Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Painted Christmas Project

I found this adorable sign at Deseret Book that matched my Christmas decor PERFECTLY.

 However, I am too cheap to spend 30 dollars on myself at this gift giving time of year.
So, to put my {wanter} to rest, I made my own version using acrylic paint {it dries faster} and some canvas that I had laying around the house. I also used my cricut to cut out my letters.
This is the end result:

I decided that I wanted it to show more green color since I have a lot of red in other decor already. 
I took a paintbrush and started smearing the paint around. No perfection here! and when I had the border about straight I let it dry for about an hour...just to be sure it wasn't going to smear.
then {using the lid off a condiment in the fridge} I dipped the lid in the paint and used it like a stamp to get the circles in the border....then let it dry again.
I cut the saying out of paper with my cricut and mod podged it on.
It took me 30 minutes of painting and a couple hours of dry time. 
Easy homemade decor that didnt cost me a dime:]

I linked to these parties:

Visit thecsiproject.com

The Girl Creative

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gearing up for Christmas Gift Giving

Several years ago my daughter had a list of 12 girlfriends she wanted to give gifts to for Chirstmas. We threw together some felt mittens and filled them with lip gloss, a giant, hollow crayon filled with Nerds, a candycane and some other trinket I was able to get in bulk, but for the life of me, can remember what it was - just remember there were 4 things in them.

Anyway... last year I had the opportunity to make mittens for the children at church. I adorned these as you can see from the picture and in them was a picture of Jesus Christ, a short story about Christmas and a candy cane. The mitten itself also acts as an ornament for the Christmas tree.
If you have several children to buy small gifts for, this is a great way to spread a few dollars and be able to give to a large group. I used an actual mitten and traced it and then tweaked it to get the shape I liked. You can either sew or hot glue the two sides together. As you can see, some have cut outs on them and are adorned with buttons or just simple chenille rick rack. They can be as simple or elaborate depending on the time you have to put them together. Make sure to make a loop of ribbon or yarn so they can hang from the tree.

Some suggestions of other things to fill with:
toy cars
8 pack of crayons
new pencils
Christmas/ Friendship bracelet or ring
candy, any kind of course
toothbrush and paste
picture of self or one with the friend who is receiving the mitten
key chain
mini notepads etc.
Pretzel rods dipped in choc. sprinkled with sugar crystals
and wrapped in cellophane.
You get the idea.

My daughter was 12 when we made them for friends and they were a big hit! She really got into making them along side of me and we had a great time decorating them.

Happy Christmas Crafting

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I'm So Grateful!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude for living in the time that I do. I'm so thankful to live in a time and place where I can have the following blessings.

Vaccines and Antibiotics

If you've ever done any family history or genealogy research, it is clear that until 2-3 generations ago, nearly every family buried at least one child - most before their first birthday. (My grandmother gave birth to 9 children between 1923 and 1941 and only 7 survived infancy.) Infectious disease was a major threat, and there was very little that a mother or father could do to protect their children. We didn't completely understand how diseases were spread, and there were no effective treatments once someone became ill. When the first antibiotics were discovered and put into use in the 1930s and 1940s, it was nothing short of a miracle.

 I have two daughters (the two on the right, actually) who I am certain would not have survived infancy without life saving antibiotics. I'm so grateful I was spared the heartache our grandmothers suffered over and over before these wonder drugs came into use!

In 1950 in the United States, there were 4238 deaths due to Vaccine Preventable Diseases (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio and Measles). Prior to the advent of these life saving vaccines in the late 1950's, every parent dreaded these horrible diseases.

In 1981, when I gave birth to my first child, there were 40 recorded deaths due to these five diseases. In 2006, when my first grandchild was born, there were zero VPD reported deaths in the US.

I know that many people are confused about vaccines. Especially today, with so many new vaccines for diseases that most people have ever worried about (Chicken Pox? Really??) or even heard of (HPV). But in my mind, the early vaccines are blessings from heaven.

Women's Rights and Opportunities

In 1969, my parents were divorced, and my mother spent the next 10 years as a single parent... except, no one had really heard that term at that time. She was a "divorcee" and there was nothing noble or admired about a woman without a husband in those days. Going through her things once, I found a letter from a bank, rejecting her for a car loan. The reason for refusal? It was against the bank's policy to loan money to single women. Mom was very intelligent, but had only a high school education and she worked very hard as a waitress to provide for me and my two siblings.

Thirty years later, I too, was divorced, with dependent children to support. I'm so grateful that I had educational and job opportunities that my mother (and my grandmother, who was also divorced in the 1940s) was denied. I never had to work in a menial jobs like they did (as you can see, I'm not a waitress).

I was able to provide a comfortable, if not luxuriant life for my children.

I've never been denied credit, and if I were, I'd know it was because I messed up, not that I was just the wrong gender.

You'll never see me demonstrate for any cause, but I'm very grateful for the women who came before me who fought for the rights I and my daughters enjoy today.


When my oldest daughter was born in 1981, I was a Navy wife living in Orlando, FL. My mother lived in Northern California. Mom was poor most of her life, and even if she could have afforded to come to see us, it probably never would have occurred to her to come all the way to Florida for a visit. I had a small 110 camera that I'd gotten some years before as a graduation gift from my brother, and we took a few pictures of the baby. And then, of course, we had to get the film developed... which was not that difficult, but we didn't have a lot of extra money, so we had to budget for it. By the time my mother even saw pictures of her first grandchild, she was  a couple of months old.

When my first grandchild was born in Idaho in 2006, I was living on the island of Maui. My son in law called my cell phone just as my daughter was giving birth. I was able to hear my grandson's first cries. Before he was 12 hours old, I had pictures on my cell phone, in my email and prints made from Costco 1-hour photo.

We have web cameras and email and skype and facebook and blogs and I'm able to see my grandchildren (I have 3 now!) grow up from across the ocean.

No Long Distance

As a child, I loved to watch cartoons. One of my favorites was the Jetsons. I remember wishing I had the cool things that George and Judy enjoyed. We still don't have flying cars that fold into briefcases, or robot maids (although the Roomba is a good start!).  But we do have Video phones. Here's a recent screen shot from one of my weekly Skype sessions.

As a young Navy couple living far away from either of our families, one of our biggest budgeting issues was long distance phone charges. Does ANYONE pay for long distance today? I'm able to call any of my children (in California, Utah, Missouri and Idaho) and talk as long as I like and not ever worry about the cost. With an internet connection and a $30 web camera, I can video chat with my children and grandchildren all the time, as often and for as long as we like!

That to me is a miracle!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have as much to be thankful for as I do!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Holiday Beverage

This cranberry/pineapple slush is perfect for a holiday brunch or dinner. The pineapple juice gives just the right amount of sweetness, requiring a second glass.

1 gallon cranberry juice
2 lg. cans pineapple juice
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Dissolve sugar in water. Add juices. Freeze in Ziploc bags. When ready to serve, put in punch bowl or pitcher and pour 7-Up over the frozen juice. Enjoy!

Thanks Stephanie for sharing this with me - years ago ;)

I linked to some of THESE fabulous link parties and also MomsTheWord

Monday, November 22, 2010

Inspired by Others #4

This is more of a blatant rip-off than an "inspired-by", but I love, love, {love} the way Suzanne at Just Another Hang Up displays her grandkids' artwork!

So I made one. 

Instead of cork, I used sheet metal under fabric so I can attach my little guy's art with magnets, except on this one...

I halved wine corks and hot glued them to the frame backing (painted to match the frame) so I do have one spot that is {thumbtack-able}

I hung the frames low enough (and with magnets) so my 4-year old can hang his artwork and preschool work by himself.

My current favorite piece of art is the second from the right, which the artist has named "A Flashlight and the Dark". Budding {genius}

<3 AmberLou

sharing at a few of these parties

Friday, November 19, 2010

Work Christmas Contest

Some of the ladies in my office put together a decoration contest for us this year. They gave each of us a kit with the same items in it, and we have to make an ornament to decorate the office with. There will be a cash prize (amount TBA but we're promised it will be in excess of $20) and a separate contest where everyone has to guess who made each ornament. So it's all very hush-hush.

Here are the items that we have to use. The rules state we have to use at least a part of every item, and we cannot use anything that didn't come in the kit.

We're supposed to decorate the CD with all the rest of the stuff. Any suggestions as to theme or how to use that silly stocking?

I'll post a picture of my finished project after all the games are over and there's no danger of my co-workers stealing all my great ideas!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wacky Chocolate Cake

`Today is my mom's birthday and I decided to make her a recipe from my 9th grade home economics class...Wacky Chocolate Cake. It is a perfect recipe for kids to make - no messy bowls to clean up.

Use an ungreased 9x13 cake pan.

Mix dry ingredients into the cake pan. Yes! Right in the baking pan.
2 c. sugar
3c. sifted flour
1t. salt
2 t. baking soda
1/4 c. & 2 Tbls. baking cocoa

Mix these ingredients very well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Then make 3 holes in the cake mix. Put each ingredient into the holes as follows:
Hole #1 with...2 Tbls. distilled vinegar
Hole #2 with...2 teas. vanilla
Hole #3 with...2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

THEN...Pour 2 cups of water over all the ingredients. MIX WELL! It should look like this...

Using a paper towel or napkin, wipe the inside edges of the cake pan so the cake is presentable after baking.

Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

This cake will be topped with White 7-minute Frosting per Mom's request - AND IT IS HER BIRTHDAY so she gets to choose.

Have a great day Mom. I love you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle

Looking for a pie alternative?
This is an excellent way to "spice" up your thanksgiving dessert.
I, however, am a pie lover so I am thinking I will make this just because:]
Who needs a reason for dessert?!


* 2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
* 1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
* 1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
* 1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional


1. Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool.
3. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding.
4. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a trifle bowl.
5. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping.
6. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping.
7. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight.
recipe provided by: http://www.squidoo.com/no-pie-thanksgiving-desserts

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Beautiful Bathroom

I love our new bathroom. Want to see some before/afters?


We replaced the oddly installed Formica counter top with lovely tile. Framed the mirror, and replaced the light fixture, sink and faucet


Retextured the entire room and painted it a gray/blue. Replaced the window. The floor was Pergo (in a bathroom? really?) so we tiled it.


Replaced the door.


Ripped out the tiny fiberglass tub and shower surround, replaced with an extra deep tub, and tiled the surround. We did a river-rock inset pattern that turned out lovely!


Stripped, sanded stained and varnished the built-in and the vanity. We also put some river rock on the floor and as a baseboard. I love the end result!

<3 AmberLou

Update : I had a few questions about how we did the river rock inset, so just a quick summary... 

I freehanded the shape of the inset, then tiled from the top of the tub to the bottom line of the inset. (A tile saw was very handy for making the odd cuts) 

Then I started the next level of tile above the inset. I drove two nails beneath the new line of tiles to support them, since they were basically hanging in thin air. I let the whole mess set overnight and then finished tiling the top half of the surround. 

The river rock came from Home Depot ($4.99 for 20 lbs, vs. $14+ per square foot for river rock glued to mesh) I sorted out the flat rocks and kept the bigger ones for my garden. I troweled on a thick layer of thin-set, and stuck the rocks in and let them dry, then grouted around them. 

I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures! I started this bathroom before I was blogging, and I didn't think I'd ever want pics! 

this is my entry for 
Visit thecsiproject.com
beautiful bathrooms contest

sharing at some of these parties

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Over The River And Through The Woods...

To Grandmother's house we go!
{I took this with my camera phone inside a moving car.} 
This is what I will be driving through [on a nine hour car drive with a 2 yr. old] to get to our Thanksgiving dinner with my Husbands Grandparents...Its beautiful and feels like Christmas, I cant wait!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Giveaway {winner}!

Congratulations to #11,  Fibrejunky, the winner of our 200 follower giveaway!

email us your address at paisleycupcake @ gmail {dot} com, and we'll get your goodies mailed to you! And thanks for playing, everyone!

<3 AmberLou, Amanda, ~jan, Lorie