We decorated our Christmas tree weeks ago which was a bit early. I don't mind as my daughter is now 5 and she totally understands how important this wonderful holiday is. It was recently "J" week at her preschool and we sang in the car on the way to school, "Joy to the World".
She melted my heart when she said, "Jesus is a wonderful 'J' word!"
I am really cherishing handmade ornaments more than ever. When my baby was only two, she made this little tree ornament from popsicle sticks. Why the "B"? That was her favorite letter and she decided that she wanted one on her tree.
Ever since I can remember, her favorite color was purple. Right before she turned 5, she discovered the cartoon, "Olivia" who wears red. Her new favorite color is red. I think it is so awesome to love such a bright Christmas color! I am really digging it too. I ordered myself a few winter items from the bean that are red. I really wish I could order these:
Due to allergies, we will have to wait. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long.
Oh my gosh! I just had to share some of the pictures we took at a local Hot Air Balloon Festival. Apparently, every year this race is held at the Statesville airport in North Carolina. It is an entire weekend filled with fun activities. We only went for one afternoon. We really enjoyed watching all the different balloons fill up and float away. When the first one lifted off, the entire crowd cheered! It was so cool!
My mom said that they are simply the neatest things to see floating in the sky.
My daughter waved as they floated away and said, "Good-bye people!"
We used some vintage mason jars to make our own jack-o-lanterns by sticking painter's tape cut into triangles for the faces.
Paint one coat of orange acrylic craft paint.
Let the paint dry a little bit and then peel off the tape before it is completely dried.
I waited until it was completely dry and when I peeled the tape off, the paint peeled off a bit so I had to use an exacto knife to trace the shapes before completely removing them. Let them dry several hours or overnight.
(That's what my daughter named them.)
We are going to use battery operated tea lights in ours for safety.
My very dear friend, Elizabeth, shared some apples that her son brought home from his recent trip to Virginia. (Thank you Randy!)
They were so pretty that I just had to take a picture. (I am thinking of a nice sketch.) They were so delicious that they only lasted long enough for this photo shoot. I created this display by using two separate pieces of milk glass that are for sale in my etsy shop.
My mom always made the best mashed potatoes, and our entire family loves them. We look forward to having them around the holidays. The strangest thing is that she never likes to eat them. Go figure. Anyway, I found a sneaky and healthy way for her to try them this way:
About 10 small Yukon gold potatoes cut in 1 inch pieces (or any organic potatoes) peeled or leave the skins on if you prefer.
About 2-3 cups of fresh chopped broccoli, just rough chop, nothing too crazy
2-4 TBSP of sour cream
1-2 TBSP of Smart Balance (or butter if you prefer the extra calories)
About 1/3 cup to ½ cup organic milk (or whatever kind of milk you like)
First steam the potatoes with the broccoli (it looked like 1/2 potatoes and 1/2 broccoli after I put it in the pot) covered, for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. I love to use my cheap, stainless, little steamer basket that fits into just about any pan.
When they are done, drain or scoop potatoes and broccoli with a slotted spoon and put into a separate large bowl.
Add sour cream and butter (I just eyeballed it, and used however much I felt like.)
Mash with a masher or a fork. These are mashed potatoes people, not whipped! If you want them whipped, they may turn out looking too green, like for St. Patrick's day. Hmmm, not a bad idea. Anyway, slowly add milk to the consistency of your liking.
Finish with a dash of salt and/or pepper, or whatever seasonings you like and enjoy!
I held my breath when my mom tried them. She actually really liked these mashed potatoes.
I just wish I took a picture of her eating them so that I could prove to my family that she actually ate mashed potatoes. It's okay. She has already asked me to make them again.
I changed a basic meatball recipe to a healthier version for my daughter who is allergic to eggs, and they are pretty darn good!
1 lb. ground white turkey (hormone-free)
2 slices of any whole grain organic bread
About 1-2 Tbsp dried basil
(eyeball it and put as much as you like)
About 1 tsp Lawry’s Salt--or any mixed seasoning
(again, season to your liking and add whatever spices you fancy)
About ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
About ½ cup raw wheat germ
About 1 to ¾ cup organic milk
(any kind is fine---soymilk, almond milk, etc…)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Get a large bowl. Tear up the bread into small pieces, (I tear off the crusts and discard them.)Put the bread in the bowl with the seasonings, and dry ingredients.Mix with a fork and slowly add little bit of the milk.Use the fork to mash and mix, slowly adding more milk until everything starts to look very moist (not soupy, just very wet, sort of like the consistency of ricotta cheese.)
Next add all the ground turkey.Make sure your hands are clean and dig in with one hand.Squish, Squeeze, and mix well.The meatdough will seem sticky, so you will need to have your faucet running a little bit or have a bowl of water handy to wet your fingers to form the balls and to keep the meat from sticking to your fingers.Form into 1” or 1 ½” balls.
Place on the lined baking sheet.I made about 16, nicely sized ones.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until they appear done, usually white and no longer pink in the middle.
When they were done, I put 3 meatballs on a sliced hoagie already lined with Italian tomato sauce, drizzled on more sauce, and then finished it off with shredded mozzarella cheese.Then I broiled them in the oven on a separate baking sheet until golden and bubbly.
I have been looking at vintage wallpaper lately in search of the same exact pattern that was in my Nana's dining area. In my memory, it appears to be a faded, reddish, pink with white flowery circles on it. From what I learned, it could possibly be a geometric floral from either the 1940s or 1950s. I haven't had any luck finding it yet, but when I came across this toile wallpaper online, it totally reminded me of a small remnant of fabric I recently bought at my local Habitat for Humanity for only 99 cents!
So, what can I do with such a small piece of remnant fabric? I could make about 2 or 3 pillows. Instead I swiped my mom's little footstool that was looking a little depressed.
I gave it a new look by simply taking it apart and putting it back together like a puzzle, with a little help from the staple gun I borrowed from my husband's massive tool collection. This was my first attempt with a staple gun. I am thrilled to say that I didn't put an eye out, my fingers are intact, and the footstool looks much more cheerful now.
I have just enough fabric leftover to make a small pillow.
Fall is around the corner and 'tis time for me to make that delicious brew that goes with just about anything toasty on a cool day...baked potatoes, sweet potato french fries, garlic bread, grilled cheese? How about a panini? Oh boy, am I getting hungry. Sometimes plain little oyster crackers or goldfish crackers are the best. They are simple and happy just floating in a rainbow of veggies, beans, and noodles.
This soup is a staple in my freezer most of the time. It is an easy balanced meal for my Lily.
To make this simple, yummy soup, fill a large 6-8 qt. kettle 1/2 to 2/3 full of chicken broth (organic or low sodium is best.) I use about 3 containers of broth...the flip top box kind.
As the broth warms up, add a few shakes of whatever herbs and spices you fancy, eyeball it or add enough to float on the broth to look half way covered. I add basil, parsley, celery seed, and a mix like Lawry's salt. Don't worry if you over do it, as I also add 2-4 cups of water now as well. Sometimes, I add an onion, simply halved, just for flavor. Just cut it and let it sink to the bottom like a rock. I save the entire cooked onion as a treat for Grammy. She just loves onions! Then as the broth gets even warmer, I start adding the ingredients I like--a plain 12-16oz can of small diced tomatoes, a 12-16oz can of kidney beans (rinsed), a 12-16oz can of black beans(rinsed), and then a few packets of Stevia sweetener (or few tablespoons of sugar if you prefer) to cut down the tanginess of the tomatoes. You can use whatever beans you like, or omit them and use diced chicken. Then as the water starts to boil, I add a large bag of frozen mixed vegetables, not the small bag of 16 ounces, but a bag maybe twice that size. Again, use whatever veggies you like. Stir the pot a little and after the soup is boiling, I add 1/2 box of any noodle in the pantry. I like to use the mixed veggie kinds, for that extra oomph of nutrition. Turn down the heat to simmer. Stir occasionally. If you use the whole box of noodles, your soup may turn into stew. So just stick with 1/2 a box. Sometimes, you can add a cup of orzo and the noodles as well.
Turn off the heat when the noodles are soft to eat. Taste and add extra seasonings as needed.
After the soup cools a bit, ladle into small storage containers to freeze.
These hinged flip type lids are a new thing I am trying. I think I prefer the regular snap on type instead of these. Again, use whatever you like.
After they are frozen completely, on any day, these single serving size are perfect for a quick meal. They are so easy to defrost in just minutes. Simply run warm or hot water over the bottom of the frozen soup bowl until it loosens. Then put the soup/ice block into a ceramic/glass microwave safe bowl. Cover with a sheet of wax paper and defrost or cook until thawed and hot. Or just until warm if you are serving for a child. If it is too hot, I simply add an ice cube or two and let them stir it. That simple procedure is so fun for kids. Add some crackers and a side dish of fruit and cheese, and voila! My kid is happy with this nutritious, allergy friendly, less than 30 minutes meal. Beat that Rachael Ray! :)
This summer I went on treasure hunts to find furniture to makeover. I quickly learned that I need/want to sew. Not just with a needle and thread by hand, but by machine! I never liked the idea of using a sewing machine. I never even had the patience to learn to use one. I found an old sewing book from the 1960s at my local goodwill and just loved the artwork in it. Also, I found an old pair of pinking shears still in the box!
If this old stuff doesn't inspire me to learn how to use a sewing maching, then perhaps the fact that my sweet cousin has a love of a certain toile fabric? Well it did. I just sat right down in the driver's seat and went for a ride! With my mom's guidance, I took several notes---ok, I resorted to capturing her on video due to my ignorance of sewing terms---a zipper foot vs. a regular foot? Who said anything about special feet? Are we going shopping for shoes? Count me in! I can't even remember the other terms on the machine. Anyway, my mom is the BEST! She helped me sew my first project! Here is a sneak peek of the fabric...my cousin, Boston Bee, already knows what I am up to ;)
As for those really neat pinking shears...yeah, what are those for? Cutting fancy paper? No, not really. I will be using those bad boys to cut ribbons for project pony. Remember me mentioning mini-me test riding this icky thing at the Gdub?
First, she happily played salon and gave it a haircut. Then, after heavy sanding, priming, painting, and more sanding...pony actually turned out pretty!
For a new mane and tail, Creative Cousin Alyssa suggested some colorful ribbons to make her very whimsical. Fantastic idea Aly! Lily had a blast picking out rolls and rolls of different ribbons.
Sadly, pretty pony has been bald over the summer. My dilemma was how to attach ribbons without them falling apart or unravel. I bought a shining new staple/finishing nail gun and heavy duty glue sticks. Hmmmm....what to do. I think for now, pillows take priority over pony. Oops! Did I just spoil my surprise? Drat.
Well, Gram and I came up with a nifty plan that just work out just fine. She is happy in her new home and doesn't mind having her mane braided.
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I have been visiting with family and I have been hunting for new treasures to makeover for my new hobby. I am not ready to give a sneak peek just yet, but summer is almost over and I am still trying to enjoy all the wonderful fruits that are blossoming. The other day, I was munching on a beautiful white nectarine that was so juicy and yummy that I grabbed some colored pencils and sketched the bowl of them---they were scrumptious! Sadly, they are all gone, but here is what is left...
(Sorry the pic is not right side up...my computer is not cooperating...the gray shadows should be on the bottom.)
Another lovely fruit...the mango. It never goes unappreciated!
This fresh cucumber-mango salad is inspired by my friend, Natasha.
In a large bowl, add 1 large cucumber diced up, 1 ripe mango cut in little pieces to your liking, about 1/4 cup-1/2 cup fresh parsley (just eyeball it, so you don't use too much), drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil, and squeeze the juice of an orange on top. Gently mix and serve. Dee-lish!
My first table makeover is about to be revealed! I was so excited when I found this sad, ucky brown table, that was crying to be loved. I brought it home to my garage and gave it a quick sanding and bath of kilz
My wonderful and amazing cousin, Alyssa, suggested a very pretty, sea mist gray with a hint of lavender called, "Bay Fog", for a fresh new look. Well, unfortunately, my local Walmart does not carry the Kilz line of paint anymore (How dare they!) However, I did find a wonderful, new, 2-in-1 paint by the Glidden Brilliance Collection, which I absolutely love. The color is called, "Amethyst Haze". While the 2nd coat was drying, a moth landed right on top of the table! It left tracks and got stuck which was really gross! I set it free, and the next day, I had to do some sanding. Well, that sour experience gave me a wonderful lemonade idea. I ended up sanding all over and now the new gal looks like a shabby chic gem!
Her name, "Ooh La La Lavender By the Sea."
I had so much fun with my first makeover and I am looking forward to doing more.
My daughter said that her toy dog, Myrtle Beach, needs a friend. So, while browsing the craft section at our local Walmart, she picked out a small swatch of fabric. (Dog print of course, for this canine loving gal!) She also picked out a small package of little buttons to use for eyes and a nose.
When we got home, I just traced a small paper template of what we wanted to use on the reverse side of the fabric with a pencil. I did this twice so that we would have the front and back of the friend. Next, I cut them out and then pinned them together inside out and hand stitched along the pencil tracing (leave the top or bottom open to stuff with fluff). After stitching, I turned it right side in, and had little hands stuff to liking. I had to use the handle of a teaspoon to get the arms and legs just right before stuffing, and then while stuffing. Once the little guy was just right, I stitched the opening closed and used a hot glue gun to stick on the eyes and nose. When he was completed, guess what she named him? Watermelon.
My mom's pine green bistro chairs have been looking pretty sad lately...tattered and a bit rusty. I believe she acquired these over 10 years ago, hand-me-downs from someone whose name shall not be mentioned for security reasons (ah hem...big brother from FL.)
These are screaming for some TLC!
After a wire brush aggressively attacked them, my niece kindly rescued and comforted them with the base Rustoleum primer and then I finished up with the final coats of Rustoleum color of Gram's choice.
Voila! A new bistro set minus the table---not exactly sure how to salvage Mater with the glass top just yet.