October 2012Occasionally Crafty: October 2012

Wednesday, October 31

Scrappin' Wednesday- Making Gingerbread Houses

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Halloween isn't even over yet, but if you look all around, Christmas is everywhere!  I have even started my Christmas shopping already!  Normally this makes me gripe and groan, but in truth, Christmas is my favorite time of the year, and I can't wait for it to arrive!

So, my scrapbook layout for the week fits perfectly with my mood.  I'm almost done with 2010- I just need to scrap the last activities of the year.  One thing we did this year was make "gingerbread" houses out of graham crackers and candy.  I would like to share the Story of the Gingerbread Houses with you:

Once upon a time, a family bought a gingerbread house kit to make with their two small children.  They thought it would be fun.  It wasn't.  The frosting wasn't strong enough to stand the house up, and it squeezed all out the end of the bag and all over the father.  The father could not get the house to stand up.  The kids would rather eat the candy than use it decorate.  Much yelling ensued, and though the houses turned out in the end, it was an experience best forgotten.

A new year dawned, and when the prospect of building houses once again dawned, the mother thought and thought about how she could make the activity a better experience.  So,  she made her own frosting glue from a tried and true recipe on the web.  She composed the houses from graham crackers well ahead of time, so they would be sturdy and dry for decorating later.  She bought squeeze bottles for the icing to contain the mess.  And when the kids ate the candy, she and the father just shrugged and smiled.
The result was this:  two beautiful houses and a happy family.

True story :).  What I learned from this experience is this:  if we let anger, impatience, or a mess get in the way of observing our family traditions, we lose the meaning behind them.  What's important is the time spent together as families and loved ones.

Here's our much better house-making experience:

Thanks for stopping by today! 

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Monday, October 29

Making My Own- Bisquick

Today's installment of Making My Own involves a staple in most of our cupboards, Bisquick! This is really just a simple flour mixture that you can whip up quickly if you run out, or make a whole bunch to keep on hand.
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I found my recipe at The Make Your Own Zone, and tried it out on the family that night. The result? Better than Bisquick!

I am loving all these easy, homemade items filling up my pantry. Tune in next Monday for the next think you can easily make on your own!


Saturday, October 27

Guest Posting at Pocket Full of Pink- and Sponsor Shout-Out!

Happy Saturday everyone!  I hope you're enjoying your weekend.  We're smack in the middle of one of our busiest weekends.  Last night was our Trunk or Treat.  And yes, for those of you who saw my Facebook post, my three year old did in fact wear his costume happily.

Today we had a program practice, a baptism to attend, and a birthday party.  I need an extra day in my weekend.

Anyway, I am posting over at Pocket Full of Pink today with a cute Halloween Printable for you.  Go check it out!

Also, I want to take a moment and remind you about my lovely sponsors.

Pinwheel Pretties has great pinwheel-themed party decor, as well as lots of other cute party favors!  Think about them for your next party!

Party Planning Consultation with A Set of Custom Made to Order Pinwheels or Pillow Box Favors

My Memories sells digital scrapbooking software, as well as lots of cute digital papers, elements, and kits.  They have lots of designers, so you're sure to find something that's your style!  I love this Autumn Pack!


Shabby Apple produces high quality, beautiful modest dresses, apparel, and accessories.  I own one dress that I LOVE and hope to order another soon!  Next time you want a cute dress, consider ordering one of the dresses from Shabby Apple.  For easier shopping, you can click on the ad in my sidebar on "Shop Now".

Black and White Polka Dot Cap Sleeved Pencil Skirt Dress with Ruffle at Waist

Finally, I am now a Very Jane affiliate!  I love their daily deals!  They have so many cute things, and you are often supporting handmade shops when you buy.  Sign up to get their daily deals in your inbox, or shop now through the ad in my sidebar.  (PS- Look at this cute camera strap on sale today!)

Simply Bloom Inspired Camera Strap Covers – Great Christmas gift!

Okay, now go check out my post!  Have a great weekend!


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Friday, October 26

The Ghost of Halloween Past.....Bwah ha ha!

I have mixed feelings about Halloween.  The kids get so excited to choose a costume, then actually wear it for our Halloween activities.  It's fun to see the delight on their faces.

I love that I get to eat all the good candy because my children are young enough to think that lollipops and Tootsie Rolls are the "good stuff".  Snort.  If only they knew.....

I love pretending like it's fall, even though it's usually still in the 90's this time of year here.

What I don't like, though, is trying to ration out the ridiculous amounts of candy my children get.  I don't like having to get everyone dressed up for not just Halloween night, but for Trunk or Treat and Boo Fest and whatever other parties we go to.  I have a hard time saying "no" to Halloween activities, even though I am going crazy by Halloween itself!  

I do really like making Halloween decor.  I've been pretty busy this year, so I've only made a few little things.  But, just in case you're feeling crafty this weekend, I thought I'd share with you a few of my favorite projects from Halloweens past.

Last year, I made this really cute Embroidery Hoop Wall Hanging.

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If you're having a party, maybe you can use some ideas from my son's Pumpkin Party.

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And finally, this FREE stitchery pattern is still available.  I LOVE it.  It might be one of my favorite, and easiest, embroidery projects.

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Finally, tomorrow I'll be sharing a Halloween printable over at Pocket Full of Pink.  Check there tomorrow or come back here for a direct link.

Happy Halloween (in advance!)


Wednesday, October 24

Scrappin' Wednesday- School Pictures

School pictures slightly terrify me.  I drop off my child in the morning, hair perfectly in place, clothes spotless, smiles bright.  The only problem is, I don't know at what point in the day their picture will be taken.  Will it be after recess, when clothes can get muddy and hair becomes windswept and messy?  Will it be after P.E (see "recess")? 

And when my child takes her picture, will she smile one of her best smiles, or will she try too hard and stretch that smile across her cheeks like the Joker?

I never know what I'm going to get until I have them in my hand.

Luckily, my daughter's first school pictures, taken way back in 2010, turned out pretty adorable.  Her picture is the subject of my layout today.

We just took this year's school pictures a few weeks ago.  Now my son is in Kindergarten.  I'm a little scared to see what they look like, because he is a goof and a half!

Thanks for stopping by today!

P.S.-  I am doing some blog re-design, so don't freak out if you see some changes. There's only one way to get this done and that's piece by piece.  Your patience, please :)

Have a great week-

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Monday, October 22

Making My Own! - Lipton Onion Packets and Cream of _____ Soup!

For the next installment of 'Making My Own', I wanted to share a few simple recipes for something we use all the time. Both of these will help stretch your budget and may even be a bit healthier!

First are those Lipton Onion Soup mixes. A box of 2 packets probably costs around $1.25, and you always seem to need one when you don't have one. I bet you didn't realize that you have most of the ingredients already!

I found my recipe off of food.com and it works and tastes great!

3/4 cup instant minced onion
1/3 cup beef bouillon powder (I used granules)
4 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed celery seed
1/4 teaspoon sugar

5 TBSP of this mix = one packet, so this recipe makes about 4 packets!!

Next is the famous Cream of _____________ Soup. It really bugs me how much these cans of soup cost, even the generic brand, and of course I always think I have one when I don't! So what do you do if you're in a pinch or just want to start making your own?  There are two routes- the dry route or the wet route.
The dry route is what I am currently employing so I can make a lot and always have it on hand. I found my recipe off of a forum page where the commenter suggested the following:
2 c. non-fat dried milk (two cups)
3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. chicken or beef bouillon particles
2 tbsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
(or you can replace the last 3 ingredients with about 2 tsp of poultry seasoning)

This makes about 10 cans worth of soup! Flavor the way you like, beef or chicken. Suprisingly cream of chicken soup works very well in most all recipes calling for a can of creamy anything. 

When you're ready to make a recipe calling for a can of creamy soup, take 1/3 c. of the mix, 1 1/4 c. cold water and 1 TBSP butter, mix, and bring to a boil so it will thicken. This will NOT be as thick as you're used to, but hasn't been an issue for me. If you want it thicker than add more cornstarch that has been already mixed with cold water.

The other route is the wet route. If you don't have the dry mix on hand, don't have the time to make the dry mix AND the soup, and still need a can of creamy stuff, try this version (which is apparently called a thick roux).

2 TBSP flour
2 TBSP butter
1 C Milk
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Mix and bring to a boil, and if you want a particular flavor just add some chicken stock or vegetable stock along with the milk to equal 1 cup of liquid. This works just as well and still saves you money!

Lastly, seal your mixes into airtight containers and label the baking instructions so you don't forget!

Another favorite thing for me about making these is that a lot of time I don't need a whole packet or a whole can and too often things go to waste. This allows you to make exactly how much you need.

Now here's a great recipe for using your two new mixes!

5-6 lb pot roast
1 'packet' lipton onion soup mix
2 'cans' cream of mushroom soup
1 cup of water

Place any potatoes or veggies you want on the bottom of your crockpot. Put roast on top of veggies with fat on the top. I like to mix my lipton onion soup with my creamy soups and water and pour it all together onto the roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours and enjoy a roast that is creamy and falls apart in your mouth!

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Friday, October 19

Thrifted Frame to Earring Holder

I have recently developed an obsession with earrings. 3 years ago I wouldn't wear them because I keep my hair pretty short and thought my fat ears made earrings look funny! Don't we all have some crazy body image issues? Well, my husband went on a business trip and found a necklace he really liked for me, but the guy wouldn't sell it to him without the earrings so he thought he'd give it a try. Well, I did give it a try and my husband may be regretting it now! See, in Korea jewelry is CHEAP. I mean, you can find stands with awesome earrings for 1000 won, which is less than a dollar. So, I may or may not have grabbed like 5-10 pairs every time I came across one of those stands!

That quickly means a storage issue. I mentioned that I have a hanging organizer that has lots of tiny clear pockets, and it still is a great solution, but I came across a photo on pinterest awhile ago that intrigued me. It was a sheet of metal she had put in a picture frame! Genius!

Now that we are homeowners and frequent Home Depot more than Michael's, i perused their perforated metal sheets and found the perfect one to hang all my long, dangly earrings from!

Here's a closer look at the metal. I love how many holes it has and how many options that gives me!

My sheet of metal was 12"x24", and they do make picture frames that size, but I found this frame at the thrift store and thought it would be perfect for this project. I bought some tin snips and sized my sheet of metal to the frame. I removed all the glass, cardboard and pictures and nailed (with some tiny tiny nails) the sheet of metal to the back of the frame. I just love it!!!

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Now I just need to come up with one for all my studs, since I didn't want to be hooking and un-hooking earrings to the frame all the time. Maybe something upholstered that I can just stick 'em in to?

We're linking up this week to some linky parties:  Come check them out with us!


Wednesday, October 17

Scrappin' Wednesday- Portraits at a Wedding

Welcome to Scrappin' Wednesday, where I get to share a little about my family and with you through my digital scrapbook pages!

Today I'm sharing a layout I created to show off some portraits we had taken at my sister-in-law's wedding.

I wish I had gotten some great pictures of the reception.  Her wedding was a carnival theme, complete with carnival games, a candy bar, a bounce house, cotton candy, popcorn, and more.  It was such a blast, and yet also beautifully done!

As you can see in the layout, the bride's colors for the reception were aqua and red.  The little girls all wore matching dresses and headbands, and the boys each wore bowties in the wedding colors.  The effect was adorable.

Here's the layout with my kiddos:

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My youngest son has this annoying-but-cute habit of biting his lower lip.  You can see him doing it here in these pictures, at age 1.  He just turned three and still does it!  Grrr......

Anyway- thanks for stopping by today! 


Monday, October 15

Making my Own- Part One

This week I'm beginning a  mini-series of posts called 'Making My Own'. I may not be the healthiest eater, or the smartest shopper, but if there is something that I can make on my own that cuts out a few preservatives or unnaturalness, then I'm all for it. Often these things are more cost efficient, just not as convenient as grabbing it off the shelf. So with a little extra effort you can help stretch your dollars and feel even a tiny bit healthier!

So my first 'Making My Own' moment that I want to share with you is granola. I've recently joined the granola and yogurt craze and find it filling and delicious. I started searching for recipes so I could make my own granola and I found this very simple, but delicious one from Designlovefest. I will be making this over and over again!

Let me know what you think if you give it a try.

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Check back for more things that I've started making on my own!


Friday, October 12

The Glitter Academy- Episode Three

About every six months or so, the girls from I Heart Naptime, Lil'Luna, and Somewhat Simple host a fun craft night for bloggers/crafters in Arizona, the Glitter Academy.  I've been going since the very first one, and I always have a blast! 

This night was no exception.  It was quite different than the other craft nights, because this time we spent most of the night eating a delicious dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory and chatting with the people around us.  

Usually, it's crafting, crafting, and more crafting, but this night was definitely more social-based.

Now, I am introverted by nature.  I'm pretty shy, and it's hard for me to reach out to people I don't know very well.  That's why I drag my best friend Anissa along with me, so I always have someone to talk to!

But tonight, I was thrilled to immediately recognize the Dee from The CSI Project.  She sat next to me, and I had a blast getting to know her "in real life"!

Not a great picture of me- it was so crowded in there.  By the way, would you believe Dee has a kid in college?  I'm dead serious.

I also had some fun gals around me.  It was really fun chatting and enjoying the festivities together.

Aimee and Bettijo from Paging Supermom put together this gorgeous dessert table. 

Aimee is a friend of a friend, and our kids go to the same school.  We enjoy chasing after our rowdies in the pickup line.  Fun times.....

After dinner, they gave away some great prizes and played silly games.  I tried really hard, but could not get a good picture of the games.  Too bad, because they made everyone look ridiculous!  (Get an Oreo from your eyeball to your mouth without dropping it.....)

By the time dinner and games were over, it was already almost 10:00!  But I got to work on my wood plaque from Poppyseed Projects.  Here's mine in progress:

And here's the finished product!  You'll see it in my daughter's room makeover, coming soon (I hope!)

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I even won something!  This is a miracle, because I never win anything.  Usually Anissa wins something (an iPad, concert tickets, cute prizes!)  but I guess her luck rubbed off on me, because I won these cute cabochon earrings from Kristyn.

The night out was over too soon.  Thanks ladies- it was a BLAST!  If you live in Arizona, consider going to the next one- I guarantee you'll be glad you did!

Have a great weekend, everyone!