Chalk Art Storage Shelf

I removed the quarter round and changed the wheels on my cart yet again and although not perfect, it is sliding in and out of the channel beside the fridge much better.  I am so glad because getting that working and completed allows me to move on to my next step in the project. I have certainly used my fair share of chalkboard paint, but have only made things with a very practical purpose such as my menu board. I have never tried my hand at chalk art, but absolutely love the look. My husband thinks I am crazy for putting in the amount of time it took for this project. I probably spent about 3 hours on this from the design phase through to completion.  It wasn’t so much hard work as it was tedious and time-consuming.  However, I love the finished product and have my fingers crossed that it won’t be smudged within the first few days like my husband predicts. I have to admit that would be very disappointing, but we’ll just have to wait and see how it holds up. Unlike a sign or wall art, this unit will be used regularly and I may end up really regretting this idea, but for today at least ~ I love it!!

Chalkboard Art:

Like most things I attempt, I try to do a bit of research first as “reinventing the wheel” goes against every fibre of my being. Why would I make the same mistakes that so many before me have already learned from. So, the first steps, as always were preparation.  For this project, I was searching for font suggestions as well tips on creating chalkboard art and of course, the internet didn’t disappoint.  Here are some of the links that I found to be the most helpful.

The Scrap Shoppe

The Lily Pad Cottage

Indie Craft Parade

So, I basically followed the tutorial suggested on Indie Craft Parade. Her instructions for getting perfect lettering seemed simple and straight forward and didn’t require any special talents. Check out her blog for the full tutorial, but here is a summary of what I did.

  1. Prepped my new chalkboard by covering the entire surface with chalk and then erasing it. It was still pretty chalky, so I used a damp cloth to clean it off completely.
  2. Using the font suggestions on The Scrap Shoppe, I went to dafont (one of my favourites) and began to download a few of my favourite free fonts. I planned and designed what I wanted to appear on the board. In my case, this was a bit tricky because my surface was quite long, but only 4″ wide. I created a text box that was slightly smaller than the width of the shelf (using Pages) and then wrote my words in the box. I then began to play with the fonts, sizes and layout until I came up with a design I liked. The fonts I ended up using were Birmingham Elongated, Bergamot Ornaments, KG Eyes Wide Open, 2 Peas Heart’s Delight and Bumble Bee BV. I found free clip art for both the swirl and the salt shaker. I took a screen shot of the swirl and then adjusted the size for my text box. I decided to use Webdings to create the little hearts in lieu of salt!
  3. Once the design was finished, I printed it out.
  4. Using the printed design that was the exact size I needed for my finished work, I began to rub chalk all over the back side of the paper.
  5. I carefully laid out the design and once I was sure that it was centered and level, I taped it in place.
  6. Finally, I took a regular pencil and began to outline the letters and shapes and then colour them in with the pencil. The pressure of the pencil on the elements of the design transferred the chalk to chalkboard, creating beautiful crisp lines. This wasn’t hard, but it was somewhat awkward with the shelf being so narrow and I ended doing it in about 4 sessions with breaks in between each.
  7. Once I had traced and coloured the entire design, I carefully remove the paper. (The flower on the bottom was an after thought as I had no idea what to put in that space and it needed something. You can probably tell that it was not part of the original plan,  as it looks like one of my kindergarteners made it. Oh well!)
  8. The final step involves clean-up. Now this is where my patience began to wear a bit thin. From a distance it looks pretty fab, but if you go up close it is a bit smudgy in places. Oh well, not bad for a first try!  To clean-up the excess chalk dust, I first gently blew off what I could and then used both a clean damp rag (NOT paper towel) and wet Q-tips to erase the extra chalk and give it that clean look.
  9. When it was about as good as it was going to get, I sprayed the entire surface with hair spray. It is supposed to help maintain the art, but the effectiveness of this remains to be seen.

I am really excited about this whole project and will absolutely be looking for more ways to use chalkboard art in my projects.

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Riced Cauliflower: Yay or Nay?

Riced CauliflowerI am not sure about you, but I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. My mom served meat, potatoes and a vegetable for dinner almost every night. It seemed like an unwritten rule that meals were served in three’s. Over the years, we have moved away from this, but I still often feel like something is missing when we only have two dishes instead of our traditional three. One of the things I like to do is serve Riced Cauliflower in lieu of potatoes or rice. We had it last night, but I was still in recovery mode with it only being my first day of holidays and I didn’t even think of taking a picture. This picture was borrowed from another blog with a great post on cauliflower rice that includes thorough instructions and some great cooking tips. Click on the image to visit the site.

Riced Cauliflower:

This really isn’t so much a recipe as an alternative cooking method.

  • Break the cauliflower into florets
  • Drop them in your blender or food processor and chop until the pieces are small and rice like.
  • Sauté in butter or oil. (I like coconut oil.)

What I love about this is that you can spice it up however you want or just serve it plain. We have eaten it with soy sauce just as you would rice or topped with a sauce from the meat, if applicable.  I also love to use it as a bed for a stir fry.

One of our favourites is to chop cabbage and an onion in the blender with the cauliflower. I season it with salt, pepper and lots of dill as it cooks. (I sometimes will add a drop or two of lemon juice, as well.) The finished dish is very much like Lazy Cabbage Rolls, but with cauliflower instead of the rice.

Cauliflower and The Plan:

Now, I can’t feel good about sharing this great idea for reducing the grains in your diet without also sharing that in Lyn-Genet Recitas book, The Plan, she identifies cauliflower as being highly reactive. So, if you are in the midst of trying to lose some weight and you think this is a fabulous alternative to rice, I don’t want to be the one to steer you wrong. In her book, she teaches you how to read your own body and know how your body reacts to different foods. She states how so many people who struggle with weight loss do so because they truly believe they are doing everything right. I have done several posts in which I have referenced her work and I believe it is the key. I don’t think there is any single diet or plan out there that works for everyone because we are all different and the ability to digest foods properly varies from person to person. So many of the foods that have been coined “super foods” or healthy choices do in fact provide the nutrients and benefits they claim, for certain people, but not everyone. So you may read this and say to yourself, “Riced cauliflower, what a great idea!” (like I did), without realizing that there is a good chance that you will fall into the category of those that find cauliflower “reactive” and cause weight gain. Through her practise, she has found that approximately 85% of the population react negatively to cauliflower.  According to Lyn, cauliflower is one of many goitrogenic foods. Foods containing goitrogens have been shown to interfere with thyroid function by blocking enzymes responsible for producing hormones. Although not all people with thyroid issues react to all foods with goitrogens, she does say that raw foods seem to be more problematic.

If you love cauliflower and are looking for some new ideas on how to serve it – go for it. I love riced cauliflower. However, if you are careful about what you eat and/or trying to lose weight, just be aware and watch to see how your body reacts. I know that I sometimes will find a great “healthy” alternative and begin to incorporate it into my diet on a regular basis and it used to take me months to figure out what I was doing wrong. I love how Lyn’s plan taught me how to read my body and determine what foods agree with me and as well as those that don’t, as soon as the next morning. It may seem crazy to weigh yourself everyday, but even the slightest weight gain indicates that my body is reacting to either my sodium intake, my level of water consumption, lack of sleep or a specific food I have eaten. I can look back on the previous day and often determine the culprit right away! Her system really allows you to take control. You can eat what you want, whenever you want and then get right back on track with “friendly foods”.

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Book Rack Upcycle: The Final Steps

The Challenges:

For such a simple project, I have to say that I have been a bit frustrated. The rebuild was quite easy and everything came together quite nicely, but I am still not completely happy with the wheels and its mobility. I have mounted the wheels in several different places, trying to find a placement that provides enough stability and allows the cabinet to move easily in and out of the narrow channel between the fridge and the stove. I have run into issues with both:

  1. Stability – the cabinet is quite tall and narrow, so even without wheels, stability is an issue.
  2. Wheel Mobility – this has been impacted by two variables:
  • one being that the wheels tend to spin when you slide/turn the unit and it seems like they need to remain lined-up nicely in order to work properly.
  • the second issue is the baseboard and quarter-round on the wall. I suspected this might be an issue all along and am pretty certain that removing it will solve most of my challenges. My husband said “No.” Every once in a while he doesn’t quite buy into my plans and removing the quarter-round seems to be something he takes issue with. Oh well, I am on spring break this week (YAY!!) and he isn’t, so we’ll see what happens when he goes to work. This may sound a bit cheeky, but I know from experience that he usually agrees with me when all is said and done.  For now I have left it as is, but at the very least I will be removing it to see if it makes a difference to the mobility.

The Next Steps:

As far as the stability goes, it really isn’t that much of an issue, but I had planned on adding some extra hooks in the very narrow space behind the pull-out rack. In most instances, you would only be pulling the rack partially out to get what you need and the fridge and wall would provide plenty of support for it to stand. However, if I want to add the extra hooks behind the cabinet, I would need to pull it out completely in order to gain access to the items behind. I was thinking of storing my cooling racks behind there because they are light weight for hooks and are too bulky for my cupboards. The downside of this is that I use them quite often, so I might be better placing items that are rarely used behind there. I am really not sure how this will all work out, but for now, I am waiting for a few touch-ups to dry and will then be ready for the final steps.

  • Cleaning and reorganizing my current cupboards in order to use my new storage rack in the most effective way possible.
  • Chalkboard art – I am really not sure what I am going to do yet, but I wanted to try some kind of chalk board art on the vertical face of the cabinet.

I’ll keep you posted.

PS If you are interested in checking out the previous posts on this project, here are the links for the first and second post.

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Grilled Cheese With a Twist

A while back I shared my all time favourite homemade grilled cheese sandwich recipe. Recently, I decided to try something completely different and it was very yummy as well. apple white cheddar grilled cheese

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese:


aged white cheddar

  • Balderson’s aged white cheddar cheese (from Costco)
  • about 1/6 of an apple very thinly sliced
  • sliced red onion
  • hot peppers (I always have a jar of Bick’s Banana Pepper Rings in my fridge.)


Place the ingredients inside the sandwich and grill as you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich with the outsides buttered. (I find that the cheese melts more effectively, if you cover it.) Once the bread has browned on the outside, and the cheese has melted, remove the sandwich from the pan and enjoy!

P.S. Just wanted to let you know the Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle was a big hit. Well worth the calories and the recipe is definitely a keeper!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

Despite my efforts to eat healthy, desserts are definitely my weakness. I came across this recipe on A Step in the Journey and was wanting to try something new, so thought I’d give this a whirl. I love trifles and figured anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter is almost guaranteed to be a hit.Chocolate Peanut Butter TrifleChocolate Peanut Butter Trifle:


  • Brownies (either from scratch or a box). I made the Best of Bridge Fantastic Fudge Brownie recipe. I love their recipes and own many of their books, but managed to find it on-line as well. I omitted the walnuts and didn’t ice the brownies. I guess you could include the walnuts, if you wish, but I didn’t. This recipe is designed for a 9″ X 13″ pan, so if you use your own recipe and it only makes a square pan – double it!
  • Cool Whip – large size
  • Large box of Jello Instant Chocolate Pudding 
  • 3 cups of milk (used to make Jello) + 2 Tablespoons
  • Bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • 1 cup of Peanut Butter
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese ~ at room temperature
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • Optional: Ahoy!Extras Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter chewy cookies (I bought this mini bag and added a few broken cookies along with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.


  1. Prepare the brownies and let stand to cool.
  2. Mix up the Jello according to the package instructions. Cover and place in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the trifle.
  3. Chop the peanut butter cups with a food chopper or knife.
  4. Whip softened cream cheese. Fold in peanut butter. Once combined, add powdered sugar and the 2 Tablespoons of milk. Continue to whip until fluffy.
  5. Break the cooled brownies into small bite-sized pieces.
  6. You can divide your layer ingredients into halves or thirds depending on weather you want to have 2 or 3 layers. (You don’t have to physically divide them, but make a mental note and be sure to keep enough ingredients for each layer.
  7. LAYER the trifle:
  • 1/2 (or 1/3) of broken brownie bites
  • 1/2 (or 1/3) of peanut butter mixture
  • 1/2 (or 1/3) of chocolate pudding
  • 1/2 (or 1/3) of Cool Whip
  • 1/2 (or 1/3) of chopped Peanut Butter cups
  • Repeat to create either two or three layers of each ingredient. End with broken peanut butter cups to garnish. You can add a few chocolate curls as well, if you wish.

Of course, I will be sharing this dessert. Something this decadent would be way too dangerous to keep at home. I’ll let you know how everyone likes it!

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Melted Plastic Crafts

I posted the steps for creating cool melted plastic necklaces last week and decided to use the melted pieces to make some other items as well. When I was away, I picked up a package of black hair clips for a couple of bucks. Although these could be a cute addition to a bun, I was thinking more in the lines of another twist on a scarf clip. I simply used my E6000 glue to adhere the plastic piece to the clip. The clips are a bit longer than the plastic, but once it’s embedded in the fabric of a scarf I don’t think it will matter.

I also added a little piece of the magnet tape I bought a few weeks back and made one into a fridge magnet. I was concerned the tape wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the weight of the plastic, so I added E6000 to it as well.

Again, these plastic shapes are super easy to make and the ideas for how they might be used are limitless. They are inexpensive and each one is unique in both shape and colour.

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Preventing Treadmill Tragedies

We don’t have a treadmill, so I’ve never really spoken to my children about the dangers associated with their use. However, over the weekend, the kids were roaming between the pool, arcade and guest rooms, as they hung out with their friends and teammates at the hotel. I didn’t even know that Shay had gone into the workout room until he came and told us that he and a friend had been on the treadmill and that he had somehow slipped and “burned” the top of his foot. It was very sore, but fortunately not very serious. This photo was taken on Monday, 2 to 3 days after the injury (I can’t remember which day it happened), so it’s already started to heal.

Shay's treadmill burns

I’ve actually seen treadmill injuries that have been much worse. In fact, a few years ago, I had two injured kindergarten students within the same school year. Although many injuries happen when the children are playing on or near the treadmill, others occur when a parent is using the machine and a child comes to close.

The USA averages about 8700 treadmill injuries involving children per year. The injuries range from “rug like” burns to broken bones and can sometimes be so severe that skin grafting is necessary. In fact, Mike Tyson’s 4 year old daughter died from injuries sustained in a treadmill accident in 2009. Below is a picture of a child’s treadmill burn that required surgery.

treadmill injury

It takes but a fraction of a second, to lose your footing and be thrown from a treadmill. Injuries often occur when a victim is trying to regain their footing. Often the tread will continue to run and traps clothing or even a limb in the moving belt.

I write this post as a warning to parents. If you own a treadmill, please use extreme caution and ensure that the treadmill is unplugged when it’s not in use. Have strict rules regarding home exercise equipment and use the safety features on your machine. If you are interested in reading more on this topic, check-out this article:  The startling reality of children’s treadmill tragedies: 9 ways to prevent home exercise accidents in your home.

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Travel Tip: Packing Made Easy

We just got back from a great weekend in the states and I thought I would post a little travel tip. I am all about streamlining to make any and all tasks as easy as possible. One of the things that I did several years ago was create a basic packing list for each member of our family. Of course, the list varies depending on the location, nature of the trip and duration of the stay, but I keep the basic template and adjust the lists to meet our needs before printing them off for each member of our family. I do have specific lists that I have made and kept on file for things like summer camp.  Here is a sample list.

Packing list

What I love about this system is that I really don’t need to worry about packing. The kids are now old enough to pack for themselves. I provide the lists and they check off the items as they pack. It is worth the time to develop the templates and then take the few minutes necessary to adjust them for each trip, as it saves me the time and energy of thinking about who needs what for every trip and helps the kids to be more independent. They can add their own items to the bottom as well. This system works really well for the whole family!

P.S. Follow-up to yesterday’s post on best deals of our trip: Kohl’s didn’t disappoint…spent $70.28 and saved $387.15. Don’t you love how they print how much you saved at the end of your bill? I am a total sucker for that. Funny when all was said and done, it was Shay that scored the biggest! The boys’ clothes were by far the best deals of the weekend which was nice for once as it is usually E and I that come home with the most. Not this time. He got a whack of new clothes and I don’t think I spent more than $80 on him.

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My Weekend Shopping Scores

We have been in Grand Forks for the last few days for a hockey tournament and unfortunately the only scoring that has been happening is in the stores. Our poor boys team only won one game and has gotten shellacked most of the others. We’re in an atom tournament in which most of the kids are at least one year older than our boys….they are bigger than us, stronger than us, faster than as and in a nut shell, much better than we are. The boys have been a bit down on the ice and beating themselves up afterwards, but once we’re out of the rink, they have had an awesome time hanging out and swimming in the pool.

I do love watching Shay play, but must admit that this weekend’s games were a bit hard to watch with such lopsided play, so of course, I made it my mission to come back a winner, regardless of the score sheets! We still have a few stops to make, but I thought I would take the time to brag about my best “scores” so far.

There really have been some great deals, but the best by far was my trip to The Children’s Place. I found a rack marked 50% off the lowest ticket price and obviously got there before it had been too picked over. I landed Shay a pair of jeans, sweats, a sweater, an awesome hoody and two t-shirts. How much you may be asking? Brace yourself…..$15.65! The jeans were regularly $30 and I got them for 50% of $1.99 ~ 99 cents for jeans!  Of course, there really was no beating this, but I did manage to find a few other really good deals.

We did quite well at JC Penny as well. I ended up getting 7 items including a Melton coat for Eden, 3 pairs of jeans, 2 sweaters and a t-shirt for $59.96. The coat alone was regularly priced at $76, so not a bad deal.

melton coat

I got myself a $40 sweater for under $5 and a two pack of sports bras that were regularly $40 on for under $5, as well as quite a few other great buys. We haven’t hit Menards or Kohl’s yet, so I can’t wait to see what I can find there. I know I will be getting spray paint for sure as it is about half the cost of home.

Well, here’s to a better game today, more great deals and safe travels home!



Effectively Managing Your Gift Cards: Part 2

Let’s just say I get a lot of coffee cards. When I recently cleaned out my purse, I had 23 gift cards and used an idea I found on-line to get them all organized. 9 of these were coffee cards (8 Starbucks and 1 Tim Horton’s). It’s not that I don’t like Starbucks, but I generally only go there when I have the uncontrollable urge for one of their yummy cake pops. I only drink coffee in the morning before work and there really isn’t a Starbucks in my area of the city or on my route to work. So, I have 8 cards, all with varying balances and they seem to be in every nook and cranny of my purse. The solution…..

Balance Transfers:

Did you know that you can create an account on the Starbucks website, load your cards and then transfer the balances from all of the cards onto one single card. Yay!! I also learned that you can send e-cards by transferring money from your account balance on your primary gift card. So, when all was said and done, not only did I organize all of my gift cards, but I also managed to combine my 7 Starbucks gift cards on to one (I re-gifted the 8th one).

coffee cards

I was able to take all 7 of my Starbucks gift cards and transfer them onto one card.

I am not sure if other companies offer this same option, but coffee cards seem to be what I get so many multiples of.

Gift Card Apps:

I don’t have an iPhone, android or any other kind of modern device. In fact, my phone is what I like to call a classic. I so seldom use my phone that I haven’t been able to justify the need for a new one….for a very long time. I think it has a camera, but I am not even sure. It might have a texting function, but I am way too impatient to ever be able to push the number the correct number of times to get the letter I want. I know it’s not bluetooth compatible because I actually looked into that. It rings and dials and that’s pretty much it. I can’t even say that it keeps its charge well, in fact, this may be what forces me to upgrade and get with the times. What I’m getting at is this…my reference to this link is not based on my own personal experience, but rather on a concept I find intriguing.

This link shares information on 3 apps that have been designed to help you organize your gift cards. In a nut shell, you plug-in the card information and your phone tracks all of your cards and the balances. It is my understanding that you don’t even need your actual gift cards, but can just use your phone and the app to access the account. Simply genius. Some day when I grow-up and have a big girl phone, I am so going to get one of these apps.

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