Thursday, September 18, 2014

60 Wishes Memory Book

 My Mom celebrated her 60th birthday two days ago.  I've been brainstorming ideas for making it a special memory for awhile now.  One thing I did was make her a little album with cards.  Originally, I was going to send cards to the family and all her friends...it turns out it took all three months I had given myself to get the cards back from just the family.  I adapted the idea...more on this in a minute....I printed out a letter asking for the person who received it to write a special memory they have of my mom.  I also included a card and a self addressed envelope.  I found a pack of cards at Hobby Lobby I liked.
 To house these letters I made a little book.  I took two pieces of thin cardboard and cut them out to the size of a 5/7 envelope.  I also took some burlap scrapbook 'paper' and covered the front.  I had to hot glue it to keep it to stay on the board.
 On the inside, I glued down two pieces of scrapbook paper.  I punched a hole in the cover/back and each letter.
 I decided to just try to get just the family and a few of her closest friends who don't live here.
For the 'other' friends, I figured most of them would be bringing a card to the luncheon I was hosting, and I am going to hole punch the cards and put these in the same book so she can have a memory of all the people that helped celebrate her 60th...both near and far.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Mom's 60th

 This past weekend I held a party to celebrate my Mom's birthday.  It was a no boys allowed sort of event, which means today (her 'real' birthday) the boys will be invited.  I held it at a little tea room in Richardson, Chocolate Angel-the same place I had my 30th.
 They pretty much have all the adorable decorations you could want in the Chantilly room, but....I brought a few of my own b/c that's the kind of girl I am!
 I went through my aunt's old albums and found some old school pictures I copied and printed out.
 I grabbed some flowers.
 And some bottled Dr. Pepper, my Mom's all time favorite drink.  I added a pink straw to jazz it up.
 Even though dessert came with the meal, I decided I wanted a dessert favor as well, so I bought some individual bundt cakes and added a tag, ribbon, flower etc, which I blogged about here.
 The packaging is already cute, but....I feel the need to add ribbon to everything.
 I put them around the tables.
 I am so grateful for the ladies that came out to celebrate with my mom.
 I know they have each been a blessing, and I'm constantly reminded that these are the type of friends I want to have 'when I grow up,' but more importantly, the kind of friend I want to be.
 No doubt, it's not a hardship to be friends with my Mom-her glass is always half full.  I call her unrealistically optimistic.  She's a peace maker...which is good considering I'm her daughter and I do like to battle it out.
 I'm grateful that for 35 of her years, she's been dedicated to being my Mom.
 Happy 60th, Mom!  Here's to 60 more!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sixty Invitation

This past weekend I hosted a lunch for my Mom in honor of her sixtieth birthday (tomorrow)...which is tomorrow.  I hunted around for awhile for the 'perfect' invite.  I was going with the pink and black theme.  I found this chalkboard card from tinyprints.  I get nothing for saying this, but I like the way they turned out.  I went through my aunt's old photos and found a photo from when my Mom was in second grade.  I blew it up and added it to the invite.  Lot's more details to come celebrating my Mom.  :O)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rag Garland

 I made this rag wreath for an upcoming baby shower...I had a left over pink sheet from another project and I cut it into 8 inch pieces using my pinking sheers.  I ended up going and buy 1/3 yard of 4 different fabrics and doing the same.
 Don't be fooled by my helpers peaceful nap....it probably lasted all of .2 seconds before she was running around the house with 14 pieces of fabric in her mouth, but....hey, look, it's my puppy whose not quite much of a puppy after a summer of growing.  Anyway...for the wreath...
I took some clothes lines and I literally just tied all the fabric onto the line.
I'm actually helping to host two showers for this friend and I think this is going to make an appearance at both!  Cowgirl and Ballet...and I'm sure plenty more after that.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

2x4 Pumpkins

 I recently bought a 2x4 for another project, but I had so many little cuts left I started creating all sorts of additional projects...including these pumpkins.  I sliced the 2x4 into different heights.  I painted it orange, and then took brown paint and a tooth brush and flicked the brush with my nail so it would create speckles.  I sanded the edges....and last....drilled a hole in the top and added a twig with some hot glue.
I had some scraps of rick rack I tied around the stem for a 'leaf.'  I'll be posting all this pumpkin's 2x4 fall friends very soon, but this was by far the easiest!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Heart Chalk Vase

 It's been far too long since I posted a good chalkboard project...never fear....I still own a can and use it often.  I saw something like this a year or so ago and decided to make my own for an upcoming...details to follow....and I'll take a 'final' picture with flowers inserted.
 I took a good ol' pickle jar and put a piece of contact paper onto the jar that I had cut into the shape of a heart.
I gave it a coat of chalkboard spray paint....my drug of choice.  I peeled off my heart when it tried and had the outline left behind where you'll be able to see the stems to my arrangement.  This would be cute filled with candy for Valentine's Day as well.  Just spray the lid another color.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Cutting Board Pumpkin

 I've adapted this idea from a few I've seen around.  I debated adding a face, but decided to keep it simple so it could last all fall.  I've been transforming quite a few kitchen items lately to add to my pumpkin collection.
I found this really ugly cutting board at the thrift store.
I sprayed it with orange paint, sanded the edges, then added a wooden leave I had my brother cut out for me (thought you could also buy a precut football shape) and then I drilled a hole and made curls with rusty wire, and added the ever wonderful raffia.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Jalapeno Spoon Bread Muffins

I brought this recipe to a party last summer....and people were hunting me down for the recipe.  I didn't invent it, but I adapted it a bit from foodtv.  It's a little flat/wetter than a corn bread, but come on-what's the main problem with cornbread?  It's a little dry sometimes.  These are so good....promise.  You can make them with or without the jalapenos, depending on your love of heat-they are great anyway you bake 'em.  So, here's the recipe for some pretty amazing muffins THAT make about 36....score!
Jalapeno Spoon Bread Muffins
*Makes 3 dozen muffins or a 9x12 pan
Ingredients:  3 pkg of cornbread mix (I like Jiffy), 1 large sweet onion (diced), 2 c. cups of Colby Monterey Jack Cheese, 2 eggs, 2 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3 t. sugar, 15 oz corn (drained), 6 oz chopped jalapenos (use the ones from the jar if you want)
Instructions:  Mix all the ingredients (don't over mix).  Pour batter into 36 greases muffin cups (about 3/4 full).  Bake for 25 minutes at 375.  Eat within a day.
You can also make these in a 9x12 cake pan, just bake for 45 minutes instead so the middle gets completely baked.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Chicken Philly Sandwich

I saw this recipe a few months back via foodfamilyfinds and I decided to try it out.  I didn't have a lot of hopes b/c it just seemed too easy.  It wasn't nearly complicated enough, but I was feeling lazy.  I.  Loved.  It. This is such a simple recipe, so delicious, and not too shabby on the calorie count...until you add the whole carbo boat you serve it in, but let's not judge.
Chicken Philly Sandwich
*makes 4 sandwiches
Ingredients:  2 T butter, 1 large yellow onion (sliced), 2 green bell peppers (sliced), 2 T. Dale's Steak Seasoning (this is actually a liquid found near the steak sauces), slices of mozzarella cheese, hoagie buns.
Instructions:  Place the  onion and bell pepper slices at the bottom of your crockpot.  Place butter on top.  Toss the three chicken breast in the seasoning and a little salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the vegetables.  Cook for 5 hours on low.  Serve on hoagie buns, melt cheese on top.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Applesauce Cookies with Caramel Frosting

 One of my, not so secret, loves are caramel apple, so when I saw this recipe via chefintraining I knew I had to try it out!  These were really good-soft, not too sweet, and just the right amount of apple and caramel and yum.
Applesauce Cookies
Applesauce Cookie Ingredients:  2 cups sugar, 1 cup shortening, 2 eggs, 2 cups applesauce, 4 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves.
Applesauce Cookie Instructions:  Heat oven to 375.  Mix flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, and cloves.  In a separate bowl cream sugar and shortening, eggs, and applesauce.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet until mixed well.  Place spoonfulls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Frost
Caramel Frosting Ingredients:
6 Tbsp butter, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla, 2 cups powdered sugar.
Caramel Frosting Instructions:  
In a saucepan over medium heat combine the butter, heavy cream, and brown sugar.  Cook and stir occasionally until mixed just until it starts to boil.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Let it cool and stir in the powdered sugar.  Spread over the cookies.
makes 2+ dozen

Friday, August 29, 2014

Brazil 2014

 First, did you know that the cashew grows attached to a fruit?  This is my fourth year to visit Brazil, but my first time to see these little beauties growing.  The Brazilians told me they usually toss the nut and just eat the fruit.  What?  Do they know what we pay for those little guys in America?  Each morning cashew juice is offered at breakfast, but I assumed it was like almond milk...not that I know how that is made either, but....it certainly wasn't attached to a fruit in my head!
 I go to Brazil for many reasons, too many to really explore in one post, but one big reason is this guy...
Bill has been to Brazil about 20 times.  He spends the entire year raising money to help build churches, wells, and just try to make life better for the folks along the river.  He's 85.  I can barely handle this trip at 35.  When I grow up, I want to be just like Bill...with, maybe, a little bit cleaner vocabulary.  He pretty much keeps us laughing from the airport, to the Amazon and back again.  
 I'm also totally inspired by this lady, Phyllis.  She keeps us sane, and organized.  She can juggle just about anything, including 6 well behaved children, 3 with special needs who are incredible-all who help out with our trip, one who has joined us the last two years and absolutely is the smile I need on the boat.  I'm inspired by his love for Jesus.  He's also one of my favorite parts of the trip and I feel blessed to get to call him friend.  Phyllis gets us all there safely, with paperwork, pills, and shots, AND organizes all the daily groups, packs all the supplies, and always comes up with new ideas to make each trip more amazing.  The last few years we've been taking this camera that prints off sticker photos on the spot.  We stick them to adorable scrapbook paper with accessories and give them to the families who usually have few to no photos.  It melts my heart.
 And then there are the people, the babies, the women who work hard from sun up to sun down.
 There is the water, the yearly flooding, the floating homes...
 I love to pull up to a village and see them waiting there...
 ....when we leave it's not uncommon for the entire village to be waving us off.
This year we were joined by a guy, Chris, who went two years ago and saw the river water that is the part of most family's daily life.  It causes all sorts of illnesses with the parasites living in the waters.  He raised enough money to buy 100 buckets this year (50 dollars each) and he gave them out from village to village and showed the villagers how to use them.  One bucket would actually keep an entire village with fresh water for 7 years.  It's pretty incredible-100 liters a day, for seven years, and it filters out all impurities.  Most of the folks on our boat were willing to try the water.  Look, it's not that I don't trust the filter, but....somebody had to be available to call the medics should the filter be a dud....so I sat out this round.
 The Amazon, no surprise, is an array of colorful flowers and fruits.  I can look around at just about any time and see our folks pulling fruit off trees to try it out-the known-bananas, pineapples, oranges, coconuts, sugar cane, Brazil nuts, and all the exotic I have no idea how to name.
This flower comes from a tree called the jumbo tree and below it's branches these petals fall and create a pink carpet.
 ...but seriously, these babies...
 At each village we get off and try to bring a little bit of pampering and fun while the doctors and dentist do their work.  We host VBS for the kids, the men often hand out fishing supplies, and the women usually try to find the women of the village and give them a break from all their chores with community, nail, hairs, crafts etc.  One afternoon, after giving out foam stickers to decorate with in the morning, one of the kids came back for the afternoon, and she had used her extra stickers to stick her puppies name across it's forehead.  She also highlighted his private area with a c.....
 This year, the flooding was taking longer than normal to go down, so there were a few villages where we set up camp in the local schools, and then a speedboat took misc groups to other  villages or floating homes to visit with the people.  Share our faith.  Hear their stories, and often give them a hug from America and let them know we love them, and are thinking about them.
I wish I had words to really wrap around all I learned this year.  I've heard it and know this well-no story is the same as the one I wrote the year before on the river.  There are new challenges (this year, it was the bugs).  But God has prepared this time for these people, and He wrote His love for them in my heart.  I feel blessed to get to see how much God loves them, and how it's impossible not to-the joy that reflect from their hearts despite their circumstances.  Each visit is a big family reunion with the translators who travel with us, then group I travel with, and the people we meet and will see one day in heaven.  This year I went to Brazil with so much chaos back at home-my house is falling apart, my Mom had a terrible fall and was facing surgery, extended family has been dealing with life altering tragedies, but I knew God called me, and the trip reminded me of how much I have, how much I am blessed with in the midst of storms, and how equipped I am to deal with the things back home with a loving Father to guide me.  Yes, it's difficult compared to what I know, but not compared to the rest of the world.  If God wants me back in Brazil next year, I'll be there, who am I to say no?  So, I place my yes back on the table and will wait to see what happens next year.