Lucy – My Portuguese Water Dog Puppy

We’re trying to teach our puppy to ring a bell when she wants to go outside. We tried for weeks taking her paw and ringing the bell for her, at the door before we take her out but we’re finding that she doesn’t do that on her own and she doesn’t know how to tell us she needs to go out.

My daughters sat with her last night and taught her how to ring a bell for a treat.

That she got in about 5 minutes. So our next step is to have her ring her bell (by the door), give her a treat, open the door so she’ll go out and then when she goes potty give her another treat. Do you think it will work? Do you have any other suggestions for us?

Check back, I’ll let you know how it goes…

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Cyber Monday

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Well of course you know after Back Friday is Cyber Monday and I wanted to make sure you don’t miss this Shutterfly special. Every year I buy a calendar for my mother and father in-law and Christmas cards from Shutterfly. If you’re looking for a smart personalized gift don’t miss this sale…

Click on the below picture to go there.

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That’s a Wrap

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Thanksgiving dinners around the U.S. have wrapped up and now it’s time to think about what we’ll be wrapping up for Christmas.

Are you waking up at 4am to go out and shop?  Me? No way. I figure my kids will be happy with what they get and I won’t wish that I had got up at 4.

If you get up and shop in the middle of the night with all those other people, what will you be looking for that you can’t get at 10am?  Please comment and let me know, I’m so curious.

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Brine Your Turkey.

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I made a brined turkey a few years back and since then, I just can’t go back. There are lots of prepackaged brines out there including William Sonoma. I’ve tried them, but I just don’t like them as much as a homemade brine. This recipe comes to you via Goop from Weelicious.

Maple Brined Turkey

Makes 10-12 Servings
1 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Cup Salt
1 12-14 Pound Turkey (defrosted if frozen)
1 Orange
1 Onion, quartered
10 Cloves
20 Peppercorns
3 Star Anise
1-2 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil

Place the maple syrup and salt in 4 cups of hot water. Stir until the salt dissolves.
Place the maple syrup mixture in a large stock pot with a gallon of cold water, the juice of the orange, the orange halves (once juiced, of course), the onion, cloves, peppercorns, and star anise and stir to combine.
Wash the turkey inside and out (putting aside the neck and liver to make gravy) and place breast side down in the stockpot with the brine (you want the brine to just cover the turkey).
Refrigerate 8 to 18 hours or up to to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding brine.
Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide, low pan and blot the turkey with a paper towel.
Tuck back the wings (or cover with small pieces of foil) and rub the skin of the turkey with the oil.
Roast on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 minutes and then place a piece of foil just over the breast of the turkey to cover (the breast cooks faster than the legs and wings so this process helps it to cook more evenly).
Pour 1 cup of water in the pan, reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to roast 1 hour.
Remove the foil from the breast, turn the pan so the other side of the breast is towards the back of the oven (most ovens’ heat comes from the back, so turning the pan prevents overcooking) and cook for another hour to 90 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) until you reach a temperature of 160-165 degrees F. The turkey will actually continue to cook a bit more even after you take it out of the oven (the total cooking time in the oven will be 2 1/2 to 3 hours total).
Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes (this is an essential step to allow the juices to redistribute and settle).
Slice and serve.

I just made my brine and to cool it down I have it outside in the snow.

Make sure your brine is cool before adding it to your turkey.

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Make a Simple Frothy Latte

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Here in Seattle, we’re having our first snow today! So no better time to talk about making yummy hot drinks.

Did you know you don’t need a froth machine or one of those fancy cappuccino makers to make froth? All you need is a french press. Lot’s of us have a french press in our kitchen but did you know you can make wonderful latte froth with it?

Just add some milk to the bottom of the press. Depending on how many latte drinks you’re going to make you probably won’t need more than a 1/2 cup of milk.

You can add hot, warm, or cold milk, it’s up to you. For hot or warm milk use the microwave in a different mug first.  Keep in mind fat free milk works great for this but if you prefer low fat or full fat, any kind works perfectly.

After you add the milk to your french press put the lid on. While holding on to the lid and base – keep the press firm, pump the french press halfway down and up quickly about 20-25 times or as many times depends on how thick you want your froth.

pull up the lid and there you have it! Beautiful, fluffy, creamy froth.

Pour and spoon to the top of your coffee, tea or hot chocolate and then add a little cinnamon on the top. Wow what a simple hot and creamy treat without leaving home.  (I like to add cold froth to my kid’s hot chocolate to help cool it down) They think it tastes like whipped cream!

As a side note, I prefer to use this single serving french press for froth. It’s small and it’s easy to handle. You can easily find this single serving size at TJ Max or Ross type stores, if not, I’m sure your favorite coffee house will sell one to you.

I hope you’ll enjoy this idea for many years to come.  Cheers!

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Make a Beverage Bar

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Remember those old movies when there seemed to be a beverage bar in every modern home? “Can I get you a drink?” as they made their way over to a full stocked beverage bar. I always wondered why our family’s house wasn’t quite so organized and guest friendly.

Everyone can find a little area or nook in their kitchen for their own beverage bar. A place for coffee, tea, wine, hot chocolate all in one simple and inviting spot. Find a small space where you can set your coffee maker, sugar, wine holder…

Then in a nearby cabinet or drawer, fill a basket with hot chocolate, teas, mocha mixes, etc.

You’ll find it so easy to offer your guests something warm this holiday with no effort at all. If your guests see how easy and inviting this beverage bar is they’ll be sure to say yes to a cup.

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Seattle’s Troll, Creamy Chocolate, and Fun Junk

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Today we took a short drive over to Fremont, a Seattle neighborhood. This is an older, revived area with the artsy, quirky atmosphere that people have come to expect in the Seattle area.

It’s strange, it’s art, and it’s a troll that lives under the Aurora Bridge He’s something to see while in Seattle.

Just a few short blocks from the troll is the home of Theo Chocolate factory.

The first and only organic, fair trade chocolate factory in the country, Theos has been producing chocolate since 1994. When in Seattle, you have to stop in and sample this wonderful chocolate. There are loads of free samples on every table. (see photos below, there are lots of tables set up with free samples)

One thing that’s important to me about this chocolate is it’s all natural ingredients with no Partially Hydrogenated Oils like Ghirardelli and others chocolates have. We learned on our tour that many other chocolate factories take out the antioxidant rich cocoa butter, sell it and then add less expensive alternative oils such as partially hydrogenated oils. I thought that was really interesting and shows the true quality and dedication that Theos has for their fine chocolates.

This factory has a warm inviting store with lots of great gift ideas too.

Then right around the block from Theos is the Fremont Sunday Street Market 400 N 34th St (between N Phinney Ave & Canal St) Seattle

I love this street market with all the usual farmer’s market finds including organic produce and artisan jewelery but work your way to the underground parking garage where you’ll find second hand classics from antiques to old classic favorites from your memories.

One booth in particular called Fun Junk provides old typewriter keys, bracelets made from old watch faces, and lots more. You can even find bucket loads of Scrabble pieces.

My daughters and their friends and I had a blast looking through this classic mess but my husband just didn’t get it. He didn’t see the beauty. So if your husband doesn’t like old classic second hand finds… leave him at home and go have some fun with your friends.

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Stumbled Upon this Laundry Room

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My laundry room is about 8×8 and it holds my vacuum, cleaners, dog food, a mop… you know, those kinds of things that you use everyday and are not exactly show piece items . I stumbled upon this laundry room from a blog named Southern Hospitality. You know when you go through model homes and the laundry room looks like you’d be in pure bliss to spend time there…  just picture yourself, spinning around in slow motion smelling your fresh laundry and folding your clothes with a smile of delight.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find the motivation to turn my laundry room into a show room but southern hospitality blog gives us a look at how to make a small boring space into a lovely place.

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Thanksgiving Blog Hop!

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Thanksgiving is a great time to warm up your home with festive food and a warm decorative table. It seems we bring out the good dishes and table cloths but it’s time we reinvent ourselves with ideas from our friends. Here’s your chance to show off your inviting creativity. Join the blog hop with your Thanksgiving ideas! If you don’t have a blog, just click on the thumbnails to be inspired.

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Pottery Barn Videos for Thanksgiving

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Planning a dinner, maybe Thanksgiving dinner? There’s a video for that. Want to know how to set your Thanksgiving table? There’s a video for that. Or, how about pairing wine and cheese? Of course… There’s a video for that.

I especially like the farm house brunch. It’s rustic, it’s simple. Most everyone can pull this together with things you probably already have.

Stop back by tomorrow for more Thanksgiving ideas. If you have a great idea, please leave a comment.

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Free (great) Handwritten Fonts

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comic sans, chalkboard, brush script…  are these the fonts you use when you want something to look handwritten? Ya, I know, bad right? My daughter’s friend said her mom created her entire website in comic sans because she sincerely wanted it to look like she hand wrote her thoughts. As a graphic designer, I have to first let you know you should only highlight or use handwritten fonts or these type of fonts for small amounts of text. And as a friend, I need to tell you where to get better handwritten fonts FREE.

Fonts for Peas is the master mind of Keven & Amanda a cute couple that can even make YOUR hand writing into a font for FREE! Here’s a note from Keven & Amanda

Also, here’s a list of all their fonts that you can download free. My daughter LOVES these fonts and you will too!

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Free :: Pretty Clipart

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When you’re looking for free clipart it’s hard to find pretty clipart. Not tacky but pretty, right? Vintage Holiday Crafts has been a favorite site of mine that has really classic stuff. They have postcards and designs for every holiday and they’re constantly updating their site. I restyled my blog header for Thanksgiving using their postcards and holiday angels. Be sure to scroll down to get to the free downloads.

Sending postcards, making table place cards, scrap booking… What are you gong to use this clipart for?

Okay wait, I’m not done. HP has a site where you can print free things like kids activity sheets for Thanksgiving

Also Thanksgiving recipe cards Now you can professionally type all of your great Turkey Day recipes and finally pass along.

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Great Discounts for Holiday Shopping

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Holiday shopping is almost here and this year finding just what you’re looking for will be a lot less painful financially with these must have tools in your pocket. Here are some popular online/cell phone deal finders:

Have you used Dealio.com yet? It’s a great online coupon site

Dealio Compares prices on 30 million products, find online store coupon codes and get the hottest daily online deals. Saving money by finding the hottest deals, online coupons, and coupon codes is what you can do on this site.
Or, if you’re on an iphone, Redlaser is a fantastic coupon app.
With Redlaser, you can:
Another app that I like using on my iphone is Yowza!
Or, if you’re on the Google phone, here’s a great app for you too
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Who’s your American idol?

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The Pioneer Woman is amazing, don’t you think? How does she really do it? She home schools her kids, she blogs, she wrote a cookbook, and she has her tasty kitchen site. I love this tasty kitchen site because you can GIVE and GET recipes in a very organized and fun social networking sort of way.

But back to the Pioneer Woman, she’s living my dream. She lives on a big ranch, rides horses, has a beautiful ranch house, takes beautiful photos and is ridiculously creative. Does this wonder woman do all of this, really? She keeps her blog full and satisfying plus spotless, clean.  She’s my American idol.

Who’s yours?

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Coupon Product :: Local Twist

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Awhile back I posted about Groupon.com. I recently learned about LocalTwist.com. Same idea, different deals. I have a feeling these coupon websites are going to really get rolling around Christmas time. It’s free to sign up. You may find exactly what you’re looking -at a better deal.

Don’t forget to check out the Red Carpet Deals too on LocalTwist.com.

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Dog Tags

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As you know we’re getting our 8 week old puppy tomorrow so of course we need accessories!  Our local upscale pet store has these tags available for purchase made by Red Dingo. I bought one with my puppy’s name, my cell phone number and the word “microchipped” after that because she will be chipped.

• It’s important to put your cell phone number in case you’re out trying to find your dog -people can call you and you won’t miss the call. Or, if she runs away while you’re away from home.

Anyway, What a wonderful company!  These are stainless steel, great quality tags. I was so impressed with the company I had to write about it. They’re fast too. I ordered the tag on Sunday and it arrived at my house on Thursday and the best part, very reasonable at $15 each. You’ll never need another tag, this will last forever.

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Designed 2 Websites for my Friend

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Do you want to see what I’ve been working on? I made 2 websites for my friend that has a wonderful catering business  ItsSimplyDelish.com

I also made her a blog too!  LaCostaMom.com She’s a busy mom of 3 and juggles her catering business so she hasn’t had time to blog yet. But I hope you’ll check back with her from time to time. She has great ideas, cooks amazing food, and has great decorating taste so that will be a blog to watch!

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Homemade Dog Treats

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Did I tell you we’re getting a new puppy?

We will have a bright, shinny, new 8 week old Portuguese water pup on October 22nd (that’s all I can think about) so I’m going to make some dog treats to welcome her to her new home.

I found this great site that has a bunch of recipes sure to please even the pickiest pooch.

Bon appetit my little sweet.

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Border’s 40% OFF Paperbacks Coupon!

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What book are you reading?

Do you have any suggestions.

My neighbor told me about True Blood and I had fun reading the first book this summer but now I switched to watching it on HBO.

I know, can’t resist.

Stumbled upon this coupon for 40% OFF any paperback book at Borders. Enjoy!


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Pottery Barn Paint Swatches

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I painted a lot of rooms this summer. Because of that, I needed to find the perfect colors that I would like for the next five years. Yes, I said 5 years, who wants to paint more than that?

Pottery Barn has tested and taken all of the guess work out by leaving out the not so good colors and going straight away to the good ones! They have free seasonal swatches in their stores but don’t run out now because here, they’re online.

Benjamin Moore makes the paints for Pottery Barn and has now came out with a low VOC paint which to me, is very important and really needed when painting (especially a bedroom). Home Depot can also match P.B. swatches and use Martha Stewart low VOC paint.  It really made a huge difference with how I felt personally being in the room (during and after) when I used low VOC paint. When I used the regular paints my eyes burned, my head hurt. When I switched to low VOC I felt much better, no headache, no burning eyes. I will only use low VOC from now on. The paint coverage was just as great and also very good quality with the Martha Stewart low VOC at Home Depot too.

Bee Inspired! Click on the above photo or paint swatch to see all of their seasonal colors and take the guess work out finding that just right color, before you get completely confused at the paint store.

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Michael’s Coupon :: 40% OFF

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Can you feel it? Well, it’s that time of year again.  Falling leaves and then it’s like a big slippery slop. Boom, Boom, Boom, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. It all comes up so quickly once we get into fall. Don’t forget to bring your coupon when going to Michael’s for all of your holiday craft supplies. Do you know how many times I’ve forgot my coupon?

Here you go…  Click on the coupon to print it.

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Out of the Closet

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Seriously. There were too many shoes in my closet. As I was looking at my shoes I thought, “Well, I may wear these again this winter” But how do you know? Simple. Go onto Nordstrom.com and see the key elements of today’s styles i.e. heels, toes, colors. Match them up with what you have and if they are not quite like the pictures – toss em. I had a nice pair of black dress sandals but they had a huge clunky high heal so as Heidi Klum would say “You’re Out!”

How often should we clean out our shoe closet? Yearly? Bi-yearly? Okay, I’m going to be honest with you. I haven’t cleaned out my closet it seems since 1994 since I had a pair of Guess shoes from then. At the time, they were fine leather and beautiful but they had their day and now they are moving on to Goodwill.

Do you see these two giant bags of shoes? They’re going and I am going to be much happier without the clutter.

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The Super Secret Discount Code

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Here’s a coupon for 50% OFF at Shutterfly. Feel free to use it. But first, look at the promo code “SAVE50″. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of online coupons with the promo code “SAVE50″ or “SAVE20″. When I was ordering a refrigerator online this summer for my kitchen remodel, I decided to try putting “SAVE20″ in the promo code space and boom, it took $20 off my order! So next time you’re ordering online don’t just cringe when you see that blank promo code area, go ahead and try “SAVE20″ or “SAVE50″  It can’t hurt. Now go enjoy your Shutterfly coupon below (with the promo code SAVE50)

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Kitchen Finale

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This summer I blogged the remodeling of my kitchen in Carlsbad, California. And now I wanted to show you how it all turned out.

carlsbad kitchen remodel

The project went very smoothly. The drywall, paint and electrical work took 1 week. The cabinet installation took 3 days, the granite installation took 1 day, and the appliance installation took 1 day. I never knew that a kitchen remodel could be done in only 9 days! Of course there were weekends in there and also a few days here and there when I didn’t have an installer scheduled for the day but… fast isn’t it? I took photos using my iphone before I left so here they are. Sorry for the low resolution.

Thank you again to

Mark with Hanson-Smith Cabinetry and Bill with Shaffer Construction

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Breakfast on Me at Ruby’s Diner

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Do you love Ruby’s Diner?  Here’s a coupon for a free breakfast when you buy one. So take your friend or hubby to breakfast!

There’s locations in R
- California
- Hawaii
- New Jersey
- Nevada
- Pennsylvania
- Texas
- Washington State

Ruby’sDiner.com

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Have you joined Groupon.com yet?

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Okay, when I was in Carlsbad this summer my friends and neighbors kept asking “Have you joined Groupon yet? Have you heard of it?

Okay, here’s the scoop. It’s this program where

• You log on everyday to see the daily special from your area.
• You can buy the coupon right there online (it’s usually a super great deal)
• If enough other people buy into the coupon then the deals good and it’s yours.

There’s everything from cooking classes, to gardening supplies at really super discounted rates. Check it out…
http://www.groupon.com/r/uu7300056

Here are some of the deals they’ve offered for my Seattle area. Click on the link and see what they are offering you in your area. It’s free to join!
http://www.groupon.com/r/uu7300056

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Lunch Box Notes

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It’s back to to for us today and it’s time to print some more lunch box notes.  Get pdf’s here.

lunch box notes

more lunch box notes

I put a note in my kids’ lunch everyday. They love it and their friends get excited to see it too. They all pass it around after my child reads it first. It has become quite a sweet treat.

I’ve made it a simple FreeBee for you!
print out these 2 pages of lunch Box Notes by simply dragging them to your desktop, cut them on the grid then hide them away and put one in their lunch, pocket, or backpack everyday.

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Lucy’s Story :: Our Portuguese Water Dog

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Only a small litter of 4 Portuguese Water puppies were born on the afternoon of August 29, 2010. Our breeder and her family named them Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris and Natasha. One big brown boy with the bluest of eyes was born first. Next, followed our little black girl with white on her nose, head, chin, and chest. Soon to follow was another brown boy and then last was little sweet Boris, completely jet black.

We had just lost Daisy, our 8 year old Portuguese Water Dog in June and we were heartbroken and lonely for another. We heard about this litter from a breeder at a dog show in Seattle so we immediately got in line to get hopefully a wavy coat, black female. The breeder told us that both the mom and dad of this litter were incredibly sweet and this is their second and last litter.

When the 4 puppies were born we just knew she was a gift from heaven. The litter had 3 boys and only one girl and yes, black and wavy. We cried that day and hoped and prayed she would be ours.

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The Buzz :: sarahandabraham.com

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I came upon this darling website this morning. sarahandabraham.com I’m going to keep this site in mind next time I’m looking for a gift. How simple, how sweet.Personalized water bottles

And even icing decals!

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A Front Door Welcome

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A photo from Blissfully Domestic

Having a clean and freshly painted front door is the best way to preview what’s to come when someone enters your house. Clean your door, sweep your front porch, place a cluster of plants -It’s the same thing as saying “Welcome, I’m organized and clean”  So, it was time for me to say the same thing at my front door.

I ran down to my local paint store and picked up the paint. While I was there, there were no shortage of painters standing around waiting for their order and ready to give advice. This is what they said and it worked!

Leave the door on the hinges: No need to take your door off the hinges. I saw that another site asks you to take the door down and do you really think I would be able to do that? Just keep the door open with plastic under it.

2. Sand down any old chipped or bubbled paint

3. Think of your door in sections: Look at your door. Do you have raised panels? You are going to paint within those raised panels since you’re going to use a small amount of paint at a time and it dries quickly -completely painting that panel moving your brush with the grain until it’s covered lightly and completely and then move on to the next panel

4. Apply at thin coat of primer. This is important if you don’t know if they previously painted the door with oil based paint and now your using water based right? the paint store can darken your primer if your going to a dark paint.

5. Sand it lightly again: After primer has dried, lightly and quickly sand down the door again to rough it up and then lightly dust it off.

6. Apply a thin coat of your paint: Now you’re ready to add your new paint.  I can’t not stress enough the thin coat thing. You’re almost just staining your door. Use a small amount of paint on your paintbrush and work it in lightly. Go only the direction of the grain at all times.

7. You’ll need another coat: Yes, you used a small amount of paint yet covered your complete door and now you”ll need another coat when that’s dry. And.. maybe even another coat after that. But be sure to lightly roughen up the each coat of paint with a fine sand paper so that the new coat will stick to it without peeling.

This sounds like it’s a lot but it’s really quit gratifying. I painted my front doors in Washington and I used way too much paint. This time I checked out my neighbor’s door that she had just freshly painted and saw that she didn’t gunk it up by using too much paint on each coat. That’s the key, it really is.

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Cake Decorating School

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I was buzzing around today and on The Nester’s site she has a little ad for this online Cake decorating school.

She charges $30 tuition for a year long school membership. I think I may give it a try. You know, if you make just one cake using her techniques, it’s probably worth it. Check out her site… Cake Decorating School (very cute!)

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A Rusty Start

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Today was the big day for the appliances to be installed in my new kitchen so I was pretty excited since we’re all done after that.

The guys got here at 7:30am and I had a new garbage disposal with counter top turn on switch (that’s the little circular push button switch that goes next to your faucet that turns the garbage disposal on. I love it because you don’t have to put your soapy or dirty hands on the wall to turn on the disposal)

plus I got a new soap dispenser, and faucet and then reinstalling the oven, refrigerator, and microwave oven.

Then, put the breaks on…  The dishwasher was in the garage for the last 1-1/2 years so we hadn’t looked it over until today. It was rusted out and in really bad shape. So I ran to Fry’s and we installed this Samsung beauty.

Then the kitchen was done!!! … Well not so fast. It couldn’t be that easy, right?.  I was working away, getting ready for my second garage sale in a week and came out to check on my girls and what!?!?!?!  The refrigerator leaked all over my floor and brand new baseboards. Now, I’ve spent the last 2 hours looking for a new refrigerator online.

Tomorrow I’ll post photos of the new kitchen so far minus the new refrigerator. The new frig will have to save for the day after that… Hopefully.

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Granite Installation

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The day has come…. It’s morning, everything’s quite, and soon they’ll be here installing the granite.

Here’s the truck. right away they start unloading the granite for the island!

The island was super heavy (one piece) and it goes on with a lot of sweat and determination…

It took about 5 hours to install all the granite:  glue it, caulk it, clean it, and then seal it

Here’s a look at the edge detail (ogee with a rounded straight edge)

On Tuesday the contractor will come back and install the cook top, oven, faucet, etc. Wow, this is just like HGTV!

Tomorrow I’m having a huge garage sale with my neighbors. If you can make it to LA Costa Valley, Carlsbad please join us!

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On The Edge

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I think people like granite best when the edges are doubled and it makes the stone look much thicker from the side than it really is. Check out my kitchen in Seattle. They didn’t double my ogee edge did they?

2 years ago when I remodeled my kitchen in Seattle,  I asked for an ogee edge and that’s just what they gave me. They didn’t ask any further questions like: Do you want a bullnose, straight or another ogee cut for the bottom piece? Hum… And I didn’t know to ask.

This is crucial because that extra piece at the bottom of the edge gives the stone it’s “bigness of quality”

Here are the various edges to choose from and when you choose one make sure you really choose “two” – stacked.

This is the edge I choose. Well, kind of. I had a chance to think it over and wanted to change my mind the next day but they already cute the stone.I would have choose this one (third down on the farthest right)

Another quick note. Not to be a control freak but a good idea is to go when they’re placing the templates onto the stone so you can help place the cutouts. I wanted my island to be the lightest so I helped them place the template right where I wanted it on the stone. There were some variations in the stone that I didn’t like and I was able to avoid those lines and have them cut outside of those lines. If you leave it up to them, you will probably be surprised by the strange variations of color and then you can’t do anything to change it. Does this make sense?  Please comment if you have any questions.

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Rock My World

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The cabinets are in, the handles are on and now it’s time for granite.

I’ve been looking in the San Diego area  for granite. I want granite but can’t afford the high end exotic stuff so I’m sticking with Venetian Gold. Very standard but with a nice ogee double edge it will look fantastic (I hope). My neighbor has Venetian Gold and I always copy everything she does. (just kidding Kimi). Really, I liked hers and the price too.

If you’re looking for granite in the San Diego area, boy are you in luck!  It’s everywhere and all very competitive. I went to:

Prefab Granite Depot in Vista had a small showroom. They boast their full kitchen installed for $6,599 in newspaper ads. The slabs were prefabs which means they already have a rounded edge and are polished and ready to go in. The prices were good but I have a feeling that the island would not match the already prefab’d counter tops (from a different rock). The styles were limited and the price was about $200 less (as long as you don’t do anything custom). If you have a small kitchen, like bull nose edges, and have no island this may be the way to go. But that didn’t work for me.

Bedrosians had a beautiful showroom in San Marcos with wonderful ideas and a small granite yard. The granite was the highest price point that I found in the San Marcos, Escondido, and Vista area.

Davis Stone has a small yard in Escondido with their focus mainly on installation. They had an amazing closeout deal on Venetian Gold slabs for $5 a sq. ft. I was about to jump on that deal until the quote came in -they over bid themselves on installation and lost my job.

Granix is a friendly place in San Marcos with the owner right there helping out. They were able to give me the 2 slabs I need for $7.50 sq. ft. Not $5 but the installer they referred me to was on the ball, highly motivated, and won my job with the best bid of all. She threw in an ogee edge and that sealed the deal. The installer’s name is Dalia with Stone Element. The job will be finished by the end of the week so I’ll let you know how it’s going as we go.

Here is the Venetian Gold granite (sample) sitting on my countertop. What do you think? Please leave a comment and let me know what you’re thinking of my kitchen so far. Would love to hear your comments or should a, would a, could a’s.

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Getting a handle on things

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If you’ve ever updated or remodeled a kitchen then you probably agree with me that the pulls and knobs are a pretty important part of the overall look. Outdated knobs can bring down a kitchen in one quick look. Seriously, I stressed more on the knobs than the wood stain color.

As always, I need instant gratification so ordering handles and waiting 2 weeks for delivery is just not my style so there I was a Home Depot 2 days before I needed the pulls for installation. Quickly I found Home Depot has a very tired supply of knobs so I zipped over to Lowes with my fingers crossed all there way there.

Surprisingly Lowes’ supply of knobs were not bad and best of all they have a giant bin of each handle. I needed 44 handles so soon I decided on 5 different options….

Then my neighbors came over and they all liked the rounded style of number 2 from the top. My husband and daughters agreed so that was that. What do you think, which one do you like best?

The cabinets are almost in so I’ll show you how the handles came out tomorrow but this is what they look like on one of my drawers…

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Forgive me for it’s been 2 weeks since my last obsession

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The cabinets are going in!  Who would of thought it only takes 3 days to install kitchen cabinets? They are cherry color but in my dream world I like to think of them as “teak”. It was super hard picking the cabinets because I was only given a 2″ catalog picture for samples but after many sleepless nights, I think we’re going to be happy with these.

These are really a cherry color but I see my computer is making them look like maple.

Pantry space :: Is there anything more important? I like things put away and not stuffed away. This was the first thing I drew out for my cabinet maker. He really came through for me and they will be wonderful. I had a number of people say “Isn’t that going to be too much pantry space?” My reply is Really? Is there such a thing?

As you may have seen, I took some time off and haven’t been blogging as much as usual. We have been here in San Diego for 3 weeks and though I’ve taken a little time to relax and watch my kids play at the beach

I had a very bad thing happen the first week of our trip. My Portuguese water dog Daisy that has been joined to my hip for the past 7 years died of a sudden heart attack. I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved her and what a big part of our family she was. She demanded much of our attention and we brought her everywhere we went. I feel I have to contribute a portion of this post to her. Daisy we love you. Rest in peace.

I’ll be back tomorrow to show you our choices for cabinet handles. Please help me pick the ones we should get!

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Is It Just Me? Or…

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Is it normal to see someone smoking a big fat cigar while sitting on a beach chair in the waves? Everyone down wind of him had the unfortunate opportunity to smell his residuals on this beautiful day that he’s enjoying.

Or, a man riding a bike ON the beach instead of at/to the beach?

Or, a man shaving his face at a public beach shower?  (I didn’t have my phone to take this photo, darn!)

Anyway, sorry for that short break from the remodel I just had to share the California hilarity.

Now, back to the remodel…

The painter rolled on all of the paint and it looks fabulous! These guys have been fast, clean, and true professionals at all aspects of this job. Thank you (Bill) Schaffer Construction!

The color here looks a little gold. It’s not gold at all. The photos isn’t WYSIWYG It’s more of a tan brown than a yellow gold. Let me know what you think!

Join us next week with more updates as they happen…

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DAY 2 :: Pottery Barn Paint Swatches

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I’m here in San Diego and Just the second day in on our kitchen remodel. We’re zooming right along at amazing speeds and here’s what’s going on right now, as I type…

The dry wall is up and they’ve textured the walls. They painted the ceiling (basic white) and now it’s time to pick the wall color

I saw 2 swatches I liked in the Pottery Barn packet of paint colors that they give away at their stores. It was between “hush” and “truffle”. The truffle was a bit dark and the hush was nothing more than dark white

So my neighbor (thanks Kimi) asked me to stop by and look at her living room color. It was perfecto! Right in the middle of the two swatches I had. The paint color is called crisp khaki This link is a little on the lighter side. It seems a bit warmer in Kimi’s house.

Well, tune in tomorrow and I’ll show you how it all came together on the walls. I can’t wait! Can you believe all this has been done in just 2 days?

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A Bitter Sweet Summer

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In a couple days we’re off to our house in Carlsbad, CA.

Many people living in Washington have had it with the rain, the clouds, the cold, but now that I’ve lived here for 3 years I still can’t get enough of it. Last night I went to bed with the calming sounds of rain drops on my roof. I know that sound brings cool-clean mornings, loads of flowers, green landscapes, and happy wildlife.

But we’ll be in Carlsbad for 2 months and although it will be hard to get out the door here, we’ll get right into the so-cal mode in no time a all. I’ll be remodeling our kitchen there so it’s not going to be an easy vacation.

The girls will have plenty of time to reconnect with their super great friends in the neighborhood.

We’ll go to the tide pools at “Table Tops” -that’s the surf spot name but if you’re not from the area you’d call it Sea Side – Cardiff Beach.

We’ll surf at Ponto Beach in Carlsbad and do a lot of walking with our Portuguese Water Dog at Dog Sh_ _ Beach (local slang name -it really isn’t dirty there) in Del Mar and also at Cardiff State Beach.

We’ll go to Free Flight in Del Mar. This place is right by Del Mar Fairgrounds and it’s kind of a birdy daycare that you can visit and play with the birds to help keep them happy. Super beautiful place to go!  There’s my daughter petting a sweetie pie.

We’ll drive up north 45 minutes and spend a day at Disneyland and probably hit a few favorite spots in Orange County and show the girls their old stomping ground from when they were babies.

But, there is something we’ll miss in California…

The fireworks!  This is a booth that’s up every year on Mercer Island that just blows my mind. I haven’t seen these great old fashion booths since the 70′s and the island sounds like a war zone on 4th of July. With the danger of fire in San Diego county, that will surely not happen in Carlsbad.

You know, no matter where you live, you settle in, love the people, and crave the food.

Please come back and join me starting June 23rd for my complete kitchen remodel. I’ll be looking for your comments with which direction I should go on color, materials, and style.

Next time you hear from me I’ll be 1,300 miles away from Mercer Island, Washington for the summer. 

-Now that is what I mean by “bitter sweet”.

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I saw this porch :: Amazing

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I was just buzzing around and saw this blog from this wonderful women from Between Naps on the Porch. The most fantastic porch ever. It looks warm and cozy, cool and comfy, amazing. All of these things could be easily found at TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, or Ross. It’s just how you put it together. You could go more modern if you want just stay true to your own look and feel.

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Free Garage Sale Signs

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I’m having a huge garage sale this summer so I was inspired by The Nesters Garage Sale post (love her!) I made these signs for my sale so I thought I’d post them for you! Hope you’ll find them useful.  Just download and print…

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Make a Super Cute Apron

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I was scanning through the Blog Hop and saw this great and easy apron how-to from Kaysi at “Keep it Simple” I am sew going to do this with my Girl Scout troop!


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Blog Hop… Bee Inspired.

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Kitchen :: Back on Track

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Okay, the design is approved for the kitchen.

The kind of cabinets and door fronts have been chosen

instead of this…

We ended up choosing this

It’s a cross between a shaker style cabinet and a beveled edge style. We felt this was more interesting than a shaker since we already have shaker here in Seattle and the extra detail will look good with the cherry stain.

This is the inspiration for the color of our cabinets (It’s the Microsoft/Eddie Bauer building in Bellevue. I also like the granite color and am going to try and find that for my counter tops.

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Stress Balls

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Got Stress? Here’s an inexpensive way to make a stress ball that feels good and calms your senses. This is a great project for kids too!

You’ll need some nice size balloons, rice, and chop sticks

Then fill up the deflated balloon with rice and push down into the balloon using a chop stick. Try to keep any air out of the balloon because the effect will be a really neat texture when there’s no air in the balloon.

And there you go!

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What are you selling? -Mclinky

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I’ve added a McLinky question to my blog today!

I have a long time friend that I have worked with for years (she’s a printer and I’m a graphic designer) She goes to Hong Kong China every couple months and she wants to go into business with me. She said “think of a great idea, I’ll get it made and we’ll sell/rep it to stores!” …and then my mind went blank!  I am such a business girl, that’s what feeds my brain and what? … I go blank? I’ve had so many great ideas over the years and now I can’t think of one. What are you selling? I’m not asking to steel your idea (I promise) But, as a girl to a girl, I want to promote you! Show us what you do…

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Revised Kitchen Design

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My cabinet guy came back with the final drafts of the design that we put together. Now, I’m ready to sign the design and we’ll be on your way!  Stay tuned as this all comes together and I pick counter tops, paint and more!  Please leave me a comment if you have a good idea – I can use all the help I can get!

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Dear Cabinets, what should I do ?

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There is no harder part of a kitchen design than to pick the cabinets. I first wanted these…

Isn’t that beautiful? But, after they told me it would add over $1,400 to my budget I thought I better save my marriage and move to a more affordable selection. So at least, I thought I’ll take the color and put it on this cabinet…

With a square edge  instead of a beveled edge.

But these cabinets will have the color (cherry color) that the cabinets I love will have. You know I figure, when you have a new kitchen nobody ever walks in and says “oh but I don’t like the detail of the cabinets” Our house inside is pretty traditional so I figure a simple cabinet design with a nice stain and a granite counter top will all come together nicely in the end. Even if I’m on a tight budget, right?

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Kitchen Remodel:: Here we go again

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Two years ago we remodeled our kitchen here is in Seattle and I learned a lot. I learned that I love big lower drawers, I learned that I love a cookie sheet cabinet over my refrigerator, I learned I like LOTS of storage anywhere I can get it, and I learned I love a pull out spice rack. Now I’m remodeling our Carlsbad, CA house (on a small budget) Here was the original design that my cabinet builder came up with yesterday….kitchen layout, good kitchen design, designing a kitchen

This was a super great way to see the kitchen design and better understand how it will all look BEFORE they start. So from here I dropped it into Photoshop and tore it apart. My cabinet maker is so great and so understanding he was completely happy with this sort of communication.

So here’s the new design I came up with along with explanations to why I want, what I want.

One thing I wanted in the kitchen that I never had before was a BIG pantry. Somewhere to hide all that Costco stuff. Since there’s no room to put a pantry closet, I added just about a 1/2 wall of pantry space, a full 74″ of pantry.

Then, big pull out drawers. No more digging back behind a cabinet for pots and pans and no more paying to have pull out shelves put in. Cut out the middle man and go straight for the drawers, and yes, BIG drawers these are 42″ drawers.

You see those 3 drawers on the right of the sink? Those will actually be a cabinet with a pull out garbage and recycle. That was a suggestion from my cabinet guy and it’s a great one.

The island on the side facing the oven is all about pots. BIG Pull out drawers for pots is the best thing since fire. Trust me, if you’re designing a kitchen, do this!

This is the part that is still in progress. I know I want a microwave drawer here but for now I have a brand new microwave fan that goes over the oven. I don’t want to spend the extra money at this point to buy a oven hood fan so I’m going to put the overhead microwave back in. But someday, I want to hood that area and then I’ll put a pull out microwave in the island. So I’m keeping a spot there for it.

This area is also where I’m putting the pull out spice rack. After that, I’m unsure of the space I have left and how everything will fit. So I’ll post the new design when we get that figured out today.

I haven’t picked the counter tops yet so don’t think they’re going to be green and the cabinet color will be cherry but I haven’t picked the stain yet either. Yiks! So much to do…

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Kitchen Remodel :: coming soon!

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We live in Seattle but we have a second home in Carlsbad, CA (San Diego county) We’ve had water issues and moisture so we have to remodel our kitchen there. I’ll be there this summer from June 22 until August 22 to oversee the project. right now I’m picking cabinets, counter tops, and paint. I hope you’ll watch this progress as it unfolds this summer. Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

Leading up to this remodel, I’ll be posting my purchases and questions. Please, I hope you’ll comment and give me advice about everything!  So, to be continued …

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Crazy Hair Day

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bird nest hairdo, crazy hair day ideas, bee hive hair

Does your kids’ school have crazy hair day?  This is a great idea that really got a lot of laughs and my daughters loved it! Just go to Michael’s and pick-up a nest, eggs, and bird for around $7 total or better, you may have these things around your house. Glue gun the bird and eggs securely inside the nest. Make a high twisting bun and bobby pin it in.  Super cute idea. Give it a try!

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Don’t be afraid to cut back

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cutting back your bushes, pruning your bushes

Last year I thought I blew it. Here in Washington, a lot of people have overgrown bushes in their yard. I was so sick of that look so I went bananas cutting back my side yard until it was seriously like a stubby desert. My neighbors thought it was the strangest thing they’d ever seen. All these shrubs here were about 2 1/2 feet high. And now look!  They grew back and are healthier than ever before. Really, I thought I killed everything. I went out and looked at it yesterday and I was so happy!

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Free :: Happy Anniversary Card

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I made this cute card for my friend that’s celebrating her 5 year wedding anniversary. I thought I’d upload it for you in case you want to print it and send it to someone too. Click here to get the pdf.

download free cards, free anniversary card

Just cut along the gray line and fold.

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A Cozy Home

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chickadee house

Our dear friends from San Diego visited us last summer. Soon after they left we got a package from them in the mail. It was this great bird house they handmade specially for CHICKADEES.

It’s really easy to make your backyard into a cozy retreat for animals just have food available for birds, nectar for hummingbirds, water, places to hide, places to nest, and that’s really it.

I’ve completed an application to have my backyard registered with the National Wildlife Federation as a certified wildlife habitat.

Do you see her sitting in her nest? You can see her white mask. So sweet!


Oh, and that’s my silly steller’s jay watching over the bird house and waiting for his morning walnuts.

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An empty canvas

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I have this canvas that I keep around and when I get that itch to relax and do something creative I just repaint it.

This same canvas has been painted rustic red, it’s been painted with chalk board paint and then has had various messages on it, now for my latest creation I simply painted an abstract sunset. Don’t be afraid to paint over it over and over, don’t be afraid that you’ll mess it up. Just relax and paint, whenever you feel the urge. I got this canvas at a Aaron Brothers one cent sale.

If you feel like you just haven’t created what you want, just leave it in the garage and get it back out when you’re ready. Someday, you’ll be ready.

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Honey Bees

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Our neighbor’s friendly swarm of bees was collected tonight by a Woodinville beekeeper who will take them to a new hive at his property.

He explained that when a hive is successful, the queen decamps with about half the population.  The new group swarms around the queen in a convenient place (within about 150 feet of the original hive) while scouts search the area for a new home.  The swarm was keeping the queen warm: beekeeper said it is about 75-80 degrees inside (It’s in the 40′s here outside)

About half the time in the suburbs, the scouts choose a house for the new hive — and then the hive and bees become a problem and are destroyed…So it seemed a good idea to get these valuable guys a safe home of their own.  These bees are almost all females, with a queen somewhere in the middle of the crowd and a few drones and scouts accompanying.

So somewhere around our block is a successful operating hive — beekeeper says likely in one of the maple or fir trees, hopefully not in someone’s house.



He estimated that there were 8-10,000 bees in our swarm.  The cold weather was slowing their search, and continued cold or a rainstorm would have put them at risk.

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The secret about waffles

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Did you know you don’t need a waffle mix to make great waffles?

You know how much money I spent on waffle mixes over the year?

As long as you have flour, eggs and baking powder you can put anything else in the recipe that you want.

I don’t even measure!  Just put in about a cup of flour (I use whole wheat) about a teaspoon of baking powder and eggs (or egg beaters) I use like half or more of the pint size container of egg beaters.

Then I add chocolate chips, blueberries, flax seed, cinnamon, vanilla, walnuts. Sometimes I add dried cranberries… Whatever, just make a huge unmeasured mess, mix it up and throw it in the waffle maker. It’s amazing and my family loves them. Oh yeah, and another tip: Use Agave instead of syrup. It has a much lower GI load than syrup. Also Costco has cold milled golden omega flaxseed for added omega 3′s and fiber. This makes the waffles super light and almost crunchy on the outside. Yum!

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Kool-Aid® Play Dough

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I was in line at the grocery store yesterday and the cashier was talking with another mom about this recipe. What a fun, safe, cheap, and easy rainy day project. Enjoy! (Wait, is it only raining in Seattle?)

Kool-Aid® Play Dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 package unsweetened Kool-Aid
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water

Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and Kool-Aid® in a medium pot. Add water and oil. Stir over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes. When mixture forms a ball in pot, remove. Knead until smooth. Put in a plastic bag and refrigerate.

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Making a chalkboard

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“I can make that”  -That’s what I say every time I see something in the store that’s cute. This is a chalkboard I made out of this metal picture I found at Ross. It had a super ugly pink rose painted on it and it was marked way down in the clearance section. I just masked off the flat inside area and sprayed it with chalkboard paint. It’s not perfect but it’s really not meant to be. It hangs in my kitchen and my daughters keeps their crazy schedules on it.  I love it. What have you made that you love? … Leave a comment.

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What is it about eating outside

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Yes I know, it rains a lot in Seattle. I was in denial about that for awhile… “It’s really just a misty rain” I would tell my friends from San Diego. But, when you want to sit outside for dinner rain is just plain old rain and you can’t sit and eat in it. So this weekend was just beautiful. We had turkey burgers for dinner and sat outside. Why is it that sitting outside with your family makes dinner just more special? It really was. Now I have to run out and put the cover back on my table because it’s going to rain tonight through the rest of the week. Spring in Seattle -short and sweet.

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13… The new 18.

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Tomorrow my daughter turns 13. It seems everyone thinks she’s an adult now. No wonder teenagers seemed to be bored, in trouble, curious about things they shouldn’t be curious about quite yet.  Everything “kid” stops when you’re 13…. Camps, events, kids menus.

I see her eyes get sad when everything fun and carefree is more available for her younger sister.

Today is the last day she’ll be 12 so we’re going out tonight and I’m going to make sure she gets the kids menu and you know what, if she wants to, I’ll make sure she gets the kids menu until she’s 18.

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Mom’s Day Giveaway

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Gotta love the “Tip Junkie” she’s a huge supporter of women and their creative businesses. She networks with moms to help them promote their business and does a great job of it. Here’s a great way to learn about a bunch of these moms all in one spot and maybe even pick up something free!

Click here to go to Tip Junkie’s site…

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Super Sweet -No Knit Sweaters

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Oh man, these are just off the charts cute! These were made by a girl named Sarah Rosensweet I am dying to do this. Have you tried it? If you have please leave a comment and I’ll link your work. Here’s where you can get the stuff to make it (don’t buy the machine, I don’t think you need it). Let me know how you did, maybe I’ll skip the steps and just buy from you!

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Write it down, great free fonts.

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I just adore this husband and wife team for their great gift. My friend Leslie stumbled upon their site and I wanted to share it with you. After you download her great handwritten fonts, check out her blog too. Super interesting.  Just click here to see her site.

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This is for your kids…

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I created the website FreeBeeGamz.com to help kids safely find “mom-approved” online games. I hope you’ll show this site to your kids instead of letting them search for online games themselves. I’ve checked out these games personally to make sure they’re not too violent. My kids have it as their home page so they can go right to the games they love and I like.

Let me know if you’d like to see any changes on the site.

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Mouse Cookies

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mice, mouse, cookieHere’s a cute little cookie that my kids made  (thanks to an idea from our neighbor)

Take a vanilla wafer
Cover with white frosting and then press into frosting:
2 Necco candy ears and a thin licorice or fruit roll-up tail (cut thin)
2 eyes and a nose with mini m&m’s
last, press on shredded coconut for fur.

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Family Organizational Form – Busy Mom to do list

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Hey do you want a free organizational chart to use for your family? Simply click on the form on the right, download it and poof,
you’re organized!

Wanna Save Paper? You can laminate it and then use a dry erase pen on it over and over.

Family To Do List

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Get Free Stuff!

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Tip Junkie will be hosting a giveaway every hour on her blog – April 13th from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm (CST).  Which will total over $6,000 worth of products given away in one day!

Yep that’s right it’s going to be an entire day of FREE products from Tip Junkie Mom-preneurs.  Everything will be over $50.00.  Good Luck!

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Mall Mission!

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My daughter turned 13 in April so we put together a great idea for her party. It’s a “Mall Mission” scavenger hunt!  Check out the invitation.  When we got to the mall we past out the pink sheet, plus a small pencil to check off their items as they collect them. I think it’s going to be a blast.

If you like the idea feel free to use it!  -Happy Birthday!



Here’s a generic “mall mission” (scavenger hunt) invitation and check off list that you can use redesign as needed. My daughter and her friends had so much fun at this party. I know you’ll have a blast too.

Here’s the invitation – you can add your own information to it

Click here for a blank Mall Mission Sheet

blank mall mission invite

Open with Adobe Acrobat -or it may show off center from your browser window.

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My Mantel in Spring

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Okay look. I know the artwork over my fireplace doesn’t exactly match the spring look on the mantel, but that big wood picture is heavy!  If I was like “The Nester” I would have moved all my furniture, painted something, and staged a complete new look just for spring.  Gotta love her! By the way, you can learn how to make that cute little cube photo frame to go on your mantel -just click on that link.   As for MY mantel… there’s plenty of room for change.how to decorate your mantel

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Free Food Journal

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The age old question… “What did I eat today?” You know it, Oprah said it, so now we better do it – FILL OUT A DAILY FOOD JOURNAL. (sorry, did I yell) I’m such a muncher and it’s really hard to keep track of when to say “that’s probably about enough for today.”

So, print off this Food Journal, laminate it and use it everyday. You can decide to use this two different ways: write in your plans before the day starts and just check off as you eat it (strict plan) or wing it (sounds like me) and write it down as you go. The only suggestion is to set in stone your weekly workout plan. (There’s no negotiating on that) Then just check it off as you do the workout.  Let me know how it goes… Cheers to your health!

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Lunch Box Notes

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I put a note in my kids’ lunch everyday. They love it and their friends get excited to see it too. They all pass it around after my child reads it first. It has become quite a sweet treat.

I’ve made it a simple FreeBee for you! print out these lunch box notes and more lunch box notes simply cut them on the grids, hide them away and put one in their lunch, pocket, or backpack everyday.

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Photo Cube

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If you have photoshop it’s simple to do. Just download this Freecube.jpg, drop your photos in the squares. cut it out on the lines and put it together by folding in the tabs. I don’t think you’ll have a problem and it’s a really cute little silly thing that you, your friends, or family will get a kick out of.

free photo frame cube

Free frame

Click on this cube illustration and then drag this cube template to your desktop or take a screen shot of it and open it in Photoshop.

Place your photos in the squares, print it out, cut it out and then fold at the lines and put the tabs in and then tape.

Another great idea is to send it to the Aunts, Uncles, or grandparents after you print it and cut it out and have them put it together, like a puzzle. My mother-in-law was able to do it quickly and she loves it.

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Designing, cleaning, updating…

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Welcome to and so sorry for the mess!  I’ve been updating my site and It’s been crazy around the hive. Soon I’ll have lots of information and FreeBees for your home. Please check back soon!

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