Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Favorite Posts of 2010

There seems to be a theme floating around Blog Land.
Lots of bloggers are looking back at their posts from 2010 and selecting some for a year review.
Not wanting to be left out, I thought I'd share mine as well - a post from each month. 
(If you want to read the post, just click on the name of the month)

January - I finally found a paint color I love for my downstairs bathroom.  Hurray!!

February - My cabin fever resulted in my first upcycled
purse which started my inventory for an Etsy shop.  Since then, I've moved on to aprons and pins with more fun things to come.

March -  I added aprons to the Etsy shop.  This mother/daughter set is still one of my favorites.

April - I had a lot of fun with a "trash to treasure" project.


April #2 - Well, I couldn't pick just one project for April because fixing up my laundry room was a big deal.

May - Repurposing the bottom of an old hutch was a nice addition to my back porch.

June - In this post, I shared some of the changes I've been making with my health and diet.  It must have touched a nerve because many of you commented and emailed me to ask questions.  I hope to share more in the future as I learn more.

July - Wow, this one was a hum-dinger.  You all were so encouraging and sweet to me during this time.  It's amazing how God can use people I've never met to help me.  I'm so thankful for all of you.

August - Back to work.  I enjoyed making slipcovers out of some upcycled fabric. 

September - I had my first real "give-away" to celebrate my 300th blog post.  I still haven't gotten any Baby Button Nests into the Etsy shop.  I keep giving them away as gifts!

  October - Well, all I can say is wedding, wedding, wedding.  I did a small series of posts about how we pulled off a beautiful outdoor wedding for our youngest daughter.

November - My Christmas present this year was to get a work surface and proper storage for my craft room.  It's still a work in progress, but I love this room.

December - Well, how fitting that I would end the year with a revamped thrift store find.  My little red lantern is now a perfect accessory in our home.

If you'd like to meet some other bloggers and see what they've been up to in 2010, then check out:
southern hospitality

The Lettered Cottage

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making A Simple Hooded Bath Towel

Due to "The Blizzard of 2010" my daughter and her family were stuck at our home for an extra day and a half before heading back to Boston after Christmas. 

I took advantage of that time to make some hooded bath towels for my grandsons.  I had already purchased the towels and washcloths, planning to make them as Christmas gifts for the boys, but time got away from me and the supplies sat unused.

I wasn't exactly sure how to make one, but it helped to have my oldest (less wiggly) grandson to serve as a model.  After a few minutes of playing with the washcloth on his head, I came up with a plan.

  First, you need a large bath towel or even a beach towel.  You also need a washcloth that matches or coordinates with the towel.  I bought this set at Marshalls (I think they cost $4.99 and $2.49)

I folded the washcloth in half diagonally.

Then, I found the center point on one long side of the large towel.  I pinned the pointed part of the washcloth to the center of the towel edge, with one side of the washcloth on either side of the towel.  I pinned the two sides of the washcloths that were open, leaving the folded side alone.

I stitched along the edges of the washcloth, making sure the towel was secured within the stitching.  I flipped the towel over and stitched the other side as well.  The washcloths I used were not perfectly squared, so they did match up perfectly.  By stitching on both sides, I was assured that all of the washcloth was stitched down.

Somebody loves his hooded towel.  In fact, as soon as he was wrapped up in it, he plopped down to show me how snugly he would be after his next bath.

I also purchased a set from World Market which was orange on one side and yellow on the other.

I followed the same directions as above.

I think he likes his too!  Well, I'm thankful for the opportunity to get this project done - and spend some extra time with the ones I love.  It took me less than 1/2 hour to complete both towels, and that included the time it took me to figure out the sewing plan.

I'm linking up with:
Make it Yours @ My Backyard Eden

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Recap

I've been trying to remember the Christmas of 2010 but a lot of the details escape me.

Hubs and I came down with the stomach flu on the 23rd and we're both still feeling the lasting effects of it.

We both slept through Christmas Eve and most of Christmas.  December 26 is still a blur.

Our oldest daughter and her family were visiting from Boston and we feared they would all be stricken with the same condition - but praise God, they all seem to be doing well.

Thank goodness I had prepared my menu ahead of time and even made a lot of the meals in advance.  It really was a blessing I didn't know I needed.

Before we got sick, we were able to enjoy a day and a half of cuddles, snuggles, and laughs.

Someone really likes their thumb and lovey.

Someone else loves to investigate and "help".

The major source of entertainment was the singing and dancing snowman (who also changes colors).  He  never failed to enthrall the little ones. 

Just when we thought our Christmas visit was coming to an end, 
this happened:

. . . and kept everyone trapped for an extra day and a half.

Tomorrow, I'll show you how I was able to take advantage of the extra time.

** I was so glad my youngest daughter took care of Christmas day photos (I couldn't even hold a camera).  Check out her blog if you want to see how the day went.  They had to leave early as her new husband was starting to feel the effects of. . . well. . . you know. . . the stomach flu of Christmas 2010.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Family Favorite: Chocolate Mint Cookies

I only had energy enough to make one kind of cookie this year. 

Since I was only making one kind, it had to be good. 

And.  These.  Are.  GOOD!

I just knew you'd want the recipe.

First, you bake the basic chocolate cookie (recipe follows).

When they have baked for 7 minutes, you place 1/2 an Andes mint on top of each cookie.

Then, you swirl the melted mint with a knife and let the cookies cool.

Then remove the cookies to sheets of wax paper to cool completely before storing between sheets of wax paper.  The chewy cookies last a long time, that is, if you can keep from eating them all!

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Mint Cookies      (Makes 6 dozen cookies)

2 pkg. Andes Mints - cut in half
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 Tbl. water
1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and water.
Heat slowly until the butter melts.
Remove from heat and pour mixture into a bowl.
Add eggs.
Add dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.
Chill at least one hour.  (you can chill overnight, but you'll have to allow your dough to stand at room temperature for an hour so that the dough is soft enough to scoop)
Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 350 degree oven 7 minutes.
Put 1/2 mint on each cookie and bake 20 seconds longer.
Swirl melted mint into the top of the cookie with a knife.
Cool until set.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm Ready

I think I'm ready.

Well, not ready for Christmas but ready for our grandchildren to arrive.

I've cleaned, baby-proofed, and decorated for a preschooler.

First, we have our cozy reading chair with an assortment of Christmas books.  We also have our preschool Christmas tree ready to decorate with crafted ornaments and of course, our dancing and singing snowman.

The bathroom is ready with a stool to help with washing hands, a potty seat on the toilet (not shown), and baby bath wash and bath toys in the tub.

All of the ornaments have been rearranged on the tree so that only soft fabric or plastic ornaments are within reach.

The air mattress is blown up and a fun pillowcase is ready for a sleepy head.  The "pack-n-play" is ready to go on the other side of the room.

And most importantly, the child's nativity set is ready to be shared.  It takes center stage on the coffee table, held by a wooden tray. 

 I'm ready to hold some sweetness in my arms and kiss on some very, very chubby cheeks.  We're all ready to sing "Happy Birfday, Jesus".  Yup, I'm ready.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Motivation: Plan Your Meals

I'm about to tell you something that will shock you. . .

I hate planning my weekly menu.
There, I said it - and I mean it. 

I know I need to do it, but I always put it off and then regret it later. 

My goal is to have a home cooked meal on the table most nights of the week. 
I mean, who doesn't want to come home to a meal like this?. . .


But, the truth is, it takes work.  It takes planning.  It takes planning ahead and shopping ahead to make it work.  My goal this week is to plan all of my meals for the next two weeks.  I'm planning for two weeks because I want to really enjoy my time off from work (I'll only be working one of my three jobs) and not stressing about feeding lots of people. 

Here's how I plan to accomplish it:

1.  I've already inventoried the freezers and pantry to see what I have on hand.  I want to use up any foods that have been around for awhile.

2.  I'm using a small note pad to jot my menus down on.  I found it at Michaels.  It's made for 1 week, but I draw a line down the middle of the page and add additional days to make it last for 2 weeks. (cuz I'm cheap like that)

3.  I'll pull out my recipe box, recipe binders, and cookbooks and look for recipes that use the items I already have on hand. 

4.  When possible, I'll plan on  making double batches of food like chili and soup to freeze for later use or to eat for lunches.

5. I check my calendar for any special days or events I may need to make something special for and write that on my menu list.

6.  I fill in the main dishes first and then add in the side dishes and an occasional dessert/snack to round out the list.  If it's not a recipe in my box or binder, I write down where to find it so I don't spend a lot of time searching for it again.

7.  The last thing I do is to highlight my printed grocery list with the items I'll need to purchase.  I check each recipe to make sure I have all of the ingredients.

 I made up my own grocery list on my computer and I can print out extra copies whenever I need to.  Items are listed by category and I can highlight items by color according to where I plan to purchase them.  Yellow for the regular grocery store, blue for Sam's club, and pink for Trader Joe's or the Organic Market.  *I've recently revised this list as our shopping has changed to accommodate healthier eating. 

I also like to have my list on my fridge so that as I use up the last of something I can highlight it and it won't get forgotten.

While strolling mindlessly (I mean researching) on several blogs, I've discovered some great menu ideas to get us started.

     An Oregon Cottage
     Musings Of A Housewife
     I'm An Organizing Junkie

Now, I know many of you already make a weekly menu.  I'm jealous of your dedication.  Can you give me (and the rest of us) some inspiration for healthy meals?   In the comment section, leave a list of the meals you've  planned for this week.

Here's mine for this week:
Sunday - Beef Stew, Pumpkin muffins
Monday - Chicken and rice in the crock pot, peas
Tuesday - Kielbasa with apples and saurkraut, green beans
Wednesday - Turkey with stuffing, steamed broccoli
Thursday - Ham and cheese quiche, collards, fruit salad
Friday - Turkey noodle soup, spinach salad, popovers (we'll eat early so we can attend church service)
Saturday - Chili, rolls, veggie platter (whoever pops in during the day can eat whenever they want to)

Friday, December 17, 2010

How To Make a Snowglobe Gift Tag

Are you looking for a fun way to label the gifts you're giving this year?

I just might have what you're looking for.

Snowglobe Gift Tags. . .

It's so easy to do.

First, find something round to trace around that is about the same size as the clear gems we'll be using in a minute.  Trace around that shape onto dark card stock with a white paint pen. 

Then, draw a simple base under the circle like you see in the photo below.

Next, stamp a small design into the middle of the circle.  I used a small tree but you could use any shape you would like.

Next, take out your bag of clear, large gems (from the dollar store or craft store).

Glue one of the gems into the middle of the circle.  I used my E6000 glue, but you could also use a clear craft glue.  **Don't use hot glue - it's too thick and it doesn't dry completely clear.

Cut around the snowglobe shape and add a small string.  I used vintage ric rac.  Label the stand with your loved one's name, using a white gel pen.

Now your tag is ready to adorn any package.

I'm having fun linking up to:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Touches of Christmas

I just can't stop decorating!  I've added a few touches
 to the powder room, but I didn't spend any money!

I always have this basket on the counter top but I added a small sprig of fake greenery, a pencil star fish, and a glittered shell (an ornament).

Another starfish and sprig of greenery with berries was added to the basket on the side of the cobalt blue, claw foot bathtub. 

This painted corner table is the perfect spot for my "Grandma Tree".  This little tree is decorated with items from each of our grandmother's homes.  The tiny birds and blue ornaments came from my grandmothers and the lace garland and lace tree skirt came from Hub's grandma's sewing boxes.

The heart shaped rock really belongs to my grandson.  I picked it up on a beach in New England when he was born.  He was only a week or two old and we were up north, helping my daughter and SIL adjust to being first time parents.  My daughter had to get out of the house so we drove out to the rocky coast in New Hampshire to explore.  I found this rock and thought it a perfect symbol of my love for my first grandchild. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wrensday: Keep Christmas In Your Heart

Because our front porch is screened in, I can put a regular Christmas tree next to the front door for an extra festive touch.  I snatched this tree from Target for $7.00 after Christmas last year. 

I decorate it with rustic ornaments and a grapevine garland.

I made small lanterns from canning jars using wire, yarn, and small berries.  I put small battery operated candles in them. 

For the garland, I unwound a grapevine wreath and wrapped it around the tree. 

The wire and marble ornaments were from a mobile we found in our home when we moved in.  The mobile was randomly hanging from the dining room ceiling fan.  I took the mobile apart and used the handmade hearts and flowers as ornaments.  Every time I unpack the ornaments, I remember the day we moved in our home.

My favorite piece is this felt banner I found in an antique shop.  I don't think it's an antique but it is quite charming. 

This banner reminds me of one of my favorite passages in the Bible (I have many). 

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."  Luke 2:16-19

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Cozy Bed

I usually like for my bedroom to have all cream/tan bedding for a restful feeling. 

During December, though, I like to add a bit of dark red to warm things up. 

Nothing too much, just 2 dark red pillow cases, 2 thrifted accent pillows (brown, tan, and red), and my favorite monogram pillow.

The monogram pillow was made by my youngest daughter (the one who just got married).  She used a pre-made pillow form from Target and added the beaded monogram and stiched holly with berries onto the bottom.  It's just beautiful!

My regular bedding is a cream colored matelasse coverlet with a pebble texture that I got years ago at  Burlington Coat Factory,  topped with an ivory quilt I found at Sears.