Monday, December 31

Happy New Year!!!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

I have missed all my friends and fellow bloggers and plan to be back crafting and blogging very very soon. This crazy  thing called "LIFE" has kept me away for far too long!!

Simply AJ

Saturday, July 14

Stars and Stripes Banner / Patriotic Mantel

Hello Friends…

Word of the day...  Belated 
Occurring after the appropriate or expected time, 
especially too late to be effective or useful 

I know the 4th of July holiday is long gone and we have all moved on to fun summer projects, but I’ve decided to go ahead and share this post anyway. I wasn’t able to publish my Patriotic Mantel on-time or share a few of the projects I made, due to some overwhelming family obligations and a bit of technical difficulties (I’m still always  having a run of hard luck).

I was so disappointed and I wasn't even going to re-write the darn post but I got to thinking… “What the heck, it’s never too late to share a project!” 

So, if you can tolerate just one more patriotic post, then I would love it if you would just keep on reading (Big smile). As  you know, it’s impossible for me to keep things short and sweet, but I will try… K! 

I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th!

Stars and Stripes Banner Mantel Full View Main

While looking for a little inspiration for my Patriotic Mantel, I came across a great banner at Super Mom Moments. It had the simplicity and patriotic feel I was looking for and was a snap to make. The best part was the “free” PDF printable of the banner she (Aimee) was sharing (Here).  When you finish up here, you should  pop over and check out her banner and “Pin” it for next year!

Now, I only needed to print the U-S-A part of the banner because I had the perfect scrapbooking cardstock for the stars and stripes pendants. With my squeaky wheels turning, I adapted part of her banner into something that fit my colors and patriotic theme.

Banner Closeup
From start to finish this banner took less than an hour to put together. Here how I made my banner…

Paper Supplies Outline w text
Washi Clothespins Collage

Ready to hang…

Banner pieces

Full View…

Banner Full View
I wanted a simple clean look that still made a statement and I think it came together perfectly.  My little 2 yr. old  Grandson actually cheered when I hung the banner. That sweet little boy made my day!

Let me give you a tour of the various projects that make up our Patriotic Mantel.

First up…

My D-in-L bought me these little tin buckets and pinwheels that she found in the $1 bins at Target. I knew right away, I could build my mantel around these cute little pieces. 

Patriotic Pinwheel Collage
Don’t they look so fun and patriotic? 

Next up…

I saw this 4th of July Printable at Tattered and Inked and knew I wanted to use it for my holiday artwork. BTW… Tattered and Inked is one of my favorite blogs and Kelsey is a mad talented DIY crafter. Totally recommend visiting!

Frame Page1

1. Painted old frame with bright White Acrylic Paint (matte finish). Let dry overnight then lightly distress frame with sanding block.
2. Artwork is printed on 8x10 Photo Paper then trimmed to size.
3. Painted Star with Metallic Blue Craft Paint then add light layer of fine glitter while paint was still damp.
4. Attached Star to Frame with glue dot to allow for easy removal.

Wooden Firecrackers…

You might remember these Wooden Firecrackers that I bought last year from Pick Your Plum (my favorite daily deal site). 

My original post from last year is Here if you would like to take a peek!

Here’s how I dressed mine up:

Firecracker Collage final w frame

Firecracker Supplies

All – American Birdhouse

This sweet little Birdhouse is perched up on our mantel and is looking mighty fine!  I had fun creating this project and it felt good to pull out my brushes for a change.  In case you missed my post last week  - All - American Birdhouse.

All American Birdhouse Collage 4 frame
My sweet little 2 yr. old Grandson saw this picture and told me… “ I lub the wittle tweet tweet houwse”. He’s so adorable!

BTW...  A summer themed Birdhouse is on the drawing board!

Red Dash Line

Thanks for being a trooper and hanging in there till the bitter end! You’re the best! (XOXO) 

Seriously, I wished I could have published this Patriotic tribute before the holiday but, as I am learning, family and obligations must come first and blogging second.  

I have several great projects to share this month so I hope you will stop back by again soon.  If you want to stay in the loop when something new is published then sign up for email updates or RSS updates over on my sidebar. 

Until next time…
Simpy AJ Signature w flower

Wednesday, July 4

All–American Birdhouse

All-American Birdhouse Front View Distressed w text
Say “Hello” to the newest addition to my Patriotic Mantel. This patriotic paint scheme is so fitting for this sweet little birdhouse. Don't you agree? 

You see, I have a soft spot for little wooden birdhouses so when I came across this fantastic Pin on Pinterest, I had to find out more! 

Screen Shot Pinterest Birdhouse
Laura at House of Joyful Noise created this beautiful little Birdhouse. She captured the patriotic spirit of the holiday so perfectly and inspired me to pick up my paintbrush and create one of my own.

I also took some time to look around her site and Oh My Goodness did I find a new place for inspiration! You must stop over and see where her American Birdhouse found its home and check out some of her DIY projects, Furniture Refinishing projects and Recipes. Make sure to tell Laura "Hi" while your there and tell her I sent ya (wink)!

I have quite a collection of unfinished wooden Birdhouses (I actually have the same one Laura used for her project) and always end up picking up a few new ones (usually at Michael’s in the $1 bin) even though I probably don’t need anymore! I usually Mod Podge my Birdhouses with either fabric or paper and haven’t painted one in a long time. I guess that’s why this project was so much fun.

All-American Birdhouse w instant frame color text
Doesn't she just make you want to sing a Patriotic Song!!

All-American Birdhouse Back View Final

Here’s a quick tutorial on how I made my Birdhouse… 

All-American Supply Collage2

1.) I painted the wooden birdhouse with White Acrylic Craft Paint. It took a couple of coats to cover completely. Let paint dry overnight.

2.) The next day, I used my Cricut and some scrap vinyl to cut out the stars and stripes (only had white scrap pieces handy so it’s hard to see them in the pictures against white paint). If you don’t have a cutting machine you can use a stencil and cut out by hand.

3.) I placed the vinyl where I wanted it and painted each side (Acrylic Red and Blue Paint was leftover from my Uncle Sam project and the White Acrylic Craft Paint I had in my stash).

4. ) Once paint has dried completely (let mine dry overnight), I removed vinyl and touched up a few spots. Then lightly sanded edges for a distressed look (optional).

Note: Since my Birdhouse will stay inside I didn’t seal with any type of wax or sealant. If placed outside I would recommend sealing to protect against the weather.  

What do you think?? Isn’t this a fun and patriotic project??

All-American Birdhouse 3 View Collage

Okay, humor me with just one more picture…

All-American Birdhouse

This sweet little Birdhouse is perch up on our Patriotic Mantle and she is looking good!

Pictures of our Patriotic Mantel should be posted tomorrow so make sure to come back by and take a look. I can’t wait to show you the super simple Stars and Stripes Banner I made.

Thanks for stopping by my Nest….

Simpy AJ Signature w flower

I’m linking up to several parties listed on my sidebar…. Stop by and check out the fun!

Made-by-you-Monday @ Skip to my Lou
Made with Love Monday @Sew Chatty
Make the Scene Monday @Alderberry Hill
Get Your Craft On @Today’s Creative Blog
Tuesday Confessional @Confessions of a Stay at Home Mommy
Trick or Treat Tuesday @Inside BruCrew Life
Uncommonly Yours Link Party @Uncommonly Yours...
Linkin' with Lil' Luna @Lil Luna
Whimsy Wednesdays @The NY Melrose Family

Tuesday, July 3

Patriotic Porch Re-Run

Today, I wanted to share with you our Patriotic Front Porch. The porch is being labeled “re-run” because it’s the same Rag Wreath and Uncle Sam that I made last year. I just loved both projects and since I was unable to make anything new for the porch I figured why not!

Patriotic Projects 2011 Collage
I really wasn’t planning on sharing my front porch this year (because it was a re-run), but this morning while working on my new Patriotic Mantle post, I realized that my blog friends have quadrupled since last July (thank you to each and everyone of you - I love my readers!) which means many of you probably haven’t seen these projects.

I think they are two of my all-time favorites and were the projects that jump started my confidence to blog about my crafting adventures. It is a hoot to look back at these old post and see how awful my pictures are and read my silly posts.

You can find my original post, instructions and inspiration HERE.

 Patriotic Rag Wreath w text header
You can find my original post, instructions and inspiration HERE.

Patriotic Porch
Unfortunately, I was unable to take any new pictures of the porch so I ‘m just using last years picture. What’s new from last year?? Well, my front door has since been refinished in a gorgeous dark espresso and I have beautiful red geraniums hanging in the flower bed.

Don’t you just love Uncle Sam?? I have a vision to make Pilgrims and a Mr.and Mrs.Claus using this same technique, I just have to find the time to play around with my templates. Who knows, maybe I will get my act together and make me some more holiday statues.

Tell me about your favorite 4th of July project….

Stay tuned tomorrow for my Patriotic Mantel Reveal and the cutest little Birdhouse!! 

Until Next Time…

Simpy AJ Signature w flower

Yellow Line
I’m linking both Uncle Sam and Patriotic Wreath to several parties listed on my sidebar…

Monday, June 18

Green Bean Bacon Bundles

Green Bean Bacon Bundles closeup_text

Green Beans + Bacon = Bundle of Deliciousness

My gang has grown tired of having the same ole’ meals night after night and I've grown tired of hearing them grumble about it.

Enter… our PLAN

So, my Daughter-in-Law and I came up with a plan to liven up suppertime. We decided to find/make at least 2-3 new recipes each week and to step out of the “Normal Boring” dishes (as our men call them) and into some “Fun and Creative” meals.

We are compiling a list of new menu ideas and using a star rating of 1-5 (5 being highest). As we go along, I plan to share with you some of the new recipes we try and highlight a few of the sites/blogs. Our guys are even getting in on the action, they are critiquing each masterpiece and providing feedback for any changes the next time we make it. You should hear them talk about the dish -  It is soooo hilarious!  

First on our List…

Green Bean Bacon Bundles is the first new veggie side dish we made. I found this recipe a while back on Pinterest, and I knew it would be a winner with our guys. Guess What… I was right (imagine that)!  The grown ups loved it and even our 2 yr. old grandson cleaned his plate!  We pared it with some delicious Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops and I used some of the glaze as garnish in my picture (above).

Not only did we give this recipe a collective 5 Stars… 
we also gave Jessica at How Sweet It Is a 5 Star rating!!

When I originally checked out the recipe link (before I pinned it), I found myself glued to her site exploring everything. She has a beautiful website and some fantastic recipes. We have already made three other recipes from her site and so far so good!

I now stalk  follow her daily post via email subscription and hope to feature a couple more of her dishes that we’ve recently made. I encourage you to stop over and check out How Sweet It Is. Who knows, you might find something new you want to try!

Our Version…

Green Bean Bacon Bundles (adapted from How Sweet It Is)

The best part about this veggie dish is you can easily adjust the servings to meet your needs. To feed the four of us (4 + toddler) we only made seven (7) bundles and adjusted the brown sugar bath accordingly. The original recipe makes 10 –12 bundles so you may want to refer to her recipe for exact ingredient measurements. 

Fresh Green Beans – (1/2 pound’ish) washed and trimmed
Bacon Slices – One slice for each bundle
1 generous Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 clove of Garlic – minced
Salt & Pepper – to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and spray 13 x 9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a saucepan over low heat melt butter then add brown sugar and garlic. Stir until combined – keep warm.

Take prepared green beans and bundle together 6-8 green beans (depends on the size on how many you get in a 1/2 lb.). Wrap a piece of bacon around each bundle and place seam side down in prepared baking dish.

Brush butter mixture over top of each bundle and Salt / Pepper to taste.

Green Bean Bacon Bundles Collage
Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes , just until bacon gets crispy.

** The bacon did not get as crispy as I would have liked, so next time I will place under broiler for a few minutes to crisp bacon.

Serve immediately (best if served hot).

Green Bean Bacon Bundle edit w_ matte_text
Doesn’t this look scrumptious?

This really was a snap to make and was so good. I promise you the flavors were perfect together and it looks so handsome on the plate.

What about you? Have you been looking for new recipe ideas to liven up your nightly dinners?  Let’s hear about them!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and stay tuned for another new recipe tasting next week. Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time…

Simpy AJ Signature w flower

I’m linking this post to several parties listed on my sidebar… Stop by and join in the fun!

Scrumptous Sunday Link Party @Addicted to Recipes
Think Pink Sundays @Flamingo Toes
I Heart Naptime
Made-by-you-Monday @ Skip to my Lou
Party with my Peeps @How To Nest For Less
Weekend Warrior @Ask Anna
Make the Scene Monday @Alderberry Hill
Tuesday Talent Show @Chef In Training
Time to Shine @A Diamond in the Stuff
Trick or Treat Tuesday @Inside BruCrew Life


Saturday, June 9

Birthday Bash… Fun Birthday Banner!

Part 2… Tractor Theme Birthday Banner
(if you missed Part One of the Birthday Bash / Balloon Wreath click HERE)

What party is complete without a Birthday Banner??

Tractor Theme Birthday Banner w title 1

Doesn't this banner scream “Let’s P-a-r-t-y“?

I had a blast making this Birthday Banner for my Grandson’s party. It made such an impact in the room and tied the theme together perfectly. I was able to incorporate not only the tractor theme and party colors; but I personalized it to give the banner that extra special touch. 

Despite the camera mishap, I’ve managed to round up enough photos to share with you this fun Birthday Banner. I won’t fudge or sugar coat how hard it was to edit these babies. I’ve discovered the colors green and yellow are not easy colors to photograph. Jeez!! 

Tractor Theme Birthday Banner Collage

My Daughter-in-Law only had a few simple request where the banner was concerned, so I really had free reign to just play. I starting planning this project weeks in advance and made several detailed sketches of each element, so I could have a handle on everything I would need to make the banner.  Pre-planning a project like this is key… I could hit all the sales and have plenty of time to work on this bad boy! 


I hadn’t really planned on providing a step-by-step tutorial for the banner but I’ve received several request asking for more details, so I thought I would go ahead and put something together. I’m thrilled so many of you wanted to know more about it! 

Heres how I made it…

Banner Supplies Framed with Labels

I got lucky and scored all the single sheet cardstock 50% off at Hobby Lobby saving me big bucks. Just for the banner, I needed over 60 sheets so getting them for less than 22¢ a sheet … well, you can do the math ($$Cha-Ching$$). 

My Cricut Create® is as ancient old as I am (okay, maybe not that old but dang close) and it’s the smaller version with a 12x6 mat so I’m limited on cutting size. Oh goodness  how I dream of a new machine (I want a Silhouette) but honestly, my little lady still gets the job done and because she is older, I can use my Sure Cuts A Lot (v2) design software (I heart this program). All is well in my little world!

The Pendants:
Tractor Theme Pendant w text
Step 1:  Each triangle piece is 8 1/2 by 11 (basically, a whole sheet of green cardstock paper). I made a template from a piece of thin cardboard (a cereal box works great for this) and used it to trace my pattern on each piece of green cardstock then cut out by hand. I made 20 triangle pendant pieces. 

Step 2: Yellow Top Band - Using my template I traced outTriangle w Polka Dots Closeup the top band and with my paper trimmer quickly cut out each piece then glued in place.

Step 3: Bottom Yellow Triangle – Again, using my cardboard template I traced out the bottom triangle piece, cut out and glued in place. 

Step 4: Polka Dots – Using my SCAL program I created several dozen little circles (2 sizes) and cut out using my Cricut. Added them to each bottom triangle piece (cut a few in half to get the look I wanted). 

The Tractor:
Tractor SVG Cut Closeup with Tape Frame I searched through all my SVG files and Cricut Cartridges for a cute little tractor but I just didn’t find what I was looking for. So, I hopped online and I headed to one of my favorite sources for (reasonably priced) SVG files called I found this set called "Grandpa's Organic Farm" which had the perfect tractor.

Just a quick shout out… makes it so easy (and safe) to purchase and download SVG files. Their prices are affordable and they also have free SVG files ready for quick download. They offer good clean cut files that work great with SCAL and they have a fun blog too! **This is my opinion based solely on my personal experience using their files (No Compensation or endorsement).

Tractor Center w ArrowsThe tractor size is approx. 3.266 wide and 3.992 high. I used SCAL to layout each part of the tractor, cut six (6) sets with my Cricut and then assembled all six (6) tractors. Each completed tractor was centered on the pendant in between the top band and bottom triangle and glued in place.

The Letters: 

Letter layered w dimensions
I used a font called LD Enquirer that I previously purchased from another one of my favorite websites called Lettering Delights.  LD has tons of great stuff other than fonts like graphics, printables and cut files. Anyway, this font has the perfect rounded style that works well when using the layering technique. 

In SCAL, I laid out each letter sized to 2.8 x 2.8. Using my Cricut, I cut out and assembled all 20 letters. Then, I centered the letter on the pendant in between the top band and bottom triangle (same as tractor) and glued in place. 

Display Banner:
Punch holes in the top band and run twine through each letter. I added clear tape the back of each pendant to hold the twine in place and to help it hang properly. (sorry, no close up picture)


Who’s still awake with me?   

I hope I didn’t lose anyone or confuse those of you who wanted the scope on how I made the banner. If you do have any questions, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email and I will try my best answer them (please make sure to include your email).  

Birthday  Banner Framed revised
So, what do you think… do you like it? Have you ever made a paper Birthday Banner? Leave me a comment sharing your thoughts and stories… I would love to hear from you!  

I will finish up the Birthday Bash Series with a third and final post  where I will show you the cutest table centerpieces we made with just a few great finds from The Dollar Tree and a simple way to make customized goodie bags. 
Oh and of course, I’ll share a few festive pictures of the Birthday Boy! 

Thanks for stopping by and hanging out with me. Your the best! 
Until next time… 

Simpy AJ Signature w flower

Linking this project to a few great parties... Check out my sidebar for the list!

Come Join in the Fun!!