Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New Use for Wreath Hook

Pretty sure most all of us have one of these. And it's usually, if not always, on the outside of our door holding a very pretty, (hopefully) current holiday appropriate wreath.  

I'm one of those people who is always looking at things a little differently. I'm looking for other ways to use things rather than just the way it's supposed to be used.  (Post about shower curtain rod coming soon!)

See.  One day I got tired of the empty hook just hanging on our front door inviting birds to sit on it and make a mess down the door and on the front step.  So, rather than get a summer themed wreath, I moved the hook to our laundry room/garage door.  

Then one day this happened.
Just hung the beach bag with some of our summer pool gear in it to keep it up out of our way.  

Pretty soon this happened.
And then this.
And..... it's worked out perfectly for the past couple of years to store our summer/pool stuff right there.  I don't have a lot of storage space for these things, and it gets really old going back and forth to the basement each time we want to head to the pool - which is often.  

Now we have the soft sided cooler, towels, toys, bag of googles and our sunscreen ready for when we walk out the door.  Everything is up and out of the reach of the younger kids who have a tendency to pull things out and scatter them around the house, too.  And, it's just made life sooooo much easier!   

Now all I need to do is find something to hang up all the wet stuff for me when we get home.  Anyone have any ideas for that? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

House to Home: Dresser Redo

Last week was a great, productive, week for me.  So many projects, big and small, completed in such a short amount of time.  (I'm now looking back on the time before I had kids and wondering how I could have possibly wasted all that time!!)

First project up for your viewing pleasure is this lovely dresser.  Well, this is how the dresser started.  Can you see it?

This is the only picture I could find of a 'before' shot.  Here's a little closer.

Basically, it's a six drawer dresser that is about 34" high and 46" long.

This dresser has been in our family for years.  That fact would make you think it's a prized antique.  Um..... it's not.  It's just old.

I had it in my room growing up and my parents were nice enough to let me have it when I got married.  (I think my mom may have even had it when she was growing up.)  Maybe not the most attractive piece; but, free is always great when just starting out right?

I finally got the go ahead from Kevin to overhaul the dresser in the summer of 2012.  I think?  Or maybe I just decided I wouldn't be in trouble for cutting it apart at that point.   Because, you know, once the drawers start to fall apart and the remaining drawers make awful squeaking noises when being pulled out or pushed in, you no longer have to worry about really messing things up.

Anyway.... This is how far I got that summer.

The kids were getting ready to start school, life was busy and we ended up getting blindsided by some medical issues, so the dresser got put on the back burner.  (Read more about all that on Madi's Milestones. Link to first post.)

Not to say that those three years leading up to today were all hunky-dory, but I'm glad I wasn't able to  finish the dresser before now.  The darker the surface, the more dust and dirt shows.  And black shows everything!

So I decided to go with the color white when I picked up my paint brush last week.  No dust showing on that surface!

I covered the dresser with 3 coats of Behr Premium Plus Paint & Primer in One in Ultra Pure White from Home Depot.  Both a brush and small roller were needed to do the project.

Obviously, the inside needed to be painted since it all showed.  This really sucked up a lot of the paint, but having a 'paint and primer in one' helped to get the coverage needed.

I also skipped painting the areas that wouldn't be seen unless you are sitting or laying on the floor.  (Just stay on your feet if you come visit, m'kay?)

You can still see the grooves from the original construction where the front drawer supports were.  I decided to leave them as is instead of filling with wood filler.  Adds a little charm to it - at least, that's what I'm telling myself. 

This is the new home for this piece.  It fits just about perfect along a short wall toward the back of our living room.  

To make it useful and not just pretty (ha!), I had several bins on hand that fit perfectly.

These little fabric bins were purchased from Target when I first started on the project.  I already had a vision in mind and knew if I waited I wouldn't be able to find them later.  (I have no idea if they are available in the store, but I couldn't find them online anywhere.)

I also found some Threshold Milkcrate Decorative Baskets at Target on a different trip.  They've worked great as toy bins in our living room for a year or so.  Nice and roomy storage, but don't scream 'toy bin' when you see them in the space.

All the bins fit perfectly in the space!

In the small bins, we have puzzles for the younger kids.  The big two house all the Duplo Legos.

I took one of the lamps that we rarely use and set it on top.  Little by little, I'm sure I'll fill the space, but for now I'm pretty content.  Family pictures will be printed off and used to cover the wall above the dresser, too.  That will be done with a couple of friends who have a better eye for that kind of thing, though.

So, this is where we are right now.

So pleased with the results!!  Let me know what you think!

Friday, June 12, 2015

What I've Been Up To

This morning it took me a little longer to get out of bed.  One, because I'm tired.  Two, because I'm just a bit sore.

My time alone is rapidly ticking down, though, and I've just a few more things I'd like to get accomplished before reality hits tomorrow.

While I didn't get nearly as much accomplished in the week (I was gifted by my sweet in-laws) as I wanted,  I was able to get many, many projects completed that had been languishing away around the house.

Just a couple more things to check off my to do list and then the kiddos will have to join in the fun {and then reality will hit them, poor babies! :) }.

Kids' Bathroom Painted 

Anniversary Dinner

Project Started 3 Years Ago

Copious Amounts of White Paint Used

Original Art Work Discovered

Projects Multiplying Like Rabbits

Hard Labor

Heavier Than It Looks


For My Husband

Moving Sticker From at Least 2 Moves Ago

Over Night Storage

More Stuff....
Rearranging and cleaning my kids' bedrooms wasn't originally on my long list of things to do.  Having it out of the way so it's one less thing hanging over all of us this summer was soooooo worth the work.  I'll either be 'Mom Of The Year' or 'Mud' when the kids see the changes.

Either way, check back in next week to see the completed projects revealed.

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Recycling Made (A Little) Easier

Do you recycle?  I'll be honest and tell you I don't normally think to.  I'm so used to just lobbing anything and everything in the trash.

Several months (a year?) ago, I was visiting a friend and saw a brown paper bag sitting out.  Guess what was in it.  Yep - all the family's recycling.  We've now implemented the same (genius) plan.

If you don't want the bag just sitting out, it's small enough to fit under a sink or such.  The biggest things I like about this?

-My 5 year old can now 'take out' the recycling without damaging the walls or door frame with the clunky recycle bin.

-No more individual trips to the outside bin for small items.

-The whole bag can go in the outside bin and we just start filling another bag as needed.

So, how do you gather your recycling?  Do you have another way you could share with us all?  Feel free to comment below!

Also, if you haven't liked my Facebook page, come on over and do that!  That way you can keep up with all my antics and projects I don't blog about - just remember to check the 'Get Notifications' so you won't miss anything!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kids In The Kitchen: Easy Mock Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

It's a love - hate feeling for me when my kids want to get in the kitchen.  I love that they want to create and learn about how to fix different foods.  I hate the extra time it takes and the mess it can make.  Believe me, I'm working on my attitude and willingness in this area.

The other day my 10 year old begged me to let her in the kitchen because she wanted to make cheesecake.  Um, no.  Wasn't happening.

Then she explained she didn't really want to make cheesecake, but she had an idea.  I gave in and now I'm glad I did.  Here's what she came up produced with just 3 simple ingredients!

Mock Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

What you need:

Fresh strawberries
Cream cheese - room temperature
Graham crackers

Wash your strawberries and then pat them dry.  Set them to the side.

Place a couple of graham crackers in a plastic bag and grind to a fine crumb.  (Use a food processor for easier method.)

Put crumbs in a small bowl or plate.

Use a butter knife to spread cream cheese on the bottom 2/3 of the strawberries.

Roll cream cheese covered strawberries in graham cracker crumbs.

And you're DONE!

These turned out so pretty and taste really good!  She did an awesome job!  And, as you can tell, she is pretty proud of herself.

So, do you turn your kids loose in the kitchen?  At what age did you start letting them get creative with food?  This is definitely one area I'm hoping to lighten up on this summer.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Family Vacation to Wisconsin Dells

Have your kids started summer break yet?

Our kids ended the school year on May 21st.  We all get pretty excited about the end of the school year around here.  At least for the first couple of days until I start hearing those dreaded words "I'm bored!"

This summer started filling up fast in April, but I really wanted to take a family vacation this year with just the 7 of us - something we rarely do.

Kevin and I decided on heading to The Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin.  It met several criteria - plenty of water for swimming, plenty of space in our room, plenty of family friendly activities in the area, and it's a location not all had been to.

The first night we did story time at the clock.  I always find it interesting how my older kids are quite content hanging out and enjoying the younger kid activities.

We spent a LOT of time in the wave pool and on the slides.

There was an AMC movie theater close by, so we headed over one evening to watch the new Avengers movie.  It was great for the older kids, but the younger ones got bored pretty quickly.  (I couldn't pass up the opportunity to snap a shot of this display since my husbands name is Kevin and we have a good friend named Stuart.)

We also played a little cosmic bowling at Knuckleheads just around the corner from the lodge.  Great fun!  

I think our scores are pretty funny.  It's a good thing the kids could use the gutter guards, and about half way through I thought about putting them up for me! There were still times when a ball would end up in a lane other than ours, coming back at the ones seated behind the score board, and even along the wall!  Good thing no one was bowling next to us.  (Scores are youngest to oldest.)

Game 1

Game 2

It seems like we picked the perfect week to go.  We figured the crowds would be low, but there were days it seemed almost deserted.  The kids even had some of the pools to themselves a couple of times!

The wave pool's capacity was listed at 392 and we were no where close to that!

To offset some of the cost we purchased snacks from Costco before leaving St. Louis.  This gave us snacks for the drive to Wisconsin and back home (we snack a lot while traveling) and then during the days in the hotel room.  I was also able to shop at a Walmart about 8 minutes away from the lodge to grab breakfast foods, sandwich fixin's and some cut veggies so we wouldn't have to eat out all the time.

The times we ate out, we tried to go different places each time.  We aren't too adventurous when it comes to food (we do have to make sure everyone can find something to fill their bellies) so we stuck to familiar type places.  

The first night we at at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill.  It was pretty good.  The kiddos didn't love the chicken strips off the kid's menu, but they were able to eat enough to not go hungry.  Kevin and I enjoyed the burgers, but overall it was pretty pricey.  I guess that's just part of it, right?

One night we headed to Cracker Barrel.  Family favorite!  'Nough said.

One of the other nights we tried out Moosejaw Pizza Company.  Another pricey place to eat, but the food was good.  We even took the leftovers back to our room and had them for lunch one day.  So.... two meals for the price of one?

Overall the trip was a success!  Kevin and I tried really hard not to work, and we only did a handful of things while the kids were resting in the room.  We of course had our family 'moments', but they were few and far between and everyone tried to get along for the week.  There were a few moments of crazy in the mix, too.

The trip to and from our destination is never much fun, but fortunately our kids travel well.  Naps happen (especially on the way home) and we have movie screens and several movies to keep them entertained.  Our kids have big bladders, too, so we can make it about 4 hours before having to make a pit stop most trips. 

Friday's weather was a bit stressful coming home, but Kevin did a great job.  I said a couple of prayers along the way, too.

The rainbow after we got through the worst of it was beautiful!

Of course the excitement of being 'almost home!' starts when we see the St. Louis Arch while crossing the Mississippi.  This is also where I start praying I don't hear those dreaded words 'I have to go POTTY! (40 minutes!  That's all that's left in the trip, people!)

It's always good to get home - even if there are loads of laundry to get done and we can tend to be cranky and tired - and in our own space and our own beds.  

And then comes the recovery time.  It's hard work vacationing!

Do you have plans this summer?  Do you travel when you have vacation or do you tend to do more of a stay-cation?  I'd love to hear your favorites so I can start making plans for next year!
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