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Friday, November 30, 2012

Hand-Painted Christmas Ornaments

The year before last, my son made the coolest Christmas ornament in his fourth grade class, one that earned a prime spot on our family Christmas tree. I asked him how they made it, but he didn't seem to remember the details. Go figure; he was nine at the time. Well, the following Christmas, I decided to duplicate this ornament as a fun activity since the kids were getting out of school an entire week before Christmas. I bought a 20-pack of clear glass balls, smaller than the one he used though. Mine were about 1 5/8" in diameter as opposed to the 2 1/2" glass ball he had made. I also purchased bottles of acrylic paint in snow white, cherry red, and evergreen. For hooks, we used either some red and green plastic-covered paperclips or the brass-colored hangers we use on our tree. Of course, we could have tied a pretty bow at the top as a nice touch.

This ornament would make a great craft for students at their school's holiday party, scouts, or just playmates over for the day, and they make such neat presents for family members. I love how mess-free they can be, depending on the age of the children and the number of adults helping. My boys were able to do theirs with very little assistance at ages 6 and up. My two-year-old daughter needed tons of assistance. Okay, so she only thought she was doing anything as she helped me hold the paint bottle. My 5-year-old nephew needed help to ensure he didn't pour too much paint and needed some extra cleaning up on his fingers throughout the project, so hopefully this information will help you determine if this project would be right for your group. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cookie Recipe Exchange: Week 2

Welcome to the Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap...Blog Hop
(really it's a linky party)

(All these adorable graphics are done by Smitten Blog Designs)

Join us for all FOUR weeks of cookie features, recipes, and linky parties.

Here is the line up:

Sweet Boutique    November 20
The Domesticated Princess    November 27
Living, Loving, Crafting    December 11

Make sure you come back each week for a great new cookie recipe, plus each blog will be featuring their own favorite cookie links from the party!

This particular recipe took a bit of coaxing from my sweet husband to get it. It's one of my mom's recipes she makes every Christmas, and everyone loves it, so, of course, she was slow to part with it. However, I take after my dad when it comes to sharing and believe that if you have something worth sharing, you should share it. This recipe is definitely worth sharing!


Friday, November 23, 2012

From T-Shirt to Treasure: Part 5

Well, we are at the last part of my five-part series already, but that's okay because I am co-hosting a fantastic five-week series that just began this past Tuesday, which is a Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap. If you have blogged about a cookie recipe you want to share or simply need new recipes to try for the holidays, please stop by every Tuesday through December 18th. 

However, let's not get into Christmas yet. We still have one more t-shirt topic to cover. Over the past five weeks, I've shared with you 30 ways to re-purpose t-shirts and showed you five ways I've worked with t-shirts as well. Today, I am revealing five projects I've actually tried over the past month from those 30. Yup, I've been busy. Here they are...

Happy Black Friday!

If you are like me, you love a bargain but hate the crowds associated with Black Friday shopping. Even if I wanted to go out, I couldn't because my husband works on Black Fridays, so no bargain is good enough to go shopping with my four kids on the busiest shopping day of the year. Instead, I love searching for online bargains. Here are a few you may enjoy...

Do you use your Facebook page or Instragram to catalog your family's life? If so, this would make a wonderful holiday present for family members or even yourself. After all, we deserve to treat ourselves every once in a while too!

With just a few clicks, Blurb puts your favorite Facebook or Instragram pictures into a cute photo book and gives you an instant snapshot of your life. These Small Square (7x7") books start at $10.95  for a 20-page softcover, but to get a $10 discount just input the code: INSTACHEER. The offer expires Dec 16th at 11.59pm.  Just click on one of the two images above for more information!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tips for Your Family's Holiday Cards

I know we haven't celebrated Thanksgiving yet, but have you started to think about photographing and ordering your holiday cards? Snapping dozens of pictures of my children each November in hopes of capturing that perfect photograph has become a holiday tradition for us. I like to change up the types of clothes, the poses, and the locations from year to year, sometimes showcasing different parts of our house or Christmas decor but always showing our children in all their silly sweetness. 

After finally capturing that perfect picture, who do you use to print high quality cards to share with friends and family? I will admit that I've used several different companies over the past 10 years, and a few have left me disappointed in the lack of variety or the quality of the finished product.   

 Then I discovered and their wonderful line of holiday and Christmas cards. What I love about's cards are their high quality and amazing variety. What I love about their website is the ease of designing your own personalized card. Picking the perfect card was easy. Since I knew my children were wearing red and black in their Christmas photo this year, I was able to do a search by color. I loved that! No more wasting time searching through cards that clash with your photograph.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap: Week 1

Welcome to the Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap...Blog Hop
(really it's a linky party)

(All these adorable graphics are done by Smitten Blog Designs)

Join us for all FOUR weeks of cookie features, recipes, and linky parties.

Here is the line up:

Sweet Boutique    November 20
The Domesticated Princess    November 27
Michelle's Tasty Treats    December 4
Living, Loving, Crafting    December 11

Make sure you come back each week for a great new cookie recipe, plus each blog will be featuring their own favorite cookie links from the party!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap Linky Party

(all of the adorable graphic artwork is from Smitten Blog) 
Get your ovens warmed up and your mixers's time to bake.

Join us for FIVE weeks of cookie features, recipes, and linky parties!

The holidays are right around the corner, and I can already smell the cookies baking in the oven.  Be ready for all your cookie exchanges,  baking parties,  and holiday gifts with our big, huge Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap.  Find all the great recipes you'll need for the holidays right here!

Sweet Boutique       November 20th

Hi my name is Stephanie from Sweet Boutique.  I have a passion for baking, sweet treats, and parties!  I will be sharing my favorite sugar cookie recipe with you, great for any holiday or occasion.

The Domesticated Princess
November 27th

Hello! I'm Bonny from where I share recipes, craft projects, sewing tutorials, and a few personal stories as a mom of four silly but sweet children. I'm looking forward to sharing my mom's Pecan Snowball Cookie recipe, which is always a hit at holiday parties.

Michelle's Tasty Creations        Dec. 4th
Hi!  I'm Michelle from Michelle's Tasty Creations.  My passion is to cook, bake and occasionally share some crafts.  I also love to host parties and have family gatherings!  I'm looking forward to sharing my famous Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies with you.  The most requested cookie for the holiday season.

The Face Behind LLCLiving, Loving, Crafting
December 11th 

I'm Jeannie from I love staying home with my twin boys and I live to be creative. I will always find time to do something crafty!

We hope you'll spread the word by grabbing our button for your blog. We'll see you on Tuesday! 

From T-Shirt to Treasure: Part 4

Part 4: My T-Shirt Projects

During week 1, we looked at re-purposing t-shirt scraps into a variety of items to wear or use. Week 2 focused on ways to rework t-shirts into even more appealing fashion. During week 3, I showed you ways to showcase t-shirts, so we've looked at 30 different ways to use t-shirts from 30 different bloggers. Well, this week, I am going to focus on my past works as well as give you a new one. Unfortunately, I haven't created 10 different items out of t-shirts, but I do have five past ones and a new one too. I hope you'll enjoy revisiting some of my favorite posts, all pertaining to re-purposing t-shirts. You'll see the first four would have fit well in my second week as ways to re-fashion plain t-shirts while the fifth would fit well in week one. Then you'll get to learn a trick that would have fit well in my third week for showcasing t-shirts. 

I got the idea of this summer top from a picture in a magazine. It's a fun way to take a boring t-shirt and turn it into something trendy for summertime. Well, since it's November, I guess you will have about five months to make your own! 

This is still one of my favorite dresses I made for my daughter this summer. It also prompted my two-tiered candy corn dress, which she wore this fall. Actually, we've had such a warm fall that she's still wearing both even though they are tank-tops. Yes, I know this is supposed to be about t-shirts, but why not make one of these tiered dresses with a t-shirt instead of a tank?

I have made two of these sundresses for my daughter and plan to make more now that her oldest brother is in middle school and has a lot of elementary school t-shirts he is no longer interested in wearing. She loves them, and I think they are a fun way to include her in school spirit days. After all, we are up at the school very frequently since I am the yearbook coordinator and photograph many school events.

I'm not joking when I admit that appliques are my latest addiction. After making these two, I've picked out shirts and fabric scraps for several more projects. They are easy, inexpensive, and just so darn cute! 

This was an easy project for using up two worn out t-shirts. In fact, you'll see more scrap parts of this navy t-shirt next week, and I've saved another portion of it for a future project. Now that's getting good use out of a hole-ridden t-shirt, and thankfully, we've only had to use this ice pack and cover once more since I posted that tutorial.

DIY Ice Pack and Cover

So these are the five ways I've already turned t-shirts into something new, but I have one more to share today. I created this project about a week ago, after being motivated by Sharon's wall art. I was fully planning on going out and buying some foam, but then I remembered we had an assortment of plastic frames we used to have hanging in our gameroom to display our children's artwork. When my husband painted the room, we just never got around to hanging the pictures back up, so they eventually got put out of the way.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sewing Advice Circa 1940s

When a friend shared this picture with me, I loved it! Even though I'm grateful to live in today's generation because I enjoy technology, a part of me is fascinated by my grandparent's generation, of a life when we weren't distracted by the internet, hundreds of television channels, and phones that never leave our side and allow us to receive calls and texts everywhere we go.

The Internet wasn't commonplace until I was in graduate school. The high school where I taught got computers and internet access for every classroom my fifth year teaching there, and no students had cell phones. I got my first one my senior year in high school, but it was a car phone that had to be plugged into the cigarette lighter to work. I remember getting cable television in elementary school, but before that, we had six channels. We could only watch cartoons about an hour before school, for about an hour after, and on Saturday mornings. In reality, even my childhood seemed like another lifetime without today's necessities. While I managed to get through high school and even undergraduate school without the internet for research, I can't imagine life without it now. Nor would I want to go back, but I'm still very intrigued by those earlier days, mainly because of the standards placed upon women.
When I was a freshman in college, one of the lounges in my dorm was being
remodeled. We found a handbook from the 1960s. In it were rules of behavior and dress. Women were to wear skirts or dresses. Women had curfews and were not allowed to have men in the dormitories. Women had to get permission from their dorm monitors to travel out of town. There were many other rules that surprised me too. Boy how life has changed in fifty years.
The thought that a sewing manual would include such recommendations seems crazy to us. I'm thinking Singer boycotts would be prominent if sewing machine owners found such advice printed with today's manuals.  If I had lived during this era, I would have never been able to get any sewing done. Would you? I'd love to hear your comments concerning this.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Shrimp and Veggie Pasta

When I was first married, I had very little cooking experience. In college, I was proud of myself for cooking ground beef and heating frozen veggies. Whenever I found a recipe at the grocery store whether it was a freebie card, I tried it. This particular recipe has stood the test of time as one of my favorites once I tweaked it a bit. It originally came from a grocery store that no longer exists, and with a few ingredient additions and some portion adjustments, I've come up with a dish my family loves. It has seemed to make it onto our Weekly Menu Planner quite regularly in fact. I've made it to impress friends and extended family as well. It's that yummy, and the best part is, it's fairly easy, so let's get started. Shall we?


1 lb. box of bow tie pasta
1/4 cup margarine or butter
1 Tbsp of minced garlic
2 lbs. of medium shrimp (raw, shelled, and deveined)
2 six-ounce jars of sliced mushrooms (undrained)
1 bag of frozen green beans (enough for 4-6 servings)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta as directed on box.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet and add garlic. Saute for one minute over medium heat.
3. Cook shrimp on medium high heat for three minutes or until fully cooked.
4. Add mushrooms, green beans and chicken broth and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring regularly.
5. Drain pasta and place in large pasta dish. Toss with cheese to melt. Then add in shrimp, veggies, and sauce and toss.

This dish is best when served fresh, so if you choose to make it while entertaining, be prepared to have your guests visiting with you in the kitchen. It serves eight, and it reheats well for leftovers, which we have for our family of six, but I'm guessing in a couple years, we won't. 


I'll be sharing this post at some of these parties here or here.     


Friday, November 9, 2012

Facebook Follow Fest

Today, I have a guest post from my bloggy friend Rosie at Craftbotic. She's one of the busiest bloggers I know, and she's created her own Facebook page for her blog, so she's asked a few of us to co-host an exciting event: Facebook Follow Fest, which is starting today! If you are wondering about my third post in my five-part series about re-purposing t-shirts, it's still here. I posted it at midnight, so you can find it under this post, but for all you bloggers, be sure to check out Rosie's post below and join our party!      


To celebrate my new Facebook page and to help me reach my Resolutions in Motion goal, I am holding a one off Facebook Follow Fest. Who better to link up with, than with some of the first lovely bloggers, and friends to press that like button?
The Rules
1. Link up your Facebook page for your blog.
2. Like your host's page (I will come and Like yours back)
3. Like the co-hosts below (Yup...then they'll Like you back too)
4. Grab a button or tweet and spread the word!

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Craftbotic" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Craftbotic" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

You  are now all set to link up!

Don't forget there is a lot going on at Craftbotic at the moment. Have you entered my massive 500 GFC follower giveaway? There are 46 prizes up for grabs.

Blog Angels sign up starts on the 10th November. Feel like some extra festive giving? Then this project could be for you.

AND I'm working with Anja @ Cocalores again in December to bring you a Christmas gift link up. Are you crafty, an artist, or cook - then link up gift tutorials from 1st December.

I hope to see you again soon. 


From T-Shirt to Treasure: Part 3

Part 3: Re-Purposing Sentimental T-Shirts

While week one we re-purposed worn out t-shirts and week two we re-designed plain t-shirts, this week, we are going to focus on re-purposing special t-shirts that we don't wear any more but want to save for sentimental reasons. Some of these bloggers went beyond the obvious of framing a t-shirt, but even those who framed them came up with some clever methods. My boys have played soccer, baseball, and football, so we have a minimum of 18 jerseys that my husband wants us to save and showcase somehow. However, we will easily collect at least a dozen more before our kids graduate, so determining the best way to showcase these special keepsakes is a challenge. And we also have some of our children's clothes that we simply couldn't part with because they are tied to special memories. While certain ones we wouldn't even consider cutting, we have a few onesies and t-shirts that we'd be willing to cut up to preserve and showcase. Perhaps one of these ideas will work:

This seems like the ideal way to save shirts with special meanings, whether its a school t-shirt from field day or even one that was your toddler's childhood favorite.  

Framed T-shirt Logo

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Our First Applique and Cooking with and for Friends

My BFF and I decided on our next sewing project when I found this adorable turkey applique by Shy By Design on pinterest and immediately wanted to make shirts for our girls. She includes the cute turkey template but not step-by-step instructions for novice sewers. Since this was the first time either of us were sewing an applique, we spent some time searching for tutorials. We didn't want to waste time and money on something that couldn't withstand the washing machine. Ruby in the Dust has a sweet tutorial for appliques, making a cute bunny head, so if you've never done one, I recommend visiting her post here. We also visited Paige and Brooke because I found her turkey applique shirt on pinterest and wanted another reference on turkeys. 

We decided to split our craft day between this project and cooking. Sadly, one of our MOPS friends has a four-year-old son who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. We wanted to cook some freezer meals for her and another family who also has a family member with cancer to have on hand. The week before, we picked three recipes: beef and cheese enchiladas, a chicken and rice casserole, and a pizza soup recipe I will share in the future because it was sooo easy and smells sooo yummy. 

It took us less than three hours to make a dozen dinners! It was much more fun cooking alongside a friend on a casual Monday morning rather than by myself during a stressful evening. We plan to do it again every other month. We ended up with three meals for each of our own families and six to give to others. My family ate the chicken casserole that night and will be eating the enchiladas tonight. I love it! If you've never done mass freezer meal cooking, I highly recommend it. In this instance, we could make four servings of soup but only dirty up one large pot, and by cooking four pounds of ground beef at once as opposed to over four different nights, we saved not just cleaning-up time in washing only one pan once but in cooking time. And we worked together to create our three-meal menu, so now I have a new recipe added to my collection and my BFF has two. There are seriously so many benefits to cooking this way. 

Once our meals were finished and put into their disposable pans and freezer bags and after the kitchen was cleaned, we were able to focus on our turkey projects. I bought our shirts at Wal-Mart for just under $4 and had been to JoAnn's already and bought three fat quarters of fabric for 99 cents each during a sale, and we decided to use leftover fabric from the pillowcase dresses we made this past summer as well as our candy corn dress from the fall. I also had a package of Steam-A-Seam2, which is a double stick fusible web I had bought from Hobby Lobby for about $5 a while ago in hopes of learning how to sew on appliques. Using the instructions on that package along with referencing the blogs above, we were able to create three adorable shirts very easily. There are a lot of sheets of fusible web in this packet, and we only used about 1 1/2 for this project, so we have lots of material for future appliques, which will greatly reduce the overall cost of this particular project, but even if we never use any of the left-over material, these three shirts cost less than $7 each.

The appliques were ironed on, which according to several blogs, would be enough, but we wanted to stitch around the edges to ensure the appliques would hold up in the wash. However, it was time for my BFF to pick up her daughter from preschool. On my own, I decided to sew the turkey's body with the zig zag stitch that most closely resembles embroidery on my machine. I then went around the beak and feathers with a straight stitch, figuring if the feathers frayed, it would just look like fluffy feathers.  It was my first attempt, but despite the flaw at the bottom of the turkey and a less than perfectly straight stitch on the beak, I'm pleased. As long as no one leans in too close to look at my daughter's belly, they won't notice, right?

The next day, my daughter happily wore her new turkey shirt, and I was pleased with how it turned out. That evening, I realized it was time to go through her drawers and pull out the summer clothes and other items she had outgrown. I found her blue onesie she wore for the Fourth of July with her patriotic tutu that was a size 24 mos. It would be perfect for one of my one-year-old nephews. I had some matching fabric and found this cute necktie onesie tutorial and created a quick little outfit. I'm really loving this applique process! Even though I decided to stitch around the turkey, I saw in this tutorial that I could fold over the edges of the tie to ensure it wouldn't fray, so I gave that a try and also sewed a straight stitch around it to create a finished look. I got the fat quarter on sale for $0.75 a while ago and used just a small portion of it, so I made this cute little outfit for almost nothing.

Now that I feel confident with appliques, I plan on using them a lot more. In fact, the next project my BFF and I plan on making is an adorable Christmas t-shirt dress complete with a Christmas-themed applique. We still need to pick a date for that project, but I promise to have a detailed tutorial on that creation!   

UPDATE: My daughter has worn her turkey shirt twice already, and the turkey has held up very well in the washing machine each time. I wash it inside out and let it air dry.

I'll be sharing this post at some of these parties here.
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