Thursday, June 26, 2014

Frozen Gifts that Don't Sell Out!

The links in this post are affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from sales.

Have you tried to find Frozen merchandise in the store?  You can't!  At least I can't.

I've got a newly turned 7-year-old daughter who is obsessed with Frozen.  I searched all of the stores, but there wasn't a Elsa doll or Anna t-shirt anywhere to be found.

Luckily, Zazzle came through for me!  Since they print on demand, they never run out of stock.  And I could get products that I can't find anywhere else!

My daughter would love any of these products!

Anna and Elsa shirt 
Tote bag
Spiral bound Olaf notebook



Shop Disney's Frozen Finds
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20 Patriotic Projects for 4th of July


We moved to a new home last year, and we were pleasantly surprised that we could see the town's fireworks so well!  They have the best fireworks around and draw people from several counties.  Unfortunately, traffic is just insane.  But we can sit outside and watch the fireworks at home!

This also means that it is time for a party!  I've never had a Fourth of July party, so I needed some ideas to decorate and great food ideas.  I posted the red, white, and blue Jello dessert last year, and my blogging buddy Michelle from Shelstring made this round up.  

I hope you find some inspiration for your home this year!


To start out, how about an example of an inviting front porch all decked out in our nations colors ?
Go check out Our Family Inspired Home for the details

Here is the ultimate stars and bunting banner to give an instantly festive look to any space. See how Karen put it all together at Dragonfly and Lily Pads
Going to be doing some grilling? My mouth is watering just looking at these delicious glazed fiery mango  shish-kabobs over at The Housewife in Training Files
How about getting a little more personal by marking your state on this patriotic wooden sign map by   Un-origional Mom 

Doesn't this beautifully arranged wreath just make you feel like you can almost breathe the air and feel the breeze of the sea? Made by The Silly Pearl

Here is the perfect centerpiece for the porch or, I'm thinking, the table by Written Reality
Written Reality has also made life simple by showing us how to make a reversible wreath that you can enjoy for the holiday, then flip around to celebrate summer. So clever!

This red, white and blue jello dessert looks like the perfect tasty treat by Koti Beth at 
Here is an all time favorite pinterest project of mine that I hope to do myself someday. See how Heather at Southern State of Mind adds a beautiful nautical twist to her Pallet American Flag.
No round-up would be complete without a project using book pages. Try making this festive 4th of July book page wreath over at 
Need to pull together a quick centerpiece? Use items you have around the house to make this 5 minute summer floral arrangement by Being Bianca
Have a table that needs some jazzing up? Run over and imitate this beautifully refinished Navy and White Striped Table over at Restoration Redoux

And talk about the perfect cool, no fail treat to enjoy. I'm sure you won't have leftovers from this  alluring treat by Crafts a la Mode

This Captain America Romper will be the envy of every little boy! Learn how to make it at 
I love a great chevron project. Add some fun pinwheels to a wreath for a fun spin, also at 
This tasty patriotic pudding parfait will also make an impressive display once again at the busy Mom blog, My Mom Made That
Word art is inspiring with it's familiar phrase all on it's own, why not put them on bottles you have on hand and make it extra impressive by following along at 
Ready for an easy project ready in no time flat? Click over and take advantage of this beautiful "Let Freedom Ring" printable over at HoyBy Crafts
Everyone who knows me is aware of my love for the rustic, so when I first saw this clever rustic flag my jaw just dropped. Learn how simple it was to make at House of Hawthornes
And finally, some of you may recognize this quilted flag wall hanging that was a lot simpler to make than it looks here at Shelstring





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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Water Bottle Volunteer Thank You Gifts Free SVG File

If you need a thank you gift for volunteers, these water bottle drink packet holders are really cute!  They are easy to make, and I used scrap paper to make all of them.  These were for vacation bible school volunteers, so I used animal print paper because it fit our theme.  You could use any colors or patterns that you'd like.  You can also put anything you want on the front or use a different patterned paper.



First cut out the SVG file or SCUT file with your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut (links at bottom of post).  I made a scalloped circle on the top so it will fit most water bottles.

To fold the cardstock, you'll fold at the 2" mark at the top and bottom.


After you make your first fold, flip it over and fold the other side.  When you're done, it will look like this:



Then cut out the patterned paper. I cut 3" x 3" squares.  Glue this to the front of the drink packet holder, which would to the left side in the above photo.  I used a glue stick to attach the paper.

Then I used a glue stick to attach the Bible verse to the front.  You could use the same patterned paper or a different one.  I just created a table in Google Docs and cut it out.  You can use mine here if you are using this for church or VBS thank you gifts.  Otherwise, just make sure what you want to print is less than 3" wide and 2" tall.

I used a tape runner to attach the sides of the pocket so there's enough room to fit the flavor packet.



And here are all 50 of them displayed on a table.  They looked great with our Weird Animals theme!

These files are for personal use only.  Please do not share the files with other people.  Instead, direct them to my blog.

SVG file
SCAL3 file
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Frozen Birthday Party Bonus Coupon Code for Readers!

Today is my daughter's 7th birthday, and more than anything else she wants a Frozen party!  I love Frozen, so this is a very fun party to plan!!

Frozen birthday party supplies

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links

Create a Winter Wonderland with Frozen Party Supplies from Birthday Express
Princess Elsa and Princess Anna have captured the hearts of children and adults around the world. If you have young children you have probably had the movie on repeat since it released on DVD. Help bring the Kingdom of Arendelle and all of their friends to life with Frozen birthday party supplies from Birthday Express.

At Birthday Express, you can shop Frozen-themed party supplies, favors, decorations, costumes and more! Some of our favorite products are the 41" Olaf Jumbo Balloon and the Deluxe Anna and Elsa costumes. Right now at Birthday Express, you can Get 10% off all Frozen party supplies through 6/29. Be sure to shop this collection today and turn your next party into a winter wonderland! 

OfferGet 10% off all Frozen party supplies
Code: TAKE10-OFF
Expires: 6/29/14
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Weird Animals VBS Decorating

This year, I am on the VBS committee.  It's been a lot of planning and creating, but I think that we are ready for it to start tonight!

We picked the Weird Animals kit from Group.  We picked it for several reasons:  We loved the theme of the group.  I think it's important message that kids need to hear.  It was easy to decorate with all kinds of animals.  It's fun!

Here are some of the decorations that we came up with.  At prom, the school lined most of the gym floor with blue plastic, so we got that for free (alone with the glitter and sand!).  I used my Silhouette Cameo to die cut a lot of things, and we got the rest from Oriental Trading.



This is the front entrance of the church.  This is what the kids see as they first walk in.  We made the waterfall with a photography backdrop stand.  It holds up to 3 bars, so we used dark blue in the back and three shades of blue cut in strips in front of it.  We wrapped the stand with newsprint and made rocks with pillows with a long piece of fabric over them.  We stuck a few fish in the pond.  When the kids arrive, we'll have two fans blowing the front strips so it looks like water is flowing.

Sorry this is so dark, but the sun was setting.  This is also in the entrance (the waterfall is to the left).  We used a plastic pool and covered it with a brown sheet.  Then we put in two grass skirts to make the nest and three large Easter eggs.


This is our registration area.  We still have some of our clutter out, but the decorating is done.  We hung $1 store butterfly wings from the ceiling and put pouffy flowers made with tissue paper all over.  


The entrance for the Critter Cafe.  The parents and kids can see this from the entrance too.  She made an awesome tree and another waterfall.  How cute is this??

Octopus hanging in the Critter Cafe

Caterpillar made with tissue paper puffs.  God Sighting posters underneath.


Outside of the sanctuary.  The registration tables are on either side of the doors.  


This is the sanctuary.  We had no idea that the pastor hates snakes when we put that there!  We did move it when we found out.

We hung a cable and wrapped tightly wrapped newsprint for vines.  The colorful vines are spiral cut pool noodles.  The flowers are cut from cardboard and put on cardboard boxes painted green.   We covered the speaker with a sheet to look like a boulder.  The trees are leftover from prom, so we didn't have to make those.

I haven't gotten photos of the kid stations except for Critter Cafe. We also set up a desert scene in the kids wing for the Bible stories, but we weren't done last night.  I'll try very hard to update those this week.

I hope this helps others doing this kit!
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel by Katherine Reay

My kids love the summer reading program at our local library.  Each summer, they have to read 10 books in a genre to earn a small prize.  Plus they get coupons for the local ice cream place or a small bag of local chips for reading 10, 25, 50, 75, and 100 books.  It really motivates my kids to read more!  I'm an avid reader, so I love seeing the three of them engrossed in a book.  I have literally moved furniture with them on it after a trip to the library and they were too busy reading to notice.

I don't normally join the adult program, but this year I did to set a good example.  I swore that I would hate reading on the Kindle, but I love it.  The problem is that my kids only see me on my Kindle, and they don't see me with an actual book.  Every time they ask what I am doing, I say I'm reading and they act surprised.  So this summer, they will see me read real books.

I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, so I had to read this book.  Most books based on Austen try to extend the story or give the reader a back story, but Dear Mr. Knightley is different.

Samantha Moore grew up as an orphan, and she hid among characters from classic English literature, particularly Jane Austen.  Sam earned her B.A. in English, but she needs help with graduate school.

Enter the anonymous donor, who wants to be reffered to as Mr. Knightley.  Mr. Knightley believes in Sam, so he is willing to pay for her tuition with one request.  He wants Sam to chronicle her time at school in letters to him.

At first, Sam is reluctant.  She has always been an introvert, rarely letting anyone get to know the person inside.  Although Mr. Knightley only responds a few times, the one-sided relationship helps Sam make a connection to another person.

As she learns how to open up and trust someone on the other side of a letter, she begins to open up to the people who are in her life.  She makes real friendships and learns how to trust and be trusted.

Through Sam's letters, we get to know the real Sam.  She reveals her innermost secrets, fears, and even her dreams.  She feels safe hidden behind her pen and paper, and she lets it all out.

It also helps Sam learn about herself.  Through the course of her time at graduate school, she overcomes her obstacles and learns how to live a more fulfilling life.

This book's concept is similar to an earlier novel, but it has a Jane Austen twist.  Some reviewers claim that Reay stole the idea, but I think she borrowed it and made it better.

Reay did an excellent job delving in to her character's mind.  Although we only got Sam's side of the story, we learn how to acts, what she wears, and what she thinks.  I had only read a few chapters before I felt that I knew Sam and how she would react to situations.

Yes, the ending was predictable.  But that doesn't detract from the story because it was written so wonderfully.

You don't have to be an Austen fan to read this book, but if you are you'll love revisiting your favorite characters.  You might even meet a few again in secondary characters.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

15 Great Recipes for Your Next Potluck

We recently moved to a new area, and I've never been to so many potluck dinners since we moved.  This is a rural area with so many friendly people.  When anyone gets together, they invite everyone they know and have a meal.  If you are ever invited to a Mennonite potluck dinner, cancel all of your plans and go!  You'll never eat so much delicious food in all of your life!  Once a year, our church holds service at the church camp with a potluck following the service.  It's no coincidence that this service has the highest membership numbers of the summer, if you know what I'm saying.

I never know what to take.  Do I take a side dish?  Dessert?  I usually end up with cookies.  While no one complains, I want to take something that is a little more impressive.

Here are some great recipe ideas for your next potluck dinner!



Finger Foods

Ranch Ham and Cheese Roll Ups - These are easy to customize.  Make with your favorite meat and cheese.

Mango Salsa - Take nachos and a different kind of salsa to your next potluck.


Side Dishes

Summer Broccoli Salad - This is a great side dish that complements many different main dishes.


Asparagus and Spring Onion Tart - This is an excellent side dish for a pot luck because it's a little different than the normal things people take.

Eggy Macaroni Salad - This is a classic recipe that is always welcome at a potluck dinner.

Crustless Sausage and Cheese Quiche - This is simple and looks amazing.


Desserts

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie - No time to make cookies?  Make this pie instead.  It's sure to be a big hit with the kids and adults.

Summer Peach Blueberry Trifle - This is just beautiful in a glass bowl.

Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bites - These are easy to make and easier to transport than taking a bread.

Muddy Buddies - Quick and tastes great!

Double Lemon Mini Bundt Cakes - These are the perfect size for a potluck or picnic.

Reese's Stuffed Rice Krispies - A different take on the classic recipe.

Red, White, and Blue Jello Dessert - You can make this with any kind of Jello. 

Drinks (alcoholic and nonalcoholic)

Poor Man's Sangria - I love Sangria, but it's too expensive to take to a party.  This tastes great and is much cheaper.

Refreshing Iced Passion Tea - Yum!  This sounds amazing for kids and adults.


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