Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peanut Butter and Graham Cracker Chocolates

Warning : I chose to make these because it seemed simple : minimal ingredients, no chemistry. However it ended up taking me several hours. Therefore, make this recipe for the love of baking, not for the love of speeding through to the next item on your to-do list.

Peanut Butter and Graham Cracker Chocolates
1 Box of Graham Crackers (I purchased the ones packaged in squares)
1 Bag of Dark Chocolate Chips (Or milk if that suites you better)
8 oz. of Chocolate Baking Chocolate or Chocolate Almond Bark
1 Bag of White Chocolate Chips
8 oz. of White Baking Chocolate or Almond Bark
1 15oz Jar of Smooth Peanut Butter
2 cups Confectioners Sugar

1. Break the graham crackers into squares.
2.Combine the dark chocolate chips with the baking chocolate (broken into pieces) in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave according to instructions.
3. One at a time, dip about 20 graham cracker squares into the chocolate mixture and set aside on wax or parchment paper to harden. Set aside the remaining chocolate.
4. Repeat steps 2-3 for the white chocolate.

5. In another bowl, mix full jar of peanut butter with 1.5 cups of powdered sugar. Add more powdered sugar if needed. Consistancy should be like sticky clay. You should have to mix with your hands before it's right! MMMmmm.
6. Take about a 1inch ball of the peanut butter mixture and drop it onto a graham square. Using your fingers, push and shape the peanut butter around the square until it covers the square in an even layer.
7. Repeat for all graham squares.

8. Refrigerate squares with peanut butter layer for about 30 minutes.
9. Right before you remove the squares, re-melt the chocolate mixture.
10. This is the tricky part. The method I found best for covering the squares with another layer of chocolate is as follows. While leaving the graham on a flat surface, pour or spoon some of the melted chocolate onto the top middle. Using a knife, push the chocolate to the edges and spread over the sides. Cover all squares with a chocolate coating.
11. While the chocolate is more than half set on the grahams, drizzle/fling the remaining melted chocolate over the squares with a fork. This creates the decoration lines.
12. Let the chocolate set overnight.
13. Devour. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gift Wrap Up : 2011

We are into the Christmas season!

It's time for the annual gift wrap up for 2011. What wrapping paper should I use this year for our family tradition? (Every year each person wraps with one wrapping paper to identify their gifts).  I find myself leaning a little more rustic-natural this year. Here are the 2011 contenders:

You can see the 2010 considerations here.


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Farmlands

This is the beautiful Ohio farm that I spent my holiday exploring. Husband's family has been on this land for a hundred years.

The House on the Farm

Morning view from the house

Barns in the Backyard

Husband and I on a Morning Walk through the Fields

My Hand on the Combine Wheel to Show Scale

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday I love to take seriously.

Therefore! Thank you for being here on my blog, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, and thanks for the encouragement you've given this year. I've had fun, and am grateful.

A thought for this nice, long holiday weekend :

"Gratitude is our greatest weapon against fear, doubt, and discouragement." - Strong Challenge

Love to everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Party Activities 2011

Each year we have a Friends' Thanksgiving Dinner on the weekend before the national Thanksgiving holiday.

To segment the evening, we had a few activities : Thanksgiving Trivia and Thankful-For-You cards. They were just little additions to the event. I thought I'd share them, in case you are looking to spark conversation about Thanksgiving at your celebrations! Download them at the links below; they are set up in printable format.

Thanksgiving Trivia 8.5x11" : Download
Thanksgiving Trivia Answer Key :  Download

Thankful-For-You Encouragement Cards : Four cards on 8.5x11" : Download


Monday, November 21, 2011

A Pumpkin Cake

The holidays are coming and my life is swirling out of control! Every moment from now until Thanksgiving is packed with freelance, photography, packing, gift buying...I love it and I don't.

Hopefully I can squeeze in a few posts.

I made this pumpkin shaped cake for a party this weekend. Though it looks hefty, it's very easy. I used two boxed spice cakes, a bundt pan (twice...once both cakes are cool, one flips on top of the other to make the round shape), and simple homemade buttercream frosting. The leaves are a clay-like mixture of buttercream and melted white chocolate. 

My cakes-piration came from

Also! I just joined Twitter! Tweet me @Lisa_Langenhop


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The UpCycled Pillow

I'm am so excited to introduce The UpCycled Pillow!

The UpCycled Pillow is a side project of mine, born out of my distress as I watched beautiful designer fabric scraps be discarded at my manufacturing job. Small pieces of expensive, high-end fabrics are deemed unusable once they no longer fit any of the product patterns and are trashed. Strike the distress!

I have set out to find a use and home for these remnants. I am creating decorative pillow cases and selling them via Etsy. Because I get the fabric for extremely low cost compared to their designer retails, I can pass the savings on to the buyer.

Brand name fabrics, less waste, inexpensive. win. Win. and WIN.

I will be loading new pillow cases every day or so through the holidays and will post each addition to the new Facebook page. Like it to keep track of what goes live for sale. Remember each pillow is one of a kind!

PS. I'll be having my first every giveaway next week. Can't wait!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Something Money-Savvy for Friday

Did anyone else have a nasty week at work? This girl did. But it is the month of Thanksgiving, so instead of complaining, I am going to exercise my grateful muscle:
1. It is good to have a steady job.
2. It is good not worry about finances because I have a steady job.
3. I am thankful of jeans every day at work.
4. I like the pretty colors and fabrics I get to deal with at work.
5. I am thankful my mom is visiting this weekend!

Okay, feelin' better.

I've had a rush of motivation for DIY these last few weeks, and when I came upon this post from HuzzahVintage, I was totally inspired. Such a functional DIY. This Surf Spray by Bumble and Bumble is almost always in my hair. I love the natural beach texture it creates. But of course, it is pricey. 

Photo via HuzzahVintage
When I run out, I'm going to try the homemade version! Check out the recipe on HuzzahVintage.

Here's the week's recap. This was one of my favorite blogging weeks in a while....hmmm. Maybe back week at work = good week blogging?

DIY Twig Wreath, rustic style!

Backyard composting is much easier that I expected!

My first guest post! 6 Five-Minute Ways to Spark Creativity. 
Or you can go right to the post on Daily-Sips.

Everyone have a Money-Savvy weekend!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Post : This time it's me!

You know I love hosting guest posts here. Share the knowledge I say! It's my favorite part of hosting a blog I believe. You can imagine therefore, how excited I was to be asked to be a guest blogger!

Kelley of Daily-Sips invited me to write a little something about creativity. (If you remember, Kelley recently guest posted for us here, about how to be a level-headed super-star of couponing.)

Stop on by Daily-Sips today to check out my post : 
6 Five-Minute Ways to Spark Your Creativity

I'll give you some might include high heels, memory lane, and spontaneous dancing. It's actually a lot more reasonable than that list just made it sound.

If you are here from Daily-Sips, welcome! I'm excited to get to know you! Please feel free to introduce yourself.

My mom is visiting this weekend. Welcome mom! In honor of that, here's the best family photo we've taken in recent years : 

I come by it honest.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Easy Backyard Compost

My backyard in the fall! 

We've been meaning to start a compost pile for quite a while. After researching, it's actually easier than I expected. The first layer is dried leaves, so autumn is actually a great time to start composting. Here are the steps to our simple compost pile. 

I cleared out this tall plastic bin (24" tall or more) from the basement. It's important that the lid seal completely. 

Flip the the bin over and drill 8-10 holes into the bottom. 

Fill the bottom with dried leaves (this time wonderfully raked up by Husband). Fill it about 1/3 full. The leaves will compress when you load the next layers. 

Shovel in dirt until the bin is approximately 1/2 full. 

Mist the dirt until damp but not wet. Too much water can cause that horrible compost smell. Replace the lid and drill another 8-10 holes into the top. Place in a shady place. Throw in biodegradable table scraps and stir slightly each time. This is a list of things to never compost, including bread, dairy, and meat products.

It's done! So simple! The garden will love us next spring. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

DIY : Rustic Twig Wreath

Inspired by this post from The Painted Hive, I created a wreath for our front door!! It's kind of a big deal people...this is the first effort I've ever put forth on decorating the exterior of our house.

I love its rustic, natural style. The twigs came from our backyard fire kindling pile, so there's a nice homey touch too!

The supplies are simple : twigs, hot glue, twine, and some sort of round base. Even a cut out cardboard doughnut would suffice. I sliced mine in half to create a flat face. Also, now I can make another wreath some day!

Using the hot glue, wrap the base with twine. The twine hides the base, but also gives the hot glue a strong texture on which to cling

Arrange the sticks around the base. Use diverse lengths. After you are satisfied with the arrangement, glue all the sticks down! I went back around and added really short twigs on top of the first layer to build some depth.

The best part? It is supposed to look messy and natural! Imperfections welcome!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Something Empowering for Friday

FRRRIIIIIIIDAAAAAAAY! Hello Friday! Hello impending weekend! I rejoice because I can finally speak and feel up for some actual activity! (I have been wicked sick.) It is fall, and we have a wide open weekend.

Yahoo Vitality (yes, the section of dedicated to experienced live-ers {over 40}) publishes a great series of short videos showcasing people that have found their passion. I spent a solid hour watching these videos, called Second Act. They really inspired me! Some of my favorites are below, but they have over 30 videos, each showcasing a different kind of accomplishment.

Rutger Family

Nathan Sawaya

Donald Arthur

If you are looking for a character and motivation boost, check these out.

This weeks recap :

DIY Katy Perry Costume for Halloween this year.

Awesome guest post from Daily-Sips about smart coupon shopping!

Everyone have an empowering weekend!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quick Tips for Big Savings with Coupons

It's guest post day again! My favorite day! Kelley of Daily-Sips is one of my dear high-school friends.  Though we live far apart now, I've been able to observe Kelley grow into one amazing and creative mom for her sweet son LB. I'm always impressed by how Kelley brings energy and joy to living a healthy and responsible life.

These are some of Kelley's tips on how to reasonably shop with coupons, and save significant amounts of money weekly for only a small time investment. I'm so impressed!

Thanks so much for sharing Kelley! You are lovely!


Photo Credit
I am beyond thrilled to be guest blogging on here! I cannot say enough about how wonderful Lisa is. She is talented in all things home-making and she makes everyone who knows her wish
they were her neighbor. (Or at least I have always wished that and know quite of a few of our High School friends do too.) Lisa knows how to throw one mean party, bake up a storm, and decorate a house beautifully. So all you who get to live by her please know, I am extremely jealous and you should take full advantage of every invite Lisa gives you.

Lisa asked me to come on over and share with you all how to save money via the world of couponing. So without further ado...

When you hear the world couponing I am sure one of the first images that comes to mind is the show Extreme Couponing on TLC. I am here to tell you that couponing is nothing like that show, at least for most people. I do not stock pile. I do not spend 5 hours per trip in the grocery store. I also do not spend hours upon hours a week collecting and cutting coupons. I simply use coupons in order to save money on things that we need so that we can use the savings for things we want. Basically I look at the money we have and see the best way to use it in order for our family to eat balanced, healthy, and satisfying meals.

I refer to myself a money savvy mom. And I want you all to be savvy smart in the grocery store too!

Here are some of the things I have found to be helpful to achieve savvy grocery shopping.

~1~ a coupon organizer. Here is what I use, all these pages can be found here. Check out TheKrazyCouponLady website for more tips.

~2~ a newspaper. Seriously, the best coupons are found in there. I spend about 30 minutes every week clipping and organizing the coupons.

~3~ Online coupons. There are quite a few good coupon sites out there. If you don't get the Sunday paper, or even if you do going to,, and can yield you some great coupons.

~4~ Deal sites. My favorite site to get the deals off of is She organized them by store and deals so it makes it super easy to plan your trip. I always go on there before heading to Target and check over the deals she has posted so I can get the best deal, or pick up any item I may have missed while planning my trip. Another good one is On Saturdays she does a post about what coupons you will find in the Sunday paper. That way, if you do not get the paper you can decide if it is worth the few dollars to go out and buy one that week.

~5~ Store Coupons. Often times stores have special store only coupons. Target for example has store coupons that you can print off from here. Store coupons are great because you can pair it with a manufacturer one (that you clipped from sundays paper or from an online site). This is the way you save the most money. The other day I got quite a few things for almost free by pairing up store plus manufacturer coupons. And a few of those things were Dove products. Just so you know it wasn't no-name brands or things you may not use.

~6~ Menu Planning. Once I know what is on sale and what coupons I have, I plan out our menu. I plan for 2 weeks at a time and shop accordingly. I spend about 1 hour planning out our meals. First, I go through our pantry and deep freeze and then look at what is on sale and base our menu around that. We are blessed to have a great garden which saves us a ton on produce and herbs. We do not grow any fruit so I tend to spend about $10/week on fresh fruit but all our vegetables are home-grown and cost pennies on the dollar. I also visit the local farmers market to stock up on any extra vegetables we want that we don't grow.

~7~ Planning out your trip. I have tried to get better at this part. Basically I go through the ads for the week and see which things we need to get. Then I make a list by store. Pretty much I do all my shopping from either Target or Hy-Vee(our local grocery store). I get their ads on Wednesday then pair the best deals with my list and head out. I go to target about every week and then Hy-Vee every other week or so unless they have a great deal.

I save on average between 20-50% a trip. I am not one of those people who stockpile, mainly because we do not have the room for it and I don't like driving all over town just to get one item for free. I have also found that almost everything goes back on sale at some store in a month or two and I can wait. We don't go through more than a stick of deodorant in a month so I don't find the need to have 10 laying around. I also buy lots of fresh fruits, which rarely has coupons with it so we don't save as much there. But a 20% or 50% saving is still a huge deal to me and it has helped our family save quite a bit each month. My method of couponing may not be best for you, if you want to get rid of your grocery bill completely. My goal though is to stay under our $300 budget for the month so that's what I shoot for. Last month I was $80 under that. I find that pretty great. That's $80 we have in our savings account that we would have otherwise lost. Almost $1000 at the end of the year. If you count all the money I saved a target last month on toiletries and other necessitates it is closer to $140 I save last month. Not too shabby. 

I am sure we all can think of things we can use that money for instead. I hope this helps you see how easy saving a few dollars is each month. And please email me ( if you have questions or I left something out you were wondering about.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

DIY Katy Perry Costume

Hello and happy Halloween! Oh wait, did I miss it? Ahem, happy November 1! (Oh my holy goodness. Novermber already?)

In my world, 2011 was the year of the modest pop star costumes.

Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Ke$ha all hit the streets of Cincinnati this weekend. Best news? My Katy Perry costume cost me a total of $15. Here's the break down.

A. Heart Headband from California Girls video (instructions below): $3.00

B. Blue wig on for 50% off: $6.00

C. Pink floral shirt from the closet : $0

D. High waisted-shorts : $.50 These were a pair of jeans that didn't fit correctly. I cut off the legs, and used the fabric to sew a waist band that Velcroed® in the back. Because it's the same fabric, the band just appears to be a part of the shorts themselves. I bought pink heart buttons and sewed them to the front for a faux zipper.

E. Gummy Bear Jewlery : I count this a nil because we ate the rest of the gummies.

F. Tights from the closet...It's cold outside! : $0

G. Pink Heals with Candy decorations (details below) : $5.50

DIY Katy Perry Heart Headband :
Supplies needed:
1. Pressed Paper box in the shape of a heart. I bought mine at Michaels. Approximately 4". Discard the lid.
2. Medium width headband.
3. One piece of blue glitter scrapbook paper
4. Tacky glue

Instructions :
Outline the heart on the back of the scrapbook paper twice, add about 3/4" to each outline, and cut. Using the tacky glue, cover both sides of the box with the glitter paper, folding over the edges and gluing them to the sides. Cut a long strip of blue paper that matches the width of the heart. Starting at the top-middle of the heart, glue the paper around the edges of the box.

Now use a sharp knife or scissors to cut two slots, the first about an inch from the bottom of the heart, the second about 3/4" from the first. Twist the knife to widen the slots.  Shove the headband into the top slot and push it through the bottom slot. Pull through until the the heart is about 2/3 of the way up on the headband.

Now just cover that headband with the remaining blue paper, and you've got a Katy Perry headband!

 Candyland Shoes and Jewelry :
 Many stores have sales on last year's Christmas supplies right now. I lucked out at Hobby Lobby and found candy Christmas ornaments for 50% off.

I tied the cake and two candy ornaments to my shoes with thin blue ribbon (after I used baggies to make the candies look like peppermints).

The candy to the left I turned into a ring, also just with the blue ribbon. The gummy bear bracelet is simply really gummies that I ran a threat through with a needle. So simple!

I hope everyone had a safe, honorable, happy Halloween! There's an exciting guest post in the works for tomorrow!

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