Dec 31, 2012

The Best of 2012

I was looking back over our blog stats for 2012 and thought it would be fun to share what our top five posts were.

Our canning ring storage tip came in first thanks to TipNut and pinterest!

Our Christmas cheer printable was also a big hit.  If you didn't print in time for Christmas 2012, print or pin it for next year!

Our Christmas tablescape and faux mantel received lots of love!

Our $2 Ikea pillow covers were featured on Knock Off Decor last week.

We loved this burlap and button art, and so did you!  I had every intention of making some more for Christmas, but with all of the moving craziness, it didn't happen.  Maybe I'll get around to it for Valentine's Day...

THANK YOU to those of you who have subscribed, shared, pinned, and promoted our blog!  Your support is so much appreciated.

THANK YOU to those who have left kind comments and e-mails.  It's been such a treat to make new friends through life{illustrated}!

We wish you all the best in 2013 and hope that you will come back to see what we have in store for the new year.  We will be making some changes, the first being that we will no longer be posting our new blog posts on facebook.  We want to use our facebook account to keep in touch with family and friends.  The good news is that you can receive updates by subscribing to our blog!  After you subscribe, each new blog post will be sent directly to your inbox.  We hope to see you in 2013!


Dec 28, 2012

What I Did With the Leftovers...

Remember these?

After making my pillow covers, I had a whole lot of flannel shirt material left.  I hated to waste the material, so I started thinking of ways I could use it up.  The first project I came up with also happened to be the easiest, so I just took that idea and ran with it... rice bag hand warmers.

I had already removed the pockets from each of the shirts before making the pillow covers, so I just put them together (wrong sides in) and sewed around the three bottom edges.  I added rice (about 3/4 full) and then sewed across the top to seal it.

Just microwave the warmers for about one minute and stick them in your coat pocket before you leave the house.  You'll stay warm and toasty for quite a while!  I like to warm them up and stick them under the covers in bed for my icy feet, too.

Dec 27, 2012

Read All About It!

Today is a special day!  Do you remember my $2 Ikea pillow covers?

They are being featured here on Knock Off Decor today!  If you haven't visited before, you should check it out.  There are tons of great ideas by other bloggers!

AND, just in case you're wondering what I did with the leftover shirt pieces from my plaid pillow covers...

Check back tomorrow for another tutorial!

Dec 24, 2012


Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. -Isaiah 7:14

{click to print}
When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. -Matthew 1:18

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. -Luke 2:4-7

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying
{click to print}
wreath courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. -Luke 2:8-20

Merry Christmas!

Dec 22, 2012

Eggnog Cheesecake

If you're still looking for a tasty Christmas dinner dessert, this post is for you!

Since we have several family gatherings this coming week, Marshall and I celebrated our Christmas for just the two of us last night.  It was such a wonderful time!

We turned off all the lights and lit the candles...

The evening started with dinner.  I wrapped Marshall's Cornish hen in bacon, and he said it's the best chicken he's ever tasted.

I don't eat meat, so I made myself a stuffed portobello mushroom.  So, so good!  The twice baked potatoes were wonderful, too.

And now, the real reason why you're here... dessert!

We ended the evening with It's a Wonderful Life and eggnog cheesecake.  This cheesecake is amazing.  If your life isn't wonderful already, it will be now!  I think this may become our traditional Christmas dessert!

Eggnog Cheesecake
{click to print}

2 C graham cracker crumbs
6 T butter, melted
4 8-oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
4 eggs
3/4 C eggnog
1 C sour cream
1 T vanilla
1 T nutmeg
1/4 C flour

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch springform pan.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, and press into the bottom of the pan.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar.  Add the eggnog and then the eggs, one at a time.  Add the sour cream, vanilla, nutmeg, and flour.

Step 3: Pour the filling into the prepared pan.  Place a bowl of water in the oven on the rack below the cheesecake, and bake for one hour.  When the cheesecake is finished baking, turn the oven off, and leave the door closed for 6 hours.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dec 20, 2012

Plaid Pillow Cover Knock-Offs

Plaid has been very trendy this Christmas season, and I hope it lasts!  There is something cozy about it, especially on pillows.  Pottery Barn, L.L. Bean, Land of Nod, and Eddie Bauer all agree, and they usually know what they're talking about.



Camp Flannel Pillow Case


Land of Nod's pillows have been discontinued, but you can purchase the other covers starting at $19.95, OR you can make them yourself for much, much less.

Step 1: Go to Goodwill and buy a bunch of flannel plaid shirts (men's XL work best) for about $3 each.  While you're there, grab some pillows for about $1 each.  They can be a little lumpy, but pick pillows that don't smell like smoke (or anything else).

Step 2: Wash the shirts, and remove their buttons and pockets.  Save the buttons for other projects.
Step 3:  Make pillow covers.  I used the envelope style for all of mine and utilized the finished edges of the shirts.  The edge that I removed the buttons from is the outer envelope edge, and I didn't bother hemming the inside envelope edge.

I was able to buy five pillows and make five slipcovers for less than what it would have cost to buy one slipcover from the store!

Dec 18, 2012

Christmas Goodies

Marshall and I hosted our first ever Christmas open house on Sunday in our new home.  Our new church family has been so generous and kind to us, and we wanted to do something to thank them.  We had a blast, and I hope that this will become a tradition here.  It will be easier in the following years, as much of our preparation went toward getting boxes unpacked, rooms painted, etc.

And of course, there were hours spent preparing the food...

"We elves stick to the four main food groups..."

Tip: When I make the chocolate covered pretzel rods, I melt the chocolate in a tall coffee mug.  It makes it much easier to coat the rod without making a mess all over the place.

The Almond Joy bark was definitely a favorite this year!

If you'd like any of these recipes, just leave a comment below.  I'll be glad to share!

Dec 17, 2012

Vintage Advent Garland

I know, I know...

It's super late to be posting an Advent garland idea.  I had started a different Advent calendar at the beginning of the month but didn't really love it.  And then I saw this idea on pinterest.

By the way, you know how there is usually a list of the most popular words or phrases of the year towards the ends of December?  I think the phrase "I saw it on pinterest" will be pretty high on the list.

Anyway, when I came across Miss Mustard Seed's vintage Advent garland, I immediately made plans to make one of my own.  I thought to myself, "Oh, this looks super easy!  And fun!"


Have you ever tried to print on fabric?  Yes, I followed the instructions, and yes I tried everything I could think of to get it to go through the printer, and it just wouldn't.  I tried troubleshooting via Google search, but that got me nowhere.  Apparently, I am the only one who has problems printing on fabric.  I was so frustrated that I almost posted something on my Facebook status about it, but I kept thinking of Proverbs 20:11.

Instead, I smacked the printer and started baking something in the kitchen.

I came back a few hours later with some much thinner fabric, and it went right through the printer.

And the rest of the project was super easy and fun.

In a nutshell, you just download vintage graphics (all mine came from The Graphics Fairy), crop and resize them to 3 1/2 x 5 inches, and add numbers in the corners.  Print them on fabric.

How do you print on fabric?

Just cut down a piece of freezer paper and your fabric to 8 1/2 x 11 inches.  Iron the waxy side of the freezer paper to the back of the fabric (to make it stable enough to feed through the printer).  Put your fabric in the printer so the images will print on the fabric side.

I printed four images per page and cut them out.  I cut the heavier fabric (the stuff that wouldn't fit through the printer) for the backs of the pockets.

After sandwiching the ribbons in between the pocket pieces, sew around the sides and bottom to create the pocket.

Fill the pockets with goodies or slips of paper with Advent activities written on them for your family to enjoy.  You can begin the Advent season with a full garland and untie a pocket each day, or you can start with one pocket and add to the garland throughout the month.  We are going to leave our garland up all season.  It's just too pretty to take down!

Be sure to check here for the full instructions!

Want to make our Christmas merry?  Subscribe to our blog and follow us on pinterest!

Dec 14, 2012

Homemade Chai Mix

Cold weather is officially here, and I for one am enjoying the excuse to make myself a warm cup of chai.  Each year around Thanksgiving, I start getting my chai craving, and I make up a huge batch to last all winter. I found this recipe on a few years back, and it never fails!

Homemade Chai Mix
{click to print}

1 C nonfat dry milk powder
1 C non-dairy creamer
1 C French vanilla flavored  powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 C sugar (substitutes such as Stevia work well, too)
1 1/2 C instant unsweetened tea
2 t ginger
2 t cinnamon
1 t cloves
1 t cardamom

Pour everything into a food processor, mixer, or coffee grinder.  Pulse mixture (in small batches, if necessary) into a fine powder .

Store mixture in an airtight container.

Use 2 T per serving.

Dec 13, 2012

O Tannenbaum

I already shared pictures of our Christmas tree, but I realized a couple days ago that I didn't tell you anything about the details.  And it's all in the details.  Today is the fourth and final link party in the Holiday Home series, and the theme is "Christmas Trees."  I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show you some of the things that make our tree extra special.

We decided to go with a real tree this year for two reasons.

1.  Our artificial tree didn't fit on the moving truck.
2.  There is nothing that competes with the beauty and fragrance of a real one.

I made the popcorn garland by hand for my first Christmas in my first apartment.  I couldn't afford to buy much for the tree, so I popped a bag of popcorn and spent a month putting the garland together.  It was a major pain to string all that popcorn with a needle and thread, but I'm so glad I have it.

It just occurred to me that I have a pattern of moving right before Christmas.  Interesting...

I also made a tree skirt that year, although I didn't finish it until after Christmas.  I just couldn't find one I liked, so I bought a bunch of fabric and sewed one by hand.

Marshall and I both prefer to have a random assortment of ornaments rather than having a lot that match.  Here are some of our favorites.

Of all the ornaments we have, this one carries the most meaning.

We celebrated our first married Christmas last year.  It came at a very hard time in our lives.  We had endured so much heartbreak in the month leading up to Christmas and just didn't feel like celebrating.  We took a spur of the moment trip to Galena, IL the weekend before Christmas to give ourselves a little pick-me-up.  It was so wonderful; it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.  We just meandered around in the beautiful little shops that were all decked out for Christmas and enjoyed being together.

We bought the "First Christmas Together" ornament in one of those shops, and then we ate out at a nice Mexican restaurant (a rare treat for us!).  We drove back home and watched It's a Wonderful Life.  I wrote the date and place on the bottom of the ornament, and then we hung it on our tree.

I will never forget that day.

We are planning to go on a special Christmas date again this year.  We'll be on the lookout for an ornament, and I'm going to write the date and place on that one, too.

We didn't have much money last year, so we decided not to give each other any gifts.  Even though it's not about the presents, I'm thankful that we have a little more this year and that there are presents under the tree.

It may just look like everyone else's tree, but to us, it's so very special.
christmas tree party