Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I didn't get around to doing Christmas cards this year. So this will have to do. Merry Christmas everyone!

Love, 
Jon, Nicah and Gyspy Sue

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fix It: Winter Whoopies

Howdy, howdy! Just popping in. I'm in between Christmas festivities and thought I'd share this last minute dessert recipe, just in time for your family gatherings or to surprise Santa with. These whoopie pies are truly delicious!

-1 box red velvet cake mix (or whatever flavor you like.)
-1 Stick of Butter. Softened to room temperature. 
-2 eggs
-Can of cream cheese icing (or whatever flavor you like.)
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. - Mix cake mix, butter and eggs. - Roll dough into balls and place on baking sheet two inches apart. - Bake for around 10-12 minutes. - When cookies have cooled, plop a decent amount of icing on the flat side, then top with another cookie about the same size.
       There you have it. Crazy easy and a fun, trendy take on a classic holiday cake. Enjoy!

      Thursday, December 9, 2010

      I Love Flakes

      I love flakes. Snowflakes. There is something so magical and beautiful about watching them fall, catching them on your tongue as they cover everything making it clean and bright. Ever since I was little I've loved folding paper and snipping away creating primitive snowy flakes. The photo above is the old fashioned paper snowflake all grown up. A fancy, 3D paper snowflake, that is not nearly as difficult as it looks.

      I first learned how to make these when I was living in Japan and needed a cheap and easy way to transform my classroom into a "Winter Wonderland." I made about 30 of these out of silver paper and hung them at different heights and dangled silver curling ribbon from them to give them an icy look. My students loved spinning them, blowing them around and trying to jump up and touch them.

      That Christmas I taught the husband how to make them, then he decorated his classroom with them. After that, one of his Japanese coworkers wanted to learn. He taught her and she taught her grandfather. The grandfather invited the husband to his home and inside were dozens of dangling snowflakes, like I had made, with beautiful origami paper. I just thought it was kind of neat how people pass these things around and can spread from one country to the next.

      So by this point your probably thinking, "Enough already, just tell us how to make them!" Okay, okay...here's the tutorial.

      Easy huh? As you can see in the pictures of the ones I made I used mismatched scrapbook paper. I think it looks whimsical, but if all you have is typing paper go for it. They look gorgeous done in all white and the best part is that they look a lot harder to make than they really are.

      Saturday, December 4, 2010

      Happy Holidays...Y'all.

      Here's the first of my DIY Christmas posts. This was a lot of fun to make and totally came out of nowhere...the best ideas do. :)

      I started with the "Happy Holidays Y'all" banner. It was from the Paula Deen stuff (love her) at Michaels and I got it for 2 bucks. It came with some cheap looking green ribbon to wind through it, but I used some thin rope I had laying around. 

      I also wanted to hang it above my turquoise bookshelf, across a painting I did that was already up there. I tried it and it just looked wrong and way too busy. And you know if I think it's too busy...it's too busy!

      I tried it with the painting gone and the letters just kind of got lost on the white wall. No good. All I could think about was how I wished I had an extra canvas I could just paint brown to make them pop. No such luck.

      Then I got the crazy idea to use a bed sheet. Yes, a bed sheet. I carefully wrapped the painting in the sheet and stuck it up there. Better, but not good enough. So I grabbed a little more of my trusty twine and just started tying it on randomly. It reminded me of both an old timey present and modern art at the same time. After that I tied the banners to it and took a step back. Yes! I loved it. 

      Now, let's just see how much this little statement cost me...

      Banner: $2
      Sheet: $0
      Twine: $0
      Gold Ornaments: $3 
      Ornament Stand: $0 (This is actually meant to hold hand towels...this use is more fun)
      Wreath: $1
      Candles: $0
      So using a few new cheapies and a ton of old things in new ways my Christmas display cost me $6. Not too shabby. Thanks for reading, more to come!

      Wednesday, December 1, 2010

      Stuff I Love: EOS Lip Balm

      What oh what could this be? This my friends, is my latest obsession. It's called eos Lip Balm (everything on smooth) and it's my new favorite thing. I'm an absolute sucker for packaging and when my mom showed it to me I had to know what it was. I mean...look at it! The color. The shape. It's PERFECT! 

      This is what it looks like when you open it. And the best part is you only swipe once, across both lips at the same time. This is the "Summer Fruit" flavor (kinda tastes like peaches) and there's also a yellow one (it's in my car) that's called "Lemon Drop" and it's probably my favorite of the two. I've only seen 2 of the flavors at Walmart, but the eos website says they have 5 flavors and that you can get them several other places. 

      In addition to being so stinkin' cute, yum, and fun, here's a little more about the balm itself. It contains Shea butter & vitamin E, is Gluten-free, Paraben-free, Petrolatum-free and Phthalate-free. It's also
      95% organic, and is 100% natural.

      Welp, there you have it. That's my latest fave. Now is the season to protect your lips, and stuff the stockings, kill two birds with one stone grab 1 or 2...or 5.

      Tuesday, November 30, 2010

      Giveaway Results! Did you win?

      Photo by Rachel of Get Ready Set Go. A truly awesome fellow Etsian and blogger.

      Here we go! Here are the 3 winners of the Robot Giveaway. Congratulations! I loved reading all of your traditions, they truly got me into the spirit of the Holidays! I'll be contacting you shortly so you can tell me which color you would like and so I can get your address. Thanks to everyone who entered, and if you didn't win, don't worry I'll do another one soon. :)

      Thursday, November 25, 2010

      Fix It: Pumpkin Marshmallows

      Happy Thanksgiving from Trash Bird Makes! I'm currently trying to stay warm in Mexico, Missouri. Yes, I said Mexico, Missouri. Probably like you I have spent the day overeating, playing games, "watching" football. And hopefully today or tomorrow we will be kicking off the Christmas season with the first official viewing of Elf. 

      "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."--Buddy the Elf

      Clearly, Buddy has never tried homemade pumpkin marshmallows, because they will get you you in the spirit and feeling cozy in no time. Here's how you make them (the recipe is long but not as intimidating as is looks):

      Ingredients:

      • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
      • 1 cup cold water, divided use
      • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
      • 1 cup light corn syrup
      • orange food coloring (or yellow and red coloring)
      • 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
      • 1 tsp cinnamon
      • 1 tsp ginger
      • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
      • 1/4 tsp allspice
      • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
      • 1/4 cup corn starch

      Preparation:

      1. Prepare a 9x13 pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl, and sprinkle a generous dusting of this sugar/starch mixture over the entire pan. Set the pan aside while you prepare the marshmallow, and save the sugar/starch mixture for later use.
      2. Place 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and stir briefly to distribute. Let the gelatin sit and dissolve for at least 5 minutes.
      3. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of water, the corn syrup, and the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and insert a candy thermometer.
      4. Allow the mixture to cook without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees on the thermometer. Brush down the sides occasionally with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystallization.
      5. Once the sugar syrup reaches the proper temperature, remove it from the heat immediately. Turn the mixer to low, and slowly pour the hot syrup into the mixer bowl. Be careful, as the syrup is extremely hot. If you have a large (at least 4 cup) liquid measuring cup with a spout, you can transfer the hot syrup to the cup before pouring to make it easier.
      6. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer until it is running on high. Whip the marshmallow mixture for 10 minutes, or until it is stiff and shiny. You can tell it is done when you stop the mixer and lift up the beater, the marshmallow will slowly drip back down into the bowl in a thick, shiny stream.
      7. While the marshmallow is mixing, place the pumpkin puree in a small bowl and add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Once the marshmallow has reached the proper consistency, add the orange food coloring (or a combination of yellow and red to make orange) and mix until the marshmallow is a uniform color. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the pumpkin puree into the orange marshmallow, stirring until the candy is well-mixed and there are no streaks of pumpkin visible.
      8. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Allow it to sit and firm up at room temperature for at least 8 hours.
      9. Cover your workstation with waxed paper to protect it, and liberally sprinkle the surface with the sugar/starch mixture. Sprinkle the top of the marshmallow with the sugar/starch coating, and flip the marshmallow face down onto the prepared surface.
      10. Carefully peel back the foil from the marshmallow. Dust the top of the marshmallow with more sugar/starch. Dip a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter into the sugar/starch mixture, and cut pumpkin shapes out of the marshmallows. Roll the cut edges of the marshmallows in the coating mixture so that all sides are smooth and not sticky. Alternately, you can use a knife and cut the marshmallows into squares instead.
      11. To save marshmallows, store them in a dry airtight container in a temperate, dry location. Do not refrigerate them or keep them in a very humid place. If they are stored longer than two or three days, you may need to re-roll them in the sugar/starch coating. Fresh marshmallows go stale after about a week, so these are best eaten soon after they are made. 

      Recipe courtesy of About.com 

       Enjoy! I like them best with hot chocolate or a nice cup of coffee. And you also still have a few days left to enter the Robot Giveaway.

      Tuesday, November 16, 2010

      Happy Holidays and Give Aways!

      It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Okay I know Thanksgiving has yet to come, but now is the time to get on the ball and get those gifts ready. Move it or lose it people! I'm here to help you out. :)

      This time I will be giving away not 1, not 2, but 3 robot piggy banks from my shop!!! Winners pick the colors. Contest ends Tuesday, November 30th.

      You must do 2 things to enter:

      -Become a follower AND leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite holiday tradition is. That's it! Super easy huh? Good luck!!!

      Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      DIY: Art Party

      FINALLY! As promised here are a few lot of the pics from the birthday party we planned for my younger cousin. It was an art party and everything went off without a hitch! Here's how we did it.


      We decorated the tree in the backyard with pretty white puffs we made and lanterns too.

       We also hung up a letter "H" and the number "10" in the tree too. You can actually buy both of these in my mom's new Etsy shop. I think these would be gorgeous for an outdoor wedding!

      To keep their pretty party clothes clean, my aunt had the great idea to pick up oxford shirts at thrift stores to use as smocks. We thought this was a great way to present them and have them ready for the the little Picassos right away.

      After suiting up the girls got right to work on their masterpieces. We laid down a large tarp and so they could get comfy and creative. I love this picture, it was a gorgeous fall day.

      I even got to join in on the festivities. I love painting and it was so fun to see what the girls came up with. 

      The party table! This was probably what I was most excited about. I love putting together buffet tables and this one was just so fun. I loved making the pendant banners for her, because like me, Honor loves anything with her name on it.

      So confetti is always festive to sprinkle on the table, but what if you want more layers and depth to your look? I found these adorable sparkly pom poms and scattered them all over the table for a very whimsical look.

      Here's a few of the little goodies we had. We served lemonade in mason jars, and my uncle punched a hole in the lid to cut down on spills. We served gum balls and gummy bears labeled, "DaVinci's Drops" and "Warhol's Watercolors" respectively. Marshmallows on sticks dipped in cherry Jello, yellow chocolate, and blue sugar became "Picasso's Paint Brushes" and were excellent along side "Leonardo's Licorice." After I printed all the labels off I asked the birthday girl if she knew who these artists were and the answer was "no." I chose to include them anyway which was a tad self-indulgent of me, but I just thought they were so cute!

      Do not be fooled! 10 year old girls may look dainty and tiny, but boy can they eat!! We wrapped the sandwiches individually so they'd stay fresh and labeled them so they could choose between turkey or PB&J. I love this picture, hands everywhere, like vultures with bows. I should also point out, that while it's not in this picture, a paint bucket full of cheese puffs were the hands down fave. Note to self: Don't knock yourself out trying to be a gourmet for a kids party. Cheese puffs are where it's at.

      I just had to add this picture. This was all we saw the whole night. Just beret and legs. It suits her though, no birthday tiara for this one.

      The night was finished off with a movie under the stars, "Marmaduke" I think, and hot chocolate and popcorn. Apparently they didn't seem to mind the flash of my camera.

      All in all it was a great party and we had some serious fun putting it together. Now all I need is a new project. Anyone need their parties planned?


      Monday, October 25, 2010

      Flaunt the Haunt: Shabby Spooky

      Who says you can't decorate for Halloween when your dining room is baby blue? Here's how.

      My mom and I were recently "tapped" by my aunt Becky to help her decorate her dining room for the scary season and we were super excited to do it. You see, in our family we like to do what I call swarming. Swarming is when one person has a project/event and everyone with an ability to help swarms in and gets it done.

      My mom and I make a particularly good swarm team because we're honest, sometimes brutally honest, with each other. BUT it's a good thing. For some reason we can critique each other's ideas and no feelers get hurt. It works out especially well because she favors clean and simple and I lean toward bold colors and mismatching so we always come out with a good balance.

      Becky's running theme through her house is kind of shabby chic. So for Halloween decor you just kind of roll with it. We had a lot of fun with her dining room because she had a lot of stuff to work with. Here are a few of the details:
      A couple of ceramic owls are a cute little touch, we also made the "Boo." Above the faux fireplace Becky had already framed pretty Halloween scrapbook paper, which is a great statement and can be changed out easily with different seasons and holidays. In the fireplace we hung a wooden jack-o-lantern. I loved it because it reminded me of the little doorways to the different holidays in "The Nightmare Before Christmas." Like you could almost open it and step right into Halloween town.

      Here's another frame Becky outfitted with scrapbook paper and cute letters. Eek!

      The rest of room was dusted with Halloween knick knacks, serving trays, tea towels, and when in doubt, tie a ribbon on it! Decorating is all about using what you have, making it work and having someone there to reel you in.

      You only have a few days left to decorate so get to moving! And just like last time...

      Monday, October 18, 2010

      DIY: Photo Booth Fun

       A few weeks ago I got to help plan a birthday party for my younger cousin, Honor (on the left.) She turned 10 on 10-10-10. How cool is that?! She also wanted to have an art themed party. What a fun girl.

      One of the ideas I thought would be great to incorporate into the party was an old timey photo booth. It tied in with the art party perfectly and let the girls show off their unique personalities. You should try at your next gathering, it will definitely be a hit. Here's what you need:

      -Camera
      -Sheet or a blank wall
      -Props
      -Balloons (or anything to keep your subject in place...these were handy for keeping the girls in frame)
      -Sense of humor

      And here's a few highlights from the evening:
      We picked up fun and silly props for the girls to dress up in. Now's a great time to grab them up because there is a ton of great stuff around Halloween.
      Look how much fun they're having in this picure! So cute. Honor brought in each of her guests one at a time to have a mini silly photo shoot.
      Who would have guessed this cheap little "Bang!" gun would have been the favorite prop. I pretty much had to wrestle it out of her hot little hands to get a variety of shots. Glad she liked it so much and this pic so adequately captures her personality.
      Hilarious.
      We had to get in on the fun too. From top to bottom: My parents, my aunt and uncle (Honor's parents,) my parents and me, and aunt and uncle again.
      Of the nearly hundred pictures I took, the most priceless one to come out of the bunch is the one of our Nana and Papa. I know this will be something I cherish for the rest of my life. Just perfect.
      This was just one aspect of the evening. I have a ton of more pictures of this very special party to come and I can't wait to show you soon!

      Thursday, October 14, 2010

      Flaunt the Haunt: Vintage Classic

      This is a little series I like to call "Flaunt the Haunt." On a recent trip home my mom and I got into the holiday mood and decked out her and my aunt's dining rooms. This particular post is my mom's spooky dining room filled with classic Halloween decor with a vintage look.

      The thing about decorating for any holiday is the little things. I love the details in this room because we get the vintage look with an old timey cat. We get classic with the jack-o-lantern pails cascading down the steps, and we get a little glamour from the glittered pumpkin in the candlelight. My mom also wanted to use one of my bridal portraits to make things a little spookier. Not sure what to think about that... :)
      Here are a few more looks at what we did with the space. The wreaths with the orange berries will last her all the way through Thanksgiving so double the value and the owl and ghost really contribute to the vintage look. I've also brought your attention to the up lit tree in the window. It makes it look kinda creepy, so that, plus all the candles really puts off an extra spooky vibe...BOO!

      Also it's fun to include throwbacks to Halloweens of the past. I think I made an adorable toothless tooth fairy and my brother a cutey of a Captain Hook. Those were the days...

      So that's my first installment of "Flaunt the Haunt" hope you liked it. There's more to come, so get yourself decorating and remember...

      Sunday, October 3, 2010

      Fix It: Cantaloupe Ice Cream

      So a few years ago the Husband and I moved to Japan. We lived there for a year, and one thing I loved about it was the way the Japanese flavored things. They were so daring! I had curry flavored Pringles, grape Kit-Kats, and strawberry covered Cheetos. Sometimes they were good, sometimes...not so much. My favorite of all was the cantaloupe soft serve. YUM. It was just so different and so delicious that I had to make my parents try it when they came to visit. They loved it so much that they came back and looked up a recipe to make it themselves. And they've been making it ever since, and because I'm home, they made it for me tonight. Happy times! So here it is for you, from me, via the parental units, via some unknown site (sorry.) Try it and enjoy!

      -1 Large Cantaloupe (very ripe)
      -Juice of 1 Lemon

      For Sweet Cream Base :
      -2 Large Eggs
      -¾ Cup
      -Sugar
      -2 Cup
      -Heavy or Whipping Cream
      -1 Cup
      -Milk

      1. Cut the cantaloupe in half and clean out the seeds. Scoop the fruit into a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, and mash until the fruit is puréed.
      2. Drain the juice into another bowl and reserve. Cover the melon purée and refrigerate.
      3. Prepare the sweet cream base and whisk in the fruit juice.
      4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.
      5. After the ice cream stiffens, about 2 minutes before it is done, add the cantaloupe.
      6. If more juice has accumulated, do not pour it in because it will water down the ice cream. Continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.
      7. For sweet cream base : Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
      8. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue to whisk until completely blended, about 1 minute more.
      9. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.

      Monday, September 27, 2010

      Happy Haul-idays: 99 Cent Only Store

      It's coming! Halloween is coming, and will be here before you know. I've been hitting up this 99 Cent Store like it's my job lately and this post is dedicated to the finds I found today. What you see above is a glittery tile thing I found on the Halloween aisle and I paired it up with a picture frame holder I spotted on the other side of the store. Cute little statement for less than $2.

      I love candles of all shapes, sizes and smells and I've had my eye on these little gems for awhile now. This is the Glade Oil Candle melter and candles. For less than $2 you get the melting bowl and 4 sniff worthy candles. Fun, fun.

      Just a few groceries to spruce up dinner tonight. My friends may laugh, but you can actually eat really well and really cheaply here.

      I may or may not have gone over board on the make up today. You see when I spend a lot of money on eye shadow I tend to opt for taupes and neutrals, you know daytime make up. But you drop a buck here and you can afford to follow the trends. Purple eyeshadow for cheap? Sign me up.

      Hello headbands! If you watched the Emmy's this year you probably noticed the red carpet was loaded with Grecian inspired looks and hair-dos. How gorgeous is this gold, double braided beauty? And if I'm being completely honest, you should know I bought it in copper too.

      Two perty green vases. I have a very specific purpose for these and you'll get to see it soon. Keep your eyes peeled for a DIY post featuring these in the next week or so. :)

      And sprinkles just because they are fun and pretty and the vanilla bean ice cream in my freezer needs to play dress up.

      That's my haul for today. Hope it inspired you to find deals wherever you can. Happy Haul-idays!
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