Sunday, December 15, 2013

HINT: Christmas Gifts for your Wife

Dear Husband,

I know you are struggling (as you do every holiday/birthday/anniversary) with what to get me as a token of your love. So I thought I would help you out a little – no, I’m not going to BUY MY OWN GIFTS. That would be too easy! It’s not that I want to make it hard on you – seriously. It isn’t that difficult! I just want to feel loved with material things. ;) Here are a few questions for you to answer before you go shopping an hour before stores close on Christmas Eve: 

  1. What would make my life easier? There is something I complain about ALL the time. There are MANY things I complain about. So go now to your dark place and think of those things…. Those nagging, bitching, irritating things. And then fix it, buy it, get rid of it!  … Whatever complaints I have made over the past few months …. Take care of it for me! Broken dish washer? Fix it! No dish washer? BINGO. There’s one of the many gifts I expect this Christmas. Not enough mugs to drink out of? Buy me a dozen! Always tripping over your shoes? Get rid of them! And by that I mean, buy something to take care of the shoes-all-over-the-living-room problem.  Yes.  A shoe organizer. You’re catching on quick!
  2. What would make me feel adored?  Something extra. Something I don’t need. Something that I often use/wear/want. You’ve seen me put on a necklace every day before work. Buy me a new one! You’ve seen me work endless hours on my hobby … get me better tools, a fancy thing-a-ma-jig, and a do-hickey to compliment my efforts. (Please … please tell me you know what my hobby is!? Go look on my pinterest account, eh? It should be loud and clear.) Basically, what do I do every single day to make myself feel pretty, feel sane, or just feel like a human? Buy me more.
  3. Who (or what!) else can do my job? You’ve watched me spend my free time keeping the house clean. Buy me a maid! Once a month for the entire year someone can come into our home and spend 2-3 hours cleaning, organizing, SOMETHING! Dear God, give me a BREAK! (Or see "dishwasher" in part 1.)
  4. What would make me speechless? Go ahead. You know you want me to shut up for a minute! Buy me something that would blow me away. A real dream come true! So far out there that it’s virtually unrealistic; A vacation. A car. A weekend away. Yes. That’s it! A weekend away. No guilt. No strings. And by all means NO CHILDREN. And if I’m being honest … no YOU either. Let me relax. Let me manage my own 48 hours. However I want. In my current responsibilities, THAT is absolutely unrealistic and unexpected. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

The Happiest Wife on Christmas Morning

PS. Don't ASK me if I want _____ for Christmas. Just surprise me! I DON'T WANT TO KNOW AHEAD OF TIME! <--- I wrote that in all caps because I was, indeed, shouting.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Calendar: Repurposed Christmas Cards

This year I was inspired by this dear friend to create an Advent Calendar - each day leading up to Christmas there is a new activity or sentiment shared. I love creating memories and this seems like the perfect way to experience the holidays with my little family.

While Pinterest has plenty of ideas and fancy creations for the count down, we've been struck with the Great Thanksgiving Flu of 2013 and I needed something simple (and as always - cheap!) to make.

If you're as sentimental as I am, I bet you keep Christmas cards from years past gently stored in a seasonal box. Year after year the cards are displayed around my home to remember loved ones near and far, past and present.

The handmade cards and signatures of loved ones no longer with us are precious mementos.

The cards themselves are beautiful and festive. What better way to re-purpose them than to turn them into an Advent Calendar!?

I simply cut the cards in half (carefully saving the greeting/signature portion for another project!) and wrote on the back of the cards - one activity for each of the days leading up to Christmas.

Hang them up on garland, ribbon, or on a streamer like I did and you've got yourself a fun way to display your cards while counting down to Christmas! (If you use a streamer limit 6 cards per column - otherwise the streamer will tear from the weight!)

Here are the activities for our calendar:

1. Decorate the front porch for Christmas
2. Make a popcorn garland
3. Make paper snowflakes (if you don't want to make them, try them virtually! This is our favorite site for it:
4. Go through your toys and donate ones you no longer play with
5. Have dinner with candles and the light of the Christmas tree
6. Watch a Christmas movie and don't forget the popcorn!
7. Set up the nativity and read the story in the bible
8. Go to Dunkin Donuts and enjoy a tasty treat
9. Make a gingerbread house
10. Go to McAdenville (a nearby town that decorates every house and every street) Don't forget the hot cocoa and candy canes for the trip!
11. Sing and play Christmas carols
12. Add candy canes to the tree and watch this video on how they are made:
13. Make an ornament for the tree and some to share
14. Mail Christmas cards and packages
15. Make a paper chain to countdown 10 days until Christmas
16. Ok. You can go to Dunkin Donuts ONE more time. :)
17. Open one present early!
18. Visit Santa at the mall and eat dinner out
19. Bring a present and Christmas card to an elderly neighbor
20. Drive through town and look at the lights in the neighborhood
21. Call your grandparents and sing a Christmas carol (or any relative far away)
22. Bake Christmas cookies and deliver some to the neighbors
23. Wrap Christmas gifts for the family
24. Light candles and tell stories of things we miss and remember loved ones no longer with us
25. Pray for our soldiers and their families before opening our own gifts

Maybe you don't have the energy for 25 days but you might for 10 or 5 ... please don't let the traditions other people follow be an overwhelming cloud over your holidays. Guilt and stress don't go well with the true Christmas spirit! I simply want to encourage you to be intentional about how you celebrate whether it's 10 days or 2 hours! My daughter is turning 6 this month and it's the first time I've tried (or had the energy!) to implement the Advent Calendar.

However you celebrate, I pray it brings you closer to your neighbors and loved ones this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

~The Hofmasters

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Bouquet of Airplanes

When I moved into a new office a year ago....

No. Let me back up.

My husband and I married 6 years ago and moved into an old mill house in North Carolina. We were surrounded by fake wood paneling and I knew I needed some creative ways to decorate and brighten up our home. With vibrant colors and a plethora of white accessories I have turned our wooden cave into a cozy and colorful place ... yet I still see brown paneling everywhere I look.

Prior to being married, I lived in apartments that I cherished as a canvas for my creativity. Gold stairs. Pastel bedroom. Deep blue and bright yellow kitchen walls. A gorgeous gray-purple living room. I loved color.

We've moved a few times and our current mill house has two rooms with white walls. I could paint. However, the rest of the house is still brown and I appreciate the white contrast as a soothing element in the otherwise dark house.

I moved into a new office last September and when my boss asked "What color would you like your office?"  I could have hugged her til she turned blue! I had walls!! And I could put COLOR on all of them! I chose a beautiful green that brings peace to my analytical job. It  made me feel like I was standing in the middle of a meadow breathing slow and encouraging calm! I can't tell you how good that was for my soul. COLOR! On my WALLS! I wanted to cling to them like a sucker fish!

I quickly scoured the internet for more colors, ideas, and creativity I could add to my 40 hours a week. That's when I found a fabulous blog called "Two Girls Being Crafty". I loved their scrapbook paper leaves! So I marked it in pinterest under "new office" and bought a few supplies at the local craft store.
Two Girls Being Crafty

I plunged deep into the new job and put my craftiness on a shelf thinking I'd get to it "soon". Night after night I collapsed on the couch, just happy to be home. I had no energy for projects and crafts. "Soon" turned into months. But I kept thinking about the leaves. 

In the meantime, I came across this artist and her obsession with paper airplanes. I've been mesmerized by it! While I didn't have brain power to accomplish what Sharon and Tristin had so beautifully crafted, and certainly not what Natalie created ... I did have a few brain cells left to continue thinking about how I would go about making my office a little more me.

Natalie Rose Art
Now that a full year has passed since my office was painted a very happy green, I thought I'd celebrate by FINALLY getting to that project. ... It has swirled in my mind long enough! Today, I decided to marry these two pieces together!
"Bouquet of Airplanes" by Jacqui Hofmaster
Items needed: 
Floral wire
Double sided scrapbook paper
Hot glue gun
Sample airplane to test the size

Fold, fold, and fold some more!

 With a few scraps I made leaves - hearts to glue together over the stems.

Put it all together with a dab of glue and a twist and smile! You're finished!
Hofmade "Bouquet of Airplanes"

I hope Two Girls Being Crafty and Natalie Rose Art inspire you to create something fun in your space! I can't wait to bring this simple but fun vase of airplanes to the office!

What projects are on your shelf waiting to be finished?

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fool's Day Cookies

Oh what joy this day brings.
Just thinking about pranks thrills me to tears!
I decided to make up a tasty treat for my family along with a few other low-key pranks.

April Fool's Day Chocolate Chip Cookies:

She wasn't very happy with me when I told her what they were ... she was too keen on these - knew something wasn't quite right and never actually tried one.

Did you figure it out? 

These are baked taters and black beans!!!
Simply delicious if you're expecting garlic, salt, sour cream, and potatoes! 
Here's how:
1. Whip up your favorite mashed potato recipe (I used 3 medium potatoes)
2. Mix in a few drops of yellow food coloring (3 drops was enough for this batch)
3. Stir in 1/2 can rinsed black beans
4. Then drop on a cookie sheet in a 350* oven for 30-45 minutes ... until golden on the top.

These will taste delicious with a little salsa at dinner time! 
By the way: I did make REAL cookies so as not to completely disappoint the family! ;)

For all you Pinterest Fools ..... happy pinning!

Not only did I prank today, but we also dyed a few things: 

Julia's Bunny checking out the eggs:

After the eggs were done I hated to waste all that beautiful color - so we dyed rice. Not sure what we'll do with this, but it feels right to have festive rice laying around.

I hope you fully enjoy April 1st - no matter what you get into!

One more thing .... 
if you have any leftover color disks/pellets from the Easter egg kit ... pop one into your kitchen faucet. Makes for a fantastic blast of color when the next person turns on the water!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Black Bean Burgers

Tonight we experiment with our first ever homemade black bean burgers.

I've found recipes as simple as this one and as complicated as this one. Somewhere in between there must be a tasty medium.

I decided to make up my own version ... quite tasty!

Rinse and drain 1 can of black beans
Saute onions, green bell peppers, mushrooms (I added a few other chopped veggies I had left over from a salad; carrots and radishes being some of them)
Add 75% of beans and 100% sauteed mixture into the food processor - pulse until combined.
Add 1 egg, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, remaining black beans - stir all together.
Form into 4 patties - VERY sticky.
Pour small amount of olive oil in hot pan, add burgers and let cook 5-8 minutes per side.
After you flip the burger, add slices of your favorite cheese.
Grill your buns lightly on the stove.
Add tomato, lettuce, ketchup & mustard - ENJOY.

I wish there was a list of the essential ingredients necessary for it all to come together.... like ... Pick one veggie from this list, pick two from here, add an egg and bread crumbs - voila. I'll keep trying. It was good enough to experiment with and I'm sure I'll make an even more amazing burger in the future.

If you've never had one, don't expect it to take like a hamburger - expect it to taste like a black bean burger. (If that's not helpful advice I don't know what is!)

Here's how my version turned out:

Plenty of spice, full of flavor, a little too pasty, but very filling. Bake up some sweet potato fries and you've got yourself a Sunday night meal!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cranberry Lemon Garland

Fruit overhaul: The lemon saga.

(Originally posted 10/2010 on

We enjoy fresh food and occasionally buy more produce than we can actually eat in a week. Bananas are never on that list, however. No matter how many we buy we always seem to need more. It happens like this: I'm walking in the produce section with the wobbly cart that keeps veering left ... I've got my list, I'm checking it twice when I see the big sign that says "these are yummy and you should buy two!". So I do (because who wants to fight the sign?) and before we know it a week has gone by and we haven't even touched the yummy two-fers.

Sadly, we've thrown away more produce than I'd like to list. You'd think we had a slew of pigs out back and were insistent they eat organic and what's "in season". Inevitably something goes bad before we get around to preparing/using it in a meal or for whatever it was intended. I guess this is where meal planning would come in handy.

This morning when I realized the bag of lemons we bought well over a week ago was still loitering on the kitchen table I decided to tackle the job of making lemonade. Because, you know ... when life gives you lemons ....

juicing and cleaning the lemons

Not only did I have a large amount of juice and pulp, I now had a dozen bright yellow lemon peels with which to tease Martha Stewart. I was certain I would find a gazillion recipes and craft projects on the newest, coolest Martha thing to do with the zesty rinds ... but no! Just some candied treats and the smallest measuring spoon added to your baking. I was in need of a serious lemon solution.

"Why?" You ask. "Because you can't just throw them away! I'm sure they can be used for something!" the hoarder replies.

Yup. I totally get that show. Every single thing CAN be used for something. But ... uh ... I'm in recovery. So ...

lemon peels

So I went off the grid. Running my own show. Crafting like nobody has flickred/blogged/how-to'd before! I'm hoping these last a few months but from the research I've done I'm guessing they'll be ready for the swines in about 4 weeks. If you want these around for Thanksgiving I suggest making them in the beginning of November.

lemon peel cranberry garland

And I'm selling them, too. It's my million dollar idea. Seriously. I was thinking of just hanging them in the doorway but you can hang them on your curtain rod. Only I'd need to make the sign that says "They're yummy. You should buy two."

lemon peel cranberry garland

Hit me up if you'd like to order some for the pigs Holidays.


Pin it!

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Welcome to our world!

We're a small family looking for ways to enjoy life on a small budget. After a layoff two years into our marriage we had to regroup and rethink how we use, spend, give, and relate -- not only to each other but to this community we live in. Gardens and bread and bees are among the things we're nurturing this year. (THOM is really doing most of that work!) Join us on our journey to grow, dream, and dare!

~ The Hofmasters

Jacqui & Thom Hofmaster pose in their favorite room of the house!
Julia, relaxing on the front porch.