Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gift Ideas from P&G

The holiday season can be a crazy time of year.  There are a couple things I do to try and keep things simple, but still special.

First, I pick only three projects/handmade gifts/whatever, to keep my stress level down.  I know it is tempting to make things by hand with that assumption that it will be cheaper.  I feel the need to tell you, it has never worked that way for me :0)  It always ends up that I spend more money, WAY more time, and get the same effect as if I would have just gone for the gift card.  I am probably totally wrong, but this is what I have observed occurring in my live over and over again.  Do this, find a fun little gift you can buy for Christmas, then take advantage of the spread-out nature of birthdays for those homemade gifts.  That way you can enjoy the holidays right along with your family!  How brilliant am I!?!

Second, we like to read one short Christmas story each night before bed.  This lasts from Thanksgiving night until a couple days after Christmas.  My sweet mother-in-law gave us a binder containing 50 plus said stories when we were first married.  The kids love to flip through the book and pick out which story we should read next.  I love this tradition because it makes me stop everything and feel the spirit of the holidays, sharing the moment with my kids.  {That binder was a fabulous gift.  Put that on your birthday list for next year :0}

Next, I love setting up my Precious Moments Christmas village with the kids.  It's a moment I look forward to all year.  I think it reminds me of setting up house for my Barbies when I was little.  We open all the figurine boxes, lay lights and white fabric across the table behind the couch and spend hours setting up places for all the little guys to live.  Then we sit back and admire the wintry scene.  
Just the thought pulls at my heartstrings :0)

Lastly, I have a favorite cookie recipe that became our Christmas Eve Cookie For Santa.  Santa REALLY likes them!  When I say Santa, I really mean Mrs. Clause.  They are the ones that have to eat them.  They might as well LOVE them, right?
It is really simple, a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but replacing the chocolate chips with Mint M&M's!
You can get to the recipe with THIS link, or just follow the recipe below.

Red's Ultimate M&M'S® Cookies
1 c. Butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 lg egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 120oz pkg of Mint M&M's
3/4c. chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla. In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; blend into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in M&M’S and nuts, if desired. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and centers are still soft. Do not overbake. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container.
These cookies are seriously YUMMY!  You have to try them fresh out of the oven.  

OK, I have a fabulous surprise for you!!!  I have been given the opportunity to tell you about the new gift sets available from P&G, sold right at your local shopping center!  At first, I had to look up exactly who P&G was.  Guess what!?!  It is the very same company, Procter and Gamble, that we have all known and loved for years.  What are some of their products?  Well, I will tell you a few you can find around the Sew*CakeMaker household:
Always, Aussie, Braun, Cover Girl, Crest, Gillette, Ivory, Olay, Old Spice, Oral-B, Pert, Scope, Secret, and Venus, to name a few :0)
Those are just from the Beauty and Grooming line.  They are also the responsible party for names like Bounty, Cascade, Charmin, Dawn, Duracell, Pampers and Tide, among many, many others.  

OK, so I LOVE P&G and I never knew it.  We are kinda brand freaks around here and I think I found just about every brand we are particular about on the P&G list! 

Now let me tell you some great news that will make you Christmas shopping easier this year.  P&G has put together several Beauty Holiday Gift Sets, all retailing for around $10!!!  I already have a couple picked out for lucky people on my shopping list.  These Gift Sets are the perfect gift for those people that already have everything, who are super picky, or people you just don't know what to buy for them {like teachers}.  Who can't use Health and Beauty products?  Answer: Everybody can use them!  Tomorrow, Emmalee and I are going to hit the stores and see the kits first hand, but you can check out the P&G Facebook page and read more about the Holiday Gift Sets.  

That is not all!  P&G has given me my very own gift basket worth somewhere around $90 and one more to give away!!!
Yep, you too can have a fabulous P&G gift basket delivered to your front door just in time for the holidays.
Here are more pics of my Gift Basket...
One of the "Affordable Luxuries" Holiday Gift Sets.  This one smells FABULOUSly of Orchids.

Natural Instincts hair color and Crest White Strips.  I needed the White Strips like something awful :0)
I actually had them on my list to try.  Score!  Now I get to try them for FREE!!!

The Ivory, Lavender scented body wash, smells heavenly.  It makes me want to take a shower just sniffing it. Really, you need to track this one down at the store and give it a whiff :0)

Last, but not least, the Cover Girl products, Lash Blast Mascara and Shadow Blast eye shadow in a pen!!!
I have you interested now, don't I :0)
You can get entered each time you do one of the following.  Here is what you need to do: 
  1. Follow P&G's Facebook page {you can get there by using clicking HERE} then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did it.
  2. Follow Me on Facebook!!!  You can follow the Sew*CakeMaker page by clicking HERE.  Then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did that. 
  3. Follow my blog-comment telling me you are either a new follower or that you are already a blog follower.
  4. Leave a comment telling me what you do to make the holidays special, simple, or both!  
  5. Follow me on Pinterest, then come back and leave a comment telling me you did that.
***Please remember to come back and leave a comment each time you do one of the above entries.  That is how I will keep track of the entries.***

That's it!  So super easy.  Four chances to enter.  Get started and I will be back on December 5th at 10pm Arizona time to announce the winner.  Good luck!  I am rooting for you :0)

Photos Begging To Be Posted!

I had to show you these pictures I took tonight!!!
They are of my friend Ann's gorgeous family.  She is so cute and the boys are just so handsome, it really was a pleasure to take their pictures.  The photo above turned out so {amazing} I couldn't resist putting it right on the blog.  I have sure been having fun with my new camera lens. I bought the 50mm f/1.8 AF-S a little while back and have LOVED IT!!!  The clarity of my photos has jumped by leaps and bounds.

I took Ann and family to the local tire dump for a few fun photos.  The boys seemed to enjoy the location.  They were rolling tires all over the place.  Did I mention that my Eli came along to "help" me photograph his buddies.  I am not sure if he was helpful to me, but he sure "helped" Ann's boys discover new ways to play with tires.

This one is as close as we get to snow here in Phoenix :0)
We found a fabulous cotton field, all ready to harvest.  These fields really are amazing when the leaves all die, leaving behind huge, white cotton puffs.  Driving by cotton fields like this seriously looks like fields of snowballs, but these snowballs never melt...they are just harvested :0)

Look at those handsome boys.  I love to see brothers close like these two.  You can take one look at them and know that they will be best friends their whole life.
What a fun family. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

If You Get Vanessa On Pinterest {Christmas Edition}

I don't know if you have been yet, but Pinterest is AMAZING for new ideas.  I have received so much holiday inspiration, I am speechless...yeah, right!  Not speechless, but definitely inspired.  The only problem is, once you get started pinning, you just pin and pin and before you know it you are all crafted out and never once did you touch a glue gun.  What a shame.  Here is my most recent trail of crafty distraction.

I innocently enough started out on this website. I saw something in the background when the pin flashed across my homepage and I wanted a closer look.  Well, there should be a warning sign...scratch that, a FLASHING warning sign because these trees are criminally amazing. I now need a new tree.  But not just a tree, because shortly after leaving that pin, I found this...

Who doesn't need a ruffle tree skirt?  No one, because EVERYone NEEDS a ruffle tree skirt made from hand dyed fabrics :0)  This is seriously on my list.  If I could only decide what color my ruffled tree skirt needs to be I would be in business.  Do I go tea-dyed muslin, or should I be bold and go red???  The questions troubling our universe can wait because Vanessa SewCakeMaker is trying to decide on a tree skirt color!!!

Wait!  If I have a smashingly fabulous tree skirt, my tree will still need a little something more than just decorations.  I saw this pin yesterday.  Sadly the link was just for the picture above, but the following was the crazy awesome idea that went along with the photo:
For the Christmas tree- Glue 2 of these, back to back and insert a silver metallic cord for hanging. Fill the insides of the tree with these after putting on the lights, but before putting on the ornaments. The sparkle will be tripled.
My tree NEEDS to sparkle! 
Put mirrors on the shopping list :0)

Wait, with a sparkly tree, I will need fancier ornaments.
Another no-source link on Pinterest.  Here is the caption though...
Spray paint through lace onto clear ornament. LOVE.
I can totally do that.  I have both ornaments and spray paint left over from other projects!!!
Let me go check on the left over spray paint...{dig, dig, dig through boxes in the garage...What is this?  an old book?  Wait!  There was a pin for that!}
I LOVE book art!  This one is suspiciously easy looking too.  
Gosh...I am getting kinda thirsty!  How about I get us both a cup of...wait for it...

Candy Cane Punch, by Taste of Home
What recipe from Taste of Home wasn't just STELLAR!?!  I'm just sayen', make the punch, prepare for praise :0)

While I am in the kitchen, I think I will bake up a little Gingerbread Nativity {LOVE} in my very own country oven.  Yep.  This is actually high on the real to-do list.  I think the kids would remember it the rest of their lives, remembering this one time like we did it every year {ever do that with your own parents-they did something really fun once and you remember it like it was the yearly tradition}.  That is my family this year with the nativity :0)

While the kids are in the kitchen, we might as well whip up a batch of Candy Cane Playdough for all my  munchkin's friends!  How cute is that!?!  I can see this playdough being such a cute present to give.
I be it smells good too. 

Now the kids are hungry...and I am craving peppermint.  We might as well make Santa some Cupcakes.  The candy cane as the pole is about the cutest cupcake topper I have seen for Christmas in a long time.  Madison has these at the top of her Gotta-do.  I would like to hire someone to make the signs though, cause I don't feel like it today {lazy}.

Remembering Santa reminds me that I have been meaning to re-vamp our stockings for some time...OK, many YEARS.  The stockings we pull out of the storage box year after year were made by my very beginner hand about 13 years ago.  I made them out of felt and can tell you every mistake I made way back when.  Making Stockings is number three on my MUST-do this season.  I actually am trying to find out how to bleach fabric to make my stockings a little shabby chic.  Stay tuned for that one.  

While in the living room measuring for stocking placement, I was reminded of this pinned project that will sit nicely next to the fireplace {trampoline cabinet, but who's keeping track}..

Brilliant!  Lets gather up all those Christmas themed books, wrap 25, and use them as an advent that won't accelerate the rotting of teeth!  Here is a little activity that includes time together.  Love IT!

Looking at all the books I start to notice all the cute Christmassy pictures.  They remind me that I haven't taken our SewCakeMaker family Christmas Pictures yet for the Christmas Card!!!

How cute would this one be!?!  I think I better start making that felt garland while I am at it!

This one would be darling too.  Oh!  Lights!  I haven't even pulled out the lights for the house yet!  All my neighbors had their festive bulbs shining when we pulled into the driveway from our Thanksgiving getaway.  
I walk outside to survey the roof, when I realize the front door is looking a little bare :0}  Better fix that too!

I think I need to make a wreath for the door.  This one will do.  It is only totally AWESOME!  I could totally do that with all my scrappy paper!  Score.  Cute wreath, plus less crap in my scrap drawer!

But you know what?  There is one more thing missing from my Christmas prep...

How on earth is Santa going to get into our messy, non-decorated house if all we have is a trampoline cabinet for a fireplace????  I know!  There was a pin for that too :0)  Make a Key for Santa!  We can hang it on the door.  Here is the cute little inscription on the note for Santa's key...
Dear Santa, This magic key works just for you, Please open the door and come on through. Thank you for coming to our house tonight. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Thank you Santa for the gifts you bring. Thank you Lord for everything.
Ahha!  Isn't that the whole point.  Thanking the Lord for EVERYTHING!  
Love it.

Whew!  Now I am so tired and my brain so over-stimulated that I must go lie down and eat a cookie.  That's ok, because I have promised myself not to go onto Pinterest tomorrow until I get my jobs done!
And in all reality, I have sworn not to do too much this season.  I want to enjoy the moments with my little ones, because soon, they will have little ones of their own.  I don't want to miss a moment. 

Here is my list.  I have allowed myself three of the above mentioned things:
1-Tree Skirt-really no way around it
2-New Stockings-it really is time!!!
3-Key for Santa.  I think my kids will love this completely
That is it.  I am not planning anything else until I get those three things done.
Happy Holidays everyone!  And feel free to check out my Christmas board on Pinterest to see what else you might need to make this season :0)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

As We Give Thanks

I have been dreaming of making this centerpiece and mini boat place cards for about a month.  I finally got the wood cut on my saw yesterday, then painted and decorated today.  It is just the day before Thanksgiving.  Not last minute or anything :0)

Regardless of my belated intentions, I am THRILLED at how everything turned out.  The wood was a little tricky to cut.  When my wild imaginings worked out, I figured out how to tilt the saw table and transfer the pattern after the first cuts had been made, I was so excited I kept trying to think of who I could call to celebrate with.  Then I realized not one soul on earth would be able to feel my joy at such a strange thing as a pilgrim ship centerpiece, so I gave my kids high fives {that would be low fives for me :0} and went to my chiropractic appointment.

Still thrilled.  I cut the wood-used a 4x6 beam and cut the top of the boat, then re-drew the pattern and shaved off the sides.  I drilled holes for the dowels, then made sails from velum. 

***update***After requests, here are my best guesses at the measurements of this ship.  It didn't fair very well in all our moves since posting this.  I would NOT recommend using velum if you plan to move.  Perhaps a stiff fabric would be a better choice ;0}  Measurements:

The ship is 15" long, cut out of a 4x6 log. It is 4" tall, and 6" wide at it's highest and widest 

parts.  The front dowel is 10" long, 1/2" inside the boat. The back is 8.5" long. The middle

 dowel is  lost in the box somewhere, but I would guess  it being about 12.5" long with 1/2 

inch inside the boat. As far as the sails, I thought I had a  printable on this computer, but I 

can't find  it. It must be on the older one. It isn't hooked up and finding a time my husband

and I are  

 both here is fairly rare, so I will just give you  measurements. Front dowel, bottom sail, 5.5

 across the top, 7.5" across the bottom, and 4.5"  tall. Top sail-5.5" across the bottom, 4" 

 across the top, and 3.2" tall.

Now for the back dowel. Bottom sail- 6.5" across the bottom, 4.75" across the top, and 4" tall.

  Top sail- 4.5" across the bottom, 3.5" across  the top, and 3" tall.

Middle dowel...Bottom Sail-9" across the bottom, 7.25" across the top, 6.5" tall. Top Sail- 

6.5" across the bottom, 4.75" across the top, 4"  tall. 

Those are all educated guesses, but I think they will be fairly close.

I tried to add a little bling with micro beads and Elmer's craft glue.  I think I should have used regular school glue because the craft glue was a little thick.  I didn't get the thin, dainty swirls I was going for, but oh well.  I still like the accent of the beads.

I hot glued the sails in place so they would stay bowed out, then added ribbon to the tops where the flags usually were, and added the pumpkin to the top as the bulb.

I will never claim pro level when it comes to floral arranging.  In fact, I wouldn't get anywhere near it, so I am still a little worried I went a little overboard with the garland, but again, Oh Well!  I like this garland.  It has little pumpkins all over it.  So cute!!!

So I also made place markers for everyone that will be at our Thanksgiving this year.  I printed on the velum, then cut each sail out.  They were decorated, hot glued in place, and then floralled-up just like the big boat.  

I left all the guys sails without beads.  I just couldn't decide if I liked them or not last night, and figured the guys would probably like less decoration if they will even notice the boats, right?

I let Emmalee and Eli paint their boats themselves.  This was one of those "good mom" moments when I let go of my OCD and let them explore their own creative sides :0)  I should get brownie points I think.

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner.  Last year we were traveling and ate at 9pm at a casino in Mesquite, NV on our way to see Grandma.  Sniff, sniff.  Thanksgiving is going to be really hard this year for it will be our first in Arizona without at least a quick trip to see my Grandma.  Now there is just this empty space in my heart.
Even still, Thanksgiving is a special holiday for me.  Showing gratitude is not always easy and I love that we have the excuse to show a little feeling.  Sharing what we are grateful for around the Thanksgiving table is something I look forward to and is often a moment in time I think back to when things are hard. 
Happy Thanksgiving and Thank you for taking the time to visit :0)

Many thanks and lots of love,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fall Cake Pops

I just finished up a quick cake pop order and thought I would throw it on the blog to show you.  I love an excuse to play around with cake pops.  It is even better when someone else orders them so you, 1-don't have to pay for the project yourself, and 2-don't have to eat the product of your efforts :0)
I made 75 sets of cake pops last night.

I used the paper straws as sticks again.  That will be a must from now on.  Not only are they so very adorable, but I really think the cake balls stay on the straws better than on sticks!  Who would-a thunk?

I admit I was a little worried about using blue almond bark for fall pops, but in the end, I LOVE the colors.  I dipped one pop in each set in a burnt umber color and sprinkled them with fall leaf sprinkles {purchased at Micheals}.  The other pop in each set was dipped in a blue bird blue almond bark and drizzled with milk chocolate and the burnt umber almond bark.  This little project is getting me in the mood for Thanksgiving!!!  Speaking of Thanksgiving...I need to start my grocery list!!!  Nothing like waiting until the last minute when it comes to a big family gathering :0)  Good luck to you with your preparations!!!! 
May your Thanksgiving be delicious...
and crafty :0)  {we should always find a way to sneak that in, right?}

Monday, November 21, 2011

Senior Pictures {Guy Love}

If you have been around the blog for any amount of time you know that I am a lover of all things {RANDoM}
The fabulous thing about photography is that it fits the bill perfectly!!!  I love that in one photo session we can take such a variety of photos in all different locations.

This is Skyler.  I had so much fun shooting Skyler's Senior Pictures.  First of all, we found an AMaZinG place to take the pictures, and then I got to see Skyler come out of his shell and even...dare I say...enjoy himself!!!
I had a great time trying to get that kid to smile.  Even though he was relentless about not showing any teeth, we were able to get some fabulous shots and even enjoy the process.

This is my favorite shot.  LOVE IT!!! 

This is where the random part comes in.  I really felt like the pictures should show the kid in Skyler.  One day he will look back at these pictures and should be able to remember that kid he used to be.  

Skyler is really into media production so we had some fun in the studio at the high school.  

I love this picture :0) 
You know how Seniors own the school, right?  Well, I like how he is rocking the hallway in true Senior Style.
Right down the middle like he owns the place.

So fun!  I really wanted to stay away from hay bales and flowers for Skyler.  He doesn't strike me as the county bumpkin type and I am glad we were able to find some fun places to take his pictures that suit his own personal style :0)

Novelty Print Quilt Pattern

I have had a hard time finding good quilt patterns for novelty prints the past couple times I purchased them.  I made up this pattern so tha...