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Thursday, August 27, 2015

High School Graduation Party!

Graduation Party!!
We just sent our first born off to college (sniff sniff)!  Her senior year was very emotional for me, and it flew by!   May and June were a blur of activities, awards, banquets and celebrations.  I wanted to share a few of the projects that I put together for her graduation party.  It was an open house of friends and family and was a truly special day to celebrate.

Table Decor:

I wanted something simple yet meaningful.  I took jars that I had in my basement, tinted them blue (school colors) with decoupage and cake gel medium, added Scripture word art that I downloaded from the internet, added fresh flowers and viola!!

I made a dozen!  I was so pleased with how they turned out!

I mixed up about a cup of Mod Podge and added about a half teaspoon of the Wilton color gel. If you want a darker color, add more gel.  

I painted the inside of the jars using a foam brush.  Painting the inside of the jar allowed me to keep create the look of blue glass vs. painted glass.  
It goes on milky....

As it dries, it gets clear.  The heavier you are with the mixture, the darker color.  If you want a more subtle color change, use less gel.  I sped up the drying process by using my heat gun.  (Warning, the jars get hot if you do this, so hold the jars with potholders!  I figured this out pretty quick!)

I decoupaged the verse on the outside, added some ribbon and a tag.  The tag looked plain so I cut out some graduation hats on my cricut.  It was just what it needed!

I hit up the grocery store, bought a bunch of flowers and ended up with some lovely customized centerpieces.  The best part is that they are reusable and I have two more daughters that will be graduating high school.


I scrapbook so I wanted to utilize photos in any way possible for the party.  Here are a few of the photo projects!

 I picked up some banner templates at Hobby Lobby which were 50% off!!  I used one set to showcase pictures of Emily and the friends, family and activities that shaped her life.

This was my favorite!  I put her school pictures from Kindergarten through 
Junior year on this banner!

I saw this idea on Pinterest and LOVED it!! I loved it so much I made two!  Simple and easy to put together.  Just use a wreath frame, mount your pictures on black card stock and arrange on the frame.  The graduation hat is a 7 inch square with a raised button in the middle to hold the tassel.  Again, I fired up the cricut to make the letters, but you could use stickers too!

We had approximately 100 people, and we were on a budget.  One of our favorite meals is tacos so we had a taco/nacho bar which was easy to prepare ahead of time, keep stocked during the party and allowed me to enjoy the fun!  (Sorry I don't have great pictures, I forgot to take pictures of the food table!)

 Our graduate!!
Our garage buffet!  It rained so much the day of the party, but having the food in the garage worked out great!  I kept the taco meat, chicken and nacho cheese warm in crock pots. 
We wanted to do something fun for dessert so we had a cookie bar!

I did a lot of baking the days before the party, and stored the cookies in the freezer to keep them fresh and from being eaten!  

It was a great day and we were so blessed to have so many friends and family celebrate with us.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Freezing Corn-Easy!

This time of year, my inner Caroline Ingalls kicks into high gear! Today my daughter and I went to pick peaches for canning and at the same stand they had corn.  The peaches need to rest another day or two before I am able to can them, so I bought a bushel of corn to fill in my time!  (LOL!!)   Last year I froze about two dozen ears but it was super labor intensive and made a huge mess.  I knew there had to be a better way.  I now present to you my better way!

Step 1:  Shuck the Corn!  I bought a bushel which yielded 66 large ears of corn!  I enlisted my faithful crew of helpers to help me!  I suggest doing this step outside, it gets super messy!  

Step 2:  Get two large pots and get the water boiling.  (You can certainly use one pot, but because I had so much corn, I decided to double up on my efforts.)

Step 3:  Add the corn, cover and boil for approx 7-8 minutes.  I boiled the corn in batches...12 ears per batch.  
Step 4:  Remove the boiled ears to an ice bath to stop  the cooking.  I loaded up my kitchen sink with  cold water and ice.

Step 5:  Let the ears cool!  It hurts to handle hot corn...I learned that the hard way!

Step 6:  Remove the corn from the cobs.  I  bought a handy corn stripper by Oxo at Bed Bath and Beyond last year with a coupon, it made the job go very quickly!  You could use a knife, but this worked very well!
 You can also use a knife and a bundt pan....the cut kernels drop right into the pan!

I combined the two methods....I used my corn stripper and the bundt pan. This made the job go quickly!  It does a great job of getting the kernels off of the cob.

Step 7:  I put 4 cups into freezer quart bags, squeezed out the extra air and popped them in the freezer.  I ended up with 15 quart bags of corn.  I figure that I'll use about half a bag per family serving or to add in recipes.   

The work I put in today will be greatly enjoyed during the winter!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What to do with all of that summer squash!

I came across this recipe on Pinterest and gave it a try tonight.  My family loved them!  If you've got a lot of summer squash growing in your garden, this is a great way to enjoy them!

Yellow Squash Cheddar Biscuits

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Using a Cricut to make iron on transfers for T-Shirts

Every year we go to Camp Li Lo Li in Randolph, NY.  One of my favorite places anywhere!  Fun camp where kids hear great teaching from the Word of God, and are encouraged in their walk with our Lord.   I'm on staff two weeks during the summer and it's just as much fun for us as it is for the kids!  This year we are having a "Gold Rush" theme so I wanted to make some shirts for my friends and I that are on the waterfront staff.  I found some really cool glittery iron on transfer sheets, put them through my cricut, ironed them on and viola!!  (Total time approx. 30 minutes. The longest part was spent laying out my design.  The actual making of the shirt about 15 minutes.  

Here's how I did it....

Step 1.  I used my Cricut Design Studio software to lay out my design.  I like using it because you can tweak the letters and shapes.  I can also get a good idea of how big the final layout it.
Tip:  The wider the letter, the easier it will be to peel off and use on a t-shirt.  Skinny calligraphy letters would not be recommended, unless you like to drive yourself crazy! 

Step 2.  I laid out my transfer sheets onto my cricut mat.  
 Make sure it's affixed really well so it doesn't slip during the cutting.

Step 3.  Carefully pull back the excess.

 Step 4:  Following manufacturers instructions on your transfer sheets, adhere the letters to your t-shirt.  I always cover over the letters with a handkerchief.  That way the letters won't stick to the bottom of the iron.

The finished product!!!  Custom T-Shirt!   Now we're ready for Camp!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tweaking your basic cookie Recipe

I enjoy baking and chocolate chip cookies are a staple.  Here are some easy to change up your basic recipe to get whole new variations with very little effort!

Basic Recipe:
     Cream in a mixer:
     2 sticks of butter with 
     3/4 cup of brown sugar
     3/4 cup of white sugar
add in    
     2 eggs
     1 t baking soda
     1 t salt
     1 T vanilla (see homemade recipe below!)
      2 1/2 cups flour
      2 cups of chocolate chips 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

Variation 1:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
     Substitute 1/2 cup of peanut butter for one of the sticks of butter.  The flavor is amazing!

Variation 2:
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
     Add 1/2 cup of baking cocoa to your cookie mix before adding in the chocolate chips.  


Homemade Vanilla Extract
I love everything vanilla....from hand soap, body wash, room fresheners and of course in baked goods.  Real vanilla extract is pricey, even at Sam's or BJ's.  I've made my own for's super easy and very inexpensive!

1.75 L of Vodka  ($12.00)
8 vanilla beans ($9.00)

Cut the beans lengthwise and drop 4 of  them into the bottle and store in a dark place.  After a few days, you'll see the color of the alcohol change to the vanilla extract color that we all know.  After 8 weeks it will be ready for baking!   

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Using my Cricut beyond scrapbooking

Using my Cricut beyond the scrapbook pages.

Project #1:  I "decorated" my cricut.  Why bother?  Well, at least twice a year I go to a major crop with other scrapbookers where cricut machines abound.  They are all lined up along the walls where the outlets are.  Now I will be able to pick out my machine right away, and no one will mistake theirs for mine!  (Total time:  10 minutes)
 Project #2!  
I saw this on Pinterest and couldn't wait to try it out myself!  I found a frame at home and removed the backing.  I then used my cricut design studio program to lay out the lettering for our last name and welded the letters together.  After the name was cut out, I used transfer paper to transfer the images directly to the glass of the frame.  I had to bend the clips on the back of the frame so they wouldn't show through the glass, but still keep the glass secure.  I LOVE how it turned out!!!  My husband thought it was pretty cool too!  Score!! (Total Time:  25 min)

 Project #3!  This was fun and so easy, a quick and easy way to jazz up the laptop!  Using vinyl on your cricut machine is easy (cut using low pressure) and they apply to the back of the laptop!  The best part, is that when I want to change it, I can peel it off and there is no residue left behind!  (Total time:  10 min)