Monday, February 20, 2012

Page Layouts With Hearts, Stars and Circles

Here's a fun idea for those post-Valentine's Day photos, engagement/wedding photos, Mother's Day or any someone-you-love photos.  The die-cut hearts, templates and colored paper make it quick and easy!  Some layout ideas for stars and circles are shown below.

TIP:  Use pigma pens (like Zig) to make the dots around circles.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Picture Groupings

There are some homes you walk into and you instantly know so much about the folks that live there because the walls tell the story.  "A blank wall becomes something special when it says something about your family, hobbies, or travel experiences.  Favorite pictures and mementos can be used to make a decorative wall display.  Consider these pointers:  
To avoid accumulating nail holes you may later regret, first work out an attractive arrangement on the floor or within erasable chalklines on your about-to-be adorned wall.  
Consider your grouping a single unit, preferably in a geometric shape--rectangle, circle, or triangle.  Pleasing proportions can be achieved.  
Please that critical eye by hanging pictures so that they form at least one horizontal or one vertical line (with the obvious exception of a round grouping).  Otherwise, the unrelated hang-ups seem to wander all over the wall.  
"Arrangements should hang together.  Too much space between pictures disrupts the graphic effect.  
Everything that goes into a grouping, and almost anything attractive can, need not be equally spaced.  The intervening spaces should be small.
However, groupings should not be so small that they are dwarfed by other furnishings, or so massive that they are overpowering.  Keep the heavier and larger items toward the center of the grouping, and balance the sides with smaller items.
Always integrate groupings for balance by keeping the weight of your composition well distributed.  
"Remember that elaborate frames, dark mats, and oil paintings tend to weigh more heavily on the eye than water colors, etchings, and drawings.
Combine large and small squares, rectangles, and circles; but mingle the various shapes and sizes throughout the composition to maximize visual interest.
"Variation adds  interest to almost everything.  Mix and match dissimilar items, balancing them with a pleasing distribution of color 'weight' and subject matter.  Try distributing dark and light rather than massing of darks on one side and lights on the other.
Permanent accessories can be important to any arrangement.  If lamps, vases, or plants enter into your picture, include them in the plan for your picture wall."
(Source:  Creative Homemaking for Happy Living, Relief Society Homemaking Booklet, 1984)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tater Tot Casserole

Tell me that doesn't look good to you!  I had a craving one day for tater tots, and even though I had never been much of a fan of tater tot casserole, I decided to look around the internet for recipes.  I ended up changing Deep South Dish's version of the recipe to suit my taste.  Check out the link for instructions for variations on the recipe to make a breakfast casserole and a side dish casserole.  This recipe was so easy and definitely a keeper!

Tater Tot Casserole 
1 (10-ounce) can cream of mushroom or chicken soup (see this post for homemade cream of chicken soup)
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup of chopped sweet onion 
1 pound of ground beef 
1 teaspoon of minced garlic w/bell pepper (McCormick's)
1 tablespoon of fresh basil 
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme 
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning 
salt and pepper to taste
frozen peas, defrosted (drained if canned)--optional, can use green beans, corn, or mixed veggies
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 
1 pound package of frozen tater tots 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray; set aside. Whisk together the cream soup and milk until well blended; set aside.  Cook ground beef and chopped onion together until meat is browned; drain if needed and return to the skillet. Add the minced garlic/pepper, basil, thyme, Cajun seasoning, and salt and pepper (might be seasoned enough without the salt and pepper). Transfer meat mixture to the prepared casserole dish, layer peas, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese. Evenly pour the soup mixture over the top. Arrange the tater tots on top and bake uncovered at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until potatoes are nicely browned and crisp. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top and return to the oven just until cheese is melted.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Consistently Clean

I've found that when the family comes back to a clean, homey front porch, we are a lot more cheerful when entering our house.   At Christmas time I decorate the porch and even have scented candles burning and Christmas music softly playing.  My husband really enjoys this homecoming.  Be sure to clean exterior light fixtures, remove dead bugs and cobwebs on a monthly basis.  Also, clean windows, dust sills, clean floor, and spray for bugs.  It's easier to make a space homier if you have a large front porch or porch room, but even if all you have is a stoop, it can be clean, well-lighted and decorated with a few personal touches.

An alternative to spring and fall cleaning is to clean one room thoroughly at least once a month.  It is easier to remember to do this if the same day is scheduled for cleaning, such as the first Saturday of each month.

When cleaning any room, start with the closets, cupboards, and drawers.  Discard or give away the clutter.  Wash the shelves and drawers, then reorganize the remaining contents.

Every day make the bed and encourage family members to do the same--after all it's not a hotel.  Also, keep the bed clear of clutter!

First thing every morning or before going to bed each night, go around with a basket and pick up clutter and return them to the correct places.

Clean as you cook.  When washing dishes in the sink start with the least greasy items and work to the dirtiest so that your water stays cleaner longer.  Use an inverted metal colander on top of a hot skillet to catch splatters.  Then place in the dishwasher to clean.

Make lunches at night, and sweep the floor.  Plan tomorrow--what needs defrosting, what you're going to wear--write down tasks before sleeping.

Keeping all the cleaning supplies together in a bucket or other container can make cleaning a lot easier and train the family to put them back in the bucket too so you can find them more quickly.

Enact a "No Shoes" rule and your house will be a lot cleaner!

A great tip (since I'm a Scentsy Fan) is how to remove hardened melted candle wax:
Place candle holders upside-down in the freezer for about 20 minutes or longer; then take them out and place them on the counter.  The wax just falls out, (you may have to tap it lightly on the counter).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Simple Hand-Drawn Scrapbook Borders

The layout shown is one I probably found in a Creative Memories Idea Book.  I needed some way to use up a bunch of little stickers.  I also like how the whole page is filled and it's a montage of photos from my oldest daughter's childhood.

Before scrapbooking merchandise became so plentiful, I started out using pens in what I thought were clever ways.  The above shows cute, simple borders that anyone can do with a Zig pen from the craft shop.

Here's a sample I did to show how simply you can decorate a page.  If you don't like to draw, you can use micro stickers in the same way.

Here are two ways I like to dress up my handwriting.  You'll notice that all of the vowels are lower-case but the same size as the upper-case. 

By adding little slashes at the end of each letter, you have a different look for your handwriting.  I also like the little fish in waves drawings.  
The line-dot-line-dot is easy to do with a straight-edge.

All of these examples were drawn free-hand but you can use a light board found at scrapbook supply stores to trace anything you want.

Click below for more finishing touches from Scrapbook Page Design and Layout Ideas, Vol. VII, p. 39:


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