Archive for the ‘Home & Organization’ Category

The Power of Living Small

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

The Power of Living Small from MomAdvice.com

Small space living comes with many challenges, but the rewards for a family on a budget are great. For a long time I considered our smaller home a temporary means to get us by until we could afford more.  As the years have gone by though, I have truly discovered the power of living in a smaller house and making the most of what we have been given. I can fully admit though, that it is all about our approach towards making our space our own, more than it is about the amount of square footage in our house.

Small space is all relative, of course, isn’t it? In full discretion, our home is 1,500 square feet for our family of four. While that may sound like a lot or a little, the space is made smaller and more challenging with a tri-level floor plan. If it was spread on one or two levels, I am sure it would feel much larger. I think it has been the floor plan that is more of a challenge than the square footage of our home. Regardless, spatial challenges have existed and we have learned a lot from working through them.

One thing that people remark on though is how our home doesn’t feel small at all and I recently had a visitor who said she was so impressed with how efficient our home was (world’s best compliment- by the way!). I attribute it to one part renovation, one part smarter selections for our home, and one part major clutter-busting. The investments that we have made have given us a new appreciation for our space and have helped us fall in love with this house.

Now if we moved, I know I would never be as happy as I am right here.

That’s a good feeling to have.

Regardless of your square footage though, I wanted to share with you a few ideas for learning to embrace the power of living in the space you are in right now. There is so much that I have learned over the years about making our home the best that we can and I wanted to share with you some ideas on how to make the most of the space you are in right now.

Transforming-Corners-In-Your-Home-15

Reconsider Your Furniture

Furniture can truly make a room feel larger or smaller depending on the size of it and the purpose it serves in your home. Our larger furniture that we purchased for our previous home was not well-suited for the home we had now, but replacing it was not a cost that we could really afford.

Instead, consider scaling back on the amount of furniture you have in your rooms. Do you truly use the side tables in your home? Is the coffee table really needed or would your space benefit from an ottoman that could serve as dual storage? Try removing pieces of furniture from the room and see if they make the flow of the space feel bigger.

The Power of Living Small from MomAdvice.com

When you do replace furniture, try buying items that could serve as a dual purpose or could maximize your smaller rooms. Our ottoman in our family room is the perfect place to tuck our record collection in our home, for example. One piece, but two functions to everything helps to make the most of the corners in our home.  The furniture, as we have begun to replace it, serves multipurposes like beds with bookcase and drawer storage.

Basement Before 2

Cut the Clutter in Half

The best part about living in a smaller space is that it has forced me to edit the belongings I have and has kept me from buying as much as I would in a larger space. If your home closets that are small, if you don’t have a basement, if there is no garage…than these situations can truly work for you as a way to keep your clutter naturally under control. Here is my spot where I like to throw things I don’t know what to do with- we all have ‘em. I am a work in progress just like the next person, but I am proud to say that I have reduced our clutter by 50% this year thanks to a few new decluttering & minimizing challenges I have embraced.

Lately I have been trying to live my life by the infamous quote from William Morris, “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” If it is not bringing beauty or usefulness to my space, then I can feel good about passing those items on to someone else in need.  Suddenly, my kitchen counters feel spacious, the basement really does have a spot for everything in storage, and the house really does have enough space for us all. It’s all about perspective and investing in the things you really do want in life.

Consider making a weekly date with yourself to devote an hour towards improving one spot in your home that you struggle with. If it is a drawer that never opens, an office that is filled with useless papers, a basement that has become an avalanche of misplaced items, spend your hour making those spots in your home better. Make it a goal to cut the clutter in half in these spots to make them more livable and enjoyable.

The Power of Living Small from MomAdvice.com

Make Wise Renovation Investments

Once you cut the clutter in your home, you can begin dreaming of new ways to use that freed up space. Renovating your home can be costly, but it is not as costly as it is to buy a brand new home. The best part is that you can take your time with it and tackle one corner at a time, personalizing it to your own personal style. If there is a particular area in your home you want to improve, consider getting an estimate to make your space more livable. Many homes have unused corners and smaller spaces that could be improved upon to make the home more livable.

Our little house got a much needed renovation to make our space work for us for many years to come that has been one of the wisest investments we have ever made.  With one wall knocked out and putting unused basement storage to work, our home was renovated into a spacious family room and a quiet home office in the basement. Each year we tackle one project (at least) to make our home look and feel spacious and loved. We have updated our backyard shed into a useable bonus space, we did a beautiful stamped patio & firepit that could act as an extension to our indoor space outdoors, and we added little things like a fireplace in the office that cozy up the home, and knocked out walls to let the sunshine in through big open windows. As we speak, we are adding a shower to our little guest bathroom so that we can make this home a two bath house.

With a ’60’s home, there will always be projects, but I actually love the dreaming and scheming of making these spaces in our house uniquely us.

As my husband’s grandmother says when she visits us, “I love coming here because there is just always something new to look at!” That is probably a very true statement since we are always working on our little fixer-upper.

Begin really thinking about the space you are in and how you could make it work for your family. Look for guidance in home magazines or consider spending the money on having an architect coming to evaluate your home to draw up a plan for making more out of the space you are currently in. You may be surprised to discover how much more square footage you might have right where you already are.

Family-2014-1

Make Your Space Feel Permanent

If you look at your home as a temporary place until you find something better, you might be overlooking the chance to really make the space you are in work for your family. I found that when I finally told myself that this was my home (whether I liked it or not) and put the elbow grease into it, it transformed not only the space…but my attitude towards it.  As with all things in life, it is what you make it and I am choosing to make it the best that I truly can!

If you are living in a smaller home or apartment, just remember to consider your blessings. Not only do you have a mortgage or monthly payment that you can afford, but you have less of a home to clean, a natural way to edit the excess from your life, and more importantly….cozier quarters that force your family to always be together. What could be better for a family than that?

We have a sign hanging in our home that reads, “Small homes grow tight families.” It is truly my belief that  our little house fosters just the kinds of relationships that I want with the best people in my life.  I can continue to maximize the square footage on the existing space, but I love the togetherness that our smaller space brings.

How have you learned to embrace the space you are in right now?

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Declutter Your Space & Rid Your Life of Clutter Forever

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

How to Declutter Your Home from MomAdvice.com

This year I went on a journey towards being truly serious about decluttering our home of unnecessary items. I would conservatively say that we have reduced our belongings easily by 50% and I still feel that there is more that we can do this year. Is your dream to declutter your space this year and rid yourself of clutter forever? It is a common resolution and I am living proof that this is achievable, although I will always be a work in progress. Please avert your eyes from my basement storage area & garage for a bit (ahem!).

Today I want to share with you a few resources that have helped our family on the journey towards reclaiming our home- the transformation is so worth it! These are the resources I used to start the journey towards a clutter free space and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Join me on the Goodwill Tips blog today to learn how to declutter your space & rid your life of clutter forever!

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Healthy Fridge Makeover {& No-Bake Energy Bites}

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Healthy Fridge Makeover_1

As I shared with you, when I attended college I lived on junk & convenience food and I had the inevitable “Freshman 15,” to prove it from my bad eating habits throughout the year. I only wish I knew how great I would have felt and how much better I would have performed if I had stocked my fridge with healthy options.

Now I know that there are healthy ideas for stocking your refrigerator – whether it’s a dorm sized mini-fridge, your first apartment fridge, or the huge family-sized fridge many of us graduate to – and I’m making sure that my kids do know that the foods that are good for your body are easy to keep on hand, too. In this healthy fridge makeover, I’m sharing easy ways to keep good-for-you foods within reach along with a recipe for a quick to make no-bake energy bite that you can mix up in a bowl for easy snacks on-the-go that both kids and adults love.

Healthy Fridge Makeover_2 Eggs- Eggs are the perfect food for starting your day out right or for a healthy late night snack. Did you know that you can prepare an egg easily in the microwave with no special equipment at all? Simply spray or grease a bowl to prepare it and crack two eggs in it with a tablespoon of milk and whisk well with a fork. Place your bowl of eggs in the microwave and cook for one minute. Give it another little scramble with your fork and then cook for thirty second intervals, until your eggs reach the desired consistency. That’s it! Don’t forget that you can add your own fun add-ins to this versatile food like chopped up veggies, cheeses, or meats.

Berries- Berries are a great item to keep on hand to eat as a side, to grab by the handful for a quick snack, mixed in with a cup of Greek yogurt, or as a topper to a bowl of instant oatmeal in the morning. Cut berries can also be added to a water bottle and then allowed to steep overnight to create a healthy & inexpensive infused water.

Veggies- Cut veggies are the perfect item to have on hand for a quick and healthy snack. Some of my favorites for snacking are peppers (in every color), carrot sticks, celery sticks, & cauliflower. Pair these veggies with your favorite dips like a nut butter with celery or dip them in hummus for an easy snack.

Nut Butters & Nuts- Nothing is quicker or easier than keeping a package of nuts on hand for snacking. Did you know that you can even freeze nuts? Grab an extra package and store it in your freezer, up to six months, to make sure they don’t go rancid. Try a new variety like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, or cashews for a little variety. These can also be added to bowls of instant oatmeal in the morning or mixed into a salad for a crunch topping.

Nut butters are great for an accompaniment to celery or cut apples. My own favorite nighttime snack is peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast with a glass of almond milk before I go to bed. It’s a satisfying and inexpensive snack!

Hummus- There are many different flavors and varities now of hummus and it is the perfect snack or spread to add to pitas or even smeared as a topping for your favorite sandwich. My favorite variety is the Red Pepper Hummus with sliced cucumbers or pita for an effortless snack.

String Cheese- String cheese is one of those grab-and-go snacks that I love to keep on hand in our fridge. Chop these up to add to your eggs to add a little cheesiness to your egg dishes without investing in bags of shredded cheese or wrap cheese with whole grain bread and a little deli meat into a “sushi” roll for a quick sandwich that can make lunches special.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites Energy Bites- No-bake energy bites are a fun snack to have on hand when you are craving a treat with a little sweetness. We all adore these at my house! The best part is that they don’t require an oven or mixer, making these an easy treat to make…and to eat! Did I mention it tastes an awful like cookie dough too? Yum!

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_3

No-Bake Energy Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16 bites
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  3. Once chilled, simply roll into balls.
  4. Store these in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_2

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Guest Post: How to Incorporate Healthy Living Back in Your Life

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Note: This is a repost of Ashley’s post from January of 2014 that I thought we needed to see again as we journey through our m challenge of focusing on our health because not only is Ashley inspiring, she gives some wonderful, concrete tips to make healthy living a real part of our daily lives!

I am Ashley Johns, a Personal Trainer, Writer, Creator of Fierce Forward and Fierce Forward Intention Bracelets.  Ever since losing over forty pounds and taking back my life, my mission is to empower others to move forward, fiercely and healthfully, towards the life they want.

I met Amy at a local blogger’s get-together where I learned how retro-chic and creative she is!  We chatted about me guest posting on Momadvice and decided something very valuable I could share with you are my tips on how to make you and your family’s health a priority.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Does this chick have kids?”   Let me answer that.  I am a fierce chick and I do not yet have children, but I sure do know how to manage healthy living and make it work for anyone!

Oh, and I am a master empathizer.

Last September, I married my love, Marcus, and with kids in our foresight, I have made it a priority to position myself in a healthy, balanced lifestyle before all the madness begins, or so that’s what my friends are bracing me for!

Although I’m not yet a mother, I can tell you that I have the utmost respect for all mothers out there and am so grateful to have my mother as my best friend, along side my husband.  Having a full time job, cooking, working out, grocery shopping, friend time, date night, bubble baths, doing your hair on a good day, prepping your healthy food, drinking your gallon of water each day;  I mean, how would all this be doable with a little person(s) in your life?

Well, I know that one day I will figure it out and take it from Amy that it can be done.  After all, I believe nothing is impossible and if you want something bad enough, you find a way and make it work!  Because us women do hard things.

Here are my tips on how to incorporate healthy living back in your life!  

Stock your car.

Stock your car with water bottles and bring healthy, kid friendly snacks with you when you are on the go.  My favorite snacks to pack that are fast and easy are nuts, protein bars, Larabars, cheese sticks and my amazingly delicious baked oatmeal.  This way you leave your house prepared and you won’t be inclined to get fast food in a pinch.

Know your fast food alternatives & set a healthy precedent for your children.

It is so easy to be on the road, feel hungry and pull through McDonalds in 2 minutes; boom, the kids are happy.  Don’t fall prey to this behavior because you and your children deserve more.  There are so many healthy fast food alternatives available to you, such as Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal or Greek yogurt, Panera Bread’s Secret Low Calorie Menu, Subway with mostly fresh ingredients and so many more.  Be mindful of where you take yourself and your kids when you’re out by browsing the online food menus available at most restaurants.  You and your family deserve to eat healthfully and it is possible when you set the intention to do so.

Pack your gym bag the night before.

After a long day’s work, it is easy to put off going to the gym, but if you have your gym bag packed and with you in the front seat, coupled with a quick snack from your snack pack, you will be much more likely to hit the gym.  If you have your kids with you, there are plenty of gyms that have child care.  I look forward to my future “me time” at the gym when I have kids.  Use it as your time to decompress, breathe and regroup so that your children get to vibe off of your calm nature as you go on with your day together.

Breathe.

A lot of people underestimate the power of breathing. When you’re going from place to place, dropping one child off at day care and entertaining another child in the car while on your way to get groceries and feeling the stress on your shoulders, take three deep breaths, exhaling slowly to release the stress, anger and frustration you’re feeling in the moment; then smile.  My motto is, ‘Just breathe through it.’

Be kind to you.

This is a hard one for us women!  Put a spot for you on your to-do list or make a date with yourself.  As women, we spend so much time and energy on others, it’s also important to make time for yourself.  Make sure you’re at the top of your to-do list!  Don’t for a second, forget that you are just as important as everyone else that gets your love and energy.  You deserve that love and energy and need it.   Be kind to yourself, allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes, laugh it all off, smile, make time for you and know that whatever you need, you have it now.  You are enough and you are perfect.

Be intentional.

I have heard children are like sponges.  I truly look forward to the time I can be a source of influence and inspiration to my children.  I wholeheartedly believe in the power of intention and that what you think becomes your reality.  By allotting more time to focus on your intentions as a family, you are creating a more solid foundation in which you are grounded in.  When you know where you are going, it is easier to get there.  I created Fierce Forward Intention Bracelets to empower myself and others to live with intention each day.  Having a visual reminder of your Purpose, Commitment, Courage & Strength, you begin to embody these intentions the more you focus on them.  I even make them child sized upon request!

Fierce Forward Bracelet

You are so lucky to have a family, a foundation, to build upon and work towards something bigger, together!  Be intentional as an individual-remember that girl in the picture- and as a whole and you surely will have a healthy family and a healthy you.

My final tip I will leave you with is to find a picture of yourself that radiates who you are.  This can be a picture from childhood, a picture of you caught off guard five years ago or a more recent picture.  Take your time in choosing and make sure this picture speaks to you and truly nails the definition of you.  Put it up on your DIY Chalkboard (that link will take you right to my tutorial!) or your bathroom mirror, look at that picture every day and remember to take care of her.

DIY Chalkboard Project

Thank you so much for reading my words and thank you amy for the opportunity to reach your Community of Fierce Mothers, whom I look up to!

Fierce Forward Bracelet Ashley from Fierce Forward

To Find Out More About Ashley:

Fierce Forward Intention Bracelets
Website:  Fierce Forward
Find Ashley on Facebook
Find Ashley on Pinterest, on Twitter or on Instagram! 

How do you make healthy living and “me time” a priority for yourself? Feel free to leave your ideas in our comments below!

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The First Aid Essentials Every Mom Needs (Free Printables) & a $100 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

A fresh new year is a great time to  not only declutter our homes of unnecessary items, but it is also a great time to stock up on life’s daily essentials. Emergency preparation has been something that has been on my mind these days and with the focus of our site being on health/wellness for the m challenge, I thought this would be a great time to address my poorly stocked First Aid Kit, a unique way to package it for the home, and I would love to give you the chance to win a gift card of $100 to create one yourself out of products from BHG at Walmart.  What do I know about First Aid essentials and preparedness. It turns out, not much.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit: ER Doctor Jamie Shoemaker

I am not an expert on emergencies and emergency situations, but lucky for me, I actually happen to know an ER doctor in town who has seen his fair share of emergencies at his hospital. Dr. Jamie Shoemaker is an ER Doctor for Elkhart General Hospital and GRACIOUSLY offered his expert opinion on what every mom should have in her First Aid Kit to be prepared for emergency situations.

It should come as no surprise that I barely had the bandages and cream category covered.

Ahem.

On his list of First Aid essentials, he suggested different size bandages, Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Hydrocortisone creme, Triple antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, nasal bulbsuction, syringes for oral med admin, tweezers, tape, gauze of varying sizes, Ace wraps, aloe, nail clippers, antiseptic wipes, instant cold compresses, scissors, pairs of non latex gloves, thermometer, splint, safety pins, calamine lotion, flashlight, blanket, tooth preservation
kit, contact lenses saline and case and a first aid manual.

Don’t worry- we have a printable for all of this for you to take when you head to the store.

He also noted that aspirin should be avoided in children due to Reye’s syndrome so he did not include it on this list for moms.

Thank you, Dr. Shoemaker, for helping us get prepared for emergencies in this new year.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

I headed to Walmart with his list and wanted to stock up on every item, but also knew that I had to find a pretty way to package it. Thankfully, the BHG product line at Walmart offer a variety of cute totes, baskets, and other organizer essentials. Since I have nowhere to tuck my First Aid kit, it will rest on top of our little bathroom storage unit, on display for our guests. I wanted something attractive for storage so I settled on this handy Better Homes & Gardens Chesapeake Magazine Basket for under $13 that housed all of these fabulous First Aid essentials with ease and kept them tucked away without anyone knowing what is in there. How perfect is that?

Emergency preparedness is such an essential part of running a household and I know that this is something I should work on in our home. Whether it is being prepared with a bandage and some cream for the neverending injuries in our home or making sure our home is stocked with candles and flashlights for our neverending power outages or even more seriously, the need for disaster preparedness with canned foods and water…

Let’s face it, this stuff tends to fall on the shoulders of many mothers.

I know it falls on mine.

I can admit that I have done a pretty lousy job at stuff like that, but this year I want to do better and I want to encourage you to do better too. This month, the m challenge isn’t just about focusing on our own needs, but also on the needs of those we love. I hope this little push can help you this year to address key needs in your own household.

How to Stock a First Aid Kit

(just a screenshot- click below for the printable please!)

I have prepared for you a FREE printable list of First Aid Essentials that you can take to the store of all the recommendations Dr. Shoemaker offers for us.  There is no need to stress about being prepared this year- we have you covered!

Enter below to win one $100 Walmart Gift Card from BHG at Walmart to stock your First Aid Kit for the new year. One lucky winner will receive this gift card to stock up on all the essentials. This giveaway ends on January 21st! Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Live-Better-Network-Badge

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

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How to Make a Breakfast Bar

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

We have come to the age of slumber parties and epic sleepovers in our home. If you were anything like me when I was a child, you just couldn’t wait to wake up and find out what would be for breakfast.  Making a breakfast bar can be a fun way to serve a large group whether it is your child’s birthday or simply an easy way to entertain guests for the morning. I am partnering with Walmart today to show off a cute display for creating a breakfast bar in your home.

My favorite sleepover when I was a kid involved a huge display of toppings for our waffles and pancakes. I remember as a child delighting in all of the options and I still have that delight even as an adult.  Now as mom, I love creating a self-service bar of choices for our meals where everyone can customize their own meals to their own tastes.

Breakfast, in particular, as a buffet is a great idea so that guests can sleep in and then come and create their breakfast whenever they are ready, eliminating the need for you to all be around the table at the same exact time.

Even on busy school mornings, I find that this option would work beautifully since we all arrive at the table at different times. By prepping the toppings ahead, you can save time in the morning and really enjoy that cup of coffee.

Here are some of my suggestions for creating a beautiful and easy breakfast bar spread!

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Make Serving Easy With Scoops & Trifle Bowls

Ditch the cereal boxes for an elegant display utilizing clear glass trifle bowls and an inexpensive all-purpose scoop. Give your guests choices by providing more than one selection of cereal.

 

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Create a Simple Toppings Bar

I love to provide a variety of toppings so everyone can make their bowl their own. Fresh strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries can be a wonderful fresh topper. Dried fruits, slivered almonds, or crunchy walnuts can also add variety to your toppings bar. Make an easy batch of granola (I love this vanilla-scented granola or this easy honey nut granola) and add this to the mix for another crunchy layer. Remember to take advantage of what fruits are in-season to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Add a Gluten-Free Option

As someone who is gluten-free, I love when there are options for me. Yogurt can be a delicious option and give your guests a chance to also create their own bowl utilizing the delicious toppings you have provided for your breakfast buffet. I like to keep small bowls handy to pour the yogurt out into and giving me room to really layer on the fruit, nut, and granola toppings, just as I would do with cereal. Make sure that you are using gluten-free oats if making your own granola or purchase gluten-free prepared granola if purchasing them.

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Make a Pretty Display

If there is one investment that I am glad I have made over the years, it has been in classic white dishes. Display your toppings in pretty bowls and add an inexpensive bouquet of flowers to the center of your breakfast bar. Even if the ingredients are not all homemade, you can still make things feel pretty and upscale with a few inexpensive additions and beautiful plating.

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

I hope these ideas inspired you for your breakfast. Whether it is a weekday rush or a leisurely morning with out-of-town guests, the breakfast bar can be an easy way to serve a meal!

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How to Paint a Laminate Fireplace

Friday, November 28th, 2014

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

It has been a dream of mine to have a fireplace in our home.  It started with a faux mantel obsession and endless nights on Craigslist. Then every home improvement show we watched had beautiful restored mantels that made me pine more for a cozy place in our home to sit. When we rented a lake cottage last winter, we all took turns sitting by it in the evenings to warm up. I just can’t seem to get over it.

Walmart wanted to partner with me on a fun winter project and I just knew it was time to pull the trigger.  You know, let the obsessing begin again. This time, I decided to explore the electric fireplace option for our home due to its affordability and ease it would be to add it to a room in our home.

I haven’t seen an electric fireplace in action in many years, but I can honestly say that they have come a long way. The flames are much more realistic than they used to be and you can select if you just want to sit by your little faux fire or if you want actual warmth which warms a room as a space heater would.  It’s definitely not the real deal, but a beautiful substitute especially for small spaces that need a little cozying.

Electric Fireplaces Ideas Under $200

Pictured Above: 1. Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199)/ 2. Wall Mounted Fireplace ($124.95)/ 3. Electric Fireplace with 26″ Mantel ($129.99) 4. Electric Fireplace With 38″ Mantel (159.97)/ 5. 26″ Polyfiber Electric Fireplace ($199)

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

This back corner in my craft room/office was intended to be a place to unwind. Unfortunately, unwinding seemed impossible when facing my desk and the corner ended up being a pretty space that was rarely used. I decided that wall would be the perfect spot for our little fireplace and settled upon this Electric Fireplace with a 44″ mantel ($199) for the space. I paid the $5 for swift shipping and the item came overnight- I am not kidding.

This is a build-it-yourself piece of furniture that took a couple of hours to put together. I must admit, my husband was not on board at this point with my decision to bring this into our space, but I knew it could anchor this corner better and would be a lovely treat in the winter.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

That same evening (a late night Instagram capture), I rearranged the furniture and the kids raided their library books and spent the evening cozy by it.

I loved the cozy space, but felt that the fireplace could look a little better with a little paint and creating a brighter focal point. I decided that I would paint it white to brighten it up and also to camouflage that this is a laminate wood piece. Have you ever painted laminate wood before?  It really couldn’t be easier with these three simple ingredients.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture in 3 Easy Steps

1. Paint on a Coat of Zinsser Primer- I became a fan of Zinsser Primer when I painted our kitchen table (she still looks great!) and could not seem to remove the layers of poly that had been applied to the table. In the same way, Zinsser makes a laminate surface accept your paint. If you don’t use this as a sealant before painting, it is likely that your project will begin to bubble and it will not accept the application of paint. Zinsser dries very quickly and is easy to apply to the surface. Once it is dry (usually within an hour or two), you can begin painting your furniture

2. Next, you can apply your paint. I have been painting like crazy over here and so I had a gallon of paint on hand that I could dig into for this project. Since the laminate wood was so dark, I used my Benjamin Moore Paint (the paint color is White Dove) that included a primer already in it.  With the addition of that, plus the Zinsser, I only needed one coat and a little more for touching up.

3. Finish with two coats of Polycrylic in a Clear Satin. I have a very sad, sad tale to share soon about two pieces of furniture that were ruined by an oil-based poly. In fact, they yellowed within a single week. Please if you do one thing, take my advice and use Polycrylic to finish your project. It is clear, it doesn’t smell as awful as the oil-based, and this product WON’T YELLOW YOUR FURNITURE.  Allow each coat of poly to dry for two hours before reapplying. Allow the piece to dry overnight.

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

How to Paint Laminate Furniture from MomAdvice.com

The white paint definitely makes this fireplace the focal point of the room. I have already decorated her for the holidays and will be sharing my mantel decorating ideas on the blog next week that I created in less than an hour. This space is truly the happiest corner in our home and has been a wonderful place to unwind in the evening hours or for a break in the office during the day. I can’t believe how affordable this solution was and I love that I added my own touches to it to truly make it mine.

As you can see it, it is a hit with the whole family even our cat loves it and cozies up with us here. I highly recommend a little Bing on the record player to really bring this corner to life!

Happy holidays, friends!

xo

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Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

I have never had a truly clean and organized closet until I started my fashion capsule project. Had I known that I could have been making considerable cash this whole time, I might have taken the endeavor a bit more seriously. Today I want to share with you some resources I have discovered for making money while cleaning out your closet. Not only do you have the power to make some serious cash, but you also have the opportunity to transform lives by paying it forward to charities in need.

First things first, let’s talk about my purse clean out that netted me $80! 

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Start With Your Purses- I Made a Ton

I have a terrible habit of switching my purses and never taking time to clean them out. Not only did I find a lot of great lipsticks to wear, but I also discovered that I had a lot of credit card gift cards with small denominator amounts on them that I didn’t know what to do with. Do you know that you can transfer all of these tiny gift card amounts to an Amazon gift card with no minimum balance? I headed over to this page where you can quickly reload your balance with NO MINIMUM amount. After kicking myself for all of the cards that had been sitting there expiring, I was happy to see that I now had $80 of credit that I can use towards my shopping.

Sell The Things You Aren’t Wearing

It has been brought to my attention since minimizing my wardrobe how little I really do need and how little I really do wear. If your items are brand name and in gently used condition consider selling them to make some extra cash or to put towards wardrobe items you really would love and wear.

Here are a few resources you can check. I know there are more, but these are the ones that I am most familiar with: 

Twice

Twice- This has been my #1 resource for pulling together my capsule wardrobe, but it is also my #1 resource for selling my gently used items. Twice will send you a selling kit within 4-6 days of your request that includes a bag and prepaid postage sticker for your items. If you are really excited to just get started though, you can grab a box from your recycling and fill it up with a label you print from your computer. Once you send in your first shipment they will give you $10 of credit towards a purchase so you can buy something you really love. Here is a list of the brands that they accept. Once they make an offer you can decide if you want to accept it or not.  If you don’t like the price, you pay $4.95 for return shipping. In contrast, thredUP charges $12.00 to return your items.

Keep in mind that this is not a consignment shop so they pay you once the item is accepted. No need to wait for your items to sell.

Threadflip

Threadflip- Threadflip is a new discovery for me and I am so excited about using this for my next capsule wardrobe. Threadflip is more of an online consignment shop for your clothing so that means you get paid when your item has been sold and shipped. That being said, they charge a mere 20% commission on your items so that you can pocket 80% of the profit. 

Much like Twice, they will send you an envelope with a prepaid shipping label for your items. Once you send it to them, they will list it for you by their team of professionals, saving you the hassle of trying to photograph and style your item. There is also the option to list the items yourself if you don’t want to send the items in. For me, the profit is the same so I would much rather have their team list it for me, but that one is totally up to you.

Poshmark

Poshmark- Poshmark & Threadflip are very similar in nature and the site is one of my new favorite places to browse for items for my capsule.  It is an app available for iPad and iPhone that allows you to shop, sell, and engage with virtual closets full of pre-worn or new pieces on one simple platform.

You list the items yourself- some take their own pictures while others utilize the photos from the website of where they purchased the item. They also charge a 20% commision fee on your items allowing you to pocket 80% of your profit. 

I will say from a user perspective, despite adding my sizing and storing it, I find the site a bit like going to a high-end garage sale. You have to really scan through all of the listings and even when sizing is set, it still pulls items that are not in my size or unrelated to my searches. Since users set their own pricing, you can find some steals though and I still love the thrill of a good hunt so I am sure thrifty shoppers will be ready to embrace your gently loved clothing.

thredUP

thredUPAll of my friends have been raving about thredUP and after joining to try it for this article, I can see what the fuss is about. Not only can you clean out your closet to make money, but you can also make money on your kid’s stuff and maternity items too! As with some of the other places I have listed, you can order a bag with a prepaid shipping label to start your closet clean out. Their fashion resale professionals review your clothing and then pay up to 80% of the resale value. You can earn thredUP shopping credit, or simply cash out with PayPal. Items that they don’t accept go to charitable partners or textile recycling companies. They can also be mailed back to you as part of their Return Assurance program for a $12.99 shipping fee. Be sure to check their quality standards before sending. Here is $10 of credit to spend on your first purchase. 

eBay- eBay has been around forever and is actually featured a lot in my It’s the 3 Little Things because I find some really killer deals on there as a buyer.  Although I have never personally sold items on eBay, I have had many friends who have with great success. There is a seller fee that you can read more about the eBay seller fees here. The nice thing is that you can sell items individually or you can sell them as a lot grouping instead.

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Give Away The Rest

If you don’t love it, you aren’t wearing it, and you can’t sell it…share it with someone in need. There are so many fantastic charities to give to and if the items aren’t the wildly popular name brands or you just don’t want to hassle with the sale, consider paying it forward and giving your items to a worthwhile cause.

Here are a few options to consider:

Women’s Shelters- By far my favorite place to donate is to our local women’s shelters. This link helps you browse your state and find a shelter closest to you to give.

Dress For Success- Help someone look and feel their best for their job interviews. Their greatest need is larger size suits and apparel, but any business attire will do! Check here for locations.

Pick Up Please- The Vietnam Veterans of America is a respected charity that gives aid to all of America’s veterans, not just those of a particular age group or war. By donating used clothes, shoes, appliances, and other household items, you help generate funds to take care of the soldiers and service men and women who help keep America safe from harm. See if your state participates by visiting here.

Churches- Growing up our church had a room where guests or members could shop. Check with your church to see if they offer this or if they are partnered with any shelters in town where they could recommend sharing your donation.

Goodwill- Goodwill provides employment and job training to those in need of job assistance. Donations couldn’t be easier thanks to the drop-off boxes. Check here for locations.

Once you have your closet cleaned out, let’s get it organized!

Try a Capsule Wardrobe (here are my Fall & Winter capsules) to Minimize- Read more about what I have learned from minimizing my closet.

Tips & Tools for Organizing Your Closet

Have you made money selling items in your closet? Leave your experience here with the different services and be sure to share any resources that I might have missed!

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Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.

As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them this month to showcase a beautiful way to entertain for the holidays utilizing products from BHG that are available at Walmart.  Have you seen the woodland creatures line of dishes? Swoon- I am IN LOVE. These items are over in the seasonal display section of your store.  As someone who couldn’t be fonder of foxes or owls, I was so excited to see these beautiful dishes at the store and most of these items are under $3 each- what a fun way to dress up your table.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

I used my basic white dishes as I do for every holiday and keep things economical by adding a fun design to my salad plates for the holidays each year. These owl plates are so sweet and add a little pop of color to my table. A natural table runner like this one helps add texture to my table and I used owl mugs to hold our forks and spoons for our dinner. The foxy salt and pepper shakers add a little woodland whimsy to round out the table.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas I used driftwood log cuts from our craft store to add different dimensions to the table, added a jar of branches from our backyard, and then added my DIY thumbtack pumpkins to finish the table.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Crisp napkins made of stain resistant fabric are always top on my holiday shopping list for replacing each year. I found these over in the clearance section priced at a mere $1 each. I bought a package of rosemary, which adds a beautiful fragrance and a touch of green to the table, and clipped it with our free printable, “give thanks,” napkin tag and a mini clothespin.

You could also tie these napkins with a little jute twine and then clip the rosemary and, “gather together,” napkin tags to them, placing these on top of your owl plates. Print out all one variety of tag or use them both, alternating them at the place settings.

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

Even with my burlap runner, this entire table setting (minus my white dishes) costs just a little over $30 for everything. I love an affordable touch and really love these trendy pieces that BHG is offering this year for the Thanksgiving table. These would also be adorable for a kid’s table for the holidays!

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

We also have these beautiful woodland printables that you can print and hang in your kitchen or foyer to welcome your guests to match with the rest of our beautiful printable offerings this year! To help your guest feel warmly welcomed, my amazing designer & contributor, Sarah Milne with sarah m style, has created these amazing printables that you can share with your guests for Thanksgiving Day.

Grab Your FREE Woodland Creature Printables:

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Free Woodland Thanksgiving Printables & Decor Ideas

DOWNLOAD HERE

Catch up on my other projects with BHG at Walmart:

Make a Guest Room Welcome Basket (Free Guest Room Printables)

BHG Live Better Style Showcase

BHG Live Better Network

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Some people lean towards the spooky decorating for Halloween. This girl leans towards a more classic look from dressing up my front door for the season to the small nod to autumn through our home decor. I have loved our knitted leaf centerpiece so much that I thought it would be fun to add some knitted pumpkins to the mix this year. Since Walmart challenged me to take on a Halloween craft, I thought it would be the perfect time to try something new. Not only are these a knitted stuffed item (something new for me), but they are also felted.

Before you run away, I was SO scared of felting that I have thought about felting for years and never tried it. Seriously, folks, could NOT be easier.

This project is super fast to create and will get lots of love in your home as a fun addition to a bookcase, a cute centerpiece for a Halloween party, or could even make a place card holder for the Thanksgiving table.

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Supplies List

4- US Size 11 double pointed needles (I prefer bamboo for their gripping ability in this project)

4- US Size 6 double pointed needles

Natural Fiber Yarn (any color) that will shrink (Walmart offers this inexpensive option for wool)

Poly-fill Stuffing (something like this)

Free Miniature Felted Pumpkin Pattern FOR FREE HERE

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Skills Needed to Tackle This Project

You need to be able to knit in the round- This is much easier than knitting a hat and can teach you how to increase and decrease your stitches.  If you have never knitted in the round before, check out this picture tutorial that I created to help you navigate the tricky terrain of 4 needles.  You will need to be able to knit both the body and the stem in the round. I actually find the stem to be more difficult due to its size.

You need to be able to i-cord- The first time I i-corded, I was like…”That’s it?” Seriously, it sounds complex, but it is just moving your stitches back and forth on a double-pointed needle. This is a fantastic video tutorial if you are trying to get the hang of it.

You need to be able to felt- Again, this one was a new one for me, but the pattern I shared offers some great tips for felting. I will note below how I did this in my front-loader.

 

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Words from a First-Time Felter

As you can see, wool shrinks up beautifully. I wanted to still have a little bit of stitching showing, but you can continue to shrink your piece if you want it to be completely smooth. For these pumpkins, I knitted them loosely (advice given by my wise knitting pal, Deb) so that the stitches would shrink well. For my front-loader, I placed these in the washing machine with two pairs of my jeans to help create agitation and friction on the yarn. I used the Whitest White cycle (which is the hottest cycle on my machine) and let the machine decide the level of water.  For detergent, I just used a small amount of Woolite (or you can use Eucalan Woolwash). To replicate this, I just ran the cycle for ten minutes and then hit cancel.  I then ran a spin & drain cycle just for a few minutes to get rid of the excess water and then stuffed my pumpkins while they were still damp.

You can read more about felting in the pattern above.

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

 

Miniature Felted Pumpkin Tutorial

Aren’t they adorable? Feel free to friend me on Ravelry and visit the Knitting section of our site for more cute yarn-lovin’ projects!

 

Looking for more great Halloween ideas? Check out my Knitted Princess Leia Hat, fun ideas for DIY Halloween Costumes, paint up some Chalkboard Pumpkin People, make pumpkins out of duct tape, throw some pumpkin chili in your slow cooker on Halloween night, and whip up some glow-in-the-dark JELL-O for dessert!  Happiest of Halloweens, friends!

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