Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homemade Halloween Decor

Chloe created this on the Paint program on my computer the other day. I transferred the picture to a Word Document and we added the text. I printed it on glossy photo paper, and placed it in a $3 frame from Walmart. I'm so excited for her to do this for all the holidays and seasons. I think this would also make a great fundraising or project/gift idea for a classroom.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday Brunch

This week we decided to start out our day of football fun with a brunch!
Just something a little different from our typical football menu!

Bagels & cream cheese
Sausage  Casserole
Cake Doughnuts
Chocolate milk
Orange Juice

There were 14 of us, 8 kids and 6 adults. We ate all the casserole and doughnuts, so I think it was a perfect amount. I've been wanting to make these doughnuts for a while now. I had two different recipes. A Wilton recipe from the donut pan itself and one from Family Circle magazine. I tried the vanilla Wilton recipe and the Chocolate FC recipe. I preferred the FC recipe for reasons of taste &  ingredients. I felt the Wilton doughnuts were too dry and I didn't like that they called for cake flour as opposed to all-purpose flour. Here, I will include the recipe of the winner of this Good Things Simple doughnut war. Drumroll please....

  The winner is....

Family Circle's Chocolate Cake Doughnuts!

Here's the recipe:
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teas. baking soda
1/4 teas. salt
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
4 teas. unsalted butter, melted
1 teas. vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Coat doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk buttermilk, sugar, egg, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; whisk until blended and smooth. Spoon batter into a large resealable plastic bag. Cut off the corner and squeeze batter into prepared indents, about 2/3 the way full.  Smooth tops. Bake for 13 minutes, until doughnuts spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan on rack for 3 minutes, then carefully turn out directly onto rack to cool.

Chocolate Glaze:
In a bowl combine 1 c. powdered sugar, 1 tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 tbls. milk. Stir until smooth. Dip cooled doughnuts into bowl and allow excess frosting to drip back into the bowl. Add toppings or sprinkles at this point. Allow to chocolate glaze to set.

Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole

2 pkgs. Farmer John (breakfast) Sausage Links (found near the bacon)
3 c. Ore-Ida frozen shredded potatoes
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. butter, melted
12 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
1 (16 oz.) tub small curd cottage cheese
8 lg. eggs
1 tsp. sage (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 13x9 inch baking dish. Place the sausage, onion, and bell pepper in a medium skillet and cook (while crumbling the sausage) over medium heat. Drain, set aside.

In the baking dish, add the potatoes and melted butter, stir to combine as best as you can. Press the potatoes evenly to line the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. This is your "crust."

Meanwhile, mix the sausage, onions, peppers, cheese, cottage cheese, spices, and eggs in a large bowl. Pour it over the baked potato mixture.

Return to oven and bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before cutting.

Total cooking time is 1 hour 10 minutes. Serves 12.
We eat this often, but always on Christmas morning, hence the name!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Playdate Invitation

This year we decided to put Chloe in the school near our house. While she knew a few of the kids from playing Little League with them, she didn't know any kids well enough to have a playdate. I don't know any of the parents, so she won't be having any playdates at their houses! Not all the parents show up during morning drop-off or afternoon pick-up so it has been impossible for introductions or arrangements. So I turned to the age-old INVITATION!

Remember, I like good things and I like them simple. So I wanted something cute that would make an impression but I didn't have a lot of time. I don't have any fancy shmancy software either. So I created a simple invitation in Microsoft Word.

1. Open a new word document.
2. Click Insert
3. Insert Clipart
4. Type "vine" in the search box in the clipart window. Choose the background.
5. Stretch the picture over 1/2 the page of your word document.
6. In "format" tab click on the "text wrapping" icon, then check the "behind text" option.
7. Choose a cute font and start typing.
8. At this point I made another one on the bottom half of the page, but this is optional.
9. Print on white cardstock.
10. Cut and trim your invitation and hole punch two holes 1" apart on the top.
11. Thread your choice of ribbon through and tie in knots as close to the paper as possible so the ribbon doesn't slip through.
12. I added a 3D cupcake sticker.

 I let her take one invitation to school today and she gave it to her friend.
The friend saw me after school today and was very excited!

P.S. No need to try and call me or come over,
I changed the address and phone number for the purpose of this post! :-) 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Things Simple-Snacks


Today lavender Clouds is featuring it's first "Good Things Simple" Snack Idea. With all the things we have going on it's always great to have delicious and simple snack ideas.
Our house loves Nutella. Since she despises peanut butter, Chloe ate a nutella and wheat bread sandwich everyday at school for an entire year! She was the envy of all the little children who also wanted chocolate sandwiches for lunch! Today I wanted a sweet and savory snack and in 2 minutes I was in chocolate hazelnut bliss!

Spread Nutella on toasty, warm sourdough.

I couldn't even wait to take a bite before I snapped a picture!


Here's a variation: Make a Nutella panini! Spread the outer sides of your plain sourdough with butter, the inside with Nutella, put them together, butter side out, and grill on your panini. Cut it in half, sprikle with some powdered sugar, and you now have a Good Things Simple dessert!

Do you have a good and simple snack idea? If so, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

How To Hem Your Jeans

How To Hem Your Jeans

The other day I purchased a fabulous pair of Seven For All Mankind jeans at Costco of all places!
However, they, like always were much too long. I don't like sending my jeans out to be altered because it always seems like they're not the length I wanted when I get them back. So, like I do whenever I need to learn something I turn to YouTube! I found a great video, and have been using this method on my families jeans. Here is the tutorial in pictures:
Fabric Scissors, pins, thread and bobbin in your choice of color, ruler, white fabric pencil, and sewing machine.
 1. Try on your jeans WITH the shoes you will most often wear with them.
Heels vs. Flats.

2. Pin the jeans where you want the finished length to be.
Take them off :-)

3. Measure the length evenly and using a ruler, mark a white line.

4. NOW, using the ruler, measure 1 inch below that white line you just drew.
You now have two white lines.

5. Now, with scissors cut on the white line that is on the bottom.
After you cut it should look like this:

6. Now cut the four inside seams about 1 half inch, like this:

7. Now fold the bottoms up a half an inch, like this:

8. Fold them again a half an inch, using your white line as a guide. The white line should be at the very edge of the bottom hem, adjacent to the floor. Like this:

Here's what it will look like inside:

9. Don't forget this step! Try them on again, carefully, because of the pins! Look carefully at the length of both legs and make any necessary adjustments by re-pinning.

10. Is your machine ready, because you are! Take off your jeans again. Sew them from the inside of the cuff, removing the pins along the way. Don't forget to backstitch a few, so they don't unravel.

Wha la! Once you've done both legs your done! Easy!

I'm so grateful Laura put this tutorial on YouTube, Thanks Laura!

The link to Laura's YouTube video:


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NYC Through Her Eyes

 New York City Through the Eyes
 of an 8-year Old

This summer my husband and I took our two children on a two-week east coast vacation.
We spent three night in NYC, seeing the sights.

After taking hundreds of photo's with my Nikon D5000, I forgot it in the Airport
bathroom on our way home.

We had photo's with family and friends in NYC, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
It was a devestating loss.

We spent two exhausting days in a desperate search for the camera's.

My husbands camera was also in the camera bag along with mine.

I hadn't downloaded or printed any of the photos from the camera's.


My 8 year-old daughter had taken her camera on the trip with us.

These are the photos SHE took.

We are so grateful, that she was able to capture some memories from our trip.

We were delighted with the beauty she saw and captured.

It was sad to have lost the camera's, to know that someone found it and chose not to return it. It gave us an uneasy feeling to know that some stranger was looking at us, at our photos. But...we found comfort in the fact that we DID have a perfect trip, and we all made it home safely.

I will cherish these photos my young daughter took forever. Actually, I'm considering making these photo's into postcards and using them as our Christmas Cards.

I now have 3 labels on my camera with reward information. Before it only had our phone number.

We gave our daughter a small pink digital camera for Christmas when she was 7.
She has given us a bigger gift.

Do you have a child who has taken an amazing or funny photo? Send them to me and if you "follow me" I will try and post it.

*The photos in this post are the property of Lilianna Grace
and cannot be used without permission.*

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Custom Blog Signature

It is so fun learning all these new things about creating a unique blog.
There are certain things I'm willing to tackle, at the moment, there are other things that are just too overwhelming for me at this point in my journey.

Today, thanks to The Cutest Blog on the Block, I was able to create a personal signature. It is a simple design because I have no idea how to use photo shop and that is where I created it.

For this fun tutorial, please visit my favorite go-to blog source at:

Have fun and good luck!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Custom Family Cookbook

A special gift...Christmas is just around the corner you know.

A few years ago, I had the idea to make a family cookbook. It came about because I was tired of bothering my family every time I needed a recipe. It ended up being a treasured gift that I will refer to for years to come. Really, I had felt deprived that my mother never passed down her gift of cooking to me and I was determined to make sure that my children had the tools to carry on the traditions and memories of our family.
I decided I wanted the book done for Christmas, and I would give one to all of the adult members of my family. That was somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 books!

I knew that pictures and copies of handwritten recipes were important elements that I was determined to include. My research led me to  They were able to easily put together my vision...and I got to talk with the owner directly the first time I called. She was extremely helpful and patient through the entire process.

I recruited my aunts to help me by submitting and collecting recipes. I sent out an email to all my family telling them what I was doing and had them send me their favorite, most used, most requested recipes.
Perhaps they didn't realize the extent of the final product because much to their own regret many relatives didn't send even one recipe. Luckily, others contributed many. 

My aunts went to their aunts and dictated their recipes in broken English, we had recipes sent from relatives in Italy, and we even made difficult recipes and took photos of the steps.

I formatted and retyped all the recipes, while others helped with proof-reading and editing.
It is an important step to have someone other than the recipe submitter read the recipe to make sure that the directions are clear.
Some recipes even included personal notes or stories about a celebration or tradition that includes that dish.


I also included a segment in the front of the book that had all living family member's birthdays. It included their full name, month, day, and year of their birth.

Also included were an Introduction page, and pages that were added by the company such as, substitution charts, measuring charts, a guide to herbs and household cleaners, and perhaps most importantly they generate an index. For a brief period of time I thought I would self-publish, then I attempted to tackle creating the index....

Finally, the recipes are submitted to and then they work their magic. They also re-type, proofread, and edit all recipes. Before the book goes to print they send a sample book to be proofed. Then with any corrections the books get printed. You receive the sample book, the final books, a CD, and all your original recipes back in the mail.


I decided it was appropriate to dedicate this book to my Nana who raised six children and had 21 grandchildren at the time of her death. All of her children are amazing cooks.

I wrapped each book individually, shipped out the ones that were for out-of-staters, and toted the rest to my Aunt's annual Christmas Day get together for ALL the rest of my family.

I wish only that I had pictures from that Christmas. As I handed those books out, it became silent. Everywhere you looked they were flipping through every page, looking at every picture. Some were in groups looking at it together, other sat alone in the living room, in the kitchen, outside, upstairs....It was an amazing site. I'm so grateful to have made such a gift that will honor our family for so many years to come. I can't wait to give my children their copies when they are older.

I know the company does rush orders, depending on their current situation perhaps
you too can have one by Christmas.  If not,
you can always create a smaller version by just printing out YOUR recipes, and gifting them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back 2 School Teacher's Wishlist Delivered in Style

I have mixed emotions about my kids going back to school. I'm sad that I don't get to be with them and do fun things and continue to travel, however, I'm excited at what the new school year brings. This year, I decided to jazz up the wishlist items I was purchasing for my daughter's class. You know, tissue, anti-bacterial gel, gluesticks, and the like. I wanted to add a special touch, so with my supervision, my daughter made some caramel apples to and we found a great basket with a chalkboard embellishment at Michael's. It cost under $5 after my coupon.

First, over the summer when everything is rediculously cheap, I stocked up on supplies at Target. A box of pencils for a quarter, are you kidding? I also picked up some cute ribbon when I purchased my basket. I already have a stockpile of tissue and anti-bacterial gel, so I added those. Finally, we collected all of our box-tops we had saved over the summer, so that we could inluded those as well. I also had darling daughter write her teacher's name on the board.

Time to make the apples...Since I didn't go to the store we had to use what was on hand (hence the Mickey Mouse sprinkles and the sticks). We gathered some good sticks from outside. I scrubbed them with dishsoap and hot water, then I microwaved them at 30 second intervals two times until they were dry. Use caution when doing this and watch them carefully.

We used a bag of Kraft caramel balls I purchased at Walmart. We simply added the caramel and water to a glass measuring cup and microwaved according to the package instructions.

After rinsing and drying our apples we inserted our sticks, this takes a bit of muscle. Then, we dipped them in the caramel and trasferred them to parchment paper. We cupped the parchment paper gently around the apple and poured in some sprinkles and gently pressed them into the apple. Into the fridge they go for one hour. After they have set you can now wrap and tie them. We used clear treat bags, found in the candy making section at Michael's.

Mmm...of course we made extra so we could taste test!

All in all, my daughter and I were able to contribute to her class room, have fun doing it, and add our own personal touch. Mrs. Jacob's opened it in front of the class and everyone begged her for the apple.

If you have any similar ideas, send them in and maybe I'll post it!
This post was featured @ Giverslog

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Finally, I have arrived in the community!

Hello world. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Lilianna Grace, I’m a 34 year young wife, and mother of 2, a teenage boy and a 3rd grade daughter. I spend my Southern California days in awe of what I have been given in this life. I am so grateful everyday. I love my life, my children, family, and friends. I also love all things that are good or cute, yummy and darling, eye catching, eye-popping, head turning, beautiful, fun, funny, classy, inspiring….you get it, right? So that’s why I’m here. That is why I have decided to take the plunge into this densely populated world of blogging that I admittedly know nothing about. I aspire to share things that I think are great, but more importantly things that are simple and lovely. I consider myself a “master of nothing”, so anything I share with you will be on the most unprofessional level! I hope you will join me in this journey, I look forward to getting to know you.

Coming this week…

Stay tuned for a teacher’s back to school wish list all dolled up and delivered complete with a carmel apple!