Friday, October 2, 2015

Outdoor Movie Night

Hey there!
I wanted to share something fun we did recently before
the weather got too cold for you to do it, too!

We hosted an outdoor movie party and it was a blast!
Even if we did get rained

It's so fun and easier than you think!
We used a cheap shower curtain for our screen and clamped it to the back fence.
I only wish I'd gotten one a bit bigger or maybe two.

We asked guests to bring camp chairs and/or blankets...
but we had some available also.

I researched inexpensive projectors with USB
connections and chose this one I found on Amazon.
I won't be the next destination for the Sundance film festival,
 but for $58 it works pretty great!

It does have its own speakers but we hooked up
some computer speakers we had along with a spare woofer,
 and it sounded awesome!

We just connected it to our laptop to play the DVD.

Once you've taken care of all the tech's time for food!
Always make sure you have plenty of tasty treats,
but keeping it simple means no stress eats!

In trying to keep with the movie night theme we had corn dogs,
single size candy, and of course, POPCORN!

I think Sara and I made popcorn for almost 2 hours straight in the air popper. Oooof.

I found the NOW SHOWING chalkboard on Amazon,
along with the character concession cutouts and the popcorn bags.
You can find a lot of those things at Hobby Lobby, too.

To add to the fun and let guests participate in the movie choice,
we included a URL to a SurveyMonkey questionnaire.
Invitees were able to vote for their favorite of 3 movies and
let us know what their favorite movie night snack is.

It made it easy to pick a movie everyone would enjoy,
and make sure we had good treats.

Let me say...The Princess Bride in the backyard is so awesome.
As I said, we did get rained out about half way through.
It hadn't rained in our area for WEEKS!!!

Families with young kids went on home...
everyone else helped get the equipment out of the rain
and we finished the movie inside.

Even with the was totally worth it and so much fun!

I apologize for the dark pictures.
It's not easy to snap pics in the dark ;)
I hope you decide to make a movie night...
even if you have to do it next year.
I think we're starting a new family tradition!

Till next time...

Rolling out the red carpet here:

Crafts a la Mode
AKA Design

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Easy Yummy Crockpot Chicken Soup

I think I see fall coming!

That means time for sweaters and cozy bonfires and changing leaves...and SOUP!

Don't get me wrong...I'm NOT ready for what comes after fall...ugh.
For now let's just stick to soup.

Once upon a time I posted about my world famous chicken soup...
I've been meaning to revisit seriously is super good...
you just have to add a little more broth to make it soupier.

This is a variation of that recipe that you can do in the crockpot.
What's not to love about that?

This time I used fresh cut carrots and onions...
well...because that's what I had.
It was worth it and I'd do it again.

I did still throw in a packet of Knorr vegetable soup mix.
It just adds a little oomph.

You need a BUNCH of chicken broth.
A bunch.
Oh...and chicken.
Put it all in your crockpot with some seasonings...

After the chicken is completely cooked, you could take it
out and let it cool and tear it up or cut it into bite-sized pieces...
or you could use a handy-dandy mix 'n masher and just tear it up right in the pot.
Yup. Much easier.


When you've decided it's just about ready,
throw in a couple cups of noodles and let them cook.

Then you're ready to enjoy some seriously good chicken soup.

Totally Yummy, Seriously Easy Crockpot Chicken Soup
  • 3 large boneless skinless breasts, about 1 1/2 - 2 lbs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced and diced
  • 5 - 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I use the jar kind and used a tbsp or so...I like garlic)
  • 2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 packet dry Knorr vegetable recipe mix
  • 8 cups (32 oz) chicken broth
  • about 1 tsp salt, and ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups egg noodles (I used the old fashioned style)

  1. Place chicken breasts in crock pot.  Top with chopped onions and carrots.  Add garlic, olive oil, and spices.
  2. Pour in chicken broth. Stir in soup mix.  Add salt and pepper.
  3. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low about 8 hours until the chicken is cooked and the veggies are soft.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, shred in the pot or remove and cut up.
  5. Add noodles and cook until soft then turn off heat to prevent mushy noodles.

Relish the cooler weather.
Make some soup.
Enjoy it immensely.
You're welcome.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Glam Guest Bath Makeover

I have made it my mission to paint all the cabinets in the house.
Someday I'll even make it to the kitchen.
In the meantime I have finished the 3rd and final bathroom.

This is our upstairs guest bathroom...
otherwise known as Sara's bathroom when she is home.

It started out like this below...usually with more clutter.
The fashion cities wallpaper border never got completely
put up and what was there was starting to fall down.  Nice, huh?

I don't know why there is a yellow hand towel on the rack.

It wasn't horrible...if you don't count the orangey
builder cabinets with no hardware.
But it was time for a change.

You can see my paint samples on the wall below. :)

Ta da!
I went with Sherwin Williams Requisite Gray.
It's soft and a little warm...very pretty and soothing.

I was concerned about doing gray in this room with no windows,
but the satin finish and the lighter color actually seems to
brighten the room instead of make it darker.
Please ignore my elbow.

She's been wanting me to do something in here since

She wanted the cabinets painted and the mirror framed...
and when I told her I was going with gray...
her only request was a plum shower curtain.


Oops. Looks like I forgot to put the little rug back in before I took this shot.
Oh well.
Someday I hope to replace the flooring...but until then this will have to work.

I framed the mirror with some decorative molding, mitered at the corners.
You can find instructions for that all over the place.
I will post some of my own someday.
I also used my favorite Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint
to transform the shiny silver light fixture into something more classy.

She also asked if I could do a large damask stencil on one wall.


You can see it here reflected in the mirror.
It look pretty...but that's something I probably
won't be doing again anytime soon.
But more on that in a later post.

I've decided to do the cabs throughout the house in the
SW Creamy that I started with in the master bath.
To me it's the perfect creamy white but not stark.
I love a little warmth to my white.

The hardware I purchased from this seller again on eBay
because they have great prices and flat rate shipping.

The counter top was done using my same method of
sponge painting and sealed with epoxy resin
like I did in our planked wall powder room.

The faucet is the same as the powder room...these were a
couple of satin nickel faucets I picked
up on clearance at Walmart for a great price.
I couldn't pass them up.

Here is the stenciled wall.
I took out the standard towel bar and replaced it
with antique looking hooks for a little more character.

This actually came from Hobby Lobby and was turquoise.
I painted it with some black chalk paint and distressed
it a little so the turquoise would just peak through.

I'm still deciding if it needs a piece of art in the large space to the left of the towel hooks.

Here's a little closer look at the counter tops.
And a little bit of pretty with a sort of vanity tray and a beautiful orchid.

That's the story of the glam bathroom makeover.
Yes it's a little posh and purple...but I feel it's still a nice
space for Sara as well as any overnight guests we may have.

Oh...and just for a little fun...
I added this bit of vinyl to the front of the tub
 so you see it when you pull back the curtain.

Just a quick before and after.

I wish I could give you a cost breakdown.
But the truth is I started this makeover last fall.
I know, I know...hard to believe it takes that long.
Hey...I did say I changed jobs and it caused a scheduling upheaval.

If I had to guess in my head...
paint, hardware, faucet, curtain, molding for the frame, epoxy...
Probably around $250 or so.
Not bad for an entirely new look without replacing major pieces.

So what do you think?
Way better than the before right?
Sara likes it...I know she won't be home forever...
but I'm confident guests will enjoy it also.

Well...that's all for now, folks.
I do actually have a couple more things waiting in the wings to show you...
I just have to make some final stay tuned.

Until then, remember:
happiness is a choice...choose wisely.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bye Bye Mini Blinds and a Chandelier Makeover this thing on?
Remember me?
I'm that girl that used to blog here.

I was recently looking back at another post where
I was joking about being AWOL for 3 weeks.
That seems like nothing now.

I haven't stopped DIYing or decorating...
I just haven't had time to share any of it with you.
Insert sad face here.

But...TA-DA! I totally changed the look of my dining room with a few simple updates.
I hate those cheap white mini necessary as they may be sometimes.

When we had our dining windows replaced after a storm damaged them,
I knew I wasn't putting the blinds back up.
Here's how it looks now:

And here's how it used to look.
I searched and searched and couldn't find any decent before pictures.
I was so sure I had some...

But you get the idea...even if it's a little Christmasy.

I found the bamboo shades on clearance at Bed, Bath & Beyond for a sweet price.
They were lighter than I really wanted but couldn't pass them up.
I fixed that problem with some Minwax spray stain.

I probably could have done a wipe on stain, but these shades
have a liner and I didn't want it to seep through.

I found a good spot in the garage to hang them and
stretch them all the way out and sprayed away.
It worked beautifully.

I love them because they are cordless and they add
some nice, warm natural color to the room

The next step was to make some straight neutral curtain panels.
Seriously, straight off the bolt...cut, hem sides and ends.
Add a little fusible web at the top for sturdiness. Done.

Once again I used some Onasburg fabric.
It resembles the popular drop cloths but is much easier
to work with and has a super low price.

Once I agonized over the curtain rod I wanted,
then I found the clip rings on clearance.

Now the fun part...
You can see from the inset that this light fixture used to have globes.
I was so over them, but didn't think it made sense to get a new light.

I removed the globes, added some pointy light bulbs...

...and needed something to cover the ceramic bases.
My quest yielded no suitable base covers so I had to improvise.
I'll give you 3 guesses and the first 2 don't count.

Okay, okay...I kinda loathe crafts made from TP rolls...
but in this instance I had no other choice...and they're not handled ever.
I cut them to the size I wanted then spray painted
them with some Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze.
Did you guess correctly?

You can't even tell. :)
I love it! It's like a whole new chandelier!

I love the lightened up look and it will go so well with
the kitchen if I ever get those pesky cabinets painted. :)
I still love red, but prefer to accessorize with it rather than have it be the focus.

See? I haven't been a total slacker.
So what do you think?

I like my new's just really different and when I go home
I don't have the umph to sit down at the computer and work on the blog.
Not to mention all the other craziness of life...and taking the girl to
New York  to settle in for a summer program on Broadway.
Really. (Miss Awesome Pants!)

But I miss you...really.

And I do have other projects that I'm working on and
hope to finish soon...and share eventually. :)

All my love till next time...

Sharing here:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Grandma's Butter Caramels

Hello, strangers.

How's your new year going so far?
I hope it's been great...sorry for you east coast folks...
I know the weather has been making life miserable.

Here's something to keep you busy and give
you something to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Homemade butter caramels.
They are soooooo amazingly delicious!
You'll hide them in your coat pocket so you can find them one afternoon
when you think they're all gone so you can have a sweet surprise!
Oh, wait...maybe that's just me.

These tasty caramels are part of the legacy that is my mother-in-law.
She passed away this past summer after a long battle with cancer.
This post is a tribute to her.

It was 16 years from her initial diagnosis to her death...
and let me tell you, she filled those 16 years with as much life as she could.
She traveled, she had good times with friends and family,
she spoiled her only granddaughter,
and just over 6 years ago she married a good man.
Who says you can't find love later in life?

She was tough, she was a fighter...but she was good-hearted and generous.
Did we always see eye to eye?
Of course not, we're family after all.
But we agreed on the tremendous love we had for her son, my husband,
and her granddaughter, our daughter, Sara.
She raised a son into a wonderful man whom I love more than
anything and I will forever be grateful to this woman.

Okay...on to the sugar.
You'll need a candy thermometer to gauge the temperature so
you don't end up with runny or rock hard candy.

I used a Pampered Chef silicone spatula to stir because they have a high heat tolerance.
You'll also need extra arms, because you'll be stirring and
stirring and stirring until you think the arms you have will fall off!

See? An action shot...of the incessant stirring...

Ahead of time, you'll want to prepare your cookie sheet or baking sheet for cooling.
I used a cookie sheet and lined it with parchment which
I also buttered so the caramel wouldn't stick.

Once they're cool, turn them out onto a large cutting board and use a heavy,
sharp knife to cut them to the size and shape you want.

Be careful.
Caramel is rather hard and you'll be using a lot of pressure on the knife to cut it.
I wouldn't want any of you to injure yourself in the name of sweets.

My MIL used wax paper squares to wrap her caramels.
I don't buy wax paper, so I have always used parchment squares.
The parchment I purchase has a silicone
coating so it works similar to the wax paper.

If you use a smaller pan to cool them, you'll get fatter caramels.
I kinda like them me they're easier to bite...
but that's totally up to you.

You will have to excuse the Christmas tree and packaging.
I had fully intended to get this out to you in time for gift giving.

However, life gets in the way sometimes and we just have to adjust our sails.
So...just pretend these take-out boxes really have hearts
on them and give them away for Valentine's Day!

I asked her one time if this was a secret family recipe because I wanted to share it.
She laughed and said she had found it in some magazine
she could no longer remember and thought they sounded good.
She'd been making them every holiday season
since and loved to give them as gifts.

My husband's cousin's wife (got that?) got the recipe from
me in December so she could make some to take to Christmas dinner.
It was a heart-felt gesture and a wonderful surprise to her MIL,
my MIL's sister, and my MIL's husband.
They were very touched by her thoughtfulness.

A legacy of sweetness.

Grandmas Butter Caramels
  • 1 lb real butter
  • 2 ¼ cups packed brown sugar (I used dark, she used regular)
  • 1 cup Karo syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  1. Mix all but vanilla in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. Continue to stir and stir and stir until mixture reaches 243° on a candy thermometer.
  3. Remove from heat, add vanilla, mix well.
  4. Pour onto a well-buttered cookie sheet or baking pan, spread evenly.
  5. Let cool; cut into squares or rectangles, or whatever your heart desires.
  6. Wrap in wax paper or parchment squares.
  7. Indulge often.

Make some caramels.
Hug the ones you love.