Thursday, February 9, 2012

Make Your Own Picture Cards for Valentine's Day

I'm so sad that I am just now taking advantage of This very awesome website lets you edit your photos and so much more for FREE! Unfortunately, the website is closing in April...Sad, sad, sad! Since they're closing in a few months, you can no longer create an account, but you can still upload your photos, edit them and save them straight to your computer.

My original idea for my Valentine's Day card was to take pics of Jack with lipstick prints that I put on him. Um, yeah...that didn't work out so well. Here is an original pic with my lipstick prints. He looks like he has some kind of rare disease! Poor baby! Not to mention, a busy baby + red lipstick + white pillows as a background = no bueno.

Enter Picnik to the rescue. I photoshopped my smudges off and added some much better lipstick graphics from Picnik. Then I added text and about 15 minutes later I had my Valentine's Day card made. Next, I saved it to my computer, sent it to, ordered my prints and an hour later they were in my hot little hands! Can't get much easier than that!

I dressed my cards up a little, but they would be adorable sent as just the picture too!!

What You Need:

Mounting squares or double sided tape
A corner hole punch (If you don't have one of these, just use the cardstock by itself)

1. Trim cardstock to fit your pictures. I trimmed mine into 5 1/2 x 6 inch rectangles. Punch corners with decorative hole punch.

2. Use mounting squares or double sided tape to mount your picture.

3. On the back I wrote Jack's full name, age and the year.

I used red envelopes that I found from some old Christmas cards I never used. If you don't have envelopes, you can buy them at craft stores. I know I'll be taking full advantage of Picnik until April, I hope you'll check it out too!

Don't forget to check back later this weekend for more Valentine ideas!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Funny Valentine

I was at a friend's birthday party a few weeks ago where the hostess had set up a photo booth. It was too much fun dressing up in silly props and taking photos for the birthday boy's album (mind you, this was an adult only party). One of the favorite props was a mustache on a stick, which seems to be all the rage these days. (You know, "I 'mustache' you a question..." haha...)

So, when I came across this idea on Pinterest, I knew I had to make these as Valentines for my second grade class. I figured if us adults had fun with the silly props, my students would love them. I found this picture on Pinterest, but couldn't find a link for templates and directions, so I did some "Googling" and found free templates, then recreated the lollypops myself. 

What You'll Need:

* Red (or pink) and brown (or black) stiffened felt

*Tootsie Pops (I used the cherry Valentine assortment) 

1. Print templates on cardstock and cut out.

2. Trace template with a marker onto felt.

3. Cut out felt shapes.

4. Using sharp scissors, make a hole on the traced side-up of the felt.

5. Insert lollypop stick on the traced side of the felt.

6. Flip lollypop over where the clean side of the felt is showing.

I know my students will love these funny Valentines! Be sure to check back later this week for more  Valentine ideas.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Are you as excited about Super Bowl Sunday as I am???

Ok, let's face it...the only thing that really excites me about the Super Bowl is the food served at the party (and sometimes the commercials). If you're like me, Super Bowl Sunday is more about catching up on the latest gossip with your girlfriends and snacking than actually watching football. (Although I may be more inclined to watch this year due to the very nice eye candy on the field, i.e. Tom Brady)

Whether you look forward to the big day for the football or the food, these snacks are sure to score big with everyone. Happy snacking!!!

"Baked Potato" Dip

My good friend Reba introduced me to this recipe and it has become one of my favorite "go-to" party foods. Don't let the name fool you, this dip is completely potato-less! However, it does taste like a baked potato because it's made from the best part- the toppings! (Though you may want to save your diet for another day).


16 oz sour cream
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8oz cream cheese
1 package real bacon bits


Mix all ingredients together. Bake on 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until slightly browned. Serve with your favorite crackers. I prefer it with Club or Wheat Thins, but you could pretty much serve this cardboard and it would still be decadent!

Jalapeno Corn Dip

This is also a favorite, and was also introduced to me by my friend Reba. I love this dip because it tastes super fresh, and the spicy jalapeno and sweet corn make a great flavor combination. This is also one of my hubby's favorites. 


2 cans MexiCorn (I used frozen super sweet corn because that's what I had. If you do use frozen corn, make sure to thaw out, not cook)
8 oz sour cream
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 green onions, chopped (I am not a fan of onions at all, so I eliminated them)
3 seeded jalapenos, chopped (I'm what my grandma calls a "pepperbelly," (I love things super spicy) so I actually ended up using 5 jalapenos and only deseeded 3)


Seed and chop jalapenos and mix with corn, sour cream, mayo and cheddar cheese. I think this dip is best served with Fritos, but it's also good with plain tortilla chips. 

Bacon, Cream Cheese & Jalapeno Poppers

These are a Pinterest find. I served them at my "Pinterest Party" back in October and they were a big hit. These would make perfect snacks for your Suberbowl party too!


1 can Pilsbury Crescent Rolls
4 oz cream cheese
1 large jalapeno, rough chopped
1 package bacon, fried, drained and chopped


Fry bacon until crispy and drain well. Chop into small pieces and set aside. Seed and chop jalapeno (into bite size chunks), set aside. Unroll crescent triangles onto baking sheet. Stuff with bacon, cream cheese and jalapeno. Fold crescent roll into knots. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake

We had company over the weekend and decided to serve fajitas for dinner. To keep with a Mexican theme, I decided to make a sopapilla cheesecake for dessert. It's more of a cheesecake roll type dessert than actual cheesecake. While there are many recipes out there, I decided to go with one from the Pillsbury site. This would also make an excellent breakfast dish- I know I certainly enjoyed the leftovers with my coffee this morning! 


16 oz cream cheese
2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet (*Note: I could not find these, so I used regular Pillsbury crescent rolls)
1 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted


1. Unroll one can of the crescent rolls into a 9 x 13 pan. 

2. Mix together the cream cheese, vanilla and 1 cup sugar and spread over the first layer of crescent rolls.

3. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls over the cream cheese mixture.

4. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

5. Pour the melted butter over the top layer of crescent rolls and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture over the top.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Warning: You might have to pour dish soap on this after your first bite in order to stop yourself from eating the whole thing- it's that good!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Frame Wall

I've always wanted to do a frame wall, but never really thought I could pull it off. When I came across this one on Pinterest several months ago, it inspired me. For the past several months, I've been collecting pictures and what-nots to put on my wall. Finally, with the help of my husband, I have a frame wall in my house! I absolutely love it. I think it makes the whole room feel warm and inviting. Looking at it next to the inspiration photo, mine looks a little sparse, but I will keep adding to it.

My inspiration

My wall

I have to give a special thanks to my wonderful father-in-law who built this beautiful console table for me. I gave him a picture from a magazine and he replicated it. He's amazing! Next, one of my favorite touches on my wall is the watercolor on the lower left corner. It's the first house my husband and I lived in- a lilac cottage that will forever be imprinted in my heart. Mimi had it done for my birthday- so special! And finally, I loved what the sign said in the inspiration picture- "Our Life, Our Story." I couldn't find a sign anywhere that said that, so I bought an old piece of painted wood at the Roundtop/Warrenton Antique Fair and did it myself. My handwriting isn't the best, but it will work!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Much Fun!

I saw this idea for puffy snowmen on Pinterest and knew I had to try it out with my 2nd grade class. It turned out to be "snow" much fun (sorry, but I just can't resist a good pun!) I will most definitely store this craft in my files and do it with Jack when he's a little older. It's a great craft to do with your kids on a rainy day or anytime really. It's a little messy, but trust me, you will have as much fun making this craft as your kids do!

What You'll Need:

Regular glue, foam (not gel) shaving cream (You could also add food coloring to make colored pictures. I think making a rainbow would be super cute.)


Mix equal parts glue and shaving cream. We used plastic forks to spread it, but you could use paint brushes, or even your fingers if you really wanted to get into it! The concoction dries puffy- it's too cool!

These are some my students made. 
We used ribbon, construction paper and google eyes for the accessories. 

I recommend reading Snowmen At Night by Caralyn Buehner to go along with this activity. It's one of my winter favorites. I had my second graders write a creative story about their snowmen coming to life. They turned out so cute!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gourmet Weeknight Dinner in a Snap!

These recipes are too good and too easy not to share! They're simple, quick and super tasty. Great for an easy weeknight dinner or would also be great to entertain. This first one comes from my favorite Food Network star, Ina Garten. 

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini 


Vegetable oil 
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • 3/4 pound linguine 
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, zest grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

  • Directions:
  • Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.

    Meanwhile, in another large, heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
    When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

    Pesto Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls
    A friend of mine made a pesto cream cheese crescent roll "pizza" as an appetizer last week for a meeting and I fell in love with it. Then I saw pesto crescent rolls on Pinterest cut like cinnamon rolls, so I married the two ideas and got a great little side for my shrimp scampi linguini. 


    1/2 cup pesto
    1/2 cup cream cheese
    1 can Pilsbury crescent rolls

    Roll out the can of crescent rolls

    Spread 1/2 cup softened cream cheese onto crescent rolls

    Spread 1/2 cup pesto onto cream cheese

    Roll into a log

    Cut into rounds and place into a baking dish as pictured above. Allow 8-10 minutes more than the maximum cooking time on the package of crescent rolls. Yum!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Perfect Roasted Veggies in 20 Minutes

I love the flavor of roasted veggies, but hate the time it takes to do it in the oven. My Mimi taught me a little secret to achieve the flavor and texture of roasting, but in half the time. Her secret weapon? The microwave. These veggies come out perfect every time and are a super low cal side dish, or depending on what veggies you use, can even be hearty enough to make a meal on their own.

Choose your favorite in-season veggies. Here I used butternut squash, turnips, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and carrots. To make a heartier mix, you could add in some sweet potatoes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop veggies into bite-sized portions. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over them (2-3 teaspoons), salt and pepper them, toss to coat and pop in the microwave for 15 minutes (in 5 minute increments.) Notice that I have a full baking dish, so mine took the full 15 mins, but if you are working with less, yours may take less time. When the veggies are tender (your fork should be able to pierce, but not go completely through), transfer your baking dish to the preheated oven. Cook at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Perfection every time!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, Old Me

Happy New Year friends! Sorry I've been MIA since before Christmas, but I've been enjoying some much needed r & r with my little family. We had a super busy Christmas and then left to ring in the New Year down at the coast. We did a whole lot of nothin' while there and it was wonderful!

One evening while watching the sunset on the deck, I began pondering my "New Year's Resolutions." I quote that because, let's face it, we all realize the irony in that statement. A lot of people say they don't even bother to make them, but I usually do. I love a fresh start and most of the time I even have a sliver of hope that I'll stick to at least one. But this year, I started thinking backward instead of forward. Instead of thinking about what I could do to be a new and improved me, I started thinking back to times when I felt the best about me. Times in my life and things that I've done that made me feel good. I mean, I figure if I have done it before, I can do it again, right? Maybe it's just the same game, different name, but here are a few things on my list of things to get back to (in no particular order):

Reading: For as long as I can remember I have always been a bookworm. A good book becomes an obsession for me, an infatuation...I literally will think about it all day long until I can open it again and then I will think about the characters like they're friends of mine when it's done. But, when I got pregnant I only read pregnancy or baby related material for 9 months. Then when Jack was born, well, you know how that goes... picking up a book vs. sleeping? You know what won. Now that I'm getting to bed at a semi-decent hour again, I'm ready to have my reading time back. Plus, I got an iPad for Christmas and I'm itching to have my first e-read. Any suggestions?

Journaling: I have journal, upon journal, upon journal from high school and college, but for some reason after college I just put my pen down. I love to write, whether it's about my day or whatever, and I miss it. Curling up with my journal and pen and letting my thoughts escape my head was the cheapest form of therapy I've ever had!

Jogging: I'm notorious for being a bandwagon exerciser (and dieter), but at one time, a couple of years ago, I really got into jogging. (I'd like to say 'running' but really, I'm sure I never got faster than a jog). I really stuck with it for a few months and it became like a drug. If I missed a day, I missed that feeling, that rush. I loved challenging myself to see if I could make it one more lap. The best part of jogging for me is that it literally is the only time my head ever feels CLEAR. I crank my music so loud that I can't possibly hear myself think and I just run...

These are just a couple of things from my list. I won't bore you with them all, but hopefully this year I'll get back to some of these pastimes. I'm also shooting for my annual "eat healthier and lose weight" goal, so I'll be sharing my healthy recipes and treats with you along the way. I hope you all have started your new year feeling rested and renewed! Cheers to 2012!