Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Greeting Cards

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving is just one short week away!  Many of you have been preparing for family gatherings by changing the sheets in the guest room, buying the non-perishable part of your Thanksgiving meal and putting an extra leaf in the table.

Have you sent your Thanksgiving cards yet?  Here are a few for inspiration.  (In case you are not hosting Thanksgiving and have a few minutes to cobble together some cards!)

Thanksgiving card with pewter charm
The card shown here is enhanced with a pewter pumpkin charm.  You'll also note the sheer ribbon which unites the circles across the top third of the card.  Keep the colors either muted, clear or bright.  I chose shades of pumpkin, sage, paprika and leaf brown to perpetuate the theme.  An alternate color scheme of neon shades would make an adorable birthday card. 
Thanksgiving card with pewter charm

How cute are these papers with the acorns?  I love the bag o' leaves pewter charm!  The brown grosgrain ribbon adds unity and simplifies the busy patterns.  Card sentiment says "For You". 

Greeting cards with freestyle trees
The cute, multi-colored trees on the above card are suitable for many occasions.  I especially like the free-form tree trunks and embroidery floss tied on the center tree.  Don't be afraid to mix shades of green for the hills.  Also pull scraps from different manufacturers for the foliage circles.  Variety is preferred on a card like this. 

I will be sure to post more cards for you to use as inspiration! Pin It Now!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Green Tea Sugar Scrub

Monday, November 12, 2012

Green Tea Sugar Scrub in 2 ounce jar
Green Tea Sugar Scrub in the 2oz jar

Well, the kids are FINALLY back to school!  Yes, they were home for two weeks in my little section of the world due to power outages from Hurricane Sandy.  The power is mostly back on, although a few homes are still dark and cold.  We are so appreciative of the folks from Duke Power who have come north to help out in NJ.  You guys ROCK!

Now, if you have been cleaning up after the hurricane, or have rough hands from house cleaning, taking care of animals, scrubbing stains and more...I have got something that can help:  Green Tea Sugar Scrub!

It's the easiest thing to make and it really works!  This is not one of those things you see on Pinterest that ends up a waste of time and effort.  AND you will only need ingredients you probably have on hand.

You start with about a cup of granulated sugar in a bowl.  Add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil.  (More or less according to how moist you like your scrub.  Mix thoroughly.  It should look something like this:

Granulated sugar and olive oil in a bowl

Then you add a drop of two of fragrance oil and stir to distribute.  I love this Green Tea fragrance oil from Home Essense:
Green Tea Fragrance Oil

Next, decided how you want to package your sugar scrub.  I like things in neat little packages, so I chose to pack the sugar scrub in clean baby food jars.  Ask around, I'm sure you can find a friend or neighbor with way too many baby food jars!

Use a small spoon to pack the sugar scrub into the jars, then wipe the top edge. 

Sugar scrub in baby food jars

I put a circle of scrapbook paper on the lid to hide the brand of baby food.  I also glued a piece of ribbon around the edge of the lid.  You can hand-write or use your computer to make a label for the jars.  I included instructions on mine. 

To Use:
Massage 1/4 teas onto hands.
Rinse and dry.

Feel free to add stickers, rhinestones, buttons, Jolee's cutouts or other decorative items to the lids or labels.

Green Tea Sugar Scrub
Don't you love the three sizes?
Small, Medium and Large Green Tea Sugar Scrubs
I decided to make three sizes of the sugar scrub.  I used 2oz, 4oz and 6oz baby food jars.  (Sterilized of course!)

Green Tea Sugar Scrub, Christmas gift idea

Make extras of these, because once your friends, co-workers and sisters try this, they will want more!  What a lovely gift idea.  Green Tea Sugar Scrub is versatile because you can dress the jar for any shower, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday or just because.  Enjoy!

Green Tea Sugar Scrub

Green Tea Sugar Scrub

Green Tea Sugar Scrub

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sea Salt Foot Scrub

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First of all, a HUGE thank you to all Veterans who have served our country and enabled the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States.  It is a selfless thing that you have done and we appreciate it.

Today we are talking about Sea Salt Foot Scrub.  It's very effective for ridding yourself of dry, flaky skin.  Cold weather is coming and the feet can suffer extreme dryness.  The Sea Salt Foot Scrub recipe I have is easy, quick AND makes a lovely gift!

Green Tea Sea Salt Foot Scrub

First you start with sea salt...easily found in most grocery stores.  Put about a cup in a bowl.  Next add olive oil.  The amount can vary, depending on how "juicy" you want the scrub.  I used about 2 teaspoons.  Then stir to evenly distribute the oil.  Next you can add your favorite scent.  I used Green Tea scented fragrance oil.  Just a few drops will do, depending on how strongly scented you want the scrub. 

Now mix together until well blended.  You can then put the scrub into small jars, a plastic container or even a Ziploc bag.  If you plan to give as gifts, you will want to attractively package your scrub.  Packaging is everything!  Wouldn't you rather receive an adorable little jar of scrub instead of a snack bag? 

Ok, to make it cute, I used clean baby food jars with the labels removed.  (I asked my some friends with young children for their jars, since my kids are well out of the baby food stage!)  Thanks Nina and Kathy!

I used a small spoon to pack the salt scrub into the jars, wiping the edge when the jar is full. 

Then you can decide what to do with the lids.  Right now they say Gerber, or Beechnut or Tender Harvest...probably NOT what you want your gift to say.  I attempted to spray paint the lids.  I wasn't pleased with the uneven results.

I opted instead to wrap a thin ribbon around the side of the lid and cut scrapbooking paper for the top of the lid.  It looks so pretty!  The only thing left to do was make a label with the product name and short instructions for use.  Once this was glued on, I tied a ribbon around the neck of the jar and voila!  Total cuteness!

Green Tea Sea Salt Foot Scrub

Wouldn't you like to make this for teachers, bus drivers, administrative assistants, hair stylists and more?  Oh yes, and don't forget to keep some for is lovely to have soft feet.

My next post will be the sugar hand scrub I tried...stay tuned! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spaghetti Pie

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

We have been speaking about acts of kindness.  I am going to share with you a recipe for a GREAT dish to share with others.  Spaghetti Pie. It is kid-friendly, just ask my children's friends who LOVE this!  It is great to bring with a salad and bread to your aunt who recently had surgery, a friend who lost a parent or a family just bringing home a baby.

A dear lady I know recently had surgery and my Heartworks group is making meals for her.  Yesterday, since so many are still without power, and I am fortunate enough to have lights and heat, I made this meal to bring to her.

This recipe is easy, quick and great for making ahead and freezing.

You begin by cooking a pound of spaghetti in salted water. (I used Botticelli)
Botticelli spaghetti

When it is cooked, drain and stir a little margarine or butter into the warm pasta.  Add some grated Parmesan cheese and two eggs. 

Cooked pasta with Parmesan cheese and eggs

Stir until blended. Then press the pasta into two greased glass pie plates, forming a crust.

pasta crust

Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown a pound and a half of ground beef with some dried minced onion.

browned ground beef

Once meat is completely browned, drain and add a can of tomato sauce (I like Luigi Vitelli), a little sugar, oregano, basil and garlic powder.

oregano, basil and garlic powderLuigi Vitelli tomato sauce

Heat this mixture on the stove.  Once meat and sauce are warm, spread on top of pasta crust like this:

meat and sauce on pasta crust

Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese (or other cheese of your choice.)
cheese added

You can wrap and freeze the dishes at this point.  OR to serve right away, bake covered for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Spaghetti Pie

Makes two Spaghetti Pies, 6 servings each.

Spaghetti Pie

1 lb dry spaghetti
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 T dried minced onion
1 (16oz) can Luigi Vitelli tomato sauce
1 t sugar
2 t dried oregano
2 t garlic powder
1 t dried basil
Additional Parmesan (or mozzarella, cheddar) cheese for topping

Cook the pasta and drain.  Stir margarine or butter into hot pasta until melted.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese and eggs.  Form the pasta mixture into a crust shape in each of two greased 9" pie pans.  In a skillet, cook ground beef until no pink remains, and drain.  Add onion, tomato sauce, sugar, oregano, garlic powder and basil.  Heat through.  Top the pasta crust with the meat mixture, leaving a 1" border.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Cover pan with foil, label and freeze.  If desired, bake immediately for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven and enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Well, we are still cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy.  It is a week after the Frankenstorm hit and school has yet to be re-opened.  Power has not been restored to most of my area.  At my house we were fortunate enough to have power restored on Friday evening.  Just four days of cold and dark for my family.  Most are not so lucky.  Many areas have been affected.  No doubt you've heard on the news about Staten Island, Lower Manhattan, and the Jersey Shore areas like Seaside Heights and Toms River. 

What many do NOT realize is that people over two hours away from the shore are without electric seven days later and have trees toppled like bowling pins.  Today I ventured out to the grocery store and just on the 3-4 mile trip I saw three houses still with trees leaning on the roof, power lines hanging so low there were cones to keep me from hitting them, and trees just mowed like Kentucky Bluegrass. 

The bizarre thing is in this part of the state is that some houses are virtually unaffected.  Many residents have done their leaf clean-up and picked up a few branches that ended up in the yard.  The image is complete tranquility.  Then you drive a little further down the road and come upon five trees in one yard that are horizontal. 

I know this is not the kind of devastation encountered elsewhere.  You cannot compare loss of a few trees in the back yard to someone's total loss of a home or the loss of life.  However, we ARE impacted in significant ways here too.  A couple from town was killed, leaving four children without parents.  Many roads are still impassible.  Lines are still down.  The less fortunate do not have generators and the night time temperatures are below 30 degrees. 

It costs a lot of money to have trees cut, chopped, carted away.  Gas is rationed, so even those with generators need to be concerned about having enough fuel to run them.  (AND a few days ago, we couldn't even find gas storage cans ANYWHERE!)  That situation has finally been resolved, but it puts a little panic in your heart when you think you can't get the things you need.

Oh I didn't mention that on Wednesday we are looking at anywhere from a "Wintry Mix" to "6 inches of snow" and a high wind advisory. 

For those who live in another part of the country, I encourage you to consider making a donation to the Red Cross or other Hurricane Relief organization.  We all must stick together in times like these!

I have witnessed so many acts of kindness during this time.  (A subject near and dear to my heart.)  People are helping each other get through.  Groups in Pennsylvania, Vermont, Rhode Island are sending truckloads of supplies to areas most affected.  Volunteers from all over have come to NY and NJ to provide relief.  Neighbors are watching each other's kids, sharing generators/gas and resources.  Some are bringing coffee, bagels and donuts to relief workers. 

It truly helps to know that this area is being thought of by others around the country.  I encourage you to find a way, right now in your own community to help someone--whether you are reeling from Hurricane Sandy or are far enough away from the East Coast not to be affected. 

Bring a meal to someone recovering from surgery.  Loan a leaf-blower to a friend or better yet DO some yard work for your friend.  Thank an employee who does a good job.  Be sympathetic, you never know what someone is dealing with. Look for the goodness out there.  The more you look, the more you will find. 

"Kindness is like snow--
it beautifies everything it covers."

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stormy Night

November 1, 2012

"It was a dark and stormy night..."  is usually the beginning of a thrilling book we read for entertainment.  Millions of people in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York experienced a dark and stormy night at the hands of Sandy, a rare hurricane that came onshore in New Jersey.  It was a terrifying night:  winds howling with a sound I've never heard before.  Those who live in hurricane or tornado prone areas know what I mean.  It's almost other-worldly.

Equally terrifying was the sound of trees snapping from their strongholds and waiting to see where THAT one would fall.  Over and over, as our family playing cards to distract ourselves from the mayhem outside, trees cracked and crashed to the ground.

Now here was the miraculous part:  I took a break from playing blackjack with the family and walked to the front of the house.  I peered out the large window of my bedroom, straining to see anything with the blackness and the raindrops on the window.  I silently prayed to God to please protect my family from harm.  I asked that he place his loving arms around our house and keep us safe.  I was specifically watching two trees situated not far from our house as I fervently prayed.

As I strained to make out shapes in the dark, I watched as the 60' tall tree closest to the house was uprooted and poofed to the ground.  I just said poofed to the ground, because it did NOT make the same sound we had been hearing all evening.  It fell rather delicately as if it landed on a pillow.

Chills ran through my body because this 60' tall lichen covered tree fell miraculously in the ONLY spot it could without causing harm.  It could have hit the house, it could have blocked our driveway, it could have blocked the road, could have ripped the lines down, but instead fell toward our neighbor's driveway and didn't even throw a branch onto his blacktop!

It was as if God was playing flick football with the tree!  To witness such power is truly awesome and it is an experience I will never forget.

I am full of gratitude to God for watching over my family and sparing us the worst of the storm.  The impact for us is largely inconvenient at this point and not devastating.

The next day brought light and the reality of what had passed through the Mid-Atlantic states.  You've seen enough news broadcasts to know the depth of the destruction.  I won't detail all the sights I saw, but suffice it to say it looked like a hurricane went through.  (I say that with a small smile, because it reminds me of my mom telling me my room looked like a hurricane went through it when I was a kid.)  Now I know what it REALLY looks like.

When power is restored I can add photos to show you...but until then...stay safe everyone and try to show a bit of kindness to your neighbor!

Sixty foot tree in our front yard
The 60' tree laying in our front yard.
Uprooted tree
Uprooted tree
Another view
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