DIY Chalkboard Table

DIY Chalkboard TableI’ve had my dining room table since before I had my husband, kids, or any of our pets. I bought it shortly after I graduated from college for somewhere around $300 or $400. I vaguely remember that it was maybe priced at $400, but I got a discount on it because I was buying some other furniture, as well. Since the table has lasted well over a decade, I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it – and then some. 

While I have thought for some time that the table had seen better days and was looking a little rough, I didn’t want to invest in a nice dining room table until the boys were past the sticker and glue stage. So with not much to lose when it came to my current table, I figured I could have a little fun with a DIY redo of the table. When I was reading “Rhinestone Jesus” earlier this summer the author mentioned painting her dining room table with chalkboard paint, and how great it was for little ones that had trouble staying at the table long enough to have some good family time. Then I saw a picture on Pinterest of a table with four different colored chairs. And my idea began to come together…

The first step in my chalkboard table project was to give everything a good cleaning. I just used warm water with a little dish soap and an old washcloth to scrub all the yuck off the table and chairs. Then I carted everything outside to reduce the mess inside. I used medium grade sandpaper, and gave everything a light sanding, just enough to rough up the glossy finish so the paint would adhere. 

Next, I spray painted each chair. I could have done this quicker if I had wanted to use more space, but I had one tarp out and I didn’t want to dig any more out, so I did one chair at a time and let each one dry a bit before doing the next one. Once it was dry to the touch, I moved it to the back porch and did the next one. So the chairs took a little over 3 hours to paint. 

Before After Chairs

 

I took the legs off the table and spray painted those white. Since they were dark blue to begin with, it did take about four coats of white paint. I could have probably done this in fewer coats if I had used a paint with primer and paint in one, but I already had the white paint from another project, so I wanted to use that up instead of spending more money. 

Finally, I went to work on the table. I flipped it upside down and set it on saw horses. I painted the underside first, since I wasn’t as worried about perfect coverage on that side. And I didn’t paint the inside part of the underside, since no one will see that (unless they are crawling around under my table, which is probably another whole issue). Once the underside was dry, I flipped the table over. The chalkboard paint doesn’t take long to dry, so it was ready to flip in less than hour. Then I painted the top. This took several coats to get good, even looking coverage. But, as I said, the chalkboard paint dries quickly, so I was able to do several coats in about an hour.

Before and After Table

 

I was done with everything by probably 3 pm, but I let it all sit outside until after the kids went to bed. Then The Coach and I brought it all in and put the legs back on the table. I then let it sit for the next day without the kids messing with anything just to make sure everything was good and dry.

The directions on the chalkboard paint were to take a piece of chalk and lay it flat on the table, running it over the entire surface. Then wipe the chalk off and the table is ready!

DIY Chalkboard Table 2

 

So far, it doesn’t stay as black as I thought it would, even when I use a wet washcloth to clean it off. You can still see a trace of chalk. But I’m ok with that, since the kids love writing on it and probably will all the time, anyway. I’m going to search online and Pinterest for tips for caring for chalkboard painted surfaces to see if there is a better way for me to clean it.  Overall, I love the way my chalkboard table turned out! A totally new look and I spent one day and under $30! Here’s the breakdown of my cost to redo my old dining set into a chalkboard table and multicolored chairs:

2 cans chalkboard paint, 5 cans colored paint (it took two cans of yellow since I was painting over a dark color), 2 cans of white paint (I already had these) – 7 cans purchased at $3.69 per can = $25.83

1 package of medium grade sandpaper = $3

Total = $28.83

Total time spent = approximately 6.5 hours

Spring Cleaning Tips from a Dozen Bloggers!

Spring Cleaning Tips

Something about the snow melting, temperatures rising, and flowers blooming, puts us in the mood to clean. After all, the term “spring cleaning” is a pretty common one! I don’t know if it’s everything coming alive again that makes us want to freshen our living spaces up, or simply a matter of annual habit, but I am certainly in the mood to get to work on my humble abode. In fact, this weekend I have some serious closet cleaning planned while my kiddos are at a sleep over! 

Two weeks ago I posted a handy spring cleaning checklist. But since everyone spring cleans a little differently, and has their own handy tips and tricks, I thought I would ask my blogging friends for some spring cleaning tips to help you all out! I’ve collected a “dirty dozen” tips for spring cleaning from my friends across the interwebs! Below you can find tips for decluttering, making your cleaners, tackling different areas of your home, and even tips for organizing your photos (because spring cleaning isn’t always just about windows and floors and junk!). 

General Cleaning Tips 

Melissa at Home on Deranged

Think of spring cleaning as a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t try to accomplish sprucing up your home in one weekend. Allow yourself time to go through one or two rooms a day, that way you can feel like you accomplished something, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of your home. And be sure to include the entire family! Even the little ones can help rearrange toys and arts and craft room supplies, and your spouse can assist in the purging decision making.

 

Yours truly at Structure in an Unstructured Life

Create a list to work from. (How many of you knew I would suggest making a list, huh?) I like to organize mine by room, and then I usually try to work from top to bottom and front to back. So I start with our upstairs in the front room, then work to the bathroom at the back of our top floor. Then I cover the downstairs, working from the front of the house to the back. I always think the great thing about having a list is you can cross off tasks as you go, and can visually see your progress. Seeing how much I have gotten done and how little I have left keeps me going! (You can find my spring cleaning checklist here, and print your own copy, too!)

 

Photo Organizing

Michelle at A Dish of Daily Life

Overwhelmed by digital photos? 
 
In the days of film, you might have taken a roll of 24 at our child’s birthday party. Now with digital, you might take hundreds of pictures of that same event! Add in sports, family events, vacations, and you could find yourself with thousands (and even tens of thousands) of pictures on your computer. 
 
The wonderful thing about digital is that you can delete all those extra photos. In theory, our photos should be more organized than ever before. But the reality is, we don’t delete. Digital photos that we don’t need are clutter…perhaps not in the traditional sense of the word, but they do take up room on our hard drives, and they slow us down too. The more photos we have on our computers, the harder it is to find the one we’re looking for. 
 
One of the most important things you can do to keep your digital photos organized is to DELETE!
 
Delete the photos you don’t need right away. If you took 25 pictures of the kids playing in the pool, save the best three or four. You don’t need all of them. The memory can be preserved just as easily with a few pictures as it can with twenty five. 
 
Don’t store photos you don’t need. Many of us take pictures of school events, sports, dance, etc. Once you’ve shared those pictures, unless you are doing a project with them, go ahead and delete them. You don’t need to store pictures of your kids’ classmates or teammates indefinitely. If you’ve shared them, then the other parents have access to them already. There’s no need for you to keep them. 
 
For more digital photo organizing tips from A Dish of Daily Life, visit 5 Digital Photo Organizing Tips to Help You Take Control of Your Digital Life.

 

Tackling the Clutter

Tamara at Tamara Like Camera

My favorite part of spring cleaning is to let go of winter clutter. It feels SO great just to do the simple act of boxing snow pants, coats, boots, hats and mittens and putting them into the basement!

My next favorite spring cleaning task is to go through my kids’ clothes and take out heavy winter stuff, as well as outgrown clothes and put it into piles to save, donate or give to friends/family.  I also use this thinking with the kids’ toys. If they’re broken, they are thrown away. If they are not played with, they are donated or saved to pass along to younger kids. If they are still current and in good condition, I spend WAY too much time putting things together. I seriously hope I never see another toy that contains 20 small parts!

Anyway, I’m no expert with cleaning, but getting rid of winter baggage is good for the house and the soul!

 

Shelly at DIY Mama

My spring cleaning tip: Organize your closets first. Organizing closets will set the mood to clean the rest of your home. Use three piles when organizing any space. Empty everything out of the closet and put it in either 1. Keep 2. Donate 3. Trash. *Notice there is no ‘maybe’ pile.

 

Jen at Drinking the Whole Bottle

Spring Cleaning Tip: 4 Suitcases and a SWAP

The most essential thing I have learned moving abroad is that I don’t need more than half of the stuff that I think I need. When we were sorting through our things to move to Dominican republic I had to be really choosy about the things we were bringing with us. And nothing helps you downsize like only having 4 suitcases to pack your life up in. It was hard… then. But now, it’s gotten easier. Now when I find myself in the mood to “spring clean” I think back to what I would put in those suitcases and play the “What’s Important Enough to Pack in One Suitcase Game.” I start with my closet, which tends to be the biggest offender, and I sort out:

- the clothes that definitely stay,

- the clothes that definitely go,

- and the clothes that might remain (this is an important category)

The clothes that GO get put in a bag and instantly brought to the car, lest I change my mind and want to keep something again. Then I start on my “might” pile that is always larger than it needs to be. Here I get serious and think back to my suitcases. Would this 4th pair of skinny jeans make it into one of my important suitcases over something really important? If my first response is probably not or maybe or umm… but not a Yes, definitely then it’s got to go.

Here’s the fun part that might make tossing it easier… invite your friends to do the same and then have a SWAP Party. Everyone should be told to bring a snack and a bottle of wine (cause who doesn’t want to shop with wine) and that all items should be in good condition. Everyone packs up the jeans, purses, shoes, headbands, jewelry, children’s clothes, picture frames, husbands’ ugly ties or whatever they no longer want and bring it to the SWAP. In this way, not only do your old treasures breathe new life through another owner but you don’t have to feel bad about letting something go. Everything that doesn’t get taken from the SWAP is then donated.

Don’t ask me why, but I usually end up giving more things to a SWAP then I would normally when I’m just “getting rid of stuff” and I always come home with new things that I actually wear and use.

 

Lanaya at Raising Reagan

For me, spring cleaning is all about just that … cleaning. I love to have a clean house and a clean closet. My spring cleaning tip is to go through your closet and purge! That old dress that you know you’ll never put on again – get rid of it! Tops all the same color but you only wear one or two – get rid of the excess! You will love having an organized closet. And for those of you that don’t like to see all those clothes go bye bye without replacements, head to your favorite shopping place and score some new Spring colors!

 

NJ at A Cookie Before Dinner

This year, a friend and I decided that we weren’t going to show any mercy on the clutter in our house. We resolved to ditch everything that wasn’t used, beautiful, or had a specific purpose. No more keeping things “just in case we might need it”. Between the two of us, we off loaded 60 trash bags of things and I made close to $500.00 at a children’s consignment sale.

 

Natural Cleaning

Jodi at The Noise of Boys

Recently I have tried to reduce the amount of chemicals in my home and around my children!  It is also proving to be very cost effective!  It is amazing the number of household cleaners that can be made using a few ingredients!  Dishwasher detergent,  rinse aid, shower cleaner, drain cleaner, glass cleaner, laundry soap and softener and more!

These are the items I recommend to get you started!

1.       Borax

2.       washing soda

3.       Fels Naptha soap

4.       castile soap

5.       baking soda

6.       rubbing alcohol

7.       cornstarch

8.       a few lemons or oranges

9.       vinegar

10.     essential oil of your choice  (I started out with lemon and lavender oils)

TIP: Save any glass containers you come across for storage of your new household products!  For full recipes, there is no better place than Pinterest!  With just 10 products found in your local grocer and Pinterest- you can spring clean your entire house!

 

Anneliese at Superfresh Babypants

Mix together in a spray bottle: 1 Tbsp Borax, 1 Tbsp Dr. Bronner’s lavender soap, 3 Tbsp vinegar and 2 C. H2O.  Spray a paper towel or reusable cleaning cloth with your new all purpose cleaner.  Wipe down all of your doorknobs, drawer pulls, cabinet knobs, toilet handles, railings, washer/dryer/dishwasher panels, light switches and any other highly used yet sorely neglected household item you can think of!  Enjoy a lifetime of germ free living and good health.

 

Kitchen Pantry

Dean at Mrs. AOK

My Spring Cleaning Tip:

My in-laws recently visited, which gave me the push I needed to get my Spring Cleaning started. I started my Spring Cleaning in the kitchen.  My pantry was bothering me; I knew there were stale snacks, almost emptied boxes, and snacks nobody in the house liked still in the pantry. I went to work editing our pantry.  My pantry is still a work in progress, but I thought I’d still share my tip for sprucing up your pantry this spring.

You know the old adage “out of sight, out of mind,” well that totally goes for your pantry, too.  I don’t like to waste food.  I try to put things in clear containers, glass jars and even baskets work well too.  When you see what you have, you use what you have.  I group similar items in $0.97 clear bins I found at Target, and this helps with the pantry clutter. (I also use them in my fridge.) Could you imagine how many tea boxes would clutter up my pantry if I didn’t use a jar!?!

In the event you were wondering about the 3 drawer storage cart, that was supposed to go under my kitchen sink, but it was too big.  In the 3 drawer storage cart you’ll find my make-ahead freezer tools, the kiddos’ reusable snack baggies, and their lunch boxes. Happy Cleaning!

PantryTip

 

Pantry 2

Play Room

Tiffany at Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter

I was so flattered when Beth asked me to help contribute to her Spring Cleaning Series, but then I was met with a bit of an issue. I clean like everyday so having a true Spring Cleaning doesn’t happen very often. I know, I know but blame it on my OCD and my need to eliminate every mess the instant I see it or sense it, as my Hubby says :)

Still, I did tackle a bit of a project this past week in my Kiddies playroom. They have an area designated for their toys but this one area is split between 3 Kiddies. So it gets cluttered and overwhelmingly messy rather often. My first solution was to purchase those large tote bins and separate each Kiddies toys by colored totes. This worked for all of 3 months because they saw the totes as a type of challenge and began using them as a stage, steps, lounge areas…basically everything they weren’t meant to be!

This is when I decided to take a trip to my trusty and always reliable local Wal*Mart. I went straight to the organization and storage area, but this time instead of hard plastic totes I was looking for something that was affordable, deep and still appealing to my eye. Even though I want neat I wanted it to look nice too.

When I came across these pop-up laundry totes I thought “Hmmm…just because it says laundry doesn’t mean only laundry”

Spring Cleaning 3 Totes

This is where my repurposing skills began to come in. I went home and started to separate, sort and organize all 3 Kiddies toys into piles. Then I put them in the laundry totes according to their favorite colors. I was surprised that not only did all the small toys fit, but the totes were reinforced with wire and made of a pretty durable nylon material so I can lift them and walk around the room collecting toys and not worry about them collapsing or giving way.

Spring Cleaning Inside Totes

Of course I couldn’t fit every toy but I really only set out to get the smaller toys in one place instead of simply spread out all over my floor. We all know there is no pain like the pain of a tiny toy underfoot in the middle of the night.

Oh, did I forget to tell you??? My repurposed laundry totes only cost me $5.95 each! So in total I was able to separate, sort and organize my 3 Kiddies Playroom for less than $20 including tax! Now that’s what I call a Spring Cleaning Success!

 

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Spring Cleaning Checklist

I both love and hate spring cleaning. I think it is merely the thought of it that I hate. It seems overwhelming and daunting. But I absolutely love having a clean, fresh smelling house at the end of a good long day of spring cleaning. 

So in order to try to love more than hate this annual task, I created a spring cleaning checklist to help me get organized. I set it up by room and made it easy to have the kiddos help you with. The tasks in blue can be completed by younger kids – the preschooler set. And the tasks in green can be completed by elementary-aged kids. The middle column of task are for you (or older kids if you’ve got ‘em!). The third column has tasks that can be done if you have the time. I usually have a good solid half day to spring clean, but sometimes I get crazy and take a day off and spend a whole day cleaning. So if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the tasks!

Spring Cleaning Checklist

 

Want a printable version of this checklist? Click here to download a printable version: Spring Cleaning Checklist

Happy Spring Cleaning! 

Things You Really CAN Wash

Things You Really CAN WashIf you’re a regular blog reader, you know we got a puppy this past fall. She’s adorable. And a puppy. So we have had a love hate relationship with her at times. We love how cute, and sweet, and smart she can be. But we have hated the housebreaking, and wild energy, and puppy teething we have gone through. 

Perhaps the moment when I came closest to really hating her was when I sat down on the couch and noticed the unmistakable smell of dog pee. I did some sniffing around and realized it was definitely on the throw pillow on the couch. The nice one that came with the couch (of course, not on the cheap one I got on clearance). 

So at this point (if you’re still reading) you are probably wondering what the heck my new puppy has to do with a cleaning post. Well, the above mentioned pillow clearly said on the tag to surface wash only. That was clearly not going to cut it when the dog had peed on the pillow. I figured I could risk ruining the pillow by washing it in the machine because the alternative was to throw it out any way. 

And it worked. The pillow came out smelling fresh, clean, and was even fluffier than when I tossed it in there. So it got me thinking about what other things I have washed despite the tag telling me not to. 

I feel like I should add a disclaimer here, to always wash at your own risk. The first time I tried washing all of these items despite the label telling me not to, was because my choices were either wash it or throw it out. So I basically had nothing to lose. That being said, here’s my list of things you really CAN wash: 

In the washing machine:

  • Pillows. As I mentioned above, I washed and then dried my couch pillows. I dried them at a low temperature and put several clean tennis balls in with them to make sure the pillows didn’t get lumpy.
  • Stuffed animals. These things can get nasty, so this has been a life saver. It definitely depends on the type of stuffing as to how well a stuffed animal will make through a washing machine cycle, but it sometimes is worth the try. I usually air dry rather than putting in the dryer, because sometimes the heat can do funky things to the “fur.” I learned this the hard way with an Elmo. Luckily they had another one exactly the same at Target.
  • Dry clean clothes. Especially if the tag states “dry clean” and not “dry clean only.” Manufacturers are only required to put one method on the tag. Most fabrics can go through a gentle cycle on the washing machine and be line dried. I would not recommend this with fabrics like silk or suede, but most cottons, blends, and polyesters will be fine.
  • Down comforters. We have a front loading washing machine, so I would not recommend this with a traditional top loader with an agitator. And one of the keys here is that you have to put it through the dryer with several clean tennis balls in the dryer with the comforter. This fluffs up the down feathers and keeps them from clumping together.
  • Tennis shoes. These suckers get dirty with two little boys! I would use a gentle cycle and wash them by themselves. And I have gotten better results when I allow the shoes to air dry, rather than putting them in the dryer. The dryer makes them pucker in spots and look a little funny until the stretch out again. So if you are able to go without them for a couple days, I would recommend air drying.
  • Backpacks and lunch bags. Have you ever smelled the lunch bag of an elementary schooler or the backpack of a teenager? These things are disgusting. I would recommend turning the backpack inside out before washing so the straps don’t get caught on something. And allow bags to air dry, rather than using the dryer. 

In the dishwasher:

  • Baseball caps. You can wash these in the washing machine, but I think the dishwasher works better. You can arrange the cap in the rack and it holds it’s shape much better.
  • Small plastic toys. This is great after someone has been sick. Give those toys a run through the dishwasher and de-germ them. Obviously, be careful not to put anything in with batteries. I actually learned this the hard way when I accidentally put a toy from the exersaucer in the dishwasher not realizing it made sounds. THAT was a mess.
  • Flip flops. Yep – get rid of those dirty toe marks by tossing your flip flops in the dishwasher and running them through a cycle. Come out good as new!
  • Tools. I have no idea how hammers and screwdrivers get sticky stuff on them, but they do. Especially smaller screwdrivers can just be stuck in the silverware holder of the dishwasher.
  • Hairbrushes and combs. Mine get gunk on them from hairspray and product, so once in awhile I run them through a dishwasher cycle. Gets the gunk off!
  • Shin guards, knee guards, mouth guards. That sports equipment can get pretty nasty and stinky being used by sweaty, dirty kiddos. Run it through the dishwasher to get the stink off it and get rid of any lingering germs. 

Obviously, when you are washing most of these items you want to run them through the washing machine or dishwasher alone. Especially the dishwasher items –  please don’t wash your flip flops with your cereal bowls. And as I said before – use caution and some common sense about what you try to wash. If it’s a priceless family heirloom, I wouldn’t risk running it through the washing machine unless that was my only, last resort and I had explored every other option. But for me, my couch pillows were worth a shot at cleaning them and if they got ruined – oh well, I would have had to buy new ones anyway. 

Looking for more cleaning tips and tricks? Check out my Get It Clean board on Pinterest!

What have YOU cleaned that you thought you couldn’t?

Cozy Wall Art in the Play Room

Cozy Wall Art LogoMy kids, like most little ones, love stickers. I, like most moms, hate stickers. Not the actual stickers themselves, but I hate peeling them and scraping the residue from them off all the places I don’t want stickers to be. So my kids and I are constantly negotiating between their decorating ideas and mine.

Because of this battle, I was especially excited when Cozy Wall Art approached me to try out their vinyl wall decals. When I clicked through to the site, I found a ton of really cute kid friendly designs and quotes. The hardest part was getting my boys to arrive at a consensus on what design to choose!

We selected the very cute and fun “Too Many Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” design (http://cozywallart.com/product/monkeys-on-the-bed-wall-decal/).Since my kiddos have bunk beds, we couldn’t actually place the monkeys “jumping” on their beds, but they look just as cute jumping in our play room!

When my box arrived, I thought it was such a sweet touch that the squeegee came in a little bag tied with ribbon and three suckers in there. (My boys loved the sucker part!!) And the instructions that came with it were clear and easy to understand.

Cozy Wall Art 1

I went to work on cleaning off the playroom wall and laying out my monkey wall art. The directions suggested using a level to make sure the design was even, but since my monkeys were meant to look a little whimsical I just eyeballed it. I taped the decals up to make sure I had the placement the way I wanted it.

Cozy Wall Art 2

Next, was sticking the decals to the wall. Again, the directions were really clear and easy to follow. I simply had to peel the backing off and cut it, doing half the decal at a time. I then used the squeegee tool to smooth the decal and apply enough pressure for it to stick to the wall.

My decals required a bit of patience because we have a slight texture to our wall. I know the decals work best on smoother surfaces, but since it was just a slight texture like most old houses have, I thought it would work. The wall decal stuck to the wall, I just had to peel the paper off very slowly and use my fingers to gently press the decal down on the wall in some spots.

Cozy Wall Art 3

The end result is awesome! I love the monkeys! They look adorable jumping in our playroom! And my boys think they are pretty cool, as well. They were excited to show them to their buddy who comes over after school!  

One of the best parts, as a mom, is that the decals can be easily removed if the boys get tired of them, or if we decide to move or paint the room. They simply need to be heated a little with a hair dryer and they will easily peel off the wall! No more using a scraper to peel off goopy sticker crud from my walls!

You can check out the other great wall art stickers and decals on the Cozy Wall Art website (http://cozywallart.com/product-category/wall-decals/). They also have a blog and a Facebook page filled with great pictures, ideas, and tips for using their wall decals.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I was provided with the product in exchange for writing a review. However, all opinions are my own. For my full disclosure policy, please see here. 

5 Household Ways to Use Vinegar

5 Household Uses for Vinegar on Structure in an Unstructured LifeAwhile back, I wrote a post about “greener” cleaners, and my sad break-up with antibacterial products. Being the Type A clean freak I am, I was slightly addicted to antibacterial everything. It was actually The Coach who pushed for cleaners with fewer chemicals. I first switched to the more eco-friendly brands, but then was intrigued by all the Pinterest pins about using vinegar to clean. And once I saw the price tag on a large jug of vinegar, I was converted to this cheaper, safer way to clean!

I was inspired by my blogging friend Chelsea over at Directionless Mom, who recently wrote about recipes and tips to save you money on cleaning, to write a post about our personal household ways to use vinegar. Here are the top five ways we use vinegar:

1.       To catch fruit flies. This time of year when we have fruit out on the counters, we get fruit flies in a hurry. The best concoction I have ever used to get rid of fruit flies is a simple shallow bowl with vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in it. We have had the best luck using apple cider vinegar, which we discovered by accident when we were out of plain distilled white vinegar. I will usually set a little bowl out on the kitchen counter after doing the dinner dishes, and by morning there are usually anywhere from 10-25 fruit flies floating in it!

2.       As a multi-purpose cleaning spray. I use an old cleaner spray bottle, and mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water. I am not exact, and just eyeball it, which works just fine for us. We didn’t really like the smell of it at first (Roo asked me every time I was cleaning for awhile why it smelled like “fly catching stuff” – see above. Haha!). So a friend suggested just taking orange peels and adding them to the bottle. It cut the vinegar smell and gave it a slight citrus smell, but nothing too overpowering. I use this for kitchen counters, bathrooms, mirrors, dining room table, spills on the floor, etc.

3.       To refresh our towels. Ever month or so, I wash all our bath towels using vinegar and baking soda. I run them through a cycle using hot water and 1 cup of vinegar. Then I run them through a second cycle using hot water and ½ cup of baking soda. The towels come out fluffier, more absorbent, and lose that musty smell towels get after awhile.

4.       To deodorize drains. We don’t have a garbage disposal, so sometimes our kitchen sink gets a little stinky. We simply pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, then follow it with a cup of vinegar. It will foam up and bubble some. After that stops, I run hot water for a few minutes and it works like a charm! I hear this also works well on minor drain clogs, too.

5.       To clean and shine jewelry. Most all of my jewelry is silver and white gold. My wedding ring especially often needs a cleaning since I have it on all the time. I simply use about a ½ cup of vinegar and add 2 Tablespoons of baking soda. Then soak my jewelry for a couple hours. I then use a soft toothbrush to scrub the items up a bit and rinse them off. Viola! They look shiny and new! One warning – do not use vinegar to clean pearls or opals!

Do you use vinegar around the house? What are your favorite household ways to use vinegar?

If you found this post interesting or helpful, please feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest! Thanks!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s my Irish mantle I decorated for some holiday fun!

photo (100)

Valentine’s Day Mantle

photo(18)

I am so loving my “mantle” I made on our kitchen cabinet. I had it decorated for Christmas, then winter, and now for Valentine’s! I am so glad I found a couple pieces that are easy to leave out and just change up a bit for the season or holiday. I put a new printable in my frame. I wrote new words on my chalk-painted wine bottle. And I put red bulbs in my vases. Whole new look with very little work! The flowers are not what I would have selected, but they were chosen especially for me by two very handsome little men, so I love them! Loving how fun my little mantle makes holidays!

Winter Mantle

A few months ago, I decided I desperately wanted a mantle. Mostly because I saw on Pinterest and blogs how easy it was to decorate a mantle for the various seasons. I was crazy enough about this idea that I was even talking to The Coach about if our ancient chimney could be resurrected and a fireplace built in the dining room. He answered my questions, but did look at me a little like I was crazy and there may have been a few sighs in the conversation. He knows how I am when I get an idea in my head – like a dog with a bone!

Luckily (for him, at least) shortly after that my in-laws offered us an antique cabinet that they didn’t want anymore. Always looking for more storage options and loving all things old when it comes to furniture, I snapped up the offer. We got it home and I decided the kitchen would make the perfect home for it; I replaced the big bookcase we had been using as pantry space with the new cabinet.

As I stood admiring how much nicer it looked to have all that “stuff” behind doors rather than on open shelves, it struck me – MY MANTLE!! The top of the cabinet made a perfect space to create my mantle scenes for the seasons!

I was beyond excited to decorate it for Christmas. As we packed away the Christmas decor after the holidays, I started to think about what pieces I could use as constants in my decorating, but somehow change up a little for each season. I think I found some perfect pieces to keep up year round, and some that will come and go. Here’s my winter mantle:

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  • I used a couple vases I had out at Christmas with various colors of Christmas Tree ball ornaments. I replaced the colorful mix with just silver.
  • I added a couple silvery tree decorations.
  • The string of lights was out at Christmas and stayed. I cut squares of tulle and tied it between the lights to create the softer, almost snowy look.
  • Next is a cheap frame I bought and painted white. The printable inside the frame is from a Pinterest pin that directed me here.
  • My sister-in-law had given me the wine bottle at Christmas. It is painted with chalkboard paint. It had a Christmas ribbon and trinkets tied on when she gave it to me. I replaced those with a tulle bow, added some white glittery fake branches I had in the bin of Christmas decorations, and wrote my winter message in chalk.
  • Finally, I have my owl Scentsy warmer, which is a fixture in our kitchen!

Most of the stuff here I already had or was from the dollar store! I bought the Christmas Tree ball ornaments at the dollar store before Christmas. The frame was from the dollar store and I already had white paint. The wine bottle was a gift. Everything else I already had! So my total investment was a couple bucks! Gotta love that!

Do you have a mantle? How do you decorate it? I’m looking for ideas for all the seasons!!

An Angry Birds Invasion!

While my boys had their birthdays way back in September, I am finally getting around to posting about their birthday present! But it required some coordination, time, and work, so it really wasn’t pulled together until the beginning of November.

My boys have an embarrassing number of toys and were getting more from friends and family for their birthdays. So The Coach and I really didn’t really want to buy more that would just end up cluttering the house and maybe or maybe not getting played with. Instead, we got the boys bunk beds for the room they share!

We spent some time searching online and looking in some local furniture stores at bunk beds. I wanted the bottom bed to either be perpendicular to the top one or to be a full size bed, just in case Roo fell off the top bunk. At least he would land on bed and not on hard floor! I had been leaning toward a set up that could be separated into two beds, but we ended up not going that route because we found such a great deal. Instead of buying new, we got found an excellent bunk bed on Craig’s List in almost perfect condition. And literally saved hundreds of dollars!!

I let the boys pick the “theme” they wanted for their room. They agreed on Angry Birds! So they each got to pick a bedding set and some fun pillows. Since the bunk beds freed up some space, I moved a few quiet toys up to their room, which they have been liking! After I took these pictures, I found an Angry Birds rug that I added by the toys and bookcase.

Here’s the big reveal of Roo and Monkey’s new room!

The view from the doorway. The clouds were painted on the ceiling by a friend when I was pregnant with Roo.

The new sleeping arrangements! Roo on top, Monkey on the bottom!

Roo’s choice for up top!

 

Monkey’s choice for the bottom!

The book and toy corner!