Sunday, February 27, 2011

Renovations & Predictions

I’ve been cleaning up a bit today – right here on the old blog-o-roo. If you take a look right under my page header, (which I hope to update soon) you’ll see some tab headings. I’ve been a busy girl… it’s almost like making 4 or 5 new posts all in one day! Can you stand it? Check it out when you get a chance… it might explain some things you’ve wondered about. Or not.

The Oscar’s are on here in America in about half an hour. (Did you see how I said, “here in America” like I have a bunch of international readers… hee hee…) I’m watching the pre-game show marveling at the gowns and wondering how many of those women are wearing some sort of duct-tape.

I’ve actually seen 5 of the 10 nominees for Best Picture and enjoyed most of them. Likethe_kings_speech2 everyone else, I’m predicting The King’s Speech to clean up. It was a great movie – I actually saw it twice this week – crazy.

When we left the theater after my first viewing I told my husband that I really liked the movie and felt like I had been born in the wrong country – I should have been born a royal… He assured me that I had in fact been born a royal… a royal pain in the…. well… you know.

Though I thought the movie was really well done, it’s not a movie for teens – unless you edit out the two scene where the language is pervasive. I think I’ll take a shot at that for my oldest when it comes out of DVD.

You probably didn’t know that I actually have an Oscar. We’re snuggled up together watching the show tonight…Sept 2010 004

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Hair & Nuptial Hype

Not by any advanced planning my estrogen buddy (AKA my only daughter) and I went for a girls day out. 

After spending the better part of the morning at piano lessons we quickly dumped our boys, or rather, took them for a day doing yard work at Gramma’s. We then headed south on a whirlwind trip to the Big City to make a few store returns which didn’t pan out exactly as I’d planned… We ended up purchasing more than we returned…Then we rushed back home for new haircuts for both of us.

We had a great time and both look cuter. That is what matters, right? Right??

We talked about “girl stuff” all day, mostly the next party we are planning. Or, I should say, “parties” we are planning. We’re over the moon excited about them – and terribly depressed at the same time.

prince-william-kate-middleton-engagement-picturesYou see, I’ll use any excuse to plan a party – there needn't be a holiday or birthday involved, though they’re frequently helpful. I’ve even been known to plan parties around my favorite movies. There are really only two things that keep me from throwing a party every month. Space and money. I don’t have much of either. Herein lies the depression. I want to invite ALL my friends to ALL my parties, but alas, there’s neither space or money for either.

My dining room will comfortably seat 8, but I’ve managed to squeeze in 16 when necessary. However, my living room will only seat 6 comfortably for screen viewing, so I’m only inviting 20 guests. 

What? You’re having trouble with that math?
Allow me to ‘splain it to you.

In the past I’ve tried to rotate the guest list somewhat, especially once the word gets out and I learn that someone else would like to come to a particular event (like the Steel Magnolia’s parties). One idea I’ve toyed with recently is having a lottery of sorts for sending out invitations. That’s sort of how I arrived at the guest lists for my next party. I put all the names in a fabulous hat and drew out those I would send an invite to.

Because that was still too many people, I’ve actually broken this into Will & KateTWO parties – a Royal Wedding  Brunch and Royal Wedding High Tea Reception . One  will be a Royal Wedding Day Brunch with my mom, sister, mother-in-law and a few (very few) of my daughter’s young friends. The second party will be an “after party” (seeing as how it’s after the actual event) with a replay of the Royal Wedding via DVR and a Wedding Reception High Tea, including wedding cake, “champagne” and gifts.ROYAL-WEDDING-INVITATION

This is yet another challenge – to pull this off spending as little money as possible – seeing as how there is little to no money to spend. I don’t have the 40 million that’s rumored to be spent on Will and Kate’s nuptials, but I know this can be done, having pulled off a couple of actual weddings with tiny budgets. (See them here and here.)

Here’s a preview of Royal Wedding Party Prep 007what we have planned…Union Jack

Plus I’m writing a quiz on the Royals and the upcoming nuptials…Stay tuned – I just may post a preview here…

Now please, no camping out by your mailbox waiting for your invitation… I can’t bear to think of you out there in the weather… My heart is already breaking since Sweet Williams - Get it?I can’t have everyone that I want in attendance. 

Take courage – Prince Harry is looking more and more like he might settle down and behave soon and there might be another Royal Wedding party on the horizon…

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love Bites – Part 2, The Recipes

Hopefully, you’re fully recovered from your Valentine celebrations. Personally, I’m still stuffed!
As promised, here are the recipes for Strawberry Soup (a la’ Carnival Cruise Lines), Mock Tropical Chicken Salad (a la’ my mom) and 9-Vegetable Lentil Soup (a la’ me).

Strawberry Soup

    • 2 C Frozen Strawberries
    • 2 C Milk
    • 1 C Heavy Cream
    • 2 T Fresh Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
    • Powdered sugar to tasteTablescape fit for a Queen 117
Whiz it all in a blender until smooth. If you hold it for any time be sure to give it a stir before serving. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and a sprig of mint leaves.
This next recipe is a vegetarian sandwich filler. I like to use it for special occasions and find it serves best on a croissant or bread that won’t compete with the flavors in the spread. Whenever I serve it it gets rave reviews – even from the non-vegetarians. My own mom is the mastermind behind this one – Yumm!

Mock Tropical Chicken Salad

    • 1 Can Fri Chik (vegetable protein meat substitute)
    • 1 heaping T Mayo
    • 1 t Sweet Pickle juice
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
    • 1 1/2 T Golden Raisins
    • 2 t Onion grated (you want to taste it, but not see it)
    • 1/2 C Pecans, roasted & broken up
    • 1/4 C Dried Mango, chopped (the mayo plumps them up)
    • a dozen or so Red Grapes cut in half
Tablescape fit for a Queen 127Squeeze the Fri Chik to remove excess liquid and tear it up with your fingers. Mix in all the ingredients and chill.
Last one today is one of my favorite, healthiest, and most complimented, soups. I call it 9-Vegetable Lentil Soup. Rachael Ray would probably call it a “stoup” because it’s thicker than a typical soup and more like a stew. You could even change it up a bit and add MORE veggies if you wanted.

9-Vegetable Lentil Soup

In a medium saucepan over medium heat:
  • 2 C dry Lentils (You can use more if you'd like - they break down and thicken the soup a lot - remember to "up" your water two to one if you increase the lentils.)
  • 4 C water
Simmer for 25 minutes.
In a large stock-pot, sauté:
  • 1 Stick 50/50 Butter
  • 4 or 5 Cloves Garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 med-large Onion chopped
  • 4 stalks Celery - clean and chopped (1/2 inch slices)
  • 2 Boxes of Swanson Organic Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Can Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano (no salt added)
  • 1 12-ounce can V-8 Juice
  • 1 Can Cream Style Corn
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1 Cup Frozen Green Beans
  • 4 large Carrots, peeled and chopped (1 inch pieces)
  • 4 Potatoes, peeled and chopped (1 1/2 inch cubes)
  • 1 Heaping T “Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, Vegetarian” (OR 3 rounded T McKay’s Chicken Style Seasoning.)
  • 2 t Kosher Salt
  • 24 “grinds” Black Pepper
  • ¼ t Celery Seed
  • ¼ t White Pepper
  • 1 pinch Sage
  • ½ t Spike Seasoning, “Original Magic” flavor
Spoon the cooked lentils into your stock-pot draining off most of the water.
Let the soup cook until the vegetables are tender – about 45 minutes.
This trumps a canned soup every time! I’ve even eaten this soup for breakfast – it’s hearty and sticks with you and is really good for you to boot.
You can also throw all of this in a six quart crock-pot in the morning and have it ready for dinner. (you may need to cut back the liquid a little – it will be very full…) Just nuke the butter, onion and celery in the microwave for a few minutes before adding to the pot.
This vegetable soup is a favorite at our house to welcome Sabbath on Friday night, served up with a crusty bread and an easy dessert (think brownies from a mix with a scoop of no-sugar added ice cream) and you’ve got an easy meal with easy clean-up. And nobody will notice that you didn’t serve any meat.
Have a beautifully blessed day!
I’m linking up to

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Bites

I really do “love” Valentine’s Day.

My babies’ daddy and I are celebrating our 23rd Valentine’s Day together. In all these years we’ve only been apart one time on V-day when he was out of town for business. Needless to say, things are getting a little routine in the gift department. He has taken to getting me the same thing every year and I don’t mind at all. (chocolate is really a girls’ best friend) But it’s a little tougher this year. This is the first V-day in our history that he’s been out of work, and I won’t lie, things are getting pretty tight around here. So tight that a bag of Hershey’s Kisses may have to suffice in place of the good Swiss chocolate. But my feelings won’t be slighted in the least if I don’t receive “hoodie/footie” pajamas or a stuffed teddy bear from Vermont…

Tablescape fit for a Queen 096One tradition we’ve had in our family is to have a “Love Dinner” together with our kids and our parents. A time to enjoy a special meal and show our love to each other.This year we had our dinner the night before Valentine’s Day.

This was the most challenging year I’ve had setting the table. Usually I grab a couple of bouquets from Costco and make a huge centerpiece then pick up some cute gifts for everyone’s plate and the rest is just fluff. The trick this time was to build a table scape without spending money on flowers or gifts. I decided to let the food be the centerpiece. More specifically, the dessert(s). Yes, we had five different desserts. Only because I ran out of time to make the sixth.

I started with a lovely Irish linen table cloth that’s been in our family forTablescape fit for a Queen 105 generations and usually only gets used for weddings and other special occasions. Then I picked this lovely 3-tier silver server my good friend Susan gave me years ago to showcase our very easy and inexpensive bite-sized sweets. It has a gorgeous ornate dome for the top layer, but we opted to see the tasty treats instead. On the top you probably recognize the familiar texture of Rice Crispy Treats – this time, cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. This batch was made with Strawberry Jet Puff marshmallows and Wilton heart sprinkles. (When you are planning to melt them down, just buy the less expensive plain pink mallows, not the heart-shaped ones…)

Tablescape fit for a Queen 111The other familiar item up on top is Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. I dressed these up with piped on pink hearts made with pink candy melts using a round cake decorating tip.

In the middle are mini red velvet cupcakes (from a mix) with homemade cream cheese frosting and more heart sprinkles surrounded by “white chocolate” dipped strawberries. The dipped berries were probably the most expensive dessert here. But I split the cost of berries with another penny pinching friend and dipped them in white “candy coating” (in the baking aisle) instead of expensive chocolate. (plus, the store was out of dipping chocolate and I didn’t have the patience to temper any…) The stripes are more of those pink candy melts (also by Wilton) using that same cake decorating tip.

On the bottom is the tried and true fudge brownie. Add a cup of chocolate chips to your batter and they’re extra good with little extra effort! These are super thick, made with the “cake like” recipe (as opposed to fudgy) in a 9x9 inch pan and cut into heart shapes with a brownie cutter. A brownie cutter is taller than a cookie cutter for cutting those extra thick brownies. The topping is just powdered sugar shaken over a paper doily.

We started the “Lovely” meal with Strawberry Soup* (a recipe my sis-in-law finagled away from the Carnival Cruise lines years ago…)garnished with a mint leaf and strawberry halves trimmed to look likeTablescape fit for a Queen 117 hearts, then moved on to 9 Vegetable Lentil Soup*, Mock Tropical-Chicken Salad* sandwiches on mini croissants and salad greens.

See the little carrot hearts? Those are so easy to make… Peel your carrot and chop it into lengths of about 4 inches. Make the point of the heart by standing the Tablescape fit for a Queen 127carrot on end and carefully cutting away two slices to square off one side. Next use the pointy end of a bottle opener (you know, the end you used to open cans of Hawaiian Punch in 1974…you might want to wash it first…) and drag it down the carrot opposite the point you made. Keep dragging it until your v-shaped groove is deep enough to make that familiar heart shape. Then just slice your hearts. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

The table is set with a mix of old and new china and silver. I much prefer mixing it up rather than having everything all matchey-matchey. The dinner plates are Corning French White and the bowls I used for the soupTablescape fit for a Queen 099 are Ikea. The fruit bowls, cups, saucers, dessert plates and utensils are the spoils from 15 years of antiquing to beef up my tea accoutrement collection. That white teapot is one of 3 “plain” white teapots I purchased at Home Goods a couple of years ago. They seem to have then in stock all the time and they have all sorts of uses. Today their job is to hold hot chocolate.

The linens are all antique, the cake plate (piled with sandwiches) was a treasure from my great grandmother’s collection. The tiara napkins rings can be purchased at Hobby Lobby in the bridal department (watch for a sale!) and the mercury glass votive cups are available at Laurie Anna’s Vintage Home online (or her shop in Canton.)Tablescape fit for a Queen 122

*Tomorrow I’ll give you recipes for the Strawberry Soup, 9 Vegetable Lentil Soup and the Mock Tropical Chicken Salad. If you just can’t stand it and need them right now send me an e-mail and I’ll hook you up .

I hope, irrespective of your current relationship status, that you have a LOVELY day. Never forget that Jesus is the lover of your soul and that He loved you so much that He gave His life for you (John 3:16) and is, right now, preparing a place for you to live with Him (John 14:1-3)forever! I can’t WAIT to sit down at His table!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Merry Valentine’s Day

I don’t believe I’ve talked about it much here, but for the first time in our lives, my babies’ daddy is looking for a job. I mean REALLY looking for a job. The other jobs he’s had in his life have been put in his lap – people have said, “I want you to work for me” and that was that – no scanning the want-ads or sweating through interviews. He just accepted the position and we lived happily ever after. Until now…Or, just before Christmas when things started to unfold.

Vday wood cutout from HomeGoods (last year).So we’re struggling, but we’re not worried. We have a very strong Faith and have no doubts about Who clothes the lilies of the field and we know that He cares for us more.

As much as I’d like to go in and spend all my “extra” money, I’m staying out of Home Goods at this time in my life. (Home Goods is my Achilles heel when it comes to home decorating or table scape shopping…)

As a result of the whole “we don’t have any money” thing,  Valentine’s Day at our house this year is beginning to look a lot like Christmas…only without the presents. Valentine Decorating 289

The pitcher and creamer collection in my kitchen got dressed up with bows. I just  grabbed snippets of scrapbooking ribbon and bits left after Christmas.  (I keep the ribbon inside the rest of the year).

Valentine Decorating 291


This little creamer in the front came from my Gramma’s this past summer.The white Fiesta pitcher was a Canton find last spring.


The mantle is dressed with battery operated candles (on sale at Costco this last Christmas  season – they have a “timer” setting and come on at the same time for 5 hours every day all by themselves! Love it…) and leftover Christmas ribbon (also from Costco – I buy rolls of 50 yards for less than $7 every year). The berry vine was an inexpensive Canton purchase a couple of years ago. And if you look close…P1290349

You can see a "velvet flocked” Christmas ornament nestled in there. I tied another scrap of ribbon on top to hide the hangar a little bit – at least keep it from shinning. The black pastry stands were also a Canton find last spring. They came with glass domes – you know, so you can put pretty cupcakes in them? Super cute and easy. P1290338But then I found they were “not intended for food”. Really? Don’t call something a “pastry stand” if it’s not intended for food…

The “old” vase is just filled with the puffy glass heart ornaments from my Christmas tree. The “Jesus” (John 3:16) ornament was an after Christmas, 75% off find at the Christian bookstore. The fun part will be packing these away with the Christmas stuff next week. But I thought ahead and left “that tote” on the top of the pile in the shed.P1290354

There are more Christmas ornaments here… This time the little empty ones you find in the diy bin at a big box craft store. Each is filled with some small bit of something I had in my ever-growing stash, like pearls, heart confetti, paper roses, tinsel and a scrap of ribbon. I used more leftover Christmas ribbon to hang them over the dinning room table. (It pays to save those ribbon scraps…)


I keep these big 3-wick candles handy (I have 2). I picked them up at Home Goods a couple of years ago for a fall wedding I was doing on the cheap. Tie a bow around it, scatter some puffy glittered hearts around the bottom (we’re talking dollar spot prices here) and it’s good to go. P1290340

This zinc piece is one of my all time favorite Canton finds. I just really love it and it wasn’t expensive at all. I can change out what sits in the middle to fit the season. Right now it’s holding a mercury glass bird that I got at Target a couple of years ago. It was supposed to be a Christmas decoration but I punted. Scattered in the moss (a Pottery Barn find) are more Christmas ornaments. The color on these was faded and just a little too “orangey” to go on my tree, so I never used them. When I was packing up Christmas I found them in the bottom of the tote and now they’ll be moving to the V-day tote instead.

I hope you have a very Merry Valentine’s Day – Thanks for visiting our home and browsing my re-run decor. Next time, stay awhile and sip some of my (cheap homemade) cocoa by the fire.P2010362

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Poppin’ Red Hot Valentines

Edited (again) to Add: The winner of the "extended" giveaway drawing is "Libazeth" - comment #6. Hey, Liz! How about if I hand deliver to you too? See ya' at church ;0)

Thanks for playing everybody! Remember, you need not be a personal friend or fellow church member to win my giveaways... You just need to comment (and be picked by when the time comes...)
♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

NOTE: This Giveaway is being extended to award a SECOND WINNER! Hurry! The new deadline is Tuesday, February 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Our FIRST WINNER is "Beach". And her prize will be hand delivered today! Read below and leave me your comments to enter - note there are several entries possible! Happy Valentine's Day!

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Yes, I suppose there is more to life than chocolate, but as one of my T-shirts says, “not much”.

I was so excited to finally find and try a recipe for one of my favorite indulgences. Cinnamon popcorn.

There’s a place in Kansas City that makes the best, but that’s a long drive from Texas.
20th Anniversary in KC 077

I’ve literally built babies with this stuff… It was a number one craving and I ate gallons of it when I was expecting.

I found a pretty good  recipe for cinnamon  popcorn  – I picked it because it not only has the Red Hots, which I thought made it sound easy, but also cinnamon oil. Please don’t ask me where I bought the cinnamon oil. I can’t remember right now, but it may have been in a William Sonoma store. My mom buys hers from the pharmacy - it's strong stuff...

This was a very easy recipe – and though it doesn’t come close to Topsy’s in KC it’s a  good substitute and I’ll make it again. Maybe even today…Red Hot Corn basket

I bought some plain  treat bags and each has probably about two cups of cinnamon corn. You could use a printed treat bag, but I think the popcorn is so pretty it should stand alone.

Cut up some grosgrain ribbon and Valentine scrapbook paper (made by K&Co.) and put quick tags on each bag. I buy my ribbon at a floral supply store – it’s less than $2 for 25 yards. You won’t find a price like that at your big box craft store…Red Hot Corn Closeup

Now, I promised you a giveaway for stopping by today.

After you finish your yummy cinnamon corn your hands will probably be sticky. I have something else that’s sweet that will remove all traces of the cinnamon goodness from your hands, leaving them softer and smoother than when you leave your favorite pro manicurist. You might even get carried away and sugar scrub your elbows and feet as well. I LOVE this stuff and buy it in the giant tub size, but it's a "seasonal item".

I’ll send a 3 ounce tub of Sun Valley, Mandarin Orange Cranberry Twist scented, Exfoliating Sugar Scrub (from to one blessed commenter. If you’re in the frozen north (or pretty much anywhere in the US today) it will remind you of spring with the mouth-watering scent, (but don’t eat it…stick to your popcorn.)

Enter my little comment contest before 11:59 pm Sunday, February 13. (We're extending this giveaway to get one more winner! The NEW deadline is 11:59 pm, Tuesday February 15!) I’ll use to pick a winner based on your comment numbers.

  • One entry for a comment left on this post – tell me about your favorite popcorn.

  • Another entry if you become a follower through Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs through Facebook. (Leave a separate comment and let me know. If you’re already a follower let me know that too.)

  • A third entry if you share this on Facebook or Twitter. (Again – leave me a comment and let me know you did for the additional entry.)Red Hot Corn basket closeup

  • I’ll notify the winner by email and then they have 48 hours to respond or we’ll pick another winner.

    Now here’s that recipe for Red Hot Cinnamon Popcorn – there’s still plenty of time to whip some up for your Valentine. You’ll get about 10 two-cup bags per batch.
    • 2 sticks butter
    • 1 (9 1/2 oz.) pkg. red hots (I weighed mine and it’s just about the same as a dry measure would be or just about 1 1/4 cups.)
    • 1/2 C white Karo syrup
    • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon oil (there were 2 batches in my tiny bottle)
    • 14 - 16 C popped popcorn (I use air popped)
    Mix butter, red hots and syrup together in heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 to 7 minutes until mixture is clear. Remove from heat and add cinnamon oil. (Keep your face away from the fumes as you stir the oil in... this here is POTENT stuff!) Stir thoroughly and pour over popcorn. Stir well to evenly coat all the corn and put in 225 degree oven for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

    Sara’s “hot” tips: Use metal measuring spoons for the cinnamon oil - it MELTED my plastic ones... Coat your pans, bowl and mixing spoon with cooking spray – it will make clean-up easier (for your teenager).
    I’m joining the link parties at
    The Girl Creative
    Linda's Lunacy  MakingMyAmericanDream

  • Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Countdown to V-Day Giveaway

    ETA: We have a WINNER(s)! picked comment #2 - The "sisters (and educators) that grew up in two different generations" over at Waddlee-ah-cha are going to have to share the truffles and each pick a card... It would be interesting to see which sister picks which card.

    (Sisters, Contact me with your addy and I'll mail out to you today!  Who knows... you could be licking chocolate off your fingers by tomorrow afternoon...)

    They have a sweet little blog with lots to offer, including free printable books and a weekly book give-away. You should definitely check them out - especially if you doodlee-doo want to know what Waddlee-ah-cha means...

    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

    It’s upon us once again – Only 6 days left before that holiday to beat all holidays, the one we live for an long for all year long. The holiday we wish would come around once a month (and truth be known, sometimes it does in one form or another…) The holiday we’re willing to sacrifice our own bodies to… Chocolate Day.

    What? You don’t call it that?
    Well you should.

    I’m celebrating my bloggy move this week with a few giveaways.

    Today I want to share one of my favorite chocolates with you.

    Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. Today I want to remind you to change your bookmarks for my blog – I don’t really want to share my chocolate… But deep down I’m a sweetie and feel that everyone should be as addicted to truffles as I am.

    V-Day Truffles and CardsI’ll send this luscious bag of Lindor Milk Chocolate / White Chocolate Truffles all packaged in pink for Valentine’s Chocolate  Day and two handmade cards to one blessed winner. The cards are from last year’s collection. If you’d like to see them in more detail or have the directions to make your own just click here.

    You have until 11:59 pm Thursday, February 10 to enter. You should receive your winnings on Valentine’s day.
    • One entry for a comment left on this post with the name of your favorite chocolate indulgence.
    • Another entry if you become a follower through Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs through Facebook. (Leave a comment and let me know. If you’re already a follower let me know that too.)
    • A third entry if you share this on Facebook or Twitter. (Again – leave me a comment and let me know you did.)

    I’m off to make some sweet treats now. Tonight is our monthly Homeschool Mom’s meeting and, I tell you what, it’s become my favorite night of the month. I never had so many CLOSE girlfriends until I started homeschooling.

    Isn’t that crazy? You’d think that I’d be able to establish closer friendships after I dropped my kids off at school and met some other mom for lunch and shopping or pedicures three times a week. But it just ain’t so. There’s a whole lot more bonding going on when you spend every second Tuesday night of the month with other women that are in the same privileged trench that you find yourself in. (And the after-meeting trips to IHOP until 1:00 in the morning cement that bond even more…)

    Who better to love on than the women that know what you’re going through and will pray you right through it?

    There’s still a little time to enter my giveaway from Sunday. Click here for the S’more giveaway. Come back Thursday and I’ll show you what I made today for my favorite moms (you can make it for the one’s you love) and I’ll  have yet another giveaway…
    Today I'm joining the 
    Visit to meet bunches of other HS'ing moms! 
    (and probably none of them in denim jumpers and birkenstocks...)

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Moving Party–S’More to Come

    Congratulations to Kristie! picked comment #3
    True Random Number Generator Min:1 Max: 11 Result: 3

    Kristie - e-mail me to be sure I have your mailing address and I send these s'mores out the door to you! (Just add fire.)


    Hey! You found me!
    What? You didn't know I was missing?
    Well... not exactly missing, but I'm "moving"... Not much is changing, just the web address for my blog. So, not really "moving", just changing my address.

    You may have noticed a couple of changes lately… I’m trying to find my (bloggin’) feet again, doing a little renovation and sprucing up a bit. As part of that process I’ve decided to change the name of this little online journal of mine. “Scraps of Sara” fit for a time, but I’ve outgrown it among other things and I’m goin’ for a change that more accurately reflects what I do and how I do it.  ShabbyBlogsPPGiveaway

    If you know me in real life, and I believe both of you do, then you know I tend to keep late hours most of the time. Sometimes the hours are so late they’re early… So when I started the little hamster in my head on the wheel of a new blog name the phrase “burning the candle at both ends” kept coming around again. and again, and again… So that’s where the new name comes from. Hopefully that was painfully obvious. If not, call me at 3 a.m. and I’ll explain it.

    The tagline quote was a gift from my mom. She said she’d heard it a while ago and was going to give it to me. Apparently she knows me pretty well too.

    In celebration of the move from “scraps” to “candle” I’m having a little giveaway. You could probably also call it a bribe.

    Recently I’ve fallen into a relationship with S’mores. And there’s been no camping involved – just a lot of cold weather and fires in my fireplace.
    smore closeupI’ve always eaten S’mores, but never really saw what the big deal was and never went out of my way to eat them. That all changed a few weeks ago when I tweaked the way I prepared them – adding just one tiny step to the process - Melting the chocolate. It makes all.the.difference.
    Smore building 
    Something else I’ve discovered is that Hershey’s Kisses work very nicely at replacing Hershey Bars. The toasted mallow squishes down in between the soft kisses and it’s a perfect marriage. (Plus they’re more cost effective and I can have more since the calorie count is lower.)

    Smore Giveaway I’d like to send you a box full of everything you need to make a whole smattering of S’mores – except for the fire… You’ll have to provide that. You’ll receive a box of Grahams, a bag of Mallows and a bag of Kisses. (Basket and towel not included… sorry.)
    Here’s how to enter (you have until 11:59 pm Central Time, Tuesday, Feb. 8).
    • Go to the NEW blog site, The Other End of the Candle (If you can see this, you've already arrived...) For one entry, leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the new name. (If you want to win be nice…)
    • For a second entry become a follower through Google Friend Connect or Facebook Networked Blogs or both. Leave a comment and let me know you’re already following or new at it. Bonus entry if you give me a “star rating” on Networked Blogs.
    • For a third entry “share” on Facebook or Tweet this post and let me know in a comment. (I’m not on Twitter… so I can’t explain that part to you… You can click that familiar blue "f" down near the "comments" button at the end of this post. You could probably click that "t" too.)
    Remember, to win you must go to the NEW blog ( (Again, you're already here...) and make these comments. If you’ve bookmarked my blog (God bless you) don’t forget to update the address.

    I’ll draw for a winner using and announce on Wednesday!

    Thanks for stickin’ with me! There’s more good stuff coming soon!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    LEGO My Birthday (Part 3)

    We’ve arrived at the final installment wrapping up Jacob’s 11th birthday LEGO-palooza – the party games.
    Many times, this is the most daunting part of planning a kid’s birthday party. You want it to be fun for everyone, involve every Jacob's 11th Birthday 233child and not require anything in your house need repair afterward.

    I like to have a small prize for each  game. The obvious choice for the prizes at a LEGO party are LEGO sets. Fortunately, there are LEGO sets to fit every budget . One of the benefits of a birthday right after Christmas is that you can find a lot toys marked down – especially at places like Target and Wal-Mart that bring in extra for the holiday shoppers. There were several little stocking stuffer size LEGO sets on sale at Target and even Wal-Mart marked down the smallest Creator sets. (And keep walking those clearance aisles…now is aJacob's 11th Birthday 211 good time to start putting away toys for other gift needs that will come up the rest of the year and get them at big discounts. Even the LEGO website has a clearance section… more on that later.)

    Our first game was one that could be started as soon as each of the guests arrived. It’s just a twist on the classic “jelly bean count”. In this case, we borrowed a gallon size jar full of LEGO bricks from Jacob's 11th Birthday 223some friends – bricks that wouldn’t be used for anything else during the party. We did add one minifig to the jar that we thought had a realistic expression pertaining to his situation. He’s pictured below.
    Each guest wrote down his best guess on a slip of paper with his name. No email address or phone number required and nobody will contact you later to sell you a timeshare in Florida…

    At the end of the party I revealed our winner and he received a LEGO set that I picked up for less than $5 at Target.

    After the boys ate pizza and cupcakes and ice cream we handed out the goody bags that served a dual purpose.  Since the bags were each labeled with the guests’ name it was the perfect place for them to start putting the LEGOs they were accumulating, starting with the minifig on top of their cupcake.

    Jacob's 11th Birthday 224As in many cases, “three” is the magic number here – three games that require different skills so that everyone can find something that he or she is good at. And I’m just going to say it here… You’re the parent – if you have to, rig it so the same kid doesn’t win every game. Or better still, have at least one game where everyone is a winner. Our second game fits perfectly here. I think this is the one that went over the best. I wish I’d appointed someone to take photos for me so I could show you what we did. Instead, I’ll just tell you.

    This game is a kind of cross between “musical chairs” and “hot potato” except nobody is eliminated from the game and everybody wins. Oh, and there are no chairs. I went to the LEGO site again and shopped in the “pick a brick” section. It’s very important that you decide your budget before you ever go to the page… you could very easily lose control. I set my limit at $15 and picked interesting pieces like flags, minifig parts, chairs, drawers, plants… No plain ol’ bricks. I even picked up a few minifig key chains from the clearance section.

    Next get a cheap roll of aluminum foil and tear off a bunch of pieces that are about 12 inches long. Then choose a “grand” prize – I used a small LEGO item that was packaged in a plastic bag rather than a box. (Sometimes you find these at the Target checkout by the gum and magazines. I believe I got mine in the Christmas clearance section.) Wrap your prize in a sheet of foil and mold it into a ball. Then pick a cool LEGO from your Pick a Brick collection – put it on the outside of your ball and wrap with another piece of foil. Repeat this process until you have a sizable ball – I’d say at a minimum two layers per player and a few extras.

    Sit the kids in a circle on the floor (one without a plush flooring isJacob's 11th Birthday 234 best) with their goody bags by their sides. Find a snappy song to play and have them pass your big tin foil potato while the music plays. When the music stops, the kid with the “potato” removes a layer and gets to keep the LEGO pieces in his layer. (I watch carefully and make sure everyone gets stuck with the potato a few times.)

    LEGO Creationary Game 2The last game was actually a LEGO board game called Creationary. As with the minifig head I showed you in Part 2, this was a gift for the birthday boy. You don’t have to purchase the game, you could make up your own version. Get in touch with me if you’d like suggestions on how to make your own. It’s basically like playing Pictionary only with LEGOs. I kept score and we awarded Jacob's 11th Birthday 231points according to the difficulty of the creation and the player that guessed also got a point. After everyone got one turn we tallied the score and the one with the most points got another $5 LEGO prize.

    This party was a big hit – in fact, my 8 1/2 year old daughter has said she had so much fun she wants a LEGO party for her next birthday. the set up and clean up we’re very quick – in fact, the entire mess was cleaned up in less than 15 minutes. And truth be known, it really didn’t crush the budget. Not including gifts, the whole party came in just over $100 which isn’t bad at all for 8 guests and the amount of cool LEGOs they got to take home. 

    And so, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that LEGOs are part of the décor around here – we’ll walk the LEGO shuffle in the dark of night for at least the next 10 or so years.
    Thanks for stopping by - You can see Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
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