Completely Free Cork Board Map Craft

I am not one to let something perfectly good be thrown out. That is why when I saw a friend put a perfectly usable cork board by the trash, I snagged it! It was big, had a silver metal frame, a little bit of writing on it, and some left over stickers… but it was in great shape. I’d had in my mind, for some time, to make a map of the United States and use pins to locate where all my family members and dearest friends live!! There really is no “before” picture because there really isn’t much to this craft! You snag (or purchase, I suppose) a bulletin board/cork board and follow the steps! 1. Once I peeled off the stickers and removed the push pins, I painted the cork portion a simple white color. The white covered up the writing in one coat! I already had the white paint, and I didn’t want to spend any money. : ) 2. After the paint dried, I stuck the bulletin board in my car and took it to school with me. Then, during my lunch break, when I needed to do something creative, I put a simple map of the US up on my white board using my projector! I positioned the cork board so the map was centered, grabbed a sharpie and traced it! It was so simple and didn’t take much time! I wanted to include Alaska and Hawaii so I found a separate map that included our outlying states and added them to the bottom left of the map. You could also just trace a paper copy of a map if you don’t have access to a projector! 3. The now fully mapped bulletin…

Christmas Musings and Holiday Reflections 2016

I truly love this time of year. People are forced to cuddle indoors by the weather and families and friends are brought together by holiday time off from work or saved up sick days and REALLY good food! My family is also brought together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But as we live all over the place, that means a lot of driving. Lots and lots of driving. As a kid we tried to go see family in Nebraska and Texas every year! As we’ve grown up and especially now that my sister and I are adults, we made the decision to travel every other year. However, this time last year, our year to travel, I was pretty much bedridden for most of the time. We weren’t able to take our scheduled trip to the heartland to see our family because my body was in such bad shape and no one could tell us why! There were some very scary potential diagnoses being thrown around, but through divine intervention and the kindness of my friend Dana, I made it to a doctor who put me on the right track. I was finally diagnosed with SLE, otherwise simply known as Lupus. I am not quite out of the woods yet as there are still weeks and months I am quite ill, but comparatively speaking – I am SO much better than I was!! Some of the medicine has side effects that leave me feeling a bit self-conscious, but I suppose that is better than feeling terrible, right?! Because I am doing so much better, this year we were able to make the trek from the north central part of the country down to Nebraska to see my dad’s side of the family. The…

Easy Christmas Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites

Is there anything more Christmas-y tasting than gingerbread?! I love it. I am partial to gingerbread when it is softer and less crunchy. That’s why when I came across this recipe for these amazing Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites, I was sold! I found the recipe through le Pinterest on a blog called Created by Diane. You can find the link here! Her recipe is super easy to follow. Unfortunately, I had to make one change because the dough she calls for us to use isn’t sold in any store around me! Diane’s recipe is as follows: Pillsbury gingerbread dough found in the refrigerated section 2 cups powdered sugar 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla Now, I scoured my local groceries for the Pillsbury dough, or ANY pre-made gingerbread dough and was really struggling… then I finally found Nestle Toll House “Rolled and Ready Gingerbread Cookie Dough Sheets” What I did was break the pre-rolled sheets and roll them into balls the right size to fit my mini-cupcake baking pan. That is something else you need: A mini cupcake/muffin pan. They won’t really be “bites” if you use a normal sized cupcake/muffin pan. There are also super cute liners for these mini pans. I wonder how many times I can use the word pan in a short paragraph… pan, pan, pan : ) Place the rolled balls in the liners in the pan and use whatever you have lying around to make the indentation. Your thumb, the end of an apple slicer (<- that’s what I used), the end of a rolling-pin…. whatever floats your boat. Then you mix the powdered sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla…

Easy Christmas Chocolate Truffles

Every year, the English Department has a tradition on the twelve days leading up to Christmas break, a teacher signs up for a day and brings in something scrumptious to lunch! It can be something sweet or savory… and let me tell you, we are very happy at lunch time for those last twelve days! When it is my day, I choose to go… a little crazy. I make all sorts of sweet goodies. One such goody is a chocolate truffle. The recipe is so easy that you might roll your eyes! But they turn out delicious and they are very versatile. To make the chocolate truffle center: 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 1 cup heavy cream What I do is heat up the heavy cream to near boiling and pour it over the chocolate chips and then stir it up until the lovely chocolate ganache forms. Once it is smooth and you see no chippy chunks, pop that deliciousness into the fridge overnight. Seriously… that is it. Now – this is where you get to have some fun and individualize your truffles!! THE COATINGS! I mix it up year by year. I have a couple of standbys -> pretzels and M&M’s. Sometimes I choose almonds or walnuts, sometimes Butterfingers, sometimes candy canes, you can do whatever tickles your taste buds. This year, I chose my old standbys, almonds, and cocoa powder. Once you’ve chosen your coatings, put them in ziploc baggies and grab something to crush them with. You want them to be small enough to easily cover the small truffle. I have an amazing multi-tool hammer given to me by my mom years ago when I went to college. It has variously sized screw drivers in the…

DIY

DIY Wooden Dog Crate End Tables

Dogs are a large part of what makes life happy. However, the plastic crates, or beds as my family calls them, aren’t so happy. Or pretty. Or functional… I found some amazing plans through le Pinterest at Ana White’s blog. You can find the exact same plans, here! I used the plans to make one kennel, because after measuring and seeing the photo on her blog of two good-sized dogs in the finished product, I thought June would fit! Boy… was I wrong, take a look for yourself: Both HILARIOUS and a tad bit sad. Look at her giant sad face… So, I finished the crate anyway and sold it. Then, my best friends from college bought an amazing house and were talking about purchasing dog crate end tables for their bedroom! However, after research, finished versions from a store can cost upwards of $400 a piece!! So, my housewarming gift to these sweet people was to make two of them! Again, I followed the plans from Ana White’s blog to the letter! So, visit the link found above if you want to make your own. The directions are extremely easy to follow! I used basic white wood from Lowe’s, used two Aspen “craft panels” for the tops, basic L-brackets, basic black hinges, and a basic black sliding lock. I had the black paint, the clear coat, and the pocket hole screws. All-in-all, for two crates, the cost was $170 for BOTH crates!! MUCH better than around $800, right?! Now, I have a tiny Honda… sometimes that means that transporting lumber for my projects can get… crowded! That is why I am so grateful for my local Lowe’s. I…