Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Recap

Here is a recap of our nice relaxing Christmas weekend!

Friday night we attended the candlelight service at church. Dori was very careful about holding her candle. She looked very pretty in her favorite dress.
Dora attended church with us in her Cubs jersey. Perfect xmas attire! LOL! After we got the kids (mostly) to bed DH & I put together Dori's gifts. I always said I never wanted to stay up on xmas eve putting things together, but... Dori would not go to sleep and could hear us across the hall. She kept asking what we were doing and wanting a hug or a drink. After we were sure she was asleep I tip-toed out and put her gifts out and filled stockings.
We had intended to sleep in until 8:30, but the dog had different ideas. He started scratching at his crate at 7:30 and I got up to let him out. He ended up jumping on Dori which woke her up. She was ready to go and wanted to play with gifts. Eric & I thought we would snooze til 8:30, but even the teen woke up so we just started the day. We made our annual monkey bread the night before and it just didn't taste as good as normal. I don't think the kids minded much because they had some candy in their stockings. We divided up the gifts and the kids took turns opening. Here are some pics~
I ended up taking a little catnap on the sofa and then we headed over to my sister's house for xmas lunch. We had a YUMMY Mexican meal and stuffed ourselves SILLY!
After lunch we went out sledding on a mini hill produced by the snowplow. We've had record snowfall this month and it's been very cold, but with enough layers it wasn't too bad out on xmas. Here is part of the group on the hill~
The kids had been jumping on DH's back as he was sledding down on his belly and my sister caught this shot of my after I had jumped on DH's back. LOL!
After sledding we enjoyed some Wii Party! It was a really fun afternoon.

In the evening we celebrated with desserts at a friend's house. It was a perfect holiday with a combination of family & friends! I hope you all had a nice holiday break!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Winter Look

Christmas is over and I am so over my last design. I am no longer resisting winter, so my new design has a winter theme. You'll know when my spring fever has arrived because I'll have a new design. Til then, enjoy the ice skates.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Ramble

With a sigh of relief, I can say that life has finally slowed down for us. DH has completed his mater's degree and the kids are home on winter break. A few of us have been running fevers so we are just laying low inside. It's been super cold and snowy this winter already so we've been inside a lot. The 5 year old has always been OK if she didn't get out and get exercise, but lately she's been getting very silly & squirrely. I much prefer that over grumpy or wild! LOL!

Things have slowed down enough that I have been able to do a little sewing. I've made some doll clothes (as seen in my previous post) and some heating pads.I make heating pads with fleece and rice. I'll get a 25# or 50# bag of rice from Sams and fleece and stitch away. I use to make these and sell at our local farmer's market 6+ years ago, but now I just make them for us or for gifts. The large pink one has lines of stitching to help hold the rice in place for a back pad. I stitch in the lines first and then fill with rice. These heating pads are just awesome for cold feet or sore muscles. I cannot fall asleep without one by my feet at night. If you don't sew you can still make one. The grey one is just a soft tube sock. I filled it with rice and tied off the end. You heat these in the microwave for 1-3 mins depending on the size and power of your microwave. They will stay warm for a long time, especially if they are under a blanket. After a few months, if they don't retain heat as long you can put a cup of water in the microwave when you heat them so that moisture gets back into the rice.

Recently I've done something I've not done in YEARS! I've tucked my shirt in!! This isn't the best photo cause I tried to take it myself, but I've finally felt thin enough to tuck in!!Low-carb dieting really works for me! I've been pretty naughty over the past month with the holidays, but for the most part I've continued to cut out simple carbs. (OK...I've gone overboard with desserts!) I don't think I've put on more than a few pounds because I can tuck in my shirts! w00t!! And with all the cold and snow I have not been walking as much. Poor dog is missing lots of walks! I am already so ready for winter to be OVER!!!!!!!!!!

We don't have much on tap this week. DH works through Thursday and then is off until Jan 3. I did ALL my Christmas shopping online but I had a few things shipped to the store so I need to go pick those up and then wrap everything. I plan on wrapping each kid's gifts in their own wrapping paper this year. I might not even bother putting on tags. My kids all seem to have fairly simple tastes because they are all getting (nearly) everything on their lists. Both boys asked for an I-pod Touch...but that is NOT happening! I think they know that is a little extravagant. I did get some 2nd hand things, but they won't mind! I am wondering if I should get my daughter something else because ALL her gifts are for her new doll. Nah...she'll be fine!!

I hope all is well and everyone in your home is healthy! We are fighting something around here, but we seem to have the upper hand!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Outfit for American Girl 18" Doll Giveaway CLOSED

Yesterday in my Doll Tested - Mother Approved feature I told you about Red Thread Creations. Today I have a giveaway from Red Thread Creations for you. This adorable skirt is made with 2 fabrics. The top of the skirt is made with Autumn Confetti and the contrast trim is a red with white polka-dots. Take a look at the third photo and you will see the quality of this skirt~ all edges/seams are serged and then top stitched. Robin isn't taking any new orders right now but you can bid on some of her creations as well as other items at her Snowflakes of Love for Liliana auction site which was created to raise funds for Liliana's adoption. Added to this giveaway are red leggings and a red t-shirt with a dot applique that I created. My skills are not up to par with Robin's, so the additions are not the best quality. I used an old t-shirt to create them so there is a little bit of pilling. The outfit is still cute so I am sure that any child would love to have this for their 18" doll!!
This giveaway will run through 11:59pm CST on Sunday, December 26th. The winner will be chosen via random.org and notified on Dec 27th and will have 48 hours to contact me.
This giveaway is for the outfit only! Doll not included!


Entry Rules

  • You must do the mandatory entry
  • Leave your email address with your mandatory entry if it's not available in your profile
  • Each entry needs to be a separate comment
  • US addresses only
Mandatory Entry
  • Become a public follower of Diana Rambles via Google Friend Connect. Find this under My Followers near the top of my left sidebar. Click Follow and then confirm. You must also leave a comment to this post with your profile name to be entered.
Additional Entries
  • 1 entry for visiting Snowflakes of Love for Liliana and leaving a comment here on which item you would like to have.
  • 5 entries for bidding on a current auction item at Snowflakes of Love for Liliana. Let me know which you bid on. (Check out the auction items with doll skirts!!)
  • 1 entry for putting either the Red Thread Creations button or the Snowflakes of Love for Liliana for Liliana button graphic on your sidebar. Leave your blog address!
  • 1 entry for putting my Diana Rambles button on your sidebar. Leave your blog address!
  • 3 entries for subscribing to my Diana Rambles Feedburner. Make sure you verify the subscription.
  • 2 entry entries for each site you list this giveaway. Includes your blog, a blog that lists giveaways, or Facebook. Please leave the URL so I can verify entry.
  • 1 entry for following me via Twitter @FreeStyleMama.
  • 1 extra entry (6 daily...must be at least 2 hours apart) for posting the following on Twitter~ Enter to #win a handmade skirt for your 18" American Girl Doll #giveaway #contest ends 12/26 @FreeStyleMama http://tinyurl.com/AGSkirt1 Please leave the link to your tweet in the comment. (You get the tweet link by clicking on the '4 mins ago' time)
So that is a possibility a bunch of entries. I will publish each comment when the entry has been verified. **MAKE sure you follow the rules or the entry will be DQ'd!**

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Doll Tested - Mother Approved

As I mentioned last week I am going to start featuring clothing & accessories that we've tested out for my daughter's American Girl 18" Doll. I've come up with the name of Doll Tested - Mother Approved for this feature. I've mentioned this first feature first, but I wanted to tell you more about Red Thread Stitches. Red Thread Stitches is owned and operated by Robin M, whom I've actually met in IRL when I was visiting a friend in her town. Robin has one of the biggest hearts I've ever encountered and she pours it into all her creations. She started Red Thread Stitches to raise money for a special needs adoption from China. Her creations are so beautiful and well made that she had a wait list nearly a year long. She got caught up on that and decided to adopt another special needs child from China. So she's back to stitching like crazy right now. Unfortunately she is not taking any new orders right now, but she opened an auction site (that I designed) where she is offering many great items that she created as well as others. She has a few items to fit American Girl and other 18" dolls. These auctions include 4 Doll Skirts or Matching Set or Birthday Matching Set like the one pictured below.
Snowflakes of Love
Here are 3 great outfits that Robin created. My daughter looks adorable and is so thrilled to have her doll dressed like her.

Robin's creations are top quality and my daughter loves them so much, therefore Red Thread Stitches gets 5 stars!
Red Thread Stitches

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Freebie & some Swag

Not sure if any digital scrapbookers read my blog, but I am going to start offering some freebies that I created a few years ago when I was a digital scrapbook designer. The first freebie was used to decorate my header for Christmas. Head on over HERE to grab it!

Do you swag? Here is info about it~

If you are new to Swagbucks, here is a fast overview to help you get the most out of your Swagbucks experience.



Definition of Swagbucks

Swagbucks is an online rewards program. You can earn Swagbucks by searching the web with the Swagbucks Toolbar, entering Swagcodes from the SwagBlog, SwagFacebook, or SwagTwitter sites, and some other random activities like watching videos or entering your birthday. Once you accumulate 450 Swagbucks, you can redeem it for a $5 Amazon gift card, as well as for other gift cards from Target, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, and more. Right now I am earning an Amazon GC about once a week for doing practically nothing!

Here are the tools you’ll need to earn Swagbucks faster.



Swagbucks Toolbar

The Swagbucks Tool Bar makes it easier to accumulate Swagbucks.

First, the toolbar does not slow down your internet or make you computer go all WONKY.

Second, you will earn at least 1 Swagbuck each day by opening your browser. Also, the toolbar makes it easier to get messages from “The Swag Guy” when there are codes available.

And finally, it allows you to do searches every now and again that can earn you Swagbucks. Just this morning I typed in Cliff Lee trade into the Swagbuck search box and was awarded 8 Swagbucks.


Downloading the Toolbar

Step #1: Log in to your Swagbucks account.

Step #2: Click the Toolbars tab on the left side of the page.

Step #3: Click the big purple box that says “DOWNLOAD”.

Step #4: Choose if you want to use Swagbucks as your default browser. I don’t have it as my default browser – but know lots of people that do.

Step #5: Start searching.



Swagbucks Facebook Page

Follow Swagbucks on Facebook. Because…

  • The Swagbuck’s Facebook page often has tips from users on “search” words to use that will trigger Swagbucks.
  • Often there are codes that Facebook exclusive – and they are put in plain sight on the Facebook Wall.
  • If there is a code somewhere else, like on the Swagbucks Blog, other users will let you know.

Swagbucks on Twitter

Follow Swagbucks on Twitter. Because…

  • When a Swagcode becomes “live” you will know within a few minutes on Twitter (instead of hours later) because everyone tweets or retweets.
  • Every Thursday Swagbucks play Swagbucks Trivia on Twitter for BIG Swagbuck amounts. It’s fun, it’s easy, and you could win enough Swagbucks to pay for your Christmas.
  • You can also get extra Swagbucks when you “tweet” when you won Swagbucks through your searches.

Sign Up for Swagbucks

But you can’t earn, unless you sign up for Swagbucks. Sign up today and earn 30 Swagbucks just because you are you.

Even better, convince some of your other friends to sign up under you – and you’ll earn while they earn Swagbucks too.

Search & Win

Monday, December 13, 2010

Alaska Revisited

Remember our trip to Alaska that we left on nearly 6 months ago? Well we finally got the best of the trip photos picked out and put online. You can check out the slideshow of the pics HERE on our Alaska Trip blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reality Recap- Finales

I've not done a good job of reviewing my favorite reality shows this season. Now the Amazing Race finale airs in 1 hour and I am finally posting about it.

I've enjoyed the Amazing Race this season. I thought that I would have stronger feelings toward the teams. Overall I didn't overly love or hate any teams. I have not been a fan of Jill & Thomas or Chad & Stephanie. I will be disappointed if Jill & Thomas win tonight. I really do think that one of the girl teams will win. Kat & Nat have really flown under the radar with their edit which makes me think they don't win. But maybe Brook & Claire got a lot of airtime because they were more interesting than Kat & Nat. It does seem that some of teams that get a lot of airtime actually come in 2nd or 3rd...but my gut says that Brook & Claire win tonight. They have been making a big deal out of the first all female team to win The Amazing Race, but an all female team (Zabrina & Joe Jer) won Amazing Race Asia 1. AR Asia is a franchise of the US version, but it doesn't air in the US. We have watched all seasons of Amazing Race Asia online. Season 4 just ended this week. Amazing Race China Rush (another franchise which just traveled around China) ended about a month ago and they have signed on for another season. Not sure if any of you will read this before AR airs tonight...but AR18 is going to be another all-star season...well if you can call them all-stars. But several of the favorite teams from more recent seasons are racing including the cowboys.

Survivor~ This season has sure been all over the place. Right now it looks like Chase, Holly, & Jane have the power BUT no one wants Jane to win. So will it be Holly or Chase or someone else? There is another regular episode before the finale next Sunday. Have you been watching? What have you thought of this season?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pumpkin Fudge

Our party last night was a HUGE success. We had mostly regulars in attendance, but a few newbies showed up. The food was outstanding and I totally blew my low-carb diet. I have been on a carb hangover today, but it hasn't stopped me from snacking on the leftovers. One of the new recipes I tried this year was just OUT OF THIS WORLD good! Here is the recipe that I got off Allrecipes.

Pumpkin Fudge

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 2 1/2 cups white sugar
* 2/3 cup evaporated milk
* 1 cup white chocolate chips
* 7 ounces marshmallow creme
* 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Line a 9x9 inch pan with aluminum foil, and set aside.
2. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat milk and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
3. Mix in pumpkin puree and cinnamon; bring back to a boil. Stir in marshmallow creme and butter. Bring to a rolling boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 18 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, and add white chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until creamy and all chips are melted. Pour into prepared pan. Cool, remove from pan, and cut into squares. Store in a cool, dry place.

It's got the thick rich sugary goodness of fudge, but the flavor is all pumpkin. YUM!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Party On!

It's the 2nd Friday in December, which means our annual Christmas bash is tonight! We are very excited to host in the remodeled house! We are not done with the updates, but hopefully people will overlook the unfinished parts and enjoy the rest. Last night the teen had a girl over and they made cookies & hand-dipped them and pretzels in choc, iced & decorated sugar cookies, and helped with a few other things. That is saving me a BUNCH of time today. Maybe I won't be worn out for my party. LOL!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I ♥ My Home!!

We are nearing completion of our remodel and we are really LOVING our home! It started out as just a kitchen remodel, but it's turned into the entire upstairs. Our living room is so nice now. We got a new TV and moved our brown leather furniture upstairs. I've spent some time lately looking online at TV stands for flat screens and I think I found one that will look great in our living room. I know I've talked a lot about the remodel and haven't shown many pictures, but hopefully we will complete the project soon and I will get lots of great photos to post. I am really looking forward to lounging around over the winter break and watching shows & DVDs with the family on the new TV.

We did get our hardwood floors completed today. They are so beautiful! Eric installed the new railing at the top of the stairs this weekend and he did a great job. We had taken out the original wrought iron railing that here when we moved in and build a little half-wall thing instead, but it never looked very professional. We have now taken the half-wall out and guess what~ we have wrought iron spindles on our railing. LOL! I am going to look for some curtain rods with a wrought iron look to them too! Not sure I will have them up before our holiday party, but people will still really be wowed by our new look! I ♥ My Home!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Little American Girl

My daughter received her first 18" doll for her birthday. It's Josephina from American Girl Dolls, but her name has been changed to Mei Mei which means Little Sister. My daughter is absolutely THRILLED with her new gift. She knew she was getting a doll and was counting down the days. I agonized over which doll to get her for a long time. My daughter didn't like Ivy's (the only Asian AG doll) hair but I felt that it was important to get a doll that sort of looked like her. I actually got Josephina 2nd hand which made the decision for me.

I'm going to start blogging about her doll and the matching clothes we get for them. The first matching outfit was made by Robin at Red Thread Stitches. I've have been bartering my blog services for custom clothes with Robin for a few years now. It's a win-win situation! Her creations are unique and TOP quality. She has been sewing to raise money for their impending adoption. They hope to adopt within the next month or two, so she is not taking any new orders but you might be able to find some of her creations at her auction blog: Snowflakes of Love for Liliana. I donated one of my one-of-a-kind premade blog templates.

Anyway, the first matching set is cute cupcake skirts with matching shirts. Dori's shirt has a big 5 embroidered on the front. I made a white t-shirt for Mei Mei and appliqued a cupcake on the front. The shirt is not very neat so I won't be opening an Etsy shop anytime soon! LOL! I am in communication with several Etsy shop owners right now and I hope to be featuring their doll clothes and accessories soon. I may have some giveaways too!
If you or anyone you know makes 18" doll clothes or accessories and are interested in being featured on my blog and/or to barter for blog/graphic services please contact me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Happy Birthday!

We had a party to celebrate my daughter's birthday on Friday. We send out the following invite asking for donations instead of gifts~Dori was styling in her new outfit from Red Thread Creations. The adorable appliqued shirt was accompanied by a skirt made with mittens. Perfect for the theme of Dori's party.Dori decorated her own cake!Here is the birthday girl sitting next to the mitten tree we created. She collected 42 items (hats & mittens/gloves) for local kids in need!More about this outfit soon...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SNOW WOW!

I don't listen to the forecasters around here because they usually overestimate things. The big storm is never as big as predicted. Yesterday we got an advisory saying 1-2" of snow. They were WRONG again!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Delicious Butternut Squash

I didn't post much last week because my heart wasn't in it and now that I am willing to post, I've been super busy! Sorry!

I wanted to share an easy recipe that was a HUGE hit at Thanksgiving. In fact, several of us were scraping the dish. It's a baked butternut squash. I found it at Deliciously Thin, where I've gotten several great low-carb recipes lately.

Baked Butternut Squash
  • 1 med butternut squash (3 lb.) peeled and cubed to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T minced fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper
  • ½ c grated Parmesan cheese
Put everything except the squash in a box and mix up. Toss in the squash and stir around until sufficiently covered. Bake in a large glass dish at 400 degrees for 50 or until tender. It is SOOOO delicious! I had to bake it at a lower temp due to other things being baked that day, so I kept it in a little longer, but it was still so good!! I plan on making this OFTEN! See pics at the Deliciously Thin website!