Sunday, May 31, 2015

Simple Gift Updated

If you follow this blog or follow us on Facebook or Pinterest, then you might have seen my post entitled "Simple Gift" a few days ago.  I needed a gift at the last minute (not really needed as much as wanted) and purchased a chocolate mint plant in the fine mesh, not a pot.  I then decided to cut a paper bag with scrapbooking scissors, placed the plant in it and then tied it with colored twine.  Here is my original photo:

Well, I got to thinking what I would do with a little more time.  Here is what I did today:

 Here's how:

Cut a household sponge into a circle, grabbed a stamping dauber, acrylic paints and cotton swabs.

I again cut a brown paper (obviously haha) lunch bag with my scissors and using the the sponge, acrylic paint and dauber, "artfully" decorated the bags.

It doesn't take long but less messy if you let the paint dry on each side before doing another.  I painted the sides of each bag as well for a "finished" look.  I then placed a plant in each bag and tied with twine.  I did cut off the bottom of the bags, unlike my original bag.

One more photo for good measure.  I didn't bother to buy new paint colors as you can probably tell.  
Anyway, if you need to "dress up" a plant as a gift, this might come in handy.  I just delivered two of the plants above as "welcome to the neighborhood" gifts.  The third will be a teacher end of year gift.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Reception Centerpieces

I realize couples get married at any time of the year but summer seems to be a favorite season.  Could it be due to the fact that college graduations have taken place and so many are ready to start new chapters in their lives?  I wouldn't know, my husband and I married 10 months after graduating high school.
My daughter Staci and her fiance Jon were engaged just before school was out at BYU-Hawaii in 2014.  They chose a date to be wed in August of that year, just prior to school starting again.  Ok, they did have time for a honeymoon to Orlando.
The chicks and i spent the summer preparing for the wedding and reception.  Such details to address! 
Invitations, a dress, attire for the wedding party/family, catering, decorations for the reception, and on. If you have ever gotten married or had a child wed, you know what I am saying!
I ordered many of the items we were going to use for reception centerpieces.  I found Amazon Prime and  to be very helpful in finding quality items at good prices with quick (often free) shipping.
Here is a photo of a centerpiece we made:

We knew fresh flowers would be spendy.  Plus, we wanted to have something that family members could take home as mementos of the happy occasion.  We bought some items from Dollar Tree as well.  See the frame above (and in photos below)?  Those were from Dollar Tree and I just sat down one evening and painted over the wood-look finish.  I did leave some "as is" since the frame matched the photo so well.

We made prints of Staci and Jon's engagement photos (their photographer on Oahu just gave them the disk the photos were on), added those to the frames and placed on each guest table.  We used white, round linen table clothes that were already available at our church, placed that over the tables, added tulle-like table runners (we used silver and shades of blue), then placed the photo and glass centerpiece over that.  The material for the runners are readily available online, at Walmart, or at Michael's, which is where we purchased most of ours.

The glass vases mostly came from Dollar Tree.  I also have some taller vases we used as well.  I ordered packages of seashells from Amazon; from ebay I ordered a 24 pack of LED tea light candles.  The colored sand we found at Michael's, as well.  We did end up buying colored sandbox sand (!) at Home Depot as it was less expensive than the small bags we bought at the craft store.  

The colored twine came from Target--hey, we were on a mission for good deals, so when we came across something we thought might work, we bought it!  We purchased burlap ribbon at Walmart--as you can see on some of the vases. We just tied  a simple knot, then hot glued a shell over the knot.  The sand was then added to the vase, the tea lights were placed in the center and then several seashells were added around the candle.  We then put them in a box in a locked room so no one would disturb them before the reception!  Well, the locked room isn't true but everyone was warned to leave them ALONE.
When it was time to decorate for the reception at our church, my good friend Sheri Renae (who, by the way, is 2 people--in her hometown she is Renae, her family and friends in California call her Sheri-she is Renae to me) and my husband jumped right in.  Renae ironed tablecloths while Larry and I measured and trimmed table runner material.  Then came the fun part of adding the centerpieces and framed photos.
Of course, I will have more posts related to the wedding.  I just seem to have gone on and on with this one so hope I haven't bored you.  You are still there, yeah?  Hello?
See you soon!

See this craft on "Best of the Weekend" @


Friday, May 29, 2015

Saturday Linky Party

I have discovered blog link parties and am impressed!  For Saturday's party, I shared my "Simple Gift" post again and here is the link--check it out, along with many more! 

Link Party Palooza

Here is another blog party you might enjoy:

I just added my "No Knead Bread" recipe to their palooza!  Since a picture is worth a thousand words......

Very moist bread recipe that I have had for,um,  a while.  Hope you will give it a try.

And....Another Blog Party Link

Can you tell I don't work on Fridays?  Yep, the clinic where I am a Registered Nurse is only open part-time.  That way I have more time to spend with my homeschooled chick, Ali..........and obviously discover blog parties.  
I just added a link for my Frito Salad recipe (such a quick, yummy dish in the summer) on another great blog site:

Here is my salad since I know you all want a photo😉

You can find the recipe under the "Good Eats" tab on this very blog!
So good and quick.  Add some fresh fruit and French bread on the side and there is your meal!

Blog Party

My first blog party post!  I shared my "Simple Gift" post from yesterday.  There are great blog posts featured over at

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Simple Gift

I bought a small potted plant and cut a paper lunch bag with craft scissors, placed the plant in it and tied it with colored twine.  The plant is a mint plant....chocolate mint!  Did you know there are chocolate mint plants?  I didn't until today.
If I had had more time, I would have stamped a few polka dots with acrylic paint on the bag.  Oh well, next time!

Please visit the link below for link party fun and ideas:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Upcoming Posts

Posts we are working on:
"Who the Heck Are These People?" (About Us)
More Wedding Preparations
Summer Nails

Thank you for checking in with us.  Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter (2chicksandamom) also.
New post will be up soon!

Monday, May 25, 2015

More Alaskan Adventures! The Stikine River

We had the opportunity to take an Alaskan adventure on my husband's skiff here in Wrangell, Alaska.  There is an amazing river called the Stikine River that you can take for miles to all sorts of different places.  My husband was kind enough to write about the history of the river and other spots we visited on the way.  Enjoy!

       The Stikine River (above) is an international river of almost 380 miles long with approximately 130 navigable miles. The river runs through northern areas of British Columbia and empties into the Pacific Ocean near Wrangell, Alaska. It is considered as one of the fastest flowing navigable rivers in the United States and Canada, and is home to coastal mountains, glaciers and icebergs, hot springs, historic gold rush sites, and many other attractions. The Stikine River has been used for centuries, dating back to history kept by the indigenous people calling it “cloudy river” and has been used for transportation into the areas of British Columbia, fishing (it is a spawning ground for salmon and hooligan fish), fur trading, and for when gold was discovered. 

      We traveled around 20 miles up into the river and stopping at different popular sights.    One of the more difficult areas of the river is the beginning of navigating into the mouth. Heavy currents and sandbars trap many tourist and visitors for hours while they have to wait for the tides to come in. The water is so thick and murky that it is impossible to tell how deep you are, so being familiar with the area is important. Fortunately, our boat was a jet skiff and is designed to travel in shallow water, even inches if need be.
         Our first stop was in a tributary creek of the Stikine called Clearwater. This creek originates from rain and snow melt coming off the mountains around the Stikine, creating a very clear creek. You know when you are in Clearwater because the water is no longer murky and is crystal clear with a hint of green.   You can see in the picture below the water is noticeably more clear than the water pictured above.

         We stayed here with the skiff tied to a bank on the creek by anchor, ate our lunch, and took a walk noticing the signs of moose, bear, and other animals. The scenery was amazing, surrounded by high peaks of snow covered mountains and meadows.
          By now, we had been gone for a few hours and decided to turn back downriver and head towards Wrangell while stopping at other possible sites along the way. One of which was the Clearwater Cabin (pictured below), owned by the Forest Service. It is a two story A frame cabin that attracts many local customers coming up the river for camping and sport fishing.
          We continued our way back, navigating past sandbars and shallow sloughs. With the current behind us, our skiff was probably making about 25 knots. In some of the sloughs, the water became shallow, and the width of the banks narrow which made stopping not an option. I learned how agile those skiffs can be and how sharply they can maneuver through such obstacles.
          Our last stop before Wrangell was Garnet Ledge. This place is full of history, and is a place where the garnet gem naturally occurs near a small creek. Local families within the last few decades have come to this place to chisel the garnets from rock ledges and sell them to tourists visiting on cruise ships back in Wrangell.
           Garnet Ledge has a two story A frame cabin similar to before so people can stay overnight. After investigating, we walked/hiked along a short boardwalk back into the woods near the creek where we were able to harvest a few garnet gems with some tools.  Garnet gems are pictured below.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


We are a little ahead of ourselves posting about reception preparations.  One thing I wanted to share with you is the artsy sign we placed near the exit door so guests could have a final thank you as they left the festivities.  Being a Hawaiian-themed wedding reception, we wanted more than a few decorations that spoke to that theme.  "Mahalo" has several meanings but in this instance, of course, we wanted to convey "thank you" to those who came to celebrate Staci and Jon's special day.
I purchased the bamboo framed chalkboard from, even though I wasn't sure what we would do with it at the time.
It eventually occurred to me (probably thanks to Pinterest) to use it in a large potted plant of grass and mums (being late August, the fall flowers were in full bloom).  My good friend Sheri, who came to attend the wedding and reception, was my right-hand man for decorating for the reception.  She gladly shared her artistic talents and here is the result:
Such a simple addition but a colorful one.   That chalkboard is handy and we actually decorated it with Halloween characters and kept it on front steps for sometime.  Then the snow and rain began to fly.....
More wedding posts to come.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


I posted some of my daughter's (Staci) engagement photos last week and have been meaning to post more on preparations for the shower, reception and wedding.  This all took place in summer of 2014.  
Naturally, one of the biggest concerns is THE DRESS.  One that matches the personality of the bride, is within budget and is what she has dreamed of.  This can be a time-consuming adventure, albeit a fun, memory-making one.  Living in a rural area, looking online for ideas and dress styles is key.  Of course, we didn't really want to order a dress online but it was a starting point.
We went to Boise for a concert last June (it was great!  American Authors, The Script, and OneRepublic in one great evening) and we did check out a couple of franchise bridal shops.  They had so many of the same dresses and none that stood out to my daughter or matched the style she had in mind.  At least we had  plans to go to a concert so not a waste.
A few weeks later we traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah (my girls had tickets to a Panic at the Disco concert--I went shopping) and Staci had made an appointment to try on wedding dresses at Fairy Godmother's Bridal.  I am not kidding, the second dress she tried on and she KNEW it was the one.  Her sister Ali and I agreed--she looked beautiful!  See for yourself:
The dress was a great price as well! If in the Utah area and looking for lovely, quality dresses and a staff who is extremely helpful and professional, check out
These beautiful photos were taken by a good friend and local photographer, Jerry, at Third Eye Photography in Winnemucca.  He took the time to speak with Staci about her wishes for her reception and the photos and  memories she wanted to cherish for the rest of her life.  Jerry also suggested that Staci have a bridal session prior to the wedding (hers were done about a month in advance of the wedding).  Some lovely photos were taken and it was a fun experience.
Of course, Ali is Staci's younger sister, maid of honor and bestie, so Staci wanted Ali to be a part of the session.
If you can't be fun and silly, what's the point?
We were very pleased that we had THE DRESS and had our photographer for the reception chosen.  Pleased that he had suggested a bridal session beforehand--we have a 16"x24" of the first photo hanging in our home.
Anyone planning a wedding knows this but it is essential that the bride-to-be feels good with her choice of dress and photographer.  The day of her dreams is not a time to be second-guessing the dress or working with someone who is not willing to listen to your plans.  While we were working within a budget and planning on making the centerpieces ourselves, decorating, etc., we wanted this to be a special time for Staci, Jon and the family.  Staci has five older brothers and her dad--they all just did as told:).
More photos and posts to come related to the wedding.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Version of Toll House Cookies

Having a sweet tooth myself, having a husband who likes cookies and having (at one time not so long ago) a houseful of boys, it is no surprise that I have made cookies.  Lots of cookies.
Our favorite is Nestles Toll House cookies.  Sweet, chocolatey goodness.  However, years ago when my husband and I were newlyweds, I was making some of those same cookies when I realized I didn't have butter.  I had already started making the cookies and didn't want to bother with going to the grocery store so I substituted one cup shortening (Crisco) for one cup of butter.
Guess what?  I believed the cookies were better than if they had been made with butter.  They didn't "spread out" as much as they did with butter (we like our cookies chubby haha) and the taste was just as delectable.
Over the years I also learned to not put in the full amount of 2 1/4 cups of flour as sometimes the dough would be dry.  I usually put in 1 3/4 cups to start and then add if I need to.  Just check the consistency.
Do you have a cookie dough fiend in your family?  Who doesn't!  I use pasteurized liquid egg product for my cookies, cakes, and other baking.  The health concern isn't there with a pasteurized product.
I also like to mix it up by using not only semi-sweet chocolate chips but also a mixture of various baking chips such as milk chocolate, butterscotch, white chocolate, and have even been known to chop up various candy bars as an add-in.  No nuts, though.  My family is not a big fan of cookies with nuts.
These are just my ideas and opinions but thought I would share.
Happy Baking!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bacon, Onion, Potato, Beans, Chorizo & Cheese Foil Dinners

To my surprise, my husband came across foil dinners the other day and had never heard of them- so of course we had to make one!  He looked up different kinds of dinners and decided he wanted one that included bacon, onions, and potatoes.

Foil dinners really are simple and you can use just about anything.  Vegetables, potatoes, cheese, many types of meats, etc.  They are quick, easy, and fun!  While we were originally just going to do the bacon, potato, onion, and cheese, my husbands brother had also happened to cook up some black bean and chorizo together.  My husband decided we should add that in with our other ingredients-- and I'm glad he did!
What you will need:
Non-stick cooking spray
Thinly sliced potatoes
Chopped up onions (sauteed to taste)
Cooked bacon (cut up)
Cheese (optional)
Black beans (optional)
Chorizo (optional) - Chorizo is a pork sausage. You can get it ground up or in links.
Seasoning to taste

First you will want to spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.  Then place the potatoes, cooked bacon, and onion in the foil.  If you are interested in adding the black beans and chorizo, simply cook up some chorizo and add some beans and mix them together, then add them in the foil as well.  Top it with cheese, wrap up the foil, and cook for 30-35 minutes at 350.  Top with sour cream if desired.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bench Re-do

Years ago,  and I am talking 1995 or so (you didn't know I was so old, huh?), my husband and a friend made handmade gliders, one for me and one for the friend's wife.  I loved mine and loved the way it looked on our front porch.  As sometimes happens, life got in the way, we moved to another home and didn't have the large porch that we had previously.  Our glider was left in the weather and suffered from neglect.  We didn't dispose of it but we didn't use it, either.
The poor thing was exposed to rain, sun, heat, cold, snow and just about any other weather-related conditions.  No tornadoes or hurricanes, though.
It just looked pathetic and forlorn--if inanimate objects can look that way.

That is one more photo just in case you didn't believe my "forlorn" remark.  
Most of the time I didn't even give the poor thing a second thought.
Flash forward to 2015--
One of my older sons who has been staying with us for a bit is quite handy, artistic, intelligent, handsome--oh wait, we are talking about the glider......
Anyway, he took the glider totally apart, board by board and sanded each board.  Perhaps I should just allow him to tell his technique:
"A 20 year old rocking bench, made out of redwood had grayed in the weather. It was taken apart, sanded down with a belt sander, stained twice with Thompson's WaterSeal Advanced, smoothed over with steel wool, and re-assembled. Given the old screws rusted and left dark stains near the screw holes, black wood screws were used to re-assemble the bench to match the dark rust stains. Some of these old screws broke apart when disassembling so two pieces of wood sitting right under the bench slats were re-cut. For the gliding action, some new bushings were made out of brass pipe fittings, which we very carefully ground down the thread and cut to size using a electrical grinder (4" disc). The stain seems to be holding up, though after a few storms you can feel the wood has absorbed a little water. It probably doesn't help that steel wool was used to smooth it over, but we can always apply another coat. It dries fast!"
Here are a few photos of the finished project:
Of course, here is a full shot of the glider restored:
Doesn't it look less forlorn?  I am so happy to see it restored to its former glory!  I am from the South originally so a porch swing or a glider makes my heart happy.
I know there are plenty of blog posts on restoring furniture and plenty of Pinterest's pins, too.  Well, this is mine and I hope you enjoyed it or at least weren't annoyed by it.
 Thanks for reading.  We are new to blogging and just trying to have fun and hopefully be a bit entertaining, if not informative.  We (my two daughters ages 22 and 14) are working on finding our voices (mine has a bit of sarcasm to it) and we hope you will visit us from time to time and see what the heck we might have come up with next!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Energy Bites

It's hard to find easy, healthy snacks for on the go or for pre and post-workouts.  One of my favorite snacks is energy bites! Whether you need them to fuel before your workout or after your workout or if you just need a little something throughout the day to give you a boost, they are the perfect snack!

They are so easy to make! All you need is:
1 cup oats
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
*Optional: One scoop vanilla whey protein powder

You just simply take all the ingredients, mix them together, roll them into balls, and then place in the refrigerator for around 15 minutes to give them time to set up a little.  That's it.  You have a delicious (and healthy!) snack.  You can also add other things rather than the chocolate chips.  Maybe you prefer butterscotch chips or even mini m&ms. I've even tried Nutella in place of the peanut butter (yum!).  I have yet to experiment with different types of energy bites, when I do you will be the first to know!  They disappear pretty quickly- this specific batch was gone in less than an hour with the help of my husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law. :)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Island Engagement and Photos

I knew it was going to happen sooner or later...I would be the Mother of the Bride.  It seems to have happened sooner than I had anticipated but children do grow up:).  One of my chicks, Staci Rulan, became engaged in May 2014 and was married on August 22, 2014. We had a summer busy with planning, prepping, and traveling.  Living in a small town in Nevada called for traveling to larger shopping areas such Reno, Boise and Salt Lake City.  Naturally, we hated every minute of it---NOT!  It was a good time for Staci, Ali Rose, and myself.  

It was a learning time, as well.  My oldest son has been married for 14 years now but things are a little different when your daughter is getting married--and a bit more spendy.  We were game to plan out centerpieces and bouquets ourselves.  Not just to save money (though that is helpful) but also because we love to be creative.  We might not be the best but we are always game to try.

Since Staci and Jon were attending college in Hawaii (Oahu) it was up to the two of them (ok, it was probably up to Staci) to find a photographer.  She happened to know a fellow BYU-Hawaii student who would be graduating soon with a degree in Fine Arts who also was a great photographer!  Okay, the main thing was the "great photographer" part.  

 Sarah Querido Photography in Laie, Hawaii was so amazing.  She had many great ideas and was willing to listen to the kids about ideas they had as well.  She spent a good amount of time with them planning and going to several locations to shoot. Check out Sarah Querido Photography on Facebook for some more examples of her talent.  Here is another "super" fun photo from the session:

Make it fun, right?  The romantic is already taken care of as:   
1.  Being in love  2.  Being in Hawaii.
If any of you have been to Hawaii, (at least Oahu as I haven't been to the other islands), you have to have a photo with shave ice in it--an island delicacy.

Shave ice is like a snow cone with ice cream and assorted flavors rolled into one.  Amazing stuff--especially in Haleiwa.  We love Aloha General Store's shave ice and their inventory of souvenirs.  Matsumoto's is well-known for their shave ice, also.  At peak times there is going to be a wait but no one seems to mind! 

Aloha for now and Mahalo!

Friday, May 1, 2015


   Things have been busy for all three of us but just recently I moved to Alaska from Hawaii (talk about a change).  The school semester ended so my husband and I came to Wrangell, where he's from, to work and do our internships.  I'll be working as a waitress at one of the few restaurants on the island and working/interning with the Parks and Recreation department.  I get to instruct fitness classes (HIIT, kickboxing, yoga, low impact aerobics) and set up a summer program for kids 6-11 here.  It will definitely keep me busy while my husband does his commercial fishing internship/job.
   Alaska is beautiful!  It's been cold and pretty rainy since we've gotten here- I am not complaining after living in heat and humidity for so long.  The picture below is the view from the place we are currently staying in.  What else would you want to wake up to in the morning? :)  Hopefully in my few months of being here before heading back to school, I will be able to post more about hikes and other beautiful sites here.  For a small island, it sure does have a lot. 
P.S. Watch for some different workouts I may post and some of the activities I do with the kids from the summer program! :)

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