Archive | November, 2010

A Book Challenge for the Challenged Reader :P

30 Nov

My sister sent me this email about a book challenge for 2011 and I got pretty excited! I love reading books, however it takes me a while to read one due to my “easily distracted disease” haha. This one sounded fun because you get to pick the books you want to read yourself! There isn’t a premade list of books that you probably won’t like the majority of! The only regulation is that you read at least one book from each of the 50 states of America! I can do that! Plus it starts after the holidays 🙂 So you get a whole month to relax before you jump in.

I have added a link on my blogroll —> over there —> called the 2011 book challenge and it’s a google map. Everytime I finish a book that represents one of the states I will add the cover to the map along with writing a book review on my blog. Totally fun!

If you are interested in doing it yourself here is the link: http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/2011-where-are-you-reading-challenge/

Tonight I plan on starting to make a list of books I am interested in that will fit in this challenge. Until then I still have two more books to accomplish and review.

If you are an avid book reader and love to read book reviews I seriously suggest checking out her blog. It’s Kritters Ramblings – also over there —> on my blogroll. She reads books a million times faster than me and has an awesome list of reviews. She also has awesome taste in books!!!!

This should be fun!

Love Always,

J

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This time of year again!

30 Nov

 It’s that time of year again when we are planning holiday festivites and spending a lot of time with the family. Holiday season for me now is no where near what it was like when I was a child. I didn’t do any shopping, wrapping, spending money, worrying about bills, or figuring out travel plans. I simply jumped up and down with excitement for Christmas morning, watched a zillion of holiday movies and tv shows, listened to Christmas music, and ate a lot of yummy baked goods. The only Christmas card I made was to Santa Claus. The good old days..

This year I have decided to do things a little differently! B and I did a majority of our Christmas shopping Black Friday and the day after and the rest I plan on purchasing online. I have made a list of who is getting what and from where and only spending a certain amount each paycheck so I don’t overdue it and the bills still get paid. Luckily now that we live near almost all of our family travel plans have been cut down to an hour to two hours distance and that is a lot easier to do then a 6-12 hour car ride!!

So this year I plan on jumping up and down for Christmas morning to come, watching a zillion of holiday movies and tv shows, listening to Christmas music, and eating yummy baked goods. Okay okay and a little Christmas wrapping too 🙂

Love Always,

J

Snowflaking it Up!

28 Nov

Target has a ton of amazing things that if you look past what they have you can really figure out some pretty cool things. My mom bought these garland ropes of maroon beads and these snowflakes. 9 feet long for $6.00 and she loved the color and size of the beads but wasn’t too crazy about the snowflakes. We had gone to a couple of the stores and couldn’t find what she was looking for and this was as close as it got. So I told her we could pull off the snowflakes and she could use them for something else. And this is my something else idea 🙂

More to come with this 🙂

Love Always,

J

Picture This :)

27 Nov

Why waste 20-30 bucks on a frame when you can make one that’s exactly your style for less than $5.00? This is an awesome easy project and perfect for gifts!

Materials: Unfinished frame, Box (or Box Top), Adhesive Spray, Wrapping paper of your choice, Ribbon of your choice, Bead (Optional), Pin, Tacky Glue, Double-Sided Tape, X-acto Knife, and Mat Board.

This was so simple and I finished it in no time! I cut a piece of wrapping paper to fit the frame, sprayed adhesive onto the frame and laid the frame on the wrapping paper (face down). Set a book on it and waited for five minutes (perfect time to make a bow if you want one). When it was dry I used the X-acto knife to cut around the edges and the middle section of the frame and it was complete!

The bows took a little more time. Cut pieces of ribbon to your size liking and put them together in a bow shape. The pink one I used double-sided sticky tape and it turned out cute but I wasn’t too thrilled that I could see little pieces of tape so I tried the tacky glue and put a pin through the middle and a bead to make it pretty. I like the way the white bow turned out but I still love the color of the pink one 🙂

This was a fun and really simple project. Hope you all enjoy 🙂

Love Always,

J

Black Friday & Why This Winter ROCKS

26 Nov

This year was the first year EVER that I have gone shopping on black friday! I usually avoid taking a step outside of my door just because the craziest of crazies come out on black friday .. or so I was told! But if you are a crafter then black friday is for you! Living near Washington D.C. we have a lovely thing called traffic and too many people living in one area but luckily because I went to Michael’s, Hancock Fabrics, and JoAnn‘s the lines weren’t long, the shelves were still stocked, doorbusters still available at 11:00, and everyone was in a pleasant mood! I saved a ton, parked near the front doors, and got amazing customer service! Even the other people shopping were nice!? Crazy huh!? I think this is going to be the beginning of my new black friday tradition – crazy craft shopping! I will be saving up until next year starting immediately 🙂  I managed to score a 200 dollar cricut cutter for only 60 bucks and reluctantly am going to have to wait until Christmas morning to play with it.. but once I do you better bet your bottom dollar I will have crafts out the wazoo! I also got some other awesome deals and fun things to keep me entertained for the next week or so that will also eventually show up on this blog 😉

It seems like lately I have had plenty of opportune times to do some serious crafting. Maybe it’s because that time management or lack there of read really got to me. If you have no idea what I am talking about see this https://underestimatedmom.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/i-am-a-blogaholic/. It’s sad but true! And since then I have managed to accomplish more than what I thought was possible and still have time to spend with my daughter and my husband. I have also been cooking a lot more which came as a total shock to me because I am not that great at it! Seems like the practice is working out though because everyone loved my chocolate caramel almond bars and my mother-in-laws cheesy potatoes! Yum Yum! 

I feel pretty lucky to be able to be a stay at home mom, do the occasional craft shopping, find the luxury of time to craft, and still enjoy the moments I have with the people I love the most .. and of course blog about it 😛 I am so lucky to be married to such an amazing man. Which brings me to my favorite things about this year:

1) This is the first year EVER since I was a baby that I don’t have to go to school or go to work in the winter! YAYYYYYYYYY!!

2) I don’t even have to step foot outside the house if I don’t want to this year! (Thank you online shopping)

3) I don’t have to get dressed up in uncomfy clothes! Bumming it all winter yeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssss!

4) I get to snuggle up in nice warm fuzzy blankets 😀

5) HOT CHOCOLATE!! I think this will be a daily drink for me. yuuuMMmmmm.

6) If I want to go outside we have a covered porch so I can let E go play while I snuggle undercover 😛

 7) The house seems to stay so much cleaner in the winter! I don’t know why but it seriously does!

8) This is the one time I actually enjoy doing the laundry .. putting on fresh warm clothes from the dryer = awesome!

9) Being cold gives me all the more reason to snuggle with B. I am sucker for cuddling!

and last but not least!

10) Having the laptop on my legs is my favorite little heater 🙂

Love Always,

J

Taco Soup

26 Nov

Taco Soup!!!

This is a meal I always have on hand CONSTANTLY. It may sound gross and look gross but oh baby it is NOT! This has been a traditional in our family since my Freshman year of highschool. My parent’s friends made a recipe that was similar to this and of course we edited to our liking. I have only met two people in my life that have tried this and didn’t like it. One – a highschool friend who didn’t like hamburger meat, beans, or tomatoes … and my husband who doesn’t like beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, basically the entire thing. He’s a very picky eater though so don’t take his word for it!

Ingredients:

One Pound of Hamburger Meat

One can of Rotel

Two cans of Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes

One can of Chili Beans

One can of Corn

One packet of Ranch Salad Dressing Seasoning

Two packets of Taco Seasoning

Directions:

In a large pot pour in Rotel, Tomatoes, Chili Beans, and Corn with the juices and everything and cook on low heat stirring occasionally. In a medium-sized skillet, ground one pound of hamburger until cooked thoroughly and then strain. Add hamburger meat to the large pot and stir. Add the two packets of taco seasonings and one packet of ranch salad dressing seasoning. Stir until mixed completely and turn to medium heat for about 6-8 minutes.

AND VOILA! It’s done!

Extra Ingredients if you so choose:

We use Scoops to put the soup into and eat like a taco!!

Other things that are fun to add, shredded lettuce, cheese, sour cream, and anything else your little heart desires!

 

This is perfect for cold weather and so easy to make its ridiculous. It is also awesome leftovers. If you are lazy like me a small-medium size bowl takes about two minutes in the microwave and it’s back to warm goodness!! Or if you are like my mother it takes a couple of minutes on the stove.

Enjoy!

Love Always,

J

Dream on Dreamer!

26 Nov

There’s some things that you should never take for granted, yet we all do on a daily basis. It’s the little things in life that make it worth living, yet all we look at is the big picture that really is out of reach. We daydream of better things, cross our fingers and hope for the best, and really we should be looking in. I am just as guilty as everyone else in this world.

My daydream life? Stay at home mom, living near a beach where the weather stays warm all year round, making crafts for a living or maybe just for fun, having another child or maybe more than two, my husband being able to work from home doing whatever it is his heart desires, my best friends living right around the corner .. or better yet right next door, and enjoying each day for what it has to offer. Is it going to happen? Lets get real here..

Out of all these things, two to three of them seem possible but the rest are probably out of reach. So why do we dwell on all these little things that are probably going to lead to disappointment when we could center are life around the things that are more reasonable?

Because we can. Because someone somewhere made it happen and maybe just maybe you can to. I love daydreaming. I love picturing my life a few years down the road. I love imagining what our house would look like, who we would meet, what E will be like when she gets older. It’s fun for me and you may think I am wasting my time or setting myself up for failure but one of these dreams, one of these things, maybe even two will come true. Because I can make it happen. Because I believed.

The difference between believing in your dreams and living in a dream is what makes this post what it is. As much as I love daydreaming about the future, I still live in the now. I make reasonable choices and decisions that could possibly lead to dreams but more importantly I put the dreams aside when B or E need me because that is what’s important and taking them for granted for a dream would ruin me.

So dream on dreamers but keep in mind your going to look back at these days and remember and love the little moments that made your life what it is and not your millions of daydreams 😉 Just those few awesome ones you never forget!

Love Always,

J

Wrapping it Up ;)

25 Nov

Aren’t those block letters you find at craft stores just addicting!? I also want to go in and buy initials or someones name (especially mine) to decorate just for fun! Well my Mom and Dad bought me E’s letters and I found this piece of wood lying around the house that wasn’t being used for anything and I got a brilliant idea! Wrapping paper so easy to use for decorating things like picture frames, wood letters, really anything!

What you need:

I originally used Elmer’s glue (wet) for this and it made the wrapping paper bubble up so I ripped it off and used the adhesive spray instead. It works SO MUCH BETTER!

A box to put whatever you spraying adhesive on into so you don’t get glue everywhere!

Wrapping paper of your choice

Scissors

X-acto knife comes in handy here! (and a rubber mat if you are using a knife)

How to:

Cut the wrapping paper so that there are leftover edges along the letter.

Spray adhesive to the wooden letter.

Lay the wooden letter adhesive side down on top of the wrapping paper and place a heavy object on it to keep it firm and to push it down.

Let it dry for 3-5 minutes.

Take the heavy object off and use the scissors to cut along the letter but not too close that it’s hard to x-acto later.

Take the x-acto knife and with the wooden letter facing upside down so that the paper is on top of the mat, use the knife to drag across the edges of the wooden letter. Flip over and if there are any places that were too tight to get into or didn’t cut all the way carefully use the knife to edge across it and take off the extra paper. Tada!!! All done!

Of course I did the other letters of the name but you all know her as E so this is the finished product for you 😉

Have fun!!

Love Always,

J

Homemade Christmas Ornaments #2

25 Nov

After I played around with the scrap tissue paper ornaments I decided to try beads 🙂 It was time consuming but I think they turned out pretty well!

Love Always,

J

Smoked Almond Chocolate Shortbread

24 Nov

If you don’t like almonds, JOIN THE CLUB! But I made these anyways because they looked so good and after a bit of a failure to begin with these things turned out great! Even for all of the almond haters like me!

Ingredients:

Shortbread:

1/2 cup (2 ounces) smoked (or roasted) almonds

1/2 cups of flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

10 tablespoons of softened butter (plus additional for the pan)

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon of almond extract

Chocolate Caramel:

11 ounces (2 cups) milk chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup of water

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup of heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of sea salt or smoked salt (optional .. i optioned out)

Directions:

Shortbread:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9×9 inch pan with parchment paper or foil. Butter the interior of the paper or foil. Grind smoked almonds in food processor or use the slap chop like me (too much fun) until the consistency of coarse corn meal. In medium bowl, whisk together ground almonds, four, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and almond extract with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture in two batches mixing until crumbly, but sticky dough forms. Press down evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Chocolate Caramel:

Place chocolate in medium glass or stainless steel bowl and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook mixture over medium heat 10-12 minutes until mixture coast the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and salt. Return to heat and simmer over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Simmer 2-3 minutes. Pour mixture over chocolate and let it stand for two minutes. Stir until smooth and let it stand to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture over shortbread and allow to cool for about 30 minutes and then refrigerate overnight. (It says about 5 hours but mine took way more than that!!)

I give this 3 and a half stars. It turned out great but I am not crazy in love with it so I’ll try another recipe soon 🙂

Enjoy!

Love Always,

J

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