21 March 2014

Irish Inspiration: St. Patty's Day Mantel DIY Tips

Hi all!
Thanks so much for joining me this week for some Irish inspiration! Hopefully it's given you some ideas for next year's food, decor, and fun! Today I'm wrapping up our journey with my mantle this year. Here's a quick look back at all of our Irish Inspired fun this week...

Fri: St. Patty's Day Mantel DIY Tips (that's today!)

Again, please ignore our terra cotta walls... we've yet to paint our rental home! This month's mantle is a bit small as I threw it together quickly, but hopefully these tips will help you think a little outside the box when creating your next mantle!

 (1) Re-use
Some of you might vaguely remember these fabric-covered trees. That would be because I first used them a few years ago, in my 2012 Mantel. I shared how to make them in that post too! If you want to change things up each year, you could easily just switch out the fabric on something like this. Try and look at the items you have used before and consider using them again or using them in a new way! These trees are also a great way to use up some fabric scraps!

(2) Cards
This may sound silly, but if you've gotten cards from family or friends, well, use them! They're like mini works of art, so why not include them in your mantel! Use all of them or just your favorites. Another way to use cards- go shopping in your local card store/aisle and pick out a few of your favorites. You can throw them in a dollar store frame and you've got instant mantle-worthy art, or you can add some St. Patty's Day cheer to another room and mount them on the wall!

(3) Fillers
Do you have red and green vase fillers for Christmas? Well, if you know where they are, dig out the green ones, throw them in a vase or cup, and there ya go! Easy peasy! If you have any green candles, perhaps of the evergreen variety also leftover from Christmas, dig those out too and add them to your mantel! Even if you're not in the mood for some pine scents, you don't have to light them- just use them for their green color.

(4) Plants
It doesn't get much easier than this- if you have any houseplants that fit on the mantel (or maybe are already on your mantel!) then they'll fit right in! They're already the right color scheme, and they'll add a great organic touch to your mantel vignette.

(5) Use what you've got
Pull out those extra green votive holders and put them up on your mantel. They don't even need to be filled with anything, or just pop a spring-scented candle in there (just make sure they're not too close to anything flammable!). Again, decor from Christmas might be perfect to use again. Also, if you don't have the perfect vase or nice holder, take a look in your kitchen cabinets and see what you DO have- no one said vase fillers HAVE to be used in a vase! I dug out this gravy boat because it was the perfect size to hold all of my fabric-covered balls that I wanted to use. A green and/or yellow or  white/green/orange bowls would be great to add to your mantel!

I hope I've given you some good ideas to work with the next time you're designing your St. Patty's Day mantel or any of your next mantel vignettes! So many of these ideas are good starting points for any great mantel display. Have a fabulous weekend, friends!
God bless,

20 March 2014

Irish Inspired: Crafts for (or with!) Wee Ones

Hey all!
Today I finally got my post up a bit earlier in the day than usual- whoohoo! Before we get started today, have you checked out the other fun Irish Inspired posts this week?

As I mentioned during yesterday's Toddler Gift Basket post, today I'll be sharing two super simple Irish Inspired crafts that you can do FOR or WITH your wee one! Don't feel limited to the "ingredient" list that I suggest either- feel free to add other embellishments, let your imagination go wild!

Tomorrow I'll wrap up our Irish-Inspired week with sharing my St. Patrick's Day mantel! See ya then :)
God bless,

Irish Inspiration: Toddler St. Patty's Day Gifts

Hey all!
So since St. Patrick's Day is such a big deal in our home what with my Irish heritage and all, we do St. Patty's Day baskets, much the same as the whole Easter basket tradition. I thought I'd share our toddler-appropriate gift items, which would really work well for Easter baskets, birthday gifts, or Christmas stockings too! And don't forget to check out the other fun Irish Inspired posts from this week...

Wed: Toddler St. Patty's Day Gifts (that's today!)

Alrighty... and now onto the gift ideas for the wee cuties in your life ;)

(1) Books
We're a big fan of Tomie dePaola around here. He has fun illustrations and a great way of telling stories. Two of my favorite St. Patty's day books are Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato as well as Fin M'Coul, the Giant of Knockmany Hill (which she got last year, but would be much more appropriate for toddler age).  There are a great many Irish books out there- do you have any favorites?

(2) Food
OK, so I don't usually condone sweets per say, but this little one takes after her father and is a chocolate fiend already! We try to limit it to just a few small pieces. I hid a few chocolate mints in some green camo Easter eggs as well as some green-foil-wrapped Hershey kisses in a small container wrapped with a yellow tulle bow! Some other non-sugar ideas (which she'll actually be getting in her Easter basket!) would be Happy Baby Apple Kale Super Toddler Bars or Happy Baby Green Puffs (also available in green apple flavor).

(3) Stuffed Animals
Our little one loves her stuffed animals- her collection is already rivaling mine when I was little! Some of her current green stuffed animals were actually passed down from me, like Shamrock the Saint Patricks Bear by Ty. The one pictured is Skully, the parrot from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, one of her favorite shows to watch on Netflix!

(4) Shiny Things
If your little one is anything like mine, anything that flashes or blinks and/or has buttons is golden! The one bracelet we picked up at our local zoo, and the other one has LEDs in it, so it flashes when you hit the button on the side. She loves it! I picked up a whole pack of a few colors- we'll be bringing the extras to Disney World in the fall, so she has something to play with during the evening parades :)

(5) Clothing
Let's be honest- the little ones grow like weeds and are always in need of some new threads! Now is a great time to check out the clearance sections at your favorite stores for next year's St. Patty's goodies! Check your local consignment stores too! The leg warmers shown here I made from women's knee socks last year. The Minnie tee is from Old Navy. The flip flops are for her dress up kit- they were actually a gift for me (she loves wearing my shoes! What wee one doesn't, really? hehe) but I don't enjoy the plastic flip flops so off they went into her stash!

(6) Motor Skills
I didn't actually buy anything new to make this piece of her basket. I rounded up some green pom poms, pipe cleaners, and straws and stuck them in an empty sugar canister. She loves dumping everything out and then putting everything back in- bonus points for getting her to work on her motor skills with this "toy."

(7) Arts & Crafts
I ordered some Crayola construction paper, cut up some white, orange, and green pieces, stapled them together- instant Irish flag coloring booklet! She got some fresh Crayola Pip-Squeak Markers (perfect for little hands) and Crayola Triangular Crayons, but only the green, orange, and white shades for today!

(8) Stickers
This little one just adores anything remotely related to a sticker. She got two variations in her basket this year- first, some adhesive foam shamrocks which came in three shades of green as well as some simple removable office color coding labels in green. Be sure to stick with kids stickers or ones that are marked "removable" or you might be scraping stickers off everything for weeks!

(9) AND (10) DIY Crafts
Check back in tomorrow where I'll show you how to make these super simple Irish-inspired crafts either FOR your little ones or WITH your little ones!

Hope to see ya'll tomorrow, friends :)
God bless,

**Disclosure NOTE:  This article contains affiliate links. 

18 March 2014

Irish Inspiration: Kid-Friendly DIY Wreath

Hey all!
Today I'm back with a kid-friendly craft: an Irish wreath! The whole family can have fun putting this one together :) Please excuse our wall color... we haven't gotten a chance to paint our rental home yet and remove all that terracotta from the wall! Hehe... ok, on to the craft... right after we check out the other fun Irish Inspired posts from the week!

Tues: Kid-Friendly DIY Wreath (that's today!)

I started out with the same wreath base that I've been using for the past two years, you can check out how to make it {here}. In the last move, my envelope filled with all the accessories went MIA, so I had to improvise in a hurry this year. The resulting wreath is simple enough for the whole family to participate in making! I'll walk you through how to make each element of the wreath below...

To finish off your wreath, place shamrock stickers around your wreath wherever you'd like! My stickers are actually foam stickers- the little one got a few sheets of these in her St. Paddy's Day gift basket!!

Be sure to supervise the little ones since this craft does include straight pins and scissors! Hope your family enjoys making their own wreath next year for St. Patrick's Day!
God bless,

17 March 2014

Irish Inspiration Week: GF Irish Soda Bread & Potato Leek Soup

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

How have you all been? I finally uncovered my St. Paddy's Day decor amidst our moving boxes, so all this week I'll be sharing with you St. Patrick's Day inspired decor and recipes, gift basket ideas, and more! So check back each day this week for some fun IRISH inspiration!

Mon: GF Irish Soda Bread & Potato Leep Soup (that's today!)
Tues: Kid-Friendly DIY Wreath
Wed: Toddler St. Patty's Day Gifts
Thurs: St. Patty's Day Crafts with (or for) Wee Ones
Fri: St. Patty's Day Mantel DIY Tips

Today, I have two recipes for you. First up is a gluten-free version of our family's recipe for Irish Soda Bread (originally seen on THIS post), followed by some Potato Leek Soup! Enjoy :)

GF Irish Soda Bread
4 c. gluten-free flour (I prefer Bob's Red Mill)
3 tsp. xantham gum (unless your flour already includes it)
3 TB sugar
1 TB double acting baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
6 TB COLD butter
2-2.5 c. raisins
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk

Heat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 2 quart round baking dish, or pre-heat a pizza stone. Mix the first 5 dry ingredients, then cut in the butter. Stir in raisins. Beat eggs slightly in a separate bowl. After reserving 1 TB of egg, stir in buttermilk. Pour egg mixture into the dry mix. On a well-floured surface, kneed the dough 10 times- do NOT over-kneed (this causes the butter to melt, which you don't want). Shape dough into ball and place in baking dish. Cut a cross in the top of the loaf about 1/4 inch deep. Brush loaf with egg reserve and cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Potato Leek Soup
4 TB butter
2 medium leeks, sliced (or onions)
2 lbs potatoes, sliced
3 cups milk
5 1/2 c. vegetable stock (or chicken)
1/4 c. chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 c. heavy cream (or light cream)
salt & pepper to taste

Roux (2 TB butter, 2 TB cornstarch)

(1) Heat a 6-8 qt. stockpot and saute butter and leek.
(2) Add potatoes, milk, stock, and herbs. Cover and cook gently for an hour.
(3) Prepare the roux by melting the butter in a small saucepan and whisking in the flour. Let it bubble for 2 mins on med-low heat, stirring constantly.
(4) Add roux to soup to thicken, whisking to avoid lumps.
(5) Cook for 5-10 mins, and then puree the soup with stick blender.
(6) Add cream and gently reheat, but do not boil.
(7) Season with salt and pepper. Serve!

Make it a Crock Pot dish: 
This can be done in the crock pot, which is actually the only way I've ever done it! In lieu of cooking for an hour on the stove, I cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or on HIGH for 4-6 hours. You can do the first step as written, or skip it completely and just add the ingredients into the crock pot sans sautéing! Step 3 must be done as written. For step 5, I just leave it in the crock pot to blend it, and make sure the crock pot is on LOW when I move onto step 6. After adding the cream, I let it cook for another ~15 mins, and then turn the crock pot to WARM.

** DISCLOSURE NOTE: The above recipe contains an Amazon Associates link. **

06 March 2014

St. Patty's Day Round Up

Hey all!
Sorry for being a bit quiet around here - STILL working on unpacking! It's certainly harder to unpack when you have holidays, a DH who works super late, and a toddler thrown in the mix! I can't wait to share our new space with you soon, and a bunch of projects I have to share too! Anyhoo, onto today's topic...

St. Patrick's Day!!!

The super sweet Annette at Fiber Artsy is sharing 7 Easy St. Patty's Day Craft Projects and is featuring my St. Patty's Day Wreath project! She has such a neat blog, focusing mainly on crafts using fibers of all sorts- check it out! While you're there, see the other awesome projects she's featuring today too, including free lucky printable treat bag tags, paper shamrocks, green fabric flowers, crocheted shamrocks, felt shamrock barrettes, and shamrock hoop art! SO fun and perfect for the upcoming holiday!  

If you're looking for some more St. Patty's Day inspiration, here's a round up of my past posts about my favorite green holiday.  Check back soon and I'll be sharing some of my preparations for this year's St. Patrick's Day too!
(1) St. Patty's Day Wreath with tutorial
(2) DIY St. Patty's Day Mantel Tour with mini tutorials
(3) St. Patty's Day Flag Food Spread with links to recipes
(4) Blessed Shadowbox with link to tutorial


25 January 2014

Homemade Cleaners {free printable}

Hi there lovely readers!
How is your 2014 going so far? Our family is settling into our new home at our latest Army post- we're glad to be back a bit north and getting all four seasons again! After being down south for the past 2 1/2 years, we're ready for fall and winter :)

So I know I've been a bit quiet here this month (and the past, oh, year!), but we're finally down to the last few boxes to unpack! I'll have some fun organizing tips coming up in the next few months as I get everything settled in its final places in closets and whatnot! But for now, I thought I'd share with ya'll a free printable that I use myself!

So here it is! A free printable for keeping track of all those homemade cleaners! We love using vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and hydrogen peroxide for nearly all our cleaning needs. I've started writing down all the combinations of solutions with this handy printable, and wanted you all to take advantage of it too, if you'd like!

As I wrap up the unpacking, you'll be sure to see me more around here posting and whatnot, as well as over on my card making blog! Be sure to stay tuned ;)

God bless,

04 January 2014

2014 Word

As a.... 
Christian, wife, mother, homemaker, friend, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, granddaughter, crafter, chef, teacher, organizer, cleaner, prepper, and whatever else the Lord puts on my heart as areas where I need growth. 

After over 15 months being in a cramped apartment at our last Army post, we just moved to our next duty station and are beyond thrilled to be renting our first stand alone home! No more sharing walls or ceilings or floors. No more standard military-grade finishes. An honest to goodness house! We may be renting, but we plan to make it ours as much as we possibly can for the time that we are here. 

That being said (and a bit of why I've been absent here for a while- we were living out of boxes and our storage unit for that time! Not to mention a computer crash that lost all of our photos from the past 3 years- note: ALWAYS back up everything on your computer!! I knew better, and backed up everything EXCEPT my photos... silly me!), I'm excited to get back on here and share with  you all and visit with everyone here on blogland :) Looking forward to what the Lord has in store for 2014!

God Bless- 

24 December 2013

A Christmas Poem

...a dear friend emailed this poem to me, and I wanted to share...

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "It’s really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

21 October 2013

GF Pumpkin Maple Bread with Pecan Streusel

Sorry it's been so long, friends! Things have been a bit hectic crazy around here, between DH being in and out of the field for work, a mini "deployment" of sorts, and an energetic 17 month old, oh yes, and let's not forget losing the past 3 years of photos because our computer crashed! (NOTE to readers: ALWAYS back up your important files! We had all our documents and music backed up, but not photos, which are arguably more important. Saddness!) Anyhoo, I hope to jump back into blogging with more frequency in the near future! For now, I hope you enjoy this autumn yumminess....

{Gluten-Free} Pumpkin Maple Bread with Pecan Streusel
...to welcome autumn...
Super simple- mix, pour, bake, yum!
This recipe was inspired by a Pinterest pin I'd found a while back {found here at Hot Polka Dot}. 

-- Bread Ingredients --
1.5 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten free baking mix (or regular flour)
1.5 tsp guar gum (or ~1 tsp xantham gum) (skip this if you're using regular flour)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
1 cup pumpkin puree (make sure you get 100% pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg beaters)
1/3 cup olive oil (or veggie oil, or applesauce)

-- Streusel Topping Ingredients --
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 TB flaxseed meal (or almond meal, or flour)
2 TB sugar
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup chopped pecans

* I made my own pumpkin pie spice (as per THIS recipe), as it's something I rarely use so I didn't want to buy a whole bottle of it. The below mix will make 1 TB (3 tsps) of pumpkin pie spice!
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves

-- Instructions --
(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, placing the rack in the center of the oven. Line a 9" loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhanging the edges (so you can later lift the loaf out easily).
(2) Whisk the first 6 (or 5, if you're using regular flour) ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and whisk until just combined.
(3) Mix the first 3 topping ingredients together. Cut in the butter. Toss in the pecans.
(4) Pour batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with a knife or spatula. Evenly sprinkle on the streusel topping.
(5) Bake 30-40 minutes (mine ended up baking closer to 50 mins), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 mins, then transfer to a rack to continue cooling.
(6) After cooled, cut, serve, and enjoy!