OTHER HOME PROJECTS
What you'll need:1 sheet cake, baked Cream Cheese Icing Cake pop sticks Mixer 2 packages of Vanilla Almond Bark (found in the baking aisle) Step 1: Bake your cake. At Christmas, I make red velvet from scratch, but for Ashlyn's birthday, I used a Betty Crocker orange cake. Both are delicious. Set it out to cool. Step 2: In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 tub of cream cheese icing with the baked cake. Mix with a beater until your cake holds together when formed into a ball. You can absolutely make your own icing as well. I make a buttercream for the red velvet that's delicious. It's totally up to you and your preference of flavors. For this, I used Betty Crocker pre-made cream cheese icing. Step 3: Roll the mixture into 1" cake balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place your cookie sheet in the freezer for five minutes. You can leave these in the freezer as long as you need. I left these in overnight because I wasn't going to dip them until right before her party. They will retain their moisture. Don't worry. Step 4: Heat up your almond bark in the microwave for 30 seconds. Many brands come in a tray that is microwave safe, so you can just pop it in the microwave. If the brand you purchase doesn't, just break up the bark into smaller pieces and put them in a glass measuring cup (or mason jar, in my case). Stir after 30 seconds then heat for another 30 seconds. You want the bark to be a smooth liquid that will drip off a spoon, so keep reheating for 10 seconds at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If you heated yours up in the provided tray, pour the liquid into a mug or glass measuring cup for dipping. A friend recently told me that if you can't find that right consistency, try adding some vegetable oil. It worked!!! Thanks to Creations by Lennie for that tidbit! Step 5: Remove your rolled cake balls from the freezer. Dip the end of a cake pop stick in the heated almond bark, then place it in one side of the cake ball going in about halfway. After all of your cake balls have sticks, replace in the freezer for 5 minutes. Step 6: Remove your cake pops from the freezer, and dip each one into your almond bark. When dipping, turn the cake pop upside down, fully immerse it in the almond bark then remove it. I hold it just above the measuring cup to allow any excess to drip off before placing it in my drying rack. I strongly suggest you don't twist the cake pop or tap it on the edge or dip it more than once as this increases the likelihood that the cake pop will fall off the stick. (I may or may not have plenty of experience with this one...) Once you've dipped all of your cake pops, put them in the freezer for another 5 minutes to allow the almond bark to harden. Step 7: This is where you can get creative! Decorate your cake pops however you want. You can put sprinkles on before the almond bark cools, decorate your cake pops like animals or characters, use fondant ... the possibilities are endless. For a simple drizzle, I heat candy melts (available anywhere cake supplies are sold: Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, etc.) in my chosen color in the microwave using the same process as the almond bark. Again, you want the consistency to be a smooth liquid, though, slightly thinner and more runny than your almond bark. To achieve this consistency, I typically heat the candy melts 10-20 seconds longer than I did the almond bark. I find it's best to heat these in a glass measuring cup, though a mug will work as well. Again, add some vegetable oil. It helps! Once heated, dip a spoon in the melts, let most of it run off then drizzle it over the tops of your cake pops in a zig-zag motion. After all of your pops have drizzle, place in the freezer for another 5 minutes to let harden fully. Don't say I didn't warn you when everyone you know wants you to make these for the next friend or family gathering. They are delicious and an easy alternative to regular cake and icing. We'd love to hear how yours turn out, so leave us a comment below and enjoy!
Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 sticks salted butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 cups quick oats
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- (Optional pecans or other nut)
5 Tips to Make Potty Training Easy PeasyTip #1: Wait until they are good and ready. This is gonna save you a ton of time. If you try to force your child to potty train before they are ready, you will run into all sorts of problems. You'll be frustrated, they'll be frustrated, accidents and messes abound, defiance exhibited by refusing to go may happen, creating potential health problems for your child. Not good! So how do you know they're ready?
Signs of Potty Training Readiness
- Can clearly tell you when they need to or already have gone pee/poo in their diaper.
- They have predictable times of relieving themselves.
- Show interest in the potty
- Seem uncomfortable in a dirty diaper
- Can go diaperless for a period of time without making a mess on the floor
- They can understand the concept and connection between a reward for doing something well. (Not absolutely necessary, but helpful if you want to try to use a sticker chart)
Should You Use Rewards?
Should you reward your child for using the potty? Absolutely! Now whether that reward comes in the form of a crazy happy dance and applause, a sticker on a potty chart, or a grape or m&m, that is totally up to you. I personally didn't love the idea of rewarding with food, so we chose to use a sticker chart!
It was lots of fun for my daughter and gave her something visual to chart her progress. Having said that we did occasionally use her favorite thing, chocolate, as an incentive to go #2. Which then led to her referring to her candy as "poop chocolate" (She may hate me one day for writing this!).
Potty Training is Simple...But...Potty training really is pretty simple. Not always easy! But definitely simple. Of course, there will always be children who do their own thing regardless of what you read in parenting books and blogs on the internet. Hopefully these tips will be helpful to most! I'm no expert, and our process took more like two months rather than that awesome sounding"potty training in 3 days" program. But once it was done, it was done. No going back. Talk to me again next year when I'm potty training a boy for the first time. I may be starting back at square one. And I guarantee there will be more mess for me to clean up. *ugh* Let me know in the comments below whether you've used any of these techniques or if you found some other ways that were helpful in potty training your child!
- As a storage table, like this one from Marty's Musings
- As a chalkboard, like April did at House By Hoff
- Even as room dividers like this one on Indulgy!
Here's how I made it happen:First, I painted the window. It was an old, crusty, yellow color. As with most other things in my house, I wanted white. So I broke out trim paint (Behr Semi-Gloss Bright White) because it was the only thing I had available, taped off the panes and brushed on two thick coats. This window probably weighs 25 or 30 pounds, so I needed something really solid to hang it with. Our headboard weighs a little over 50 pounds, and I was able to hang it on the wall with a large Hang Man interlocking bracket, so I thought I'd try out the smaller one they offer at Lowes for this window. There is a great YouTube demonstration on how to use one, but basically you attach one side to the wall and one side to the window, and the window slides right in behind the wall bracket to mount it flush. As an added bonus, it comes with a level so you know you're hanging it absolutely straight. I'm not sure why, but I just had this vision of black hooks to contrast with the stark white paint. I really can't explain where that idea came from, but I found these hooks at Lowes for around $3 each and I absolutely love the way they look on the window. These screwed right in from the front, and I bought one to sit in the middle of each pane (mainly because math and I aren't really friends... I know. How do I ever build anything?) If you look closely towards the top of the window, you can see the metal bracket I used to hang this. That didn't really worry me because I knew I was putting a magnolia wreath on the window, but if you're leaving yours open, I'd suggest just painting the bracket the same color as the wall to hide it. You can even paint the screw heads! All that was left was fluffing my magnolia wreath (I found this one at Hobby Lobby) and hanging it. To keep things simple, I used a clear 3M adhesive hook that I bought at Walmart for $2. It stuck beautifully to the fresh paint and finished off the window art perfectly! I love the way this repurposed window turned out! The entire project cost less than $55, including the wreath (which typically runs for $90 plus on its own) and took 20 minutes to complete not including paint drying time. Of course, you can't put a price tag on how happy it makes me to look over at it while I'm working, and there really is nothing quite like hanging up something you made! Now I just need to paint the office walls... Hope y'all have a Happy Monday!
So I started hunting around on Pinterest, of course, and found some awesome inspirational photos like this one:here, here and here, but have you seen those prices!?! If you can afford it, great! If you're like me and can't, I have a solution! You can make your own! No power tools required. And, if that wasn't awesome enough, you can customize it to your liking. I really wanted white, not stained and definitely not black. So break out the spray paint! When we moved into our house over 11 years ago, the previous owners left a bunch of random items (some awesome, like an old wooden extension ladder and a map of the city; some not so awesome, like a disco ball and crutches), and I finally figured out what to do with the extension ladder! It was a bit rickety, so I wouldn't exactly put my life in its hands, but it makes a beautiful storage ladder for our dining room!
DIY Storage LadderThe first step is acquiring the materials, mainly a ladder. We got lucky having ours in the basement already, but I have seen plenty of these at antique shops, salvage yards, on the side of the road, thrift stores, etc. Any ladder will do. Mine had round rungs, but you can use flat ones as well! The beauty of these are they're all different, and a lot of the antique ones are connected with metal pieces you can incorporate into the finished look. Mine was an extension ladder, and these metal hooks held the two sides of the ladder in place. I loved the way they looked, so I left them on. Once you have your ladder, give it a light sanding, wipe it down with a wet cloth and let it dry. Then paint or stain it to your liking. I used Rustoleum semi-gloss bright white enamel. Next, add your baskets. I found these hanging baskets at Big Lots, but I've seen them at Walmart and various other places, usually in the kitchen section. Before I go on, let me tell you a funny story. These baskets have a built in edge to them that hooked just perfectly around the back of my ladder. Yay! So I thought, Great, I won't have to screw these in or anything! I got all the baskets set on the rungs, filled them with goodies and took some photos. Not two minutes later, I hear a crash and come in the dining room to find everything -- I mean, EVERYTHING -- on the floor thanks to a toddler who tried to climb the ladder and the "stuff was in [her] way". So note to self, if you have a toddler or a cat or anything/one else who might try to climb said ladder, I would strongly urge you to anchor those baskets down. I bought some old iron S-hooks from an antique shop in Versailles that I had originally intended to use. However, they were too large for my rungs, so I ended up using twine to tie the baskets down on the bottom and both sides. It worked like a charm. I am proud to say the ladder has been up for a few days now with no further, um, incidents. Once your baskets are all set, gather some plants, old books, chalkboard signs and anything else you might want to put in your baskets and decorate away! This project took just under 30 minutes including dry time for the paint, and is one of my favorite pieces in the dining room now! If you make your own, we'd love to see your photo on Instagram! Just use #sharingallthelovelythings. Happy Tuesday!
Now you are making me like you Clothing me in white Bringing beauty from ashes For you will have your bride Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame And known by her true name
I'm a generally insecure person. If you don't know me really well, you probably wouldn't guess that, but it's true. Even though I'm something of an extrovert, I struggle with insecurity and with unworthiness. It's not just in the epic things either. I am insecure about my voice, my body, my talents, my role as a mother and as a wife and especially as an instrument for God. In Isaiah 61:3, it is promised that "He will give a crown of beauty for ashes" and ashes are certainly more what I identify with than beauty. I am a grace-covered sinner. That's just all there is to it.
God has this awesome way of showering me with grace just when I need it, putting people in my life to encourage me at just the right moment and reinforcing His ability to use me regardless of how confident I am in myself. I feel like Gideon a lot going, "God, are you sure?" "Do I really need to say no to this awesome opportunity?" "Can you make it clear, like lights flashing in the sky clear?" "You'd stop me if it wasn't the right path, right?" "Remind me again, God," always asking for just one more thing to prove that He's really forgiven me or that He really can use me or that this is really the direction He wants me to go in. Inevitably, it will be in those moments of uncertainty that someone -- generally a complete stranger -- will tell me how that song I sang or that devo I wrote was just what they needed to hear and they could see the Spirit working through me.
It's in those moments that I realize that I didn't do any of those things. God used the voice He gave me and the thoughts He impressed upon me to convey His message to someone. I truly am a vessel for His work, for His glory. I am forgiven. I am His child. I am free, and I am covered with grace and love.
I don't know exactly where you find yourself today, but my prayer is simply this: that you allow God to exchange beauty for your ashes. We can offer nothing to God but ourselves, but praise Him! We are all He wants, and we don't have to be perfect or confident or always making the right decision in order for Him to love us. He just calls us to return to Him and to let Him change our hearts -- and lives -- for the better.
He is clothing us in white, friends. We have no guilt and no shame thanks to His love and sacrifice. So lift up your eyes and seek Him, and know that He will use you regardless of your past, your hurts, your struggle or your insecurity. As long as you have faith in Him, He will take care of the rest.
I know, right!?! Can you say swoon? The only problem was she wanted a taupe color to match her bedroom decor which this particular duvet wasn't available in, and she needed a full size, not queen. So, because I don't already have eight million projects going on and am a total glutton for having no free time I said, I can totally make that for you, because it's how I roll. In actuality, I think I said something more along the lines of, I can try to make that for you, because I have never undertaken anything quite this elaborate before with the exception of some knockoff Anthropologie curtains that I made for my sister-in-law a few Christmases ago. Take it from me. This is a whole other ballgame.Anyway, my friend graciously agreed to let me try it, and since the version we came up with ended up costing a whopping total of $50.00 in supplies, as compared to the $225.00 price tag of the white one she found, it was a given that we had to at least see what we could DIY. In the interest of full disclosure, there are LOTS. OF. RUFFLES. You need to know that up front. This bad boy took me a solid 8 hours to complete, so you'll have to work that into your time/cost comparison to see if it's actually worth it to undertake or if you'd rather just fork over the money for an already made one. I'll be honest: if I were asked if I wanted to make myself one right now, I'd totally say, No, I'll just buy one, thanks. However, I'm still in that I-just-finished-this-project-and-really-don't-want-to-see-a-sewing-machine-for-at-least-a-week phase, so you might want to ask me again in a few weeks once that has worn off. Sometimes these projects are like childbirth--you get this weird sort of amnesia and you want to do it all over again. There is something incredibly gratifying about finishing up a big project like this, though, knowing that this one is the only one in the world of its kind and, yeah, you could have handed over a bunch of money for one, but you didn't. You made it. Ta-da! So whichever side of the make it or buy it coin you end up on, you'll get loads of understanding from me. If you do decide to go the DIY route, here's the tutorial for how I made this one for my friend, and I have to say, despite the time commitment, I absolutely love the final result!
Shabby Chic Ruffle Duvet Cover
What You'll Need:
- Solid duvet cover in your color of choice ($25.00)
- King size sheet set in matching color ($25.00)
- Two spools of thread (on hand)
- Sewing machine
- LOTS of pins
- Something flat that you can iron over (I used a ruler)