Monday, January 13, 2014

Gardening: Thinking Spring!

I have lived in Washington state for about 13 years now. People told us it rained all the time. It is a semi true statement but the rain really hasn't bothered me. I  do love a good downpour where I can be inside a nice warm house with the fireplace on, cuddled under a blanket listening to the rain.

But, then Spring arrives and I am so ready for the warmer weather, gardening, being outside more, doing outside projects. I love all the four distinct seasons in the northwest.

I definitely have Spring on the brain these days. I came across this web site from Better Homes and Garden. It is all about garden plans. These garden plans are put together with essential tools you need to select your plan. There are quizzes to take, you can input the size of your garden space you want to work with. You can input information like if the garden space is sunny or shady, any animals in your area, and you can select the moisture level. Each plan comes with a detailed plant list, a color plan and illustration of the garden when it is full-grown. They have a selection of garden plans for vegetable spaces, cottage gardens, small-space gardening, and no-fuss areas.

I have been dreaming about what to do with our front yard for awhile and got so inspired with these plans. I am by far a beginner gardener so these plans were so much help to me in knowing what plants work and don't work for my climate, and garden area. Plus, as a visual learner I can see what the end results will be when the garden is full-grown.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Organizing: Indoor Recycle and Glass Bins

Ever since I received my Silhouette Cameo, I have been labeling things all over the house! There are two items in particular I wanted to share- our indoor recycle bin and glass bin.

We got these bins at Ikea. 

We started out with one bin and used it as our recycle bin. We had a glass bin which was an oversized trash can I kept under the kitchen sink. After some reorganization under the sink, it was time for it to go. We really liked everything about our current recycle bin so the last trip I took to Ikea, I got another bin for our glass containers. So we had two identical bins and no way of knowing what contents it contained.

Out came my Silhouette Cameo. I searched for new fun fonts to use. I used different colored vinyl for each bin.

Now there is no hesitation on what bin contains what.

These bins are stored just outside the kitchen area. They are close enough to throw items in when I am cooking yet not directly in my way while while I am busy in the kitchen. These bins also help with keeping our recycle items off the counters helping keep our kitchen space looking clean and clutter free. 

Ta Da!

- Susan
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Being Crafty: Sharpie Mugs Part 2 of 2

I completed the Sharpie mugs for a second time using a completely different process.

To read about my first time I created Sharpie mugs you can read about Part 1 Do and Don'ts here.

I purchased a set of Oil-Based Sharpies at Michaels. I found two darling light blue mugs. I had purchased myself the Silhouette Cameo cutting machine and put that to work for this project. These mugs were going to be a gift so for the design I did the ladies first initial of their first name. 

This is what I purchased for the Oil-Based Sharpie pens

Using my Silhouette Cameo machine I found a font I liked for this project, made it to size, had the machine cut it out, and taped the letter on the mug. 

I took the Oil-Based Sharpie pen (read directions on pen before using) and traced around the design. So easy! So simple! So cute!

I set the mugs aside to dry completely. I preheated my oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven was preheated, I put the mugs upside down on a baking sheet and let bake for 30 minutes. This allows the design to set into the mug.


No smears! 

I set aside the mugs to cool and I was done! I did a water washing test and it passed. 

I was done in just a short amount of time and had two personalized mugs.

Here is the first mug. I did the letter, colored it in with white and outlined in gold. I added a tea bag on the back.

Here is mug two. I liked the open outlined look in white and added gold dots around the letter.

Happy Crafting!

- Susan
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Being Crafty: Sharpie Mugs (Do's and Don'ts) Part 1 of 2

I first found this idea on Pinterest and thought it would be a fun project to try and maybe even a personalized gift idea - mugs you design with Sharpie pens.

I did this sharpie mug project two times. Before I dive into what I did right (the second time) I will try to explain what I did the first time so you won't make the same mistake I did - not that it was a big mistake but a learning process I would prefer NOT to repeat.

When I first saw the idea to make Sharpie mugs I immediately thought "how easy and cute, I already have tons of Sharpie's around the house". I found a white mug, gathered up some Sharpie markers and started on my design. 

These are just your everyday permanent Sharpie marker (NOT what you want to use on mugs!)

To make my design I simply used Microsoft Word, typed the letter and picked a font I wanted and made the font big so it would fit the mug. I printed it on white printer paper, and cut out the letter (leaving a border around the letter), positioned it on the mug and taped it down to hold it without the paper slipping around while I traced. What happen was good, actually! Sharpie pens tend to bleed through thin paper which left the outline of the letter I was tracing on the mug (I'm terrible at freehand). I went back and darkened the outline directly on the mug. I really apologize I don't have a picture to show this process. 

Doing the whole printer letter, tracing on mug thing really worked! I would highly recommend this to everyone!

Next I added the colored dots around the black letter with my colored Sharpies. I noticed some were smearing. I would leave the mug to dry for a bit but it wouldn't really ever dry and continued to smear. 

Once the design was complete on the mug I put the mug in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

The design still smeared a little bit. Well, that wasn't very helpful because the first drop of water the mug would touch, the design would wash away. 

I needed to seal it somehow and found a clear sealant. I found mine at Walmart in the craft section. For this you want the clear coat (I also got Matte finish) and made sure it says it will work on porcelain material. I turned my mugs upside down so the clear sealant wouldn't get inside the mug. Read the directions on the can before you spray. I did a light coat all around. In one small area I got to much sealant and the designed smeared a little. After that smearing incident, I made sure to do a very light, even coat around the mug. I let it dry and repeated the process about 4 times just to make sure the design was good and sealed so it wouldn't smear again.

This is the kind of clear matte finish sealant I used.

It did work! - no more smears! It could be hand washed only! It is not dishwasher safe. It was quite the process to go through and knew there had to be an easier way to make these Sharpie mugs.

Here are the only pictures I have of this mug! Honestly I love how the design turned out. I just didn't like the smearing of the Sharpie pens.

So to do a quick recap of the first time I did this Sharpie mug and what I learned here is my list of Do's and Don'ts:

  • Use any mug you would like.
  • Use any design or font you would like.
  • You can find a font or design online, print it on printer paper, and trace it onto the mug.
  • Bake the mug in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Do NOT use just any Sharpie pen - it take a special kind - the Oil-Based Sharpie pens is what you want!
  • If you use the Oil-Based Sharpie pens you don't need to use the sealant coat.

- Susan

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Organizing: The Baking Cupboard

As a full-time working mom of 2, I have had the privilege of staying home for the past 2 weeks, while the kids are off school for winter break. It has been amazing! It feels fabulous to get a snippet of what being a stay at home mom feels like. However, reality is going to hit again in 2 days. The weeks have gone by very fast.

The first week was incredibly busy with getting everything ready for Christmas, baking, cooking, wrapping presents, cleaning the house, running here, going there, early mornings, late nights.

The second week was way more relaxed, no schedule, didn't have to be anywhere at any certain time, and spent most of the time around the house working on projects I just haven't had the time to really dig into.

This year I purchased a Christmas present for myself and got a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. I have seen projects, done lots of reading and have wanted one for a very long time. Well I finally did it and have no regrets, none at all. The possibilities are endless with this machine but most of all I have loved using the vinyl.

One of the projects I dug into was my baking cupboard. It is one of my less used spaces but held way to much stuff, kind of like a junk drawer, but this was a cupboard and has been consistently on my mind to clean it out. I took everything out and almost immediately half got thrown away just because I hadn't used it in a really long time or it just wasn't good anymore. As I was sorting and reaching towards the back to clean it out I had quite a few "Oh I forgot I still had that" or "Oh that is where that ended up" moments. I then sorted out my piles - cupcake liners, sprinkles, sweet goodies, essential oils, extracts, cookie cutters. I repurposed bins from around the house and even had some fun shopping for new ones. 

A repurposed bin to hold all my cupcake liners and cupcake toppers

I found these little 2-pack containers in the $1 bin at Target. I just couldn't resist them.

I started up my Silhouette Cameo machine and created labels with my vinyl for the outside of the containers. That was so so fun!

It is just a fresh look to open that cupboard and see all the less crammed space, fun containers, and super cute labels on the containers now.  

The horrifying, super cluttered, unorganized BEFORE pictures:

The lovely, fresh, fun, colorful AFTER pictures:

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Random Post: New Eating Habits - Clean Eating

Happy new year to you! Any fun and exciting new years resolutions to share?

I love, love, love the start of a new fresh year. To a fabulous whatever comes your way. I am so excited to see what this year brings for our family. I am so ready! 

For my family, in 2013 we ate out a lot, or at least it sure seemed like it. I do love to cook and try new recipes but after a long day at work and my (as well as the kids) crazy evening routine, sometimes it was just easier to grab a quick bite out. I would be tired or didn't plan ahead and thaw any meat so nothing was planned for dinner. This year not only am I going to try and have my family eat healthier, we are also saving money by not eaten out as much and keep those eating out moments to a minimum.

To help stick to my plan, I subscribed to a meal planning service emeals. Emeals is a weekly menu planning service. They offer a variety of menu plans to fit your families needs and lifestyle. Included in your weekly meal planning service you get recipes for a main dish and entree or side dish, and a detailed grocery list. I chose the Clean Eating menu for my family. We have had three meals and each one has been delicious! I tend to be a bit of a pickier eater - no seafood, no certain veggies, so I will simply chose a different fresh veggie to prepare or chose another meal off the menu for that night. All I have to do each week is print off the menu plan and go grocery shopping.  

The benefits of a meal planning weekly service: 
  • More time to spend with my family and less time sitting flipping through cookbook after cookbook trying to come up with something new to eat for the week. 
  • We are saving money! Even tho the meal planning service is a teeny tiny bit of change each month, we are going to stick with it and purchase only what we need for the week off the menu and not buy a bunch of excess groceries that aren't healthy and don't really need - all those binge shopping moments we did - ack!
  • The meals on emeals look yummy! A variety of fresh food and really easy to prepare meals.
If you aren't familiar with Clean Eating I have included the basics below. You can also visit my Food - Clean Eating Pinterest board for fresh, healthy recipes.

Happy fresh cooking!

- Susan
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Recipe: Chinese Chicken Peanut Crunch Salad

The day after Thanksgiving Costco gives out these amazing free cookbooks to members. I have been collecting these cookbooks for about 10 years now.

As I was doing my weekly menu planning for family dinners this week, I came across some delicious looking recipes I wanted to try.

This recipe is inspired by the Mandarin Peanut-Crunch Salad with Crispy Wontons on page 115.

Here is my version of the salad recipe.
I titled it Chinese Chicken Peanut Crunch Salad

Crunchy Chinese Chicken Salad with Wonton Chips Recipe

3-6 chicken tenderloins, cooked, cut to bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil

mixed greens of choice (your desired amount)
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
shredded red cabbage (your desired amount)
carrots, cut bite size (your desired amount)
1 naval orange, peeled, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup chow mein noodles

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 1/4 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

In a skillet, add olive oil to pan. Cook chicken tenderloins until done and cut into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Prepare the dressing. In a blender, combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Adjust sweetness to taste. Place in bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, prepare greens, cabbage, carrot, orange, peanuts, and noodles, add in chicken. Mix together and add desired amount of dressing.

Makes 4-6 servings.
Happy Cooking!
- Susan
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Refurbished Kids Desk

One of the things I really enjoy doing is taking something that has great potential yet needs a “face lift” and turning it into something that looks amazing, new, and fun, such as a piece of furniture, in this instance a kids desk.

My girl has outgrown her small IKEA kids table. She needed more space, a taller area to work.  I had been looking in stores and on Craigslist and at places like Goodwill and Value Village (second hand stores) but either it was more than I was willing to pay or it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
Well with patience I came across this kids desk on Craigslist. I was so anxious to bring it home and start sanding it down. It was in good condition structurally, however the top was a chalkboard that did not write on well and the rest was painted in an off white color with not so pretty door knobs on it. Blah.

I took my kids and went to Home Depot to pick up a few paint supplies. While at Home Depot I had Kate pick out new drawer pulls. As soon as we got home I started on refurbishing this desk. I took the drawers out, sanded the entire desk down to “rough it up” and did the same with the drawers. The desk had huge gouges in it, which I filled in with wood glue, waited for it to dry and sanded it down and painted right over it. I wiped the desk down to get rid of all the sawdust and started to roll on the coats of white paint. As I was waiting for the desk to dry I worked on the drawers, laying them out getting them ready to spray paint.
This project took me about one day to do. Take a look at the before and after pictures below. 

OUCH! Big gouge

More dings and dents

During the sanding stage

Now here are the AFTER photos of the kids desk.

Remember the big gouge from the picture above? It is all gone!

The dents in the middle of the desk have been removed (or filled in)!

These are rose like drawer knobs that adds just detail to the desk.
So there you have it! My girls refurbished kids desk. What do you think? Colorful, fun? I just love the new, fresh look.

- Susan
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