Babies & Kids, DIY

End Of The Year Teacher Gift Ideas

As the school year comes to a close, you may feel compelled to give your kiddo’s teacher(s) a present.

Here are some fun, easy, and heartfelt ideas for you.

This year, and when my oldest was in speech therapy several years ago before preschool, I printed out these cute Thanks a Latte cards and gave it to his teacher with a Starbucks gift card.

Now, this year for my youngest graduating preschool, and not having tons of time to craft I did it again. It’s nice, and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort.

Here is where I got the download to print it off.

Just print it, cut it out (I printed two copies per page and it made the perfect size to attach the coffee sleeve) get a gift card, and staple the coffee collar to it, then insert the gift card into it and have your child sign it (or you sign for them)

TADA!

Here are a few other printable gift card options

If you’re looking for something more crafty, I made these over the past school years.

I took a canvas tote, cut an apple in half and dipped in acrylic paint and dabbed it onto the tote in a pattern and my son gave it to his teacher with a clipboard that had her name on it.

To make the clipboard, go and pick out some paper you like in the scrapbooking section, cut them how you want them to be positioned on the clipboard and just buy some modpodge, lightly coat the side the paper will stick to, lay it on top, then go over again, on the top to seal them together and onto the clipboard. I took letter stickers from the scrapbooking section and stuck them on each one versus brining out my silhouette. You could cut letters on hour circut or silhouette etc. as well. These were also covered in the top coat of modpodge.

Tie some string to the top of the clipboard and it’s done!

Lastly, for this crafting teacher Initial, I got a small chalkboard, wooden wall initial, some chalk pens, crayons, and a couple rulers that I would cut to be the border.

I used a chalk marker, and wrote the teacher’s name at the bottom, and hot glued the wooden letter to it.

Then I took some crayons, hot glued them to that letter, and cut off any areas that were going to be too long- with a kitchen knife (seriously lol).

I took some rulers, used one of our saws, and created a border around it and got glued that on too. I wrote my sons name, or maybe had him sign it on the back, I can’t remember, but she loved it.

Voila!

You can always do something simple, like grabbing some $5 flowers from the grocery store, putting them in a mason jar and attaching a note with a ribbon for them too.

Whether it’s teacher appreciation day, end of the school year, or the beginning hopefully this gives you some fun and thoughtful ideas to do for the teachers in your life.

XoXo

-Hannah

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DIY

Front Door Makeover Tutorial

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Typically, all I use to refinish things now is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP). It is amazing and goes on so many different finishes but this time I ventured away from it to makeover our front door.

Technically ASCP can be used on a front door, I really debated back and forth if I should use it. However, I did not want to have to deal with putting some kind of sealant on the front door as well which I would have needed to with ASCP. That would just double the work load for me. I knew I needed a paint and primer in one, so I would eliminate any priming step and would not have to add a sealer at the end. So we took a trip down to our local (and only option- ha ha) Ace Hardware to choose a paint. We grabbed some paint swatches, brought them home and went back to get samples of the ones we liked best. We then painted the samples in small spots on the door and then picked our winner.

Now, depending what type of and finish your door has and what type of condition it is in determines the steps you will take to paint and prep your door.

Our door was fairly new, it was painted about 3 years ago with a gel stain. It is a fiberglass exterior door, and we are assuming since it was a gel stain that it is oil based. You do NOT want to mix oil with latex or vice versa. Figure out what you have and then stick with that base. If you have an oil based paint on your door, continue to use oil based paint and primer as you refinish your door, and same with latex. There are all sorts of technical reasons about proper adhesion… just trust me.

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If you are like me and are in a situation where you want to switch finishes, you can. But it takes a few more steps. We wanted to replace the paint with an EXTERIOR, Semi-gloss, latex paint. After googling and doing some research, we kept seeing that latex just had a better application and seemed to last better than oil. I think oil would have worked just as well to, but we went with this paint from Ace, simply because it was all they had that would mix with our paint and we were assured we would like it. So make sure to talk to a knowledgable paint representative.   The color we chose was Royal Navy by Valspar and the paint we mixed the color in was Clark + Kensington Exterior Semi-Gloss Enamel Acyrlic Latex Paint  they have this awesome how-to guide on their website about prep and painting too if you need some more info.

We got home and here is what we did.

  1. Prep your door,  to remove any dust, oil or sheen. We lightly sanded the door, to remove any existing sheen, since we were changing paint bases from oil to latex and wanted it to have better adhesion. Just sand off most of any existing shine if you’re switching. If you’re not just wipe down the door, with a damp rag to remove any dust and then once with mineral spirits (this is something I use all the time in painting and its like a staple you have in  your pantry- you need to pick up a can if you don’t have it).  Let it dry and then proceed. IMG_0220.JPG
  2. Tape off all windows panes, or hardware. We removed the main handle and just painted and taped off the hinges. We did NOT want to remove the door off the hinges. If we had, we would have had to fully cover the front door opening until it went back up, and painting would have taken longer. We would have had to paint and finish one side, and wait for it to be all done and THEN flip it and do the other side. I wanted this to be a quick project to do on a cool day (before the summer heat hits) and it worked out great. We had a lot to tape off since we have 6 window panes on each side, and the trick to a good tape job is using an EXACTO KNIFE!! Put your tape on, and then take your exacto knife, and run it along the edges and it’ll remove tiny pieces of tape and ensure the tape is good and close to the edges.
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  3. Start Painting, I did two coats of paint. I did not use a roller, but you could if you have several smooth areas on your door. Our door had wood grain all over it and I didnt think it was necessary to have a roller. I just made sure to use a good quality brush (I always use Purdy) and the one I used was 2.5″ and I used it for the whole door. Wait for your first coat to dry, at least 30 minutes before proceeding to the next one and ALWAYS check the label of your paint to see what it specifies. Paint drying time obviously has tons of variables, based on the temperature and humidity outside, the surface its going over, and how thick or thin paint was applied. ** This is super important- REMOVE YOUR TAPE BEFORE the paint dries! If it is pulled off when its totally dry, then paint sticks to the tape and will pull off paint as you go– and you will have to do touchups! You can remove almost immediately. **IMG_0223
  4. Let It Dry. We left the door partially open because it was a nice cool day and then closed it when we got ready for bed. Check your paint can for specific drying instructions. I waited two days and then put our cute wreath from Kirkland’s back on it.IMG_0226

That’s all! Took a couple hours, since we painted the front AND back (because the stain was on our inside as well) and we were done. This cost under $40 to do it! IMG_0385-1

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to share on any of your social media pages with the buttons below!

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XoXo

-Hannah

DIY, Recipes

Baking Simple Two Tier Cakes

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Baking can be SO intimidating, but after several years of baking (and lots of trial and error) its definitely become something that has saved me lots of money in the long run. If you plan on making cakes for parties for your kiddos, holidays, or family get togethers it will really come in handy. So get in there and try it!

I want to start by saying, I did NOT bake this completely from scratch. I have done it, its great, but using a cake mix or doctoring up a boxed cake mix always tastes just as good. The key, in my opinion is the frosting. Making that from scratch is super easy and is well worth it. I will be posting the recipe in this post.

My oldest wanted an oreo cake, so I made two batches of frosting. One being regular buttercream, and the other with crushed oreo cookies to give each cake an oreo buttercream center.  One cake was chocolate, and one was vanilla, both with oreo buttercream filling and buttercream frosting- and I’ll be sharing this recipe. It is my go-to and favorite buttercream recipe of all time!

I used this cake mix from Target, it was honestly THE BEST box cake mix I had ever had and I didn’t doctor it up (more on that later in the post), I just followed the directions. I try as much as possible to stay away from unenriched foods, without folic acid because of some genetic things with my family so I always read the label and there are some brands I always use now because of that. This was one of them.

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I baked two 9 inch round cakes, greasing the pans with the flour baking Pam before putting them in the oven.

Take them out, let them cool for 10 minutes, then flip them over on a cooling rack and let them fully cool before frosting.

While the cakes are cooling, start making your frosting. This is the recipe I used, and ALWAYS use. This works for cakes as well as cupcakes. You can add color or leave as is!

For the oreo buttercream, I just took 15 oreos, put it in a galloon freezer bag and had my youngest crush them for me. When one of the two batches was done, I just folded the oreo cookies into the frosting and used that for the middles of the two cakes. The left overs were consumed on top of MORE oreos by the boys. 

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Buttercream Frosting

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, softened to room temperature. I use salted
  • 1T Corn syrup
  • 4C Powdered sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2T Milk (whole or 2%)

Directions

  1. Put two sticks of butter, 2 T milk and 1tsp vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer (a hand mixer will work if you don’t have a stand mixer). Mix on LOW speed just until it starts to come together, about a minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase to medium low speed and beat for about another minute. After this it will be combined, with a little liquid at the bottom.
  2. Increase the mixer speed to medium. Beat for about another or minute or so. When it looks creamy, and combined you’re ready for the next step. 
  3. Add 4 cups powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until sugar is just barely incorporated. Now scrape down the sides of the bowl, and INCREASE speed SLOWLY to medium. Beat for about a minute.
  4. Now you will want to check your consistency. This is very important because if your frosting is TOO THICK, it will not spread well. Take your spatula and move it around in the frosting, if it does not glide through the frosting, add about a tablespoon of corn syrup and beat on medium for about 30 seconds. You can do this regardless, it will safeguard you and make it nice and spreadable.

The frosting should hold it’s shape without being too thick, think of toothpaste consistency.  If it is too runny, it will slide off and will not stick to your cake. If you are wanting to pipe some decorations on your cake/cupcakes, now would be the time to set a little of this aside in a separate bowl to use later.

5. Once you get your frosting to a good, spreadable consistency, increase mixer speed to medium high and beat for one minute. This will get your frosting nice and fluffy. Now thats it! You’re Done! This is SO delicious, and I know you will agree!

Coloring Your Frosting

If you want to add any dye (or multiple) to you cake, separate if you want more than one color into little bowls and add whatever dye you like to each bowl. Then you’re ready to frost and assemble!

Because I try to avoid dyes I used this powdered natural dye from McCormick, and it worked great. I bought it on Amazon and there are some other natural gel food coloring available there as well if you don’t want to search high and low in stores. You can use the regular gel food coloring as well.

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Assembling your cake 

Before I started doing anything with the cakes…

  • I took my bread (serrated) knife and gently leveled the top of the cakes. I got down to eye level with the cakes and GENTLY took my knife and ran it over the top of the cakes evenly to eliminate the minor curve the cakes get when baking. When I was done, I was left with two pretty flat and even cakes.
  • I put a small dollop of the frosting on the cardboard, then set one of the layers on it to secure the bottom piece. Then I took the bottom cake piece, and set it on a cake server (with a  cake cardboard underneath).
  • I then added the top piece to the one attached to the cardboard and with the filling spread on. Think of it like putting a PB&J together. Put it on and TADA, all ready for the crumb coat.
Here is a picture of the smashed up Oreo pieces folded into (one of the two) batches of frosting I made.

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“PB&J” step done. 

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  • Now comes something called the “CRUMB COAT”.  Crumb coat is the first layer of frosting, and there will be bits of crumbs in it because the cake gets another layer of frosting.
  •  You take your frosting with your frosting spatula, and lightly, make an almost messy look to the cake as you spread it all over. I like to start on the sides, spread the frosting all around, not being concerned with the crumbs because THEY WILL GET COVERED UP. Then work my way to the top, and spread it out evenly, smoothing out an ridges on the edges of the top, but you don’t need to make it perfect in this step.
  • Set it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to become less tacky and then take it out again to frost it again.  ** For this nerf party, I did NOT do this, simply because I would be covering up the sides of the cake with her bullets. Im only explaining for those who will not be covering the sides of their cake. If you are mimicking this cake, then just do a messy coat on the sides, smooth the top (while trying to keep crumbs to a minimum on the top) and then stick on your nerf bullets. You do not need to put it in the fridge or do a second coat because the sides will be covered by nerf bullets. Add any decorations you want to the top, and voila! You’re done! IMG_9916Image-1-3.jpeg
  • Take your cake out, and if the frosting isn’t tacky then proceed with another layer of frosting, smooth the sides as you go, and there shouldn’t be crumbs in this coat, because they were sealed in when you did the initial crumb coat. This is what gives you a nice looking cake. Take your time, ideally use something that spins, like a lazy susan or a cake decorating pan that rotates. As I frost I spin it with my left hand and keep the spatula parallel to it and it REALLY smoothes it out nicely. Practice makes perfect, you just have to get in there and experiment. I like to start on the sides and finish the top last, smoothing the edges (while rotating the cake on my lazy susan) as I go and then you’re done!

Lastly- one tip I read that I do often is to DOCTOR up your cake mixes. This makes them moist and taste like it was made from scratch.. when it wasn’t! Here is what you do with any boxed cake mix.

Doctored Cake Mix...Make Them Think It's From Scratch!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of cake mix (Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter (use butter NOT margarine)
  • 1 cup water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave
  3. Combine butter with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Mix on low for 1 minute. Then mix on HIGH for 1 minute.

This will give your cake a nice creamy and thick texture- not thin and runny. You will taste the difference.

Bake time:

2-6″ cake pans 35-40 minutes

2-8″ cake pans 35-38 minutes

9×13″ cake pan 35-38 minutes

cupcakes 20 minutes

*cake is done with a toothpick or my favorite tool is inserted and comes out clean. My mom always said, when you smell it, its done. So humor her, and check on the cake if you really smell it and the timer is still going. It could be done!

I hope this gives you an idea how to assemble your own cakes, and help you with your baking! Thanks for reading!

XoXo

-Hannah

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Babies & Kids, DIY

NERF BIRTHDAY PARTY

 

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WOW! Its been a while. A LOT HAS CHANGED, more blog posts to come on that soon!  But for now I wanted to talk about the epic Nerf Party I had for the boys. It was fun without being crazy complicated (in my opinion).

As the years have gone by, I have always LOVED throwing my boy’s birthday parties jointly. Their birthdays are just 7 days apart, and they for the most part like the same things.  This year, the nerf idea surfaced and they both were super excited about it. So naturally, I ran with it.

For me, throwing a “cute” party or well designed party is what excites me. So I thought of how I could keep this fun,  uncomplicated, while seeming well planned out (when in reality it wasn’t a hassle at all). Here is how I did it.

My BIGGEST TIP for throwing any party is to TO THINGS IN STAGES! Make a plan, well beforehand and follow it! Don’t, I repeat DON’T try to do all of the cooking, prep, setup, on the day of the party. Just don’t.

When I plan parties I typically:

  1. Pick a date (ideally 4 weeks in advance for myself and guests)
  2. Pick a theme (think of the colors you will be using for invites, decorations, etc)
  3. Create or buy invitations and mail them out with the 4 week advance notice for guests
  4. Once invites have gone out, plan what you want to do, how you want to decorate, think of food you want to serve, where things are going to go and be setup, plan party favors you may or may not have.
  5. As it nears the 2 week mark, start shopping. If you are closer to stores than I am, you have the luxury of pushing this out, but it stresses me out to not have all of the things I need in advance, in case some stores don’t have what I’m envisioning then I have a time cushion to look around.
  6. One week out- do a little something EACH DAY. Small tasks done over the week really help ease the burden of throwing a party, versus a ton of work in one day.     So look at what you planned in step 4. What did you buy, what are you making, what are you cooking or picking up, what are you setting up?                                    Then look at your schedule- what can you accomplish EACH day.                            Leaving very little to do on the day of the party, and allowing yourself time to shower and get ready!
  7. Day before party- Set out as much of the things you can BEFORE the party. This would be tables, chairs, anything that isn’t perishable or won’t get messed up. Do the bulk of the sweaty work before the morning/day of.  Prep any food you can and have it either done, or almost finished so the day of you don’t need to be doing any heavy cooking. I picked up my pizzas the day before. I set out all of my tables, did the streamer wall and got all my supplies (table cloths, napkins etc) in boxes set out where I would be setting them up
  8. Party day- I like just putting finishing touches on things the day of, because when I did NOT do this, it makes things so crazy!  I just laid out table cloths, set out center pieces, and hung up balloons. (if my party wasn’t outdoors and wouldn’t get blown away I could have done the balloons the day before as well).

Now that I had my Nerf theme, I picked the colors I wanted to use throughout the party. This will be used in balloon, table cloths, napkins, flatware, and any other decorating elements. I used nerf colors since that was the theme of the party- blue and orange.          So when picking out all those things I wanted to use a mix of both blue and orange.

Second, I made the invitations to coordinate with the Nerf theme.                                            I saw a design of a digital invitation on Etsy that was nerf themed, and I went on Canva to create a similar invitation. Here is a link to that file that is blank that you can personalize and add your own info to. Nerf Party Invitation

Here's a gift from us

I printed them at Walgreens, on photo paper, because they are so cheap and I never have to waste my ink at home– because lets face it, the ink is always low. PLUS, there are usually coupons all the time for photo prints. I printed the invitations for under $5!

Third, I planned out what I wanted to do at the party and how I wanted to set things up. I’m old school, I like to write down on paper, and see what I wanted to do as the list grew and evolved I’m able to cross out, scratch off or erase what I don’t want. I wrote down what games I wanted to do, what I needed to actually MAKE for the party (both food and decorations). Pinterest was my best friend for ideas on this. So I typed Nerf Birthday Party into Pinterest and got some inspiration.  This is my board if you want to take a look at what I had pinned  Nerf Party Pinterest Board

At our home, we have this great existing pole barn structure that we have used for a couple of years now to set tables out and use for our parties and I LOVE it. I have lots of ideas of stream lights, old chandeliers and more down the road I’ll add. So I knew thats WHERE I would be setting up my tables, food, etc. This year, I wanted to play around with streamers (also from the dollar store) and make sort of a backdrop wall where I knew I would be putting the food table, and setting the cakes out when it was time to sing happy birthday and it would make for a nice picture backdrop.

 

This, surprisingly was something my oldest helped me the WHOLE time with! I got a ladder, picked where I wanted this to go, took packing tape and stretching it the length of where I wanted it with the sticky side FACING out, then took two more pieces of tape and secured each end of the tape (sticky side down) to the wall. So I was left with two taped down ends and a long stretch of sticky side out tape for my streamers. I took my streamers in coordinating blue and orange and stuck it to the tape that was sticky and just dropped it to the ground, my oldest was there, and he cut the streamer, and handed me the other color, and we kept going. THEN we took another LONG piece of tape and taped over all of the streamers we had just stuck down. So this created a sandwich, the streamers were first attached to the sticky side, then taped over and secured. We then came to each piece and gently turned them to give them that spiral look, then we taped the bottom of all of the streamers so that they weren’t flapping around. We did this on all the streamers and left it overnight. You could also just tape them straight too. The next morning we came and attached balloons to the top of the streamers to cover up the tape. (Did you notice there is one balloon missing in the picture, it was super small so we had swapped it and apparently I took this before I had fixed it!)

I saw cute centerpiece ideas on Pinterest for this theme and just mimicked them.

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The places I knew I would be stopping for Decorations were: Dollar Tree, Target, Joann’s, Hobby Lobby and potentially Party City depending who did or didn’t have what I wanted. I found metal buckets (I looked at all the places) at Joann’s, I got those, and found some 50% off wooden numbers at Hobby Lobby that I hot glued to wooden dowels, spray painted with the blue spray paint I was already going to be using to the shooting can game, stuck that into some floral foam I placed inside the buckets, topped with dollar tree orange crinkle paper, and used some wire to stick into extra nerf bullets and stick that into the foam too. Voila!

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The other thing I saw that was cute, were pool noodles (also bought at Dollar Tree) that looked like nerf bullets! I got some to use scattered across the tables, but ended up having to tape them down since it was kind of windy the day of the party. I took the pool noodle, cut each one into 4 pieces, and then attached with double sided tape some orange construction paper to look like bullets. Another idea, if you see orange duct tape, you could skip the construction paper step and use that, and can cover the hole on the noodle. I didn’t see that or think of that until after. But this was still super cute and easy! Now we will have a bunch of random pool noodle pieces to play with this summer too, maybe I could even use them for fourth of July!

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I saw that a cute idea with cans- that were spray painted that kids could shoot with their nerf guns. I got some blue rustoleum spray paint from Lowe’s (because its multi finish, you can spray over just about anything) that was paint and primer, and I just used old cans we had here. The orange was a little too sheer, and it bugged me to see the logos, so I took the leftover blue and made them cammo. Now no one knows except you!

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IMG_9905First activity, check!

I saw several (no real ingenuity here) ideas for barricade type areas where kids and adults can literally shoot it out. With my husband being a farmer, we have an abundance of pallets we could use. So we (he) took about 7 of them and set them up in different formations and threw some camo I got from Amazon (in coordinating blue, I might add) over them as he staked them into our grass. He drew a line in the grass with some left over orange spray paint from the cans so there were divided sides and teams- ALL his ideas.

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Second activity, check! The other thing I saw and loved was this idea of making cups with prizes inside. You hot glue plastic party cups to a foam board, I got mine at Dollar Tree, and you put tissue paper over it and attach with a rubber band or more hot glue. They stand behind and shoot the board, and if it didn’t puncture the cup enough, they went up and just punched the cup and grabbed their prize! I grabbed little things from the dollar section at Target, and used 15 cups.

 

 

 

Third activity, check!

For all of the activities planned, we had an grab bag/ammo station set up and all the games right by each other. The kids grabbed camo bags filled with nerf bullets, nerf glasses, and a nerf gun off of the ammo table. The kids each got one of these and it REPLACED doing a traditional favor bag.

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I ordered the Disruptor gun from Target, I was checking prices on Amazon, Kohls, Target etc. and this one was 39% off so it was a pretty good deal since we only have to buy a handful of them for the bigger kids. For the littler kids I got this one from Amazon, and like I said, these would be their favors along with the bag, bullets, glasses.

I ordered a 300 pack of bullets on  Amazon for the cake decorations, and for the kids to go wild with. You know how nerf bullets go, they’re kind of like laundry socks and go missing.

They each grabbed a bunch of water balloons to take home as well.  I got this printable from the East Coast Mommy Blog  and she had a great post about their nerf party. I ordered coordinating blue water balloons off of Amazon because I like to stick to the theme colors AND because I live so far from stores, ordering and planning in advance saves me SO much time and money. I may take the drive to target and not be able to find only blue water balloons! I printed them on card stock I had at home and attached them to the balloons. IMG_9903

Now that we have talked invitations, colors, activities, favors, lets talk FOOD!

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I really enjoy throwing parties, and preparing fun food menus, but lets face it. There are only 24 hours in each day. So, I would rather the party be really cute than have fancy food at the end of the day. Since we now live on the farm, in a small town where I cant just run to a regular store to grab food my options are way more limited than they used to be. My boys both really love pizza, and I feel like most people do! So I wanted to have pizza, but again, with a small pizza chain here as my only option and not wanting to spend a fortune on a couple pizzas (they have the pizza market cornered here and can basically charge what they want) I decided to do take and bake pizzas from Papa Murphy’s. There is one 20 minutes from me, and I picked those up the day before. I ordered some and used a coupon and ended up sending $30 for 4 pizzas! This fed 30 adults and 8 children! I took my pizza cutter and made the slices even smaller, and more snack size since my party wasn’t at a real meal time.

I threw together a quick strawberry salad with candied pecans, crumbled feta, and creamy balsamic dressing from Sprouts, and had popcorn in cute little blue boxes and chips. I put some gatorades (blue and white, I try to stay away from dyes for my kiddos as much as I can) and waters in an ice bucket and thats it! IMG_9871IMG_9796

I REALLY got into baking a few years back when my oldest was about 1, not sure HOW I did this.. but I did. I normally made some really cute, elaborate and fancy decorated sugar cookies but this year I didn’t! I wanted to keep it simple, and low key, while still being festive but didn’t want to completely lose my mind in the process.                                 I will be posting some blogs that detail baking further, it is on my to-do list. Anyway, because I have been baking on and off for 7 years (and started a small business doing it), I feel comfortable tackling some things when I know some people would completely balk at the thought. Like I said, I did NOT want to spend a ton of time making absolutely adorable decorated sugar cookies, only to be devoured in 5 minutes. SO this year, I did NOT do cookies, but did simple cakes decorated with nerf bullets instead!

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I could have made these way more elaborate, busted out some fondant, watched some crazy youtube tutorials.. but I DIDN’T! I will create a blog post about how to make these cakes. It was really simple, and since I was basically covering ninety percent of the cake with nerf bullets it was actually pretty forgiving and simple. I used doctored box cake mixes as well. So stay tuned for a post about my FAVORITE buttercream frosting recipe and how to assemble a simple cake like this. Having some basic baking skills can carry you a long way, and if you never try, you will never get better. Plus, I know I saved at least $100 versus going to a bakery and asking for them to create two nerf cakes.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and got some fun ideas to use for your own parties whether it is nerf themed or not. Be sure to subscribe to see my new blog posts, and feel free to share this blog on any of your social media platforms with your friends.

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XoXo

– Hannah

DIY

DIY Vintage Love Blocks

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, if you are looking for a cute gift to make someone, or just would like to make something cute for your home- this is the post for you!!

 

Vintage Love Blocks

I was inspired by this blog, and got to thinking about what I wanted the blocks to have as background text paper- and the bible came to mind. Love, to me isn’t just love between a couple; its about God’s love for us. So I thought it would be SO cool, to use scriptures from the bible that talked about love!! Before anyone hyperventilates, I did NOT use an actual bible. I typed out the verses I liked, and then formatted it to fit my blocks and aged the paper! (no bibles were harmed in the making of these blocks)

 

You could always use book pages, newspaper etc. if you don’t necessarily care about what is printed on the background of the blocks too.

Here is how you do this & what you will need:

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– 4 blocks that have been sanded, and cut to be 4″ squares. I used a 2×4

– paper for your background, you can use my scriptures if you want ->Love Blocks

– mod podge, glossy or matte and foam brush

– tea bag steeped in water (if you want to age printed paper)

– fine tip black sharpie, red and black regular point sharpie

Directions:

1. If you are printing paper (not using book paper) print that out and age it if you want with tea bags. You steep a tea bag in water for a few minutes for it to get to a darker color, then take the tea bag out of the water and lightly rub it over the pages so the color transfers onto the sheets of paper.

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2. You are going to take a thin layer of mod podge and cover the front of your block, and place and smooth out your first sheet of paper. Leave it to dry face down and stack them so they will adhere well.

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3. Once dry, you can sand the excess edges of the paper off to get a distressed look to the blocks. Its ok for it to have an uneven texture and look messy.

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and after they will look like this

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4. NOW, you have a choice. You can either trace the letters on if you want with a sharpie (by a stencil, freehand if you’re that gifted, or by printing if off of your computer and using an exacto knife to cut out the letters and be left with a stencil letter to use on the blocks) or you can use a cricut, silhouette or any other kind of crazy vinyl device I may not know about to adhere your letters onto the blocks.

I chose to trace my letters on, so I took the fine tipped sharpie and outlined the letters, and then filled them in with the thicker (regular point) sharpie.

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see- they don’t look perfect, but once you fill them in they will!

 

5. If you want to leave them natural, go right ahead and your done! If you want to seal the blocks go ahead and put another layer of mod podge over all of the sides of the blocks. I did this in a gloss finish and it didnt distract or take away from the distressed look of the blocks, and I know they are all sealed and will last a long time.

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I love that the words show through the red heart.

 

I loved the result- and the possibilities of how you can make these your own! Stack them to have a cute effect as well.

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far away shot, on my mantle.

 

Now, every time I look at these I am reminded of His love. Its perfect!

 

Recipes

Protein Packed Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Happy New Year!!

I still can’t believe its 2015!

I have been cooking up some great (and healthy) recipes and doing some projects that have been easy that I cannot wait to share with you!!

First, I think I will start with this chili recipe I tried last night. It was DELICIOUS! Literally the whole meal, my husband and I kept saying “wow, this is so good!” “this is delicious” “we have to make this all the time”.

My favorite part is, IT’S COOKED IN THE CROCK POT!!

turkey chili

So- give it a whirl, it was quick and nutritious, and easy! Im learning to take better pictures of food (which is an art in itself, that I haven’t mastered) so if my picture is off-putting, I promise it will taste great!

I found this recipe on Pinterest, click to see original recipe 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced (i used white)
  • 2 (15oz) cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16oz) jar of deli sliced tamed jalapeños, drained
  • 1 C frozen corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, place turkey in the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook until brown. Put that in the crock pot.

2. Add all of the ingredients: diced onion, chopped bell peppers, tomato sauce and diced tomato, rinsed and drained beans, drained jalapeños, corn, chili powder and cumin. Season with a little more salt and pepper, give it a stir and turn the crock pot on!

3. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, or LOW for 6.

Serve with (optional toppings): chopped green onions, shredded low fat cheese, avocado (my favorite), reduced fat sour cream/ greek yogurt, cilantro, the possibilities are endless- but its AMAZING!

Hope you all try it and enjoy it!! I love dinners that are healthy, easy, and cooked in the crock pot!

Babies & Kids, DIY

DIY Christmas Thank You Card

Happy Holidays!

thank you card

Now that Christmas has passed us yet again and our homes are full of new goodies, having little ones like I do you may forget to doing simple things like writing a Thank You card.

I personally ALWAYS take the time to make sure I thank people for gifts either for myself and husband or my children. This is definitely something that falls by the wayside these days, and it is such a simple gesture that speaks volumes to those who gave you presents. On that note, I think this is something special you can do to really show your appreciation to others while being SIMPLE!

With that being said–I bet your tree and decorations are still up too, so if you didn’t happen to catch a picture of your kids on christmas opening gifts or by the tree stick them by it and snap a picture- you will be glad you did!

I took pictures of my boys that morning but made an effort to take one for this THANK YOU CARD!

I figured their grandparents and relatives who live here and those who don’t who sent presents would LOVE getting a Thank You card with their picture on it!

There are several websites out there that have templates to make a cute card like I did, and I happened to use shutter fly “PRINT AT HOME”- I bet some of you didn’t even know that existed huh?!

http://www2.snapfish.com/snapfish/fe/printathome-photo-cards/thank-you-cards

Add your photo and text and then just print it out!

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I used some card stock I had, or you could use photo paper; heck you could even print it at walmart or target and then just pick it up if you don’t like your printers quality or don’t want to waste ink!

Here is my finished product (this was my tester and there are water spots from sitting on our counter by the sink)

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and that you give this a try since its only a few days past Christmas. Im sure everyone will enjoy a personalized photo Christmas Thank You card!

DIY

Refinishing Old Furniture

I Wanted a new piece of furniture that looked more finished to replace my old apartment sofa table from target, something like a buffet table since it goes by our big dining room table for dinners… I saw ones I liked and they were $300+ dollars, and there was NO way I was going to shell out that kind of money… so I decided to refinish an old piece I found on Craigslist!



before:after


This turned out AMAZING! I actually want to do it again, the painting went smooth and it turned out exactly how I wanted it! I’ll tell you how I did it, and you should give it a try! Its worth the work and definitely worth the money you save, just take inspiration from Pottery Barn magazines, Ballard designs etc.


Here is what I used:

– Palm Sander ( I used 150 grit paper ) and BOY does a palm sander make sanding go fast!

– Some damp paper towels to wipe the sawdust off

– Primer, I used Kilz 2

– Olympic paint and primer in one (color of your choice)

– 4” Cabinet and door roller, and the roller is the BEST trick besides using a sprayer to get even coverage without brush strokes.

(Mine came out flawless, so I HIGHLY recommend using a roller!)

– Olympic satin paint for the top in magic black

– Top coat, I used minwax water based top coat

-New hardware, or repurposed hardware from original piece

* Don’t judge the clutter, this was done in my garage while clearing out the house for baby #2!

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Directions:

1- Remove all of the doors and drawers, take off the hardware and keep in a baggie just in case so you dont lose them. Then sand your piece until the varnish comes off and the surface is smooth.

Mine looked like this

beginning

2- After it is all sanded, take some lightly damp paper towels and rub the whole piece to remove the extra sawdust and let it dry! I didnt rush ANY of the drying processes, and let each step dry over night. Why ruin your work if you’re in a hurry??!

3- Take your primer and use your roller and roll the primer evenly all over the piece. It will look like this

primed
primed top
Let it dry overnight just to be safe, like I said don’t rush it even if it seems safe. Its not worth it!

4- Once it is dry, you are ready to apply your paint! (using your roller, remember)

Smooth out any areas that the roller will not reach with a good synthetic bristle brush, I did this around the curves in the drawer and then smoothed it out again with the roller.

I applied two coats of my grey/green and waited OVERNIGHT for both drying processes.

side drying

first coat

5- Now that the main part of it is dry you can tape the bottom off and use a tarp to cover it and paint  the top!

top drying

I painted three coats of black, to make sure it was all even and none of the primer showed through. I waited 3 hours in between each coat. It dried super fast, so judge your paints directions and by how it is drying.

6- Last but not least, NOW you can add your top coat!! I rolled mine on, even though it advised using a brush… it wasn’t looking as smooth and I switched back to my trusty roller and rolled two coats on. I waited overnight in between coats.

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Here is a picture of how smooth the black and top coat are (If you can’t tell, you have to take my word for it, it looks professional!) and I know 100% it is because I used a roller. So if I didnt repeat myself enough, USE A ROLLER- it will make your piece look like it was bought!

7- Now you just take your tarp off, put the  hardware on and then put doors and drawers back on! Ta da!! Thats it, its really simple and comes out looking great!!

Just for your info, I was using another picture for inspiration but lost it.. so this was close- from ballard designs, and is over $350!

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Here is the finished product in my house with a new lamp and some decorations (keep in mind I have a busy toddler, so I couldn’t get to knick-knackey)

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My grand total for this WHOLE project was under $125 INCLUDING the price of buying the buffet table! 

Enjoy and remember if you try this or have questions, just post them along with your pictures 😉

DIY

Etched Glass Tutorial

I love getting things and making them cuter, especially when it happens cheaply!

I was looking for a piece of furniture to hide my printer and files since we are cleaning out the office to make room for baby #2, and I found this cabinet which I wasn’t too crazy about and decided to etch the glass with a nice geometric pattern to hide the office supplies going inside- since this will be in my hallway!

finished

Here is how you can do this too

You’ll need:

– a pattern or vinyl sticker with the pattern of your choice. ( I saw one online for $34, and wasn’t about to spend that just to throw it away)

– This is the pattern I used, I printed it at 300%

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– an exacto knife

– Valspar Frosting Spray- I got mine from lowes 

– Painters tape and paper to cover surrounding areas from overspray

Directions:

1. Print out your pattern and use your exacto knife to cut out the pattern, like this

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2. Align it with where you are going to be adding your design. I placed mine on the INSIDE of the cabinet, since it is low and there will always be grubby hands touching it. This will prevent smears and smudges on the pattern since it will be on the inside.

3. Put tape around the glass and wrap the outside with paper so the spray paint doesn’t go on anywhere it’s not supposed to.

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Remember to follow your specific can’s instructions. I sprayed 3 coats on the glass and was happy with the coverage, I waited 10 minutes or so between each coat- it dries fast!

4. Once it is dry, peel off the tape and paper and it will reveal your pattern!!

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That’s it, you’re done! Think about all of the different places and pieces of furniture you can customize! I will probably be doing this on our entertainment stand in our living room to hide our cable boxes and movies!

Give it a try, if it doesnt turn out right just frost the rest of the glass and the whole thing will be uniform- its win/win!