Dec 28, 2012

Stop, Shop, & Roll - A Kid-Sized Grocery Store

Guess what our little one got for Christmas???  That's right...a super cool DIY project from Mom (yours truly) & Dad - her very own Grocery Store.  I've gotta admit, though, we're still patting ourselves on the back for this one...

Here's what we started with:

A beautiful antique mahogany wardrobe found for $20 on Craig's List - SCORE!

And, here's what Addie saw on Christmas morning:

Doesn't it make you want to be a kid again?!?  I must admit that I haven't minded stocking the shelves (a.k.a. stacking items back on the shelves at the end of the night after a day o' play).  And, do you see that additional storage on top?  That makes a neat-nick Momma happy.

We left the outside finish as it was because we really liked the pretty stained wood, but we added some glam-fun brass polka dot knobs found at Anthropologie.

I surprised myself a bit on this project for a couple of reasons...1) I didn't want to sand and paint the wardrobe like I always seem to do to furniture we find, and 2) I was happy with the brass hinges (brass is so back!) and opted to go with brass hardware all around with the fabulous knobs and hooks inside (also from Anthropologie)!

We wrapped up the cash register seen on the counter above, and let that be the gift that fit under the tree.  It has turned out to be the perfect choice - it has a cool coin slot that counts how many coins you drop in, a scanner with 5 food items that the register recognizes, a credit card swiper, and all sorts of learning settings.

We picked this baby up at Costco for only $19!  He's so cute, I feel like we need to name him...maybe Clark the Cash Register?  (Found him on Amazon too - Learning Journey Shop and Learn Cash Register)

A majority of the food items on the shelves are wooden Melissa & Doug Pantry Food that I found online at One King's Lane for a steal a few weeks ago.  The cardboard boxes seen under the red counter are also Melissa & Doug, a gift from Addie's Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins who were in on the surprise.  And, the super-realistic shopping cart was a birthday gift from Nonna and Go-Pa.  The Melissa & Doug items can be found on Amazon at the following links - Wooden Pantry Products, Wooden Fridge Food, Grocery Boxes, and Shopping Cart.  The brand is beyond phenomenal when it comes to durability and classic design.

Finally, a comprehensive list of all our little projects to make this into one little gem of a store:

1) Painted interior surfaces (the doors and back of wardrobe) with Chalkboard paint
2) Installed new knobs on the outside and hooks on the inside of the doors
3) Installed a magnetic door-stop
4) Cut shelving from plywood (we splurged for the expensive stuff, and it was a good smooth choice!)
5) Painted shelving in vibrant red and turquoise hues (colors we already had on the shelf)
6) Installed shelving with our neighbors' super cool new Kreg Jig - Google it, if you don't know what this cool contraption is (it provides a super durable wood-to-wood connection with a seemingly screw-less finish)
7) Sewed a little cafe curtain from scrap fabric for an extra pop of (yellow!) color and hung it from a little tension rod with ring clips

When we add it all up - we likely spent around $125 on the "build" (minus the food, cash register, and such).  It was a labor of love that hopefully will keep our little girl and her friends entertained for a long time!

If you have any questions about how we did parts of it, please don't hesitate to leave me a comment and I'll get right back to you.  Have a happy weekend!

Dec 21, 2012

Sweet & Salty Chocolate Toffee Crackers

Holy Smokes, these are so stinkin' good!  A great digression from the classic Christmas cookie, if you ask me.  The recipe came from one of my mom's friends - we tested it out and subsequent batches have been made!

As if any of us need even one ounce of extra sugar in us right now...I know.  There are so many different names for these guys, but I'm calling them Sweet & Salty Chocolate Toffee Crackers and here's how to make 'em:

Can you tell I'm a little short on time?  It's not because I don't love you...  The way I see it, why type it all out if you can take a snap shot and post it as an image??? :)

Below, you can see that we used the circular Saltines instead of the classic squares.  The squares would be easier for spreading'd loose less of the chocolate and toffee goodness.

 Can't you just taste them already?!?!

Hope you have a peaceful pre-Christmas weekend!  From our family to yours, have a very merry Christmas filled with wonder, hope, and joy.

Dec 19, 2012

Last Minute Mason Jar Gift Ideas

I came across these great homemade gift ideas that you can whip up in your kitchen with just a few ingredients. And, they all happen to come in a cute reusable mason jar!  They'd make wonderful last-minute gifts for coworkers, teachers, neighbors, babysitters, mailmen/women, and anyone else you forgot to think of until just now!

#1 - Apple with Caramel Cream Cheese Dip (from Joe and Sue blog):

#2 - Grown-Up Hot Chocolate (from Heart 2 Home blog):

#3 - Cinnamon Honey Butter (from A Southern Fairytale blog via Darlene of Fieldstone Hill Design blog):

#4 - Sweet Chili Sauce (from Rindy Mae blog - FYI this blog has the most excellent recipes!!!):

Click the blog links above each photo (or the "via" link below each photo) for direct access to the recipes/ingredients for each mason jar gift!

Anyone have any other yummy mason jar gift ideas?  I'm already planning ahead...saving all these great ideas for next year's Christmas gift-giving.

Dec 17, 2012

No Words.

No words.  That's me today.  My heart is still reeling and going 500 mph as it aches for the families in Connecticut (and Oregon too).  I can't seem to form any useful words, so I'll leave you to read two posts of fellow bloggers who wrote really touching, heart-felt posts today.

Emily of Emily A. Clark - her post is {here}


Dana of House*Tweaking - her post is {here}

In the midst of this, all I can do is try to love my little girl all-the-more and be so much more graceful in the way I approach everything and everyone.  I'm praying especially hard for all you moms with little ones in school...I don't have to face that yet, but someday I will.

Dec 13, 2012

Cream Cheese Cherry Cobbler

This dessert is super scrumptious - perfect for a large gathering because it makes a 9"x13" pan full!

Drooling yet?  Here's how to make the uber delicious Cream Cheese Cherry Cobbler...

2 cans refrigerated Pillsbury Recipe Creations dough
2  blocks (16 oz total) cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cans Cherry Pie filling
1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, melted
Dash of cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9"x13" pan.

2. Layer first can of dough in bottom of greased pan - spread it out so it touches the edges.

3. Combine cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar with a hand mixer.  Mix until fluffy.

4. Spread cream cheese mixture out on top of dough in the pan.

5. Spread cherries out evenly over the cream cheese layer.

6. Layer second can of dough on top of cherries - spread it out to cover over all the filling.

7. Combine melted butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, and as much cinnamon as you'd like in a small bowl. Pour evenly over top of dough.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes - or until the butter has mostly soaked in and the dough is browned. (you'll see a few butter "puddles" below, but that's ok!)

Serve warm with some ice cream...if you dare add more "creaminess" to it.'s making me hungry to write about it right now.  Hope you enjoy!

Dec 11, 2012

Our Jesse Tree/Advent Tree

My dear friend, Rachel, invited me to participate from-afar in a Jesse Tree Party that she hosted out in Colorado Springs.  Several of her friends gathered together to do an ornament exchange - each of us were assigned to make 25 of the same ornament, for a specific day of December that coincided with the Bible verse or theme we were given.  (While I missed out on the party, I did get all my ornaments in the mail just a few days after - so it's something you can do even if you're not near your friends.)

Have you heard of a Jesse Tree?  It's an advent tree of sorts that walks your family through the Biblical events leading to the birth of Jesus.  Each day in December, you add one ornament to the tree and read the verses associated with that ornament.  It starts with Creation, goes through the Old Testament - covers the Fall (Adam & Eve), the Flood, prophesies of Jesus, etc., then walks you all the way through to Jesus' birth.

Rachel's beautifully hand-crafted tree!

My (I'm too lazy to make my own...) West Elm Wooden Wall Tree - before & after I added all my ornaments.  (Note: West Elm is out of the tree online, but they still have them in some stores!)

Here is a list of the days of December, associated ornament themes, and Bible verses for the Jesse Tree:

Day 1:   Earth/Globe - Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-4
Day 2:   Apple & Snake - Genesis 3:1-10, 23; Isaiah 53:6
Day 3:   Ark & Rainbow - Genesis 6:5-8, 7:17-23, 9:16; Romans 6:23
Day 4:   Camel & Tent - Genesis 12:1-7
Day 5:   Lamb - Genesis 22:1-13; John 1:29b
Day 6:   Jacob's Ladder - Genesis 28:10-17
Day 7:   Colorful Coat - Genesis 37:3-36, 50:18-21; Romans 8:28
Day 8:   Tablet with 10 Numbers - Exodus 32:15-18, 20:1-20; Psalm 119:11
Day 9:   Cluster of Grapes - Numbers 13:1-2,17-23,27; Psalm 103:2
Day 10: Sheaf of Wheat - Ruth 1:16, 2:5-17, 4:14
Day 11: Slingshot - 1 Samuel 16:1,13; 1 Samuel 17:1-9,40,45-50
Day 12: Scroll - 2 Kings 23:1-3; Psalm 119:105
Day 13: Stump with Leaf - Isaiah 11:1-5,10; John 1:14a
Day 14: Lion & Lamb Together - Isaiah 11:6-10
Day 15: Dove & Crown - Isaiah 9:6-7; John 14:27
Day 16: Shepherd's Staff - Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 23:1-2; John 10:27
Day 17: Cross - Isaiah 53; Luke 2:8-18; John 19:11-18; John 10-15
Day 18: Heart with Writing - Jeremiah 31:31-34; Acts 16:31
Day 19: Bethlehem - Luke 2:4-7
Day 20: Fiery Furnace - Daniel 3:19-29; Jeremiah 1:8
Day 21: Brick Wall - Nehemiah 1:3, 2:18, 6:15-16; Malachi 3:1; Revelation 22:20
Day 22: Star - Matthew 2:1-12; Revelation 22:16
Day 23: Candle/Light - Luke 1:26-38, 2:32; John 8:12
Day 24: Angel - Hebrews 1:14; Luke 2:8-14; Romans 6:23
Day 25: Baby in Manger - Luke 2:1-10; John 3:16-17

The cross ornament I created with metal washers - I was assigned Day 17, a cross.  Instructions for making these guys can be found {here}.

It's really neat how we all came away feeling more educated about the Biblical "genealogy" of Christmas - the events and timing behind the why, how, and when Jesus came...the fulfillment of God's great plan!  It's a wonderful thing to focus on with the family every day of December, leading up to Christmas.

While you could definitely create all your own ornaments, the cool part about doing the "party" concept is that all of us who participated worked alone on our individually-assigned ornaments but then joined together and distributed our hand-crafted ornaments to create a beautiful tradition for all of our families to enjoy.  It's also a lot easier to create the same ornament 25 times, than 25 different ornaments...just sayin'.  What a treasure for years to come!

(Please let me know if you have any questions about what ornament was made for each theme - there are ideas all over the web, especially Pinterest!)

Dec 7, 2012

Warm & Cozy Spaces

As the depths of Winter approach, are you looking for a place to snuggle in?  How about some of these cozy but beautiful spaces?  Get a cup of hot chocolate, close your eyes, and imagine you were here...


Usually, I prefer bright and colorful spaces but something about the moody, earth-toned hues of these rooms really draw me in with their warmth and richness.

Which featured space would you like to be a part of your home?  Any colors or items from these rooms really calling your name???  (I'm totally digging the rug in room #1, the leather chesterfield sofa in room #2, the coral accents in room #3, the combination of grays in room #4, and the light fixture in room #5 - I'll take one of each!)

Dec 5, 2012

Christmas, Christmas Everywhere!

Here are the promised pictures of our Christmas decor...  Please let me know if you have any questions about how we made it or where we got it!

 DIY Felt Christmas Trees - instructions on how to make these cuties can be found {here}

DIY Manger - my sweet parents made this one, we add a little bit of hay every day in preparation for Baby Jesus

 Bowl full of extra ornaments - a quick and inexpensive dash of holiday glam

 Wreath on the Wall - we took down the large clock over our couch and hung this for a festive touch

 Mercury Glass Owl from West Elm - 50% of proceeds go to St. Jude's!

Sparkling Tree and My Favorite Snowflake Pillow

 No Chimney for Stockings?  Hang 'Em on the Wall! - we used temporary 3M hooks

 Vintage Ceramic Light-Up Tree - passed down from my hubby's grandmother

Our Willow Tree Nativity - with quite the fitting backdrop of our world map, if I do say so myself...

What are your favorite Christmas decorations?  Any special decorating traditions that are unique to your family?

Sidebar: This Christmas has been dubbed the "Super Glue Christmas" because there has been no shortage of gluing Christmas decorations back together...oh, life with a 2-year-old!  (See the lambs in the nativity lost a leg, the other lost an ear, all within one day...)

Dec 3, 2012

Blue Cheese Apricot Toasts

I figured we'd start off the week with a friends-are-stopping-by, "Fast, make something to eat!!" idea - Blue Cheese Apricot Toasts.  They're also quick, easy, and quite tasty for holiday party hors d'oeuvres.  The perfect combo of sweet and savory!

1 Loaf of French breach (I like the Pillsbury French Bread that you toss in the oven and bake fresh)
Apricot Preserves (I used Smuckers Peach Apricot Preserves...Orange Marmalade would also be good)
Blue Cheese Crumbles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prep a large baking sheet by covering in foil.

2. Slice baked bread into thin slices and place on baking sheet.  Spread butter over bread and toast in the oven for a few minutes.

3.  Remove bread once butter has melted, then spread generous amount of preserves over each slice and sprinkle blue cheese crumbles on top.  Place back in oven for a few more minutes, until the blue cheese melts a bit.  (You can put it under the broiler if you're short on time...just watch them carefully!)

4. Serve warm and enjoy!

 What are your favorite quick bites to prep for friends over the holidays??
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