Headed towards back to the basics living.

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Last Minute Valentine’s Day Idea #3: Love Jar

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and you don’t have a lot of craft supplies? You don’t consider yourself crafty? Ah ha, this is the Homemade Valentine’s Day gift for you to do. Seriously all you need is a jar with a lid , a piece of paper cut into small strips, a pen and  your heart and you can make a jar of “Love Preserves.” I guarantee that the recipient  you make this for will really love it.  I made one for my now husband a couple of years before we married and he still has it almost 10 years later!

Get as creative as you want. I made him a new one this year and it includes reasons I think he makes a great husband and will make a great dad.   You could also  make one for your kids and how special they are to you-especially teens, they may not say much but I bet you they would read them when you weren’t around-or make a joint one from you and your kids with reasons you love your husband/their dad.


Gather your supplies: jar,paper,scissors/cutter,and pen.

Write your messages on the paper strips.

Fold and place in jar. Give it a shake.

Decorate the lid if desired and attach a note with a ribbon or string. Watch for the recipient’s face to light up when they realize what it is.



Valentine’s Day Idea #2: Bake Cookies-Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies that is!

Okay this takes a bit more planning unless you keep a stocked pantry-although many of the ingredients are fairly common I would say. And who doesn’t love a cookie? I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met someone who doesn’t like cookies. I have met a few people who don’t like chocolate-it’s beyond my ability to truly grasp the idea  but I have met them. So, if you like cookies and you like peanut butter and you like chocolate-these cookies are a no brainer! They remind me of a Reese’s Pieces cup. Yum! My aunt used to make these at Christmas when I was little. DH had never had them until I made them this Christmas. His response after the first bite: “And you’re just now making these?!?” Needless to say they didn’t last long.

For Valentine’s Day I just switched out the Hershey’s Kisses for heart-shaped Dove chocolates.  If giving as a gift, put them in a pretty tin, wrap them in craft paper with a pretty ribbon and note, or just put them on a pretty plate-honestly I doubt your recipient will care much about the packaging once they’ve tried the cookies. Hope you have a delicious time making them, just remember to leave a few for your intended recipient (;  xoxo

**Looking to make these a little healthier? Try substituting shortening for canola oil, milk chocolate for dark chocolate and whole wheat flour for all purpose.

The Goods:

  • 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar
The Grind:

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

For more nutritional info and ideas, visit the Hershey’s Kitchen, where I got this delicious recipe from.


Last Minute Valentine’s Day Idea #1

There is a buzz of excitement around our house these days-and I must say it has had me distracted to no end-thus no posts for the last few days. Finally, today, I feel like I’ve managed to recover sufficiently and rescue my brain before it backed out of the driveway along with my former life. Promise to post next week with a full explanation, but for now I wanted to share a last minute V-day idea I came up with to send to my mom. She loves pictures of her family and says she reads and re-reads cards she receives. She always has a little display of cards people have sent her from the most recent holiday/event.

I saw an idea for something like this  in a magazine a year or two ago and have wanted to make it since. I didn’t have the directions so I improvised. It’s great because it’s very portable and reads like a card but would be easy to hang for display. You could improvise the photos for drawings your kids made or with a list of things you love about the recipient-maybe you could hang it over a child’s bed for a few days? The directions follow-hope you like! If you’re looking for some other great crafty ideas then check out this idea from How does She…-so creative! Can’t wait to make one of my own! Also love this idea from Pretty Partridge. You could give as a gift but also looks nice just as a decoration in a pretty bowl-maybe you could write sweet or inspirational sayings on them for a little v-day pick me up.

Supplies I used:

  • (10)  6” x6” pieces of pretty paper
  • (7) 5”x 5” pieces  of complementary paper to be used as backgrounds for heart-shaped photos
  • (7) photos cut into a Heart Shape
  • Approximately 3 feet of ribbon/string of Choice
  • Letter Stamps/Ink Pad or Writing utensil of choice
  • Glue Stick
  • Hole Punch
  • Ruler
  • Scissors/Paper Cutter

To Make:

  1. Grab the pictures you want to use.  Create a heart-shaped template (or use a box of chocolates-yum!) and trace the shape on the pictures you’re going to use. Cut out the pictures.
  2. Pick your coordinating paper. I used three different patterns but two or even four would look great I think. Cut the background paper into 6” square pieces. Then cut the  photo border paper into 5” square pieces. If you want a place to write a message or title for your card then make sure to cut extra 6” squares. You can use leftover scraps to make title strips.
  3. Glue the photos on the 5” squares and then glue these on the 6” squares.
  4. Measure 3” down on each side of each 6” square. Mark with a pencil, then punch holes over marks. Now you’ve got your place to thread your ribbon.
  5. Lay your 6” squares in the order you want them to be read and go ahead and write/stamp your message/card title.
  6. Thread your ribbon from front to back (as seen in the photo). You want a line of ribbon running behind each 6” square. Be sure to leave a few inches of extra length ribbon  on each end for tying the card and then later as a way to hang the banner. Don’t tie the ribbon off, leave it loose.
  7. Fold the top card face down, then flip the folded piece to the left, now right and then left to create an accordion type of card. Now you can tighten up the ribbon just enough to get rid of any slack in the middle.
  8. Tie your ribbon pieces together in a pretty bow. Wah-lah! You’ve got yourself a quick& easy personal card and festive banner in one.


Eating Well: Chocolate Chip Cookies!

MMMMM….Valentine’s Day is getting closer and closer everyday. Like one of Pavlov’s trained doggies my mouth is salivating already when I think of those big heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate-y goodness. I can almost taste those soft chocolate cupcakes with the pink sugary fluff on top and those colorful festive sprinkles. But  that takes some planning, and a trip to the grocery store for supplies. Both of which I had no intention of doing at 9 o’clock at night. So I convinced myself to eat a piece of juicy fruit and call it good.

DH wasn’t buying it. Before I knew it he was in kitchen quietly pouring over our stash of cookbooks just seeing what he could come up with. I honestly think if I hadn’t gone back in the kitchen for a glass of water he probably would have had them mixed, baked and cooling on a plate before I knew what was coming. Now DH being in the kitchen was not the surprising part. He loves baking and actually is very good at it. What was surprising though, was when he asked me, “Do you think I could use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour for these cookies?”

Excuse me, what?!? Wow, I guess sometimes we do influence people even when we think we don’t  think so. After I picked my jaw up off the floor I managed a rather high pitched and curious affirmative answer. Then I pretended no further interest in his endeavor until he brought me a plate of  relatively healthy chocolate chip cookies that you see on the right.

And they we’re so delicious! Especially served with a tall glass of cold milk. I would share them with you if I could. But since I can’t, I did copy the recipe down below. It’s from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that we have had forever. I marked through the original ingredients where DH made healthier substitutions. Honestly, you could not tell the difference-except I think they may have tasted a little bit better-just more natural somehow and I’ve heard that whole wheat lends a slightly nutty taste to things. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much-I do tend to be a little nutty sometimes (=

The Goods:
1/2 c. shortening vegetable/canola

1/2 c. butter,softened

1 c. packed brown sugar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (DH used 2 c. whole wheat flour and 1/2 c. all-purpose)

1 12.oz pkg. (2 c.)  semisweet chocolate pieces

1 1/2 c. chopped nuts (I prefer walnuts because of their Omega 3 content)

The Grind:

In a large mixing bowl beat oil & butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar,granulated sugar, and baking soda.Beat until mixture is combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.  Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tsp. 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. (If you can wait that long!)