Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Do It yourself: Christmas Party Invitations

Is it freezing, or what? I am absolutely frozen solid down here in the Sunshine State & I know all of you that are in the midst of snow are furious with me right now, but I really am cold! I'm sitting here, windows open, wearing two sweaters, with one warm puppy snuggled by my feet & a little music... go ahead & follow the link, you'll love it I promise...I love how they use this playful song in the movie Moonrise Kingdom, it is one of my favourite Wes Anderson movies!!
I have missed you all & am so sorry to have been away, but I have a wonderful craft that anyone can make! Not only is it easy, it's totally customizable which I love, because to me crafts aren't fun unless they're personalized!

We (Sydney & I), even busted out the Cricut Expression for this project, but I made sure to choose a very simple design so you in no way need more than just a pencil & scissors! I have not done a full review of my Cricut yet, but if I could shout from the rooftops, " I love you Cricut!", I would. I was gifted this about four years ago for Christmas by my husband & it has been used more times than I can count. Valentines, invitations, signs, scrap-booking pages, photo albums, & even a wedding!

As I have mentioned, Sydney's birthday is December 4th, we are having a birthday party for her the following weekend at our house. I was so worried about Christmas overshadowing her big day that I was totally caught off guard when she asked for her birthday party to be Christmas themed! I will be back soon with a party mood board & all of her plans! 

Once I got over my initial shock I got really excited & started writing down all her ideas: first of which was to make her own invitations. These are great for an office party, Christmas party or Christmas card for the family! It is teenager approved & I think all ages  I hope you all enjoy!

Do it yourself: Christmas party invitations


Begin by choosing a card-stock sheet you'd like to be your card base. Trace the pattern on your paper, or if you have a Cricut use the Wild-Card cartridge & select the "ornament" design. Use the image below as your template.

Fold all four sides.
Choose a paper for your tree, Trace around the tree, cut & glue.

Again choose paper for the star, trace, cut & glue.

Next you can embellish.
I cut out "snowflakes", glued them on & then colored over then with a white crayon.
I used a gold Sharpie on the star & outlined the tree with black.

 You could add glitter, beads, cotton balls, draw your family...the possibilities are endless! Next line the inside of your invitation with a paper of your choosing. Print or handwrite inside & you're ready to go!

Sydney does not like crafting, I have mentioned that before, but this was a great way for us to spend time together. All nine invitations took about two hours to make & she worked on all of them! I am so proud of her craftiness!

So who is throwing a holiday party? Any other December birthdays???

It's just another everyday, holiday with Jillie

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

herb gardening indoors

I don't know if I have ever mentioned but December is the craziest month out of the entire year for us! It is not only Christmas Eve & Christmas, but it is also my mom & Sydney's birthday on the fourth. Because that's not ridiculous enough  it's also my dad & nephew's birthday in December! Phew... needless to say I have to get creative, I have to plan early & I have to do a lot of DIY! I try my best to make as many gifts by hand as possible, so there is always a little TLC for everyone year round. Things I like to make are; lotions, calendars, candles, stained glass, anything crochet & of course made with love food!

So when I saw this little number at Target toward to end of summer on clearance I decided to snag it! 

It was listed as a condiment holder. I'm guessing it would be for a big BBQ party, because that would be a lot of ketchup!

 Anyway, at under 3 dollars I considered it a steal, the little pots are plastic & the cute stand is metal.

When I saw it, I immediately thought of my mom. She always has small potted plants on her windowsills & when I thought a little more I realized none of the plants were herbs.

So, I made my purchase & patted myself on the back all the way home. I let them sit in my holiday bin I mentioned here; for the last four months or so. Last week I decided it was time to do something with it, I went up to the local nursery & found three smallish plants that I thought would work well in her window, I needed full sun herbs because there are no trees out her kitchen window.  I found basil, oregano & mint, & thought those would all be nice to have at home, so I scooped them up & headed home, All three cost me 8$.
Once home I began decorating the pots. First I tried using some scrap booking paper to make nice big labels around the pot...I realized a little late it wouldn't be that easy to read, oops!

 I took them off & made smaller labels for the upper lip of the pot, I covered the entire label with tape so it could get wet when outside.

 Next, I flipped the pots over to make drainage holes with a knife.

Then I went outside & began the planting process. I took each plant out of it's pot & began to break down their root balls, I wanted to separate each plant into two so I would have six total.

I have learned that there is a fine line between being delicate & rough with it & you need to be somewhere in between the two. Once you have them mostly separated you can use scissors to finish the job. Place some soil in the bottom of the pot, place the plant on top& wiggle it into place.

Add more soil to firmly hold the plant in the pot without flopping to one side. water them in & you're finished!

I know my mom is going to love her birthday gift & in the end, the entire project cost me about 6$. Not too shabby!

It's just another everyday, holiday with jillie

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall Flavors: CornBread Stuffing

It is officially cold today! I am wrapped up snug as a bug in my soft velvet throw, sipping on some warm tea & thinking about eating a biscuit with homemade applebutter, yum! Post on that later this week! Yay! 

I am so enjoying this fall back in time we had on Sunday! I don't know about you guys, but I'm waking up early & getting some serious work done! Really the only thing I've noticed that I don't like, is that my mail is getting delivered after dark & I'm getting the wrong mail, Whoops! I think I might have to slip the mailman a flashlight tomorrow, maybe it will be part of his Christmas gift this year, a nice fancy LED flashlight. What do you guys think?

Here is what I'm listening to while I write, thought you might like to get the full effect, windows open, velvet throw, warm tea, & a little Stevie Nicks. Plus a pup wandering by, placing his head on my lap for a sweet pet & then moving on.

This is it, an everyday, holiday everyone can experience. Snuggling with a pet, sipping on tea or just having a quiet moment for yourself, make time for it!

 Last night we had pork chops, pan fried with a little seasoning & butter. They were juicy & delicious! When ever we have pork chops I like to use a tweaked Susan Branch recipe that we just love for cornbread stuffing. The only reason the recipe is tweaked is because the original recipe calls for hazelnuts & none of my local stores have had any in months!  

Susan Branch Corn Bread Stuffing 

One (1) shallot, diced
One (1) medium yellow onion, diced
Two (2) ribs of celery, diced
One (1) egg
One (1) box Jiffy cornbread mix
Two (2) Tablespoons butter
1/3 Cup milk
Heavy dash thyme

Set your oven to 350º.Begin by mixing the box of corn bread mix with one egg & 1/3 cup milk, mixture will be slightly lumpy, let sit for 5 minutes. 

While corn bread mixture rests, dice shallot, onion & celery. Place in pan & sauté on low with a heavy dash of thyme & butter, stirring frequently. 

Place cornbread into loaf pan & bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven & immediately scrape the entire loaf of bread with a fork, crumbling all of it.

 Pour into sauté pan & if needed add more butter. Stir & soak up all flavor, serve warm.

This recipe is such a hit in my home that I am being forced to make THREE types of stuffing for Thanksgiving & this is one of them! I really hope I can find some Hazelnuts by then! If I do, I  will bake them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350º, then remove & roll under my hands til the shells crack off, chop roughly & add to stuffing mix. You can also add water one tablespoon at a time if your stuffing seems dry.

Magnifique & Franklin approved!

It's just another everyday, holiday with jillie

Monday, November 4, 2013

Where I get Inspiration & My Thanksgiving Tablescape!

Happy Monday! I'll be back later today to announce the big winner of the Susan Branch Calendar Giveaway... I am so excited!!

I get a lot of questions from people as to where I find my inspiration & where I buy my decorations. To be honest, everywhere! I find inspiration in window displays, magazines, outside, & talking to people ( I don't have cable but I do get ideas from movies & shows on Netflix, too)& when I did have TV as a child I remember lots of inspiring commercials & shows (oh, trading spaces how I loved you)! 

Where I Get My Inspiration

As to where I find my treasures, three main sources come to mind:

Thrift stores- (I go once a week & find lots of fun things that cost a few quarters & that makes it easy for me to try new things, succeed or fail & move forward), remember the vintage Halloween pictures, those frames were .25¢ a piece!

Clearance- For example, I love Target holiday decor & buying things when they go on clearance is a wonderful way to keep your decorations fresh every year! Over the weekend I went to target & loaded up on Halloween decorations at 50% off. Soon they will be 70% off & I will go back. Sure every once in a while I miss out on something, but my patience is always rewarded with major savings!

 Lastly garage sales- this is where I find large items & vintage items. A garage sale is a great place for outside decorations that are hundreds of dollars new but only a few dollars now. For example back in August, I bought a 9' inflatable santa with LED lights in the box for 3$ (you just have to ask to plug things in before you pay).

One major tip I have for year round saving is to buy year round. If you see a Christmas decoration you want in March, buy it, put it away & forget about it! I have a tote bin in my office year round for decorations, when I see something I want big or small throughout the year I buy it & place it in the bin, put the lid on top & forget about it! Then at the end of September I open the bin & remove & organize the items for the upcoming holidays! It's really fun!

I thought it would be fun to show you my Thanksgiving tablescape for the buffet while also telling you where I got the items, I know sometimes it's hard to come up with places to get things you like & I realized when setting it up this year, I shopped around.

 Thanksgiving Tablescape

1.  An old frame from a thrift store, spray painted gold with a piece of shower wall board to write on (the dry erase markers work just the same!). Dry erase boards are expensive, one this size is 150$ or more! So making this one for less than 20$ was my idea of a good time! We've had it up & used it for about 5 years now & it's still going strong.
2.  Paper decorations make my heart pitter-patter, they're just so delicate& growing up I always had them in my home, in the past, the dollar store has always been a wonderful source for these sweet decorations

3.  Candle sticks make everything festive! These are from Home Goods, & were sold individually for a few dollars a piece.

4.  I love this bowl! It was a Better Homes & Gardens Exclusive at Walmart a few years back & it is just the perfect size for mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving day!
5.  What is Thanksgiving without a peace offering cornucopia?  This one was a thrift store find & I just bought some leaves & berries at Michael's & use some mini pumpkins to make it pop!

6.  Mr. & Mrs., these adorable pilgrims are from Cracker Barrel. That store is such a hidden gem of holiday decor! I always find items to love there & they always have a clearance corner from the season before!

7.  A wreath, I like to use wreathes on tables as well as to hang, I'll switch year by year where the wreaths go & this year it's a great centerpiece for the table.

8.  Turkeys, these turkey candle holders were another thrift store find, I just loved their charm!

9.  Pumpkins, but really any gourds or apples would work, I love incorporating plants & food as much as possible, it's all part of the bounty of Thanksgiving!

10.  Lights; candlelight, twinkle lights, or a dimm-able over head light can make a place feel so warm. I always find a way to layer it in. ( yes, my husband snuck in a toy in this last photo) you see him?

It's just another everyday, holiday with jillie

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Party & Do it Yourself Frosting

Happiest Halloween 2013!! I hope you all had a wonderful time yesterday whether you passed out candy, went trick-or-treating with the babies or hosted a party! Halloween for us this year was a total blast! We hosted some of Sydney's friends & you can see here & here that I've been excited about it all week! Lot's of planning went into this little soirée & I am happy to report the kiddos had a wonderful time! They ate all the food, went out trick-or-treating for 3 whole hours & finished the night with a candy swap & watched movies! It was a whirlwind 6 hours! 

I want to share two things with you this time, the first being my finalized party set up & how I came upon it step by step & the second thing is how to make a piping bag in a pinch & dress up some store bought frosting! So let's jump right in!

 Warning there are A TON of pictures!

Halloween Party Tablescape

The table was a labor of love, a little bit of this with a little bit of that. I started with a black fleece throw. 

Layered on spider webs & made a runner out of one creepy cloth.

 Next I added some lanterns & a brass candelabra. I was sure to give them the spooky treatment. From there I tinkered with my platters & serving bowls. I wanted different heights so I ended up using a two tiers candy dish, a wooden bowl that I flipped over & placed some pumpkins on & a few glass platters. I finally got rid of that red bag of dog food in the right hand corner (I was being lazy)!

You can see I used most of my mood board inspiration. A veggie platter in the shape of a pumpkin, mummy hotdogs, cupcakes, witches brew, lots of mood lighting, & creepy crawly music by Midnight Syndicate

Cupcake Decorating

The second thing I want to share with you stems from one of the many career hats I've worn in my life. In addition to being a teacher I have also been a baker (kinda makes sense, huh?). I worked for a large chain grocery store, Albertson's. It was a fun job, I loved decorating cakes & talking to sweet old women who wanted me to sell them half loaves of bread! Anyway... I wanted to come up with a fun idea for people that don't have time to do from scratch but still want more than the store bought flavors offer! 

So I came up with a super easy way to dress up that can of frosting & make it look pretty too! It's an equal parts frosting & whipped cream.

 Mix together for a creamy smooth frosting. 

Since it's fall I thought pumpkin spice would be nice! 
A heavy shake of cinnamon, nutmeg & clove leaves you with this speckled treat.

 Next comes application. You can smear it on with a spoon & call it a day (trust me it will taste amazing either way), but a fun things to try is also a homemade piping bag. All you need is one Ziplock lunch bag. You begin by flipping it inside out over your hand. 

Then you make a cup in the center, fill with frosting from a spoon & then unroll the bag back over you hand! 

Zip it up & you've got a clean piping bag! 

Cut one corner off. Start small, you can always cut more, but if you make the hole too big from the beginning you'll just have to start all over.

 As you can see it came out nice & smooth, not much height with the heavier frosting, but it looks nice & clean & is not runny.

If you have frosting tips but no piping bag place one in a corner of your Ziplock & repeat.

 If you don't enjoy frosting, you are just like my husband, so with that very same tip see how much height I got from a light fluffy whipped cream, so be creative & decorate your heart out!


It's just another everyday, holiday with jillie