19 December 2015


This year I need a neighbor gift that is a keeper. A go-to that I can call our own, year after year. We have neighbors that give yummy stovetop potpourri every year, some that give the honey butter every year, others that make bread. This year, and hopefully for years to come, we are the ones that give candied almonds. I've tried so many things in the past (this, and this), wrapping paper being the most droll, and hot chocolate dippers the most complex.

Sugared Almonds. It's a winner. It was fairly easy and ... semi-inexpensive.

Recipe items — Almonds (or Pecans). Sugar. Brown Sugar. Cinnamon. Eggs. Vanilla. Crock Pot.
Coffee Bags — These are perfect because they're lined for food and have a closure that is cute.
Sticker or Tag — I made a wrap sticker that was personalized, but you could use any sticker or tag.

There are oodles of recipes for slow cooker candied almonds. I used this one. But after doing it seven times, I made some alterations.

1 c Sugar
1 c Brown Sugar
2 Tbs Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Egg Whites
2 tsp Vanilla
6-9 c Almonds (I buy mine at Costco)
2Tbs Water

In a large bowl mix the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
2. In another large bowl whisk together the egg whites and vanilla until it's frothy. Add the almonds and mix until they're all coated. The sugar sticks to the egg whites, so coat the almonds well.
3. Prep the slow cooker with cooking spray. Turn it on low (I do 10-hour low because mine cooks faster than most.
4. I cook them for 2-3 hours and stir every 20 minutes, making sure to scrape down the sides and inside bottom of the cooker.
5. In the last 20 minutes sprinkle a couple tablespoons of water around the outer edges and stir. I like them to still look sugary in the end so if they start to look too glazed, then too much water is getting to them. You can always add a bit more sugar to get that sugary look.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread them out to cool. Break apart and put them in bags.

This makes about 8 gifts with the bags in the pictures. I put approx. 3 cups in each. I'm pretty much doubling the recipe I noted and using less sugar. Trust me they are sugary enough. And so yummy.

14 December 2015


My daughter made this cute little angel peg doll and I just loved it's sweet face. I had to do something with it. I found a mini cloche and glued some stuffing and then the doll. I cut out a tiny star and glued it to some gold string and then glued it into the top of the dome. All done. Sweet little Christmas bit.

30 November 2015


I'm trying something new this year... My good friend, Tia told me about this and I just love the idea. A Christmas Book Advent.

We already have an advent calendar but with two kids it will be worthwhile to have another. They will each have something to do in the morning. One can unwrap a book and the other can put an ornament on the advent tree, and then swap duties each day.

TO-DO — Gather 25 Christmas books and wrap them up. And this really could work for any holiday or even the winter season.

I wanted specific books unwrapped on certain days, for instance:
I'd like to start in with fun stories of Santa and winter, maybe day 4 Santa's Favorite Story: Santa tells the story of the first Christmas. And on day 7 Santa Clauses: Short Poems of the North Pole.

To remind my kids of the real Christmas spirit, throughout the month, I'd like to spread out the thoughtful Christmas stories. Perhaps on day 10, Bella's Tree and on day 18 The Christmas Wish.

On the 24th when my kids have absolutely no right for gifts of any kind after a month of heightened sass and bickering, a meaningful story of giving and gratitude. I like Christmas Day in the Morning.

To emphasize the Twelve Days of Christmas on day 25. That song was originally written to help children recall the tenets of their faith in celebration from December 25th through January 6th. Huh... things I never knew.

So before wrapping them, I laid out the books in order 1-25.

I already had several Christmas books but I purchased a six more to mix in. I wrapped them up in kraft paper and twine, and cut out felt numbers. I admit cutting out felt numbers is a bit nutty. I like to do things while I watch TV so it suits me just fine to work on this projects for a couple of evenings.

After gluing the numbers on the package, I drew a little wreath around the number and put them all under the tree. This will be the first time we've started out with packages under the tree. My girls are really excited, and this project didn't cost us much because I already had so many books that are either about snow, winter, or Christmas related. This just might have to be a new tradition!

Happy Holidays, Friends.

24 November 2015


I gathered several house lanterns and house shapes for a Friendsgiving table, my Thanksgiving mantle...  I'll surely use them for Christmas too. I love the white marble, silver and wood mixture.

For the table, I needed place settings so I turned to my favorite, Sculpey Clay. These sweet little house place settings were so easy to make. My daughters made some of them too.

I thought it would be cute to utilize smoke in some way, so I printed out name tags in a "banner" of smoke, cut those out and poked it through the wire that I had put into the house before baking them.

Here they be...

23 November 2015


One of my girlfriends recently rebuilt their home so we celebrated with a feast. Friendsgiving Feast! What a lovely concept.

Here is a peek into the table setting...
Sticking as closely as possible to pewter, marble and linen for the materials and greys and creams. There were a lot of us, so there are some mismatched items (linens, silver, glasses) but the plates and chargers are all the same. That provided a little continuity.

I gathered some house-shaped items for the center, as well as vintage silver and pewter candlesticks. I wanted small mini white pumpkins, but I missed the window of their availability so I painted my orange ones. I made the runner by fraying the edges of three strips (about 16" wide), sewing a stopping seam, trimming, and then sewing the strips together. The cotton was tough to find locally, I was originally interested in dried, but it looked a bit messy, so I stuck with the faux cotton stems and cut them down. The micro lights and candles add some twinkle and depth.

Stay tuned, I'll post a DIY for the house place settings.

15 November 2015


My daughter calls it "The Teepee Area". I made the teepee, pilgrims and Native American couples last year. I also found that amazing fur bit and gathered some river wood sticks at Kingfisher Bend Ranch... both nice additions to the Thanksgiving gathering.

This year, I wanted to make it more of a play area for my kids so I made some felt logs and fire and four animals. The turkey was my daughters idea. She's five. She's brilliant. The owl is my favorite, though.


31 October 2015


For my daughter's class we painted magnet rocks on Halloween Party day. I prepped the rocks by spray painting them first. White, Black and Orange. Then I superglue'd a magnet to the back of each. Each kid gets three rocks to paint. They painted whatever they wanted but I did offer a bit of ideas for each color on a tri-fold table topper. That's what you get when you have a designer mum in charge of the school craft. Table toppers.

They turned out super cute. I do have some lessons learned... the biggest being that I'm glad I brought acrylic paint as well as tempura. I had never painted on rocks before. Not for a craft that mattered. I wanted it to dry quickly because it was a half day of school. I also wanted it to stick to the rock without beading up. The tempura didn't stick. So I used acrylic and each child had a wipie to dab their paintbrush on... kind of dry it off before dipping it into the paint.

Spray Paint - White. Orange. Black
Rocks - (Smooth Pebbles) I got mine at the dollar store

Table Covering
Paper Plates
Baby Whipes
Paint Brushes - I used nice ones, not too fat. Small rocks need fine brushes
Paints - I used Black, White, Orange, Yellow, Green and Pink
Black Sharpies
Hot Glue Gun
Foam Core Strips* - Cut to 2.5" x 7.5"
White Pencil*
Plastic Spiders - I glued one to each of their boards for added fun.

*Each child has their own board with their name in white pencil. I hot glued their rocks to their board when they finished to keep them all organized and able to dry without getting messed up.
When the rocks are peeled off of the board the hot glue will stick to the magnet. I instructed them to peel off the glue from the magnet.

I did this craft again with my kids and some friends at home and they loved it. They started getting rocks from the yard and painting them. Smooth, rough... they don't care. They love that they have a magnet on them. But if the rock is too heavy, the magnet is useless. Be sure you choose rocks that maintain some sticking power. You also need a rock with a flat back that a magnet can stick to.

Happy Halloween to all you Spooky Ghouls & Gobblins!

27 October 2015


It doesn't get any simpler than this. Martha Stewart's test tube favors and some "scary beans" a.k.a. Peanut Butter M&Ms. Perfect for the neighbor kids or school room treat trading.

Happy Halloween!

12 October 2015


Autumn is truly one of my favorite seasons. Sure, I love Spring growth... the absence of schedules in Summer and a slow snowfall in the Wintertime... but Fall... what's not to love about cozy textures, warm colors, and the smell of pumpkin somethin' cooking in the kitchen... not to mention the crisp morning air. Thank goodness for seasons and the change that comes every few months. I embrace the variety and adore the opportunity to hunker down in the fall... it speaks to my soul.

After the hustle bustle of getting my kids back to school, Autumn brings a chance to slow my brain down and think for a minute. When I do that, I can't help but think of all the things that I love. My favorites... beyond my little family, home, community, and friends, there are the mountains that surround our city and our country that, while I have my personal frustrations, has always provided safety and freedom.

I'm reflecting a lot today, maybe it's the sense that Thanksgiving is around the corner and that brings on the warm fuzzy feelings. The long and short of it is that life is good. I have dreams and hopes and I can't help but make plans and plans and plans and more plans. Those are for speedier days. Today is a day of leisurely thoughts and gratitude.

With that... if I could decorate this feeling, what would it look like? Funny thing, it looks a lot like a dinner party in Autumn. Perhaps even a Thanksgiving dinner table. My favorite part is setting the table.

A mix of aged materials in subtle tones: Marble. Wood. Linen. Pewter. Silver.

Linens — Grey or White Linen Napkins. Grey Wool or Linen Runner.

Flatware — Mixed Vintage Silver (This could be a journey of vintage shopping to find your mix or just hit up Anthropologie)

Dinnerware —Pewter Pates (These are tough to find and quite spency, but the feeling could be pulled off with gray or aged scalloped chargers and white plates).

Glassware — Smokey Glasses or Goblets (herehere, and here)

Serveware — Mix of Wood and Marble bowls, pitchers, platters, cake stands and trays.

Centerpiece — Aged votives and tiny lights (Terrain), Cotton Stems or strands, Pewter Candlesticks (again, pewter can be tough to find, but worth the hunt. I like a lot of candles running down the table. If these are too hard to find, mix in wood and marble candlesticks) For added color, orange berries or mini pumpkins. To keep it monochromatic, you can add mini white pumpkins.

Furniture — Rugged wood table and benches with additional seating in black or linen (Anthropologie Fringe Chairs) For a soft touch add some fur to the benches.

05 October 2015


Halloween decorations at our house are not terribly frightening. We are a house of lightweights. Large spiders on the wall may bring a start... crows in the bushes might make us pause a little too long. And that's where it ends.

We like happy ghosts... smiling cats.... I do kinda like some creepy things. So I adopt in a skeleton when I can. As my kids get older our Halloween style will surely evolve, but honestly we've never really enjoyed body parts in the yard.

This is what we are, Halloween Ninnies. So our Halloween decorations lean toward the simple, modern and friendly. This year, this is how it is.

01 October 2015


Getting a jump on Halloween Crafting!

At first I made these with my daughters, aged 6 and 4. My six year old was able to tie knots and load the cello tubes. My 4 year old needed more help. With that trial, I decided to do these for the 1st grade Halloween Party craft.

THE REALITY: I actually needed a few more adults to help the kids as this was a SPEED craft session. I had 6 kids every 3 minutes! It was crazy. Their little fingers just couldn't go fast enough. So I don't really recommend it for school projects unless you've got time and helpers.

But for something fun to do with your kids at home, or Halloween gifts for neighbor friends and/or kids, this is super cute and so fun. My girls loved to wear these all around town as Halloween approached.

2"x10" Clear Cello Tubes - 3 per necklace (for a child size. For a larger head, use 4)
Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
1/4" Ribbon
Fun Halloween Bits & Candies (I try to use more toys than candy... here. here. and here)

1. Hot Glue two cello tubes closed ends together and tie a 1/4" thick ribbon around that glued spot to hide it. Tie it in a knot.
2. Load one of the tube sides and tie off each section with string. Repeat until near the end, and hot glue the opening closed.
3. Repeat the same process for the other side of the tube.
4. Glue a third cello tube to one of the glued ends. Again, tie a 1/4" ribbon over the glued portion.
Load the third tube with each section tied off with string.
5. Connect the third tube end to create a closed necklace that can fit over head. If you need to keep going with a fourth tube, keep going. We only needed 3.

*Any rubber rats, or erasers may stick a bit and that's why I have a pencil on the supply list. Use the eraser end of a pencil to shove things in.

Happy October Everybody!

25 September 2015


My MIL cans tomatoes every year.... Her garden is A-MAZE-ing...the envy of everyone within a 20-mile radius. She has about a dozen tomato plants. This year that produced enough tomatoes for THREE rounds of canning. She usually can handle that much canning, but she broke her foot at the end of summer and has had to give up some of her produce. I was lucky enough to join in the fun this year.

On her second round of canning, we picked a few buckets of tomatoes, scalded, peeled, cut, boiled, and canned 17 jars all for my little family. This tomato sauce is the best start for soups, spaghetti and countless Mexican and Italian dishes throughout the year. I feel so lucky I could burst.

If I had space, patience and a gift for canning I would do this for myself every year in my own backyard but I don't. I just glory in these little moments that happen every so often.

04 September 2015


Could she ask for anything harder than seahorses? I sweated for a moment then took it to the vast array of options in the ocean theme. I couldn't deny her little five-year-old heart because she has another two parties coming to her... if we're comparing to her sister, that is.

She loves blues, greens, and yellows, so I started with that color palette but made the yellow a florescent yellow. She also loves Friends With You so her dad designed a cute invite with that in mind.

For food, I was keeping it simple with candies in fish bowls, cookies and cake. I had some Target plates on hand that were perfect, and I made skewers with pom poms on the end for the grapes. It was important to have something seahorse, and cookies seemed doable... but this was my first try with royal icing. I managed ok, but I've got to practice that one to make it a true skill. But they're cute. I also used my grandma's cookie recipe which in hindsight I wouldn't do again because they're softer, not great for decorating. The jello cups were easy enough. And I made a triple layer cake. That actually turned out ok. Let me just say this... with baking, I usually PURCHASE, for sanity sake, but I wanted something specific, so I just did it. and made some cake stands with vintage ice cream glasses and clear plates.

The activity was a treasure hunt with the party favor at the end. Eating, playing with gel balls, fishing and unwrapping presents were all built into the clues so that the end could be back to play time. Honestly, the biggest hit was the pool of gel balls. They would've been happy with just that.

25 August 2015


I sure like the idea of notes in lunch boxes. My daughter requests them, actually. But I like them, because it's a little bit of home in their day.

I made enough for the first week... I'll probably make more later and post them. We love Friends With You in our house, so I made the colors bright and the illustrations simple to fit that style.

I'll just print, cut and write a little note on the back and put one on the top of her lunch each day. So far, the jokes have been a huge hit!

13 August 2015


My SIL is my all-things-food-go-to. I turn to her for party menu planning as well as recipes that I know are amazing because I've sampled them first hand. She has taken a journey with food that I really admire. I hope to adopt some of her kitchen habits, like shopping locally and not wasting left overs but turning them into another meal. Every recipe she's ever given me has empowered me to cook more and shop better.

Over some years, she has mastered granola and has since passed on a recipe to me. I'm going to share... brace yourself... it's delish.

I like it because it's healthier than store bought granola. You can eat it by the handfulls but alas, just like any other snack food, there is sugar (by way of maple syrup) so... you know... moderation and control.

Preheat Oven 300ยบ

In a large bowl combine the following (DRY INGREDIENTS):
4 cups Rolled Oats (not Quick Cooking)
1/2 - 1 cup Nuts (Peanuts, Almonds, or Pecans. I used Peanuts and Almonds)
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup Flax Seeds
2 Tbs. Chia Seeds
1 tsp. Salt

In a smaller bowl combine the following (WET INGREDIENTS):
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine and coat all of the ingredients and lay out on parchment paper on a backing pan. Split into two pans to maintain a thin layer of granola. (if needed)

Bake for up to 45 minutes. **Check and Stir at 20 minutes.

At 40 minutes add 1/2 -1 cup ocoonut (large and unsweetened) so that it gets toasted lightly.

At 45 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and let cool completely before puting it in an airtight container.

I recently made a batch and set some asside for a new neighbor gift. I'm also including a mason jar label. You can print and cut it out and slap it on some kraft paper and put it on the top of the jar with a little ribbon... it's free to you, and it makes me happy to share.

For more recipes, you can see my recipe board on Pinterest.
Also, you can see more on the Jam Printables here.

06 August 2015


More on the outdoor baby shower...
I put together some simple Smore's party favors for all of us chocolate lovers.

Trader Joe's S'mashing S'mores
Kraft Bags (approx. 5"x7" no gusset)
Unbleached Parchment Paper
Washi Tape
Free Printable Labels printed on Sticker Paper

1. Cut the bakers paper to approx. 8x8 squares
2. Place two smore's onto the sheet in the middle, wrap, and seal it with washi tape.
*Note, washi tape doesn't stick well to parchment paper because of the waxy coating. Place the little package inside the bag tape down to keep it in place.
3. Repeat to make two more mini packages, and add them to the bag.
4. Fold the bag flap down with the jagged side in front and seal with a printed sticker label.
*You can seal it with whatever you'd like. I made mine and included them below. Print on 8.5"x11" sticker paper and cut. Or cut sticker paper down to a shape you like and write on it.

Happy Camping!

27 July 2015


These are easy as all get out. I used them for my girlfriends baby shower a few months back. They would be cute for any occasion from Thanksgiving to Father's Day to an outdoors BBQ party.

Birch Disk Slices - 1.5"-2.5"
Skewers - Cut to about 4" to 6" tall
Hot Glue Gun & Sticks
Name Card - You could hand write these. Mine are .5"x2.5"

1. Place a glue dot at the end of a skewer flat and stick it to the center of a Birch Disk.
2. Hot Glue the name card to the top of the skewer and place a small piece of washi tape over the top of the stick to the back of the name card. I used map washi tape so that the backside would retain some decorative element.
3. Hot glue some moss around the base of the skewer.

So so easy.

22 July 2015


Last month I hosted our book, Orphan Train.

It was a lovely and entertaining read, but a little divided, in most of our opinion. I think we all connected to (Neev, Dorothy) Vivian's story as she was the child passed from one bad situation to a worse one, and so on... But none of us seemed to connect to the modern day character, Molly. I still recommend it, mostly because being drawn to historical fiction, I ended up learning about the many trials and circumstances of these children during the depression era... a lost bit of American History.

Because Vivian is originally from Ireland, I wanted to serve a few things Irish... bangers and mash came to mind, cabbage, and soda bread. Links below were a starting ground for what I made. I altered them all slightly.
Cheese Boards
Roasted Potatoes, Purple Cabbage, and Sausage
Kale, Grapes & Broccoli Salad
Soda Bread Muffins
Chocolate Cake Muffins with Ice Cream, Blackberries and Mint Garnish

Styling was based on the idea of traveling. I have so many vintage bits of randomness, I have an old leather suitcase, several old cameras, my grandmothers painted vases, old keys and cigar boxes. All of those together with some flowers from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and our neighbors yard. I used my gold flatware, and cut glass goblets and some grey plates from Crate & Barrel. I had some tweed fabric on hand for the table covering and a burlap tablecloth. All serving dishes were either wood, vintage transferware china or grey stoneware. Overall, it was a warm and textural setting.

I also set up some vintage blankets outside for dessert.