Painted terracotta pots with chalkboard paint labels

March 29, 2012 § 16 Comments

Ever since the beginning of this year I have decided to try my hand at a number of homemade things in an effort to save money. One project I have very much been looking forward to is trying my hand at planting herbs and vegetables. I have never planted before, so I decided to start small with a few herbs and cherry tomatoes. Even though it isn’t much, I know it will save us some cash in the long run. Because we hope to be moving in closer to the city this summer or early fall, I want to be able to bring my plants with me…therefore container planting seems to be the way to go. I decided to paint some terracotta pots to pretty them up a bit!

What I used

  • Leftover house paint (I started off with yellow, but I decided I didn’t like it, so later mixed other paints to make a nice minty color)
  • Thompson’s Water Seal* (this can be found at Lowes for about $5)
  • Chalk paint (0.69)
  • Terracotta pots (I got these at Michael’s using a 40% off coupon…making it 4.79 for the two of them)
  • A paintbrush

How to

1. Spray the interior of the pots with a coat or two of Thompson’s water seal. This ensures the paint on the outside won’t be ruined from the absorbent clay.

2. Wipe down the pot with a damp rag to ensure the pot is completely free of dirt and dust (and price label).

3. Paint the pot with a thick coat of paint.

4. Paint the inside rim, where the dirt won’t cover.

5. Get some chalkboard paint (a little bottle can be found in most craft stores), along with a paint brush and some painters tape (didn’t realize I wanted it until after I took the photo).

6. Tape the guidelines. If you are a perfectionist, measure away…I just eyeballed it.

7. Fill in the guidelines with the chalkboard paint.

8. Let the paint dry completely, then remove the tape. Get out some chalk and label it up! Two adorable painted pots with a labels, all for about $12, seeds included.

I think having these plants will save us more than $12 this summer, so I consider it a worthy investment (not to mention reusing the pots each year)!

P.S. I have since added soil and planted my seeds. I have little basil plant sprouts, but the parsley hasn’t showed up yet. I hope it makes it!

*Note: Some concern has been brought to my attention that the water sealer (more specifically the chemicals in the water sealer) may not be best used on pots that will have edible plants in them. I am researching this now (I sent an email to the manufacturer) and will update you as I get more information. Either way, I am sure that it would still be fine for flowers and other non-edible plants, so paint away!

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Leisurely morning

March 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today is a quiet, leisurely day. I awoke this morning after having one of the worst dreams a mother could have, so I am savoring every little moment with this guy. I didn’t even want to put him down for his morning nap, though he assured me he was very ready for it. Not sure what we’ll do today, but it’ll be a good day, I think.

Mama thoughts

March 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

This past week has certainly been an interesting one. Well, perhaps I should say these past few days since Wednesday, because I honestly can’t remember much farther back than that.

Wednesday a friend and I took our babies to D.C. to see the cherry blossoms and encountered horrific traffic and fussiness from the back seat on the way. By the time we arrived we couldn’t find parking and the kiddos were snoozing anyway. So we decided to take the auto-tour and left the city to pursue lunch at a local pizza place (The Italian Store) and grab some Starbucks for the traffic-y ride home. Even though it didn’t turn out as planned, it was still fun. Here are a few photos I snapped from the car:

The blossoms were lovely.

Thursday morning I woke up with a stomach virus. It was brutal, and I was in bed (and let’s face it, the bathroom) all morning until John had to go work at 1:30. I can honestly say that Thursday was the first day I have ever been apprehensive of staying home alone with Rafe. I was unable to see how I could possibly manage to care for him for the next 5.5 hours all by myself. Thank the Lord he is a fantastic self-entertainer. I spent much of the afternoon on the couch, and Rafe even took an extra long nap (what a blessing!) so I was able to get in a nap that I sorely needed. I was exhausted. Thankfully, it was only a 24 hour bug.

John was away at a staycation with some of his guy friends for the weekend, so I filled my time with running a few errands, going to a lovely bridal shower, going on a long run, painting the master bathroom, and having a friend over Saturday night to catch up on life and watch The Biggest Loser. It was a productive weekend!

All this to say, we’ve been exceptionally busy and I have been having more difficulty getting my thoughts together. There are a thousand things I want to do, and there are a million things I need to do. I am ambitious, and I am organized but my mind has been chaos lately. My brain spins to try to analyze and compartmentalize my innumerable lists, my emotions, my physical needs and capacities and my future dreams for our family. And how to do it all and feel it all and to focus on the big picture and everything. Everything. And I have only one kid! How do you mamas of multiples keep up?

How do you know when you just need to grit your teeth and keep up the pace because the reward will be worth it, and when you need to take a break and start saying no and slowing down? Sometimes I am so sure that I am my biggest hindrance. I think I want to do too much, and I judge the success of my day on my productivity. I think I sometimes obsess over using my time wisely and to the max. I don’t want to get so strung out that I become obsessive. I want to be okay with things not going as planned. No, I want to so flexible that I even enjoy rolling with the punches and just taking it in stride. I want to be composed, I want to be light. How do I do that?

This may just be a guess, but I think simply remembering what I am about (God, my family and making a happy home) will be my guide. Is this item on my to-do list essential to loving God, serving my family, or making my home more beautiful, comfortable, and functional? And ladies, I believe that vacuuming can be all those things. So can  showering. And relaxing. And writing my thoughts down on my little blog. Right? Some things maybe more so than others, I think.

Either way, it’s Monday, and I tried to keep my list to only essentials…and ended up with seven doable tasks.

Ladies, what are your thoughts? How do you keep your brain organized? How do you know when to take a break? How do you know when you need to stop and play with your kids or just get them out of the house instead of finishing those dishes or folding that laundry? What tells you it’s time to relax? How do you prioritize your day?

I know I’m not the only one who tries to be superwoman/mom/wife. I’d love to hear any and all thoughts, advice, or whatever!

 

Weekly menu plan

March 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

This week I have decided to try recipes that I have clipped out of magazines but have never tried before. Unfortunately, I got the stomach flu last week so there were a few days I substituted canned chicken noodle soup and gatorade for the planned meals. Here’s to hoping everything on this list will get prepared this week!  Here’s what’s on the docket:

  • Monday: Potato vegetable medley with rotisserie chicken
  • Tuesday: Curried red lentil soup with dried cherries and cilantro
  • Wednesday: Baked shells and broccoli with ham and cheesy-creamy cauliflower sauce
  • Thursday: Barley salad with herbs
  • Friday: Homemade pizza (since I didn’t get to make it last week)

Potato vegetable medley with rotisserie chicken

(Taste of Home, Dec/Jan 2009)

Ingredients

  • 6 small red potatoes (I may use white potatoes because I already have them on hand)
  • 16 baby carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small onion, cut into wedges
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 ¼ tsp seasoned salt, divided
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

Directions

In a 2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray, combine the potatoes, carrots, onion, broth and 1 tsp seasoned salt. Cover and bake at 400° for 30 minutes. stir in zucchini and remaining seasoned salt. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with parsley.

Curried red lentil soup with dried cherries and cilantro

(Martha Stewart Living)

This recipe seems so yummy. I am just debating whether to use safflower oil or just use simple cooking oil. What are your thoughts? Is safflower oil worth the investment?

Baked shells and broccoli with ham and cheesy-creamy cauliflower sauce

(Martha Stewart Living)

I have recently started getting Martha Stewart Living magazine, so you can expect to see a lot of her recipes on here. Here’s the link to the recipe.

Barley salad with herbs 

(Martha Stewart Living)

I will probably add some fresh veggies and the leftover rotisserie chicken to this one. It sounds so yummy I can’t wait to give it a try! I have a feeling it might be a common summer recipe in this house.

Homemade pizza

(Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)

You can find the recipe for homemade pizza dough here, or if there is a Trader Joe’s nearby, they also have excellent dough for under $2. I’m thinking I might make a veggie pizza, but am not sure about the toppings yet. What are some of your favorite pizza toppings? We’re always up for trying something new :)

Etsy giveaway winners!

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

 

Amanda and I had so much fun putting this giveaway together, and I am excited to announce the winners today! To recap, the first winner gets an 8x 10 print of their choice, and the second winner gets a 5×7 print of their choice. So, without further ado…

The first winner is… Didi K.!

The second winner is… Laura I.!

Thank you all for participating, please check back often :)

Baby also wanted you to know that he had a blast dumping out the cards and mixing them around for me…

Etsy giveaway!

March 20, 2012 § 19 Comments

Hello friends, to celebrate the first day of spring I am posting my first giveaway! A talented friend of mine, Amanda, owns an Etsy shop with adorable prints that are perfect for nurseries, children’s rooms, and kiddo bathrooms…and she is kindly offering two of her prints for this giveaway! I own a few of her prints myself and get compliments on them regularly :) She is a mother of two busy boys and loves to sketch and blog (check it out here) in her spare time. Her little family actually just returned from a trip to France!  Oh, and here are some of my favorite prints:

The details:

1. There will be two winners. The first winner will receive an 8×10 print of their choice. The second winner will receive a 5×7 print of their choice.

2. Not to worry if you don’t win, Amanda has kindly provided a coupon code for 15% off an order (prior shipping) at her shop as well! Just enter HH2012 at checkout.

How to enter:

1. Go to Amanda’s shop (Let’s All Make Believe) and look at her prints.

2. Leave a comment on this post saying which prints are your favorite! You will be automatically entered into the giveaway by commenting.

3. If you would like an additional entry, you can do one of the following three things:

-Subscribe to my blog via email (it’s easy, and you get automatic emails of my new posts!)

-Share my blog via social media (provide a link to your share in the comments section)

-Share Amanda’s Etsy shop via social media (provide a link to your share in the comments section)

Winners will be announced on my blog at 4 p.m. Friday, March 23. Please be sure to include your email address when you are filling out the comment form so I can contact you!

Note: If you already subscribe to my blog and choose to participate, I will automatically give you two entries.

Homemade non-maple syrup

March 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

I made this recipe on Saturday, and I have to admit, it is quite delish. If you don’t have maple syrup or maple extract, this is a yummy alternative! Also, I did go a little light on the spices, so I may add a bit more cinnamon and allspice next time. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ nutmeg
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅛ cup light corn syrup

Directions

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow mixture to simmer, stirring often until the mixture reaches a syrupy yet slightly runny consistency, about 20-30 minutes (it will thicken slightly as it cools). Remove cloves and serve over warm pancakes or waffles with butter. Store in refrigerator and reheat in microwave whenever you need to use it. Lasts at least 3 months. Yields ¾ – 1 cup.

Note: It is easy to let it simmer and whisk every few minutes while getting pancake or waffle batter together.

 

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