Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Art Gallery Wall

Art Gallery Walls

When we moved our big bookshelf upstairs, we lost our picture wall, one of my favorite walls in our house.  So we had to recreate one in another place...

which inspired us to get around to putting up the picture wall we have had planned for so long in our den.  I had been stalking pinterest for a while, wanting to hang pictures around our tv, with the tv becoming like a piece of art in the center.  Here are a few of my inspiration pictures.

So, we got to work making our own wall, our own way.  From the above pics, we knew we wanted lots of color and a variety of pictures.  We wanted some photographs and some art, and we wanted the arrangement to be random, but also have straight lines and order.  We put the frames on the floor of our music room, and played around with the arrangement until it was just right.  We took a picture of the layout to use when hanging the pictures on the wall.

Then, Justin had a great idea!  We don't have a big enough space in our den to lay all the pictures, so he used airplay to broadcast the picture onto our tv.  And we got to work...

Actually he got to work.  Thank goodness Justin paid attention in Geometry...

Here's a sweet little glimpse into why it's important to print and frame pictures.  Camden is pointing out all the people he loves in this photograph.  Priceless.

This cute this turtle is one of Justin's favorites.  He took it on Kaiwah Island.

Almost done.  That's a look of determination for ya'!

And, the finished product...

I'd say we did pretty well sticking to our original layout.

  We're still trying to decide whether to put something on top of the furniture under the tv.  A vase?  A stack of books?  Thoughts???

Here's a breakdown of the pictures we chose...

The jury's still out on whether we should have printed the black and whites in color.  They used to be over our mantle and we liked the black and white.  Now that they are hanging around the tv and mixed in with the boys' colorful art, maybe they should be in color too?  

What do you think?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Meal Planning

Monday Meal Planning

This summer has been like a free for all in my kitchen!  It's time to get back to planning and shopping.  So here's what's cookin' this week.

Macaroni Monday

Italian Wedding Soup
I am so glad Carson had the idea to do soup a few weeks ago.  Soup is not a dish typically on my summer menu, but this one is so light and full of veggies that it is perfect for a hot June night.

Taco Tuesday

Chicken Enchiladas

Easy peasy.  I've had a packet of enchilada sauce in my pantry that has been asking to be made into this simple and yummy dish.  I mean, when this is all you need, why wouldn't you plan this for a busy weeknight?  (Cheese is not pictured, for some reason.)


This dish surprised me!  It might have been the first meal in the history of our marriage to which my husband did not add hot sauce.  And my boys loved it, too!  Jonah had four helpings of chicken.  Winner!


Leftovers!!!  One of the great things about these three meals is that there is always a little leftover for lunches and for dinners.  I love when there are several nights of leftovers so my kids can choose what they'd like.  It's almost like going out to eat!  Almost.  

What are you having this week?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meatball Mania

Last week, Carson decided he wanted to make dinner for us.  He loves cooking with me.  But he doesn't like following a recipe.  He wants to just throw a bunch of ingredients in a pot and hope it works out.  He definitely didn't inherit that from me.  I finally talked him into going to allrecipes.com and entering the ingredients he wanted so he could get an idea of what he wanted to make.  He was set on making soup.  And when he entered carrots, onion, pasta, and broth, allrecipes pulled up Mama's Italian Wedding Soup.  With our modifications, it only required five ingredients.  And I could get all of them at my favorite grocery store. My kind of recipe.

So here's what you need...

Trader Joe's Meatballs (see picture above), cut into fourths--heat a bit to cut more easily
three containers of TJ's low sodium chicken broth (you will only use 2 1/2 of them)
bag of baby spinach (2 cups, sliced thin)
TJ's vegetable radiatore (I used about half the bag--pasta is one thing Camden will always eat)
TJ's Mirepoix

In a large stockpot heat chicken broth to boiling; stir in the spinach, pasta, mirepoix and meatballs (2 per person). Return to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente, and meatballs are heated through. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

So easy!  And Carson could do everything by himself.  

It was good to the last drop...

We love meatballs around here.  I make them from scratch sometimes.  We had a lot of fun with our Meatball Taste Test.  

But I've found that the frozen ones from TJ's are so easy to keep on hand and heat at a moment's notice.  

We've used them in grill packets...

And last week we came home from dinner out with friends to find Justin chowing down on a meatball sandwich he put together.  I was so proud of his resourcefulness.  We had meatballs left over from our camping trip, so he used those to make a meatball sub.  Italian hoagie roll, meatballs, marinara sauce (left over from spaghetti and meatballs the night before) all covered in provolone cheese and heated through so the cheese was nice and melted.  It looked so good I wanted to eat one even though I was stuffed from our dinner out.  

I'm sure I can come up with even more ways to use TJ's meatballs.  Do you eat them at your house?  Do you have any recipes to share?
Happy {Meatball} Monday!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Carson's New Desk

I have been looking for a desk for Carson's room for a long time.  I knew I would know it when I saw the one.  And I felt like it was a sign when we were going to be early to Jonah's baseball game (never happens) and I spotted a desk in front of a consignment shop that was PERFECT.  It just needed a little love and it would be just right for Carson.  So I pulled into the parking lot and claimed this desk.

Carson is our little artist.  He can draw just about anything.  He was so proud to be a runner up in the yearbook cover design contest and to have his artwork framed and displayed in the superintendent's office this year.  He sees himself as an artist, and his many masterpieces line the walls of our home.

So, he needed the perfect place to construct his masterpieces.  And I knew this desk could be it!  With just the right paint and polish.

I turned to one of my favorite bloggers, Liz at Naptime Decorator.  She does amazing things with furniture, and on a budget to boot.  I am always so totally impressed by her befores and afters.  She redid a dresser for one of her kids, and I was so inspired by that post, I knew I wanted to make it happen for this piece.  I facebook messaged her and asked what I should do with the desk I bought, to make it my own (or Carson's own) :).

She recommended I paint the desk one color and the back of the shelves another color, or use wallpaper on the back of the shelves.  The wallpaper sounded fun, but because I have never applied wallpaper, I decided to go with the paint.  Liz also has a neat trick where she mixes Plaster of Paris into her paint, giving it kind of a chalky look and feel.  She follows it with Minwax finishing paste.  I knew I wanted a matte finish, so I thought this would be the perfect recipe.

I went to Lowe's and purchased navy paint in a matte finish.  I also bought some Plaster of Paris.  The man who helped me with my paint had actually heard of the trick to mix in Plaster of Paris, so he gave me a formula.  Mix two tablespoons of Plaster of Paris into 1/4 cup of hot tap water.  Pour the mixture into one cup of paint.  Stir well.

Now I was ready.  First, I sanded the desk really well, and Justin helped me repair part of it.  I taped the outline of the inside so I could paint it white.

I was a little worried when I saw how the paint went on. 
 I knew it would take a couple of coats of paint.

I ended up putting on three coats of the navy and two of the white.  I used a little tub of white chalk paint for the back of the shelves.  And I loved the result!!!

Now for the inside...

I just couldn't imagine painting all those cubbies!!!  But, since I had already painted the back of the shelves white, I had to do it.  It was painful, but the end result was SO worth it.  Once the paint had cured for a few days, I waxed the piece with Minwax natural finishing polish (this is another of Liz's ideas--I had to message her in the middle of Lowe's to make sure I was buying the right stuff!)  I found a drawer pull that was perfect for the folding down part, and it was finished!

Ready to see it???


All set to fill with his art supplies...

The shelves are perfect for holding Carson's art and writing books.  And the cubbies neatly contain his markers, pencils, notepads, and other drawing accessories.

 I am so excited about Carson's desk.  I thought I might have been more excited than he was, until I spotted this.  See his head, bent over in concentration?

Remember when I was afraid of a little paint job?  Well, one project at a time, I am gaining confidence in myself.  There are parts of Carson's desk that are not perfect, but at the end of the day, the desk is doing just what I intended it to do.  Providing a space for my little guy to create away.  And create he does.

One more look at the before and after...

Now Jonah's asking for his own desk.  So, I'm on the lookout once again!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Last Day of School Tradition

Yep, this is goin' down for real tomorrow...

Leah and I are gearing up for the take down.  We'll be armed with these...

And the kids will be armed with their water guns.

This has become a last day of school tradition. 
I'm not sure who has more fun...

me and Leah...

or our crazy children.

The tradition was born in 2013.

It continued in 2014.

Read the full post about our tradition here.
Happy Last Day of School!!!