Burlap Dry Erase Board

During my big office shuffle, I also decided to redo my dry erase board.  I had a very pretty brown and cream toile in it, but unless the ink was very black, it didn’t show really well.  And since my seven kids can’t seem to keep their grubby little paws off my stuff, my markers seem to disappear, then reappear almost dried out.  So I took out my scrap of burlap I had left over from a project and it was the exact size I needed.  I love it when stuff works out like that!  I didn’t even bother taking out the old material, I just recovered it with the burlap.  And now, I can see what I write.  The glass in this big picture frame is the perfect dry erase material.  It doesn’t ghost like traditional dry erase stuff and it can be customized to your decor.

Here area  few more that I loved.  These are a little more customized than mine, but for where this one is,  I just needed a big writing surface for all these brilliant blogging ideas I come up with.  Yes, this is why it’s almost blank.

Menu Board

I have a menu board very similar to this one.  I love it and use it every week.  My kids have this weird habit of asking what’s for dinner four times a day.  Seven kids times four times equals a big headache from the math.  My menu board has eliminated this little problem.  The asking.  Not the headaches from math.

Calendar

This one, I’m seriously in love with.  I have a big calendar broken down my hours and it is the brain our our family.  I can’t function without a calendar.  I might try to find a second frame to match mine and try to copy this one for my office.  I’m in organizational OCD love with this baby.

This one was super cute and allows you to separate the days.  I would love something like this in our girls’ bedroom.  I think it would be helpful for them to organize their week in a very visible way.

Why have one of those count down things for just christmas?  For my preschooler, I make paper chains and let her tear off a ring every morning.  It’s a very visible way to see how close we are getting to a vacation or birthday.  This would be better for my older kids who want to keep track, but are a little too old for our paper chain.

This was a cute calendar using paint chips you find at the hardware store.  Very easy to customize to your colors.

I love, love, love this one.  I always have these grand plans for summer, but we never seem to have any ideas when the day comes.  I think this would be terrific to make with the girls.

The moral of this story?  NEVER EVER throw away an old picture frame!  You can make a quick dry erase board for any spot in your house.

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Peppermint Popcorn

popcorn-copy

I’m going to post a month of homemade Christmas ideas, so I’m getting an early start.  I’m not sure I can do 31 posts in 31 days, so I’m cutting myself a little slack.  I plan to post gift ideas, decorating ideas and my favorite holiday recipes.

This idea is so yummy.  My kids have eaten almost half of it already and it made a really gigantic batch.  Even for my oversized family.

 I started by popping about 20 cups of popcorn.  I made it on the stove top because I didn’t want to use those microwave bags.  They are really buttery tasting and I didn’t really want that mingling with my peppermint.  I might splurge and get myself one of those air poppers so the kids can make it themselves without all the oil and preservatives.  Plus it’s cheaper this way.  I used half a bag that cost me 80 cents.

 I took half a box of peppermint candy canes and unwrapped them and put them in my mini chopper.

 Beware.  It’s really loud and sounds like glass breaking.  I wanted it fairly small, but if you want your peppermint a little chunky, then go for it.

 I melted a few squares of white chocolate bark in my microwave and mixed in the crushed peppermint.  DO NOT put the crushed peppermint in the bowl when you microwave the chocolate.  You will get a giant glob of peppermint that takes a day to soak out of your glass bowl.

No, I wouldn’t do anything that stupid.  Why do you ask?

 I poured the popcorn out onto two big sheet pans lined with parchment to make clean up easier.  I used a spoon and just drizzled the chocolate peppermint all over it.

 Yummy!  But to me, it just looked a little bland.  It tasted heavenly, but you couldn’t really see it because the white on white just blended in.

so…….

 I decided to grab two blocks of chocolate bark and melt that also.  Then I drizzled it over the top.

Now that is gorgeous.  And more chocolate just makes everything better.  While the chocolate is still melted, you can add more peppermint.  Wait for it to dry, then break it apart.  It will keep for a couple of days in a well sealed container.  Or two days because your heathens eat it all.

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Mildred and Dumplings

I got tired of not being able to go into my chicken yard without a weapon.

Plus, we got some new girls.  To replace the ones the coons got.  And they are pullets, still five weeks from laying.  Big ole Mildred would have killed them for invading her space.  So Mildred had to go.

Mildred and Dumplings was delicious.

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Mason Jar Pendant

I have a new drop down pendant light over my kitchen sink.

And it was love at first sight.

This is what it used to look like.  Just a plain can light in the ceiling.

The best part was, there was no rewiring involved.  I put this up in about five minutes.  You unscrew the lightbulb and an adaptor screws right in and voila, instant hanging light.  They had several light shades to choose from, but I wanted to use my antique blue ball jar.  I didn’t want to drill a hole through the zinc lid, so I used a regular lid.  I drilled a hole right through the top and screwed the bulb and adaptor on.  Now when I need to change the lightbulb, all I have to do is unscrew the jar from the lid.

I’m in lighting love!

I need to scrub out the jar again.  Do you know how hard it is to get 80 year old grime out of a jar?  I don’t even want to know what it is either.

Here were a few more I found that I loved, but some of these require electrical skills I don’t currently possess, so I’ll just go with the $20 light kit from Lowes.

This would be super cute in a rustic bathroom.

This would be really cute on my new patio!

Not sure the husband would love this one, but I sure do.

And I saved the best for last. I will be doing this immediately!

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Mason Jar Solar Lights

After seeing that photo of the mason jar solar lights, I knew I really wanted to try it.  And two days ago, I go into our local dollar store than they have solar yard lights for only $1 each.  I knew it was meant to be.  I bought four to try.  I probably should have only bought one to try, but I was a little overzealous.

The results?

It was meant to be.  Like Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I took off the plastic stake that the solar light was on.  At first, I just tried to put the solar light into the jar, but the jar wasn’t wide enough.  So I grabbed a ring and then it fit perfectly.

This way, I can glue the solar light to the ring and not the jar.  If for some reason I ever want to use the jars again, I can.  I’ve only lost the ring, which can be unscrewed.

Time to head back to the dollar store for a dozen more.

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Food and Wine. And wine. And wine.

A few weeks ago, some friends and I went to the Austin Food and Wine Festival.  Because we are very important people.  Or, we know some very important people.  Whatever you choose to believe.

We started out our day with a very informative tequila class.  They discussed the merits of different tequilas and the many different salts that can accompany them.  And yes, there were samples.

Maybe we should have eaten first…….

There were lots of famous tv chefs to meet and mingle with.  And let sign your boobs.

 Andrew Zimmern of Bizzare Foods was more than happy to oblige.

I’m not sure who was happier about the boob signing, me or Andrew.  Because we are on a first name basis now.

This dude was pretty bummed he couldn’t sign my boobs.  I didn’t have the marker anymore, or I would have let him.  Maybe then I would remember his name.  Sorry Mr. TV chef.

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Custom Chalk Board Paint

chalkboard-wall

I need a space to jot down groceries that we need.  A large space.

a very large space.

So I painted one whole wall of my pantry.

First I lined my paint tray with foil so it would be super easy to clean up.  This way I don’t have to buy disposable trays, I just line them and toss the used foil.

I bought some cheap paint that someone returned to the store.  It was the perfect shade for my project.  You can also custom mix the paint.  If you do this, make it a tad darker than you think because when you mix the non-sanded grout in, it lightens it just a little bit.  For every cup of paint you use, add two tablespoons of non-sanded grout and stir well.

Then stir some more.  No way did you stir it well enough already.

Then just roll it on like normal paint.  I taped off the outer lines and it didn’t bleed to terribly bad.  I should have burnished it more, but since it’s a pantry, I wasn’t going all OCD on it.

I put my leftover paint into a clean used spice container.  This way, when (not if!) I need to touch up, it’s quick and easy.  Before you write on it, let it dry for 24-48 hours, then rub chalk over the entire surface.  It preps the surface so you don’t have ghosting that is really hard to remove.

And voila!  A very large chalkboard for my very large family.

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Carrot Cake Jam

carrot-cake-jam-copy

So I decided to make a big batch of carrot cake jam.  It’s actually difficult to make a small batch.  Plus, some people feel like canning is a big ole pain in the butt, so making a big batch and putting several jars up to keep is definitely the way to go.

I love carrot cake.  You know that saying, I love you like a fat girl loves cake.  Well, this girl loves carrot cake that much.  So now, I can have carrot cake without making the cake.  And it’s making this fat girl happy.  Fat and happy.

Start off by grating the carrots.  On the fine side.  Yes, it will take a while.  Unless you have a fancy food processor that someone who will remain unnamed loses the attachment to make it grate the carrots for you.

It ends up more like carrot mush.  But in this case, mush is good.

Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots

1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped pears

1 can (14 oz) crushed pineapple, undrained

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 package dry fruit pectin

6 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cups chopped toasted pecans (optional) (it’s not really optional, I was just being nice)

Combine carrots, pears, pineapple (including the juice),

lemon juice and spices in a large, deep stainless steel

saucepan. Stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil;

cover and reduce heat. Boil gently 20 minutes, stirring

occasionally. Measure sugar; set aside.

Whisk pectin into carrot mixture until dissolved. Stirring

frequently, bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar.

Stirring constantly, return mixture to a full rolling boil;

boil hard 1 minute. Stir in pecans. Remove from heat;

skim foam. Ladle into hot jar to within 1/4 inch of top

rim. Remove air bubbles by tapping the jar gently. Wipe

the rim to make sure you get a good seal and then put on lid and ring.

Hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Voila, manna from heaven.

It made five jars.  One of them didn’t seal, so I opened it back up and ate copious amounts.  Then I made some toast so that I didn’t look foolish eating by the spoon.  Once you open them, you need to keep them in the fridge.  The ones that seal will keep for a months in the top of your pantry.

Haha.  As if they will stick around for months.

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Hunting Season

We have officially entered hunting season.  My crazy life goes from football season straight into hunting season.  The only good thing is that I don’t hunt, so it doesn’t directly involve me.  Although, I don’t play football either and that seems to involve me quite heavily, so I’m not sure how the logic works.  Anyway, during hunting season, the husband and boys go away for whole weekends, leaving me and the girls to ourselves.  With total control of the remote.

Yes, it is my version of heaven.

There are some weekends when we all go.  We always manage to have fun spending time outdoors.

no, I’m not a bad driver.  The roads were bumpy.

I swear.

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Hanging Christmas Stockings the Easy Way

Our mantle is made of stone.  This makes stocking hanging nearly impossible.  When I had a wooden mantle, I put cup hooks in the underside and hung the stocks from those.

I used plastic command hooks also and that worked well, but didn’t look so hot.

So I went in the garage (otherwise known as hoarder hell) and found a scrap piece of wood, some old stain and a package of drawer pulls that never got used.

Yep, this project cost me zero dollars.  My husband had everything in the garage.  Even if you had to buy every single item, you should be able to keep it under 20 bucks.  You can buy single knobs in a hardware store, or packs of multiple knobs.  I wanted small knobs because that’s not what I wanted the focus on.  These very small silver knobs from Ikea worked perfectly.

I stained the wood, then measured where I wanted all the knobs.  This was the hardest part because we have seven kids, thus seven stockings and numbers hurt my head.  Once the stain was dry and the knobs installed, I just laid the wood on the mantle and hung up the stockings.  I will not leave them hung up after they are full because I don’t think it will support the weight of seven full stockings.

I made all new stockings last year for the kids.  I was tired of mis matched stockings that we had collected over the years.  I used an old matlasse coverlet that we no longer used.  The pretty scalloped edge worked really nicely for the stocking cuffs.  I used my embroidery machine to add the names, then assembled the stockings.  Last years mismatched stockings hung with plastic hooks is now a super cute, coordinated mantle.  And that also cost me zero dollars.  Spending zero dollars at Christmas time when you have seven kids to shop for is a good thing!

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