Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2011...


It's always amusing to look back on a year and remember some of the posts that made an itty-bitty dent in the blogging world. Here are my Top 5 Posts of 2011 -- determined by the number of pageviews per posts. I'm looking forward to another year filled with creating, sharing and being inspired!

 5th most viewed post in 2011


#4
The availability of my Manfred Tooth Pillow Pattern...


#3 most viewed 2011 post
The introduction of the Chick-sicle Cooling Pad with Pattern...


second favorite in 2011
My Bunting Cosmetic Bag with Pattern & Directions...


And finally the Numero Uno most viewed post on my blog in 2011
{with over 40,000 page views}
My "Love Bird" Rice Filled Heating Pads Pattern & Tutorial...


Thank you so much for your kind, constructive, and encouraging comments this year.
They are so appreciated!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best Peanut Brittle...


I dreamt of a white Christmas last night, and this morning my dream came true. Colorado is gorgeous today. More than a foot of snow fell last night, and it truly is a winter-wonderland outside. It's a perfect day to hibernate inside and make some candy...


Last year I tried my hand at Peanut Brittle. I'd never had much luck with candy-making before but for some reason my ability increased dramatically last year, and I became the Peanut Brittle Queen. {Probably due to this easy recipe I found!} Yesterday I chose a different twist and "frosted" the peanut brittle with chocolate and chopped peanuts. It's good. Very good.


 This particular recipe is light and airy. 
{Easy on the choppers!}


I don't know if you're snow-bound in your neck of the woods, 
but here's the recipe just in case...

Best Peanut Brittle

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Tip: You can also make 1/2 recipe with great results.

Ingredients:
2 cup white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 cup peanuts
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoon baking soda
{candy thermometer} 

Optional:
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts


Directions:
1. Grease a large cookie sheet (with sides) and set aside.
2. In a heavy 2 or 3 quart saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved and add peanuts. Set candy thermometer in place and continue cooking. Stir frequently until temperature reaches 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). 
3. Remove from heat; immediately stir in butter and baking soda; pour at once onto cookie sheet. Push peanut mixture into the rectangle about 14x12 inches.
4. {Optional "Frosting"} Immediately pour bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips over hot  peanut brittle. Wait several minutes until the chips have melted and are spreadable. Spread chocolate over the top of the brittle and top with chopped peanuts.


Have a wonderful day! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rocky Road Fudge


Rocky Road is a favorite this time of year and if your still in the mood for sweets, this is a fabulous recipe that you can whip up in no time. It has all the good things that a traditional Rocky Road recipe has -- chocolate, nuts and marshmallows -- but it also has a creamy texture reminiscent of fudge.


Rocky Road Fudge

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips {l bag}
1 - 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Spray an 8x8 inch glass or metal pan with Pam. {I also put some wax paper on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.} Melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in the microwave, stirring until smooth {about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on high}. Stir in vanilla extract, then fold in marshmallows and walnuts.


Last year I posted an even easier Rocky Road recipe that is delicious too. Both are wonderful, but of the two this creamy version is my favorite!


Pour into your prepared 8x8 baking dish. Push Rocky Road mixture into the corners of the dish, then place it in your refrigerator to cool and harden.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bloomin' Tuesday...

The other day I heard a knock on the door. It was my pint-sized next-door-neighbor selling flowers for a school fundraiser. I ordered a variety of flora from my little friend and waited for delivery. Last week among other flowery offerings two boxes of Paperwhite Narcissus were delivered.


The bulbs came with two uninspiring plastic containers to plant them in, so I decided to divide the bulbs up and put them in a four different little containers.They started sprouting immediately...


I'm hopeful in about 4 weeks we'll have a houseful of beautiful, sweetly fragrant narcissus scattered around our home...


Bloomin' Tuesday posts are few and far between in the dead of winter. I have to admit, I'm loving having something alive and blooming in our home!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stenciled Walls ::: Yum!


Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, and stenciled walls are a few of my favorite things. At the moment "stenciled walls" tops the list. A couple of weeks ago I offered you a sneak peak of the wall I was stenciling in my bedroom.


I am so excited to introduce you to a fabulous company that specializes in gorgeous stencils -- Cutting Edge Stencils. They have a broad selection of luscious stencils from geometrics to florals to murals to damasks to nursery patterns and more. The stencil I used on my walls is called "Brocade No. 1", and it is definitely #1 in my book! Here is the wall shortly after I finished stenciling...


I decided to use this beautiful chunky damask stencil on a feature wall in my bedroom. The day after I stenciled the wall my contractor came rushing into the room as he readied himself to continue work on the remodeling in the master bath. He didn't know I had stenciled the wall the day before. He took one look at the wall, stopped in his tracks, and his jaw dropped! The wall has the same effect on me. I absolutely love it...


What's more -- my husband loves it. 
That makes me feel really good.

When I decided to stencil my wall, I had a particular look in mind. I wanted the design to be soft and calming, so I chose a paint color just a shade lighter than the wall color for the stencil. Then I chose the stencil...


I love the chunkiness of this particular damask pattern. It's traditional and sophisticated, with a trendy flair. I chose to have the design float -- like bubbles on the wall -- rather than have it spaced out evenly. That's the whimsical in me.


As much as I love the current trend of vinyl stickers {I have a couple on the walls in my home}, they are very one dimensional in nature. With a stencil you can create more of a two dimension feature by making the paint lighter in some areas and darker in others. I love the imperfect nature of a stencil. I like the soft edges and textured feel of the paint on the wall. That's something you just can't get with a vinyl wall decal.


If you've never stenciled and are intimidated by the process, don't be. It's easy to do and just takes a little practice. The best tip I can give is -- don't use too much paint on your roller or sponge! Dip your foam roller, stencil brush or sponge in the paint and then dab the paint off on a paper towel or paper plate until it is almost dry. With just a little paint on your applicator you're ready to stencil! Because I have textured walls, I used a small piece of a sponge instead of a foam roller or stencil brush to stencil the pattern onto my wall. I find that by using a sponge I can control the amount of paint I use more easily. You can always add more paint if you want it darker. Cutting Edge Stencil has this video to illustrate the process...


We've made a lot of wonderful improvements in our Master bed and bath the last couple of months, but my stenciled wall is one of my favorite changes! I would definitely recommend the stencils at Cutting Edge Stencil if you are looking for a quality product and an economical way to make an beautiful change.



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Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Accent Pillow from a Placemat...

This isn't the first time I've repurposed a placemat to make an accent pillow, but it's a technique that bears repeating. It's a quick, economical way to make a holiday pillow. Also, there's no skill set for putting together one of these beauties! Anyone can make one because there's no sewing machine required.


Here are the specifics:
Placemat found @ Target, $3.99
Poly-Fil Fiber @ Hobby Lobby or Walmart, $2
Needle & Thread (sewing machine optional)

Start by purchasing a placemat, some poly-fil fiber "stuffing", and putting aside 15 minutes -- or less. I purchased this holiday placemat at Target. Make sure your placemat is lined on the back. In other words there needs to be two pieces of fabric sewn together -- the front piece of the placemat and a back lining.

Use a seam ripper or sharp pair of scissors and open a hole in the bottom seam of the placemat that is large enough to fit your hand through.


Then stuff the inside of the placemat with the Poly-Fil until it's nice and full. I use one 12 oz. package of stuffing.


Sew the seam back together with your sewing machine or by hand using a blind stitch.
 

The whole process takes the better part of 10 minutes. Truly.


I've given placemat pillows to friends for Christmas and have several around my home as well. They are so economical and easy to make and they create a fun splash of holiday cheer in any room!

Linked to:
Show Off Your Stuff @ Fireflies & Jellybeans
DIY Under $5 @ A Little Tipsy
The Inspiration Board @ Homework
Show Me What You Got @ Not Just a Housewife 
Handmade Tuesday @ Ladybug Blessings
Made by You Monday @ Skip to my Lou


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Rub-a-Dub-Dub...


It's time for a scrub!

I've been wanting to make a homemade organic facial scrub for some time now. Yesterday I was inspired by a friend of mine who posted a few recipes (post #1; post #2). Store-bought scrubs, even those packaged as “all natural” or for sensitive skin, can be harsh and irritating. These home-made sugar scrubs are less course than most store-bought exfoliants, so they tend to be less abrasive on your skin. Whether you’re looking for a way to banish dull skin without spending hundreds on salon treatments, or just want an “all-natural facial scrub” that really is natural, these homemade skin exfoliants might be just what you need. I was excited to make some of these for gifts for friends for Christmas. This would also be a fun and easy project to make with children for their mother, grandmother, teachers, etc.!


I started by purchasing a few basic items, like these jars. They hold about 8 oz., which is a generous amount for a scrub. 


I bought them at Hobby Lobby {50% off this week} for $1 each. Do I hear a "way to go"? I also bought a little condiment spoon to go with each jar for about $1. You can purchase these spoons online or at most kitchen stores. {Look here or here.} I bought mine at Ace Hardware -- go figure.


Sunflower oil is another ingredient you'll need on hand. It's less fragrant and heavy than many other oils, which makes it perfect for scrubs. I also bought some essentials oils and made sure I had some vanilla and almond extract on hand. The essentials oils can be purchased at health food stores. They are $3 to $7 depending on the oil you purchase. You only use about 20 drops per batch, so they'll be around for a good long time!


I made three different recipes using a variety of flavors and oils. 
Here are the recipes I came up with...


::: Peppermint Sugar Scrub :::


Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 cup sunflower oil
 {If more sunflower oil is needed add a tiny bit at a time until satisfied with consistency.}
about 21 drops of peppermint essential oil
Mix ingredients together.
Done!


::: Brown Sugar & Almond Facial Scrub :::


Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup sunflower oil {add more if necessary}
Mix together.
Done!


::: Orange Peppermint Facial Scrub :::


Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup salt
1 cup sunflower oil
about 21 drops orange essential oil
about 4 drops peppermint essential oil
Mix together.
Done!

This gift is obviously inexpensive which is easy on the budget, but -- more important -- I think it is a sweet, personal gift that others will enjoy!


Link Parties:
Handmade Tuesday @ Ladybug Blessings
Made by You Monday @ Skip to my Lou
Sister Sunday Link Party @ Sisters of the Wild West
Friday Fun Finds @ kojo designs
Friday Favs @ Naptime Crafters
Free for All Friday @ Sassy Sites
Frugalicious Friday @ Finding Fabulous
Hookin' Up with HOH

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