Monday, October 29, 2012

Got Candy? Ready or Not, Here They Come

This post brought to you by Mars candy. All opinions are 100% mine.

Well, y'all, I had planned to take a week off from blogging because I was supposed to be out of town with my son on a school trip to Washington D.C. this week.  But, Hurricane Sandy kinda changed those plans for us, so here I am!  And now Halloween has sort-of snuck up on me like a scary spider.  I didn't plan a costume party this year like I have in the past because we we've been busy planning for the trip.  But, I did throw together a little welcome table in the foyer for the trick-or-treaters that will soon be knocking at the door.

With my little banner and the blue bird cage from last year's decor, along with an ever-appropriate chalkboard, and of course, a bucket of M&M's, I'm ready.

 You know you can never go wrong with Mars Halloween candy.  And right now, you last-minute shoppers like myself can click here to visit Walmart's Mars Candy page and get valuable money-saving coupons for your favorite Halloween candies. 

While you're there, check out all their great recipes using Mars candy.  I am loving this Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich Cake made with M&M's...

Can't wait to try that soon!

So get your coupons and head to Walmart for a great deal and great selection of Mars candies, safely wrapped and ready to go.   You can easily be the favorite house in the neighborhood!  Happy Halloween!

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

White Beds, White Baths, White Sofas: Oh My!

This post brought to you by Clorox Bleach Dollar General. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you take a look around my house, you'll see right away that I have a thing for white.  It's classic, clean, and totally versatile. 
I swoon over white bedding (it's on 4 of the beds in our house)...

I'm still not over my white sofa (this is in the basement where the kids and their friends hang out a lot)...

And I'll always love a white bathroom (we have white tile and grout in all but one of our bathrooms)...

That's a lot of white.  But it doesn't scare me a bit.  Not because it never gets dirty, but because it's not hard to get it looking great again.

My secret weapon is not really a secret at all.  It's Clorox Liquid Bleach, and you probably have some in your laundry room right now. 

Clorox has always been great for laundering whites.  I bleach my white Pottery Barn slipcover and all our white duvet covers a couple times a year.

But, it works like magic in a white bathroom as well.  When our white grout starts looking a little dingy, I give it a Clorox treatment and it looks great again in no time.

Here's my little routine...

Fill a spray bottle with equal parts Clorox bleach and water.  (You can get these spray bottles at Dollar General for only $1).  Notice that dirty grout?

Spray the grout lines with the bleach mixture and leave it for 30 minutes to an hour.  Open windows and turn on fans to allow for proper circulation.  After you've allowed it to soak, simply wipe off with a wet cloth.  For more stubborn areas, use a small brush to scrub the grout, then wipe with the cloth. Don't forget to wear old clothes when working with bleach and wear gloves if you have sensitive skin.

You'll be amazed at the difference.  I took these before and after pics in the same exact spot...

See what I mean?

My all-white shower gets the same treatment on a weekly basis to keep it clean and disinfected.

When we chose this tile and grout as we were building the house 3 years ago, our builder told me I would regret it.   But when he was recently at our house and saw that the grout is still bright white, he was shocked and asked me how I keep it looking so clean.  I told him my secret, and I think he's convinced.

So, don't be scared of white.  Use this method on your ceramic tile and grout to keep it sparkling.

You can find a great assortment of Clorox bleach at a great value at your local Dollar General Store.

And now you can also get concentrated Clorox in a smaller bottle for even easier cleaning and better whitening.

You'll get the same number of uses in the smaller bottle as you do in the large.  But this means less waste and less space!

Pick up some Clorox at Dollar General today and lose your fear of decorating with white!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vintage Billboard Curtains

Thanks so much for all the kind comments about my recent guest room makeover.  Several of you have said you're on your way.  Sounds good. As long as I know you and you can prove you're not crazy.  (That would actually exclude several of you that I actually do know, so maybe I can make some exceptions.)

And the curtains seemed to be a favorite with many of you, so here's the scoop on those, as promised...

If you didn't already guess, the panels are actually canvas drop cloths.  (I know--huge surprise!) Click here to see a few of my other canvas projects.

As I mentioned, I wanted the curtains to look like they had been old banners or billboards advertising vacation cottages, so the drop cloths just seemed like the perfect choice.

These were the 6"x 9" from Lowes for around $10 each.  The 8 oz weight is great for curtains.  Just throw them in the washer and dryer to get them softened up a little.  Then, press with an iron to smooth out the wrinkles.

For the lettering, you have a few options.  If you have patience and a strong hand, you can use the freezer paper stencil method I've used so many times before.  Click here to read more.  Or, you could go all old-school and cut and trace the letters, filling in with paint.

I actually went with a little easier method this time and used vinyl.  I know--I kinda cheated a little, but my husband's company has a commercial vinyl cutter, so I went that route and saved a bunch of time.  If you have access to a Silhouette, you could do the same thing, or possibly find a local business to cut some vinyl for you.

The font I used for my text was Lobster 1.4.  Download it for free here.

We adhered the vinyl to the canvas, making sure to press down firmly and avoid gaps where paint could seep under.  Be sure to place a plastic drop cloth under the canvas to protect your floor or workspace because the paint will bleed through.  

For paint color, I used Sherwin William's Cloudburst to match the large window in the room.  A foam applicator is perfect for painting on canvas like this.  Just use a minimal amount-- a little goes a long way.  

Plus, using it sparingly will give it the weathered look of a vintage sign.

Once the paint was dry, I just peeled off the vinyl.  So easy!

The last step is to sew a rod pocket across the top of the cloth for hanging.  I wanted as much length as possible, so I didn't cut any extra off the top, I just folded it over 3 inches and sewed across.  If you need them shortened, you may need to cut a little before folding over the 3 inches.  Don't mess with the bottom.  No need to hem--- it's already sewn for you!

Once they're hung, you'll forget you ever found them in the paint aisle.  And you know I'll never tell.  Your secret's safe with me.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Confessions of a Pumpkin Spice-aholic

Some of you probably recognized this before I did, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that I may actually have a pumpkin problem.  I know.  I talk about Pumpkin Spice like it's going out of style.  But that's only because the words, "Available Only for a Limited Time" scare me to death.  That's why I felt the need to visit almost every Starbucks in town trying to find the weak-link employee who would sell me a bottle of the Pumpkin Spice syrup, only to come home empty-handed.  But, I'm no quitter.

So I mulled it over as I made up a batch of the Pumpkin Spice French Toast I told you about and it was then that it hit me.  

What if I used the Pumpkin Spice Glaze as a syrup for my coffee?  A cup of coffee, just the right amount of cream, some glaze to sweeten to taste, and maybe even a little whipped cream and cinnamon on top, and I may just be set until Peppermint Season.

In case you missed it, here's the glaze recipe again:

2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix together sugar and milk until smooth, then mix in pumpkin and spice.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Sound good to you, too?  We may need to start a support group.  I'll bring the Pumpkin Muffins.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Spice French Toast

This post brought to you by Nature's Pride Bread. All opinions are 100% mine.

Greetings, fellow pumpkin lovers, I'm back with more delicious Autumn for you with this recipe I recently came up with for my crew.

Using a basic French Toast recipe, I spiced it up a bit by topping it with a Pumpkin Spice Glaze. 

Do I have the attention of your taste buds?  Read on.

I started with this Nature's Pride Nutty Oat bread, which turned out to be a great choice for this recipe. 

Just like the many other varieties of Nature's Pride Bread, it's 100% natural, with no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or high fructose corn syrup.  It's also a great source of fiber with 14 grams of whole grains per slice.

To make the French toast, you'll need:

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
12-14 slices of bread

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Place the bread slices in a 9x13 or similar-sized dish, and pour the egg mixture over the top.  Leave the bread to soak up the liquid for around 10 minutes, rearranging slices half-way through to ensure each piece is covered.

While the bread soaks, prepare the Pumpkin Spice Glaze.

For this, you'll need:

2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Whisk together the sugar and milk, then add in pumpkin and spice.  (So easy!)

By this time, the bread should be ready to cook. Brown the slices in a non-stick skillet with a little butter or cooking spray, until you have golden brown French toast.

Just before serving, warm the Pumpkin Spice Glaze in the microwave for a minute or so.  Resist the temptation to drink this glaze straight from the bowl.  You'll need to reserve some to drizzle over the French toast.

And since this bread is so healthy, you won't feel bad having 2 slices.  Twenty-eight grams of fiber never tasted so good.

Do you have a favorite recipe using Nature's Pride breads?  Leave a comment below and tell us all about it.

And then be sure to "like" Nature’s Pride on Facebook where you could win free bread for a month in the Bread for No Bread contest.  A new winner is selected every Monday!!

Hope you enjoy this taste of Autumn!  I'm sharing with a few of these friends.

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