Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Last Jewels of Fall

If you're keeping up with me you are fully aware that I have begun my Holiday "to-do's" . However, before we slip into winter I wanted to share this last jewel from Fall . I've mentioned many times that I love to "Reduce~Reuse~Repurpose" , varied items . This "RRR" comes courtesy of my front porch Fall decor .
In August I purchased two small "pie" pumpkins for 1.89 each at the local grocery . They made for perfect book ends for my fall decor . I loved that they weren't expensive . Normally, I carve pumpkins as apart of a fall activity and decorations . However, this year that didn't happen . So, as winter approaches and it becomes time to transition to Holiday decorating I needed to find a new use for my pumpkins . Since they hadn't been carved they were still in great condition .
So, I carved the top off and dug out the seeds inside . I am not a pumpkin pie fan, so I'm sure there are many other purposes this sweet lil' guy could serve, but for today the seeds are enough for my project . I dug out the lil' guys seeds which ended up being about two cups worth . I'm going to flavor and bake them for a nice snack so two cups is a great amount .  
Once I removed all the "gunk" that can come with pumpkin seeds I gave them a good bath.
I then drained them and followed that up with a towel drying .

While a little moisture doesn't hurt I didn't want them to be sopping. If they are drown in water they won't be able to keep hold of the varied seasonings I'll add to them . After a towel drying I transferred them to a baking pan that I'd covered with tin foil. For the sake of not dirtying more dishes than necessary I put a tin foil divider in the middle to keep separate the salty and sweet seeds. Be sure to pre-heat your oven to about 225-250.
For both I brushed the seeds with melted butter . For the right side I then added garlic salt and to the left I added sugar, cinnamon and honey . I then baked them for about 25-30 minutes, took them out tossed them a bit with my butter brush, added a little bit more butter and returned them to the oven for another 25 minutes or so . I then removed them , sampled them, & let them cool .
End product your seeds should be crispy, but not burnt and a tad tender in the middle . It really is hard to go wrong and is all about your preferences . I was pleasantly surprised with the way the cinnamon, sugar and honey seeds turned out .
I have one more pumpkin and I'm sure I'll be making more of those .
Enjoy the last days of Fall !! What is a fun snack you've come up with recently ?
Reduce ~ Reuse~Repurpose

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday "To~Do" - Cyber Monday - DISCOUNTS

Once again I say , I would not be a good friend if I didn't share this with you . To some it may sound like all I ever do is shop or online shop . That is all kinds of false, untrue, wrong and a big ol' negative !!! However, when I do shop I am sure to use discounts, coupons, codes and whatever else I can to get my dollars worth . Everyone is on a budget and I by no means am an exception . One of the ways I get my bargains is through . Ebates is a site that host tons of online stores . Some that you would normally have access to in a mall and others that the only way to shop would be online . ebates offers discounts, coupons, free shipping , as well as a percentage back from your purchase varied by store . Stores such as Target, Bath & Body Works, Barnes & Noble , Walgreens and lots of others . So, it isn't random unknown stores or only places that have high prices . I believe that the last two Christmas' it was how I did the majority if not all of my Holiday shopping . I figure what can be better than shopping in your P.J's , having your gifts delivered (FOR FREE) , and getting a percentage back as well . It's like , being shop .

At times they will offer to add to your percentage back if you will take it in a "alternative" form . For example, my last "Big Fat Check" as they call them was offered to me in one of the two following forms 1. a normal check I can take to the bank to cash (which I normally choose) OR in the form of a "gift card" with extra money on it . I thought with the Holiday's coming up I'd give the "gift card" a try since it would give me a buck or two more than the check would . What could it hurt ? Right ? RIGHT!! I was able through my .com gift card code to purchase three brand new items including shipping for less than ten bucks all together . I've already received two of the items and am so excited to wrap them , get them under the tree and of course to hand them out . They are items I never would've had access too had I not gone through these two web sites of and ebates . I have a close friend who booked her honeymoon, purchased items from her registry and wedding supplies through shops hosted by ebates. Now that was a "Big Fat Check" !!

So, to break it down, basically they gave me a percentage "discount" or "return" from my original purchases, added to it by a buck or two , I then used the "gift card" at via ebates and received another percentage back .

Lets say you spend a $1.00 ~ at a store that offers say...5% of that back ~ so, that's a nickle you get back perhaps from a store that offers free shipping ~ Do all your holiday shopping this way and those "nickles" can add up . Especially when you think of the fuel you'll save .Then say you are offerend your percentage back in a "alternative form" with a "bonus dollar" . That's $1.05 extra.....and if you shop you know that can buy things. O.k. maybe not 5, but you get my drift .

That's the kind of recycling any one can handle .

Each shop has a different percentage offered back as well as varied shipping, discounts and coupons . With your first ebates purchase they will along with your percentage give you a gift card to a store like Target, Barnes & Noble or several others .  On Cyber Monday you'll be sure to save a buck or two more than a "normal" online shopping day if you go this route . I hope that this somehow makes your Holiday shopping less stressful , more inexpensive and lots of fun !! What's the joy in gift giving if you are gonna need therapy after shopping ?!

I have been using ebates for several years now and wouldn't recommend it if i didn't love it . I have gotten several "big fat checks" over the years and now with this occasional "gift  card bonus" I am sure to continue online shopping this way .  Also, click on any of the ebates links on this blog and I'll get a "bonus" for recommending you . It's like we are shopping together !!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping !!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday "To~Do's" - Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Repurpose

As you begin your cyber Monday, Black Friday ,  Holiday shopping & shipping I'd like to challenge you to look beyond the box , bag or wrapper . Several weeks ago I noticed that a box from a online order was beautiful on the INSIDE . The company kept the outside basic and postal friendly, but when I opened it up the inside of the box was printed in the most beautiful gingham . It was so beautiful I almost forgot about my order . I also hated the thought of throwing it away or using it for storage . So, I took off the package tape along with the adhesive that was keeping the box a "box" . I then turned it "inside-out" and re-taped it making it a beautiful gift box . One box came with a blue and white gingham design on the inside . Sadly I didn't get a picture of that one before I used it to give a friend her baby gift . Since she is expecting a boy it made for the perfect gift box . The second part of my order came in a red and white printed box . Wonderful for the Holiday season .

Original Outside
Original Inside

New "inside" turned Out !

For the moment I'm using it as decor under my tree to store my first Holiday To~Do. It will more than likely become a shipping box or gift box for a Christmas gift . It's just to beautiful to ignore in my opinion . It seems that lately I am being reminded often that you gotta think out side the box :-) ha-ha!! What have you come across lately that can be Repurposed ?!

Happy Holidays !!
Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Repuprose

Holiday To~Do's - "Mistle-Toe's" ~

I'm starting to know how Santa feels with his never ending list of Holiday "to~do's" . Not that I have so much that I "have" to~do, but I keep coming across little things that I "want" or would "like" to~do . I told you here about my first Holiday "to-do" of the season . I'm still anxiously waiting to mail them . I figure while I'm super excited and ready to celebrate Christmas some people aren't ready until after Thanksgiving . So, it's best I wait .

My next Holiday "to~do" came in the form of a Pinterest inspiration . As most of you know I am a lover of coupons , bargains and gifts (both giving and receiving) . Since the majority of us are on a budget I think everyone will appreciate this lil' gift  idea . When cutting coupons I most always cut any and all cosmetic coupons , no matter the brand . I then check out the local drug store adds to see if they are doing any buy 1 get 1 promotions . It also never hurts to check out online or store specific coupons as well . A lot of places will let you combine a manufacturer and a store coupon making it quite the savings . I usually can score a nice nail polish or two for less than a couple of bucks when I do this . Same with chap stick, nail files or travel sized beauty items such as shampoo, etc. . I think it's always a good idea to have little goodies like this on hand . If not for yourself , for guests or for emergency gifts . Who doesn't love a new nail polish or chap stick ?! Several weeks ago I scored some awesome carmex strawberry chap stick for about a quarter each along with some Revlon nail polish in super cute Holiday colors. The nail polish went for about a buck or so once I used my coupons and store discount card . Last Spring I purchased a multi-pack of nail files for a dollar , also with a awesome coupon .  And on Friday I got some cute decorative draw string bags for half-off at Hobby Lobby .  I didn't want to be stuck with Red and Green if I didn't use them all at Christmas so,  I purchased a design that I could use after the Holidays .That's one of the many awesome things about a store such as Hobby Lobby . When they do holiday promotions there are usually items that aren't holiday design specific that go along with the sale .   All these goodies combined have made several of the cutest little treat bags. I used tinsel that I no longer find useful for tree decorating as a decorative cushion for inside the bag. All together each lil' Mistle"toe" Bag cost about 2 bucks give or take some change . I think they will be great for a few special girl friends who deserve some pampering as well as handy to have on hand just in case . They are the first "gift" to go under my tree and I'm so excited !!!

If you work with youth , high school , college age , or even just have a bunch of girl friends or female family members that you get together with for the Holidays these would make great and inexpensive lil' gift bags . I hope that if you do not do this idea it will inspire you to create one of your own . I'd love to hear about what you create this Holiday season !!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays !!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

~ Holiday Greetings at a Low Low Price ~

I've got to share with you my latest find . Today as I was going through a stack of coupons at my grandparents I hit Holiday gold . I love sending and receiving holiday cards . I get it from my Mamaw. She seriously gets mor Christmas Cards than any one I know. I think last year it was somewhere in the 500 range .

I actually bought a box that I love last year at the after Christmas discount sales . However, I never seem to have enough once I start making my list . I also love a personalized card, so I can't ignore a good deal on them .  I just ordered 20 personalized cards w/ envelopes for the low low price of about 6 bucks.

I KNOW!!!! So, of course I'm gonna share this amazing deal with you as well . Check out - You can get 20 personalized cards w/ photo and your printed greetings for 1.99 . Shipping cost is dependant on the speed in which you want them delivered. No rush, normal shipping is about five bucks . I think this is a great deal all together . There are of course other options and deals for cards, return labels, etc .

Happy Holidays !!
Don't forget to put me on your card list . Wink !

Friday, November 9, 2012

~ Sweet Tricia ~

"No doubt need mar your peace." - Come Away My Beloved

For those of you that also follow me on Facebook you know that for years I've been posting updates, prayer requests, and photo's of my sweet friend Tricia . Tricia and Nathan are dear friends from my time at Liberty University . Nathan sang on a traveling ministry team that I helped do administrative work for and I met Tricia through him .  Instantly I loved her too. Nathan and Tricia allowed me the wonderful opportunity while I was in Seminary to use them for my Marital Counseling project . They where newly engaged and planning a summer wedding at the time . It was so amazing of them to be my counseling guinea pigs . Through that project I was able to learn so much more about them both as individuals, a couple , their romance and Tricia's illness . I think it's because of that project that I feel so attached to them both . It takes a lot to let a person PRACTICE counsel you . I'm grateful for their willingness and honesty through the project . It was a project I had originally dreaded, but ended up being so much fun . I'm confident it's because of my guinea pigs :-)

Several years ago Tricia underwent a lung transplant and late yesterday she was listed with UNOS for a second lung transplant .  The lung transplant wasn't the only miracle to come from that time in their life . At the time Tricia was first listed for her first transplant she was praying for a child . To read all the amazing details of the first part of her journey with her transplant please check out her husband, Nathan's blog here or Tricia's blog here .  They both are wonderful at keeping everyone up to date on Tricia's progress as well as the journey of their beautiful daughter Gweneth. Gweneth is a walking miracle and reminder that God hears us so very clearly .

"Yet, all this time, since before we were even married, Tricia had been praying a secret prayer…it was even a secret to me. Tricia had been praying for a miracle baby." - Nathan Lawernson -
 The Story
I must say  to read Nathan's updates and telling of this time in their life is a wonderful testimony . I often find myself amazed at both of their strength, but  his as a caregiver, husband, father, foster parent, and minister continues to be a reflection to me of God's love and sacrifice for His children .

When I am feeling sick, complaining , or just being a punk about life God quickly reminds me of Tricia . I know I'm not with them during this journey physically so I'm sure there are days she is upset about it all . I mean who wouldn't be ?! But the grace they each have shown , the honesty that they have shared via their blogs and FB pages , and the out pouring of love they have been shown by people all over reminds me that God is still at work and He will use ANYTHING if you let Him for His glory . The rough spots of life aren't so rough when God's in control . Tricia's life and testimony really puts my poor attitude into check . I'm grateful to her for that . She may never realize what a picture of grace she is to so many .

"But I hold onto my faith, God's promises, hope, and optimism. No matter how difficult it may seem." - Tricia Lawerenson - Faith Hope and Love
Why am I writing about these people ? Not just to publicly praise them for the strength and faith they've shown , though I do believe they deserve a pat on the back or twenty . Mainly I want to share their story and the work that God is doing through them both in such a difficult time . I want to call out for prayers from those of you that are believers and even those of you that aren't, but believe in the power of prayer . And then there's support - I can't imagine the expense financially this is for their little family . Many in their community have held fund raisers on Tricia's behalf , baby sat for free and made meals in times when they are so busy who can think to cook ?! I know they both are grateful for God's provision and believe He will continue to provide.  If you are interested in supporting please, check out Nathan's blog to see how you can do so , Confessions of a CF Husband .

I can't say I'd be as graceful as Tricia has been if our roles where reversed . Matter of fact, I'm sure I wouldn't be .  I feel like everyone needs a couple like Nathan and Tricia in their life . I'm blessed to have them as apart of mine . Miles don't matter when God has orchestrated the relationship .

Check out their blogs to read the full story of Nathan , Tricia and Gweneth . I am confident it will remind you of the mighty power, grace and love of our God . I think it will challenge you as well . Join me in prayer for them as they set out on the journey of a lung transplant once again .

Psalm 107:28-30 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baby Gift ~ It's Comical

It's been so chilly and dreary that Jack Davis and I do not care to spend too much time outside . Inbetween job hunting, being sick, and house chores I've decided to get a few of my crafting "to-do's" marked off my "wonder if" list . You know, all those ideas that you "wonder if" that'll work, look right, work , etc.

I had scored several multi pack frames a while ago on a clearance shelf . I purchased them in colors that match my room or would make for good crafting supplies . I think a photo or photo frame makes for a  wonderful gift . In working on baby gifts I thought this frame might make for a cute addition to a gift basket I'm working on .

I used a comic strip as my inner frame, but you could use news paper, other photo's, magazine pages or scrap book paper. I made my own mod podge out of school glue and water . Once again I laid out some news paper so that I didn't have to worry about making a mess on my coffee table.
Step One - I cut out a cute comic that had colors complimentary to the frame I was using . I purchased a pack of 3 mats at the dollar store . I mod podged the comic strip onto mat .
Step Two - I placed the dried, decorated mat into the frame . I then chose a matching christmas ornament that said "Laugh" to use as a embelishment on the outside of the frame.
Step Three - I removed the string from the ornament and decided where it should go on the frame. It's placement will decide how the frame will sit . I decided length was a cute placement . I used hot glue (of course) to adhere the ornament. The original color of the ornament matched some of the colors in the comic strip I'd used . So, I did not have to do any extra painting to complete this project .
~ Finished Product ~
I'm super excited about the final product . I think it will be a cute addition to the nursery or perhaps somewhere else in my friends house . I mean, the mommy deserves a fun gift as well . She is after all carrying a lil' person . I'm looking forward to celebrating the mommy - to - be and hope she enjoys her gift as much as I enjoyed making it .

Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Repurpose

A Baby Gift ~ Lets Get Baked ~ Home Made w Love by Aunt Stacie

 It seems I have a endless amount of friends that are expecting . I'm so happy for them all and it's fun to see how different each one celebrates their upcoming additions . This weekend I have a baby shower luncheon to attend where the parents have asked that all gifts be home made or gently used . I think it's a wonderful idea and way of preventing a bunch of stuff you or your baby may never need . Their nursery theme is rainbow colors giving me tons of room to create my gift for them.

One of my favorite new crafts is painting and baking glass . I have been saving varied jars, vases, mixed matched glasses for a while . This particular gift started with two varied sizes of pickle jars . This project takes a day or two to complete so prepare to be patient for your final product .

Step One - Soak the jar in hot soapy water for several hours . Remove the label after several hours of soaking ( I use a pampered chef pan scraper, it works magic w label removal ) - I believe a set of 3 is $3.00 and let me tell you they are worth it . You'll know the label is ready to come off when it's color starts to change or show the soaking of water into the adhesive. When a label is ready to be removed it isn't difficult at all. With the scraper they come right off and rarely leave adhesive behind . Be sure to keep the lids that go with your jars and wash them as well.
If you're in need of a Pampered Chef rep so you can purchase these or any other
Pampered Chef item let me recommend , Theresa Holritz .
Step Two - Let jar dry completely. I left mine in the dish rack for a day .
Step Three - Day Two- Set out a news paper or use a space you don't mind getting paint on . Get multiple paint brushes, sponges, a paper towel and glass of water for rinsing the brushes between uses. Pick your colors for inside the jar and complimentary colors for the out side of the jar . I used normal craft paint that I already had on hand from previous projects . Since we will not know the gender of the baby until it arrives and the nursery is rainbow, I went with some primary colors fit for a boy or girl .
Step Four - Squirt your paint color inside the jar . I used about a table spoon of yellow in the small jar and then a table spoon of green, white and yellow in the larger jar . I then laid the jars on their sides alternating positions every fifteen minutes or so . Allowing the paint to move around and create a pattern on the inside . You can't really have a "plan" for the inside of the jar in my opinion. You just gotta maneuver, shake, lay , and let the paint go where it may . The Green jar ended up looking like a nice marble swirl/tye dye and the Yellow jar looked as though the paint was a melted wax . I placed the lids back on the jars after putting the paint in . That way I could shake, move, etc. the jars with out fear of paint flying everywhere.
Step Five - Add some personality . The smaller Yellow jar I used a round sponge and placed circles in varied places around the bottom 1/3 of the jar . I used red, white and brown thinking that would pop with the yellow that is inside the jar . For the Green larger jar I made swirls with several different sized paint brushes in white, yellow and brown . Since the inside of the jar has white and yellow I found it to be a good compliment. And the brown with yellow bringing a connection to the yellow jar with circles .
Step Six - After the outside embellishments dried I removed the lids and placed the jars open side down on a news paper . Every hour or so I would move them to a new spot so that the access paint could drip out of the jar. There doesn't seem to be a quick way to do this part . Again, you just have to let the paint move as it wants .
Step Seven - After about four hours of paint draining I began to bake the jars . Place them open side up on a baking sheet in the oven. Do not preheat the oven !! Allow the oven to heat up and cool down with the jars inside it . Once your jars are on the baking sheet and in the oven turn the dial to bake and 350 degree's . Allow the oven to heat up and then bake for 30 minutes at 350 . Once the 30 minutes is up turn off the oven and leave the jars inside on the baking sheet . Allowing them to cool with the oven . All in all my jars spent about 2 hours in the oven . I took them out before I went to bed and allowed the little bit of warmth left on them cool on top of the oven, still on the baking sheet . Be sure to keep an eye on your jars through out the baking. I didn't sit and watch them , but I did check on them periodically.
Step Eight - Day Three - I was excited to see how my paint had dried/baked . It looked perfect . I then took them outside and sprayed them inside and out with clear glaze to add a gloss to the paint and some extra surety that the paint won't wash off . Between the baking and clear glaze these jars should be gently hand washable. The wine glasses I'd painted last spring held up well with hand washing . A dishwasher wash would be far to harsh for hand painted glass even once it's baked and glazed .
Step Nine - I chose to add some brown twine as a embellishment and add another connection between the two jars . I already had two spools of twine that I had scored in a clearance bin somewhere . I'm super glad I'd bought them even not knowing what I'd use them for .  Using hot glue I carefully adhered the twine in specific spots to the jar, pulling the twine tight so that it doesn't scoot down the jar. I think it makes the perfect addition and finished touch to these home made cotton ball and Qtip holders . The mommy-to-be can of course use them for whatever she like or finds most useful, but I'm going to add cotton balls and qtips to the inside of the jars as apart of their presentation .
 Reduce ~ Recycle ~ Repurpose
Once again a good reminder that a great craft or gift is just waiting to be made in your very own home . You just gotta look around and see what can be repurposed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Holiday To-Do's ~ Making My List & Checking it Twice

Santa Paws is making his list
and checking it twice.
Sunday night I began the debate of putting up my Christmas tree . It was a Christmas kind of cold and I was in the mood for a holiday movie and hot cocoa . I didn't get the tree up, but plan too this week. I did however begin my Holiday To-Do's . I love sending Christmas cards, making treats, and wrapping gifts . Since I'm not a Rockefeller I need to be creative about gift giving . If I could I'd send every one I love a special gift , but I have to settle with Christmas cards sometimes and hope they all understand . Besides, we all know I love a home made gift over a store bought one any day .  In an attempt to do something out of the ordinary in my holiday greetings I found a fun and inexpensive way to give a gift as well .

You all know I love music . I have decided to implement that into a few gifts/cards . Today I created a Holiday Play List . It is a fun mix of upbeat, old school, and classic Christmas music . This year a few of my friends are going to receive a Holiday Date Night or Holiday Family Fun Night provided by me . It starts with a ticket for the Christmas Express . I printed a fun ticket and added some elf sparkle to it .

The ticket states - "This ticket admits you to the Christmas Express. Christmas music, lights, & popcorn. All that’s left for you to do is pop the snack, put the cd in and buckle up. I hope this makes for some wonderful Holiday memories and possible traditions for your family. " I think it would be fun for the parents to put it on the child's pillow or in the mail box and let the child find it . It could be super fun and a change from the normal evening activities .

They will receive in their Holiday Date Night or Family Fun Night envelope a bag of popcorn (box of 3- buy one get one free last week at Food City - so 6 bags for about 2 bucks) , a Christmas Mix CD (3 back of burn CD's $1.00 @ The Dollar Tree) , and a home made ticket with instructions .

My hope is that this little Christmas greeting will provide a spark for some Holiday Memory making for my dear friends and their kids . I would have loved (still would love ) putting on my jammies , grabbing a bag of popped popcorn , a Christmas CD , a bevi and hop in the car with loved ones to travel around and see Christmas lights . Christmas lights are one of the funnest and most festive parts of the Holiday season . It could even spark a family tradition . What a wonderful thing to look forward too as a little one .

Seeing that I'm not ready to mail these Christmas Gifts yet I hope this blog doesn't ruin the surprise for my friends that will be receiving them . But I wanted to share it with you now to spark your Holiday creativity .

Merry Christmas Y'all !!!