Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paper Medallion and Gift Tag Christmas Ornaments

Hope your Thanksgiving was fabulous!  On our way home from our trip to be with family we stopped in Durango, Colorado and sweet hubby chopped down a beautiful Christmas tree for us (after obtaining the proper permit). As we continued our road trip- and had traveled several miles down the road he caught his first glimpse of a cougar in the wild- as it climbed over a ten foot deer fence on the side of the highway.... I was reading in the back seat and missed the whole thing!

In other news- I made some paper medallion ornaments using gift tags from Hobby Lobby-50% off so they were $1.

And yes, it's weird but our ornaments are going to perfectly coordinate with the gift wrap on the presents under the tree this year....   we haven't really decorated this tree yet- I just stuck on a few ornaments for the pix.  However, the three trees in the bedrooms and the formal tree in the front room are decorated and stylin'!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Make a Christmas Count Down

I purchased some ghastly gold picture frames at a yard sale and jazzed them up with some shiny red spray paint.  I printed this free printable and placed it behind the glass. 

The kids get to scribble out each day with a sharpie marker while they count down to Christmas.  At the end of the season the glass can be cleaned with glass cleaner and they can use it again next year.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm wishing you each a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving!  We're spending time with family.  I'll check back in later.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Activity Day: Family History

For Activity Day this week we visited the small family history center located in our ward building.  The girls learned about family history and tried indexing.  If they remembered to bring a name and some dates of a deceased relative they were able to pull up their own family tree and take a look at it.

I have found that the girls get extra excited if I pass out an invitation the Sunday before our activity.  Here is the invitation we used.

This was a fun activity for me because I was able to share one of my new hobbies with the girls.  Family history is so much fun!  Anyone that enjoys being a detective would enjoy doing some family history and indexing.  To do indexing you sign up at the above link.  Then you look at a photo of an old record.  You type the information found on the record into a form and upload it.  Then someone looking for that person's info is able to pull it up and learn about their family member.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Free Photography Actions for Photoshop

I have two nieces that are professional photographers.  So super talented.  One is located in Arizona.  The other is located in Utah.

Portrait photography is such an art.  You have to be a skilled photographer and be skilled in working with people- as I've said before- such a HUGE learning curve.  One of my new favorite inspirational blogs is Peekaboo Photography.  Wow!  Her work is amazing.

I took the above photo on Saturday.  Since trees and beautiful green shrubs are few and far between in West Texas we used an old abandoned house for the backdrop.  I've been having a blast learning about and playing with filters and actions for photoshop.  I'm so grateful for free actions like the ones offered at Coffee Shop Blog.  So MANY options!  Since I've started having computer problems I haven't been able to use my actions.... I'm hoping for some great black Friday computer deals.... maybe we can upgrade!

For ideas on displaying all of your great photos how about these adorable miniature wooden frames filled with family pictures.... after getting enough to decorate your own tree you might want to grab a few extra as these would make such a special gift for grandma.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Whole Wheat and Honey Pumpkin Bread

Well, the healthy eating plan has paid off!  I'm eating a healthy fats (like avocados & real butter), whole foods diet with only a few sweeteners like honey and maple syrup- with a touch of semi-dark chocolate.

Now I'm done losing weight.  Some would say that I could still lose ten pounds but I don't buy the Hollywood version of healthy.  With my doctor's approval I'm moving on to maintenance!

It would still be so easy to switch back to my old way of eating.  Especially as the holidays approach!!  But I'm trying to hang tough and to pay attention to the benefits- and not just the sacrifices- of changing my lifestyle.... any suggestions for staying motivated during maintenance?

I am putting together a file of well loved healthy recipes.  Since, I love pumpkin bread  my daughter and I came up with the following recipe (thanks Amber).  I hope you'll like it too!

Whole Wheat & Honey Pumpkin Bread

1/3 c. applesauce

1/3 c. vegetable oil

1 ½ c. honey

2 t. vanilla

4 eggs

1 15 oz. can  pumpkin (Libby’s or a good tasting organic brand-  and there is a not so pleasant difference in the taste of different brands of canned pumpkin)

1 3/4c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. brown rice flour

1 t. salt

2 t. baking soda

½ T. cinnamon

1 ½ t. ginger

1 t. cloves

½ c. water


1 c. chopped nuts

1 ½ c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix the moist ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients together and add them to the pumpkin mix. Blending just until mixed. Add the water. Mix. Gently add nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into two well greased bread pans- lick the bowl. Bake at 325 for 50 min. or until toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Remove from pans and cool for 5 hours before slicing.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Activity Day: Gratitude

Activity Day this week focused on gratitude.  I saw this super cute idea of turning a picture frame with glass into a dry erase board for the holidays over at brown paper packages.  We adapted it by buying an inexpensive picture frame at Dollar Tree.  The girls painted their frames.

Instead of using vinyl lettering I just printed the words on cardstock and we placed the paper into the frame.  The girls can write what they are thankful for as they go through the month- and they can invite family members to add things as well.  I used a free typewriter font and a free image  (I photo edited mine to make it black and white) off of the web.

I used the clever idea of writing on the glass with an ultra fine sharpie marker- it doesn't smear like dry erase markers but wipes off easily with a damp cloth- another great idea from the brown paper packages blog!

During activity day we also played gratitude charades where the girls acted out what they were thankful for and we all guessed.  The person who guessed correctly had the next turn.

The girls also took home a small "gratitude" journal- a 99 cent notebook from WalMart.

We used this talk for our discussion on being grateful.  Hope that helps.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Make Your Own Photo Props: A list of links

I've been looking for super cute and affordable photo props and I'm not finding too many.  So, I looked for links on how to make some of my own and I thought I'd share what I found.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

These cute headband crowns that can be easily altered and then used for birthdays, for princes and princesses or for super heroes.

Grosgrain's tent that folds down for easy transportation and storage.

Spunky toddler tie  (girl's or boys)- For some reason I especially like these in black and white photos.  Here is another pattern (no elastic).

Wood Crate and you can add "vintage" labels from here.

I did get two banners made- one girly and one with "boy" colors. 

Here are the simple instructions: Draw a triangle the size you'd like your flags to be on paper.  Mine were about  seven inches across the top and about 11 inches center top to bottom point.

Pin to fabric and cut around.  I cut out seven flags (triangles).  Use the same pattern to cut out seven flags from felt (this gives your banner a nice weight so it hangs nicely and doesn't get all curled up in storage).  Place one decorative fabric flag on top of one plain felt flag and serge or zig zag stitch around your banner flags.  Get two packages of bias tape.  Leave two feet (for tying) and then begin zig zagging your flags onto the bias tape.  Equally space the flags.  I put mine about three inches apart.  When you run out of bias tape just open the second package and sew the new tape on top of the old, overlapping about three inches.  Keep adding flags.  Leave another two feet for tying.  Display behind a cute munchkin and start snapping photos.

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