Saturday, January 29, 2011

Easy Crockpot Beef Stew

It is officially soup weather in our house!

I recently tried beef stew for the first time. Click here for the recipe I used. I added a good dose of fajita seasoning to the final product, so I would recommend seasoning when placing all of the other items in the crockpot. This one was easy and tasty.
We make soup 2-3 times per week for dinner. It works perfectly as a freezer meal the following week. We cook it all, eat half and freeze the second half.

Here are a few more of my favorite soups:

Weight Watchers Taco Soup

Sausage and Tortellini Soup (I don't do the cole slaw!)

Stay Warm!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday's Foot Fetish: Rain Shoes

I am not a boots girl, but on cold and rainy days I always wish I had the right shoes! These rain clogs by Hunter are perfect!
Check out all of Hunter's selection of rainboots here- they have every color you can imagine.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Love: Erin Condren

I love the start of a new year- it means a new calendar on the refrigerator, on my wall and it used to mean in my purse. My phone does a lot of that for me now, but I am still a sucker for a cute planner. So, after reading Centsational Girls post about planners, I went over to Erin Condren's site and fell in love!

Here are some of my favorites, go check it out for yourself!

This would make a great menu planner on my fridge!
Cute and simple planner- could even work for a busy male in your life.
How cute are these sets- notecard, envelope, return labels all in one!

I love long notepads like this, great for list making!

This is a practice pad for the little ones learning to write. So much cuter than the thin cardboard colored paper I grew up with.

Shipping labels- love these! They are $23 for only $30. What an impression your package would make!
Canvas growth chart- so much better than the childish ones I've seen other places.
Happy Shopping!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Free Valentine's Day Digital Cards

I love when a new holiday rolls around because it gives me an opportunity to play with new digital scrapbooking sets. With Valentine's Day just a few weeks away, I whipped up 3 cards for my chickadees!

The Heartbreaker (good for boys!)
My Valentine
Shabby Sweetheart
If you would like me to make you a personalized card, please do the following:

Become a follower. I'd love to have you back :)

Email me at with your card choice, the photo you'd like me to include and the name for the card.

All cards are sized as a 4x6 and can be printed like a standard photo at your local drugstore, Shutterfly, the grocery store, etc. Mail them to grandparents. Give them out to friends. Blog them. (If you blog a card, I'd love credit. Just include a link to me.)


Digital sets from here, here and here

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday's Foot Fetish: Pretty Pink Princess' Shoes

I call my 2 year old my pretty princess and these are prefect pretty princess shoes! She was under the weather one day this week, so I bought her shoes. It works as good as medicine, right?
Daviana from Target

I love Target shoes for her! Here are a few other favorites:

Jayca in purple and navy

Jayreen in beaded bright colors

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Decorating Dilemma in the Entry

Do you have a room that isn't put together yet and you've lived in your home for 2 plus years? Yea, me too. Unfortunately that room was my entryway and large entry hall. Not so private!

The problem is that my entry is more than 5 feet wide and it is the length of about half of my house. It cuts the front of the house in half. With 10 foot ceilings and 3 archways, it is massive. Our former house had a small narrow entry and a stairwell, so this space has been a work in progress. Here it is in my Christmas 2009 post and pretty much the way it has looked until this past week. I am pretty happy with recent changes made in this space, so come take a look!
Standing in the hall looking back at the front door
This cut out is to the left of the front door. I painted it a little darker about a year ago and it has always housed my silver crosses. With recent more rustic changes to the space, I switched out the silver with the more brown, red, copper crosses. I like them so much more against the wall color.
Just opposite the cross wall is my red table from my favorite antique store in nearby Georgetown and a collection of family photos. This past week I finally added my 2 year old to the collage. With digital everything, I hadn't printed pictures in ages!
Just past this red table, the wall slants and that space is home to my grandmother's singer sewing table that I refinished years ago.
I added a new family picture above the table. I had placed a baby picture of Abby in this frame in the guest bedroom, but it works so much better here with our new truck pictures taken this fall.

When the hall straightens back out, there is a double entry into my husband's office and my very first antique purchase, a red cabinet with metal stars detail. I added the metal star above the cabinet and kept it simple with a big ivy. Plants do really well in this space, lots of indirect light. The closed doors you see are the powder room and laundry room.
A look into the living room from the red cabinet...
On the wall opposite my husband's office is my new antique dresser. I had my childhood piano in this space and recently sold it and purchased this piece. I wanted more storage and hadn't played the piano since junior high.
This wall is 10 feet high and about 10 feet long. It is a project! I moved my shelves around, added new art and still want to do more. I think I want another black shelf below these two and want some piece of tall skinny art (dreaming of an old door!) to the left of the dresser.
The dresser is perfect for storing linens since this room is just outside the formal dining room. I have tablecloths, runners and place mats in there. That handsome man in uniform on top is my Daddy :)
I liked the price (only $120!) and the detail on this dresser. The previous owner did a great job roughing it up for me. I didn't do a thing to it.
Thanks for touring my newly improved entry!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Few "Love"ly Items

Like many people, the post-Christmas mantle is much lighter and cleaner than the Christmas mantle. It always amazes me how empty the house looks after Christmas and how much I like that.

I have very minimal Valentine's decorations. Since it falls after Christmas when I am keeping things light and I'm not a big heart person so that eliminates a lot of options :)
I do love pulling out my angel each year. She was part of the garden decor from Hobby Lobby many years ago. My first gift from my husband (then boyfriend) was a cherub poster, so she also reminds me of those early days of falling in love! In the green glass jar, I held a candle in place with red hots! I bought many a bag a few years ago and just store them each year. Candy in bulk gets expensive. If you stop by, don't eat the candy!

I bought these vintage Valentine cards last year for 99 cents at an antique store and this year I framed them with scrapbook paper behind the card. Cheap and easy look!
My new banner is from Etsy. My friend has bought a few different items from Blue Moon Creations and they were just beautiful. This one is super sturdy with lots of little details. The red zig zag on the polka dot paper is the real deal- thread! I love it!
I placed a few more items in the dining room including my red felt heart banner from Home Goods. Oh how I wish I had a Home Goods near me. We have one in Austin, but it is more than 30 minutes away. Come closer!
Along with a picture from Valentine's last year, I arranged 2 inexpensive melamine plates from Target and more "vintage" candy in a jar.
I'd like a few more "love"ly items for my home this year. Fingers crossed I can find exactly what I am looking for and that I figure out just what that is!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Milk and Cookies Party: Crafts

I did a couple of simple crafts for the milk and cookies party last weekend. The focus was the food, so we didn't want to have too many additional distractions.

I made a front door wreath that was very easy and inexpensive.
Here are the supplies- a straw wreath, 8 yards of ribbon (I only had 6 of the blue and added 2 of the tan), accent ribbon, felt cookies, and the number 2 (wooden, painted brown).
The joy of using the straw wreath is that I attached the ribbon was straight pins. No need to use glue, this keeps it in place but also allows you to remove the ribbon afterward and reuse it. I wrapped the ribbon around the wreath and secured it with pins on the back side in 4 spread out places. After wrapping the chocolate brown accent ribbon, it was time to attach the #2 and the cookies.
I also attached the cookies using the pins. The dark head matched the chocolate chip and made it easy to attach. I attached the wooden #2 with E-6000 and hung it on the door with ribbon. For a different type of front door wreath, see Abby's 1st birthday entry decor.
My Mom and I made 5 dozen felt cookies for the kids to decorate. We decorated an additional 1 dozen for the party. These were super simple to make.
I grabbed a variety of sizes of jar lids from my kitchen and used them as my cookies. We then cut felt in ivory, tan, and brown in sets of 2. You can get about 6 circles or 3 cookies out of each 20 cent piece of felt. Using a simple needle and thread, we sewed each cookies about 75% and then stuffed it with a handful of batting and sewed it shut.
I bought felt glue at Hobby Lobby for the kids to use and placed all of the cookie accessories in an old muffin tin spray painted blue. The cookie extras included icing, cut a little smaller than the cookie, colored M&Ms cut in circles, dark and white chocolate chips cut as small squares.

The kids had fun decorating their fake cookies and my sister took all of the leftovers to her preschool class for the kids there to enjoy.

Thanks for coming to our milk and cookies party. I hope you found some ideas to inspire your next event!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Milk and Cookies Party: Food with Recipes

A milk and cookies party has to be all about the food! I tried to create a soda shop look from many years ago and keep things homemade and simple.

For the milk, I purchased replica vintage milk bottles from Crate and Barrel. They were placed in this white metal 6 pack carrier from Target's summer line. We had organic whole milk, fat free milk and 2% milk. To make it fun, we had 4 different types of straws and chocolate, caramel, or strawberry syrup to flavor up the milk.

We also had lemonade and bottled water. I covered the bottled water labels with matching #2 labels. They are super easy- just measure the height and length around your bottle's label and design something for it you like. I printed 5 per sheet on a color copier and taped them onto the bottles.

Let's talk cookies.... I had about 400 of them for this party! We had about 50 people. Since they were the main food, they were set up like a buffet and we had to go boxes, I did not want to run out. We only ran out of 1 cookie... you'll see why! In total, we had 12 different types of cookies. I made 10 of them and had my friend (a tasty baker on the side) make 2 of the cookies I didn't think I could do well.

Kelly made the cute blue sprinkled #2 cookies. I am certain my 2 year old ate her fair share of these. Great for the kids.

Kelly also made red velvet whoopie pies. These were decadent!

To pull off 10 different types of cookies in 2 days, I made a mix of my favorites, premade doughs and new recipes from the internet. Nothing was complex. I just looked around and starting bookmarking recipes I liked a few months out. When it came time to narrow it down, I focused on the variety I wanted- nuts vs. no nuts, chocolate, colorful, etc.

Here is the mix:

Fudge Crinkles- super easy, tasty, simple!
The contrast of powdered sugar on the dark chocolate is pretty. I would not make these ahead of time- the powder sugar gets sticky at day 2.

Homemade Oreos- these were the best and we ran out quickly. The recipe made 2 dozen, so I think lots of people missed out. I'll make these again!

Lemon Sugar Snaps- I looked high and low for a lemon cookie and these did not disappoint. I have eaten my fair share of leftovers of these. Note, I couldn't find lemon cake mix with pudding and the non-pudding version worked just fine.

Caramel Chocolate Cookies- these are pretty and appear much more complex than they are. Hiding a Rolo inside a chocolate cookie is genius!

For the classic chocolate chip cookie, I made the mini cookies from Nestle Tollhouse dough. I thought I couldn't go without the staple cookie, but wanted them small since people would be trying other things.

same thing here... standard peanut butter mix from the grocery store. These are the one cookie I'd like to go back and bake. They were a little crispy.

Grasshoppers- a new family favorite! I wanted to have Thin Mints at the party, but the Girl Scouts aren't selling cookies just yet. These will work whenever Thin Mints aren't within reach.

Ranger Cookies- a good number of people didn't know what a Ranger cookie was. They are one of my favorites because they are filled with so much stuff- nuts, cornflakes, coconut, raisins, and oats. They also make about 5 dozen because of all the stuff inside!

Our local grocery store has an organic cookie dough line and they make Cranberry Walnut cookie dough. Abby loves dried cranberries so I added these in for her. Then I remember she has a nut allergy! We enjoyed them for her!

Finally, I made the Oatmeal Raisin cookies from the Quaker Oats container. You can't go wrong, that recipe must be 100 years old.

Since it was early January and many people resolved to eat better in the new year, we also had a large veggie tray with dip and a meat, cheese, cracker tray. Both were wiped out so I think they were a good balance to the sweet cookies.

I baked for this party with love, but I am also in no mood to bake for quite a while. I had powdered sugar everywhere for 2 days!