Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Pigtails

Carly's hair is finally long enough for pigtails!  I'm loving the cuteness!!  Sorry for the blurry picture, the girl is always on the move!

When she has her hood up, you can't see the pigtail cuteness....but don't you just love those ears?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Has everyone out there heard of Houseparty?  Basically, you can apply to host parties sponsored by different companies wanting to spread the word about their products.  If you are chosen, you will be sent a box of goodies to share with your guests!
I was just chosen to host my third houseparty - this time for Zatarain's.  The box came a few days's a peek at what was included:

A tote bag, Mardi Gras beads and masks, Creole mustard, Creole seasoning, root beer extract, coupons for 4 free products, box of Jambalaya, box of red beans & rice, and also stacks of coupons to give to my guests!  

The previous parties I have had the opportunity to host were for DiGiorno and Fisher Price - I have had great experiences with both!  (The Fisher Price party was amazing.....they sent close to $300 of toys!!!)  If you haven't signed up with Houseparty yet, I highly suggest you check it out!  Has anyone else hosted with Houseparty?  I'd love to hear about your experience!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Antiquing FAIL and a Mystery Object

Yesterday Jon and I were down to only one child (Jackson was spending the weekend with his Nana and Peeps....Jon's parents), so we decided to go antiquing in some shops we like.  Normally, taking a 15 month old antiquing would be akin to a deathwish would not be a recommended activity, but poor Carly has a massive cold that makes her extra clingy (and also causing us to stay home from church today), so we knew she wouldn't want to be running around playing with antiques.  We didn't see a whole lot at first.  Well, you know I love the aqua blue Mason jars, and those were everywhere, but to go to an antique store and buy them feels like I'm cheating.  I'd rather find them at a yard sale or a basement or someplace where I can make the discovery.  Make sense? 
Enough of that little rabbit trail...I was super excited when I saw a great item - an old crate with PEEPS printed on the side - which is what my Father-in-Law goes by to his grandkids.  How cute would it be to give Peeps a crate with his name on it!  Jon looked at it, loved it too, so we bought it. 
We came home to give our little sicko a nap, and as we were talking in the house, I hear Jon yell, "It doesn't say PEEPS!  It says PEPSI!"
So I looked, and sure enough...

crap.  Ack!  Such language!  I apologize, but that's definitely what was in my mind at the moment.  I will replace it with Jackson's favorite phrase when things go wrong....bummers!  We don't even like Pepsi.  How did both of us (neither of us having dyslexia or anything of the sort) see the thing and not realize it said Pepsi?!?!  FAIL!  Oh well.  It could be worse.  My first thought was Craigslist, but it's starting to grow on me, so it just might decide to live here.  It is pretty neat looking, isn't it?

And here's something I picked up the other day at another favorite store, the Gift & Thrift.... I just liked the look of it.  But, can someone enlighten me???  Is it a carafe of some sort?  Why the big bubble/pockety thing in the middle?  It came with a stopper in the top made of some kind of raffia-like material, if that helps.  I would like to hear your ideas!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Warm Weather = Spray Paint!

I have been waiting and waiting for weather warm enough to spray paint.  I had a stockpile of treasures building up over the winter just waiting to be spraypainted and so yesterday, although it was still technically not warm enough according to the spraypaint can directions, I had to do it!!

Remember this?

Used a little Heirloom White and now it looks like this:

Love it!  Yep, still have my Valentine's decorations out. 
If I start missing the old version, I'm thinking maybe this fall, not to worry...

I have an extra!  (Yay Walmart clearance!)
With tomorrow's temperature in the 60s, I see some more spraypaint in my future!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Changeable Wreath

This is one of those projects that turned out nearly exactly how I was hoping it would - yay!  It's also one of those projects that I think came from a brainstorm - and hopefully not a brain fart - as in, I'm hoping I didn't see it on a blog months ago and recreated it, thinking it was my own unique idea!!  I did go through my bookmarks, and I didn't see it in there, so hopefully we're safe. 

I love wreaths, I love burlap, I love fun fabrics, I love decorating.  I don't love storing tons of holiday and seasonal decorations or spending the extra money to buy new decorations for each season.  So I came up with this idea:  a changeable wreath.  I don't really like the name, but I googled synonyms for changeable, and the ones that came up - convertible, malleable, modifiable, adaptable - didn't really fit either.  So for now, it's the "Changeable Wreath."  (Although in my mind, her name is "A-wreath-a Franklin."  :)

I need to remember to take more pictures of the actual process and not just the end results.  But we'll just go with what I have.  The materials I used included:  a straw wreath, burlap, coordinating fabrics, glue gun, buttons, and velcro.  Here's the super simple directions for the wreath part:  cut strips of burlap (I cut mine about 2 or 3 inches wide).  Use your hot glue gun and wrap the strips around the wreath (overlapping a little), gluing with every turn.  I left the plastic wrap on, which is probably the way to go, because then you aren't dealing with a straw mess.  Easy, right? 

Next, I made flowers from fabric.  I used the the tutorials found here and here for a little variety.  I played around with the flowers on the wreath for awhile, and when I had them positioned how I liked them, I grouped them into 3 sections and hot glued them together.  I then put a piece of velcro on the back of each group - first just sticking it on, then after realizing the velcro pack actually read, "not recommended for fabric," I ripped it off and hot glued it on instead.  Yep, the glue gun is my friend.  I'm guessing at some point, it's going to rip off again, so what I actually recommend doing is taking the extra two minutes and sewing the velcro on.

Put the other side of the velcro in three places on your wreath (again, I hot glued)...

So here's the first version of the wreath....The Valentine's Day version...

I love the shabby look of the burlap and fabrics....(not so much the strings of glue, but just pretend you don't see those...)

The Valentine's Day version turned out so cute that you almost forgot about the BEST part, didn't you?!  You can change it up for the next occasion!!!  So, here's the March/St.Patty's Day Version...

and here's a pile of fabric waiting to be transformed to make a fun beachy/summery version...

The possibilities are endless!  Just by using fabric scraps you can totally transform the look whenever a new holiday is approaching, or even if you get sick of looking at the same old thing!  You can always add other things besides fabric flowers, of course.  I have some fun silvery berries that I want to incorporate into a winter version.

Of course I still need to find a great spot for her.  I plan on using a thin strip of burlap for that too.  I had originally planned on hanging it on the front door, but now I'm thinking an indoor spot might be better so it lasts longer.  Maybe I'll just have to make another one for the front door!

Click here for some parties I may have linked to!!

The DIY Show Off

It is always an honor to be featured!!!


101 in 1001

I first saw this idea over at Sunshine & Chaucer and thought it would be fun to try - make a list of 101 things you would like to accomplish in 1001 days.  Thanks for the idea, Jennifer!  S&C is also the first blog to feature one of my projects - my JOY frame, back in December before I changed my blog title and address.  It was sooo exciting to have someone out in the blogosphere liking my stuff - and now I'm addicted :)  I am happy to pass on a little blog love to Jennifer - make sure you check out her 101 in 1001 list!

So anyway, back to my list.  I thought it would be super easy to think of 101 things, but it was soooo not.  I tried to pick things that would be somewhat attainable and measurable.  I also tried to pick things that wouldn't just happen due to the amount of time that will pass (for example, Carly being potty trained).  With some big events still being undecided (like when to remodel the kitchen and when to start the adoption process) it was difficult to include things relating to those topics.  In reality, if we would begin the adoption process soon, our family could be larger by November 13, 2013, the date my 1001 days come to an end (use for an easy way to figure this out).  But we still don't know that will be happening, and I don't want to set myself up for failure, so I tried to just stick with basics.  Hopefully within those 2.75 years, we'll at the very least have picked an agency to work with and some of the other beginning steps. 
Enough rambling!  On to the list!  (I'll be editing this as the goals are met by changing the text color and adding the date completed!)
  1. Paint craft room.
  2. Organize craft room.
  3. Paint trim and doors in laundry room.
  4. Paint trim on the staircase.
  5. Paint shutters - going from a country blue to black! (May 2011)
  6. Paint the front door, or maybe get a new one - red front door here I come!!
  7. Finish sewing the apron I started back in October or November.
  8. Complete 5 more sewing projects. (aka - sewing projects with the machine, not hand stitching!) (2/5 - burlap pillow shams, pillows for porch swing)
  9. Make a photo book of Carly's 1st year.
  10. Make a photo book of 2010.
  11. Make a photo book of 2009 (yep, I'm a little behind).
  12. Choose an adoption agency.  *6/24/11*
  13. Complete the home study.
  14. Get a passport.
  15. Grow blog to 50 followers (I'm talking public followers here, on my sidebar).... *2/21/11*
  16. 100 followers?!?! *3/25/11*
  17. Ok, I'm cheating and erasing one - this used to be 150 followers, but I remembered how much I really want to go to an auction - I've never been to one!  So I'm redoing #17 and it's now:  Go to an auction.
  18. Host a giveaway on my blog!
  19. Have blog visitors from all 50 states.  (I'm almost there, but Vermont is proving very elusive).  *3/1/11* - yay, Vermont!
  20. Have blog visitors from 50 countries.  (since installing Google Analytics 2/2/11, I'm already up to 37!)  *2/26/11*
  21. Have 10,000 visits to my blog. *As of 6/14/11, had over 25000 visits!*
  22. Sell the juicer I found at a yard sale and thought we would use all the time.
  23. Sell the Nintendos we bought at yard sales to resell and haven't yet.
  24. Sell 15 more items from my stockpile of eBay stuff.
  25. Make a pie crust that looks pretty.
  26. Make or get a growth chart. *May 2011*
  27. Get some kitchen storage so I can...
  28. Paint my great-grandma's cabinet and move it to the laundry room.
  29. Can something.
  30. Watch the entire Star Wars series with Jackson.  (have watched 1/6)
  31. Spraypaint all our old hardware on the doors with the lovely oil rubbed bronze.
  32. Send at least 2 cards or letters each month via snail mail.
  33. Have a weekend (3 days, 2 nights) away, just me and the hubby!
  34. Try at least 2 new recipes a month for 6 months, and
  35. Make at least 40 recipes from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook (originally planned to cook through it, but there's just some things I plain old don't grits and mushrooms).  (have made 10/40)
  36. Lose 10 lbs and keep it off.  (Which could be difficult if I do #35)
  37. Print off pictures instead of keeping them on my computer indefinitely and then
  38. put them in photo albums.
  39. Figure out a better way to digitally store my pictures.
  40. Crack open the wall safe, even if it means calling a locksmith.
  41. Read 10 of the books I haven't already read from one of these lists, or these, or pretty much any list of great books.  (currently have read 1/10:  Schindler's List)
  42. Purge magazines,
  43. books,
  44. craft supplies,
  45. kids clothes,
  46. my clothes, *2/22/11*
  47. toys,
  48. and pantry items,
  49. and sell/donate/recycle/toss them.
  50. Move linens to underbed boxes, making more room in my tiny bathroom cabinet.  *2/26/11*
  51. Come up with a better system for organizing paid bills & other important paperwork.
  52. Create a daily chore list and
  53. Stick to it for at least a month!
  54. Exercise 3x/week for 2 months - hoping to ingrain this one.
  55. Take a daily vitamin for one month, hoping to ingrain this habit too!
  56. Get back on track with couponing! *2/19/11*
  57. Make sure the leftovers get eaten.
  58. Get a clothesline.
  59. Successfully grow some tomatoes and herbs....thinking of trying a container garden....and
  60. use more fresh ingredients in cooking.  *Summer 2011*
  61. Make it a habit to get up early.  ugh.
  62. Eat breakfast more days than not.
  63. Make daily devotions and time with the Lord a priority.
  64. Be less frustrated.  Let things roll off my back.
  65. Make my bed at least during the week for one month (another habit to ingrain) - it looks so nice made, it just gives me incentive to clean!
  66. Try 5 new restaurants instead of going to the same ones all the time.
  67. Finish changing all the lightswitches and outlet covers to white instead of the cream/tan/ugly color they were.
  68. Keep all our most important papers together in the fireproof box.
  69. Hem bedroom curtains.  *8/28/11*
  70. Mount the TV in our bedroom on the wall.
  71. Have one couple or family over each month for dinner or a game night.
  72. Waste less time (ironic because it's crazy how much time I spent coming up with this list...)
  73. Get the kids more involved with chores.
  74. Play with the kids more, instead of just giving them ideas of things to do.
  75. Encourage others through notes, emails, phone calls, etc.
  76. Make artichokes.
  77. Take down the wallpaper in the kids' bathroom (the only room in the house that still has wallpaper),
  78. and paint it!
  79. Figure out a color scheme for the master bathroom,
  80. paint it,
  81. and get towels that actually match.
  82. Get the wireless printer to work again.
  83. Put pavers around the firepit.
  84. Get a new light for the entryway, or at least give it some ORB treatment.
  85. Paint the porch swing, or determine if we need to just give in and get a new one. *May 2011*
  86. Host at least 2 more international students. *1/2 - Taisei Kimura of Japan - March '11*
  87. Go to a Penguins or Steelers game.  (I'd like to do both many times over, but I'm being realistic here!)
  88. Make homemade donuts.
  89. Have 2 more of my projects featured on other blogs. *3/14/11 - Changeable wreath featured on The Frugal Girls and Elmo cupcakes also featured on The Frugal Girls!*
  90. Paint the ceiling in the dining room
  91. and in the toy room.
  92. Buy a great find on Craigslist.
  93. Sell something on Craigslist.
  94. Improve my photography - take more time and experiment.
  95. Finally complete the final white coat of paint in the dining room and
  96. master bedroom.
  97. Paint the 1/2 bath.
  98. Reinstate soup/salad/sandwich night at least twice a month for 6 months.
  99. Care less about what people think of me and more about what God thinks.
  100. Clean out the built-in shelves in the living room.
  101. Tell my husband and kids I love them way too much, every day for the next 1001 days!
So there it is, my list.  I'll hopefully be keeping you updated by labeling my posts with the "101 in 1001" tag and also editing this post.  I'd love for you to join me in the 101 in 1001 project!!  If you make a list of your own, please leave a link in the comments so I can visit!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Odds & Ends

This will be a quick post of just a few random things that have been happening lately....I'm working on a project that I'm excited about, so look for that in a few days!

1:  Thanks to Natalie from A Turtle's Life for Me for giving me the Versatile Blogger Award!  You can click here for all the details, and while you are there, check out Natalie's other great stuff - I especially love her playhouse makeover!!  Now, I still haven't had the time to figure out 7 random things about me, or 15 other bloggers to pass the award on to, but I wanted to make sure to say THANKS to Natalie - you made my day!!

2:  You might know what a huge fan of SwagBucks I am!!  Well, I am excited to say that I was just able to order my 45th $5 Amazon gift card!  Wahoo!  $225 of free Amazon credit?  Yes, please!  If you haven't signed up yet, I definitely encourage you to do so.  No, I do not spend hours a day searching random things so I get points.  I use it just as I would any search engine.  There is also a way to get 3 easy points each day - you get one point for doing each of these things:  the daily poll, viewing the trusted surveys, and scrolling through the no obligation special offers.  This takes about 2 minutes each day!  Just to be completely honest, this is one of those websites that you do get points for referrals.  So if you sign up by clicking on one of my links, I would appreciate it.  But even if you don't use my link, you should really check it out!

Search & Win

3:  Time to show a quick project!  I bought this vinyl on Groop Dealz from Wonderfully Wordy, and my friend picked up the tin sign for me at Hobby Lobby.  (Thanks, Terri!)  I think it turned out super cute!  (Even cuter in better lighting...I took this last night, hence the no natural night).
Groop Dealz is another great site I recommend checking out!  It has great daily deals (I purchased the vinyl for the above project for $6), often crafting supplies or cute stuff people have made.  Today's deal is a half-cami - great idea!  Again, if you use my link, I do get referral points, but if you don't want to, I still recommend you checking it out!  (I think my link will only take you to today's deal, so if you are looking on a later date, you will need to just go to the main website).
I should give my husband some major credit for this project....technically he is the one who got crafty with this one :)  He is so much better at measuring and centering things that he is the one in charge of vinyl, hanging pictures, etc.  I tend to be the one who just eyes things up and slaps it on, sometimes regretting it later.  My helpful hubby is the one who actually gets out a measuring tape and makes things look perfect - and doesn't ever complain!

4:  I was happy to see I have finally reached (and recently surpassed) the number of followers from when I changed my blog address.  I know numbers in the 20s are very slight compared to some of the awesome blogs I read that have thousands, but I appreciate every one who has followed, and honestly get excited each time that number goes up!  Thanks all!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Valentine's Craft: Stuffed Felt Hearts

I don't have many seasonal decorations, especially Valentine's Day, and wanted to come up with something easy and cheap to do to show some love for my valentines!  I had been seeing felt hearts all over blogland, so I decided to make up my own version.

Materials used:  felt (the sheets I got at Joann's were either 29cents or 39 cents apiece, I can't remember), embroidery floss and stuffing (already had those on hand).

So so simple.  I used two sizes of cookie cutters to trace the hearts, sewed them most of the way together, added some stuffing, and sewed them up the rest of the way.  The thing I loved about these was if you just use an ounce of creativity, they can all turn out so different!

You can do the layered look:

Embroider designs or words:

or add embellishments, like buttons:

Another great thing....they are so versatile!
Put a bunch of them all together...
(hmmm...this one looked better in my imagination...)
Put a magnet on the back (or a clothespin with a magnet would be even better!)...

Just sit them around in random spots...

Or, add some cute ribbon or yarn to the back and hang it somewhere...
You can barely see it, but this was more of a way to show off my cute IKEA cabinet!
(Got the oven door decorating idea from Nikki)

Mine?  Right now they are sitting in this cute metal basket....which is just waiting for warmer weather so it can be spraypainted Heirloom White!

Click here for a list of fun parties I may have linked this to!
Looking for more great Valentine's projects?  Check this out...

Black & Gold

Growing up in Western PA & MD, I am a rather huge Steelers fan.  Love love love them.  So I was pretty excited to host a Super Bowl party yesterday.  Even though we lost, it was fun just to have another Super Bowl experience - I know a lot of people who never see their team winning championships, so to have seen the Steelers in 4 Super Bowls (winning 2 of them) and the Penguins in 4 Stanley Cups (winning 3) - well, it's pretty sweet.  The Pirates have some work to do, but I guess I can't be too picky.
Anyhoo....I went with some traditional Pittsburgh food yesterday for the Super Bowl Party meal - kielbasa & sauerkraut and pierogies.  Other sides too, but those were the main dishes.  I had to get a little creative, so I made these:
MMMM....Oreos dipped in white chocolate with some Steeler gold sprinkles. 

We had the flag flying,

the jerseys on,
(Miller, Ward, and mine is Polamalu in case you were wondering...the hubs is not a Steelers fan, but he did wear a Steelers t-shirt to make me happy)

the Terrible Towels waving,

Carly was even sporting a special hair accessory...

but it was not enough to stop the Pack.  As I explained to my sobbing almost 5-year old after the game (yes, he stayed up past his normal bedtime, but he said he was "too excited about the Steelers to sleep" could I make him go to bed?!), even though we are a little sad, they still did great, and football is only a game - there are much more important things in life!  Plus, we still have more rings than any other team :)  Go Steelers!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thanks, Remodelaholic!

One blog I love to read is Remodelaholic - soooo many great ideas!  I was beyond excited to receive an email today that my piddly little blog is going to be featured there this evening!  More specifically, our laundry room will be featured, at 5PM Central Time.  I'll put the exact link up when I get it, but in the meantime, check out the main page here - you'll be glad you did!


A big WELCOME to those of you visiting from Remodelaholic - thanks for coming over!  Feel free to sit down and stay awhile :)  You'll find a pretty eclectic mix of stuff around here ~ I love to write about frugal ideas, crafts, food, family, fun things to do with your kids, decorating, house projects, adoption, my faith, and any other random idea that pops into my mind.  I have some fun great projects in the works, as well as more house before & afters...become a follower and you won't miss any of it (if you really want to make me giddy with happiness, follow me with the handy dandy google button on the right sidebar...that way I know you are there!)

Thanks again to Cassity at Remodelaholic!

**And here's the link to the specific post!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adopted for Life & 1000 Diapers

Two posts in one day?  Craziness, I know.  But I just had to share something I was super excited about today - and it involves the word free!  This book...
has been on my wish list for awhile now, and I just haven't gotten around to ordering it or getting it from the library.  Here's the exciting part - this month it is the free download at!  I started listening to it tonight while cleaning the kitchen and it is so good.  If you haven't been to christianaudio yet, each month they have a free download - Jon listens to his ipod a lot at work, so this is perfect for him!  I'm not usually able to listen for long periods of time, but for this book, I'll make time!

Since we're talking adoption, I also wanted to mention one of the blogs I read... ... this sweet girl is a mama waiting to bring her baby boy home from Ethiopia. When she was there for the initial visit, she realized the desperate need for diapers in the orphanage.  Please read her post here to hear more about her visit and to find out how you can help!

Happy (Early) Chinese New Year!

With tomorrow being Chinese New Year, yesterday Jackson and I made some decorations to make our guests feel more at home.  We used the directions here to make Chinese paper lanterns and strung them up in our dining room. 

They turned out cute, and the boys loved them - I saw them taking pictures of them this morning when they didn't think I was looking :)
Side note:  isn't it lovely how the Wii brings the world together?  (Or at least serves as a great icebreaker with teenage boys?)
After trying our hardest to keep their names straight and pronounce them correctly (Chang and Xiong, which interestingly enough, sound pretty similar), last night Xiong typed his name into the Wii as "Joe" and told us that is his nickname....makes me think of a quote from Adam Sandler in the movie The Wedding Singer...."that information would've been more useful to me yesterday!"  :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Secrets of Saving: Where to Find Coupons

Another snow (or in this case, ice) day!  The little kids are watching Sesame Street and the big kids (we are hosting two Chinese students for the week) are upstairs in their room resting away their jet lag.  Since I've already shared my favorite way to organize coupons, I thought maybe I should backtrack a little and give you ideas on where to get all those coupons!  Here are some of my favorite coupon sources:
  • The Sunday paper!  This is the obvious one.  My in-laws get us a subscription to our local Sunday paper every year as part of our Christmas gift.  I love it!  The region you live in will determine the coupon inserts you get, but typical ones are SmartSource and RedPlum, along with a P&G insert the first Sunday of each month.  If you choose to buy your paper each week, remember that on most holidays, there are no coupons included!
  • Online!  There are some great online sources for printable coupons, including,, and  Not all stores accept printable coupons, and those that do accept them typically have some restrictions, so make sure you check your store's coupon policy before wasting all your paper and printer ink!
  • Magazines!  Lots of the "mom" magazines, like Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, etc.  will have some coupons.  The best magazine for coupons, by far, is All You.  In the last issue, there was over $80 worth of coupons.  This magazine can only be found at WalMart and by subscription.  Right now, there are some sweet deals at Amazon for this magazine - the best one being a 2-year subscription for $34 (free shipping). 

         This makes it $1.42/issue, but there is also a promotion happening:  this month, if you spend $20 in the Amazon Magazine store, you will receive a $10 promotion code via email within 10 days of your purchase!  Amazon prices sometimes change quickly, so if you are interested, grab this one while you can!
  • eBay!  Once in awhile, when there is a super good coupon (like the Electrasol one I talked about here) - when this is the case, you can buy larger amounts of this specific coupon on eBay.  I love this option, because I sell things on eBay, and just use the profits in my account to make my purchases.  If you prefer, there are also coupon clipping sites like
  • Friends and Family!  If you have friends and family who don't coupon, maybe they will share theirs with you!  Or you could swap!
  • Directly from the Manufacturer!  If you contact your favorite companies (via email or phone) with a coupon request, they will often respond positively - many times with coupons for FREE items! 
  • With Free Samples!  There are many free samples available, and they often arrive with coupons. 
  • The Coupon Fairy!  I love this one :)  Sometimes people leave random coupons in the aisles of the grocery store.  A few days ago, I was able to get 3 packages of YoPlus yogurt for $1 each because of this.  Thanks, Coupon Fairy!
Looking for links to coupons and free samples?  My favorite savings blogs are For the Mommas and Hip2Save - also The Frugal Girls is amazing.  Check them out!

Do you have any other great ideas for finding coupons?  Leave them in the comments!

I linked this up to the Penny Pinching Party going on here!
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