Thursday, December 29, 2011

Health Goals for 2012 (The Holiday Curse)

Photo Source: Patrick Hoesly

I'd like to think that I'm fairly health conscience... at least part of the time.  It's definitely an area where there will always be room for improvement.  First off you should know that I'm no expert but I have strong beliefs when it comes to certain things.  

If you were to come to my house for a visit you would learn that I am not a fan of extreme dieting and that my personal motto is founded upon balance.  I don't believe in taking out a certain food group.  You know like the diets where you completely cut out carbs or can only eat a small selection of certain fruits and vegetables because of calories.  I don't think that we even have to cut out all sugars completely.  The thing I'm finding is that we need a variety of different foods because they all work together to keep our bodies in tip top shape.  Cut out carbs and you get rid or our bodies fastest source of energy.  Of course that doesn't mean carbo loading at each meal = unlimited energy.  Calories are not created equally.  The calories you absorb from a pile of fresh veggies are not equal to the carbs in a box of fries even if the numbers say otherwise.  It goes into much more depth than that but I'll save that for another post.

So what does this have to do with my health goals for 2012?  Like I said previously, I think I'm doing pretty well when it comes to making healthy dinners for my family a good portion of the time.  What about the rest of the time?

Have you ever noticed that the "holidays" become the exception to every rule we set for ourselves.  "I'm not going to worry about how many sweets I eat,  it's the holidays.  I'll get back to my regular diet afterwards."  "It's the holidays, just this one time won't hurt."  Think about it though, how many major holidays do we have throughout the year?

New Year's Eve/Day
Valentines Day
Memorial Day
Fourth of July
Labor Day

It would be one thing if we splurged a little only on the actual holiday but how many of us really throw the rule book out for only one day?  I'll be honest, the time between Halloween and New Year's Eve is all one holiday combined in our home.  Halloween doesn't just start and end on October 31st.  It's a few weeks long.

Let's not forget about vacations either.  I went on a cruise a few months back with the thought that it was one week.  I could forget about what I'm actually sticking in my body for a week and that I did.  I gained 4-5 lbs in that week which may not sound like a lot but I haven't really gained a whole lot of weight in at least 10 years.

So what?  I enjoyed my vacation and my holidays, that's what really matters.  Right?  What happens when January 2nd rolls around?  I feel like an Oompa Loompa, sick to my stomach, and yes even a little bad about myself.  That's where all of our New Year's resolutions come from.  In my head I may be thinking it's just one week of bad eating but combine it with all my other exceptions, aka other holidays and vacations, and it's a pretty large chunk of time.

Should life be enjoyed?  Yes.  Do we have to deny ourselves of all "good food?"  Of course not, though I'm finding that there are some pretty delicious healthy recipes out there for all food categories.  One divine chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese frosting is not going to kill me.  Weeks of this kind of food however could.

Thus, my health goals for 2012 are to stop feeding my excuses... literally.  I will still enjoy my holidays but I'm going to scour the web and books for healthy alternatives.  At Christmas time I may have two holiday treats instead of one but I'm not going to eat the whole platter and move onto the next.  I hope to find healthy side dishes for holiday meals that are not made of up of mostly butter but just as tasty.  This may mean breaking some of the traditional molds I've grown up with and practicing more self control when I'm not the one making the meal.  I think there may be a lot of trial and error but in the end I hope to enjoy my holidays just as much as I did before and then some because I know my body is not suffering because of my pleasures.

I don't want to enter each January, one of the most depressing months of the year, feeling bad about myself because my body is screaming for me to stop eating so much crap.

No more excuses or exceptions.  I deserve more.  Here's to 2012 and my newest health goals.

If you have any recommendations for good websites or books I would love to hear them!          

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Goals and Plans for 2012

2012 should be a rather exciting year, at least that is my hope.  I've been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in the next year, trying to figure out how and when I will reach some of my goals.

First off I want to of course add tons more product to my website to increase selection on things such as baby and graduation announcements.  I want to get a couple of packages completed to include "Save the Dates" and coordinating wedding announcements.

I also want to put together packages for photographers so that they may buy some of my templates and use them in their business, as a flattened image for their clients of course.

As far as this blog is concerned I want to get more design related posts up.  This includes more posts about color, design tips for interiors, and even a little bit in the fashion world.  Throughout the years I have learned that dressing how I want to feel has helped me through a lot of hard times.  If you have any questions on any of the above I would love to hear them and address them to the best I can in a blog post. Please email me at .

Finally, perhaps my biggest goal and news... the husband and I have decided its time to take more drastic steps towards starting our family.  We are going to go through the In-Vitro process.  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.  The dates on everything are not set quite yet.  This has led me to want to start a blog dedicated to my journey through In-Vitro as well as address the constant battle I have with anxiety and even depression.  Writing has always been a great outlet.  However, this blog isn't quite appropriate for such topics. Thus if you are interested in following our story head on over to my other blog Nitty-Gritty Fairy-tales to get the latest.  My only request, if you have a story to share please make sure it's a positive one.  Tales of how hard the process may be or how someone else found little to no success only makes me more anxious.  I want to focus on the positive.

2012 should be great and I have you, my fantastic readers, to thank for that.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shabby Christmas Tree Skirt (DIY)

Once again I have finally finished another Pinterest Project!!! I found and followed the directions for this Shabby Christmas Tree Skirt from Lauren over at My Crazy Life.

The directions themselves are super simple, the time it takes to complete the whole project is another story.  It took hours and hours and HOURS of hot gluing to get all these beautiful ruffles.

I highly recommend using a canvas painter's drop cloth as your base.  I originally cut out a muslin circle but knew that it would support the weight of the ruffles.  I found a 5 x 5 square drop cloth at Home Depot so I didn't have to make any adjustments before cutting out the circles.

I used an unbleached linen for most of the ruffles and a white cotton with silver flecks for a contrasting color and to make it unique to me.  I cut out three inch strips in both colors and began gluing my little heart away.

Now is where you will have to start using your imagination.  Imagine I have a whole tree... one that has beautiful white Christmas lights, silver and gold and just hint or red Christmas balls, silver and gold garland, and brown packages tied up with string placed strategically underneath on my brand new tree skirt.  Are you seeing my vision for the perfect Shabby Christmas Tree?

While my vision may not come to life this Christmas I am excited that my skirt turned out so well and I can't wait to see everything come together for next Christmas.

What does your Christmas tree look like?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday's Moment (Up On the Rooftop)

Photo Source: Joe Buckingham 

One of the great things about siblings is getting to share the excitement with one another. Today's Monday's Moment is more of a culmination of similar moments that happened on Christmas Eve growing up.  After the Shepherd Meal and caroling together as a family we would of course open our one gift.  Surprise, it's pajamas... again.  Then we would go down to our rooms, fall asleep quickly, and sleep in until 8 or 9 in the morning.  Ha ya right.

The family rule was that we weren't allowed to wake Mom and Dad up until 6:00 A.M. and we couldn't go upstairs and peek at our presents until they had gotten up.  After all, Santa is watching our every move to know if we are being good or bad.

Between the time we "went to bed" and could wake mom and dad up were the longest hours of our very existence.  The boys had a room and the girls had a room but on Christmas Eve it wasn't uncommon for us all to end up in one room, each counting down the minutes by increments of 15.  I remember one particular Christmas Eve we tried to stay up ALL night long and we made it until probably 4:30 or 5:00 bouncing with excitement, wondering what we would get, analyzing each sound wondering if we had just heard the reindeer on top, etc.

Another night I remember being so excited that I couldn't sleep, which was pretty much every Christmas Eve.  Anyway, I lay in my bed when I swear I heard a sound coming from the fireplace in the next room followed by a creak on the stairs.  It had to be Santa and since he know's if your sleeping I hurried and shut my eyes hoping he wouldn't skip our house.

As I got to be a teenager it was still fun to have my younger siblings come wake me up wondering if we could get Mom and Dad up yet.  The funny part is that my youngest sister sleeps like a log and out of all of us kids could totally sleep through Christmas morning if we didn't wake her up.

Confession:  I still get a little giddy on Christmas Eve and wake up more than usual wondering how long until we can get up out of bed.

It's funny but no matter how old I get I don't think I will ever outgrow the "Christmas Magic" especially since so many fond memories are attached to it.

What were your Christmas Eve traditions?

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Weekend Before Christmas

Twas the weekend before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse... or cricket or whatever we may have. Why? Because they can't find their way through all the chaos!

Ok this Christmas season has not gone quite like I had planned. First off we are still missing half of our tree. We let someone borrow it last year as we were still moving into our house after repairs from the tornado and somehow the top didn't make it into the box. Thus I think I'm going to need to buy a new one after Christmas when they all go on sale. Suffice it to say my house is nowhere near designer decorated liked I had hoped.

This weekend is getting busier by the minute between cookie exchanges, dinner parties, lesson preparations, finishing my new tree skirt etc. I swear every time I get the kitchen cleaned it explodes into a bigger mess than what I just cleaned up after from all of the cooking.

However, I'm getting ready to head to the post office to finally mail off my Christmas cards and the last of my Christmas presents. While I feel like many my plans have fallen through and my house is turning into a war zone I still feel merry... and bright. Christmas will not be canceled no matter what does or doesn't go according to plan.

Next week I hope to reveal my finished tree skirt and another Christmas project even if they are a few weeks late as well as make a couple of big announcements, like REALLY BIG.

How is your Christmas list coming? What's left? What do your weekend plans entail?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Easy DIY Apothecary Jars

Have you seen those apothecary looking jar ideas floating around on Pinterest? Ya me too. There were so many cute ideas however some of them were a little pricey to make, as in it would be cheaper to go buy a set already made. Sometimes there is more of a thrill when you can make something beautiful for almost nothing.

My sister in-law found an idea to use old pickle jars and candlesticks to make apothecaryesque looking stands. Too bad the husband and I don't eat pickles ever. However, I did have a few various jars I had saved.

My grandma has always lived by the principle of "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." I've always admired her frugal ways and started saving my glass jars. Above the largest jar was once filled filled with artichoke hearts. The one on the right was probably filled with salsa or tomato sauce and the smallest is a canning jar that once was the home to well something I had canned.

This DIY is seriously so easy and since I already had the jars cost me a total of $3 to make.

Supplies Needed:
3 Jars of Various Sizes
3 Candlesticks ( I got mine from the Dollar Store)
E-6000 Glue

Put a little bit of glue on top of the candlesticks. Center your jars above the candlesticks and then place on top of glue. Let it dry overnight and Presto! All Done!

You could make so many great variations of this project. Say you wanted a black base... all you would have to do is spray paint the candlesticks before gluing. I have lids for all three jars that I may or may not spray paint silver. For now I really love the simplicity of it all.

It has added so much to my Christmas Decor and would be another great gift idea.

I'm in love.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday's Moment (Shepherd's Meal)

Ok I know I've taken a few weeks off from Monday's Moments but it's time to get back on the band wagon. Today's post is all about TRADITIONS.

When you hear the word "tradition" is it said in Tevye's voice from Fiddler on the Roof. Ya same here. In fact the song starts playing as soon as I think of it.

The holidays are often filled with various traditions. The husband and I are still trying on a few for size and deciding which traditions we as a family would like to continue on with. However, today I would like to talk about a Christmas tradition I had growing up.

Every Christmas Eve we would read the Christmas Story from Luke. When we were young we started adding on to this tradition by eating a "Shepherd's Meal" while someone read the story. We would pull out the blankets for an indoor picnic, turn some of the lights out and grab our meal that was in a muslin bag. Inside the bag we would find jerky, string cheese, crackers, grapes, and a juice box. Following the story and our meal we would sing a few Christmas hymns.

I loved this tradition because it helped us as kids to take a moment and realize the humble circumstances in which the Christmas Story is told. Our focus was momentarily shifted from the "I Wants" to the true meaning of Christmas : love, service, gratitude, joy, and Hope.

Hubby and I have yet to decide if we will continue this tradition but it is one I would like to at least try once those stubborn children of ours show up.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Missing: One Christmas Tree Top

Dear Mr. Grinch

While Christmas certainly doesn't come from a store I would really appreciate it if you would return the top of our Christmas Tree; the tree skirt I'm working on just won't look as good (and I'm really excited about this tree skirt).


Something About Silver Winner

Let's get right down to business. And the winner is (thanks to


Nicole said...

Following! I thought I already was, but now I guess I am for sure. :S.

Nicole I will email you the details.

Thanks to all who entered and don't forget you can get 10% off of your purchase from Something About Silver through December 10th using the code sarahdawndesigns .

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas 2011 (doTERRA and Essential Oils)

I am a strong believer that our senses play a huge part in our every day life from our moods to our physical and emotional well being.

I've already written several posts on how color can affect our lives. Orange bedrooms anyone? How about blue kitchens? I know that color and light can make us feel sick or help fight off the winter blues.

Thus it should be no surprise to me that certain scents will have various reactions. I was first introduced to essential oils earlier this year while on a cruise. Any kind of motion and me just don't mix very well and I seem to feel the tiniest movements that most people don't. We had barely left port in "smooth" water when I started feeling really sick. My SIL had suggested I put a few drops of Peppermint Oil behind my ears and a little bit on my napkin to smell. Let's just say it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Since then I have found Peppermint Oil to be so helpful. When Peppermint Oil is placed topically is has a cooling sensation (kind of like an Icy Hot feeling). I was having headaches as a side effect to a medicine, a headache that lasted for two weeks. Throughout the day I would put a little bit of oil across my forehead and it would take the edge of my headache. As a result of the cooling sensation it took my focus off the headache for just a few minutes, providing some relief.

I also found it to be extremely helpful with my anxiety. I've had pretty severe anxiety since I was little as the result of some strong genes. It's something I will have to fight all of my life. Anxiety is run by irrational fears a lot of the time. Often I know my anxiety is rising and for no good reason but that doesn't always stop it. Lately, I place a little bit of the Peppermint Oil on my upper lip and again it serves as a distraction just like it did for the headache. It is usually enough for me to take control of my anxiety and push those thoughts away.

Anyone feel exceptionally gross on airplanes? I find that a little bit of peppermint seems to freshen things up and allow me to not think about all the recycled air as much. I could go on and on with the uses for Peppermint Oil.

Thus the doTerra Essential Oils made it high on my list of Holiday Gift Ideas for 2011. Luckily I didn't have to wait long as my SIL sent me this starter kit for my birthday a few weeks ago. They can be a little pricey but they are totally worth it in my book. Both my SIL and a chemistry friend of mine swear that this brand is the best and the most regulated (as in you know exactly what is in it).

Since I received my starter pack I have already fallen in love with the Lavender Oil. It too has helped with my motion sickness and anxiety. I put it in my bath water and almost instantly started relaxing, which is key to fighting those anxious thoughts and feelings.

For someone who is sensitive to most medications I have found the essential oils to be a huge blessings and would highly recommend them.

What is making the top of your list for Holiday Gift Ideas in 2011?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Evolution of the Digital Christmas Card

As you can see my digital Christmas cards for my own personal use have come a long way. I looked and looked for 2009's digital Christmas card as it was pivotal but I just can't seem to find it. It was about that time that I discovered my love for designing and creating cards and announcements for people. A year later I opened up shop and find that my skills are ever growing as I learn more and more about my programs.

It's not too late to get your Christmas card template for this year and still have time to send out your photo Christmas cards, mine are going in the mail this week.

In fact my friend Angie from Blessed Beyond Words is offering one of my Christmas card templates for FREE through a give-away. You can find details on how to enter on her blog. Right now your chances are really good for winning so make sure and enter now.

As always please take a look at my large selection found on my website and email me with any questions or concerns at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Inexpensive Gift Ideas (Dec. Download of the Month)

Do you have your Christmas music turned up real loud? I know I've been jamming all day while I completed this month's free download of the month. As you may or may not have suspected it is another countdown printable just in time for Christmas. You can find this Christmas printable on my website under my "Download of the Month" section.

In addition I have left up the countdowns for Thanksgiving and Halloween as printing all three free downloads would make for an inexpensive Christmas gift for someone special in your life. All you would need other than the prints would be some kind of 8 x 10 frame.

Like all my countdowns each print was designed on an 8 1/2 x 11 size paper with the idea that you will trim it down to fit in an 8 x 10 frame.

It's fitting that since today is the 1st of December we would be having a blizzard and the freeway has been shut down. Thus I do not have a photo of the Christmas Countdown in my house, just yet. It works like the other two only you use the dry erase marker to keep track of the days on top of the star (on top of the glass) instead of the turkey or pumpkin.

Below are examples of the other free countdown printables.

I hope you enjoy them. I will leave them up until the end of December. Happy Downloading!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Personalized Gifts For Her (Something About Silver)

I have been anxiously waiting to show you this great idea for personalized gifts for her. Something About Silver approached me about doing a product review for their Layers of Love necklace. I immediately thought of Christmas and my own mother as I do not yet have children of my own.

If you are like me, parents can be so hard to shop for. They either already have it or don't want it. As the oldest of seven children my siblings seem to think that the responsibility for finding any kind of gift for my parents is up to me. Talk about pressure... the ideas aren't always there.

This Layers of Love necklace is just the kind of idea I needed this year. I had them stamp all seven names of the children in my family. I left out spouses as that would be a lot of names. The final product turned out perfect. It can be simple or classy and has so many applications.

The actual product came with the pendant and chain. I added the other purple necklace to help show some of its versatility. I think the only thing I will change is to get a different chain, something a little longer to suit the look I think my mom will wear more often.

I told Something About Silver about how I have yet to have any of my own children. They happily agreed to also make for me this cute little anniversary pendant. I love that they personalized an item for me regardless of my family's little size.

I could totally see this being used as a necklace or bracelet. It could easily fit onto a charm bracelet and could be used as a personalized gift for those other women in your life that are not yet mothers such as a daughter with her birthday.

Both pendants could easily go from simple, classy and dressy...

to fun and casual.

The best part is that Something About Silver has offered to give one you, my fantastic readers, a $40 gift certificate to their store.

How to Enter

*Mandatory Entry*
Go to their website and come back and tell me what you would use the gift certificate for.

Additional Entries

(1 Entry Each)
-Become a Blog Follower of Sarah Dawn Designs (Leave me a comment)
-Subscribe to Something About Silver's Newsletter (Leave me a comment)

(Up to 5 Entries)
Blog or Tweet about this Giveaway (Leave me a comment each time you share)

This give-away will be open until Midnight on December 7, 2011 and is open to all U. S citizens.

In addition Something About Silver has offered my readers 10% off any purchase ordered by December 10th by using the code sarahdawndesigns .

You can also find Something About Silver on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Is it bad that I feel like an Elf, giddy with excitement at the opportunity to help Santa?

*Please note that I did not receive any form or payment for this review other than the two pendants shown above. All opinions are my own.*

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gift Ideas For Her (Domino)

This week I would like to feature some items that I think would make great gift ideas.

My birthday typically falls during the week of Thanksgiving. Thus starting around the beginning of November my husband asks for a list of "gift ideas for her" to help with both my birthday and Christmas. The problem is that my husband likes to surprise me... thus often times he doesn't choose very many items off of my list if at all.

For at least three years I have been asking for Domino; By Deborah Needleman, Sara Ruffin Costello & Dara Caponigro. Guess what? I finally got it just this last week and I couldn't be more excited. It has lots of ideas on how to design and decorate you house. There are floorplan suggestions and furniture arrangements. Not quite sure just what your "style" is or what color palette you want to use? No worries there are lots and lots of ideas. It takes you room by room with great design tips. Most of all it is full of page after page of inspiration! I'm itching to take my copy and just lose myself in great design for hours.

It definitely makes it high on my list of suggestions for gift ideas for her. What makes your top ten list?

Be sure to check back tomorrow for another great gift idea for her, this one is more personalized.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt (The Results)

1.) Flowers 2.) Running Water 3.) The Court Building(Historical Buildings) 4.) The Baseball Fields 5.) Toilet Paper 6.) Washing Machine 7.) Scarves
8.) Pomegranates/Fruits 9.) Kitchenaid Mixer 10.) Snow

11.) Fingerless Gloves 12.) Mail 13.) The Family Proclomation 14.) Games 15.) Great - Great Grandmother's Fork (The one I'm named after) 16.) Target 17.) Beautiful Scenery 18.) Warm Down Blankets 19.) Bill Cosby (and my husbands impersonations)
20.) Hot Chocolate Mugs

21.) Fall Scents 22.) Vinegar (it works miracles) 23.) Spaghetti 24.) Besties
25.) Route 66 26.) American Flag, waving to all 27.) Pumpkins
28.) Shoes and Boots 29.) Water and Vitamin C

30.) A printable/sign meant for all of my awesome readers!

I know you've been waiting all day for this post. Above are my finds from the Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt. I found that it was a little harder than I anticipated. For example I would read a category like, "Something Indicative of Your City." Lots of ideas came to mind like the Lumberjack statue that sits in the middle of town. However, I'm not really grateful for that statue. Thus I really had to think on a few of them. I LOVED doing this though and think I will start a new tradition of doing this scavenger hunt each year.

I'm so excited to see all of yours! Be sure to leave a link or email the details and if you still haven't gotten started I will leave the list for this scavenger hunt on my website. It's never to late to find those things we are grateful for.

Let the fun begin!

Check out what my friend Evelyn over at Hanging By a Silver Lining is grateful for.

Chemistrymamma had her kids complete this scavenger hunt as well as do it herself.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 Digital Christmas Cards (Teal n Red)

Christmas Definition Card

Christmas Trees Card

Christmas Chevron Card

Teal and Red Christmas Card

As promised I have four more digital Christmas cards to share with you inspired by this cute little family. (Don't you just love the little girl's hair, I know I do). I think their color palette transposed into the Christmas card templates beautifully.

Which brings me to my next item of business. If you browse through my card selection and don't see something you are interested please contact me for pricing on complete custom card or announcement design.

If you are a photographer and interested in purchasing some of my designs for the use of your business please email me for package information.

All four digital Christmas cards are available on my website in the following sizes:

4 x 6
5 x 7
6 x 7 1/2

and in both formats:

PSD (for those with Photoshop)

JPEG (for those who don't have Photoshop, I will place your photos and info into the
template and send you the final jpeg, ready for you to print.)

In addition my Shabby Christmas Cards are also now available on my website.

Do you have your digital Christmas cards selected? Christmas is just around the corner!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waving U.S. Flag - (A Scavenger Hunt Find)

I know, its only a few short days until the rest of the photos from this hunt will be shared but I just couldn't wait. Part of the Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt is to find a photo that represents your country and I decided that I wanted to get one of the American flag.

I was thrilled to get this shot of a waving U.S. flag and state flag. Yesterday was a BEAUTIFUL day with the wind at just the right speed. I snapped a few shots of the waving U.S. flag on my way home from town and loaded everything on to my computer.

First if you have tried to take a photo of a waving U.S. flag or any flag for that matter you know that it make take several tries to get a decent looking photo. As I went through my photos on my computer I came across this little beauty, completely in focus with great proportions and placement.

I don't feel like I'm a very good photographer. I know when a photo looks good and when things are out of place but something happens between the knowledge in my brain and my squinting eye as I look through the lens. After yesterday I feel like there may be hope for me yet.

Maybe that hope will someday get me away from the manual settings on my camera.

Every time I look at this photo it puts a smile on my face. I'm so grateful for the country I live in, for those who laid its foundations, for the traditions we carry on, and all those who protect our freedoms.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How To Create A Photo Collage Wall

I may have an addiction to photos and have more than one photo collage wall. This means lots of nail holes in my walls which at first was a headache to get it just right. I have a photo collage wall the is asymmetrical and one that is very much symmetrical. Thus I needed to be pretty darn precise.

The first time I laid my photos on the floor until I was happy with my arrangements. Then I would take "rough" measurements, had my husband take the frame and try and figure where the bracket was at and put a hole in the wall. The first time he did this he put the nail in place where the pencil dot was. We use the nail hooks for photos to put less pressure on the nail and hole so that means all my photos were actually hanging lower than I wanted. Being the perfectionist I am I had to go back and create a lot more holes in my wall to get it somewhat more correct. As you can see from the photo above, the whole photo collage wall is a lot lower than is visually pleasing. Then the tornado came and the wall had to be fixed, holes filled in, and I got the opportunity to re-hang everything.

I did things differently this time.

1.) I arranged my photos on the floor making sure that my overall composition created the lines I wanted (like long horizontal lines).

2.) I measured EVERYTHING and made sure it was exact. This took a short amount of time. I would draw a symbol to represent each frame. I would mark where the bottom of the photo was. Another dot was drawn where the top of the frame was. Then I measured in to where the middle of my bracket was (which is rarely the precise middle of the frame) and how far from the top of the frame it was.

3.) I would measure the distance between my frames and any other measurement I thought would be important. This included the overall height of my photo collage so that I could center it with the opening on my wall.

4.) The measurements were then transferred to the wall by small pencil marks that were later erased.

5.) I made sure the bottom of the hook was placed on top of the dot indicating where the bracket is located.

I know it sounds like it was a lot of work but it actually took less time to hang my photos up the second time around and I wasn't angry or frustrated during the process AND I only had to pound in the minimum number of holes. I don't have one extra hole. My photos and other decorative items are exactly where I want them and look like they were professionally hung.

How do you hang photos? Is it a grueling process?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday's Moment (November 14th, 2011)

This edition of Monday's Moment is in honor of the type of family I came from and the type of family I married in to. You may recall the "funny" my father-in-law pulled on me while we were out at the lake one time from last week's post. I am no stranger to this kind of behavior.

I come from a family full of mischief and pranks. My parents use to belong to a group known as "The Birthday Bashers," where they would pull different pranks on their group of friends for their birthdays. Some included building snow walls around their front door, Oreos on the windshield, large paper circles all over the house, and a real cow pie.

These tendencies were passed down to my siblings and I. Lucky for me I married a man who could handle the various unknowns and dish a few out himself. Pictured above is a time when we were engaged and I started an impromptu chocolate fight. Right around the time we were engaged my parents sent him a survey to "Date My Daughter," and the poor guy wasn't positive if they were serious about the whole thing or not. The hubby was well informed by the time we actually got married and was starting to pick up on certain things.

Why this subject for today's Monday's Moment? We are preparing to go see my family. Again, when the husband and I were dating and engaged my brothers would try and short sheet his bed ALL THE TIME. I have the thought that we need to check our bed as soon as we get there, just out of habit.

I love my family and can't wait to see them and to match anything they may have up their sleeves.

Friday, November 11, 2011

2011 Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt - Update

How are your photos coming along for our scavenger hunt? You haven't started? That's ok, I have good news! We have opened up the scavenger hunt for one more week. That means that everyone will be taking photos up until November 20th and then post their finds starting on November 21st.

This is great date night (or day date) activity to do with a loved one, a fun family activity, or something just to do on your own. Really the only rule/s is to get creative and have a great time while doing it.

If you missed the first post, here are the details on our Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt.

You can find the checklist to print off on my website.

Please feel free to share the links with your friends on Facebook or Pin it to Pinterest. The more the merrier!

Happy Photo Taking!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shabby Christmas Cards 2011 (Preview)

This week has not gone at all like I had planned, not that it has been bad. I had hoped to finish these Shabby Christmas Card Templates and have them up on my website a few days ago, alas I have changed my goal to be the end of this weekend. I'm not sure if they are quite finished, more specifically the middle card. I have an idea for something I'd like to add but that would require actually sitting down and finishing it.

If you couldn't tell these Shabby Christmas Cards were inspired by our family photos that were taken this year. I really like them and now have to choose which one I'm going to send out or if I want to create a whole new one.

I also have in the works another set that were inspired by one of my best friend's family that hopefully I will have ready by next Tuesday. (Hint: It's centered teal, red, and grey).

It's that time to start getting your orders in whether you download a .psd and use your version of Photoshop to make changes or you want me to add your photos in and make changes and send you the final .jpeg file for you to print.

Make sure and check out all of the templates that are available on my website. If you don't see something that suites your fancy don't hesitate to contact me about a "custom made Christmas card."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (My Favorite!)

Spaghetti is my absolutely, most favorite meal hands down. However, I will rarely order it when we are at an Italian restaurant. Why? Because I am spoiled and grew up with a homemade sauce. I have yet to find a spaghetti sauce that is mass produced that competes with my mom's recipe. I love that in addition to be so tasty it is also so versatile.

The Basic Ingredients:

1 can of stewed tomatoes (though I hope to one day can my own)
1 can tomato soup
1/4 of a large onion
Chile Powder

(I don't have exact measurements for the herbs and spices because I just eyeball it according to taste)

Ingredients That Can be Added:

Hamburger ( I usually put just a little bit in)
Carrot Slivers (using my potato peeler)
Bell Peppers
Small Spoonful of Sugar (to balance the acid)

If I'm using hamburger I will brown it with my onions and throw in my zucchini and/or bell peppers as soon as they are cut up. Then I just mix the rest together and let it all simmer for a 10-20 minutes depending on time.

I myself LOVE the texture of a chunkier sauce however for those that don't or have picky eaters who "don't like" vegetables you could easily throw this sauce into the blender to make it look and feel like a store bought sauce.

I don't always put the extra vegetables in. It will often depend on what is on sale at the store, what is in my fridge, and what we are having the rest of the week. I love though that I can get so many different vegetables into one meal.

In the fall I also like to substitute my wheat noodles with Spaghetti Squash. Once again I like the texture of the squash. I don't know that I could eat it on its own but slathered in sauce and it is divine. It's a healthy substitution and adds variety to this meal. The hardest part is cutting it (you might need a chainsaw) with a hot dog cut, meaning longways. However, once you've cut it in half all you have to do is place it with the open sides facing down in a 9 x 13 glass pan. Fill the pan 1/3 - 1/2 of the way with water and put it into your oven for 30 min at 400 degrees. When you pull it out all you have to do is scrape your fork through it and whalaa... noodles.

Do you have any special ingredients you add to your sauce?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday's Moment (November 7th, 2011)

I know today's Monday's Moment is a day late. I was out of town, didn't take my laptop with me, and ended up staying an extra night because of weather.

As of late I've been thinking a lot about how lucky I am to have the in-laws that I do. They are both so kind and loving and fun to be around. I love the time I get to spend with them and the little adventures we have.

One particular one that comes to mind takes place at one of our favorite family get-away locations... the lake. The whole family had gone up to the houseboat for a long weekend but had to leave on Monday. My in-laws and I stayed for a while longer. On one of these days my father-in-law and I had taken the jet-skis out to go explore some of the more narrow parts of the lake. It was so pretty getting to see some of the rock formations up so close. After an hour or two we decided to head back to the boat.

I'm still a newbie when it comes to the lake and quickly loose my sense of direction. I was leading to set the pace but was making sure we didn't get to far apart. We came up to a giant rock or a small mountain whatever suits your fancy. I took one side and my father-in-law took the other. This rock was extremely tall and fairly wide. Thus when I came out on the other side I started looking for my father-in-law to make sure we didn't crash into one another... only he wasn't there.

I looked behind me to see if he had changed his mind and decided to come on the same side of the rock as I did but he was nowhere to be seen. Surely he wasn't going fast enough that he would have come out ahead of me and kept going. I sat for a moment and decided to drive around the rock. I couldn't hear his jet ski and as I made my way around could not see any sign of him. "What the heck is going on here?" I started thinking of all the different scenarios as I kept going around the rock. "There's no way he crashed or sank, the jet ski would be floating somewhere if he had. I know he didn't keep going without me. Jet skis and father-in-laws don't just disappear, right?"

I was starting to get worried and had no idea what I should when all a sudden my father-in-law comes around the rock... the same one I had been circling. He had been following behind just enough that I couldn't see him for FIVE minutes. That stinker! I was so mad (in a non serious way). I was worried sick and here he is playing a prank? We both had a good laugh after we got back to the houseboat.

I love that he can be serious in the times he needs to be but knows how to spice up life when it's appropriate. Good thing he can take what he dishes out... Muah ha ha ha.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt (and Blog Hop)

These printables can be found on my website, here.
During November so many people are reminded of the things they are most grateful for. While the is one of the main reasons for Thanksgiving Day I wanted to be able to celebrate this season with more than just my family. Thus some of my online friends and I thought it would be fun to do a Gratitude Photo Scavenger Hunt for one week and then link up the next. It would be a great activity to do with your kids, spouse, friends, etc. and the challenge is to be creative with it.

Thus here are the details.

-The Scavenger Hunt will start now, November 3rd and go through November 20th. The idea is to try and get as many photos from the list as you can. If you don't finish that's ok too, show us what you did find.

-The following week will be our show and tell week where you can then post your photos in a blog post, on Facebook, or wherever and however you would like. Mine will be going up on Monday, November 21st where I will be linking to those interested in a blog hop.

Not interested in the blog hop? No problem, simply leave the link to your blog post in the comments and I will gladly come see how your hunt turned out.

If you are like me you may want to throw some kind of Gratitude Party in the end to celebrate but it's not a requirement, just another reason to get together with those we care about.

On your mark... get set... GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*If you are interested in a blog hop please email me at *

$50 Amazon Winner

Thanks to all who entered!!!

The winner has been selected thanks to Random Integer, and the lucky reader is...

#30 Elijahs Life, who said

Elijahs Life said...

I love #1. Completely adorable.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Craft - (Wood Blocks)

I am grateful for Craft Club. Once a month I get together will 12 or so other ladies to do one or more crafts. A majority of the time we just talk and catch up. Last year in November we made these wood blocks. Remember how I said I don't necessarily have typical holiday colors throughout my house? This means that when it comes to our craft club I often have to bring my own supplies or some of them to make it work. The ladies made their blocks in orange, yellow, green and brown and they looked great. I had tried so hard to phase green out of everything in my house and while I have copper through the space I don't have a lot of "brown."

I also added a watered down acrylic metallic finish, I think it was called "Champagne," to the blocks which added a little bit of sparkle

This craft was super easy to make. The guy at home depot cut out all of the wood blocks so all we had to do was sand and paint them. The girl hosting used one of the fancy machines (i.e. Silhouette, Cricket) to cut out the letters and then we modge podged them on. Done!

I loved this craft and was so sad that I didn't get to put them up last year, as our house was still under construction from the tornado. What have you made for the Thanksgiving season?

Don't forget to check out my website for November's free downloads including the Chevron Gratitude print seen in the above photo.

P.S. I know the lighting in the photos is terrible. If we owned the house I would definitely put up track lighting in the entry way.