Sunday, October 30, 2016

Kid-Friendly Christmas Ideas - Part 1

Even though Halloween has not yet arrived, I've already been thinking about Christmas.  The special reason this year: ALL of our kids and grandkids will be here!  Which means, Grandma & Papa need to do a little "kid-proofing" in our house.  Do you have kiddos or grands visiting for the holidays? Here's some tips, tricks and hints on how to prep your house before their arrival!

Making the house safer for kids doesn't mean you have to live in a completely sterile space.  Moving treasures, heirlooms, and other breakables out of reach, is really for your own peace of mind, as well as the safety of the little ones.  For Ed and I, these changes will be short-term anyway, because most of our grandchildren live far away.

  1. Make lots of space, if you can!  Move out furniture that isn't  going to be needed for a few weeks.  Move in furniture that gives enough seating for adults, but still allows enough floor space for kids to crawl and play nearby.

  1. Move breakables & irreplaceable items to closet shelves, safely out of reach. Anything that's within a child's reach should be kid-friendly, so you won't be saying, "don't touch" like a broken record!  This will save stress on you, as well as the kids' parents. 

  1. If you have a working fireplace, you might want to invest in a special fireplace gate for safety. Currently, we don't use our fireplace for burning wood, however we do use romantic candles in place of logs.  This year, I want to light up the fireplace with some mini-lights and logs, as in the photo below, to give it a warmer, more Christmas-y feel, and still be kid-safe.


  1. If families with young kids are staying in your guest room, you might want to invest in child-sized cots (like these here and here) that fold up to store easily out of the way when not needed. Remember that some younger children will still need naps during the day, so this will be a safe place without the fear of falling off of Grandma's big bed!

  1. Although the myth about real Poinsettias being poisonous to kids and pets has been de-bunked, you might still want to use faux plants, to avoid the mess if they are tipped over. Here's what you should worry about children swallowing during the holidays: holly berries (which are toxic), hot drinks (which could scald) alcohol left in glasses, and small ornaments that look like food.


  1. Check under your bathroom sinks and remove anything hazardous, like cleaners, razors, shaving cream, medications and the like. Put it out of reach, or in a locked cabinet. You'd be surprised at how quickly a toddler can get into trouble, when "washing their hands".  I clearly remember my then-4 year old blonde girl putting clear nail polish on her eyelashes because she thought it was her Grandma's eye makeup!  We had to call poison control for that one, and thankfully she was fine.  Oh, which brings me to:  Look up the phone number for Poison Control in your area, and keep it on the fridge!  

  1. Look around for tripping hazards.  With all of our TVs, computers, tablets, etc. we often have all those charging cords everywhere.  Little people learning to crawl or walk can get tangled up, or accidentally pull something down.  This also applies to the elderly or anyone with a mobility issue. In addition, curtain or mini-blind cords, etc. can be a strangulation hazard, and need to be tied up high, and non-accessible to little ones.

As you can see, making your home a safe environment for young children to visit can also give you a clean slate on your way to decorating for the holidays!  

In upcoming posts, I'll show you how to make kid-friendly, unbreakable tree ornaments, that are still classic and neutral enough to add to your regular collection!  I'm anxious to show you some great ways I've come across to deter little ones from touching the tree; how to make a child-friendly nativity; and a tree that kids are encouraged to touch and decorate all on their own!


Christmas at Grandma and Papa's house is going to be fun for everyone!  So you don't miss a thing, be sure to follow me on Facebook, and catch up with me on Instagram and Twitter!



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Slow Cooker Squash Recipes

Hey Y'all!  Are you enjoying Fall where you are?  Here in Central Texas, our temps are finally cooling down (a bit) and that means I'm doing more baking and cooking!  I especially enjoy adding healthy, comfort foods like Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash, and Acorn Squash to our menus for some tasty variety.


Slow Cooker cooking makes the effort of preparing squash a lot easier, takes less time in the kitchen, and gives you more time to spend with your family.

Spaghetti Squash:

Spaghetti Squash
  • All you need is a slow cooker (crock pot) that will hold your whole spaghetti squash.
  • Wash the squash, and poke the skin all over with a fork.
  • Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. This will depend on how large your squash is.
  • Carefully remove the squash & let rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes, so you can handle it.
  • Halve the squash lengthwise with a sharp knife (it should be very easy to cut open).
  • Scoop out the seeds, and discard. Hint: I use an ice cream scoop.
  • With a fork, shred the squash into spaghetti-like strands into a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Reheat in microwave, and serve. (Or reheat in a pan on top of the stove.)
  • We enjoy spaghetti squash with butter, salt & pepper; some people rave about how great it tastes with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and meatballs!
  • (Note: to test for doneness, pierce squash with a fork. It should go in very easily.)


Butternut Squash:

Butternut Squash
  • Use the same prep and cooking method as for Spaghetti Squash. Cook on low 4 to 5 hours, or on high about 3 hours.
  • Remove the squash and let it rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes to cool down.
  • Carefully halve the squash lengthwise with a sharp knife.
  • Once you have removed the seeds, use a sharp knife to score it into cubes, or scoop it into a bowl.
  • Reheat in microwave, and serve.
  • Try with garlic butter, salt & pepper. 
Acorn Squash:

Green Acorn Squash
  • Use the same prep and cooking method as for the above Squash. Cook on high for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or on low for about 4 hours.  Remember to test with a fork.
  • Remove the squash and let it rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes, so you can handle it.
  • Halve the squash with a sharp knife, and remove the seeds.
  • Once you have removed the seeds, scoop out the cooked flesh with a metal spoon, into a microwave-safe bowl. 
  • Reheat in microwave, and serve.
  • Try with butter and brown sugar or pure maple syrup. MMMmmmm!
Babies love plain, cooked squash!  You can put it into a Baby Bullet or whisk it to make it into a puree for infants age 6 to 8 months old and up. Older babies and toddlers can eat small chunks or mashed squash easily; for spaghetti squash, I recommend you cut the strands up pretty well, to make it easier to swallow.



Cooked squash freezes well. Just let it cool down, put into a freezer-safe covered container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to six months. Don't forget to mark it with the date!  When ready to eat, thaw and then reheat on stove top or in the microwave.

Now that you see how easy it is to cook in the slow cooker, you'll want to explore new recipes, like Butternut Squash Soup, Cheesy Garlic Parmesan Spaghetti Squash, and Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash.  Mmmm, who's hungry?!




Sunday, October 9, 2016

Thanksgiving Printables

Sometimes, being a DIY blogger living in a rental house can be frustrating!  Can't paint the dark kitchen cabinets so that they are more farmhouse-style. No stenciling my favorite scripture verse over the entryway. However, what I can do is decorate with printables, and change them out with the seasons, holidays or just because!

Today, I'm sharing with you six Free Printables for your Thanksgiving decor. The backgrounds were created using Joanna Gaines' Market Collection colors "Shiplap" and "Ella Rose" so they would be neutral to fit into your home decor.  (Online colors may appear differently than actual printed signs, or from actual paint.)



Clicking on the photo above will take you to where each file lives, so you can download them.  Use one or all, but please remember that they are offered to you for your personal use only.

FREE THANKSGIVING PRINTABLES

As always, I would love it if you would share this with your friends by pinning, sharing on Facebook or Instagram!

Keep checking back for some upcoming Fall Recipes, too! (Crockpot Squash Recipes will save you effort and time!)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Thankful Table Runner & Napkins

Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays in the US and Canada; families and friends come together to celebrate the blessings of the year.  Gathering around the table for a feast is traditional and expected, just like the pumpkin pie for dessert! (The year we lived in Hawaii, Ed and I gathered around a picnic table at the beach!)

We've had a burlap runner on our table for about a year, but with no embellishment to it, just plain burlap.  After a recent slipcover project, I had a perfect length of canvas dropcloth left over, that paired well with the burlap, so I knew this was the opportunity to give it a little personality for our Thanksgiving table.


The length and width of your runner will of course depend on your table. **(add an extra 1-inch for the hems!)
Our table is 72" X 36", so my canvas table runner is 78" X 10" and the burlap under it is 84" X 12".  If our table was wider, I could have made a wider runner.

Y'all, I'm giving you alternate methods to complete this project, just choose what you like!

Supplies:

  • 12-inch wide burlap, optional because I layered the canvas over burlap
  • 10-inch wide canvas (or larger if you table is wide)
  • Thankful stencil OR printable (see below)
  • black craft paint OR black Laundry Sharpie Marker & graphite tracing paper
  • 3/4-inch Spouncer (found near craft paint), skip if using Sharpie method
  • newspaper to protect your surface
  • sewing machine and thread, OR use Iron-on Hem Tape
  • Iron & ironing board
Canvas will tear straight in one direction, so when you measure, add an extra 1/2-inch and save a lot of cutting on those long sides!
After measuring, and cutting the length of your canvas, fray the long sides slightly, and iron both ends with a quarter-inch hem. Simply fold over 1/4-inch, iron, fold it over another 1/4-inch, and iron. Do this on both ends.

No Sew Method:
Use Iron-On Hem Tape under your last fold, and iron. This will bond your hem into place.


Or, for a secure, permanent hem, sew a straight stitch down the center of both hems.  And that's all the sewing you have to do!


For the word Thankful, I used my Cricut cutting machine, and the "Sophisticated" cartridge. Using vinyl, I cut it out at 2-1/2-inch for the dial size, which made it approximately 8-inches by 2-1/2 inches. Cut 2 stencils, one for each side.
Place the stencil onto your fabric, with newspaper layers underneath, and "spounce" on the black paint, but use a gentle hand on the paint, you don't want too much on your spouncer, because it will bleed under the stencil. Allow to dry, and carefully peel off the stencil.




Alternate method:
If you don't have a cutting machine, it's okay... I didn't leave you out!  Click on this free printable I made just for you!  (You can size it to fit your runner using MS Word or Google Docs.)

Using graphite tracing paper, transfer the outline of the letters to your fabric. Then, use a black Sharpie marker to fill in the word, and have the same look on your table runner without a stencil or paint.

Here's a bonus method to print from your printer directly onto the canvas:
Spray adhesive spray onto a sheet of 8-1/2 X 11-inch cardstock. Apply a 8-1/2 X 11-inch piece of ironed canvas to the cardstock and smooth on completely. Make sure that the canvas fits the cardstock with no overhang, and that the edges are crisply cut, not ragged.
Run this through your printer as if it were just cardstock (you might have to change your settings to photo, to get more ink onto the canvas). Make two, one for each end of the runner.
I have done this method successfully when I made this bunting:


After it has printed, peel the canvas from the cardstock, trim to the correct size for your runner, and fray the edges. Now you can apply this piece of canvas onto your runner, using more of the iron-on hem tape, or sew it on.  
**Please note: I'm not positive of the wash-ability of the table runner, if you use paint or a regular Sharpie permanent marker. If you plan on washing it, I  would recommend you use a black LAUNDRY marking Sharpie, this would probably be washable on gentle with mild detergent, without bleeding.

Whatever method you choose to use, you'll use this table runner for many Thanksgivings! Because natural canvas is a neutral color, it will go nicely with many different decor styles, including my favorite Farmhouse-Style. Small packages of canvas are readily available at most home improvement stores, like Home Depot or Lowe's, and you will have plenty of canvas for many projects! Make some table runners to give as gifts!
**Ed bought us some new dishes (The Pioneer Woman), so I just had to show you how pretty our Thanksgiving table looks!





What do you think of this table runner?  Let me know, either in the comments below, or find me on Facebook and Instagram.

**Using the same drop cloth canvas, I sewed up ten napkins!  It's just a straight stitch, so it's easy for even beginners to sew!
  • Cut fabric into 20 X 20-inch squares. (Canvas happens to tear straight in one direction, which helps)
  •  Iron the hems all the way around: Fold over 1/4-inch, iron; fold it over another 1/4-inch, and iron.  Do this on all four sides of each napkin.





  • Use a straight stitch on your machine to neatly finish the edges!  By sewing the napkins, they are easily washable, and shouldn't fray.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love!