Saturday, November 23, 2013

DIY Christmas ornament

     This year is Little Girl's first Christmas!!! I really wanted to find just the perfect "first Christmas" ornament for her. You know, something adorable, yet unique, something she could take with her when she has a family of her own.  *sniff*     However, on my search I found two problems. One, all ADORABLE ornaments were waaay out of my price-range. Two.....ok really that was the only problem. I can't justify spending $20 on an ornament!! So, I decided to make my own! 
     After a quick trip to Michael's, I walked out of there with a 2" by 2" wooden block.  Anything else I needed I had on hand. So, at about $1.50, this ornament is much more affordable, and completely personalized since I made it!  
     Using scrapbook paper I had, I cut 2 inch squares for 5 of the 6 sides. Then, I cut a photo of her down to size as well. A layer of mod-podge, slap the paper down, smooth all the air bubbles out, then a layer of mod-podge on top! The hardest part about this project was waiting for everything to dry so I could admire it! :-)
     I decided to add her birthdate and weight and so on to 2 sides of the block. On another side I added the verse "...for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Lastly, I marked the center of the top side of the block and attached one of those hook/screw thingys. Yes, that is the technical term for that. :-) 
     After it was all done, I sprayed clear sealer all over it, let it dry again for a couple hrs, then tied a ribbon through the hook! It turned out so great! Now all we need is a Christmas tree for it to hang on! 
     The cool thing about this ornament is that you can completely personalize it! Attach pictures of the grandkids for a grandparents Christmas gift. Or, use pictures from your wedding for a First Christmas Together ornament! I would love to see what kind of ornaments this inspired you to make! Happy Christmas Crafting!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Daily Blessing From God

     So we all know that God blesses us each and every day. But do we really realize it or even think about it? Worse yet, do we even acknowledge the fact that God has blessed us beyond our imaginations? I'm really speaking to myself here. I know that I am blessed, I know that God takes care of me and my family, but I forget to thank Him for that!
     Just in the last 7 days God has blessed us in ways that are so apparent that it has made me stop and say, "Wow! Thank you God!!!".  Last week when I went grocery shopping, almost every single item I needed was on sale! Then I saw a cart full of cans that had the labels ripped or the cans had dents in them. They were almost all what I was needing! For a third of the price!! I KNOW that was God providing for us!
     The end of last week we were blessed when someone paid to have the battery replaced on one of our vehicles! On Monday we were blessed that we finally got our Jeep title transferred to Texas. Yay! It's legal! Today, I really wanted Starbucks and I even had a 50% off coupon for there! Long story short, the barista ended up giving me a free drink AND the 50% off the second drink because he made a mistake. Thank you God for the free Starbucks!!!
     I know that being thankful for things during the month of November has almost become cliche, but really stop and take time to thank God for all the blessing in your life! Even if it's not something so clearly from God as someone paying for an expensive car part, take time to search for and thank God for the big AND little blessings He gives you each and every day! Just so happens that my daily blessing from God was a free Pumpkin Spice Latte. What are some of your daily blessings from God?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Perfectly Wicked Pear Preserves

     Imagine a lazy saturday morning, a hot cup of coffee, your family sitting around the kitchen table, and a steamy plate of pancakes. But wait, something's missing! The only thing that could make that scene any better is if you added a bowl of homemade pear preserves! YUM!
      My in-laws have a pear tree that produced like crazy this fall! They graciously gave us tons of pears. So far I've made pear crisp, pear sauce, and of course, pear preserves. I didn't know that I loved pears so much until this fall.
     This pear preserves recipe is what I came up with after reading numerous old recipes and then giving them my new take on it.  Oh! Let me just say, don't be overwhelmed with preserving fruits and veggies. Yes, peeling those suckers takes awhile, but take your time. I turn on some Pandora and just relax. That way a HUGE bowl of pears doesn't seem intimidating, but rather an invitation to belt songs from Wicked for a good 20 minutes because I have to do something while peeling all those pears! right? :-)

     Perfectly Wicked Pear Preserves

1. In a large pot, mix 1/8 c. lemon juice and 1 cup water. (This prevents the pears from turning brown) Peel, core, and slice about 12 cups of pears and add then to the pot.

2. Drain the water mixture off the pears. Add 1/4 c. lemon juice over the pears. Measure out 2-3 cups of sugar and pour over the pears. I give the pot a good shake to make some of the sugar sift down in between the pear slices.

3. Put the lid on the pot and place in the refrigerator overnight.

4. After setting overnight, there should be a good amount of juice from the pears and sugar. Place pot on stove over medium-low heat. Heat to boiling. Cook on low for 2-3 hours or until pears are translucent and a pinkish color. You may cook longer if you want the syrup to be thicker as well. Make sure there is enough liquid throughout the cooking time so that you don't scorch the pears. Add a little water if necessary.

5. Prepare your jars and water bath. Place the lids and rings in a small pot of boiling water, and wash and rinse the jars. Put the canner on the stove and heat the water to boiling over high heat.

6. Once the pears are done cooking, add 1 tsp. ground ginger and 1tsp. nutmeg, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Turn off heat.

7. Ladle pear preserves into prepared jars. Leave 1/2 inch space at the top of the jar.  Wipe rims clean and firmly screw on the lids.

8. Place jars in the boiling water and process for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool for 24 hours.

9. Remove rings from the jars, label, and enjoy within a year!

Hope you give my Perfectly Wicked Pear Preserves a try! Do you have a favorite jam, jelly, or preserves recipe you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you!

And here's a song from Wicked for you to enjoy! :-)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fear is a choice

     We watched the movie "After Earth" the other night. I really enjoy movies with Will Smith, but sci-fi movies aren't usually what I'd choose to watch. However, this movie was really good, and had an interesting quote about fear that really stuck out to me. Will Smith's character explained fear to his son like this:
       "Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity Kitai. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice."
     I've NEVER thought of fear as a choice. I've thought of fear as an emotion, something that you may not completely have control of at all times. But, I did realize that you can control how you react to fear. The idea that fear in itself is a choice is very interesting. This quote made me think about things that I have not done because of fear. 
     I know that in the past I have not talked to someone about God because I was afraid of what they may think, or afraid I would say the wrong things. If fear is a choice, then I CHOSE to be afraid to share the gospel! Ouch.  I know that fear, whether a choice or not, is not from God. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."    
     Since watching the movie I've thought a lot about how I should be getting out of my comfort zone to let people know that Jesus loves them and that our church cares about them! I've thought about how I can choose to NOT be afraid to witness to a stranger. In any case, I want to do better about being a light for Christ in the community, and not choose to let fear deter me from sharing the gospel. 
     Have you made a choice to be fearful of something? Don't let fear keep you from being a Christ-like example at work, running errands, driving through rush-hour traffic, or interacting with your kids. Don't make a choice to let fear keep you from sharing God's plan of salvation with someone! You may be that person's only source of the good news that Christ died for them! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DIY Cake Stand

     I'm a thrift store junkie. I love the hunt for a deal! It's thrilling. :-) ANYWAYS, I was at a local thrift store and I saw this pretty plate and a clear candle stick. I've been wanting to try to make those cake plates and such, and here were the perfect pieces to use! They were a dollar each. So $2 for a cake plate! 
   I measured the center of the plate and marked it on the underside. I followed the instructions on the package of the E6000 glue I had. So, I lightly sanded both the bottom of the plate and the top of the candlestick. Next, run a small line of E6000 on both the plate and the candlestick. Let sit for 2 minutes, then place the two together.  Let the pieces sit for 24 hours before using.  Now it's a pretty plate, cake stand, fruit plate, candle holder, whatever!  For $2!!! Yay!  Right now it's a riser in the bowl I use for fruit, so there's a lot more space to hold yummy fresh fruit!

     I'm getting addicted to making new things from thrifted items! I can't wait to post pictures of my latest DIY project!!! WOOHOO! It's super cute! Hopefully I can get a post up about it before Halloween! Speaking of Halloween, anyone wearing DIY costumes? I'm all about that since it usually saves you lots of money and you can be soo much more creative! I still don't know what I'm going to dress up as tho.....hmmmm......suggestions?
     For your listening pleasure. I absolutely LOVED this cover!!! They did amazing!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A little polka in your life

     My grandfather loved the accordion. I never saw him play it, but my Mom tells me he really liked it and wanted his kids to learn to play. When my grandparent's possessions were divided up between their kids and grandkids, my Mom got the accordion. Since then, she has downsized to a smaller place, and now I have the accordion! I was super stoked to get it not only because it belonged to my Grandpa, but Daniel and I like all kinds of instruments and the more variety we have around our kids the better! And I thought it would be sooo cool to learn how to play. Who doesn't love a little polka in their life??
     Well, I've recently found another awesome way to use the accordion. I am directing the children's Christmas play at our church, and so I've been looking for more creative ways to get them involved in the classroom time learning songs and such. Well, I took the accordion to class and let them sing along with that. They thought it was cool to have a different instrument. A couple of the kids got to help "play" it too as we sang along. Maybe it's just me, but if you show me something different I want to touch it and learn more about it, and BAM you have my attention for a good 15 minutes! :-) It worked pretty well with the kids. I didn't have their attention for 15 minutes with it, but at least a good 7.5! :-)
     I had the kids guess what was in the accordion case before I told them what it was. The guesses were: candy, xbox, music, and my favorite, a tablet. That one really made me giggle. Maybe a huge ancient tablet would fit in a box that big, but not the kind of tablet that kid was thinking of. Anyways, I think Grandpa would smile seeing the kids fascinated with his instrument, and that makes me smile. :-)
     And for your enjoyment, a happy polka video. You can't help but smile listening to this!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Weakness is the Key

     My church has started a ladies bible study on Wednesday nights using the book and video "Gideon" by Priscilla Shirer. I've already been so challenged by this study! 
     Each day there is a section to complete in the workbook. I'm going at my own pace now since I'm working on the kids christmas play on Wednesday nights and won't be watching the video with the ladies. 
     Today's devotion section was about weakness. Weakness is the key to strength. Huh???? Our weakness is the key to something God wants to open in our lives! It's all about our focus. If we focus on our weakness then we will remain unused. However, if we focus on God, He will unleash our weakness and turn it into strength. 
     In a church setting, especially in a time of tight finances and a poor economy, it's easy to focus on the lack of funds to do ministries or activities for the church people or for the community. That is focusing on a weakness. We should be focusing on Christ and the fact that He is with us! He is for us! He is more than enough. He has unlimited resources that He's waiting to let us use if we quit focusing on ourselves and our "weaknesses"! 
     In a personal setting, God is bigger than any challenge we can't overcome on our own. He's bigger than the financial strain. He's greater than the problems in your marriage that have so consumed you, you feel you have no choice but to give up. He's bigger than that health issue that has blindsided you. Stop focusing on your weakness. Focus on God! We weren't made to handle it all on our own. We were made to trust Him, honor Him, glorify Him through challenges and through our weakness. 
     When David saw Goliath, he knew he was a giant! But he was not focusing on his weakness as a smaller man like the rest of the Israelite army. David was focused on standing up for what was right. Standing up for his God, and God used David and his weakness to unleash strength enough to kill a giant! 
     I'm so challenged by this to put my focus on God especially in situations when I feel, in my weakness, that I can not overcome or accomplish something. God's strength is always enough. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Secret Ingredient- Pizza Crust

     My husband LOVES pizza! So, I make it quite often. It's cheap and it's yummy! I've tried MANY pizza crust recipes, and over the course of a couple years, I developed my own recipe! It's tried and true, husband approved!
     The secret ingredient to this pizza crust is basil. Fresh basil! I suppose you could use dried, which sadly I'll have to switch to in a couple months. But, if you have it, fresh basil is the way to go with this recipe! Also, you can use more or less depending on how..."basil-y" you want the crust to be. We love basil, so I use about 1 tablespoon of chopped, fresh basil. Ok, so. Here's my secret ingredient pizza crust recipe!!!

1 1/2 c. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. brown sugar (or white, whatever you have)
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. chopped, fresh basil
4 c. flour
     Pour warm water into kitchen mixer. Add yeast and sugar. Let stand for 10 min. Stir in salt, olive oil, garlic powder, and basil. Mix in 3 c. flour. Knead dough and add the rest of the flour. Add more flour, if needed, until dough is no longer sticky. Cover dough with a cloth, and let rest in a warm place for an hour. Punch dough down. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Press pizza dough into well-oiled pan and top pizza as desired. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Makes one giant pizza, or two medium sized pizzas.

     I usually top my pizza with some tomato sauce, then sliced mushrooms, turkey pepperoni, fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, and feta cheese. YUM!!! I sometimes add thinly sliced tomatoes to the pizza too. Really, you can't mess it up! Add whatever you want! Except anchovies. yuck. Happy Pizza-making!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade baby food

      This isn't anything really exciting, unless you're into saving money, and you have a kid who is eating like crazy!!! :-) Before Chloe was born, I knew that I wanted to make as much of her food as I could. I could control the quality of the food and save money that way! Part of making sure I was saving money by making her food was to make sure I am smart when I grocery shop. I look for the deals and when one pops up, I stock up.
     A couple weeks ago Kroger was having a sale on carrots. HURRAY! Perfect to make baby food! I got a 2 lb. bag of whole carrots for 79 cents!!! Not only is that a great deal to begin with, it was going to be even bigger savings once I made it into baby food, so I pretty much did a happy dance in the store. Don't judge. I love a good deal. 

     I peeled and chunked the entire 2 lb. bag of carrots and put them into a saucepan with just a little water. Now, some may disagree with me, but I do not put a ton of water in with the veggies when I cook them down. I wanted to keep as many of the nutrients as possible, and if I added a ton of extra water, the nutrients would just go down the drain when I strained out the excess water. So, I add a little water and just keep an eye on it to make sure there is enough water throughout the cooking process. Turn on the burner to medium low, and simmer away for about 30-45 minutes. The carrots will then be tender and ready for mashing!

     If you have a food processor or blender, you could totally use that to chop up the carrots, but I prefer to use a potato masher. SO mash, mash, mash away and now you have baby food! This batch made at least 4 meals for Chloe. For under 20 cents per serving, that's an awesome price compared to about $1 for the same amount of baby food bought from a store! And there's no nasty preservatives in this baby food!  Happy Mashing!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Photo Shop Fail

     I'm literally laughing while writing this. I can't believe that I'm putting this up for the public to see. oh well. So, Daniel got me a Groupon to take an online course in PhotoShop for my birthday! I've really been looking forward to starting the class, so I registered and everything this last weekend and worked on the first assignment today. Let's just say that my PhotoShop skills are definitely lacking, and I really, REALLY need this class.  :-)
     So, here, for your viewing pleasure, is the first assignment I've "completed" or more accurately. Butchered. :-) It's actually kinda sad how long it took me to make this. Don't laugh too hard at my Photoshop "skills" please!

Friday, September 13, 2013

This is happening too fast!!!

    I want to tell my daughter to slow down!! Last night she stood without holding on to anything, she's been cruising around furniture for over a week now, and she's now said "mama" and "dada". 
     It's going too fast! I see her growing up a little more everyday, and while I'm so excited for her little accomplishments, part of me wants to cry because I know that all too soon she'll be running around our apartment. Then she'll be writing her name, going to school, and riding a bike! 
      I know I'm being dramatic about this but seriously. Is there any way to make it slow down?! I'm not ready for my baby girl to grow up! I want her to stay small so I can cuddle with her in the early morning hours, rock her to sleep, make her laugh by playing pattycake, read her Harold and the purple crayon, sing hushabye baby and Jesus loves me, and dig paper bits out of her mouth! 
     Don't get me wrong, I LOVE watching her discover and figure out new things! She loves the sound of paper being crinkled. She is enthralled with music. She loves to "dance". She's friendly and loves to meet new people. She is such a blessing from God! I'm so happy to be her mama!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pretty DIY storage box for under $1

     I've had an unsightly mess on our tv stand since I wanted a pretty storage solution that wouldn't cost a ton! I didn't even take a picture of the mess before because it's embarrassing. Just imagine a white plastic basket overflowing with cords and batteries, and miscellaneous electronic crap stuff that my husband says to keep. :-) Anyways, so we go through ALOT of tea, and this empty box was saved from the trash because it seemed like it would be the perfect shape and size for a storage box to contain all those cords and such. (We really love this tea by the way)

      I cut off the top flaps of the box and then measured out some contact paper (from Dollar Tree) I had leftover from lining our kitchen drawers.  Lay down the paper, then peel the backing off part of one edge. Center whatever side of the box you're "wrapping" first and smooth down on the contact paper. You can remove and recenter and smooth air bubbles out pretty easily since contact paper is really forgiving. I had to take it off and start over a couple times until I got it on there without any wrinkles. Peel the backing off and then continue to apply the contact paper to the box kind of as if you're wrapping a Christmas present. 
      Tada! There it is all covered! I still ended up with a few wrinkles, but for a basically free storage box, I'm ok with that! This seriously cost, MAYBE 25 cents and took about 5 minutes to finish. And, it looks 10,000 times better than the old plastic basket!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Week of Firsts

     I didn't plan this, but this week ended up being filled with lots of "firsts".  For awhile I'd been thinking of trying my hand at making rings. So, this week I made metal wire rings for the first time. I had so much fun! Although, they were pretty rough, I think they turned out pretty cute for the first ones I'd ever made! 
     The second "first" was playing the violin. OK, not playing it for the first time ever, but playing it for the first time since baby was born. It felt so good to tune that beautiful instrument, and play around. It also provided Chloe with the first time she'd ever heard the violin! I'm pleased to say she stared in awe for awhile then decided to "sing" along with the music! 
     Yesterday we went to our first Messianic Shabbat service. It was also a Rosh Hashana celebration, which is the Jewish New Year. It was an amazing experience! I can't wait to go to another one! The music was wonderful, lively, and powerful! Worshipping God with over a thousand people in one place was humbling and encouraging! Baby LOVED the music! She danced and waved her arms! I love that she's as moved by music as we are.
     Another "first" was making blueberry-plum jam. It was supposed to be just blueberry jam, which would have also been a first, but I didn't quite have enough fruit so I added a few plums. The results? Delicious! Sometimes experiments like that can have horrible results, but it's really rewarding when it turns out! Usually my experiments turn out. I'm awesome like that! :-)
     The last first was definitely the best! Chloe has been "talking" and saying "ba ba ba" this whole week. But tonight she said "mama"! I can't describe the feeling that gave me! It definitely warmed my heart, and made me giggle because Daddy was a little jealous! :-) I doubt she actually knew what she was saying, but let's just go ahead and mark down in the books that she said "mama" before she said "dada".  I love trying new things, and this week of firsts has held some of my favorites! What are some of your favorite firsts? What's something you would like to make a "first"?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kansas Pride

     I've long been intrigued with the notion that the love of land could be hereditary. The farming lifestyle has been apart of my family's history for centuries. My maternal grandparents lived in northern Kansas and were farmers there. I love that land. I love where they lived and worked to make a home for their family. I love to see the land. I want to be there when I'm away.
      Is it just an emotional thing? Or is it born in me to love the land where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived? Is it all psychological or is it part of my physical makeup to love and care for the land because that is where my family lives? I don't know if there's an answer. But I do know that I feel more at ease in my state. I love feeling the Kansas wind on my face. I love seeing the fields and smelling fresh cut hay. The sky is the prettiest in Kansas. I know it is. Whether it is psychological or born within me. My heart belongs to Kansas. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Secret ingredient- Mashed Potatoes

     I'm pretty much world famous for my mashed potatoes. Ok.... That just really means that my husband loves them. :-) But anyways. There is definitely an art and a secret ingredient to getting delicious mashed potatoes like mine!

     -Wash and cut into chunks 4-5 potatoes. 
     -Remove any bad spots. 
           I leave the skins on the potatoes because I like the texture of having them in my mashed        potatoes. And also its just the way my mama made mashed potatoes!
    -Place in a pot and cover with water
    -Over medium heat, boil until the potatoes are tender. 
    -Turn on oven to 400 degrees F.

This is the part where the magic happens! 
    -Drain the water off of the potatoes and add to the pot:
         2 Tbs. butter
         2 Tbs. sour cream
         3 oz. cream cheese
         1/4 tsp. garlic powder
         1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
         1 Tbs. milk
               And finally add the secret ingredient!!!
         1 Tbs. italian dressing---not the off brand nasty stuff. The real deal. Wishbone Italian Dressing :-)
    -Use a hand mixer to blend everything together and make the potatoes nice and fluffy!
    -Butter a 1 - 1 1/2 qt. baking dish and spoon the potatoes in. Then place a few dots of butter on top and a sprinkling of parsley flakes. 

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is a nice golden brown and is kind of crusty on top! YUMMY!  Now enjoy your secret ingredient mashed potatoes. Trust me. People will ask you how you made them so delicious!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homemade anniversary gift

    Daniel and I recently celebrated our anniversary!!! It was very different than how we usually celebrate. This year he had to work and then the evening was spent at church and then baby didn't want to sleep at all that night. However, we ate lunch together and exchanged what was supposed to be small gifts since we are on a tight budget! Daniel broke the spending rules and bought me a lovely bracelet and flowers!! I think I'll forgive him though! :) I had decided to make his gift since we weren't supposed to spend much money.
     A couple weeks ago I wrote things I loved or appreciated about him on sticky notes and plastered them all over the windows of his car while he was at work. He really liked that so I decided to take the things I wrote down and make it into something that he can keep, instead of a bunch of sticky notes. 
     There have been some tutorials on Pinterest and also here about a deck of cards used to make a book similar to what I did. However, I didn't have the budget to go buy stuff to make it all cutesy. And I figured it was a gift for my husband and he doesn't really care about cutesy. So I used only things I had on hand.

- cheap deck of cards
- pen
- scissors 
- card stock
- sharpie (or any marker)
- glue stick or tape
- hole punch
- string

     I cut pieces of card stock to fit on one side of the playing cards. I ran the marker on the edges of the paper to give it some definition. Then I wrote all the little things on each piece of card stock. The tutorials on Pinterest used all 52 of the playing cards. I used about 42 because the deck was getting really thick and a little hard to manage. And the things left to say probably would be a little embarrassing to anyone accidentally reading it so I decided to save those special things for later. ;) 
      Next, I glued all the pieces of card stock onto the playing cards. Then I punched holes on one edge of all the cards. I decided to also make a cover from a paint chip sample to go on top of the deck. Lastly, I ran string through the holes to bind the cards into one "book". 

     Not nearly as cute or crafty looking as the one on Pinterest, but it was made with love and it was free!  :)   Hope this inspires you to try your hand at making a gift for your special someone. Doesn't have to be expensive or even cutesy if it comes from the heart!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Homemade applesauce and chipped dishes

     Sometimes I just need to do something really domestic. Yesterday I just had to make applesauce. I was so happy when I went grocery shopping and in the reduced produce section there were tons of organic apples for CHEAP! Love Kroger! So home I went to peel and core the apples. Add them all to a saucepan from my grandma and they simmered away for about 30 minutes until they were soft. Then I mashed them up and let the homemade applesauce cool. 
     This morning I pulled out a chipped bowl from a set of dishes that belonged to another grandma and baby had organic homemade applesauce for breakfast! Talk about easy, delicious, domestic, and nostalgic! There's nothing like using your grandma Meyer's recipe to make it then eating it with dishes and silverware from grandma Farney. Makes me miss both those wonderful women so much! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Healthier No-Bake Cookies

     I've been craving chocolate like crazy this week! I'll admit that I made some not-so-healthy chocolate choices a couple days ago, or maybe today, whatever! So, I decided to try to make a chocolate dessert that was at least a little bit healthier so I wouldn't feel so guilty about fulfilling my cravings! 
     The recipe that I based these cookies off of can be found here. I didn't have sun-butter so I just used the peanut butter I had on hand which ended up being crunchy instead of the normal creamy peanut butter that no-bakes are usually made with. Other than that, I followed the recipe at Soliloquy of Food pretty much exactly. When you make these, please, oh please, use real vanilla extract! No imitations!!! YUCK! 
     These healthier cookies did not set up quite as well as traditional no-bake cookies, so just pop them in the refrigerator or freezer for a bit and they should be just perfect! Small price to pay for a healthier version I think. 

Healthier No-Bake Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1 c. honey
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
3 1/2 c. rolled oats

     In a saucepan, heat butter, honey, cocoa, and milk over medium heat. Stir occasionally and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and add the (real) vanilla and peanut butter. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved into the chocolate mixture. Add oats and mix until the oats are coated with the chocolate-y goodness! Drop spoonfuls of the cookie mixture onto wax paper and let cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A little push and a prick at my heart

     Part of my devotions today were in Colossians chapter 2. The verses 6-7 really challenged me! The last phrase of verses 7 says "abounding therein with thanksgiving". Then I thought, "Am I ABOUNDING with thanksgiving?" "Do I have a thankful attitude?"
     I sometimes struggle with being negative or thankful in all situations of life. These verses were exactly what I needed to be reminded that it's not all about me, I need to be thankful in everything, and that is a daily thing. Being thankful shouldn't just happen when everything is going great in our lives! It should be every day, through difficult times too. God knows just what we need doesn't He? Even if what we need is a little push and a prick at our hearts. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Baby's Laugh

     There is nothing that can warm your heart quite like laughter from a baby! You can be having the worst day, but when you hear the pure joy coming from a baby you can't help but smile!! 
     God has truly blessed us with the happiest baby! She brings so much joy to our lives! I can't tell you how many times I've been feeling sad and then she's there with a smile and contagious laugh. Babies truly are a blessing from God! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Why doesn't Panera deliver?!

     So who decided that only subpar food would be available to be delivered to your front door?  Seriously, why can't Panera deliver their Spinach Bacon Souffle and an Asiago Bagel or IHOP deliver an omelet with 2 sausage links please?! And for all those in Springfield, why doesn't Andy's, Wayo, or Little Tokyo deliver?! And for the love of all things delicious on a Saturday morning, why doesn't Cracker Barrel deliver their pancakes?!?!  I'd be willing to wait about twice as long for food to be delivered if I knew it would be absolutely delicious and didn't contain any pepperoni. I'd probably even be willing to pay quite a bit more for any of that deliciousness to arrive at my door so I could enjoy it on the couch in my jammies. (Yes I just said jammies)
     Who decides these things? I need to speak with them. Anyways, that's just been on my mind lately. I need Panera to deliver. Especially when fall hits and I just NEEEED a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now. :-)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Clean your jewelry with kitchen supplies!

     I've had some jewelry sitting around that I haven't worn since college, mostly because it looked really tarnished. I saw a recipe online to clean your jewelry so I thought I'd give it a try! Let me tell ya! It works like a charm! And I didn't have to buy anything. I had all the supplies on hand!

     -Cover the inside of a bowl with aluminum foil. You can not skip this step or it will turn your jewelry black! 
     -Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave for about 2 minutes. It doesn't need to boil it just needs to be really hot! Pour the water into the aluminum covered bowl.   
     -Add 1 tablespoon each of salt, baking soda, and dish washing soap. Add your jewelry in the bowl after that. 

     Now you wait for 5-10 minutes!! After the time is up, remove the jewelry and rinse with water then dry and buff with a soft cloth. Admire your clean jewelry!!! 

     Note: this will not replace silver finish that has worn away, it just cleans the silver finish that is still on your jewelry.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

DIY Ugly Clock to Cute Clock

     We've had this cheap clock since we were married. It proudly told time on the wall in our bathroom until it fell to its death.  Oops! Then it was an ugly clock. :(   See the big chunk that's gone from the frame? But it still works!

      I knew that baby needed a clock for her room soo, out comes the DIY army. Hot glue and fabric scraps! These fabric scraps are leftover from when I made baby's quilt so they will make the clock go perfectly with the rest of the nursery decor!
     Turn the clock over and remove all the screws and the clock face and glass and set aside. Then run some hot glue on the inside lip of the clock and secure fabric to it. Stretch the fabric around the clock and secure the other end with hot glue on the inside of the frame as well. See how messy my hot-gluing is? There's quite an art to it eh? ;-)

    Continue this process covering all the way around the clock frame. Super easy right?! Then carefully place the glass then clock face back into the frame. Secure the screws and flip that baby over to admire your super simple, CUTE!, and free clock makeover!!! Love it!!!!  Happy Hot-gluing!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nursery Decor for Under $20

     Decorating a nursery doesn't have to be an expensive endeavor. All except one piece of art, I've made for baby's room! The mobile I made before she was born and a few other pieces I put together in about 20 minutes one afternoon.
     This project I've been thinking about for awhile but hadn't figured out exactly how I wanted it to look.  So I took my time and found all my supplies on sale!

These wooden letters were on sale half price at Michael's!! 

     I sprayed painted them white with a can of Rust-Oleum that I had on hand. Then I painted just the tops of the letters with craft paint that was a teal-ish blue color that is one of the main colors in the nursery. 
     I also got these wooden frames from Michael's for under a dollar!! Originally, I planned to leave them unfinished because I liked the color of the wood. But after seeing the letters painted blue I decided to paint them with red craft paint since that is the other nursery color. I really like the way they turned out! 

     I had some white ribbon on hand and used it to hang the frames. Then I strung the letters onto another piece of ribbon and hung them below the frames. I love both colors together! I'm so happy with how everything turned out!!! All the nursery artwork and mobile cost just under $20 to make!!! Hope this gives you some inspiration to decorate on the cheap using creativity and things you have already!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

DIY Orange Cleaner

     Not long after we moved to Texas, my sister came to visit us! She brought a bag of oranges for us to snack on, and I remembered this DIY cleaner I had seen on the internet. Time to experiment!!
    I placed peels from about 6 oranges in a canning jar and filled it up with white vinegar. Then I placed it on the shelf in our laundry closet. Most of the tutorials I had read suggested letting the peels soak for about 2 weeks. Well, I totally forgot about this little jar of goodness so the peels soaked for about a month! Anyways! I strained out the peels and other little bits and was left with about a cup and a half of orange syrupy stuff. I filled the rest of the jar with water and now a beautiful jar of all natural homemade cleaner awaits my OCD self to take it on a cleaning spree! 
     Is it sad that I'm so excited to try this stuff out? It smells fresh and citrusy. (Is that a word?) 
This cleaner was so easy to make, if I can do it, anyone can! Happy cleaning!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Make delicious sweet tea without an aftertaste!

     I don't know about you, but I love sweet tea! Living in "the South" for the past 6 years has rubbed off on me and now I like my tea about as sweet as syrup! The only thing I don't like about most sweet teas is the aftertaste. 
      I've only ever had one sweet tea that didn't have an after taste and that was from hub's grandmother. She, of course, has a special "tea making pan". I don't have the magical pan so I've been trying different ways to make tea without that horrible aftertaste. Well. I found one!!! And it's the easiest tea recipe EVER! You let the sun do all the work for you! 

First, find a glass gallon sized jar. I got lucky and my mom had one she didn't need so I asked for it!

Next, fill the jar with water. I use tap water.
Then, place 2 tea bags in the jar (I use Lipton iced tea brand). Screw on the lid with the little tails of the tea bags hanging out the edge so they don't sink to the bottom of the jar.
Next, place your jar out in full sun for about 3-5 hours. In the Texas heat and sun sometimes my tea only takes 2 hours to brew. This particular batch sat in the sun for 3 hours. 

Finally, after your tea has brewed to the strength you desire, bring it inside and sweeten it if you wish. I use about 1 and 1/4 cup sugar. Then pour over ice for a fantastic aftertaste free drink! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Recover your throw pillows for free!

      I've been a little obsessed lately with changing the color scheme in our living room. We've had red as our accent color since we've been married and I'm ready for a change. One problem. We don't have extra money to spend on new pillows/decor.  SO I raided our closet! I found a dress that I hadn't worn since college and a dress shirt of hubs that didn't fit well anymore.
     I knew I'd been wanting to go with a blue color for a long time and then I found the perfect candidates for my new pillow covers. I forgot to take pictures of the process along the way. But it took me just a couple hours, working around feeding and entertaining baby, to recover 3 pillows. Seriously, it was one of the easiest sewing projects I've ever done. Just a couple straight seams and you have 3 recovered pillows for free! Here's the finished product!