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Tonia Loy | Contributor

Tonia Loy is the Mail Lifestyle Columnist covering Food, Arts & Crafts, and Do It Yourself topics. She is from Peoria, Illinois, and is the owner of Great Cake Adventure Bakery. She attended ICC and NIU for art and design.

 


How to Make a Dreamcatcher
Arts and Crafts

How to Make a Dreamcatcher

In Native American culture, dream catchers were believed to catch and trap bad dreams, whilst allowing good dream to pass through the spider-web design, and drift into the heads of the children that lie sleeping below them. Nowadays, dreamcatchers come in many shapes and sizes, and are an incredibly popular bedroom decor choice! If you’re ready for some sweet dreams, why not learn how to make a dreamcatcher?  READ MORE...

Food  |  August 22, 2021
Baked to Perfection Ziti

Baked to Perfection Ziti

The key to creating a perfect Baked Ziti is to keep it from drying out. This classic Italian baked pasta dish is made by layering penne noodles, sauce and cheese. Once it is prepared correctly, however, it will become the only way you make it.

Do It Yourself  |  August 15, 2021
Small Raised Paver Patio

Small Raised Paver Patio

Sometimes you are in the middle of a project and realize you need something else! This happened to me when I was creating my back garden scape. I placed my new Adirondack chairs in there place. They were a perfect fit, if the ground didn’t slope down in the back! I knew I needed to make an elevated bed for them. I had recently found a ton of old pavers in the yard and knew this was the spot for them. 

Arts and Crafts  |  August 8, 2021
Pour Painting

Pour Painting

Our neighbors introduced my son and I to pour painting! It was so much fun! He is still talking about it. 

Food  |  August 1, 2021
Balsamic Chicken

Balsamic Chicken

These tender Balsamic Chicken Breasts are easy to make in the oven or on the grill! You are going to love this flavorful and super juicy chicken dinner recipe.

Gardening  |  July 25, 2021
Four Season Garden

Four Season Garden

Sometimes you can get stuck in a rut and wonder how to keep your perennial gardens looking beautiful and full of color throughout the entire growing season, and even year-round. One of the biggest benefits of growing perennials in your garden instead of annual flowers is that perennials last for many years… but the downside is that perennial flowers only bloom for a short time.

Arts and Crafts  |  July 18, 2021
Start a Daily Sketchbook

Start a Daily Sketchbook

I bought a new planner and sketchbook today. It reminded me of the easier days of my youth. I felt like I found a piece of me that was missing. Don’t get me wrong I create things everyday, but this is a different kind of freedom. A way to put your thoughts on paper, that only you understand. 

Food  |  July 11, 2021
Moist Carrot Cake

Moist Carrot Cake

Practically everyone has a carrot cake recipe that they think is the best, but after just one bite of our extra moist carrot cake recipe we think you’ll reconsider! Fresh baby carrots already peeled make preparation so much easier and faster, but if you already have a bag of carrots in the fridge that need to be trimmed and peeled, go for it! Just make sure to throw in a few extra to bring the weight back up to one pound—after all it is called carrot cake for a reason. If you feel you need to make the layers more level, trim them but don’t let the scraps go to waste! Dry them in a warm oven, turn them into crumbs and press them into the sides of the frosted cake for a decorative touch.

Do It Yourself  |  July 4, 2021
Hopscotch Stepping Stones for the Garden

Hopscotch Stepping Stones for the Garden

This week I want to share a project from Garden Therapy! I haven’t had a chance to make them for my yard, but I plan on it soon! 

Do It Yourself  |  June 27, 2021
Painted Ottoman

Painted Ottoman

Painted my juice-stained ottoman…it worked! My first mistake was buying a cream-colored cloth storage ottoman, with two young boys. My two-year-old had the wells filled with juice within an hour of getting it home.

Food  |  June 20, 2021
Mudd's Pasta Salad

Mudd's Pasta Salad

This Vegetable Pasta Salad is a crowd favorite! My sister (Mudd) has to make it for every family event! It’s a running joke that she brings that and I bring pecan coffee cake! This easy, vegan pasta salad recipe is fun twist on a summer classic with fresh vegetables and pasta tossed with Italian dressing and served cold.

Do It Yourself  |  June 13, 2021
DIY Fire Pit

DIY Fire Pit

With summertime approaching, there is nothing more fun than sitting around a fire pit with your friends or family! Well, maybe a tropical trip! Fire pits are a great way to add some fun to a yard! With a little hard work and some elbow grease, you’ll have one in no time. We put one in at our last home and loved it, I can’t wait to do it again! 

Do It Yourself  |  June 6, 2021
Planting a Living Memorial

Planting a Living Memorial

“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near; still loved, still missed and very dear” – Anonymous

Food  |  May 30, 2021
No Bake Caramel Cookies

No Bake Caramel Cookies

I want to share a recipe from My Little Dairy Blog, for my mom! This cookie is perfect for her! It would also be great with Nutella and pecan chips! Smooth salted caramel, crunchy toffee chips, and chocolate wrapped up in super easy No Bake Caramel Cookies! I can’t think of a thing not to love about these cookies!

Do It Yourself  |  May 23, 2021
Faux Tin Ceiling

Faux Tin Ceiling

After remodeling our kitchen and removing the wall we had a big patch on our ceiling that was unfinished. We tossed around lots of ideas about how to repair or cover it. Ultimately, we decided on plastic tiles! 

Arts and Crafts  |  May 16, 2021
Tie dye!

Tie dye!

With summer break on its way, what’s more fun than a tie dye project! You can buy a tie dye kit or you can buy the colors and supplies individually. You can tie due anything from a shirt to a bag, even a mask or headband. Put a twist on tie dye with the spiral tie-dye technique! Whether you use one color or four, you'll love the winding effects!

Food  |  May 9, 2021
Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi

Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi

This week, I would like to share a recipe from one of my go to websites, CafeDelites.com. Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi can be enjoyed as an appetizer/light meal or for dinner with your favorite pasta of choice. You can also keep it low carb and serve over zucchini noodles or with steamed cauliflower. Either way it’s delicious and even better than an Italian restaurant Scampi.

Do It Yourself  |  May 2, 2021
Preparing a Walkway for Concrete

Preparing a Walkway for Concrete

Form and pour a new concrete sidewalk, the perfect first concrete project for the beginner. Replace that ugly, cracked walk with a flat, smooth new one. We show you how to build forms and then place and smooth the wet concrete, all with first class results. You save big money too.

Arts and Crafts  |  April 25, 2021
Resin 101

Resin 101

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite mediums to work with, resin! It’s so versatile and can be used with most art mediums and several home projects.

Food  |  April 18, 2021
Funfetti Cake

Funfetti Cake

April is my birthday month!!! Let’s make a delicious cake! This recipe is from the online Blog Pretty. Simple. Sweet! As you may know, I own and operate a small in-home bakery and love experimenting with cake and cookie recipes.

Do It Yourself  |  April 11, 2021
Wainscoting an Island/Wall

Wainscoting an Island/Wall

Sometimes we have a wall that just needs something! Maybe a fresh coat of paint or trim. In our case we had to take a wall out to make our room look bigger and more open. We knew we wanted to have a pass through or take it out completely. After contacting a contractor to remove the wall (there are somethings I won’t even attempt), we found out that it was not load bearing wall and we were able to take it out completely without a header! Score, right! Luckily, our contractor is also my sister’s Dad, Norm! He is always there for me and willing to listen to my endless ideas! I’m truly happy to have him in my life. He teaches me the tricks of the trade, while trying my way on occasion. 

Arts and Crafts  |  April 4, 2021
How to Etch Glass

How to Etch Glass

When my husband and I got married, I wanted to make some custom gifts for our wedding party. I chose to make custom beer steins and wine glasses! If you’ve never tried it, this is actually something you can easily do at home. It’s super easy and cheap!

Food  |  March 28, 2021
Baked Tortellini Casserole

Baked Tortellini Casserole

Baked Tortellini Casserole

Do It Yourself  |  March 21, 2021
Outdoor Side Table

Outdoor Side Table

How often are you looking for just the right piece of furniture and never find it. After looking at several stores for the perfect outdoor side table and not finding one under one hundred dollars. I decided to make one! I needed a rectangular table and could only find circular or square. So here we go!

Arts and Crafts  |  March 14, 2021
How to Make a Rope Coil Basket

How to Make a Rope Coil Basket

I have always been a maker of all things. I love to create new projects or build things. Most people don’t like repetitive work, but I like it! It relaxes my mind and calms me. Making this coil basket is perfect for relaxing. The repetition of the stitches is soothing and random. No need for perfection on this! I have a rule: if I can make it, don’t buy it. One of my favorite bloggers feels the same way. I was inspired by her and her blog(we are scout) for this project. 

Food  |  March 7, 2021
French Macarons

French Macarons

Before we start off with these delicious cookies, I want to start with some tips. These cookies take very precise measurements. If you have a food scale that’s great, if not it’s ok! 

Do It Yourself  |  February 28, 2021
How to Build a Faux Brick Wall

How to Build a Faux Brick Wall

Hands down, the most talked about feature in our home is the faux brick wall.  Not one person stepping into the dining room thinks that it wasn’t real brick.  This project cost us about one hundred dollars and made a huge image in our home!

Arts and Crafts  |  February 21, 2021
String Art!

String Art!

First time for everything! When you create something new or you figure out something you have been working on, that’s the best feeling in arts and crafts. This week I wanted to branch out and try something completely new. I’ve had my eye on string art for awhile now and decided that was what I wanted to try. I’m going to share my process and some tips from the pros! 

Food  |  February 14, 2021
Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

Do It Yourself  |  February 7, 2021
How To: Tile a Backsplash

How To: Tile a Backsplash

If you want to make a huge impact in a kitchen, change or install a backsplash. You can change the entire feel of the room, with this few day project. This knowledge can be used in a kitchen, bathroom or anywhere tile is desired.

Arts and Crafts  |  January 31, 2021
The Art of Crafts

The Art of Crafts

As children, we are encouraged to be creative in play and to develop our imaginary worlds. During childhood our minds are the most open to creating things, because we haven’t created walls yet. As Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” As we age, our brains form new adventures and we forget about those creative places our adolescent brain took us. We may have occasional memories or Déjà vu of the magic. Don’t worry about missing this as we can all go back to those fun creative, magical times. All you need are a few simple supplies and an open mind. 

Food  |  January 24, 2021
Granny’s Biscuits and Gravy

Granny’s Biscuits and Gravy

During these trying times we could all use some comfort food. Some of my earliest memories revolve around my grandparent’s kitchen. The sound of all my cousins running in and out of the house as my grandpa yelled the  “in or out, we aren’t heating the outdoors.” My favorite spot was always next to my grandma. She was patient and kind. The house smelled so good all the time, there were a lot of mouths to feed. As soon as I was old enough to help cook my granny would pull up a kitchen chair and let me help. She would always place her soft hands on my cheek and smile. It was my favorite place on Earth. This sweet woman just passed away leaving this world a better place than when she came into it. I can’t think of a better way to honor her memory than to to share a recipe that is close to my heart, my Granny’s biscuits and gravy. She loved the simple things in life, but there was nothing simple about her. 

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