Monday, November 29, 2010

Dare to DIY - Week Three

Dare to . . . eat cookies!

At first my little(r) Weight Watchers butt was annoyed that I had to make a plate of cookies for this dare. "Aw man," I thought. "There goes all my hard work." But . . . I got over that QUICKLY. Nothing ups my metabolism faster than an entire plateful of cookies. (And it really did work too! If only Thanksgiving hadn't happened . . . lol.)

Anyway, the cookies that I made are the ones I am nowadays kind of famous for . . . and famous for screwing up. We had these nearly every Christmas when I was a kid (made by someone else) and I have to continue making them simply because my mind tells me that it's not Christmas without them. But - I stink at making them. Granted, I am getting better year after year, but they are never very pretty like the ones I had as a child.

Plus, these cookies don't have a name. We tend to call them "The White Chocolate Thingys". Impressive, I know. They also do not have a recipe. So here's the one I have made up specifically for this purpose:

White Chocolate Thingys

1 pkg. white chocolate chips
little vegetable oil
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
Peanut butter
Sprinkles (see below)

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Get out sprinkles and get them ready to be sprinkled. Melt white chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave. While chocolate melts, make little peanut butter sandwiches with 2 Ritz crackers and a little peanut butter (do not over-stuff). Check chocolate - if it is still thick, add a little vegetable oil to thin out. Dip each sandwich into the white chocolate and place on wax paper to cool. Instantly sprinkle each cookie with sprinkles.* Eat when cool. Makes about a dozen.

*In our house, three kinds of sprinkles must be used:

1.) Not sure what they are called, but I call them "little multi-colored balls". These are replicas of the exact cookies I had as a child.

2.) Something "Jesus-related". I insist - it IS Christmas after all. These are little fishes.

3.) Something "Christmas-colored", i.e. red and green.

I have been using these three kinds of sprinkles for years now. They are all three a MUST, no exceptions.

Now, the reason that I always screw these cookies up?? The dipping. I am dipping-incapable. Seriously. That's why my cookies tend to look like this:


And not pretty and smooth and perfect like the ones I remember. Ah well. They are getting better every year!

Also, I believe I mentioned that I would post a picture of Nora's handmade turkey hair bow. Fifteen-month-olds are not easy to photograph. I had to chase her down to get this picture folks. Appreciate it! :)

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thrift Stores are my friend.

Thrift stores. Flea Markets. Consignment shops. Resale. Junk.

Whatever you want to call them, I love them.

Lately I have been around to a few and I thought I'd share some of the amazing things I have found. These things were all so cheap that I get tickled just thinking about it.

This first item I liked the moment I saw it. It's a wall sconce that happens to go perfectly in my living room. I had to take down what was on the wall here already and paint the wall back to it's original color (it was blackened by candle soot) in order to hang this, but I have not regretted it. It's LOVELY!

This hurricane needed some cleaning up, but I am so glad to have it - it was four dollars! Haven't decided what I want to do with it yet, but keep your eyes peeled. It will go somewhere soon.

I loved this ladder, but I kind of went back and forth about it. I wasn't sure about buying it because 1.) it's SO LONG (that's why it's pictured next to my car) and 2.) it's not the color of any wood in my house. But I have a few ideas for it this Christmas, so we'll see how it ends up.

Side note: What do you think about me possibly hanging that ladder from my Sussex Wall System??:
I think after it's been painted and roughed up, it could be cute hanging from here . . . :)

Anyway! . . .
THIS is an absolute jewel in my opinion, and it will be adorable once I get to work on it and fill it up. I am so excited about this sleigh for Christmas this year!!

I needed a shabby-looking frame for a project I am thinking about and this one fit the bill. It may not look like much yet, but I will post pictures when I am done with it.

So those are my recent thrift store acquisitions. Not bad huh? Nothing pictured was over $12 and most were way less.

I also spent some time this week getting Nora ready for Christmas. And by that I mean relentlessly making her cute little hairbows and taking her to see Santa (yes, already! We need to get Christmas cards cranked out folks!) Anyway, this is one of the hairbows I made:

She ended up wearing it today for her picture with Santa. :)

Until next time! . . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dare to DIY - Week Two

Dare to . . . Entertain!

Week two of Kim's blog challenge is not my favorite. I don't really *DO* table decor so much. Ask Jen Wallheimer - the poor girl was paired with me for "Girl's Night Out" last year at Metro, and our table was awesome . . . thanks to her! Admittedly, I am not too good at this.

Plus, I like practicality and ease of clean up. Napkins that you can throw away. That kind of thing. (Speaking of napkins - the only reason that I even had any cloth ones for this week is because I am hand-making a lot of Christmas gifts this year and one of the things that I am making required napkins. So there ya go.)

Anyway, remember the 30 gallons of acorns from last week? You know the ones that are ALL OVER MY YARD??:

Well, I decided to do a tree/acorn theme for my table. I was going to make a tapestry that said "From little acorns mighty oaks grow." to hang behind the table, but I realized about halfway through the week that I was going to run out of time to complete it. Sewing usually does not get done in one week at my house.

Especially since my table usually looks like this:

Ha ha, THAT was a total joke. More than likely, it looks like this:

And that is on a good day.

Anyway, so I went ahead and pretended to have Thanksgiving and set a table. I must admit it was lots of fun. Here's what it ended up looking like:


The place setting and silverware are my normal day-to-day dishes. The placemats are just fabric that I cut in a circle with pinking shears, like so:

It took some of the acorn people from last week (yes, there were more) and hot glued a (clean) hair tie to the back and used those for "napkin rings":

They are so fun because they are all different:

I also did pretend placecards. I just hot glued five acorns together with a space to slip in a card. Then I placed them on a fall leaf:

The placecards were modeled after the "thanks" cards on Nora's Thanksgiving Tree, which I created based off of this one and placed on the table. I created this using a large mason jar, sticks and acorns from my yard, different colored paper, and cloth ties:
This is my favorite thing on the table. It's so cute!! I have gotten so many compliments.

I also made matching candle holders out of smaller jars:

I had an acorn tin I wanted to use as well, so I added it. Why not?? More is more:

All of the centerpieces were place in my AtHome America Big Fork Lodge Candle Tray, which I LOVE SO MUCH and will gladly sell you HERE at my website. Shameless plug. :)

All in all, I think my first table went well. Now you see why I had no time to create anything ELSE this week!

I also took a page from one of the other bloggers from last week and made a turkey hair bow for Noranator:

Even though her hair is barely long enough for a pony, she'll have it in on Thursday. :)

I will post pictures.

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nora's 14.5 Month Update

Since I have so many out of town relatives, I send out email updates on Nora every so often. I hadn't done it in awhile, so I did today. This is the latest one:

"Nora's become quite the amazing little kid. :) She is talking talking talking!! She surprises us everyday with new words. Most recently she says "all done" when she's finished eating, and she can also say a few different animal sounds. She also says "go bye bye" when we go somewhere. She just talks all the time and can say quite a lot for her age. She can already identify letters B and E, and today she showed me O too! She seems to be really, really smart, and we have people tell us that all the time now. Like we don't know! lol

Her two front teeth started coming in on September 15th . . . and they are STILL not all the way in. They are about halfway in, so I am holding out hope that they will be fully in by Christmas! You can at least SEE them now, although she won't let me take a picture of them. She's not as big of a fan of the camera as she used to be.

She's still a picky eater, but she LOVES her milk. She drinks quite a lot of milk - we actually have to monitor it pretty closely so that she doesn't go overboard (or break the bank!) She also still loves books! We got to Border's kid's section about once or twice a week and she goes to town. Mostly lately she's been playing with the stuffed animals, but she also likes the books with buttons you can push. And any animal book!

She continues to be a little "momma" and carries her "babies" around with her everywhere - feeding them, putting them in the stroller, etc. She now has a little playroom in the basement, and enjoys her little slide and art desk. The girl loves to color! She's so big already."

Until next time . . .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dare to DIY - Week One

I mentioned awhile ago that Kim over at Newlywoodwards was doing a DIY blog challenge, and I joined up.

I went a little overboard, as you will see in the coming weeks.

This first week I decided to "do up" my mantle, and create something extra for it. I saw this and really liked it and thought "I could do better".

Well, I could NOT do better. I created this:

And it's a good concept, but it did not turn out the way I wanted it to. I don't love it.

However, I decided that if I did anything else, it had to involve the MILLIONS of acorns in my front yard. That, dear friends, is where everything got way better, creatively speaking.

Now, before I show you what I made, let me tell you about the acorns. They. Are. Everywhere. We have this huge pin oak outside that showers our house with them. It makes walking in the front yard treacherous because you are literally walking on tons of little balls:

Last week, Cory got out a BROOM (not a rake) and collected about 30 GALLONS of acorns FROM THE NORTH END OF OUR YARD ALONE:

This week I also contributed and collected some myself:

(Using Nora's Happy Meal bucket. This is what you do when you are a momma, folks.)

I was determined to use them this week, and possibly next. And BOY did I.

This week decorated my mantle in a new and different way, using things I already had or had to make. No money was shamelessly spent in the creating of this mantle. All of this is stuff I already owned, I just spray painted the mat of the picture frame, added a sprig of leaves from my yard, and . . . TA-DA!

But wait! There's more!

You will of course notice that in front of the decor is a little acorn army. I did use the acorns for something creative - little acorn people. :) I thought they would be fun and cute and something Nora would enjoy.

I just hot glued 7 acorns together (a head, a body, two arms, two legs, and a "butt") and painted them all different. It was juvenile (and honestly) tons of fun. It's nothing special to anyone else I will bet, but I had a good time making these.

. . . Plus it gave me inspiration for next week. :) Wait 'til you see!!!!!!!

Until next time . . .

Dare to DIY

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shutterfly's 50 Free Cards Promo

I learned from Kim over at Newlywoodwards that Shutterfly was giving away 50 free holiday cards to bloggers who shamelessly plug Shutterfly on their blog.

SOLD! I love Shutterfly, and I am ALL ABOUT the free. Shutterfly is pretty much my go-to online photo place - they just are so efficient and reliable.

My favorites are the stationary cards. I think they are classier than classy. They don't come as shiny as a photo card and they just look fantastic. In fact some of the cards I sent for Nora's 1st birthday were this type (if you got the brown one with the owl, that was a stationary card). When I was browsing I came across these that I LOVE (just on the first page alone!):

1.) Modern Merry Squares
This one is definitely different than all the cards I usually pick, but I love it. If I can find two pictures that look right in it, you all may see it very soon in your mailbox.

2.) Sweet and Retro
I think this card would be ADORABLE (and funny) with a photo of a child crying on Santa's lap. Tell me that would not make you crack up. I am sure that if Nora cries for Santa, I will seriously consider sending out that photo on this card. :)

3.) Modern Damask
This is so pretty and simple. So far, this is my favorite.

Shutterfly is offering this promotion to bloggers that are willing to write about them, so if you are one of those folks, please visit here to learn more and sign up! There is a form you need to fill out and submit, and then they e-mail you waht you have to do, and afterward they send you a code for your 50 cards. Easy peasy.

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What we are up to . . .

Well, this past week has been a tough one so far at the Whitaker's house! Nora's either sick or teething; Super Why (the nickname for the child I sit for) is teething and not sleeping well; I am getting over a sickness and stressing over the kids; and Cory lost a friend on the Fire Department. All in all, it's been quite the week (and it's only Tuesday!)

There have been some good things happening too. Despite my sickness this weekend, my WONDERFUL husband and I were able to clean and re-arrange our unfinished basement to set up a wonderful playroom for the kids:

Not only is this place great for the kids to play, but we also set up a little area where we could work on different projects while they play:

Also, thanks to the shallow divider, I can even walk on the treadmill without having to worry about the kids climbing on it, and I still have a perfect view of everything going on.

. . . Or so I thought!

I think eventually this dream will happen, but for now Nora's a little freaked out to be downstairs. She's just not sure about this place under her house. The carpet is uneven and bumpy until we have walked on it enough to flatten it, and all her books are still upstairs (must rectify this - the girl is a book nut). Also, she's VERY interested to know what I am working on, so she hangs out around the work table and tries to grab everything off of it. Not to mention that she is suddenly very attached to me like she has never been before. I think eventually this will all work itself out, but for now . . . yikes!

Plus, the holidays are coming up and I am using lots of spare time (ha!) to work on gifts. I say work on gifts because I am hand-making a lot of gifts this year. A lot of gifts. OK, almost every gift. That is in addition to the food gifts that I usually make for neighbors that takes me quite a while to get done. I like doing it, but I just wish I could get ahead before the holidays really hit. As if I am not ahead. I have almost all the (hand made) Christmas cards done and some of the food gifts done, and two people crossed completely off the "to get" gift list. I am actually doing alright, it just doesn't really feel like it.

Anyway, so we are a little stressed out around here, so I probably won't write another entry until next Monday's blog challenge post (which I have been working on as well! I am so excited for it!!) Everyone have a great one!!

Until next time . . .

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dare to DIY

Even though I would obviously like to use this blog to tell about family events, I thought it would be fun to do another blog challenge. So I kept my ears open, and one fell into my lap.

Check it out here.

A girl who I was in Alpha Phi with in college has this amazing blog where she posts all the renovations she and her husband do, plus all the neat recipes she cooks, PLUS all the pretty things she makes, etc. It's phenomenal!! (Or should I say PHI-nomenal??) Anyway, I have recently gotten back into hand-crafting things, so I saw this challenge and was like "why not?"

You will notice that this challenge is weekly, so I will be posting on what our family is doing as well, in between it all. I challenge you to DIY too! It looks like a ton of fun. :)

Until next time . . .

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 30

Day 30 - A Dream For the Future

I have started dreaming lately about owning a resale shop of some kind. I love the concept that "one person's trash is another person's treasure". What kind of resale shop is TBD. I have thought about everything from owning a children's resale, to a flea market, to a local produce stand, to a junk shop. You name it. I don't know if this will ever happen in my future, but it's nice to dream about!

Cory says a dream for his future is to "travel the world". That is something we both would like, no doubt! After our kids are grown we may just do that. We argue sometimes about where we will go first - he says Japan, I say China. :)

A dream I have for Nora's future is really just to see her well-educated, healthy, and happy. The last two parts of that are things that I have prayed for since her conception, but the first part of it is something that I think about a lot. I am really dedicated to educating her myself while she's young and making sure she has a good education when she's older.

On a completely different note, can I now just say that I was so excited and happy to type in "day 30" for the title of this entry. Even with as incredibly busy as I have been, I just completed my first blog challenge. :) This may lead you to ask . . . "What's next?" Well, I have something in mind. More on that next entry. :)

Until next time . . .


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 29

Day 29 - Hopes, Dreams, and Plans for the Next 365 Days

I was just thinking the other day of making a list of goals to achieve. It is so easy and makes you feel good to see a "to-do" list with everything crossed off. I may do that for next month.

I have a hard time thinking as far ahead (and as concrete as) "the next 365 days", but these are the goals on my mind right now:

Clean my art studio out and finish making Christmas presents. Also do my next blog challenge (more to come on that later.) Get a move on on the basement plans. Try to keep guest room somewhat organized. Decide what projects I want to work on next year.
Long Term:
Figure out what I am going to be when I grow up (A.K.A. - after I go back to work sometime in the not-so-near future). Go see Jadrien and Ryan next year. Figure out if, where, and when we should send Nora to pre-school, and discuss with Cory where is the best place to send her to school. Plan for second baby.

That's what's on my mind folks!

Until next time . . .

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 28

Day 28 - What's In My Handbag/Purse

Obviously this is a me-only question. If only the general public wasn't so scared of the contents of my purse . . .


The purse that I currently have is my first new bag in a LONG time. It's a Marie Osmond bag that I traded some Vera Bradley to get. I am going to a Miche bag party soon to get shells for my Miche base that I already have (see here) and that will only be my second new purse this year. That's VERY unusual for me. That is why this year for Christmas I asked for a Moop bag (see here) and also for a Ju Ju Bee Diaper bag (see here). Anyway, this is my current bag:

It's served me pretty well since I got it.

Here's what's inside:
Small pocket
Old grocery list
Piece of string that I need to match the color of next time I am at Wal-Mart
Also usually my phone is in here

Inside actual bag
Baby wipes
Snack Cup
Nora's little pouch with her diapers/diaper cream/etc. inside
Baby food in a pouch
mini chocolate chip cookie snack
New Testament
Notebook with Weight Watchers Info inside
Wet Ones
Breath mints
Pain killers
Hair tie
Feminine products
3 pens
4 other Chapsticks :) Yes, four. In addition to the one already in there.

That's it folks! Until next time . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010

30 Day Blog Challenge - Day 27

Day 27 - Your Worst Habit

My worst habit is probably drinking caffeine. I like coffee and soda a LOT and I have convinced myself that I need lots of caffeine to function throughout the day. Never mind that I did just fine without it when I was pregnant. Never mind that I used to give it up for Lent with no problems. It's a necessity . . . right?

I would say Cory's worst habit is forgetting to turn things off or put things away. He is constantly leaving the stove or oven on or leaving out condiments (dressing, ketchup) on the kitchen table when he cleans up after dinner. Even tonight I came home and the burner on the stove was on. When I told him that I listed "turning things off" as his worst habit in this entry, he agreed. (Although he did not agree with the "putting things away". Apparently he is ALWAYS putting things away. Right.)

Nora's worst habit is pushing her chair back when she eats. She has been eating in a strap-in booster seat for awhile now (so I don't have to have two high chairs in this joint) and she likes to push herself back when she's done. It scares the crap out of me so much that I have moved her between the wall and the table so she can't push herself backwards. Again. Because, yes, she's done it before. And I thought she broke her back or cracked her head open! Scared me to pieces.

Until next time . . .