DIY Valentine’s Day Wreath

vdaywreath1

Okay, so I know I’ve been skipping around a lot as far as my posts go and I’m doing my best to finish up those featuring Baby P’s First Birthday Bash so that I can finally share that with you. However,  in the meantime I want to share a cute little Valentine’s Day inspired wreath I whipped up last week because believe it or not, just because I don’t post my holiday décor in correct holiday order doesn’t mean that I am not actually decorating in a timely fashion, lol. This wreath is similar to my DIY Mini-Pennant Banner Wreath that I made last spring and is super easy to create! Since we were headed up to DC to visit friends for MLK weekend I wanted to go ahead and get my Valentine’s Day stoop all set up before we left and wanted to stick to what I knew when it came to my décor and keep it simple. Here is a quick little tutorial for my Valentine’s Day wreath just in time for Valentine’s Day, it’s so quick and easy that you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it even though the 14th is just a few short weeks away 🙂

vdaywreath2

Valentine’s Day stoop with my sweet little frog photo-bombing! Like my GIANT “XOXO” sign? You can find the tutorial on how to make your own for $9 here!

SUPPLIES

  • 18″ Styrofoam wreath frame (available at local craft stores)
  • 2″ wide ribbon of your choice – I went with a red and beige chevron which I found at Hobby Lobby. This wreath required about 2 1/4 spools of ribbon but it may be more or less depending on the ribbon you choose.
  • 2-3″ wired burlap ribbon
  • twine
  • scrap fabric – the amount will depend on how many fabric roses you want on your wreath
  • glue gun & hot glue
  • small stencils
  • black acrylic paint
  • paint brush
  • scissors

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1: Begin by wrapping your ribbon around your Styrofoam wreath, securing with little lines of hot glue along the way.

Step 2: Once your wreath is covered cut small pennants using your wired burlap ribbon. NOTE: you can also use regular burlap if you have that on hand, I have just found that the wired burlap holds up better to the elements for me as I do not have a storm door. Next, using your small stencils and acrylic paint, paint each letter of L-O-V-E individually onto each of your pieces and allow to dry.

Step 3: In the mean time, create your fabric flowers, for a detailed tutorial on these adorable flowers check out this post. Once you have the amount of flowers that you desire use hot glue to secure them to the bottom right quadrant of your wreath (or wherever you’d like, this is just how I placed them). NOTE: If you do not have the time or will to create your own flowers you can buy ready made fabric flowers from your local craft store but PLEASE try making them yourself, I promise it is super easy!

Step 4: Since your pennants should be dry by now, use hot glue to attach them carefully to your piece of twine then securing your mini pennant banner to the upper left area of your wreath by wrapping the ends of the twine around the body of the wreath then securing it with a tiny dot of hot glue on the back (or just knotting it in back).

Step 5: This is optional, but if you’re so inclined go ahead and fashion a bow out of any left over ribbon and attach it to the bottom center of your wreath using hot glue. Just adds a little extra somethin’ 🙂

THAT’S IT! There are so many ways to customize this by changing up the colors or saying. I look forward to coming back to this wreath for future holidays and simply changing up the theme!

A picture of our new doormat - just for funsies :)

A picture of our new doormat – just for funsies 🙂

DIY Invitations & Greeting Cards – Without Photoshop!

invite4

So while I’m on a roll with sharing my all of my posts related to Baby P’s birthday, I will share another little DIY trick that has come in super handy for me this past year – designing my own invitations and greeting cards! Now, I’ll start by saying one of my goals for the next year (or couple of years if I continue to be as computer illiterate as I currently am, haha) is to learn to use Photoshop to it’s full extent but for now my abilities are extremely limited. So when it came time to design an invitation for J’s surprise 30th (another post that I planned on getting up, oh, about six months ago and have still not gotten around to, lol) I had three choices: (a) become proficient in Photoshop in three days time, (b) purchase an over-priced invitation via Etsy or other online retailer or (c) make one myself using the tools I had at my disposal (spoiler alert: Microsoft Word and Staples print services, lol). Since choices a and b were off the table from the get-go, I remembered that I had very frequently used Microsoft Word to create marketing materials that we didn’t want to pay to outsource when I was working for a gym, so why couldn’t I just apply that same idea to my invitation? I figured I’d give it a try. So while a then six month-old Baby P (*sigh*) napped away in his baby swing, I quickly (and very easily, I might add) created J’s invitation. Once I had gotten the confirmation from others that it actually looked good (not just in my head, lol) I took it up to my local Staples print center and had them printed up on 5X7 high quality cardstock for the cost of about $7.00 for 15! For anyone that has ever purchased cards from Shutterfly, Wedding Paper Divas or another online card retailer, I don’t have to tell you that under forty cents a card is a steal!

Additionally, sometimes the freedom to customize the card to your liking and be able to run up and get extras at your convenience is savings enough. So after my success with J’s invitation I proceeded to use this same idea for a friend’s baby shower invitations, Baby P’s first birthday invites and even my 2014 Christmas card! While I’m sure there are lots of Photoshop tricks that would improve on my method drastically, if you don’t own Photoshop (or you’re like me and own it but are unsure of it’s mysterious ways, lol) this is a great method to creating some cute cards in a pinch, all you need to know are a few simple functions in Microsoft Word and then simply allow your local print store to do the rest!

NOTE: Use of Disney and other copywrited characters is legally allowed for personal use on your part (i.e. using them for your child’s birthday invitation), however, corporate print retailers like Staples will not print your cards for you if they contain these types of copywrite images as it is considered trademark infringement on their part because they would technically be profiting from your use of them. Dumb, I know, but it’s the law. I ran into this problem when creating Baby P’s invitations but was able to have my local postal annex print them for me. So before you

I will use my sweet friend K’s baby shower invite as an example, since it is an easy and trendy little design. This one came in at a cost of just about twenty cents per card since I did four to a page! Check out my post on the “Whale-of-a-Time” Diaper Cake I made for this shower as well. Obviously if you’re proficient in Photoshop this whole post is going to seem extremely silly to you, but if you’re not and are after a cute custom invite or card at a great price this is an easy alternative!

Step 1: Search various online print retailers (like Shutterfly or Tiny Prints) for design inspiration. The inspiration for this particular card actually came from Google when I was searching for whale themed baby shower invitations. Once you have found something you like, try to Google similar background images, for instance, for K’s baby shower invite I Googled “grey chevron background” and for J’s surprise 30th invite I Googled “chalkboard background”, when I found an image that I liked I saved it to my desktop so that it was easily accessible. I also did Google searches for the whale silhouette and saved them to my desktop as well.

this was my inspiration, I found it by way of a Google search for "whale baby shower invitation"

this was my inspiration, I found it by way of a Google search for “whale baby shower invitation”

Step 2: Now I was ready to download a few new fonts. For all of my projects I use http://www.dafont.com to find lots of good free fonts which are simple to download. Once you have downloaded your desired font you can easily add them to your font library by using an online or YouTube tutorial for your specific version of Windows or Mac.

Step 3: To create the actual invite I began by opening Word and inserting an object in your desired shape. NOTE: For cutting purposes a square or rectangle works best, but if you are set on a circle just be prepared to have to cut them each individually. The size of your shape does not matter, just make it large enough for you to work with, the print store will be able to print them to whatever size you want once they receive it. Select: INSERT>SHAPES>RECTANGLE

kinvite1

this is how the dropdown menu appears on Word 2013

Step 4: I then changed the background of the shape to my chevron print that I had saved earlier by selecting: FORMAT>SHAPE FILL>PICTURE and then selecting the chevron background. Then I used the same method to change the outline of the shape to none, however, if you would like a border on your invite simply select FORMAT>SHAPE OUTLINE and then select the weight and color of your shape outline.

kinvite2

Step 5: Now I added my text. This part I played around with a bit to figure out which fonts looked best together (NOTE: It usually works best to interchange script and solid fonts, fi you need more help with this there are lots of “text matching/combining” pins on Pinterest that are very helpful). When I found the ones that worked for me I added each line of text in a separate text box by selecting the following: INSERT>TEXT BOX>SIMPLE TEXT BOX. Next, I edited my text boxes so that they were transparent and had no outline, this way I was able to move different groupings of text as close or far from each other as I wanted. I did this by going to the “text format” dropdown at the top of my toolbar (pictured below) and selecting: FORMAT>SHAPE FILL>NONE and then FORMAT>SHAPE OUTLINE>NONE. The last thing I did to format my text box was to set the “text wrap” option of the text box to “tight”, as I find this to be the easiest setting for manipulating the placement of the box later on, I adjusted the text wrap option by selecting: FORMAT>WRAP TEXT>TIGHT. Now you can enter text in your text box as you wish! I know it seems like a pain to go through these steps for each individual text box SO, good news is – you don’t have to! Once you have customized one text box you can simply copy and paste that same text box as many times as needed and simply change the text within the box. Once I had created my first line of text I copied the text box and pasted it seven times, then once I had changed each text box to contain my desired text I simply manipulated them into my desired positioning.

kinvite3

Inserting the text box.

kinvite4

changing the background and outline of textbox

kinvite5

changing the text wrap option.

 

Step 6: My final step was to insert the clipart images of the whales onto my invite. This is important for creating transparency of an object, in other words, editing a clipart object that would otherwise have a colored background to be a plain object against the background of your invite or card. I found these cute little whale images via Google and originally they were just black (in a minute I will explain how I changed them to blue and grey). I pasted the image onto my document, changed the text wrap to “tight” (same method as above) and then set transparency using one of two methods, depending on how detailed your image is, since this one was easy I did the following: FORMAT>REMOVE BACKGROUND (I simply clicked the areas that I wanted to keep, the body of the whale and the water drops and then hit “keep changes”. If your image is too detailed to select each individual detail (like Baby P’s invite) you can simply select: FORMAT>COLOR>SET TRANSPERANCY and then click the background of your image to remove the background, sometimes this can cause your picture to look a bit fuzzy on the edges but depending on the background of your invite or card it probably won’t be noticeable at all. Lastly I changed the colors of my whales by selecting FORMAT>COLOR and choosing from one of the options given (see picture below).

setting transparency and changing color of image

setting transparency and changing color of image

 

That’s it! I know it sounds like a lot of steps but this invite took me about 3/4 of a naptime to create (not very long!) and once you’ve done it once it’s pretty easy to repeat for different designs.

Printing: I saved mine as a PDF file and emailed it to my local Staples print center, letting them know that I wanted to print 4 to a page on cardstock. NOTE: If you want Staples to cut your invites for you they will charge you $2.00 per cut, which doesn’t sound like very much but if you’re doing 4 to a page that makes 8 cuts and will add $16.00 to your print cost, I suggest just using their rotary cutter for free. It’s a little tedious but again, it doesn’t take very long and it looks great so my advice would be to skip the professional cutting and do it yourself.

I will eventually get around to individual posts about each of my greeting cards/invites but for now these are a few I have done

invite

J’s Surprise 30th invite – the theme was “whiskey & cigars”

 

 

 

invite2

Invite for K’s whale themed baby shower

Baby P's "Where the Wild Things Are" 1st Birthday party invite.

Baby P’s “Where the Wild Things Are” 1st Birthday party invite.

invite3

Our 2014 Christmas card! My address list is about 100 people including family and friends so each year I spend close to (if not over) $100.00 on holiday cards and this year I spent just $35 by designing this one myself!

Skinny Italian Wedding Soup

photo (11)

Could it be!? After a brutal summer of 90+ temps daily, we are finally experiencing our first bits of fall here on the NC coast, woo-hoo! Yesterday was cool and rainy, just the kind of day that calls for a good bowl of soup. I am a huge soup fan and although the hot summer didn’t have me bringing out my soup pot very often, now that fall has arrived I will be on a mission to try out a new soup each week. This week I decided to come up with my own version of Italian Wedding Soup, which I’ve never really been a fan of because mystery meatballs out of a Progresso can kind of creep me out (lol) and the canned version is really the only version I’ve known of this soup until I spotted a Pinterest recipe for it that sparked my interest. While the recipe I found looked delicious I wanted to create my own lightened up version using lean turkey instead of sausage to form the little meatballs, both because J and I try our hardest to maintain a clean diet during the week and because now that baby P is pretty much eating what we eat I try to be more mindful of the sodium content and level of process to our foods. Another reason I love my new original recipe (and soups in general, for that matter) is that it is a great way to sneak in some leafy greens and veggies and lets be honest, who doesn’t love the clean-up (or lack-there-of) that comes along with a one pot meal!? Give this a try on your next rainy day or freeze up some mini-meatballs for a quick-fix meal down the road, either way – happy soup weather to you! 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmeasan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 oz. frozen chopped spinach, prepared
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds (optional, this will just give it a more “sausage-like” taste without using the sausage)
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 cups chicken stock + 1 cup water
  • 1 cup dried orzo pasta
  • 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini or great white northern beans
  • 1 large bunch kale (or other dark leafy green, swiss chard would be great in this too!), stems removed and chopped (about 4 cups)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: Start by making your meatballs. Combine first 10 ingredients (turkey-salt and pepper) and mix by hand until just combined (don’t over mix!). Roll into small 1-inch meatballs (makes about 50!) and place on a tray or sheet pan and refrigerate until ready for use. SHORTCUT ALERT: You can prep these tiny meatballs ahead of time and freeze individually on a baking sheet lined with wax paper then transfer to a zip-lock bag once they are frozen and store for whenever you’d like to make this (or any!) soup!

Step 2: In a LARGE (emphasis on large because you will need it to fit 50 mini meatballs without overflowing, lol) dutch oven or pot, heat olive oil and add diced carrots and onion, season with salt and pepper and saute until just soft. Add the chicken stock and water to the pot and bring to a boil.

Step 3: Once soup is boiling add your mini meatballs one at a time, allow liquid to return to a boil the reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes then add your orzo pasta to the pot. Cook until pasta is done (about 5-10 more minutes) and meatballs are cooked through, then check for seasoning and add your beans and chopped kale to the pot, cook for about 5 additional minutes until the kale has wilted. Serve with extra parmesan cheese and enjoy!

IMG_0192

I’ve finally been playing around with my new DSLR camera! Super excited to get more practice on yummy recipes 🙂

Baby Rocking Chair Re-Do – My first re-upholstery project!

image (78)

One of my biggest (and smallest, lol) inspirations for so many of my DIY projects has been none other than my own baby P! Whether it be items for is nursery or coming up with ways to work all of his adorable photos into our decor (check out my DIY Rustic Picture Display!) I am thoroughly amazed by the creativity that this little guy has prompted in me. One of my latest projects was upcycling an old rocking chair that I found at a used furniture store (at the same time I picked up my old shutters that turned into my DIY shutter shelf!) for $8, actually funny story: it was actually $15 but jokingly as I was checking out I said “how about $8.00?” and the guy said “Ya know what, sure. That’s what my wife gets for making me work today instead of fishing!”, haha. Honestly, although the chair is good quality wood, in the state it was in at the time of purchase it wasn’t worth more than $8.00, haha, the seat was covered in a raggy, dirty old cowboy print cloth and smelled like old people (don’t even pretend you don’t know the smell I’m talking about, lol) but despite all of these factors I saw potential!

As soon as I got the chair home I got super motivated and removed the upholstered part of the chair as well as all of the staples that were holding it in place. I even went as far as to borrow a staple gun from a friend for the re-upholstery part of the project, but that was as far as I got before getting swept up in another project and forgetting all about the little rocker. Flash forward to last week, I had used the same paint that I was intending to use on the chair for my DIY Owl Themed Coat Rack/Hooked Sign and knew that this would be a good opportunity to get cracking on the chair.  For the fabric I chose a beautiful grey/brown chevron print decor fabric that I happened to find in the remnants bin at my local fabric store for only $7.00, making the grand total of this project just about $20.00! Now I know that a random $8 cowboy-themed rocking chair probably isn’t an option at your local thrift shop BUT lucky for you this project can be duplicated with any kid-sized chair (or an size for that matter) that you happen to find, even if it doesn’t already come with a piece to reupholster (I was able to salvage the original seat from my piece) you can absolutely fashion your own using a small piece of plywood and simply attach it to the existing seat! You will not believe how easy this project is, especially for how amazing the result. If re-upholstery seems daunting to you don’t let it deter you, I was extremely skeptical about this project as it was my first time working with upholstery but now that I know how easy it is I can’t wait to try my hand at it again! Happy stapling, watch those fingies 😉

image (74)

SUPPLIES: 

*For this project I used chalk paint (find out how I mix my own here), feel free to refer to my re-finishing wooden furniture with gel stain or latex paint posts for alternative painting methods. If you want to add a cushion to a chair that did not have one to begin with simply follow my steps below but use a piece of plywood (something cheap but sturdy), you can even have your local home improvement store cut it for you for free!

  • Kid-sized rocking chair
  • Chalk Paint – I mixed my own (refer to this tutorial to find out how I made it using a sample sized latex paint), the color is “Opera Glasses” by Valspar which is now one of my favorite paint colors as I’m always looking for a good “greige” which is oh-so popular right now.
  • Minwax Finishing Paste Wax in “Special Dark”
  • Sanding blocks or sand paper
  • Black foam paint brush
  • Manual staple gun (if you’re super hardcore and have a power stapler you can use that as well, I’m too clumsy to be around things that shoot out metal, lol)
  • Foam or fiber cushion – I used this one that I purchased at my local fabric store (with a coupon, yay!) but it is also available online via Amazon and most other retailers of fabric.
  • Fabric of your choice – the amount you will need depends on the size of your seat (you won’t need much though, I used about 1/4 of a yard!)
  • Heavy Duty All-Purpose adhesive – anything that says it will bond to most all surfaces, you can’t go wrong with E-6000 or any of those “E” adhesives or Gorilla glue)
  • Scissors

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: I began by ripping all of the original fabric and batting from the chair to reveal the frame. I kept the board that made up the seat as it was in good condition and I wanted to reuse it. I then removed all staples that remained in the wood using needle-nosed pliers.

Dirty and torn, but still promising!

Dirty and torn, but still promising!

image (79)

image (77)

Step 2: I sanded down the chair by hand using a sanding block (150-grit), while I do have an electric sander I feel some projects move quicker when they’re done by hand, especially ones with a lot of nooks and crannies like this chair. Once I had finished sanding I wiped the chair down with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust particles.

image (63)

chair post-sanding

image (62)

Step 3: Using a black foam brush (I prefer these to regular paint brushes because they don’t leave streaks) I evenly painted the top half of the chair with an even coat of my chalk paint, I then waited about 2 hours before returning to my chair, flipping it upside down and applying the first coat to the bottom. I continued in this fashion for two more coats (three total). I found this was the easiest way to paint the chair on all sides and on the bottom of rocking part.

image (64) image (65)

Step 4: Once my final coat had dried I waxed the chair by applying a thin coat of paste wax using an old rag, waiting the appropriate amount of time (15 minutes I think?) then buffing it out using another rag. At that point the re-painting part of the project was complete – yay!

image (69)

After the chair was waxed. I like that the wax gives it an antiqued look. You can also get a natural or clear wax for protection and sheen without color!

image (70)

Step 5:  I began my reupholstering part of the project by cutting a piece of fabric that was about 4-5 inches wider than the piece of wood that would make up my seat. NOTE: If you are using a thinner fabric that you think may be prone to ripping use a sander to dull down the corners of your wood or cut the tips of your corners off so that they are flat, this won’t make a difference in the look of the chair but will prevent the corners from protruding through the fabric over time. After cutting my fabric, I cut my foam piece to be just big enough to reach over the edges of my board.

image (67) image (68)

Baby P playing peek-a-boo with the fabric, lol!

Baby P playing peek-a-boo with the fabric, lol!

Step 6: Once all of my components were ready I laid my fabric face down, my foam piece atop it in the center and then my wooden seat atop the foam. This step is best done using two people but if you’re all by your lonesome just use your knees to secure the board in place while you tighten and staple – but be careful! Pull one edge of the fabric taught over the edge of the wood and make sure that the foam will wrap nicely around the edge of the wood, if you are happy with the way it looks staple along the edge of the wood, about 2- 3 inches in, I used about six staples per side for good measure! NOTE: The corners will be a little trickier so do your edges first and then your corners last because you may need to manipulate and fold them a bit to get them right.

Step 7: After I made my cushion I trimmed any excess fabric from the bottom that was sticking out too much. Then I was ready to bond my seat to the base of the chair. I did so by applying a generous amount of adhesive to the bottom of the cushion (not too close to the edges, you do not want it oozing out!) and to the base of the chair where the cushion was to be attached, then pressed down firmly to secure it. You may want to place a book or something else flat and heavy on top the seat to hold it in place as it dries (this would be a great job for a kid in time-out! Just kidding, haha). Voila! Finished and beautiful and ready for baby P’s adorable squishy butt to sit on it 🙂

image (71)

Finished product!

NOTE: An optional Step 8 would be to add decorative upholstery nails or trim along the edge where your seat meets your chair. My hubby was opposed to this idea so I left the chair as is (and it looks just adorable without them so it is not necessary to do this by any means). However, this is a great way to add a little extra flare or elegance to your chair and to hide the area where the seat meets the chair.

image (80)

The most rewarding part of this project was seeing how much baby P loved the rocker, which completely took me by surprise because I was sure he wouldn’t want anything to do with it because it’s just a chair, however he loves rocking it and sitting in it and when he sees it he gets so excited, points and says “this! this!”. What a warm feeling to have my crafts appreciated by even the tiniest of people 🙂

image (82) image (87) image (88)

 

 

Rustic Burlap “Autumn” Pennant Banner

photo (8)

So as I’ve mentioned, last year I made a commitment to myself to keep up with my holiday and seasonal decor. As a kid my Mom always put a lot of time (that she didn’t have) and effort into decorating my childhood home for the holidays and I’d like to do the same for baby P and any other future children I may have. Since in my opinion it’s a tad early for Halloween decor (it still feels like summer!) I thought I’d get my decorating started with a few easy fall themed pieces that compliment our regular home decor. This pennant banner is super easy to create and is both fun and elegant and most importantly – cheap! Mine cost about $3.00 to create. Happy fall, now go make a cute pennant banner to celebrate 🙂

pennantbur

This project was inspired by my DIY Rustic Pennant Banners that I use for party decor, follow this link to see how you can jazz up your next event!

My fall version!

My fall version!

SUPPLIES:

  • Burlap – the amount you need depends on what you would like your banner to say and how many letters it will contain, but you will likely need less than 1/4 of yard which will cost you about $1.00-$2.00.
  • Twine
  • Brown acrylic paint
  • Small paint brush
  • Large stencils – I used my reusable stencils that I used to create my DIY Rustic Burlap Pennant Banners, they are available at Staples.
  • scrap fabric (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Scrap paper

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: Begin by creating a pattern out of scrap paper (I just used a piece of computer paper out of my recycling bin) in whatever shape you would like your pennants to be. I chose a square shape with an inverted triangle at the bottom which measured about 7″ wide by 10″ long.

I made sure that my letter fit atop the pattern.

I made sure that my letter fit atop the pattern.

Step 2: Once you have your pattern, use it as a guide and use a marker to trace as many as you need onto the back of your burlap then cut them out.

photo 2 (4)photo 3 (4)

Step 3: After all of your pieces have been cut. Use your stencils and acrylic paint to apply your letters to the tops of the burlap using your small paint brush. Use a generous amount of paint. Set aside to dry.

Step 4: Once your letters have dried use your scissors to poke a small hole in either end of each of the tops of the pennants through which you will thread a piece of twine. At this point if you wish you can dab some mod podge on the ends of your pennants to keep them from fraying but since mine was going to be up high out of tiny finger reach (lol) I didn’t bother.

Step 5 (optional): If you want to add little fabric tassels to the ends to jazz it up use the same method I used in creating my Scrap Fabric Banner but instead with a few pieces knotted together.

IMG_0168 IMG_0167

Our Favorite Meatloaf Recipe

photo (7)

When it comes to comfort food I’m a huge fan. Lucky for my waistline my hubby doesn’t share my love for comfort food so we don’t really indulge in it too often, however, the one thing I do require that we eat on occasion in order to satisfy my comfort food fix is meatloaf. I love a good meatloaf, partly because I love anything that you can put ketchup on (lol) but also because it’s kind of an all-in-one type meal (since I include lots of veggies in mine). That being said I have tried out a lot of recipes for “the loaf” (as my hubby refers to it, ha) trying to find one that would magically convert J to a meatloaf lover like me. While I am still yet to have him go ga-ga over a plate of meatloaf this recipe below is the one that I’ve had the most success with. I am a huge fan of this recipe because I was successfully able to use beef with a lower fat content and still achieve a nice moist meatloaf! Additionally I include lots of veggies and top it a special glaze (that is also great on chicken!) that yields a yummy caramelized crust. I am also happy to report that this recipe was baby P approved 🙂

Baby P enjoying some meatloaf for lunch! Did I mention it makes great leftovers? :)

Baby P enjoying some meatloaf for lunch! Did I mention it makes great leftovers? 🙂

 

INGREDIENTS

FOR MEATLOAF:

  • 1.5 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

FOR GLAZE:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. oregano
  • juice of half of a lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Begin by dicing your veggies, then heat about 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a pan and add onion, garlic, peppers, zucchini, thyme and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until just soft, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.

Step 2: In  a bowl combine beef, pork, parsley, eggs, panko, parmesan cheese, ketchup, salt, pepper and cooked veggies. Mix by hand until just combined, don’t over mix.

Step 3: To make glaze combine all ingredients and mix together, set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a sheet pan covered with parchment paper form meatloaf into a log (mine was about 10″ long), baste with some of the glaze and bake for about 1 hour, basting again halfway through cook time. Once meatloaf has finished cooking, allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

photo 2 (2)

I serve mine with mashed potatoes, yumm!!!

 

Adapted from Food Network

Documenting Baby P’s First Year – Month 11

photo 21

Baby P is 11 months old! How did that happen?! I can’t believe I will have a one year old in less than a month, it’s so bitter sweet because while I am loving how he has become such a fun little boy I still miss him being a squishy baby. This past month alone he has become even more of a little person, he is even starting to form his first little words, in addition to “Mama” and “Dada” he now says “this” and “that” (words that are usually accompanied by a little finger pointing frantically at the object of interest, lol), he is even beginning to be able to mimic words we say, although he doesn’t know what he is saying, haha. He still loves the outdoors, animals (dogs especially!) and nature in general, we genuinely feel bad when we bring him back indoors after playing outside because he looks so sad, ha! We are also enjoying his love of food as he much prefers to share what J and I are eating than his own food (which is fine by me, less time spent making separate meals for him, lol). Here he is with his football themed chalkboard (since it’s still 90 degrees here almost everyday I thought doing a fall themed board would be a little premature, ha!), sporting one of my DIY tie onsies in support of his favorite team – the NY Giants, duh! If you love these chalkboard updates as much as I do check out his other boards for birth-six months, seven months, eight months, nine months and ten months as well as all of my pregnancy chalkboards. Next chalkboard update will be for baby P’s one year marks, somebody pinch me! 🙂

photo 11

I should have redone the lettering but it was midnight and I was tired 😛

photo 31

Happy little frog!

photo 2 (1)

I wanted to get the football in the picture but he was more interested in throwing it, lol.

photo 1

He was super excited!

Meal Planning – Week of Aug. 31st

Eeeek! So as I predicted I am way behind on posting our weekly meal plans as the last two weeks have been kind of crazy! Unfortunately when choosing to cook or craft it’s either feast or famine at the Schulze home – I’m either crafting up a storm and relying on our favorite no-fuss meals to get us through the week or I put my crafts on hold and take the time to try out new recipes. If you’ve been following my last few posts you’ll see that the past two weeks have undoubtedly been crafting weeks. I did however, get the opportunity to participate in two meal trains for new mamas last week so I plan to make a post on meal trains soon! This week the pace has slowed down a bit and although I’ve still got lots of projects in the works, I did take some time to try out a few new recipes so I’m happy to share this week’s meals with you!

SUNDAY // Ordered In  – Since Monday was a holiday I was eager to keep my crafting buzz going and not be bothered with cooking on Sunday evening, so Chinese deliver it was! 🙂

MONDAY // Tacos – Just plain old tacos! I make my taco meat by browning the meat with canned green chilies, onions and homemade taco seasoning (paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, salt and cumin).

TUESDAY // Grilled Chicken Wraps – I love turning salads into wraps. It’s a great way to work a carb into the meal and make the salad more of a whole meal. One of my favorite salads is one that I make using grilled chicken, spring mix salad, craisins, Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, bacon bits and pecans with a raspberry vinaigrette. For this night’s dinner I simply turned this salad into a wrap.

WEDNESDAY // Pasta e Fagiole Soup – I am SO happy I found and tried this recipe! It is so simple to make and absolutely delicious! Even though it has been ten thousand degrees outside this week I still couldn’t resist whipping up this soup for dinner and boy am I glad I did 🙂 I subbed turkey sausage for regular Italian sausage. NOTE: If you want to make it super healthy just brown up some ground turkey sausage then add some salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and fennel – this way you omit the fat of the sausage (even turkey sausage is pretty fatty) but still achieve those sausage flavors.

THURSDAY // Slow Cooker Beef & Broccoli – This is one of my favorites. It’s super simple and great to cook up when you’re craving take out. It only requires a few ingredients and can be prepped the night before.

FRIDAY // Miso Glazed Salmon – Help! I’ve created a monster! lol. Ever since I made this recipe for my hubby a few weeks ago, he requests it anytime I suggest we have fish! However,  I hardly mind – t’s hard to argue with a recipe that is so healthful and delicious!

SATURDAY // Inside-Out Jalapeno Popper Burgers – Finally a new original recipe! As I mentioned I have been seriously slacking when it comes to my creativity in the kitchen but I like to think that this recipe helped me to redeem myself a bit. It is super delicious and the perfect lightened-up gourmet style burger just in time for football season. If you’re like me and are always torn on whether or not you should order an appetizer and a meal, now you can have both! 🙂

To see more of my favorite recipes check out my “Tried and True Recipes” board on Pinterest!

DIY Fabric Covered Photo Mat – Made from a Cereal Box!!!

fabmat4

Who doesn’t love free stuff? I actually have quite a few “free” projects in the works currently that I’m super excited about, but for now I’ll share this one with you as it was part of our gallery wall which I will reveal soon! This project actually happened by accident when I realized that the frame I was using wasn’t a standard photo frame and I was going to need to cut a photo mat to fit it. Since the piece of art (I shouldn’t say art, it was a weird picture of a cat or something, lol) that was originally in the frame had an ivory mat around it I was going to have J cut it to fit using a box cutter. Of course he misunderstood me (anybody else have an issue with their men having selective hearing when it comes to their crafting requests? lol) and cut the wrong part of the mat, rendering the part I needed useless. Boo-hoo! It was time to come up with a plan B, which I thought would be just to buy and cut a standard mat to size but then I realized that a standard mat wouldn’t fit this frame either (gahh!). Just as I was getting super frustrated and about to ax the use of that particular frame altogether, I remembered that I had seen a picture mat that somebody had covered in fabric by simply mod podging fabric onto a plain picture mat. Now, that still didn’t solve my problem of not having the right mat size, but if I thought that if I could only find a thin cardboard to fashion my own mat I could take advantage of my left over fabric from past projects. I knew that a poster board cut to size would work just fine but in the interest of not having to traipse into town to get one I thought to myself “what do I have in the house that is of similar thickness/material to a poster board?” and then it came to me – a cereal box!!! About a half hour and a little mod podge later I had myself another fancy photo mat (check out my first DIY photo mat here) that not only matched the fabric on our side-light window panels but was free!!! All it required was a little thinking outside of the “box”, so to speak (get it? cereal box, ha.ha.ha). I hope this inspires a free photo mat on your end (you need not use a cereal box like I did, any thin cardboard will do) and should you not have the need for a photo mat right now, keep this one in mind as a great DIY gift opportunity come the holidays!

I'll have plenty of more frame projects in the works if I keep catching more adorable moments like this! These two melt my heart <3

I’ll have plenty of more frame projects in the works if I keep catching more adorable moments like this! These two melt my heart ❤

 

DIY FABRIC PHOTO MAT

SUPPLIES:

  • 1 large cereal box or poster board of some sort
  • fabric of your choice
  • mod podge (I used matte finish but it doesn’t matter what you use)
  • glue gun & hot glue
  • foam brush
  • measuring tape
  • scissors

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: If you are using a cereal box break the box down by cutting along one of the corners so that it can lay flat like a piece of cardboard. Then measure and cut four strips of equal length or four pieces that can come together to form a rectangular mat since it wont matter what your pieces look like beneath the fabric as long as the shape of the mat is even (depending on the size of your box you may not be able to get four equal pieces but rather four pieces just long enough to overlap and connect to form a rectangle). If using a poster board simply measure and draw out your mat and then cut it out already formed.

fabmat

My cereal box! In the interest of pinching our pennies I opt for “crisp rice” instead of rice krispies haha

Step 2: Once you have your four pieces connect them so that your print side (if using a cereal box) is all facing one direction using hot glue to form the mat. Ignore this step if you have used a poster board and your mat is ready to go. Now you are ready to measure and add your fabric!

fabmat1

ensuring that it fits in the frame

fabmat2

Step 3:  Measure your fabric by laying the fabric print side down (upside down) and laying your mat on top, use a pencil or pen to mark an area just a tad bit larger than your mat size or enough to be folded over the edges (I will explain in the subsequent steps). Once you have marked your rectangle on the fabric, cut it out using your scissors (this should be obvious but keep the rectangle in tact! To cut the center simply puncture a hole in the center of your fabric and cut along the insides).

Step 4: Place your mat so that the non-print side is facing up and lay your fabric cut out over the mat to make sure that it will line up correctly. In each of the inner and outer corners cut a small slit that extends from the edge of the fabric to the corner of the mat (this is so your fabric can be tucked underneath without puckering at the corners).

Step 5: Now you are ready to attach the fabric to the mat. Using your foam brush, brush a generous amount of mod podge onto the mat surface and then lay your fabric atop it and press down to secure. Some mod podge will likely seep through the fabric, this is fine, simply use your foam brush to brush it off so that it doesn’t form clumps. At this point your fabric will still be larger than necessary for the mat but allow it to dry this way before moving onto the next step.

Step 6: Once your fabric has dried for the most part, turn your mat upside down and use hot glue to attach your fabric’s edges to the underneath of the mat, making sure to pull it tightly so that isn’t loose along the edges and holds to the mat securely.

Step 7: Now turn your mat back over and add another coat of mod podge to the top of the fabric, ensuring that you are adding and even layer and are not allowing it to pool or clump along the top. Allow it to dry and you are ready to use it in your frame!!! Ta-da!!! 

fabmat5

My DIY frame displayed on our gallery wall!

 

To see more of our family pictures from baby P’s 6 month photo session see this post! 

 

DIY Painted Plastic Planters

pot

When we moved into our house on base I was pretty set on not doing anything to spruce up the landscaping. After all we are technically renting this house, so what bigger waste of money than to landscape somebody else’s property? Well after about one week of staring at the ugly, weed infested pine straw “garden bed” that lies around the front of the house, my will to want my home (renting or not) to look it’s best got the better of me and I decided we needed to do something to spruce it up even if it was just changing out the pine straw for mulch.

In my landscaping-on-a-budget post I discussed how we went about sprucing up our Honey Tree home with basically empty pockets, so we decided to apply the same principals here to make our new happy little home look a little more happy on the outside. I will most likely be posting about our new little landscaping project in detail but for now I wanted to share my little pièce de résistance of my outdoor decor – my painted plastic planters! These were inspired by a pair of painted terracotta pots I found on Pinterest (see picture below) and had the terracotta pots at Lowes been on sale I probably would have duplicated the project exactly, but at clearance prices of $2.99 and $1.49 and I couldn’t resist purchasing the large plastic containers that I ended up using instead. Another reason this project had me so giddy, is that since I already had spray paint on hand all that I needed besides the pots were a few plants and of course I chose perennials so that I could enjoy my little plastic wonder pots year round 🙂 This project can absolutely be done using any kind of planter, or better yet planters that are already black in color, I just chose to go with clearance items since the black ones were full price. You can even save yourself the trouble of using a store-bought stencil by checking out my hand painted sign tutorial and using the same technique for creating a stencil using painter’s tape. Hope this inspires you to do some fall landscaping while everything is going on sale! 🙂

My Pinterest inspiration!

My Pinterest inspiration!

My version :)

My version 🙂

DIY PAINTED PLASTIC PLANTERS

WHAT I USED:

  • 2 plastic planters – 1 medium, 1 large. I purchased mine on clearance at Lowes for less than $3.00 each!
  • Black matte finish spray paint – make sure it says that it is suitable for plastic and the outdoors, something like this would be good.
  • Clear matte finish spray paint/enamel – something like this would be fine.
  • White paint – I used white latex paint that I had left over from another project.
  • Stencils – I purchased mine at Staples. If you do not want to use stencils check out my Hand Painted Sign Tutorial for an alternative stenciling method using painter’s tape.
  • Painter’s tape
  • Small paint brush

WHAT I DID:

Step 1: I began with these two medium and large sized plastic planters, in grey and blue (because that’s what they had on clearance). Since I wanted them to be black I hit them both with an even coat of flat black outdoor/plastic grade spray paint. The recommended dry time was about 15 minutes so I waited about an hour before moving on to the next step due to humidity.

pot3

I didn't bother painting the insides since the dirt would cover the interior.

I didn’t bother painting the insides since the dirt would cover the interior.

Step 2: Once my pots had dried, I secured my store bought reusable stencils (the same ones I used for my DIY Rustic Burlap Pennant Banners) to the pots using painter’s tape and used a paint brush to paint the “NO. 3347” using white latex paint. White acrylic paint will do as well, since you will be sealing it against the elements using a clear enamel it doesn’t matter whether or not the white paint is suitable for the outdoors.  FYI, this is not an exact science, once I removed the stencils I returned and added another coat of paint and touched up any areas where the paint had leaked under the stencil. If you do not want to be troubled with this check out the above mentioned tutorial on hand painted signs for the painter’s tape method. You can also use white spray paint for the letters and stencils but I do not recommend it, it is super messy and will not be as tidy looking.

Step 3: Once your wording/numbers have dried, hit that area of your pot with a few coats of clear spray paint/enamel. This will keep your letters safe from the elements no matter what type of paint is underneath. That’s all folks! I waited until the next day to pot my plants to ensure that the enamel and spray paint had fully dried.

Finished product!

Finished product!

My goal in creating this little potted display was to cutsie up my stoop using a barely-existent outdoor decor budget. This would undoubtedly work better using ceramic pots since the paint would be less likely to peel or chip, however, the benefit to mine aside from the extremely low cost is that I don’t need to worry about these cracking come winter (which will be here before we know it, eek!). There are so many variations on this so go nuts! 🙂

For the plants I kept it simple with a small evergreen tree and three small lirope plants. The two mums alongside are potted in $1.98 Walmart pots.

For the plants I kept it simple with a small evergreen tree and three small lirope plants. The two mums alongside are potted in $1.98 Walmart pots.