Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fabric "Plates"

People have decorated with plates for years, so why not make some fabric "plates" for your walls?  I found this idea on pinterest and thought I'd give it a try for my dining room.  I used some leftover fabric that I had from some shades I made for our kitchen. 

It's so simple.  Just pick up some embroidery hoops at a craft store.  These were about $1.50 each at JoAnn's Fabrics.  Stick your fabric in them and cut around the hoop, tape the extra fabric to the backside and hang up on a nail. Done. Boom!

Pretty sweet aren't they.  I have to get back to the store and buy a few more hoops.  I like them so much that I'm going to add a few to this section and make more for the other side of our dining room mirror. 

Adding a little color to the day!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Makeover Monday: A Box Turned House

This Monday we decided to makeover a box.  I know houses out of boxes are pretty standard, but I'm pretty happy with the little porch we were able to make for our house.  This was a bathroom vanity box and in it were these nice thick pieces of cardboard with supports in just the right place to make them hold a 90 degree angle very nicely.  We used them to create the roof for the house and porch and then I had saved some of the nice thick rolls that you get when you purchase the fabric that has to be ordered.  

I planned to spend time painting it a pretty pink color with my daughter one afternoon, but before we got to that, she wanted to "decorate" it.  The decoration process turned into a week long, multiple friend project and it was so fun to see all their ideas come to life. I just left the craft supplies out for a week (until they started making their way into other rooms) and let the kids decorate whenever they got the inclination.  8 kids worked on decorating this bad boy and I think it's just fantastic!

We plan to finish the mailbox, number plate, and flower boxes in the near future. 

Getting Crafty!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spaghetti and Bean Balls!

As I'm cooking through the Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook I am super impressed with Cathe Olson's knack for creating healthy meals at low cost and I've been surprised by how satisfying and flavorful they are.  Great job Cathe!

In her cookbook, she has a recipe for Bean Balls that can be made as straight bean balls, or she has adaptions for Italian or Swedish style bean balls.  I chose to make them Italian style and serve them up with spaghetti.  They were quick to whip together in the food processor and bake in about 20 minutes while the noodles boil. 

I adapted the recipe slightly because it wasn't turning out the way I thought it should, it could be because I was in a hurry and used a can of beans rather than measuring out precooked beans or it could be that my carrot was too big (it was massive), either way, the mixture seemed too dry and wasn't coming together as I thought it should, so I added an egg as a binder and that worked great. 

Mine flattened out a little on the bottom, but I wasn't going for pretty so it didn't matter to me.  That could have been because I added an egg?

As I simmered and stirred the baked bean balls in the spaghetti sauce some of them fell apart but most stayed whole.  I actually preferred them broken up when eating the spaghetti and will purposely break them up next time to make it more like the ground beef spaghetti I'm used to.

Super delicious and satisfying!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Makeover Mondays: Bi Fold-Shutter Doors Turn Sofa Table

Do you see the Bi-Fold Shutter Door behind the china cabinet?  They were there when we moved in to separate the dining room from the family room.  What you may not notice is that underneath the 70s shades in the family room there is a huge window that, when uncovered, brings in a lot of light and makes the house look so much bigger as you can see out to the back yard when you walk in our front door.  This is one of my favorite features of our house and I certainly didn't want to block it off with bi-fold doors - maybe french doors at some point, but for now I love it just being open. So we had these shutters and I thought surely there is a project we can make with these doors. 

I remembered that Nate Berkus said that if you have the back of a sofa to the part of a room you walk into, you should have a sofa table behind it so that the first thing you see when you enter the room isn't the back of a couch.  Well, not only is my sofa back exposed when you walk in the room, it's the first room when you walk in the front door, so it definitely needed my attention. 

I searched pinterest for projects with shutters and found this fabulous sofa table made out of shutters! Awesome, I'm going to get a sofa table and use the shutters at the same time and spend $0! Love it.  I'm not a woodworker, but my husband and father in law are, so they cut the shutter down to size added a little trim to the bottom and 4 legs added a little paint, and look what we have...

 In the future, I might have a piece of glass cut to sit in the insert where the slats are to make it a completely flat surface, but for now it works great.

Opening Doorways!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Initial Frames

I've always loved those wooden initials that you can purchase at craft stores and nearly any home decor store.  However, I'm on a tight budget and free sounded a lot better.  So, I came up with this idea. 

I took an old frame, sanded it, painted it white, and sanded it to distress it slightly.  Then I found a font I liked and printed out a big "O" for my oldest daughter and a big "L" for my youngest daughter. I cut out the letters and traced them onto scrapbook paper that I had laying around from a previous project.  After cutting them out, I outlined them with a black sharpie - I did it this quickly and not evenly.  Then I simply picked a contrasting paper to tape the letter onto.  I used green and pink because those are the colors of their room.  Then I hung them up over their beds.  I couldn't get a clear picture of the "L" so you only see the "O" but the "L" was made with green paper and backed with pink. 

Pretty cute for a quick afternoon project.

Initialing our Walls,


Monday, July 16, 2012

Makeover Mondays: Jazzing up an old brass chandelier

When we moved into our new home, we didn't have a big light fixture budget so we replaced the fixtures that just plain needed replacing and worked with others.  Here is a picture of the dining room as it was when we did our walk through.  Notice the brass chandelier...not my favorite.  In fact, I pride myself in seeing an item's potential, but this I really didn't see, it was my husband who said, "Aren't we just going to paint this black?" And I still questioned whether I'd like it, but he was absolutely right.

Here it is when we were in the process of ripping up carpet and painting. 

And here it is redone.  A quick coat of black spray paint and some new shades and it is as good as new.

At first my husband's sister loaned us some black lamp shades, but since the dining room is the only room in our house without windows it gets pretty dark.  I checked out the little shades at Home Depot and Lowes and decided I didn't want to spend that much money unless I got a new light fixture all together.  So, I kept my eyes open and one day while I was out yard saling, I found this fantastic, like new set of golden tan lamp shades for $4 (for the set)! Big score.  Now our dining room is much brighter than it was with the black shades and much prettier than it was with the brass and glass fixture!

Turns out I really like this chandelier after all!

Lighting the Dark Corners!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Get Horizontal!

Isn't that every mother's dream? To get horizontal, even for a few minutes.  Boy I love power naps :)  However, we're not discussing naps today, actually I wanted to share how I made over my entry way.  We have a very small entryway in our house, there's not enough room for an accent table or anything, it's simply room to open the front door and a door to the coat closet. 

When we moved in, I painted an accent wall in our living room chocolate brown.  It's such a deep brown that many people think it's black until they hold something black up to it.  I love it, it's dramatic and pretty and really brings your eye to the focal point of the room, our fireplace.  When we were deciding what to paint the entryway, I was toying around with hot pink! I know, crazy but it's our accent color in the living room (the room directly off our entry) and the entry is so small I thought maybe it could handle the bright color.  Well, I was nervous and several people convinced me to paint it the same color as our accent wall (chocolate brown). 

I lived with it from August to April and then I just couldn't stand it anymore.  The look and feel I was going for in my entry was/is fun and upbeat and this chocolate brown seemed really formal and it was so dark that it felt (to me) like I was entering a cave - definitely not how I wanted people to feel when walking into my home.  So, while my husband was away on a mission trip my parents came for a visit and I talked my dad (who is a professional painter) into painting these horizontal stripes.  I've seen horizontal stripes on Nate Burkus and Pinterest and have loved them every time I see them.  I love how it turned out, every time I look into the entryway it makes me happy.  What do you think?

I would love to hang a round mirror with a really ornate frame in the place where this little picture frame/mirror/key hook thing is, but that will wait until I find a used one somewhere :)

Didn't my dad do a fantastic job? Love it.

Making a statement with stripes!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Makeover Mondays: Window's Aren't Just for Looking Through

When we got new windows a few years back, I asked them to save the old windows because I had some projects in mind. When I returned home I found, to my dismay, that they saved all the exterior aluminum windows and took the nice wooden frame windows. Ugh. Do you hear my excited heart deflating? I sure did. Thankfully my mother-in-law  was able to salvage one window for me. 

For this project, I cut 8 pieces of paper 4"x6" and taped them onto the window panes where I wanted the pictures to be.  I then sprayed the window with a glass frosting spray paint.  This allowed the window to still be translucent but not 100% transparent. I did this so that I could use tiny pieces of tape to attach the pictures and the frost would cover enough so you don't see the tape. 


Then I opened up the pictures on the computer and played with the contrast and color saturation to make them fun, playful colors and had them printed at Walgreens. 

To hang the window I had my husband or his father (can't remember who did it) drill holes in the back.  They have a jig that makes that keyhole type hole so that the screw or nail fits in the bottom of the hole and slides up to the top (not sure what that's called).

We used this method to make sure it was securely fastened to the wall because we hung it over the crib and it is heavy.  We didn't want her to be able to pull on it enough to get it to fall on her.  We also pre-drilled our holes and used plastic anchors to help make it super sturdy. 

Not too long ago as I was driving home, I saw this little window sitting by the curb...score! I think it looks pretty just hanging there and would look nice painted an accent color as well.  However I have another idea that I will share in a future post. 

Turning Trash into Treasure,


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pasta with Vegetables and Pine Nuts

Cooking through the Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, Recipe # 3, Pasta with Vegetables and Pine Nuts.

I was so glad we tried this dish, I bought the broccoli and cauliflower two times before actually making it.  It has great flavor and was easy to put together.  I added half an onion to the recipe because I LOVE most any dish that starts with sauteing onion and garlic. I used rice penne noodles as well to avoid gluten.  I have heard that rice noodles get mushy, so I was careful to pull them off the stove top as soon as they were al dente - actually a little more firm than I usually cook pasta - and they turned out perfect.  We had no problems with the noodles breaking or getting mushy and they weren't too hard either. 

What I like about this dish is that it is full of vegetables but it doesn't feel like you're eating a plate full of vegetables. 

I'm not a fan of mushrooms, but I think if you are, this recipe would be a good one to add mushrooms to.  To see some of Cathe Olson's recipes, visit her blog or check out her cookbooks.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Makeover Mondays: Office Chair turned Side Chair

I love how Nate Berkus can take something hideous and turn it into something beautifully modern and fresh.  This project was inspired by his show.  He's always talking about getting chairs at a yard sale and painting and reupholstering them.  So, I thought I needed to give it a try. 

We just moved into our home last summer and it's nearly 50% larger than our first home.  At any rate, we went from one sitting room to two and our budget doesn't accommodate buying new furniture.  So, I combed craigslist for weeks waiting to find the right set of chairs for our living room.  And, wouldn't you know it, some wonderful woman posted these ugly office chairs for free. 

Convincing my husband to drive across town to pick them up and that they would actually be comfortable and nice looking when I was done was the hardest part of this project :)  But, he's smart, so he finally agreed to go get them. 

Here's what we picked up.

Not so bad, two of these office chairs, a little dirty, a little ugly, but they have potential. 

I immediately started taking out staples and screws. While I did this, I wrote down what I did so that I could redo it in reverse order.  It's also a great idea to take pictures of each step to help if you get stuck on a particular step. When I had all the fabric off, I gave the wooden frames to my husband to sand and paint.  I went to the fabric store and purchased fabric and 1" foam to make the seat a little more cushy. 

I sewed the part that needed sewing and then my husband and I stapled and screwed them back together.  Here's what the finished product turned out like. 

Pretty nice set of side chairs for $15 a piece!

Decorating on a Dime,


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bean and Nut Loaf

Cooking through the Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook continued. 

Today's meal was Bean and Nut Loaf.  The sound of it is quite atrocious to me, however in my determination to cook through this cookbook, I'm trying everything. Guess what? Discipline pays off!

This mock meat loaf is made from walnuts, pinto beans, carrots, and flax seeds among other things.  It "dries" in the oven to form a nice crusty exterior and a soft, gooey interior.

I served it with ketchup, per Cathe Olson's recommendation and I think the ketchup was necessary to make this loaf really taste like meat loaf. 

Spaetzle, (a German egg noodle) sauteed in butter and salted, was our side dish .  The combination was very satisfying  - a good comfort food meal :)

And, let me just say, I love having fake meat that I prepared in a few minutes in the food processor rather than something from the frozen food section of the grocery store that is full of wheat gluten and soy protein as well as preservatives.  And, yes, Spaetzle does contain gluten, but it's nice that it's only in our side dish and not in the main dish as well. 

Cooking the musical fruit!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Makeover Mondays: Baby Swing!

Welcome, once again to Makeover Mondays where I focus on upcycling.  Today I want to share one of my favorite makeovers...drum roll upcycled baby swing.

We were so generously given a baby swing from some dear friends when we had our first daughter.  They had purchased it for their first son who is at least 13 as you can imagine it's slightly outdated.  It works fantastic and being the frugal person that I am, I didn't want to buy a new one. 

As I was thumbing through some pins on pinterest, I found what is now one of my all time favorite blogs, Make It - Love It.  On this site I found an amazingly detailed tutorial on recovering a car seat and a high chair.  I used the concept to recover my swing - I actually did a car seat and am in process of recovering my high chair as well.  It looks so amazingly better and it was super simple...much more simple than it looks.  My swing is now much more up-to-date and girly! 

Check out these before pictures

This is the original cover for the swing.

Here's a picture of my first daughter in the swing 4 1/2 years ago.

And, after 2 naps, the swing was transformed into this...

 This is my second daughter in the swing a month or two ago. 

And the sweet girl happens to be sleeping in the swing (her favorite place on the planet) right now so I can't get a great picture of the swing until later...I'll post a better picture of the finished product when the swing is available for a photo-op :)

Making the world prettier one swing at a time,


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Do You Do with Your Kid(s) Artwork?

I have piles and piles of my daughter's artwork that I hate to throw away, but I'm not sure what to do with. There are a few art projects that I have actually done something with and I'm so glad I did. 

I made a binder with all the art projects she did for preschool this year (we homeschool, but you can do this with what she/he bring home too - I included some of her Sunday school pictures too).  I just slipped the projects into sheet protectors and into a 3 ring binder.  This works great for things made on an 8 1/2x11 sheet or smaller.  Construction paper (I discovered) is too large for a binder.  So, all her construction paper projects are stuck in the folder part in the back.

Once I realized construction paper is too large for a binder and that it fades over time, I decided to buy a large package of scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby.  It's almost as big as a ream of copy paper and it's about $10 (so a little more than construction paper) but it's also more like card stock weight. Nice thing is it doesn't fade and fits nicely into the binder - so it's worth the extra few dollars to me. 

Some of the special pieces I framed.  We have two pieces hanging on my daughter's bedroom wall.  They are her first painting and her second drawing (first drawing went to the grandparents).  I love seeing these all the time.  It's a reminder of how far she's come in her artistic ability and it adds color to her walls. 

If they weren't her "firsts" I would probably change them out every month or so to change it up, but since these are firsts, they are staying. 

A friend of mine staples or tapes large pieces of construction paper together and tapes the projects into her "books" so that she can fit all different sizes of artwork into the books. She said her daughter enjoys going through her books and looking at all her artwork. 

What do you do?  I'd love to hear your comments and get a few more ideas...I currently have a basket on a bookshelf and a drawer in a dresser packed and these projects need an organized, new home :)

Busting at the Seams with Art,

Monday, June 18, 2012

Makeover Mondays: Painted Vases

This project was definitely inspired by Pinterest.  I found this great tutorial on painting vases here.  This is especially great if you want to use the vases for flowers or want to wash them. 

I needed something for my fireplace mantel and have no plans to use them for flowers or to wash them (besides a quick dust or rinse).  I am also on a tight budget and this project fit the budget.  I purchased some of the vases at the Dollar Tree and some were vases I already had.  Rather than go through all the steps in the tutorial on Sugar and Charm I simply poured a small amount of paint (which I had leftover from other projects) into each vase and rolled them until they were coated (on the inside) with paint.  I poured the excess paint back into the paint can and then set them upright to dry. 

As the vases dried, some paint pooled at the bottom, but it's not very noticable and since I'm not using them for anything other than decorations I'm okay with think paint on the bottom.  If you want to use your vases for flowers, don't paint them the way I did, look at the tutorial on Sugar and Charm. 

So quick and easy!

Paint it new!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cooking Through Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook: Tamale Pie

A while back I was doing a 60-day-no-refined-sugars fast.  I can't even remember why I did it.  But, I do remember the rule was that I could only eat products with no sugar or unrefined sugars such as honey, molasses, pure maple syrup, and agave nectar.  During the fast, I went to the library and checked out a cookbook called The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, by Cathe Olson.  I tried her desserts because they were made without refined sugars and I was craving sweets, and to my surprise, they were delicious! 

I wanted to renew the book, but it was reserved by someone else so I had to return it.  I finally bought the book a few weeks ago and decided to cook my way through the cookbook and post pictures online.  This cookbook is fantastic, but there are no pictures and I'm a fan of picture cookbooks.  So, this will serve two purposes: 1. Pictures to go along with the recipes (for me for the future) and anyone else that may be interested in the cookbook and 2. To encourage me to actually try things that might not sound so great just reading over them. 

*Edit* I just found Cathe Olson's blog where she shares pictures and some of the recipes from this cookbook along with other recipes.  If you are looking for good vegetarian or healthy recipes, check out her blog. 
Don't expect fancy pictures. I'm a mother of 2, homeschooling one and babysitting another until 6 in the evening, so by the time I get dinner on the table everyone is ready to dig in and there is little time (or patience) for me to take pictures.  These are just snap shots. 

So, I've made two meals from the cookbook so far.  Both were main dish recipes and then I made dessert to go along with it.  Guess how many pictures I have of the four dishes I've made so far?  One. Yup, that's right.  I only remembered to take pictures of the main dish of one of the meals I made.  So, these posts may be few and far between, but I will cook through the book, it just might take 5 years to get pictures of everything :) 

I know, the suspense is just building :)  ha! Here is the first dinner I made out of this book. 

Introducing the Tamale Pie (on page 202).

I will not be sharing the recipes on this blog as I want to promote the cookbook, not steal her recipes.  All I will say is her recipes are simple, delicious, and healthy.  I like a lot of flavor and so far her recipes have been pretty full flavor which I wasn't expecting because most vegetarian cookbooks I've tried are so focused on being healthy that they compromise flavor.  This is not the case with The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook and the precise reason I am so thrilled to be cooking through it.

Eat yourself healthy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Makeover Monday: Plastic Bag Container & Snack Container (Recycled)

Do you ever feel like you have plastic bags coming out of your ears?  I certainly do.  We use reusable shopping bags but even so, there are times we forget them and those little plastic bags accumulate quickly.  I use them for our small trash cans in the bedrooms and bathroom.  The only issue is that they are so bulky that I keep them in the basement which isn't very conducive to actually getting the bags in the trash cans before something gets thrown in them. 

In addition, I go through a lot of creamer and recycle the containers, but I wondered how I might reuse them. 

I saw something similar to this on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try.  I wanted to make them pretty, so I used an idea from Little Birdie Secrets when she made labels for soap dispensers. 

Here are the original containers...

I took the label off the coffee creamer container and then printed up some new labels.

I attached the labels with mailing tape to make the labels waterproof for washing. I like that the snack container has my girls' names on it so that I can bring it to the nursery at church and they won't wonder who it belongs to.

I like the black and white with the red Folgers can.

Cut a + in the top of the coffee can.

Here's the +

And, see how bulky these bags are?

Guess what, all neatly stored in this container.  Cute and Space, win. 

Now I have bags right in the bathroom vanity so it's super quick and easy to change the "trash bag" on trash days :)

Another use for the creamer container, wash one out and use it to store homemade salad dressing - nice easy pour spout. 

Note: I just emptied a Tum's container (actually my husband did - anyone know how to cure heartburn naturally?) and decided it would make a great snack container as well.  It's a bit smaller in size, so it's a good snack size and it has a larger mouth so the square pretzels that I buy will pour out of the lid easily.

Reusing Containers!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bubble Wrap Art

This is definitely a "pinspiration." I saw this on pinterest and had to try it out myself.  We did this with my 4 1/2 year old daughter and the 2 year old I babysit.  Both were able to do it and both had a great time.  It was fun making multiple prints and also trying different looks as we dragged the bubble wrap across the paper.

To do your own Bubble Wrap Art, cut a piece of bubble wrap the same size as the paper you'll be using.  Then have the kid's paint the bubble wrap. 

Notice the blue on my table?  That's a shower curtain from the Dollar Tree...also found that tip on Pinterest (I believe).  Works great for a no mess painting session and I don't have to go scrounging around for newspaper.  It just stays in our paint basket with all the painting supplies.

After the bubble wrap is completely painted, lay it on the paper and press down all around the bubble wrap.

Then pull it up and voila, you have a beautiful piece of art work.  You can make several "prints" before painting again.  The bubble wrap can also be washed with soap and water to be reused for another project :)

For a picture of the finished product, visit the website where I initially saw the idea.