A 30th Birthday Money Flower Card

A 30th Birthday Money Flower Card.

If you are looking for a creative card and/or gift for a special 30 year old in your life, how about making them a money flower card?

I needed a special card for a very special young lady (my daughter-in-law, Colleen) who turned 30 this past weekend.  I was trying to think of something creative like the Happy Birthday Money Cake I made for my son (her hubby!) a few years ago.

For the card, I started with a piece of black (any color will do) poster board cut to approximately 20 inches wide by 10 inches high that I folded in half to form a large card.  I also used two pieces of white 8.5 x 11″ card stock, 30 $1 bills and 1 $20 bill, approximately 33 dimensional adhesive dots, Tombow Mono Multi Liquid glue, a small piece of ribbon, and some colorful Sharpie markers.

I rolled all of the dollar bills tightly and adhered the loose end of each with a dimensional adhesive dot to the first piece of white card stock in the shape of a flower.  I used the $20 as the flower stem rolling it the long way.  I then drew around the flower with colored Sharpie markers, added two leaves with “Happy” written in one and “Birthday” in the other.  I drew a big bold “30” in the center of the flower, tied a bow on the stem, and then glued it to the front of the folded poster board using the Tombow glue.

On the inside, I listed 30 things we love about Colleen.  (That was the really easy part!)

You could use this for other milestone birthdays too and create different shapes.  It might make a fun wedding, anniversary, or graduation card too.

It was really fun and super easy to make, and even more fun to give to her.

Make giving the gift of money fun and creative!

Cheers & Hugs,


It’s What’s on the Inside that Counts

I received one of the most precious gifts yesterday from my BFF, Jill…. this darling little clutch purse for the wedding.

What is so special about it is what is on the inside.

From the outside, it is absolutely gorgeous!

But when I opened it up, I burst into tears.

The lining is made from a photo of hubby and me with our soon-to-be-groom son (taken at our oldest son’s wedding from 3 1/2 years ago!)

Isn’t this such a beautiful gift?  What a wonderful idea for brides, bridesmaids, mothers of brides and grooms!  Such a unique and personal gift.  Jill ordered it from AngeeW’s ETSY shop.

And clever, beautiful, kind Jill, wrote this beautiful note.

I don’t know how I hit the lottery on most amazing BFF and friends, but I am so grateful!  And what a wonderful reminder to all of us that it IS indeed what’s on the  inside that counts.

Especially as we grow older and all the “lovely” saggy, wrinkly, things begin to happen we need not discuss, it is especially important to remember who we are on the inside.

No matter our age, gender, ethnicity, physical appearance – we all have the ability to exude a bright, loving aura.  Have you ever noticed how a person who is maybe just average looking but has a bright, positive, happy, loving disposition seems so much more beautiful?  And sometimes people who are especially physically attractive, but not kind people can become unattractive?

I love how Jill expresses it….  she sees a person’s “aura!”

Let’s make a focused effort this week (and always) to look for a person’s aura – and remember that it is what’s on the inside that counts.

Cheers & Hugs,

Child Gift-Giving: WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ

Becoming a first-time grandma recently, along with several of my besties, has caused me pause to consider child gift-giving.

It is sooooooo easy to get carried away and spoil – especially these first ones.

So I was thinking it is time to establish the “trend” for hopefully lots more grandie gifts.

I have read several places a good rule of thumb to simplify child gift-giving is to consider four categories:

  1. Want
  2. Need
  3. Wear
  4. Read

Consider gifts in the four categories – buying one of each:  One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read.

Well – let’s see if I can stick with this…

In the meantime, my bestie’s first grandchild turned one, so going with a fish theme (just because I thought it was fun), I made the above little T-shirt for him (to WEAR), bought him some bathtub fishing toys (I think he would WANT to play with), some socks (I’m sure his mama could say he NEEDs), and the Dr. Seuss Book “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” (to READ).

Happy Birthday Ben!  I hope the years don’t continue to go as fast as this first one did!

Cheers & Hugs,

Best Ever Homemade Caramel Corn


One of the things I make every holiday season for parties and gift-giving is homemade caramel corn.

This is not your ordinary caramel corn, however; and the secret is that its made with Hulless Puff-n-Corn instead of regular popcorn.


Its super simple, makes a huge batch, and I have never taken it somewhere or given it away without being asked for the recipe.


I got this recipe years ago from my dear friend, Pam, who is, by the way, one of the best Jewish “Christmas cookie” bakers I know!

Here’s the recipe, and be warned….. it is crazy addictive!

Best Ever Homemade Caramel Corn

  • Servings: huge batch
  • Print



  • 2 6-oz bags Snyder Puff-n-Corn (or a brand you can get locally)
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup Karo light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


Spray large roaster pan with Pam cooking spray, and empty both bags of Puff-n-Corn into it.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large saucepan melt butter and peanut butter over medium-high heat.  Once melted, add brown sugar and corn syrup.  Bring to a boil.  Stir constantly, and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and baking soda and stir well.  Pour mixture over popcorn, and stir well to coat.

Bake in oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool.


Cheers & Hugs,


Funsy Onesies


Book My Reservation – I’m Going to Grandma’s Onsie

Does any baby ever have enough onesies?

And why not make them funsies?!

For a fun little shower gift, I made these two little funsy onesies
for our soon-to-arrive baby girl.

Can you tell we are very excited to be grandparents?!


Pap Pap’s Perfect Princess Onsie

Just a little fabric paint, time and creativity, with a heaping scoop of love.

Cheers & Hugs,

A Diaper Pizza Baby Shower Gift

Diaper pizza baby shower gift 1

Yesterday, I went to a baby shower for a sweet young lady who is expecting a baby girl in June.

I’ve made other diaper gifts  before, but I’ve never tried a diaper pizza.

diaper pizza baby shower gift

It was really quite easy and turned out cute.   The theme was Winnie the Pooh, so I gathered every Pooh bear and friends onsie, rattle, teething ring, toy, bib, and pacifier I could find.  I then took a dozen Size 1 diapers, gentle shaped them into triangles, wrapped them in a baby wash cloth and taped them on the bottom.

Diaper pizza baby shower gift 2

I then tied a different little gift on top of each “pizza slice” and put a little plush Tigger in the middle.  I wrote a greeting on the inside of the top of the box, and attached a soft little book as the “card.”

It was a fun way to celebrate and welcome this new little one.

Thanks Luciano’s Brick Oven in Mars for the clean pizza box.  (And thanks Chris for getting it for me!)

Cheers & Hugs,

The Giving Plate Gift

givingplate 1

My BFF Jill is one of the most generous and amazing gifters I know, so I could not let this week of gift sharing pass without sharing her gift to me (and many) that is also a gift I can give.

What is better than receiving a gift you can give?

The #givingplate is a plate meant to be given away.  The recipient is asked to sign the back with a gold paint marker that is included,

givingplate 5

fill the plate with goodies or a meal or any kind of gift,

givingplate 2

and give it away.

givingplate 3

The person receiving it is asked to do the same,

givingplate 4

allowing the #givingplate to “tell the story.”

The story of its travels and those that gave and received it.

Jill spent several weeks going to a ceramic shop hand painting, glazing, and getting 20 or so of these plates made to share with friends and family.

The funniest thing about this gift is that it is one I almost did myself.

One day in early December, Jill and I were browsing at Home Goods, and I was looking at plates and started telling her an idea I had for a Christmas gift that is made by painting a message on a plate for people to give away and share.  I asked her what she thought of the idea.

She said, “Don’t do it.”

At first startled, I looked at her smiling, and I knew!

She was already doing it.

Quite the sign of “soul sistas” I say, when out of all the gifts we could think to create, we both think of this!

Mine would never have been done so lovely, so I am super happy she did it, and I got it, and I get to give it away!

Who knows – it may end up in one of your hands/homes one day!


Cheers & Hugs,


A Special Cookbook from Mom

Nicks Cookbook from mom

I have one more special little homemade Christmas gift to share this week.  This is one I was excited to give to my son, Nick.

Nick had requested I put a cookbook together of his favorite recipes I make, and especially those that are EASY, so that he will have and be able to make wherever life takes him.

For the cover of this little book, I used a photo of our kitchen in the frenzy of pots boiling, cookies cooling, and flour and sugar and other ingredients out on the counter.  I am hoping as he takes this little book with him throughout his life, he will remember the smell and feel and love of our family kitchen.

For the intro page, I wrote Nick a short note:

Nicks cookbook from mom introduction page

Nick is a chicken lover, so I tried to remember all of his favorite chicken dishes.

nick cookbook chickfila chicken sandwiches

But remembering the “easy” part, I tried to include those simple things he always enjoyed.

Nicks Cookbook page

So – it’s not a masterpiece or an Amazon bestseller, but it is simple gesture of a Momma’s love that I hope Nick will treasure.

Cheers & Hugs,


A Homemade Special Family Coloring Book

Ellas coloring book

One of my favorite Christmas gifts I made to give this year was a special family coloring book I made for Ella.

Ella is my cousin’s daughter, and we have a very special bond.  She is very creative and artistic, so I was excited when my BFF Jill shared a fun site with me called ReallyColor.com where you can create your own coloring book pages from photographs.

Since I recently had the opportunity to do a family photo shoot of Ella and her family at Thanksgiving, I was excited to make some of these photos into coloring book pages in a special book for Ella to recreate.

Here are just a few of the pages.  I can’t wait to see what Ella does with them!

ella coloring book 1

Ella with Daddy and Mommy

ella coloring book 2

Brother Mason and Daddy


ella coloring book 3

Ella Tree Climbing

ella coloring book 4

Mommy, Ella, and Mimi

ella coloring book 5

Mason and Poppy (aka Oh Rob!)

ella coloring book 6

Mimi’s Greenhouse

Check out ReallyColor.com and convert some of your family photos into a fun project!

Cheers & Hugs,


Old-Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy

Old Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy

Making Old-Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy is more than just “making candy.”

It is an opportunity to pass down family holiday traditions.

It is an opportunity to create memories.

A chance to spend time with those you love,

and a way to make a homemade Christmas gift.

hard tack candy flavors

So when my daughter-in-law, Colleen asked if we could make hard tack candy this year, I was so excited!

It has been quite a few years since the days when I was about her age and my mother-in-law taught me.

My sister-in-laws and I got together every year with my mother-in-law to make hard tack candy around this time (Thanksgiving weekend), so that the guys could take a bagful in their pockets for their annual deer-hunting trip, which always opens the Monday after Thanksgiving in our neck of the woods, and we would have plenty to enjoy and share as a special homemade gift.

hard tack christmas candy boiling

The recipe is quite simple, but also a bit messy, so we were very fortunate to have an extra helper this year in Charlie, who kept the floor lickety-split clean from any powdered sugar, butter or flying candy that hit it!

charlie christmas 2015

Colleen and her sweet sister, Katie, caught on amazingly quick, and we ended up making 10 batches to split between the three of us.

colleen hard tack christmas candy

katie hard tack christmas candy


hard tack jodi colleen katie 2015 christmas candy

We were happy with our results, and now the tradition has been started for the next generation.

hard tack christmas candy 2015

I hope you will give it a try!

Old Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy 2

There is still plenty of time to make this sweet treat and create some memories with a new family tradition.

Here’s our recipe:

Old-Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy

  • Servings: approx. 2 cups
  • Print

Ingredients:Old Fashioned Hard Tack Christmas Candy 2

  • 1 cup water
  • 3 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup Karo Corn Syrup
  • Food Coloring
  • 1 dram (tsp) LorAnn Oil & Candy Flavoring of your choice (we used Cherry, Lemon, Strawberry, Raspberry, Watermelon, Orange, Butterscotch, Spearmint, Peppermint, and Cinnamon)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Butter (room temperature)

Mix water, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan.  Heat to boiling and boil until it reaches 300 degrees F (hard tack) on a candy thermometer (takes about 20 mins).

While that is cooking, prepare your cutting station.  Cover counter or table with an old tablecloth.  Pour powdered sugar directly onto the tablecloth and spread around. Amply butter three dinner plates and place on table amidst the powdered sugar.  Sterilize scissors or kitchen shears in a pot of boiling water.

When the mixture reaches 300 degrees F, remove from heat and add food coloring and oil flavoring.  Stir until combined.

Pour onto prepared buttered dishes, dividing evenly between the three.  Let it cool for up to a minute, then begin gently pulling with scissors to edge of plate.  With buttered hands, begin to pull and cut it off into the powdered sugar.  You can snip a little at a time, or pour off large dollops into the powdered sugar.  Let cool slightly and turn over to assure both sides have powdered sugar on them, but do not allow the powdered sugar to mix INTO the candy.  Snip with shears into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a colander and shake off excess powdered sugar.  Spread out on a platter to cool completely.   Store in air-tight containers, mason jars, or Ziploc baggies.

A couple of pointers:

  • I can’t even imagine making this by myself.  I think a minimum of three people are needed to keep it moving as you need to work fast once you pour it as it cools quickly.  Plus – it is so much more fun doing it together!
  • It is HOT!  Be prepared!  Butter your hands and plate liberally to be able to deal with it, and work quickly.
  • Be careful when pouring in the oil flavorings as some are very potent – cinnamon and the mints especially.  Be sure not to breathe in directly over the pot, and have the room well ventilated – open the door or window if necessary and have your exhaust fan on.
  • Some people pour the hot liquid into a pan, let it cool, and then crack it by banging the pan on the counter or table or using a gentle small hammer or tool to pound and crack.  I think that makes it very sharp, but you can do that if you prefer.
  • If you make cinnamon and mint along with fruit flavors – store separately until you put together to gift or serve as the cinnamon and mint flavors can overpower all others.

I hope this was helpful.  Any questions, let me know.

What is your favorite flavor?

Do you have a favorite holiday cooking or baking or crafting tradition?

Cheers & Hugs,