Monday, December 31, 2012

Rustic Pallet Photo Display

I was at IKEA with a friend when I saw a photo display in a sample room that inspired this rustic pallet photo display for my living room.


My husband's family owns an old warehouse, and I discovered that they have piles and piles of old pallets there. With the plethora for pallet projects floating around on Pinterest, I picked up a couple for future use and cleaned them up. A few weeks later, I was at IKEA when I saw something that sparked an idea. I picked up a few white frames and headed home with a plan for one of my pallets.

I put together five boards from the pallet, used stencils and white paint to add 'Oh Brother' and placed four photo frames on the surface. I used some sandpaper to "age" the words. Between Blake and I, we have four brothers and no sisters, so I decided is use 'Oh Brother' and use photos of our brothers. I also added a picture of Blake's dog. We consider him the cat's brother :)


Monday, December 17, 2012

Bedtime Gift Basket for Mom and Baby

What are new moms and new babies most in need of? From what I'm told, it's sleep. I put together this gift basket to help a friend and her new baby get some much needed shut-eye.


Items to help baby sleep: Slippers, blanket, stuffed sheep, Johnson and Johnson Bedtime wash and shampoo, book and pajamas.

Items to help mom sleep: Eye mask, chocolate, relaxing body wash and Sleepytime tea.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snowstorm Search Christmas Ornament

If you're looking for a quick, easy and affordable Christmas gift for a child, check out this snowstorm search Christmas ornament. Similar to FindIt games, children can search for items in the "snow" within the bulb.


It took me about 5 minutes to make and cost less than $5.


  • Clear plastic ball ornament
  • Epsom salts
  • Small figurines (I used buttons)
  • Card stock paper
  • Ribbon
  1. Remove the top of the ornament, and place your figurines in the ornament.
  2. Fill the ornament with epsom salt, leaving about a 1/2 inch of room on the top of the ornament.
  3. Using a hot glue gun, ring the top of the ornament with glue and put the top back on, pressing on the top to make sure the glue holds.
  4. Make a tag listing the items in your ornament and attach to the ornament with a ribbon. 

Photobucket Photobucket


Lessons Learned
Alright, here are a few mistakes I made. This ornament is too heavy to actually hang on a tree, but it is still a fun Christmas game. I thought I'd try making it lighter by using styrofoam fake snow from the craft store. The styrofoam was full of static and would cling to the figurines, making it impossible to get them uncovered and found.

Sorry for the long delay in posts. I hope to start posting regularly again!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Pops Challenge: Cookies n Cream Pudding Pop

Of all the pops I've made this summer, this is by far my favorite! It is extremely yummy and takes only seconds to make.


Cookies n Cream Pudding Pop
1 small package of instant vanilla pudding
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups coarsely chopped chocolate sandwich cookies such as Oreos

Whisk together the pudding and milk. Fold in the cookies, spoon into molds and freeze.

Speaking of yummy things, I'm just a few minutes away for heading out on a road trip to Chicago with some of Blake's nursing classmates. I'm excited to experience more of the amazing restaurants in Chicago!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cupcake Kit Gift and 'The Big Book of Cupcakes Giveaway'

I made a gift for Peggy, my brother's girlfriend and now you have a chance to get a gift of your own!

I put together a cupcake kit for Peggy.

It came complete with cake mix, frosting, cupcake liners, decorating supplies and a book full of inspiration all served up in a mixing bowl.

The weekend I gave it to her, we also did The Color Run.  It's a 5K, and as you make your way through the course, they throw colored powder on you, and at the end they give everyone color to throw at each other/in the air. Here are some photos from the event.


Me with my brother Mike

Birthday girl Peggy with my brother Ben
Color throw

Color grows into a large cloud

Now it's time for a gift for you! I'll be giving away a copy of Betty Crocker's The Big Book of Cupcakes.

All you have to do is pin one of my posts to your Pinterest account, become a follower or do both and receive two entries in the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to the following for help promoting my giveaway:

Blog Giveaway Directory
Flip Flop Reviews
Mommies with Cents
Thrifty Nifty Mommy

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Pops Challenge: Strawberry Mango Smoothie Pop

This week's pop was a strawberry mango smoothie pop - fruity freshness + creamy goodness!


Strawberry Mango Smoothie Pop
1 single serve container of Chobaoni vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 ripe mango
12 medium strawberries

Dice mango and strawberries and place in a blender with yogurt and milk. Blend until smooth and place in molds to freeze.

Sorry about the delay in posting! July has been a busy month and it all caught up with me this week. Blake also was house/dog sitting for his dad and it threw my schedule all off. We had Pete wondering around fighting with Ferbie for Blake's attention.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Banana Brownies

I buy bananas almost every week when I go grocery shopping, and inevitably one of them gets a little too ripe before I have a chance to eat it. I put it in the freezer for later use, but the other night, I opened my freezer and noticed that I had gathered a rather large collection of over-ripe bananas. I made a couple of batches of banana bread and STILL had bananas left over. I decided to use bananas in place of zucchini in my mom's zucchini brownie recipe. It turned out great!


Banana Brownies
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 cups mashed bananas (I used four medium-sized bananas)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside and in a different bowl, combine sugar, oil, bananas and vanilla. Add the dry mixture to the banana mixture an still until well combined. Coat a 9x13" cake pan with cooking spray before adding the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

Chocolate Frosting
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup marshmallows
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Place sugar, milk and butter in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add marshmallows and chocolate chips. Stir until dissolved. Cool the mixture completely and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Spread on brownies.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Pops Challenge: Raspberry Creamsicle

This week's pop is a raspberry creamsicle pop. It has a smooth creamy base dotted with tart raspberries.


Raspberry Creamsicle
1 - 6 oz. container very vanilla Yoplait yogurt
2/3 cup whipped cream
2/3 cup raspberries

Combine yogurt and cool whip. Fold in raspberries, place in molds and freeze.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lawn Jenga

My parents own a small cabin on 60 acres of wooded land. The group of friends that routinely camp there have earned the collective nickname of "the woods people." And the woods people have a way to make anything more dangerous, even a family game like Jenga.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

Friday, July 6, 2012

Raspberry Freezer Jam

I remember coming home from college for the first time and sitting at the kitchen table at midnight downing slices of bread topped with rhubarb strawberry freezer jam. I'd always loved my mom's rhubarb freezer jam. With my never-ending supply of raspberries, I thought I'd try using the recipe for raspberry jam, and it worked!

I had to reduce how long I let the berries set with the sugar, but that was the only adaption I had to make.


Raspberry Freezer Jam
5 cups smashed raspberries
 3 cups sugar
3 oz. box raspberry gelatin

Mix raspberries and sugar, let set for 1/2 hour. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once you reach a constant boil, let boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin. Spoon into plastic containers (peanut butter jars work great). Let cool before putting the top on. Keep one in the refrigerator for topping toast, biscuits, etc. and store the rest in the freezer.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Pops Challenge: Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Pop

If Reese's decided to make pudding pops, I'm pretty sure they would taste just like these chocolate peanut butter banana pops.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Pops
1 1/2 cups milk
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 ripe banana

Combine milk and pudding in the blender until smooth. Add peanut butter and banana and blend until smooth. Pour into pop molds and freeze. Delicious!!!!!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Life with You is a Blast Gift

When Blake and I started dating, I would often give him cheesy gifts. One of the things I loved about him in the early days was that I was comfortable enough with him to give him cheesy gifts and that he always recognized the effort I put into them.

In more recent years, the amount of effort I put into his gifts has slowly declined. For his birthday, I told him I'd buy him a recliner. The gift required no creativity or effort, and we STILL don't have a recliner for him ... his birthday was in March.

I decided that I needed to get back to my cheesy, flirty gifts. I started with a little gift for the 4th of July.

Blake is a fan of explosives; no surprise to anyone who knows him. I picked up a few fireworks from the grocery store parking lot last night and attached a tag that reads, "Life with you is a blast."

They are not the "good" fireworks he goes across the state line to purchase, but he was excited about them nevertheless.


Photobucket Photobucket 

I once made a similar gift for my friend Evan. For her version, I swapped out the fireworks for candy.

Happy 4th of July!!!!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Raspberry Pie Cheesecake

The raspberry patch in our backyard is producing berries faster than I can keep up with! I pick them every other day and I'm not able to keep up. I'm only half complaining. It's a good excuse to make delicious raspberry treats.


Friday night we headed down to my parent's cabin, and with the overflow of raspberries, I had to make something with raspberries. I used my simple strawberry pie recipe, opting for a graham cracker crust and swapping strawberries for raspberries. Because raspberries are more tart than strawberries, I decided to top the pie with a layer of no-bake cheesecake. It was a delightful experiment!

Raspberry Pie Cheesecake

1 pkg. (2 cups) crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Mix together crackers and sugar. Mix in butter and press into a 9x13 pan.

Pie Layer
2 pints of raspberries
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
3 oz. raspberry gelatin

Spread raspberries on the on top of the crust. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a sauce pan. Add the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the liquid becomes thick and clear. Remove from heat and stir in raspberry gelatin. Pour over the raspberries. Put in the refrigerator to cool.

Cheesecake Topping
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 small pkg. lemon gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1 can evaporated milk

Open the can of evaporated milk and place in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the cheesecake topping. Cream together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Set aside. Dissolve the gelatin in 1/2 cup boiling water. Add cold water and place in the refrigerator until syrupy. Remove the evaporated milk from the freezer and pour into a large bowl. Mix at medium speed until fluffy and frothy. On low speed, mix in lemon gelatin mixture and cream cheese mixture until well combined. Pour over the raspberry pie layer and return to refrigerator.

We still have a steady stream of raspberries coming, so you'll likely be getting a couple more raspberry recipes from me!


While I was out picking, this guy was exploring the backyard.


Ice Cream Toppings Gift Basket

My friend Evan turned thirty earlier this week. Her husband had a surprise weekend getaway planned for her. As part of the weekend, we met them at the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. I felt a little inadequate with my dessert-based gift when the waitress brought out our mango key lime cheesecake, but hopefully when she gets home, the ice cream toppings look delectable.

My ice cream topping basket include waffle bowls, caramel sauce, homemade Carol's chocolate sauce and candy topping. I decided to include chopped up Snickers and Twix as well as mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and cookies 'n' creme flavored Hershey drops.

After our birthday lunch, Blake and I headed off to Hub Hobby, the place Blake depends on for his modeling supplies. Then it was off to the Twins game. It was the first time Blake and I watched a game in the new stadium. It is gorgeous and the weather was great. It was a little hot, but the game wasn't until 6 p.m., so it was starting to cool off and turn out to be a beautiful night for a ball game!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Carol's Chocolate Sauce

I used to think why make chocolate sauce when you can buy it? Then I tried our friend Carol's sauce. It's to die for, and it only takes minutes to make. I recently made some as a gift, and I thought I'd share the recipe.


Carol's Chocolate Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup boiling water

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan, and bring to slow boil over medium-high heat. Let boil for 1 minutes. Pour into two 8 oz. jars. Store in the refrigerator and warm up in the microwave for 30 seconds before serving.

I also have a great chocolate sauce recipe made with Guinness beer. It takes a little harder to make but has a unique flavor and is great for a special event.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Pops Challenge: Piña Colada Pops

I'm traveling for work this week and a little worried about what Blake and Ferbie are doing at home. If were to guess, the house is probably a disaster, the Xbox has been getting a good workout and macaroni and cheese with hot dogs has been the entree of choice.

Before I headed off to Chicago, I quick made, and sampled, a pudding pop for the week. I originally found piña colada pops on Our Best Bites - best cooking blog ever! I didn't have coconut milk, but I did have some piña colada mix in the fridge that needed to be used up. So far, this has been my favorite pop in the first month of the summer pops challenge!


Piña colada pops 
(adopted from Our Best Bites)
1 1/2 cups non-alcoholic piña colada mix
1/2 Tbsp. key lime juice
1 small instant coconut cream pudding mix
13 oz can crushed pineapple (I actually used pineapple pieces and just blended it a little longer)
1/3 cup coconut

Pour the non-alcoholic piña colada mix and key lime juice into a blender. Add the pudding mix and blend on low speed until smooth. Add pineapple and blend until mixed in. Add coconut and pulse the blender a couple of times. Pour into molds and freeze.

Another favorite part of the first month of summer is the amazing lilies blooming in our backyard.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Patio Party Decor

Thanks to Blake and our previous homeowners, we have a yard full of beautiful flowers. They are no thanks to me. My contribution to the landscaping is a pot in front of the garage. I planted flowers, but you'd never know it. Not one flower in the entire pot, and it's a pretty big flower pot!

I decided to make use of the flowers in our yard for a couple of Father's Day cookouts we had last weekend.  They were great and held up for the Saturday and Sunday cookouts.


I arranged them in vases and spread them throughout the patio.

I added a few candles to the mix using hanging canning jars and a tuna can + clothes pin set up (with battery powered candles).



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Floatie Gift Basket

I put together a summer gift basket for my mom's birthday. I found this great idea to use an inflatable inner tube for a basket on a gift basket website.


I found the inner tube at Walgreens for less than $2. I used a paper plate for the bottom, attaching it with clear packing tape. Probably not a very classy solution, but it worked well.


Finally, I filled it with summery items:
  • Beach towel
  • Book
  • Frozen slushy drinks
  • Crystal Light in summery flavor
  • Tropical candy
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with sunscreen


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