Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unconventional Art Gallery

Would you like to find a way to display the kids' artwork without it taking over the refrigerator or cluttering up the walls?  I have a hate relationship with clutter, but I do love my kids' artwork.

This idea, courtesy of my good friend G, allows us to have the best of both worlds.  Hang artwork on a blank wall in the laundry room/laundry closet.  Almost all of us have at least SOME blank space in there.

I used inexpensive frames from a big-box-store.  I love the reward of viewing their creations when I finish putting away all the laundry.  My laundry space has become a happy space!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dry Erase Marker on Plastic

At my daughter's last birthday party I allowed her guests to write on plastic patio cups and plates I have.  It helped us stay in our birthday budget, and provided way more entertainment than I'd anticipated.

The predicament arose the next day, when I removed them from the dishwasher and realized the marks weren't coming off, as they do on plastic containers I use.  

I tried several different cleaners with no luck, until finally, I found a solution that worked.

Wouldn't you know plain old rubbing alcohol did the trick?  Alcohol is the reason hand sanitizer cleans windows and dry-erase boards.  My hand sanitizer didn't contain enough alcohol in it for these cups, but alcohol sure did the trick.

I'm so excited to add this new weapon to my cleaning arsenal!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Love Your Feet

Are cracked heels, dirty feet or stinky feet a problem for you during the summer months?  If so, Suzanne Carlile has some great tips for creating presentable feet.  So love your feet and read the tips she listed on the site Kohl's Healthy Kids: Mommy Medicine.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Put the Straw Back in the Strawberry

How can you hull a strawberry without a strawberry gadget?  Use a straw!  Genius!

Photo courtesy of Amy from New Nostalgia
Amy's brain must hurt for coming up with this one!  You can read more about her original idea on her blog, New Nostalgia.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Upcycle Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns

Photo courtesy of cooljuno411 via
We're in the thick of grilling season again.  This means we'll all have to figure out what to do with all those leftover hamburger and hot dog buns.  In a perfect world, the number of buns eaten would equal the number of hot dogs and hamburgers consumed.  Unfortunately, this is not heaven.

So, rather than tossing them (waste not, want not), let's turn them into CROUTONS!  Really, really yummy croutons that will store in our pantries for a long while.  And next time we have a craving for a yummy summer salad, homemade croutons are readily available.

Here's my method:

Cut the leftover buns into crouton-sized cubes.  For every 6 cups of bread cubes, toss in a plastic bag or large bowl with 4 Tablespoons melted salted butter and 1 clove minced garlic (if you want garlic croutons).  Arrange the seasoned cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until crispy and dry.

This works with day old bread or week old bread.  Just make sure it's not growing mold!  :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Girl and Her Shelf

This past December I started a DIY project while the kids were with my mom.  To my great surprise, I finished without any assistance from the hubby.  And I'm telling you, if I can do it, so can you!

It started with a desire for a place to display my girls' beloved trophies and to hang their bags.  I wasn't able to find anything store-bought that was big enough.

I stumbled upon this photo on Pinterest from the blog Our Vintage Home Love and it was my inspiration for the project:

The project began with a trip to Lowe's.  I purchased white paint, a small paint tray, painter's caulk, regular nails, finishing nails, (I'm still not sure what the difference is.) screws, and satin nickel hooks (I returned to the hooks to Lowe's after a trip to Hobby Lobby, but that's a story for later.):

I had the patient employees at Lowe's cut the wood and crown molding to size: (The employees were true gentlemen and really held my hand through the project.)

First, I painted the wood and the crown white:

Once I glued and nailed all the pieces together like the Lowe's employees showed me, then I brought it inside to dry: 

I attached these beautiful hooks from Hobby Lobby:

Because I didn't know of anyone experienced with a miter saw, I wasn't able to finish the edges with the crown the way I would have liked to.  I now know of someone that can do that.  I'll be asking him for a huge favor if I ever need to make something like this in the future. 

And here is the finished product (with not so great lighting):

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Foods that Fight Sickness

Photo of oats courtesy of Phil Dubois via
According to Women's Health Magazine, there are certain foods that can boost immunity.  Listed on this site are:

Chamomile Tea
Olive or Nut oils
Whey protein (found in yogurt)
Butterbur herbal supplement
Sports drink (most surprising to me)
Red wine (wish I liked it)
Chili peppers (the hotter the better)
Reduce food intake in general

To read more about the studies that led to this list, read the full article here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Family Night

Photo courtesy of John-Morgan via
Several years ago, two sweet ladies drove from two states away to share tips and parenting ideas with a small group of young moms in a living room here.  One had been a mentor to a mentor of ours, and she really helped cast a vision for what godly motherhood looks like. Our families have greatly benefited from their sacrifices.

One of the ideas given was regarding a regular Family Night.  One woman said her family had pizza and a movie every Friday night, and that Friday nights were "sacred".  They never agreed to do things that would interrupt it, unless it was completely necessary.  The mentor-of-our-mentor mom shared that her family rotates ideas for Family Night, and that each time it had a different personality.

When I pitched the idea to my man, he loved it, and we've had a rotating Family Night, ever since.  Everyone in our family looks forward to it.

Here's how it works, our rotation starts with Daddy, then Mama and then kids, in their birth order.  Until a child turned 4, he or she was not allowed to choose.  And honestly, when they were younger than that, they didn't even notice!

Each person has to choose the food, the activity, and possibly dessert, and there is a $20 budget, which rolls over if we don't spend money one night.  

Here are some of the fun things we've tried:
  • Eating Out Night - My hubby's top choice, finished off with a dessert at home or no dessert at all.
  • Ice Cream Sundae Night - Create an ice cream sundae bar for dessert after a light dinner.
  • Movie Night - Rent a movie and eat taco dip, nachos, popcorn or pizza in front of the TV.
  • Family Video Night - Same as above but with home videos.
  • Themed Movie Night - Watch a movie and eat themed food with it, i.e. Ratatouille.
  • Game Night - Play board games or video games as a family, with TV snacks.
  • Scavenger Hunt - Indoors or out.
  • Park Night - Pack a picnic and visit a local park or playground.
  • Hot Cocoa Night - Create a hot chocolate bar for the winter months.
  • Pet Shopping - Take your pet to a local pet store and pick out treats for him/her.  Treat a neighbor's pet, if you don't have one.
  • Indoor Picnic - Rearrange the living room furniture, lay a picnic blanket down and roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the fireplace.
  • Play-Doh Night - Create.  You may even want to compete.  My husband won.
  • Midnight Movie - Okay, so maybe not midnight, but have a "lame family night" and once the kids are good and asleep, wake them to find a rearranged living room and buttered popcorn for a late night showing.
  • Carnival - Go to a local carnival or fair. 
  • Flashlight Tag - Indoors.
  • Train Ride - Find a train to ride.  Our local mall has one.
  • Candy Store - Eat a small dinner and then find a candy store to raid for dessert.
  • Toy Store - Go to a local toy store and window shop.  The kids can bring their money, if it's been earned.
  • Family Walk - Take a long stroll somewhere, the kids can bring their bikes.
  • High School Game Night - Go to your local high school team's home game.
  • Pool Night - Go to your neighborhood pool with a pizza for dinner.
  • Reverse Night - Allow the kids to act like parents for the night.  They can eat whatever they want, stay up as late as they want, but they have to make dinner, clean the kitchen and put the parents to bed (parents can watch a movie).  If they break anything they have to pay to replace it, just like Mama and Daddy would.
  • Thankfulness Night - Set aside a night to remember all the ways God has been faithful to you as a family. 
  • Window Shopping - Eat dinner at home and walk around downtown.  Sometimes we enjoy cupcakes from our favorite local bakery.
  • Downtown Festivals - Take advantage of seasonal events that take place in your hometown.
  • Fire Pit Roast - Roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the backyard, make S'mores.
  • Valentines Night - Create a handmade Valentine each to give a friend, and eat heart cookies for dessert.
  • Christmas Lights - Drive around after dinner and enjoy Christmas lights; don't forget the music.
  • Gingerbread Decorating - Decorate a gingerbread house or create a graham cracker nativity together.
  • Pumpkin Carving - Let everyone carve or paint a pumpkin.
  • Easter Egg Dying Party - Create all kinds of egg decor.  We love rubber bands.
These are ideas I'd like for us to try:
  • Camping - In the living room or outside.
  • Family Soccer Game - In the backyard.
  • Memory Book - Run the laptop to the TV and create a photo book together, or create one the old-fashioned way with scrapbook supplies.

What Family Night ideas do you have or have you tried as a family?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Save Money at the Coffee Shop

Photo courtesy of Marco Arment via
Next time you go to your favorite coffee shop, try this tip to save money and calories.  Rather than ordering your usual latte, try a Misto instead.  (A latte is typically a shot of espresso topped off with steamed milk, while a misto is half brewed coffee, half milk.)  On average, you'll save about $0.50 a cup, and about 80 calories with a Grande size.

When you order with flavorings, rather than requesting a Pumpkin Spice Latte, simply ask for a Pumpkin Spice Misto, a White Chocolate Misto, or a Caramel Misto etc. There will only be a slight difference in taste.  (A former Starbucks employee told me you get a tad more caffeine in a Misto, too, because brewed coffee typically has more caffeine than espresso shots.  Yay for caffeine!)

And, if you want to go even further, order a Short (8 oz) drink, instead of a Tall (12 oz)Grande (16 oz) or Venti (20 oz).  A Short is not on the Starbucks menu, either - it's the kids' size.  You'll save a few pennies and calories with that size, too.  Of course you have to be in the mood for just a little coffee, but it usually does the trick for me!

FYI, cafe' misto is the Starbucks term (and is not on the menu), other coffee houses may refer to it as a cafe au lait.

So drink up, and let us know how it was!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Storing Clothes

Every year we start to dread changing out seasonal clothes in our home.  But it has to be done and it may as well be done with efficiency.

A friend of mine gave me the idea to no longer use bins to store clothes, but instead use Ziploc Big Bags.  They are a quarter of the price and don't take up as much space.  Plus, they're much lighter and easier to toss down from the attic.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here I Raise Mine Ebeneezer

Do you struggle sometimes to remember just how faithful God has been to you and your family?  We do, for sure!  Our family started a new "remembering" tradition a few years back.

To read more about this Ebeneezer stone idea on our local church's children's ministry blog, click here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dip Containers

We love using dips.  Whether it is a fiesta ranch ip for veggies, a toffee dip for apples or Chocolate Covered Katie's healthy Cookie Dough Dip with graham crackers, we're always dunking and dipping in this house.  It's just more fun, right?

So when I pack a lunch for the kids, I want to send them a fun dip as a treat.  The dilemma is that finding a dip container that is small enough to fit in their lunch box and one that won't pop open, making a huge mess.  

One afternoon I was on the phone with a friend and we were brainstorming about what containers we could use.  This is the idea we came up with.  I'll give you a hint, it's the same size as these disposable souffle containers for sauce or dressing, but it's reusable, colorful, inexpensive and you probably already have one in your kids' toy box:

Miniature play-doh containers!

Simply remove the label, run it through the dishwasher and you have a colorful petite-sized dip container.  It will not pop open, it will fit in the Easy Lunchbox system and my kids tell me it's a great conversation starter with their friends.

Save the actual play-doh for a kit like this one and if you have any containers left over, they also make great on-the-go homemade diaper rash ointment containers.

These are some photos I snapped last week as I was packing lunches.

My daughter's pretzels with spicy mustard for dipping:

My son's pretzels and spicy mustard:

Fiesta ranch greek yogurt my daughter affectionately calls "Dorito Dip-Dip":

"Dorito Dip Dip" covered with carrots:

P.S. My 6-year old asked me to please label it so her friends didn't think she was actually eating play-doh for lunch.  :)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cookie Disaster Fix

photo courtesy of slgckgc on
Ever work hard to prepare cookies then forget to set the timer? (Enter burned cookies.)

Ugh!  Me, too.  Next time this happens to you, don't trash the cookies right away.  If they're only burned on the bottom, you can possibly salvage them with your box grater:

Using the side with the smallest holes (the one used for zesting lemons or grating nutmeg), "grate" the black parts right off the cookie.  
(This tip is from Sarah Moulton on an episode of the Rachael Ray show.)

Another tip to prevent cookies from burning on the bottom is to invest in a stoneware baking sheet.  I use a Pampered Chef one from back in the day, but there are many new ones to choose from.  If your cookies are burned on the bottom on that pan, they'll be burned all the way through.  It really does heat evenly.  It's a baker's best friend.  :)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Card "Books"

I love pictures.  And I hate throwing them away.  I was so excited when I saw this idea on Pinterest.  It's a great way to display and enjoy all those fun Christmas cards throughout the years, once the card display comes down.

The detailed instructions on making these books (and the original idea) is from Close 2 My Art.

You'll need a 3-hole punch and can adjust it to make 2 holes in all the cards.  I used my old daytimer one because the holes were adjusted to the right size.

You'll also need some inexpensive book rings to bind them together.  I made books from the last four years  in less than 20 minutes.

I plan to pull these books out every year for Christmas and display them on our coffee table.  My kids love flipping through them.  And the "book cover" is always new, because they're always flipping through and leaving the last photo on top.

Yay, for not throwing photos away!