30 Days of Lists

I did it!  I took the plunge and signed up for 30 Days of Lists for March 2018.

My daughter, Amy has hosted this project in the past, with her friend Kam and although I’m going to be pretty busy in March, I thought I could squeeze in some time to do this for at least some of the days.

I’m not setting expectations to create journals or scrapbook pages or even create a book or anything, but I THINK I can at least write a list a few days each week.  You see, I’m not even committing to doing it every day.  I’ll just take it one day at a time and see how it goes.

I created the image above from the prompt: “Home is where…”

I’m already behind, but hoping/planning to do be able to get creative and share some of them.

Let me know if you sign up.

Happy Spring!

30 Days of Lists December 2013

Simple Summer Ideas – Eats, Drinks, Decor

Hey there friends,  I have been staring at the last post for much too long and I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, so here’s a little sumthin’ for your summer inspiration.

I know, it’s way past time to bring out the summer decorations.  It will be Independence Day next week, after all!  Can I confess that I still have my Easter decorations on my branch in the living room?  Yowzah!  Hopefully, I can switch them out for summer decor this weekend.

Things have been quite buzy around here with a bunch of changes happening, as well as more on the horizon.  Sadly, my time to concentrate on the transitions are limiting my time to post.  No worries though, there will be more news and posting to come.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of my Summer Centerpiece.  I happen to use mine in the guest bath.  Yes, a centerpiece in the bathroom!  As you know I try to trick myself into believing that I live near the water, especially in these hot summer months when our temperatures are consistently in triple digits (this week it was up around 113 degrees F)!

I keep this simple centerpiece in the bathroom where I get ready every morning.  It fills my mind with memories of sandy beaches, coastal breezes and the sound of waves lapping on the shore.  Which reminds me…I may have a chance to visit my little hometown on Lake Erie in September and I can’t wait to walk on the beach and hear the sounds of the waves as I drift off to sleep!  I never realized what a blessing it was to live just steps from the shore until recently.

For this fun candle arrangement, just find a rustic container, fill it with sand, shells, a candle (or 3) and things that remind you of summer.  Try one yourself and post a link here so we can all see it?

More ideas for your summer inspiration:

Patriotic Slipcover Transformation

4th of July Beverage Ideas

4th of July – Summer Recipes

4th of July – Patriotic Decor

Let me know your plans for the summer and have an awesome holiday!

4th of July Ideas – Part 3 – Decorating

As Americans, we celebrate our independence on the 4th of July every year with parades, picnics, cook-outs, and other fun gatherings.  Nothing screams summer like an Independence Day celebration.

So, in honor of the upcoming holiday, I thought I’d share a few ideas for patriotic decorating.

I found this fun, inexpensive and easy idea on the Better Homes & Gardens website.  I don’t know about you, but I grew up with Better Homes and Gardens magazines, and I’m still amazed at all the great ideas that they can stuff into each issue as well as everything you can find on their website.  If you’re on a limited budget, you can sign up for their email and get lots of great ideas from that as well.

Decorate Candleholders with Colored Rubberbands: Take a stroll down the office supply aisle for red, white, and blue rubber bands to decorate candles in a snap. Working from bottom to top, wrap rubber bands in alternating colors around straight-side glass candle holders. Vary widths and colors for interest.  Of course, this can be applied to any holiday or decor and what an easy way to change color schemes in a flash!

Editor’s Tip: If you’re in mosquito country, place citronella candles in the cups and use outdoors to keep the bugs away.

And don’t kids just love pinwheels?  They’re just mesmerizing to watch when the breezes blow and the kids love to run around in the yard adding their own breeze.  The Skip to my Lou blog has some creative ideas for pinwheels as well as links to other free downloads.

Disney’s Family Fun gives us directions for a colorful Patriotic Pinwheel that you can make at home too.

And here are a few more links with some fun and simple ideas:

Better Homes and Gardens: Easy DIY Decorations

Country Living shares Crafts for the Fourth – country style

Martha Stewart shares some great Fourth of July Traditions that you can begin today.

I hope this gives you some inspiration for the coming weekend.  Feel free to mention and link in the comments to any Fourth of July ideas that you’ve posted on your own blog.  I’d love to see them!

4th of July Ideas – Part 2 – Recipes

I thought I’d share a few favorite recipes and food ideas for your 4th of July gathering.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes and Nancy’s Baked Beans

When I think of Independence Day, a particularly memorable celebration comes to mind.  One of these holidays in my youth was enjoyed at my Uncle Allen’s house in rural Ohio.  My dad had a huge family – 10 siblings, each with big families of their own and would get together as often as they could, but especially on holidays.  Grandparents, aunts, and uncles gathered in the shade in their favorite lawn chairs to catch up on the latest news.  The cousins would all play croquet, badminton, volleyball and whatever else kept us busy.  The younger kids got to climb up in the tree house and everyone grazed on amazing food all day.  This particular year, one of my aunts made pineapple-upside-down cake, which I tried for the first time.

Now I’m not really a cake person, because I generally don’t like the sugary too-sweet frosting. But as you may know, Pineapple-upside-down cake doesn’t have frosting.  It just has scrumptious slices of pineapple, swimming in a brown sugar glaze…and I LOVED it!  Over the course of that day, I ate SEVEN – yes SEVEN pieces of that cake.  Not sure what everyone else had, because I ate so much of it myself.  It was heavenly!  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that much cake in one day before or since then (thankfully).

So, in honor of that memorable Independence Day treat,  I’m posting this link to a recipe for Pineapple-Upside Down Cupcakes (pictured above)  Doesn’t that sound like a great idea?  I’ve never made these, but I love the cupcake idea for a potluck, picnic, barbecue or even a nice dinner with friends.  So much easier to transport and lovely to serve.  These are probably big enough for at least 2 people to share (unless of course, they love pineapple-upside-down cake as much as I do).  Let me know what you think.

And in looking through my old posts, I’m amazed that I’ve never shared my crock pot “Baked” Beans recipe, so here it is below.  This one  is so quick, tasty, colorful and easy.  It is the hit of any casual gathering.  I serve it all year long and often get requests to bring it to potlucks. This week, my husband was asked to bring something for an “All American” themed potluck at work, so I’ll help him make this recipe to share.

In case you’re wondering…the current most favored theory about the origin of Baked Beans notes that American Indians cooked beans with maple syrup and bear fat. Now how much more American can you get!

Since we don’t have bear fat, let me offer this variation of a baked beans recipe.  It’s much more colorful and has added protein to make it more filling as well.  The great thing about it is that it’s so flexible.  Feel free to experiment to find your favorite combination, then you can personalize it as “Amy’s Beans”, “Emma’s Beans” or ________________ Beans [Insert your name here].

Nancy’s Beans Recipe

  • 1 can Pork-n-Beans or Ranch Style Beans (do not drain)
  • 1 large can Baked Beans (Bush’s or your favorite brand) (do not drain)
  • 1 can butter beans (no need to drain)
  • 1 can black beans (drained), 1 can kidney beans (drained) 1 can Cannelini or Great Northern beans (drained), Navy or Pinto beans
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of cooked and chopped bacon
  • 1/2 to 1 onion (sauteed)
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of cooked ground beef (optional)
  • 1 Tblsp mustard
  • 1 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, molasses or maple syrup

Really you can use nearly any combination of beans in addition to the first 2 cans.  The more variety you have, the more colorful the dish is.

Empty the first 3 cans of beans into a large crock pot without draining.  The sauce in these adds to the flavor and thickness.

After you drain the liquid from the Black, Kidney, Cannelini, Great Northern, Navy or Pinto beans, add them to the crock pot.  Easiest is to pour all the beans that need to be drained in a colander and rinse with water.  This should also wash away some of the excess sodium that comes in canned products.

Add the cooked onions, bacon, and/or ground beef

Add the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar(or molasses or maple syrup)

Stir everything together and set to low for 4-5 hours or until hot.  Everything is already cooked when it goes in, so all you’re doing is warming it up and allowing the flavors to blend together.  It can even be warmed in a microwave if you’re in a hurry.  It does seem to taste better after it sits together for a few hours.  If you’re cooking it in a crockpot and it seems to be too watery, just take off the lid and let it cook for a while with the lid off. The sauce will thicken more the longer the lid is off.

This will fill a large crockpot and serve 10-15 at least.

I hope you try these out.  Let me know how you like it and if you have ideas for ways to make it better.


Here are more recipes from some of your favorite magazines to check out for your Independence Day celebration:

Better Homes and Gardens: Festive Fourth of July Desserts and Cooling Cocktail Recipes

Bon Appetit: Fourth of July Picnic Menu or The Perfect Slaw

Cooking Light: Fourth of July Celebrations

The Daily Green: Delicious Summer Recipes

Food & Wine: July 4th Chef’s Celebrations

Good Housekeeping: Fun and Festive Fourth of July Recipes

Martha Stewart: Fourth of July Recipes

Taste of Home:  July 4th Entertaining

Happy Independence Day!

Christmas Eve Traditions

In honor of “Journal Your Christmas” I thought I’d share a little bit about our Christmas Eve traditions.

Our special tradition on Christmas Eve is that we give each family member two gifts.  One is a brand new set of winter pajamas.  This is a ritual that I brought over from my childhood.   Growing up, it was always such a thrill to get new pajamas to replace the tattered or outgrown ones from the year before.  That way we’d be extra warm and cozy on what seemed to be the longest night of the year.

Kevin in Pajamas

Do you remember lying in bed trying to fall asleep so morning would come more quickly?  Or listening to every little noise wondering what was going on below the Christmas tree?  Our bedrooms were upstairs and the Christmas tree and presents were always in the living room, which was directly at the bottom of the stairs to the right.  I don’t remember ever trying to peek and see what was happening, but I do remember lying awake listening and letting my imagination run wild.  There were a couple of times that I had to go downstairs to our only bathroom after bedtime and my parents stood in the doorway to the living room or closed the door to the room, blocking any glimpse that I might be tempted to steal.  It’s all o.k. though, because the suspense of waiting is half the fun of the big day!

The other new tradition that Terry and I started was to give each child an ornament to open on Christmas Eve.  These days you can find creative ornaments of every shape, size and theme.  So each year we try to find an ornament that commemorates an event, hobby or theme particular to the year and the person.  When Kevin played soccer he got a soccer ball ornament.  When Amy was singing a lot we bought musical notes.  Amy also went through a ballerina phase and Kevin plays guitar so each of those are reflected in their ornaments.  We also started giving our son-in-law, Andrew ornaments.  Sometimes it’s easy when they have a life changing event or a big trip, but as they get older it’s not always so easy so we’ll have to see what happens now that they have homes of their own and their Christmas trees are getting quite full.

These are some of Kevin’s collection of ornaments.  Click to enlarge and see the detail. Aren’t they fun?

Christmas Ornaments

We don’t really have food or activity traditions on Christmas Eve.  The food is probably due to the fact that growing up we didn’t really have any special meals that night and as our kids were growing up there was never anything that everyone asked for over and over.  Is that a reflection on my cooking or the fact that the rest of the family likes variety just like I do.

Sometimes I wish we had established more traditions over the years when our kids were growing up.  Do you think  the holiday would be more meaningful to them if we had or is it good the way it was?  Hmmm, I wonder…

A Few Fun Writing Prompts from Mim

I discovered a new blog today.  Mim at R.S.V.P. passed along these prompts from one of her favorite bloggers and I thought it might be fun to do my own version.   Give it a try.  The words in bold are the prompts – just finish the sentences.

Outside my window the sky is dark, the air is damp and cold.  It’s been raining off and on since last night.  It’s winter in Phoenix.

I am thinking about the last few Christmas gifts that still need to be bought.  Surprisingly, I still haven’t bought a gift for the one person that I usually shop for first.  Wish me luck in finding a perfectly lovely treasure.

I am thankful for the rich full life that I have; a loving God, big family, amazing friends, wonderful job, cozy home.

I am wearing blue jeans with a pale blue blouse and my new black holiday cardigan.  The front is covered with snowflakes made of iridescent beads and sequins.  I’m loving the fact that it only cost me $1 at Goodwill even though it was brand new with the tags still on it .  On top of that I got two compliments on it from total strangers at the grocery store earlier.  I’m feeling very Christmasy!

I am remembering my dear friend Karen who passed away just weeks ago, and her precious husband and three teenagers.  Christmas will be difficult for them this year.

I am going to wrap up our last few Christmas gifts so I can deliver them on Christmas Eve.

I’m currently readingEvery Day with Rachael Ray” magazine.  Picking up tips for the holidays.  Can’t wait for some time to start reading my new book “Writing Life Stories“.  Hopefully it will help with my blog and other personal writing.

I’m hoping that the next week off work is filled with some fun projects and special gatherings, but also enough time to relax and enjoy the holidays.

On my mind…sad that our Hann Christmas gathering will be very small this year.  The logistics of getting people together in one place has been a nightmare this holiday season.

Noticing that there seem to be less houses decorated with Christmas lights this year.  Is that a sign of the slow economy or do you think folks are being eco-friendly and trying to save energy?

In the kitchen I wish I had more time to cook.  I enjoy it when I have the time, but when I don’t I like finding great food at my favorite shops, restaurants and bakeries.

Around the house are the sights, sounds and scents of Christmas.  Amy Grant is singing Tennessee Christmas on the stereo, tiny white Christmas lights are twinkling inside and out, and the magical glow of cinnamon candles are flickering in the corner.  The nativity is displayed proudly on the windowsill with the holy family, shepherds and wise men awaiting the arrival of the baby Jesus.

One of my favorite things in life is spending time with our kids and watching them laugh and play together.

From my photo archive:  Our kids – Kevin, Amy and her husband Andrew at The Stand in Encino, CA just a couple of weeks ago.

7 Ideas for Reusable Chalkboard Anything Tags

I’ve been working on this project for a few weeks, just due to time constraints, but I’m very excited to share it with you.  A few months ago I saw a post about using chalkboard paint to reuse some rectangular cardboard tags (sorry I don’t have the link) but it got my mind working.

I started thinking about the holiday season and just how much paper we go through and throw away when it comes to wrapping paper, ribbon and gift tags.  Then I thought about creating a re-usable gift tag and the ideas poured out from there.  As you’ll see below, the possibilities are endless. Let me know what other ways you would use these fun tags.

Step 1 – Find or purchase various sized tag or cardboard circles (or squares or whatever).  I bought all of mine at Michaels Arts and Crafts store.  The large ones were in the dollar bins.  They’re intended to be used as a 6 page mini book, but I just used each card separately.  The smaller ones were coasters in the clearance bin.  I think with the discount a set of 8 of them were just 26 cents or something crazy like that.  Buy a can of chalkboard paint, black or whatever color you choose.  Here they are ready to paint.

Step 2 – Gather other fun and creative supplies if you like.  Here are some of the items that I used.

Step 3 – Preferably outside or in a well ventilated room, lightly spray the tags with chalkboard paint.  Best to do two lighter coats to prevent drips.  Let this dry, and if you’d like, paint the other side.

Step 4 – After the paint has dried (at least 48 hours) the tags need to be prepped by rubbing the side of a piece of chalk all over each side.

Step 5 – Then erase the chalk.  This helps the paint to accept your writing better in the future.

Step 6 – If your shapes don’t have holes and you need them for your project, punch a hole in them.  I had to borrow a heavy duty hole punch to get through the thick cardboard on the coasters.  Fortunately the large circles already had holes in them.

Step 7 – Now comes the fun part!  Let’s see what we can do with these sexy little circles.  Here are a few ideas that I came up with…

Large Christmas gift tag

Large Snowflake Christmas gift tag

How Many Days till Christmas ?

Champagne or Wine Bottle Tag:

Birthday Gift Tags – As you can see this is very basic and very reusable.  I decorated the brown bag with chalk as well, but there’s so much more you can do for all kinds of gifts.

“What will you say” Garland – you can see the full version in my header at the top, but here’s a close up.

Anything Tag – I used this one to label our paper recycling basket, but of course it has a myriad of applications.

Update 1/1/2011: I found a couple of other party uses for these the other day too.  I used one to label my coffee urn so folks would know that it was decaf instead of regular coffee. I also hung the “recycle” one by our indoor recycle bin so people would know which bin was trash and which recycling. I love having them around to use wherever a label is needed.

I love the fact that the tags can be used over and over and over again. Let me know how this sparks your creativity.  I plan to use the rest of the small ones as gift tags this Christmas, unless I think of something else fun in the meantime.  Oh, we haven’t even begun to talk about Christmas ornaments or actual party coasters either!


week I’m linking to: