Friday, December 23, 2011

Nativity Craft

Surprise, Surprise... I found this craft on Pinterest!!  It actually turned into two Pinterest crafts in one.  I am so pleased with how this turned out; I think other than my first yarn wreath, this may be my favorite craft I've made. And the best part? I used everything I already had. This craft didn't cost me a thing!

Here is the link to the original:  As you can see, hers is a bit more subtle in the colors, but it is quite beautiful. I personally went a bit more Christmasy. I also didn't have the vinyl stencils she was talking about. I'll show you what I did instead.

1. I was going to go to the craft store for some wooden blocks, but I noticed some spare 2x4s the hubby had in the garage. Since this wood isn't really "nice" enough to build something substantial, like furniture, it was actually perfect for this craft. That's the key, if you are buying wood to use, it doesn't have to be expensive. This is a craft that is OK to look a bit rustic and since it doesn't have to be super sturdy (no one is sitting on it), cheap is OK. It did require a bit of sanding, though, and it was on the dry side, so it took a few coats of paint. Truth be told, the edges of the red blocks could use another swipe of the brush.
I had my husband cut out 9 2" blocks, 1 3" block, and 3 5" blocks from his 2x4. For the stable, I needed something a bit taller, so he cut two 12" pieces off of a plank and glued them together. *Please keep in mind that if you do this, it will have to set overnight* He was trying to talk to me in "Home Depot" speak, but I wasn't following. Basically, I was only concerned with the space on the front face, where the images are going to be. As long as that is big enough and the width is wide enough for the block to stand up, I'm happy. After they are cut, sand them to your satisfaction, depending on how "rustic" you want yours to look.
2. Paint the fronts your main color. I chose a cream color, the original project made the blocks different colors. You can do whatever you prefer. Let them dry and if you need another coat, go for it. After the fronts were covered and dry, I painted the sides either red or green (sorry, I guess I forgot a photo of that step.)
 3. This is where second Pinterest craft came in. I used this idea for transfering images onto wood from this blog: That tutorial is GREAT, especially if you are looking to create something vintage looking. However, for this particular project, I thought the images came out way too light. I could barely see them. So I just used the image that did make it onto the block as a stencil and filled it in with black paint. The stable I did freehand because that is basically just straight lines.

4. I used puffy paint to write "Oh Holy Night" at the top. I thought of other things too like "For Unto Us a Child is Born" or just "A Child is Born" or "Joy to the World" but I love the song "Oh Holy Night" and I think it is just the most perfect way to describe the Nativity setting.

5. This little star is also something I had in my crafting supplies and just painted it a simple gold color. I used the same gold puffy paint I used for the letters to add little accent lines to the star. Then I just used my trusty glue gun to attach it to the top. You could probably put it anywhere. Since I was putting it right on the top, I made sure to add a little glue to the back for stability.
6. That's it! You're done! It seems like a lot of work, but I actually got it done in an afternoon (well, technically my husband cut out the blocks the night before). It's cute, right?

Happy Crafting and a very Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas wreath and garland

I am such a fan of Christmas! I love, love, love it!! I love decorating my family room, hanging our stockings by the chimney with care, putting up our wreath, decorating our tree. It is so beautiful!  This year I finished with the everyday decor in the den, so I needed something to put in there. JoAnn's was having a HUGE sale on Christmas decorations so I went crazy and this is what I came up with:

1. Gather your supplies

2. I used a foam wreath. Normally I don't use this particular kind because they are a bit pricey and you can make them cheaper by using plumbing foam instead, but since they were 50% off and I didn't want to make a trip to the hardware store (not like my husband couldn't have used the excuse!) I went ahead and got it. The extra long plain garland was also on sale, so the combo was cheaper than buying a pre-made plain wreath. I just kept wrapping the garland around the wreath, gluing as I went, and it got bigger and fuller as I wrapped. Don't worry if there are extra spaces, you'll cover them up with fun stuff.

3. I rummaged through the flowers and the mini decoration bins and found a bunch of cute things to put on my wreath. The little peppermint candies and the berries were 50% off and only .79 to begin with! What a steal!

4. Using the same garland... well, the same type, obviously a different garland! I doubled it up to make it fuller. I glued randomly down the line so it would stick together.
5. I used the same theme for the garland as I did for the wreath. For the berries, I got a garland of red beads and loosely wrapped it around the garland. I placed all my accessories and when I was happy with the results, I glued everything down. I made two of these.
6. To hang them up on the window box, I re-bent some ornament hooks that I already had (.99 for a box of way more than I need!) and made them into double-ended hooks, one end hooked over the top of the window box and the other hooked outward for the garland to hang on. To hand the wreath, I used the 3M Command wreath hanger that will just come right off when the holidays are done. The hook can be used over and over again, just with new sticky stuff.

7. I was very pleased with the results and it is something I can put out every year!

What Christmas crafts are you doing this year?

Merry Christmas and happy crafting!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nostalgic for Christmas Movies

Ah, Christmas... I LOVE this time of year. It is my absolute favorite. I love the lights and the colors and the warm feelings despite the chill in the air. I love Christmas music, but what I really love are the movies.

Yep, I watch Christmas movies all season long, almost always starting with Love Actually. The ones on Lifetime, Hallmark, or ABC Family are my current favorite and guilty pleasure, bonus points if they include Dean Cain as a cocky Scroogey rich who unexpectedly falls in love with a down-on-her-luck girl who changes his whole world view, all thanks to the magic of Christmas.

I love the classics like Miracle on 34th Street (Natalie Wood edition), It's a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn and White Christmas.

Lately I have been feeling nostalgic for the children's classics I enjoyed growing up. JJ is about the right age to start enjoying them too and I am loving being able to relive them with him. My friend said it best: "Having kids is like having a time machine." This year, we've been watching "Mickey's Christmas Carol" "Frosty the Snowman" "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Charlie Brown Christmas."

When I was a kid, we had a VHS tape of a bunch of Christmas specials taped off the television. It included the ones above and also a few others like "Smurf's Christmas" "Muppet Family Christmas" "A Mouse, A Mystery, and Me" (bonus points if you remember that one! You can watch it below, thanks to Google Video!), and "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (I just saw that one at Costco today and I am kicking myself for not buying it!). I was just telling my brother that I wish we had kept that video so we could have converted it to DVD now. I get nostalgic for it every year.

Thank you Disney, Jim Henson, and Raskin Bass for giving me great childhood memories that I can pass on to my own children.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Art of Marriage

Sometimes someone says it just right and that is all that needs to be said about the matter:

“Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the Art of Marriage, the little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon; it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have the wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is finding rooms for things of the spirit. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner."
- Paul Newman's letter to his wife on their wedding day

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays because there are no presents, no glitz to get in the way. Just family, friends and gratitude for everything you have in life. Its a time for everyone to gather around a table of really yummy food and just be thankful for each other and all life's many blessings.

So, from my family to yours, I wish you the Happiest of Thanksgivings.

Cookie Turkeys

I saw this on Pinterest and I couldn't wait for Thanksgiving to make them!!

Here is the original post:

Mine didn't come out quite as cute as the originals, but I think they are still pretty good. The differences I did: I used Mike N Ikes instead of Jelly Bellys and I used regular M&Ms instead of mini's, although, for this one I would recommend using the mini's because I think the regular sized M&Ms made their eyes too big. Also, she said to use regular Reese's PB Cups, but I used the big ones because they were more stable and provided more room to add the candy corn at the top.

Oh, and also, I just used chocolate graham crackers as the base. The blog says you can order the circle wafers online, but I thought that was a lot to go through just to get a cookie. Plus, the graham cracker gave me room to add letters so I could use them as the place cards for seating arrangements around the dinner table!

I would also recommend putting them in the fridge for a bit to set the frosting right after adding the face on the cookie. It will make things much easier. I didn't take too many pictures because putting it together is pretty self explanatory.

And here is the one from the website above. See, much better. Just need some practice I guess!

So Easy Cinnamon-Orange Cranberry Sauce

If I haven't said it yet, I'll say it again: I love this time of year!! I love Thanksgiving. I love what the season means and the time spent with loved ones around a table of yummy goodness.

In honor of tomorrow's festivities and the fact that tables everywhere will be filled with food and kitchens busy with cooking, today's recipe is one of my own.  It is a very simple, yet delicious recipe for cranberry sauce, a Thanksgiving staple. You'll never buy canned again (except to use in a yummy roast, but that is another recipe for another time!) I always make this the day before, one less thing to do the day of so you can enjoy your time with your family.

All you need is:

3 cups fresh cranberries (one bag usually contains 3 cups)
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
zest of one orange
ground cinnamon
2 cinnamon sticks (optional)

Mix water, sugar, cranberries and cinnamon sticks (if using) together in a pot. Bring to a boil. While the mixture is coming to a boil, add the zest of one orange and a couple shakes of cinnamon. (Sorry for the lack of measurement on this one. If you are using cinnamon sticks too, just a couple shakes will work, about 1/4 teaspoon if I had to guess. If you are not using cinnamon sticks, probably doubling the ground cinnamon would work, about 1/2 teaspoon.)

Let the entire mixture boil for a few minutes. The cranberries will pop; that is just their skins bursting open and letting their yumminess out. After boiling for about 5 minutes or so, bring it down to a simmer. Stir occasionally. The mixture will thicken slightly.

Take it off the heat and let it cool a bit before putting it in the fridge.


Happy cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Wreath

My goodness, it has been a whole month since I posted something! I have lots of pictures of the things I do to share here, but apparently I've been doing a lot of "doing" and not a lot of "sharing"!!!

This is the wreath currently hanging on my door. It is perfect for the holidays and it couldn't be any easier!! It is even easier than the yarn wreath and less time consuming too because you don't have to spend the time wrapping the yarn around anything.  It really only takes the amount of time you need to lay out your design.

For this wreath, I bought the plain branch wreath form instead of the Styrofoam.  I also just browsed through the silk flower section of the craft store and picked out the flowers that were the most Fall like to me. I also found a cute fall ribbon to use. 

I got married in the fall and made use of a lot of fake fall leaves because, lets face it, I couldn't depend on nature in Southern California!  I still have a ton left over so I included some of those too.

1. Just lay your bare wreath on your workspace. Start laying out your flowers. I took the stems off of mine because I didn't need them, but if you need them, keep 'em on!

2. Using your hot glue gun, start gluing everything down. This is a bit tricky because there is a lot of open space in the wreath that wasn't there in the yarn wreath, just try to finagle the flowers and the glue in the spaces. It is easier than it sounds.

3. Tie your bow. If you  have your own tips and tricks for this, please use them (and share!!) but I just did my version of this video tutorial I found on YouTube:

(I saw this little accent at the store and thought it was the cutest thing!! A nice little vintage accessory for my wreath!)

I hope you like this wreath and I can't wait to see what you create!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Crafting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Today I am Thankful for... Friends

(Side note: These are some pretty random photos! If you don't see yourself... then we need to get together soon and catch up! :0) )

I have always felt that I have been pretty blessed by the people that have been in my life. Some I've known since we were kids others I've only known a few years. Some people I've been close with for a long time, some I was close with a long time ago, but not so much now. Some I know from elementary school through high school, some I met in college, some at work, and some through other friends. Some are similar to me in my likes and beliefs while others couldn't be more different, but we've perhaps bonded over something else.

A quick look at my Facebook friend's list shows me a list of people from my past and present. All of whom have had some impact on my life, whether it be fingerprint or a footprint. I have memories of great times and strong bonds and I am thankful for each and every one of you for helping shape who I am today.

Today I am thankful for..... Family

I am so fortunate to have all my family so close. JJ gets to grow up knowing his grandparents and his uncles and aunts and cousins. We get to have lots of family gatherings throughout the year. (It is also great for babysitting and Grandma Daycare!) My family and I are pretty close, and it is great to see that Gary's family is just about the same. Whether it's Gary's family or my brother's fantastic new wife, I feel like I lucked out in the in-law department. Just this year (a month apart) I got two new sisters-in-law and I love them both.

So whether I'm with my little family of four (including Dakota of course!), the Webers (born or married into), Craigs (born or married into) or any combo of the bunch, I know I am surrounded by love.

Today I am Thankful for... My Husband

I have the greatest husband. Sure, he makes me mad sometimes, like when he doesn't put the dishes in the dishwasher or just leaves stuff lying around. But those are little nothings.

When we first met, I was done with the random dating and was ready for a long-term relationship. He was done putting in the effort of a long relationship only to have it go nowhere and was just looking to hang out. The problem was, neither of us told each other our plans and for that I am thankful. It was the best result from a lack of communication ever! :0)

He loves me and our son and never takes us for granted. He is smarter than he gives himself credit for and he is extremely handy around the house. He is my biggest supporter no matter what I want to do. Marrying him was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I have a lifetime with him ahead to be thankful for.

Today I am Thankful for.... My Son

This is an easy one!! I am so beyond thankful my little JJ! (The pictures below speak for themselves!) He has been the biggest blessing I could have ever imagined. I didn't even know it was possible to love someone so much and to experience the unadulterated, unconditional love of a child is just overwhelming in the best way possible. He is so smart and funny and so sweet and is growing up so fast. He has the entire world and all its possibilities in front of him. He can do anything he wants and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for him!

Today I am Thankful for....My Job

When I was in college, I worked for a coffeehouse for 4 years (three years at It's A Grind, one at Starbucks). By the time I graduated I was done slinging lattes and making coffee. I met some pretty great people and I met some pretty terrible people and it was all a great experience, but I was ready to move on and get a grown up job. After graduation, I started sending out resumes. A lot of resumes. I went on a few interviews that lead to nothing. It seems silly now, but I was worried I wouldn't get a job at all! It was only two months that I was searching, so I was definitely being over dramatic. In July I got called in to an interview with Business Wire. Then I got called into a second interview. Then I got the job. I was so excited. I didn't really have a full grasp on what the company did, but I was happy anyway.

That was almost five and half years ago and I've never looked back. I'm now a Senior Editor for the Global leader in the industry. I work for a company that is owned by the man himself, the Oracle of Omaha, Mr. Warren Buffett.

I am thankful for the flexiblity of my job. My bosses are great and understanding and are willing to work with you to figure out the unexpected or arrange time off when needed. In 2007 I broke my foot and I couldn't drive. My husband (boyfriend at the time) had to drive me to work on his schedule, which was not even close to mine. It was no problem for me to work a different shift.

As a working mom, I am also extremely grateful for the hours I work. We are a 24-hour office, so there is always someone here. I work from 5am to 1:30 pm. The early hours sometimes suck when I want to sleep more, but it is always worth it to get home early enough to spend most of the day with my son. It'll be even better when he is in school because my husband can get him off to school in the morning and I'll be home when he gets out.

I have a job I enjoy, co-workers who are fantastic, and benefits that are hard to beat. We saw the recession in 2008 and we pushed on through. Sometimes the customer service aspect of the job is tough. People can be mean and rude and just angry for no reason at all. This job has definitely made me jaded in respect to how I view other people, but for every cringe-worthy client, there are a handful of great ones and that balances out nicely.

In this unsure time in the financial and job markets, I'm so thankful for my job and my husband's job and that we've never really had to worry about security. And we are doing what we enjoy, which is all the better.

Today I am Thankful for... Health

Today I woke up with a sore throat and a little bit of congestion in my sinuses. I felt pretty yucky most of the day, but that got me thinking. Overall, I have been very lucky when it comes to my health.
I had a pretty severe case of the chicken pox when I was a child (back before there was a vaccine); a Thyroglossal Duct Cyst remnant removed when I was 5; I had shingles and pneumonia when I was 11; I was diagnosed with G.E.R.D. when I was in college. None of that was great, in fact it was pretty awful (not that I remember having Chicken Pox). But when all is said and done, those health issues aren't really issues at all.
My husband is healthy, my son is healthy (I think he's been sick twice since he was born!), and I'm healthy. We have a history of hypo- and hyper-thyroidism, heart disease and cancer on both sides of our family, but it seems like everyone these days has a history of that or something so much worse.
There's the old cliche "At least you have your health." Well, to me, that's a lot. We wake up every morning, breathe easy and live our full and happy days. And I'm thankful for that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today I'm Thankful for.... Dirty Dishes

Dirty Dishes? What the...?? :0) I found this sign on Pinterest and I'm going to let it do the talking...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today I am Thankful... to live in America

On this day, The Marine Corps' birthday, I think it is appropriate to say how much I am thankful that I live in this country. We experience great freedoms that we take for granted everyday. The fact that people can protest the very thing that allows them to protest is a testament to that. We have the freedom to live how we want, believe in what we want, say what we want. As F.D.R. once said, the Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.

Not everyone in the world can say that:

- 79 per cent of the indigenous people in Peru are poor, and more than half live in extreme poverty.
Some 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are currently working, according to the International Labour Office (ILO). Of this total, some 120 million children are working full-time. Some 61% of child workers (153 million) are found in Asia; 32% in Africa and 7% in Latin America.
2 million girls each year are at risk of genital mutilation - approximately 6,000 per day.
Many people in many countries live under the extreme control of their government. The government controls everything from the news they hear to the shows they watch on television.
- Dirty water kills 5000 children a day in sub-Saharan Africa. According to The Guardian, "
Many sub-Saharan Africans get less than 20 litres of water a day and two-thirds have no proper toilets. By contrast, the average Briton uses 150 litres a day while Americans are the world's most profligate, using 600 litres a day. Phoenix, Arizona, uses 1,000 litres per person on average - 100 times as much as Mozambique."

We have it more than great here in the good Ol' USA and I hope that, no matter how
much that is taken for granted, it is something that is never forgotten.