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the ups and downs of raising 7 children.
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Mommy, wife, family wife

How to add a little joy to your home for the holiday

Feeling the need to add some joy to your home this Christmas season? Have I got the perfect little craft for you!

I picked up 2 wooden letters at Hobby Lobby. They were super cheap!

I grabbed 2 bottles of paint I had on hand... these are Apple Barrel Barn Red and Folkart Spanish Moss. I thought they complimented each other and looked a little rustic.

Then I painted two coats on each letter, on both sides, letting it dry between coats. Then I sanded the edges to make them look a little worn.

I had found some rustic jingle bells while shopping and snatched them up! I've tried to buy jingle bells well into the season before, and they all have disappeared. I decided that one of them could be my O. I took a piece of garland and some berries and twisted them through the top of my jingle bell.

My J was a little top heavy and didn't want to stand up straight very well. So I found a 10 1/2" piece of scrap wood in the garage and painted it off white.

After measuring the wood and figuring out exactly where to place each letter,

I broke out my trusty glue gun and glued everything in place.

You could get fatter letters that would stand up by themselves and forgo the board and gluing if you want. Having the board keeps everything together. It's really up to you.

That was such a quick and easy project. Plus it was cheap! What a fun addition to your holiday decor!

It's A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving tradition

"What kind of Thanksgiving dinner is this? Where's the turkey, Chuck? Don't you know anything about Thanksgiving dinners? Where's the mashed potatoes? Where's the cranberry sauce? Where's the pumpkin pie?"

Those words are never heard at our house. Each year, its tradition that our family sits down to an early Thanksgiving dinner, but no one complains about the lack of turkey and all the fixings. That's because it's a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

When I was younger, I loved watching the holiday special on TV each year. I thought it would be a fun idea to share my childhood memories with my children. So I gathered the supplies to make a dinner just like Snoopy did.

If you have seen the holiday special, you know that Peppermint Patty invites herself over to Charlie Brown's house for Thanksgiving dinner, but Charlie Brown is supposed to be going to his Grandmothers house. To solve his dilemma, he prepares his own Thanksgiving feast. Only one problem. He doesn't know how to cook! So with Snoopy's help, they make large portions of toast, popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans and ice cream sundaes!

Carrying out this tradition is pretty easy. I spread out a quilt on the floor in front of the TV and prepare all the treats.
Then we all sit down and watch Charlie Brown while we enjoy our feast together.

I purchased the show on DVD so that we were free to enjoy our tradition at our convenience. But if you don't have that, you can watch it tonight on ABC.

I have been preparing and serving a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving feast for several years now. It is a favorite with all of our kids... and the parents too! Hope you have as much fun doing it as we do!

A Thanksgiving table your kids will be thankful for

It's almost Thanksgiving! You've planned your menu, your decorations are ready, you are frantically cleaning your house. But what are you going to do with the kids?!

Don't you worry. I have some great ideas for you!

We had early Thanksgiving at our house this past Sunday. I was wondering what to do with the kids table. I knew I needed to give them some entertainment and of course I wanted to make something super cute! I started with a long table and covered it with brown butcher paper. I taped it onto the bottom so that it would stay in place for all those little wigglers.
I picked up the paper at the dollar store in the Christmas mailing section.
I found some free Thanksgiving printables on Pinterest that I printed out to put on the table.

Then the idea struck to make a cute crayon holder. We had some cut branches in the garage we had been using for a few other projects. I used a chop saw to cut three different sizes of rings.

I hot glued them together to make the form of a turkey.

Then I drilled 7 holes, staggered. 4 in the back and 3 in the front.

I cut the corner off of an orange piece of cardstock for the beak and then freehand cut a red piece to hang off the beak. (I googled it... it's correct term is a snood. Who knew?) I grabbed some googly eyes and glued all the pieces onto the smallest circle to make a face.

I added some crayons into the drilled holes for feathers and my crayon turkey was complete!

The next thing I decided to make were these cute placecards. We had 10 little ones coming to dinner, so I made 5 pilgrim hats and 5 Indian headbands to represent both pilgrims and Indians that attended the first Thanksgiving feast.

For the pilgrim hats, I painted small Dixie cups black.

I cut circles out of black cardstock.

Then I hot glued the cup onto the center of the circle. I used ribbon to make the band around the hat. Then I used washi tape to make a square buckle.
I wrote each child's name on the brim of the hat with a white chalk marker.

For the Indian headbands, I cut brown cardstock into strips

I used different colored washi tape to make a decorative edge around the headband.
Then, I wrote names with a sharpie in the middle of the strip of paper.
Next, I stapled the paper into a circle.
I hot glued two feathers onto the back of the inside of the headband. And you're done!

With all of these cute projects to put on the table, I didn't need much else. I added 3 small pumpkins and I my table was perfect!

The kids love their space. They drew pictures on the table cloth, colored pictures and wore their hats. Even the adults were impressed. Success!

How I taught my children to be grateful.

Some days I wonder if my kids really know how truly blessed they are. We all have those moments when we feel like life is falling apart because something goes wrong, but is it? Do we stop and take a minute to put things in perspective? Human nature dictates that we see the negative and dwell on it. Something goes wrong and it ruins our entire day. We are faced with a problem and we see the bad instead of looking for the good, instead of looking for the opportunity that the problem presents. I was pondering this, as one of my children was struggling. So I decided it was time for a serious intervention. After contemplating the issue, I came up with a plan. Dinner...served at the Gratitude Grill.

Here's how it works:
First, I created a menu.

Each item listed on the menu has a code name. Each person is given their own menu. They write their name on the front cover and then open it up to read the instructions.

I listed 17 items in the menu and numbered them.

4 courses will be served. Each person chooses what menu item they want to eat for each course. They can only choose each item one time.

The menus are collected and the first course is served.

The different combinations went from totally normal, to comical, to getting hardly any food. It was fun to watch the resourcefulness of the kids figuring out how to eat food without proper utensils.

After each course, everything is taken away before the next course is brought out.

Below is the menu and each item's code name:

Rolling Stones - Meatballs
It's a toss up - Salad
High riser - Roll
No guts, no glory - Spaghetti
Digit topper - Olives
Yellow brick road - Butter
Giant's demise - Green beans
Winter wonderland - Ice cream
Monster madness - Cookie
Snow white's surprise - Apple juice
Farmers friend - Water
Lovers embrace - Spoon
Divide and conquer - Knife
Magic wand - Fork
Pipe snake - Straw
Pine forest - Toothpick
Hip to be square - Napkin

You can mix it up, create your own names, the possibilities are endless! It was fun to create the code names and try not to let the older kids figure out what they were. My oldest daughter figured out "digit topper". And my second oldest figured out "lovers embrace". But those were the only ones! Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Some pointers I learned:

-Label each item with a sticky note and it's corresponding number.

-Keep a copy of the menu in the kitchen so you can keep track of what is what.
-Have help! Especially if you have a large group. My husband and I served our 7 children and it got a little crazy. (We ate afterward). If you're doing this for a large party, you could have someone dishing food, someone serving food and someone clearing the table.
-You can change the number of courses. We did 3 courses and it was a little difficult with 17 items. For the download. I revamped the menu to have 4 courses instead.

Click here to download my menu. Print it from a computer. Click on "print on short edge" under the print options for double side printing, otherwise it will print one side upside down.

After our dinner, we talked about having gratitude for the things we have. Even if they are small. Sometimes we go through life and don't realize how lucky we are to have so many little things we take for granted. I asked them what they learned from this activity. Some of the comments were,

"I learned that this is fun! We should do it every night for dinner!"

"I learned I am really grateful for a Fork!"

"Sometimes you have to be resourceful."

"It makes you realize that you are accountable for your decisions."

"I'm grateful that I got my salad dressing on my salad and not on my ice cream!"

After dinner was cleaned up, we all gathered around the table again to make a gratitude journal. The rule was,
Every night, you write at least 3 things you are thankful for. If you can, write a few sentences about each thing. The catch is, once you have written that you are thankful for something, you can't use it again. This trains our brains to look for the good instead of the bad.

You can easily make a journal. We folded a piece of card stock in half to make the cover of our book.

Next I printed pages for the center of the journal. You could print some here with this cover.

Or just fold your own blank paper.

Then we stapled the book together.

Each of us decorated our own cover with sharpies and washi tape.
Some of the older kids found quotes to add to their journal covers.

Everyone wrote in their journal. So far so good!

I hope that these ideas will help you and your family to be more thankful and show gratitude this holiday season.

Decorative Holiday Tray Tutorial

What can be used to serve your thanksgiving pie to your holiday guests and be displayed for decoration? Check out this amazing DIY tutorial. When you see this, you will want to make one for yourself!

You will need:

An old pallet or wood planks
Hammer (optional)
Nails (optional)
Wood glue
Paint brush
Hack saw

The first thing you need to do is build a tray. Remove 4 boards from your pallet.

Measure the boards to the length you want your tray. I cut mine to about 23 1/2" long.

Measure the width of the tray and cut two end pieces. Mine measured about 14".

Apply glue to the end pieces

Secure with c-clamps. I placed one c-clamp per board. Let dry overnight. Remove C-clamps. The wood glue should hold it in securely. But if desired, you can nail the boards in place.

Next, you need a stencil to paint onto your tray. You can buy a stencil or use a cricut or silhouette machine to cut the vinyl design you want to use. I went for a Thanksgiving theme for mine. If you like my design, you can get the precut vinyl here. These directions will reflect how to use precut vinyl as your stencil.

Place your vinyl onto the tray.

Peel the backing a bit and stick it to the tray so that it doesn't move. Then peel the backing and smooth the vinyl on, making sure it sticks in all places with no bubbles. Next, peel the front paper off and continue to smooth the vinyl.

Now you're ready for painting. A sponge brush or a flat stippling paint brush works well. Put a little paint on your brush and lightly tap your brush onto the stencil. Use light even coats.

If you put the paint on too thick, the paint could bleed under the vinyl. Continue layering paint until you get the desired thickness of paint. Wait for paint to dry and carefully peel back vinyl.

Installing the handles comes next. Choose what handles you want to go on your tray.

Measure and mark where you want your handles to be. I centered mine into the middle of the end rail of the tray. Take a look at the screws that are connected to your handles. They may be too long for the depth of your tray. If they are too long, you may need to cut them. Grab a pair of pliers and a hack saw. Measure the length you need your screw and mark where you will cut it with a sharpie. Hold the screw tightly with the pliers. Place the hacksaw on the screw and saw away.

Grab your drill and drill your holes on the marked spots on your tray. Be sure to drill forward and then reverse to really clean out the drill holes.

Drop wood glue into the holes.

Push the handles hard into the glue filled holes. You could use a rubber mallet to pound the handles in if necessary. Just be careful not to crack your handles. (I may or may not have made that mistake).

Let glue dry well.

Lightly sand the paint to get the look you want. I really like the weathered worn look.

And now your done! I absolutely LOVE this tray! Serve your thanksgiving pie on the tray, or tip it up for a great display!

Here are some other trays that I have made that are available in my shop.

No more candy!

There you sit on Halloween night. You've been answering the door for a while now, when you realize you just ate the last Snickers bar. Your candy bowl is empty!

Now what? The trick-or-treaters are ringing the doorbell. You don't want to disappoint the kids time after time because you don't have any more treats.

Never fear! I have the perfect solution for you. A quick and cute printable to hang on your door telling your expectant visitors there are no more treats.

You can download the printable here and print it out on your printer at home. The printable is black and white. You can print it on whatever color paper you would like

Put it in a frame, hang it by a string or just tape it to your door.

This should keep the tricks to a minimum. Hope you have a fun night!

Happy Halloween! 🎃

21 ideas to save Halloween!

Oh my heck! It's 2 days until Halloween and you haven't found a Halloween costume yet! Don't panic. I've found some ideas for costumes you can create with items you have around your house. They are simple and easy! You can add more things to the basics I've given to make an awesome costume!

A witch

Witch hat
Black skirt or pants
Black or coordinating
You can add to your outfit by adding striped socks or tights, earrings, a spider ring, or painting your fingernails.
Draw a black mole on your nose

Football player

Sweat pants
Black makeup under your eyes
Coordinating Hat
Tennis shoes or cleats
Carry a football


White shirt
Black pants
Black shoes
Slick your hair and part it to one side


Striped shirt
Black pants
Black beanie
Black gloves
Mask or use black paint to paint a mask around your eyes
bag with $

Rosie the Riveter

Red bandana
Blue, grey or denim button down shirt- tied in front
Put your hair up
Be sure to say, "You can do it!"

Wednesday Adams

Hair in braids- spray with black hairspray
White button down shirt
Black dress or black sweater and black skirt
Black shoes or boots
Black tights
Black lipstick
Add make up to make your face pale


Jeans or overalls
Flannel shirt
Straw hat
Raffia to fasten around your cuffs, stuff some in your pockets and under your hat.
Rope for belt
Paint your face to look like a scarecrow
If you're really ambitious, stitch a few patches on your pants or overalls.


Flannel shirt
Cowboy hat
Belt with buckle
Hair in braids if you're a cowgirl

Minnie Mouse/Mickey mouse

Red skirt or pants
Black shirt, polka dot shirt or a Mickey or Minnie shirt
Yellow shoes

Lumber jack

Flannel shirt
Thermal shirt underneath
Draw a Beard with brown or black eyeliner
Make a cardboard ax with Tin foil covered head.

Audrey Hepburn

Black dress
Black heels
Pearls! Necklace, earrings, and bracelets
White gloves
Hair up in a bun
Carry a small black purse

Some other options not pictured:


Cowboy costume
Add a badge


Lumberjack costume
Omit the ax
Add fingerless gloves
Add a sign written on cardboard with a black sharpie that says, "Will work for Candy!"
Add a stick with a stuffed bandana tied to the end


Black pants
Black suspenders (opt)
Black hat
Paint face white
Red lipstick

Flower child

Tie die shirt
Peace necklace
Be sure to flash the peace sign ✌


White shirt
Grey hair spray
Black pants
Bow tie
Pencils and pens


White shirt
Kaki pants
Sling bag

French girl

Paris t-shirt
Black Capri pants
Red scarf tied around your neck
Black flats
Carry a loaf of French bread sticking out of a big purse.


Yellow T-shirt with the face of your choice painted on it.
An attitude that matches! 😉


Black leather jacket
Black jeans
Bandana ties on your head

Miss America

A formal dress
Make a homemade sash with glitter writing that says "Miss America"
White gloves
Diamond jewelry
A crown
A bouquet of roses to carry

Use your imagination. Once you start looking around, you can come up with all sorts of things! Good luck! Happy Halloween!

Monster Donuts

Halloween takes an extraordinary amount of time to prepare for. If it's anything like at my house, we spend a lot of time on costumes. After all, there are 9 of us! Who has time to bake yummy treats too? Here's an easy, delicious and unique treat everyone will love!

I First, unwrap dough from package and separate biscuits.

You will need something to cut a hole in the center of the biscuits. I used a large frosting tip.

Just center the cutter in the middle of each biscuit, push down and twist a bit. Pull the donut hole out of the cutter and put to the side. These first two steps are great for kids to help with.

Next, heat a few inches of oil in a pan. You will know it is hot enough if you splash a drop or two of water into the oil and it pops and sizzles.

Carefully drop 2-3 biscuits into hot oil. If the oil is hot enough, the first side of the dough will cook very quickly.

Quickly turn dough over with tongs and cook the other side until lightly browned.

Remove donut from oil and place on a paper towel covered plate to drain.

You can put in a few donut holes too. Just cook a few at a time. A slotted spoon works well to flip and remove them from the oil.

After the donuts have cooled a little, you and your little helpers can roll the donuts in different toppings.

We usually do sugar, cinnamon & sugar and powdered sugar. If I'm really ambitious, I will make chocolate glaze or a sugar glaze.

Here are our finished donuts. I didn't get a picture before they started disappearing off the plate!

Because it's almost Halloween, we decided to try something new. We took some of our plain donuts and made monster donuts!

For this, you will need some frosting. We grabbed a tub of fluffy white frosting and split it in 3. We colored it some fun Halloween colors, green, purple and orange. Then we filled some frosting bags.

Take your donut and squeeze little dollops of frosting around the edge.

Then move inward until all space is covered. Then decorate with sprinkles, candy, eyes, etc.

My kids thought these were pretty cool! We had so much fun creating them. I even thought it was fun! I mentioned this to one of my older daughters and she said, "Oh boy, you've created a monster!"

Let your imagination go and see what you can create.

Thanks for letting me share this yummy treat with you! Be sure to post some pictures in the comment section of the monster donuts you make!

Sweater up-cycle

Now that it's fall, you have probably broken out your hoodies and sweaters for the chilly weather. But, what do you do with that outdated sweater that's been sitting in your closet for the past few years collecting dust? Well, I will show you a great up-cycle!

I have an amazing friend named Leah. I walk miles with her every morning. She's my exercise buddy. She is so talented and creates the coolest pumpkins! We hung out today and she whipped this up! So cute and easy!

You will need:

A sweater
Scissors or a rotary cutter
Cutting Mat
DMC floss (aka:embroidery thread)
A stick
Hot glue gun

Go through that closet of yours and find a sweater that you don't want anymore. You could pick any color you want. White, tan, orange, brown, green... the possibilities are endless.

Grab your cutting mat and spread your sweater out. Measure 6" from the cuff of the sleeve and cut. Turn sleeve inside out.

Gather bottom of sleeve with DMC floss. Tie off. Sew a running stitch along the top of sleeve.

Turn sleeve right side out. Stuff with fiberfill.

Pull running stitch to close sweater. Secure stitch

Hot glue a branch to the top of your pumpkin. And you're done! Cheap and easy! This is something you could decorate with all season long. Love it!

Don't you just love friends! ❤️ Thanks for sharing Leah!

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the ups and downs of raising 7 children.
Join me here.

Illuminating Halloween decoration that's so easy to make!

Are you looking for something to add a little spooky Halloween feel to welcome the trick or treaters? Check out my easy tutorial to learn how you can create your own haunting Halloween display.

You will need:

-Empty TP & paper towel rolls
-battery operated tea lights
-hot glue gun and glue
-Paint brush
-Paint ( I used Apple Barrel Vanilla Ice Cream)

Gather up all of your empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls. You can even use empty wrapping paper rolls. I had 3 TP rolls and 1 paper towel roll.

Grab some scissors and cut each roll to the length you want. I cut mine all different lengths so that they would vary in height.

Next cut up the length of each roll so that is can be laid flat. You have to do this because the rolls are too big around and the tea light falls right through.

Take a cut roll and wrap it around a tea light. Use glue to secure the edges. Be careful if kids are helping you with this step. I had a couple of mishaps with my fingers and oozing hot glue!

After the glue is dry, use the glue gun to make the "dripping wax". Run glue along the top edge of each roll. Add lines of glue to look like drips. You can really load up the top line of glue and allow it to run a bit before you add the drips. This makes it look a bit more authentic.

Allow the glue to dry

After the glue is dry, remove the tea light. Paint each roll, including the wax drips. This may take a couple of coats, as the glue is harder to cover in one coat.

Allow rolls to dry completely. Place teas lights back into rolls.

Your faux candles are complete! Easy right? Plus they are safe! Now you can arrange your candles in a spooky Halloween display.

Don't pack those candles away after Halloween! You could use them on a Thanksgiving table or in you Christmas decor too!

Thanks for letting me share these fabulous faux candles with you!

You will never guess what we made our dinner in!

The Monday before Halloween, everyone in our family knows what we will be doing. It's tradition! We always carve our pumpkins into Jack-O-Lanterns, we always make pumpkin seeds to munch on, and we always have a special dinner.

This dinner is a favorite at our house. When you are hollowing out your pumpkins, clean out one more... for your dinner. This recipe is an easy one and sure to be a crowd pleaser. Make some rolls to go with it, and you have a complete meal.

Dinner In A Pumpkin Ingredients:

1 pumpkin
1 lb hamburger
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms (can use canned)
1 cup cooked rice
1 can cream of Mushroom soup
1 TBS butter or margarine
1 TBS brown sugar

First wash your pumpkin.

I triple this recipe to feed my big family. I used about a 10 pound pumpkin to fit all the "stuffing".

Cut the top off your pumpkin and clean out the seeds and squishy insides. The kids love to help with this!

Brown hamburger until meat is no longer pink.
Chop veggies.

Add onion, celery and mushrooms to hamburger and sauté until soft.

Cook rice. Mix with hamburger/veggie mixture. Add soup, butter and brown sugar. Stir until combined well.

Scoop mixture into pumpkin. I make enough to fill the entire pumpkin.

Replace lid and put on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours. It may take longer depending on the type of pumpkin you get and the thickness of the pumpkin. It usually takes longer than the 90 minutes. Be sure to put the rack down to the bottom so that the pumpkin will fit inside without touching the top of the oven.

The pumpkin will brown. You will know it is done when you can stick a toothpick in easily.
Serve the "stuffing" and cut the pumpkin and eat it with butter and salt and pepper like you would squash.

Hope you enjoy it!

What is the secret ingredient that makes this Banana Bread so moist?

Purchasing Bananas is always a gamble. I can buy a bunch and they are gone the same day or they will sit and spoil on the counter. You jut never know. Well, here is a great option for when the odds don't turn out to be in your favor. Banana Bread!

This recipe is one my Grandma used to make. It is moist and delicious. All you need is a couple of over ripe bananas to make one big loaf. (You will want to put away a couple to make sure you can try this deliciousness!) There is a secret ingredient that makes this bread extra moist... buttermilk!

You will need:

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 medium over ripe bananas
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup + 1 TBS Buttermilk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda, and salt.

In another bowl, Mash bananas.

Combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients and stir well for a few minutes. If the center of your bread falls during baking, you need to mix it longer.

Chop walnuts with a knife

Fold in walnuts

Grease pans. I doubled the recipe and got 6 small loaves out of the recipe. That makes them easy to share! A doubled recipe will also make 3 medium pans or 2 large loaves.

Pour the batter into the greased pans, about 2/3 full. Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. Time will depend on pan size. You will know it is done when a toothpick stuck into the center of the loaf comes out clean. It always seems to take longer than I expect.

Let bread cool. Remove from pans and enjoy.

The Tastiest Banana Bread Recipe

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 medium over ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup + 1 TBS Buttermilk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Fold in nuts. Pour into greased bread pan and bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. Bread is done with toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and remove from pans.

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Halloween Burlap Pictures

Have I got a fun and easy Halloween craft for you! You can make it one night when you have some alone time, or have the kids help you. It is so cute! I'm excited to share it with you!

You will need a few items:

Wood- cut into squares
Black paint
Paint brush
Burlap paper
Black nails
Craft glue

First you need to create your picture. I used Photo Shop to create mine. Just adjust the page to the size you want your boards to be and get creative!

I used Alice In Wonderland Font and Trick or Treat 2 OT to create my pictures. The Trick or Treat font had Dingbats that I used for the witch, moon, and bats.

If you would rather use my printables, click here to download the witch and here for the 31. Then all you have to do is print.

Next grab your burlap paper. This is awesome stuff! I have used this many times on a ton of different projects. I got mine at Hobby Lobby when it was on sale for 50% off.

The burlap paper is too thick to put through your printer. Trust me, I tried... twice! Major paper jam! So, you will need to peel off the paper backing so you are only left with the burlap.

Feed the paper, one page at a time, into your printer. Make sure you put it in so that the front is going to be printed on. The back is a little rough from the paper and glue.

Print your pictures. I was really impressed at how well this printed. I have an ink jet printer.

Now we need our wood. I had two pieces of wood in my garage. I cut a 2x6 to 5 1/2" square and a 2x12 to 11" square. I used a router to round the cut edges so that they were nice, smooth and had a finished look.

I covered my work area with a garbage bag. (Much better than newspaper. You don't have to worry about paint drying and your project sticking to the paper). I used Rust-olem Black Chalk Board paint to paint my boards. You can use whatever black paint you have on hand.

After letting 2 coats of paint dry, it was time to cut the burlap pictures to fit on my boards. For the larger "31" picture, I cut the burlap 8 1/2" x 8 1/2". I pulled a few strands off the edges for a frayed look.

Then I centered it in the middle of my board leaving a 1 1/4" boarder. I applied a very thin line of Elmer's Craft Bond glue around the edges of the burlap to hold it down better.

For the small witch picture, I cut it 4 1/2" square. Again, I frayed the edges. Then glued it down.

Now it's time for nails. I picked up this package of Cut Nails at Hobby Lobby. They were under $3.00 for a package of 75.

I placed a nail in each corner of the burlap and pounded them in.

And your done! Super easy and so cute! I displayed mine on my mantel! But they would look great on a table or counter too!

Thanks for crafting with me!

You've been Boo'ed!

Our family is full of traditions. We have things we do every year for every season. My kids anxiously await each and every one of our activities. I feel that these keep our family close together and help to create lasting memories. You're sure to hear about our family's traditions often.

We have a few traditions we like to do before Halloween. One of them is "Boo-ing" our neighbors. Did you ever ring someone's doorbell as a kid and run? Well, it's the same idea, only you leave treats and run! You also leave some instructions to spread the Halloween happiness around the neighborhood.

Here's how it works:

First, print off the instruction sheet. Click here to download printables.

And the Boo picture.

Make some yummy treats, buy candy and package it cute, buy a spooky surprise like glow sticks or even make a fun Halloween craft.

We made caramel and wrapped up and apple with some googly eyes to make a cute Mummy!

We also made some yummy sugar cookies. The kids loved decorating them.

Now, put on your running shoes! Pick two neighbors, place the treats, instruction sheet and Boo picture on the porch as well. Ring the doorbell and run!

Now watch the fun spread. Every couple of days the number of boo-ings should multiply. Maybe by Halloween, every house in the neighborhood will have one of your ghosts hanging on it. And next year your kids will be asking who you are going to Boo!

The Best Caramel Apple Dip Ever!

Don't you just love fall? Yesterday we went out and picked the apples from our apple tree and I thought, we are definitely going to need some caramel to go with these!

I have THE BEST recipe for homemade Caramel apple dip! And what's even better? It's super easy! Here's what you need:

2 1/3 cups of brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup condensed milk
1 cup butter
1 tsp Vanilla

First, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Next add brown sugar, condensed milk and syrup. Mix well.

Let mixture come to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Let mixture boil for 5 minutes. Stir, stir, stir! You don't want that sugary goodness to burn!

Remove saucepan from heat.

Add vanilla. The caramel will bubble up more when you add this. Then let it cool a bit and put it in the container of your choice to store. A microwaveable container is great if you're not going for ascetically pleasing. It makes it simple to heat up for your next snack. If your giving it away, pouring it into canning jars is a cute option.

One batch will make about 4- 4oz jelly jars with a little left to taste out of the saucepan! Now put it in the fridge to firm up. Done!

If you're making your caramel to share, a great idea is Caramel Apple Nachos. But instead of chips, use apple slices! Drizzle caramel dip over them and top with toffee chips, nuts, chocolate sauce etc. this would be a great treat for a party!

This is a great idea for a quick gift for a friend, neighbor or teacher.

Wrap Single or with a bunch.

You could even attach a cute note that's says something like:

"A sweet Halloween treat for you to eat!"

"You're awesome to the core!"

"If friends were apples, I'd pick you!"

"With such great neighbors, they lived 'apple-y' ever after"

Caramel Apple Dip

2 1/3 cups of brown sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 cup condensed milk

1 cup butter

1 tsp Vanilla

Melt butter on stove in saucepan. Add brown sugar, syrup and milk. Let mixture come to a full boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so that it will not burn. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla. Pour into a container and put in fridge to firm up. Enjoy!

Decorating For Fall

It's September and fall is a favorite season of mine! It's sweatshirt and fuzzy sock weather. I can make my favorite soups and sip on some hot chocolate. And let's not forget that I can finally turn on the fireplace and snuggle up under a warm blanket! It's not quite time for Halloween decorating, so in all my excitement, I decided to do some fall decorating. I had fun pulling out all my decorations that can stay up for the entire season... pumpkins, apples, baskets, autumn leaves. I have a bunch of Halloween and a thanksgiving decor, but I lack a bit in the "fall" department. So I decided to get crafty.

I made some cute square pumpkins to sit on my end table. They were a simple craft that didn't take a lot of time to make.

This fall printable was an easy addition to the fall decor. Print it, trim it and put it in a cute frame.

If you like this printable, you can get it here.

I really wanted to make a fall sign to sit on my mantel.

I think it turned out pretty cute, so i will share some easy instructions with you.

Old pallets are great for sign making. It's even better when you can get them for free! Just cut the boards the length you want your sign. I used 3 boards.

Next, you can use thin scraps of wood to nail onto the back of your sign to secure it in place.

I wanted my sign to look like aged wood. I grabbed some oak stain and brushed it on the wood with a sponge brush. I wasn't in a hurry, so I left the stain dry over night.

Next, I used grey chalk paint and brushed on a coat. I didn't totally cover every spot. You can chose any color you like. (When you are painting wood to look aged, you paint several layers and then sand, sand, sand! But we aren't ready for that yet).

The next color I chose was an off white acrylic paint. I brushed it on just like the gray. Notice how you can still see the different layers coming through. After the paint was dry, I sanded the edges quite a bit and sanded the front as well. Just sand until it looks good to you.

For this particular sign, I decided to hand paint the letters. Find your favorite font on your computer and print your words out. This is easy to do without a fancy program. I used Microsoft Wors. Cut the words out make sure they fit on your board the way you want them to. Then grab some chalk! Bright colors are easier to see against a light background. Rub the chalk over the back of your paper. Flip the word over and position it on your sign. Trace the outline of the letters hard with a ballpoint pen. I colored the letters in as well so that it was easier to see the chalk letters.

When you remove the paper, you will be left with a chalk version of your words. I used a thin paint brush to paint the letters on. If this part is too much for you, you can always use a sharpie. It was pretty nerve wracking my first time.

For the word FALL on my sign, I bought wooden letters in the craft section at Target. They weren't very expensive. I stained them with the same oak stain I used for the base of the sign. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step.)

Then I positioned the letters on my sign and glued them on with wood glue. I decided I wanted the painted words to look a little worn, so I lightly roughed it up with some sand paper. After a coat or two of spray varnish, you can add some finishing touches. I wrapped some thick twine around one end of the sign and tied it in a knot.

I decorated my mantel with some autumn leaves, a bushel basket of apples, a fall banner and a pumpkin.

How do you decorate for fall at your house?

Perfect Personalized Wedding Gift

Are you in search of a personalized quick wedding gift that won't break the bank? Here is a quick idea. A personalized etched casserole dish!

You will need:

-Casserole dish (any size)

-Vinyl or Contact Paper

-Sponge brush

-Glass Etching Ceam


Here are the easy instructions:

1- Use your cricket or silhouette machine to cut out your vinyl. (Or you can get it here). The vinyl needs to be cut out backwards. This is because it is going to be stuck on the bottom of your dish and you want to read it from the top looking down into your dish. If you're cutting your vinyl out before hand, be sure to use transfer paper. Or you can use contact paper instead of vinyl.

2- Make sure your dish is clean. Turn it upside down onto the counter. Peel the backing off of your vinyl and position it onto your pan where you like it.

3- When your stencil is in place where you want it, use a credit card or Popsicle stick to make sure the stencil is free of bubbles and wrinkles. Make sure all the edges of the stencil are pressed well so that nothing can leak under your stencil. Peel off the other backing.

4-You will need Glass Etching Creme (I used Armour Etch), a sponge brush and gloves.

5- Put a thick covering of Glass Etching Creme onto your stencil. I did this in several thinner layers to make sure the cream wasn't going to leak under the stencil. Let set for 10-15 minutes.

6- Carefully rinse the creme off of the pan.

Next peel back your stencil.

You did it! And it was so easy! Now you have a beautiful handmade personalized gift!

Lessons in Laundry

Laundry! It never seems to go away. Just when you think it's done, someone has the nerve to change their clothes! To be quite honest, laundry is the worst chore there is, at least in my opinion. The washing and drying isn't so bad, but the folding, ironing and putting away?! Ugh! I'd rather clean a toilet! I'm not sure why that is. And with a family of nine, there is A LOT of folding, ironing and putting away!

When I first got married, I thought I would drown in dirty clothes. Seriously, it was out of control. If you find yourself feeling this way, here are a few tricks we implemented to keep things in check a little better and keep this mama from running away.

#1- you can use a towel more than once!

Kids were using a clean towel every time they showered. Nine towels a day is a load of laundry. If we happened to go to the pool that day, 2 loads at least. It's ok to use your towel more than once, as long as you hang it up after your shower so it can dry. (Big chore to teach teenage boys). I made sure everyone had a hook for their towel and that small mountain was outa my way! One side note, make sure after you have implemented this that the towels are in fact getting changed every few days. Yikes!

These are towels from the pool hanging up to dry.

#2- The System

Doing laundry for nine people is an ENORMOUS job! In fact, it's enough to make you go crazy! I realized fast that I was going to need some help, and quick! My first choice was a maid to complete my most dreaded job for me, but that was just a dream. After much trial and error, a new system was developed.

The basis for this system came from the idea of the maid. Who needs a maid when you have 7 children? Perfect thought, but maids are a bit more anxious to do the work than your kids. I needed to enlist the help of my children. Who would not only be helping me, but also learning some laundry skills in the process. Each bedroom has a hamper. All dirty clothes go in the hamper. (You would think that was a no brainier.) Each week, as part of those chores, each person brings their laundry to the laundry room. Then they sort their clothes into the hampers. I labeled them so there would be less confusion.

The clothes get washed and dried. I try to pick a day and do all the loads that day. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn't. (I have one daughter who helps me get this done frequently. She is awesome).

As soon as each load comes out of the dryer, it gets sorted. This is important or the clothes begin to pile up and before you know it, there is a mountain of laundry. At our house, each person has a basket. On laundry day they are put outside the laundry room. Each load of clothes is sorted into the appropriate basket.

Then each person takes their basket to their room and they are responsible for folding, hanging up and putting away their own clothes. (Best idea ever!) Then they return their empty basket to the laundry room. That leaves a lot less clothes for Mom to take care of.


I decided that because laundry was the chore I hated most, I needed to decorate my laundry room so that it was actually a place I wanted to be. I started with a cute washboard I found at an antique shop and I just added a few items from there.

I cut some vinyl to put on the wall. I thought this saying was so fun! If you like this vinyl, you can find it here.

I found a basket from Ikea and filled it with some of my laundry supplies to stay more organized.

My oldest daughter made me a printable. I put it in a frame I had around the house and made a quick little bunting. I love the saying because, let's face it, ironing is not my favorite either! By the way, have you ever tried Downey Wrinkle Releaser? It's a life saver!

You can get this printable here. There are two versions available to download for free!

I hope these hints help you as much as they have helped us at our house.

First Day OF School

The first day of school is always an exciting time. There is lots of jittery excitement in the air as everyone runs around to get ready to head to school for the first day. At our house, we have one that goes to a charter school, one in Jr high, one in high school, 3 in college (how that happened, I don't know) and one at home with Mom. Everyone has different needs and everyone seems to be running in different directions. The non-college kids have their clothes set out the night before and backpacks ready. They have all opted for school lunch rather than home made on the first day, which is fine by me. One less thing to think about!

We have lots of traditions at our house. The first day of school is no different. I always make pancakes for breakfast on the first day and we always take a picture of each child on the front porch, backpack and all! It's fun to look back on how much each person has changed over the years. I decided that I would share my go to pancake recipe with all of you today. It's a good one that I've been making for many years. It takes a little more work than a mix, but I think it's worth it. My 14 year old is a pancake coniseuir and he loves them! This recipe has been quadrupled. After all, I'm feeding 9 people at our house! (If you don't need that many pancakes, cut it in half or fourths. Or make the huge batch and freeze the extras to pop in the microwave for those crazy mornings when no one has time to eat). My big batch makes about 28-30 pancakes.

Old- Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes

First, gather your ingredients. You will need:

2 1/4 cups of Milk
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
3 cups all-purpose Flour
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1-1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1-1/2 Teaspoons Salt
3 Eggs
1/4 cup and 2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
Chocolate Chips (optional)
Cooking Spray

Measure milk. Add Vinegar and let set for about 5 minutes. This sours the milk and in essence, makes buttermilk. The milk will get a little lumpy looking. I forgot to take a picture of how this looks. (If soured milk grosses you out, you can use the real stuff from the store. I just never seem to remember to buy the buttermilk!)

While you wait on your milk, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Crack your eggs and mix them up. Add eggs and melted butter to the soured milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wire whisk until there are no lumps. This is what your batter will look like. Notice that is it starting to look a little foamy. Resist the urge to mix the batter again. The foamy batter makes the pancakes tall and fluffy!

Spray your heated griddle with cooking spray. Scoop out batter in 1/4 cups full. In our house, we love chocolate chip pancakes! At this point, you can add chocolate chips to each pancake.

Cook until the edges and surface are bubbly. Flip each pancake and cook until browned on the other side.

Serve with butter and maple syrup or fresh fruit and whipped cream. Enjoy! You may never go back to the packaged mix again.

Decorative barn wood hanger

While out exploring with my husband on a trip to Colorado, we found the remnants of an old barn. I was excited to see that there was a bunch of barn wood to pick up that we could create some treasures from.

As I sorted through the wood, I picked a few pieces to build these decorative hangers. To create your own, follow these steps:

Pick out your perfect board.

Wash your board with a hose and scrub it with warm soapy water. Rinse the board and let it dry well.
Measure your board.
Ours was 30" long and 5 1/2" wide.

Decide which side of the board you want to be the front. Mark the front of the board with a pencil where you want each knob to be. We evenly spaced ours every 6 inches across and centered it too to bottom- at about 2 3/4".

I picked up some cute mismatched knobs at Hobby Lobby when they were on sale for 50% off. I chose 4 of them in coordinating colors for this project.

Measure the length of the knob bolt to the thickness of the board. The extra length of the bolt needs to be cut off shorter than the thickness of the board.

Mark with a sharpie where you want your bolt to be cut.

Next you will need a hacksaw with a metal cutting blade. Cut the bolt.

Find a drill bit the same size as the end of the bolt. We used 5/32. Attach it to your drill.
Drill from the front of the board. If you drill from the back and the drill goes in at any angle, the knob will not be level and won't end up where you want it to be.

Measure the washer to see what size of drill bit you need. Our washer was 1/2" so we used a 1/2" drill bit. Measure the depth of the nut and washer combined. Ours was about 1/4 of an inch.

Take masking tape and put it on the drill bit to mark the depth you will drill your hole.

Flip the board over so that the back is facing up.
Drill into the existing holes, the depth marked by the masking tape on your drill bit. This creates a cozy little hole for the washer and nut to fit into.

Screw the knob into the drilled hole. Turn the board over and and put the washers on the bolts. Then screw the nuts on the bolts.

Attach a hanger to to back of your board and you're ready to hang your finished product!

Easy 2 ingredient Sugar Scrub

Oh my heck, I made the easiest most wonderful thing today, and it was done in a matter of minutes! I am so excited about it!

My oldest daughter called me into the bathroom asking if we had any body scrub. That is not a normal item on my shopping list. So I told her I would see what I could do. I did a little research and found that making a scrub isn't that difficult! I grabbed the brown sugar and measured out 1 cup.

Next I found the coconut oil and measured 1/4 cup.

Then it was time to mix. It was a little difficult to mix with a spoon, so I just kneaded it with my hands until it was combined well.

This is what it looks like when it's done. I worried that I didn't have enough oil, but it turned out great. I found a pint jar in the cupboard and put the scrub inside and closed it up with a lid. Done!

You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the scrub before mixing if you want an extra fragrance. Orange would be refreshing or add lavender for more of a relaxing spa feel. My daughter was thrilled at my resourcefulness and said it worked great. Of course, I had to try it too! It exfoliated and reminded me of the smell of cookies. The bonus was I didn't have to moisturize after my shower. It was great! My mind started spinning as I realized how easy this would be to make as gifts with a cute tag! I'm sure I will revisit this idea the next time I need a gift. I will be sure to post about it!

Donut Banner

I promised in an earlier post that I would show you how to make this cute donut banner. It was so simple and it turned out to be a really amazing addition to our party decorations!

First I got a package of card stock that had brown colors in it. I used dark brown and tan to make the donuts. I have a craft circle punch that I used to punch out the donuts.

I got six donuts out of each piece of paper with this punch.

I then used the same large craft punch to cut circles out of pastel colored card stock for the frosting.
Next I used a small circle craft punch to make the donut holes. I folded each paper in half and made a slight crease. I punched all of the donuts and frosting. I just tried to eyeball the center of each circle to make the hole.

Because you don't want your frosting to be the same size as the donut, I stacked a few circles of frosting on top of each other and cut a smaller wavy line around each circle. This doesn't have to be perfect. No donut is. Imperfections give them personality.

Now it's time to glue the frosting onto the donut. Just line up the holes of the frosting with the donut hole. I picked up some puffy paint from the craft store. It was in the fabric section. I used a variety of colors to make sprinkles and drizzles on each donut.

After the paint has dried, grab some twine. Tape or glue the back of each donut to the twine. I chose to use masking tape to make sure it was more secure because I was hanging it outside. I'm glad I did because it was really windy that day. Maybe using a hot glue gun would be just as effective. I evenly spaced each donut onto the twine and made sure I had extra twine in each end for tying. And you're done! Easy, right? Now hang your banner and you're ready to party!

Donut birthday party

Party planning is a favorite of mine. I love the challenge of picking a theme and then creating decorations and activities that coordinate with the theme. We were shopping at our local discount store, when we happened upon some plates and napkins that were donut themed. They were $1.00 each, so we couldn't pass them up! We decided donuts would be the theme of our 9 year old daughters upcoming 10th birthday party!

One of the benefits of having a big family is that you have lots of help! I had my oldest daughter create some printables to help with the decorations. She also created the invitations!

We made a donut banner for some of the decorations. I will teach you how to make this easy banner in a later post!

I went to our local party store and purchased 2 donut shaped helium filled balloons. The donut balloons were embellished by painting on one side of the donut with widow paint markers and cutting different colors of tissue paper into pieces and sticking them to the paint before it dried. This makes the sprinkles! (It was windy, so I didn't get s great picture).

I bought a variety of fresh donuts that morning and we stacked them up on a gold charger. This was an easy substitute for a cake!

As for games and activities, we kept it pretty simple. It is summer so of course, swimming was a must! One of the gifts the birthday girl received was an inflatable donut float.

Because the majority of the time was to be spent swimming, we limited our activities to 2 games and a craft.

I found a package of small plastic donuts at the local craft store. I thought they were so cute so I decided to make donut bracelets as our craft. I bought a package of silky cord in several different colors. We looped each end around the donut and then tied fisherman's knots to make the bracelets adjustable.

The first game we played was "Stacking donut seeds". We paired up the girls and one girl laid down on her back on her beach towel while the second girl took her turn being the "stacker". We gave each pair a handful of "donut seeds" (aka: Cheerios). We set a timer for one minute and the girls tried to stack as many "donut seeds" on top of each other on the girls forehead. After a minute, we switched places so the opposite girl could stack. This was harder than the girls thought. The winner stacked six high.

The last game we played was tying donuts on a string and hanging them from a pole held horizontally. Each girl stood beside a donut and then they raced to see how could eat their donut first without using their hands. It was definitely entertaining!

We spent the remainder of the time in the swimming pool enjoying the warm summer weather. Needless to say, the party was a hit and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.