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. :)