Adventures In Atlanta: Part 1 (World Of Coca-Cola)

Coca-Cola World (It's An Ordinary Blog)

Happy Thursday, Everyone!

After what seems like a whirlwind of a week, I’ve finally landed in Atlanta for my first ever blog conference and even though the party doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, my internet turned in real life friends Sarah from The House Of Boys & A Girl and Heidi from The Pajama Mama and I wanted to spend some time doing something fun today. So, naturally, we went to The World Of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta.

Located across from the Aquarium here in Atlanta, The World of Coca-Cola is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the hotel I’m staying at for the duration of the week. In other news, it’s an easy ride on the Marta to get there (the way back is an entirely different story which will have it’s very own dedicated post- stay tuned!) and it was well worth the adventure.

In an effort to keep this post short (and because, honestly, I’m feeling kind of tired and lazy), I’ll just share the pictures from our visit today. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend visiting. We saved up our reward points from all of the Diet Coke we drink (because I’m an addict) and it paid for our admission today but I’d happily pay the entrance fee any day. As an added bonus, at the end of your tour, you can drink all of the carbonated beverages from around the World that you want (as long as Coca-Cola manufactures them).

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The staff at World of Coca-Cola were absolutely INCREDIBLE and their hospitality really put the experience over the top. Special thanks to our new friend Noland who was working at the vault (where the secret recipe for Coke is located) for his time and attention today. He came up to chat with us while we were hanging out and we shared some laughs. I kind of wish every business had at least one Noland on staff- he was great.

I’ll leave you with this: When you go, make sure you watch the “Moments Of Happiness” video. It’s something I’m told will be public at some point in the future but, for now, you can ONLY watch it at World of Coca-Cola. I had all of the (good) feels. It was great.

With that, I bid you adieu. Until tomorrow, goodnight.

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Succulent Sundays: Wine & Lasagna (Hint: There’s a Recipe!)

It's An Ordinary Blog

As you may remember (reading back to this post), I’m not really into alcohol but when my husband and I saw a Groupon for a small group wine tasting in our home, we pounced on it. 8 bottles of wine, a relaxed atmosphere, and some time with our friends seemed too good to pass up. I learned something…I like wine! The glass pictured above was one that our consultant said would be good with lasagna and so that’s what I made for dinner last night.

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I thought I’d take some time to share the recipe…

You’ll need:

1 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey) browned and drained.

Lasagna noodles (you can either buy the oven ready noodles or cook them yourself).

8oz Pasta Sauce (I use unsalted)

8oz Stewed tomatoes drained and sliced.

2 cups mozzarella cheese.

16oz large curd cottage cheese.

2 eggs.

Combine the eggs and cottage cheese into a bowl and set aside.

Combine the meat, pasta sauce, and stewed tomatoes into a bowl and set aside.

Assembling the lasagna is very simple. Start with a layer of noodles and then add a layer of your cottage cheese/egg mix followed by a layer of your meat and sauce and then a layer of mozzarella. Repeat, repeat (typically you get two to three layers per recipe).

Bake in the oven, covered with aluminum foil, at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Serve and enjoy with a glass of your favorite wine.

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 I suggest pairing your lasagna with fresh salad and homemade garlic bread. To make the garlic bread, I sliced a fresh made baguette from my local bakery, used my new Orblue garlic press that I purchased through Amazon (you can find it here). I combined the fresh garlic with melted butter and brushed it onto the bread before baking it at 400 degrees for about five minutes. It was delicious!

Bon Appetite!

 

 

The Graham Cracker Death Trap (A Gingerbread House FAIL)

Gingerbread House Fail

I’ve been dreaming about this day for years.  

The day we would sit together as a family, creating beautiful gingerbread houses that would make any Pinterest goer green with envy.  Oh, yeah. I got this.  Except not.

Gingerbread House

I was so excited to be able to share this special time with my toddler, making gingerbread houses for the first time.  Something I hoped we would be able to turn into an annual tradition. But now, my hopes and dreams have been forever ruined because I realize that I suck at making gingerbread houses.  I mean, I’m terrible at it.  I mean, it’s pretty bad. Like really bad.

Gingerbread House decorating

Let’s backtrack to earlier in the weekend when I  braved the crowds in hell at our local Walmart for some wine and gingerbread house making materials.  Somewhere in the store, nowhere near the candy and graham cracker aisles (because, you know, it’s Walmart and nothing makes sense), I saw actual gingerbread house decorating kits. “Pffft! PAH-LEESE,” I said to myself, “That’s for idiots who don’t know how to decorate their own houses. Not me!” And so I spent more than I care to admit on candy, frosting, graham crackers (which I used, instead of making gingerbread, to save time), and various other little treats that we could adorn our lovely homes with.

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As we sat down at the table to start decorating our homes, I was thrilled.  Mostly at the idea of documenting our awesome journey in gingerbread house making to gloat about on Facebook (yeah, I’m awesome) but also because it’s our first year doing this.  I actually cannot remember the last time I decorated a gingerbread house.  It may have been never.  I consider myself to be a relatively crafty person so I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to rock that shit.

Gingerbread House Decorating

My toddler lovingly placed rainbow sprinkles across her rooftop.

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She was so careful and meticulous about placing the decorations on her house.  I was so proud.

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My husband’s craftsmanship.  He is, perhaps, one of the least artistic people that I know and in this particular case, it worked to his advantage.  He was extremely proud that he created something that looked somewhat like a house and actually remained intact as he completed the project.  HOORAY lowered expectations.

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Pretty quickly after I started constructing my gingerbread mansion, I realized that I’m not cut out to be a contractor.  I have no idea what it means to create vaulted ceilings and it’s safe to say that no gingerbread men will be hiring me to play a part in the construction of their homes.  I opted for a flat roof with Kit Kat solar panels on the roof (because, you know, being environmentally conscious is important to me and it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I was incapable of making a structurally sound roof).  It looks more or less like a safe house that would harbor a wanted terrorist for interrogation rather than a comfortable environment for any loving gingerbread family.

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At some point, through no fault of her own, my daughter’s house came crashing to the ground. Presumably crushing all of its gummy bear residents under mounds of sweet, sweet rubble.

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Here they stand…our condemned gingerbread neighborhood.

Next year we’re buying a kit.

Our Photography Session with Jo Snaps (Warning: Adorable Pictures Inside)

Jo Snaps Pictures in Kansas City

What a fun extended weekend here in Kansas City! The weather was beautiful, our Christmas tree is up (more on that later), and C had a  shoot with local photographer Jolene Mendez. Jolene, the woman behind the camera over at Jo Snaps, was absolutely wonderful in guiding my little one through the poses for each shot. C was comfortable and the pictures turned out great. Take a look:

Josnaps Kansas City

Jo Snaps pictures

Photography Kansas City

photography services in kansas city

Jo Snaps Photography Service

JoSnaps photography

As the mother of two ridiculously adorable little boys, Jolene understands the chaos and frustration that can sometimes be associated with bringing your children to those big box photography studios. For that reason, she’s simplified things. Jo Snaps photography clients are welcome to come by Jolene’s home based photography studio in Kansas City, Kansas or meet on location throughout the metro. One of the things I enjoy most about Jolene’s photography service is that what she offers is simple and straightforward. Your one time $50 fee includes one hour of shooting and a CD with all of the edited images from your session. From there, you’re welcome to print the images in whatever sizes and quantities suit you best.

Jolene has graciously offered a special deal for It’s An Ordinary Blog readers. If you mention this post when you book your photography session, she’ll give you a free 5×7 picture from your shoot. Pretty awesome, am I right?! You can view an assortment of lovely shots in Jolene’s portfolio by visiting her website: Jo Snaps Photography.

You can connect with Jolene anytime on Facebook or by phone (913) 626-6693

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Which of these photos is your favorite?! I can’t decide! 

Fall In Love With Autumn: A DIY Wreath Tutorial

Crisp air and falling leaves…don’t you just love Autumn?!

Autumn Wreath DIY

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to stop by the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri’s annual fundraiser Holiday Mart with a good friend of mine (hi, D!). We had a blast walking around enjoying the Christmas music, sampling the incredible treats, and shopping with some of the wonderful vendors that Holiday Mart brings in each year. I had one mission over the weekend: find the perfect Autumn wreath. I’m embarrassed to admit that I failed.  I searched high and low to find my ideal wreath and, even though I found some cute ones along the way, I couldn’t seem to find “the one”. And then that little lightbulb went off in my head: why not make one?! Challenge accepted! Creating your own seasonal wreath is the perfect opportunity to leave your mark on the season, design something that is uniquely your own, and save a little bit of money in the process. Curious to see how I did it?! Take a look:

Holiday Wreath Supply List

Thanks to my local Hobby Lobby, I was able to score some great deals on all of the items I needed to design my new wreath. If you’re looking to replicate my idea, you’ll need to purchase about 45 feet of burlap ribbon (about three packages worth), a wire circle for making wreaths (located in the floral department), and seasonal decorations (I used pumpkins, flowers, and berries). This project takes about 45 minutes from start to finish and is a whole lot of fun so grab a glass of wine, put on some Jack Johnson, and have a little fun.

DIY Autumn Wreath Tutorial

DIY Wreath

This project can be done in three easy steps (yes, I’m serious). To get started, you’ll want to weave the burlap ribbon loosely through the wire circle. Stop periodically to gently puff up the ribbon that you’ve done so far, making sure that it doesn’t flatten (which will happen if you pull too hard). When you start to run out of burlap ribbon, don’t panic. Simply tuck the end into the back of your wreath and start again. Keep going until the entire wreath has been covered.

Make Your Own Wreath

Design Your Own Wreath

The second step to your new custom wreath is adding in personalized decorations. Similar to decorating, try to group decorations in odd numbers (3, 5, 7). I found some great mini pumpkins, berries, and some yellow colored burlap that I used on both of my wreaths and am very happy with the results.

DIY Fall Wreath

Cute Fall Crafts at Hobby Lobby

Inexpensive Holiday Decorations

If you have a Hobby Lobby nearby, be sure to look out for their sale items. I was able to score most of my items for either 40% or 50% off of retail price.

Small Wreath Decorations

When you’re done, the third and final step is to find a spot to hang your new wreath!

Autumn Wreath

Make Your Own Fall Wreath

For my second wreath, I used a pre-existing plain “twig” wreath that was on sale at Hobby Lobby for $4.99 (I used a 40% off mobile coupon which brought the price down to just over $2.00) I simply added a few decorations and hung it up. I still can’t believe how easy it is to do yourself- I wonder why I ever purchased pre-made wreaths to begin with…take a look:

Indoor Wreath DIY

Make It Yourself Wreath

Cheap Fall Wreaths

Fall Wreath

I spent just under $50 to complete both projects, have some extra burlap ribbon to spare, and am already plotting my Christmas wreath. Be on the lookout for more Autumn projects headed your way in the next couple of weeks!

Costume Discounters: Little Dragon Costume In Review!

| Cooler Weather | Hot Apple Cider | Pumpkin Patch | Boots & Sweaters |

It’s Halloween Month! 

Discount Toddler Costumes

Happy October, Everyone! I am bursting at the seams excited to start this month! October-March are my absolute favorite months of the year. Bring on the cold weather, the hot cocoa under the stars, the falling leaves, and, of course, the adorable Halloween costumes that we all look forward to each year. If you’re like me (overly excited parent of a ridiculously adorable two year old), you’ve already put a lot of thought into your plans for #Halloween2013 (I am fully aware that hashtags do not, in fact, work on WordPress. #DontCare #NerdAlert). If you happen to be in the market for an amazing costume at a discounted price (hello savings!), I invite you to check out my friends over at Costume Discounters. They offer a vast array of inexpensive costumes for adults, children, and pets (who doesn’t love a dressed up dog or cat?!) that you can have delivered directly from their website to your door. This is the perfect solution for parents who don’t want to brave taking their child out to the mall to pick out the perfect costumes (nobody wants to deal with the “I want {every single item ever}” for each item you look at) for the entire family. Take a peek at the Little Dragon Costume that C will be sporting this year:

Costume Discounters

This costume is every bit as adorable in person as it is online and, believe me, it’s pretty cute. What I love the most about it, from a purely logistical standpoint, is that it comes in just two pieces: the main costume and the wings that attach to the back. There is little worse than trying to assemble multiple aspects of one outfit on a two year old. Having one piece that gently slips over her head is a much more feasible choice for parents who plan to be on the go this Halloween season (yes, it is a season: don’t judge). The wings attach, using three pieces of velcro, to the shoulders on the back of the costume. The material is soft and comfortable against the skin and it’s not too heavy so it’s something my child can wear freely as we walk up and down the streets of our neighborhood on Halloween night. Best of all?! C LOVES it. 

Little Dragon Toddler Costume

When I’m saying that she loves it, I mean…she absolutely loves it. So much so that she cried when I took it off of her. It was a sad moment. But I look forward to the happy moment when she, once again, gets to wear it. Given the fact that this item is sleeveless, I will plan to pair it with a solid color long sleeved top and some tights on Halloween night but this will serve as an excellent addition, that she can wear as is, to her dress up clothes once the holiday is over. With any article of clothing, I encourage you to pay attention to sizing before you order. C is ~35″ tall and ~29 pounds and she is wearing at XS costume (which is intended to fit a 3T-4T for toddlers). I’m certain that the XXS would have worked as well but might have been a bit shorter than we would have liked. The vibrant colors, ease of the fabric, and the fun nature of the costume itself will be a hit at our festivities and I can’t wait to show her off in it.

Little Dragon Costume

As you venture out (or online) for your Halloween needs, take a few minutes to check out Costume Discounters. Right now they’re offering a 20% discount on orders of $20 or more (use the code Fun20) and free shipping on all orders over $60. You can find them online (http://www.costumediscounters.com/), on Facebook, and on Twitter. Drop them a line on their social media pages and be sure to tell them that It’s An Ordinary Blog sent you!

Toddler Halloween Costumes

Costume Discounters sent me a Little Dragon Toddler Costume for free in exchange for my review. I am under no obligation to write a positive review and my expressed opinions are uniquely my own. As always, please feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions: ItsAnOrdinaryBlog@gmail.com. 

Costume Discounters

Succulent Sundays: Fried Zucchini (Recipe & Mouth Watering Pictures Included)

Yummm! It’s Sunday! A few weeks ago, at my local Farmer’s Market, I picked up (for the first time) green tomatoes. And I fried them because, let’s be honest, nothing says “let me enjoy these nice, healthy vegetables” like dipping them in batter, frying them in oil, and eating them with some ranch dressing. So naturally, I wondered what other would-be healthy items would taste good fried. It still counts as a vegetable, right?! So today, I want to share my recipe for fried zucchini. In case you’ve missed some of my previous Succulent Sunday posts, you can find them here:

Homemade Stuffed Peppers

Pulled BBQ Chicken Bake 

Homemade Lasagna (Don’t tell my mother I shared that one!)

Homemade Zucchini

For this recipe you’ll need: 

  • 1-2 Medium Size Zucchini Squash
  • 2 Eggs (Lightly beaten)
  • Milk (Aprox. 1 Cup)
  • Wheat Flour
  • Italian Style Breadcrumbs
  • Oil (Preferably one with a high smoke point)
  • Paper towels on a plate

Homemade Zucchini Recipe

Zucchini

 

Nothing beats fresh, locally grown produce. I was excited to find some great, seasonal, vegetables. I think the farmer who sold me the zucchini thought I was a little weird. Of course, my vague sexual references surrounding the size and shape of the produce probably didn’t help. Kidding (but seriously). Once you’re done thoroughly washing your produce, slice it into “chips” (see the picture below for reference).

homemade fried zucchini

Begin heating your oil (with just enough to cover the bottom of the frying pan) on medium to medium-high heat. You’ll want to remember to reduce the heat to medium (even medium-low if you need to) depending on whether or not your zucchini slices are frying too quickly.  I recommend leaving your zucchini in the breadcrumbs until you have enough for the entire pan. Speaking from experience, trying to place them into the pan one at a time, turn them as needed, while trying to be mindful not to burn them can be a daunting task for one person. If you have all of them ready at one time, it makes it just a little (okay, a lot) bit easier to fry them.

By now, I hope you’ve figured out that your milk, beaten eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs need to be in different bowls (/plates) set up in a station for easy access.

Step One:

Homemade Fried Zucchini

 

Dip zucchini into milk

Step Two:

Fried Zucchini Recipe

Coat zucchini with flour (I used wheat flour…you know, to make it healthy)

Step Three:

Homemade Fried Zucchini Recipe

Dip zucchini in beaten eggs

Step Four:

Fried Zucchini Recipe

Coat zucchini in seasoned breadcrumbs 

Step Five:

Fried Zucchini Recipe

Fry it up! It takes a few minutes on each side (or until brown)

Once you’re done frying the zucchini, place them on a plate of paper towels to ‘dry’ them off (get rid of that extra grease). Then repeat, repeat, repeat until you’ve fried up your desired amount of zucchini. Serve with ranch, or marinara, and enjoy!

Homemade Fried Zucchini

Succulent Sundays

 

Historic Corydon, Indiana Series! (With Pictures!)

Corydon, Indiana

My husband, two year old daughter, and I recently made the nearly 500 mile journey from our home in Kansas City to beautiful Corydon, Indiana. You might be thinking that a small town near the Indiana / Kentucky border makes for a unique travel destination and you might be wondering what brought us there in the first place… Corydon happens to be a great almost-half way point between where we live in the central Midwest and where my husband’s parents and grandparents live back East. Within a stone’s throw from Louisville, Kentucky (about a half hour drive), it’s the ideal setting for a laid back, relaxed time in a small town atmosphere.

Corydon has a lot to offer both residents and visitors alike and their downtown area is a beautiful setting for history buffs who want to learn about Indiana’s first state capitol. During this series, I will be featuring some of the things I enjoyed most about our stay in Corydon but I encourage you to check it out for yourself. You can find more information about the town, their vibrant history, and what they have to offer by checking out their website: This Is Indiana. For now, I want to share a few of the pictures I snapped while we were there. If you’d like to use these photos for any reason, please email me first: itsanordinaryblog@gmail.com. Enjoy!

Butt Drugs Corydon Indiana

Feeding right into my sense of humor (which isn’t unlike that of a 13 year old boy), I couldn’t help but snap a photo of Corydon’s famous “Butt Drugs”.

Public Library Clock Indianas First Capitol Indiana Capitol Fredericks Cafe First State Capitol Corydon, Indiana Corydon Indiana Corydon Indiana Corydon Indiana Corydon Indiana Corydon Indiana Corydon Indiana Corydon Indiana Butt Drugs

I can’t wait to highlight some of my favorite moments from the trip including our dining experience at a unique gastropub in Corydon, a fantastic ice cream shop in the area, and our visit with the Louisville Bats. Stay tuned!

How I Remodeled A Guest Room For Under $15

Guest Room

My husband and I were elated to purchase our first home in 2009 but as new, first time, homeowners it took us a while before we furnished all three bedrooms. In 2010 we used part of the federal stimulus package we received (for first time buyers) to purchase a King size bed set for our master bedroom. We moved the Queen bed, which we had been sleeping in for three years, into our guest room. I feel that I should mention that our guest room is the smallest room in our house (second to the closets, of course) and having such a large bed rendered the space useless for much of the time. Overnight guests stay so infrequently that the wasted space has become more and more noticeable over the last year or so and I started to realize how our misuse of the space might impact potential resale value in the future (who wants to have to worry about a bedroom re-do when you’re trying to prepare for a move?!) so I finally decided to do something about it.

My good friend Mindy (hi!) is coming in over the weekend to stay with us and I knew I eventually wanted to get that guest space remodeled but I wasn’t sure I’d have the time before her trip. So I asked her, “Theoretically speaking, would you be more comfortable in a room that had a larger bed but no room to move around or a smaller futon bed but room for suitcases and space?” Her answer gave me the green light (and inspiration) to go ahead and move forward. Here’s what the space looked like earlier today:

It's Always Good To Be Back In A Queen

In case you’re wondering…yes, that is the entire room. Even though Tobias Funke would say, “It’s always good to be back in a Queen”, when the bed is the only item you can fit into a room, it’s probably not worth keeping. So we listed it on a local classifieds group. All together (bed, mattress, box spring, and the complete bedding set) we were asking $200 and were fortunate to find a buyer who was interested in picking it up this week.

When we listed the bed, I started perusing Craigslist for either a daybed with a trundle or a futon bed. I went back and forth on which one would be a better bang for my buck but ultimately found a great futon that could either be used as a little couch or a twin size bed. The previous owners took great care of it and were asking $75. I offered $60 and we picked it up Memorial Day weekend. While my husband was waiting for our buyer to pick up our old bed this evening, I ran to Target to grab everything I needed for our guest room fix. I gave myself a budget. Ultimately I knew I wanted to come as close to breaking even as I could and I’m pretty happy with how close I came. Take a look (details below):

Guest Room Makeover

I am a sucker for Target clearance, can you tell!?

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My Target Purchase Included:

  • Twin Sham $9.99
  • Twin Comforter $19.99
  • Sheets $10.48
  • Towels (2 Bath) $9.98
  • Towels (2 Wash) $5.98
  • Orange Vase $7.48
  • Accent Rug $24.99
  • Wall Mirror Set $17.48
  • Table Lamp $17.79
  • Yellow Picture Frame $3.48
  • Bookcase $21.99
  • Candle $5.99

Total $155.62 (plus $60 for the futon) I used a coupon yesterday for $10 back when you spent a certain amount in the baby department so I applied that towards today’s purchase bringing the total down to $145.62 plus tax. Making my grand total (before tax) $205.62. Less than $15 over budget!

Small Guest Room

I brought in some old goodies for the white bookcase and knew I wanted to make it into something a little bit more unique than just a twenty dollar shelf. So I took an old Arabic alphabet poster my husband was asking me to get rid of and nailed that to the back of the bookshelf. Then I added some great books, pictures, and various other accessories to the shelf to give it some character. We moved a small television into the room so that the space will double as a den when we don’t have guests.

Bookshelf with character

Bookshelf for Guest Room

Bookshelf

Functional Guest Space

What I love most about this space is the function it now serves for our family. You don’t need a lot of room to have a great space and by incorporating those personalized details, you can transform an otherwise boring piece of furniture into something more interesting and beautiful. I couldn’t be more pleased with how the room turned out. If you’ve been considering a room re-vamp but didn’t think it was in the budget, I hope this helps inspire you to complete that project you’ve had on your mind.

Bookshelf

Guest Room

The Toddler Room (An Update)

It’s Friday! It’s Friday! It’s Friday and it’s a holiday weekend! Horray!

It seems like every time we have a long weekend, we try to fit in all of the items on our “to do” list (in addition to carving out some social activities and family time). This Memorial Day weekend is no exception. As you know, we’ve been working on a nursery to toddler room transformation and  I wanted to share some of our progress so far. In the next few days I’ll share all of the details on her fabulous new room and some of what I’m learning about transitioning from a crib to a toddler bed. In the meantime, enjoy!

Toddler Room Toddler Room Toddler Room Toddler Room Toddler Room

I can’t wait to share the finished product with all of you! Enjoy your Friday night!