A Thankful Heart

Thankful heart

We were created in God’s image…born out of love.  We were designed to walk with our Lord…but, our willful pride  separated us, long ago…When we thought we could do “better.”


For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:1).


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

These things we chase after…God freely gives


Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20)


Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully (Romans 12:4-8).


“even the stones would cry out”

 “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy” -Psalm 96:11-12


“God inhabits (dwells in) the praise of his people” -Psalm 22:3

As we take time to give thanks…we open the door to hope


As we practice gratitude… God gives us Himself.

“I will enter His Courts in Praise:)” -Psalm 100:4

Christmas in Lights! Easy Wall Hanging Tutorial

Paper Tree / Wall Hanging Tutorial


1.) Unfinished 18 x 5 inch tray (1/2 inch deep) : found at Michaels

2.) “MERRY” letters ($1 -found in the sale bins by the front register at Michaels)

3.)  6 x 6 “World Traveler” Paper Pad (Hobby Lobby)

4.) 1 Strand of Battery Operated Rice Lights -LED (Hobby Lobby)

5.) Torn Book Pages ( I used an old Christmas music songbook)

6.) Jingle Bells (available at most craft stores)

7.) Twine & Ribbon (optional)

8.) Acorns

9.) Tsukineko Walnut Ink Spray

10.) Scrabble Letters Mini or Reg. (optional)

The tray came unfinished, so I stained it using a make-up sponge and some Tsukineko Walnut Ink Spray.

You could use any stain or paint you like:)


Next, I covered  the bottom of the wooden tray with torn pieces of vintage music paper using matte medium.

(You could use Mod Podge or any other “wet” glue you have on hand)


Cut 4-6 Squares, starting with largest size then cutting each one 1/2 inch smaller than the last.

My large tree’s bottom square measured 3 1/2…the next tiers were 3, 2 1/2, 2, 1 1/2)

Large Tree (3 1/2, 3, 2 1/2, 2, 1 1/2)

Medium Tree ( 3, 2 1/2, 2, 1 1/2)

Small Tree ( 2 1/2, 2, 1 1/2, 1)


Fold square in half to crease, unfold.

Fold in half again, making a “cross” in the middle, unfold.


Next, fold corner to corner…unfold, and fold opposite corner to corner, unfold.

You now have a “Starburst” pattern of folds.


Turn paper over, right side up, and fold in the “side triangles” -as seen above & below



Fold in both sides creating a “front & back” triangle



Next, fold down the left side of the “front/top triangle” lining the edge up with the center fold (like a paper airplane)

Do the same with the right side


Stack each folded square starting with the largest and ending with the smallest.


I used a tape gun to adhere each layer…you could also use craft glue or a glue gun.


You can vary the space between each layer depending on how “tall or fat” you want each tree be.

If you’re fussy, you line them up to be exact.  As you can see, I am not:)


Next, I added the Lights.

The Rice Lights are so easy to work with because the are on flexible wire, and will “stay put” as you bend them into place.

I wrapped each tree (1 string of lights for all 3 trees) and then used a glue gun to adhere the trees to the wood frame/tray.


I found the word MERRY at Michaels in the $1 bin.  I new I could put it to good use!

I wrapped it with jute twine, and then tied the bells into the bow.

The jingle bells were made by a friend of mine (my favorite crafting buddy), who simply took the tops off of acorns she found in her yard, drilled a small hole in the top, attached some ribbon and hot glued the top back on.

 I think they are ADORABLE!



I added some ribbon to the top edges of the tray, using a tape gun. (again, you could use whatever glue you like)


For the trunks, I used a sheet of “scrabble letters” I had in my scrapbook stash.

You could simply use scrapbook paper, and cut out a rectangle for the trunk.

On the edges of the letters I used a  dark chocolate inktense watercolor pencil to add a bit of color to them.

The Rice Light’s battery pack hides behind the tray.

I hot glued it “over the edge” and ran the ribbon over the top of it, so it’s hardly noticeable.

Easy Folded Tree Wall hanging with lights!

I am really loving these cute little Rice Lights!  They are perfect for projects like this!

Hope you enjoyed!

Thanks for stopping by!!

It’s a joy to share with you:)


Food Gift Ideas with Recipes for the Holidays

Food Gift Ideas & Recipes for the Holidays

I love the Holidays…Family & Friends making time for one another…

The time we spend together most often involves gathering around the table…OR STANDING AROUND THE KITCHEN…no one seems to ever want to migrate AWAY from the food:)  Does this happen at your house? We do have lovely furniture to sit on.

So, anyway…Cooking for family and friends brings me great joy, wherever the food is eaten.  It’s my favorite way to express love.

So, I am sharing with you some of my traditional food gifts that those family and friends have come to expect this time of year.  Below are a few recipes for some of my favorites, and most requested:)

Please keep visiting…more fun recipe gift ideas coming soon!

Soft Salted Caramel

Soft Caramels

NOTE: My best caramel making advice is as follows…

1.) You must not stop stirring, or the delicious caramel will burn.

2.) Before you start, pull up a stool…right next to the stove.  Have something on your computer to watch, a book to read, or a friend to call, because the stirring process will take about 40-45 min…REALLY…and you mustn’t stop.

3.) Use this time to enjoy the above movie, TV show, good book, or good friend.


5. Do not cover caramel tray with wax paper, it will stick to warm caramel.

6. Do not make caramels if it is raining! (seriously-humidity creates great inconsistency)

Soft Salted Caramels

Tools: Candy thermometer, Jelly Roll Pan, Tall stock pot (this is very important! If your pot is too short the hot caramel will splatter on your hand as you stir)

1 Lb. butter (I use Land ‘O Lakes)
2 Lbs. brown sugar (I use dark brown, but light brown is what most recipes call for)
2 C Karo syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs. vanilla
dash of salt

Coarse Sea Salt to finish (optional)

Slowly melt butter in a tall stockpot on low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.  I may have already mentioned…DON’T STOP STIRRING.

Add Karo syrup and condensed milk. Turn heat to medium and cook stirring without ceasing…really…I’m serious… sit down, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend…but, DO NOT stop stirring!!!  It will take about 40-45 min.

Heat until mixture reaches 238 degrees. Add vanilla carefully. (it will really bubble and spatter) Continue to heat until temperature reaches *238-242. Pour into jellyroll pan. (The exact size doesn’t matter really matter) If desired, sprinkle with Sea Salt. Cool & then cut into squares or rectangles, forming with your fingers.  I pre-cut wax paper and wrap them twisting each end the opposite way.(think of a tootise roll) 

*The higher the temp the firmer the caramels.  I like a chewier caramel, so I usually cook mine to 242.  If your batch turns out too soft, you can keep them in the fridge.

Caramels have been a long time favorite Teacher gift, and has become expected from Co-workers, neighbors and friends:)

I bag a dozen in a pretty cello bag and tie the recipe on with a bow.

Moist and Chewy Granola

Moist and Chewy Granola

5 C Oatmeal
2/3 C Butter
2/3 C Honey
1 C D Brown Sugar
2 Tbs. Cinnamon
2 Tbs. Vanilla
1 Tsp. Salt

2 C Coconut
*Optional: Nuts of choice (I like macadamia & praline pecans-add p.pecans after baking granola)
Dried fruit (I use cranberries and/or blueberries)

Place first 7 ingredients in a small saucepan and melt on low heat until combined.

Pour melted mixture over 5 C Oats, Nuts (unless using praline pecans..add these after baking), & 2 C Coconut ; stir until combined.
Spoon mixture onto a greased sheet pan. Bake for 20-30 min, stirring several times, until brown.

Remove from oven and cool on pan. When cool, transfer to a large mixing bowl and toss in any dried fruits you like and praline pecans if using them. (I buy Kroger’s Private Selection Praline Pecans- but, you could make them yourself)

Package the granola in Cello bags and tie the recipe on for a yummy holiday gift.


Apple Hand Pie w/Salted Caramel Sauce

Apple hand pie w/salted caramel

For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water

1 beaten egg (egg wash)

Sugar in the RAW (sprinkled on top of pies before baking)

For the filling:

6 Granny Smith Apples

1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 Tbs. flour  
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg                        

2 Tbs.granulated sugar

1/2 Tsp. salt

For the Pastry:
For the pastry dough, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until “crumbly”. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once.  Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, just until the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap with plastic or wax paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Unwrap the chilled dough and roll out on a floured surface.  Use a round biscuit cutter (mine was about 4 inches in diameter) If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you could use a drinking glass.

Cut out 2 rounds for each pie.  (the recipe should make 10-12, depending on size of your cutter)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the filling:

Peel, core, and cut the apples into very small chunks.(about the size of corn kernels) Toss the chunks with the orange zest, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Melt 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat in a skillet and cook until tender. 


Unwrap the chilled dough and roll out on a floured surface. (roll to about 1/8 inch thick) Use a round biscuit cutter (mine is about 4 inches in diameter) If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you could use a drinking glass.

Cut out 2 rounds for each pie.  (the recipe should make 10-12 pies, depending on size of your cutter)

Place one half of each pie about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place about 2Tbs. of the apple mixture in the center of each pie.  Top with second round of dough.  Using a fork to “crimp” the two halves together all around the edge.  Brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with RAW sugar. Make 2-3 small cuts (pierces) with a sharp knife to “vent” the pies as they bake.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-18 min.  Bake until they are slightly brown.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt or Sea Salt

Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed. In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. Carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble really bubble!). Whisk until mixture is smooth. Add Salt to taste, then pour caramel into a glass jar to cool.

I use these jars:

4oz. canning jar

Apple Hand Pies w/Salted Caramel SaucePackage 4-6 Pies in a Cello bag, tied with a pretty bow, along with a jar of yummy Salted Caramel Sauce.  A GREAT hostess gift:)

You can get super cute jar labels here.

Holiday Cards & Tags

Happy FALL!

The Fall and Winter months remind me of all I am thankful for!  I love this time of year and look forward to Spending time with loved ones as we enjoy Hot Soup and Chili, Logs on the fire, Homemade Caramel, Gingerbread Men, Cinnamon in the air, and Holiday decorating:)

 So here are some cards and tags I created with our November Mixed Media Kit from Frog Dog Studio,

to adorn a gift or just to say thank you.

“We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives.

Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.”  —Ann Voskamp

   Here are the products I used from our GREAT November Kit.  

 (I happened to have these cute leaf stamps)

Wow, do I love the Niji Pearlescent Watercolor Set.  

The colors are beautiful and the shimmer adds such a special touch.

…and the Distress Glitter…well, wait til you see what a fun accent these make! 

I used a package of blank cards with envelopes.  You can purchase several different sizes from craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby.




Above, I used a Copic Marker to “ink up” my stamp.  You can use a stamp pad, or any markers you have on hand.  I used this Copic marker because I had a color that I felt matched the Watercolor Set.


Here you can see the stamped image on the blank card.

Next, I added more color using the Niji Pearlescent Watercolor Set. 


Above,  my paint brush is resting on the Gold I mixed with the Dark Mossy Green.

 I find it easiest to spray all the colors I plan to use with a small mister. (filled with water)

Once you do this, you can then “grab” colors or even mix them, to make and a new color. The lid is designed to do just that:)   


I knew I wanted to add the Distress Glitter (Gold) so mixing in a little of the Watercolor Gold would compliment the Glitter.


 Above, you can see that I added a “good squeeze” of the Glossy Accents, and then below…took a brush to spread it over the entire leaf.  

I did this, to create a “thin” layer of the Glossy Accents.  I just wanted enough to “hold” the Distress Glitter.  (a thin layer dries faster too)


Now for the fun part…a sprinkling of Glitter!

 Such an easy application for that Wow factor:)

 I used the Sakura Glaze Pen in Hunter Green to add a few accents.  Look above to see how JUICY these Glaze pens are.  They dry with a 3 dimensional finish.

 I am a crazy fanatical “PEN GIRL” & I LOVE these Pens!!


 I used this same process detailed above

for each of the Leaf stamps and Acorn stamp on the rest of the cards.

 I added a little more detail with an XS PITT MULTI LINER BLACK PEN.


 I was loving the results, so I decided to pull out some Blank Kraft Tags.

 And why not go ahead and make a few Christmas Tags:)

 The White in the Watercolor Set looks GREAT on a dark Kraft tag.

 (any dark paper really makes these colors POP!)

I loaded my brush with ALOT of water, saturated it with the WHITE watercolor paint, and then “flicked” it with my fingers to add the “SPLATTER” effect.

Hope this sparks some of your own ideas or inspires you to create some of these notecards and tags!

 It’s a joy to share with you!!

Thank you for stopping by!





Chalkboard Paint Ornaments

Chalkboard Paint Ornaments


Start with a box of clear glass or plastic balls…found at craft stores or even Walmart:)


Next, add several coats of Chalkboard paint. (Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Lowes, Home Depot)

Chalkboard Paint Ornaments

Chalkboard Paint Ornaments

I used an inexpensive sponge brush and applied 3 coats, allowing each to dry for about 15 minutes.

Once the last coat was dry, I used one of my VERY FAVORITE pens to mimic chalk…

Signo Uni-ball pen in White.

Uniball pen

You can find them at Jet Pens.

Chalkboard Paint Ornament

I really love hand made ornaments.  They become such keepsakes.  They help me remember the details and memories made that surround each ornament each year they were created.  My most cherished ornaments are the ones my kids have made  through the years and they are the ones we giggle and laugh about each time we trim our tree.

When I give an ornament to someone I love, my hope is that every year, as they trim their tree,

they will remember they are cherished:)

Salt Dough Ornaments : Revisted:)

Salt Dough Ornament Tutorial          I have been making Salt Dough Ornaments for years.  They are lovely to give as gifts, or to use as an extra special tag.

For the last several seasons, I have finished them with Tim Holtz Distress Stain to create a vintage look.


This year, I’m trying something different.

Salt Dough Ornament Tutorial


4 C Flour

1 C Salt

1 1/2 C Warm water

8 -16 oz. White Acrylic Paint (I typically use about 12 oucnes of paint-*only for WHITE ornaments)

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands until a dough forms.

If you are NOT making WHITE ornaments, omit paint and add 1/2 C more water. Either way, you may need to adjust water and flour to achieve a “bread dough” like consistency.

Add the acrylic paint and continue kneading in the bowl, until there is no longer any “loose” paint in the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and continue to knead, until it becomes fairly smooth and uniform in color.

Roll out the dough, adding a little more flour to the surface and your rolling pin. Roll out to about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thickness.

Use cookie cutters or biscuit cutters for shapes.

Place each cut shape on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Use a skewer to create a hole for the ribbon.

For the ink design, use your favorite rubber or polymer stamps along with a black permanent ink. ( like StazOn)

Gently press your inked stamp into the cut shapes BEFORE BAKING.

Bake at 200 degrees for 4-6 hours.

They are done when they become completely hard.



Above is an example of the ornaments stamped WITHOUT ink.

I took some of the baked,  “inkless” ornaments and added some fun mixed media products for color…

MORE on that LATER!

Below, you can see I used a bamboo skewer to create a hole for the ribbon before they went into the oven.



It is best to use a permanent ink like StazOn.


*If you have any edges that are a little rough after baking, a light file with an emery board smooths those right up!

Salt Dough Ornament Tutorial

Salt Dough Ornament Tutorial

They are SOOOOOO easy, and such a nice & INEXPENSIVE Gift!!

I have a whole tree decorated just with these!  -and my hubby liked the Price$!!


A Birthday tradition at our house requires food to be prepared per request  of the birthday boy or girl. With my oldest, this entails a menu of meat…no sides, no salad…just meat…preferably meat on a stick…This warrants a full out meat celebration…


Meatapalooza : a manly birthday party

My daughter in law came up with a great Evite, that invited all the party guests to bring a “present” of meat to share.

Meatapalooza invite

The EVITE included the below list for guests to choose their “cut of choice.”


She made a cute tent card, that listed each cut, and all the information you could ever hope to know about each one.

As the guests brought their meat, they were then placed by each corresponding tent card.

No MEATAPALOOZA could be complete without a Slow Cooked Smoked Pork Shoulder.

I put it “on the fire” (225-230 degrees) and there it would stay for a good 10-12 hours.

I trimmed the shoulder just a little, then pat it dry.

Next, I rubbed it down with a combination of commercial rubs, adding salt and cracked pepper.

I keep it very simple, and have had GREAT results every time.

Go to the website below for some FANTASTIC information on Smoking.




4 hours to go:)

My Son feels old at 29…hmmm…not so old to this 50 year old mother!


My youngest son, couldn’t say his older brother’s name when he was little, so we taught him

to say “Do-Do” instead of Andrew.  (Andrew just loves this:)  haha)


October is a great month for a Fall Meat Party.

We ended up with a

Variety of Meatballs

Smoked Pork Shouder

Mexican Chicken

Grilled Steak


Bacon Wrapped Ribs


BBQ Brisket

Next Meatapalooza will need to include meats on a stick…we were definitely missing this favorite “variety.”

A Birthday wouldn’t be complete without a dessert…one of  his favorites…

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce.

I was so engaged in our celebration, that I neglected to take pictures of all the food and fun, but below is the recipe for

the amazing Cheesecake…a PERFECT fall treat!!!

I served mine with whipped cream,  generously piped.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce


1 3/4 cup finely crushed graham crackers
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
6 Tbsp salted butter, melted
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened well
4 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 recipe homemade caramel sauce, recipe here
Coarse or flaked sea salt


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together crushed graham crackers with 2 Tbsp granulated sugar. Pour in melted butter and stir mixture until evenly coated. Divide graham cracker mixture among 24 foil lined muffin cups, adding about a heaping Tbsp to each. Firmly press mixture into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing filling.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until no clumps of sugar remain. Add cream cheese to a large mixing bowl, then pour sugar mixture over cream cheese and using an electric hand mixer set on low speed, blend together until smooth.

Mix in eggs one at a time. Blend in pumpkin and vanilla, then mix in heavy cream. Divide mixture over graham cracker crust in muffin liners, adding about 1/4 cup to each cup and filling nearly full. Bake in preheated oven until nearly set, (Will still look a little soft) about 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack at room temperature, 30 minutes. Then transfer to refrigerator and chill at least 3 hours until set. Top with caramel sauce and a pinch of sea salt just before serving. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream


Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed. In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. Carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth. Pour caramel into a glass jar to cool, sprinkle lightly with sea salt when serving if desired.