Life Love Larson: January 2013

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade Chai Tea Latte

I love my morning coffee.  Coffee makes me happy to get out of bed in the morning.  I always make it at home with a little hazelnut creamer.  Since I stopped drinking soda, I have been making a cup of hot tea in the afternoon (for a little pick me up).  I love Starbucks as much as the next person, but it is a treat for me.  I think it’s such a rip to spend $5 on a hot drink every day. 

I was at Walmart recently, perusing the tea/coffee aisle, and found a chai tea latte concentrate.  You simply add equal parts chai concentrate and milk, and heat up.  It’s so good!  A nice, hot treat at home!  I decided to use vanilla almond milk to add a little sweetness.

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I found that using 3/4 cup of each works perfectly for this size of mug.  Microwave for 2 minutes.

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If only I could make myself start drinking more water! I’m so bad about that!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DIY Valentine Wreath

I was so happy to finally take down my Christmas/winter wreath.  Something about changing that out makes me feel a little closer to spring (even though I know we have a long way to go)!  I found a heart wreath form in my stash that I had picked up at Goodwill a few years back (1.99 tag still attached).  I was looking around at Hobby Lobby and decided I would wrap the wreath in ruffle trim.  In bright pink.
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I underestimated how much trim it would actually take to wrap this thing.  I bought just shy of 6 yards and it wasn’t enough, so I had to improvise. 
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I decided to cut small strips and pin them to the back to try to utilize every little piece of trim.  If you try this, just get enough trim to wrap the whole thing!  I was being lazy and didn’t want to go back to the store!
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I then wrapped some white satin trim at the top for a little contrast and tied it up with some pink/white striped ribbon I already had on hand.  The trim is 2.49/yard, but I used a 40% off coupon.  This wreath cost be about $10 to make.
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I think it looks fun and festive against our painted blue door!  Can you believe it is almost February?!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DIY No-Sew Window Valance (Using Tension Rods)

When I blogged about the DIY Pom Garland, a few of you inquired about my chevron valance.  This is such an easy DIY project if you are looking to bring a little color/pattern to a kitchen window without blocking out the natural light.
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This is simply a small piece of fabric cut to the width of the window.  You can choose how long or short you want the valance to hang down.  In my case, this is the only window in my kitchen, so it was important to keep it as open as possible. 
Next, you will need to use a no-sew bonding agent and an iron to seal the sides of the valance.
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For the top and bottom, you will need to keep enough space open to insert a small tension rod.  You will want to create a little rod pocket.
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Once everything has been “no-sewed” into place, slide your tension rods on the top and bottom of the valance and insert inside your window frame.  You can purchase cheap tension rods anywhere….Target, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, etc.  You won’t see them, so it doesn’t matter how ugly they are!
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I purchased one yard of fabric at Hobby Lobby for $5, and I was able to make this valance, a no-sew pillow, and use as a cover for the DIY Headband Storage.  I will probably change the fabric on this valance often simply because it’s cheap and easy to do (and I have unreasonable urges to change things up in my house)!
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Monday, January 21, 2013

How to Store Legos

I was in a mood yesterday, specifically about the Legos taking over Drew’s room.  So, I dumped them all in the middle of his room in a sort of “shock and awe” moment.  I then told him that all Legos would be sorted today and he would be helping me.  Insert a 5-year old jaw drop now. 
We have acquired a lot an insane amount of Legos over the course of 5 years.  If you know us, and you might ever purchase a gift for my child in the future, please take Legos off your list!  NO MORE!  I also dumped all clothes out of his drawers (see the pile in the back corner) in my fit of rage trying to gain some order. 
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I get Legos.  I completely get it.  I know Drew has gained invaluable skills from playing with Legos and I am completely happy that he will sit and play with them for hours and rebuild and tear down and rebuild.  I also know he will continue to play with these for years to come so they are the gift that keeps on giving.  I get it and I support it. What I don’t get (or support)is how difficult it is to keep them all in check!!!!! 
We keep all Legos in Drew’s room because he wakes up and plays with them, plays with them at quiet time in the afternoon, and he likes to keep them in “his” space, away from the neutral toy room :).  We are currently thinking of a long term solution for a Lego table and shelves to store some of his creations.  For now, I just want them sorted.  I want every little yellow head and mini sword and little box legs to have a spot to call their own.  I don’t sound angry about this at all, do I??!!
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Based on what we currently have, here is the shake down of bins:
1.  Red, yellow, blue pieces
2.  Knights
3.  Gray, black, brown pieces
4.  Wheels, steering wheels, and motorcycles
5.  Star Wars
6.  Miscellaneous heads, bodies, hair, hats
7.  Ninjago Ship
8.  White and green pieces
9.  Ninjago
10. Instruction manuals
11. Miscellaneous pieces:  all leftover pieces that don’t have a specific place
12. Ninjago Vehicle
13. Star Wars Vehicles
It is amazing how consolidated these little guys can become. The red and green bins go in the white IKEA storage bin you see in the top picture.  I would so recommend this if you are in need of something.  The top acts as a play space on which to build.  The clear plastic bins have lids and get stacked in Drew’s closet. 
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/series/19027/
TROFAST frame, white Width: 39 " Depth: 17 3/8 " Height: 21 5/8 " Width: 99 cm Depth: 44 cm Height: 55 cm
TROFAST storage box, green Length: 16 ½ " Width: 11 ¾ " Height: 4 " Length: 42 cm Width: 30 cm Height: 10 cm
Drew was so happy and proud that this got done yesterday.  Hopefully he will be more responsible with keeping them organized since he helped make it happen.  He knows that I will start taking Legos away if he doesn’t!  Stay tuned for future storage in his room.  Hoping to make his small room as functional and age appropriate as possible.
How’s that for a Monday morning Lego rant?  I know you feel my pain if you have a Lego lover in your house!  Have a great week!
Friday, January 18, 2013

Changing A Home Humidifier Pad

This week, I had an HVAC guy out looking at our heater as part of some warranty work we are having done.  He opened up our home humidifier box (which holds a filter pad) and he discovered it had mold growing on it!  We knew we had humidity control in our house.  This looks like a thermostat and should be located near your furnace.  It has a dial on it so you can determine the amount of humidity you want in your home.  We recently had water droplets on the inside of our windows, so we knew we needed to turn the humidity levels down (not sure if these are found in southern homes or not).

We DID NOT KNOW there was a box located just below the dial that holds a filter pad that needs to be changed at least once a year!  This was the first we had ever heard of this, which is why I am sharing this information.  You must go look and see if you have this in your home and if so, go replace your pad immediately!!

I purchased this one at Home Depot for about $10.  The guy told me I needed a #35 (be sure to look on the side of the model you own so you know what size to get).  Our humidifier is not Honeywell brand, but the sizes must come pretty standard.
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These photos were taken in our dark, unfinished basement, so I had to use a flash and they are terrible, but you get the idea.  Here is what the humidity control dial looks like (white box) as well as the box that holds the filter (gray box).
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Pull off the front of the gray box and you will see the filter.  Here is a picture of the moldy filter (we have only lived in our house for one year).  The new filter is stark white, so this is pretty gross!
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You need to unplug the hose at the top and remove the filter (this will have a black plastic case around it).  Insert the new filter, place back in the box, and insert the hose again.  Ah, maybe we will all breathe a little better now!  While you are at it, you might as well check to see if your air filter needs changed too!
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I am so glad I had the HVAC guy out here.  We would have been breathing mold in for months/years to come if I hadn’t learned this information!  This is our 4th home and this information was new to us.  Maybe our other homes didn’t have home humidifiers because we lived in the south, and maybe everyone else knows about this and we are the ignorant ones, but I wanted to pass along this information just in case (especially to all my neighbors who read)! 
Cheers to breathing easy!  I have already made a note in my planner to change this again in October, before we start to run our heat again. 
Curious to know if anyone else was in the dark about this?
Thursday, January 17, 2013

DIY Headband Storage

Lately, Kate is wearing fewer and fewer bows (much to my dismay), and more and more headbands.  I needed some storage for the growing collection!  There are several tutorials and versions of this on Pinterest, and it really is such an easy project.  Best part…this project cost me $0, because I already had everything on hand!
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These are the supplies I used: Mod Podge, fabric, empty oatmeal container, hot glue, and spray paint (for the lid).  Start off my wiping out the inside of the oatmeal container and ripping off the label.
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I used a piece of left over chevron fabric from my stash that was the perfect size (although the pattern is turned on its side).  You just want enough fabric to cover the cylinder with a little extra on each side to glue on the inside of the container.
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I used the Mod Podge as a glue.  Put a thin layer on the container and smooth down the fabric until it starts to adhere.  Work in small sections to make sure you fabric is even on both sides.
When you get to the end, tuck the extra fabric under and hot glue (sort of like wrapping a gift).
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Once the base is done, you will want to hot glue the extra fabric to the top and bottom of the container. 
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This is what it looks like once the fabric is adhered to the container. 
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Now, you will want to take your Mod Podge and apply a thin layer over the fabric.  This sets it and gives it a hard coating.  Don’t worry, it will dry clear.
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Let this sit overnight and it will be ready for use in the morning!  You could also use the inside of the container for storage. 
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I decided to go ahead and spray paint the lid of the oatmeal container too.
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One of these days I will get around to embellishing the plain headbands, but for now, she can wear these and a winter hat, so it works for me!  I love the extra pattern and color it will add to her bedroom too!
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter & Honey Dog Treats

As I have mentioned a few times, our Great Dane, Samson, is having some medical issues.  We are doing our very best to spoil him rotten.  He has been losing weight over the course of several weeks, so we have been trying to mix in healthy fats in his diet (puppy food is good for this too as it contains additional fat).  I have had this dog treat recipe sitting in a drawer and finally gave it a try.  Samson has been happily enjoying these for several days now!
dog treats
You can quickly make these with a few ingredients you have on hand.  Store them in a paper bag and they will last several days!
Peanut Butter & Honey Drops (for dogs)3/4 cup flour
1 egg
1 T. honey
1 t. peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 t. vanilla

Melt honey and peanut butter in microwave until runny.  Mix in remaining ingredients and drop on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. * I use a melon baller to get the drops the same size.  I also have a large dog with a large mouth.  For smaller dogs, simply roll into tiny drops and lessen the cooking time so they don’t burn.  The pictures below show two batches. 
Treat your furry friend!  They will thank you!

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I made homemade 2-ingredient dog treats this summer.  Dog people love their dogs, which I love.  This was a very popular post this summer!  You can find that post here

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Buffalo Chicken & Potato Casserole

Sorry, I know it is the beginning of a new year, and resolutions are abound.  I’m the bad guy who is going to share a loaded casserole recipe that will make you want to cheat on your healthy eating!! 
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I pinned this recipe a long time ago and finally tried it a few weeks back.  It makes a lot and is satisfying.  We are on board if a recipe calls for bacon and buffalo sauce!
Buffalo Chicken & Potato Casserole2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8-10 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I leave the skin on)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. freshly ground pepper
1 TBS. paprika
2 TBS. garlic powder
6 TBS. hot sauce (I used Franks)
Topping:
2 c. Cheese (I used a Fiesta blend)
1 c. crumbled bacon (I used fully cooked)
1 c diced green onion
Preheat oven to 500 degress (hot, hot, hot).  In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder & hot sauce. Add the cubed potatoes and stir to coat. Scoop the potatoes into a cooking spray coated baking dish, leaving behind as much of the olive oil/hot sauce mix as possible. Bake the potatoes for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes, until cooked through and crispy & browned on the outside.
While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the leftover olive oil/hot sauce mix and stir to coat. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 400F. Top the cooked potatoes with the raw marinated chicken. In a bowl mix together the cheese, bacon & green onion and top the raw chicken with the cheese mix. Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is bubbly delicious. Serve with extra hot sauce and/or ranch dressing.
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I have found it is much easier to keep some fully cooked bacon on hand to use in recipes and/or salads calling for bacon crumbles.  You can have this done in minutes (in the micro) and it tastes good mixed in with other things.  I would continue with regular uncooked bacon if you are going to eat straight up with eggs, etc.  For a quick shortcut, this is the way to go…
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The original source for this recipe can be found at http://cooklisacook.blogspot.ca/2012/03/loaded-potato-buffalo-chicken-casserole.html.
I have zero willpower when it comes to food/drink, so the gym and I have a love/hate relationship!  :)


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cleaning a Stainless Steel Sink

I pinned a few different tutorials on how to clean a stainless steel sink, without ever looking at the direct link.  Today, I searched those pins and I ended up not having all the necessary items to accomplish this task (lemon juice, baby oil).  So, I googled this topic and the first one I came across only required two items:  baking soda and vinegar.  Sold!  Let’s do this!
Here is a shot of what our sink was doing before the deep cleaning (one year old).  Of course, I clean the sink, but have never done a deep cleaning of the stainless.  You can see the discoloration below.
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Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY Map Ornament

I am sure you are so over Christmas posts, but I have to get these done!  Better late than never, right!?  I hosted a little neighborhood get together in December and we decided to do an ornament exchange.  Of course, I wanted to try something new!  I saw an image on Pinterest of a map ornament, and decided to give it a try. 
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Easy Christmas Light Storage

If you follow me on Instagram (@amlarson3), you saw that we finally got our Christmas lights organized while taking everything down this year.  Not sure why we always tried to shove them back in the box or wound them up and threw them in a bin.  We got smart this year.  Cut out a small piece of cardboard and start winding. One strand of lights per one piece of cardboard.  Genius.  Free.  Why.did.I.not.think.of.this.before.
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to Clean a Chalkboard Wall

I’m absolutely loving my chalkboard wall!  Everyone that comes over notices it right away and I love changing up the words every month or so.  My kids don’t play at it, so the mess is pretty minimal.  The only thing that annoys me is that it is hard to clean!  I did a little research and read that people have used a vinegar/water solution and even Coke to clean chalk walls.  I also read that adding just a little dish soap to warm water could do the trick.
Here is the wall using just water and a soft cloth.  Terrible, right?
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

DIY Painted Apron

This happened back in October, but I have been hearing about New Year’s Chili Cook Offs, so I thought I would post!  Every year, our neighborhood holds a Halloween party and chili cook off.  This year, I was in charge of making a little something for the winner of the chili cook off.  I couldn’t spend a lot of money and I wanted to DIY something (this is all in good fun).  I couldn’t really find a lot of inspiration online, but I did come across some cute aprons for purchase.

After a trip to Hobby Lobby, very little time, and very little money, I made this apron for the winner.
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