Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spray Paint Makeovers

Back in the glory days (aka before kids) we used to go garage sale-ing a lot. We picked up some steals, and I always loved the thrill of the hunt. There's been a couple of weeks that we considered going lately, but as soon as I think about getting everyone ready and having to get Thing One and Thing Two out of the car at every deal seems worthy of all that. Some day we will return to claim our sale-ing title. In the mean time, I am still working with stuff I bought at sales years ago. I got this chair for $1. I intended to strip and re-stain it. So I stripped it and could still never get the color to even out. Then I waited 6 years. Finally, a few weeks ago I decided I could at least improve the look by painting the whole chair white.

I bought this spray paint for dummies. (See, you can use this to paint a chair! I am every marketer's dream I'm sure. I told you about the bird feeder. )

Anyway, it took about a can and a half, since the wood had been stripped and it soaked up a lot of the paint. But it came out nice and smooth and shiny.

A little too shiny actually, so I decided to de-stress a little bit. Then Thing one decided to de-stress a little more. See that section in the front? I'm calling that "character."

I like my little faux antique country chair, and it looks a lot better at my sewing table (i.e. in my bedroom). I did spray a clear coat over everything after de-stressing.

Spray paint can do wonderful things, and there's nothing I love more than a quick project with dramatic results. This little plastic table used to be white. White was seeming kind of stark, so I sprayed it silver to match these chairs. This is year two and it is still looking good.

But these chairs did not turn out so great. A few years ago I discovered that they make spray paint for plastics! On the can it shows a plastic play house and a chair like this, so I thought it would be fun to turn my white patio chairs blue (and a bright blue at that). Unfortunately in the Colorado sun it wasn't long before the blue paint was wearing off on unsuspecting butts. Can I tell you to never spray paint an outdoor plastic chair? Just don't do it.

I hope you have a great weekend. Enjoy those garage sales if you can, and if not I'm sure there's a project that's been sitting around for 6 years or so that you can bust out.

Thanks for reading.
- Haley

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fun Kid Food

Memorial Day is pretty much the opening ceremonies for summer, right? Even though my kiddos are not in school yet, it still feels good when it's officially summer. I think my mom always did a good job of making summer feel special, and I want to do that for my kids. We've been trying out some new kid-friendly foods I thought I would share. 

First up was squid dogs. I've been excited to try this ever since I saw it in Family Fun. I tried to keep the tentacles kind of short, and used ketchup and mustard to make a little sea scene for them. They were a big hit with Thing One. 

Next I wanted to try making mini corn dogs, by putting hot dog slices in mini corn muffins. Then I thought maybe it would be fun to have all different kinds of muffins, so I also made pizza (pepperoni and mozzarella), and taco (leftover taco beef, corn, and cheddar) ones. This would be good for families with kids who like different things. Everyone could have a flavor they liked! 

This last one was kind of a mistake. We had some friends over for dinner and I was going to make a couple different kinds of pizza. I thought I had a refrigerated crust, but when I went to use it, it was bread sticks. I remembered that I had seen this somewhere and I sprinkled them with mozzerella and sliced pepperoni and rolled them up. I think I baked them for about the same amount of time as the  package instructed.

Here's how they look after baking. Like a savory cinnamon roll. These were so good. Serve with tomato sauce and you are good to go.  Thing One really liked the "Pizza Rolls." If your kids are not too picky (or if you made this for a grown up appetizer) you could tuck some herbs like basil or oregano in there too.

I hope these ideas give you something new to try. 

Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all our veterans and current military. I am humbled by their sacrifices and truly grateful for all they do!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Monster Party

I don't feel like I'm a really dramatic person, but I am a very thematic person. Anything is better with a fun theme. Last fall we hosted a monster themed play day and today I'm sharing all the details. I kept things pretty simple, and I think the kids had fun. 

I had this monster fabric that I'd been waiting to use. I made some little bean bags, and covered a hot chocolate tin with paper to make a bean bag toss game.

These monster eyes were a big hit. They are just marshmallows dipped in colored almond bark with a black m&m.

I set up a coloring and beading table. I drew the monsters for them to color and put out fruit loops to string onto some cording. Honestly, after all that I did for this the kids probably would have been just as happy with just the marshmallows and fruit loops. That's what happens when you don't normally let your kids have a lot of sugary treats. 

The main activity was making these playdough monsters. I made a batch of homemade playdough and made a few different colors for the kids to choose from. Then I put out feathers, googly eyes, cut felt shapes, and little pipe cleaners.

It's fun to see each of the kids have their own ideas.

The googly eyes were pretty popular with everyone.

As I was searching for monster ideas I found a party somewhere that had made crayon bags to look like monsters, so I combined that with a travel kit idea and made these crayon rolls. You can probably figure out what I did just by looking at them. The little tab is some colored elastic I got as a Pick Your Plum deal once. 

Here's the whole gang. You just fold in half and roll and then secure with the elastic loop.

 Then they look like this. Perfect for keeping kids busy, especially waiting for food at a restaurant.

 We had a little baby friend come and I didn't want him to feel left out, so I made him a monster softie.

I was first inspired to have a monster day when I saw these bags at Target, so everyone got a bag to take home with some playdough in case they want to make more monsters, and some coloring pages to go with their crayon rolls.

It was a fun day, without too much work. I hope you can use some of these ideas for your little monsters. 

Thanks for reading!

I'm sharing this party at Bloom Designs & Confetti Diaries

Monday, May 21, 2012

Teacher Appreciation

Since school is finishing up everywhere in the next few weeks I thought I'd share a couple of teacher appreciation gifts I made. This weekend we celebrated a teacher who has meant the world to many, many students over 27 years. I made a lot of the decorations for the party. I wanted her to have a few things she could keep, so I made these wooden signs. Here's a little rundown of I how I made them.

I picked up the wood at Hobby lobby in the art area (with the balsa wood and dowels and stuff). Then I spray painted them, and went to work with the Silhouette. This is the kind of project I envisioned when I was lusting after this machine. I used vinyl for both signs but in different ways. For the first one I just cut the words, peeled off the outside part and used transfer paper to position it on the board.  The quotes were stickers and the flowers I cut out of scrapbook paper using one the free shapes of the week (hydrangea petals). I stick them together with a mini brad and attached them to the board with glue dots. 

The second sign I wanted to look like a chalk board. I sprayed it black and then cut out vinyl words to use as a stencil. I painted the words white, but they did bleed under the vinyl a little.

So I used a black Sharpie to touch up the edges and give me nice clear letters, with a tiny bit of chalk-like texture.

She is a Math teacher so this was a great way to show how much we appreciate her.

Thanks Ms. N. There really is no equal.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Like to Plant, Plant, Plant...

Did you ever sing that song in elementary school? "I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas..." I love getting annoying songs like that stuck in my head, er wait no I hate it. We made the mistake of playing "Friday" in front of Thing One. I feel like that song is like virtual rubbernecking. A car wreck you can't look away from. Some people's kids... Anyway enough rambling.

I never cease to be amazed that such a tiny seed can grow into a tomato plant as tall as I am. It's amazing even to see them at this stage, which also happens to be when they are ready to go out into the world garden. My babies always grow up so fast, unless of course my real child gets to them and pulls out a whole six pack of seedlings before I discover that he has crawled to the mini greenhouse. No biggie, it only took them six weeks and daily watering to grow that big! Good thing he's so cute. Anyway, I was ready to transplant the tomatoes a couple of weeks ago but couldn't because we were out of bananas. What's that? Yep, I never plant my tomatoes without two key ingredients:

egg shells and bananas. It's best to use ones that have been in the compost for a day or more because then they are a little softer and easier to chop up.

Tomatoes like to be planted deep, so I dig my hole and throw in a piece of peel and a shell and then chop them with my little spade and cover them with a little dirt.

Then I put in the plant, cover, firm soil, make a little well around it and water well.

See that on the left, it's parsley. I read somewhere that parsley is a perfect soil mate for tomatoes because they use different nutrients. We've had pretty great luck with tomatoes since we started using all these little tips. We also have gone to growing mostly determinates. That means the plant will only get so large (as opposed to indeterminate), then it puts all its energy into making juicy fruit instead of expanding its territory. It's the only way to go if you are doing tomatoes in pots. I can't wait to be enjoying tons of these in a couple of months. These are from last year. See, it works!

I hope you have a great weekend and I hope you get to do something dirty, like plant a tomato. : ) We'll be pardy-n pardy-n...since it's Friday and all. Fun. Fun. Fun. Fun.

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Garden Stand Makeover

 Today I have a makeover to share with you. A couple of summers ago, my dad's company held a charity garage sale. Someone there was selling this plant stand and my dad saw potential and picked it up for me. When he brought it over I honestly thought, "That looks like a rusted piece of junk, thanks for thinking of me." But my dad was right. He is good at seeing the potential in things, and I am getting better at seeing it. Here's the original, slightly disassembled (I almost forget to take a before picture).

I first sanded down the rusted and chipping parts. 

I took it all apart and spray painted it with black Rustoleum. It took a couple of coats.

Then I bought some coconut grass plant liners for the baskets. I was going for the look below, but cheap me couldn't bring herself to pay $6 x 4 for liners in a plant stand that didn't even cost that much. I instead bought two window box size liners for $7 a piece, and cut them each into two pieces rounding the corners and cutting a slit on one side from the outer edge to the middle so they could be wrapped into a round shape. Once I got these home and was cutting I had some doubts that it would work, but it totally did. 

Here's the final result, all planted up. I think it looks great; modern and clean.  

All hanging baskets should have pretty plants spilling over the side.

I decided to do two baskets of flowers and two baskets with a viney veggie. One has a cucumber and the other an acorn squash. At least they will spill over the side right? I didn't really plan this, it was more of an out-of-sunny-space-and-pots decision. I can always transfer them to bigger pots and replace them with flowers if it starts to not work out. I'm kind of anxious to see if it will. Maybe next year all edible hanging baskets? Could be fun. It looks a little sparse now, but in a few weeks the baskets should look lush and full.

Today let me encourage you to see potential.  Give something, someone, someplace a second chance. Sometimes all we need is someone to believe that with a change we can be better, and to help make us so. 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Dip

I promised the other day to share this recipe for vegan chocolate coconut dip. I found the recipe here at Chocolate Covered Katie, which is a healthy dessert blog. She has a lot of yummy looking ideas! I have to admit that hers looks even better. I have yet to get it to turn out that thick and fluffy looking, but it still tastes amazing! Since there's minimal sugar and supposedly coconut milk is the cure for everything, this is my new go-to healthy dessert. 

I've made this about six times now and while it does get thicker the longer you leave it in the fridge, I still usually end up with more of a thick dip consistency. Think summer fondue! I'm loving it over a bowl of fresh berries. I also tried stirring it into my coffee. It was good. : )

All right already here's the recipe, as I have been making it. See the link above for Kaite's version, I did make it that way a couple of times, I just also forgot a bunch of times to add the vanilla, and it was still good so you can leave it out if you want, or use alternate sweeteners as she suggests.

Chocolate Coconut Dip

1 can coconut milk (not fat free)
2 tbls. sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Pour the coconut milk into a bowl and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight (don't shake the can first). After milk has thickened (you can even strain some of the juice off to make it thicker), add cocoa powder and sugar and whisk until smooth. Return to the fridge until ready to use. Dip will continue to get a little thicker. Serve with fresh fruit, angel food cake, graham cracker sticks or anything you want to cover with this goodness. 

Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Herb Jars & Dandelions

I like flowers as much as the next girl, but I'm just as happy with a dandelion from a sweaty toddler hand or a little jar of herbs from the garden. I often use baby food jars because it doesn't take much to fill them. 

I wanted to dress up the jars a little bit so I gathered up some colored raffia and glue dots and made some happy little stripes.

Then I cut some oregano, mint and lemon balm,

and some chive blossoms and pansies. They're simple, pretty, and inexpensive.

All four of these herbs are perennial so already at this time of year there's plenty to cut for vases, or chop to cook with. I like to add some stems of mint to a pitcher of water to make refreshing mint water.
They also make a nice backdrop for dandelions. On that note, this song by Five Iron Frenzy is my favorite Mom song. Especially this part:

"Running to her beaming bright,
while cradling his prize.
A flickering of yellow light,
within his mother's eyes.
She holds them to her heart,
keeping them where they'll be safe,
clasped within her very marrow,
dandelions in a vase.

She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds.
all hope is found.
Here is everything he needs."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mother's Day Mercy

It's a rainy day here. After a busy weekend I'm kind of enjoying it. I've been doing lots of projects and taking lots of pictures, but sometimes I don't make it to the ready to post state. Oh well. 

I'm almost ready to share a new cause of the month, but before I do, I wanted to give one last shout out to the Mercy House. Kristen posted an awesome video that several organizations collaborated on to tell the story of how Mercy House came to be. It's cool. And the coolest part is this story is still being written and you can write yourself right into it. Shop Mercy. Donate. Pray. Mother's Day is just days away and these young mothers are so precious, so hopeful that their futures can be better, that their children's lives can be different. Watch the video here.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for considering Mercy House.
- Haley

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