Pinterest Challenge

Food. Fashion. Home.

When presented with a challenge, I usually step up to the challenge.  And, isn’t Pinterest the mecca for all things you want to do, but don’t ever end up doing?  For some that is the case and others, not so much. 

I am proud to say that most of the items I have pinned in my projects board on Pinterest have either been done, started, or are just about to begin.

Here are some of my favorite pinned projects that I have done over the last few months.

This has been the number one hit on the blog.  It is cheap, quick, and really works.  There are many other uses for coconut oil from lotions, to face scrubs.  The list goes on. 

Terrariums are huge right now and they all are so diverse.  I originally pinned my idea from Making It Lovely . My setting was a bit different, but overall a terrarium is a living decoration for the home. 

This was all over Pinterest and I jumped right on the bandwagon.  The clear vase was purchased at my favorite store, TJ Maxx for under $5 and the beads came from my local craft store.   Now I can access the brushes and they are pretty to look at too.

There were many methods to get your brushes clean, but I stuck with gentil soap and olive oil for the deep clean.   I originally pinned the idea from The Beauty Book.  Witch Hazel has always been my pick for the daily clean.  If you can get past its "wonderful" smell, you will notice how much cleaner your brushes are on the regular.

5. Regrowing Green Onions

This was pinned from Baked by Rachel and was a great idea.  I  used the green onions to replace the fading paper whites in my kitchen.  There is also the added benefit beside using this as a décor piece,  just snip off some onions to use in your next meal.  I did it the other day and giggled.

I saw so many ideas for scar organization, but I really believe it depends on the space you have and how many scarves you're working with.   Some inspiration came from Be Different, Act Normal, but I ended up using my own method mainly because my collection of scarves was too large and needed a larger home. 

7. Earring Organizer

Unfortunately I can't give credit to anyone on Pinterest becasue my pinned idea doesn't lead to a website.  There is an almost exact copy from Live in Imagination, but not where I originally got the idea. I made a few of these for my girlfriends and bought earrings as their Christmas gifts. I am still religiously using this holder in my closet.  It really allows me to see what I have to choose from so I don’t get stuck in a rut wearing the same pair all the time.

Since doing this idea, I have seen numerous others post their own personal necklace organization ideas.  I originally pinned the idea from Be Different, Act Normal. Again, it is all about the amount of necklaces and the space you have.  The rod with hooks has been a huge hit, but all have their own twists.  It makes me sad thinking one day I will eventually be moving and may need to leave my system.  I hope the new homeowner would use and appreciate it as much as I do.

9. State Love

I love this idea and wish I could give props to the person who originally pinned it.  When clicking on the link, all you get is a link to printing up the maps from a .gov site.   It was an easy project and a thoughtful one for a couple who has lived in many places.

10. Under Sink Organization

So there were a lot of places that I got inspiration from for my under sink organization.  The size did matter (LOL) of both my under sink areas in the guest bath under sink organization and the kitchen under sink organization.  I got the idea for the stress rod from Minding My Nest.  It hasn’t fallen down once and still has to be the best space saver.

The idea for the curling iron holders came from curbly.com and it totally rocks.  Our master bathroom remodel is almost done and I can’t wait to put some of those PVC pipe wonders up.

As you can see, PINTEREST = CRACK!  For someone who always has ideas running through her head for projects, it can be overwhelming, but totally inspirational.   I can’t wait until the day when Jeff and I have a new home and I can put some of my other ideas into play.  For right now I will continue to pin and dream.

Follow me on Pinterest.

<3 mk


Cleaning Makeup Brushes Pro Style


I am not a professional makeup artist, but I wish I was.  The ability of professional make up artists is amazing. Their ability to change the whole perception of your face with a few brush strokes is a skillful craft.  Their main tool, the makeup brush, needs to be maintained after each use.  As a novice, I also try to do the same. 

Make up brushes are expensive and there are so many of them out there.  Buying them one at a time seems to be the easiest way to not break the bank.  Once you have spent your money on a good quality brush, why not maintain them properly?

I don’t have the best skin, so I really try to keep my brushes clean.  Who knows what can get on them being in the bathroom? Yuck! Here is a method that works for me and my brushes seem happy as well.

 In your hand put a small drop of soap and a drop of olive oil.

One brush at a time, rub them in the cleanser/ olive oil combination until there is a small lather.

 Rise under warm water and squeeze out the excess soap/oil from each brush.

After all the soap has been removed, squeeze the excess water and lay the brush on a clean, dry towel.

 Take each brush and wipe out the extra water on the towel. Make sure you use a towel that is old.  The olive oil will stain the fabric.  The oil allows the brush to keep in some moisture and it wont be so brittle as time goes on. 

Allow enough time to dry fully before your next use.

I use a brush cleaner purchased from Target, but you can use Dove Antibacterial soap, or any gentle soap.

In between deep cleanings I try to keep my brushes clean with a spritz of Witch Hazel and a quick wipe with a clean towel, but the products tend to build up over time. They need a good cleaning every other week. Try the deep cleaning method above, I promise, you will notice a difference.

 Ewww, look what came off the brush.  Happy cleaning!

<3 mk


Crispy Garlic and Ranch Chickpeas



Do you want to make something yummy, healthy, and quick?  Try these guys.  They are super tasty and really quick to make.  If you have chickpeas in your pantry these can be made as a quick snack.

This recipe can be made with any spice of your liking.  Garlic salt is a great choice, but if you want them with a bite, then put in some chili powder.  Curry powder sounds delicious as well.

Garlic Salt and Parsley
Crispy Garlic Chick Peas

1 can drained chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tsp spoon of garlic salt or seasoning of choice

Drain the chickpeas and rinse with water.  Let sit in the colander until mostly dry.  In a frying pan put in the oil to coat the bottom and warm slightly.  Caution, olive oil burns easily.  Add the dried chickpeas and move them around the pan until coated in olive oil.  Cook the chickpeas until they turn a light golden color; constantly moving the pan around. Right before you remove them, add your spices of choice (garlic salt, chili powder,  ranch powder, curry) and toss lightly to coat each piece.

Eat warm or cold, both ways are delicious.  Just watch out, they will be gone before you know it.

<3 mk


Green Onion Rejuvenation


Do your flowers smell like onions? Yup, that’s because they are onions.  I pinned this idea a few weeks back and didn’t think I would actually do it until I had a meal that required these.

I bought the green onions to use on a Mexican inspired dish.  The onions had an inch left of the root and the white part.  All I did was keep them connected with a rubber band and stuck them in a clear drinking glass with some water next to the window in the kitchen. 

A few days later I realized they actually had grown to the point that they were inching over the top of the glass.

My current window plants were past their expiration date so I decided to make a switch.  Originally the intention was to put in tulips for the spring, but there was no luck in Home Depot the day we went to get them. 

For now, I will keep these useful plants in the kitchen growing and for use. Cutting the top off for use leaves them not so pretty and probably diminishes the chance of a flower blooming, but it makes for a great perpetual green onion machine.

They grow really quickly and do well with sunlight.  There isn't much to do with them besides putting them in a drinking glass for the roots to grow a bit and transferring them to the decorative glass planter with actual river rocks.  Water and watch them grow.

During the cold winter months, there is nothing better than seeing new green plants growing.  Not only do I have my outdoor green house, but now I have edible green onions in the kitchen.  Spring can’t come soon enough, but I am somewhat content for now.

Follow me on Pinterest.

<3 mk


Personalized Child’s Step Stool


Traditions are important to a family.  Things that are given to a child when they are young can be given or passed down to ones own children. Part of a tradition that I have started with my sister’s children is to personalize their own step stool.

For a child a step stool is more important than you know.  As adults we forget that we can see ourselves in the mirror standing up.  We forget the importance of making funny faces and sticking our tongue out when brushing our teeth. 

My husband still has his step stool that his maternal grandfather made for him.  It was crafted by hand and still is able to do its job over thirty years later - his younger (and shorter) sister had used it last.  Knowing that it has held up and our own children will be using this makes my heart happy.

I didn’t craft this wooden stool myself, it was purchased at a craft store.  However, I put the time and effort into sanding, painting, and decorating.  Oh and don’t forget, transporting up north to NY.  Each of my nephews, niece, and now my youngest niece will get hers.  It is always nice to see all the stools lined up in the bathroom, in used condition.  My sister’s oldest is now in third grade and he is so tall that it wouldn’t be required anymore, but it is nice knowing that it helped him out for so many years.

Before you paint or spray paint the stool make sure you sand it down and clean the excess debris off.  It requires a few coats of spray paint and then a final clear coat of gloss.  The top was painted with an off white spray paint. After taping the top with painters tape, I used the same adhesive stick on letters that were used in my personalized subway sign.  They came off really easily after spraying with the white. They are outlined with a silver paint marker. The clear gloss was the last step in the painting process before the decorations. 

My oldest niece was the first girl in the family so when I made her step stool few years ago it was done "princess style".  She is a little princess so it was very fitting. Glitter spray, tiaras, and lots of bling were the style.  For my younger niece's stool it was done with more of the cutesy nature directions.  All of the buggies came painted from Michael’s and I couldn't resist when I saw them.  They were attached to the sides and top using wood glue.   The outline of the white is actually a self-adhesive fabric border and fabric buttons that I found at Joanne Fabrics. A hot glue gun was used to make sure the buttons stayed on. 

No matter how you decorate it, the step stool will be special because it will be there to help them when you aren’t.  Being so far away from my family it makes me wish I could be there to help out more, but I guess I am in a way!  

<3 mk


Poang Chair Rejuvination


I have hacked IKEA again, this time the Poang chair.

I believe everyone owns at least one item of furniture from IKEA. In 2005, I bought my first real furniture purchase and it was from everyone's favorite Swedish super store.  I was 23, just out of college and started my first teaching job.  I was now bringing in a "lavish" teaching salary and wanted my bedroom to have a chair.  As everyone knows, a chair in a bedroom means that you have made it so, with my copious amounts of disposable income, I purchased the Poang Chair.  You might not know the name, but you know at least one person with this chiar in their home.

Ok, so its not such a unique heirloom of a chair, but it was awesome at the time. 

Fast forward to today and add a few digits to my age.   The chair ain't looking so hot in my actual adult living room.  It so much isn’t the wood, but more of the cushion. I bought the base model with the beige.  I had recovered the cushion with a microfiber suede fabric a few years back, but my sewing skills were not up to par with my mothers and it outlived its welcome in the living room.  The chair needed help and I knew what to do.

The base model of the Poang has a basic cushion, but it has an older, better looking and more refined brother, the Webbing Back Poang.  This chair is very similar to the base with the same frame, but with a more modern style.  I already owned the frame and was ready to make a similar and arguably more stylish version. 

  • Poang chair frame
  • ~10 feet of 2” inch nylon strap?
  • Heavy duty staples and gun
  • Lighter
  • Ruler
  • Cutting mat
  • Rotary cutter
To be honest, I don’t remember how much exactly I bought of the nylon strap.  I know I had to go back to Joanne to get more and ended up with just the right amount.  If you do some calculations, you probably can figure it out.  Either way, keep your receipt!  You can always overbuy and return in a pinch.

The cutting mat combined with the rotary cutter and ruler was a huge help.  I am constantly doing little projects, so this was a worth while investment.  If you aren’t doing crafts or projects often, then just use scissors and a regular measuring tool.

The chair has an existing support fabric that held the cushion in place on the chair.  You will need to take that off the chair in order to put the weaved stap on.  It comes off fairly obviously and easily.

Measure the width of the chair prior to cutting the nylon straps.  It is much better to measure more than less because there will be trimming at the end. 

Note, the weaving won't allow you to go all the way down the chair because of the layout of the frame, but it still will support the weight of an adult if you do it similar to the picture. 

You will need to take apart the back of the chair starting from the bottom when attaching the lower back support.   It is not difficult.  You need to use the "IKEA tool", AKA an allen wrench.  Speed things up with a ratcheting allen bit or allen driver.  On a side note, our kitchen remodel was heavily sourced with IKEA cabinets.  On the front page of the multi-page kitchen instruction manual was a large picture of a dual sided allen wrench.  Thanks, IKEA, we love you too.  We opted for a power drill with an allen bit, not your tiny pocket sized wrench.

Weave the straps together first and then lay them out on the chair.  Make sure you measure to make sure what you have weaved will fit the space.  If the back will be exposed, the straps can be brought further into the inside portion of the chair support.  In our case, the back of the chair will not be seen, so it allowed for slightly less precise work.

Strap by strap, continue to staple one side of the nylon strap to the back of the frame.  Pulling as tightly as you can, staple the other side.  I used my husbands muscles to pull them really taught before I stapled. Repeat the process until you have weaved across the top, bottom and the seat.  Finally, trim the excess straps close to the staples and then burn/singe the edges with the lighter to prevent fraying 

It doesn’t look as polished from the back, but it is a huge improvement from what it was originally, and  it is just as comfortable, if not more.   The cost is about $20 versus driving to IKEA (a long drive for me) and spending another $99 bucks on a new chair. 

<3 mk


Traveling Fashionably Light


Tips for Packing Your Carryon Luggage for a Long Getaway and Still Being Fashionable

Everyone wants to be fashionable when they go away on a trip, but who wants to pay the money or drag around a large bag?  Lets face it, if you are flying, most of the time you are paying for your bag.  And if you aren’t paying for your bag, do you really want to wait for the bag to get to the turn style or even at all?

Summer 2009

Summer 2012
My husband and I have been traveling for the past seven years with only one bag that is overhead capable.  I don’t mean weekend traveling, I mean, traveling in Europe for over two weeks. See pictures above.

Ever since I met my husband, my travel packing style has changed.  I use to be the one with the large roller bag for every trip.  I have learned a lot from all our travels and I want to pass that knowledge over to you.  Not only will you save money on the luggage, but you will save time as well not waiting for it at the end (if it even gets there!) of an exhausting trip.

Here are a few tips that could help you for your next trip packing.
  • Pack for three days, but account for a week.  The experts call it force multiplication, but in my terms it means pack items that will increase the effectiveness of your clothing combination.  Meaning, pick items that compliment numerous outfit combinations.
  • Pants, you don’t need one per day. Two to three bottoms (shorts, skirt, dress) work.  Jeans are a must so pick skinny or not. If you are bringing boots, bring the skinnies and sticky with that style. If they are new jeans, make sure you have worn them a few times.  I made a mistake of wearing new jeans on a trip and I spent the entire time pulling them up.  Very annoying.  

  • Your bag is important.  I currently use Hayes X-Case Exotic because I wanted a roller.  This one is super light.  In fact it's the lightest roller available in this size - just 5 lbs!  I also frequently use the eBags Mother Lode Convertible bag (as seen in the pictures above).  One of these bags combined with a small cross body travel bag is a must. The smaller crossbody bag holds your purse (also crossbody), plastic baggies with travel liquids/gels, and entrainment items. It fits under the seat in front of you.  The small crossbody bag is counted as a "small personal item".

  • Layout all your clothing in front of you before packing it into the bag.  You always can get rid of a few items when you see it all out infront of you. 
  • Undergarments.  Ladies, you only need two bras (beige and black) and maybe a sports bra if you are planning to work out.  You also dont need a pair of underwear for each day.  Bring only a few pairs that you know are comfortable and work with your clothes.  No polka dots or crazy colors either, neutral and comfy.  You can always wash them in the sink and leave them to dry, which takes no time at all.  The same goes for socks, only a few pairs. 
  • To save time going through security, put your liquids/gels in the pastic baggie in an accessible place.  I always keep it in my smaller bag. 
  • There really isn't need to travel with tons of lotions, soaps, and shampoo/conditioner.  One can get by using the stuff the hotel supplies.  My skin is a bit sensitive so I do usually have a small travel lotion, but otherwise, stick with what you paid for in the hotel.
  • If you are traveling with another person, communicate and make sure you dont bring multiples of things.  I will admit that Jeff and I have brought the same toiletries.  
  • Bring a travel laundry detergent.  It's invaluable when you want to wash you undergarments, socks, or even shirt.  The only way I was able to travel for so long was washing my clothes and hanging them to dry.   There were definitely times when we were staying in these ridiculously nice hotels with out clothes hanging up in the marble bathroom to dry.  Most bathrooms have numerous place to hang your clothes and if you are lucky, an actual clothes line in the shower.  Hotels expect this!
  • Pick a color format.  Brown or black.  Wearing them together is no longer a faux-pas, but I still try to keep within one color choice with shoes and purse.
  • Plan your outfits before hand.  If the item hasn't been worn in a while, most likely you wont touch it on the trip and carry it around the entire time, wasting space.  Plan the outfits that you will feel good wearing and make sure each item can go from day to night.

  • Bring a scarf that has your colors from you clothes. My clothes usually are one color, but my scarf choice has many colors that match all the clothes.  This way you wont look boring and neutral the entire time.  Every time I wear this scarf I get complements. I bought it at the Gap for about five bucks and have used it for over a year now.  Its perfect because it has orange, yellow, red, blue, black, and brown.  It makes a plain shirts pop. 
  • Gold or silver - jewelry that is.  If you are the type of person who mixes the metals, this does not apply, but if you can't break your rules then choose one.  Don’t bring your expensive stuff either.  Bring a long necklace, short necklace, maybe a statement necklace and few pairs of earnings (dressy and maybe some studs).  A watch is always great too because it is jewelry, but also has a use for when your mobile doesn’t have service or work overseas.

  • One sweater is enough.  Preferably a button/zipper cardigan that is neutral and can be combined with a few outfits.  I wore this yellow one for our twenty day trip (it was washed it once!) when we were traveling around Europe last summer.  I was so happy to have it.  I made sure it went with all outfits that I had packed so I could get the most use out of it.
  • Shoes. Wear the bulky pair on the plane and bring others.  A girl can’t live with just one pair, but don’t use all the room in your bag on shoes.  Boots are great, but choose one pair.  They take up so much room.  If you need to bring heels, then choose one pair that you know you will wear.  New shoes are almost always a bad choice if you know you will be walking around a lot.   Make sure you have worn them a few times before brining them on a trip. 
  • Packing cubes.  Enough said, they are awesome and really keep you organized.
  • You don’t need your hairdryer.  Seriously, every hotel has one these days.  I always bring my curling iron because I know I will use it, but if you don’t curl you hair normally, leave it home.
  • Technology, bring what you know you will need.  You don’t want to be carrying around your heavy laptop if you aren’t going to use it.  I know we cant all afford to have iPads, but they really are worth it if you travel enough.  You can put movies and even blog using it if you need to.  Chargers are another tech tool that aren’t needed in multiples.  If you do bring a laptop, know that it can probably charge your phone and your SO's phone too!
  • Airplane entertainment. Besides having an adult beverage, entertainment is important, especially if the flight is during the day and doesn’t have on-demand screens in the seats.  I enjoy stocking up on magazines and then ditching them as soon as I am done.  Don’t waste your money buying a magazine in the airport, they are so expensive.
  • Travel journal.  Jeff bought me a small travel journal of our first wedding anniversary (paper) and we have been using it since.  We have our own style to recording our travels.  When looking through it now, it brings us back to all the special places we've been.  I wish we'd bought one earlier.
  • Clean out your wallet.  Gift cards, store credit cards, coupons, etc are not needed on vacation.  You can save yourself some space and even maybe consolidate your necessities into a smaller wallet.  Save space where you can.  Don’t forget your driver’s license and forms of ID.
  • If you are walking around a lot, bring good shoes, good socks, and some of this stuff.  This blister blocker is awesome and small. 
  • Rain gear.  Most hotels have umbrellas for you to use for the day, but a windbreaker is always a must if you know you will be outside.  If it is the winter months, then you need your cold winter jacket (with hood), but windbreakers are fashionable and some even come in fold up tiny cases.
  • P.S.  Don’t forget your camera.
Packing list   If you are like me, you really like lists.  If you tend to forget things like underwear, then you might want to check this list twice.

<3 mk 


Making Pizza at Home


Pizza is probably the easiest meal you can make and have everyone you are feeding be full and happy at the end, including picky children.  When most people think about pizza, they think about ordering it from a local joint.  The local places are often delicious, but they wont give you the all the variety you want.  If you make a pizza at home it could be done quicker than it takes to pick up the phone and order it from Vito. 

All you need is some store made dough, an oven, pizza stone (optional, but it helps), pizza peel (also optional) your favorite toppings, and some imagination.  The combinations are endless. 

Here are some tips to make your pizza.
  • Save time and buy the dough.  Most food stores or even pizza places sell raw dough.  Trader Joe’s has three types of dough; herb, regular and wheat.
  • Pre bake the crust before putting on the toppings.  This steps allows the dough to get cooked just enough before the toppings get added.  Brush the top with some olive oil and let it bake until it gets lightly browned on both the bottom and top.  This prevents any of the toppings from burning and the cheese gets the perfect amount of melty and lightly browned.
  • When forming the shape, flour your surface with flour or cornmeal. Cornmeal really works best and also allows for easy transfer between counter top (using a pizza peel) and pizza stone.
  • If you dont have a pizza peel, use a cutting board topped with cornmeal.  The flexible plastic cutting boards work the best.
  • Pizza stones get your crust really crunchy and aren’t expensive at all.  Investing a little over twenty dollars is worth it since you will be saving money not getting pizza delivered to your home. 
  • Let your pizza stone get really hot before using it for the pizza.  I usually have the oven at about 500 degrees when making pizzas.
  • Start with the dough chilled, it makes it a little easier to work with.  Do not worry about making a perfect circle or square!
  • Don’t be afraid to try new pizza topping combinations.  Pizzas don’t have to have tomato sauce and mozzarella all the time.  Fig, blue cheese and pear is a delicious combination.

For more specific steps, go here.  This guy really got detailed in his steps.

Here are a few of my favorite combinations.  I made these three combos for a New Year’s dinner and they were delicious.

Fig Butter, Gyuere, Arugula

Using the pre baked crust, spread on a thin layer of fig butter and slices of gruyere.  Put into the oven on the pizza stone until the cheese is melted ot your preference.  Top with arugula that has been tossed lightly with olive oil and salt/pepper. YUM! Insert into watering mouth.

Pear, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Balsamic Glaze

Using the pre-baked crust, layer thin slices of pear, shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese and crumbled gorgonzola.  Bake in the over until cheese has melted to your liking.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve. The balsamic glaze can be bought, but all you have to do is put balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until it has reduced about a half. It will coat the back of spoon when it is ready.  You can store it in the fridge to use for other recipes as well. Sooooo good!

Meat Lovers Pizza

This one took a bit more prep work, but my husband requires meat with his meals, such a man.  You can use any meat you want, just make sure they are cooked prior to usage as a topping.  This pizza had pancetta, spicy turkey sausage and chopped turkey pepperoni.

Take the pre baked crust, layer with a thin amount of basil pesto, layer parmesan and mozzarella cheese and then top with the meats of your choice.

<3 mk

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