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brown paper packages: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

{tutorial} how to publish your blog

My family blog has now become my scrapbook, journal, and family history all wrapped into one.  I started out scrapbooking years ago, but gradually as I had more children, I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to keep it up.  I was sad about it, because I really wanted to have a place to record our journey as a family, display pictures, and remember not only milestones but all the daily events that make up our life together. 

About five years ago, I jumped on the blogging bandwagon, and it was a match made in heaven. I quickly noticed that I was writing a lot more than I ever had in a journal, or in my scrapbooks, where the photos tended to be the highlight and the text was secondary. Publishing them would make it perfect!
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Monday, February 27, 2012


 I've been teaching piano lessons for a long time, and I absolutely love it. This weekend was our winter recital, and I always like to give my students a little something to let them know how proud I am of them, and to congratulate them for a job well done. 

Whether you are a music teacher, or someone special in your life is a music student, this is a super fun and simple way to let them know that you're proud too! This would even be fun for after a Primary Program---

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

{a 20 minute outfit makeover}

A few days ago I was putting away my girls' laundry in their room, and noticed a plain pair of jeans that they had grown out of--but only length wise.  They still fit them around the waist, so I thought it would be fun to dress them up a little, and turn them into a darling pair of capris.   What outfit would be complete without a matching shirt?  I also found white capped sleeve tee that needed a little face lift, and knew it would be the perfect complement to the jeans. When I saw the Silhouette Free Shape of the Week this past week--a rolled rose--I loved the lines of it.  It was just what I was looking for to complete this outfit makeover!

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

{wood pallet photo display}

I recently acquired a bunch of wood pallets, and I couldn't wait to get going on a list of projects that I had in mind for them.  I had a vision of using them to display family photos, and there was a blank spot in my house that would be a perfect place for it to settle in. 

 I love love love the end result!  The clothespins make it extremely versatile, and I can switch pictures in and out whenever I like.  I've clipped our most recent family pictures, but I thought about displaying past photos that were taken during the current season or holiday. It would be so fun to feature old Halloween pictures at Halloween, Christmas pictures at Christmas time, etc. 

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

{photography with lei} what's in my bag?

So here's the infamous "what's in my bag" post... except I'm also going to chronicle for you where I started and where I am now.  Because too often Mom decides she "wants to do photography" and goes out and buys a top of the line camera that she can't for the life of her utilize to its full capacity.  For what it's worth, I think it's important to start small and build slowly.  So I am going to admit to having some really piddly equipment in the beginning.

My first digital camera was a Sony Cybershot with a whopping 3.3 megapixels.  It was just a point and shoot, nothing fancy, just fancier than anything I'd had before.  Except perhaps the Minolta I checked out and used in high school for a 6 week study in dance photography. (Yes, that was very, very cool}  Sony makes some good cameras, in fact I keep a new and improved Sony Cybershot in my purse for random stuff my kids do at school.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

{custom baby blocks}

A good friend of mine is expecting her eighth child (I know--she's superwoman), and in the weeks before she delivers, has been busy finishing up the cutest baby announcement cross stitch project for the new baby.  It has been a tradition for each of her children, and they are proudly on display in her home.

I love the idea of having a child's birth information displayed, so I created these darling baby blocks--perfect as a baby gift for a new mom, or for your own child's nursery or room. This is a simple project with a fabulous finish! 

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

{a clean home}

 I'm one of those crazy people that likes to clean, and I really love a clean house.  There's something about an orderly home that creates a calming atmosphere, and I find that I can manage the rest of my life so much better if my house is clean.

 I'm a big believer in "maintenance" cleaning, as opposed to cleaning for hours on one day of the week or before visitors are due to arrive.  It's much easier for me to fit in chores around my schedule during the day whenever I can, and it also allows for our house to stay clean as possible with five kiddos and seven people running around.

I'm also a list girl, and so keeping a cleaning checklist just makes sense, and helps me to keep track of things that need to be done not just daily, but weekly and monthly. (I also have quarterly and annual lists.)  This list can be printed out and laminated, and hung on the fridge or other prominent spot.  It could also be placed in a frame, and items crossed off with a dry erase marker.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

{5 minute chocolate mousse}

Valentine's Day is a family day around here, and we always look forward to a really fun dinner together.  I'm all about the dessert though, and to me that means chocolate.  I whipped up this chocolate mousse in about 5 minutes, and it is so creamy and delicious. I served it in small mason jars, with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate.  If you're looking for an easy, quick, and yummy dessert, this recipe is for you!

{5 Minute Chocolate Mousse}

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, checking and stirring every 30 seconds, until you can stir it smooth.  Set aside.  Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form, then add the powdered sugar and beat just until incorporated.  Add the vanilla, then set aside.  In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add the melted chocolate (reserve a little for drizzling) and mix well.  Fold in the heavy cream, reserving about 1 cup for topping.  Spoon until jars or small dishes, top with reserved cream, and drizzle chocolate over the top.  Refrigerate until time to serve, but it's best if you let it sit out for about 10 minutes before serving.


Wishing you a very happy {valentine's} day!  ♥

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Monday, February 13, 2012

{giveaway} the twinery


Happy Monday! It's especially happy, because I have an exciting giveaway from The Twinery for you today!  

I am in love with baker's twine, how can I not be? Why do I love it so much?  Well, I'll tell you.  I am always looking for craft items that are versatile--that will stretch my dollar and that can be used in several different ways.  Baker's twine most certainly fits that criteria, and lends just the right touch to packaging, gift wrapping, as an embellishment on cards, stationery, invitations, and more.  The cost is reasonable---at around 12 cents a yard it's a bargain, especially when compared to ribbon. Okay, and besides all that, it's just so dang cute!  I like that there are so many colors to choose from, and whether you want to stick to the basics, or try to match your wedding or party colors, the options are there.
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

{heart tea towels}

I just love decorating for Valentine's Day, and I especially love when I can make something that's darling, inexpensive, AND simple to make.  Today I have the cutest heart tea towels to show you, and they fit all of the criteria above. It took me less than 20 minutes to make all three, and I {love} them. I read on another stitching project that it was so easy it almost seemed like cheating--and I have to agree!  Their simplicity just adds to their charm, and they will be perfect in my kitchen! These would also make adorable gifts...

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Friday, February 10, 2012

{valentine's day roundup #4: quick & easy projects}

I love the ideas for today, especially because they can all be completed in about 30 minutes or less. If life has been busy, and you've wanted to do something for your kids, spouse, friend, or another special someone in your life, but haven't quite had the time, check out these fabulous ideas! Make sure to check out the free printables that come with several of the projects--not only are they darling, but they'll save you lots of time!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

{valentine's day roundup #3: yummy food}

Okay, so the best part of any holiday is the food, right?  These yummy Valentine ideas are sure to please!


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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

{photography with lei} a valentine story

One trap a lot of photographers fall into is forgetting, or may be even putting off, taking photos of their own families and loved ones.  It's funny that this is usually how we discover we love photography, only to get "too busy" to use our ever improving skills on them!  Of course, you don't always have to get fancy {these below aren't my *best* photos} -  that's a lot of pressure!

I decided yesterday that I wanted pictures of myself making Valentine's cookies with my girls {Kierste's pie crust cookies - yum!}.  We were all dressed down, but I didn't care.  So my husband took a couple of the shots for me, and from there a story through pictures began to unfold... I haven't decided yet whether to have it laminated and bound or printed into a soft cover album.

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{valentine's day roundup #2: decor}

It's day two of our roundup, which brings 14 fun ideas for Valentine decor!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

{valentine's day roundup #1: gift ideas}

I really ♥ Valentine's Day. It's all the pink, and red, and hearts, and candy, and love and darling decor--I just can't resist any of it!  So you can imagine how excited I am about this Valentine's Day Roundup! The big day is coming up soon, so if you're looking for some last minute ideas, this is the place!

Organized by The Dating Divas, I've partnered up with some of the most creative blogs, and we're sharing our best and most popular Valentine projects through the rest of the week--both new and past favorites.  

Today's theme?  Fabulous DIY gift ideas!
Here we go.....

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Monday, February 6, 2012

{giveaway} say it on the wall


Happy Monday!  

This morning I'm super excited to introduce you to Say it on the Wall!  They specialize in vinyl lettering for your home, and they have so many fun ideas and products in their shop. They also offer custom design, making the possibilities absolutely endless.  

Check out a few of their most popular items...
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Friday, February 3, 2012

{15 yummy super bowl food ideas}

We love football at our house, and so of course that includes the Super Bowl.  I'm looking forward to the game, but since our team isn't playing, I'm just not quite as excited as I was last year. (Go, Steelers!)  At least there will be good food, right?  That always makes me feel better. :)  

When I think of Super Bowl food, I think of hearty soups & chilis, yummy appetizers & easy-to-eat snacks, anything bite-sized, and delicious, munch-able treats.  This is a collection of recipes that have caught my eye, and started my mouth watering. they are definitely not diet-friendly, but when you add in veggie platters with low-fat dip, baked pita chips with hummus, or even baked chips with corn salsa, you can fill most of your plate with them, and balance out the calories.  Enjoy!
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

{wooden clipboards...for photos, lists, and more!}

My darling friend Angie sent me the cutest wooden clipboard for a Christmas gift, and I immediately fell in love with it.  I knew I had to make some for myself, implementing a few changes and additions to make it my own. I also came up with a couple of other ideas to go along with it, and I love them all! It's an easy and inexpensive DIY project, and the possibilities are endless.

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