Archive | December, 2010

My crafty DIY 2011 resolutions

30 Dec

My crafty DIY 2011 resolutions

Out with the old…in with the NEW!

I am ready to close 2010 out.

New year = new start with fresh ideas

Here are some of the things I want to accomplish immediately in 2011:

1)   Convert guest bedroom into a crafty design center complete with desk/vanity, wall of inspirational pictures and large work table. Visitors don’t really need a bed to sleep on do they??  Our couch is pretty comfortable, ha!

2)   Finally finish painting my amazing vanity/desk (once the rain here in LA ever quits!)

3)   Organize all my closets!!!  It would be so nice to grab something out without having all the other contents fall out on me.  This is what one of my closets looks like.

Horror – I know!  I am very embarrassed to show this picture but wanted to be honest!

And frankly the other closets don’t look much better. I really have no excuse although I try use:

1) We are still unpacking from moving and

2) There is zero storage space.

This closet actually holds my clothes on the top half AND my sewing supplies on the bottom.  You can see my sewing machine and all my fabric stuffed like sardines at the bottom!

I really think once I can accomplish these three things, I will be an uber organized designing queen!

Forget working out or being a better person! I have crafty resolutions!

What are your crafty resolutions for 2011?

Winter Time – Better clean out the chimney!

30 Dec

Winter Time – Better clean out the chimney!

As you are basking in the warmth and comfort of your fireplace, the last thing you are likely to be thinking of is the condition of your chimney.

However, if your chimney is not cared for before you light those winter fires, your enjoyment may be short lived.  Dirty chimneys are a fire hazard.

The gunky residue that sticks to the inside walls of the chimney is creosote. Creosote is highly combustible and if it builds up in sufficient quantities – and catches fire inside the chimney flue– the result will be a chimney fire.

Clean chimneys don’t catch fire.

It is recommended that chimneys are cleaned once a year but if the fireplace is not used often, it might possible to skip and do it every few years.

Since we recently bought our house and were not certain how often the fireplace had been used or when the chimney was last cleaned, we scheduled a chimney cleaning.

I am so thankful we did.  This poor guy was under our chimney sucking out soot for hours.  He said our chimney looked like it had never been cleaned.

Also, when the chimney cleaner inspected our chimney, it was discovered that the damper was broken.  A damper is a door that opens and closes the chimney flue.  Since our damper was not working, we basically had open tunnel in our house that was allowing all the air-conditioning and heat to escape.  No wonder it was always freezing in the living room!!  We had to install a new damper which set us back $325 but we should see the savings in the future with lower utility bills.

Here is our new damper. Dampers are commonly installed inside the chimney but since ours was broken it would have been a very expensive fix to rebuild it inside.  So this alternative top unit was installed.

Now we just one more thing…we need to cut back the tree limbs because they should be at least 10 feet from the chimney.

Hello winter!

We are almost ready to toast by the fireplace!

What’s for NYE! :: Caviar

29 Dec

What’s for NYE! :: Caviar

Seriously…can you believe 2011 is only a few days away?  I do not know where the year went…but I do know I am looking forward to 2011 with much excitement.

My husband and I have never been the types to go out on New Years Eve.  We much rather stay safe at home, with lots of friends and great food surrounding us.

And with our children, of course, who stay up late…running around screaming and blowing horns…and popping fireworks to their hearts content.

We all know the old tradition of eating black eyed peas and cabbage for good luck…and burning green candles for money for the coming year.

In Texas, we have a little dish called “Texas Caviar”…you can make it year around but I usually serve it on New Years Eve and Day along cabbage and other appetizers.

Here is a delicious recipe to share the good luck your family and friends this New Years:

Texas Caviar

⅓ cups Sugar
⅓ cups Apple Cider Vinegar
⅓ cups Olive Oil
1 can Black Eyed Peas, Drained And Rinsed
1 can Black Beans, Drained And Rinsed
1 can corn, Drained and Rinsed
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 Medium Red Onion, Chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (add as much or as little at you like)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (the more the better in my book!)
Salt And Pepper, to taste (some times I add a little fresh squeeze lime too!)

In a small pot, heat the sugar, vinegar and oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add all remaining ingredients. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture over the top and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least several hours before you plan to serve it or overnight is even better.  Serve with blue corn tortillas chips, our favorite!

Do you have any New Years Eve traditions?  Share them with us in the comments…we love hearing from you!

And Happy (almost) New Year!

The Day After…

27 Dec

The Day After…

The day after Christmas…and what a beautiful Christmas it was.

Santa made a wonderful visit…and my children were happy.

Which made me happy.

And it was cold in Texas on Christmas morning…cold enough to turn off the AC.

That made me happy too.

My husband and I decided our Christmas would be different this year…focusing on ‘quality vs. quantity’.

I remember growing up with the sea of gifts under the tree each year. Although I am so thankful to my parents giving me all they could, I honestly can only remember a handful of gifts:

my first Caboodle
New Kids on the Block VHS concert
my brother’s He-Man Castle Greyskull
my first Cabbage Patch Kid
a leather purse my Grandmother sent me from New York

This year we wanted to give our children the gift of contentment…focusing on our family together. Eating. Playing. Christmas Day afternoon movie (if you haven’t seen Tangled, go. now.  I cried).

So we started this tradition:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read
(and I added Art because I think that is important too)

What a blessing it was to our family…seeing the pure joy on my children’s faces and also being able to give to the rest of our family was unbelievable.

And we also remembered the real reason for the season…which is the greatest gift of all.

Wishing you and your family all the blessings life has in store for 2011 and beyond.

Merry Christmas from 221Vision!

24 Dec

Merry Christmas from 221Vision!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We hope you have a great time with family and friends.

And pig out on lots of food… and watch A Christmas Story and Elf to your heart’s content.

See you after the holidays!

Love,

Angie and Carrie :)

Hello 2011!! What are your BIG dreams?

23 Dec

Hello 2011!!  What are your BIG dreams?

2011 is coming soon!  Time for lots of reflection….and resolutions.  Resolutions are usually little attempts at positive changes.  But what about the big ones?  Big dreams?

Oprah had one.  She is starting her own network – OWN.

In a preview of her highly personal and revealing interview with O editor in chief Susan Casey, Winfrey opens up about taking risks, overcoming fear, and the next chapter in her life.

This interview is exiting.  Oprah opens up and shares her anxiety and discusses her ego and instinct.  None of us will probably ever own our own network but Oprah’s perspective is insightful and motivating!

She even discusses her failures.  Yes, hard to believe but even Oprah has had them.

Do you have something that involves a great risk or facing your fears?

What are your big dreams for 2011?

New Amy Butler – Soul Blossoms!

23 Dec

New Amy Butler – Soul Blossoms!

Amy Butler’s new fabric collection, Soul Blossoms, is now available for sale in stores!

Here is a small teaser  - a few pictures of the new line. Love!

I own a ton of Amy Butler fabric and I can’t wait to see the entire new collection.

By the way, if you are looking for some good inspiration, check out this gallery on Amy’s site.

Tons of beautiful inspiration!

I love pink too!

22 Dec

I love pink too!

I discovered this picture a few days ago and can’t stop staring at it!!   Designer Anna Spiro shows off her love of pink.  I wish I could sit in this room for hours enjoying this art collection.  I’m currently in the process of transforming my guest bedroom into an office/crafty design center and can’t wait to make wall like this.

There are two things about this interior design that give me a huge surge of creative inspiration.
1) The collection of art on the wall. I adore the mix of prints and styles and especially the dimension that was created by using raised stretched canvas art and frames with assorted depths and sizes.
2) The bright chairs.  These hot pink chairs are reminiscent of some of the furniture styles at Hotel ZaZa.  Hotel ZaZa is a beautiful hotel in Houston with vibrant in your face flashy design concepts.  It’s a place where old classic antiques can be found with modern bold prints and these pink chairs fall right in line with that idea.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday – Lasagna!

22 Dec

What’s for Dinner Wednesday – Lasagna!

It’s the week of Christmas and I don’t know about you, but I really have no desire to cook…anything.

I’m planning our Christmas Eve and Christmas day menus and all I can think about is pumpkin roll, cranberry sauce, and cheese ball with summer sausage.

But I do have 2 little people and 1 handsome husband to care for so cooking dinner is kind of a priority.

And it would be so easy to make a run for fast food, especially this week…but I opted for something alittle more healthy and delicious.

I love Jessica Seinfeld and watched her a few months ago on Oprah (at midnight via Tivo). Jessica is known for her cookbooks, Deceptively Delicious and her most recent book, Double Delicious. I really love how she sneaks veggies in her cooking…although I am so thankful and lucky that both of my children are very good eaters.

I watched her make a crockpot lasagna that actually looked pretty good.

I love my crockpot…love it so much that every Thursday is Chicken Taco night because that is our super busy day and I put everything in the crockpot in the morning and it is ready by 6pm.

So here we are…the week of Christmas…I don’t wanna cook but I must…so Jessica Seinfeld’s Crockpot Lasagna to the rescue:

Crock-Pot Lasagna Recipe
  • 3 cans (14.4 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 containers (15 ounces each) fresh ricotta
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) grated mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 12 lasagna noodles (about three-quarters of a 1-pound box)
  • 5 ounces (about 6 cups) baby spinach

The recipes calls crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper.  I used 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes already seasoned with italian herbs and garlic…works perfect and one less step when in a hurry.

Mix the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella and Parmesan.

In the bottom of a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, spread a thin layer of the sauce.

crockpot lasagna Jessica Seinfeld

Top with 3 of the noodles (breaking to fit as necessary).

Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the noodles and layer with 2 cups of the spinach and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture.

Repeat twice more with the noodles, sauce, spinach and cheese mixture. Top with the remaining 3 noodles, sauce and 1 cup mozzarella.

Cook on low, covered, until the noodles are tender—especially in the center of the lasagna—about 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

And enjoy!  Seriously the easiest lasagna…ever.

DIY: Making Wrapping Paper from Grocery Bags

21 Dec

DIY: Making Wrapping Paper from Grocery Bags

I take reusable fabric shopping bags when grocery shopping but somehow quite a few paper bags still magically turn up at my house.  We try to recycle and repurpose as many things as possible so when staring at some paper grocery bags in my cabinet the other day thought hmmmm….wrapping paper!

If you want some earth friendly paper…or perhaps don’t have time to run to the store, here is a great way to make your own wrapping paper.

Paper grocery bags left plain and tied with raffia ribbon would make a natural and pretty look for wrapping paper.

I decided to jazz mine up with a little paint!

Here’s what you need.

Paper grocery bag, scissors or tool that cuts paper, tape or glue, paint and paint brushes.  I used leftover sample of house paint. Yes, house paint!  I used an old sample of paint I was planning to use on the exterior of my house. Any paint that adheres to paper will work.  You can use any type of paint brush but I wanted to use a sponge brush for a blotchy effect.

It’s okay if the bag is a little beat up. It just adds to the rustic look.

Cut along one side of the bag.

Cut the bottom out.

Cutting it this way maximizes the coverage area of the paper bag.  Now you have one long flat piece of wrapping paper.

If there are handles on the bag, remove them.

Cut out a piece of wrapping paper to fit your gift.

Now wrap gift.  I glued shut with a glue stick but tape can also be used.

Time to paint!

I don’t own a cutting machine like a Cricut or Silhouette so I made my own stencils.  I printed out shapes I liked on standard white printing paper and then cut them out with an exacto knife.

Lay stencil directly on package.  Paper bags are so thick, the paint will not soak through it.

I love how the sponge paint brush left this blotchy effect. It can be painted thicker if you prefer a solid look.

I also made some wrapping paper with stripes using painter’s tape. To do this, you must paint the wrapping paper before wrapping the gift.  However, making stripes takes more time and more paint. If you want to make some quickly, just use stencil.  I actually was more pleased with the stencil look anyway!

It is possible to use the same stencil over and over.  Just make sure the paint is dry before you switch colors.

Polish off with ribbon!

This would even be a fun project for children to do with crayons.

in the spirit

20 Dec

in the spirit

I found this picture last week and wanted to share it with you.

My Christmas spirit went off the charts when I saw it.  How about yours?

Although it is in the 70′s in Texas this week…and the chance of getting snow is zero… still I love Christmas time.

We are home from a long weekend with my husband’s family, celebrating Christmas with the little cousins, and riding the Polar Express train.

It is just like the movie…dancing chefs, cookies & hot chocolate, Tom Hanks punching your ticket…

Hope everyone is enjoying this week of Christmas!

photo credit…I have no clue…I saw it, saved it, & shared it.

Patience.

17 Dec

We started our advent calendar on December 1st and the kids were so excited to wake up every morning to a piece of chocolate and countdown the days until December 25.

We stayed on track for 4 days…then Little Man started a round of antibiotics.

You know the white, chalky, disgusting antibiotics that Pediatricians love to give strong-willed 2 year olds??

So we chased him around the kitchen island with the medicine dropper in one hand…and a piece of chocolate in the other…and he washed the drugs down with a piece of chocolate.

And Sweet P got her chocolate too because it wouldn’t be fair for ‘him to get a piece and not me!’

A mom has to do what a mom has to do.

And now 9 days before Christmas…and both of my children’s advent calendars are empty.

advent calendar

Finished.

Gone.

Next year I will do better.

We will work on patience.  And pray no one gets sick the first week of Christmas.

Happy week before Christmas, friends!  Are you ready for Santa??

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