Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Best Gift of All

How quickly the holidays come and go.  I can't believe we got everything done despite the time crunch and feeling as if we wouldn't be able to check off everything on that darn list.  But, as they always do, things fall into place and worked themselves out.  We got the Christmas cards done, the shopping finished, the Christmas Eve dinner prepared and the Christmas cookies tied with a little bow.  We celebrated quietly with my little family (me, my husband, my brother and mother, and my daughter and son-in-law) and went to bed early as we seem to do more often now that my husband and I are getting older.  We took some time to count our many blessings - especially with the stress of the last few years navigating through the recession.  It truly was a time to celebrate.

Just when we thought it was over, an opportunity came our way.  An opportunity of the feline sort.

We've always had pets.  Over the 32 years of marriage and even before that, we've had either a cat, or dog, or combination thereof, in the household.  Numerous kittens ended up in our woodpile (we often thought people abandoned kittens there since it was accessible from the street) or we adopted them from the shelter.  Our two dogs were rescued greyhounds and were amazing pets.  With all of these critters, it was heartbreaking to say goodbye and after losing our last cat that we had had for over 13 years, we didn't have the heart to start over again.

One of my Facebook friends frequently shares posts from a local shelter.  A couple of days after Christmas, there was a plea for someone to adopt sibling kittens.  That was exactly what we were looking for... kittens... and siblings!  We knew from experience that sibling kitties are a lot of fun and that we could have multiple felines without the spraying and discontent that sometimes accompany trying to get two animals to get along with one another.  I immediately messaged the FB shelter page and got a quick response.  Yes we were interested in more than one kitten, yes we were willing to pay the fee for the vet bills and shelter charges and yes, we would be more than willing to drive out and pick one or two up!  Beautiful snowshoe siamese kittens!!

We drove to the foster home and knew right away that we loved these little guys.  We took home a brother and sister and were enchanted with them both.  They were shy and timid and hid themselves until they felt comfortable.  We had a blast buying all the "kitty supplies" - litter box, food, kitty condo, toys - and within a day or two they were much more at ease.  No sooner did we settle in when I received a text message from the foster kitty mom.  Would we be willing to take the last little brother?  She had a family that was interested, but she wasn't getting a good vibe from the initial meeting.  Plus this little guy was really missing his brother and sister.   She said she KNEW that he would be happy to be with them again and she KNEW we were good kitty parents, so would we be willing to take number three?  She'd even drive him over to US!  A deal too good to refuse!

So, here we are, ready to begin a new year with three new little family members.  Who could ask for more?  We are grateful for all of our blessings - especially these three little guys who will be with us for years to come!  Thanks so much to the shelter for taking them in even though they were not weaned and very vulnerable, to the vet who checked them and made sure they were viable, and to the foster "mom" who weaned them and kept them healthy until they could be adopted.  It was worth it.  They are adorable.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How Many Days Until...??

Here's an easy chalkboard gift that you can make in a short amount of time!

Pin It

  • Purchase or repurpose a frame - this one is 8" x 10". 
  • Pull out the glass and spray it with 2 to 3 coats of chalkboard paint.  I like black, but there are other colors to choose from. 
  • On a piece of paper, the size of your glass, write "days until Christmas".  Don't worry if your writing isn't perfect.  Sometimes our unique handwriting is what others cherish!  However, you can always type the words on your computer in a large font and use that.
  • Rub chalk over the back side of the writing.
  • Place the paper on top of the spray painted glass.
  • Trace the letters with a pencil.
  • Paint. 
  • After paint is dry, take the chalk and rub the side over the entire surface.  Wipe with a soft (flannel) cloth.
  • Reassemble the frame.
I purchased some Christmas decorations at Hobby Lobby, including the curly ribbon (it was in the wrapping paper section) and then just hot glued them to the top of the frame.  I tied a ribbon bow around a piece of chalk and attached that as well.  A small piece of flannel was taped to the back.

That's it!!  You're done!

Festive Porch

It's that time of year again!  I can't believe it's been three years since I started just writing down thoughts here and there as I prepared for the holidays!  My intention was to craft a lot and write a lot, but sometimes real life gets in the way.  This December is no exception.  My Christmas cards, usually done and in the mail around the first of the month are non-existent.  I haven't even purchased them yet.  (Guess I wasn't on the ball last year, because I usually buy them for the next year so I don't end up looking for ones I like at the last minute.  Oops.)  Decorating is pretty much done, thanks to my husband - I didn't unpack a single thing.  For a control freak like myself, that's pretty huge.  I have been making quite a few chalkboards for people to give as gifts, so that does take up some time, and we've been helping my daughter and her husband with their newly purchased very fixer-upper home every spare minute during the past few weekends.  But, that's no excuse.  Time to get it together!!

I was able to do a couple of small things however, so I'm not as much of a holiday slacker as I make myself out to be!

When in Chicago over the holidays a while ago, I noticed that all the planters downtown were decorated.  I loved the look and had hoped to replicate it somewhere, somehow.  When we went to a local hardware store with a Christmas tree lot, they had the cut off branches in a bin, free for the taking.  I took a few.  Together with the pine cones I'd been collecting and a few purchased items, I was able to decorate the two pots on our porch (which are planted with dwarf fruit trees) and make them look a little more festive.  Then, on a visit to Pier One for some new items for our Christmas Eve dinner, I saw some plaid seat cushions I loved.  I bought two and put them on the wicker chairs on our porch even though they aren't outdoor cushions.  It's so Christmasy, and with our warmer drought weather, we're still able to sit out on the porch in the evening and have a glass of wine!

Here's the planter... I added greenery from nearby trees, some berry stems I purchased at Michael's, a few pinecones spraypainted white, and a few eucalyptus stems that I also purchased at Michael's.  Around the edges, I added some thin tree branches.

Easy, pretty and festive! (Just be sure to water it once in awhile to keep it fresh as possible.)

Pin It

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Fanci-full Birthday Decorations

Life sort of gets so busy sometimes I lose track of things.  Well, maybe it's just old age rather than life, but yeah, things are busy!  Life at a high school has its time intensive seasons and those seasons that are a little bit more relaxed.  Add in being short-handed, and there's even more to do!  In the last couple of months it's been pretty crazy.  I'd never trade it - I love my job, but when I don't even have time to post a picture, that's pretty nuts!!

I wanted to show you a few pictures of the cake/cupcake birthday decorations that I've made recently.  REALLY EASY!!  All were made with decorative paper scraps, some leftover embellishments and some skewers!  Oh and pinterest!  (Where else would one find out how to make a pinwheel with just one click of a button??!)

This was a three layer 8 inch round cake.  I used a white cake mix, split the batter into thirds and used varied amounts of food coloring.  Simple buttercream frosting and a few sprinkles, and it was a hit.  So much fun to cut into it and see the pink!!  Now, as for the little decorations - I used twine, scrapbook paper, adhesive letters and little brads and flowers.  That's it!!  Looks festive with only a little bit of work!

Here's the inside of the cake:

Pin It

I did use skewers to hold it all together after I put frosting between the layers.  That way it wouldn't fall over!

I cut scraps of printed paper in rectangles.  I then did the letters on plain paper.  I folded the tops of the printed paper over a piece of baker's twine (pink, of course!) and then pushed the brads through to hold it together.  I tied the twine to two skewers.

For this set of cupcakes, I made pinwheels.  I hot glued decoratve buttons to the center, and then hot glued the pinwheels to skewers. (Love this serving plate by the way!  It's made by Mudpie.)

These decorations were made with a large paper punch, and adhesive letters.

 These were made with strips of scrapbook paper, adhesive letters and some 3 dimensional stickers.

Experiment!  Have fun!  Whatever decorations you come up with will look great!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Small Sayings

I can't believe we are at the beginning of another school year.  Time just flies and it seems the older I get, the faster it goes!

I like to have a little welcome back gift for my colleagues in the office and this year I wanted to make small chalkboards.  These 4" x 6" frames were from Hobby Lobby and I spray painted the glass just as I've done many times before.  Lettering is freehand but I used the same technique described on this blog to transfer the writing to the black surface.

I went on Pinterest and found some cute (and appropriate!) sayings - different ones for each person.  It was really kind of fun, because after opening them, they looked around to see the frames that the others received.

Pin It

Then, my daughter wanted to make some for the teachers she works with, and she chose Disney quotes. She chose unfinished wood plaques from Hobby Lobby and spray painted them black.  Lettering is freehand.

This was an easy, thoughtful, fun gift!  Give it a try!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wood Signs

My daughter had been asked by a friend to design a sign based on something seen on Pinterest.  She had asked if I could put together something that looked like a pallet or fence that she could then paint.  With some spray paint and hot glue, we had put it together in a very short period of time and this is the result:

Pin It

Here's how we did it:

Cut four 18" pieces out of 1 x 4's.  Sand them.

Cut two slats from a 1x3 and hot glue them across the 1x4's.

Spray paint the front with two coats of your choice of color.  We used white.  You can also do a base color that's darker, then a lighter color so that the darker color pops through when you sand it again (the picture below is after sanding off some of the paint).

Finally, do your design on paper, use whatever transfer process you want to trace it on the board.  I used a darker color of chalk and penciled over it like I do for all my chalkboard designs.  

Emily used just black paint on her design, I added some color for this wedding gift.  Final step, add a sawtooth picture hanger to the back and you're done!

And here it is displayed in her home!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Knock You Naked Brownies

For a pre-4th of July treat, since we were BBQ'ing, I searched Pinterest and found this recipe from The Pioneer Blog.  (Link is here.)  These are delicious!  I highly recommend them (as does my son-in-law)!  Using a cake mix makes it easy, just plan ahead a bit because they need to be refrigerated.  Yes, these brownies will make you HAPPY!

Pin It

Luscious layers of brownie with nuts, caramel, chocolate chips and another layer of brownie make them a very decadent dessert.

Hints:  In the recipe, you are asked to split the "brownie mix" in half.  Half is put into a square pan and baked for less than 10 minutes, the other half is set aside and is put on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.  Because the caramel is very mushy, the recipe asks that you form a square with the remaining "dough" on a countertop and then spatula it on the top.  I molded it on waxed paper, and then just flipped it over on top of the pan and then peeled off the waxed paper.  Easy!!

I also used two sizes of chocolate chips - the regular size and the minis. 

Oh and I totally forgot the powdered sugar!  Next time!

This is a great recipe and I hope you check it out on Pioneer Woman and give it a try!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

4th of July Banner

Need a quick 4th of July decoration?  Here you go!

Pin It

This banner is very much like the other banners on my blog here, here and here.  Simple  supplies, simple to put together and  maybe an hour or so to assemble.  Who could ask for more?

Start with different patterns of paper.  I chose 4 patterns - 2 red and 2 blue.  You can do all different ones if you like!  There are no rules!!  How often does that happen??

Then, choose coordinating plain card stock.  I chose blue, red and cream.  Buy enough to have a couple of layers.  For example, I had print paper, red card stock, cream card stock, red card stock under each letter.

Speaking of letters, I just found a font I liked and printed up the letters to be about 2 inches square by trial and error.  Cut all your letters and card stock in the same sizes.  Mine were 5 inches for the first color, 4 inches for the second, 3 inches for the third and 2 1/2 for the letter.  The banner base was 6 inches in width and about 8 inches in length. 

I folded over about an inch at the top and glued it down so that the twine wouldn't rip through the paper when it was hung.  I also created a template for the punch holes so that they were the same on each flag.

After assembling all the flags, I strung the twine through them and decided on the placement.  The small clothespins from Michael's were perfect - they looked cute and clipping them to each flag made sure they didn't slip around on the twine.

Here's the final product!  Can't wait for the 4th!

Let's Celebrate the 4th of July!!

Here's an easy craft you can do for your 4th of July decorating - even with only days left until the celebration!  

All you need is a clean jar or bottle (or two, or three!) and some craft paint, sand or epsom salt, little flags and some ribbon!

Pin It
 I bought these plain bottles for 99 cents each at Michael's.  You can also use Ball canning jars or maybe any jar you happen to have handy!!

Start out by painting the jar with 2 - 3 coats of paint. 

After it's VERY dry, take a small grit piece of sandpaper (or nail file) and distress the bottles. 

Tie a bow around the top and fill the bottle (using a funnel if needed).  Add a flag or some flowers (sparklers maybe?) and you're done!