Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Around here...

It's back to school this week after a week off for spring break.  It's been busy around here just doing a little bit of everything. 

Making 'stress balls' for LM's school project.  200 stress balls.  I guess she needs a stress ball after that!  They still need to be decorated with little pom pom heads and faces.

Time at the library.  We have a teen center at our library - the kids have to be 12 to use it.  Someone is very anxious to be able to do that...

I moved this chest out of LM's room and into the kitchen/dining room for the Keurig.  I plan on painting the chest again soon, too.

LM got some pointers on photographing pets from the latest issue of 'American Girl'. She did a great job on this shot of Smokey.  Maybe she should take all the photos for the blog...
(Does anyone remember the American Girl magazine from the 1970's & 1980's)

What we haven't done yet is dye Easter eggs.  Two dozen eggs are waiting in the fridge for us to dye tomorrow night.  More on that later!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pottery Barn Knock Off - Easter Flag

I saw a cute burlap Easter bunny flag in the Pottery Barn a while back for $39 (it is no longer available).  I didn't think the price was too bad but I knew I could make something similar and just as cute.
Pottery Barn

 I actually ended up making two of these - one using burlap and one using drop cloth.  And I added a cute pom pom tail to both.  I made the hanging rod with a dowel and two finials painted black to resemble wrought iron.

For the drop cloth bunny I painted the bunny (I just Googled 'bunny silhouette' and picked out a bunny, printed it and traced around the bunny on the drop cloth with chalk.)

I sewed the edges, making a pocket for the rod.  I added a bow to the neck, a button for the eye and the pom pom for the tail.

Here's the burlap bunny. I traced the bunny freehand on white flannel and sewed it on the burlap. I used the same type of dowel/finial for the rod.

I added a pom pom for his tail, too.

I had all of the supplies on hand with the exception of the pom poms, dowels & finials.  I spent about $4 on those things.

I love how both of these little flags turned out.  They are cute additions to our Easter decor.

Linking up to Jennifer Rizzo's Fabulously Creative FridayThe Inspiration Party at The Craftberry Bush

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pineapple Casserole...

A few years ago we were visiting with some friends from Virginia who were in Park City on vacation. They invited us to dinner on their last night in town.  They were in a time share and had been cooking all week - we joined them on 'leftover' night.  In a small piece of foil was the tail end of something I couldn't really identify but looked good (I know that sounds odd).  That bit of food changed my life.  It was Pineapple Casserole and ever since my friend C sent me the recipe I've made it about once a month - sometimes more.

It is super easy and yummy.

Pineapple Casserole

2 cans pineapple chunks
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons plain all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs (one 'tube' of crackers, crushed)
1 stick butter, melted

Grease casserole dish.  Drain pineapple and pour in dish.  Sprinkle sugar, flour and cheese over pineapple and stir all ingredients together.  Mix cracker crumbs with 1 stick of melted butter in separate dish, then sprinkle over pineapple mixture.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day and a Recipe...

I have always loved St. Patrick's Day.  It's a fun holiday without the expectations of Christmas or Valentine's Day.  No gifts to be bought and wrapped.  Just a little fun.  And these days, a little fun means a little cooking or baking.

I love this scone recipe from Alton Brown.

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons shortening

3/4 cup cream (I have used whole or 2% milk as well)

1 egg

Handful dried currants or dried cranberries

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix well. Cut in butter and 

shortening. In a separate bowl, combine cream with beaten egg then add to dry ingredients. Stir in 

fruit. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Roll dough out and cut into biscuit size rounds. Bake for 

15 minutes or until brown.

The thought of scones always intimidated me but a few years ago I took the plunge and have never regretted it.  Then I found this recipe and it's my 'go to' scone recipe now.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Smash Book...

K & Co. Smash Book
LM got a Smash Book and some accessories for Christmas.  I got hers at Micheals - the Micheals that is now closed.  Can you believe that?  In this itty bitty town where there's not much in the way of shopping, one of the only 'fun' places to shop closed its doors at the end of January. Something about rent being raised when the new owners of the mall (I use the word 'mall' very loosely) took over.  Thankfully, we still have a Hobby Lobby.  And they also carry Smash Books.  You can also get them at Amazon and straight from K&Co. They're every where these days.

The idea behind them is having a fun 'girly' place to store all of your keepsakes.  Things like concert tickets, notes, letters, pictures, magazine clippings, etc.  It's kind of like a scrapbook but more random.  You don't spend hours doing one page (in theory)- you just place your keepsakes on the page, add a little note, some stickers, tape - whatever trips your trigger - and move on to the next page.  LM hasn't done much with hers yet but it sits on her bedside table where it's easy to add fun stuff when the mood hits.

As I am getting in my annual 'I really need to organize this office after I am done with taxes' mood, I keep coming across things that I want to keep but don't really want to put in a scrapbook and I am thinking that I need a SMASH book too.  So, I have a little money tucked away for just this fun purchase.  And I just noticed the K&CO website is having a little sale until the end of the month.  Perfect timing.

So, I'm off to shop now.  But first I need to decide which color I want...

Friday, March 8, 2013

20 Sugar-Free Easter Basket Fillers...

Peeps, chocolate bunnies and Cadbury Creme Eggs.  There has to be more to an Easter Basket than sugar, right?  With the size of baskets these days (that's another post, for another time) non-sugar goodies are a must for Easter.  While I don't want Easter to turn into another Christmas-like gift giving holiday, I am always searching for gift ideas to pass on to the Easter Bunny.  Here are my 20 ideas for kids of all ages:

For Little Kids (0-8 years or so)

  • Bubbles
  • Playdoh (we still enjoy that here at 11 years old)
  • Coloring Books and Crayons - there are awesome Easter Bunny & Religious coloring books out there this time of year. 
  • Legos - I love the 'Friends' line that is out for girls now.  The usual cars and trucks and airplanes are still out there for the boys.
  • Small Play Characters - like Little People & Polly Pockets.
  • Sidewalk Chalk
  • Gardening tools - kid sized shovels, hoes and rakes in cute patterns start showing up in stores like Target just in time for Easter.
For Bigger Kids (9+)
  • Magazines - Buy the current issue of a favorite magazine and add a note saying that a year's subscription is on its way.
  • Gift Cards - itunes & Amazon are big around here.  Your local bookstore or Barnes & Noble is also fun.
  • Movie Gift cards - Going to the theater is always a fun activity on a rainy Saturday.
  • Sunglasses
  • Journals - There are so many pretty journals on the market these days.  There's still time to order a personalized one from a site like Minted if you want to splurge.
  • Note Cards - Target has some really cute ones for not a lot of money.  Or get personalized notes from somewhere like American Stationery - one of my favorite places to order from - good prices and service.
For Everyone
  • Books - always a good gift - especially to get the little ones in the habit of reading.
  • Puzzles - LM always loved the little 25 piece puzzles when she was younger and now we do bigger ones as a family that can take days to finish.
  • School supplies - always need them!
  • Paints (watercolors, finger) & paper.
  • Socks - fun & useful.
  • DVD's 
  • Beach towels and toys - it will be summer before you know it. 
Filling Easter baskets can get expensive so I check the dollar store for things like coloring books, school supplies, beach toys, sidewalk chalk & bubbles.  We do a little bit of candy - and fill in with these extra little goodies.  And there's always a toothbrush!

Linking up to Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now.
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Linking up to Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Easter's on its way...

Easter is less than three weeks away.  I know, how is that even possible?  I'm starting to get the Easter decorations out and will try to get everything in it's place by the weekend.  Luckily, I don't have a ton of St. Patrick's day decor so there won't be much competition.

These little guys are out this year.  My mom took most of our Little People to her house so she brought the Easter ones over the other day.  I love the whimsy they provide when decorating for the holidays. It brings back an easier, slower time when LM was little.  Those days are behind us, but not the memories.

Some of my past Easter posts have been fun to look back on so I wanted to share them in case you missed them the first time around:

I am in the middle of working on this little bunny hanging.  I hope to finish it over the weekend so I can share the finished product.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Favorite Money Books...

I am always looking for the newest personal finance book.  I pick them up at the library mostly - some of them are horrible & I stop reading soon after starting.  Some are really great and I end up buying them or checking them out numerous times.  Some of my favorites (in no particular order):

I am a huge Dave Ramsey fan so I love this book.  I think he makes so much sense and what he advises us to do with money is really simple stuff - it's the discipline that's hard.  He shares success stories in this book which I find motivating.  He talks about his 'baby steps' for getting out of debt and offers forms to help with budgeting.

Jean Chatzky has written many books but I like this one a lot.  This book talks about the difference between us and the financially successful - what they do that we don't.  It's good stuff.

David Bach coined the phrase 'the latte factor' - that money we spend everyday without thinking - for lots of us that money is spent on coffee, hence 'the latte factor'.  What could you do with that $5 a day you spend on coffee, sodas, lunch, etc.?  

This book by Suze Orman is one of the first personal finance books I read.  This book will make your re-think your approach to money.  There are quizzes that help you figure out why you think the way you do about money and why you have certain money 'hangups'.  It's like a one-on-one with Suze herself.

If you're looking for a little inspiration to help you save a little more one of these books might be just the ticket.