Posts Tagged ‘Frugal’

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

I am so excited to begin sharing some new gift ideas for all the people in your life. Of course, if there is one trend that is hot right now it is mustaches. We wanted to jump on the mustache-loving trend and share with you some free mustache templates that can be used to adorn any mug and a free mustache printable for your favorite teachers.

Mustaches can adorn anything from a fun glass beer mug for a great guy gift, to a cute little shaving set for your favorite dad, to a fun mug for your best friend.

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

To begin, there are many ideas for paint that you can use with your mug. You can buy a fine tipped painter’s marker at the craft store and outline and paint your mustache with this and/or you can buy a porcelain paint set (that requires not heat setting), or a porcelain paint that needs to be baked.

With the type of paints that don’t require heat, you are looking for one that has a conditioner, the black paint, and then the gloss. These do not need to be heat set, but do require ten days to set up.

I used a combination of the two. I applied the conditioner, used the paint marker and filled a bit with the black paint, and then applied the glaze to set the paint. I have had great success with the non-heat setting variety, but you can choose whichever type works best for your budget, is already in your craft supplies, or whichever is on sale.

You will also need a beautiful mug for your project. I found these large white mugs for a little over $2 at Walmart. Feel free to visit the dollar store or thrift shop for an inexpensive mug of your choice!

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Begin by applying the conditioner to your mugs and let them dry. This should only take about ten or fifteen minutes.

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Cut, secure with a little tape underneath, trace with your painter’s pen, and fill in your mustache of choice. We have three different options available so you can choose your favorite for your mug.

Let it dry overnight and then apply the glaze over your piece.

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Of course, what fun is a mustache mug without a great printable go along with it? This mustache printable is the perfect sign to adorn any teachers desk.

“Raise Your Hand If You Must Ask (Mustache) a Question,” is a great motto for class. I placed this fun printable in an inexpensive frame that I spray painted red. The mug is filled with a small denominator Starbucks gift card to round out this budget-friendly gift for your favorite teacher.

Get Printing:

Raise Your Hand if You Moustache a Question Free Printable

Printable Dimensions: 8 1/2 x 11″ (can be trimmed for an 8×10 frame)

Print on Heavy-Duty White Cardstock

 

Three Free Mustache Templates

Printable Dimensions: These mustaches are 3″ long

Print On Standard Computer Paper for Tracing

 

Mustache Mugs & Free Mustache Printables from MomAdvice.com

Happy mustache mug making!

What holiday craft projects have you been working on?  Feel free to share any links to what you are working on! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!

Pin It

Anthropologie DIY Ruffled Lamp

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

We have come to the final project in my daughter’s big girl room makeover. I am so proud of all of the little detai this room.  Many of the items in my daughter’s room had great bones, but seemed a little young for her.  The lamp in her room looked like it belonged in a nursery so I was excited to update this for her.  Instead of getting rid of a perfectly good lamp though, I wanted to figure out a way that I could do a stylish budget-friendly update to it. I happened upon this Ruffled Burlap Lamp tutorial on mama says sew and knew that this would be the perfect way to update her lamp and add a little big girl style to her nightstand.


As you can tell from the picture above, I was planning to just spray paint the original base and save myself a few dollars. Unfortunately, it rained that night and I had a spray paint fail with the paint never hardening and creating a big giant mess. I ended up buying a new lamp base for $12 at Walmart and then spray painted that to match her room. It goes to show that I can screw up even some of the simplest craft projects around here.

I bought one can of spray paint and two yards of burlap which worked out to be eight dollars in supplies (if you don’t count my big spray paint screw-up).

You will first want to cover the entire base of your lamp with a layer of burlap. Any of the metal around my lamp shade base, I just snipped a tiny slit to work the burlap around it. I used my hot glue to cover around it and secured the glue along the edge of the interior of the base.

If you have never worked with burlap before, this material is a MESS to work with. I had burlap pieces and strings everywhere. You definitely want to cut this on newspaper that you can toss out when you are done.

I got out this clothes-presser-thingie (can’t remember what this contraption is called) and pressed strips of burlap that were 1 1/2 times the length of my shade. These were 2″ strips that were then folded in half.

Just attach the pieces in a roughly manner all around the lamp. I went around it once and then filled in any empty spots with a ruffle in the middle where any holes were.

Keep going around and around until the shade is full. It is so pretty and I absolutely love how this turned out. I want to make one for our bedroom now since it is such a fun way to dress up a lamp.

 

This is definitely one of my favorite projects in my daughter’s big girl room and I would highly recommend making a lamp for a room in your house too. Thanks to mama says sew for the inspiration. Please visit her blog for the full details on measurements and a tutorial on how to make a ruffled lamp for a corner in your room.

What craft projects have you been working on?  Feel free to share any links to what you are working on! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!

Easy Coffee Filter Flowers

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Maybe you were one of those lucky kids chopping up coffee filter flowers in elementary school. I never had a tutorial on this in my art class though, but I have been dying to make coffee filter flowers and wanted to share with you just how easy and inexpensive it is to make these for a fun table centerpiece for the holidays or just a few posies on your nightstand in those cold winter months.  If you made the Coffee Filter Wreath from last week, you should have enough left to make a few of these pretty posies!

To begin our flowers, we will need to dye our coffee filters. The trick with getting these to look like real flowers is to divide the filters into three different bowls with three different shades of dye.

Pour a 1/2 cup of hot water into each dish, two tablespoons of vinegar, and ten drops of food coloring your first bowl. In the next bowl add the hot water and vinegar, but add only eight drops of food coloring. In the last bowl, we will be doing the same thing again, but only six drops of food coloring. Submerge fifteen coffee filters into each bowl and wait ten to fifteen minutes.

I used the Betty Crocker pink neon food coloring for this project (leftover from our marbled egg dying from this past year) so these only required about five minutes in the bowls.  Just keep half an eye on them until you reach the desired color that you are going for.

Once the coffee filters are done, you need to spread them out on an old towel and let them dry.  Ignore comments from your husband like, “Yum, yum! Coffee filters for dinner?” or, “Oh, wow! ANOTHER craft project?”

You are on the fast track to being another Martha Stewart even though the house looks like a bomb exploded and it WILL be coffee filters for dinner tonight. You can’t be good at everything.

If you want to speed up the process a bit, you can blow dry these coffee filters. Again, ignore your husband when he busts in on you hunched over with coffee filters blowing around the bathroom as you blow dry them. Just keep thinking,

“Martha would totally do this…or,ahem, she has PEOPLE who would totally do this. Totally.”

Grab some floral tape and floral wire from your craft supplies (or over in the floral section of the craft supply store. Cut the wire to the length that you desire and twist and wrap the floral wire with the floral tape until the wire is covered. You can also cover a wooden skewer with floral wire if you want a flower that stands straight up. I prefer the wire because you can bend it a bit and make the flowers a little more droopy so they look a little more natural.

Here is a handy chart for what we are going for with these. You need two of the darkest coffee filters cut like this for the center of the flower, two coffee filters in the medium dye for the middle of your flower, and just one coffee filter cut like this for the outer part of the flower.

To make the center, fold your coffee filter in half, in half again, in half again, and then in half again (four folds). Take your scissors and cut it as pictured above. Repeat with another filter in the same shade.

To make the middle of your flower, fold your coffee filter in half, in half again, in half again (three folds). Take your scissors and cut it as pictured above (but better than me since I am not the brightest with my cutting). Repeat with another filter in the same shade.

To make the outside of your flower, fold your coffee filter in half and then in half again (two folds). Take your scissors and cut a scalloped edge to your flower. You just need one of these.

Stack your flowers (still folded) and then trim the tiniest little end off of the bottom of them. This will create a small hole so that we can insert the wire into the center of it.

Slip the first filter over your wire twist it at the base, and then wrap a little floral tape around it to hold it all in place. Repeat with the next dark filter, than the each medium filter, and finish with the exterior of your flower. Finish the flower with a little more floral tape to secure everything in place.

Behold your posy! Isn’t she pretty? Make as many as you like for a fun addition to any room. I saved a stack of coffee filters and plan to make this pretty flowers to adorn my daughter’s birthday presents this year.

These posies have found a home on my daughter’s nightstand in her new big girl room. I found a short glass vase for $3.99 at Meijer Supermarket that was just the perfect size to hold three of these coffee filter flowers.  I think these would make such a fun birthday centerpiece addition though with hanging tissue paper pom poms in the same shades for a birthday party.

Right next to those flowers is this handmade lampshade that I made. I will show you how I did that last week. It is another fun, easy, and inexpensive craft that would be a cute addition to any room.

What craft projects have you been working on? Did you ever make coffee filter flowers when you were a kid?  Feel free to share any links to what you are working on! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!

Pin It

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

Monday, November 7th, 2011

DIY_Starbucks_Peppermint_Mocha

With the holidays just around the corner, the one treat I love to indulge in while doing my holiday shopping is a delicious Peppermint Mocha. I was ordering these year round until they came out with the Salted Caramel Mocha, which seemed to satisfy my out-of-season mocha cravings. Of course, wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to make these at home and save your money for your Christmas presents this year?

I hit the kitchen to try and whip up a batch of these at home. Once I had my basic mocha recipe down from my DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte & my DIY Salted Caramel Mocha, it was just a matter of figuring out how to create the peppermint flavor at home out of ingredients I had in my pantry.

You don’t have to create the peppermint syrup yourself, although it is really easy to do and made from pantry ingredients.  Simply call ahead to your favorite Starbucks joint and ask if they have a spare bottle of Peppermint Syrup that you can buy or if they can order it for you, if they happen to be running low. A bottle runs less than $10 or approximately the cost of two of those coffee drinks that you would buy. Split a bottle with a friend if you don’t picture yourself drinking one all winter long or save it for this summer to make my favorite DIY Peppermint Mocha Frappes that I make with frozen coffee in the summer months.

These are every bit as good as Starbucks, but costs a lot less than your coffee shop ones. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as you have enjoyed the other coffee creations from our kitchen!

DIY_Peppermint_Mocha_3

Recipe:

Homemade Peppermint Mocha

Ingredients:

1 cup milk, steamed
1 cup very strong coffee (4 tablespoons coffee grounds to 1 cup of hot water, I prepared this in my French Press, but you can brew a strong drip pot if you prefer)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of sugar
2-3 tablespoons peppermint syrup (you can use my recipe below or ask behind the counter at Starbucks for a prepared bottle that you can use all winter long)
Whipped cream (optional)
Chocolate Syrup (optional)
Crushed Peppermints (optional)

Directions:

Prepare your hot water in a kettle. Add four tablespoons of your favorite coffee grounds to your French Press. Pour 1 cup of hot water over them and allow the coffee to steep for four minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a pot, heat up one cup of milk until it is steaming. Froth the milk with a wire whisk or an immersion blender until it is nice and foamy.

In your coffee cup, mix together the prepared coffee, cocoa powder, sugar, and peppermint coffee syrup until the sugar and cocoa powder are dissolved and there are no lumps. Pour the milk foam over the top of the coffee/mocha mixture and stir to incorporate. Top with whipped cream, a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup, and crushed peppermints.

Note- This is just a base recipe that can be played with to your own tastes and preferences.  It is meant to be personalized depending on how you like your latte!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 1

******************************************

DIY_Starbucks_Peppermint_Mocha_2

Simple syrups are just as simple as their name to create. It is just a matter of dissolving sugar into water, reducing it a bit,  and then adding your flavoring of choice for your favorite beverages. Once you get this technique down, you can create a variety of coffee drinks and cocktails for the holiday season.

This Peppermint Syrup would make a fantastic gift to give to a friend or loved one. Place this syrup in a jar and tie with festive ribbon. In a basket add your syrup, a good quality coffee, cocoa powder,  a festive mug, and candy canes to stir, along with this recipe. So easy and a great way to start anyone’s day.

Recipe:

Homemade Peppermint Syrup

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons peppermint extract

Directions:

In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the peppermint extract. Cool to room temperature and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 5-7 (depending on how much you add to your coffee)

Pin It

How to Make a Monogrammed Coffee Filter Wreath

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

When my book proposal went out in the literary world, I decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into two bedrooms that were both in need of a serious overhaul, to prevent me from thinking about the big decisions being made. All of that nervous energy turned into fuel into creating my daughter and son’s room into what I had envisioned their new big kid spaces to be.

Over the next few weeks, I wanted to showcase some of the crafts that I created and how I decorated their bedrooms on a budget. The first tutorial I wanted to share was for this easy monogrammed coffee filter wreath for my daughter’s wall.  I am not the first to create a coffee filter wreath and I know I won’t be the last. I read a billion tutorials for making these and then decided to do it my own way with a few tips from each tutorial. When you create yours, I am sure you will do the same on your wreath to create a masterpiece for your home.

These are a beautiful accent to decorate any room in your house. These would also make fantastic holiday gifts for your friends, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, or teachers and cost about $8-10 in supplies.

Let’s get started. You need a wreath or wreath form of your your choice (I found this flat Styrofoam wreath at Hobby Lobby), a package of 200 coffee filters, hot glue gun, glue sticks (you will need about six for this project), a screwdriver, a lightweight monogram letter of your choice, and a can of spray paint of your choice.

Fold your coffee filter in half as shown here.

Fold your coffee filter in half again as shown here.

On the tip of this you will apply your hot glue and then fold the tip a bit to apply it to the wreath. Secure the glued end to the wreath, flattening it a bit and adjusting as needed.

The top of your filters will look like this. That screwdriver can go into the center to help push the filter into the wreath and save your hands from getting burned. You can risk it and just burn those hands up, but I found the tip of the screwdriver really works to help prevent burns as you add those filters in. I wish I could take pictures of myself doing this as I am doing it, but, unfortunately, I only have two hands and no one to work the camera for me.

Start filling the wreath in with the filters all over. Anywhere that you see that wreath form sticking out should be covered with your filters. You can bend and twist them into the spots, securing these with hot glue. Catch up on all of your favorite shows since you need to do this approximately 150 times.

Please don’t judge me on my favorite show. A girl needs an escape when doing her billions of loads of laundry and other mundane tasks around the house. It makes me feel hip and chic, unlike the 33 year-old woman sitting on her carpet making a coffee filter wreath.

Keep on going around and around and around. Don’t worry if it isn’t even, just do the best you can.  You can trim it all up in the end and no one will ever know.

Once it is all filled in on top, we need to cover the sides of the wreath so we don’t see any of the wreath form peeking out. Fold the coffee filters as I showed you above and this time we will lay them flat against the side to cover the wreath.

Just keep overlapping this final layer to cover up the wreath form as I have pictured here.  This wreath will be very full and the little spots that aren’t covered won’t be seen, so don’t worry!

Once you flip it over, you will see that the back layer is a tad longer than the other layers. Trim those up with a pair of sharp scissors and cut them down so they fit in with the other layers on your wreath.

Once the wreath is all trimmed up, you can mount a monogrammed letter of your choice. I spray painted mine green to match my daughter’s room. I found this little letter at Michael’s back by the wooden craft supplies. This letter was just, $1.99. The key to this is to find one that is lightweight so it stays on easily. Hot glue the back of the letter and secure it in place on your wreath. You can then hang your wreath with ribbon or just hang it on a nail, as I did here, to keep things sweet and simple.

This wall in her room is making me very, very happy right now. It is the first thing I see when I walk up the steps and was so inexpensive to do.  I framed three of my favorite pictures of her, all printed in black-and-white.

The, “Will We have Rainbows Day After Day?,” printable was found for free printing on Making It Lovely.  I found a frame for this at Michael’s for half off and printed it on my printer at home.  It is so sweet and fits perfectly with her personality and color scheme.

I could not be happier with how this wreath turned out and definitely recommend making one or two for yourself or someone you love.

Don’t toss the rest of your coffee filters out after making this wreath. Next week I will show you how I made this bouquet of coffee filter flowers to adorn a nightstand. No one will believe these are made from this household item and it can be a fun craft to decorate any table in your home.

What craft projects have you been working on? Feel free to share any links to what you are working on! Access all of our craft fun on MomAdvice by visiting our Craft Section. Happy crafting, friends!

Pin It

Happy Halloween from the Clark Family

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Happy Halloween to your family from ours!  I wanted to share with you a few of the pictures I took of the kids in their Halloween costumes. This year the requests were to be a Ninja and to be Rapunzel.

Last year’s fairy costume that we picked up from Cracker Barrel magically transformed into the perfect Rapunzel dress. After buying a terrible, terrible wig to go with it from the local costume shop, I found myself at the Disney store to pick up the authentic Rapunzel hair that she could play dress-up with all year long. She was so excited when she saw it and was willing to compromise on not having the official Rapunzel dress as long as she could wear a pink sleeved shirt underneath to make it look like the real Rapunzel.

The Ninja outfit I picked up at Walmart for  $12. Of course the only way I could get my son to agree to do pictures with his sister were in full Ninja attack mode.  After we were done with the photos, I couldn’t stop laughing and looking at them. I think my daughter has her mama’s flair for the dramatics. I wonder if I will be watching her on the stage like my parents watched me.

Not to be outdone by our children, my husband and I schemed and dreamed of costumes for months this year.  I don’t mean to gush, but it is moments like this when I look at my husband and think, “How did I get this lucky?” I have been with this man since he was fifteen. Our parents used to drop us off for our dates because neither of us could drive. We were high school sweethearts that really worked out, and I think I know everything a girl could know about him.  Then something like this comes up, and he surprises me.

In case you couldn’t tell from the pictures, we went as Marry Poppins and Bert from my favorite childhood movie.  We both wanted to make sure we got the look right.  The clothes we both already owned. The bow tie I am wearing was his  from our third prom together (I still had it in a box of mementos from our high school days). I tied grosgrain ribbon around my waist and grabbed the umbrella from my husband’s car. We found Ryan’s hat and gloves at Walmart and my hat from a local costume shop.  The broom was an inexpensive broom from Target that he took the stitching apart and spray painted with a $.98 can of spray paint from Walmart.  I got a sprig of daisies to weave into the hat and just took my giant purse that I use daily as my, “carpet bag.” We probably spent about $20 or so on the whole look, but had the best time making these outfits happen.

I did splurge and buy myself a tube of fancy red lipstick. I have always wanted to wear red lipstick, but never felt confident enough to do it.  I am hoping to wear this on a date night or two.  The color is Red Zin from Bare Escentuals and I am really liking it for a little something different.  Maybe this old girl can surprise her husband once in awhile too!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Have a safe and fun night with your family and friends this evening!

Behind the Scenes with Aldi Supermarket

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This past week I got the unique opportunity to step behind the scenes and find out more about Aldi Supermarket and the products that they offer their customer. As a longtime fan of the grocery retailer, I could not wait to see how this company operated and, frankly, how in the world they can offer food for such a low price.

During the trip I got to do a wine and cheese tasting, got a grocery store tour to learn more about how their stores were set up, and then I got to participate in a blind taste-testing of the products to see how they compared with other national brands.  There was truly not a single element of this trip that I was not fascinated with.

The first question on everyone’s mind was how do they get their prices so low?

This is an answer that we were told would take years to explain, but the main points all pointed to simple cost-cutting measures, employee training that goes beyond other grocery stores,  a limited selection of items, smart store design, and in-house private labels. The savings are in the big things like having baking items on pallets and dairy items on rolling carts so the employees don’t need to stock shelves and then are reflected in the smaller things like the quarter deposit for your cart and bagging those groceries yourself.

All of these little and big things translate into great prices for their customers.

If you have ever stood in a line at Aldi, one thing you will see is that these cashiers work at lightning speed and can wait on customers quicker than any other store I have ever been to. You may not know it, but Aldi offers smart packaging that can speed up your wait time at their store. In this picture is a single bag of chips, simply held at all different angles. Practically every corner of their bags and boxes have a UPC code that can make scanning your items that much faster.  Go ahead and take a peek in your pantry at your Aldi items and you will see it too. It is one of those things that you may have never noticed, but translates into saving time for you.

The typical Aldi store only has between 6-8 employees and it is common for their employees to celebrate 15, 20, or 25 years of service. They pay their employees significantly higher than the national average and with 20 hours a week, they give their employees full health insurance benefits. Employees go through extensive training and they do everything from putting out the new pallets of food to ringing up the customers to tidying the store. It is this efficiency and the smaller pay rolls that translate into big savings for their customers.

Perhaps, the most surprising thing for me was discovering the amazing wine selection that Aldi offers. I admitted that I walked by the wine section of the store because the low prices on the bottles made me question the quality of the wine. I will never look at their wine section the same again after their wine tasting.  Don’t believe me? Aldi has received many awards and accolades for their wines.

Here are just a few of the accolades that Aldi has received. Did I mention these bottles are all under $6?

Wine Spectator

Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc
Best Values Award
Received 85 points

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
Received 85 points

Beverage Testing Institute

Landshut (Germany) Riesling Mosel 2010
2010 World Value Wine Challenge- Top 10 White Wine $8 and Under Exceptional Value
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010
World Value Wine Challenge- Top Dessert Wine $8 and Under Best Value German Dessert Wine
World Wine Championships Award Silver Medal (2009)

Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti
World Wine Championships Award Bronze Medal

Of those wines that I sampled, I fell in love with the Sunshine Bay 2009 Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc, the 2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti, the Toca Diamonte (Argentina) Malbec Mendoza 2009, and the Landshut (Germany) Sweet Red Rheinhessen 2010.  Most of the bottles were $4.99, which make them quite affordable both for entertaining and for giving around the holiday season.

We paired these wines with some of Aldi’s cheese offerings which included a delicious goat cheese, a Havarti cheese, and Brie cheese. All of the cheeses were equally delicious and I am looking forward to offering these with these wines around the holidays.

I am a longtime customer and super fan of the products that Aldi offers, but the blind taste test that I participated in surprised even a super fan like me.  Aldi is challenging shoppers to switch from national brands to their private label Aldi brand for the holidays, to save their families up to fifty percent on their shopping.

We sampled many items from their holiday line and compared them to the national brands. Even though I love Aldi, I can be a bit of a food snob when it comes to certain foods like high quality cheeses and meats.

When we taste tested Tyson chicken versus Aldi chicken, I truly loved the Aldi brand better. I knew the meat that I had tasted must have been the Tyson meat, but I was dead wrong. It goes to show that sometimes we are just conditioned to believe one brand is better than the other.

Another surprise was the difference between Mrs. Smith’s apple pie versus the Aldi Belmont Deep Dish Apple Pie.  The Aldi pie is pictured on the right and you can tell just by looking at the bottom of the crust that the pie cooked and browned more evenly.  The difference in the taste was significant and the price was 28% lower.

Even being the Aldi fan girl that I am,  I came away feeling validated that the choice that I had made to shop at the store, out of necessity due to the financial strain we had been under, for our family was a good one.  The cost-cutting measures of the store do not cost-cut on the bottom line of the quality of the items in the store. In fact, the company does their best to offer a better product that the name brand.  After doing this blind taste-testing, I believe they have exceeded the standard.

If you haven’t checked out the store before, you really are missing out on so much.  I can feed my family of four for $220 for three weeks by shopping there. I do not clip coupons. I do 95% of my shopping at this store. I am rarely disappointed in the quality. If I ever was disappointed though, they offer a double guarantee and I could bring the item back for a refund and get it replaced. I don’t know very many places that offer that to their customers.

If you want to learn more about shopping at the store, I have several resources that you can check out on the site:

Aldi Supermarket

Aldi Menu Planner

Aldi Fall/Winter Menu Planner

The Aldi Queen Blog

If I was a fan girl of Aldi before, this trip took it to another level for me. I can confidently say that this store is THE place for families on a budget.  I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Let’s talk! Have you shopped at Aldi Supermarket before? Did anything surprise you about the behind the scenes look? What is your favorite item to buy at the store? Please share!

Pin It

How to Paint a Kitchen Table: Our Kitchen Table Makeover

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

I never dreamed that I would ever paint my kitchen table when we bought it. For ten years though we abused it daily, it survived a brutal move with a terrible moving company, and the polyurethane coating never did look right after it was damaged in route to our house on the day we bought it. The table was loved to pieces, literally, and that is why we had to paint it.

Passing through our kitchen, you might not have noticed the table’s beat-up appearance. From far away or cleverly covered with a tablecloth when it got really embarrassing, the table just didn’t look that bad.

Upon closer inspection though, your eyes are assaulted with the damage that has happened to it. The polyurethane coating was flaking away, the ends were terribly damaged on the table, and a huge gash went right through the center of it that I never thought the table would ever recover from.

We decided that we would stain the table and restore the tabletop with a nice deep and rich color. We bought lots of supplies to stain the table and I couldn’t wait to get started.

For two days I sanded the table to within an inch of its poor little life. The polyurethane coating remained. I bought polyurethane stripper and left it on the table for twenty-four hours. The polyurethane remained. I sanded the table more. The polyurethane remained.

I cried.

I rocked in the fetal position.

I kicked myself for starting a project that I didn’t feel as confident in.

I gave up.

We ate at a sad folding table and chairs for an entire week, only to discover this staining would not happen at my novice level of furniture staining.

At this point, I had nothing to lose.

We decided to paint the kitchen table.

The chairs were in good condition other than a quick reupholster to the tired fabric that had been on them. The table legs also happened to be in decent condition so we made the decision to leave the table legs and chairs in their natural wood color (partly out of laziness and partly because we needed our kitchen table back) which definitely cut down on the work.

I am no expert on painting furniture so I consulted with my best friend who has been painting her furniture recently and the ever amazing and wildly talented Kate, from Centsational Girl, who has this amazing tutorial on how to paint furniture. Between the two of them, I felt a tad more confident than I did before.

Once the table was sanded and wood filled in the spots that were really rough on the table, we applied two coats of the Zinsser Cover Stain Primer over the table. Between each coat, once the tabletop was fully dry, I gave it another good sanding and wiped it clean with a cloth. I had to admit, even with just the primer, the table was already looking better.

Once the primer was dry, I applied two coats of paint to the tabletop. We wanted our tabletop to match our kitchen cabinets so we chose Valspar Blanched Pine (7005-15) for the shade of white we were looking for. Two coats of paint were applied to it. The first coat was applied with a brush and then the second coat, I used a roller and then used a brush to smooth out any roller marks.

I did take Kate’s recommendation and added Floetrol to the paint (as directed on the packaging) which really did seem to help cut down on the mistakes that I usually make when painting. This paint conditioner will definitely be used again when I tackle another painting project.

After the paint was dry, we then applied two heavy coats of polyurethane to the tabletop with an angled brush. We allowed the polyurethane to set on the tabletop for four days with no use. I think this was one of the hardest parts about the process, but we wanted to make sure that the tabletop would really be able to withstand our daily abuse once we brought it inside.

The table legs were reattached, the new-to-me chairs were slid under it. We were in business.

Here is our newly painted kitchen tabletop.  It is not perfect, but we truly did the best we could to improve upon something we already owned.

I am so happy to have a tabletop that I don’t have to cover with a tablecloth. I am just hoping that this will be able to stand up to our daily use, but I will be happy if we can get a couple more years out of this set.

I will tell you a secret.

Every time I see a crumb on it, I start freaking out that paint is chipping.

A major freak out ocurred after the kids dined on pumpkin bread for snack one day.

I am wondering when I will get over that.

Perhaps, never.

For now, my husband is just thankful I am done with this project, I am thankful to have reclaimed the garage, and we are all thankful that we didn’t have to purchase a new set of furniture for this room.

How to Reupholster A Chair

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

We have been hard at work on completely redoing our old dining set. My kitchen chairs were in solid condition and didn’t require any painting, but I was tired of the faux leather fabric that I had purchased for the chairs when my kids were little. Today I wanted to share with you just how easy it is to reupholster those chairs and add a little pizzazz to a tired dining set for very little money.

Supplies Needed For This Project

New Fabric (I am using outdoor fabric to help prevent staining from spills. You could also choose a faux leather fabric or any type of fabric and then treat it with Scotch Guard to prevent staining). This fabric should be measured to the width of your chair and then add 4 inches  to each measurement so you have enough fabric to reach around the cushion.  My chair seat was 20×20 so I needed 24×24 for each seat. For all six seats it required 2 yards of fabric total.

Upholstery Staple Gun (available at fabric stores)

Upholstery Staples (heavy-duty)

Needle-nose pliers

Screwdriver

Pinking Shears (or regular sewing scissors)


Invert your chair and use your screwdriver to remove the four screws on the bottom that are securing your cushion to the chair.

If the cushion has fabric stapled on it already, use your needle-nose pliers to remove the old staples and fabric from the cushion. If you only have one layer of fabric, it should be okay, but this chair had two so I had to remove my last round of reupholstering to get back to the base of the chair.

Now it is time to cut your new fabric to replace the old fabric that was on your chair.  This fabric should be measured to the width of your chair and then add 4 inches  to each measurement so you have enough fabric to reach around the cushion.  My chair seat was 20×20 so I needed 24×24 for each seat. For all six seats it required 2 yards of fabric total.

I prefer to cut my fabric with a pair of pinking shears instead of regular scissors because the fabric does not fray with these and I don’t have to mess with trimming and pulling strings on fabric. If you don’t have a pair of these though, you can always use regular shears.

When buying your fabric, be sure to ask if they offer any specials or discounts to customers. I got this fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics and signed up for their email list while I was at the register. They gave me a coupon that took $16 off of my total fabric purchase so I was able to get fabric for six chairs for $25!

Once you have your fabric cut, it is time to staple. Center your cushion upside down and make sure there is approximately the same amount of fabric on all four sides and then pull the fabric tightly over your cushion and staple it. You are going to want to put your whole body into this one, friends.  Staple all the fabric down along the cushion securely.

Corners can be a tricky terrain, but they don’t have to be. I like to bring the top part down and then fold in the other side of the fabric on top. You can do your corners on your cushion however you like. I think the trick with this one is just to play with it, flip it over and take a peek, and then play with the fabric again until you find a corner you like. Once you figure out how you like your corners, replicate it with the three other corners and then again on your next chair. Trim the excess corner fabric.

Center your cushion back on your chair and make sure all of the fabric is tucked nicely underneath and on top. Secure your cushion back on with the four screws again.

Now just repeat the same process over and over and over again until all of your chairs are done. I was able to get six chairs reupholstered in one afternoon. It isn’t hard to do and is a great job to tackle while watching your favorite shows.

I am madly in love with this fabric that I chose and can’t believe how much more I love these chairs. They look like brand new and I only spent $25 to shine them up.

Of course, what are new chairs without a new-to-me table? Looking forward to revealing what I have been up to this past week and sharing with you our new kitchen tabletop!

This tabletop has needed attention for eight years now and I am finally doing it.

Procrastination is the name of the game.

I hope I am not the only one with an eight year project that has been bugging her.

What is one home improvement project you have been vowing to do, but just haven’t made time to tackle yet?

Back-to-School Round-Up of Tips, Resources, & Project Ideas

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I can hardly believe that our summer is coming to a close for our family.  I have to say, so far…it really has been the best summer ever. It’s not because we have done tons of vacations or been running nonstop, but it has just been being together and finally have kids at the age where outings have become as much of a treat for me as it is for them.  We have loved every moment of our summer and I am going to really miss the lazy days that we have been enjoying these last few months.

As another school year is fast approaching in our house it has been a flurry of activity- uniform shopping, clothes shopping, shoe shopping, backpack shopping, school supplies shopping,  ice cream treating, lots of individual dates with each kid, and plenty of talking about the exciting year to come.

I just wanted to point out a few of my favorite resources for moms that might help you as you ease back into your busy school year! These are my favorite resources for organizing and feeding my family during this busy time!

Back-to-School Breakfast Ideas:

Lighter Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes (make and pop them in the freezer for the school week)

Fluffy & Light Pumpkin Pancakes (make and pop them in the freezer for the school week)

6 Amazing Waffle Recipes & Tips for Getting Your Waffle On

Protein-Packed Strawberry & Banana Smoothies

Banana Cream Pie Smoothies

Slow Cooked Oatmeal

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls (a great way to celebrate your week at school on Saturday morning)

Honey Nut Granola

Vanilla Scented Granola

Deliciously Homemade Granola Bars

Getting Organized for Back-to-School:

One Month of Slow Cooking (perfect for those days filled with after-school activities)

The Essentials for Saving on Back-to-School

Weekly Planner Sheet

Weekly Menu Planner Sheet

Transforming the Paper Clutter

Choosing a Great Family Organizer for Your Family

Simplifying Your To-Do List

Ideas for Celebrating That First Day of School:

Back-to-School Close to My Heart Pin

Back to School Celebration Feasts with Recipes

Back-to-School Celebrations

World’s Greatest Homemade Slushies

Throw a Frugal Pizza Party

For Capturing Those Back-To-School Photos:

Capturing Your Children Through Photography

Making Lunch Special:

How to Save on School Lunches

Ideas for Making Lunch Fun & Healthy

Free Printable Lunch Box Notes

Writing Love Notes to Your Child

Fun with After-School Snacks:

Deliciously Easy Raisin Bran Muffins

Apple Pie Muffins

Deliciously Homemade Granola Bars

Lemony Blueberry Muffins

Simple Oatmeal & Chocolate Chip Muffins

Easy Cereal Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Showing Your Teachers Some Love

Creamy Hot Cocoa or Vanilla Chai Drink Mixes

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Oreo Biscotti

Effortless & Elegant Quick Breads You Can Make

Homemade Peppermint Bath Salts or Oatmeal Cookies & Milk Bath Soak

Rolled Rosette Ribbon Rings

Good luck to each of you that are on this journey again with your kids! I hope you all get off to a successful school year start.  I am sending each of you a coffee cup this size (see above) to get through all of it!

I hope these links to these past entries will inspire you as you prepare for this next school year!