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Ahhh, Nuts!


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My husband and I were talking the other night about those odd little things we associate with the holidays and the subject of nuts came up.  So today when I made my colossally big grocery shopping trip I picked up a mix of  the Christmas classics (Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts).  I beamed with anticipation while I held up the bag of mixed nuts for my husband to see as if I was holding up a fresh kill and saying “look, look what I got for you!”
“Man, why didn’t you get the kind with salt on them.”
“What?” (I was still smiling like an idiot.)
“Some peanuts, with the salt on them.”
“Because that’s not Christmas, #@$%&*” (Again, still smiling like an idiot.)
Despite everyone’s disappointment we still had nuts after dinner. The kids hated them.  Sure, it was fun cracking them open and using the little pick to perform meticulous ‘operations,’ but other than that, eh.  

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How NOT to Freeze Your Banana Bread


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To get myself in that baking mood I decided to take some bananas out of the freezer* and make up my farmer’s market sized batch of banana bread.

Everything went well, I’ve posted the recipe below.  It wasn’t until I was trying to decide how to freeze the loaves that I ran into a bit of trouble.  I’m blaming my little sister, because she kept me on the phone discussing how well the imagery of the Holocene video matches the lines and sentiment of the song.  I mean that’s distracting right?  Deep thoughts like that running through your brain and then to be faced with how to freeze banana bread? 

So I had a brilliant idea!  While reaching for the plastic cling wrap I spotted the vacuum sealer rolls.  Yay, I’ll vacuum seal them!  I don’t get to use this little gadget that often so I was really excited that I’d thought of it.  I cut the length I needed, sealed up one end, slid in the loaf of bread, and then started up the vacuum process. 

I hadn’t yet frozen these lovely, fluffy, poufy, soft, moist loaves but surely they were still going to maintain their superb shape once I turned on that lovely machine.  Surely.

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For a very long time the shape of the bread did hold up under the powerful suction and I actually had a feeling that everything was going to be okay.  Then in about 5 seconds it turned into what you see above.  Don’t worry, I did learn my lesson.  The rest were wrapped in plastic wrap - then a paper bag, dated, and put into the freezer.

Besides being an easy and sweet treat for the family banana bread also makes a great food gift if you’re in a pinch!

Farmer’s Market Banana Bread (4-6 loaves)

Ingredients

  • 7 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/3 cup of shortening ( I like to use the butter flavored)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 4 cups mashed bananas
  • 8 eggs
  • 1  cup of chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees and spray 4-6 loaf pans.  After buying a number of loaf pans this summer I’ve found I actually prefer using the super cheap aluminum ones.  They are smaller so I can get six loaves out of one batch.

Cream the sugar and shortening.  Add in half the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Next mix in the milk and bananas before adding the rest of the flour.  Mix until everything is well incorporated.  Finally add the eggs one at a time and then add the nuts if that’s your thing.

Evenly distribute the batter between your pans, sprinkle with a handful of nuts, and bake for 45-60 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test.

 

*This past summer when I was baking for the Farmer’s Market, I learned about freezing bananas.  So now when the overripe bananas are 29 cents a pound I buy a bunch or two and through them in the freezer once I get home.  They will instantly turn brown but when you take them out to thaw they will liquefy inside their skins.  For real.  I don’t even need to mash them anymore I just cut off the tops and poor them into the bowl.  The ones shown below are ALMOST thawed.

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Hats Off for the Holidays


Wow, has it really been a week since last I posted?  Like everyone else in the free world I’ve been busy.  So, so, busy.  Okay, not really.  I mean yeah there are things to do but that hardly means I’m busy?  Maybe I’ll save my annoyance with the ‘busy’ phenomenon for another day because today I want to show you what I HAVE been working on!  HATS!

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Kids Craft: Toilet Paper Roll Owls


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During the ornament challenge I showed off an owl ornament the kids and I made using beans, acorns, and seeds.  Truth be told I was out of hot glue sticks at the time and didn’t get to make the little critters exactly how I wanted.  But now the glue sticks have been restocked and I’ve finally got the little owl family I had envisioned. 

These birds make me think of macramé and 1970’s string art…and I love them!  Here’s a much better tutorial on how you can make your own! 
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Chalk Cloth Gift Tags


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This weekend I started tackling my Christmas crafting by knocking out the easiest project on the list.  Chalk cloth gift tags aren’t just clever, they’re reusable and a cinch to make! 
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Challenge Follow-up


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If I never see another ornament…just kidding.  I may be a little burned out but I’ve still got other holiday crafting ideas up my sleeve and you can be sure I’ll be sharing them.

The Challenge…ahh, where to begin?  Instead of drawing even more attention to the misses I’m going to go over my three favorite ornaments. 

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NUO Challenge – The Last One


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Wow, what a crazy month it’s been!  There’ve been some hits and some misses, but the good news is I’m ending this challenge on a hit!  Lisa from Lisa’s Craft Blog suggested I try an ornament from her site.  When I visited there were so many to choose from!  Finally I decided to try my hand with a Ribbon Christmas Tree but of course I put my own spin on it!

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NUO Challenge Ornament #22


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This might be the easiest ornament to date and I know it smells the best!  I love the orange and clove ornament idea but there’s no way I can hang an entire orange on the tree and not expect it to fall off.  So instead I sliced up an orange, and let the kids fill them with cloves and anise stars.  I’m letting them dry a bit before hanging.  Here’s hoping everything stays intact!

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For more on the inspiration behind this Challenge click here.

Follow this link and check out my Linky Parties page for a listing of parties I participate in.

 

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NUO Challenge Ornament #21 Felt-Challenged


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Well we’re in the final stretch and I guess now is as good a time as any to admit that I’m felt-challenged.  No matter how hard I try my circles are always off and when I try to correct them I usually make matters worse.  This story has a happy ending though, because this time I managed to create something I’m not afraid to share, felt garland!

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NUO Challenge #20 Origami Dresses



I received an origami dress ornament a couple of years ago as part of an ornament swap and it is simply one of my favorite.  While I can’t make the fancy hanger it came on, I can recreate the dress with vintage book pages to add a little feminine whimsy to our tree!
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NUO Challenge #19 The Sewing Loft


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I want to give a big Thank You to Heather from The Sewing Loft for giving me a

day off during this challenge and all her great ornament ideas!

Head over to The Sewing Loft and check out the new 3-D ornaments she's made!

See ya Friday!

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NUO Challenge Ornament #18 MORE PAPER!


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Let’s face it paper ornaments are much easier when you’re crafting with kids.  So yes, this is another paper ornament! 

 How About Orange was one of the first blogs I fell in love with and she’s got a ton of great ornament tutorials.  This ornament is another one of my favorites.  Ours are made from vintage book pages and not nearly as pretty as hers but I still had fun with this one!

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NUO Challenge Ornament #17 Stash Cans


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This was a last minute, ornament replacement, and like always it turned out much better than my original plan.  See, my goal was to make paper nests by winding scraps of newspaper and gluing along the way. Unfortunately I over-estimated my children’s coordination and at 3 p.m. this afternoon had NOTHING to show for it! I didn’t even have a good mess-up.  Just a couple kids with glue and newsprint all over their fingers. 
Coffee to the rescue.  Here’s my confession, I’ve got an addiction to Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk…in my coffee.  It’s not something I’m proud of and yes I have read how many calories are in just ONE tablespoon of that wonderful concoction (for the record I delude myself by buying the fat free version.)  Anyway, I’m left with a bunch of cute little cans that I’ve been wanting to turn into little stash cans!  Thankfully the kids were able to get these made in no time!
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NUO Challenge Ornament #16 Caged Animals


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These ornaments are very roughly based on a class I took at TCC, taught by Brenda Schweder.  I had to rework the wire a bit after the kids got done but I’m still pretty happy with the results.  I think it would’ve worked better if we’d had used smaller items with more wire!

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NUO Challenge Ornament #15 –Martha’s Loops


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Yes, this is inspired by a Martha ornament…see! Of course her's are perfectly symmetrica. The basic concept behind this ornament lends itself to any decorating style, notice the vintage book pages, and gives the opportunity for playing around.  Keep reading and I promise this you’ll see what I mean!

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NUO Day 14 - What Kind of Ornament Has Heather Made?


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I’m taking the day off but head on over to The Sewing Loft and see what kind of ornament Heather is whipping up!

See ya Friday!

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NUO Challenge #13 Uncle Chris’s Snowflakes


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This is an ornament I’ve wanted to make since I first saw it on How About Orange, many years ago.  For one reason or another it never seemed to happen.  Then my brother, Chris, tried to explain this awesome ornament he thought the kids and I would like to make.  I thought it sounded familiar but it wasn’t until I watched his tutorial that I realized it was the same ornament!  No more excuses – it’s time to make this paper snowflake ornament.

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NUO Challenge Ornament #12


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Ornament #10 left me feeling cheated, #11 was cute but the mess and awkwardness of it just…eh.  See below for more about them and the final pictures.  On to Ornament #12 Vintage Santa!

This ornament is mix of three different common crafting techniques; juice lids, accordion folded medallions, and vintage images doused in glitter!  Hope you like them!

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NUO Challenge Ornaments #10 & #11


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I’m going to go over the prep work for both today’s and tomorrow’s ornament.  While they are both relatively easy, they require drying time.  Ornament #10 is a Borax crystal icicle and ornament #11 is a twine ball.  

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NUO Challenge Ornament #9 Owww, I mean Owls


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**First, don’t forget to thank a Veteran today.  Yay, Veteran’s Day and I’m NOT working at a parade.  **

Yes, I meant to say that, Owww, and Owls.  Last week I had a tooth break, it was beyond repair and pulled this past Tuesday.  Sniff…it hurts more now than last week, whimper, even my ear is hurting.  Deep breathe, but back to the ornaments. 

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NUO Challenge #8


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I’m taking the day off but head on over to The Sewing Loft and see what kind of ornament Heather is whipping up!

See ya Friday!

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NUO Challenge Ornament #7 Medallions


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Remember yesterday when I said the kids didn’t want to make an ornament so they came up with the lion.  This is the ornament they didn’t want to make.

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NUO Challenge Ornament #6 Paperback Lions


Okay, okay first off, cut me some slack on the magazine cut-outs, it was a long weekend!  I guess I should’ve shared a better picture…there’s one at the end of this post. 

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Back to the sixth ornament, Paperback Lions.  I wish I could take credit for this but it was really all the kids.  I had taken out my box of supplies, i.e. things I rescued from the recycling basket, and an ornament I wanted the kids to try to make.  Once they looked at it they said no, it’s boring.  Then Essie pointed out that it looked like a lion’s mane.  Well, we all started playing and creating and this is what we came up with. 

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NUO Challenge Ornament #5 Magazine Cut-outs


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I had every intention of taking some time this weekend to get ahead on this challenge, I swear!  But then I broke a tooth.  So I’ve been a sort of drug-induced haze, and it’s not helping my to-do list!  Still, I was able to get the kids behind this one, mostly because they’ve all wanted to try out the sewing machine!  It’s a pretty simple idea, and while it doesn’t match my ‘tree theme’, these ornaments will help decorate our home in another way you’ll just have to wait to see!

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NUO Challenge Ornament #4 Okra on a Stick


007 Okay, I can’t claim this ornament as my own, Clara from the Pulaski County Farmer’s Market gave me the idea when we were talking about what to do with okra that had gotten too large.  Why did it get too large you ask?  Because we don’t eat it.  I’ve never liked it and planted it on a lark.  Am I ever so glad that I did.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an okra plant but it’s absolutely lovely and will be a staple in my gardens from here on out!

As you can see from the picture this ornament is really a spike that can be used to fill in those empty spots in the tree or skip the tree and put them in a stylish vase anytime of the year!

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NUO Challenge Ornament # 3


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I’m taking the day off but head on over to The Sewing Loft and see what kind of ornament Heather is whipping up!

See ya Friday!

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NUO Challenge Ornament #2 – Paper Birds


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I may have accidentally cut off the tip of his beak, but the kids and I really enjoyed making these ornaments and they’re super easy!  We used this bird ornament from Under the Table and Dreaming as our inspiration and kinda went from there!
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NUO Challenge Ornament #1 – Wine Cork Tassels


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Welcome to the official start of the No Ugly Ornament Challenge!  We’re off to a whiz bang start!!!  That was sarcasm.  Yesterday afternoon I gathered the kids, supplies and all my good intentions and this is what we ended up with.
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Guest Blogging over at Mommy by Day...Crafter by Night


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Hello All!  I'm super excited to be guest blogging over at Mommy by Day...Crafter by Night!  Below is a little snippet of the project I'm sharing; hope you can get a chance to hop over there and read more! 

Fold-Top Snack Bags

Everyone uses snack bags, whether it’s in lunch boxes, picnic baskets, diaper bags, or even purses. And while I try to do right by recycling and re-using my baggies I wanted another option. I could just buy re-usable bags but why when I can make them myself? Plus, the idea of crumb incrusted Velcro doesn’t sound appealing to me. The bag I came up with is reminiscent of the fold-top bags I had in my lunch box, circa 1984. They stitch up in a jiffy and in addition to being great snack bags, they make great treat bags for parties or gifts themselves.

Read more at Mommy by Day...Crafter by Night!
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It’s a Challenge



It's that time of year again to bring out the glue guns and start making Christmas ornaments with the kids.  But something, kinda, unexpected happened - my oldest son rebelled.
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Recipe: Baked Crab Rangoons


This post contains affiliate links. 

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It doesn’t have to be a holiday or a party for my family to enjoy these Quick and Easy Baked Crab Rangoons.  I just made a quick batch for lunch earlier today and thought I’d share.
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Spider Web Window Clings


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Here is a quick and easy project.  All you need are a handful of black hot glue sticks and a non-stick surface – I chose the mat that came with my glue gun.

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Little Boy, My String Bean, My Lovely Man


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***Warning, extremely personal and sappy post.***

This past Saturday was my oldest son’s birthday, I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to post this little story about and for him.  He was feeling kind of bummed earlier so I went ahead and had him read it first.  He agreed it’s kind of corny, but, I’m a Mom, so it’s allowed from time to time.  Anyhow, here’s a little bit about my life and my little man, Charles, aka Teagan.
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Phonics and Photos Friday


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Earlier this week we tried our hand at making mosaics.  Vincent said he’d prefer a collage.  Then we discussed portrait versus landscape.  Halfway into the project Esther asked to please change the color of her mountains to white.    Vincent’s is actually a tree and house with silly monkeys trying to camouflage themselves in the grass. 

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This Is Uncomfortable - Reflections of a Secular Homeschooler


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Last weekend was a long one for this family and while it was filled with fun gatherings and new experiences there was one that’s still making me feel uncomfortable.

If you’ve EVER been around homeschoolers, you learn pretty quickly that a very large majority have chosen this lifestyle for religious and/or political reasons.  We did not, but I still know what to expect when we attend homeschooling functions.  This weekend we took part in a field trip.  It was fun and the kids had a great time.  Are you anticipating a big BUT?  Yeah, here it comes. 
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Granny Square Purse Tutorial


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A woman’s purse is like a baby’s diaper bag.  It contains everything she needs to get through her day, outside the comfort of home, and it does it all with style.  It defines functional fashion. 
A number of months ago I saw this super, awesomely sweet bag on Etsy, that I can no longer find.  Yes, I should’ve just bought it but, if you saw my stash of unused yarn, I’m hanging my head in shame, I had to just make my own.  Here’s a quick tutorial, that will only be helpful to you if you already know how to crochet (basic sewing experience is also helpful).  I have to warn you this was quick and easy I’m sure there will be more in the future!
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Phonics and Photos Friday


Earlier this week the kids and I read Leaf Man.  It inspired us to go out and collect leaves and autumn items to create our own leaf men (and a leaf fish). 
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More TCC Gushing


The Creative Connection Event has influenced me and I figured I might as well apologize now if I get annoying.  Not that I would every be annoying to anyone other than my husband, who already tunes out half of what I say.  He calls it a coping mechanism; I call it rude.  What was I talking about?  Oh yeah, here is my humble attempt to get it all out of my system and into the blogosphere.

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Orange and Almond Scones


So we’re out of milk, we’re out of cereal, and no one wants oatmeal.  I am in desperate need of a good grocery shopping trip but until then I had to come up with something to put in front of the kids and this morning it turned out to be my favorite standby yogurt scones with Heath Bar bits.  Yum.  But there’s only one left.

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Creating and Connecting


When I first signed up for The Creative Connection and BlogHer Handmade it felt like a big, expensive risk.  In the months after I made the non-refundable reservations I doubted and questioned my decision and my intentions.  At the last minute I decided to sign up for the Pitch Slams and almost immediately regretted it.  I still can’t explain why I did it, but I did, and in this case the risk paid off.


I met a wealth of women whose advice, guidance, and friendship I intend to cultivate.  But there’s a special energy about moments like these. Being surrounded by so many creative and driven artists, writers, publishers, crafters, etc. and having the opportunity to share this experience with them was awe-inspiring. (Click the link, learn the word, because I mean it in a very literal sense.)


The Marketplace made me feel like Charlie Bucket!  There was just so much to take it and so little time.  I was completely amazed at the gorgeousness of it all, there were so many trinkets, dolls, books, etc. and each piece was just so darn covetable. 


And then there was the swag.  The fine folks at TCC had already mentioned a bag filled with $250 worth of gifts to be given at the dinner what they didn't mention was you'd need a bag for the swag that would be thrown your way at every turn!  You'll have to look through my Flickr pictures, I photographed everything as I tried to fit it all into my one checked bag!  It fit but weighed in at 33 pounds and that was NOT including about five magazines!

Outside of the event, I FINALLY got to go to an Ikea store. 

Eh, I like window shopping it online much better.  I did insist on having a meal there though.  I mean it's a sin not to at least try the meatballs, right?

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Then there was the Mall of America! 

Eh, I just don’t think I was in the mood for mass consumerism.

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It was very nice and quiet though, if you’re looking to visit I highly recommend Wednesday, September 14th around 11 a.m.  I was told by fellow travelers returning to MO that during the weekend it was CRAZY.  There was also a scrapbooking event being held there.

Well, I’m sure this is not the end of my rambling about TCC or the people I’ve met but for now this will have to do!  Lesson planning has pushed itself to the top of my priority list, at least for the night.
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