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2014’s Top Five Countdown

So many wonderful things filled my days in 2014 both personal and professional. Here’s a countdown of my top five favorite moments from this past year!

#5 Craftastic TV 


The number one thing that’s been going on here at MVEM has been more videos. When Rhonda from Mrs. Greene put a call out for contributors to her new site Craftastic TV, I was one of the first to sign up and I’m so happy I did. I’ve learned so much about what works and what doesn’t from Rhonda and the other contributors. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with in the new year.

#4 Create. Craft. Love. Contributor


WooHoo! I’ve guest posted here and there but I’ve never been a bona fide contributor until this year! I’m so honored that Jill has given me the opportunity to be a part of the Create.Craft.Love. team. It’s been a real eye-opener on my shortcomings when it comes to working on a team. Promoting all the great ideas being churned out by Jill and the other contributors is already on my 2015 to-do list.

#3 Wild Wood Rollers

WWRheadshot 6.1.14

I think everyone needs to act on those crazy what-if moments…roller derby was my what-if moment of 2014. I joined a league, almost passed my minimum skills (26 1/2 in 5 is not 27 in 5, but it is close), and took part in a Fan Appreciation Scrimmage. It’s been so much fun and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I don’t like getting sweaty, so getting sweaty and VERY stinky (if I ever ask you to smell my wrist pads walk away-quickly) in front of other people…not to mention falling (think concussion) and pushing my body in ways I never have, has been a very humbling experience.

#2 Crafty Hangouts


Crafty Hangouts are Google Hangouts On Air which are the equivalent of live television. So instead of reshooting a video when I can’t come up with an adjective other than great, I’m forced to come up with some gem of a phrase like “grown-up looking.” That one still has me slapping my forehead! But on to the real reason Crafty Hangouts is #2 on my list.

I’ve been blogging long enough to know that it is not something you do on your own. Sure it may start out that way but over time you make blogging friends and connections that grow into a community. Towards the end of 2013 and well into 2014 I put myself in a kind of self-imposed isolation. I quit contributing to my blogging community and it was Crafty Hangouts that pulled me out of my funk. I’m so very grateful for this group of crafters and thankful they’re a part of my life!

# 1 Desmond006

Babies, they always top the list! This past January Desmond joined our family. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I’ve been very candid and honest about not having wanted anymore children, and for the record…I still don’t. But gosh darn it, there’s something about the way he wraps his arms around my neck and squeezes as if it’s the first and last time he’ll ever get to hold me…ugh, melts my heart. I’m officially an old mom and I think it’s pretty awesome.

Erin Sipes
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Christmas Break

See you New Year's Eve when I share my year in review, until then turn off your computer and go make some cookies!

Love and Happiness to You All!

Erin Sipes
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No Ugly Ornament 2014 Wrap-Up

No, I’m not on holiday yet! Like many of you, in the minutes I’m not rushing around, finishing DIY gifts, school work, recitals, scouting parties, baking, and roller derby (What, am I the only one with scrimmages on their calendar?), I’m attempting to keep all the mundane day to day things going. Thankfully I have finished the majority of my shopping but I still need to wrap up that closet worth of gifts.

When it comes time for the gift wrapping my crunchy side comes out, if I can’t wrap it up in cloth I reach for the packing paper I’ve saved up over the year. The only problem is that while plain craft paper has a simple chic-ness about it, it still needs a little pick-me up! Ornaments are great at doing double duty in this department; they dress up your presents and make great keepsakes for those you are gifting.

Below are ornaments from this year’s NOU Challenge, all of which will look just as lovely under the tree as they do on it!

Quick and Easy Ornaments via @mvemother

  1. Wire Ribbon Ornaments
  2. 3D Paper Ornaments
  3. Christmas Vacation Ornament
  4. CRAFT FAIL: Ballerina Silhouette Pick
  5. Ballerina Slipper Ornament
  6. Clothespin Ballerina Ornament
  7. Wood Bead Ornaments
  8. Rolled Magazine Ornaments
  9. Painted Feather Ornaments
  10. Glittered Leaf Ornaments
  11. Pipe Cleaner Elves

Erin Sipes
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Craftastic TV: Felt, Ribbon, Button Toy

Fine motor skills, shapes, colors, patterns, this simple DIY toy is an awesome learning tool and better yet it’s an gift idea easy enough for the kids to put together! Head on over to Craftastic TV and see how I put it together or go straight to the YouTube video!

Felt Ribbon Button Toy via @mvemother #learningtool #DIY #giftidea

I mention it in the video and in the description but I really can’t say it enough. Unlike the ribbon snake projects you see on other blogs I’m recommending that you weave the ribbon through the buttons rather than sewing the buttons to the ribbon. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a couple kids who never outgrew putting things like buttons in their mouths, but I try to avoid potential choking hazards whenever and wherever I can. If you’re worried that little hands might get tangled up in the doubled ribbon just tie knots along it. The felt should be able to get over the knots and little fingers won’t get hurt.

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Erin Sipes
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Want–Need–Wear–Read Printable Gift Tags

Free Printable Gift Tags via @mvemother

Every holiday season we’re reminded of our gross consumerism and while I’m not the kind of parent to ban Christmas gifts (don’t get me started on those types) I do think it’s important to put limits on the amount of presents my kids receive. I’d rather give them gifts such as dance lessons throughout the year. I want my kids to enjoy visiting family for the sake of keeping in touch NOT for the gifts they will be given. Plus, I don’t like the mess. The packaging alone makes me have an anxiety attack, so much trash!

For a few years now we’ve been focusing on ONE bigger gift, not from Santa by the way-I never understood why he gets all the glory, let your kids know that YOU worked to be able to afford what gets put under the tree-he just stuffs the stockings in our house. Anyway, I should say we try to focus on one gift but as the day grows closer I’d end up picking up more and more so this year we’re giving the Want – Need – Wear – Read concept a try.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, gifts are limited to something you want, something you need, something to wear, and finally something to read. I have to say, I wish we’d started this sooner. Christmas lists this year were much more thoughtful, it wasn’t a bunch of toys that would find their way to Goodwill within a couple months. Thinking about the things they needed spilled over into the way they thought about everything.

Science kits that would normally be a homeschooling expense were listed as wants, electric toothbrushes (don’t ask) were listed as needs, and for the wear category they included new bags for sparring gear and dance shoes, again things that would be normal expenses associated with their extracurricular activities. This has made it much friendly on our pocketbook and easier for me NOT to overspend!

Below is a free printable of want, need, wear, and read tags you can print off for yourself if you’re ready to give something new a try! I’ll be sharing gift wrapping ideas, including how to use these tags, next week!


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Erin Sipes
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Winter Wonderland Wreath

Winter Wonderland Wreath via @mvemotherThis post originally appeared on Create.Craft.Love. on November 12, 2014.

Though you’d never guess it by the looks of my craft room, I love minimalism. I’d like to think that’s one of the many reasons why winter is my favorite season. There’s something so crisp and refreshing about a landscape coated in white glimmering snow. I tried to incorporate that same sensation in this Winter Wonderland Wreath!

Supplies Needed:

  • wreath form
  • sparkling Christmas drape
  • low temp hot glue gun and sticks
  • variety of bottle brush trees
  • school glue
  • frosty snow


To begin you’ll need to cover the wreath form with the Christmas drape. Simply unfold and lay out the drape on a flat surface, position your wreath form, and then cut around it leaving a five inch allowance. Do the same when cutting out the inner circle but instead of five inches you should only need three or four.

Pull the inner and outer edges of the drape towards the backside of the wreath until they meet, see photo above. Since the drape looks, feels, and acts much like quilt batting it will actually stick to the wreath form, but you’ll still want to use low temp hot glue to secure it. When you’re done it should be smooth with no ripples or pleats, like the photo below.
Now for the fun part, positioning your forest of evergreens. After much debate, and a little help from my son, I finally settled on a layout and began using the same low temp hot glue to hold everything in place.
When you’re playing around remember that even if your trees have bases they can easily be removed or bent so that the trees can be placed not just on the inside curve of the wreath but also on the front of it, or along the sides. 
To give my wreath a bit of shimmer I added a layer of frosty snow to the top of it using regular school glue. Looking at the picture below you can probably tell that the drape quickly absorbed the glue. I was still able to attach the snow to it but just to be on the safe side I worked fast during this portion of the project.
I repeatedly added both glue and snow to the wreath, then stood it up so that the excess snow fell off exposing any bare spots. I must warn you, it may get messy! Thankfully it sweeps up easily.


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Erin Sipes
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31 Breakfast Meals

Recipe Round-ups are becoming the church cookbooks of our generation! It’s a chance for blogging friends to get together and share their favorite recipes with each other and our readers. Hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up!
31 Breakfast Meals via My Very Educated Mother
The holidays are one of the few times of the year when entertaining happens in the morning as much as it does in the evening, whether you’re feeding visiting family and friends, hosting a mid morning brunch, or simply indulging kids home on winter break. Here are over 30 breakfast meals to give a try!
Erin Sipes
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Over 40 Christmas Cookie Exchange Recipes

When it’s time for dessert we all have our weaknesses, for me it’s cookies! Crunchy or soft, chewy or crumbly, chocolate dipped or fruit filled, I love them all! A great way to sample a variety of recipes and share your favorite is during a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party.
Today I’m so very excited to be taking part in a virtual exchange featuring over 40 cookies recipes from some of my blogging friends. I hope you find a new favorite in the bunch, ahem, I’m partial to the Cranberry Almond Shortbread Bites.
So much yumminess, I can’t wait to give some of these a try!
Be sure to follow along on the Cookie Exchange Pinterest board for year round cookie recipe inspirations!
cookie exchange 4 

cookies 1 Andes Mint Cookies Double Chocolate Mint MnM Cookies Hot Cocoa Cookies

cookies 1

cookies 2

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Cranberry Almond Shortbread Bites

Shortbread is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated cookies. It really has a lot going for it, rich buttery taste, crumbly sweet texture, and an unmatched versatility. You can add nearly anything to the dough to create one of a kind flavors such as this Cranberry Almond recipe.

These bite-size cookies are perfect for wrapping up as a gift, serving at a party, or snacking. Plus the recipe is easy enough for kids to make! Hope you enjoy them! 

Cranberry Almond Shortbread Bites #recipes #shortbread #Christmascookies

  • 1/2 cup of cold butter cut into pieces (I would not recommend making this with margarine.)
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 almond flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of dried cranberries-finely chopped


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and cut together with a pastry cutter. Perfect work for little hands!

Cuttingthedough #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
Once the dough passes a pinch test (Grab a pinch-if it sticks together it’s ready.) knead until all the crumbs are combined.

Pinchtest  #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
Form into four four-inch balls, flatten into circles and cut with a dough scraper into wedges. Leave the wedges together!

Scoredandreadytobake  #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange
You don’t have to form the dough into four balls you can also make just one, I happen to like lots of crunchy edges and the smaller bites also make it easier to package if you’re going to be giving them as a gift!

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden. Once removed from the oven re-cut the wedges and let it all cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

 #cookies #recipes #shortbread #cookieexchange

This recipe is part of the Christmas Cookie Exchange Party, be sure to check it out for over 40 treats for you to try!

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Erin Sipes
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