Life Love Larson: May 2012


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Large Chalkboard Door

In our old house, I had turned an old cabinet door into a chalkboard for our kitchen.  You can see those posts here and here.  I have made so many of these between gifts for people and selling them in the vendor booth.  They are so easy and make a big impact.

In our new kitchen, I wanted something a little more substantial in size.  I had a large cabinet door sitting in my garage and knew it would be the perfect scale.  This door was purchased at the Habitat for Humanity Restore ($3).  I painted the interior with chalkboard paint and decided to go with our trim color for the edges, a creamy white.  After a few coats and a little distressing, this is how it turned out.


I lived with it for a few weeks and decided it just wasn’t doing anything for me.  It was just very blah.  I wanted to go with something a little more bold to pop against the light blue/grey walls.  I ended up going with the same paint color I chose for the $5 side table project, which I love.


I also had Steve add a brass pull to the bottom as a place holder for the chalk.  I am completely obsessed with antique brass right now.  This particular pull is from the Martha Stewart Collection sold at Home Deport ($4).


For under $10, I have a large scale piece (and color) brightening up my kitchen!  Here is a before and after.



I think some people are probably sick of all the chalkboard stuff that goes around the blog world, but in my world, chalkboards will never get old. I think they are classic and I will always have one in my home!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Carrot Bars w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

It was Steve’s 33rd birthday last week, so I wanted to make some treats for him to take to work.  I know he is 33 (and not 3), but I still like to send treats on his birthday!  My mom was always sending treats to work with my dad, and so I guess it stuck with me…
Steve’s favorite are my mom’s homemade carrot bars with homemade cream cheese frosting.  This recipe makes a lot of  bars, so perfect for sending to an office. 
Carrot Bars4 eggs (beaten)
2 cups sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
1.5 cups oil (I use 1 cup canola oil and 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 cups flour
3 jars baby food (carrots)

Mix all ingredients together in order.  Bake in (2) 9x13 pans or 1 jelly roll pan.  The picture above is in a large jelly roll pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Important: Cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting2 1/3 cups powdered sugar
5 1/3 T. butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Mix ingredients and frost bars. 
Steve said the bars were gone in a matter of minutes!  Happy 33rd, honey!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dining Room Progress

In three previous homes, we always had a formal dining room space.  However, in our first house, the dining room was the “dog room”, in the second house (where are kids were born and learned to crawl, walk) the dining room was the “kid room”, and in our last house the dining room was the “storage room”.

In this house, I have claimed the entire first floor as adult living space and the dining room is getting done!  First up, the table.  We had been on the hunt.  So much pressure to get it right with a dining table/chairs.  It has taken me ten years to get a dining room and I will probably have the table/chairs for at least another ten (and I am not good with making quick decisions).  I knew right away that I did not want the table and chairs to match, as in no “sets”.  I wanted eclectic, yet classic.

Then, a few months ago my mom calls from West Elm in Chicago and says there is a great deal on a table that they are discontinuing.  After about 5 minutes of deliberation and going to view the table online, I had her snatch it up.  A matte black dining table that seats 8 for $125.00!!!!  I love the table and how can you beat the price?


A huge thank you to my parents for finding it, picking it up, hauling it to my sister’s house in Iowa to meet, and loading it in my car to drive back to KC.  It was all worth it for the amazing price tag!  After sitting alone in our dining room, we have finally ordered chairs for the table and purchased lighting (more to come on those).

A a reference, the dining room is to the right when you walk in the front door.  It has dark hardwoods, smokey blue/grey walls, and lots of trim around the windows. 


Still on the list of “to-do’s” (these lists never seem to end in my world):
1.  order a rug
2.  install light fixture
3.  find a large piece for the niche
4.  curtain panels
5.  style the table top

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

DIY Bird Feeders

Ever since the weather warmed up and the robins and other birds were out in full force, my kids had been asking to make bird feeders.  I found a simple idea via Mom Endeavors blog

Made out of tin cans and ribbon, you probably have everything you need right at home.  They were super simple and fun to make with the kids!


You will need a wooden dowel cut in small pieces, an can, spray paint, hot glue, ribbon, and bird seed.


We spray painted our cans white so they would stand out and painted our dowels pink and blue with acrylic paint.  Simply hot glue a ribbon around the can and cut a longer piece of ribbon to tie from the tree.  Fill with birdseed and hope the birdies come!





It took a few days, but our cans were soon discovered and quickly emptied!  Happy Spring!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos

I pinned a Bang Bang Shrimp recipe and made them a few days later.  They were delicious and I will definitely be making over and over again.  The original recipe is to be eaten as an appetizer, but I threw the shrimp inside corn tortillas!  Yum!
Don’t let some of the ingredients scare you off. I found everything I needed at Walmart.
Bang Bang Shrimp (original pin and recipe via
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
For the sauce: 1/2 cup mayonnaise
4-5 teaspoons chili garlic sauce, such as Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

For the egg mixture:

1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk

For the breading mixture:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl; cover and set aside.
Combine beaten egg with milk in shallow bowl and set aside.
Combine flour, panko, salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and basil in another shallow bowl; set aside.
Bread the shrimp with bread mixture, then egg, then bread mix again.  Arrange dipped shrimp on a plate and place in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. 
Heat vegetable oil and fry shrimp 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. When all shrimp has been fried, drop the shrimp into a large bowl. Spoon desired amount of sauce over shrimp and stir gently to coat.
Lightly fry up some corn tortillas and top with your choice of items.   I used cilantro and green onions to garnish mine.
Delicious flavor with a little kick!  You must try them!
Monday, May 7, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

These are NOT healthy, but you will have fun making and eating them with your kids! 

Drew has afternoon preschool a few days a week, so most mornings we lay low and hang out.  I am trying to enjoy these quiet mornings while both kids are at home.  I am also trying to sprinkle in some fun breakfasts here and there.


You will need butter, refrigerated biscuits, cinnamon, sugar, and oil.


Hollow the center and shape each biscuit until it starts to look like a donut (ours were far from perfect)!


Heat your oil and brown on both sides.


Place on plate with paper towel.  Melt butter, dip donut in butter, cover with cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Besides eating, this is the most fun for the kids!


These were really tasty (obviously) and really easy.  The kids loved them and we will be making them again soon!


You can find the original pin and inspiration for these at

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Pinterest Tip Put to the Test

I saw a tip on Pinterest that I knew I wanted to try.  I had a bunch of white towels that were in great shape, but over time they were getting a bad smell after just one use.  I was just about to buy all new, but tried this tip first.

To my amazement, these towels have a whole new lease on life after washing with a little vinegar and baking soda! 

1.  Wash towels on HOT with one cup vinegar.


2.  Leave towels in washer and wash again on HOT with 1/2 cup baking soda.


Dry as usual.  You will see a difference immediately.  My husband has even commented on how well it worked! 

Pinterest just saved me a little money!  Love!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

“Weathered” Terra Cotta

I had a conversation with a friend today about indoor plants, and I realized I had never blogged about a terra cotta pot I painted a few months back.  They are inexpensive, functional, come in several different sizes, easily transformed, and also look great as is. 

I read somewhere that you could make a terra cotta pot look old and weathered by rubbing a candle all over it and then dry brushing with paint.  I gave it a shot and love the look!


This project takes about 5 minutes.  I used an old candle, a paint brush, and some blue/grey paint samples.  FYI - thrift stores are excellent places to find terra cotta pots, or any pots for that matter.


The key is to not use a lot of paint.  Keep the brush really dry and keep adding layers of paint until you achieve the look you like.  I used a few different shades of blue and grey to give it some dimension.


I don’t know that it really looks old and weathered, but I love how it turned out. I have it on our built-in buffet for an added touch of color against the dark wood.


The coral indoor/outdoor begonia is from Trader Joe’s!

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