Friday, November 29, 2013

Stamped Clay Ornament

Tis the season for homemade Christmas ornaments.

This year, I participated in a handmade ornament swap with a bird theme. I didn't really have the time to sew something...so it was a time to get creative.

I took an idea from my girls who love to stamp images into their playdough and figured I could turn that in to a handmade ornament.



Kato polyclay was the perfect medium. It is soft, rollable...and will bake up firm in the oven.


Take a good chunk of the clay and kneed it until it becomes soft. Then, place it between two sheets of waxed paper and roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness.


Remove the waxed paper and press the stamp into the clay.  Using a knife trim away the excess...I did mine in a rectangle shape. I used a chopstick to make a hole near the top for the ribbon.

Stamps with intricate detail don't really work well with this project. The details just get too hard to see.

Bake the clay according to package directions. 





You could stop here with the ornament. But, I found the details a bit difficult to see. 

I used a versamark ink pad over the top of the ornament then sprinkled with embossing powder, following up with my heat gun at the end.


Different amounts of embossing powder give different effects. I think they all turned out great!





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Thursday, November 21, 2013

$100 Shutterfly giveaway!

Hey, friends! Earlier this week, I shared with you a fun way to keep track of birthdays using luggage tags I ordered from Shutterfly.Over the past two weeks, you may have seen a number of other bloggers sharing about their own experiences with Shutterfly gifts this holiday season. If you missed some of those, be sure to check out LooksiSquare tomorrow for a very special collection showing you a variety of gift ideas for everyone on your holiday list! In the meantime, as part of the Looksi and Shutterfly collaboration, Shutterfly is offering all of you the chance to win $100 credit! Think of the photo gifts or Christmas cards you could order!

shutterfly giveaway button

shutterfly photo gifts

Rafflecopter will walk you through the entry process! You'll notice that one of the ways to enter is by submitting your own posts about projects you've done with photos to LooksiSquare.com; we'd love to see what you've done with pictures too! Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Luggage tag birthday reminders

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Shutterfly partnered with Looksi . Product compensation was received for this post, however all opinions are mine.


My mother-in-law has 6 children, each married, twenty-two grand children and 2.5 great-grandchildren. That's nearly three dozen birthdays she needs to keep track of!

It's insane. 

Until my green bean casserole loving sister-in-law, Shannon, had her two girls, there were no birthdays in September. That was grandma's month off. 

Over the years, Grandma has come up with several methods for keeping track of the birthdays, ranging for an wonderful spread sheet to a small calendar in her purse to pre-made and addressed and stamped birthday cards, with the month written on the back of the envelope.

For Christmas this year, I wanted to make her something portable and durable to list the birthdays.

When I saw the luggage tags on Shutterfly.com, I knew right away this was the perfect solution!


I used a basic photo editing program to create a 2.5x3.5 blank image, then added text, dividing three months of names and birthdays on to each tag.


As you can see, April is a very full month! And, when my new great niece or nephew arrives this spring, the info can be added to the back of the luggage tag with a sharpie.

What I love most about the shutterfly tags is they are sturdy! These aren't your cheap paper or thin plastic tags. They can take a beating in a full purse or survive being clunked around on actual luggage.

I am a terrible at surprises, so I did tell my mother-in-law about this gift and she is really excited for it. She's asked me several times when I'm actually sending it to her. Don't worry...it will be there by Christmas!

Don't forget to Enter to WIN a $100 Shutterfly Giftcard so you can create your own practical gift this holiday season! 

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanksgiving Menu



November has sped right by. It always does.

Leelee's birthday party is this weekend. Her birthday is usually within a few days of Thanksgiving.

I'm especially glad for a later Thanksgiving this year as it gives me a bit more time to prep.

Over the last few years, I've been experimenting with recipes, trying to find the perfect combination my family loves. So far, I've found the perfect turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes,  pumpkin and pecan pies, jell-o salad and green beans.

I'm still on the hunt of an amazing roll that I can turn out perfectly each time. 

It's only taken me nearly 20 years.

Before I share all these wonderful recipes, you need to know that our green bean recipe is not green bean casserole. The only time that particular recipe crosses our table is when Aunt Shannon visits and her family just moved to Italy. She's not coming for Thanksgiving this year.

This also means it's just our family, unless I can scrounge up some folks to come over!


I found our turkey recipe on FoodNetwork. It's Emeril's Big Bird. I don't do the giblet gravy. Like the green bean casserole, my family just finds it very, very wrong.

For the dressing (not stuffing, because it's on the table and not in the bird), we use a recipe full of wonderful fall flavors. This recipe is part of a larger holiday dish recipe, but we only use the dressing.

The mashed potatoes just boils down to my secret ingredient: I use chicken stock instead of milk and a generous amount of pepper. The sweet potatoes are also just regular baked sweet potatoes. Nothing fancy. I let everyone add their own toppings: butter, brown sugar or marshmallows.

The family also loves my caramelized green beans


The pumpkin pie is a brown sugar topped pie. It's supposed to be topped with walnuts, but we always have an ample supply of pecans so I use those instead.

This year, I am skipping the pecan pie. As much as I love the pecan pie, I'm actually the only one who loves it. That means I'm the only one who eats it. Not happening this year. I'm thinking Lemon Meringue.


Do you have a must-try recipe for Thanksgiving? I'd love to hear about it. Even though the family considers our menu perfect, I'd love to add a new thing here or there :)




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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11 DIY Nativity Ideas


Every year, our church participates in a local Interfaith Nativity Exhibit. As the name implies, people of a variety of faiths share their nativity sets and allow people to view them. The sets come from all over the world and run from the small to the grand. Every nativity is welcome!

The exhibit is made even more special with local individuals, churches and schools performing sacred music. It culminates with a Christmas Devotional Sunday night.

This event, more than anything, really gets our family ready for Christmas.

But here's the thing. . . I don't really like my nativity set. I've had it for 20 years and it's cute, but it's not really my style any more. It was when I first received it when I was 19.

I figured with the internet around, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to have more than one nativity...especially if it's one I made myself. Here are a few of my favorite nativity projects, some of which you can do in a day and a few others may need more time (which is why I'm posting these ideas NOW!)

If you want to see more of my Christmas finds, be sure to follow my Christmas board on Pinterest!



Clothes Pin Nativity Scene by Delineate Your Dwelling




Pallet Nativity by Passion Pink and Pearls



Nativity Blocks by Ivory Bloom



Nativity Stocking Holder by U Create




Small Wooden Nativity by 36th Avenue



Nativity Peg Dolls + Download by Lil Blue Boo




Felt Wall Nativity by My Crazy Blessed Life



Nativity Ornament by Better Budgeting



Felt Nativity + Download by What Madeleine Loves



Nativity Advent Calendar by Cutesy Crafts


Nativity Magnets by Every Day Mom Ideas



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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Holiday Photo Cards with Minted.com

This post was written by me on behalf of Minted.com. I have received compensation for this post, however, all opinions are mine.

One of the tasks I dread most about the holidays, is sending out cards.  I spend so much time looking at cards before I decide what I want to use. I gather my addresses, label the cards...and decide to go to the post office the next day. And the next day. Or the day after that.

Basically, I never really ever make it to the post office.

I have stacks of signed and addressed cards from several years that never made it to the recipients.

It's shameful.

For some reason, I never seem to be able to complete the Christmas card task.

I have to wonder, though, if I found a really awesome photo card it would be different. Especially if I found a really different photo card. One that screamed The ADD Housewife Family!

Minted.com has so many unique card designs beyond the standard top/bottom names in the solid colored area type cards. Not that there's anything bad with the basics. Don't get me wrong. I just really love unique ideas. And, my holiday heart is made even happier with their Address Assistant...where your cards arrived already addressed!

The first card that caught my eye was this round card. I love the quote, too!


But, with all my kids...we're just not going to fit on a card like that. Or this one, even though it's so stinkin' cute!



The one card that stopped me in my tracks and I fell instantly in love with is this one that kills two birds with one stone: The required Christmas card and the dreaded Christmas Letter. A card that would make my life a tiny bit simpler by not having to stuff a letter in with the card? WIN!


So it's not a long Christmas letter, but it gets the point across. The year was awesome. The kids would all fit in the picture. Perfect!

After I was done looking at the holiday cards, I decided to click around the rest of Minted and found that they do more than just cards. They also have customized art, stationery, and even photo backdrops. I was really impressed with the selection done by all of these independent artists and designers!




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers

First a warning: This recipe is not cheaper than buying a box of cheese crackers at the store. If you are looking to save a dime or two, then just skip the recipe... especially with coupons.

But, this recipe is healthier. A lot healthier.

And ridiculously easy to make.



For some reason, I was really reluctant to make these. I've been looking at cheese cracker recipes for quite some time. I just could never bring myself to commit to making them. I had it in my head that homemade crackers were time consuming.

After a really bad day, I needed to do something productive besides cleaning and working in the garden.

I needed to do something nice for everyone I snapped at.

Homemade snacks always seem to do the trick around here. Usually brownies, but I was still a bit frustrated... so whole wheat cheese crackers seemed a nice alternative. Nice and homemade, but also healthy.

The dough mixed up quickly. I made two batches, one with cheddar and one with Swiss.  Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness and use a pizza cutter to trim it in to one inch squares.  I used the small end of a chop stick to poke a hole in the middle...because real cheese crackers have holes.



The cheese taste gets stronger once the crackers have cooled. The kids snatched them up before I got a good picture of the first batch.



Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers Recipe

1 1/2 C shredded cheese (the stronger flavor, the better)
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C butter 
1/4 t salt
2 T cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first four ingredients together with your fingers until it resembles crumbles. Sort of like you mix a pie crust. Add in the cold water and continue mixing until the dough comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/8 in thickness. Cut into squares using a pizza cutter. 

Place squares on to parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Cool completely.


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Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Mantle

For a few days, fall is taking over the mantle again.

Halloween is done and I felt like I should give some mantle-time to Thanksgiving before it looks like  Christmas barfed all over completely takes over our house.

It's not a fancy mantle by any stretch, but with how hectic things are right now, taking the simple "toss things up to decorate" approach seems quite sensible.



And yes, in the reflection, you can see the beginnings of the Christmas invasion.



I'm just itching to decorate for Christmas.

Or to find some sort of transitional Thanksgiving to Christmas decor.

In two weeks, I'm hostessing a Soda Stream House Party that is supposed to have a Christmas holiday theme. But, I don't think my Thanksgiving guests will totally appreciate the house being completely Christmas by then.

I'll be sure to post the pictures of what I come up with to merge the holidays.

Meanwhile, I'm spending most of  my days substitute teaching. And, Santa arrives at the mall Friday. My  days are going to be very long. I may only be able to decorate in spurts.

I'm curious to know how you make the transition between the holidays? Or do you? Are your decorations there one day and gone the next?