The Crafty Collaborative!


Hello Crafty Readers!

 

We’ve decided to go on summer break!  Work on some projects at home, soak in some sun, and spend a little extra time with family and friends.

 

We’ll pop in here and there on our Facebook and Twitter pages to give you some ideas for summertime craftiness, so be sure to give us a “Like” or a “Follow“.

 

Hope you all have a fabulous summer vacation!

 

The Crafty Collaborative


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Nature’s Nurture has a recipe for All-Natural Laminate Floor Cleaner that you can make at home.  
Anyone with wood laminate knows that they can smudge up quickly, so to have a home-remedy for an easy clean-up is like a dream come true!

 

We couldn’t wait to put this formula to the test on our dirty floors!

 

Please click here to visit Nature’s Nurture and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To find an easier way to clean our laminate floor, without the icky chemicals

 

Details:

  • We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor CleanerAlthough I wanted to use equal parts of water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol, I measured 1 c hot water, 1 c vinegar and about a 1/4 c of rubbing alcohol because 1 cup seemed entirely too much and I didn’t have enough anyway.
  • I used Dawn Dishwashing Liquid.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used hot water which seemed to give my floors a really nice clean. My thinking is that hot=disinfecting. Sounds good, right?!  Let’s go with it.
Be sure to gently shake your mixture as the Dawn sunk right to the bottom in a glob.
Spray generously and then mop away, baby!

Although the aroma wasn’t too bad, I will try adding in lavender oil next time.

Pros:

I love this because I didn’t have to go out and buy anything and the results are great

Cons:

Left a slight film on the floor but I realized that I used too much liquid soap.

We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor Cleaner

Conclusion:

I tried this floor cleaner on a whim and really impressed with the results.

My laminate flooring is in the kitchen so it gets high traffic and it always looks dirty. I found that this cleaner was easy to make, easy to use and we have been spot free for at least 3 days and counting. Check back in a week – lol!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: I have been searching for a spot cleaning spray for my laminate floors for ages.

Sometimes you just get an area with smudges but aren’t ready to clean the whole floor! I tested this on the area in between the bathroom and my children’s bedrooms. Serious traffic goes down here.

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

There really isn’t anything tricky about this!

I do suggest making sure you have a bottle with a little extra space so you can shake the ingredients together well.

We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor Cleaner

Pros:

Seriously simple and extremely effective.

Cons:

The vinegar smell is pretty strong so you may want to up your drops of essential oils.

We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor CleanerConclusion:

I can’t wait to try this in bucket form and really clean up!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I love our laminate wood floors, love them!  My husband on the other hand has a really tough time with the smudges that you see, since they are a very dark brown shade. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the miracle cleaner that leaves us smudge-free for days!

Details:

I grabbed an All-Purpose Spray Bottle, a Funnel and got to mixing!

  • My dishwashing liquid of choice was Better Life’s Dish It Out.  Love that stuff!
  • I was well on my way to equally mixing 6 oz of each item, until I realized that I was an ounce short of the Rubbing Alcohol.  Thanks a lot Sharpie Tie-Dye!!  I added an extra ounce of water to get me to 18 oz.
  • I am a huge baby when it comes to the smell of vinegar.  I added 20 drops of Eucalyptus Oil, swished it around, gagged, and then added 10 more drops.  Blaghk!
  • I used a Microfiber Cloth, as recommended and tested out a small, high traffic area by hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Easy Peasy.  Just spray and wipe.

I do like to use a damp cloth to get more out of the product that I use.  I just rinse the cloth or microfiber pad and ring out in the sink before getting to work.

After re-reading the post, I nearly had a heart attack when I realized that I wasn’t supposed to use any essential oils if I had pets, which I do!  I quickly checked “Eucalyptus Oil” at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control site and learned that it is terrible for pets!  Ahhhg!!
All was well in the world after I went back over the area with my regular floor cleaner which I love.

Prior to my freak-out, the results were a little iffy to me.  This could be because I used a ton of essential oils and was short on my rubbing alcohol, or the fact that my floors are super dark and show everything.  The finish looked matte as opposed to shiny and new, and I could see streaks.  I don’t love that.

We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor Cleaner

Pros:

Easy and inexpensive to make.

Cons:

 To be honest, rubbing alcohol doesn’t seem very “natural” to me; I feel much better using my current product which I already know that I trust.

We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor Cleaner

Conclusion:

While this cleaner may be a great choice for those with lighter colored floors and less sensitive noses, I don’t think that it is for me.

Making it was totally easy, but the results didn’t trump my current cleaner’s.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission: We just had new laminate kitchen floors installed. Finally! They were much awaited. It was time to find a great cleaner that would keep them shiny and not streaky.

 

Details:

  • We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor CleanerI followed the directions provided by Natures Nurture Blog but I cut the recipe in half. My floor space isn’t very big and I wanted to make sure I liked it first.
  • I didn’t have any citrus essential oils so I soaked some lemon peels in the vinegar for about 20 minutes.
  • I also used the fragrance oil I had on hand, “Island Orchard,” which I found at Pier 1 when we made the Baking Soda Air Fresheners.
  • I was nervous about harming my brand new floors so I first tried the cleaner on spare pieces we had left over.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely use a Microfiber Cloth as suggested. They tend to work best.

Pros:

It worked surprising well!

Cons:

Vinegar is a great cleaner, but my only gripe is the smell. Luckily it dissipates quickly.

We tried it - All Natural Laminate Floor CleanerConclusion:

Overall I was impressed. I think I might get myself some orange essential oils for my next batch. I wasn’t too crazy about my Island Orchard fragrance oil mixed with the lemon. I might even test this one on my hardwoods.

 

 
We tried it - All-Natural Laminate Floor Cleaner!


The fabulous
All-Natural Laminate Floor Cleaner and photo by Nature’s Nurture

 


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Lettuce Be Healthy has a recipe for the once carbo-licious pancake, Paleo style!  Her Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes use gluten-free, healthy ingredients that make this breakfast favorite guilt-free.

 

Kim Lam has a few different versions of the recipe and we hunted them down.

 

To see the differences, take a peek at the chart below:

Paleo Pancake Recipes

 

To see the instructions that we followed,

click HERE for Recipes #1 and #2,

and HERE for Recipe #3.

 

If you’re like Maren, and start sweating when you hear the word “Paleo”, click here for a great introduction by Irena over at Eat, Drink, Paleo.

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: These little babies just sounded so delish I had to try them. Hearing that they were “Paleo” made me feel a whole lot better about eating pancakes.

Details:

I followed the instructions provided by Turtlewoman (aka Kim Lam). What I really loved about her post was how she explained the benefits of each ingredient. I also went with Recipe #1.

  • It took me quite a while to find Coconut Flour, but then remembered that a local store carried a ton of Bob’s Red Mill’s products. Sure enough, they had it!
  • I realized I didn’t have any Pumpkin Pie Spice so I just added a little extra Cinnamon.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Step 2 states: “Then whisk the wet ingredients in a separate bowl: eggs, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and pumpkin puree.” I believe that is “Maple Syrup” is supposed to be the milk. The Maple Syrup is for drizzling on top.

I first tried making the pancakes in my stainless steel skillet with melted Coconut Oil on the bottom of the pan, but flipping them was a challenge. I then tried my electric griddle set at 350° and it worked much better.

The consistency of the batter was different than traditional pancake batter. You have to sort of shape your pancakes.

I found that letting them cook a few minutes to the point where they were nearly cooked through on the first side made them easier to flip. There was some trial and error for the first couple.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

Such a healthy recipe and delicious.

Cons:

Just the flipping challenge, which I was able to tackle.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

These pancakes were delicious! My husband loved them. Unfortunately between the two of us we ate them all and didn’t save any for the kids. Ooops!

I certainly love that fact that they are packed with fiber and protein and rarely any carbs or sugar. They’re a winner in my book.

I’m thinking of taking this recipe and swapping the pumpkin puree for some smashed bananas! I think my kids would LOVE them!

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: To try another paleo breakfast recipe to add to my cookbook! I love eating Paleo and eat that way most of the time. I made the switch about two years ago and have never felt better!!

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I scooped a heaping spoonful of batter for each pancake and smoothed it out a bit as directed to thin them out.

I ended up getting eight pancakes out of the batter.  This was enough to feed myself, my kiddos, plus have a few left over.

The pancakes are a little tricky to flip. I just couldn’t get my spatula underneath of them very well. Since this batter doesn’t bubble up like a “normal” pancake, I waited about three minutes before I flipped them and that seemed perfect!

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

This recipe was fairly easy to prepare and all the ingredients are easy to find.

Plus, if you live a Paleo lifestyle, you will have most of these ingredients on-hand already. And, they were very tasty when done!

Cons:

There was definitely some skill needed to flip these pancakes!

With their spongy consistency, they never really got firm and it made them somewhat hard to flip.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

I really liked these pancakes! They were easy to make, had a nice texture to them and were very tasty! I served them with sliced bananas and sausage links.

I will definitely make these again. They would be super tasty in the fall with a pumpkin spice latte!

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: I love trying new Paleo recipes especially breakfast ones as I get bored with eating eggs every morning!  A little twist for my hubby, too!

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The directions made it sound so easy, but my dropping of the batter into the pan was not an easy task!  I attempted to use a spoon to smooth the batter out and it kept sticking to the spoon so with my figures and spoon, I did the best I could.

Cook on low as I found the outside was cooking a lot faster than the interior of my pancake.

Beware of popping seeds! Yes siree, my husband and I thought we had blown up the house!  I had covered the pancakes with a lid to allow the interior to cook, by doing so it must have overheated a flax seed and BOOM, our hearts skipped a beat with the loud pop!

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

Hmmm…used pumpkin that has high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants!?!

Cons:

Not a lot of flavor and a bit on the dry side.

Tricky to spoon onto the pan, may need a little practice.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

I am a fan of many Paleo recipes but one wasn’t my favorite.

The recipe seemed to be simple to follow and the pictures seemed so tasty on the blog!  Maybe I missed a step?  You all know, I am not always the best at following instructions!

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: I have been eating clean for a couple of months now and pancakes have been sparse. I am a pumpkin lover so these looked right up my alley!

Details:

  • I went with Recipe #1.
  • I did not have any organic pumpkin puree so I went with a can of Libby’s that I had on hand.
  • I also only ended up using about an ⅛ of a cup of Almond Milk as my batter was just a little thick but didn’t call for the entire ¼ per the recipe.
  • I currently use Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour and it works fine for me. Amazon is a great resource for specialty flours and I find their prices to be much better than what I can get locally.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

BE PATIENT! I turned a couple too soon and they ended up a pile of batter.

Also, don’t add the almond milk right away. Chances are you will not need all of it. Mix your ingredients then let them sit for a few minutes while your pan heats. You will know at that point if you need more.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Pros:

Great flavor! I liked the combination of spices and the pumpkin.

The texture is pretty typical for a Paleo recipe so someone that is new to cooking this way may find it a little grainy but for those of us who eat minimal carbs it doesn’t phase us!

Cons:

The recipe has a lot of ingredients but very little of each.

I felt I could have used less Maple Syrup. ¼ of a cup seemed like a lot.

We Tried It - Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes!

Conclusion:

I really liked these and may play around with the flour a bit. Maybe a combination of Coconut Flour and Almond Flour would make for a better texture that is a little sturdier.

All in all I will definitely be making these again!


The lovely
Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes and photo by Lettuce Be Healthy

We Tried Them!  Pumpkin Paleo Pancake


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Show mom that you care with these tried and true projects.

 

We promise them to be totally doable and sure to be a hit!

 

 Succulent Tea Cups

Succulent Tea Cups - We Tried it!

 

Strawberry Cream Pie

Strawberry Cream Pie!

 

 Stamped Napkins

Stamped Napkins - We Tried it!

 

Pumpkin Scones, a la Starbucks

Pumpkin Scones a la Starbucks, We Tried Them - AMAZING!

 

 Simple Terrarium

Simple Terrarium - We Tried It!


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Budget Gourmet Mom has a sweet twist on an Easter dinner essential with her Orange Bunny Rolls. She even offers a lime option, too!

With Easter right around the corner, we hopped right to it!

 

Please click here to visit Budget Gourmet Mom and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: Easter is just around the corner and these little pastries are so darn cute.  Why not?!

 

Details:

Make sure you read and re-read the directions. It can be a bit overwhelming to look at but not bad once you get started.

  • I decided to go with the Cinnamon and orange route, as I did not have Cardamom on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

When warming the milk concoction, be sure to use softened butter. I made the mistake of using cold butter and I left it on low heat to melt. In reading the directions, this mix should have reached 120 degrees to 130 degrees. Using a candy thermometer is very helpful as my mix reached nearly 145 degrees. Whoops! I waited for this to cool before adding to dry mixture with eggs. Scrambled eggs or curdling is not what I am shooting for. Ha!

As far as measuring the dough to a specific 14×10 inch rectangle and all the jazz. I totally eyeballed it. I am all about making my life easy.

Keep your flour out because the dough can get sticky

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

Fun idea and the kids liked the end result!

Cons:

No cons really – just that the whole process of waiting for the dough to rise can be time consuming.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

So my bunnies turned out good, but not great!

They are delicious when first out of the oven with the glaze on top and the orange gave it a really nice flavor.  The next day though, not as great – so be sure that you eat them up right away!

I am not 100% sure I would make them again as there were quite a few steps and my kids tend to get bored after about 15 minutes!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: I thought these rolls were too cute to pass up. I am also a sucker for baked goods of all varieties, especially the themed kind.

 

Details:

  • I chose Allspice over Cardamom simply for the fact that is what I had in my pantry.
  • To make quick work of zesting my fruit I used my handy Microplane Grater similar to this one!
  • Although the recipe suggested using a hand mixer and kneading by hand I busted out my KitchenAid Mixer. It is like having a room full of minions do your work while you sit back and sip mimosas (I imagine that is what you would drink while minions do your work).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Not sure where things went wrong but my bunnies were not as pretty and perfect as shown in the post.

I found it hard to roll my snakes out without making them look all rough. You definitely want to cut your pieces long enough. I made only the small bunnies and even those seemed mammoth.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

These are REALLY delicious and fresh tasting thanks to the fruit juice/zest and the fluffy dough.

My kids loved them!

Cons:

I found the recipe to be a little fussy, plus I failed miserably to achieve the adorable bunnies when all was said and done.

That is no fault of Krista from Budget Gourmet Mom! This epic fail was all me.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

The end result was really great but I think next time I will stress less about the shape and simply turn these into rolls.

The flavor will be the same minus the fluff. Get it? Like bunny fluff! That’s all folks!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: I have been on a big citrus kick lately so combining oranges for these cute bunnies was a no brainer! And a great project to practice for my future kiddos!

 

Details:

  • I made a couple of modifications with Allspice, tangerine peel and orange juice.
  • I got to break out my favorite kitchen appliance, my KitchenAid Mixer, and my new Zester which worked like a charm for the tangerine rind.
  • I goofed on following instructions as usual, I ended up making 2 extra-large bunnies and only 3 small bunnies!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I don’t have a Rolling Pin so a straight-sided glass cylinder vase worked perfectly for the dough!

I also used wax paper for rolling out dough onto flour for super easy clean up.

Cutting the dough was a cinch by using my Pizza Cutter!

I used aluminum foil under my cooling racks to catch the leftover icing from icing the bunnies and for more easy clean-up.  A spoon worked best for drizzling the icing on the hot out of the oven bunnies!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

Pretty easy to follow and taste great!  Love the variations you could make!

Cons:

It may take a while to get those cute bunny ears!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

Perfect for a holiday tradition by allowing kids to cook, too!

My taste testers were my office co-workers and my husband, who all gave a big thumbs up for this recipe.  Simple, yet delicious!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To make these darling bunny rolls for our little cuties and their cousins for cousin weekend! I have not made any form of bread in quite awhile, so I knew I’d be rusty going into this one.

Details:

I didn’t have Cardamom, but I found a tip online that noted to substitute equal parts Cinnamon and Nutmeg together. I had both of those on-hand, so that was the route I went and it worked well!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I didn’t realize I was short powdered sugar until I had the bunnies baking and I needed to prep the glaze!

I only had ¼ cup on hand, so I used: ¼ cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. fresh squeezed lime juice, 1 tsp. lime peel, 1 T. milk. It made just enough glaze to cover the little bunny rolls, which was just what I needed!  Phew!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

Was fairly easy to prepare the dough and the rise time was perfect for clean up time.

Overall, I really enjoyed making these and I really loved the lime and cardamom flavor. I just may have to try the orange flavor next!

Cons:

I was surprised to see that some of the bunny rolls did not maintain their shape while baking. But, it sure didn’t change the taste!

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

These bunny rolls are adorable and will be perfect to serve at Easter brunch!

We served them at lunchtime with the rest of the meal for our little kiddos and their cousins. Out of the seven of them, three really loved these and the others thought they were so-so. I had no problem downing a few of the left over ones myself!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sheri

Mission: Well these little bunnies were just too cute not to try! Look at those little tails, seriously! I really thought my children would get a kick out of them.

 

Details:

  • The original recipe called for either Cardamom or Allspice.  I went with Allspice.
  • Based on my learning experience with the Pull Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread, I made sure that the room was nice and warm for the dough to rise.
  • I’m always nervous about screwing up the recipe; adding too much or too little.  While I was concentrating on adding the remaining flour to the dough to get that soft consistency, I was so worked up that I completely forgot to add the orange juice! Fail.
  • I let the kids help with making the bunnies. They thoroughly enjoyed putting the little bunny tails on. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures because my hands were covered in flour.
  • Into the oven they went and I hoped they would turn out okay. They were a little “plump” so I baked them a little bit longer.
  • For some reason my Confectioners Sugar was a little lumpy, so the glaze didn’t come out so well.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I highly recommend a Microplane Grater to get a nice fine grate.

Also, I would have used my Mixer and dough hook had I thought ahead. Although mixing with a wooden spoon provided a good arm workout.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Pros:

They were really super cute.

Cons:

My kids weren’t too crazy about the flavor.

The allspice was a little overpowering, which might not have been the case if I had remembered the darn orange juice.

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!

Conclusion:

Overall these are really cute. Of course mine didn’t come out picture perfect like the ones displayed, but then again I’m a novice baker when it comes to dough.

The kids had fun making them, but weren’t too crazy about eating them. I think that would have been different if I had remembered the orange juice! Duh!

I may try making these adorable bunnies with my aunt’s egg biscuit recipe which I know they will enjoy!

 
 

We Tried It - Orange Bunny Rolls!


The darling and very tasty
Orange Bunny Rolls and photo by Budget Gourmet Mom

 


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Dinners, Dishes & Desserts has a great new take on a family favorite!  The Roasted Garlic, Chicken & White Herb Pizza has a bold flavor with the homemade tastiness we all love.

 

You had us at pizza!

 

Please click here to visit Dinners, Dishes & Desserts and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission: Pizza from scratch.  Those are scary words.  I am still learning about making bread dough, so the thought of encountering it makes me nervous.  But I do love pizza, so this just may be the push that I needed!

Details:

  • I made Fail-Proof Pizza Dough from Lauren’s Latest, except I accidentally added 2 Tbsp of salt instead of 2 Tsp… more on that later.
  • To save time, I used rotisserie chicken.
  • I went a little heavy on the mozzarella.  I love cheese!
  • We have a baking stone, but it was way too small.  I just used a large baking sheet instead.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Watch that flour!  The second it even looks like it’s going to firm up, get it off that heat and add your cheese.

To melt my mountain of cheese, I broiled the pizza on the top rack for a couple minutes.

I don’t eat a whole lot of meat.  I think that this pizza would be terrific as veggie-only; maybe add some mushrooms and tomatoes!

Thank goodness my husband and I both love onions and garlic.  We can’t get enough over here!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

A great combination!  Rich flavors and oh so garlic-y!

Cons:

Oh my god the salt… My measurement blunder nearly killed the pizza.

My salt-loving husband didn’t mind, but I ended up eventually picking the toppings off and eating them without the crust!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

Yum!  I’m glad that I gave this recipe a try.  Homemade pizza is not as scary as I had built it up to be!
The sauce was delish, too!  I’m looking forward to playing a little more with this recipe in the future.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Mike and I love making homemade pizzas, we typically make sausage and pepperoni, so this is a twist!

 

Details:

  • I used Udis Gluten Free Pizza Crusts instead of making my own. 
  • Almond flour was substituted for all-purpose flour.
  • Substituted dried parsley for fresh, didn’t have fresh on hand.
  • Used minced bottle of garlic instead of fresh.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Watch the flour so it doesn’t burn when cooking!

Check the caps are secure on your spices…you can see I had a little oops with my parsley in the picture!

I broiled on high to get the fresh mozzarella bubbly and golden for a few minutes.

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

Easy to make and a twist on our traditional pizzas!

Cons:

Lots of garlic, I wonder if fresh garlic would taste a bit better!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

Mike’s first word after his first bite, “Wow”! He said there was a lot of garlic but he loved it more than our traditional pepperoni and sausage pizza.  I prefer the traditional, I am not a fan of chicken on my pizza! Ha!

Overall, success…this is perfect for get-togethers!  Simply cut in squares and serve up as appetizers!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: This adult version of pizza really appealed to my taste buds as our house is often catered to the kiddos.

 

Details:

  • I used some rotisserie chicken I had in my freezer from a visit at Sam’s Club where I stocked up and prepped for the busy upcoming holiday season. It works great for recipes like this!
  • I started by whipping up a batch of No Fail Pizza Dough  from Lauren’s Latest which has quickly become my go-to dough recipe as it is always good and couldn’t be easier.
  • Once I had the dough mixed up and raising I popped the garlic in the oven to roast. It is such a simple method and really gets your mouth watering because as it cooks it fills the house with the delicious, warm aroma of garlic. YUM!

Here is a simple how-to if you haven’t roasted garlic before.

  • We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!I had all the ingredients on hand minus the fresh herbs. Since the recipe does call for some of the herbs to be fresh vs. dried.

I wanted to be sure I was using the right amount so I went to Martha for a little advice on how to convert. If the recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh herbs then you would use a teaspoon since there are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t over cook the sauce. Nothing worse than burnt dairy!

Rotisserie chicken is a real time saver – use it.

Dried herbs were totally fine but fresh is always best so if you have the means splurge.

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

This pizza was even better the next day!

I am planning to make it again for a belated holiday party for friends. I am certain it will be a hit.

Cons:

I really don’t think there are any.

This is a simple pizza with a more complex flavor than your average pepperoni and sausage pie!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

Be daring and give this a try. I promise your adult taste buds will thank you!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission: You had me at pizza- seriously! My two favorite things in this world is pizza and cheese.

 

Details:

I am so glad this recipe did not call for homemade crust. Anything with yeast and dough rising is not my bag of tea. It always fails and falls flat- no joke.

  • I found this delicious, ready to bake pizza dough from Trader Joes for like $2 bucks.

The rest of the ingredients and recipe were fairly simple to follow.

  • To save time, I used Tyson grilled and ready chicken breasts from the freezer section (not too shabby and the flavor was good).
  • Added black olives

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Getting the pre-made dough out of the darn bag was the death of me. It was stuck like glue. You needed arms of a blacksmith to get it out. Flour is your best friend here.

Also, be sure that when sauté the garlic, keep an eye on it. I tend to get distracted when I cook and almost had a burned mess on my hands.

I would strongly recommend using a baking stone. We got one as a wedding present 10 years ago and I never used it and eventually sold it in a garage sale. I am now kicking my own ass for selling it. What was I thinking??!!

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Pros:

This garlic cream sauce tastes like heaven.

Cons:

The cream sauce can be tedious to put together.

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!

Conclusion:

My hubby does not like pizza. WHAT THE?! Who is this person and how did we ended up together because it is my favorite.  It was DELICIOUS.  Worth noting: my desert island choices would be pizza, cheese and something carbonated with caffeine.

It takes a little time to make and come together but totally worth it.

 

We Tried It - Roasted Garlic, Chicken and Herb Pizza - Yum!


The oh-so-yummy
Roasted Garlic, Chicken & White Herb Pizza and it’s photo by Dinners, Dishes & Desserts

 


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Round up those antsy kids for a Sharpie Tie Dye from The Art Girl Jackie.

Get ready for the sun shine with this colorful DIY.

 

Please click here to visit The Art Girl Jackie and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To create a tie-dyed effect shirt with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol. Very strange, but we will try it!

 

Details:

This project is pretty straight forward. I really did not want to go out and buy materials for this so I used what I had at home.

  • The Rubbing Alcohol I used was 70% and worked fine.
  • We had 4 Sharpie colors to work with: Orange, Red, Blue and Silver
  • I found a cotton dress shirt at Target for $2 and thought, if this turns out to be a bust, it only cost $2 bucks.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to use a newspaper or wax paper and place inside the shirt to prevent running or staining. The original post suggest making your pictures very small because it will spread like gangbusters. I let the kids go crazy with it.

Make sure that the rubber band and shirt is secure and tight- you will get a crisper image.

We Tried It - Sharpie Tie-Dye!

Pros:

My kids loved it and was so quick to make.

Cons:

The design is not as cool as it is in the original post.

We Tried It - Sharpie Tie-Dye!

Conclusion:

I did not have a high expectations with this project and it actually turned out really cute. Such a creative way besides using the traditional tie-dye kits.  The final result is very cool!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: Get some tie-dye action without the hassle of… tie dye.

 

Details:

  • I had 70% Rubbing Alcohol at home, so I went with it.
  • I always have Sharpies on hand!
  • I tested this project out on a 79¢ dishtowel that I picked up at IKEA.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Instead of an eye dropper, I channeled my inner 8 year old and did the straw trick that would always get me yelled at at restaurants.

Some of my Sharpies worked much better than others.  Maybe because some of them were newer?  Regardless, you may want to test them out beforehand so that you get the best results.

When I was done, I blotted the dishtowel with paper towels to pick up any excess rubbing alcohol and then hung it on the clothesline to dry out.

We Tried It - Sharpie Tie-Dye!

Pros:

Incredibly easy.  Not too stinky!

Cons:

Not quite the real thing.

We Tried It - Sharpie Tie-Dye!

Conclusion:

This project was super easy and quick.  I think that if they can handle the smell, that it would be right up most kid’s alley.

As a gal with a little granola in her blood though, there’s nothing like the real thing!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: My son is always asking me to make tie-dye shirts… I just don’t have the patience for it. When I saw this simple “tie-die” solution, I knew we just had to try it.

 

Details:

There is something about a fresh set of colored markers that makes me happy.

  • I grabbed a full 12-pack of Sharpies, even knowing my son would probably stick with just the greens and blues.

This was a learn as you go/trial and error project. The directions state to make a design the size of a quarter or half dollar using colors that are near each other on the color wheel, which make a nice transition into one another.

The first design my son made didn’t spread well. As we moved along the shirt we found that if you placed your colors a little closer together and made bolder lines and dot, they blended much more nicely together. We even added some color to the outside rim of the cup as suggested in the original post.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If you don’t have a dropper, use a straw!  Simply immerse the straw into the rubbing alcohol and then block off the top.  This worked well.

Larger blots of color placed closely together, makes for the best “blend.”  I also recommend using different sized cups or Tupperware containers.

Don’t forget to heat set the color by tossing the shirt in the dryer for a while.

We Tried It - Sharpie Tie-Dye!

Pros:

Cute and easy!

Cons:

My son was very turned off by the smell of the rubbing alcohol and I ended up finishing the project.

We Tried It - Sharpie Tie-Dye!

Conclusion:

My son’s only complaint was that the shirt was “not filled up.” I got put back to work making more circles of fun color. He loved the fun colors and the variation of design.

I loved the easy clean up! I just tossed the solo cups into the trash and put my markers away. I know for sure that my niece is going to love doing this project on her next visit.

 

We Tried It - Sharpie Tie-Dye!


The darling
Sharpie Tie Dye and photo by The Art Girl Jackie

 


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Movita Beaucoup has a great addition for your Irish feast that won’t interfere with your parade plans!
Her Slow Cooker Beef Stew is a stick-to-your-bones recipe sure to please the meat and potato lovers in your life.

 

This simple twist of an old favorite had us at “slow cooker,” so you can bet we were ready to dive right in!

 

Please click here to visit Movita Beaucoup and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To whip up this crock pot stew for a warm and yummy dinner!

 

Details:

As I’ve mentioned before, I love crock pot cooking – it’s low mess, low maintenance and recipes cooked in the crock pot usually turn out tasty. I liked this recipe right away for it’s minimal ingredients; most of the items are things I typically have in my pantry and fridge.

  • I did all the chopping prep of my vegetables the night before and then started again early in the morning (I was up extra early due to my youngest cutting her teeth). I first heated up my pan and cut up the beef roast for browning. Once that step was done, I began to place all of the ingredients into the crock pot as directed and then set the temperature to high. I mean, how easy can getting a dinner going be – the hardest part was shredding carrots!
  • I ended up only having one jar of my mom’s canned Iowa garden tomatoes and peppers (they are amazing!) so was a bit short of the called for amount. I made a quick run to Target that day and added the rest in after the stew had been cooking for 4 hours.
  • At the end of the cooking time, I added the frozen peas and the cream mixture. Seriously easy peasy!

I served this stew with some buttered toast and a side of fruit. My husband and kids enjoyed it! I even tried to take some of the potatoes out first and mash them up before scooping the stew over the top. Yum!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If you are using a beef roast you already have in your freezer, be sure to take it out the day before to thaw out.

Prep the vegetables the night before so your morning prep goes quickly.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

EASY!!! Not much for prep work and an easy way to have a filling dinner. And being March, it has a wonderful Irish feel to it.

Cons:

A little on the heavy side, so may be more filling than you’d like.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

This was a very easy recipe to follow and overall a tasty dinner.

It made a lot of stew, so I ended up freezing what was left over and plan to use it for another dinner soon. Might be a great dinner to prepare when you are having company over!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Always enjoy a good recipe and we are meat eaters in my household!  In a crock pot, even better!

 

Details:

  • I used a mix of potatoes, chopped sweet potatoes for added nutrients and small red potatoes cut in half.
  • Picked up 2 packs of stew meat, already trimmed and cut at the grocery.  Easiest way!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Best product to use for easy crock pot clean up, Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. Best Tip!

Cooking for two?  Halve the recipe.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

Very easy to make in the crock pot.  Just a lot of chopping!

Cons:

Became mushy, not sure this could freeze well and it makes a ton of food for 2 people.  Hate being a food waster!

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

Mike and I both liked it, although not one of our favorite recipes.  Mike isn’t a slow cooker meat and potato guy.

It was pretty heavy of a dish, so definitely hearty for the cold winter months!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Amanda

Mission: When I saw this recipe I knew I would have to wait until my husband was home to make it. He is the beef stew lover in the house (me not so much on the beef part).

 

Details:

The recipe was very easy to follow. Not much in the way of prep other than cutting up some veggies and browning the meat.

  • I used regular red potatoes vs the small potatoes suggested in the original recipe. They worked just fine when cut into 4 pieces.
  • I have this great peeling tool I found at an Asian market that makes anything look “fancy” so I used that to peel the carrots. Gave the stew a little flair!
  • I cooked the stew for about 9 hours before adding the peas and slurry, then I cooked it another 20 minutes per the recipe. It had a nice thickness to it after adding the slurry.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Not a lot you can do to mess up this dish! Basically put it together, stir and wait.

One thing I think I would change for next time is to add a full cup of broth to the half cup of flour for a looser consistency. It was hard to mix the “paste” into the stew without lumps.

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

Simple, hearty and a real “man pleaser”.

My husband saw what I had made and said “REALLY??” as if I was serving ice cream for dinner. He LOVED it. My kids not so much but they tend to be funny about dishes where everything is in one pot.

Even though I am not much of a beef eater but I have to admit this stew was really good and because I chose lean meat it didn’t seem really chewy or fatty.

Cons:

I see none!

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

This stew was the perfect Sunday night meal that literally warms you from the inside out. Key for us Minnesotans who have endured a BRUTAL winter. There should be SOME perks after all right?

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission:  To make a delicious beef stew from a crock-pot because I have tried and failed many times. Very optimistic about this recipe.

 

Details:

This recipe is very straight-forward and super easy to follow.

  • I had most of the ingredients on hand except for the stew meat (sounds gross but so good).
  • I omitted peas because I think they taste disgusting. Texture, people!!!
  • I also had to create an Italian seasoning because I did not have. I tossed in a pinch of each: oregano, parsley, thyme, garlic and a tiny amount of basil.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Browning/searing the meat is a must. I usually skip this step and the final result never turns out quite right

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Pros:

Add everything to the crock-pot and wait

Cons:

None – although I have no patience to wait 10 hours for the stuff to cook

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!

Conclusion:

Okay seriously, this weather and coldness is such a downer. I mean, full on depression over here. The only thing that makes this winter bearable is the hearty soups and stews we have been eating. This beef stew is no slouch and the flavor is perfect. My hubby loved it!!

 

 

We Tried It!  Slow Cooker Beef Stew!
The savory Slow Cooker Beef Stew and it’s photo by Movita Beaucoup

 

 


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Eclectic Recipes has tempted us with the very cookie that’s mere image has been making us break into a sweat since Pinterests great debut.

With chips so chocolatey and a bakery-store appearance that looks like nothing that has ever come out of our ovens; could this be true?  Can we make cookies like this?

 

We think that we’d better give this NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie an official test… you know, as a service for the people.

 

Please click here to visit Eclectic Recipes and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: Chocolate Chip Cookies are the best!! In all their gooey, chocolaty goodness, there is nothing better. It is hard to deviate from the original Tollhouse recipe but this recipe certainly intrigued me. I am a huge fan of soft, chewy cookies. Anything that is crunchy – I am out!

Details:

Please read this recipe a few times before beginning to tackle it.

  • I would certainly consider myself a decent baker but cake and bread flour, really??!! I am not certain my grocery store carried these items. After our crafty friend Sheri did a little research on cake flour, this can be made by sifting regular flour and cornstarch. Cornstarch will give it that chewiness and help them rise a little. If you do not have cornstarch in your pantry, I strongly recommend having some on hand. This stuff is a must when cooking and baking.
  • I did not use semi-sweet chocolate disks or feves (what the?) because I am lazy and did not feel like going on to buy some when I already had chocolate chips on hand.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

To create a cake flour, I used a small strainer to sift my flour, cornstarch and other dry ingredients. This will remove any lumps and mix everything evenly.

I did not refrigerate the dough for 24 hours but did freeze it for about 1 hour.

Keep an eye on the baking times. 18-20 minutes seemed long and mine cooked in about 15.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

Holy smack down, melt in your mouth good.

Cons:

The ingredients and steps can be a bit tedious.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

This  recipe was so worth it! I am seriously refraining from swearing as these cookies are so good.   I ate about 10 in a row.

When I usually make chocolate chip cookies, they usually flatten and look a bit sad. Not these bad boys. My cookies came out of the oven and looked glorious.  I mean, bakery quality glorious! Heavenly music played when I opened the oven door – for real.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies like I never had before – with cake and bread flour. WHAT?!

 

Details:

I followed Angie’s version of the recipe to a “T”.

  • I opted for the semi-sweet chocolate chips that I had on hand vs. making a trip out into the polar vortex.
  • I felt a little nervous about the ingredients and the specific mixing steps. I have never had to refrigerate dough overnight and was not prepared for that time frame so I did the quick chill in our deep freeze for 2 hours.
  • I happened to have all ingredients on hand which is rare. Cake flour and Bread Flour are not in most typical pantries but I admit to being a tad bit addicted to baking bread. Really paid off to have such a tasty addiction!
  • Busted out my mixer to make quick work of putting these together.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Read through the recipe a few times so you have all the steps down pat.

Also, make sure you have enough of each ingredient before getting started. I initially intended to make these for my kids sooner but didn’t have unsalted butter.

Three and a half ounces seemed like a really large cookie so I opted to use a small melon baller to scoop mine which worked perfectly.

I ended up baking about half and freezing the other half so we could have fresh baked cookies whenever we wanted. YUM.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

This cookie has the smoothest texture and a nice crisp to it while remaining chewy on the inside (that is if you don’t over bake them).

The sea salt really comes out and balances the richness.

It was a definite win with my family too. My kiddos gave me many hugs and declared me “best cookie baker ever”. That alone will prompt me to bake these again!

Cons:

I simply had no self control and ate more than I should have.

My advice: sharing is caring. Bring a plate to your neighbors and freeze the rest of the dough so you are not tempted.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

Hands down the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever tasted!

Winner-winner chicken dinner folks.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: I am a chocoholic that is always up for trying a sweet treat!

 

Details:

Well, I made a huge mess, as my original attempt was a fail!  Forgetting an extremely important ingredient… 2 cups of cake flour.  (I blame my printer!) As a result, I had a melted toffee type cake in the oven.

Luckily I only baked 6 cookies from the huge batch so I took another try with the remaining cookie dough!

  • On the 2nd attempt, I simply added slightly less than 2 cups of cake floor little by little to ensure an even mix.  It was pretty tough to mix in but worth it if I could salvage the cookies.

Great results with the 2nd attempt, definitely turned out a little different from the Eclectic Recipes blog’s version based on the photo.  As long as it tastes good, that is really what matters!

  • Other than forgetting the cake flour first time around, I followed every detail of the instructions.  I get nervous when baking not to!
  • Bake at 350 for about 17 minutes.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Wow, this recipe makes a ton of cookies!  Perfect for freezing, I simply froze the majority of my cookies in golf ball shapes and easily bake anytime I am needing a treat.Most important, follow the instructions and double check all ingredients prior to proceeding with recipe.  Baking is much more precise and this tip will save you tons of frustration!

Pros:

Easy as long as you remember the ingredients! Easy to whip up frozen cookies anytime! And quick to bake!

Cons:

Not super sweet.  A bit more cake like than cookie…this was my fault!

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

Overall, my testers liked them but didn’t rave about them!  My sister-n-law, Lisa, stated that it was a slightly different texture that expected but grew to like it with every bite! Ha!

My sister-n-law, Jess said they were good but when she wasn’t grabbing for another…I just knew my oops at the beginning, overall affected the outcome of my cookie!

Once I bake all of the remaining frozen cookies, I will try this recipe again!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To find out if these really are the BEST chocolate chip cookies ever! I am a cookie dough fan, so who’s kidding, that’s really what I care about most with this one!

 

Details:

I rarely make chocolate chip cookies as they aren’t my favorite, and in all honesty, the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever followed is the one on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip bag. Ha!

  • It took me awhile to find the cake flour – I didn’t find it at my typical Super Target stop but eventually found it at my local grocery store.
  • The bread flour and the other ingredients were easy to find and I opted to use the Nestle Tollhouse Dark Chocolate Morsels for these.

I went the simplified route and sifted my flours and dry ingredients with my mesh colander; it seemed to work just fine! I have a paddle attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer, so I set to work mixing the butter and sugars and prepared the dough. It went together easily and was ready in no time – off to the freezer it went.

After a few hours of cooling in the freezer, I took it out and let it thaw for a few minutes before prepping the round balls. I placed the prepared dough balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt. The kids and I couldn’t wait to dive in right after they were done. YUM!!

These cookies have the perfect mix of a crunchy outer cookie and a soft gooey center. The addition of salt on the top was a must for me – I love the mix of sea salt and chocolate! My husband, the non-desert guy, LOVED these as well.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I softened the sticks of butter for 10 seconds in the microwave and then cut it into squares before mixing with the butter and sugars together. It seemed to help it mix quickly.

Freeze the dough for a few hours to prep it and to get baking fast! I love an instant outcome, especially when it comes to desert!

Don’t forget to add the salt into the recipe. I made this dough twice and forgot it the second time. It doesn’t change the taste completely, but I definitely noticed it was missing.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

SUPER tasty! I vote these as the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted, and they were so easy to make! They have the perfect mix of a crunchy outside and a soft gooey inside with the salty addition to the sweet. Yum!

Cons:

I had a hard time finding the cake flour, but I think it was just not at my normal shopping location.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

These are amazing chocolate chip cookies – seriously, I’d actually pay someone for these! Love them and will for sure make them again, and AGAIN!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sheri

Mission: When I saw this pin for NY Times Best Chocolate Cookie I immediately said “game on.” You see, I already make the best chocolate chip cookie…well, according to my in-law family. My twist on the classic Nestle recipe is coveted throughout the family. I just had to throw on my apron and give this recipe a try.

Details:

First thought, “What is cake flour and bread flour?” You see I was raised with all-purpose flour. I wasn’t about to go purchase two different kinds of flour just to try out this recipe so I headed over to ehow.com.

  • For every cup of “cake flour” needed you use one cup of all-purpose flour. You then remove 2 tablespoons of the flour and replace those 2 tablespoons with 2 tablespoons of corn starch. Simply sift it all together and you have yourself some cake flour. Do this. Don’t skimp out and just use all-purpose flour. The “cake flour” is what gives these cookies their fluffiness.

I first combined all of the dry ingredients as instructed: the flours, salt, baking powder, & baking soda. I then set it aside and started with the wet ingredients.

I creamed the butter and sugars for a good 5 minutes to make sure they were well blended and fluffy. I added the eggs and vanilla and then slowly added the flour mixture. The dough came together and I thought it to be a bit dry, but it all turned out well.

Allot time for chilling your dough. The recipe recommends 24 hours in the refrigerator or 2 hours in the freezer. I was really excited to try these cookies so I went the freezer route.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure your butter is room temperature so it creams well with the sugar, otherwise your dough is lumpy. Use your hands to round your perfect cookie.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Pros:

Delectable crowd pleaser.

Cons:

A little fussy for some basic chocolate chip cookies.

We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!

Conclusion:

Okay, they were fabulous. I admit it. They had this beautiful golden crunch on the outside and soft fluffy/chewy texture on the inside. I was going to give some to the in-laws to try but I was afraid they might like them better, and I’ve mastered my recipe (quicker & easier).

 

 We Tried It - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!


The drool-worthy
NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie and it’s photo by Eclectic Recipes

 


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U Create has a sweet Valentine for crafters of all abilities with the Stitchable Conversation Heart.  They made it even easier by providing a free template for your project!

 

A cute and easy project that will add a little touch of Cupid’s magic to our homes?  Count us in!

 

Please click here to visit U Create and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To make darling “grown-up” Valentine’s Day cards for my favorite people using my favorite fabric, felt!

 

Details:

  • I was in need of felt for this project and also to update my felt rosette wreath, so I picked up several sheets at my local JoAnn.
  • I also picked up some blank greeting cards so that I could adorn them with the felt hearts to make grown-up valentines.
  • I had needles and dental floss at home, so was all set to start once I got back with the materials.

I can’t wait to get these mailed out to my friends and family – snail mail is one of my favorite ways to let people know you love them.

Share the love – xoxo!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I first cut out the felt heart shapes using the method of folding the felt in half-length wise and then cutting a heart shape. Each of my hearts is unique in shape and I love that aspect!

I tried marking the stencil pattern onto my felt, but it wasn’t working well with my pencil, so I decided to go the free hand route using just my needle and floss thread. Though my stitched lines don’t look perfect and aren’t nearly as cute as the free stitch-able print, but I feel it adds to the handmade cuteness of these Valentine’s Day cards!

If you did want to use a stencil, a chalk pencil would come in handy!

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!

Pros:

Easy to do and pretty quick when it came down to prep and finish time.

Plus there are so many options on how to create these and you can personalize them for your valentines.

Cons:

I don’t see any – such a great way to spread love. 

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!

Conclusion:

They are so darling and I am excited to have created homemade Valentine’s for my loved ones.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: Whip up a little Valentine’s decor for my home and my honey.

 

Details:

  • I used some left over felt from our Felt Rosette Wreath project.
  • My plain white cloth came right out of my scrap bin.
  • I grabbed my frame from the clearance aisle at Target a few months back!
  • I chose white embroidery thread, which I also had on hand!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!The hardest part about this project for me, was cutting out a normal looking heart.  I don’t recall failing this part of kindergarten, but I must have.

I chose “XOXO” as my convo and used a basic back-stitch as Kari from U Create did.  I thought I would be safe free-handing my writing, however sort of wish I would have stenciled it due to my anal retentive tendencies.

Embroidery thread is made up of 6 tiny strands.  I used 3 strands for the outline of my heart, and the full thread for my “XOXO”.

To finish my piece, I simply taped my fabric over the glass part of my picture frame and put it back together!  Wah-lah!

If I did it again, I would have ironed the fabric before putting it into the frame.

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!

Pros:

A super easy and speedy project that adds a little V-day flare to your home!

Cons:

When making this project I accidentally thought about Cupid and got the damn “Cupid Shuffle” stuck in my head for the next 4 days.

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!

Conclusion:

I liked this project!  There are so many ways to make it your own, and it’s easy enough for all skill levels.

I love that I didn’t need to spend a dime, and I also like the idea of having an easy project on hand to create cute holiday decor for any season!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #3 – Alicia

Mission: The magic word for me is “felt“. I just love everything about it and have tons of it. I would be wearing felt underwear if I could, but alas – that is another conversation. I am all about creating a Valentine-themed project out of felt!

Details:

In the original post Kari used the cutest picture frames for her hearts. I have a lot of random frames but nothing that really sparked my interest for this project.

  • I decided to use 2 embroidery hoops that were collecting dust.
  • I also had a large amount of linen from some previous projects that I thought would tie in nicely.
  • I used white and red embroidery floss and used a basic stitch.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I would strongly suggest finding  several sizes of  hearts and sayings on the internet to use as a guide. The original post included a link to both, but I could not [for the life of me] get the darn images to enlarge.

I decided to free-hand everything and it turned out okay but using a guide would have been a lot easier.

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!

Pros:

So easy and looks so lovely – Felt is so inexpensive!

Cons:

None – unless you suck at using a needle and thread or cutting.

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!

Conclusion:

This project is one of my all-time favorites. I just love the end result; it was so easy to make and there are so many ways to make them.

I seriously have felt coming out of my ears, so I am super excited to make a few more of these to display around the house. This would also be a great gift for a grandparent or a child’s teacher.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Spread some love!

 
 

We Made Them!  Stitchable Conversation Hearts!
The darling Stitchable Conversation Heart and it’s photo by U Create

 


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This sweet little project looks like the perfect treat for your feathered friends this chilly winter.

By Stephanie Lynn has shared an easy recipe for her Homemade Birdseed Wreath that only requires a few items that you may already have in your home!

 

Crafty yes, and bird-watchers, too; we were excited to put together a special snack for our songful neighbors!

 

Please click here to visit By Stephanie Lynn and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: This was one of the coolest ideas I have ever seen. Use an old cake pan to make a birdseed wreath – Awesome!

 

Details:

  • My Mom gave me this fish cake pan years ago and never knew what to do with it until now.
  • I also wanted to make a round wreath and found a pan at the Goodwill for $1.50.
  • I grabbed some Kaytee Wild Bird Food from the grocery store.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure that you generously spray your pans with non-stick spray. I did not spray my round pan enough and it ended up sticking and cracking.

I also used 4 packages of gelatin for each mold and added a few extra cups of seed more that was noted. The mixture looked goopy after you poured in into the pans. It looked strange and I thought I did something wrong – this is normal and will work out.

Chill for at least 2 hours before removing from the mold, as Stephanie Lynn suggested. I left mine in the fridge overnight.

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed Wreath

Pros:

Open, pour, stir and set – EASY!

Cons:

None – unless it gets stuck in the pan/tin

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed Wreath

Conclusion:

I love feeding the birds and was very impressed with how this turned out. Can I tell you again how cool I think this project is?!

Although one of my wreaths cracked, you cannot tell. I have been waiting patiently by the window every day and finally saw a few feathered  enjoying a snack.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: Since moving into our new home, I’ve learned that birds are fun to watch!  I’d love to keep them happy during the winter months with a special treat, so that they stick around to chirp and eat bugs in the summer!

Details:

This project seemed almost too good to be true!  I only needed a few things:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed WreathI had a little trouble getting the wreath out of the smaller of my two pans.  It was then that I realized that I forgot to spray it with cooking spray.  Dang it!  I did manage to get the wreath out with the ol’ Run-the-Upside-Down-Tray-Under-Water trick and some light tapping against the counter.

The face of each of my wreaths are very gelatin-y.  I think that I could have added a little more seed.  If you find that after scooping the seed into each pan, that there is liquid left over in the pot, this could be an indication that you can add more birdseed.  Mix a little extra in before pouring the remaining liquid in each pan.

The wreaths were a little slimy for my liking at the 2 hour mark, so I left my wreaths outside to get super cold frozen for my own sake.  Hopefully the birds will figure it out!

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed Wreath

Pros:

Couldn’t be an easier project!

Very cute – would make a sweet gift for a neighbor or bird-loving friend.

Cons:

Gelatin weirds me out.  If I make this again, I think that I’ll try it with fruit pectin instead.

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed Wreath

Conclusion:

I loved how easy this project was.  I’m not even sure that it took more than 10 minutes from start to pouring into the bundt pans!
The true test though, will be to see how my birdies like it.  If not, I know that the deer will!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission: To give our feathered friends a fly-by eatery this winter.

 

Details:

I live at Target – seriously, this is no joke. I go there with my kids probably two times a week, as it is one of the easiest places to go with three young children. Plus I always forget a thing or two each time I head there, so I have to go back!

  • I purchased one box of Knox Gelatin, which contained four envelopes of the dry gelatin mix.
  • I used my grandmother’s beautiful gold bundt pan.
  • I picked a basic Kaytee wild birdseed mix.
  • I adorned it with some  scrap fabric I had on-hand in a winter blue!

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed WreathBased on the directions and the size of my mold, I mixed all four envelopes of the gelatin with two cups of water. It sounded like it would be enough and this was an easy step in the process. Once that had all dissolved, I added in four cups of the wild birdseed mix and stirred that until it was combined well. I then sprayed my bundt pan with olive oil cooking spray before scooping in the wild birdseed mix and pressing it in gently.

After the mix had set in the fridge for four hours, I worked hard to get it to release from the pan. I used both my brut strength and a butter knife to convince it to finally release itself from the pan! Once I saw it in its finished form, I decided I should have used more gelatin for my mix as it was only sitting towards the lower half of the mold, but it was all still intact, so all-in-all, it worked just fine.

I hung my darling wreath out on the front porch for our feathered friends. I was even able to snap a picture of some of the birds that came to eat!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I don’t think I used enough olive oil spray on mine.  Be sure to give your pan a good spray!

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed Wreath

Pros:

A reasonably priced way to feed our feathered friends!

I spent $1.34 on one box of the gelatin (contained four packets) and $9.99 on the birdseed.

After seeing how adorable this turned out, I purchased four more boxes of the gelatin to make them as gifts. So, each wreath cost about $4.00 – that’s a great price!

Plus, you can personalize these for your recipient based on the ribbon used or even the kind of birdseed if you know what type of birds like to visit their home.

Cons:

The process is a little messy.

Also, if you do not happen to live in an area that attracts many feathered friends, this may not be the project for you.

We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed Wreath

Conclusion:

I loved how this turned out that I plan to make more of these! Super easy and just plain adorable!

 

 We Tried It!  Homemade Birdseed Wreath


The lovely
Homemade Birdseed Wreath and it’s photo by By Stephanie Lynn

 


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skinnytaste has a healthy version of a lazy-day favorite with her Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili!

This easy meal looks just as tasty as it appears easy to make.

We love an easy dinner, so we couldn’t wait to give this recipe a try!

 

Please click here to visit skinnytaste and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To try out a crock pot recipe in hopes it will become a family favorite!

 

Details:

I love crock pot cooking – it’s low mess, low maintenance and recipes cooked in the crock pot usually turn out tasty. This recipe was easy from the get-go and the ingredients were all easy to find with nothing being out of the ordinary.

  • I got all of the ingredients in the crock in the morning and placed four chicken breasts on the top as noted and went about my day.
  • I let it sit on low heat for 8 hours before taking out the chicken and shredding it up. By 8 hours, everything seemed to be cooked through and the chicken was very soft and ready to go at that point.
  • Once I shredded the chicken, I added it back in and gave a few good stirs to the chili before getting the cilantro chopped and prepping the other fun toppings.

Each of my family members chose their own toppings. I prepped plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, cilantro and chopped black olives. I used cilantro and the Greek yogurt on mine. It was very tasty!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

To turn up the heat a bit, I used a poblano pepper in addition to a red bell pepper.

Instead of using the taco seasoning the recipe called for, I added 1 tsp. of garlic powder, an additional tsp. of chili powder and 1 tsp. of paprika.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

EASY!!! Not much for prep work and an easy way to have a filling dinner.

My daughter LOVED this chili – she went on an on about it as we were eating!

Cons:

It was much more of a stew vs. a typical soup or chili. There wasn’t much of a broth at all, which I really wanted more of.

I think adding more tomato sauce or some chicken broth would help in that area. Or maybe using just three chicken breasts might help as well.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

This was a very easy recipe to follow and overall a good outcome. I’m not sure we will make it again, but it was a great one to try!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: Two of my favorite things in one crock pot: tacos and chili!  I was actually a little scared to try this one though, since I couldn’t quite imagine how these two favorites would taste together.

Details:

I followed Gina’s recipe to a T (mostly)!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Always spray your crock pot’s interior with cooking spray before adding your ingredients!

As I have shared before, my Crock Pot cooks at warp speed.

I went for the “Cook on High for 4 Hours” option and my chili was bubbling in 2.  The chicken was totally done in 3 hours and was falling apart (what I call “self-shredding“) at 3 1/2 hours.  Awesome.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

I’m not sure that I have ever made anything so awesome with such little effort exuded.

I think that the corn, cilantro and added chilies are what give this chili more of a taco taste.  It still tastes like just a really good chili though, so no need to be scared about the combo.

This chili also freezes really well!

Cons:

I would pass on the frozen diced onions next time.  That was not the best idea.  I had a few bites that had hard little onion pieces in it.  I have used fresh, diced onions since my initial run and was much happier with the results.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

We loved it!  In fact, I used this recipe as my official 2013 entry into the Annual Chili Cook-Off that we host each year at our home with our college pals.  We didn’t win, but tied for second!  Now that’s a good chili!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Love a new chili dish especially in this fall weather! And find a chili recipe that my husband likes.

 

Details:

  • We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

    I added one can of red kidney beans instead of two as my husband doesn’t care for too many beans.

  • I had a can of whole tomatoes instead of diced, so I roughed chopped them then added one can of diced green chilies.
  • I used Ortega Taco Seasoning.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use handy dandy crock pot plastic liners for easy clean up. They are life savers!

Pros:

Simple to put together, just dump and cook!

Yummy, meal to come home to!

Cons:

The cilantro, in my opinion, wasn’t needed.

It tasted more like a traditional chili without it and more like a Mexican Tortilla Soup with it!

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

Delicious, and would be just as tasty with ground beef!  I was skeptical about adding the taco seasoning packet, but it had great flavor!

Quick and easy, couldn’t ask for more!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: Put my crock pot to use making this quick chili to warm us up in this chilly weather.

 

 

Details:

I woke up excited to get this going in the crock. I love nothing more than my house filled with the aroma of good food!

  • I mostly followed the recipe minus corn. I am not a huge fan of corn in chili so I just left it out.
  • I also ended up adding 1 cup of chicken broth after it cooked on low for 3.5 hours. I just felt that it was a little thicker than I wanted it to be after adding the shredded chicken back into the pot (I used 4 pretty small chicken breasts).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Watch your chicken! Mine was done at 3.5 hours on low and was likely done at 3 but I didn’t expect that so I was only checking and stirring once an hour.

Once my chicken was done I shredded it while it was warm then mixed it back into my pot. I then changed the temp to just warm because really everything was really cooked at this point – even the onions!

I served it up with Fritos for crunch, pepper jack cheese and a sprinkling of cilantro.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

Truly simple with VERY little prep. The only cutting was the onions. Other than that I had some cans to open and a little mixing to get it put together.

This could be completely cooked in less than 4 hours on low which is awesome.

It would be great for family event or a lazy Sunday.

Cons:

My only complaint is how thick it was before I added the broth but that was easily fixed so really this dish is a complete winner!

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

This chili is bomb and was crazy simple to throw together. Even my bean-hating hubby gave it a thumbs up! I will definitely be making this again.

I ended up freezing a couple of jars and look forward to seeing how it holds up in the freezer too.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #5 – Alicia

Mission: To create a healthier version of chili with chicken – yes, please!

 

Details:

My family does not like beans. Kidney, black, brown, grey – whatever, we do not like and will not eat! The texture is really gross and it turns into gag city around here. I know, I know – beans are so good for you. Blah!

  • I totally skipped over the beans and did not add them at all.
  • I also used 2 frozen chicken breasts instead of 3-4.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe said to cook on low for 10 hours and on high for 6 hours. What the?! That seemed really long to me and especially with chicken.

Mine cooked on low for 6 and it turned out perfectly.

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Pros:

Combine and wait – how easy is that?

Cons:

None

We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!

Conclusion:

Like the wise man Ron Popeil once said, ” Set it and forget it”.   I am all about crock pot cooking! So easy and delicious and this recipe is no slouch. I thought it really had a great flavor and would definitely make this again, minus the beans.

 We Tried It!  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili from skinnytaste!


The yummy
Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili and photo by skinnytaste

 


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Happy Hour Projects has a recipe for Cinnamon Dough Ornaments that will bring back nostalgia of Christmas as a kid, as well as fill your home with the spicy smell of the season.

 

Cute on the tree and cheaper than candles, we couldn’t wait to give this project a try!

 

Please click here to visit Happy Hour Projects and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: A great piece for the holidays, to bring the smell and décor of Christmas!

 

Details:

  • I used about ¾ cup Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce.
  • I don’t have a rolling pin. I used a drinking glass to roll out the dough.
  • I used champagne flutes to cut my ornament pieces!  Easy peasy!
  • Instead of waiting for them to dry, I baked them as Adrianne had suggested.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I ended up using less than the 1 cup of apple sauce since I was worried that it maybe a little more liquid, which was a good idea.

I used champagne flutes for cutters, but you can definitely use your favorite cookie cutters!

I placed mine on a string after seeing Sarah’s finished project to make a festive garland piece!  I love it!

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab

Pros:

Only 2 ingredients, can’t beat that! Easy, and I bet fun for the kids!

Cons:

Wish it smelled up my home a bit more of cinnamon, but not to worry that is why we have candles!

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Super cute!! Easy to make! A fun festive craft to make with the kids and cheap!

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab

 

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: I don’t remember making cinnamon dough as a child, so I thought I better make up for lost time!

 

Details:

I wasn’t too careful about how I mixed my ingredients.  I halved the recipe so I just dumped each of my products in the bowl and mixed; no measuring!

  • One 2 oz bottle of Cinnamon
  • One 4 oz single serving container of Apple Sauce
  • I decorated my little gingerbread people with white, puffy fabric paint and scraps of ribbon, yarn and sequins that I had in my stash!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollabI had planned to lightly flour my work surface until I remembered Adrianne’s trick to using wax paper.  I have never rolled out dough in between wax paper, but holy moly did it work great!  I learned a new trick that’s a keeper!

I used a very thin spatula to lift the cut-outs from the wax paper and then picked off the outlying dough.

I baked them at 150 degrees for an hour on each side as instructed; however instead of drying on a rack, I just turned the oven off and left them in there overnight to fully dry out.

The edges of my little gingies were a little rough.  I just rubbed off the little crispy rough edges with my finger and they smoothed right out!

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab

Pros:

Ridiculously easy.  Mixing bowl to oven in 5 minutes.

Cons:

The cinnamon smell was almost overpowering at times, however left my entire home smelling cozy and festive, so no biggie!

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Even though I’m not a kid, I did enjoy whipping up a small batch of these cuties.  They smell great and are a cute and cozy addition to my tree!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission: To try my hand at a tried and true childhood holiday craft.

 

Details:

  • Again, I live at Target more than I care to admit, but this was where I picked up the two ingredients needed in the dough recipe. I picked out a Market Pantry brand homestyle applesauce and ground cinnamon. I bought two of the 2.37 oz. cinnamon jars.  Once I set up shop, I mixed the ¾ cup of applesauce with both jars of the cinnamon and began mixing with a spoon. It didn’t take long before it started to firm up to the stiffness as mentioned in the directions.
  • I love bakers twine, so that was what we used for the string on the Christmas tree ornaments as well as on the stars. I used all of the stars for a garland that now adorns our fireplace mantle this holiday season. Super cute and I can always catch a scent of cinnamon as I walk by.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollabYou may want to pick up an extra bottle of cinnamon so if your dough doesn’t seem stiff enough, just add a bit more cinnamon to the mix. Plus, you can always use this spice in your baking!

I then rolled it out between two sheets of wax paper until it was about a ¼” thick as Adrianne did. I opted to use both a Christmas tree and star shape cookie cutter for the ornaments. The trickiest part of this whole process was transferring the cutouts from the wax paper to the parchment lined cookie sheets! I didn’t loose any in the process, but it sure was close.

I like a quick end result, so I opted to bake these at 170 degrees for two hours total – flipping them at the one-hour mark. 170 degrees is the lowest temperature my oven will bake at, but it worked great. After removing them from the oven, I dried them on a rack for a full day to be sure they were well cured.

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab

Pros:

Affordable and relatively easy to make gifts for teachers and friends!

Cons:

The dough got a bit sticky and hard to roll after a little bit.

We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

These were pretty easy to whip up, they smell great and bought back memories of my childhood.  I didn’t love making these, but when my kids are older, I’m sure we will do them again!

 

 We Tried It!  Cinnamon Dough!  #thecraftycollab


The lovely
Cinnamon Dough Ornaments and photo by Happy Hour Projects

 


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After making us giggle by uncovering the secret behind “yoga pants”, Bridget from Bake at 350 shared her recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms that made our hearts skip a beat!

 

‘Tis the season to eat some cookies, so we couldn’t wait to give them a try!

 

Please click here to visit Bake at 350 and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: It’s the holiday season and that means fun cookie swaps with my girlfriends. I’m looking for something a little different from your typical chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blossoms. These touch-of-mint treats look like they would get the ladies raving.

 

Details:

The Bakeat350  blog post recipe was laid out quite nicely and very easy to follow.

  • The only thing I did differently was use butter that was softened to room temperature rather than cubing the butter. I find it makes it have a creamier consistency.

Like most cookie recipes, you put together your wet ingredients and then gradually add the dry ingredient mixture.

  • I’m so glad I used my KitchenAid Mixer with the cookie paddle. This dough is pretty thick.

Definitely make sure you chill the dough as stated in the original post, it makes it much easier to handle.

Here’s where I was surprised. I was expecting to be cursing while trying to scoop and roll the dough in the powdered sugar. I was thrilled that the powdered sugar seemed to act like flour and prevented a sticky finger mess.

As soon as they come out of the oven, get your Kisses in. Maybe even opt for Hershey’s Peppermint Kisses!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Soften the butter. I use the defrost setting for 20 seconds. You don’t want to melt the butter.

My boys picked out Hershey’s Mini Kisses…a great thing about these babies, there’s no unwrapping!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Pros:

Easy cookie and I had all the ingredients on hand.

Cons:

My only problem is that in my house, only my son and I eat peppermint.

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Conclusion:

These cookies came out awesome! I’ve brought some to the office and gave some to friends and they all loved them!

Such a great recipe which you can certainly alter a bit with different extracts or toppings. Don’t forget the hot cocoa to dunk them with!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: To find a tasty treat for the holidays…anything chocolate! Yum!

 

Details:

I followed the instructions very closely; I get too nervous not to, when baking!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Need to softener your butter, cut in chunks then microwave for 25 seconds.

Be certain you cut your parchment paper to fit snug in the pan, I learned quickly that it has a tendency to melt/burn when the sides hang over the edge!

Plan ahead since you need to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

Drop the ball into the powdered sugar before rolling, helps with the stickiness!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Pros:

Easy and quick to bake! Only 12 minute cook time!

Cons:

None!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Conclusion:

Yum, Yum, Yum!   These were fun to make and were a hit with my co-workers!  Everyone was raving about them, so I had to share the recipe!

Perfect treat to make for the holidays!  Mint and chocolate, yum!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #3 – Alicia

Mission: Christmas cookies are the best but I am always making the same ones year after year. I couldn’t wait to try this new recipe!

 

Details:

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!This recipe is pretty straight forward and easy to follow.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This dough is very sticky once all the ingredients are combined, so I do recommend chilling the dough in the fridge for at least an hour before shaping into balls.

The fun part is getting your hands dirty!  I highly recommend using a Cookie Scoop – saves a ton of time and mess.

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Pros:

Super easy to follow and make

Cons:

None!

We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!

Conclusion:

I am not a huge chocolate and mint fan. I know, I will probably get a lot of hate mail for saying that. These cookies were actually very delicious and super soft!

Did I mention how much I hate crunchy, hard cookies?! Blah! Not these beauties; they were perfect!

 

 We Tried Them!  Chocolate Peppermint Blossom Cookies!


The yummy
Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms and their photo by Bake at 350

 


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It’s Just Laine has just the way to bring some holiday cheer to your home with her  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars.  

 
These little jars are easy to make and promise to leave plenty of jingle in your wallet for presents!

 

Please click here to visit It’s Just Laine and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To create a beautiful Christmas decoration out of jars and salt- I am in!

 

Details:

  • I had a few random Mason Jar and a glass dish/bowl that worked perfectly for this project.
  • I also found mini trees and figurines at the Dollar Store.
  • Epsom Salt can be found anywhere.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Grab your jars, use a small funnel and fill them with salt.

Use a fork or long spoon to place your trees/decorations in the jars.

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Pros:

I just love this! So easy and cheap to create.

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I am sooooo in love with these damn jars. What a brilliant idea!

I have a few of them on my kitchen table and have gotten so many compliments. I wish I used or had more vintage looking jars, but I am happy with how it turned out.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: I set out to spread some holiday cheer using just a handful of supplies and a creative eye. Oh and a little salt!

 

Details:

  • I ended up using Coarse Kosher Salt instead of Epsom Salt because that is what I had on hand. I imagine Epsom Salt would have been a little finer and maybe looked a bit more fluffy but the Kosher Salt worked fine.
  • I had a hard time finding really tiny trees so I feel like even the small one I found felt big and took up most of the jar. I found the trees and boy pulling the sled at the local Jo-Ann.
  • I scrounged up a jar which was not as “old” and vintage as I would have liked but it did the trick.
  • I also decided to venture out a little and use a cake stand for an additional mini display for my collectible angels.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Playdough or clay comes in handy with this little project. The inside of my jar and the bottom of my cake stand were not level so I used a little squashed up playdough on the bottom of my figures and trees to help them stay put and level them out a bit too.

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Pros:

QUICK! It was crazy easy and silly fast putting these cute little holiday decorations together and really the possibilities are endless.

Cons:

Finding tiny little figurines was harder than I thought. I did discover ornaments could make a great substitute too however!

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I will definitely use this idea in my holiday decor for years to come!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I was excited about this project for months beforehand.  I couldn’t wait to create some tiny chilly scenes with that retro look for our holiday decor!

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t pre-assemble your little scene, unless you know it will fit!  I made this mistake not once, but twice.

Speaking of… for the taller jars, I think that a wider mouth works best, unless you happen to build tiny ships in bottles in your spare time.

I used a Needle Nose Pliers to place the tiny items into the jar.

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Pros:

Super easy to make and ridiculously adorable!

Cons:

None, except for the self-inflicted glue gun burns that I give myself  every damn time…

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I am not sure that I could love these little jars more; I love having them around our home.  They will make great hostess gifts for holiday parties as well as presents for friends and family!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To mimic the Anthropologie Christmas tree jars for far less than the cost of buying it through them!

 

Details:

  • I had one vintage blue quart size Mason Jar at home and acquired a second one from my good friend Amanda of Be Crafty Workshops, as she has a plethora of vintage craft finds! I also had another cool clear glass Atlas quart size jar that we ended up using too.
  • With some direction in my back pocket, I headed to our local Michaels crafts store to pick up the mini Christmas trees, miniature deer and other cute finds. I was super excited to search for the items needed for this project as I am obsessed with anything miniature. I have decided that anything is adorable in a tiny form! The kids and I found the last bag of the miniature deer in the store (score!) and also found some cute miniature sleighs to put in our jars.
  • We then walked next door to the grocery store as we were unable to find Epsom salt at Michaels crafts – who knew?!? Well, we came up short at the grocery store for any unscented Epsom Salt…I was feeling dizzy just smelling the lavender scented version, so that was a no-go! I ended up picking up Coarse Sea Salt for our jars and it worked perfect! It still has the snow look and the extra will come in handy while cooking.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If you have young children, use their little silverware to help guide your miniature items in place – I used a child’s spoon.

Know that you can always substitute items within a project – the Coarse Sea Salt worked perfect instead of Epsom Salt.

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Pros:

I spent about $20 total to finish all three jars vs. the $40/large jar that Anthropologie was charging.

Cons:

A little hard to find all of the necessary items for the project, but it was just a matter of making our rounds!

It’s a little putzy to get these together – just do them when you have patience at hand. I would not recommend having your kids help with the actual creation of the project though – it was just too much.

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

An easy to create Christmas decoration project! They look adorable on our shelf and add some vintage cuteness!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sheri

Mission: These jars are absolutely adorable but I would never pay $40 for them. Making them myself? Why not?

 

Details:

I couldn’t get over how easy these were to do.

  • My only mistake was taking my 4-year old with me to the craft store to pick out some trees. He wanted every little animal there. We ended up getting a few deer, although I truly wanted the squirrels. Luckily all the figures were 40% off at my local Michaels craft store.
  • I already had Mason Jars on hand, so this was inexpensive project compared to those jars offered from Anthropologie.
  • I poured in my Epsom Salt first. Make sure you put a good ¾” to 1” in there so you can bed your figures in there well.

Place your figures, top the jar, and it’s done. It’s really that simple.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used a pencil to reach down to the bottom and place my tree and deer just so.

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Pros:

Adorable and inexpensive.

Cons:

None, except cleaning up some spilled Epsom Salt.

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I’ve already gotten wonderful compliments on my little tree jars. They’re wonderful. My kids are already asking to make more. They fit my décor perfectly.

 

We Tried It!  DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars #thecraftycollab


The darling
DIY Anthropologie Inspired Christmas Tree Jars and it’s photo by It’s Just Laine

 


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Sophisticated Yellow has an easy way to class up your glass with her darling DIY Burlap Wine Bag.

 

With the holidays upon us, what better way to add a little craftiness to the time honored gift of booze?!

 

Please click here to visit Sophisticated Yellow and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission: I love to gift, and sometimes the wrapping is just as special as what is inside.  This project seemed right up my alley!

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!When measuring, I thought that by making mine about 14″ x 14″ that I was making the bag taller when really I was just making it wider.  Stick to Natalie’s instructions!

Fiskars Rotary Cutting Set, seriously can’t live without this, especially when dealing with fabric that wiggles around, like burlap.

After sewing my bags, I ironed the seams and made creases at the bottom to help them stand.

To keep my stencils and wine bag as flat as possible, I taped it all down to the table with Painter’s Tape.

When stenciling, it is better to have less paint on the Sponge Pouncer and just continue to lightly tap until the image is solid, rather than have more paint on the sponge and push hard.  When you go with the latter option, the paint finds its way under the stencil and your lines will turn into a blob.

We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!

Pros:

Couldn’t be easier!

I had cracked out 5 of these in less than 30 minutes and the stenciling was done in about 10!

Cons:

The aftermath of working with burlap.

We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!

Conclusion:

Loved it! What an easy way to make a hostess gift just a little more personal!

For the thrifty ones out there, I bet that this project is much cheaper than the wine gift bags that you can pick up in the store.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Attack an easy sewing project that can double as a hostess gift this holiday season.

 

 

Details:

  • We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!I purchased a yard of burlap (just in case and also in hopes I might have a little extra for a runner) that had a black zinnia print.
  • I did decide to try my Martha Stewart Fancy Script Stencils on one for a different look.
  • I chose a white acrylic paint and used a Martha Stewart Foam Pouncer to apply the paint.
  • For a closure I chose grosgrain ribbon vs. twine. I felt like it made it a little dressier.
  • I did not add the corks (although I have a serious stash of them). You could also add bells (if you were gifting during the Christmas season) or maybe even attach a gift tag instead like I did on one.
  • I started by cutting out two bags. After I made my first bag I realized I would like to see the bag be a little taller so when I cut my third I added an extra inch and a half to the height.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

 

Using a rotary blade was very handy for cutting. Burlap is a little messy and can be hard to work with so a scissor isn’t as easy and precise.

Pay close attention to the original post and the way she sewed her corners in. I did my first bag with the bag flat instead of flattening the bag so that the bottom was flat and stitching. It works but isn’t as clean as her version. I corrected this mistake with bag two and three.

I feel like Natalie’s burlap may have been a little softer than what I was working with. It would have been nice to have it look more relaxed but mine worked just fine too.

We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!

Pros:

This project was REALLY simple with such an elegant finished piece.

I would say I am a less than average seamstress so this was right up my alley.

Cons:

I felt like I could have used a slightly longer piece than 14 ¾” which I did end up adjusting. My bag does not fold over like hers does but is still cute. This was partly due to my lack of reading and completely mistaking 4 inches for 1 when she mentions where to sew in the twine. Oops!

We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!

Conclusion:

This is a sewing-for-dummies dream project that will have you looking like Martha in a pinch!

We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #3 – Alicia

Mission: I am all about homemade gifts. These wine bags are so cute and I had to give it a shot.

 

Details:

  • I had a large amount of linen left from our leaf stamped/printed napkin project and decided to use that instead of burlap.
  • Hemp for ribbon
  • I did not thread my ribbon through the material, but wrapped it around the bottle.
  • I also decided not to use small screw eye hooks, although it looks really nice.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The gal at Sophisticated Yellow had measurements to follow for the bags, I just eyeballed it.

I ironed my material, sewed up the bag and then added my stencil!

Pros:

A lot easier to make than anticipated.

Cons:

None- unless you cannot sew.

We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!

Conclusion:

Who wouldn’t love a getting a bottle of wine in this cute bag?! I absolutely love it and  have decided to make a bunch more for housewarming and Christmas gifts. I will try using burlap next time.

 

 We Tried It! DIY Burlap Wine Bags!


The darling
Burlap Wine Bag and photo by Sophisticated Yellow


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Sunny Side Up‘s Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread looks like a combination of monkey bread and a pumpkin spice latte that needs to get in our bellies!

 

What more do we need to say?  This one was going down the hatch one way or another!

 

Please click here to visit Sunny Side Up and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission:  I am a sucker for all that is fall and anything pumpkin. Trying this bread was a no brainer for me!

 

Details:

  • I ended up using some left over canned pumpkin puree that I had from making pumpkin pie a few days prior when we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. Yes…we are lucky enough to get not one but TWO Thanksgiving celebrations in one year. I LOVE it. Hands down my favorite holiday BTW. The only thing you are expected to do is eat, enjoy and nap. Who can argue with that? Okay back to the bread now.
  • I busted out my handy KitchenAid Mixer to do the muscle work in this recipe. Six minutes of kneading by hand is a little more than I am willing to do for a sweet treat.
  • I did decide to use the Spiced Rum for the glaze but since I was on the fence I did half rum and half vanilla extract.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

You really do have to stick with the 6 minute rule when kneading bread like this. I have learned to turn my mixer on and let it go while the timer keeps track for me. I typically set it to med speed if the recipe doesn’t specify.

I found that I didn’t need nearly as much of the sugar mixture inside nor the glaze as what was called for. I would say about half is all you need. I did end up putting a bit of the sugar mixture on top before baking it because I couldn’t stand to waste so much!

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Pros:

Crazy good. Bakery good.

My kids ate every crumb and what they didn’t eat I snuck when they weren’t looking.

I will definitely be making this again.

Cons:

The recipe felt a little hard to follow but I know now that I have made it once before I wouldn’t feel like such a novice the next time around.

It is a little fussy too with the rolling out and layering.

I think you could easily do this in a Bundt Pan and simply cut the dough into chunks then layer it in the pan.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Conclusion:

This bread is definitely part of my personal cook book now and I intend to make it again and again…maybe for our second Thanksgiving!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: I see this recipe constantly on the Pinterest, so I was excited to give it a try.  I’m glad I made it when I did, because it was just the next day that my husband informed me that he can’t handle anymore pumpkin recipes.

Details:

Since I haven’t made anything like this before, I stuck to the recipe to a T.

  • I used my KitchenAid Mixer to do all the mixing.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  Thank God I have one of those suckers.  When the recipe called for 6 minutes, I ran the mixer on low and set my timer.
  • I did add 1 extra Tbsp of flour to the dough as Jessica recommended, since it was a little on the sticky side.
  • I went with good ol’ Bacardi for my rum and was happy when I could taste a bit in the glaze.  I love boozy desserts.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The dough hook – who knew?  That thing was great!  I have never used it before and it worked like a champ.  I especially love how it didn’t blow up a huge puff of flour when I first started the mixer up.  I’m using that thing for everything now!

Clearly I have no experience making bread dough.  I had no idea what I was doing.  What’s an oiled bowl?  I didn’t know and I had too much sh*t on my hands to Google, so I added 1 Tbsp of Vegetable Oil to a big bowl and rolled it around to cover the interior of the vessel.  Then, I dumped out the excess.

I also don’t think that my dough ever got as big as it was supposed to.  I think that “warm place” is more like what I think of as a “hot place”.  I had mine sitting under a very warm light and not much happened.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!To stack the strips of dough, I moved the sugar that fell off to the front of the bottom strip, then used that to help the spatula slide under the next strip.  Does that make sense?  In other words, I sort of used the sugar like you would use flour to lift cut out cookies off the counter.  This little trick worked really well.

After cutting the dough into strips and layering into the pan, I scooped up the excess cinnamon sugar mixture and sprinkled it on top of the dough.  I wouldn’t recommend doing this.  Said cinnamon sugar mixture wasn’t totally absorbed into the dough/melted and was a little sickeningly sweet to eat.

I suggest cooking for just a bit longer than you think you should.  Mine didn’t seem 100% done in the very center.

Even after looking at all the notes, I still didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing for the glaze.  So, I just heated it all up as directed and poured it over the bread.  Side note:  apparently you are also supposed to dump the bread out onto a plate first.  That would be made it easier to pull-apart.  Duh, Maren.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Pros:

I was very impressed with the results!

Now that I [sort of] know what I’m doing and what to expect, I think that making similar recipes in the future will be less daunting.  This was a good first lesson.

Cons:

This recipe took a total of 4 hours from start to finish.

I am more of an instant gratification baker… let’s mix it up, bake for a few and eat it!

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Conclusion:

I now have a whole new appreciation for pastries, especially caramel and cinnamon rolls.  Even though this recipe was very good, it was a little more labor intensive than I like.  I do have friends who happen to love recipes that take such care to make and this one is definitely for them!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission:  Well if you have ever read my reviewer profile, you know I pretty much steer clear of any recipes that involve yeast. It’s all so much like chemistry to me. In chemistry I just sat back and let my cute lab partner do all the work while I recorded the results. However, at the first sight of this incredible looking pumpkin bread I just had to throw my apron on and confront my fears.

Details:

I won’t lie to you, this was a process and it took up a good portion of my afternoon. I read the directions multiple times before starting. There’s a lot of melting butter.

  • Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!I followed the directions to a T… so I thought. I didn’t notice the asterisk notes at the end. I should have added the milk after it was room temperature rather than cold because it would clump. The look of it got a little nervous. It sort looked brain-like, but it worked.
  • After getting the dough together it needed to rise for 60-90 minutes. I waited and waited. I went and picked the kids up from school and came back. It wasn’t rising. “There you have it!” I thought, “Yeast and I don’t mix.” I felt like a failure. Then I realized the temperature in my house was rather chilly. I put on a fire and put the dough near it. There we go, it began to rise. I was slowly feeling a bit more confident.
  • After the dough was nearly ready I began making the super yummy cinnamon and sugar mixture. So easy!
  • I punched the dough down, which was super fun by the way, and then rolled it out. I took that yummy cinnamon/sugar mixture and pressed it into the dough. I then cut it into pieces and layered the pieces into the bread pan (the wrong direction). Oops.

When the bread was done I took it out and put it on a plate. While it cooled a bit I made the sugary glaze. I turned for a moment and then half the bread was gone and my children were eating it all.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Read the directions multiple times to get a good feel of the process.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Pros:

OMG so, so good.

Cons:

Cleaning up the cinnamon sugar goodness I got all over the counter. I was contemplating licking it. Horrible that it went to waste.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!

Conclusion:

This bread was amazing!! My oldest asked if it came from heaven. My other son said he wants to eat it “everyday!” My husband’s first word was “WOW.” The entire loaf was gone in a day and they’re already asking me to make it again. Pure deliciousness. Yeast, no problem.

 

 

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread - We tried it!


The delish
Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread and it’s photo by Sunny Side Up


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CraftStylish has a project that will not only dress up your Thanksgiving table, but will have you embracing the piles of leaves in your yard as well!  
The darling Leaf Print Napkins use real leaves as a stamp in this clever DIY.

 

Since our yards were full and we can always use some pretty holiday decor, we thought we had better give this one a go!

 
 

Please click here to visit CraftStylish and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: What a super cute way to jazz up the table during the holidays. I normally don’t host Thanksgiving dinner so I decided to jazz up my kitchen and use this method to make some leaf dishtowels.

 

Details:

The instructions for this project were done really well. I personally didn’t have a brayer so I just used my fingers and it worked just fine.

  • I decided on maple and oak leaves. I love the margin for variety. You can do as much as you want, and any colors you want.

I won’t lie to you. I made a bit of a mess, but overall it was easy. Just paint the leaves and transfer them to the material.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use fresh green leaves if you can. You don’t want to use leaves that are brittle in any way.

Have a placement plan before you start putting paint on the leaves. You don’t want it to start to dry.

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Pros:

Add your own personality and flare to your dinner table and they’re super cute.

Cons:

I could just go buy a fall inspired napkins, placemats, or dishtowels….for less mess.

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Conclusion:

This little fall project was fun. The instructions were very easy to follow and I really loved the results. It has me thinking, “what else can I put leaves on?”

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: To create a functional piece of fall décor for our home.

 

Details:

  • I chose oyster colored burlap from Joann. It is such a beautiful fabric – so simple with a natural feel.
  • I opted to do the leaf prints on a table runner vs. napkins. We rarely use cloth napkins in this house, so it just didn’t seem functional for us.  Before beginning with the project, I determined what size I wanted to make my table runner and opted to do a 3.5’ x 1.5’. It isn’t huge, but works with our table.  I was stressed out by the thought of working with burlap and sewing it, so that started this project off on the wrong foot for me. I was definitely overwhelmed but it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be! I added a little ribbon/lace detail onto the burlap before sewing a 5/8” border to keep it from coming completely unraveled.
  • After sewing, I put my two paint colors, orange and brown, into bowls and began covering the back of my oak leaves and placing them where I wanted. I ended up only doing a few of the actual leaf prints – I’m such a minimalist with design. I do like how they turned out but know that if I had used linen or cotton that the leaf details would have been more defined.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If the leaf doesn’t imprint as well as you intend, you can apply paint a second time and line it up again for a clearer print.

Keep calm and keep moving ahead!

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Pros:

Overall, pretty darn easy to complete and a cute idea. The leaf prints would also be a fun project with kids on paper.

Cons:

Burlap is super messy! I don’t recommend using it for this project – unless you want burlap fibers everywhere!

I don’t love the end result – it’s just a little too elementary looking for my liking.

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Conclusion:

Using this on our table this fall! We will see how it fares with my littles! It is a darling backdrop to our little pumpkins and gourds.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: Whip up some cute linens adorned with fallen leaves for our Thanksgiving table!  We’re hosting for our first time this year!

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Press your leaves… sort of.  I collected my {green} leaves early in the week and put them directly into a magazine and under a book.  The following weekend was when I did my printing.  The leaves were still fresh and pliable, but they were flat as a pancake, which made them really easy to work with.

Cover your work surface really well!  I covered my table with Kraft Paper and Painter’s Tape.

I placed a clean paper towel over each leaf to keep paint off of the brayer and also off of the runner.  This worked really well!

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Pros:

Totally easy with darling results!

Cons:

Holy hell.  Burlap is the messiest thing on Earth.

This was my first experience with it and I think it may be even sneakier than glitter; I am still finding little fibers all over my house!

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Conclusion:

Great project!  I am really excited about how easy this was to do and how crisp the leaves transferred.  I am already thinking of other items to embellish!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Kristy

Mission: Super cute fall design, but instead of napkins I wanted a reusable bag for groceries.

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Iron fabric beforehand as it was difficult for me to roll over the wrinkles. I was just lazy.

I would recommend painting on a hard solid surface and purchase the brayer as it may give you a more even leaf imprint.

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Pros:

Simple, quick and cute!  Keep your leaves as they look adorable in fall decorations.

Cons:

The paint roller goofed me up, I had to push heavily down and sometimes it didn’t want to cooperate!

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Conclusion:

Cute, fall project!  Must admit it wasn’t my favorite to do but it came out great!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #5 – Alicia

Mission: Fall is my favorite time of year. To create a beautiful leaf print anything, I am in!

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I decided that I wanted to make a runner for my table. I found this giant leaf at the park down the street and thought that I would stamp/transfer 3 of these to the center of my runner. HUGE FAIL!

First – be sure to practice on paper. Second – cover your surface. Paint ran through my linen onto the table. Lastly – get more than one leaf.

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Pros:

My napkins (yes napkins) turned out okay. Had to totally scrap the runner.

Cons:

Waste of material if you don’t know what you are doing.

Leaf Printing - We Tried It!

Conclusion:

This project was a total bust for me. Looks nothing like the original, beautiful post.  I had high hopes and was really excited for this to turn out. I took the time to sew a nice runner and the image did not transfer or turn out at all – so I scrapped it and made napkins out of my remaining linen. Bummer!

 

 Leaf Printing - We Tried It!


The lovely
Leaf Print Napkins and photo by CraftStylish


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If you have been searching for a gourd-free way to give your porch a festive punch, Bullfrogs & Bulldogs has your ticket!

 

The DIY Jack O’ Lantern Planter looks like just the way to get your Fall flowers into a holiday frock!

 

We couldn’t wait to give this surprisingly simple project a try!

 

Please click here to visit Bullfrogs & Bulldogs and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To create a Halloween themed flower pot is right up my alley.

 

Details:

I used the same items that were used over at Bullfrogs & Bulldogs, except for the orange or rust-colored spray paint.  I skipped that step.

  • I had Terra Cotta Pots in my garage – although you could use a plastic pot
  • I picked out some Mums to plant in my pot.

We Tried It!  DIY Jack O' Lantern Planters

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I free-handed a pumpkin image and then drew this on my pot in pencil.

Next, I painted right over the image with the black paint.  It dried very quickly and I felt that 1 coat of paint was perfect. You could certainly download an image from the web or I have also found stickers at Michael’s or Joann that could be applied directly to the pot in place of paint.

 

Pros:

This was so easy and cheap. I had most of the items on hand and clay pots coming out of my ears

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  DIY Jack O' Lantern Planters

Conclusion:

Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday! I just love it. Pumpkins, spiders, bats, witches – you name it, I am in heaven.  The more rustic decorations are what I gravitate towards and this project had that rustic feel. I think it turned out great. My painting skills are not the best but it totally adds to the charm.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: Add some festive charm to my front stoop that won’t be begging to get tossed in the street!

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

It might work better to use a non-gloss finish.  I noticed that the glossy paint got a funky texture on the pots that didn’t entirely resolve after drying completely.  Next time, I would either go for a less vibrant color that could just be dusted on, or use a paint that could be brushed on and then sealed (also with a brush). Patience really is a virtue.  My pots have a few fingerprints on them because I just couldn’t wait to touch them.  This seems to be a recurring trend for me.

I was a little worried that the fresh paint might transfer from the bottoms of the pots to my steps, so I put a cork trivet from IKEA under each one.  Problem solved!

We Tried It!  DIY Jack O' Lantern Planters

Pros:

I love them!

I like the way that they brighten up our front steps while being perfectly suited for a family sans kiddos.

Cons:

It took a lot of paint to cover those pots!  I went through one whole can on two pots and two dishes.

We Tried It!  DIY Jack O' Lantern Planters

Conclusion:

I really like these little pots even more than I thought I would!  They look so cute on our steps.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission:  When I first saw this pin I thought it was a really cute way to spook up the front porch. I was hoping I could get out of carving a pumpkin this year.

 

Details:

Although I found this to be a really cute idea, I didn’t think the instructions were very well laid out. Just paint it?

First I wanted to know what kind of paint. My kids have painted terracotta pots before and when left outside they didn’t last. For a person that is not the craftiest, you need to do some research and find the right products. I went forth and found my own instructions, which of course I’ll share with you.

  • The first thing I did was sand the pot down a little bit. Scuff it up. I then wiped it down with a damp rag and let it dry.
  • Next, for those of you who plan on planting something in the pot, I applied a clear coat of spray paint. This will help prevent the pot from absorbing moisture from the soil.
  • Then the fun part, paint as you see fit. I used an Americana Gloss Enamel Paint in Black which is good on ceramics. A Valspar or Rustoleum spray paint will also work. I thought of painting the pot green and making a Frankenstein but I stuck with the traditional Jack-o-lantern.
  • Lastly, a clear coat. I sprayed the entire pot with a clear coat. After drying, I added a nice fall mum.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Sand and clear coat your pot.

Use a paint that adheres well to ceramics.

We Tried It!  DIY Jack O' Lantern Planters

Pros:

This is super cute and I’m hoping is lasts for next fall season as well.

Cons:

No instructions.

We Tried It!  DIY Jack O' Lantern Planters

Conclusion:

Overall I really love how this project turned out. It really added a little more character to the front porch. We’re ready for some trick or treating!

 

We Tried It!  DIY Jack O' Lantern Planters

 

The darling Jack O’ Lantern Planter and photo by Bullfrogs & Bulldogs


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Urban Nester tells us that she has unlocked the secret of creating that amazing autumn beverage we all love at home with her Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe!

 

There’s no way we could turn a treat like this down, especially when there is enough to share.

 

Join us for a test-run that could take the crockpot to a whole new level of awesome!

 

Please click here to visit Urban Nester and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To find an easy way to recreate the coveted Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte – with a crockpot no less!

 

Details:

cooking - SarahI’m currently living a Paleo lifestyle, so I wanted to adjust this recipe to work for me.

  • I substituted dairy milk with almond milk.
  • I also decided to substitute homemade maple syrup for the confectioners sugar.

Once I got everything ready, I followed the directions closely. Since I was substituting the sugar with maple syrup…

  • I cut the amount to 6T since it was a liquid sweetener vs. sugar.

As soon as I poured in the vanilla extract, I decided that 8T was probably too much – I instantly smelled the alcohol and wasn’t too keen on it. I instantly wished I would have cut the amount down a bit.

  • In addition, based on comments on the recipe post, I decided to up the ante on the strength of my coffee and did about 1.5 teaspoons of the instant coffee I used per cup vs. just 1 teaspoon.

As it cooked in the crockpot, my kitchen began to smell of fall, which was awesome! I loved the scent it left around my home – so festive. This is my favorite time of year, so anything making it feel even more festive is so fun!

Once the latte had cooked for two hours, I gave it a whirl! It was much better than straight black coffee, but it just didn’t turn out as awesome as I had hoped. I have no doubt if I tried it as specified that I would have really liked the end result. I did forget to pick up some cinnamon sticks, so I lacked the extra sizzle those would have added.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be open to trying all recipes – in my opinion you can adapt most of them to work for your own eating habits. Adapting this recipe to meet my Paleo lifestyle worked just fine!

Pros:

Super easy to prep and a fantastic idea for a group gathering.

Cons:

Didn’t love the end result as much as hoped.

It was a bit slimy from the pumpkin puree and it had a strong aftertaste, which wasn’t super pleasant. I’m not sure if the aftertaste was due to the vanilla extract, the additional coffee I added or the lack of sugar.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, I probably won’t try this again as much as I’d like to say I would.

It is a fabulous idea and some may love it!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: A great way to combine some of my favorite things: pumpkin, coffee and time with friends!  The lovely Alicia joined me to whip up this fall delight.

 

Details:

We measured everything out and followed the recipe to a “T”, including the massive amount of vanilla called for.  Good thing I had homemade vanilla on hand by the boatload from last year’s Christmas gifts!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My Crock-Pot cooks at warp-speed, so I knew that this drink would be done in half the time.  After an hour, we checked and it was indeed done!  I wouldn’t cook it any longer.

I would think about adding more (if not doubling) the amount of pumpkin and spices in the future, as well as adding more of the strong coffee and less milk to get that “Pumpkin Spice” flavor that we all know and love.

I’d skip the cinnamon sticks, too.  While they’re a super cute garnish, I felt like adding more cinnamon spice may have been better.

Tap a little Pumpkin Pie Spice over your whipped cream for a little coffee shop flare.

Pros:

Pretty darn tasty after an hour, and very easy to throw together!

Cons:

This needs to be enjoyed as soon as it’s done.  By the time we had gone back for seconds, the milk tasted like it was a little funky.

Then, after Alicia left, I tried adding a little more pumpkin puree and it got even funkier.  Bummer.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

Sweet and a little spicy.  A nice change from the regular weekend coffee routine, although I would cut the recipe in half to make sure that you can enjoy it all before it gets weird.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Nothing better than the smell of pumpkin spice to bring you into the fall season! This is by far my favorite drink this time of year!

 

Details:

Cooking - Kristy

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Refrigerate the left overs!  I read a lot of questions on the original post regarding this and I must say, it was just as good the next day!

I would use a tad bit less vanilla, as I think it took away from the spice.  I will try Pumpkin Pie Spice next time as I like a richer taste of the pumpkin spice!

Pros:

Cheaper than Starbucks and can made in large patches to share!

Cons:

Travelling with this is scary in that crock pot!  Get a large thermos!

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

Mike and I both enjoyed it!  We aren’t coffee drinkers so it was a nice treat to have in the morning!  A couple of tweaks and I believe this will rank higher on my list than Starbucks!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: Kick fall off with a crock of pumpkin goodness.

 

 

Details:

I mostly followed the original recipe minus the whipping cream.

  • I used skim milk and pure Vanilla Extract.
  • For the coffee I used 6 shots of espresso (we like it strong in our house). Since this meant less liquid I did substitute in an additional cup of milk.

I set the timer on my crockpot for an hour to be certain I stirred it often enough. I find that cooking with dairy products in the crockpot can be touchy. After an hour the milk had already started to get a little border line curdled so I decided to give it a good stir and taste it. The flavors had already combined so I turned the crock off and poured a glass.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely cook on low and really watch your time since crocks can vary in temperature.

Pros:

Very easy to throw together and made the house smell like fall.

Cons:

Dairy in the crock is still risky in my mind and after an hour it was heading into bad places which proved my theory right.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

If I made this recipe again I would change a few of things. I would reduce the amount of vanilla. The flavor was far too intense. I would say half would be enough. I would also reduce the cook time and strain the liquid before serving. The pumpkin seemed to just settle at the bottom which was kind of gross.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #5 – Alicia

Mission: To create a yummy beverage for fall/cooler weather at Maren’s house. Who doesn’t love spice lattes and going to Maren’s?!

 

Details:

Cookin' MH + AWWe stuck to the ingredients just as they were recommend by Urban Nester, even the ½ cup of vanilla extract – really?!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This recipe is as easy as it sounds. Add everything to the crockpot and heat on high for about 2 hours.

Maren and I thought 8Tbsp or ½ cup seemed like a lot of vanilla extract, but oh so good.

We also thought that the pumpkin flavor was not as noticeable and adding a bit more was definitely needed.

Pros:

This was deliriously delicious and it makes a huge batch.

Cons:

Large crockpot needed or cut the recipe in half.

We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

Conclusion:

I am not a coffee drinker. If I do indulge in a cup, it is severely flavored with cream and sugar with a splash of coffee. Maren was so kind to invite me over and try this recipe. It was delicious and tastes even better when chatting with a friend. We laughed and giggled our way through this recipe and it was a success! I will definitely make this again.

 

 We Tried It - Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes!


The lovely
Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes and photo by Urban Nester


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Bliss at Home has shared an easy way to turn furniture that’s drab into something truly fab with their How to Spray Paint Furniture tutorial!

 

We love finding easy ways to spruce up our homes, so we couldn’t wait to get our spray on!

 

Please click here to visit Bliss at Home and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: When I found out that this project was chosen, I jumped for glee until my hubby put the kibosh on painting our lovely night stand. Phooey! I settled for a chair to paint instead and will wait until he goes out of town to tackle the night stand. Ha!

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

With the weather being hotter than Hades and this ridiculous humidity that blows my hair into a brillow-pad fuzz ball, it was not very conducive for spray painting. I went with it anyway. I would suggest waiting until the weather is a bit cooler to take on a painting project.  Cooler weather= faster drying times.

The original post suggests sanding and applying a clear gloss top coat. I did a half ass job of sanding and did not use a top coat. Totally optional, in my opinion.

Be sure to start painting in a well ventilated area and cover your space to protect from random flying paint.

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Pros:

This was seriously super easy!

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Conclusion:

I am totally in LOVE with my chair and the red is so bold and bright. I was pleasantly surprised on how easy and cheap this project came together. Such a huge difference in what a little paint can do. Can’t wait to start painting more things – with the hubby’s approval of course. YEAH RIGHT!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Turn something old into something beautiful using spray paint!

 

 

Details:

  • I purchased this adorable little shelf at the Goodwill to hang in my daughter’s room.
  • For paint I chose Krylon ‘Dual’ Gloss White Paint and Primer which is a paint and primer in one. One less step! Yeah! This worked for me since I intended to have more of a worn or antiqued look to my piece (it was already very loved in life and clearly wasn’t going to ever look brand new).
  • I used the same sanding sponge used in the original post by Bliss at Home. I personally use this time of sanding tool often. It can be washed for reuse and works for so many different projects! I did add a little twist to my project.
  • After two very light coats of paint I sanded then applied a light layer of stain (then wiped it off after a couple of minutes) to give it an older look. I used Cabot Limed Oak Interior Oil Stain purchased at my local hardware store. I let it dry for 24 hours then applied Minwax Semi Gloss Polycrylic Protective Finish. This was my first time working with Polycrylic Protective Finish and I have to say I am in love! It won’t yellow over time like a lacquer and it is water based. Win-win! I chose the clear semi-gloss option. Sometimes I feel like high gloss makes it high maintenance.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t spray paint in extreme heat. It is just bad for your health and takes longer to dry.

Also, when working with Polycrylic Protective Finish do not shake the can. It is important to simply gently stir instead. If you shake the can you may create air bubbles. Apply with a brush (sponge or bristle – I chose bristle) in thin layers. It dries quickly so you can reapply several times for added protection.

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Pros:

The spray paint really saves time since it cuts down on dry time as well as application time.

I loved this because it allowed me to get a little intricate with my additional stain application.

Cons:

None!  I just love how this piece turned out!

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Conclusion:

This style of painting could be used on so many things. I can’t wait to discover the next hidden gem at our local thrift shop!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Give my bedroom furniture a complete makeover!

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be sure to prime or sand before you spray!  My husband tried to help and began the project without me.  The paint ran right off the piece without any primer for it to stick to!

Sand out all the imperfections!  Well most, as I still see a few of them!

Paint then leave it alone!  My problem is that I want it to be so perfect!  In reality, once you put this piece in your room and add your décor to it…it will look fabulous!  I love how both of my painted pieces came out!

Beware of the overspray, I have a black spotted garage floor!  Be sure to put down newspaper or a drop cloth to catch the spray!

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Pros:

So many color options!

An inexpensive change!

Quick, this paint dries quickly!
Totally transforms a room, great for staging!!

Cons:

The stress of the end result!  I had to keep telling myself, “If I hate it, I will just have to break down and buy new furniture!”

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Conclusion:

I have tried spray painting and can/brush painting, both had a process that drove me crazy but both gave me the results I wanted in the end!  I found the spray painting to be quicker but the can/brush paint to be cheaper!  Just give it a go, either method… and get creative because you’ll love it!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Maren

Mission: I love making old, new again!  I couldn’t wait to try a new method to painting furniture, especially since this one promised to please the OCD in me!

 

Details:

I found most of the same items that Kristin used in her posting with a few of my own additions.  I had a cute hand-me-down bench in our vestibule that was just dying for some color.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Number 1, always cover your work surface!  I have painted the driveway, garage and my car before and it only took my learning this lesson several times before I now automatically take an old sheet and tape it down over the ground before I start anything else.  It’s really important that you use Duct Tape or something strong to secure all the edges in case a strong breeze comes along – you don’t want the sheet to blow onto your wet paint.

I learned that when you have a piece like mine, where you have to spray at so many different angles, you’ll have paint that dries in the air and falls like dust. Be sure to use the Microfiber Cleaning Cloths to gently remove any dried paint mist before applying the next coat.

If you can, move the piece around so that you can paint at different angles.  This will ensure that you get even coverage and don’t miss a spot!

Be patient.  This project took me a few days to complete, but it was worth it!  I have screwed up too many projects from being impatient.

Don’t panic when the Minwax Satin Polycrylic Protective Finish goes on and it doesn’t look perfect… because once it’s dry, it will be!  I nearly screamed in horror after my anal retentive spray painted finish had ridges showing after I brushed on the polycrylic, however found myself kissing the can after I check in again and it was dry and back to that OCD look that I love.

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Pros:

This piece is GORGEOUS!

I have received many compliments not only on the end color, but in the immaculate finish.  It’s flawless.  I am so proud of myself!

Cons:

When I ordered the Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Turquoise, I noticed extra Liquitex Nozzles popping up everywhere in my search.  Now I know why… this paint, although absolutely stunning, is a huge pain in the ass.  I went through 4 nozzles with 2 cans of paint.  I wanted to scream.

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Conclusion:

While I did use quite a bit of product, the results exceeded my expectations.  I am so happy with my little bench!

I am also now a HUGE fan of the Minwax Satin Polycrylic Protective Finish.  I had never used a product like this before and was incredibly impressed with the results.
I cannot wait to get to spray painting another piece!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sarah

Mission: To bring my weathered front porch wicker chairs back to life!

I purchased two naturally stained wicker chairs for our front porch in 2006 from Pier One. We’ve since lived here for over seven years and they have definitely seen better days. It was time for a facial for these darling chairs and this DIY spray paint fix was just the ticket!

Details:

  • I used Rust-Oleum 249058 Painter’s Touch Multi-Purpose Primer in Red, ooops!  Little did I know, when I bought my spray paint, I had purchased the only spray paint primer available which was red and made for a dark spray paint. Luckily, the rust color of the primer covered just fine with the pale yellow topcoat that I chose next, so I had nothing to worry about.
  • I searched for the perfect spray paint color to coordinate with our house and the darling DIY pillows I had just finished (stay tuned for a future post about these!). I chose Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Multi-Purpose Spray Paint in Satin Strawflower. It was the perfect hue to go with the soft tones of our home and was a great compliment to our olive green siding.
  • I found a piece of 120-Grit Sandpaper in our garage which I used to softly clean off the flaking wicker. That only took a few minutes to do and I made sure to cover the backs, seats and underneath the chairs and then gently tapped them to make sure everything came off so I had a clean surface to begin painting.
  • Because the chairs I was fixing have bronze toned metal legs, which I didn’t want to cover with paint, I placed plastic bags over the legs to protect them from paint. I used all of the shopping bags I had on-hand, along with Masking Tape to get the job done.

After the chairs dried for about 6 hours, I peeled off the tape and plastic bags and then placed them on the front porch to finish drying. These chairs got the pick-me-up they deserved and we have really begun to use our front porch again!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to get enough paint… the first trip to the store!  I did one full coat of primer and then two full coats of the pale yellow topcoat. I ended up having to go back to Home Depot to get more of the Spray Paint as I ran out with half of my second chair left to finish. It was only then that I found out that the color I chose was being discontinued and was no longer available! Eeek! After calling around to other Home Depot stores, I was able to locate a few more cans of the “Strawflower” spray paint and made sure to stock up. Crisis averted!

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Pros:

Super easy once you get going! The end result is just what I was hoping for.

Cons:

Overwhelming to begin this DIY as it seems like a big project!

If you’re like me and pick a color that ends up being discontinued, you may become stressed out for a bit.

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Conclusion:

I’m beyond thrilled with the finished product and love pulling in my driveway each day to see how darling our front porch looks. It sure helps our front porch look inviting!

 

 

Reviewer #6 – Sheri

Mission: With my little guy getting bigger he needs more space for his clothes. I really didn’t want to go out and purchase another piece of furniture, so I found an old piece and figured I would try to transform it.

My only thing I’m worried about is that the piece of furniture is laminate and I’m afraid this won’t work.

Details:

  • This first thing I did with my piece of furniture was rough it up with some 120-Grit Sandpaper. I did every surface very well because I really wanted the paint to adhere to the laminate.
  • Then I waited and waited for a descent, non-windy day so that I could prime each of the pieces. The drawers were easy and the primer applied quickly.
  • I waited an hour before commencing with the gloss paint. By the time I was able to paint, the wind picked up again. I ended up bring the drawers to the basement to paint them. I ended up with blue feet and a blue floor.
  • There was no way I was going to lug the base down another flight of stairs. This is definitely not a one day project. Due to weather, it basically took me two weeks to do this project. I was wishing I could just grab paint and a roller.
  • After getting a good final coat of spray paint on the furniture, I made sure you give it a full 24 hours of drying before trying to move it.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t choose a large piece of furniture. Stick to smaller pieces unless you have your own paint booth and have a full DuPont Paint Suit with Ventilation Mask.

Make sure you stop often to shake the can as suggested on the back of the can.

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Pros:

I love the new look of the piece and the fact that I didn’t have to buy another piece of furniture.

The paint seemed to adhere well to the laminate.

Cons:

I can see every finger print with the high gloss finish.

When bringing the piece indoors with different lighting I noticed variation in color in some spots. I’m not sure if it’s due to coverage or from not shaking the can enough between sprays.

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!

Conclusion:

This project was not quite as fun as I anticipated. I’ve learned my lesson; do not paint large pieces of furniture with spray paint, choose a paint you can roll on.

I think this would work great for smaller projects. One great thing…the paint hasn’t scratched off the laminate, it actually seems to have adhered well. Just keep in mind “where” you’re going to the painting before embarking on this project.

 

We Tried It!  Spray Painted Furniture!


The gorgeous
Spray Painted Furniture and it’s photo by Bliss at Home

 

Check out our first attempt at painting furniture by clicking here!


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My Sister’s Suitcase has a terrific way to get meals organized with the quick and easy Dry-Erase Menu Planner.

 

They make it even easier by providing a super cute printable to pop in your own frame!

 

We were excited to try out this darling DIY and get dinnertime together!

 

 

Please click here to visit My Sister’s Suitcase and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: Let’s just say my mealtime planning consists of making sure I have fresh fruit and veggies on-hand at all times. Other than that, I am extremely inconsistent in planning our family meals and could use some help in this department.

It is my mission to not only create a DIY dry erase menu board to help organize our meal time plans, but then put it to use!

Details:

  • I didn’t have any frames at home that would work for this project so when we were at Target (which is A LOT) I found this cute vintage looking yellow frame that I decided would work. And, it was only $10.00, so it wasn’t going to break the bank!
  • I had already downloaded the free printable menu and tried printing it on some engineering paper we had on-hand from our college days. It added a little dimension to the finished product and I liked the added lines and holes punched in the paper. I printed it out on our Epson Laser Printer and it turned out pretty well!
  • My kiddos craft supplies came in handy for this project as I used their black construction paper and Elmer’s Glue Sticks to finish the job.
  • I honestly felt a bit uncreative with this project, so I opted to follow suit of the example and created a little pendant style flare with the construction paper.

The finished menu board is hanging in our kitchen and I have begun using it, but we will see how far this goes. I love to be organized, but sometimes try to do too much. I am hopeful our family mealtime planning will benefit from this!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Add a little simple flair to make this functional piece personal.  Whether it’s a colorful frame, or a little embellishment under the glass; you’ll love it even more that way!

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Super easy to put together – just need a printer and some craft supplies!

A fantastic tool to help you plan your meals weekly – could really save you a crazy mind if you put it to good use. And, maybe even a few dollars!

Cons:

Not sure I can think of any. Just hope I actually keep this tool in use!

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Super easy to create and a cute addition to any kitchen. Could also be a fantastic gift for a friend or family member.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: I have a problem with buying food with all intentions of making meals, but then end up getting lazy and not making them before said food goes sour.

 

Details:

  • Nat and Holly‘s printable was SO cute, although I needed a horizontal situation – mostly because my handwriting is fairly s#!tty and I need all the space I can get.  I used good ol’ Excel to whip up some custom print outs that met my needs.  I also took the opportunity to make a cleaning schedule since I have been wanting to make one in a really long time – Click on my finished photo for a close-up!
  • I finished my Menu Planner with a little Washi Tape and a few buttons that I had in my stash.
  • I found my super cheap frames at the drug store, and stuck them onto the inside of my pantry door with 3M Picture Hanging Strips (they’re like Velcro) – so I can change what is in the frame as often as I like.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Measure twice, cut once.  Yes, this applies to paper, too!  I wasn’t thinking that my piece of printer paper could possibly not fit perfectly into my 8×10 frame.  I not only had to trim my paper, but I also needed to reformat my printable slightly.  Ooopsies.

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Pros:

There isn’t any easier way to get organized out there.  Trust me, I have checked.

Cons:

None!  Love it!

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Since making this planner, I have found myself sticking to the program!  I think that when you take the guess-work out of mealtime, it really helps to keep on track, whether it’s eating up your groceries, eating healthier, or just avoiding take-out or grazing.  Amazing to me what simply writing our meals down in a place where I became more accountable has done!

Maybe I just needed a little direction, but I love this thing!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Create a fun way to keep track of weekly menu…hoping it helps with healthy eating!

 

Details:

      • Went to Joann for the fun print sheets that  I used for the circle design and the picture frame
      • I had glossy card stock at the office so this is what I printed the menu sheet on.
      • Leftover Mod Podge was used to glue down the decorate circle pattern using a sponge brush. This jar will last me for years!12 Super handy!
      • We had leftover Velcro Stickers and a dry erase marker.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

For the circular pattern, I traced several different objects to get the different sizes.

Remember to cut the paper to fit the frame first THEN add your design if you would like.  I failed to do this thinking that I would have no problem fitting the menu in. I was wrong, I had to end up cutting half of my pattern due to the frame size.

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Easy and inexpensive!  Spent only $10 since I had most of the materials!

Cons:

Mod Podge was a bit sticky, but you can sew or use a glue stick if it is a mess.

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Love, love! Can’t wait to use this board!! You could do this for a number of items around the office or household!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: Get organized and have a quick reference for my kids.

 

 

Details:

      • This project is great because it requires minimal prep and supplies. I purchased an 8×10 white frame from Target (all of $3.99 was spent).
      • Printed off a page using this lovely digital paper kit called Brown Basics from Lori Whitlock on jessicasprague.com. I just love these prints! I used a pretty decent card stock to print on so the colors and shapes were a little crisper. After creating my background I put the paper back in the printer and used it to print my Menu template on. Easy peasy! I decided to keep it simple and did not add any embellishments since my background has a pattern.
      • Using the glass out of my frame and a rotary blade, I cut my page down to size and put it together.
      • Affixed a dry erase maker in a cheerful teal to the top of my frame using the same Velcro Stickers used in the original post over at My Sister’s Suitcase.  Those little dots come in so handy.

Viola! You have the perfect little menu planner with tons of planning potential.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t over think this. A project this simple really is SIMPLE! Just choose a basic frame and look for your paper and go with it.

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Quick, useful and cheap. All things I love!

Cons:

The dry erase marker is a little faint so I may need to switch to a deeper color.

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I think I will use this idea to create a chore list too. My kids need to get more organized now that school has started and what a simple way to do it.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #5  – Alicia

Mission: I am always looking to make my life a little more organized when it comes to cooking for the family each week. This project was perfect for me in every way!

 

Details:

      • The original post had such a cute menu option but I really wanted one that included some sort of grocery list so I could jot down items/notes. I found mine at delish-blog.com
      • Plain 8×10 black frame at Target for $3.99 (I wanted something simple)
      • Mini dry erase markers at the dollar section at Target
      • Cute cardstock and embellishments for decorating as well as some old magnets
      • Velcro Stickers

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used a combination of cutting and pasting 2 menu formats to give my final menu some pizzazz. I would also recommend using strong magnets and hot glue them to the back of the frame so it can stick to the fridge. If you stick this baby at eye level you will tend to actually use it.

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Love- this thing gets used- ALL THE TIME

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Why have I not thought of this before?! What a simple, yet creative idea!

I have purchased a fridge menu planner in the past for about $15 bucks and the thing was garbage!  The dry erase marker ink was permanently stained onto the board and it would not erase. Because you will be writing on glass, kiss those ugly stains goodbye.

This total project cost about $5 bucks for me. You could probably make this for less $$ if you use a frame that you already have. Now- GO AND MAKE DINNER ALREADY!

 

 

We Tried It!  Dry-Erase Menu Planner!  @thecraftycollab


The lovely
Dry-Erase Menu Planner and it’s photo by My Sister’s Suitcase


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irrelephant has captured one fab way to grab that last taste of summer with her Caprese Pasta Salad full of the freshest ingredients in your garden.

 

Easy to make, and easy on the wallet, we couldn’t wait to dive in to this delish dish!

 

Please click here to visit irrelephant and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: To make a delicious and refreshing pasta salad with a few basic ingredients. Potato salad and chips get old, fast!

 

Details:

  • We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollabAny type of pasta works great. I used Penne because that is what I had on hand.
  • I planted an herb garden on the deck this year and I used a few handfuls of sweet basil for this recipe
  • Fresh mozzarella is always best
  • My hubby ate half of my grape tomatoes, so I had to cut mine in half to get more bang for my buck
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar although recipe calls for a dressing.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The recipe states to cool or chill the pasta 4-6 hours before adding the dressing. Yeah right! If any of you know me at all, I have zero patience for waiting. I rinsed my pasta off in cool water and then drained it thoroughly. Next, I popped it in the fridge for a few minutes before adding all the ingredients and dressing.

Pros:

So easy to make.

Cons:

None!!!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

I was pleasantly surprised! This salad has such a light and yummy flavor and will definitely make this again with that yummy fresh mozzarella.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Create a fresh and light pasta dish that would complement any BBQ cookout!

 

 

Details:

  • DSCN8222I stuck with Bow Tie pasta and used Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. It has the perfect balance of tang and flavor.
  • For the cheese I used one of my favorites Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls. I like to have these on hand for an impromptu mommy dinner complete with a nice glass of wine, some olives and crispy crackers (all while sitting in a dark closet where my children can’t find me).
  • The tomatoes and basil were harvested out of my deck garden. YUM and cheers to super fresh eats!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I definitely suggest testing your dressing to salad ratio before chilling. You hate to have a flavorless side!

Pros:

This salad is a cinch to throw together and a serious crowd pleaser. I had family over when I made this and they loved it.

Cons:

None. Not a single thing to complain about or be disappointed in with this dish.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This will now be in permanent rotation in our house. I can’t wait to get invited to a BBQ or potluck so I can serve this to friends!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Perfect dish for a family get together!

 

Details:

  • I am not a huge pasta eater, but love the Bow Tie pasta!
  • Grabbed a handful of fresh basil then picked up a ball of fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes.
  • Be sure to coat the pasta with the olive oil, I think this is what helps the pasta stay moist and soak up the dressing!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Buy fresh ingredients, it makes this salad taste so yummy!

Pros:

Easy and flavorful! Tastes great even the next day so perfect for leftovers!

Cons:

None!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

Great for get together…I love this as a side dish or main course!  Throw in some grilled chicken or shrimp, or simply add-on the side as I did!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission: Caprese salad is one of our all-time summer favorites. I’m a huge fan of fresh mozzarella combined with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. When I saw this recipe I instantly knew it would become a summer staple for cookouts with the family.

 

Details:

  • This was a very, very simple recipe with minimal ingredients. I started with getting my pasta water boiling. I used a whole wheat fusilli pasta because I was all out of my favorite Campanelle pasta.
  • I diced up the fresh mozzarella and I chose to split the grape tomatoes in half making them more bite-size. I sprinkled both with some black pepper.
  • I contemplated making my own balsamic vinaigrette but then decided to use my favorite  Newman’s Own Balsamic Vinaigrette.
  • I combined the ingredients, tossed, and then ribboned the basil leaves and put them in.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a serrated knife when cutting the mozzarella and tomatoes. It keeps the edges nice and clean and not all squished.

Salt your pasta water after it comes to a boil.

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Pros:

Freaking yummy and super easy, using minimal ingredients.

Cons:

Absolutely none!

We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab

Conclusion:

This recipe of course was delicious. Everyone at the party enjoyed it. You can jazz it up a bit more too; I often like to add black olives or diced salami, both keeping with the Italian theme. So if you like the classic caprese salad, you will love this pasta salad. Quick, easy, and delizioso!

 

 We Tried It!  Caprese Pasta Salad @thecraftycollab


The gorgeous
Caprese Pasta Salad and it’s photo by irrelephant


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Ooops!

Hello Friends,Technical Difficulties

 

Our apologies, we are experiencing some techie difficulties today.

 

We will be back up and running as soon as possible with a super tasty end-of-summer dish!

 

Hint: Basil, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Yum.

 

Enjoy your day!

Maren


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Your Homebased Mom has dangled a pretty carrot in front of us dressed as a truly perfect for the season, Strawberry Cream Pie
 
Fresh fruit with a sweet and creamy kicker!?  How could we resist?

 

There’s always room for dessert…

 

Please click here to visit Your Homebased Mom and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission:  Find a fresh new dessert that everyone will love. After seeing this pin I knew I wanted to try it. I love all desserts with strawberries.

 

Details:

There was the post, then the ingredients for all three parts, and then the instructions for all three parts.  I had to read this one through a few times to put it all together, but once I broke it down, it was a breeze.

  • There were instructions for two types of crust. I chose the graham cracker crust (just a personal preference). I started with the crust, which is quite simple; it’s your basic crushed grahams with melted butter. You could even use a store-bought crust.
  • I then went onto the filling. Oh, the filling. I could just eat the filling! Cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and some freshly whipped cream. To die for! Needless to say, I was selfish and didn’t call the kids to come in and lick the bowl. I stuck it in the refrigerator while I worked on the next part…the glaze.
  • The recipe called for “crushing” the strawberries. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about that so I grabbed my mini-food processor and gave it a few pulses. Worked like a charm. I combined the sugar, cornstarch, water, and strawberries and let it cool just a bit while I assembled the pie together and layered the fresh strawberries.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely let the pie chill a few hours before serving as advised in the original post.

I recommend making it for a crowd so there are no leftovers. No need to find yourself, spoon in hand, and head in the refrigerator at 3am (hanging head in shame).

Sheri - Pie 1

Pros:

Crazy delicious.

Cons:

The effect it will have the hips.

Sheri - Pie 2

Conclusion:

This dessert was beyond delicious. My son called it “deeeee-licious” and “the best new dessert ever.”

I will most likely make it again, possibly for Labor Day weekend. I might eliminate the glaze this time around. I found it a little over the top for my liking.  I think the best part of the pie was the filling combined with the fresh strawberries. I feel the glaze took away from it a bit.

Either way, you’ll be licking the bowl, the spatula, the spoon, and possibly your plate.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: I love baking, but I’m still new to the pie thing.  This recipe looked like the kind of things dreams are made of, so I had to give it a try!

 

Details:

  • I love me a graham cracker crust, so there was no question which one I’d pick!  I used the chopper attachment for my beloved Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender to chop up the graham crackers and it worked like a charm!
  • I used three 16oz packages of strawberries – the ugly ones went into the glaze, the pretty berries made it to the top of the pie!
  • I used my pastry cutter to mash up the strawberries for the glaze.  Worked like a charm!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I really liked how the official recipe was broken up into three parts, because that’s just how I made it!  I made the crust the night before, then the filling followed by the glaze!  Easy Peasy!

I didn’t realize that the filling would firm up as much as it did, so next time, I’ll blend on high-speed sooner to make sure that I kick out any lumps (even though you couldn’t tell that they were even there in the end).

Just like Leigh Anne says, stir stir stir that glaze!  I was worried when it had an opaque appearance then BAM! it was perfect – then get that glaze off the heat, because it really firms up fast.  I think that next time, I would use a flat bottom whisk to make sure it’s super smooth.

Maren - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

Holy hell, this was amazing.  We’re talking, eat-until-you-feel-like-a-contestant-in-a-pie-eating-contest amazing.  Um, that’s just what I heard.

Cons:

If one did eat this every day for a week, per se, I wonder if her pants would fit the following week?

Maren - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

This pie is the most perfect combination of sweet and fresh that is perfect for any summertime gathering.  I cannot wait to make this again.

The cream filling is actually so lightly sweet and perfect, that I think that I may either cut the glaze in half next time, or omit it all together.  The filling, graham cracker crust and fresh strawberries are simply perfect.  The glaze is the kick in the pants!

 
 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: This just looked absolutely scrumptious! Always looking for a sweet treat and I don’t make many desserts especially pies, so it looked like it was worth trying!

 

Details:

  • Ok, I will admit, I cheated…I bought a store-bought graham cracker crust!  Well worth it to me, I bought an extra-large 9inch crust.
  • I bought two crates of fresh strawberries! Yum!
  • I got to break out my handy KitchenAid Stand Mixer for the filling!  I wish I used it more!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This was my first time making a glaze, I was a little intimidated!  When it becomes a red clear mixture it’s done and be sure to stir, as I had my heat on too high and I definitely had a sticking issue.

Follow the 3 hours of chilling process, as I didn’t chill this long and you can tell when you slice into the pie.

Kristy - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

This is one top ranking pies!

I served it to Mike’s family, they were actually fighting over the last pieces of pie!

Easy and delicious!

Cons:

None!

Kristy - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

Definitely worth making!! This could even be made as an individual serving in a mini muffin tin for parties!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Janet

Mission: Make a dessert fit for a summer family gathering.

 

 

Details:

  • I made a homemade pie crust and purchased the rest of the ingredients from the grocery store.
  • Strawberries were on sale that week, thankfully, because I bought about 4 pints. I only used two pints for this recipe, though I did go through all of them to pick out the smallest and most ripe ones for the filling.

For once I didn’t stray from the ingredients list!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I always wondered if pie weights are actually useful, and after baking a bottom crust without filling in it, I figured out why. My crust bubbled up on the bottom, but it didn’t affect my pie too much. Make sure to prick the bottom and sides with a fork to prevent this from happening or invest in some pie weights.

Make your crust and glaze first and let those both cool down to room temperature before putting in the cream filling. Once you get the filling in, let it set in the fridge for about 10 minutes before putting in the berries.

Don’t be afraid of homemade whipped cream…trust me when I say it is SO EASY! Put a medium-sized bowl in the fridge overnight to cool, then take your cup of heavy whipping cream and whip away! Mine seemed to take a while to thicken, so I put ice and some cold water in a bigger bowl, placed my medium bowl over the ice, and it thickened in a snap!

Janet - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

DELICIOUS!!

I brought it to a family get-together and it was gone in no time. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and I was especially happy I didn’t have to take tempting leftovers home!

Cons:

No bad review for this recipe!

Janet - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

A great summer dessert recipe! I received wonderful reviews from my future family-in-laws, one aunt even said it reminded her of a strawberry pie she had when she was younger.

I thank Your Homebased Mom for helping me impress my future-in-laws with this recipe!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Amanda

Mission: Bake a sweet treat for my in-laws.

 

 

Details:

  • Sadly our local strawberry patch did not have berries at the time I was ready to make this. Mother Nature really put a damper on things like berries this year! I went with good ole’ grocery store berries. They were just fine (although not nearly as aromatic).
  • I decided to make the graham cracker crust instead of the traditional pastry crust. Let’s face it; graham cracker crust is a WHOLE lotta easy compared to a pastry crust. Next time I think I would pulse a few pretzels into my graham mixture to add a salty-sweet twist and may reduce the amount of sugar used in the crust. I found it to be a little sweeter than I would like with all the other sweetness happening in the pie. This could be due to the graham crackers I used (I only had the Honey Maid Lil Squares on hand).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I didn’t have enough berries. Buy at least 3 packages (to be safe 4) so you have a berry-licous pie.

When whipping your cream be careful not to over whip! I let my stand mixer do the work but didn’t realize how quickly it would be ready and ended up with lumpy whipped cream. I decided to pitch that batch and start over. Lesson learned.

Also, follow the instructions on the crushed strawberry layer. I should have put the corn starch in the water instead of just mixing it all together. I had to work out a few lumps.

Amanda - Strawberry Pie 1

Pros:

Beautiful, crowd-pleasing and finger licking GOOD!

I love this recipe because you can do it in stages. I started with the crushed strawberry layer then let that chill overnight. Then I made the crust and whipped topping and threw the whole thing together. We didn’t actually eat it until the next day and it was good to the last bite (or lick of pie plate in my case).

Cons:

I found the layout of how the recipe was written in the print out to be a little confusing. I am used to reading it the way you make it and it seemed like there was something missing because it was segmented out the way it was.

Amanda - Strawberry Pie 2

Conclusion:

I will definitely be making this again, especially after working out a couple of kinks. My in-laws LOVED it and so did I. I highly suggest making this when you have company. It will prevent you from eating it for every meal.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #6 – Alicia

Mission: I hate making pies – just not my thing. Making a crust that never turns out really upsets me! I saw this recipe for easy Strawberry Cream Pie with 2 crust options – Let’s give it a whirl.

 

Details:

  • My Mother-In-Law has beautiful Strawberry bushes and has been sending us quarts and quarts of them. Perfect for jam and pie!
  • I choose to make a graham cracker crust versus the pastry crust
  • While the crust was baking, I whipped up the cream filling and popped that in the fridge to chill and then moved onto the glaze section of the recipe.
  • Your layering technique does not have to be perfect, unless you are entering it in a pie contest.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be sure that the glaze is completely cool before spooning it over your pie. I got very impatient waiting. Once the first spoonful of delicious glaze hit the creamy goodness, it started to melt and ooze over the pan. I put that bad boy back in the fridge to set and it helped a lot. Note to self, have more patience!

Alicia - Pie 1

Pros:

Each layer tastes heavenly.

Cons:

None!!!

Alicia - Pie 2b

Conclusion:

Holy Shabingo!!! This is the best thing I have every tasted – seriously! The graham cracker crust, creamy filling and glaze – YUM! My husband said “Oh my. This is the best dessert you have ever made”.

Seriously – MAKE THIS PIE! Also – my pictures do not do this any justice. Please ignore that and try it!!!

 

 Strawberry Cream Pie Conclusion


The tantalizing
Strawberry Cream Pie and photo by Your Homebased Mom


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This Little Life of Mine has the cure to the ever popular, “Mom, I’m bored” heard from time to time in homes across the entire universe. 
Her darling Sandpaper and Crayon Transfer Designs use only one electronic device, and it’s not a computer!

 

We are always on the hunt for creative and fun activities to do with our little ones.  As the summer hours tick away, we thought we better test this clever project out stat!

 

Please click here to visit This Little Life of Mine and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: Who knew that sandpaper, crayons and an iron would create a fun project for my crazy kiddos?! What a creative idea!

 

Details:

We rolled up our sleeves and dove right into this project.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I would recommend using old crayons like Amnah mentioned, because the sandpaper will really wear them down.

Make sure you push down on the crayons and color hard on the sandpaper to make sure the transfer is vibrant.

Also, remember to run the iron over the sandpaper and cloth a few times to make sure image has transferred. I made the mistake of not doing this and had to go back and re-do it.

Caution- sandpaper and shirt are hot!!!!

Alicia - Sandpaper 1
Pros:

What a great idea!

The kids were super excited to see their masterpieces. In fact, my Son told me that we need to make “Hundreds” of them.

Cons:

If your coloring is light, it is hard to see it on the shirt.

Alicia - Sandpaper 2

Conclusion:

This is a great craft project for any age! My kids had a blast creating their T-shirts and have been hounding me to make more. They also informed me that they prefer to wear these shirts to bed over their regular PJ’s.  Oh boy!!! (Insert eye roll). I might also mention that they are still currently wearing their T-Shirts and it is the next day. This will be a long, stinky week!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Keep my daughter busy with a craft she can proudly wear!

 

 

Details:

  • I purchased a white, cotton V-neck shirt from Target (my favorite place to find cheap but quality kids clothes).
  • We used Crayola Crayons and medium grit sandpaper.

I instructed my daughter to choose a design that didn’t have any letters or numbers (since they would be backwards) but let her have creative freedom over the design otherwise. She went at it!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Choose crayon colors that are deep and vibrant. It seemed like the lighter and even medium tones didn’t really show as well.

I cannot stress enough that it is really important to color heavily on the sandpaper in order for the transfer to come out clear.

Amanda - Sandpaper 1

Pros:

This project is SO perfect for a rainy day or a project on the fly.

We almost always have sandpaper on hand and you could really use any lightly colored shirt or surface (think pillow cases or canvas bags).

Cons:

Our design wasn’t as bright as expected and even though I did the additional blotting with the paper towel and 20 minutes in the dryer to “set” the color, it still ended up on the sleeve and back of the shirt.

Amanda - Sandpaper 2

Conclusion:

This would be a really fun activity for a birthday party and then the kids could take them home as the favor. We will definitely do this again!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission: To find a fun craft project the kiddos and I can do together!

 

Details:

sandpaper_6_afterironThis project called for minimal elements, which always makes for a good kid project.

With the three kiddos, we have a TON of crayons in this house, so it was a given that we’d try this one out. My husband said we had sandpaper in the garage, but I could find it NOWHERE – go figure! And, the kids and I decided we’d do the project on canvas bags, so we visited our local JoAnn Fabrics store to find blank canvas bags and sand paper.

  • We chose tan canvas bags and found 240 grit sand paper – who knew you can find sand paper at a craft store!

The kids began the project by coloring on their sheets of sand paper – the only ones that JoAnn Fabrics had were pretty small, so the art area wasn’t too large.

I used the third sheet of sand paper to color an “M” and “S” for the kids bags.

When the kids were done with their images, I set to work ironing them onto the bags.

I had my iron on the hottest setting and set a piece of cardboard under the bag as recommended. I also used an old t-shirt on top to protect the sand paper from the heat. After about a full minute of ironing over the image area, I removed the sand paper to see how the image transferred. It wasn’t as amazing as we all had hoped. The colors were very muted and the image wasn’t very crisp.

After we were done, the kids set to work on stuffing their new bags with goodies. They are obsessed with bags these days – always filling them with toys, books, and trinkets and taking them with us everywhere!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

In hindsight, the kids didn’t push very hard when coloring, so maybe that would have helped?

Sarah - Sandpaper 1

Pros:

Purposeful item when complete – who can’t use a bag!

If the kids get tired of these, they are great for heading to the grocery store.

Cons:

The colors were very muted and the image wasn’t very crisp.

Sarah - Sandpaper 2

Conclusion:

Though a fun project for the kids to try, we didn’t have great end results, so I’m not sure that I’ll have us try it again.

I am curious as to whether using a different sand paper grit weight would bring about a better end result.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission:  I love finding fun crafts for the kids that inspire their creativity. This looked like the perfect little project, most especially for my oldest who LOVES to draw.

 

Details:

One thing I loved about this project is that it was very inexpensive and it gave the kids the chance to express themselves.

They were first surprised about sandpaper. “You mean it’s like sand on paper?”

My son decided to draw a sting ray. He was excited for our upcoming trip to the aquarium. I made sure he pressed down with above moderate force to get the crayon wax embedded into the sand.  As noted in the post, letters and numbers get transposed, do them backwards.

After he did all of his work, I went forth and did mine. I warmed the iron up on the highest setting. I found some cardboard and followed Amnah’s directions precisely. I did at least ten strokes with the iron over the design.

It transferred better than I thought it would. I then set it by putting two paper towels over the design and ironing it again. This really does help pull up any extra wax.

Into the dryer it went for 20 minutes and then onto my boy. He was thrilled to see his own design on his shirt.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Press down and really get the wax into sandpaper.

Sheri - Sandpaper 1

Pros:

The smiles were priceless.

The fact that it wasn’t a messy project, even better.

Cons:

Not sure how many washes it will hold up to (one wash and we’re still good).

Sheri - Sandpaper 2

Conclusion:

This was a fun project. My oldest already has more ideas of designs he wants to make. I better get some more sandpaper.

What I personally love about it the project is that it was inexpensive and it wasn’t messy. I also love seeing the creativity and the personal representations of themselves in their artwork.

 

 Sandpaper Conclusion


The darling
Sandpaper and Crayon Transfer Designs and photos by This Little Life of Mine


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Looking for some special trimmings for your terrace?  Wit & Whistle‘s darling DIY Garden Markers are the perfect way to add some spice to your sunny space!

 

Always looking to add those special touches to our homes, as well as find ideas for great gifts, we couldn’t wait to give this project a try!

 

Please click here to visit Wit & Whistle and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission:  I didn’t really need markers for my herbs but thought these little ditties were so cute.

 

Details:

  • I found oven bake polymer clay at Wally-World.
  • I already had rubber alphabet stamps at home.

Working with this clay is incredibly easy and soft. It felt like play-dough. Easy to shape, roll and stamp.

The directions said to bake your clay at 275 degrees at 15 minutes per ¼” of thickness and do not OVERBAKE.  I totally freaked out over this stage and took mine out too soon, as I have zero patience!  I should have baked them a little longer, as my makers were not as stiff as would have liked. Oh well-lesson learned.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be sure to follow the baking instructions. I took mine out too soon.

Also, measure each maker so they are the same in length and width.

Alicia - Garden Markers 1

Pros:

I can now tell my herbs apart with these beautiful markers-although it is not hard to tell the difference between each – LOL

Cons:

None. Letter stamps can be expensive. Good thing I already had some!

Alicia - Garden Markers 2

Conclusion:

What an inexpensive and quick project. I loved how they turned out and it took my less than an hour to create-including baking times.

The shapes of my markers were not exactly uniform and my stamps were a little hard to read (OCD much), I am okay with that. Cilantro and Basil, here we come…….

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Janet

Mission:  Make herb markers as a gift.

 

 

Details:

I loved this craft as soon as I saw it on Pinterest!

I couldn’t make this for myself as I am not growing any herbs, but decided to make it as a gift for my fiance’s mom.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The clay is very forgiving. If you mess up, just roll it back into a ball and start again!

The stamps I bought were circular, making it difficult to get my letters straight. Before you press the stamp, press it very lightly on the clay to make a slight indent to get your letter straight and spaced how you want it.

Make the clay balls in any size you want, depending on how skinny or fat you want the marker to be.

The clay package didn’t give me much insight on how long to bake these for. I don’t think I baked them long enough as they were still a little flexible after they cooled. I’d suggest baking for a little bit longer than you think to make sure they are done.

Janet - Garden Markers 1

Pros:

Easy and cheap! You couldn’t buy something unique like this in the store for less than $10.

Cons:

The clay package just didn’t give enough direction on how long to bake.

Janet - Garden Markers 2

Conclusion:

I really liked this project, but think I am going to have to make it again to get it right.  I bought a different brand of clay to try for next time.  My markers turned out a little fatter than what was shown on the blog and I want to make them skinnier next time.

Also, since I don’t have herb plants so I might put other words on the markers and use as decoration in my potted plants. Overall, the project was easy, quick and cheap!

A great DIY project for all skill levels!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I cannot get herbs planted soon enough!  We just got the final grade in at our new house, so I am chomping at the bit to get gardening!  This project was the perfect way to distract me long enough to get through the sod-laying process!

I am still learning about plants and gardening so having markers will probably be great for me.  I can’t even remember how old I am most of the time!

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

IMG_3557Knead that dough like crazy!  My clay was hard as a rock when I got it, so I needed to knead the living daylights out of it before I could even attempt to roll into little balls.  Once I did though, it was like buttah!  Super easy to work with and really smooth.

My OCD couldn’t handle the rounded edge of each marker, so I used my butcher knife to whack off the edges into a clean line.  Worked like a charm.

I also used my rolling-pin to gently taper the edges of the markers so that they come to more of a point.

I am not sure that I really baked them long enough…  and I did bake them quite a bit longer than the package recommended.  Mine are definitely set, they aren’t going anywhere, but you can sort of bend them a little.  Normal?  No clue.

Maren - Garden Markers 1

Maren - Garden Markers 1.5

Pros:

Amanda from Wit & Whistle was right!  These markers are really cute, and super easy to make.

I loved the end result so much that I quickly cranked out 2 more sets to give as gifts!  Tah Dah!

Cons:

As much as I really enjoyed this project, I think that to do it again, I would need to use a different kind of clay.

While really easy to work with and lovely in the end, the polymer clay left my oven smelling like some kind of chemical drug baking operation that I have been smelling ever since I baked these things.  It makes me fear that if we eat any more frozen pizza this summer, that I could wake up one day with an extra eyeball on my head.

Maren - Garden Markers 3

Conclusion:

This project was so easy, I loved it.  I don’t know what it is about working with clay, but it really is fun!  I love the idea of pairing a set of these with a cute potted herb plant for a housewarming gift to give a friend a start on their own garden.

I can think of quite a few ways to personalize these too, whether it be with color, font, embellishments or even using sassy words or phrases – like “No Gnomes Allowed!”  Haaha!

This is a fun one, and I will certainly give it another shot.  Maybe in Alicia’s oven…  Haaha! Kidding!

 

 Garden Marker Conclusion


The darling
DIY Garden Markers and photo by Wit & Whistle


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DIY Door Mat

Yellow Brick Home has the perfect pick-me-up for your porch with their easy DIY Door Mat!

 

Personalized with your own colors and design, this custom project is calling our names!

 

Please click here to visit Yellow Brick Home and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Janet

Mission: To find out if this door mat project is as simple as Kim (via yellowbrickhome.com) makes it seem.

 

Details:

  • IMG_1787I bought a patterned mat at Target for about $15 and had the spray paint on hand.
  • I printed my words on regular printer paper, cut them out with an X-Acto Knife, traced them onto a sturdy piece of card stock and cut them out again with the X-Acto Knife.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I rolled-up the tape and put it around the edge of each letter, which helped to stop the paint from bleeding.

Unless it is really windy outside, you do not need to tape down the entire thing. Cover the rest of the rug with a trash bag and place a piece of cardboard or paper above the word to stop any extra paint from flying onto places it shouldn’t go.

Spray the paint in short spurts. Keeps the color even and guards against bleeding paint.

Janet - Mat 1

Pros:

A super quick project, plus the fiancé loved it!!

Allows for some creativity by changing the words or their placement on the mat.

Cons:

The words are a little fuzzy (same as Kim experienced) but still are easy to read.

Janet - Mat 2

Conclusion:

I went into this project thinking it was going to be a mess and that I was for sure going to ruin it, but it actually is super easy. I loved being able to use paint and other supplies I had at home. This mat would be stolen as soon as I set it outside my apartment door, so it is making its home on the deck instead!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Create a fun custom door mat that we could display at my in-law’s lake cabin.

 

Details:

I went to the ocean for inspiration, either an anchor or a crab, I chose the crab!

I knew I wanted a large crab to fill the entire mat so a poster board would be sturdy enough to handle the spray paint and be a stencil.

DrawingMike’s cousin, Stephanie, is a fabulous artist and drew out my crab to perfection from the photo I had. She is amazing, so I thought I would be crazy to not seek her help for this project!

  • I had an X-Acto Knife to cut out Steph’s perfect crab then we taped the outline to the mat.
  • I used Scotch Tape to hold the stencil down, and the X-Acto Knife to cut out the crab.
  • Finally, I covered the edges with paper and then tested my spray painting skills…they are coming along little by little.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Careful with the over spray, be sure to spray at a 90 degree angle, you want to hover the stencil not go underneath with paint.

You will see from my final photo that the stencil did not stick as I would have liked to the mat so I suggest using pins to hold or take a great deal more time with tape to get the stencil more snug to the mat.

Tape or pin the pages on the edges, I didn’t and you can see the outline on the edges where the over spray hit the mat! (Paper bags would work for this!)

Kristy - Mat 1

Pros:

Love it, can’t wait to go to Ikea and get more mats to create!

Cons:

Over spray,
I am going to use the tips to get a better result on the next one!

Cutting out the stencil is a bit time consuming…so worth it, I wish my stencil was a bit more reusable.

Kristy - Mat 2

Conclusion:

I LOVE THIS!  Endless possibilities with words, crabs, colors, etc.!  This would be great house-warming gifts or great client gifts!!  I love the anchor idea. I found one on the internet for $30 and I know I can make it for ½ the price! I hope Stephanie is around for the next creation!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sarah

Mission:  To dress up the front door mat we have with a little word play and spray paint!

 

Details:

I have had a simple tan coir mat at our front door since we moved in six years ago – so it was due time for it to get a little face lift.

  • Of course we didn’t have any spray paint on-hand, so I headed to Home Depot to find just the right one. When searching through the color options, I landed on a color called wine. I am planning to spray paint our front porch wicker chairs in addition to this mat project, so I wanted to find a color that could work for both projects.
  • I decided on the word “hello” for my mat. Yes, I know it is a simple, understated and a somewhat boring word, but my brain was feeling fried!
  • I set up shop in Microsoft Word and used the Arial Black font at a 350 point size. I printed out each letter and then cut around each so that I could place them as close together as I wanted on the piece of cardboard I used as my stencil.
  • After each of letter was taped down, I began to outline each of them with my handy-dandy old-school X-Acto Knife. Let me tell you, this step was difficult for me! I had a very hard time keeping steady around the curves of the “e” and “o”. But, no injuries happened, so it was a success!
  • I then tore off the tape and extra scraps of paper and anchored the stencil onto my mat. Using masking tape and garbage bags, I covered any of the mat that I did not want painted. I also added the weight of some of our stones lying around outside to help keep the stencil in place.
  • The small cut out shapes for the “e” and “o” were very difficult to keep in place and I ended up having to just use my finger to hold them steady as I sprayed the paint on. I did two coats of the wine spray paint and it seemed to be dark enough, so I ended there.
  • After about 10 minutes of drying, I gently uncovered the mat to find that my “hello” was slightly slanted downward on the mat. Go figure! But, I still dig it!
  • I then moved it to the front door where it dried fully within 12 hours.

Next time you stop by, you’ll be greeted by a “hello”, even if I don’t answer my door.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Find a solid piece of cardboard for your stencil. The one I used was from a small box and though it worked great, one without any creases would have been even better.

Sarah - Mat 1

Pros:

With patience, this project is a breeze! And, it is a nice way to greet your house guests.

Cons:

Super difficult to keep the cut out shapes from letters in place for painting. I’m not sure of the best way to do this. My “e” almost seems filled-in if you look close.

Could cause a serious injury if you aren’t used to working with an X-Acto Knife or something of the like.

Sarah - Mat 2

Conclusion:

This project seemed daunting to me before I began. It ended up being  pretty fun once I got all set-up and I really like the finished product as it greets me when I enter my house. I just may have to make one for our back entry.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sheri

Mission:  When I saw the post by Yellow Brick Home and her sprucing up a door mat for her husband’s man-cave I immediately thought of my brother-in-law’s garage aka “The Dome.” I figured I could make something fun for the entry way.

 

Details:

Sheri - Mat DesignWhat seemed like a super simple project turned out to be disappointing for me.

  • I could not for the life of me find a PLAIN coir mat. I went to six different stores and every one I found was printed with flowers, flip-flops, or signs of welcome. I figured I would just purchase any plain mat I could find. That is where I made my mistake. I should have ordered the one I saw on amazon.com.
  • My first step was figuring out a fun saying to put on the mat. My husband and I brainstormed a bit and figured “got beer?” would suit “The Dome” perfectly.
  • I set out to make a stencil. Trying my best to match the “got milk?” font as I could, I printed out the text on some heavy cardstock and grabbed my X-Acto Knife. I would love to know where the knife that goes to the blade went. I had to hold the blade directly. What a pain…literally.
  • After some tedious work my stencil was done. I taped the stencil to the mat and went outside with my spray paint.

Here’s where I was cursed for not getting the right type of mat. The mat I purchased had an embossed pattern on it, which made the stencil not work right. As you can see the paint went right under the stencil. I was really disappointed in the turn out. I hate when things don’t come out how I envisioned them.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Order a mat and save yourself time going store-to-store. Also, using a stick-on vinyl stencil might work well.

Sheri - Mat 1

Pros:

I love the idea of the project and that you can personalize it.

With the right supplies you can make a great housewarming gift!

Cons:

Aside from not getting the right supplies, none. This was really easy.

Sheri - Mat 2

Conclusion:

I’m super disappointed in how my project came out. I know with the right mat it would have come out so much better. I think I might order a mat and try again.

Overall, it was easy to do. You don’t need to be a master crafter to pull this one off, just shop for the right mat!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #5 – Alicia

Mission: My front door area was in desperate need of a makeover. A total re-haul would be amazing but not practical, so I opted to update the doormat!

 

Details:

  • After searching at countless stores for a reasonable doormat that didn’t cost me a fortune, I finally found one at Walmart for $6.97- I know, I know. I seem to complain about Wally World but go there a lot because they have everything. They even have a door greeter. Bahahaha!
  • I choose the saying “hello” in the font “Impact” and blew it up to 350. I wanted a basic/clean look.
  • I also choose the cheapest black spray paint at $0.97/can.
  • Painters tape to tape down your letters. I guess any tape will do as long as it is secure.
  • Scrap paper/newspaper to protect your mat from random spray paint.
  • I used one coat of spray paint and thought it was enough. You can certainly use another coat.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure you transfer your letters onto a thick cardstock. You will get a cleaner transfer. Although my letters got a little fuzzy from the spray paint, it certainly gives it character.

Alicia - Mat 1

Pros:

Super easy. I cranked this bad-boy out within an hour and all the supplies set me back only $10 bucks. Cool!!

Cons:

None

Alicia - Mat 2

Conclusion:

Success! I love my new doormat. It jazzes up the front door, don’t ya think?!

 

 

Reviewer #6 – Maren

Mission: More cute homey things for this new house of ours?  Sign me up!

 

Details:

IMG_3506Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make little rolls with painter’s tape to stick the stencil down as close to the mat as possible, this will help prevent the spray from sneaking past the intended lines.  I wish that I would have thought of this prior to spraying my first stencil.  My mom was keeping me company during this project and had the genius idea of using dressmaker pins to get the stencil super close and tight against the mat.  I was too lazy to go inside and get them.  Next time!

Don’t plan on using the stencil more than once.  Since our address is 2290, I thought I could get away with using one “2”, twice.  Although it worked in the end, it was a pain in the ass and I am still finding neon pink paint in curious locations.

Maren - Mat 1

Pros:

Love this thing!  I like the personalized piece, paired with a punchy color.  It’s an easy way to add color to your entry.

Cons:

It’s not perfect.  I struggled with accepting my final results, but then took Kim’s lead and declared it “charming”!

I do love it though, and can only improve my door-mat-making skills from here!

Maren - Mat 2

Conclusion:

Love this mat.  Still working on feeling like my minor over-spray is “charming”.  If you’re new here, yes, I am anal retentive.  I might take my detail sander to the areas where I want to clean up the over-spray and see if that helps.  Or, I’ll just chill out.

This would be a fun way to dress up your door for the holidays as well.  Simple triangle shapes made with painter’s tape could easily be layered to create a collection of Christmas trees!  Okay, I’m excited again.  Time to get another door mat to spray!

 

 Mat Conclusion


The darling
DIY Door Mat and it’s photo by Yellow Brick Home


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Inspired by a much loved Mexican Bean Salad, Once Upon a Chef has perfected her Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado & Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette, making it positively drool-worthy!

 

With warm temps outside, we’re up for any dish that doesn’t need the oven or stove; and who can resist a chance to eat up some of the season’s freshest ingredients?

 

Please click here to visit Once Upon a Chef and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: Healthy, fresh and delicious is always a key when trying new recipes! This hit the spot!

 

Details:

Get ready to chop…lots to chop, but well worth it.

  • I grilled the corn on the grill first then added it to the dish.
  • I used minced garlic out of the jar since I didn’t have any cloves.
  • I may add some green onions next time for some extra flavor.

bb salad 1

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely get a juicer for the lime. I don’t have one, and that would have definitely been handy.

We enjoyed ours with some tilapia from the Blackened Tilapia Taco recipe!

 

 

Pros:

I had it marinate for an hour and it was still delicious so don’t hesitate to make it last-minute.

It’s even great the next day!

Cons:

Absolutely, none.

Kristy - BB Salad

Conclusion:

Mike and I both enjoyed!  It’s perfect as a side salad with a meal or great with tortilla chips as a dip!  I will definitely be making next weekend!!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: This recipe was a great way to attempt to get my hubby to eat black beans.

 

 

Details:

  • For the most part I followed the instructions from Once Upon A Chef exactly (minus the fact that I forgot to add the cilantro).
  • I did add a jalapeno for a little heat but that was the only change I made intentionally.
  • I did cut it in half since I am the only one that really loves beans in our house.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely doesn’t make a great left over (gets very runny and strange-looking – although it still tasted pretty good but we eat with our eyes so who are we kidding here).

I could have cut the recipe down to just a ¼ but the thought of that math makes my head hurt.

 

Pros:

This would make a perfect accompaniment to add to a fish taco. You could whip up a batch of the fabulous Blackened Tilapia Tacos we reviewed a while back and add it to them. MMMM.

This is a great summer dish since produce is best this time of year and our markets seem to be overflowing with beautiful color. I tried this as a salsa too and it is great with chips!

Cons:

Really just the leftover thing. It just didn’t “look” like it would taste good the second day and I had to close my eyes to take the first few bites.

Amanda - BB Salad

Conclusion:

YUM. Two thumbs up! This is going straight into my recipe book. My gal pals will love it (even if my family wasn’t on board).

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: The sight of this recipe made me drool. With 4th of July coming I was looking for a light side that will please the crowd.

 

Details:

The recipe is very easy to follow, basically just throw all the ingredients into a bowl (saving the avocado for last). Mix, chill, and serve.

  • I took a short cut and used frozen corn instead of cutting from the cob. I’m a sucker for a time saver. It gave me time to make my own pitas. They’re delicious and paired perfectly with this recipe.
  • I highly suggest letting the salad chill in the refrigerator for a while as suggested in the original post. Let the flavors come together

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Squeeze some lime juice on the avocado before tossing it in. It helps prevent them from browning.

Sheri - BB Salad 1

Pros:

Incredibly delicious and sure to please a crowd.

Cons:

I divided the recipe in half and really wish I had more.

Sheri - BB Salad

Conclusion:

I absolutely LOVED this recipe. It had many of my favorite ingredients. I’m avocado obsessed.

Paired with my homemade pita chips, I was all ready to enjoy my Saturday night. This recipe is definitely a winner and full of yummy goodness.

I know what I’m bring to this week’s 4th of July cookout!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Maren

Mission: I could not wait to make this recipe, it’s right up my alley!  I am a lover of each and every ingredient in this salad.  Yum!

 

Details:

  • I don’t love red peppers, so I went with orange!
  • I used a 12 oz. bag of frozen sweet corn – worked like a charm!  I eat this brand all the time and I do feel like it’s crunchy and fresh tasting when allowed to thaw on it’s own.  I’m pretty sure that I used more than called for, but whatever, I love corn!
  • I went a little heavy on the lime juice and garlic.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

IMG_3476

I use lime juice in just about every recipe that we eat.  I love it!  Every couple of months, I buy a bag full of limes and take some time to squeeze them all, then pour the juice into ice cube trays so that I always have real lime juice when I need it.  Way better than the stuff you buy in the little plastic lime bottle at the store.

Enjoy with Xochitl tortilla chips.  They are the best!

If you’re chop-challenged, you can use a pizza cutter!

Pros:

I LOVE this salad so much!  I have made it 6 times and have ingredients in the fridge for more!  I eat it on chips, on it’s own, and have even added rotisserie chicken!

Cons:

Even though I am a huge lover of avocado, I actually liked this salad better without it.  Not really a con, but my own preference.

Maren - BB Salad

Conclusion:

This recipe is great.  It’s so fresh and light, perfect for summer noshing.

While I do prefer this salad without the avocado, it’s great with it, too!  Versatile and easy to make, this one was a fast favorite.

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sarah

Mission: I’m always on the lookout for easy and tasty recipes to prep for events. This one sounded like it was one of those, and in addition sounded healthy!

 

Details:

I modified this recipe from the start!

  • I decided to make it more of a chip dip vs. a salad. I picked up tortilla chips when gathering the ingredients to serve with the dip and it was a hit!!
  • Though I like to eat as many healthy fats as I can, I have never been a lover of avocado. I just can’t get used to the taste and texture, so I left them out of this recipe – I know, selfish! Though, in my case, it helped as I made this dip for two separate events where it would have been too difficult to add to the salad right before serving.
  • I really love a recipe that calls for ingredients I have on-hand. I had Iowa sweet corn from my parent’s farm in the freezer, mini sweet peppers and garlic in the fridge and sweet onions in the pantry, which I used instead of shallots. In addition, I already had all of the seasonings that were called for.
  • At the grocery store, I picked up the black beans, limes and cilantro and then got to work.
  • The only items I had to dice were the peppers, onion and garlic. And then I zested the limes with my handheld grater, which worked great!
  • To cut-up the cilantro, I used my kitchen shears and added closer to 3/4 cup to the mix.
  • After prepping, I let the dip sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours before attending each event I served this at.

It was a huge hit and was gone by the end of the night!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

chips_dip

Using a handheld grater to zest your limes works great – just watch your fingers!

Cut the sugar down to 1 tablespoon, or even omit altogether. In my opinion, it wasn’t necessarily needed.

If you make this as a chip dip, cut down the amount of olive oil added. I only used 6 tablespoons.

 

Pros:

Easy to make and oh so tasty! And, with the addition of the cayenne, it had a nice spicy kick!

Cons:

Honestly can’t think of any – loved it and will definitely make again.

Sarah - BB Salad

Conclusion:

Loved this dip! It was easy to modify for your own needs. Even my husband ate it and went back for seconds, and that’s saying something!

 

 BB Salad Conclusion


The gorgeous
Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado & Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette and it’s photo by Once Upon a Chef


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That’s right, we’re one year old today and we couldn’t be more excited!

 

From our very first review of the Chocolate Chip Cookie-In-A-Cup to our most recent, the A-Frame Pup Tent – we have tried out and reviewed over 70 recipes, crafts and DIYs and we have made lots of new friends along the way.  From 1,500 visitors in our first month to nearly 11,000 this last month, we’re thrilled to be sharing our journey with you all!

 

To celebrate, we have put together a list of our Top 10 favorite projects!  We hope that you might give one or two a try, and share your results with us on our Facebook page!

 

10. Zinc Inspired Letters from Sugar and Charm

Sarah-Zinc-Letters-1-1024x786

 

9. Chili’s Copycat Salsa from Six Sisters’ Stuff

Salsa - Maren

 

8. Concrete Planters from The Self Life

Katie - Planter 2

 

7. Chocolate Nutella Cookies from Our Best Bites

Alicia - Cookies 2

 

6. Grilled Flank Steak With Tomatoes, Red Onion and Balsamic from Skinnytaste

Kristy's Flank Steak

 

5. DIY Tray from Pretty Prudent

DIY-Tray-Maren-2

 

4. Grapefruit Margarita from Sweet Life

Sarah - Margarita

 

3. Felt Rosette Wreath from Domestifluff

Sarah Wreath 2

 

2. How to Paint Furniture (without sanding) from Just A Girl

Sarah - Furniture 2

 

And our #1 most loved project of our first year… drumroll please

 

1. Greek Inspired Chicken from Savoring the Thyme!

Kristy - Greek Chicken 2

 

Thank you for joining us on our journey.  We cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for us!

TCC

Lots of love from all of us here at The Crafty Collaborative!

XO


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Do you remember making forts when you were a kid like we do?  Our hearts fluttered when we saw the A-Frame Pup Tent by Lindsay & Drew thinking about how much fun it would have been to have a fun little spot like that!

 

Time to bust out some power tools and make a tent!  Next stop, a campfire with cowboys in the desert, or maybe we’ll be astronauts building a house on the Moon!

 

Please click here to visit Lindsay & Drew and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: Put my hubby to work (and his power tools) to create a playful little hide out that my kids will enjoy and will be easy to store.

 

Details:

  • I busted out an old flannel flat sheet of my daughter’s for this project. In our house flat sheets are not our friends so we put it to good use. It was twin size and perfect for this project.
  • I put my hubby in charge of purchasing the other supplies and although I was VERY specific he still felt the need to deviate and purchased a larger PVC tube. He of course gave that a try and realized that as usual I was correct in my original request. Never cross a momma on a mission!
  • We ended with the same materials used in the original post plus a little coupling to hold the wood in place and keep the tent a little more stable.

Amanda - Tent 1

Tips & Tricks Learned:

The coupling made a huge difference! I highly suggest it.

Also, it is key that you attach the inner wood piece to the inside of the A-frame and not the bottom. It will keep the whole thing more stable and may actually reduce the need for the coupling.

You may need to sand the inside of the whole slightly in order to fit the PVC inside it. That was our experience anyway.

Amanda - Tent 2

Pros:

The materials needed are fairly cheap and easy to find.

I felt it was such a bonus to use old sheets but I bet you could find them on the cheap at a second-hand store!

Think of all the fun your kids could have inside on a rainy day or outside when it is hot.

Cons:

I am not all that comfy with power tools so I left that part up to my hubby.

I would be very interested in learning how to use them…maybe in my next life.

Amanda - Tent 3

Conclusion:

This was a huge success.  Now to build two more so my kids will stop fighting over the one we have already built.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #2 – Alicia

Mission: Create a cool, foldable tent for my kids!

 

Details:

I was super excited to give this a try- how hard could it be to make an A-frame tent?! Apparently HARD!!! Holy-heck this project was a pain in my rear.

I carefully read all the directions and set out to Home Depot for supplies.

  • I guess I was totally not paying attention and purchased 3 1×1” boards (which required 1×2),
  • ¾” PVC pipe, caps and my hubby’s brawn to saw and attach. Yeah right!

So we begin to drill and noticed that the PVC pipe is ¾” in the middle and about 1” total in diameter. My hubby has a ¾’ drill bit and there was no way, even with wiggling the drill bit back and forth, it would fit. Back to Home Depot to purchase a 1” drill bit at $15 bucks- oh gesh! At this point I think Mark is about to leave me- seriously!

Alicia - Tent 1

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure, absolutely sure that you get all the correct boards and measurements for this job. It is pretty intense.

If you do purchase smaller boards, be careful not to split the wood with your drill (which totally happened to us). Home Depot loved us that week.

Alicia - Tent 2

Pros:

The final product is really cool.

Cons:

It is a little advanced for me. Not as easy as I thought.

Also, this tent is huge. I mean 5 feet long HUGE, but it does fold up.

Alicia - Tent 3

Conclusion:

I think I bit off a little more than I could chew with this project. Mark pretty much took this project over from start to finish. I think I attached the caps and helped staple on the fabric. My kids’ absolutely love it, though. My son has been under this thing for days; he has even been sleeping under it.

 

 Tent Conclusion


The darling
A-Frame Pup Tent and photo by Lindsay & Drew


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A love for fruit snacks is almost mandatory in the kid world these days, but what’s in those things anyway? 
Mama Mouse Says
has shared her own recipe for homemade Gummy Fruit Snacks made with easy ingredients that may already be in your refrigerator!

 

Always searching for healthy treats to feed to our little ones, we were eager to give this clever recipe a try!

 

Please click here to visit Mama Mouse Says and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: I have always wanted to try and tackle a homemade fruit snack recipe but had been a bit discouraged by the lack of easy-to-follow recipes. This recipe was super simple and I am all about fast and easy, and kid approved or course!

Details:

I followed the recipe exactly.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

You definitely need a food processor to create this recipe. I suppose you could use a blender and get the same results. I did find that by blending/pulsing the mixture, I got a lot of air bubbles. Let your mixture settle a bit before pouring into your pan and LEAVE in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or overnight.

Also, being the goofball that I am, I purchased 6 full packages of the gelatin at the store not realizing that one package contains 4 pouches inside. DUH! You don’t have to twist my arm to make more.
Alicia - Snacks 1

Pros:

Very healthy and delicious.

Cons:

By using a small fondant/cookie cutter, you have a lot of wasted product, although it looks so pretty.

Alicia - Snacks 2

Conclusion:

My kids loved these snacks so much, that they gobbled up my first batch before I even noticed. I am so thrilled on how easy it was to make and that I know exactly what is in them. No artificial flavors or colors- YES!!!!!

This is a must try recipe. 2 sticky-thumbs up!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Make a yummy and healthy treat for the kiddos.

 

 

Details:DSCN7948

I followed Mama Mouse’s recipe exactly with the exception of needing slightly more juice as I was a little shy on fruit juice.

  • I chose a little Mott’s apple juice with veggies. It worked like a charm!
  • I also used a sweet little cutter to made quarter sized flowers. They were very pretty but a little fussy.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

As soon as I poured the liquid puree into my cookie sheet I decided that I needed a smaller pan for next time. My gummies ended up being a little bit thinner than I wanted.

I also lined the pan with a layer of Glad Press’n Seal for ease of removing the gummies.

Amanda - Snacks 1

Pros:

This really was a great sweet treat packed with fruit and very little sugar.

Cons:

I would have liked for them to be a little more like fruit leather rather than slightly tacky like they were.

Also, if I make these again I will just cut little squares instead of using a cutter.

Amanda - Snacks 2

Conclusion:

This was a fun experiment with VERY edible results. My kids thought they were very fun to eat too.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: My kids are crazy for fruit snacks but I recently cut them out of their diet and now I’m the bad guy. Maybe this all-natural homemade fruit snack recipe will fill the void and make me “Awesome Mom” again.

 

Details:

This was a very easy recipe to follow.

  • I chose to use strawberries because it’s a fruit that all three of my boys love.
  • For juice I used Newman’s Pomegranate Lemonade, another winner in our house and it also provided the citric component the recipe called for.

The first thing I did was line the tray with plastic so I would be ready. I then poured the juice into the blender. I quickly heated up the diced strawberries and honey. While they were heating up I added the 5 packets of gelatin.

I combined all of the ingredients as directed and poured it onto the try. It looked a bit frothy. I let them set overnight. When I took the tray out in the morning it still didn’t look hard enough. I left it there a few more hours and it was still strange looking. It was an odd combination of spongy and rubbery. Honestly, it reminded me of the nasty gel-like ring when you open a can of wet dog food. Blech.

I cut them up and passed them onto my taste-testers. It got a 1 out of 3. My oldest was thrilled; the other two guys spit them out. I think it was just a texture thing.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I think adding a 6th packet of gelatin might give it a better texture.

Sheri - Snacks 1

Pros:

They’re not as sticky as store-bought gummies which stick to their teeth.

Cons:

The texture isn’t quite right and a little repulsive.

Sheri - Snacks 2

Conclusion:

One out of three boys enjoyed these strawberry bites.

I love that it was a really easy recipe using real fruit and no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup. There just has to be some sort of way to get the texture a little better. Honestly, I’m not sure I would try this again.

 

 

Fruit Snack Conclusion


The lovely
Gummy Fruit Snacks and photo by Mama Mouse Says


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If you have been searching for the perfect place for your beloved mason jars, look no further than Not Just A Housewife and her darling Mason Jar Wall Planter.  Not just for your indoor herb garden, this pretty piece can be used for storing all kinds of stuff!

 

Round up the jars and a drill; we could hardly wait to dive into this project!

 

Please click here to visit Not Just A Housewife and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: This just looks awesome, and I have wanted to try it for a while. What a fabulous and unique way to brighten up my kitchen.

 

Details:

As far as directions go, I didn’t find them to be very clear. The final pictures were great, but I would have loved to have seen more of a step by step. Lucky for me, my husband was there to help.

  • My first step was taking care of the drainage. I added rocks to the bottom of the jar, but after reading comments and suggestions on the blog post, I put a straw in for some extra air. I then planted my plants into the mason jars. To be honest, what a pain in the behind. I managed to squeeze them in there, but getting the soil snug around the roots was difficult and I missed a few spots. I’m hoping they survive.
  • I found a great board and cut it to size.
  • Now getting the pipe clamps screwed to the board…I had to call in the big guns, Mr. Hubs…and we broke one or two drill bits trying to do so.  His extra set of hands were also helpful in tightening the mason jars into the clamps and screwing the board to the wall.

This project is definitely a two person job. We had a much needed beer together afterwards.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Duct tape a straw for extra drainage. Just make sure you put it in the back when you clamp the jar. Make sure you have good quality drill bit to put a hole through the metal clamp. Screw the hole first and then screw the clamp to the board

Sheri - Planter 1

Pros:

It looks remarkable.

Cons:

Getting those plants into the small mouth of the jar is difficult. Oh, and the broken drill bits. I’ll be replacing those for my husband.

Sheri - Planter 2

Conclusion:

We absolutely LOVE the final outcome. It came out great. I find myself just staring at it while waiting for my coffee to brew. I hope the plants survive. I would love to do one with herbs.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: I love the idea of growing fresh herbs and making a lovely piece of wall décor!

 

Details:

Maren and I got together for this project as I felt it was a bit intimidating and a great excuse to get together!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

5Stain or Paint your board if you want to. Maren and I decided to go bare finish as you can always change it later.

Be sure to measure where your planters will need to be hung, then predrill your holes on the board.  Be sure to also drill holes for hanging!

Ok, here was the tough part, drilling through the metal holders. Just picture Maren with the drill and me fearful of this gal drilling into my fingers as I had to hold metal holders in place.  (Fear left with each cocktail we had…be careful!  Ha!!) Maren was having issues getting the drill through the metal so plan B, she grabbed her pink hammer to nail through it.  Bad idea did not work, just bent the nail.  We went back to the drill and replaced with a new battery then bam…worked perfectly. Well…a couple of broken drill bits later!

Once the holes are drilled, fasten the metal hangers onto boards then you are ready to fasten your awesome jars!

Best tip, when working with the metal hangers loop the tail end to the screw end then just start turning to the right to tighten. It is a simple as that, but we had to learn this.

Maren had a bright idea, to place rocks at the bottom of the mason jars…not only is it cute but I would assume it is also supposed to help with the plant’s survival.

M + K Planter 1

Pros:

Super cute wall décor and a great way to cook healthy with fresh herbs on hand!  There are such a wide variety of fresh herbs so the options are endless!  As for the board, you could be so creative with jars or painted boards!

Cons:

Holy cow, the metal hangers…you need some muscle action and a full battery to break through those, but well worth it!

Kristy - Planter

Conclusion:

Love, love, love! Get your favorite herbs and get busy!  I hope to make these for a few of my real estate clients that love gardening!  I know they will love this gift as much as I do!  My plants are thriving indoors…now Maren has a different story!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission:  I was so excited to try this project out, I love to have fresh herbs.  This is the perfect way to get a start on some gardening as well, since we don’t have a yard quite yet at our new home.  Kristy and I did this project while our husbands cooked burgers on the grill!

Details:

I didn’t have time to hit the store for all of my supplies so I hit up Amazon instead.

Then, I had no idea how big they were or what size of clamp to order, until I found the All American Canner site after a quick Google and got the dimensions of my jars!

Kristy‘s honey grabbed a few of our items at the Home Depot:

  • The dimensions of my oak board were 5″ x 22″ x 3/4″
  • Our screws were 3/4″ long with a flat, Phillips head.
  • For my plants, I chose Moroccan Mint, Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and Cilantro.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Don’t drink and drill.  You heard me.  This was probably my biggest take-away of the night.  Kristy and I took a dinner break and when I came back to finish the project, I wasn’t um, quite as qualified for the job.  I almost amputated my finger trying to push a screw in, when after [what felt like] 15 minutes we realized that the drill was set on “reverse”.  Nice.

Use the Phillips-type drill bit to make the holes in your clamp.  We tried drilling and nailing and both were total failures.  The only thing that worked was pushing the Phillips bit into the clamp while running the drill.  I needed Kristy‘s fingers to keep the clamp open while I pushed and drilled.

Don’t cry if you break a drill bit.  I broke two.  I think that it didn’t help that I had my board sitting on a towel instead of a solid, flat surface.  That of course, and the booze.

The clamp closes by a screw mechanism running along a little track.  Having said that, tightening the clamp by hand could take a while.  Save yourself some time and use your drill – just be sure to go slowly so you don’t take off and break your jar.

Be sure to add little rocks on the bottom for drainage!

Put your plants in before you tighten the clamps around the jars.  Duh.

Do not over-water your cilantro or leave it outside in cooler temps unless you want it to die in 3 days.

Be sure to also have a trusty Quality Assurance Supervisor nearby.  See if you can find ours in the photo below!

Maren - Planter 1

Pros:

This project was easy to do and cute as heck.

Cons:

“Don’t drink and drill.”

Maren - Planter 2

Conclusion:

Since my initial review, I have painted my board aqua and now love my planter even more!  I did give my Cilantro the ax after a few days, but have high hopes for the plant that takes it’s place!

I have also already started on a second planter to use to store my paint brushes – the long ones that don’t really fit anywhere else.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: Any project that uses Mason jars is a project I’m instantly going to try! I love them to pieces!!

 

Details:

I love the idea of this project so much, but honestly am not a good houseplant owner, as they always seem to die on me at some point. So I instead opted to create this project to store my jewelry tools for my Sarah Vonne creations.

  • Mason jars can always be found in my house, so I searched through my supply and found two of the three, wide mouth, quart size Mason jars. The lovely Maren loaned me the third and also had extra clamps for me to use!
  • We still have lots of extra barn wood from my grandfather’s barn that was torn down late last year – this is the same wood I used in the Knob Organizer review. I just love it as it is a constant reminder of my grandfather and anywhere I can sprinkle it into a project, I just have to! My husband helped me pick out the right board for this project and did all the hard carpentry work for me.
  • The barn wood needed to be cut down to size for use on this project, so my husband took care of that with the table saw. We opted to leave the height of the board as it was and just cut it down to 22” in length. I wanted to maintain as much of the character of the board as we could.
  • Once the board was cut, we drilled holes into the metal brackets and then screwed them into place on the board. After this, I slid each of the Mason jars into place and tightened the brackets with a screwdriver until the jars were secure.

I have yet to secure it to the wall above my crafting table, but I have placed all of my jewelry tools within the jars so I’m ready to set up shop.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Find your handsome hubby and put him to work! Just kidding, this isn’t a mandatory, but I always love  when mine is willing to help.

Sarah - Planter 1

Pros:

Purposeful – which is a factor I absolutely love! And, this project has an array of uses for each individual out there; a planter, a tool holder, a utensil holder, etc.

Cons:

In my case, I needed a handy man, so it would have been a bit difficult for me to finish this one on my own.

Sarah - Planter 2

Conclusion:

Love it and can’t wait to get it secured onto the wall.

 

Planter Conclusion


The darling
Mason Jar Wall Planter and it’s photo by Not Just A Housewife


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Vianney from Sweet Life has concocted a special recipe showcasing her fave fruit, the grapefruit!  Her Grapefruit Margarita promises to highlight the grapefruit’s sweet Texas flavor and give it a kick!

 

Try out a tasty margarita?  Okay, twist our arms.

 

Please click here to visit Sweet Life and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: To create a tart cocktail that will knock your socks off and go well with BBQ season. Oh and to dull the pain of a crazy week on the home front.

 

Details:

  • I am a woman of refined taste (or shall I say I prefer a clean, stiff drink) so I chose a silver tequila. I prefer it to gold. I am not sure why but to me it tastes less like it is eating away at your stomach lining and more like it is preparing to take you to your “happy place”.
  • I did try to purchase Cointreau but didn’t have any luck at our local liquor store so I opted for the Triple Sec I already had in my cabinet (I am a frequent margarita maker).
  • I did splurge for the Agave and feel like that made all the difference in how smooth it was. I typically use simple syrup but it is a whole lot easier to just pour something out of a bottle than having to make simple syrup.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I doubled my batch after testing out the first mix. Um it is that good.

I found that each batch required about 1 ½ grapefruits and 1 ½ limes. This would of course depend on how juicy your fruit was but this was my experience.

Pros:

This drink is smooth, satisfying and a tad bit dangerous. Yes. That IS a pro!

Cons:

Other than possibly consuming the entire pitcher and then suffering the next day I see no cons at all!

Amanda - Margarita

Conclusion:

This will be on my summer drink rotation for sure and may even replace my standard lime margarita.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: Who doesn’t like a freshly crafted cocktail…I mean really, is there someone out there that doesn’t?!? I really love grapefruit, so that was what initially intrigued me to this recipe and I also happen to like margaritas – so it was a winning combo from the get-go!

Details:

I started by picking up the alcoholic ingredients at our local liquor store.

  • It has been a LONG time since I have purchased tequila, so I honestly didn’t know where to start. I opted to not buy the regular ol’ Jose, but went for one a step up – the Jose Cuervo Tradicional – it seemed good and was an ok price.
  • I also purchased Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau due to the price.

I still ended up spending $45 in total on the alcohol, so it wasn’t a cheap liquor run.

I then hit up our local market. They have everything you ever need and it’s just a darling boutique style grocery store. I have an obsession with grocery shopping; it is an outing for me!

  • I opted for Texas ruby red grapefruits, and since it didn’t state how many were needed within the recipe, I purchased five grapefruits and five limes.

I set up shop and got everything measured and all of the fruit squeezed then mixed with a whisk right in the pitcher. I set it in the fridge to chill while I prepped the glasses for drinking. We have a plethora of Mason Jars, so that is what I used for serving this cocktail – seemed festive and fun! I used a slice of grapefruit to wet the rim of the glass and then dipped it in a plate of sea salt.

We just so happened to be making tacos for dinner that night, so it was a perfect pairing! We drank the first batch quickly, so I ended up making a second batch with the extra fruit I had on-hand. My hubby and I loved this recipe!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

You need about 1.5 – 2 large ruby red grapefruits and 2 limes to get the amount of juice the recipe calls for.

Use the lime or grapefruit slice you wet the glass with for the salt within the glass as garnish. Don’t leave any delicious fruit behind!

Pros:

Easy to make and easy to drink

Cons:

A bit pricey for the ingredients if you don’t have them on-hand, but many of you may already have all of the goodies in your liquor cabinet at home.

Sarah - Margarita

Conclusion:

Super tasty and easy to whip up. They go down a little TOO easy! And, if you love grapefruit like me, any left over make a great snack or breakfast treat.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: You had me at “margarita” but lost me at “grapefruit.” However, my mama loves both. So treating her to this fruity cocktail on Mother’s Day was a must.

 

Details:

I’ll tell you right now that my bartending skills encompass popping off a beer cap or a swift twist and pull of a corkscrew. This was a new venture for me…aside from some crazy college nights over a decade ago. For this mixing novice, this concoction was simple.

  • I didn’t add the agave and it still came out great.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Sip carefully.

Pros:

Pretty and delicious.

Cons:

Not a single one.

Sheri - Margarita

Conclusion:

Mom was delighted with this margarita. It was a great icy and refreshing treat for our lounging afternoon.

Although I am completely anti-grapefruit I had to give it a try…and not too bad. I may just have to make one for myself with oranges.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Maren

Mission: I don’t actually love tequila or margaritas, but what the hell – I’ll try anything!

 

Details:

  • I was afraid that going with good-ol’ Jose might have me dancing on my kitchen island at 6:30 on a Tuesday, so I went one shelf up and landed on Camarena Reposado Tequila.  I don’t drink a lot of tequila these days (or any), so I had no idea what I was doing.  This particular brand had recently won a big “booze award” and was about half the price of Patron, so I went with it!
  • While I did squeeze some fresh grapefruit juice for this, I swiftly forgot about it before it went bad.  I used Simply Grapefruit Juice instead.
  • I used my new favorite thing, Madhava Agave Nectar Light.
  • I stuck with the program with the rest of the ingredients.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

If you use bottled grapefruit juice, like I did, use a little more agave than suggested.  As Vianney mentioned, if you don’t use a Ruby Red grapefruit, the taste can be a little overly tart.  The agave is a quick fix!

Pros:

I liked the sweet, but not-too-sweet flavor!

Cons:

Blaghk!  Too much salt for me!  But, that’s just a personal preference.

Maren - Margarita

Conclusion:

Although margs aren’t my personal favorite, I could tell that this one was a winner!  I am excited to have this easy recipe on hand for our patio guests this summer!

 

 Margarita Conclusion


The lovely
Grapefruit Margarita and it’s photo by Sweet Life


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The Self Life took on a Do-It-Yourself Pinterest challenge and landed on DIY Concrete Planters; we couldn’t be more thrilled that they did!  The result was easy-enough instructions and some great tips for the rest of us!

 

We couldn’t get to the hardware store fast enough to mix up some cement of our own and get started.

 

Please click here to visit The Self Life and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Amanda

Mission: Attempt a DIY medium I have never even thought of working with – cement – to create an adorable home for some sweet little succulents.

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Amanda - Planter 1bFirst mistake was not mixing my cement in a separate container. I of course didn’t realize just how much of a mistake until 24 hours later when I pulled the hardened cement out of the containers.

Also, I wished I would have let it harden for another few hours. It seemed like it was not completely dry on the bottom. Once I got them out I realized the largest container was a great size but I did not fill it high enough and didn’t push the cup low enough. Sadly that one may need to be a candle holder or a giant paper weight!

Oh, and use a sturdy spoon. My plastic number didn’t hold up well!

Amanda - Planter 1a

Pros:

The cement is a really cool look. The texture is very industrial and the color is fantastic.

Cons:

Practice. Practice. Practice. Not so much a con as it is a “to-do” for next time. Definitely make sure you fill your container high enough so you have enough space for your plant.

Tip: use a clear solo cup instead of colored so you can see how deep your hole will be.

Amanda - Planter 2

Conclusion:

I will definitely be making these again. I feel like I have nailed down the “what-went-wrong” and would love to make a larger pot and maybe paint it partially or something. Plus I have about half the container left over so I HAVE to do some kind of cement project.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: To try my hand at using cement in a DIY project!

 

Details:

Maren, Kristy and I were able to do this project as a group – it is always more fun crafting with your friends.

We set up shop in Maren’s kitchen – placing old towels all over her counter top before beginning.

Getting the Quik Set Cement container open was a process in itself! Maren brought out her big guns to get the job done and we had a lot of laughs in the process!

Maren is always prepared and she had tons of plastic containers for use as well as a watering can for water.

  • I had brought a gallon ice cream container to use for my pot and borrowed one of Maren’s smaller ones for the inside inset.

I began by filling my container about half-full with cement and then added the necessary amount of water and started stirring. This is when the stress set in. Knowing we had a limited amount of time to mix this before it began to set drained me. It was hard work!

After I had it mixed I placed the plastic container for the inset in and pushed it down about 3” into the cement. I then used the spoon to smooth out the top and let it sit until the next day.

Once it was dry, I pulled the inset container out and popped the cement planter out of the gallon container. I decided to not use sandpaper to smooth out the top as I really like the rough, natural look of it. I then transplanted my orchid into the pot and I really hope it continues to thrive in there!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Have your water handy in a watering can – this way it is at the ready if you need to thin out your cement mix.

Use mixing utensils that you don’t mind end up in the garbage as they get pretty gunked up during the process.

Sarah - Planter 1

Pros:

Very minimal items needed to create these and they turn out darling!

Cons:

A little intense during the process of mixing – we used quick set cement and it got us a bit fired up to be speedy so we would get them prepped before they started to set!

After I had mine mixed, I wished I would have put more cement mix in to make it a larger pot. I only ended up filling the gallon container about half full and though I like it, I think had I filled it the entire way, it would have been more of a statement piece.

Sarah - Planter 2

Conclusion:

These are very darling, but I am curious to see how my orchid plant does in the long run.

I am not sure I would ever attempt to do these again – it honestly stressed me out too much during the process! But, the idea of a large one outside my front door is pretty intriguing!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I could not wait to try this project.  I have been dying to get my hands on a concrete planter ever since I first laid eyes on one.  Although I have seen several listed on Etsy, as Elisa mentioned, they were a little pricey and I couldn’t help but think that I could probably make one myself.  Yipeee!  Thank you The Self Life!

Details:

  • I saved up every dang container that we had from the past couple of weeks to make sure that we had a good selection.  I also raided the house for party cups and other small containers.  The best choices for me ended up being a 32 oz cottage cheese container, one of Kristy’s $1 store bowls and those little 9 ounce party tumblers (for the inside cavity).  I used a Keg Cup for one, and that worked great as well.
  • I couldn’t find the Sakrete that Elisa used in her post, but did find Quikrete Quik Set Cement which is basically the same thing – per my husband.
  • In my head I swore that I was supposed to sand down the top of the planter when I was done.  Apparently not, although I did with my handy little Black & Decker Multi Sander.  I love that thing!
  • My succulents are babies from my Succulent Tea Cup and my Terrarium!  I snipped them off, put them in these cool little things called Rootcups and Wallah!  I feel so proud!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Holy shit.  Add extra water and be ready to stir!  After nearly giving myself a hernia from trying to open the container of concrete, I was not totally prepared for the rampant stirring activity that was before me.  I lived though, and it was much easier going forward.

We (myself, Sarah and Kristy) thought about mixing the concrete in one big container and then adding it to our individual containers.  Then we read on the package that we only had 5 minutes and realized how unrealistic that was.  This was a wise choice since we had a hard enough time as it was getting a frickin’ cottage cheese container mixed in time.

I did have one planter that didn’t get totally mixed and was a bust.  One side was so shiny that it looked like marble, the other was gravely and falling apart.  Lesson learned.

Here’s a good tip: Holding the cup that you plan to use for the inside of the planter next to the container filled with cement and mark a line on the inner cup so that you know how deep to push it into the cement without going all the way to the bottom.

Other tip: Be patient.  The cement sets really quickly, but isn’t ready to be removed from the container for at least a day or so.

Maren - Planter 1

Pros:

Super easy and très chic!

Cons:

Opening the concrete container almost killed me.

Maren - Planter 2b

Conclusion:

I love my planter just as much as I thought that I would.  I have already received several compliments on it, and am excited to make them for friends as gifts!  They are that easy!  Once you have the process down, I bet you could crack one out in less than 10 minutes!
Next up though, I want to make a big one!  A great reason to finally get a Paint/Mud Mixer attachment for the drill.  Also a great reason for picking up a gallon of ice cream.  Tee Hee!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Kristy

Mission: Rustic piece of art for your plants!  I love cacti; they have such character and don’t die!

 

Details:

Group project!  Maren supplied the Quik Set Cement and we supplied our own molds.

  • I went to the Dollar Tree and bought take away dishes in more of a square shape.
  • Maren had cups for the center that worked perfect
  • Picked up some fabulous cacti from Home Depot

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be sure to have water on hand!  Maren was prepared with a cute watering can that worked perfectly!

Stir, stir, stir quickly…the concrete had to be mixed and set within 5 minutes!  Doesn’t sound like long but it goes by fast!!

Don’t forget to tap the bottom to let out most of the air bubbles within the concrete.

Be sure to measure the depth on the cup, you need to know how far to push down when you center inside your mold! VERY IMPORTANT! Mine were pretty shallow!

Kristy - Planter 1

Pros:

Very rustic and easy to make!  Fun group project!!

Cons:

Just be sure to work quickly and be prepared to know the depth of the interior cup!

My plants roots were exposed as my bowls were too shallow in the center.  Cacti are difficult to kill, so I hope they survive!

Kristy - Planter 2

Conclusion:

This would be a great gift!  I love mine; perfect for a window ledge!

It has chips and a few holes on the sides from likely air bubbles but it gives such character!!  The plants come in so many different colors, that it gives such a fun pop of color!!

Next time I might make them a little taller to give plants more room for their roots in the center of planter!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Katie

Mission: Make your cement planters for those oh so adorable succulent plants you’ve probably seen everywhere.

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Be patient, and check the label!  I purchased and used cement vs. cement patch and that may have negatively affected my finished product or my lack of patience could have contributed to the less than perfect results as well….

Katie - Planter 1

Pros:

I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a few succulents and I think the planters will look cute on the windowsill in my office…imperfections and all!

Cons:

Messy!!

Katie - Planter 2

Conclusion:

While this wasn’t an especially expensive project, I tend to prefer the instant gratification of purchasing small planters and not having to deal with smoothing out cement, worrying about air pockets and making a mess from start to finish!

All in all, I’m happy with the results and am excited to display them in my home.

 

Concrete Conclusion


The lovely
DIY Concrete Planters and photo by The Self Life


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A little birdie told us that Sarcastic Cooking was spilling the secret to the special blackening seasoning that turns ordinary tilapia into a spectacular dish with a Latin twist!

 

Served with a healthy helping of avocado, their Blackened Tilapia Tacos sounded truly delish.

 

Please click here to visit Sarcastic Cooking and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of tilapia; however, I’ve only tried it once. Fish tacos? I’ve only tried those once as well. I figured I should practice what I preach and give it another try. Avocado with anything usually makes me say “yum.”

 

Details:

The directions were easy to follow.

  • Sprinkle the tilapia fillets with the blackening seasoning and cook them in the skillet with some olive oil.
  • Cut up some creamy avocado with some red onion and load it all onto a warmed tortilla.

One of the great thing about tacos is you can add anything you like; black olives, tomatoes, salsa, corn.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to heat the oil in the skillet beforehand. You don’t want them sticking.

Sheri - Tilapia 1

Pros:

This is a really quick meal to prepare. Great for a healthy mid-week meal.

Cons:

I can’t get my husband to even try them.

Sheri - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

I actually liked them and I didn’t think that I would. The fish tacos I had at On the Border, grossed me out. I must say that Stefanie from Sarcastic Cooking really does have a yummy blackening seasoning. I’ll be using it often. So I enjoyed my tilapia tacos all by my lonesome with a cold beer…they don’t know what they’re missing.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Mexican and a little Louisiana blackened fish…can’t beat it!  This was a no brainer!

 

Details:

  • I used my go to seasoning mix, Tony Chachere’s as it includes all of the ingredients that we wanted for our fish and provides a good spicy kick!
  • Instead of sliced avocados I purchased a southwest avocado dip which included green peppers, black beans, and corn.
  • Sprinkle of cheddar cheese!
  • All organic products used!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Keep it simple and healthy!

Pros:

Simple and delicious!!

Cons:

None, it’s perfect!

Kristy - Tilapia

Conclusion:

Mike and I enjoyed this meal!! Add some Mexican Rice (our favorite recipe is from The Pioneer Woman) and black beans to make it a complete meal!  I kept it simple, always in a rush in the evening!! Will definitely make it again, shrimp maybe my next ingredient to add!  Maybe a mango salsa…wow, you can get creative!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: This recipe sounded like the perfect way to get my husband to try some fish (which he usually hates).  I’m new to the fish taco thing myself.  Something about fish in a taco never sounded quite right; but I gave it a shot a few years back and found a new favorite!  I was looking forward to giving them a shot at home.

Details:

  • I used flour tortillas, simply because I haven’t found a store brand of wheat tortillas that I really like.
  • We had plenty of fresh pico de gallo with our tacos.
  • I also drank a lot of beer with this meal, which probably completely negated the fact that I was enjoying a nice, healthy, light dinner.  This was direct result of my pico de gallo taste-testing early in the cooking process, landing right on a jumbo jalapeno and having my mouth nearly burst into flames.  A beer… or two, was the obvious solution to this problem.

We enjoyed our first round just as Sarcastic Cooking suggested, with plenty of avocado and lime juice.  I don’t really believe in eating any Mexican dish without plenty of lime… and Corona!  We loaded in the pico de gallo for our “seconds”.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My mom taught me to always thaw frozen fish in milk to get rid of any “fishy” taste.  I forgot about this until after the fact… they were just fine.  lol

Make sure to cook the fish through and through, because there is really nothing grosser than mushy fish.  *gag*  This also makes the blackened seasoning extra yummy!

I won’t cook anything in oil without my grease cover.  Can’t live without that thing.  I think that I got ours at IKEA for a couple bucks.

My trick to removing fish from the pan without having it fall apart – Big flipper on the bottom, Spatula on the top!

Maren - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Tasted great!  The honey even said that he’d eat them again… not all the time, but he’d eat them again.

Frankly, you could taste the seasoning and accoutrements much more than the fish itself, as [tilapia] is pretty bland as is.

Cons:

None, other than the fact that it can be tricky getting really great, fresh fish here in the Midwest that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Maren - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

I’m really glad that we tried this recipe together.  It’s always nice to know that you have some other options up your sleeve when your usual dinner menu starts repeating itself.  This is especially the case when you’re someone like me, who loves Mexican and eats it as much as humanly possible, only to make your significant other want to cry when he sees the tell-tale ingredients coming out of the fridge…  Mua haa ha!

On another note, I am so grateful to have this special seasoning recipe from Stephanie at Sarcastic Cooking.  I am already eager to add it to other recipes, like her yummy looking Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission: Believe it or not, I have never had a fish taco.  Not sure why as I love tacos and fish.  I was super excited to try this recipe.

 

Details:

I followed this recipe closely and to a T…

  • Well, I guess we are not a wheat tortilla kind of family, so I used the regular tortillas instead.
  • I also added shredded cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese??!!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This is the first time I have ever sliced an Avocado.  Fun times and not so hard!  I also added extra salt and pepper to jazz up the taste.

Alicia - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Adding cheese and lime definitely added to the flavor.

Cons:

Tilapia is a very mild fish. I might try halibut next time.

Alicia - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

This was an easy and delicious recipe!  I prefer my tacos loaded with the good stuff – sour cream, cilantro, salsa and of course cheese, just to name a few; I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of this and loved the blackening seasoning.  Very good! Even better with a Corona or Margarita!!!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sarah

Mission: To find a quick, easy and healthy dinner that my family will enjoy, and one that will remind me of being on a Mexican vacation.

 

Details:

I gathered all of the fresh ingredients – the avocado, tomatoes, whole wheat tortillas and limes while on my weekly Super Target run.

  • I also picked up onions as I can’t have tacos without onions!

While I was prepping things for dinner, I found that we didn’t have tilapia in our freezer like I had thought. So, I sent my hubby to our local market to pick that up. They have the best seafood section!

The prep for this dinner was so quick – I think I had everything ready to start cooking within 10 minutes. Once the oil was hot, I began cooking the seasoned tilapia. The recipe called for about five minutes per side, but we ended up cooking ours about seven minutes per side as our filets were cut a bit thick.

Once the fish was done, we flaked it up a bit and layered it on our shells to each of our liking. I added avocado, onion, tomatoes and squeezed fresh lime over the top. My hubby added onion and black olives. Our kiddos ate just the fish! Everyone enjoyed it.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to cook your fish all the way through – and it adds more flavor to the blackened aspect the longer you cook it!

Make sure to buy a ripe avocado if you plan to eat it soon. The one I grabbed wasn’t soft enough, so that made prepping it a bit more intensive.

Sarah - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Easy meal to prepare!

Cons:

Can be more costly than planned if you have to hit up the local grocery store for tilapia. Plan ahead!

Sarah - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

Quick and delish! We will definitely be making this again. I really enjoyed learning the basics of cooking a blackened style fish. Next time, I’ll make sure I have margaritas handy as well!

 

 Tilapia Conclusion


The delish
Blackened Tilapia Tacos and photo by Sarcastic Cooking


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Smashed Peas and Carrots has the perfect solution for smelly spaces while staying safe.  The Baking Soda Air Freshener uses environmentally and family friendly ingredients that you may already have in your home!

 

Hoping to freshen up our flats, we grabbed our baking soda and got right to work!

 

Please click here to visit Smashed Peas and Carrots and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: Try a fun, inexpensive, and cute way of battling the aroma of my two doggie beasts in my home so I can stop investing in Glade products and diffusers.

 

Details:

The instructions for these little air freshening babies were very easy to follow, and the products to make them were easy to find.

  • I was super excited when I found my favorite Pier 1 fragrance, Island Orchard, was available in an oil.
  • I purchased some cute little mason jars (make sure the center of the top comes off) and filled them all with a ½ cup of baking soda. I added 8 drops of oil for the small rooms and 12 for the ones I wanted for larger rooms. It’s great that you can play with it, just add more if you want.

One great way to personalize these for each room is picking out different stock paper for the tops. I got the boys camouflage and they were thrilled. Poke some holes and put them on the top of the jar and secure the twist-lid. They’re ready!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I found that a pin hole was a little small for the amount of aroma I wanted. A wooden skewer worked excellent. Also, I find that poking the holes before cutting the circle out made it much easier.

Sheri - Jar 1

Pros:

So many! Quick, easy, inexpensive, and they work!

Cons:

Not a single one.

Sheri - Jar 2

Conclusion:

These really turned out fantastic, but more importantly, they work! Even my husband noticed when he walked through the door. I think they would also make a fabulous party favor. They really don’t take very much time to make and you can customize the top for any sort of party theme. I’ll be making more for friends and family, that’s for sure.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: To fight that new home smell!  That’s right, you heard me.  I am ready for our home to smell like home… we’re getting there, but it could use a little push.

 

Details:

I stuck to the rules with this one, but thought I’d share some specifics!  This project was incredibly easy.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Not Mixing..I found that the easiest way to mix the jars was to close the lid with the paper, shake up the baking soda and oil and then punch the holes with your pin.

Only one of the 4 oils that I tried didn’t want to mix up with the baking soda!  I just used a fork to break it up as much as I could.

I think that I ended up adding more than 8-12 drops.  My guess is that I was in the 20’s somewhere.

The Wyndmere oils were more potent than the Aveda Singular Notes, but I believe this to be due to the aromas that I chose.  I have learned from my employer that top notes evaporate more quickly then middle or base notes, and they are often the first to be smelled, but also the first to fade.  Tangerine and Bergamont are both top notes, so I think this is why the aroma was lighter.  Lavender and Rosemary, which were in the Wyndmere oils are both middle notes and those jars smelled much stronger and have lasted longer.

My perfume sample was the most potent, but I also dumped the entire tiny 1.5 ml vial into my baking soda.  This one is my favorite!  This is my favorite perfume, but I just can’t wear it anymore because I am so sensitive to smells.  I put it in my closet and it gives off just the perfect amount of fragrance; I love it!

The other jars have freshened our utility room, the pantry where I keep the stinky veggies (like onions), and the drawer where our trash can sits.  I placed the jar with the Wyndmere Naturals – Stress Relief Blend on my nightstand so I smell the soothing lavender and other calming aromas while I’m drifting off!

Maren - Jar 1

Pros:

I seriously love these.

Now I can take what I have learned (and remembered) about different aromas and make better choices when I make them again!

Cons:

I can’t think of any!  Even if you can’t really smell the essential oil, the baking soda is still working to neutralize odors.

Maren - Jar 2

Conclusion:

I am so glad that we tried this project.  Not to mention, I have been just waiting for a reason to pick up some of these cute jars!  I think that I’ll make a plain one for the fridge and maybe even for my car and keep it in the cup holder.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #3 – Alicia

Mission:  Create an easy and inexpensive air refresher for the house/bathroom. Yes indeed!

 

Details:

  • I have cupcake liners a tulle coming out of my ears and thought I could incorporate both in this project. I decided to make 2 fresheners and use a cupcake liner for one and pretty scrapbook paper for the other.
  • I also work for a company that has afforded me a plethora of aromas options to choose from. I chose an Aveda Key Element in the Brilliant aroma (#5) that was perfect for the bathroom.
  • Also, the Mason jar that I used was a bit taller than what was used on the original post.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I would suggest using a thicker or sturdy piece of cardstock/paper to reinforce the lid. I used a piece of cardstock with the cupcake liner, as the liner is super thin and can tear.

I also used a lot of the aroma.  The recipe called for 6-12 drops, I used about 40.

Alicia - Jar 1

Pros:

All the options in cardstock/paper and aromas to choose from are endless.

Cons:

None – aside from using a lot of aroma.

Alicia - Jar 2

Conclusion:

This was an easy project and it turned out great! This would make a great house-warming gift. I plan on making a few more for my Mom and Mother-In-Law. The odor sprays that my parents use have got to go!

 
 

Reviewer #4 – Katie

Mission: Make your own air fresheners with baking soda and your favorite essential oils.

 

 

Details:

Gather supplies: mason type jar with lid, scrapbook/card stock paper of your choice, box of baking soda and your favorite essential oils!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I purchased warming oils because I wasn’t paying attention but they worked just as well as I would imagine essential oils would.

Katie - Jar 1

Pros:

Inexpensive, easy, customizable air fresheners

Cons:

NONE!

Katie - Jar 2
Conclusion:

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner! It’s so simple to put together, inexpensive and the fragrance possibilities are seemingly endless!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Amanda

Mission: Rid my home (or at least the bathroom) of the smell of urine on the cheap!

 

 

Details:

  • I used the same sized Ball Mason Jars that were used in the original post by Maggie from Smashed Peas and Carrots.
  • I had some leftover craft paper from Christmas and since it happened to be Earth Month and all I went with the “Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle” motto.
  • I didn’t have an upholstery needle on hand so I used a nut pick (I am certain that is not what it is called but I am going with it) to create holes in my paper.
  • For the aroma I used Peppermint because I have a deep love with all things mint (and I have little access to Pure Essences locally so I went with what I had on hand). I purchased mine at a local Health Food store but they can be purchased online as well. Try Amazon as they have so many options and often offer free shipping. Typically you are looking to spend around $10-$15 to get an Organic aroma. Not totally necessary but just happens to be what I used since I also use it in my laundry soap.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

It was much easier to poke holes in the paper when it is already in the lid and the lid is on tightly. Also, when tracing your paper you can use the lid and then cut just slightly inside the line so it fits snuggly into the rim.

Amanda - Jar 1

Pros:

This could NOT be an easier project plus it is earth friendly and smells fabulous!

Cons:

None. I plan to put these all over my house.

Amanda - Jar 2

Conclusion:

This would make for a great gift basket item for new moms or even new home owners!

 
 

Air Freshener Conclusion


The super cute
Baking Soda Air Freshener and it’s photo by Smashed Peas and Carrots


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Sometimes you’re just floating along, then “Oh crap it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow!”

 

Here are some quick projects that you can do this weekend to show your momma that you care.  Tried and tested, we promise that the projects listed below are totally doable and sure to be a hit!

 

 Succulent Tea Cups

Tea-Cups-Maren

 

 Zinc Inspired Letters

Sarah-Zinc-Letters-1-1024x786

 

 Stamped Napkins

Kristy-Napkins-1024x913

 

 Salt Dough Keepsakes

Salt-Dough-Mandy

 

 DIY Tray

DIY-Tray-Maren-2

 

 Simple Terrarium

Terrarium-Sarah-679x1024


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Chalkboard Frame

Miss Tweedle shows us the magic of spray paint with her Chalkboard Frame project. An outdated mirror is transformed into a fab chalkboard that would be perfectly darling in any home.

 

Eager to turn our own ugly finds into chic decor, we grabbed our spray paint and dove right in!

 

Please click here to visit Miss Tweedle and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sarah

Mission: To create a fun piece of art for our home, which is also purposeful!

 

Details:

I really wanted to find a fun frame to repurpose for this project. I searched high and low in my house, while I was out and about at a few stores and finally landed on one at a local antique store that I liked. It was ornate and gold…super cute! And, it had a print in it from San Francisco, which I found inspiring, as I will be traveling there later this spring.

Once I purchased the frame, I went to our local paint store and picked up the chalkboard paint as well as spray paint.

  • I chose a bright orange for the spray paint as I wanted something with pop and thought I may use this piece in the kiddos room.

Unfortunately, the frame I landed upon gave me some troubles. I couldn’t get the back of it off to figure out how I was going to paint it and finally figured out that it was set in place with large staples. After getting those removed with my trusty needle-nosed pliers, I taped off the plexy glass front with painters tape and a piece of paper and then set to spray painting the outer frames outside. I laid the frames onto an old beach towel I didn’t mind ruining and set to work.

This is where my second issue arrived – the paint was NOT adhering well to the frame. I am not sure if the frame had any coating on it due to being an antique, but it took me three coats of the spray paint to get to where it is now. I still don’t love how it looks, as the paint isn’t evenly coated on the frame, but I do like the added character it has. Or maybe I have to just succumb to the fact that it is what it is.

After the spray paint step, I then taped around the outer frame edges and set to work painting on the chalkboard paint. I used a disposable paintbrush for this step and later decided that wasn’t the best idea as the streaks are very visible and the painting did not go on smoothly. But, it still works like a chalkboard!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Really clean and wipe-off your frame before starting to paint – I learned this the hard way.

Sarah - Frame 1

Pros:

This is a very purposeful project and a fun added piece of décor.

Cons:

A bit labor intensive based on my poor choice of a frame. You will have a lot of chalkboard paint left over, so you may want to do this as a group project or find another piece to create into a chalkboard.

Sarah - Frame 2

Conclusion:

I want to give this project another shot – but will be even more choosy in my frame choice before I begin to make certain I know what I am getting myself info.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: What a fabulous idea for an old junky picture frame! I love a good before/after project.

 

 

Details:

  • I was excited to use some trusty spray paint again! The stuff is just fabulous. Easy to use and comes in all sorts of colors and textures. The boys wanted green, their favorite color.  I did one quick coat on the frame and it came out great and dried really quickly.
  • I removed the glass from the frame and was left with some cheap particle board, but it seemed to work just fine. I applied three coats of Martha Stewart’s chalkboard paint in black.
  • I let it cure for 24 hours as instructed, put the frame back together, and it was ready for use.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Sponge brushes work great for this project.

Sheri - Frame 1

Pros:

Really easy project, especially great for those who like to yard sale hunt.

Cons:

None!

Sheri - Frame 2

Conclusion:

This was a really great project. I wish I had a more unique looking frame that needed revamping, but this turned out just fine. Better than tossing it in the trash, and the boys loved it! I feel the need to make one for my kitchen.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Janet

Mission: I was so excited when I saw this project from Miss Tweedle because I have had an old framed mirror that I have been wanting to repaint since college! The only tweak I made to the project is not turning the inside area into a blackboard, I really wanted to keep it as a mirror.

 

Details:

Tips & Tricks Learned:

LIQUITEX is BOMB.COM! I’m a failure when it comes to spray paint, but this stuff was so easy to use, the spray button was comfortable to press, and the paint came out smooth and even! I will for sure use this again for other projects requiring spray paint. It comes in a wide array of colors, so you can just go wild with it!

If you are painting outside, make sure it isn’t a windy day so the spray doesn’t go all over. Also, be sure to get all of the nooks and crannies.

Feel like the $12 is a little too spendy for spray paint? Get a free sample of Liquitex spray paint before having to buy it! Just go to their website and request one!

Janet - Frame 1

Pros:

Like I said earlier, Liquitex is glorious and made painting so easy.

The project gave me such inspiration to finally finish another project I’ve been thinking about for years!

Cons:

No cons here. The only bad thing is that I can’t figure out where to hang my “new” vintage mirror.

Janet - Frame 2

Conclusion:

I absolutely love how my frame turned out! I have the urge to search for another frame to paint, and I might even try my hand at a framed blackboard. Possibly something to use at the reception for my November wedding….hmmm something to add to the wedding idea list!

Whether you are wanting to redo a frame that you have had on hand forever or you want to create the ever popular framed blackboard, this project is so easy and perfect for the craft beginner.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission: I love the idea of turning junk into treasure.  Ugly frame refashioned into a beautiful chalk board creation, I am totally in!  I ran across a hideous frame at Goodwill that was perfect from this project.

Details:

Tools needed: Fugly frame, spray paint, chalk board paint and tools to remove backings of frame (if needed).

Did I mention the frame I used was really hideous??!!! I used the card board that was in the frame for my chalk board material. The cardboard did take a few coats of paint before it was completed ready for chalk. It worked really well.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I would recommend priming your frame before spray painting and let completely dry between coats.

Alicia - Frame 1

Pros:

All the amazing color options in spray paint are endless. This project came together very quickly and was fun to make.

Cons:

I am not sure what is wrong with me, but this project almost took the entire can of paint. I did not prime the wood. Oops! The wood of the frame was about 100 years old, which was hard to cover.

Alicia - Frame 2

Conclusion:

What an awesome project and the possibilities are endless. Very happy with the final look of my frame and it will be a nice addition to Lilly’s bedroom. I am now a crazy woman on the lookout for ugly frames to paint.

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Maren

Mission: In my quest to make our new home more “homey,” I knew that we needed a little something in our game room to encourage a little friendly competition.  We needed a scoreboard!  This project was that perfect “something” I had been looking for.

Details:

One look at the back of my Goodwill frame and I wasn’t even about to try and pry that sucker off.  I decided to see what happened when I just painted right over the whole thing, glass and all.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Sometime’s it’s good to be a lazy crafter!  The finish of my chalkboard is rock hard, just like the huge boards from my school days!  The finish is actually so great, that it makes that horrible sound when you write on it… *shutter*.

Um, so be sure to be in a very well ventilated space.  Cracking the garage door won’t cut it; open the whole thing.  More on that later.

Maren - Frame 1.

Pros:

Love this thing!

The project was easy to do and the spray paint products that I chose were all terrific!

Cons:

I may or may not have gotten a little loopy from the paint fumes.

Maren - Frame 2

Conclusion:

So, I wonder how many chalkboards one can have in their home before it gets weird…  I can’t wait to make more!

In our last house, I painted the inside of our most-used cupboard with chalkboard paint for a special place for my honey and I to leave little notes for each other.  After this project, I think that I’ll take it up a notch at our new abode by adding a bright and glossy frame!  Can’t wait!

 

 Chalkboard Conclusion


The darling
Chalkboard Frame and it’s photo by Miss Tweedle


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Our Best Bites is tempting us with their Chocolate Nutella Cookies; that creamy, dreamy spread that makes anything better!

 

Nutella, chocolate, we’re not sure that they even needed anything else to convince us to try them out!

 

Please click here to visit Our Best Bites and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Maren

Mission: Hop on the Nutella train and give these sweet treats a try!  And, I’ve never turned down a cookie.

 

Details:

I was careful to follow the directions carefully, since I can get a little carried away when I’m baking.  I’m a huge fan of the heaping measurements and the fine craft of winging it!

  • I looked everywhere for Hazelnut Extract and couldn’t find it.  Everywhere!  I found every kind of extract you could imagine, except for Hazelnut.  Then I remembered my stash of coffee boozeFrangelico is hazelnut!  I substituted the liquor for the 1/2 tsp of Hazelnut/Vanilla Extract.
  • They got “crackly” right at 12 minutes, but my cookies weren’t quite as puffy as Our Best Bites‘.
  • This recipe made 45 cookies!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Maren - Cookies 1These cookies are pretty darn easy to make!  The dough was super sticky though, even after refrigerating them.  In order to squish them before putting them in the oven, I dipped the bottom of my glass in flour.

I watched closely and “little cracks” did begin to form, but it wasn’t as dramatic as I was expecting (like with a chocolate Crinkle Cookie).

I’m still getting used to our new oven, and apparently the bottom rack is pretty hot.  I scorched the bottoms of the my first round of cookies and they were really bad.  I was scared.  Then, I tried a good one and was hooked!

I will also say that I thought that they were even better the next day!  Spending the night in a Ziploc Bag
made the cookies softer.

Maren - Cookies 2

Pros:

Holy crap.  I love Nutella.

Don’t forget your glass of milk!

Cons:

That round that got burned was like, really bad.

Maren - Cookies 3..

Conclusion:

These cookies were great!  They cookies had a hint of that salty/sweet thing going on.  I am a major sweets fan, but I really liked that little bit of salty.  They were like “grown-up” cookies.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: Bake up a batch of Nutella goodness. That entire sentence makes me drool.

 

 

Details:Nutella Cookie Sandwich

  • I followed the recipe exactly.
  • I baked them about 12 minutes and didn’t smoosh them down with a cup until about halfway through the bake time instead of before putting them in smooshed (I know that is not a word but I am using it anyway – these are Nutella cookies after all who cares about grammar).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I highly recommend turning these cookies into ice cream sandwiches. Brilliant idea on my children’s part!

Amanda - Cookies 1

Pros:

Um silly easy and insanely rich, chocolate goodness!

Cons:

You will eat the entire batch. Period.

Amanda - Cookies 2

Conclusion:

This is now a recipe in my personal cookbook and I fully intend to make it over and over and over again.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #3 – Alicia

Mission: Nutella +Cookie = YES PLEASE

 

Details:

This recipe came from Our Best Bites and I am a huge fan of their recipes.  Many of the items within the recipe should be in your pantry or on hand.  I was a little shocked that this recipe did not include eggs, but was willing to try it.  Anything for Nutella people!!!!

  • The recipe called for Hazelnut Extract and Vanilla Extract. I highly recommend using Hazelnut Extract. I made 2 batches and used both. I have to say that the cookies with the Hazelnut Extract tasted that much sweeter.
  • I skipped the step to use a small glass to slightly flatten the cookie before baking. My cookies turned out just fine!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I used a small ice cream scoop/melon baller to form the dough into balls.  This worked out great and was just the right measurement, too!

Alicia - Cookies 1

Pros:

This is a super easy recipe to follow.

Cons:

Hazelnut Extract might be a bit hard to find, but worth it! I found it at Cub Foods, our local grocery store.

Alicia - Cookies 2

Conclusion:

These cookies are AMAZ-ING!! One bite and I died and went straight to heaven! They taste like mini-brownies. Very soft and chewy.

I sent a batch of these cookies over to my parents house and my brother, who hates anything sweet, said that these were the best cookies he has ever tasted. Seriously, you need to make these cookies!!!!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: My kids and I are Nutella lovers…we buy the double pack at Costco almost every time we shop there. So, needless to say, this was a must try!

 

Details:

I tried my darndest to find Hazelnut Extract… well, I searched high and low at my local Super Target anyway. Go figure that they had every type of extract BUT Hazelnut Extract. So, I opted for the Vanilla Extract-only version of this recipe. I was a bit bummed, but with the three kids in tow, I just didn’t have it in me to go on a more in-depth shopping excursion to find it.

Outside of this hurdle, this was such an easy recipe to follow. It had a minimal number of ingredients, which is always a plus in my mind and went together quickly. I whipped up the dough in the morning before we headed out for the days events and then baked the cookies when I got home that afternoon.

I hosted a clothes swap that evening at my house with some girlfriends and put these out with the other munchies and they were a hit! All the gals enjoyed them – as did my kiddos. These cookies are a delicious rich chocolate treat for all ages.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Thanks to my mom, I have two bowls for my KitchenAid Mixer, which makes this so very easy to do. I mixed my dry ingredients in one and then the wet ingredients in the other. This made for a smooth transition mixing the dough together.

When I pressed the cookies with the bottom of a glass, I also used granulated sugar to give a little punch to the cookies. It gave them an added glisten on the cookie platter for presentation.

Sarah - Cookies 1

Pros:

Using parchment paper keeps the mess to a minimum when it comes to the baking portion of this recipe. So great!

Adding the granulated sugar when I pressed the cookies was a fun way to dress up the cookies.

Cons:

Don’t cook too long or they get crunchy – still tasty of course, but not soft and chewy.

Sarah - Cookies 2

Conclusion:

Two thumbs up! Easy recipe to follow and super easy to bake and of course eat.

 

 Nutella Conclusion


The drool-worthy
Chocolate Nutella Cookies and their photo by Our Best Bites


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Eat. Sleep. Decorate. has the perfect solution to the towel clutter in your bathroom with DIY Knob Organization.  In fact, this project can be used to tackle messes all over your home and look good doing it!

 

Eager to tidy up and add beauty to our homes, we wanted in on this DIY Knob Organization action, pronto!

 

Please click here to visit Eat. Sleep. Decorate. and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #1 – Alicia

Mission: I have always loved the idea of creating a handmade and unique towel rack for the bathroom out of a few materials and there is nothing more empowering than a lady using a power saw, although I did not need to use one. Boohoo!

Details:

  • Tools needed: Wooden board at any length, knobs or pulls, spray paint, painters tape if you are creating any type of pattern and power tools for cutting, drilling, hanging, etc.
  • My Dad is an amazing wood crafter, although I wanted to tackle this project on my own. I found a scrap board in his workshop about 18” long and 7″ wide. Perfect!
  • I also used my Dad’s power drill to make 4 holes. Now we are rolling!
  • In the original project she used door knobs that were super long and needed to be cut. I was a little frightened by this. Sawing/cutting any type of metal is not my idea of fun. I found some beautiful (and short) drawer pulls at Menards that did the trick.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I originally painted my board white and thought it was a little boring for my taste and my spare bathroom with white walls. So then I added blue stripes and that looked terrible. I finally repainted over the white and blue with a soft gray. Still boring!!!

I finally decided on keeping the gray and adding a white chevron pattern.

Alicia - Hanger 1

Pros:

Fun project!!!

Cons:

PAINT! I had a heck of a time spray painting. If you do not use slow smooth strokes, the paint can look thick and goopy.

I used about 8 coats of paint all together, but I am nuts! When using painters tape, make sure you really push it down securely.  With my first go around with the paint I was positive the painters tape was secure. When I peeled the tape back, the paint has bled in spots. Hence it took me 8 coats. LOL!

Alicia - Hanger 2

Conclusion:

This was such a fun project for me! I am super happy with the end result and very pleased with how my chevron pattern turned out. I scoured the web to find “creating chevron for dummies” and then determined THAT was too complicated, so I created my own pattern.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Maren

Mission: With a new home, I have been anxious to add little things here and there to help give this place a personal touch.  I know that a home’s character grows with time, but I wanted to kick that plan into high gear.  This project had perfect timing, as we had yet to have a place to hang our coats!

Details:

  • We picked up a 56″ long 5″ x 1″ board from Home Depot to fit into our “Owner Entry” as our builder calls it!  We lightly sanded the cut end and were ready to go!
  • My husband and I painted the board with three light coats of White Dove by Benjamin Moore, which is the same color as our trim in the home.  We have plenty left over!
  • I then sprayed a coat of Krylon Satin Finish over the painted board to keep the paint from getting worn down as easily by repetitively hanging up coats over time.
  • We had some left over knobs from our build that I got at Lowe’s.  I really love how chunky these knobs are and couldn’t help but think that they would be perfect for hanging our coats on!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Maren - Hanger 1Here’s a secret you may not know, Home Depot will make wood cuts for you!  I learned this in college when I needed to get Masonite to paint on.  That stuff only comes in huge panels, so they would always kindly cut them up for me.

Measure twice, pound the nail in once.  Learned this the hard way hanging the overhead shelf just prior to this coat rack.

Remember to use a wall anchor that suits the weight of the item that you’re hanging.  We went heavy-duty since this piece will get a lot of use.

 

Pros:

I absolutely love this!

The project was easy enough to do on my own, but also a great project to do with my honey… that is until we tried to hang it.

Cons:

Hanging it.  Apparently just because your home is new, doesn’t mean that the walls are perfectly flat.

I will also admit that my husband and I don’t always excel at doing home projects together.  For example, we have outlawed assembling any furniture together.  But hey – you’ve gotta know what works for your own relationship!  We eventually got this mother on the wall and it looks terrific!

 Maren - Hanger 2

Conclusion:

I am so happy with this piece!  It instantly added character to our home and gives it a loved and lived-in feel.  I think that I’ll whip up a smaller version for my closet, and even one for my grocery totes right inside the door to the garage!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Kristy

Mission: Its multi-functional, keeps my jewelry organized and is a fun piece of art!

 

Details:

  • I chose a fresh-cut of Poplar wood which cost me about 4 bucks.
  • I went to Michaels and bought each variety they had.  I got 4 for 5 bucks.  Perfect!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Break out the ruler or a smaller measuring tape to mark your screw holes! My handy-dandy husband drilled the holes. Be mindful of this as each one of my knobs had a different screw width.

My poplar board was unfinished so I painted with the black spray paint I had on hand!  I will admit I was lazy I just decided to spray without priming and hope for the best! Well it needed two coats, I may prime next time.  Priming would probably help with a better finish, too.

Screws were too long on a few of the knobs preventing me from hanging the board so my husband had to assist again with bolt cutters.

Pros:

Looks great, definitely multi-functional and can be used to display and view your jewelry, handbags or scarves!

Also inexpensive – even less if you can find scrap wood and knobs from old furniture.

Cons:

Measuring! It seems no matter how much time I spend trying to get the screw holes straight, they end up not being exactly right!

Kristy - Hanger 2

Conclusion:

Very cute, needed help from the hubby on this project! It was easier to have him help hang, drill and cut the screws!

A client once told me, “Everything in your home should be beautiful and functional OR don’t buy it!”  I love this motto and I am trying to live by it. This is a perfect example of one of those beautiful pieces!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Sarah

Mission: To create a proper place for ourselves and our house guests to hang their coats!

 

Details:

Though this project was specifically purposed for a towel hanger, we just weren’t in need of that in any of our bathrooms. Instead, we needed a coat rack within our mudroom. This project was just the inspiration we needed to get that checked-off our house project to-do list.

I grew up on a farm in Iowa and recently, we had to tear down one of my grandpa’s barns as it was soon to fall over on its own. My dad and my husband gathered as much of the barn wood as they could so we could create a new life with it in new projects. This was the first project we got to use it for!

  • Sarah - Hanger 1My husband helped pick out the best piece we had for this project – we needed it to be as flat and level as possible and we wanted one with some character. The one we ended up with is perfect in my book!
  • We didn’t do anything else to the piece of wood – just left it like it was on my grandpa’s barn and we didn’t even have to cut it to size – it was perfect.
  • Because the piece of wood we used wasn’t the same width the entire board, we improvised on our hook placements and did our best to eye them centered on the board.
  • My husband did all of the hard work of drilling the holes for the hooks and he helped screw them on the board as well. I was the “eye” for placement and of course picked out the awesome rugged hooks. I found those at Anthropologie and got them for a pretty good deal!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Find hooks/knobs that speak to you – such a fun project to really personalize!

Find a helper and put them to work – my husband was the perfect person to help me with this one! I could not have completed this without him…okay, maybe I could have, but there may have been some swear words in the mix then.

Pros:

Purposeful project!!!

Cons:

A bit labor intensive for the beginner.

Sarah - Hanger 2

Conclusion:

We absolutely love how this turned out and it is one of the best pieces of décor in our house as it has a fantastic purpose and a lovely history. For me, it is a great daily reminder of my grandpa and my family roots back in Iowa.

Next up we’d like to try creating a full-length mirror with some of the barn wood!

 

Knob Conclusion

 

The darling and clever Knob Organization for Towels and it’s photo by Eat. Sleep. Decorate.


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TCC Alumni

 

Friends who have joined us here at

The Crafty Collaborative!

 

 

 

Mandy

I’m Mandy, a 33-year old photographer, wannabe professional crafter, marketer, hobby maniac, music lover and vegetarian.

Aside from my full-time, job-to-pay-my-bills as a graphic designer and marketing manager, I spend my days and nights running my small photography business Mandy BePhotography (mandybephotography.com). Being a photographer allows me to constantly challenge myself and is such an amazing creative outlet.

When I’m not taking and editing photos, I’m making little crazy crafts and spending time with my lovely friends and family. I am a traveler that loves to explore and experience all of the fun and beautiful places and things this world has to offer!

 

Click on my logo to check out my website!

 

 

Katie (574x718)Katie

I am a Louisiana born late 20-something living in the Carolinas with my Love, MSC and our pup, Jaxson.

I am new to participating in the blogging world but not new to blog stalking. I’ve been doing that for years! Feel free to blog stalk me at www.thepetitepelican.com, my personal blog where I share my many interests, obsessions and inspirations with sass and (hopefully) a bit of Southern charm.

I come by my love for crafting genetically as my Mama is an amazing seamstress, artist and crafter. What I lack for in natural talent, I make up for in enthusiasm and an abundance of hope that my attempts will be totally amazing… and occasionally the passionately spoken curse word if things go awry.

Click on my logo to check out my blog! You can also find me on Pinterest.

 

 

Janet (640x800)Janet

Hello fellow crafters! I’m Janet. I grew up in a small farm town in southwest Iowa. I may be a farm girl at heart, but I have been told I am the most city-savvy farm girl around!

I moved to St. Paul, Minnesota after I graduated with an accounting degree from Iowa State University. I have lived in the Twin Cities for three years now and absolutely love it! I am an adventure seeker and enjoy seeing new places and trying new things, and the Twin Cities have many places to explore!

I am slightly obsessed with music and finding new songs. A day never goes by without my blasting out some tunes, it just makes each day better to have a soundtrack!

Find me on Pinterest!


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Six Sisters’ Stuff has done it again, showing us the easy way to a delish Italian dish!  Their Slow Cooker Lasagna recipe looks like a busy day’s dream come true!

 

Lasagna without an hour of prep work?  Sign us up!

 

Please click here to visit Six Sisters’ Stuff and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: Love a quick way to put together a dish and come home to a yummy meal!

 

Details:

  • I added fresh chopped basil that I had on hand.
  • I used ground sirloin and cooked with chopped onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  • All of the products that I used were organic!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely watch it once it is done cooking. Mine cooked for 3 hours on high and was amazing as I took a couple of bites! Then I went on a shopping spree while it was on warm and I came back to a slightly drier dish.

Kristy - Lasagna 1

Pros:

Very easy, just layer and put on high or low then you will come home to a good meal.

Cons:

It needs a little spice! I think I may use spicy Italian sausage next time to get it a kick!

 Kristy - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

YUMMO!! Mike loved it!  I thought I wasn’t going to get the crunchy edges that I love so much from pan lasagna, but you definitely get crispy edges.  Ideas to add more vegetables, I love adding shredded carrots to my tomato sauce and using zucchini slices instead of noodles!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sheri

Mission: Okay, I have always wanted to try this. The one thing that has been holding me back is that no one in my family will eat lasagna! Weirdos.  I personally love it, so I was excited to finally try it.

 

Details:

Now usually when I use the slow-cooker, I prefer not to have to cook anything beforehand. However, this called for browning the ground beef or sausage.

  • I opted for sausage and I made my own sauce.
  • I also only used ricotta cheese on half of the lasagna just so I could get my husband to eat it…again, weird.

You basically layer the lasagna just as you would if you were cooking it in the oven, but you don’t cook the lasagna noodles first (regular noodles, not no-bake). I was curious to see if this would actually work!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Careful breaking up the noodles to fit in the slow-cooker. I recommend wrapping them in a towel or putting them in a storage bag before you start cracking.

Sheri - Lasagna 1

Pros:

I’m a big fan of the set it and forget it.

Cons:

The noodles were a bit soft for my taste, I prefer them a bit more al dente.

 Sheri - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

Overall I was surprised that it actually came out well. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I think I want to try adding veggies next time. My husband ate it but requested that next time I add prosciutto.

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I’m not generally a big fan of “American” Italian food, but I am loving learning more about this magical contraption they call the “Slow Cooker”.  I was really excited to give this recipe a try, especially since I love Six Sisters’ Stuff!

Details:

I stuck with the plan, but here are some specifics.

  • Prego Chunky Garden Combination Pasta Sauce
  • 93% Lean Ground Beef
  • Dried Parsley (as opposed to fresh)
  • I also added a little extra cheese… of course!

Also worth noting, my crock pot cooks food at warp speed.  I learned this after crying out for help to my Facebook friends when my last crock pot experience was done and bubbling out of the pot in 1/4 of the recommended cooking time!  It’s the Rival Smart-Pot 5 Quart Crock-Pot.

In my turbo crock pot, this dish was lookin’ pretty done after about 2 hours (on low), however we didn’t eat it until it had been almost 4 hours.  At the 2 hour mark, I used my “toothpick trick” (trick details forthcoming) which probably helped cool it down in there and keep the dish from overcooking.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray before adding any of the ingredients.  This trick not only helps get the food out, but makes clean-up pretty easy, too.

If your slow cooker starts to pop the lid with steam and make a “clink clink” sound, prop it open just a bit with a toothpick.  Works like a charm!

I picked up zuccini and mushrooms to add, but I forgot about them!  Next time, I won’t forget and I might also add just a little more sauce or water to compensate for the added ingredients and prevent the dish from getting dry.

Maren - Lasagna 1

Pros:

Where do I begin?  Although not a big pasta girl, I loved this lasagna recipe and was giddy about the two good-sized containers of leftovers that we had.  More for me!

Cons:

None!  With a little maneuvering, I was even able to get each piece out without turning it into slop!

 Maren - Lasagna 2

Conclusion:

LOVED IT!  So easy, so yummy, frickin’ awesome.  I feel excited to have this recipe in my book; since most of the items are in the cupboard, this is a great meal to make when you have a busy day at hand.

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Amanda

Mission: To take lasagna where it has never gone before – the crock pot!

 

 

Details:

  • I went with an Italian pork sausage and think I would change that for next time. I found the meat a little chewy. I think I would actually mix it with ground turkey for the flavor.
  • I also used my own homemade sauce. I used 24 oz like the recipe called for. I ended up adding a little at the end however because I like it to be a little more saucy.
  • Also, I added 3 or 4 more noodles than what was called for. 6 just didn’t seem like enough.
  • After 3 hours it was pretty much done and I should have set the crock pot to “warm” at that point because after 4 hours it was really done – almost too done (mushy noodles don’t appeal to me!).

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Use a slow cooker liner! They will literally change your life. I used Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. They are amazing and made clean up seriously quick. Much quicker than a large pan of lasagna that is for sure! I would also suggest cutting the cook time way down. I don’t know if my crock pot runs really hot but it cooked almost completely at about 3 hours. Next time I make it I plan to switch it to “warm” at the 3 hour mark.