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brown paper packages: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

{beadboard flag}

I {love} the 4th of July.  From the parades, to the flags, to the fireworks, to the BBQs, to the decor, to the very reason for its existence, I love it. 

I'm always looking for fun ideas to decorate my home for the holiday--- something cute and simple.I made this darling flag out of beadboard--one of my favorite things--and I am in love! It's so cute, it can be left up all year long if you like.

Beadboard was perfect for this project because of the lines--easy to paint, and totally straight! This is a really simple project, but the outcome is fabulous.  It's pretty inexpensive too, especially if you go in on it with a friend and split the cost of the beadboard. You can also make it as big or small as you want--I think I'm going to make a giant one for my back porch
  • beadboard, cut to size (16x20)
  • craft paint
  • distress ink
  • sander
  • frame (optional)
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Monday, May 30, 2011

{garage sale tips}

Do you have a pile of unused stuff in your basement?  In your closets?  In your garage?  Are your drawers overflowing with items you no longer use or need?

Have a garage sale!  

It's a great way to clean out your house and garage, plus make a little extra money at the same time.  My friend and I just had our 3rd annual garage sale, which we hold every spring.  It's one of our favorite things to do, and after a few years, we've definitely learned a few things--several the hard way. Okay, so it will take a little work, but don't be scared!  It really can be a fun and profitable way to get organized.

Since this is the height of garage sale season, I thought I would pass on my list of garage sale tips!
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

{where i've been, and a giveaway winner}

It's been a few days since I've posted, but for very good reason.  This weekend was like no other...

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

{piano practice points system}

I'm a piano teacher.

I'm also a mom with kids taking lessons, and I understand how hard it can be trying to help motivate kids to practice. 

I started playing when I was 4 years old, and though I loved it, I remember having a hard time sitting down to practice when it was nice outside, or when I had a good book calling my name.
I totally get it...on all levels. 

Years ago I created a piano points chart--a system to give kids a little extra motivation to practice, and small rewards for working hard and doing well. It works for everyone, because you can adjust the requirements and rewards not only for age levels, but for individual needs as well. Giving them a reachable goal has been very successful.
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{photograpy q&a with Lei}

Hey guys!  Thanks for all the great questions that came in!  Let's jump right in, shall we?

Marcia asks:

I have a point and shoot camera (Sony Cybershot) and want to know how to make my landscape pics "pop" and look gorgeous and different without simply using the landscape setting.

Have you heard of actions?  They run in both Photoshop and Elements. Although, most are available for Photoshop only.  Boo.  Anyway, actions put a whole new spin on your image with just one click.  Or if you are really PS saavy, you can go in and make finer adjustments with layer masks and all that good stuff.  I use the Totally Rad Actions, Kubota Actions, Itty Bitty Actions, and a few freebies I have found around the web as well:  Pioneer Woman and Coffee Shop to name a couple.  Check them out.  TRA (Totally Rad) also has free trial actions that will definitely make you want to buy the whole set. ;)  They are totally worth the investment, and really fun to paly around with, and although there are a billion to choose from, you will quickly figure out your favorites!  If your skeptical, check out their recipes section and see what can be done!  It will blow your mind.

And how do you, using a point and shoot, get GOOD photos to put on your blog?

I think by giving your camera, whatever kind it may be, the advantage of good lighting, you can achieve good enough photos to stand up against other blogs. You should also develop your eye for good composition.  Here's a link back to our discussion on lighting, and our discussion on composition, in case you missed them.  The tips in there are not just for the aspiring professional photographer! :)
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Friday, May 20, 2011

{busy week, quick & easy dinner}

WHAT a crazy week!  I'm sure you can all relate to the feeling of a list so long you need a list for your lists, lol.  Part of the craziness is due to it being garage sale weekend--my friend and I have one every spring, and I LOVE it.  It's a lot of work, but totally worth it (more on that later).  

Dinners have had to be quick and easy this week, and I tried a new crockpot recipe that was a huge hit by the voting majority (which is a miracle in and of itself).  It started out as a green enchilada recipe from my friend Erica that I had been wanting to try, but needed to cut out some time.  Enter in the crockpot, and a new family favorite...

Green Enchilada Tostadas

4 chicken breasts 
2 small cans green enchilada sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c.-1 c. sour cream
corn tortillas
2-3 T. vegetable oil
cheese, shredded
Toppings:  chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro

Place the chicken in your crockpot (I use frozen chicken--even better!), and pour the green enchilada sauce over the top.  Add the chopped onion, and cover.  Cook on high for 4 hours or until chicken is cooked through and fork tender.  Turn crockpot to warm, then stir in the sour cream.  I like more sour cream, but you can add it to your own taste. 

Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet. Fry tortillas one by one until they are as crispy as you like.  Drain on paper towels.  To serve, place chicken mixture on a crispy tortilla, then add your favorite toppings.  We love chopped tomatoes and cilantro.  YUM. 



On another note, Lei will be here on Wednesday for our fantastic photography series.  She is going to be answering any questions you have about photography.  ANY questions, people. 

E-mail her at to take advantage of this FANTASTIC opportunity!  I've added my questions, and I hope you will too.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

{ice pop holders}

I have had ice pop holders on my list forever. I don't know why I haven't done it before now, because my kids are obsessed with frozen Gogurts and are always asking for a rag to wrap around it. Well, now that ice pop season is here (anyone else call them Otter Pops?), it was time to get them done.   

The Silhouette promo for the this month is heat transfer material, and it was perfect timing, since they sent me a really fun pink color that I have been wanting to try.  

This is SO EASY. Like the easiest project ever.  And SO cute!

  • felt 
  • hot glue
  • heat transfer material OR fabric & heat 'n bond
I used felt, because it's easy to cut out, holds its shape, and is really durable. Plus it's CHEAP!  I spent .60 on two squares of felt, and it made 5 ice pop holders (with some left over). I cut it into rectangles, after I held it up to both an ice pop and a gogurt to check for width and height. Make sure to leave a little extra room on the sides for the glue.

Once I had the rectangles cut with a front and back for each holder, I used hot glue to glue them together.  DO NOT USE LIQUID STITCH.  I tried it first, and it was a disaster.  I will probably end up doing mine over, because it ruined a few places on a couple of them, and it will drive me crazy.  :) Glue really close to the edges, making sure to get into the corners.

Once the glue is dry, you can add your embellishments.  Since I am in love with all things monogrammed, I added my kids' initials, along with a small border on the front.  (Century Gothic font, girls = ric rac border & boys = tiny dots border from Silhouette online store)  On the back I added the same border, and a fun little "brrr...".

Seriously people, 10 minutes.  I love that.


Here are the details of the Silhouette heat transfer promo...

A Silhouette SD
1 package white flocked heat transfer material
1 package teal smooth heat transfer material
1 package dark pink smooth heat transfer
All for $219!

If you already have a machine, you can take 25% off all heat transfer material.

Just use the code "BPP" to take advantage of the savings from May 17th –25th!

Click HERE to go straight to the machine bundle!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

{beadboard tags}

My husband was out of town on Mother's Day, so we celebrated this past Sunday. I {love} Mother's Day, because it means no cooking, my favorite meals, and reading in bed all afternoon. This year I was also surprised with something else...

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

{friday favorites}

Okay, so I know it's Saturday, but since blogger has been doing crazy things over the past few days, I'm just now able to get this posted!

I have a few favorite things right now...

Let's start with food, lol.

Chobani Pineapple Greek Yogurt

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

{DIY framed corkboard}

When I made these coat hooks for my mudroom, I knew I needed something to go above them to fill that empty space. I thought it would be nice to have a place where I could leave messages to my kids on their way out the door, or a note for my husband to see on his way in or out.

I thought a cork board would be perfect, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I came up with an answer...a DIY cork board made from an old frame, including the glass! I {LOVE} it!  I spent less than $8, and it's exactly what I wanted!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

{fabulous find}

Heavy trash day is my favorite day of the month.  

Look what I found on my way to church yesterday...

I {LOVE} it.  Seriously love it.  As soon as I saw this chair on the side of the road, I knew it had to be mine.

Now I'm just trying to decide whether or not to paint it.

That old weathered wood is fabulous, but I also have this vision of a distressed red--a pop of color for my front porch.

What do you think?


Friday, May 6, 2011

{cinnamon roll pancake sauce}

Because I am your friend, I'm going to share with you the most divine way to dress up your pancakes possible. It's called Cinnamon Roll Pancake Sauce, and your life is never going to be the same. I would pass this recipe on to your family, and request it for your Mother's Day breakfast--it will make your day!

It takes less than 5 minutes to make, uses ingredients that are most likely already in your pantry, tastes incredible. If you're craving cinnamon rolls, but don't want to make them, just try this instead!

Cinnamon Roll Pancake Sauce

Melt ¼ c. butter

¾ c. brown sugar
2 T. half and half or milk
1 T. ground cinnamon (I cut this in half)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Microwave until bubbly (1-1 ½ min)

1 T.half and half or milk
1 T. flour

Whisk until well blended.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

{4x4 block pencil holder} teacher appreciation gift

You all know how much I love a 4x4 post! I cut one into blocks, and created this really fun, really simple idea that's just perfect for teacher appreciation gift.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

{new look!}

A huge thanks to the immensely talented Kim, over at seven thirty three blog design! She did such a fabulous job, and I'm so excited for my new look!

Ir you're looking for past projects, ideas, and recipes, don't worry! They are now located up in the menu bar, and they are still listed out by project title, so they are easy to browse and locate. If you have trouble finding something, please let me know.


I have even more to share with you!

paper coterie is having an open house, and I have their exclusive invitation + $40 gift credit to share with all my fabulous readers!! Click HERE for your invite, and the gift code!

That's right...through May 6th you can be inspired by Dr. Brene Brown, and then browse through their darling inventory to choose something you love.  There's plenty to love, for sure, so go check it out!!


{photography with lei} candid shots

Did you know that there is a whole photography art form out there known as lifestyle photography? It's fascinating. Lifestyle photography is all about capturing the moment. Like in photojournalism, it's not posed. It's not planned. And to us moms, it's priceless to catch our kids and families in this natural element, doing the things they do, in the way only they do them. These are the pictures we will go back to years and years down the road. They are simple, but they are so real.

Often, though, as soon as we go get the camera, our kids stop "performing" the cute little tasks we desperately want to remember. And we're yelling from the closet as we frantically feel around for the camera bag - WAIT, WAIT, please don't move!

The trick to candid photography, first of all, is to realize that's just what it is. CANDID. Meaning, it can't be planned. It either happens or it doesn't. You can't "force" a candid moment, can you?
Luckily though, they are in abundance. So if you miss this one - hey, it's ok. You will catch the next one. Just remember that sometimes savoring the moment is just as important as capturing it!
That's not to say that there are no tricks to getting those great candid shots. If you are looking for those moments, you can find them at any given time. My advice is to just be ready. If you decide tomorrow that you want to get some great candid shots, then keep your camera within reach all day long. And take as many pictures as you can. I never wait for the perfect shot to happen - I anticipate it. And sometimes I just shoot anyway. And later realize I've gotten something really precious.

You might even want to "set the stage" so to speak. Get out the paints or something that's sure to churn up some sweet shots.

{for this session I just laid out a quilt and gave the kids books to read}

But there is something to be said for having a good eye. You've got to learn how to look for and recognize those special moments that happen on their own. It's easy to fall into the trap of trying to make each shot perfect. And that is what gets in the way of a truly candid moment. Don't worry about the messy face, or what they're wearing, or the toys all over the floor. Don't try and make them smile or look at the camera or heaven forbid, say cheese. Just go with it. Let go. You'll appreciate it more later!
-- Read more »

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

{featured guest...a little of this, a little of that}

Hey Ya'll! I'm Sarah from A Little of This, a Little of That.

A few things about me...

  • I'm a full time stay at home mom of two, with one on the way! I try to soak up all the time I can with my children. I feel like they are growing up much faster than I want!

  • I live in a small Texas town, and love it! As a native Texan, all I can say is, Texas rocks!

  • And of course, I love to CRAFT, Decorate, and Sew!

Over at my blog, you'll find home decor crafts, DIY projects, sewing and much more. I would love for you to stop by!

I have made many burp cloths over the years. This is the easiest kind for me to make for new mommies-to-be, and thought you might like my quick and easy tutorial!
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Monday, May 2, 2011

{candy countdown}

My cute and creative friend Erica, from Snippets of Wonderful is also my running buddy. She came over yesterday for our 19 miler, and brought me this darling candy countdown to our marathon on May 28th.

I {love} it. What a fun way to anything! Vacations, birthdays, races, last day of school, first day of school--you name it! She used a tiny little tupperware that had a lid, but this would also be a great way to recycle some small plastic containers you might have around the house.



{giveaway} chore charts

Good morning everyone! I hope you each had a wonderful weekend. We celebrated my girls' 5th birthday, and it was a crazy couple of days, but really fun.

I have a great giveaway for you this morning, to start the week off! I'd like to introduce you to JoLynn, and her Etsy shop IdahoMomof2.

She specializes in super cute chore charts and custom chore cards...
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