DIY Items for Little Ones

DIY Friday~ turning your fridge into a learning center

This week I’m bringing you another fun activity for toddlers! The season of back to school has approached here in Florida, and not sure if I’m missing that feeling of getting a classroom ready, but I thought it would be so much fun to incorporate an interactive learning center for Little Johnny!

We live in a small place so I’m always making use of every square foot! This leads me to our fridge… We have open space there and it’s a great place for a learning area because it’s a huge magnetic board, so that’s a plus to start with! We also always seem to be in the kitchen, anyone else feel that way?! Another bonus is it’s very easy to hang things on the fridge. I’m a big fan of command hooks, so I totally used them within this project.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking “Will this last after “rough” toddler hands play with it?” The answer is, not sure…but I’m willing to find out. Even if it just lasts a couple months it’s totally worth the “little” effort that went into making the area.

Exposure is great at this age and even though Little Johnny isn’t the biggest talker I can tell he is definitely soaking everything in, consistency is key (along with a ton of patience). So I’m hoping this exposure will help to boost those language skills! 🙂

Most things I already had at home, but we did recently go on a “Target Dollar Section” run, and oh my! So many fun educational things, especially since it’s back to school time! I could get lost in that section!

DIY Fridge Learning Center 


Before going into detail about the items, please excuse our old fridge! Not very pretty for pictures, but it does the job. 🙂

This area is our “water painting” and dry erase board. Little Johnny loves paint brushes and the idea of just using water to paint indoor is genius! Sometimes we draw on our chalkboard paper and then water paint over it. You can see the chalk disappear and it’s a neat reaction for little ones. I used a mason jar with velcro on the back to store our paintbrushes and dry erase marker. So far Little Johnny hasn’t taken it off yet, but we’ll see how long that lasts. 😉 Doesn’t hurt trying, right? As for the dry erase board, I had a picture frame that I bought from the Dollar Tree a few months ago. I placed bright green construction paper in there to give it more color. I used an adhesive tape that holds up to 10 pounds and stuck it on the fridge, so far so good! This is probably Little Johnny’s favorite activity!

These were our fun finds at the Target Dollar Section! The letter board is great exposure in learning vocabulary terms and when Little Johnny gets older we can use it for blending cvc words. I used velcro to attach it onto the fridge, that way if we wanted to we can take it off and use it else where. The small storage bin was something I bought at the Dollar Tree a while ago and just spray painted it a pretty slate blue color. As for the chalkboard paper, it’s another Target Dollar Section find! I used a white bucket to store the chalk and command hooks to hang the items.

I made this easy shape activity a while back and it’s been tucked into a bin, which we haven’t used in a while.(By the way, excuse my “chicken scratch” handwriting!)  I wanted to bring it back out and when it’s exposed the more use we’ll get out of it. I added songs on the back so we can sing about the shapes and build the shape using popsicle sticks. It’s a fun interactive activity. Command hooks along with a binder clip came in handy when attaching it to the fridge.

Little Johnny received a leap frog magnetic number learning activity for Christmas that we still use to this day! I love the one-to-one correspondence with the numbers, so this is our “numbers” area. I have always wanted to make him  a felt board and instead of going out and buying felt material I actually had a felt blanket that we don’t use and just re-purposed it into a felt board. The transportation felt set was another Target Dollar Section find.

Little Johnny in Action! 

This was an exciting project for me! My hope is that I will instill in Little Johnny that learning is fun because “the best type of learning happens when you’re having fun!” I don’t have a checklist and I haven’t isolated any numbers, shapes, or colors we’re simply just enjoying the exposure to these educational items! Little Johnny leads in his play and sometimes it lasts for 5 minutes, other times it can last longer, and as well all know it definitely depends on the day.

We’re making learning interactive and fun in our household!

What are some activities you have incorporated into your home? Please share! It makes me so happy to hear others share their creativity or just ideas they hear of. Even the simplest ideas are much appreciated! I will say that if you share a suggestion I usually end up doing it because I’m all about trying out new things.

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

 

DIY Home Decor

DIY Friday~SofaTable Makeover {Garage Sale Find)

I am so excited to share with you this beautiful sofa table makeover, which I have been working on for probably about 2 weeks now. This was way over the amount of time that it should have taken, but you know…m o t h e r h o o d…always comes first!

This gem is coming all the way from Cocoa Beach and it landed right into our apartment, which I’m currently using as an entertainment center. Here’s the story…we were heading to the beach with our friends.  As we got into town, I turned the corner and spotted this beauty at a garage sale. I wasn’t going to purchase it, but my friend and her boyfriend insisted, which they actually ended up buying it for me (can’t thank them enough!) 🙂

So many qualities about this piece captured my attention…the character of this wood has many unique features, which I knew I wanted to expose and have it become the main attraction. There were a few scratches, but overall in decent shape (perfect to attempt the distressed shabby chic look). My favorite part about this piece is the ‘knots” within the wood. I also fell in love with the shape of the beautiful legs along with the detailed lines this piece showcases. I’m simply just making it pretty again.

I challenged myself to only use the supplies I had on hand.  I always have a can of white paint stored, and I knew the contrast would look very chic when matched with the lighter wood. I explored with some different techniques found some of my own along the way (that’s the best way of learning right?!) 😉 I figured why not be bold and forget about the rules! 😉

This result ended up being something I would definitely purchase in a store. It opens up our living room and adds just enough detail that’s not overbearing. It makes a beautiful statement in our home.  I’m just so happy with this piece and I can’t stop staring at it!

Supplies


  • white paint for the legs (it took me about 6 coats to get a full coverage…at some point i need to invest in a paint sprayer)
  • accent color
  • sidewalk chalk
  • pine stain
  • dark walnut stain
  • polyurethane
  • coconut oil
  • vinegar
  • canola oil
  • vaseline
  • paint brushes
  • old towels

The first thing I did was clean the table with soap and water. Then I restored the wood, which I wanted to try a more natural way to clean up the scratches. I found that mixing vinegar and canola oil along with rubbing coconut oil on top after did the trick. I followed instructions from lifehacker.com and it seemed to smooth out most of the light scratches.

I had a pine stain that matched perfectly to the original stained color of the wood. I re-stained the table and then when back over the knots and details in the wood with a darker stain as an accent. I wasn’t going to paint the middle top portion of the table, but after looking over it for days I finally decided it needed a pop of color, which really attracts your attention to the lines of the wood now.

I didn’t want to just paint it a solid color, so I decided to go ahead and apply a distressed look to the top. I applied vaseline to the areas that I wanted it to look weathered and then applied a light greyish paint. Now, I would have totally used a chalky paint because that works best when creating a distressed look, but remember I wanted to “challenge” myself without buying anymore supplies so that left me with problem solving and coming up with a different idea as I didn’t have any chalky paint on hand. As I was painting I saw Little Johnny’s sidewalk chalk in the corner of my eye and I decided why not give that a try….

Yes, I used sidewalk chalk to attempt a “chalky paint” look. And it worked!

After I let the paint dry I then used the sidewalk chalk to rub against the wood, making sure to display the weathered areas. After that I used a dry brush to remove the chalk dust. I went back over it with white paint using a “dry brush” technique (where the paint brush is relatively dry, but still holds a little paint.)

I almost wasn’t going to apply a top layer of white, but I’m glad I did (thanks to my husband for the suggestion!) By the way, quick side note… Big John literally said he wants to do a flea market challenge with me and see whose is liked best by my followers like best! So, it may be happening soon, stay tuned! 🙂 I’m always up for a fun challenge!

I finally sealed the top with polyurethane and it looks amazing! This step is a must because without it, the paint will start to wear off after a while.

The legs of the table were very easy, it just took many coats in order for it to display a crisp and clean white color. For the knobs I sanded them down a bit and applied a darker stain, which created a two tone look that I really like!

I realize the wires look tacky, still working on a better way to display it, but for now this is it! 🙂 If you have any suggestions for hiding wires, please share! This was such a fun project and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you!

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

 

Motherhood, Recipes

Tips and Tricks with Saving Money on Groceries & 7 Day Menu

We all like to save money and if we can eat well out of it too, than it’s a win win in all situations! Let me start off by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. I am simply sharing my tips and tricks that are helping us to save money on our grocery bill, along with the new found love I have for…Aldi.  We all have to grocery shop at some point, so why not save money while you’re doing it without the extra step of couponing!

I always new about Aldi, but never actually shopped there until I started staying home with Little Johnny. We had to find all kinds of ways to cut back on our spending and the grocery bill was a huge oneMy only complaint is that right now I do have to drive about 20-25 minutes to get to the store, so let’s get on building an Aldi near us, shall we?! 🙂 Mind you, we live right next to a Publix too…so it’s very tempting to just say “forget the drive” but the amount we save is so worth it!

Here’s a little secret about me…I am not a couponer…(if that’s even a word, haha)! I applaud all mamas that take the time to coupon. I don’t have the patience for that right now and I realize how much money you can save along with even getting money back sometimes, but my life is already a little hectic so I’m just keeping it simple with a few tips & tricks that drastically help to cut back on our grocery bill!

This grocery trip I spent $67.89, which includes a planned out menu for 7 meals (I’m a pinterest meal planner :)) and a few added snacks, and beverages. We are a family of 4, so we tend to have a lot of leftovers that ends up just being our lunch for the week. Before I share my menu with links to the recipes, let’s get into a few tips &tricks that I have been doing to save.

Tips & Tricks with Saving $ on Groceries


  • Shop at Aldi- There prices are  unbelievably cheap, and you’re not risking the quality of your meals either. So far we have no complaints. (By the way this week the eggs were 48 cents & avocados were 89 cents!
  • plan out your menu for the week and write down a grocery list!
    • It’s a bit of work to complete this, but well worth it throughout the week because I don’t have to worry about thinking “what’s for dinner”. I just look at my board and I’m good to go, it truly is a lifesaver for the weekly dinner time stress. And by the way, I’m a traditional lady with grocery lists and I literally just write it down on scrap paper.
  • Stick to your list!
    • This is always the hardest thing for me, but sticking to your list and not adding on is one of the easiest ways you’ll save (but it does take some self-control on your part..)
  • buy in large quantities of meat and use it for more than 1 meal
    • For example the pork roast will do us for a couple of meals, so I planned 2 dinners out of it…pulled pork sandwiches and pulled pork nachos.
  • build your spice cabinet!
    • I have collected a variety of spices over the last couple of months which has helped me to not have buy more spices.
  • Check your fridge and cabinets before you grocery shop!
    • This is another simple one, but something I’m even guilty of not always doing! When I see that we still have some leftover fruits/veggies along with other spices I try to incorporate it into my planned out meals (mostly as side dishes) so they’re not going to waste!  You’d be surprised with the variety of things you can make out of leftovers, which also tastes yummy too! (Google is a great friend for this! ;))
  • use “protein fillers” within meat-
    • I buy cans of black beans every time I go grocery shopping and I use them within my ground turkey or other meals as “protein fillers” so that I can divide the pound of meat into at least 2 meals!
  • Use a calculator! 
    • I’m going old school with this, but it truly helps to keep track of what you’re spending!
  • Skip the snack aisle and shop your produce & meats first!
    • I use to does this backwards where I would shop for the things that are just extras, but sometimes we just don’t have the wiggle room to purchase them. So when I shop for the necessities first than I can see if I am able to splurge.
  • pay with cash and leave all your cards at home!
    • This might be extreme, but if you don’t have the cards on hand and are limited to just the money you have, those extra snacks that you really don’t need won’t be added on… I’m so bad with getting caught up in the snack aisle and even though it’s small added costs, it does add up.

7 Day Menu for the Week 


(we are not on any type of diet, we simply eat food that sounds good to us but in balanced portions.)

I have included all the links to where I found the recipes so make sure to click on them!

Meal #1 Sunday

Main Dish- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Side Dish- I already had sweet potatoes so I just added it as our side. You can also include honey cinnamon butter! 

photo credit is to allrecipes.com

(P.S. here’s a quick and easy trick I learned to bake sweet potatoes in the microwave if you’re in a hurry, wet a paper towel and wrap it around each potato…it creates a “steamed approach” to cooking them.) 

Meal #2 Monday

Main Dish- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup & Garlic Bread 

This is a really easy recipe, but still gives it that “homemade taste”.

Meal #3 Tuesday

Main Dish- Ground Turkey Enchiladas 

Side Dish- Tomato & Corn Lemon Salad 

Easiest side dish ever! Simply mix in a can of corn, cilantro, and chopped tomatos. Then add lemon juice and salt to taste. (Usually I add black beans too, but the enchiladas already call for them.) 

photo credit is to diethood.com

Meal #4 Wednesday

Main Dish- Southwestern Chicken Alfredo Pasta 

Meal #5 Thursday

Main Dish- Pulled Pork Nachos

I’m using my leftover pulled pork from earlier in the week. I even had enough to freeze for another meal.

Meal #6 Friday

Main Dish- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza  

photo credit is to countrysidecravings.com

Meal # 7 Saturday

Main Dish- Baked Ziti 

photo credit is to countrycook.com

What are some tips that you do to save on your grocery bill? I hope this has helped you in planning out your meals as I know it can be a bit stressful at times! Enjoy!

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

 

DIY Items for Little Ones

DIY Friday- Dinosaur Sensory Excavation Activity for Toddlers

It’s about time that I did a DIY project that related to an activity for Little Johnny to participate with. One of my most viewed posts has been the DIY hula hoop sensory toy, so I figured my viewers would love to get other ideas to incorporate with their little ones.

I was going to post about my furniture project this week that I have been working on, but it’s not nearly finished (a job that should take about 2 hours is turning into a few days…m o t h e r h o o d.) Stay tuned though because it will be revealed hopefully next week! This beautiful wooden sofa table is coming all the way from Cocoa Beach! I found this gem at a garage sale while my friend was in town! I almost didn’t get it, but they insisted and actually bought it for me! 🙂 So now I’m making it pretty again! The features in the wood has so much character built into, which all I’m doing is just accentuating them!

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Now, onto the activity…

Little Johnny really enjoys going to the Science Center here in Orlando! While he loves the toddler center, sometimes it’s nice to switch things up, so we venture up to the 4th floor and “dig for dinosaurs”! I thought this week’s DIY project would be a great idea to incorporate at our house for times when we just can’t make it over there. You can also include “bugs”, which they have at the Dollar Tree as well. This DIY project is seriously so easy and fun! Plus it’s another sensory activity which is great for kids to explore at this age.

All the materials I purchased were at the Dollar Tree.

{Supplies}

  • plastic bin
  • sand
  • toy dinosaurs  (or any other creatures you want them to dig for)
  • paint brushes
  • shovel (optional)
  • flour (optional)
  • water (optional)
  • rice (optional)

{Steps}

It’s pretty much self explanatory. The only item that I added a little twist to was the sand. I wanted it to be a little more compact and not as loose (which helps with cleanup duty too), so I added about 1/4 cup of flour, and 1/2 cup of water, and a 1 tablespoon of rice  in order for the sand to harden a little. I simply placed the creatures in the bottom of the bin and covered it with the sand mixture. Little Johnny then used the paint brushes and shovel to find the items.

{Quick note- if you are adding the flour mixture just know that it will only last about 2 days.}

If you have younger children make sure you assist as they tend to always want to put things in their mouth. This is still a great activity for them, just with parental watch. Also, this does get messy…so we took it outside, but if you want to do it indoors on a rainy day simply place a very large towel on the floor and then put the bin on top. When your child is done playing scoop with the towel and shake it outside. 🙂

I hope you all enjoyed this DIY! I’m looking to do more kid related DIY projects in the future, so stay tuned! 🙂

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

 

Family Adventures, Motherhood

10 Ways to $ave Money & Contribute to Finances as a Stay -At- Home- Mom

What a title, huh?! Finances have never been my strong suit, but I’m learning that in order for me to stay at home I better crack down on our spending habits and be smart about how we can save money. Before I dive into my list let’s talk about the 4th of July weekend festivities! Sunday afternoon was a beach day for the Florida Morehouse Family. We arrived at the beach around 3:30 (Cherie Down Park is one of our favorite spots in Cocoa Beach!) and didn’t get home until 11:30pm! That’s probably the latest Little Johnny has ever stayed out, and boy was he a party animal! We decided to venture over to Cape Canaveral’s Harbor to see the firework display.

Okay, let’s talk $avings now!

The decision to stay at home and cut back to one income these days is extremely rare and a very difficult decision to make. On those circumstances though, you have to make sacrifices and realize where in your monthly expenses you can cut back. While being a stay at home mom I have moments where I feel helpless because I’m not “contributing” financially, but now that I look at it I really am doing a whole lot to help out with our finances. I have learned that here are other ways to help out with saving/ contributing to the everyday finances. Making a list always helps to visualize exactly how that’s happening, so here’s the list!

10 Ways to $ave Money & Contribute to Finances

as a Stay-At-Home-Mom


1.Cut Cable Completely – We have been using hulu for a while now, and quite honestly all the shows that we watch are on there. I have no complaints. We have a very busy schedule and sometimes we don’t even have time to watch tv…so why waste money, right?!

2. Home Cooked Meals- While we love to eat out (the convenience is so nice, isn’t it?) we just don’t have room in our budget to do so. When cooking meals at home it saves us so much money! I try to plan out our weekly menu with a variety of foods that we would like to order in restaurants. (I get a lot of my inspiration from other blogs as well!) I even made homemade tortilla chips one day and they were so easy & delicious! It can be something small as well, like making your own brewed sweet tea and drinking it out of a Mason Jar! It’s the little added touches that make the experience at home fun! 😉

3.Shopping at Aldi- I would love to get into couponing someday, but man that seems like so much work and dedication! I applaud all those who are true couponers! Way to go! My way of saving on groceries is by shopping at Aldi. We save so much here and they range in a variety of foods, plus they also have an organic selection and some name brand items. Before I go I try to always meal plan and use the most recent flyer as a guide. It’s definitely a process, but it saves a ton of money along with writing out my meals for the week.

4.Driving Less- We try not to venture too far during the week, and occasionally we’ll drive out to the beach on the weekends, but that’s about it. We have a park close by that we can walk to and other close things nearby as well (I am so thankful for the location we are in.) I have learned to adapt to hobbies at home such as cooking, reading, art projects with Little Johnny, and just enjoying our home.

5. DIYing- This one is fun for me! While some DIY projects can be expensive, not all of them are. DIY projects range in all sorts of categories from sewing your own clothes to family pictures and home decor projects. (I also include food in this topic as well.) Whatever it is that you would love to go out and purchase, try creating it yourself first. It doesn’t have to be anything huge either. We don’t own a home, but I know that home repairs are always the cheapest way to go for most projects. (YouTube is a great friend for that!) It may take more time, but the amount you’ll save is worth it.

6. Consignment Store Shopping- We have bought most of Little Johnny’s clothes (and toys) at Once Upon A Child. Their clothes are at a really great price, but the best part is the quality is amazing! I have bought so many clothes (name brand too) that still have the price tag on them. The best part is we actually get compliments from others about a certain outfit that looks cute on Little Johnny.

7. Clothes Shopping is put to a STOP- While I seriously love to shop for clothes, it’s been almost one year since I purchased any new clothes item for myself and Big John. Of course when we do need something we’ll go out and buy it, but for now our clothes are still in good shape and I’m finding things in the back of my closet I can fit into that I couldn’t wear after having a baby (although we’re mostly in our gym clothes anyways with running a Martial Arts gym).

8. Barter System- We’re going back to the olden days where this is what women use to do. “I’ll give you something in return for something I need”. Whether it’s helping out in doing a babysitting swap or a switch out of toys, this is a great approach to save money. If you want to take it a step further, managing a blog can be a great bartering tool for entertainment and children activities that you would like to be involved with.

9. At Home Date Nights- While it’s nice to go out and get away from the house, but when you factor in the cost of a babysitter, plus the expense of entertainment for the night…it adds up quick! We have yet to try this one  as our schedules are so busy, but I would love to set up a date night in our house as it’s so important to stay connected and have one-on-one time in a marriage, even when schedules are busy! It can be simply just making a favorite meal together and watching a movie with your favorite treats. If you want to really take it to the next level, here is a post I found on some unique “At Home Date Night Ideas“. (Now, the trick is convincing your husband to do some of these! 😉 ) You can also do “at home happy hours with friends!” how fun, right?! Remember it’s all about the ambience!

10. Develop a “Turn it off” Rule-This one seems like a no brainer, but there have been so many times in the past where I just leave lights on when no one is in the room. Now I’m becoming more conscious and trying to turn all electricity off (including fans) when no one is using them. These are just small ways to cut back on the utility bills. If you want to know more easy money saving tips on utilities, click here.

 

**Bonus**

Freelance Work- Finding something that can bring in a little extra money can be a huge help! Even if it’s just paying one bill. Recently I have been working for VIP Kid and with the amount of classes I teach I am almost at my monthly goal with being able to pay our rent! (So far I have also helped 2 other moms to reach their goals of earning money while staying at home too! I find so much joy from that!) There are many types of small jobs you can do from home, although the tricky part is finding one that fits your schedule along with something that isn’t sketchy…

Other Resources


Recently I have been looking into the Dave Ramsey system, have you hear of him? He’s the one that guides millions (maybe billions, I’ll have to check into that) of people to become “debt free”. He has a talk show that I have been listening to and I was skeptical at first about becoming debt free on one incomebut I have heard so many positive stories, and it can be done! This is a goal of ours that I have now come to terms that we can start working on, even with living on one income. We will work on the baby steps of becoming “debt free” so that one day we can live a less stressful life where we are not tied down to “bils”. It won’t happen over night, and that’s something I think I had to come to terms with…we need to just “buckle down” and realize that with time and determination, it can happen.

One thing that helps to keep track of finances and not indulge in over spending is keeping track of your budget. I’ll be honest, we have never been the best at this, but you have to start somewhere, right?! There are so many different apps and ways to go about this and I have recently found everydollar budget system that we really like (I actually found it on the Dave Ramsey website). Right now we really don’t have any wiggle room, which is why it’s so important to constantly keep track of our spending. We have never been really good with sticking to our budget, but now we’ve come to terms and are maturing with our financial decisions.

Right now we are living a frugal and simple life (although don’t get me wrong we still have very stressful days). It’s been a long and difficult road, but I’m finally learning to show gratitude and contentment in where we are (even if we’re not the richest folks on the block). Learning to be happy with what we have now and not always want more is helping to provide us with a simplier lifestyle (even during one of the hardest times of our life, and man was that a difficult lesson to learn).

The reality is this is a different type of lifestyle and with all things it takes time to change your spending habits over the years. Focusing on one thing at a time and evolving into multiple tactics have helped us to stay on track, basically getting into a routine of things. Focus is key, and also wanting it to work,  because if you’re not all in it’s very difficult to stay on track.

“The less you need, the happier you’ll be. Less is always more.”

Not everyday is easy, it takes a lot of self- control to stick to these tactics, but it’s well worth it. What are some ways that your family has been saving money?

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

DIY Home Decor, Upcycled DIY

DIY Friday~ Vertical Shelving Made From A Pallet

We have all seen the many different projects you can create from a pallet, specifically shelving. A few months back I found an old pallet on the side of the road that was calling my name! I hauled it home and it’s been sitting under my car port waiting for me to transform it into home decor projects! So far I have made a mail box organizer for inside, and now I added my second item from the scraps of a pallet…vertical shelves! These shelves are narrow, so items like small pots or jars are the perfect items to display on there.

This pallet that I found has so much character, as it’s older and more run down. (which is the best!) The boards are no where near straight, they have more of a curve appeal to the wood, which I LOVE. It adds the simplest details and naturally stands out.

You seriously should have seen me working with this pallet! I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to create, so I just kept cutting away with my jigsaw until I came across this simple masterpiece! 🙂 Finally I turned one of my cut out pieces vertical and saw the end result! I didn’t have to screw anything else into this piece. I simply stained it and had my husband (because I’m terrible at drilling…) screw it into our wall. I decided to go ahead and display this piece outside, as it truly makes a statement when plants are added to it.

Side note-My work area is outside under our car port, which faces the front of the house. It’s always a sight to see me working out there and when people walk by I definitely sense them viewing in on what I’m up to…Hello, I’m the DIY gal in the neighborhood. HAHA! If you’re in the neighborhood stop by on Wednesdays/Thursdays as I’m usually creating things outside!

There are not many steps to this project. It requires cutting, staining, and screwing into the wall. I have to make this post short and sweet because currently Little Johnny is up and pretty much destroying the house, haha. He’s playing in the Tupperware cabinet right now, but who knows how long that will last! Might I add too that it’s 7:30am in the morning and this little guy woke up at 5:30am! WHAT is that about, huh?!  MOTHERHOOD…Anyways onto my DIY project!

Vertical Shelving Made From A Pallet 


 

I could see this displayed inside a home as well. You could also create more than one to add more to the look. Where could you see yourself hanging this?

Enjoy the 4th of July weekend!

Happy DIYing! 

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

Recipes

Fresh Balsamic Vinaigrette Topping for Sausages, Hot Dogs and More!

Weekends for the Florida Morehouse family tend to be more about “work” these days. With the opening of our small business (I’ll soon share more details about our new transformation) and the start of my at home job (VIP Kid), weekends have been a little less play and more work, which will all hopefully pay off in the long run.

While I don’t have any fun adventures to share with you (although we did end up going to a summer party), I thought I would share an easy dinner that I made on our Anniversary (which was on 6/22). This spread was so easy and perfect for a summer evening! It’s a fresh & classic take to vamp up your traditional sausage!

Recently I have been hooked on checking out all the Country Home, as well as Better Home and Gardens magazines from the library! I read this statement in there that stated:

In 1900, 98% of our meals were prepared and enjoyed at home. Today , that number has dropped to less than 50%. ”

Now, I realize we have more options of places to eat, and life is busier along with many changes, but I just find these numbers staggering!

-Side note-Did you know the library has many hardcover magazines to check out?! ‘m obsessed with going there every couple weeks to get new ones. Some are 10 years old, but style always tends to repeat itself, right?!… I love the inspiration it provides.

I’ll be honest, before we had Little Johnny Big John and I were all about eating out! We loved it, but we spent way too much money just on food alone (plus I wasn’t as healthy as I am now). I rarely cooked and never took chances in the kitchen to create my own meals. Now we took a big shift in our food department and are enjoying home cooked meals (grilling out counts too)! In a way I’m thankful that we had to cut back in our food expenses because it has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and explore my kitchen! 🙂 Also, making a point to sit down at the dinner table and enjoy our meal is something I am cherishing as a mom.  I’m adding a collection of recipes myself that I have either adapted from other recipes or thought of on my own. Plus I am learning all about the spices that compliment each other, definitely a learning process for me!

Here’s the back story behind this meal. It’s nothing extravagant, but it hits those taste buds just right. I needed to find something that was a lighter approach besides the traditional condiments to top off the yummy blue cheese filled sausages I found at Aldi! I’m a big fan of balsamic vinaigrette and I knew this topping would do the trick.

^^These are the sausages I found at Aldi and I grilled out! They’re very yummy!

Seriously, this is the simplest recipe ever! Even if you’re not as “hands on” in the kitchen, you can make this! 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of coleslaw mixing
  • 1/2 of a red onion, diced
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • a splash of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing

Directions:

  1. Chop all your ingredients and add them to a large bowl.
  2. Pour the balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, lemon juice, and salt into the bowl
  3. Mix well!

 

Pair this meal with grilled corn and a potatoes! Hello, taste buds! 😉

 

What’s your favorite toppings on a sausage?  Enjoy!

Wishing you well, 

~Amanda

DIY Home Decor, Dollar Store DIY

DIY Friday~ $3 Kitchen Cabinet Update (Requires No Paint)

When you live in an apartment there’s only so much you can do to update the style (especially when it’s outdated). I have been wanting to paint my kitchen cabinets for the longest time either an off white color with silver hardware, or a light grey color with gold hardware. Well, painting is out of the question, but I needed to do something to lighten up the dark cabinets! The key was to find something that wouldn’t damage them.

So are you wondering what I used and what’s the trick?! 

CONTACT PAPER 

Long story short, Little Johnny and I were at the Dollar Tree picking up contact paper for a craft project we did this past week (sun catchers! which by the way, you should definitely do this with your little one. Here’s the link.) Anyways, I noticed how many pretty patterns of contact paper there were, so I guess you can say it inspired me to somehow use it within me home. I bought only one just to try it out on my kitchen cabinets and I ended up loving the result! So, I went back and had to buy 2 more rolls in order to cover my top cabinets, (hence the $3). Seriously, I would have never guessed contact paper would do the trick for an easy update to my kitchen! This was an idea that just popped into my mind while at the store, but of course many others had the same idea after I did a quick google search. 😉 That just means it truly works! 🙂

“BEFORE”

P.S. Here’s my color scheme I’m trying to go with in the kitchen. I have a lot of red throughout, and I’m just not liking it anymore. I want light colors to brighten up the room. The yellow in the picture below is a bit too bright, so I may find more of a softer yellow to coordinate with.

Do me a favor and go get yourself some contact paper, there are so many beautiful patterns and a variety of places you can use it in your home for an easy update! Don’t just stop at kitchen cabinets (my husband may come home one day and find our whole house in contact paper…HAHA!)

{Steps}

  1. Make sure to wipe down the cabinets with soap and water
  2. Measure out the height and length of what you want to cover
  3. cut out the measured piece and peel back a small corner to start. The key is to do small sections at a time.
  4. the best tool to use is a credit card or some type of plastic card (I used my library card.) 🙂
  5. Take the card and use it to spread the paper down making sure to get any “bubbles” out. 
  6. Use the card to tuck in the edges and make a crisp clean straight edge. 

That’s it! So easy, but it’s something that makes a huge change to an outdated room! I love how it brightens up our kitchen (although I still want to paint the cabinets white!) haha. Also, keep in mind that if you live in a small place and rent, that doesn’t mean you can’t update the place and personalize with your own style…decorating isn’t just for homeowners. 😉 Any space can use a sprucing up!

“AFTER” 

Have you done any updates yet to your kitchen? What are some tips and tricks you have developed along the way?

Happy DIY Friday! 

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

Family Adventures, Indoor Adventures, Reviews of Products & Places

We’re Splishin’ and Splashin’ at Goldfish Swim School (Our 1st Swim Lesson Experience)

Well, we survived our first swim lesson! As a parent you hear stories where children have such a bad experience, but this was completely the opposite at Goldfish Swim School! We left with smiles and had such an enjoyable visit! Most of all, Little Johnny was comfortable in the water!        {This post is sponsored. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.}

The moment we walked in, we were immediately greeted by employees with a fabulous welcome! As we checked in we received a welcome bag, and a personal tour of the building. As a parent I always look for the small touches and amenities that any business offers (especially the changing room), which helps to create a friendly and welcoming environment for me. Not only does Goldfish Swim School offer an oasis environment, but they provide personal touches such as extra diapers and wipes if needed, and many changing rooms.  They also have open showers with baby soap readily available and a drying station for your swimsuits so you’re not leaving with soaking wet suits! Did I mention it’s a “shiver free” environment?  It’s quite honestly the ultimate experience for a swim school!

Our 1st Swim Lesson Experience


Now, let’s get into the details of the actual lesson…

As Little Johnny and I walked inside of the pool area we were greeted by two swim instructors already in the pool with an Elmo and Goldfish puppet (what child doesn’t like puppets, AND Elmo! Such a smart idea on their end!) This was a wonderful way to get warmed up and comfortable with the water! Little Johnny and I stepped into the pool with big smiles! Usually when you step into the water it takes a while to get use to it, and quite honestly that’s the worst part for little ones (and me!), but NOT at Goldfish Swim School! They offer a “shiver free” environment, even when you step out of the water! As a parent I’m very thankful for this amenity because it’s one less thing I have to worry about with my little one shivering or refusing to get in the water because it’s “cold”. I had no problem with Little Johnny wanting to get into the water.

Little Johnny and I participated in the mini 2 session (you can click here to check out the pricing and details). We were in a group setting and the instructors had smiles on the whole time, they were also so calm and engaging with the children. Here’s the best part throughout the whole lesson…Are you ready?! Each learned swim skill was taught to the tune of a familiar children’s song! We started with a hello/welcome song and throughout the lesson other songs were introduced. Think about when your child hears a familiar tune, they usually get excited or feel more “at ease” in an unfamiliar environment! This is a genius idea and it also helped me as a parent to understand the skills taught and to hopefully remember them. Researchers do say learning with songs incorporates a more suitable learning environment! At one point in the lesson we were singing “twinkle twinkle little star” when we were practicing the back float and a little girl was just singing her heart out to the familiar tune! It was too cute!

Highlights from the lesson:


  • songs and puppets were incorporated
  • safety swim skills were taught in a fun environment
  • shiver free environment
  • with support we learned to kick and stroke with our arms (Little Johnny was doing the two scooper! haha)
  • with support we learned to back float
  • we learned how to hold onto the edge and get out of the water
  • we learned to walk on a floating device and jump off into the parents arms (Little Johnny’s favorite!)

This was just our first lesson and I would have been happy just to see Little Johnny getting into the pool, but honestly he was able to get so much out of his first lesson because the environment was set up to ease children into it! I can definitely see Little Johnny developing a life-long love of swimming with the help of Goldfish Swim School

Here’s a picture of Little Johnny in the pool. Now, let me just say the sad look on his face had nothing to do with the actual experience! He was upset with me because I stepped out of the pool to take a picture (currently going through separation anxiety I believe, all part of parenting right!?) Next time I’ll try to bring someone else along to take pictures of Little Johnny actually participating so you can get the whole experience! We loved our swim instructors!

 

Keeping Parents Educated!


 As we were packing up to leave an instructor came around to give us a handout to take home that states the end goals of the sessions for both the parents and little ones. I love this feature! It’s so important for parents to stay educated and know how we can incorporate the skills learned at home! It also helped me to understand the layout of the sessions and what Little Johnny needs to accomplish in order to move onto the next swim level.

 

My biggest take away from our first swim lesson was “preparing your child to go underwater”. It’s a very simple technique and is highly encouraged anytime little ones come into contact with water. It’s simply conditioning your child to go underwater. I’ll be practicing this at home during bath time with Little Johnny since we don’t have a pool.

Here’s what I learned…

Before you pour a cup of water over you child’s head use the verbal cue: “NAME, Ready, Go.” For example with my little one I would say… Johnny, ready, go! This helps to hopefully prevent them from gulping water (it’s going to take lots of practice for Little Johnny though, he’s a gulper!)

In this video below another family shares how much they’re loving Goldfish Swim School too!

What’s all the “hype” about little ones taking swim lessons at a young age? 


I’m specifically going to target this questions towards living in Florida, but quite honestly this refers to anywhere! We live in a state where “water” is easily accessible all year long. When starting at a young age with learning to enjoy water and develop proper safety skills, it reduces the chances of developing “a fear of water”. When children are comfortable with water, then they are prepared to prevent the unimaginable..drowning. We all know water is everywhere, so teaching children how to be safe in water lowers the risk of accidents. Plus, the goal isn’t for children to grow up “fearing” water, but to enjoy the fun activities it presents and learn how to be safe in it.

>>5 Reasons Why Your Child Should Learn to Swim Now <<

We enjoyed our experience so much at Goldfish Swim School and can’t wait to continue throughout the next few months. I’m excited to take you on this journey and share with you how much Little Johnny is learning!

Visit my previous post where I share more details about what Goldfish Swim School offers.

>>Splish, Splash Goldfish Swim School is Opening in Florida<<

And of course, make sure to visit their social media accounts and show some love by following them for updates! 🙂

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One more thing…did I mention these swim lessons definitely promote sleep for your little one?! 😉

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

Family Adventures, Indoor Adventures

Because it Rains in Florida too! 10 Rainy Day “At Home” Activities for Little Ones

I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day! We ended up going to the beach in the late afternoon for only about an hour before the storm came in. We finished our day with delicious cheeseburgers that Big John grilled out! They were seriously the tastiest cheeseburgers we have made at home! Recently I shared a video to my facebook page where Gordon Ramsay takes you through the steps of grilling the perfect hamburger! I seriously suggest that you try this one day, you won’t regret it!

And of course dessert was a must, so I thought root beer floats would be a delicious way to end the day! (which, it was!)

Now, let’s talk about this rain in Orlando, shall we?! I know we needed it since we were in a huge drought! But man, it can stop anytime now. As Floridians, we need our sunshine and beautiful weather (hence, a huge reason why we moved down here!) These past few weeks Little Johnny and I have done a lot more indoor activities at home because it’s been just too wet to get out and go anywhere. I decided to put together a list of 10 activities to do inside (and at home) with your little one. These are easy ones and you can save this to pull out when you’re needing something quick to refer to! (Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!) 🙂

  1. pull out the play dough (or make your own) add sticks or straws  Little Johnny loved this and so far we have done it twice! We use the sticks to build things or just poke holes through the play dough. 
  2. have a picnic in the living room and watch their favorite movie! Thanks to momexploresorlando for the idea! Make sure to check her page for fun activities around Orlando that she explores!
  3. If it’s not thundering and lightening outside, put on your rain boots and grab an umbrella to go and splash in the puddles. Little Johnny now has an obsession with umbrellas! Due to being in such a drought, we haven’t used one in a long time until just recently. The moment I opened the umbrella he thought it was hilarious and wanted to play with it…why not, right?!
  4. Go on “virtual field trips” with the help of YouTube! So far Little Johnny and I have been to an aquarium and the zoo! 😉
  5. Build a fort and read books! This was a fun one and kind of a “spare of the moment” activity for us. I was in the middle of making our bed and Little Johnny kept pulling off the sheets, so I decided to build a fort and we got under and read his library books. We even put pillows under there. It was fun and so much laughter was heard throughout the house!
  6. Go on a color hunt in the house! Get different colored construction paper and lay it on the floor. Grab a bucket and have your little one go through the house finding items of that color and place them on the construction paper with the corresponding color. We haven’t done this one yet, but it sounds fun (plus educational!) Here’s the source where I found the idea! 
  7. Get a large butcher paper or brown wrapping paper and roll it out on the floor to paint or color on! 
  8. Blow up balloons and have your little one practice their cordination with keeping it off the ground. You can even create a paddle using paper plates and a spoon to use for hitting the ball. They can decorate it too! (Source )
  9. Make face magnets from old magazines! This sounds so much fun and I love upcycling things! Can’t wait to try this with Little Johnny. If you want to extend the activity you can even go on a hunt for shapes and cut them out!   Click here for the link. 
  10. And of course there is always paint! If you don’t want to have a mess, then bring it into the bathtub. Put on some fun music and have your little one paint away!

BONUS:

Paint rocks and write a message or prayer on it to mail out to someone. That will definitely bring sunshine to someone’s day!

 

Do you have any fun rainy day activities to add to the list?

Wishing you well,

~Amanda