September 27, 2012

Paint It Black

"I wanna see it painted black, painted black 

Black as night, black as coal" 

Paint It Black, Rolling Stones

My decision to paint my interior doors was an easy one and it was based on 4 main factors:

  • I hate anything builder basic. Even when you spend money at the design center, you still end up with a house that looks like everyone else's....and NOTHING like those cool pictures on Houzz. I have the same issues with cookie-cutter landscaping, but that is a whole 'nother blog posting. 

  • I have touches of black all around my house. A picture frame here, a knob there, etc., I felt like I needed a way to ties these items together. 

  • I saw THIS POST and fell in love. Scroll down until you see the black door.

  • I am a huge sucker for all things tan and black. Love, love, love.

Once my decision was made, I got started right away. You see, if I don’t immediately work on a project, my mind will chew on it at the most fun times {oh…2:00 AM to 5:00 AM}. Trust me, I don’t need more reasons to not sleep. Does anyone else get insomnia from home d├ęcor, or is it just me?? I was kind-of hoping to find a support group on this subject….

Here are two techniques that one can use to paint their doors:

(1) Removal of Door.  Honestly, painting it while it was lying down was not worth the effort of the removal and reinstall. Plus, you miss painting it in its room, under its specific lighting conditions.  This method took LOTS of time and four coats of paint, plus extra touch-ups once it was back on the hinges.

(2) Door on Hinges. This method takes three coats, but doesn’t take too much total time – maybe 3 hours (INCLUDING dry time).

Guess which method I used for the majority of my doors?? I'll give you two tries....

Painting Your Interior Doors Black


Black paint, satin finish. I used "Broadway" Behr paint with primer added.
Small roller
Paint Brush
Thin Cardboard
Painters Tape

Step 1: Clean your door. I used the Lysol wipes for this task. 

Step 2: Tape off the handle, lock, hinges, etc. However, if you get some paint on the metal, it scrapes off super easily with your fingernail.

Before = Boring
Step 3: Paint everything you can with the small roller. I used a magazine (or thin cardboard) to place in the space between the door and the moulding.

1st Coat with Roller

Step 4: With your paint brush, paint any area that you missed with the roller.  Important:  Look for any drips and wipe them up... drips will ruin the finished look.

1st Coat Finished!

Step 5: Let this first coat dry for approximately 15-30 minutes. I live in a dry climate, so it only took 15 minutes.

Step 6: Repeat steps 3 and 4.

Step 7: Let this coat dry for about an hour or longer. 

Step 8: At this time, you have to retire your roller.  I'm sorry, but the last coat MUST be completed entirely with your paint brush. You can try it, but I guarantee you will regret it. 

All Three Coats -- Dry Time!

Step 9: Let it dry.

Step 10: Remove the tape and touch-up where necessary.

A GREAT tip: Keeping your moist {hate that word} paint brush and roller wrapped in foil will allow you to avoid washing your brushes/roller out between doors. 

August 06, 2012

{Gag-Me-Grape} Kool-aid Play Dough

A few weeks ago, Sweetpea and I decided to have some fun in the kitchen. She, to my knowledge, has never had the pleasure of playing with play dough. I know what you are thinking... but I am NOT a terrible mama. You see, my little darling LOVES to eat, chew, naw on everything she possible can. As such, I delayed buying any play dough simply because I really didn't want to have her eat it as her afternoon snack!  But after finding a recipe for kool-aid play dough, I figured we would give it a try. Guess what, she DIDN'T eat it.  And honestly, I don't blame her. REAL play dough has a more appetizing smell than the gag-me-grape play dough I made. If you make your own play dough, please use a pleasing scent {strawberry is always nice}.

Gag-Me-Grape Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 pkg Unsweetened, kool-aid
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup boiling water

Step 1: Mix the flour, salt, oil and kool-aid together in large bowl.

Step 2: Add a cup of boiling water to the mix. Mix well. 

It smells worse than it looks.

Step 3: After mixed and cooled a bit, plop it out of the bowl and knead it into a large ball. I would like to state, at this point in time, my kitchen, my counter, my hands -- all smell like gag me grape.

LOOKS just about right.

Step 4: This makes a LARGE batch. SUPER LARGE batch. So, put some in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for future fun. Then hand over a small hunk to the kiddos for fun!!

See those sweet little hand prints!

Yes, paci stayed in. I didn't want to take any chances.

Oh boy! Smashing, squishing, fun!

July 25, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream featuring Dark Chocolate Chips

Not so long ago, I was known as "plain vanilla".  I LOVED just regular, old, plain vanilla ice cream. If I was feeling particularly daring, I might add chocolate syrup or sprinkles. However, that has now changed!  A few weeks ago, my husband and I purchased an ice cream maker -- nothing special, I think it cost a whole whopping $24.00 at Target.  The key (for me) was getting an ice cream maker that used ice and rock salt -- not the kind that you stick in the freezer for hours at a time. Let's face it, when I want something, I generally want it NOW -- not 24 hours from now.  In our new ice cream maker, I tried out The Pioneer Woman's "Blackberry Chip Ice Cream" and it was delicious!!!! This coming from plain vanilla and blackberries are not my favorite berry!  After that, my tastebuds revolted and demand we try different flavors of ice cream, so we tried Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Chip next.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream, with Dark Chocolate Chips

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • bag of dark chocolate or a big bar of dark chocolate

Step 1: Combine the strawberries and 1/4 cup of sugar in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat until the strawberries break down a little and get syrupy.

Step 2: Place strawberries into food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Step 3: Add half-and-half and sugar to saucepan over medium heat. While heating, place 5 egg yolks into separate container and wisk a bit. Splash in some of the warm half-and-half to eggs. The pour eggs over the half-and-half and cook until thick (5 mins). Stir constantly and do not overcook!

Step 4: In a new bowl, add the strawberries and heavy cream. Then pour over the half-and-half/egg mixture. Mix well.

Step 5: Add mixture to your ice cream maker and follow your ice cream maker's instructions.

Step 6: After ice cream has been made, pour in a bag of dark chocolate chips or a chopped bar of dark chocolate. Stir.

Step 7: Freeze until hardened. 

May 12, 2012

Motor Skill Development

For about six months now, Sweetpea has been effectively dropping clothespins into a jar. And she still gets a kick out of it. When she gets them all in, she claps and brings the jar over to me to dump out so she can start over again. This keeps her happily occupied for about 10-15 minutes! A toddler miracle! 

I could do this all day long.

And gone. NEXT!

I've been noticing a lot of super fun crafts on Pinterest dedicated to toddler motor skill development, however, my daughter is still in the "let's see how it tastes" phase. Just last week she flipped out when I took a piece of chalk away from her. You see, she wanted to eat it. She pouted for 2-3 minutes and then attempted to climb the entertainment center to get back her tasty chalk. She was a determined little girl. I don't get it -- eating a carrot is far too disgusting, but chalk.... yummy, yummy?  Anyway, many of the fantastic Pinterest ideas include items that could easily be eaten by Sweetpea -- therefore, they are a no-go at this time.

Then, I had an idea.....  actually, going through our junk gave me an idea.

Andrew and I have been slowly purging our house of junk. My husband, bless his heart, despises going through things and deciding if they are to be kept or thrown away, so he keeps everything. The result of his unintentional hoarding, is about 40 expired credit cards, reward cards, gym membership cards, blockbuster cards, old hotel key cards, blank gift cards, etc. 

The "grand" idea {yes, I'm sure it isn't original}....

Credit cards are hard to swallow and we have tons of them -- all in different colors. I have empty shoe boxes and craft paper for scrapbooking in which I will never actually use for scrapbooking purposes. Plus Mod Podge. I love the smell of Mod Podge. All those items equal a new motor skill toy for Sweetpea. And she loves it!

Not perfect, but who cares?!


Got it!


April 30, 2012

Sweet Monday

What makes Mondays sweet?  SUGAR, of course...  

My morning started out with a nice, tall glass of iced coffee. I found the recipe on the Pioneer Woman's blog, tried it and LOVED it. The recipe calls for sweetened condensed cream - SINFUL, I know. The result was a sugary jolt of caffeine which hasn't really worn off {14 hours later!!}. But seriously, if you like iced coffee and want to save yourself a trip to Starbucks, Google the recipe!

BECAUSE, I have too much sugar running through my veins, I decided to make MORE sugary treats. This time in the form of a peanut butter chocolate covered pretzel sandwich thingy, which All Things Delicious titles "Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Pretzel Sandwiches". Click here to try out the recipe. 

Yummy, yummy {as Sweetpea would say}. I'm off to attempt sleep. Ambien, anyone???

March 11, 2012

Rainbow Cookie Sandwiches

I've been seeing a lot of rainbow inspired treats on Pinterest lately and they inspired me to bake my own {super easy} rainbow creation – rainbow inspired cookies for St. Patrick’s Day!!

These are the easiest cookies ever, so adding the extra steps to dye them different colors really is not a headache. This is coming from one of the most impatient crafters in the world. I need instant gratification!

Rainbow Cookie Sandwiches

1 Box White Cake Mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Eggs
Food Coloring

Step 1: Create the cookie dough. Mix the cake mix, ¼ cup of vegetable oil and 2 eggs together.

Step 2: Grab six bowls and separate the dough by six. This is roughly 3 tablespoons per bowl. Yes, I do know the rainbow has seven colors, but the dough just didn’t stretch that far.

Step 3: Color your dough. For the non-mixed colors, I used about 10 drops of food coloring and it worked well.  I’m no mixologist – but my tip for orange and purple is to start with the “lighter” color and then slowly add the darker to the mix.

Step 4: Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for around 30 mins.

Step 5: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 6: Spray your cookie sheet with Pam and then flour them. Unless you have Parchment -- that is way easier and cleaner!

Step 7: Roll teaspoon portions into little balls and bake for 7 minutes. Let them rest for about one minute after you take them from the oven and then place them on a cooling rack. Repeat for all colors.

While I was rolling and baking, Nora helped clean out a kitchen drawer. Whatever would I do without a super helpful little girl?!?!

Step 8: Put a little frosting on a cookie and then place another one on top. You want the frosting to gush a little, but not too much. My tip is to start with a little frosting and add more as needed.

You will end up with the perfect amount of cookies for a family of four. Which is great… never a good idea to have TOO MANY cookies around the house!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

March 05, 2012

Sanity Savers for the Working Mama

Being a mama is HARD WORK!  When you add a “9-5” job to the mix, the juggling act {with flaming swords} begins! It can be super challenging and you can feel like you are constantly running around without a moment to sit down and rest, however, if you take some time to get organized, then things become a lot easier –almost {almost} seamless. These five “sanity savers” have helped me focus my time on my family.

Polyvore your closet!!!!
My mom use to make us kids layout our outfits the night before school to avoid the morning panic. It definitely helped.  So when I started back to work I figured I needed to do the same thing – except on a weekly basis. My Sunday goal is to spend 30 minutes to find 5 clean outfits for the workweek. I pick out my outfit, coordinating accessories and shoes and put them all together in my closet. Actually, it’s a lot of fun and you’ll quickly discover new outfits within your closet, or you might even justify buying a new accessory or black blazer (e.g. a black blazer could accompany at least 10 different outfits in my closet).

Don't judge me -- I have ZERO style!

Monthly menu planning.
I know, I know, I know… I talk frequently about monthly menu planning.  But I can’t help it, I’m a believer.  It takes a lot of stress off me just knowing what I am going to make for dinner. If monthly planning is too daunting, go weekly – then shoot for two weeks at a time, etc.

Invest in products that make you glow.
Okay, I don’t glow. But the following three items prevent me from looking like a zombie with a meth problem. I can’t speak enough about Philosophy’s Booster C Powder – it really worked to brighten my dull, very tired skin.  If you have dull skin, this product will work wonders!  Also, for my red, tired eyes, Visine saves the day. My point is that you need to invest some time and money into finding something that makes you look good, therefore making you feel good!

It's like heaven on my face.
Hire a cleaning company.
If you think about it, there are very few things in life that you can actually outsource – cleaning is one of them. The average cleaning company will charge between $80-$120 per cleaning…and it is worth every penny.  I now don’t have to spend my weekends deep cleaning the bathroom…instead; I put that time towards my family and that is the goal.

Frequently do laundry.
I use to get around to doing laundry on the weekends and it would take a good chunk of the day to wash, dry, fold and put away. Again, I don’t want to spend time away from my family doing chores! So, as much as I hate it, I do laundry frequently – folding the clothes as I take them from the dryer. I can handle 15 mins of laundry every other day; I cannot handle 15 loads of laundry every weekend.

What tips and tricks do you have for a busy mom?  What has made your life easier? What products make you look like you've slept 8 hours {or even 4 hours}?

February 08, 2012

Toddler ‘Masterpiece’

Normally, I am not a big fan of abstract, but when my 14-month old creates abstract art I love, love, LOVE it! Just look at her beautiful masterpiece {remember, art is in the eye of the beholder}!!  The best part of this project is that it is mess-free for your toddler…not so much for the mama.

Toddler ‘Masterpiece’

Freezer bag
8 x 10 flat canvas
Acrylic paint – be sure to get a “pop” color
8 x 10 frame

Step 1:  Squirt on generous amounts of paint onto the canvas. At the end, I wished I had added more of the pink for my “pop” color and less dark colors – so don’t make my same mistake!

Step 2: Carefully place canvas into the freezer bag and seal the bag.

Step 3: Pass it over to your anxious toddler and let her mush and push the paint around. Nora added a couple of pats and shook it around a little bit before she was done with it.

Step 4: Take a look at the artwork and help your toddler out by pushing the paint around to cover any bare edges.

Step 5: Cut the freezer bag away from the canvas {this is the messy mama part}. Note: do not attempt to slide it out – this will result in the paint scraping off!

Step 6: Let it dry, until it’s dry.

Step 7: Add a coat of Mod Podge and let that dry.

Step 8: Frame and display!

February 04, 2012

Mini King Cakes

It’s snowing like CRAZY in Colorado.  We have about 2 feet of snow on the ground… and it's still coming down.  Its funny to me since this is the day I decided to put up my Mardi Gras wreath! "Louisiana" holiday and snow?  Not so much.

Mardi Gras used to be my favorite holiday.  It was colorful and tasty – not to mention, it sometimes coincided with my birthday and a day off from school. A day off from school, ON my birthday….what’s not to love??!!  Then I moved to Colorado and married a boy from Michigan. Needless to say, my friends and family just couldn't understand Mardi Gras, nor could they appreciate the yumminess of a King Cake.  I tried to share Mardi Gras with some co-workers once…. It went something like this:

Clueless: “Isn’t this just like a large cinnamon roll with sprinkles?”

Person who had visited New Orleans once in their life and therefore an expert on all things Louisiana:  “No, it has a baby inside and whoever gets the baby has to buy the next cake. That’s the whole point. Right Tara, tell us the story!”

Me: {Sigh}

While I no longer attempt to share Mardi Gras with anyone outside of my family {and yes, my Michigan husband has come to appreciate most things Louisiana}, I still put up my Mardi Gras wreath, order a crazy expensive {but worth it} King Cake from Haydel’s, wear beads and make Jambalaya. I guess you could say that Mardi Gras is a time for me to remember and celebrate the state in which I came from….and THAT is a tradition I aim to keep!

So, I know I just made fun of Clueless calling a King Cake an oversized cinnamon roll with sprinkles; but my recipe is exactly that… a cinnamon roll with sprinkles.  However, it's perfect for the family that just wants a small touch of Mardi Gras on February 23rd.  These pictures are actually from last year when I was still on maternity leave… back when I had time to do things like brush my teeth. Sigh….

Mini King Cakes

1 can of cinnamon rolls w/ icing
Sprinkles (purple, yellow and green)

Step 1:  Separate the rolls and form them into rings.  The bigger the hole, the better they will come out.

The hole should be a little bigger than the one pictured.

Step 2: Bake as directed.

Step 3: Smoother with icing, ensuring you lick the excess off your fingers. This is an important step.


Step 4: Cover with purple, yellow and green sprinkles.  You can’t have too many sprinkles!  If you can’t find these colors, make your own with sugar and food coloring.

Step 5: Put on some Mardi Gras beads and enjoy!

January 05, 2012

My Baby Loves Pasta

When was the last time that you enjoyed food this much?