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:

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

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!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Part 2: I'm only HALF crazy, 13.1

This is the starting line for the Half-Marathon. Start time was delayed
Chilly morning, November 13, 2011 in Malibu, California. Not a bunch of wind and the sun is about to come over the mountains. It was a perfect day for a little run. 

Lance followed me the whole way in the car, taking photos out of the sun roof. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Part 1: I'm only HALF crazy, 13.1

This Sunday (11/13/2011) I will be embarking on my third half marathon. It has been four years since my last race and having started all over with training has gotten to the point where I am ready for a third race. 

This is me at my thinnest. 
The reason why I started was because of heartbreak. An unhealthy relationship ended in 2006 and I was left heartbroken and lost, I didn't know myself or what I truly wanted. My crazy mind would not find any focus and my only cure to become clear minded was to run. 

Seattle 2006
Like most things in my life, I learned how to run long distances from a book. Picking up two books helped me on my journey. The first The Beginning Runner's Handbook by Ian Macneill was what got me running safely and longer distances without injury. I finished my first 45 minute run and wanted to move on, that is when I bought Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham. 
"The miracle truly isn't that you are going to finish, but that you had the courage to start-not just the courage to start the race, but the courage to start this odyssey of training and self-discovery. You've had the courage to find out whether you are who you think you are."  ~John Bingham
This photo captures one of the best moments of my life with my dad. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Slow Cooked Turkey Breast

It is November and I can't wait to have some turkey. Something about the smell that just evokes fall and the coming holiday season. Last year I made two turkeys in November which was both labor intensive and expensive. This year I am mixing it up a bit with half the work but the benefit of the smell and taste. Please enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Snuggle Sweetheart Baby Quilt

I just love baby quilts. They are a fantastic way to get your "quilt fix" and not overwhelm yourself with a ton of work.
What I find myself doing is buying those cute little bundles of fat quarters at Joann's. This one I found was pink and bubbly and I knew it had to be made into something cute for my friend Amy's baby girl Samantha. (And her 1st birthday was 11/1/11, how cool is that!)