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Showing posts from December, 2009

2009 Blog Recap

When reading Jo-Lynne's blog, Musings of a Housewife , I discovered a fun way to recap the blogging year. Below is a listing of the first line of the first post of every month in 2009. Please excuse my silliness. Remember, I'm new at this! January 5, 2009 My name is Kelly Miller and I live in a quiet, rural area in South Eastern Virginia. *This was my first post, introducing myself. Click on the date to see a picture of my ugly mug and my cute goats February 7, 2009 Now that Christmas is over and the decorations are put away (right?), you're left with the paperwork that came with your Christmas gifts . *Talking about Christmas in February? March 15, 2009 Do you ever feel like you are falling behind in the maintenance of your home and car? *Yes, I do. April 15, 2009 Spring Cleaning is one of those chores that has fallen out of favor. *This was my only post for the month of April. Apparently I was busy cleaning. May 10, 2009 OK. It's almost Summer and we need

Tidy Brown Wren learned a lot in 2009

This time last year, I didn't know what a blog was. I had heard of blogs but, not being computer savvy, I had never read one. Boy, has my world grown since I discovered all of you! In doing marketing research for my business, Tidy Brown Wren: bringing order to your nest, I kept reading about starting a blog. I thought , why not? So, in January, I wrote my first post and cautiously hit the "publish" button. Only my MIL read the post. As if the process wasn't hap-hazard enough, we only had dial-up service at our home. After enough tears on my part, my hubs finally relented and we got high-speed Internet. Whoo-hoo! I limped along, posting infrequently, for several months. Then, I discovered that my cousin, Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife wrote a blog. A really good blog. She also had a web design business called DCR Design . Wow! She was kind enough to take me under her wing and breath a little life into my sadly lacking blog. I love the design sh

Wrapping it up and putting it away

What to do with all of the wrapping paper, bags and bows left over after Christmas? Pack 'um up and put 'um away. I keep mine in a 40 inch Rubbermaid Wrap and Craft . It holds everything I need, keeping it clean and dry until next Christmas. First, I put my rolls of paper in and then I slide in bags, tissue paper, and flattened down boxes. I use pretty gift boxes to hold my ribbon. I roll each strand of ribbon around my hand and then slide it off, press it flat, and "file" it in the gift box. This wired ribbon can easily be unrolled and tied around the packages next year. Much of this ribbon has been recycled for 4 years now and it still looks great. I use another gift box to hold package toppers. This protects the toppers from being crushed and broken. I add the lightweight boxes into the bin and put on the lid. If I needed to replenish any wrapping supplies, I'd buy it now on clearance and add it to my bin.

Christmas Pack-up

This time of year is always bitter-sweet for me. I love all of the Christmas decorations, but I'm also eager to have my house back to normal. That said, I want to show you how I pack up my decorations. First I grab my empty bins from the garage and clean out any debris from them. Next, I pack away my decorations in labeled ziploc bags. Sometimes I also use small gift boxes that will fit down into the bin. The bags and boxes keep things from shifting around in the bins as we haul them up onto the shelves in the garage. Whenever possible, I keep the original boxes an item came in. Not only are they usually labeled with what the item is, they are a perfect fit for the item. I save all of the bubble wrap that came with the box too.

Monday Motivation: 10 Holiday Items to Throw Away

I hope you enjoyed Christmas with your family and friends. We had a pretty slow day which was just fine with me. We did a good job of cutting back on the gifts and that made for fewer, but more thoughtful selections. I only cried once, during the day, thinking of my little grandsons so far away in Boston. I missed them terribly. Now, back to business. Let's get to purging items and organizing what's left. During the next few weeks I'm sure you'll be packing away your holiday decorations and I want to give you some ideas of how to do that. This week, on this blog, we'll focus on that. Today I will give you ideas of 10 things you might want to purge. This is my no-holds-barred list: 1. Broken ornaments * 2. Candles that look beat up or that are burned down to a nub. 3. Wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, and gift bags that are too crumpled to reuse. That goes for boxes as well. 4. Decorations that didn't make it out of the storage bins/boxes this ye

Wrensday: Birdhouse ornaments

Our family loves birds, bird houses and feeding birds. For several years in a row we made little birdhouse ornaments for our friends and family. The base of the birdhouse is a simple unfinished wooden birdhouse shape that we purchased at Michaels. This gingerbread birdhouse was made by hammering a nail into the roof to make "graham cracker" like lines. We used puffy paint for frosting and mini pom-poms for a wreath. Heart sequins decorated the shutters and pre-made candy cane charms stand sentinel by the perch. This was our first attempt at making the ornaments and you can see that it is quite primitive. Just some red and white paint, a wreath made out of yarn and seed beads and a chipboard sign on the side with the family's name on it. Pretty simple. This one is my favorite. A copper roof tops the stone cottage birdhouse. The stones are actually small pieces of leather glued on the wood and then we filled in around them with puffy paint as mortar. Merry Christmas fr

Holiday Tour

Welcome to my home! Thanks for traveling so far to see us. We hope you enjoyed the scenic drive and remembered to wave at the horses and sheep as you traveled down our country roads. Don't let the screen door slam as you come onto our porch. Our little bird tree stands sentry at the front door. She's wrapped with burlap and grapevine and decorated with natural ornaments. As you walk into our foyer remember to pause under the mistletoe and smooch your sweetheart. I made this mistletoe ball with my grandma 29 years ago. Here's our tree. No two ornaments are alike. Most are memories of our life together. The base of the tree is surrounded by a 100 year old quilt made by my great grandmother. Here is my snowglobe collection. My very first snowglobe is on the top shelf, second from the left. Only half of the liquid is still in it! (Stay tuned to see this shelf reinvented in January) This is our nativity set. The figurines are from Hubby's grandmother. She purchased th

Monday Motivation: Keeping it simple

We're all guilty of going a little crazy this time of year. You know, the flurry of activity that surrounds Christmas. Shopping, baking, crafting, partying etc. . . I was especially aware of the flurry while driving home the other day and I heard all manner of car horns going off. Apparently everyone had had it with the traffic and each other. My Aunt gave me a little book she found. It is no longer available to buy, but I wanted to share a few thoughts from the book. The name of the book is The Legend of the Christmas Prayer by Brian Morgan. The story goes that an older gentleman wanted to give special gifts to those he loved. Not having a lot of money he thought of what types of gifts he could give that would have more meaning than a purchased item. He gave a prayer for each of the twelve days of Christmas. A prayer for: Day 1: Joy in abundance and laughter. Laughter cures our ills and joy makes our spirits soar. Day 2: A simple sigh as needed, for a sigh clear

Peppermint Play dough

We've been having a great time playing with Peppermint Play dough in my preschool classroom. It was really easy to make in the microwave. I made a double batch for my class of 10 students, giving each one a generous amount to play with. My daughter is making some for her Little Gym students as a gift. Each student will get their own bag of play dough with a cookie cutter attached. I know they'll love it! Homemade Play dough 2 cups plain flour 1 cup salt 4 tsp. cream of tartar (found in the spice isle) 1 cup water 2 Tbl. oil (any kind of cooking oil) red food coloring (the more you add the darker it will be) 1 tsp. mint extract Mix all ingredients together in a large glass bowl. Cook for 2 minutes on high. Stir. Cook 1 minute. Stir. Cook 1 minute . Repeat until your finger pressed down into the dough comes out dry (about 5 minutes total). No play dough should stick to your skin. Beware, though, because it is hot! If you double the recipe you'll cook it for about 10 mi

Quick Quiche

Last week I gave you some ideas for cooking ahead during this busy season. Several of you requested the quiche recipe, so I'm posting it today. This recipe makes 2 quiche. I make them both, baking one for our meal, and freezing one for later. Quick Quiche 2 pastry shells (I use refrigerated Pillsbury crusts) 2 cups diced, fully cooked ham 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese 2 tsp. minced onion (sometimes I use green onion too) 4 eggs 2 cups half-and -half cream (sometimes I use evaporated milk) 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 1. Line unpricked pastry shells with aluminum foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. 2. Remove foil (save for later) and bake 5 minutes longer. 3. Divide ham, cheese, and onion between the shells. 4. In a bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Divide evenly between both shells. 5. To Bake: cover edges of crust with the aluminum foil and bake 35-40 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before cutting. To Freeze: Cover unbaked quiche with aluminum foil and p

Wrensday: Front porch Christmas tree

Because I have a covered front porch, I love to put a Christmas tree up next to our front door. This poor little tree has seen better days (think Charlie Brown tree) so this may be our last year with said tree. All of the ornaments were either found at a thrift store or I made them myself. The banner above was found on a thrift store wreath. I pitched the wreath but kept the sweet felt banner that states "Keep Christmas in your heart". I made these little votive holders from old jars and some wire. Some are canning jars that are chipped and some are pickle or olive jars. I wrapped wire around them to make a handle and added yarn and small beaded holly berries. I put battery operated candles in them and they are wonderful. This is my favorite jar. I think lemon curd came in it. I love the little built in handles. Fun! I'm linking up with The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday party . Click on what others have made to get some great ideas for your home.

What's on my floor?

For those of you who think I am a perfectly organized and orderly person, I give you exhibit A ! I don't know why, but I have a hard time keeping my crafting supplies from spreading all over my house. For one thing, I don't like to work at a table. At 5 feet tall, I feel like a little kid at the grown-up table. My feet dangle, and I end up sitting on my feet to lift myself up. I tend to work on the floor, or maybe I should say, in the middle of the floor. Above is a picture of my office/craft room floor in mid-production of snowmen ornaments. Please don't be alarmed by the headless snowman or the pile of "arms" next to him. I actually picked up a little bit before I took this picture - mainly because I couldn't get to the camera without out picking up the piles of fabric. So, jussayin', I'm not as neat as you think I am. **For those of you interested: I'm making these snowmen out of a vintage cotton blanket and buttons from Oma Mill

Monday Motivation: Buy your 2010 calendars

There are only a few more weeks left in the 2009 year. As I was making a doctor's appointment the other day, I realized that I had nothing to write the day and time on. How could I have forgotten to get a new calendar? Could it be the days are just flying by too fast? Anyway, I went to Office Max and picked up a 2010 calendar refill for my day planner. Years ago, when I first decided to get organized, I purchased the largest planner binder I could afford. After all, I was trying to keep up with three whole children. I wasn't doing a very good job at it, forgetting one at school and taking another to the wrong doctor. Believe me - I was bad. Over the years, I've slowly downsized the planner to roughly the size of a wallet. It serves me well for this time in my life. Thankfully, I became a better mother too. In addition to a planner in my purse, I also buy a magnetic calendar to put on my fridge. I hesitated putting one on the fridge for years because I think it looks junk

Stenciled Christmas Cards

I've been busy finishing my Christmas cards. I found this "JOY" stencil in my craft stash a few weeks ago and decided to design my card using it. I haven't stenciled anything in several years so I thought I would revive the craft this year. I forgot how much I like to stencil. I put on Christmas music, hubby built a fire in the fireplace, and I stenciled at the dining table where I had plenty of room to spread out. As you can see, I stenciled silver paint on a piece of dark blue art paper (bought at Michael's for @ $2.00). After stenciling 2 whole sheets, I cut around the stenciled design to fit on the front of my card stock. I also cut down 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of card stock in half to make my card base. I buy my card stock in reams to cut down on the cost. One ream lasts me several years. In addition, I cut down a roll of bulletin board paper (from the teacher store) to fit just inside the front of my cards (5 x 3 1/2 inches). I also used glue s

Wrensday: Baby Shoe Ornaments

These are some of the most sentimental ornaments on our Christmas tree. I had saved my children's baby shoes for many years. As my children got older I realized that the shoes would never be worn again-too many new, cuter shoes for the grandchildren to wear. What's a mom to do? Hang them on the Christmas tree! I love the scuff marks on the toes. I labeled the bottom of the shoes for each child. With a Sharpie marker, I wrote their name on one shoe and their date of birth on the other. I simply tied the shoelaces together to hang them up. Every year, when I hang them on the tree, I'm reminded of the little, fat feet that use to fill them.

Refrigerator Roll Dough

Yesterday, I gave you some ideas to help keep you organized with meals during the busy month of December. A few of you have asked for the recipe for the refrigerator roll dough, so here it is. As you can see by my Betty Crocker cookbook, below, this has been a much used recipe for the past 28 years. I love this recipe because it makes approx. 4 dozen rolls and can stay in your fridge for 5 days. My cookbook was published in 1979 and I could not find this recipe on their current website. Refrigerator Roll Dough: 1 pkg. active dry yeast 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees) 1 cup mashed potatoes (I make it with instant potatoes) 2/3 cup sugar (I use 1/2 cup) 2/3 cup shortening 2 eggs 1 1/2 tsp. salt 6-7 cups flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat flour sometimes) Dissolve yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. (I use my kitchen aide mixer) Stir in potatoes, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough

Monday Motivation: Planning ahead with freezer meals

Hopefully you've got a handle on your decorations, cards , and gifts . Now to handle the busy schedule that inevitably fills up quickly around this time of year. When the schedule is hectic, especially around dinner time, our tendency is to stop by the drive- thru for a quick bite to eat. The dollars add up as quickly as the calories do when we fall back on the fast food. An alternative is to prepare food ahead of time and stock your freezer to be prepared. I got a head start on the process at Thanksgiving when I froze a few extra side dishes to have on hand. Now I'm thinking ahead to make a few extra entrees and side dishes to freeze. I try to make a double batch of dinner a few times a week and freeze half for later use. Here are a few of the meals I plan to cook extra of: Entrees: 1. Chili 2. Soup 3. Enchiladas 4. Spaghetti sauce and meatballs 5. Quiche 6. BBQ chicken Side dishes: 1. Sweet potato casserole (from Thanksgiving) to serve with kielbasa 2. Stuff

Perky Pinecones

This is a really silly post today. I'm not even sure if anyone cares about this tip but it saved the day for me this week. I had decided to make pine cone bird feeders with my preschool students. Of course, I hadn't prepared the supplies ahead of time so I was scrambling to get them ready in the morning. When I went out into my yard to pick up pine cones , I discovered they were all closed up due to constant rain in our area. What's a girl to do? Microwave them!! I put 5 at a time into the microwave. I put them in between 2 sheets of paper towels. After 2 minutes on high this is what they look like. After 2 additional minutes this is what they looked like. I stuffed the pine cones into a bag and went on my way. **To make pine cone bird feeders , spread peanut butter, shortening, or lard on the pine cones . Sprinkle birdseed heavily onto it. Wrap yarn or twine around the fat end and hang on a tree. Enjoy watching the birds (and maybe a