Saturday, November 17, 2012

North Pole Surprise - Snowman I Spy Shaker

This holiday season I wanted to create something special for a certain special three year old little boy in my life.  Every week before Christmas I plan on mailing him a "special surprise" present from the North Pole.  I thought and thought about the types of items to send him and I think I have come up with a few cute and cheap homemade gifts that he will enjoy.  

This is the first in my four part series "North Pole Surprise".


You have probably seen the Find It Shakers in your local stores and this homemade version follows the same idea...only with a Winter Wonderland theme.  

What you will need:

A plastic peanut jar
Black and white paint
Paintbrush or paint sponge (not pictured)
Dixie Cup
White yarn
White sand
Small funnel 
Hot glue and hot glue gun
Assorted miniature Christmas themed trinkets (pictured below)
Wide Green or Red ribbon (not pictured) 
Green or Red curling ribbon (not pictured)
Orange paint or orange construction paper (not pictured)
Computer copy paper (not pictured)

Step 1:
Clean out the peanut jar and remove label and all glue.

Step 2:  
Remove the lid and set aside.  Paint the top of the jar with white paint.  Let dry.

Step 3:
Take a dixie cup and cut it in half.  Paint the peanut jar lid black as well as the dixie cup.  Let dry.  Once dry hot glue the dixie cup to the top of the lid.  Then hot glue some wide ribbon around the base like below:

Step 4:
Organize your miniature Christmas themed trinkets and have them close where you can add them as you are adding the sand and glitter.  I bought the trinkets at a hobby store but you can also find a lot of items in your Christmas decorations that you pull out each holiday season.   For example, a poinsettia flower, bell, or acorn off a Christmas wreath. For the hat I got a Monopoly game piece and painted it black.  Take a picture of the items for later and edit it on your computer so you can print it out later.

Step 5:
Using a small funnel, start pouring the sand about 1/4 the way up.  Then shake some glitter into it to give the sand a more snow effect.  (You can also use sugar if you do not want to use white sand).  Take a couple of your trinkets and drop them in the jar.  Take your sand again and pour another 1/4 way up.  Repeat all steps until you get to section you painted.  Do not fill it up to the top of the jar because you need room for the sand to move in order to find the hidden treasures.

Step 6:
Put the snowman hat (jar lid) back onto the snowman head (the jar).  Take your black paint and paint two black coal eyes, a black coal mouth onto the snowman face and three buttons down the front of the jar.  Also paint snowman arms on the sides of the jar.  Then take your orange paint (or construction paper) and make the snowman nose.  Let dry.

Step 7: (optional)
Meanwhile take white yarn and start crocheting the snowman scarf.  If you do not want to do this step you can use any type of ribbon to make the scarf.  

Step 8:
Put the scarf on around the jar below the snowman head and tie together where the scarf meets.  

Step 9:
Upload the picture you took of the trinkets and print it on your computer.  (I inserted the picture into Word and adjusted the size down and printed it out on the printer copy paper.  I then cut it out, cut a hole in the upper right side.  Thread your curling ribbon through the hole and through the left side of the scarf.  This picture can serve as a "find it list".  

I SUCCEED... creating a one of a kind, inexpensive item to gift to what is sure to be a very excited three year old! 

Christmas Treasures!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fiesta Lasagna

New Recipe Challenge

You know, there comes a time in a woman's life where; no matter how much she loathes to do so, she must come up with something a little different in respect to dinner for the family.  Not so different that picky eaters in her home will turn their noses up at even the thought of something like that, yet not the same thing over and over again where the woman can't stand to even buy or make that dinner again. 

This leads me to...


Burritos and tacos are a one stop shop, easy and pleasing meal that my family eats once every few weeks.  At first, it was such a novelty to have burrito and taco night.  Sometimes I would assemble all the food on each plate while other times I would let it be a "build your own burrito / taco" night. 

Today I knew it was that time that my husband and boys were wanting their old standby but in my heart I just could not get myself to do the same old thing.  I thought about it all day and tried to change their mind by suggesting lasagna or some kind of casserole or....wait...THAT'S IT!  I'll make a casserole/lasagna hybrid, but Mexican style twist.

I did a quick Google search for the words "mexican lasagna casserole" and a ton of recipes came up in my search results.   The only problem was that all the recipes called for lasagna noodles.  That just will not do.  If this is going to be a mexican themed dish then lasagna noodles would not work for me.  I truly wanted to go with tortillas and I felt I could make it work.  Taco shells were just not going to happen for me due to the crunch factor in lasagna/casserole dish; it's good in a cold taco dip but not a heated up dish.

"I can do this.  I should substitute lasagna items for items I use when I make burritos and tacos." 

(My one concern was the use of tortillas and my worry they would become too soggy to hold up to the weight of the layers).

So here we go....


Ingredients (ground beef not pictured)

  • 6 Large Flour Tortillas
  • 31 oz can of Refried Beans
  • 12 oz White Rice
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tbls Adobo powder
  • 2 tbls Butter
  • 3 1/4 lb Lean Ground Beef
  • 6 oz bottle of Taco Sauce
  • 3 tbls Taco Seasoning
  • 8 oz Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
  • 4 slices of Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese
How to Make
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Ground the beef, drain and pour the bottle of taco sauce and 3 tbls of taco seasoning in the beef mixture and simmer. 
  3. Cook the white rice according to instructions.  Then drain and squeeze the juice from a whole lime in it, 2 tbls of the butter and 3 tbls of the Adobo powder.  Mix well.
  4. In a 9x13 pan - line the bottom with three of the tortillas folding each one over once.  Like above.
  5. Take half of the refried beans and spoon on top of the tortillas.
  6. Take half of the lime rice mixture and spoon on top of the beans.
  7. Talk half of the ground beef mixture and spoon on top of the rice.
  8. On top of the ground beef mixture put the four slices of jalapeno cheddar cheese on top along with 1/4 of the shredded Mexican cheese blend.
  9. Repeat steps 4 - 7.
  10. On the top pour the remaining shredded Mexican cheese blend.
  11. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.


It was a hit and my husband and boys really enjoyed it.  The tortillas held up really well and were not soggy at all.  I think folding them was a good call.

Even my youngest, the pickiest of the three, told me he wanted me to make this more and (although he liked tacos better) he loves this because it has a lot of stuff in it that I wouldn't eat but when you put it together in a pan it comes out yummy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Web Find - A Stain Free Sink Challenge

My kitchen sink had stains on it when we bought our home.  I've tried everything to get those stains out and was just about ready to buy a new sink...which would mean buying a new counter along with it.  I've tried baking soda and vinegar, I've tried bleach, I've tried Comet, I've tried Barkeeper's Friend.  The only thing that worked halfway decent was the Mr. Clean magic erasers.  But even those little miracle workers couldn't get all the stain up.  

At the end of rope, I tried Google.  I happened across this blog article and the lady says she got her sink stains up just by using dishwasher detergent.  You've got to be kidding me.  It can't be that easy.  

So I tried it myself:

Step 1:

I used this ladies technique for cleaning my stained sink

Step 2:

Use the Cascade Extra Strength Clear Gel Dishwasher Detergent and I take my sink brush so all the sink was covered in a layer of it. 


I let it sit for ten minutes....

I let it sit for another twenty minutes....



Those dangblasted stains came out of my pretty white sink!

I wonder if it works on toilet stains?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Web Find - Laundry Room Efficiency

Source of inspiration-
I found this on Pinterest (of course)"...and I love it!
(minus the building the cabinet myself part)

What I need to do this....

Shelving Unit
$35.00 X 2 = $70.00

Laundry Basket
$3.00 X 6 = $18.00

Large Rattan Basket
$15.00 X 2 = $30.00

Slatthu Decorative Wall Sticker

Other items I already had on hand: wicker hamper & sticker labels.

Assemble the shelving (very simple, took me about 10 minutes).  Label the shelves
and the baskets.

I SUCCEED... creating a laundry organization station without having to build with wood.  In addition, found a place to use wall stickers I bought from IKEA.  

Note:  I use the top of the shelves as a folding table!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Home Project - Under Stairs Meditation Room

When we moved into our home we gained more storage including a cute storage closet located under our finished basement stairs.  I thought about what to use it for - for months.  I didn't want to clutter it up with junk because it seemed to be a waste to do that.  The closet itself is actually quite roomy and cute.  The walls are painted a calming tan color and the carpet extends from the finished living area in the basement into this closet.

I nabbed the under stairs closet as my own.  Nothing was allowed in it and the closet remained empty for at least six months while I mulled over what to actually do with it.  

Many ideas came to me but I was limited in what I could with it because of the sloped ceilings.

I always wanted to have a separate place to keep my coffee maker, toaster oven, and breakfast items.  Before the project it was like this:  coffee maker on kitchen counter by sink, toaster oven on kitchen counter by stove (at other end of kitchen), all other items in the kitchen pantry.

Items to use:
(not all are exactly what I used but are similar)

LACK Coffee Table - IKEA

Bamboo Table Runner - Target

I actually already had two wooden tables on hand to use but if I didn't I probably would have gotten a table 

Birds on Branches Wall Decal

I got my decal from Kohl's but they no longer carry it.  I overpaid for it and from now on I buy mine from IKEA or eBay.  Go to eBay and search "wall decal birds" and you get a whole host of options and can get it for less than $10.00 in many cases.

Metal Lotus Flower Votive Holder


I bought my candle holder at a local store and it was fairly cheap (under $20.00).  I was able to locate something similar online so I went ahead and linked to that.

Wooden Rectangular Tray

Other items I already had on hand: votive candles, polished rocks for the tray, incense, pillows and cricket box.  You can get cricket boxes at different places.  I use my cricket box to hold my incense, candles and lighter.  

Assemble the cabinet.  Move the coffee maker, toaster oven, griddle/waffle maker, and all other items to the cabinet.  Decorate until I have it just like I want it.  
I SUCCEED... getting my under stairs meditation room! 

My meditation room has been so relaxing for me.  I'm not an obsessive meditation guru or anything but it is nice to have a set aside location that is always there for one reason and one reason only - to get away from stress and just relax and clear my mind.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Home Project - Breakfast Bar

I always wanted to have a separate place to keep my coffee maker, toaster oven, and breakfast items.  Before the project it was like this:  coffee maker on kitchen counter by sink, toaster oven on kitchen counter by stove (at other end of kitchen), all other items in the kitchen pantry.

I want a separate place for my coffee maker, toaster oven, waffle maker and breakfast essentials.

What I needed for this project:

BESTÅ Shelf Unit - IKEA




BESTÅ Cabinet Legs - IKEA


Knipsa Seagrass Basket - IKEA

Baskets (2) - Wal Mart


Rubbermaid Dry Food Containers



Other items I already had on hand: large orange platter to sit the coffee maker on, a small gold basket to put pastry items in, lidded jar to keep the sugar in, decorative plate holder and decorative plates to hand on the wall behind the cabinet.

Assemble the cabinet.  Move the coffee maker, toaster oven, griddle/waffle maker, and all other items to the cabinet.  Decorate until I have it just like I want it.  


I SUCCEED... getting my perfect breakfast bar area that I can now use every morning.  

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  

Something that important should have its own home!