Count Your Blessings…Name Them One By One

So, today is New Year’s Eve.  How will you spend it??  Some go to parties and stay up late.  Some plan small, intimate gatherings at home with a few friends and/or family members.  Me?  I’ll probably stay up until midnight (like every other night) and go to bed after the ball drops.  Kiddos will be sound asleep in bed.   Hubby will either already be in bed, or will be asleep on the couch :). 

Tomorrow, you may get up and eat black-eyed peas for good luck (a tradition that I never really took part in…not a black-eyed peas fan…the food, not the music).

No matter how you spend this evening, you’re probably thinking about how this last year went.  How was 2012?  Was it a banner year??  Good or bad, it’s over and we have a fresh new year…2013. 

One of my all time favorite books/movies is the Anne of Green Gables series.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for a redhead in a leading role!  Our family took a trip to Prince Edward Island in Canada a few years ago & I got to see the house that inspired the books.  I got to walk in the haunted woods!!  If you’re a fan, then you understand!  Probably my all time favorite quote is this:

“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” – Anne Shirley

Around this time of year, you see people making New Year’s Resolutions.  Nothing wrong with that…I’ve made a few myself.  One thing I think I’ll try this year, I found on Pinterest:

The basic idea is that you start with an empty jar/box, etc.  Then, as the year progresses, you write down the good things that happened.  I’d like for my family to write down how God has blessed their lives during the year.   I think this will be a great exercise to use to show my kids how God actively works in our lives.  Then, December 31, 2013, we will open said jar/box and read the blessings.  How amazing to read about things that happened almost a year earlier!!  Maybe we had forgotten them…maybe other things had taken precedence in our minds.  Many times we dwell on the negative and forget all the great things that have happened. 

I encourage all of you to do something similar.  If you want to take it a different way, you could write down prayers that have been answered throughout the year.  You could write down any number of things.  The important thing is to remember the good that has happened the whole year.

Happy New Year!!  May God bless you and your family in 2013!

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Bad Hair Day

Now that Sophie is getting older, she has started getting more dolls as gifts.  You know…the kind with real (fake) hair.  No more painted on hair or yarn hair.

It’s great.  She can comb it…have me braid it…all the things I’d love to do with her hair that she won’t let me do.  The down side???

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The “Tangled” mess you get with this kind of doll hair.  She got this for Christmas this year. Tangled is her favorite movie…I think she really connects with Rapunzel (since they both have long hair…and I think Sophie thinks she’s the lost princess too!).

So, the doll she’s had since Christmas.  That was Tuesday.  Today is Saturday.  Four days.  That’s how long it took to get this mess.

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Luckily, a few months ago, I came across this pin on Pinterest and pinned it…anticipating a need for it in the future.

So, I already had the fabric softener.  I just needed a spray bottle and “wig brush”.  I went to my local beauty supply store.  They didn’t have a “wig brush”, but they did have a brush that had loops for bristles instead of balls or knobs at the end of the bristles.  I think whatever you can find is ok.  The loops or wig brush will probably go through the hair a little more smoothly than a regular brush.

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So, I settled down with the spray bottle, Rapunzel and her hair brush.  It took me about 30 minutes to comb through the hair.  I took it a section at a time.  At one point, my hubby came home and made a cute comment and asked if I was having fun “playing with my dolly”.  Ha ha ha…

We did lose a little bit of hair in the process, but it wasn’t too much.  And, I can’t complain with the finished project…Image

After I took this pic, I decided to follow one of the suggestions from the blog & braid the hair.  That way, it will stay nicer for a little longer.  You can tell your little girl it’s like in the movie, when Rapunzel had her hair braided.  That seemed to work here 🙂

I do feel better, now that Rapunzel’s hair is back to normal now.  I also feel better knowing that in a few days, I can fix it again!

So, moms of little girls, don’t despair!!  You too can have your daughter’s dolls hair looking like it did brand new, out of the box!!

Gingerbread House Delight

Well, we missed a White Christmas by one day.  This is what we woke up to this morning 🙂

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It’s a lovely mixture of snow/sleet/rain.  A great recipe for yuckiness!!  At the advice of my husband and the Weight Watchers receptionist, I canceled my meeting for this morning.  Let’s face it, I wasn’t going to have a lot of people show up anyway….it is, after all, the day after Christmas.  So, my WW peeps dodged a bullet & don’t have to weigh in until next Wednesday.

Since yesterday was Christmas and not much was open, we didn’t do a whole lot.  Well, we did the whole “Christmas” thing…open presents, watch Christmas movies, sat around in our pj’s all day.  Fun stuff.  There was one thing I wanted to do with the kids that I didn’t get to yesterday, so since we’re snowed/sleeted in, today seemed perfect.

I love the idea behind gingerbread houses.  However, I don’t like paying for the kit.  And, I don’t like baking gingerbread…so therein lies the problem.  Then, I found this pin on Pinterest.

Brilliant!  Use graham crackers instead of gingerbread.  Much easier, much cheaper, and you probably won’t break your tooth off trying to eat it later 🙂

For the royal icing, I used the Wilton recipe found here.  I have a tip/recommendation when making this.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you might think about getting one before making the recipe…stop reading…go to the store…pick one up, then come home and make royal icing…trust me, you’ll thank me later!  The directions say to beat the sugar/water mixture for 7-10 minutes with a stand mixer or 10-12 minutes with a hand held mixer.  I took several cake decorating classes a few years ago & when we were working with royal icing, I believe a student actually burned up her hand held mixer while making the recipe.  If that’s all you have, and you still want to try it…you have been warned 🙂

As a cake decorator, I don’t usually use sandwich bags with the corner cut out to pipe my icing on, but in this case, I would.  It’s easy for the kids & once you’re done, you don’t have to mess with cleaning the tips and bags (my least favorite part).

I got the candy at my grocery store.  There’s a very scary aisle I avoid most of the time.  It has nuts on one side & candy on the other. It’s the kind that you measure out yourself and pay by the pound.  The nice thing is you get a variety of candy, you don’t have a lot left over and it won’t cost you an arm & a leg 🙂

So here are some action shots:

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A few years ago, we tried making a gingerbread house & Brayden stuck with it for a few minutes and then lost interest.  This year, he was a lot more involved!!

ImageSophie was more interested in eating the decorations…

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…so, under her “supervision”, I decorated the house for her!

ImageBrayden was very proud of his 🙂

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It was hard, but I managed to keep him from eating his right away…wanted to let his Daddy see it when he got home.

This project was super easy, fast and a lot of fun.  We have candy, icing & graham crackers left over, so if the kids want to make another, we have plenty of supplies!  This may become one of our new holiday traditions!!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!

Don’t Forget To Say “Please” And “Thank You”

I hope everyone is having a happy Christmas Eve!!  We woke to rain/sleet/snow that has been off & on almost all day.  Kind of cold, wet, bleak, but the kids are excited because there was snow.  My daughter hasn’t figured out that we can’t make a snowman just yet…there has to be snow on the ground, not just falling from the sky 🙂

I’m a big fan of the Thank You card.  I’ve been sending them out for as long as I can remember.  Wedding showers, baby showers, birthdays, kids birthdays, etc.  It can get overwhelming to send them, and sometimes, the procrastinator in me comes out (ok…all the time).  It could be weeks or (yikes!) months before I get them sent out.  Then, of course, there is the challenge of making it personal.  “Thank you for the *fill in the blank*.  I can’t wait to use it/wear it/make it…we really appreciate your thoughtfulness”.  Kind of generic.  

I found this on Pinterest the other day.  I thought it looked interesting.  I have several photo apps already, but hey, this one was free & I could always delete it, right??

The thought behind this app is you can send thank you cards (or other types of cards) with a pic of the recipient playing with/using the gift. 

ImageThere are many templates to choose from.  You can pick ones that let you put multiple pics on the card, just one, or none at all.  Add your message and viola!  Instant Thank You card!

ImageLike I said, you can send more than just Thank You cards to people.

ImageOnce you have designed your card, you can send it multiple ways.  The only one I’ve used so far, is to text it to people.  You can actually mail the card to the person you’re thanking.  It cost $1.99 and it covers the card and postage.

Here’s a link to the App Store, so you can check out the app in more detail.  

There are several reasons I love this app.  #1, I’m probably going to send a pic of my kids playing with their new toys to the person who gave them the toy, so why not send a “Thank You” along with it?  #2, I love that it’s so instant!  #3 I love that there are free options to send the card.  A lot of apps that are similar to this, you have one option…order the card through them. #4 It’s free!!  My brother gives me a hard time about only getting free apps.  I know that most apps are $0.99, but if I can get it for free…even better!!

I thought this is a timely article…we’re all going to be getting lots of goodies, and we should remember to say “Thank You”…it’s just the nice way to be 🙂

Pass The Ink, Please…

Don’t you hate it when you’re in the middle of printing something off at home…maybe a paper you’re writing for finals.  Maybe it’s a cute Pinterest project.  Then…BAM!!  You run out of ink.  Of course, you don’t have an extra cartridge around.  Sigh…what to do?

Well, that happened to me the other day, with one exception…I actually had an extra cartridge around.  But, the paper I printed (literally the last page I was printing) looked like this…

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So, I replace the cartridge.  My printer has to “Align” the cartridges (whatever that means). It prints a lot of random stuff on the page & then has me put it in the scanner & it scans it (we have one of those fancy smancy printer/scanner/copier machines).

After I replaced the cartridge, I remembered I had pinned this on Pinterest.  At best, I was skeptical that it would work.  I’ve never heard of “resetting” your cartridge.  But hey, what did I have to lose??  I saved my cartridge and it cost nothing to try.

Well, I waited a few days, then remembered I hadn’t done it yet, so I tried it out this afternoon.  I took my cartridge…

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I think any brand will work.  I believe the tutorial had an Epison cartridge…

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I used that ink pen & pushed a little button type thingy on the bottom of the cartridge.  The tutorial says to press the “reset” button, but mine didn’t have the word “reset” by it (insert conspiracy theory here…mean ole ink cartridge people).  This literally took me 5 seconds.  I put it back into my printer.  Of course, I had to “align” the cartridges.  Here’s what it printed.

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Mind blown!!!  I couldn’t believe it at all!!!  Just to give you a little perspective, here are the two papers side by side…one printed with a brand new cartridge…the other was the old “out of ink” cartridge.

ImageWhich is which???  As my hubby says, “if you can’t tell, I’m not gonna tell you”.  Of course, for the sake of the blog, I’ll tell you :).  The one on the left is the brand new cartridge.  The one on the right is the one I printed with the empty cartridge.  In person, you can see that the black ink is a little lighter on the old cartridge, but who cares????  I just saved a ton of money (well, not a ton…maybe $15…but, in the economy…) and I didn’t have to switch car insurances!!!

Now, I haven’t printed anything else on it.  I have no idea how much it will print before it completely gives out.  However, if you have one last page to print off for your doctoral thesis, this will getcha by in a pinch.

I showed my hubby and he was floored.  He said “now I know why those companies (Staples, Office Depot, etc) want you to bring in your old cartridges”.  I’m not sure if this is 100% of the reason…they tout recycling or something, but it does make you wonder…

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this non-Christmas project article today.  I am done with my Christmas sewing.  I just have a couple of hunting type sewing projects that I’m working on for the hubby, which I will share with you when they’re done…unless it goes south.  In that case, you will never know what happened 🙂

Merry Christmas!!!!!

A Tale of Two Pigs

My kids love Veggie Tales.  And, to be honest…so do I!!  I love the great lessons they teach.  I love the humor they stick in for the adults who are watching along with the kiddos.  So, when I found a book by Phil Vischer (one of the founders of Veggie Tales), I knew I had to get it for my kids.

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I purchased the book at local book fair that opens every few months for several weeks at a time.  It is a book lovers paradise.  A two story building filled to the brim with all kinds of books…for a very cheap price.  

So, I found Sidney & Norman, A Tale of Two Pigs by Phil Vischer.  The illustrations are great.  Being a parent, I decided I need to read through the book before I actually bought it.  I was fairly confident that I wouldn’t come across anything objectionable, but you can’t be too careful.

I expected to find a cute story.  What I didn’t expect was for the book to bring me to tears.  In the middle of the book fair, surrounded by dozens of book lovin’ Virginians, I found it hard to keep my composure.  This book has a message that adults, as well as kiddos (maybe more so), need to hear.

Basically, it’s about two pigs…Sidney & Norman.  These are not your usual slop eatin’, mud rollin’ kinds of pigs.  They live in houses.  They have jobs.  One of the pigs, Norman, has it all together.  He is always on time, dresses well, never a hair is out of place (well, if he had a hair to be out of place), and kind of looks down at others who didn’t have it all together.  You get the picture.  Sidney lives next door.  You get the idea that he probably showed up to his own birth late.  His clothes are always messy and he doesn’t seem to get anything right.  Of course, living next to Norman doesn’t really help.  All of his inadequacies are thrown up in his face.

One day, each receive an invitation to visit God.  Now, I realize this is a strange invitation, but pigs who live in houses and have jobs is strange too…stay with me here.  Norman is very excited to go see God.  On his way, he imagines what God will say to him.  He visualizing a lot of “Atta boy’s” and “Way to go’s”.  Sidney, on the other hand, is nervous.  He doesn’t even want to imagine what God would have to say to him.  

God starts each individual meeting with the same phrase, “I love you”.  Norman, puffed up with pride, waits for what should come next, but it doesn’t.  God lowers the bomb.  Norman is not as good as he thinks he is.  His neat clothes and punctuality does not make him any better than anyone else.  God loves him…despite himself.  Dejected, Norman returns home with a lot to think about.

Sidney timidly enters the room with God.  He can hardly stand to look God in the face.  God speaks…”#1, I love you.  #2, I love you.  #3, I love you.”  That’s all.  No condemnation. No “tuck in your shirt”.  No “clean up your house”.  No “Can’t you get anywhere on time?”

That message is why I love this book.  No matter how messed up we are.  God, loves us.  No matter what we’ve done in the past, God loves us.  No matter what we might do in the future, God loves us.  If our children can learn this message…to not rely on themselves to “earn” God’s love…that they already have God’s love…our world would probably look a lot different.  If adults could learn this lesson…wow!!  

Easier said than done.  

Towards the end of the book, you find that Norman takes himself down a notch.  He didn’t look down his nose at others anymore.  Sidney though, had a renewed sense of self worth.  Maybe his life isn’t as messed up as he thinks it is.  He has the reassurance of God’s love.  

So do we.  

Quiver Me Timbers

I’m writing this blog with a two part purpose.  I made a Christmas gift for my son, Brayden tonight.  Usually, when I’m sewing, I’m thinking about the person I’m sewing for.  So, naturally, my thoughts turned to my son and then turned to the horrible events that happened today in a small Connecticut elementary school.

I’ve been in and out of the house today & haven’t watched a lot of news, so some of you may know more details than I do.  All I know is something very devastating happened to some very young, innocent children and adults.  At this time, I haven’t heard a reason or motive for the shooter to do what he did, not that it would excuse what he did.

I can’t imagine, nor do I want to imagine, what the parents who lost their children are going through right now, or what they’ll go through in the days and weeks to come.  I can say, I definitely hugged my children a little, a lot more today and told them repeatedly that I love them.  We never know what tomorrow will bring (Proverbs 27:1).  Things like this really bring into the forefront of our minds what’s most important in our lives…the people who fill them!!

With that being said, I do want to share a project that I made tonight.  A while back, Brayden was given a bow and arrow set (practice arrows…no sharp tips!).  He really loves that thing!!  He will go outside and play with it for a really long time…even in the cooler weather.

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This picture is brought to you through a really cool app I picked up for free at Starbucks a while back.  It’s called Halftone.  You can make your pics look like they’re in a comic book…perfect for the young (or old) guy in your life.  Here’s a link to it in the app store…

A while back, Brayden asked me if I could make him a quiver to hold his arrows in while he practiced.  I think this idea was half out of necessity & half from watching the Disney movie Brave.  So, I put him off & said “I don’t know…maybe”.  In my mind, I was really saying “That would be a perfect Christmas present!!”

So, I went on…you guessed it…Pinterest and found this pin.  Now, the quiver is pink, but you can make it any color you want.  I was amazed that the mom in the tutorial made over 20 of these for her daughter’s archery themed birthday party.  I couldn’t believe she went through all of that work, until I made one.  I literally made this in less than 1 hour…start to finish…including cutting the fabric out!!!

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I found this amazing vinyl fabric at a local fabric store.  I got 1/2 a yard of the stuff (60 inches wide) because I wasn’t quite sure how much I needed.  I’d rather have too much than not enough.  The tutorial said you can get 4 out of 1/4 yard of fabric, but I was skeptical.  Well, I have a bunch left over.  I could make about 4 more if I wanted to!  I’m sure I’ll find a future Pinterest project that will call for vinyl :).

ImageThe hardest part of the whole project was hemming the top curvy edge of the quiver.  I just turned it down as I went and took it nice and slow.  It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but a 7 year old boy most likely won’t notice uneven stitching!

ImageThere’s really no good way to display the quiver until my son can try it on (in 11 days!!).  I know it looks kind of small with the arrows in it, but when you look at it in person, you can really tell that it’s plenty big for a kid and his practice bow & arrow set.

I was very pleased with how quickly this turned out.  Less than 1 hour to make a Christmas present…not too shabby.  Now I understand how the mom in the tutorial could make 20+ and not go crazy!!  The price was right on this project too.  The fabric…all 1/2 yards of it cost me $5.  I estimate the part I used probably would be about $1 worth.  The straps were a little over $2.  The buckle was the most expensive part of the project…$3.50.

I can imagine the hours of fun that this little quiver will bring my son.  If it gets torn up or dirty, I am confident to know that about 1 hour later, I can have a replacement!!  Hooray for instant gratification!!!!!

Have a wonderful evening.  Hold you kids and spouses a little longer.  Love on them more in the upcoming days.  Enjoy every moment you have with them!