DIY · Free Printables · Home Decor

Join Me on a Tour of My 2019 Christmas Bedroom

Approximately one year ago I decided that I was getting tired of seasonal decorating. Next year, I thought, there would be no more garlands all around the front porch- no more gigantic, overly decorated trees- no more little Christmas elements stuck on every shelf. I was as beat up as an old bat trapped outside of her cave.

Well… fast forward to this year – a lot can happen to one’s psyche in a year don’cha know. Maybe it’s the Keto lifestyle kicking in. It really does punch up the energy factor to sky high. Or, more likely, it’s retirement from the post office. Whoot-whoot! This year is the first time in many that I also decorated the bedroom for Christmas. Come along then – let me show you what I did.

Restful bed at Christmas time
The bed got the full treatment too. I usually do not go with printed sheets. It’s always plain white for me or else I wake up with nightmares that spiders are on the bed. No kidding. Too much information? LOL This year I am an adult so I figured that I could handle a plain little red and white plaid. So far, no problem.
Crafty Christmas pillows with reindeer silhouettes on them
Let’s start the craft talk with me showing off these cute little reindeer pillows. The base was a plain, square pillow cover that I bought at Ikea. My first idea was to silkscreen something onto the covers, but this year I’m pretty much into handcrafted rustic style- isn’t everybody? I searched the net for reindeer silhouette clip art. Then I printed out what I liked, cut it out and traced around the cut-out with a permanent ink pen. (Permanent Uniball-bold forever Baby!)
The last step was to sew pieces of ribbon and buttons to the cover.
And you just know that there is some other pillow stuck under the cover. Gotta save space where I can.
Comfy, cozy Christmas bedroom ideas.
Our comfy, cozy bedroom full of rustic and kitschy elements. The pops of classic Christmas red are a departure for me as I usually go with more neutrals.
childhood Christmas memories
When I see a Christmas element that reminds me of my childhood, I get it. That is what it’s all about, right? Being a kid again?
I also looked for free Christmas printables online. I found this watercolor print at Hip 2 Save
Wing back chair with Christmas decor
Notice the double garland on the mirror. This year is all about “the more the merrier” with garlands.
pillow made with placemats
This little red snowflake pillow began life as a small place-mat for the table. You can find instructions and quite a few more ideas for making fun and inexpensive pillows here.
Tall, rustic Santas grouped with a primitive, rustic Christmas tree
I try to make cohesive vignettes with my decorative smalls. That way, the overall look is not just a huge hodge-podge of stuff and things stacked everywhere.
Vintage Christmas ornaments
A charming little shadow box holds vintage smalls that my Aunt B. used to pick up for Les and I. Barbara has sadly passed earlier this year so these little trinkets are even more sentimental to us now. The mixed media ornament on top of the box was made by a local artisan here in Prescott.
Bedroom decorated for Christmas
I love how the bedroom is reflected in the closet doors. It doubles the Christmas decorations and heightens the fun for me.
Christmas shelf decorations
See that Santa on the right? When I found him at a thrift store- where else?- I thought that he was so cool and oh-so vintage. While looking through my new Country Sampler magazine, I saw him listed at $29.95. Laughing all the way, I showed the item to Les. He has always stated that I only like new- old stuff because I tend to go for “vintage look” over the real deal. It would appear that he knows me so well.

Merry Christmas everyone! No matter what holidays you celebrate, I wish you and yours the very best season and all the new year to come.

Free Printables · Home Decor

My Pared Down Autumn Decor

Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas? Again?! I’m so excited to show you my Christmas decorations reveal, but first, take a look at what the living room looked like before the Christmas transformation.

wheat stalks for fall
Living room entryway
In preparation for Thanksgiving visitors, I removed all items that were strictly Halloween decorations and added just a few fall touches to the living room. This is the entryway wall. I had to move the grey dollhouse over here to clear the dining table for company.

After the hoopla of my Halloween decorations, autumn looks very understated. To make a fast transformation I took away all things that were strictly Halloween and added a few fall touches to complete my living room in time for Thanksgiving company.

free fall printables
I started the presto-change-o by printing out a few free autumnal mages. You can find them here. and here.
morning sun casting shadows on a terracotta pot filled with pumpkins and fall fruit
Early morning light falls on a terracotta bowl filled with pumpkins, fall fruits and a bittersweet vine.
wooden cat on a white chippy table
Wooden cat on a white, chippy table
concrete wall in living room
power wall, wall of bookshelves
wooden pumpkin bowl
Found this adorable little wooden pumpkin bowl at a thrift store for just pennies.
coffee table dressed for fall
Early morning sun casts such interesting geometric shadows, don’t you think?
favorite coffee spot
This is my favorite spot to sit and read and have my coffee in the morning. It’s a great way for me to gather my thoughts before the day’s activities.
Mixed media sculptures by Les gains
While I’m showing you around the living room, I thought that you might like to see some of Les’ mixed media figures.
Mixed media figures by Les Gains
Les used lamp fittings- the part that light bulbs go into- and clay to craft these little guys.
abandoned bird's nests
On his walks around the property, Les also found and created a place for these little abandoned bird’s nests.

And now, just like that, the next post will be to share my Christmas decorations. It is the first time that I decorated even the bedroom. I usually just do the kitchen and the living room for company, but this year… well, you’ll see.

Christmas ornaments
And, before I could blink, it was time to dig out Christmas ornaments.
DIY · tutorials

Another Free Crochet Pattern- The Wave Stitch

Crochet in fall and winter? Oh yeah! What better craft to keep you warm while you are constructing it?

I wanted to make an afghan for my Mom that would be super soft against her frail skin but that would still keep her warm and cozy. I used a supposedly baby blanket yarn from Bernat. I say supposedly because when I was finished with the afghan, I realized that it would be too heavy and would smother my bed-ridden mother let alone an infant. The finished afghan is way heavier than expected. I’ll confess though, that was probably my fault since I used a heavily textured crochet pattern called the “Wave” stitch and a size 10mm crochet hook.

The Wave crochet pattern
Another free crochet pattern called The Wave Stitch. This one is soft and heavily textured – perfect for a chilly winter morning.
The Wave crochet pattern
Ah well, I got carried away with making the afghan too chunky, but the blanket really is soft and warm, so I’m using it on the little bed in my reading/craft room.

There are seriously thousands of free crochet patterns on the web. The variety of styles and difficulties of pattern can be mind boggling. Talk about spending hours cruising the web. This pattern comes from a square that was used in a patchwork sampler afghan. I liked the square so much that I decided to make a whole afghan out of that “Wave stitch” pattern.

The crochet pattern written instructions can be found here: Crochet Along Afghan Sampler from the Inspired Wren. Check out her blog for a ton more cool crochet patterns.

If you would prefer to see a video tutorial, I found the one linked below to be really clear and concise.

The difference between my afghan and this one is the border. I used a ribbed crochet stitch instead of the single crochet border shown here.
The Wave crochet pattern
To make the ribbed border just do a single crochet all around and then follow up with a back loop only single crochet all around. Repeat for several more rows until the border is the width that you like.

Bundle up and stay warm. Happy holidays!

Food · Recipes

Easy Keto Penuche

You may recall my post about a caramel sauce using Keto friendly “brown sugar”. Well, the taste of that sauce brought back such fond memories of penuche that I knew I had to make some for the holiday festivities. When I was a kid, I used to spend part of my lunch money to buy it almost every day at the convenience store on the way home from school and I STILL love the flavor. (Don’t tell Mom though.)

Easy Keto penuche
Easy Keto friendly Penuche
(I’m noticing how the bottom looks like a darker layer of something but it is just the shadow from the dish. Sorry about any confusion from the picture. LOL, There is not a second layer of darker caramel or anything.)

Sometimes penuche candy is referred to as brown sugar fudge because of the creamy texture. It can be shaped as a little patty or it can be cut into squares like a fudge, but it is all the same- a creamy, delicious brown sugar flavored confection packed with nuts.

In this recipe, you do not need a candy thermometer or any of the lengthy machinations that were involved in the old directions. Nope. I experimented a little but I didn’t stray too far from a traditional recipe except to make this candy very easy, very fast and Keto friendly.

Brown sugar candy made with Xylitol and brown sugar flavor extract
Brown sugar candy made with Xylitol and brown sugar flavor extract

I used my own “brown sugar” concoction with Xylitol and brown sugar flavor extract. You can find the details in the caramel sauce post. The Swerve Brown sweetener seemed to crystallize on cooling more than the Xylitol, but it works if you don’t want to buy a brown sugar flavor extract to make your own “brown sugar” substitute.

You will need to prepare a foil lined baking dish to make cut squares or a foil lined cookie sheet to make candy patties. I used the baking dish this time. The easiest way to line a baking dish with foil is to first shape it over the back side of the dish and then fit it inside.

how to line a baking dish with foil

Easy Keto Penuche

  • Servings: 90 pcs
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients


– 1 cup butter, either salted or not
– 2 cups granulated Xylitol
– 2 tsp brown sugar flavor extract
– 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 1/2 cups powdered Swerve sweetener
– 1 cup chopped walnuts (it’s good with peanuts as well)

Directions


Prepare an 8×8 baking dish lined with foil and sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray (I use avocado spray)

1. Mix the Xylitol with the brown sugar flavor extract until well combined
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over med-high heat
3. Add the “brown sugar” and bring to a boil, stirring constantly
4. Pour in the cream stirring for another five minutes or so
5. Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes
6. Stir in the vanilla extract and walnuts
7. Pour into a foil lined 8×8 baking dish, cover with fol and continue to cool in the refrigerator until firm
8. Remove from dish and cut into small squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Be sure to cut this candy into fairly small squares. It is SWEET and guaranteed to satisfy even the biggest sweets fans out there.

Food · Recipes

Spiced Sugar Free Caramel Sauce

There are two things that I want to point out in this post. One is that even the Swerve brown sugar will crystalize once your sauce cools down. The second thing is that once I figured out which sugar free sweetener to use to make my own brown sugar, it tasted like penuche candies which I LOVE.

Both caramel sauces and penuche candy call for brown sugar. Sooo I will tell you how to make your own approximation of sugar free “brown sugar”. This post will also be followed by a really great Keto friendly penuche candy recipe. Yay!

On the first attempt at the sugar free caramel sauce, I grabbed my Swerve brown sugar. What a waste of a whole bag of sweetener!

Don't use swerve brown sweetener for any caramel sauce. It crystallizes tot fast.
Caramel sauce made with Swerve brown sweetener. The first picture shows a reasonable facsimile of caramel sauce. The second picture shows how the sauce started crystallizing immediately as it started to cool down. Not too appetizing.
making Keto friendly caramel sauce with brown sugar flavor extract
Much better. This sauce is made with Xylitol granulated sweetener and a brown sugar flavor extract. Those little bubbles are from boiling the sweetener mixture.
Keto caramel sauce
This is the Xylitol sauce about three hours after cooling down. As you can see, the sauce thickened up, it darkened a bit but it stayed smooth with no crystallization to the texture.

The most important part of this sauce recipe is to make your own “brown sugar” with Xylitol and a brown sugar flavor extract. I ordered the extract online from Olive Nation. I was blown away by how many different flavor concentrates and extracts that I found online. On a side note, I also bought the marshmallow flavor concentrate which is awesome for making Keto whipped marshmallow fluff. Yum!

To make the “brown sugar” replica, use 1 tsp flavor per one cup of granulated sweetener. I used granulated Xylitol to make the mix.

Brown sugar flavor extract
Use one tsp flavor extract per 1 cup of granulated sweetener.
Making Keto friendly "brown sugar" with Xylitol
The mixed granulated sweetener with brown sugar flavor extract.

I made one cup of “brown sugar” to use in this caramel sauce recipe.

The traditional caramel sauce recipe that I found called for Corn syrup. Since I’m trying to make Keto friendly sauce, I used a Stevia sweetened pancake syrup that I bought at Safeway grocers in place of the corn syrup.

Keto Sugar Free Caramel Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Make 1 cup of the “brown sugar” sweetener as outlined above.
In place of corn syrup, I used Stevia sweetened cinnamon flavored pancake syrup that I bought at Safeway grocery store.

Ingredients


– 1 cup homemade sugar free “brown sugar”. I used Xylitol granulated mixed with 1 tsp brown sugar flavor extract.
– 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
– 1/4 cup Stevia sweetened sugar free cinnamon maple flavored syrup
– 1 tbsp butter (I used salted butter)

Directions

  1. Throw everything together into a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly until the granulated sweetener has dissolved.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Let sauce cool down a bit so that you can pour it into an airtight jar.
  5. 5.Store in a pantry or cupboard. No need to refrigerate.


Use this sauce to top cakes, cookies, custard, mousse, ice cream….the choices are many! Enjoy.

Keto penuche candy
Wait till you taste the penuche candy from my recipe to follow. It’s just like the candy that I remember as a kid using her lunch money to stop at 7/11 on the way home from school. LOL.
Food · Recipes

No Bake Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

No bake cheesecake? Yep, and this cheesecake mousse is probably the easiest and fastest desert that I know how to make whether it is chocolate, cappuccino, strawberry or even pumpkin.

Low carb pumpkin cheesecake mousse
Trying to stick to a Keto routine his season? Try this easy pumpkin cheesecake mousse. The caramel sauce takes it over the top for a sweet treat.

Pumpkin anything is still a favorite of mine. In autumn I HAVE to have pumpkin everything. I even have a foamy pumpkin spice topper for my coffee during this holiday season.

Regarding the traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie though- not so much. If you have read any of my past recipes about pies, you already know that I do not like pie crust so pumpkin pie is pretty much out of the picture. This is especially so at dinner parties where I am likely to embarrassment Les by eating only the whipped cream and pie filling leaving a rather unsightly crust gunking up my desert plate. And I will do that without hesitation. (grin)

Pumpkin cheesecake mousse with sliced almonds and caramel sauce
Top the mousse with sliced almonds and Keto caramel sauce

Soooo, to avoid pie crust, I loves me some pumpkin mousse or pumpkin cheesecake. In that vein, this recipe is for all of my friends who would rather just eat pie filling with no soggy, lardy pie crust!

Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Preparation: First! Grab that cream cheese out of the fridge to bring it to room temp while you are assembling all of your other ingredients.

Ingredients


1- 12 to 15 oz can pumpkin puree (I have cans in both sizes and I just use whatever I have on hand at the time)
12 oz softened cream cheese
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup Xylitol granulated sweetener (if you do not have a huge sweet tooth like me, then start with 1/3 cup sweetener of your choice and sweeten to taste)
3 tsp pumpkin pie flavor extract (you can sub 3 tsp ground pumpkin pie spice if you like)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

    1. Use an electric mixer to combine pumpkin puree and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
    2. To the pumpkin/cheese add all of the rest of the ingredients.
    3. Mix all ingredients until the mousse is a desired consistency.
    4. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Top with whipped cream or a caramel sauce and sliced almonds as you like.
Sandra McCall
Keto holiday
 deserts
An easy and sugar free pumpkin cheesecake mousse guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Food · Recipes

Low Carb Keto Cornbread- YES!

I LOVE chili, but I MUST have corn bread with it. Or crackers or something! Well, this cornbread recipe fit the bill perfectly.

Keto cornbread muffins with Keto chili

OK, OK, you got me. I’ll confess that it’s not real cornbread with the corn meal or anything, but this is a really good approximation. The secret is a corn flavor concentrate that makes these little muffins taste like cornbread. For real! I got the organic extract from Nature’s Flavors. This company also has a great video on the difference between extracts and concentrates and how to cook or bake with them. It was well worth the few minutes to watch as I learned a bit about the whole subject that I did NOT learn from Mom.

On a side note: I also bought an apple concentrate flavor from the same company that I will use in a fool-them apple pie made with chayote instead of apples. It should be really good.

IMPORTANT! For some, just the little bit of alcohol in extracts and concentrates can kick them out of ketosis. So consider that before using extracts if you are determined to stay in ketosis at all times. This company also has a line of extracts and concentrates that are specifically Keto friendly so, check it out.

I had planned on making cheddar jalapeno cornbread, but it turned out that I did not have any jalapenos on hand. To spice up the muffins I added cayenne powder. They turned out great.

Low carb Keto cornbread muffins

As with most Keto bread recipes, this calls for a ton of eggs, but not to worry. This corn bread does not taste “eggy” at all.

Low Carb Keto Cornbread

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I used a bit of almond meal to mix with the regular flour to give this bread a more hearty-textural look. This recipe also tastes great with additions like garlic powder, cayenne, extra cheese and /or jalapenos.

Don’t forget to take the eggs out of the fridge before you start gathering all of your supplies. This will bring them up to room temp.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tsp corn concentrate flavoring
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 eggs at room temperature
  • Optional: any spices that you want to add (I used 2 tsp cayenne powder since I didn’t have any jalapenos)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by spraying with cooking spray. (I use avocado spray.)
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, combining thoroughly.
  3. Whisk wet ingredients together and add to flour mixture in large bowl. Combine. Don’t worry, there will be little lumps.
  4. Spoon batter into greased mini muffin tins.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Let cool a bit and then turn out onto a plate.
  7. Store in an airtight container for a week or refrigerate for two weeks OR freeze for up to six months. (I usually store in a baggie in the fridge since they will all be gone in a week or two anyway.

Low carb Keto cornbread mini muffins with butter
DIY · Home Decor

A Sad to Glad Chair With a Thrifty Re-do

Here’s a story about a very unloved chair that found happiness under my guidance. OK, I’m just goofing. In reality though, it WAS an unloved chair. The thrift store had marked it down several times and ended at $22.00 and they still could not get rid of it. Until I happened along that is. The chair was solid, the cushions were in good shape, it was comfortable and in a style that I like. What’s not to love? Oh yeah, the totally outdated upholstery fabric and the has-been white washed finish on the pale wood. That was OK though, because I have paint and I know how to use it.

thrift store chair
I I removed the upholstery on both arms and the batting off one arm before I thought to take pictures to share. THEN I took pics at every step of the re-do. Now this is the only surviving picture of this chair from my old camera of several years ago. It is blurry, but you get the idea. The other pics are taken just last week. They are not the detailed process, but they show what happened along the way.

Les was not convinced when he came by with the truck to pick the chair up. I would not have called him because I knew what he would think- that I had lost my mind. He said as much when he laid eyes on my special find. Unfortunately the chair was just too big to fit into my car.

After stripping the blue upholstery, it looked better immediately. A coat of white paint came next and then, after that was dry, a coat of black acrylic paint followed… Oh! I left the upholstery fabric on the back side of the chair and just painted over it with the black acrylic paint.

back of an upholsterer chair painted with acrylic paint
Back of the chair with two coats of black acrylic paint. This was painted before I added the cream colored drop cloth fabric that you see in this picture.

When the paint was dry (I left it over night) I gave it a good sanding. The goal was to be able to see just a bit of white and the original wood showing past the black paint.

Now, for upholstery- my favorite upholstery fabric is a painter’s drop cloth. It is made of heavy cotton, usually unbleached and CHEAP! I get a 9‘ x 12‘ piece from Harbor Freight for $8.00 when it is on sale.

chair body covered with an inexpensive drop cloth
Chair body covered with an inexpensive drop cloth.

I covered the body with the drop cloth by cutting out pieces and stapling them right on to the wooden frame. The staples are covered with braid and a glue gun.

detail of braid covering staples on a chair
Braid covering the staples and attached with a glue gun. Some of you may wonder if that glue holds well enough. Believe me, where I made mistakes, it was nearly impossible to rip the braid off the drop cloth fabric. I should tell you though, I use a very large, hot glue gun with industrial type glue sticks that I bought in the Sears tool department years ago.

I thought that I wanted a contrasting fabric for the cushions. I sewed the top cushion and then was not sure, so the bottom cushion has just been wrapped for, oh let’s see now…about two years. Well, I have finally decided that after the holidays, I am going to cover the cushions with the more natural colored drop cloth.

Recycled chair in black and white.

The happy ending to this story is that the chair that Les hated at first sight has become his favorite because it is so sturdy and comfortable. In fact, that thrifty chair is the most popular chair in the living room with visitors. (In spite of my indecision on a cushion fabric.)

Woman reading in chair
Stephanie in “The Chair”. By the way, here a link to a free pattern for that crocheted afghan. It was the first time that I had ever done cables. They turned out to be easier than they look.