Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gluten Free Sausage Balls

Hey there! It's been a while, hasn't it? I haven't been doing a whole lot of crafting here lately...the hubs was furloughed during the government shutdown, and we have been super busy with soccer as well. Thankfully both are over. 
We now have a few weeks to breathe before the holiday rush:o)
I have been doing some baking and sewing the past few days, and just happened to have my camera handy while doing so.
I had to go gluten free after my gall bladder surgery...crazy, but kind of good as well. I have had to make healthier choices since the can't go wrong there!
Anyway, now that the holidays are approaching, I am trying to find ways to make some of my favorite cool weather foods into gluten free renditions.
I love the taste, but I think I love them more because my mother used to make them for us all the time. Especially when we were going on vacation. That was our staple breakfast car food. Memories:o) I actually do the same thing with my kiddos on long car trips...making memories of my own now!

Most sausage ball recipes call for Bisquick...Bisquick has! Now that gluten intolerance is more prevalent, there are more gluten free options available in local grocery stores. I found a baking mix at Publix that is gluten free...score!
So are you wanting to try your own?
Here's what you'll need:
2 cups of Gluten Free Baking Mix(I used Namaste)
2 cups of sharp cheddar
1 pound of your favorite sausage
Work the mixture in a large bowl with both hands. You will want to make sure that all of the baking mixture is thoroughly combined with the sausage and cheese. Your arms will hate you, but your taste buds will be thanking you very soon!
Roll out into little 1"-2" balls. Place on parchment paper...makes clean-up a breeze.
Bake at 350 degrees for around 15-18 minutes. 
The taste is slightly different, but not by much. They taste super yummy and are a great option for G.F. folks!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween! Looks like ours will get rained out, but I have a back up plan;o)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Plan B Strategies and Solutions

The need for practical business solutions is not new. What has changed during the past decade is the growing importance of having a “Plan B” because an initial strategy has fallen flat on its face. Failure is the best possible reminder of the following wisdom:

Always Have a Plan B.

Individuals and companies might have different illustrations that make a similar point: new solutions and strategies will be increasingly necessary. How many times does a strategy or solution have to fail before it is appropriate to try something new?

Many years ago Albert Einstein offered his own wisdom about the cycle of repeating the same thing over and over again. I have included his memorable quote below.

business strategy and solutions

Plan B for Banking Services, Cable Companies, College Education, and Internet Publishing

I believe that Albert Einstein's definition of “Insanity” is illustrated by a number of areas in which businesses and individuals keep pursuing a similar solution and strategy despite the apparent lack of success:

  • Banks
  • Overpriced and ineffective services from cable companies and universities
  • Internet publishing of articles and websites

For those that haven't noticed, banks have changed dramatically during the past 15 years. In part this is due to the elimination of many legal requirements since the Glass-Steagall Act was taken off the books in 1999. These changes were sought by the banks for several decades. There have been numerous financial problems as a result. Many of the biggest banks have begun “payday lending programs” which charge individual borrowers annualized rates of interest that generally exceed 300%. Meanwhile many small businesses have been unable to get normal levels of commercial financing. Tell me again why we bailed out the banks in 2008?

Universities and cable companies are both now providing services that most observers view as overpriced and ineffective. Many people are already using a “Plan B” approach to replace both, but traditions take a long time to disappear even when they have stopped working. In the case of colleges, costs keep increasing while employment prospects for college graduates are decreasing. For cable companies (which are rapidly becoming phone companies as well), there is a growing question about whether they will even exist in ten years given how inept they have proven to be at dealing with consumers while continuing to charge more and more. How many people want to fire their cable company? (We have pulled the plug on cable television and phone services at our house.)

In the world of internet publishing, Google keeps on changing and forcing internet publishers to guess about the next shoe to drop. This might represent the most challenging place of all to formulate an effective Plan B strategy. But the verdict is already in about several old publishing strategies and solutions that are not working anymore. These include article marketing and article spinning. There are also publishing websites that have gone from best to worst as a result of the evolving standards on the internet. What is working and what is not working?

New Solutions and Strategies

When the old approaches stop working, it is a prudent time to seek new ideas. While some might refer to this as having a Plan B, you should call it whatever makes it more actionable for you. “Moving forward” and “It’s time to face the facts” are just two common-sense alternatives if “Plan B” doesn't seem catchy enough for you.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Yummiest Popcorn Ever

Today I share with you my favorite snack recipe, stove-top popcorn. 
We gave up microwave popcorn a long time ago. After we started eating cleaner, I began to think about all of the fake stuff that is in the microwave popcorn. I always felt sick after eating it, so I decided to start popping it on the stove.
It tasted a lot better to me after cooking it on the stove top and I didn't feel sick after eating it. Super bonus!
For a while I was using canola oil, but then I started using coconut oil.
That could have been one of my best decisions:o)
I HATE coconut, but I love what this oil does to the popcorn. It's delicious.
Coconut oil is actually one of the healthiest oils out right now.
When we have a bunch of kids over to play, this is my go-to snack, and they all LOVE it! Crowd-pleasing, cheap snack-ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!!

So here's how you make it.
What you need:
Large pot with lid
Popcorn kernels
(click on the above link to's cheaper on Amazon than in stores)
 Measure out 3 tablespoons. The oil is in a hardened state, but melts quickly.
Turn your stove on medium high. The oil will melt in just a few seconds.
 Pour 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels into pan, and cover with a lid.
 Once you start hearing the kernels popping, you will want to stand over the pan. I hold the lid while scooting the pan back and forth across the eye of the stove to keep the kernels from sticking to the bottom...usually about every 15-20 seconds.
There will be rapid popping kernels for about 25-30 seconds and then it will slow down to about 5-6 kernels per second. That's when I remove the pan from the heat, and let it sit for about 30 seconds. You don't want it to sit too long on the heat because the popcorn will burn and then your house will fun! Been there, done that!!
 When you remove the lid, this is what you should have.
Dump the popcorn in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. The salt will stick to the popcorn, and it's wonderful!
Let me know if you have tried it! I want to know if anyone else loves it as much as us!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Changing Table -Turned Dog Bed

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a beat up, run down changing table on the side of the road. It was no longer safe to put a baby on. It was missing two shelves, and was super rickety. Because it was made of real wood and had interesting spindles, I felt the need to bring it home and make something out of it.
The hubs was obviously unhappy that I was bringing more junk home;o) Story of our lives, right?
Anyway, I thought it would make a perfect pet bed.
 This is how it started out. 
I used an electric hand saw and chopped the legs off. That was definitely an experience. Note to self...use a sharp blade next time. I was literally shaking so hard that I had blurred vision while cutting this piece because the blade wouldn't cut through the wood:o) 
I sanded down the feet to get a nice edge.
I then ripped the safety buckles off of the bottom.
And then spray painted it.
The cushion is made from painters' canvas and two large pillows from my couch in the bonus room.
I made the cover removable by adding a zipper to the back. That way when it gets dirty, I can just throw it in the wash.
Not bad for a roadside rescue?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Old Drawer Turned Jewelry Organizer

My master bathroom is in need of some serious organization AND upgrading. Everything, and I mean everything is still builder basic. We have been in our house for almost 4 years, and haven't touched a thing in there. Unbelievable, right? I have so many ideas on what I want to do with my bathroom, unfortunately, we don't have the funds to anything about it right now. 
Tile in the shower, tile on the floor, a beautiful arch above our tub...
(I would love a claw foot tub, but that will never happen...the hubs must have his jacuzzi tub;o)) ...We would love to have separate vanities instead of a double vanity, and big chunky mirrors. The list keeps going, right? 
So, I'll continue to dream; peruse Pinterest and magazines; walking the aisles of Lowes and Home Depot; adding to the list of wants;o)
For my UK readers, if you are in the market for a new bathroom, check out these UK bathroom brands.
So since I can't overhaul our bathroom, I figured I would at least tackle the organization part.
 Today I am sharing another old drawer re-do.
If you guys remember, a couple of weeks ago I shared with you my drawer turned bathroom shelf.
The drawer I am sharing today, is it's little sister.
I found it along side the other drawer.
It's new purpose is a jewelry organizer.
My inspiration for the jewelry organizer came from this picture. When I came across it on Google, I thought to myself, "Hey, I have something like that!"
(source unknown)
As you can see below, my jewelry organization was a bad sort of way. I can't tell you how many times I have stood in my bathroom untangling necklaces and earrings. SO very frustrating. 
So here is baby sister in all of her glory. A diamond in the rough.
 I used the same technique of stripping the 4 layers of paint off of the drawer. 
I did wear a mask this time...but I wore flips flops while scraping the paint and burned a couple of holes in my toes. Dumb. 
One of these days I will actually wear all the proper safety gear!
 I attached some glass knobs from Hobby Lobby to hang necklaces from. I also installed baby cup hooks in the top, spray painted this pretty little Union Jack aluminum sheet and hung it off of the hooks.
Now my earrings have a pretty place to be displayed.
No more tangled mess!
Isn't this way better than shoving everything under the sink and hoping for the best?

This post contains links to affiliates. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Throw Back Thursday-Pumpkin Bread

I thought I would change things up a bit and take a trip down memory lane. For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you will remember this post. 
I made these little pumpkin loaves 3 years ago. My how time flies! They have been a huge hit across the web. Even Hershey's saw it and posted it on their Facebook page....I felt pretty awesome after seeing that!
Anyway, you can click
to read more.
Happy Thursday!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Best and Worst Writing Sites

Things have changed so much on the major internet publishing sites during the last three years that many writers are dizzy and stressed-out from the changes that have been forced upon them by the shifting landscape for writing of all kinds. Some of the internet publishers pay writers to place content on their sites and some do not.

Even if you do not care about making money (or it is not a high priority) with your writing, it is highly recommended that you choose a site based on how they handle revenues for their writers anyway. If you are on a site such as InfoBarrel that was using AdSense to pay their writers and then Google pulls the plug on their advertising program for that website, you have just received the best possible signal that something is going on with a site that merits your serious concern and attention. When Bukisa lost their AdSense partnership, that was also a sign of troubles to come as that site recently announced that they were no longer paying their members anything at all.

For those that have missed all the warning signs, Google is on a serious mission to clean up a diverse collection of internet messes. While there are those that think what AdSense does is not related to this, I strongly disagree and use what they do as a very important data point in decisions about what constitutes the best writing sites and the worst internet publishing websites.

best and worst websites for writing and publishing

While they have had a good run, non-paying article directories such as EzineArticles are now nothing more than a waste of time for most writers at all levels. These sites unfortunately provide almost unlimited raw material for unscrupulous internet publishers to steal material from on a daily basis. Because they have been the largest article directory, EzineArticles has regularly been a favorite source for internet publishing thieves. Over the years I have published about 100 articles at EzineArticles, but I stopped submitting new articles earlier this year when it became obvious that duplicate content is published based on their articles almost as soon as they are live on the internet. Google has rightfully included the elimination of duplicate content when they are indexing articles based on their current search engine algorithm. This problem cannot be ignored any longer for those writers who either want to have their content rank highly in search engine results or produce maximum revenues (or both in many cases).

Some article directories have already disappeared entirely, and ArticleBlast is just one example. In this case, it was possibly due to a combination of inadequate revenues to keep the lights on as well as having spammy articles de-indexed by Google. While Bukisa has stopped paying their members a share of any revenues, it is not yet clear whether they will keep their doors open for free publishing for very long. After all, who would really want to publish anything at all there after the recent inept treatment by Bukisa of their loyal writers?

Squidoo is among the publishing websites that have gone from best to worst in a period of two years or less. While some of their quirks were tolerated by many writers because of revenues, the recent travails have made a number of weaknesses more obvious. A secretive approach to how advertising revenues are shared (or not shared as the case may be) is still in place at Squidoo, and this total lack of transparency is all that most prospective writers should need to know when scratching Squidoo off their list for the final time.  

HubPages is treading water currently, and it is too early to tell which end of the best-or-worst spectrum they will be at over the next year or two. InfoBarrel is also at a make-or-break point, but their recent loss of AdSense advertising places them closer to worst than best at this time.

When it comes to the best publishing websites, it is a very short list. I have been actively involved in the internet publishing world during the past eight to ten years and it has been an area that has been characterized by one train wreck after another. The winning strategy for serious internet writers at this point is primarily to focus on one, two, or three websites which provide a proper balance of personal control, flexibility, visibility, and smart choices.

In terms of revenue possibilities, writers should insist on choices that include Google AdSense and Amazon as well as Plan B advertising programs such as Chitika for those individuals who are unable to qualify for AdSense. The most viable alternatives that include the smartest choices are blogs on the Google network, Seekyt, and your own websites. I personally use all three approaches and invite you to join me at the best end of the writing pool.

Coffee Table Redo-Part3

Our coffee table serves many purposes. It's the place where the kids do homework, make crafts, sometimes eat their dinners. It's also a foot rest, and occasionally used in pillow/blanket forts.
It's used A LOT, and had been showing lots of wear here lately.
This coffee table has gone through a couple of transformations.
To see the actual before, you can go here.
I had not been planning on re-doing the coffee table. It sort of just struck me last Friday that I needed to strip all of the nasty paint off of it. 
This was part two...the center is chalkboard paint. I had found some inspiration on Mrs. Mustard Seed's blog with some chalkboard tables she had created. At the time of the second re-do, my children had a nasty habit of writing on furniture. I came up with what I thought was an ingenious idea to paint chalkboard paint on the top of the coffee table; that way they could have at least one piece of furniture in the house to write on with out mommy fussing.
Well, it's been a few years and the kids are past the graffiti-on-my-furniture phase, thankfully. However, this table has been put through the ringer.
 As you can see there are tons of nicks, and scratches all over the top. There was also this weird film that developed...not exactly sure if it was from the chalkboard paint, or if we're just that nasty.
Regardless, it needed to come off. 
After two coats of paint stripper and a little bit of sanding, I was able to restore the wood to it's natural state.
 I applied the same stain I used for the old bench.
I let the stain sit for 15 minutes before wiping it off. I'm not one for waiting hours to reapply coats of stain to get what I think is basically the same result.
And this is the finished result. A beautiful stained wood top.
A much needed improvement.
I haven't applied the coats of poly yet. We had way too much going on over the weekend to get that done.
I love my big coffee table, and love that it serves so many purposes. Styling it, is an issue all on it's own. Because it has so many jobs, leaving things on it isn't an option.
But, the kids and the hubs are away, so mommy gets to play around with some fun styling:o)
 I love these old Bibles. I think they are so beautiful. The thicker ones belonged to the hubs' grandfather. The smaller one was my mother's cousin's Bible that was given to him when he was fighting in the war. They were to put them in their pocket to figuratively and literally protect their hearts.
Definitely a treasure.
 I can't get enough of these old blue mason jars either.
I have them scatted throughout the whole house. 
I have three more projects that I am in the process of finishing. I can't wait to share them with you all!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Busy Beaver

I have been working the day away trying to get several things done. Laundry, cleaning the house, hanging things on the wall, stripping paint off of furniture(as seen below), sanding, etc. This is the first time since my surgery that I have felt well enough to tackle multiple projects at once. I actually have 3 in the process of being completed. And I'm just a little jazzed at how they are turning out:o)
The weather couldn't be anymore perfect for this sort of thing either. So grateful for Fall-esque weather.
We have a big weekend ahead of us. We have 2 kids' birthday parties to attend, a soccer game, and the hubs is having a birthday on Sunday. 
Busy, busy, busy.
Today I just wanted to fill you in on what's going on behind the scenes with my blog. 
As you have probably noticed, the appearance has changed over the past few weeks. I have been working really hard trying to spruce things up and make it seem more appealing. I have scoured the internet for different tutorials on how to make these changes. 
If you check out my Blogger Tutorials Pinterest Page, you can see where I have gotten all of these great ideas.
I have been playing around with this blog for a little over 3 years now. I have had so much fun learning, creating and sharing with you guys.
Now that my kiddos are at the age where they are in school full time, I have a few extra hours in the day where I can get through more projects.
I also have more time to dedicate to this blog and trying to make it grow. 
Growing will hopefully mean turning a profit...yep, I said it. I want to earn an income from blogging. I absolutely love crafting, sewing, DIY'ing, and everything that goes along with blogging. Why not try to make money at something I love doing?
So, hopefully in the not-so-distant future, I will be looking for sponsors. People who I feel my readers, that's you, would want to purchase from.  That part is still in the works right now. Other ways I am earning, is through ads. Every ad-click counts towards me earning a little if you see something that interests you, click on it:o)
I appreciate each and every one of my readers. I am so thankful that you guys take time out of your day to see what I have been up to. You are what makes doing all of these projects more enjoyable. It's fun when you get to share something you're excited about with other people who will get excited right along with you. I hope that you will stick around and help this little blog continue to grow!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bicycle Art

It seems like ages ago I told you that I would have a fun little art project for S.R.'s room. Well, I finally got around to making one.
I just needed the right inspiration!
I wanted to do something with a bike, but just wasn't sure what. I came across this really cute vinyl cruiser on Etsy , and knew it was exactly what I needed.

And this is what I came up with.
FrogTape makes a chevron painter's tape. Crazy! I know!
 It's super easy to use! 

I found some at Lowes the other day, but you can also purchase it from Amazon. 
Click the link below and it will take you directly to Amazon.

The tape isn't recommended for use on textured surfaces...says so right on the box. As you can see below, my canvas is a textured surface. I went with it anyway because sometimes you can bend the rules a bit in the crafting world. 
I used a scrap piece of tape to keep my lines even.
Once all of the tape was down on my canvas board, I smoothed out all of the edges, painted, and promptly removed the tape.
After letting the paint dry for about 30 minutes, I placed the vinyl bike on top of the painting.
You have to be patient with vinyl. It can tear easily, and can stick together if you don't follow the instructions.
Once in place, I smoothed it out to make sure there weren't any bubbles.
I had the large frame on hand. I was actually using the frame as a Christmas card holder. However, last year, the cards never made it to the frame. 
So I figured I would make good use out of it, paint it purple, and hang it in S.R.'s room.
I don't normally do anything with colors this bright or go with things that are this contemporary because it's not my style. I'm more of a classic style kind of girl.
However, it is S.R.'s I'm goin' with it;o)

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By clicking on said links, you help me make money. It wouldn't hurt my feelings a bit if you decided to click and buy;o)


Craft Dictator

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ladder Quilt Rack

I have so many projects I want to get started on, but I am still having to wait on the doctor's approval to start lifting heavy items. I am reminded several times a day that where once was a gallbladder, now resides a slight tinge of pain when I try to over-do it.. I am not a patient person. If the mind is willing, so should be the body, is my thought;o) 
So I have been piddling around the house, trying to clean things out and make things a little more organized.
I love to organize.
 I cleaned out a closet this morning that had tons of junk in was the hubs' junk closet...shhhhh! Don't tell him I threw away a ton of boxes that had absolutely no purpose what-so-ever;o)
He's never been one to throw away boxes that electronics come in. Some of the boxes have been hanging out in that closet since before we moved here...mind blowing, right?;o) 
That last statement is absolutely impossible since we are the only owners of this house;o) A slight exaggeration. 

So anyway, here is another way I have been organizing.
I found this cute ladder (1/2 a ladder to be precise), on a Facebook yard sale page.  I have been able to find so many great deals on our local site. If you guys aren't apart of one, I highly recommend it; from a buyer and seller standpoint. 
It's so much easier than having to get up at O-dark-30 every Saturday morning. 
This little ladder has been a great way to store our blankets in the living room, and it's super cute. And guess what?!? I only paid $10 for it. Awesome, I know.
Now to teach the kids and the hubs how to properly fold the blankets and re-hang can dream, right?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School Shirts

The regular school routine has set in, and things seem to be moving along just fine. It has taken this mommy a little more adjusting than these two kiddos. 
They were both pumped and ready to go. Me, not so much.
I miss them.
The first day back broke my heart and I might have sobbed like a front of my baby...who is now a kindergartner.
My kindergartner might have shed a few tears because her mother lost it in front of her, but waited for her to leave. Such a strong little girl.
My first grader was a brave and happy little soldier. He's an old pro at this sort of thing now; in his mind's eye.
It does my heart good to see how happy they are with their teachers and their classmates. My favorite part of the day is when they get in the car at the end of the school day, smiles beaming, ready to tell me every detail of their day...competing to see who can tell the most.
Yes, I know these days are very short lived, and there will come a time when they won't say two words to me. 
I'm living in the moment and soaking it all in.
I love it.
We had a "morning of" photo shoot. This year wasn't nearly as fancy as last year's;o)
I will say that this impromptu photo shoot was a lot more fun and waaaay less stressful!!
 I made the kids' shirts to wear on their first day of school. I forgot to get good close up shots, so bear with me.
I found the fabrics from Hobby Lobby.
The shirt S.R. is wearing was created by using a pattern I had on hand. Super simple to put together, and took no time at all. I actually made it the night before school started because I am a last minute kind of gal;o)
 Here is a full view of the shirt along with a pair of shorts I found at a yard sale for $1...I really scored some awesome boutique deals that day.
This has to be one of my favorite shirts to date. I love the bright colors. Super fun!
 I asked E's permission before making his shirt. It needed to be something that didn't seem baby-ish. There is a fine line to walk when you mix applique and almost-7-year-old boys.
He approved, thankfully:o)
I made a pair of shorts to match, but when I finished them, I realized he might have been made fun of if he wore them. And we can't have anybody making fun of my sweet boy!
I haven't taken the time to make anymore clothes for them right now because we're about to head into Fall.
Hopefully I can get a few things together soon.