Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Valentine's Day Ideas

I know it's still a little early for Valentine's Day, but to be honest, I put my Valentine's decorations up right after I took the Christmas stuff down. The house looked so bare and sad that I felt like it needed a little something to cheer it up! Here's some of what I used:

I like to use our entertainment center as a "mantle" and put up a nice little display. Sometimes this can be a little frustrating for Nathanael because then he has to navigate around all of the decorations to get to any of the electronics equipment... whoops! He's sweet about it, though, and lets me keep putting stuff up.

The felt topiary balls are ones I made for the Valentine's banquet at our church in Arizona last year (I used this tutorial). They're time consuming to make, but I think the result is beautiful!

 I had to include our wooden turtle in the middle of all the Valentine's decorations. Doesn't he look happy? ;) The "painting" is a song from Lord of the Rings that I painted onto a canvas (also for the Valentine's banquet last year). Nathanael is a LOTR fan, so I used that song as a little tribute to him since he was in Afghanistan last year and couldn't go to the banquet with me.

Another one of the felt topiaries. The pots that the topiaries are sitting in are just plastic planters from the dollar store that I spray painted with metallic paint. They turned out really nice, in my opinion! This cake stand/ punch bowl has come in really handy. I've used it in pretty much every centerpiece I've had on our table since we moved here.

I made this light garland last year when Nathanael was deployed. Last year, I had little hearts with the number of days until he came home hanging on it. This year, I'm so glad that I don't have to do that! I can just hang the lights as a garland! I made these cutting out strips of fabric like these:

Then I tied them onto a light strand one at a time. I tried to have a pattern of different fabrics, but that's not really necessary (for someone who doesn't have OCD, anyway) as long as you don't clump up one color too much. Here's a close-up of how it looks:

I have to be honest, this project took a looooonnng time (several hours), but it was well worth it! I haven't thought ahead to what will happen when the lights go out... Maybe I'll just use it as a garland then, instead of untying all those scraps. 

I also have little hearts made out of scrap booking paper taped on walls over the house (cutting them out was one of the times I definitely wished I had a Cricut!). I think they add just a little bit of whimsy and fun to the decorations I keep up year round.

I have lots more projects I want to try, but I'm not sure I'll actually get them all done. You can check out my Pinterest boards to see lots of ideas of cool Valentine's projects!

I hope everyone is having a great January! Remember to keep working on the goals you set for yourself for the new year- don't give up! ;)


P.S. I'm participating in a link-up party on Keeping up with the Cantelmo's, so make sure you head over there to check out all of the great Valentine's Day ideas!

Keeping up with the Cantelmos

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One of My New Year's Resolutions

One of my resolutions for the new year was that I'm going to try two new recipes per month. Sometimes it seems like I get in a little bit of a rut, just fixing the same things over and over, and I want to try new things and learn new techniques and "tricks." I've already got my two new recipes in this month! One is kind of a "cheater" recipe because most of it was already pre-made and I just put it together. Not every recipe will be like that, I promise! I do want to try more difficult and complicated dishes. But, this one was pretty tasty, I have to admit!

The first recipe I want to share that was new for me is the "Cheesestick Light Sabers" I made for my husband's birthday (read all about that here). They were super easy- I just took frozen mozzarella sticks, wrapped them in bacon (I just did the ends so they would look like light sabers, but you can do the whole stick), and baked them according to the package instructions on the cheesesticks. Next time, I think I'll fry the bacon just a little first because the cheesesticks were done baking before the bacon was really crispy. Still, they were delicious!

The other new recipe I tried was for "Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups." I found this recipe on Pinterest (what? you haven't joined yet? You must!!!!). The recipe is a Martha Stewart recipe (find it here) and was very easy! Cutting the bread in little circles was a little time consuming (maybe because I used a glass instead of an actual "cutter"), but they turned out so good! I dropped a little bit of maple syrup in the cups before I put the bacon in, and it really added a little extra sweetness that was really yummy. I wish I had taken pictures of them, but they really do turn out pretty much like the ones in the Martha picture. I made these for dinner, but they would obviously be great for a breakfast or brunch, as well!

photo credit

There are lots more new recipes I want to try on Pinterest, so I'll definitely keep everybody posted on my cooking adventures!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Star Wars Birthday Dinner

Yesterday (January 10th) was my husband's birthday!! Happy birthday to him!! :) I wanted to do something really special for him without spending too too much money, but I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. Nathanael is really easy to please, and he has a couple of different things he's interested in, so I wasn't really sure what I should do to make sure he had an out of this world birthday (har har). While I was trying to decide what to do, my mom- in- law sent me a Facebook message telling me that they were going to get Nathanael the Star Wars blu- rays. Hooray!!! That decided it for me- it had to be Star Wars! We're both big fans, and I knew there would be lots and lots of stuff on the internet to help me plan.

My first project was some Star Wars glasses I decided I wanted to try to make (I found this idea on Pinterest). I just picked some designs, used some cutout vinyl and some etching cream, and voila! Here's how they turned out:
Not too shabby if I do say so myself! Of course, if you look too closely, you'll see lots of little mistakes. I don't have a Cricut or a Silhouette, so I ended up cutting the designs out with an Exacto knife. A little tedious, but I like how they turned out. And Nathanael thought they were pretty cool!

When it came to decorating, I didn't want to spend a huge amount of money (or really any if I could get away with it). We already had a ton of Star Wars stuff, so I just decorated with the posters, movies, books, and figurines we already had. I just decorated the dining room because this was just a dinner, not really a full- fledged party.
The table and "buffet" (really the stand for our turtle tank)
set up with Star Wars memorabilia
The dining table- framed pictures from a calendar, movies, and cutouts
I found on sale at Hobby Lobby

The "buffet"- more pictures from a calendar,
along with books, videos, and a Naboo Starfighter 

The whole dining room complete with hanging stars
(stars I saved from my dad's birthday party several years ago)

When I asked Nathanael what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he said "wings", so I wanted to work the menu around that. Here's what I came up with:
Yoda soda- Sundrop with lime sherbet scoops

Cheesestick light sabers- breaded mozzarella sticks
with bacon wrapped around the ends

X-Wings- Buffalo chicken wings... that's all they are, but with
a clever name ;)

Chewie cheesecake bites- store bought cheesecake bites with candles.
I know it's not "real" cake, but Nathanael wanted cheesecake!
Sorry about the blurriness!
There wasn't a lot of food, but that was on purpose. Nathanael and I are both trying to eat healthier, so I didn't want to have a ton of left-overs of food we are trying to stay away from. We did end up having left-overs, but just a few of each thing.

Of course, I had to wear the Leia buns! I used this video tutorial on sock buns to do my hair. I think I ended up looking more like a jolly German fraulein than Princess Leia, but that's ok!

For games, I just did a treasure hunt with the clues leading to the hidden presents. I tried to do each clue with a different character's way of speaking. I ended up using Yoda, Jar Jar, C-3PO, Jabba, and the opening credits (In a living room far, far away....). We also ended up doing an impromptu game of "Chase Mona Around the House Playing the Harmonica"... which was a lot of fun... ;)

It ended up being a lot of fun & I really enjoyed putting it together. It's important to me that Nathanael know how special he is to me and that he sees that I'm willing to put some time and effort into making things nice for him.

If you want to check out some of the places I got ideas, check out my Pinterest board!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy 2012!

I hope everyone had a GREAT New Year's holiday! Now, time to make it a great year! I know that there are lots of people who are going through some difficult times, or who already know there are rough times ahead in 2012, but whether or not we have a great year is really up to each of us, right?

Did anybody else make "resolutions" for the new year? I try to think of mine more as goals... that way I have a plan and also a finish line (that's the oldest child overachiever in me). Nathanael and I both set goals in several areas of our lives. And, since it's easy to forget things that aren't right in front of you, we have them posted on the wall above our computer:

In case you couldn't tell, the scribbly green post-its are mine, and the carefully outlined and typed out lists are Nathanael's. And yes, that does say something about our respective personalities! ;) Some of my goals for 2012 are:
- Post on this blog at least once a week.
-Plan more challenges at the daily style blog I co-write with my friend Marriah.
- Work out at least 3 times per week.
- Try 2 new recipes per month.
- Learn 1 arranged piece of piano music per month.
-Go 1 week without makeup.
I have a few more, and I'll probably add to the list as the year goes on. Most of my goals are designed to push me to learn new things, get out of ruts I'm in, discipline myself, etc. Just because I'm 30-ish now doesn't mean I should stop learning and trying new things, ya know? So 2012 is going to be the year of pushing myself! Or at least that's the plan! ;) I'll try to keep you updated on how it's going... and maybe even post the results of some of my goals.

Just for fun, I thought I should include this video of Nathanael and Finley on New Year's Eve. Part of it is sideways because I wasn't thinking about the fact that you can't rotate a video like you can a photo (duh!). As you can see, they really love each other ;)!