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!

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A Minnie Mouse Themed Birthday Weekend

As you know, my sweet girl turned two years old  a week ago today and we celebrated all weekend Minnie Mouse style. I have been so excited to share this with all of you. We are so fortunate to be blessed with such an incredible group of family and friends. So much so that we decided it would be less overwhelming to break up the birthday celebrations into two days. On Friday evening, we had invited 21 people over for a hot doggity dog birthday dinner and did our family (along with a couple of our ‘basically family’ friends) on Saturday for a celebration at a place in a nearby town (closer to where my family is). The sad news is that it snowed so much on Thursday that many of our guests were stuck in their homes and unable to make it on Friday night so it ended up being a play date birthday celebration for C and her friend who lives just a few houses down. Having just gotten back into town from my friend’s baby shower, I found myself more pressed for time than I would have liked but, overall, I’m really happy with how everything turned out.

For both events I wanted to be sure to give guests a small takeaway as a thank you for spending time with us and so I hand dipped marshmallows and Oreo cookies in white chocolate, covered them with red sprinkles, and wrapped them in clear bags with a red Mouse head and white ribbon. I was really happy with them.

Chocolate Covered Oreos                 White Chocolate Covered Marshmellows

Mickey Mouse Party Favors

I dressed our dining room table with a red table-cloth, Mouse Head “placements”, white plates, and color coordinating decorations. On the light above the table I hung red, white, and black tissue paper pom-pom balls (which I posted a tutorial for on Tuesday).

Minnie Mouse Themed Dinner Party

Minnie Mouse Theme Table Top

Saturday presented a bit of a challenge. The location where C’s event was held required me to drop off the party decorations at least 24 hours in advance but, since it’s almost 45 minutes away and we had a massive snowstorm, I wasn’t able to meet that deadline. I called them and asked if there was any way I could get into the room earlier so that I would have some time to decorate. They told me it was no big deal if I wanted to show up at 1:45 (the party was at 2:30). What they meant by “no big deal” was “we’re not being honest”.

I showed up at 1:45 only to discover that they had booked our room back to back and the other party was not slated to be out of the room until 2:00. They really tested my resolve with this one. I got into the room around 2:10 or so and had just over 15 minutes to get it decorated, have the food out, and somehow manage to not look like I just threw it all together. “Challenge Accepted!” I’m not really sure how I got it all done but, somehow, it worked:

Minnie Mouse Theme Birthday Party Table

Minnie Mouse Theme Birthday Party

Red, Black, and White Table Top Decorations

Minnie Mouse Decorations

A few of the decorations I used for both parties:

Mickey Mouse Themed Party

Minnine Mouse Themed Party Decorations

Mickey Mouse Themed Party Invitations

The big Mouse ear (pictured above) was actually the invitation for the birthday party. What I did was slip a small white card with the party details between the red and black on the invitation. This was far better than anything I could have purchased from a store. Speaking of…I had made everything but the plates, cups, and napkins for this party. I wouldn’t consider myself the most crafty person so if I can do it, so can you! 🙂

Tissue Paper Puff Tutorial (With Pictures!)

Tissue paper pom-pom balls are, by and far, one of the easiest ways to add some incredible decorations to your special event.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to help you along the way…

Tissue Paper Pom Pom

Tissue Paper Puff Tutorial Needed Supplies

You will need:

-Ribbon (or clear fishing wire if you’re looking for that ‘floating in thin air’ look)

-Tissue Paper

-Scissors

-2″ Floral Wire

How to make a tissue paper pom pom ball

Begin by folding the tissue paper accordion style (back and forth, back and forth). The larger you make the folds, the bigger your puff will be.

Tissue Paper Pom Pom Ball Steps

Tissue Paper Puff Ball Steps

When you’re done, fold the tissue paper in half (and crease as much as you can).

Tissue paper pom pom tutorial

Cut enough floral wire to safely secure around the center of the tissue paper (where you made the crease when you folded it in half).

Tissue paper flower tutorial

tissue pom pom tutorial

Begin to pull the tissue paper apart, one layer at a time. Be gentle with it because it tends to rip fairly easily.

tissue paper puff flower tutorial

Continue pulling the tissue paper apart until it creates a flowery look on each side.

tissue paper puff ball

When you’re done, it should look a little something like what I’ve got pictured above.

It really is that easy!

Mmmm….Apple Cinnamon Baked Treat Recipe (with pictures)!

I had planned to do an entire blog post on what we did for Thanksgiving this year but I realized it would be entirely too long so I’m going to break it into segments. I wouldn’t classify myself as someone who necessarily cares about keeping with tradition when it comes to food. To be honest, I’d be happier to do something unique every year rather than having turkey with stuffing and all of the “must have” side dishes. That’s why, since it was my turn to make Thanksgiving dinner for my family, I wanted to think outside the box. To start the evening, I had homemade bowtie pasta chips with an asparagus dip and a hearty romaine salad with homemade croutons. For dinner we had double stuffed lemon garlic chicken breasts with sides of mashed potatoes, green beans, and parmesan rolls. For dessert we had birthday cupcakes (my dad’s birthday is next week), pumpkin pie, and these baked apple cinnamon treats:

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One Apple
  • One package of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits or Crescent Rolls (I used the Crescent Rolls on Thanksgiving and the Grands Biscuits tonight.
  • McCormick’s Cinnamon Sugar
  • Butter

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

I’ve made these twice now. The first time I left the skin on the apples but tonight I peeled it before dicing it (I have texture issues with apple skins). Whatever you prefer will work.
Dice your apple and set aside.
Unwrap the biscuits or crescent rolls and stretch out the dough (as pictured).
Melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave.
Brush melted butter on the top of each piece of stretched out dough.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of each buttered piece of dough.
Place a small handful of apples on each piece.
Fold over each piece in half to seal. Then brush melted butter on each side and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Once they’re oven ready, bake them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes (you’ll want to keep an eye on them).
For best enjoyment, eat them warm with a scoop of Blue Bell (my personal favorite) vanilla ice cream. I think it would also be nice with some melted caramel drizzled over the top.
Enjoy!
Since I’m not doing specific posts about the other two desserts, I thought I’d include some pictures of those as well. The cupcakes were a plain vanilla with a creamy vanilla buttercream frosting and the pumpkin pie (not pictured) was purchased from Costco. I feel that I should mention, in case you weren’t aware, that Costco has the BEST pumpkin pies this time of year. Not only are they ridiculously large but they’re also only $5.99 and totally delicious.

The Kitchen: Part III

As you know we’ve been working on some small DIY projects around the house and our latest project, a kitchen transformation, turned out better than I thought it would…Our home is a standard split level and so our large kitchen also doubles as a dining area. For that reason, I wanted to figure out a way to separate the space but also tie everything together so I used the largest two walls in the kitchen for this portion of the project.

Our refrigerator has always been the “go to” spot for C’s latest artwork and pictures and so I knew I wanted to find a way to use the wall in the “dining area” to showcase C’s work.

I feel that it’s important to mention two things: 1. Yes, I am aware that we have a bulb out on our light and 2. The light isn’t centered on the wall so if it looks a little off balance to you, that’s probably why. We were lucky to find these adorable letters at Hobby Lobby for half off their retail price so we ended up paying $1.50 per letter. After I had the letters up on the wall, I went to work on the pieces to hang C’s art. I purchased some wooden balls (that are flat on one side) that I planned to paint white using acrylic craft paint:

Once they were dry, I used a hot glue gun to attach round magnets onto the back of each ball:

Using wall mounting strips, I attached the other half of the magnets directly to the wall.

I moved the large shelf that was against this wall to help divide the two areas of the kitchen. Once our basement remodel is complete, the toys that are now being stored in baskets on the shelf will relocate to their permanent homes downstairs and I’ll use the space to store small kitchen appliances and accessories that have been thrown into the depths of the cabinets since we moved in.

We used the word “Family” for that portion of the space:

The pegs that are on the wall are made from the same balls that I used for the first half of the room hot glued onto wooden squares that I painted tan. I plan to hang aprons on each of these (one for the husband and matching ones for C and I that I’m hoping we get from our Christmas wish list).

I’ll take some pictures of the entire kitchen and post them this week. Until then…

The Kitchen: Part II

As you know from yesterday’s post, we’ve been working on some small kitchen projects here at home. The husband and I have been very fortunate in that have very generous people in our lives without whom we wouldn’t have many of the things we have. My dad gave us a four person dining room table that we picked out from Nebraska Furniture Mart a couple of years ago. We love it and it’s been an incredible piece of furniture for us for the last few years. When we made the decision to finish our basement (which is still a work in progress) we knew we wanted to move that table downstairs and have a six person table that was a little lower to the ground in our kitchen. Since C is now old enough to be in a booster seat instead of a high chair, it was especially important for us to start the search as soon as possible. I searched for a couple of months on Craigslist and finally found what I was looking for at a very reasonable price.

This is a pretty commons style of table that includes four chairs and a long bench and it fits perfectly in our kitchen. I’ve never been a major fan of medium shades of wood so I knew immediately that was one of the changes I was going to make. I think it’s important, for anyone looking for different furniture, to find a piece that you like for its structure. Things like color and stain can be changed at fairly minimal cost to the owner so if you find something you like within (or under in our case) your price range go with it.

I chose a cream/yellow color for the table itself and wanted to do the chairs and bench in different colors. Here’s what they looked like before:

Here are the chairs, after:

And the bench:

I was lucky to find some great table clothes on clearance at my local Target (just one of them is displayed below) to help dress up the table, making this portion of the kitchen home improvement project complete.

Tomorrow, in the third and final part of my kitchen renovation series, I’ll talk about wall how I did the wall decor and what a major difference it made in the look and feel of the kitchen (and, of course, there will be plenty of pictures). Until then…

The Kitchen: Part 1

I’ve been working on a lot of small DIY projects  around the house and wanted to share some of the work I’ve done on the kitchen. I’m planning to make this into a three-part post so today I want to focus on the beginning of the project. We purchased our home when it was in the beginning stages of construction in 2009 and so we had a lot of say in terms of appliances, light fixtures, carpet and other flooring, and the exterior color. I’ve always really loved our house but we’re finally getting around to turning it into a “home”. Here are a couple of “before” pictures of the kitchen (The only ones I could find were from C’s 1st birthday party so you’ll have to excuse the decorations):

We were lucky that we didn’t have to do anything with our kitchen but we really wanted to bring some color and some sort of backsplash into the room. What I wanted, and would still really like to have whenever it happens to fall within our budget, is this:

Due to budget restraints we had to go in a different, more cost efficient, route and so I thought it might be fun to do a chalkboard backsplash. We’re a young family and we have a toddler in the house…why not?! We went with a beautiful shade of dark purple on two of the walls and are really happy with the results:

The chalkboard paint is something that can be purchased for less than $15 dollars at any hardware store (I purchased mine from Home Depot). Including paint and materials, I spent under $50 for this portion of the kitchen makeover. Tomorrow, in Part II, we’ll talk about our kitchen table (because it did not look that adorable when we bought it). Until then…

What’s the one room in your house you most want to give a facelift?

Mad About It Mondays: Bulldog Hardware Mounting Strips

As you know I’ve been working on some small and inexpensive home improvement projects around the house. I’ve been doing a lot of work on our kitchen (which I will be blogging about later this week) and I don’t want to leave damage on my walls. In order to avoid potential wall damage I’ve been purchasing wall mounting strips. You may remember that I used the Command product when I did my mini bathroom makeover and they’ve worked like a champ. As it turns out, the Walmart in my area doesn’t carry Command products and so I bought the Bulldog Hardware Mounting Strips instead. They were signficantly cheaper than either the Command or the Scott brands and so I thought that might be a nice way to save money while doing projects around the house. If you haven’t already figured it out, let me be the first to tell you that sometimes you get what you pay for.

When will I be purchasing the Bulldog Mounting strips? Never again. Ever. I had a few different things to hang but I’ll start with the “heaviest” (not that heavy) which was two small strips of painted wood with four magnets attached to each. The idea was to hang C’s artwork for display on these pieces. At most, each piece weighs about two pounds which shouldn’t be an issue for quality mounting tape. Just to be on the safe side, I went ahead and used much more than I ever thought I’d even need and hung it up. The next items that I hung weighed in at maybe a half pound each, so very light. Even then, I went ahead and used the product on all four sides and in the middle and hung the three pieces of that particular item up. The kitchen looked great and I was really proud…until all the pieces I used that crappy product on started falling to the ground.

I imagine that this is what the makers over at Bulldog Hardware do all day as they try to come up with products that do nothing but fall to the ground:

I thought maybe it was user error and so I tried again and let the wall mounting tape attach for a few hours before using the pieces. Same thing happened. At that point I realized it was most definitely not an error on my part, unless you consider it an error that I purchased that brand in the first place. There are some things in life that the name brand is worth the extra price for: Oreos, Peanut Butter, Pop Tarts, Mac n’ Cheese, and wall mounting strips. If you’re considering an improvement project in your home, take my advice and do not purchase the Bulldog Hardware Mounting Strips. You will regret it.

 

 

 

Rah Rah Rah! Pom Poms for Toddlers- A Tutorial

I had big dreams for what I planned to make for C’s second Halloween (last year we dressed her as the most adorable watermelon you’ve ever seen). Several months ago, I saw an Audrey Hepburn costume made from ribbon and tulle. I told myself that’s what I would make. As with many of the big craft ideas I have from time to time, I set my sights too high and I found myself re-evaluating my options a couple of weeks ago. By now you might be wondering what C is going to dress as this year…She’s going to be a Mizzou (Missouri) Cheerleader. Cop-out much!? I wanted to throw in a little creativity to this costume and so I decided I would make her some pom-poms to go with her outfit. We’ll be attending a “Trunk-Or-Treat” event tomorrow night and our car will be decorated with some great craft projects that I’ll blog about later. For now, I want to talk about the pom-poms.

In case you weren’t aware, toddlers and paper materials (like tissue paper) don’t mix. Truth. Fact. So my original idea was not going to work:

I planned to use a hot glue gun (lookout!) to attach a mixture of yellow, black, and white tissue paper strips onto the cardboard from a roll of paper towels. If you have older kids, I think that would work but for those of us with younger children here’s what I came up with:

You’ll need to purchase your desired colors in soft pipe cleaners (or as I like to call them “the bendy fabric things”). Our local Walmart carried every color but yellow (go figure) so I opted for white and black:

I wanted to make the pom-poms as toddler friendly as possible so I made them into little “bracelets” (that way C can be hands free while trunk-or-treating):

Next I took the remaining pipe cleaners and twisted them around a pen that I had handy:

Then I attached them to the wristlets to complete the “pom-pom”:

Even though they don’t look like traditional pom-poms, I think they’re pretty cute. Most importantly, they’re safe for my toddler and they’re something I don’t have to worry about her destroying before we head out the door.

Happy Halloween!

The Guest Bathroom: A Quick Fix

I should start by saying that our guest (/primary) bathroom wasn’t bad before but I’ve been wanting to do something to make it a little more user-friendly. We live in a 3 bedroom 2 (soon to be 2 1/2) bath house that was built new when we moved into it in 2009. We love our house but we’re finally starting to turn it from a house into a home. We started by painting and adding a chalkboard backsplash in the kitchen and are making progress in other rooms in the house (we’ll be finishing our basement in November). All that said, our “guest” bathroom (which is the one used most often in this house both by our family and by friends and family who visit) is pretty small and I wanted to utilize what little wall space I have better. Take a look:

Here’s what it looked like before…

Please excuse the cookies on the toilet we’re trying to introduce potty training to our toddler (I’ll post a blog about that down the road).

What I wanted to do was put up a couple of baskets on the wall above the toilet to hold extra bathroom tissue and guest towels in addition to introducing a little more color in the room. I tend to be a little nervous when it comes to putting things on the wall and so I wanted to be careful to find a way to hang baskets without damaging the area. I came across some great little Command damage free hanging hooks at the store that were (I think) a good price.

I got a set of 6 hooks for just under $9.00 and already had the baskets on hand. The set of towels and bath mat was about $22 total so this entire project was pretty cost efficient for me.

The hooks fit in really nicely on the back of the baskets and, even though it’s probably a ‘no no’, I went ahead and attached them onto the basket before putting the hooks on the wall because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afterwards.

The instructions said to wait an hour before use and so I took that time to give the bathroom a deep clean (which, as it turns out, was much-needed). I hung up the new towels and placed the new bath mat.

Here’s the end result: