Friday, October 30, 2009

Autumn Bran Muffins

I made these great muffins last week, that I thought I would share. They actually started as a pumpkin bread recipe, that I adapted into these muffins. I had a large can of pumpkin, and made a loaf of pumpkin bread. I also made a single-pie recipe of pumpkin pie filling, to use in making 6-dozen mini pumpkin pies. Then, I had 1/2 cup of pumpkin left over... and I got creative and made this recipe up!

I did have some beautiful photos of my yummy muffins to share... but as I was downloading photos from my camera into the computer, the memory card decided to tell me that it was empty! Soooo frustrating when that happens! That is why I am always encouraging people to download their photos often!!!!

Yesterday and today my kids had writing celebrations at school. It was great because my parents are visiting from Arizona, so they got to go to school, too. In fact, we had scheduled in advance for Grampa Jack to make a presentation to Jacob's class yesterday all about his former career as a firefighter! Of course we took a lot of pictures. Sadly, those classroom photos are lost forever due to my recent camera glitch. I am thankful that I only lost those two days, and not any other pictures. I am glad I didn't lose weeks, or months of photos. Just because a memory card holds hundreds of picures, doesn't mean you should fill it up! So, please, please, please.... back up your photos often!!!!

Ok, here is the awesome recipe!

Autumn Bran Muffins
Makes 24 muffins, or 48 mini muffins

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup bran (I use a combination of 1/2 wheat bran & 1/2 oat bran)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soft butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup milk

Add Ins:
1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup pineapple tidbits
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter muffin pans, or line with paper liners. Sift together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together; then add eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, and milk. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Mix in nuts, pineapple, and dried cranberries. Drop by spoonfuls into muffin tins. Bake until browned on top and toothpick tester comes out clean: 25-30 minutes for muffins, 15-20 minutes for mini muffins.

These were so yummy! I made mini muffins, which everyone loved. And, since they are very low fat, I didn't feel guilty about adding a little bit of butter to mine when I ate them.

For more great pumpkin recipes, check out Bridget's beautiful blog!

Bake at 350

I am also linking up with Jen's Tasty Tuesday!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Free Digital Designs!

Yesterday I showed off some scrapbook Page Prints I made for Gil's parents. I have to tell you that these pages were SO QUICK to put together! I used Predesigned Pages from Creative Memories Cottage Garden collection! {Click over to see them!}

Aren't these pages beautiful???! Within StoryBook Creator, I just had to drag & drop my photos, click to add my text. I had the pages for Gil's parents completed in about an hour one evening.

I also love the papers and embellishments in the Cottage Garden Digital Kit. Aren't they yummy?

I have sewn almost all my life. I love to walk through a fabric store with my arms out, touching all the fabrics. That is what these designs make me want to do... touch them all! Instead I feast my eyes on them and dream of the next project I can use them for!

And you know what? If you have StoryBook Creator Plus software, an upgrade to StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0 is available. It adds even more features and flexibility to this user-friendly, powerful design program! The upgrade also includes ALL of the Cottage Garden Predesigned Pages, and the entire Cottage Garden Digital Kit {an $18 value}!!!! Right now, through 10/31/09 the upgrade CD or download is only $9.95 (you must already have SBC+). After November 1st it will be $19.95.

Don't have StoryBook software yet? It is only $64.95.

Or, we also have a FREE version that allows you to make beautiful StoryBooks in multiple sizes as well as Page Prints.

Digital scrapbooking really is easy! Ready to give it a try? I am here to help you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Visit from Mom & Dad!

I am so excited that my parents are coming to visit next week! They will be here for two weeks, two days. They are coming to North Carolina all the way from Arizona. I usually get to see my mom twice a year when she visits it is a real treat!

So then I realized that I had never posted about Gil's parents visit in August. We hadn't seen them for quite some time, so it was especially nice to have them here. They were able to stay a week.

We took them to visit the Billy Graham Library, a must-see for visitors to Charlotte!

The kids loved having their grandparents around! They got to go out to the movies, out to eat, and just hang out. The timing was perfect, too. A week or so later, and the kids would have been back in school. Instead, they got to spend the whole week with their grandparents.

Gil's parents actually met almost 50 years ago in cosmetology school! So Grandpa was happy to give haircuts to Zac and Abbie. Abbie had been ready to donate her beautiful red hair to Locks of Love for a while, so she finally got it cut.

Zachary was also ready for his trim. He sure looks thrilled... {ah, the joys of an almost 13 year old!}

It was a wonderful visit. We so appreciated them making the trip from Southern California to visit us. I put these pages together and had them printed as 8x8 Page Prints.

I actually designed the pages as 12x12 pages, that will go into my family album. One thing I love about digital scrapbooking is that I can create something in one size and print it in another. These pages are personalized for Gil's parents, but before I had them printed for our album, I changed the wording to be more appropriate for us, rather than "to" them.
I love this sturdy PicFolio Max album... each page is a giant pocket. Traditional scrapbook pages or digital Page Prints can be slipped inside. I used an 8x8 PicFolio Max for the Page Prints I made Gil's parents. Every once in a while I can mail them additional layouts for them to simply slip into their book! I love this way to keep in touch. And I love that I could quickly send them a wonderful keepsake of their visit to North Carolina.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A DIY Sign!

I recently shared my fall decor here, and showed off this sign I made. I really appreciate the nice comments I received about it. I have to tell you that I was SO tickled with how it turned out! Truly, I had an idea of what I wanted it to be, but it turned out so much better than I imagined. And best of all, it was practically free!! Love that!

First, I started with this frame that I had forever. It was actually meant to be hung vertically, and had opening for five 4x6 photos. Somehow I had never filled it and it was just gathering dust. Then, after a few moves, the glass broke. My husband tried tossing it, but I was already thinking that it would make a great sign. Of course, first I had to remove the broken glass and spray paint it black.

My inspiration was this vinyl rub-on that says "autumn" and is about 8"x2". Unfortunately, the frame needed some backing on which to apply this word and the other embellishments I had planned. No problem. I figured I could go to the local craft store and get a sheet of mat board. And, that sheet would allow me to make not one, but several signs!!!

I was excited to peruse the vast array of beautiful colors of mat board, to choose one for this project... that would also be adaptable for other signs. And then the guy behind the counter told me that only black and white mat board was sold retail. Ok. I could deal with that. I could alter white mat board and make it work. I could. So I said I would take a white piece of mat board.

"That will be $14.99," he said.

"I have a coupon!" I exclaimed.

Then I got the bad news: coupons were not accepted for mat board or framing glass. "Never mind." I would come up with a different plan.

So I took my cute shoes over to Lowes and walked up and down the lumber aisles looking for an affordable solution. The funny thing was that I had to walk around two employees standing in the middle of the lumber aisle talking to each other. Neither offered to help me. They must have thought I was lost, or just looking for the restroom! But then I rounded a corner and this younger man with multiple piercings and interesting facial hair configurations asked if I needed help.

He showed me a few possibilities and I decided on a 4'x8' piece of press board for only $7! Now that is 1/2 the price of the mat board, and more than twice the quantity! I would have had to cut the mat board myself. Instead, this nice man cut my piece of pressboard to size for me! With power tools. I ordered four pieces cut to 6"x36" to fit in my frame. I could make four signs!!! No, wait, while he was at it, I changed my mind and had him cut SIX for me!

I was thrilled with my find. It is economical and has a smooth finish for painting. Pressboard is something I think I have seen as the backing of bookcases, or a childhood toy box. So not only did I leave Lowes with my six pieces to make six signs, I also had six smaller scraps, and this other huge leftover piece that I barely wrestled into my van. The nice man had offered to cut the big piece down for me to make it more manageable, but I don't know what other wonderful ideas I might have down the road, and I wanted to leave it as large as possible!

With ordinary acrylic craft paints, I put down a couple coats of cream. Then I thinned down a goldish-brown and used a rag to rub in around the edges.

I wanted some fall motif or graphic on this sign, so I decided to pull out an old scrapbooking technique and paper piece some pumpkins. I googled pumpkins and found a simple graphic I liked, printed out a couple of different sizes, chose some patterned papers, and cut out the pieces to assemble these pumpkins. I like the folksy, not perfect quality about them.

I felt like I needed another word or words to go with "autumn" and to fill up all the space I had. I came up with "blessings". I was a bit puzzled as to how I would accomplish these letters since I am no artist. I do have large sticker letters I love using, and considered using them here. The only problem was that I was one "S" short. So then I was inspired to use the used up sticker outlines as stencils! These stickers are thick, like cardstock, so they actually worked like a charm. The empty "S" held up really well as I lifted and reapplied it three times to stencil the word "Blessings". I loved how this part turned out!

Next was my very first attempt to apply vinyl rub-on letters. Let me just say that I was glad I wasn't doing something larger on a wall. I think I got the hang of it, and it did turn out pretty well.

My last step was to punch out a number of autumn leaves from scrapbook paper for added cuteness. I used hot glue to apply the pumpkins and the leaves to the board. I popped the board into the frame, and I was done!

I am thrilled with the results. It was fun and easy... and so rewarding! I am trying to decide if I should varnish it, or leave it natural? I can't wait to see what I come up with for my other five signs. And maybe sometime I will share how I do paper piecing.

I am linking up with Kimba's DIY Day... hop over there for even more ideas!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stinky socks, soggy towels... and service

A few months ago, my husband received a huge perk at work: the opportunity to use the gym in the office building. Since he enjoys working out, I was very happy for him that he could get some daily exercise and stress relief during his work day. He works out on his lunch hour, takes a shower, and returns to work.

He was working from noon-9pm. Around 11:30am, before he left for work, he would pick up his gym bag from where he had dropped it the night before when he got home, dump out his soggy, stinky towel, socks, shorts, and t-shirt, then stuff new clothes and towel in, and go.

And I was left with this pile. Each day. Yuck.

And, honestly, my attitude was pretty yucky as well.

But God reminded me of how I am seeking to honor and serve my husband.

So often, we wives can come up with our own ideas of what that service should look like. But is it really what would best bless our husbands? Sometimes I am guilty of doing things for my husband that I would like done for me... and then wondering why he isn't more appreciative. God showed me that here was my opportunity. And it wasn't about me being appreciated. It was all about serving Gil with love and selflessness, meeting his needs.

My attitude did a quick turn around.

And, God gifted me with a plan.

First, I gathered up some spare towels and several sets of workout clothes for Gil. I put them into bundles, ready for the week. I had a wire rack with hooks sitting around in the garage that I attached to the laundry room wall. Before bed, I unpack his gym bag, hanging the soggy items on the hooks to dry. Each morning, I pack a fresh, new bundle of gym gear in his bag, ready for him to grab as he leaves for work. As I do laundry, I replenish my basket of workout wear.

Most importantly, I do this in love... without attitude, without feeling put-upon... feeling privileged that I can serve my husband in this small way.

At first, Gil was a little puzzled. He said I didn't have to do that for him. He told me he appreciates it. He certainly doesn't expect it.

I have a basket of love sitting in the laundry room, ready.

And I am reminded of how my Lord takes me and my stinky, soggy mess and He restores me. Now, that is love.

I am linking up with Emily's Tuesdays Unwrapped... check out her blog for more celebrations of ordinary moments.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Family Fun!

Last Sunday was Family Day at our church. This was our fourth year attending. Last year and the year before we served as volunteers... this year we just enjoyed! Actually, my family enjoyed the many activities, while I stayed put in my chair and endured a migraine. But it was a beautiful day. And the kids were really, really glad we got to go!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Fall Y'all!

I love fall! I am enjoying the cooler weather, the leaves starting to turn colors, and the crisp nights. Last week I was itching to put up some fall decor to celebrate this glorious transition. I have two garlands of fake fall leaves... one I stuffed into a container and hung on my front door. Instant happiness!

I added the second garland to the mantle in our family room. I found some mini pumpkins at the grocery store for $.50 each to add in. And then, the most fun thing I did last week... I made the sign that is sitting on the floor! I used materials I had on hand and it came together better than I had expected. More happiness!

The pumpkin candles are lit. I am ready for fall! Have you made fall preparations, too?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What, oh what to write about?

Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Do you ever think you really have nothing to say???

But, what if someone was to ask you a question? (If you are like me, you could talk and talk forever! Just get me started!)

Well, I have a new book from CM that does just that! It is designed to help you pull together the meaningful stories of your life by answering Ten Questions. You can then add a few pictures and make a book, if you want. You can even use the questions as a springboard for blogging.

This awesome book has Ten Questions that will help you write about or make an album about the following topics:
  • Heritage

  • Faithbooking

  • Love Story

  • Holidays

  • Life is Great

  • Sports

  • Travel

  • Tribute

  • Adoption

  • Pet

If you are someone who does not make albums or scrapbook, and now you feel so far behind that it isn't even worth considering... Let me tell you, this book will inspire you! You can tell the stories that really matter, pick out some favorite photos that go along with those stories, and you can easily have an album worth far more than a stack of chronological albums!

Ten Questions will help you make awesome, meaningful gifts for others. It is also makes a wonderful gift!

If I can be of assistance to you, it would be my honor to come alongside you. If are local, my workshop schedule is in my sidebar... I would love to have you come and thumb through this Ten Questions book in person! If you want to order the book, you can contact me or use the button at the top of my sidebar, which will take you to my website.

Here is a quick video from Rhonda Anderson, co-founder of Creative Memories, talking about Ten Questions:

Are you ready to tell your story?

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