Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tri-Fold Cards, No expensive envelopes needed

I use to love making cards. Scrapbooking makes me feel guilty for getting so behind on it (kid #3 is lucky I remember to take pictures now) but with cards you can whip them up on a whim. No guilt involved when you tuck them away.

The one thing that I dislike about making cards is buying the specialty evelopes-- they are quite pricey. Well, I found an easy fix for that right at my dollar store... regular all white evelopes.  When you cut a folded piece of paper to fit in a standard envelope you are left with a not very attractive odd shape rectangle. That size didn't work for me.

Then I tried a tri-fold... and it was perfect.  Unfolded it is the same size as the cards I used to make (2 out of an 8.5 X 11) paper. 

Standard envelopes are longer that specialty card ones, so you can only make one out of an 8.5 X 11 sheet of paper (or 2 out of a 12 X 12), but I just save the scrap cut-offs and use them to embellish other cards or to make great little tags for gift bags.

Lay the envelope under the paper as you fold so you get the correct size. Trim and fold cards using the envelope as a guide.  A strategically placed brad can hold the front flap down or you can mount the embellishment on raised sticky foam squares (that's a technical term!) and place it so you can tuck the flap under the edge of it.

See those embelishments I used. I collected clip art (watch for copyrights!) and used cool fonts to create messages on 4x6 photo prints.  Trim and glue and away you go. Quick and easy.

Happy Card Making

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quick Gift Bag

Gift bags are so much easier than wrapping presents, especially for Mr. L2D.  Here's a quick and easy way to create a sturdy gift bag. It's also a great way to recycle and use up the last little bit of wrapping paper.

Choose a cereal or cracker box that will fit your gift.  Trim the top to the size you want, completely cutting off the flaps.  Cover the box with wrapping paper, folding the paper over the top edge and securing on the inside with a glue stick or tape.  Use a hole punch to create holes for the handles, two on each side.  Tie coordinating ribbon, twine, or string through the holes to create the handles. 

Pretty neat, huh? Just open your pantry and see all the great shapes and sizes you can make your boxes. Tiny as a gelatin box or large as a cereal box.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hide-N-Seek Pizza Balls

Yep. That's what #1 wanted to call 'em. He ate them, so I let him go ahead and name them. He wants them for dinner next week too. Thank you pinterest for the yummy recipe.

Don't you hate it when the pinterest link is wrong! Thankfully her name was still on the photo and after a quick google search, I found the original recipe. You can check them out here: Easy Pepperoni Rolls . 

Here's my version.

And here is how I changed up the recipe.  I used shredded mozzarella (only cheese in the house) and opted not to sprinkle spices on top. My kiddos don't care for little green things on their food--can you say picky?. I also did not brush the tops with egg. Boring, huh? But they all got eaten up quick--except the two that I snuck in the fridge for lunch the following day! ;)  They were just as yummy cold...perfect summertime recipe or for school lunches

Next time I'm going to try canadian bacon and cheese. Maybe I'll throw caution to the wind and tuck some pineapple in too! Mmm... Someone commented on the original blog that they tried it with BBQ chicken, which must be tried soon too!


Monday, June 18, 2012

Quick Bead Necklace

I needed a quick necklace to go with a shirt I decided to wear to a lunch with friends. Unfortunately I didn't have time to whip out my jewelry supplies.  Here's what I did.

I threaded the beads with embroidery floss. I tied a loop at one end and a "T" part of a toggle clasp to the other end (after I measured how long I wanted the necklace to hang). Then I put a drop of clear nail polish on the knots to keep them secure.

The longest/hardest part of this project was waiting for the polish to dry so I could put it on!

Citrus Summer

The amazing ladies at my church got together last night for dinner and to tie kid's flannel quilts for Shriner's Hospital. I wish I knew who pieced the tops and put them together-- they were so cute!-- and there were 15 of them! I volunteered to decorate the food tables so I came up with this easy (and inexpensive!) decor while brainstorming ideas with my mom.

Neon paper cut into half circles with white puff paint painted seeds and edges make them into citrus slices. Taped to curling ribbon, along with images of citrus fruits, created the banner which was hung on the edge of the table.

Next I hot glued white ribbon and an orange image to quart mason jars. To make the "frog" (where did that name come from?!) I secured netting (like small toys come in, especially at the dollar store) to the top using silver canning rings. A quick trim removed the extra netting on the edge. Then I sliced oranges, lemons and limes and poked them on bamboo skewers. Filling the jars with water kept them from tipping over when the boquets were made. 

I found these great striped napkins that I unfolded and placed under each jar bouquet. On the drink and dessert tables I sprinkled a little confetti (left-over from cutting the half circles.

It was super easy and didn't cost a lot of money. It was perfect for summer time too!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blogging Award Thanks

Guess what made my day today?  I got nominated for a blogger award. I'm serious. Hands down my favorite blog -- you know, the one you check first every morning -- nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you, Priscilla at ThriftyCraftGirl. If you haven't headed over to her blog, check it out. She'll brighten your day and inspire your fingers!

With great awards, comes great responsibility. (That's how it goes, right?)

Random Things, no particular order:

7. I was scared of the toothfairy just like Junie B. Jones. I lost my first tooth, put it under my pillow and awoke in the middle of the night. I'm positive that I heard her tiny scream as she jumped out the window to avoid being caught. I safely put later teeth under a folded blanket at the end of my bed so she wouldn't have to bother me to leave my surprise.
6. If I stretch really hard, I can almost reach the astounding height of 5 foot 1/2 inch.
5. I HATE cleaning, which is why I love crafting, reading, gardening and cooking. I can be productive and avoid post-pone cleaning. This is also the reason I can't get in my crap craft room right now. Sigh.
4. MegaMind is hands-down my favorite movie. I could watch it everyday. I answer the phone "O-lo". Code: Go watch it now!
3. Mr. L2D likes white walls with nothing hung on them.  This really should have been disclosed prior to vows being taken! I have to decorate slowly and allow him to get use to it. I'm really surprised that he hasn't mentioned the HUGE, ugly lamp in the living room that is awaiting a make-over. ;) At $2, I couldn't pass it up.
2. I love to sing, especially in my car and in the shower, but also in church. I'd much rather sing in front of people than speak.
1. I love craft blogs and I'm sure Mr. L2D thinks that all I do the live-long day is surf the internet. It's not my fault that when dinner's under control and I have a few moments to kill that he walks in the door at that precise minute I start pinteresting!

Now the hard part.  I really do value my time with 3 kiddos at home, so I confess I don't follow that many blogs.  Over the next few days I promise to search the web for fantastic blogs and try to remember those that have inspired me and recognize them here.  I don't want to turn this into a "chain letter" with random blogs that I've never visited. I'll even include a post I love from each.  Check them out too!  ---> Balloon Luminaries   ---> great round up of crafts  ---> casserole tray  --->  recycled bracelet  ---> I spy bags  ---> Fat Quarter Pillowcase Dress  ---> Chrysanthemum Mirror  --->  Procrastination Inspiration--GET IT DONE!   ---> Craft Room Inspiration Round-up   ---> Awesome Sign   ---> Hanging Basket Garden  ---> Fun Photo Gifts

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A-OK Rolls (and potato soup)

It's 4 o'clock and #3 is still napping and I'm wishing I could have gotten to the store to buy some rolls to go with our soup tonight.  Not wanting to wake up napper (she's currently teething, so she's happier while sleeping) I turn to my tried and true roll recipe.  Are there rolls out there that are lighter and fluffier?-- Darn tooting there are. My neighbor brings me some of hers! But when you only have a hour 'til dinner time, these are quite tasty for the effort.

 A-OK Rolls
1 1/4 cups water
2 pkg (2TB) yeast
1/2 warm milk
1/3 cup soft butter (or margarine)
1/2 sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
5 1/2 cups of flour*

Add everything to your starting with just 2 cups of flour. Mix for 3 minutes on medium.  Slowly add in reamining flour and continuing mixing for 6 to 8 minutes. Leave it be and go set the table and make a salad.  Now it's time for the fun-- shaping rolls. It's kinda a two hand, greasy job, so I passed the camera to my 5 year-old. I think he did a great job!

Grab a blob of dough about the size of a 1/2 cup measuring cup (I like big buns, and I cannot lie!). And flatten in out a bit.

Here is where the rolls' name comes from. Rub shortening on your hands. Make an OK sign with your non-dominant hand. Put the dough disk over the hole, palm side up. 

Using your other hand's fingers, slowly push the dough through the hole, stretching the outside "skin" smooth in the process and making a nice round shape. It reminds me of blowing a big bubble gum bubble.

Pinch close the end and place end down on a greased sheet.  Repeat re-greasing hands as necessary. 

Spray finished rolls with cooking spray and loosely cover with plastic wrap.  Ignore them for 20 mintues while you finish the rest of dinner.  Pre-heat oven to 350.

Remove plastic warp and bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. When they are hot from the oven, rub a little butter/margarine over the top for a softer crust. Enjoy!
*I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 3 1/2 of white-- which naturally makes a heavier roll.

Oh, wait! The Potato Soup? you say. It's easier than rolls.  Take two boxes of Au Gratin boxed potatoes.  Boil some veggies (carrots and corn are least offensive to my kids) in the water that is called for on the boxes.  When the veggies are almost tender, add potatoes, seasoning packets, chopped ham and milk called for on box, I usually don't add the butter but you could. Now thin it with some more milk and/or water to a soup consistency--sorry no meaurements, I just eyeball it.  Throw some more spices in there, too. I sprinkled a tad of celery salt and black pepper this time.  I usually open my spices, smell the soup and then smell the spice-- if they smell good together, in it goes! Continue simmering on low until potatoes are soft. Ta da! Soup from a box!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thrifty is Nifty

My sister called and ask for ideas on being Thrifty. I was flattered! She's helping with a women's night at church on sharing nifty thrifty ideas. Here's my thrifty two cents...

Dollar Stores. This includes dollar sections at my favorite stores like JoAnn's, Micheal's, and Target, as well as The Dollar Tree, Honks All A Dollar, Family Dollar and Dollar General.  Party supplies, cleaning supplies, first aid stuff, health and beauty, kitchen stuff, and craft supplies... all for a buck! I usually steer clear of most of the kids toys-- they don't last long and we have a plethera of junk toys around the house as it is.  Exceptions are the extra large bubble bottles, swim rings and pool noodles, sidewalk chalk, and puzzles.
Here are some of my favorites from The DollarTree.
(Lining up photos is a talent...that I don't have!)

Thrift Stores. Learn when they have their sales. Shop with something general in mind (large picture frames, toddler girl summer clothes, and a round tablecloth) but be open to browsing. DO NOT TAKE KIDS! Especially if you are shopping for clothes for yourself. 

Garage Sales. I love summer! Go early and bring cash in small bills. It's a bit awkward to talk them down in price and then hand them a 50 bill for change. Just saying. 

Freezer Meal Swap.  There are several online websites with recipes and how-to's on host a freezer meal swap.  I have two favorite ways of doing this. First way, decide on the recipes and what needs to be purchased. One person shops or divide the list.  Put everyone in charge of as much prep-work that can be done the day before (chop veggies, brown hamburger, cook chicken, etc.) Get together and assemble the meals, making the mess in only one kitchen.  Second way, pick a friend or two and decide on meals to make. You buy everything for your meals and assemble them on your own time.  Total up the $ each person spent, even up with who owes who still (usually only a few bucks) and exchange meals. Make sure you trust the cooking habits of those you switch with; consider allergies, dietary restictions and even pet hair (that's a killer for me!).
Or go solo and just double recipes (or for small families, divide the recipe into two dishes) and freeze the extra.  When I make brownies, cakes or cookies I usually freeze half too. Especially in the summer when I want brownies, but I don't want to heat up the house.

Buy generic.  Get to know your store brands and what's good and what's not.  I'll buy generic canned beans and but not toliet paper.  Often generics are made by the same manufacturing plant as a brand name. For instance dairy prodcuts.  My dad was an engineer for several dairy plants.  Look on the packaging for the plant ID # (formatted like this --> 00-00). My generic milk reads 49-70, but so does my name brand cottage cheese (it was on sale). Both these brands are made in the same plant and probably come out of the same machines with a different label slapped to the sides.

Learn how to cook inexpensive meats.  Cook 'em low (temp) and slow is usually the rule for tender meat. Crock pots are great for this. Check to see if your grocery store's meat department and bakery mark products down that have today's sell-by date.  If you can freeze it or use it that day-- go for it!

Shop Sales.  Tuesday is my favorite mail day--the ads come.  Buy what's on sale, or take the ads to Walmart--they will price match off those ads.  Brand for brand and any generic/store brand for their Great Value brand.  Shop end-of-season clearances and post-holiday celerances, too! I got my kids winter coats and tennis shoes for next year when they were clearanced more than 50% off!

Energy Conservation. I'm kinda proud of myself here. We run the AC a total of maybe two weeks total around here in the summer. Watch the weather reports, cool off the house at night, close it up during the day (windows/blinds/drapes) on the side that the sun shines through. Take advantage of breezes. Avoid using the oven on hot days--crockpots, microwaves, rotisserie chickens, tacos, etc. A box fan in the kitchen circulates the air nicely.

Kid swap.  Have young kids at home and none old enough to babysit?  Find another family or two in the same situation. Trade for weekly play dates or monthly date nights. I LOVE this! I'm always amazed at how much I can get done even when the play date is at my house and I don't have to entertain my own kids.  I've also traded my neighbor-- my sewing skills (hemming curtains, making window seats cushions, etc) for sitting my kiddos.

What are your thrifty ideas?


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Puzzle Art and Guest Book

I didn't think I would have time to enter another project for 's Wedding Craft challenge (sponsored by DollarTree) but thanks to the last full day of school, a playdate, and a nap for #3, I got it done!

Have you noticed that even when the play date is at your house, you still get a TON of stuff done. Seriously looking into paying kids to come play with my kids-- think they will work for popsicles? ;)

Anyway, here it is. 

Yeah... we've been married that long short! Time flies when you're having fun, huh?

It was really easy to put together.

A lot of inventory changes at the DollarTree, but one thing you are sure to always find is puzzles.  I brought mine home and painted the back side white (you could use any color, though.)  Have you noticed how popular chevron is in the DIY world right now? Everything from earrings to dressers.  I thought I'd join the exclusive chevron club and use it for my background paper. 

I removed the glass from a DollarTree frame (I'm sure I'll find a use for it later!) and place my paper inside.

I used white glue to arrange the puzzle pieces in a heart shape outline. Then I glued more pieces on top to fill it in.  I had saved two pieces that fit together and outlined their joined shape with a fine point permanent marker (yep, got that at the DollarTree) and wrote our initials on it.  I also outlined the heart shape because it needed to pop a little more against the white parts of the background.  "Joined" followed by the date completes the project.

See. Told you it was easy.  I'm currently in love with the idea of having guests sign the back of a piece of a puzzle instead of the traditional guest book (that who knows where it'll ended up after several moves). The DollarTree has tons of pretty scenic puzzles to choose from or have a personalized puzzle created from your own photo. I love puzzles and think this would be a fantastic idea for a wedding, aniversary, or even scaled down for a child's birthday, baby shower, baptism,... to record those that shared in your special day.

Puzzle: $1
Spray (or acrylic) paint: on hand
Frame: $1
White glue: on hand
Fine point permanent marker: $1 for twin pack

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fruit Salad Fluff

My kiddos will eat fruit... veggies, we are working on!  Here is one of our favorites that is perfect for summer. Did I mention it was super easy! I keep whipped topping in my freezer so I can whip this up any time.

Fruit Salad Fluff

1 can Fruit Cocktail
1 Apple
1 cup Grapes
1 cup Mini Marshmallows 
1/2 tub Whipped Topping
1/2 package of gelatin

Drain fruit cocktail well. Core and chop an apple, I prefer a tart variety like Gala or Granny Smith. Halve the grapes.  Add marshmallows. Sprinkle 1/2 of a package of gelain over fruit. Gently fold in whipped topping.  You are suppose to refridgerate it for at least an hour before eating, but I never plan ahead that far! It does set up a tiny bit once refridgerated, but the flavor doesn't change-- it's mmmm...

This is one of those salads that you can add whatever fruit you want. Sometimes I throw in mandarin oranges and use orange gelatin.  Or fresh cherry halves. If you are a nut like nuts, toss some of those in too. I just toss whatever fruit is in my fridge or pantry and, you know me, I rarely measure anything.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dollar Store Wedding Craft Challenge

It's a scorcher outside today-- mid 90's! Flip the calendar to June and turn up the summer heat! Shove the backpacks to the back of the closet and bring out the water toys.  

You know what else June brings? Weddings! 
"For they say when you marry in June,
You will always be a bride."

Anyone? (Hint: What a great musical!)

And that is why I'm writing this post.
The fun ladies over at are hosting a challenge sponsored by The Dollar Tree. Wedding crafts is the theme and what says wedding more than the color white?!  If your looking for a bang-for-your-buck, go no further than a package of white coffee filters.  Oh, the possibilities are endless!

First, I created a Hanging Garland

Lay out a coffee filter flat. Bunch up four more and tape them down individually as shown. Then continue to bunch 'em up and tape them down until you get the fullness you like.  I used a total of 7 including the flat base.  Then tape it to curling ribbon (party section at The Dollar Tree) and hang.  Or pick up some dental floss over by the toothbrush isle for a more subtle string.  Hang them against a wall flat, or tape them back-to-back down the ribbon to hang freely like a curtain.

I thought they were pretty enough to set loose around the tables, too!  

Next, I made a Pomander!

I pined my ribbon to the top of my styrofoam ball (check the floral isle for those). Then I pushed pins through the center of a single filter (or sometimes two) with straight pins that I had on hand. I had to be very careful because the heads were small and kept popping through the filters.  The glue in the picture didn't help much. I'd try push pins (office supply isle) next time, they have bigger heads and will be completely hidden anyway.  Just keep stickin the filters around the styrofoam ball until it is as full as you like.  If you aren't careful about getting the pins in the center, your ball might look a bit uneven. My 5 year-old was helping me and it shows!

Then, I flexed my crafty fingers and did a google search for Coffee Filter Flowers.

Wow, are there some talented people out there! I used this blog for inspiration to come up with the following flowers. Alright, I confess-- I just scrolled through the pictures.  I am not patient enough to wait for dyed coffee filters to dry so I used a Washable Marker to color mine. I also used a twist tie and clear tape instead of floral wire and tape-- either way you go the Dollar Tree has you covered!

Flower Center:
Fold in half, then in half again. Snip the rounded edge about halfway to the center point. Color with marker. Unfold and bunch up. Using clear or floral tape, secure to your twist tie or floral wire.

Flower 1: 

Fold 5-6 flattened coffee filters in half.  Cut the curve into a scallop. Arrange and secure layers around the center with tape.

Flower 2:

Cut like the picture and assemble the same as Number 1.

Flower 3:

You know what to do! ;)

Play around with how you cut and color the filters. They come in a package of a gazillion 160 for a $1 so there are plenty to get creative with. 

Coffee Filters, 160-- $1
Curling Ribbon-- $1
Clear Tape, 2 ct --$1
Styrofoam Balls-- $1
Push Pins-- $1
Washable Markers-- $1
Garbage bags (for the twist tie closures!)-- $1
Your Wedding-- PRICELESS

...opps! That's a different brand. ;)