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Rachel

The Chalk Paint Challenge–painting an entertainment center

Some of you Pinterest fans may know that pictures of chalk paint furniture redos are hardly new to the blogosphere.  I’m late on the scene in the chalk paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint) craze.  I read the reviews on the internet, saw other people’s shocking before and after pictures, but painting glossy wood furniture, laminate, metal, glass, and any other number of stubborn surfaces without sanding or priming first?  I was a skeptic, but intrigued, and had to see it for myself.  I decided I was going to try the stuff out, all I needed was a good piece of furniture to try it on.

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Then, I stumbled upon this large oak entertainment center  at a local second-hand store.  It was exactly what I had in mind for hiding my wireless printer and unsightly office supplies in the computer area of our house.  The only problem?  The cabinet itself was a bit unsightly.  I’m not typically one to resist a good furniture redo challenge, and this was no exception, especially at the bargain price of $50.  This piece of solid wood furniture had the form and function I was looking for; all it needed was a couple coats of paint to bring it into the 21st century.  With a little help from A.T. and the boys (okay, a lot of help, this was a seriously heavy piece of furniture), I brought it home to face the Chalk Paint Challenge.

Before and after cabinet painted with chalk paint

I was not disappointed with the results.  The sweat equity I put into this project was minimal compared to the traditional process of painting furniture.  I could write a lengthy review and description of chalk painting how-to, but there are so many of them out there, I think it would be redundant.  With a good google, or Pinterest, search, you’ll find plenty of tutorials.  I’ll hit a couple of the highlights for you:

  1. I bought my Annie Sloan chalk paint online from Perfectly Imperfect.   I purchased one quart in the “Old White” and 4 oz of “Louis Blue,” then mixed them together 10 parts of white to 1 part of blue to get this very subtle light blue. 
  2. Did I mention no sanding or priming?  I just painted this stuff right onto that luscious glossy wood.  Brush strokes are minimal, so it’s very, very hard to mess this up.
  3. I didn’t remove doors or hardware.  Really, I just kind of attacked this thing with a brush and the paint, it didn’t know what hit it.
  4. I did scuff up the paint with a sanding sponge after I was done, to give it a worn look.  But, you don’t have to.
  5. I did this whole project completely indoors, with doors and windows closed because it was raining outside when I painted it.  There were no paint fumes, not even a hint of the smell of paint was in the room.  I was the most skeptical of the claim that chalk paint was low odor, but really, it’s true.  Of course, it can’t hurt to open a few doors and windows if you can.  But, if you start feeling a little light-headed while you’re painting with this stuff, blame the wine.
  6. The paint isn’t cheap.  Since I got the piece at such a good price, the paint wasn’t cost-prohibitive in this scenario, but may be for some.  After the cost of the paint, and including the cost of the cabinet, the total cost of the finished cabinet to me was $125, a very reasonable sum of money for such a large, and functional, piece of furniture.
  7. I did do one layer of Annie Sloan clear wax at the very end (after the sanding sponge step) to give it the durability I knew it would need with the kids going in and out of this cabinet a lot too.  I gave it my traditional fingernail test when I was finished by scraping it with my fingernail to see if if left any scratches.  I’m happy to say, with one coat of wax, it passed the fingernail test!

In addition, I hit up a local antique market I knew of that had bins of antique cabinet pulls.  With a little help from boy #2, and a few frustrating minutes digging through a lot of dusty hardware, we found these antique brass pulls to finish the look:

Here are some pictures of the inside of our reinvented printer cabinet, now storing our printer as well as office and  art supplies.  On the inside of the cabinet doors, we painted one side with black chalk board paint and on the other side, we attached cork squares for organizing loose pieces of paper.  Ultimately, I’d like to add another shelf above the printer, but for now, this works fine.

 There is something very gratifying about closing a door on a bunch of clutter.

If you have any specific questions about chalk paint, I’m happy to tell you what I know, which is very little.  I assure you I’m not getting any kick backs from Annie Sloan on this, I’m just sharing my humble opinion.  Shopping thrift stores for furniture opens up a world of possibilities when you consider what a little paint will do.  I have a lot of chalk paint challenges in tap for the future, I’ll be sure to share more before and after pictures when I do.  In the meantime, the picture below offers a sneak peek.  See the corner of that desk on the left?  I have big plans in store for that, so stay tuned…




Rachel

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins

I found a recipe for Chocolate Chip Strawberry Bread on Pinterest and was immediately intrigued.  I liked the idea of combining chocolate and strawberries, and banana bread had grown a little tiresome for me lately, so this seemed like a fun, new twist.  I adapted the recipe to be slightly healthier by substituting coconut oil for the vegetable oil and raw honey for the sugar.  I prefer to make muffins rather than bread as they cook faster, stay moister, and are easier and less messy to serve to kids than slices of bread.

I will not claim that these muffins are low fat, but if you wanted a lower fat version, I would substitute apple sauce for the coconut oil–I’ve had great results with that with my banana bread, just have found that it’s not as moist.  But, if you’re looking for an indulgent treat that has healthy fatty acids and is naturally sweet, this recipe with the coconut oil (can be found at Walmart with the vegetable shortening and cooking oils) and raw honey is for you.

If you take out the chocolate chips and strawberries, this could be a great base recipe for any kind of muffins.  You could make your own variation by substituting bananas, blueberries, nuts, raisins, apples, oatmeal and any other number of things–just have fun with it.

**A fun little tip that I’ve discovered for pouring batter into muffin tins without the mess is to spray a 1/4 cup measuring cup with nonstick spray and then use it to scoop the batter and pour into the muffin tins.  1/4 cup is just about the perfect amount for each muffin and with the nonstick spray, the batter just slides right out of the measuring cup.**

Here is my recipe, adapted from the original at Dash of East.  I’ve also included a printable version below for my oilcloth mini binders.  Enjoy! 

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins

(Adapted from dashofeast.com Chocolate Chip Strawberry Bread)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cup half whole wheat/half white flour
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
  • 1⁄2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1⁄2 cup raw honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1⁄2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1cup strawberries, diced

Baking:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl beat eggs, then add oil, honey and strawberries and mix well. Add wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into muffin tins filling each approximately 2/3 full. Bakes for 15-18 min. till brown on top and a knife inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Muffins




Rachel

Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese

Photo courtesy of macaroniandcheesecake.com

Good ole fashioned boxed mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but in recent years I discovered that the made-from-scratch version is not only tastier, but dare I say, easier, to make than the boxed.  Okay, maybe not easier, but its definitely not harder, I promise.  With just three ingredients–milk, shredded cheese and noodles–you’ve got a wholesome, hearty meal in minutes flat.  Just keep a bag of shredded cheddar cheese in the fridge and plenty of dry noodles in the cabinet (I use whatever I have on hand, penne, elbow noodles, pasta shells or sometimes egg noodles), and a batch of hot, homemade, creamy mac and cheese is always just fifteen minutes away.  Of course we still keep a few boxes of the instant stuff around for emergency situations, but the “real cheese” version, as we call it in our family, is always a crowd-pleaser.

But, with the help of this pinteresting find, homemade mac and cheese just got even easier.  The secret twist?  Boil the noodles in the milk!  No need to strain the noodles.  The milk makes a nice warm, creamy base so that the shredded cheese instantly melts when added to the noodles.  We  just whipped up a batch of it for dinner and were not disappointed.  The added surprise of a little dijon mustard in this recipe is the icing on top.  I even made it with whole grain noodles and my kids didn’t even notice.

Below is the recipe, but be sure to head over the Macaroni and Cheesecake for the original post.  I’ve adapted it a little according to my experience with it.  I found that it didn’t take a full twenty minutes for the noodles to cook, and I didn’t let it sit for five minutes before serving–whoever suggested that didn’t have five “starving” boys breathing down their necks ready to eat! (:  Also, I borrowed their photography (been feeling a little lazy lately about pulling out my camera), so all credit for the beautiful picture above goes to my original source.  Enjoy!

Revolutionary Mac & Cheese
Adapted from: Macaroni and Cheesecake

Ingredients:
2 cups dried pasta
2 cups milk
1 cup loosely packed shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:

In a small saucepan, add pasta and milk.  Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook until the pasta is tender, stirring frequently and ensuring milk does not boil.

Turn heat off, add cheese, salt and mustard and stir to combine.

Printable Version for your oilcloth mini binder below:



Rachel

Cup ‘o the day coasters

This was not originally my idea.  It was “pinspired” by a pin I saw a while back, where somebody let their kids decorate their own tile, which they then turned into coasters.  They kept the coasters on the counter and each family member had to keep their cup of the day stored on their coaster.  The idea is that it helps to keep track of everyone’s cup, and reduces the amount of cups that are brought out everyday.  I know in our house, it seems like there are at least fifteen cups littering our kitchen by the end of every day–it’s a constant frustration for A.T. and me.

Enter the photo coasters that Laura gave me for my birthday.  (Check out her post on how to make your own.)  I lined them each up on our kitchen counter, and now the boys will have to keep their “cup ‘o the day” on their coaster.  We will see how it works, but I thought I’d pass along the idea in the meantime.  Laura had some other great ideas for these coasters on her post, check them out!




Rachel

Easy Peasy Homemade Ice Cream

It’s been fairly quiet around Tidy Tangle lately.  Since my last post on making skirts from old t-shirts using a sewing method called shirring, I’ve contracted shirring fever.  Yes, I’m in my sewing room these days shirring up anything I can get my hands on.  I love to shirr!

But, it seems cruel to wait till I recover from shirring fever to share with you this fun, pinteresting find–homemade ice cream that doesn’t require rock salt, an ice cream maker, or hand churning.  Yes, it’s true!  And, it works!  I was as skeptical about this recipe as I was about converting a t-shirt to a skirt, but the boys and I tried it and loved it!

With only two basic ingredients, whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk, and whatever add-ins you want, you can now have your homemade ice cream and eat it too.  I didn’t get any pictures of our first batch of ice cream, even if I tried, I couldn’t take pictures as beautiful as the ones at Kevin and Amanda’s website.  So, I borrowed their pictures to get your taste buds revved up and ready to try this recipe yourself.

Here’s the recipe (I renamed it, btw, this name seems more fitting!):

Easy Peasy Homemade Ice Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • whatever add-ins you want (we did 1 cup of crushed mint oreo cookies)
Whip the whipping cream on high until stiff peeks form.  In a separate bowl, mix the condensed milk with your add-ins.  Fold the whipping cream into the condensed milk mixture and stir till combined.  Then, put in the freezer for at least six hours and it’s ready to serve!

We used a container just like this one, it was the perfect size

This is one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make, I promise, at least try it once!  And, include your kids on the process, they’ll love it.  My boys are already thinking of different flavors they want to try next.  The hardest part is waiting the six hours for it to freeze.  I caught my boys peeking in the freezer many times, checking on it’s progress.  I had to convince them the more they opened the freezer, the longer it would take to freeze–that seemed to work.

For many different flavor ideas, visit Kevin and Amanda’s post.  Some of the suggestions they offer are Cinnamon Bun, Nutella, Krispy Kreme Doughnut, and Hazelnut Mocha Fudge Swirl!  And, their recipes are all printable–woo hoo!  I will say, they are highly promoting the Eagle Brand condensed milk on their site, but we used generic brand with no difference in results.  So, feel free to use whatever brand you want, I conclude.

Be sure to let us know if you make some, and share your flavor varieties with us!




Rachel

Salsa and Shirt Skirts

Boys #4 and 5 and I just finished reproducing the Easy Blender Salsa recipe to make a gallon of salsa–yes, you heard me right, a gallon.  Making the small batches that this recipe is for only lasted one day, so when I saw this 6 1/2 gallon can of diced tomatoes and Sam’s, and realized that it was half the price per ounce as the normal 14 1/2 oz can, I decided we were going to go all out this time and make enough salsa to last a week (or two??).  And, adjusting the recipe to be larger made a great math lesson for the boys!

Last night, with the help of this tutorial that I found on Pinterest (where else?), I turned this $2 goodwill t-shirt:

Into this skirt:

What??

I know, that’s what I thought at first.  This was “sew” easy (pun intended) and so fun!  In fact, I had never shirred before last night, but I made three of these skirts before I went to bed–it was that simple!

Check out her tutorial, raid your husband’s closet for the t-shirts he hasn’t worn since college, and get started on one of your own!




Laura

Mother’s Day Gift – Photo Coasters


IMG_0294
Side view of the coaster

IMG_0295
Felt pads on bottom

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Set of five coasters

I gave my sister and mother these fabulous photo coasters for their birthdays last month and my sister jokingly said “you should write a guest post on Tidy Tangle about how to make them”.   So here I am “guest” posting. I might add that I have been studying my little heart out and working hard with my web development business and spending one more minute at the computer to blog is less than appealing so I apologize for my silence, but it’s been a necessary evil to keep my sanity. Part of the battle of learning to juggle it all is dropping a ball from time to time so you don’t drop all of them and run for shelter!  But thanks to my sister for keeping the dream alive and providing some wonderful posts! (more…)




Rachel

Easy Blender Salsa

I received the Ninja Kitchen System 1200 for my birthday.  The boys and I pulled it out of the box today and for it’s first test run we whipped up a batch of this salsa recipe I found on Pinterest.  If you’ve been around this blog long, you know that my family doesn’t just eat salsa, we inhale it.  It just so happened that A.T. came home for lunch today, so this one batch was gone in less time than it took to make it.  We didn’t have the ambition to do our salsa garden this year, so I was excited to find this recipe calling for canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

Going from my $15 12-year-old Oster blender to the Ninja 1200 was quite the contrast.  The boys and I all crowded around as I pressed the start button for the first time, and when we heard that purring sound as its blades cut through onions, diced tomatoes and garlic like a hot knife through butter, an applause broke out.  Perhaps the boys are mostly just excited to know that they won’t have to listen to their mom cursing the blender under her breath as she beats it against the counter and splatters food all over the cabinets anymore.  Or maybe they’re excited that they won’t find shards of wood and plastic accidentally incorporated in their smoothies when she tried to shove all the frozen fruit down into the blade with wooden spoons and plastic spatulas.  Mostly, they’re probably just happy to see their mom happy–they’re sweet boys like that.

The flagship salsa batch was such a hit that my 10-year-old actually thanked God for the opportunity to make it while blessing the food at dinner tonight.  Then, when A.T. went around the table at dinner asking everybody’s high-low for the day, several people mentioned the homemade salsa as their high.  Did I mention we like salsa in our family?  We definitely like this salsa.

Other things I whipped up in the Ninja 1200 today?  Two batches of salad dressing, one batch of chocolate-banana smoothie, one batch of fudge popsicles, and another batch of salsa for lunch tomorrow.  Hopefully those other recipes will come in another post.  I still haven’t done a frozen fruit smoothie in the Ninja 1200, so I can’t attest to its smoothie skills yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

For today, I’m including the salsa recipe, courtesy of Mountain Mama Cooks (pretty fitting name, since I’m a mountain mama myself) and adding a printable recipe for my mini binders.  FYI: I omitted the Rotel, used a teaspoon of jarred garlic instead of fresh, substituted basil and parsley from my herb pot for the cilantro, use hot chili sauce in place of a jalapeno, used curry powder instead of cumin, and used the juice of a lemon instead of a lime.  So, in other words, I used this recipe more as a guideline, but it was just because I didn’t have all these ingredients in my kitchen.  But, now you know just how flexible this salsa can be and still taste good!  Enjoy!

Easy Blender Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 10 oz can orginal Rotel
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded or not (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
  • juice of 1 lime

Directions:

Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor or good blender and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with chips or over tacos.

easy blender salsa printable

Check out this link for my printable recipe dividers that will work in any half sheet binders, including my mini binders.




Rachel

Homemade All-Purpose Mix Recipe

A pantry full of homemade mixes

Just to clarify any possible misunderstandings, the picture above is not my pantry.  I stumbled across another Pinteresting find recently–a list of homemade mixes you can keep on hand for baking and cooking.  I try to keep a homemade pancake mix and waffle mix always on hand, and have always aspired to keeping more mixes in the cabinets, but hadn’t gotten that far yet.  This list of many mixes is nearly complete, and a great resource.  It includes: biscuit mix, cornbread mix, maple brown sugar oatmeal mix (a personal favorite for me, we love instant oatmeal around here, but don’t love the cost or the long list of ingredients that we can’t pronounce), pancake mix, tortilla mix, brownie mix and more.

As I take the baby steps towards cutting processed foods out of our house, this is a logical next step.  When you make a mix yourself, it gives you complete control over what you’re eating, saves money, and you can usually pronounce every ingredient in it–that’s always a good thing.  Besides all that, since I’m not a morning person (that’s an understatement), having pancake mix available means my boys can just grab it out of the cabinet and make up their own pancakes in a jiffy in the mornings.  (Yes, my older boys make their own pancakes–unless it’s a Saturday morning and A.T. is in town, it’s survival of the fittest around here before 8 o’clock in the morning and my boys have learned to adapt.)

A quick word about vegetable shortening, which this mix calls for: if you, like me, have your doubts about the health benefits of shortening, consider using coconut oil (a solid form, like shortening, at room temperature) or lard.  Yes, you heard me right, there are some who say that lard is actually better for you than shortening and butter (check out this article).  And, you an find it on the grocery store isles in large tubs, though still not in it’s purest form…

I made a printable recipe card for the quick all-purpose mix, along with recipes that she includes that use the quick mix.  (I am excited to try the self-crusting quiche.)  I hope to add more printables of her other mix recipes in the coming days.

Enjoy the printable version, add it your your mini recipe book, I’m about to!  If you enjoy it, make sure to stop by her site and let her know–it’s always nice to know you’re appreciated!

quick mix recipes

 




Rachel

Slow Cooker Applesauce

I have so many Pinteresting finds to share lately, I don’t know where to start!

So, today’s pinteresting find is crock pot applesauce–or, I guess technically it should be “slow cooker applesauce,” because not all of us are using name brand Crock Pots.  All credit goes to All Things Mama for this recipe.  The only thing I did differently than her was to pull out my submersion blender (best $20 I spent at Walmart EVER) and blend it till their were no chunks–though I like a good, chunky applesauce, I was afraid my boys wouldn’t.  Maybe I’ll get more brave in the future and leave a few chunks here and there.

apples in the slow cooker

The boys devoured it when I made it for dinner last week.  I managed to salvage enough of it for A.T. and I to have a couple spoonfuls, but that’s par for the course around here–A.T. and I scrape plates to get our share of the food.  Yes, I added the sugar, but in the future I may slowly wean us off the sugar and see if my boys still like it.

I’ve included a printable recipe below, as usual, made to fit in my oilcloth mini binders.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you print out any of my printable recipes, we love to hear from you!

slow cooker apple sauce




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