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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog Design by House09 {and a paint winner!}

Thanks so much for all your kind comments about my Advent Calendar Tree! It really was so fun to make, and I was excited to hear some of you plan to make your own. Please send me pics...I'd love to see your version!

Many of you have already noticed (and commented, thank you!) my new blog design. I absolutely LOVE it! I have to thank Cassie at Primitive & Proper for introducing me to Thais at House09. There are many blog designers out there, but Thais runs a full-service design studio specializing in websites, blogs, stationary and logos. She is incredibly talented...and better yet...insanely patient!!! She worked with me until everything was exactly how I wanted it (even when I didn't know what I wanted!), never once losing her cool (she is in Washington, however, so who knows what she was doing every time she received one of my heavily numbered emails!!)

My blog header went from this:

To this:

She designed a cute coordinating button (still not sure what people do with these?!):

And with Megan's insistence, Thais created my profile pic (I'm still a wee-bit uncomfortable about my big ole face staring you down, but I know I love to see the faces of the bloggers I stalk read):

She also gave my blog an overall finesse by designing cleaner headlines, adding dividers, framing photos and designing a cute signature for each of my posts. Of course none of this stuff is necessary, but Hi Sugarplum! has become such a fun part of my life and I'm thrilled that it reflects me more accurately!

I've also linked 'Popular Posts' and 'Project Gallery' to the navigation bar to make finding things a little easier. I'll try to keep them updated with all my random projects and makeovers. And if you've got time to get lost in a rabbit hole of good blogs, check out my Good Reads column on the right. These are my favorite blogs, and I truly read them all!

Here are a few more examples of House09's fabulous work:

And since Thais is not only talented, but cool....House09 is offering you guys a 25% discount on a new Blog Header Design! The offer is good for one her if you're interested Thanks again Thais, you rock!


And switching topics, I totally forgot to announce the winner of my Dutch Boy Paint Giveaway!!!

paint winner collage

Congrats Leah! Email me and I'll give you all the scoop on how to get your 4 free gallons of Dutch Boy Paint! Thanks to everyone else who sounds like there are a lot of fun painting projects in your futures!

Back to more Christmas Crafts tomorrow!

Monday, November 29, 2010

{Christmas DIY} Advent Calendar Tree

Welcome back! I hope everyone had a great long holiday weekend, and you aren't struggling like me to resume regular life! But life isn't too regular these days...not with the buzz of Christmas in the air! I am so excited about Christmas with my kids this 9 and 4 years-old, they are in the prime of excitement...and it is definitely contagious! We got a big jump on decorating this weekend; the kids are practically in their Pre-Christmas Frenzy, and it's not even December yet.

Advent Calendars are always a fun way for kids to count down the days, and have something to look forward to each day before Christmas. I spotted this Advent Calendar awhile back, and instantly knew I'd be making my own. I realized this weekend though that December 1 is days away, so I had to get it in gear so my Advent Calendar would be ready to go!

It's so cute I can hardly stand it! (Can I say that about something I made?!)


It is very easy and inexpensive to make (is there any other way around here?!). First we'll start with the cones:

advent 1

I created the numbers on my computer (using Copperplate font), then printed them out on label paper. Fold each piece of scrapbook paper in half diagonally, then in half again. Use the fold lines to cut 4 equal triangles.

advent 2

Making the cones is very simple...once you get the hang of it. I'll admit though, I had to Google the method several times before it finally blonde moment clicked.

advent 3

About halfway through this party, you'll wish Christmas was on the 10th, not 25th. But soon enough you'll have a nice pile of 24 paper cones:


Next punch a hole in the back of each cone to thread your twine through. Then punch or cut out your numbers and affix one to each cone. (I mentioned I printed my numbers on label paper. Trying to peel the backs off of those 1" circles was the most tedious part of the entire project. Next time I'll print on regular paper and affix to the cones with glue.)

advent 5

Now you need to create the 'Tree' in this scenario. I used the trusty Dollar Store Vase, some snowy looking stems from JoAnns Fabric and wrapping paper:

advent 6

Once your tree is in place, tie the cones on with string or twine.

advent 8

For the actual treat part, I raided the $1 aisles at different stores. Since I have to put two (identical) items in each cone, I was looking for fun and small!

advent 7

Then I just dropped them in the cones, and added a fun ribbon to the vase.

advent 9

The cones are hung in complete random order, so the kids will have to search each night for the right one to empty. I also added a few clip-on birds to give it a more natural feel.

advent 10

Some cones also contain little slips of paper saying:
"Go for hot chocolate and walk around outdoor shops looking at lights."
"Family movie night: ELF!"
"Watch a Christmas Special on TV."
"Decorate cookies."
"Tonight: Breakfast for Dinner and ice cream cones."
I made sure those slips went in the days I was able to live up to the promise!

advent 11

The only problem with the Tree so far? Curious onlookers!

avent 12

The kids are so excited about this tree, and are already counting down the days until starting it December 1! And I can't wait to see their faces each day when a new treat is revealed. Do you use an Advent Calendar in your home?

I'm sharing this project on the blogs listed in my Parties...check them out!

Friday, November 26, 2010

How Long Until the L-Tryptophan Wears Off???

Hi Sugarplums! I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving! We had a great time stuffing our faces, and everyone loved reading their personalized placecards. But now that the china is put away from Thanksgiving dinner, it's time for Christmas! Here's a little sneaky-peek at something I'm working on:

Picnik collage
(Any guesses?)

As soon as I emerge from my food coma, I'll be tackling this and a whole slew of Christmas projects. Of course all of it will be cheap and easy!!

And unless you're color blind, you've probably noticed the change around here!? Hi Sugarplum! got a facelift...and a good one! I'm so beyond thrilled with what Thais at House 09 has created, and we're not even done yet! We're still tweaking a few things, but I just could not wait any longer to have the new blog design up. It feels so much more 'me'.

If you're looking for a blog makeover, I can not recommend Thais enough. If she was able to weed through my psychotic indecisive mind and come up with this...then you know the girl is a saint good!

Have a fabulous weekend shopping, decorating and digesting! (Maybe if I eat some leftovers I'll feel better.)

**Don't forget to enter the FREE PAINT Giveaway! You know you'll be ready to tackle a big project in the New Year!**

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope your day is full of friends, family, laughter, love and pie! I am thankful for much, including you! Thank you for reading, commenting, encouraging and supporting this new passion of mine!

*And don't forget to enter for your chance to win 4 Free Gallons of Paint!*

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

{Giveaway} Blogger Love & Free Paint

The blogging community has been very good to me and Hi Sugarplum! Everyone is so supportive and encouraging, and I've made some true friendships...all while having the best time exercising my creative muscles. These beautiful blogs, all on my Favorites List, have been so kind as to feature Hi Sugarplum! or one of my projects in the past month or so:

The CSI Project Feature was particularly exciting. The Challenge was 'Best Before & After Room,' and I had two rooms chosen as winners! (There were some seriously amazing makeovers, and I was so flattered to be in the company of all those talented bloggers!) And as if bragging rights weren't enough, the winners were given FOUR FREE GALLONS of paint from Dutch Boy (The judges and sponsor!)

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm giving away my prize to one of the followers of Hi Sugarplum! You have made this journey so fun and inspiring, and I'm grateful for your comments and friendships everyday.

To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment in this post telling me what you're dying to paint (don't forget to become a follower first!). The winner will get to choose four free gallons of Dutch Boy any finish or color combination...shipped right to your door! I'm using their new Refresh Line for Babygirl's Room. It combines Arm & Hammer odor eliminating technology and ZeroVOC!

Thank you for reading, and thank you to all my supportive blogger friends for the features! Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Sugarplums!

{Giveaway open until midnight November 28. Winner will be chosen using}

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

{Git in Mah Belly} Sweet Potato & Apple Bake

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family Saturday. She likes to say she has us over early so we're free to be with our other family on Thanksgiving, but really she just likes 4 days off to herself! I can't say I blame her. That side of the family is loud big, but the upside is everyone is only responsible for one dish!

I was assigned sweet potatoes every this year. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite fall foods, and we eat them regularly in the Sugarplum house. Usually I just bake or roast them and serve with a little bit of cinnamon. I decided to forgo the typical marshmallow-laden Sweet Potato Casserole of the South (at 600+ calories per serving!), for something a little more healthy. I like to actually be able to detect the sweet potatoes!

Gather your ingredients:


Sweet Potato & Apple Bake

  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground nutmeg
  • 3 large cooking apples - peeled, cored and cut into bite-sizes
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup whole oats

Bake sweet potatoes in the oven or microwave until tender, but still firm. Peel and cut into 1/4-inch bites when cool. In a small bowl, mix half the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.


In a lightly greased 9x11 baking dish, layer half the sweet potatoes, brown sugar mixture and apples.

Picnik collage

Repeat the layers. In a medium bowl, mix flour (I use wheat flour), remaining brown sugar, butter, pecans and oats.


Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes like a crumb topping.


Bake covered in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or lightly browned. (I took the foil off with about 10 minutes left.)


Oh yes, Git in Mah Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Belly!

Picnik collage
(Sorry for the bad pic...people were literally waiting behind me to eat them!) 

The entire batch was eaten, and not one or child...asked where the sweet potato casserole was. I'm kind of a freak nut about my kid's sugar intake, and there are plenty of other sweets on a Thanksgiving menu. This was at least one healthy dish, low in sugar and high in fiber, that I knew they'd have that day.

Don't you like my pretty little serving bowl? It seems that ever since I whipped out these cake platters using $1 glass Ikea plates and votives, I'm always on the lookout for other things to glue together as serving ware:


Ikea came through again!

Picnik collage

Picnik collage

It would make the cutest fruit bowl for your kitchen, or you could place a foam floral ring in it and fill with flowers as a centerpiece. I declare this another $2 well spent!

Picnik collage

You can get a printable version of the original recipe here. I cut the butter and sugar, and added oats for an even healthier option. What dish are you most looking forward to devouring this Thanksgiving?

Oh, I'm guest posting over at Ten June today! If you aren't familiar with Michelle's'll want to check it out! She's my striped-wall-soul-sister!

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