Betty Crocker Wannabe has MOVED! I am now blogging solely at A Simply Klassic Home. I am still sharing printables, party ideas, and other inspiration. It's much more streamlined and clean. I hope you will stop by and say follow along there! I have lots of ideas for new printables coming this holiday season!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue Christmas

The past few Christmas's have had a bit of a learning curve for my little family. When my father and  grandmother both died following Christmas of 2007, the holidays changed for us. The first Christmas without them was the hardest, as we really just didn't know what to do. Many of the traditions we had, sort of revolved around the two of them. So, what now?

I remember opening up a box of my grandmother's Christmas decorations, and just starting to cry. Yes, right there in my garage at 10:00 at night, I stood there, tears streaming down my face, wishing I was there just helping her take down her decorations from the attic, like I had done for the past 20 years. I kept several of her ornaments, and my favorite are the ice skates she crotcheted many years ago. They are among of the first ornaments to go up every year.

After my dad died, I inherited Rodney Reindeer. It was a long standing joke between us, that it really belonged, not him. So when he died, I took it home with me (that night, in fact). It's one of the ways that I keep him with us. He sits high atop our TV armoire, and Cooper knows it's Grandpa's.

Last Christmas was a little better, as we started to make our own traditions, and to choose which traditions we would carry on. This year, I'm focusing on making new traditions and creating new memories.

The holidays seem to be the hardest when you've lost loved ones. This time of year is about family, and celebrating together, and without them, everything changed. But time does heal wounds, and the grief becomes just a little less each year. They are still missed, very much, but with each passing year, it gets easier.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Christmas Mantel

We spent this Thanksgiving weekend like we always do...decorating for Christmas!!

I have never liked my fireplace, but I am absolutely in love with how my Christmas mantel turned out this year! Everything seems to flow, and it just makes me happy looking at it!

We've recently found out that Cooper has many allergies including many trees and grasses, so didn't want to take the chance with a real tree, or having any pine branches in the house. I used faux lighted greenery, but I love the little twinkle it adds, even during daylight.

I used the winning combination of mason jar/epsom salt/candles again, and added some small gold mercury glass tealight holders on different candle holders for some height. The bronze stars all came from Michaels.

These beautiful, large (and heavy) glass ornaments came from Marshalls last year.

I have a pretty porcelain Nativity that will probably not see the light of day for several more years, since I really don't trust my three year old around it. So, we have this super cute Little People Nativity from Fisher Price.

I made this banner in Photoshop, just like the Peace on Earth banner. I was going to be offering these as printables, so as soon as I have the time to figure out how to do that, I will let you know!

So there's my mantel. I just love how it looks at night, too!

I will be sharing my tree later this week, as well as my favorite ornaments, once I'm certain it's finished, that is! AND hopefully later this week my oven will be fixed so I can start sharing my favorite cookie recipes!!!

Thanks for visiting today, and I hope you'll be back soon! Make sure to stop by Gwenny Penny all this week and next for Haul Out the Holly. Gwen will be featuring different bloggers each day, and I'm one of them!!

I'm linking my mantel up with Layla over at The Lettered Cottage, and I'm looking forward to see what others have done with their mantels as well.

Also linking up to these great parties.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Handmade Christmas Gift Idea

What do you get when you put this:

together with this:


Root Beer Reindeer!

When I saw these on Fingerprints on the Fridge, I knew I had to make them. I have been trying to come up with something clever to give to Cooper's preschool teachers, and since there is a staff of nine who all work with each class, I knew it had to be something cute and on the cheap!

Total cost for this project:
$3.60 per six pack (on sale at Ralphs)
Packs of pipe cleaner, google eyes, and pom-poms (about 100 each): $10
Total cost was a little $40 for nine six-packs, or about $4.70 per six pack. 

Less than $5  per person and I have a super adorable treat for each of the wonderful teachers to show them our appreciation. It would be a great activity for the kids too!

Linking up to some of these great parties.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Was a Dollar Store Snob

My name is Kristin, and I am a Dollar Store snob. Or I was, at least, until I started blogging.

I have found such great inspiration on so many blogs with items found at the Goodwill or purchased at the Dollar Store, that I have turned my loathing of the Dollar Tree into love. Well, "like" at least...I'm still in recovery.

***WARNING, if you are one of those people who do not believe in putting up your Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, please avert your eyes.***

I am aiming to have a simpler Christmas this year, with decorations as well as gifts. I would also like to have a little bit of Christmas in the majority of the rooms in our house. I have a very small budget this year, so I'm spreading out decor I already have or re-purposing items I have on hand.

 (looking at the photo, I should probably have taken the pictures down, but I was too lazy to go back and shoot more photos)

When I saw this sweet little tinsel tree in the Dollar Spot at Target, I knew exactly what I would do with it.

I fluffed it up, and straightened the branches. I place it in a burlap covered flower pot (stuffed some newspaper on the bottom), and covered the styrofoam with a little shredded brown crinkle paper and some silver tinsel. For the finishing touch, I tied a red gingham ribbon around the pot.

They also had tubes of ornaments for a dollar. I bought seven tubes, in various sizes and textures, and used three and a half of them here in a glass vase.

I read a post on The Inspired Room the other day about decorating with mason jars. I love mason jars, and this is something I've been wanting to do.

I filled the jars with Epsom salt and stuck a votive candle in - instant sparkle! I wanted to tie something around the jars, but haven't yet decided what that should be...ribbon, or twine, or just leave them as is...what do you think?

I created the "Peace on Earth" banner in Photoshop. I have a Joy to the World version that will be displayed on my mantle.

So there it is, a little bit of Christmas decor on the cheap.

  (He reeeeally wanted to be in a picture. He does make a great model, doesn't he?)

Cost breakdown:
Tinsel tree: $2.50 at Target
Ornaments: $1 a tube at Target
Flower pot with burlap: on hand
Ribbon: leftover from the Grandma-to-be-Party
Epsom salt: $3 for a large bag
Votives: 50 cents a piece
Banner: made by me in Photoshop

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I have an awesome, cheap, and easy gift idea coming this week. Can you guess what it is?

Today is National Adoption Day

Today also happens to be our own personal adoption day, or "Gotcha Day." It was the day I held my son in my arms for the first time. It was the first time I was called "Mom." The first time I felt there was something in this world that was bigger than me. The first time my life truly revolved around another human being. It was the first time I could say I was truly living the life I was destined to live.

I thought it fitting that I share a post I wrote a while back, about this very day, three years ago...


I've shared various parts of my adoption story; how I came to choose adoption, our finalization day and choosing the date, and some of the steps along the way. Today, I'd like to share the most precious story of our journey.

The day we met.

November, 2007

I was waiting for the phone call, the one that said my baby was ready for me.

At birth, my son had been placed with a wonderful foster mother who had taken great care of him for the first nine weeks of his life. I had already had the presentation, received photos, and waited on pins and needles while a judge decided my child's fate.

I received the call from my Social Worker on November 19, saying that we were clear, and I could finally meet my baby. The plan was for me to go and visit with him the next day, on a Tuesday evening, and come back to pick him up and take him home the following day.

Monday night was filled with much preparation and anticipation. I washed bedding, set up the nursery, and bought an infant car seat and a few outfits, including a "Baby's First Thanksgiving" outfit, since the holiday was just three days away. My purchases were still in my car when I went to visit the foster mom's house the next day.

I barely slept that night, and just plowed through work the next day, as it was really NOT where I wanted to be. I even agonized over what to wear, because, you know, first impressions and all.

The thirty minute car ride to the foster mother's house, I just kept telling myself to breathe. I was about to meet my child for the first time.

When I pulled up, I realized my Social Worker wasn't there yet, and I was 20 minutes early. My heart was racing as I walked up the pathway to the front door and rang the bell.

A child answered, and went to get her mother, who came down the hall with an infant wrapped in a soft blue and white striped blanket. Tears filled my eyes as she placed the baby in my arms. 

"Here's your baby," she said, smiling; and to my son, "Meet your Mama."

I just held him and looked at him for the next 30 minutes until the Social Workers arrived. Like I mentioned, the plan was that this would be just a visit and I would come back and pick him up the next evening. The foster mom questioned the Social worker, "Why can't she just take him home tonight?"

I don't think I took a breath for the next minute while the Social Workers pondered her suggestion.

"I guess that would be ok." That's when my mind started racing. Could I really do this alone? "Do you have a car seat?"

I told the Social Worker I had purchased the car seat, but hadn't even taken it out of the box yet. That had been on tonight's agenda! They set it all up for me while I just got to hold my baby.

I signed the paperwork, gathered up his belongings, said goodbye to the Social Workers and hugged the foster mom. We were off to start our lives together.

I remember praying in my heart as I secured him in the car, asking God for guidance, and above all thanking him for the most precious gift of my life.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drumroll, Please.....

THANK YOU to everyone who voted in my Christmas Card contest, and for all of your sweet comments! I have quite a few new followers, so welcome, and thank you for joining in on the fun. There were a few people who commented who didn't leave their email, so if you didn't receive your Noel printable, please email me at so I can send it to you.

There was a total of 43 votes, and it was a close race. (View the cards again here.)

The Christmas card with the most votes was...drumroll please...

Number 1 (by only one vote)!

Thank you from saving me of the pain of having to choose myself. And for saving Rick from the headache he was getting from me constantly asking him!

Now for the giveaway winner!!!

The winning comment (via was:

Rebecca @ Searching Out Simple who said "I'm torn between #1 & #4. But mostly I'm jealous you're sooo far ahead of me on Christmas cards! ;)"

Rebecca has a beautiful little girl and a soldier hubby and I'm so thrilled to be able to design something for them.

But because I loved all of your comments so much, and I was feeling generous, I decided to choose ANOTHER winner!

Noelle @ Because Nice Matters, who said "I follow...right over a cliff I will follow if it means I can win a Christmas card design...Please oh please pick me! Now...for YOUR Christmas card, #2 was my favorite until I saw #4. I love them both but #4 just shouts 'home for the holidays' with a fireplace and cup of hot chocolate. :)"

I'm excited because Noelle has become a friend and provides me with comic relief each and every day! Go check out her blog, you'll be glad you did!

Congratulations ladies!! Email me at coopsmommy07 (at) aol (dot) com so we can work out the details for your choice of a personalized printable or Christmas card design!!

I've been working on a couple of Christmas banner printables and a few other Christmas projects that I will be sharing soon. AND I'm getting my oven fixed!!! Woo-hoo!!! That means I'll be sharing a few of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes too.

Saturday is National Adoption Day, and it's also the anniversary of the day my son came home for good. Be sure to check back this weekend when I share that story...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup

There's nothing like a comforting bowl of soup when the weather starts to turn cool. Our weather has been pretty crazy for fall here in Southern California, but the cool nights are here.

Tonight was one of those "what do I have in the fridge?" kind of nights, so I came up with a new soup recipe, and it was delicious. I once again got "the look" when I took a picture of it, but hey, something this good, just begs to be shared!

Italian Sausage & Cheese Tortellini Soup
1 package mild Italian sausage links
1 24 oz package cheese tortellini (from Costco)
1 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp minced garlic
8 cups chicken broth
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 can water
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp basil

Heat a large skillet and add sausage links with 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, flip sausages and cook another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and slice links.

Heat soup pot and add two Tbsp olive oil. Saute onion until clear, add garlic and saute one minute. Add sausage, broth, soup, water and seasoning. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add tortellini and cook to package instructions.

Ladle into bowls, top with parmesan or mozzarella cheese and serve.

Linking to some of these parties.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Reindeer

I had a lot of ideas in my head of projects I wanted to try out this holiday season, and this is the one that has won out as my favorite so far. My Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Pumpkins were so incredibly popular, that I knew I needed to come up with some new ideas for Christmas...and probably for every season afterward! (Can you say, Chocolate Covered Peeps??? YUM!!!)

I am giddy with excitement at how cute these turned out!!!

Want to make your own?

Here's what you need:
Large Marshmallows (I prefer Jet-Puffed over the store brand)
Lollipop sticks, popsicle sticks, or pretzel sticks
Melting Chocolate (I prefer the ones you buy at the craft store for their smooth texture)
Cinnamon dots, Hot Tamales or Mike & Ike's Reds
Small Pretzels
Pearl Sprinkles (or other candies for the eyes)
Foam block 

First, set up your assembly line.

Break the pretzels in half. It was not an easy task to get them all to break properly, so make sure to have plenty on hand. You need two halves for each reindeer's antlers.

Snip just the ends of the Hot Tamales or Mike & Ike's, or count out your cinnamon dots. I used the Mike & Ike's because I'm planning to give these to Cooper's preschool class, and the cinnamon ones are a little too spicy for him.

Put the marshmallows on the stick, and push them into the foam block. This saves you from having to do that with melted chocolate on them. (Since this was only a trial run, I was working with what I had on hand. I'm going to purchase a larger block next trip to the craft store.)

I scored the tops of the marshmallows, hoping that would make it easier to attach the pretzel antlers.

Once your assembly line is set, it's time to melt your chocolate.

Place chocolate melts or chocolate chips in a microwaveable glass bowl. Microwave on high at 20-30 second intervals, stirring each time until chocolate is just melted, but not too hot.

Dip a marshmallow into the chocolate, covering it entirely. Use the backside of a spoon to smooth out the side and top, and to remove any excess. Place it back into the foam block and repeat the process on the next marshmallow.

After about five or six marshmallows, add the pretzel antlers, by gently inserting them into the scored parts of the marshmallows, and hold them for a few seconds to make sure they are secure. This took some practice!

For the nose and eyes, you can either add them when the chocolate is still wet, or finish the whole batch, then dab some melted chocolate onto each piece and attach it to the marshmallow to make the face. I did it both ways, but decided the second way was easier.

Once they are completely dry, tie a small piece of ribbon around the stick like a scarf.

These would make great treats for neighbors, teachers, classmates or as party favors.Wrap in a plastic treat bag, and relish in the oohs and ahhs as you deliver them to your friends!

I participate in these parties.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

We Have Allergies

I finally took the plunge and had allergy skin tests performed on Cooper last week. It was awful.

I had to hold my baby down while they poked him in the back with needles 22 times.

He kicked, he cried, he screamed "Please stop!" I tried really hard not to do the same. It was heart-wrenching.

Then I had to keep him from itching his back as welts started appearing almost immediately.

On a scale of one to five, he scored a four on peanuts, walnuts, eggs, shellfish, cats, dogs, dust mites and mold. He also had significant reactions to sesame and a few other things.

They made me watch a video on dust mites. I came home and, feeling like the worst mother in the world, stripped the kids' bedroom of every sheet, blanket, and curtain and washed them all, vacuuming and cleaning as best as I could. They also sent me home with inhalers, and other asthma medication, as it's presumed that he may have asthma as well.

I suppose the best thing out of all of this, is that now we know. Not having any family history as a guide, I never knew if there was a higher risk with any of the more common allergens.

We are now in a period of adjustment. This week has been completely overwhelming for me, and every little thing seems to send me into a tailspin. My body is reacting to the stress worse than it ever has. On top of all of the allergy testing, we were down to one car this week and had a huge repair bill we had to take care of, plus added stress at work and numerous other incidentals.

I guess I'm angry. I'm angry that I had to subject my son to such painful testing. I'm angry that I have no family history to fall back on. I'm angry that I never took his "dislike" or certain foods seriously. I'm angry that we are now having to change our lifestyles to accommodate all of these allergies. I'm angry that he will now be labeled as "that kid" in his class.

We went to a party today and the host had made cake pops for the kids to eat instead of having a large cake. Cooper chose one and started to eat it. After a minute he came back to me and said, "Mommy, I don't like peanut butter." His mouth started to hurt and his throat was itchy, but thankfully, a little Benadryl got him feeling better. I assumed the host knew and I hadn't even thought to ask what was in them. I'm angry at myself for that too.

Like I said, we are in a period of adjustment, but I'm faithful that God is walking beside, holding my hand and wiping my tears. The cake pop incident was a wake up call for me, and I know now that I have to be on top of my game all of the time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Free Christmas Printable, A Giveaway and a Favor


For the past few years, I have been designing our Christmas cards, and this year will be no different. Except that I have created several, and I can't choose! I do have a couple that I am leaning towards, but I still can't decide, and the man is tiring of me asking for his opinion!

That's where you come in. I need your help, my dear friends. Can you help me choose our Christmas card this year? To thank you, I will send you my latest printable for Christmas, one that I won't be offering otherwise on my blog.

My inspiration for the NOEL printable came from this:

AND thanks to the popularity of my Subway Art & Scripture printables (here and here and here), I am also giving away a free printable, personalized just for one lucky commenter! You decide what you want it to say, the style, color scheme, etc., and I will design it for you. Or if you would prefer, send me your photos and I will design a digital Christmas card to your specifications.

Here are my top four picks for our 2010 Christmas card.





(In case your wondering, I used digital scrapbooking packs from Cards were created using Photoshop).

So which is your favorite?

Just leave me a comment telling me your favorite, and I will send you a NOEL printable to say thanks! Make sure to let me know if you want gray or green, and that your email address is visible.

Personalized Printable/Christmas Card Giveaway: You can have up to three chances to win (Leave a SEPARATE comment for each):
1) Leave me a comment telling me which Christmas card is your favorite.
2) Be a follower (or subscriber) of Betty Crocker Wannabe, and tell me that you are.
3) Blog about the contest, and leave me a comment with a link.

The giveaway closes Thursday, November 18 at 8:00 am PST. The winning card and the winning commenter, will be announced here on Friday, November 19. The winner will be notified by email.

Thanks for helping me out, and good luck!

Oh, and Rick thanks you to, because if you choose, it means that he doesn't have to!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Family Pictures & An Annoucement

Family. There is no greater gift than family.

Whether you are connected by blood, marriage, or love, family is everything.

Annual family photos are a tradition for many families; ours is no different. We had family pictures taken last weekend, and I'm so pleased with how they turned out! I suppose I'm a little biased: 1) because my son is adorable, and 2) because so is the photographer.


I have been blessed with an amazing family.

I thought I would share a few of those family photos here...

in anticipation...

...for my GIVEAWAY tomorrow!

That's right, you loved my printables so much, tomorrow I will be giving one lucky follower a FREE personalized printable OR personalized digital Christmas card! Come back tomorrow for all the juicy details!

All photo credits to Rick Maxwell Photography (except for the photos of him, that credit goes to my mom - thanks mom!)

See you back here tomorrow!