Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tips and Tricks Tuesday # 15

Hey everyone!  How's it going today?  Are you all watching the Olympics?  We most certainly are glued to the games here in Lewisville.  I LOVE watching every- single- sport our athletes are competing in and chanting along with the crowd U.S.A....U.S.A....U.S.A!  I like to tell my kids about how hard these athletes have worked, that they've trained for hours and hours, for years and years, and that their dream has been to go to the Olympics and hopefully win a medal.  I want them to dream too; not about the Olympics necessarily, but dream, hope, wish and work for it-whatever the Lord gives them in their hearts to desire.

Our Home Town Hero- Missy Franklin  {Source}

Ok, so today is Tips and Tricks Tuesday, our day to learn about a few things to make our lives at home a bit easier.  We all love easier, don't we? Here we go!

Tip 1.  I've moved a few times over the past couple of years.  Every time, I've wrapped all my dishes carefully in newspaper so they don't break.  Placing the plates in between Styrofoam plates is brilliant.  This would save tons of time and washing.

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Tip 2.  I talked about making my own home made laundry detergent HERE.  If you make the liquid version, using a drink dispenser is a smart and beautiful way to store it.  Brilliant I tell you!

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Tip 3. This just may be my closet's saving grace!  I was just looking at my master bedroom closet and it needs some serious help.  Using wood shelf brackets from your home improvement store is a great and inexpensive way to divide your shelves and keep clothes from topping over.  Pretty too!

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Tip 4. There are about 100 different ways to use toilet and paper towel rolls.  I've seen everything from art to organizing cubbies.  Let's start simple with something like this.  Use some decorative paper to cover your roll and let your imagination go wild. 


Tip 5.  August is the best time to buy all your back to school supplies- for the year!  Most of us know this but did you also know August is the best time to buy computers, swim suits, summer clothes for next year (think of the kids), patio sets, and all things summer- including lawn mowers and swing sets!  If you've been waiting for a deal, now's the time to score some bargains.


  Hope you found something to help you out!  If you haven't signed up to get the email reminders, head on over to the side bar and follow by email so you'll never miss a post! No junk mail included!  I've been making progress in our beach themed bathroom.  Come back later this week to see what's going on in there.

Blessings,
Lisa

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wow! This is a thrift store?

Today, I want to talk a little bit about thrifting.  Are you a thrifter?  Do you have a favorite thrift stores you visit regularly?  Oh, let me tell you friend, if you are not a thrifter, allow me to convert you and change your foolish, foolish ways of paying retail.

I know what some of you may be thinking when it comes to thrift stores.  Yuck!  They only sell junk; they sell your neighbor's trash.  The stores smell funny!  They only have used and abused items...yada yada.....

For years, I never stepped foot in a thrift store.  I wasn't necessarily a thrift store snob, I just figured that if someone gave something away, then why would someone else want it.  Was there anything really worth buying in thrift stores?

Oh, how naive I was. So, so, naive.
So what changed in my life that I now include thrifting on a regular basis?  Let's see- budget, kids, staying home, blogging, moving, budget, necessity, budget, etc.  Did I mention budget?  So how does a girl who likes modern style and respectable but contemporary fashion find goods at a thrift store?  The answer is to find the RIGHT thrift store.

Not all thrift stores are created equal.  Some have great furniture pieces but lack in the clothes area.  Some have great clothes but lack in the furniture department.  Others are just ridiculously overpriced.  Yes, there are thrift stores that are overpriced. The key to good thrifting is to find one (or two or three) that fits what you're looking for on a regular basis.  For me it's furniture since I love DIYing, but then.....I was introduced to this place.  Cue heavenly angelic music now!

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine  told me about this AMAZING  thrift store in downtown Denver. The perks- a basement full of furniture, clean, organized, and clothes I would not only buy, but love!  She knows me so well!  I love finding little treasures (and big treasures)at thrift stores, bringing them home and spit shining them all up to make them pretty again!

The thing is, I don't usually buy clothes at thrift stores.  Hardly ever.  I don't have the patience to go through racks and racks of clothes to find that ONE piece I would wear, then maybe it will fit right, but then I'd have to go try it on.  Ugh, this does not sound fun to me. If I had several outfits to choose from, then maybe?  I'm more of the, "let's see those ugly pieces of furniture you've got!"  But I was assured by my friend that I would not only find great clothes, but my beloved ugly furniture I can gussy up as well.  REALLY?

So this last week when my mom was in town, I had to twist her arm (not really) to go check out the validity of my friends statements.  I was on a truth finding mission you see.  We had to take a little trip to this so called AMAZING thrift store and test it's worthiness.  And the verdict?  Well,  let me just say, WOW!



Here's the book area, completely organized with tables to sit at while you read.  Very casual and yes, you can bring in your coffee to sit and relax.


High, vaulted, ornate ceilings with great lighting.  Umm, not your average thrift store.  This is the housewares department- very dangerous for me!  My son found a surf board clock for our beach themed bathroom makeover as soon as we got there. That's where the trouble all started for us because then we just had to check EVERYTHING else out.  LOVE IT!


Pendent lighting down the middle of the store with cans throughout the rest.  This side of the store is women's clothing.  The stairs go down to the basement where I found a room full of furniture.

Shoes?  Yes, Please!  I found a great pair of dressy sandals.
All the clothes are clean, organized by season/type, and sized.  I wanted to find capri pants and casual blouses, so I went right to that section and found "several" things to try on.  When it comes to finding clothes at a good thrift store, I grab "everything" that I like, and kind of like, and maybe it'll fit?  The more clothes to try on, the better my chances of finding something I'll buy.  I'm always surprised at what looks good and what doesn't.  And I only buy if I really like it on me.  What's the point of shopping at a thrift store if I buy something, even for cheap, take it home and never wear it. It's just money wasted, right?

When I went shopping at this Goodwill, I tried on at least 20 pair of pants and half as many blouses.  They had a lot of name brand, gently used clothes. Anything that looked good on the hanger, I put in my basket to try on.   I've learned to change quickly and make a yes, no, and maybe I'll buy pile.  To my surprise, I had a lot in my yes pile and had to narrow a few things down.  Luckily, mom was with me and bought me an outfit- complete with my Donna Karan shoes!  Woohoo!  Thanks, Mom!
 
On top of my thrift gift from mom, I bought 3 pair of pants by Calvin Klein, Gap, and Ann Taylor (I'm not a name brand girl, but some people like to know these things) and two blouses for about $27.  That's$9 an outfit!  YES! PLEASE! and THANK YOU!


Downstairs was full of great pieces.  I prefer to buy solid, real wood pieces, but this store's furniture prices were a little too high for me to purchase right then and there. Never fear!  All thrift stores have a 50% off sale during some point each month.  Find out when your thrift store has their sale and get there early to grab your pieces.  This great wood dresser has a few bumps and bruises with a price tag of $70.  Not bad, but two more days and it will be $35- if it's still there.  It's a risk I'm willing to take.

This wasn't a perfect thrift store though.  It didn't have very many kids clothes or toys, but my munchkins still managed to find their one thing they could take home.   We spent 3 hours on this first trip and laughed most of the time as we ooh and ahh-ed  with each section.  So fun!

So lessons learned when it comes to thrifting:
1.  Find a "good" thrift store
2.  Be patient when looking at clothes and grab everything that's a possibility for you.
3.  Shop with a friend that likes thrifting as much as you.do.
4.  Only buy what you'll use.
5.  Inspect everything carefully.  Check drawers and pulls on furniture.  Check for stains on clothing
6.  Go back often!

Hope you all have a blessed day!  I'm off to introduce Mr. Lewisville to my new favorite thrift store.

Blessings,
Lisa

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Making homemade syrup!

Welcome to Tips and Tricks Tuesday, the one day out of the week that I share some helpful tips with my readers to simplify and organize their lives.  I have a very simple tip for you today. It's a recipe!  I haven't given out recipes on my blog, mainly because cooking is not my "passion" in any way, shape, or form. Don't get me wrong;  I do cook.  In fact , I cook every single day!  At breakfast, lunch and dinner time you can usually find me in the kitchen whipping up some kind of consumable and somewhat healthy concoction.   I've been cooking for my family for 18years, so I'm not terrible at it.  My kids even think I should go on Iron Chef America, which I just love the fact they think mom is a great cook (but I'm definitely not an iron chef or any kind of "medal" type chef).


I've learned to follow recipes, and I've learned to make meals that are healthy and inexpensive.  But, if somehow I lost my mind and didn't care how much eating out cost, then I'd be visiting every restaurant in town just so I could ignore and neglect my stove and forgo cooking all together.  No, actually, I change my mind.  I'd hire a personal chef!  Yeah, that's what I'd do!  I'd have someone else cook for...ME!  And not macaroni and cheese which is usually the case when someone cooks for...not mentioning any names.

But in my real world, I cook- everyday, every night, 7 days a week- usually.  It's the little things we do for our families right?  I'm sure I'll be sharing some of my frugal and tasty recipes as this blog continues, but for today, let me just share my simple homemade syrup.

I read many years ago about the ingredients that go into store bought syrup.  They were bad.  They were really bad.  So I switched from "pancake syrup" found in all the grocery aisles to "Real" Maple syrup.   Real Maple syrup is tastier and made from real ingredients.  The problem with Real Maple Syrup is that it come with a Really expensive price tag.  Trader Joe's and Costco have a great price for the real thing, but  I still had a problem shelling out $20 for the sweet treat.  So my mamma brain, other wise known as the cheap and frugal side of me, went into high gear.  I wondered could I "make" real maple syrup?  So I searched for internet recipes and found a few I narrowed down and changed to what we have now been using in our family for the past two years.  This is my homemade version of Syrup....wow, that was a long intro.


 Making home made syrup is EASY and even better it's quick!  For those of us who are "cooking" challenged or just don't don't have a "passion" for cooking, this is a major plus. First, gather up your ingredients.  Here they are:

Syrup Ingredients:
1 cup Water
1 cup Brown Sugar (light or dark)
1 cup Sugar
1 Tb Vanilla or Maple Extract (the real thing, not imitation)


 I use Vanilla Extract because real Maple Extract is impossible to find in any store.  I've checked -all of them- really.  No one carries Pure Maple extract, even those stores where you can spend your "whole check" because they carry healthy, organic, blah, blah, blah stores.  Imitation is everywhere, but pure extract is a mystery?  wrapped in an enigma? You can order pure maple extract from Amazon though. Two brands I like are HERE and HERE.  Pricey compared to vanilla extract, but it certainly gives your Maple syrup that Maple syrup flavor.  Amazing how that works isn't?  Vanilla, is similar to maple though and my family (kids especially) don't think it taste much different.

So here's the process:
1.  Bring 1 cup of water to a rolling boil in a saucepan.
2.  Add 1 cup of sugar and stir until it until it dissolves completely.
3.  Add the brown sugar and let it dissolve.
4.  Add 1 Tb of the extract of your choice. Stir. ( Use more or less to fit your taste.  You can also combine both vanilla and maple extract for the best taste- according to me :-.  You can also add butter or butter flavoring- yum!)
5.  Cook over medium heat for a few minutes.  You'll see the extract produce big bubbles from the alcohol burning off.  Once that happens, turn off your heat and let it stand to thicken.



 I store my syrup in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge.  Sugar crystal will form at the bottom sometimes, but when you're ready to use it again, you can heat it up by placing it in bath of hot water or warm it up in the microwave.



That's it. That's our easy home made version of "maple" syrup.  Sweet and tasty!


Blessings,
Lisa

I link all my projects with some wonderful blogs.  To visit them, go to the {Link Party Love} page found at the top of this page on the {Home} bar.
Also linking to:
Between Naps on the Porch
Savvy Southern Style
No Minimalist Here
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Saved by Love Creations 
Miss Mustard Seed
Funky Junk Interiors
Coastal Charm 
Restore Interiors
Tip Junk

Friday, July 20, 2012

Praying for Aurora, Colorado

Hello Everyone,
I  had a regular decor post ready to go this morning, but when I found out about the shooting that happened in Aurora, I didn't think it was the right time or the right day.  The shooting at the movie theater in Aurora hits pretty close to home for us here in Lewisville.  No, we're not close to Aurora in proximity.  In fact, we live about 30 minutes from the theater in Aurora, but we've been attending church at Calvary Aurora since we moved here 9 months ago.  In fact, many people we know from our church were in the very next theater when the massacre began.
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 My heart pauses when I think how easily life can take a turn from such tragedy.  The mood here all around Denver is very somber.  Everyone is talking about what happened, why it happened, the families whose lives have changed forever.  You can't help but think how easily it could have been you; it could have happened anywhere; or it could have been one of your kids in there.
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 These are the days, you just want to hold your loved ones, not let go for a really long time, and say a prayer of thank you that you're still together. 
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 I know many have questions during times of tragedy like this.  They usually start with, "How can God...?" I can't explain it or even begin to give "Reasonable" answers.  Can anyone?  There is God who is good, always, but there is also evil that stems from Satan.  This was a vicious, evil attack, and so many innocent lives were taken.  My heart hurts for them and their families.

 The Bible is my source for understanding and hope, especially in times of crisis like this.  When things seem out of my control and crisis strikes, days like this, I turn to Philippians 4:7.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

 "Reasonable" doesn't work in tragedy, but God's peace does.  In fact, His Peace surpasses my understanding and goes to work on my heart and mind.  My heart and my mind need the most attention during these times. My heart is broken and my mind is racing to find answers that aren't there. I don't understand the evil in this world.  It's ugly and it makes me angry.  God knows that and His peace guards my heart from bitterness and my mind from fear.  Does that make sense?

When it comes down to it, I know God protects me.  No, not from tragedy or from becoming a victim at the hands of evil.  That's not what I mean.  He protects me, my soul, my heart that I've given to him, my future life with Him in heaven.  That's the protection that comes from His peace.
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And so what can we do now about what happened in Aurora?  We pray.  Pray that the message of God's love and grace reaches ALL those involved, (All, even the shooter) and that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their savior.  Pray for God's peace to fill each victim and their family members.   Pray for the pastors here in Denver who are with the families, visiting the wounded in the hospitals, and giving words of encouragement to the brokenhearted.  Pray for forgiveness.  Pray for healing.

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Thank you to all our police officers and firefighters and emergency crews.  {Source}





Keep praying.  We need your prayers here.  We need healing for the brokenhearted. We need God's peace through Jesus and His divine presence in the midst of this darkness.
  
Hug your family, my friends.
Blessings,
Lisa
Update: Some AMAZING stories from this ugly night are starting to come out.  One miracle that is truly moving is about a victim who was shot four times, once in the nose where the bullet traveled to her brain, and she survives.  Please read A Miracle inside the Aurora Shooting by clicking HERE.

 I also came across this BLOG POST from Marie, a blogger here in Denver who was in the theater as well, where the shootings took place.  She writes about her experience and answers the questions So you STILL think God is a merciful God?

Also linking to:
Between Naps on the Porch
Savvy Southern Style
No Minimalist Here
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Saved by Love Creations 
Miss Mustard Seed
Funky Junk Interiors
Coastal Charm 
Restore Interiors
Tip Junk
You might also like:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tips and Tricks Tuesday #13

Sorry this post is coming out a little late.  My mama is visiting Lewisville this week and let's just say we are having too much fun!  Whoop! Whoop!  Thus, Tips & Tricks Tuesday is coming out a little later than usual- sorry about that folks.  

But for your viewing pleasure, I have picked a few tips and tricks from around Pinterest.  Again, you can re-pin from my tips & tricks boards or follow HERE.  

So without further ado, (and really so I can get back to the fun we're having here-whoop! whoop!) here are this weeks tips and tricks.

Tip 1.  Here's a great science experiment for your kids.  All ice is not equal?  Who would have thought?  Apparently, freezing boiling water will make ice cubes that are clear.  Freezing room temperature water will create a cloudy cube.  Think of the fun you can have freezing fruit and other items kids can see. 

Tip 2.  All DIYers will appreciate this one.  How do you remove a nail from a wall without damaging the paint?  Wrap a rubber band around the hammer's head like so.  It will keep the head from making contact with the wall and damaging it!


Tip 3.  I rarely by fresh herbs and spices because I'm always afraid I will end up wasting most of my purchase.  Don't you just hate throwing away food?  Now I know how to avoid such a catastrophe when it comes to fresh herbs.  Simply cut your extras and freeze them with olive oil.  When you're ready to use them, pop out an "olive oil" herbcicle and warm it up in your pan.  Love this idea!


Tip 4.  I just love fun party ideas when it comes to food and kids.    Here's an idea to press your ice cream into a 9 X 11 pan.  Use a cookie cutter to shape the ice cream for your kid's guest...or yours.  The hearts are sweet here, but there are so many cookie cutter possibilities out there to choose from! 


That's all for today.  Next week, I'll be giving you my very first tips and tricks recipe!  A real, actual recipe for you to make and consume and hopefully enjoy with your family.  See you later this week with an update on the kid's beach themed bathroom makeover. It's coming along!

Blessings,
Lisa

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Painting that Pesky (tight) area behind the toilet.

I am on a mission.  Last time I told you all about my lack of love towards the kids' bathroom.  That poor little room has been neglected for far too long. But it is a new day in Lewisville, and our plain jane bathroom is getting a beach themed makeover!  Surf's up!

The FREE quart of paint Ace Hardware gave away a few weeks ago was just what I needed for a little inspiration regarding this plain bathroom.  I decided to go with a paint color called "Venice Beach" to go with our "about to become" beach bathroom.

I wanted a bluish/grey color but "Venice Beach" actually has some green hue to it.  It looks great and my mission to complete it in a week (we'll see how that goes?) is in full force.

Today, though I want to talk about one of the more difficult parts about painting a bathroom. No it's not choosing a color or even taping off all the areas you want to protect from paint.  For me, the hardest part about painting a bathroom is Painting Behind the Toilet.



Allison from House of Hepworths gave a great tutorial a few weeks ago on protecting your toilet while painting.  Brilliantly, she told us to remove the tank lid and place a trash bag over the tank.  Super smart right?  How many times have I painted this area so slowly with lid and tank fully exposed?  Too many!

My tank, however, is very tight to the wall.  I can not fit a roller of any size behind there, much less paint with a brush.  I know no one would ever look behind there (maybe) but the white wall with new blue paint really seeped through.  I had to figure out a way to get behind there, just enough so it didn't look like an amateur paint job.  So this is what I came up with.

You can't really see it because of the glare, but I decided to pull the bag up and brush the blue paint onto the bag.  Replace the trash bag over the lid.

Then put you hand in the bag and press it against the wall.  Think of sponge painting but with a plastic trash bag.

That's it. The paint from the trash bag rubs off onto the wall, even in the tightest spaces.  Easy. Done!

Have a great weekend everyone. Come back on Tuesday for all new Tips and Tricks!

Blessings,
Lisa
I link all my projects with some wonderful blogs.  To visit them, go to the {Link Party Love} page found at the top of this page on the {Home} bar.
Also linking to:
Between Naps on the Porch
Savvy Southern Style
No Minimalist Here
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Saved by Love Creations 
Miss Mustard Seed
Funky Junk Interiors
Coastal Charm 
Restore Interiors
Tip Junk
You might also like:

Thrifty Decor Chick

Friday, July 13, 2012

Painting the Kids' Bathroom

There's one room in the house that doesn't get much of my attention.  It's the kids' bathroom.  It's small and plain and I haven't done a thing to decorate it since we moved in...9 months ago.

The only color in this room comes from the old Target shower curtain we've had for years. It was perfect for the girls when they were little, but they've outgrown it and their brother isn't to fond of the "girly" colors and butterflies.

It's your typical builder basic, plain jane bathroom with absolutley no imagination.  The only towel holder in the room is this small round hand towel ring that is set to low.  You can fit a wash cloth there, but not a hand towel.  ANNOYING.

See. Plain.  No towel racks or shelves.  Not one single hook or rack to place or hang your towels or clothes- except the toilet seat. Not to crazy about that.  I've been thinking about this bathroom for a while. It needs true function for three kids and the theme/decor needs fit a boy and his two older sisters.

After thinking about it for a while, I came up with a beach themed bathroom.  I think this is perfect since we come from California and we lived just a few miles from the beach.  My girls have participated in a church surf camp before, and our entire family misses those beautiful California beaches. Why not bring a little California beach to Colorado?  Beach themed bathroom it is! 

I started looking through Pinterest and pinning beach ideas to my bathroom board.  You can see that HERE.
Then, a few weeks ago I heard that that ACE Hardware was giving away a quart of FREE paint.  I love that word - FREE!  Don't you?  This would be my 3rd FREE quart of FREE paint from this wonderful store just this years.  I have grey and yellow for the girls room, and I pick up this lovely blue with their last promotion.

This paint color is called Venice Beach! How perfect is that!  So off I go to paint my small bathroom with a quart of paint. Believe it or not, I was able to get it all painted with just this one quart.  I surprised even myself, fully expecting to go back to Ace to buy a quart to finish the job.  I used just about every drop, even scraping the sides of the can.

Sorry for the bad lighting.



The worst part about painting a bathroom is painting around and behind the toilet.  Allison from House of Hepworths gave a great tip a few weeks ago on how to protect the toilet from your paint madness and mayhem.  Simply take the the lid off the tank and place a trash bag over the tank. Ummm, that's Brilliant.  I've always painted, slowly and carefully around the toilet with the tank lid on, inhibiting my brush space.
My toilet is really, really tight against the wall though.  Painting behind there was not an easy task.  I'll tell you all about how I finally got the wall painted behind the tank tomorrow.  Yup, one extra post for Lewisville this week!  I'm trying to get more out there, but you know- life, wife, momma, teacher, etc.  Blogger is a new title for me and I'm still adjusting. L-O-V-E it though.


Another little painting tip for you,  always paint with a wet rag near by.  I take the time to tape off with blue painters tape, but some how (my impatience mixed with a little clumsiness) I get paint in all the places I didn't want it to go- floors, counters, the chair I stand on.  Ya, pretty much everywhere.


Ok, so here is the final paint product.  I think Venice Beach is a great way to start our beach themed bathroom.


I know, the shower curtain needs to go.  I'm thinking something fun like a sunset orange/reddish color.  Not sure, but I see shopping in my furture.  I'll also be putting up shelves above the toilet for much needed storage.


Sorry about those bright lights.  I probably should have cropped the picture a little more.  I did manage to take off that towel ring that was ridiculously to low.  I spakled the wall up and painted over my work.  I'll put the towel ring up again, higher of course, and after a coat of spray paint.

And on this wall, some towel hooks for the kiddos.  I have some fun, beach themed ideas but you'll get to see it all when I do the final reveal!

So do you like the color?  I let all my facebook followers in on great deals I find like FREE paint.  If you'd like to hear about it, make sure you click to follow on facebook.

See you tomorrow.

Blessings,
Lisa