Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Yummies!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

It's a yummy day filled with family and goodies. We're enjoying the day with my sister, her family and my parents. There are so many luscious smells in here. The turkey just came in from the fryer and the mashed potatoes are going in the oven. Everything looks so good, and this year there's one dish in particular I'm looking forward to...the sweet potatoes.

Ok, so this post is all about the sweet potatoes. I've never liked the traditional sweet potato dish. Marshmallows on top, sugary yams on the bottom...yuck!!! But this year my dad made something completely different and they're delish!

He started with the recipe for Praline Yams on the back of the Princella can of sweet potatoes. But instead of whole chunks of yams he mashed them in the pan and added 1/2 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt, dash of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon (perhaps a bit more of the cinnamon than a dash). This was all for 2 29 oz. cans of sweet potatoes. Then he mixed up the topping as indicated on the can and baked it for about 35 minutes. Holy Cow!!! I like sweet potatoes!!!

Here's the original recipe...with a few additions:

Ingredients:

29 oz can of Princella sweet potatoes
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/3 packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Additional ingredients for mashed sweet potatoes:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
Dash of nutmeg, ground ginger & cinnamon

Heat oven to 350. Place drained potatoes in an ungreased 1 & 1/2 quart casserole dish.

Extra steps: mash the potatoes in the pan. Add the additional ingredients and mix well.

In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Blend well. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

If you don't like the traditional sweet potatoes then I challenge you to try these. You just might change your mind!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Treasure all your holiday memories!!!





Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's a Burlap Christmas...Stockings Galore!

I love Christmas!!!  It's my favorite holiday by far.  I love decorating for Christmas...but not in a tacky way. 

I also love burlap...but I think we've established that fact.  I've pinned so many burlap ideas...more than I could possibly accomplish, or store for that matter.  I want a burlap Christmas...well, Christmas decor at least.  So when I saw this beauty on Pinterest by Cry Baby Ink I knew I had my inspiration...as well as some fantastic ideas.

 
 
The Burlap Christmas obsession started with my tree skirt...seen here.  But that was just the beginning.  The next step had to be stockings.  I searched the Internet for stocking ideas.  I needed help constructing them, plus topper ideas...5 to be exact...or elements from several to make the ideal stockings for my taste.  Finally after months of planning (since last Christmas) I had everything I needed. 
 
Since I have 5 stockings to show I'll begin with construction of the stocking first, then I'll explain each stocking topper.
 

To start I took an old stocking that I liked the shape of.  I traced it on blank newspaper paper I had and added a 3/4 inch seam allowance (See #1).  I then cut out 10 stockings in natural burlap and 10 stockings in muslin.  (Two of each for one stocking.  See #2)

(Ignore the top for now...we'll get to that later)
 
To line the inside of the stocking I sewed one piece of muslin to one piece of burlap (right sides together) at the top (See #1).  Do this for both the front and back pieces.  Iron the seam allowance toward the stocking.  Then pin the front to the back, right sides together, matching the seams carefully and leaving about a 4" opening for turning the stocking (See #3).
 
(Keep ignoring the top for now...)
 
Turn the stocking right side out, then iron the burlap seams.  It takes some time and maneuvering to pull the seams out to iron.  The burlap was stiff and didn't want to cooperate all the time, but take the time.  It makes it look so much better.  Also, iron the lining where the opening is so that you can stitch it down.  Then of course stitch it closed (See #2).  Once it's closed shove the lining back inside the burlap stocking and work it along the edges all the way to the toe. 
 
(One more time...ignore the top...for now)
 
I learned something at this point...but it was on stocking #3...and it's a nifty tip.  I wanted to tack the lining to the stocking so that when we pulled out our gifts it didn't pull the lining out to.  The first two stockings I did this blind by putting my hand down in the stocking and hand stitching it.  It was very hard to do and I do NOT recommend it.  For some reason on the 3rd stocking I figured out that if I'd turn it inside out I could stitch the lining to the seam of the stocking and it was easy.
 
The word "DUH" we used in high school does come to mind...I can hear you saying it now!!!
 
So that's how I did it from then on.  And it was SOOO much easier!  Just hand stitch it...nothing fancy...in several different places (See #1).  To hang the stocking I took 3 - 15" lengths of hemp cord, tied it on the end then used my sewing maching needle to hold it while I braided it.  Then I tied it at the end and attached it by sewing it in on the heel corner.  I did this with 4 of the 5 stockings.  One of them I attached in the lining (See #1 & #2 below), but my sewing machine had a hard time with the thickness, so I stuck with hand sewing them after that.  It worked...we'll see how it holds up over the years...
 
That was the last of the Basic Stocking assembly.  I did the same with each stocking...now on to the toppers...the fun pretty part!!!
 


To start with I had to determine my measurements.  I used my self healing board with the ruler to determine the width and length of the toppers.  Then I cut burlap, muslin, ribbon and other materials for each of my toppers.  Then I had to press them all out nice and neat.  If you can't tell my main colors were cream, natural burlap and touches of red.  Each stocking had to have something of each of those colors.  The fun part was the red.  I just wanted touches of them in fun ways.

For the guys, I found an idea I liked for my husband at Style By Design that fit perfectly in the "theme" I was going for.  I loved the natural buttons with the pop of red on top and bottom.  Then I saw another one with buttons and pleats at Make It & Love It.  It just spoke Bubba (my oldest) to me.  Theirs had white buttons on white fabric.  I decided to do red buttons...that little POP again...instead of the white.  For my Hoss (middle guy) I saw one at Cozy.Cottage.Cute.  She has a great tutorial for a stocking, but I didn't follow it exactly.  For this stocking it has buttons and a pleated ruffle.

Are you seeing the pattern here???
 
Now that I've set the scene...here's what they look like.
 

I measured and pressed all the pleats in the muslin fabric.  I had measurements for this, but since this was the first one I did I've lost the measurements...so I have to wing this.  I think that I took the length I wanted the finished product to be x 3 then added 3/4 an inch for each end for seam allowance.  I believe the pleats are 1/2 inch deep with 1/4 inch between one to the other. 

Ok, my eyes aren't even focusing tonight so I don't know if this is accurate since I can't even see this picture clearly.  But look at #1...it shows the measurements on the pleats.  Sorry, I normally have more details...not tonight however.  Once I had all the pleats ironed and pinned on the side (See #2 & #3) I flipped it over to sew it.  Let me see if I can explain this right cause I don't have pictures.  I matched the stitching line on the bottom of the muslin pleated piece with the bottom stitching line on the stocking.  So the pleats would be face down on the stocking hanging towards the bottom of the stocking.  Stitch it then flip it up toward the top of the stocking.  This keeps the stitching from showing and gives a nice, crisp line you can press on the bottom.  See #4 how you can see the stitching underneath the piece?  Yeah, that's what I mean.  Then pin and stitch the top and sides of the piece in the seam allowance.

Was that as clear as mud???
 
 
I then sewed the piece together as I explained above.  After it was sewn together I added the buttons.  I do NOT recommend doing it this way.  I didn't think I'd know where to sew them without it.  It was a pain in the butt!!!  I'll explain how I fixed this on the other stockings later.  Anyway, I finished this off as I explained above and it was done!  This was by far the hardest one!  I was SOO glad to get it completed!!!
 
Next in line was Hoss' stocking. 
 

Remember I told you she had a good tutorial.  I followed hers, within reason, making a few adjustments.  She had hers go all the way around the stocking.  I just wanted it on the front.  So I halved her measurements, grabbed my masking tape, ruler and iron.  The tape is really handy keeping things in place.  I just recommend putting it below the stitching line.  It's easier to peel off (See #2 & #3).  I'll let her tutorial explain because she's much more detailed.


I added my POP of red with the buttons across the top.  Oh, remember I said this was the one I sewed the hanger into the lining.  Yeah, first and last time.  And just like that this one's done!

 
2 of 5...we're getting there!
 
Last of the guys was my hubby's!
 

Remember, his was the inspiration for the two boys stockings.  It had to have that POP of red at the top and bottom.  The red and natural are both burlap.  I zigzagged all the way around both pieces to keep them from fraying.  Then I sewed them down using matching thread.  Then I ironed under the long edges of the muslin and sewed it down right along the edges.


This time with the buttons I got smart!  I measured in from the edge of the stocking 3/4" for the seam allowance, added a little more and placed the buttons.  It was probably 1 1/4" from the edge.  It worked so much easier!  (I'm hearing another "DUH"!  You're saying it...don't deny it!!!)  You're probably asking why I worried about sewing these in now.  Well, let me explain...I didn't want the stitches coming through the lining fabric.  I wanted all the "yucky stuff" covered up under the lining.  Once I did the buttons I finished it off like I describe above and voila!!!


The boys' are DONE!!!
 

Now on to us Ladies!!!  This time I started with mine.


I started with a lacy white fabric I found at JoAnn's.  I loved the details, but it was white...VERY white!  So I tea dyed the whole piece (1/4 of a yard).  It turned out EXACTLY the color of my muslin.  PERFECT!  I ironed under on the bottom edge and sewed it close to the edge on the bottom and within the seam allowance on the top.  Then I used a piece of burlap that I zigzagged around just like my hubby's above.  For the POP of red I used a piece of red ribbon and sewed it right down the middle...I'm covering this up so it didn't matter if the stitching showed. 


I wanted mine to be very feminine so I strung some pearls on a thread.  I didn't want them in the seam allowance because it would be too thick, so I measured and was careful to not add too many beads.  Using a bead needle I stitched them down coming up and hooking back through about every 6th bead or so.  This ensures that it won't droop when it's hanging and that it stays on that line (Gotta camouflage it you know!)  Instead of buttons us girls have flowers.  So I attached lace, ribbon rose with some red beads as the center.  I finished it off and that's #4!

Finally...we're just about done!!!  Believe me, this is how I felt about this point!


I followed the same steps on my daughter's stocking as I did on mine to begin with.  Attached the fabric and burlap...BUT...they can't be exactly the same.  So with hers I used the red ribbon to make a rose for her POP of red.  It was so simple yet feminine, and after 4 stockings it seemed almost anticlimactic.  Hey, it works!


I sewed on the rose, finished it off and DONE!!!  Well...they're all almost done...there's just one more thing I wanted to add, but that's for next week's post!!!


So to recap...here's Mom & Dad's stockings.  They're the more elaborate ones...and the inspiration for the kids' stockings.


And here they all are together.  I cannot wait to see all these Treasures up on the mantle this year...for our Burlap Christmas!!!


Jennifer

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Frosted Vases

Hello again...

It's been a while!  Whatcha been up to lately?  Well me, let's see, I got busy with PTA stuff again.  I'm co-chair for a sweatshirt committee and that took a bunch of time. 

Cody, my middle guy, modeling said sweatshirt.
 
I'm chair of our annual craft fair at the school that happens in the spring, and planning meetings are going on. Add to that being mom...oh, and a wreck a couple of weeks ago (not my fault and we're all ok...our car fared much better as the hittee than the hitters...see below) I haven't been able to find the time to craft let alone blog about it. 
 
The Honda is the hitter.  Mine is the Mazda.  That is my spare tire under his front end!
 Today was the last day of Fall break for my kids.  We had a few extra boys, which means my poor daughter was bored stiff!  So I had to come up with something fun we could do that was "Girly"!  I've had this little project setting on the back burner for a while, so I decided we were going to tackle it today.  I've seen the Frosted Vases all over Pinterest and this last summer while garage sale-ing someone gave us a box of glass vases.  Cheap Craft!!!  That's what I saw.  I had frosted glass spray left over from the Window Message Center I'd done earlier this year, I have rubber bands, I have painter's tape, and a few extra items...all it takes is a bit of time and some imagination.  Here's what we came up with...
 

1.  Pieces & Parts: I cleaned up the vases from the layers of dust and skeletal bodies (some sort of insect I don't even want to think about).  I found the old garage sale labels because they're sticky and round...they make perfect polka dots!  I got out the rubber bands and the painter's tape...

2.  Of course I have to show the frosted spray.  This project wouldn't even come close to working without it.  I'm no expert with frosted spray (as I'll explain later), but I sure do like the effect.  It turns ordinary into extraordinary!

3.  My Sweet Pea!!!  I was going to give her the rubber band job, but her small hands weren't working well stretching those around the vase.  So she asked for the polka dot job.  She did a FANTASTIC job applying them in a random way.  She is very proud of her work...as am I!!!

I  rubber banded both of the other vases.  On the tall, skinny one I made sure each rubber band was smooth with no twists in the bands.  I waved them up and down crisscrossing them over each other.  The wider vase I made sure I twisted the bands and stretched them further to see what kind of effect it would create.


We then took them outside to spray them.  And here's where I learned a bit about frosting spray.  I wasn't as careful as I should be to be even with the spray.  It really stands out when you spray too much in one spot.  Oh, well...this is a learning experience and a homemade one...it's supposed to be imperfect.  Anyway, I sprayed them all till they looked good and coated.  It's also hard to see where you're spraying when you're out in the sun. 


Once I got them where I wanted them (or so I thought) I let them dry for an hour.  Then I carefully peeled off the polka dots.  If not careful peeling the stickers off it's easy to scratch some of the frosting.  So I did this process slowly.  Then I carefully removed the bands one at a time...from the last one on to the first...like pick up sticks.  The effect left behind was amazing!  I love it!!!


They turned out great.  The twisting of the rubber bands left a wonderful effect.  The flattening of the bands on the other vase with the waving and crisscrossing is awesome too.  Then the polka dots!  I just love them all.  Now I just have to get something to put in them and a place they can call home.  Yet another Treasure...and a memory with my daughter!!!

Oh, forgot to mention...I have to give a shout out to my sister @ The Concrete Cottage.  She hooked me up with picmonkey.  It's a great online photo editing site.  I collaged and edited my photos with it today.  I so needed the help getting all my photos in check.  I can go a bit overboard with the clicking and snapping if you know what I mean.  Thanks Sis!!!


Jennifer

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Favorite Wall


Four years ago we moved into our current home.  We have painted 7 rooms and the hallways.  I've decorated and contemplated in each room.  I love most of them ... with only a few exceptions, but I have to say that of all of the things we have done this is by far my most favorite wall in the house.


It started with a stock photo my sister had.  I loved the layout of the pictures...the idea of the larger and smaller photos in the collage...and so I decided to use it for our hall wall with our kiddos.  I didn't use the exact layout as above, and I'm much more precise...some would say anal...about my layout.  Here's how mine turned out:



Each of my children have their section from oldest to youngest.  Each has 2 large photos.  The top one is a close up of their faces...one of my favorites from when they were little.  The bottom ones are photos I took of them at an arboretum here in town.  Each child has 2 medium sized photos.  One is a candid photo with daddy, and the other is just another favorite of mine.  Then there are 3 littler photos for each child.  The middle one is another favorite candid shot, then I have 2 pictures in each group of the flowers from the day at the arboretum. 







Then as an added bonus I had a vinyl verse I'd picked up at Hobby Lobby...on sale of course.  It had been sitting in our bedroom to go up on our wall.  I decided it would go much better here.  I love the verse:

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" Joshua 24:15
 

It is the perfect top to the perfect wall.  My pieces of Treasure displayed in a wall that I treasure!!!

Thanks for stopping by,


Jennifer

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

And it begins...


Have you stopped off at The Concrete Cottage?  It's my little Sis' blog.  She is my inspiration all the time.  I CASE so many of her things.  Well, now she's gone and done it.  She got me started on chalk paint.  She loves Annie Sloan's brand.  I, however, cannot afford Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint.  So I did some research and found a recipe for some.  I tried it out and it worked wonders!!!  I love it.  So...inspiration #1.

Then, this week she posted some of the cabinets she's working on.  She's putting them in her laundry room to make it a laundry/craft room.  Inspiration #2!!!!

I have wanted to change my cabinets for several years now.  It's an expensive process and I can't put that much money up front right now.  But...I can use some chalk paint that I've already made up and all it costs me is time and effort...so here's the start.




 
Here's all the before shots...well, not a close up, but you get the picture...love the pun!!!


And the first coat goes on...!!!
 
This will be a long process.  I will update as I go along, but it'll take a while.  Just think, in a year (hopefully less) I can look back and say..."Remember when..."!!!
 
 
Jennifer


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Repurposing and a Wall Coat Hanger

 
FALL!!!
 
It's my favorite season of the year!  But it also means something else...winter is just around the corner.  It seems like I barely get time between the heat of Summer and the cold of Winter to get those spectacular days of open window weather...and then the coats come out.
 
I have 3 kids...you all knew that right?  But did you know that they're pre teens to teens.  And add to that Winter weather and the need for jackets/coats.  Do you know what happens in my house?  Yep, coats everywhere.
 
I have this lovely spot right behind my door.  It begs for something to fill the space.  Why do I call it lovely?  Because it's got MAYBE ten inches of space and gets very little visibility.  How in the world do you decorate a low visibility, tiny space?
 
When we moved in to this house the family before us left a wooden, very dated coat hanger.  It had 4 hooks, was wood with a lovely mirror heart in the middle.  Ok, it was NOT pretty, but it was useful.  My kids filled that thing every winter.  (It's 3 kids...how do we have 12 dozen coats for 3 kids?????)  But when we painted the hallway we took the hanger down and low and behold it was broken on the back side.  Since it was SOOOO beautiful...I threw that thing away as fast as I could!!!  It's been 3 years and I have yet to replace it...that is till this FIRST DAY OF FALL!!!
 
Anticipation of a nice cold Winter!!!
 
But this is about repurposing right?
 
Ok, so for months I've been pinning things to Pinterest.  I have so many lovely things I'd love to make for my house.  I'm drawn especially to old wood...cheap wood...the kind like you get when you see a sign that says "FREE PALLETS"!!!  Now that makes a Pinner HAPPY!  I made a stop and found this one pallet that was in great shape: thick wood, not overly aged, good structure...the kind you NEVER find.  But there was only one. You bet I got it.  Problem was, like in many of my projects, I had NO idea what to do with it.  We thought about making a bench out of it for the kids to fall on.  That was going to be expensive for all the padding.  So the pallet sat there for months.  Till one day...
 
I remembered this lovely spot behind my door...and the fact that I didn't have a coat hanger that I'd plan to replace years ago.  Voila!  But a pallet is a HUGE thing to hang on a wall and I'd have to hang it rather low just so it would fit.  Idea #2...cut half of it off.  I consulted with my Cigar Geek and he concurred that this would be an interesting idea.
 
.
So...here's where we start.  My Cigar Geek cut the yuckiest half off the pallet (the one that had gotten water logged), but then removed the loose boards off of the top rung.  He then took that rung and pounded it in the middle of the bottom section.  From here it looks like a full pallet...kinda...but if you notice it's rectangular and not square.
 
It was exactly what I wanted...size wise that is...but it still looked a bit too "new" for me, and I don't have any dark wax nor did I want to stain it.  So I grabbed what has become a new "painting" medium for me.
 

Brown Kiwi Shoe Polish
 
I rubbed it all over and darkened up the wood.  It wasn't a huge difference, but it did bring out some of the pretty texture in the grain.
 


To finish it off...the wood that is...I grabbed the Minwax Waxing Paste (not the specific name, but it's close) and for the first time applied it to wood...go figure!
 

I waxed and waxed (sore fingers and all), then buffed and buffed...and I cannot imagine going back to polyurethane ever again!!!
 

It's a beautiful thing!  I could not believe how rich it made the wood look.  I am a wax lover now!!!
 

Now the pallet shelf is ready!
 
Wait, there's something missing...what could it be?
 
Oh, yeah, HOOKS!!!
 
PROBLEM...I want the hooks to attach to the bottom...horizontally...Home Depot & Lowes...NOPE!  They don't carry hooks that attach horizontally and still hook.  I couldn't find them anywhere.  Cigar Geek found them on-line, but I wanted them locally (ok, impatient I know...but dang it...I worked hard...I want it DONE!)
 
So we decided to try a hardware store, NOPE!  But we had to drive by a Hobby Lobby...might as well try.  I had no idea where to look, but my first thought was in the drawer/door knob area.  Low and behold there was this ONE hook that was designed to hang vertically, but it had enough filigree on it that it could be hung horizontally and work...we tried!  And this is why I love Hobby Lobby...they were 50% off!!!  SCORE!  4 for the price of 2...can't beat that!  Problem solved!!!
 
So today Cigar Geek took the time to attach my hooks and then hang this heavy coat hanger on the "Lovely Spot" on my wall. 
 
BRING ON THE COLD...WE'RE READY FOR WINTER!!!
(ok, not too quickly...I want to enjoy the Fall!)
 



Now our coats have a place to hang, the gloves and hats have a place to sit, and I don't have the clutter in the living room (or in the kids' bedrooms).
 
TREASURE!!!
 
Thanks all for stopping by!
 





Jennifer

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