Friday, April 5, 2013

DIY Drop Cloth Rug

So I had a dilemma.

I wanted a rug or mat or something for my living room floor. I really love rugs and the color and character they give to a room. The right rug really pulls everything you have together and makes it cohesive. 

However (here comes the dilemma part), there was virtually no money to put toward this. Have you seen how expensive rugs are?! You are talking big, big bucks. I had been searching all over Pinterest and DIY blogs trying to find a way to make a rug or hack something to get what I wanted. A lot of bloggers were buying rugs from Walmart or IKEA (which I don't have) and then painting them. Even still, the rugs they were buying to even start the project were $50+ and I didn't even have that much. Plus, if my project were a complete bust (which has been known to happen with some Pinterest projects I've done) it would have been a big money suck... and I would have cried and hated myself for days.

Rugby Cotton Mat
Via Pottery Barn Kids

I pretty much wanted the impossible... something to look like the above $500 PB rug without the price tag and more for like.... $20. Impossible, right?

Then I found this tutorial and inspiration struck. Ten dollar drop cloth canvas plus some paint, fabric medium and tape. Could I really, possibly, maybe replicate my PB rug? Yes! I can and I did. And so can you! Here's the lowdown:

You will need:

1 6' x 9' drop cloth canvas from Lowe's or Home Depot
3 sample bottles (or <1 quart) of your choice of paint color
painters tape (I used Scotch blue painters tape)
fabric medium

1. I washed and dried my canvas (this was hard because I wanted to start immediately, but I knew it would shrink a little and I didn't want to paint it and then have it shrink).

2. I measured my canvas (which had shrunk quite a bit... 7 inches!) and found that it was about 101" in length. I figured that I wanted my stripes to be 5" wide, and left 1" for error :-) I measured every 5" and left a little tick mark with a pencil so I would know where to tape.

3. So I taped my stripes (which probably took about 100x longer with two little girls running around...) and then waited until nap time to paint :-)

4. PAINT! I used more paint that I though I would and actually had to go back to Lowe's to pick up another sample bottle. The canvas soaks it up! I mixed the paint with fabric medium just because I thought it would be better knowing I would definitely be washing it from time to time. The ratios for paint:medium are on the bottle, but I didn't use more than half a bottle. I pushed down on my painters tape before I painted each row just to make sure that it stuck really good and I didn't have any paint going underneath. Overall, the tape did really great and I had very few problems with any paint going underneath it.

5. I waited overnight and it was totally dry by morning. The fabric medium says to heat set it (which I will probably do at some point) and to wait 7 days before washing.


Here's the budget breakdown:

drop cloth - $10
3 sample bottles of paint - $2.69 x 3 = $8.07
tape (already had)
fabric medium (already had)

Total = Less than $20!

Overall, its perfect for me. I didn't need a rug (or at least a plushy one), it was more for looks. It's grounded by my furniture so it doesn't move around much at all. If you had hardwood floors, you would probably want a rug pad.

Best part? Less than $20. Best part? It's WASHABLE. Best part? LOVE IT. Basically its just the best.

Are you ready to try it? Would you do stripes or some other design?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ten extra pounds & singing off tune.

I am thankful that no matter what I look like, my kids love me. I'm their momma. I can shower or not, do my hair or not. I'm still their momma. And they love me.

I can sing off tune, but they love my singing anyway.

I can mess up, and they are quick to forgive.

I can have 10 extra pounds in my thighs and giant love handles around my waist and they don't care one bit. I'm their momma and they love me.

Even with all my flaws, they still love me. I find that profound. In a culture in which love and affection is seemingly acquired by having the right body, talents or fame, this is an anomaly. My children love me because I am their momma. Nothing more is needed.

I hope and pray they know they are loved unconditionally, not because of anything they have done or will do, but because they are mine.

My children truly do help grow me in my relationship with Jesus. They open my eyes to see how God loves me. Even with all my flaws, He still loves me. I pray that through His grace that I lead my children to know and love this amazing God who came, died, and lived to make me whole.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cookie Cutter Kids.

I didn't realize how much of a difference there would be in raising two kids. They are so different, yet similar. They are their own person, yet sisters. I thought using the same techniques in learning, discipline, etc would be the same... maybe with a few tweaks here and there. But oh my... It's like a 180 degree difference.

I don't want to raise cookie cutter kids. They are both so different. They respond well to certain things and terrible to others.

One loves cuddling, playing on the floor, sitting in your lap with a book. One loves playing dolls, coloring and being told, "Great job!".

I love them both. I want to love them the way they need to be loved. But it's a daily study, remembering what they respond to and trying really hard to love them the way they want to be loved, even if its different than mine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top Real Foods to Add to Your Pantry and Fridge

I had a great question asked in response to my 100 Days Real Food Challenge Recap and it was "What are the top real foods to add to your pantry and fridge to begin eating this way?" I compiled a list of 10 real foods and how we use them in our home. These might be common sense to some people, but when I started out on eating real food I was clueless as to where to start. I've only arrived at this point after doing this for over 3 months and I'm not an expert by any means. This is just what my family has found we liked and what has been most beneficial in helping us begin and continue our journey in eating real food.

1. Instead of chips, buy nuts. We buy raw nuts (nothing cooked or coated in sugar or salt) and mix them in a big ziploc bag. I normally buy what is on sale, but I get anything from pecans, sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, almonds, etc. Nuts are so much healthier than chips and are very filling. All you need is a small handful and you've got a great side for your sandwich or an afternoon snack. If you absolutely must have chips, buy these kind. There are only 3 ingredients, and they are cooked in sunflower oil, which is better for you than hydrogenated oil (trans fat) and there is no added MSG.

2. Instead of refined white flour, buy whole wheat (WW) flour. Refined flour is stripped of almost all the nutrients found in the grains. I use WW flour in the same way as I do white flour. I use it in cooking as a thickener (instead of corn starch) and in baking as well. I have made pies, cookies, muffins and breads with wonderful results!

3. Instead of sugary, flavored yogurt, buy plain yogurt. Plain yogurt at first sounded yucky to me. I had always had flavored, sugar added yogurt and they thought of having nothing sweet/flavored added to it didn't sound like fun. I use it in smoothies (more on that later) and as a snack or dessert topped with homemade berry sauce. I also make my own yogurt every other time to save money because the organic Stonyfield yogurt that we buy can be a bit high (at my grocery store its $3.29 for 1 qt). This way I only have to buy about 2 qts of this per month, and make the other 2 on my own (we go through 1 qt a week because its so good!).

4. Instead of popsicles/frozen desserts, buy frozen fruit. Frozen fruit is something that we use mainly in conjunction with the yogurt mentioned above. I make the homemade berry sauce as a topper to yogurt, pancakes and waffles. I also regularly make green smoothies (just a couple bananas, a scoop or two of yogurt, some frozen fruit and a handful of spinach). Its a great way to get in your dessert cravings while having something sweet that's good for you!

5. Instead of sugar, buy pure maple syrup and honey. Maple syrup and honey are natural sweeteners. I use them in place of sugar in a lot of things, however they do not work as a replacement for sugar in some baking (as in cookies especially, they just make them a runny mess!). I have used them in pies and sweet breads/muffins and it has worked great!

6. Instead of vegetable oil and canola oil, buy olive oil and coconut oil. I use olive oil for cooking mostly and coconut oil for baking. Olive oil and coconut oil are unrefined oils as opposed to oils like canola or vegetable oils, which are processed, cleaned with chemicals, etc. They really are hazardous to our health, so stay away from them if at all possible. And don't be scared of coconut oil! I had never used coconut oil in my life until starting the challenge, so if you have no idea what you are doing, this article is very helpful.

Other things that I would recommend buying that don't really need explanation are in season fruits and vegetables. They are cheaper and provide the most nutrients for you. If you really need something that isn't in season, buy it frozen--they are harvested at their peak during their in season and then frozen, retaining their nutrients well. Also, I do not buy all organic. There is no room in the budget. I adhere to the budget version of this eating plan, as there is not an unlimited amount of money for food in our home. Because of that, I cannot buy all organic. There are some things that I do buy organic (mostly the dirty dozen) but the rest I do not. Eating conventional fruits and veggies are most definitely better than none at all!

Has this list made you think of foods that you can replace at your house? What things could you see implementing in your family's eating plan?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

100 Days of Real Food.

Our family recently completed the 100 Days of Real Food challenge. To sum it up, the challenge was to only eat "real" food for 100 days. That means nothing processed, no sugar (unless it was in its natural form, like maple syrup or honey), only whole grains, and healthy oils and fats (like olive oil or coconut oil). After raiding my pantry, I was shocked by the amount of additives, preservatives, and sugar in our food. We threw away the opened packages and the rest we gave away. It was time to start fresh.

The hardest part to starting the new way of eating was the fact that I was constantly reading labels. Everything I once thought was healthy (or somewhat healthy) suddenly wasn't. I used to only read the calorie content or fat content of foods; now I was reading the ingredient list.

Once we got the hang of it and had a good idea of what was "real" food and what wasn't, it was pretty easy to map out meals. To save money (because eating real food is much more expensive than eating processed, sugary food) I learned to make a few things from scratch. I make whole wheat bread and plain yogurt once a week. Occasionally I make whole wheat tortillas (always a double batch because I freeze half of it and I think they are a pain... but they are SO good) and granola cereal (so that we can have something besides cream of wheat or oatmeal). Yes, it takes some time. I normally do all my bread baking/yogurt making on Mondays, so I don't have to do it again the rest of the week. But in case you didn't know, homemade ANYTHING is 1000x better than something you can buy at the store :)

helping momma make whole wheat muffins

We noticed some differences in our health while on the challenge. Ryan and I both lost about 10 pounds each, which was awesome! Especially since I was eating MORE than when I started the challenge. It was just more of the "real" stuff and not full of sugar and empty calories. I was also prone to an afternoon "slump" before the challenge, but once we made the food changes I was able to have a much more stable energy level throughout the day. My face didn't break out as much either! Instead of my face rivaling a 15 year old's acne war zone, I had clearer, brighter skin.

One of the biggest questions we got throughout this challenge was how the girls were eating with the change in our food habits. To the surprise of most (especially me!) they actually ate more and better than they did before! They love oatmeal and cream of wheat, veggies, fruit (of course) and they are nuts about nuts! :) At their recent checkup, in the last six months Ruby gained 3 pounds and grew 2 inches and Piper gained 7 pounds and grew 4.5 inches! Healthy girls :)


Now since we've been off the challenge, we do maintain most of the "rules" at home. It is nearly impossible to do so if you go out to eat or to a friends' house, so we are flexible on that. I have not liked having all this sugar around the holidays though (my face is letting my know I've eaten too many sweets) so it will be nice when its over and I'm not so tempted to eat anything coated in icing or shaped like a snowman.

Overall, I would definitely recommend trying the 100 Days of Real Food challenge if you would like to help your family eat healthier.

Do you think you could do the 100 Days of Real Food challenge? Would you be more willing to try the 100 Days of Mini Pledges?


Friday, December 14, 2012


 Piper is my almost two year old. I really can't believe that my baby will be 2 next month...!


She was my harder birth of the two.... 22 hours. Sunny side up. And definitely worst pain of my life. I definitely remember being SO glad she was here and that was over :) 

  She's a daddy's girl. Always has been. Always will. 

She's also a little stinker. Likes to get into mischief. Ryan said to me the other day, "Honey, I'm sorry... but I think Piper is going to be like I was as a child." I've heard the stories. Oh joy. ;)

She's a cuddler. So much so that she wanted to sleep in bed with me or at least wake me up to nurse in the night until she was a YEAR OLD. Love her. 

But mostly, she loves her sissy. She wants to be just like her when she grows up.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Five Ways to Maximize Your Time (and Spend More of It With Your Kids)

These are just a few simple ideas that have helped me at home with juggling mommy duties, household duties, and having a little bit of (very) needed time to myself. This short list is certainly not all inclusive, but are five practical and easy ways to help manage your time and spend more of it with your kids.

1.  Have a cleaning schedule.  I hated this concept for so. long. Shuddered, really. I don't know what it was about it I didn't like. Maybe it was the idea of having to clean something everyday? Maybe it was that the way my mother did it might have... could have... been somewhat.... right? I'm not really sure about that one. Anyways. Mondays on my cleaning schedule there is nothing written. It's my "flex" day during the week. But if I don't have certain tasks lined up for the rest of the days of the week, then one day I realize that I haven't cleaned something in a long time (or can't remember the last time it was done) and feel like I have to do everything in one day. This is bad for me because a) I'm exhausted by midday b) my kids are cranky because their momma is kinda cranky and c) it's overwhelming. What works for me is cleaning one room each day, with daily small tasks incorporated throughout the day (dishes, picking up toys, etc). This is a great one, and you can definitely modify it for you and your family. Also, get your kids involved. My girls love using the stick vac and a wet rag to "help" clean with mommy :)

2.  Take breaks in between doing things. I know that for me personally, if I find myself cleaning, picking up, or cooking for more than 15-20 minutes at a time I start to resent it and get burnt out. I enjoy a job well done and a hot meal (nothing better than a clean bathroom and a roast chicken in the crockpot!) but taking breaks really helps keep me motivated yet not over doing it throughout the day. I play princess dolls, read books or color with my kids. It's not really hard to play :)

3.  Give yourself some time to do whatever you want. I need recharging time in the afternoon. If I don't have that, then I am usually not going to do well for the rest of the afternoon/evening. During that time, Piper lays down for her nap and Ruby has quiet boxes (a great resource for those are found here). They are so great for keeping my 3 year old busy while I browse the internet, eat chocolate, or both. This is "my" time that I look forward to every day.

4. Get up a few minutes early. This one is hard for me. Anyone else have this problem? I still get my 7-8 hours, but man. It's hard. Getting up 30 minutes before my kids normally do lets me shower, put on clothes, and makeup. If I do that, I am already ready and don't have an excuse to look (and feel) grungy throughout the day. Putting on clothes (other than sweatpants and a t shirt) and a little makeup go a long way for my self esteem and productivity level. I also am more awake when my kids get up, so I'm not stumbling into their room all groggy and sleepy. I go in singing a happy song and they love it :)

5. Don't be a slave to your schedule. Some days are great and I find that I can zip along doing things and the kids have great attitudes. Other days, notsomuch. This is when I take a deep breath, forget any preplanned activities and focus on my kids. Sometimes this is hard to do. Why would I want to stop doing something I had planned to deal with a disobedient toddler? Other days I just don't WANT to get up early. I tell myself its OK. It's normal and healthy. I don't want to do be so tied down to anything that I am constantly stressing myself and my family out because I didn't wash the windows/vacuum the living room/sweep the kitchen/whatever. It can wait and will be there tomorrow. My kids, however will be a day older. And I won't get today again.