Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Still here

I have to be one of the worst bloggers ever!  I'm trying to take advantage of my down-time and do some catching up.  Wait...me?  Have down time?  How did that happen?  Well, there are two reasons.  First, I finally graduated in May!!!!  It has been SO nice to not have to worry about homework and finals but, in a weird way, I kind of miss it.  I'll go back someday.

The rest of it has to do with a little person due to join our family in June.  We're so excited!  Baby #4 will be a welcome addition to our bustling house.  So far, though, I've been very sick and very tired.  It takes everything I have just to take care of the kiddos and do the bare minimum around the house.  Christmas shopping has been done almost exclusively online, and the presents I intended to make are on hold until I can muster up enough energy (and clear enough floor space) to get them done.  Thank you for your patience!

"Thank you" jewelry sets

For my boys' end-of-the-year thank you presents, I made each of their teachers and the school nurses (they've been lifesavers since Benjamin's diabetes diagnosis) jewelry sets.  They were a big hit!  It was fun to finally use the turquoise and opaline beads, as well as the silver beauties that have been waiting around.  (Please excuse the poor photography.  Editing can only do so much to fix poorly lit pictures taken late at night.)

 I've had these beads forever.  I've used a few here and there for earrings, but I love how the set came together and how the earthy tones are brightened by the lighter shades.
 I could not get the picture to do this set justice.  The turquoise beads are made of beautiful stone with a nice weight.  I interspersed them with opaline (gorgeous!) and tiny silver beads.

 One of my favorites!  Again, couldn't get a picture to accurately depict the color and texture.  The turquoise stone beads of beautiful detail, and I love how they pop against the silver.

This one was really fun.  I love black onyx, but it needed some dressing up.  The silvery shells are a nice complimentary contrast, if that makes sense, and make this set more versatile.  It can be worn casually or to a holiday party.

What is it about turquoise that makes it so hard for me to photograph????

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer & Recipes

Holy moly, what a summer!  It started with me working a LOT more than I wanted to (I took the last month off, though), continued with swim lessons, day camps, visits with family (BOTH of my sisters live in-state now!), camping trips for the boys, swimming and playing with friends, and a little bit of crafting and sewing thrown in there, but now school is ready to start again.  Tomorrow!!!  I will have two boys in full-time- Kindergarten and 4th grade- and my baby will start 3-year-old preschool.  WOO HOO!!!!!

I have pictures and details coming, but for now I want to share a blog that has some AMAZING recipes!  Last night, I went through just the desserts and printed out several I want to try. 
 Starting with these...
Seriously, how yummy do these look???

The blog is called Six Sisters' Stuff.  They have crafts and recipes and things for family, too- tons of fun stuff.  You should check it out!  I'm going to check out their dinner ideas (especially the crock pot ones) next. 

Catch you later!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Free Silhouette Files

If you have a Silhouette you probably know about the free shape of the week.  If you didn't know, Silhouette offers a free shape every week.  Just go to https://www.silhouetteonlinestore.com and click on FREE shape of the week on the Home page.  Anyway, I wanted more free stuff (who doesn't?) and stumbled upon two awesome sites.

The first is enchantart.com.  They have instructions on how to get 44 shapes for FREE.  Seriously!  I just did it and it totally works.  (Just be careful because not all of them that pop up are free.)

The second site is A Spoonful of Sugar.  This amazing woman makes her own shapes and offered some for FREE on her blog!  They are super cute and I'm super impressed.

I also found quillingpatch.com but haven't checked them out yet.  Looks like fun, though!
I can't wait to start creating again.  I'm LOVING being a free woman!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Something BIG

I've spent the last couple weeks sprucing up the house.  Actually, I've spent the last couple weeks tearing the house apart, sorting through our crap, and reorganizing, but it WILL be spruced up in 13 days.  It HAS to be since I invited a ton of people over for my graduation celebration.  =)  Anyhoo...in preparation for one of my BIG kitchen projects, I spent $150 at Home Depot today.  It will be totally worth it, and I will be doing a bulk of the work all by my big girl self.  I'm SO excited to use power tools, wood stain, and Liquid Nails!!!  Can you guess what I'm planning???

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pinewood Derby Cars

Well, helloooooo!!!  I found a few minutes to post a quick picture of our latest project.  These cars were decorated very much at the last minute, but it really didn't take that long thanks to Expressions Vinyl and my handy dandy Silhouette!

I cut the flames for my 5-year-old's car out by hand (yeah, they aren't that great) from yellow, orange, and red adhesive vinyl and then layered them on: longer yellow flames first, then medium orange flames, and short red flames last.  I'm sure you could have figured that out, but there you go.

The images for the white car were found online.  My 9-year-old is OBSESSED with Beyblades and wanted to use those images only.  We could only find the Pegasus (in orange- it was supposed to be red but I just now realized I did it wrong) so he settled for a manly lion instead of Ldrago for the red (was supposed to be orange).  I saved the found images, opened them in the Silhouette Studio, sized them to fit on the car, selected the trace area, hit "Trace" and voila!  Easy-to-cut-out images that I sent through my Silhouette and then transferred onto the car like you would transfer any other vinyl onto any other project. 

Here's a tip for you, though:
Regular adhesive vinyl does not stick well to painted wood.  Either use sticker vinyl (like permanent or outdoor) or be prepared to apply a coat of sealer or Mod Podge or something.  We'll have to do that to the cars later since I was short on time today and the boys are at the race now.

SO...good news!  I will be OFFICIALLY DONE WITH SCHOOL in two weeks!!!!  My classes will be finished by the 8th and my only final is a take-home that has to be turned in by the 10th.  How awesome is that!?  Graduation is on the 11th and my PARTY is on the 12th!!!  There WILL be cheesecake.

Thanks for hanging in here with me!  I'm almost free and then will have more fun time.  PLUS, my super craft and artsy sister is going to be in the state for the WHOLE SUMMER, so there's extra motivation to actually complete some projects.  =)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Picking up some slack...

Yes, we're still alive!  It's been a busy month with a lot of work stuff (love my internship!), school stuff (55 days till graduation!!!) and medical stuff (Benjamin gets his insulin pump very soon but has been fighting chronic headaches; David had RSV, pneumonia, and needs tubes put in his ears again after 3 double ear infections in 3 months).   Plus, my little monkey boy Davey-Doo had his 3rd birthday this week!

And how could I forget?!?  The JDRF walk!!!  Our team raised over $2,500, and all the teams together raised over $2MILLION!!!!!  How amazing is that?!?  So, a HUGE "Thank you!!!" to everyone who donated.  It was a blast, Benjamin was thrilled to see he's not alone, and the support was incredible.  

More than 22,000 at the Mall of America for the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes

Our team!  One of the dads designed our t-shirts.  We looked fabulous.

This super cool picture is made entirely of LEGOS.  Can you believe it!?
I've been trying to scatter some other fun stuff here and there, too.  We've made several trips to the AWESOME Minnesota Children's Museum, visited my parents and my husband's family, and spent a beautiful day at a free zoo with friends.  Does it get any better than that??

Why, yes, it DOES get better!  I went out with a friend last night to The Cheesecake Factory without kids, and ate my fill of Greek salad, avocado egg rolls, stuffed mushrooms, and artichokes.  That, my friends, is what HEAVEN tastes like.  I was so stuffed with deliciousness we had to take my key lime cheesecake home with the leftovers.  Then, today, I went on a DATE with my hubby to see Hunger Games (SO good!) and then to Olive Garden for dinner.  More leftovers!!!  I don't want this weekend to end!

OK.  So.  Obviously, there hasn't been a lot of time left over for crafting, but here are a few projects I forgot to post before.

These were Christmas presents.  I made them for my sisters' families, and one for the friend who thought of this cute and easy idea.  We found the tree at the Silhouette store and cut it out of brown vinyl.  The names were also cut out with the Silhouette, and the tiles cost less than $1 each at Home Depot.

Of course, these were for Valentine's Day.  I figured most kids get WAY more candy than they will ever need, so we got creative.  
For my preschooler, I got the frog idea from the Crap I've Made blog (she's amazing, and her stuff is hardly crap!) and then was  inspired to do something similar with the dinosaurs.

The pencils were for my 3rd grader's class.  They think these pencils are the best. My husband thinks they're annoying and dangerous.  Maybe he should take care of the valentines next year, huh?

And just for fun, who can tell me what movie inspired this hilarious photo?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A good cause

I posted before about how my 9-year-old was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes the day after Christmas.  Welllll, Saturday is our first JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes.  We have had SO many generous donations (my son's 3rd grade class even has a collection going) but our team still needs almost $500 to reach our goal.  If you are willing and able, will you please click here donate and help spread the word? 

*****Tomorrow (Friday) is our last day to collect donations before the walk.*****

Here are the boys' stories so you know a couple of kids this money will help:

On December 26th, 2011, Ben was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, Fortunately, Jacob, a classmate of Ben's has been a rock and support for Ben as he too has Type 1 Diabetes and was diagnosed four years ago.  Ben and Jacob both are supported by their best friends, Ethan and Kyle Milteer who have taken a strong interest in learning about this health condition and together, the boys are raising funds to help find a cure.

In support of Ben & Jacob and all the other kids with Type 1 Diabetes, we, their family and friends are taking the steps to help achieve JDRF's mission: to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.  The money our JDRF Walk Team raises will go directly to support this life-changing research.

The JDRF Walk is a fantastic way to make a difference in the millions of lives of people affected by type 1 diabetes.  We are asking for your support. Now more than ever, EACH of us can make a real difference in the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.
Please read Ben and Jacob's personal stories below to learn more about these awesome kids and the strength and courage they have displayed in managing the daily health challenge.

Jacob's Story
Jacob Vang has always been a compassionate, caring and helpful boy. He is a big social bug and is super friendly with everyone he meets. Jacob, who is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade was 1st diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 5. It was the week before the start of kindergarten and he was really looking forward to starting school. Instead, he was admitted to Children's Hospital where he stayed for 1 week. Returning to school, his days consist of frequent visits to the nurse?s office for his routine glucose checking. Suddenly, our son's care free childhood was taken away and in its place was a childhood that would be burdened with responsibilities and challenges regarding his health.
Now almost 4 years later Jacob speaks proudly of his diabetes and never hesitates to educate anyone at school that is curious about this auto-immune condition. Since that life changing event we, as a family, have changed the way we live and view life for the better. We are extremely proud of Jacob for his continued courage and strength in tackling the daily responsibilities and for always brightening stranger's faces with his positive attitude about living with Type 1 diabetes.

Ben's Story
Benjamin Osborne is 9-years-old and in 3rd grade.  He has always been a smart, sensitive and thoughtful boy.  I've called him an old soul, but he can also be pretty silly and loves to make people laugh.  He was diagnosed with diabetes the day after Christmas.  We didn't know how he would take this life-changing news and braced ourselves for the worst.  When he was younger, Benjamin was often anxious and hypersensitive and we were afraid the diagnosis would undo all the progress he?s made in the last 4 years.  In the emergency room, he quickly went from being afraid to incredibly angry, but he surprised us by accepting his new life within a day of being admitted to Children?s Hospital.  
The two days in the hospital were frustrating and overwhelming for him, but we are so impressed with how courageous and proficient Benjamin has become in the short amount of time since then.  The boy who was terrified of getting a flu shot a couple months ago now takes his insulin injections without complaint.  He has even started checking his glucose all by himself and is suddenly very mature and responsible, always checking nutrition labels and remembering to take his ?go bag? of diabetes management supplies whenever we leave the house. Benjamin has had to do a lot of growing up in a very short amount of time, and we couldn't be more proud.  He has a long road ahead of him, but he has been blessed with friends and family who will support him every step of the way.  We appreciate everyone who has helped our family in so many ways, and are grateful for all those who contribute to the work to find a cure for diabetes. 

Kyle       Jacob       Ben       Ethan

Thank you for taking the time to visit our page and we thank you for supporting the research through your donations and time if you can join us for the walk.
Ben & Jacob's Buddies

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tater-tot Crock Pot dish revisited

I made it again today, but used cram of chicken soup and Mexican mix cheese with taco seasoning. Not quite as delicious, but still really good! My picky eater husband even asked got seconds, and he doesn't usually go fir "hot, pasty stuff". =)

I only cooked it for 3 hours on high, stirring frequently.
(Please excuse the poor quality of the photo.  My camera is missing so this was taken with my phone.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tater-tot Crock Pot Meal

We had a potluck after church meetings last Sunday that I completely forgot about until late Saturday night.  Sunday morning, I scrambled to find something (anything) that I could throw in a Crock Pot and take with us.  It was kinda based on recipes I've used in the past, but I mostly did what sounded good to me. 

Here's what I used:
  • 1 bag of frozen tater-tots (I also added about a cup of frozen hash browns I had in the freezer)
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (I think it was reduced fat, but any kind is fine.  Cream of chicken would be good, too.)
  • 1-1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of French fried onions
  • a generous scoop of lite sour cream (probably about 2/3 cup- regular sour cream would be fine)
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese

Mix everything together really well in the crock pot, cook on high for 3 hours (stir occasionally) and then on low for another hour.  Stir before serving.

This was soooo good!  I liked it even better than the recipes I've used, and the bowl was scraped clean at the end so I'm guessing other people liked it, too.  =)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Some helpful hints

Here are a few things that I do to make life a little easier.

For dinner prep:
  • Cook a whole bunch of chicken ahead of time, slice or chop it, and store it in an airtight container (or zip-lock bag) and store it in the fridge.  I bake about 8 chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet with sides, sprinkle it with sea salt and pepper (or seasoning salt or whatever seasoning sounds good), and bake it at 350* for 30-45 minutes (or however long it takes to cook all the way through).  Turn them over about 20 minutes into it, though, and season the other side (optional).  I like to slice mine into thin strips because I can always chop it up more later if necessary.  This is great for adding to casseroles, salads, soups, pasta with Alfredo sauce, or heating up with a little taco seasoning for a taco/taco salad fix.
  • Don't you hate using a rubber scraper to try and get the last of the pasta sauce out of the jar?  Just put a scoop or two of your cooked noodles in the jar, replace the lid, shake a few times, and dump everything out.  Viola!  An empty sauce jar without the hassle.
  • When I was about to have my third baby, I started thinking about how to simplify our meals even more since I knew the baby would be occupying most of my time and energy after the birth.  To create fast meals with variety, I put a few chicken breasts (sometimes cut up, sometimes whole) in gallon zip-lock bags, added our favorite marinades and seasonings, and popped them in the freezer.  In the morning, I would decide what I wanted to make, pull that bag out to thaw on the counter or fridge, and then when it was closer to dinner time I could throw the chicken in the oven (in an oven-safe baking dish, of course), cook up some pasta/rice/potatoes and vegetables, and dinner is done.   
Some of our favorite marinades/seasonings include Italian dressing (with rice), garlic and ginger with a little soy sauce (with rice), Montreal seasoning (it comes labeled like that in the spice aisle- served with potatoes), taco seasoning (in tortillas or with chips), and pesto (I buy it in the jar).

To remove stains:
  • Blood: Rinse out as much as possible with cold water and then pour hydrogen peroxide on what's left.  It will bubble and fizz like crazy!  You may have to repeat these steps a few times, but it works really well on fabric, upholstery, and fabric.  *DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee this method will not affect any color the fabric may have, but I haven't had a problem with anything getting bleached or faded.  
  • Ink on clothes: Spray the heck out of it with hairspray, soak it in detergent and water, and wash.
  • Crayon in the laundry: OK.  There are lots of methods for removing crayon, but this method worked for me the last two times a crayon went through the wash and dryer.  First, scrape off as much leftover crayon as you can (you know those brown Pampered Chef scrapers?  Those things are perfect, but a butter knife also works).  Don't forget to scrape out anything left in the washer and dryer, too.  Wash everything again on the hottest setting possible with lots of detergent.  Check everything for missed spots before transferring the laundry to the dryer.

Friday, January 6, 2012

My first guest posting ever

I'm guest posting on Sumo's Sweet Stuff today, one of my favorite blogs.  EEK!  It's my first gust post ever, to this is really exciting.  Go ahead, take a peek.  She's pretty awesome.  Thanks, Sumo!

Welcome, Sumo fans!  Thanks for visiting my blog.  Please have a look around and feel free to leave a comment and follow me, too.  I love getting to know new fun, creative people.  =)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Our 2011 Ornaments

As promised, I have completed our family's 2011 ornaments I posted about here
They're not as festive as my inspiration, but I like them.  I started out with green thread but then switched to red and think that looks much better.  A thicker ribbon would have been easier to sew in, but I made what I had work.  What do you think?
Since I didn't have the time or inclination to sort through my 10 boxes of fabric to find usable scraps, I went to JoAnn's and looked at the fat quarters that were on sale for 99-cents and found four coordinating patterns that I think work well together.  With my 15% off coupon I got enough fabric to make several dozen more.  Ha ha!
Maybe I'll decorate the trees later with buttons or something, but for now I'm just happy to have them done before we pack away the rest of the Christmas decorations.  =)

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This is one of my all-time favorite appetizers, but it often turns into an entire meal.  So easy, so yummy, and somewhat healthy.  Hey, it has vegetables in it, right?

Here's what you need:
 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (or 9-12 ounces of fresh spinach microwaved on high for 2 minutes and squeezed dry)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened (low fat or fat free is OK)
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise (light is OK)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (I never use this)
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Here's what you do:
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients; mix well. Spoon into a
microwave-safe 9-inch pie plate and heat in microwave oven at power level 8
(80%) for 3 minutes. Serve immediately (although it's still totally delicious if you refrigerate and reheat later). Great with an assortment of crackers or breads. Bon Appetite!

Flowers in her hair

I made these fun hair pins a couple weeks ago while relishing my new-found school-and-homework-free time.  =)
 Would anyone be interested in seeing these in my Etsy shop?  They are perfect for girls of any age (even you, Mom!) and would make great gifts or party favors.
Please send me a message or leave a comment if you are interested. 
Have a beautiful day!


Birthday Shirt

My middle child turned 5 right before Christmas!  He is such a sweet boy who doesn't ask for much.  The only thing he wanted for his birthday is a puppy, and that just wasn't going to happen.  
Since his birthday is just 2 days before Christmas, we usually celebrate with family and do our best to make it his special day.  This year, we had pancakes for breakfast, my parents took him bowling and to McDonald's for lunch, and we made him a fun birthday shirt (along with a few other presents).  
I'm actually pretty proud of my husband.  He's the one that found the perfect font (it's called "Creepy") and figured out how to use my Silhouette to cut it out of Expressions Vinyl T-shirt vinyl in green (the birthday boy's favorite color).  
We've never used iron-on vinyl before, but it was super easy and worked really well.
This shirt is perfect for my funny 5-year-old.  He was SO excited to wear it!  I have an iron-on create-your-own monster that I got on clearance at Target that we will add to the front this afternoon to complete the look.  I can't wait to make another one for our next birthday boy in March!

CTR Christmas Ornament

Until mid-December, I worked with the kids ages 3-11 at church in Sunday school (we call it Primary) and have done so for most of the last 14 years. The women in charge of the Primary like to give each child a present at Christmastime, usually an ornament that will help them remember the true meaning of Christmas. 

This year, we gave them all an ornament decorated with a CTR shield; CTR stands for "Choose the Right," a motto to help them remember to make the right choices at all times, even when it's hard and even if no one is looking. 

I can't remember where I saw the inspiration for this ornament (I will happily give credit where credit is due if someone can point me towards the source) but I LOVE how they turned out! 

Most of them were green with a gold CTR shield, but some were red with gold, and others were silver with red. I'm so sad I forgot to take pictures of all of them.
Aren't those cute?  I used my Silhouette to cut out the decal from Expressions Vinyl in Metallic Gold.  The tricky part was getting it to lie flat on a curved surface, but it was a pretty easy gift overall.  
The kids loved them and the adults were super impressed.  So fun!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Our 2011 photo book

I'm not a scrapbooker.  Instead, every year I do a photo book for each kid to show what they did in between each birthday, and then I create a family one that covers each calendar year.  We keep a copy of the family one for ourselves and give a copy to the grandparents and great-grandparents for Christmas.  Our copies of all of the books are displayed in the living room so everyone can enjoy remembering all the adventures we've had together.
I love Shutterfly! They make the creation process super easy, and the new options for customizing are AWESOME.
Here is our family's 2011 photo book.  Happy New Year!

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly photo books offer a variety of layouts and cover options to choose from.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I learned in 2011

I can do ANYTHING. 
With the Lord's help, NOTHING is impossible. 
I'm sure 2012 will continue to prove that. =) 
Here's to a happy, healthy and successful new year!