12.31.2010

To Shoe or Not to Shoe... Feedback Friday


In my house our family is expected to remove their shoes when we enter. Sometimes a quick scoot across the wood floor in the kitchen doesn't hurt, but for the most part, we've taught our kids to remove their shoes when they enter our house or any other house. It just saves my carpets and makes clean up easier. I'm sure many of you have the same rules.

Now that the holidays are here, there are many opportunities to entertain in your home. Do your "rules" change? I have a friend who hosted an adult birthday party and posted signs at every door for people to remove their shoes and another friend who insists you leave your shoes on if you are comfortable.

It's Feedback Friday...

As a hostess, do you expect guests to follow the same rules as your family in regards to wearing shoes in your home?

Would you go so far as to post signs?

As a guest does it make a difference to you?


If you are planning a night out for New Year's Eve tonight, you might want to Check out a post from last year: Jazz it up for New Year's Eve! For more inspiration check out this week's Tutorial Tuesday links.
.

12.29.2010

Why Don't You...Store Your Christmas Lights?


It's almost time to take down the tree, I'm counting the days until January 1st when my tree comes down. I want my house back!

Here are a few tips I've collected so you can avoid the dreaded ball 'o lights next year.

Martha suggests storing lights on pieces of cardboard with slits cut into the top and bottom to secure the cord.



Several sources recommended winding them around the empty wrapping paper tubes.

This creepy-voiced lady has a nifty idea that reuses plastic shopping bags:



Or you could just loop them around your hand, then, plug the ends into each other and hope for the best, like I do!

Don't forget Tutorial Tuesday is going strong! Scroll down to join in with your own tutorials...

.

12.28.2010

Tutorial Tuesday

Hope Studios


Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to "teach me stuff" counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

Scroll down to see some Stuff I Learned from last week!

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios






12.27.2010

Stuff I Learned!

I'm going to share your tutorials today rather than one of my own. I'm exhausted, people! So, check out some Stuff I Learned...

Ivy Cottage's Ball jars full of Christmas lights!



Lemon Tree's Christmas Card Display



Smilemonsters' Sucker Covers



Don't throw away your Bread Tags!

Don't throw away your Paper Towel Tubes!

CLICK PICKS:

#1 Clipboards By Cleverly Inspired

#2 Paper Rosette Wreath, Lovely Crafty Home

#3 Caramel Heavenlies, Organize Your Stuff Now

Come on back tomorrow to link up your own tutorials for Tutorial Tuesday!

.

12.25.2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope your Christmas is Beachy Keen!


12.24.2010

The Plastic Obsession - Feedback Friday


It seems that plastic surgery is the answer to all your prayers. According to E!, it can guarantee a perfect wedding. The contestants on Bridalplasty compete with one another for the ultimate prize...plastic surgery. Here is a full description of this new competition show:

Each week, a group of women competes head-to-head in such challenges as writing wedding vows and planning honeymoons. The winner receives the chance to choose a plastic surgery procedure from her “wish list.” She’s given the procedure immediately, and results are shown at the start of the following week’s episode.

One by one, the women are voted out by their competitors and, according to the show’s description, “possibly walking away with nothing and losing [their] chance to be the perfect bride.”

The last bride standing will receive a “dream wedding,” where she will reveal her new appearance to friends, family and the groom. “Viewers will witness his emotional and possibly shocked reaction as they stand at the altar and he lifts her veil to see her for the first time following her extreme plastic surgery,” E! said.



I watched an episode this week for the first time, and one of the contestants was sent packing with the final words "Your wedding will still go on...it just won't be perfect." Thoughts, comments?

It's Feedback Friday, let's hear your impressions of the new show Bridalplasty!

.

12.23.2010

Tour of Lights!



Join us on our holiday tour of Historic Hartwood Acres this Christmas! We always surprise the kids on the night we tour the lights by hiding a Polar Express train ticket and a bag of goodies for them to find.



After lots of screaming "It's time to see the lights! It's time to see the lights!" we gather up our snacks and hot chocolate waits for us in the car and we head out to view the fantastic light display. Punch your ticket, it's time for our Polar Express Tour of Lights!

Here is the Hartwood Mansion lit with blue lights and icicles. It is breathtaking when you turn the corner.



Want to see more? Jump in our car, we'll take you with us:



Merry Christmas!

12.22.2010

Why Don't You...Prep Presents Before You Wrap?


A simple tip to make Christmas morning run a little smoother is to really prep your gifts before you wrap them. Less frustration = happier kids = happier parents.

Take a minute to evaluate what each gift needs before the wrapping begins. Charge toys that need charged, don't just buy enough batteries - put them in each toy, and release each toy from it's packaging. I have never been so close to meltdown as the Christmas I realized AFTER the kids had opened their gifts that a screwdriver was needed to unscrew the toy from the cardboard backing. The kids were crying, I was digging through the junk drawer, and The Big Guy was rubbing his head in frustration.

Snip the plastic ties, untwist the metal bands and let the toy sit in the box. The kids will slip off the paper and the toy will slip right into their hands!

And, really, aren't we all so happy to see how simple it is to open Santa's gifts since they don't come in boxes like the ones at the store? Except that one time when he forgot...but you know what I mean.

To read a little more about the insanity of Christmas gift wrapping at my house, including Santa's Sack, click HERE.

Don't forget to check out Tutorial Tuesday for some great ideas or to link up your own projects!
.

12.20.2010

Tutorial Tuesday!

Hope Studios


Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to "teach me stuff" counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

Click to see my weekly tutorial: Chocolate Decadence Thumbprint Cookies! And don't forget to check out my Saturday Wrap Up of my favorite links from last week HERE.

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios






ChocolateDecadence-Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies!


My Neighborhood Cookie Swap recipe this year was from Sunset Magazine:

Chocolate Decadence Cookies

Ingredients

* 10 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
* 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
* 3 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

1. Put chocolates and butter in a medium metal bowl and set bowl over a pan filled with 1 in. of simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until melted, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in eggs and sugar, mixing until combined. Then whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt. Chill dough, covered, until firm, about 2 hours.

2. Let dough sit at room temperature 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 1 tbsp. portions of dough, rolling each into a ball, and put onto sheets 1 in. apart. Bake cookies until they no longer look wet on top, about 8 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.

Make ahead: Batter up to 1 day; baked cookies up to 2 days, airtight.

The recipe recommended several variations on this same cookie. I chose to make it into a thumbprint cookie and squeeze smooth peanut butter into the indentation just before baking. Just fill up a zip top baggie and snip off the corner!

You could also flatten the cookies prior to baking them and sandwich them with Nutella, or sandwich them with peppermint icing (powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract until smooth) then roll the edges in crushed candy canes.

Here is my recipe for the Carmel Dream Tassies I baked last year. The yummiest cookie ever!

What is your favorite Christmas Cookie?

.

12.19.2010

Sunday Funny

Some doctor on tv this morning said the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I'd started and hadn't finished, and before leaving for work this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, a pockagee of Prungles, tha mainder of bot Prozic and Valiumiunun scriptins, the rs of the chesescke an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how frekn fablus I feel rit e now. Plaese sned dhis orn to dem yu fee ar in ned ov iennr pisss. An telum, u luvum!!


lops ob lub!

Juniper :)

(hee, hee, this funny email was forwarded to me by my sister!)

12.18.2010

Stuff I Learned!

You all know I have a "thing" about sticks (um, twigs). This Magical Mantle Decor
made my heart pitter pat!



Is it weird to call soap beautiful? What if it's Snowflake Soap?




Brassy Apple does it again with this Burry Furry Vest



Oh my word, do I love this Fabric Gift Bow...



Think Refinishing Your Own Hardwood Floor is impossible? Think again!

Did you know you could make Thin Mints from Ritz Crackers?

Soul Sister Contributions: Cup of Tea Ornament and Holiday Card Placemats

CLICK PICKS (most clicked links this week):

#1 Wendy listened to my advice and her thought provokingly titled project Pasties won!

#2 Make a small shirt bigger

#3 Snowflake Pretzels

12.17.2010

Evil Ronald McDonald?


Via Twitter this week, Burgh Baby drew my attention to this CNN blog article about a lawsuit filed with The Center for Science in the Public Interest, CSPI, against McDonald's for including toys in their Happy Meals.

A mother of two small children, Monet Parham, filed the suit because: "We have to say no to our kids so many times and McDonald's makes that so much harder to do. I object to the fact that McDonald's is getting into my kids' heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat."

The CSPI claims McDonald's marketing techniques are "unfair, deceptive and illegal" and that they cause "kids to pester their parents."

McDonald's response? "We stand on our 30-year track record of providing a fun experience for kids and families at McDonald's," said Bridget Coffing, a company spokesperson. "We listen to our customers, and parents consistently tell us they approve of our Happy Meals. We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet."

It's Feedback Friday!

Thoughts, comments, opinions about this particular McDonald's lawsuit?

.

12.16.2010

Merry Twiggy Christmas!

I've struggled with my "nice" tree in the living room. The family tree is in the family room. It's alive and is filled with all the decorations my kids have made or love. I just can't bear to part with them!

My "nice" tree is just for me. It's in the "nice" room and is filled with "nice" ornaments...it's just "nice" but it hasn't really had my stamp on it over the past few years.

Slowly, I've been trying to focus my ornament purchases into a theme without being too "theme-y". I needed to think...what is really "me", forget "nice"? I began to notice I was drawn to ornaments that were reminiscent of natural items. Birds, pine cones, acorns - now, we're getting somewhere!

I finished decorating my woodland tree yesterday and thought it was "nice" but a bit lacking in character - and I'm nothing if not a character! I thought to myself, "Self? WE NEED STICKS!" Oh mama, now we're cookin'!

I have always loved me some twigs - I've used them to decorate my kitchen window and my mantle - why not my tree? Huh? Why not?



I stuck in twigs, and berries, and feathers, and grasses...(hee, hee, I just said twigs and berries)



It just woke this old artificial tree right up!



So, let's think of adding some dimension to those trees that are looking flat. Go gather some twigs and start jamming them in here and there all willy nilly. You'll thank me, trust me.

Ps (I wrote this whole post using the word "sticks" and changed it to "twigs" because it sounded more decor-ish and designer-y.)

There is still time to link up with Tutorial Tuesday pop on over to be inspired!
.

.

12.15.2010

Why Don't You...Cool Down Your Cookie Sheets?



While you are baking all those many batches of cookies this season, here is a quick tip to cool your cookie sheets between batches.

Run cold water onto the back of the sheet after you remove it from the oven. The water will cool the cookie sheet quickly while keeping the front of the sheet dry for the next batch of cookies.

Try it, it works!

Wondering what sort of cookie sheets I use? The Big Guy is the hospitality industry and I'm spoiled by these Professional Aluminum Foodservice Sheet Trays. I line them with a tried and true Silpat silicone pan liner. You will love this cookie baking combo!

Don't forget to click on over to Tutorial Tuesday to link up or to get inspired!

.

12.13.2010

Tutorial Tuesday!

Hope Studios


Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday - If you are new here, this party is to showcase your weekly tutorials. What counts as a tutorial? Anything to "teach me stuff" counts - a recipe, a kid's craft, a DIY project, how you got your baby to sleep through the night ... I'm not picky.

Click to see my weekly tutorial: Wine Bottle Candle Holder

Please... (this is the part at the end of the commercial when the announcer talks real fast)

* Link up using the link to your actual post (not your general blog address) using your name and a the subject of your tutorial to generate interest.

* Add my button or a clickable link back to this post so everyone can join in.

* Visit and comment with all our friends. Show them some love! Meet some new friends! Learn something new!

Ready? Teach Me Stuff!

Hope Studios






Wine Bottle Candle Holders



Ready for the simplest tutorial evers?

One of the things we do on our Soul Sisters Weekend is shopping. We don't want to buy so much as we want to gather ideas for future projects (shop owners L.O.V.E. us...NOT!). A cool product I noticed in a little boutique was this thing called a "Bottlabra". (Dude, I'm a sucker for a catchy name like this, I was sold once I read the package.)

It looked like this:



And they showed them in a grouping like this:



That. Is. Cool.

Bottleabras sell for about $10-$18 apiece and that is pretty spendy if you plan to group them. There must be a better way! Oh, hi there, guy that works at Lowe's...

Come on, girl, let's hit the plumbing department!

Get yourself this little gadget, a copper 1 x 1/2 inch thing-a-ma-bob that does plumbing-ish stuff. It costs right around three bucks. If you want to appear knowledgeable, refer to them as "reducing couplings" then sniff and spit. (Look! I just found it here for $2.20!)



Collect some wine bottles of various colors and sizes. You will just have to try out each one since the neck width is slightly different in each bottle. About 50% of the wine bottles I'd saved fit.

Soak your bottles in super-hot water to remove the labels. Good old elbow grease and soap work to scrub off the residual glue in most cases.

Slip the copper do-hickey into the neck of the bottle, stick in a little ball of clay (or play doh in a pinch...shhh...), press a non-drip candle into the clay, and VOILA!



See my Thanksgiving table? A long row of Wine Bottle Candle Holders and lots of smaller jars (olive jars, jelly jars, etc...) filled with votive candles.



Ah, lovely...Imagine your Christmas table, or a buffet table, or your mantle!



Want to Teach Me Something? Come back tomorrow to link up with Tutorial Tuesday!

.

12.11.2010

Stuff I Learned

I love the look of Mercury Glass, and now I know how to make a Mercury Glass Ornament!



You can make your own Messenger Bag! You can make your own Messenger Bag!



Remember that time you were sitting around after a few glasses of wine and said "I wish I had a mustache on a stick right now..." You're welcome.


Did you know you can buy a $5 clock and Make Your Own Clock Face for it?!? Huh? Did you?



Don't throw that Dryer Lint away!

Don't throw your old Christmas Cards away!

Don't throw your Old Picture Frames away!


Click Picks:

Through Inlinkz I can keep track of how many clicks each link receives, want to know the top 3 clicked links from this Tutorial Tuesday?

1. Mod Podge Map Shoes

2. Poor Man's Vinyl

3. A tie for 3rd place: Buckeyes and Roll Up Totes

Want to make the top three next week? My #1 tip: Take a great photo! Photos that are too dark never get anyone's attention. Just edit your photos to brighten them up.

Tip #2: Come up with a catchy title to spark interest! Good luck!

.

12.10.2010

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Feedback Friday!



I was at the grocery store the other day and wished the cashier "Merry Christmas!" to which she responded "Happy Hanukkah!" I liked that.

So, it's Feedback Friday...

Do you say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" or do you stick with "Happy Holidays"?

Does it change depending on where you are (work vs. grocery store)?

.

12.09.2010

Oh, Christmas Tree!

The Big Guy and I have braved the frozen tundra to cut down our Christmas tree ever since our first Christmas together 18 long years ago...sigh...memories...

We have continued that tradition every year and this year was no different. We headed out to Lake Forest Gardens for our annual tree hunt last weekend.

The day always begins with a chilly hay ride out to the fields. All aboard!



Then the hunt is on for the perfect tree. Coincidentally, the perfect tree is usually situated in the furthest point from the hay ride pick up spot...



There she is! Isn't she perfect? Let's get a picture, boys!



Time to cut...TIMBER!



Do you cut down a real tree for Christmas?

(Thrifty Decor Chick is having a Christmas Tree Linky Party if you can't get enough)

Click on over to see Tutorial Tuesday - it's still rockin'!

12.08.2010

Why Don't You...String Your Christmas Tree Lights Up and Down?



I'm pretty sure I spotted this tip in Real Simple Magazine last month and I said "DOH!" out loud in the dentist's waiting room.

I have always used a modified version of Martha Stewart's "in and out" method. Rather than wrapping the branches in lights like Martha does, I simply push the lights into the center then back out. I always layer my lights - first small clear twinkle lights, then small multi-colored twinkle lights, then large clear bulbs, and last, large colored bulbs.

During this process I circle the tree about 1,001 times. But then I read this tip about stringing the tree up and down and it was like the Heaven's parted and the Angels started singing! Hallelujah! Up and down! Glory Be!

I tried it last night and it was so awesome. I stayed in one area of the tree until it was filled then moved on, Holy Smokes! I still layered and did my pushing-into-the-center-thing, but I did it up and down instead of around and around. Like this:



Dude, LOOK at my tree in all it's lighted glory!



So, come on, why don't YOU string your lights up and down, too!

Click over to Tutorial Tuesday to inspire me or get inspired! There is plenty of time to link up and lots of stuff to learn!
.

 

Template fueled by Blogger. Customized for Hope Studios by Brightfish Designs. ©2009
  • BrightfishDesigns at Hotmaildotcom