Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Outdoor Showers

*Warning -- this post will contain nudity -- of the Barbie kind ;)*

I was looking at this really fun website this morning and decided I had to try this. I'll post the instructions here. The link just takes you to her website with lots of other REALLY fun ideas for little kids.

Start with a container (she recommends using a coffee tin. I tried to use a #10 can, but I couldn't find one, so our cotton candy containers worked just great instead)

Hammer some holes into the bottom. I just used a nail I had lying around.
Wrap some twine around the top. (If I had used a #10 can, I would have poked holes through the top instead so I could attach my twine handle.)
Attach a twine handle as long as you want it.
Hang it on your favorite tree and fill it with water. You can't see it very well right here, but the water is pouring out like a fun shower. I made two to hang on my tree.
And then give Barbie a shower in the backyard.
My kids were a little timid at first, but once they actually tried it, they didn't want to even bother getting in their swimsuits. That would just take way too much time away from the fun!
I think that if I were to do this again, I would prefer the #10 cans. They would've been a little bit bigger. Also, I would have poked bigger holes so more water could come through.
I'm linked up with this party!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teacher Appreciation

I know everyone else is already done with school for the year, but here in our little desert oasis, school is still going strong. (Actually, we're down to the last four days of school. Hooray to almost be done!!!) I always like to give a teacher appreciation present the last day of school. This year, I found this pretty little medallion to attach to a present for my oldest daughter's teacher. Isn't it fun?! They just had the ribbons glued to the back of theirs and it looked a little unfinished for me (call me a perfectionist), so I glued an extra circle to the back. In all honesty, I had messed up and had to print out two copies of this because I kept messing it up in photoshop, so this was an extra of the middle circle of the medallion just turned around so you just see the white. Oh, and I printed this whole thing on cardstock. I wanted it a little bit stronger than just plain paper.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer break!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Computer Desk

I really wish I could call this my office, but it's really just a tiny little corner of the wall.

This is, however, where I spend most of my time. Hence the reason it always ends up looking like this -- even after I try cleaning it! Does your desk just ever end up being a catch all? I HATE that so much! It always feels so cluttered and cramped. Well, in order to conquer this mess, I needed some help. Meet my IKEA storage boxes. I love these little guys. I got them in three different sizes. The link is just for the big ones.
My biggest bane was the annoying chords that goes to everything! I used to just have these things tucked away underneath my desk and every time I'd let the baby play on the floor, he'd head straight for these.
I started by just planning on shoving them all into a box and putting a lid on them, but then I realized that wouldn't work very well when I actually needed to get one out.

So, along came my little girls' elastics. I wrapped up all the chords, put an elastic on them and tucked them in the box. Much nicer. Sorry the picture is so bad of the elastics bag. At least you can see how nice the box looks now.

And here it is all cleaned up! We got a new printer for free when we got my husband's new Macbook, so we decided to give the old one to a friend of mine and put the new one on the side of the computer desk instead -- right on top of the big IKEA storage boxes. Oh, and those IKEA boxes are big enough to hold a hanging file folders, but I kinda wonder if IKEA has a special sized one that they want you to buy, because the ones I bought from Target didn't fit quite right (too long one way and too short the other). Oh well! I still like how much nicer it is anyway!
And I finally put a paper shredder right next to the desk. Much more useful here than in the other room or in the hallway. And, it'll help keep our identities safe and keep the paper clutter off the desk!

I really like how it looks for now. Long term, I'm kinda looking for something similar to this style over at Young House Love. I love how they made their desk out of a hollow door. I could pull that off. And my hubby really wants a desk that's big enough for two computers since he's wanting to get another desktop somewhere down the road. Then it would help to free up the look above the desk, too. If I had a real office, I'd love this one from Potter Barn and Knock Off Wood, but I sadly don't have enough room for something like that. least it's fun daydreaming, right?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Junior Mint Brownies

Okay, these things are amazing. I couldn't even get a picture because too much of the tray is gone to make a decent picture. Just imagine perfect Ghiradelli brownies with a thin layer of beautiful, shiny chocolate frosting, but instead of it just being normal chocolate, it's melted Junior Mints! Seriously, it's heaven. And insanely easy.

Junior Mint Brownies
Brownie Mix (and all the ingredients needed to make it!)
one big box Junior Mints

Make your brownie mix as directed on the box. As soon as you pull them out of the oven, pour the box of Junior Mints on top in a single layer. Allow to melt for about 10 minutes, then smooth them out with a spatula.

I think the woman that made these to begin with took her picture right after spreading out the Junior Mints. I let mine sit for a little while to cool (only because I had to leave right after they were done, otherwise I would have eaten them immediately!), and mine looked like a really beautiful, smooth frosting. There would've been no way to know it was mint unless I told you!

Try these yummy treats out and let me know what you think! We loved them!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kitchen Window Treatments

So I really want to do something huge with my kitchen right now. This is the best picture I could show you of what it kinda looks like right now. Well, without the mess. Wait, come to think of it,...never mind.

Here's my goal list of what I want to do:
Paint all the cabinets white. A beautiful bright white.
Put on all new black hardware everywhere.
Put some shelves next to the sink window so I can grow some fresh herbs.
Figure out a better way to store all of my random appliances (like the mixer, toaster, blender, and food processor).
Put up some beautiful window treatments.

Long term goals would be getting all new cabinets and getting a granite countertop. But that's not in the budget for a LONG time, so I'm looking to do what I can for cheap. I mean seriously cheap.

For this post, I kinda want to focus on my dream window treatments. I found this website my friend posted on Facebook that I'm really liking right now. It's called They had a post a little while ago all about window treatments and I just love these ones!

interior design by Norman Design Group: Phil Norman, ASID CID - Kitchen traditional kitchen

This above one would be for my sink window. I have been leaning toward more reds and browns in my kitchen, so I think these colors would look really nice, too.

Designer Kitchens

This would be for my "dining room" window. I love the floor to ceiling look of these curtains. I'd just change the color, of course. Probably to something deep red or brown. I'm not sure.

Anyway, keep posted and I'll keep you updated on what we decide! I think I'll start out my list by painting the cabinets and getting new hardware. Then I'll hit my favorite fabric store -- Home Fabrics -- for some fun fabrics for curtains. Now, if only I could figure out a way to tie in the counter top with the white cabinets so it doesn't look horrible while we're waiting to put in granite...Any ideas?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Amazing Rolls!

Here are the best rolls ever! They're super soft, buttery, and sweet (but not like bad sweet. More like melt in your mouth delicious-type sweet that's perfect with a pot roast, you know?). I got the recipe from my neighbor a few years ago and just cut the whole thing down. Hers made 4 dozen and my "little" family couldn't eat that much at the time. So I made it for a perfect dozen. Of course, my husband likes to make closer to 18 with the dozen recipe just because these make HUGE rolls.
Launa's Perfect Rolls
3/4 c milk
1/4 c warm water
1/4 c butter
1/4 c sugar
2 3/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 T yeast
1 egg
Put the first four ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute at 50% power. (I always leave the sugar out of this step because when you add it to the mixing bowl it tends to stick to the microwave bowl). Put the yeast in your mixer and mix in the warm wet ingredients. Add half the flour. Add in the egg and the salt. Then add the rest of the flour. Mix for 11 minutes in your mixer. Sprinkle just a little bit of flour on a cutting board. Put your dough on it and spread it out into a rectangle. I always cut it in half lengthwise, then divide each of those into six equal pieces. Roll them up to your desired shape and place on a sprayed cookie sheet. Put in a warm oven (lowest setting on your oven) for 10 minutes. With the pan still in there, turn up your oven to 375 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. Rolls are ready when they're a beautiful golden brown on top. Brush them with butter as soon as they come out of the oven.
Warning: if you take these to a family party, you will become the designated roll maker for all future family get-togethers.

The Best Whole Wheat Bread

Looks yummy, right? Trust me, it is. I thought I'd share a couple of recipes with you today. I have to be honest, though. This is not my recipe. I found it a long time ago while blog-hopping and I can't remember who I got it from. If you happen to recognize it, please let me know so I can properly credit them!
All notes are the person that created the recipe, not me.
Oh, and I got that HUGE loaf pan from Kitchen Collection. Amazing little kitchen shop for those that haven't heard of it.
Whole Wheat Bread Recipe
10-12 c whole wheat flour
2 T dry yeast
1/3 c gluten flour
4 c warm water
1/3 c Applesauce or vegetable oil
2/3 c honey
1 T salt
Place flour into mixer equipped with dough hook. Add dry yeast and gluten flour. Pulse to mix well. Add water, and mix for 1 minute. Turn off mixer, cover bowl, and let sponge for 10-15 minutes (this makes it so you don't want to keep adding flour later on! The flour in there will start to absorb the water and make a nice, soft dough. Plus, it makes a lighter bread and reduces kneading time). Add applesauce (or oil), honey, and salt. Turn on mixer, and quickly add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of hte bowl. The amount of flour needed may vary. Knead 7-10 minutes (by hand 12-15 minutes) or until dough is smooth and elastic. Let rise in bowl about 10-15 minutes (this can be skipped if in a rush, but makes the dough easier to form into loaves and makes bread a bit lighter). Place in lightly oiled pans and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until double. Bake in 350 degree oven for 28-35 minutes.
Makes 4 - 4"x8" loaves or 6-7 - 3"x5 3/4" loaves.
Little tips the author has learned:
Use fresh ground wheat. Mill it yourself if possible.
Using applesauce makes it fat free.
Increase your honey to make it more of a honey whole wheat. Use 1 c honey or 3/4 c honey and 1/4 c molasses to make the bread dark and rich.
White wheat tends to make a lighter bread, but hard red wheat has more protein per grain and contains more gluten. Compromise and use half white and half red.
Bread takes about 2-2.5 hours to make.
Oil your hands and work surface. Don't use flour! It'll dry out your bread.
Some additives you might be interested in:
1 c buttermilk instead of 1 c water
500 mg vitamin c with your flour
2 T lemon juice instead of Vitamin C
2 T dry or liquid lecithin
Replace 1-3 c whole wheat flour with white flour
Don't use all of these, but try some of them.
The author has added 2 c white flour in place of 1.5 c wheat flour and 1/2 c gluten when she was out of gluten.
Don't use wide loaf pans. Wheat dough is heavy and can't support itself in a wide pan. 4"x8.5" is a really good size. The one I posted the link for is much longer, but I've had success with it.
Watch your oven temperature. All ovens vary. Look for loaves to be golden brown and make a hollow sound when thumped.
The author's sister preheats her oven to 400 degrees while the bread is rising. Then place the bread in and immediately turn it down to 325 degrees. Then bake for 35-40 minutes. The author has forgotten too many times to turn down the oven, so she doesn't like doing it this way, but when she gets it right, she really likes it. It kills the yeast and keeps the bread from rising too high and keeps it more dense and soft.
To keep your crust soft, keep a spray bottle on hand. When you remove the pan from the oven, place it on a cooling rack, mist it lightly, and cover with dish towels. You can also cool bread under damp dish towels.
Enjoy your yummy bread! We ate ours right out of the oven with honey and butter. Yum!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Oldest Girl's Room

Here's the bed all painted white. Yeah, we desperately need to get her some new pillows. But that will have to come on the next paycheck! Her pretty dresser! Isn't it so much better white? Oh, and that cute little picture frame on her dresser is an embroidery I did for her for her baptism. I'd show you a close up, but I don't want to have too many personal details out here, if you know what I mean. And the frame isn't really that little, I guess. It's actually HUGE! I think it's a 16x20? I want to put it on her wall sometime, but not just yet. I haven't decided where to put it, you know?
I think it's the perfect room for a princess!

Entertainment Center

Remember that entertainment center I was working on? Well, it's finished. Isn't it so beautiful?! I still need to do some more decorating on it, but for now, I'm in heaven!!! I got all my baskets from Target. And can I just tell you how wonderful it is to have REAL STORAGE now?! Everything doesn't have to sit on the floor or on my fireplace!
I love these little flowers on the wall! I think it looks so much better than my Sacred Grove pictures. I still have those up down the hallway, but it's just not quite so dark now above the tv. If you haven't seen these little flowers, they're 3D and amazingly beautiful! They give just a little bit more depth to the room without being overbearing.
So what do you think? I LOVE it!!!


So along with the new carpet, we wanted to redo our kitchen floor. Here's the only picture I could find with the wonderful *cringe* old linoleum. I promise, my kitchen is not that messy. It was filled with some of the furniture from the rest of the house when we were recarpeting. Hence the changing table next to the kitchen table. Point being, look at that linoleum!!! Isn't it just AWFUL!!! You should see the corners where the whole thing was trying to rip up. At least those corners made for nice spots to start peeling, right? After they ripped up the carpet, I asked them to pull up the tile in the front doorway, too. Well, the whole thing needed to be re-leveled because of how the builder put the tile in. The guy that ripped up the tile to begin with was wonderful and put in new cement, but as it all dried, it created this crater right in the middle that needed to be fixed. Too bad the tile guy was out of town when we needed to get this whole thing done. So I headed off to Home Depot and got some self-leveling cement to fix the problem. Not too bad, I'd say!

Oh, and notice all those screws in the floor? Our house had HORRIBLE squeaks everywhere, so we decided to screw down floor boards when we had the carpet up. This hallway was the WORST, so it got the most screws. I love walking through a quiet house now!
Me hard at work on the laminate. Hmm...maybe I shouldn't post this picture. It's not very flattering.

Isn't the whole thing so beautiful together?! I still need to do baseboards through the whole house, but for now, this is what we have. I LOVE it!!!

A close up view of the beautiful laminate.

BTW, this laminate is the antique walnut from IKEA. Pretty sweet at $1.15/sq ft.

In With the New!

The pretty new carpet in our whole house!!! I just love how it folds so nicely over the edge of the linoleum in the bathroom. Some day that linoleum will be changed to tile, but for now, I'm happy! So much prettier! Next up: baseboards.
Just wait until you see it with the furniture back in!

Our living room.


Who knew there was so much disgusting dirt and stuff underneath the carpet? Thought I'd post this just for fun. Don't worry, it's all been cleaned up and doesn't look nearly as disgusting!!!

Out with the Old!!!

Guess what?! We're getting new carpet!!! I'm going to do this whole thing in a couple of posts, so you can see all the before and after pictures.

This is a picture of my oldest daughter's room without all the furniture. Can I tell you how frustrating it was to take apart her bed and move out that beautiful dresser? But it was definitely worth it in the end!!! The tv room without the furniture.
Downstairs hallway.

TV room before we moved all the furniture out.
See why we needed new carpet? It wasn't just because the carpet was nasty old, it was also literally ripping apart at the seams!
Upstairs hallway.
Living room.
Baby's room
I literally had 6 different kinds of carpet in my house. I'm so glad to have one uniform carpet everywhere now! I'll have the same carpet throughout the house, the same tile in all the bathrooms, and laminate in the kitchen and entryway.
Baby's closet.
Baby girl's room
Baby girl's closet
Hall closet
Other hall closet

I didn't post pictures of my bedroom or my oldest son's room. But you get the picture. It wasn't much better!