Wednesday, November 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!!

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Sunday, November 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 . . .

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Thursday, November 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!

Visit Sponsor's Site


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Wednesday, November 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.

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Friday, November 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:





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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:



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Thursday, November 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:


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Tuesday, November 8, 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. 

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Wednesday, November 2, 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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