Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Keep Water Spots Off Your Fixtures (& Other Tips)

I'm not ticky about everything, but I cannot STAND water spots on my fixtures.  It drives me crazy to have spotty, splotchy handles and spouts.  I have tried different polishes, different cleaners, all sorts of things.  Then I started trying unconventional things....dryer sheets (did ok actually), baby oil (epic fail), and many more.

I thought the dryer sheets were going to be the best I could do...they did pretty darn well actually and would be a good use if you don't keep the winner around typically.

The winner was WAX PAPER!  I took a small scrap of wax paper and rubbed it, waxy side down, on my fixtures after they were cleaned and dried.  It created a thin, water resistant, wax coating on them and kept the water from drying in spots everywhere.

The dryer sheets do this same thing, but the residue they leave is a little different and wears off quicker.

I would not recommend using this on your stainless steel appliances.  It is such a big surface that I couldn't get the coating even and it just looked like a dull film on them.  But on smaller surfaces like fixtures...PERFECTION!

If you don't keep wax paper in the house and need to justify purchasing it, here are a few other uses for wax paper:

Loosen dirt from garden tools.  The sticky wax surface grabs dirt and pulls it right off while providing a waxy rust protectant coat to tools.

Line the area above cabinets with wax paper to catch the dust, then remove every couple months or so and replace with a new piece.

Roll up squares of wax paper to use as a funnel for putting ingredients or items into jars or other small containers.

Line drawers and cabinets.  Wax paper makes a great, disposable shelf and drawer liner.  It catches dust and dirt and then can just be thrown away.

Keep a door from jamming in the frame.  If you have a door that is sticking, you can rub it down with wax paper to keep it gliding into the frame easily rather than sticking.

Keep zippers moving smoothly and unstick zippers that are frozen by rubbing the teeth down with the waxy side of wax paper.  The coating keeps the zipper moving.

Use under wood clamps to keep clamps from sticking to wood glue.

Use to catch drips from hot glue guns.

Keep candle colors from bleeding during storage by wrapping them in wax paper first.

Use to dry candies or dipped strawberries.

Use a piece of wax paper on your swiffer sweeper head to catch dirt like a dust mop.

Do you have any other uses for wax paper or any other ideas for keeping fixtures spot free?  Let me know about them right here....

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Healthy Halloween Party Snack (Cutie-Lanterns)

Every year, the kids have a Halloween party at school....every year, my daughter brings home an obscene amount of candy before we even think about going trick or treating.    I kept thinking, there has to be a better way to do this.

I was unloading the groceries last night and set a bag of clementines down on the counter next to a little jack-o-lantern my daughter had drawn.....I couldn't believe that the answer had been that easy (and that affordable) all along.

I don't know about you, but around here we can get clementines (cuties) for super cheap this time of year in bags.

I grabbed my sharpie and quickly got to work drawing little jack-o-lantern faces on all of the clementines from the bag I had just bought.  I grabbed a second marker and let my little artist help out making funny faces for our little friends.  They turned out SO STINKING ADORABLE!

I am PUMPED to send these to school for my daughter's Halloween party this year.  Each kid is going to have their own little jack-o-lantern to enjoy and NOT go into a candy induced coma!

This has to be the one time I am so glad I didn't pick up the papers from the countertop!

Have you tried this?  What did you do for your kids for their Halloween activities?  Let me know.  I love you hear from ya!

Monday, October 29, 2012

5 People, 7 Days, 21 Meals, Under $75

I have to say....even I was skeptical of whether or not I could pull this one off.  Could I really make 3 people breakfast and lunch, 4 people snacks, and 5 people for seven entire days for $75?  Why yes....apparently I can.

Here is what our menu for the week included:

Scrambled Eggs & Fruit
French Toast & Bacon
Wild Berry Muffins (from a ashamed)
Blueberry Grilled Cream Cheese "Sandwiches"
Fried Bologna, Biscuits & Fruit
Toast with Jelly
Pancakes & Fruit
(most of the breakfast fruit consisted of can get them for fairly cheap this time of year, and my kids LOVE them.  If another type of fruit is on sale in your area, use that instead)

Grilled Cheese
Hot Dog-topuses
Cheese & Crackers
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Bologna Sandwiches
(yes, I know there are only six lunches here...I clean houses once a week, so my inlaws feed the kidoodles lunch that day, but in the event that they were home, we would probably do leftovers or egg salad again)

String Cheese
Apples with PB
Carrots with ranch
String Cheese again
Celery with PB or with Ranch
Clementines again
(can substitute fruit with anything that is on sale in your area)

Tetrazini Casserole *1.87 per serving
Meat Loaf Casserole *1.96 per serving
Tuna Noodle Casserole *1.32 per serving
Beef Taco Bake *2.42 per serving
Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole *3.29 per serving
Easy Grands! Chicken Pot Pie *1.81 per serving
Bean & Bacon Soup with Noodles *1.13 per serving

Notes:  We have chickens that supply the majority of our eggs.  I make my own jelly and salsa.  I also have a well stocked pantry with most of the common items needed already available.  $75 includes purchasing a dozen eggs, but does NOT include any common pantry items that I already had available.  If your pantry is not similarly stocked, you may have a small additional expense.

Ok, so you have the you need recipes for the not so obvious menu items....

Blueberry Grilled Cream Cheese Sandwiches (recipe for one sandwich)

two slices bread
1 Tbsp cream cheese
1 Tbsp powdered sugar
handful of fresh or frozen blueberries (i used frozen that had been collected over the summer)

Mix cream cheees and powdered sugar together & spread on one side of each slice of bread.  Sprinkle berries onto cream cheese and press slices together to make a sandwich.  Use butter to lightly coat the outside of both sides of your sandwich.  Grill in a pan or in a sandwich press until golden brown.  Serve with additional powdered sugar topping if desired.

Hot Dog-topuses

Hot dogs
Spaghetti Noodles
Butter and Salt to taste

Slice hot dogs into chunks.  Poke spaghett noodles into the hot dog.  Boil according to pasta directions, salting water to taste.  Drain, add butter to taste, serve.

Supper recipes are dead serious from knew?  I made substitutions for store brand wherever it saved money.

My Shopping List: (please note that not all items needed are listed here...only the items that I had to purchase...make sure you review the recipes and meal list before making your own list)

2 gallons milk
1 tub cream cheese
sliced cheese
string cheese
hot dogs
chicken breasts
Tyson grilled chicken breast strips
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can golden mushroom soup
2 cans bean and bacon soup
1 can vegetable soup
1 can tomato soup
2 cans Progresso thick and hearty chicken pot pie style soup (yeah, that is pretty specific)
1 small can sliced mushrooms
1 can of cubed chicken
1 small jar pimientos
2 cans tuna
muffin mix
frozen peas
frozen mixed veggies
frozen biscuits

Happy shopping and happy cooking!  I hope this helps your family the way it helped mine!

Have you tried this or other budget meal plans?  Let me know about it! I love to hear from you!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Photo Shelves (2 for under $10)

I HATE drilling holes in the walls!  I don't hate it because I am making a hole.  I hate it because inevitably I end up changing my mind on where something should go or what should hang there.  That means I have to fill the hole, paint the hole, and make a new hole.  So frustrating!

These easy and affordable photo shelves are the perfect solution.  Now I can move frames around on the shelves, change out photos easily, and decorate for the seasons if I want without unnecessary damage to my lovely walls!

What you need:
2- 1"x3"x8' boards
1- 1"x2"x8' board
80-120 grit sanding block
1 1/2" long wood screws
Stain or paint of your choice
Liquid Nails or other wood glue

I had the lovely men at my favorite big blue store cut these boards in half for me.  If you just want to do the extra work...go ahead and cut these in half.

Tip on selecting boards:  Your life will go so much easier if you select a board that is straight and has very little rough to the edges.  Otherwise, this whole project may be just a teency bit harder.

The 1x2 was $1.97 and the 1x3s were $2.97.  I had the screws, liquid nails, and some stain around the house.  That means that I built TWO of these awesome shelves for around $8! here is what you do:

If you didn't have your nice boys in blue do it for you, cut your boards clean in half.

Mark and predrill holes in each of your backboard pieces at 1/4" from the long edge spaced evenly.  I used five holes for each backboard.  Make sure you have a hole fairly close to each end.

One you have predrilled your holes, line your backboard up with the shelf board making an L shape.  Attach the board securely with wood screws.  Repeat with the other shelf.

Now attach the 1x2 pieces across the front of the shelf board with liquid nails.  This board will not need to support significant weight as it serves as a simple ledge for your shelf.  You could substitute a piece of thin decorative molding of your choice, but you will pay more for that option.  You should now have a modified U shaped shelf.  Let the liquid nails dry and set overnight before you continue.  You may want to use clamps to hold the piece in place.  I just wedged it against a wall.

Once the liquid nails is dry and your shelf ledge is secure, use your sanding block or sandpaper to sand down all of the rough edges and soften any sharp points. Vacuum or blow away any sanding particles and wipe your project with a barely damp cloth to remove any remaining particles.

Now you are ready to paint or stain your project.  I had this stain lying around.  I had originally intended to paint these white, but I think this worked out nicely.  I couldn't locate our extra white trim paint (shame, shame, I know).  Paint or stain your project as desired and let sit to dry for the recommended time (in my case 24 hours) before installing.

It is important to plan out where you want your shelves.  You want to make sure that mine were screwed into wall studs so that if you ever decide to put anything heavy on them, you are good to go.  Put a piece of tape onto the wall where you want your shelves.  Find the studs, marking the tape where they are located.  After that simply tape the tape onto the backboard of the shelves to predrill your holes and then screw the shelves to the wall.  Don't worry about being able to see these screws...once you have things on the shelves, you won't see them at all.

Now, just throw together the items you want!  I picked items all of the same color, but this would also look great with bright, contrasting colors.  Laney loved these so much she has requested them in their room.  I may be making shelves for their birthday girl collections soon.

Now, get out there and try it!!  Let me know if you tried this project at your house.  Pictures welcome!  I love to hear from you.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

DIY Liquid Foaming Hand Soap

Making my own liquid hand soap is just the latest project in my quest to live cheaper.  The more items that I make for myself, the more I feel ripped off having to buy anything premade.  Making household items yourself brings such a sense of accomplishment.  Especially when you can do it yourself for so much cheaper than buying.

I looked all over for a recipe that I liked, toyed around with the ingredients, and came up with a plan.

Here is what you need:
1 gallon of water, tap is fine
1 bar (4oz.) all natural bar soap, I used Dial Naturals with a tangerine guava scent
2 Tbsp. glycerin

Start by heating your water in a large pot.  While the water is heating up, go ahead and grate your soap.  Once the water comes just to a boil, remove it from the heat and add the grated soap.

Stir until all of the soap is competely dissolved.

Mix in the glycerin with a hand mixer.  I didn't picture the hand mixer step because I am not that coordinated.  :o)  This will serve as a skin protector and moisturizer. as well as helping the consistency of your soap.  I recommend beating the mixture on low for about 2 minutes.  Just don't create too many bubbles.

Let the mixture sit overnight.  Some gelling may occur.  This is fine.  Use your hand mixer again for another 2-3 minutes. 

Now your soap is ready to pour into whatever storage container you choose until time to use it.

Note: The consistency of this recipe is really runny the first day you make it, but thickens up the next day. 


Did you do this at your house?  Have a recipe you use different from this one?  Let me know about it.  I love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bathroom Closet Organization

The hidden spaces in our homes are often very neglected in terms of organization as well as in terms of style.  We think that style doesn't matter since we are the only ones who see the space.  Not true, I say!  In fact, I will tell you that since I organized my bathroom cabinet area in a stylish way, I feel much more compelled to keep it organized and tidy.  Even though nobody else sees that space (until now), making it stylish makes me feel better.

Everything I used for this project, I already had in my home.

I started from the top and worked my way down so that I could clean it well as I was working.  Before starting to organize each of my bathroom spaces, toilet paper was stored in a single location in a hall closet.  It was kind of a pain to run to the hallway every time you need to get a new roll.  I relocated a stash of toilet paper to each bathroom.  Here, you see that I stored the toilet paper stash for this bathroom on the top shelf.  Don't tell my kids, but there are a few Christmas presents stashed behind there for safe keeping.  :o)

On the next shelf, I decided to store Qtips and cotton balls in glass containers so I could get to them quickly and easily.  Next to those you can see a hand carved, wooden trinket box that belonged to my grandmother.  Inside that box is a stock of feminine items.  No need to keep those awful paper boxes.  In front of the box is a jade elephant that belonged to my husband's aunt.  I think it gives the cabinet flair.  This elephant migrates through the house.  He started in the living room on the book shelves, then moved to our bedroom dresser, now he lives here.  I'm sure he'll move again before it is all said and done.

On the next shelf, you can see that I have rolled wash rags up and placed them into an enamel ware chamber pot that I purchased about 4 years ago.  Next to that is an enamel ware plate that was my grandmother's.  Inside that plate are tweezers, nail clippers and nail files (not visible).

Finally, on the bottom shelf, I grabbed a wooden basket that we had shoved into a closet somewhere.  I rolled our towels up for attractive storage and easy access.

Who says that functional storage can't also be attractive?  I hope this inspires some stylish organizing at your house.

Let me know about your organization projects!  I love to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Baked Bead Suncatcher Project

This is a fun project to do with the kids any time of the year.  I love adorning the outside of the house, especially when the kids have a hand in it.  These also make really great gifts for grandparents.

Here is what you need:
Plastic Pony Beads (we used pearlized brights and glow in the dark)
Cupcake and/or Cake Pans
Fishing Line
Either small metal grommets or a dremel tool
Dowel Rod

Now that you have gathered your supplies, let's get started.

Lay your pans out on your work surface.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is preheating, let the kids place pony beads in a single layer in the bottom of your pan or tins.  Let them put the beads in whatever format they want.  This makes for an original piece of art.  If you want these to be more clear, you need to use more clear beads.  We used the glow in the dark ones because they are colored, but very transparent.

Once the kiddos have arranged the beads the way they want, you need to check to make sure they are in a single layer and pop them into the oven.  If you have chosen to use metal grommets to leave a space for the fishing line to string through, you will put a grommet in the place of one bead.  We didn't do that.  We are just going to drill holes later in the process.

Bake these for 20-30 minutes, until the beads melt down and make one solid disk.  The house will definitely smell like melting plastic, so it is best to do this on a day when you can open the windows if the smell is something that will bother you.

Once the beads are melted down, you will need to pop them out of the oven and let them cool completely.  Then, if you have not used a grommet, you will drill a small hole to string the fishing line through.

You can hang a larger disk by itself or string several smaller disks suspended from a small section of dowel rod for a different look.  These can be used both indoors and outdoors to catch light.

This little one was my two year old's solo work.  You can see the gaps between some of the beads.

Did you do this project?  Have a different idea?  Let me know.  I love to hear from you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Owl Cupcakes Tutorial

The first time I made these adorable little owls was three years ago for a cupcakepalooza birthday celebration held for a dear friend where I used to work.  We each were tasked with bringing in cute or delicious cupcakes to mark the event.  I thought these little owls were perfect...and they were!

These are great for any fall event.  In fact, I recently prepared them for a family day our church held.  Everyone absolutely has a fit over them any time I show up with them.  The kids especially get a kick out of them.

Here is what you need:
Cupcake Mix (or a recipe of your choice)
Cupcake Liners (I used purple here)
Chocolate Frosting
Oreo Cookies
M&M candies
Star decorator tip
Decorator bag or ziploc bag (I use a ziploc and easy)

Once you have gathered your supplies, you are ready to get started.  Go ahead and bake your cupcakes according to the directions and let them cool.  While you are waiting for the cupcakes to cool, begin taking apart the oreo cookies.  You will need to use the sides with the may do whatever you want with the plain sides (my husband and kids love being around when I am working on these to clean up the cast off cookies)

Now that your cupcakes are cool, you will put your star tip into your ziploc bag and fill the bag with chocolate frosting.  Make little dots of frosting close together all over the cupcake tops, pulling away to make a feather like texture.

Now place two oreos, cream side up, onto the cupcakes.

Place a small dot of frosting on the back of two M&Ms, and place them onto the oreos.  I like letting the owls have different colored eyes for personality.  For silly owls, make each eye a different color or make the eyes point different directions.  The kids fight over the unique ones.

Finally, take orange M&Ms (candy corn looks cute here too) and place them onto the cupcake to form a nose for each owl.

VOILA!  You have the most adorable dessert to serve at any fall event.  Give yourself a hand.

Did you try these?  Let me know! I love to hear from you.