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Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Real Cu-Tea of a Gift!

I made this wreath in the wee hours of the morning and I think it's just adorable!


12" cardboard cake round (or a piece of cardboard that you cut into a circle)
Scrapbook paper
24 clothes pins
24 tea bags of assorted flavors (I bought a 4 box gift set from Sams Club and I have enough left to make at least one more wreath)
1 soda can tab
Scissors, white glue and a glue gun with glue sticks

The hardest part of this whole project is cutting the cardboard into the wreath shape. I'm guessing an exacto knife with a sharp blade would have made this a LOT easier but of course I only thought of that after the fact. Once you have a card board donut, then you're going to cover it in scrap book paper. Cut the circle to size and then with the center, cut a circle smaller than the hole in your wreath shape and cut a bunch of little tabs that you can fold over and glue to the back of your wreath shape. Now you're going to cut long thin strips from coordinating scrapbook paper to glue on to one side of the clothes pins. Use white glue to attach paper strips to clothes pins. Use the hot glue gun to stick the clothes pins to the wreath making sure that the "mouth" of the pin is pointing to the outside of the wreath. (Leave a gap in the pins for your bow.) Use hot glue to attach the can tab to the edge of your wreath. This will be the hanger so that your wreath can be hung on the kitchen wall. Use ribbon to tie a bow around your wreath. Put a tea bag in each clothes pin (there will be some over lapping, not to worry!) Voila!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Enough Already

This is a picture of our little Christmas tree. It's little and I've decorated and redecorated it multiple times. I seem like the kind of person who would love a giant tree that I decorate each year in some Liberace meets Lady Gaga style. I seem like that kind of person, but I'm not. I love my little tree and I love my little mantle and that's really all the decorating I do for Christmas. Something happened to me. Something very strange sank from my head into my heart and just like Cindy Lou Hoo, I believe that Christmas is in my heart and the rest of this stuff is just stuff. What the what?

That's right. I have bought a few presents and I've wrapped them. I'm waiting on a few more to come in the mail but I am really not worried about it. Big Daddy and I sat down and talked about what we're going to do for each other this year and it's completely reasonable and I'm completely okay with it. I am pretty excited about the idea I came up with for my nieces' gift and I hope they love it too, but I'm not going to cry if it's not a home run. You never know with kids and I'm okay with that.

Today I had the day to myself and I was thinking about my life and once again it hit me that I am married to the most wonderful guy I know and the fact that I found love when I did, in the way that I did and that it's all worked out the way that it has--well I don't want to toss around the word miracle willy-nilly but it kind of applies. I have friends who really really love me and I don't have any secrets with them and I absolutely adore them right back. I have a family that I can't talk about with out getting teary eyed because they are such generous and funny and sweet spirited people and I am bound to them all so profoundly. When I look at all of that with clear eyes it's hard to think of things that I want or need. Seriously. So I celebrate the birth of Christ and I celebrated the grace of God and I celebrate the transforming love that gives me the clarity to see the blessings in my life every day. Peace on earth & good will to all men!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Praise of the Punt!

As some of you know, I went a little crock pot crazy last year. I got a crock pot cook book called Make it Fast Cook it Slow (and subsequently several other crock pot cookbooks) and I just went a little bananas using this amazing little contraption to make dinner out of bits and pieces. What crock pot cooking reminded me (because I have always considered a recipe a template rather than precise instructions) is the it's okay to punt. It's okay to use chocolate chips instead of raisins (they're both brown after all). It's okay to use mustard, soy sauce and any flavor of jelly to make a sauce for chicken or chops. It's okay to use rotini instead of linguini or rice instead of potatoes. It's okay to leave out stuff you don't like. And above all, it's okay if it doesn't turn out amazing. Sometimes it will.

Take my dinner tonight: I have four little pork chops that need to get cooked today. I have some salad dressing that we got for free at a food show and I have some fresh pears. I'm gonna cook those things together. If the flavor works once the meat is done then I'm good and if it doesn't I'll take the juice out and add some soy sauce or some mustard or some cinnamon to give it a little more umph! I'm not afraid because as far as I know this isn't anyone's last meal. It's just dinner and it might be really delicious dinner or it might be "let's not do that again"dinner and either way, it's going to be okay. So take a few chances. Get out your crock pot and start with some easy recipes (chicken, salsa, corn, black beans--cook, shred chicken with two forks and mix in cream cheese. Eat in tortillas. So. Flippin. Good.) and after you've tried a few of those, have an adventure! Go off the grid! Mix it up a little and feel free to punt! You've got my permission.

I'll be back with the results. Happy creative cooking!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Day at a Time

Today I woke up thinking, I've had it. I don't feel strong. I don't feel cute. I don't want to feel like this anymore. I've felt this way before. Lots. Today I got up and did something about it. I did one 15 minute work out. I drank one 8 oz. glass of water. I said one prayer for willingness. It all starts with one.

Dealing with my body, with my weight, with my health is overwhelming . It makes me cry so I push it waaaaaay back to the back of my brain and I try to focus on anything and everything else. I'm ashamed that I've let myself get so out of control and I'm really really really afraid that I will fail again. It's a constant struggle between feeling good about a positive choice and feeling really awful about how big I am and about how far I have to go to get "healthy." I keep reminding myself that I quit smoking this year (which is HUGE) and the very next thought is, and in the process you've eaten your way out of your clothes. And you know what that thought makes me want? A Marlboro and a Frappuccino. So I stop and I pray and I cry a little bit and I decide to do one thing better. Just one. And then I choose again. Just one thing. And then I do the next one thing...

I love to plan. I love coming up with systems and forms and tools for BIG changes. What I'm not so crazy about is following the plan. The twenty day clean plan (while brilliant) lasted about six days. One day at a time isn't just a cute cliche for people like me, it's the only way I can do life. It doesn't mean that I don't make plans or keep a calendar, it just means that the key to success for me is doing today to the best of my ability and letting tomorrow unfold when it comes. It also means that I get to choose my attitude today. I get to choose my outlook today. I get to choose what my focus is and how much energy I devote to productive things and that in and of itself, makes me feel just a little bit stronger than I did when I rolled out of bed this morning.

Peace, love & one day at a time!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas is Coming (the goose is getting fat!)

We have another melt down free holiday under our belts! Thanksgiving only had a hitch or two and I must say that the we are getting much better at working on the fly. Dad and Mary Ann (Steve's parents) weren't able to make it and they were greatly missed. I  McGyvered up some desserts without having to go to the store and no one left hungry.

I had my nieces over for a slumber party on Friday night and we got our decoration on. The first project we did were the beautiful glitter bulbs shown above. This was the easiest project ever. Some how I inherited a couple of strings of outdoor lights and we don't put up outdoor lights. Several of the bulbs were broken and corroded so this was something destined for the trash until I saw this little project on Pinterest! We unscrewed the bulbs, painted them with modpodge and glittered our hearts out! They turned out super cute and are in a glass jar adorning my mantle. The upside to a glitter project with three not so neat girls (and an aunt who's a straight up disaster waiting to happen!) is that not only did we make beautiful crafts but we also made a sparkly rug, a sparkly chair, a sparkly sink, sparkly's like a troupe of fairies came to party at the Love Shack! Honestly, I'm a crafter so things like this really don't bother me, but if you're messphobic, you might want to do any glitter projects outside (someone else's house).

We also painted these lovelies using vinyl stickers I made with my Cricut. The girls painted over the stickers. Believe it or not, I did not tell them how to paint their canvases (which is rare for me!) and I think they turned out super. I told them that we had to wait until the paint was completely dry before removing the stickers, but I lied. I peeled them off as soon as they left to go wash their hands. I've never been known for my patience. As a matter of fact, I hung them on the wall before they were dried so there are a few drippy dots that are all my fault. While my mom would save these forever, I will probably recover the canvases with burlap after Christmas and use them for a new project.

I also wanted to tell you about my photos. If you like the vintage look and feel of these pictures, and if you have an iphone or ipad (they've got to have it for android too, I'd think...), you must get the Hipstamatic app. I don't pay for apps, but I had to have this one and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! (And seriously, it was $1.99 so it's not going to break the bank.) You can mix and match films, flashes and lenses for various effects OR you can just shake the "camera" and it will choose a random combination for you! It comes with plenty of lenses and film to keep you playing for a long time, but there are little in app add ons (.99) that give you even more stuff to play with. Oh, and you can upload from the camera app directly to facebook or twitter! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Feelin' Hot Hot Hot!

This morning it was (finally!) chilly here in North Texas and I needed something warm in my cup. I don't know why it is that when I need coffee the worst, I have such a hard time making myself make it! So I went to the pantry and made a very quick drink mix for mornings just like this.

Auntie Hoot's Mocha Mix

2 cups of sweetener (sugar or sugar substitute)
4 cups instant milk
1 cup dry coffee creamer
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 package of instant pudding (chocolate or vanilla)
1 jar of espresso powder
3/4 cup of cocoa powder

Mix together and store in a ziplock bag. Heat water in microwave & add 1/3 cup of mix and a couple of stale marshmallows. You can dress this up for gift giving by adding crushed peppermint (those soft ones should dissolve nicely in the warm liquid), homemade marshmallows or perhaps a small bottle of adult beverage for spiking. (If you're into that kind of thing.) Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Crafty Fun!

 These are my crazy cute necktie wristlets. They are the perfect little bags to carry a cell phone, ID and keys. I'm making these for Christmas, so if you want one, let me know! $20 for my choice of tie, $18 if you supply the tie. They are also great for ipods, cameras and other small electronics.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Mac Daddy of Mac-n-Cheese

I have discovered the most AMAZING trick for making killer mac-n-cheese EVER! No seriously. Trust me, I'm a fat girl, I know comfort food. First off I have to give credit where credit is due and the original idea came from here. So on with our cheesy epiphany. I must admit that I found the idea of cooking pasta in milk suspect and when I told Big Daddy about this, he thought I was crazy as well but my curiosity was piqued so I decided to try it out.

I didn't have macaroni on hand, but I did have some spirals so that's what I used. I filled a sauce pan about half full of 1% milk. I slowly brought it to a simmer and then added my box of spirals. I  simmered the milk for seven minutes to cook the pasta and that's when the magic happened. You see as pasta cooks, it releases starch into the pasta water. When you cook the pasta in milk, the starch is released into the milk thickening just like it would if you were adding corn starch or flour. So basically in the process of cooking the pasta, you're 2/3 of the way home on a bechamel sauce (a basic white sauce) which is the base sauce for mac-n-cheese. So after simmering for 7 minutes I had a nice thick milky sauce to which I added a couple of fists full of grated cheddar cheese and a three or so tablespoons of butter. Voila! Add a little salt and pepper and you've got some super creamy mac-n-cheese. But wait! you're thinking, I really love the crunchewiness of baked mac-n-cheese! Have no fear my possums, I do too. So then I take the whole delicious, creamy mess and put it in an oiled baking dish, throw a few breadcrumbs on it and bake at 375 until bubbly. Duuuuuuude, it turned out super delish! (If I do say so myself.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gearing up for Giving Thanks

As I've aged, maybe even matured, my favorite holiday has shifted from Christmas to Thanksgiving. An easy case could be made for the fact that Thanksgiving is just easier, but I don't think that's it. I think what has changed is that I have experienced this shift from wanting to get to wanting to share. Honestly that shift has taken a too long and the transformation is by no means complete. What I like most about Thanksgiving is that it's a good time. We invite both sides of our families to our home and we pray, eat, and enjoy each other. It's just that simple.

Here are a few things I'm doing to prepare for out annual Thanksgiving get-together:

  • The 20 Day Clean Plan--each day I've identified one "zone" of the house I'll work on de-cluttering and cleaning. This includes closets and shelves behind doors that usually stay closed. If I complete this mission my house will be MUCH more organized before the real holiday slam begins.
  • The holiday mantle--I love holidays but I can't see decorating from top to bottom every month so I redo my mantle often. Since my living room and dining area are one in the same it packs a punch and is the first thing you see from the front door. The banner reads, "Give thanks" and the chalkboard says, "Count your blessings."
  • I also made a rag wreath for the front door. I should have made it smaller and fuller, but  it's still a cheerful addition to our doorway. 
  • I have made a chalkboard for our bathroom and I've written, "I love you because ______________________." Each day I write down one thing that I love about life with Big Daddy. I know it makes him smile and it's a lot of fun to come up with new ways to let him know he's appreciated. 
  • I am delegating. This year I have made a conscious decision to quit trying to do everything myself. I have wrestled with feeling like I waited a long long time to be one of the "grown ups" and it's my turn to do a whole holiday all by myself. I have had more than one meltdown about feeling like "my holiday" got hijacked and remembering those little episodes makes me cringe. After catering for a over a year, I've discovered is that it's no great privilege to get to do it all yourself and everyone enjoys the meal more when they get to contribute something. So each of the ladies in my family and Big Daddy, will be doing something to prepare our Thanksgiving meal. 
I hope you are taking more than one day to count your blessings and to let those around you know that they are loved. Love and peace to you all.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm baaaaack!

A friend has been asking about what happened to my blog and when I came back to see where I was when I dropped the ball...well now I know why things fell by the wayside...without going into much detail, Big Daddy and I are not new parents and it's okay. No really, we're good. God has taken really good care of us and I absolutely know that what happened was simple biology. God held on to both of us really tightly during that time and Big Daddy and I have experienced so many exciting changes since then. God just keeps sending us love notes. It's all good!

Lately I've been obsessed with cake balls, Valentines Day and cheap dates.

First off, the cake balls. I think I am the last person on the planet to experience them but just in case I'm not here are the basic instructions. If you want something a little snazzier, check this out! Want to try some? Contact

I've been making valentines. I've made a series of sarcastic cards for single girls and I've also been making valentines with a black white and red as my palate.

Look a few pictures that inspired me:
This one is from

Or check out this at

Okay, just one more from (I am a garland/banner freak!)

And yes, I'm still searching out new and fun ways to continue to date my sweet Big Daddy. This week I scoured the interweb for great ideas for thrifty dates. Here are my top 10 favorites:

1.Dollar movie with snack smuggling.

2.Tonight we go for a drive together where you only stop or turn when you encounter a street that starts with the one of our initials.
3.Tonight we are spies. We need to go to the mall & we have to choose someone to follow until we cannot follow them any farther. Then the other person gets to choose who we follow.
4. Tonight’s main event is the $10 shopping spree. Each of us gets $10 and 1 hour to locate and purchase a gift for each other.
5. Tonight we’re going to play games at Starbucks. Banangrams, Everyword or Blokus will all work!
6. Heads or tails driving: Before you get to an intersection, flip the coin. Heads we turn right; tails we turn left.
7. Let’s play bingo with daubers and the crazy bingo grannies!
8. It’s a picnic! Let’s go to the market to shop for our meal. Our limit is just 5 items so let‘s choose wisely.
9. We're going to feed the ducks!
10. It’s a Coinstar date! First we cash in the change and that’s our budget for dinner.

I'm starting a date bag, where I put all my ideas in a bag and on Fridays when we're stumped, we can pick a date from the bag.