Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baby Day 2010

Alert the media...there is a new holiday on the calendar. Baby Day. Our fabulous six year old has designated January 30, 2010 as Baby Day.
Last Sunday, as we lay in bed in the wee hours of the morning we heard the pitter patter of feet heading down the steps. Then...silence....then....feet running back up the steps and into our room. Dear sweet Marsh Potato had run downstairs to check the calendar. He informed us that he wanted to designate a holiday in honor of his baby brother. January 16 was out, it was passed. January 23 was out, that had passed as well. January 30 it was. Baby Day, in honor of Clancey Dylan.
We were also informed that on Baby Day Clancey was to be allowed to do anything he wanted.
And cake shall be served.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Every Mantel Needs a Scarf

After the Christmas tidal wave was safely put away my thoughts turned to "after Christmas" decorating. Frankly this is the first time in 7 years (pre-children) that I've even given "decorating" ANY thoughts. I was lucky to run the vacuum and dust once a millenia. But now that they would rather rock out to Band Hero with their dad in the evening I have a few minutes to give these inconsequential things a little thought. I mean, when you think about things in the world on a broader scope, what I put on my mantel means less than nothing. BUT, I walk past it everyday, my children notice what's on it and my husband gives me a little nod when he likes what he in OUR little world these little touches make a difference. I guess it's good to keep it all in perspective...and have a little fun too.

On to the mantel scarf. Rag garlands are everywhere. Seems simple enough...long rope, scraps tied in knots around said rope, hang. Easy. Well, that is, after tying knots for what seems like a BAJILLION years. My mantel is now very warm and toasty until spring comes. :-)

Tip #1 : Use THIN strips

Tip #2 : Wear gloves (rope has little poky pieces that stick out and stab your already dry-as-the-Sahara-Iowa-Winter-skin.) FYI

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since becoming a mom (and before that, despite a brief love affair with B-Bops in college) I've tried to put things on the menu that are healthy and full of veggies. Neither of my kids have ever consumed pop, and french fries were just introduced in the last year when my six year old made an independent decision when ordering at a restaurant! We usually shock waitresses when he orders broccoli instead of fries. Love my little veggie eaters! Now don't get me wrong, I'm no food saint...I LOVE CHOCOLATE. It's my downfall. But lately I've even avoided that....sugar does BAD things to me.

BUT, I have kids! Kids deserve cookies fresh from the oven when they get home from school...I love that part of being a stay at home mom. I found this recipe, modified it a bit and hold onto your hats. THEY. ARE. AWESOME.

Whole wheat....zucchini....tiny bit of sugar....are you still with me? Lucky you! Now the best part....soft, chewy cookies with semi sweet chocolate chunks! I'm no expert, but I think these cookies might actually be good for you! At least that's the one I'm going with. My boys gobbled these down and I didn't even feel bad about it! This is a great recipe, and has inspired me to put zucchinis on my "to grow" list for this summer! Even if you don't think you like zucchini give these a try...they're wonderful!!

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium zucchini, grated (appx. 1 cup)
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks
1) Preheat oven to 350, spray cookie sheet.
2) Cream margarine and sugar til light and fluffy. Add egg, flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Add zucchini and chips. Mix well.
3) Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 min.
Makes 48 cookies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ornate Framed Mirror Turned CHALKBOARD!!!

Did you know I invented framed chalkboards? I did. What? You don't believe me? Okay, you got me...every crafty blog on the internet has featured a framed chalkboard. They're just SO AWESOME. Chalkboards are the greatest invention ever...well, that is, after Cadbury Cream Eggs...and caulk. So now that that's all cleared up, I saw this project last fall over at Mustard Seed Creations. An epiphany hit me.....I have a framed mirror JUST LIKE THAT ONE!!!! I found it at a yard sale three or four years ago and couldn't for the life of me decide where to put it, other than leaning against the wall in the basement. It seemed a little over the top if you know what I mean...but it was a dollar, so I knew someday it would find a home in our home. I wish I had a photo of my husband's face when I drug it across the street and back to the truck (he's my yard sale chauffeur, isn't he awesome) Let's just say he was under impressed.

Frame, mirror removed for painting

But all that aside....back to the day I came upon Miss Mustard Seed's creation, my mirror had new life. I immediately ran down the basement stairs to retrieve it and give it a good look.

First the mirror frame needed a GOOD bath...years in the basement would do that to anyone.

Thankfully these two cans were in the basement too...instant gratification.

I removed the mirror from the frame, flipped the mirror over and sprayed with the chalkboard paint. The benefit of doing this is that if you were ever possessed to return this to its former life as a mirror you've done nothing to harm the reflective surface.

After the mirror had several coats of paint I turned my attention to the frame...several coats of creamy white and it was looking quite stunning! From Liberace gone bad to pretty shabby chic! This little guy decided he wanted to walk ALL OVER my perfect wet paint. Darn. I escorted him to new surroundings. I'll spare you the photo of the bird doo on my perfect wet chalkboard paint. It was that kind of day.
After letting everything dry thoroughly (and cleaning any wildlife deposits from my project) I reassembled the frame and found a new home for this lovely little chalkboard.

Free Pillow Makeovers

My pillows are kicking up their heels and trying on their pretty spring clothes. Valentine's Day in our house doesn't involve a lot of pink or romantic fluffy objects (remember I live with three men) so I try to keep things neutral...not too butch, not too girly. My decorating scheme after Christmas has gone in the direction of spring...but a little icy spring. Lots of icy blues and reds, naturals...definitely appealing to me at least.
My pillows are getting a springtime/Valentine's Day makeover...or at least a slipcover makeover. I love these pillows for fall/winter...the turkey is a favorite (from this post)...but spring is coming and they need a little slipcover pick me up until fall arrives again. The pillows all tried on their new clothes and swapped and traded until everything looked right. Don't you just love fabric remnants? Had these laying around. They're in the sewing room now, almost ready to walk down the runway....check back!
LOVE the velvety red rose fabric...and the icy blue "wood grain"....and the embroidered silk....
oh I love it all, who am I kidding.

And just so you know, this is the face men give you when your pillows are "trying on clothes". Boy, let me tell you, they're impressed. ;-)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winter...and then some more winter

Dear Winter,
We love you. We love the anticipation of the holiday season. We love the first snowfall, the first snowstorm and "no school" days. We love the treats that your season allows us. Now, we're ready for you to go away....don't be angry, we still love you and will look forward to all your wonderous treasures next season.
Dear Spring,
S.O.S....send help please.

Maybe we can sweep it away with the BBQ baster? Good try stinker binker.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lookin' Snazzy at the Farmers' Market

In my vein of thinking all gifts should have purpose. Is that wrong? I've never had a I guess that means no...or maybe that I have really polite family and friends? Well whichever it is, I enjoyed making this practical (yet snazzy) gift for my dear brother and sister in law. Gardening, practicality and being super cool are their what better to give them than a handmade bag to visit their own garden with or one of the trillion fabulous farmers' markets in Wisconsin? (Yeah, they're cheesehead that what they're called? Cheeseheads? I don't know...they live in WI, we'll leave it at that)
For the bag I did a very simple square bottom, tall design with straps long enough to go over the shoulder, in a neutral, burlappy (that's a word, I swear), natural fabric. For the image I strolled on over to one of the coolest blogs ever Just Something I Made and snatched one up here. L.O.V.E. H.E.R. Cathe has the most amazing ideas EVER. So basically I did what she did....except I used iron on transfer paper for light colored fabrics. Make sure to REVERSE the image before printing...didn't do that the first time and cursed myself for wasting a sheet for days. I'm over it now...I think...well maybe not...but I'm trying.
Love how this project turned out...I was so happy to give it as a gift and hope they get lots of use out of it.

2010 Calendar

I've been poky about posting my handmade Christmas gifts....after the holidays are over I like to take a month to completely collapse. ;-) And, now all the gifts have found their way to their new I'm free and clear to post without ruining any surprises!

When I think about gift giving I try to be practical...I usually don't make too many things that don't have some sort of purpose. This project fit that bill. Who doesn't need a calendar? And if you're going to have to look at a calendar wouldn't it be nice if it was snazzy? Now all calendars have their purposes...I have three in my kitchen...I know, again, I have issues. But really I NEED all of is decorative, and in a pretty frame my dad built for me, one is my ISU alumni calendar, where I write all the important dates, appointments, etc. I keep that one each year so I can look back and find important info (like the first snowfall, when I got that awful haircut, and the first time I saw a robin last know, all the important stuff;-). And now that we have a kindergartner I have a school calendar, which I don't look at too much yet, but I know our day is coming when ALL THOSE EVENTS will mean something to us.

So back to the project. I was totally inspired by the BEAUTIFUL calendars by Snow and Graham. So simple, so elegant. That was the look I was going for...tried to go for. I used Microsoft Publisher to format the pages. Each leaf of the calendar is 4"x 10", therefore two leaves could be printed on one sheet of paper. I printed the sheets on my home printer, cut with a utility knife, tied with a ribbon and there you go! Pretty, functional gifts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ladies' Night

As I was looking through the '09 photos today I came across these.....this was a little party I hosted....kind of like a tupperware party, but for jewelry instead. I'd been invited to one of these, declined the "opportunity" to host my own when asked....and then was asked again and thought, oh what the heck.
It turned out to be SO. MUCH. FUN!! The jewerly part was okay, but the fellowship of so many women, giggling, laughing, conversing, eating and enjoying each other's company was fabulous! As women in this day and age we don't often gather, the way women in the past would. We don't take opportunities to enjoy each other's wisdom, trials, and friendship.
In this new year I will definitely have to put more of these gatherings on my calendar....just ladies' evenings to enjoy the wit and wisdom of our sisters! and some sinful appetizers! ;-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

$50 Entryway Remodel

It's finished!!!! Hooray!!!! The neverending project is finally complete. Okay, not complete complete but pretty complete! ;-) I have one piece of baseboard left to attach and then it's done, really done. Our back entryway was by all accounts hideous. Not just a little hideous, but bad enough that I dreaded if anyone came to that door because they would see it's ugliness lurking right behind me. I waxed on about the unsightliness here, so we'll leave that in the past as the current is so beautiful I'm ready to take a chair down there and just sit in it's beautifulness all day.

The project began one lovely summer day, as my husband and oldest son had gone off to a triathlon in Des Moines. My youngest was napping and darn if I hadn't always wondered what lay beneath that awful faux wood paneling. So I took a little piece off to see, you know, for scientific purposes. Well wouldn't you know, that piece came off so dang easy I should just take another little piece off. By the end of naptime I had taken down almost all the paneling in the entry...and thrown it out the backdoor. aaaaahhhhh, that feels better.

Hmm.....but now with no paneling comes the realization that there was NOTHING behind the paneling, except a little insulation. No drywall, no nothing. Drywall can't be THAT hard to install, right?

Nope, it wasn't. If you can run a drill, use a ruler and have a little muscle (I have very little muscles and still managed it...give it a whirl). My dear husband helped me hold the drywall on the ceiling, but other than that this was a complete "Jen reno". Well....except for my dad putting up the beautiful light fixture....twice. This tiny room was such a hole that my very good friend asked, after the light was up "That's new, I love it!". No, actually it wasn't new, it just faded into the ugly ugliness that was my wood paneling.

So anyway, back to the drywall....measure, cut, screw, mud. Easy peasy. Why do people spend so much money having someone do this? Oh yeah, they might want it to be perfect...well mine is close, not quite, but heck I'm proud of it!

Drywall...check. Now on to the beaded board wainscotting. A few original pieces were left behind, hidden under the wood paneling. A little paint and they looked good as new....then came the tricky part...the rest of the bottom half needed some. Off to the Home Depot. Open package, nail it on, paint. The only problem here was old houses ARE NOT SQUARE. Not. At. All. Trimming out the beaded board took some creative carpentry...that's my expertise in case you were wondering. ;-) Paint and caulk solve everything. Paint and caulk should be invited to the World Peace I said, they solve everything.

The moulding above the door was salvaged from a school in our district that is being torn down (so sad). I did that with my own two little hands, standing on the top of a ladder, yanking back and forth violently, scaring the beegeebers out of my ladder fearing friend at the bottom! Painted white you'd never know it was once canary yellow! Yikes! The other trim pieces came from my stash in the basement...or rather the stash that was LEFT in the basement when we bought the place. :-) It looked like a circus train before I painted...all different finishes, colors, etc. Painted bright white it all looks like it came in a pretty package with a bow on top. I painted the floor with porch floor paint that was left from this project. Yay for leftovers. First I had to pull up all the sticky back vinyl tiles...easy easy. I bought one gallon of paint (with lots left over) for the walls. And.....I guess I bought the rug, which was probably the most expensive part of my remodel!!

Oh, and I did this little project...the piece de resistance.

Ooh I am so proud of this free free cheap cheap project I could just squeal.
But I won't because my little guy is napping in the next room. ;-)
Watch out master I come.....hammer in hand.

Update: I've had some requests for specific you go!
The paint color is Arctic Blue (Benjamin Moore, Satin finish)
The area rug is from Target. Yay Target!

I'm linking up to:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Turning Six

Six years old. Where did the time go? My oldest turned six 6:09 am. I can hardly believe that my happy giggling baby boy is now a kindergartner...and all that that means. As babies we can protect them from almost everything...germs, bullies, harsh words....and then they grow up and blossom into delightful, insightful, healthy little boys....who have to then face germs, bullies and harsh words. I think this little one is fairing well...even in the face of a blackeye from the bus bully he said to me "Mom, I'm still going to be nice to him, but I don't have to like him. He doesn't have any friends and I wouldn't want to make him cry." His heart runs as deep as the ocean. He is an old soul, who understands the world in ways I don't think most of us do. I have an amazing little boy who could not be more special than he is.
Hold onto your hats world, here he comes!
Mommy loves you Marsh Potato. :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Valentine Framed Fabric

Valentine's Day is coming! And it's going to come quickly, as we have a birthday celebration this weekend and then Valentine's is the next fun holiday to look forward to! I've started a few crafty projects to decorate for this ushy gushy holiday filled to the brim with lovey dovey smooches. Okay, I can only say something like that on my blog....I live with three men. ;-)
(Two little, one big...all who roll their eyes at all things girly)
This was a SUPER EASY, SUPER QUICKY project.
One ugly frame (spray paint your desired hue)
One piece of fabric
Letters spelling your choice of smoochy, lovey things (I used the Cricut, yay!)
1. Paint frame
2. Put fabric on cardboard frame backing, use tape to secure (therefore your fabric can be pulled out at any time and won't be damaged)
3. Arrange letters on fabric
4. Reassemble frame

This is the frame "before". Yikes, I know.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christmas Village, PIY (Paint it Yourself)

Over at the Newly Woodwards last week Kim shared her love of the Dept. 56 Christmas village cute! That inspired me to share a few of the little houses that have been collecting at our house...well first my parents' house (I've been painting them for...well....a while ;-). I started in high school, adding a few each year...there is a village the size of a major metropolis at their house in an effort to downsize to a manageable size city they gave a few of them to me. These are the little unpainted plaster houses/buildings you can get at Michael's, Wal-Mart, wherever. I'm not a good instruction follower none of my houses look anything like the package specifically says to paint them. I know, I'm such a rebel. ;-) They're cute though....and special to me, as most are labeled with the year I painted them....brings back memories each time we pull them out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fajitas and StirFry....from what's in your cupboard right now!

Okay, I have issues....can a person be a spice-aholic?

I like to think of myself as a good planner. I try to stay on top of the grocery list and meal planning (although at times it gets tossed to the wind). On a few of the nights that I have strayed from my plan, had a craving for something else....and the nearest grocery store's far....these are a few of the things I have discovered I could make with what I already had in my spice cabinet. Frankly, it had never occurred to me to make my own fajita seasoning...that's just something that comes in a packet from the store, right? Well in my world it did! NO MORE! This mix is SO MUCH BETTER than the little packet!! And stirfry...we love it, eat it once a week at least, and the kids love it! So all in all it's a great meal on the cheapo.

Fajita Seasoning Mix

1 T. cornstarch

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. sugar

3/4 tsp. chicken bouillon

1/2 tsp. onion flakes

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/4 tsp. cumin

Use two tablespoons for one batch of fajitas (basically half of this mix) and save the other half for another night!! Mix the 2 T. with 1/2 cup water, pour over your chicken, onion and peppers when they are done cooking. Let boil just a minute, ready to go!

Stirfry Sauce

3 T. teriyaki (or soy...I've used that in a pinch too...still yummy!)

2 tsp. cornstarch

2 T. dry sherry (or whatever you have on hand...I've also used marsala!)

1/2 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

sprinkle of ground red pepper

Stir together, pour over stirfried veggies, let boil just a minute, ready! YUMMY!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mail Bag with Letters...for the Littlest Mailman

This was a very special project for my very special little guy. He loves to go to the post office to retrieve the like a bolt of lightning it struck me to make him his own mail bag and "letters" for Christmas. A little denim, a little felt, some shiny pretties and voila! I've had mail delivered to me all over the house now. ;-) I'm thinking I now need to build this and this.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spring is Coming....I Think

Only 69 days till Spring. I can make it, I can make it...I think I can, I think I can.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tackling the Back Entry

And in the beginning.....there were really ugly back entryways. There is a thing about this house...maybe I've missed the sign somewhere that says "please come to the backdoor ONLY". Nearly every person that comes to our house enters through the backdoor. This is weird to me. I've always thought FRONT doors were for greeting guests....however, our driveway leads right to this you're in a car, pull into our drive, this is the first door you would come to. This also happens to be our least attractive entry. The faux wood grain paneling, stickyback vinyl tiles, the beat to death back all adds up to UGLY. Our front door is so pretty, beveled oval glass window (original to the house....swooning....) wrap around porch, beautiful foyer.....and then there is the ugly step sister, the back door.

The above photo depicts the ugliness well, although it was far uglier...this is after I had removed a good portion of the paneling, stripped the wallpaper, fixed the GIGANTO holes in the wall, etc. This has been the project that has lasted into infinity. Ignore the man behind the curtain...yes, that is SUMMER outside the backdoor. I am FINALLY finishing up...with more photos to come after the paint dries....but I thought I'd share a tidbit of this project.

This one I couldn't help with spackle....just kidding, just kidding. This is the access hole (that's the technical term) for our shower...yes it's in the's all geography. Previously there was a frame with a faux wood paneling was lovely, and is now in the landfill. This photo is the after...isn't that blue pretty? I love reminds me of a robin's egg. Okay, it's not the AFTER's the" before I put my pretty back on the hole, after I painted the entryway".

Here's the after! A MAGNETIC, CHALKBOARD!! I love it. And I did this with my own two hands....bleeding, chopped to bits hands after using tin snips to cut the metal very inefficiently...but I did it! After cleaning off the "residue" on the metal I primed and painted with chalkboard paint, inserted it into the frame, backed it with some thin plywood (thanks Dad, it worked) then screwed it on the wall (that was a comedy routine...that involved's okay my little one was taking a nap and the other was safely at school).

I love that this is what everyone will see now when they enter through the back door (FORMERLY known as the ugliest back entry in Cedar County).

More photos soon!! The project is nearly only took half a year! Next....on to the master closet.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Felty Goodness

My big guy is turning 6 this month. How did that happen? I don't know. He's so grown up and responsible these days. AND loves to help in the kitchen AND serve us Christmas last year I made a bunch of felt food for my little guys to play with. THEN I made the mistake of making some new and different felt foods as a Christmas gift for a little gal (who lives three blocks away and therefore cannot share her felt foods with my little guys at all moments ;-). My little guys were heartbroken as the hamburger and chips, pop tarts and snazzy little cake left the scene. THE FELT FOOD HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.

So back to the turning 6 deal. These are on my crafting table as we speak....the patterns anyway, as these are the little gems that left the building last Christmas. Felt hamburgers, cakes, poptarts (and even some donuts!) will be on the birthday gift list for my very special almost six year old guy.

This hamburger was SO FUN to make. I used chipboard in the bun sections to
keep the bread rigid and round.

If you are new to the felt food world definitely make pop tarts first...super easy and you will be SO pleased with the results.
Happy Felty January!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cupcakes, Purses and Spending Cash

What little girl doesn't love cupcakes, purses and a little spending cash? Hopefully this one does! This was a fun Christmas present for a little gal in our life...definitely a girly girl. We have a shortage of girly girls in our house, so it is always fun to do a project that involves pink! I started with a cupcake template from....hmm.....if I think long and hard I may remember (check back later). Cut the cupcake pieces from felt and then sewed them together.

The purse itself is a cream colored denim with a soft cotton lining in a pretty blue print. The very handsome handle is a piece of ribbon found in the clearance bin at Hancock Fabric....the whole spool of ribbon was $.25!! So this handle nearly broke the bank at a whopping penny. Yay, i love bargains.

And of course every girl needs some finances. Grabbed this AWESOME idea from the VERY COOL blog, Just Something I Made. I am no whiz at manipulating PDF's, however, so this took a little fanoodling in Publisher to get it just right.
Fun project! Now I need to find a few more little girls to do projects for....I've got some pink fabric burning a hole on my craftroom table! ;-)

Related Posts with Thumbnails