Easy Flag Wreath and Wall Art Tutorial

I love 4th of July! I don’t usually do any decorating for it, but I had this flag handkerchief with a couple of paint spots on it, and because I hate to throw things away, I decided to upcycle it into a nice wall hanging.
This is such an easy and affordable project, I just had to share it with you!

What You Need:
embroidery hoop (mine was 12 inches)
flag (mine was about 15 inches wide)
hot glue gun

First you need to position the flag inside the embroidery.  Make sure that the area inside the hoop is the exact area you want display, and then tight the hoop.  (For mine, I did the “up and down” hanging flag as seen in the Olympics, but as you can see in the picture below, it looks great horizontal as well.)

Next take your scissors and cut out the excess fabric, leaving about 1/2 an inch to an inch all the way around.  Your cut doesn’t have to be perfect because you won’t see any of the excess after you’re done.

After you’re done cutting, take your glue gun and glue your excess fabric to the inside of your embroidery hoop.  Finally take a piece of ribbon (about 8 inches long).  Loop the ribbon through the hoop.  Tie the ribbon in a knot.  Hang on your wall or door and enjoy!
I’m linking up at these linky parties.


Patriotic Dessert Ideas

Since Memorial Day is coming up next week (and 4th of July is just around the corner), I thought it would be fun to share some patriotic dessert ideas for this week’s food post.  I found some many cute ideas as I looked on my Google Reader and on Pinterest.  Here’s some of my favorites! Hope you enjoy!
Red, White, and Blue Cookie Bark from Your Home Based Mom

Patriotic Cupcake Kebobs from Zen Cupcake

Patriotic Fruit Tarts from Nothing But Country

Red, White, & Blue Chocolate Dipped Strawberries from Baking Bites

Flag Cake from Make It. Love It.

I’m linking up to these parties.


Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

I’m really excited to bring you this week’s recipe!  It is a homemade version of one of my all time favorite candies—the peanut butter cup!
I first saw this recipe in Taste of Home magazine a few years ago, and I marked the page but never got around to trying the recipe. (This tends to happen a lot with me.)  But a few days ago, I was wanting to make some kind of new spring/Easter treat, so I started looking through my old magazines, and found these again.  I had all the ingredients I needed, and they were pretty easy to make, so I decided to give it a whirl!
I have to warn, these things are very tasty!  They remind me of the gourmet peanut butter cups that you order, except they’re much cheaper, and the peanut butter is more sweet, almost like a Reese Cup!  And since these are so easy to make, I’d say if you make them once, you’ll probably be tempted to make them again and again.  So don’t say I didn’t warn you!  Hope you enjoy!
Recipe for Homemade Peanut Butter Cups:
1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
4-1/2 teaspoons butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
4 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each), coarsely chopped
Colored sprinkles, optional
Directions:  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup peanut butter, butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt until smooth; set aside.
In a microwave, melt the chocolate chips, candy bars and remaining peanut butter; stir until smooth.
Drop teaspoonfuls of chocolate mixture into paper-lined miniature muffin cups. (I didn’t have any miniatures, so I used the regular sized cups and started with about a tablespoon of chocolate in each cup, but I recommend making miniatures, because these things are rich!)
Top each with about a teaspoonful of peanut butter mixture. (For the regular sized cups, I actually used a cookie scoop to measure, so it was just under a tablespoon of peanut butter.  Then I rolled it into a ball See pic below.)
Then top with another teaspoonful of chocolate mixture. (tablespoon for regular size cups)
For fun and extra added cuteness, decorate with sprinkles! Refrigerate until set. Store in an airtight container.
This makes 3 dozen minature cups, and anywhere from 12 to 18 regular sized cups, depending on how you distribute the ingredients and how big you make the cups.
This post is sponsored by Petite Rouge. Are you looking for the perfect finishing touch? Petite Rouge has it. Simple, elegant blossoms to brighten up any outfit. Dainty enough for your smallest princess. Sophisticated enough for your growing girls. Clip on a headband or wear alone.

I’m linking up at these weekly linky parties.

If you’d like to sponsor some posts on Simply Sweet Home, please email me for details.

I Love Easter Wreaths

Photo Credit: UpTown Originals
Here lately I’ve been all about wreaths!  Last month I created an etsy treasury of St. Patty’s Day Wreaths as well as a Celebrate St. Patty’s Day treasury, and so this month I followed these up with a treasuy of Easter Wreaths and another called Celebrate Easter.
Also, this month (actually last week) I joined Pinterest. It’s a new bookmarking and social network site.   I’ve pinned some lovely things for Easter on there as well.  So today I’ll be sharing some wreaths from my Etsy Treasury and my Pinterest Page. (By the way, if you’re already a Pinterest member or you’re going to sign up, please visit my page and follow me, and I will follow you back!)

I hope you enjoy these finds!

Springtime Easter Egg Wreath from A Work of Heart
Easter Wreath from CraftyArtist

Bright and Colorful Easter Egg Wreath from Always Present

Feather Easter Egg Wreath from Every Crafty Endeavor

Spring/Easter Wreath from Loving Every Second
Easter Egg Wreath from Crocheted Creations

Easter Wreath Topiary from Cozy Home Scenes

For more Easter Wreaths, please check out my treasury.


Chocolate Mint Parfaits

I love taking recipes that work and giving them a slight twist! Last week I shared my Frozen Mint Cups with you.  And this week I’m taking the same recipe but adding a little brownie to it.  The result is a yummy parfait, suitable for at home snacking or entertaining.  Just imagine serving these up alongside the Frozen Mint Cups for St. Patrick’s Day! So fun and festive! Hope you enjoy!

Recipe for Frozen Mint Cups:

1 8oz whipped topping
2 teaspoons mint extract
a few drops food coloring
chocolate mint cookies
1 batch of brownies or a chocolate cake

Directions: Add mint extract to whipped topping. Mix well to distribute the flavor. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir in. Add more if you like, to get your desired hue.
Place chocolate mint cookies  (about 3 per parfait) in a ziplok bag and crush with a rolling pin or other kitchen utensil. Or use the food processor. Crumble your brownie into a bowl.  Then layer your ingredients into bowls or cups. Top with a cookie crumbs and an additional cookie.

I’m linking up at these parties.


St. Patrick’s Day Wreath

I had planned for the first Wednesday of each month to be for my jewelry showcase, but I’m doing some rearranging this month because  I wanted to make sure that I shared this wreath in time for others to  be able to make their own for the holiday.  This is a very easy wreath to make.  No crafting tools or skills needed!
What you need:
plain wreath
clover garland (found at Wal-mart or Hobby Lobby)
ribbon (for hanging)
Directions:  Simply take your garland and wrap it around the wreath.  This particular kind of garland has a wire at it’s base, so it easily wraps around and through the vine wreath to stay in place.  But if you’re using another type of garland, you may need to use some hot glue to make sure it doesn’t come unwrapped.  Then simply tie a ribbon to the top for hanging. And you’re done!

In honor of the St. Patrick’s holiday, I’ve added this really cute clover cloth to the sewing machine in the dining room.  Here’s Dixie posing with a few of her clover-adorned friends!

I’m linking up this week to these parties.


Frozen Mint Cups

I was in the mood for something minty, when I put on my thinking cap and came up with these Frozen Mint Cups.  These are really sweet and yummy without being too rich, and they are very easy to make.  So if you’re kids like chocolate mint, you may want to consider making something like this for St. Patrick’s Day (or just make them for yourself, either way).  Hope you enjoy!

Recipe for Frozen Mint Cups:

1 8oz whipped topping
2 teaspoons mint extract
a few drops food coloring
36 chocolate mint cookies

Directions:  Add mint extract to whipped topping. Mix well to distribute the flavor.  Add a few drops of food coloring and stir in. Add more if you like, to get your desired hue.  Take about 24 chocolate mint cookies and crush them in a food processor, or place in a ziplok bag and crush with a rolling pin or other kitchen utensil. 
Line a muffin tin with cupcake wrappers. (This recipe makes about 12.)  Pour the crushed cookies into cupcake liners.  You’ll want to use almost all the crushed cookies, leaving just enought to garnish the top of your mint cups.  Next spoon your whipped topping mixture evenly into each mufin cup.  Garnish with remaining crushed cookies, and then stick an uncrushed cookie in the center of each cup.  Chill in the freezer until ready to serve. 

I’m linking up at these parties.


Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these Fun Finds

I just love looking around on etsy and have recently started creating my own treasuries.  I created a really fun treasury last week called Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. It’s filled with adorable items that will help you celebrate the holiday:  cupcake toppers, cookies, banners, and fun decor!
Today I’m sharing just a few of the items from this treasury.

Looking for more? Check out the rest of the items in this treasury.

I’m linking up to these parties.

Disclosure:  None of the shops featured in this post are paid sponsors. I hand selected all the items for this treasury on Etsy based on my own opinions. Photos are owned by the shop owners they are linked to.

Happy 4th of July!

I want to wish everyone a 4th of July! Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve made it a tradition to post some of my favorite Revolutionary quotes, along with the music video “Freedom Never Cries” by Five For Fighting. The concept of the song is brilliant and thought provoking, and the video is so touching.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Don’t forget to thank a serviceman or woman if you see them out at any 4th of July Festivities, and please take a moment to say a prayer for troops and our country.

“Those who would give up essential liberties to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” -Nathan Hale, before being hanged by the British
“It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”   –Patrick Henry – March 23, 1775
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.”
-Thomas Paine, The Crisis

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security…”
from The Declaration of Independence, 1776


Making Your Own U.S. History Resource Books

My husband and I often talk about the idea of homeschooling our children.  And at the very least, we will definitely be supplementing their education at home.  I know a lot of my readers are home school moms, and I know even more of you who are not homeschool moms like to have learning activities for your kids.

So with 4th of July upon us, I decided to share one of my ideas for part of a U.S. history curriculum.  As a history major myself, I believe the best way to teach our kids about U.S. history and government is to go to the original documents and sources, so we can draw our own conclusions.  However, we may not always have these immediately at our finger tips.  And if you’re on a budget it may be difficult to buy all the books and materials you’d like, so one of my ideas is to create a History Resource Book.
Essentially you’ll just need a 3-ring binder, and you will fill it with the documents and resources that you’d like to have on hand to share with your kids.  Documents to have in your book include copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  I’d also include a list of the presidents, states & capitals, a timeline of events, and basic facts about the government and how it’s structured.  It could also include a copy of the Articles of Confederation and a copy of The Federalist Papers, especially if you’re doing a close study of American colonial history.
To get you started on making your History Resource Book, I’ve looked up these documents for you, as well as some other pages which may be helpful to you.
Historical Timeline  – While I don’t emphasize the memorization of dates, I always find it helpful to have a general timeline for reference purposes and in order to keep track of when events happen in relationship to other events.  Here’s a comprehensive timeline of United States history, from the original landing at Roanoke up to the 2009 inauguration.  This is also a good list for general historical topics of study.
Declaration of Independence – Full text. And resource links.
Articles of Confederation – Full text of our first constitution.
United States Constitution – Full text of the Constitution, including Ammendments, signers, important dates, notes, and sources.
The Federalist Papers – Full text of The Federalist Papers, a series of 85 articles/essays advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution.
Presidents of the United States – I’ve always found it curious that I never had to memorize the Presidents in school.  This site not only has a list of the Presidents and the years of the term(s) in office, but each President has his own page of facts, including their homestate, religion, party, election results, cabinet secretaries, major events, and interesting facts. (I think it would be great to go down the list and teach about one president each week, and these facts would give you a good foundation to start and be a good quick reference for the kids to refer to.)
Government 101 – About.com and wikipedia may not be legitimate sources for your college papers, but I usually find them helpful when I need to look up some basic facts or background on a subject.  This page breaks down the three branches of government for you, and there’s also a section on Federalism and our historic documents.
50States.com List of all the 50 states. You can also look up all the state flags, birds, flowers, and seals. They also have all the state governors, famous people, statistics on the states, state mottos, attraction, and more.  (It could be fun to look up all the information on your homestate and share it with your child. Also, I think kid’s might enjoy looking at all the flags, or even reading the state mottos.)

USA Flag – This site teaches about the history of the flag and also rules of etiquette regarding the flag.  And there’s also lyrics to some patriotic songs and some links to other resources.

Other Sources:
USA.gov Government Made Easy All the basic information on the current agencies of government and our current offcials, including biographical and contact information. There’s a list of all the current Executive Departments/Cabinets (definitely worth learning!).  And there’s even an A-Z index of all the U.S. Departments and Agencies with links to all their websites (probably not worth printing because there are so many—but definitely a must see, just to give you an idea of how big the government really is).
I recommend the following two books as secondary sources: One is a history of the United States, and the other is about the Founders and the 28 Principles of Freedom, upon which the country was founded.