Make Something New by Thinking Outside the Box

Have you ever made something you did not like and your family adores? That happened to me in high school. I made the square container below in ceramics class in high school. When I brought it home I did not like it at all and gave it to my Grandma and Grandpa because they loved it. They thought it would be a perfect tissue holder and put it in their house for 20 years. That thing was there forever! It was kind of symbolic now that I think of it. Often times family members will love and cherish us despite our flaws. And they sure loved me.

My Grandpa died when I was in college and my Grandma died last year. I knew I had to take it when they died because it was something I had made for them that they cherished, much like they cherished me.

Here is a closeup of another side. It was an Ombre heart and star pattern ceramic piece.


They even found felt to put on the bottom they cared for it so much. There was NO WAY I could throw it away, but I tried keeping it on my counter with tissues and I really did not like it. I am a big proponent of Marie Kondo and she says to keep things that bring you joy. This brings me joy, but not with tissues in it. I decided I would put a plant in it instead. I was thinking I could get foam and stick the plants in. Or I could buy a prepotted plant from Target, take that out, get the foam and put that in the "tissue holder".
After I got the plant I realized it was a perfect size to put in the "tissue holder" as is. No foam or cutting required. My recycled project took me 5 seconds when I got home.This plant and "tissue holder" stays in my bathroom. Instead of making me cringe when it contained the tissue paper, now it brings me joy.  I love the look of the plant I got and I picked out a cute clock from Target to go with. I can think of my Grandma and Grandpa and the love they had for me every time I go to my bathroom and that is several times a day.

I have joined with some other bloggers this week to showcase some more ways to recycle old crafts. 


There is even a giveaway!
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How to Save Space and Stuff Pillow Shams with Poly-fil

I love how this room has come together. Click here to see what it looked like before. We have a teal loveseat, green fireplace and green background from the windows in this room. I picked out some pillows for this room and wanted to make sure they did not clash. The last thing we have to do is paint the stair rail. We have a ton of greens in this room. I thought these tan pillow case covers from Bed Bath and Beyond were perfect! I also used these on my patio for some pillows that were green. I stuffed them with Poly-fil and am going to show how easy it is today. Fairfield World, the makers of Poly-fil is turning 80 years old this year! (#fairfield80, #polyfil, #poly-fil, #FFWcelebration) I received the Poly-fil and these goodies for this project.To make these pillows I got some pillow shams from Bed Bath and Beyond. I have one bag of 32 ounces of Poly-fil. I opened the bag and filled the pillows to my desired "stuffiness". That is the great thing about filling pillows, they can be as hard or soft as desired. We like medium stuffiness here.Here is the finished product. I love how they turned out. They fit in really well with the decor in the room and are super comfortable to sit and take a nap with! The perfect thing about this project is if we decide to change the pillows they can be changed out with other shams and folded, not taking up a lot of space!

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How to Make a Pillow with a Pillow Using Poly-fil and Insulate a Bag

Who likes spending time outdoors? We love it here! One of our favorite spots to spend time is the deck. It overlooks the woods. We can hear the birds chirping and leaves rustling. It is the most relaxing thing ever. I have three kids so time by myself is hard to come by. But I try to get out for at least an hour without them and sit in piece on my patio and relax. I was super excited to do some projects with some products Poly-fil sent me. All opinions are my own.

This blog post contains affiliate links.
To make my time even more relaxing I stuff some pillow covers with Poly-fil Premium Polyster Fiber Fill and lined my bag with solarize. That way if I take out chocolate it will not melt in my bag. 
I found a pillow cover at Bed Bath and Beyond. I honestly do not know why more pillow covers are not the norm. At Ikea they only sell pillow covers. Instead of buying pillows every season and storing them in a random closet pillow covers can be stored like pillow cases for a bed. And then taken off and washed from time to time.
I stuffed an old pillow in the pillow cover, but because the pillow was a little smaller than the pillow cover there was lots of extra room. I then stuffed the Poly-fil around the other pillow to make the new pillow nice and fluffy.

To insulate the bag I cut the inside of the bag and put the solarize inside. Then I sewed the bag back shut. Now I can keep chocolate in there and not have it melt super fast!

What do you like better the insulated bag or the stuffed pillows?
There is even a giveaway going on for more Poly-fil and a $100 JoAnn Gift card! 


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Our Family Story Wall Hanging

We have been renovating our house like CRAZY. I am excited to finally start putting things on our walls. I thought a "Our Family Story" would be a great addition to our wall. It has the day we met, our anniversary, and birthdays of all the kiddos. It can be made to accomodate any size frame. For this project I used an 8x10.

This post contains affiliate links.
1. The first step is to select some paper. 
  • white cardstock
  • black cardstock
2. The second step is to put in the correct dates and number of kids. To put in the dates change the text box. To add kids or change gender copy and paste the kids in front of each date. Here is the file.  After the dates are changed weld the text together otherwise it will come out in separate circles.
3. Cut this file with the black cardstock.

4. The cutouts can be removed two ways, with this Cricut tool flat, or bending the board and gently separating the cardstock from the board. This helps prevent the paper from bending.
5. The first time I did this I did not cut deep enough and the letters were stuck in the circle. Instead of using the scissors, I opted to cut again deeper and save myself a headache.

MUCH BETTER!

6. The sixth step is to clean the extra letters off the mat and put it away. This way the mat will not get sticky.
7. The next step is to arrange and glue the letters to the white cardstock.

8. The final step is to put the cardstock in a frame and put on the wall. My kids love this! Enjoy!

Check out some other family fun craft ideas from some of my friends.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thanks so much for 100 Directions, Mad in Crafts, 33 Minute Crafts and The Country Chic Cottage for putting this together!



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The Perfect Maple Cookies

Two years ago we moved up to the Northeast, Upstate New York to be exact. I never saw myself living in upstate New York growing up, except maybe that one time I did a state report on New York and saw how pretty it was. But alas we ended up in Upstate New York and are loving it. Every place has traditions and one of the traditions in New York and Canada is Maple Syrup. Maple syrup is harvested in the late winter/early spring from maple trees. It is a super long process and one I was going to try to do until I saw how much goes into making the syrup. That is when I decided to buy the syrup instead. The syrup is pricey, but once I tried it for the first time I could not go back to imitation maple syrup.

When I bought my first jug of maple syrup I wanted to make sure it did not go to waste because I paid so much for it. I looked up recipes for maple everything, cookies and cakes. I made these maple cookies below and I was hooked. I made them for everything until I ran out of maple syrup. I had to patiently wait for maple harvesting season again and for the Coronavirus business restrictions to let up before I could get it. But once I got it I made my first batch of maple cookies and they were as good as I remembered. I hope you enjoy this recipe.
I have included some tricks and tips below to get amazing cookies.


Maple Cookies


Super Soft Delicious Flavorful Cookies


INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • granulated sugar


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Cream the egg with the butter mixture until fluffy.
3. Add the maple syrup and the maple syrup to the mixture.
4. Mix the dry ingredients, flour, cornstarch, slat, baking soda, and baking powder.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.
6. Combine the dry ingredients, flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tarter.
7. Chill in fridge for 30-60 minutes before baking.
8. Form round balls and roll in granulated sugar.
9. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.
10. Let cool and enjoy!


One of the secrets to getting amazing cookies is to mix the butter and eggs until they are light and fluffy.
I use a disher to make my cookies into balls. That way they come out uniform in shape and size. I also use parchment paper so the cookies do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Don't these look scrumptous?
Here is the finished product!

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How to Freeze Berries

When I lived in Oregon there were berry field super close by. The berries were super delicious and super cheap. One time I picked over 50 pounds of berries. What did I do with all those berries? I made jam and I also froze them. Frozen berries are perfect for smoothies, shakes, making jams and syrups later, adding to a recipe, toppings on ice cream etc. The possibilities are endless.  My son prefers frozen berries to fresh berries. There are some important tips to follow when freezing berries, they are not complicated, but can make life a lot easier when pulling berries out. The secret is freezing the berries individually so they do not stick to each other.
1. Wash the berries in the container they came in first. 
This step is super important. If the berries are not washed the dirt and everything else will freeze to it in the freezer.
2. Freeze or use the berries immediately after washing.
Berries ripen even faster when they are washed. I made the mistake of washing and storing berries. They get all mushy and do not taste very good.

3. Slice strawberries. There is no need to slice raspberries or blue berries because they are small. 
Raspberries and blueberries are super easy to eat the size they are. Strawberries however are hard to eat whole. I sliced mine up and they turned out super delicious.
4. Use wax or parchment paper to freeze the berries.
It is super important to put something under the berries so they will not stick to the cookie sheet or whatever is used to freeze them.

5. Space the berries out. 
Spacing the berries is the most important part and something I could have done better with the above strawberries. It enables individual berries to be pulled out/measured etc.

6. Flash freeze for 1-2 hours on a cookie sheet or over night.
Flash freezing is important because it again makes sure the berries are frozen before putting them in a bag. I sometimes forget and take the berries out the next day. They can sometimes be a little harder to get off the tray.

7. Take berries off the tray/Put berries in a bag and label the bag with the date.
Now the berries can be stored together and they will not freeze together! Save and enjoy the berries at a later date.

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Whole House versus Room By Room Renovation

Whole house or room by room renovation? Do you have a fixer upper? Are you trying to figure out how to tackle it? Look no further. I will guide you through the different approaches to home renovations and give the advantages and disadvantages to each.

First I want to explain that the difference between a renovation and redecoration. Redecoration is changing color and design elements of a room (paint, curtains), and a renovation changing the structure, ie flooring, structures etc. I will use the term renovation in this article, but redecorating can apply as well.
What is a room by room renovation?
A room by room renovation is when individual rooms are tackled. ie this summer the bedroom is done, next summer the kitchen, next winter the master bathroom. I personally do not like room by room renovations because they end up looking super choppy and disrupt the flow of the home. It feels too completely different when going from one area to another.
What is a whole house renovation?
A whole house renovation is one that is usually seen on the HGTV shows. They look at the big picture and gather a vision for the house. Elements from each room are tied in with one another and everything is done at once.  I prefer whole house renovations because they really tie a home together, create a sense of coziness and can add that extra wow factor to a home.
Why do either one? 
A whole house renovation can be EXPENSIVE and needs to be done in order...ie If the floors are being redone then the baseboard needs to be removed. Painting the baseboards before removing would be a mistake, trust me I did this one.

A room by room renovation can be less expensive, but it may cost more in the long run and may not make the house as cohesive.

I suggest PLANNING a whole house renovation for the major items, but making a plan and focusing on various elements one at a time. Here are some elements to focus on to plan a whole house renovation:
  1. Find a color scheme for the house. This will help out soooooo much with so many decisions. When we moved to our house we decided to make it light and airy by painting our kitchen and bathroom cabinets and bathrooms, our walls gray,  a white wash wood flooring, gray laminate and gray carpet. We decided to do elements of green and blue throughout the house. While doing painting our kitchen cabinets our appliances were black. *PICTURE OF KITCHEN*We did not want to invest the money to change them out because they were in good working order. We antagonized over changing the hardware in the kitchen, they were old and starting to rust. We settled on black. Because we made that decision we are going to change all our door handles, hinges, lighting, towel racks, shower curtains and so on black. It makes it super easy. When we were looking for rugs, shower curtains, window hinges etc for our home we knew what colors we wanted. It is coming nicely and looks super cohesive.
  2. This was my inspiration color scheme for my home.
  3. Make a plan. Plan out each step of the project and make sure things are done in order. Do not make a mistake and paint the baseboards just to have them ripped off and looking terrible the next week.
  4. Take it one step at a time. We have slowly replaced/renovated one step at a time. We focused on flooring one month replacing the flooring in most of the house. We were super lucky to do this before we moved our household goods in. Another month we worked on painting the entire house. Another month we found rugs for the whole house. Another month I focused on bathroom shower rods and curtains. Another month door hinges. Another month baseboard heaters. Another month we focused on mold in the basement and fixing the entire basement up. And I want to add that finding a good shower rod is next to impossible!!! Target finally had the winner. In the coming months or years we will replace doors, replace door handles, pick out drapes and paint our trim inside our house. Every little step brings us closer to our dream house. It can be cheaper overall this way because items can be bought in bulk, a contractor can come out and do the job all at once instead of for each room, sometimes items can not be bought except in large quantities.
  5. Be patient. Whole house renovations can be antagonizing especially if everything can not be done at once. But keep a head up because they will get done eventually.
For bathrooms and kitchens I would love to recommend a whole house renovation, but this is not always possible. These areas can be soooo expensive to renovate especially if major changes are being made. Small changes such as light fixtures, mirrors, towels and decor are easy, but changing layouts, cabinetry, flooring and such can be so expensive and hard to do all at once.

For these reasons bathroom and kitchens I recommend room by room renovations with a few caveats.
  1. Still make a plan and a color scheme. Even if the bathrooms and kitchens will be done in different years make a plan. Create a cohesive element for the home. Look at matching or complimentary cabinet styles, tiles for the bathroom, countertops etc.
  2. If there is an element desired in both or many places buy extra and save it for the other location. For example if there is an amazing tile for a backsplash but also for an accent in a bathroom, just buy extra and save for the other location. If there is a flooring desired for both rooms buy extra of the flooring and save it for the other location. Trust me if it is not bought at the time there is a very good likely it will be gone when doing the other location. Trends change sooo  much. Buy those matching handles and save them.
  3. If it is affordable do the renovations at the same time. This can help save money on time and materials.



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EASY 4th of July Cupcake Toppers

Do you want to give your cupcakes that extra pizzazz? Look no further. I have the solution and it is super easy.

Want to know why the cupcakes in the bakery look so much better for some reason? They do not necessarily taste better, but many times they have cupcake toppers. These toppers add a little extra decor to the cupcakes to make them look like a star.  These took me 5 minutes to make and will for sure be a big hit on whatever cupcakes you make. I have put toppers on my cupcakes, along with sprinkles for years and people always say they look professionally done.


The supplies for this project include:

  • Glue (I used school glue because it was the closest thing I could find, but other glue would work too and would probably be better leaving no residue or warping)
  • Cardstock-Red and Blue
  • Skewer sticks
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Cricut or two different sized stars
Here are the steps:
  1. Make and cut two different sized stars with a Cricut machine.
  2. Glue the small star to the big star.
  3. Cut the skewer sticks to length leaving the pointy end for the cupcake.
  4. Tape the skewer stick to the back of the star.
  5. Put them in the cupcakes! and it is done!


What did I tell you? Super easy right, but these little toppers will dress up any cupcake in a flash and be the hit of the party. The stars could also be covered in glitter to add that even extra pizzazz.


See these other amazing DIY craft projects to make your 4th of July stunning!
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Renovating Our Home

When we were looking for a house we could not find anything that was perfect, especially where we were looking, upstate New York. The winters are super hard on houses up here. There is soooo much snow. Then the summers are super humid. It can cause a lot of problems like; roof damage, mold, rotting wood, flooding...the list goes on an on. Every house we looked at had some of these problems. This house we found had the least amount of problems, but we still had a lot of work to do.

Follow along on our adventures as I share everything we have done. I will be updating this blog post with all of your adventures. Follow along to see the transformation.

Here are our before pictures. What would you change?
Kitchen
Family Room
Den
Hallways
Front Door

Bathroom
Living Room and Dining Room
Fireplace
Foyer
Bathroom
Master Bedroom
Master Bath

Bedroom
Bedroom
Bathroom
Laundry
Bedroom
Bedroom
Entertainment Room

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