Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thrifty Planting Tips

I have a little secret. Actually, a big secret? Do you ever wonder how you can cut down on the amount of soil you use in your planted pots? Or, do you ever put too much soil in your clay pots that you can barely move them? Problem solved.

Simply add styrofoam pieces (aka: packaging peanuts) to the bottom of the pot. I've been doing this little secret for years. Okay, maybe not YEARS, but definitely three houses ago. It works, trust me. What's not to love about making spring planting a little less expensive and more thrifty! I heart thrifty ideas. Not only will the styrofoam helps decrease your soil costs, it also helps with air flow to decrease mold and mildew from over watering.

Happy thrifty planting to you!

To find out more information why soil itself contacts little styrofoam balls, check out this gardening site.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Creative Cupcake Toppers

With the summer months quickly approaching, birthdays and picnics become more frequent. An easy dessert (and kid approved as well) is the classic cupcake. But, aren't we all sick and tired of the "classic" cupcake with just frosting? Why not jazz it up a little bit -- and for FREE, too! These are supplies you probably have sitting in your craft cabinet and kitchen.

What you'll need:
cake mix, premade frosting, powdered sugar, food coloring, toothpicks, cupcake liners, cake decorating tips, colorful card stock paper (scrap paper, scrapbook paper, construction paper, etc), stickers, scissors.

Make cupcakes according to directions. Bake and cool. For the frosting, use premade frosting. Spoon into separate bowl. Add food coloring to desired color. To make frosting thicker (it will hold the shape on cupcakes) add powdered sugar. For one tub of frosting, about 1/2 cup or more for desired consistency. For my cupcakes, I used Wilton cake supplies and a #16 decorator tip. Frost cupcakes.

Now, for the special part that turns ordinary into extraordinary. The cupcake topper. Using your scraps of paper, lightly place sticker over the top. Cut around sticker. Slide toothpick under sticker. Press firmly on sticker.

Take your cupcake topper and place in cupcakes. Enjoy!

Want to know the best part of this craft idea? It's multifunctional. Creative cupcake toppers can be changed and mixed and matched according to the occasion or the event. Maybe a Dora the Explorer Birthday Party with Dora stickers? How about zoo animals? And for summer picnics, add stickers with lady bugs, watermelon slices, lemons, flowers.

Easy, easy, easy! And, FREE!

(If you're wondering how I came about the Dr. Seuss theme ... one of my friends watched my daughter today for a few hours and it was her son's birthday. For a birthday surprise and a thank you, I decided to use Dr. Seuss and Cat and The Hat Stickers -- the little boys' favorite).

I'm partying with: The Shabby Nest, It's So Very Cheri, The Persimmon Perch, Life as Lori, Beyond the Picket Fence, Somewhat Simple, Fireflies and Jellybeans, Poppies at Play, Finding Fabulous, Fun to Craft, A Few of My Favorite Things

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Gift From The Heart

First of all, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. Whether you're a mom to three, a new mom, an experienced mom, a mother to pets or simply have a mom -- to all women out there -- enjoy your special day!

Secondly, what a better way to celebrate the important women in our life than with a special gift from the heart. Isn't it mostly true that a handmade gift is the best gift? It comes all out of love every single time.

Now, one of my favorite gifts to share with a mother, a special friend (or really anyone you love) ... drum roll ... is my "Many Memories" scrapbook.

The "Many Memories" scrapbook is easy, easy, easy. Make this gift for a mother/friend/etc for her birthday, a special occassion or an anniversary. I start by compiling a list of email address, facebook profiles, snail mail addresses, etc. You have to do this in a sneaky way so your gift receiver does not to find out. Next, contact as many people as you can and let them know you are making a special memory book for your mom (or another recipient, but we'll say mom in honor of Mother's Day) and you need their help! You'd like them to help you by writing a special letter, sending photos, sharing a funny story, a quote or anything that reminds them of your mom. They can send it to you via email or mail. It's as easy as that! Have people your mom knows submit "memories" for a special book.

Once everything (pictures, cards, stories, memories, quotes, birthday wishes, etc) has been collected, compile everything into a scrapbook!

Easy, easy, easy. And, fun, too! Plus, you might learn a thing or two about your mother's past you didn't know ;) that will leave you laughing and smiling about how special she truly is.

Here's a preview and a few helpful tips and ideas on how to format your "Many Memories" scrapbook.

The book --- just a simple scrapbook.

I actually made this book for my mother-in-laws 50th birthday and decided as an extra special touch, I'd find a "Remember When" book for her to look at and remember how much things have changed in 50 years.

Two-page spreads work great for long letters and several photo submissions.

Snail mail cards and homemade letters.

Pictures, quotes, funny stories - and tons of stickers (snag them at Michael's or Joanns 50% ahead of time).

This "Many Memories" book is definitely a gift from the heart and will surely bring your mother tears, laughter, and joy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saturday Morning Finds

I went thrift sailing last weekend. Yes, garage "sailing" as I like to call it because you almost sail from house to house, roughing the high waters, the rising sun, and the birds above -- all to find that great bargain.

Having just really started to get into the bargain aspect of shopping, especially garage sales, I must say I was very pleasantly surprised with my finds. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised enough that I'm actually going back out again this weekend. :)

A few of my bargain finds.

A huge red mirror. Not sure what I'm going to do with this yet, but I have a few plans brewing.

A beautiful black stand to sit in the corner of my kitchen, temporarily, until I can find the perfect hutch or baker's rack.

And, my favorite finds of the day. Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel style decorations that fit perfectly with our existing decor.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Favorite Kitchen Utensil

This special utensil is unique in it's own way. In fact, not too many people know about this utensil, let alone have one in their kitchen utensil drawer. What is this special tool - it's a strawberry masher - and an antique one as well. In fact, this utensil came from an antique store (thanks to my dad) and had a price tag of $20 after a little negotiating. Definitely not a bargain, but worth every.single.penny. Seriously, once you've used on of these, it will be your favorite summer kitchen utensil as well.

Prior to living in California, I always love strawberries. However, nothing screams freshness like being close to the source and having strawberry fields right in your own local town. Thus, the reason why strawberries have become a staple ingredient in our diet these days. They are ripe, juicy and oh-so-delicious.

Now ... onto my favorite utensil. Here's what the strawberry masher looks like.

Here's how you simply make strawberry shortcake. Yum-O! Start with fresh, plump strawberries.


Mashed strawberries. Perfect every time. Natural strawberries with no added sugar.

Add a shortcake and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve chilled and enjoy.

And, best of all. This utensil can be used for peaches, berries, strawberries, etc. It's the perfect compliment to a hot summer day.