Friday, September 7, 2012

Colors and Shapes Matching Manipulatives for Little Ones

This fast and easy craft makes a fun matching game for little ones learning colors and shapes.

You will need....

-Microwave Cupcake Tray (I got mine at a thrift store for $1)
-Foam sheets in 6 colors (Again only a buck, this time from Dollar Tree)
-Small Drinking Glass -that fits inside cupcake holes
-Crazy Glue or Hot Glue
-Black Marker

1.)  Take the glass and trace a circle onto foam

2.)  Cut circles.  Write the color name on each circle.

3.)  Glue circles into cupcake holder.  I went with the traditional rainbow ROY G BIV

4.)  Cut out shapes.  I did triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles.  

There you have it!  My Little Miss loves to match the colors, say shape names, and most importantly, dump everything out all over ;).  Hope your little ones enjoy it just as much.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Froggie Shower Invitations

Froggie Shower Invitations

I am getting ready to give a shower for one of my best friends.  This is going to be her second dear little boy!  Cannot wait to meet him, but until then I am excited to plan a cute shower for his mommy .

After talking with the mommy-to-be about nursery colors, I decided to do a froggie theme.  So many ideas pouring into my head with this theme.  To begin with I made these cute froggie onesie invitations

Tan Cardstock
Scrap Cardstock any color
Paint Samples in nursery colors and in Green
1 1/2" circle punch
Regular Single Hole Punch
Brown Eyeshadow
Cheap Blush Brush 
Google eyes
Black permanent marker
Glue gun
Glue dot roller

1.) Draw and cut out a onesie from scrap Cardstock.  I folded mine in half to make sure it was symmetrical.  I'm sure there are patterns on pinterest too.
2.) Cut out two onesies from tan cardstock for each invitation.  Glue together with dot roller at the shoulder seams.
3.) Dip blush brush into the brown eyeshadow.  Lightly dust around the edges of the card to give depth.

4.) Using the circle punch, punch out one green circle from paint sample for each card.  Glue to the upper center of onesie.  I was able to get 4 circles from each large sample.  
5.). Draw a smile and two nostrils with permanent marker.

6.). Hot glue google eyes.

7.). Punch out a few "warts" with the single hole punch.   Glue at random on the frog's face.
8.). Glue on your sentiment and event details.  You could skip this step if you print onto the cardstock to begin with, but I liked the contrasting colors.
9.). To make the nursery color card, I simple punched out the colors from paint samples and glued them on to scrap cardstock.  I am a matchy-matchy kind of gal and like the idea of the nursery all color coordinated :)

The final product turned out really cute.  Could work as a baby gift card, announcement, and more!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Classic Creations Unlimited: Becoming Official!

A really short post tonight.  Things are getting busy around here.  Talked with a banker, accountant, builder, IRS, state revenue, and county revenue in the last couple of days.  And today I received this...
First Piece of Mail with the Company Name!

Granted it was just a form I requested from the IRS, but still very exciting.  Just a few more steps to becoming a real business.

I am thrilled to see where this takes my family as I hope to provide financially while meeting needs at home.   As I've said before, I have wanted to do this business to have a flexible schedule to work-from-home with my children.  I find inspiration in these verses from Proverbs 31:

13 "She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands. 
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night."

 God give me strength to balance it all, following after You and Your will.

Cooking Creations: Thyme Crockpot Chicken

Just a quick post of a delicious and easy crockpot supper.  All of the ingredients are fresh or dried with nothing from a can.  Plus the chicken didnt look anemic like crockpot meat often does.  In fact, it tasted so good and looked pretty enought that I could serve this to guests or clients.

Thyme Crockpot Chicken
3-4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tsp dried thyme
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup orange juice
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 8oz package mushrooms, chopped or whole

Place chicken in the crock.  Sprinkle with thyme, garlic, and salt.  Pour on vinegar and orange juice.  Scatter mushrooms on top of the chicken.  Cook on high for 2 1/2 hours or on low for 5 hours.  Add more salt if desired.  Garnish with fresh or dried thyme

Variation:  I considered taking the liquid in the crock and adding cream, and making a sauce for the dish.   It would probably take about 10 minutes stovetop.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Home Creations: Liquid Soap Saves the Day

Has this ever happened to you?  You go to your sink needing to wash your hands only to find you're completely out of soap?  If you have a child with you then you're probably in a hurry, you crank off the top, slosh water in the dispenser, and pour the now "gas station quality" soap all over?  That was my morning.  Except for it wasn't one sink, it was four of them.  And did I mention we have no liquid hand soap in the house?

I decided to make my own soap with what I had on hand, BUT not before I filled up the soap dispensers with a lovely combination of dish soap and water.  Don't judge, you know you've done it too :)

There are lots of recipes for liquid soap making online (hello Pinterest my friend).  Most of the websites advocate homemade hand soap because of the low cost.  The soap I made today cost about $2.  Not bad.

 The basic ingredients consist of  bars of soap, water (distilled is best), and glycerin.  Having two of the three on hand, I went for my own concoction.

Homemade Liquid Ivory Soap

3 Bars of Ivory Soap
1 Gallon Distilled Water
1 Large Stockpot
Blender - immersion stick blender is the best
Containers for soap (use the gallon jug from the water)

1.)  Pour water into stock pot and heat until just steaming.

2.)  While water is heating, grate the soap.  It goes really fast.

3.)  Remove water from the stove.  Add soap shavings.

4.)  Blend until the soap shavings have completely dissolved.  If you are using a stick blender, it will take about 5 minutes.

My Helper eating peas while I blend.

          5.)  Now walk away for 10 hours.  I mean it.  Don't even look at it until the end.  If you look                        beforehand it is going to look like you have water in a pot.  You might fret over it.  Seriously walk away.  It's only after 11 hours that you get...

Liquid Soap!!!!

It was a little thick, so I added some extra water.  You could probably use less bar soap and do just as well.  It made more than a gallon of soap too. I could see where the glycerin would make it a bit smoother, but it works fine without it.  Tomorrow I am going to make enough to put a large container under each bathroom sink.

This would make a great gift.  I'm thinking of getting some of that amazing Yardley's pomegranate bar soap and going to town with it.  Would you like some homemade liquid soap?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Home Creations/Music Creations: Bar Graph Bliss

Couldn't really decide which category to put this one in since it is organizational, but I'm using it for my music studio.  So many possibilities :)

I use a prize incentive program to keep my students motivated to practice.  For every 15 minute plus practice session, the student receives one point toward a prize of their choice.  5 points for a piece of gum, 25 for a stuffed animal, 100 for a hardback book, etc.  Nothing new, my piano instructors did the same type of thing.  Usually either the student (me) or teacher (well, this is me know and folks not much has changed) would lose track of the points and both parties would end up frustrated.

Enter the easy wipe-off bar graph.

I took an old picture frame and stuck in a customizable bar graph. Cleaned the glass, and grabbed the dry erase markers.  That's it.

I love this.  You can put anything in the frame and switch it out as needed.  I see a lot of potential in the bar graph alone:  Practice Log, Growth Chart, Distance Chart, Chore Log, and so on.

It takes 30 seconds at the beginning of lessons to write in their progress.  No one forgets what was earned.  After they redeem their points, I just wipe the slate clean.  As an added bonus, the kids get to review some of their simple math skills.

I know it's not rocket science (took me 15 minutes including looking up the graph online), but I thought it was worth sharing.  Hope the girls like their new chart tomorrow when the come for lessons :)

You can find the template for this chart here.  I also recommend looking the whole Mathwire website over - it has tons of great lesson ideas, template, and more.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Classic Creations: Pinterest, Panda, Presents

We were invited to Party Like a Panda for a sweet two-year old guy's  birthday party. He loves the movie Kung Fu Panda which made for a really cute party theme.  So cute in fact that his present needed to be taken up a notch.
I got the ideas for both the card and the magnet letters on Pinterest. It is officially my first completed 
Pinterest project.  I love how they turned out.  If you'd like instructions for the card click here and instructions on lots of fun wrapping ideas can be found here.  God Bless Ethan on his Birthday and Every Day!

What do you like on pinterest?


Classic Creations Cooks: Neighborhood Catering Fundraiser

In my last post I wrote about my dream of starting an at-home catering business.  To do this, I need to raise some funds.  What better way to raise money for my catering business than to do just that:  Cook.  I passed out a flyer to all of my neighbors, with a set menu of Homemade Sweet and Dill Pickles, Watermelon Tomato Basil Salad, Potato Salad, Honey-Mustard Chicken, Frozen Smores, and Banana Pudding.  All...From...Scratch.  I invited everyone to dine in or carry out and donate what they thought was fair for the meal.

Two families took me up on the deal.  Then right before the meal, our amazing neighbors from across the street brought me an encouragement card and donation.   One sweet older gentleman came and ate in house.  We had a great time talking and had good food.   It was great to get the experience and to make a little cash for the business too. 
A Table Set for Our Dinner
Watermelon Tomato Basil Salad

Side-ways Banana Pudding completely from scratch

The one thing that needed a bit longer were the Bread and Butter Pickles, the dills were perfect, but these needed a bit longer.  This was also the only thing I had never made before.

Frozen S'more Goodness :)

Awesome Card from my neighbor

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Classic Creations Cooks: Dreaming Big

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a dreamer. I'm talking Anne of Green Gables, pie in the sky, out of this world dreams. One of those dreams I have had is to find a way to work, stay home with Olivia, be flexible, and creative all at the same time. Classic Creations has been allowing me to do some of that on a small scale with lessons and crafting, but, like I said, I'm a dreamer.

Experimental Classic Creations Logo - What do you think?
 Enter the idea of catering or as I call it "cooking for folks". I did a few jobs cooking in Camden right after Olivia was born for our church family, and I LOVED it. It pleased me so to create fresh, from scratch food for folks with Livi in tow. And the money was really good. Conviction got the best of me though - I wasn't licensed and did't want to break the law.

Practicing my catering skills for my class reunion in June 2012

 To be a legal at-home caterer in most states a person needs a seperate kitchen for their business. Not an option in our Camden home, however, when we moved here back in December I got a crazy idea. Our basement could be a perfect solution. In that one large finished room I now have a lounge/library/consultation area, music lesson area, craft area, and even a spot for a KITCHEN!!! The wet bar could be convert to a dream catering kitchen. So here we go in the process. I got an oven at the nearby auction house for in the single digits and a countertop free from Craig's list. Both need some cleaning and work. I need a 220 outlet put in, plumbing tweaked, a double sink, and a fridge, and I will be in business. Right now I am working on raising money on my own to finance the changes (don't want to take money from our family budget). I look forward to sharing the process as it develops :)

What do you think?  What is your big dream?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cooking Creations: Winner Winner Irish Dinner!

Tonight my in-laws came down for dinner. It being St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to make a traditional Irish meal. My first thought was corned beef, cabbage, and carrots. Brad, who has been to Ireland, said that the folks he talked to said corned beef is to Ireland as turkey and dressing is to America. I decided I needed to do more research. I found a howcast on YouTube entitled "How to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day Like an Irishman" (I really like howcasts, don't know how seriously to take them though). Wikihow also has some tasty sounding options.

 I decided to start with a lamb stew and soda bread. I called around to local grocery stores to find lamb, specifically shoulder stew meat. After finding out the average price was - brace yourself - $17.99 a pound!!!! - I decided that this cheap American would have to substitute with beef shoulder. I browned the beef, cooked the onions with the brown bits, added dark ale and thyme, and let it all simmer together. Carrots, potatoes, and a fresh parsley garnish completed this heartly stew recipe.


I have always wondered when perusing Irish soda bread in the store: Is that a cake? The raisin studded loaves always look like soft and sweet coffee cakes. Searching online I found a site dedicated to pure soda bread. No raisins, no yeast, no butter, no sugar. I used their whole wheat recipe with one slight modification. I added 1/2 tablespoon of caraway seeds. If they said on the site that caraway is a no-no please don't tell me. The bread was dense and delicious and so very easy to make.

 Now with two traditional foods down, I needed a salad. Something more modern too. Ireland's pubs have been having a food revolution to entice taste buds. Many great recipes flowed across my screen and then I saw the words Bacon Apple Salad. Oh yes and I dare say yes again. I fried the bacon,and cooked the apple in the drippings. The dressing was a combination of sour cream, farmhouse cheese, cider, and cider vinegar. All that warm goodness atop cold, crisp romaine was almost to much.

 The complete meal was perfect. Simple ingredients treated in just the right way. Irish eyes definitely smiled today.. Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cooking Creations: Potato and Chicken Pockets

Potato and Chicken Pockets for the Potluck

I love any and all gatherings that involve food.  One of my favorites though is the church potluck.  Members of the congregation bring forth a bounty of their best dishes.  They include chocolate pies, cheesy macaroni, and my my all of those salads.  Tried and true recipes prepared by folks who have often times been cooking for longer than I have been alive.  My stomach is growling just thinking about it.

My first adult contribution to a potluck was at the annual Pisgah Baptist Church picnic.  I decided to make a dessert, and I had all of the ingredients to make banana bread.  It came out looking exactly like I imagined and I left it to cool.  It wasn’t until minutes before we had to leave that I discovered I had mixed up the baking powder and baking soda.  Too prideful to show up empty handed, I sliced the bread up and covered it with a blizzard of powdered sugar.  Thankfully no one asked me what I had prepared for the meal.  Sorry to anyone who is just finding out who made that awful stuff that you had the misfortune to meet back in ’07. 

I have since been a bit uneasy about cooking for a potluck.  Granted I am a much more attentive and talented cook now, but my banana bread blunder still looms large in my memory.  Often I have taken the no-cook approach and arrived with a veggie tray or fruit salad.  That sounds pretty silly considering the more challenging menus I prepare for us at home, parties and catering jobs.  Now with Classic Creations Cooks starting to take off, it is time I face my potluck food fears. 

Today we had our first church potluck since moving here to Fulton.  This, in my skewed view, was my chance to make up for past food transgressions.  I made a recipe of my own invention:  Potato and Chicken Pockets.  These half moon pouches of creamy mashed potatoes, shredded chicken, and mild scallions would please even the pickiest palette.  As I prepared each little pocket, I prayed that my dish would be well receive because I was bringing my best. An empty plate and a few questions about the tender crust after the meal helped solidify this recipe’s place in my repertoire and a hopeful future for potluck contributions. 

Potato and Chicken Pockets  makes 38 pockets

1 cup shredded white meat chicken
2 cups mashed potatoes
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
Homemade pie crust, enough for 3 bottom crusts (I use a part wheat recipe)
1 egg, lightly beaten

medium bowl
large spatula
rolling pin
2 inch round cookie cutter
small bowl of water
pastry brush
greased baking sheets

1.   Preheat oven to 375. 

2.  In a bowl, mix the first three ingredients for filling.  Set aside. 

3.  Flour work surface and roll out the crust to 1/8 inch thick.  Cut out as many circles as possible. Remove and combine crust scraps to make more pockets.

4.  Place a rounded teaspoon of filling onto each circle, slightly off center.  Dampen fingers with water and fold each circle completely enclosing filling.

5.  Place pockets onto baking sheets.  Coat each pocket with an egg wash using pastry brush.

6.  Bake for 18 minutes or until golden on top.  Plate and serve

Note:  Pockets are best served warm, but are ok room temp.  They can be prepared in advance, frozen, and reheated in the oven.

Learning Everything Tip:
Pastry dough tends to dry if left out for long periods of time.  If your crust seems to be drying, place a lightly dampened paper towel over it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Creating the Ultimate Pro/Con List: Orville Redenbacher Pop-Up Bowls

Creating the Ultimate Pro/Con List:  Orville Redenbacher Pop-Up Bowls

Every year there are always commercials that stick in our brains, good, bad and ugly.  Last year one of the most memorable, unfortunate as it may be, was an Orville Redenbacher ad where Cris Angel was the guest star.  The average Joe couple was astounded as Angel ripped the top off of a popcorn bag to form a “bowl”.  To this consumer, it was one of least appealing commercials ever.
            After seeing the ad more times than I would have preferred, it did make me a bit curious (that’s where they get you, by irritating you with repetition, wearing you into retail submission).  So, after receiving a coupon in the mail, I decided to try Orville Redenbacher’s Pop-Up Bowls.


-Well known brand that has been around since 1965.  Hardworking founder who has had many great popcorn products through the year, even if his marketing team made one of the –ready the rim-shot – corniest commercials in snack food history

-The “bag bowl” did work as long as you followed the opening instructions exactly

-No dishes necessary

-Smaller portions in bag.  For me that is kind of a good thing.  Less temptation


-The regular price on the 6 pack of popcorn is $5.67.  A bit pricey compared to other brands whose popcorn contains the same ingredients

-After following the bag’s instructions, popcorn was half burnt with a lot of unpopped kernels

-“Bag bowl” had plastic-wrap on two sides.  I really don’t like putting plastic in the microwave.

-Popcorn was greasy, not light

Smaller portions with a lot of burned kernels.  I promise, I followed the instructions    

For us, this will probably be the first and last time that we buy this product. 

  Learning Everything Facts:       

Orville Redenbacher, whose first successes came from fertilizer, loved popcorn from childhood.  Redenbacher changed the popcorn business forever through hybridization techniques and keen business sense. 



An Introduction of Sorts

Since I started my company last year, I have dreamed of starting a blog.  In all truth I dream of having a multi-faceted company with a blog,website, products, services, fan club, magazine.... but, in snapping back to reality, I realized a blog would be a good start.  One step at a time.

It started out great.   I went to a class on blogging and learned all kinds of marketing and writing tips.  The instructor even encouraged us to set up our blogger account right then, and I did.  I was on a learning high after that class, so excited about all of the possibilities and what could come.  Then, I realized I had to write my first post.

Now, make no mistake, I have hundreds and hundreds of ideas for blog posts from recycling old picture frames to a delicious new appetizer (more on that to come).  It was only this post that was intimidating.  The FIRST post.   The introduction to it all.  Not something one can skip according to my English teachers (though I am sure this post alone has hundreds of grammatical errors; sorry to those educators for my mistakes). This would be THE POST that inspires people to read the blog.  It had to be witty, informative, inspirational, and give a very clear direction of where this blog will take its readers.  I started typing on six different occasions.  Each time I felt like I was being too straight laced, professional, sicky sweet with my personal stories, and not at all writing what I wanted to say.  Then I read this:

"Having bought the colours, an easel, and a canvas, the next step was to begin. But what a step to take! The palette gleamed with beads of colour; fair and white rose the canvas; the empty brush hung poised, heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. My hand seemed arrested by a silent veto. But after all the sky on this occasion was unquestionably blue, and a pale blue at that. There could be no doubt that blue paint mixed with white should be put on the top part of the canvas. One really does not need to have had an artist’s training to see that. It is a starting-point open to all. So very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint on the palette with a very small brush, and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a bean upon the affronted snow-white shield. It was a challenge, a deliberate challenge; but so subdued, so halting, indeed so cataleptic, that it deserved no response. 

At that moment the loud approaching sound of a motor-car was heard in the drive. From this chariot there stepped swiftly and lightly none other than the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery. ‘Painting! But what are you hesitating about? Let me have a brush—the big one.’ Splash into the turpentine, wallop into the blue and the white, frantic flourish on the palette—clean no longer—and then several large, fierce strokes and slashes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas. Anyone could see that it could not hit back. No evil fate avenged the jaunty violence. The canvas grinned in helplessness before me. The spell was broken. The sickly inhibitions rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since."

                                                                                            -"Painting as a Pastime"
                                                                                              Thoughts and Adventures, 1932
                                                                                               Winston Churchill

Churchill needed some coaxing to conquer the canvas, but once he made that first messy start, nothing was stopping him.   So here I go.

My reasons for creating my company and blog are two fold.  I want an outlet that allows me to be creative and holds me accountable to learn new things.  Secondly, I want to be able to generate income for my family, and stay home with my daughter.  Like I said in the first paragraph,  I have big dreams for this, both creatively and fiscally.  I have such big goals that I don't want to narrow it down to doing just one thing, so I choose to write about, and build my business around everything.  I may be a jack of all trades type of gal, but I know I am the master of some.  Why not translate that mindset into my business and blog?

This blog will rotate around eight main headings:

Everyday is Special   -  Parties, Dinners, Outings, and Impromptu Gatherings

Creating the Ultimate Pro/Con List   - Testing Products, Services, and Crack-pot Ideas

Cooking Creations- Recipes, Techniques, and Adventures in the Food Business

Home Creations - Decorating, Home Maintenance, Gardening, Family Life

Music Creations - Performances, Studio, Compositions

The Classic Creations - Crafts and Products

Classic Critique - Reviews of Books, Movies, Music, Restaurants etc

Classic Learner - New things that I am learning about and find interesting

Now that I have "conquered this canvas"  I hope to never be intimidated again either. in 1932
Photo credit: