Thursday, December 30, 2010

Weekly Menu Board

I’ve been a meal planner for years.  I have changed my methods as the situation suits.  Before kids when I worked full time, I would plan for about 3 weeks at a time.  Now that we have kids, are more health conscious, and are buying more fresh foods, I shop about once a week so I plan for about 7 or 8 meals at a time. 

This helps a ton with the shopping.  Execution…not so much.

It seems that I always forget to thaw something or don’t get the stuff in the crock pot early enough on days that I’m planning a slow cooker meal. 

I usually write down a tentative menu and put it on my fridge, but it’s so small, I rarely look at it on a regular business and just try to commit it to memory. 

Big fail this week.  I thawed a whole roaster chicken, a chuck roast, and a sirloin roast all this week and have failed miserably at getting them cooked.  (come on!  The sirloin roast is supposed to take 8-10 hours!  That’s a lot of forethought!)

So I’ve seen different “dry-erase” menu boards across the blogosphere like this one at Under the Table.  So I put my own spin it tonight and it took me all of an hour to make. 

I found this art frame at Wal-Mart for $14.00.  It’s 12 x 16 inches.  Nice and big


It swings open so you can store more kids art behind the frame, but instead I’m going to take advantage of the space and store the recipe cards for any recipes that I need that week.  Then they aren’t being moved all over the kitchen throughout the week after I pick them out. 


I bought a couple different fabrics at Jo-Ann’s.  The red one is like the material of reusable grocery bags that are being sold EVERYWHERE.  I was kind of surprised that they sold this kind of fabric and will have to file that away in my head for future use. 

The white one is some kind of towel fabric.  It’s cotton, has just a little bit of texture, and I was able to fray the edges after I cut the selvage off.  I found them both by the utility/burlap fabric.  That’s all I needed to know.


I bought a half yard of each for $4.00 total.  I could have used my coupon, but I forgot…oh well.  (There was a lot of extra red because it’s 60 inch wide fabric)

I cut the fabrics down to size, the red to fit snug (12 x 16) and the white an inch smaller all the way around (10 x 14).   I frayed the white edges some and glued them both to the paper sample picture that came in the frame.


Then using my Silhouette and Core’dinations cardstock, I cut out letters for the title and the first letter for each day of the week.  I lightly sanded the black Core’dinations to show the dark red through on the edges. 


Space them out where I wanted them (about every two inches down the side) and pop it back in the frame!  Easy Breezy!


I hung it on the blank end of my kitchen cabinets in a highly visible place using a couple of command hooks.  Then just use a dry erase marker on the glass to write down the meal for each day and it is an instant erasable surface!



Now if this doesn’t help me be more organized, then I’m a lost cause!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Kitchen Canister Set

I have a set of old Tupperware kitchen canisters.  They aren’t really pretty.  But they worked, and I hid them in the kitchen utility garage. 
I also have a glass corner cabinet above that garage.  It has gone widely unused.  There is a ton of space up there, so I mainly stash large bake ware that doesn’t have a home.  And the knives to keep them away from little fingers. 
I never really knew how to make it look right.  I thought about etching the glass on the cabinet, but was a little afraid I would mess it up and then have to call the custom cabinet place and say “whoops!” 
Instead, I found a solution that is functional and pretty at the same time.  This is the first of a several projects I have in mind to upgrade my kitchen décor over the next couple months. 
I started with these large jars found in the craft section at Hobby Lobby (another home away from home for me).  I got two of each size last week when they were on sale 50% off.  They also have a giant sized one that makes an awesome cookie jar that I once made for a gift.  The lids have a rubber gasket on them to keep them airtight.
Next I pulled out my Silhouette and my brand new red vinyl that I bought when everything was 40% off at the silhouette store on Black Friday weekend. 
I made a simple design in Silhouette Studio using the font “Café Rojo” and some simple brackets that I had in my Silhouette library.
I was blown away by the Studio program when I discovered how to use the “align” tools and line up and center my designs.  “Wow that was easy!” was all I could say.
Next I pulled away the negative portion
Put the design on transfer paper
Eyeballed it onto one of the larger canisters
Pull away the transfer tape and viola!
Repeat for each jar and fill them with the appropriate baking supplies
Put them in the cabinet like so
I just need to clean the glass (haha) and organize the other stuff in there so it’s farther back in the cabinet and not showing.  It’s really mainly stuff I rarely use anyhow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Garland Dilemma

So this year, I wanted a more classic look for the house.  My Christmas décor is mostly made up of cheap stuff that I’ve collected over the years.  I never really bought Christmas decorations intentionally and with a purpose. 
So after browsing many pictures I determined that I needed some good quality greenery/garland.  I have a lot of long surfaces in my house that needed something.  Entertainment center in the living room, china cabinet in the kitchen, space above the cabinets in the kitchen…you get the idea. 
I went on a hunt and was determined to not let money be the determining factor of a purchase because it was something I could use year after year.  And it would make me happy.  Which is priceless.  Well after hunting several craft stores for a couple hours, I was empty handed and sad.  Not only was the garland I found expensive, it just didn’t look good.  It was small and looked fake. 
There is nothing I hate more than the ideas in my head not translating into reality.  It is aggravating beyond words. 
So my husband suggested buying some real garland. 
But but but….it will die and dry out and it’s expensive!  But I was game and tried to let go of my thrifty ways just once. 
We took the kids on a trip to a local nursery Hensler’s nursery and found 25 feet of mixed garland for $32.  Boy was that worth it.  I used it for so much around the house, and since we have an artificial tree, we were able to get some real greenery in the house for less than the cost of a real tree.
Here’s how I used it.
Across the top of the entertainment center, accented with giant poinsettia stems from WalMart.
Top of the china cabinet with tinsel trees and Christmas subway art.
Then in the dining room, I draped the chandelier and made the centerpiece from what was left over.
So at least for now, until I can find garland that is up to my standards, I will be buying a rope of the real stuff, especially since it goes so far!

Christmas Subway Art

I seen this idea on Crafty Chic Momma’s blog and loved it.  I whipped one up Saturday and was in love with it!
First you need a board.  Any size/kind will do.  I used MDF that was about 10 inches by 15 inches.  Then paint it.  I didn’t use primer, I just used glossy acrylic paint from Walmart.  The same one I used in my laundry room.  It’s quite the Christmas-y color.
Then I used Silhouette Studio to layout different Christmas words and played around with the sizes and fonts until it looked good.
I used my stand by of white Contact vinyl and cut all the words out, peeled away the excess, and used transfer to tape to lay the words onto my board.
Excuse the mess.  I’m not a very neat crafter.  Oh and I didn’t paint the bottom because you’ll never see it when it’s sitting on a shelf.
Keep adding words until you get them all on and you’re satisfied.
Just beautiful.  I love it so much and other than the time for the paint to dry, I finished this in under an hour!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don’t tease me

So my cousin Regina texted me today and said that I’d been slacking on my blog.  I know that.  You don’t have to tell me Winking smile  So for your enjoyment I have a video to share of her dancing at Thanksgiving while playing Just Dance with Camryn. 

Oh and she didn’t know I was recording her. 

Enjoy and leave your comments for her to see SmileSorry it’s mostly on it’s side, I must have turned the camera!

Easy Tinsel Trees

I know I’ve seen them everywhere.  Glittery, sparkly, tinsel trees.  Well wouldn’t you know when I decided I needed a couple, I couldn’t find any.  Grrrr!  So I figured they can’t be very hard to make and the results turned out better than store bought in my opinion.  You can make the shape (fat or skinny) and size (tall or short) that you want and decorate it to your own desires.
I confess my husband cut the wood out for me.  He’s such a great husband and very helpful I might add.  I was busy doing other decorating things so he cut out a couple triangles from scrap wood (MDF or whatever you have!) and some rectangle bases.  The pieces don’t have to be perfect because you’ll be covering the triangle and my bases weren’t going to be seen, so they can be a little off too.
So you take your triangle piece and your rectangle piece and attach them so you have a nice tree shape. 
Then you just start at the top with your tinsel and wrap away.  I tented mine over the tip a little bit and then started wrapping.
When you get to the bottom just cut the tinsel garland and tuck the end underneath. 
Take a couple of these in different heights, pair it with a shiny metal tree from Gordman’s and you have a pretty trio of trees!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mish-Mash, Jibber Jabber…boy have I been busy!

I know I’ve not had much to blog about.  I’ve been SO busy these past few weeks.  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I know I did.  Followed by late Thursday all through black Friday shopping.  I was delirious by time I got home late Friday night, but I got a majority of my shopping done and scored some great deals.  Now I just hope that I can sit back and enjoy the season without the hustle of trying to buy presents. 
There are a few big things in the works for us.  I’ve been trying to decorate my house (which I’m convinced a majority of my decorations have seen their life span go by!), craving to a chance to get into my craft room, and doing the regular mom things with my kids (Pierce’s wrestling starts tomorrow twice a week, and Camryn still has gymnastics once a week.  I need one more thing on my plate before it will topple!)
Yesterday my husband picked up our new wood stove.  It’s a Vermont Castings Defiant.  Living in this big house in the country, we don’t have access to natural gas unless we get propane.  We got a small tank a couple years ago when we switched to a gas cooktop due to my propensity to break the electric glass top ones.  But when we built the house we went with Geothermal heating.  Now I love the geo, the air conditioning works great and it’s far more efficient all year round than a standard electric furnace would be.  However.  There have been times when the electric bill has been on the high side of $400 a month.  Once there was a bill that was $650.  I almost cried, but it was a series of bad events that lead to a bill that high, it’s a long story. 
So we bought this pretty thing:
Obviously that’s not the permanent install, but it weighs over 500 pounds so we put it on these casters to get it moved around to lay out where it will go.  This weekend, a friend of ours is coming to lay a stamped concrete hearth which will also go about 5 feet up the wall on both sides. I then can put a mantel in above that, which I’m very excited about decorating. 
With this stove we also bought a new log splitter to get us plenty of wood in hopes of lowering the winter time electric bills significantly.  So the next few weeks will be busy trying to get this thing up and going since today was our first accumulating snow fall and it’s COLD! 
I have hopes for a few crafty projects in the next few days to finish up my decorating in the living room.  I’m not sure if I have the energy to decorate for Christmas, but I do plan on hitting the stores up after Christmas in hopes of getting some new décor for next year. 
So here’s to hoping I can find some time for some serious crafting.  I’m getting antsy and need to use the creative side of my brain soon before it melts!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Storage Shelves

I like shelving.  It uses perfectly good vertical space for storage and it can be pretty.
My laundry room used to have a large wooden cabinet in it, but with the gigantic counter I installed from this previous post, there isn’t room for the cabinet anymore.  Therefore, I decided to put in two shelves for cleaning supplies.  I used the same glued on edge shelving that I used for the counters, but they are only 12 inches deep.  The shelves looked a little “weak” so I beefed them up by gluing and finish nailing 1 x 2 poplar boards on the ends first and then one across the front. 
Next I filled in any gaps with wood filler and sanded the shelves smooth. 
I painted the shelves with the same Valspar “Betsey’s Linen” color that I used on the counters.  But to spice them up a bit, I taped off a skinny stripe using Frog tape and painted it with the same glossy red acrylic paint I used on my counter stenciling. 
Peel off the tape after two coats dry and follow with two coats of polycrylic sealer and they are ready to be put up!  I used two double slot tracks and two brackets per shelf. 
My hubby helped put these up because I was afraid I would miss the stud and they would be crooked.  Well guess what…he missed.  I totally could have done that myself.  Hehehe.
Once they are secured to the wall, they are ready for the shelves to be put on and secured.  I think the beefed up edges and stripes give them a little something extra.
You can see the pile of laundry already on the counter under the shelves.  I couldn’t wait for total completion of this project before doing more laundry, or I’d be buried under the clothes.
Now the shelves are nice and sturdy to hold my various jugs, bottles, and boxes of cleaning supplies.  I have plans for some fabric totes, but that’ll have to wait for “some other day.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas with Homemade Tortillas

Last nights dinner was delicious.  The kids even asked for more.  That’s big feat when both of them eat everything on their plate AND say they liked it. 
I used recipes from two websites and brought them together for totally yummy-ness.
First I made homemade flour tortillas from here.  The Homesick Texan blog and this recipe was brought to my attention by a friend of mine.  I have made these a few times now and it shocks me how easy they are. 
Mix everything together with my Kitchenaid.
Let it rest and then cut into 8 pieces.  Let those rest again and roll them out.  (I don’t measure things and I also can’t roll out a perfect circle…they taste just as good in awkward shapes!)
Grill them in a hot, dry pan for about 30 seconds or so each side.  (this one is REALLY not round!)
Then I used these instructions from the Pioneer Woman website here.
Basically you grill pineapple and chicken, chop it up and layer them with cheese and barbeque sauce on one tortilla and top it off with another.  I microwaved them for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese because I didn’t want to burn my tortillas or add a bunch of butter to the pan to toast it more. 
There is nothing like these homemade tortillas, definitely worth a little bit of effort.

Super Simple Valance

Really, it’s simple.  Anyone can do it if you have a sewing machine that you know how to thread, and are able to step on the foot pedal to go fast.  You may want to be skilled in how to sew a semi-straight line too, but that’s optional.
First you pick out your fabric.  I was doing this one for my laundry room makeover and wanted something bright red to match the washer and dryer.  The best thing I found was red taffeta.  Now before you get visions of 1980’s prom dress, it wasn’t quite like that and I thought it was pretty.  I did however call my mom first and ask her if taffeta was a weird material for curtains.  She didn’t give me a straight answer, but we decided that not all curtains you buy in the store are cotton, so it should be fine.  LOL
This fabric was 52 inches wide for a 24 inch window, so I didn’t cut any off the width so there would be sufficient “scrunch.”  I did have to cut it to length because I bought a yard.  I decided to have a 12 inch drop on the valance, so I just double that and add 1 inch for seams.  So I cut off 25 inches of fabric from the yard and set the rest aside for another project. 
First you have to hem each side.  You want to roll it twice so the unfinished edge doesn’t fray on you.  Like so:
I actually just eyeballed this until it was even and then stitched using clear thread along the side of the hem closest to the unfinished material (on the right side of the folded area in this picture)
After you do this down both of the shorter sides, fold your fabric with right sides together and the remaining two unfinished edges (long sides) matched up.
Stitch all the way along the length of the unfinished edges about 1/4 inch from the edge.  I used the side of the presser foot on my sewing machine as a guide.
Turn the valance right side out and then if you have a standard sized rod (READ: not really big around) stitch another seam about an inch and a half from the hem you just put in for the top of the valance to make a pocket for the rod.
Hang it on the rod and enjoy!
Note: I also put this rod up myself.  I measured about 2 inches out and 2 inches up from the edge of the window to make the window appear bigger and to not cover it so much with the valance.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy-ness and Recipes

I’ve really wanted to have something to blog about.  And I could blog about the busy-ness of life.  But I haven’t had time!
Last week was a crazy busy week for me.  I’m not sure why it seemed so chaotic, but it did.  Looking back, I’ve forgotten half of what I did last week.  That’s probably a good thing. 
I am working on the laundry room shelves and am nearly finished, but the drying time is slowing progress.  But they will be done hopefully tomorrow and I’ll have a post to add then.
In the meantime, I have been in the mood to try some new recipes.  I require that half my recipes be easy and this past week they were ultra-easy.  Spaghetti and meatballs, hot dogs with mac and cheese, kielbasa, sloppy joes…you get the picture.
So last night and tonight I’ve been printing out recipes from and
We bought a half a beef a few months ago, and I’m at a loss of what to do with anything besides ground beef since I rarely buy other “hunks” of meat.  Pioneer woman is helping with that.  The other link I was directed to by a podcast that I found yesterday called Manic Mommies.  It’s very funny and great to listen to while cleaning up the house.  They interviewed the ladies behind Meal Makeover Moms, and I checked out there sight this evening.  There were several recipes that I thought sounded easy and tasty, so I printed them out as well.
Now, my recipe collection is totally out of control and unorganized.  It is such a daunting task that I am trying to start from the point forward with being more organized and then slowly working through the older stuff I have. 
So to start I purchased some postcards/index cards made by Avery.  They come 4 to a sheet with perforations on them to make 4 X 6 cards.  I found a template on their website and then copy and paste the recipes to them using Microsoft Word.  It takes a little bit of editing to get them to fit right, but this way I don’t have a million full sheets and no way to organize them!  I can easily pop them into either a 4 x 6 index card box, or even a photo album to keep them protected from messy hands.
So this begs the question…are your recipes organized?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Laundry Room Counter

I am in the process of a huge overhaul of my laundry room.  Everything but the floor and trim is being changed out.  I’m doing this across a few blog posts because it’s been time consuming and a large project. 
I stumbled on a set of high efficiency washer and dryer on clearance last month, and was immediately drawn to the pretty shiny red.  That, and my old set has been through the wringer (no pun intended) washing my husband’s incredibly dirty clothes for 9 years.  As a water and sewer contractor, you can imagine how messy and yucky the later can be.
So I bought them, brought them home, and stacked them up to give me room to fold laundry.  I also painted the walls with the leftover paint from the closet that I did last year.  I had intended to do a counter space in here for a long time so that I could get away from emptying the dryer into a basket and never routinely folding laundry.  I know I’m not the only one out there who dresses their family out of the laundry basket regularly! 
So as a temporary fixture, I put in this table which is only 2 foot by 3 foot and doesn’t allow for much stacking considering the capacity of those babies!
So I set about a more permanent fix and there starts my big, time consuming project.  Keep in mind that my husband did help me cut the counter boards and hang the brackets (which really is a two person job anyhow) but the rest is my ideas, creativity, and hard work.  I’m very proud of how it’s turning out.
So first you measure how high you want the counter and make it level!
Then take two of these glued-on-edge shelves found in the wood working section of Lowes. (Let me insert here that I looked at some laminate counters, but for the price and the boring factor, I was determined to do my own)
Then you get a handsome man like this to cut the 45 degree angle to fit the corner.  Notice we are using a power tool in our hallway (we don’t currently have a garage) and it’s 9:30pm.  I hoped we didn’t wake the kids, but nothing can stand in the way of progress.
Then we put up 4 brackets like these from Lowe’s.  Since we were both working on it, I don’t think we took a picture.  Just make sure they are screwed into the studs!  I put two on each wall with one in the corner to ensure that it spanned across the joint between the two pieces.
I took over from here and did everything else.  First I glued the angled part together and screwed a couple small boards to the bottom to hold it together
I wanted the counters to look a little nicer, so I put a 1 x 2 edging on the front faces and the side that would not be against the wall.  It helps to have a cute assistant to hold the boards upright to nail the pieces on. 
When you get them all nailed on you have to wrestle the heavy thing through the deck door, down the hall way, through the laundry room door, and nearly break your back, neck, and arms trying to get it up on the brackets without putting a hole in the wall, the window, or bash the washer/dryer.
IF you survive that, it will look like this:
Next task is to screw the brackets from the bottom, fill the cracks with wood filler and sand, then prime and paint.  I chose Valspar’s Betsey’s Linen.  Here it is primed I think. (The paint is just a shade off white)
This is where I lost my mind and after the fact figure out that a camera doesn’t take and keep pictures without a Compact Flash card in it.  So I will explain what I did.
I taped a line of frog painters tape 3 inches and 4 inches from both the front edge and back edge to create a stripe.  Cut away the excess to give a nice angle where they meet.  Then I used my silhouette to create a stencil with Contact paper.  I put one stencil in the corner between my stripes and then eyeballed the remaining 5 stencils along the length of the counter. 
I painted lightly over all my stencils and tape with the same Betsy’s Linen as the counter to “seal” the edges and prevent the red paint I used next from bleeding under the tape. 
After that dried I put on two coats of glossy red acrylic craft pain in the negative spaces of the stencil and the taped lines.  This is what the stenciled areas looked like after I pulled the Contact paper off:
I wanted to seal the paint to make it stronger and somewhat waterproof, so I added two coats of Polycrylic.  It’s a water based version of polyurethane that can go over latex paint. 
And the final product of the counter looks like this!
Next on tap I made a new curtain that needs hung, I am working on shelving for the longer wall, and intend to make some fabric baskets to hide my laundry clutter.
Hope you enjoy!