Friday, February 27, 2015

5 Easy St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

March starts this weekend!  I feel like shouting it out in ALL CAPS and bold.  Why?  It means that old man winter’s time is limited.  February has brought a few snowstorms and I’m done.  I know all the New Englanders out there are rolling their eyes and thinking Maryland got off easy this year.  And I agree, it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the recent years have been.  But I’m the kind of girl that runs the space heater under her desk in the Summer.  Cold is best in small doses.

But before the warmth of spring can really come, we’ve got to get through March.  Even though March is a bit of a trickster with weather (it could snow, it could be in the 70s…who knows?)  the most notorious trickster of the month is always that pesky little Leprechaun that comes on March 17th.  The kids’ previous school used to have a bit of a Leprechaun problem come March, leaving shamrocks and gold pieces everywhere.  We never had much of a Leprechaun infestation, but I thought it would be fun to check out some fun (and easy) crafts and treats to celebrate the day.

Happy Hooligans Rainbow Ice Water
This rainbow ice water from Happy Hooligans is number one on my list for a reason.  It takes items you’ve probably got on hand already, only takes about 5 minutes of actual work, and looks so fun!  Plus, I’ll try just about anything to help get my kids to drink more water.Made by Marzipan Lucky Penny Letters
Aren’t these lucky penny letters from Made by Marzipan just adorable?  T just loves coins, so she would go crazy not only making this, but also admiring all those shiny penniesCarolyns Homework Vanilla Wafter Mint Cookies
I love any reason to make a sweet treat.  And Carolyn’s Homework makes these Vanilla Wafer Leprechaun Treats look so simple.  Plus, that little hint of mint would just be so refreshing after a meal, no?A Dream Crafter - Polka Dot Banner
I’ve seen this technique on at least half a dozen sharpie coffee mug tutorials.  But A Dream Crafter uses it in a fun and fresh way with a simple Polka Dot Banner perfect for St. Patrick’s DaySimply Southern Mom - Framed Shamrocks
Have pretty much no time to decorate, but want to add some festivity for the day?  Take some frames you’ve already got on hand and back them with some green scrap paper and shamrock punch-outs.  You could even make it easier by finding some foam stickers and just plopping them right on the glass.  Big impact, little effort (originally found on Simply Southern Mom)

Are you ready for winter to be over?
How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

{Update} Shared Girls Room

Shared Girls Room Loft Bed and White Dressers
I feel like this blog has been so silent lately…but real life has been busy, busy, busy!  We’re making progress every weekend with converting T’s room to a shared room for both girls.

So what have we done in here so far? 
- Fresh paint on the walls (Valspar Polar Ice…it’s the perfect shade of gray with blue undertones)
- A new loft bed!
- Two new dressers, &
- A display ledge for breakables and sentimental items that spans the length of the dressers.

Girls Shared Room Climbing Loft
The biggest change was adding a loft bed for T to sleep in…someday (here’s the one we got – don’t judge).  Most days the ladder stays in the office, because a certain little sister loves to climb up to the top.  She’s pretty good at climbing up, but getting down safely is still a bit of a challenge.  T can’t wait to start sleeping in her new bed, but I’m thinking that is probably going to wait until she starts summer break.

Until then, we let the girls use the loft as a play space.  They love to bring up magnet dolls, all their LeapPad and Leap Reader products and any coloring projects.  For the most part, they play safe – for the most part.

Girls Room Update Loft Play
Another favorite thing to do is to take a large blanket and create a tent between the loft bed and the foot of the toddler bed underneath.  I love how the L-shape configuration works so well for this, and T especially loves to have it up.  (The blanket was made by her oldest cousin, and is one of the inspirations for the room’s multi-colored palette). 

Tent Play
Tent Play2
I also made sure to leave a space for the old toddler vanity.  It was something that the Husband and I originally bought for their oldest cousin close to 8 years ago; and was gifted down to T when she turned 2.  I’m amazed that we still have all the pieces, though the “talking” part of the vanity has finally given up the ghost.  Since it no longer talks, I’m very tempted to take the time this summer to attack it with some plastic-friendly spray paint.  Any thoughts?

Toddler Vanity
As for dressers, I spent hours agonizing over what to buy.  What I really longed to do was to find an old thrifted dresser and spruce it up with some paint and fun knobs.  Unfortunately, that is an outdoor project, and winters in Maryland are just not conducive to outdoor projects. The other concern I had was size.  As I started thinking about all the clothes the kids have, I realized that a 6 drawer dresser just wasn’t going to cut it.

So we did the easy thing and got two 4-drawer Malm dressers from Ikea in white.  They look really nice as is – the clean lines allow all the other colorful items to really stand out.  But I’m determined to spruce them up somehow.  It just might take a couple months for me to figure out exactly how that’s going to happen…

Shared Girls Room Loft Bed and White Dressers2
I feel like we’re thisclose to getting the room finished, but it’s always the finishing touches that take me the longest.  Still left to do:
- Add functionality and storage to the loft area
- Find a new home for those stuffed animals
- Re-install the flower lights
- Install the corkboard wall (from the inspiration board)
- Organize hair accessories & kiddo jewelry (how does it multiply so quickly?!)
- Storage for off-season & between-size clothing
- Fun wall art.

Maybe there’s more work left than I thought….

What do you think is a must-have for a kid’s room?
Are there any projects you can’t wait to do when winter’s over?

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Friday, February 20, 2015

{Update} 10 Things that Need Fixing

Just over a year ago, I participated in a Listicles post about 10 things that needed fixing around our house. I thought it would be fun to revisit those honey-do items and see how far (or how short) we’ve come in just one year.

Here’s a short rundown of our chores:

1. Mismatched doorknobs. Once we had kids, we knew we wanted to get rid of the brass doorknobs throughout the house. Those lever knobs are too easy for kids to open…and sometimes we all need a little more privacy than a three year old wants to give.

2. Shelving: I started clearing out our mudroom years ago in the hopes that it would become a craft/creative space. Our storage needs keep eclipsing the ability to turn it into the creative space I dream of, but I haven’t given up just yet. These shelves were installed in a dead corner and provide a place for lots of odds and ends…and random holiday d├ęcor.

3. Ceiling Light: Our lower level has measly 7 foot ceilings and is partially below grade. All that equals a space that’s typically 10 degrees cooler than the upstairs. The house came with a ceiling fan and light fixture that just crowded us down. A few years ago the fan motor stopped working, and we realized that it wasn’t necessary anyway. The new light fixture provides lots more light and is much easier to walk around. Win-win!

4. Filing: Who doesn’t have too much filing that needs to be done? We had five bankers boxes of files to go through. Thankfully they’re done, but we still have another two banker’s boxes of shredding to do. Yuck.

5. Front Doorknob: We were bad homeowners and didn’t immediately change the lock that came with the house. And since it was installed upside down, it was confusing for everyone to open. With the hardware out, I took advantage of the opportunity to give the door a fun red paint job. It’s made a huge difference with our curb appeal.

6. Storage: Ugh. Storage has been a bear with our house – especially when parents keep giving us their old stuff that’s got too many memories to get rid of. This corner used to hold the kids’ unused jumparoo and walking toys. Those have been put away for another time, but now we still need to figure out where to put this painting done by my FIL and a couple other items.

7. Unpainted ceiling: We had a leak above our downstairs shower, which resulted in new drywall. Every time I think about repainting the ceiling, I realize that means we’ll also have to repaint the walls. But we want to replace the vanity…and maybe get a new shower installed. So I think I’m just hoping the husband finds some time (when?!) to put up some primer until we can complete a whole bathroom reno!

8. Hand Weights: These always used to get just thrown on the hallway floor in the mudroom, right behind the baby gate. I was able to build a storage table a while back that had the perfect little cubby to hold my weights. Unfortunately, now I need to get heavier weights….where to put those?

9. Messy corner: The original mess was cleaned up for a little bit after the shelves got installed. But then a couple paint projects and some outdoor toys got dumped there, just waiting for warmer weather so we actually feel like taking them to our detached garage.

10. Faulty light switches: There are six light switches in our house that currently do nothing. The one pictured used to work, until another electrician came in and somehow cut it off. The Husband is pretty good with electronics, but the wiring behind this baby is apparently too complicated for his comfort level. It looks like we’re going to have to hire an electrician sometime this summer!

Now I want to know…

Do you have unfinished projects around your house?
What’s the biggest unfinished project you’ve got to get done?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

8 Healthy Meatless Meals

Today is Ash Wednesday.  The official start to Lent.  It’s also a day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics.  For those that don’t know, fasting refers to the sacrificial practice of most adults being limited to one regular sized meal for the day and two smaller ‘snacks’ that can’t equal a meal together.  We also practice abstinence from meat products (beef, pork, poultry). 

Finding a variety of healthy and tasty meatless meals is always a challenge for our family.  Let’s face it, Friday nights are tired nights…after 5 days of getting up early and staying up late, I’m ready to go home and go to bed.  Sure, it would be easy to just turn Lenten Fridays into pasta nights, but that gets old fast, and it’s really not healthy on so regular a basis.

So, in honor of Ash Wednesday, and the next seven Fridays, I’ve pulled together 8 healthy recipes that I’d love to try this Lenten season.

1.  Asiago White Beans with Farro, Kale and Tomatoes – From
Pinch of Yum
Pinch of Yum - Farro
Mmmmm.  I love farro, and this meal should be hearty enough for the Husband with the white beans.  I just hope I could get the beans and kale past both kids.

2.  Kale and Quinoa Minestrone – from
Cooking Classy

Cooking Classy - Kale and Quinoa Minestrone
There’s nothing like hot soup on a cold winter night.  And I don’t see winter ending anytime soon here on the East Coast.  This very well may show up at our dinner table by early March.

3.  Eggs with Chickpeas, Spinach and Tomato – from

My kids love eggs.  No, seriously.  We’re the family with two gallons of milk and nearly three dozen eggs in our fridge on most weeks.  They’re just such a versatile and inexpensive source of protein. 

4.  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Mexican Salad – from Two Peas & Their Pod

Two Peas and Their Pod - Sweet Potato Mexican Salad
I love how pretty this salad is…and that it’s served with every ingredient in it’s own separate section.  No way can my picky kids complain about this meal!

5. Winter Vegetable Dal – from
Eating Well

Eating Well - Vegetable Dal
The Husband’s fell in love with Indian food at his last job.  Every Lent since then he’s asked for me to make Dal.  This recipe looks really tasty, and like a fun break from our normal flavors.

6.  White Bean Burgers – from
Big Girls Small Kitchens

Big Girls Small Kitchen - White Bean Burgers
I don’t typically like vegetarian burgers (you just can’t get a firm patty with vegetables), but the eggplant spread that goes with this burger is intriguing!

7.  Sweet Potato Black Bean Casserole – from
Hungry Healthy Girl

Hungry Healthy Girl - Sweet Potato Black Bean Casserole
Some nights you just need to be able to shove a casserole in the oven and relax while dinner’s cooking.  I don’t think anybody in my family loves sweet potatoes as much as I do, so this would definitely be a meal for me!

8.  Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa, Corn and Green Chiles – from

We love to grill whole tomatoes in the summertime.  Obviously that won’t work as well in the winter, but baking the tomatoes with Quinoa could be a fantastic way to get a good bit of protein straight from a vegetarian meal.  And just think of all the delicious things you could do with the leftovers!

Do you have any favorite meatless recipes?

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