Monday, December 12, 2011

Yarn Wreath with homemade wreath form

I was determined to make my own wreaths this year. After succeeding at my fall wreath I figured I'd be safe to try a Christmas wreath. I was wrong. I didn't want to buy a wreath form (because I'm cheap and will never buy something I THINK I can make). So I started out to make a burlap wreath with a red bow out of leftover burlap from our wedding and a green plastic wreath form for silk flowers. Apparently, that did not work out! So I found this tutorial that showed how to make a wreath form from a dollar store pool noodle! I was so excited. Then I tried to think of what materials I had left to work with, after my burlap wreath failed. This is what I found

I used Smiley Baby's bumbo to shape the noodle into a circle. Then I wrapped the yarn around it for about 1.5 - 2 hours, hot glued some ball ornaments on, and added the fake poinsettia so the design flowed better. The picture at the top of this post is the finished product. I really like how it turned out!

Do you make your own wreath or do you just buy one? How often do you buy/make a new wreath for the season?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Autumn Inspiration

Over the past couple of months yellow and red have influenced my outfits, my decor, my floral arrangements, and my craft projects. The bottom left picture are some of my personal items that just brighten my day. Have you ever had that one shirt, purse, mug, or bag that just makes you happy every time you see it? What is one of your favorite things?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Live Crickets

The highlight of my day... Yea, right. I love my kids. I never thought I'd be one of those moms with tree frogs for pets, but then again we use to have a rat. I love how my husband has changed that about me.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Starting our month of thankfulness

We did a thankfulness tree for family night, to start the month of November. What do you do to express thankfulness this time of year?

Monday, October 3, 2011

DIY Tuesday...

So I didn't post a DIY for last Friday... Really, the weekend went by so fast I'm not sure what happened to it. Now, it is 1:30am on Tuesday morning. Mr. Smiley baby is finally back to sleep and I'm thinking about pumpkins. Well, actually just one pumpkin.

I've never done fall decorations mostly because they all seem to look the same. I've hunted this year to find some things that I would actually like. I made my first wreath, and bought some mums for the front porch, but no October is complete without pumpkins. Through a friend's Pinterest board I found a link to the Country Living website where there were instructions for a decoupage pumpkin. I didn't read the instructions beforehand so I ended up buying scrapbook paper instead of using the suggested idea of fabric copied on printer paper.

What you'll need:

White pumpkin (or orange pumpkin and white paint)

Scrapbook paper (or pattern paper)

Mod podge

Sponge brush

The scrapbook paper is pretty thick so you'll have to coat the pumpkin and paper really well. I bought "lace" specialty paper. I cut it into fours so i could make a diamond design. To prevent bubbles I put mod podge down the center of each diamond and moved out towards the edges. When it would no longer lie flat I used scissors to cut multiple slits until the paper was able to overlap itself at the corner. I also did opposite sides of the pumpkin first to make the overlapping corners even. Once everything was applied I did one more coat over the whole pumpkin.

Took about 1 hour to do. Definitely worth it.

Happy DIY!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pantry update

So for all of you who are wondering if we ever finished that pantry- we did! It took much longer due to life happening along the way and only having spurts of time to work on it. Here is the final product

There is still more to be done in our kitchen. We need to paint the walls. But I am so thankful to have my food all in one place! :-)

Monday, September 26, 2011

There are no steps in this house

There are no steps in this house. None at all.

We live in a 1500 sq ft ranch style home. There are no steps anywhere in it and no steps leading up to it, but more important than the absence of steps in the house is the absence of steps in our family.

If you are reading this you are probably already aware that we are a blended family. His, mine, and ours. What you may not be aware of is that the word "step" is not used as an adjective for parents, children, or siblings in our home.

When Mr. Handsome and I were engaged I began to really think about the "step" title. I had a stepdad once and never had an issue with the title. I also didn't have a relationship with him... Well, not a good one, anyway. In our discussion about our children, the first decision we made was pretty clear. My former spouse had not seen our children for almost two years. My daughter didn't remember him and my son only had two or three memories at best. So that seemed like a no brainer. I just called him (let's call him - Mr. Free Spirit - to be kind) and said, "I'm marrying Mr. Handsome. He wants to adopt the kids. Will you sign the paperwork?" and I got a very simple "yes" from Mr. Free Spirit. So Mr. Handsome adopted Gigglebox(6) and Miss Princess(3), and since July of 2010 they call Mr. Handsome, daddy.

So now we had the older children to think about. They were ages 5,8, and 9 when we married, so they definitely knew I wasn't there mom. I had no intention of trying to be. Mr. Handsome has joint custody of the older three, so we have them a literal 50% of the time. They have a mom, and I'm not it, and that's okay. Now, they also have me and the sound of "stepmom" makes me cringe. Maybe because it seems to separate family like steps separate levels of the house. May it was because I had seen too many Disney movies with evil step-mothers. Whatever it was, I had adamantly decided that was not going to be a desciption of me or anyone in that house. Gigglebox and Little Princess were no longer "steps" by adoption they were siblings. So that made things a little easier. Coming up with a different title for me was a little harder. Miss Lovenotes(6) at one point asked if she could call me mom. Although, it warmed my heart that she looks at me that way I had to decline. As a mother myself I couldn't take that title from someone who is actively involved in their children's lives. So the older kids call me Victoria. Sometimes Vickie. And if they are talking about me to someone else they call me ExtraMom or BonusMom. 

I want to have a relationship with them that says "love" without words being necessary. I love them like my own. They are part of my six kids. No separation. No "step". With the addition Smiley baby, our family is really complete. 

So if you were a fly on the wall in home for day, you would hear plenty of "brothers" and "sisters", "Victorias" and "dads", but you won't hear "step"... and more than anything else, you'll hear a lot of "I love yous". And those are my favorite. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday DIY - rerun post

I'm on a "vacaction" weekend with my husband's company, so I had no time today to do the DIY. So here are five ideas that I recently contributed to another blog as a guest blogger.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday DIY - Who needs drawer liners?

The DIY can be used for that old end table, the dresser in your kids room, or even your kitchen drawers. Basically if you have a drawer, some scrap paper, and some basic items, you can redo any drawer you can find!

What you'll need:
  • a drawer
  • scrap paper
  • light paint
  • paint brush
  • glue stick
  • spray adhesive
  • sewing machine with all the fixins :-)

1. The drawer that needs to be covered.

2. Choose some vintage style papers from your scrap pile. You could also use coordinating colors and themes for whatever room the drawer will be in. This drawer is in a furniture piece painted to look shabby chic, so the scrap paper was in keeping with the same theme.

3. Lay white paper in the drawer and tape it together as a base to apply the printed paper. This helps the liner to fit perfectly when completed.

4. Lightly glue the papers down so they are easier to sew.

5. Do a creamy paint wash over the paper to blend the papers. Let your paper completely dry before you start sewing. Also, be sure the outside edges of the papers are glued down well, as they will not have any stitching holding them down.

6. Start stitching the seams of your papers. The zigzag stitch works well. You can set the width of your stitch according to your personal taste and what style of papers you are using. White thread was chosen to go with the light and "airy" look of the painted paper. After each seam has been sewn be sure to leave at least an inch of thread to tape and anchor to the back of the paper.

7. This is what it will look like once you have finished stitching and anchoring the stitches.

8.Turn the paper over and tape down any places, on the back of the liner, where you started and stopped stitching. You can also tie it off, but for liners taping is okay.

9. The edge of the paper should look like this when you are done stitching.

10. Use spray glue to attach your liner to the inside of the drawer. If you don't want the liner to be permanent, fallow the directions on the spray adhesive for a non-permanent hold.

11. Your finished product is a wonderful drawer liner made specifically to taste and coordination. Happy DIY Friday!

Pictures and Idea by Jennifer Griffin of Lily Mairi

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our weekend project!

Anyone who knows us knows we are ALWAYS working on something in our house. In the 14 months we've been married we have painted three rooms and a fireplace, laid down flooring in three rooms, built a corner desk, five shelves, and a "bar" for our kitchen. Not to mention the many DIY crafts I've done around the house and LOTS of redecorating. Let's just say fitting 8 people into a 1500 sq ft 1970's house is hard... REALLY hard, sometimes. But we are determined to do the best with what God has given us in the budget we have.

Thankfully I married Mr. Handsome :-) He can make, fix, or build anything you can think of, plus he paints with acrylics and water colors, sketches, does stipple art. Basically he's just about amazing. So while our power was out on Monday, due to tornados, he decided to rip out the wall in the only spot in out house with non utilized space. Now that the weekend is here we can make it into what we've wanted to do for a year, a pantry.

For me the dream of having all my food sharing one space, instead of being scattered into 6 cabinets, is wonderful. So hopefully by tomorrow night I will be stocking my new shelves with my old food - well, my already existent food- and be a very happy lady. I'll keep you posted.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday's DIY - Wine glass floral arrangement

Do you have a single glass left over from your favorite set of glasses, or that lone wedding glass that hasn't broken through all of your moves? Or maybe you just found a glass you couldn't pass up at the thrift store... if so, this one's for you!

Things you'll need:
  • Wine glass
  • Silk or dried flowers
  • Floral foam
  • Moss
  • Floral picks and picking machine OR wooden picks, wire, and floral tape
  • Hot glue and gun

Step1: Get your wine (or martini) glass ready

Step 2: Cut floral foam to fit the shape of the glass at the bottom. Attach to the glass with hot glue. The hot glue is enough to hold it in place but is not permanent so you can remove it if ever you desire to.
Step 3: Cover the foam with a little bit of moss. This step is not necessary since the foam is mostly covered later by the flowers, but it gives it an extra layer for texture.
Step 4: You can either use a picking machine if you happen to have access to one, or you can attach the flowers to wooden picks by wrapping the stem and pick with wire and covering with floral tape.
Step 5: Take your three biggest flowers or blooms and place them evenly (in a triangle) around the glass. This will keep the arrangement looking rounded when it is complete.
Step 6: Evenly add in the rest of your flowers for a nice even look. Add in the leaves around the base of the arrangement and in between any flowers that you would like to stand out (rose stand out from hydrangeas, etc)
Your finished product should look similar to this. Now the items you love will be on display to add a personal touch to your home, serve as a conversation piece, and brighten your day! Happy DIY Friday!

Pictures by Jennifer Griffin of Lily Mairi
Written by Victoria

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Unintentional hiatus & an introduction to a new DIY friend...

I'm so very sorry for my unintentional hiatus! Between sickness, birthdays, diets, family in town, etc; I just got lost in all the business. I'm very excited to be back in front of my computer keyboard, especially since I get to introduce you to a crafty, creative, brilliant, friend of mine. Meet Jennifer Griffin! She sells many products under the company name of Lily Mairi.

My name is Jennifer Griffin. I have been married 15 years to Andrew. Been together for 18.5 years.
I have 3 kids Lily, 7, Liam, 5 and Lia, 3. They are the ones that inspire most of my creations. It wasn't until I had kids that I appreciated the gift God had given me in my creative artistic ability. I realized when I had kids that I would be able to serve my family with my ability to make something out of nothing. To use what I had creatively to bless my kids with craft projects, birthday parties, costumes or whatever it is that would make a memory for them to cherish. Being a homemaker and mom, my gifts come in handy in serving my husband too. I have been able to make our house a home with very little money and a bit of elbow grease. A peaceful refuge for him and myself. I am able to take thrift store/yard sale items and give them a new purpose and new life. I LOVE to repurpose/recycle, rather up-cycle, things. I have been doing that since I was a child. I am not sure how I know the things I know. I have had no formal schooling in art. I read lots and lots by others who have gone before me. I also have this thing where I try to figure out how something is put together and made. Some people try to figure out how to copy a restaurants recipe for a fabulous dish. I try to figure out how that pillow was sewn and how I could do it using what I have. Principles that apply to one art form ofter can be applied to others. Basic design principle can be applied to various art forms as well. the same idea behind fashion can be applied to home decor or paper crafting. Personally I think balance is what matters not the color you use or texture you use. I do that often in my paper crafting. My art is visual. I can not write worth a darn. Hence my blog not being up to date. Language is my husband's area of creativity.

Now that you've "met" Jennifer... I will be posting some of her DIY projects, along with my own ideas and others, every friday so that you can make something beautiful every weekend! To follow her blog, like her on facebook, or buy something wonderful from her etsy store  just click the appropriate link.

Look forward to creating with you

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Honey Coconut Popsicles

A new favorite snack / dessert in our home is are homemade honey coconut popsicles. This works especially well since one son (maybe two) have dye allergies limiting what popsicles they can eat, and a daughter who is allergic to dairy. Super easy recipe.

  • honey
  • 1 can of coconut milk
Mix 3 tablespoons of honey with one 15oz can of coconut milk. Put in popsicle trays or icecube trays. Freeze for about 4-5 hours. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Three ingredient five course meal

This is perfect for a meal with just the adults or a fun thing to do as a family. Five course meal success with three ingredients per course.

Soup: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Serves 4
Preparation Time: 5 minutes to prepare, simmer around 20 minutes
  • 1 24 oz. jar of your favorite salsa 
  • 1 8 oz pkg of cream cheese 
  • 1 16 oz container of chicken broth

Directions: Blend most or all of the salsa in your blender until it's smooth. (Save a little bit and add it to the soup pot if you want your soup to have some chunks in it). Add the ingredients together and simmer them until the cheese is melted. You'll have to stir it good to get the cream cheese smoothly blended into the mixture.
Appetizer: Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Spears

Makes 12
  • 12 asparagus, medium thickness 
  • 6 prosciutto slices, halved lengthwise 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Lemon (ok, that’s a 4th ingredient, but it’s optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Snap off the woody stems of the asparagus and trim the bottoms with a knife. Wrap a slice of prosciutto diagonally around the asparagus stalks, leaving the tips and base exposed. Brush the exposed bits of the asparagus with olive oil. Arrange on a baking tray. Roast until the asparagus tips are tinged brown and the prosciutto is crispy, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and arrange on a plate. Drizzle with a little lemon juice, if desired.

Salad: Cucumber and Pear Salad

Serves 4
  • 2 English Cucumber, julienned thinly
  • 2 Asian pear, peeled and julienned thinly  
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Optional ingredients:
  • Lemon zest, optional
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional

Directions: Microwave the honey for 5-10 seconds to just loosen it up. Be sure to use a microwave-safe container to hold the honey. In a large bowl, toss together the ingredients. Let it sit in the fridge for 20 minutes for the flavours to meld together. Before serving, drain the excess water that has collected in the bowl. Add in a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with some lemon zest. Enjoy!

Main Dish: Red Curry-Glazed Salmon
Serves 4

Preparation Time: 15m
  • 4 5-ounce pieces salmon fillet
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste 
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions: Heat broiler. Place the salmon on a foil-lined broilerproof baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the curry paste, oil, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Dividing evenly, brush the salmon with the curry paste mixture. Broil until the salmon is opaque throughout, 5 to 7 minutes.

Dessert: Strawberry Crepes with Chocolate Merlot Fudge Sauce

Serves 4


  • 2 cups sliced strawberries 
  • 8 pre-made crepes, warmed - Purchase crepes in the produce section of your local supermarket or make your own if you have time. 
  • 1/4 cup Chocolate Merlot Fudge Sauce, warmed
Directions: Spoon 1/4 cup strawberries in center of each crepe; roll up and place seam side down on a serving plate. Drizzle fudge sauce evenly over crepes. Makes 4 servings.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Christmas in July!!!

When I heard there was a big sale at Target of up to 75% off I made sure everyone was presentable, threw the kids in the car, and headed to Target. If you have a large family like ours you absolutely MUST learn to shop for Christmas all year long and find the best deals. By the time we got there the toys had definitely been picked over, but it was still fairly easy to find birthday and Christmas presents because of the age range and genders of the kids. In the end I got about half of out Christmas shopping done and one birthday taken care of. This is what I got for $125 - so excited!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We did it! - One year anniversay in a blended family

It might sound a little dramatic to be so excited that we made it a year with our marriage and family still intact. Honestly, like all things, it is ONLY by God's grace that we made it through. With all the excitement and trials added to our first year of marriage I feel like I ran into a tornado and was spit out on the other side. As you and I know, the eye of the tornado is beautiful. So at the end of year one I love my husband more than ever. I didn't think we could be better friends, but we are. I love all of the kids more each day. I love my Savior more because of His mercy. I love my new baby boy who lives up to his name - Joyful Healer.

I love tradition, so our anniversary definitely surrounded the idea of it being our paper anniversary. We didn't do anything big. We had four ours to ourselves, so we walked around the local downtown area to visit shops and have lunch. I purchased tickets to a concert for him (the tickets are paper of course) and since we couldn't go out of town this month my wonderful husband put together clues on paper to show that he was getting us a cabin to go back to our miniature honey moon. He also wrote me a poem in Welsch.

So here's to paper! Just like the marriage certificate isn't just a piece of paper, these memories aren't just pieces of paper. To me, it is a reminder of our love for eachother, and God's sustaining love for us, over this first year. May God be so kind to us in every year that follows!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I tried my hand at Dill Pickles - but I'm no Martha Stewart

Take it from the pro, Martha Stewart. I did. My good friend over at Just the morning coffee encouraged me to do this so I tried my hand at Martha Stewart's recipe for dill pickle spears, and they turned out pretty good.

The ingredients

The finished product

Just in case you need to see a picture of how you submerge the cucumbers in the vinegar mixture.

Hope yours turn out delicious too!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Little hands, little feet, little you... BIG God

Kids are intrigued by the smallest things. This is a closed down blockbuster near our house. After a trip to the local frozen yogurt shop, my children stared in amazement at the empty space. As I look across this picture I cannot help but notice the small one. The one whose height seems so big compared to my newborn, but so small compared to the rest of the world. This is my baby girl -  and yesterday I put her on a BUS to her first VBS! For people who know me, you migh think I've lost my mind. I never would have done this a year ago, or really even a month ago. All I can say is God is at work. The reason I would have never sent her before is because I fear so much that my children will be hurt... and they may be... really, honestly, they will be. Someday, someone is going to hurt my children, and my heart will break everytime theirs do. But I also have to believe truth. God loves my children more than I do and will protect them. I did everything to ensure this is a safe church, with safe transportation. I even took down the license plate of the bus. Now I have to believe that God's hands can protect her more than mine ever can. That little girl, so brave to get on that bus with all her siblings, is still just that... my little girl. But more than that she is God's little girl. So I trust that she is in His hands, I pray for her safety and speedy return, and I find joy in all she learns about our Savior in the process. Because ultimately I want her too, to grow up to trust His hands.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

And the list goes on

33. Family vacations
34. The zoo
35. Serendipity coffee
36. New clothes
37. A peaceful car ride
38. Adoption finalization
39. A dear friend being our lawyer pro bono
40. Being married to my best friend
41. Three story ferris wheels
42. Red picnic table
43. Kangaroo paws
44. Matthias learning to read
45. Losing more baby weight
46. Walks with my iPod
47. Late night conversations
48. Anniversaries
49. Dinner with dear friends
50. Starbucks coffee straight from the Seattle store
51. Finding the right shade of grey for our walls
52. Buying the couch we had in mind
53. The opportunity to serve because God has blessed us
54. Time with extended family
55. A patient husband
56. Linen sheets
57. Cheap homeschool curriculum
58. The chiropractor
59. Knock knock jokes
60. Amanda sissy moving home!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fancy free in NYC

There was so much we did on our vacation trip to New York that it will take many posts to cover it all. This was my first trip to New York (except a brief -less than 40 hours- trip a few months ago to see his Omi before she went to be with the Lord) Of course I want to start with my favorite night. The night with no kids! (except baby, but he hardly made a peep) Two nights before we left, my wonderful mother-in-law listened for our kids while we stayed out until 4am running from Manhattan to SoHo. Honestly, we spent most of our time on the subway getting from Long Island to Penn Station to our destinations, but it was an adventure none the less.

waiting for our first subway ride to manhattan

So the first place we headed was to Manhattan to see the place I have been obsessed with since 2001. I have seen the movie Serendipity close to 200 times... really. I love everything about the movie and knew that when I went to NY I would have to go and see the movie's name sake. I knew it so well from the movie that I could spot it from two blocks away based on the street lamp out front.

I was SO excited to be there... even though it was almost midnight.

The staff was so friendly, even though we entered the shop five minutes before closing. I just had to order their famous frozen hot chocolate... mine was mint chocolate and amazing!

FACT: Jackie Kennedy wanted to buy this recipe to serve at a White House function and the owner said no.

I loved the decor... if I could replicate it without being fearful of six kids breaking anything, I so would.

These two photos are the downstairs portion of the shop where we sat.

This is the upstairs

AND this is the table that John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale sat at and said these lines:
Jonathan: This is the ultimate blend to drink. How'd you find this place?
Sara: I first came in because of the name: Serendipity. It's one of my favorite words.
Jonathan: It is? Why?
Sara: It's such a nice sounding word for what it means: a fortunate accident.
Of course I had to take something home, so I bought this awesome platter that I am so in love with.
Just wondering if I should actually use it for serving or decor...

My husband is truly the best for making sure I got to experience this dream :-)

Next we headed down towards SoHo to see a place he wanted to see... a pub called Mcsorley's. Unfortunately we made it there right as they were closing so he didn't get to have a beer there. He's always putting my wants before his... i was really sad we didn't make it in time.

There did end up being a cool little hat store still open next door called Village Scandal, so we wondered in. We bought a couple of hats that we thought were pretty cool.

All in all, I think this might have been one of the best nights ever!
More NY posts to come.