DIY Valentine's Day Garland

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I wanna be that cool chick who decorates my mantel for every holiday - but Valentine's Day always had me stumped. Until I came across some heart shaped cards from Michaels! I grabbed a few packs, turned on my Cricut Maker, and in less than 15 minutes I had a DIY Valentine's Day garland that I'm proud to display! {FTC disclaimer: I received the Cricut for free but this post is mine all mine! This post contains affiliate links so I may make a few pennies if you buy something!}

I'm also thrilled to be joining 43 other makers to celebrate Valentine's Day with some DIY projects - I'm sharing all of them at the end of this post so be prepared to be inspired!

SUPPLIES
Heart Cards and Envelopes (I got mine from Michaels)
Cricut machine - I used the Maker but this could be done with any of the Explore machines as well!
Xyron Mega Runner
twine
scissors
white glitter cardstock (not pictured)
foam dots (not pictured)

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Open the card and lay the twine across the fold.

Use your Mega Runner to apply some adhesive at the top of the heart and at the bottom.

Fold the card closed.

Cut your XO images from glitter cardstock. I used this file in Design Space.

Add foam tape to the back of each letter and adhere.

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And voila! Need more inspiration? Check out all these great project ideas!

IKEA Hack - Ten Creative Ways to Use A Tolsby Frame

Ten creative ways to use IKEA Tolsby frames! Kingston Crafts

I didn't realize how obsessed I was with IKEA until I didn't live near one. I grew up near one of the originals (shout out to Potomac Mills!) and then as a military spouse who moves every two years I relied on it for cheap-but-cute home decor and supplies. I absolutely took it for granted, until we moved to Kentucky where the closest one is ALMOST THREE HOURS AWAY. Yeeeaaaaaaaah. So after my first visit in over two years where I bought WAY too many paper napkins and enough reusable grocery bags to power our entire town I give you my homage to one of the cheapest and most versatile IKEA items in all the land - the .99 Tolsby Frame. 

Add a little spray paint and you've got custom table numbers/menu signs/etc for your wedding! From  ruffledblog .

Add a little spray paint and you've got custom table numbers/menu signs/etc for your wedding! From ruffledblog.

Create a mini calendar with your favorite photos! From  lovelymade .

Create a mini calendar with your favorite photos! From lovelymade.

Use washi tape to add a little color! From  washitapecrafts .

Use washi tape to add a little color! From washitapecrafts.

Create a desktop mini album! From  heidiswapp .

Create a desktop mini album! From heidiswapp.

Create an entire photo gallery! From  brooklynlimestone .

Create an entire photo gallery! From brooklynlimestone.

Feature your favorite small project as a work of art. From  kesi-art .

Feature your favorite small project as a work of art. From kesi-art.

Fun AND functional? Flip cards! From  swellchel .

Fun AND functional? Flip cards! From swellchel.

How about a Christmas countdown calendar? From goldiecardsigns.

Greatest party craft/favor ever! Star Wars! From  attagirlsays .

Greatest party craft/favor ever! Star Wars! From attagirlsays.

What a cool way to display pressed flowers and leaves! From  munchkinsandmoms .

What a cool way to display pressed flowers and leaves! From munchkinsandmoms.

Ten creative ways to use IKEA Tolsby frames! Kingston Crafts

Pinterest Pantry - Second Edition

I'm visiting my folks this week - so have spent the last few days eating all of my favorite comfort foods. Which means I won't be able to fit in to my pants next week. ;)  So in the second edition of Pinterest Pantry I'm sharing a few recipes that still have that cozy warm comfort food vibe but are a lot better for you! And...two things that were a failure. Hey. They can't all be green chicken enchilada cauliflower casserole!

GREEN CHICKEN ENCHILADA CAULIFLOWER CASSEROLE

Sweet Mother of relatively healthy comfort food!! We made this casserole from I Breathe I'm Hungry because we had a bunch of frozen cauliflower in the freezer and all the other ingredients already - all I needed was a rotisserie chicken (because I was too lazy to cook a couple of chicken breasts) and HELLO!!!!! I plan to make this 769 times in the next month because it is AMAZING and surprisingly healthy! SUCH a great substitution for those rich pasta or rice casseroles...I promise you won't miss a thing.

GRADE: A+++
HOW HEALTHY: At first glance it doesn't seem super healthy - but is only 311 calories per serving and is low carb and gluten free.
DIFFICULTY: VERY easy and took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
RECIPE CHANGES:  We used rotisserie chicken out of sheer laziness, and the only thing we did different from the recipe was we chopped the cauliflower up a bit after we microwaved it so it would be in smaller pieces.
 

SLOW COOKER KIELBASA AND WHITE BEAN CASSOULET

Another winner! I first found this recipe from Real Simple in their magazine. We make this at least twice a month because it is easy, doesn't require a bunch of special ingredients and it is perfect for leftovers for lunch. 

GRADE: A+
HOW HEALTHY: We think it is relatively healthy...it is dairy free, gluten free, no added oils/butter, and we used turkey kielbasa to cut back on the calories. See our recipe changes - we skipped the bread altogether and didn't miss it one bit!
DIFFICULTY: SUPER easy - just cut up the kielbasa, dump everything in to the slow cooker and come home to a delicious meal (and a great smelling house)!
RECIPE CHANGES:  We skipped the bread - cut back on the carbs, made the meal a bit healthier, and was one less step to get the meal on the table. We also used minced garlic and dried thyme to make it even easier!
 

WALNUT AND ROSEMARY OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

We haven't had fried chicken in a hundred years, and we are pretty leery of recipes that claim that oven baked is just as good...but this one from The Recipe Critic was pretty darn close! The toasted panko and crushed nuts make a nice crispy crust with tons of taste.

GRADE: A
HOW HEALTHY: Another one that doesn't seem super healthy at first glance - but it is under 300 calories per serving so if you combine it with a simple salad it is a nice light healthy meal and has tons of protein!
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy - the hardest part was making sure the panko didn't burn when we cooked it on the stove. :) We put our chicken on a rack, so if you do that trust us when we say to ALSO line the pan with foil or parchment paper prior to cooking - otherwise clean up is a pain!
RECIPE CHANGES:  We used dried rosemary instead of fresh.

BRAISED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH MUSTARD AND THYME

First of all...am I the only person in the world who did not know the correct name for this vegetable is brussels sprouts - not brussel sprouts? Clearly I need to get out more. Secondly - Don and I like our brussels sprouts roasted and a little "drier", this recipe from Cooking Light was too mushy for our taste. If you love mushier vegetables you might love this one!

GRADE: C
HOW HEALTHY: Pretty damn healthy. You only add 1T butter for the entire recipe.
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy - the whole thing only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.
RECIPE CHANGES:  None.

BACON AND EGG BREAKFAST CHILI

It is funny - I forgot that this recipe from health-bent.com is called bacon and egg chili because 95% of the time we skip the bacon and eggs and just eat the chili plain! This is our go-to recipe for weekday breakfasts. We cook up a batch (it makes a TON) on Sunday afternoons and then eat it throughout the week - it is hearty, healthy, and easy to make! If you DO add the bacon, egg and avocado it ratchets this up to an A++ - it is SOOOOOOO good!

GRADE: A
HOW HEALTHY: VERY - it is paleo, gluten free, dairy free, and you can use ground turkey or turkey sausage if you prefer.
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy - the whole thing only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.
RECIPE CHANGES:  As I mentioned - 95% of the time we skip the bacon, egg and avocado, just to save time. Be sure you dice the sweet potatoes VERY small, and be ready to let the chili simmer for an hour or so. Those sweet potatoes take a while to get soft!

CREAMY CARROT AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

I LOVE soup - and I am forever on the search for a rich creamy soup that is still good for you. This recipe from Cooking with Curls is VERY healthy, and if I was on a very strict diet I would eat it (it tastes fine), but otherwise it isn't a recipe we'll make again.

GRADE: C
HOW HEALTHY: VERY. Dairy free, gluten free, low calorie, chock full of veggies.
DIFFICULTY: VERY easy - hardest part is chopping all of the vegetables.
RECIPE CHANGES:  We used minced garlic.

If you've got a relatively healthy Pinterest recipe that you make over and over again - I'd love to see it! We are always on the lookout for easy, healthy, delicious food! Looking for more recipes that we've put in to our bellies? The first edition of Pinterest Pantry has some favorites!

Wall Art Wood Wreath: Pinterest Fail Gone Right!

Ever have one of those projects that just doesn't turn out right? I took a total failure (too much paint, too much wine, not enough following directions) and turned it in to a fun home decor piece perfect for our mantel!

Back in January when I was in Phoenix for Creativation 2017 I was lucky enough to spend the evening at Pinspiration (you MUST go there if you ever find yourself in the area!) with the gang from DecoArt. Our plan was to create gorgeous projects to take home, but then we started chatting, and drinking, and snacking, and visiting with the other patrons, and not following directions. And then this happened.

See the GIANT paint smudges? See the K outlined in pencil in the middle that was supposed to be string art but I didn't even get that far? Yup. I craft for a living. Can't you tell?

I PROMISED them that I would fix it. I told them I could make it right. And you know what? With a few flowers and my glue gun I did just that!

So I guess the moral of this story is "when all else fails...embellish"! OR - pay better attention when you are making a craft project. Whichever. ;)

Here are a few more wreath projects to tickle your fancy!

PAPER WREATHS

PAPER WREATHS

BOW-TIFUL WREATH

BOW-TIFUL WREATH

Studio Reveal and Video Tour

If you've been hanging out with me the past few months you know I've had a studio makeover in the works. More of a move and a downsize I guess...I willingly gave up my giant 15x30 craft room in the basement for a 13x14 room on our main floor! This girl needed light! And to be near the kitchen. Because that is where all the snacks are.

I hosted a FB Live earlier this week to give everyone a tour...

but I also wanted to share a few photos here too. Some of the features in my room got lots of love so I wanted to tell you a little more about them!

I wish I could say I came up with the idea for vinyl gutter ribbon storage on my own - but all the credit goes to Vintage Chic Home. I have struggled for YEARS with what to do with my ribbon (I had it on 4' dowels before this) and this is SO MUCH BETTER. It cost us about $30 all told and because it can be customized and cut to fit any space it really is the most versatile ribbon storage I've ever come across.

Because I moved in to a space that is less than half the size of my old studio I use every square inch. I started by moving in all of my large furniture pieces first, then my smaller furniture and large storage pieces, then my smaller storage pieces, artwork and photos. Everything goes to the ceiling and surprisingly I still have room for more if I need it!

With the exception of certain themes (baby, wedding, Christmas, etc) I store everything by color. That is the way I create so it made sense to organize products to match the way my mind works! Unfortunately the IKEA CD holder on the left isn't made any more - but there are tons of creative ways to store your stuff. I created a studio makeover Pinterest board a few months back and share some cool storage/organization ideas there. 

Vintage, vintage and more vintage! I love scouring antique and thrift stores looking for cool new ways to store my supplies. An old scale (top left) is the perfect way to store my 6x6 pads, my Project Life supplies are neatly tucked away in an antique fruit box (top right) and a vintage cracker keeper (bottom left) stores my Minc supplies in one compartment and my Diamond Press supplies in the other. Because I have a yellow/teal/white color scheme I keep my eye out for anything in those colors, but don't forget that a can of spray paint can turn anything in to a customized home storage piece!

For other studio projects I've completed over the years check out these blog posts:

Pinterest Pantry - First Edition

They say you should write about what you love. I am THE luckiest girl in the world because I love what I do for a living and crafting is my life, but my real love is food. I love to buy it, I love to talk about it, I love to make it, I love to eat it. I research it, I pin the heck out of it, I plan road trips around it, and I will eat just about any of it. I like easy and (mostly) healthy cooking at home, and Don and I try at least three new recipes a week. Did I mention we love food? So I'm kicking off a new feature on the blog - Pinterest Pantry! Twice a month I will share some of the recipes we've tried and link to them on Pinterest. We'll talk about taste, healthiness (is that a word?), difficulty and things we'd do different. We hope you'll join us - and we hope you'll find a few recipes to add to your menu!

CRACK SLAW

We've been overindulging a bit lately (see my Cadbury Mini Egg problem at the end of this post) so I found this recipe from Laa Loosh one afternoon when I was desperate for something SUPER healthy. Honestly - I didn't even pin it because I thought I would hate it. SURPRISE! We made it two days in a row - the first time to have for dinner and the second time for Don to take to work as leftovers for a few days.

GRADE: A+
HOW HEALTHY: SO HEALTHY!! This is a Weight Watchers recipe and each serving is only 2 points. High in protein, low in sugar and carbs.
DIFFICULTY: SO easy - especially once we made two slight changes in the recipe (below).
RECIPE CHANGES:  Instead of shredding our own cabbage (no thank you) we just bought a bag of pre-shredded cole slaw mix when we were picking up our broccoli slaw. The second time we made it Kroger was out of broccoli slaw so we just doubled the cole slaw mix and it was still delicious! We use squeeze ginger instead of grating it (again - no thank you), and we also used ground turkey instead of chicken just because we already had it on hand.

PERFECT ROASTED BROCCOLI

Keeping with the "clean eating" theme - when Kroger had broccoli crowns on sale I found this recipe from A Spicy Perspective and thought it would be the perfect easy and healthy side dish. And I was right!

GRADE: B+
HOW HEALTHY: VERY healthy. Gluten free, low carb, vegetarian.
DIFFICULTY: RIDICULOUSLY easy - especially if you use broccoli crowns. Less cutting!
RECIPE CHANGES:  Don likes his veggies "mushier", I like them crispier, so when the cooking time was done we took half of the broccoli off the baking pan and put the rest back in for another few minutes to make it a little extra crispy for me.

GARLIC BUTTER BAKED CRAB LEGS

The photo is horrible - but the crab legs? AMAZING! Our Kroger fairly often has crab legs on sale - so when they do we stock up and treat ourselves with a date night "in" rather than going out. This recipe from food.com makes it a one-pan meal, and we literally take the pan out of the oven, cover our kitchen island in towels, and eat straight out of the pan soaking up the buttery juices with the meat as we go.

GRADE: A+
HOW HEALTHY: well...crab meat is pretty healthy, but ummm...you are baking it in butter.
DIFFICULTY: RIDICULOUSLY easy
RECIPE CHANGES:  Rather than using fresh garlic we use minced garlic, and lots of it. Makes the recipe even easier!

ATLANTA FALCONS RICE KRISPIE BITES

Rather than try to explain what happened when we made this recipe I'm just gonna leave this little video from my Instagram Stories riiiiiiiiiiight here. They were damn tasty though. They had that going for them!

GRADE: B+ (total failure appearance wise - but they are rice krispie treats. how bad could they be?)
HOW HEALTHY: Again. Rice Krispie Treats.
DIFFICULTY: You know it's time to give up when you are bested by a dessert that has been around a hundred years.
RECIPE CHANGES:  Ummm...pretty much all of it.

LOADED WEDGE SALAD (aka How to Make Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing)

I pinned this one night looking for a great "healthy" salad recipe - and instead uncovered a homemade blue cheese dressing from Tasting Table that is SO easy and amazing that I've made this THREE TIMES in the past two weeks.

GRADE: A+
HOW HEALTHY: Don't do what I did and drench your salad in the dressing, and you'll be ok. Also take note of the recipe changes below.
DIFFICULTY: VERY easy - the hardest part is dicing and cooking the scallions and that takes five minutes
RECIPE CHANGES:  We cut WAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY back on the oil for cooking the shallots, we used three (3) tablespoons (instead of one cup) and that was PLENTY. We omitted the green onions altogether, and just added the Tarragon and the olive oil right in to the dressing rather than putting it on the salad at the end. AND - we actually cut the blue cheese in half - from 4oz to 2oz.

CADBURY MINI EGGS - CHOCOLATE CRUNCH & CREME

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This isn't a Pinterest recipe - but it IS food, and IS the reason why I have been frantically looking for healthy recipes. HAVE YOU TRIED THESE????? If you love Cadbury Mini Eggs and you love Oreos then you MUST GET THESE IN YOUR MOUTH ASAP!!! Here is where I admit something I don't tell many people...I don't really like chocolate. I don't HATE it, but generally I can take it or leave it. I ate an ENTIRE BAG of these. For BREAKFAST. That is what is happening around here. This Chocolate Crunch & Creme version is available exclusively in store at Target - I mean, you CAN get them for $12 a bag on Amazon, but we're not QUITE there yet.