Friday, June 28, 2013

Wall Canvas Picture Holder

I hate clutter and our refrigerator is always covered in everything from picture holiday cards, family photos, and appointments cards. My husband and I just gave birth to our first child about two months ago, so we are adding to those photos and appointment cards at an accelerated rate now. It drives me crazy but I don't want to just throw them away.

I finally decided to do something about the clutter. I've seen cute picture holders at Crate and Barrel and other places, but they cost at least $50. I decided to design my own and create a location other than the fridge to display all those pictures. 

To make your own version you will need the following:
  • painting canvas
  • craft paint
  • stencil pouncers
  • stencils or silk screens
  • ribbon
  • twine
  • clothes pins
  • scrapbook paper
  • Elmer's glue
  • Scissors or paper cutter
  • staple gun and staples
To put it all together:
Gather your supplies.
Paint your canvas background any color that coordinates with the d├ęcor in the area you are going to hang it. I had to do three coats for mine, but the lighter the color you choose, the less coats you will have to do.
While your paint is drying, cut out the scrapbook paper to the measurements of one side of a clothes pin and then glue it on using Elmer's glue.  These are so easy and cute for all kinds of uses but we can get into that in another post.

Next, use your stencils or silk screens to create your design.  I found some really cool silk screens by Martha Stewart that were pretty easy to use!
Once you feel like your canvas is exactly the way you want it, start attaching the ribbon and twine by stapling it on the back of the canvas.

Check out the final product!!
And even better, now all my refrigerator needs is a wipe down with some glass cleaner and I regain my sanity!! For me, it's the little things...

Gluten-free Pizza

My mom has Celiac Disease which means that she needs to maintain a gluten-free diet.  When she comes to visit it is a task to find recipes that are gluten-free but are also yummy enough that everyone will want to eat them.  She was recently visiting her new grandson and while coming up with a menu for her stay I ran across this delicious Gluten-free Pizza recipe.  It’s fairly easy and even better everyone will love it!! Here’s how it’s made…
Crust Ingredients:
2 packages softened regular cream cheese (8 ounces each)
3 extra large eggs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Topping Ingredients:
1 cup pizza sauce, marinara sauce, or spaghetti sauce
3 cups shredded mozzarella
Your choice of toppings (we use black olives, Kalamata olives, turkey pepperoni, green pepper, and sun-dried tomatoes)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with foil.  Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine all the crust ingredients with an electric mixer.  It should be the consistency of pancake batter.
Spread into six equal circles on the baking sheets.
Bake the crusts for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden brown on the edges.
Cool at least 10 minutes before putting the toppings on. (This is VERY important in order to get the proper consistency.)  Spread the pizza sauce on top of the cooled crust and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Add whatever toppings you desire.
Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and heated through.
Enjoy!! It got rave reviews at our house.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

I don't have time to do anything fancy for dinner but I want options that are tasty and not fast food or frozen meals and somewhat healthy.  This is such an easy and quick recipe for something that tastes like you spent a lot of time on it!  Give it a try. You'll be glad you did. 
Gather your ingredients:
1 ½ pounds small red-skinned potatoes
1/8 cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoons minced rosemary leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
Cut the potatoes in quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated.  
 Spread the potatoes on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp.  Flip during cooking to make sure the potatoes are evenly browned.
 Remove the potatoes from the oven, serve and ENJOY!!



Monday, June 17, 2013

Organize the Toys - Barbies, and Legos, and Stuffed Animals, Oh My!

If your kid is anything like mine, then you have a lot of toys floating around the house. In our house, we regularly have Ken and Barbie hanging out in the living room with us, stuffed animals joining the family for dinner and Legos that seem to magically scatter themselves on the little one's bedroom floor when no one is looking. Let me tell you, if you've ever stepped on a Lego or Barbie shoe by accident, then you'll welcome my ideas for keeping them organized and securely put away when they are not in use.

Just a little additional disclaimer here, while I can offer some advice on how to sort and store these toys efficiently, there's also that pesky, little chore of getting your child to actually keep the toys where they belong. We try to follow the rule of - when you're done playing with one thing it gets put away before more gets pulled out. Does it always work? No. However, I have recently threatened to start taking a cleaning fee out of her allowance every time I find toys in the floor that I have to clean up. I find that the prospect of losing some of her spending money tends to motivate her quite well. Use whatever motivator works best for you.

You are going to find that with most of my organizing tips, it really is just a matter of 3 steps: categorize, organize and label. The categories and organization containers vary depending on what items we are dealing with, but the overall process is very similar. Here's a peek at the current organization in my little one's closet:

I do my best to keep all toys in the closet out of the way, this way, she has plenty of floor space to play with items as she takes them out. I have found that the best thing for toy organization is plastic totes with lids. This way you can stack them to fit more in a small space. Not only does my little one have WAY too many toys, so we need the larger size bins, but it actually adds another unexpected benefit - she usually requires help getting those out of the closet which means I can make sure that the previous batch of toys has been properly cleaned up before I assist her in taking out another. An extra tip here - when my little one was younger and didn't require as many large bins for her toys, I used to keep several of the plastic organizer drawers in her closet and just used a different drawer for each category and labeled them - another option!

Here is how I've grouped things, but obviously this could be altered to accommodate whatever types of toys your child has.

On the top shelf, I keep items like craft kits, easy bake oven, playdoh - things that require more supervision, because even on a chair, my little one cannot reach this shelf. Kits are kept in their boxes, and other items are each housed in their own plastic bin and labeled. We have individual bins for Playdoh with the tools, Legos, Kinex and Easy Bake Oven mixes/accessories. I also put any instruction manuals in the bins with the toys also (i.e. the Lego and Kinex building plans).

I keep all the "buildings" together on a shelf - the Littlest Petshop and My Little Pony houses. Her Barbie house is out in her room, since it is obviously too large to take in and out of the closet all the time, but everything else fits nicely on a shelf. You could also opt to keep these in a large bin if you don't have shelving available for storage.

Other bins are categorized as follows:

1 - Barbie Dolls and Monster High Dolls: yes, she has enough to fill up one of those large bins. My little one is a bit of a Barbie addict.

2 - Barbie Clothing, Accessories, Pets and Furniture:  all the furniture, clothing and pets are tossed into the bin, and there is a smaller bin inside the large bin for the little items like shoes, purses, etc... otherwise they just end up lost in the bottom of the large bin. Here's a pic of the smaller one.

3 - Hot Wheels: keep all the track pieces and cars/trucks in one bin

4 - Dress Up: her nicer dresses like the Disney Princess ones are hanging in the closet with her regular dresses, but all other dress up items go in the bin. There is also a smaller bin inside for the smaller pieces of costume jewelry.

5 - Littlest Petshop: lots of furniture pieces and pets in the bin, and a smaller bin for holding all those teeny tiny accessories

6 - Random Toys: action figures, happy meal toys, balls, yo-yos - all sorts of fun little goodies that don't really have a specific category get put in this bin. This is kind of an anything goes bin - if it doesn't belong in one of the other categories, it gets put in here.

We also have some smaller size bins for items that she collects but doesn't have enough of to fill up a large bin such as: Squinkies, Paperdolls, Polly Pockets, Mini Animals like little frogs, bugs, dinosaurs and what not.

So, that's pretty much it! A couple of items that we also organize that are not in the closet are:

1 - Stuffed Animals: We've tried many things with stuffed animal storage, and the easiest solution we have found is to buy an extra large bin and they all get tossed in there except her couple of favorites that stay on her bed. We bought a loft bed for my little one's room this past year, and LOVE it! It adds more floor space to her room - which is awesome! Her stuffed animal bin is actually hidden under the bed. I can add another post later about how I made the tent space under her bed - so easy!

2 -  Books: I highly recommend some sort of bookcase or shelving for their books. Make them accessible to encourage lots of reading! My little one has a desk with shelving over it which is perfect for storing her books.

3 - Crafty Items: There was room on the bookcase for a couple of decorative boxes that hold crayons and stickers, and I found this adorable little caddy at JoAnn's craft store in the home and garden section that works great for holding markers, pens, pencils, scisssors and colored pencils! Greatest part is, it has a handle in the middle, so she can carry it to another rooms if she wants!

Obviously, if your child is a little younger, you might want to keep these items in a less available location, but since my little one is old enough to craft on her own, I like to keep them handy. We keep paper in one of the desk drawers too.

I hope this has helped offer some ideas for those of you trying to organize the toy clutter! Remember - just categorize, organize and label. So, get out those label makers and get busy!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Crazy Good (and easy!) Summer Sangria

I love a good fruity wine drink during the summer, such as a sangria. But I don't want to take a lot of time and energy to make it when I could be relaxing and enjoying the lazy days of summer!   Here's my solution:

1 bottle wine
( I like a nice white - such as a pinot grigio, moscato, or riesling)
1 bottle fruit flavored sparkling soda
(this gal is obsessed with World Market's blood orange Italian soda - yum!!)
fresh fruit of your choice
(I used an orange and some strawberries)

Pour wine and soda into a pitcher.  
Cut up fruit and add. 
Chill for at least 30 minutes.  

Yes - it's really as simple as that!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Make An Infinity Scarf By Recycling An Old T-Shirt

I love scarves.  But most of the ones I own are too heavy to wear during summer.  After purchasing a light t-shirt knit scarf last week, my mind started turning.  A little searching online and I was ready to make my own from an old t-shirt.  Crazy easy and much cheaper than buying a new scarf!

I love the pale pink shade of this tank, but had a stain on the front I couldn't get out. I'm guessing you probably an old t-shirt or tank which you love but is stretched out or has a stain too.  Grab it and get ready to scarf it!

 Lay out shirt flat.  Cut across just below arm holes (or in this case, I cut just below the stain) 
Don't worry if your cut isn't perfectly straight.  Close is good enough - it won't show when the scarf is finished.


Cut along bottom, just above hemline.

 Grab one side and have someone else take the other - now PUUUUUULL!  You want to really stretch it out.  If you are doing this by yourself, hook the loop over a door knob and pull. 

Your new infinity scarf is now complete!  Wear and enjoy!

These were so simple, I went crazy and after cleaning out my t-shirt drawer I made about five of them in a matter of minutes!

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