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Monday, July 28, 2014

Upgrade Your Knobs

Sometimes it's the little upgrades that give a house more personality. 

We have these white bi-fold doors in our laundry room with white knobs on them.  It was rather plain, so I thought I'd add some personality to the knobs.  

First I bought some decorative knobs that matched the wall color and added some contrast to the doors.  They were on clearance too so I thought what a cheap and easy DIY project this would be.

Of course that didn't work out.  The base of the knobs weren't large enough to cover up the previously hidden door area from the old knobs and the screw wasn't long enough to fit through the door.  You can see what I mean in the pictures below.

Next, I thought I'd try to paint some stripes on the existing white knobs.  I had some leftover paint that was the same green as the walls.  
But that didn't look good at all.

So I thought I'd try to add some brown since I liked the darker look to contrast against the white.  
Again, fail.

I'd check out the knob section every time I went to Hobby Lobby or Lowes or Home Depot (which wasn't very often) but finally found something that would work.  The screw was long enough and even though the base of the knob wasn't quite wide enough, I didn't care.  I love the rich oil rubbed bronze color and the contrast it adds.  



I also like how the knobs tie into the rug, light fixture and the hooks I added to the hall tree in the adjoining foyer.  

To find out more about the hall tree hook project (which wasn't an easy switch either) you can click HERE.


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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Orange You Glad It's Summer

I forgot to blog about this cute teacher gift the we gave to my son's fifth grade teacher at the end of the school year.  As with a lot of my ideas, they come from Pinterest.  This was no exception.  The original idea can be found HERE over at eighteen25.

Instead of using candies, I put some oranges inside the bag.  There are all kinds of cutesy teacher gifts, but since the Spencinator had a male teacher this year, I wanted to do something more practical.   

You can check out what the kids gave to their teachers last year in THIS post and THIS post.

Another cute idea would be to make these "Orange You Glad It's Summer" bags for the kids to celebrate the last day of school.  You could fill them with various orange colored items like gum, bubbles, chapstick, nail polish, sunglasses, a pool toy and some other fun summer stuff.

I can't believe summer vacation is half over.  We don't have any grand vacation plans so we're just having fun around the house.  This week the two older kids have been at Horse Camp and loved it.  Sweetie Pie who is now out of the princess phase and is loving horses is in heaven at this camp.  She has realized that just because we can't have a horse in our yard doesn't mean we can't have a horse, we can board it at the place where they have camp.  As for the Spencinator, animals seem to have a calming effect on him, so he loves it and would love to just pet and brush and feed the horses all day.


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lollipop Experiments

The other day we had some fun experimenting with lollipops.  I got the original idea from the Fantastic, Fun and Learning Blog HERE.

The first thing we did was to put our lollipops into warm water.  I asked the kids what they thought would happen and they said it would melt or dissolve.  

We checked on the lollipops over the course of about an hour or so and sure enough, they dissolved, leaving just the stick and some lollipop colored/flavored liquid.

I let the kids drink some of the liquid and we made Popsicles out of the rest.

Our experiments were a delicious success.  

Anyone else love to experiment with food?  Feel free to share your concoctions in the comments.


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Monday, July 21, 2014

A Painted Kids Table At Last

Last year I scored this wooden kids play table at a yard sale for $5.
I knew it needed a fresh coat of paint and after a year I've finally done it.

Like a lot of my DIY projects, things aren't as easy as they should be.  This project was no exception.

First off, I had this paint that I loved.  It was a muted orange-red color that matched my curtains and a few other things in my living room perfectly.  So when I decided to paint the table an accent color instead of the white which was blending into the walls and carpet, I knew I wanted that color.

Here is the table painted in my lovey muted orange-red color.  See how it matches the stripes in the love seat and the red magazine holder to the right?

The problem was that after using several coats to paint it and waiting several days for it to dry, it was still tacky.  Ugh.

I read up on what I could do and thought putting baby powder on it to dry it out might work.  
It sort of did, although it also left some white residue.  But I didn't mind too much.

So I thought I'd move onto the chairs.  This time I thought I'd be sure to avoid the tackiness by doing a light coat and waiting for that to dry completely before adding the next coat.   Below you can see my painting station.  I set it up out front so I could watch the kids play.  I made it easy on my back by raising the chair up on a table so I wouldn't have to bend over too much.  I also hammered a nail into each of the chair legs so I could paint the entire leg without it sticking to anything.

Well, after two days, the first coat was still tacky.  So, it was onto plan B:  spray paint.
The store didn't have the same muted orange-red color as my paint, so I ended up getting more of a dark brick red color.

I started with the chairs.  Luckily spray painting worked, no more tackiness.  In the picture below you can see how the color differs from the table. It's much more obvious in person.

Since the chairs turned out, I went ahead and painted the table.  You'd think since I was in the home stretch now, it would be smooth sailing, but no.  I painted the table top in the early evening and it seems some bugs got stuck to it while it was drying.  Oh, well, I was undeterred at this point.  I would have my red painted table at last.  So the next day I sanded off the bugs with the finest grit sandpaper we had and spray painted it again.

And at long last my kids play table was finally painted.  I love how it add some color to that part of our living room.

And my 3 year old loves to play on it.  It is great for coloring and building.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Sun Dried Tomato and Pesto Chicken

I got this super yummy recipe from a friend and I'm not sure what it's called but I refer to it by it's ingredients.  I don't know why I don't call it spinach chicken since that is also one of the ingredients, but this is just what we call it.
It's delicious and easy to make - that's my kind of meal.
fresh spinach
boneless skinless chicken breasts
pesto sauce
sun dried tomatoes
Parmesan cheese
other seasonings to put on top of chicken
place 1/2 of spinach in a 9x13 baking dish
add the uncooked chicken breasts on top.

top chicken with seasonings, pesto sauce and sun dried tomatoes

sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Here's a picture of what all that looks like:
Then you just top it all off with the rest of the spinach like so:
Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes
And enjoy your delicious chicken dinner. You can eat it just like this or serve it over noodles.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blow Me Over Game

My 3 year old thought of this game all by herself and wanted to do it again and again.

It would be great practice for blowing out birthday candles.

OK, so here's how you play.  It's really simple to set up, even a 3 year old can do it.  
Using a Guess Who game, flip all the pieces up and then try to blow them all down.

This is a great game for toddlers.  
It took some skill and she was patient and persistent.
It requires focus and being calm.

I love it when kids can entertain themselves.  

Have any other independent toddler approved games to share?  I'd love to hear about them.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Customize A Skateboard with Vinyl

 A few weeks ago my husband came home from a yard sale with this large skateboard.  We have a couple of kid sized skateboards, but this one was adult size.  I think it's technically called a long board but don't quote me on that.

As you can see my husband had to try it out first before handing it over to our son.

There was what my son called an "inappropriate" picture on the bottom of the skateboard.  It was a scantily clad mermaid.  He didn't want it on there so we just painted over it with some flat black spray paint.  And ever since I got my Silhouette Cameo Vinyl Cutter, I've been looking for ways to use it, so I said we could add some vinyl to it.  He knew just want he wanted it to say "BEWARE DANGEROUS RIDER".  

My husband also got a few black and white stickers/decals from a local shop to add to it.  Now he can ride in style.

Oh, and even I at 6 months pregnant have been using the skateboard.  It makes a great seat for pulling weeds.  The wheels let me roll up and down the sidewalk to get to the weeds without having to move much.  

And I didn't leave our Sweetie Pie when it came to cutting vinyl.  She has started flute lessons this summer, so we prettied up her flute case by adding some flowers and her name to it.  We bought her instrument but even if you were renting one, you could do this since the vinyl is removable.  This is also a great way to tell kid's instruments apart, to make them stand out in the crowd.

If you have a vinyl cutter, what things have you decorated with vinyl lately?

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Making Lunch Fun

In between organizing my 9 yr old's room (your can read more about that HERE and HERE), we also had some fun.  Since we were stuck at home, I made lunch as fun as possible.

Here are just a couple of ways we made lunch fun this summer.

Colored drinks
Using food coloring and lemonade, everyone got to choose what color drink they wanted.

 Personalized hot dogs
The Spencinator loves mustard, lots of mustard on his hot dogs.  So I used mustard to personalize his hot dog.  (FYI:  I tried to do the same thing with ketchup, but it was too runny and didn't work.)

If you are looking for more ways to make mealtime fun, check out THESE ideas over at Pinterest.  From fun shapes to cool characters, you might be able to get even the pickiest of eaters to eat.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Organizing a Girl's Bedroom, part 2 (decluttering dressers)

Flat surfaces tend to collect clutter.  My kids' dressers are no exception.  During my organization of Sweetie Pie's bedroom (you can see part 1 HERE), I tackled her dresser and desk tops.

After I organized an American Girl Doll play corner as seen in the picture below, I decided I'd tackle the next clutter culprit - her dresser.  It had become a dumping ground for anything and everything.

One technique to decluttering is to remove everything from a space (whether it be a drawer, corner or entire room) and then put the items into piles such as trash, donate/sell, elsewhere....  Then to put back only what you want to keep.  Rather than dump the contents of her dresser onto her bed and then separate them into piles, I put things away as I went.  Call it my organized way of decluttering.  A lot of the stuff on her dresser were hair accessories and jewelry.  She has bins in her closet for these items so I just removed them from the dresser and put them in the right bins.  I also threw away any trash while I was at it.  A few things I moved over to her new nightstand and what was left I laid out on her bed.  Most of the things would go back on her dresser, but a few things were relocated to her miscellaneous bin.  That's a bin in her closet for all the stuff we don't know what to do with.   Sounds better than calling it a junk drawer, but it's basically the same thing.  We just try to keep it contained to one bin.  

Once I was left with an empty dresser top, I dusted it and put back only what I wanted on it.
Ah, much better. 

But, I'm still not done with her room.  Next up was the desk area and closet.  Below is a before and after of her desk. I followed the same technique as with her dressers.  I threw away trash and anything that went somewhere else I put it away.  While I didn't clear off the entire desk (I left most things on the shelves), I did clear off the writing area and put back only what I wanted there.

And finally there was her closet.  I was in such an organizing mood, I forgot to take a before picture.  Just image crafty stuff, tote bags, clothes and other random toys spilling out of it into the floor.

That bin of drawers in the middle and some of the bins on the shelves are actually empty.  What a great feeling.  There is still some work to be done such having my daughter go through each bin or drawer to see what we can get rid of.  And then there is that mess at the top, but it is so much better.  And so far it's been staying neat.  

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Organizing a Girl's Bedroom, part 1 (American Girl Doll Play Corner)

A couple of weeks ago, Sweetie Pie went to art camp.  The particular art camp she goes to is close to my parents, so she also gets to stay a week at their house.  She loves it.  Not just because she loves art, but because she loves spending time as an only child with her grandparents who spoil her.  She's been doing this for the past 4 years.  And every year, I take the time to organize her room for her.  Here are some before and after pictures so you can see how bad it was and how good it looks now.  Keep in mind this is just one corner of her room.  I was able to organize the entire room and will show the rest in a later post.

She just has so much stuff.  From toys to craft supplies, it's everywhere.  My first reaction was that she needs more storage space.  That way there will be a place for everything so things can hopefully get put away.  However, as I cleaned/organized the room, I realized by removing her toy box and replacing some shelves with something smaller, now there is a place for everything.  

That's the key to staying organized - having a place for everything so you know where to put it away.  Then you have to be disciplined and actually put those things away when you're done playing with them.  If she cleans up a little each night, it won't be so overwhelming.  So far, she's doing great.  She's been home for about 2 weeks and her room is still looking good.

The first place I started with was her American Girl Doll and reading corner.  I took out a toy box that had dolls and stuffed animals in it.  She never got into the toy box since the top of it was also covered with toys.  She doesn't play with dolls much except for her American Girl Doll.  She also has a few favorite stuffed animals but keeps those on her bed so I decided to remove the toy box and store it in her younger sister's room.  One of these days we will go through the dolls and stuffed animals together to see what we can get rid of but for now, she hasn't asked about it and enjoys the extra space to play with her American Girl Doll stuff.

I also switched out her Ikea Trofast storage unit for a smaller one.  I got the smaller one from her sister's room which allowed me to put the toy box there.  It was used as book storage so now I keep all of the Babe's books in a bin under her bed.  The smaller Ikea storage unit allowed Sweetie Pie to have more space for her doll bed and other accessories.  I basically turned that whole corner into an American Girl Doll play area.   

Here I took out the larger Ikea Trofast unit, just moving it in front of her dresser for the time being so it would be easy to move things from that unit into the smaller one.  But before bringing in the smaller unit I vacuumed the floor.  It's always easiest to clean when a space has been cleared out.

Bit by bit, I transferred over all the American Girl Doll items to create the doll corner.  What I was left with from the old shelves were books.  So I used these two plywood boxes that were just taking up space in the basement and made a temporary bookshelf/nightstand.  Eventually we'll get something nicer but this will do in the mean time.  
To pretty it up, I draped a white lacy curtain over it.  

Here is her bed area looking all nice and neat.

 Oh, and here's a picture of where the larger Ikea storage unit went, giving us more toy storage in the playroom.

Organizing that one corner of Sweetie Pie's room lead to creating a nightstand and a little playroom organization.  But wait, there is more to do in her room!  I'll have to save that for another post.  Now you can see why this organization project took several days.  

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