Monday, November 4, 2013

Mason Jar: Turkey Treat Jars

How fun is Thanksgiving?!?  I love the spirit of gratitude and of course the turkey.  Now, I don't mean eating turkey (although I do love that too).  I mean little turkey crafts.  Over the years I have made hand turkeys, feet turkeys and the like with my kids and they were so awesome.  This year, I decided to make a bit more sophisticated turkey treat jar.

They turned out amazing and were so easy.  First, I filled my jar with M&M's which gave the perfect amount of color and yummy goodness to the project.

Next, I used the feather cut out from the turkey pillow box pattern I had downloaded from Silhouette online.  The size was perfect.  I did, however feel that it needed some color so I took brown, orange/red and gold crayons to add some layers of color to the feathers.

Finally, I used my scallop circle punch to make a face.  Again, using the beak and wattle pattern from the pillow box I created a face with the addition of some googly eyes.  I used hot glue to attach the feathers to the glass and the head to the lid ring.  This allows the recipient to open the jar and still keep the cute turkey.

I just love these and while these were made for the Sunshine Committee, I plan to make some for table decorations at my house as well.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mason Jars: Soaking Salts

Last week I share with you a fun craft opportunity I have making fun little treats and gifts for my children's schools Sunshine Committee (a group of teachers that are committed to bringing random acts of kindness to our students, teachers and staff who need a little "sunshine").

Part of my bag of goodies provided by the team was a bunch of these small half pint mason jars.

I love mason jar crafts because there are so many possibilities.  I have done a number of gifts in the past with sugar scrubs and bath salts so I decided to mix up a fall version for the Sunshine Committee (note, I totally need to make some of these for my family and friends too because they turned out awesome).

The recipe is quite simple. 

Basic Recipe:
2 cups Epsom salt
1/2 cup baking soda
few drops essential oil
food coloring (optional)

I decided to make a Cinnamon Apple Pie Soaking Salt so I added the following ingredients...

cinnamon essential oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves

I stirred it up and spooned it into the jars.  I cut a circle of scrapbook paper and designed a label using the Avery website.
Of course, I could also fill these jars with candy.  And I did.  The beauty is they can be filled with any number of types of candies and decorated with a simple round from fun, seasonal scrapbook paper.  For October I also filled some jars with candy corn and Halloween paper.

Come back Monday for my cute turkey treat jars.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sunshine Committee Pillow Box Treats

Recently one of the teachers from our awesome school asked for a crafty parent to assist with the Sunshine Committee.  I jumped at the chance to be creative!  I love to volunteer at my kids school but I must say, I am picky what I will do!  I believe we should work to our strengths and of course, I have some creativity to share!

The Sunshine Committee is a group of teachers who have come together to offer little gifts of sunshine to teachers, staff and students who for whatever reason may need a little boost of sunshine.  They offer encouragement, cheer, a pat on the back and more. I love the idea of this committee because I know how the simplest gesture of kindness can totally make a person's day.

Each month, the committee brings me a bag of goodies and I work my magic.  Since everyone loves a little sweet treat we always have some candy.  This month I was working with M&M's and candy corn.  I decided to make some little pillow box treat holders with my Silhouette.

I downloaded this adorable turkey pillow box from the Silhouette online store.  Perfect treat for the month of November.  I added googly eyes instead of the paper eyes because, well, googly eyes are just plain fun!  Inside, I put a small plastic bag filled with M&M's.  These would work great with the fun size candy bars too as they are the perfect size.

The Silhouette website has a number of other cute Pillow Box ideas including an owl.  Of course, even though the downloads are cheap, I knew I could make my own owl using the Turkey box since it had the same "ruffles" on the chest.  For the eyes, I used a scalloped circle punch that I have used in the past.  A simple yellow beak and some larger googly eyes and there you go.

I love these pillow box owls because they can be so many different colors to fit the seasons.  I will definitely get the use out of this pillow box download. 

A few months ago I had downloaded this fun owl treat holder from the Silhouette website as well.  Using some fall colors, I created a few cute treat packets using the candy corn as well. I just love how they came out.

I sure hope that these fun projects bring some sunshine to our most deserving students, teachers and staff!  I look forward to making more creations in the future.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Minion

It is that time of year again and the kids have so many ideas about what they want to be for Halloween.  I lucked out with my daughter and found an adorable Children's Place witch costume at a consignment sale for just $5!  My son chose to be a minion so I got to be a bit crafty.

My original hope was to find a pair of cute denim overalls.  However, that was more difficult than I anticipated.  Of course, my good friend Heather from No Business Like Sew Business came to the rescue with a pattern for overalls - she just so happened to create the pattern the week before for her own son, albeit for a different costume.  The boys happen to be the same size.  Woo hoo!  By the way, Heather rocked out 26 costumes this year!  Amazing!

So I headed to my favorite discount fabric store and picked up a couple yards of navy gabardine and whipped up the overalls.  Perfect.  The shirt is from Old Navy - yay, did not have to sew!  I painted the Gru symbol on and then, to make it stand out a bit, I used some glitter glue!  It is a costume after all.

I am not a huge seamstress, in fact, I am pretty bad. The details are not pretty but it works and my boy was ecstatic!  I will NOT be showing you the construction.  It is U-G-L-Y!!!  Speaking of which, it laid there for nearly 2 weeks unwearable because I was afraid to attempt to make button holes.  Confession, I have never done one.  Anyways, Heather came to the rescue again.  She reminded me, it is a costume, use a snap or Velcro and fake it (she did with hers).  So that is just what I did.  Perfect!

The hat and goggles were a ton of fun.  Confession, Heather made the hat!  (Have I mentioned, I LOVE Heather - you should too!)  The goggles were easy.  I used a pair of safety goggles that the kids got at the Lowes builder workshops.  I hot glued a couple of canning lids and added some "eye" circles to the inside.  Easy peasy.  The goggles sit up on my son's forehead on top of the hat.  I simply hot glued some black pipe cleaners on top for hair.

Oh, how we love our little Minion!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to School: Sign of Encouragement

With the new school year in full swing, I wanted to give my kids a simple reminder of how awesome their Dad and I think they are.  I love to see our kids grow, learn, struggle, win and blossom.  Childhood is filled with wonderment.

Each day we talk with our kids about their day.  What was great?  What was not so great?  How can we start tomorrow with a fresh outlook.  I wanted to remind them of the words we tend to use when helping them through their struggles and their triumphs.

 I have seen versions of this on other blogs and on Pinterest.  I love how it reminds us that there are many sides to us and that each and every day we should be proud of who we are.  This is a great mantra as the kids leave for school each day and a perfect reminder at the end of the day.

I had the perfect spot for this sign, a small wall right between the kids bedroom doors.  It is right at the end of the hallway so it will always serve a reminder as we reflect on our days.

I used a dark gray vinyl and some craft paints I had on hand.  After painting my board a creamy white, I used my Silhouette to create the words in a variety of fun fonts to help each word stand out.  I placed it on the board, slight off center.  This allowed me to add some color with a simple dry-brush technique using blue, green and gray.

It still needed a little something so I decided to put a banner across the top.  I found a fun chevron card stock in my stash with just the right blues and greens.  I used the Silhouette again to cut out a bunch of 1" circles.  I then pulled out the sewing machine and quickly sewed the circles together.  Gluing the end circles in place the banner was perfect.

I love the reminder for the kids (and for me too - as we all can use a little encouragement).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back to School: Teacher Gift

We recently had our "meet the teacher" night, gearing up for the first day of school.  In addition to bringing the plethora of school supplies needed for each of my kids, I wanted to give their teachers something special for them.

Last week I saw this great printable from Skip to My Lou (one of my favorite craft blogs).  I really liked that it was a gift from ME and not the kids.  I enjoy spending time volunteering at my children's school and want their new teachers to know that I am available to help in any way needed. This is one of the many blessings of being a stay at home mom with a flexible schedule.

Living in Arizona, I decided that lotion would be a nice touch.  I printed and cut out the tags and grabbed a couple of bottles of lotion from my coupon stash.  I have hoarded some fun printed card stock packs from Michael's recently.  In addition to plain colors, they have started carrying some very fun prints.  This particular pack was colorful chevrons reminiscent of Missoni.  I loved it.  I used the sheet that was mostly teal with the design only at the bottom.  I adhered the tag to the card stock and cut a hole at the top to go around the lotion bottle.

Volunteering at school is something that is so rewarding.  I am blessed with the time to spend helping out at school as I know working parents are not afforded. I know the teachers appreciate it too.  It is so wonderful to spend time helping young readers and kids who struggle with their math facts.  That small group and one-on-one time can make all the difference for some kids.  I have also spent time in the classroom helping with center work and assisting the teacher who can't be everywhere when the kids are working on independent projects.

We are all looking forward to another amazing school year.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School: Homework Station

Day two of getting ready to head back to school.  Today I am sharing how I put together a simple homework station with the goal of keeping us organized.

Our kids are young enough yet that I still have them sit at the kitchen table after school to do their homework. One of the big frustrations I had from last year is that we could NEVER find a sharp pencil or other supplies needed to complete their work.

I had the perfect thing to create this station - a picnic organizer that I picked up at Target a few years ago in their summer section.  It is designed to hold utensils, plates and napkins but the compartments were perfect for notebooks, paper, pencils, markers, etc.

Using my Silhouette, I cut out some vinyl letters to remind the kids that the items in this bucket are to be used for homework.  I don't know about you, but everything I own gets "stolen" by the kids and hauled upstairs to their bedrooms, never to be seen again.  The kids know that these items may NEVER be removed from the bucket unless being utilized for homework!  I will have to let you know how that goes!  hee hee!

This year when doing our supply shopping, I decided to pick up extra supplies to put in our homework station.  With elementary age kids, the supplies I have included are:

  • pencils (only Ticonderoga - they are the best)
  • markers
  • colored pencils
  • crayons (only Crayola - again, the best)
  • highlighters
  • ruler
  • school glue & glue sticks (Elmers - the best)
  • index cards (to make flash cards)
  • wide ruled loose leaf paper
  • pencil sharpener
  • scissors

I will not be surprised if I need to add a few things once school starts.  As I typed this I thought of scissors.  I will need to head to the store this week and pick up a couple of those.

Now if I can just get the kids to sit down after school and do their homework without whining!  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to School: Water Bottles

School starts this week for us (doing the happy dance)!  It is hot and dry in Arizona so our school requires each student to bring a water bottle everyday.  I love this about our school.  Well, with all those kids there are bound to be duplicate water bottles.  Face it, we all shop at Target and the options are limited!

These are the bottles I chose for this year - actually the same style we used last year.  I love these bottles by Embark because the lid is tethered and therefore can't be lost.  I also love the wide mouth which allows for super easy cleaning.  It is also really easy to fill with ice in the morning, rather than struggling to push large cubes through a small hole!  We are a busy family, I don't have time for that!

To make sure that we don't lose our water bottles, I always try to make them easy to spot and differentiate them from everyone else.  This year I decided to use my Silhouette machine to put the kids names on them.  It was quick, easy and the kids love the results.

Just a few more projects and we are going to be ready for school!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cherry Chipotle Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

 I love going to a BBQ!  Who doesn't really!?!  Great food, fun friends and did I mention, great food!  We were invited  to a friends house on the 4th so I decided to make some BBQ ribs that I had in the freezer from a recent sale!

I personally like a sweet barbecue sauce.  I remembered a sauce that I had made a year ago but I couldn't find the recipe anywhere....on-line or in my recipe files.  Of course, that never stops me.  I decided to whip up my own recipe.  And I must say, it turned out spectacular. 

I am really in to creating sauces, salsas and dips lately.  They are so versatile and can totally change a meal from boring to spectacular.  While this sauce was spectacular on our ribs, I can't wait to try it with chicken, pulled pork or even steak.  I have an idea to turn it in to a dip or spread too (consider that recipe coming soon).

I knew that the recipe I had used in the past used canned cherries and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, so that is where I started.  

As a general rule, barbecue sauces consist of an acid, spice and sugar.  With that I in mind I developed a sweet, fruity and tart sauce with a subtle, smoky heat on the back side.  I love giving sauces a unique depth of flavor that progresses as you eat it.  Here is the recipe I came up with...

4    cans Sweet or Tart Pitted Cherries with liquid
1   7oz can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
2    cups Ketchup
2    cups Dr. Pepper
1   cup Apple Cider Vinegar
½  cup Lemon Juice
1   cup Brown Sugar
3   Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2   Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1   Tbsp Finely Chopped Garlic
1   Tbsp Nutmeg
1   tsp Cloves
1   tsp Cumin

Bring to a boil.  Turn down to a medium simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, stirring occasionally.  Liquid should have a thick syrup quality that richly coats the back of a spoon.  Using an immersion blender, purée the sauce until all cherries and peppers have been combined into the sauce. 

If you do not have an immersion blender, get one!  They rock!  Otherwise, you can use a regular blender.  Since you are blending a HOT liquid, only fill the blender half full (or less) and hold the lid on with a dish towel. The hot sauce can burn you if it splatters so proceed with caution.

This sauce can be canned by placing in jars with ¼” head room.  Using a water bath, process for 20 minutes. The recipe made 12 half pint jars.  {Friends - you know who you are - these jars have your names on them!}

For the BBQ today, I made some ribs in the slow cooker - low and slow all day - and then through them on the grill with some of the BBQ sauce.

The ribs were amazing.  They melted off the bones and the sauce was a huge hit.  Just the right amount of sweet and heat.  I should have brought more jars with me to the party!!

Mmmmm, mmmmm good!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Back Yard Upgrade: New Chairs

Have I said how much I LOVE THRIFTING!?!  I do.  There is nothing better than the surprises that comes when you enter a thrift store.  Last week I shared the amazing catering cart we found at the local salvage shop.  Well, a few days later I totally scored at Goodwill.

After taking the kids to the library we ran in to Goodwill which shares the parking lot! {heart} This particular day I was greeted by a variety of amazing outdoor furniture.  In the mix were 6 matching large metal chairs.  They needed pads and a little love but the price was right and they were totally meant for our pool area.

With our hot sun and dry air, well-made metal outdoor furniture is a must.  Wood dries out and plastic becomes brittle.  These metal chairs were perfect so I immediately scooped them up and brought them home.

If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen this sneak peek photo.  Hubby and I decided that freshening them up with a coat of oil rubbed bronze would give them the like-new look.  The finish was just a little weathered and faded but not bad at all.

Next step was finding the right cushions for the chairs.  I will admit, this part sort of broke the budget, coming in at twice as much as the cost of the chairs themselves.  We chose a great, super plush cushion-back combo from Home Depot.  They fit perfectly and look amazing.

 I took this photo after sitting there this afternoon watching the kids swim.  So comfortable.

They work well with the little side tables we picked up last year on clearance at Target.

I love that we were able to add 6 new, comfortable chairs to our backyard pool area.

The thrift store has totally brought new life to our back yard!  The additional storage is amazing and the new seating is so inviting.  Come back next week for a full tour of the back yard upgrade 2013!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back Yard Upgrade: Catering Cart Makeover

This weekend here in Arizona we are under an Extreme Heat Advisory.  That means 110 degrees and higher for several days.  Having a swimming pool is critical in our attempt to stay cool.  Going in to this summer, we knew we wanted to make a few additions to our back yard to make it more usable for our family and for parties.

Our objectives for the back yard are as follows:
  1. Storage/Bar Area
  2. Comfortable and more seating
  3. More table space
  4. Create a purpose for west side of yard (currently a dirt patch, this will be next summer's project - need to save $$$)

Today I am very excited to share the results of our first objective - creating a storage/bar area.

For the past 6 months, we have been on the hunt for a piece of furniture to make over.  The piece needed to provide storage for towels, sunscreen, pool toys/goggles, etc.  It also needed to have a surface to be used like a buffet for drinks and snacks when we are out back.  We really thought we were looking for a dresser or buffet similar to the buffet we found for our living room.

Then one day, we were at one of our favorite salvage shops and came across this beauty...

Yep, an old beat up catering cart that reminded us of those that are used by the airlines.  It was sitting just outside the dumpster.  Had we not rescued this gem, it was going to the junk yard!  Nooooo!  We knew it was just what we were looking for - a conversation piece, a piece we could bring back to life and make our own.

This dirty, faded, sun worn, dried out, rusty cart with missing doors was a bit of a challenge.  It took a few attempts to take it all apart.  We broke a few bolts in the process but got it apart with the help of a blow torch to loosen a few rusty pieces.  After a lengthy pressure washing we were ready to go.

Since we immediately thought airline beverage cart when we saw it, we decided to go that route with an aviation color scheme.  We chose a dark blue for the shell - painting both inside and out.  We kept the metal pieces as is for an industrial feel.  We gave them a good clean and buff and reattached them with new hardware. 

We removed the broken door hardware.  With no doors on the piece we decided to create a simple roll-up dust cover for the front of the unit.  I went to my fabric stash and found the perfect orange and white awning striped outdoor fabric.  I love how the orange played off the blue. I sewed a simple curtain with pockets at the top and bottom.  Through the top pocket we placed a metal strip.  We bolted the curtain to the top of the piece.  The bottom pocket has a piece of dowel to add some weight and structure for when we roll up the cover.

 I added a couple of ribbons to hold the cover up when we were using the cart.  I plan to add a couple of pieces of Velcro along the sides of the cart to help hold the cover in place when not in use as the wind catches it and blows it around.

We created a few adjustable shelves for the unit.  I then hit the dollar store and found the perfect baskets and tubs to store items on the cart.  I was so excited to find our colors. 

 The best part about this piece is that we rescued this forlorn cart and turned it in to an amazing gem.

I'll be back next week with part 2 of our back yard update.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Master Closet Makeover

There are a ton of changes going on at our house right now.  It sort of feels like we have hit the home improvement lottery!  We didn't but that doesn't stop me from grinning from ear to ear on the big and small changes.

One area that has proven to be a "big project on a small budget" has been a DIY makeover of our master closet.  I am so excited to finally share it with you.

First off, we are blessed with a nice large walk-in closet.  It is more than adequate to house our clothes.  Yet, it just didn't seem to function for us.  There was an excessive amount of hanging space, inefficient shelves that did not serve our need for folded clothing storage and it was dark and messy. Okay, the messy part is all on us, but that was because it just didn't meet our needs.  Half of our clothes was in the bedroom in dressers and half was located in the closet.  We really needed it all in one space.

So here were our issues:

The end of our closet had a large built in shelving unit.  This unit had deep shelves that were spaced very far apart which made stacking items impossible as they would tumble over if you stacked too high.  We did have 2 large, shallow baskets that were great but there was still a lot of unusable space between the shelves.

Behind the door to the closet was an area over 6' long that offered some additional hanging storage.  The previous owners had placed the shoe rack on the wall as well.  As you can see, we had shoes on the rack, on a rack on the floor and in hanging storage.  We really do not have that many pairs of shoes but they seemed to take up a lot of real estate in the closet.  Actually, after going through the shoes, we have been able to take out nearly half of them that we rarely if ever wear anymore.

The end of the closet opposite the shelving was yet more hanging storage and as you can see, we really didn't use it.  This area is where we tried to create some accessory storage with hats and scarves on hanger and a plastic drawer unit.  Such wasted space.


Area #1:  Hanging Storage

I think we all dream of having the fancy closet systems and while they have become more affordable, they are still crazy expensive.  As we looked at our closet, we determined that the back wall of hanging storage was more than adequate for our hanging clothes.  There was no reason to take out the existing hanging storage, only to replace it with "fancy" hanging storage.

That being said, this area still needed a little work.  The weight of our clothes and the storage up above was causing the shelving to pull away from the wall.  We realized that the supports were not secured into the studs. We fixed this problem by adding screws through the header board into the studs every 16" or so.  Additionally, we added one more bar support to the upper bar since it seemed to be sagging a bit.  The upper bar was a single rod and the supports appeared to be a bit too far apart.  The lower bar is a series of smaller bars so we didn't have the sagging problem.

To improve the aesthetics of the closet, we decided to spray paint the supports using a brushed nickel spray paint. 

Area #2:  Folded Storage

Since we determined that we really did not need any additional hanging storage, we pulled out the hanging rods on the wall behind the closet door.  We also took down the shoe storage from the wall.  This area was just the right size to put 2 Malm dressers from Ikea as well as 2 smaller Closetmaid drawer units I found on clearance at Target.

These two units are perfect for our folded items such as t-shirts, shorts, pajamas and swimwear.  The smaller unit and the small top drawers of the Malm dressers are just right for socks, underwear and other small accessories.

We decided to go with a white laminate finish on these items for two reasons.  First, the white brings some brightness to this small space.  Secondly, we have been able to easily mix and match different storage solutions from Ikea, Target and other big box stores.

Area #3:  Shoe Storage


I am loving our new shoe storage.  I picked up two large Closetmaid Shoe Cubicles from Target.  They are perfect for us.  The individual cubicles work well for our shoes.  Larger shoes and items we don't wear as often are placed on the top and side of the unit.  I like that there is still room on the edge of the dresser if needed.

Area #4:  Dressing Area

We found an awesome long mirror at Home Goods which is great for getting ready in the morning.  I love it's size.  It was hung at the end of the closet where the shelving unit was previously installed.

I would like to add a small bench somewhere in the closet so that we have a place to sit to put on a pair of socks or shoes.  This will likely be placed on the wall opposite the mirror.

Area #5:  Lighting & Flooring

As stated above, our closet is essentially becoming our dressing area.  In order for this to function properly we needed to address the lighting which often felt too dim.  We removed the old dome lights and replaced them with a bright 3-bulb halogen light.  We have a similar fixture in our kitchen.  what we liked about these lights is that it allows us to focus the lights on specific areas within the closet.

As part of our larger flooring project (more information on this will be shared in the weeks to come), we pulled up the dirty old carpet in the closet.  We replaced this with the same wood flooring we are putting throughout our house.  The wood offers a clean and surprisingly soft surface for getting ready. 

Area #6:  Te Be Continued...

Just to the left of the door, opposite the mirror we again removed the hanging storage rods.  Right now this area houses our laundry bin.  Ultimately, this area will become our accessory storage area.  We are still trying to determine what this will be like.  I think we need to live with the space for a while to figure out exactly what our needs are for this area.

We are so happy with this newly remodeled area of our home.  I love when a few simple changes make things so much easier.  The bonus of this project is that in true spring cleaning fashion, we have tried to simplify our wardrobe and what is taking up space in our closet and our life.

linked up at ... skip to my lou, sugar bee crafts, today's creative blog, funky polkadot giraffe, not just a housewife, madigan made,52 mantels, {i love} my disorganized life, house of hepworthschic on a shoestring