Mar 20, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Turtle Brownies Galore~

Brownies! I hear the word brownie and immediately something stirs deep within me. Yes, an actual physical reaction begins to emerge... and then I feel a sudden surge... followed by an unbelievable urge... for brownies and I to mergeUh oh. I guess my secret is out. Now you know that aside from my obsession for brownies, I also get a little crazy  speaking in rhyme. In fact, I do it all the time... Sorry. I'll behave.

When my kids were younger, I enjoyed entertaining them with my wacky talent for rhyming. They loved it at first, but got a little irritated when the rhyming would go on for hours and wouldn't stop. They soon discovered there was only one way they could deactivate the "rhyming momster." It was to give her a kiss... on the lips! Hey, sometimes we moms got to be a little creative in the way get some sugar. 

Speaking of sugar, I have a fabulous recipe to share with you today. These are my mom's best brownie recipe and they are called Heavenly Brownies. They really are heavenly just as they are. I took them a step further and made them "Turtle Brownies Galore-I Want Some More." It's brownie on the bottom, smothered with melted chocolate chips, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with pecans. Need I say more?
~TURTLE BROWNIES GALORE~ Layered brownie smothered with melted chocolate and drizzled with caramel and pecans~

~Turtle Brownies Galore-
I Want Some More~

Makes 2- 8x8" square pans
18 brownies if you cut 3 across and 3 down
24 brownies if you cut 4 across and 4 down

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

~Ingredients for brownies~
2 sticks butter
4 Tbsp powdered cocoa
4 eggs 
1 1/2 flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla 
pinch of salt
cooking spray to grease pans

1 jar caramel topping (found on aisle with ice cream toppings 
2 cups of milk chocolate chips (or semi, dark, white or mix)
2 cups chopped pecans

~Directions for brownies~
  1. In a bowl, beat eggs and then add sugar (set aside)
  2. In a pan and on medium heat, melt butter, add cocoa and blend 
  3. Combine butter/cocoa blend to bowl with eggs/sugar 
  4. Add flour, salt and vanilla and stir until blended (I added some 1/2 cup of chocolate chips but it's optional)
  5. Spray 2 8x8" baking pans with cooking spray
  6. Bake approx. 30-35 mins- check at 30 since oven temps vary. 
  7. Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 mins
~Directions for toppings~
  1. Once brownies have cooled off, melt 2 cups chocolate chips in a microwave bowl according to directions on package. 
  2. Pour melted chocolate over the top of both pans of brownies and quickly smooth evenly with a spatula. (Don't wait too long or the chocolate will begin to cool off.)
  3. Immediately sprinkle your chopped pecans over the chocolate.
  4. Heat caramel sauce according to directions on package and drizzle caramel over chocolate. ENJOY! :-)
~TURTLE BROWNIES GALORE~ Layered brownie smothered with melted chocolate and drizzled with caramel and pecans~
~TURTLE BROWNIES GALORE~ Layered brownie, smothered with melted chocolate and drizzled with caramel and pecans~

Hope you will love these as much as 
we do! Thanks for stopping by!

Mar 19, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Easter Photos With Kids~

Easter will be here before you know it! Easter falls on the 20th of April. I'm really glad it's in April instead of March this year, because March is a super crazy month for me. It thrills me to know that I'll be able to really enjoy it this year. Easter is such a special time to reflect on all our Savior suffered for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. What a gift the atonement was and is to each of us. It makes being with Him and our loved ones again, possible. 

Easter also has lots of fun tied to it. I have some great Easter ideas I will post soon so check back for that in a week or so but I'm sharing a few Easter photos now so you will have time to prepare if you want to use them. My cousin, Danielle with Creatively Chic Photography always has some creative photos for holidays so I'm going to share some of her pictures that she did with her daughter, niece, a friend's daughter and some cute little baby chicks. Bunnies would certainly be equally festive to use for the holiday if you have access to some.
~ Easter Photo Ideas with baby chicks~
How adorable is this? "H" and the chick both looking at each other. This is definitely one of my favorite ideas!
~Easter Photo Ideas with kids and baby chicks~
Just hanging out watching the peeps.

I love this idea of "K" holding the black and yellow baby chicks in her lap with her feet propped up. The old wooden bench is a great setting.

~Easter Photo Ideas with baby chicks~
What a sweet pose. It even looks like the yellow chick is giving the little black chick a kiss! You've got to be quick to catch a moment like that.

~Easter Photo Ideas with kids & baby chicks~
I love this great photo idea with the basket upside down giving "H" a little boost so she can check out her peeps!

Like I mentioned earlier, bunnies would be an adorable idea as well. Maybe you have some chicks or bunnies or you have a friend that does. I believe Danielle said they borrowed them from a local feed store. 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will check back to see more fun ideas for Easter!

Mar 14, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Meal Box Gift Idea~

Got meals to take? I'm going to share a creative idea with you today that I think, makes it even more fun to share a meal with others. I'm a decent cook but it's not my biggest talent. So, maybe I like this idea because it takes the focus off the food and puts in on the reason for serving. :) No seriously, those whom receive it always seem to love the added touch so it makes it so worth it when you see the look on their face. No matter what your reason for taking in a meal is, this idea can be altered to fit any situation or occasion for your gesture.

There are many ways we can serve our friends, neighbors and family when they are in need. One of my favorite opportunities is definitely sharing a meal. I love making things look pretty, but perhaps the main reason I enjoy it is because I know how wonderful it is when you receive one, especially after having a new baby. The doorbell rings, and there stands a friendly face with a smile, meal in hand and they never seem to judge the way you look. As much as I hate to be the cause for adding more labor on someone, I am instantly humbled and grateful for their time they spent on my family's behalf.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You may recognize a more common name, Mormons. My church provides many opportunities for me personally, to serve others. Of course you do not have to be a member of a church to have a chance to serve, but it's definitely my main avenue for sharing with others. 

The most common reasons to share a meal are illness, hospital or surgery (Get Well Box), disasters, death in the family and having a newborn baby. I had just such an opportunity last Sunday, to make a meal for some friends that recently had a baby. They had a darling baby girl and I wanted a creative way to present it to them. 

One of my favorite lines is… “It’s all in the presentation!” So, I thought it would be fun to decorate the box with lots of pink stuff to celebrate their new baby girl. In addition, I didn't want the new mom to have to do any dishes so I included some paper plates, napkins, utensil and cups. Here are some of the supplies I purchased.

~Before pic~Supplies for decorated Meal Box to deliver to a new mom~

Here are a few quick steps to prepare your "Meal Box" (gift box).
  1. 1.   Find a box. You may have a cute basket you’d rather use but find some type of container that is not too big.
  2. 2.   If you are using a box then fold the top flaps down on the inside so the top of the box is open.
    ~Wrap a box to deleiver a meal to someone with a few paper products so they don't have any dishes~~
  3. 3.   Wrap your box with some cute wrapping paper. 
  4. 4.   Place tissue paper inside the box where a small part is sticking out. I arranged the tissue paper where corners on the diagonal were sticking out just along the inside edges of the box making a sort of cavity to place everything in so it looks pretty in the bottom. (I arranged the paper products and any taller items toward the back of the box. We chose Mexican food for our meal so I had tortillas, chicken, grated cheese, beans, rice, salad, queso and hot sauce down inside. You can't see all that very well but it's in there! 
    ~Meal Box~ A creative idea for taking a meal to someone whether it's for a new baby, illness, death in the family, etc. ~by Crafty 2 the Core~
  5. 5.   I placed the Peeps on top where they were easy to see and I made a tag with my paper punch and some card stock and attached it with some jute around the peeps box that read, “Congrats on your new little Peep!”
    ~Cute Tag idea on PEEPS to Welcome a new baby included in a meal box for family.
        Since it’s close to Easter, Peeps are not hard to find. In fact, Peeps are pretty easy to find around any holiday. You may come up with something you like better to add in your box. Especially if you know there is a certain candy or treat that the new mom or family enjoys.
    ~Meal Box~ A creative idea for taking a meal to someone. Change it up for a new baby, illness, death in the family, etc.~ by Crafty 2 the Core~
It would be a fun challenge to decorate if someone was having twins that were a boy and a girl. You could decorate a box half blue and half pink.  

If you are taking a "meal box" to someone who is ill, you could decorate it with a Get Well theme and attach a balloon and card.

If you prefer something more general for your "meal box" could be decorated with a food theme. For example, we made Mexican food so you could decorate it like a "Fiesta Box!"

Like I mentioned in the beginning, no matter what the occasion, a new neighbor, housewarming, new marriage, illness, new baby, etc. the possibilities are endless to fit your occasion! I hope you enjoyed the idea. I hope it will be helpful in making one or for creating some inspiration for your own! As always, thanks for visiting my blog!

Mar 10, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Crochet Shell Blanket~

Shell blankets are beautiful. In my opinion, the shell stitch is one of the simple and prettiest stitches crochet has to offer. I've made 3 shell blankets but I gave them away before I could take a good picture. I know, not very smart. I kept thinking that I will make another blanket and take a picture of that one. I said that several times and the last time, I actually took a picture but it was a quick one on my phone. Now, here I am wanting to share my shell pattern with you and I only have a blah picture I took with my phone. Luckily, my good friend Kim was nice and gave me one of her shell blanket pictures. Isn't she sweet to share? The funny thing is I used the same yarn she did on one of my blankets except for the girl version with pink, white and brown yarn. 
~Crochet Shell Blanket~FREE PATTERN
The yarn we used was Red Heart's TLC Baby yarn. The blue, white and brown multicolor yarn in the picture is called, Snooky. The pink, white and brown I used is Neapolitan, like the ice cream flavor. You can check out their other solids and multicolors here.

I have also made this blanket with Red Heart's Soft Baby Steps and Hobby Lobby's exclusive yarn, I love This Yarn. I am making another crochet shell blanket with 10 different colors and each row I change to a different color. You can do ombre colors, stripes, rainbow, etc.

NOTE: Please do not post my full pattern on your blog. I love to share so you are welcome to provide a link on your blog to mine for the pattern but please do not copy it. Thank you so much! 

Size G crochet hook for the Red Heart TLC baby yarn used above in the picture.
Size I crochet hook for Red Heart's Soft Baby Steps or Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn.  

ch= chain stitch
sc= single crochet stitch
dc= double crochet stitch
shell cluster= 5 dcs in the same stitch

~Foundation Rows for both sizes~
Foundation row must start with multiples of 6, +2 (so add 2 chains at the end of your foundation chain for the height of your single crochet.) It helps me if I chain a little more loose. If that is hard for you then use 1 size larger crochet hook to help achieve this.

~Size G Hook & Yarn~
I've made 3 shell baby blankets. The first was with the Red Heart TLC and I used size G crochet hook. 
For my foundation row I chained (124 +2). It measured approximately 36" across. *For a larger blanket chain (154 +2) for 44" across.

(* For size G crochet hook and yarn I made 28 Rows so my first blanket measured 36"x54". The 2nd blanket was square 44"x 44" so I crocheted 23 Rows.

~Size I Hook & Yarn~
The other two blankets I made with Red Heart's Baby Soft Steps and Hobby Lobby's exclusive yarn, I love This Yarn (Links are above in 2nd paragraph under the picture.) I used an I crochet hook. I made my foundation row with 100 chains (100+2) for 36" OR 122 chains (120+2.) and measures about 44".

(*For size I crochet hook and yarn I made 18 Rows so my first blanket measured 36"x54". The 2nd blanket was square 44"x 44" so I crocheted 14 Rows.

~Row 1~
Sc in 2nd ch from hook, sk 2 chains, 5dc in the next ch,
*sk next 2 chs, sc in next ch, sk 2 chs, 5dc in next ch- repeat from * until end of the row. (You should end the row with a single crochet) 
ch3 then turn (ch3 counts as first dc in row 2)

~Row 2~
add 2dc in same stitch (1st chain of your turning 3 chain- the turning ch and 2dcs = 3 stitches which is a half shell cluster and helps keep things even along the sides of the blanket)

sk 2 chs, sc in next st (which is the 3rd dc in the shell cluster or top center of shell cluster from previous row. If it helps to think of the shell clusters as hills and the single crochets as the valleys then you sc at the top middle of the hill and shell cluster in the valleys), sk 2 chs, 5dc in next st 

*sk 2 chs, sc in next st, sk 2 chs, 5dc in next st, 
Repeat from * until the end of the row. (The row should end with a half shell cluster which is 3 dc)

For odd rows 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27
Follow instructions for ~Row 1~ above, always ending these rows with a single crochet. Remember, if you begin a row with a sc then you will end it with a sc.

For even rows 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28
Follow instructions for ~Row 2~ above, always ending these rows with a half shell cluster which is 3 dc. Keep in mind that if you begin a row with 3 dcs then you will end it with 3 dcs.

*When you have reached desired length, end the last row and fasten off. Or refer to the top under Foundation Rows for the 4 different number of rows I used the 4 different sizes.

If you would like a border you can add one or leave it as is. You can also do a single crochet all the way around the whole blanket and at the corners you can make 3scs or sc, ch 1, sc to give it a more finished look. You can make 1 round or up to 5 rounds of the sc as well. 

I will share another border pattern with you soon. Look for it on my Ombre Granny square Afghan post. It will also include one of my tutorials on Youtube.

Thanks for visiting my new blog. I hope my instructions were detailed enough for you. If you have any questions with the pattern or you notice I have an error just let me know. Happy Crocheting!  

Mar 4, 2014

Posted by LeAnn Johnson

~Reversible Baby Blanket~

I often get an urge to serge! Let me explain. My hubby recently bought me a serger (he scored lots of brownie points with that one.) It's like a sewing machine but what's amazing is that it cuts the fabric and a puts a finishing stitch on the raw edges of your fabric, all at the same time. If you have one, then you don't need me to tell you how wonderful they are but my #1 reason for having a serger is that it saves time. It cuts out a lot of the preparatory work that is not particularly fun for me. I just want to sew!

Now, you don't need a serger to make a reversible blanket. Of course you can make one with a sewing machine and here is a great tutorial by Kacey at Stay-at-home Artist. She even makes some with decorative stitching. 

So last summer, my brother and his wife had their third boy. Their other two boys were obsessed with dinosaurs so I was elated when I found the perfect "dino fabric duo" while visiting my sister in Indiana. Not only do I love the neutral colors but I adore what I call, dino eggs on the opposite side. 

This was my first attempt to make a blanket with 2 fabrics together. It wasn't much different than one. In fact, I didn't expect that it would be so easy so I didn't take step-by-step pictures while making it. I had to practice a lot on the one sided blankets while first learning to use my serger, so I thought I would need some practice with two. So please forgive me for the mediocre picture and the lack of additional photos but perhaps I will make a video the next time I whip one up. Until then, I will do my very best to explain in detail, and I will include the link I used for a special trick with the corners and finishing off a blanket. 
~Reversible Baby Blanket~ {by}
There are several ways to make a reversible blanket. Quite a few of the tutorials I read, said to sew the fabric inside out like you do when making a pillow. That's so much work! I love the look of the colored thread that stands out from serging so I made my blanket with the wrong sides together so I don't have to turn it inside out. Here are the directions for my version of the blanket with the link to the tutorials that I promised you.

Directions for reversible baby blanket:
1.  Decide on the size you want to make your blanket. The most popular shape is an over sized square. The ones you buy in the store are small and your baby outgrows them so quick. I believe the blanket I made was 32"x 32."

2.  Buy 2 yards of fabric (1 yard of each fabric you chose for both sides.) *Usually a yard is plenty. If you are confused on how much fabric to get, tell the worker helping you that you need it to be a perfect square and they can help confirm measurements. 

3.  You may prefer to wash the flannel before sewing to get shrinkage out of the way. At the end of the bolt where you find the width of your fabric, you will also find the requirements for washing that particular material. 

4.  Place the wrong sides of the fabric back to back. Sometimes they don't cut the fabric well or the fabric was put on the bolt a little crooked so I've had to adjust the angle of the fabric slightly and trim up the sides to match. Mostly this has been my experience with chevron prints.

*I have made a couple more blankets since this and I rounded the corners on a few. In #5 below I gave you instructions on regular corners. In #6 I gave you instructions for rounded corners.

*5Square or regular corner- In the blanket pictured above, I made a regular corner. I actually prefer them and once you practice and get the technique down, it's not hard. I used to dread corners but now they're actually fun! (When you finally get it right for the first time, you will probably scream out with excitement as I did.) 

With a serger you can not sew forward and then go over it backwards on the corners, as you can on a sewing machine. I watched  THIS VIDEO by a lady from to learn a cool trick for sewing corners. She also shows you can happen if you don't use the trick, along with how to finish off your the end of your blanket once your last two corners meet.

*6.  Rounded corner- Rounded corners are really popular right now and many prefer them and think they are easier. There are 2 easy ways to cut your corners. The picture below should help you as I explain it further.
(1) Place a cereal bowl on the edge of each of the four corners of the fabric and with a marker, trace around the outside of the bowl. You can use anything round to get the desired roundness of your corners but the line gives you an even guide when cutting off the excess with your scissors
(2) If you are using a rotary cutter (a much faster alternative to scissors that looks like a small pizza cutter), you must first fold your fabric exactly in half where the corners are matched up on both sides. (4 corners are really matched up because you have 2 pieces of fabric together.) You still use your rounded object on the corner for a guide but no marking is needed. Use your rotary cutter moving the blade around the outside edge of the bowl to trim off the edges. The best part is you are trimming two corners at the same time.

7.  Decide what stitch to use. I set my serger on the Wide Four Thread Overlock but you can use three thread. I just like to use the most threads I can when I know the item will be frequently washed.

8. Now it's time to serge around the outside edges and corners. Refer back to the previous video if you need to for the corners and finishing off the the blanket.

9.  I also took a threaded needle (with thread that wouldn't show) and went through the center a few times to help ensure that the middle of the blanket would not shift when it's washed. You could do it in several places throughout the blanket as well.

Well, I hope my instructions were helpful and detailed enough for you. Thanks as always, for stopping by. Please come again!
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