Thursday, January 27, 2011

Valentine Mantle

I have a small box of Valentine Decorations. They used to share the same box as the Easter Decorations, but when my Easter Decor expanded last year, the Valentine goodies got moved to another box:

A Plain Brown Box
A Box that is quite small compared to all the other boxes in my garage
An Unmarked Box
A Box that was nowhere to be found in the very large pile of mostly Christmas boxes

Just when I thought we were going to have to celebrate Valentines Day without any decorations - I spied that Little Brown Box. Sitting in the corner, carefully tucked out of harms way by my sweet hubby as he was putting away the Christmas stuff - just waiting for me.
Sweet Man of Mine.

And so - we decorated for Valentines Day. Pretty much everything went up on the Mantle in the Family Room.

Valentine Mantle Almost

This is how the fireplace usually looks.


The brick goes from floor to ceiling with a shallow mantle also made of brick.


It's very shallow. Just barely deep enough to hold a few votives. It makes decorating a bit of a challenge because basic things like candle holders and books won't fit.


The hearth is decorated with a basket of firewood some Rustic Green bottles.


I've collected and made the Valentine decorations over a period of several years, and this is the first time they have been displayed all in one place. Without even realizing it - I've got a bit of a bird theme going on.


Cute little Love Birds found on clearance a few years ago.

Love Birds

I made this banner from pre-cut shapes found at Michaels (I don't think they have them anymore). They already had the holes drilled in them. All I had to do was embellish with scrapbook papers and string them together.


The edges were painted and distressed. Buttons, ribbons and flowers were used to embellish the letters. I used a white paint pen to add stitching details.

Love Banner

I also made a paper heart wreath at the same time, using the same scrapbook papers.

Heart Wreath

A simple heart shaped frame made from cardboard was embellished with a variety of punched flower shapes. Buttons, ribbons and brads form the flower centers.

Paper Heart Wreath

Once the mantle display was all put together, it still seemed a little off balance. There was something else needed on the other side by the ceramic birdie plate (found at Safeway/Dominick's just this year).

So I rummaged through all my things and found a cute pink painted flower pot (previously used as a pudding cup at a birthday party). I thought about putting some red flowers in it, but I had none on hand, and really wanted to finish this project without having to purchase something new.

How about a red tissue covered ball sitting atop the flower pot?

Sounds good, but I have no styrafoam ball to use as a base - and also no red tissue paper.

I have an idea

But I do have some extra round light bulbs (from several houses ago that I will never use so please don't ask why I'm still keeping them).


And I have red (and pink) napkins. Those will work.

Napkin Flower Supplies

So I made a bunch of red napkin paper flowers. Using the twist and fold method that I'm sure you have seen done before. I cut the napkins into 1" - 1 1/2" strips and just twisted them around in a snail shape, starting with the center and working my way out.

Napkin Paper Rose

A little glue on the light bulb holds them in place.


Because they are made of paper - and easily manipulated, you don't have to worry about filling in the gaps between the flowers.


You can just squish them together until the gap is covered.


The finished paper flower ball (or in this case - light bulb).

Be Mine

I added a few layered buttons to the flower ball for some additional interest.

Paper Rose Potted Ball

And that completes our Valentine Decorated Mantle.

Valentine Mantle Final

Although I am thinking about making another larger napkin flower ball to sit on the hearth next to the green bottles.

But first I have to go buy a styrafoam base, because I don't think I have a light bulb that big.

Looking for some Valentine Decorating Inspiration? Check out all these fantastic ideas at Beth's Valentine Mantle Linky Party.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For My Brother

Today is my Big Brother's Birthday.

Recently he has been writing some lovely poetic tributes for each of our family members on their Birthdays. I thought about sending him a Poem that I composed for him, but couldn't put the words together quite right.

So I decided to give him a Birthday tribute in my style - using pictures.

He is all these things and much more:


My Brother
(created using Wordle)

Happy Birthday Keith!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rescued Bulbs

I have these sweet little bulbs popping up all over my back yard.

Sprouting Bulbs

Poor little things have been chopped down by the lawn mower over and over again.

Bulbs in the Yard

Their tiny little tops being cut off just when they think it's safe to peek out of the ground.

So today I rescued them. Dug them up from the yard.

I have no idea what they are:
Paper Whites?

New Home

With any luck - we'll find out soon enough.


They have been propped up in a pretty glass bowl, filled with pebbles and water and now sit by my kitchen window ready to drink up the sunshine.


I hope those little roots stretch their legs - right now they look pretty cramped and uncomfortable.


There are plenty more. These will be transplanted elsewhere in the yard. Somewhere safe from the lawnmower.

Garden Bench

Next time - remind me that I have a perfectly good potting bench where these sorts of gardening adventures should take place instead of in the kitchen.

Better go mop up the muddy floor.

It's beginning to feel like Spring - at least today.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pantry Cooking

At this time of year - it seems the Crock Pot and I are old friends. But some times I'm just not in the mood for something soupy - or shredded.

But I still don't make the time to meal plan (or grocery shop), so I love having recipes that use mostly pantry items - things that I always have on hand.

This is one of my favorites. I usually have frozen hamburger, but even when I don't remember to let it thaw - I can always run to the store and pick up just that one item. Or better yet - have hubby pick it up on his way home. All the other ingredients are part of my Pantry Staples.

Warning: these photos are not pretty. The finished product is brown, covered with brown. I didn't even dress up the plate with a green garnish - because it was late - and we were hungry.

I tried to add some pretty yellow corn in the background for color - with a beautiful dob of butter melting on the top. But sweet hubby tried to help and mixed it all together before I got a photo.

But it tastes yummy - and that's what really counts (at least when you are pantry cooking).

Pantry Cooking

Ketchup. Lea and Perrin's (because I can't spell Worcestershire Sauce), Bread Crumbs (Italian Seasoned - of course), mustard (only the spicy brown kind will do for my tastes), and Canned French Onion Soup.

I use the canned Onion Soup almost as much as I use the dry packets. If it's not one of your Pantry Staples - you should give it a try. You will be amazed at what you can season with that lovely little can.


Salt, pepper, eggs (had to check on that one since we used a ton with our holiday baking) and ground beef.


Mix together the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and part of the can of soup. Form the mixture into patties. They have to be oval shaped - or else they will look like Hamburgers. Salisbury Steak patties are always oval. Don't know why - but I guarantee they won't taste the same if they are not oval.

The patties are browned in a saucepan (use a little oil if you hamburger meat is low fat) and removed from the pan. The remaining ingredients are then added to the pan to bring up all the lovely brown bits from the bottom and stirred together. Add the patties back in, cover and let simmer until cooked through.


I added an extra can of soup in the meal shown in this photo - because we also had mashed potatoes and I like lots of gravy. The basic recipe creates less sauce and is usually served on a platter rather than in a bowl. The patties are always super moist and tasty because they have cooked in the sauce.

Salisbury Steak

1 10 1/2 oz. can condensed French Onion Soup
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. salt
dash pepper

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tablespoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon flour

Mix together 1/3 of the can of soup, beef, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper. Shape into 6 oval patties. Brown patties in a saute pan using oil if necessary. Pour off any excess fat and remove patties from pan.
Add remaining soup, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Gently stir. In a small bowl, gradually blend flour into water until smooth and stir into soup mixture. Add patties back into pan, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ten on Ten: January

A photo taken every Hour, for Ten consecutive hours, on the Tenth of the month. You can read more about it here.

More than Dew

Chilly way to start the day - even the morning dew was frozen

Pink Piggy

Little K's Bento Lunch

Bench Monday

Bench Monday: Stand on a Bench, Wear something pretty, Extra points for live props, Double points for chickens. Come join the fun

Giving them out

Yep - I'm a hugger - one of my favorite Christmas gifts

A Quiet Nook

A quite corner


12:00 already - where does the time go?


Baxter - he's a Red Bellied Parrot and it's his 14th Birthday this month


All the Christmas decor packed up and put away - except for one (Argh)


Creativity tools


Salisbury Steak for dinner

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Party Refreshments for Nancy Drew and her Clue Crew

Now that it's the beginning of a new year, talk has started around our house about what kind of party Little K will have for her Birthday this year (in March).

That made me realize, that I never finished posting about her Nancy Drew Birthday Party from Last year! Yikes - I guess a little thing like picking up your family and moving them to another state got in the way.

Food Table

So here we are, with the Old Fashioned Luncheon Menu for our Nancy Drew Super Sleuths:

Deviled Eggs and Mini Pigs in the Blanket

Deviled Eggs and Mini Pigs in the Blanket

PB & J

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches - with the crusts cut off. The paper bands are made from coordinating scrapbook paper and add a little color to the plate.

Old Fashioned Jello Mold

We had to have a Layered Jello Salad. I found a vintage mint green Tupperware mold on e-bay. You can't tell in the photo, but it's actually 4 rainbow colors of jello layered. It was a pretty hot day, and the whipped cream started to melt down the sides and covered the layers.

Cheese and Fruit

Cheese and Fruit Cups

Veggies and Dip

Veggies and Dip

The Drink Station

And a Beverage Station with Pink Lemonade

Tub O Root Beer

Bottles of Root Beer

Water Jugs

And little Jugs of Water embellished with paper bands

Super Sleuth Picnic

After a hard day of Super Sleuthing - the girls enjoyed a relaxing picnic on the lawn.

You can see other elements of Little K's Nancy Drew Birthday Party here:

Invitations, Sweets Table, Decorations, The Perfect Outfit, Mystery Game