Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Organizer II

Right around this time last year, I posted about the handy organizer I made to keep myself on track for Christmas. You can find it here.

Well, this year I have something even better! WAY better! I have been using it daily since I discovered it. It is the most wonderful app in the world, called "Santa's Bag".  It is available for FREE in the App Store, so go and download it now!

Santa's Bag is a place where you can save lists for each person you are buying for, enter costs & budgets, track whether your gifts are wrapped, and more awesome things! For me that means no more scraps of paper & notebooks full of lists! (Or at least FEWER scraps of paper & notebooks! I don't think I'll ever get rid of those entirely!) But there's also no more searching to find where I left the lists...it's all in my phone. :)

Here's a peek at Santa's Bag:

These are just a couple of the screen shots with information changed to protect the innocent (sorry Mom, you may not actually be getting wine, cheese & chocolate!)

The icons next to each item on the list indicate whether the item is an idea, something you need to purchase, or something you've already purchased. You can even mark items as "wrapped" when you're all done!

Overall, I think it's a really helpful app & I plan to use it throughout the year!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Silver Christmas Trees

As promised, here are some pictures of the silver Christmas tree candle holders I refinished! While they certainly don't look "brand new" by any means, they look much better than before.

The bases were probably the worst part, and I think those turned out really well.  The part where the actual candle will sit didn't come out quite as nice.

Since I didn't have any silver cleaner product at home, I decided to look online for ways to clean silver. Some of them were just gross (cover it with ketchup & wipe off - yuck! I don't really want the scent of ketchup every time I light a candle!) and some were just too much work. I finally tried a combination of two different ideas. 

First I combined a liter of water with 2 tablespoons baking soda in a pan, and threw in a piece of aluminum foil. After the water was boiling, I dipped in each piece of silver for 10 seconds. It helped, but not as much as I hoped. I tried dipping them for a bit longer, but still not much difference. 

The second thing I tried was a paste of baking soda & water. I rubbed this on the silver pieces and it did take a lot of the tarnish away. I was pretty satisfied with the results, so I stopped making any more mess after that & called it good!

I am also making some progress on the Retro Tree (although my family has informed me that the tree can't be officially "decorated" until after Thanksgiving.) So far I have lights and just got some more new ornaments that I'm very excited about.

These are some Christopher Radko "Shiny Brite" ornaments I found at Menard's, which claim to be a "Vintage American 1940's design"...since I wasn't around in the 1940's, I'll have to take their word for it! But I think they are very cool, and will look nice with my lights & other ornaments on the Retro Tree! I'll hopefully be sharing the end result soon (but after Thanksgiving!!)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A "New" Decoration

Last week I showed you my thrift store Christmas finds, and I just wanted to give a quick update. The brass candle holder/centerpiece was pretty tarnished when I bought it (for less than a dollar!) But I knew I could clean it up. It now has a new home & is looking great!

For now I have my "branch" candlesticks in the holder, but that could change.

I actually made a 2nd trip to the thrift store and found another great deal (more on that one later) but I also found these silver Christmas tree candle holders. They are pretty rough looking now, but I'm hoping to get them cleaned up, too!

Stay tuned to see how they turn out!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Christmas Reading

I forgot to include this in my post yesterday. This is a cute idea I saw while visiting the thrift store for my retro decorations...

If I worked in a library, I would definitely do it. In my home, probably not. But it's still very cute!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's a Retro Christmas

Don't fall over from shock, but this IS an actual Christmas post. I know it's a little early, but lately I've been doing some planning in my head for my "new" Retro Tree. (You may remember that I purchased a tree after Christmas last year that I'm now designating as my Retro Tree).

Today I found some items for the tree at a local thrift store. Not as many as I hoped for, but I do like them & think they'll fit with my theme. I'm also not sure that they are truly retro but that's okay too. My personal criteria to define retro is something that comes in a package that does NOT list a website. I figure the item must be at least 20 years old without a website on it somewhere!

Here are a couple bead strands I found...I'm not sure how well they will show up on the tree, but I thought it was neat, and the price was right!

These glass ball ornaments are just the right size - my tree isn't very big, so some of the larger balls are just too much for it. I think the colors will also go well with the painted ornaments my great-grandmother made (now those really ARE retro!)

The last item I got (and probably my favorite) was this brass candle holder. I think it is made for one of those huge pillar candles (which I don't have), but what I'll probably do is look around for some other way to use this, maybe with a vase or some other Christmas item I already have. Also its not really retro (and it definitely isn't for the tree), but I thought it was very cute, and with a little clean-up & brass polish it should look fantastic!

Total cost for all three things was $1.42!! I love paying "retro" prices for my Retro decorating! I hope to put the tree up this weekend to see how everything looks, and then I can work on it throughout the Christmas season. It will definitely be a work in progress :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

More Fall Craftiness

I know when I wrote my last post, I told you I was really combining 2 posts into one. Today I thought I would share some of the mason jar crafts from the "fall craft day" I had at my house recenty.

These are some of the jars created by my friends, so I really can't take credit for them. But they are so cute!

And here are some better shots of the 2 I made (top pic & bottom middle) the other 2 were made by my crafty daughter. (Yep, I'm getting her started early!

One other thing I have to point out about today's pictures...this entire post (photo collages, too!) was done on my phone. I have a new app, PicFrame, which is great for making collages. It's so simple for non-techies like me. I don't think I ever made anything like this when using my computer. So with the new iOS 7 AND the blogger app, it's a super easy way to blog when you're on the go. (Hint, hint, to my blogger sister, now there's no excuse for not posting!)

Ok, so that I don't sound too much like an Apple commercial, it's time to go...Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Fun with Pumpkins and Mason Jars

Hello! Long time, no blog! :) But that's just the way it goes, I guess. In case you haven't noticed, I have thrown all notions of becoming a "regular blogger" out the door! I've decided to stop stressing over not posting once a week, and it feels great!

Anyway...today is one of those days I just felt like posting. (Well, actually, I felt like it about 5 days ago, but it's taken me this long to actually sit down and do it.) Lol!

Lately, I have been experimenting with pumpkin-themed recipes. There are so many good ones out there on Pinterest and my favorite blogs! I also had a little craft workshop with some friends a few weeks ago where we got creative with mason jars. And since I knew I'd never get around to writing TWO posts, I decided to combine my efforts. 

Here are some of the great pumpkin/Halloween/fall things I've made during the last month:

From the top left corner going clockwise (are you with me?), here's a run-down of what we have:

1) Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
2) Coffee bean mason jar candle holder
3) Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
4) Pumpkin scones
5) Halloween mason jar candle holders

I have to say, my favorite of the mason jars is the "BOO" with the old style witch. It reminds me of the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz. My favorite recipe so far has to be the pumpkin scones (oh, by the way, I also made plain pumpkin muffins, which did not last long enough for a photo shoot) . I have never made scones before, and always thought they would be hard. They just sound so sophisticated! I made these for a breakfast my husband had last week, and I'm glad I was wrong! They were super easy & very delicious! I'm sorry to say, I can't remember where I found the recipe (I looked it up late at night, wrote it down and then made them...forgot to save the website!) I do remember that they are a Starbucks "knock-off" so if you like their pumpkin scones, this is the recipe for you!!  Here it is:


2 cups flour
7 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
6 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 Tbsp. half & half
1 egg

1) Preheat oven to 425 & lightly spray baking sheet or line with parchment paper

2) Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt & spices in a large bowl.  Using pastry knife, fork or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly & no chunks of butter are obvious.  Set aside.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half & half, and egg.  Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. 

4) Form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto lightly floured surface & form into a 1" thick rectangle. (About 9" long x 3" wide). Use knife or pizza cutter to slice dough twice thru the width, making 3 equal portions. Cut those 3 slices diagonally so you have 6 triangular slices of dough. 

5) Place onto cookie sheet & bake 14-16 minutes. Scones should turn light brown. Cool on wire rack.

Now here is the glaze recipe (which is VERY IMPORTANT...and tasty!)

1 cup + 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Combine ingredients & drizzle over scones.  Allow to dry before serving (approximately 1 hour)

The scones were a big hit. I actually made a double recipe, and they were gone in no time. I'm looking for another excuse to make some more sometime soon!

So far that's about it for my fall craftiness. I'm still hoping to come up with a fabulous Halloween costume, get some freezer meals ready to go, and clean off my dining room table (yet again!) in the next week. Stay tuned!