Monday, August 27, 2012

chalk it up

I love to decorate, I have so many different ideas for our house it's insane. But with decorating (and in most cases, redecorating) rooms it can get expensive so if I can do something on the cheap I'm all for it.
This is a piece of scrap plywood my husband had that was laying around in his shop that I decided to spruce up.

It was really dirty, covered in dirt, dust, and bird poop (I said it was really dirty, didn't I?)

After a good scrubbing it was all ready for some chalkboard paint.

I got a can of spray chalkboard paint from my local hardware store and this was what it looked like after my hubby finished spraying it for me. Isn't he just so sweet?! ;)

My hubby is a third generation Dairy Farmer and also a third generation 'wicked good' sweet corn grower... never heard of that last one?  Well, then you've obviously never had our sweet corn because if you had you'd understand why we call it 'wicked good'!  Anyway, last year we did a corn roast & open house and everyone had such a great time we decided to make it an annual event!

Here's a shot of the machine shed once we got done decorating it... Just wait until you see the before-and-after pictures!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

kitchen cake

Whenever I'm invited to any type of shower I'm always so excited because it's the beginning of something new - in this case it was a wedding shower.  So I decided to try my hand at a kitchen cake.

What you'll need :
This will vary, I had never done anything like this before so it took me a bit to figure out what I wanted to use, luckily my husband agreed to come shopping with me so while he was occupying our girls I searched for all these goodies.
Here's what I came up with :
-1 packet kitchen towels
-1 packet kitchen wash cloths
-small cutting board
-measuring spoons
-bamboo utensil set with holder
-ribbon (I had this already)

I've made a few diaper cakes for baby showers but never anything like this, here goes!

First I covered the cutting board with one of the kitchen towels, this was my 'base'

Then, using two of the dish cloths, fold them into thirds and roll them up.

They'll look something like this.  Now take these and stuff them into the utensil holder.  This is a good way to make sure whatever you put inside won't move around.

Now, here come the tricky parts... and of course the ones I forgot to take pictures of (oops!).

Once the small dish cloths are in the utensil holder I took the second dish towel, folded it into thirds and wrapped it around the outside of the utensil holder.  I then took a dish cloth and folding it into a triangle wrapped that around the base as well.  After securing it with a ribbon I was able to slide some of the utensils around the outside.  This was a trial-and-error process, I did it a few different ways before coming to this result.

Once that was finished I folded the last dish cloth into a triangle and put it on the outside lip of the utensil holder.  Now you can put the remaining utensils inside, and any other little trinkets you've found.

Ta-da!  A cute kitchen cake that is full of useful things for the bride-to-be or kitchen enthusiast in your life.

Friday, August 3, 2012

frame game

What you'll need :
  • spray paint 
  • frames
  • something to hang them with
  • mirrors (optional - you could do all frames)
This is a project I did over a year ago so unfortunately I have no step-by-step photos - but, after reading how simple it is I can guarantee you won't need them.

February 2011 my husband turned 30 and just before his big shin-dig, literally days, I decided I wanted to do some repainting.  Our house has a lot of brown, like paper bag brown, walls - so much that I was starting to feel like we lived in a cardboard box.

I knew exactly what I wanted so I marched down to my local home improvement store and picked up a gallon of Behr's Granite Grey and voila!  But this wall - and yes, I cropped it so you couldn't see my uber messy desk underneath... and because I have some other projects pending that involve this area - needed something else.

So I grabbed a can of glossy black spray paint, a bunch of frames - some I had, others I got on clearance for 1.00-2.00 at a local craft store - gave them two coats and let them dry overnight.  I also found the mirrors at a craft store as well, and only paid 5.00 per set of three.

The next day I laid out all the frames and mirrors on the floor and once I found a configuration I liked used some of those putty style hook-and-eye hangers to place them on the wall.  And this Fall after we had some professional photos taken I added the photo in the middle.

We've gotten so many compliments on this wall and it was so super simple, really inexpensive and creates a high-end looking design without the big price tag.  So the next time you're out-and-about check the clearance section of your local craft store, or if you're a flea marketer/yard saler be on the lookout for frames.  A lot of these frames were some really awful colors but you'd be amazed at what a can of spray paint can do!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

lesson learned

They say 'you learn something new everyday'.

Today's lessons :
1) I am not a runner. At least not yet.
2) Even if I were a runner it's not smart to run when it's 90 degrees, not a cloud in the sky and muggy as heck.
3) My iPod needs some major updating.

I like to think I lead an active life, what mother of a preschooler and infant doesn't?  I'm always moving and on-the-go taking the girls to the library, park, etc (not to mention all the regular errands like grocery shopping, house cleaning, and such) so I figured this would be a  breeze.  I strapped the girls into the jogger stroller, laced up my sneakers, grabbed my iPod and was out the door.  It all started out easy enough and then, as if someone flipped a switch, every muscle in my body started screaming. I felt like I was breathing through a straw and suddenly I was covered in sweat.  How can this be?!  I'm only 27, but today it felt like I was 72.  But - I'm far from giving up.  I don't see a marathon in my near (or even distant) future but all I can do is one day at a time.  Hey, I got up and took the initiative didn't I?  That's got to count for something.

As for lessons 2 and 3, those are easy-peasy. A) wait until a cooler time of day down and B) google "songs to workout to".  And if all else fails, I'll be just as happy to call myself a walker.  Ain't no shame in it.

What did you learn today?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"I want pasta for dinner"

"Mommy, I am hungry and I want pasta for dinner" These were the words spoken to me by my three-year-old one night.  I had to ask her again what she had said, was this really the same three-year-old that is super picky? the one that will clear her plate one night and turn her nose up at what I've made the next?  Now she's requesting things for dinner?! Like, something other than macaroni-and-cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!  So I had to give it a try - and this is what I made :

Spinach and tomato sauce over ziti

I found the original recipe on Midwest Living, it called for arugula but all we had was spinach (which I prefer anyway).  I made a few other changes so you can either stick to the original recipe or go with mine, either way - get ready for a delish dinner!

Ingredients you'll need
  • fresh tomatoes, cubed - seeds removed.
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (I only had one tomato so I used these to supplement)
  • 4 cups spinach, rough chopped
  • fresh garlic, as much - or as little - as you'd like.
  • olive oil
  • ziti
  1. Bring water to boil in a large stock pot, and cook pasta to your liking.  Drain, leaving out a cup or so of the pasta water.  Set pasta aside in large bowl.
  2. In large skillet heat a tablespoon or so of the olive oil and add the fresh garlic, I grate mine to avoid getting big chunks.  
  3. Add the tomatoes to your skillet 
  4. Once the fresh tomato was soft I then added the crushed tomatoes. (you can go with 4-6 fresh tomatoes and skip adding the canned but all I had was one fresh tomato so I added about half a 28oz can and that made a good amount of sauce).
  5. Bring to a low simmer and as soon as the sauce starts to bubble add the spinach, the reserved pasta water, some salt and pepper to taste, stir and then cover.  Once the spinach has wilted down it's ready to go.
  6. Serve over ziti and top with your favorite cheese.
  7. Enjoy!

I was a little skeptical my daughter would like all this, especially the spinach, but that's what she went for first!  She completely cleared her dish!  My husband and I enjoyed it too, and it was so easy to make.  This was one of those nights where I was dreading dinnertime because I had no idea what to make, and very little ambition.  This recipe took me all of 30 minutes to make and was a good change-up from our usual meat/veggies/starch dinner.  It will definitely be going into our what's-for-dinner line-up, and hopefully yours too!

photo wall hanging

My husband and I are very blessed to have two healthy little girls, that just so happen to be the cutest little buggers you've ever seen... okay, I'm biased, but this is a great (and super inexpensive) way to showcase your cute little humans!

What you will need : 

  • foam board (I bought a 20" x 30" piece and cut it down to about 8" wide)
  • sharp knife
  • cutting pad
  • fabric
  • mod podge (mine happened to be the satin finish kind but whatever you have will work)
  • foam brush
  • photos
  • ribbon
  • buttons, or whatever you've got in your craft stash to jazz it up a bit.

1) Apply a thin layer of the mod podge to the foam board.

2) Cover the foam board with the fabric of your choice, wrap the fabric around the back and trim.  Once the front was all dried I mod podged the back as well.

3) Measure out your ribbon (I just laid it on where I wanted it and then cut, leaving some extra at the bottom) then mod podge that as well.

~NOTE : when I was doing this part with the ribbon I taped the excess on the bottom to the back of the board, as well as the loop on top - it secures it so you're not constantly trying to hold it in place.  Make sure not to mod podge the loop on the back or else you'll have nothing to hang it with later on.

Wet mod podge - looks cloudy and yucky, but will dry clear, pinky-promise!

4) Place your photos on the fabric, if it's still tacky - great!  If not just put on a thin layer to keep them from sliding when you're mod podging over them.  And yes, I know what you're thinking: oh heck no, this is going to damage the photos or ruin them all together! and that the project would be all for nothing but it didn't hurt the photos at all *phew - enter sigh of relief*

5) Once the photos are in place and you've put on the mod podge, please keep in mind you'll be able to see the brush strokes a bit so I'd suggest doing two layers and keeping the brush strokes going in the same direction... if it's not a big deal then you can go every which way.  I'm just OCD like that so it had to be just so.

See! dry mod podge - minus a little bit of glare you can barely tell there's anything over the photos.  If you really want to eliminate this all together you can use a matte finish.
6) Now the fun part, feel free to jazz up the wall hanging with buttons, ribbons, flowers, whatever you've got to make it that much more beautiful!

7) The top looked a little meh so I added these bows for a little something extra.

8) Ta-da! The finished product, in all it's glory - ready to be proudly displayed!

When this was all done it did bow a little bit so the next time I did something like this I might make it a little smaller, or doing individual squares.  Or maybe even securing the corners to the wall with some decorative nails.  The possibilities are endless!