Monday, December 31, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new

Wow, 2012 is almost over.  How did that happen?  2012 has been a year of home improvements.  Maybe not quite as many changes as 2011.  But we've settled into a rhythm at our house.  And we've started our second year of marriage.  And I'm finally figuring out how long it takes to get dinner ready.  It's been a great year, I'm looking forward to what 2013 will hold.

So, let's look back at all the home improvements we accomplished over the year.


I painted the basement over Christmas.  We went from dingy cream colored walls to a light celery green.


February is always kind of a lull at our house.  It's too cold to go anywhere.  We've hit total cabin fever.  So there weren't really any major house pictures in February.  We took a little mini-vacation to Lake of the Ozarks and then to Springfield to see Brad Paisley.  


My mom and I landscaped.  We planted flowers, we ripped out tons and tons of weeds.  Our new landscaping was then ripped out by our new puppy in April.  We also got new gutters in March.  And new fascia. 

I also painted the bar in the basement.  I know the picture from January might lead you to believe I painted the bar in January, but it was really over spring break.  I kept making people come over to stare at it, weird, I know.
We went from this

To this!  Such a great change!  The hardware got a coat of ORB.  And we just pretended we liked that green tile.


In April we kept ourselves busy with the sweet little puppy I got my hubby as an early birthday present.  Turns out labs are never calm and cuddly, even as tiny puppies.  I think the only time he was calm was on the drive home.  So, there wasn't much home improving in April but there was a lot of puppy corralling and cleaning up of messes.  He was awfully cute though.

We did manage to install a new mail box in April.  One we got as a wedding gift.  So cute!


I love May.  School gets over in May and the desire to DIY seriously kicks in.  We installed 6 new light fixtures.  Two on our deck, one by each front door, one outside the basement, and a new fixture in our hallway bathroom.

I also refinished three light fixtures.  Two of which were ceiling fans.  We had some doozies of light fixtures in our house.  The most amazing was in our basement.
Before.  Man oh man, that thing is ugly.  And those are the tiniest ceiling fan blades I've ever laid eyes on.

After.  Blades were spray painted and fixture was painted with silver boat paint.

Over Memorial Day weekend we also started staining our deck.  Not the best idea I ever had.  It didn't get done until July.


In June we started work on the outside of our house.  Not big work, but work.  I also painted our mantle and built ins in the living room.
Built ins before.
Built ins after

This month I finally tackled the trim in the kitchen.  After months of my mom's nagging.  And I couldn't figure out why it took me so long to do something so small that would make such a big difference.

I also bought a new table for our front hallway.  I was supposed to meet one of my friends for breakfast and we ended up hitting a garage sale.  I brought home this little gem.
After two coats and two different colors of spray paint and new knobs I had a brand new table.


Man oh man, it was hot in July.  July brought paint with it.  And stain.  We finished staining the deck.  A month and a half after we started the project.  It looks gorgeous.  I love it.  But I hated doing it.  Hated it so much.  My least favorite house project to date.

I also painted the front doors in July.  That old ugly blue is gone.  And bright shiny red is here to stay, until I get tired of it anyway.

We also re-floored the front entryway in July.  We went from ugly, curling up linoleum to nice brown tile.


My mom and I refinished a table.  We also made a faux Roman shade.

We started working on the trim to go up on the outside of our house.  We also started painting the outside of the house.  And that's still not done yet.  Don't judge.


I made some sweet paintings for our living room and bedroom.

And there was more painting outside.  Always more painting.  And I found out I'm allergic to the whole world.  


We took another mini-vacation.  Our anniversary tradition, just a month early.  We went to Lake of the Ozarks and stayed at a the resort my husband lived at when we started dating.

In September I also got super excited about fall and created a fall fireplace.


My elementary kids at work helped make decorations for a Veterans Day Assembly.  I also made some sweet flannel envelope pillow covers.

I made an adorable tray that almost did me in.  Ug.  Seriously.


Oh boy, November brought a mini-series:  No-Clutter-November.  I tackled my laundry room and bathroom cabinet.  The success was the bathroom cabinet.  It's still totally snoop worthy, especially since I painted the inside of it.

I participated in the Fall Pinterest Challenge by making a couple of sweet little wreaths.


Man, in November our TV broke and we were left looking like rednecks.  Bad news, that's how we're still living too, one TV in front of a broken TV.  And in November I went on my first ever duck hunting trip with my husband.

Another friend and I threw a baby shower for one of our favorite friends.  I also made that friend a bunting for her nursery.

I did some fun little projects for Dare to DIY.  I made these fun little glitter candle holders for the Dare to Entertain challenge.


In the third challenge for Dare to DIY I made a homemade project to gift, a sweet little wreath.

In December I pretty much glittered and crafted anything I could get my hands on.  Man oh man, do I love decorating for Christmas.

All in all, 2012 has been great.  I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring.  One thing I know for sure, there will be new kitchen floors in 2013.  Right now there are samples laying all over the place.

So, how bout you?  How was your 2012?  What are you doing tonight for New Year's Eve?  Any great plans for 2013?  We're spending tonight curled up on the couch watching Mad Men with a bottle of wine.  We really know how to live it up.  Have a safe and happy new year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Excuse Me!

We are attending the baby shower of a couple close friends this weekend.  I've become more practical with baby gifts lately.  Maybe it comes from knowing more people with small children.  Anymore, I almost always buy diapers.  I know diapers can get insanely expensive after a while.  So I go for diapers and a couple small, practical things.  The other day on Pinterest I came across some super cute burp cloths.  Just plain old pre-fold washable diapers with some fun fabric sewn on.  Done and done!

I picked up a ten pack of Gerber pre-fold diapers and half a yard of monkey fabric.  I wrongly assumed I could do ten burp cloths with half a yard of fabric.  I had to go buy another half a yard today.  This time I got some cute Mizzou fabric.  I briefly considered something else, it seemed wrong to spit up on Mizzou fabric, but....  I went with it anyway.  The monkey burp cloths didn't come out quite as well, the flannel was a little harder to work with than just plain cotton.  BTW, I washed everything in hot and dried on high to prevent later shrinkage.

Mizzou burp cloths.  All wrapped up and ready to gift.  I failed to take a picture before I wrapped them.

Monkeys!  Okay, seriously, how cute are these!  Just waiting for ribbon.

The monkeys are all wrapped up and ready to be gifted tomorrow.

So, what else did I get?  Well, aside from the diapers and burp cloths, we got them a big package of wipes and a cute little stuffed tiger that has a shocking resemblance to Truman the Tiger, he was on clearance at Target.  Adorable!

The burp cloths didn't really turn out exactly perfectly, turns out diapers are harder to sew than I imagined they would be.  All in all though, pretty happy with the results.

On Monday I'll be back with painting.  I've been working on the bathroom walls today and I'm maybe painting the hallway on Monday.  Haven't quite decided yet.

Do you have a go to baby gift?  Are you a practical or fun gift giver?  Anybody else headed to a co-ed baby shower?

Thursday, December 27, 2012


This post has nothing at all to do with chocolate.  However, I cannot stop eating chocolate.  Tomorrow I have to stop.  And then I have to go to the gym.  And then drink a lot of water instead of hot chocolate or root beer.  Ug.

Today I am supposed to be cleaning the house.  It has been in that post Christmas/post traveling disaster.  Clothes everywhere.  Christmas presents everywhere.  A shocking amount of shoes strewn around the house.  A cluttered bathroom with walls waiting to be painted.  And I don't want to do anything about any of it.  I have gotten the living room picked up and am ready to vacuum.  The kitchen is under control and even swept and mopped.  And most of the Christmas presents are put away.  I'm about to start sewing a baby present.

So, since I'm obviously avoiding doing actual work, let's see what I got for Christmas.  My sweet hubby got me a new charm for my Pandora bracelet.  A cupcake.  And we're eventually getting a new living room TV for our big present.  My in-laws also got me a new Pandora charm, a sea shell, they're taking us all to the beach this summer for our Christmas present.  I am so blessed to have married into such a wonderful family. Not because they take me to Florida to vacation, but just because they are super nice and wonderful people.  I've inherited great cousins too, girls I really love hanging out with.

Okay, back to Christmas.  I got lots of great new house stuff.  My living room cozy factor has seriously been increased.
That is a new leopard print throw you see in the background.  I loooove it.  With the whole extended in-law family, we draw names.  One of the cousins I work with had my name.  She totally knows my favorite winter goodies.  I got a basket loaded with this cozy leopard print throw, a bottle of Moscato, a travel coffee cup, hot chocolate, and a yummy candle.  Perfect present.  I loved it so much.  

A pretty new turquoise and silver lamp.  Ooh, it's so nice.  That was from my sister.  We draw names with my family too, since with boyfriends & husbands included, there are 9 of us.  Nine in my immediate family.  Sheesh.  My oldest sister had my name.  I got this shiny new lamp base (Target) and fancy turquoise shade (Lowes).  It replaced the tiny lamp I had before that I'd made the leopard print shade for.  So much nicer.  And the pattern looks like the flooring my parents had in the 80s.  Amazing.

And in the background of this picture you can see a turquoise sweater-y throw.  That's from my sweet Mama.  So cozy.  We curled up under it last night and watched some TV.  And there's a book.  A Nicholas Sparks book.  Every year my husband buys me a book for Christmas.  This may seem like a super non-romantic gift.  But it's really the sweetest.  The first year we were dating he got my a subscription to Real Simple (this man seriously knows the way to my heart).  And every year since then I've gotten what he fondly refers to as a "trashy romance novel"  Every year it's something different.  And every year it ends up being a book I love.  It's so luxurious to spend a whole day during Christmas curled up, being lazy, reading my book.  I love it so much.  He totally knows how to take care of me.

And now it's time for me to be productive.  It really has to be done.  I have some burp cloths to make for a baby shower on Saturday.  Cloth diapers and monkey print flannel are waiting in the dryer, they've now been pre-shrunk and are ready to be sewn.

How was your Christmas?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Minute Gifts

Oh boy.  So I had forgotten about a couple more projects I made this week.  It's seriously been an insane week of last minute crafting.  Teach me to not put things off anymore.  Okay, probably not really.  I finished everything up Wednesday night, I'm just a failure and forgot to blog about them on Thursday when I posted about everything else.  So, this is it until Christmas.

I made one last Secret Santa gift.  I had totally seen it on Pinterest, no original ideas here.  I just used a basic acrylic picture frame from the DG, some scrapbook paper I already had, glue dots, and I picked up some butterfly shaped Post-Its.  I thought it turned out super cute.  It was supposed to be my Thursday gift but since I wimped out because of snow Thursday it's getting gifted today along with the big present.  I kind of want to make one for myself.
Okay, the paper I used is honestly a little country for my taste, but the teacher I was gifting it to likes primitives and her favorite color is purple so I thought it worked.  The tag does actually say her name, it's just blocked out for privacy.

And I had one more homemade present for my sister for her birthday.  Since she was the one that supplied the bottle caps for my bottle cap tray, I thought it was only right that I make one for her too.  I actually like hers better than mine.  I just used a wooden tray from JoAnns.  Since I'd heard horror stories about the wood trays leaking, I caulked all the seams like I did on my first one.  Then I painted it with silver craft paint, I would've like to spray paint it, but it's too cold out for spray paint to dry properly.  And this time I got smart.  I laid all my bottle caps out first to make sure I spaced them properly, there are 63 of 'em if you're curious.  Then I hot glued them down so I wouldn't have any floaters.  I had a couple that didn't cooperate, but it worked so much better than just laying them in and pouring in the acrylic water.  All in all, very happy with the end result.  I may have gone picture crazy....

And if you're paying attention, every single bottle cap is different.  That's a lot of beer drinking.  And a cream soda & ginger ale.  Don't worry, they were drank by multiple people over a long period of time.

So, this is it until after Christmas.  From my house to yours, wishing you a very safe and happy Christmas!  Stay warm and cozy and enjoy your loved ones!  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Candy Man Can

Making divinity is terrifying.
Making divinity is time consuming.
I'm waiting for my candy to hit the hard ball stage......
Getting closer, it is at soft ball.
This is why I usually sit in the floor and read a book.
Real time candy making blogging is not super exciting.
Until you have to pour the boiling hot sugar mixture, that's when it becomes terrifying.
And sometimes when you pour the crazy hot sugar into your mixer, you accidentally make a sugar spider web on your mixer thingy.
Now you're mixing away....  It takes forever.  If you have a hand mixer, it is at this point that you're desperately wishing for a stand mixer.

Okay, so the recipe for divinity.  I promise, it's really not that hard.  I make it for my husband and we take it to share when we go to his family's for Christmas.  I truly love making the "family" recipes.  All those things that you remember your grandma making.  My granny always made candy.  I remember sitting at the breakfast table in her kitchen in a green vinyl covered chair, eating divinity.  I always think she would be proud of my candy making.  I'm pretty sure this is the same recipe she used, it's out of a 1960s Betty Crocker.

2 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup chopped nuts (I never put the nuts in because I think nuts are gross in food)

Mix sugar, corn syrup and water in sauce pan.  Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved (use a whisk, you'll thank me).  Then cook without stirring to 260 degrees (hard ball).  Remove from heat and pour constantly, in a fine stream into the beaten egg whites.  Add vanilla and continue beating until mixture holds its shape and becomes slightly dull.  Fold in nuts.  Drop quickly from the tip of buttered spoon onto waxed paper in individual peaks, or spread in a buttered pan and cut into 1" squares when firm.

I hear it's really good.  I'm not much of a fun of divinity anymore.  Granny let me eat too much, I think.  The cooking and not stirring is the most terrifying.  I'm always sure I"m going to ruin it.  I haven't yet though.  And, not to brag, but I am amazing at separating eggs.  I'm always unnecessarily proud of myself.

So, after the divinity was done I made some Penuche for my mom.  Penuche is like brown sugar fudge.  Again, not really my favorite candy but I make it for my mom.  My granny used to make it for her when she was a kid.  I actually do use Granny's recipe for this.  A few years ago my mom made my sisters and me cookbooks of Granny's recipes.  There are copies of her handwritten recipes.  It's great.  The recipe isn't super clear and I always have to think kind of hard but it usually turns out pretty well.

2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup cream
18 marshmallows (the full size ones)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine brown sugar, butter (use real butter!), and cream (I use heavy whipping cream).  Cook on medium high heat until mixture reaches Soft Ball stage.   (The recipe says until it threads, but I've come to the conclusion that "threads" is about Soft Ball stage).  Remove from heat mix in marshmallows and vanilla.  Stir hard  to combine.  Pour into a greased 8x8" pan to cool.  When cooled, cut into squares.
You really do have to stir hard to get the marshmallows melted and combined.  And here's my Penuche cooling, waiting to be sliced.

What kind of Christmas goodies do you make at your house?

Winter Wonderland

Overnight we got our first snow of the year.  Snow is not nearly as fun as an adult.  I'm only okay with snow if I don't have to go anywhere and can stay home and be cozy.  Well, I live an hour north of where I work, meaning weather is very different here today than it is at my school.  All the schools right around me are closed due to snow, my school is in session.  But I'm at home in yoga pants and my husband's Eddie Bauer sweatshirt.  I decided the roads were too bad to go out.  There's snow and 45 mile an hour winds.  The perfect reason to stay home.  So I'm home and cozy with a blanket and hot chocolate.
The start to my morning.  Hot chocolate with marshmallows and my phone, waiting for my husband to text that he got to work safely.

My view this morning.  Yes, that's through my sliding glass door with the screen door.  It's too cold to go out.  That just doesn't even look good to me.  Ug.

But, my self-mandated snow day means I have time to make Christmas candy today without having to rush.  I also finished some amazing craft projects last night.  Oh boy!  So, I'll be back later with Christmas candy and recipe.  Now it's time to get our craft on.

So, when you work in a school. it's pretty hard to draw the line at gifting.  I try to stick to a few basic people and then try to reciprocate (to a reasonable point) when other people give me gifts.  So, that's where my first craft comes in.  I had already made some of these but I just made some more.  I've seen the idea on tons of blogs and it's such a cute and easy way to dress up something simple.  I grabbed a pack of bar mops (the terry ones, not the flour sack ones) and some fabric.  The bar mops cost like $5 at Walmart and come in a 6-pack.  Score!  The fabric for the most recent towels came from Walmart, they're the Fat Quarters that cost 97 cents.  I can do four towels out of each Fat Quarter.  The ones I made the other day, I actually bought fabric at JoAnn's so they cost a little more, but still not bad.
These are the towels I made last night.  I got two coordinating patterns of fabric and I'll gift them in pairs like this.  Perfect!

I made these towels with the fabric from JoAnn's.  It was kind of expensive but I loved it so much and thought it looked exactly like my mom.

This next project I'm pretty proud of.  I found a rough idea of how to make them on pinterest.  I got the idea here.  I pulled out one of my own ear warmers and just traced it.  Then I made some giant flowers out of felt and sparkly rhinestone buttons.  And I'm in love.  I used a double layer of fleece for extra coziness.  And the back velcros closed so you don't have to worry about the head band off and on muss.
Grey ear warmer with cranberry flower.  This is my sister's birthday present.  Please ignore the lack of make up, on snow days you don't have to get pretty.

Cranberry ear warmer with a cream flower.  This one's for my mom.  
And my new hair color.  I love it so much.

Anybody else enjoying a snow day?  Or scrambling to finish last minute Christmas present crafts?  Now it's off to laundry and candy making.