Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best Of 2011 #1

So we've made it to number one. At first the top post surprised me. It's not about a crafty, or refurbished furniture, or a Goodwill find, not even a recipe. It's about a rough morning with the girls turned around by a thoughtful neighbor. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that is was completely and utterly perfect. Hanging On By A Thread is about balancing work and home life, finding time for yourself while making sure your family knows how much you care about them and realizing that by doing something you love makes you a better mom, wife, and friend. We all struggle at times to keep things together (we're all just hanging on by a thread), and we get through it all with the love and support of our family and friends. 

Happy New Years to you all! Thank you so much for making 2011 so wonderful for me. I am thankful for each and every one of you!!! I'm looking forward to 2012 and all the fun, craftiness and surprises it may bring!

Best Of 2011 #1


By 9:24am yesterday I knew it was going to be "one of those days"...we were already "hanging on by a thread"...

By 9:24am

  • We already had experienced 3 time-outs
  • My youngest had lost all of her TV tickets for the day
  • My oldest had had 5 meltdowns, 2 with full-blown tears
  • Our dog ate her food too fast and started choking and making the worst sound I have ever heard, I was seconds away from googling "how to give your dog the Heimlich" 
  • My dog proceeded to barf on our kitchen rug
  • My youngest had drawn all over her face with markers
  • My youngest (It really wasn't a good day for her), while in her 2ndtime-out, pulled down all the decorative wall decals in her room and crammed them into a teacup 
  • Our play date that was supposed to come over and help entertain our girls canceled 
  • I had drank 2 Diet Cokes and was contemplating drinking a 3rd or perhaps something stronger
  • I had heard more than a days worth of whining, fighting and unkind words
  • My children had asked me for a snack exactly 17 times
  • My children were already complaining they were bored
  • I was already counting down the minutes to nap time
  • We had used 4 band-aids

And then at 9:25am I got the call.

There is some old saying that "Good fences make good neighbors" but yesterday I knew that "Crafty Mamas make wonderful neighbors!"

The call was from my neighbor and friend Kathleen. She told me she had put something fun in our mailbox for the girls. Something to keep them entertained. She joked that it might not be the 34 minutes I'm used to having but that they'd love it.

Yesterday 9:25am was my favorite part of the day!

We found these in the mailbox:

Bubble Guppies printable Puppets!!!

(Bubble Guppies are a relatively new show on Nick Jr. and are our newest favorite thing. So far they have only had 10 episodes and this Mama is REALLY hoping they come out with some new ones soon!)

She also included LAMINATED collector cards

And coloring sheets too

It was just the distraction we needed.

The girls even stopped fighting long enough to put on a puppet show.

Such a great and thoughtful gift!

I checked out NickJr today and was amazed at all the cool crafts, recipes and online games they have to go with their shows. I'm not sure how I missed such a great resource! If your child has a favorite NickJr show there is sure to be a ton of different activities that you can do together. Check it out!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Of 2011 #2 and Running Like A Girl

We're making our way to number one! This was one of my favorite Goodwill upgrades, mainly because the mirror was so ridiculously ugly to start! There's nothing more rewarding than taking a discarded, unwanted object and turning it into something wonderful!

Best Of 2011 #3

Goodwill Mirror Redo

Currently my garage is overflowing a bit with some wonderful Goodwill finds. It would be nice if the weather would cooperate so that I could do a little spray painting! (Don't you think there should be a limit on the number of 90+ degree days???) Thankfully last week we had a little reprieve and was finally able to get a few projects done.

When I saw this mirror at Goodwill my first thought was, "Wow! That is an UG-LY mirror!"
A plastic, gold lamé frame that was begging to be updated. It was definitely giving off a Great Aunt Tillie vibe!
At first glance it seemed a little pricey for a Goodwill find.
A little more investigating got me more excited.
See those screws on the back??? They instantly made upgrading this baby super easy. They allow you to actually take the mirror completely off so there was NO TAPING required when spray painting-LOVE IT!

As an added bonus there were even hanging hooks.
All the intricate curves and grooves proved to be a little challenging, but not impossible. I was a little worried about the paint adhering to the plastic, so first I primed the piece with Rust-Oleum spray primer. Then I applied SEVERAL thin layers of an antique white spray paint in a satin finish. I litterally used an entire can of paint. Elevating the mirror helped make sure I got all the nooks and crannies covered.
I LOVE the final product! It's the perfect accent piece for one of the many boring blank walls in our bedroom. 
The sconce-like shelves on the side are also Goodwill finds. They originally were black and received the same painting treatment as the mirror!

Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed for more spray-paint-friendly weather because I have quite a few projects that are waiting for me!

Linking to: Thrifty Decor Chick September Before and After


My New Running Obsession of 2011

This year was also the year of running. For the first time I kept track of my miles and I'm happy to report that I logged in over 600 miles for the year! WOO HOO!!! I also discovered a love for obstacle races. Nothing like pushing your body while getting covered in mud! I see many, many more in my future!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Fav Sites and Best of 2011 #3

I'm sure we all have our morning routine. If I'm lucky, on my days off I get a little time to myself before the girls wake up and the chaos begins. My  typical day-off day consists of Diet Coke, The Today Show and my computer. I usually check in with my favorite sites to see what's going on. I thought it would be fun to share my typical go-to sites.

Here are they are in no particular order:
  • Pinterest-If you haven't checked it out yet you are totally missing something completely awesome! Basically it's a virtual cork-board where you can "pin" you favorite recipes, pictures, hair styles, decoration ideas...pretty much ANYTHING! For more information on how to get linked click {HERE}.
  • Pick Your Plum-the best site out there for crafty deals. The days deal is posted at 9am EST and on some days it's sold out before noon. It always makes me sad when something good goes up on the days I work because I know it will be gone by my lunch break!
  • Kathie's Cooks-One of my absolute favorite sites for cooking. There is such a great variety of recipes and the pictures are A-MAZ-ING! Not only does she share her favorite recipes, but she also gives you a glimpse into her life by sharing stories of her pastry school experiences.
  • The Pioneer Woman-What can I saw I LOVE PW! She has the most amazing recipes, she is honest and funny, promotes home grown food and I want to come live on her ranch. Maybe one day she'll adopt me!
  • MADE-The site is full of great sewing projects, patterns and home decor ideas. I love her bright and beautiful pictures.
  • People I Want To Punch In The Throat-This a a new fav and it's not for everyone. Most people may have heard about Jen when her "article" about the Elf On The Shelf hit Facebook and Twitter. Personally I find her other posts just as funny and brutally honest. 
Best of 2011 #3

You know me, I love great crafts, but I don't like to spend a lot of money. This project was super easy, not too expensive and is big, making it great for any big blank wall you may have in your house (perhaps the longest run-on sentence EVER!).

PB Knock-off Clock Face

When I saw {THIS} tutorial for a Pottery Barn knock-off I knew that I had to make it. First I L-O-V-E love making expensive things for super cheap AND it's huge so it is perfect for one of the many large blank walls in our house!

This is the PB version:
This is mine:
Pretty good knock-off huh?

Wanna make your own? Of course you do! It's super easy and with a few Jo-ann coupons you can make it for under $12.

You will need two large quilting hoops. I found mine at Jo-ann Fabrics with the quilting supplies. (They would also be totally awesome for embroidery hoop wall art too!). They were around $6 before my coupons.

I used a 23 inch hoop...
..and a 14 inch hoop...
Thin wooden sticks found at Hobby Lobby.
Using wood glue I glued on my Roman numerals. Remember to make sure your XII and VI are directly across from one another as well as your III and IX. You also want to make sure that the symbols for each number are relatively close to each other. You don't want your II and III to look like IIIII.
I lined up the edge of the stick to the middle hoop and let the extra hang over the outer hoop. Most of the numbers glued down easily. The Xs were a little tricky, but with the assistance of a few heavy pantry items I was able to get them glued down.
I let everything dry overnight and then used pliers to clip off the extra wood. A few sticks came unglued but I just re-glued them. Once the glue was all dry I took the whole piece outside and spray painted it. You want to make sure to paint both sides and get all angles of the sticks, especially where the sticks for the Vs and Xs overlap.
I love how quickly spray paint dries! Later that day I was able to hang my masterpiece and I am so pleased with how it turned out! There's nothing better than a project turning out just like you imagined!!!
Linking to: Thrifty Decor Chic September Before and After

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best Of 2011 #4 and One Of My Favorite Projects

So this week we are counting down to the top posts of 2011. Today I'm also sharing one of my favorite projects.

Number four is another spray painting project. I love the instant gratification that spray paint provides, but it can also be a very frustrating medium since weather conditions need to be pretty good for it to be effective. Since at times I'm not very patient I've tried spraying in gusting wind and either too cold or too hot temperatures...neither worked out very well. My chalkboard spray paint is one of my favorites. It dries super quick and you can use it on pretty much anything. It looks like it's also one of your favorite too!

Best of 2011 #4

While it's almost near impossible to pick my most favorite project of this year, I think the Super Easy Window Cornices are the most dramatic. They look custom made and no one would ever know that they are made from foam boards. Another bonus is that you don't need much in the way of supplies. It's a quick project that will transform a room without spending a lot of money. 

Super Easy Window Cornice

For a while now I've been wanting to make window cornices for our family room, but I really didn't want to use wood...that's just too much for me. Then you'd need nails, a hammer and most likely a saw of some sort AND someone to help you hang the darn thing. So I did what I always do...I googled it and found this great project that doesn't require sewing OR any sort of handy work! It was perfect for me!

I built my cornices with foam and a joke that is all it took! The best part is that they are easy to re-do so when I get bored with the fabric I chose I can take them down and easily change it!

The detailed instructions can be found on the DIY Network website and the supplies were purchased at Lowes, Hobby Lobby and Jo-ann Fabric.

You will need "L" brackets and foam insulation (both can be found at Lowes):
**Lowes was the ONLY place that I found insulation that was cut in usable panels (like in the picture above) instead of one HUGE 4ftx8ft sheet. The sheet insulation will work but it involves much more cutting and is really hard to fit in your car**

You will also need U Pins that are easy to find at your local craft store:

The fabric and cotton batting were both purchased at Jo-ann Fabric and Craft Store. The fabric I chose is from the home decor section but a cotton print would work well too.

**My only alteration to the original instructions is this: Pin the batting and fabric separately. The first time I followed the instructions exactly and I had a hard time getting the fabric tight. It was much easier when I pinned the batting and then pinned the fabric over it.

These are hanging over my family room window:

And these are in our bedroom. I bought an extra curtain panel and used it for the cornice. Our ceiling is vaulted in our bedroom and I was worried that using a print would make the wall appear smaller. I love how it turned really elongates the room.

There are so many possibilities and because the fabric is pinned you can change it whenever you feel the need! You would never know that these are make out of foam. A great project for a snowy winter day!

**Update-The boring beige cornices have been updated. Check them out {HERE}.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Homemade Tortilla Chips, Random Stats and Best of 2011 #5

Wow what a mouthful for a title! With this being the last week of 2011 I wanted to spend the next few days reviewing some of the most popular posts of the year. We'll start at #5 and work our way to #1. I'm also going to include some of my favorite projects along the way.

Before we get to the countdown I wanted to share my super easy homemade tortilla chip "recipe." I don't make them too often due to their addictiveness and generally unhealthiness, but make no mistake...THEY ARE DE-LISH!!! As you know, it was the hubby's bday earlier this month and we had the most wonderful homemade enchiladas. Nothing goes better with Mexican food than homemade chips!

Here's what you need:

  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Salt
  • Chili Powder

It's also helpful to have metal tongs and paper towels.
Cut your tortillas into fourths (or eighths). (Originally I cut mine into 1/8, but found that it made the chips to small so I finished the batch in fourths.) 
Heat the oil in a heavy pan. You'll know it's ready when you put a tortilla in and it starts to sizzle. (Some people use fancy-smancy thermometers, but I just use my eyes.) When the oil is ready put in your first batch of tortillas. You can put in quite a few, but don't overcrowd them. Every once in a while use your tongs to flip them over so both sides are fried.
You'll know they are done when they stop sizzling. Remove them from the oil (allow some of the oil to drip back into your pan) and put them on a paper towel lined plate. Immediately sprinkle them with salt and chili powder, the amount varies with your liking. After the chips sit for awhile they will not be so greasy and will taste wonderful!!!
They taste great with homemade salsa and guacamole. If you are feeling particularly gluttonous use them to make nachos, you won't be disappointed!

I usually fry up the whole package when I make them. They don't usually last long in our house, but if you happen to have leftovers you can store them in a ziplock bag. 

The End Of The Year Stats
One of the things I like about Blogger is that they give you lots of statistics about your blog. I find it pretty helpful. It lets me know a little bit about my audience and what kinds of posts people prefer and how they access my blog. I thought it would be fun to share a few random stats with you.

  • In the past year Hanging On By A Thread has had over 37,000 hits! I find that A-MAZ-ING! I'm so thankful for each and every one of you that checks in with me on a regular basis.
  • The top three countries that have checked in over the past year the most are: The United States, Germany and Canada. I've also had several followers from The Ukraine, Indonesia and The Philippines. 
  • Most people have accessed my blog through Facebook. 3,952 times to be exact. 
  • Big HUGE thanks to the following sites: Thrifty Decor Chick, Humpty Dumpty and Pinterest (imagine my excitement when I found a few of my projects "pinned" on Pinterest!!!). They referred the most people to my blog. A whopping 510 people found me through Thrifty Decor Chick!!!
  • The keyword searched and sent the most people to my site was "Bubble Guppies"-weird
The Best Of 2011 #5
I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the most popular posts in the past year. Like all good countdowns we'll start and the bottom and work our way up. 

Number five is one of my favorite projects. Sadly it's too cold in Indy right now to spray paint properly so I'll have to wait until spring to make more vases. My cousin used these as center pieces for her wedding last fall using all different types and shapes of bottles. There was even one with the bride and groom's name and the date. I love it when someone sees a project they love and make it more personal!


"Love" Vase Tutorial

Well HELL-O gorgeous!

I am totally and completely smitten with my new "love" vase!

The inspiration came from Pure and Noble and I can't wait to make more!

They are completely & totally addictive!


  • Empty vase, wine bottle or jar
  • Spray paint - I used an off-white paint with a satin finish
  • hot glue or puffy paint 

Using a sharpie, draw your design or word. Don't worry if you mess up, you will cover your mistakes with the spray paint. As you can tell, it took me several attempts to get "love" just right.
Pure and Noble used a hot-glue gun to make their designs. I tried it and was EXTREMELY unsuccessful. The letters were all uneven and I was not happy with how it turned out. I decided to try puffy fabric paint. It was much easier to control the amount and if I messed up (which I did several times) all I had to do was wipe off the paint and start over.

I found this bottle at Meijer for $3.
The color doesn't matter (and you don't need the glitter kind), you just want to make sure that it dries puffy and not flat.

I was much happier with the results compared to the hot glue.
After a few coats of spray paint I was more than pleased with the results. It is much better to do several light coats rather than 1 or 2 heavy ones. The lighter coats will help you avoid any drips or "blobs" on the bottle.
I filled the vase with a few branches from our yard and it looks amazing on our entryway table.
...Do you like the Clothespin Photo Frame? Check out the tutorial {HERE}
I can't wait to try different words and designs! I have a feeling one or two will end up in the Etsy shop (If I ever find the time to get it up and running!)