Sunday, November 30, 2014

Made It Monday: Christmas Gift Tags

It's December 1st! The first Monday of the month and just 25 days until Christmas. I'm sure you already know that and are busy getting ready for the celebration. Today I am sharing a super easy, quick craft for Christmas!

If you have been following along you probably know I adore Julia Andrews and The Sound of Music. My mom and I watched The Sound of Music every summer when I was growing up. We would rent the movie from the public library and the songs would stick around for days. 
My Mom (with a bow?!)

It's near impossibly for me to think about Christmas without the tune "...brown paper packages tied up with strings..." popping into my head. A few years ago I wrapped all of the Christmas presents in brown packing paper and I'm thinking of doing the same thing again this year. I just love the simple look of it all! These are a few of my favorite inspiration pictures:

I love that every package is unique and different from each other. You can see the time someone took to create a nice presentation for the receiver. 

Doesn't the whole set up of these packages look magical? I really need to remember to grab red ribbons when I see them on clearance throughout the year. 

A couple of weeks ago I created a Christmas Advent Calendar for Husband. At the end of the project I had scraps of paper sitting on my table. I'm a big believer in using what I already have on hand. Wondering what to do with the paper leftovers, I dug around my scrapbook supplies and found brown cardboard paper. This instantly reminded me of my love of brown paper packages and the idea of Homemade Gift Tags for Christmas was born!

I used a stencil to trace different tag layouts. A couple of years ago I bought a fantastic tag stencil at a local craft bazaar for around 1 Euro. I was quite happy to put it to good use this year!

One side of the brown cardboard paper was covered in the leftover Christmas scrapbook paper I had piled up. I attached the Christmas paper to the brown paper with spray glue. (You can read about another spray glue gift wrapping project here) I even cut a girl and boy gingerbread cookie from a catalog for my niece and nephew!
The backs of each tag I kept brown. I think the brown backs and bright fronts will compliment packaging post paper nicely! Since the paper is thick and a bit textured, I used a red paint pen for the To: and heart. The red really pops out off the brown!

The tops of each card was hole punched and a piece of yarn thread through. I used a mix of three different red yarns with varying textures. I left the yarn ends free so they can be tied onto packaging bows later on closer to Christmas. 

This project is perfect if you are stuck inside on a snowy day or just needing something to do while you watch a Christmas movie! The whole project took about an hour. And there ya have it friends! I'm probably the only person on the planet packing homemade gift tags into their carry-on for the flight home. 

Are you already wrapping presents?

Do you pick out particular styles of wrapping or do you keep it random?

Be sure and check back to Mainly Maren tomorrow for a weekend wrap-up of the Christmas Market in Rothenberg o.b. Tauber, Germany.

Wednesday, I am featuring a special breakfast item that will definitely find it's place on my Christmas Menu this year!

Today I am linking up with:
My Pinterventures

Make Christmas Giving Beautiful,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recipe Club: Taco Soup

Just so everyone knows, I raced home today to catch the last bit of daylight for the Recipe Club photos. I may have even skipped an eyebrow wax. And if I'm being totally honest, by eyebrow, I really mean upper lip wax. That's dedication right?

Some of my friends back home are enjoying Thanksgiving Break but I'm spending all week at work. Can you believe Germany doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving? I mean come on... it's Pilgrims and Native Americans. (Don't worry, later this week my school is having a Thanksgiving pot luck dinner!)

Since it is a normal work week for us, I wanted to keep our meals as simple as possible. What could be easier than Slow Cooker Taco Soup?
I used ingredients I already had on hand. In fact, these items are staples in our pantry so I keep them in stock for recipes just like this one. 

-2 cans diced tomatos
-1 can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
-1 large can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-2 cups tomato paste
-Taco seasoning (Thanks Anat!)
-2 carrots, peeled and sliced
-1 cup of water
-Salt/Pepper to taste

First, I browned the ground beef in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. I added the taco seasoning and 2/3 cup of water then left the sauce to thicken on low. 
While the ground beef was cooking, I dumped the rest of the ingredients into the crock pot. Soooo easy... I added the ground beef when it was finished and gave everything inside the crock pot a big stir. The consistency seemed a bit thicker than I wanted so I added 1 cup of water to make it more soup like. I covered the pot and cooked it on low for 8 hours.   
One of my favorite "garnishes" is avocado! I topped off the soup with slices of avocado and tortilla chips. 
Aren't those colors beautiful all mixed together? This is the perfect soup for a Transplanted Texan missing out on all the yummy Mexican food back home. 
This spicy bowl was just the perfect amount of flavor we needed as these days are growing colder.

Today I am linking up Slow Cooker Taco Soup with Andrea's Recipe Club!

Did you see the memory-filled Christmas Advent Calendar I made for Husband?

Thankful for "Warm Soup Belly",

Friday Favorites: Random Cows

It's the last Friday in November. Where did this month go? Better yet, where did the entire year go? I am in shock that Monday is December 1st. 

I couldn't let this Friday get by without sharing some of my favorites! I'm linking up with Andrea!

Eins: Shelby Dog
I have the hardest time taking photographs of Shelby Dog. She always looks away from the camera or has a timid facial expression. Tuesday, I was snapping pictures for Recipe Club and saw Shelby sitting perfectly still. I took advantage of the situation and took as many photos as she would let me. Afterwards, I made it out to be a big deal telling Shelby what a good girl she was and gave her a treat. 

Zwei: Cow Butter Dish

This week Husband's family gave each other ideas for Christmas presents. A few weeks ago I spotted a cow butter dish in Penny's kitchen on The Big Bang Theory and thought it was awesome! I found one online and added it to my wishlist!

Drei: Cow Baby Toy

 Another cow? I'm suddenly thinking I might have a cow problem that is fairly new. I grew up on a cattle ranch in Texas but having two cows in my Friday Favorites...Weird? I bought this adorable cow baby toy at a handmade Christmas market and it is going into my "hope chest". 

Vier: G-Pa
My grandpa, aka "G-Pa" just celebrated a birthday! My parents were able to help him celebrate with an early Thanksgiving feast and I'm so bummed to have missed the event. I used to spend a lot of Friday evenings with my grandparents while growing up. My grandma always served chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and ice cream for dessert. We watched television and it usually ended up with my grandpa falling asleep (possibly snoring) on the couch but his excuse always was, "I'm resting my eyes."

Funf: Danish Christmas Plates
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Part Danish, my grandmother, mom, and aunts have collected Bing & Gr√łndahl Christmas plates over the years.

I made Slow Cooker Taco Soup this week and it turned out delicious! It was the perfect contrast to the traditional Thanksgiving foods we indulged in on Thursday. (and Friday!) The recipe is super easy which is always appreciated during the work week. 

Now I'm off to join in on some online Black Friday shopping! Top of my list are Pottery Barn and Nordstroms.

Who is out shopping on Black Friday?
Where are you shopping today?

Happy Weekend,

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Christmas Advent Calendar

The countdown to Christmas is on! Well almost... In just a few short days we will start marking the days leading up to the 25th. In our family, we acknowledge each day with a Christmas advent calendar. 
Advent calendars are everywhere in Germany this time of year. You can buy them pre-made filled with chocolates, candy, bath goods, Legos, and the list goes on... or you can make one from scratch. 
Last year I made my very first advent calendar for Husband. It was such a fun project that I wanted to make another one again this year!
This time I decided I did not want to buy material gift items but instead focus on our memories. 2014 was a fun-filled, adventurous year full of moments that money just can't buy. I wanted to create an advent calendar that looked at the highlights and special times from the past year. 
Each day is marked with a photograph and a card. Every card shares what made that particular moment so special. Some of them are funny... like the time we paid scammers to watch our car in Pisa. (I'm still surprised my iPod was left untouched out on the front seat) Other memories are when we celebrated my 30th birthday on top of Switzerland or took a peaceful morning stroll on Utah Beach.  
The cards are hung using yarn from my scrap stash. Each card is held onto the yarn using clothespins pulled off my clothesline. The entire collection of cards currently hangs in our entryway. I realized last year that walking out the door in the morning is the perfect time to unveil that day's number during the countdown. Isn't that a fun way to start the each day?
Every card is completely different. The cards are made out of different paper weights. Some of the cards are from Mini Wheat cereal boxes, others are from a pizza box, and the rest are standard cardstock. 
I used around 8 sheets of scrapbook paper and very little went to waste. A strip of paper cut off of one card was later used on another. All of the paper was attached using spray glue. Have I mentioned how much I love spray glue? It's amazing.  
Every memory is written on index cards I pulled out of my desk drawer. I wrote every number using paint markers and no two numbers are exactly alike. The index cards are tucked into pockets that I created by only spraying 3 sides of the paper backing. The side without glue is now used as the pocket where the index card tucks inside. 
To create this entire project I only spent 6 Euros on the photo printing! Everything else I used I already had on hand. The cards are double hole punched so they can be put together as an album. I hope we enjoy looking back on these wonderful memories from 2014 for many years to come! 

P.S. Did you notice the numbers go up to 30? I couldn't narrow the photographs down to our advent calendar technically is a countdown to 2015!

Here is a look at last year's 2013 advent calendar in case you missed it! This advent calendar only went up to #17 because it was a countdown to our flight home. 

Is your family counting down the days to Christmas with an Advent Calendar?

How do you get ready for the 25th? 

It is not too late to create your own advent calendar for 2014. There are still 6 days left until December 1st!

Did you catch yesterday's Shabby Chic Deer Head craft idea? 

Make Life Beautiful,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shabby Chic Deer Head using Mod Podge

Hello World! Before we get started, can I just say how much I love all the family photos I am seeing on my Facebook feed? It is Thanksgiving Break which means plenty of time for cousins, friends, and pie! I told Husband yesterday that pumpkin has one more week before we switch to gingerbread and peppermint. 

Since this is what I consider the last week of fall, I thought I would kick it off with a shabby chic fall craft and leave the Christmas ideas for next week!
Who has a husband that is a hunter? Do you find yourself with "girl time" during hunting season? 

My husband is not a hunter but rather a football fanatic. My sister in law tells me I am lucky that football has a season because video game season last all year long! Not matter if he is a hunter, football enthusiast, or a gamer this shabby chic deer head is all girl!
-Raw MDf craft wood deer head 
-Mod Podge
-Scrapbook paper
-Vintage wrapping paper (optional)

Ugh, please excuse my poor photo lighting. The days are just too short right now for great blogging photos! Anyways, this is a collection of vintage scrapbook paper I picked up at my local flea market. I snagged this whole lot for just 2 Euros!
I paired my favorite piece of vintage wrapping paper with two coordinating sheets of scrapbook paper. The deer head is going to hang in my "office space" so I wanted to use a mix of green apple and various blues.
I looked at the different combination options for the MDf wood pieces and paper. I decided the vertical stripes would make a great background, the vintage floral wrapping paper would be the perfect head, and I used green polka dot paper for the antlers. 
Again, please excuse the horrible photograph! I laid each piece on the designated scrapbook paper and traced using a pencil. Then I cut out the pieces and attached the paper to the wood using Mod Podge.
I painted the edges turquoise and let a tiny bit of the paint trim the paper borders. Since we all need a little glitter in our lives, I spread a layer of Mod Podge over the top of the antlers and sprinkled with green glitter. 
The glitter was a nice touch but I felt like the deer head still need a bit of flair. I added three paper scrapbook flowers to the right side of the antlers. These flowers had sat in my sticker collection for years so I am glad they finally got put to good use!
Not your typical deer head right? I'm not much of a hunter (unless it's shopping) but I love this shabby chic deer head!
I found the MDf deer head kit over a year ago sitting in the clearance section of my local craft store. Unfortunately, I searched online and can not find the exact deer head kit but I did find some similar options.

This birdcage is so unique! I think I would paint the inside and use scrapbook paper on the top and bottom. It would look cute as a bracelet holder if you added some hooks. 
Just in time for the holidays! Wouldn't this tree look so special with copies of family recipes Mod Podged in the different sections? I think I would display it in my kitchen next to a jar of antique cookie cutters and a photograph of my grandmother baking. 
Twenty-five boxes ready to be decorated and filled with goodies. This would be the perfect advent calendar to help you count down the days to Christmas! 

Be sure and check back tomorrow when I share this year's advent calendar! There is still one week before the countdown officially begins on December 1st. 
Is your husband a hunter, sport fanatic, or gamer? 
Do you have deer head hanging in your house?

Thank you guys for stopping by! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving week!

Linking up with fellow crafters at:

My Pinterventures

Happy Monday,