Saturday, February 27, 2010

17 Days of St. Patrick!


Ok, so I had SO MUCH FUN doing the 14 days of Valentine, I decided I wanted to do the 17 Days of St. Patrick!  I have come to realize though that this will be a bit more difficult to do...so bare with me on the creativity...this is a much more difficult holiday then Valentine's Day was! 

Starting March 1st, I plan to post, every day, a St. Patrick's Day idea!  I will be posting some of your ideas as well so be sure to submit your ideas early to me at: simplydesigning@gmail.com!  I would love to see what fabulous St. Patrick's day ideas you have!

So please, come join me and invite your friends and those who follow your blog to come on over here for the 17 Days of St. Patrick! 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chocolate Almond Meringues (You MUST try these! EASY and Diabetic-Friendly too!)



Have I mentioned that I am pregnant?  And by pregnant I mean I am 39 weeks into a very difficult pregnancy and I am just SO ready to be done being pregnant. 

Well, I had the idea to bring goodies to my ob-gyn's office this past Monday to perhaps "bribe" him into helping things along, or inducing me...or anything really!  Sounds like a good idea right?  It can't hurt in any case.  Some people try walking or castor oil to help induce pregnancy, I bribe my ob-gyn with goodies! 

However, my ob-gyn is diabetic, and not being diabetic myself or having anyone in my family with diabetes, I had no clue where to begin!  So I went searching for a recipe that was both diabetic-friendly and that didn't include me needing to waddle to the grocery store to pick up ingredients.

Enter...Chocolate Almond Meringues!!!

Update:  Baby boy decided to make an early arrival early on Monday morning!  I  never made it to my dr's apt.  The fabulous nurses at the hospital where I delivered enjoyed the meringues instead! 

To be honest, I have never made meringues.  They scare me slightly.  But I have always wanted to attempt to make them so this gave me the perfect opportunity to try them.   

I found this recipe from the Diabetic Gourmet Magazine website and it looks yummy, simple and I had all the ingredients I needed to make them!  Hurray!


Chocolate Almond Meringues (diabetic-friendly)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sugar (divided: 2 tablespoons and then the remaining portion)
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray
  3. In a small bowl, mix:

    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • almonds
    • cocoa
    • cornstarch




  4. In a stainless or glass bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid), beat egg whites until frothy
  5. Add cream of tarter to eggs and beat on high until soft peaks form
  6. Gradually add in vanilla and remaining sugar portion
  7. Beat until stiff and shiny 




  8. Gently fold cocoa mixture into meringue mixture
  9. I used a pastry bag and a large tip and piped the meringues onto the foil-lined baking sheet.  You can also use a spoon and just drop small mounds onto the baking sheet.




  10. Bake at 250 degrees F for 40 minutes.  Meringues will be dry and slightly browned.




  11. Cool completely
  12. Store in an air tight container (if you can't help eating them all right away :-)
Mine turned out SOOOO yummy!  They were very airy and light and fluffy, but had a slightly chewy center.  Oh yum!  (And they were so simple, quick and easy to make!)


Yield: about 2.5 dozen cookies
Serving Size: 1 cookie
Calories:  18
Sodium:  7 mg
Cholesterol:  0 mg
Fat:  0.3 g
Carbohydrates:  4 g
Exchanges:  1/4 bread or starch

Thursday, February 25, 2010

So SIMPLE Note Cards



I had a baby shower to attend a few weeks ago, so the night before I wrapped her gift up beautifully and realized I had forgotten to buy a card for her!  Oops!  Do you ever do that or is it just me?

So I got out my old scrapbook supplies and paper and went to town trying to make a cute card to match the gift.

I really was so simple.  I choose 2 different papers and cut one slightly smaller then the other.

I used a brown ink pad to darken up the edges both pieces of paper. 

I used my grommet maker to make a hole for my flower on the top paper and attached the flower.

Then I attached both pieces of paper together and voila!  Instant, cute note card! 

I love it when I can come up with ideas that turn out cute and don't cost me a penny!  (my husband also loves that last part :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What COLOR are you?



Do you have one minute?  Want to find out what "color" you are?  True Value has a color quiz online right now.  I can't prove that it is in any way scientific, but it only takes 1 minute and it is fun in any case.  (Plus I love anything having to do with color!)

Come on over and check out the quiz HERE.

I took the quiz and I am Red.  About which they say: "You boast incredible willpower and are capable of overcoming obstacles that would normally leave others shaking in their boots. You have a penchant for colorful environments and often impress others with your energetic bursts of energy. Your interests in many areas of life often leave you scattered, but when you focus you can accomplish anything you put your mind to."

What color are you??

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amazing Printable Cards!



I have found the cutest FREE downloadable / printable cards over at Natalie Jost’s site! They are beautifully designed papers that are ready to turn into clever cards…I just love them!  (I used them in another upcoming post too!)!  You can download the file here and then just follow the directions.  See mine below!


Print cards.

Score along the “score here” marks.


Cut the cards out.


Fold.


Voila! Beautiful, small note cards!

I also fell in love with these ridiculously cute printable cake cards from Tricia-Rennea’s!  They can be found here! So incredibly cute! Now I just need an excuse to use them…

Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Caramel Popcorn



Yum. Caramel Popcorn! I know this seems like more of a fall food item, but I have got to be honest with you. I get so full on yummy treats during fall and winter that I rarely get around to making this during that time of year! Plus, caramel popcorn is good any time of year in my opinion!

This recipe is so EASY and so QUICK to make. Even my hubby has made it without my help a few times! And, it makes the soft gooey kind of caramel popcorn, not the hard kind. So it’s not good for making popcorn balls with, but it is incredibly yummy to eat!

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup margarine
¼ cup light Karo syrup
Popcorn, popped (You can pop your own popcorn or use bags of microwave popcorn.)


  • Boil all ingredients on the stove for 30 seconds.
  • Pour onto popped popcorn and stir until evenly coated.  (Your children will love helping you stir it all together!  Just be careful, it is hot!) 
  • Spread out on a cookie sheet and enjoy!  Or let cool and put in cello bags and give as gifts!

It's almost embarrassing that it took 2 adults and a 3 year old to finish all of this (half batch) in a matter of minutes!

(Note: this makes a really large batch. Make a half batch for about 4 people.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Time for another GIVEAWAY!!! And Introducing…


Maroon

Thank you for joining me for Simply Designing's second GIVEAWAY!

I am sooo excited about this giveaway! In fact, I really wish I could enter it myself…unfortunately for me, I cannot. Fortunately for you, this is an awesome giveaway!

I would like to introduce to you Tasha at the Creation Corner! She is a very talented person and I enjoy visiting her blog often to find new ideas!

monogram


So, without further ado…here she is!

Hello! I am the quiet gal over at Creation Corner that loves a good craft. I am the wife to one amazing husband. (Really, I am lucky.) The mother to 3 wonderful and crazy boys. (I sure love my boys.) And, I always seem to be busy doing something. I started Creation Corner as a place to put the crafts I have accomplished, but it just wasn’t working. Then one day I had the revelation that I should also host all the things I want to do and links to them. So, what you find today is a place where you see many people’s creations along with my own, hence Creation Corner. I really do love a fun new project. I love to sew, paper craft, and pretty much try lots of new things. But, my real love is fabric. I love it. It is a little bit of an obsession with me. I hope you will come on by and check out my blog and hopefully you will find some fun new projects to get started on.

White

Tasha has so graciously offered to host a giveaway for Simply Designing and I am so happy to have her!!

Here is the nitty-gritty for the giveaway:
  • One will be chosen at random for this giveaway!
The winner will receive:

  • (2) Beautiful Vintage Headbands from Creation Corner's Etsy Shop!!
    • You may select from the following colors: maroon, black, silver, white or ecru. See the photos in the post for that they look like! They are gorgeous!!
The Rules:
  1. Post one comment for every entry that you earn below. Be sure to post your comments on this blog post for entry in this contest! 
  2. 1 comment = 1 entry.
  3. Include all pertinent information in your comment including what you have done to earn that entry.
  4. This giveaway will run until February 26th, 11:59pm PST at which point 1 winner will be chosen at random using random.org.
  5. Check back here March 1st to see if you have won! The winner will be posted in a blog post and they will have 3 days to claim their prize by contacting me here with their shipping information and head band color choices. If the winner does not contact me in that time frame, they will forfeit their prize, and another winner will be chosen.
Ecru

Earn your entries:
  • 1 entry = head over to Creation Corner and check out her post on her Vintage Headbands here. Leave a comment on Tasha’s blog while you are there! Come back here, and leave 1 comment telling us which headband is your favorite and which ones you would choose if you won!
  • 1 entry = visit Tasha’s Creation Corner Etsy shop here. Check out all of her wonderful creations and then come back here and leave 1 comment telling us what your favorite Creation Corner creation is.
  • 1 entry = blog about this giveaway on your blog! You must link to simplydesigning.blogspot.com and/or use my button in your post! Encourage your readers to come and enter the giveaway! Come back here and leave 1 comment including the direct URL of your post where you tell your readers about this giveaway.
  • 1 entry = join my McLinky party below (2/18/2010)!  It’s easy! You just need to submit a link to a blog post you have done! The theme is St. Patrick’s Day and Green ideas / tutorials / crafts etc!
  • 2 entries = become a Follower (or if you are a follower already, just say so!)
  • 2 entries = add Simply Designing's button to your blog or webpage (include your URL where you added our button to your page please)
Remember to post a separate comment for each entry you earn. If you do all of the above things, you can earn 8 entries!


Black

Silver

*Remember, you must be 18 years or older to enter this contest and it
is open to residents of the United States only.
All giveaway items will only be shipped to a U.S. address.*

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Time for another LINK PARTY!!!!



It's time for another Link Party!!

The theme is St. Patrick's Day and/or Green ideas / crafts / projects / tutorials etc.  (Yes, I mean the color green, although I suppose if you had a "green" green idea that would work too!)

This link party is very wide open to many ideas and many different post types.  I look forward to looking at all your ideas so please post them (because I will look and comment)!!

Rules are simple:

  • Use the McLinky feature below to add your post to the party.  Please be sure to write a descriptive name for us all to see!

  • Use a direct url link to the post you wish to feature, not the url to your blog /website.

  • Add my button or link to my blog in your blog post that you are adding to the link party, letting everyone know you are participating in my link party and encourage your followers to come and join in too!

  • Check back often and visit the other ideas posted!  It is sure to be fun!
Thanks for joining and I can't wait to see all your fabulous ideas!

Simply Designing

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Homemade Marshmallows



I.  Love.  Marshmallows.

I love marshmallows in hot chocolate, dipped in chocolate fondue or straight out of the bag. I don’t know why, but marshmallows are just so yummy!

So I decided to try my hand at making homemade marshmallows. And what surprised me most was how soft and fluffy these marshmallows were! Yum yum yum! I have come across a few recipes for them out there, but this is a step by step on how I made my marshmallows! Enjoy!

But I am Oh.  So.  Very.  Sad.  I took TONS of photos when I made these so I could show you step by step pictured instructions.  And somehow, somewhere, they have gone M.I.A.  I have done searches on my entire computer...nothing.  It is oh so very very sad.  So you will need to use your imagination on this one.  So sorry.

Ingredients:
3 packets unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice water, divided into ½ cup portions
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup corn starch
1/3 cup powdered sugar

9” x 13" pan
Non-stick spray (Pam)
Candy thermometer


Step 1:
  • Empty gelatin packets and ½ cup ice cold water into a stand-mixer bowl (Kitchen Aid or Bosch etc.).
  • Mix gently until combined.
Step 2:
  • In a small pan on the stove combine the other ½ cup cold water, corn syrup, sugar and salt.
  • Stir mixture and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer and let it remain simmering until it reaches a temperature of 245 degrees Fahrenheit (use your candy thermometer for this.)
  • Stir occasionally.
  • It may take 20-30 minutes to reach this temperature.
  • Remove from heat.
Step 3:
  • Run your stand mixer on low speed.
  • Slowly add the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture in your mixer. (I poured my sugar mixture into a smaller container with a spout on it to make it easier.)
  • Immediately put your dishes into hot soapy water so that you can get them soaking and clean before it gets too sticky!
  • After is it combined, run your mixer on med-high for 12-15 minutes.
  • During the last couple of minutes of beating, add the vanilla (and any optional* items below).
Step 4:
  • While your mixture is beating, prepare your pan as follows.
  • Combine corn starch and powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  • Spray 9” x 13” pan (bottom and sides) with non-stick spray (Pam).
  • Coat the bottom and sides of pan with the cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture. Don’t skimp on this! The more you use, the easier your marshmallows will come out of your pan! Believe me; I learned this the hard way!
  • Tap the excess out and save all cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture.
Step 5:
  • When the marshmallows are done mixing, they will be thick and white and similar to the consistency of marshmallow fluff.
  • Using a spatula or a spoon, scrape the marshmallow goo into your prepared pan. You won’t get every last little bit out so just do you best. Spraying your spoon or spatula with non-stick spray can help with this.
  • Immediately put your mixing bowl and utensils into hot soapy water!
  • With your large spoon or spatula, sprayed with non-stick spray, try to even out and smooth out your marshmallow goo as much as possible. It won’t be perfect. Don’t stress too much about it!
  • Let the pan sit out at room temperature for about 1 hour.
  • Sprinkle the top with your cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture. (Again, save what doesn’t get used!)
  • Let it sit overnight.

Step 6:
  • Pull your marshmallows out of your pan (this is where you will be happy that you didn’t skimp on non-stick spray or coating your pan with the cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture!
  • Use a pizza cutter to cut the marshmallows into squares. Or use cookie cutters to cut out cute marshmallow shapes! Remember, any scrapes left over can be cut into smaller marshmallow pieces!
  • After you have cut them into pieces, it will help to roll them in your remaining cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture so that the edges don’t stick together.
*Options:

For Chocolate Marshmallows: add in 3-4 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder when making the marshmallow goo. Also, add a spoonful or two of cocoa to your cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture as well.

Colored Marshmallows: add a few drops of food coloring in during the last few minutes of beating the marshmallow goo.

Flavored Marshmallows: you can add a few drops, maybe even a ½ t of any kind of extract to your marshmallow goo during the last few minutes of beating to give your marshmallows a different flavor. For example, peppermint, lemon (with yellow food coloring), strawberry (with red food coloring), be creative! Any color or flavor could be oh so yummy!

You could also dip these in chocolate for an extra yummy treat!


I packaged some of mine up, added a $5 Starbuck’s gift card and gave them to my daughter’s teachers for birthday gifts! (Their birthdays happen to be just a couple of days apart so this worked out well!) They loved it and one of her teachers is STILL raving about how yummy the marshmallows are! :-)

Happy Baking and Enjoy!
 
 
(Original Recipe found here, but I have modified it some!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

I’m not trying to make anyone jealous, but the weather where I live (Northern California) is amazing today! It is sunny and warm, but not at all hot. Perfect for jeans and a t-shirt! Currently my windows are open and we are enjoying this amazing weather!

But in a few days, the rain will probably return, and we will be “rained in” like we are during a lot of the winter time. I realize that snow is not dumping on us, and we are able to drive and continue life as normal unlike in other parts of the U.S., however, it still eliminates many outdoor activities like bike riding and park trips.

When the weather outside is frightful, what do you do? Do your children go stir crazy? I know mine does! So I find it helpful to have a list of indoor activities she can do so she (and I) don’t go crazy!

Here are a few GREAT ideas for you and your family to do when the weather is keeping you indoors:

Stick ‘Em Up!
  • Give your child (and you!) sticky notes and let them design on your walls! They can use the sticky notes to create various shapes, images, wall murals etc. on your walls!  They can rearrange them as much as they want too so the fun can go on for quite some time! As a bonus for you, they won’t leave a yucky residue on your walls and the clean-up is oh so easy!
Hide-n-Seek
  • Most kids love this game! As a variation, try hiding an object instead of a person hiding! This can become a challenge for older children as well depending on the size of the object you have chosen to hide!
Time Machine
  • Decorate a large box as a time machine. One person enters the time machine and comes out of the box to see everyone else acting as if they are from a predetermined time period or place. The person who has traveled in time has to guess what time period they have arrived in. (Ideas: Wild West / Cowboys, Ancient Greece, France etc.)
Chez Vous
  • Let your children decide on a restaurant theme! Have them create decorations that fit the theme. (i.e. centerpieces, napkin holders, placemats / table cloth etc.) Even let them design and create a menu with properly themed food. If possible help them make and serve some of the menu items.
Make a fort
  • I know it is so simple, but I always forget to do the simple things with my daughter. And boy does she LOVE building forts!
A Cooking Project
  • Even the youngest toddlers love a good cooking project. Find age appropriate jobs for everyone and you can have a lot of fun in the kitchen making a special lunch, dinner or yummy desert!
Come back to my blog and search for great ideas regularly! :-)

Printable Coloring Pages

Silly Indoor Game Ideas

Now, next time the weather is oh so frightful, you will have a great list of activities to keep your family busy with!

Enjoy!


This post has participated in the following fabulous link parties:




Sumo’s Sweet Stuff

The Creative Girl
Making the World Cuter
It’s so Very Cheri
The Persimmon Perch
Reinvented
Keeping it Simple
A Soft Place to Land
Today’s Creative Blog
A Silly Little Sparrow
My Frugal Family
Tip Junkie

Someday Crafts
Beyond the Picket Fence
The Shabby Chic Cottage
Somewhat Simple
Tales from Bloggeritaville
Fireflies and Jellybeans
Life as Lori
Skip to My Lou

Monday, February 15, 2010

I have AWESOME readers!

Look at these great ideas submitted by my fabulous readers!

If you have an idea you would like to share, feel free to link up at one of my link parties (next one is starting on February 18th!) or email me at simplydesigning@gmail.com


Isn’t this birthday bib from Creation Corner just adorable?!? (And her little boy is so cute too!)  I can't wait to make some of these for our little boy we are expecting soon!  I love your idea Tasha!  They are just wonderful!  Thank you so much for sharing!



Andrea, another fabulous reader, decided to make the Burp Cloths I previously featured here, but didn't have a serger (like a lot of us!)  She decided to finish off the edges using double fold bias tape!  What a great idea! 

Here is what she had to say about them:  "After finishing 4 burp cloths this evening (skipping Mardi Gras parades because I was so excited to make them), I have to say that these are indeed the easiest burp cloths to make! The double fold bias tape really gave them a polished look!!! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!"

I think these turned out fabulously!  I absolutely love them!!  Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your idea and the photos of your finished product with us!
Oh, and be sure to stop back here on February 19th when I will be hosting a GIVEAWAY with some wonderful products from the Creation Corner’s Etsy Shop! I am really excited about it!

***Remember, if you have been featured, please grab my button to place on your blog!! Thanks!***

Simply Designing




Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day


I hope you enjoyed my 10 14 Days of Valentine!  Thank you for joining me!

And now that the big day is here, I want to wish all of you a wonderful, Happy Valentine’s Day!

***Remember, if you have been featured, please grab my button to place on your blog!! Thanks!***

Simply Designing


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hodge Podge of Valentine’s Day Ideas

It’s hard not to find cute Valentine’s Day ideas all around us! Here are a few more ideas I wanted to share with you to wrap up extend my 14 Days of Valentine just one more day!



Your RED HOT! Chocolate Red Hot Bark


How yummy does this look?! I found this great idea for Red Hot Chocolate Bark at Remodelaholic! You can find the instructions (I love how she does her tutorials, all those pictures make it so easy to follow!) HERE, and, while you’re at it, check out her great blog HERE.


Valentine’s Day Letter and Number Coloring Pages FREE PRINTABLE

Looking for some activities to keep the young ones busy on Valentine’s Day? Check out these ABC and 123 FREE PRINTABLE coloring pages! I know we will be taking advantage of these free printable coloring pages on Valentine’s Day!

    


These ideas are from FABULOUS READER SUBMITTALS!!!!!!!!  Thank you so much for submitting your Valentine's Day Ideas!!!



This super cute Valentine's Day Pom-Pom Heart Wreath was submitted by AHHnna!  She has a great tutorial up HERE and a cute blog as well.  So head on over to check out her great tutorial and stay a while to check out her blog! 

Thank you so much for sharing this with us AHHnna!


Do these look familiar?  The Thrifty Ba and I must run in the in the same circle because she actually made these super cute valentine's day cards that I, later, happened to feature, without even knowing it!  Didn't they turn out so cute?

Thank you so much for sharing this with us The Thrifty Ba!

***Remember, if you have been featured, please grab my button to place on your blog!! Thanks!***

Simply Designing




Friday, February 12, 2010

Hearts on the Hearth



I have seen this heart garland idea on several blogs out there...of course I can no longer find them, and I have no idea where the original idea came from.  So, needless to say, this is not an original idea.  However, it is so SIMPLE, so EASY, so CHEAP, and so CUTE! 

Seriously.  Setting up my sewing machine was the most time consuming part of this whole project!  And since I already had this felt left over from the Valentine's Day outfit I made my daughter, the felt was "free."


You will need:
  • (3) pieces of craft felt (I had left over felt from when I made my daughter the Valentine's Day outfit)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread
Step 1:
Cut out the hearts.  I cut 3 long rows from each felt piece.  I then cut each long row into 4 pieces so I ended up with 12 rectangle pieces of felt about the same size.  I folded the felt rectangles in half, and cut out 36 hearts!  Mine were about 2.5" - 3" long. 


Step 2:
Using your sewing machine, start sewing down the middle of a heart (from middle to point).  When you near the bottom point, add the next heart and continue sewing until all your hearts are sewed together in one long row.


And voila!  You have made your very own heart felt garland!  See?!?!  I told you it was SIMPLE, EASY, CHEAP and CUTE!