Thrifty Finds This Week

While out and about this rainy weekend, I spied a "Garage Sale" sign in a friend's neighborhood.  We were getting a good soaking, so I wasn't entirely sure the garage sale was still happening.  I didn't know if I'd get any thrifty finds this week. As I drove up to the house, I saw they were open for business and they were so grateful I was there.  They hadn't had much traffic yet, and were just glad to see someone. "Most of the stuff is inside," they told me. "Feel free to make us offers on anything you see." Oh, I saw plenty! Turns out, it was kind of an estate by family members instead of a company.  So much better this way.  There were books, dishes, old typewriters, some furniture and other things. I zeroed in on the dishes and ended up with a few fun finds. Here are some things that came home with me:
 I spied this adorable little tureen right away. It has the look of ironstone, but no markings.  I thought it would be a great addition to my small collection of ironstone and imposters ;-)
I also picked up this set of 8 ramekins.  I have been eyeing them at places like World Market and Pier One, but have never actually made the purchase. These were marked at 50 cents each, but I think I got all 8 of them for $1.50.
Another fun find was this old book (1969) of botanical watercolors.  I'm not sure what I'll do with it just yet, but one idea is to make more pictures like my Modern Botanical Bloom Print.
These three in particular would look great painted on glass with a white paint pen.  All together, I spent $5.00 and it included a couple more really neat items that I'll be sharing soon. Did you find any treasures this weekend that were someone else's throwaways?
I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Food for the Soul ~ 1 John 4:7-10

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " 1John 4:7-10
I've been pondering this idea of God's love this week.  And, how is it that I fall so short each day of demonstrating His love to others? Do I really go the extra mile in serving others, particularly my family? Why is it that I listen to the lies and accusations of the enemy in moments of frustration when the children are clearly not "loving" each other? This verse is a great comfort and a reminder to me that I can do nothing to deserve His love, it is by His grace we are saved. His love reserves never run dry. How can I relate this back to my relationships?  First, I need to ask my Heavenly Father for more love to give, more energy to serve and grace to persevere. I need to keep going the extra mile, giving more of myself to those around me and teach my children to do the same.  For in the giving, I demonstrate sacrificial love and I receive far more than I could ever ask for...His cup of overflowing blessings. Wishing you all a peaceful Sunday and a blessed week!

Nerf War Birthday Party for Boys

Well, this time of year always has us planning for our son's birthday.  For the last couple of years we have done the same theme...Nerf War. 

It is always a hit with all ages of boys from the little ones all the way up to the adults.  I guess it's because boys don't get many opportunities to have all out Nerf wars with a big group of their buddies.
This is a really simple party to put together. We usually purchase the darts for the boys to use and have them bring their own Nerf gun. That way we are not trying to hunt down everyone's darts at the end of the battle.
 We set up barricades in the backyard to make the battle a little more challenging.
 The "barricades" are mostly large pumpkin boxes from our local Aldi grocery store, or any other large boxes that we had or could get for free.
 The boys hid behind them and climbed inside them to take little breaks or to reload their guns.
 I am a rule follower, but on things like this, I let the boys come up with a plan on how to execute their missions. (Not my area of expertise) Of course, the "big boys" were there to make sure everything stayed pretty well under control.
When round one of the battle was finished we took a break and the kids ate some pizza to get energized for the next round.  After the second round, we had the boys leave their weapons at the door and head inside to sing "Happy Birthday" and have some cake.

Most years I try to make a special birthday cake that goes with the theme of the party.  This tank was my favorite cake to make.  It was a (ahem) piece of cake to create. I used a couple of cake mixes and baked them in a 13x9 pan, a loaf pan, and made up some extra cupcakes.

I started with something sturdy to hold the cake on the bottom. Then I frosted the 13x9 cake with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. I placed the cake from the loaf pan slightly off center onto the large cake and frosted it with the same chocolate frosting. The wheels were made with Oreos with the middles removed, the tread was cut up black licorice, the turret opening was another Oreo, and the cannon was a Pirouette cookie covered in frosting. I used a green and black tinted sprays for cakes to create the camouflage look. I then added a little writing in orange frosting, some chocolate frosting around the outside of the cake, and crushed up graham crackers to resemble sand or dirt. The boys loved it.
When the boys were settled inside, I let the birthday boy light his own candles. The boy loves fire! They ate their cake and went back outside to do engage in more Nerf warfare.  We didn't have to plan any games and there was no real schedule to keep. We just let the boys play.  Overall, a successful must have been...we did it two years in a row! If you keep the goody bags to a minimum, you can do this party for really cheap. Have you had any birthday themes that were repeated year after year?

Iron and Burlap Fall Vignette

I've shared with you before that I don't do just a whole lot of switching around accessories. But, during the fall and winter seasons, I feel compelled to fluff my nest with the colors, textures and symbols of the season. You've seen my fall mantle here, when I pulled down the box of fall things.  My side table was feeling a little left out. So, when my mom was in town for a visit recently, we spruced it up with a new iron and burlap fall vignette.
If you saw my family room post, you'd notice that this space hasn't changed just a whole lot. (I'm a creature of habit.) However, the red brushy flowers in the pretty scrolly iron basket have been replaced with a floral arrangement (made by my sweet mom) comprised of a gorgeous reddish/orange sunflower, golden leaves, and berries. Even the basket got a little makeover with the burlap strip woven through the front of the basket. I love the texture it brings to the space and it complements the simple burlap candle holder I made a while back.

I added in a few pumpkins for a simple, non-fussy fall vignette. How's your Autumn decorating going?Are you finished with your fall "fluffing"?

I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Peanut Butter Choco Chip Cake ~ Post Swap by Claiming our Space

Hi Friends!
Have I got a treat for you today!  It's my first guest poster~ K of Claiming our Space! We are actually doing a post swap today so that we can meet each other's readers and share a yummy recipe. I know you'll welcome her with open arms and I hope you'll stop by and check out her fun blog too. Take it away, K!

Hi! I am K of Claiming Our Space and I am so excited to be blog post swapping with Nici here at Posed Perfection. Isn't her blog great?  She is one of my favorite new bloggers. 

D, my husband, and I are a couple of 40-somethings who are trying to turn an outdated and slightly bland 70s ranch into our forever home with paint (lots of paint), flooring (lots of flooring), thrift store finds and DIY projects so it shows our personalities.  We also are experimenting in the kitchen, getting our hands dirty in the gardening and the yard all the while trying not to fall over laughing at our silly dog, Willow.

Today I am sharing my Peanut Butter Choco Chip Cake.  Sometimes misreading a recipe turns out great. This is one of those times. 

I had a large summer squash hanging out in our CSA basket and just wasn't up for another stir-fry or roasted veggie dish.  I was craving something sweet.  That's when it hit me, on one of the Tout It Tuesday linky parties, A Little Nosh had linked up a recipe that looked like it would fit the bill.

I gathered up my ingredients and started to mix everything together when disaster struck! Or rather my apparent inability to follow a recipe while trying to read emails on my phone and put together the week's menu plan struck.  I had doubled the amount of agave nectar. Of course, I only noticed when the batter was way too soupy (even if it smelled a-freaking-mazing!)

Whoops! I would like to say that this is an unusual occurrence but, sadly, that isn't the case.  Note to self: stop trying to multi-task when baking.

Since I didn't want to waste this fabulous smelling concoction that I had mixed together, it was time to get creative.  Result? The recipe was no longer flourless.  I added more squash along with more peanut butter plus I doubled the cocoa and finally sprinkled choco chips on top. (can you have too much chocolate?)

  • 1-16 oz jar peanut butter (I used Smucker's natural peanut butter)
  • 2 cup of grated squash (I used the medium hole side of my box grater)
  • 2/3 cup of agave nectar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 Tbsp of dark cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix everything together.
  • Pour into a greased 9×9 baking pan.
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips on top
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I brought the cake to work and a number of people came back for seconds. I had to move it to our floor's little kitchenette since I was tempted to have a third piece. Yup, I ate two pieces before lunch, it was that good.

I love it when an disaster, with a little tweaking and some additional ingredients, turns out delicious!

Nici, thanks so much for letting me share my "mistake" with all your readers!

Don't forget to stop by to check out Nici's post on Claiming Our Space. I would love it if you would stay a while and maybe even become a follower!

Autumn Apple Brickle Dip

It is apple-picking season in most parts of the country. There are hints of fall everywhere...the cooler evening temperatures, the gorgeous autumn decor in every store, and the beginnings of changing leaves. This time of year is glorious, isn't it?  Well, maybe for those of you who actually have the cooler weather.  We're still in the low 90's here, but hopeful for a cold snap.
To go with all those apples you bring home from the pick-your-own orchards, here is a super easy Autumn Apple Brickle Dip.
Here's what you need:
cream cheese, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, brickle or toffee bits
Here's how you make it:
Put cream cheese, sugars and vanilla in mixer and beat just until combined.
Stir in toffee or brickle chips and mix. Put in serving bowl and chill for 1 hour before serving.
Autumn Apple Brickle Dip

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package brickle chips or toffee bits. (7.5 oz)

Beat cream cheese, sugars and vanilla. Fold in the brickle or toffee bits.  Refrigerate any leftovers. Serve with any variety of sliced apples. Enjoy!

This recipe couldn't be easier, and packs a lot of flavor. It's so good, you may just want to skip the apples altogether. Although, you know what they say..."An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Probably best not to ignore that advice ;-)

I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

My Five Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Does anyone else love going into kitchen stores? I can get lost for hours in stores like William Sonoma and Sur La Table just looking at every. single. gadget.  If I didn't have such a small, storage-challenged kitchen, I know I'd have way more gadgets than I currently do. Still, the ones I do have are near and dear to my heart, for they help me prepare goodies with ease for my sweet family on a regular basis.  My top five favorite kitchen gadgets are (in no particular order):
KitchenAid Stand Mixer. My husband gave me this mixer on our first Christmas together. I was so excited because I knew it would be a huge help in preparing yummy treats for my someday larger family. It's just the standard 300 watt version, but it's still getting the job done 13 years later. It is great for mixing up cookie or bread dough, cake batters and even meatballs.
J.A. Henkels Santoku knife.  I remember my dad always sharpening our kitchen knives right before he used them with that big stick sharpener.  It would drive me crazy, probably because I didn't appreciate the value of a good sharp knife.  I totally get it now. This is my go-to knife for most of my kitchen cutting tasks.
Pampered Chef medium scoop. I use this baby for everything from cookie dough to meatballs.  It's a great, versatile size. I would love to get the large scoop one day for muffins, but for now, I just fill up my scoop twice to fill the muffin cups.

Vidalia Chop Wizard. I did not know I needed this in my life until my cousin gave it to me a couple of years ago for Christmas.  But, let me just say, this thing is a power horse in the kitchen. I get my aggression out as I slam press down the top to cut the veggies.  Not only is this tool particularly handy in recipes like my Chipper Chicken Soup,  but also for sandwich salads.  It's also great to let the kiddos use it help in preparing meals.

Immersion Blender, how I love thee!  I use this tool all winter long, as soups are a regular part of our meal rotation.  It, too, was a gift that I didn't know I needed at the time. But, now that I've been making my own soups like my Creamy Potato, I can't imagine life without it.  Okay, that's a bit dramatic.  I really do love the immersion blender though. It makes quick work of smoothing out the soups and sauces.
See why going to kitchen stores is dangerous for me? What is your favorite kitchen gadget or tool?  Is it something I need to put on my Christmas list?
I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Creamy Potato Soup

I absolutely adore soups.  I love that you can throw everything into a big pot and you end up with something that is so warm and tasty that you feel like you've just been wrapped up in a blanket of love. That's exactly the feeling you get when you've eaten a bowl of this Creamy Potato Soup.  

When we would get sick as children, my mom would open a can of Campbell''s Potato Soup. It was comfort food to us all and we loved it.  I did this for many years into adulthood too, until I realized that potato soup is one of the easiest soups to make, especially when you use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets...the immersion blender. So, let's get to it...
Here's what you need:
potatoes, chicken broth, water, milk, salt and pepper, sour cream and shredded cheese, bacon bits, steamed broccoli and green onions as toppings
Here's how you make it:
Start by cubing your potatoes.  I love my "onion" chopper for soups. It is a great tool to let kids use to "help" you in the kitchen too. Remember when I used it for my Chipper Chicken Soup?
Put your potatoes in a large saucepan or dutch oven.
Cover with chicken broth.
Add in water and boil potatoes over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
When finished cooking, remove about 4 cups of liquid from the pot and reserve in case you want to add some back into the soup. (If I have leftovers, I will pour a little bit of the broth on the top of the soup in the storage container before I refrigerate it. This helps thin it out the next day when you heat it up.)
Use the immersion blender to make the soup smooth and creamy.  I like to leave some chunks of potato in mine. You could also transfer the soup in batches to a blender to make it creamy. Add in the milk, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until heated through. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with any or all of the toppings.  I like it with shredded cheese, steamed broccoli, and bacon bits.

Creamy Potato Soup (makes 6-8 servings)

8 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1 box (32 oz.)chicken broth
4 cups water
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. sour cream
shredded cheese
bacon bits
steamed broccoli
green onions

Cook potatoes in chicken broth/water mixture until tender (about 20 minutes). Remove about 4 cups of the liquid. Use immersion blender to cream the soup.  Add the milk, salt and pepper to taste and sour cream. If you like it a little more "soupy" add back some of the broth. Cook until heated through. Top with shredded cheese, bacon bits, green onions and/or steamed broccoli.

There are several things I love about this soup...
1. I can pronounce all of the ingredients and know exactly what they are.
2. It incorporates food I usually have on hand.
3. I believe it is relatively low in calories and fat (at least until you start adding on the toppings).
4. I get to use some of my favorite kitchen gadgets to make it.
5. It is super easy and doesn't take long to make.
6. It makes my kiddos smile...and smiling's my favorite!

I'm linking up at some of these great parties and

Food for the Soul ~ I Chron. 29:11

Fall is officially here. Can you feel the crispness in the morning air?  Can you smell the hot apple cider and the bonfires? Can you taste the sweetness of the pumpkin muffins? Can you hear the rustling of the leaves? Can you see the gorgeous array of colors in the countryside?
I Chronicles 29:11 is the perfect reminder to me from where all this beauty originates:

"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours."

I feel so blessed to know that all the beauty of the season belongs to our Heavenly Father, and He has given us the ability to enjoy these gifts of nature He displays this time of year. It truly is a feast for the senses. My cup runneth over! Wishing you a peaceful Sunday, dear friends.
Praising God from whom all blessings flow,

Standard Bi-Fold Duct Tape Wallet Picture Tutorial

Do you have any Duct Tape enthusiasts in your house?  How about any tween boys?  How about any men in your life that could use a new wallet? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to either show them this wallet or make it for them for a gift. They will love it! Here is my son's tutorial for a Standard Bi-fold Duct Tape Wallet with two credit card holders. Because I'm finding that blogging is a family affair, I was all to eager to let Mr. Duck Tape put this together for you when he asked if he could.
Here are the supplies you will need to make your wallet:
Cutting mat, craft knife, Duck Tape(this is the preferred brand by our enthusiast), scissors and a straight edge if you need it.

Start by cutting ten 8 inch strips of Duct Tape. Stick two together, sticky sides facing each other, to make a double-sided 8 inch strip.
Using the mat as your guide, adhere another strip about halfway on the double-sided strip to create a 3x8 inch sheet.Cover this with a fourth 8 inch strip.  You should now have a double-sided 3x8 inch sheet of duct tape. Repeat this process to create another 3x8 inch sheet.
Take one of the remaining strips and cut it in half lengthwise to make 2 1x8 inch strips. (These will be used to give the top of the wallet a clean edge.)Adhere 1/2 of the long side to the top of one of the sheets. Flip it over and fold the sticky side over to create that finished edge at the top of the wallet. Repeat this process again for the other 1/2 strip and double-sided 3x8 inch sheet.
Lay one sheet on top of the other, lining them up with the finished edge at the top. Use the last strip to connect the two sheets. To do this you will adhere 1/2 of the strip to the bottom of one of the sheets. Holding them together, flip over and adhere the sticky part to the other sheet. The two sides are now connected.

Next, cut two 3 inch sections of duct tape. Place 1/2 of one strip on one end and flip over to adhere the sticky side to the other side of the wallet.  Repeat with the other 3 inch strip. You have now effectively made your bi-fold wallet.
Next, we'll make the credit card holders to go inside. For this you need to cut four 3 1/2 inch strips. Stick 2 strips together with sticky sides facing. Take 3rd strip and cut in half length-wise.  Placing 1/2 on top portion of the sheet and folding it over to create the clean edge. Stick the remaining half strip to the bottom of the credit card holder. Line up the credit card holder near the top of the wallet and press the sticky strip onto the bottom.
Cut the fourth strip in half width-wise and seal up the sides of the credit card holder, both on the outside edge of the wallet and in the middle of the wallet. Repeat this process for another credit card holder on the other side, if desired. You'll want to use some sort of credit card or gift card to make sure it fits in the slots. Fold wallet in half and place a large book on it to flatten.

If you want, you can add some flair to your wallet with additional coordinating colors of duct tape. Mr. Duck Tape, here, has quite a selection of wallets he's made in recent months.  He has made bi-folds, tri-folds and ones with id holders.  Mr. Duck Tape hopes this tutorial was informative and helpful.

I'm linking up at some of these great parties and