Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

It has been a mad house around here!  There are too many wonderful things happening, and absolutely no time to blog about them.  This year the boys and I are doing an "Advent: Preparing for Christmas" project.  1 envelope every day that has us do one activity to get ready for Christmas.  So far we have made paper snowflakes to hang on the windows, danced to Christmas songs, decorated the Christmas tree, and set up the Nativity (just to name a few).  We are also opening one new book each night to read together.  I admit, not all the books are Christmas themed (it was harder than I thought to find 25 children's Christmas books considering that we already own a bunch).

So with all this family Christmas stuff, I needed to do something for me.  I decided to participate in Scrapbook Challenges 12 Days of Christmas Progressive Challenges.  Each day a new step in the progressive layout is posted.  Tomorrow is the last day, but here is what I have so far:
I encourage you to swing by the site and try it for yourself!

Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fabric Evergreen

It has been a while since I've posted a tutorial, and what better time than now? We are all getting crafty for the holidays! This is one of my favorite homemade craft decorations that stays up long after Christmas has passed; I consider it a Winter decoration, not a holiday decoration.

The Fabric Evergreen

and the best part is that it requires absolutely NO SEWING!

1. choose your fabric (amount depends on the end size, but a fat quarter should be more than enough)
2. choose your styrofoam cone (any size you like)
3. grab a box of dress pins (also called straight pins; the small silver ones with a flat top)
4. cut a strip of fabric, to wrap around the base of the cone, about 2 inches wide
5. pin the fabric strip into place from the bottom of the cone (leave the sides un-pinned for now)
6. cut the rest of your material into 2x2 inch squares & pin one over the tip of the cone
7. next, fold a square of material in half and then in half again, so you are left with a 1x1 inch square (or diamond)
8. turn your cone upside-down and place the tip of the folded diamond corner over the fabric strip, just touching the bottom edge of the cone
9. pin the right corner of the diamond to the cone (pin should also hold the strip to the side of the cone)
10. repeat with the next square of material, overlapping the folded diamond side corners
11. once the row is complete, start the next row by off-setting the diamond point
12. continue until you reach the top of the cone

I hope these instruction made sense... I forgot to take photos as I worked.  I will be making more of these Fabric Evergreens in various sizes, so I will add additional photos later.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Robot Birthday Party

I've posted before with various snippets of info regarding the now infamous bRobot birthday party... and here is my final installment (I probably could do more since I haven't even touched on the invites we made, but I think this should wrap things up nicely).

1. We started the party off with a Robot Dance contest.  I am thankful for all the kid-friendly robot songs on YouTube (no time to download and create my own playlist). 
2. We re-booted with robot fuel (bottled water with mailing labels stuck on over the store label), then munched on Computer Chips (dried apple chips) and Nuts & Bolts (snack mix).  I filled two old coffee cans with the munchies to give them a more "robot" look.
3. Next we all got to assemble our own robots.  I cut robot layers using my Cricut cartridge in a variety of colors.  The mini-bots chose their color, glued the pieces, attached the googly eyes, and then drew in other details.  These robots were attached to the outside of the brown paper bags we used for goodies.
4. Lastly, each friend was given a robot sugar cookie to eat while the birthday boy opened presents.  I opted for cookies since they do not need to be sliced and do not require plates or forks to eat them (and the crumbs vacuum up better than mushy cake crumbs).

The party was a big hit! and I was exhausted...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Little Pumpkins

Here is another wonderful activity that I did (instead of blogging):  the pumpkin patch fieldtrip with my two youngest.  We had a great time choosing our pumpkins right off the vine!  It was a little muddy, and I forgot the rain boots, but it was a gorgeous day to wander through the gords.

Next year, I promised to take my oldest along... he misses picking out his own pumpkin every October.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Face Lift

Let's be honest, the newest house we bought was (and still is) in need of major curb appeal.  But I have to say that we made huge improvements this summer!

The work was completed too late for us to do any fall planting, but I'll post an update once Spring arrives. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Mystery

Where have I been lately?

I have been struggling to get into the new school year rhythm!  But now that birthdays are Halloween are over, I can finally breathe.  And maybe even blog a little too...

Here are a couple snapshots of the costumes I made my little guys for Halloween.  We were going for a Ben 10 theme (check out Cartoon Network for a variety of the Ben 10 incarnations).

Kevin 11

Four Arms (one of the original 10 aliens)

And Ben Tennison, himself

Don't they make a good looking bunch of aliens?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

BRO-bots - the cake

The birthday season is finally coming to an end around here.  Luckily I have three boys who have (so far) been able to agree on a birthday theme.  This year was Robots - and I have dubbed them the Bro-bots.  I did an early post on the cake design that my oldest came up with and the drawing I made as a compromise to his design.  Well here is the final product in all its glory!

And the BRO-bots (notice the robot t-shirts they are wearing)

The details:
3 cake mixes were needed for the 3 8x8 square cake layers & 1 dome cake with inner layer
3 jars of frosting (in between layers & dome, crumb coat, and final gray layer)
1 jar of silver sugar sprinkles
2 red white & blue oreos for the robot eyes
1 mini twizzler for the robot mouth
dryer vent cut for robot arms
number candles with the boys' ages as the robot buttons

Now this was just the combo party for the family - they'll be another post after the friend party this coming weekend!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Great Playset Assembly Project

It has been a long process of finding, buying, and now assembling a new playset for the boys... a very long process.  And although the set is not completed, I wanted to document the labor of love. 

Grandpa drove his tractor all the way from his house (it only took an hour) in order to dig up and level the play zone for the new set.

Day 3: the framework for the set is up.

Day 4: Dad builds the framework for the upper clubhouse (and notice that the upper deck flooring is in place, too).  And I even helped get the framework up to the top - without falling off the ladder!

Day 5: Floors are in and rails are up.  I do love how Dad got himself a chair while screwing in the pickets.

Day 6: The new playset flipped three times during the storm.  This was Dad's reward for the 8 hours he spent working on the set on Day 5.

Now don't worry! The set survived the flipping.  There were only two small boards that were split.  I do have to say that I chose a good playset to buy - very sturdy.  It may just be able to stand up to three little boys! 

There has been more work done, but I will wait and post the rest once it is actually complete.  We are currently on Day 11 of The Great Playset Assembly Project

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Matching Mickey Shirts

I was flipping through some family vacation photos from last year and I was gushing over how cute my boys are when they are dressed alike! 

Then I realized that I started my blog after I had created these matching Mickey Mouse shirts for our trip to Disney.  And I do have to share because they were incredibly easy to make. 

1. Buy a solid color t-shirt (or as many as you need).
2. Buy t-shirt paint in colors of your choice (I went with red and black - traditional Mickey colors).  Make sure you get opaque colors because the irridecent doesn't show as nicely.
3. Use one cupcake liner and two mini-cupcake liners to make your Mickey Mouse template.  Place your template on your first shirt.
4. Squeeze your base color t-shirt paint in a thin line all the way around the template.  Remove the template and use a dry flat paint brush (mine was about 1/2 an inch wide) to fan the paint outward.
5. Once the first color is dry, repeat with additional accent colors.

It is incredibly difficult for me to find matching shirts in all 3 of my boys' sizes - making t-shirts is always an easy and inexpensive way for me to get those cute pics!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Birthday Bot Cake

Here is another sneak peak into the big BroBot Birthday party planning!

The boys and I recently had a big discussion as to what their birthday cake should look like for their Robot Party.  Here is what my oldest thought it should be:

I, of course, had other ideas.  Notice the feet, the present eyes, and the candles on his shoulders? I especially like the extra long arms.  Although the creativity is off the charts, the cake couldn't practically be made this way and expected to stay upright.  Not to mention, it looked a tiny bit scary in my opinion.  So we did a little debating and ended up compromising on this:

You'll have to check back at the end of September to see what it actually ends up looking like!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies!

I am completely in love with cupcake cookies!  I haven't made these for years, and I really can't remember why.  These will definitely be going to school with my boys on their birthdays this year. 

I recently re-discovered these delicious bits of yumminess when I was searching for a birthday treat that could withstand the heat of summer.  Cupcakes tend to melt on me.  My first batch was Funfetti Cupcake Cookies.  Those went over so well, that I grabbed another box of cake mix from the pantry to make Strawberry Shortcake Cookies!

Aren't they cute!  They hold their shape while they bake - I may try shapes with the next batch.

And what cake would be complete without icing???

And without further ado, here is the recipe:
1 box of your favorite cake mix - any flavor, any brand
2 cups of softened butter
2 3/4 cups of flour
mix until completely blended, scoop onto baking sheet, bake 10-12minutes at 350 degrees 
Warning: one box of cake mix will make about 6 dozen cookies (and you will eat about half of them before they are done cooling)!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Reading

Did you know I have a small obession with books? And did you know that it is a trait I have passed onto my children?

That is one of the main reasons I started selling Usborne Books... my boys (all three) are in love with the books!  It is amazing how much they read now that they have found books that spark interest inside of them. 

Go ahead and check out all the fantastic books on my Usborne Books & More website - there is even a pdf version of the newest catalog!

Are you interested in what I do at Usborne Books & More ...or just curious and want to be nosy? Listen to this 30 minute recorded call that explains it all - NO ONE (not even I) will ever know you listened, so go ahead and be nosy :)

Call: 712-432-6190
Access Code: 66317#
Recording Number: 77#

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Today is the day!  I am the July Featured Member at Scrapbook Challenges!!! 
Head on over to their blog to read a little bit about me and see some of my favorite layouts : )

and remember... I will get to post a challenge on their boards later this month!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July Featured Member

I am sooooo pleased to announce that I have been chosen as Scrapbook Challenges July Featured Member!!!

I love this online scrapbooking group! There are tons of great sketches and challenges to inspire me and get my craft in gear  ; ) 

As the Featured Member I also get to give a challenge of my own this month... check back later to find out what it is!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Flag Waiving

I finally uploaded pictures from my phone of my "first official act" as a resident of Findlay, Ohio.  Findlay celebrated its Bicentennial early in June.  There was a parade with floats and marching bands.  And there were flags waiving all over the place.  Did you know that Findlay, Ohio is Flag City USA?

Here is the digital scrapbook layout I created from my phone pics - my son even took the one with me in it!

I used Sketch 301 from Scrapbook Challenges as a starting point - those ladies are full of fantastic ideas.  With all the holiday activities going on in the States this week, I'm sure you all have your own red-white-and-blue photos to comemorate.  I'd love for you to post a link to your creations!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

My New Summer Project

Two June's ago, my home was damaged by a tornado.  Last June I was packing & selling a house.  I thought for sure this was my year to finally have a real summer vacation with my boys.  Sadly, I was mistaken. 

Here is my new summer project for this year:
 Yep - it rained inside my house.  And we lost a bunch of roof shingles.  Gotta love 80 mile-per-hour winds.  At least it wasn't another tornado, but I still get to deal with the insurance company again.

What are you doing this summer?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ride the Birthday Train!

I love giving personalized gifts!  Earlier this week I posted about personalized wedding gifts that I have created recently.  This post is about a very special birthday boy, my nephew!  He has a slight obsession with trains, so every gift I give him has at least one train item.  This year I created a 8x10 digital photo layout - a birthday train with pics of the birthday boy from birth to now.  Take a look!

To create this layout, I drew inspiration from Scrapbook Challenges 300th sketch.  Take a look at their site for tons more inspiration, both digital and traditional.  I also made us of a fabulous digital element - the Little Steam Engine cluster frame by Jady Day Studios. There is also a kit that goes along with this fantastic frame - stop by and see what else she has created!

I hope I've inspired you to give something "handmade".

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pagemaps Blog Challenge

I completely credit Pagemaps for the way I scrapbook today.  By looking at the sketches and seeing the examples, I was able to train my mind to see layout possibilities everywhere I look.  I seldom find a sketch that I love so much to duplicate (and that fits photos I am scrapping), but this is one of those rare moments.

Here is my layout for the Pagemaps Blog Challenge this month:

and the pagemap provided:

I am in love with the way it turned out - and that is what matters in scrappin' : )

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Do... Say Yes to Personalized Wedding Gifts

Since it is June and Wedding Season is in full-force, I thought I'd post a couple of the wedding gifts that I have made for recent events. 

This first gift is my Go-To wedding gift.  I always frame the wedding invite for a personal touch.  I try to take the couples decorating tastes and the wedding colors into consideration when choosing the mat and frame.

The next gift was a special one - my cousin was married and couldn't afford a photographer so the family stepped in.  My talented Brother-in-law utilized his photography obsession to take a million fantastic photographs of the ceremony and reception.  Then I sorted through all of those beautiful pics to put together a one-of-a-kind digital wedding album.  Of course I made sure to include the wedding color in the album, too.

I hope this inspires you to make and/or give a personalized wedding gift!  These ideas can also be applied to graduations and other milestone events (baby showers, birthdays, etc).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dad's Little Firecrackers

Father's Day is this coming weekend, and we actually finished our Father's Day gift on time!!! I think this may be a first. 

I admit that I stole this idea from Old Navy - they had cute toddler tanks that said "Dad's Li'l Firecracker" on them. The problem was that they didn't go big enough for my oldest son to have one, and there was no tanks in his size that were similar in theme.  And then I started thinking about how cute it would be if the exploding firecracker was their handprints.  And then I thought about how cute it would be to make Daddy a tank top that matched with all of their handprint firecrackers on it.  So after some searching, I was able to find plain tank tops in all the right sizes... and here is how the craft came out.

Perfect for Father's Day and for Forth of July festivities too!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

it's been a while...

We are moved into the new house but still crawling over boxes!  I have been working my fingers to the bone with home projects in order to make this place "ours".  In a week I should have plenty of before and after photos to share (including a kitchen transformation that I can't wait to complete)!

I still  haven't found the box of craft stuff for the kids.  that means that summer has involved a lot of TV and Wii so far.  I'm not really proud of that, but it does distract them so I can unpack.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Robotz on the Brain

I know it may seem a little strange, but I have been collecting ideas and items for our annual birthday party already.  For those of you who don't know, all three of my boys' birthdays fall within 2 weeks (late Sept / early Oct) so we always have one big party.  One party means one theme.  And I always let them choose the theme... as long as they choose before summer hits. 

A big party for three little boys, family, and friends takes a lot of planning.  So I like to break it up over about 6 months.  I know, CRAZY!  Pinterest has definitely made the "idea development" part of the planning more streamlined, but I still like to wander the stores and websites periodically to find those clearance steals that you cannot plan for.  Just because I have one party for 3 boys does not mean my budget is 3 times bigger.

This year's theme is ROBOTZ - but not OUTERSPACE.  Do you know how difficult it is to find robot items that do not also include spaceships?  Who decided that all robots come from outerspace?

So here is what my frugal shopping has achieved thus far:
1.  Robot Valentines (which will become invitations) 32 for $1
2.  Robot Coloring Books (full size) 15 for $3
3.  Robot Pencils and Pencil Cases 16 for under $8
4.  Robot Finger Puppets 16 for $2
5.  Stretchy Robots 16 for $2
6.  Robot Notebooks (5x7) 15 for $6
7.  I will obviously be buying some sort of robot candy (I like the options that Oriental Trading Co has) and that will complete my goodie bag items.  I am still looking for a "deal" on this item.

I am a huge fan of letting the kids pack their own goodie bags.  Three years ago we did this for our Pirate Party.  I gave each child a pirate map and sent them on a scavenger hunt around the yard to find their pirate booty.  It was a fun activity for the kids and it was one less thing I had to do to prep for the big day.  I am still working out my Robot-theme scavenger hunt, but it is definitely going to happen.

I am sure I will be posting more about this throughout the coming months, so check back often!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

May Day has come awfully fast this year!  The first of May signifies a lot of different things for different people (as I have learned by reading many blogs and Facebook posts today).  For me, it signifies that the end of school is near.  Summer is a fun time for me and my boys because they get to spend most of their days outdoors.  But the allure of your own backyard only lasts a day or two, and then the whining and fighting begins. 

So to keep my 3 little ones busy, I always plan out one activity per day of the summer.  And I find it very helpful to stick with a daily theme.  Here is what I have in store for this summer:

Sundays: Family Game Night - most of the day is taken up with church, so game night is a nice way to wind down the weekend.  It is a huge bonus that my boys LOVE boardgames - this can be done in any weather!

Mondays: "Drive-in" Day - I plan to have each of my boys design their own "car" out of cardboard boxes (thank you Pinterest for the idea).  We will take turns choosing a movie to watch from our "cars" while eating a fun movie meal (hot dogs and popcorn?).  Everyone will get one movie choice each month (the 3 boys and myself).

Tuesdays: "Make-Your Own" Day - some weeks this will be a craft, other weeks it will be a meal or dessert.  I figure it is a good way for me to get the boys into cooking and trying new foods.

Wednesdays: "Be Our Guest" Night - each family member will have one night where they are the special guest for dinner.  The special guest will get to choose the menu, the theme, and the attire for dinner.  And best of all, everyone else will have to wait on the special guest!  I can't wait for it to be my turn!!!

Thursdays: Library Day - our local library does summer story time on Thursday mornings, so we will be making our weekly trip to join in.  Afterwards, the boys will each get to pick out 2 books for the week.

Friday: "Outside Activity" Day - this will be the day where we do something organized outdoors like a scavenger hunt, chalk mural, picnic in the park, or backyard obstacle course!  I might even use library day to plan ideas for this day...

Saturday: Day with Dad - Dad works during the week, so I'll let him entertain the boys on the weekend.  I'm sure they'll do fun things like wash the car, weed the lawn, and maybe even play catch : )

I hope you have fun plans for the coming months - time sure does fly by!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

he likes it; he really likes it!

I haven't been blogging much because we are in the process of moving.  Reading contracts has become a daily activity of mine (one I am not all that fond of) and has taken the place of other pursuits. 

Fortunately, this process has led me to a wonderful discovery! 

"Spallburgers" - don't blame me for the name, my 7 year old named them.
Spallburgers are meatball & spaghetti sauce sandwiches served on mini hamburger (slider) buns, complete with shredded mozzerella cheese.  I have been trying to come up with meals that use the frozen items we have accumulated (since I really do not want to move frozen food across states).  While searching through the freezer tonight, I found a bag of my mom's "famous" meatballs (famous to my children) and I immediately thought "Not spaghetti again!"  Then my eye caught the frozen slider buns and a lightbulb went off.  I love meatball sandwiches and the boys love anything mini - it was worth a try.

And it was definitely worth it.  All three of my boys gobbled them down!  So fast, in fact, that I didn't even get a chance to take a pic to include here.  Spallburgers are definitely going on the rotation of "leftover meals".

Friday, April 20, 2012

Birthday Postcard

I have been slacking in the blog department.  I actually have been slacking in the entire crafting world.  I guess that is what the stress of selling and buying houses can do to a person.  But I did manage to do a little something today.

My mother-in-law's birthday is next week and we are seeing her this weekend, so I asked the boys what they would like to give her.  My seven year old replied that he thought a bottle of wine would be nice - I didn't think that was such a good idea.  So they came up with the idea to give her a coupon to redeem - something that they could all enjoy doing together.  And this is what I created:

I cannot take credit for doing anything but putting the pieces together.  I found the word art on Pinterest (but the link to the original site was not working, so I cannot give proper credit).  And the ribbons and background paper are freebies from Amy Teets.

I printed it on cardstock and gave it to the boys to personalize on the back.  Hopefully she likes what they came up with!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Activities

I absolutely love the Easter season.  Mostly because it is all about new life.  I love the flowers starting to bloom, I love the warmer temps, I love the bright springy colors, and I love the joy that envelopes everyone.

But I do not love the dreaded week of Spring Break.  Especially if it happens to be a rainy week and I have 3 little boys just itching to go out and jump in muddy puddles!  So I always try to have a back-up plan.  This year I have prepared myself with Usborne's book "50 Easter Things to Make and Do".  You can check it out here

One of the first activities we will be doing is a Bunny Box. 

We always leave goodies out for Santa, why not the Easter Bunny?  I'm still working out what to leave for the Easter Bunny... I'm thinking that chocolate covered strawberries disguised as carrots would be a good choice (a Pinterest idea, of course)!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Challenge Yourself

I think that should be my motto this year, if I was into that sort of thing. 
Here is a summary of what I have challenged myself with so far:

1. start and keep up a blog (as you can see, I am fairly successful at that so far)

2. create more projects using material (my stuffies have been my main fabric project - see my 1st one here)

3. start digital scrapbooking (I have been on a roll with digital layouts recently)

4. enter more scrapbooking challenges from multiple sites: here are two challenges I have completed this week
and the sketch from Twisted Sketches

 and the sketch from Scrapbook Challenges

Oh yeah, and I also am being "challenged" by having to move again in 7 months!!! Keeping a house clean with 3 little boys is the biggest challenge of all!

What are some of your challenges this year?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's a Digital World

I find myself singing "livin in a digital world, and I am a digital girl" to the tune of Madonna's "Material Girl". 

Why? So glad you asked.  It is mainly because I have finally thrown myself into digital scrapbooking.  And I actually kinda like it.  Now it will never replace my paper scrapbooks - those are a completely different way for me to record different memories.  I find that the digital pages allow me to capture the tiny not-so-significant moments that my larger scrapbooks miss.  And I don't ever plan on turning them into physical book either.  They are purely a creative outlet for me. 

Here are a few of the pages I have done so far:

All of these digital elements were free!  I want to give credit to all of the wonderful designers and send them a big thank you for sharing their work - it is very generous of them.  Swing by and check out their work!
Sahlin Studios
Britt-ish Designs
Shabby Princess

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Boy and his Monster

You don't see very many stuffed monsters for sale in the toy stores.  They tend to come as hard plastic action figures.  But every little boy deserves his own monster that he can cuddle up with at night or during a scary movie.  I posted earlier with a picture of the monster my own son designed, that I promptly made into a stuffie. 
Well here is another monster created by another little boy!

and the drawing it was created from

I have to say that I wish I had more hours in the day to work on these.  I really do love the way that they come out.  And I love the way they make all these little boys light up with joy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Projects

With the nice weather comes home improvement projects.  And the best ones are the ones that can be completed in one weekend! 

Here is the project that we tackled this weekend (it only took us 7 months to get around to doing it!).
A nice new laundry / mud room floor!