Posts Tagged ‘Walmart Moms’

How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Note: From November 2012, this is one of the articles I’m most proud of on Mom Advice, and I’m SO happy that it’s also one of the most pinned, making me proud of YOU. I’m republishing it for our November Focus on Giving M Challenge with the hopes it will see a whole new group of people who will be inspired to give!

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!


How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?


I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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How to Spray Paint Furniture

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Some of my absolute favorite transformations in our home have come from simple paint – it’s amazing the difference it can make! Since we are focusing on Transforming Your Home for our M Challenge, why not find a piece of furniture to paint – I’ve got all the tips here to share with you again so you can transform something humble into something fantastic!

How to Spray Paint Furniture Painting furniture can be time consuming that is why I have fallen in love with spray painting my furniture to get a fresh new look with a small time investment. Today I am going to show you how to spray paint your furniture to give an old piece in your home a new lease on life with just spray paint and an easy antiquing and distressing technique.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Choosing a spray paint can be a lot of fun and Walmart asked me to share about a new product line that they are now carrying at their stores that I think you guys will really like. It is the Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X paint.

The thing that makes this paint special is that it can cover twice the square footage of other general purpose spray paints.  This new paint contains 44% more solids which creates a higher performance than other paints and gives you better coverage with fewer passes. What makes the paint economical is that one can performs like two cans, so it saves you time and money.  The price also fits nicely into a DIY’ers budget at a mere $3.77 per can

I love this corner in our office, but have not loved this side table for many years. These chairs are so fun, but the table added no personality to this corner. I had planned to donate it to Goodwill, but I wondered if I could give this piece a spray paint face lift that would reflect this fun space. I decided to give the table a makeover with a little spray paint and antiquing.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Supplies Needed to Spray Paint Furniture


Spray Paint Primer (gray if doing a dark color or white if doing a light color)

1-2 Cans Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X, any shade (I am using Moss Green), available in the Spray Paint aisle of your local Walmart Store

Rust-Oleum Standard Spray Grip (in the same aisle)

Rust-Oleum Decorative Glaze in Java Brown


Sand Paper


Hardware (optional) or spray paint to paint it

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Your Furniture

  • To begin, prepare your surface by wiping the entire piece down with a clean cloth. Disassemble any drawers and hardware to prepare it for painting.
  • Next, give the entire piece a good sanding to smooth out any imperfections. Sand any edges with a piece of sandpaper and use a sander to smooth the top of your piece.
  • Once the piece is fully sanded, wipe it down with a damp cloth to prepare it for priming.
  • To help prevent drips and to make sure we get into every crevice of this piece with paint, we are going to start with our piece INVERTED. I promise, it is going to help the painting process go so much smoother than if you start with it upright.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  • Starting with your piece inverted, begin spray painting it with your primer. Be sure to give your primer a good shake and begin priming your surface well.
  • Hold your can 8 inches away from your surface and spray your primer in a sweeping motion side to side with a slight overlap. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.
  • Put the piece right side up and finish priming the top. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.
  • Repeat the same process with your choice of Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X in your favorite shade. Once the piece is fully painted, allow it to dry overnight before glazing.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  • Using a coarse sandpaper, begin roughing up the edges on your piece to create a more antique look.
  • Using a clean rag, dip your rag in your glaze and then begin applying in a circular motion to your piece.
  • With a clean and damp cloth, remove as much of the glaze as you would like. I again, removed this in a circular motion from the piece until it added a hint of variation to the piece, but didn’t look sponged.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  •  If you desire, you can spray paint your hardware. As you know hardware can be expensive to replace and sometimes older pieces have more custom fitting hardware so spray paint can be a great way to freshen it up. We chose to replace the wooden handle with a black hardware piece and then spray painted the old gold accessories black with a can I had in my craft supplies. We have spray painted many a handle in our home and you would never know it wasn’t that color originally.

How to Spray Paint FurnitureHow to Spray Paint FurnitureHow to Spray Paint FurnitureHere is my finished piece. I am so darn proud of it and love how vintage this piece looks thanks to the glazing and sanding process that I did on it. In full disclosure, there were some missteps along the way.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Temperature Changes Effect Spray Paint

If you live in Indiana, you know that the drops and changes in temperature can be quite dramatic and that is just what happened when I painted this. I put a final coat on my perfect table before I went to bed and woke up to a table and drawers that had bubbled in the night. Try to pick a time of day when the temperature is warmer and will hold steady (nothing below fifty degrees) to prevent bubbling of paint. I used the advice provided by Kate, at Centsational Girl, on what to do if your spray paint bubbles and it worked like a charm.

Shake Your Spray Paint Can Well

Having that handy trigger on the spray paint makes it easy to paint quickly, but I forgot to shake the can every so often to keep my paint looking even and glossy. You definitely will want to make sure you shake it very well at the beginning, and shake it every so often when painting with it.

Who Knew You Needed to Be So Tidy?

Make sure after sanding that you really have a nice clear surface to begin your painting, otherwise you will have a crummy surface…literally. The same can be said for choosing a nice clean rag when doing glazing and keeping the piece as clean as you can, which is super difficult if you are in your filthy garage like me!

Distressing Can Hide Flaws

Distressing the piece more not only helped me minimize the bubbles, but it also added character to the piece. For my first spray painted furniture piece, I would definitely recommend it the first time to help you get the hang of how to paint with spray paint.

Practice Makes Perfect

This piece isn’t my best work, but I love it in spite of its flaws. As with all skills, it takes a little practice to get the hang of spray painting furniture. Even though I struggled a bit with my first project, I can’t wait to paint my record cabinet in our office next in the same shade and now I know what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to spray painting my furniture.

How to Spray Paint Furniture How to Spray Paint Furniture

What a difference a day makes? Isn’t she lovely? She has certainly brightened up this corner of our home! I highly recommend giving this new paint a try! Fast coverage and an inexpensive way to add a pop of color in your home!




Have you ever spray painted furniture before? What is your advice?



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Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Have you tried making oatmeal in your slow cooker overnight? We have made it many times since discovering this foolproof technique, and adding apples is such a good addition! I thought this would be a perfect recipe to publish again (originally from October 2013) for you to go along with our M Challenge Focus on Better Mornings – what could be better than waking up to breakfast all ready to go?

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from

Apple season is one of my favorite produce seasons and one of my favorite snacks. Today I am sharing a recipe for slow cooked honeycrisp apple oatmeal that you are going to love for a warm and satisfying breakfast on chilly fall mornings.  The best part about all of this though, is my incredible tip for getting creamy oats that won’t burn or stick to your slow cooker.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from

While shopping for apples at Walmart, I noticed these tags on each bin of apples that share exactly what each variety of apple is perfect for- whether it be salads, baking, or just eaten fresh. I found it really helpful when choosing which apples to use in my recipes and it can be a great way to experiment with a new variety of apple you haven’t tried before.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from

Often when it comes to baking, I reach for a Granny Smith apple. When researching different varieties of apples that are best to bake with, I discovered that the Honeycrisp Apple and the McIntosh apple were both great varieties to choose when baking. I decided to put the Honeycrisp Apple to work in an overnight oatmeal recipe.

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from admit that I have never had good success with overnight oats. The oats were usually burnt or overcooked and I always had a hard time getting my slow cooker clean after a batch.

That is why I am so excited to share with you this easy technique to create a double boiler right in your slow cooker:

  • Find a oven-proof dish that you can place inside of your slow cooker and spray it well with a little cooking spray.
  • Place your oatmeal ingredients right inside of the the dish and then, using a liquid measuring cup, pour water around the dish to create a water bath. It doesn’t need to be really full, just an inch or so.
  • Set your slow cooker to LOW and you will have perfectly creamy oatmeal with no burnt spots every single time.

I can’t wait for you to try this recipe in your kitchen!

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal from

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This recipe can be personalized according to your family's dietary needs or what variety of apple is on sale at the grocery store. I loved preparing this one with almond milk! Try my technique for creating your own double-boiler to get a creamier oatmeal!
  • 1 cup steel cut oats (NO substitutions)
  • 3½ cups milk (or milk substitute)
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the steel cut oats, milk, honeycrisp apple, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla extract into a slow cooker, and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.
  2. Cover the cooker, set to Low, and allow to cook 6 to 7 hours (for firm oats) or 8 hours (for softer texture).

Looking for more apple recipes? Try my Baked Apple Pie Doughnuts, my oh-so-famous Cheddar Apple Pie Dip,  add some googly eyes to them for a fun Halloween treat, or try these Simply Delicious Apple Pork Chops for an easy weeknight meal!


4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray *This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

One of my favorite celebrations is 4th of July and today I wanted to share with you a fast & easy 4th of July fruit dessert platter you or your kids can make into a flag to celebrate the holiday.  Walmart partnered up with me to share a festive 4th dish and I have to say that this delivers on the red, white, & blue.

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray 4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Since I am gluten-free, I often have to bypass the dessert trays. As an adult, it is not a big a deal. As a child, the dessert table is EVERYTHING, especially when it comes to holiday feasting. I wanted to create this cute tray just for them and I found these glutino gluten-free yogurt covered pretzels are not only a fantastic way to add the white we needed for our stripes, but they also are highly addictive and delicious. You can certainly make your own white chocolate covered pretzels, if you are feeling ambitious, but these cut down on the time invested in creating our cute tray!

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

Flag cupcake picks can be a great way to festively pick up a berry (or ten).  I found these at a local party supplies store and they are an adorable touch to a festive spread.

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray

I think the best part about this tray is that it is not only relatively healthy, but it is also a tray that you can confidently create and know it will get eaten. After a big cookout, light desserts are a wonderful addition to the table for snacking on. Have too many desserts on your table? Save this to serve up during the fireworks. It will be gone before it even gets dark enough to see them!

Check out the instructions below on how many supplies you need to put this tray together!

4th of July Flag Fruit Dessert Tray
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
A fast & festive gluten-free fruit dessert tray your guests will flip for.
  • 2 pints strawberries trimmed, rinsed, and dried
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 2 packages of glutino yogurt-covered pretzels (or white chocolate regular pretzels, if not going gluten-free on this tray)
  1. On a 9x13 cookie sheet, place a small clear plastic (or glass) square container of berries to create your blue flag corner.
  2. Now alternate the red berries and white pretzels in stripes until you have filled your tray.


While you are here, these are a few more of my favorite 4th of July ideas on MomAdvice! xo

Cupcake Pick 4th of July Wreath

Make a 4th of July wreath out of cupcake picks (world’s easiest festive touch!)

Celebrating 4th of July Heroes With Your Kids

Teach your kids about the REAL 4th of July Heroes (the reason we all celebrate!)

Diy Family-Friendly Bar Cart

Turn a tool cart into a bar cart for the 4th (adorable girl not included!)

DIY slow Cooker Citronella Candles

Keep the bugs away with DIY Citronella Candles (made in your slow cooker!)

Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle

Make a Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle (another light & easy dessert!)

3-ingredient Watermelon Granita

Wow your guests with this Watermelon Granita (just 3-ingredients!)

Watermelon Coconut Lime Smoothies #recipe via

Or blend up leftover watermelon into this Watermelon Lime & Coconut Ice (I love leftovers!)

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Make a festive Blueberry Sangria Lemonade for toasting the holiday (cheers and cheers again!)

Berry Quinoa Parfaits

Leftover berries? Turn them into a protein-packed Berry Quinoa Parfait.

Greek Quinoa Salad

Everyone loves a good salad! Greek Quinoa Salad is yummy and gluten-free (winning!)

Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad

Why have one salad when you can have two? Lemony Spinach & Tomato Quinoa Salad is delicious (even at room temperature!)

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via

I am all about the caprese so this Pasta Caprese Salad really fits the 4th of July bill! (can be made gluten-free with a pasta substitute)

5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chops

Did someone say caprese? These 5-ingredient Caprese Chops would be delicious on the grill.

The World's Best Steak Marinade

Feeling Fancy? Try the World’s Best Steak Marinade (it makes cheap cuts taste gourmet!)

Restaurant-Style Steak Recipe

Rained out? Restaurant-Worthy Steak on the stove. In your face, rain!


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Ditch the Juice Box: Fruit-Infused Water Recipes

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

This was originally published in July of 2013 and goes so well with our focus challenge on health that I thought you’d enjoy it again – fruit-infused water is refreshing any time of the year!

Fruit-Infused Water Recipes

Back-to-school means back to the grind of packing lunches. Today I wanted to share a healthy alternative to juice boxes and recipes for creating a fun fruit-infused water for lunches any time of the year. Fruit infused waters are frugal, fun, and a healthy alternative to the traditional juice box.

Packing a healthy lunch is always a top priority in our house. You may recall my fun lunch box station that I created in our house just for this reason? I am happy to say that this lunchbox system is still performing so well in our house and I am looking forward to packing lunches with it again.

Fruit-Infused Water Recipes

What is Fruit-Infused Water?

Have you ever infused water before? It truly could not be easier and you can mix up any flavors that you love and personalize these to your own personal taste. Pictured above are some mix-in ideas we tried in our house. We purchased mint, basil, berries, limes, oranges, and lemons to create different flavor combinations for fun fruit waters. We like to keep things simple with just plain water, but you can also make it a little sweet with a little liquid stevia.

Seltzer can also be a fun switch-up, but carbonated drinks are always a gamble in our lunchbox, since they tend to get a lot of shaking and movement on the way to school!

I am displaying these in mason jars to show the colors, but when placed in your child’s lunchbox, I would recommend a leak-proof stainless steel water bottle or thermos to keep these nice & cold. Here are a couple of fun options that Walmart stocks! (Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Flip-Top Water Bottle, &  Silver One Red Stainless Steel)

How Long Does Fruit-Infused Water Last?

Fruit-infused water is best enjoyed after two-four hours or after it has had a chance to infuse overnight. The length of time it lasts depends entirely on the type of fruit and herbs you use. Basil, for example, only lasts for three days while heartier varieties like rosemary or thyme can last up to seven days.

You can reuse the same fruit and add another batch of fresh water over it once you have gone through your first batch.  The fruit can be used (typically) up to three times, but it will also depend on the freshness of the fruits you are using. If the fruit starts to look bad, it’s best to toss it and start with a fresh batch.

Citrus fruits are best cut fresh for your batches because the rind can add bitterness to your fruit-infusions. I like to keep my lemons, limes, and oranges fresh for that reason while reusing my berries for several batches.

It is really a matter of preference though and once you get the hang of making your own batches of fruit-infused water you will have a better idea of timelines.

Fruit-Infused Water Recipes

Fruit Infused Water Combinations

The beauty of making your own infused waters is that you can create any combination that your heart desires and add as little or as much fruits and herbs into your drink as you like!  Get inspired by the fruits and herbs that are on sale that week in the supermarket flier to help inspire new combinations and keep your fruit-infused waters frugal!

If the recipe calls for muddling, it just means bruising your fruit or herbs to release the flavors. I just use a wooden spoon for this.

Here are a few of our favorite combinations we tried:

Blueberry & Mint

2 cups blueberries

2 sprigs of mint, muddled

2 quarts of water

Strawberry & Basil

10 strawberries, thinly sliced

3 basil leaves, torn into quarters and muddled

2 quarts of water

Citrus Blend

1 orange, thinly sliced

1 lime, thinly sliced

1/2 a lemon, thinly sliced

2 quarts water

Just The Berries

10 strawberries, thinly sliced

2 cups blueberries, slightly muddled

2 quarts water

Fruit-Infused Water Recipes

Fruit-Infused Water Recipes
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Ditch the juice box and create a healthy fruit-infused water for your child's lunchbox. Check out our fun flavor combinations in my blog post!
  • Fruit & Herbs (check the blog post for combination ideas)
  • 2 quarts of water
  • Ice
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Pitcher
  1. Place the fruit and herbs, in the bottom of your pitcher and muddle with a wooden spoon, if directed.
  2. Fill the pitcher with water, cover, and refrigerate two hours or overnight, for maximum flavor.
  3. Fill a glass or thermos with ice. Pour your fruit infused water over the ice and enjoy!

Have you infused water before? What is your favorite infused water combination?



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How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from

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

Painted Succulent Pictures

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

How to Care For Your Succulents

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

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


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

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


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


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

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from

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

Supplies Needed

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

Gold Spray Paint

White Spray Paint

Inexpensive Pizza Pan (this was just $.92)

Painters Tape

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from


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

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

3. Finally, spray paint your pizza pan gold.

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

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from

How to Make a Succulent Centerpiece from

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


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How to Stain a Picnic Table

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

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

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

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

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

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

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

Supplies Needed:

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

Drop Cloth

Knit Rags

Paint Tray

Foam & Paint Brush


Heavy-Duty Cleaner

How to Stain a Picnic Table from


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

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

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

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

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

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

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

6. Allow your table to dry for two hours.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from


How to Stain a Picnic Table from

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

How to Stain a Picnic Table from

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

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

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

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


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How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Did you know that you can paint and dye plastic eggs that look like real eggs? Me either! Today I am showing off our ideas for decorating plastic eggs and (even more importantly!) how to get all that dye off of your hands.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs

I partnered with Walmart on today’s project to showcase a new egg that has made its way on store shelves that are simply called, “Plastic Decorating Eggs,” made by Paper Magic and they retail for, $1.97 for a dozen eggs. I found mine over by the other egg decorating supplies tucked away on the top of our shelf.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

What Do We Love About the Plastic Decorating Eggs?

I love decorating eggs with my kids, but when we do it, I wish that I could keep them longer without them spoiling or needing refrigeration. We also ran into instances of little hands being excited to dump their eggs in the dye, often resulting in cracked eggs.

These new eggs can be found over in the seasonal section of the store and are made from 100% recyclable plastic. Unlike the shiny brightly colored eggs we use for our egg hunts, these almost feel like a wooden egg with a brushed exterior, yet are lightweight since they are made from a lightweight plastic. There is a small seam that can be seen in my close-up pictures, but it does not break open like the neon plastic eggs.


Each kit comes with 12 eggs, 12 paper stands, and a dipper.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

How Do You Decorate Your Plastic Eggs?

We tried a couple of different techniques with the plastic eggs. One involved our favorite Kool-Aid dying technique and the other method incorporated the 24k Eggs & Speckled Eggs kits (also found in the seasonal section).

When attempting our Kool-Aid dying we found that the eggs did not lend themselves well to being dunked, due to their lightweight plastic nature, and the dye did not adhere to our eggs. We tried our most vibrant shades and still the dye did not stick. We boosted our dye with 3 teaspoons of vinegar and only achieved the softest shade of coloring. If you have younger children, this can lead to some impatience, and the kids were ready to move on to the decorating kits we purchased.

Painting our eggs, however, yielded vibrantly beautiful eggs. We combined the sponge technique with the golden glaze, and let the kids create their own masterpieces. The colors stayed very true and bright. I would recommend utilizing one of the egg painting kits for these and Walmart does offer many different varieties and you can see lots of different examples over here of ideas for decorating them.

How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs How to Dye Plastic Eggs

Here are the eggs we created with our kits. Some of the most beautiful eggs actually resulted from dyed fingerprints that added color and texture to them. My daughter loved doing the speckled eggs, while my son painted his fully with a brush. We let them dry in the carton and they now have a spot in our front room in a bowl to be admired all season long.

Although I am lucky that my children do not suffer from any food allergies, these eggs would be perfect for a child that has an egg allergy and could have an allergic reaction to the eggs. 

I would recommend this kit for little hands that have a hard time handling delicate eggs, children with egg allergies, and moms that might like to keep their decorated eggs from year to year.

How to Remove Dye From Hands

That was a messy job so I am sharing our tried-and-true recipe for removing egg dye & paint off of your hands. We can attest to this formula as we may or may not have used everything in our house from rubbing alcohol to oil to try to figure out how to get the pesky dye of our hands. Smarter people might wear gloves while decorating. We risk it all for our art. That’s how we roll.

How to Remove Dye From Hands

1 squirt whitening toothpaste

1 squirt face or body exfoliant

1 squirt baby oil

Scrub well. Add a little water and continue scrubbing. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. Maybe three times if you look like a Smurf.

Looking for more Easter ideas? Check out this list of 21 Fun Easter Projects you can try with your kids!


Have you tried the new dyeable plastic eggs? What do you think about them! Share your decorating ideas here!

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5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

Although the snow continues to fall here, I am starting to get the urge to spruce up my wardrobe for Spring. Today I wanted to showcase 5 fun ways to wear a $3.94 tank top with items you probably already have in your closet.

I am partnering with Walmart on today’s project to help spread the word about their $3.94 Faded Glory Ribbed Cotton Tanks that you can find in a variety of colors and prints at their store. Truth be told, I buy a huge stack of these every single year and each year, I think they improve a little bit more!

The one thing that I love about this year’s tank is that it actually covers your bra straps so you don’t have to wear a strapless bra with this one or have to layer anything underneath. It’s an improvement from year’s past where two tanks were necessary for coverage. I think you will be pleased with the cut, length, and fabric weight on these too.

Here are 5 fun ways to wear this year’s tanks!

5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

Novelty prints are still really hot this year so I wanted to pick up a couple of printed tanks to wear with my wardrobe basics. This heart print looks so cute with a boyfriend blazer, jeans, ballet flats, and a pretty necklace.

This would also be cute with a blazer, chambray shirt, or a favorite cardigan for layering until those warmer temperatures come along.

5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

Here is an example of that same novelty print, but dressed up! I grabbed my skinny red patent belt to cinch the waist and then paired it with a cotton skirt and my favorite red wedges. I love looks like this because you look very polished, but it is essentially as comfortable as wearing your pajamas!

5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

In the summer month’s I LIVE in maxi skirts and tank tops.There really is nothing more comfortable.

Here is another $3.94 tank top in a sunshine yellow that I have paired with my favorite maxi skirt and bubble necklace from our awesome site sponsor. When I have a shirt that doesn’t have any pattern to it, I really rely on fun accessories to add details to my neckline. One necklace can change the entire look of a basic tank.

5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

Truth be told, most of my tank tops get devoted towards my workouts at the gym! This tank can be paired with your favorite yoga pants and layered or worn alone with a sports bra for your workouts. Workout gear can be really expensive so I rely on this budget-friendly wardrobe staple for my yoga classes. Sweating ain’t no thang when you only pay $3.94 for a top!

5 Ways to Wear a $3.94 Tank Top

In the summer months, I am usually in my favorite capris and tanks while running around after my kids at the local park. Even this look paired with a chunky necklace, a contrasting patterned bangle, and a pair of wedges can look pulled together for a day running around with the kids.

I hope these ideas inspire you to make these tanks a summer staple in your wardrobe too!


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How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Pen Pals are a beautiful thing in a digital age where pen, paper, the process of writing, and waiting are so hard in our fast moving culture. Today I wanted to share about our experience with finding and writing pen pals that I hope will inspire you to find a pen pal of your own for your child after hearing about our experience.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Walmart challenged me to come up with a fun Spring Break activity for kids and finding a pen pal for my children is something that I have thought a lot about doing. We found items in their office supplies section like writing tablets (for big and small children), pretty note cards, and freshly sharpened pencils. With these arsenal of tools, we are now ready to begin a new adventure for our kids.

How Do You Find a Pen Pal?

Finding a pen pal is oh-so-easy thanks to social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I posted on my Facebook page that we were looking for children in our child’s age range that did not live in the United States to be pen pals with. Within minutes, we had many people replying about friends and family that lived in other countries with kids just around our age.

Of course, if finding someone living out of the states is harder to come by in your inner circle, consider just finding families that live in other parts of the United States. A child shivering in the polar vortex of Indiana, for example, might find a child’s life in Florida or California quite inspiring!

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Encourage Your Child to Craft a Great Letter

Writing letters not only improves our vocabulary and spelling, but it also helps teach children about the give and take of conversation.

Talk with your child about crafting a great introduction about themselves and how to weave in questions to find out more about their new pen pal. When my daughter asked me if her pen pal had glasses, I told her that this would be a great question to ask her so she could look forward to her response.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Have Your Child Explore Their Pen Pal’s Town

It is easier than ever to learn more about where someone else lives thanks to Google’s Street View and Wikipedia. Although there was no street view for our pen pal, who resides in Greece, we were able to take a peek at pictures of landmark items in her country and read facts about where she lived.

Knowing information like this helps to build those initial letters as you get to know more about each other.

How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals How to Find & Write Pen Pals

Send Your Letters Off

Once we were done writing our letter, we got to practice addressing an envelope and then added a few decorative touches to the back of our envelope for our new friend.

Although we ran our letter out to our mailbox at home, a great Spring Break activity might be to take that letter to the post office and make it feel even more, “official,” when sending it.

Now we must wait patiently for our response from our new friend and when she writes back, it will be a happy day, indeed!

How to Find & Write Pen Pals

I hope this inspires you to find a few pen pals of your own. And as double inspiration, here is my childhood pen pal. We met at church camp and became best friends through our letters back and forth. I remember that sweet anticipation of the mail dropping through the mail slot of our home and ripping them open to read, then reread, then reread again the precious words from my friend. 25 whopping years later, she is still my best friend for life.

I already told Emily to save her money and hopefully she will have a friend like that in her pen pal who she can visit someday! You just never know- we certainly never did! I shall be very jealous of her trips to Greece, should that happen!

Here’s a little video we put together of Emily’s first pen pal letter! I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear if you had a pen pal and what they meant to you?



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