Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Valentine Mantel

I usually don't decorate my fireplace mantel for any holiday except Christmas, but I got a wild hair today and decided to fix it up a bit for Valentine's Day.

I have seen all over blog land where people are taking vases and glass candlesticks from the Dollar Tree and gluing them together to create some pretty amazing vases. So I decided to give it a try myself. I love how they turned out! I decided they would be perfect for my Valentine's Day mantel with some red hots and creamy white candles nestled in them. I decided a pretty little bow in red with cream polka dots would be perfect. I collect the Willow Tree figurines and for our first wedding anniversary last year, hubby bought me the "Promise" figurine. Which has to take center stage, of course. I love it! I then threaded some of the remaining red and white polka dotted ribbon thru a couple of ivy candle rings I had and tucked a few pine cones in as well. I then sprinkled some more of the red hots throughout the arrangement and this is what I ended up with:

I also decided to make a red and white rag wreath to hang above the fireplace on my old window frame:

And finally, here's one of everything:

Simple, but pretty. Just perfect for one simple country girl!

I'm linking up to these great parties this week:


Until next time. . .

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homemade Bagels

Whew! Has this been a long week or what??? I feel like I've lived through about three weeks this week, it's been that long!!! Oh well, at least tomorrow is Friday and that means two days off from work! Finally!! Now if only I could get all this snow to go away, everything would be just fine!

A while back, I found a recipe on-line for homemade New York style bagels. I've never in my life tried to make bagels of any kind, but this recipe looked pretty simple and had a ton of favorable reviews so I thought, what the heck, and gave it a try. OH. MY. GOODNESS!!!! These are some of the best bagels I have ever eaten! Everybody in the family loved them, including the picky 17 year old who usually turns his nose up at anything homemade. He'll regret that one day, I'm sure!!!

I took a picture of the finished product. Now, don't laugh. My shaping technique really needs some work but I think for a first try, they turned out pretty good!

I made some of them topped with cheese and garlic salt. I also left a few of them plain. I ate mine with some veggie cream cheese. Yummy!!!! I highly recommend this recipe to anyone who loves a good bagel. I am anxious to make these again. Maybe some blueberry or cinnamon raisin ones next time would be good. Click here to get the recipe. When the site comes up, just type in homemade bagel recipe in the search box and it will take you to the link.

I'd like to thank all of you who commented on my last post. It's not a post that I am proud of. But it is what it is. I always struggle with my emotional well being during the winter months. I have talked with my health care provider and we have decided to hold off on the anti-depressants for now. Actually, it was my choice. I am just too scared of all the side effects and I want to try focusing on all the good things I've got going on in my life and see if I can make some changes in some of the things that I do have control over to change. We will see how it goes. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers over the last week. I've really felt them all and appreciate them more than I can say.

I haven't been very creative this past week. I've actually gotten started on a few projects, but just haven't been able to finish anything up. Hopefully, I will have some time this weekend to get some of them done so I can share them with y'all.

Until next time. . .

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Being satisfied

~ Happy is he who learns to bear what he cannot change. ~
~ Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

This has been quite the week for me. I have been dealing with some stressful issues in my life that have reared their ugly heads lately. This has got me to thinking about a lot of things in my life.

I am never satisfied. Sounds harsh, doesn't it? It seems like no matter where I am in life, I can never stay satisfied. Whether it be my job, my home, finances, weight issues, relationship issues, or whatever, I am always feeling as though something is lacking or these things aren't "good" enough. Friends say "just have faith". Easy to say, hard to do sometimes. I do believe in God but cannot honestly say that I have a personal relationship with Him. Oh, I've tried. But I've failed. Over and over again. I pray. Often. But I don't feel it does any good. Really.

Others say that I am lucky. I have a home, a job, a healthy family that loves me (most of the time, anyway!). And all this is true. I am very fortunate and I know that. But still, something is lacking. Why am I never satisfied???

I don't like this feeling. I don't like not being satisfied. I feel guilty. I feel overwhelmed. I feel depressed. I feel unworthy. I feel sad.

Does anyone else feel this way? If so, what do you do to fix it?

Until next time. . .

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My "New" Kitchen Colors

Sorry I didn't get this posted the other day as promised. My computer has been acting ugly, well actually, I don't believe it's the computer. I think our wireless router is about to bite the dust. We are looking into getting a new one, but finances are kind of tight right now so we are just making do until we can afford to get one. Which means that my Internet access is somewhat limited. And with three of us in the house usually all on different computers at the same time, it makes for a really slow connection which means I can't post or blog read like I would normally do. I have not been a happy camper!

Anywho, on to my kitchen. We have picked out the colors we will be using for our "new" kitchen. Here they are:

The paint colors are Summer Tan and Apple Peel from Valspar's Signature line. I love the color combination. Our plans are to paint the lower wall of our dining area with the Apple Peel and the upper area along with the kitchen walls the Summer Tan. We are planning on purchasing a faux brick panel from Lowe's to use as the backsplash around the cabinets and behind the stove. We will be painting it an off white color. The cabinets are going to be painted with the Apple Peel color. Hubby was not too keen on that idea, but I convinced him it would look great! We are using black hardware for the cabinets as well. I have found an awesome product to use on my counter tops. It's a painting treatment made specifically for laminate counters. I am super excited about this because I cannot afford to replace my counters and this product can be tinted in like sixteen different colors and costs less than $20! Woohoo! I am leaning towards a black color but haven't made a final decision on that yet. We will also be updating the floors. I would love to have a laminate wood floor or the real deal hardwood but that is also way out of our budget. So for now, we are going to settle for a vinyl flooring that looks like wood. We've found one we like at Lowe's and based on the size of our kitchen/dining room, we figure it will cost roughly around $250 to put it in our kitchen. Hubby will be doing all the installation so that will save a lot of money. I will be getting a new stove since mine came over on the ark and is on it's last leg and a dishwasher, something I haven't had since we bought this house two years ago. We have decided to keep our old fridge since it is still in good working condition but we will be giving it a coat of black paint, again found at Lowe's, specifically for appliances.

I got the inspiration for my "new" kitchen from Grits and Glamour. Barb Garrett is the author of this awesome blog and this lady has a gorgeous house! And I just fell in love with her kitchen. Here's a peek of it where she was featured in the December issue of Country Woman magazine.

I have the same kind of soffets above my cabinet and have been contemplating putting up moulding on mine like she did. Mine are not as high as hers, though, so not sure if we will be doing that or not.

So, that's a basic rough plan of my "new" kitchen. It may take me forever and a day to get it done since my budget is severely limited and I have to just do what I can a little at a time. Hubby and I have made it our New Year's resolution to get as much out of debt as possible this year, so we are working hard to pay off some old debts and extra hard to not create any new ones. We are living credit card free now and have vowed to pay for everything with cash for this remodel. That way we can enjoy the finished result guilt free!

I told y'all about my chalkboard rooster I saw on a blog a while back. I found the blog again that I first saw this on. It's here at Gail's Decorative Touch. I love this and thought I'd try my hand at making one of my own. So I found a picture of a rooster that I liked and drew it free hand on a piece of paper. Cut that out and had hubby trace it on a piece of wood and cut it out for me. He assembled it on a dowel and a piece of decorative trim we picked up at Lowe's. Here's a pic of it in it's current state.

Isn't he gorgeous?? I still have to sand him around the edges and I bought a can of chalkboard spray paint that I will use on him if this crazy snowy weather will ever stop long enough for me to get him outside to work on!! I can't wait to show y'all the finished product!

Well, that's gonna do it for me today. I had to take a vacation day from work due to all the snow we are having. I can't wait for Spring!

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time. . .

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pay it forward. . .

I recently accepted a challenge that was posted by a friend on Facebook called Pay It Forward 2011. The challenge was that the first five people who responded to her post would receive something handmade by her in 2011. The catch? Each responder had to post the challenge as their status and agree to send their first five commenters a handmade item in 2011. Since I love to craft and create, this was right up my alley.

I decided to make my recipients a post it note holder. Here it is:

Cute and functional! I made several of these and gave them to coworkers as Christmas gifts. They all loved them. I mean, after all, who doesn't use post it notes? And here's how I did it:

The supplies I used:

~ an acrylic picture frame. I got mine at Wal Mart for $1 each. I chose the 6 X 4 inch size but the 5 X 3 size would work as well to make a smaller note holder.
~ pretty scrapbook paper or cardstock
~ assorted ribbon
~ scrapbook embellishments and stickers
~ post it notes
~ glue. I used my hot glue gun but Modge Podge would work just as well.

Step 1:
Chose your paper to go into your frame. I use the paper insert that comes with the frame as my pattern to cut my paper out. The paper I used for this one is only printed on one side so I cut two pieces and put them in the frame back to back.

If your paper has words printed on it like mine does in this example, make sure when you put your paper in the frame, that the words are right side up! The "stand" on your frame will be at the top. This makes the frame like an easel so that when you write on the post it notes, the slant of the frame is correct. Your frame should look like this at this point:

And a view from the side:

Step 2:
Add your ribbon. I usually put a coordinating colored ribbon across the top of my stand and hot glue it in the back:

Step 3:
Now comes the fun part ~ decorating your frame! Decide where you want your post its to be placed. You can put them in the middle of the frame or on either side. I chose the middle for this one because I am keeping it simple with the embellishments due to the fact that I used paper with words on it. I didn't want it to be too "busy". I put some glue on the back of my post it notes just for some added security. You could always just peel off the paper backing and press them onto your frame if you wish. Then just embellish to your heart's content. I used one simple ribbon rose bud on this one, and voila, a cute, finished post it note frame, all ready to be used!

These are so much fun to make and so, so simple! This one took me all of five minutes to make. They are so cute sitting on a desk or by the phone. And the decoration possibilities are endless! There are so many neat 3D stickers and embellishments available at craft stores. Here's some pics of a few more I've made:

I hope my Pay it Forward 2011 recipients like them! How nice to be able to get something in the mail besides bills! It would totally make my day!

I'm linking up with these fabulous parties this week:

Click on the boxes to go check out all the great crafts and recipes everyone is sharing!

We have decided on the paint colors for our "new" kitchen! I am so excited and can't wait to get started! I'll share those along with the inspiration for my "new" kitchen with y'all tomorrow!

Until next time. . .

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baby it's cold outside!

A big thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I don't usually share that much personal info online, but once I started typing, I just couldn't seem to stop the flow! I am in awe that I am such an inspiration to y'all. I don't feel deserving of such inspiration, but I'm glad to know that I am not the only one out there who struggles with emotions and with eating habits. Maybe we can all inspire one another!

I woke up to about six inches of freshly fallen snow this morning and it's still snowing! Ugh! I am not a fan of winter weather at all and this year is shaping up to be just as bad as last winter as far as snow fall and cold temps are concerned. They are forecasting about four more inches for today with high temps only reaching the low 20's. Bbbbrrr!!! So, I decided to break out the brand new red crockpot I got as a Christmas gift and make a pot of Taco Soup. Yummo!!

Taco Soup

2 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 cans pinto beans (I use two)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can stewed tomatoes, mexican style
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 pkg taco seasoning mix (I use mild but this is just my preference)
1 pkg dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
2 1/2 cups water

Brown ground beef. Add onion and saute until onions are tender. Drain. Put in crockpot and add all other ingredients. Stir. Cook on low for about two hours.

This is so good and so easy! I usually serve it with chili cheese flavored corn chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese (monterey jack and cheddar blend is really good). To make it a bit more low calorie and diet friendly, you can omit the sour cream or use low fat, use low fat cheese or none at all, and omit the corn chips. It's really good either way and just the thing to warm you up on a cold, snowy day!

I am doing a pay it forward thing on Facebook to start 2011. I am sending five people a handmade craft and asking them to send a craft or handmade goodie to five more people. I will share the simple craft I am making with y'all tomorrow.

Stay warm and enjoy your Saturday, where ever you are!

Until next time. . .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Old Habits Die Hard. . .

When I was born, I weighed 8 pounds and 8 ounces. So I was a pretty good sized baby. But as I grew, my weight evened out and I became a normal sized kid. We lived out in the country, about a mile off the main road where the bus would let us off after school every day. The only way home was to walk. And of course, there were no video games, no cable t.v., and no computers so we entertained ourselves by playing outside. Besides my mom and dad, there were three of us kids and my mom didn't work until my youngest brother started school. And then she only worked part time because my dad didn't really want her to work to start with. So money was not plentiful and we didn't get a lot of junk food to eat. We ate what was fixed and put on our plates, or we ate nothing at all.

So weight issues never plagued me. Ever. Until I got married for the first time at the age of twenty-one. I guess I felt like I didn't need to worry so much about watching my figure, I mean after all, I had snagged my man so I wasn't on the lookout for another one! And then my marriage fell apart and I was alone again. When I looked in the mirror, I didn't like what I saw. So I dieted and lost about 25 pounds. I was looking good again and I felt good too!

Then along came husband number two. The father of my son. He swept me off my feet with his good looks and charming personality. I got pregnant right about the time we were married. I was shocked! Because hubby #1 and I had tried unsuccessfully for over two years to conceive. So I thought I couldn't have a baby. Wrong! During my sixth month of pregnancy, hubby #2 decided he didn't want to be tied down in a marriage with a baby (he already had three kids before we met). So he left. I was devastated to say the least. So I ate. And ate. And ate. I gained about thirty pounds during my pregnancy. Not too bad, but not too good either. After my son was born, I lost maybe twenty pounds. I was a smoker before I got pregnant but I quit when I found out I was pregnant. Well, when my life didn't magically go back to being perfect after the baby was born and my hubby didn't come running back to me and our beautiful baby boy, I started smoking again. Bad, I know. But I did. And I lost thirty more pounds.

We moved to North Carolina when my son was almost two years old. This was in late 1994. I bought my first house in 2000 and vowed not to smoke in it because it was brand new and I didn't want it to smell like smoke or for the white walls to be all yellowed and all. So I quit smoking. Easy peasy. And it really was easy. My mom always said that I could do anything I set my mind to and I guess she was right. Quitting smoking was easy for me. But then I needed something to replace it. So I started eating. And eating. And eating. (Are you sensing a pattern here yet??).

By 2007, I weighed 309 pounds. Yep. On a 5 foot 7 inch frame. I was miserable. I hated myself and everybody in the world too. So I decided to do something about my weight. I opted for gastric bypass surgery. So in July 2007, I had the RNY procedure. That's where they section off your stomach to make a smaller "pouch" out of your upper stomach and attach your esophagus and your colon to the pouch. The remnant stomach is still inside you, it just doesn't function anymore.

Anyways, I lost weight. A lot! And fast. I went from 309 pounds in July 2007 down to 164 pounds in April 2009. Here's some pics:

July 2007 at 309 pounds:

April 2009 at 164 pounds:

Now, some people say that I took the "easy" way out. And I guess you could say that. If you consider having your guts surgically rearranged, having to pay $3,300 out of pocket to have that done (my part after the insurance paid their part), being willing to possibly give up eating some of your favorite foods for the rest of your life, having to take vitamin supplements everyday for the rest of your life (this is a malabsorbtion surgery so your body doesn't absorb all the nutrients it needs just from food), and risking major complications from the surgery itself not to mention possible complications like low blood sugar, etc. later down the road as taking the "easy" way out. I will admit, it was super easy to lose the weight. It literally fell off me. And I haven't had any complications. I'm very lucky. Until now. I have gained back 25 pounds and more will follow if I don't get myself back on track and do what I know I am supposed to do. This surgery is not a magic wand. After about eighteen months, the weight loss stops. And if you don't follow the rules, the weight will come back. Old habits die hard. . .

Which brings me to the point of this post (finally!). I am putting all this out there so that I can be held accountable for my actions. I am responsible for what goes into my mouth. Only me. And I am going to do that. I am not going to let all that I've gone thru during the past three and a half years be for naught. I deserve better. And only I can do that for myself. And I will. Because I am worth it!

Until next time. . .

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goodies in the Mail and Free Chairs!!

Good Monday evening everyone! My day started out horrible but got oh, so much better!! Mondays are always hectic for me at work and today was no exception. But hubby called me around 2 p.m. to tell me that I had a package from Canada waiting on me when I got home! Well, I instantly knew who that was from! My good friend, Holli, from over at Where The Rooster Crows!!! She had told me a week or so ago that she had sent me out a little something and to be watching for it. Look at what she sent to me:

I am a member over at the Prim Pals forum and have met some really awesome ladies over there. We have a weekly chat night every Wednesday and those gals are hilarious! We talk about everything from crafting to our kids to our hubbys. It's a great stress reliever and I never leave there without laughing and feeling carefree, at least for a little while. Holli made me this awesome stitchery of four of us girls from over there. Isn't it great?? I love it! She also sent me the softest fuzziest pair of slipper socks. I love these! And a cute little card too! Thank you so much Holli! You are the best!

On Saturday, one of my Facebook buddies posted that she and her husband are decluttering and reorganizing their home as one of their New Year's resolutions. She had listed a bunch of stuff that she wanted to get rid of and on that list was a set of four ladder back chairs. I asked her how much she wanted for them and she said they were mine free for the taking as long as I would come and get them. I jumped on that! She lives about an hour or so from me so hubby and I made that our Sunday drive yesterday! Here's a couple of pics of the chairs: (Please ignore my messy kitchen ~ I was too excited about the chairs to straighten up my countertops before I took the pictures!)

And here's a close up of one of the chairs:

I love them! I am gonna paint them black and I think they will go perfect in my new french country kitchen! The funny thing is that I had found some farmhouse style chairs that I was gonna purchase for the dining area and everytime I would have the money to get them, the store would be out of them or something would come up and I would have to use the money for something else. I guess I wasn't meant to buy any chairs! I can't wait to makeover these!

Hubby is working on a wooden rooster project for me that I am really excited about too. I saw one on a blog somewhere that someone had made into a chalkboard. I'm sorry I can't remember where I saw it, so if anyone reading this knows what I'm talking about, please let me know so that I can give you credit for inspiring me! I drew out my rooster freehand and hubby cut it out of a piece of wood for me today. Then he attached a dowel to a base for me and then drilled a hole in the rooster to insert the dowel. I am gonna spray paint the entire thing with chalkboard paint and I'll have a cute rooster accent to go in my kitchen! I can't wait to show it to you when it's done.

I also made another trip to Hobby Lobby this weekend and picked up a couple of stacking boxes that I am going to attempt to paint on. We'll see how that goes! My painting skills aren't the best but the boxes weren't that much so if I mess them up, I'm not out a lot. I've got a lot of projects going on to share with y'all!

Well, that's it for now. Gotta run and do some never ending laundry.

Until next time. . .

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Simple, Inexpensive Valentine Treat!

I know we just finished up with Christmas, but Valentine's Day is gonna be here before we know it. If you are looking for a quick, inexpensive Valentine treat, I've got just the thing for you! Chocolate covered strawberry flavored marshmallows! Yummo!

Here's what you need to get started:

A bag of large sized strawberry flavored marshmallows and a package of chocolate flavored CandiQuik. All I did was melt the chocolate according to the directions on the package. I used the microwave method. Lay a piece of waxed paper out to set the dipped marshmallows on. Dip each marshmallow into the chocolate. I went about a quarter of the way to almost half way up the marshmallows. Set on wax paper to harden. Using a spoon, I drizzled more chocolate on top of each marshmallow. You could make little heart designs, polka dots, little x's and o's or whatever you want on top. Just use your imagination! Here's how mine turned out:

Don't they look yummy??!!

After the chocolate hardens, box them up in whatever cute containers you have. I just used plain cellophane bags I had left over from Christmas and I tied them up with a pretty pink ribbon and now they are ready for gift giving!

This was easy and fun to do and would be a great project for the kids to help with too. I found this idea here at Greenbean's Crafterole. This gal has got some awesome ideas so check her out when you get a chance!

I've really enjoyed my three day weekend. Too bad it just goes by way too fast! And I won't get another one until May! How sad is that??!! But on the bright side, my annual two weeks of vacation went into effect on January 1st, so if things get too intense at work, I can always take a vacation day! Hey, gotta look at the bright side of things, ya know?

Well, that's it for me for now. I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Until next time. . .