Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disney Pumpkin Carving

I'm not a big fan of Halloween, but I am a huge fan of fall. I love the smells, the colors, the atmosphere, the crispness in the air and the pumpkin patches. I love going to the pumpkin patch and enjoying the last bit of sunshine that we will probably have for a while. This year was no exception. 

This year, we went to Fordyce Farms in Salem, Oregon. They have a pony to ride, animals to check out, a hay maze & corn maze, a hay fort and all you have to pay for is your pumpkins and the corn maze! It's a great deal. We picked out our pumpkins, went through the corn maze, climbed a hay fort and then drove home and went to town carving the pumpkins. There were a few different pins on Pinterest for great pumpkin carving designs, but most of them you had to register for a site or the pin just took you to a website with pictures of lots of really cool pumpkins that just makes your pumpkin carving abilities feel less than adequate. But, I did find one site! To check it out, go here.

Photo from Pinterest
This site does make you register, if you actually want to see the whole image, but I was ok with the amount of image I had to make it work. I see no reason to register for a site that I may or may not use only once a year. I ended up making the lovely Cinderella image that you see above. 

My son had some fun creating his own artwork on my Cinderella template. Oh-so pretty. As you may be able to see, I did finish off the top of her hair by free-handing it. Thankfully, her hair wasn't too complicated. 

Here it is all completed. It'll look neater seeing it at night lit up, but I haven't gotten that far yet, so this is the picture I have. 

My husband and son made the alien from Toy Story and Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. Those templates were complete and easy to follow and I would recommend the site where my husband got those templates over the one listed above. It's through one of my favorite Disney addict websites that I like to visit: Chip & Co. The actual link to the pumpkin carving templates is here

And for your viewing pleasure, here are a few more shots from our trip to the pumpkin patch. 

And lastly, here is a photo from our maternity picture shoot that we did when we got home from the pumpkin patch. 

Happy Carving!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How To Clean Candle Jars

You know when you get a really pretty candle jar with a super awesome smelling candle inside that is just done. It can't be used anymore, the wick is burnt out and there is nothing left but the drags of candle wax. Oh, what a sad day that used to be for me. Have you ever wished you didn't have to throw out that pretty candle jar afterward? Or, maybe you were like me and you just hoped you'd figure out a way to get out the drags of wax left at the bottom of the jar and put it on a shelf to be forgotten for months and months until you eventually found it again and just gave up and threw it away. Thankfully, this may have only happened to me once or twice as my mom showed me how to clean out candle jars many years ago. Thank God for moms, right? But, recently, while doing my random look-see on Pinterest, I came across an article on how to clean out candle jars in a way I had not tried. I wondered if it was quicker or easier than my mom's way (which, by the way, was either to put boiling hot water in and let it set for a while and then use a butter knife to remove the now-pliable candle or put an ice cube in and wait for the candle wax to break a little more easily.)

The method I found on Pinterest was actually a combination of my mom's methods. You can check it out here.

Photo from Pinterest
To be honest, I didn't clean my jar out first. I didn't read that step. Skip step one? How could that happen? My pregnancy brain must've taken over...

My jars actually had far more candle left in them than I think most people's would, but I knew I wouldn't use them, so I wanted to just get rid of the wax.

Anyway, I boiled some water and filled my candle jars up.

After sitting for a few minutes, some of the wax began to rise, but really only in the pink candle.

Doesn't that look cool?? Then I added a few ice cubes. The link above didn't explain how long to let anything set before putting in the ice cubes, so I just waited about 5-10 minutes. I was afraid if I put the ice in too soon, the whole jar would crack due to the heat and cool at the same time. The 5-10 minute wait seemed to do the trick.

After the ice was put in, more of the candle wax floated to the top. In fact, so much of it did that it created a semi-seal of candle wax on the top of the jar and I had to re-break the wax in order to drain the water so I could remove the wax. It was kinda neat.

After it was drained, I used a butter knife and the wax that had been floating came out very easily. And it worked very well!

The white candle is the perfect example, though, for those who would want to do this with a jar that had very little wax left in it. As you can see, the wax floated to the top rather easily and it took no effort to remove it from the jar.

Looky there! Three nice, clean, new-looking candle jars! Ready for some kind of artsy-ness to be applied to them. So, what's the benefit of using this method rather than my mom's method? I believe it's a bit quicker. Mixing the two methods my mom gave me seemed to do the trick and get the jars cleaned out much faster than one method over the other. I like this tip. I'm gonna use it again.

EDITOR'S NOTE: So...I just learned a trick I liked way better than this Pinterest test method. A friend of mine mentioned sticking your candle jars in the freezer and the wax will just pop right out. So, I gave it a try. It was amazing!! I put my candle jar in the freezer right before going to bed for the night and when I took it out in the morning, there was no fuss/no muss. It was incredible! I'd say go this route if you aren't in a big hurry to get the wax out. It may work more quickly than it did for me - I'm really not sure how long it needed to be in the freezer. But, still...incredible!!


Monday, October 21, 2013

DIY Fall Wreath

I always see these beautiful wreaths on Pinterest and think "someday...someday I'll make one of those..." and then my inner dialogue goes off and says "yeah aren't that creative..." well, inner dialogue, thanks to step-by-step instructions on a certain blog I discovered on Pinterest, this time I am that creative.... kinda. Haha.

Photo from Pinterest

I saw this beautiful fall wreath on Facebook and had bought a stick-wreath a while back on super sale at a craft store and finally got up the gaul to use it. To see how to make this your ownself, check it out here

The most expensive part of this project was the wreath. Everything else costs very little, but the hot glue gun...that costs your fingers a bit. Or, maybe it's just me. Ouch! Those blisters did not feel good! 

I tried a few different techniques before I found exactly what I liked for cutting the felt flowers. I started by marking the felt with a sharpie and cutting the lines. This proved to be my least favorite method as the black shows up on the tips of that flower and I didn't like that as much. It probably isn't noticeable to anybody but me, but I didn't like it so I didn't do it that way again.

The next technique I used was taping the pattern to the felt and cutting it that way. This was probably my favorite method, but also the most time-consuming and difficult to get right. Most people probably wouldn't have a problem, but I am challenged when it comes to using any kind of cutting tools. Seriously. It's a bit embarrassing. 

The last method was to cut the felt out using my silhouette cameo. This worked wonderfully, although rather than it just being the felt, I had to iron on webbing so that it would cut nicely using the silhouette. But, it worked! Although this was the easiest method, it was not my preferred method because it left every flower too uniformed, without as much personality. Most people would probably see that as a good thing, but it wasn't my preference. 

In order to make the smaller flowers, I used the same pattern, I just cut off the end of it. I was surprised by how easy these were to make! Other than, like I said, the burnt fingers. Ouchy. Oh well, the sacrifices we make for beautiful projects, am I right?

After the flowers were done, I laced the berry/beads string through the wreath. This was a bit more challenging than I would've expected simply because I wanted it to look like it had only been woven in the front. Nobody was gonna be seeing the back of the wreath, so I'd rather not have much of the pretties back there. Once the berry/beads were strung, I got out my hot glue gun and glued the flowers into place. Note: I'd recommend placing them first so you can see what they look like and you can adjust them accordingly. Once they are glued in place, it's a whole lot harder to move them. 

I had a few friends ask me to make this for them, so I got more practice and had a blast doing it! I tried a darker red on one, but wasn't as crazy about it. It looked ok, but meh...not preferred. I had a good time making these and was happy to do it - though I felt like I was robbing my friends of the joy (and blisters) of making this themselves. Hopefully they won't resent me too much after they've seen it here on my blog. 

It took me about a week to actually get my wreath hung on my door, but I am liking the way it turned out and feel very proud to see my hard work hanging on my door.

Photo from my friend Charity - this is the one I made for her.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How To Remove Set-In Stains

As I've been getting ready for baby's arrival, I've been pulling out a lot of my son's old clothing and toys and washing things in order for his soon-to-arrive little sister to use. Much to my dismay, many pieces of clothing had yellow set-in stains in them. I'm not sure how they got there - I washed everything before I put it all away and don't recall seeing it then, though it was a year or so ago. Either way, I went on a mission: to find a way to make those set-in stains go away. I started out by using Biz laundry detergent and followed the directions I found from a Pinterest link. To see the instructions, check it out here.

Here is what the shirt looked like before any treatment.

Honestly, I tried to take the easy way out and just scrubbed some Biz on the shirt and then put it in the wash, but it didn't take care of the problem, unfortunately. After a washing, it may have taken out a slight bit of the stain, but not enough to cut it by any means.

So, I went ahead with the directions suggested in the blog: I boiled some hot water and had the shirt in the sink for the entire day. Ehow recommends having the garment soak overnight, but since I did this in the morning, I jeopardized my sink throughout the day. So, I'd suggest soaking it overnight as well. The shirt soaked all day and then I washed and dried it.

Unfortunately, although the stain was mostly gone, it was still there and I really didn't want it there at all.

So, back to the Pinterest board I went. Next up, I tried something suggested in this blog. A little hydrogen peroxide, a little dawn dish soap and baking soda...I was intrigued. Hopefully this one would do the trick. I mixed up the ingredients, laid it on the stain and then scrubbed it up. As suggested in the blog, I let it set for an hour and into the wash it went.

 Fingers crossed...breath held...hoping that the stain would be removed and....

Eureka!!! It worked!!! So, to recap - try the hydrogen peroxide/dawn/baking soda mix. (PS - my mom informed me this is basically diluted bleach, so be sure to only use it on light colored clothing.) That seems to have done the trick. Biz laundry stain remover certainly made a difference, but it did not remove the stain like the other formula.

So, this is a combo tried and true and tried and semi-lied. Biz is a great stain remover, but may be better for stains that aren't so set in. Yay for salvaging old, stained baby clothing!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

It was a dark and stormy...afternoon. My husband was at the Oregon State University football game (go Beavs!) and my son and I were hanging out at home staying warm and dry. But, the day was missing something: warm, homemade, comfort food - Loaded Baked Potato Soup.
Photo from
My goal was to make a crockpot recipe, but as I looked into recipes, this one seemed to jump out at me and it looked heavenly. So, I went with it. 

I did not find this recipe on Pinterest - I wanted something that was a little more convincingly tried and true. I would've pinned it on Pinterest if I was talented enough to figure out how to pin stuff that I find on the web, but, unless there is a widget allowing me to pin it - I have no idea how. So, instead, I'm just gonna post about this non-Pinterest test. Which, by the way, was an absolute success. 

This recipe took a little bit of work to make, although mainly it was just a lot of dirty dishes and not too time consuming. My mom, my husband and I all thoroughly enjoyed this. For the three of us, we probably could've halved the recipe and still had far too much. This was fantastic as leftovers as well, by the way. Oh my, it was good. 

My picture doesn't look near as tasty as I didn't add "garnish" like the picture shows; I just mixed it all together and away we went. It wasn't as pretty, but it was just as tasty, I think. 

Next time there is a cold, blustery evening, I'd suggest making yourself some of this rich, hearty, tasty soup. It's a hit!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No More Monkeys Falling Off The Bed

As we transition from one child to two, we've been slowly preparing our son for this transition. One of the ways we are doing this is by "upgrading" our son to a "big boy bed." The only dilemma? There are no stores locally that sell bed railings! Well, I later found that is not actually true - they sell them at a bunch of the second hand stores, but I didn't think to look at any of those. And, being the impatient person that I am, I didn't wait for him to sleep in his big boy bed until after we'd ordered a railing - we improvised - of course, thanks to something I'd found on Pinterest. The link on Pinterest, just takes you to a picture - so I'll just post the picture here and you can just check out my blog instead.

Photo from Pinterest
The pool noodle I had purchased at the dollar tree was smaller around than the one in the picture above, but it still seemed to work fairly well - after we made some adjustments. We put a plastic mattress cover on the twin size mattress we used for my son, and we discovered quickly that the noodle was very slick on the mattress. It did very little to protect my poor guy from discovering the ground in the middle of the night.

But, thanks to my mom's genius idea, we found a solution! Rather than having the pool noodle directly on the slippery plastic mattress cover, we laid down shelf liner on top of the mattress cover and below the pool noodle.

And it worked!! I laid the liner the length of the noodle, although I'm fairly certain you wouldn't need to use that much.

It now stays in place and doesn't move almost at all. I think a slightly bigger pool noodle may be a slightly more effective as my son moves a whole lot, but the only time he's actually gone over the noodle was when he was already halfway over it when he fell asleep. I'd say this is definitely a good way to be thrifty, keep your kiddo safe and not spend a bunch of money that would make changing the sheets and remaking the bed a bit more challenging. I like this idea, a lot. And, it appears that my son does as well.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chicken Breast Crock Pot Fajitas

I got chicken out of the freezer the other night...anticipating that I would want to make something with it the next day. What I was gonna make had yet to be determined, but I knew chicken was going to be a part of it. And probably some tortillas. Mmmm...Mexican food. Yep, that's what I decided on. I generally make chicken fajitas on the stovetop, but I was intrigued by the fix-it-and-forget-it ease of the slow cooker recipe I found - so I gave it a try. To check out the recipe, go here.

Photo from Pinterest
This recipe was very easy to follow. I've actually made this dish twice now, leaving out the cumin the first time (I didn't have any on hand) and I think I may prefer it that way. Either way, the prep time was about the same as it would be if you were making this on the stovetop (due to having to cut the veggies) - other than you don't have to cook the chicken first. Yay! One less step!

Sorry for the blurry pic - I was in a hurry.... to eat! hehehe.
As you can see, I used less chicken than the recipe called for, since it was just for me and my husband and my son and we still ended up with leftovers.  I also didn't use the normal green, red and yellow peppers that are customary for fajitas. In our produce box we ended up with some different peppers that had a bit of a kick. Cooking them in the crock pot was just the ticket as it seemed to taper down the heat of the peppers. The second time I made this, I did use normal peppers and it was still quite tasty.

After the meat was shredded, I dished up our tortillas with the veggie/chicken goodness and we all thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. I would highly recommend this recipe. I don't have a picture of it all plated...I guess I got too hungry to take the time for the pic. *Sigh* story of my blog, recently. hehe.

Either way, this was tasty, easy and how nice to not have to prepare much at dinner time! I'd call that winning! .... I can't believe I just wrote that....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mess-Free Finger Painting

This, I must confess, was not something that was done recently. In fact, it was probably done close to a year ago. But, I still found it to be fun and entertaining for my, then, 1.5-year-old son, so I thought others might appreciate it as well. In fact, I may try it again with my now 2.5-year-old son. I bet he'd enjoy it even more! To check out more about this project, look at this blog. Also, I just checked out this blog again to re-read it, since it's been so long since we did project and, funny story, she actually links back to another blog that she found on Pinterest that gave her this idea. Yeah...we are all just a bunch of swipers - stealing one good idea after another. Well, I am, anyway.

Photo from Pinterest

Anyway, I put four different colors into one ziplock bag and let my son run his fingers all over it. Not that it appears that he's doing more than looking at it in this picture - still...he did start getting into it at some point. Seriously. He did.

After he played with it for about 10 minutes, he became bored. Not bad for a less-than-2-year-old. 

I decided to try my own little twist and give it some texture; creating more sensory fun for him. I added rice to the bag. That was fun for less than the 10 minutes he'd previously had. I think he was just done. Either way, it was still worth a shot. Maybe something not so pointy should be tried next time. It didn't pop the ziplock bag, but it did get close and I'd rather not take the risk. I really like Thehippiehouse's idea of just bringing the bag back out once in a while - it's not like the paint will go bad! Also, using one or two colors would probably be a better idea as well. Aw well, live and learn. At least Cade enjoyed it for a bit of time. 

P.S. - please don't mind the boy in the diaper...I can rarely keep clothes on him...