Friday, December 31, 2010

Craft Book Giveway from Apron Memories Blog

EllynAnne from Apron Memories is having a giveaway!  She stumbled upon a book (while browsing through  she found interesting and after researching the author online, she decided she liked what Jodi Kahn (author) was about and actually contacted her to see if she would sponsor giving away her new book, Simply Sublime Gifts  to one of her blog readers of Apron Memories. 

(picture from Amazon)

EllyAnne blog is about aprons so you can see how this book caught her eye!  Look at the cover of Simply Sublime Gifts and you'll see a cute apron.  I believe that's all it took for EllyAnne to dig deeper into what this book was all about.  I can understand it!  I love aprons too and have quite a collection of patterns and articles that could easily  fill a whole dresser drawer.  So, of course I entered this contest! 

Even though I want to win, I want to pass along this giveaway information to you for a chance.  I love the idea that you can make easy, practical gifts from items you already have in your home. That's what this book is all about.  So please, check it out and sign up.  Support bloggers who want to give away a gift!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Elmer's Tri-Fold Display Table Runner (#canyoutopthis)

 Can You Top This??
Doesn’t this sound like a dare?
Becca, from Our Crazy Boys, is having a giveaway/contest and this is the theme... Can you top this?
Well, Becca, you challenged us and I accept the challenge!
She wants us to create a masterpiece using this:
That is the only rule.  Use Elmer’s Tri-Fold Display Board.  You can use it any way you want.  You can cut it, sew it, glue it, burn it.... 
You get what I’m saying???
It doesn’t need to look like a display board when you’re done.  
Here’s the prize: She is giving away 3 $100.00 gift certificates to Wal-Mart.  Now she’s totally speaking my language!  MONEY, honey!  

My passion is sewing.  I wanted to incorporate what I know with this board somehow.  It took me a while but finally an idea popped into my head... how about this:
A Designer Table Runner
What I love about this runner is it’s practical while at the same time it's beautiful for our home.  The display board is the “guts” in this masterpiece.  It gives the runner structure. It’s very practical to use on your table because you can put hot dishes right on it;  the board insulates the heat from going to the table!  Since it’s easy to make, you could make several  using different fabrics; you won’t be bored seeing the same thing on your table.  Another great idea is to recycle old table cloths or bedspreads into these table runners.  In addition, you could take these tri-fold boards from other projects and recycle them for this project too.  I love the idea that we can reuse what we already have.  A winning situation for our environment and economic times.
Materials Needed:
Elmer’s Tri-Fold Foam Display Board purchased from Wal-Mart ($7.95)
fabric: 1 yard (36x44)
sewing machine (I’ll share with you how to make it without one too)
tread (either matching or contrasting to fabric choice)
box cutter knife
pencil or marker
masking tape 
iron/ironing board
self healing cutting mat/rotary cutter (optional)

1.) Lay board flat with the folds spread in open position with the shiny side facing up. With a pencil/marker using a ruler, mark the board in half lengthwise. Using the  line as your guide, cut the board using the box cutters. Because I was a bit of a klutz with
the cutter, I taped the cut edge of the board to make it smooth. 

2.) Cut your fabric: 30" wide x 43" long. On one side of the short edge (the width), turn right side of fabric under about 1 inch towards wrong side of fabric. Iron this fold into a nice crease. Now fold your fabric in half (the 30 inch side, making it 15 inches wide by 43 inches long) with right sides of fabric facing each other (so wrong side of fabric is on the outside (pic below). Iron the fabric, making sure there is a nice crease on the folded edge.

3.) Sewing part: This project only requires you to sew two straight  lines. Easy Peasy! With your sewing machine (if you're lucky to own one like me), sew one short end and the open side of the outer edge (opposite of the creased edge) with a 1/2" seam allowance. Remember to back stitch a little to secure the thread. After sewing the two seams, clip the edges like in the picture below and iron seams open. Turn fabric right side out and iron it nicely. Now, you are close to being done!!!

If you don't have a sewing machine, don't worry! You can still make it!
Purchase this:

(picture from Joann's Fabric website)

This can be purchased at Joann's Fabric. I'm sure you can find it elsewhere, just Google it. Follow the directions on the back and use it for the two seam closures listed above. It would be good to practice on old scrape material before using on project. Instead of opening the seams like mentioned when sewing, iron the seam to one side of fabric.
4.) Putting it together. 
     Insert the display board inside the fabric like so:

Now, just take a sewing needle and thread
and sew opening seam close. 

Now you're finished!!!! 
Place on table and admire your work!!!

P.S.  We only used half the board, so now you can make yourself another one!  

I thought the boards would also make wonderful place mats using the same technique.  If you have kids who like to draw, purchase some caulk board fabric and make either project.  They will get a kick out of drawing on it, keeping them busy while you're still preparing dinner.  You can also use it as a table teaching tool: have them draw where the plate and utensils should go on the place mats. 

What I realized while making this project was that once I started letting my imagination stir, I was able to come up with several projects using the display board so really, I'm already a winner!

Thank You, Becca!  I love a good challenge! Bring on the next one....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Easy Menu for New Years Eve

I plan to have a few people over for New Year's Eve  and want to keep it simple.  The menu is so easy to prepare with the help of my husband!  Because I want to keep it simple, I'm only preparing two of the dishes and plan to purchase a cheese and vegetable platter.

New Year’s Eve Main Dish
The Best Barbecue Wings
The Barbecue Sauce:
1 slice bacon
1 bunch of fresh thyme
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped (I use more, just cause I like garlic)
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablesp. red or white wine vinegar
1 tablesp. dry mustard
1 teasp. ground cumin
1 teasp. paprika (not the sharp type)
black pepper
First Street Chicken Party Wings, sold in a 4 lb bag for $7.00 (that’s only $1.75 a pound)
Thaw the wings 
To make the sauce:
Wrap the bacon around the bunch of thyme and tie with kitchen twine so you have a nice bundle.  Heat about 2 tablesp. of oil in a large sauce pan over low to medium heat.  Add the thyme and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste.  Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.  Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove bacon bundle.
While sauce in simmering, heat outside grill to medium heat.  
Make sure that your grill has a thin coating of oil on the grates to help prevent the wings from sticking to grates.  Coat the wings lightly with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper on wings and grill for 10 minutes (5minutes each side).  Preheat kitchen oven to 375 degrees F.  
Take the grilled chicken and place on cookie sheets covered with non-stick foil. Remove 1 cup of sauce from simmering pot and brush wings with this.  Place in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes (until done!) 
Place wings on platter and serve with remaining sauce.

Along with this:


2 cans drained black beans
1/3 cup small diced red pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped purple onion
1/4 cup small chopped unpeeled cucumber
2  tablesp. small diced celery
2  tablesp. minced jalepeno pepper (deseeded)
1  tablesp. chopped fresh basil
2  tablesp. olive oil
2  tablesp. tomato juice (or 1/2 cup salsa)
2  tablesp. red wine vinegar
1  tablesp. lemon juice
1 1/2 teasp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2    teasp. ground cumin
1/2    teasp. chili powder
1/4    teasp. salt
1/4    teasp. pepper
1 crushed clove of garlic
Mission Tortilla Chips (selected varieties, 22 OZ. @ $1.99 at Smart & Final)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.  Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.  Check seasonings and adjust to taste.  This dish will last one week refrigerated.  Prep time: 30 minutes, no cook time!
Enjoy this tasty Sala & chips with Shasta Soda (varieties on sale for $0.59 at Smart and Final) (Limit 10)

What are you planning to serve for your New Year's Eve gathering?

Happy New Year!!!! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Look What I Won!

I don't want to BRAG!


Remember the post I did last week about an apron giveaway?

Well, I won THAT apron!!!


Just in case you didn't see it....

Shawnee of Apronista promoted this giveaway; she is the queen of aprons!! 
 Her blog is dedicated to aprons and the women who wear, sew and sell them.  Apronista is all about women and their interest in domestic life.  Her website is beautiful, sophisticated, and interesting.

This artsy/beautiful apron is the made by Candace, who owns her own company, One Tree Lane USA.  Her business is solely dedicated to making aprons.  Her signature style includes a cute tassel on every apron. You'll be impressed with her and her business.  I always enjoy reading  someone's bio; I love to read   about the person and how their business came about.  Candace, I promise to wear your apron proudly!  When dressed in this apron, who wouldn't want to be domesticated!

Thank you for my beautiful prize

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Look Who's 28!!!

My son, Mathew, turned 28 yesterday.  It's just so hard for me to believe he's that age.  I remember me at that age and it doesn't seem like that long ago...

Mathew and me about 3 years ago visiting wine country in Napa Valley

Mathew with his cousins, AJ and Brittany
Mathew, with his brother, Jason, and Brittany

(This picture was taken about 4 years ago)

My sister thought it would be cool to play a joke on me so

she took this picture of Mathew with his arm in a tattoo sleeve.

I thought it was real and
 called him in about
two seconds flat and asked him:

 "What the heck were you thinking???"

He asked what I was talking about....

I said, "Your arm looks awfully decorated!"

He says, "Doesn't it look great!?"

He didn't tell me it was a tattoo sleeve for a few minutes....

Then he told me it was my sister's idea!!!

Well, this is one of many things I love about him....

He can make me laugh...

Mathew, Happy Birthday!

P.S.  It's not that I don't like tattoos.  It's just that one!  I know he has a couple but nothing like that one on his arm.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Funniest Christmas Tree

I just ran across the funniest Christmas tree. It's  posted on this blog

Who would have thought to TP the tree!!!

Have you ever heard of  elf magic?  Well, I hadn't so after I saw Beckie's blog, I had to check it out at:  

This would make a wonderful tradition to start....

Apron Giveaway!!!


at Apronista !!!

 You could win:

(picture from one-tree-lane)
Check it out:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Helping Someone with the help of Smart and Final

Today, I had the privilege to be a part of something very important.   Collective Bias asked me if I wanted to partake in  "Sharing & Caring Campaign" at Smart and Final.  I take this campaign seriously because I have been a recipient of someone's act of kindness many years ago.  I'm thrilled to be able to pass along this kindness to someone in need of a little help. 

The person I chose to help out is a co-worker.  I can relate to her because I was in her shoes 28 years ago!  I was a single mother, just like her.  I wanted to provide a good life for my child just like she does.  But it’s hard when you have only yourself to rely on and you have someone else who is depending on you.  The holiday times are the hardest.  When you’re struggling just to pay for the necessities there is little or no money left to give your child a gift.  I wanted to make it a little easier so when Collective Bias offered me a $25.00 gift certificate to shop at Smart and Final to participate in bringing holiday cheer to someone in need, I said “YES!”

There are many ways to approach what you purchase when you want to help someone. You could buy something they can enjoy, such as a really good cheesecake.  They could serve it when they have company dropping by for the holidays.  You could purchase some groceries for them.  It’s always nice to have a delicious meal!  But what I remember from my early years as a single mom was the need for the very basics.  If I could provide some of the basic necessities for my co-worker, she could afford to spend some money on her child for the holidays.

I am fortunate to have more than just one Smart and Final close to my home.  This is awesome when you’re out and about and need to shop quickly.  I don't have to waste time traveling because I can either go north or south and run into a Smart and Final.  If time is an issue, I'm sure you can appreciate this!  If you're wondering if you have a Smart and Final close to you, check it out here: Smart and Final. 

Now for my experience shopping at Smart and Final: When I thought of this store, the first thing that came to my mind was, “This is the store you go to if you own a business and need large quantities of stuff."  Well, my trip today proved me wrong! I found many items for sale in small quantities. They came in different sizes to accommodate a small family or a big business:

Same item: small or large quantities

I also liked that I didn’t have to compromise on my belief of being earth-friendly.  I purchased items made of  recycled material , items that could be recycled or used more than one time:

Earth Friendly!

More than one use

I found it easy to find the DEALS.  Look at the many yellow labels:  ALL GOOD DEALS (who doesn't like a sale)!  There are rows of yellow stickers!  Actually, I was surprised at how many deals I could find.  You don’t have to look hard,  they're all around you. 

I also liked that they sell many store-name products at great prices.  This is a great way to get more bang for your buck.  It gives me more purchasing power, who doesn't love that!

Many Products are manufactured by Smart and Final

 I liked the wide isles which made shopping so much more pleasant.  When a cart is coming up the isle in the opposite direction, you don’t have to wonder if you’ll both fit. Plus, look how clean this store is; I could take my mother shopping at this store (my mother who loves to see how clean things are with her white glove test!)

Wide Isles!  A real plus if shopping with kids

So, without compromising my earth-friendly creed, believing in purchasing basic necessities to make life a little easier on my co-worker, here’s what I purchased for $25.00:

This is a lot of bang for my buck!
Look at all my savings!!!
The only downside to my shopping experience was rain.  I live in the desert where it only rains a few times a year. Oh well, I finally got to use my raincoat!

If you are able to help someone out, please do! I have been so blessed since my younger years, it's so nice to be able to give to someone just like me.  Thank you Collective Bias and Smart and Final for giving me a chance to improve someone's holiday.  

Happy Holidays to all!

Disclosure:  Collective Bias compensated me for my time, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Honey...This post is for you!!!

My Honey, Zdenek, travels a lot for his job....

We talk often, usually in the evening when our day is almost ending.....

One of the topics that we seem to always talk about....

      What did you have for dinner....

Now,  I can't say why this is always one of our topics...but it is.

So, Honey, these pics are for you!

Tonight's dinner:

Just in case you're wondering what I'm having for lunch tomorrow....

My favorite standby....

Honey, Thank you for caring about me!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall Vacation: Washington DC, Virginia

Part One of My Journey: 


We drove down from Washington, D.C. to the beginning of Shenandoah National Park.  

Skyline Parkway

This park ends where the Blue Ridge Parkway begins.  469 miles of winding roads through two States (Virginia and North Carolina); it is  one of the most spectacular places in America.  The weather was so beautiful; cloudy with a temperature around 69 degrees and plenty of humidity (which is a bit chilly when you actually have humidity! Something AZ doesn't have!)  Coming from the west, this part of the country looks vastly different.  There are rolling hills, green pastures, forest, fruit growing on the side of the roads:
 Looking down from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Wild fruit growing on the side of the road 


We took a few small hikes to enjoy the fresh air.  It had rained during the night so you can imagine how everything smelled. It had such a wonderful fall smell with all the damp leaves on the ground.

One of the hikes we took was called Fallingwater Cascades Trail.  In the description of this hike, it mentions that the trail drops 260 feet below the the trail head and hikers should be prepared to climb that elevation on their return.  Really!  260 really isn't that long but I can tell you from my own experience it feels REALLY LONG when climbing up!  Here are some pictures from this particular hike:
The beginning of the trail
Walking on the trail: Color Everywhere

The Cascades

Me just being me!  Aren't these leaves big?

Fall colors

The reason for visiting!! FALL

Honestly, I didn't want to come home.  We had only two days to spend on the parkway which wasn't enough!  We only traveled about 200 miles total;  driving through the Shenadoah National Park on the Skyline and the first 100 miles on the  Blue Ridge Parkway.  That leaves me 369 miles to explore when I come back to visit.  Believe me, I will be coming back!  It's truly one of God's best places!

Next blog post will be:

 Part Two: Washington, D.C.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Two Products for Laundry Room

There are two products that really work for me in my laundry room:

Both these items get a lot of use in my laundry room.  I used to hang my wet wash cloths outside on a wooden rack holder and the wood would (wow!) seep into the cloth and discolor it.  I would be so mad about it.  The according rack isn't made of wood so I no longer have that problem.  Plus, since it's indoors, I no longer have to worry about the wind knocking it over.  I love the fact that I can push it close and it's not in my way.  I also like the fact that it isn't on the floor taking up valuable space.  Altogether, it's makes my "Love It" list of products.  I like the 2nd product as much as the first.  As I would hang my cloths from the dryer, I would put the hangers on the door knobs.  Well,  you can only hang so much stuff on those small knobs and I would have to stop hanging to put the already hung cloths in the closet, which isn't near the laundry room.  I solved that problem with the instaHanger.   I love that it can hold many cloths at once, it's very study on the wall , it closes up and takes no room at all!  Who doesn't love that!  My husband said that they were pretty easy to install.  I can't imagine doing laundry without these two gadgets.   I bought them from the Container Store locally but you can also purchase them online.  Below the pics are the links to both items.  No, they didn't ask me to sell their products!  I just want to share what really work's for me.  Please, if you have an item that works for you, won't you share it with everyone by leaving me a comment.