Homemade Gift Tags

 Hello Blog-land!!  I hope you're enjoying the Holiday season, kicking it off with Halloween (it all starts from there for me...), and then The Big Feast of Thanksgiving, and how we're moving on to the December festivities!!  {wahoo!!}  It's not that I don't love the Fall festivities, but December is just so much more fun for me.  I do have to say, though, that it is waaaaaaay different celebrating the Holiday Season in the Arizona desert.  It's marvelous, a dream-come-true, warm, sunny, bright, and oh so delightful.  However, it's hard to feel all festivy without some winter around me.  {don't get me wrong...I don't want anything to do with snow...}  It's just a little different, I guess.

Along with a bazillion things I'm loving on Pinterest right now, I've currently got a thing for homemade gift tags.  They can be the perfect touch to a thoughtful gift.  Plus, they're cheap, easy, and they give everything a little hand-made flair.  {and we love flair, don't we?!}  So I've been on the hunt for some fun tags, and I'm passing on my findings to you!!  {you're welcome}  

I'm going to put my tags in a little box with some twine, and when I need a random tag at a random time, I'll have a huge assortment of something darling.  LOVE it!  For someone who is never prepared (me), this kind of thing makes giddy.  Not pee giddy...just giddy.  (or P. Diddy.  whatever.)

 {a project wouldn't be complete without something to munch on.  Laughing Cow light swiss cheese wedge & rice sesame crackers.  OY it's good.}

These tags are my creation - you can download  them here.  Print on any color of cardstock. {I prefer earthy neutrals}
 These tags are here.
--All images used were purchased through Designer Digitals

Lots of tags on this page by Creature Comforts

More tags from Creature Comforts
{thanks, Creature Comforts! I love you!}

LOVING these hand-drawn tags by Hey Look

And if you have Photoshop and want to make your own, here is a tag template by Armommie.  (they also have a bunch of fun freebie downloads!)

Enjoy!!!  Love ya!!


Primary Printables...finally!

For those of you who were interested in these - I'm so sorry it's taking me so long--I've been having trouble wtih the file sharing site that I use.

Okay--so here's the deal.  The files are there, they work, but the image doesn't come up clearly on the screen.  GO AHEAD AND PRESS DOWNLOAD.  It will automatically download, go to Adobe, and you'll be able to see/print it just fine.  Enjoy!!!


All Kinds of Fun

 Even though I don't have all of the time in the world to do everything I want, I can at least look back and say I've done SOMETHING!  That's better than nothing, right?  I keep trying to tell myself that.  Here's the random stuff we've been up to:

So check this out----I totally built that little kitchen with my bare hands!  And a screwdriver. And an allen wrench.  It was intense.  I never want to do something like that again.  It was one of those projects where I say to my honey, "Hey, honey--look what we can do together!"  .....  silence  .....  so as I said before, I did it all by myself.  I might not be Mother-of-the-Year all of the time, but right now I am. 
{and what of that sweet carpet I have...??!!  Pretty rad, right?!} 

My Primary calling keeps me constantly busy.  We had a special teacher's inservice meeting and I wanted to give them a "Little Bag of Tricks" for their classrooms.  I had 2 teachers show up.  ?!?!!!??  
Most of them got my little gift anyway, but I was, indeed, a little miffed.
  Inside each file folder packet is: a beanbag with game ideas, fishing pole with magnet, a boy & girl puppet stick (for choosing helpers and such), and a quick glance lesson helper page.  

These folders stay with each class, so if we get new teachers, they don't get to keep it.  However, it's a fun little packet for those days when the kids need a little something fun to make classtime easier.
I'll make some printables for you to download if you want them.  I LOVE the beanbag games!!

More desert crusin'.  We just...can't....get.....enough....

end of summer colors.....so pretty

Never, in all of my life growing up in the desert, have I ever seen a Gila Monster in the wild.  (pronnounced hee-la)  I was an idiot and didn't have my camera settings where they needed to be, so the 800 other pictures I have of this guy are a total blur.  {doh!!!}  Man, was I ticked.  
 But the COLORS!!  So different than what we're used to, and we love it.

County Fair - lovin' the chickens.  County fairs are the best, right?!  I want a cute little chicken coop with some little ladies of my own to take care of.  They give me fresh eggs, and I give them a home with TLC.  It's a dream...but not sure if it will ever happen.  There is a 'no chicken' clause in the neighborhood where we want to build.  ?!?!  NOW what?!  I'm totally bummed.

My little tornado continues to make life so very, very interesting and chaotic.  I love her so much...and at the same time want to bash my head into a brick wall daily.  I need to remember to keep the waterproof mascara put up higher.

Chillin' in Tombstone waiting for our amazing food.  What a fun place to visit - and the drive was beautiful.  Did I mention how good it is to be home?!

And...my  heart is broken....because our adorable Sister Missionaries got transferred.  They are some of the greatest friends I've ever had - I miss them terribly and it's only been a few days!!  They even let the Primary kids dress them up during singing time and, as one could imagine, the kids thought this was hilaaaarious!  We have two amazing choristers with some great ideas.  So lucky.

Sister Chidester & Sister Farnsworth.  Two Texas beauties.
So much laughing, so many great visits.  

Oh, how I love these girls!!!
{don't forget to invite me to your weddings, ladies....I'll still be here....huddled in the corner.....mourning your absence.....}

And now...I'm sure everyone is getting ready for the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Holiday festivities that start in October and snowball for the next 3 months!  It's fun, busy, and exciting - all wrapped together. Kind of like fluffy hamsters on methamphetamines rolling around in a ball, right?!  Just bouncing, running around, all cute.   Okay, maybe that was a bad example.  Happy Holidays, though!!  Since it all starts in October, I figure it's totally acceptable to say that right now.  {plus, I wanted to say it first before anyone else.}

Is anybody going to tackle the Advent Calendar this year?!  It's not too late - GO FOR IT!!  
This is going to be my project during the Holiday insanity - think I can take this on?!  
I found it on Nana and Company - LOVE her.  And I love this garland.  I'm not willing to make felt food for my psycho toddler because she would either ruin it or discard it...which would make me sob hysterically - but I'm totally willing to make this garland as a new little Christmas decor.  Here's to hoping that I actually make it  happen!!!

Happy Times!!
Love to all of you!!


Trying to get back in the game...

My last post was in July...I think it's safe to say that I've been on a blog burn-out.  I wonder if we're all evolving from blogs - to Pinterest!  In the rare chance that someone is out there - I've missed you!!

As for our little family, we've been staying insanely busy.  I can't complain--I don't have 20 kids like the Duggers, but for me and my little brain, I've got way more than I can handle.  Busy summer, busy husband at a new job, busy kids playing, busy baby girl being mischevious, busy new calling in new ward (Primary Prez),  busy kids starting a new school, and every now and then I stop and take a break...to pee...or get a drink...or sleep at night....stuff like that.

For whatever reason, I have had this burning desire to make jam this summer.  I want to have that skill in my back pocket so I can whip out some amazing jam whenever I want.  My attempt was semi-successful - jam is not very thick, but tastes great.  And it's beautiful!!!  I won't let the kids eat it--we just look at it.

Another fun summer activity for me, I mean the kids, was this 1,000 piece puzzle of wonders.
I mean---LOOK at it.  There's stuff going on all over this puzzle, but we did it.
I'm not a huge puzzle fan - I probably participate in puzzleness maybe once every 5 years - but this one looked fun, so there you have it.  No reason - just random entertainment.

 Can you see how challenging this was?!  There should be some type of award for attempting something of this magnitude.  

Speaking of magnitude...summer vacation to Ouray, Colorado.  
Need I say more?!
Here we are decending into Telluride.   

Wonder of all wonders, we stopped to use a porta-potty (I know...disgusting...) and these flowers were sitting there so pretty and this precious little bee comes along just for me!  Happy little working bee.  Naturally I had to snap a few hundred shots of my little bee.

And now that we're here in my beloved desert home, we've been out exploring every chance we get.  

 The beauty is lost on some people...

...they don't get it...

...but to me, there is no greater place than the desert...

Everything is drenched in sunlight - every day.  
I just don't know how to handle all of this sunlight!

She was in our path...very curious about us...and so sweet.  I want one!  Cows aren't that complicated, right?  

And now that it's Saturday and we have millions of other things to do, we're going to go play in the great outdoors in our happy little jeep! {wahoo!}  Have a great weekend, all!!


I Despise Dishonest People

Why?!  Why is this world creating an environment where we all have to go into hiding in order to protect ourselves and our families?!  It is because of these dishonest people that I am contemplating deleting this entire blog, deleting everything I have online, my Facebook account, Pinterest, and so forth.

So I get this email this morning, which, I believe is a fraud situation and I did NOT click on any of the links. It said:

There is a website called Kongregate where a young child has been using the screen name "Abby_Welker" 
and 'Anoks", using your pictures and going as you. This child has been going into chat rooms spewing profanity which I feel if people were to look up her 'names', would bring up your site AND wrongfully judge you. Normally I dont care too much if people do this, but I see you as a responsible mother to 4 children, and I figure its your choice on what to do. 

I have included screen shots of the accounts, and the urls to reach them.


Ashley H.

Sure enough--she gave me 2 screen shots with MY picture and MY name--but it's not my account.  And---creepy---she knew that I have 4 children.  (if 'she' is a 'she'.  'She' is probably a creepy, pervert, dirty old man)  I know it's not a secret that I have kids, but it's still creepy.  

So rather than click on the links, I type it up myself:  and I find this profile - using my NAME and MY PICTURE.  ???!!!  (at least they think I can pass off as a 19-year-old!)

I go to send them a personal message, a scathing "get my #$%@ face and #%@% name off your %#%^@ account!!!" kind of a message, but, of course, I have to SIGN UP with them.  Scam.  

I'm being scammed on two sides and if I knew who to report this to, I would.  Don't worry--I'm definitely looking it up today and going to somehow get it taken care of.  To say that I'm upset would be an understatement.  If any of you know how to report/fix/correct this problem, I'd appreciate any info.

In the meantime....I'm probably going to remove every photo of mine from my sites.  This is just over-the-top dishonest and creepy.  



I'll share my favorite quote that I'm always telling my kids...stop me if you've heard this one...

You can pick your friends.
You can pick your nose.
Just don't pick your friend's nose.
(baaaahahaaa!!! hhaaa!!! gets me every time!!!)

They hate it when I tell them this. It's like every day.  Especially when a friend is over. They bury their face in their hands and wish to high heaven that I was a normal mom. 

Speaking of picking...
We picked peaches.  
It was hot, but delightful.  I climbed a few trees, got a few scratches, and discovered that climbing the trees was a worthless venture because the birds had pecked all of the good ones up there.

We came home with some beauties, though!!
Now I need to hurry up and do something with them.  I can't wait--the possibilities are endless.  I'm pretty sure I want to make this peach jam, as well as bottle some for cobblers and such.  

And they're so pretty. My pretty little peachy babies.

 More pickin' going on...
I also picked out some books to add to my shelf.  {gasp!!}
I haven't added to the shelf in a while, and since I'm on a roll of doing nothing, I figure I could do nothing whilst looking at pretty things to make.  

I'm madly in love with crewel and I can't wait to look at this book and discover all of the amazing projects I'm probably not going to make!!! {exciiiiiiting!}

This one makes me giddy, too.  My baby girl LOVES playing with her cooking stuff, so I might feel a little itch to do a project from this one.  Maybe.  I'm thinking I'd like to have a bunch of adorable felt food made in time for Christmas.  And, if you know me already, I better start now.  haha.

That's all of the picking going on for now.  Thank goodness.


My Multigrain Buttermilk Pancake

What the?!  How long has it been since I've been on here?!  I don't even know if anyone even looks at this dumb blog anymore!  It has been a while....I have no excuses.

Wait, yes I do.  I do have excuses.  Alone with 4 kids, no Love Nugget for 6.5 weeks, moving across the country into a much smaller house with boxes from floor-to-ceiling, trying to dig myself out.  Literally.  We had to dig.  I'm still digging.  We're okay now--thanks to a storage unit and some hard work.   Now things are pretty normal, my Boy has joined us and started his new job, and all is well.  We're basking in the sunshine, swimming at the pool, loving the sunshine, and getting together with some awesome friends!  Love it!!  Did I mention there's sunshine?  Tons of it.  Yes, it's warmish...okay maybe even a little HOT at times.....but I'll take it!  The evenings cool down and the sunsets are breathtaking.

Anyhoo.  After sampling, testing, and tasting, I think I have found my personal favorite pancake and it's time to pass on the love to you.  I don't know if you know this, but I am a bit of a pancake snob.  {gasp!}  I don't eat them often, and when I do, I expect them to be incredible.  {I know....so snobby and picky...I feel terrible.}  I also want to feel less guilty eating pancakes...so if I can throw something healthy in them, then I somehow feel justified.  Right?  I'm justified, right?  At least these have more fiber in them than a Hershey bar.  Now that's saying something.

...and now a little about my griddle.  My treasured griddle.  My sweet, small, simple, little round griddle.  Okay, it's not huge, I get that.  It can't crank out 10 pancakes at one time, which makes feeding large groups challenging, but this griddle ROCKS.  It's got flavor like nobody's business.  {where does that phrase even come from?!}  It also serves as a weapon.

...so I do two at a time, customize them how I want, and the pancakes are FULL-FLAVOR, baby.  We're talking days, weeks, months, and years of butter seasoned cast iron.

My favorite topping is pecans.  LOVE the flavor of this combo.  My kids like chocolate chips or blueberries---but not together.  eww.

And now....the recipe.  It's all in my head, too.  No running and getting a book for me.  Are you impressed?!  I can whip these out in no time!!  Too bad I never want to.  Cereal is so much easier.

Abby's Multi-Grain Buttermilk Pancakes

In a batter bowl, whisk & combine dry ingredients:

1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
3/4 c. wheat flour (I use white wheat)
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. quick oats
2 T. chia seed
2-3 T. wheat germ

In a large measuring bowl, whisk together:
2 c. buttermilk
1 c. whole milk (or whatever milk you have--canned milk is heaven, too)
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 T. oil (I just eyeball it)

With wet and dry ingredients mixed together well, pour your wet into the dry, and combine until smooth and lump-free.  If it's too thick, add a little more milk as you need.  Cook on a buttered, sesoned, cast iron griddle for the most flavor.  

Of course, you all know what you like on your pancake--but here's our top 3 favorites:

Strawberries & Homemade Whipped Cream
-put strawberries, a squeeze of lemon, and some sugar in a food processor, pulse until desired consistency.  
-heavy cream, a few scoops of sugar, and some vanilla - whip until soft peaks form.

Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Pecans with Kadie's Buttermilk Syrup --- seriously gourmet if you have the syrup done ahead of time.

And now my toddler is nude and I have no idea what kind of mess she has created.  Bye for now!  


Home, at Last!

Made it to beautiful, sunny Arizona!!  Wahoo!!  I underestimated how much I would love being back home - it's truly amazing.  I can't wait to get settled and post some pics!!  We're still waiting for our moving truck {barf} and in the meantime, I'm borrowing my mom's computer. {thanks, Mom!}  The good news is that our rental house is going to be perfect, and I've already got fresh basil and oregano planted out back!  {gasp!}  Here's to hoping they don't die.  I thought I hated watering plants in Michigan--this is going to be a challenge.

Did I mention that there is sunshine here?!  The happiness is abundant.

I'll be back with photos soon!!!  Love to all of you!!


Key Lime Coconut Bars

Key limes are tiny.  Like, walnut sized tiny.  Aren't they preshessss?!
If you take this whole batch of limes, and hopefully a really good juicer (not like the manual one I have that will give you hand cramps for a week), you can DO this!  It's beyond easy. 
Except the jucing limes part.  I never want to do that again.

It tastes as good as it looks.  Even better.
Stop licking the screen.

Original source found here

The original recipe calls for an 8 x 8 square baking pan.  Heaven knows that an 8x8 bunch-of-nothing is going to be enough for my key-lime-lovin' family.  I increased the recipe by half, so I upped the amounts and fit it into my 8 x 12 pan (or something like that - it's smaller than a 9 x 13).

However, here is the original recipe and you can do with it what you want!  

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (I just buy a container of crumbs so I don't have to bash crackers)
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. sweetened, flaked coconut
1/3 c. melted butter, melted

3 cans sweetened, condensed milk (the smaller 14 oz. cans)
1/2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. key lime juice
1 Tbsp. grated lime zest

Whipped cream and toasted coconut for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8 x 8 square baking pan with parchment paper, overlapping the paper over the sides to create handles for later.  Mix crumbs, sugar, coconut, and butter in a bowl and press into the pan; bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove and cool slightly.

While crust is cooling, make the filling.  (the FUN part!)  In a bowl, add the remaining ingredients: sweetened, condenced milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime zest.  Whisk to combine until smooth and creamy.  Pour on top of crust; bake for 8-10 minutes until firm to the touch but not browned at all.   Cool at room temperature, then chill completely.

Top with some homemade whipped cream and toasted coconut.
(to toast the coconut, line a baking sheet with parchment paper; spread a thin layer of sweetened, shredded coconut on top, and bake at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes until it's lightly golden brown)


Change is Good...

As you know, I've been giddy for some time about moving home to Arizona this summer.  The projected date was the end of June, you know, after the school year ends and my Love Nugget finishes his fellowship at the hospital.  Then we would take this amazing road trip across the country--everybody so happy, looking at the beauty of America, no fighting, and nobody gets hungry or has to use the bathroom ever, and we would have a glorious time riding into our home state with tears streaming down our faces.

{uurrrrrch!}  Slam on the brakes to my daydream....change of plans.  Our home has tentatively sold much sooner than we thought it would in this bad market. {yay, but...dang it!}  We have to get out of our house before school lets out and before my Love Nugget is done.  I can either 1.) move our junk into storage and live in an apartment with 4 kids for 1.5 months {barf}, or 2.) head west with the kids, get settled into something, and have Love Nugget join us when he's done {barf}.  Niether is perfect, but I'm opting for the latter.

SO...it's been chaotic here at my house to say the least, hence the lack of posting.  Having to keep the house spotless to perfection was agonizingly exhausting (can I get an 'amen' from you who understand this?!) and I'm glad that part is over...so now it's on to a whirlwind of packing, preparations, and moving forward.  Wahoo!

Our little family is so happy/proud/anxious to finally see the end of my hubby's training and go HOME.  This will definitely be an exciting adventure!  Stay tuned...this should be a fun ride!

And...talk about change....my baby girl is 2 years old now!!  Can you believe it?!

Oh, and although I cried a little tear about not taking a 'before' pic, I recently had nine inches of my long, blonde hair cut off.  {gasp!}  I know, I know...but it was time.  And my hair was at that 'gross-cut-it-off' stage.  I've been growing it out for about 2 years, did it...enjoyed it...now I'm done.  I LOVE fresh, new, flirty haircuts and my Hair Goddess did an amazing job.  Now I have to learn how to style it correctly.....still learning....  Change is good!