeing on the web lately. So... I decided, I can make it myself and save some $$ from buying it from someone else. :)

Pallets are pretty cheap, sometimes even free if you can find a builder that is willing to give you one. I've even heard of asking places like Home Depot and Lowes if they are willing to part with one or two... I haven't done that yet. I'm too chicken honestly. ;)

So... what I did do, was go to Home Depot's bone yard of misfit boards. You know the ones, that have been declared unfit for someone's project. Some are scrap from boards that people have them cut, some are just warped to the point they can't even be useful- to me- they are the diamonds in the rough. Just perfect for what I wanted to do. :)

I snagged two boards for $1.14 (including tax) my two boards were just over 8' in length. One was a little over 4' the other a little under, but they were cut and worked out perfectly. My newest piece of wall art cost me a whopping $1.14, and I am so happy with how it turned out. :)

Finished dimensions approx. 15" x 20"

How to:

Cut 1" x 4" to 15" long. Repeat 6 times.

Use scrap board (e.g. a stake or paint stir stick for a 5 gal. bucket- you're not going to see it anyway) cut to 19". Repeat 2 times.

Line up your boards how you like. Smooth side out, to become the front of your sign.

Flip over and tack the strips vertically to hold your horizontal slats in place.

Paint the entire front of your sign in desired color. Let dry.

Free hand your saying on boards (as illustrated in picture). Let dry.

Hang on your wall and admire your work.

Seriously. It is that easy.

Stay tuned for even more cool wall art from the lumber yard... ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Craziness of life...

There is always something going on in my house. Whether we have Girl Scouts, sports, school activities... something... time always seems to escape and I end up remembering when I'm about to fall asleep that I forgot to do this or that. Grrrr! So, I have forgotten to write on here, haven't done much of projects lately- been super busy with Cookie Sales for Girl Scouts. For example, I've had the same project sitting on my dining room table for almost a month now, in the same state of completion because other more important things that are time sensitive have cropped up for some reason or another. I really ought to finish it up... maybe I will today... I'm feeling a bit more ambitious than usual. :)

So... with that being said, I also have a couple of projects that once they are finished, I will share them with you. Why? Oh, because I know you all just can't *wait* to see them, and do them for yourself. Really. ;) They are super easy, and you can customize them to your own liking very easily- and on the cheap too! BONUS! :) I love cheap- *cough* ah-hem inexpensive... projects- so does my hubby, because my craft addiction can add up fast! 8^/ Luckily, I have a decent stock of things now that I can almost whip up stuff now for less than $10. Unfortunately, my craft room needs to be organized something fierce- I'm tackling that project today, and hope to finish two other projects too. :) Like I said... a little more ambitious today than usual. ;)

Grabbing a cup of coffee... and signing off for now. Have a great day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chicken soup is good for you...

Especially if you're feeling a bit under the weather. Don't know what it is exactly that makes this soup taste so good when you're feeling crummy, but it just does. The other day, my little sous chef and I whipped up a batch of chicken noodle soup for our neighbor because she has been feeling sick with a cold. He enjoyed being able to finally cut a piece of celery on his own, and to see the smile on his face when he delivered his culinary masterpiece to her was priceless. ♥

We went off to the store, gathered up our supplies and made a batch of homemade goodness that was "just what the doctor ordered" per her comment to us later that night. :)

Here's what you need to whip up your own batch of goodness in less than 1 hour:

8 cups of chicken stock (your own, store-bought, whatever you've got)
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cooled (I grilled mine outside, and love the char developed on them from the grill outside. I did not season with salt or pepper during cooking.)
2 large or 3 medium sized carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 medium sized onion, sliced and then chopped into bite size pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced and zested
Olive Oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh Italian Parsley coarsely chopped
2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked and drained (whatever kind you like- I used rotini.- These are also optional, I don't put noodles in my own soup, but the kids ate theirs with noodles, and we gave them as an option to our neighbor.)

Step 1: Drizzle olive oil in bottom of stock pot over medium heat.

Step 2: Add carrots, onion and celery to pot. Stir and cook until onion becomes translucent.

Step 3: Add garlic, cook until fragrant. Approximately 1 minute.

Step 4: Add chicken stock, chicken breasts and lemon juice. Bring entire pot to a boil. Approximately 10 minutes.

Step 5: Remove chicken breasts from pot and shred with a fork. Add to pot of broth and veggies.

Step 6: Taste and season with pepper to your own liking.

Step 7: Right before serving, add lemon zest and fresh parsley.

Step 8: If using the noodles, add them to a bowl before ladling soup over the top of them.

That's it.

Now, if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, this soup can be modified into a chicken tortilla type of soup. I call it my Fiesta Chicken Soup. Very yummy too, and has a bit of a kick to it. :)

During the cooking process add the following items in Step 4.

14.5 oz can of Organic Fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Lime juice instead of Lemon Juice (same amount)
Jalapeno diced, ribs and seeds removed *optional*

Step 8:
Garnish with the following:
Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
Tortilla chips

That's it!

Note: I didn't add any salt to either recipe. I don't think that it needs it, but if you think it does as you're creating your meal, then by all means add some to it. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Recycled inspiration

Sorry for the lack of posts the past couple of days. I've been really busy with life over here. This past weekend our dishwasher decided to bless us with an indoor pool- I've always wanted one of those, just not in that way... A event that I'm on the committee for is happening this weekend, but some of the requirements were changed on Monday (less than a week before the event) and it caused a lot of the planning to be rethought- when you're putting together a shin-dig for 500+ people, it causes a bit of finagling and creativity. Luckily, that has been taken care of, and things are set up now... Reading/editing a book for a friend that I promised to do- if you (soon to be awesome and world renowned author- you know who you are) read this post, know that I like to 'cold read' something before I begin to edit/critique and then re-read it... in the editing process now :) ...that's just the stuff that is out of the ordinary here... ha ha

Ahhhhh... deep breath... in... out... in... out...

Ok. Cool. I have my cup of now cold coffee next to me- it was hot when I poured it a while back... and I'm ready to go now. ;)

Today I feel inspired. Not that I don't have inspiration around me, but this inspiration is permeating my thoughts. Such a simple activity (like recycling, turning off a light when not in use, etc.) can make such a huge difference when we work as a group. I mean, really, think about it for a second... let's take a journey back in time ... okay, maybe not, but think about how things were like when you were a kid. I can't say that I remember ever consciously recycling items until I was in high school, partially due to living in the 'boonies' as I affectionately refer to my parent's house 5 miles from 'town', partially because I didn't think it mattered what I did or didn't do. Just being honest here.

Now... I have my own kids, and recycling is one of those things, I don't even think about any more. I'm sure we can do more, but for now we use the compact fluorescent bulbs in our lights, refurbish materials into new crafty goodness, have 2 'trash' bins- one for recycling, one for 'trash'... which will be changing yet again, when I get my composting pile going for the garden. That is still just a thought in my head, need to research that one some more before I embark on it... So, my recycling inspiration is from a project with Girl Scouts and their Forever Green Project. This is the 100 year anniversary of Girl Scouts, and as a result, 'Green' projects are popping up all over the place 'to do this, do that,' etc. If you are interested in this at all, you can go here and read more about it.

Unfortunately, I am feeling that these projects are indeed incredible to undertake and set in place for your community, however, to keep the impact going and escalating, we need to maintain them. Such a simple concept really, but how many will actually do this?

Just the word "maintain" brings up some negative connotations. An inward groan of ugh, maintenance, continued work, delayed results, etc. especially from living in a "immediate gratification" society. Where our cell phones can jump on the internet to research the best whatever with the swipe of a finger, if it doesn't happen right now, then it is too slow, etc- the fact that cell phones have become our "home phone" so we are available (with appropriate cell service) at a moment's notice.

To me, we need to look at maintenance in a different way, it needs to be seen as a positive thing. Like, if we keep up on it or grab a friend to join us, it will never become something so overwhelming, that undertaking it as a project will just squelch any inspiration left, and any that may sprout up later because of the memories of overwhelming ourselves with a project. I remember growing up, my brother had a teacher that used the phrase "a happy heart" and that has really stuck with me and I believe it applies here. We need to have a "happy heart" when doing something because that positive attitude will not only keep you inspired, but motivate others too.

Summing it all up here:
To me, if you are inspired to do something- that is fantastic! Inspiration is always a good thing.

Acting on that inspiration is an even better thing.

Maintaining that inspiration "with a happy heart" is the best thing- and is what will inspire others to do something too.

So the cycle continues... inspiration - action - maintain -

That's the kind of recycling, I'm not only happy to do, but hope to inspire others to do as well.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine Lottery Tickets

I found an idea a while back on how to make your own lottery type scratch it tickets here. I made a few for the kids and hubs for Christmas with different things to "win" just like a real lottery ticket- just without the gambling! ;)

I decided to revamp them for Valentine's Day, but use them as mail for my kids' mailboxes that I made for them. This has become such a fun night time before going to bed activity with the kids. They love how they get "mail" each day. :) I'm giving my "lottery" cards to the kids and hubs tonight complete with a "lucky" penny- ones dated with their birth year for the kids and our wedding year for the hubs. :) This project is super easy, and can be whipped up during naptime. :)

Here's what you need:

Packaging tape- I think that the original tutorial used contact paper. I improvised.
Acrylic paints- I used red and gold
Dish soap- I used Dawn
Pen for writing
Imagination :)

Step 1: Think of what you want to have on your "lottery" tickets and write them out. If you have horrible writing, I guess you could print them out.

Step 2: Cover your "prize" with the tape. Set aside.

Step 3: Mix your paint and soap. You need to use a 2 parts paint to 1 part soap. Stir until it is blended.

Step 4: Take your card with the "prize" from Step 2, and cover your "prize" with paint mixture. You might need 2 coats, depends on how you do it, and if you can see your "prize" still after 1 coat.

Step 5: Let dry completely. It doesn't take too long. Mine were dry in 15 minutes.

That's it! :)

Hand out some pretty cool Valentine treats to your kids, family, etc. These could even be made as a class gift if you really wanted to. It's up to you- use your imagination! :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Refried Beans

I've been trying to feed my family less processed foods in an effort to instill a healthy lifestyle with my kids. Yesterday, my neighbor introduced me to a co-op of local farmers, so now, I have a way to obtain fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, eggs, and meat. So excited! It's funny how that little invitation from her has me giddy with the possibilities of creating some really delicious and healthier meals for my family. :)

So, one of the first things that I decided to conquer that I usually buy processed, (because honestly, I was completely afraid of the making process) is re-fried beans. We have tacos weekly in this house, and I just recently tackled one of my other faves that I used to leave to the pros, Taco Pizza, so I figured this one had 2 options: 1. really tasty or 2. really ugh... not for me. Luckily for me it turned out super tasty!! :) Yay!! My kids also said they liked them more than the "other" kind. Double yay!!

These beans were so incredibly easy to make, total cost for a huge crock pot's worth of 're-fried' beans less than $3. Seriously. Not only were they inexpensive, they are delicious!

Here's the easy peasy recipe:

1 yellow onion (mine was about the size of a softball), peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups of dried pinto beans
9 cups of water
1/8 tsp ground cumin (I used 1/4 tsp. and it was not overpowering at all)
5 tsp. salt
1 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (I coarsely ground mine)

Step 1. Rinse beans thoroughly in water, and place in crock pot.

Step 2. Put water into crock pot, and turn crock pot on high.

Step 3. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper to crock pot.

Step 4. Cover crock pot and let it cook for 8 hours. Periodically check on it, stir to make sure it doesn't burn to bottom. (Long time to cook, but really worth it. I guess you could do it over night, but I started mine at 10am and they were ready for dinner at 6pm.)

Step 5. I used a slotted spoon to pull my beans out of the crock pot, then placed them into my food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you could mash them however you would like to your desired consistency using a whisk, potato masher, blender, etc . Reserve some of the water to thin out beans if you want them thinner. Entirely up to you.

Enjoy. :)

No Bake Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate "cookies"

So, today is Superbowl Sunday... Yay. No really, this year I'm *really* not into watching the game. I could care less who wins the Giants or the Patriots. I am really only into watching it for the commercials, and as of half time, they have been pretty sucky, with the exception of Betty White for the Voice. Betty White is awesome. 90-something years young and can still hang with the crowd and throw in a jab or two. I want to be like her if I live to be 90 something. :)

Earlier today, I was craving something yummy- a salty and sweet combo. I usually don't do anything for Superbowl Sunday, and since this household is waiting for next season to start (Go Steelers!) I wanted a no-fuss, little mess to clean up treat. A no bake cookie would be fantastic. Not really in the mood for the Chocolate Oatmeal ones, so, the peanut butter crispy ones came to mind. Check in the pantry to see if I had the supplies- yep. Sweet! I love it when that happens. :)

Now, I don't honestly remember where I stumbled across this recipe. I've known it for years, and it would satisfy my salty and sweet craving. I wouldn't call these "cookies" per se, but more of a naked truffle. Here it is.

See what I mean about it being more like a naked truffle?

Peanut Butter Naked Truffle
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 1/4 cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but chunky would be yummy too)
2 cups Rice Krispies
Approx. 1 cup melted Chocolate of your choice (I used dark chocolate-I've used milk chocolate before, but didn't have any in my pantry.)

Cream together: butter, powdered sugar and peanut butter.

Add Rice Krispies. Incorporate well- without crushing them. The dough will be very sticky.

Form into balls. (Mine are about the size of a gumball you would get from a machine for 25 cents.)

Put in freezer to firm up for about 15 minutes.

Melt chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals, be careful to not burn the chocolate. :)

Dip truffles into chocolate so it covers about 1/2 of the truffle.

Set aside and cool, allowing the chocolate to harden.

Store in fridge so they don't get too mushy before serving.

That's it. Enjoy. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ruler Artwork & Family Keepsake

I love today's project. I found the idea/inspiration on Pinterest (shock, I know) and knew that I could make it for less than the hefty price tag on it.

My kids are growing like weeds. I swear the boy has grown 4 or more inches since the summer, the girl has grown a bit too and I'm trying to capture as much of their growing as possible. We move around a lot, so the whole tradition of scratching into a doorway's trim their height and dates isn't a feasible option to keep track of their growth. Also, they are very competitive with "who's taller?" even though they are 3 years apart in age, so this project is perfect. :)

Here is the inspiration here and she found them here. So, an idea popped into my head, I can make this myself for a whole lot less- and get a piece of art for the wall with the bonus of capturing the kids' growth. :) Yay!

Here it is. My version of the previous two links. I love the way it turned out.

Ignore the dog's food bin in the picture- we have a 200# mastiff, and this is the only thing that he can't get into and eat his food! ;)

The cost for this project was about $10- but you could do it for less if you have some of the supplies on hand; which I did, so it only cost me $6.

What you will need:
1) 1" x 8" x 6' board- I bought mine at Home Depot for $6
stain- left over from Oregon Art project
brushes for stain and paint
stencils (optional)
picture hanger- bought these at Hobby Lobby- left over from Oregon Art project

Step 1: Sand your board- if desired. Mine had some rough edges and a stamp on it from the manufacturer on the side I wanted to use for my ruler.

Step 2: Stain board to desired depth of color. I ended up doing 2 coats for mine. Let cure. Mine took a couple of days because the weather was cold/rainy/damp for a few days after I began the process.

Step 3: Since my board is 6' long (Actually measured it at this point and it was 73" instead of 72"- so measure your board in case yours is off too. You could cut off an inch or so to make it 6' or you could leave it. Either way, it works.) I decided to make my tick marks at 2" intervals.

Step 4: I began my measurement with the bottom of the board is 6". The reasoning behind this, is because I will hang the ruler 6" from the ground, so starting from 0" would be unnecessary. So, the first tick mark is 8", second 10", third 1', etc.

Step 5: Decide on length of tick marks for varying heights. I ended up making my full foot measurements 3 3/4" long, 1/2 foot was 2 3/4" long and the remaining were 1 3/4" long. If this isn't clear, check the picture. :)

Step 6: Stencil in your numbers for the full foot measurements. Or you can skip this step if you are going to just paint them free-hand.

Step 7: Paint your tick marks and numbers. Let dry.

Step 8: Seal with acrylic sealer. Do this in a well ventilated area. I ended up with a headache from this and I did it in my garage. If you can do this outside- I would recommend that. :)

Step 9: Position your wall hanger on the back of your ruler, 1" from the top of your board.

Step 10: Hang on your wall- if you are using a 6" one that is actually 73" like mine is, I put the nail in at 6'6" so it lines up correctly.

That's it! :)

Enjoy your new art piece that will capture your kids' growth throughout the years- maybe even your grandkids too. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Family, food, GMO?! Huh?!?

I don't what it is about food. Whenever I'm especially missing my family (like today), I end up finding myself browsing food blogs, recipe databases, combing through my cookbooks, etc trying to find that "perfect" dish to create- only to be frustrated that I don't have *all* of the ingredients to whip it up. Grrrr... so frustrating!

Anyhoo... as I was browsing through some recipes today, I came across some information. I tend to have an ADHD type browsing style- I find a recipe, then see something shiny and open up a new tab/window and explore, repeat, repeat, repeat, then end up with entirely too many windows on my browser and wonder why it is taking so l-o-n-g to load info. ;) My dad used to tell us kids growing up that we are "jitterbugging" and need to focus, not sure what a dance from the 30's, a WHAM song lyric or that crazy little cell phone with only a few buttons has to do with things, but hey, whatever. See what I mean, I'm all over the place today! ;)

So... back to my point... in my search for the perfect recipe, I stumbled across some information that I had kinda tucked away in the back of my mind. Back when I was in college (the first time around- late 90s) I took a class on Bioethics. The class was incredible- and I remember being outraged back then at how our food could become modified in a way that was "roundup ready" and that Monsanto was a huge culprit. One of the books I read was extremely enlightening,- so much so, that I started reading labels like a crazy person back then. Now... I would absolutely love to tell you I kept up on that outrage, kept up on reading the labels like a crazy woman and all of that. *shaking head* Unfortunately, I didn't/haven't, I still read labels- don't get me wrong, just didn't realize what I needed to be looking for exactly. All I know, is that I'm going to look closer at the ingredients, and not just for the nutritional information, but at the actual ingredients.

GMO (genetically modified organism) is a lot more common than it was 10 years ago. I found a blog that had a really simple way to understand what is going on in addition to links for more information if you wanted to know more. There are several links to find brochures that you can print out and bring with you to the store to help you out. There are even codes on your fresh fruit and veggies that will indicate to you whether or not it is a GMO, natural, natural & organic to help you with understanding your fresh veggies and fruit. If you're not convinced something is up, then do a simple Google search on GMO, see what pops up- crazy stuff. I'm talking stuff from a sci-fi movie, seems unreal, but unfortunately, it isn't.

Too much information is not really a bad thing when it comes to knowing what is going in to your body or your family and your kids' bodies. You only get one, you have to take care of it. Garbage in - garbage out.

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feeling Lucky?

I love giveaways! I have only won twice in my entire life- but I have entered a lot of contests along the way! ;) It is so much fun to enter- hoping to win and thinking of the possibilities to be made if you do win...

This one is pretty easy to do, and you can get multiple entries too. If you like to sew cute stuff for your little one you can check out Whimsy Couture for the patterns you like so you can tell Positively Splendid which ones you would choose to create. Over at Positively Splendid's place, you can enter to win some patterns from Whimsy Couture! :) Cool huh?

Good luck!! :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cookies, cookies, cookies...

Ah, yes... it is Girl Scout cookie time. I'm the proud troop leader of a bunch of Brownie Girl Scouts. For those of you who don't know me on a day-to-day, you probably don't know about this new little activity.

Kind of a funny story actually how this all came about... so if you care to know the story, keep reading... if not, well, skim it to the last paragraph and come back tomorrow... :)

Anyhoo... Back in September a note came home from school asking if your daughter would be interested in Girl Scouts. I was never actually a Girl Scout growing up, one of my younger sisters was in Girl Scouts and my mom was an assistant leader, so that's basically all of the experience I had with it. So, I asked the girl if she was interested, she said yes... and there you have it. We went to the place to "register" her for a troop, yada, yada, yada, and on the form was a place for volunteering as an adult to help out the troop- yes, I filled in my info and checked the box too.

My husband and I both believe strongly in being involved with both of our kids. We have done the whole soccer thing, swimming and soon to add softball and football to the mix, so to me this Girl Scout thing wouldn't be any different. As it turns out, I ended up not just being a volunteer, but the actual Troop Leader of a group of 2nd grade girls. Bear in mind, I have basically no experience with Girl Scouts.

At this point, I was kinda freaking out. How was I going to lead a bunch of girls that are looking to me for inspiration in crafts- well, I could definitely do that one, cooking- eh, maybe, camping- um, does camping in a cabin count?? and inspiring them to "make the world a better place?" I hope so... ok. Maybe not so hard after all... right?

So... being the crazy person that I am, I decided that I was going to go full-bore into this Girl Scout stuff- earning badges with the troop as often as possible, participating in events, etc. I had set a goal to make my troop the most amazing troop ever- these girls are going to make an impact. And guess what? They have!! We have so far to date participated in making sock monkeys for Texas wildfire victims through Craft Hope, we have collected cookies to donate to our service members overseas, we are in the process of gathering food and clothing for our local shelters *and* the girls are trying to think of their next service project. These girls are 7 and 8 years old... they are already making a difference *and* know they are too.

Now, what was all of this for? To just let you know, that when you see those cute little Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of the store or at your front door- you are helping them to make a difference too by purchasing a box of cookies. Yeah, I know, a long sales pitch, but really, these girls are trying to "make the world a better place" and cookies are delicious. I think that is a win-win deal to me. :)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Keepin' it real

One of my resolutions this year was to get my blog up and rolling again. Like every new year resolution that I have made in the past (because I am really bad about some things) this one was about to fall to the wayside and get forgotten after the first couple of weeks.

However... I made a decision to not only get my blog up and movin' but to revamp it. Hence, the whole new look, of not just focusing on crafts with kids, but to make it more getting involved with your kids, spending time doing crafts on your own (because it is important to take care of you too), recipes, etc. So, the new and improved blog has begun to emerge- and I have to say, it has become something that I look forward to writing each day. Like catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee, writing for has become less daunting, because I have decided to write how things are- not how they should/could be, but how they are today. No more of the highlight reels to showcase life, this is off of the editing floor, and it is quite liberating.

I'm not going to post a "you need to go do this - now!" sort of entry every day. I'm also not going to feel guilty about not posting some awesome project either- believe me I have had my share of project "fails." Honestly, there are also days, like today, that it is literally zapping all of my energy to just type this post up. That is an entirely different subject- not sure how to approach that one, but I might just in case it helps someone else.

Most of the people that read my blog are my family and friends, some of you I have known for years, some of you I have only "met" through cyberspace, others I have yet to meet you; but I do enjoy reading all of your comments. I also like to look at my stats to see where exactly my traffic is coming from, and I am truly amazed at some of the places. I found out that I had one of my posts referenced in a blog that was entirely in Spanish. Pretty cool, considering I only know enough Spanish to get into trouble- but learning how to speak Spanish is on my resolution list for this year too.

With all of that being said, I will sign off for now. I will post again later- not tonight, maybe not even tomorrow, but when I do, I hope that you'll stop by and say hi. :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Up-cycled Left Overs...

I still remember the first time that I ever tried Taco Pizza. It was with my friend Stacie at Pizza Hut back when we were in high school. I was skeptical at first, but after my first bite, I was hooked. I've had some really delicious ones and I've had some that I beg to differ on their ability to be even classified as a "taco" or even a "pizza" in my experiences with this concoction of two different ethnic cuisines. Incredibly enough, I never thought to make one of these at home- had to leave the cool gourmet pizzas to the pros. ;)

Well... two nights ago, I had a bit of an epiphany. You see I (for the most part) detest eating left-over meals. If I happen to freeze it though before serving the meal to the family- that's okay- it isn't technically a "left over" it is a preemptive psychological strike to my palate because it wasn't served yet. I know I'm weird, um, I mean quirky. ha ha Anyway... The family had burritos for dinner, and we made a little too much. Ugh. The dreaded "left overs" were going to be overly abundant. The hubs and kids love "left over" burritos, and don't mind them in the least, but I was trying to figure out what I was going to eat now that they were set for tomorrow's lunch.

So... now for the epiphany... Taco Pizza. Maybe because of the different recipes I've been browsing on my favorite time waster the idea had been planted waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself to my consciousness. I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of this possibility before. Technically, it isn't "left overs" if it is an entirely different meal, right? A left over up-cycle so to speak... right? Now, for the first time ever- I was looking forward to *gasp* left overs!

For those of you that haven't tried Taco Pizza, the way I made it was not like any other way I have had before. I know I'm biased, but honestly, I really like the way it turned out *and* my kids have now asked that I do this instead of having left over burritos for lunch. Bonus! :) Here is my recipe and some pictures to entice you... so get in the kitchen and have fun!

Taco Pizza

1 ready-made 14" pizza crust (I bought mine in the aisle where you would buy your pizza sauce.)

2 cups refried beans
1 1/2 cups salsa (This salsa is the only kind I use now. You can substitute your own brand/favorite.)
1 cup taco seasoned ground beef (could use ground turkey also- next time) :)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (approximately- use your own judgement)

Sour Cream
Shredded Lettuce
Sliced Black Olives
Tortilla Chips- crushed or not- your choice

Pre-Heat oven to temperature recommended on packaging.

Mix together the 2 cups of refried beans and 1 1/2 cups of salsa together in a bowl.

Spread your bean/salsa mixture on your pizza crust. (This is your pizza's 'sauce.')

Sprinkle your ground meat on top of your pizza. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of the meat.

Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and your crust is crispy- or however you like your pizza crust to be. I love mine crispy. :)

Remove from oven, and garnish with your toppings. :)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Okay, they (don't remember who 'they' are- but there are several) say that when people don't know each other very well, and don't know what exactly to say to keep awkward silences at bay, discuss the weather. Really? The weather? Makes sense if you think about it. I'm not going to digress any further though on this thought process. :)

What I am going to do, is come up with some ideas for rainy day activities. My youngest one is sleeping on the couch, the 4-legged one is equally passed out on the floor next to him, and I am click-clack typing this blog post watching the rain pour down like someone is literally washing my windows with a garden hose. The sky is a very cool gray color though- almost a silver color. (Insert your favorite saying about every cloud has a silver lining.)- here - ha ha

Rainy day activity list:
1. Stamp fingerprint art with the kids.
2. Take pictures of activity.
3. Post on blog later. :)
4. Enjoy some hot chocolate with the kids too.

Sounds like a fun day- even when the weather isn't so nice out. :)

Hope you all have a great day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Craft Hope- Project 16

I love showing my own 2 kids and Girl Scout troop, how even 1 child can make a BIG difference in the world, not just locally, but globally. I recently (when I say this, I mean within the past few months) found Craft Hope. Jade Sims runs Craft Hope with a few other people and have implemented several projects that can bring in communities from around the world - literally - to make an impact in a big way, one completed project at a time.

My Brownie Girl Scout troop decided as a group to participate in Craft Hope's Project 15- Sock Monkeys to help out kids that were either burn victims or lost everything in Texas due to the wildfires. The girls were so excited to share with a child they had never even met. It was a very heartwarming, rewarding and wonderful experience for all of us. My kids constantly asked me about how many monkeys had been collected for other kids, and when the project was finished, she had over 300 monkeys. Amazing. I can honestly say, that this project makes my heart smile (not just because I love sock monkeys either) and even as I'm writing this post, I'm thinking of how some of those monkeys put a smile on someone's face. ♥

My Girl Scout Troop showing off their sock monkeys.

So... Jade has put together another heart warming project for us to participate in. It is making beanies and bags for kids that are fighting cancer. I can't even begin to describe how much this project is screaming to me to get involved. I honestly couldn't wait to hear what she was going to tell us, she had been teasing us on Facebook for a couple of days. Now she has told us, it is for the littlest warriors, read her project page information, and then tell me you don't want to rush out to Joann's, Hancock Fabric, any other local fabric store and purchase a bunch of fleece to whip up some of these in an afternoon?

Look at this little guy... how can you resist?? I know I can't! :) Source: Craft Hope

I've got a pattern in mind, just not sure how to modify it for all the kids involved. I would love to make sure they fit, and have more than just one size. My heart and head are about to explode with all of the ideas I have for her newest project. I will be posting pictures of my beanies as I finish them up. I might even be able to figure out a way to post my pattern if I can draw it up and have it work. :)

I will sign this one off for now. :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lemon Bars!

So... I love to bake, cook, craft, etc. basically anything that Ms. Stewart can do, I can too, for the longest time she was my inspiration. I would buy all of her magazines, scour through her books to find something that I could replicate, literally for years- beginning in high school. Now, ah-hem, a few years later ;) ... I have taken on projects that are easy, some are difficult, and others are just plain frustrating that I can't get them to finish up. Just keepin' it real here. Those projects are the ones that I don't showcase, and because I don't, I feel like I'm cheating out or something. :/ I think that one of these days, I'm going to have to do a post simply on project fails. That might be kinda fun actually.

Now, I've rambled on for a bit there... so, since I was feeling a bit down that my latest project isn't finished up yet- weather is *so* not cooperating. :( Rain = no bueno for curing paint/stain. Just in case you didn't know. ;) So... what is the opposite of rain? Sun. Warm glorious sun. Exactly what I was wanting. Now, I knew what to do.

I went to my cookbook cabinet and began to skim my recipes to see what lemon flavored treat was going to be made. Lemon pound cake... lemon blueberry bundt cake... lemon drop cookies... white chocolate lemon truffles... I mean, c'mon, nothing says sunshine like a lemon, right? They are even bright yellow, and just the thought of a lemon makes me smile. I love lemons. I literally peel them like oranges and eat them. No joke. Okay, back to my deliciousness that I made this morning...

I ended up picking lemon bars. They are so simple, yet so perfect and whip up in about an hour from start to finish. Bonus!

Here's my recipe that I have altered from another woman that I love to try out her recipes, Paula Deen. The little guy even helped me out, he *loves* to bake with me, and these also happen to be his absolute favorite dessert. Sorry I don't have any pictures of these beauties, they are already gone. Gasp! I know. Crazy huh? I guess a mom who loves lemons & lemon bars + 2 kids that love lemon bars = no lemon bars for blog post later. :/ I guess I will have to make some more tomorrow... ha ha

Lemon Bars (adapted from Paula Deen)
2 sticks salted butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
Zest from 1 lemon

4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons of all purpose flour
8 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemons (I juiced 3 lemons, they were on the smaller size) I left the pulp in the juice too, just make sure to take out the seeds! :)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the crust ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.

Take your 9" x 13" pan and grease it with some butter or a cooking spray so your lemon bars don't stick to the pan.

Press your crust mixture into the pan evenly. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Do not turn off the oven, you will need to bake the filling too!

While the crust is baking whip up the filling. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. This curd will be a little runny before you bake it, but trust me, it is delicious.

When the crust is done baking, pour your filling over the top of it and place it back into the oven and back for an additional 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. You can let them cool if you want, or you can break into them as soon as they are out. They are hot like lava though, if you do go that route. ;) Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mailboxes for Mantle

This was the *easiest* project I've done in a long time. Here is the link through Pinterest that I used for my inspiration. :)

I went to Target and in the dollar bins they had these adorable little mailboxes for just a dollar!! I think they are absolutely adorable! They only had the 4 colors, and so each one of us in this house have our own color. :)

After going to Target, I went to my one of my favorite places to grab craft gear, Dollar Tree. :) The candlesticks were only $1 as well, so this project costs $2 per mailbox/stand. :)

I didn't take pictures of how to do this, because it is simply gluing the centered mailbox with hot glue to the candlestick. Easy peasy.

I placed them on my mantle, just waiting for them to get filled with little Valentine notes to the kiddos and hubs. :) In our house, we don't like the over commercialization of Valentine's Day, we feel that if you love someone you need to show them *all* of the time, not just on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. so, we are writing little notes whenever we want to, and then placing them in the mailbox for the recipient to "get mail." :)

Oregon Art

I grew up in Oregon, graduated from college in Oregon (GO Beavs!!), found and married my husband up in Oregon, and most of my family and friends still live in Oregon. It is no surprise that in my heart, Oregon holds a very special place.


So, a few days/weeks ago, not actually sure when I saw the inspiration for this, but with Pinterest it is hard to remember "when" because I can lose hours on there without even really trying to. It is crazy. A whole new time warp that is so much fun, but can be very dangerous if you're trying to get stuff done, because your time will evaporate. Okay, maybe not for any of you, but it does for me. ;)

This project is very, very, VERY easy to do. I gathered up my supplies for less than $10- and I have several of the supplies leftover for other projects that I will be posting also. It does however take a bit of patience and time. I ended up re-stringing this project three times before I was happy with the result and it looked the way I had envisioned it. :)

1 spool of string- any color you want I used Navy blue (The kind you use for a sewing machine.) *not pictured

1 package of nails (Mine were from Wal-Mart for 97 cents- hardware section.)

1 package of picture hangers (You need only 1, mine were at Hobby Lobby for $1.99 and there were 6 in the pack. At Home Depot, they sell you only 2 and they are almost $3.)

1 small can of stain (I used Minwax Wood Finish in Weathered Oak- it gave the board an antiqued/weathered look and I love it.) *not pictured

1 piece of wood in desired size (I bought mine at Hobby Lobby for $2, they are normally $3 but they are on sale right now- so if you have a Hobby Lobby head on over and pick one out. They have lots of different shapes and it could be really fun! Of course you can also buy one at Home Depot, I didn't price them out though.)

1 paper printout of your desired state. (Pulled mine off a Google search- just google your state and use the words "--- state outline" and find one you like.) *not pictured

Crayon or Carbon Paper *not pictured

Scissors *not pictured

Pen *not pictured

Sandpaper 120 grit *not pictured

Hammer *not pictured

Needle-nose Pliers *not pictured

Step 1: Sand your piece of wood, to get any roughness off before you place your state outline. Set sandpaper aside for later.

Step 2: Cut your state shape out leaving an extra bit of white around it. Keep the scrap for later.

Step 3: Color the back of your paper with the crayon. If you are using Carbon paper, you don't have to do the coloring the paper, just use the carbon paper. :)

Step 4: Position your state on the board the way you would like it. If using the carbon paper, have the carbon paper between the state paper and the board.

Step 5: Trace over your state with a pen. Press firmly, so the shape transfers fully. If need be repeat in areas that didn't take so well or have details you need.

Step 6: Take scrap paper from Step 2, and cut out a heart shape. Tip: fold the paper in half and cut your heart half that way, so your heart is symmetrical. :)

Step 7: Trace your heart in desired area, you can always use a map for this, and I have my heart centered around Corvallis.

Step 8: If you like what you see, fantastic! Keep going. If not, sand all of the marks off and repeat Steps 4-7.

Step 9: Take your hammer and one nail, and lightly indent your state and heart outline's borders. You are setting a guide for where you will hammer the nails in a bit. This will help you out a lot. :)

Step 10: Sand the entire board so you can not see the markings of your outline, just the holes that you just completed in Step 9. Use a nail to empty the holes from sawdust, because you need it to be clear of dust before proceeding.

Step 11: Stain your board. Follow the directions on your can of stain for this part. Each is different, but the basic gist is the same. Apply stain, wait, rub off, repeat until desired shade is achieved. Do in a well ventilated area, not the dining room where your kids can complain about the smell- not that I would know anything about that.

Step 12: Now for the fun part. Placing your nails into all of the holes. I started with the heart and then worked my way around the state. Really depends on where the heart is if you do that or not, if your heart is near a border, I would recommend it, but whatever works for you. Try to keep the nails at the same depth too, for uniformity. :) Sorry I forgot to take a picture of this step. :/

Step 13: If your nails are a little wonky, use your pliers to straighten them out. I also did this to see if I needed to add any nails for a bare spot, I ended up adding a couple of them, and still had to do one on the heart right before I finished up.

Step 14: Take an end of your spool of thread and make a sliding knot. Place that knot around a nail in your heart. Tie a square knot to secure it in place, trim the end so you are tethered to your piece with the spool of thread.

Step 15: Wrap your thread around a border nail and return to the *same* heart nail you started with.

Step 16: Proceed to the next border nail then return to the same heart nail. Complete this process until each border nail has been tethered to a heart nail. This part is entirely up to you on how you proceed with it. It is a piece of art- each piece will be completely different- that is why art is so cool!

Step 17: Fill in any areas that you think are needed to complete the look. I seriously did Steps 14-17 while watching an hour long show that was DVR'd and had time left over, so this really didn't take too long to do. You can see progress quickly, and you get into a rhythm after a bit.

Step 18: Attach to the back of your piece the wall hanger. I did this, but then I ended up putting it in a plate holder on my mantle. :)

That's it!

Now I'm off to finish 2 other projects, but I will be posting the other one I finished yesterday- tomorrow, and the other 2 the day after tomorrow. :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Something that makes life on-the-go easier

I am not one to plug products, but I have to share this one with you. For Christmas my husband got me a Tervis cup. I have got to say, I never thought I would thoroughly enjoy a gift as much as I have this one. It keeps my water cold- I'm talking ice cold, not just for an hour, not even for 2 hours, but for a suprising 3 1/2 hours! I was shocked. I have another insulated cup that I thought was really great for hot and cold drinks, but honestly, this one blows it out of the water.

The Tervis cup is dishwasher safe and you can get so many options on their site, that I'm sure you can find your 'perfect' cup. They are a little more expensive that your traditional insulated cup; but they have so many more advantages. The dishwasher safe, made in America and they have a lifetime guarantee!

So, that's all I have to say about Tervis and how awesome I think they are- not to mention I absolutely love my zebra print with fuchsia travel lid. They haven't paid me for my opinion, and that is exactly what this post is, my opinion. :)