Guest Post : Survival Bracelets!

My good friend Melissa and her husband Ryan surprised me with a guest post  – yes, people, my friend wrote a guest post out of the kindness of her heart. Or maybe she noticed the quality of my posts slipping and wanted to remedy the situation. Either way, enjoy a little humor and craftiness from my dear friend Melissa as she writes about making a birthday present for my son…

Thank you Melissa and Ryan! Andrew loved his bracelet and was super impressed his friend Alex made it.

If you would like more instructions on making survival bracelets go here.


Artichoke Pesto Pinwheels by Act Fast Chef

Since I am the world’s worst cook you don’t find a lot of recipes on this blog…unless they have chocolate chips, and then I am all over it. So I thought it would be fun to find someone else to share a delicious recipe with you…and Elizabeth from Act Fast Chef is just the person.

Hi there!  I’m Elizabeth from Act Fast Chef.  Thanks so much Jennifer for letting me guest post!

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a busy mom of a toddler, wife to the Husband and I also work full time outside of the house.  And, of course, I blog!  I started Act Fast Chef this year as a creative outlet for myself.  Also, I found myself becoming addicted to blogs, so I figured I should join in on the fun.  Act Fast Chef focuses mainly on meals that you can get to the table really quickly.  Or meals that you can prepare quickly, but then take care of your family or work while the meal cooks.

I am always looking for new meals.  I am inspired by bloggers, magazines, and Martha (of course).  For this particular recipe, I was inspired by a Pepperidge Farm advertisement and my chicken and artichoke pizza.  Seriously!  An ad inspired me. The ad had these puff pastry spiral things that I knew I could stuff with the toppings from my pizza.  I was excited!  So I made them for lunch one day – and they were gone before I could even get them off the baking tray.  So yummy!

Artichoke Pesto Pinwheels
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 package of dry pesto sauce mix
2 cooked chicken breasts,chopped
3-4 canned artichoke hearts, chopped
4-5 pieces well done bacon, crumbled
about 1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg white


Preheat oven to 400 F

Unfold puff pastry on clean floured surface, or unfold on parchment paper.  Follow directions on pesto sauce mix to make a pesto rub (mix the pesto with about 2 T of olive oil).  AFC note: Don’t make the pesto sauce since it will be too runny and will cause the puff pastry to get soggy!

Spread the pesto rub onto the puff pastry and then layer on the chicken, artichoke and bacon.  Top the layers with the mozzarella cheese.

Starting with a short side of the pastry, slowly roll it up to form your pinwheels.  After forming the roll, brush the entire thing with a light brushing of egg white.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the pastry into about 12 slices.  Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the exposed sides with a light brushing of egg white.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for about 15-20 mins or until brown.


Thank you so much Elizabeth! Go ahead and check out her Act Fast Chef blog and the many recipes she shares – her Breakfast Frittata, Creole Dirty Rice, and Harvest Stew all look scrumptious to me. Have cooking everyone!


I just got back yesterday from a week long trip to Canada and am quite tired.

However, I did manage to get myself to a store today.

Our pantry was bare, the freezer empty, and a lone carton of inedible blueberries sat in the fridge.

Naturally, my first stop was to the craft store.

Eight days without a single moment of crafting is unheard of around here.

After landing, I managed to wait sixteen whole hours before I stuck my foot into my heaven on earth.

The trip started out innocent enough.

I was just going to return a few items.

Somehow this happened.

I needed them.

I had to have them.

They were on SALE.

Now you understand.

My husband not so much.


In other news, Elizabeth is featuring my Halloween party food on her Act Fast Chef blog today.


Go on over and check out her blog for some great recipes.

Have a great weekend!

On the Side

I recently won a contest at The Grant Life for a free month of ad space.

For a whole month the Big D & Me blog button will be in a prominent position on the right side of The Grant Life.


Kelly gave away the ad space in celebration of her 27th birthday.

Do me a favor and head over to The Grant Life and show Kelly some comment love as a huge thank you from me.

Thanks Kelly!

Sunny Vanilla Guest Post

I recently discovered the blog Sunny Vanilla and am extremely glad I did. Jen’s blog is filled with original crafty projects using both fabric and paper. I love her fabric choices and only dream of bring able to sew like her. Some of my favorite projects on Sunny Vanilla are making a book with fingerprints how to sew a father’s day book, her summertime pursecocktail coasters, and how to make  a $7 skirt,  Make sure you check out Jen’s Etsy shop too.

Today Jen has been kind enough to share a craft with us using a material almost everyone has in their house. In fact, I buy four of these each week to quench the thirst of my three growing kids. Intrigued?

Take it away Jen…..

Hey everyone! I’m Jen from Sunny Vanilla and I’ll be hanging out with you all today. A tid bit about me…When I’m not sewing or crafting, I’m swatting mosquitos and sweating buckets over in the Sunshine State. I like to call this place home 😉 I married my HS sweetheart (I know, roll your eyes) and after a long, long, long time, we finally settled down and had a little girl we like to call our nugget. I’m a simple, beachy kind of girl who lives in shorts and flip flops. I think laughter is the best medicine of all, aside for maybe a really good bargain shopping spree. It’s nice “meeting” all of you!

I’ve got a little tutorial for you that I think you’re going to love. It’s simple, super inexpensive, and one that your kids may enjoy doing too! Enjoy!!!

I’m not sure about your family, but we go through milk around here like it’s going out of style.  So naturally we have tons of milk cartons {we really should just put a cow in our backyard}.  Well, I started saving the rings on the top of the carton thinking I could use them for something.  Enter the napkin ring!

To get started with your napkin rings, you will need the following {a glue gun will work too}: 

Glue two milk carton rings together like this.

Cut approximately 28 in. of ribbon.  
Once the glue has dried, add a small dab of glue to the inside of the ring and attach the end of the ribbon there. 

Begin to wrap the ribbon around the ring, making sure to keep it nice and tight.  Overlap as you go.

Once you’ve completed the ring, add another small dab of glue to the inside of the ring.  Cut your ribbon and press firmly into the glue.

Now you have a napkin ring!  You can leave it alone or embellish it however you’d like.

I took a scrap piece of fabric and made a little bow tie with it.  

Then I glued a couple of buttons to the top for a finished look.

You could also use tulle…

…or just the buttons themselves.

Now you have a set of four napkin rings ready for your next party!

Thanks Jen – Go check out Sunny Vanilla for a crafty read

I Heart Craft Things – Guest Post

Today I have a blogger here who you must meet if you have kids. Rachel, the mom behind I Heart Crafty Things, does activities with her kids which truly inspire me to do more with my children. Most of Rachel’s activities revolve around children’s literature and corresponding learning projects. (I decided to say learning projects instead of art projects since following directions, cutting, and tracing are all such important skills for little ones to learn.) Some of my favorite I Heart Crafty Things posts are Paper Plate Pirates, Red Light, Green Light Activities (wonderful beginning math concepts in this post), and the Piggy Snacks . So without furth ado…here’s Rachel.

Hi, I’m Rachel from I Heart Crafty Things. I discovered Big D & Me about a month ago and after reading about her recent Boot Camp experience, I knew she was my kind of gal. Her sense of humor is just what a stay at home Mom of 3 needs to help keep me sane on those unbearable days! That is why I was sooooo excited when Jennifer asked me to guest post.

After having my first child, I found myself in this “Oh my gosh, I have no talents or interests in my life” kind of slump, and quickly discovered an unfounded passion within myself for children’s literature and crafting. I can honestly say that over the years it is what has kept me sane and happy as a Mother. I was not a creative or imaginative child at all, and being able to instill some of that into my children has made me a really proud Mommy. Over at I Heart Crafty Things you will read about fun children’s crafts coupled with children’s books. Like when we created these Band-Aid Fireflies to go along with “The Very Lonely Firefly” by Eric Carle.

or our Eric Carle inspired Very Hungry Caterpillar’s

I also try to keep things fun for my First Grader too with projects like this “Out of this World” Craft.

This past week I’ve been reviewing shapes with my Preschooler. We read the fun book “My Heart is like a Zoo” by Michael Hall.

It is a fabulous children’s story where the author creates animals out of heart shapes. Each page displays a different animal with descriptions that include feelings like “snappy as a crab” and “angry as a bear”. Reading this story was a great opportunity to talk about feelings, but also to review one of our shapes, the heart.

Going through every page in the story we tried to count how many hearts were used to create each animal and then we picked which one was our very favorite animal at the end of the story. The back of the story the author shows how to create the lion animal and I thought, “Hey, we can totally do that!” So using my book as a guide, I printed off several different sized hearts to create some of the animals we found in the book.

After printing off the hearts, we colored and cut them all out. I was in charge of cutting out all the tiny hearts. I knew the little hands would have a hard time with those. Then we took a brief recess as I attended to my cute baby girl (who has morning hair haha) who secretly got a hold of an orange marker and pretty much had the time of her life…

Then we picked out some colorful construction paper to glue our hearts on (I cut sheets of construction paper in half because we didn’t need the whole sheet).

I did a little bit of cutting on some of the hearts, using the book as my guide.

The kids got busy putting glue on all the hearts.

And we placed them on our paper to create some super fun animals all out of hearts. We used black circles made from a hole punch for our eyes.

Meet our silly seal (my personal favorite)…
Our Snappy Crab…
Mr. Angry Bear…
And our very Brave and totally disproportionate Lion (hahaha, hey, the kids didn’t notice!)…
So what are you waiting for?? Go get crafting with your kids! But wait, first come over to I Heart Crafty Things to say hello!  🙂

Guest Post by Michelle Paige

I have a special treat for you today.

Michelle Paige has graciously agreed to guest post here today.
Her blog has so many creative ideas for any occasion.

Some of my favorites from her site are Knights in Training Birthday, Lollipop Valentines, Easter Egg Heads, and an “About to Pop” Baby Shower.

Take a moment and explore her site. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Hi!  I’m Michelle Paige and today is my very first guest post, ever!!
This is so exciting, I hope I don’t mess up!  Thanks for having me, Jennifer!

My blog is called ‘Michelle Paige’.  (Super creative name, huh?)
I sort of fell into the blogging world one night last February and I haven’t been able to stop!
How fun it is ‘meeting’ amazing women who share such inspiring ideas and insights through their blogs!
Over at ‘Michelle Paige’ I love to blog about crafty ideas, party decor, organization tips, family activities, faith thoughts and my favorite kid craft projects!
Speaking of kid craft projects…you won’t believe this one…
Painter’s Tape Canvas Art
I know…I know…it doesn’t look like a kid made this!
 With just a tiny bit of supervision and guidance—
and lots of play time in between steps—
my 9 year old really made this!
He’s very proud of himself, too!
(Unlike my 10 year old daughter who hides when she sees the camera
— fearing that I might post a picture of her!)
See just how simple this is…
Start with a piece of canvas board.
You can find canvas board at your local craft store or art supply place.
Look for sales or use coupons, canvas can be a bit pricey!
We found this 10in x 20in. piece for half off.
(If I’d been smarter, I would have bought out their stock at those prices!)
Any size of canvas board will work.
Now choose your colors!
I chose brown for the lines and my current favorite decorating colors:
turquoise, leaf green, north sea blue
and white (somehow the white didn’t get into the picture?)
Inexpensive acrylic craft paint works perfectly.
(Or use any leftover paint you may already have.)
Cover your area with newspapers.
Using a foam brush, paint (or have your child paint) the entire canvas board with the line color of your choice.
We used a brown velvet color.
Now, wait about 30 minutes (go play), then paint a second coat.
(We only did 2 coats, but I think 3 would have been a bit better.)
After the board is completely dry (or playtime is over), it’s time to tape.
Use painter’s tape to make straight line shapes on the board.
(We used 1 inch wide Scotch 3M Blue Painter’s Tape.)
The only rule is to keep the tape straight, don’t try to curve the tape.
Make squares, rectangles, triangles, funky 4-sided shapes, etc.
Some shapes can be small, others can be over-sized.
Once you’re happy with the taped design, press tape firmly.
Get out the line paint color again and lightly paint another coat.
This time paint especially along the edges of the tape.
(You can skip this step, but you’ll be sorry!  Trust me!)
This extra step allows no colors to bleed through the tape.
Go play for 30 minutes while the board is drying.
(My son specifically asked that I posted this picture of him with his twisty balloon battle gear!)
To see more of our twisty balloon adventures go here.
Okay, back to our project.
It’s time to get out those pretty colors!
We used a paper plate and a different foam brush for each color.
There are only two rules for this step.
Rule 1) Do not put the same color next to each other.
(You don’t want a green square up against a green triangle.  Mix them up.)
Rule 2)  Paint a little out of the lines onto the tape.
(Yep, you get to go out of the lines!)
Let first coat dry, paint second coat, let dry.
If you are still seeing your line color through the paint, do a third color coat.
After everything is dry…It’s time!  It’s time!
It’s time to peel off the tape and see your creation!
Look at those perfect lines!
Can you believe it?  It’s so beautiful!
Display it on your mantle for all to see!
You’ll need to start taking orders for family Christmas gifts, now!
Just so you don’t think I’m some brillant crafting genius who thought this up myself…
This idea was um…borrowed from here.
My son attended art camp and came home with this creation.
I was completely blown away and had to know how he did this!
He loved teaching me all the steps…I’m just sharing the love!!  Enjoy!
I’d love to have you stop by my blog and say ‘hi’!

 Thanks again for having me, Jennifer!