Monday, June 25, 2012

Dawn Dish Soap turned Ice Packs

I have been finding more and more uses for Dawn dish soap recently, including this really easy project that I now use on a daily basis...Dawn ice packs!

 I had 1/2 a bottle of  Dawn left over from another project so I just used what I had left which turned out to be a pretty good amount. I used 2 quart size Ziploc freezer bags: I poured all of the soap I had into one bag, removed the air and sealed the bag. I folded that bag in half and then stuffed it in another bag to avoid future leaks. *Make sure to get as much air out as possible before sealing each bag!

Besides that, I decided to make a little cover for mine using some extra fabric I had lying around. I have been using this daily for a few weeks now and have no complaints. The pack comes out a little firm after being frozen overnight or all day, but it's still quite pliable and is very soft within about 20 minutes. It stays cold for a couple hours as well.

Soap pack and pouch

Final Product
 Happy pinning! ~ Valarie

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New School Year Gift

My daughter "moved up" to her new room in day care this week. No longer a "Brooke Trout" but now a "Great Dane". (They use a state related theme, apparently brook trout are the state fish and great danes are the state dog....who knew?)
I decided to give the teachers a little something since its technically the "beginning" of the school year for Sophia. And hey she is 2 so I am sure they will be dealing with some tantrums so a little gift can't hurt, right?
I looked around on Pinterest for something that was easy and simple and didn't have an actual school theme to it since this is day care and it is June not September. I found this cute pin and went with it :)

The blogger had already created the tag saying so I downloaded that (no need to recreate the wheel). I pulled out my scrapbook paper and picked a cute polka dot pattern. Cut and paste...the real kind ;) and then I laminated the tags with the teacher's names on the back. BTW have I mentioned how much I LOVE my new laminator?? It was one thing I missed having access to as a teacher so I went and bought an inexpensive table top one at Walmart for $24! LOVE IT and highly recommend getting one if you like your crafts to be fancy and durable :)

I simply tied the tag on around the lid of the candle and thats it! Not great photo quality, sorry I used my phone ;)

Happy Pinning!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Boxes

Teacher Appreciation Week was in the beginning of May. As a former teacher, I have received some wonderful, thoughtful gifts. I have also received probably 30+ coffee mugs. So I wanted to find something unique to make for Sophia's day care teachers. After scouring Pinterest for a few ideas I came across these "Teacher Appreciation Boxes". I love all the little compartments and I had just bought a scrapbook paper set that I wanted to crack open :)

I read through the original bloggers run down to see how she did it. You can read that here. And off to Walmart I went to collect my supplies. I was able to find these exact craft boxes for $3 each. Score and then collected my goodies to fill in my box with. I filled my boxes with gum, clips, peppermint patties, raisins, jolly ranchers, push pins, clips and hershey kisses. And I wrote a personalized letter to each teacher using each item in the box to thank them for all they do. Here are the pics of my finished product :) 
I used 3 coordinating scrapbook papers and hot
glued them in each corner to secure them. The blue was the bottom layer.
Then the pink hexagon print and then I laid the small pink herring bone stripe last.

Here is the inside all filled up. I typed and laminated my note
and secured it with hot glue in each corner. 

A close up of the note.
I highlighted the use of the items by putting them in all caps 

The finished box! I just wrapped it with hot pink
grosgrain ribbon  and added a laminated tag!
Happy Pinning!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole

I really wanted to try this one out and I am so glad I did. I have tried similar recipes and have enjoyed them all as well. This was a hit for everyone in the house, including my toddler. It took a few minutes of prep time and then just pop it all in the oven. One dish, no mess and a happy family...couldn't be easier!
Happy Pinning! Val

Slow Cooker Applesauce

As with the vast majority of my food related posts, this one caught my attention for the sure simplicity. My son loves applesauce in any form and its a perfect after dinner or snack time treat for him. I had also recently acquired an apple slicer/corer/peeler appliance so I was eager to try it out.


I did not use as many apples as the recipe called for simply because I didn't have them. I had 1/2 a dozen apples that were ending their life span in my fridge so I opted to try this out with what I had. I somehow could not figure out the slicing part of my new appliance so I ended up tossing my apples in chunks versus slices. No harm done!

I did add 3 tbsp of brown sugar which may have been too much, the applesauce would make the most amazing pie filling on earth!!! Either way, my son loves it and it took a total of 15 minutes of labor. 10 to prep and 5 to mash (potato masher) and clean up afterwards.

Happy Pinning! Val

Stacked Planters Spring Project

Now that Spring is here, I decided it a was good time to get in gear and start planting and potting some flowers to brighten up around the house. When I saw this pin, I knew I had to try it. It looked so cute and easy enough that I could figure it out. Sure enough, I was right! I got the entire project done for under $50, and that is including an entire bag of potting soil and a few plants leftover (which were simply planted elsewhere around the house).
LINK to Blog
I found the 3 pots at a craft store on sale. I actually used foam blocks meant for organizing fake plants as my filler in the pots. It worked perfectly as they are square and provided a sturdy base for the pots to stand on. If you want to follow her instructions (I didn’t think about this until I was done), you can use the plastic pots your new plants come in as the fillers (free and easy). And painting the pots was quick and easy. We had leftover outdoor paint from another project and painting all 3 pots took about 30 minutes.

For the bottom 2 pots, there is not a lot of planting space at all. So definitely buy smaller plants, the kind that come 4 or 6 plants to a tray. I had some of those and some larger ones, the larger ones involved some squishing of the roots to get them to fit. I am so glad I got a large plant for the top! It helps the whole set stand out and draws your attention.

 Happing Pinning!! Valarie

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Like the majority of my posts, this one is about food! Surprise, surprise, that I found this pin appealing for its short list of ingredients of ease of cooking :) It just looked yummy too!

 After reading thought the laundry lists of comments on this post, I followed most folks suggestions and skipped the first step altogether, arranging sliced lemons across the bottom of the dish. This was a good call, because 1 lemon's worth of juice gave plenty of flavor to this dish!!! It'd be overkill with the slices!

I also decided to use a shake and bake method for coating my ingredients, this was a good call. The recipe says use a bowl, this would be messy. I used a gallon zip lock and some tongs and it was quick, easy and no mess!

I used 2 large bone-in chicken breasts since it was only feeding two adults and a toddler, this also worked out great. My only change would be to use 4 or maybe 5 TBSP of oil, 6 was a tad much.

Overall, awesome dish, SUPER easy and I will absolutely make this again.

Happy Pinning! ~ Val

ABC Learning Board

Just like all good moms, I do try and create activities around the house that foster learning for my kiddo. I've seen a couple different alphabet learning posts on Pinterest that have sparked my interest, however this one more so because I already had the Fridge Phonics®: Magnetic Alphabet Set from Leap Frog.

Being the anal retentive parent that I am, I dismissed the idea of hand writing the letters on a random piece of paper and wanted a more uniform look. I decided to check out my local Wal-Mart to see what I could put together.

I found an ABC Flash Card set and a poster board, perfect!! I went home, grabbed a letter from the Leap Frog phonics and double checked to make sure the magnet was strong enough to go through the poster board AND the flash card. It worked!! And I was thrilled. I glued each card around the edges and neatly stuck them to the poster board.

Once dry, I hung the board and got to putting each letter in its respective spot. Guess what...they don't stick! Apparently the FRONT of my fridge (where I tested it, but is a side-by-side therefore poster board was planned for the side of the fridge) is more magnetic than the SIDE of my fridge...

SO, overall, project semi-fail. The objective of the "game" is the same, just minus the magnets. I put the board on the floor and my son enjoys trying to match the letters. He then also enjoys picking up the entire board, dumping the letters on the floor, and running away with said board...boys!

Happy Pinning! ~ Val

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mess Free Finger Painting

I am primarily a stay at home mom, so I am always looking for fun new ways to pass the hours especially on those dreadful "rainy days". Well it turned out this was one of those and I had found just the pin for it!
Find the pin here 
I had recently bought and stored away the 2 main components of the pin: paint and gallon size ziploc baggies. I bought washable finger paint...just incase the bags did not stay sealed and the Ziploc brand bags with the actual zipper so I knew that they were indeed sealed.

After that it was simple. I taped down 2 sheets of white paper. Put a generous squeeze of two colors in each bag. Pressed out as much air as possible and zipped them closed. Then I taped over the zipper for extra precaution. I taped the bags down to the table with blue painters tape and that was it! They were SUPER easy and it says in the blog where I found them that you can peel them up and just store the bags for reuse! 

All the materials I used :)

Little Miss 

She really liked pressing puzzle pieces into make imprints :)

Happy Rainy Day Pinning!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Valentine’s Cookies

So I may be a working mom (and I love it) but I also love being a good daycare mom. Juggling those two things can be hectic but I am getting the hang of it! Lucky for me, I have my pinning partner in crime/ex-teacher who laid down the “good school mom rules” for me last year.  I learned that holiday parties at school are an important time for me to step up and pitch in. So now, I always try and send something for the teacher, something for the class and when appropriate, something for each little kiddo.

The most recent holiday festivity at daycare was Valentine’s day. I saw this pin and loved the idea!!


I was telling friends at work how I was going to make cookies and put heart shaped chocolate in the center instead of Hershey kisses. Well I have a friend who had one of “those” mom’s, the BEST school mom out of everyone. He insisted I make heart shaped cookies with heart shaped chocolates if I REALLY wanted to be a good mom (and that’s what his mom would do). So of course, I had to step up to the plate!

Let me start with…I’ve never made cut out cookies before. I’m sure I did plenty as a kid, but I can’t remember what I wore yesterday let alone what I did 25 years ago. So I got everything I needed to make the cookies and one night while my kiddo was eating his dinner, I started the debacle of me and the cookies. Betty Crocker has it down for dummies, the instructions on my sugar cookie packet had separate instructions for cut out cookies versus regular round ones! Thanks for that Betty. So I followed the instructions and still learned a valuable lesson: You need A LOT of flour! I am sure seasoned bakers can do with less, but me, I went through a few a cups trying to keep it all from sticking.

To sum up the debacle, I started with dough sticking to the rolling pin. Then dough sticking to the cutting board. Then more dough sticking to both (around the edges where I clearly didn’t flour enough). Finally, I got the hang of it and cut out some heart shaped cookies!

After the baking was done, I learned another valuable lesson: DO NOT move the cookies from the sheet pan to a cooling rack!!! After moving this cookie, I cleared some fridge space, put down hot pads, and put both sheet pans directly in the fridge to cool, worked like a charm.
This is what happens when you try and move the cookies to cool:
Melted the chocolate instantly :(
All in all, by the end, I got the hang of it, made some cute and yummy cookies and everyone was happy! I even packaged them in cute white and red polka dot boxes to send to school!

My Final Product

Happy Pinning! ~ Val

Toddler Foods List

So while scrolling through Pinterest yesterday, I happen to stumble upon a pin for a Toddler Foods List (LINK). Obviously the list itself wasn’t overly helpful since I already have a toddler and feed him for that matter! However I LOVED the original poster’s idea of storing the list. I find myself instructing grandparents of what foods in the house are okay for my son on a regular basis. Whelp, problem solved!

I wrote and printed off my list, found a sheet protector and voila! Best part is, you can write on the sheet protector with a dry erase marker, so if something from the list isn’t in the kitchen, I can simply cross it off the list of possibilities.
I also added my son’s daily schedule. This is another thing I end up reiterating to everyone.

The List

The List Posted in the Cabinet
Happy Pinning! ~ Val

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Love Map Art

My husband and I have been together for 12 years. And although HE says we no longer have to celebrate our "dating" anniversary....I say we DO. Its at the end of February so I have been trying to come up with something personal but not pricey as my gift to him. Then I remembered this pin!
This is so perfect for us :) We met in college (Salisbury University) and then moved back home to Baltimore County and got married there. Now we live in PA. So three hearts from three different place and times in our relationship.

I checked out the tutorial (click on link above) and it pretty simple. However, I was NOT going to search around forever for a frame to redo. So I bought one at Target for $24.99. It's a nice frame. Basic black with 2 glass panes you put pictures in between. Simple, clean, done.

Now I needed maps to cut out. I thought about printing maps off the internet but they wouldn't have that "map" feel so I needed real maps. I looked up the prices for maps on not as cheap as I wanted. Then I remembered the roadside welcome center 5 minutes from my house! Free Maps! Tons and Tons of them. This was the PA Welcome Center but they also had MD roadmaps and gave me 2 of each state for free! Score :)

Next I had to decide how to do the heart shape. They needed to be uniform and I didn't want to free hand them like the tutorial. So I used a large heart cookie cutter as my template. So easy. I actually got a set of 4 heart shaped cookie cutters on clearance for a $1 at Walmart after Valentines day. The large one worked perfectly. Traced and cut them out..took 5 minutes.

Then I chose a simple font and printed out the captions on regular printer paper. Used a glue dot to secure each heart and cut them to the same size squares. Another glue dot to stick them to the glass pane and I was done! 

Here is the finished product :)
before it was hung

up on the wall :)
Happy Pinning!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Press & Seal Fridge FAIL

Ok I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this one. But we said we would share the good, bad and ugly. This one would fall under "bad".

I am always looking for easy cleaning tips. So I saw this pin about putting Press & Seal paper on your fridge shelves and thought thats simple and seems like it would be affective.

Buying the Press & Seal was easy and cheap so I figured why not? Well then I tried to "press and seal" it to my fridge shelves. I washed and dried them thoroughly. Tried to press. No luck. Tried to seal. No dice. My shelves look just like the ones in the picture. But it DID NOT WORK. 

Oh well, I have come to love Press & Seal for left overs. So at least I have that. 

Happy Pinning!

Pink Chocolate Chip Cookies

Valentine's Day motivated a lot of pins in my household...(check out the Heart Shaped Crayons :) due to the fact that my daughter had her first Valentine's Day party at day care. I signed up to bring cookies and I wanted to bring something yummy and unique.

Pinterest is great for recipes. But as I've learned, they can be a little to schamancy for my taste or baking ability. I searched for a while and settled on these PINK chocolate chip cookies!
Find the pin HERE
I actually found another pin initially but after reading some reviews I found out that they had some issues and they had redone the recipe. Which is the recipe I used. 

I really like this recipe because it was EASY! Sugar cookie mix + powdered sugar + flour + egg whites + red food coloring + butter + chocolate chips. Thats pretty much it! You should really follow the directions and not bake longer than 10 minutes because they will start to brown...which would make them NOT pink :) 

The only thing I would have done is really committed and added some more food coloring. But all in all, they turned out great. Tasty & pink! 

Happy Pinning!

Heart Shaped Crayon Valentines

Color Your Heart Out!

As an elementary school teacher for almost 10 years, I have received A LOT of valentines. I totally understand the convenience of buying the prepackaged valentines in the box. But having received somewhere around 300 of them... I wanted to make unique Valentines for my daughter to take to her daycare exchange.

Now months and months ago, I saw this pin and thought they were so cute! And as luck would have it I came across a heart shaped Wilton pan on clearance at Michaels (one of my happy places) in the fall which I immediately snatched up for $2.50. And then I waited..... :)

February was finally here! It was finally time to make the crayons. I have tubs of crayons in my basement from my aforementioned teaching days so I didn't have to buy any crayons. I know the pin says use old broken crayons....but you are going to need more than a few broken pieces and a variety of colors too. So go buy a pack or 2 of 24 crayons. I had mostly Crayola but I doubt the brand or type matters.

All excited, I started peeling the crayons by hand. BIG MISTAKE. Not only is it annoying, its takes forever and makes a huge mess. So I ran off to the interwebs and found out that you should just use a utility knife and slice down the side...and wahla. That was so easy that I ended up peeling A LOT of crayons.

Now it was time to melt the crayons. When I actually read the pin above it said that she "couldn't imagine how to use a metal pan" since she had a tough time getting the crayons out of the silicone pan she used. GREAT. My clearance pan is METAL. Of course I ran back to Pinterest and found this pin which was perfect! (note the metal pan :)

Heart Shaped Crayons

Now what I also liked about this pin was that she made solid colored crayons as opposed to the mixed up swirly ones. I am a crayon purist apparently and I wanted to make solid colored ones. I followed the directions from blogspot show in the picture is the link. Most important things: 1) spray the pan with cooking spray and 2) freeze them after melting the wax. Here are some pics of my first batch ( I made like 5 batches...I said I peeled A LOT of crayons)
Before Melting

After Melting

Pretty cute!

Once I had all 48 crayons completed I had to figure out how to package them. I went to google and searched for some templates and labels. I pinned the circle template and the labels so I could use them again next year. (Hey I already have the pan....) I bought mini red and white gift bags at..yup...Michaels for 59¢ each. Stuck the crayons on the circles and the labels on the bags. I really loved how cute they were! Each toddler got 3 easy to hold heart shaped crayons to color for Valentines from my daughter...I felt like a good mommy on Valentines Day :) 

Happy Valentines & Happy Pinning!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

If you can't tell by now, I like to keep it simple. When reviewing the various recipes on Pinterest, I like to save the ones with the fewest ingredients and easiest cooking methods. That brings me back to my slow cooker and the 3 ingredient Crock pot Chicken Tacos fit the bill!

Since I had chicken breasts on hand, I used what I had left, 5 Purdue boneless skinless breasts, and purchased one 16 oz. jar of Pace salsa and a pack of Taco Seasoning. Mix the seasoning with the sauce and pour over the chicken, that's it.

I cooked it on high for 4 hours, shredding the chicken at the 3 hour mark and giving it an hour to soak up all that salsa/taco mix goodness.

Serve with soft or hard tacos, lettuce, cheese, sour cream or anything of your liking and you have a family friendly dinner everyone will enjoy!!
LINK to Recipe 

Happy Pinning! ~ Valarie

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Easy Storage Cabinet Update

I have small cabinet in my powder room. Its simple with clean lines so I like that. What I don't like is the clear-ish window panes in the front that make it very easy for everyone to see what I'm storing in there. Sorry boys but yes my feminine products have to be stored somewhere. Anyway when I came across this pin about sprucing up plastic storage drawers with scrapbook paper I immediately thought of this cabinet!
Original Pinterest Pin with Plastic Organizer
Ok pretty easy, right? Buy the paper, cut the paper, glue/modge podge the paper. In my case I did not Modge Podge the paper in. I simply measured 3 identical sized pieces for each window pane and cut them out. Put a small dot of hot glue in each corner and stuck them in. I wanted the ability to take them out if I want since I used scrapbook paper that matched the black/white damask motif I have going in my powder room (well my whole house actually...). So EASY! Once I remembered to buy the paper, which was 59¢ a sheet...It took me literally 5 minutes to measure, cut and glue. Here are the before and after :)

Happy Pinning!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Easy Breakfast Solutions

Every week at work, we have Breakfast Club Friday. It's a voluntary thing where someone in the group is responsible for bringing 20 other people breakfast on Friday morning. It ends up that you go about 3 times a year. Not too bad. When I signed up, I had all the intention in the world of being a bagel, fruit & yogurt kind of gal....then came Pinterest.

So this week it was my turn to feed the crowd. I decided to check out my Food For Thought board on Pinterest to see if I had anything that would fit the bill. I came up with these two ideas:
LINK for Eggs
The egg sandwiches could not have been any easier. I did not make and freeze them as the poster did, but I did make 20 people's eggs for their sandwiches in 20 minutes with little to no mess!! Good enough for me! Spray down some muffin tins, crack 2 dozen eggs and bake for 20 minutes. Couldn't have been easier. They came out perfectly and everyone was impressed!

LINK for casserole
THIS...THIS was the hit of today! Who would have thought? I have been complimented all day on this dish and handed out the recipe to half a dozen people. It was very easy and even better, I was able to do all the prep work the night before.

The recipe calls for an 8 inch baking dish. Since I was feeding 20 people, I used my larger rectangle dish. I thought I could easily double all the ingredients but that turned out to be too much!
Here is what I did:
1.5 bags of frozen hash browns
2 cups of shredded cheese
1 whole onion
16 ounce pack of turkey bacon
16 ounces of fat free condensed milk
1.5 eggs 2 tsp of seasoned salt
AND Cooked it 15 minutes longer

Overall, it really was delicious; I went back for seconds as did everyone I spoke to. I will definitely be making this again.

Happy Pinning!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Felt Cookies & Icing

I, along with my best Pinning friend, discovered that Pinterest is fabulous in preparing for Christmas. As you can see in previous posts, we found plenty of holiday decorating ideas on Pinterest! I also found these - Felt Cookies with Frosting.
I decided these would be a perfect gift for my God Daughter. She is just under 2, loves hanging out with her mom in the kitchen and playing pretend. I waiting months to Pin this after I found it so I could keep it a secret from her mom :)

Overall, I love the outcome of the project. I found all of the materials for this at JoAnn Fabrics and even combined, relatively inexpensive. The original poster used a cute wooden box from Michaels that they painted and decorated. I knew my 2 year old God Daughter would want to carry her box around, take the lid on and off herself, etc. So I opted for a Rubbermaid type box from Target. It’s safe for her little fingers, see through so she knows what’s inside and portable for little hands.

I found the accessories at a local store, I bought a mini rolling pin, mini oven mitt and mini baking sheet.

Entire Finished Product

Cookie Close Up
Obviously, the sewing part of this project took the longest, but I am slow and was distracted watching TV :) I did need a sewing machine to do the outside of the "dough" to clean up the edges and secure the two pieces of felt.

Happy Pinning!