Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 22 Assignment - More Organizing!!

Well, it looks like the Spring Cleaning Bug has bitten me too!  So this week I'm going to tackle my "Craft Closet"...a.k.a. The Little Princess's Bedroom Closet.  Currently, her closet is home to not only her clothes, but most of my Craft Crap, Photo Albums, Cameras, Office Supplies, and pretty much anything else I couldn't find a home for.  So this week, I'm going to try and get it organized and under control!  I did find some inspiration on Pinterest...

This is my personal favorite...I have a TON of fabric and it is currently in piles on the closet floor.  I just happened to buy a bunch of clip hangers at the Dollar Store the other day...

This one has me pretty excited too...especially since I'm about to buy a bunch of ribbon to make Princess Wands and Crowns for the Little Princess's birthday!  I wonder if the left over basket I have from my Pantry Make Over will work???

For the rest of my small, miscellaneous Craft Crap, I'm thinking of using this rolling plastic drawer set like this that I found in our side yard...guess the Hubs used to use it for work.

And if I can figure it out...I'm going to try something like this for my mountain of punches...

Guess it's official...Spring has Sprung!!  :)  Let's hope the Bug doesn't wear off any time soon!  Wish me luck and see you next week!!

Week 21 Results - Just a bit off target!

Well, as usual my week was hijacked...but this time not by the small pint-sized terrorists that I live with, but by the Hubs!  The Spring Cleaning Bug bit him hard this week which is evident in our New and Improved Garage!!  What once was a horror scene straight out of Hoarders is now a respectable two car garage that you can almost park a car in!  :)

In his fervor,  he had a bit of a melt-down while trying to grab a snack from our pantry.  As bags of chips, cereal, and marshmallows fell on him as he opened the pantry doors, he looked at me with a forlorn look on his face and asked "Think it's time to organize the pantry?"

How could I possibly say "no" to that??  :)  As fate would have it, I recently pinned just such a project from The Social Home,  so armed with some fabulous ideas and a heap of optimism I headed for the Dollar Store!!

Let me start by saying...Canada has WAY BETTER Dollar Stores than we do in the good old U.S. of A!!  Armed with my list of pantry goodies I hit both the 99 Cent Only and Dollar Tree stores only to be sadly disappointed!  Other than some rectangular tupperware, small canisters, and small green baskets, I didn't find much of what I needed.  I needed HUGE storage bins and baskets (we are Costco Shoppers after all!!) but came up with nothing.  :(  Instead of boarding a plane to Canada, I opted to make a B-line to my local Smart & Final.  There I found exactly what I needed in the huge storage bin arena, and while they weren't a dollar, they were far less expensive there than anywhere else.

Once I got my containers in order and filled, I made cute labels using Word and my new go-to labels, the Avery 6575 Permanent Labels.  As usual...I can't figure out how to share my templates without losing all the formatting, so if you want them let me know and I'll e-mail them to you.

A quick trip to Kinko's to print them out and viola...
I keep going to the pantry and opening it just to look at it!!  I am absolutely giddy over how much better it looks, and that I can actually find things quickly and easily!!  Oh, and nothing falls out when you open it either!!  Woo hoo!!  Now that I've tackled the pantry...what else can I organize around here??  :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Week 21 Assignment - If I could just finish the bathroom!!

The good news around here is my kids are growing up into cute, polite, happy little people!  The bad news is, I think nap time is a thing of the past...for both of them!  :(  But I'm determined to figure out a way to get the things I want to accomplish done.  A friend of mine, who I am in constant awe of, manages to work a full time job, be an amazing mom, and be one of the craftiest people I know so I know it's possible!  She just doesn't sleep!  :)

So as a test, I am going to try and finish caulking and painting the new "crown molding" in the guest bathroom once and for all!  Since it's been a while, here's a reminder of what I was hoping to accomplish AGES ago...

I am going to caulk all the seams and paint with a high gloss paint.  Since I can't use my favorite Glidden Trim & Door because the instructions for the foam molding say in large, bold print "USE WATER-BASED LATEX PAINT ONLY!!"  I'm going to give Floetrol a try.

It is supposed to eliminate brush marks in latex paint by extending the drying time...pretty much what the Glidden Trim & Door paint does but without the oil based formula.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one...if it does work the possibilities are ENDLESS!!  :)  Since the Glidden only comes in a handful of colors, if this works it may be the solution to the shiny turquoise front door of my dreams!!

See you next week!!  Wish me luck!

Week 20 Assignment - Results

Well, what can I say...I HATE cleaning!  I am definitely not the Domestic Diva I thought I would be when we decided that I should stay home with the kids!  But the good news is, I think I may have found a few tricks to help me fake it!!

After cleaning my disgusting floors with my go-to Bona Hardwood Floor Mop and Cleaning Solution, I gave 
Ask Anna's fake-out a try!  And I have to say, I was surprised at how well it worked!!  The majority of my floor issues are the result of sippy cup spills, so going around once a day with a hand towel really does the trick!  This, coupled with my Roomba dependency may just help me look like I spend a ton of time keeping my floors clean!!  If you have hardwood (or fake hardwood like we do) it's definitely worth a try!! 

Now...on to the bathrooms!  Eeeww!  I honestly have no idea how two toddlers and a grown man can make such a mess just going potty...and it's a total toss up as to who is the worst offender!  :)  On the bright side, ALL of my tricks that I picked worked even better than I had imagined!  I highly recommend them all!!  And the best part is, they all utilize the same concepts and ingredients, so doing them all takes very little time compared to the amazing results!!  I tried them in this order and was able to bang out two bathrooms in under an hour.  Considering how gross they were at the start I think that's quite an accomplishment!!  :)  

I stated with Joyful Homemaking's tip for removing mineral deposits around faucets...I just wrapped the faucets in both bathrooms in paper towels soaked in vinegar and let them sit until I was done with just about everything else.  After I took off the towels I gave a little scrub to any deposits that were left and viola!!  My faucets look brand new and shiny!!  It even took the caked on deposits on the faucets themselves.  I'll definitely be doing this once a month!!

Next, I gave Ask Anna's tip to get rid of that "Boy Bathroom Smell" a whirl!  I used a sponge paintbrush to pretty much coat both toilets from top to bottom as well as on the floor around the toilets with the lemon/baking soda paste and let it set.  Once I finished the second toilet I went back and sprayed the first with vinegar, as well as the walls and cabinet sides around the toilet.  While that fizzed, I did the same to the second toilet.  Then, back to toilet #1 to wipe everything down, followed by toilet #2.  The result???  Two bathrooms that smelled clean and fresh, with just a hint of vinegar!  The vinegar smell dissipated pretty quickly and when it did...tada!!  No "Boy Bathroom" smell at all!  I don't know if I'll do this once a week, but I will definitely do it once a month when I do the faucets!!  Maybe more if things start to get stinky!   

Finally, after removing the vinegar soaked paper towels on the faucets and giving a little scrub, I used the tip on how to clean a porcelain sink from The 36th Avenue.  I  read a bunch of the comments before I got started and saw one that said you could skip everything and just do the final, Clorox Clean Up step so of course I gave it a try...The results were okay but nothing as earth-shattering as I was hoping for, so I went back and followed the instructions step by step and all I can say is WOW!!!!  We have a cheap pedestal sink in our Guest Bathroom that I've never been able to get really clean and an even cheaper fake marble counter/sink in the Master that always looked gross...that is until now!!  All the black scuff marks and strange unidentifiable stains are a thing of the past and I am left with beautiful, gleaming white sinks that I don't hate anymore!!  I am totally intrigued by the dishwasher crystals cleaning power.  For my next trick I may try this combination of steps in our nasty fiberglass shower enclosures!!  :)  This is also something I'm going to start doing monthly!! 

So now for the million dollar question - Will the tip for Efficiently clean a bathroom using 3 paper towels??? Change my life?? I'm not 100% sure yet but I think it just might!  After my first try I can tell you I was able to "clean" two bathrooms, top to bottom in about 30 minutes.  And they look as good as they did after the big cleaning I gave them the week before!  The key is definitely the microfiber towels!  If you see them at your local Costco I definitely recommend buying a bunch!!  I have no idea why, by our house is extremely dusty and combine that with three dogs and let's just say stuff accumulates everywhere.  These microfiber towels pick all the yuck up easily and quickly.  Next I'm going to try dusting with them!!  
Now let me just tel you about the pillowcase ceiling fan cleaning technique from Real Simple...why hadn't I heard about this before!!  Our fans are all over our beds and cleaning them usually required stripping the beds and putting something down in case any yuck ended up falling off the fans...well no more my friends!!  In about 2 minutes I cleaned all the fans in our house (ooh, were they gross!!) with all the yuck landing safely inside the pillowcase!!!  Brilliant!!!

This next tip 
from One Good Thing...was the closest thing to a failure I experienced this week.   And it really wasn't a failure at all.  I made a paste of 1/4 cup baking soda with a splash of peroxide and put it on all the black, crusty stains I've been trying to remove from my stainless steel stove top since we moved in 7 years ago, and it removed about half of them completely.  The others ended up getting smaller and less noticeable, so I'm hoping with repeated applications they will eventually go.  Next, I'm going to try this on the black stains on the bottoms of my pots and pans!!  

I'm actually pretty stoked that everything worked as well as they did!!  Just another affirmation for my Pinterest addiction!!  I'm so stoked that I do think the tip from Organizing Made Fun is going to change my life.  I do hate cleaning, but for 15-20 minutes a day I think I can stomach it!!  So my goal is to stick to her weekly schedule for the next month and see how it goes!  
Of course, I'll keep you posted!  :) 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week 20 Assignment - What happened to my house????

Apparently, spending two weeks making pool noodle Lightsabers and Wookie Cookies leaves one's home looking like a fraternity house after Spring Break!  I'm always amazed at how much filth two adults, two kids, and three dogs can muster without even trying!  Needless to say, I feel the need to CLEAN!!!!  So this week, I've decided to try a few tips and tricks I've seen on Pinterest that seem just a little too good to be true, hoping it will turn my house sparkly clean again!!

Here's one that caught my eye from Ask Anna, one of my favorite blogs when it comes time to clean...
Definitely going to give it a try once I get the floors clean enough to not take a whole day to "spot clean"!  :)

Here's another one that I find intriguing!!  I HATE cleaning the's up there with having surgery without anesthesia!!  So I think I'm going to try doing this once a week once I give it a good cleaning...Efficiently clean a bathroom using 3 paper towels??? I'm in!!!

Now to get the bathroom clean enough to even attempt the 3 paper towel system, I think I'm going to give this tip from Joyful Homemaking for removing mineral deposits around faucets...
And this one on how to clean a porcelain sink from The 36th Avenue...
And for the Pièce de résistance...another little gem from Ask Anna to get rid of that "Boy Bathroom Smell" which is especially necessary for the Hubs bathroom (i.e. the Master Bath)...

Once I have the bathroom under control, I think I'm going to tackle some long neglected ceiling fans!  I'm dying to see if this really works...and if it's really as easy as Real Simple makes it out to be...

And I'm going to see if I can get my stainless steel stovetop clean once and for all using this tip from One Good Thing...

This should keep me busy for the week!  :)  Once it's all done, I'm going to see if this little beauty from Organizing Made Fun is going to change my life...
I'll keep you posted!  :)  Wish me luck!!  See you next week!

Week 18 & 19 Assignment - Results

Wow!!!!  I still can't believe we pulled it off...keeping 40 (yes, four-zero) kids occupied and having fun for over three hours!!  We pumped them full of sugar and then ran them ragged...I'm hoping their parents got to enjoy a quiet evening after they passed out!!  :)

I guess I should start with the invitations...since B-Man wanted a Clone Wars theme, I searched eBay and found exactly what I wanted from a familiar name...Tink Designs.  Hannah at Tink Designs helped me create the most adorable Dr. Seuss baby shower invites for my sister-in-law a while back so I was more than happy to do business with her again!

Thanks to a little help from the Biggest Kid I Know (a.k.a. Jedi Master Big "E"), he and Darth Vader (a.k.a. The Hubs) put on the best Jedi Training I've ever seen!!  Well, yes it was the only one I have ever seen but I can't imagine finding one better...When Jedi Master Big "E" disappeared to his car and came back with an armful of obstacle course gear and wearing a Snuggie-inspired Jedi outfit, I knew this was going to be way cooler than I had ever imagined!!

After running through the obstacle course several times, burning off the Wookie Cookies and Yoda Soda, they were awarded their "lightsabers" and continued to hone their skills on eachother and evil Dark Side Bubbles.  It was hysterical!!  The best part was when Darth Vader arrived and got the bejeebers beat out of him by 40 kids ready to defeat the Dark Side!!  Poor Hubs!  :)

Speaking of Wookie Cookies and Yoda Soda, here's the spread for the day...
First, let me say that the Oreo Cookie Cupcake recipe is crazy easy and TO DIE FOR!!!!  If you have a need for cupcakes, I HIGHLY recommend giving it a try!  I had several people ask me which bakery I got them from, and when I told them I made them they didn't believe me!

The food labels were easy too, just find a font you like and some cardstock and let Word do the rest!  I just found a label template that used the size I wanted and went to town.  I would share the font I used with you...but in downloading several Star Wars fonts trying to decide which to use I downloaded a virus too...since I don't know which one it came from I figured I should keep my cooties to myself!  :)  I will share this awesome website I used to come up with a lot of the food has an Encyclopedia with all the character and location names from the movies as well as the Clone Wars cartoons.  I also used it to find a picture for the water labels, which turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be!  I started with Avery 6575 Permanent Durable I.D. Labels.  These labels are pretty waterproof and super sticky so you don't end up with a huge mess once you put the bottles on ice.  Definitely shop around...I found them at Staples for almost half the price on Avery's website.  Then I made my own template in Word based on the size of the labels on a bottle of Kirkland (Costco) water, which I would love to share with you here but for some reason when I try to Google Doc it the format goes out the if you want it send me a message and I'll e-mail it to you.  Then it's just a matter of cutting the labels and putting them on the bottles...Definitely worth the time and effort in my book!

I know you all are wondering...did I make the Death Star Pinata???  Well, sort of...after sitting down and really reading the instructions my sanity momentarily returned long enough for my brain to scream..."JUST BUY A ROUND PINATA AND PAINT IT SILVER YOU IDIOT!!!!"  So that's what I did!  :)  I bought a $15 baseball pinata and spray painted it silver.  Then I added some black glitter grid lines and a circle where the planet demolishing beam comes out of.  B-Man loved it but asked me, "Mommy, where is the green thing?"  I had no idea what he was talking about but after a series of questions determined that he wanted a green beam coming out of it to blow things up with...too bad his Mommy isn't THAT crafty!  :)

To top off the day, each new Jedi received an Official Jedi Certificate and Wristband...
I found something similar, but not "Clone Wars" on a website but they didn't offer a "Clone Wars" version, so I asked Hannah at Tink Designs what she could come up with (how do I love eBay!!??)  and she totally hit it out of the park!!  The wristbands I found at and with an awesome Groupon I bought a while back I got them half price!!  :)

All in all I think this was the most awesome party I will EVER pull off!!  The kids all had an absolute blast!  Some of the "Adults" too!  
Now to start planning a Disney Princess Party!!  :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Week 18 & 19 Assignment - May the FORCE be with me!

The countdown to B-Man's Birthday Party has begun!!  So this week, I plan on getting the favors out of the way as well as get as much prepared for the party as I can!!  First big project...LIGHTSABERS!!  I found this on Pinterest and figured it was a perfect way for 5 year olds to hone their Jedi Skills without hurting eachother!  :)
Thanks to a trip to the Dollar Tree, I grabbed 30 pool noodles for $1/each!!  I'm hoping cutting them in half and wrapping them with tape won't be a huge pain in the butt!!

I found this link on how to make a "Death Star Pinata"...yes, I am insane!!

I'm also going to make food labels using a cool Star Wars font I found.  Here's a look at my proposed menu:

Ackbar’s Snack Bar
“Sith Snaks” – Takis (Crazy Spicy Corn Chip Tubes that I am absolutely addicted to!!)
“Rebel Treats” – Cheese Puffs
“Droid Parts” – square pretzels and pretzel stick mix
“Wookie Cookies” – chocolate chip cookies
“Slurp Sabers” – Gogurt
“Fruit Sabers with Darth Maul Dip” - fruit kebabs with my favorite "Crepe Creme" for dipping

Mos Eisley Cantina – 
“Yoda Soda” - 3/4 cup limeade, 1/2 cup sparkling water, 1 scoop lime sherbet
“Padme Punch” – Fruit Punch
“Boss Lyonie Lemonade” - Lemonade
"Mon Cala Water" (If I have time and can figure it out, make labels for the water bottles?)

Pizza the Hut – (Gotta love Costco!!)
“Padawan Pepperoni”
“Chewbacca Cheese”
“Count Dooku Combo”

And of course..."Obi-Wan Kenobi Oreo Cupcakes"!!  

I'm going to be realistic and give myself two weeks to get everything done, so I'll see you after the party!  This time, I'll remember to take pictures!!  :)

Week 17 Assignment - Results

Well, it's official!!  Potty training is kicking my butt!!  I don't know when it happened, but my sweet, lovable, angel daughter has turned into the most stubborn person I know!  Although we've had two successful potty poops in the last month, they were both a result of making her sit on the potty for AGES after she went a little in her pants.  Other than that, she just refuses to do it!  The funny thing is, after each successful one, she was so happy and proud saying that it wasn't so scary going in the potty...but unfortunately the euphoria doesn't last.  :(  I've tried everything from bribes to punishment to no avail.  Couple this with the fact that nap times may be coming to and end in this household and the end result is my "me time" may be becoming a thing of the past.   

So what did I accomplish this week???  Unfortunately not much.  I did get the "artwork" done for the bathroom and after several attempts I finally figured out how to use the stencil.  Funny how all I had to do was trust the people that made it and follow their directions to the letter!  :)  When they say you need to roll almost all of the paint off the roller onto a paper towel before using it on the stencil they actually mean it!!  Once I stopped trying to fight the stencil, it worked like a charm!!  What do you think...

I also spent the week making "Teacher Appreciation" projects which were a blast!  I made three "Mercury Glass" dollar store vases for "flower day" where each student brought one flower for each teacher.  The bouquets ended up being really adorable!!  I also made these M&M gifts that I found at Domestically Speaking and boy are they cute!!  :)...And check me out!  Finally learning how to make a photo collage in Picasa!!

So I guess the crown molding will wait for another time.  The good news is it doesn't look too bad even without being "finished"...or maybe that's the bad news.  I think if it looked like crap I'd be more motivated to get it done.  But since B-man's birthday is less than two weeks away it will have to wait!! It's time to get my Force on!  Maybe I can use the Force to help potty train the Pooptress!  :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week 17 Assignment - Back to Work!!

So, now that I'm rested and relaxed (yeah, right!!) I think I'm ready to get back to work on the bathroom.  My main goal for the week is to get the "Crown Molding" caulked and painted, but I'm struggling with how best to deal with all the seams.  So I'm going to try one (in the back of the bathroom above the bathtub) using caulking and a second using spackle.  I'm thinking the spackle will sand down better and help be bridge the gaps between some of the more uneven seams, but I just don't know.  Regardless, I have to get this done so wish me luck!

I'm also going to try and get some decorating done in the bathroom.  I bought some canvases when they were buy one get one free at Michaels a few weeks back and want to use my cool stencil I used on the cabinet door in there to make some "art".  I started one...

I sure hope it works!!!  See you next week!

Week 16 Assignment - Results

Wow, do I feel better!!  I think I have completely erased all evidence of the party from our home, and thankfully I didn't find any more scary surprises along the way!!  I also had a chance to do a little something fun!  I took some dollar store finds I had purchased a while back and experimented with "Mercury Glass".  Not only was it was SUPER EASY!!  The hardest part was finding the Krylon Looking Glass paint which apparently is sold out everywhere in Southern Orange County!  Thankfully, I found a bottle (from what I can tell the absolute last one in the area) and got to painting.  I first tried Katies Rose Cottage technique of spraying the Looking Glass on followed by spraying with a half vinegar half water solution.  It looked great in the areas where the Looking Glass hadn't already dried (man, this stuff dried FAST!!) but I had quite a few areas that didn't work because it was dry before I could get it sprayed.  I found a couple other tutorials that suggest spraying with the vinegar solution first and then the Looking Glass so I tried that and it worked much better.  I ended up doing a little of both, spraying the vinegar solution first, then the Looking Glass, and then a little more vinegar solution and viola!!  It worked like  a charm!  I also tried doing both the inside and outside of the glass as well as just the inside and found I really like the result when I did both best.  So I have ordered some more Looking Glass online (found it on Amazon for less than I paid for the bottle at Michaels with free shipping).   I guess I went a little crazy because here's what I ended up with...

Recognize the last picture??  Well, I got tired of paper cherry blossoms falling into my sink so I gave up on the ones I had made and found these light up blossom branches at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I know...they are a bit tacky, but they make me smile so what the hell!  :)  I originally was going to try and cut the bottoms off my frapuccino bottles because they have wires connecting the branches, but after seeing a bunch of tutorials on Pinterest I decided there had to be an easier way and there was!  I found these cylindrical hurricane shades at Modern Vase and Gift and I was sold!  Their shipping is a little high but they are located in Southern California and they let you pick up your order for free if you are willing to make the trek to the City of Industry.  I figured I'd spend that much in gas getting there and opted to have them, I'm lazy!

All in all, I've had a great week...just wish potty training was as easy as making Mercury Glass!!  I'm  afraid if something doesn't give my beautiful blue eyed daughter will become my brown eyed girl!  But I'm hopeful...yesterday I bought two Disney Princess dresses and one Minnie Mouse dress and hung them from the shower curtain rod in the bathroom.  I told Brenna that every time she poops in the potty she gets to pick a dress, but if she goes in her pants I have to take one back.  She's still resisting but she REALLY wants to dresses so I'm hoping she'll come around.  Nothing like bribery to raise your kid right...right???

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Week 16 Assignment - I think I need a week off!! :)

After the last two weeks, I can honestly say I have zero motivation to do anything but "Un-Party" my house.  So, instead of giving myself an assignment that I know I won't finish...I think I'm just going to try and get caught up on my Spring Cleaning (I'm still finding things in strange places...the day after the party I found a full cup of beer in Brenna's doll house and a dirty diaper at the foot of Bradan's bed.  I'm not sure which is more disturbing!!).  If I get the bug by the end of the week, I may give this "Mercury Glass" Tutorial I found at Katies Rose Cottage a try to turn a few Dollar Store wonders into something fabulous...but I'm not making any promises!!  :)
See you next week!!  :)

Week 14 & 15 Assignment - Results

I know...I've done it again!  :(  I let a one week project get the better of me and it took two...but not exactly for the reasons you might think. For one thing, we've been trying to potty-train my almost 3-year old daughter and let me just say we've been less than successful!  I've always heard girls were easier to potty train than boys...guess the people who told me that haven't met my daughter!  :( She caught on to going #1 in the potty no problem, but two weeks in and she flat out refuses to go #2 anywhere but in her pants.  :(  We've tried every kind of bribery (stickers, candy, toys, and even trips to the zoo) and finally resorted to taking away all her "Princess Dresses" until she does it because "Princesses don't go poo poo in their pants!"  Any suggestions, friends??  In my spare time...the "crown molding" went up in one day and really wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, but I never got around to painting it because I had another, much more time-sensitive mission on my plate - the Hubs' Surprise 40th Birthday Party!!!  For obvious reasons I didn't let you in on the secret until after we pulled off the coup of all coups, but I'm ready to share with you all the ups and downs of what went into planning my second most elaborate party to date (the first was my wedding!).

This all started 10 years ago at his 30th Birthday Party.  I threw him a surprise "Roast" and couldn't believe how many of his friends couldn't wait to embarrass him publicly!!  People created Power Point presentations, prepared detailed speeches, brought props (the blow up doll was my favorite!) and turned my little idea into an absolute blast.  So it seemed fitting to revisit the "Roast" for his 40th!!  I saw a pin on Pinterest with a party that had a Beer and Bacon theme and knew I had my muse!  It all started with the invitations, that I created through Heritage Makers.

In fact...I think I can say there are three reasons this party turned out as fabulous as it did...#1 - Heritage Makers, #2 - Pinterest, and #3 - The Queen of Party Planning, my good friend Amber!!  Not only did I make the invitations through Heritage Makers, I also made the cupcake toppers...

The food labels...

And the tags for the favors...

I won't bore you with the details...but if you want to learn more about how I made them just let me know!  :)

Now onto my #2 reason for my party success...Pinterest!!  Once I found my theme, Pinterest was an amazing resource for party ideas, recipes, and just plain old party tricks!  I did searches on "beer", "bacon", and "beer and bacon" and came up with a ton of ideas.  Couple that with pins Amber (my #3 reason for my success who should really be promoted to #1 now that I think about it) sent me and I was on a roll.  I will say I learned a VERY valuable lesson, if you are planning a surprise party for someone you live may want to rethink using "bacon" as your primary food ingredient!!  It is almost impossible to cook bacon without them coming home and asking "What's that smell???"  :)  Luckily, with the help of some friends and family who prepared some of the main dishes for me, we were able to pull off quite a spread!  Here's the menu (everything contained either beer and/or bacon) we used in case you  are tempted to give it a try...

Bacon Popcorn - It's a good thing I didn't read HOW you make this until after I ordered the food labels or I probably never would have tried it.  It's basically popping corn in bacon grease...eewwww. But it turned out to be a huge hit and was actually pretty yummy!  And SUPER easy to boot!  I was a bit grossed out at the comments that suggested pouring melted bacon grease over the popped corn like you would butter...definitely didn't do that!!  I thought it was fine on it's own.  :)

Beer Dip and Pretzels - We added the 1 cup of shredded cheddar and doubled the hot sauce as some of the reviews recommended and it was FABULOUS!!  This was one of the dishes I farmed out...Big thanks to my sister-in-law for making 5 batches!!  :)

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Crackers - I can't tell you how many compliments I got on these!  Super easy to make and really yummy!  Just take note that they have to bake for 2 HOURS!!

Bacon Wrapped Brats - These disappeared so fast, I only got one...but man was it tasty!!

Beer Mac & Cheese - Soooooo good!!  I think this is going to become my new go-to Mac & Cheese recipe...sorry Kerri's Grandma (the creator of my current go-to recipe)!!  Thanks to my mother-in-law for whipping up two batches of cheesy goodness!!

Bacon Potato Salad - I had so many people ask me for this recipe!!  They said it was the best potato salad they'd ever had...must have been because it was gone by the time I got to it!  :(  Super thanks to the Queen of Party Planning for whipping up a double batch of this one!!  I think I'm bringing it to my niece's birthday party later this month!!

Spicy Beer Beans - This was by far the easiest recipe on my menu...but everyone loved it.  I did have a couple of people say..."all it needs is some bacon bits"...which in hindsight would have probably made them even BETTER!!  This may be a summer cookout staple around here.  Especially since they can be served hot or cold.  And did I mention how easy they were?????

Beer Lollipops - Yes, you read correctly...BEER LOLLIPOPS!!  Everyone looked at me like I was insane - especially the guy down at our local home brew store where I bought the hops.  But I have to say they turned out great!!  Once again, the Queen of Party Planning came to the rescue and let me make her beautiful home smell like a brewery!  And when we didn't finish, she made the rest for me later in the week.  What a lifesaver!!!  There is NO WAY I would have been able to make these at home without the Hubs wondering what the #$*@ I was up to!  We used a really hoppy IPA (Stone Ruination) and "Amarillo" hop pellets.  Kind of a pain but definitely worth the effort!  If you want to give them a go, click on the website in the pin was the only way I could pin it.

S'mores Bar with Beer Marshmallows - Since I finally had a permanent spot for the fire pit, it seemed like a perfect excuse for s'mores...but I wanted to stick with the Beer or Bacon theme.  Kudos to Amber for stumbling across this one on Pinterest!!  I just used the portion of the recipe to make the beer marshmallows and all I can say is WOW!!  They were amazing!!  I used my favorite beer, Blue Moon, and have to say they are probably the second yummiest thing I've ever made...#1 is coming up!!  To keep them from sticking together I just tossed them in a bag of powdered sugar after I cut them into squares and gave them a good coating.  And they were easy to make...definitely worth a try for your next campfire excursion!!  (Yes, I will be bringing a batch to Sequoia friends in case you missed them this go round!)

Guinness Jameson Baileys Cupcakes - Yep!  Why have only one alcohol in your cupcakes when you can have three???  That's just how I roll!  :)  These are by far the most delicious food I have ever made in my entire life!!  And don't let the terms "from scratch" or "ganache" intimidate you.  These cupcakes, although amazing, are remarkably easy!!  One little trick I found on Pinterest absolutely saved my life...if you haven't tried the saran wrap trick for filling frosting bags, DO IT!!!  I have always hated frosting cupcakes because I end up wasting a bunch of frosting and making a huge mess. This is soooo the way to do it!  I did it for both the ganache and the frosting and filled and frosted 72 cupcakes in under an hour.  That's a land-speed record for me!

Speaking of addition to a heathly selection of beer, I got a bee up my butt to make Bacon Habanero Infused Vodka!  (Thanks Zane Lamprey of "Drinking Made Easy" for introducing me to this little wonder!)  While the process was a little disturbing, the end result was phenomenal!  I found a recipe on Pinterest (of course!) for Bacon Infused Vodka and just added Habanero flakes when I put in the bacon.  I used a neat trick I got from Amber on how to cook bacon in the oven...way easier and less messy than on the stove!  I don't think I'll ever cook bacon on the stove again!  I used the Bacon Habanero Infused Vodka to make...

The Bloody Pig - Basically a Bloody Mary with Bacon Vodka, but the Bloody Mary Mix in this recipe is the bomb!!  I give it four hooves up!!  And once again, super easy to make but super impressive!  There's no shame in letting people think I worked harder than I really did, right??

The Dirty Pig - Basically a Dirty Martini with Bacon Vodka (the website I took it from called it the Pickled Pig...but I liked the name Dirty Pig better!).  I'm definitely not a Dirty Martini kind of girl, but I have to say this turned me around.  I don't know that I could drink a bunch of these, but I really enjoyed the one...okay two...that I had!  :)

I have to apologize now for the total lack of pictures of all these goodies...but I have to admit I had so much fun I totally forgot to take pictures once everything was set up.  In fact, I think I took less than a dozen pictures the whole evening.  Oops!!  But I guess the moral of the story is 10 packages of bacon + lots of booze + good food + tons of help + really good friends = an amazing evening!!  I really am not exaggerating when I say tons of help!!  When the first guests arrived I was no where near ready, but they swooped in and helped me look much more on top of things than I really was in no time at all!  I really REALLY couldn't have done it without you guys!!

Oh yeah...the "crown molding"!  Well, the long and the short of it is Tracy and I got it installed in about 3 hours and it was pretty easy going up.  Is it easier than "real" crown molding?  Definitely in the cutting, but the downside is you have way more seams to deal with, and it's pretty delicate.  I have a few finger dents from pushing it into place that I wasn't anticipating.  For a small room I don't think it's a bad option, but I definitely won't be doing this in my "great room"...I'd have a hundred seams.  Since I haven't finished caulking and painting it, I have no idea if the seams are going to be a pain or not...but I'll definitely let you know!  :)  In the meantime, here's what it looks like so far...

What do you think????

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Week 14 Assignment - My "Crown"-ing Achievement?

With my new invincibility in tow, I'm finally going to tackle installing the crown molding in the Guest Bathroom!  As I mentioned before,  it isn't your traditional crown molding.  It's made of foam and is installed using adhesive caulking.  They also pre-cut your corners for you.   I found it at Creative Crown a year ago and have been dying to give it a try!  I ordered samples a while back and decided to go with the pre-primed molding because it has a much smoother finish.  It's been sitting in my garage for months and it's definitely time to get it up on the walls!!

When I finally opened the box there was a piece of paper in it that said in big, bold letters..."USE WATER-BASED LATEX PAINT ONLY!!"  So much for my favorite Glidden Trim & Door Paint!! Guess this gives me a chance to give a product I found on Pinterest a try...

It's called Floetrol and it's a paint additive that is supposed to eliminate brush marks in latex paint by extending the drying time...pretty much what the Glidden Trim & Door paint does but without the oil based formula.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one...if it does work the possibilities are ENDLESS!!  :)

See you next week!!  Wish me luck!

Week 13 Assignment - Results

Let me tell you...this week's assignment has taken my new-found feeling of invincibility to a whole new level!!  Not only did I take what I saw in my head and make it happen...I did it all by myself!!  Power tools and all!!  And I have to say once I got over my fear of screwing it up, it was really quite easy!!  So here is the end result (please excuse the pictures...and the disgusting shower doors...does anyone have a pin for getting hard water stains off glass doors that are CLR proof???)

Here are a few things I learned along the way...just in case you want to give it a try!

  1. Apparently my house was built by stoners!!  Not a single wall in my bathroom is plumb.  In fact, I don't think any of the walls in the house are!  If you have the same issue, I highly recommend using trim made of's much easier to sand the backs of to match the random angles of your walls.
  2. I installed the trim pieces using adhesive caulking and then secured them with finishing nails.  Make sure you pre-drill the holes for the finishing nails before attaching the piece to the wall.
  3. I caulked the edges before painting the trim...and instead of masking everything off with tape I bought a small, angled paintbrush at the craft store and used that on all my edges.  I have a new found fear of masking tape and this turned out to be easier and gave me perfect lines!!  Thanks, Tracy for this tip!!!  
One more project under my belt and I'm slowly getting the guest bathroom under control.  I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel!!  :)  On to the next project...