Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentine Yarn Wreath DIY

I have seen some cute wreaths on Pinterest and etsy lately and wanted to make sometime for my door for Valentine's Day. I was ultimately inspired most by this wreath and this one.

So I ventured to Hobby Lobby and bought an inexpensive wreath form, some yarn and felt. I bought two pieces, but only used one. In total, supplies were around $10. Did you know that you can pull up the 40% off coupon on your phone and they'll accept it! Love that!

I started by tucking the tail of the yarn sideways on the wreath and then began the long and tedious process of wrapping the whole wreath.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pink and Blue Girls Room

My daughter recently turned three and we decided she was ready for a twin bed! We wanted her toddler room to be fun, colorful and full of life. I love the way it turned out- take a tour with me!

Her nursery had blue walls with clouds and flowers. We didn't want to paint, so we left the blue walls and the clouds and just painted over the flowers. That meant that I needed to find bedding with blue in it. Since her nursery was primary colors, I wanted to use more pink this time around. I found her bedding on Pottery Barn Kids on clearance over a year ago. I just stored it away awaiting her being ready for a twin bed.

Her actual bed is from here. We have the queen version in our guest room- it is a great deal. I kept it white, but really debated painting it hot pink. I really wanted the footboard also, but the cost of a twin mattress and box springs shocked me and took up more of my budget that I had wanted!

Since I didn't buy the footboard, I was able to splurge on the pink shag rug and the pink tulle bedskirt from Target. Have you seen the pink tulle bedskirt on Pottery Barn Kids? It is beautiful and expensive!

Her PBK anywhere chair from her first Easter sits nicely in her room now and gives her a place to read. The little birdie on the chair was lovingly made by my Mom and I. It matches the oblong birdie pillow on her bed. I used yellow chenille, pink scraps from her curtains, and a blue small dotted fabric I found online years ago. We had planned to make a bedskirt from the blue fabric, but I fell in love with the tulle.

Her sweet little mirrored nightstand next to her bed is also from Target. It houses a recent family photo and her special Ok to Wake alarm clock. This thing is a life saver! I love the little drawer on the nightstand- it stores all of her silly bands and finger puppets :)

Above her bed are two shelves we installed before she was born. I am still working on what arrangement I like on these. She likes to take things off the bottom shelf!

At the foot of her bed is her books, bird cage, hooks for her hats and baby bed. I tried to bring in a litlte yellow in her room because of the large yellow chenille recliner we own. But, in the end, the yellow chair took up too much room and we took it out of the room.

The birdcage is from Hobby Lobby and I painted it pink and hung a small stuffed birdie inside. I made the subway art in the yellow frame. I saw a couple of etsy I liked and decided I could do it myself. Easiest project- fun fonts, cool colors and a color printer later!

Her art is very personalized- it is all the things we work on with her daily. She hears these things hourly :)

Across the room is her big Hemnes dresser from IKEA, her fish Dorothy, music player, and her collection of hair bows on a dress form. The "Abby Lu" artwork is from Small Words. Her work is amazing and she  opens her shop for like 24 hours once a year and then takes about 125 orders before closing it again. I was like #15 because I had stalked her site, Facebook and Twitter!

Her birdie decal is now sprouting from her toys. I wish I had a better way to organize her toys. There are so many small parts and they don't sort well. It drives me a little crazy. I think this with baskets would be a great piece for many years ( toys, then pictures, trophies, yearbooks, etc.).  One day!

Thanks for touring Abby Lu's new room!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I saw this picture and recipe for Carmelitas and I had to make them. I thought about them for days, looked at them on Pinterest, and even dreamt about them. And, then I made them.

And, they are divine. The gooey caramel in the center is perfection!

A couple of tips- this makes an 8x8 pan which seems small; however, these are rich and you eat a fudge sized bite rather than a brownie sized bite. Also, they take forever to cool. I would put them in the refrigerator and think it would be best to make them overnight. If you cut them too early, the caramel center is still liquid and comes out. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011 Scrapbook

I ordered my 2011 scrapbook on January 11th and it is on it's way to me! This is my second year to do a digital scrapbook (here is 2010) and I love it! The colors are bold, pages are shiny, and it all looks so professional! 
Here are a few of my favorite pages- I love the vacation pages, but the everyday ones of my daughter make me smile the most. I know I'll look back and be amazed at how small she was!

I use Scrapbook Factory Deluxe to make my pages. It is easier to learn and much less expensive that photo editing software. I use the same software to create blog designs, notepads, stationary, and much more!

The family photos were taken at Picture People. I love red and black together... it may have something to do with my alma mater, Texas Tech University!

I buy most of my digital kits from Sweet Shoppe Designs. They have new releases on sale every Saturday and I look through them and try to plan ahead. I don't end up buying many kits when doing my book since I have them year round. I currently own over 100 kits. 

I normally have about half the year done come December and then I get motivated to finish out the year! I have about 80 pages each year- 40 doubles if you will. I print them via Shutterfly and try to get it done in early January when they run 40% off their books. It makes a big difference!

If you are interested in getting started with digital scrapbooking, I can not recommend it enough. I have been doing it for 5 years and just love it. It doesn't make a mess, travels well, and once you buy a kit you can use it repeatedly. It is not like a sticker that can only be used once.

Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have any questions!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Annual Blessing Ring

I have always wondered what is the best way to store my Christmas cards and any sweet notes I receive throughout the year. Last year, I placed many of them in an album, but I didn't like the finished product and cards with photos on the inside or back were lost in the book. I think I found the right answer... a blessing ring.

Blessing rings are common for major occasions- 40th birthday, wedding, baby showers, etc. but I decided to make a ring for each year. This would include all of the cards I receive during the year- birth announcements, birthday cards, Mother's Day, etc. and would end with Christmas cards. I would make our Christmas cards the first card on the ring annually.

This is the basic ring you purchase- $1.47 at Hobby Lobby in the jewelry aisle. Super inexpensive.

Here is my 2011 ring with Christmas cards including ours on the front. I didn't do a good job saving cards during the year, but plan to in 2012. I also plan to add some various ribbons between layers of card just tied in simple knots with long tails to make the ring more fun.

I recommend buying a ring and a hole punch this month and keeping them handy. You can add cards as you receive them and stay organized!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sweet and Salty Salad (and a skinny version)

I love how blogging and Pinterest have made me a more creative cook. When I am looking for new recipes, I don't ever look in my cookbook cabinets, I go online and start playing around. One of my favorite bloggers, Erin from Blue Eyed Bride, shared this pineapple and pretzel salad on her blog in November, and I have craved it since. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dolls and Doughnuts Party Take Home Treats

Since we already had two activities at the party that included take home items, I made these little treat bags as a simple and inexpensive final take home for the kids. I placed them inside Abby's baby doll bed in keeping with the theme of the party and placed it on the table by my front door.

Inside the little baggies were "bacon and eggs" and donut seeds. I found both ideas via Pinterest! The donut seeds are simply cocoa Cheerios, which look like small donuts to a child. Genius!

Bacon and eggs are easy to make- you need pretzel sticks, vanilla candy melts and yellow M&Ms.

 Place three pretzels next to each other on a foil lined cookie sheet. Lay one vanilla melt on top of each threesome. Place the cookie sheet in a heated oven (I did 350) for less than 2 minutes. The vanilla will soften and you can press the M&M into the white melty candy. 

It takes about 20 minutes for the vanilla to harden again. Once it is cooled and hard, you can serve them or place them inside your goodie bags. I topped mine with cardstock designed to match the invites using A Dozen Reasons, found at Sweet Shoppe Designs. This is the digital kit I used for the invites and all of the party print outs. For snack size baggies, I have found that 7" wide by 3.25 inches tall is the best size.

For more Dolls and Doughnuts party details, click here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dolls and Doughnuts Party Activities

I am a big believer in having fun crafts for the guests to do at Abby Lu's birthday parties. You'll recall last year, they decorated felt cookies in keeping with the Milk and Cookies theme.

This year with her party being at breakfast and in jammies, I wanted activities that matched that theme. Ultimately, each of these were inspired by Pinterest, but had some adaptations as I thought about the age of our guests.

The two main crafts awaiting all of the guests were pillowcases to decorate and cereal necklaces to make. The necklaces were set up on Abby Lu's kid sized table in the middle of our living room. We had a big bucket of Fruit Loops and a small bucket of pink and blue curly ribbon cut into long enough pieces. The kids could sit and string the fruit loops onto the ribbon and then make a necklace or bracelet. I loved seeing kids walk around eating their creations!

The second activity allowed them to decorate pillowcases. I bought plain white pillowcases for very little on eBay. I then made two cardboard inserts from old boxes and put fabric markers in a bucket. The kids could color and decorate as they wanted with the markers. Not all kids made a pillowcase- the kids ages 5 and up seemed to most enjoy it. I want to pull it back out for Abby Lu to color one. She is always so proud to have her "art" on display!

I included a little take home instruction sheet for the parents to make sure the pillowcase art is sealed. I pulled this off the back of the fabric markers box.

The final activity provided the most fun for the adults and kids! We had the kids bob for doughnuts! We hung a dozen doughnuts via twine onto a string and hung them across the opening to the dining room.

Sweet Laura Mae was too short for this doughnut!

Once we said go, the kids went to town trying to eat their doughnut first without using their hands! It was hilarious and we all had our cameras and phones out to capture it!

Eventually we called it and let them grab the string and finish their doughnut! Hilarious fun!

If you decide to take on this activity, I would pre tie the twine onto your doughnuts the night before and then you can tie them quickly onto the string hanging on the wall. It made it quicker at the actual party!

For more Dolls and Doughnuts party ideas, click here and here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dolls and Doughnuts Party Foods and Recipes

When we decided to do a Dolls and Doughnuts party, I was most excited about breakfast foods. I love breakfast and brunch, so I knew it would be fun and easy!

Of course, a 9:30 am party needs coffee, milk and orange juice. We also had cold water with orange slices floating and this yummy banana punch.

I wanted a variety of sweets and protein for everyone. I also think it is important that kids' parties have foods that kids will eat and love. All this went into the menu for the party.

I found this recipe for Bacon and Egg Muffins on Pinterest. These were wonderful and super easy. Mine ended up being pretty dry, but I think it was because I made them the night before. I would recommend cooking them the morning of.

Every toddler I know loves mini pancakes. So, I made 2 boxes of them on a big cookie sheet in the oven. When done, I put three of them on a toothpick with a blueberry. This made the presentation better and easier for people to grab them. Depending upon your party colors, you could add a mint leaf, a raspberry, green grape, lots of options!

The party's fruit cups were displayed in these little baking cups. The had my blue, red and pink so I couldn't resist them. I had blueberries, mandarin oranges, bananas, apples and raspberries in the little cups.

Finally, we picked up sausage and cheese kolaches and doughnut holes from the neighborhood shop the morning of the party. We had about 40 people and I ordered 10 dozen doughnut holes. They were gone! It may have something to do with them being in reach of the birthday girl!

The final item on our menu was Jan's Gourmet Potatoes. Jan is the mother of a friend of mine and I heard she is famous for these potatoes. They were really good, but they did not end up being as much of a hashbrown casserole as I had expected. They were more like twice baked potatoes and actually tasted just like the baked potato casserole from a local bar-b-que restaurant. 

 Jan's Gourmet Potatoes

8 medium potatoes, boiled with skins on
2 c grated cheddar cheese
10 T butter
1-2 cups sour cream or half and half
1 onion, diced
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Boil potatoes until done. Let cool, peel and grate.

Saute onions in butter then add 1 cup of the sour cream or half and half, salt and pepper. Mix into the potatoes and add grated cheese. Pour into casserole dish. Add more half and half if needed to make the mixture moist. I used 2 full cups of half and half. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Indulge yourself and add a little more cheese on top during the last 5 minutes. 

This whole casserole can be made the night before and then baked. It would be great for Thanksgiving lunch.

Finally, we had birthday cake! I didn't want a traditional cake, so I did a giant rice krispies cake, found on Martha Stewart's website. You essentially make a big batch and then fill 2 8" round cake pans with the treat, saving a handful aside in tupperware. Once cooled, the cakes are removed from the pan and stacked on top of each other. The extra you saved can be used to fill in the holes from merging the two.

In keeping with the birthday theme, we added Trix on top with the number 3 and a border. It was an unexpected twist and fun for kids and grown ups alike.

To see more on the party, click here or here

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dolls and Doughnuts Party Decor

We celebrated Abby Lu's 3rd birthday this past weekend with about 20 of her friends from church, daycare, Mother's Day Out and children of my husband and my friends. The party was held at 9:30 in the morning at our home. You can see the invitation I designed and the paper goods selected for the party here.

Party planning is a labor of love. As a professional meeting planner, I don't get to do as much fun, creative, social planning as I would like. Kids birthday parties have quickly become my favorite!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Helpful Housekeeping via Pinterest

I have learned so many neat things on Pinterest! Here are two recent pins that I tried and am very grateful for:

Did you know that you can shred cooked chicken in your kitchen aid mixer? Just use the paddle on boiled chicken and it shreds in 20 seconds. Super quick and easy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dolls and Doughnuts Party Preview

My daughter's 3rd birthday party is this weekend. I truly love planning parties for her and have had her theme for almost a year! We are doing a breakfast party because I think that works well around nap schedules and I love brunch foods.

Abby loves her baby dolls right now and doughnuts are her favorite food- we have them most every Saturday morning. I thought sleepy headed kid pictures in their jammies would be fun!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Duggar's Homemade Laundry Detergent

I made my own batch of laundry detergent earlier this month. I have never felt so domestic! It smells great, I know exactly what is in it, and it is so much more economical. I posted on Facebook my new detergent and heard great reviews from friends that have used it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January Desktop

Happy 2012! 

Enjoy this month's desktop and good luck keeping your resolutions!