Random Ramblings: December 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Getting Ready for the New Year

fffffffffeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am exhausted.  This Christmas season was such a busy blur.  We were trying to finish shopping, the kids didn't get out of school until the Thursday before Christmas.  Jacobs aunt was out from Kentucky so we were full of acitvites visiting with them as well. We played alot of Just Dance 3 with them too.  It was alot of fun, but so tiring.  We were still out shopping on Christmas Eve, looking at lights and then I stayed up until 4am wrapping that night as well.  Then a few more busy days and saying goodbye after Christmas and I am just plain worn out. 
Last night I got the VERY DEAD  Christmas Tree undecorated and moved outside.  Today I got the needles finally swept up (although you seem to find those for about 6 months still in the carpet)  .  I am trying to get all organized and cleaned up to start the New Year off on a good foot. 
I am ready to start on some projects that I have in mind.  First I have to get planning on the baby shower and then 2 weeks later will be Chloe's 2nd birthday party.... 
What projects do you have in mind to start for the new year?  Id love to know.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Swirl cookies

When Jacob first said he wanted us to make sugar cookies with the kids this year, I knew I wanted to try this.  I had seen an idea similar on PINTEREST . I thought I had pinned the one I first saw, but guess I didn't because it was not in my board.  So I searched it again and found THIS.  Even though it was a bit differnt and totally differnt colors, I knew the general idea of what I wanted.   This was something new to me that I had never tried with cookies before, but I didn't think it was going to be overly difficult and I was correct.  Let me show you what I did.
So I took some dough, not much because I first just wanted to try it and not use up all the kids' dough, and I died it red with some food coloring gels . I love these things.  They are so much easier than the drops.  Then I mixed it in VERY WELL. 

I was out of wax paper, so I just laid down some foil and mashed out the red to form a rectangle that wasn't too thick and not too thin either. 

 Then on top of it I laid out the white in the same thickness and pressed them together lightly. 
After that I just rolled them up to form this roll. Since I had been handling it alot at this point it started to get a little sticky.  So I stuck it just like this in the freezer for a few minutes. 
I took it out real quick and sprinkled red, white and green sprinkles all over it and pressed them in so they would stay put.  Then I put it back in the freezer for about 15 minutes. 

 I took it out and sliced it up and baked them.  I took them out just a minute or two before they were browned and they were just perfect.  They are soft without being doughy.  Now I wish I had done alot more like this.  I think they are just as pretty to look at as they are yummy to eat. 
Look at that pretty swirlness.  ( Did I just make that word up....) 
Got to love pinterest for all that wonderful inspiration. 

Have you tried something new lately? 


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cookie Making Day

Sunday  was cookie making day.  The kids had a blast. 
We only made sugar cookies, but I let the kids do some with icing and some with sprinkles, and some with both.  I made some that were red and white swirl, which turned out so cute. 

So we got all our supplies together the night before.  We had tons of sprinkles left over from last year.  I got a can of cream cheese icing and we had 2 partial cans in the fridge left over from cupcakes I had made recently. 

The kids were so excited to start cutting out shapes and decorating the cookies.  
 I gave them each their own ball of dough (after I saved some out to make the swirl cookies)
They each got their own cutting board and I let them go to town with them.  We had small cookie cutters and some big ones too.  I found some random stuff to use as well.  We had the scalloped circle bread tin that we used and some glasses for circles. 

 While the kids cut cookies I got the icing ready.  I left the new tub white, and died the partial cans of frosting red and green.  In the red I added a little something extra too.  It made for a nice suprise when you bite into the cookie with red icing.  I added a bit of Torani raspberry syrup for flavor.  It was REALLY good.  (I think I ate all the red frosted onces since Sunday to now.  :) )
 This syrup.  YUM.  This is my favorite to add to my hot chocolate too. 

Then we had to decorate them when they came out of the oven and cooled off. 

Chloe didn't even care if there was cookies on her board, she just had fun with the colored sugars. :)

Then we all had to taste one just to make sure they were ok for the rest of the family to eat. 

And then we boxed them all up to enjoy for the rest of the week.  I don't think there will be any left for Santa on Sunday, but we always leave santa ice cream anyways.  :)  

 It was alot of fun that all 3 of my little ones were old enough to enjoy the cookie making.  I love making memories with them.  I bake every year with them and I hope it is something they all carry on with their kids when they are older.  Each year we make differnt things too, so each year it is just as special. 
What fun Christmas traditions do you do with your kids?  


Monday, December 19, 2011

Couponing for gift cards

(please excuse all the not so high quality couponing pictures, it is so much easier to take them with my cell phone)

 So this past week Target had a Glade promotion going on. If you bought 5 Glade products you got a $5.00 Target gift card. (Have I mentioned how much I love these kind of promotions... the store pays me to shop, oh yes I LOVE it) So with my great luck coupons.com had some printable Glad coupons and I had some that I had cut from the Sunday inserts as well.  AND with an even sweeter added bonus Target had some printable coupons as well.   I had a left over $10.00 Target gift card from the previous weeks deals (get a $10.00 Target gift card when you spend $50.00 or more on anything) So earlier this week I went to see what I could find in their candle selection. Here is what I got and used...

 *2 mens Merona shirts $2.98 each on clearance (used 2 TARGET printable coupons for -20% off any mens Merona item
* 2 Sparkling water .69 each (used 2 printable -$1.00/1 coupon
* Jammies (clearance for $4.20)
* 8 Glade candles $2.50 each and 2 glade sprays $2.50 each -- Target promotion was when you buy 5 glade you get a $5.00 target gift card.
(used 4 printable -$1.50/2 glade candles, -.55/1 spray, and 2 TARGET -$1.50/3 Glade products, and then also used a Target insert coupon for get a $5.00 gift card when you buy any 5 glade products)
TOTAL for all of this was $36.54 before coupons and tax
OOP $23.24
Paid with a previous $10.00 Target gift card AND got $20.00 in target gift cards
(**I did the candles and sprays in 2 transactions, but didn't pay for the second transaction with my gift cards**)

Then Friday afternoon I decided that I would go again and see what they had left (since when I went earlier in the week there was not much left at all).

Glade wall unit with 2 refills.
$4.50 each
<< used (4) $2.00/1 twin refill printable coupons ,(2) -$1.50/1 insert coupons I had, and used 2 Target -$1.50/3 Glade>> Then got a $5.00 Target Gift card for buying 5 and used the insert coupon for another $5.00 gift card for buying 5.
OOP $14.09

I could have made it free out of pocket, but I really wanted to just have more Target gift cards to add to my collection.  So now after this last trip I have $30.00 in Target gift cards. I might buy some groceries this week which will be FREE or save them until after Christmas and see what I can find on clearance to stock up for next year.  I just haven't decided yet.  Or I could save them and just keep adding to them with this years coming Target gift card offers and see how much I can get by the end of the year.  I think that would be a fun thing to do... maybe I will just do that.  :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Handmade Mantle

 Ok when we first moved into the house there was no mantle, just tile around it.  I kept saying I missed my old mantle (that I built at that house too, this is the only picture I could find of it).

Current house when we moved in.

So finally I just said Im doing it. Not a big plan in my mind, but somewhat of an idea. So off to Home Depot I went and bought some wood and some brackets.  Came home and cut it with my hubby's saw and went to work. 
First I screwed 3 boards to the wall.  Then I screwed on the brackets and then 2 pieces of wood on the top. 

So then I grabbed some white paint that we just happened to have out in the garage, that was here when we moved in. I already knew I wanted it white so it looked like it was all one piece with the white tile.    So I painted 2 good coats on .  LOVE it.  

Then came the fun part.  Decorating it.  I had the mirror already in that spot, but everything else I just went around the house and pulled things I thought would look great up there.  Empty frames that were waiting to be filled. Some vases that really had no spot before, some greenery and wah-la!  Love it.  I knew I couldn't wait until Christmas to be able to hang our stockings up there.  

Hope you enjoy and it ispires you to create something for your home. Id love to see what you created. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hallway desk

Today I wanted to share the desk I made, yes made all by myself.  Ok we had this small space in our house. It is by the stairs but leads to the garage door and the other side of the house.  Now saying it that way makes it seem like there isn't another way just a few steps in the other direction.  However, I do love the open space, but it was just one of those spaces that you can't really do anything with. When we first moved in I had a table there with some decorations on it.   (like this).

Then for some time after that it was the toy storage area (like this)

But I was over that one real fast.  It was a pain to always step on or over toys.  So then came PINTEREST .  What a great place for inspiration.  I was seeing so many cool ideas for organization and instantly I knew I wanted to create some kind of desk area in this space.  Well I didn't want to go out and have to spend tons of money on all kinds of wood.  I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to do this.  Then an idea came to me.  I had a few tv trays out in the shed.  BINGO!  So I got a few pieces of wood in the length I wanted.  Then a few more for some shelves and then some brackets for the shelves.  I screwed the wood onto the tv trays and then got some little L brackets and screwed them underneath the tv trays and screwed them to the wall for added support.  Painted them white with some left over white paint that we had here at home (that was here when we moved in).  And whala, an instant desk that is just the right size for this little space.  Let me tell you a little  more about it. 
Here is the view from the side by the garage door. 

Here is the view from the living room side.  (See not a huge space really)

Now down here is where I keep some of my scrapbook paper and some of the layouts that I am currently working on (currently as in layouts that I have been working on for the last year) .  The frames up there on the desk are another project I am working on for Christmas.  (note to self : get more spray paint tomorrow).

This is the view of whats hanging on the wall. I went to the dollar store and got some clipboards.  So I attatched them to the wall.  They hang all kinds of things.  School info on one, our netflix envelope I see up there, drive thru coupons... you name it, it is probably up there. 

Here is a smaller shelf for my printer and silhouette (it just sleeps here, but doesn't live here when I am using it).  Top shelf has binders with blank paper for the kids for school, photo paper, CD for burning clients photo shoots, old address book...

Up there on top is also the silhouette vinyl.

Here is where the rest of my scrapbook paper gets stored.  Up there on the desk is the kids crayon bucket and their coloring books.  

Im pretty happy with my little desk.  I may not always sit there but I do more often now that it is clean lol. 
What have you created for your home? 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Couponing for Donations

One thing that I love since I started couponing is ability to give it away as well as keep a nice supply of things for our family.  I never imagined when I started couponing that I would actually be able to get such a supply of things for our family at such little cost.  We have so much toiletries it is amazing to me.  So I love being able to give it away and still have enough in our stockpile to last our family of 7.  My husbands gives some to a few select people at his work.  I have made up 4 gift baskets for Christmas with lots of fun stuff.  I can't wait to give those gifts this season (but I am a sucker for baskets full of fun goodies) 
Now with that being said I also love to give to those with much less than us.  I haven't been able to do it often yet, but I figure once or twice is still better than none.  My goal is for next Christmas season to be able to donate a huge pile of stuff to the fill the ambulance.  This year they mentioned they are looking for lots of toiletries.  So I want to make that my goal for next Holiday Season.  So when I got some Similac Formula coupons in the mail recently, I was hoping to be able to score a good deal on them so that I can donate more really soon.  Well with Target offering their coupons for $10.00 off ANY $50.00 purchase I put those coupons to good use. 
Here is what I got.
Here is the breakdown of what I spent.

TARGET 12/10/2011
Purina One Beyond Dog Food $6.49 ea. (x4 = $25.96)

Similac Advanced Formula $6.39 ea. (x4 = $25.56)
Total = $51.52
OOP = $6.76
Used (4) -$4.00/1 Purine One Beyond Dog Food, (4) -$5.00/1 Similac Checks from Similac. And paid with a previous $10.00 Target gift card, and got another one in return as well. So really I made $3.24 on this transaction. 
Always a good trip when you make money couponing. 

Custom Designed Christmas Cards

In a crunch and need some last minute Christmas Card Designs?  I can help.  Here are some card designs I have done.  For only $10.00 I can design you your own custom card or you can use one of the premade ones. 
Here are a few designs...

Feel free to contact me for more information.  nicolemantoothphotography@yahoo.com

Sunday, December 11, 2011


In the last week I have had the chance to take some family photos for clients.  Last Sunday I took a good friend of mines family pictures.  I made them hike down some rocks to find our location.  I had never been there so we were not quite sure how to get there.  It really wasn't that bad, the kids made it too, so no major hiking.  :)  Down there it was pretty cool little spot, lots of graffitti on the walls.  Which that made for some cool grungy type pictures.  Thought I would share a few of those shots.

One of my very favorite shots though was this one.  You would be suprised how hard it really is to catch the exact moment of them kissing right in the middle of the candycane heart.  I truely love how this shot came out, it is exactly what I envisioned in my mind. 

Thank you so much to the Larue family for allowing me, once again, to take your family photos.    I truely love what I do.