Everyday Inspirations

 
 

~ day 4: home ~


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{angie}
Home-baked treats are some of the most fun to make at Christmas. Only trouble is sometimes it feels like you get more sugary sweets than you can eat! Instead, turn your homemade favorites into gifts in a jar, to be made when they feel like they could use some fresh goodies. Share some of your favorite family recipes, minus the liquids or check out the recipes on this site. There are tons of ideas with everything from cookies and pancakes to soups and breads. When you layer all the ingredients, they turn out so pretty to look at, in addition to being yummy. Just attach a cute label or card with the additional ingredients needed and cooking instructions. Here is one of my favorite cookie recipes, turned into a gift in a jar.

~ Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies {in a jar} ~

Oatmeal cranberry chocolate chip cookies
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
Using a funnel, pour ingredients into jar in order listed and secure lid. In instruction sheet include the following:

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour contents of jar into a large bowl. Add 2 eggs and 2/3 cup softened butter and mix with spatula. Scoop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Tie on a bow, custom labels and/or add your own fun embellishments like Ashley suggests in this post, and give to your friends and neighbors to enjoy this holiday season.

 

~ day 3: fashion ~


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Little sleeping princess. What a doll!
Guest blogger: Mary Cook
Today's holiday do-it-yourself project comes from Mary Cook, a stay-at-home mom in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is mama to a beautiful baby girl who is about to turn one. This feminine flower can be made into a clip, headband, or brooch. It is so darling on her little girl, but I would totally wear the same headband! A perfect gift for any girly girl young or young at heart!

You will need:
8-10 squares of fabric, more if you use only very thin fabric
1 strip of synthetic fabric cut to about 2 -2.5” wide and 36-48” long. A heavy satin works well for this. Alternately you can use a matching pre-made headband.
A 2”x12” strip of organdy, tulle or other sheer fabric
1 alligator clip
Length of ribbon to cover alligator clip
Hot glue gun and glue
Lighter. The long nozzle type made for candles is easiest to use
Long taper candle and holder (optional)
Sopping wet sponge
Needle
Matching thread
Scissors
Sequins
Beads

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Step 1: Cut square of fabric. Start with squares of fabric in varying colors and textures. Cut the fabric 1-2” larger than you would like your finished flower to be. Make sure to use a combination of natural and synthetic fabrics because they react differently to fire. I like to use silk, satin, organdy, tulle or any other fabric that catches my eye.  An inexpensive way to get different fabrics is to look for scrap bags and your local fabric store. I was able to get 2 scrap bags of bridal fabric for $1.30 each and then added my own fabric choices to these.

Step 2: Cut the squares into circles. This can be done easily by folding a square in half diagonally, then in half again, and again one more time. Hold the triangle with the tip pointing downward and cut straight across. You can also cut a rounded shape to give your circle a bit of a flower petal edge. Don’t worry about making perfect circles. You will be burning the edges which can even (or uneven) them out... and hey, flower petals aren’t perfect circles are they?
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Step 3: Burn the edges. Before you begin burning please let me remind you that you are working with fire and it is very hot! (Really? Wow! Who would have thought?) You can burn your hands or your house if you are not careful. Some fabric will melt and take a while to catch fire, but some catch fire and burn FAST! Be prepared! Do this in a well ventilated area because scorched fabric is no fun to breathe. Since it is usually too windy to do this outside and have control over what I’m doing I stand over my stove or sink where I can drop the fabric if need be and it won’t hurt anything. I also lay down a sopping wet sponge to drop my fabric on to put out the flames.

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 I use a lighter for burning edges because it is easier to control, but I use an entire lighter for one flower. You could also try using a candle to keep your cost down. Start with a piece of synthetic fabric and hold the flame to the edge of the circle. Singe the entire circle. With a bit of practice you can make the edges curl up by getting the flame close, but not touching, and letting the fabric crinkle. Don’t worry about making the edges a perfect circle, the unevenness adds to the beauty. Next try a piece of silk. The sheer stuff burns REALLY fast so I usually dampen the entire circle so I can have a little bit of control in how it burns. Make some larger and some a little smaller to help with stacking

Step 4: Stack the flower. Once the edges of all the circles are burned, arrange and stack them how you like putting larger pieces in the bottom and a small piece on the top, then sew a little “X” in the middle to hold them together.
Step 5: Add the center. Take a piece of sheer fabric or tulle. In this example I used organdy. Cut a piece about 8-12” long and ¼- ½” smaller than your smallest circle. Fold this piece in ½” folds and cut both ends off in a “V” shape.  Unfold the strip. Thread a needle and tie the ends in a knot. Stitch a seam down the middle and then pull the fabric down the thread tight towards the knot. Put the needle through the center of the flower and pull it through. Cut the needle off the thread and tie a knot tight against the fabric so that it stays scrunched up.

With needle and thread start from the back side of the flower and go through the center. Place one sequin, then one bead over the needle and pull them down the thread towards the flower. Place one more bead over the needle and go back through the bead again in the same direction to make a loop around the bead. Take the needle back through the other bead and the sequin, and then back through the flower. Work the beads and sequin down tight against the flower, pull out all slack in the thread and then tie a knot on the back. If you like you can put a drop of fabric glue on the back of the flower to help secure the thread. It’s not necessary but if you’re not that confident in your sewing skills, by all means go for it.
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Step 6: Make the headband. If you are using a pre-made headband, you can skip ahead to the final step. Take the long strip of fabric. Using the same method as before singe the edges to seal them. Try to keep the melting and burning to a minimum for this piece so the edges will maintain flexibility and not snap and break when tied around the head.

Step 7: Attach it to a clip or pin. Take the alligator clip or pin and wrap the ribbon all the way around the clip, including the inside and the space covering the spring, then cut to fit. Hot glue the ribbon to the clip. After the glue is set Sew the top piece of the clip to the bottom of the flower. Clip the flower on to your headband or you can put it directly in your hair or even on a blouse or jacket.
 

~ day 2: how to ~


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{angie}

The pup or dog lover in your life will LOVE this gift! While opening the presents and enjoying the treats the holidays bring you certainly don't want little Fido to feel left out. Why not make him/her a personalized stocking and homemade doggy biscuits? Here's how to do it yourself this holiday season.

What you need:
1 piece of felt for each color of the dog
Thread to match
Scissors
Pre-assembled stocking (can purchase a plain one or make one yourself)
Needle and pins
Optional: Ribbon for collar, rhinestones, dog tag charm, etc


Do It Yourself Dog Stocking
Step 1: Make the pattern. Look at your dog's face and break it down into basic shapes. Generally it will be an oval for the head and a heart-like shape for the muzzle. Draw half then fold your paper in half so it's symmetrical. If your dog has floppy ears (like my Daisy) pull the ears up so you can see the full shape before you draw. Add any spots or distinguishing marks. You see I add the white stripe down Daisy's nose.

Step 2: Pin the pattern to felt, cut it out, and assemble together by pinning.

Step 3: Stitch pieces together by hand or with a sewing machine. Add buttons for eyes and nose.

Step 4: Pin in place and attach to stocking. If adding a collar, attach ribbon in center, adding stitches at neck width before sewing down muzzle so it covers the collar. Tie ribbon, then sew down muzzle. Add any embellishments desired and fill with doggy treats and toys!
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Pumpkin Oatmeal Doggy Biscuits
These biscuits are loaded with vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and anti-oxidants which are good for a healthy heart and preventing cancer. After all, we want many more Christmases with our puppies.

Ingredients
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup wheat flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and form into balls or push into cookie cutter shapes. Put onto a greased pan and cook for 14-16 minutes.

 

~ day 1: small inspiration ~


DIY Christmas
{ash}

Who says you have to spend a lot of money on holiday wrapping? This idea will add personality and a special touch to your gifts without breaking the bank.

To begin, raid your house. Pull out anything you can use for wrapping: ribbons, buttons, fabric scraps, feathers, trinkets (I'm always surprised by how many great items I have leftover from past projects). You can even skip wrapping paper by using cute boxes. Recycle the ones hanging around your home or buy a few for cheap. I love colored and patterned boxes, but don't forget simple cardboard boxes. Don't you agree that there is something so chic about adding a beautiful ribbon to a simple brown cardboard box?

Next step: let your imagination be your guide while you have fun embellishing gifts. String charms or buttons onto ribbon. Turn boring yarn into a rustic knot. Combine textures and colors. The best part of this kind of wrapping is that you can take time to make each gift perfect for the recipient (for example, by adding a silver snowflake charm to a gift for a friend who loves to ski):
diy christmas wrapping
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~ special edition ~


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{angie & ash}

Once known as a day for extended relaxation, Black Friday now kicks off holiday shopping across the globe. It's easy to get caught up in the rush, stress, and cost of buying for all your loved ones. But the holidays shouldn't be about giving out of obligation -- they are about sharing love, appreciation, and joy with the people that make your life wonderful. It's doesn't matter how much money you spend but about the spirit in which you give.

Who better to inspire holiday ideas than Everyday Inspirations? We are excited to present our 12 days of do-it-yourself holiday ideas. Make gifts as expensive as you choose, as detailed as you desire, and definitely as personal as you want for your loved ones. We hope that this holiday season we can all present gifts in the true spirit of giving from the heart.
 

~ food ~


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{ash}

Happy Thanksgiving, darling EI readers! I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday with friends and family.

I just came home from a beautiful day with my parents, brother, sweetheart, and dogs. Today was filled with love and warmth -- and great food. I could write paragraphs about my adoration for every Thanksgiving dish, from the cranberries to the turkey. But this year, Dan and I were assigned the pies, so that's what I'm focusing on tonight.

We made the traditional pumpkin pie, but since everyone does that I'm not going to share that recipe (though you're welcome to it!). Tonight, I want to write about the other two. They're not pies you'll see on every Thanksgiving table, but they're delicious, easy, and -- best of all -- perfect for any time of year.

{derby pie} an atwood family tradition

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While we didn't get to have Dan's family around the table this year, his mom was sweet enough to send over the recipe for this family favorite. It's served every Thanksgiving and is so good that Dan's brother asks for it on his birthday every year. If I had to describe it, I would say it's like a chocolate chip cookie... with pecans! Can't complain about that.

By the way, yes, we made all the crusts from scratch. We used Ina's recipe for this crust. 



Ingredients
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 stick melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs, well beaten

Spread chocolate chips over the bottom of your crust. Combine the butter, eggs, flour, and sugar in a bowl, then pour the mixture over the chocolate chips. Sprinkle pecans on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let the pie cool completely (you want that filling to solidify a bit, not run all over). Enjoy!

{banana cream pie} a bunk family favorite

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I also like to call this pie the so-easy-to-make-it-can't-possibly-taste-THIS-good pie. It's just... perfect. Listening to my dad exclaim, "Delicious! Amazing! This is the best banana cream pie I've ever had!" as he reached for a second helping made our day. My dad has always been the biggest banana cream pie fan I know, so those compliments meant a lot.

Ingredients (crust)
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp sugar

Ingredients (filling)
2 large, ripe bananas
1 packet vanilla pudding, prepared (we used Jell-O)
Homemade whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream + 2 tbsp sugar; whip in chilled bowl until stiff peaks form)

Mix together crust ingredients and press into the bottom of your pie tin. I like to stick the crust in the freezer for about 5 minutes so it hardens a bit (I don't like it when I am applying the filling to a pie and the crust moves around). Pull the crust out of the freezer, then add a thin layer of pudding and a layer of bananas. Add another layer of pudding and bananas. Finish with a final layer of pudding. Put in the freezer again for 5 minutes so the pudding won't move when you apply the whipped cream. Add whipped cream over the entire top. Keep cold until ready to serve.

 

~ special announcement ~


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Can we just say again how grateful we are for each and every one of our readers? You inspire us more than we could ever say.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, and to celebrate, EI is teaming up with our friend Teri from A Foodie Stays Fit for a special holiday #mixermixer on Twitter. What could be better? Delicious (and even healthy!) holiday recipes, networking, and lots of love shared with your favorite Tweeps. And if you want to add little extra somethin' somethin' to your hot cocoa to keep you warm on a winter's night, we won't tell...

{holiday #mixermixer}
Date
: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Time: 6-8 p.m. MST (drop in at any time, take off when you need to)
Where: Twitter -- specifically by following @365inspirations and @afoodiestaysfit. Don't forget to use the hashtag #mixermixer while participating. Don't have a Twitter account? Create one for free today. Don't know how a Twitter party works? We ask the questions, you respond with your answers, see what others' have to say and get inspired from everyone's ideas. We don't want you to miss out on the fun!

Details can be found by clicking the invite on our home page or the Events tab. You can also RSVP and pre-mingle with participants by heading over to Facebook.

We can't wait to see you there!

Lots of love,
Ash & Angie
 

~ a better you ~


Thanksgiving
{angie}
Thanksgiving is that perfect time of year to reflect on the things you're grateful for. There is so much that too often I take for granted. So here is my list, however abbreviated, of the amazing things I'm thankful for this year.
  • My husband who makes me smile everyday, even when I don't feel like smiling.
  • My incredible family, both blood relatives and my awesome in-laws. I am grateful everyday to call them not only family, but friends.
  • My friends who continue to inspire me and shape me into the person I strive to be.  
  • Everyday Inspirations which pushes me to find something wonderful in each day, our fabulous readers, and the best blog partner a girl could ask for! Ash, you rock!
  • The furriest member of my family, my pup, Miss Daisy, who brightens up my day without even trying.
  • Food, photography, figure skating, art, travel and all my other passions that bring out my creativity.
  • An awesome job that challenges me in the best of ways.
  • A warm home and enough to eat, pay my bills and save for the future.
  • And last but not least, maybe it's lame, but the world of social media that has connected me with so many old and new friends, tweeps, business contacts and awesome people I never new existed!  
Have a happy, safe Thanksgiving everyone! Thank you for reading our blog!

Tell us, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
 

~ home ~


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{ash}

Even though snow isn't my favorite thing (unless I'm skiing), I absolutely love big storms that force me to stay indoors. While the state is currently getting hammered with the biggest storm in years, I'm in my cozy living room wrapped in a warm sweater. I feel very lucky that I don't have to be anywhere tonight -- that I can just be home with my sweetie, relaxing and enjoying the beauty of winter.

Quiet nights like these remind me how blessed I am to have a safe place to call my own.
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~ fashion ~


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{angie}
I think the world agrees -- Skating with the Stars tonight was, well...painful. And not because of the falls in practice. As a figure skater for 19 years and a coach for seven, I will say that unlike dancing, skating requires a set of skills that takes years to hone before you can even begin to do anything remotely entertaining. Sorry ABC, not working for me. Not that the competitors didn't do well considering how long they have skated. They just couldn't do anything exciting enough for national television.

With skating on the mind and it being that time of year when people decide to grab those skates and head to the rink, I thought I'd give you some advice on what to wear skating that's both practical and looks fabulous. No, I'm not going to tell you to wear tights and a tiny rhinestone-encrusted dress (though I certainly won't judge...I do it all the time!)

Leggings are perfect for skating because they are comfortable and stretchy -- just what you need to be able to bend your knees and try a few daring moves. Pair that with a long sweater which will keep you warm and cushion your tushy on those falls. Don't be afraid to fall. The best life lesson from skating is when you fall, you get right back up and try it again. A cute scarf is great accessory because it will keep you toasty while you warm up, but can be taken off when you're hot. Yes, believe me, when you skate hard enough you will get hot. Next you'll need some gloves both to keep your hands warm and to protect them from ice burn when you fall. Finally, wear thin dress socks, not thick ones. Thin socks will protect you from blisters better because you don't have the added layer of fabric scratching and rubbing on your skin. 

Now go get yourself to an ice rink! Keep your head up, your knees bent and don't be afraid to try something a little out of your comfort zone.