Sunday, January 20, 2013

Create a CHEAP Project Life Organizer!

Quite some time ago, I scored a wooden cassette tape holder at my local Goodwill (for only $1.49) just knowing it would come in handy for some future organizing project. So today when I stumbled upon it in my organizing junk yard (where all good organizing pieces go until I can find a use for them), I was so excited!
I knew it was going to make a great Project Life organizer for all the little elements I want to keep handy as I start my first PL-esque album. I just removed the slots as needed to "customize" the cubby sizes and viola!

Now everything is right at my fingertips and ready to go!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quite Unique!

I just love hearing about new businesses created by people who think a little more out-of-the-box and this morning I discovered just one of those type of companies! YEA!

Many of us are addicted to sites like Groupon that allow us to pre-buy goods and services at a great discount. With deals like the one I scored last week (two movie tickets and a large popcorn for only $10.) What's not to love?!! Well, now there is a daily deal site for handmade goods called Quite Unique! How cool is that?! Getting great deals and supporting our fellow crafters at the same time!

Here is just one example of a previous deal....
A charming necklace to benefit Japan Disaster Relief. A unique handmade item with 100% of profits going to Japan...even cooler!!!

enjoy shopping and helping others at the same time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

On the Menu Monday!

I realized I haven't eaten a home-cooked meal in over a week! No wonder I'm exhausted and feeling run down. Living on hospital cafeteria and restaurant food is not the best option, but sometimes we just have no choice. Don't get me wrong; I LOVE to eat out! Just not everyday for over a week.

Since I am back home and finally have some down-time, I decided to purge a bunch of magazines (pulling out what I liked and recycling the rest). I found some great tips and inspiration, along with some yummy-sounding recipes I'm excited to try out.

Here's some of what I found:

~ Added to my Book Wish List: Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan. It is a story of her love of pastries and Paris complete with whimsical drawings and yummy recipes I can't wait to try. She also has a blog....check it out.

~ Precious/Sorrento Cheese is offering a FREE 46-page downloadable pasta cookbook.

~ Rachael Ray Magazine and On-Cor announced a contest to win a NYC Rachael Ray Show Getaway Package! Enter here.....Good luck!

~ Have you noticed how mini-desserts are all the rave now? These shot glasses of decadence somehow make us feel less guilty because of their tiny size. As if calories only count on full size servings. Or maybe it's so we can have a sampling of more than one flavor? I'm not sure, but I agree....I love them! Move over Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs, I may just serve up my own mini- dessert bar at my next gathering!

Pier 1 Imports offers up a wonderful guide to hosting Tasting parties.  their website is packed with great ideas and recipes. Here is one that I am anxious to test out:

Serve in 12 mini shot glasses.

3 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp sugar
8-oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
4 oz baking chocolate or chocolate chips
8-oz whipped topping
chocolate shavings or wafers for garnish
  • Melt butter in microwave bowl, add cracker crumbs and sugar, mix thoroughly. Place about a teaspoon of mixture in the bottom of each glass. Press down.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy.
  • In smaller microwavable mixing bowl, melt together milk and chocolate until melted and creamy. Add to cream cheese mixture, mix thoroughly. gently fold in whipped topping.
  • Fill each glass to the top with chocolate mousse. Garnish with a dollop of whipped topping and chocolate shavings or wafers.
Enjoy the "little" things in life!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All Things....Big and Small

Sometimes life throws out a curve ball. Something happens that makes us re-evaluate everything. Things that once seemed important, suddenly lose their priority in the daily routine. Things are just different.

The day after Valentine's Day was that kind of day. After spending two great days celebrating love and the little things in life, my family was dealt a BIG thing. We received the phone call no one ever wants to get. The one saying one of your family members is suddenly and unexpectedly....gone. Forever. Just like that. No time to say goodbye; no time to remember to do or say the things you were thinking. Just gone.

Suddenly the things I write about here seemed trivial and unimportant. I couldn't bring my fingers to the keyboard without thinking there just isn't anything I can say that is significant enough in this moment. So I took a hiatus. I needed time to let my heart grieve and for my head to try and make sense of what was happening. And now a month and a half later, my fingers return to the keyboard and I pay homage to the little things.

My cousin was an avid reader; a lover and collector of books. She had great passionate for what she believed in. She was a strong advocate for her children. She dared to travel her own path in life; to be her own person. She loved to roller skate in the living room when she was little. She gave a smile to you every time you saw her. These little things made up who she was and how she will be remembered.

And so, in her honor, I will return to writing about the little things that make up my world and who I am. Living life doing the things I want to be remembered for. Organizing, writing, scrapbooking, and decorating might seem trivial to others.....but these truly are the little things that make up who I am. And I owe it to the girl who wouldn't let others dictate how she should live her life, to live mine doing what makes me feel fulfilled.

Rest in peace, Carole. I hope heaven has a really big library, an endless-supply of homemade cinnamon rolls, and maybe even...a place to roller skate!

enjoy the little things and the people you love everyday.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Perfect Brownies.....Who Can Resist?!!

When it comes to chocolate I have some serious weaknesses. One of my favorite chocolate indulgences are Brownies! Who doesn't love a perfectly baked, warm-from-the-oven, fudgy piece of heaven?!

After trying a brownie baked in my dear friend's new brownie pan - the kind that makes each brownie look as if it was baked individually - I was hooked! I have all too much experience with ragged-edged brownies that taste wonderful but look a bit scrappy by the time I get them cut and on to a serving plate. I need what this type of pan can offer...."individual" brownies that look as fabulous as they taste.

Well, as luck would have it, I was perusing Kohl's the other day (gift card burning in my wallet) when I spotted The Perfect Brownie Pan Kit nestled low on a clearance shelf. I wasn't sure this was the same pan as my friend had used, but the concept seemed to be the same. For only $9.99 I was willing to take a chance and try it out.

Using a box mix (the only way to go in my opinion), I decided to put the pan to the test. It was so easy and the results were amazing! I LOVE having the brownies cut and ready to serve without the crumbly mess that used to be seemingly unavoidable. The nonstick pan didn't require a grease/flour prep like my glass pan and the clean up was effortless!

I give this pan a giant thumps UP!

If you want to find the clearance deal at Kohl's....act quickly! I noticed it was already removed from their website. There are other online sellers if you can't find it at your Kohl's; the best deal being found at for the price of $19.95 for two pans (one for you, one for a gift) plus $8.95 shipping and handling.

enjoy the chocolatey goodness of fresh-baked brownies!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting away...without leaving home!

Wishing for a romantic, calming spa getaway to celebrate Valentine's day this year? But, like most of us, the pains of the post-holiday budget won't allow the indulgence?

Well, think again.....It is soooo easy to create a spa mood without leaving home and spending a bundle. It just takes a little planning, some creativity, and some scheduled time!

First, identify what soothes and relaxes you. For me it's candles, soft music, some wine and a hot, bubble bath. Then decide which bathroom has the best bathtub and room to pull it off (for me it is my guest bath - perfectly decorated in tropical accents to further create a far-from-home feeling).

Next, grab the necessary items from around your house to pull the room together. I grabbed a small, bamboo picnic end tables from the garage, an extra stool, a glass ice bucket from the bar filled with ice, a bottle (okay two!) of our favorite wine, a decorative scallop shell, a wine opener, a bunch of white candles (in various sizes), a throw pillow, a bamboo silk plant, my portable iPod player and iPod, a few of my best fluffy, white towels (rolled), and an extra towel to tack over the skylight to buffer the natural light.
I went to town setting the stage to allow for easy access from the tub while striving to keep a clean, crisp look. Elegant simplicity can be the most romantic. I opened (then gently re-corked) the wine and placed it in the bucket to chill. I placed the scallop shell and a couple votive candles next to it to reflect light off of the ice bucket...all set on the bamboo end table next to the tub. On the stool, located at the other end of the tub, I placed the rolled towels and the silk plant with the pillow and couple more candles at it's base on the floor. I tacked the extra towel over the skylight so the candlelight would be the most dominate. I ensured I had a lengthy, slow music mix on my iPod playlist to keep from having to change the music out one the relaxing began. I pre-lit all the candles to ensure the lighting was enough and placement was just right, then blew them out until it was "go" time. When I knew it was almost time for the surprise to be revealed, I filled the tub with tons of bubbles and the hottest water possible (to ensure it wouldn't cool too much, too soon).

To add to the tranquility of the evening, I pre-made dinner and left it in the crock pot to keep warm so after our spa experience dinner would be ready and waiting. It all went off without a hitch and we both reveled in the total relaxation we soaked up!

enjoy creating your own spa oasis....for time you long for a romantic getaway!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's that time of year again....

You know...that one particular holiday that is suppose to be all about love and romance, but usually ends up being about over-priced roses and long waits for restaurant seating.
I love Valentine's Day, I proudly admit that, but I do not love the over-hyped, over-priced pressures that have been put upon this day by the retail industry (candy, card, and jewelry sellers alike). Who would have thought that one little, non-federal holiday could create such high levels of stress and anxiety between couples everywhere?! But it does.

Women start daydreaming that this is the year their favorite, romantic movie scene will play out. Her prince charming will sweep her off her feet and fulfill her every fantasy. Okay,'s time to WAKE UP! Even the most-romantic men rarely (if ever) show up with a white, horse-drawn carriage to whisk you away to a private, candle-lit restaurant, while a pianist plays and you sip wine and dance the night away (unless you're suddenly cast in As the World Turns.)
It's time to quit setting ourselves up for disappointment and it's time to let the men in our lives breathe a little easier. It's time we take a bit of the pressure and expectations off of this holiday.

 After reading a Cosmo article featuring what men wanted us to know about Valentine's Day, I had an epiphany. The article quoted one man as saying he wanted his girlfriend to be honest about what she wanted from him this year. Previously she'd said she didn't need anything for V-Day, then when a co-worker received a larger bouquet of roses (36 to her 6), she got bent out of shape!

It got me thinking. Thinking about what I would say I wanted. But, what did I really want this year? I wasn't sure. I hadn't really thought about it until that moment.

Times are tougher for us this year and I don't want money spent simply out of obligation. I've had the "it" thing the jewelry store was promoting just because it's Valentine's Day. It isn't as special when women across America all get the identical necklace! Truly! What I really want is just a cozy, romantic evening. Something he puts his own thought and effort into. So, I headed home to tell him, straight-up, what I wanted this year.

I told him about the article I had read and about my thoughts that followed. Then I added a little twist. I said, "I want creativity, effort and romance. So, to ensure all of that, I'm setting a $20 expense cap on the evening!" He about fell out of his chair! Certainly a budget like that wouldn't allow fancy restaurants or elaborate floral arrangements. My thoughts exactly! He agreed and we decided he would take Sunday the 13th for his creative endeavour and I'd take Monday the 14th.

In the end we'll get two days of romance for a mere $40! It will take plenty of effort on both our parts to pull it off, but knowing we put aside the commercialism of the holiday to return to the true heart of the occasion will be priceless.

I'll report back on how Operation 20 turns out! ;)

enjoy your celebration of love, however you choose to spend it!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Takin' a bit of southern goodness home with me...

I LOVE Cracker Barrel restaurants! The problem is the "closest" one to me is in Boise, Idaho (which isn't at all close to where I live or travel to). Soooo, I decided to do a little digging and see if I could re-create some Cracker Barrel goodness after I return home from my southern vacation.

Jackpot! I found some copycat recipes at Recipe Lion!

While waiting in the gift store last weekend I spotted jars of their Fried Apples. They looked delish!!! I wanted to try them out at dessert time....but after eating dinner, I just didn't have room. I'm planning to indulge tomorrow night when I make my last (sniffle, sniffle) visit before heading back home.

They sell them online too, so if when I become addicted I can always have them delivered. Although shipping takes time...I may need to cook my own! If you want to start enjoying these asap as well, here is the copycat recipe compliments of Recipe Lion! Yea!

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Fried Apples
Cooking Time: 20 min


6 large tart green Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup bacon drippings
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg


1. In a large skillet, melt bacon drippings.
*Bacon drippings adds a crisp flavor to this copycat fried apple recipe.
2. Pour apples evenly into the skillet. Sprinkle with lemon juice, brown sugar and salt.
3. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes, until apples are tender and juicy.
4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

enjoy re-creating what you love in your own kitchen!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Elegant Simplicity

When decorating your home for the holidays, sometimes the simplest look is the most elegant (and romantic). Sure, big, glittery hearts have their place this time of year, but sometimes a more subtle decor option has the biggest effect.
This shelf vignette was posted by Jessica at Craftily Ever After and I love it! She designed the subway art herself and framed it. With the addition of a couple candles, candleholders, and flower balls, the look is complete.
Like most people, over the years I have acquired a ton of extra picture frames - in every size imaginable. Realizing nobody really needs that many frames, I was getting ready to donate a bunch to the Goodwill when I had an idea. I could keep just a few frames (for specific rooms/walls), and simply "swap out" the images each holiday making it seem as though I have a huge inventory of great seasonal artwork without having to take up priceless room in the garage!

enjoy the romance and elegance of simplicity.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Embellishments Squared - Organizing the little stuff

Every crafter is challenged with finding the best way to store their teeny-tiny embellishments or findings. There are soooooo many options out there (and believe me I have tried most of them), but this is by far my favorite.
I came across the idea rather by accident.... I was in a Tuesday Morning store when I spotted Crop in Style plastic containers at a price I couldn't pass up (the same price I paid as a retailer when I owned my store). My mom was going to be re-doing her stamp room and I thought they might came in handy so I bought all that the packages they had on the shelf. I gave some to my mom and stashed one box away for a future organization article and never really thought about them again. That is until I moved and was re-doing my own studio.

IKEA jars

I no longer had the cupboard with slide-out drawers that previously housed the majority of my IKEA jars and I was struggling to find somewhere to put them in the new, much smaller room. I wanted them all in one spot this time (a few had lined the edge of my desktop before), yet still within arms reach. I tried my desk drawers but, unfortunately, the IKEA jars didn't fit into the lower-profile drawers. Suddenly, I remembered having those plastic containers and a light bulb went off! They were more compact, and they were square so they would lie down without rolling around and I would be see the contents easily when they were on their sides! I opened the brand new box, tried them out for size and they fit perfectly! Jackpot!

Available at Michael's    $9.99 a pack

As I began switching the contents from the old to the new containers I realized I didn't have near enough of them. I hoped I would be able to find more at my local Michael's store. When I got to the store, coupon in hand, I discovered a slight difference. They were no longer manufactured by Crop in Style, but rather Michael's themselves (price $9.99). They were exactly the same size so I grabbed one and vowed to buy one more each visit (so I could keep using the 40% off coupons) until my drawer was completely full. Happily, on my third visit I was able to buy the remaining packs for 50% off during their storage supply sale! Mission complete.

Problem solved! 27 containers in all.
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You may have noticed that all the embellishments I've stored in this system are primarily metallic. That is because I use floss boxes to store my colored embellishments by individual color. Check that out here.

enjoy the changes in life that that turn out to be so much better than the original!