Mr. & Mrs. Ninja Decorate for Christmas


Yesterday I put together our Ninjabread House.  Yes…Ninja…Bread.  As those who know me know, I’m a bit quirky and I love a spin on just about anything if it makes me giggle.  A few years ago I purchased Ninja cookie cutters from Think Geek to make this lovely type of creation each year.  I imagined it being more fun to decorate and plan a house around a ninja family.  And low and behold, it was!

I’ve been more sore these last few weeks and I’ve been waking up with some numbness in my hands.  I am certain I can attribute it to all of the extra activities we’ve been doing this month (moving, making treats, decorating, wrapping presents, etc.) but I was worried about my ability to decorate our Ninjabread House and still make it look nice.  I mention all of this to encourage you to not stop doing the things you love to do around the holiday season.  It is important for people with a chronic illness to prioritize their activities and make sure that you don’t overdo anything.  Also, there are usually ways to tweak your favorite activities so they’ll be more comfortable and enjoyable for you.  I’ll give you a few examples as we build this house.


The first thing you will need to build a Ninjabread House is a house and some ninjas.  I found a kit at a local craft store after Christmas last year with a pre-assembled house.  It came without the door and window frosted (I forgot to take a picture before I drew those on) and on it’s own little cardboard platform.  Buying the house pre-built took away several steps of frosting and holding until the structure was secure and thus, saved some wear on my hands for this project.

Chris suggested I place the platform & house on top of our white cutting mat so I could build a larger yard.  These are the times I know he’s a keeper.  😉

Also, The previous Saturday I baked holiday treats to make trays for family and friends.  One of the things I made were these ninjabread men.  I saved 4-5 for myself since I knew I was going to be building this masterpiece.


The larger bag in this picture with the white icing was included in the kit.  The other icing bag is mine and filled with black icing and a small tip for decorating.  While decorating I found the white icing to be very tough for my weakened hands to push out of the bag and frost with any kind of control.  Again, in his brilliance, Chris recommended I microwave the bag to soften the icing.  It worked like a charm!  Just remember to microwave the icing for 10 seconds or less at a time.  It heats up very quickly.  You’ll see in later pictures where the icing was a bit too soft to achieve very straight lines.


I knew I would also need black icing for the ninja’s and some additional candies as well.  The gumdrops, round red & white striped balls, little tiny green & red balls as well as the green & red peppermints came with the kit.  I had the ribbon candy, red hots and sprinkles in my pantry already.  I knew I wanted to incorporate black licorice somehow and I also thought that Junior Mints could function well for something on a ninjabread house.






I wondered what kind of shenanigans ninja kids might get into at home that would be different than non-ninja children.  I finally decided that they probably go through a lot of windows while the entire family practices their kicking skills.  So, I made sure that their front and back windows looked broken.  I don’t claim to be an artist of any kind so you might have to stretch your imagination with me but that is what the dark black jaded portions of window are supposed to be.



I decided to outline major junctions of the house with the black licorice.  I love how the roof line turned out with my icing squiggly under it.



I thought about making an elaborate yard complete with a ribbon candy fence (also Chris’ idea) but to be honest I was selfish.  I want all of the ribbon candy to myself.  I think it’s my favorite holiday candy.  So, instead I put a squiggly frame around the cardboard base of the house and made pretend (as I often do in my own mind) that the cutting board was just a lawn covered in snow.



Since I had the Junior Mints I decided to use them to make a cobblestone walkway to the front door.  I figured a ninja family would like something nice leading them home after a hard day’s work of kicking butt and taking names.



To add more detail I added a peppermint candy to the front and back roofline peak and red hot candies around the base of the house.  I didn’t intend to make the house white, black and red primarily but this is where the color design started to take shape.



This is the picture I mentioned a few paragraphs above.  My icing was too soft for me to draw straight lines on the roofline.  I didn’t want to re-do it so I just left it as “personal flair”.  Haha.  I love gingerbread houses that have a cushion effect on the roof and that was what I tried to recreate here.



After the lines were drawn on I used my black icing to place a small dot in each diamond-shaped void and placed red small candy on each one.  I really like the roof and I think it adds something special to the entire house.  Ninjas like to decorate for Christmas too!



I started thinking that I needed a tree or lawn decoration for the front yard so I decided to make some lawn art with the candy cane balls that came with the kit.  I like the way they turned out.  Next year, however, I think I’ll try to come up with a better idea for a tree or something similar for the front yard.



I decided to pose my ninja family as if they were taking a Christmas card picture in front of their house.  (I also obviously understand that they’re not exactly to scale.)  To help prop the ninja kids up in the front yard I used a chunk of my beloved ribbon candy as a stand behind their bodies.  I sunk both the ribbon candy and ninja kid into a glob of white icing to help hold them both in place.  This might be my most genius moment of this entire project….pat … pat… Excuse me while I pat myself on the back a bit more.




I ended up painting more clothes on Mrs. Ninjabread in an attempt to make her look more like a lady.  Although, to help continue concealing her identity I had to leave her mask on.  I used the house as a base to prop Mr. & Mrs. Ninja upright.







I hope you enjoyed my 2014 version of a Ninjabread House.  I had a lot of fun with this project.  I truly believe a few simple “cheats” make a project like this so much more enjoyable when you’re hands or body is hurting.  The only part I had trouble with was placing the little red balls on the roof.  Those little suckers are tiny and hard to hold on to.  Microwaving the icing and using larger candies helped relieve my hands of additional stress.

Let me know if you try one of your own!  I’d love to see your creative versions!



  • I’m going to finish this post and head to the gym.  I love getting back into a routine with working out.  It helps my mind and body feel so much better each day.
  • My office in the new house truly has the best view.  I keep waking up excited to work, blog and read in there because I’m loving the space so much!
  • I changed my nail polish last night to OPI’s Crimson Carol.  This is my absolute favorite color for the Christmas season!
  • I’m going to submit this post to the online Pretty Preppy Party Blog share.  It’s worth checking out!  There are some amazingly gorgeous designs from fabulous women.
    11 Magnolia Lane
  • Be sure to check out some of the contributors for this month’s Pretty Preppy Party collaboration.
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Anniversary Gift Idea


Christmas Eve this year will mark my mom & stepdad’s 30th wedding anniversary!  30 years is a long time but even longer when living in close proximity to the other person.  Ha!  Earlier this fall they took themselves to Hawaii for their 30th anniversary trip.  The kids all went in together and bought them a new luggage set complete with the 360 degree wheels that make traveling a lot nicer on your towing body.

Although we already bought and gave their present I want to do something special for them on their actual anniversary day.  A few months back I saw the cutest idea on Pinterest and decided to replicate it.  It counts the years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds that are in 30 years.  The one I saw was a digital printed version.  My version includes some scrapbook material to make it have more layers and textures.

I started with a background page/design that I liked.  Since the 30 year anniversary gift that is customary is opal or diamonds I chose the page and details that either looked like opal or sparkly diamonds.


I also found a ribbon that would coordinate with the paper detail.


I always try to layout the materials and samples of what I’d like the end product to look like before I tape or glue anything together.  This helps me visualize the design and make sure it will turn out the way I intended.



I designed and printed out the wording that I wanted to be sure the sizing would fit on the design I had created.  I used my 12″ paper cutter to cut it into smaller pieces.  Then I used a design scissor to cut around the edges of the paper and add a special touch.




I also used my 12″ cutter to trim the barcode bottom border off of my background page.  I love how you can line up the page exactly and get the most precise cut regardless of the detail design of the paper.


The first thing I assembled was the ribbon on top of the accent diamond cut of paper.  I used a paper adhesive and cut the ribbon long enough to wrap it around the side edges of the diamond-shaped paper.  This gave it the appearance that the ribbon carries all the way around the page.



I then glued the diamond-shaped paper to the background paper and centered it.  Next I worked on adding the lettering of their names to the bottom.  My favorite tool to use for placing stickers or small items is my Creative Memories lift and placing tool.  I don’t think you can buy these from Creative Memories any longer but there are similar types of tools at any craft store.  I find this tool to be the easiest to use for small pieces when my fingers aren’t cooperating or when placement needs to be exact.  




I really hope they like the final version.  I thought it was such a sweet decoration to commemorate this big anniversary!






  • The weather is finally above zero!  It’s around 38 degrees out there right now and melting some of the snow.
  • I have White Christmas playing on the TV while I write this and take care of a few other details of the day.  I love this movie!
  • The wedding planning is coming along nicely.  Chris booked the ceremony and reception venue today!  🙂
  • I feel string cheese in my very near future!
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Vinyl Obsessed


My vinyl obsession continues.  Yes those are Christmas albums you see here.  What?!  I am preparing for the holidays.  🙂

Truly, though…my grandparents called me one summer evening this year and asked if I would like a box of older vinyl records from my great aunt’s house.  I immediately said yes without knowing what was included in the inventory.  My parents then brought them back  after a trip to see Grandma & Grandpa.  When I picked them up I was so excited to go through and see what treasures had just been gifted to me.  Among the many I found around 8-9 Christmas albums and a Soundtrack of Oklahoma!

So, you see, I’ve been waiting all summer and fall to play these Christmas records to see if they’re any good or if I need to get rid of them or turn them into crafts.  So far they have all been amazing!  It’s like listening to your favorite Christmas song on an old victrola.  Somehow I’m transported back to being 10 years old and listening to Christmas music in my pi’s and socks.

I had purchased a few inexpensive Christmas albums also from my local Hasting’s store.  They carry drawers and drawers of used vinyl records.  You have to spend some time but you’ll find some treasures buried among the crud.

I don’t yet know which one my favorite is but I’m hoping by the end of the Christmas season to know for certain.  I guess I’ll have to keep playing them until I have a definitive winner.

Here are a few of my favorite album covers:


I love this one that looks like a cross stitch piece.  How telling of the time to make it look like a popular crafting technique.



I also really like this one with the reindeer.  Anyone who knows me well might guess that I like it because of the stars that are incorporated into the design.  They may be right.  I think I also just like reindeer at Christmastime.

In addition to the holiday music I’ve been listening to I finally got a chance to listen to two very special records that I found a few months ago at an antique store close to my hometown.  My mom, sis and I went for the day to a neighboring town to visit a few of our favorite shops.  When I came across these fun albums my mind immediately entered a daydream of sitting in front of the record player with my future kids while they listened intently to the story being told.  (Have I mentioned I’m a bit of a daydreamer?)

Drumroll please….I bought The Swiss Family Robinson and Peter Pan albums that day.  They both had the vinyl included.  Each of them have a story book within them, however both are missing pages.  I was hopeful the record would make up the deficit and I wasn’t disappointed!






By the time I finished listening to both of these records I was transported back to being a kid again.  It must be something about this time of year that does that to me.  🙂



  • Tonight my Dad is taking me to see the comedian Paula Poundstone.  I’m very excited!  I listen to her often on my favorite radio show, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”.
  • I’m trying out a new purple lipstick.  I’m loving it worn a bit sheered out.  It is a Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Shameless.
  • It’s been in the negative temperatures here for many days in a row.  I finally broke the pups out of this house and let them run around at the park.  They loved it!
  • Our engagement picture session is tomorrow!!  I can’t wait to start this process with my main squeeze.  So in love…
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He loves me. He loves me not.


Like many others I would pick wildflowers as a girl (mostly dandelions) and take one petal off the flower at a time reciting the old “He loves me.  He loves me not.” chant.   As a lover of data to prove trends and conduct trend analysis I wish I would have taken notes on how many times I ended on “He loves me.” and how many times I ended on “He loves me not.”  It would have helped so much along the way.  I kid…I kid…

I typically include up to $20 in my grocery budget to buy fresh flowers for my house.  I like almost all flowers that are available at my local supermarket so it’s not hard for me to find something beautiful when I shop.  I find that having something living and freshly changed in my environment really helps my mood.  Every time I wake to a beautiful arrangement on my nightstand or walk by a vase filled with amazing flowers I find myself smiling.

You would think that having fresh flowers all of the time is an expensive thing.  For some $20 might be steep.  You can get a bundle of flowers at my local supermarket for as low as $4 or $5 and it’s completely worth it.  The trick is to start playing with bundles of flowers on your own from a  cheap supplier (supermarket, flower vendor, farmer’s market vendor) and create your own beautiful arrangements for your home or even gifts for others.

I am not a florist by trade, chance or by any other means.  I just keep playing with colors and arrangements until I come up with something that I love.  I keep vases that flower deliveries come in so that I have vases for my weekly/bi-weekly fresh flowers.  Think of other vessels that will work too:  mason jars, cute coffee mugs, old planters, cleaned out old candle containers  (my favorites are the Bath & Body Works containers), glasses from your kitchen…the possibilities are endless and not expensive at all.

The arrangement pictured here is made from a bundle of $10 roses and $4 daisies.  I arranged them in a square vase I received with birthday or Valentine’s Day flowers this last year.  I trimmed all of the rose stems to the same length and I trimmed the ends on an angle.  I have always heard that trimming flowers on an angle helps them last longer.  I have no idea if that is true but I do it because it can’t hurt, right?  Since the roses didn’t fill the entire vessel I used a small bundle of dyed daisies (I originally purchased them to be in their own vase) and used them to fill the middle of my arrangement.  Most bundles of flowers come with a plant food mixture. I use this food for my arrangements and find my flowers lasting a week or more.


These beautiful little treats around the house can make such a difference.  If you can’t afford bundles of flowers to make your own arrangements consider picking wildflowers for your house.  If you want something year round consider asking someone for an indoor flowering plant for your Christmas or birthday present this year.  Outdoor plants are a great option as well if you have a long growing season.  If you’re allergic to most flowers or plants consider silk flower arrangements.  Silk flowers have come along way in the last few decades and some are simply beautiful.  Try to keep them dusted and tidy.  Nothing says old silk flowers like, well…old silk dusty flowers.

Just remember to think creatively and give yourself little gifts of life, beauty and hope in any way you can.




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Music is to the Soul as Food is to the Body

Music has always been a feature in my life since I was a little kid.  My dad loves music and I truly believe it speaks directly to his soul when he finds the right song at the right moment.  I was in band, choir and was fortunate enough to have piano lessons as a kid.  Even today  I find myself searching for the music on my radio, iPhone or record player that suits my current mood.

Isn’t it funny how music can so accurately reflect our current feelings?  To that end I enjoy music as a source of therapy and cherish the connection it gives me to myself and how I’m truly feeling.  It is so important to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and not try to squash it down or ignore it.  Therapeutically speaking music helps me work through my emotions.  If I don’t deal with them now they will surely present themselves at the worst possible time.

For my July birthday my boyfriend gave me a Crosley record player that I had eyed on a trip through Minnesota.  We stopped at the Mall of America and as I entered the Urban Outfitters (UO) store my eyes quickly found these darling record players.  They are built like little suitcases with a latch front and removable top.  The handle is functional but to avoid shifting the balance of the table inside I admire it solely as a decorative feature.


Urban Outfitters Crosley Record Player











Months prior to that my boyfriend inherited a vinyl record player piece of furniture from his parents.  We started shopping for records and we both fell in love with the music format and sound.

Here is the link for the UO online store that shows all of the various styles they have:






The case is so simple in design but really packs a punch for sound quality.  The speakers are on both sides of the bottom part of the box.  I can turn it up almost to full volume and hear music throughout my entire house.  This makes it extremely convenient for helping me clean the house.

I’m still building my record collection.  My boyfriend and I have made a point to search record stores when we go on trips to bring something fun back as a souvenir.  Since I don’t have many records yet I opted to create my own little record storage crate.  I purchased a crate from Joann’s Fabric Store for around $14 and a very tiny can of wood stain for around $5.  I chose a dark stain for the crate because, well…that’s what I like.  I think it came out very cute and it looks great with my record player on display.

Urban Outfitters Crosley Record Player

Record Crate

Some might say records are a pain to listen to because you have to get up and switch them to the other side after just a few songs.  I appreciate the chance to move and change the record to the other side or another album frequently.  I work from home and in the past I have found myself sitting and working until I’m dancing in my chair.  I’m not dancing because I feel like it, but rather because I didn’t even realize I needed to use the restroom.  Listening to the record player reminds me to get up from my desk, stretch and move around.  What might be annoying for some is a relief to my body that is in need of frequent movement and stretching.

What’s missing from your life as a reminder to slow down and give your body, mind and soul what it needs?  I’m so thankful for this little machine because it’s brought so many reminders for me to take the time I need and to slow down and enjoy what is truly great about this life.



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