Thursday, January 25, 2018

Decorating with Living Plants

A friend came to my house for the first time several years ago, looked around, and said, "Your home is so. . . simple." I really am not much into "things," so my furnishings and accessories do tend to be pretty simple. But one of my decorating "go tos" is live plants. Both of my parents had amazingly green thumbs, so I grew up with beautiful plants--indoors and out. They are lovely to look at, bring nature inside, provide natural air filtering, and inexpensively fill spots in my house that were a bit too "simple." And many of my plants were gifts from friends, so they are daily reminders of people that I love. I know that trying to keep plants alive can seem intimidating, but if you feel that way, talk to friends, family and gardeners who might be able to give you suggestions for easy varieties to start with. My main piece of advice: don't over water.

A few suggestions for decorating with plants:

Choose plants with beautiful shapes. They become living sculptures:




Look for containers that add interesting color or texture:




Unlike many decorations, plants tend to like humidity, so consider adding them to your bathrooms:



Combine plants with photos and other items to create groupings:


 Use plants as screens. This plant is hiding (sort of) a small speaker:


Add them to work spaces to create a natural, restful environment:


It may still be winter outside, but you can always have a bit of summer inside with beautiful plants.


.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Articles of Faith Cards

Hello, January! I'm excited for 2018; I have a good feeling about this year.

As one of the children's leaders in our church, I spent a good part of December bustling to get ready for a new year in Primary. Much of this busyness was spent on froof-froof: putting up a new bulletin board, getting bookmarks and zipper pulls ready to use as birthday gifts, and printing out cute "you're assigned to give a talk" bracelets. Then there's the logistics of staffing the Sunday School classes and equipping the teachers with manuals, sub lists, and class rolls.

Wowsers, there's a lot to get done! Amidst all this hubbub, we also wanted to gift the children Articles of Faith flashcards on a ring. As part of the Faith in God program, all the kiddos are encouraged to have these basic gospel truths memorized before they turn twelve. So I was tasked with investigating our options.

There are lots of cute, free cards available already on the internet. However, I wanted a relatively small size that would print in black and white onto colored paper, and I wasn't having great success with the ones I tried. Furthermore, the cute, swirly fonts were both adorable and hard to read. I mean, we've got four-year-olds trying to sound some of these out, right? Ergo, I made my own simple cards, and I thought I would share them in case anyone else is looking for something similar.



I have two downloads available: one if you just want to print a few sets and another with 12 articles per page (in case you want to make them for your primary class.) Yes, you could also make these for an entire primary, which despite being fairly economical is also extremely time intensive. You've been warned...

Click here for one set

Click here for twelve!

Happy memorizing (after the cutting, laminating, and hole punching, that is!)




Sunday, December 17, 2017

Stamped Gingerbread Holiday Cookies

Christmas is only a week away, so maybe all your holiday baking is done and delivered. (Or maybe it has dropped down, or completely off, your "to do" list.) But if you are looking for a fun alternative to traditional cut out cookies, here is a delicious possiblitity. They would be a great family baking project between Christmas and New Years--and all the baking supplies will be on sale!

There are a lot of gingerbread cookie recipes out there. The one I used is a favorite from "Our Best Bites." 

This recipe works well for cut out cookies, but this time my goal was to use a decorative rolling pin. Next to it is a ceramic cookie stamp that can be used to create similar cookies:



I made the cookie dough and put it into the fridge for a couple of hours to chill. Getting the dough the right temperature is really the only tricky part. If it is too cold, it is difficult to roll out; if it is too warm, the stamped images are less sharp. I kept any dough that I wasn't working with in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

Roll out the dough just a little bit thicker than the recipe suggests with a standard rolling pin. Then roll over the dough with your special pin to make the designs:


Create a similar look using a cookie press like the one below just by stamping individual designs into the dough:



Using a paring knife, score through the dough to create separate cookies. Place on baking sheet:




After the cookies are baked, you can decorate them with white piping to accentuate the design or let the subtle texture speak for itself:


Merry Christmas!