Wednesday, October 27, 2010

rings and things

I've been on a mission lately to clean out my closet and jewelry. As I went through my things, I found a lot of old rings and (before you get grossed out, I cleaned them!) toe rings!

Now, I'm not a big toe-ring wearer anymore as I was in my college flip-flop-through-the-winter years, but I decided to get creative, and use some free-spirit thinking to jazz up those rings into some new things!

Here's what you need:

(note: if you have something like really strong krazy glue or gorilla that's even better, these rings wont be for hard labor or anything)

Put a dab of glue on the ring or the found item. This picture below is a pretty pink button!

I also found a pretty purple rock (I am an infamous trinket hoarder). I was worried it might be too big, but with enough glue, I think I got it to stick!

Update: After wearing, I got it wet, and it came apart- so I re-glued with some stronger craft glue, and got that rock to stick!

Voila! 4 new rings to add to my jewelry collection! I used a button, a googly eye (perfect for Halloween!), a tiny bouquet of blue flowers, and a pretty purple stone (Jenn, can your hubby identify it?)

Behold, as I model the rings;

Perhaps I'll begin a ring collection a la Madeleine Albright and use them to display my mood. What's that? They already make mood rings? Fine.

Happy crafting!! Get creative free spirits!!
Not a free spirit? Buy similar rings here and here!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

lots of ♥♥♥♥'s for our doll house re-model... we go...there's lots of ground to cover...and when i finally realized how much ground, i decided to make this a 2-part post :) so you're stuck with this next week too...last week sister Mar (who always beats me to the punch...maybe it's cause our daughters are the same age...our brains are on "4 yr old wave length") posted about
making a dollhouse for little L for Christmas....and it got my brain a churnin' the basement, sat a doll house, belonging to my girls, just begging for a "re-do"...with much creative juices flowing, i headed to my home away from home, and bought much supplies (like i don't already have 40 thousand projects going at once)...(Mar, i know you're cringing at the thought of this...Nel, lets write a book..."too-many-crafts-creativity-hormone-overdose-not-enough-time-ever-attention-deficit-disorder") for a doll house makeover, that thrilled my girls by the way...(this was no Christmas surprise for us, i was thinking more along the lines of mother/daughter project, since the dollhouse was already at one time a Christmas present...i couldn't re-give it as a present...i think that would be considered a re-gifted gift to ourselves...?) i said lots of ground to hear we go... are before shots of the basement dollhouse...really basic, nothing fancy, just sorta plain...with a strange half roof with a gap in the middle...and i don't think i mentioned when all is said and done i want to put this in J's room on a little table with c
hairs for her and big sissy to enjoy ( cute) (i had this all figured out in my head) i wanted it to be brought out of hibernation in the yucky dungeon to the bright sunshine of my daughter's really cute purple heffalump room (stay tuned for those pics next tues.)...but it just wasn't cuttin' it for the really cute purple lumpy room...but i was glad it was so basic since it was practically a blank canvas...i was free to create (all the while i rambled on about all this, my husband just smiled & nodded...well ok...just nodded)

click on any of the pics to see them larger

i started with the floors first...

♥1. i found some really neat hardwood floor-ish looking card stock @ joanns
♥2. measured & cut it to size
♥3. fit & pieced it together
♥4. Modge Podge-ed it!
(believe it or not this was actually my first time using the stuff...i got some cool tips and ideas from modgepodgerocks)

then the walls...

the paper i chose was from K&Company called Berry Sweet...i followed the same process for the wallpaper as i did the floors...(just make sure your wallpaper is cut exactly to size, once you lay it down on the modge podge, there's no adjusting or moving it around at all!)

next the upholstery :) ...

i made a seam on each end of the bedspreads and then used stich witchery to bind it underneath the next photos i made pillowcases and added tiny details...that's where it always the details...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Worst Cookie EVER!!

Since 'S' posted the countdown to Christmas, I've been feeling a little stressed! So lately I have been on the hunt for the perfect Christmas cookie to make for our famous seven sisters cookie exchange party! A lot have come close, but I don't think there is a winner yet.

The other day, my little girl L and I embarked on a totally new cookie, one that we had never made before. The chocolate meringue cookie. They look absolutely fabulous in the picture. Melt in your mouth delicious! However, don't be fooled by appearances. This is how our adventure proceeded. First, while attempting to make the Swiss meringue over the stove poor little L burned the entire tip of her thumb on the stove! Poor baby was crying and holding her thumb in the cold running water while still with my other hand I was trying desperately to whisk the meringue. Then once all the sugar was melted I had to whisk it in the electric mixer, slowly increasing the speed until I got the stiff glossy peaks the recipe called for. So while attempting to bandage my poor little L's tiny thumb I had to keep increasing the speed on the mixer. Extremely stressful I must add, this is defiantly not the cookie for multi-taskers! Once I bandaged little L's thumb and gave her a treat for being so brave the glossy peaks had formed and I had to painstakingly fill a pastry bag and pipe the cookies perfectly onto the baking sheets. Then as I continued to read the recipe I found that you would need 2 hours to bake the cookies! 2 HOURS!!! Who in their right mind wants to wait 2 hours for their cookies to be done! Never the less we waited, watching the clock for 2 hours because we really wanted to taste those beautiful looking chocolate meringues. Finally 2 hours were over and the cookies were ready to come out of the oven. I opened the oven door and realized that the cookies were not done yet. NOT DONE YET! It had already been two hours and the directions said after two hours the cookies should be able to be lifted easily off the parchment paper, but mine were still very soft. So I added another 10 minutes to the timer, and then another 10 minutes. Finally the cookies came easily off the parchment paper. Little L and I waited patiently for them to cool down and then it was time to taste them. Yippee!! But wait...Oh my... they were the most disgusting sticky cookie I have ever tasted! After all that work I felt like yelling at Martha for misleading me into making the most disgusting cookie in the world! But after realizing how foolish that would look I looked at Little L and realized that she too had spit out the cookie into her hand. " Uh.. Mom.. I don't really like these"..she said. I just started to laugh! "Me neither L, me neither". Needless to say we are still on the hunt! But on a better note Martha does have a fabulous recipe for double chocolate chunk cookies that are to die for!
Double Chocolate Cookies
(makes about 3 dozen)
* 1 cup all purpose flour
* 1/2 cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
*1/2 tsp baking soda
*1/2 tsp salt
*1/2 pound good quality milk chocolate (4 oz coarsely chopped, 4 oz cut into 1/4 inch chunks)
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
*1 1/2 cups sugar
*2 large eggs
*1 tsp pure vanilla extract

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Melt 4 oz coarsely chopped chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; let cool slightly.
- Put chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chunks.
- Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces crack, about 15 minutes (cookies should appear soft). Let cool on parchment on wire racks (or counter).
*These are the best chocolate cookie I have ever eaten!*

Friday, October 22, 2010

Survey Says...

Lulu here! No school today so I am taking charge of this post! J got me hooked on e-mail surveys so I thought it would be fun to write one right here at Seven Sisters! If a sister ever has a week when you are at a loss for something to blog about, feel free to post your own answers to the survey.

Nel's answers are in blue
Lulu's answers are in green

What is the best thing you ate today? Apple cider raisin bread from Wegmans
My mom's homemade chicken french

What was/is your favorite subject in school? Math

What are your favorite pizza toppings? Mushrooms and peppers
Pepperoni and mushrooms

What is your favorite holiday? 4th of July

What is your favorite fruit? Blueberries

Do you like cubed or crushed ice? Crushed

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Orthodontist

What toppings would be on your perfect hamburger? American cheese, lettuce, dill pickles and LOTS of ketchup
American cheese, lettuce, fresh tomato,
pickles and ketchup

What is the last book you read for pleasure? The Rose Conspiracy By Craig Parshall
Sent, The Missing: Book 2 By Margaret P. Haddix

What is your favorite snack? Pretzels with cream cheese
Wavy Lays with Bison french onion dip

What is your least favorite household chore? Washing the windows
Picking up my room

What item from your closet do you wear the most?Black dress pants and black flats with sequins
Green Aero sweatshirt

What is your dream car? Black Cadillac Escalade
Pink Convertible Beetle

What is your favorite month and why? July- SUMMER!!!

What is your favorite Star Wars movie?(this one's from the mayor!) Return of the Jedi
The one with Jar Jar Binks
The one with the Ewoks

What is your favorite sport to play? I haven't found it yet!
Pickle Ball

What is the best Christmas present you have ever received? Downhill skis when I was in high school
Fisher Price town house doll house when I was 4

What is your favorite dessert? Cold apple pie
Fudge brownie with peanut butter sundae ice cream, whipped
cream and a cherry on top!

Nel's smile for the week: yummy apple cider!☺
Nel's frown for the week: waking up an hour late and not realizing it until we walked downstairs and noticed it was lighter than usual outside, needless to say Lulu was late for school
Lulu's smile for the week: 3 day weekend☺
Lulu's frown for the week: Spiders attempting to attack me first thing in the morning

Thursday, October 21, 2010

And this is the clock that Dad built...

I love my Dad. As I had mentioned before, when we purchased our house there was a lot of old wood up in the second story of the Carriage house (now a garage). My Dad offered to take some of the wood and build us a clock to put on our mantle. I picked out a general idea for a design and my Dad went to town. I heard stories from my Mom about how he was just in awe at the quality of the wood once the weather beaten outside was stripped away. Here is the clock in its completed form. It is now beautifully displayed on our fireplace mantle and I love it!

Life is a constant battle and on the outside we might look a little weather beaten and old, but inside we are still beautiful and capable of awesome things. Don't let the weather of life discourage or hinder you just because it may make you a little worn on the outside. It's what gives you character and what makes you beautiful on the inside.

This post is dedicated to Dad for the wonderful job that he did in making my new clock. Thank you! XOXOXO

PS Thank you Mom too =)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

how to have the most organized Christmas you've ever had with enough time to actually enjoy those sugar cookies you slaved over

Start early.

Oh, I mean early. So early that by October 19th you've already gotten some Christmas gifts done, menu picked out and lists made! Oh snap, it's October 20th already! If you're ready to get your holiday sleigh in gear, start yelling "On Donner, on Blitzen," because it's time to get going! I know J may have just gotten you thinking about Thanksgiving, but we need to talk priorities, people- priorities!

Simply follow my weekly format and it'll take care of pretty much everything! (And I even saved room for Thanksgiving too (xoxoJ)
Week of October 17 (we're already halfway done so I'll give you a light load!)
  1. Create a list of those for which you will need to buy gifts. I will admit that I am particularly anal about this. Not only do I create a list of who I will need to buy for, I also include an idea of what I want to get them, a budget, and I set a timeline for when I need to have it completed by. So, if I need to buy 15 gifts, then I need to have 5 done in October, 5 done in November and 5 done before Dec 25. I meet my goals every month! Download this template to keep you organized!
  2. Create a list of those for which you will be sending cards and decide on the type of card you will be sending. Photo card, newsletter, store-bought cards? Download this template to keep you organized!
  3. Create a list of events you will be hosting, and decide what kind of event it will be. Sit down dinner, appetizers only? etc. Every year, we host Christmas Eve, and this year it'll be a nice sit down dinner! (Who wants my famous ham???)
The key to de-stressing the holidays is to break the work up into segments, so that when you get down to that magical Christmas week, it's nothing but mistletoe, baby!

Week of October 24
  1. Request lists for those of which you will be buying gifts. If such an idea seems tacky to you, then write down ideas of what you would like to buy for each person.
  2. Nail down your Christmas card idea. I've started a tradition of writing up a newsletter on the years' noteworthy events. One of my favorite online tools to use may surprise you. It's Microsoft Templates! Simply search for "holiday newsletters" and voila, plenty of pre-made templates for you to use. Simply insert a photo, type in your text, spell check and print! If you're going with a newsletter, get it written early. Some ideas of what to include are major events from the year, summer vacation details, new arrivals and marriages you celebrated, and what you're most looking forward to in the next year. If you're doing a photo card, decide on a template so that once you take your cute family holiday photo, you're all ready to go. If you're using a photo from that family vacation, order those cards up! One less thing to worry about!
Week of October 31
  1. Plan a shopping trip day with your girlfriends, mom, sisters, etc. to get cranking on the better part of your list. Plan a full day of shopping that includes malls, antique stores, specialty boutiques, a yummy lunch, etc. You can plan it for Black Friday if you're into the mad rush thing, or for a little bit before Thanksgiving. Once Thanksgiving hits, it can be crazy to get any sort of bulk shopping completed. Don't forget your holiday party dress!
  2. Start thinking about menu ideas for the party(s) you will be hosting or what dish-to-pass you'll bring to the parties you'll be invited to. If you have never tried a recipe before, do a test run this week. Better to fail in front of your husband than in front of a crowd. haha.
Week of November 7
  1. Checkpoint week. By now you should have at least 1/3 of your shopping complete, and if not complete, a good idea of what you're getting and from where. Finish any online shopping. Don't forget to buy handmade!
  2. Make a list of those for whom you'll be giving cookies, or a small gift (co-workers, neighbors, host gift, etc.). Every year I make an ornament and give a small box of cookies to our neighbors. My neighbor P crochets me a scarf every year! :)
  3. Nail down a date with your girlfriends for a cookie exchange and ornament making party (7S does one every year!)
Week of November 14
  1. Decide what kind of cookie(s) you'll be making for any cookie exchanges.
  2. By now you should have a set-in-stone menu/dish to pass for any other events you'll be hosting or attending.
  3. By now you should have completed your "small gift shopping" (co-workers, neighbors, host gifts, etc.) Christmas Tree Shoppes is a great place to find small, inexpensive gifts that are perfect for this!
Week of November 21
  1. Thanksgiving week! (Sorry you're on your own for those plans)
  2. After Thanksgiving weekend- decorate the house! I suggest hot cocoa with whipped cream, Christmas music, and a big ole star on top 'o the tree.
Week of November 28
  1. Time to get serious about shopping. By now you should have had your large shopping day (the one with your girlfriends, sisters, or mom) done and out of the way, online shopping done, so you should be more than halfway through your list. Buckle down this week and get the list completed, I don't care if you have to knock down the Santa at the mall to do it, just do it! Need last minute ideas? Netflix gift certificate, board games, Anthropologie initial mugs, recipe cards (Michael's dollar bins!), stationary, fun patterned tights, lotto tickets....
  2. Number 1 is it. That's how serious this week is.
Week of December 5 (20 days till Christmas)
  1. Wrap gifts. Make a list of those who you will need to give a gift to outside of Christmas Eve/Day festivities so you don't forget to make sure they receive it. Mail any gifts that need to be mailed with "don't open till Christmas" tags.
  2. Mail holiday cards. If you still need a photo for your photo card, get your family in front of the tree or under the mistletoe with a tripod and smile big. Get those cards out the door!
  3. Checkpoint: So, by the end of this week, you already have your shopping done, gifts wrapped, house decorated, Christmas cards sent, menu plans set. You are doing GREAT!
Week of December 12 (14 days till Christmas)
  1. Relax. Are you enjoying the holiday season? Enjoying your decorated house? Kissing your hubbie under the mistletoe? Say no more.
  2. Make a grocery list of food items you'll need for next week and get your grocery shopping complete. Bake the sweet stuff and anything else you can prepare in advance and make sure your recipe cards are ready to go!
Week of December 19-24
  1. It's go time! You're hosting your parties (that you're well planned for), give the house a quick clean, put on some (more) holiday music, and enjoy the time you worked hard for.
December 25 - Merry Christmas!
Our first Christmas in our first apartment :)

I realize that reading this list may not make it seem like it's de-stressing the process that has become Christmas, but believe me, it does. Ok, at least for me and my list-making, super-organizational ways. I feel like if I wait till the very last minute to do all these things, I miss out on the whole point of Christmas- celebrating Christ's birth with family and friends. I also like having plenty of time to try and pick out that one perfect gift for someone, actually try to have the really delicious tasting (and looking) cookies, and have fun writing up a holiday newsletter to keep far off family and friends in the loop. Ok, I'll be honest. I start my newsletter in January. You may all scowl at me now.

So- did I miss anything? Are you exceptionally organized like me or do you do last minute like nobody's business? Do tell....P.S. Pre-Christmas reading (you can stick this in somewhere around the 20 days till Christmas mark) - Unafraid by Francine Rivers. Luke 2:19 says "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." I can't imagine even the tip of the iceberg on all the things Mary pondered in her heart as she found out she was pregnant with Jesus, but this book helps you do just that. While you're at it, read the other 4 books of the series too! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


♥ seems like were getting into a little holiday spirit around here @ i thought i'd take a shot at maybe (maaaaybe) getting organized a little early instead of running around like a crazy chick at the last minute (i work best under pressure) and i know November's not even here yet, but let's face it,
around the corner she's a comin'... i'm running right into Thanksgiving...
i was informed as of late that i'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner again, which is exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time since it really is the "huge-est" dinner you'll ever eat all year and it will be compared to Thanksgiving dinner in years past..."remember last year how yummy the casserole was?"...or "remember when you opened the cabinet door and a glass fell out and landed right in the middle of your lemon meringue pie?!" (this really happened to my mom) again, i stress...pressure... well...this year i do have a couple new ideas up my sleeve as far as menu & table settings go, but here are some flashbacks from last year that make me look back and'm so blessed...i'm so thankful, and that's what i want the holidays to really be about, really be remembered for...

last year's menu:
roast turkey with truffle butter
sweet potato & pear gratin
make ahead party mashed potatoes
♥ grandma F's mac n' cheese ♥
♥ 2 aunt's who bickered about the stuffing recipe - stuffing ♥
stuffed artichokes
♥ from scratch crescent rolls ♥
♥ green salad, corn, cranberry sauce & gravy ♥

7 things i'm th
ankful for...
1. wegs pumpkin cookies w/cream cheese icing

2. all the ideas inside my bra
in that scream "etsy shop"
3. k-love
4. the new tinkerbell movie (love cute)
(and there's no bad guy)

5. seven sisters i can laugh with
6. my family at dinner time
7. my sweet Savior

anybody thankful?...le
nd an ear let's hear...
(as in post a comment about what you're thankful for)

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Laundry Tale

This was a busy week so I will share a simple story. It is a little bit comedy and a little bit tragedy. It is a story about fabric softener...

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine at work smelled AMAZING and I asked her what perfume she was wearing. She said she wasn't wearing any and as we sniffed her (we've known each other a long time!) we realized it was her shirt! She had just washed it and it smelled so good! She said she used Snuggle fabric softener, the original liquid, in the washer. I was hooked. Who knew Snuggle was so wonderful? Do any of the sisters use it? I was a Downy user for years, and I don't even know why, except maybe there are more coupons for Downy out there and I always feel better if I use a coupon. So, I added Snuggle to my shopping list, anxious to switch and have amazing smelling clothes too!

So, naturally, the grocery store that I frequent (which will remain nameless) does not stock the original Snuggle liquid fabric softener. J, does this surprise you?? Of course not, but that is a story for another blog. So, I kinda forgot about the Snuggle until I was Sam's Club and spotted it there. Well, let me tell you, this jug of Snuggle is the granddaddy of all containers, huge and heavy with a spout on each side! The label said it would soften 187 loads! Jackpot. I got it home and gleefully did a lot of laundry. My sheets smell so good this week!

Then came the fateful day, Lulu and I were starting a project for school and the washer was going and we heard a rather loud boom. We went to the laundry room to investigate and apparently the motion of the washer had knocked my glorious jug of Snuggle off and onto the floor. Let me tell you that I honestly have never seen a bigger mess in my life. The cap had shattered, there was fabric softener splashed up the wall, all over the door and the jug was on the rug where all but about 5 of the 187 loads of liquid had glugged out on to the floor!!! I was kinda speechless. Lulu looked at me and said, "Mom, I feel really bad for you!" I felt bad for me too!

As with any big mess, with a lot of mopping and wiping and rinsing eventually it is gone, along with the rug. I just rolled it up (it was saturated), put it in a garbage bag and into the garbage tote it went. So now I guess I'm not quite as excited about my new fabric softener since it was ALL I could smell in the entire house for a couple days! But as a bonus now my garbage tote smells pretty good too! Ah, such is life!
Nel's smile for the week: S's high fashion was great!
Nel's frown for the week: I am pretty sure I ate too much this week to fit into the high fashion dress that S picked for me!
Where, oh, where is our Lulu??
Lulu's smile for the week: She auditioned to be part of a small vocal ensemble at school and got it!
Lulu's frown for the week: someone took her granola bar! It was her after school, before swim practice snack and someone took it when she set it down by her water bottle! Hungry thieves!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Did I mention I love Acorn Squash?

So, I may have mentioned before that I love acorn squash (Yum!) This time, it's Acorn Squash Soup. It was so delicious, I made it twice! (P.S. - This is what I'm bringing to your house on Friday S). I have never made soup before (besides what you open up from a can) and I always thought it was really hard so I let that discourage myself from even trying. Last Sunday, my husband left to go tend his Father's store and left me in charge of dinner. What was I to do! (I know, kinda sad). He had the recipe all picked out and just told me to follow the directions. So I did! The soup turned out so delicious, I made it again.

Here is the recipie in case you were interested:

2 Large Acorn Squash
1 Large Onion
1 Cup Rice
1 Celery Stalk (chopped)

4 Cups Water
2 Cups Milk
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Pinch Sugar
Salt / Pepper to Taste
Chopped Parsley
1 Parsnip (the recipe didn't call for this, I added it and it gave the soup an additional nutty flavor that was so yummy)

The directions say to peel the squash and cut it into cubes, but lets be honest, have you ever tried to peel a squash? They are so tough on the outside. I softened them up a bit by boiling them in water for a bit and then cutting them up.

Place squash in soup pot and add the chopped onion, rice, celery, parsnips and water. Cook soup, covered, over medium heat until vegetables are tender.

Blend soup in a blender. Reheat soup and add milk, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving. Serve Hot.


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