Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 14: Command Center Redo

I love organizing.  The one thing that I just can't seem to get in control of, though, is paper and mail.  The photo above is my "command center" I set up a few months ago.  Believe me, there was no commanding going on from that spot.  I had good intentions when I set it up.  I spray painted that cute white basket to the left of the desk and set up files to put all the incoming paper in.  I set up a tray with a cute pitcher that held all my pens.  The set up was all wrong.  A certain toddler of mine would always get into the pens and papers and a mess would be made of it.  The open basket for the files allowed my lazy self to stack things on top, behind, and all around the basket instead of in the proper files.  Like I said, I was all wrong.

When I was at Big Lots yesterday, they had this nifty file holder for five bucks.  You can't beat that!  It has two handles that the kids would have to undo to get into.  I'm hoping they give up and realize the files aren't worth the time it takes to get into the box.  :)  Now, for the files themselves.  I already had these in the basket before.  I did add a "Calendar" file to the box because this is where I will put Jackson's school calendar and invitations for events we are to attend.  The files I have put into the box are: Calendar, Bills to Pay, To File, Receipts, Troy's File, Melissa's File, Kid's File, and Taxes.  Inside the box is a little pencil basket perfect for my pens, markers, a little stapler, and scissors.  I got the file box idea from Pinterest, of course.  A Bowl Full of Lemons is a blog I discovered through Pinterest and has all sorts of ideas to organize.  I LOVE this blog!  (Click here to visit the "command center" post)

This is what goes in front of all my files.  It is a FREE printable that is very, very useful!  I just laminated it and I write on it with a dry erase marker.  I love that it gives you a time slot for everything, a list of goals, and a space to write scripture to meditate on.  Brilliant!  (To get that FREE printable, click here)  

It cleaned up rather nice, didn't it?  I bet you are wondering where all that paper went?  That, my friends, is for another post!  For now, I have my file box, a calendar hung up, a "shred" basket and a trash can.  Nice and neat.  Now, I need to try to keep it this way!  I have a system!  I just have to use it!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 13: DIY Verse of the Week Chalkboard

I'm so excited about this project because I've wanted to do this for a while!  The cost of one of these on Etsy is 20 bucks.  That is a few dollars too much if you can do it yourself so easily!  I bought the frame pictured above for two dollars at a garage sale a couple years ago and never have used it.  I bought dark primer (as recommended by the lady in the paint department at Home Depot) and chalkboard spray paint for around 8 dollars.  That cost and the little effort put into this project is much worth having a different verse each week hanging up in the middle of my home!  Troy get's John Piper's Fighter Verses on his iPhone each week, so I think I will just put those verses on the chalkboard.

Now, just to forewarn you, if you are planning to put this chalkboard within the reach of children, find another chalkboard tutorial!  We are turning the glass into the chalkboard, which is perfectly fine if handled by adults.

Without further ado, here is how you do this simple project!

You will need:
Dark Primer Spray Paint
Chalkboard Spray Paint
Old Frame with Glass
A safe place to spray paint (open-air, not windy, not wet.)

How to:

1.) Take the glass out of the frame.  Clean and dry it.
2.) Lay out newspaper, making sure to secure it with tape or something heavy to weigh the ends down.
3.) Put the glass on the newspaper.  Follow the instructions on the primer can.  Prime the glass.  Let that dry and repeat with another coat.  Let dry.
4.) Follow the instructions on the chalkboard paint can.  Spray glass with paint.  Let dry.  Repeat for a total of three times.  Let dry 24 hours.
5.)  Take a piece of chalk and turn it sideways.  Rub chalk evenly into chalkboard.  Wipe clean with dry cloth.
6.)  Write your verse or whatever you wish to on the board.  Put back in frame and put it out of children's reach!  Mine is going to hang on the end of our upper kitchen cabinets where everyone can see, but not touch! :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Day 12: Speed Cleaning 101

Most days, my house is a mess.  In fact, the days that my house is clean are very special because they are so rare.  I don't mind cleaning, but I do it all day long, it seems.  There usually is no rhyme or reason to it.  I start to clean up a mess, then as I'm cleaning up that mess, three more messes are made.  Troy's friend once said to him that cleaning a house with kids is like shoveling snow in a snow storm.  How true that is!

When the house gets unbearably messy, I like to have a plan to tackle the house, or at least the cleaning of the front rooms.  It helps me focus.  I've tried many quick house clean "plans," over the last few months, but the one that works for me every time is the one over at  It is called "Speed Cleaning 101."  The idea is you have ten steps, some of which you repeat, and do each step in ten minute increments, with a break every thirty minutes.  I don't know about you, but I love racing against the clock.  It makes a mundane task such as washing dishes a little more interesting.  A little.

More importantly to me, the "Speed Cleaning 101" method really makes the HUGE mess that my house is a bit less overwhelming.  I can do it if I take one step at a time.  And, if I have to change a diaper, get a sippy cup, or break up a fight in between those ten minute increments, I can do just that.  You will be surprised how much you can do in just ten minutes!  My messy living room (pictured above), complete with Trader Joe's O's sprinkled from wall to wall, sippy cups from the morning, pajamas, books, toys, a pink tricycle, and much, much more took ten minutes of speed cleaning to get it looking clean.  Of course, this didn't include dusting.  I guess that's for another day!

You will find all of the cleaning speed methods/plans I have tried on my 30 Days of Pinterest board, so feel free to take a gander!  Happy cleaning!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 11: Green Piña Colada Smoothie

I am all about smoothies. Since Troy and I started having one everyday last March, our health has improved in so many ways. We bought a Vitamix last May and have been making plenty of smoothies since. On Mondays, Troy and I have our normal morning smoothie for breakfast and another smoothie for dinner because Troy leaves 20 minutes after he gets home from work to teach an evening class. My desire is to be more creative with the dinner smoothie so we don't tire of the same smoothie. (To view my other smoothie recipes, please click here to visit Witness My Fitness!)

I looked up pineapple coconut smoothie recipes on Pinterest and discovered one that I thought I could modify. One rule I have for smoothie making is that I must include a vegetable. The original recipe didn't have veggies or protein. The smoothie I came up with turned out delicious! It was a nice change of flavor. It sort of took me back to Hawaii! So, here is the modified version of the recipe I pinned!

Green Piña Colada Smoothie
Yields 2 Smoothies at about 225 calories each

3/4 c. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 scoop of unflavored whey protein
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 cups frozen spinach
1 VERY* ripe banana
1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple
Handful of Ice

Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

*Remember:  The browner the banana, the sweeter it is and the more antioxidants it contains!

(Owen approved of this smoothie recipe!)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Day 10: Cookie Dough Bites

Clean eating can be fun.  No really.  It can.  I love to see what I can make out of really simple, healthy ingredients.

I found an article on healthy "late night" snacks on Pinterest.  I made these cookie dough bites the other night and was pleasantly surprised with how good they turned out!  There are very few ingredients and they take less than 5 minutes to make and a few minutes to chill.  Enjoy!

Cookie Dough Bites

(Yields 30 balls)

2 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 tsp sea salt
10 Tbsp butter*
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp semisweet chocolate (chopped)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional---I added this because I LOVE COCONUT!)


Mix all ingredients together.  Roll into balls and put onto wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Chill until firm. You can also freeze these babies for future late night snacks.  If you want to add a bit more sweetness, but more calories, you can dip them in melted semi-sweet chocolate.

*I am going to make these again this week and try making them with coconut oil.  I have a feeling it will work and taste scrumptious!  I will update the results!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day 9: At Home Paris Date Night

I love my husband.  I love dating him.  With three kids, sometimes it's hard to get out of the house on an official "date."  This is why I love the idea of at-home date nights.  Don't get me wrong, I like to be taken out on the town, just like any other girl, but this is a nice alternative if babysitting is lacking or it's raining and you just feel like being cozy with your hubby.

Troy's birthday gift:  A year of dates!
In August, my husband turned 40.  I wanted to do something unique and special for his birthday.  With the help of Pinterest, I came across the idea of giving him a year of dates.  The blogger (Find Joy in the Journey) who first posted about this did one date night a month.  I decided to do two---one at-home and one away from home date each month.  It was a lot of work to pre-plan and pull this together, but it was so much fun.  And, here we are, months later, still having fun with this gift!
Our candlelit dinner.
An extra dinner guest showed up.
January's at-home date night was Paris Movie Night.  The "date" really started with the kids awake.  I put my PJs on and when Troy came home from work I handed him his PJs to get comfortable.  I then took him into the kitchen and treated him to a candlelit dinner of tomato soup and cheese and bell pepper paninis while the kids watched Curious George in the living room.  Of course, we had Owen visiting us throughout dinner, but it still was romantic.  We then had a "PJ dance party" with the kids so we could wear them out and send them to bed.  Oh, yes, I had fun at the dance party, but it served many purposes!  We sent them to bed and the "date night" continued!   I made chocolate fondue and we watched Charade, which is one of my favorite movies that takes place in Paris.  We had so much fun and the fondue was a very special treat!  We went somewhat healthy with what we dipped---strawberries, marshmallows (only 2!), graham crackers (only 2---and natural ones at that!), and some clean eating cookie dough bites, which will be tomorrow's post.  We drank orange flavored mineral water out of a wine class, lit candles, and sat fireside to enjoy our fondue.  As I said, SO MUCH FUN!
Dance party---wearing the kids (and the parents) out!
The Paris-themed movie
Fireside Fondue

I have really enjoyed dating my husband.  All the ideas on Pinterest are a great help to get creative and cheap ideas!  Please visit my "30 Days of Pinterest" board to see all the ideas!

Day 8: Refrigerator Redo

When I was younger, my Uncle Tony had a magnet on his fridge that said, "If it walks out if the fridge, LET IT GO!"

We have a small fridge for our family. It get's out if control very easily. It's very easy to imagine things growing legs in there and taking if upon themselves to escape. I put several pins to use in the revamping of the space, or lack of space, in our fridge.

The first idea that helped me handle tackling the huge task of cleaning out what lurked within our fridge was to divide the fridge into sections. The door is a section. Each drawer is a section and each shelf is a section. The pinner suggested to clean one section a day for just ten minutes and this way you can keep your fridge clean. It's a great idea! I just hope I can keep it up!

The next pin I used was the idea of baskets. This worked perfectly for our fridge because it made more use of the space. I grouped like things together: the "bread" condiments with each other, the salad dressings together, the sauces together. These ideas are very useful and I hope my new basket system helps keep my fridge organized. I was able to put the extra deli products in a basket, tortillas in another, sauces, produce and so on.

Next, I made sure that I was storing my produce in the correct way.  This would ensure I would get the most bang for my buck and waste less produce.  Did you know that celery should be wrapped in foil, then stored in the fridge?  Below is a pretty handy chart that I used.  (Click to enlarge.)

Lastly, as posted on day 6, the fridge snack box has proven to be such a great tool for saving time and keeping snacks organized and available. I would recommend this to anyone who owns a fridge!

So, without further ado, here ate the before and after photos....

(Just a reminder, to view the pins I am referring to, please follow me on Pinterest and view my 30 Days of Pinterest board.)
Yikes!  That before photo is pretty embarrassing.  Notice the limp celery leaves?  Yup.  Embarrassing. 

Now to tackle my freezers!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Quotable Jackson: The 1999s

I realized it's been quite a while since I've done a "Quotable Jackson" post.  I used to do them all the time! Here is a Jackson quote for you all to enjoy:

Jackson was watching a "Cars Toons" clip where they showed Mater in black and white "film."  He then turned to me and said, "Hey, Mom!  This looks like it was made in the 1999's."  I asked him why and he replied, "Because it's in black and white!"  1999's???  That sure makes me feel old!  I'm sure that sounds like a long time ago to him, because, after all, it was in another millennium!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 7: Vegan Breakfast Cookies

My two oldest aren't big breakfast eaters.  I make pancakes because they ask for them, but they will eat a lot more pancakes if they eat them for dinner than breakfast.  They would rather have a nice big cup of chocolate milk.  I have yet to find a healthy option for that.  So, I'm going to the next best thing:  cookies!

Oh wow.  Wow!  I have to be truthful.  I just put these cookies in the oven and I had to step away to write this post because I kept eating the dough.  I have a feeling these won't just be "breakfast cookies" they are going to be "anytime" cookies!  The real test will be how much my children like them, though!

Here it goes!

Vegan Breakfast Cookies (Adapted from Diary of a Mad Crafter)
  • 1 1/4 cups regular rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup coconut flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of almond meal (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 3  very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Preheat oven to 350F. Grease or line cookie sheet with foil.
Get the wet ingredients together, and then dry. Mix together until it comes together.   Using a 1/4 cup scoop, I dropped the dough onto my pan, and flattened them out with my fingers. If you get stuck to the dough, just dip your fingers in some water before flattening them.
Bake them for 20-25 minutes, or once they’ve browned. Let them cool on the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then move them to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

(Just to let you know, each cookie is about 215 calories, but high in healthy fats and protein!)
Update:  As I finished this post, they came out of the oven and I couldn't wait for them to cool.  They are oozy-gooey deliciousness!  Owen likes them, too!  Now, for the other kids...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 6: Fridge Snack Box

My kids ask for snacks all day long. All. Day. Long. So, when I came across this idea on Pinterest, it stood out amount the eight hundred plus pins I have pinned. I took a box I got last year in the Target dollar section and filled it with baggies of carrot and celery sticks, fresh fruit, yogurt sticks, and string cheese. I put it on the bottom shelf of the fridge so the kids can have access to it. Jackson LOVES the idea of being able to get snacks for himself. I love the idea of him serving himself to healthy snacks! I also can grab things from this box to put in Troy's lunch and eat the snacks myself as well! I hope to add a few quartered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Owen and some pre-measured cups of Greek yogurt. Healthy snacks for everyone! All around, it's a win-win situation!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 5: Dosage Chart on Child's Medication Bottle

The chart is sloppy, but you get the idea!  Useful, indeed!
This is one of those things that I think, why haven't I thought of that?!? My little Owen is sick with an ear and throat/tonsil infection. We picked up medication for him yesterday and so I decided to apply a tip I learned from Pinterest. Instead of trying to remember or guess how many doses your child has taken, you can draw a chart right on the bottle. In my case, I drew a horizontal chart, ten across for the ten days Owen is supposed to take the medication, and three down for the number of doses he takes a day. Handy, isn't it? I'm 100% sure this will help me in the task of keeping track of doses. I'm so glad I came across this pin!
He takes medicine like a little bird.  :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 4: Lego Soap Dispenser

My boy loves Legos. He plays with them, talks about them, dreams about them. Now he can wash his hands with them. This was a super easy "craft" that my five-year-old really enjoyed putting together with me. And, I must add, he is just tickled with the idea of using the soap now!

Lego Soap Dispenser

You will need:
1 clear plastic empty soap dispenser (I used an old Soft-soap container and removed the label.)
Clear hand soap
12-15 Legos in a variety of colors

Unscrew lid to the dispenser. Put in about 1/2 inch of soap. Then put in a few Legos. Keep layering soap and Legos until you fill the dispenser. Screw the lid back on. Wash your hands and enjoy!

Results: Easy to do!  Legos tend to float to the top, but that will only bug me, I'm sure.  :)

Remember, if you'd like to see any of these actual Pins of where these ideas originated, please follow me on Pinterest and follow the "30 Days of Pinterest" board.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The 11pm Pooper

It was about 11pm last night and we had just finished watching an episode of Dowton Abbey. Troy went to go check on Owen because he had been running a high fever hours earlier. He then called me into the hall almost crying and laughing at the same time. There, at the end of our hallway, was Owen. He was asleep, sitting up, like a drunken solder with his sippy cup laying beside him. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was terribly sad, under the circumstances, but at the same time, looked extremely funny! I then scooped him up in my arms to discover that he had a pooper diaper. He had come into the hall to squat in the corner and do his business. He was silent about it, as he tries so very hard to be, so we didn't hear him. He must of fallen asleep right after finishing up. Sweet little Owen. That is a story I want to remember. I regret not taking a photo!

Day 3: DIY Jewelry Cleaner

A couple weeks ago, my sweet toddler dumped my store bought jewelry cleaner out on our bath rug. Bummer. I then realized I didn't need or want to spend 5 bucks on another jewelry cleaner. I would make some. No doubt, Pinterest came to the rescue, once again! I found a recipe a few weeks ago and put it to use today.

DIY Jewel Cleaner

You will need:
2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp of each: Salt, Baking Soda, Dish Soap
A bowl
Foil to cover bottom of bowl

Put foil in bowl. Add water. Add salt, baking soda and dish soap. Add jewelry. It should fizz a bit. Set timer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove, rinse, and enjoy the sparkles!

Results: I cannot tell you how clean and sparkly my ring is. I'm afraid the iPhone camera doesn't show how sparkly it really is! I had trouble focusing on the ring in the "after" photo because it was so shiny! I'm never going to buy cleaner again, that's for sure!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day 2: Family Devotion Basket

What's in it: The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones, God's Names and God's Promises by Sally Michael, a few other devotions, another Jesus Storybook Bible because we love it so much and so the kids can follow along, and a picture book of family and friends that we intend to use as a prayer aid.  
I must admit we aren't as organized with family devotions as I would like to be. Perhaps we need to organize our time better. Perhaps we need a reminder. For my Pinterest idea today, I put together a family devotion basket. It has all our favorite children's devotion books and I put it on the hutch in the kitchen so it is in sight. We usually will do a devotion before the kids go to be if we do one. However, the kids either space out or are tired. So, I feel we can give it a go after dinner time!  Ideas like this that are on Pinterest are so simple, but often very helpful.  We shall see!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 1: Coconut Sugar Scrub

I've been meaning to make this for some time now. My poor husband's hands are so dry and cracked from the dry "winter" weather we get here in Southern California (AKA the "Santa Ana Winds"). This is super simple. My five year old basically made it!


Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Sugar (I used coarse.)
Essential oils (Optional - I didn't have any)

1). Melt oil.
2). Stir in sugar until you make a paste. It is about a 2:1 ratio, sugar:oil.
3). To use, just gently rub into hands/feet/body/face and rinse with warm water. Keep sealed. A mason jar works great!

Results: My hands feel soft, but still dry. I know if I use this every night, it will improve! The real test will be my hubby's dry hands!

30 Days of Pinterest: Less Pinning. More Doing.

(Print Credit:
I love Pinterest. It sparks my creativity. It breathes life into my artsy side, but it can suck the life out of my time management. Currently, I have 31 boards and 800 pins. EIGHT-HUNDRED.  I use pins.  I really do.  But, I pin a lot more than I use.  So, my goal for a month is to use a pin a day to encourage me to cook healthy/clean, spend creative time with family, spend time with my hubby, clean, organize, etc.  I will share the pin I use and the result each night.  So here's to another month full of blogging!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Please vote for my photo!

The above link is a link to my photo in a before/after photo contest.  I'm running up against a few trainers/ fitness club owners who have a fan base, so you voting for me may help me win a really awesome fitness prize!!!  Click on the link above, then click "like" on my photo. Thanks!