Easy scrapbook paper art

We are doing a bit of redecorating around here and I wanted get some new art pieces for my little Stella’s room. I couldn’t find anything I loved, so I decided to make something myself. I copied this idea from an ad for a craft store.

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You will need:

A blank canvas (I used 20 x 20)
A mix of 10-12 different scrapbook papers
Scissors
Glue
Mod Podge

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 I found this cute collection of scrapbook paper for $5.99 and the canvas was half off. So, I only spent $16 total and have some leftover paper to use for something else. Aren’t the scrapbook paper patterns cute? Love.

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I started by making a couple of templates for my flower petals. I am not big on perfection for stuff like this, so I just eyeballed it using the cover of a magazine so the template was a bit thicker than the scrapbook paper. I also cut out a circle for the center, just by tracing the bottom of a wine glass to get a nice, round circle.

Then I started cutting the petals out. I used an exacto knife because it is faster for me than scissors.

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Once I had enough petals, I started laying them out in random order to make a big bloom on the canvas. Once I was happy with the layout, I glued each piece down with a glue stick.

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I added this in the corner, so cute.

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After that, I painted on a couple coats of Mod Podge over the whole thing to seal everything and I was done!

What do you think?

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Ten Easy St. Patrick’s Day Ideas

I’m no super mom but I dream of being one. I love all the creative ideas floating around with fun things to do for your kids on holidays, but the truth is, I tend to forget to actually do them. Am I alone?

Here’s a list of super easy and quick ways to do a little something extra special for St. Patrick’s Day this year:

1. Green Toilet Water

greentoiletwatervia A Differentiated Kindergarten

Add a little green food coloring to the toilet bowl before you call it a night, and blame it on those pesky leprechaun’s.

2. Green Breakfast

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Or if you forget, do it for dinner. You get a second chance with this one. This is my husband and my oldest having green eggs and green milk. Endless options here…green milk in the cereal, green smoothie, green pancakes/waffles/french toast.

3. Lucky Charms

luckycharmsvia Wizards & Fairies

Get ’em hopped up on sugar cereal!

4. Free Printables

freeprintablevia Money Savvy Michelle

There is a plethora of free printable coloring pages and activity sheets on Pinterest.

5. Wear something silly & green

Via Target

Pick up some St. Patty’s Day themed socks for each family member.

6. Make some art

via Parenting.com

Browse Pinterest for a bunch of easy art ideas you can do with your kids. I love this hand print version of a four-leaf clover. Precious!

7. Rainbow water

via happy hooligans

How cool is this? Just add a little food coloring to your ice-cube trays in rainbow colors to make this “rainbow water”. This would be a fun way to spice up dinner time.

8. Jazz up the lunchbox

via Bento Diva

You don’t have to go all out like this adorable bento box, but try to add some green or a shamrock sandwich to the old lunchbox. If you don’t have a shamrock cookie cutter, you can also cut out three small hearts to form the shamrock leaves, and add something else for the stem.

9. Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner


via Canadian Family

Make a traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage. This recipe is easy peasy, you just put everything in the crock pot and get on with your day.

10. Green beer

Now pour yourself a green beer and kiss someone – Irish or not🙂

Review: The Honest Company Diaper Bundle

Time for a shout out to my new favorite company, The Honest Company. You know, the company my friend Jessica Alba started up?

Well, we’re not really friends, but I have a feeling that if I were a rich, famous person living in LA, I would see Jessica Alba at a yoga class and we just might have a nice little conversation after a deep pigeon pose stretch. We might even go for a smoothie afterward. I just don’t know.

I came across The Honest Co. when I finally threw in the towel on cloth diapers with my second child. I know, hypocrite, I have raved about my love for cloth diapers on this very blog. I am still a huge fan of cloth diapers and I am not giving up entirely, but for now I needed a different option. I was having the hardest time keeping up with the laundry because my little diva is the lightest.sleeper.ever and her room happens to share a wall with the laundry room so I can only do laundry when she is awake. Major laundry back up.

So I started looking into other options that were still earth friendly and affordable. I just can’t live with the fact that a regular disposable diaper can take up to 500 years to decompose. Yikes!

Honest Co. has an amazing disposable diaper that is plant-based (made from corn and wheat), has no chemicals and is naturally biodegradable. You can buy them in individual packages or they have a convenient monthly membership that includes both diapers and wipes.  I love that you can tweak the delivery schedule however you want, and you only pay when delivered. So even if you ship every six weeks, you still get the monthly membership discount price.

Win win right?

And the best part? They come in ADORABLE prints.

I know. Seriously.

It kind of makes changing a dirty diaper easier. Kind of…

You will pay a little more for these diapers than regular disposable diapers, I have figured we spend about $20 more per month.
To me it’s worth it.

So, even if you are a loyal cloth diaper user, these are a great alternative for travel or even those first few months when it can be hard to get in the groove of using cloth. And if you can’t fathom using cloth, this is the perfect alternative!

Here is my little one sporting her adorbs diaper:

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FYI – Trying to take a tushie photo of a busy 1-year-old is like trying to catch a chicken.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

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I have been searching for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe forever. I found it.

The perfect recipe had to deliver soft, gooey rolls with just the right amount of cinnamon and icing.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made a lot of batches of cinnamon rolls, much to the pleasure of my husband who has been my eager taste tester. Have another roll babe, enjoy.

Anyway, I do not in any way claim to be the creator of this recipe. It is just slightly adapted from our beloved Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Believe me, I wouldn’t dream of messing with the Pioneer Woman. I’m pretty sure she can herd sheep and lasso bulls while simultaneously baking the perfect pie. Her recipe does make a ton of rolls, so I’ve cut it in half since we aren’t feeding a ranch. One for you to enjoy right away and another for the freezer. So here we go…

Easy Cinnamon Rolls
– adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 cups milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (heaping)
1/2 tsp baking soda (scant)
1/2 tsp salt (heaping)

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3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup turbinado sugar (or 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1/2 cup sugar)
4 tsp cinnamon

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2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract

Start by combining the milk, coconut oil and sugar in a saucepan. Heat on medium until scalding (not quite boiling), stirring constantly. Set it aside to cool down for 45 mins or so until warm. Side note —-> I used coconut oil because I love it, but you could use vegetable oil if you prefer.

It’s important that the mixture is not hot when you add the yeast. Lukewarm or slightly warm is best, around 110 degrees if you are using a thermometer. Once the temp is right, stir in your yeast and let that sit for a few minutes.

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Then add 4 cups of flour. Cover and let it sit for an hour. It will do its thing. It should rise and look like this:

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Then add another 1/2 cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Now you should have a nice smooth, elastic dough. You’re ready to roll baby!

I take half the dough and roll it out into a rectangle onto a floured surface. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Now the Pioneer Woman’s recipe uses melted butter, but I found it easier to use softened butter so it didn’t ooze out all over my counters. So take 3/4 cup butter (yes, I cut out a bit of butter, mama told me to) and soften it in the microwave until it is spreadable. Take a couple of dabs of butter and spread in the bottom of your baking pans. Then take half of the remaining butter and spread evenly onto your rectangle of dough.

Then sprinkle with half of the sugar. I use turbinado sugar because I love the flavor, more rich and molassess-y. And it’s not processed as much as white sugar. But use whatever you like. Follow with a sprinkling of 2 tsp of cinnamon.

Start rolling ’em up! Start at the longer side and be sure to pull a bit while you roll to keep things tight. You don’t want to lose any of that buttery, sugary goodness in the middle. One you have it rolled up, slice and place the rolls in your buttered pan. I forgot to pinch the seam here. But it’s okay, you can forget steps like that and they will still turn out amazing.

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And repeat that process for the second pan. Side note —> this recipe would fill about three round cake pans, a 13×9 pan and another 8×8…however you can make it work. I did one big 13×9 and a round cake pan and it worked perfectly.

Once you have your gorgeous rolls ready to bake, cover the pans with towels and let rise for another 30 minutes or so.

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Bake @ 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes.

And I didn’t even remember to take a photo of them fresh out of the oven topped with icing. Because I couldn’t stop myself  my husband dove right in.

For the icing simply combine the four ingredients and stir until smooth, and drizzle over the rolls. You may want to add extra powdered sugar or milk, to get the right consistency. Super easy!

There you have it! A super easy way to get the perfect cinnamon roll, every time.

Nailed it.

Easy Crusty Bread

This bread is amazing. Seriously. It will blow your mind. Just a few ingredients and you’ve got a super yummy, fresh-baked loaf of bread. Never buy another loaf of artisan bread from the grocery store again!

This is not an original idea by any means. I have seen similar recipes on Pinterest and on various blogs. I used the recipe over at Simply So Good: Crusty Bread. I won’t go into all the details she does…but if you want more ideas on what to bake it in, or what other flavors to add, check out her post.

Here we go…you will need:

-3 cup of flour (regular white unbleached)
– 1 3/4 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp yeast
– 1 1/2 cups water

*The only thing you have to remember about this recipe is that you need to give it 12-18 hours to rise. So plan ahead! I like to mix mine up the night before and bake the next day, about mid-day.

Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and mix together until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter, unrefrigerated to rise, 12-18 hours. It will be a big gooey mess, but that’s ok. Just walk away and let it do its magic.

After 12-18 hours it should have puffed up nicely and look very sticky. It’s perfect.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and once preheated, place your pot in the oven for 30 minutes. I used my crock pot insert because I don’t have a gorgeous Le Creuset (yet!) like she suggested. After putting your pot in the oven, dump out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape it into a ball. Let it rest (no kneading!) and put the plastic wrap over it. And you really don’t need to grease your pot, the dough doesn’t stick a bit.

Once your pot has preheated for 30 minutes carefully take it out (remember, it’s really hot!) and drop your dough into the pot. Put on the lid (or cover with foil) and bake for 30 minutes.

After baking, carefully remove the pot and using pot holders, remove the bread to cool on a wire rack. Admire your gorgeous work and how wonderful your kitchen now smells.

See? Could it be any easier?? We enjoyed this loaf with big bowls of soup on a cold night, and the next night sliced thin for paninis.

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DIY Burlap Wreath

I’m not what I’d call a crafty person, but I occasionally try my hand at making something when I get suckered into all the ideas I get from the craft store.

I have wanted a wreath for our front door that is more seasonal, not just for a specific holiday. And I happen to love the burlap that’s popping up everywhere. So, here is my version of a very imperfect burlap wreath.

Here’s how I did it…

I took a wire wreath form that I had and started out by wrapping batting around it. I think you could use most kinds of wreath forms and other kinds of materials to give you a base. Even paper would work.

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Just glue the end, wrap, and then glue on the other end once you’ve made your way around. Then you have this:

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I bought a bundle of burlap for this project, and I chose an ivory color because I wanted it to pop on my black front door. It’s a 1/2 yard and was plenty. Take your burlap and cut it into squares, mine were about 4″ x 4″.

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Then you’re going to start gluing on your pieces of burlap with your glue gun. For the first layer, don’t worry about it if they look too flat, just glue them on randomly and it will eventually come together.

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After you’ve got your first layer, start creating some texture with the pieces. Take a square and fold it with your hand, leaving the center in a bit of a point. Glue down the point and hold while the glue dries. Like this:

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Do this all the way around and until you have everything covered. You should end up with a nice, ruffled texture.

Then, embellish with a lil’ something. I chose a red fabric flower that I picked up at the craft store.

And you’re done! A perfectly imperfect wreath that will work through fall and winter.

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The Five Fingers of Prayer

A friend told me about the Five Fingers of Prayer concept, and I think it’s brilliant.

If you’re like me, your prayers start off great and until you remember that you forgot to switch out the laundry and you haven’t returned that phone call you meant to get to…and you get sidetracked. And you start over. Prayer doesn’t have to be formal or filled with eloquent words. Prayer is just talking to God. I often pray aloud in my car. And I get strange looks at stop lights for it.

I love the Five Fingers of Prayer idea because it seems to encapsulate all the important things I would want to include in a prayer, but keeps it simple. And most importantly, it puts the prayers for ourself last. It is so easy to think about our struggles and pains, but when we focus on others first, it seems to naturally steer things back into the right perspective.

I also love that this includes prayer for all of our leaders. This is something I forget to do on a regular basis, but I think it’s of utmost importance.

You start at your thumbs and work back to your pinkies.

Thumb: Those Closest to You

Your thumb is the nearest to you, so it represents those closest to you. For me, this is my family and closest friends.

Pointer finger: Those in Authority

Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. These could be teachers, nurses, doctors and ministers.

Middle finger: Our Leaders

The next finger, the middle finger, is the tallest finger and represents our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. The people who shape our nation and guide public opinion.

Can you imagine how much more peaceful elections would be if we complained less and just prayed more? This is something I am personally working on.

Ring finger: Those Who Are Weak

The ring finger is the weakest finger, and can remind us to pray for those who are dealing with illness, those who are weak, in trouble or in pain.

Pinky finger: Me

And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. Your pinky should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

So…how do you pray?

Natural Fruit Fly Trap

ImageThis is not an incredibly interesting post but hopefully a useful one. For some reason every year at this time our kitchen becomes inundated with fruit flies. Can’t stand the little buggers.

I found this easy homemade trap over at Passionate Homemaking and tried it out this weekend. My husband was just staring at it for the longest time trying to figure out what I’m up to now.

It’s very simple. You take a jar, I used a quart mason jar, and put a piece of fruit and some apple cider vinegar in the bottom. Then roll up a piece of paper to make a little cone and put that in the jar. Apparently the little pests aren’t smart enough to fly out of the cone so once they go after the bait, they are trapped. After you’ve caught them, just put the jar in the fridge for a bit and they will drift off to fruit fly heaven…or something like that. Easy!

How to photograph well

Hate seeing pictures of yourself? Whether you are shooting a quick shot via Instagram, or posing for professional photos, there are some simple tricks of the trade to photographing well.

I am blessed to keep company with some amazing photographer friends and get treated to being behind their lens on a regular basis. I tend to shy away from having my photograph taken because I so quickly see my flaws and become critical. This is where my fabulous photographer friend Koren comes in. She is one of the most encouraging people I know, and when she tells you you look good, she means it. And if you’re not showing the best of yourself, she’ll gently redirect you. She is quick to remind us that God made us perfectly just as we are, and we need to stop the self-criticism and learn to love ourselves. (Check out more of Koren’s work over at Kaptured by Koren)

So on a girls weekend away, I asked her if she would teach us some of her techniques for posing for photos, and enlisted my girlfriends to be my models. And I happen to have gorgeous friends. Meet the models:

Koren, Heather, Dawn, Kristina and Haley (me)

Ok, let’s get to it shall we?

Photos taken straight on make you look heavier than you are, and are just plain boring. But we tend to just stand there and smile without adding much visual interest to the pose. If you look at photos of celebrities you rarely see a photo taken head on, they know how to angle their bodies to flatter.

Some general rules for creating flattering angles:

  • Turn your body a quarter turn
  • Put one foot forward toward the camera and put your weight on your back foot
  • If you’re sitting down, sit at an angle
  • Turn your head slightly to the side, but look straight at the camera
  • Pull the heaviest part of your body away from the camera. Ex: if you have larger hips or shoulders, pull one back.
  • Keep your hair off your shoulder that is closest to the camera

Kristina

Kristina’s “do!” photo shows some great examples. Doesn’t she look fabulous??! As you can see she created great angles by putting one foot forward with a bend in the knee and hips tilted. Her arms on her hips flatter and give her pose a comfortable, relaxed look.

I was being a goob in this” don’t” photo to give myself the dreaded double chin. But how boring is a straight-on photo with my arms just laying at my sides?

In my “do!” photo, turning my body to the side and bending my knee gives some dimension. Koren had to remind me to pull my shoulder up a bit, making my double chin disappear and providing another angle with my arm.

Heather is always smoldering in her photos, so any pose really looks good on her. However, I like how she has her head tilted slightly to the side in the second photo, but keeps her gaze right at the camera. It shows off her cheekbones and makes her eyes stand out. Her hair also looks gorgeous flowing down her back, and again we see the knee bend.

Dawn has great proportions, and shows here how you can take a straight-on photo and make it more interesting. By taking a wide stance with her legs and popping a hip out, her legs look awesome! She’s also got her head slightly tilted to the side, and looks relaxed with her arms bent and hands intertwined.

Koren has too cute of a figure to just stand there. With her back slightly to the camera, it shows off the detail of her shirt and those great legs (and booty!). Hands in the pockets with elbows bent are slimming and looking over your shoulder flatters all body types.

We all have things we don’t like about our looks. The trick is learning how to hide them so the focus is on your best features instead. Here are some tips for dealing with problem areas like muffin tops, double chins and “sharms”.

Muffin top: When a woman wears a pair of tight jeans that makes her flab spill out over the waistband, just like the top of a muffin sits over the edge of the paper case.

Ah the annoying muffin top. If you’ve had kids, you especially know what I’m talking about.

You can help avoid having a muffin top in photos by keeping good posture and slightly sucking in. Just don’t suck in too much, because it will be obvious.

Another way to conceal your midsection is to drape your arms across or over your tummy. Interlace your fingers and bend your elbows, or keep an arm with a slight bend across your stomach at an angle.

Double chins!! Ugghh!! This is personally something I struggle with in photos. They can instantly make you look much heavier than you are, so don’t get caught with a double chin!

We tend to pull our face back when we smile and this often creates the double chin. Instead, pull your head slightly out and turn a bit to the side.

Keep your eyes on the camera and whenever possible, take a pictures from slightly above you.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis also had a little trick – look slightly above the camera when you’re getting your photo taken and your eyes will look larger and you won’t be at risk for that sleepy-eyed look.

Lastly, beware of sharms.

Sharms: where the arm and shoulder are one.

To get long, lean arms, be sure to pull your arm slightly away from your body. We often hold them right at our sides, making them squish out kind of like what happens to your thighs when you sit down.

Roasted chicken thighs with sage and pear

Savory chicken thighs with fresh herbs and the sweetness of pear. This is a perfect super-simple recipe for fall that fills your kitchen with the smell of comfort food. I also like this quick dinner because it literally takes a few minutes to prep, something I can appreciate as a mom of little ones.

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive or grape seed oil
3-4 fresh sage leaves
2 pears
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse chicken thighs and place in glass baking dish. Roll up sage leaves and slice, and run your knife through them again to dice. Combine oil and sage in a bowl, and brush over thighs. Turn once to cover chicken. Quarter pears and place around chicken in the baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 40-50 minutes, until meat reaches 165 degrees on meat thermometer.