Category Archives: Home

Halloween Cookie Extravaganza!

I went on a bit of a baking binge this week. It was partially driven by the fact that I’d volunteered to donate treats to the school for Spooky Story Night, and also by the fact that I went 10 days without an oven.

img_2578

If you want to make something quick and easy this Halloween, try out these Gooey Monster Eye Cookies. I found the small candy eyes in the baking section of my grocery store, and the larger candy eyes came from Hobby Lobby.

Gooey Monster Cookies

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 egg

green gel food coloring

powdered sugar

candy eyeballs

  1. In a stand mixer, combine butter, vanilla, egg, and cream cheese. Beat until fluffy.
  2. Add cake mix and stir until combined.
  3. Add food coloring. Once the mixture reaches the desired color, chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Roll dough into 1 and 1/2-inch balls, then roll in powdered sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, and push candy eyes into cookies while warm.

The original recipe comes from Lil’ Luna’s blog.

These cookies are really gooey and delicious. The next time I make them, I’ll probably try using white cake mix instead of yellow. I wanted more of a Mike Wazowski green, and what I ended up with was a bit more Oscar the Grouch.

My second cookie project of the week was a bit more involved. OK, it was a lot more involved.

I have a good friend who is a cookie master. I tried decorating sugar cookies myself years ago for Neely’s Hello Kitty birthday party, and the results were horrible. Helene saved the day! Since then, she’s shared her cookie-making secrets with me and taught me a thing or two about royal icing.

img_2586This was my first attempt all on my own. I definitely have room for improvement, but all things considered, I’m really happy with how these turned out. I may not have been able to cook dinner for my family for two days with cookie accoutrements spread all over the kitchen, but I have desserts for days!

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , ,

Moving Day (is tomorrow)

On the surface, a move looks like fun. Especially when you’re moving from a cold, small-ish place to a warmer, larger place. The reality, though, is that we’re leaving a lot of friends behind who have come to feel like family to us. We spend holidays together. We celebrate birthdays together. We get together for a drink at the end of a long, horrible week. We get together, because we’re bored. While I am SO thankful that we do already have friends where we’re headed, it’s going to be really sad to leave people behind.

I have loved our time here in Minot, North Dakota. That might sound crazy, especially since there are a whole lot of folks who avoid this place like the plague, but I have. It’s sad to leave home. Again.

I’ll leave you with a fun collage of our 3+ years here…and go cry myself to sleep. I hope our paths cross again, friends!

Tagged , , , ,

Seven.

DSC_0152This cute little thing celebrated her seventh birthday today. Seven! I am officially a big kid mom.

We had her birthday party last weekend at the indoor pool. The kids had a lot of fun.

DSC_0134

DSC_0139

DSC_0133

DSC_0141

DSC_0144

DSC_0159

Neely’s party theme was “Teen Beach Movie” this year. I cannot take any credit for the cake this time around. I took a photo to Cookies For You and handed over my credit card. I wanted a low-stress party without spending days working on a cake. I didn’t realize that driving the darn thing home was going to give me an anxiety attack.

For today, of course, we had to make cupcakes for Neely’s class. I think you get kicked out of first grade and shunned by all the other children if you don’t bring treats on your birthday. I baked, and Neely decorated. She’s a great helper.

DSC_0172

DSC_0177

See? A cupcake masterpiece.

After school, there were two last birthday requests to fulfill. 1) A trip to the zoo. 2) Dinner at McDonald’s. (no photographs needed)

DSC_0180

DSC_0183

We brought half the kids from our street along with us. The zoo was pretty empty, so they had a blast running around like they owned the place. I think every animal has a name now.

DSC_0192

Aren’t they a good-looking bunch?

DSC_0196

We’ll probably keep them.

DSC_0202

One more for the road – me and my girl. It’s nice to have a friend to man the camera every once in a while.

Happy seventh, Neely Bug!

Tagged

Back to School: 2015 Edition

After what may have been the shortest summer ever, my kids started school again this week. It’s always a bittersweet day. Combine the excitement of a new year, new teacher, and new friends with the sadness of losing the ability to wake on your own every morning, ride bikes, and eat popsicles all day with the glorious anticipation of finally having five consecutive minutes without a child asking me for something (usually the aforementioned popsicles) and you get the first day of school.

Neely climbed into bed with me sometime the night before, so when 7:00am came and her alarm started playing…well, it wasn’t very helpful. At 7:15am, I threw back the blackout curtains, opened the blinds, and watched the vampire burn. (I’ve discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns on Pivot. Sue me.) Anyway, she grumpily clomped down the stairs in search of a darker spot and decided the kitchen floor was good enough. That’s when I decided to take the first of the first day of school pictures.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.35.04 PMThe worst part of the school year is getting this little darling out of bed each morning. Last year, I kept hoping it would get easier. It didn’t. She’s just not a morning person. Ah, well.

Everyone did manage to get dressed, eat breakfast, have lunch packed, and do their chores on time. They even left me enough time to take MORE pictures. (bwoah-ha-ha-ha…)

DSC_0116

My first grader. She perked up pretty well.

DSC_0124

My fourth grader. He’s my early riser. This little man has been up at 7:00am every day, all summer long. He gets himself dressed and makes his bed without being asked. Thank goodness one of them makes mornings easier.

DSC_0125

Of course, I had to take a sweet pic of the two kiddos together. And then this happened…

DSC_0128

DSC_0129

DSC_0130

I literally laughed out loud when I found those in the camera. I remember telling them to act silly and snapping a few pictures really quickly, but I was so intent on putting the camera away and getting everyone to school on time that I didn’t realize what I’d gotten.

In case you were wondering, they both have had a great first week so far. They like their teachers. They have friends in their classes. The love riding bikes and scooters to school and home with all their Rockridge friends. I have high hopes for this year. I’m glad it’s all beginning well.

 

Tagged , , ,

The Fairy Garden

On my last visit home, inside Yarrow Acres, a lovely gardening shop on Main Street, I discovered something wonderful – fairy gardens. I know these are not a new phenomenon, but somehow, I had never seen one before!

I love all things miniature and really, really wanted one to call my own. My first step was to turn to Pinterest. I searched the web for all things fairy. There are all kinds of wonderful crafters on Etsy, creating tiny houses, furniture, animals, fruits and vegetables, everything you need! Another great resource is the dollhouse section of Hobby Lobby…just don’t forget your 40% off coupon!

When it came down to the wire, though, I wasn’t confident in my ability to plant the fairy garden. Accessorizing and decorating it? No problem. But no one has ever accused me of having a green thumb.

Enter Lowe’s Floral in Minot. Just before Mother’s Day, Lowe’s posted photos of a gorgeous fairy garden on their Facebook page. When John and the kids started making noise about buying flowers, I firmly hinted that a fairy garden would be a much better idea. 🙂

My garden was custom made, so I had to be patient. We picked up my lovely last weekend.

DSC_0023

I adore it! I added the little red wagon, the pennant, and the tiny gardening tools, but the rest is exactly the way it came from Lowe’s. I need to get some tiny flowers and maybe some veggies to add to the pots.

DSC_0025

And look! It even has a little gnome friend! He likes to drink coffee with me on the porch. What’s up, Gnomey? 😉

I love my fairy garden, and I’m really glad I didn’t try to tackle it myself. You’d probably be seeing me on one of those Pinterest fail lists if I had.

Tagged , , ,

Summer Travels – What I’ve Learned

As most of you know, me and the munchkins traveled a heck of a lot this summer. We hit…hold on, let me count how many states…

1. North Dakota (where we started)

2. Minnesota

3. Wisconsin

4. Illinois

5. Indiana

6. Kentucky

7. Tennessee

8. Alabama

9. Florida

10. Georgia

11. Hawaii

12. Arkansas

13. Louisiana

14. Texas

15. Oklahoma

16. Kansas

17. Nebraska

18. Iowa

19. South Dakota

Holy cow. 19 states. We almost visited half of the 50 states. To say we’re exhausted, tired of the car, and relieved to finally be home is a bit of an understatement. We have definitely had an adventure. I think I can safely say that we won’t be doing it again on purpose.

What has the nomad summer taught me? A lot, actually. Since I’ve already started with the numbering business, I might as well keep it up.

1. I cannot eat healthy when I’m not at home. I don’t know why. It’s practically an impossibility. If I’m not cooking, I feel completely out of control. Unless I’m at my parents’ house, where I have no choice but to be Paleo. So I’m still out of control, just in a healthy fad kind of a way.

2. Having to do laundry in someone else’s home makes me feel like an alien. I have no idea why. I apologize to (and thank) everyone who allowed me to put our dirty underpants in your washing machines all summer long. I’m glad to be back to my own machine.

3. I do not need over half the clothes in my closet. No, really. I packed what would fit in a carry-on sized suitcase. For the entire summer. I hardly missed a thing I left behind. Some major purging is happening now, folks. I realized that if I didn’t miss it, I definitely don’t need to keep it.

4. She & Him Volume 3 puts Neely to sleep almost instantly. Every time. It’s like road trip magic.

5. Home is where your stuff is. Not that carry-on and duffle bag I hauled all over the country. My STUFF. Home is where I have piles of junk mail and catalogs accumulated on the counter. It’s where I can walk into a room and rearrange the furniture, because it’s MINE. It’s where I can sleep without pants on and roam around without a bra under my baggy tee. It’s where I have to cook and wash the dishes every day, because I am not a guest. It’s where my slippers and my bathrobe are, because they’re too big to pack. It’s where bedtime goes down like a charm, because everyone has their own room.

When I left North Dakota, I was dissatisfied. I don’t live here because I chose to, but because I was told I have to. It has taken me an incredibly long time to come to terms with that. I have never not wanted something as badly as I didn’t want to live in North Dakota. I mean, I’m from the South. Surely this can be seen as cruel and unusual punishment. And for what? I have no idea. It took leaving for a while, leaving all of our possessions behind, for me to figure out that North Dakota is, in fact, my home now. I may not love the snow, but I get to live with it. I get to sleep in my own bed here and use my own washing machine, which is a really, really good thing. 🙂

I’ll be getting back to my usual-type posting very soon.

Tagged , ,

Make – Jewelry Organizer

I have been in desperate need of jewelry organizing solutions for a while now. A small jewelry box on my dresser houses my favorites and most oft-worn pieces. I also have an earring frame that an aunt made me years ago that holds my earrings. But that’s it. Everything else has been crammed into jewelry boxes and bags in a small drawer in my dresser for a while now. It’s a complete disaster. When I try to find something, pretty much everything has to come out until I locate what I want.

DSC_0010

Enter this empty frame that I found in the Hobby Lobby clearance aisle a few years ago. It used to live on my living room wall…two houses ago. Since then, it’s just been hanging out in various closets. I finally found a way to give it new purpose. All you need to do this project yourself is an empty frame, a roll of mesh hardware cloth (mine has 1/4-inch squares), a staple gun, wire cutters, and some S hooks.

Begin by cutting the hardware mesh to fit the back of the frame. This is the trickiest/most time-consuming part. I’m sure there is something more efficient to use than the little wire snips that I have. If you have something better, by all means, use it!

Once you have your piece of mesh, flip the frame over, and staple the mesh to the back.

DSC_0014

I stapled mine down every 3-4 inches, making sure the wire was pulled tight and flat all the way across. It will flatten out some when it hangs against the wall, but you don’t want it all bowed and saggy.

DSC_0016

All that was left to do after that was to hang it on the wall, add the S hooks, and hang my necklaces. The whole project took maybe 20 minutes, and the bulk of that time was spent cutting wire. This isn’t every necklace that I own, but it gets the bulkiest ones out of the drawer. I love that I’m wearing them more now that I can see my options all the time.

 

Tagged , , ,

Project – Painted Dresser

DSC_0008

For about a year now, I’ve been making noise about repainting my daughter’s dresser. It was a hand-me-down, already white, and we gave it an extra coat of white paint before putting it in her nursery. That was over four years, a highlighter, a few crayons, and tons of stickers ago. In my head, I imagined it pink…until the day we went to buy the paint. Then, I changed my mind to green. Her bedding is The Princess and the Pea, from Land of Nod, so it works better than pink, I think.

DSC_0010

I began by removing the hardware, sanding it with my Black & Decker Mouse, and covering it with a coat of Kilz spray primer. I don’t really recommend doing all of this indoors. I covered as much as I could with sheets and a drop cloth. It’s still too cold to be doing anything in the garage here yet, but I didn’t want to wait another month to work on it. I’ve been putting it off for a year. Who knows when the mood would strike again if I’d waited? While you’re covering things, don’t forget your eyes and mouth. Dust flies and Kilz stinks, people.

DSC_0012

Next up? Two coats of paint. I used Pittsburgh Paints ultra interior latex satin in Dinner Mint. It’s very pretty, but a little ambiguous. Depending on the light, it would sometimes look mint and sometimes closer to aqua.

DSC_0013

Here’s a closer photo of the color. I think it pretty much looks aqua here. But it’s not!

Next, take a little square of sandpaper, and distress the edges – or anything you want distressed. This party is scary, but it’ll look great once it’s all finished. Promise. I love the character that a little bit of distressing adds.

543987_10151562491190049_1978604444_nThe next step was to add glaze. I used a Ralph Lauren glaze in tea-stained. Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook got to share in my dismay when the can showed up half spilled inside the box. It was packed really well. It seems like FedEx would have had to throw it against a wall or jump up and down on it repeatedly for this to happen, but what do I know? It was a bummer, BUT the guys I ordered it from were really great and gave me some money back, and there was plenty in the can to finish the dresser.

DSC_0018

I was terrified that I was going to hate it at first, but I adore the glaze. I applied a thin coat in kind of a streaky, cross-hatch pattern. Now that it’s on, you can absolutely tell the dresser is green. No more ambiguous aqua. Whew! Not that there’s anything wrong with aqua. It just isn’t the color I was going for.

Once the glaze was dry, I added a coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in natural, which will hopefully protect the dresser from future mishaps with crayons and stickers. If not, I know the distressed look will hide them much better than the white did.

The last step was to spray paint the hardware bronze, put it all back together, and move the dresser back to Neely’s bedroom.

DSC_0003

DSC_0006

DSC_0001

My little girl is so funny when it comes to her room. When we put the new Princess and the Pea bedding in her room last November, she shrieked and squealed and danced all around telling me how much she loved it. This time, she snuck upstairs and started talking to the dresser. I was in the next room, so I peeked around the corner and eavesdropped, of course. She was saying, “Nice. It’s so nice. I’ve been wanting it back.” She wasn’t kidding. It took me a week to finish, and she asked me every day when she could have her dresser back. I’m glad she likes it. She’s very opinionated, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to convince her to love green if she didn’t on her own.

I love it, too. I’m eyeballing everything in the house to see what I can paint next!

For more detailed instructions on how to paint furniture using the same technique I did, please visit Altar’d Designs. I used a lot of the recommendations from their eBook, Paint Your Furniture.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Project – Reusable Cloth Napkins

I have recently realized that each time we move, I go through a cycle. When the boxes arrive at our new house, we spend about a month unpacking, organizing, and arranging things. Once the house is habitable, I quit. For about six months. Then, finally, I begin to nest and make the house mine.

That’s where I am now. We’ve been in this house since October, and I’ve finally spent enough time in it to recognize what needs to change and what needs to be finished. I have an ever-growing list of Pinterest projects I want to try. I’ll take it one day at a time and see which ones I can make work for this house.

My first project? Napkins!

DSC_0018

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a photo of some mismatched cloth napkins on the interwebs. For some reason, napkins are one of those random things that I always forget to buy, but I usually have them left over from a party of some kind. Anyway, I’m not so big on the mismatched part, but cloth napkins are something I thought we could give a try.

Before we moved, I had a business making children’s clothes, so I have a gigantenormous stash of fabric that I was able to go through for material.

I began by cutting 17-inch squares of each of my chosen fabrics. You can make these smaller or larger, depending on your preference. We’re not going to be folding swans around here, so I didn’t need them too huge.

DSC_0005

Next, pin the edges for a double hem. You’ll need an iron for this. And lots of pins.

DSC_0006

On to the corners! I tried two different ways. I’ll show you both, and you can decide which you think is best.

For the first, start with both edges pressed under once.

DSC_0007

Next, take the corner, fold it in toward the middle of the napkin, and press it down.

DSC_0008

Once you’ve done that, you’ll fold each edge in toward the corner, press it, and pin them down.

DSC_0009

The other way to do the corners is just to continue the double hem all the way around, pressing the corners down square.

Of the two options, I prefer the first. It takes a little more time to get them ready, but the folds aren’t quite as thick. My machine got hung up on the corners on all the napkins I did using this second method.

DSC_0012

DSC_0010

Once you’ve got everything pinned up, you’re ready to run a straight stitch around the edges of all your napkins.

Did you run out of pins? I almost did. I need a bigger pincushion.

DSC_0014

There you go. Cloth napkins – ready to wipe milk mustaches, tacos, chocolate chip cookies, or whatever messy foods your family likes to eat.

DSC_0015

Tagged , ,

Home – Nesting, Again.

 

We’re in a new house. We’ve unpacked – as much as possible with the furniture mishaps. Now, I’m nesting. It is time to create and make it home.

First order of business – a wreath! Before we moved, I bought some natural raffia mesh from Red Door Interiors. If you’re in Louisiana and you’ve never been there, stop reading this and just go. I’ll be here when you get back. 🙂 If you’re not in Louisiana, you can order the same thing from Trendy Tree. They call it deco paper mesh. Anyway, I was eager to use it, so I whipped up a fun new wreath for the kitchen the other afternoon.

To make a deco mesh wreath, you need a wreath form, floral wire, scissors, mesh, ribbon, and whatever else you might want to add to make it pretty. A good cup of coffee helps the process, too.

Begin by cutting 10-15 pieces of floral wire, about 7 inches long, and wrap them in various intervals around your wreath form. At Trendy Tree, you can also buy work wreaths with the wire already attached.

Next, take the end of your mesh, scrunch it up, and secure it to the wreath by twisting the wire around it tightly.

 

Move about 12-18 inches down the mesh, bunch it up again, and attach to the wreath. You’ll have to fiddle with the scrunching until it looks the way you like it. You can use more or less mesh, depending on how full you want your wreath to look.

 

Keep going, around and around…

 

…until you like the way your wreath looks or you’ve run out of mesh, whichever happens first.

Do you see that chevron burlap ribbon there? That came from Hobby Lobby. I wanted to be able to change this wreath up for different holidays and seasons, so I didn’t attach it permanently. I just stuffed it in around my wreath and attached a bow with another piece of wire.

 

Ta-da! My first wreath for the new house. Proudly sitting on the bar with the ol’ Scentsy.

If you need more help figuring out how to make your own, there are tons of great videos on You Tube. Just search “how to make a mesh wreath.”

 

 

Tagged ,