Friday, July 22, 2011

Pinwheel Garland and Summer Mantel

Ok, ok. So it isn't a masterpiece, however... I am happy to announce that it is finished. Behold, my summer mantel! (Breathtaking. Right??) The "pain in the butt," as I have affectionately referred to it for months, is complete! At this point, I have to just step back, call it good enough and move on. I know it isn't perfect, but I have to give myself that kind freedom or my head would explode. And I have. Feels kinda nice. I am just being real with myself. Though I do wish I had adjusted/evened out the placements of things BEFORE I took the photo. lol... typical me. ;-)

I just realized I need to change the batteries on my small clock. I tell ya... the things I get distracted by...

I wonder what is next for me. I do have a couple of sons with birthdays coming up in August. I suppose I should really start obsessively thinking about those details next. lol. That seems to be my habit these days. Lots of thinking and only a fraction of action. I'm working on that! I am, I am!!
I ended up getting both inspiration and a tutorial for the garland from this website I found on It was really easy, but a little bit time consuming. I can imagine doing something similar for other holidays and parties. I am kind of excited to know how to do this now. I have been a tad obsessed with pinwheels this summer for some reason. So, gather your necessary supplies, and head over to her sight so you can get busy making one of your own. I am sure she would appreciate the visit. :) 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Super Easy Wreath

To be honest, I am almost embarrassed to post this but am going to anyway because I am just in a rebellious kind of mood. Bwahahaha. I really do have a tendency to put things off. Not on purpose mind you, I just get sidetracked easily. Well, around Easter, I started thinking about my summer mantel (stinking thing is a pain in my backside...) It has been torturing me. Eating at me daily. Grrrrr. I keep getting inspiration then purchasing supplies and instead end up doing the dishes and then driving kids to the library and then paying the electric bill and then supervising bathtime and, well, you get the drift. Soooooo... Here it is the end of July and my fabulous Summer mantel is not yet complete. Today though, I got a creative moment. I pulled out one of my grapevine wreaths and contemplated my plans for it (I should own stock in the grapevine wreath company, if there is one.) I simply cut a bunch of coordinating fabric strips about 1 inch wide and about 10 inches long and double tied them in a random fashion around the wreath so that the colors were balanced. Then I decided to display it on a plate stand that I already had. Tada!! Not the most fabulous creation in the world but a definite step in the right direction. I am now officially one step closer to having my stinking "summer mantel" all finished. My goal is to have it up by the end of September. You can hold me to that deadline... if you wouldn't mind. ;-)

Strawberry-White Peach Jam

So, I had already made strawberry jam earlier in the season but we were already down to our last jar, if you can believe it! I guess I shouldn't be surprised since I do have a family of six and they all like to eat (an understatement...) As luck would have it, this past Saturday, my husband and I decided to head down to our local farmer's market and see what they had as far as strawberries go and maybe make another batch. In addition to to a pretty awesome half-flat of strawberries, we were able to score some killer sweet corn, some of the most perfect eggplant (which we ate for dinner in the form of eggplant parmesan,) a pretty decent cataloupe, and some of the sweetest white peaches ever! I love living in the central valley of California sometimes- definitely not when it comes to culture or education, but we do tend to have some fabulous produce!! (I try to look on the bright side...) ;-) So, I ended up replacing the strawberry jam that we had already devoured and turned those white peaches into the yummiest strawberry-white peach jam on the face of the planet. Pretty much. I thought I would share the recipe I used since it isn't one that I typically see on the pectin packages where I get my other jam recipes. I really recommend it! From

Strawberry Peach Jam

4 1/2 cups prepared fruit (about 1 quart fully ripe strawberries and 1 1/2 lbs. fully ripe peaches)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 box powdered fruit pectin
1/2 tsp. butter
6 cups of sugar, measured exactly and placed in separate bowl

BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.
STEM and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 2-1/4 cups prepared strawberries into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Peel, pit and finely chop peaches. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared peaches into strawberries in saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.
STIR pectin into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hannah's Birthday Gift!

The time has come for another birthday party. That is the way it goes when you have 4 kids. I am always planning either a party for my own kids or a gift for one of my kids to give their friends. I love it because it gets me to focus on creating something guilt-free! I asked the birthday girl for a direction to look towards for her gift. She said she was into art and coloring these days. Perfect!! I had a plan the moment she told me that. I had made a really cool art holder board for an activity at MOPS one day and I proudly display my kids' art projects on it. It sits over on the wall behind my craft table and I thought it would make a blossoming artist very proud to display her own works of art. I decoupaged some scrapbook paper on a 6" x 8" piece of 1/4" fiberboard that I had in my craft stash. I added the words which were cut from vinyl with my trusty Cricut machine. I drilled some holes in the upper corners and used some heavy gauge wire and curled the ends of it to make a hanger. I had a little yellow pail on hand so I adhered her name and a flower to some ribbon on the handle and added an assortment of art supplies for Miss Hannah,. I hope she will like it. If the fact that my daughter wants one too is an indication of her liking it, I have nothing to worry about. ;-)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

I have seen so many cute ideas to celebrate the fourth of July this year that I just had to give some of them a shot. I loved the patriotic strawberry idea so I made a batch of those. I was lucky to have found awesome strawberries at Costco. They are HUGE! Filled the palm of my hand nearly and really sweet as well. Yummmmmmmm. I am a superfan of strawberries. And they are even better dipped in white chocolate and covered in sprinkles.

I also planned to make some of our family recipe sugar cookies. They are also yummy and I make them for most holidays. The kids kind of expect them so who am I to disappoint them? (Ok, I can't keep my hands off of them either but don't tell them I told you.) Usually I make buttercream frosting and use holiday themed sprinkles and decorations but I happened to have leftover white chocolate from the strawberries so I had a brilliant idea to cover the cookies in the chocolate. Oh WOW! They are super good this way. They remind me of those animal cookies that you get when you are young. You know, the pink and white ones? Only these are homemade and don't have the waxy taste to them. It is just such a horrible thing that they keep jumping off the tray and breaking. Shame. I just had to eat them to get rid of the evidence of my clumsiness... What?! It's legit. Really. I mean, they had to go somewhere. And this way everyone wins. I mean, I can't serve broken chocolate dipped cookies to my guests and family now, could I? ;-)
My brother and his family are coming over and we plan on having a ton of fireworks. Should be a blast! Hope you all celebrate safely! Happy Independence Day everyone!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer Veggie Burlap Wreath

I finally had a few inspiring moments and was able to put together my burlap wreath that has been sitting unfinished under my craft table for, oh, 2 months or so. I don't know what it is about me but if I am stressed in the least, my creativity takes a vacation along with my sanity. Or so it seems. So my friends, if I post anything remotely handmade or semi-cute you will know that things are good. ;-) Today... things are good.

First thing I did was remove the plastic cover from the wreath. Big mistake. Because, I discovered that straw wreaths have this transparent cording that keeps the straw from falling out. Makes sense, right? How else will the straw be kept in the wreath and not all over your table?? Yes, well, I discovered what happens when you remove the plastic covering and then cut through the cording on accident. You get a huge annoying mess that makes your vacuum become your new best friend. Oops. Won't be doing that again... Next step is to quickly cover your straw wreath with 2" (or so) burlap strips that you wind around the form until it's completely covered and not falling apart anymore.

Then I moved on to the veggies. I cut some fabric, grabbed a small handful of polyester fiberfill and literally smooshed it all together and hot glued it until I had a somewhat recognizable vegetable shape and then hot glued that to the wreath form. I don't know if you can tell what they are but they are supposed to be corn, a tomato and a carrot. At least they are in my world.

Then I grabbed a wood rectangle shape that I had on hand, inked it up like crazy with my Stampin'Up ink (in Purely Pomegranate for those interested parties...) and then sanded the edges with sandpaper. I used my Cricut to cut the word "summer" in vinyl and then quickly RE_CUT the word in vinyl again so that it would FIT on my rectangle shape. Darn waste... Yet another lesson I learned. Probably should have measured the area first. As it is, it is smaller than I wanted it but I'll be darned if I cut it a third time. Heck no! I am too frugal for that. My fabulous husband drilled holes for me on the sides of the rectangle while I was busy being annoyed by my Cricut mistake. Then I attached the wood to the wreath form with jute cording.

Last step was to cut a strip of coordinating fabric and fashion it into a bow/hanger and call it a day. So there ya have it. I think I like it. Yeah. I do. I like it. Or at the very least, I am glad that it is done. Hooray!
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