Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Tuesday Giveaway Winner and More

Hey everyone!
Here we are on the first day of May!
Holy cow how did that happen?
Well first things first:
The giveaway winner of the cookbook is
entry #19
(for some reason wouldn't let me copy and paste the page here but this is 
the number picked by

I will be emailing entry #19 soon so I can get your mailing address and ship your cookbook right out :)

Thanks so much for your entries. 
I have another really cool giveaway coming up. So don't unsubscribe ;)

OK, now onto my first week follow up to my vegan diet. 
I lost 2 lbs!!!!
Remember, this is without me doing any kind of exercise.
I do it this way because I have found that starting off with exercise makes me REALLY hungry and then I start to eat a lot, making me gain weight, then I get all depressed, and p.o.'ed LOL thus causing me to throw up my arms in desperation and wanting to give up.
So that is why I do it this way. 
Once I hit 10 lbs of weight loss I add in pilates and walking.
I will be posting a really yummy, vegetable, Mexican casserole my hubby makes especially for me tomorrow.
So be sure to come back and check that out.
 I also have a ton of projects in the works and I can't wait to finish them.
Aaaannnd I finally bit the bullet and turned in my resignation and will be retiring early as of June 1st.
This will give me time to home school my little guy AND devote more time to blogging and my photography business.
I'll have to tell you more about my decision in another post.
But let's just say I based it purely on faith :)

That's the best way isn't it?
Any who, here's to a great week!


If you want to take a look at some of my photos check out my photography blog here. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dollar Store Craft-Make A Pretty Cupcake Plate

Happy Wednesday to all!!
We're almost to the weekend and I am here today to share a really simple and cheap way to pretty up your cupcake and party presentation!
 Here's what you'll need:

2 dollar store plates
2 dollar store small glass candle sticks
Cricut electronic cutter
Storybook Cartridge
 Loctite Superglue (All Glass)

First gather your plate and candlestick and make sure they are clean and dry. Lay your plate bottom side up on a sturdy surface.
You will take your Loctite glue and squeeze some out onto the top of the candlestick.
Turn the candlestick over and carefully center it onto the back of the plate.
Hold for a few minutes to set it onto the plate.
Carefully turn the plate and candlestick over while holding onto both and place a book or other object on plate to further set it in place.
Do the same for your other plate(s).
When your plates are all done, you can continue on to cut your vinyl.
I set my Cricut cutter on blade pressure low,
medium speed.
I cut my owl shape using my Gypsy at 4.25 inches and my
letter P at 4.75 inches.
Measure you plate and see what size you want your shape to be.
If you don't have a Cricut, you can always buy a pre-cut vinyl shape at any craft store
use your favorite stencil and use
glass enamel paint found at the craft store.
After cutting my shape I put it on my plates and voila!
Instant cuteness! 

 You can even stack two of them together with your loctite and serve cupcakes if you hand paint the edges :)

The possibilities are endless and oh-so-inexpensive
You can also use these cute plates on top of a dresser to set keys and jewelry on.
Put them in the bathroom vanity and set your pretty soaps on them.
And in a guest bedroom with a pretty saying on them.
I hope you enjoyed this very simple and inexpensive tutorial.
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Don't forget to enter my Pioneer Woman Cookbook giveaway going on now here. 


linking up to:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Starting Over, Going Vegan and One Year Anniversary

Was that title long enough for ya?
Yep it was exactly one year ago today that I suffered my brain hemorrhage. 
I spent two days in the ICU then was moved to the Neuro floor for another 8. 
I spent Easter in the hospital.
Looking back now, I am extremely blessed at how the entire event unfolded.
I collapsed at home, feeling paralyzed in almost an instant from my neck down and unable to speak, but the actual bursting of the blood vessels didn't occur until the next morning in the hospital, on Good Friday.
They were about to let me go since they didn't see any blood.
But one of the doctors said, "Let's do one more CT scan before you go."
And bam! There it was.
If I had come home I would have died later on that week.
It was scary but at the same time it changed me.
I'll have to go over those changes in another post, because they are faaaaar too long to post here.
But needless to say, I am still here and loving my life and family.

The starting over part kinda goes along with the one year anniversary of the SAH (subarachnoid hemorrhage).
I've been on so many meds to control my headaches and other things that were residual effects of the stroke and now I am finally off them!!
I'm still on one medication but I was on it before this happened so it doesn't count ;)
The bad part about it? 
I have gained 10 pounds in two weeks!
I have NEVER in my life gained so much in so little time.
Well, except, when I was pregnant.
But I am not pregnant so I can't blame the kid living inside me :)
So anywho, I feel extremely bloated and not happy with the way my clothes have been fitting (tight).
And a year before my stroke, I lost a lot of weight,well about 13 pounds, and to my small frame that IS A LOT of weight, by going vegan.
I did the vegan thing for about 3 months and I felt stupendous!
But then I slowly started eating meats again, and it all went downhill from there.
So here I am two years later and I am going vegan again.
I am also severely limiting my calories to lose weight for about a month then I'll incorporate walking and working out to tone up.
I've done this before, and because of my very slow (read:  old) metabolism I only consume 960 calories a day.
I know, I know, it's not that much,but again, I am smallish
and I've done this before and as long as I don't work out
I am just fine.
I don't recommend you go out and do this too, but this works for me.
I'll keep you posted of my weight loss and post some pics.
Here are some pics that I took when I was vegan:

 {wearing size 2 pants}

And now :(


{notice the roundness of my face and blotchy skin}
wearing size 6-8 pants {remember I'm short!}
By going vegan I will eliminate dairy and my skin will clear up. I found this out by accident last time I went vegan, because once I drank milk, my face started to tingle and I puffed up. You can see those lovely pics here.
 I am hoping to lose 2 -3 lbs per week and next month I should be a size 6!!
I'll post my progress and some vegan menu items as I go along too!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to enter my Pioneer Woman Cookbook giveaway here.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting Ready for Camp - Camp Huawni

I love summer trips.
Yesterday I talked a bit about our trip to Austin and the simple and fun things we got to do.
And last night I got to thinking that the most fun I've had is 
when I am just doing simple things. 
Not having to spend lots of money on outings, just kinda hanging out with friends.
Either at a cookout, neighborhood block party, 
or watching the kids run around.
That last one is a bit hard to do, running around.
What with living in a suburb and all the crazies out there, parents are usually paranoid (and rightfully so)to let their kids run around outside playing like we used to do.
 This is why, when the opportunity to send my child away to camp for the summer, I considered it. 
I have to admit that I was a bit nervous at first to send my soon to be 10 y.o. son away for two weeks!
I've never sent him away before.
But the more I talked about it with other parents and people in general that had gone to summer camps as children, the more I got more relaxed about the idea.
So off to Camp Huawni he goes! June anyway!
In the meantime we are getting ready by mapping out our trip on the web, showing him some videos on
so he can get more familiar with the camp.
It looks like lots of fun and we can't wait to go see it in person!
East Texas is beautiful so the drive there will be very nice.

Do you send your kids to camp?
Is it a local camp or a going away camp?

I'd love to hear your stories.


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Camp Huawni and although I wasn't paid for this I may have received products. In any case, all opinions are mine and in no way did that influence me to make this decision.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Random Ramblings And A Cookbook Giveaway

Since my trip out to Austin with the hubs has come to 
an end, I find myself planning summer vacations, quick weekend getaways, anniversary parties and summer birthdays for a certain soon-to-be 10 year old.
I know that planning and dreaming up places to visit is fun.
I know a couple of people (maybe more) who actually go on travel websites and look at luxury resorts, researching fun things to do while at the fantasy vacation and 
dreaming that someday that will all come true.
Isn't that fun? 
I have to admit I've done it too ;)
After all, who doesn't want to traipse along white sandy beaches of Grenada, 

Go snorkeling in the coral reefs of Belize

{image: source}

Go brocante shopping in the French Countryside

 {image source: Northern Light}
or riding  a motor scooter through

{image source:}
Like this one?
I know I do.
  {image source}
In the meantime I am happy to take pictures of 
cacti and their pretty flowers

happy to take a quick snapshot of my hubby enticing a friendly squirrel to come to him

and wandering around our State Capitol dreaming about
how life must have been in the late 1800's when this building was still fairly new.

{It's awesome rotunda!}

In any case, as far as going away...
It's always good to come back home!


Since I am feeling extra generous today, I decided to give away an awesome cookbook!!!
I love me a good cookbook and who better to teach us some awesome recipes than the fabulous Pioneer Woman herself right?
Filled with awesome photographs and step by step directions, this is one cookbook you'll have to add to your kitchen!
A $29.99 value, you can win this right here!


How to enter:
Become a follower of this blog either via email subscription, Google Follower or Linky follower over there>>>>>>

Get another entry by visiting me on facebook and liking my page  >>>>

Following me on pinterest>>>>

Following my photography blog and facebook page
McKinney Photography 

Don't forget to come back here and leave a comment
for every one of these "feats" that you have done ;)
 Giveaway ends on : April 30th at 10 p.m. CDT

Good luck !!

Disclaimers: I was not paid for this giveaway or for mentioning this book. I bought this book myself and am giving it away as a reward to my loyal readers.
Giveaway open only to residents of the continental United States.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Monday and Tutu Winner Announced!

Well happy Monday my sweet peeps!
I am having a blast visiting the mighty Longhorns city of Austin, Texas!
Yeehaw! ;)
I am attending a conference here and brought the hubs along and let me tell
ya it is the BEST to get away together and have fun.
Well I know you are dying to know who won the awesome
Tutu and headband giveaway from Melany's Boutique, right?
I plugged in the 16 entries and this is what it came up with :
True Random Number Generator 12 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Entry 12 won!!
Michelle J. you are the winner :)
Please contact me via email with your mailing address and
Melany will contact you so you can pick your tutu and headbands and
hair clip :)

I will be back tomorrow to reveal a REALLY exciting blog promotion I am participating in
that will be awarding hundreds of prizes !!!
Don't miss it and subscribe via email on that side>>>>

Have a great Tuesday everyone


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Transformation Tuesday {Pretty Up The Front Porch}

After all the storms and tornadoes passed, it turned out to be a pretty nice weekend.
Friday I was off from work due to Good Friday and me and the boys got to work on the front yard.

My front porch was looking pretty sad what with the faded black wicker settee and table out front, I knew I needed to give it a quick face lift.

First I removed the furniture and accessories from the porch and gave it a good sweeping. 
Then I noticed the windows were filthy and so my little guy was given the task to clean those up.

Meanwhile my big guy and I got to work on cleaning up the flower bed. 
I decided to move the birdbath from one flower bed to another where the gorgeous rose bush is just a-bloomin'

Isn't it gorgeous!!
I need to buy more like this to put in my backyard garden I am planning.

After cleaning and clearing the flower beds, birdbath moved and fixing up here and there, I took the wicker settee out back and gave it a fresh new coat of FUSION spray paint.
Just a little touch up.
I then sprayed the cushions with water to rinse them clean.
And here it is all dressed up for spring.
I love having a front porch and can't wait to show you some more projects I have in mind to pretty it up even more.

{notice the cute little boy statue? I love it}

 And a shot of the final wicker paint job:
{what a difference}
 I also hung a pretty wreath on the door.
{the door is next to be painted ;)}

A few last shots of the complete porch:

All we need is to add some fresh mulch and a few other plants to the other flower bed and we're done.

What have you been up to?
Are you working on your garden yet?

Be back soon :)


P.S. Don't forget to enter my tutu giveaway. Perfect for a little princess
 linking up to :

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Fever and Making Pretty Paper Flowers

Well here we are in the month of April. 
Phew, March certainly did blow in and out fast, didn't it?
And I don't know about you but all this warm weather makes me appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us.
In particular, flowers.
I love gardening. 
And I love having flowers in my home as well.
So today I want to share with you something special 
I whipped up for a very important person:
My mother :)
She is turning 60 years old today and I greatly admire her.
At her age she still smokin' hot and STILL turns heads!!
I am working on getting her to model for me so I can feature her both on my photography gallery and my blog ;)
She has agreed so stay tuned for that.
So here we go:
I bought a little inexpensive wooden box at my local craft store that rhymes with mobby dobby.
I also bought some pretty scrapbook paper and got to work.
I used this cartridge with my Cricut to cut the flowers:
 I love this cart!!
It has so many beautiful images to cut and make GINORMOUS FLOWERS. Y'all need to get this. 
I cut my two flowers using the instructions found right in the booklet that comes with the cart. You can experiment with sizes and shapes to fit your box and needs.
After cutting and assembling my two flowers I added a stick on pearl embellishment to them and put some mighty mend it adhesive to secure them extra.
Then I got to work on the box. I measured around and cut the pieces of this beautiful paper by Bella Bella
 I brushed Mod Podge on the sides of the box and adhered the paper, taking care to smooth out wrinkles and bubbles.
I worked my way around and carefully applied paper to the front of the box and using an exacto knife I cut away the area around the little bottom latch.
I then painted the inside of the box with the same Annie Sloan chalk paint I used to paint my cheap tv armoire and waited for it to dry. 
I did two coats inside and two coats on the outside edges.
I wanted to give this little box a vintage, shabby but classy look.

{excuse the crappy yard in the background}

After everything was dry and I had given a coat of Mod Podge on all the outer areas, I started to put on the embellishments.
I scored a really, pretty, glittery, embellishment that was SUPER easy to put on because it was the stick on kind :)
I put that on the front. 
Inside the box I put some white, skinny, ribbon on the edges with mighty mendit adhesive.
I don't like using the glue gun as much because it globs up and then your box won't close {ask me how I know}.
Next, I put some of the same stick on ribbon on the back of the little box and lastly I glued on some ribbon to the cover and put on the two flowers!

{I apologize for the dim pics. I was working at night}
I have to say I am very happy with the way it turned out.
My mom loved it!
I have found so many ideas to use this little box I am going to make more. 
The little wooden box was only $2.99 :)
In all I think I spent $8.50 for new paper, embellishments and the box. 
I had the rest and you can use whatever you have.
If you don't have an electronic cutter you can cut these out by hand or even cut them out of fabric.
Wouldn't this be cute as a jewelry box:
 or as a baby shower gift used to store pretty, baby headbands and bows:

 or as a bridesmaids' gift filled with cool nail polish:
and an even cuter gift for Mother's Day!

There are so many possibilities and I can't wait to play around some more with this versatile cartridge and come back and show you more.
Until then,
have a great week!
And if you like this fun project, don't forget to subscribe via email so you don't miss one single post.


This is where I party at:

 Strut Your Stuff @ Somewhat Simple


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