Monday, December 24, 2012

Meg vs. The Bathroom: Paint Sneak Peek

I managed to throw two coats of paint on the bathroom walls before our Christmas trip began. I may or may not have gone to bed at 2am a couple of nights in a row. But I am really excited about the results!

We'll be back in action on the bathroom after the new year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Meg vs. Giveaways: Little Boston Print Shoppe

Head over to One Sheepish Girl to win a set of two pillows from Little Boston Print Shoppe! So darling. The giveaway ends on December 22.

p.s. I will post again soon, I promise. I have actually been busy working on things, so I will be glad I'm getting things done instead of mad I didn't post about it... I hope you will be too =)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals December 10-15

I did better this week, but we also all got sick this week (except for John, which was a blessing since he starts his exams today). Still, I'm happy with my progress.

December 3-8
*Touch up bathroom patching, prime the walls. Our friend came over and did an awesome job smoothing over the rough edges, but said he's going to come back and do more to make it even better. Can't complain about that, but I do have to wait to do the painting.
*Put closet door back up in nursery. I painted it and put the hinges on last week, but actually just hung it up this morning. Just a little late =).
*Touch up paint on bathroom door. I painted the door on the boys' room too!
*Do two Christmas activities with the kids. My mom made this easy with her advent gifts. More on that shortly.
*Pick up materials for Christmas projects. Ordered on Amazon. I had to go to Target and Costco on Thursday, and after that I was done dragging the boys around town for a while!

John finishes his exams on Thursday, so we are hoping to get a few more things done toward the end of the week. This depends on the boys getting over their current colds so we can sleep again! We shall see.

December 10-15
*Paint the remaining doors that need it.
*Install the rest of the new doorknobs.
*Do two Christmas activities with the kids.
*Put the vanity back in the bathroom.
*Get our house clean!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Meg vs. Dinner: More Pinned it, Did it Recipes

I cooked a lot earlier in the week, then ran out of steam; Thursday the kids and I split a piece of Costco pizza and a bag of Caesar salad. But we'll focus on the days I actually cooked:

I have made these green muffins a few times, and the kiddos are happy to gobble them up:

I don't use the nuts she recommends since I am not about to go buy them just to make muffins, so I have substituted the ground nuts for ground flaxseed, and left off the topping altogether. The muffins are just a little bit sweet and banana-ish, and you can't taste the spinach at all. They remind me of a really good bran muffin (not the dense, dry, not-so-good kind). These are a new staple around here.

Next up was spaghetti squash. I have been wanting to try it out for a while, and our favorite local produce market had them for $1 each, so I couldn't resist. I followed the instructions for this garlic and butter squash recipe, which was basically to poke some holes in it and cook for an hour at 375. It turned out a little bit crunchy, so my little guys wouldn't eat it (didn't believe me that they were noodles). I read one comment that suggested cooking it at 400 degrees for 60-90 minutes to avoid the crunchiness, so I will have to try that next time and see if I can sneak it into my toddlers' diet. Otherwise, I thought it was pretty tasty and not as difficult as I expected.

Lastly I made up these sweet potato parker rolls:

Hers are so pretty!

Of course I was lazy (I can't keep track of timing rises when I have three kiddies pulling at my pant leg!), so I dumped all of my ingredients in my breadmaker and set it on the dough cycle.

Half-way through, I realized one of the paddles had popped up and so it had only half mixed and kneaded, meaning I had to start the cycle over again. Even so, the dough seemed to rise just fine and the texture was good. So these are some fairly forgiving rolls (very important around here!). Here they are before baking:

And after:

I have to say that I was expecting them to be a bit sweeter than they are. I think they could have used a little sugar, but it could just have been the particular sweet potato that I had or the fact that I botched the whole mixing and rising process! They were tasty enough for me to polish off most of the pan within a couple of days. But they won't be my go-to rolls in the future (unless I happen to have a sweet potato that I can't use otherwise).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meg vs. Dessert: Pinned it, Did it Sugar Cookie Bars

John loves sugar cookies. He especially loves Lofthouse cookies. They are a bit too sugary for my taste, but I get in the mood for one every now and again. When I am feeling energetic I love to make up a batch of Sue's sugar cookies, but it is definitely a lot of effort to roll, cut, bake, and decorate them. When I saw these sugar cookie bars from High Heels & Grills that purportedly taste like Lofthouse, I knew it was meant to be for us.

I told John I was making him a treat, but didn't tell him what it was. He was very excited when I produced these bad boys.

Sugary, Christmasy goodness. They do taste like Lofthouse cookies, but the cookie itself is definitely more dense. Perhaps I should have whipped the batter more, but I think that is just what happens when you make one big cookie bar. Laziness = denser cookie. I personally think that this frosting is better than the Lofthouse frosting (a yummy buttercream; I imagine Lofthouse is shortening-based so that it remains shelf-stable, but I could be wrong), but still sugary enough that I can't eat too much at once (if it were chocolate on the other hand, look out!). Two thumbs up for this pin for sure.

There was a similar recipe that I pinned which used cream cheese instead of sour cream like this one does, and I am curious to try that one out, so we may have a cookie bar showdown some day soon.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Meg vs. Dinner: Pinned it, Did it Pumpkin Pancakes

I realized that I have to do a whole lot of Pinterest projects if I want to meet my 30 x 30 goal of trying at least half of my pins. So I am going to start posting and reviewing them for you!

Let's start tonight with some pumpkin pancakes. I love pumpkin, and so these pancakes from How to: Simplify looked irresistable:

I used half whole wheat flour, and  our special Christmas pan.

Not as nice-looking, but tasty nonetheless. They are like pumpkin pie in pancake form, and amazing with butter and maple syrup. The batter is a little dense, so I had a hard time finding just the right temperature to get them to cook through without being overdone on the outside. But they got rave reviews from my toddlers and my 12-year-old niece, so we will be having them again!

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals December 3-8

Notice how I didn't post anything about any of my goals for this week? About that...

November 26 - December 1
*Touch up the patch job in the bathroom  - Realized I need help, asked for it from a friend, hopefully will get done this week.
*Order cabinet doors
*Paint the ceiling and trim - Can't be done until after the patching
*Re-fill green waste bin, look into getting yard cleared - A series of storms kept us inside all week. Should have checked the weather!
*Mow the lawn - Ditto.
*Get the car looked at -No excuse here.
*Plan Christmas gifts - Still need another idea or two, but mostly know what I will make/buy.

December 3-8
*Touch up bathroom patching, prime the walls.
*Put closet door back up in nursery.
*Touch up paint on bathroom door.
*Do two Christmas activities with the kids.
*Pick up materials for Christmas projects

Friday, November 30, 2012

Meg vs. Christmas: Family Photo Ornaments

As time goes on, I find myself wanting Christmas to be simpler; less about spending and running around and more about family and simple giving. I mentioned the other day that I have taken a liking to putting up sentimental ornaments instead of designing a fancy tree, but I didn't share my favorite ornaments! Drumroll please...

This tradition was actually started by my mom being embarrassing. See that little 2006 ornament? My mom gave that to John and me for Christmas right after we started dating. Clearly she was excited that I finally had a boyfriend. Oh, and my sister also made us matching mugs with that same photo plastered all over it. Yikes! Thankfully John wasn't scared away, and still proposed to me a few months later.

The next year my mom received the beautiful glass snowflake frame and asked if we wanted it. I thought our wedding photo would go well in it, and the tradition went on from there.

My main tip if you'd like to do this: go to Michael's after Christmas and stock up! They always have frame ornaments, and they go on sale for about a buck in the weeks after Christmas.

Seeing how our family has grown and changed as we decorated the tree was a good reminder of how blessed we are in a season where it is easy to get caught up in the trifles that we might want.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meg vs. Christmas: DIY Felt Ornaments

I am just a little excited for the Christmas season. We put up our tree this weekend and the smell is heavenly.

Growing up, we liked to pick a theme or color scheme for the tree each year and do something fancy with it. That is what happens when the girls plan the Christmas decorating. But since we've been married, John has insisted on multicolored lights, a multicolored star, and a variety of multicolored ornaments. I'll admit that I thought it was a bit cheesy at first, and John has since said that I could do the tree how I wanted (though that would require buying all new lights and ornaments, which we can't afford), but our eclectic tree has grown on me.We try to pick up Christmas ornaments to represent the places we've gone and the things we have done together, so decorating the tree is like a walk down memory lane.

Last year I wanted ornaments to commemorate John starting med school and us buying our house, but couldn't find anything that I liked, let alone that we could afford. So I decided to get crafty in the name of Christmas, and made up some felt ornaments that were exactly what I wanted. They are super easy to make, if a little time consuming. Just cut out two of your chosen shape (one for the front and one for the back). Then cut out the shapes you'll need to adorn your ornament and sew them onto the front. when you are done, use a blanket stitch to attach the front and back pieces together and a hanging ribbon to the top, stopping before you close it all the way to add a little stuffing to give your ornament some dimension. Ta-da!

I used gold thread because I thought it gave the ornaments a more vintage, Christmasey (that is a word, right?) feel. They remind me of my grandmother's old felt ornaments that we had on our tree growing up. On the back of the first ornament, I embroidered (in my sloppy way) "First white coat, 2011," and on the back of the second, "Our first house" and our address.

And as an added bonus, these ornaments are fairly toddler-proof (knock on wood), which is essential in this house. We have already lost three ornaments this year, and the tree has only been decorated for just over 24 hours.

I am already brainstorming what ornaments I will make this year, and I have a few other projects up my sleeve to share here soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals November 26 - December 1

It's amazing how easily I met my goals when I significantly lowered my expectations--ha!

November 19-24
*Plan and shop for Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws
*Make my pumpkin cheesecakes!
*Seal that grout!
*Get the house clean (or at least hide the mess).

John is coming up on the end of the semester and exams, so he will be busy studying and I will be mostly on my own for the next couple of weeks. I am still going to be a little ambitious with my goals, but will cut myself some slack if I come up short. Especially because I am starting the week on 2 hours of sleep!

November 26 - December 
*Touch up the patch job in the bathroom
*Order cabinet doors
*Paint the ceiling and trim
*Re-fill green waste bin, look into getting yard cleared
*Mow the lawn
*Get the car looked at
*Plan Christmas gifts

Friday, November 23, 2012

Meg vs. Giveaways: We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Christmas print giveaway!  The moment you have been waiting for came, and I have an added surprise, because the first winner was my mom!

That made me happy because she is the biggest fan of my blog, and of me. And I was so happy that I decided I would get her a set, and give away another one too.

So the second winner is Stacey T!

I'll email you shortly to get your address so Emily can send you your prints.

Congratulations, and thanks for entering!

I am past due to get started on Christmas projects, so stay tuned for those coming up!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Simplifying (with Printables!)

I have a little tendency to bite off more than I can chew. It is funny, I think I always underestimate my abilities, but overestimate the quantity of things I can get done in any given time. This quote is definitely for me, and I think for a lot of women out there.

Get it here!

And here's another pretty version:

Get this printable here!

And don't forget to enter the Christmas Print Giveaway! The winner will be selected Friday night.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meg vs. Giveaways: Christmas Prints from Little Boston Print Shoppe!

To be honest, I am a little ambivalent about gaining followers on this blog. I mostly started it to record our progress on the house and keep myself motivated, but then I felt silly writing to myself so I thought I would write to, well, some readers. I am not particularly creative, or handy, or thrifty, or chic, and I blog in spurts. I don't even own a glue gun.

But I do enjoy sharing what we do around here and pretending like it's useful or interesting to someone else. So I'll just focus on sharing. And right now, I am going to share a set of these fun Christmas prints made by my awesome friend Emily, who blogs at Everything for the Love (where I occasionally blog as a guest) and sells her adorable prints at the Little Boston Print Shoppe!

My boys love, love, LOVE Christmas, and these festive prints are a perfect way to add some Christmas Spirit to your home! So fun and festive. There are lots of things you can do to win a set, and you don't even have to follow my blog (unless you want to). =) My treat, a Christmas present to some lucky friend. Just pick one or more tasks from the entry form below and you're entered to win! The more you do, the more chances you have to win. (And you can do some of them once per day.) The giveaway will be open through Friday night, and I'll announce the winner on Saturday.

Good luck, and Merry Christmas!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

p.s. To make it easier on you, I didn't require verification for most of the tasks. Enter on your honor!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals November 19-24

As I mentioned earlier, it has been a long week. I am just happy I can do laundry again, and we'll try again next week (with some scaled back expectatoins...).

November 12-17
*Get everything ready for Little Brother's 2nd Birthday.
*Get the whole house clean for family coming into town.
*Figure out/fix the leak in the drain pipe for the washing machine (as much fun as it was to have the toy room flood last week...).
*Seal the grout!
*Put the sink/vanity back in the front bathroom and rehang the shower curtain.
*Start staining the vanity
*Start painting the walls

November 19-24
*Plan and shop for Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws
*Make my pumpkin cheesecakes!
*Seal that grout!
*Get the house clean (or at least hide the mess).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Meg vs. Decor: My new pillow!

It has been a long week. The kind where I meant to get lots of things done, but the house just got worse instead of better (thus no posting this week). And I think I might have some kind of sinus infection.

But then I got a sweet package from by BFF Emily, and it made my day! Look what she sent me!

I love this print, it matches my living room perfectly, and it makes me happy every time I see it! Not to mention that it is a super sturdy pillow cover, which should stand up well to all the abuse my little guys are all-too-quick to inflict upon anything I place in their reach. Check out this and other designs at Emily's Etsy store, Little Boston Print Shoppe. She is going to be listing some Christmas prints soon, and I am thinking I may just treat one of you lovely people to a set, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks, Emily!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Meg vs. Myself: Weekly Goals November 12-17

November 5-10
*Seal the grout on the new bathroom tile.
*Do two Thanksgiving activities with the boys.
*Re-fill the green waste bin.
*Get gas for the lawnmower and mow the lawn (or make the hubs do it).  John did pick up a gas can, but it was rainy this week so we decided against mowing. He raked and mulched all of the leaves instead.
*Install the new toilet seat in the front bathroom.

Between sleeping kids, kids refusing to sleep, and my lack of sleep, the grout just wasn't in the cards this week. But I did paint two doors and touch up the beadboard in the living room, plus I installed a few new doorknobs. And this week John is done with his block exams, so he is planning to help me get the bathroom in working order before Thanksgiving! So here are next week's goals and aspirations. I should think of something with which to treat myself if I get to the bonus tasks. Maybe a nap.

November 12-17
*Get everything ready for Little Brother's 2nd Birthday.
*Get the whole house clean for family coming into town.
*Figure out/fix the leak in the drain pipe for the washing machine (as much fun as it was to have the toy room flood last week...).
*Seal the grout!
*Put the sink/vanity back in the front bathroom and rehang the shower curtain.
*Start staining the vanity
*Start painting the walls

Friday, November 9, 2012

Meg vs. Thanksgiving: Thankful Tree

For my second Thanksgiving activity this week, I wanted to do something that would help us to focus on being thankful this month. After my handprint and footprint garland, I had a couple more paper grocery bags and decided to cut out a tree on a whim, to which we could add some fall foliage with things we are thankful for. The trunk took me about a minute to cut out, and then I cut out leaves during my spare minutes throughout the day. Here it is with our first leaves:

I thought it was fun that when I asked Little Brother what he was thankful for, he simply said, "Happy!" That warmed my heart, since ultimately happiness is what I want to give my kids. I think that being thankful is a big part of being happy.

We are planning to each put up something we are thankful for every day until Thanksgiving (or maybe through the end of the month?), so our tree should fill up pretty quickly.

Once the tree was done, the wall still seemed pretty bare, so I thought I would finish it off with a banner. If you read yesterday's post, that lead to an epic hunt for printable buntings and banners that you can customize. Next time the process should be a little easier!

Here it is with the addition of the banner:

Much better! I'm no Martha Stewart, but the whole point is to help my toddlers learn about Thanksgiving and what we should be grateful for, and I think this fits the bill (not to mention that it cost me approximately $0, since I had all the supplies, and many were things I inherited from other people or my mom's work).

What are you thankful for today? I hope you can say "Happy!" too. =)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meg vs. Decor: Customizable Bunting Round-Up!

Bunting and garland is so in right now, and I am loving it. After making our Thankful Tree today (more on that to come), I thought the wall needed a little something to finish it off. A Thanksgiving message on garland? Just the thing. So I headed over to Pinterest to see what there was to see.

I wasn't sold on any of the Thanksgiving-specific printables I found, so I started looking for alphabet sets that I could customize myself. There are some really cute, free, printable alphabet sets available! So I thought I would put them all together and share what I found to save you (and me in the future) the scouring.

First up, good old Martha Stewart came through, as usual:

Found here.

Found here.

Found here.

Found here.

I love this one from Ruffled:

Such fun patterns and colors!

And Flights of Fancy put this one together with two different font types:

You can find this fun set at Wild Olive. Wouldn't it be super cute for a kids' party?

And if you like a vintage feel, try this one from Rook No. 17:

Here's a cutie from Jolly Allsorts:

Here's a simple set from Small Types:

Another from Shanty 2 Chic:

And one in miniature from The Tomkat Studio!

There you have them--have fun! I'll share my finished tree and banner tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Meg vs. Thanksgiving: Fall Handprint Garland

I love handprint crafts. If you search "handprint" on Pinterest you will find seven kajillion (of course that is a number!) amazing, creative, super fun handprint crafts to do with your kiddos. My three-year-old has been dying to do a footprint with paint ever since he saw the kids on Barney make Halloween ghost footprints, so when I saw turkeys on Pinterest that had handprints AND a footprint, I knew we were golden. (Oddly, none of the links to the actual turkeys worked, so I won't link back to any originals. We started out the fun by looking at some pictures of real turkeys online, then got to work.

Now as much as I love a cute handprint, I am not really into making extraneous messes, so my kids aren't really well trained with hand painting/stamping activities. More specifically, my almost-two-year-old cannot hold still for more than about two seconds, so I didn't think that doing all the prints right onto the turkey would work for us. I decided to just have the boys do a whole bunch of prints onto a paper bag (since I am too cheap to buy real craft paper) and then assemble the turkeys later. I have these Crayola Washable Kids' Paints, and we have really liked them and haven't had any problems with staining, which is good since I neglected to strip my kids down this time before we got going.

I had them stamp their feet twice just in case, which worked out because at the last second I thought to take advantage of the extra paint on their hands and make a little tree canopy so we would have some fall foliage to add to our decor as well.

Then when the paint dried, Big Brother and I cut out the hands and feet and glued them together, added some googly eyes and a couple spots of paint, and behold:

Handprint/footprint turkeys!

We taped them on to some yard with our fall trees, then hung them up in the living room.

Big brother and I also redecorated our branches for fall, since our spring buds (cut out from paint chips) were in poor shape. Here's the before & after:


Much more festive!

And I cut out two leaves to cover the tape we used to hang up our garland.

Super easy, the boys love it, and I think it's decor the grandparents will appreciate, as they are all coming to visit around Thanksgiving time.

I have to admit, I couldn't decorate for Thanksgiving without starting to get excited for Christmas. Growing up we always put up our tree and all of our decorations the day after Thanksgiving, so the two are intertwined for me. We may or may not have tuned in to Christmas Radio on Pandora. Don't judge me.

Here's to the start of the Holiday Season!