Friday, October 28, 2011

Pinterest Friday

Yay! It's Pinterest Friday again!  I actually managed to get a bunch of things done this week that I found on Pinterest.  Then again, I forced myself to stay away from Pinterest itself!  (I usually am on Pinterest from the time Olive goes to bed until the time I go to bed, which is often entirely too late!)  I really can get a lot of stuff done when I get off the darn computer!

Click on the picture caption to link to the original Pinterest Pin:

Homemade Dryer Sheets
This is actually the second time I've done this.  I just took pictures this time!  I love this because: 1) It's economical - Disposable dryer sheets are so expensive and are, well, disposable and 2) It's eco-friendly - they can be reused forever.  Plus, they are a cinch to make.  Here's how:

Step 1: Gather your materials: fabric squares, bowl, liquid fabric softener.  
Fabric squares:  I took a couple of my daughter's old receiving blankets and cut them into squares (about washcloth size).   As you can see, it's a pretty rough cut and they are already fraying.  In retrospect, washcloths would have been a better choice and you can find packs of them pretty cheap at the Dollar Store.  Other choices could be dishcloths, cloth diapers, burp cloths, etc.
Step 2:  Put a few cloths into the bowl and pour some fabric softener inside. Squeeze the fabric to make sure that it is fully saturated.
Step 3:  Place wet, rung out fabric in a container and set aside.  Continue soaking and ringing out the rest of your fabric squares.
Step 4:  Hang your fabric squares to air dry.  
Step 5:  When your homemade dryer sheets are completely dry, fold in half and place in a lidded container.  I have two containers, one for NEW dryer sheets and one for USED dryer sheets.  As I use the dryer sheets, they get place in the USED container.

NOTE:  The dryer sheets I made last about 2 dryer loads, because they are pretty thin fabric.  If you used a thicker fabric, such as a washcloth, I would imagine it would last about 6 loads, a cloth diaper about 20 loads.  If you're not sure, just smell the dryer sheet after each use.  When it starts to lose it's fabric softener smell, it's time to put in the USED box.

When all your dryer sheets are in the used box, make them again - soak, wring, dry, ready!  This is the second time making them for me.  I plan to do it one more time and then throw them in the washing machine and dryer to refresh them a little before I remake them.  Also, I use these dryer sheets with my homemade laundry soap, which I'll post about the next time I make it!

Unfortunately, I didn't get around to taking pictures of everything else I did this week, but here are some of the other pins that I managed to complete this week.  Click on the picture captions to link to the original pin from Pinterest.

Sensory Smelling Cards

Puff Ball Push-In
Colored Ice for Bathtime
Melting Crayons into New Shapes

I hope you have a pinteresting Friday and have fun pinning!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mobile Craft Cart

My family is currently living with my mom and stepdad in their house for financial reasons.  That means that there are 4 adults, 1 toddler, 4 cats, and 1 dog in a 3 bedroom (plus office) home.  Needless to say, space is limited.   My dream is to have a room of my own wear I can craft in and do art activities with my daughter.  Since that's not possible right now, I'm finding ways to improvise.  Since I've become a stay-at-home-mom, my craft/art supplies have been growing with no space to put them!  I have two plastic 3-drawer thingies, but that's just not enough.  So...

My husband came home with this the other day from work.

It was $23 on clearance down from $125.  It was a deal he couldn't pass up (this is not the first "deal" he's come home with!).  He said, "I thought you could use it for your crafting."  I love him, and I loved that idea, but this cart, which looks like it was meant to be a janitorial cart, needed some sprucing up.  Here's what I did with a $5 roll of contact paper from Target.

Better, right?  I like it.  I makes me happy to look at!  I love how you can take a simple product like contact paper and really transform something.

Here's my cart loaded up:
The bottom has a mix of my stuff (sewing, spray paint, current crafts) and some of Olive's things.
The top is all Olive: fine motor skills activities in the tub, chalk, crayons, paper, etc.
I got this roll of paper at Ikea awhile back for super cheap.  I decided to use some yarn to attach it to the handle of the cart.  Now I can easily rip off a piece when Olive wants to color!

I love my new cart!  It works perfect for me.  No, it's not a plush craft/art room with bright windows and big table in the middle and shelving all along the walls.  But it will be one day!  For now, I'm going to push my cart into the living room and do some coloring with my daughter!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chalk - It's a Messy Business!

Never underestimate the power of a piece of chalk.  Setup is easy and the only extra material you need is a slab of concrete.  Olive loves chalk.  Well, she loves watching it get all over her clothes at least.  We're still trying to get her to stop putting it in her mouth, but for the most part, she keeps in on the concrete!  Thought I'd share our last chalk time.  (Keep in mind, most of the drawings are mine but Olive has a few scribbles here and there!)
Everything you need: chalk and concrete!
"Ti tat! Ti tat!"  I drew a kitty cat, which she loves. :) 
My little artist's drawings.  She's so advanced, right? :)
Adding some final touches.
Getting down & dirty.
Chalk - It's a messy business!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pinterest Fridays - The First One!

For those of you who don't know, Pinterest is pretty much the most amazing website ever.  With the exception of this blog, of course!  I'm pretty much obsessed with it.  If you haven't checked it out, you need to.  If you want to get started, check out the things that I've pinned (you can follow the Pinterest link on the right).  The problem is, I end up spending so much time online that I don't actually end up doing any of the awesome things I've pinned.  So, I decided that every Friday is going to be Pinterest Friday.  I'll blog about the things I've done that week that I found originally on Pinterest.  I'll provide pictures and links to the original pin from Pinterest and then show/tell you what I did in my own "pinteresting" life. :)  So without further adieu...

This week on Pinterest (click on the picture captions to link to the Pinterest pin):

Original Pin:  DIY Dishwasher Tune-Up

DIY Dishwasher Tune-UP:  I have to say, I was so excited to do this!  Our dishwasher hasn't been cleaning very well recently.  I did all 4 steps in this DIY blog post and was amazed to find out how much gunk was lurking in my dishwasher filter.  It was pretty gross.  I found paper, hair, even broken glass.  My first load after cleaning the filters was so much better!  I plan on following this dishwasher tune-up once a month.

Original Pin: Halloween Candle Display
Halloween Candle Display:  I thought this was just such a cute, inexpensive way to decorate for Halloween.  I bought some glass containers at the Dollar Store for, you guessed it, $1.00 each.  Then I bought some candy corn at the grocery store.  We already had some white candles at home.  Set up was a cinch and the candles look so cute all lit up on our kitchen table!  Hmmm...It seems like the level of candy corns keeps getting lower...very interesting... :)

Here's what I did.  I think it turned out pretty cute!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yummy Breakfast Casserole

We had a garage sale this morning.  I know, yuck.  I hate garage sales.  But, the silver lining is that now I have a child, I get to stay in the house and watch her instead of haggle sales out on the lawn.  Yay!  So, I thought I'd be nice and cook up some breakfast for my hardworking family.  I found this original recipe here while searching for something to make for a brunch get-together the week before.  I really like this recipe because it can be altered so many ways to fit your own tastes.  Instead of sausage, you could use bacon or ham, or all 3!  Green onions instead of sweet white.  Add some bell pepper or jalapeno for a little spice.  Whatever you like!  Also, the measurements are approximate.  It will still turn out delicious if you want a little less (or more) cheese or if you want to add more eggs.  The possibilities are endless.  Play around with it and find the way you like it.  Okay, enough talk...Here it is:

1 package breakfast sausage links (8 links)
6 eggs
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 cups shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, Swiss, or jack cheese

Cook sausage.  Set aside on paper towels to drain.

Beat eggs in a small bowl.  

In a large bowl, add onion, hash browns, and all cheeses.  Some people don't like cottage cheese.  I personally love it.  Either way, don't worry.  You won't be able to pick out that individual flavor once everything is said and done!

Chop up cooked sausage.  Mmmmm....sausage.

Add eggs and sausage to hash brown mix and mix together thoroughly.

Grease 9x14 dish with butter.  Spread mixture evenly in dish.  Don't try to eat it now.  I know you want to!

Bake in oven at 375F for 35 - 40 minutes (more or less depending on the size dish you used).  When the top gets a little crispy and starts to brown and bubble, you should be good to go!  I couldn't snap a picture before everyone wanted to start digging in!

Like I said, this dish is so simple and delicious and can really be varied.  It's definitely a keeper!  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Month of Dinners - Day...Who Knows?

So, since Olive has been sick, the cooking in my household has not really been the focus.  It's been mostly frozen pizza and boxed macaroni & cheese - anything quick and easy.  But yesterday, Olive was feeling a little better so I was able to actually cook a real meal.  I got this recipe yesterday while sitting in Olive's doctor's office.  I was browsing the Highlights magazine and came across the recipe.  Yes, you read that right, the Highlights magazine.  In the end, I didn't really like how the meal turned out.  I think it was the goat cheese.  It has a weird, tangy taste.  Maybe next time I'll try using feta.  However, my mom, step dad and husband all liked it, so I guess different taste buds, different tastes.  Anyhow, here's the recipe for you to give it a try if you like!:

Creamy Pasta with Veggie & Bean Medley

1 package small shell pasta (I used orichiette)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups peas
2 cups corn
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled (more or less to your liking)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Cook pasta until it is al dente.  Set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, mix tomatoes, beans, peas & corn in a large bowl.
  3. Add warm pasta.  Mix in cheese.  Pasta will warm cheese and melt it to make it creamy.  
  4. Add vinegar and oil.  Mix thoroughly and serve!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sick Baby = No Fun!

I haven't posted in a while because we've had a rough couple days.  Saturday morning, one of my cats, Kiwi, bit my daughter Olive on the back of the head.  He's usually pretty tolerant of her, but she must have stepped on his paw or something.  Saturday night, we were getting ready for bedtime and Olive slipped and hit her head on metal leg of the kitchen table.  She got a HUGE knot on her forehead.  Dada and I were pretty worried and needless to say, she was crying nonstop.  Here's the bump today.  Still yucky looking but with a lot less swelling.

So that was Saturday.  Then Sunday she woke up and seemed okay.  We went to a kite festival down by the beach.  Olive had fun running around and looking at the kites.  We went home and she started acting sick.  By Sunday night, she had thrown up twice and was acting really groggy.  You could tell that every time she swallowed she was in pain.  We took her to the doctor Monday morning and, thank goodness, she didn't have strep throat, but a really bad virus and her throat was bright red.  She's doing a little better today, but still barely wants to eat and will only drink a little.  The one thing that she's not turning down in popsicles.  And my poor little baby can have as many popsicles as she wants!  I came across these popsicles at Target while looking for things she might want.  They are my new favorite thing!  I love that they are so small and a perfect size for a little toddler.  Plus, Olive loves them.  She's eaten about 15 of them since I bought them yesterday afternoon.

Olive enjoying a popsicle for her sore throat with Dada.

Mighty Minis - The perfect size popsicle!

This is my hand.  See how small they are?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Month of Dinners Challenge - Day 3

Tonight's dinner was chimichangas!  I made it just because I like to say...chimichanga!  Say it out loud - I'm sure you'll think it's fun, too!  Olive was a good girl while Mama cooked.  She doesn't watch a lot of TV, but I put on Veggie Tales for her to watch.  She was pretty mesmerized, which really helped me get dinner ready!  Here's my new Veggie Tales tune..."Broccoli!  Celery!  Gotta be....Chimichangas!" :)

Chicken Chimichanga with Avocado Salsa

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 jars of your favorite salsa
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 bunch green onions, diced
12" flour tortillas
2 avocados
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped


  1. Add chicken, carrots, celery, garlic and onion to a large pot.  Cover with water.  Boil on the stove at medium heat for 45 -60 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken and set aside.  Discard stock (or save for later use).  When chicken is cool enough to handle, use 2 forks to shred.
  2. Place shredded chicken in a large bowl.  Add 1 1/2 jars of the salsa (or as much to your liking), cheese, and green onions.  Mix well.
  3. Lay a tortilla on a cutting board.  Add desired amount of chicken filling (however much you want one serving to be.  You can make it big or small!).  Fold over edges and place seam side down on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Repeat using the other tortillas until all the filling is gone.  (I got about 5 chimichangas out of it).  
  4. Spread a little butter on top of chimichangas.  Bake at 400F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.  
  5. Meanwhile, mix the avocado with remaining 1/2 jar of salsa.  When chimichangas are done, spoon avocado mix on top and serve hot!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Month of Dinners Challenge - Day 2

It was a rainy day today, which was nice for a change!  It felt like a soup day, so using some things around the house and a few things from the store, I whipped up a delicious soup and sandwich meal.  My family loved it and although most of it ended up on her shirt, my daughter Olive loved it, too!

Potato, Leek & Fennel Soup
2 cups fennel, sliced
2 cups leeks, sliced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 cups broth, vegetable or chicken
salt and pepper
olive oil

  1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pot.  Saute fennel and leeks until they start to soften, about 10 minutes.  
  2. Add potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Using a hand immersion blender, puree soup in the pot until it is creamy.  (If you don't own a hand immersion blender, you can puree the soup in batches in a blender.)
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot!
Mozzarella, Pesto & Tomato Panini
Ingredients (for 4 sandwiches)
1 loaf french bread
1 cup pesto (store bought or homemade - I used Buitoni Basil Pesto)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
mozzarella ball (get the whole fat - it's worth it!)
olive oil

  1. Slice bread about 1" thick.  Brush olive oil on one side.
  2. Spread about 1/4 cup pesto on dry side of bread.
  3. Layer tomatoes on top of pesto.  Slice mozzarella into 1/2" slices.  Layer mozzarella on top of tomatoes.
  4. Place slice of bread on top and brush olive oil on outside of sandwich.
  5. Put sandwich in a panini press and cook till golden brown.  OR... Put sandwich in a grill pan and put a heavy pan on top (use something heavy to push it down).  When one side is golden brown, flip over and toast the other side.  
  6. When bread is golden brown and cheese is melty, you're good to go!  Serve warm and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Month of Dinners Challenge - Day 1

For the first day of my challenge, I decided just to use up some things around the kitchen that were going to go bad.  I think I created a pretty good dish not following any recipe.  And most importantly, my family liked it, too!  Here's what I came up with:

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Tomatoes
1/2 box spaghetti
5 cups Brussels sprouts
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup white wine
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Chop bottoms off of Brussels sprouts and remove any yucky outer leaves.  Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Mix with your hands.  Roast in oven at 350F for about 20 minutes, or until outer leaves begin to blacken.  (The leaves aren't burning - they are roasting and taking on a nice, sweet flavor.)
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente.  Set aside.
  3. In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt butter and add onion and garlic until soft.  Add cooked Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and wine.  Cook over medium low heat until wine begins to reduce.  Add pasta and toss to mix with Brussels sprout mixture.  Add Parmesan cheese and remove from heat.
  4. Place mixture onto plates and serve warm!  Serves 4.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Month of Dinners Cooking Challenge

I love cooking good food and trying out new recipes, but lately I've become really lazy about cooking dinner.  I used to cook dinner every night and enjoyed developing my recipes.  However, we've been living with my parents to save some money and my cooking has kind of gone to the wayside.  My mom gets home from work and gets started on dinner before I even have time to think about what I would cook.  I'm not complaining.  I get to spend more time with my daughter and don't have to worry about getting to the store and planning a meal.  It's been pretty nice!  But, we won't be living with my parents forever.  At some point, I'm going to have to start cooking full-time again.  (My husband loves to cook, too, but since he works overnights, he is asleep until about 6pm.)

So, I thought that I could start a Dinner Cooking Challenge for myself.  I am challenging myself to cook dinner every night for the next month, until the end of October.  This means that I am going to have to be vigilant about meal planning and grocery shopping.  I'll have to make sure that when dinner time rolls around that I am prepared, organized, and ready to cook.  Most importantly, I'm going to have to find ways to keep my daughter occupied by herself while I cook.  I can see our gated-off living room directly for the kitchen, so that's not a problem, but Olive usually hates it when I'm in the kitchen and she's not.  She'll stand at the gate and scream at me until I come out.  So, I'll have to figure out a way for her to stay happy.
This face and the crying that comes with it is not fun.  Must figure out a way to keep her happy while I cook!

I'm a little nervous about this challenge, but I think it will be good for me in the end.  I'll be posting what I make each day as proof that I met my goal for the day.  Wish me luck - I'm starting tomorrow!