Thursday, October 30, 2014

#tbt and an upgrade!

Many years ago now, when I was in college, I went on a 6 week exchange program to Cuernavaca, Mexico. My roommate and I stayed with a host family and the experiences we had will stay with me forever. Oh, the stories I could tell!  But, I won't: what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico.  

Seriously, if you ever get a chance to study abroad, do it!  

Remember when people used to print photos and make collages?
Yeah, me too.

One of the things I remember most about the experience was the food.  Our mama used to make these delicious ham and cheese sandwiches for us for breakfast, and I liked them so much that when I came back home I bought a sandwich maker so that I could make them at home. 

That was in 2004. And after several moves, including one across the country, today that sandwich maker finally died (well technically it broke in half). It was a sad day. 

Goodbye, faithful sandwich maker.

A sad day that was instantly made better when I remembered that I had a fabulous panini press just sitting in my cupboard, unopened.

It was a present for our wedding in 2007.

And I just opened it for the first time today. And it was fabulous!  It's a Breville panini grill (buy it here) that someone generously bought for us from our Williams-Sonoma wedding registry.  A little side note: when we got married, we registered at Williams-Sonoma and just walked around the store and registered for things that looked cool.  I had no idea what to register for and honestly, at that point I could count on one hand the number of times I'd even been in a Williams-Sonoma, so I had no idea what to register for.  It took me four years to get over that I had registered for a banana yellow Kitchenaid stand mixer.   I used it for the first time to make bread in 2011 and blogged about it (here); I've been writing for awhile!

Ok back to the panini press. I'm really excited that we registered for this. The paninis I've made so far are = delicious! My husband keeps making fun of me, since fancy, pressed sandwiches aren't a new concept; but I love them!! 


In the box, waiting patiently for me!



It looks like bigger IS better my friends.....



Mmmm. Panini. 

My favorite thing to add lately is avocado, yum!  I'm feeling hungry!

I'm going to go make a sandwich panini.

~Patricia



Monday, October 27, 2014

DIY: Cutting a Memory Foam Mattress

Maybe you're like me and you have something like this just lying around your house:

A giant, king-sized memory foam mattress with a chunk missing.

The chunk that our anxiety prone dog "ate."
No? You don't have a giant memory foam mattress with a chunk missing just lying about in your home? What?!  

Well if not, keep following along anyways, because I'm going to tell you how to cut memory foam, and this work on regular foam too.

Tools needed: 
-Marker 
-Ruler / Tape Measure (straight lines are important)
-Electric knife, such as this one that I bought from Wal-mart. It's also available from Amazon here.  I actually had to go back to the store and buy another one, because the mattress was so thick it dulled the first one when I was almost done. But if you're not cutting something so huge, you should be fine with one! 



To begin: 
I started by propping the bed up against the wall and drawing a line where I wanted to cut.
I was going from a king-sized mattress to a full, and taking off that unsightly chewed-up chunk with it.

I looked up the dimensions of the bed and decided to just cut a 26 in piece off of the length, since the width of a king and the length of a full are only an inch apart. I was going to cut a bed that would be 54 in x 76 in when finished and I figured I'd just stretch the sheets to fit. I was not going to attempt to cut one inch off the whole mattress. That would have made a bigger mess and at this point, I was have a bed frame and bunky board delivered the next day, so I needed it done now.

Dimensions of king bed: 76 in x 80 in
Dimensions of full bed: 54 in x 75 in

Dimensions of my new bed: 54 in x 76 in

I used a permanent marker and a tape measure to draw the cutting line (I had to do it on both sides.)

Plug in the electric knife (I used an extension cord because the cord on the knife was incredibly small) and take off the safety. Hold the knife straight up and down and just push down into the foam and it'll cut.  The straighter you hold it, the straighter your cut line will be. 

I am not good at following the lines.

Hello in there! 

Since my foam was really thick-like 12 inches or something- (and actually consisted of 2 layers), I had to cut it from both sides. I peeled apart one side and tried to cut the other side through it, but that was really hard to do because the foam was so heavy.  In the end I cut off the top layer and then measured the other side on the back and cut from the back.

Halfway done! This is missing the top layer of foam on the right side. 
Close up of the top layer missing. I had to get a step-stool to stand on while cutting because the mattress was so big.
You can see part of where the dog chewed up the mattress too.
Then I just continued cutting down the side of the mattress until I was all the way through. I am going to put the cut edge towards the wall, so I'm not too concerned if it's not cut super perfect. 

Cutting the big mattress actually required a bit more strength than I thought it would, mostly because the bottom, thick layer of foam was really heavy. And quite big.

Here's a before and after:


I ended up cutting the top layer of foam into pieces and my eventual idea is to make floor pillows out of them. I used the big bottom piece as a buffer between my 2 year old's bed and the floor.  I also had her sleep there for awhile when she didn't want to sleep in the crib, but the queen sized extra bed we have seemed too big for her. It was actually a perfect size for a little girl to snuggle up and sleep. 

I was going to just have the mattress company take the cut off pieces of mattress away when they delivered the frame and bunky board, but they told me they couldn't take just part of a mattress.  When I told them what I had done, one guy was like, what?! And the other thought it was a pretty genius idea. A bunky board, by the way, is basically a big covered board that goes under the foam mattress, so it doesn't seep down into the frame. It needed something to sit on while on the metal frame, and this did the job.  I only got a plain metal frame, since this is our guest bed and sits in the girls' playroom; I didn't want to invest in anything fancy.  
See? It's just a little bit over, nothing I'm worried about!


And that my friends, is how you diy a king-sized memory foam mattress into a full-sized!  I hope this helps any of you out there who have a damaged memory foam mattress and don't know what to do about it (that's got to be, like, 5 people, right?). The mattress delivery people said that I could call the memory foam company and get a new cover for the mattress, but since we got it for free from a friend, I decided to just cover it with a mattress pad cover underneath the sheets. It's been working really well for us too: lots of extra space in the playroom and my parents appreciate that the bed isn't on the floor anymore. :)

Success!!




~Patricia


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Deal Alert!

Graco's Turbo Highback Booster Seat is only $34.99 on Amazon right now!  That's a great deal!

AND free shipping/returns if you have Amazon Prime!  I love a great deal, and this is a great booster seat too.  We have been using it for a few years for my oldest daughter and just recently took the back off so she can use it as a backless booster (and she's 7, so we've gotten a lot of use out of it!)

AND it comes in a cute pink color! :)  I love saving on the everyday things, so that way I can spend more on crafts! Ha!!

I'm just finishing up a rainbow candy princess costume for G for Halloween, I can't wait to show it to you!

Check out the Graco deal here!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Easy DIY Knee Patches

Hello all!

Today I am so excited to give you a brand new tutorial:


I don't know about your kids, but my daughter G loves to wear leggings. So much so, that she is constantly ripping holes in hers! That girl can play hard. I was searching around on Pinterest for ideas, but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted...mostly because I couldn't think of exactly how to describe it. This is a problem I have quite often on Pinterest and it mostly leads me to finding a lot of other cool stuff that I wasn't really looking for.  It's kinda like shopping at Target, am I right?  You don't need anything, yet you end up getting a cart full of stuff! 

So, after figuring out the easiest way for me to patch up my daughter's leggings, I thought I would share it with you!  Here's what you'll need:

Items Needed:
Leggings with holes (or just leggings, if you want to jazz them up a bit)
knit fabric to cover the holes 
Sulky Totally Stable (Amazon link, or you can get at JoAnn's)
Iron
Sewing machine
Scissors
Coordinating Thread

Ready? Let's begin!


Let's start with the knit fabric you'll use to cover the holes.  I think it's important to use knit on knit leggings, as they both will allow stretch.  I tried to fix these pants before with a piece of felt, and it did not last one wear.  This particular fabric came from a pair of Wonder Woman PJs that my sister and brother-in-law got me for Christmas one year!  I cut the bottoms off the pants to make them into insta-shorts and used one of the legs to make an awesome grocery bag holder. (You can read about that here.)

If you don't have some cool printed fabric laying around (this is a great project for using up all those scraps!), you can use a cookie cutter or just freehand a cool shape on some knit fabric or an old t-shirt.


Next, you'll want to cut 2 pieces of your Sulky Totally Stable , making them a bit larger than your shape. BTW, this stuff is awesome for keeping your knits in place while sewing them and it's under $2, so it's worth it to pick some up. I've had mine for a long time, and use it mostly when doing monograms and applique. 


Using your iron, iron the first piece of Totally Stable over the hole, following the directions on the package.  Then place the fabric patch on top of the Totally Stable and place the other piece of Totally Stable on the very top and iron it down.  You'll be sandwiching the fabric patch between the two pieces of Totally Stable, and since they are ironed down, you don't have to worry about using any pins! 

I then took a pen and outlined where I wanted my sewing line to be. I basically traced over the black lines of the stars.  If your fabric patch doesn't have distinct lines like mine, you might consider tracing the fabric patch on the Totally Stable before you iron it down, and then match up the lines while ironing. 

Don't worry, the Totally Stable is tear-away, so when we're done sewing, we'll rip it off and it won't show!


Sew!  I sew with a vintage Singer Featherweight machine and it only has a straight stitch, so I went over the star twice to really secure it.  If you are sewing with a machine where the arm can come off, take it off and sew that way, because it's a bit of a pain to have to scrunch up your material the way I have to.  But it's worth it!


Don't forget to trim your threads from the front and back!


Now it's time to tear away the Totally Stable.  I tore the outside first, then gently pulled at the inside of the star to tear off the Totally Stable on the inside of the star.  I did not tear off the Totally Stable on the underside of the hole, since I thought a little extra something would help to prevent future holes.  You can also trim back the hole on the inside so it matches the shape of the fabric patch.

And then......


Here's a close-up! 

So there you have it!  Easy DIY knee patches for your leggings! Let me know if you have questions, or if you try this method and it works for you, please let me know!




You can also follow my blog by signing up for updates and new posts by filling in your email on the right, or by adding me to your blogger dashboard. 

Thanks for stopping by!

~Patricia



Monday, October 13, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen: We have a bike rider!

She can do it! Yay!

Every now and then we like to get the bikes out and go for a little family walk/bike ride. Last week while I was trying to walk the dog, push C in her tricycle, and encourage M to keep pedaling ("but my legs hurt!")....the pedal comes off of G's bike. Ugh. Seriously? After a big of adjusting, and having my 4 year old walk the dog, we all got back home safe and sound.

But then there was that pesky bike pedal that had to be put back on.  And there I was, grumbling again, because my 7 year old can't ride a bike without training wheels. It's time I thought. It is time.





(Because The Lion King is my favorite Disney movie, ever.) But, I digress.

So I took off the other pedal and both of the training wheels. M comes over and asks, "Oh Mommy, are you making that a balance bike?" Ummm. Yes. How do you know what that is? "I don't know." And she runs away. Ok.

I give the bike to G. She is not impressed. She cannot figure out the concept of a balance bike or why in heavens name someone would ride a bike without pedals. She hates it. She begs me to put back on the pedals, "but I can do it Mommy! I can!"

Proud parenting moment right here: My response was, "No. I don't think you can." Yikes!  But in all fairness, a few months ago, maybe in the spring sometime, (?) I had taken the training wheels off of G's bike and she had tried to ride and did sort of ok, but not great and then fell and wouldn't try again without being super scared and crying. A lot.  You know that line in the bible about wailing and gnashing of teeth? That. A lot.

So forgive me my child, if I don't want to hear you screaming and crying about how you hate your bike and you need training wheels and all that. Sigh. Fine. If you say you can do it, I'll put the pedals back on and let you try again. Even though you probably can't do it and our nice little afternoon playtime will be spoiled.

But guess what?! She did it!  She actually coasted down our driveway, pedaled down the street and mastered riding a bike without any help from me!

She proved me wrong, and I am so very, very proud of her! We've been out every night since after school to keep practicing, and she's doing awesome. I guess there's something to be said for knowing when you're ready. And she did. She even told me that she had been practicing this weekend and had gotten better; she's so proud of herself!




So what was the magic secret that suddenly she can ride a bike? Age? Better balance? Sheer determination? A need to prove mom wrong? Maybe. I think it was this scooter.



This past year we had an older couple move in across the street, and the wife gave this scooter to G. G has loved playing with it and has gotten really good at balancing on it, which probably helped her to be able to balance on a bike.



Either way, I'm thrilled. And my baby's growing up--not so thrilled about that though. :)

You go girl!




And of course, little sister M is proving she can ride a bike too. :)
 ~Patricia




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Digital Coupons and Apps

Recently I've gotten back into couponing, and I am excited to say that I've been saving a bunch and getting some really good deals, which feels awesome!  The other day I got a bottle of Dove shampoo for $.27 at our local Publix.

$.27!  That's crazy! 

I've also gotten into using digital coupons from our local Publix and 2 apps: Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon. The digital coupons from Publix are super easy, you just select them ahead of time and then enter your phone number at checkout.  I usually check a few Publix-specific couponing websites to get the best deals every week, and then I either print out the digital offers or email them to myself so that I can use them while shopping.  Check back later this week when I share my favorite couponing websites.  Feel free to sign up on the right for email updates of the latest blog posts.  I mean, you wouldn't want to miss anything, right?!

Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon are similar apps, in which you check out the offers (new ones posted every Thursday), then upload a receipt and check the offers that are on your receipt. The receipts are processed within 2 days and you can claim a check when you reach $20.  They both have a combination of fresh food, packaged foods and home cleaning products/air fresheners. With Snap, some of the offers you can use more than once, which is pretty awesome!  Also, with Snap, you can also refer friends and earn money when they redeem offers too.  I signed up for both, because I love saving on fresh foods....well actually I love saving money and these apps are just so simple.

Hint: With some of the offers you only have a few days to redeem, so upload your receipt right away. The hardest part for me is holding on to my receipt! If you stop in at the store and grab a couple items, check the apps that night to see if you could qualify for anything.  I realized I could've earned cash back on the lettuce that I bought yesterday, but I could not find my receipt anywhere!  :(  Now I know to just snap a photot of my receipts so that I can upload them at any time!

Interested?

Here are the links so you can check them out too:

Click here to check out Snap by Groupon and sign up!

Click here to check out Checkout 51 and sign-up!

Click here to sign up for a Publix account and get their digital coupons.

Let me know how much you're saving and we can compare notes!!!

~ Patricia

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Recipe: Favorite Blueberry Muffins (A winner!)

Sometimes I get in a baking mood and just want to whip up something delicious.  So then I frantically look through my list of pinned Recipes (check them all out 160 of them here) and try to find something that looks easy, delicious, and that I have all the ingredients for on hand right now. 

Today I was successful!

I found this great blueberry muffin recipe from Life Made Simple, and it turned out awesome!

Check it out!





My 7 year old deemed these "the best thing you've ever made Mommy!"

Here's the recipe: 

Favorite Blueberry Muffins 

Prep time: 5-15 minutes (depending on how organized you are and how many little hands are helping!)
Bake time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes (Plus time to wash the dishes afterwards too.)

Makes 12 delicious muffins!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. All-purpose flour
1/2 c. Cake flour *
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. vegetable or coconut oil (I used co.)
4 tbsp. melted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk*
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 2 lemons
1 1/4 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen; I used one of those small containers you get at the grocery store).

Topping (optional)
3 tbsp coarse sanding sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Put liners in 12 standard size muffin cups.
2. Using a stand mixer, lightly beat together oil, butter, vanilla, lemon zest, eggs and buttermilk.
3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
4. Using low speed, slowly mix dry ingredients with wet until combined.
5. Remove bowl from stand mixer and gently stir in blueberries. Scoop batter into lined muffin cups. Fill 2/3 of the way full. If using topping, sprinkle sanding sugar on each. ( I didn't have any on hand; they were still good!)
6. Place into oven; bake for 24-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Remove from oven; let cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  Then place muffins on wire rack until completely cooled. (Not gonna lie, these are really good warm. :)  To reheat, place in microwave for 15 seconds. Careful, it'll be hot.)

Notes:
* You can use 2 cups of all-purpose flour instead of 1 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 cake flour. (that's what I did.)
* I didn't have buttermilk, so I made some by putting 1 tbsp of vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup, then filling with regular milk.  After waiting 5 minutes, pour out 3/4 c. for the recipe. 


Recipe source:
In my own words from: Life Made Simple
Her recipe was adapted from:  Back In The Day Bakery, Blueberry Muffins

Enjoy!

~Patricia