Sep 29, 2012

Nativity - Donkey Tutorial

We are down to the last four figures in our Nativity set.  I'm blown away at how fast this time has passed.  We've done all the Wisemen, all the Shepherds, the two sheep and a camel.  And, today, it's finally the donkey's turn.

Sep 28, 2012

Giant Scrabble Tiles

So, remember my post from a few days ago?  This one:  12x12 Scrabble Tiles Tutorial

I had made them for a family we were going to photograph and then we had to reschedule the shoot.  Well, I received a few emails from you all wanting to see the whole name in action.  So, here it is...

I'm kind of in love and want to make the whole stinkin' alphabet now just so I will have them on hand for future family sessions that we shoot.

And, I know I posted the tutorial but if you want your own name in these tiles but don't want to do the work, email me.  I'm thinking of adding them to my Etsy shop.

Sep 23, 2012

12 x 12 Scrabble Tiles Tutorial

Ok, I'll just say this first, scrabble tile crafts are not a new thing.  And, neither is using freezer paper but Hello!  I love them both and have yet to post anything about them.  Well, it's time.  Here's why...

We do photography on the side and we were all set to do a family session tonight, the family has a 7 letter last name and they also have 7 members in their family.  Because of this I really wanted their name displayed in a way that all members of their family could be involved so I pulled out my DIY skills and went to work.

Sadly, we had to postpone our session until Monday but I was still able to use some of the tiles tonight in an impromptu shoot that I took my daughter on.  Her name starts with "C" which I happened to have and she thought that was cool.  Although she didn't like the number 3.  She thought it should have been 11 because that's her soon-to-be age.  I guess she doesn't understand Scrabble.  Or, maybe for the Star Wars fans out there, I should have added a P.O. after the 3.  C3PO - hahahah..... ok, I admit, it wasn't that funny.

So, do you want to make your own?  You don't have to use them as photo props, you could use them as wall decor or put a single letter on display on a shelf or something.  There are lots of options.  

Let's start.

Step 1:  Start at your computer.  Determine what size you want your letter to be and lay it out in some sort of computer program.  I use Corel Draw and I placed my letters on a 12 x 12 page so I could visually see it laid out just like it would be on the board.  After you get it how you want.  Print it out.  

Step 2:  Get your boards ready.  I bought mine at Michaels for around $3.50 each.  My boards were all prepped and ready to go so I didn't have to do anything.  However, if you are cutting your own boards, be sure to sand them as needed before you move on to the other steps.

Step 3:  Take your printed out letter and lay it on your board.  This is just a visual step.  Make sure you like the sizing, if not, go back to step 1 and change your sizing as needed. 

Step 4:  Next, tear off a piece of freezer paper about the size of your printed out paper - make sure it's at least the size of the outer edge of your printed paper and not just the size of the printed design.  

Step 5:  Turn your printed design over and using a glue stick, add glue to just the back of the printed letter and number (you don't need to glue all over the whole paper).  Then, adhere your printed design to the paper side of your freezer paper.  Smooth out and make sure there are no wrinkles or ripples.

Step 6:  Next, using an X-acto knife and a cutting mat, carefully cut out your letter and your number.  Once those pieces are cut out, you can discard them.  You won't need them.

Here it is with both the letter and the number cut out.  Remember, if you are using a letter or design that has a center, like the 8, hang on to the center pieces, you'll need them.

Step 7:  Center your cut out design on your board.  The shiny side should be face down and in contact with the wood.  Then, using a warm iron, carefully iron your freezer paper onto the board. The heat will make the paper adhere to the wood.

Step 8:  After you've ironed it, and it's adhered in place, let it cool.  Then carefully paint your stencil.

Step 9:  Once you've completed the painting step, let it sit for just a few minutes and then carefully peel away the freezer paper. And, there you have it - you have a custom made giant scrabble tile.

And you should rejoice!

Sep 18, 2012

Ham and Potato Soup

I think I've mentioned before that I only have a handful of recipes that I can make that my whole family will eat.  Usually what I make can please 4 out of 5 of us, which is good.  However, when I can get a 5 out of 5 thumbs up review I do a little happy dance. (don't imagine me dancing, that might be kind of scary)

This is one of my rare 5 thumbs up recipes!

Last week we had a rainy, cool day here in Northern Colorado.  It was just one of those days that I wanted soup and something, anything, pumpkin flavored.  Even though I have a can of pumpkin sitting on my counter, I still haven't made any pumpkin recipes.  That's coming.  I have made this soup though, twice!  It's just that good.

Now, if you are trying to count your calories well, this might not work for you.  But, if you are wanting something warm and comforting, then I hope you give it a try.  It's a family favorite for a reason, one that we've been making for a few years and will continue to make for many more.  Enjoy!


3 & 1/2 Cups peeled & diced potatoes
1/3 C diced celery
1/3 C diced onion
3/4 C diced, cooked ham
3 & 1/2 Cups water
2 TBS Chicken Bullion (I usually use 3 to 4 bullion cubes)
5 TBS butter
5 TBS flour
2 Cups Milk

*** - I will usually double this recipe.  Most of my family will go back for seconds and what we don't eat at dinner, we will save for lunch the next day.

Step 1:  Fill a large pot with water and bullion, turn heat to low

Step 2:  Add ham to pan and let simmer while you cut up your veggies

Step 3:  Cut up your onion, celery, and potato.  Once diced, add to pan and increase the heat to medium.  Continue cooking until potatoes are tender which is about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 4:  Meanwhile, in a separate pan melt butter on medium-low heat.  Once melted whisk in flour with a fork and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about a minute.  Then, slowly stir in milk.  Pour the milk in slowly and stir often so you avoid clumping.  Once all the milk has been added, continue to cook over medium heat.  Stir continually until thick, about 4 to 5 minutes. 

Step 5:  Once the milk mixture is thick, carefully pour it into the pan with the water and veggies.  Stir until well combined and heated through.

Step 6:  Taste it and season with salt and pepper if needed.  

Step 7:  Serve with a yummy roll and enjoy!

The Benefit of a Band-aid

(Miss M, age 4 with her grandpa - 2001)

I don't share my personal thoughts too much on this blog but I simply can't  stop thinking about the benefit of band-aids. It's a lesson that I was taught by my then 4 year old daughter and it still applies today.

The year she was 4 was the year of 9-11. (Continue reading, this isn't about 9-11) She sat with me and watched the news replay the image of the towers falling.  She didn't understand what was happening but she knew it was bad because I was crying.  After some careful word choices, she was only 4, I explained the best I could that people were hurt, had died, were missing and were sad.  Miss M knew exactly what to do.  Her response to my explanation was that she wanted to send everybody a band-aid.  She was adamant about sending those band-aids.  She knew, she absolutely knew, band-aids would help.  

Time has passed, she isn't 4 anymore but her lesson has stuck with me and as we've been through some stuff lately I'm reminded that sometimes we all just need someone to give us a band-aid.  A band-aid doesn't have to be made of gauze and adhesive to be effective.  A band-aid can be something as simple as a friendly smile.  It can be a phone call out of the blue.  It can be reaching out of your comfort zone to offer friendship to someone who needs a friend. It can be resisting the urge to judge.  It can be holding your tongue when you really, really want to be snarky.  There are so many ways our actions can work as band-aids to those who are in pain.  And, if they can't help heal, at the very least perhaps we can refrain from making the wounds deeper.

What I know is that people, including myself, harbor wounds that aren't always easy to see.  There's a song we sing in church that says "in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see."  There is a truth to that, isn't there?  At some point or another we all put on a smile when we are really truly crying inside.  

The reality is, there is pain in the every day.  Remember kindness matters and we can all help others heal. 

I'm grateful that Miss M taught me that lesson so many years ago.  Even now, I still can't look at a band-aid without seeing her beautiful face and kind heart.  Speaking of her beautiful face, this is her now, 11 years later.  She went from a cute 4 year old to a beautiful young woman in a blink of an eye.

(photo by Williams Photography - my hubby took this one) 

And, just because this is a crafty blog, and I know most of my readers come here for projects, well I simply can't end this post without a band aid themed project.  So, here's one for you.  However, it's not my idea so I'm sending you over to The Moody Fashionista.  She'll show you how to make fabric covered band-aides.

(photo from The Moody Fashionista)

Sep 11, 2012


It's pretty much the end of the day for me.  My bed beckons but I wanted to share this before I hit the pillow.  The video, especially towards the end, reminds me of my family and all those pictures, or is it slides, from the 70's.  The video brings to mind one thing but the song and the lyrics take me to another place completely.

For some reason this is the song that reminds me most of 9/11.  I'm sure it has to do with the line about the "towers that fall and rise" but I think there is more to it than that.  There is a reminder of hope and pride in our country.  It's not Lee Greenwood singing "Proud to be an American" but for me, this is my kind of music and the message is the same.

"I feel you close,
Feel you close like you wanted me to
Believe in you!"

"Rise to the top of the world

Sep 9, 2012


My lovely Miss M still has a ton of headbands available.  She wants to move them quick so she has dropped the price which was $7  down to $5.50.

These aren't your average headbands, they are made with velvet on the back so they are non-slip.  All my girls have straight, fine hair which is slippery.  Normal headbands never work for us but these ones work great.   Plus, since they have elastic, they hold in place but they don't pinch and that is awesome!

She has a ton of different styles available, these are only a few.  The sparkly ones have been really popular.  They are great for sports and adding a pop of pizzazz and color to support your favorite team.

To see all the colors and different patterns go here:

Sep 6, 2012

Sock It To Them!

Last night church volley ball started for my daughter.  In an effort to make it a better year than years in the past, we decided to try and help unify the team.  Our ward is fairly new so the girls don't have team shirts or anything that defines them as a team yet.  Miss M, who has a kind heart, wanted to do something to help.  Turns out all we needed to do was do a Target run and buy funky socks.

We bought several pairs of the stripped socks and also several pairs of the polka-dot socks.  Then Miss M took them out of their packaging and mixed them up.  She rolled one polka-dot sock and one stripped sock up and made a new pair.  Then we added a little tag and she gave them out to all the girls on the team. 

The tag said "Go Team!  Let's SOCK it to them!"

It was pretty fun to see the girls all wearing their crazy socks.

I think I want some too!

Sep 4, 2012

Halloween DIY Ideas

So, on Friday, August 31st one of my lovely daughters asked me if she could put up Halloween decorations.   I laughed and said, "It's not even September yet!"

She dropped the subject.

Then, the very next day she asked, "Mom, can I put up Halloween decorations today?"  Before I could even respond she said, "It's September now!"

So, did I let her?  No!  Because I'm mean like that.  I'm cool with getting the fall decor out but Halloween items can't go up just yet.  However, because I know my readers like to plan ahead, I will post Halloween on my blog.  Is that cool?  (My daughter doesn't think it's fair.)

Here are some of my most favorite Halloween DIY items and tutorials that I've posted in the past!

Since I don't like spiders in the house, and since she was SO big, she didn't make it into our storage.  I will be making another one this year though as I kind of really did like her.  I say "her" because my daughters named her Winter. It's all on the original post.  If you have a yard or porch to decorate, this is a great low cost way to add something big and not too creepy.  

These are made from pipe cleaners and styrofoam balls.  The cool thing about these is you can make them in any size and the kiddos can help as they are an easy craft to make.  The black paint can be messy though so if you have little hands helping, well, you've be warned.  

You don't need much to make these.  They are made from cardstock and make a super cute table centerpiece especially when you use mini pumpkins for the base.  

Skeletons + Kitchen Items = Spooky grossness

Here's the deal on these.  There isn't really a tutorial but I do explain how to make them.  And, just a tip, if you want to make these, go now - like NOW - to the dollar store.  As time passed last year I had a really hard time finding cheap skeletons.  I had bought some at the Dollar Tree and then decided I wanted more.  Too late!  They were already gone.  I noticed this passed week that my local Dollar Tree was putting out Halloween stuff so maybe yours is too.  Go check.

I want my Mummy! 

These mummies are super easy and super cheap.  If you have an old white sheet, some cereal boxes or food packaging you are going to throw away, and some googly eye - well, you're all set.  That's all you need to make them.  This is another fun one for the kiddos to help with or even just make on their own.

Halloween Ribbon Frame

This is two years old now, I posted it back in 2010 but it's still such a great idea.  I think it's interesting how ideas circle through the internet and this idea is coming back around.  I just saw someone else post this same idea on their site only I think they used paper instead of ribbon.  Either way, it's a fun way to add some Halloween spunk to a simple mat and frame.

and, last but not least, are you a scrapbooker?

Halloween Mini Album

The idea here is a simple one, just create a little album that you can add pages to each year.  Then, every year, take photos of your kids in their costumes and add in a page about what they were and why they wanted to be it.  After several years you'll have a fun little album to put out on display filled with fun memories.

Ok, I do have more past projects I love but these will do for now.