Saturday, October 30, 2010

Making a Pleasant Chore out of a Mundane Task

You know that dreaded day! The day you have to do the laundry/clean the house/de-hazard the fridge! I hate that day!! (and many times it's DAYS with an S). I know I am not alone in that boat. We both know we'd rather be out shopping or lazying around in our pajamas doing nothing but stuffing our faces with bon bons watching Oprah {HA!!! like that's ever going to happen, right?}

Well over the past few months as I silently cursed reflected upon such dreaded chores, I came to a conclusion: Make lemonade out of lemons! Hello!! Why not turn my most dreaded chore-LAUNDRY-into something semi pleasurable (read: bearable). So I thought about all the gorgeous laundry rooms I have seen in decorating mags and blogs and set out to make mine look just like theirs. Well, let's just say it's still a work in progress :(
Except today I decided to finish up the first half. I used a few things around the house. My intention was to make it as fresh and pretty as a spring day :)
I don't have any before pics, but trust me you DON'T want to see them ;)
I started by matching the blue in the little rug for the paint. I bought the little rug at Bed, Bath and Beyond and took it to the Home Depot for them to match it.
I love the way it softens and brightens up the room. The blue in person is much brighter than in the pic.{It used to have a hideous yellow in there BLECH!!}
Here's the reveal of the first half of the room. Now, before you go getting all jealous, this is NOT the way it looks all week people! At the beginning of the week the dirty clothes are piling up and the garment rack is in here. At the end of the week when I am getting ready to iron and fold, the garment rack goes into my study where I finish up the job {keep reading}.

                                                   My laundry area :)

                                         A little shelf I bought at Hob Lob and painted to make
                                          it look old and weathered.

    I am really saving up to get me one of them fancy washers, you know the kind   where a whole week's load of dirty laundry fits ;) Then I'll really be rollin'!! The second half of the laundry room will have to wait. It involves covering up the pet crates, tons of cleaning supplies and dog food bags. I will reveal that, hopefully, by the end of the year soon.

So now that you've seen my humble laundry room, here are some gorgeous laundry rooms to REALLY inspire you:

This is a combination mud room/laundry room. I love the glass doors on those cabinets and the sleekness of it all.

This shows you how to make the most out of a small space. Note the snazzy little rug and the
gift wrapping station. Functionality and style. Swoon!!

And I just LOVE the cool, calm color palette in this one. PLUS a door to the outside!

Why can't we all live inside a decorating magazine??-
So what to do you ask? Well I decided to set up my own little slice of laundry heaven. Right in my study.
Every Friday night, I start washing clothes (and with 3 guys in my family there are a LOT of clothes to wash!) so that by Saturday morning I can start my newly found routine of folding, separating and ironing!
I set up my fold up ironing board on one of my study doors. I keep my iron hidden behind an antique cupboard and I bought a collapsible garment rack that I bring in there to hang my freshly ironed clothes on.

I set up in my "laundry workshop" and put on a Netflix instant streaming movie to watch on the computer monitor. I informed my family that I am NOT to be bothered while I am in there IRONING and they pretty much have obliged me with that little request. My hubby, Sergio, usually brings me in some snacks to tide me over (isn't he a KEEPER??) and away I go.
I also use this on some of the clothes my boys wear around the house or are too casual to iron.
The rest of the clothes, I iron. The key is to get a good iron with steaming action. This makes all the difference in how fast your task will take. So I stand and iron and watch my movie every Saturday morning. After all the clothes have been folded and divided up by kid they are called in to my "laundry sanctuary" to pick up their stuff and put it away. I have to admit, I kind of look forward to this time alone - even if I am doing the dreaded laundry.

*images from

Linking this up to the following:
Met Monday at Between Naps on The Porch
November 15 Metamorphosis Monday
Paint Party-Less than perfect life of bliss
Organize With Sandy
Thrifty 101
Thrifty Decor Chick

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

{Creative Ways} to Use Your Printer and Paper Bags

I love learning new ways to craft! I especially love to use things that we may have around the house. Here are some of my favorites that I will personally be using this Holiday Season and year 'round:
Over at Colleen's Corner she has SO many cool ideas and I think this is about the best one! {at least for me}

The posibilites are endless. Check out her tutorial here >>>Printing on Fabric

And Beth over at It is what it is has posted a "how-to" print on paper lunch sacks!
Pure Genius! Go there to see it-Halloween Lunch Bags

And here's something I'll be working on with the little guy this week. Paper Bag luminaries!
Crafts by Amanda

How about you? I'd love to see any fun and easy crafts you've done on the printer or by using simple household items. Email them to me with your link to
Happy Crafting :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Halloween {Hallow's Eve Fun } Mantle Decorations

Tonight my little guy and I decided to make our annual Halloween decorations.
But this year besides our usual Jack-O-Lantern carving and pumpkin seed roasting, we decided to decorate our mantle as well. I wanted to use only things that I already had around the house.
I started several weeks ago by getting some branches off our willow tree.
I forgot left them outside to dry a bit and then I simply spray painted them with black paint. I used the same Rustoleum Black Hammered paint I  had left over from the patio table project I'd done over the summer. I then took my new favorite metal bucket that I found at this cool, little, downtown antique shop (which I blogged about here.

I also found the three medicine bottles during that bargain shopping excursion. I decided to make some spooky labels and remembered that I had seen some pre-made!

Yippee for me! All I did was resize them to fit my bottles. It would have been so much easier, I think, if I had printed them on label paper, maybe not, but I didn't have label paper so I just used regular. Then I cut them out and simply brushed Modge Podge on the backs of them and adhered them to the bottles.

The spooky beverage labels can be found {here} and are courtesy of the very talented Kate over at
Aaron tried his hand at cutting out his own Jack-O-Lantern. He drew the face and then used the little saw to cut out the pieces. I washed out all the "guts" prior to him carving it and I saved all the pumpkin seeds for roasting. Sergio loves to roast them and he adds a little olive oil to the pan and salts them afterwards. He also likes to add some powdered habanero chile pepper that we bought in New Mexico. They are soooo good ;)

We also decorated some pie pumpkins by drawing on them with a black paint pen (which I love!) and then gluing some bling on them.

I cut out some ghosts and tied ribbon to them and hung them on my Halloween tree.
I then cut out some bats and taped them up behind the tree on top of my mantle with painters tape.
You can find those templates here at Isn't it great that we have so many free resources on the 'net? Luv it :)

{Sergio made this little haunted house silhouette last year}
Since we have a Nightmare Before Christmas theme going outside, I thought I'd add a little of Jack and Sally to the mantle as well. This is their house after all you know? :D
So there you have it. Our little piece of Halloween heaven :)
Bring on the candy and caramel apples.

**I linked this up to Metamorphosis Mondays at Between Naps on the porch. Go there to see more Halloween Decor ideas.
And don't forget to visit stephanie lynn's awesome blog Under the Table and Dreaming where I linked up this project too.
More great blogs I'm linking this up to:
The Letter 4
Tatertots and Jello
At The Picket Fence

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mini Apple Empanadas {Bites}

I love the smell of apples baking in the oven. And I love to sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar...wait-apple empanadas is what I am craving.
So tonight I decided to make my favorite apple empanadas except to make them bite sized :)
I simply followed my original recipe posted here but instead of using my Tupperware empanada maker, I simply used a cookie cutter. I then filled it with about 1/4 teaspoon of the apple filling and brushed egg all the way around on both sides of the "bites".
Make sure you don't overfill because it will seep out. Take care to pinch it closed and brush with the egg so it will bake closed. Also, if your apples are too juicy and the filling too watery, strain it.
Bake for 10 mins. and enjoy :)

                                                       Yummy goodness :)

Two pie crusts yield about 36 mini empanadas.
If you'd like to win your very own Tupperware empanada maker look at the post below this one. You can win one and a Betty Crocker Fall cookbook aaannnnndddd a BLT dip mix.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

{A baking} Giveaway!

Since it's the beginning of the fall season and with that we all feel like getting crafty and bakey (is that a word?) I am feeling generous and so will be hosting a giveaway.
I love to bake. I especially like to bake apple empanadas. I am even more delighted that my apple empanadas have been so well received and I have people ask for them all the time. I posted the recipe here. Soooo I have decided to giveaway a brand new Tupperware empanada maker! This little gadget is wonderful for making empanadas, apple fritters or turnovers. It's basically non-stick and so easy to use.
I am also including a brand new Betty Crocker cookbook featuring the cake pops I'll discuss below. It is filled with great recipes that tear off to get you started with baking.
And to top it all off I am also including a BLT dip mix from Celebrating Home to the package giveaway. This delicious mix will be a hit at your next football watching party.

Here's how to enter:
Go to my Jafra Facebook page on the right>>>> and become a fan or "like" my page.
Then come back here and tell me you are now a Jafra fan (that's one entry)
Go to my  Jafra Website and look at the "What's New" page and mention one product that you like in the comments section (that's another entry)
Post this giveaway with a link on your facebook page or your blog and encourage others to enter (that's 3 entries) Come back to the comments section and enter your name three different times (three diff. comments) with the link to your facebook or blog page.
Follow my blog to the right by clicking on follow (2 entries) then come back and tell me you follow this blog. Comment on this 2 times.
The total value of this Giveaway is $29.00
This will end on 10/9/10 at 10 p.m. CST
Only available to those living in the United States. Winner to be picked by

Now for the cake pops:
I found this wonderful idea at the website. I went out and bought the Betty Crocker fall cookbook and tried the recipe out.
Unfortunately I didn't melt the candy coating correctly and it came out too thick. When I tried to melt it more (in the MW) it started to become stiff. So I stopped and let it cool down and I kept stirring it and stirring it so it was soft like soft cream cheese. Not exactly candy coating type but it'll do. I then took the lollipop stick and stuck it in the cake ball and spooned the candy coating on the pops. When they hardened they did not look like the picture but were still very yummy! We have enjoyed them and you can learn to make them with the cookbook or by buying Bakerella's book. She came up with the brilliant ideas!!
So here's the pics of my cake pops (first attempt so go easy on me) made for my son's 13th birthday party!

They loved them and isn't that what counts? :)
Happy baking :)
**AND THE WINNER IS.......COMMENT #2 (I had to re-draw b/c I never heard from the original winner)
True Random Number Generator

Min: 1

Max: 13



How to Make Pretty Halloween Cookies

You know I've always wondered how people, just ordinary people, not professional bakers, make their cookies look so pretty. Mine always seem to come out misshapen and the icing all cakey and gross. I never seem to hold the gel frosting pen just right to draw the lines on the cookie. Well after some research I went on my quest to make "pretty" cookies. And boy did I find out some neat tricks. So this post is for those people like myself who will go "Woah! I didn't know they made edible ink!!"That's right, folks, edible ink! As in some of it goes into cartridges and you can print things out on cakes! I always wondered how they make those photo cakes in the stores.
So here's my little tutorial:
First you'll need some Halloween cookie cutters
 A couple of "logs" of sugar cookie dough in the refrigerated section of the store
Parchment paper, rolling pin
Non-stick surface to roll dough ( I use my Pampered Chef baking stone since it's already "seasoned" and naturally non stick :D)
Edible Ink Markers from your local Michael's or Walmart in the party section (I bought the Wilton brand)
Rolled colored fondant (same aisle at Walmart)
cookie sheets, light corn syrup, basting or other brush
First pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Take one log of the cookie dough and roll it with the rolling pin out onto the parchment paper on the baking stone. I like to roll out the cookie dough directly onto the parchment paper so that I can just transfer the paper and cookies onto the cookie sheet and bake.
I have found that if your cookie dough is chilled it is better to work with and less likely to stick. Take your cookie cutter and cut out the shapes you like. Make sure you leave at least 2 inches between shapes because they will expand and run into each other. The thinner your dough the nicer the shape will be. (This is why I like to roll it out directly onto the paper, because I cannot take the spatula and transfer the cookie to the sheet without it breaking apart!!)
Bake for about 10 mins. or until light golden brown.
Immediately take the parchment paper with the baked cookies on it and move it to a cool area to cool off. This way you can re-use the cookie sheet for more cookies.
Continue rolling and cutting shapes until you use up all the dough or your feet hurt from standing up for several hours.
If you see the cookie dough sticking to the rolling pin or getting too soft, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to re-chill.
After you have made all your cookies and are cool with them you can start to unroll your fondant onto the non stick surface (in my case the baking stone)
Use your rolling pin to flatten the fondant into a nice smooth as thin as you can make surface. Cut out shapes with your cookie cutters.
Get your cookie and lightly brush some light corn syrup on the surface. This will act as the glue for your fondant.
Set aside. Continue until you are done. Don't be bummed out if some of your cookies came out looking less than desirable, you can cover them with fondant :)
Now take your edible ink marker and draw whatever you like on them.
Show off  to your friends and family and pat yourself on the back for making "pretty" cookies.
You are now a real woman ;)

                                               Edible Markers

                                                 Orange Fondant

                                    This fondant is actually purple but it looks blue
The more you practice, the better you'll get. You can get the kids in on this and have them "help" by drawing on the cookies with the markers. Make sure to refrigerate the markers after you've used them and wipe them off with a paper towel.
I am especially proud of my ghosts!

In the next post I'll post about making cake pops!! A great idea that I got from the website :)


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