Thursday, February 28, 2013

Managing the McKinney House (The Cleaning Edition)

           I have been so overwhelmed lately at how much there is to manage in our household. At times, it seems almost impossible. I don't like the mommy & wife I am when I am so stressed and can't seem to get everything done. Since I can't make there be more hours in a day, I have really tried hard to implement some new ideas as far as cleaning, organizing, living at our house. This is by no means an "I've arrived and here is how you should do things" post. These are simply the things that are working wonderfully for me right now & have freed up time for me to do the things that really matter which are spending quality time with the kids playing, spending time with the hubby, me working out, and having "me" time (working out and "me" time are not one in the same, but that is an entire different post). Without further ado, here is what I am working on:

1. Cleaning little by little.
           I straighten the vanity while I brush my teeth, I put my clothes in the hamper as they come off, I try to always take something to put away whenever I leave a room and head to another end of the house. Saving steps saves time and saving time lets me get more finished. I am trying to teach the rest of my family this concept too.

2. Is it really dirty?
         If an item can be worn again before being washed, I save TONS of time (less washing, drying, folding, IRONING...ugh, and putting away). This is especially helpful for button down shirts or nice slacks that the hubs changes out of as soon as he gets home anyhow (he wears a t-shirt, so I promise it's not gross...not in my book anyways). I started doing it for his work clothes, but I have been doing it a little in my closet too and I really can tell a difference on how much laundry must be done. This works for pajamas and towels (we hang them up once or twice before washing) too!

          I have even done this with snack bowls for the kids. I was washing several a day, but now we stick to fewer of them. Cracker snacks aren't even sticky, so they get to go right back into the kiddos snack drawer. They are big snackers, so this might not be as much of a helpful tip for everyone. It doesn't work for sticky snacks like grapes or strawberries, but still is a time-saver.

3. 10 Minute Chores
         I have figured out that squeezing one or two chores into my morning makes things run much more smoothly in the evenings. I am not an early bird by any means, but 3 days a week, Shawn drops off the kids before work, and I have the wonderful opportunity to get ready ALONE. I usually can wipe down the counters, finish the dishes, or do a load or two of laundry those mornings. I can also do it twice as fast without the "help" of the kiddos which means more time for playing cars, pirates, and babies when I get home with the kids.

4. Clear out the Clutter
         This certainly seems like a no-brainer, but it is an on-going battle. Luckily, Shawn has been really on board with this idea. With less stuff, we have less to contend with and enjoy/value what we do have even more. Anyhow, there is a garage sale in our near future. This has also made me more conscientious about my purchases which was a plus since it also saves money.

5. Changing my way of thinking.
           I have to remind myself that it is ok to take a break & do something enjoyable and leisurely even if every chore is not completed. I seriously doubt that my children will look back on their childhood and talk about what a wonderful mother I was because I was always doing housework.

I am aiming to have realistic expectations that result in a manageable household & time for meaningful memories.

UPDATE: Since starting this post I have had the opportunity to have someone come in once a week to do the deep cleaning. With baby #3 on the way, it could not have come at a better time! I know that is not feasible for every budget, and may not even always be an option for us but I am sure enjoying it at this stage in life when every moment is precious.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Annie Sloan Paint Take Two

Ignore the beautiful backdrop of these photos (haha, I kid). I really don't think photos do this piece justice...I just want you to know that it was super ugly before so you won't be mad that I painted a collectible (arguably) piece of art pottery. 
The before is a piece of Roseville glazed pottery that had a $90 price tag on it. Well, it had LOTS of chips and in my not-so-professional opinion...I decided it was no longer worth $90. And so I painted it. Ole Annie surprised me good this time. I didn't sand or prime and it stuck just fine to the slick glaze of the pitcher. 
Once painted and distressed with the dark wax, I thought the lines were much more highlighted without all the distraction of the spongepaint and glazing. I was left with a cute piece of home decor that I can actually display in my home.
The color used was Versailles plus clear wax and a light coat of the dark wax. 

Check out my other Annie Sloan Project HERE.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Annie Sloan Paint Take One

This project didn't start off as an Annie Sloan project, but was a spraypainting project gone bad. A couple months ago, I finally decided to get my hands on some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to see what the fuss was all about. So after lots of selling on ebay, I finally had enough saved up in my paypal account to get an assortment of colors. I watched lots of tutorials, scoured pinterest, and read all kinds of tips from the Purple Painted Lady and others too. I ordered online from Robyn Story Designs and was super pleased with the excellent customer service by phone & how fast my order arrived.

I got an assortment of the sample pots and 3 quarts, one of each wax, and one wax brush. I tried to start off with some smaller projects before tackling refinishing a vanity and a dresser.

I had this super heavy mirror that matched really great when we had red sofas. This beauty was a housewarming gift shortly after Shawn & I got married. Our home decor was super limited then and it was special since it was one of our first home items. Mirrors are cute & functional, but red & gold get old especially once you've sent your tired red couches to live with your brother at college.

I went on a spraypainting binge one weekend and sprayed it white. It turned out quite UGLY! I hung it on the wall and loathed it for a couple months.I realized the errors of my spraypainting ways and began with the Paris Gray Annie Sloan Chalk paint.
I did one coat of Paris Gray, followed by a clear wax with the wax brush, and a light coating of dark wax applied with an old t-shirt.

Ok, so here goes...I thought the paint was OK....but I wasn't in love. I am really hesitant about not loving it though, because I had a difficult time finding any negative reviews online. Everyone seemed to have a positive experience. There are alot of DIY chalk paint recipes out there, and I have tried one with a little success so I'll post more on that later.

Honestly, I think the wax is the "magic" part of the paint. Basically my white paint was primer so this wasn't a real test of the actual coverage quality of the chalk paint. I did like how quickly everything dried and I think I used about 2 ounces of paint and then a small amount of each wax.

I will be posting some more projects...big and small. I am going to give you a sneak peak of my observations though in case you are dying to try it out too!
  • I like the small sample pots for little projects, easy to open, easy to store, easy to see the color.
  • The colors that Annie Sloan offers are beautiful and elegant
  • The dark wax is an easy way to distress or soften the look of a piece.
  • The clear wax does deepen the color which can be good but may leave you with a different shade than you had intended. I would not use ASCP on any projects where you need a very specific hue.
  • Haven't decided how I feel about just using the clear wax with no distressing since the best feature of the dark wax is that it does hide any imperfections. (I am working on the dresser and vanity without distressing so I will let you know how it goes)
  • ASCP is more sensitive to the cold than traditional paint which isn't ideal for garage projects
  • The paint and wax have a very mild scent because of the low VOC which is ideal for indoor projects and pregnant folks.
  • I really enjoyed using a new technique for painting and distressing...the biggest factor that would deter me from using this paint for all projects is price. 
  • The round brush is interesting, but I prefer an old t-shirt just for easy clean up and I thought it was easier to apply the wax evenly.
  • I think that ASCP is ideal for small projects, I have mixed reviews about using it on larger pieces of furniture just because I have had success with painting and distressing using traditional latex paint that is about $20 per gallon versus $35 per quart (see below: chair painted and roughed up with a putty knife.)
Thanks for your patience with all the unedited photos and mostly from my phone, but I am doing good these days just to knock out some projects at all. Thanks for looking and let me know if you have had an Annie Sloan experience.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

DIY Christmas Glitter Branches

After a lunch date recently, my husband was kind enough to check out all the beautiful Christmas trees in one of our local home decor stores. These are like the Macy's trees, absolutely adorably over-decorated and you would have to sell your soul to be able to afford to purchase the tree as is. Needless to say, I did leave inspired! I loved all the picks and oversized tree decor, so I was determined to create some of my own. Glitter is such a fun (and sometimes messy) way to get a lot of bang for your buck...especially for holidays!

I love branches for home decor...they are usually free, readily available, and make me feel like everything I own came from Anthropologie . I think these would be lovely for a vase or stuck in the tree or even create some smaller ones for wreathes. I plan on also glitter dipping some pinecones. These would also be fun for Halloween with black or orange glitter.

Here is what I did (with a few of my lessons learned in between):

You need: 
Branches (I used my handy fiskars pruning shears & hit the backyard for stick hunting)
                Glue (I used ModPodge (or make your own), cause it was on hand)
                Paint brush (to apply glue, spongy or bristle brush is ok)
                3 Posterboards (I had 1, but 3 would expedite the process)

Designate one posterboard for applying the glue to the branches. Use the other two solely for glitter. Lay the branch on one of the glitter posterboards and pour the glitter over it very generously. Then, move the branch to the 2nd glitter posterboard. Pour the glitter from the posterboard back into the container and repeat until your branch is thoroughly coated.

I tried using Alene's Tacky Glue Spray was a FAIL. It dried too quickly before I could apply the glitter. The overspray used up alot of glitter that ended up stuck to the posterboard.

The mod podge worked great and really made the branches super sturdy once it dried.

With one canister of glitter and one mod podge, you could make TONS of these branches! If you are put off by the price of mod podge, try making some at home from this recipe from Pinterest.

If you are put off by the mess of glitter, and like the look of shimmering branches, try some different finishes of spray paint until you get the look you are wanting.

Cinnamon Ornaments

The photo above is from the recipe on the McCormick website. I used their recipe & added 1/3 cup glue after reading some posts online. It made the dough stiffer and less crumbly. The dough does begin to harden after 30 minutes or so.  

Here is what all you need:
1 cup cinnamon + a little extra
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup white glue
cookie cutters
wax paper
rolling pin
ribbon (for hanging)

Get Ready!

The ingredients:
Mix 3/4 cup applesauce, 1 cup cinnamon, 1/3 cup glue in a bowl.

Have a rolling pin, cookie cutters, & a straw handy

Use a little cinnamon on wax paper to keep the dough from sticking and roll it out.

Use cookie cutters (stars, cross, angel, gingerbread man) to punch out shapes.

Poke a small hole in the top of each one for a string to hang it on the tree. Let dry a day or two on a cooling rack or cookie sheet.

These smell wonderful and our recipe made about 15 three to four inch ornaments.I am using twine and glittery ribbon to hang these. Hoping to package some up cute in cello-bags for gifts from the kids for teachers and grandparents.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween... Eli's Birthday Dinner

Argggg, Mate!

We have been celebrating Eli's birthday all week. He turned 3 today and this year has been so exciting now that he can grasp the concept of birthdays and all the festivities that go with it. I wanted to do something special ON his actual birthday so while I was at work today, I had a genius last-minute plan to whip up some Pinterest Halloween treats tonight. I made a list and scurried all around the store. We decided on mummy dogs, Jack-o-lantern cheese, & dirt cups. It dawned on me about the time the mummy dogs finished cooking, that I hadn't planned any side dishes. I diced up some strawberries too and called all that dinner.

Here is where the festivities began with cheesy jack-o-lanterns:


We took a break to play with one of the birthday presents for a bit:

Jack-O-Lantern Cheese & Mummy Dogs:

The dirt cups were a pretty big hit!

Any of these would be such a fun treat if you have time this Halloween weekend. I am also hoping to squeeze in making some Boo-Nana Pops too.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bean Scooping

So you can probably tell that Eli really enjoys helping in the kitchen. If you have more than one kiddo, you could probably have guessed that Mabry wants to do everything her big brother does. Eli actually started out cooking dinner, but thought Mabry's cooking activity looked much more fun. I read about Bean Scooping a while back and it seemed completely impractical because of the mess. Kids are always making messes anyways so a "planned" mess seemed ok and it kept them totally occupied while I tried a new recipe from Pinterest
 I had part of a mixed jar of beans and let them go to town "cooking." I have figured out that area rugs are a good way to contain a mess to a certain area. I tell the kids they have to stay right there if they want to "cook," sometimes they need reminders, but it works well overall. This was on the mat in our kitchen, so I just gave it a quick sweep once they were in the tub after dinner.
 Eli liked putting them in the plastic jar and shaking it up like a milk shake.
 Mabry was more about spooning them from jar to pot and stirring.
This was a fun activity for both kids. Best of all, it was free since the beans were out of date anyhow.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Toddlers in Triathlons

Ok, He is almost 3, so he may technically be a pre-schooler, but that wouldn't have been a very catchy title.Eli had his first triathlon race and did awesome! I wasn't there to see it in person but Daddy was sweet enough to make sure mommy got photos! Eli made Shawn change his shirt before they left the house so that they could match. Call me cheesy, but having a mini-me seems like an awesome idea.
I love you, Eli. Mommy is so proud of you! I love that our family is enjoying an active lifestyle and I think this was a great way for Shawn to share one of his hobbies on a much smaller scale with Eli. From what I hear, Mabry wanted to be right in the middle of it, so I am sure both will be in it next year which might drum up some friendly, sibling competition.

Home Made Ice Cream Cake

My Hubby's most favorite candy is Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and my son loves helping mommy in the kitchen so this was pretty cool. Not sure that I will do it again for the following reasons:

1. Our deep freezer is in the upstairs attic of our semi-detached garage and my inside freezer was too narrow to accommodate the 9 inch cake pans.
2. I was so tempted to buy everything Reeses Brand and to make it taste better than Baskin Robbins, so I spent alot of money on this cake because it has 500 ingredients.
3. It was pretty time consuming and we have a local Baskin Robbins where it would have cost less, I wouldn't have been sticky up to my elbows, and I wouldn't have a sore bum from running up and down the stairs.

All that aside though, it was a great fun time for me and Eli. He was thrilled to help with Daddy's cake. If you are brave enough to try the ice cream cake, I'll break it down for you how I did it (which is the very unprofessional, unefficient, yet tasty way).

 I baked a box cake mix in 2 nine inch round pans. Let cool and slice the hump off the top of each. I saved one hump to use as the top layer of the cake. I froze each layer between wax paper. While it was getting frozen, I let the ice cream soften (mix in candy if you like) and I lined the 9 inch pans with saran wrap. Scoop in the softened ice cream in the pans and squish out flat. Freeze until hardened. Then you are ready to layer. I did a layer of cake, layer of fudge topping (I read they do that at dairy queen) then a layer of Reeses cups, then ice cream and repeat til done. Refreeze cake until hard and then top with frosting and decorate (I used miniature Reeses). Freeze a final time to let decorations harden and then it is ready for wrapping in saran wrap and storing til ready to eat. We kept it about a week all wrapped up in the freezer. It sliced fairly easily with a knife that had been run under warm water. The hard work paid off, but this dessert is very rich! This recipe could certainly be simplified to be more budget friendly and less time consuming.

Next year, this is what Shawn is getting as his cake:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

10 Minute Dinner & Under $10 too!

I saw a recipe ad in a magazine & in huge letters, it said "Less than $2 per serving." I remember thinking "Big Whoop, everything we cook is $2 or less per serving and way yummier than that photo." This recipe cost me about $7.50 and made 6 HEARTY servings. We didn't do side dishes, but would have been good with squash/zucchini, salad, or french bread. I like that all the ingredients for this can be kept on hand in the freezer and pantry. Another perk was that it was easy...and fast.

I like fast dinners. Fast dinners that are delicious are even better. Fast dinners that have some nutrition value are the best....and when the kids eat it and the husband likes it too, it is even better! I baked 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (marinated in Italian dressing) last night, I chopped three for this recipe (I chopped and froze the other three). Having the meat part of a dish already cooked makes cooking nutritious meals much more realistic for our family.

Frozen Spinach ($1)
Pasta (FREE with a $0.50 coupon that was doubled)
3 chopped chicken breast (about $4)
1 Jar Alfredo ($2.50, definitely was worth it to get a better brand)

Put the spinach in a pyrex dish covered with saran wrap (no added water) and microwaved 5 minutes.
Boil Noodles. After you drain the noodles, add them back to the pot. Add chopped chicken, spinach, and Alfredo sauce. Be like me and stretch the sauce a little further by rinsing the jar with milk, half & half, or cream. Mix all together till warm and delicious. If you happen to have some fancy cheese on hand, add it on in there too (see below). We LOVE this garlic pepper on EVERYTHING. It does have a little sodium but not near as much as garlic salt (ick).
And Voila! Ok, my finished photos are never very impressive, but that is usually because I have two hungry kiddos needing my assistance by then. Trust me though that this would be a beautiful dish to make the next time you have a few guests....and you won't spend the whole night in the kitchen either.
Mabry and Eli loved this...even the spinach part. This will be one of our weekly meals, I may try fresh spinach next time, or broccoli, or zucchini....Oh the possibilities!