Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homemade Headbands

I had a college flash back this week. It wasn't about sorority parties, all-nighters or endless cups of coffee while studying for finals. It was about something a guy friend taught me - how to make ribbon flowers. I know, I know, not the typical college guy tutorial.  His mom happened to make beautiful little boxes with these ribbon flowers on them and it occurred to me this week that I could pop them on headbands and have something fancy and free - two words I love to see together.  This is free for me because I had all the supplies, but even to buy them would be very cheap.

Here's what you need to start.

1. Wire Ribbon. Any ribbon works, as long as it is the kind that has wire running through it.

2. Work the wire out of one side of the ribbon. It's probably a good idea to do this on both ends. Start bunching the ribbon toward the middle. You'll see it start to gather. 

3.  After it's gather pretty tight, wrap it around your finger, so it becomes a curly Q. 

4. Here you'll see that I've just mashed the curly Q down - sorry if my terms are too technical :) - and it's taken on the look of a flower. Hot glue the flower onto your headband and add beads, a button or whatever embellishment you chose to finish out the center of the flower. 

5. Get your cutie to proudly model your new creation. I will say that I just made this with things I had laying around. You can see how a little more "styling" could really make it fantastic!  Oh yeah, this probably took me ten minutes. I promise it's eeeeeeeasy.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oodles of Oats

We go through oats around here like they're water.  You know, the large cylinders of oats that are super cheap and good for you.  The big consumer in this family is hubby. He eats a huge bowl of raw oats, raisins and milk every morning.  My oldest is following suit and adding raw oats to her cereal too. I love this.  Whole grain oats are good for you, good for the budget and there are so many things you can do with them.

With Fall coming, I've been inspired to explore all the wonderful things I can do with oats.  I don't know why Fall has inspired me. I guess it's because Fall makes me want to bake (I am not typically a baker).  I want my girls to remember coming into the house on a cool day and smelling cocoa, hot cider, cookies, cakes and fresh breads. Then, I'll blow out those scented candles and give them whatever snack I've come up with for the day.  First up, homemade granola bars.

This recipe is easy, full of natural ingredients and satisfies the sweet craving perfectly. The base is whole grain oats and whole wheat flour. Honey is the sweetener, so you avoid all the refined sugars. I tossed in slivered almonds for some good ole omega 3s. What more could you ask for? Oh yes, it's much cheaper than buying store bought granola bars that are full of preservatives.

Here's what you get:

I'm storing mine in a tupperware in the fridge, but I have a feeling storage won't be an issue since I've eaten two in the last ten minutes.  Happy munching!

Monday, September 27, 2010

B is for Banana Bread

Mommy school is focusing on "B" this week (if you don't know what mommy school is, it is my homespun homeschool program for my 3 1/2 year old).  Here is what we're learning about during our "B" week:

Writing the letter B
B phonogram
Banana Bread (chocolate chip banana bread to be exact)
Big vs. Little (comparing sizes)
Bugs (different parts of a bugs body)
Bedtime (why our bodies need sleep)
Blast off (learn about the space shuttle)

I think I'll cap it off there, so as not to overwhelm either teacher or student. Here's the recipe I used for the banana bread.  It's quick, easy and good.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

4 small or 3 large bananas
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1/2 of cup oil
1 tsp. of vanilla
2 cups of self rising flour
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup of pecans (optional)

Beat the bananas with a mixer. Add remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips and pecans. Beat on medium speed until well-blended.  Add chocolate chips and pecans if using. Divide into two greased loaf pans and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Better than a Hallelujah"

Have you heard the song, "Better than a Hallelujah" by Amy Grant?  If not, please take a listen from the link below.  It's just a great reminder that worshiping God isn't about trite prayers, rote Bible study or church-talk. It's about living authentically and approaching Him with whatever we have, wherever we are. Don't get me wrong - praying, reading the Bile and fellowship with believers are essential. It just doesn't mean a whole lot if it's not from a place of sincerity and true worship.  Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I don't know about you, but it is pretty easy for me to caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and lose sight of whose in charge anyway. Right now I'm studying Isaiah in Bible Study Fellowship. We're only a couple of weeks in, but already it's grabbing ahold of my heart and convicting me in some major ways. It is so easy for me to become self-sufficient and forget any sufficiency that I do have is from God alone. He deserves all credit and praise for anything that is good. It's also easy for me to get in to rote patterns of worshiping God.  For instance, I often rush through a prayer before dinner without truly pausing to consider how the food before us is only there because of God's grace in our lives. We could just as easily be a family without food.  

Here are some cute little pieces of art I found on Etsy (persimmon and pink). I know I would benefit from having some of these framed in my kitchen, bathroom and by my bed.  But really, I shouldn't need small visual reminders, should I?  The amount that God has given me should humble me daily, draw me to him in thanks and in prayer and prompt me to tell others of His goodness.  I am convicted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Batabing, bataboom!!!  Here it is...phase two of my multi-phase laundry room update.  I've gotta tell ya, I love it!  BUT......

Loving the outcome is far different than loving the process. If I've inspired you to stencil a wall in your home, I am so glad. I do feel like it makes quite a statement for very little money.  However, I need to let you know that this project drove me mad challenged me. Somehow I got the alignment wrong when I positioned my stencil which led to lots of touch-ups, hand painting, screaming deep breaths and very imperfect stenciling.  My hottie handyman wasn't kidding when he said this was MY project.  He did appear from time to time to show some sympathy, re-position my stencil and trim it down a few times, but I will tell you there was not one ounce of paint on that cute man.

Please don't think that your experience with stenciling with the be same as mine.  Even though I love projects, I tend to make them far more complicated than they really are. I'm sure it has more to do with me than the project itself. 

I'm learning to live with okay with imperfect stenciling. I'm telling myself it is a good reminder that in all my sin and imperfection, God still loves me uncontrollably and pursues me continuously. Did you have any idea that I could make my laundry room wall so spiritual?  Me neither. Okay, so my first thought may have been somewhere closer to a profanity than something spiritual, but heh, I got there, right?  

Next up is the office side of the room.  Here's the before. 

My handyman and I are thinking through options. He did make me a printer shelf this weekend, so that will help tidy up the left side of the computer.  The rest of the make-over is yet to come.  Here's one last picture of my stenciling in action.  Pay no attention to me. Instead, look at my cute little audience.  I should have popped popcorn. 


Monday, September 20, 2010

A is for Apple

(image via

So, we're into our third week of mommy school.  Last night I told little one that today was mommy school. Her response was this, "thank you, thank you mommy, for doing mommy school again and again and again."  I melt.

I've decided each week we are going to focus on a certain letter, starting with A and running through the alphabet.  We'll learn to write each letter and do various things associated with the letter. For instance, apple painting (see above).  Wouldn't something along those lines make such cute teacher gifts? Store that idea away for Christmas and the end of the year, no?  Here's a few more "A" topics we're going to cover....

Apple painting (see above)
Writing the letter A and learning the phonograms that go with it.
Ants (study an ant farm and how ants work together - ie. team work)
Arboretum (field trip with big sister)
Alphabet (this will just be a review of all the letters and making sure she can recognize them all)
Airplanes (how things fly)
Acting (making different faces to show different emotions)
All about me (she'll do a self-portrait and we'll talk about hair color, eye color, etc.)

I don't know if I'll be able to post what we do for each letter (that get's boring for the non-mommy school readers), but you get the idea.  If you have any great ideas, please pass them along!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Free Design Magazines

Confession:  I love magazines.  I especially love design/decorating and family craft magazines. Yes, I am the person that occasionally tears a page out of a magazine at the doctor's office. Did I just admit that? I did. Goodness.  However, I don't like to pay for subscriptions. I just don't feel like I get my money's worth since I tend to only have use for one or two pages in the entire issue.

Well, this year there has been some great e-publishing going on. There are now two online design magazines that are fun reads and absolutely free (you know that's my favorite word, don't you?).  The first magazine, RUE, is fresh off the web press. The second, Lonny, has been around for about a year, so it might be old news to you. Either way, they both offer some great ideas and lots of decorating eye candy.

I hope you enjoy some free flipp'n. Maybe you can grab a cup of coffee, sit at your computer and take a mom or busy lady break. I'm going to try to do the same this weekend (after stenciling, of course).

Friday, September 17, 2010

Can you say "Yum?"

(image via

I made this last night at it is goo-ood!  I will say if you don't love onions, you probably wont' love this. But if you love French onion soup, I think it might be it's cousin.  The best part is that it's only five ingredients. Three of them are onions, bread and cheese....hard to go wrong with that.  Here's the recipe again in case you want to give it a go - Onion Pandade.  Hubby's comment was, "it's odd, but good." I think that is what he says about me a compliment.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Date Night on the Cheap

Okay gang, I've got an awesome deal for you today. Have you heard of I hadn't until my cousin emailed me about it a few days ago. Typically on, you could purchase gift cards to various restaurants at a discount. For instance, you might pay $15 for a $25 gift card. Not a bad savings, heh?  But I'd rather cook at home than save a mere $10. Not anymore, my friends.  Here's the latest deal.  You can purchase a $25 gift card to a wide variety of restaurants for $3.00. Yes, $3.00.

I know, you're skeptical. I was too. But I tried it and hubby and I have been on two dates using our gift cards already and it is indeed legitimate.  Some restaurants have stipulations, but they are clearly posted.  So, if you want to go on a cheap date night (or girls night or big ole dinner alone or date with your kiddo), here's your chance.

Here's what to do:  1. Click on any of the links to 2.Shop for your gift cards to whichever restaurants you choose.  3. Type in the promotion code SPORK at check out.  TADA!!!! You're done. You can print your gift cards whenever you want and hit the town.

Enjoy your dinner people!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Laundry Room Update (part 1)

Progress on the laundry room is moving slower than I'd hoped. Mostly because I'm waiting for a package. I expect it to arrive this week, so this weekend might offer another phase in the update.  But, thanks to my hottie handyman (don't worry, he's also my hubby), the laundry side of the room is in tip top shape.  Here's a picture of the improvement:

All we added was a simple shelf (I can say that because I didn't make it). It did wonders because it removed all the clutter that used to sit atop my washer and dryer. The basket on the left holds the clothes that need to be ironed. I intentionally did not get a huge one to offer myself a little accountability. 

Here is a close-up of my cleaning supplies from Target. The box in the back is empty. It's contents are in the glass jar for easy access. But there is no way I'm tossing that cute of a box. That little corner just makes me smile. It's pretty stuff than cleans....two of my favorite things. 

Hopefully the next reveal will be this big blank wall that you see right off the kitchen. I ordered a stencil and am going to do the entire wall. I don't think hottie handyman has much interest in helping with this part of the project (he's probably afraid a friend will call and I'll tell them he's busy stenciling - I guess that's not quite as manly sounding as carpentry), so we'll see how I do.  And after that, I'll tackle the office side of the room.  Slowly, but surely.....

Completely shifting gears, thank you to those of you who posted some dinner ideas. I'm so glad to have some new ideas and inspiration.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

What's for Dinner?

I know I've posted about meal planning before, but The Project Girl has another cool meal planning sheet on her blog (see above).  I also thought I would give you a gift this week. I'm going to tell you everything that I'm making for dinner in hopes that you will share with me some of what you're fixing.  As much as meal planning helps organization, budgeting and planning, it doesn't really help me get out of the rut of fixing the same things in my small repertoire. So here is what's for dinner around her (if I have access to the recipe, I've linked to it). 

Sunday: Pistachio Chicken, Steamed Asparagus and Rice.
Monday: Broiled Tilapia Parmesan with Broccoli and Onion Pandade.
Tuesday: Calypso Beef Soup with Beer Bread.
Wednesday: Feta Stuffed Chicken with Zucchini and Wild Rice. 
Thursday:  Turkey and Basil Paninis with Fruit Salad.

Now, pleeeeease send me some of your favorite family recipes!!!  I hope your week is off to a great start!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I found these little foam shapes in the Target dollar spot the other day. I bought three packs for "mommy school."  Here's some fun you and your kiddos can have with little manipulatives like these:

1. Sorting by shape.
2. Sorting by color.
3. Counting by 1.
4. Counting by 5. 
5. Counting by 10. 
6. Creating shapes with the shapes.
7. Making patterns.

I'm sure there are many more, but these are what come to my mind.  This exercise is what I am now calling play teaching. It's playing with your cuties, all while strengthening their little minds.   If you can't find these little guys, here are some other ideas that you can do some of the same things with:

1. Pom Poms (see above). I had these left over from my oldest's bday party. Little one and I have had all kinds of fun with them. 
2. Hair bands (if you're like us, you have tons).
3. Jelly Beans (if you dare).
4. Plastic Bugs (we have them in all types and colors).
5. Different kinds of small pasta.
6. Legos

I hope this inspires you to do some play teaching.  Little one and I have been doing it in mommy school, but big sister is going to join in on the fun too!  

Friday, September 10, 2010


Hi folks. I must admit that this sign is saying what I'm feeling right now. Between Summer themes, "mommy school," BSF leadership (If you need a Bible Study, please check this out), cleaning my house and keeping our family and home in working order, I'm feeling a wee bit overwhelmed. Please know, I see all of these things as tremendous blessings and don't feel like any of them are unreasonable to be doing.  But, with all these activities just starting and not having gotten into the groove yet, I need a little Divine intervention. It's so easy for me to think that I can do all things in my own strength. That alone is so arrogant given that whatever strength I do have has been given to me by my Heavenly Father.  So, I'm taking some deep breaths, casting all my anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7) and admitting that I CAN NOT DO IT ALL.....but, HE CAN!!!   Whew!!  Thank goodness for that, right?

I'm going to print this little sign and hang it by my computer. You can do the same. I found this darling design at Jones Design Company.  It's a new blog and the author gives a long list on how to better manage time if you're feeling overwhelmed. She has some great tips, but I would add two things: 1. Rely more on Christ than you do on yourself and 2. Pray first!  You'll have to scroll down aways to find the sign, but there are more colors you can chose from and you just have to click on the sign to print it.  Free!  Love it!   

Have a great Friday everyone and I'll be back soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to School

(notice little one's hand on big one's shoulder.....precious.)

My girls started school on Tuesday.  I have to clarify that my oldest is officially in school. She's on the left. The little one is just a poser. She's doing "mommy school" as we call it. I thought she might be a little disappointed not to be in school this year (I really wanted her home with me this one last year), so I told her she was going to "mommy school." This was really just my way of saying, "you're running errands with me until it's time to pick sister up."  Well, seeing that my kids are the best at keeping me honest, it has turned into way more than that.  She decided it was only appropriate to wear sister's old uniform on the days she has mommy school.  I'm all for that; no clothes battle.  Then big sister kept asking if mommy school had play time, reading time, activities, lessons and on and on and on. "Oh yes, of course it does," says mommy (as I'm thinking to myself, "Wow, I've gotta get my game on).  So, off I go to come up with a syllabus for mommy school. 

I must say, at first I was thinking, "can't this mommy get a break and have a little time to get something done for me?"  I'm not going to lie and say that I still don't think that every once in a while.  But, with only two days of mommy school behind us, I cannot tell you how much I value the one on one time I'm getting with my little one. This time is so fleeting (especially with a baby coming), so I have to make the most of it. I know I won't regret it, even if laundry piles up and my house isn't the cleanest on the block. Those things seem so trivial when it come to pouring into the lives of my kiddos.  

I'll post soon about some of the things we're doing in mommy school. The web has so many great resources and it's amazing how many things I've found around the house to aid in learning.  Needless to say, there is never a dull moment around here (even though dull sounds really nice to me sometimes).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall Fun!!!!

(image via

This months feature at the Studio Movie Grill is "Barbie Fashion Fairytale."  It's every Saturday morning in September at 11:00am.  I don't think we'll be seeing this one.  I'm afraid Barbie won't measure up to my admiration of Ms. Shortcake and I don't want to set her up to fail. But if you see it, please send me your review! 

In other "Fall Fun" news, The Great Pumpkin Festival at the Dallas Arboretum begins September 18 and runs through November 14th. There are all kinds of great events, but our favorites are the Mommy and Me Mondays and Tiny Tots Tuesdays. Both days offer face painting, petting zoos, professional pictures and so much more. 

Another great activity that is fast approaching is the Plano Balloon Festival.  It's September 17, 18 and 19 and is sure to delight kids of all ages (I include myself in that category).

Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park was closed in August, but is open again in September. It occupies 13 acres just south of downtown, has a working farm and gardens and gives a live view into Texas history. We're definitely making a trip soon.

And finally, The State Fair is just around the corner. It's Sept. 26 - Oct. 19 and aren't you just dying to know what kind of fried delicacies will be for sale?  

For an even broader list of autumn activities around town, check out these sites:

Now get on out there and enjoy some fall fun (even if it's not quite sweater weather yet)!  

For those of you that are out of state, I'm sorry this post is not applicable. I'll be back tomorrow with one that reaches beyond state lines. 

Proof Reading is not my forte

Okay girls, my sweet (and detail-oriented) husband let me know that I pushed my last post out a little too quickly in regards to spelling and grammar. Eeeek.  But really, this is no surprise to me. I rely waaaaay to heavily on spell-check and I can tend to rush through things (probably one of the reasons I like "quick and easy"). So, I'll try to be a little more diligent to read over things before I post.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Simple {budget friendly} Fall Decorating

Hi Loves!  I hope you are having a great weekend and you get to enjoy a day off with friends or loved ones. These past couple of days have certainly gotten me in the mood for fall. I know it's not necessarily been cool, but it has certainly been cooler and I'll take whatever I can get.  Regardless, I thought I'd kick off this Labor Day by getting us all in the mood for fall and posting some decorating ideas that are simple and easy on the budget too.  Here they are:

1.  Dig out some of your dishes and place pumpkins, berries, acorns, etc. on them. This would be beautiful as a centerpiece, on an entry table or on your mantel.  I remember last year, Walmart had these little pumpkins and gourds in a pretty big bag for about $3.00.

(image unknown)

2.  Here is some good ole decoupage ladies.  I looks like they've simply painted the pumpkin and modge-podged some leaves on it. What a simple and wonderful fall idea. 

(image via Midwest Living)

3. I love this for a porch, an island centerpiece, by the fireplace or even on the kitchen table (if the scale were adjusted). Bring that fern in from outside, grab an orange kalanchoe or any other flowering plant, a couple of pumpkins or gourds and you're set.  Really, I think any plants will do. 

(image via

4. This is one of my favs because the kiddos can help. Grabs some cute $1 craft ribbon from Michaels, Joannes or Walmart and wrap baby pumpkins. Put 'em in a bowl and tada!  Darling, if you ask me. 

(image via Good Housekeeping)

5. I have a couple apothecary jars, but I have even more vases from old flower arrangements. Either will do. Simply fill them with pinecones, cranberries, acorns, nuts, twigs, etc. and put them on your dining room table (or wherever you see fit).  Lots of these things can be found by walking down the street - can't get more budget-friendly than that. 

(image unknown)

6.  Finally, go trim some branches of a near by tree (yes the acorns are lovely, but not necessary), put in a bowl, add some oranges and some water and presto.  If you want to get really crazy, you could even make a pattern on the oranges with whole cloves, but I personally like the simplicity the way it is. 

(image unknown)

There you have it. If anyone has any other cute, easy and inexpensive decorating ideas, please send them my way. I'm always on the hunt for more ideas.  

On a side note - I've made a few laundry room decisions this weekend. Nothing has actually "happened" yet, but my wheels are turning. Thanks to all of you all who have let me know your wheels are turning too and your laundry room is getting an overhaul - or at least a little organization.  It's fun to do these kind of things with people that I hope are reading this friends. 

Happy Labor Day!!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Project Laundry Room

You may or may not have noticed that yesterday I only gave you one photo of my office/laundry room and it was a very close-up of one of my cabinets. I did that on purpose. You see, the cabinets are the most organized part of the entire space. Here is what she really looks like....



Even a self-proclaimed organization lover can't quite get this room in shape. I'm letting you know that this is my next project so that it will indeed be my next project. Since the room is quite visible from the kitchen, I'd really like the big white wall you see to become something pretty and the rest of the room to offer a lot more function.  Here are a few laundry rooms that inspire me.

I love the walls in this room. It's a stencil, not wall-paper. (image via modgirl)

I love the pretty things in this room. (image via flickr)

I love the clean, crisp feel of this room. (image unknown)

And this would just happen to be my dream laundry room. (image via

My goal is to make my room a little more special seeing as a spend half my life a lot of time in there. I've already enlisted hubby to build me a shelf to go above the washer and dryer (poor guy; he's really handy).  But, seeing that he has 20 other things on his honey-do to do list above that one, I'm not sure when it will happen. So, I'm going to move on to investigating what to do with that plain white wall that is so blah and useless.  If anyone else wants to tackle Project Laundry Room with me, I'd love to see/hear some of your ideas and inspirations. Oh yes, there is one more thing. My budget for this project is penny's, so I'm going to have to be quite resourceful. I love a good challenge.  

PS - could this possibly have all started with pretty cleaning supplies?????

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let's get organized!!!!

Okay gang, school has (or has almost) started. If you're not organized now, maybe school will give you a little extra time to get those junk piles all those important papers in their place. I have to admit, I love organization.  That does not mean that I am always organized, but I certainly like to try. Today I'm going to give you a peak into my laundry room that houses all my junk office and toy room closets. I only do this because I think I've found a system that works, even with little mess makers children sharing my space.

I just have three tips:

1. Binders
2. Boxes
3. Labels

The picture above is a toy room closet. I keep all small toys/beads/markers/etc. in their own boxes. This give me (and the girls) no excuse by to put things back where they belong. I got the boxes at Walmart and they were anywhere from $1-$3 depending on the size. I made the labels in Word and just attached them with double stick tape. Here are a couple more pics....


Now on to my office. Here is one of my cabinets:


This was a suggestion from a class I took a couple of Summers ago by a lady named Dottie Jones. Again, there is a place to put everything, so I don't have piles (not gonna lie - still have some piles) all over the place.  Again, I made the labels in word and just slid them in the sleeve of the binder. 

So, those are my three tips: Binders, Boxes and Labels. I promise, they'll make your world feel a whole lot better.  Here's to happy organizing!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I love letters. I love receiving letters in the mail. I love writing letters. However, I'm not talking about those kind of letters. Nor am I talking about learning letters.  My daughter has been learning the first ten million 26 phonograms in school and we spent a lot of time practicing this Summer. So trust me, I'm really not talking about those kind of letters either.  Here are the kind of letters I love......

How great are these? I wish I could tell you I designed them and you would ooh and awe over greatly appreciate my incredible talent. But that would not be true.  However, I did find a website that provides all of these letters for free.  Yes, free.  What does that mean to us, you ask. How about this:

1. Adorable place cards for a dinner party.
2. Cute personalized luggage tags for all your kiddos bags.  
3. Darling gift labels.
4. Homemade return address labels for someone who has just moved.
5. Homemade stationery to write all those letters you're going to write me since you now know how much I love letters.

Those are my five ideas. If you have any others, do share.  I guess it would help if I told you how to access the letters, huh?  Here you go....Daily Drop Cap Letters.  You'll be able to scroll through pages of pages of unique letters. You can download them or I just drag them to my desktop, open a word document, drag them to that document and begin one of the items I listed above.  Have fun!