Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Flour, Sugar, Coffee....OH MY!

How many times have you attempted to bake something, get all of the ingredients out of the cupboard, then open your bag of flour to find that there's less than a cup of flour left!!!  If that hasn't happened to you, well, you're obviously way more on top of things than I am.  The above scenario has happened to me with coffee, sugar, and many other things.  It was becoming a problem.....especially in the mornings when I needed coffee to even crack a smile.

Okay, so here was my wonderful and gorgeous $10 solution to the problem, and honestly it's made my life easier.

I found plastic containers with lids at the dollar store that were 2/$1.00 and hit the jackpot with snatching chalkboard labels in the Target dollar bins for 50% off.  Next, I decided which dry ingredients I use frequently and/or are just plain important not to run out of.  So......here's what I'm working with now!!

Isn't it pretty?!  I love it and it's so functional.  Not only can I easily see if I'm running low on something, it's also wonderful because the openings are so wide that I don't have to be super careful when scooping flour and powdered sugar.

Meet Elise!

Hi, there!  I'm Elise and welcome to our insanely imperfect world.
I'm the lucky mama of the three handsome boys you see pictured above.  We'll affectionately call them Alvin, 5, Simon, 8 1/2, and Theodore, almost 3.  Hubby and I have been married 10 (bumpy)years this June.  I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education, but have been a SAHM mom since bringing Simon home.
We hope you find some comfort in our craziness, penny pinching tactics, and DIH successes and flops.  We look forward to sharing it all with you, both the good and the bad, and hearing your tales, as well!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meet Emily

Hello, I'm Emily and I love you for visiting our blog!  There's not much to say about myself besides I've been married for five years to my husband, have two little boys, Peter Pan and Captain Hook, and a little girl on the way.  Just so you know....I'm pregnant in the above picture, so don't judge me.  :)  I am a TOTAL SLOB at heart, but noticed it was affecting my marriage, sanity, and bank account.  That's when I decided to get organized.  You'll notice on our site that everything seems pretty easy and kind of like "duh", but all of the organizing tips I post have truthfully helped my household.  Enjoy and keep coming back. 

Cheeseburger Macaroni

This recipe is addictive and can definitely feed a family of five for $10.  It started as a Rachel Ray recipe and was passed to me through my sister, but between our adjustments, it's now our recipe.  Okay, so I'm going to give you the recipe to feed your family at dinner AND your husband or kids the next day.  Here we go.


2 lbs. elbow macaroni
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (80/20 blend will give you the most flavor)
4 stalks of celery
2 small onions (or more....I normally use one large onion)
4 handfuls of baby carrots OR 4 large carrots
Few tablespoons of olive oil
2 packets of Goya's Sazon
1 cup of yellow mustard (I normally use 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups of ketchup
3-4 cups of beef broth
2 cups of cheddar cheese (or MUCH more!)

Cooking Instructions:

1.  Cook your pasta per instructions on box.  Don't forget to add salt to the water!

2.  Finely chop the celery, carrots, and onions.  Using a food processor for this will make your life much easier.


3.  Heat a pan with olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add the chopped ingredients, ground beef, and Sazon packets.  Stir so the seasoning starts flavoring everything.

4.  Once the beef is browned, add the ketchup, mustard, and three cups of beef broth.  Turn heat to medium and let cook for a few minutes.  You want the mixture to thicken up, but if you feel it's too thick, go ahead and add the extra cup of beef broth.

5.  Drain pasta and add it to the beef mixture.  Mix together well so every single piece of pasta is coated.

6.  Grease a baking dish and add this delicious pasta.  Then, top with all of the cheddar cheese your little heart desires.  Put it under the broiler until the cheese is golden and bubbly.


7.  Unbutton your jeans and dig in!


Super Simple Straw Holder

As I go through each room of my home, I'm trying to determine which areas of that particular room need some adjustments to run more smoothly.  Straws are the last thing you'd think would annoy someone, right?  Well, our straw situation was becoming a situation.  I keep the straws in the sippy cup/big boy cup cupboard and every time I'd open the cabinet to add a cup, straws would fall out or all over the inside of the cupboard.  So, I'm like "hmmmm....get thinking, girly". 

I looked around my kitchen and found a breadcrumb container that was pretty much empty, so I cleaned it out and added my straws. 

"This is going to be perfect", I thought.  And it was, but it was ugly.  Nothing a glue gun and some cute scrapbook paper can't handle.

There you have it....my solution to a big straw mess. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Laundry Room Tidy-Up

So, in keeping true to my word I'm slowly, but surely organizing our house.  This project all began when our ancient washer and dryer conked out (*Sigh*).  Just the thought of the delivery men in my laundry room left a pit in my stomach.  It didn't take long, just an hour or so, and the results have me breathing much easier.

As embarrassed as I am to show you, here is the "Before"...


I know, it's pretty bad!
Fast forward and hour, with the help of some bins and a little weeding through the madness, the outcome is well worth it.  Here is the much more organized "After."


I did it!!!  And guess what...it's still clean!!!



Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to Create a Wall of Pictures

See this?  Looks like a whole bunch of nothing, right?  My point exactly!  This happens to be my super boring dining room wall.  I knew it needed sprucing, but it was much easier to ignore it rather than face it.

One night while my husband was working late, the house was neat and tidy, and all the boys were asleep in their beds, I could ignore it no longer.  It was 9:30 at night so buying anything new wasn't an option, so I went on a scavenger hunt to see what I could find.  I grabbed any wall hanging or pictures that I wasn't currently using, laid them out on the dining room table, and got to work.  I'm even embarrassed enough to admit that I used a meat tenderizer because I wasn't interested in sifting through my husband's work bench to find the hammer (this happens all too often).

Here's the results of my late-night re-do...
How To:

I began by laying the wall hangings on the table so I could easily move things around until I found a lay-out that would look best.  I found some old pictures  and frames.  I used both burlap and wrapping paper as a matte. The mirror was the focal point so I placed it in the middle and I worked my way outward.  It took a couple of tries until it felt balanced.  Even after placing everything up on the wall I still switched things around.

I'm really pleased with how the wall looks and the space it fills.  Also, it will be really simple to add more or switch out the frames to change up the look.
Here's another wall I did recently.  This wall is in the seating area of our bedroom.  Again, I purchased nothing new.  All I did was take pictures and frames from storage or elsewhere in the house.  I mapped out the best layout by placing the frames in different positions on the floor and then got to work.
Not too bad for late-night projects ;)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wrapping Paper Projects (yes, wrapping paper!!!)

If you're anything like me, you absolutely cannot resist the dollar items in the front of Target.  My boys know the routine...let Mommy take a peek at the bargains, grab some popcorn, and then get down to shopping.

While perusing the aisles I happened upon this fantastic roll of wrapping paper.  At the time, I was unsure of what I was going to do with it, but it was a buck and I couldn't pass it up!  Worse come to worse it would make some awesome gift wrap, but don't fret, it didn't go to waste...

Below are three simple projects I came up with to use the wrapping paper throughout my house.
My first project was as simple as it gets.  I used the wrapping paper as a matte in a picture frame.  All I needed to do was cut it to size and glue the picture to the paper.  LOVE it on our mantle!  

Project #2 was a bit more difficult.  It all started with a realllllly inexpensive little black table (like, cheap as in $35.00).  While the table is asthetically pleasing, the quality is pretty junky, but it was serving its purpose...hold a drink while watching TV and a bit of storage space. 

Step #1: Cut the paper to the size of the space you're covering...make sure to have super straight edges.

Step #2: Glue the paper down.  I used lamination glue, but other kinds would work just fine.  Make sure to apply a generous helping.  Do your best to remove any wrinkles or bubbles (I used an old credit card for that part).

Step #3: Once dry, I applied gloss gel medium (the brand was Liquitex Basics from Hobby Lobby) using the same technique.  This added a slight shine and made the surface water resistant. 


Project # 3 all started with some coffee cans given to me by my sister.  I couldn't resist the challenge to turn them into something useful.  We can always use storage bins to help contain the clutter so, it might as well look cute.  To transform these coffee cans I used the same lamination glue and gloss gel medium as I did for the end table.  Now, our pantry is looking far more stylish!

Wasn't that a dollar well spent???  I even have enough left over to make a matte for another picture frame and actually use some as it was intended and wrap a gift.

Shoe Tying Trick


Here's an adorable little shoe tying poem I found in my travels.  I'm hoping it helps teach #2 how to tie his own shoes, as it is no longer flip flop season in PA :(

It was extremely easy to make and only required a piece of cardboard, a marker, ribbon or shoe lace, and something sharp to poke the holes (I used a skewer).

First, I traced #2's shoe onto the cardboard and then wrote the poem.  Next, I poked the holes into the cardboard.  I used three on each side and then laced through the ribbon.  I decided to use two different colors of ribbon to help #2 differentiate between the left and the right.

Now, we haven't had shoe tying success yet, but this has proved to be a fun little tool that he's having fun with and at least getting some practice.  We'll get there!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall Decor on the Cheap

I love, love, love everything about this time of year.  From the smells to the activities to the décor, this girl is a huge fan!

Here are two of my favorite and totally inexpensive (of course) decorations that take our home from summertime cheer to fantastic fall:

Although I enjoy how corn stalks look, let's face it, getting them from point A to point B with 3 kids in the car is a challenge I'm not up for.  My solution...twigs!  This project couldn't be any less expensive or easy to tackle.  Plus, I disguise the hunt for twigs as a nature walk and even the kiddies are happy. 

Here's how to achieve the look:

1.) Take a spin around your yard and grab some twigs that are about three feet in length or longer.  I prefer the ones with twists and turns and lots of off-shoots for added interest.  While their natural color looks great with fall décor, I chose to spray this batch gold and black. 

2.) When the spray paint is dry bunch the twigs together using a zip tie.

3.) Attach the twigs to your exterior columns using your favorite fall or Halloween ribbon.  Mine happens to be from the Dollar Tree (of course!!!).

Here's my fall dining room décor.  While I already had the two decorative candlestick holders and fleur de lis, I made the clear glass cylinders for some added fall flare.  They were super simple to make and, best of all, the components all came from my local Dollar Tree.

All you'll need to get started is a glass candlestick holder, glass glue, and a vase.  Simply flip over the candlestick holder, apply a generous amount of glass glue, and attach the vase to the candlestick holder.  I placed a heavy book on the top of the vase to ensure the glue would bond and allowed it to dry for at least 24 hours.  Once completely dry, I filled them with fall potpourri, pumpkins, and leaves and placed them amongst the other candlestick holders.

This project was a definite A+ because for just $2.00 a piece I have an adorable decoration for every season/holiday.  Just imagine how great they'll look with miniature Christmas balls, conversation hearts, or Easter eggs!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stuffed Peppers


1-lb. ground turkey/beef

1 package Mexican rice or yellow rice

1 packet of taco seasoning

1 pouch of Cheddar cheese

Large peppers (1-lb. beef fills about 4 peppers)

This happens to be super yummy and healthy stuffed peppers in the making.  Lately the entire crew has been enjoying Mexican food so it's my "go to" list at least once a week.  The boys LOVE peppers so I decided to give this recipe a whirl.

My recipes tend to vary as I use whatever ingredients are in the refrigerator and pantry, but here's the jist of it.  Feel free to adjust to your liking.

1.) Turn oven to 350*

2.) Cook rice as directed

3.) Brown turkey/beef

4.) While the meat is browning and the rice is cooking wash, cut, and "gut" the peppers

5.) Steam the peppers until they soften

6.) Add taco seasoning to the turkey or beef

7.) Combine the ground beef/turkey with the rice

8.) Fill each pepper with the rice and beef/turkey mixture about half way and sprinkle with a bit a cheese on top. Fill the remainder of the pepper and cover with cheese.

9.) Bake the peppers until the cheese begins to bubble.

;)  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Pecan Cake

If you hate to bake like me, but want to feel like you're putting in all of the effort in the kitchen that The Pioneer Woman seems to, you HAVE to try this recipe.   Make sure to read it to the end before jumping in.  I say that from experience.  The first time I made this, I read one cup of butter, however, my brain processed it as one stick.  So….I was one stick short and it tasted that way.  ;)   The second time I made the recipe, I wasn’t paying attention and prepared the cake mix according to the instructions on the cake box.  Bad choice…..I’ll leave it at that.

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree’
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 box yellow cake mix
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 cup of melted butter 

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Spray 9”x13” cake pan with non-stick spray.

Mix together the following ingredients:  pumpkin puree’, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Pour this mixture into the bottom of the greased pan.

Next sprinkle DRY CAKE MIX over the pumpkin mixture.

Sprinkle pecans over the delicious creation. 

Finally, drizzle melted butter over pecans.

Bake for 50-55 minutes.

You’re going to want to dig into this baby the second it comes out of the oven, but firstly, it’ll be HOT (not like the way Miley Cyrus is desperately attempting to be, but hot like “Oh my gosh, I need water….NOW”).  Secondly, it is so much better about 30 minutes after resting from the oven.  Enjoy it!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cleanin' it Old School

So, this mama has been making her own household cleaners for about the last two years.  So far, I've made everything from detergent to hardwood floor cleaner.  I am hugely impressed with how well the old school cleaners work.  Why did we every stray away from the old stand-bys like Borax, vinegar, and peroxide???

In the process mixing my magical potions I've saved loads of money, got our laundry and home cleaner than ever, and kept those nasty and unnecessary chemicals out of our home.  It's cheaper and safer...a no-brainer!

Let me share two of my absolute favorites with you, but before we get started here's what you'll need:

2 Spray bottles (I scored mine at the Dollar Tree)
White Vinegar
Dawn soap (or whatever dish soap is your favorite)

DIH All Purpose Cleaner (Windows, too):

1/4 c. White Vinegar
1 c. water (I prefer warm water to help blend the soap)
2 tsp./squirts of soap

Blend these three simple ingredients in a spray bottle and clean everything from your windows to your counter tops.  It works like a dream!

DIH Anti-bacterial Cleaner:

3/4 c.  Peroxide (in the brown bottle)
1/2 c. water (I prefer warm water to blend the soap)
2 tsp./squirts of soap

Again, blend these three ingredients in a spray bottle, add a cute label and get to work.  I love to use it on door knobs, the counters after working with raw meat, and the bathroom (from floor to ceiling).  Basically, anywhere there could be creepy, crawly germs...and with three boys they are everywhere!

Hint, hint...the peroxide cleaner also works great cleaning carpet stains.  Our carpets are cream colored and it cleans tough spots with ease.  As with any cleaner, test a small area first.

;) Happy Cleaning

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Much Needed Front Door Fix-Me-Up

The boys and I have spent countless hours in the front yard this summer. While gazing at the house I quickly realized the front of the house was looking a bit blah and ordinary.  We've done our fair share of landscaping since moving in three years ago and I'm content on the state of the yard (at least for now, anyways).  We also added two black rocking chairs to the front porch, but still it needed more.  So, one fine afternoon while the boys were wreaking havoc frolicking in the yard I decided it was high time for a front door fix-me-up.

Step 1:

Luckily, we'd changed out the hardware last year when we found an oil rubbed bronze lock set on clearance at Home Depot (girlfriend can't resist a bargain!!!).  The kick plate was looking tired and worn, so that would be my first area to tackle.  I carefully taped around the edges and tucked a drop cloth under the door and began spraying.  I had just enough Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint left over from our ceiling fan re-do to complete the job.  Now it looks fresh and new without the hassle or cost of replacing.

Step 2:

This door was in desperate need of some COLOR!  My fav color just happens to be purple...so, purple it is!  Now, I knew I wasn't able to go with a true purple.  I'd quickly become the talk of the neighborhood.  So, my thoughts were to go with a dustier version.  Unfortunately, I'd come back from Home Depot with a failed attempt at dusty purple.  I waste nothing so I quickly referred to my stash of house paint and began mixing like a mad scientist until I had concocted the perfect color for our front door. 

Some taping and a couple of coats of "Perfect Purple" later and...Ta-Da!

This was a super quick project and it proved to be exactly what the house needed.  It freshened it up and added just the necessary pop of color to the front of the house.

A tutorial will follow to show you how to make that adorable and inexpensive coffee filter wreath you see pictured above.

;) Ta-Ta