April 30, 2011

(Un)Crafty - Stenciled Tray

Ages ago, when shopping at Target, I found some little wooden trays in their bargain bins.  They were $2.50, so I bought two to experiment with.  I just finally finished the first - its a gift, but it turned out great...good enough that I kinda wanted to keep it.  :)

This is such a special gift and even though it isn't much, there is special meaning behind it.  Our friends did something so special for our family.  We were so blessed by their generosity.  I knew I wanted to do something special to be sure their actions did not go without notice.

I started by sanding the wooden trays, wiping them down, and then using a spray primer to cover.  Part of the delay on this project is that you can't spray paint while the weather is freezing.  We had a looooooong winter here!

Then I coated the tray with some regular paint I had left from this project.  Because I used a dark primer and the paint was light, it took many many many coats to cover evenly.  Oh well.  I used a foam brush and it was such a small surface to paint, it was quick!

I was inspired by Jen at Tatertots and Jello when I saw her quatrefoil projects.  I downloaded and printed this stencil on cardstock.  Cutting out the pattern was the most difficult part of this project!  Then I just traced the stencil, making sure center the pattern on the surface.

I used some Metallic Folk Art paint from JoAnn's that I found on clearance to make this tone-on-tone color combination.  Then I coated the tray with some protective spray to keep from damage from water, scratches, or heat.  I love how the tray turned out - totally luxe for just a few bucks and a bit of (un)craftiness.

The tray can be used for anything!  Everything looks better with a tray: end tables coffee tables, kitchen counter, bathroom, bedside table...I can think of a million places to put these!  Luckily, as I walked past the bargain bins this week, I saw one more lonely tray sitting there, so I snatched it up!  This time, it was on "clearance", so it was only $1.75.  I'll have no problem working out a place to put it (or someone to gift it to!).

This tray was filled with some casual goodies for our sweet friends.  
"Much love, deep gratitude, many blessings"

April 22, 2011

(Un)Crafty - No-Sew Embellished Dishcloths

A while back, I made this dish mat with the help of my crafty mom and sister.  I do not sew (have I mentioned that??...only about a million times!).  The fabric was so cute that I wanted to think of something to use the scraps.  We had noticed how raggety our dishtowels were around this house so I decided to try to embellish plain new dishtowels with the fabric...and without sewing.

You will need:
1. plain white flour sack dishcloths (I bought mine at Target for $3.99/set of 4)
2. Sheets of Stich Witchery (available at JoAnn's)
3. Damp towel
4. Iron/ironing board

The first step was to wash my new dishcloths and dry.  Any shrinkage will happen before you embellish.  Then I decided on a few simple shapes to cut out of my fabric.  I am a little obsessed with these simple birds, so I drew them and traced them onto my fabric.  Then I cut them out.  I also did geometic shapes like circles (see below), squares, and stripes.  In the end, my favorites are the birds and the circles.  The shapes with straight edges seem to fray the most.

Once your shapes are cut out of fabric, trace and cut out the same size from your sheet of Stitch Witchery.  The Stitch Witchery will bond your fabric shape to your dishtowel.

Then use your iron and a damp towel to fuse the fabric to the dishtowel.  Just follow the simple directions on your Stitch Witchery package.  Its something like this: fuse your fabric to the dishtowel by placing in desired location, covering with a damp towel and heating with your iron for 10 seconds.  Repeat on reverse side until bonding is complete!  Its really so easy!

This will be your final, finished product!  I have found that after many washes, they are still holding up well!  In fact, they seem to get softer and more pliable with each wash.  I plan to make many more!  I think these would make a great hostess gift or housewarming present.  The total time to make all four of the towels was about 1 hour - its a great start-and-complete project for naptime!

Happy (Un)Crafting!

April 21, 2011

One Hour Alone

On Monday, my hubby took both of the boys for just one hour after work and before dinner.  I think he came home and the big boy was hanging from the rafters and the little boy was screaming bloody murder.  Not really.  But I think he could tell right away that it had been one of those days.  So, how awesome to have a whole hour to myself!  It was seriously a big deal.

"So," you ask, "what did I do with those whole hour to myself?!"  Well, get excited...

I cleaned the fridge, did laundry, and put our new oven liner in the clean oven.  Whew.  I know, pretty great stuff!  It was actually great because instead of having to fit each of those tasks around the needs of those I love, I did it without interruption and without the feeling of guilt for neglecting anyone!

I was inspired to clean and organize the fridge after I read this post of Megan's at Honey We're Home.  Cleaning the fridge is a gratifying, relatively easy task.  It does, however, take some undivided time and attention.  Thanks for the inspiration, Megan...I'm so happy with my organized fridge that I actually took a photo.  I'm weird.

Over the weekend, I ran the self-clean cycle on our oven (peeeeeewwwwww!).  So, my second task while the kids were out was to clean up all the ash inside the oven and clean around the doors, gaskets, etc.  Once I was finished it was so shiny!  My mom bought me this nonstick oven liner a while back, but I didn't want to start using it until I was sure the oven was so clean.

Doesn't it look so nice and shiny!  Now, with the oven liner, I can easily wipe up any spills on the bottom of the oven.  I'm hoping it will stay a little cleaner and fresh smelling!  The liner was a little too big for the bottom of my oven, but it was easy to cut-to-size.

The third task was laundry.  Blah.  Nothing exciting to share about that!  But it was so nice to have a little time - just an hour alone to accomplish a few things around the house!  Thanks, hubby!

April 20, 2011

Race To Nowhere

Last weekend, hubby and I had the chance to see this film about the current societal pressure for youth.  We have been in youth ministry for over 8 years and care deeply about all kids.  The film was not a shock to us because of our experience and understanding of the pressure on teens.  I recommend finding a viewing of this film and attending - especially if you have children (of any age) or if you care about kids.

I hope you will take the time to find a viewing of this film in your area and educate yourself about the culture of teens.  Our society needs to understand the pressures we put on kids - starting at a very young age - so that we can start to help kids feel loved, valued, and respected enough to love and accept themselves as they are.

Visit the website for more info, trailers, and to find a viewing near you.

April 19, 2011

Cake Box Cookies

Last week we made Cake Box Cookies.  I had seen the recipe in the back of Parents, but hadn't been privy to the recipe before.  My friend, Mollie, says these are amazing and fun and delish.  And let me tell you...she knows Delish (with a capital "D")!  For me, they have to be easy-peasy...and they are!  So simple and quick and yummy, too.

Box cake mix of your choice
1 egg
1/3 cup of oil
1/3 cup of buttermilk

Whip it up and roll into 1-inch balls...
We rolled ours in some sprinkles.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.


and enjoy!
I've been trying to find something my 3 year old likes because he isn't really into cake (and certainly not cake pops - "yuck, mom").  He really loved these cookies - maybe because they aren't too sweet.  I think I will try chocolate next...the yellow cake mix was ok, but not great...

Until I created this ice cream sandwich.  YUM.

April 9, 2011

Chalkboard Inspiration

I really love chalkboard paint and all the fun ideas to create a unique chalkboard space.  I love my chalkboard coasters, I love this chalkboard table, I love this colored chalkboard paint, I love these chalkboard panels...the list goes on!

Under The Table and Dreaming has some really cool chalkboard inspirations today:

I've been loving the idea of a chalkboard fridge since I saw this in Better Homes and Gardens.  Did you know you can buy chalkboard panels for your fridge?!  How fun!  And functional!

What an easy little message center inside a cupboard door - I love this idea!

Of course, the pantry door.  So smart I can't believe I didn't think of it!  
Now just if my pantry looked like that.... (yeah, right!).

So, what are you gonna chalkboard??  Head on over to Stephanie's blog to see some more of her inspirations today!  Enjoy!

April 7, 2011

Favorites - Labels

One of my favorite purchases for the kids once we started leaving them at the church nursery or any childcare setting are the Inchbug Orbit Labels we use on their cups.

When you order the custom printed labels for $12.95, you receive six labels.  We have put them to use in lots of places: on diaper bag straps, around sippy cups, snack containers, on their travels bags, on the cups in the bathroom that hold their toothbrushes...I'm sure you could find plenty of places to use these versatile labels, too!

The silicone labels stretch to fit a variety of containers and are dishwasher safe.  They don't fade or rely on adhesive, so they will never fall off.  I'm a huge fan!

You can also order a set of three pre-printed labels for $8.95.  They came out with fun new colors last year, so you can have a color for each of your kids, cousins, or friends!


Get 10% off any Inchbug purchase with this coupon code, valid until April 30th, 2011.

April 5, 2011

Rainbow Pancakes

I'm sure you've seen rainbow pancakes before - they are so cute!  I have been wanting to try them for a long time and around St. Patrick's Day, I saw a lot of rainbow pancakes in blogland, so I was reminded of the idea.  We had green pancakes on St. Patrick's Day, so you can imagine how thrilled my kids were when they got to try these...

During the hiatus one morning, I just whipped up our usual pancake batter and then divided it into separate glass bowls.  I added food coloring to each to create the colors I wanted.  So fun, so easy, so cute and special for your kids!

My dear friend, Sarah turned me on to Martha Stewart's Basic Pancake Recipe.  Its a never-fail, easy recipe  that always satisfies.  Or, as Martha says, 

Nothing says "weekend" like pancakes for breakfast. When you see how simple it is to whip them up from scratch, you'll wonder why you never did it before.

Here is the recipe:


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • *Assorted toppings, such as butter, maple syrup, 
  • confectioners' sugar, honey, jams, preserves, 
  • sweetened whipped cream, or chocolate syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees; have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are fine).
  3. Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.
  4. For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you should be able to fit 2 to 3 in a large skillet).
  5. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. (You'll have 12 to 15 pancakes.) Serve warm, with desired toppings.

April 4, 2011

The Hiatus

We had a lovely hiatus at the end of March.  We spent two weeks unplugged from the world.  We focused on being the family we have never been, on loving like we have never loved, on listening to God in the quiet.  It was amazing...it was totally necessary.

We went through something hard.

It was painful and sad.

The last 6 months have been our most challenging ever.  But through it all we became stronger and learned about ourselves.  We feel blessed because our kids are healthy, we are healthy, and we all love each other more than ever.  We love Jesus and have a deeper understanding of His love for us.

I took on a lot of the pain and didn't talk about it.  I had many days when I didn't want to get out of bed.  I had days I didn't get out of my pajamas.  There were tears - lots of them.  Tears when I woke up, tears at preschool pickup, tears when I was grocery shopping, tears all the time.  I withdrew from many activities, not able to "put on a happy face" when I was so sad.

Why did this happen?

What did we do wrong?

Will we ever heal?

Getting past the pain will take some time.  My heart will have to heal, forgive, and accept my own shortcomings.  I want to move on, I want to forget, but I need to allow myself some time to grieve.  At the same time, we have been gracefully given a new beginning, and I want to be able to move on and live in the excitement.

We have a fresh start.

Life is better now than it has been in many years.

One change and we have new life.

The hiatus was the break between my hubby's old and new jobs.  It was so needed.  We were able to do some of the healing, processing, and grieving in private.  Finally, some quiet and peace to let our hearts feel what they needed to feel.

Something amazing also happened.

We became the family we always wanted to be.

We have God in the center of our marriage and so much love for each other - making this time of trial bring us closer and make us stronger.  But on this hiatus, I saw my hubby get to know and love our children like he has never been able to before.  The understanding and respect built between he and the kids made the six long months of pain worth just this two week vacation.

We finally put our family first.

We finally accepted that we are called to be a family, to be parents, as much as we are called to ministry.

What a relief.

Now today our new life begins.  Its the calm after the storm.  Its the cake after dinner.  Its the support, the love, the encouragement we've known we need.

And here it is.

Given to us by God.


Hello, New Hubby.  Hello, New Us.  Hello, New Me.

Hello to The Life We're Truly Meant To Live.