Let it snow!

"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. 
Since we've no place to go, let it snow,  let it snow, let it snow!"

 It is sooo beautiful outside, I couldn't help but slip on my boots and coat, grab my camera, and attempt to capture some of the beauty. 

It's amazing that when it seems like we cannot possibly get any more snow...it starts again!

 I don't love driving in it, but it certainly is gorgeous to look out the window and see all those fluffy white diamonds glittering in the sunlight!

And what did I do on this cold Sunday? Pretty much nothing....and it was awesome. Hubby's sick, which isn't all that awesome, but it gave me a good reason not to do much of anything for a weekend...a nice change of pace! I did manage to work on some Valentine's Day decorations, though.

Here is the first one I finished...

Really (really) easy, but I think it's adorable! I had it hanging on out bathroom door, but moved in to the side of the bookcase for a photo...and I like it there a lot more. The bathroom door is white, so it blends in too much. It stands out so nicely on the black. :-)

I hope to finished my Valentine's Day decor this week, so I can start working on my Super Bowl menu!

What did you do this weekend?


Rainbow Jello

So from the looks of it outside, tomorrow is going to be a snow day for many of us on the east coast!

Need an idea for a cute project for the kiddies? 

 I made this recently with a 5 year old and a 3 year old and they loved it! (Making and eating)
It was super simple, we just made the jello put it in a 9x13 and let it set. Made the next color, added it on, and so forth. I used the "speed set" method, which as you can see, doesn't hold up as well as the "jigglers" would, but the speed factor is important when you're working with preschoolers. The speed set gave enough structure that you could see the individual layers without having to wait 3-4 hours or whatever it is in the middle. Win-win.

Check out those colors, cool right? (Orange and yellow seemed to blend together, so you can opt out of orange if you want to cut down on time!) I didn't have any purple jello...do they even make that?!

Next time I want to try it in individual glass bowls or a trifle dish! So pretty :-)

A Guilt Free Indulgence

Good morning, friends! 
How are you this snowy day? 

I just wanted to thank you all for the kind thoughts and words on my last post. We are still mourning the loss of our sweet Holly, but feel blessed to have been her family. 

I am seriously behind on posts and hope to get back on track this weekend...so for now, check out my new favorite (light) treat! 

Deep Chocolate Vitatops with Fat-Free Whipped Cream! 

I was so hesitant to try Vitatops, thinking they would be gross...but Hungry Girl swears by them, so I had to give it a try! They are a little expensive, but look of for online coupons, they exist! (Hungry Girl puts them in her newsletters sometimes) You can also get them on amazon a little cheaper.

Boy am I glad I tried them!! 
I'm hooked! 

(Maybe I should send them this post and get a free box or something! hehe)

At first, I was eating them plain. But then I discovered what a little dollop of Fat-Free Whipped Cream could do...I'll never go back.

The already delicious Vitatop turns into a super fudgy, I-Cannot-Believe-This-Isn't-Bad-For-Me kind of snack!

Try it, I dare you. 


Saying goodbye to a dear friend.

My parents got us Holly for Christmas one year. She was the best little gift anyone could ask for!

 How cute is that little face? We were thrilled. My sister and I had the job of naming her, since our brother was only little at the time. We thought about it all day and couldn't come up with anything that seemed to fit. Auntie (our great aunt), who has since passed away, asked me to lift the puppy up to her lap.When I did, I saw the holly berries on Auntie's sweater...and that was that. We welcomed Holly into our family.

Many years later, we discovered that Holly had bone cancer and her kidneys were failing. For months now, Holly has been in more pain than we could probably even realize. Getting ready for bed two nights ago, my dad didn't think she would make it through the night. He could hear her poor little heart pounding from across the room. Being the loyal pet owner he is, Daddy curled up next to Holly's bed and tried to comfort her enough that she could sleep. Mom said that at this point, Holly could not even sit down or lay down, she would only stand because of the pain. They tried everything to get her to take her medicine, but she wouldn't even eat the meat my mom made for her. When they all woke up the next morning, they were expecting the worst, but there she was standing on her bed with a glazed look on her face. Throughout the morning she just stood there, my dad had to carry her outside  because she couldn't walk down the two stairs on her own. He knew at that point we were going to have to put her to sleep. Though it was not a choice anyone wanted to make, she hadn't been able to take her medicine in days, so we knew she was in excruciating pain by now.

On my way to work, my mom texted me and told me what they had decided so I stopped by to say goodbye to my loyal friend. My brother answered the door with tears in his eyes. At 13,  he cannot even remember life without Holly. We sat down together in the hallway and pet her as we cried. We were worried that our hands were hurting her, so I tried to pet her as lightly as possible. Whenever I pulled my hand away, she would nudge me, so I guess it was comforting. I pray it was comforting. Poor girl. I wish I could have done more.

My sister was still sleeping but when she heard me come in, she opened her door to say hi and saw us both on the floor. The decision had only been made a few hours before, so she didn't know yet. I had to break the news to her and she melted to the floor and cried with us. Though it was a terribly painful moment, I am so blessed to have been able to share it with my siblings. It will be a memory that I treasure for all time.

Holly, you were with us a long time, though it could never be long enough. I will always feel that twinge of pain when I walk through those doors and you are not there to greet me or to warm my feel at the base of a chair. I will forever remember Mom and Daddy telling me that you spent the first few nights in my bedroom when I went away to college for the first time. What a precious pup. We love you, Holly girl. We'll miss you always.


Framed Silhouettes

Anyone else sick of this cold weather? I love snow...LOVE it, but I wish it could be 50 and snowing. That would be ideal :-)

(All you warm weather bloggers, soak up some sun for me!)

I have been working diligently on Valentine's day crafts, but unfortunately I don't have any to share just yet. Soon though! 

Wow, I'm all over the place tonight, can you tell I'm ready for bed?! Why do I wait until 11pm to start a post? Arg. New Year's resolution? Perhaps. I know I said I wasn't going to make one, but maybe I need to reconsider. 

Ok, I'll do it. From now on (at least for the rest of the week) I will write at a reasonable hour. 

The End.

Yeah, we'll see. 
Old habits die hard. Right? 
I'm doomed. hehe

Moving on........

I think it's official, I'm addicted to silhouettes. They are just so darn precious! Am I right?
Here are two framed silhouettes I made as a Christmas gift. The mommy of these little boys loved them! She even dug out two old silhouettes of her father and husband as children to display with mine.

This isn't my house, but I love her old books. She has them all over and they all have a story.
Love. Love. Love

Check out some older, but equally as adorable, silhouette projects...

A Present for a Princess
Hand in Hand
Beetle Silhouette Shirt


Homemade Conversation Hearts

Happy Monday, all! 

I have been hoping to share a craft with you soon, but I feel like I'm in the middle of 15 projects with no final pieces to show for it. So for today, I will just have to settle for half food/half craft! 

Homemade Conversation Hearts!

I think the idea of how MANY this recipe was going to make scared me *a lot*...plus the fact that I had to come up with things to write on ALL of them. But the recipe I used was so easy to follow and worked out perfectly! The writing part was a cinch, thanks to the internet and LOTS of inside jokes with all the recipients of these treats...including Pete...

I don't remember how that nickname started really, but I've always liked it :-) And if you look at the hearts with the straight edges, I marbled a few flavors together to make a "Tropical Medley." 
Clever, right?

Wanna make some??

You can find the recipe here. It looks hard, but stick with it! 
I used extracts, rather than oils, simply because that's all I had on hand. They worked just fine and saved me some money. After much consideration, I decided on 3 flavors: Vanilla, Butter Rum, and Coconut. Crazy, I know. But they all worked!

I also chose a mini cookie cutter with a squiggly edge. (Yes, I'm sticking with that word choice) Because it looked better than the straight one...just my preference. 

Be sure to let them dry the full 24 hours before you whip out your (edible) marker...learn from my (impatience driven) mistakes, the "ink" will bleed.

Now I just have to make cute little packages for them! 


Chickpea Nibblers

Our library has a few shelves in the basement with books you can buy for a quarter. Being a cheap thrify gal who is a huge dork loves to read, I clearly frequent this area. Most days there isn't much to choose from, mainly old novels and "how-to" books for tasks I've never really had the desire to know "how-to" accomplish.

But the other day I hit the Mother Load! Oodles and oodles of Martha Stewart Living Magazine as well as tons of Better Homes and Gardens. I was in heaven. Thankfully I had my big purse that day, because I filled that baby with all the magazines the few dollars I had on me could buy. I was glad I only had a few bucks (but secretly wished I had grabbed more), because I could have done some major damage!  

These magazines were a treasure trove of tips, ideas, inspirations, and recipes...oh the many, many recipes! I will be busy organizing these for quite some time. (Read: Throwing them in a box and probably forgetting I have them until I find them one day and relive the excitement!)

Here is one recipe I tried from a 1994 issue of Living.

These are crazy easy and really great for healthy snacking! Just a note: I think I used 3/4 to 1 Tablespoon of oil, rather than the 2 it calls for.

"Drain, rinse, and pat-dry a 19-ounce can of chickpeas. Toss them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of ground pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite dried herb or spice (we used garam masala, an Indian blend; oregano would work well, too). Arrange them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and cook at 300 degrees, stirring occasionally until they have browned and begin to crisp, about 50 minutes. Serve at room temperature. Chickpeas can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days."

I was so surprised that I liked these as much as I did. I have been looking for a few healthy snacking ideas to keep me on track, and this one is a nice option. I wouldn't say that I would choose them over chocolate or anything, but as a smart choice, they are tasty.

Try them with a few different spices and let me know what you think!


Skinny Baked Bananas

I'm so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open, but I had to share this recipe with you tonight. 
So simple, so healthy, and so yummy! 
(I don't even really like bananas and I thought it was good!) 

The only thing I added to the original recipe was a brush of vanilla extract over each banana. 
SP and I thought it might be a good idea. 
Turns out, we were right. ;-)

Recipe by Skinny Taste

Baked Bananas
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 1 • Cook Time: 10-15 minutes Calories: 143 Points: 3 ww pts
  • 1 medium ripe banana, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp honey or agave
  • cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut bananas in half. Arrange banana in an oven safe dish or on tinfoil. Brush with vanilla, then sprinkle with cinnamon and honey. Cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how soft you like them.



Embellished Wooden Stool

Here is a little stool I painted and embellished for my cousin's little girl. It was one of the first projects I did with my new Silhouette SD! I am still learning how to use it, but I think the little paper chain is adorable! I cannot wait to see what else I can make...hopefully venturing outside of paper since I haven't had the courage to try a new material just yet. 

She got to open this on New Year's Eve, since I didn't get to see her on Christmas. I was lucky enough to find a darling "Clarice" doll and book set to go along with her Clarice Bow that I made a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of it. But just take my word for it, it was precious...just like this little girl!

And look what we had for dessert. YUM!

Fried Ice Cream. I didn't think this would be something I'd like, but WOW was I wrong. I'm glad I split it with hubby, I could have done some major damage if I had my own. You know that rule, don't you? If you share food with someone, the person who eats the last bite owns the calories of the entire treat. What a good husband, taking on my calories for me. ;-)


Super Easy Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Peter and I like to try out new recipes on the weekend, particularly for post-church brunch. Hubby is a sucker for all things breakfast, so I like to find recipes I think he will enjoy. I didn't have any ideas for this weekend, so I just used some things I had around the house...Well (according to hubs) I hit a home run with this incredibly simple adaptation of a boxed blueberry muffin mix.

Here is the star of the show:

This brand is really great. I have loved everything I've tried so far. I usually make these when I feel like something different for breakfast during the week (and because they are fat free, it's not a terrible "splurge"). I usually pair them with some sweet clementines. Yum!

Well, since this was a Sunday brunch and not a weekday breakfast...I decided to play around a little and see what these babies could really do. I didn't go crazy, but I'll be honest, I don't know if I can go back to the plain old mix now.

Super Easy Blueberry Streusel Muffins

1 box Krusteaz fat free Blueberry Muffin mix
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c brown sugar
1/3 c chopped pecans

Prepare mix as directed, folding in additional blueberries with included can. Pour batter into prepared tins, set aside. Using a fork, combine butter, sugar, and nuts until crumbly. Top batter with streusel mix and bake as directed. 

It's seriously amazing what a few extra ingredients did for these already yummy muffins. 
Now they are totally worthy of a Sunday brunch...even for company! 



Whirley Pop and Countertops

Look what my awesome hubby did for me! 

I have been complaining that I don't have enough counter space, but because we are renting, we can't really do anything too permanent. He added this little table in the corner of the kitchen and it gives me just enough space that I don't feel like I'm going crazy every time I make dinner. When I came home from work, this is what I found!

We had talked about getting a small island so it would be strong enough to hold heavy things, but there just wasn't enough room. Plus the only ones I liked were more than I wanted to spend on a pretty frivolous purchase. Well, not only is this thing really sturdy, but apparently Pete is super thrify too! It only cost him $10 for all the supplies...that's a cost I can get on board with!

Our counters and appliances are black, so it matches well. I am thinking of making a short ruffle to go around the edge that would match my coffee curtains. I haven't decided yet...though it will probably be based on how much fabric I have left, since I bought it 2 years ago. But I'll be sure to post pictures if I make something!

(I didn't know I could get so excited over a counter!)

And since I'm on the topic of what a wonderful husband I have, look at one of my Christmas presents..
 Whirley Pop! 

Yay for freshly popped, healthy popcorn! 
It only takes a 3/4 - 1tsp of oil for a ton of popcorn, how awesome is that?! 

What a great Friday night. 


Arctic Artist

Well we survived our first snow storm of the season, and are gearing up for another. I love snow, but now that I’m not in school, snow days are a lot more work! At work, the kids and I love to play in the snow, but you can only be out there for so long before everything is numb. So I have been trying to work out an alternative to sledding and snowman building that both the 6 year old and 2 year old can both enjoy. Not an easy task. I used to teach Kindergarten before SP and I moved, and I remembered an activity I did with my students that went over really well!
Painting Snow!
When I did it with my class, I used squirt bottles with little triggers…but I didn’t have any around the house, so we used water bottles with a squeezy lid. It didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. It was a little too hard for him to squeeze, but definitely got the job done and the kids had a blast.
All you need to do is add a few drops of food coloring to a bottle of water (spray bottle if you have one), shake it up, and let them go at it! Just be warned, I don’t know what it would do to clothes, so I suggest old or dark colored clothing.
We will definitely try this again with the fresh snow on Monday! I think I will invest in a few spray bottles over the weekend so I’m ready!
What’s your favorite snow day activity?

A new winner

Good morning! 

The winner of my first giveaway did not claim her prize, so I had to choose a new winner...

Congratulations, Kathleen from Always Sew Love! 
Please send me your info so I can send you your prize! 

For those of you who have not been to her blog, Always Sew Love, check it out! 
I am in love with one of her wine cork hot plates. Adorable!  



I know this is a little late, but it was so sweet I had to share and didn’t want to wait until next year! The day after Christmas, we went with hubby’s family to visit a church in the area. It was a very small group of people, but strangely enough we knew two of the families there. Odd, but very nice. At the beginning of the service, the pastor called the children up to the stage and explained that they would be making a special project to share with everyone at the end of worship. They all ran off to the classroom and when the service was over, they came out with one of these for everyone…

It is called a Christingle. The tradition started in 1747 as part of a children’s Christmas celebration.

The pastor explained:
  • The orange itself represents the world.
  • The red ribbon is a symbol of Christ’s blood shed for us, saving us from our sin.
  • The four tooth picks represent the four seasons, or the four corners of the world…God’s love throughout time and for all people.
  • The dried fruit, nuts, and candies are the fruits of the Earth and all God’s blessings.
  • And the white candle is for Jesus, the Light of the World, shining over everything.
I thought that was cute. The kids were so sweet as they passed a Christingle to everyone. I was glad that we were there to visit. On the way home, we all ate our oranges because we were late and didn’t have breakfast…hehe

Sweet deal!

I also wanted to share some pictures of the adorable snow village display my MIL puts up each year. Her dad, the creator of the name Wingledings, had a TON of these little houses, buildings, and people. Now a few of his daughters have various pieces to display in their own homes each year. They are really cute, see…


Ok, I promise to have some non-Christmas related posts in the near future…but I’m not ready to let go just yet!! I didn’t even take down my tree this weekend like I usually would…anyone else holding on a bit longer?


Sparkling Cider Cupcakes

I seriously cannot believe it is 2011 already. 
I hope that 2010 was as good to you as it was to us! 
2009 was a rough year for us, and 2010 was a breath of fresh air, for sure. 
I can only imagine that this new year will bring much joy!

And what better way to welcome the new year than with cupcakes?! 

Sparkling Apple Cider Cupcakes, to be exact! 

When I saw these two adorable ideas on Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Tatertots and Jello, I immediately knew what I was going to make for New Years Eve! Both of them, with only minor adaptations.

The cupcakes came out perfectly and they are so simple you won't believe it! All you need is a boxed cake mix (I used french vanilla), eggs, applesauce, apple pie filling, and a bottle of sparkling cider. Make the cake as directed, but when it calls for oil, use the same amount of applesauce. And when it calls for water, substitute the cider. Bake as directed.

When they are cool, cut a little cone shape out of the top, fill it with pie filling and put it back in place. Then once you frost it, you'll have a delicious surprise inside!


The frosting was really good too. Those girls over at Craes Creations make some adorable and tasty looking treats!

I don't have a photo of the final product, but here is a picture of one of my New Year's Balls.

I had three of them, each slightly lower on the stick as if they are falling. It was super cute! It's hard to tell from this terrible lighting, but the sprinkles on the ball are silver so it looks just like "The Ball!"

DON'T put a stick/ball in a filled cupcake...it will fall over knocking several of your newly iced cupcakes to the ground where they will land frosting side down. 
(No, no, I totally didn't learn that the hard way...)


Wishing you all many, many blessings in 2011!


We have a winner...

I want to thank all of you who participated in my first giveaway!! 
I will certainly have another soon :-)

*Drum roll please*
And the winner is.....

 # 33, Desi from SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl

Desi said:

Congratulations Desi! 
Email me your info by Wednesday night to claim your prize.