Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lance and Locks of Love

 My dear husband has been growing out his hair for just about two years. This summer he looked into the specifics of what he needed to do to donate his hair to Locks of Love.

What is Locks of Love?
"Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers."

 It was the last two months that he had reached the specific length and he was ready to donate. I couldn't have been more proud of him for donating his lovely hair and he melted my heart by finding out the information on his own. Honestly, I shed a few tears to see those blond locks go away.

Isn't he handsome? He is the love of my life. 
If you are interested in more information about this cause, whether it be donate hair or money donation, go to www.locksoflove.org. We just filled out the Hair Donation Form and will be mailing off his hair just in time for Christmas.

It is heartwarming to know that his lovely hair will be a gift to a precious child. Lance is such a generous and loving man and I am so proud to call him my husband.
      ~ Amanda

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Rustic Pepsi Crate & Pine Centerpiece

Don't you just love the smell of fresh pine? Being born and raised in North Idaho, the smell of pine is something that is year round when you live next to the woods. Not so much pine here at the beach in sunny California. What better way to bring that "Idaho Christmas" smell into the home by creating a Winter Rustic Pepsi Crate & Pine Centerpiece for the living room. 
What you need:
Living in Idaho you wouldn't need to buy pine cones or pine. 

  • Old Pepsi Crate or something similar
  • Four large mason jars
  • Scented Pine cones 
  • Pine assortment
  • Epsom Salt
  • Votive Candles in glass
  • Holly Berry sprigs from Michael's
Begin by taking the pine assortment and cutting small pieces to fit in each divided square of the crate. Try to evenly arrange the different assortment in each. 

 "My favorite tree memory from when I was little was when my mom was on a ladder decorating the tree, both her and the tree fell over in the living room... which scared my Grandmother in the kitchen and made her fall over. Grandma Meja was so mad because she dropped her sandwich and the dog ate it. "

 Then take the four mason jars and place in the center of each divided area of the crate. Move the pine around the jar so that it looks nice. 

Epsom Salt in the jar looks like snow. 
Using Epsom Salt, I poured the whole bag evenly into each mason jar. *Epsom salt was only $4.00 for this large bag which kept cost down and had a SNOW like effect. You could also use sand or beads. 

 Then using the scented pine cones, arrange as many as you want into each divided area of the crate. It depends on the size of the pine cone as to how many you can fit. *You could also use pine cones that are already frosted, or your can frost your own pine cones with glitter.  
With the cinnamon scented pine cones and the pine, it already smells delicious. 
 Finally, arrange the holly berries around the jars and in the pine to your liking. Put the four votive candles in each jar and gently press into the Epsom salt so that they are not moving around. *excluding the holly berries can make this a great "after Christmas decor.
Don't want to use real flames, go with LED flameless candles. 

Looking so romantic. 
Ta da! You have probably only spent 20 minutes and/or $20.00 at the max on this gorgeous centerpiece. Best part is that it smells so much like a beautiful Christmas tree. Make the pine really last long by misting it with water every so often.                     ~Amanda

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Kids Gingerbread Play House

What would the holidays be without decorating a gingerbread house? But all of that frosting and candy that kids want to eat and the mess it leaves when you are done. How about this year opting for a Gingerbread Playhouse that has no calories or sugar, but could create fun at anytime and can incorporate other toys.

What you need:
  • 12x12x12 Square shipping box
  • Extra piece of cardboard for roof
  • Packing tape
  • box knife/exact-o knife
  • ruler
  • Gingerbread Man Template
  • Various sheets of Scrapbook paper
  • Bag of cotton balls
  • Glue
  • Two pieces of felt for Gingerbread man with needle and thread
  • Buttons for Gingerbread man

Take the box and fold the bottom of the box closed and tape securely. Leave the top of the box open, it should have four folding flaps.
On one of the folding flaps, find the center of the flap by measuring and making a mark at 6". Then from the 6"mark, draw lines to the corners, and cut off the outside pieces to create gables for the house. *I would have an adult cut the box to create the house. 
Repeat on opposite side so that it should look like this (below).  

This is where I took another box and cut it to create the roof, the piece measured 14"x24". 
Then I printed off and cut out the Gingerbread Man Template and used it as a guideline to cut a large door in one end of the house. 

Then cut a big windows into each sides of the house. 

This is why buying a 12x12x12 box is so beneficial, scrapbook paper easily fits on the box without measuring and cutting. I thought of using wrapping paper-although scrapbook paper is better quality and went on easily with glue. After gluing on each side, I used an exact-o knife to cut the windows open. 

After gluing paper and cutting windows on the outside of the house. I repeated on the inside of the house. 

*You can have your child pick out paper and glue on but I would have an adult use all sharp objects during the cutting process. 

 I used some paper that had already printed Christmas trees on the paper.(shown in photos)

*Depending on the child's age/ability they could also draw on the box instead of using paper. Or using foam shapes, glitter, etc. 

Tape the roof onto the box from the inside using packing tape. (Gently putting a hand and arm through the door of the house and the windows). *I tried gluing, that just created a HUGE mess!

Then using glue and 100 ct. bag of cotton balls to create snow on the roof of the house. *Another option that I thought would be cute could be bows with the sticky backs or packing peanuts. 

Using the Gingerbread Man Template, trace shape onto two pieces of felt and cut out. Sew buttons onto face and body to create gingerbread man and then sew together (either hand stitch or using sewing machine). Leave an opening where you can use remaining cotton balls to stuff the gingerbread man. Using a sharpie marker, draw on a smiling face.  *Alternate option could be just creating a gingerbread man from the scrapbook paper rather than felt. 

The possibilities are endless after you finish the house. You would have enough left over cardboard pieces to create some furniture. But with kids this house would easily fit Barbie, Ken, G.I.Joe and friends. 

Even though I don't have children of my own to create something like this with. This was something that I enjoyed creating and would hope that someday I could do this with children of my own. I would love to see what you have created if you make your own Gingerbread house. 

I entered this tutorial at the:
Visit thecsiproject.com

Friday, November 25, 2011

Super Delicious Beef and Barley Slow Cooked Soup

"Cooking with a crock pot is the best. You can throw a bunch of ingredients in, go back to bed, then when you wake up and invite your friends over to eat, they think you worked really hard instead of sleeping all day."   ~unknown
 This is so quick to throw in the crock pot then before you know it, your house smells so good. When taking your first bite,the unbelievable good smell matches the taste. 

  • 1 1/3 lb. Boneless beef chuck in one piece
  • 1 1/2 cup of pearl barley
  • 2 cartons of sliced mushrooms
  • One package of celery chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, chopped finely (only white and light green parts)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cans of low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Bread Bowls *Optional
  • Parmesan Cheese *Optional
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker.
Put the beef in the bottom of the crock pot. Then combine the barley, mushrooms, celery, carrots, leeks, thyme, beef broth and soy sauce and put it in the slow cooker. Add 1 cup of white wine and a dash of garlic salt and then ground pepper. 

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. 

This is how it looked when it was done. Yummy. 

 Voila! Uncover. Using a spoon, find the beef and pull it to the top. It will be very tender and will fall apart. Yum! Let cool for a little bit. 

I bought two bread bowls from the bakery at my local grocery store. Cut the tops off and pull some of the bread out of the center.

Then take the tops of the bread bowls buttered and lightly dusted with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese. Put under the broiler until crispy. 

Pour soup into bread bowls, top soup with a chunk of tender beef and serve with the garlic lid of the bread bowl. 

Not only did this make the house smell delicious, but it tasted so good. Mr.Wonderful just couldn't get enough and kept saying "This is good." The beef is so tender and juicy and it was so easy to make. 

Let me know if you have a different variation or add something different. I would love to hear how it works for you. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ten Things I'm Thankful for This Thanksgiving

 Credit: Flicker.com/bjacques
Wishing everyone a fantastic Thanksgiving. This is the day we spend with family and friends, eat way to much food and reflect on what we are thankful for this year. Here is my list of ten things I am thankful for. 

10. Thankful for Coffebean Vanilla Lattes.~Glass of white wine with olives, cheese and pistachios~Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rootbeer floats. 

Lance and my mom call it the "sweat shop". 
9. Thankful for my sewing machine and all of my lovely fabric that inspires me everyday.

8. Thankful that my job is something that I love to do and can't wait to get up in the morning and start. 
Mr. Wonderful at work in Malibu, CA

7. Thankful that my husband has had the SAME employer for a whole year! That's right, he didn't drag up once this year and is working close to home. So thankful to have him home every night.  

Thankful for all of my friends who keep me grounded, laugh with me, cry with me, understand the crazy person that I am and love me for it. You know who you are...I am so thankful to have you in my life. 

My Mom and Dad
5. So thankful that my dad answers the phone. He may not be able to answer a sewing question, but he knows it all and can help me with everything else. I should really say that I am so thankful for the dad that I have. 

4. Can't be thankful for dad without being thankful for mom. My mom may not answer the phone, but she is kicking my butt in Words with Friends. She does SO much, can't really put everything into words except that I am thankful for her. 

Meja and Audrey
3.Thankful for my two babies, they are the little bundles of happiness and joy every time I come in the front door. They bring such happiness to my life. 

This is my in-laws, the Cunninghams'.
2. Thankful for the health and happiness of my families. So sad I can't spend this holiday with them but they know I am thinking and missing them.

1. Most thankful for my husband. God blessed us both bringing us together.  I am so thankful to have him in my life and hope to spend many more Thanksgiving's together. 

"Dear God, I want to take a minute, not to ask for anything from you, but simply to say thank you, for all I have." 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!