Friday, January 31, 2014

Countdown to Valentine's Day


I love the anticipation of a countdown – whether it’s celebrating the Advent at Christmastime or checking off the days before a vacation, the joy of what’s to come makes me as giddy as a child. And it doesn’t take much to get a child excited about each new day… mine, at least!


When something as practical *wink* as a Valentine’s countdown can double as decoration for my dining room, I’m all about it! So here is how I created my Valentine’s bunting/countdown.


My supplies: cutesy scrapbook paper and stickers from Hobby Lobby, a handmade crocheted heart garland from my sister-in-law, vintage postcards collected from antique shops, mini clothespins and vintage Air Mail envelopes from Etsy.

This year, while continuing in our tradition, I decided to stray away from the extra clutter and sweets that I tend to fill my daughters’ advent gifts with and instead make our countdown to Valentine’s Day more about the experiences.


I wrote down 14 different things for us to do, while looking at my calendar and planning things that would realistically work for us and around our schedule.


I used the number stickers to easily add the 14 days leading up to Valentine’s Day, from February 1st when we’ll begin our countdown, to the envelopes and then filled them with the activity cards.

I should also note that I didn’t seal the envelopes so if something comes up and I have to switch things around, I don’t have to do much work. Also, I made myself a “key” so that I’m not surprised with something like “making marshmallows” without having the ingredients ready to go.


With a few pieces of tape, I strung up my garland and added in all the goodies to fill it out. 

Is it February yet??


Enjoy!
Jessica

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Free Valentine's Day Printables

I've always loved February.
 Possibly, because it's my birth-month, and there is a small glimmer of hope that winter is nearing it's end, and spring is soon to be here!



After the heavy Christmas decor is put away, and the house gets a mid-winter scrub, I like to throw a splash of red and pink around the house with glittery hearts here and there.



The house always feels so fresh and clean and is just begging for a pop
of color here and there.



One of my favorite ways to freshen up the house is to add a little seasonal art to a frame.

Here are 3 free printables just for you!
Just click on the title you like, and it will lead you to the print page! 
Print all 3 for yourself, or give some away!


Prints may not be sold for profit, thank you!


Enjoy!
Ann

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our First Giveaway!!

If you're from where I live, you may have not left the house now for quite a few days, and you may be sporting yoga pants and no makeup for just as many. I will say, I threw on my stretchiest jeans today, just to look a little more "put together" for my husband. It's windy and cold and snowy. The kids 2 day weekend has now turned into a 6 day weekend! So, since you're all stuck inside today, and I'm sure you could use a little cheer in your life, I'm giving away one of my Valentine's Day banners! You get to choose between the 3 designs! 

Enter up to 3 times by doing any of the following:
On Again Off Again
1. Come find me on IG, I'm elylane. I'll have a post for you to share!

 Mixed Emotions
2. Comment and tell me which one you will pick if you win!
Did you see my quirky names under each banner? All in the name of love.

 Strong and Steady
3. And of course we want you following us, because it's sad when you feel all alone, and you can hear an echo every time you type a new post.

So come on, I know you're just hanging out in your yoga pants too, and you can't leave the house or you'll get a $2,500 fine. So take a sec and enter all 3 times!
I promise we'll love ya for it!!

Giveaway ends on Friday, January 31st at noon!

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Valentine's Raspberry Marshmallows

I’ve only made them a handful of times, but to me there’s something special about a homemade marshmallow. They remind me of a friend of mine who used to come up with the yummiest flavors and they always turned out so perfectly!


My girls love regular marshmallows and they’re often the most-requested treat around here. I haven’t attempted making many of our favorite store bought snacks from scratch because my gut always tells me it will be a waste of time with my picky eaters... But I’m hoping to change that with a few new recipes I’ve discovered, starting with these sweet, fluffy, gooey marshmallows.

I got my original recipe, after a few Pinterest searches, here. And this is how I tweaked it a bit to work for me: 


I didn’t want to add any unnecessary artificial food coloring but pink Valentine’s marshmallows are NECESSARY so I used half a cup of water and a pint of raspberries and boiled them to break down the berry and get all the great juices out. I strained the juice and pulp through a sieve lined with a coffee filter to keep the tiny seeds out. After cooled, I simply substituted this raspberry juice for the ½ cup of water that the recipe calls for.


Perfectly pale pink and the added antioxidants don’t hurt, either!

P.S. My girls LOVE them!

Enjoy! 
Jessica

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Homemade Pop Tarts

A few years ago, I challenged myself to not buy anything in a box at the grocery store.

A tough challenge when, at the time, I was packing 4 lunches a day for our kids.

When I realized we weren't starving, I was actually saving money, and saw the health benefits of making as much as I could homemade, I decided to stick with it.

I scoured the internet to learn how to make my own pancake mix, crackers, and even cereal.

One day while shopping in William Sonoma, I spied the most brilliant gadget!

A "Pop Tart" press! The heavens opened up and angels sang! 

Photo above from William Sonoma

I secretly really really really like lohuv cherry "Pop Tarts".... toasted.... until they are barely burnt.
It had never occurred to me to make pop tarts! Well, I grabbed the gadget, went home and made them the next day. Amazing.

Give them a try. I realize this is a lot of work to make a silly "Pop Tart", but after tasting the homemade version, it's really not so silly.


Instructions:
Whip up your favorite pie crust recipe, or open store bought pie crust. (No judgments here.)


Roll out into the best rectangle you can. With a pizza cutter, make pop tart like shapes out of the dough.


They do not have to be perfect. Do your best to match them up size wise.

Here's the hardest part. Deciding on what filling.... so many options... 
Strawberry ~ strawberry preserves, 
S'mores ~ chocolate chips and miniature marshmallows
Blueberry~ blueberry jelly
I could keep going here, but you get the idea....


Today I'm making Brown Sugar and Cinnamon.... I'm not even kidding....


In a bowl add 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 T. flour. Mix until blended.

Put 1 Tablespoon of mixture to the center of half of the pastries. Spread them out with your fingers, leaving at least a half inch of space on the edges. 
(This is where pictures would be very helpful, but I hit delete instead of save in my photo editing program, so let's use our imaginations.)

Make an egg wash:
Break an egg in a bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of water. Mix well. With a pastry brush, paint the edges
of the other rectangle with the egg wash. Put the pastry egg side down, and seal the edges with a fork.
Brush the tops of the tarts with remaining egg wash.

Poke holes in the tops of the tarts with a skewer..

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

To make icing:
Add 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. vanilla, and milk 1 T. at a time until smooth. 
Frost the cooled pastries with the back of a spoon.


Servings will vary depending on your pie crust, and how large or small you make your tarts:)

Note: 
I have only used the "press" once, and realized how unnecessary it is. And... when linking up to William Sonoma's website, I realized they are not carrying it anymore... Not a big deal, but I wanted to give them credit since, they were the inspiration for this recipe.


- Ann


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our Sunroom

Today is just bitter cold, so what better room to show you in our house, than our sunroom! Maybe it can brighten our mood a bit!

When we built our home, this room was on the blue print as a screened in porch. We ended up with some "mess-up" windows from a job my husband had done and some extra bead board from another job, and voila, we had a usable space! I know we would've enjoyed it as a porch, but this extra square footage  is so helpful!


When we built, I was very much into modern decor, so the wall paint above the windows was lime green , and there was a whole different feel to the space. I've since gone the complete opposite direction with my decorating style. We later repainted the wall a dark grey. 

 Chair: Auction

I had gotten this chair at the auction, and intended to sell it, but boy am I glad I didn't. I love it in this cozy corner. 


Everything you see is basically stuff that I have thrifted or gotten for amazing prices at antiques shops.

Wire Tray: Junk Evolution

This wire tray is so helpful for corralling all of my magazines on the coffee table.

I seriously got this couch for a steal! It's quite sickening.

Coffee Table: Dutch Village Market

I think the quirkiness of this coffee table is what got me. I love how somebody must have pieced it together. The metal trunk underneath is great for holding more magazines. Yes, I'm a decorating magazine hoarder! And, no, I'm actually not an organic gardener!

 Footstool: Dutch Village Market

Love the geometric pattern in this footstool!

White Curtains and Hardware: Ikea ~ Large Sisal Rug: Lowes ~ Round Sisal Rug: TJ Maxx

This room has great lighting, and is where I take all of my product shots.
You may be wondering what's on the other wall that I keep cropping out of all of the pictures. Well, it's our elliptical. It's not pretty there, but it's actually a nice sunny spot to work out and stare out into the fields. And, if it were in the basement where I couldn't see it every day, you know I probably wouldn't be using it! All that to say, I really don't use it that often.

Tomorrow Ann will be over here showing you how to make homemade pop tarts! YUM!               Until then...

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Monday, January 20, 2014

The January Doldrums and Meet my Contributors!

Hey Ladies, today I'm so excited to share with you my blog contributors! Click here, and you can read all about them and see their lovely faces. I don't think that I have the best ideas ever or am the greatest cook, so I'm excited to have a couple gals who are very talented on board. Today I'm going to let Jessica take it away with a simple project that packs a lot of punch!

Is it just me or does mid-January feel… well, dull? Christmas decorations are down, Valentine’s hasn’t quite gone up and the house (ours, at least) is sparse and slightly sad. There is certainly a renewed spirit with the cleansing that happens post-New Year. Organizing, cleaning and just re-gathering. But alas – we needed a pick-me-up in our home. Something to add a bit more cheer and spontaneity and smiles. Seriously, smiles do a lot for our little family!


We started with a rather blank wall, a remnant picture frame that had previously been chalkboarded, and to be honest, by itself was a bit too small for this wall in our kitchen. I let Lyla, my oldest at 3 ½ yrs. old, help me choose from some inspiration pictures I found around Pinterest. After deciding on polka dots, I vetoed her decision of pink and chose a more long-lasting color based on our home’s current d├ęcor – BLACK! We ordered sixty 2 inch vinyl dots from Etsy seller, lishie.


The OCD side of me really REALLY wanted to measure out a perfect system of lined up dots, row by row. But deep down I knew that the quirkiness of random dots would really make me happy. So I went at it! Of the 60 dots I had, I placed the first 30 rather close together… putting them on the wall as my little heart desired. Once I got to the second sheet of dots I was approximately halfway down the wall so I started placing them more sporadically…. Similar to confetti dropping from a huge balloon that has just been popped (did I mention I super enjoy spontaneity!?) I still have around 10 dots left that I plan to use for another project.


With less than 15 minutes of my time and under $15, I now have a little wall in a little corner of my kitchen that gives me a BIG dose of happiness.


Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.”

Jessica

See, I told you she was great! Now, I'm trying to decide where I can put some polka dots in my house!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Re-purpose your bassinet

Babies too big for their vintage bassinet? Don't kick it to the curb quite yet. Here are a few ideas that you can use to re-purpose your bassinet. Or if you like the ideas enough and don't have a bassinet, go buy yourself one! 


I love that you can spray-paint these any color you'd like to match your decor.


We have so many games, puzzles and extra blankets. This would be a great accessory to any family room. Keep the games out where you can see them. I bet you'll play them more!


This would be adorable in any little girl's room loaded with stuffed animals, dolls, and blankets. And when she's a little older, she'll have fun playing "mommy" with her babies.



Need more storage for your craft room? Stack lots of fabric in this beauty. I love functional storage that is also easy on the eyes! There's enough room under this to store a crate with more materials in it. Whenever you can have something up off the ground, it's like double the storage.


If you like the bassinet in these pictures, you're in luck! It's currently for sale. Head on over to my FB page for more details.


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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cleaning Schedule - Free Printable

If you're anything like me, the new year signifies a time to get more organized with our homes and our schedules. This morning I was on the hunt for a cleaning schedule, because really I have no method to my cleaning madness, so sometimes things don't get cleaned like they should. There are loads of schedules on Pinterest, and I just couldn't decide which one I wanted to use. So, I decided to come up with a fun retro style one of my own. 

Click here to download and print your own. 

I wanted to make a schedule that wasn't too overwhelming and specific. Go look at the Martha Stewart schedule and you'll feel like a real failure of a housewife. If you have more time one week, maybe you actually take the time to deep clean your kitchen, but otherwise, just do what you can with the time you're allowed. Making some effort is better than no effort. Am I right? 

I love the idea of placing it in a sheet protector and using a washable marker to cross off your list. I always work better when I know I can actually cross something off my list.

 I hope this little ditty can get you on the right track this year. And, always remember to cut yourself some slack. Someday when the kids have moved out, we'll have all the time we need to clean. Enjoy them while you can!


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Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Favorite - Katygirl Designs

What can I say? I love handmade! My business is primarily built on handmade and allows me to stay home with my boys because of it. So in order to get the word out about other amazing artists, I've started this new series called Friday Favorite. 

Every Friday (don't hold me to it), I will feature something that I own that is handmade. If you've sold me something handmade, keep your eye out, you just might be my next feature! 

So let's get started, shall we?

For Christmas I got this absolutely adorable calendar made by Katygirl Designs.


It came with the little easel and adorable calendars for each month.



I placed mine on my desk, so I can look at it often. It really is just one of those things that makes me happy.



I don't see any calendars left in her shop, but she has adorable notecards and prints. And, if you follow her on IG, she sometimes has great specials!

Hurry and go check her out!

{Disclosure: This is solely my opinion, and I have not been paid in any way to give this review. Have something you want me to review? Contact me, and we'll chat!}

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