Thursday, October 27, 2011

So Many Choices for PlaceCards!

This year, we are hosting Thanksgiving Dinner at our house.  Both Mike and I come from very small families... he's an only child;  I have one sister.  So, inviting BOTH sides of the family to come only doubles our number... our six, my sister and her husband, my parents, and Mike's parents.

Nonetheless, we want to be festive and set a pretty table.  I've been trying to find a cute idea for place cards for my kids to make.  Wow!  The choices!

Here are a few of my favorites I've found on Pinterest.

Use pumpkins (why not... they are everywhere!):

You can use the pumpkin as a pinboard to pin the name card.

Just write the name directly onto the pumpkin....

... or just an initial.

Tie on a paper-tag name tag.

Use Found Items around Your House:

Spraypaint a clothespin and attach a simply berry sprig.

Slice corks to lay flat and put a slice at the top for the card...

 A toothpick-flag in a clementine?

Use nature and attach a tag!

Get Crafty:

For the Kids' Table:

Make a Mayflower.

Fill a container with M&Ms and decorate...

 Make a paper pumpkin.

 ...or this way.

Make a 3-D Turkey.

Make pilgrim hats from pots.

Make a wheat stack.

Do you have any other ideas?  
Too many adorable choices!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

All my Cups in a Row

In our last house, I hung my measuring cups/spoons in my cupboard on cup hooks, but the cabinets were thick wood and the cup hooks screwed in just fine.  But in this house, our cupboard doors are very thin.

I saw this at Infarrantly Creative a few weeks back...

A friend of mine saw the above photo on Pinterest, and it inspired her to do her own.  This time instead of using a paint stirrer, she found wood strips at the local craft store.

So, when I was at Hobby Lobby, I also found the wood strips (about $2 for 3').  I painted them black and screwed them into my baking cupboard doors.  Here's the result:

Ignore the cupboard itself... still have a little rearranging to do inside.  Just look at the doors!

The measuring cups on the right.

The measuring spoons on the left.  I bought all new ones... top brand names according to Cooks Illustrated.  Pretty, huh?  Of course the way these are made, I needed to put the super-humongous cup hooks on them.  But actually that works well, they "clang" less against the door now.

I am thinking of lining the inside with felt to lessen the noise, but actually it's not terribly bad.  We'll see if I get around to it!  LOL

Ahhh.... one more organizing project done.  Whew!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yummy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

I kept seeing a can of pumpkin in my pantry, and decided we NEEDED to do something with it!

I found a recipe online for Weight Watchers muffins.  Basically you mix a can of pumpkin with any box of cake mix.  I altered the recipe a tad for gluten-free.  I mixed one box of "Gluten Free Pantry" yellow cake mix with approximately 16oz of pumpkin (I only had the big cans and used more than half).  I then added a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice (I like pumpkin spices!)

I put them into muffin cups.

Here is the final product:

 It's a pretty thick, heavy muffin... but very good!  Especially considering they are gluten-free.  Even the scoops of batter stayed in a perfect ball.  LOL

Next time I might add more pumpkin, and definitely would spray the tins or use foil cup liners.  The muffins tended to stick to the paper.  But they did look pretty!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Doggie Fortune?

Remember that cute little puppy we got back in April?

Yeah... she has gotten a little bigger!

Nothing is safe in this house anymore....

Not shoes.

Not little plastic toys.

Not stuffed animals.

And absolutely NOT food.

She can reach the counter, and even find ways to get up to the top of the island (ew!)

Today, I was upstairs getting ready for the day, when I heard some commotion downstairs.  I found this at her doggie bed:

Can't tell what that is?  Those are two perfectly in-tact fortunes with plastic wrappers nearby.  No cookies, of course. 

Here are what her fortunes were:

Ummmm.... no puppy should get those fortunes.  She was in her crate much of the day.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Container Store

Does anyone live near a Container Store?  

We live approximately an hour from one, but it's still dangerous, especially since it's ultra-cool and not particularly cheap.  :)  
(... but you do save on shipping if you shop at the store, right?)

I had a "Facebook Friend" that lived nearby, was mutual friends with about 20 of my friends, enjoyed similar things as I... yet for two years, we never actually met!  That changed about four months ago when she came to a Thirty-One show I was doing.  Since then, we've discovered we have a LOT in common.  Our first get-together was the Maroon Five/Train concert... that show rocked!  But... I digress... LOL

Last week I went with her to the Container Store.  I had nothing to get, but enjoy looking around, so I joined her.  She had particular items in mind to buy... I was along for company.  So how is it that I spent over $100, and she didn't?  Ugh.

I tried to buy things I've seen nowhere else.  Well, I blew it on a few things, but at least everything was usable!

Aha!  My cookie sheet/muffin tin cupboard is now finally all upright and easy to maneuver.  I had bought one of those maple racks awhile ago, but the cupboard was too big.  I needed a second.  I finally screwed them into the bottom, and now it's all neat and not moving/sliding/falling-out.  Funny how a good flash-photo reveals all the dust I missed in that cupboard.  LOL  See that metal rack in the back (which would be tough to get out?).  Yeah... that's the rack for the microwave.  That thing terrifies me.  Too many rules and pages in the manual dedicated to a metal rack for me to worry about it.  Does anyone out there really use those?  Are microwave companies hoping people will fry their microwaves with them, and it'll not be covered so they'll have to buy a new one?

Ever see these?  Too cool!  It's a little glass beaker-looking-thing that you fill with olive oil.  The lid has an attached silicone brush, and the lid's silicone disc seals the container well.  So, now it's easy-peasy to brush oil on your food/pans/etc.  It just sits on your counter, looking cute.  :)  One word of caution... it's a pretty, delicate glass... not a thick super-sturdy one.  I'm keeping it way back on the counter to prevent any bumps (aka: smashes) by the kiddos.

We are blessed to have the coolest fridge on the market (no pun intended).  Our middle drawer is perfect for holding drinks at a temperature just a little below the normal fridge temps.  I found these little "Fridge Binz" that hold juice boxes perfectly.  Well, they did.  Notice the farthest one... two days ago, it was stuffed full of CapriSun.  And they're gone.  Doesn't take long in this household!
(Note:  the Sparkling Water is mine... so proud of that!  I gave up Diet Coke about 3 months ago, and haven't even had a sip since then!  The Coke is my older children's vice... one a day... you gotta pick your battles, I say.  I grew up guzzling the stuff, so I feel one a day is a nice happy medium.  Ask the kids... they think it's a rotten deal.  Go figure.)

These little doodads are the CS's "trap".  They sit on the little skinny twirly display things near the register.  Last minute "gotta haves".  One is a package of label-holders.  With as many labels as I make on a weekly basis, I figured I'd easily use these.  And the ones on the right have yet to prove to me that they work (haven't tried them yet).  They are a cling that is supposed to be good for stainless appliances... rather than magnets or tape.  We'll see!

I know there were a few other things:  mini shelf-racks for separating my dishes and pots, a butter-stick holder for those partially-used butter-sticks, and a few other things that I are already put away.  But, alas... it is way too easy to spend $101 at the Container Store

... with no list.  Next time, I research on the web first.  Ha!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I joined Blissmobox a few months ago, and I'm hooked.

For just $19/month (+$3shipping), you get an assortment of goodies shipped to you once a month.  A great way to learn of new products.  You get to choose the type of box you want each month.  This month's was awesome:  Teas and Tastes.

Tea and chocolate... oh, I think I'm in heaven!

Three boxes of tea packets (15 packets each).  One bar of 60% dark chocolate with cacao bits.  One box of peanut-butter/chocolate granola bars (which are wheat-free... so my daughter is happy.)  One chocolate chip cookie (vegan).  One bag of dark chocolate covered espresso beans.  

I had to open the bag of chocolate beans right away (which is why the top is ripped open in the photo above.)

Hot tea has become my new staple beverage after giving up Diet Coke back in July (going on three months!!)  Just read a little article in this month's Real Simple about the health benefits of tea, too.  So, I'm a happy girl!

Knowing what tea and chocolate, even the non-organic varieties, costs in grocery stores, this box more than paid for itself.  Yum!

I'm not affiliated with Blissmobox other than being their customer.  But I really enjoy getting their boxes each month.  To look into the details, check out

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tag Sale Finds

My goodies from the Tag Sale:

A four-drawer black dresser with all new silver-tone hardware:  $20
I plan to use this in our guest bedroom once I clean it up a little... it's a bit dusty.  I may distress it a tad more, too.  Hard to see, but the chalkboard on top of the dresser came from another favorite sale location.  I've bought several things from this lady over the years, and she gave the chalkboard to me for free!  It pays to be a loyal-shopper!

A raised-pattern wall plaque:  $10
(Was told the history on this:  an antique portion of a Russian Coat-of-Arms)...
sort of reminds me of the Grand Bouquet Plaque at Ballard Designs, only $219 cheaper.
I'm trying to decide where to put this.  In the "book room" or over a guest bed?

These wire tapers were only a quarter apiece.  I didn't particularly like the sound of the hand creams' scents inside... but I think the wire boxes look a bit Christmas-y.

These were all found at a "pay what you like for charity" sale.  I like those.  I'm usually generous, but also want a good deal.  (I normally hate sales where there are no set prices... I am usually shocked by the high prices they suggest when you ask, too.... $3 for a kids' shirt... at a yard sale?  Really?  I digress....)  I paid $5 for these and a couple other little things for the kids.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these just yet.  All are wood.

Somehow I got tricked into buying this.  Ha!  It's a plug-in glowing soccer jack-o-lantern.  My soccer-loving daughter was with me, and this guy was only $1... so I had to give in.

Cross-hatch Metal Bowl:  $2
This sweet little metal bowl is just the right size for "mini fruit"... these are not normal oranges and apples... they are clementines and tiny apples.  :)

I also picked up a few Jennifer Weiner books (are they any good?) and a shirt for my daughter.  Sometimes I'll get tons of clothes for the kiddos, but for this sale, I decided they are pretty well stocked.  :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Town-Wide Tag Sale

We've lived in our county for ten and a half years now.  We started off living in a small townhouse in the county-seat of our county.  It's a "small town" that keeps sprawling... to the point of being a little more congested than I like.  I appreciate that town, though... since that is where I have to shop at Home Depot, Joann's, Michaels, Target, Costco, Kohls, Outlet Mall, etc.  I plunk a lot of money down in that town.  But we were happy to have moved a little further "out there".... the edge of civilization, as I call it.  We lasted two years and one month in that first town... just long enough to not cause crazy tax problems when we sold the townhouse.

We moved two "small towns" west... to a town I loved (I'll call it PV).  We moved into a typical housing development.  I loved that house... it was a great starter home for a young family... lots of close neighbors.  Most homes looked the know the sort... you never had to ask your neighbors where their powder room was, since you had the same house!  :)

It was a new neighborhood, yet, we were a short 10 minute walk from "downtown"... a small town.  One with a cool-looking stone building as a library;  with the "town hall" on Main Street;  with tree-lined sidewalks; with nearly-hundred year old homes and storefronts that are mingled antique shops, old-time hardware store, coffee shops and family-owned restaurants.

(1900s... buildings are still there today)

This PV town threw the absolute coolest parades I've ever seen.  The Fourth-of-July parade is an hour long... filled with emergency vehicles from every small town nearby and every Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop out there.  Families always had their same location to stake-out while waiting for the parade to begin... with bags in hand to grab all the candy being thrown.  (Our favorite placed became the little wall in front of the above-mentioned library.)

(Yep, a John Deere... love small town parades!)

We moved away from that particular small town, not because we disliked it... but quite frankly because we outgrew the house, and the type of home/yard we desired couldn't be found at our budget-range within the town limits.  So, now we are yet another town further west.  :)  Much much much smaller... and we live about 2 miles north via dirt roads, so we don't have quite the small-town connection here just yet.  I'm still a "PVillager" at heart, but our new town has its own quaint feel too.  Who can beat a Post Office with three parking spaces and almost never a line?  It has what it needs:  a small store, two restaurants (one small and one fancy), one gas station, a fire station, a bank, a community center, a school, a dentist, a doctor's office, a town hall, several churches.

I love this part of the county.  It's filled with these old small-towns.  Some are so small you better not blink when driving by (ours has one major intersection and that's mostly it)... some are bigger and are getting their first Harris Teeter (big news there!)  But alas, the small town feel is just perfect.  Most of the full-time employed residents of our towns work in DC or surrounding crazy-busy suburbs, only to return home to a small town.   

Oh, did I mention I love small towns.  LOVE them!

Anyhoo... that leads me to a tradition that started about 8 years ago in PV.  The Town-wide Tag Sale.  Yes... TOWN-WIDE.  

Um... it's a serious holiday for me.  It goes on my calendar as soon as the next year's dates are announced.

My sister drives four hours every year to come along and find treasures.

It's AWWWWWWWWWWWWE-SOME (imagine that being said all singsongy like Oprah).

When I ask friends around town, "Are you going to the Tag Sale?", I just about fall over when they tell me they can't go due to X's ball game or Y's practice.  

Um.... that's understandable, ... I guess.  But seriously... I plan WAY ahead.  I locate a babysitter (this year:  my dear brother-in-law, Tim and my husband, Mike) and I'm out the door at 6:45am!  There is nothing that will halt this lady when it comes to a town-wide tag sale that is just 10 minutes away.  Even a cold won't halt us... my sister had a miserable cold and still drove 4 hours away to make it this year!

I had my supplies at hand:
 Large tote (the Thirty-One Expand-a-Tote Day Extender this year) at the ready for stuffing,
 a wad of cash in my pocket,
keys in another pocket, 
sunglasses on, 
comfortable shoes on my feet, 
back-seats folded down in the Sequoia, 
and a good-nights' sleep.  :)

We have our plan of attack:
1.  Hit a few big "Off Main Street" sales first.... at 7am, when most sales begin.

(we hit this sale first every year now...she owns a boutique/antique store and this sale has the spillover... I got a dresser here this year)

2.  Park at one side of town.

3.  Take the tote and walk through town on one side, come back the other.  (Fortunately there is a 7-11 at the other end of town for a quick snack and potty-break.)

(from the Tag Sale website)

4.  After doing Main Street and emptying our bags, we hop in the car and hit all the town neighborhoods and side streets.  

(Borrowed from the mayor's FB page... the set-up at Town Hall)

5. Come home when fully exhausted... this year, it was 3pm.

6.  Take a nap.

Next post:  My Tag-Sale Goodies!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wonder Cart!

Despite the cool crafting center downstairs, I find myself usually doing my preschool work up in my bedroom where I have my laptop and desk.  So, the Cricut, laminator and paper cutter are in my closet.  Ugh... yes, my closet.  Beautiful walk-in closet with a window, and it's piled high with preschool books, paper towel tubes, preschool craft projects, files, and the above mentioned "gadgets".  One of these days, the closet will get a serious overhaul... in the meantime, I'm working on the rest of the house.  Isn't that the way... master bedroom and closets are last to get "done"?

I saw Jen at iHeartOrganizing use an Ikea cart to corral her gadgets...

 and it got me thinking.  Unfortunately my Cricut wouldn't fit on the same cart she used.  But I'm sure I could find something.  

I did!
This Whitmor cart was purchased at Amazon for around $33.

I adjusted it in a way to allow the cart to fit under the shelf in my closet (and now I have handles to roll it easily from the top).
Here it is in the corner of my closet, under that shelf.  Cricut on top... laminator on the middle shelf, and paper trimmer on the bottom.  Yes... that is a plastic FILE cabinet in my clothes closet.  :(

Easily rolls out to the room.

Love this!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rustic Book Page Pumpkins

I've seen several book-pages pumpkins out there in blogosphere and on Pinterest.

I decided to try my hands at it.

I made 1" strips out of a book and Mod-Podged them onto a pumpkin, being careful to smooth out the edges and conform to the pumpkin.  (BTW, the pumpkins are .... ahem.... Dollar Tree pumpkins.)  I carved out the stems of each pumpkin.  

Once the pumpkins were dry, I rolled up pages of the books, placed a dab of hot glue at the edges to keep it rolled.  Then I placed them in the holes where the stems were and secured with hot glue.

I then grabbed my pad of Distress Ink and smeared some onto the "bumps" of the pumpkins and along the edges of the "stem".

Then I added a couple of burlap leaves and hot-glued some twine to look like vines.

We call our front room the "Book Room".  It's a long story, but comes from a time when we first moved into our last home and boxes of books were left in the front room.  Now, our front sitting room will forever be known as the "Book Room", despite where we live.  :)

How appropriate to put these little pumpkins in that room!