Gettin' My Martha Stewart On: Pick a Pinterest Project (Gallery Wall)

Been wanting to put up a gallery wall display In the living room for months now.

I'd had a stack of photos taken down from a wall in the den when I rearranged the furniture and the TV took up the photo wall. I'd also had some items I'd bought from H.ome G.oods but never put up. All of this stuff was just stacked in a corner collecting dust. Shame! So this weekend, I just decided to tackle it.

Being the A-type personality that I am, I had to have some structure to the gallery wall, so I lined the photos up based on a wide strip of tape between the top and bottom row of pictures. Then I taped up paper templates to map out where I wanted to hang everything. I labeled each sheet so I'd know where to hang what. Such a time saver. I also put a strip of tape between each photo so the spacing would be the same.  I'm notorious for banging numerous holes in the wall trying to hang things. This time, I used a strip of tape to measure out the hole. 


After some swapping out on the layout, I finally hung everything. I noticed the colors lean too much on the brown side after  hanging, so I'll be doing some more swapping out, but I'm just happy to finally have everything up. Most of the photos are old, so I'll be choosing some news ones as well. 


The "M" on canvas is a Pinterest project I've been wanting to do since I stumbled across it earlier this year. I had to sort of free hand the letter because I couldn't get it blown up to the dimensions I wanted when printing it out.  It took about an hour and half and about 400 thumbtacks. Easy and I'm quite pleased with the results. And the best part: it only cost about $10 to do.


Life Without Cable: One Year Later

Let me start by saying this: I do not miss having cable one bit.

Last year, after cutting cable service down from multiple TVs to one, the bill was still $50 a month for basic cable. That's $600 a year that is now being saved. Nope, don't miss it at all.

I wrote about cutting the cord and really, I wish we would have down it sooner.

Here are a few things I've learned in the past year:

  • You Don't Have to Have Cable to Be Happy....or to Be Kept in the Loop

Somehow, I thought the kids were going to suffer or miss out on something. A few months back, I asked the six year old if he missed cable. His response: "what's cable?" Guess that would be a no.

Really there's been no lack of things to watch. The only difference is more money in the pocket and less channel surfing since when we sit down to watch TV, we usually already have in mind what we want to watch. YouTube surprisingly has a lot of shows shown on cable.

  • Many People Don't Think There's a Way to Watch TV Without Cable

A few months back a family member came over and was shocked to see an antenna behind our TV. She asked what it was for? When I told her to watch TV. She was surprised to find out that regular network TV is free over the air and comes in HD. Crazy how people think the only way to watch TV is through cable.

My mother came to visit a few months back and was lamenting our cable-less home. She wanted to watch a network TV show. So I went to the networks website and she was able to watch. She still complained. I think it was more out of not understanding than for a lack of things to watch.

Our set up is pretty much the same: two Roku boxes and an Apple TV box which is what we mostly watch (because Netflix has separate viewing profiles that Roku does not.)  I still hook up my MacBook to the TV sometimes, if my iPad is tied up. But for the most part, we can visit a website like MTV and play it on the TV via AirPlay. It's great how all the Apple products play nice.

Tonight, after the kids go to bed, I'll catch up on The Biggest Loser via Hulu or The LaVigne Life on YouTube. Really looking forward to Nashville, Parenthood and Scandal. What are you watching these days?

Cutting Down the Crazy Makers: Getting Organized for the School Year

Last week, was Parent Orientation at the boys school which means I had to attend two separate sessions. The paper that I walked out with after those meetings was crazy, so I knew that I'd have to get an organization system in place....and quick.

Today marks the third day of school for the boys. And I'm happy to report that the system has been working well. Here's to hoping it ends up well too. Here's what's working for us to help the school year sail by smoothly:

Tame the Paper Monster

The forests are weeping at the sheer amount of paper that my family alone sees. Even baby girl brings home a pile of paper from daycare. I set up a basket in the kitchen for each kid. After school, the boys are responsible for putting papers I need to see from their backpacks into their folders. Last year, papers would end up in a pile on the dining room table or shoved into my hand as soon as we got home. This set up is working out much better. I'm going to add a folder for papers that need to be returned to school. 


We don't have to be out of the house until 8:15 a.m., but I've found that pre-planning gives us a comfortable cushion so that we all aren't running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Everyone's clothes are ironed and laid out the night before (including undershirts and socks, I even make sure knots are taken out of shoes so there's no last-minute morning hassles over shoelaces). Thanks to Saturday night church, Sundays are now free. This past Sunday, I cooked three dinners for the week. That menu planning came in handy. No more stressing over what to cook with the meat I took out of the freezer. The meals are also used for my lunch (which I pack every day) and for the kids when they don't eat at school. I also pack lunches the night before so everything can just be put into lunch boxes.

Do Less

Over the summer I discovered I realized I was doing too much. So the boys have more chores now. I downloaded the Chore Pad app for the iPad that lists the boys' chores. They rack up points that equal rewards like an iTunes app or a solo date with mommy or daddy. If they complete their daily chores, they get 30 minutes of electronic time. If they do extra chores after homework, they can earn extra time. I have assigned each chore that I have to a different day. It has made life so much easier. I used to start chores and then wind up in another room starting a different chore. With designated chores, I stick to the task at hand.

Give Everything a Home

We have a bench at the entrance of the house from the garage where backpacks go. The boys also have to put their shoes away and uniform pants get worn twice (if not dirty) and they have to be hung up. I also label everyTHANG: supplies, backpacks, lunch bags, uniform shirts, jackets, etc. The kids go swimming at school, so I want to ensure that they return with their uniform and not someone else's. This has saved me much heartache when I've had to go to lost and found to retrieve items they have left behind. I love my Dymo Letratag labeler, but bought the Martha Stewart no iron  and weather resistant labels (for backpacks and lunch bags) this year. We'll see how they survive the school year. I also had the boys organize and label the school supplies by type. They were a bit messy for my liking, but I resisted the urge to redo the boxes and labels. The boxes are kept in our mini-office area. This way, no one is searching for pencils, crayons, scissors or glue sticks. They are all in one place.

Keep Calendars Up to Date

The boys' school post all events to a public Google calendar. I sync this with my Google calendar on my iPhone which has saved me so many times when I've forgotten about something school-related. I also post everything (school events, homework due dates and school projects) in my planner. Just so I know what's coming up. I also have a bulletin board with a section for each kid where I post things related to their class. It's mostly empty now but will fill up as the school year goes on.

This is what has been working for us so far. How do you stay organized during the school year?

Around Here...

Lots of stuff going on around these parts. There's a never a dull moment when there are three kids in the house. Last day of school was yesterday (June 11). The boys were pumped about free dress (they have to wear uniforms to school) and the PTA-sponsored carnival which featured bounce houses, laser tag, hamburgers and cotton candy. My six year old had a blast until he threw up. Turns out a game called Gold Digger turned his stomach. The game is an oversized nose filled with snot (goo) and you have to dig in the nostrils for prizes. He said he threw up in the trash, chucked his prize in the trash because it had "snot" all over it and washed his hands. He truly is my child...

My 4th grader took home an award for gold honor roll (GPA of 90-94%). I'm so proud especially considering that he struggled a lot with math this year. Good thing Daddy was able to step in and help him out and give him a boost of confidence. My little kindergartener took home an award for Mileage Club. In an effort to keep the kids active, the kids walk miles at recess and rack up miles as well as small awards throughout the school year. He walked 35 miles this school year which is pretty impressive.

The day before the last day of school, I sent the boys to school with sweet treats for their teachers thanking them for helping the the boys to be smart cookies. The jars included double chocolate chip cookie mix. I should have made one for myself as well!

My Pinterest Monthly Project is still in progress but I have not been posting on schedule like I'd wanted to. So I'll just have to post as I have time. My last project was our linen closet. It's small and was desperately in need of TLC. I'd pinned quite a few idea from Pinterest like this. Here's what I started and ended up with:

It's so nice to go in there and actually find what I need. I forgot to take a photo of the bottom but all sheets are now organized according to size from crib size to king. All bins are labeled and were bought at Daiso for $1.50.

And finally, someone got into the coconut oil this week and had a ball. I couldn't be too hard on her because I'm the one who didn't screw the lid back on tightly after combing her hair that morning.

Hope you have a GREAT Friday!

Pick a Pinterest Project: Jewelry Storage (AFTER)

I've had a ton of projects I've been meaning to tackle...especially since I said I was going to do one project a month based on some inspiration from my Pinterest boards. But life got in the way more than I anticipated. However, I'm happy to announce I've gotten a few things finished.

My first project announced way back in January was jewelry storage. You can see before pictures here. I had a big problem with jewelry being a hassle to get to. So glad that problem is gone.

This project cost $30. The shelf was donated from a friend who was tossing it out. All it needed was a little TLC. (I wish I would have taken a before picture). I readjusted the hangers on the back, sanded it a bit and stained it from the light brown color it was to a dark brown. The burlap covered message board was $15 at Home Goods and the glass jars were $15 total (found in the bathroom section). Everything else was stuff I already owned.

After staining the shelf and letting it dry, the project took less than an hour to complete. The only down side is that some of my jewelry was such a tangled mess that it had to be tossed. 

Bangles are kept in the glass jar to the left. Fine jewelry in the small porcelain container and miscellaneous stuff in the glass jar to the right.

Best part is baby girl can longer reach my jewelry and walk around the house wearing my bangles.

I'd love to see how you keep your jewelry. Please share!

Pick a Pinterest Project: Jewelry Storage (BEFORE PICS)

Pick a Pinterest Project: Jewelry Storage (BEFORE PICS)

For my first project I'm going to tackle my jewelry storage. What I have going on now is dreadful. I have a small jewelry armoire that I detest and most of the time, I wear the same pieces over because what's in there is a tangled mess. I dump stuff in a decorative bowl on the dresser or in a small dresser drawer. Here's my "system" for lack of a better word....

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Pick a Pinterest Project - Let's Do This!

Pick a Pinterest Project - Let's Do This!

I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon soon after it launched. So it's safe to say that I'm a Pinterest junkie as you can see. As I pinned my heart away the other night, I stopped to think about how many of these great ideas I've actually put into action. With the exception of recipes, sadly, not many. 

So I've giving myself a challenge--the Pick a Pinterest Project--to finish one Pinterest-inspired project a month. 

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A Favorite Taste of Summer: Kool Aid Pie

Summer is by far my favorite season. First, because it's my birthday season. And secondly because the tastes of the season are the best: watermelon, peaches and plums. And I'm reminded of summers as a child.


As a kid, my grandmother (New Orleans born & bred and a superb cook and baker) had dishes and desserts she'd only pull out in summer. Her lemon meringue pie was like heaven. She'd make popsicles in dixie cups that we'd pop out and turn upside down to get the sweetest part first.

Then there was her Kool Aid pie. A simple, delicious, light pie that was chilled before being served. I've shared the recipe before but I think it deserves another share. My grandmother always made lemonade (and her pie crust was always made from scratch,) so that's my preference but it will work with whatever flavor you please.

Kool -Aid Pie 

1 - 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip Whipped Topping
1 - 14 ounce can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 - packet of unsweetened lemonade Kool -Aid (or flavor of your choice)
1 - 9 inch Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Add all the ingredients together and pour into a prepared graham cracker crust. 

Chill about 2 hours then serve.