Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas ornament swap

Once again I participated in a Christmas ornament swap. I received so many cute ornaments. 

The plan this year was to have one tree full of handmade woodland ornaments. But, the whole Costco being out of trees meant we had to use my tree as the family tree. None of my beautiful woodland ornaments made it on the tree. Maybe next year!

Before I share the ornaments, I wanted to show poor Chester. I found him at Dirt Cheap for just $1. He needed a home and a little glue...

Soon enough he was good as new!

His birdie friend doesn't have s name yet.  Chester was more than happy to oversee the unpacking of his forest friends...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Home Tour

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house
Only mother was scurrying not quite quiet as a mouse
The stockings weren't hung by the chimney with care
And mother was glad St. Nick wasn't soon to be there

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of finals danced in their heads.
Father in his PJs all ready for his nap,
And mother silently cursing, "Now, where did I put that?"

When from out of the closet mother created such a clatter,
Father slid from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the living room, he groggily puttered
Tore open the door, rolled his eyes and muttered:

"What are you doing, up at this hour so late?
Is it really worth it to make the house look great?"
When what to his tired eyes should appear
but a great big mess and adhesives that won't adhere

With a jingle and jangle and a little thud
I just knew my Christmas tour was a total dud.
More rapid than eagles, this holiday came
And I fussed and fretted, and tried still the same.

I set out the snowmen, the penguins and bows
And really just hoped that everything goes
There are too many Santas, some sort of scary
And, no one knows what happened to Mary.

Several boxes are missing, including the lights
So our tree won't shine much during the night
Our electric bill will surely be lower
without the outdoor lights sucking the power!

But it's still Christmas and I'll be a good elf
Put up the decorations I have, in spite of myself
If you wink your eyes and turn your heads
Maybe my home won't be something to dread

So spring to your keyboards, and leave a nice word
Even if you think my decorating is absolutely absurd.
Enter the drawing, visit the other sites
Happy Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!


So here's the deal...

Myself and 14 other bloggers, totally put off Christmas decorating and sharing. Today, we're bringing you the Procrastinators' Christmas Home Tour and a give away with a chance to win a $50 gift card to Online Fabric Store or Farmhouse Decor Shop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit all the other bloggers participating!

I  had every intention of putting up the tree in early December, just like every year. However, this year, my husband suggested I not get a tree until closer to his birthday (Dec. 14). So, Saturday night, we headed to Costco to get a tree only to find them completely sold out! Not good! Costco was really the only affordable place to get a tall tree.

Instead, we had to break out the 7.5 ft tall pre-lit artificial tree and prop it up on a box to make it look taller.

Only to discover that the pre-lit part is only partially functioning and the box full of Christmas lights is completely missing!

Guess what is also missing?

My entire nativity set!

Solution? Just line up all the other weird nativity sets I have and just pretend it's a depiction of Jesus' early life and that Jesus, Mary and Joseph have already fled to Egypt! That's totally the story I'm going with when the kids ask...

I still have some points of JOY in my holiday decorating:

JOY is one of my recent finds at Dirt Cheap. I plan to keep it up year round to remind me that we're supposed to have JOY in our lives.

Even Edmund has a festive little nest for Christmas.

Let's make our way outside...

But first, a stop in the vestibule

Out the door..And on to the porch...Because everyone needs a mantle on their front porch

Friday, December 5, 2014

16 Candy Cane Ideas for Christmas

Tis the season for candy canes! Candy canes pop up in everything from body wash (my fave from Bath & Body Works), to hot cocoa and, of course, decorating.

I was invited by HomeTalk to gather some really fun Candy Cane inspired decorating ideas. Head on over and check out my Candy Cane Creativity clipboard and all the other great ideas on Hometalk.

16 Candy Cane Decorating ideas

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book review: It's In His Kiss

A book has been provided for my honest review.

 It's in His Kiss Author: Jill Shalvis ISBN:978-1455529520 Genre: Fiction, romance, contemporary Release: August 26, 2014 Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 368 Pages

 Becca Thorpe has uprooted her life and escaped to the beach. Now’s her chance to get away from city living, throw caution to the ocean winds, and live in the moment. Especially if the moment includes the deliciously sexy surfer she meets shortly after arriving in Lucky Harbor. Something about the dark intensity of Sam’s eyes and the thrill she gets at his touch convinces her to stay awhile. Boatbuilder and investment genius Sam Brody is a self-made man who knows how dangerous it can be to mix business and pleasure. But he can’t resist offering Becca a job just to hear her laugh and have her near. Yet when her brother comes to town asking for help, will he tempt her back to her glamorous life in the city? Or do Sam and little Lucky Harbor have a chance to win Becca’s heart?

About Jill Shalvis

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold. Visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
Connect with Jill Shalvis:
BUY It's in His Kiss on Amazon

It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis


There's something special about holding a paper book in your hands. I've been spending so much time reading on my Kindle, I'd completely forgotten how nice it is to just sit down with a real book in my hands... Besides a textbook.

It's In His Kiss is a contemporary romance novel set in the Washington coast. The setting alone drew me in. It made me a teensy bit homesick. Knowing how cold the water is out there for surfers helped to make Sam a bit more rugged in my head. It takes a special kind of person to willingly do anything other than fishing in those cold waters!

The book hooked me from the start and I read it every chance. It isn't a "clean read" but it also doesn't fall in to the "bodice ripper" category. I loaned the book to my mom and she said she was easily able to skip "those parts." We both finished the book in a day. That's probably not typical! We are fast readers.

My favorite character, by far, was the spunky senior, Lucille. She was wonderful comic relief and I would absolutely love to read her backstory (hint, hint).

I would have also liked to see a Becca's past a bit more developed in the beginning. It took time to get to her history and I was impatient. I had to keep reading because I just had to know! So I guess the author's timing worked since I was so sucked in.

Given that I loaned the book to my mom, it's definitely one that I would recommend for a nice, light read.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The cheap and easy way to get shredded chicken and stock

Getting meals done in a hurry is a priority. I love cooking but sometimes I just don't want to do it. 

I've been turning to my crockpot more and more with the demand of school and work piling up. I don't just use the crock pot for meals but also meal prep. Instead of buying a rotisserie chicken or canned chicken for those nights I want a quick casserole, I use my crock pot.

In the weekends when I have time (or at least pretend I do), I throw bone-in chicken breasts or thighs in to the crockpot, veggies, and cover with water. 

Sometimes I take the time to chop a veggie trio, but on really lazy weeks, I just throw in veggie scraps I've accumulated along the way. 

After covering the vegetables and chicken, I toss in some salt and pepper. It cooks on low for 8-10 hours. 

When I'm done, I have plenty of precooked shredded chicken ready to go in to vacuum bags in the freezer. Since most recipes call for 2 cups of chicken, I fill the bags accordingly.

Now what to do with what's left in the pot?

I set it in fridge overnight  to allow the fat to come to the top and then remove it. At this point, I also strain out the vegetables and throw them away. I'm sure there's another use for them but honestly, I don't care for mushy vegetables.

At this point I'm left with a big pot of chicken stock. The great part is the homemade stock is Gluten Free! I was shocked to learn some store bought stocks had gluten. I don't get the point of needing to add wheat to broth. Sort of defeats the purpose. 

For storing the stock, I recommend freezing it in ice cube trays first, then placing them in zipper freezer bags or using vacuum sealer. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Zombie doll!

This is the third year I've participated in a zombie doll swap. It is so much fun to create creepy dolls and get equally creepy things in the mail.

Creating the dolls has always been a challenge for me. The last two years I've purchased doll forms. This year, however, I decided to try my hand at crafting my own doll body and head.

The partner for my swap loves The Corpse Bride and I really couldn't find a long lanky dolly form.

To create the body, I used a wire coat hanger, wrapped it in cotton batting then covered that in sticky sports tape. 

For the head, I used sculpty clay then baked it in the oven.

I'm in no way claiming this doll looked anything like The Corpse Bride. I just used her as inspiration.

The next big challenge was figuring out how to attach the clay head to the body. 

So I didn't. 

Just couldn't figure it out. Instead my zombie bride is carrying her head in her arms... 

The bride was bloodied up using Manic Panic hair dye in "Vamp Red." It seemed appropriate. 

My partner sent me a zombie inspired by my favorite animated movie "My Neighbor Totoro."

I LOVE it! The Boy took it to school to show one of his teachers. His friends who know the movie think this stuffy is very, very wrong and disturbing. 

linked up at: wildly original **cook it craft it share it **

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

10 Tips for shopping Salvage Stores

When my friends told me a salvage store was opening in our town, I was skeptical. Salvage sounded like a junk yard store...worse than the grungiest thrift store.

It's not so much a junk yard but a product grave yard... And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Salvage stores are different than overstock stores which tend to take what the big stores ordered too much of. Salvage is more like the scratch and dent grocery stores that sell damaged packaging items.

Typically if a box has been opened a store can't resell it. A salvage store will buy it so the retailer isn't at a total loss. 

Salvage stores also buy items that are returned the stores can't sell... Like when Joe bought Sally a gift and instead of wrapping it and putting on a nice gift tag, he wrote "TO SALLY" on the box. Sally returned it unopened, but who is going to buy it now?

Last week, Leelee and I found an awesome Creeper plush toy. The one problem: the face was on upside down!

Or the packaging might say it contains 10, but there are only 8. 

The clothing tends to run in really hard to find sizes. I've seen more than a few pieces that were really cute but someone tried them on and got makeup (lipstick or foundation!) on the clothes. Normally, if I find those things in a regular store, I'll ask for a discount ;) 

You still find broken items, but many times it's still usable or you can grab it for parts.

There are still a fair amount of overstocked items, too. 

It's the one place I've found I can go to find that obscure item I'm looking for... Like a twin sized egg crate mattress.

The prices typically start at 50 percent of retail and the longer they sit on the shelves, the lower the price goes.

It can be overwhelming to shop a store like this. Finding best deals at salvage stores is very similar to finding deals at thrift stores, but since the items are new, you may end up with a better deal.

1. Shop often

New merchandise arrives all the time. To be honest, there's usually so much stuff shopping often means you might find something you missed. 

2. If you love it snag it

Missed it! I first saw this listed at $75. That was a bit high. So I waited. There were three so I figured I had time. It got marked down to $35 and I kept waiting. It would be a total frivolous purchase since I didn't have a "home" for it. By the time it was marked down to the $15 I was willing to pay... All of the chandeliers were gone. 

3. Test it

Plug it in, make sure it works. We went through three air pumps before we found one that worked to test make sure the air mattress ($8!!) didnt have a hole.

4. Dig dig dig

It's like a treasure hunt. Bedding may not be in packaging. Tags might be ripped off. Or you might find just one of something you need two of. It took two of us digging through the linens and curtains to find a match to these sheers.

5. Check for pieces

Make sure it's all there or to find pieces you need. The blender I was looking at was missing the blades. 

Or there was the futon for $65. The pieces were inside a Walmart bag in the taped up box. We tried another taped up box and found the pieces in the original packaging AND the instructions.

6. Think outside the box

Be willing to repurpose. The two pillows in the back were king sized pillow cases... Not for throw pillows. At $2 I was willing to do a bit of sewing to make it work.

7. If it's broken... Can you fix it?
One of the store employees told me about a man who took parts from three broken things to make one that works. 

I've passed on several broken items that I LOVED simply because it was outside my skill level to repair. Again, you need to be mindful of how difficult the repair might be... Another DIYer might grab it first. I lost a great bench this way. I wasn't willing to pay $80 for something that needed repairs, but someone else was.

8. Sometimes it's worth the wait

Saw them online and passed. Searched the store for my size... Four times before I found them! $39.95 online. $15 at the store... Waited and searched ... $6

9. Hope for the best

 Snagged it! Perfect colors and style for my dining room. Paid "full" price of $4. Sometimes, you just get lucky!

10. Know your price point

How much are you willing to pay? This is important when it comes to a must have item. 

The furton, for example, was originally priced at the store for $80. I really needed to replace Little Miss's toddler bed with something different. With four futons at the store, I figured I had a bit of time ... But I didn't want a repeat of losing the chandelier. The $65 I ended up paying was a bit more than I wanted but within my price range (I'm cheap, what can I say). However, after checking what was wrong with the other futons, there really was only one left. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

13 Gluten free desserts

Danger Girl has had digestive problems for awhile. We've been trying to figure out what triggers her stomach and headaches and began eliminating foods. After nothing else really worked, I realized we needed to remove gluten. I really didn't want to go do it. We love cupcakes and pretty much any baked goods.

One week in to her gluten free trial, Danger Girl's symptoms disappeared completely. And when we allowed her a tiny bit as a trial, she was on the floor in pain. 

I'm reluctant to have her tested for anything because we know the "cure" is just not to eat certain foods.

Still, her new diet restrictions doesn't mean she can't have baked goodness and sweets.

I've created a Gluten free pin board  to showcase all the good stuff we can eat that still Gluten Free!

Danger Girl and I sat down together and found the desserts she missed most and wanted to recreate in a way she could eat them.

GF Pumpkin Cupcakes by Atkinson Drive

Strawberry Maple Cookies by Amy's Healthy Baking

Crockpot Sugar Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake by Sugar Free Mom

White Bean Brownies from Yummy Healthy Easy

Gluten Free Pie Crust from 84th and 3rd

Nutella Bites by Gluten Free Canteen

GF Oatmeal Cookies by Julia and Me

Blueberry Muffins by Julia and Me

Perfect GF Cookies by And Then We Saved

Nutella Fudge by Not Your Momma's Cookie

Red Velvet Mug Cake by All Day I Dream About Food

GF Cinnamon Rolls by Your Home Based Mom

GF Ice Cream Sandwiches by Gluten Free on A Shoestring

Linked up at Spatulas on Parade ** whimsy wednesday ** fall in to fall ** wow us wednesday **  tater tots and jello ** weekend windown ** the creative connection **    

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2014 summer photo

Yes, I know summer is over but I'm finally getting around to sharing our 2014 summer photo.

This year marks some big changes for the kids. In the past, the kids looked like signal strength bars going tall to small. Not so much this year. B not only passed Leelee in height, but also The Boy and his dad! He's only 13 but he's now the tallest in the house.

It won't be long before Punky Brewster passes Danger Girl in height. Danger Girl has always been small for her age.. Third percentile small. The doctor said she might reach 5 feet tall. To put it in perspective, she's 11 now and weighs 65 pounds fully dressed and in some states short enough to still require a booster seat... About 4 foot 8. She was finally tall enough to ride the big rides at Six Flags!

Check out the photos from the last few years to see how the kids (and our family) has grown!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Great new wig + discount code

I received product compensation for this post. However, all opinions are 100 percent mine.

Costumes and wigs jots aren't for Halloween any more. Since entering high school, Leelee has made some great friends who introduced her to cosplay. It is a pretty great creative outlet. And she's convinced me to join in on the fun.

Don't we make quite the pair?

Look at her wig though... It's pretty rough. In our short time doing this we've learned about good costume wigs and bad costume wigs.

Recently, we ordered a new wig from Abhair and it's definitely in the good wig category. 

Our biggest challenge with a full wig is getting Leelee's curls under the wig cap. No photos but we ended up braiding it tight around the top and around the ears and using a lot of bobby pins.

She has a lot of thick hair.

I wanted a chance to play with the wig first. I've never had long thick hair before so this was a good way to see how I'd look.

This is the wig unstyled, btw. It's heat resistant so it is possible to add more curl, which is pretty cool. All the wigs I've seen before melt with heat.

Leelee is a bit of a rebel (she is my kid!) and realized wigs were not expressly forbidden in the school dress code. So, she styled the wig in a nice braid and wore it to school.

Her other rebellion? Sparkly sneakers!

She looked quite nice to go to school, even if her hair was silver. Too bad not everyone saw it that way...and, next year wigs might be on the no-no list. 

Her future hair plans include pipe cleaners for the Pippy Longstocking effect. But, she has the sense to wait to test those waters again! Last year she literally tied her hair in to the shape of a bow.

Want to try out the wigs and extensions at for yourself? Use code MickiA15 for 15 percent off site wide.