Birds Nest Cookie Treats

Our Easter weekend included some amazing weather, upper 70′s and sunny (a little breezy, but I’ll take it!). We were able to spend some good time outside enjoying the sunshine. On Saturday, Carter played outside in his sandbox for quite a while while I made some fun treats to take to my mom’s house for Easter dinner. Luckily they were quick and easy, and then we were off to see the Easter bunny. Carter seemed a little skeptical of this particular Easter bunny, but all in all it was a successful visit. 

Carter_Easter_Bunny

 When I was trying to decide what to make for Easter dinner, I ran across a recipe for Jelly Bean Birds Nests from allrecipes.com. It reminded me of something similar I had made as a kid. These called for marshmallows as the “glue” to hold the chow mein noodles together. The ones I made in my yester years were held together with chocolate. I went in search of that recipe and found one for chocolate peanut butter nests in the kids cooking section of about.com. I couldn’t decided between the two, so I decided to make both (as I already had all the ingredients on hand except the chow mein noodles). I halved each of the recipes rather than making a full batch of each. Both turned out great. The chocolate ones were a little melty since it was so warm today.

Marshmallow Birds Nest Treats

Chocolate Peanut Butter Birds Nests

Carter had fun hunting for Easter eggs at our house in the morning before heading over to my parent’s house. He pretty much always has a twinkle like this in his eyes, like he’s up to something!

carter-easter-egg-hunting_sm

We had a nice afternoon with my family, eating way too much food and sitting outside much of the afternoon. Unfortunately the cousins wouldn’t all pose together for any pictures. I suppose I can’t blame them, I remember as a kid how much my cousins and I moaned and groaned about getting our pictures taken at every family gathering. Now as a parent I completely understand my mom, aunts and grandma wanting to capture the memories.

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I hope you all had a nice weekend with your loved ones!

Personalized Mother’s Day Gifts

With Easter so late this year, I have a feeling Mother’s Day is really going to sneak up on us. If you’re looking for a special gift for the mom in your life, here are some of my favorite diy personalized gifts that would be perfect for Mother’s Day.

Personalized Mother's Day Gifts

 These are all gifts or projects that I’ve made, click on the links below for full tutorials. 

  1. Etched Mason Jar Glasses -  use your last initial or the first initial of each of your family members. Fill with mom’s favorite beverage – or with orange juice with breakfast in bed.
  2. Double Framed Family Tree - this is a great way to show mom you appreciate your heritage.
  3. Metal Stamped Leather Wrap Bracelet - use kids birth dates or other special dates to mom.
  4. Stenciled Garden Rocks – I made these for my mom last year for Mother’s Day. She loves gardening and also loves personalized gifts, so it was perfect. 
  5. Wine Cork Holder Shadow Box – Does the mom in your life like wine? Create this keepsake for her wine corks.
  6. Circle Inspiration Bracelet – Show mom what inspires you about her with this easy DIY bracelet. 
  7. Beaded Wrap Bracelet – For the bracelet lover, this can be customized with her favorite colors.
  8. Burlap Monogram Letter – a super simple project you can make with a piece of burlap, a sharpie and a frame!
  9. Shadow Photo – my son and I made this for my husband last year for father’s day, it would be perfect for mother’s and grandmother’s too. 
  10. Button Monogram – we all know I love monograms. If you have vintage buttons lying around or spare ones from kids clothes, this button monogram can be a great momento to hang in your home.
  11. Button Flowers – I made a set of these for my mom with buttons my grandmother had given her. It’s one of my favorite gifts to give.
  12. Shadow Box Framed Instagram Photos – frame some of your mom’s or wife’s favorite memories in this quick and easy project.
  13. Hand Written Recipes on Tea Towels – a perfect way to preserve some of your family’s cherished recipes.
  14. Dry Erase Daily Love Message Frame – this is a great project for kids. Ask them each day what the love about mom and write it in the frame as a reminder of what they appreciate about her.

If you’re not into DIY gifts, stay tuned next week for some of my favorite personalized gifts to buy (I know it’s a surprise, but I don’t always make my gifts, remember, it’s called SOMETIMES homemade.)  ;-)

Linked Up At: Show Me What Ya Got; Create Link Inspire

DIY Personalized Cutting Boards

I’m so happy with how my first wood burning projects turned out! These diy cutting boards can be personalized in so many creative ways for yourself or as a gift. You know I had a hard time forcing myself not to do a monogram! Next time…

Wood Burned Cutting Board - CheeseWood Burned Cutting Board - Cheese

*Some supplies links may be linking to affiliate links on amazon.com or other retailers.

Let’s talk monthly subscription box programs. Have you tried any? I have a bit of an addiction. Who doesn’t like getting surprise goodies in the mail?! I feel like I’ve tried them all, not really, but I have tried several – Fancy (random-ness), Popsugar (beauty), Stitch Fix (fashion), and now Darby Smart (crafts). I try to limit myself to just one at a time. I’ve had my eye on trying a craft subscription box for a while. I love the idea of trying something new and that they send all the supplies (and just the right amount to you). Going to the craft store for me is like going to Target, I end up buying things I had no intention of buying when I went in! In this case they provide the supplies and thought starters, you add the creativity.

Last month, Darby Smart was running a deal on their subscription box, and I had been toying with trying it for a while, so I ordered it up and waited anxiously for it to arrive to find out what this month’s project would be. I was thrilled when it arrived and I found a wood burning project inside. It’s like they knew I have been wanting to try wood burning! Inside the box was a wood burning pen, two small bamboo cutting boards, a practice board, some stencils and wood paint. 

Darby Smart Craft Subscription BoxDarby Smart Craft Subscription Box - March

I wanted to make a cheese serving tray with “cheese” in a variety of different languages – subway art style. Since I’ve never done word burning before though, it seemed ambitious. Luckily the box included two cutting boards, so first I chose to create a simple fork, knife, spoon design as a practice. The box contained a piece of scrap wood to practice on too, but I found it to be really soft and burned differently than the bamboo. It was still a good way to try out the different tips though and get the hang of using the tool. 

Fork Spoon Knife Wood Burned Cutting Board

After I had done my first one I was ready to tackle the cheese board. First I designed and cut my stencil with my Silhouette Cameo. I had also read a tutorial on transferring designs using a print out, so if you don’t have a Silhouette, you can still create custom designs. After adhering my stencil to the board, I traced the words with a pencil.

Wood Burning Cheese Tray - Cheese in different languagesWood Burning Cheese Tray - Cheese in different languages (traced stencil)

Then I started burning my words in. I worked on an old cookie sheet so that the wood burning tool wasn’t on anything it could burn (or catch on fire). Using two different tips, I traced the words and filled in the thicker ones. I practiced with each on the scrap wood. For the thicker lines and fills, I used the Universal Point tip. For the more fine lines, I used the Cone Point tip. You need to wait for the tool and tips to cool off before changing tips, so I did all the words I needed to with the thicker lines first and then switched to the finer point.

Wood Burning Cheese Tray - Cheese in different languagesWood Burning Cheese Tray - Cheese in different languages

Bamboo was a great wood to work with. The wood burner flowed smoothly on it. With the softer practice wood piece I found myself getting “stuck” and overburning certain spots.

Here’s the final piece, which I promptly had to go out and buy some cheese to try it out. For me, cheese in any language sounds good! Evidenced by all of our visits to The Cheese Shop on date nights.

Wood Burned Cutting Board - Cheese in other languages

Now I’ll know how to order cheese in several other countries, always a good to know (along with wine, beer, and where is the bathroom)! I looked up translations on the How to Say In site. 

  • queso – Spanish
  • ost – Danish/Norwegian
  • Fromage – French
  • keso – Filipino
  • peynir – Turkish
  • cheese – English
  • juusto – Finnish
  • kaas – Dutch
  • ser – Polish
  • queijo – Portuguese
  • formaggio – Italian

Big miss on my part not including German (käse) since my heritage on my mom’s side is mostly German. 

Simple wood burning is surprisingly easy. More intricate designs would certainly take practice with all the various tips. I made a recipe box with wood burning stamps that I am finishing up and will post about soon. All-in-all, I’m very happy with trying out the Darby Smart subscription box. I’m ordering April’s box too and I’ll see what new thing it inspires me to try! 

Linked Up At: Live Laugh Linky; Whimsy Wednesday; Whatever Goes Wednesday; Create Link Inspire

Urban Classic Kitchen Update

If you’ve been following me very long, you know we did a DIY kitchen update over the last year and a half. We’ve lived in our house for ten years and likely will only be here another year or two, so while we were in dire need of an update, we wanted to stick to a budget.

I’ll do a full reveal in a future post as I still need to finish a few things (unfortunately, the same few things that have been on my list for months!), but I’ve been teasing way too long to not show off some of the progress. Here’s a before and after of the kitchen.

I’ve always had a tough time explaining my decorating style, so when Sauder Woodworking Co. sent out the challenge to define one of their decorating styles I immediately identified with Urban Classic. This was the description I’d been hunting for but just couldn’t put my finger on!

The Urban Classic style is a balanced mix of updated timeless pieces and eclectic finds (or in our house, often made or re-made items). It’s important to us to have a house that feels lived in and easy going, classic but updated at the same time.

In our kitchen we achieved this by painting the original honey oak kitchen cabinets a dark espresso to give the kitchen a more modern look and feel. We also did a diy treatment to the countertops to give them the look of solid surface. Then we painted the walls off white. When we first moved in, I had painted the walls red. I really liked it for a while, but it made the kitchen very dark. This update really brightened up the whole space.

The one splurge and non-diy project we had done in the kitchen was the floors. We replaced the old hardwood in the kitchen and carpet in the dining area. It was really tough for us to choose the color for the floors. While I love the look of dark floors, I knew it would make the kitchen really dark. We also have a beautiful oak kitchen table that was my husband’s great grandparents’, which he refinished a few years ago. We wanted things to coordinate well together, so we chose a medium stain for the oak floors.

To me, the mixing of these different wood tones is the perfect embodiment of Urban Classic style. The dark cabinets are more modern, but the oak floor and table are more classic.

The Iowa wall in the dining area is still a work in progress. We have a few additional pieces to add to it, but not enough to balance it all out yet. I made the Des Moines subway art sign and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve made for our house.

As I mentioned there are a few things I still need to do to finish up the kitchen. The kitchen window is pretty bare with the absence of a shade or curtain. It’s been on my to do list for a while and I really need to tackle it soon. I need to add some additional decor to the walls and above the cabinets. Not too much, but it still seems a little bare. Last but certainly not least, we have a very bare wall opposite our kitchen cabinets.

We really need a little extra storage in the kitchen, so I have looked at various free standing cabinets to store cookbooks, placemats, napkins, and to serve as a catch-all. Sauder’s Urban Classic furniture collection has several really great pieces and one that would fit perfectly in my kitchen, the Carson Forge Sideboard. It’s a perfect size and and very affordable.

After browsing through Sauder’s Pinterest boards, it’s hard not to to be inspired to make a few changes to other rooms in our house. While not for my kitchen, I also have my eye on the Barrister Lane Bookcase. It would be perfect to help me organize our basement entertainment area and corral the toys, books, games and movies. I see wicker or wire baskets working well in this bookcase.

How would you define your decorating style? Are you also an Urban Classic or do you lean more to Vintage Eclectic, Modern Simplicity or a style all your own?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder Woodworking. The opinions and text are all mine.

Linked Up At: Show Me What Ya Got

 

March Wrap Up

Sorry for my unintentional posting absence lately. March seems like it came in like a lion and out like a lion with weather and with life. Honestly though, all is well, I’ve just been preoccupied and a little short on time to post. I’ve done a few new projects recently though, so I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule starting a little later this week – including a few updated pictures of our kitchen update (many months overdue!).

Before I get on with the rest of the month, I just want to say how happy I am that we finally had a few beautiful days we could spend outside this past weekend. Ugh! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram to see what’s going on with our day-to-day.

march-days

The last weekend of February, we went to the Honey Creek Resort in Lake Rathbun, IA. We’ve talked about doing a family trip there with my extended family and renting a cabin, so we thought we’d check it out. Unfortunately it was one of the coldest weekends this winter. They had an indoor water park, but there isn’t much else to do there when it isn’t nice out. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to go back this summer when we can enjoy the lake and other outdoor activities. Here’s Carter enjoying the obstacle course in the pool. It was still nice to get away for the weekend!

Carter-Honey-Creek

We didn’t have a chance to see Todd’s dad and his wife over Christmas this year, so they spent a weekend with us in March and delivered Carter’s present – which was an amazing kid sized work bench complete with tools that my father-in-law built himself. It won’t always live in our living room, but it’s in front of our fireplace until it’s consistently nicer outside and it can be on our porch or in the shed. 

Carter-Workbench

We hosted Flat Stanley for several weeks, and while we were bummed we could only show him the wintery side of Iowa, I think he liked the snow, since he originated from Texas. We even made him a little scarf. Here are a few of the places Flat Stanley was able to see in Iowa – the Iowa State Capitol building, train car in Historic Valley Junction, Sculpture Garden in the Western Gateway, and at the Honey Creek Lodge.

Flat Stanley Des Moines

Project-wise, I did manage to post a few projects in March. At the beginning of the month, I posted the Framed Button Monogram and Inspiration Metal Stamped Leather Wrap Bracelet I made for a gift exchange. I hosted a giveaway for a custom metal stamped wrap bracelet,and Erika B. was the lucky winner! I’m in the process of making her bracelet and will hopefully ship it off after this next weekend.

Framed Button Monogram

Inspiration Metal Stamped Leather Wrap Bracelet

 I didn’t do a lot of baking this month, but I did manage to squeeze in my quarterly baking debacle with this failed attempt at the Pioneer Woman’s Best Coffee Cake Ever recipe. I’m sure it was my fault. Tasted great, didn’t look so good though.

Coffee Cake Fail

 For St. Patrick’s Day I made some of these Brownie Bites with Mint Creme Filling – yum! Mint + Chocolate = Best Flavor Combo. Ever.

Brownie Bites with Mint Creme

 I made Carter a custom IOWISH shirt for St. Patrick’s Day using my Silhouette Cameo and heat transfer material. It was pretty cute to hear him say (coached) “Kiss Me, I’m Iowish.”

Iowish Shirt

 We’ve been making all sorts of creations with fusible beads lately including these Star Wars characters.

Star Wars craft with Perler Beads

In other news, I finally got back to my kickboxing boot camp more regularly towards the end of the month. Now that it’s time to stop hibernating, I need to get back in shape. Time to recommit to my Fitbit and daily step goals too.

We’re working on a big move to a new office space at work. It will be a big change but I’ve been purging a lot of stuff I have no idea why I’ve hung onto through our last move – over 5 years ago! It makes me motivated to do some organizing at home, spring cleaning feels good after all that cabin fever – I’m sure I’ll lose motivation a week in!

Star Wars Craft with Perler Beads

Finding craft projects for boys can be somewhat of a challenge. Carter is generally not interested unless it’s really messy, he can use tools or it involves some of his favorite characters. A few weeks ago I dragged him to Michael’s with me as I got some other craft supplies. I had to convince him with the promise that we’d find something cool we could do. We decided to make some Star Wars characters out of Perler beads.

Star Wars craft with Perler Beads

 A few months ago I stumbled on an idea from Ikea’s blog (LOVE Ikea!) for making Super Heroes out of perler beads which got me thinking about what other characters we could do. I did searches for “pixelated Star Wars” and ended up finding a bunch of cross stitch Star Wars patterns. Cross stitch patterns are perfect for Perler bead projects! My favorites were from Etsy shop Wee Little Stitches. She’s got tons of different characters including Star Wars, Super Heroes, Disney Princesses and countless others. I used to do cross stitch when I was growing up. I haven’t done it for years, but her patterns really give it a modern twist that almost makes me want to try it again. 

pixel star wars characters - wee little stitchesPixel Star Wars pattern - wee little stitches

 We started with the Storm Trooper and just put the printed pattern underneath the clear plastic peg board

Perler Beads Star Wars Stormtrooper

Then once we were finished with getting all the beads put on in our design, we ironed the Perler beads to get them to stick together in our pattern.

Perler Bead Storm Trooper

We didn’t have all the right colors of beads to make a few of our favorite characters, so we decided to tackle C3PO. Carter likes to help count how many beads we need in each row and sort the beads, but for now he wants me to put them on the peg boards. He gets a little frustrated when he accidentally knocks them out of place. He does like to put random patterns together though himself – freestyle!

Perler Beads - sorting and counting

So far we’ve only done the Storm Trooper and C3PO. We’ll get some new colors for our next rainy day activity to make a few others.

Star Wars craft with Perler Beads

 Linked Up At: Live Laugh Linky; The Inspiration Gallery; That DIY Party; Think Pink Sunday

Kiss Me, I’m Iowish

Whether you’re Irish or not, who doesn’t love St. Patrick’s Day? With a name like Erin, I kind of have to have some sort of allegiance to Ireland. Plus, who doesn’t love a holiday filled with mint desserts and beer!? Since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Monday this year, I’ll be working. I decided at least one of us should be festive, so I made a shirt for Carter to wear to school. 

Iowish Shirt

Todd and I both have this Kiss Me, I’m IOWISH shirt from Iowa retailer RAYGUN. If you’re from Iowa or the midwest, you should check out their clever merch!

 Iowish Shirt, Raygun

 For Carter’s shirt, I got a plain green shirt from Target (for $5) and decided to use the flocked heat transfer material from Silhouette. This is the second time I’ve used their heat transfer product with success. The first shirt was for Carter’s birthday and it’s still holding strong after 6 months and several washes.

First I made the design using the Silhouette Studio software using a free Celtic font and a generic shamrock shape.

iowish-silhouette

 Then I reversed the design so that it would turn out the right way when it was ironed on the shirt.

iowish-silhouette-mirror

After weeding out the design, I placed it on the pre-washed shirt and followed the directions on the transfer material for ironing on the design.

iowish-shirt-iron

It came out great! Carter wasn’t cooperating very well for a good shot of the front of the shirt, but at least he’s smiling. Hopefully I can get a better picture of him tomorrow before he heads to school.

iowish-shirt-carter

As for me, since St. Paddy’s Day is on a Monday this year, I’ll be heading to work and not partaking in too much revelry. I did manage to make a batch of Brownie Bites with Mint Creme Filling to bring into the office. Love me some mint + chocolate!

Linked Up At: That DIY Party; Think Pink Sunday; Craft-O-Maniac Monday; Monday Funday; Live Laugh Linky

Pioneer Woman’s Best Coffee Cake Ever – Review

Best Coffee Cake. Ever. Reviewcoffee-cake-bakingThe other day, I had a craving for coffee cake, which immediately sent me to Pinterest to look for a recipe. I ran across one from the Pioneer Woman which she claimed was the Best Coffee Cake. Ever. I’ve had good luck with a few of her recipes that I’ve made before and her pictures looked fantastic.

I had high hopes as I made the batter, which was a little involved, but not terribly complicated for the preparation. It looked pretty darn good as I put it into the oven. The brown sugar/cinnamon crumble on top smelled amazing!

Best Coffee Cake. Ever. Review

Here’s where I admit that once every few months I have a bit of a baking debacle. Not quite a fail, as whatever I’m making usually tastes pretty good but just doesn’t look quite right. The exception to this was some crazy dry red velvet cupcakes that no amount of homemade butter cream frosting could salvage, but I digress… 

I’m not really sure what went wrong. I had decided to forego the pecans she had called for in the crumble on top. I don’t particularly care for nuts in my baked goods. I also halved the recipe. Those are the only modifications I made. Halfway through the 45 minute baking time, I took a peek in the oven. It seemed strange to me that most of my crumble topping was no longer on top, but I figured maybe it would surface again during the rest of the baking process or cooling. It still smelled heavenly.

coffee-cake-baking

I was wrong. All of the brown sugar/cinnamon topping had settled to the bottom of the cake while it was baking. This created more of a crust on the bottom of the cake.

coffee-cake-baked

It still tasted delicious, but it was difficult to cut and very messy. I’m glad I hadn’t made this for a gathering and it was just my husband and I eating it. I’m not going to lie though, we didn’t really mind the fact that it didn’t really look quite right. The taste was really good, not that it’s surprising with almost a pound of butter in it!

Had I read through all the comments before making the coffee cake, I would have seen that there were a few other people who had the same problem as I had. I don’t ever see it addressed as to why it would happen. It may be because I chose to omit the pecans, but I doubt it. That would have likely just made the mixture heavier. 

coffee cake recipe review

I’m not sure if I’ll make this recipe again. I might try it another time just for us, but I wouldn’t make it for a gathering or special event in case the same thing happened.

Has anyone ever had this happen with a coffee cake or crumb cake? Anyone have a go-to recipe for coffee cake they want to share? Now I’m on a mission to find one I like!

Linked Up At: Marvelous Mondays