My 3 Monsters: 2011

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12.30.2011

Tithing & Blessings

I've had this post swimming around in my head for several weeks now, but I have hesitated to write it.  I'm not sure why.  I guess maybe because this blog has turned into more of a crafty/ creative outlet and less of a bare-your-soul kind of outlet lately.  Maybe because these experiences have been a little too close to my heart.  It's far easier to write about recipes and sewing projects than things that actually mean something to me, but may be a huge joke to someone else.  I've never really been one to "stir the pot" either by bringing up potentially controversial topics like politics or religion.  {Or housekeeping, apparently.}  But I just keep thinking about it -- even at 2:30 in the morning when I really wish I was sleeping.  So, just know that you can take this post with a grain of salt.  Or click away if you would rather not dabble in spirituality for today.  I'll be back tomorrow with some fun New Years Eve snack recipes, if I get my act together.

Many of you may know that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or Mormons.  My husband and I have both been members all our lives and we are raising our children the same.  One of the many "weird" things that Mormons do is pay tithing.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept, tithing is the practice of returning a portion of your wealth {usually 10%} back to the spiritual source from whence those blessings come.  We believe that everything we have has been given to us by our Heavenly Father {or God} and that by giving a small portion back to Him we show our gratitude and recognize our dependence on Him as the source of all our blessings.  Tithing is an ancient spiritual tradition that has been practiced by many of the great civilizations in history.  The practice is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  One of my favorite scriptures referencing tithing is Malachi 3:10, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Years ago I read Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnatch, and she talked about tithing as a metaphysical law of prosperity.  She said, " Spiritual law, no matter which path, tells us as we give, so shall we receive.  We realize that money is a form of energy.  Energy does not increase if it is hoarded.  Energy must circulate freely for power to be released.  When we receive an increase of money in our lives, giving away a portion of that money keeps the channels of abundance circulating freely, as Spirit intended. On a practical level, tithing allows us to express our thanksgiving with action.  Returning some of the material good we receive is a tangible demonstration of trust."  She goes on to say, " My experience with tithing on the Simple Abundance path has been erratic but amazing.  When I tithe, I experience more financial serenity than when I don't.  The money seems to stretch further or my expenses diminish.  When I tithe I am able to save more with ease, and new moneymaking opportunities arrive, often unsolicited.  The floodgates of heaven do shower me with blessings, although I've not yet reached the point at which I can't find room for more.  When I don't tithe, I'm not struck down, but I do start to worry about money.  There seem to be longer stretches between bank deposits and more unexpected expenses, which always end up costing more than the amount my tithe would have been.  So I know it's time to write a check.  Wait and watch what happens.  Very quickly, the ebb recedes and the flow begins again.  Coincidence?"

I've heard stories like that my entire life, and I have always paid tithing even though that has not been my personal experience.  I think there's a lot to be said for doing what you feel to be right without needing a personal reward for your actions.  Paying tithing has increased my faith exponentially, which is as good a blessing as I could ever hope for.  I've mentioned in passing that my husband is out of work right now.  It's fine, really.  That's what we keep telling ourselves.  I mean, except for the no income thing it has been really great having him home.  He lost his job on November 19th, without any form of severance pay.  So there we were, right before the holidays with no job and no insurance.  No way to pay for Christmas and three fantastic kids who were definitely on the nice list and hoping to be rewarded accordingly.  {I'm not begging for sympathy here.  Just setting the stage...} It was at that point that we were faced with one of the most difficult dilemmas of our adult life.  We had Brent's final paycheck.  I had paid the bills that were most pressing and had about $800 left over, which was all we had to our name.  We knew we still needed to pay tithing on that paycheck.  Doing so would take more than half of what we had left, but we felt strongly about it so we turned in a check the following Sunday.  We prayed our hearts out and we were prepared for any possible outcome.  I mean, who were we to say that losing everything wasn't just the experience we needed right now?!  We didn't know, but we were ready to go with the flow, having faith in our Father in Heaven.

Our experiences the past few weeks have been nothing short of miraculous.  I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.  The very next day I started getting orders to make Christmas cards -- almost more than I could handle.  I doubled the lifetime sales in my etsy shop in two weeks.  Within a week cards started to come in the mail from extended family and friends with checks tucked in them.  Everyone said they just felt like they needed to help us out.  We were able to pay our mortgage and the rest of our bills.  A large box of gifts and some cash were mysteriously left on our doorstep.  {Thanks to whoever left it!} We found unbelievable deals on the things our kids wanted for Christmas and had as good a holiday as ever.  We have money in our account to pay our mortgage again next week.  Truly the windows of heaven have been open the past several weeks and we have been blessed abundantly. 

We have discovered that we are far more comfortable being on the giving end of such kindness, but we are learning a tremendous lesson in humility.  We feel so very grateful for the friends and family who have helped us in so many ways and we pray that the Lord will repay your kindness a thousand times over.  I suppose that's why I needed to write this.  So that each of you who helped out will know what a difference you made to us.  We thank you for being instruments in the Lord's hands and being the answer to our prayers.

For more information on Mormons and tithing, click here.

12.28.2011

Sicky Sick {A Delicious Home Remedy}

It was bound to happen, really.  It's winter and I've been burning the candle at both ends for months.  Last Wednesday night I started feeling a cold coming on.  I thought maybe I could just plow through and will it away.  No such luck.  Here I sit a week later, ears aching, head pounding ... officially sick.  I'm not whining to garner your sympathy.  {Well, not entirely.}  I'm just wishing I had used a home remedy I had seen on Pinterest a while back.

You just eat 1tsp. honey {preferably raw, which is available at most healthy-type stores like Whole Foods} mixed with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon twice a day for three days, beginning at the earliest sign of a cold.  The honey and cinnamon are both said to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.  I used this remedy back in November with great results.  I mixed the honey and cinnamon and spread it on toast, which is delicious, but you can just eat it straight, too. I've read that you shouldn't mix it into hot drinks because the heat kills the positive effects, but I'm no expert here. And I don't drink tea, so ... you know ...   {I highly recommend the toast version!!}

I wish it had not escaped my feeble memory this time around.    I always figure it can't hurt to try a home remedy for a day or so before rushing to the doctor's office if the symptoms are mild.  And cinnamon honey toast is delicious.  I may start eating it just because it's tasty and never get sick again.  Hope that helps somebody!

12.22.2011

Neighbor Gifts & My Giftwrap "Tradition"

For years now we have made the same old white chocolate candy cane popcorn to our friends and neighbors.  Don't get me wrong, it is delightful {and I may just have to whip up a batch or two now that I'm thinking about it}, but I wanted to try something new this year.  I've been craving something sweet and spicy lately.  And cream cheesy.  Jalapeños and cream cheese.  That's what I want all the time.  We had jalapeño popper grilled cheese sandwiches the other night {dipped in strawberry jam - mmmmm - don't knock it til you try it} and that only fueled the fire.  So I decided to make hot pepper jelly. You know the stuff that you pour over cream cheese and eat with crackers?  Oh. My. Yummy!  I found this recipe via Pinterest and it was sooooo easy.  Just be sure and read the comments on the recipe if you decide to make it -- I guess it doesn't set up real well if you're not careful. I used one pack of pectin and boiled for 2 minutes and mine turned out perfectly.  Not that I'm bragging -- Whatever.  So this is what we'll be taking around this evening to all our friends.  I hope they're ready to go on this culinary adventure with us.

Now for an awkward transition:  Brent and I were at a "Fugly Christmas Sweater Party" the other night -- and before I go on with the story I have to show you this:
The line for a piece of that man candy forms behind me, ladies!  So, we were at the party and a friend asked me if I was still carrying on my gift-wrapping tradition.  I asked if she was referring to my obsessive compulsive need for all my Christmas presents to match.  Because that is still very much happening around here.  Another friend, who didn't yet know how crazy I can be, requested that I post pictures of this year's wrapping motif here on the blog.  Asae, this is for you:
It's not really anything special, but it looks kinda' pretty, I think.  I used my 1/4  inch metal stamps to stamp the cardstock tags to make them a little bit unique.  We are trying a new thing with our kids' gifts this year -- they are each getting 4 small gifts from me and Brent:  something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  That's why the tags are labeled the way they are, lest you think I've lost my everloving mind.  The kids are super excited about it and it was nice to have a focus as we shopped this year.  I love to have guidelines.  Anyway . . . We're getting really excited about Christmas over here.  I hope you are too!

12.16.2011

A Gift for the Kids' Friends

We're not breaking any new crafting ground here {we rarely do}, but my kids wanted something to take to their friends at school today.  I've seen these reindeer rootbeer bottles a lot and I think they're just really, really cute.  And kids love IBC rootbeer, so, you know, win/win.  Lots of people must have had a similar idea because Walmart was out of brown pipe cleaners yesterday.  Our reindeer are a little bit glitzy.  I would have just done the antlers, googly eyes and noses and tied a ribbon bow around the neck of the bottle, but the kiddos got a little jiggy wit' it.  They were crafting up all kinds of accessories for their reindeer.  I also made these cute little tags for them to attach:
To a DEER Friend
And D gave his reindeer pipe cleaner arms to hold the tags.  See?  Jiggy.  Easy, cheesy.  You can't beat friend gifts for 50 cents each!  {I'm so excited about this being the last day of school.  Hello, sleeping in!}

12.14.2011

A Gift for the Friend and/or Neighbor


Alright, it took me longer than I had hoped to get my act together with this post.  I've been seeing cute mason jar soap dispensers all over blogland lately and just desperately wanted some for my house.  There are lots of tutorials out there, but this one was my favorite.

I loved the vintage zinc lids so I found some on ebay that were really affordable. I think I got a lot of 12 old lids for about $6, which is worth it to me to get a much cooler finished product.  I've also seen people spray paint the lids and rings they have on hand a bright, fun color which is really cute, too, if you don't want to bother tracking down the old zinc lids.  Instead of using hot glue to secure the pump in place as the tutorial suggests, I bought a tube of waterproof tub and tile caulk.  I LOVE the way they turned out!  

 And then I thought, "This would make a really cute gift for {some un-named people on my Christmas list}."  I mean, I had twelve zinc lids after all.  I'm thinking you could just give the cute soap dispenser full of sweet smelling hand soap with a little tag that says, "Wishing you a holiday full of Peace, Joy, & Hope SOAP!"  But if you really like someone you could also give them a set of cute dishcloths or handtowels. I already had the hand towels in my bathroom so I made this cute little printable sign to frame and set on the counter next to it.  {We sometimes need a reminder around these parts . . }

That would be a cute little addition to your soapy gift as well.  I couldn't decide what color I liked so I made several options:







You can download these images by clicking on the image to make it full size then right clicking and saving to your computer.  Just print it and pop it in a 5x7 dollar-store frame and you're good to go. I chose the burlap option because it matches my butterfly specimen art that hangs in there, too.  I've also made a tag you can use on your soap dispensers.  Just download the pdf file below and print onto cardstock.
Peace, Joy & Soap

Happy Holidays everyone!

12.12.2011

Trees for the Kiddos

I've always had this fantasy about decorating my entire home for Christmas.  I know lots of people do that.  I've read their blogs and I feel a teensy little bit envious of them and their stinkin' perfect homes. {Have you seen Dear Lillie lately?!} I'm feeling lucky just to have a tree up in the living room this year, but I'm really trying to get the rest done.  Being the bargain-loving girl that I am, I have picked up small trees on Clearance after Christmas for my kids' rooms.  I've had big plans, but for the past couple of years my kids have just taken the cast-off ornaments from our big tree and done the best they could decorating their little trees on their own.  And that was kind-of the point in the beginning -- that they would have little trees to decorate themselves so they wouldn't try to "help" mommy with the big one.  But now they I want their trees to have a little more style.  I finally got to work while Brent and I watched movies this weekend and crafted up some cuteness for the kids' trees.  I pinned these great cereal box stars on Pinterest months ago and decided to make some out of printed cardstock.  They couldn't really be any easier and the price is right if you have a stash of scrapbook paper.  So here they are:


For the boys I made the stars and then folded a bunch of paper airplanes out of coordinating printed cardstock.  I also had some silver and white ball ornaments that I hung up with teal polka-dot ribbon.  I love the whimsical vintage-y vibe that it has with the old map paper and polka-dots.  It's not super Christmas-y, but it feels festive and fun and my boys LOVE it.



For Sis I wanted to make something really, really girly.  She has a sparkly pink tree {I know!  Who buys those, right?!  I had a vision.}  and her bedroom is pink so I just really went for it and smothered the thing in pink and silver ornaments.


I made some more of my favorite stars out of pink and white print papers and hung some silver/white and shiny pink ball ornaments with cute girly ribbon.  But the pièce de resistance are these cuppy-cake ornaments inspired by some that I saw on Pinterest a while ago.



Aren't they great?!  So that's what I've been up to.  That and making a kajillion Years in Review for my fun blog friends.  I had no idea people would respond to that so favorably.  It has been really fun "getting to know" some of you as I've made your cards.  You have no idea what a blessing those little jobs have been for my family since my husband is out of work right now.  It's not too late to get one done if you're still considering it.  Just leave me a comment with your e-mail and I'll get right back to you.  Tomorrow I'll be back with a super easy, inexpensive gift you can give to girlfriends, neighbors and/ or coworkers.  

Happy Holidays!


12.07.2011

Yeah, We're Movin' On Uuup -- To the Top!

The Jeffersons, anyone?  Anyone?  I'm so excited about something today I'm about to burst!  Take a look around.  Do you notice anything new?  Probably not, but doesn't the place just feel a little more . . . legit today?  Isn't there just a more sophisticated ambiance on this site today?  OK, I'm a total geek.  You'll never notice the difference.  My 3 Monsters is no longer a dot blogspot dot com site -- it's a full-on dot com.  It's its own thing.  I bought the domain a while back and have been pondering what I wanted to do with it.  Here's the thing:  it's like before you have kids and you fall in love with a name so then you have to "call" that name so no one else in the family can use it before you get a chance to.  This little blog is my sweet little baby whom I dote upon daily.  Years ago when I registered with blogger I just used my own name, which seemed logical at the time.  {I didn't know much about the internet back then, really.}  I only dared hope that my family would stop in once in a while to read what I was rambling on about, so using my name seemed like the easiest way to get people to come here.  I could scarcely have imagined that this little baby of a blog would make so many friends -- friends who knew its name, but not mine.  I never predicted it would one day have its own legs to stand on and would need its own identity. For a while now it has bugged me that the name of my blog and the web address didn't match.  It's a dumb thing to waste time worrying about, but sometimes I obsess like that.  I went over to Go Daddy a couple of months ago just to have a peek and see if My3Monsters happened to still be available as a domain.  Lo and behold it was, and it was a mere $15 to secure it for my very own for two whole years.  And so I did.  I couldn't help it.  I just did it.  And then I didn't tell anyone but my husband because it seemed a little silly, a girl like me owning a web domain.  I looked into what it would take to move this baby over to Wordpress and it just seemed like a super troublesome and expensive undertaking.  Besides that, I really like Blogger.  Maybe that's not cool to say, but I do.  So I decided to stay put.  I was perfectly happy to pay my $15 just to "call" my favorite name in case I needed it one day.  But then last night as I was searching for something entirely else on Google I happened upon an article about switching to a unique domain with Blogger and it was SO EASY!  So, that's my long way of saying that absolutely nothing is going to change for you.  If you are bookmarked or linked in anyway to to my blogspot address, you will automatically be redirected here.  Nothing changes for me because I get to keep using Blogger and we can all get on with life.  Except I'm gonna' spend a few more minutes geeking out about being a dot com.  You may pat me on the head and walk away now.

12.04.2011

Christmas Printables {Freebies!}

I have a little 5x7 frame that sits on the corner of my desk that I decided to use to frame up my favorite quotes or sayings for every season.  I found a couple of quotes about Christmas that I absolutely fell in love with so I made a couple of printables I thought I'd share with you, my blog friends, it being the season of giving and all.  I can't decide which one to put in the frame:




I'm leaning toward the very first one, but the last one is really in the running, too.  I'm loving turquoise and red this Christmas.  Gah!  I just don't know which to choose.  Maybe I'll just have to get another frame at the dollar store so I can do both.  Merry Christmas, friends!


UndertheTableandDreaming

12.03.2011

A Gift for the Golf Afficionado

If you are a member of my family you'll probably quickly guess who I may have had in mind when creating this project.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't stop by here often unless his wife makes a point of telling him to, which I hope she will not today, thank you very much.  Do you have someone on your list who is difficult to shop for because they just buy everything they want and need?  So you really have to try hard to think of something they might not have known that they wanted?  The process is pretty hit and miss, but we're always trying to think of that gift that will make this person say, "Hello, lovely.  Where have you been all my life?"  {This person doesn't really talk like that, because that would be ridiculous, but that's the feeling we're going for.}

Back in the spring I remember seeing a series of framed vintage-style prints of famous golfers at Target.  Each had a great quote from the featured golfer.  They were really cool.  They were also overpriced.  And no longer available.  But it seemed like a fun idea to try and recreate for someone who may or may not have a collection of golf memorabilia. 

Here is what I came up with:
That really is a picture of Arnold Palmer.  Cool, huh? Costco will print the 8x10 for about $1.50 {I'm sure most places are about the same} or you could spring for a cool canvas print -- Canvas People is my favorite and they often run a free 8x10 special so you only have to pay shipping.  Just pop the print into a cool frame and you're all set.  I was inclined to embellish the frame a bit, but restrained myself since I think the recipient would  prefer the simplicity of a clean black frame.  For a total cost of less than $10 you can't really go wrong.  And it's the thought that counts, not the price, right?  Remember that, dear family.  The dollar value of your gifts does not represent your value in our lives and in our hearts. 

Thanks for checking in today.  Happy Holiday crafting!


UndertheTableandDreaming

11.30.2011

My Holiday Dilemma

We're entering a tricky time of year for me and this little blog o' mine.  I don't like being sneaky or having secrets.  My life is pretty much an open book and this blog is my BFF I can tell everything to.  I like it that way.  Christmas kills me.  I think I would prefer to know what is inside all those sparkly little packages.  Not just  the ones with my name on them -- ALL of them.  I think that, but one year I did know just about everything and it made me sad.  I knew I had no surprises under the tree, but I found myself hoping beyond hope in my heart of hearts that my husband had snuck something really cool in there for me.  He hadn't.  And why would he?!  I told him in no uncertain terms that I wanted to know everything.  But knowing everything at Christmas kind of stinks.  Remember back when you were a kid, before you "knew everything" {you know what I'm talkin' about}.  Wasn't Christmas just a little bit more magical back then?  That may have been, in part, because you weren't the one footing the bill, which does tend to take a little bit of the shine off of things.  Just sayin'. 

Aaaaanyway, surprises are what Christmas is all about.  Here's my dilemma this year, and every year since I started my blog, really --  I spent all last week making some really cool stuff for my family for Christmas {so I could hand deliver them in Vegas and save on shipping -- ever being economical}  but I can't really share those projects here as I am wont to do because it would ruin the surprise.  Aaaak!  I've decided to do a completely hand-made Christmas this year.  I think about it every year, but usually give in to peer pressure {or laziness} and just buy people the gift cards they ask for.  Not this year!  My husband losing his job last week may or may not have swayed that decision a bit, but that is neither here nor there.  I'm making everything.  Santa has my permission to purchase gifts as he sees fit, but as for me it's homemade all the way.  Now wouldn't that make for some fun blog posts?  Easy, inexpensive gift ideas.  It's what I'm looking all over the craft blog world for right now.  I'd love to share some of the goodies I'm making.  Would it be too rude to ask my family to NOT read my blog for the next few weeks?  Or read at your own risk at the very least?  I'm fairly certain that, even though I've set my blog as our browser's home page, no one in this house pays it any attention.  I could get away with posting some of my secrets here, surely.  I'll ponder it while we set up our tree this afternoon.  Enjoy the holiday season everyone!!

11.27.2011

How To Install New Fonts on Your Computer

The internet is a funny thing to me.  Thanks in equal part to search engines and bookmarking sites like Pinterest {which I adore} some blog posts unexpectedly take on a life of their own.  It's nearly impossible for a casual blogger like me to predict which posts will become "superstars" and which will live out their days in anonymity, buried in the archive.  I have been totally shocked at the attention my cleaning schedule has received and the strong feelings it arouses in people, both positive and negative.  I never would have guessed years ago, when sharing this anecdote about my husband, that "Baby Brent" would become one of the most common search phrases driving traffic to my blog.  Nor was I expecting to come home from my Thanksgiving travels to find that my Favorite Fonts post has been receiving thousands of hits a day.  It's surreal.  I feel a little like a parent who comes home from a trip to find that her teenage daughter has thrown the party of the century in her absence.  {Don't be gettin' any big ideas Sissy!}

So, if you came for the fonts and stuck around, thanks ever-so much!  I'm sure we'll be fast friends.  Now, in finally reaching the point of this post, I wish to address a few concerns raised in the comments of that post.  First, It was brought to my attention {in the nicest way -- thanks to an Anonymous commenter} that the link to Feel Script was a bootlegged copy of a pretty expensive font.  I feel really bad about that.  I removed the link in the original post so as to avoid any trouble {in a legal sense}.  If you still want the free download it is easy enough to find out there.  I'm no evil genius and I got it.  Or you can save up the $99 and buy it all legit-like

Second,  it seems several of you would like some info about what to do with the font files after you download them.  Often when you buy a font it will come in a file with it's own installer.  You just open the file and it magically appears on your computer ready to use.  Kind of.  When you download a file for free {from a legit free site Ü }you usually have to unzip it and install it yourself.  It's not hard, you just have to do it.  I'm going to assume you all know how to unzip a zipped file -- on my computer when I double click a zipped file it automatically starts the Microsoft Extraction Wizard and walks me through the process.  Since my computer is old and technology seems to be becoming increasingly intuitive, I'm guessing it's even easier for most of you.  Just make sure you know where you save the unzipped font file so you can find it again.  Good?  Good.

On your PC click the Start button in the lower left corner then click on My Computer.  Choose the Local Disk {C:}.  Find the Windows folder and double click to open it up.  Now find the Fonts folder and open that up.  Click on File in the upper left corner of the window and click on Install New Font in the drop-down menu.

A new window will open up at this point.  In the bottom left corner, find the folder in which you saved the unzipped font file.  Click to open it when you find it. When you click on the correct folder, the name of the font file will appear in the "List of Fonts" box in the upper left corner.  Make sure the "Copy fonts to Fonts folder" box is checked, then click Select All.  When you click OK you should see a status bar pop up to let you know that your font installation has been successful.

You'll have to repeat this process for each new font you want to install.  Then, since I've copied the font file into the Fonts folder, I usually go back and delete the original files I downloaded so I don't waste space on duplicate files.  I hope that helps some of you to begin using and enjoying your new fonts.  If you still have questions feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  My whole family got together for the first time in years in Las Vegas for the holiday.  It was awesome staying up late laughing and playing cards with my siblings and parents while my kids ran around with their cousins.  We couldn't have asked for a better time.  More on that to come . . .

11.17.2011

Can We Talk . . .

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Avocados from Mexico for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

. . . about my love of avocados.  I love them on sandwiches and in salads, but my very most favorite thing in almost all the world is guacamole.  I could eat chips and guacamole for lunch every single day for the rest of forever and never tire of it.  When we go out with our friends for late-night root beer floats {doesn't everybody do that?}, I always order chips and guacamole instead.  Our dog loves it, too.  She sits nicely right at our feet as we enjoy it, just waiting to be rewarded with some glorious avocado goodness.  We usually oblige and share just a bit -- the kids call this ritual "guac-ing the dog".  Har, har!  We crack ourselves up. Our kids love avocados, too, just maybe not as much as me.  We've been putting slices of avocado in their turkey wraps since they were little.  I don't think they even realize you can eat turkey wraps without them.  Some of you may be gagging at the very thought of eating avocados {ahem, Shiela}, or you may be absolutely convinced that your children would never try them.  I may have a way to make you {or your children} reconsider their stance.  Read on . . .

Did you know avocados have the vitamins and nutrients essential for child development and growth? Just 3 slices of this creamy green fruit (yup, it’s a fruit!) packs potassium, fiber, folate, vitamin C, E and those B-complex vitamins that support memory and brain function. If they don’t love them already, the Avocados from Mexico Mini Chef Video Contest is a great way to introduce your kids to them!

New Message

 

Starting November 14th, Avocados from Mexico is hosting the Mini Chef Video Contest for parents of children ages 5-15. Submit a 1-3 minute video of your child/children preparing an avocado dish and be sure to have them include why they love avocados and the catchy Avocados from Mexico jingle found on their website. Videos will be judged on the Mini Chef’s personality and the presence of avocado.

One grand prize winner gets $1,000 in cash plus an HD Camcorder (for future home videos!), a Nintendo 3D, 2 games and a personalized Mini Chef jacket. Nine runners up win big too with an HD Camcorder, a Nintendo 3D and a personalized Mini Chef jacket. Tons of great prizes and tons of chances to win – what’s not to love? { Helloooooo . . . Christmas is right around the corner.  Who couldn't use an extra thousand dollars right now?!}

Get your video in by December 4th and check back on December 6th to see if your video is one of 10 finalists. Public voting will take place on YouTube December 6-11. The video with the most Likes wins and will be posted on the website December 12th.

Still not convinced that your children will give it a go?  Guess what!  Avocados are not just for guacamole any more.  Do your kids like cupcakes?  I found a delicious recipe for Avocado Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Frosting.  Now, before you decide that I have fallen completely off my rocker, hear me out.  The avocado in this recipe replaces all the fat -- butter, oil, shortening, all of it!  How cool is that?!  Replace all the bad-for-you, calorie-laden fats with the healthy fat in avocados?  It's brilliant.  The recipe is also egg-free and dairy-free , which is not a big issue in our house, but I know it can be for some families.  And, not for nothin', they look pretty fancy.  The frosting is a naturally beautiful shade of green so you don't need to add food coloring.  See what you think:


Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes
from The Pastry Affair

Yields 30 cupcakes

3 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup soft avocado, well mashed, about 1 medium avocado
2 cups water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set that aside.

In a large bowl beat together the sugar, applesauce, and mashed avocado until well blended.  Then add water, vinegar, and vanilla and mix well.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet all at once and and beat until smooth.

Pour batter into cupcake tins and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting with avocado buttercream.

Avocado Buttercream Frosting

2 small to medium ripe avocados (8 ounces)
1 pound powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel and pit the soft avocados, scraping the contents into a medium bowl. If the avocados have brown spots, avoid those when you scoop the meat into the bowl. You want nice and green avocado meat.

Add lemon juice and beat the avocados with a mixer on medium speed until the avocados are slightly lightened in color and smooth in texture, about 2-3 minutes. {I stuck mine in my Magic Bullet to get all the chunks out} The lemon juice prevents the avocados from turning brown so you will have nice green frosting.

Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat. Add vanilla extract until combined. Store the frosting in the refrigerator until ready to use.

See how pretty they turned out?  {Also, do you love my new cupcake stand I got at Goodwill yesterday?!}

The pictures just don't do that frosting justice. 

Look at that moist cake and creamy frosting . . . mmmmmmm.  I'll admit, these took a minute to grow on me.  I wasn't quite sure what I thought of them after the first bite.  There IS a distinct, but subtle, avocado flavor which is different in a dessert, but I kinda' like it.  However, if I'm being brutally honest, nine times out of ten when I buy avocados I'm gonna' be making guacamole, because I love it that much.  But if guacamole isn't your thing and healthy chocolate cupcakes are . . . these are yummy.  Get your kids in the kitchen and film them whipping up an avocado masterpiece.  You could end up with fabulous prizes!  At the very least you'll have a yummy, healthy snack.  I love a win-win!

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11.16.2011

Favorite Fonts

I'm a total geek for fonts.  I love it when I can name the font used in an advertisement or online.  I also love it when I fall in love with a font in print somewhere and then I find it online and can have it for myself.  I ALSO like it very much when people share their favorite fonts on their blogs.  I've found some really great fonts that way.  Too many.  I have hundreds of fonts on this poor old computer -- way more than any person really needs.  I've been thinking about going through and deleting some that I don't use regularly, but it's hard.  Some of my fonts I have never used, but I know exactly what I WOULD use them for . . . if the need ever came about . . . but it hasn't and probably never will . . . but just in case . . .   I'm a font hoarder!  So, I thought I would share a few of my faves with y'all today, just in case you're looking for some fresh typefaces.  The first is a list of my Go-To fonts -- the old, tried and true standbys that I use most often:

Now here is a list of some of my latest finds {they may not be "new" fonts - just new to me}:

There you have it.  I would love to know what your favorite fonts are in the comments if you want to share. Have a great day!

Here's a list of my favorite font combinations and a brief tutorial on installing fonts to your computer in case you're hungry for more font goodness.

*EDITED TO ADD:  It has been brought to my attention that the links to Feel Script and Artistamp were actually bootlegged copies of expensive fonts.  I have removed the links -- sorry.

11.11.2011

A Couple More Holiday Card Options

I was messing around on the computer again today and came up with a couple more Christmas card templates that you can download if you so desire.

Scroll down to the next post for a great deal on printing through Livng Social to make custom cards totally affordable. Have a great weekend!!
I'm linking up here:





Holiday Cards

I found this really great deal today that I just have to share with you guys!  It's just about time to start thinking about what you want to for holiday cards, right?  Well, Living Social is offering a smokin' price on printing at SimplyToImpress.com.  For $15 you'll get a voucher worth $40 on the Simply To Impress website.  That's $40 worth of really cool, high quality Christmas cards for only $15!! It almost seems too good to be true.  Click here to view and purchase the deal.  Living Social has this great Me + Three program where, if you and three of your friends purchase the deal, you get it for free.  So, if $15 isn't cheap enough for you, you could potentially get these beautiful cards for free.  FREE.  Hop on over to their site and take a look at the pre-designed holiday cards they have for you to chose from.  They're stylish and modern -- practically perfect in every way.  They also have pre-designed birth announcements options and invitations, but I am most excited about the Simply Photo options so I can design my own cards and upload them there to be printed.  Your friends are totally going to want to get in on this deal.  Here's the link again if you want to get in on this great deal:  http://share.livingsocial.com/deals/167869?rpi=35377318&ref=personalized-link-box-35377318&rui=90810000  Hurry and get the word out.  There are only two days left to purchase this deal through Living Social.  {You don't have to get your cards done in two days, just buy the voucher.}

Like I said before, they have plenty of fantastic card designs to choose from, but here are a few that I have been working on today that you could download and use as well.




Obviously {I hope} you would add a personal photo{s} to the big blank spots before you upload them to be printed.  These are high resolution png files designed to be printed on 5x7 flat or folded cards.  Of course, you can also use these files for printing from other sources.  {Vista Print is awesome and affordable if you don't want to use this deal through Living Social!}  Please feel free to email me or leave questions in the comments if you have any trouble using these card templates and I'll walk you through it.

I am not being compensated in anyway to write about Living Social or Simply to Impress.  I just had to share this bargain with my friends!!  Enjoy your Veteran's Day!
I'm linking up here:



11.10.2011

Taking a Mulligan

Sometimes in life, as in golf, you need a do-over.  Often it's an impossibility, but when the opportunity exists there is no shame trying something again.  Differently.  And by reading through all the instructions first to know how it is supposed to be done.  I admitted to y'all that I flubbed it with these pumpkins before Halloween:
They were just not so cute, in my humble {yet absolutely correct} opinion.  Shortly after I took this picture I removed the black polka dot tights from the pumpkins and they spent the season plain.  It was kind of nice looking with the white ceramic jars in my creepy apothecary on the coffee table.  The nice thing about pumpkins is you can keep them  out all the way until you put up Christmas dècor.  I love a two-for-one! Then I saw these adorable Vera Bradley print pumpkins from Crafting Rebellion on Under the Table and Dreaming and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  All you have to do is mod-podge pretty patterned paper napkins on to your pumpkins and embellish.  They're so simple and pretty.



Mine turned out kinda' girly because I embellished them with satin ribbons, rosettes, and vintage buttons.  That's OK.  Even though we're in the minority here, girls do exist in this wild household.  I chose not to use traditional "fall" or Halloween colors.  That's OK, too.  Partly because I don't really like those colors and they don't go in my house and partly because it's my project, dang it, and I can do what I want.  The LED candles in the mason jars are a left over project from Youth Conference, but I thought they were cute.  {The fakey yellow flames don't look so fakey in real life.} I also created this printable last night that I plan to frame and add to the vignette the give it a little more of a Thanksgiving feel:
I was playing with highlights and shadows last night in Gimp and I liked how it came out looking like embossed painted tin or something.  As always, feel free to download it if you want it by clicking the image to make it full size then right clicking and saving it to your computer.  Now I need to track down the fifth pumpkin that belongs in this set.  Funny how inanimate objects "walk off" like that when you have boy children . . .
I'm linking up here:


11.08.2011

Yee Haw!

Why does it seem like everything happens at once?  It's been a busy couple of weeks for me at church.  Young Women in Excellence two weeks ago turned out perfectly.  Trunk-or-Treat was spectacular.  A little hectic, but great.  Youth Conference this past weekend was the end of my activity planning marathon and it too turned out better than any of us hoped it would.  We had a weekend full of western style games, line dancing, square dancing, service projects, delicious eating and an all-around good time.  Thanks bunches to everyone who lent a hand to make each of these activities fabulous!!  Now I can coast into the holidays . . . do a little blogging, some crafting, a whole lotta' sleeping and home organizing.  I'll be back tomorrow afternoon with a re-do for my 31 Days pumpkin craft fail that is perfect for the Thanksgiving season. 

11.02.2011

The Worst Mom Ever

Yep, that's me.  My children dressed up two or three times for Halloween this year and I didn't take one single picture.  I have excuses, sure.  I was one of the folks in charge of Trunk-or-Treat at church Saturday night so I was super busy.  Our power went out {just ours, not the neighborhood's} while we were eating dinner yesterday so I was digging out candles and messing with the circuit breakers when the kids were getting ready to go out.  But does it really matter?  At the end of the day I still have no pictures.  Thank goodness for others who have my back.  I found pictures of my two eldest on Facebook today.  Sydney was Luna Lovegood {from Harry Potter} this year.  Luckily there was a professional photographer at the tri-stake activity last Wednesday so I have these photos for posterity:

She ran into another Luna at the party so they got their pictures taken together.  Cute, huh?  Mine's the one in the pink glasses. She put that costume together all by herself.  I'm so proud.  *sniff, sniff*

Riley was an iPod Touch and our friend Chris took this picture of him with our other friend Tammy's camera at Trunk-or-Treat:
Where would I be without Chris and Tammy?  Now I just have to make D dress up again tomorrow and no one needs to know that I'm a loser mom.  Or else you could just pretend he is in this video, because that's what he dressed up as -- a Jabbawockee.  In fact, yeah, I think that IS him there on the left.  Second from the end.  Don't look too close.



Hope you all had a great day!

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