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5 Ways to Use Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover #mommusthave

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

5 Ways to Use Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover

*This post is sponsored by Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover

This was a big year for our family because we adopted a beautiful little kitty named Lulu from the shelter.  Our kids fell madly in love with her and we were so excited to bring her home and make her a part of our family. The kids even threw her a birthday party this year! When we got her home though, we soon realized that Lulu had some difficulty adjusting to our family.  She had some accidents and seemed nervous and stressed around us. She didn’t like being alone and she let us know how unhappy she was when we had been gone all day.

We had testing done at the vet clinic and even had a meeting for behavioral therapy. Having a pet that is struggling to adjust in your home and is wreaking havoc on your house is extremely stressful. After some behavioral therapy, we were able to modify her behavior, which has relieved a lot of stress for all of us.  She is doing so much better and we are so thankful, but removing pet odors and feeling at peace in my home again was tough.

When Kids ‘ N’ Pet contacted me, I knew that we would be the perfect family to test their Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover.  Not only did we have a history of pet stains, but I have two messy kids who could help me test their cleaner. They sent me the cleaner to try and I have been using it for the last month on my house with wonderful results.  I am genuinely excited to share about this product with you and can’t recommend it enough.

Kids N’ Pets cleaner is non-toxic and biodegradable,  made from high speed natural enzymes, isopropyl alcohol, surfactant Ordenone, water and a natural citrus scent.  Thanks to this formula it is safe to use around your kids and furry friends without worries.  The cleaner is also one of those great all-in-one cleaners that doesn’t take up a lot of space on your shelves, but packs a punch by performing a multitude of tasks including removing stains, odors, boosting your laundry, and cleaning carpets.

Today I want to show you 5 ways we used Kids ‘ N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover in our home this month!

5-ways-to-use-kids-n-pets-cleaner

  • Spot Clean Your Couches- Do you get MYSTERY stains on your couches that you wonder if someone may have used your couch as a napkin or as a tissue for their nose? I don’t either. That’s disgusting. If you did though, I would tell you that this cleaner works fantastic on those types of stains on your couches and leaves your couch looking and smelling fresh. You will want to test for colorfastness by applying the cleaner on a hidden area and allowing it to dry first, especially if you are the kind of family that buys fancy couches. We are the kind of family that knows that our couch is going to be used as a napkin and a tissue on occasion, so that is why we used this with no problems at all.  The product also gets out red wine and coffee stains…if you are that kind of mom sitting on your couch after the kids goes to bed trying to soothe yourself. Again, this is completely hypothetical.

Bissell_DeepClean_Premier_Carpet_Cleaner_Review_2

  • Freshen Up Your Carpets- As I illustrated in my story above, our carpets really needed freshening up and if you are dealing with pet stains, you want to make sure that your pets are not coming back to their spots of habit and wreaking more havoc on your home. We have used other products, but often the overly powerful scents meant to mask the urine odors were just as painful. While this has a citrus scent, it dissipates quickly, leaving everything smelling fresh. You can treat stains on your carpet directly with Kids ‘N’ Pets or you can put sixteen ounces of the cleaner per gallon of water in your Carpet Cleaner and freshen your carpets up in one fell swoop. After cleaning up Vomitfest 2014 from my cat this weekend, I can attest that this cleaner performs beautifully, but I really wish that I could not attest to that scenario at all. The cleaner also works like a dream on hardwood or on tile.
  • Get Your Laundry Really Clean- As you know, I love to make my own laundry detergent and I try to use cleaners and products that are safe for our family in our home.  When doing a load of whites, my homemade detergent needs a little boost and Kids ‘N’ Pets works great in our laundry loads. You just add a cup of it to your regular wash load and it helps get your whites whiter and your colors brighter.  If your child also likes to carry around pencils in his pockets and didn’t empty them and everything got marked with pencil, this cleaner also works wonderfully to remove stains, even after they have gone through the load. Ideally, you want to pre-treat them and spray them on the stains and let it work for a few minutes, but you can also spray after, like my scenario, and leave it on for an hour or more to really cut through tough stains. It might not help with your angry yelling when you see the pencil on top of your load and your new workout gear covered in pencil. suitcases
  • Freshen Up Your Suitcases- Did you loan your best friend your suitcase to take to Mexico? That might have been a mistake. Instead of crying about how bad baggage claims messed up your luggage, consider spraying it down with Kids ‘N’ Pets to make your luggage look like new again.  Spray generously, wait ten minutes, and blot up the stains with a cloth. Within twenty minutes, my luggage looked almost like new and ready for another trip to Mexico…or not.
  • Care for Your Fur Baby- Sharing our struggle with you about pet stains is embarrassing, but I am sure our situation is a common one for pet owners. Not only does Kids ‘N’ Pets get out urine stains, but it also can be used to clean pet cages (hello, guinea pig owners!), can be used to clean out your litter boxes, and can clean the areas in your home your pets frequent. Have a pet bed that needs a little freshening? Give it a spray with Kids ‘N’ Pets and allow it to air dry. It will smell fresh in no time flat!

I also love companies that support great causes and Kids ‘N’ Pets works with participating pet adoption organizations nationwide, providing products and services that help pet foster families and pet adopters! As someone who just adopted a shelter animal, that really makes my heart happy!

I love this cleaner and I hope you can give it a try in your home- I consider it a #mommusthave. You can find this product at Amazon or Walmart!

*This post is sponsored by Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover

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How to Make DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014
How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I am so excited to share with you an easy DIY gift that any mother would love to receive. Today we are going to mix up an easy batch of Mojito Bath Salts that you can create with just a few items from your local grocer and craft store.

These Mojito bath salts incorporate everything we love in a delicious mojito drink, with lots of fresh lime and mint. To really increase the mint component in these, we are adding a little mint essential oil to the mix.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to grab your shopping list and instructions to make our DIY Mojito Bath Salts! And if you really want to WOW Mom (or at least if she is a mom like me), you can pair it with our recipe for The Perfect Mojito and a watercolor painting made with the Waterlogue app! That is a Happy Mother’s Day, indeed!

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How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

You may think, “Who am I reading? I thought she couldn’t take care of anything (even herself?)!  Well, surprise, SURPRISE, I am showing you an easy DIY succulent centerpiece today and wanted to share with you a few tips on caring for succulents. I think I got my confidence back this year after creating that terrarium for you all and now I think I am some kind of green-thumb-ish-person and I want to take you along on my journey. In all honesty, I worked many a summer in a greenhouse, but I had lost my love of plants when I started changing diapers, cleaning a house, and feeding a family. Maybe you felt the same way?   Today’s project was sponsored by Walmart and they asked me to showcase a fun creation you can make for your own backyard from their gardening department and I thought I would highlight a plant I am kind of crazy about right now…the succulent.

Painted Succulent Pictures

Have you seen a painted succulent before?  True green thumbs may cringe at the painted plants, but (as I illustrated above) I am a newbie to the houseplant world and I love anything that is painted. These succulents have been painted which I think can add a pop of color to your home or as an outdoor centerpiece for your outdoor table, as I am showing off today.

How to Care For Your Succulents

Succulents don’t need a lot to survive, but they do have some small requirements- a lot of light, thoughtful watering, and a little plant food every couple of weeks.

A  succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. These plants have adapted to survive arid conditions throughout the world, from Africa to the deserts of North America.These plants can take many different leaf forms and plant shapes, including paddle leaves, tight rosettes, and bushy or trailing columns of teardrop leaves.

Light- 

The one requirement I worry about in my home is the lighting conditions because my house doesn’t get a ton of light in it. If you have a home with bright sunny windows, succulents are a perfect houseplant option.

Succulents prefer bright light, such as found on a south-facing window. Succulents will let you know if you are not putting them in an ideal location. Some species will scorch if suddenly exposed to direct sunlight. Their leaves will turn brown or white as the plant bleaches out and the soft tissues are destroyed. If the plant is not getting enough light, succulents will begin to stretch, with an elongated stem and widely spaced leaves. Many varieties of succulents will thrive outdoors in the summer and, depending upon your weather, this might be a better option.

Water-

Most people think that they don’t need to water their succulents very often, but in the Spring & Summer months, succulents actually need more water than they do in the Winter & Fall. Make sure to water your succulents often in the summer.  Allow the potting mix to dry between waterings, but do not underwater. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Really, the watering is probably the most tricky part about succulents!

Fertilize-

Make sure that you purchase some houseplant fertilizer while you are at the store. In the Spring & Summer months, fertilize your plant every two weeks.  Just make sure you stop fertilizing in the winter months.

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

Now that we know all about succulents, let’s make a cute centerpiece for our outdoor table!

Supplies Needed

3-4 Succulents (painted or not)- these are priced at $6.88 each

Gold Spray Paint

White Spray Paint

Inexpensive Pizza Pan (this was just $.92)

Painters Tape

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

Directions

1. Remove plant in plastic pot from the clay pot. Remove stickers. Hold your can 8 inches away from your surface and spray in a sweeping motion side to side with a slight overlap. It has always been my experience to go thin with the paint, allow it to dry, and then to add another layer for the best results and minimal drip. Allow the paint to dry for one hour.

2. Using your painters tape, tape off anywhere you would like to have some gold peeking through. You can do a paint dipped pot and do the bottoms, trim the top in gold, or create your own unique paint effect with geometric taping. Spray paint those parts gold and allow your pots to dry.

3. Finally, spray paint your pizza pan gold.

4. Once it is dry, pull everything together and display it on your outdoor table for a unique centerpiece.

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from MomAdvice.com

Have any tips for succulent care or selection? Feel free to leave them here- I’d love to hear about your experience with these plants!

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How To Print Waterlogue Pictures

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

I am so excited to share with you today’s tutorial on how to print Waterlogue images for easy and beautiful gifts for someone special in your life. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, the Waterlogue app is a great way to make beautiful watercolor prints for a favorite mama in your life.

Walmart challenged me to showcase a budget-friendly gift to give for Mother’s Day and I just knew that I had to show you how to do this so you can make beautiful images for a special lady in your life or as a gift to yourself. To get started, you will need to download the Waterlogue App ($1.99). The app is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, or iTouch. Once you have downloaded it, we can begin creating our art.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

I took my kids in the backyard and had them pose for me. I wanted to get one of the back of them or a side angle. Although sometimes the app looks amazing with faces directly to the camera, I find that it can be a little tricky picking the right filter and I wanted to insure we had good success. I suggest trying a couple of different angles so you can play with the filters until you find the perfect one.

This is the picture that I took with my DSLR, but I did not make any edits to the image. I just wanted to make sure that it was nice and crisp for the app, but you can definitely just shoot with your iPhone too!

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

To begin, tap on the camera to take a picture or import from your library. Since I took my photo with my DSLR, I emailed the photo to myself and then saved it to my phone to use for this. Next, you will want to select a filter. Each of the filters offers a different feel to your photos so have fun playing around with all the different options- there are twelve in all!

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

As you scroll through the film strip at the bottom, you will have a couple of other options for making your picture. One is how dark or how light the brushstrokes are in your photo. Try out the different options before finalizing your picture.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

As you continue to scroll through the film strip, you will also see the option to select the size of the brushstrokes.  This is not the file size, this is just the size of the brushstrokes which can be a little confusing.

The final selection you can make on the film strip is if you would like a border or not on your image. I decided to leave the border off.

Click the HEART (above the filmstrip) to head to SETTINGS (you will need to scroll all the way to the other end of the options on the bottom row.  Click SETTINGS and then change your file size to LARGE.  From this menu you can SAVE TO PHOTOS or just click MAIL to email the file to yourself. 

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

Once you have emailed the file to yourself you can open and print it just like a regular picture since it is in JPEG format.  Click the size of picture you want to print and simply print it on heavy-duty cardstock. You can find this over by the printer paper in the office supplies section of the store.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

Now that you have your picture,  you can place it in an inexpensive frame. I found these Better Homes & Gardens frames for a little less than $10 in the housewares. You will need to trim your image a bit, and you can use your removable mat to help figure out how to center and trim it. Place the picture inside and tie it with a little grosgrain ribbon for mom with an inexpensive bouquet of flowers.

How To Print Waterlogue Pictures from MomAdvice.com.

I hope you guys have the best time creating your own artwork and I hope this idea inspires you for an easy gift for someone special in your life!

For more great Mother’s Day gift ideas, check out these easy DIY Mother’s Day Gift Ideas!

Have you used the Waterlogue App before? What are you doing with this fun app?

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3 Rainbow Science Experiments for the Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns Movie

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

*This post is sponsored by Clarius Entertainment. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

In honor of the upcoming animated film release, Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns, I am sharing three fun rainbow experiments you can try with your kids. These rainbow experiments are not only fun, but also educational. Before we begin these rainbow crafts though, I have to share with you that I have two major obsessions that you might not know about.

The first is anything to do with Oz and the characters. If you don’t believe me, here is the only year I asked my kids to do my dream costumes… and the only year I ever got away with it.

Wizard of Oz Halloween Costumes

This was my dream Halloween year as a mom and my mother-in-law even helped make the costume for me. Basically, all perfect Halloween dreams come true.

I miss those days.

The other thing you should know is that I am an enormous fan of Lea Michele and anything and all things related to Glee. I run to a Glee playlist, I pretty much cry about every emotional thing on that show, I sleep in a Glee shirt (yes, I do!), and Lea is my favorite actress in it. When I heard that not only was a Legends of Oz movie coming out, but that Lea Michele was doing the voice of Dorothy for it, I was beside myself with excitement.

I will be first in line to buy my tickets. And I will probably pre-order my tickets at my theater. That’s how excited I truly am!

Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns

In the animated film, Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns, Dorothy is called back for another adventure in Oz.  After waking to post-tornado Kansas, Dorothy (Lea Michele) and Toto are whisked to Oz on a magical rainbow mover sent by their old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (Jim Belushi) and the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer). Time in Oz has passed much faster than back in Kansas, and Dorothy discovers that the Jester (Martin Short) – the devious brother of the Wicked Witch of the West – is taking Oz over one region at a time, holding their leaders captive and casting a pall of darkness over the beloved land. Even Glinda (Bernadette Peters) is unable to combat the Jester’s evil powers, making Dorothy their only hope.

When she arrives in Oz, Dorothy’s plan is to travel to the Emerald City to reunite with her old friends and join forces with them to stop the Jester. However, the yellow brick road isn’t quite as easy to follow this time around, especially with the Jester planting tricky detours to lead her astray, so she enlists the help of Wiser the owl (Oliver Platt), Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), China Princess (Megan Hilty) and Tugg the tugboat (Patrick Stewart) to help find her way.

Since Dorothy is sent to Oz on a magical rainbow mover, we decided to try three rainbow experiments that you can do together in honor of the film!

 

Make a Liquid Rainbow

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Supplies Needed

Olive Oil

Rubbing Alcohol

Dawn Blue Dish Detergent

Corn Syrup

Food Coloring (red & green)

Large Jar

 

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Experiment

Let’s make a liquid rainbow in a jar.

1. To make our blue slowly pour 1 cup of blue dish soap down the side of your jar.  You want to make sure to do this slowly too so you don’t create any bubbles.

2. Next mix  1 cup of water with four drops of green food coloring. Mix well.  Tip your jar and slowly pour the water down the side of the jar.

3. Next pour one cup of oil carefully down the side of the jar to create your yellow.

4. Finally mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with four drops of red food coloring.  Tip your jar and slowly pour the alcohol down the side of the jar.

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Results from our Liquid Rainbow

Out of all of our experiments that we performed, this was our favorite. Our yellow got a little bubbly, but everything else stayed true with separate colors. This is a great lesson for teaching your kids about density. The different liquids all have different densities. Density means how much “stuff” there is in something. Not the thing’s weight nor its size, but how many atoms it has in it.  In our liquid rainbow, the dish soap is the densest layer and sits at the bottom of the glass, then the water is next, then the oil (which happens to be thick and can’t mix with water), and then the alcohol is the lightest in density. We are impressed with this one!

Make a Milk Rainbow

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Supplies Needed

1 cup of half & half or whole milk

Food coloring (in any rainbow of colors)

Dish soap

Experiment

Let’s make a milk rainbow!

1. Pour 1 cup of milk into the bowl

2. Add 3 drops of one color to the edge of the bowl. Repeat with two other colors, placed in the other edges of the bowl. Be careful not to mix or jiggle.

3. Squeeze a drop of dish soap in the center of the bowl.

4. Watch what happens to the colors when the soap is added.

Results from our Soap Rainbow

Does anyone sell real liquid food coloring anymore? We just had the gels so we found that the liquid fell to the bottom in our first experiment The second time around, the dish soap was already added so I made a little mixture of gel food coloring with the water and then we poured it into our bowl. It was amazing to see how the colors stayed separate with this dot of soap in the middle. We learned that the dish soap does not mix with the milk. The dish soap floats on top and spreads over the surface. As it spreads, it grabs the food color we dropped into it. Where the colors meet, they combine to form new colors. We also learned, don’t do this with just gel food coloring. It produces a muddy river when mixed.

Make Rainbow Roses

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Supplies Needed

Roses

Knife & cutting board (this part is for the grown-ups!)

Food coloring (any color of the rainbow)

Water

Cups

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Experiment

1. Trim  the ends of your roses under cool running water.

2. Have a grown-up cut the rose in half.

3. Fill glasses with water and lots of food coloring.

4. Stand roses up and take the two sections of the rose and place them in two different colors of water. Allow them to stand in this water for 24 hours.

Results From Our Rainbow Roses

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Did you think it would look like this? These Rainbow Roses have been promised on Pinterest dozens of times when I am on there. No, our roses did not look like this at all. They, were just slightly tinted with color on the edges, and two of them died during the rainbow color attempt. It might be better to try this one with carnations or to not split the stems at all.

3 Rainbow Science Experiments

Nailed it!

Well, maybe not.

We still saw how the color traveled through the flower although it wasn’t as rainbow awesome as we had hoped.

Legends of Oz

We know we are guaranteed spectacular rainbows though when Legends of Oz: Dorothy Returns hits theaters, so we plan to catch a rainbow there with the whole gang! I am so excited to see it and can’t wait to hear what you think of the movie when it releases on May 9!

*This post is sponsored by Clarius Entertainment. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Mama Francesca Cheese & Cheese Dusted Olives

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Mama Francesca Cheese Review

 

*This post is sponsored by Mama Francesca

Last month I mentioned my partnership with Mama Francesca Grated Cheese. I am excited to share another fun recipe idea that you can create in your kitchen and this one happens to require very little cooking, but is an impressive appetizer to add to your next get together or antipasto platter.

Mama Francesca  is a delicious grated cheese that comes in six different flavor varieties including Aromatico (Parmesan, Basil & Oregano), Fiero (Parmesan & Red Pepper), & Pungente (Parmesan & Garlic), Audace (Parmesan & Romano), and Perfetto (Classic Parmesan).

Mama Francesca Terzetto Cheese

You can also find the Terzetto (Parmesan, Asiago & Romano).  The best part is that these can all be found on the shelves of your local Walmart stores, including the new Terzetto which will be available at Walmart on April 21st!

Did you catch last month’s delicious Gluten-Free Pasta & Meatball recipe? I hope you didn’t miss it because I have already made it a few times since I shared it!

For inspiration for this month’s recipe, I looked on the Mama Francesca website to create a dish to share with you. The site offers a variety of recipes and when I happened upon a recipe for Cheese Dusted Olives…well, be still my beating heart, because I am already in love just from the title alone.

 Cheese Dusted Olive Recipe

Have you ever infused oils before? It truly makes any dish a showstopper and it is just a simple technique of adding herbs and any desire of flavoring to heated oil and allowing it to infuse into it. I do this with my husband’s favorite roasted shrimp, but had never thought to do this with olives. It changes the taste of the olives completely and adds that special wow factor to your antipasto platters.

The oil is infused with lemon and thyme and then poured over your olives on a platter (or a martini glass like me!)  and finished with your favorite cheese blend. I wanted these to have a little garlic bite to them so I used the Pungente (Parmesan & Garlic) to add that cheesy garlic flavor that I love.

I rounded out my antipasto platter with salami, prosciutto, and fresh grapes- all delicious and all, happily, gluten-free snack options.

 Cheese Dusted Olive Recipe

Since getting a babysitter is expensive, I am always looking for date night experiences at home. In the summer months, we enjoy an antipasto platter outside and chat after the kids head to bed. In the winter months, this is best served with a great Netflix documentary or board game for a fun evening in.  To round out the evening, this gluten-free meatball recipe I shared last month would also be a beautiful accompaniment as your evening appetizer!

I have stopped thinking of these things as special occasion foods, but an investment into our relationship and time together.

I hope these posts about Mama Francesca have inspired you to pick up a few varieties of cheeses to try and I hope you can give these delicious Cheese-Dusted Olives a spin for a fun date night in!

 Cheese Dusted Olive Recipe

Cheese Dusted Olives
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
An effortless & easy appetizer for lemon & thyme infused olives dusted with cheese.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Mama Francesca Parmesan Audace (or your favorite Mama Francesca cheese variety)
  • 2 cups Favorite Olives, rinsed
  • ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 1 Lemon, strips of peel only
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, heat oil over medium for 3 minutes, until warm, remove from heat.
  2. Place thyme and lemon peel in oil, let stand 1 hour.
  3. Once cooled, pour infused oil over olives on a platter.
  4. Sprinkle with Mama Francesca cheese.

 

 *This post is sponsored by Mama Francesca


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How to Stain a Picnic Table

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever stained a picnic table before? This was our first year staining our table and I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stain a picnic table so you can enjoy it all summer long.  Thanks to a coat of stain, our table looks and feels just like new and I can’t wait to show you just how easy it is to do.

Walmart challenged to me to showcase an idea for a Spring project and I knew that this was one of those projects that I really needed to complete on my to-do list, particularly after such a brutal Indiana winter.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever spotted something in a magazine and just knew you had to have it… yet, you could find it nowhere! Many years ago, I flipped through a magazine and spied a picnic table that Katie Brown owned that was in her backyard and I just knew I wanted a table like that. After inquiring on Facebook, we found a gentleman in town who makes picnic tables and after telling him what I envisioned, he built this beautiful table for us that comfortably sits eight to ten people.  When I look out my window, this makes me so happy and the meals shared at this table are what summer is all about.

To keep her looking good, we decided to freshen her up for another year of family meals.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed:

Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain (we did our table in Nutmeg Brown in Semi-Transparent)

Drop Cloth

Knit Rags

Paint Tray

Foam & Paint Brush

Sandpaper

Heavy-Duty Cleaner

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Directions

1. Before we begin, we need to prep our surface. Using a heavy-duty cleaner, spray and wipe down your table to remove any dirt and grime. Be sure that you clean the entire surface well and then wait 10-15 minutes, or until the table is completely dry, to begin staining. You never want to stain the table while it is wet so be sure that you are not trying to stain after a heavy rain.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

2. Since our piece was in good condition, it did not require any sanding. If your piece needs to be smoothed though, use a medium grit sandpaper sanding in the direction of the grain. This can be done with a small palm sander or can be done by hand. Once you are done with that, finish with a finer grit of sandpaper to smooth out any rough areas and give the table an even, smooth finish for the stain. Once it is sanded, make sure to use a tack cloth to remove any sanding.

3. Once your piece has been cleaned and prepped, it is time to begin applying stain.  With the Thompson’s Water Seal Waterproof Stain you do not want to thin this.  Make sure that you shake well and shake, stir or mix thoroughly before and occasionally during use. Before you begin staining, make sure you try a test run with a small trial patch in an inconspicuous place, like the underside of your bench or table, to make sure that the stain is the color you are going for.

Apply using an exterior paint pad, brush, roller, or even a rag to begin applying the stain to your table.  If you are doing the legs and underside of the table, lay down your drop cloth and invert your piece and do the bottom first. Allow the bottom to dry, it should take less than two hours to be fully dry, and then begin staining the top.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

5. Use your foam brush to get into the detail parts and legs of your table, using a rag to remove any drip marks on the ends.

6. Allow your table to dry for two hours.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

 

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

This table looks just like new again and it only cost me $30 in supplies. Since picnic tables do reside outside, they are exposed to all of the weather elements, which means you need to stain your table from time to time.  This stain typically will last two to three years, but possibly less time than that, depending on if your picnic table is in direct sunlight. The properties of  sunlight can dry out the stain and cause it to weather much faster.  It also has a lot to do with how much freezing and thawing happens, which in our area, seems to happen often! 

I’m so proud of my table and I hope it inspires you to freshen up your own picnic table for Spring.  Speaking of staining,  I am still SO proud of this stained table I created for our office. If you are looking for tips on indoor staining, be sure to visit that post!

Too intimidated by stain? Check out how I spray painted my side table and how we painted our kitchen table that is STILL going strong after all these years. And it never hurts to reupholster those chairs while you are at it!

Have you ever stained a picnic table or deck? What tips can you share on this?

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How to Style Your Bookshelves

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

How to Style Your Bookshelves from MomAdvice.com.

The art of styling bookshelves had never really been important to me until I started perusing pictures on Pinterest and saw the carefully curated collections and beauty in the organized book spines. Of course, I don’t have an unlimited budget where I can add decorative books in one carefully choreographed color or an unlimited budget for fantastic looking odds-and-ends to update my bookshelves. That is why I am excited to share with you some easy ideas for updating your bookshelves with Goodwill items and a few budget-friendly craft materials.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips Blog to grab some budget-friendly styling ideas for your bookshelves!

 

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How to Make a DIY Terrarium

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

How to Make a DIY Terrarium from MomAdvice.com.

You know people that are amazing at gardening and planting?

I’m not one of those people.

I am the girl that goes to the greenhouse and requests plants that can take care of themselves. My plants must be able to survive without water or nourishment of any kind.

Despite my black thumb, I spent many of my summers working in a greenhouse as a kid and I do know a few things about caring for plants. Thanks to my greenhouse knowledge, I know that terrariums are the perfect project for a girl with my skill set and they are also the perfect project  for any gardener-in-the-making.

For those of you itching to play in the dirt, this project is a fun one that adds a bit of green to your house while you await planting season.  If you are looking for a fun project to tackle with the kids, this can transform into a little fairy garden with a few novelty items.

I created this project for the Kenmore Blog a little over a month ago and my terrarium is still going strong. And I pat myself on the back EVERY TIME I SEE IT.

Yes, I do.

To find out how to create your own terrarium, visit the Kenmore Blog today for instructions on creating this beautiful Spring-filled addition to your home!

Learn how to make a DIY Terrarium for your home HERE.

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Sundays With Writers: Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

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One of the highlights of running our MomAdvice Book Club has been our author interviews. It is truly a dream come true to share these interviews with you and to get to ask writers my questions about their process, their pieces, and their own recommendations for great books.

With that in mind, I am starting a new series called, “Sundays With Writers.” It will not be a weekly feature, but as I read books that I think you will love, I will share an interview with you about them and about their books.  It gives me the chance to continue sharing about incredible books and the beautiful minds and thoughts behind their creation. It also gives me a chance to swim a bit more in their words and hopefully share about an author you may not know about.  So grab your coffee and let’s chat about beautiful books together!

We will begin our series with an incredible book that I hope you will run out and pick up! It is called, “Hush Little Baby,” written by Suzanne Redfearn. It is a well-paced psychological thriller that I could not put down. The recommendation came from my friend Kristen, at Dine & Dish, and as I closed on the final pages, I knew that I needed to interview her.

Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

Hush Little Baby is the story of a woman named Jillian Kane who has the life that she always dreamed of. She is a successful businesswoman, she has two beautiful kids, she wants for nothing financially, and her husband is a well-respected cop who every woman wish she had. Jillian is living with a secret though.  For nine years, her husband has abused her and he is calculating enough to abuse her in ways that no one would ever suspect that she is a victim.

When things escalate too far, Jillian decides to run away from him with her two kids. Unfortunately, she has no money, no plan, and no one that she can turn to.  It is in this most pivotal moment of her life that she develops unlikely friendships and learns to finally save herself and her kids. Her husband though, is a cop and is determined to do everything in his power to get his children back…and kill her.

I could not put this book down because I was so worried about Jillian and her kids. For two days, every moment I had, I was reading this to make sure that they could get to safety. When I say that I had my heart all wrapped up in this one, it would not be an understatement.

Today I am talking with Suzanne about her amazing book and a little bit about her process in writing this!

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The abuse that Jillian suffers is so painful to read through and yet illustrates how important it is for her to break free. Did you struggle with this as you were writing these scenes?

In order to accurately depict what Jillian was going through, I needed to do extensive research on domestic violence and reading the first person accounts and testimonials of victims was very difficult.  And then internalizing what I’d read so I could use it in the story was exhausting.  Writing is a lot like acting, in order to do it well, you need to get inside your character’s head, put yourself in their life, and experience what they are going through.  Jillian is a lot like me in some ways, so it wasn’t difficult to feel her plight.  The nice thing about being an author is that, unlike my characters, when it gets to be too much, I can step away and return to my real life, the one that is loving and warm and not full of violence and fear.

 One thing that really struck me in your book was that Jillian often thinks of herself in pivotal moments and not her children. This part really pulled at my heartstrings, but I wonder if it was meant to do that. Was this meant to showcase the guilt that we all have as mothers in putting our own needs first?

Great question and one I haven’t been asked.  This was a result of the research I did as well as my experience of being a mom myself.  Oftentimes this is the dilemma an abused woman faces, save herself or stay to protect her kids.  Fear plays havoc on the psyche and self preservation is an instinct that is hard to override.  But you’re right about the resulting guilt that occurs after a woman has those treacherous thoughts.  Even if she doesn’t act on them, it can be devastating.  Some readers have told me they didn’t like Jillian because they didn’t think she was a good mother.  I would defend that she is a real mother, one who is not perfect, who sometimes made mistakes and had selfish thoughts (haven’t we all?), who had been beat down to believe she wasn’t a good mother, but who ultimately risked everything to save her kids.

There is a pretty scary scene for me, as a mom, when Jillian finds her son torturing a frog at a birthday party. Was this meant to show us how the abuse had weaved its way into Drew’s life?

Thank you for picking up on that.  I think it was a pivotal moment foretelling of the perilous path Drew was on to follow in his dad’s footsteps.  Abuse begets abuse, and I believe it is because of that moment that Jillian realizes something needs to change, if not to save herself, to save her kids.  I contrasted the frog scene with the gift scene of the Hollyhock seeds to show that Drew is at a crossroads and that there is still hope to save him.

I had a secret hope that you would bring Jillian back to the Flying Goat and reunite her with the people that helped keep her safe. Did you consider bringing her back or weaving those characters in at the end?

So many readers have mentioned this, and I too fell in love with Goat and Paul and the entire crew from Elmer City, but the story told itself and ended where it was supposed to.  I will leave it to the readers’ imaginations to figure out when and where their paths cross again.

 I find it so unbelievable that this is your first novel- the writing is so beautiful and the scenes were woven together so well. It reminded me a lot of some of my favorite books from Heather Gudenkauf or Diane Chamberlain. Since you are an architect by profession, what brought you to this moment in your life to pursue writing and was this a difficult career transition for you?

 I am what someone termed an accidental author.  I did not go to school for writing and never considered becoming an author, but one day I sat down with an idea for a story and started to write and it poured out of me (that was seven years ago and it was not Hush Little Baby), and I discovered that I love to tell stories.  My grandfather was a storyteller, and I believe I inherited the gift from him.  I was hooked, and since architecture had tanked with the recession, I had time on my hands, so I set out to learn the craft and kept writing.  Hush Little Baby is the fifth novel I wrote but the first one to get published.  I still love architecture, and, if inspired, I will switch hats again and build something.  It’s not one or the other for me, it’s wherever I’m at in any given moment of time.  For now, the stories continue to flow, so I continue to peck at the keys, but who knows where this crazy path will lead or what I will do next.

 If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

 The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay.

 What do you have in store for us with your next project?

I am very excited about the next project.  It is another story about a mother protecting her children but in a very different context and with a very different protagonist.  I can’t disclose more than that, other than to say, it’s another rollercoaster ride of emotion.

*This series may contain affiliate links! 

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