Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Layered Drinks

We love holidays around here and we love celebrating with good food and great drinks! These fun layered drinks are sure to be a hit at your Fourth of July bash and have your guests wondering how the heck you did it! Want to know how to get those crisp layers without mixing all your colors into one big mess? Keep reading and we'll spill all the tips and tricks to getting it right (because trust us.....we got a few wrong trying).

The big trick to layered drinks is the sugar content and lots and lots of ice. You need to choose 2 or 3 beverages with varying sugar contents (for example: 30 g sugar, 15 g and 0 g). Fill your cup or drink dispenser all the way to the top with ice. Don't skimp and don't skip this step. This is important because it is going to be a shield to prevent your colors from mixing. You are going to layer your beverages by sugar content with your zero calorie beverage being the last to go in. Fill your cup or container approximately 1/3 full of your beverage with the highest sugar content. Pour the next beverage in very, very slowly; making sure to pour it directly onto an ice cube. This will cause the beverage to lightly trickle down around the ice instead of swirling down and mixing with the previous drink. Lastly, pour your zero or very low calorie beverage on top. 

In the example above I used Sobe Pina Colada (25g), Hawaiian Punch Polar Blast (15g) and Powerade Zero Fruit Punch flavor (0g). 

For my sons Eagle Court of Honor I made a layered drink in a large, clear canister following the same instructions as above. That time I used Fruit Punch on the bottom, Blueberry Pomegranate Gatorade (the regular kind.....be sure not to use the G2 unless using for a top layer, because it is low sugar) and Sprite Zero for the top layer.

Although I used red, white and blue as my colors in both these examples, you could get creative and try other colors if using for a baby shower or other holiday. Just be sure to vary your sugar content and go crazy with the ice! Give these fun layered drinks a try and you're sure to impress your guests at your Fourth of July bash this year! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

How to Make a Rental Feel Like a Home

Renting a home can be tricky. With stipulations in lease agreements, it can begin to feel like you are paying a whole lot of money to settle. But with the proper approach, you can turn settling into "settling in," and your rental house (however temporary it may be) can begin to really feel like a home. 
Over the past few years of consistently renting homes, I have gotten pretty good at adjusting my decor from place to place to make each new space work for me, and utilizing the space I am given (or compromising on the space I was NOT). Even for those who own their homes, making them feel comfortable and customized can be a challenge. The tips I've learned can help give warmth and life to any living situation, and will one day help me when I am finally ready to purchase a home of my own. So after all this practice, I'd like to share with you a few of the tips I've picked up to feeling at home in borrowed space.

Introduce Personal Elements:

Nothing makes a home feel more homey than reflection of personality, and reminders of things you love. Displaying photographs of family and friends is a wonderful daily reminder of the people who love you most, which I find instantly brightens up my day, and makes me feel more comfortable. Find attachment with your decor. Your home can feel much more personalized when you are connected with the elements in your design-that old pillow your great grandmother made decades ago, or the wall art you created yourself. I like to think my home tells a story; a story about me. With every project I complete and improvement I make, my little work in progress becomes a bigger part of me, and I of it.

Find Out Painting Limitations:

Each lease agreement is different. You'll want to check with your landlord to find out what the policy is with painting. Then decide on what approach you are going to take based on their answer. Some landlords are completely okay with changes (I got lucky there), and you can paint to your heart's content. At about $20 a can, it is the easiest and most effective way to change the whole feel of a room.

A simple coat of paint can drastically alter the look and feel of a room.
Most landlords will allow paint changes, however, they require you to pre-approve the color with them. That's great! We can work with that. In some instances, they will require you to paint it back to the original color before you move out. In those cases it is up to you to decide if it is worth the effort, based on the amount of time you plan on being a tenet there and the necessity of the change. If you are unable to make changes to the paint, you'll want to think of other ways to brighten up your walls. Vibrant wall art can bring excitement to boring walls. Just make sure before hanging anything that you are allowed to put nailholes in the walls. Since they are extremely easy to fill, most rentals allow it. If not, there are so many great options now for hanging things without a hammer. Command Strips are very strong and sturdy, and even come in hooks. Some of them can hang up to eight pounds!
If you want a more allover effect, gallery walls are great for filling up spaces, or if you are feeling ambitious, you could try something like this genius paint swatch wall (although I probably wouldn't recommend getting all of your swatches from the same store-I somehow don't think they'd appreciate that).


Bring the Outside In:

Bringing natural elements into the home automatically make it feel more alive. You can even look for inspiration in your own back yard. Flowers and plants instantly bring life into a room and brighten up any space. Plus studies show that people who keep plants are more psychologically healthy, positive, and productive. Score!

Give Yourself a Warm Welcome:

They say first impressions are everything. The same goes for your home. The first things you see when approaching or entering your home should be inviting. Whether it be a front porch, an entry way, or even just a welcome mat in front of your apartment door, invite yourself in! Wreaths are a simple and stylish (okay... most of the time) way to warm up a front door, and work well with limited space. Follow us to see our upcoming post on how to dress up wreaths to fit every season, and fun DIY wreath ideas.

Change The Little Things:

While you may not be able to do much about the more permanent fixtures in your home, there are a lot of small things that can be changed to personalize your home, that can be changed right back with minimal efforts. Light switch and outlet covers can be changed in seconds with a screwdriver. Knobs and handles on cabinets and drawers are also incredibly easy to change and come in a wide variety of colors and styles. It's amazing what small changes such as these can do to the overall appearance, and again, can be changed back in no time at all. 

Utilize Space: 

Using the windowsill for storage is ALMOST enough to distract you from the hideousness of the window.
Though it might not always be ideal, work with the space you have to make it work for you. Windowsills, counter tops, plant shelves, tops of cabinets; give these spaces purpose by using them to help enhance your decor.

Create Comfort:

Throw pillows and blankets are a great way to help you feel relaxed, and give the home an air of warmth and comfort.  You can also bring comfort in your home with lighting. While lease agreements can limit the changing of light fixtures (although it's usually allowed if they can easily be changed back), it is important to be mindful of the light (both natural and artificial) in each room, and make adjustments accordingly. If you can, curtains are a wonderful way to both add style, and block out unwanted light, or when drawn, invite in natural light. If you can't hang fixtures such as curtains or blinds, make sure the lighting in each room is suitable by adding lamps. Temperature, color, and scents also have an effect on comfort levels, so be mindful of each of those on a day to day basis. 

Most importantly, be sure that whatever it is you decide to do to your home, it is an inviting atmosphere for you. After all, it's where YOU live. What makes you feel most at home? Have you made any adjustments to your home to make it where you want to live? We'd love to hear tips or feedback from you! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How to Regrow Green Onions Indoors

Welcome back to Tip Tuesday lovelies! I've got another life changer for you today. And, it's so easy! Like seriously, you have no idea. But you're about to.

You guys! It's true! You CAN re-grow and re-grow onions to your little hearts content off just one bunch!!! This is another one of those gems that I saw on Pinterest that I had to try for myself. And it's easy peasy, so totally my kind of project.

Here's the details:

Next time you use the green part off the top of a bunch of green onions, leave the white portion at the base with at least a small amount of green above (this is necessary to help with photosynthesis I assume....plus, I just wanted to sound smart by using the word photosynthesis.) I typically leave my stem about 1 1/2"-2" in length.

Place stems in a jar of water and set in an area that will get some natural light. It does not have to be direct sunlight just some natural light. I leave mine on my kitchen counters and it is a good 10-15 feet away from the nearest window and mine still grow great! You will begin to see growth after just one day and it's such a fun project for the kids to watch and monitor the growth. What a fun little project for them to even take care of and be "in charge" of. They'll love it!

You will be able to re-grow them back to full size in approximately a week. Trim off when you need some and they'll just grow back again! And again! They're persistent little suckers I tell ya! Cuz trust me, I can kill just about anything and these just keep growing and growing for me. I can usually regrow each bunch about 5 or 6 times before I notice they're beginning to grow slower and not taste as potent. After all, the water does not have any nutrients for growth. At this point you can try placing them in the ground and they should still take hold in the soil or you can just toss them and start over with a new one. Some claim you can regrow these indefinitely, but I have not found that to be the case, but 5 or 6 more bunches after only paying for one? That's good by me!

A few tips I've found:

I change the water daily or at least every other day to keep it fresh. Trust me when I say if you don't do this, they will begin to stink! You may notice in the photo above that there is one stalk that is starting to change color a bit a few inches above the base. This occasionally happens if you haven't changed the water frequently enough and on occasion it happens even when I'm diligent about changing the water. I have found it helps to rinse the onions themselves off every few days to keep them from getting slimy. In this case, I just rinsed them off and then peeled that portion away from that stem. That onion still grew perfectly and didn't have any other issues.

I've heard this works great with several other items such as garlic, celery, parsley, cilantro and romaine just to name a few. We haven't tried any of these yet, but we'll get on it and be sure to report back our success (or lack of). In the meantime I found this website that details 10 Vegetables & Herbs You Can Eat Once and Regrow Forever. Who knew?

Have you tried this before? Have you tried regrowing any other vegetables and herbs? We would love to know what's worked for you. Please share in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 23, 2014

How To Upcycle Old Candles

Don't throw away your old, used candles with leftover wax! Melt them down to make new ones in just a few easy steps!

I'm addicted to candles! I love when my home smells good and I love the warm and homey feel that burning candles brings into it. So when my lovely candles burn down to where they no longer light, I shed a little tear or two. Especially when there is still a layer of waxy goodness at the bottom of the jar. Do you hate to let that go to waste as much as I do? Well wipe away those tears my friends! I'm here to share with you a quick DIY to upcycle those old candles into new ones!
I began by collecting a few old candle jars.

Okay, so it was more than a few.

I just didn't have the heart to throw them away! You know we're all about frugal here.

Let's get down to business......

What you'll need:

Old Candles 
Pot or Double Broiler
New wicks and tabs (Less than $3 for 6 at craft stores, but don't forget to use a 40% off coupon!)
Pencil or Popsicle stick (to hold up the wick)
Oven mitt

How to do it:

1.) Bring water to boil in a medium to large pot or double broiler (Use the ugliest pot you can find. It's what all the cool people do.)
2.) Place candle jar in pot of boiling water. Leave in boiling water until all wax is melted.

3.) Place your new wick in the center of the clean container or jar you will be using. I like to place a small amount of wax at the bottom of the jar before placing my wick tab in. This helps to hold the wick in place (you can also use a glue stick to glob some glue on the bottom).

4.) Pour melted wax into jar. 

This is the final layer of my first jar. I chose to melt the candles separately but I could have melted them all at the same time when using the same scent.  To do that I would've just cut the wax out of each jar (using the method described below) and added them all to one jar to melt.

There are several methods for melting down old candles. I also tried melting my wax in the microwave and got similar results. To do this, cut into your candle with a knife (it should cut very easily) and remove the wax from the jar. Discard the used wick base (tab). 

Continue cutting until your candle wax is broken into pieces.

Place cut up pieces of wax in a microwave safe container. 

Microwave on 50-60% power in 1 minute intervals. This could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes if your microwave is a dinosaur like mine. Lightly stir after each interval until your wax is completely melted.

When using different scents, make a layered candle with similar colors and scents. For this candle I grouped together fall and "baking" scents and poured them into my candle in layers. Tip: Notice the little black soot at the bottom of the wax? This is heavier than the wax and sinks to the bottom, making it easy to avoid pouring out or you can easily scoop it out with a spoon before pouring into new jar.

Let each layer cool until hardened (at least 15 minutes) before adding the next layer to prevent the colors and scents from mixing.

Voila! Now you have a beautiful layered candle with some of your favorite scents!
Bonus! Your house will smell SO good when making these!

Additional Tips: 

I bought my initial container at the Dollar Store and then once I had an empty candle jar, I washed that one out and used it for the next candle. That way I was only out a dollar for the first container and for all the others, I was using the previous jar.

To wash out old candle jars. Add a small amount of dish soap and fill jar with boiling water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes and then carefully pour out water. In most cases the jars will now wipe clean with a paper towel. If wax is especially stubborn, a little more dish soap, water and elbow grease should do the trick!

You could really get creative with containers! Mason jars look great and tea cups would look really cute! I have even seen halved fruit peels filled with melted wax. I hear they burn even more fragrantly. 

There you have it! How to melt down your old candles to make new ones! You'll be so proud of yourself for stretching a dollar and your house will smell amazing! It's a win win!

Thanks for stopping by! Do you save your old candles? Have you ever melted them down before? We'd love to hear your tips in the comments!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake (Easy, no bake recipe)

Welcome back to Tip Tuesday! Today's tip is a fun, easy, time saver for parties, birthdays and any special occasion warranting a special dessert (such as Tuesday for instance).

I love ice cream. I love cake. Ice Cream Cake? Even better! Your family is going to love this yummy ice cream cake and you are going to love that you can throw it together in 10 minutes flat with no baking whatsoever!

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake


12 Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 tub of Whipped Cream
Magic Shell Chocolate
Chocolate or Caramel Topping

Oreo Cookies (crumbled)
Diced Candy Bars (Snickers, Skor, Twix, Reese's, M&M's, etc.) For this cake I used a Snickers bar and crushed Skor bits. Yum!


Begin by layering 3 unwrapped ice cream sandwiches on your plate or platter.

Next, alternate 3 more ice cream sandwiches going the opposite direction.

In between each layer, spread a thin layer of Magic Shell across the top of the ice cream sandwiches. This will become your "glue" to hold the layers together.

Continue stacking until you have reached your desired height. I chose to have four layers on this cake.

Spread whipped cream around all four sides. You don't have to be too neat about this. See...... easy!

Drizzle with chocolate (or caramel) topping, letting the topping run down the sides. Sprinkle with crumbled toppings.

Before serving, place cake in freezer for approximately 20-30 minutes to stiffen the cream up before cutting into it. You may notice my ingredients sat out a little long and are puddling at the base of the cake, but it didn't stop anyone from digging in!

Then sit back and watch the amazement in their eyes when they see you made them an ice cream cake!!! Maybe that mom of the year award might not be so elusive this year! You can serve this for the awards ceremony.

So there you have it! If you're looking for an easy, ice cream cake that will win you rave reviews, this is your gold mine!

Try it out and let us know what you think! What's your favorite quick, no fail dessert?

Friday, May 9, 2014

How to Build a Coffee Table in a Matter of Seconds

The coffee table in my living room is often a topic of conversation for people who come to my home for the first time.  With it's original, aged wood appearance, and it's two-tiered design, it is not like anything most people are used to seeing.  This unique table is one of my favorite pieces in my home for the simple reason that it literally cost me nothing, and even better; took me less than a minute to assemble. With how simple it was to create, I almost feel sheepish accepting compliments on it. Let me show you just how easy it was!

All you will need is two wooden crates. I have seen wood boxes like this priced very reasonably at thrift and antique stores many times. I got lucky a few years back, when on a camping trip, hiking deep within the woods, I stumbled upon a wrecked and long abandoned camping trailer. The license plates years past expiration, the walls all but completely deteriorated, and most of the contents missing or weathered beyond use, it had obviously been long forgotten. Me, being the curious person I am, I decided to take a look around, which ended up being such a great idea! I found so many wonderful and interesting artifacts, many of which I display in my home to this day.  Having been deserted so long, most items were incredibly weathered and rusted, which gave them a very interesting and unique appearance. Two such items were the wooden crates pictured above. I excitedly made my way back to camp with my unexpected loot.
I wasn't entirely sure what I would do with it all, but after getting it home (and giving it all a good scrubbing down), I had the boxes sitting in my living room, and I kept thinking to myself how well they belonged in the room; how nicely they fit in with my decor. Then, suddenly it dawned on me! I had been needing a coffee table for some time, but hadn't been able to find one that I liked that also fit my price range, and my tiny living room. Light bulb! I loved the boxes so much, I decided to turn them into a coffee table, which made the perfect addition to my otherwise lacking front room.

I simply turned the long thin box up-side-down to create the table surface, and turned the smaller box on its side to create the base. I would like to tell you it took more skill on my part, but it really was as effortless as that! I loved the way that it came together; I love the texture of the wood, and the way that it blends so well with the many natural elements in my living room, and how the age of the wood somehow made it look both antique and modern.
To make it easier to transport (I was about a month away from moving into another home), and to keep future changes in design as an option, I chose not to attach the boxes together. Had I decided to  make it a more permanent piece, seconds with a hammer and a few nails would have done the trick!

Having the base of the table be made from an enclosed box brought another interesting design element to the table (no pun intended...okay...maybe a little intended); it created a built-in shelf. I love the versatility that lends to the table. At times I like to leave it open, or occasionally I will create simple vignettes on the bottom shelf to utilize the space and to add some variety to my living room decor.  

Voila! By thinking inside the box, I managed to think outside of the box. With only two materials, and practically no skill required, I was inspired to create a coffee table that I hope in turn inspires you.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tip Tuesday

Welcome back to Tip Tuesday, where we share our favorite tips with you! This week's tip was completely inspired by the never-too-early glimpses of warmer weather we've been getting lately. Every year when spring has finally sprung, I get a jolt of motivation, and spring into home improvement mode. This beautiful phase full of sunshise and comet usually lasts only until the hot summer sun comes and dries up all my motivation. Like too many wonderful things, it's gone too soon. So I have to take advantage of what little time I have. We're talking serious cleaning and reorganizing, yard face lifts, attempting to plant things that grow, getting out of bed on Sundays-the whole shabang!
The biggest roadblock I've encountered in attaining that perfect(ish) home I'm always striving towards is, and always has been: yardwork! I loathe it! My thumb, like my grass, is definitely not green, and I hate digging around in the dirt. So when I suddenly felt inspired plant things, (even to spruce up the front yard a bit), I quickly got to work, excited about this new challenge.
So in celebration of my temporary insanity, I present to you this week's tip: 

Turn it into a flowerpot!
I wanted to bring some life to my front porch and the inside of my home. I have always been in love with succulents, even more so recently, and heard they were easy to take care of; a major plus. Since I can never seem to be satisfied with the conventional, I didn't want to plant them in just ordinary flower pots. So I set out shopping in my own home, thrift stores, and at my go-to discount stores to find cute little containers to plant my plants in. I found so many fun alternatives to flower pots, I had to restrain myself from buying more (after already going way over my budget on just the plants). These were some of my favorite finds:

Not too bad! Give or take a few cents on the bowl from Gordman's. By the way, if you join their mailing list, they regularly send out 20% off coupons. The small plate under the bowl I got at Thai Pan (who also sends out amazing coupons if you sign up) on clearance for $.99. The Candy Dish (originally from a thrift store) was a milky white, but a quick coat of white spray paint on the outside (not the inside! Plants don't care for spray paint!) gave it that nice solid white color. The plant stand, amazingly, was a thrift store find I scored for a whopping $2. The price tag was what made the hour of intense cleanup I had to do to make it usable well worth the effort! 
All of the succulents were from Home Depot, who has an incredible selection and great prices. The only thing to look out for when omitting flower pots is overwatering- since there is no drainage, take extra care to not water more than needed. Pst! If you are like me, and have a knack for killing plants, artificial is honestly a great way to go with succulents. Since they naturally have a somewhat of an artificial look, it makes it much easier to cheat. We won't tell!

Thanks for stopping by! We hope we've helped you to think outside the flowerpot. Join us weekly for Tip Tuesdays, as we pass our favorite tips on to you!