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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Define the space

Ballard Designs Image 2Perhaps you received the same Ballard Designs catalog I did last week? 

When I saw this item, I knew I could work up a “version” of it myself, at a fraction of the $129 price tag. 
Ballard Designs Image
I really liked the idea of this piece… the simplicity of it.  I also thought the idea would work well in a bathroom.  Personally, I think the decor of these spaces – laundry rooms & bathrooms – should be a little more utilitarian than anything else. 

So, you guessed it, it’s another freebie!

I found my definitions at MSN Encarta & Merriam-Webster, just like they did.  Each file is a PDF, with the image itself sized to 8”x10”.  (Last time I checked, 8”x10” frames were a lot less than $129, plus my laundry room and guest bath are small, so Ballard’s 24” square print wouldn’t work for me.)

Bath & Laundry IMAGE

To download the file(s) of your choice, just click on the image above and you’ll be directed to their 4shared locations.  Then, just print on your own color printer and trim to size (8”x10”), or upload it to a place like FedEx Office.  Find an inexpensive frame, and voila!  You’ve got yourself a new piece of “art” for likely 90% less than what Ballard Designs is charging. 

*** UPDATED 06/26/12 ***
New download location for these images is here 

I hope this makes a nice, simple addition to your space!

I’ll be posting this project to some of the link-up parties listed here:
Visit thecsiproject.com
I'm honored to have had this project featured on these sites. Thanks so much!!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Sustenance

"It's amazing how much
you can get done, 
if you don't mind 
who gets the credit."

- Gen. George C. Marshall


Friday, August 27, 2010

Brief Bits

Aack!  I know!  TWO Brief Bits in one week.  :)  Just cleaning up my files, so that I can start sharing fewer links per Brief Bits post.  To make each one a little more digestible.  

Anyway... here's a super-quick round-up of what I've found on the web recently that got my creative juices flowin':

1.  From The Sisters Cafe - Mom's Barbeque Brisket
I grew up in Texas, and brisket is one of my favorite foods (no surprise).  Other recipes I've seen for brisket take days to prepare.  This delicious one is slow-cooked for 5 hours.  Can't wait to give it a try!

2.  From Sugar City Journal - Making Memories with Grandparents Gift
Are your parents hard to buy for?  Mine can be.  I LOVE this idea of giving the grandparents a booklet full of activities to enjoy with their grandchildren, rather than buying them more stuff.  So clever!

3.  From Between Cottage & Cabin - Soup in a Jar Favor/Gift Idea
I've seen and received lots of cookies in a jar... but I really like this idea to give a soup in a jar.  A little more unique, and healthier for the recipient.  :)

4.  From Just a Girl - New Neighbor Gift
She makes me want to move in next door to her!  Such a cool welcoming idea for new neighbors - thoughtful AND useful.

5.  From My Kitchen Cafe - Lemon and Garlic Grilled Chicken
Pretty sure I'll be testing this dish out sometime this next week.  My mouth is watering!

6.  From How Does She? - German Chocolate Drizzle Cake
German Chocolate is my all-time favorite cake.  There's something about that coconut...  This completely-from-scratch recipe looks deeee-vine!

7.  From My Computer is my Canvas - Safe to Eat Raw Cookie Dough Recipe
Cookie Dough + Chocolate Covering - Risk of Salmonella = YUM!

8.  Custom Photo Lunchboxes
Such a clever idea!  Plus, you'd never have to worry about it ending up in the lost & found - your kids' picture could be on it.  :)

9.  From Alphamom - Free Printable Lunchbox Notes, Tags, & Stickers
Cute notes to attach to fruit, plus fun templates you can customize with your own little message.  So sweet!

10.  From Knock-Off Wood - Closet Doors
This site makes me wish I was handier with a hammer and a nail and a saw and a sander...  Such a smart idea to add additional storage to the back of closet doors!  Think of how clutter-free your kid's room could be.

11.  From The Pleated Poppy - Purse Organization
I'm switching from a diaper bag to a purse, and I'm not much of a purse-carrying girl anyway.  Just need to carry the essentials from here on out for me and Connor, and I really liked this post's idea of compartmentalizing all the stuff that has to go inside a purse with pouches.  (And I'm already on the hunt for cute ones on Etsy.)

12.  From Blank Pages - Name Mobiles
LOVE this idea to create a mobile for the wall of your child's name - completely customizable and so cute!

13.  From The House of Wood - DIY City Chic Artwork
Subway art is all over the internet these days, and I must admit I'm not a huge fan of a lot of it.  However, I really like this version!  It's clean, it's simple... and the best part is its authenticity - making it about locations that mean something to you.  (And, I love it because it doesn't require a Cricut/Silhouette machine, painting or vinyl applications!)

14.  From Decor Chick - Pantry Carousels
Prepare to covet this pantry!  First of all, I wanted it when I saw it was a walk-in (mine is barely a closet), but then she added those lazy susans.  To.die.for.

15.  From How Does She? - Friend Board
Another interpretation of subway art.  My favorite part of this project is the sentiment behind it... such a sweet and thoughtful gift for someone/a family that means a lot to you.  This is a great gift idea.

16.  From Creations by Kara - Outback Chicken
My favorite dish at Outback Steakhouse is their Alice Springs Chicken.  This knock-off recipe looks like it could give the original a run for its money.  YUM!

17.  From Martha Stewart - Pumpkin Pillows
How adorable are these?!?  I wish I knew how to sew well enough to make them...  {sigh.}

18.  From Creations by Kara - Pizza Factory Breadsticks
I fondly remember lunches at the Pizza Factory in Utah, dining on salad bar and their delicious bread sticks.  I'm definitely going to have to give this recipe a try!

19.  From Keep Home Simple - Easy Fall Garland
LOVE this little garland - such a great idea!  I'm totally going to attempt one of my own to add to my fall decor.  Have I mentioned before how much I love fall??

20.  From Home Design with Kevin Sharkey - Oreo Cake
How stunning is this Oreo cake??  Would make a great addition to a party, and I love how they set out milk on the same table.  I want to try this some day myself.

So, there you have it... 20 great finds. I hope something here inspires you, too!

If you've been featured and would like a button for your blog, 
please copy and paste the code below:

Brief Bit Feature Button


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hip hip hooray!

It's done. It’s done. IT'S REALLY, REALLY DONE!

And I think I'm in shock.

Probably wasn’t the wisest thing to upload the finished product tonight and place my order after 1am, but I want to wake up in the morning knowing IT’S DONE.

I finished creating Connor’s First Year book with Blurb in the wee morning hours of August 14th, and I’ve spent the last week and a half casually tweaking and proof-reading it. 


  • Total size of Blurb file – 309.4 MB
  • Photos – 530
  • Pages – 198
  • Upload time – surprisingly only 16 minutes
  • Hours of labor – way too many to count
  • Heart attacks – 1 (yesterday, when the software wouldn’t load no matter what I tried, and I feared my efforts were all for naught)
  • Total savings – $39.95 (thanks to generous coupon code)
  • Final cost – $27.99 (which includes ground shipping)
  • Total value – PRICELESS (I hope!)

Click below to preview the final version, if you’d like. 

(If any family members are interested in purchasing their own copies, just click on the ‘BUY” icon above.)

My experience with Blurb so far has been okay…  the interface (BookSmart) was relatively easy to use and figure out, this project just took forever.  Way longer than I anticipated – which is likely a combination of my need for it to be as perfect as possible, and slow, clunky software.  Honestly, I would’ve been better off designing my pages in Word and then finding a book printer who would create a book from PDFs.  (Word likely would’ve taken me less than half the time Blurb did.)

Was it worth all the cramming to meet the coupon deadline of August 31st?  At this point in time, no – $40 was not worth the constant headache (neck- and shoulder-ache) I’ve had for the last several weeks.  About 3/4 of the way through this process, it dawned on zombie-like me that I was losing all this sleep over a measly $40.  In retrospect, I should have completed the book without the deadline, and waited for the next great coupon deal to be offered.

Anyway, blah…blah…blah.  I’m posting all of this just in case someone out there is wondering if they should try their hands at turning their blog into a book… and if Blurb is the service for them.  (Ask me how I feel about it a week or so from now, when I’ve got the finished product in my hands, and I’ve forgotten all about the process to get it there!)  With so much of Connor’s 1st year documented on the blog, this was the best way for me to capture it all… a modern baby book that I hope will be around for generations to come. signature5

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Our little Con-man

DSC01670.2Imma let you finish, but it’s been way too long since Momma blogged about ME!!!” – August 7, 2010

Figured it was about time more pictures were posted of Connor… can’t have the extended family getting anxious!

Connor’s officially 20 months old!  I don’t have any stats, but he’s definitely growing.  :)

We don’t have a ton to report with this update.  Brian’s been traveling A TON and I’m doing my best to stay sane.

DSC01960.2We’ve been working hard, trying to get Connor to stand, and become confident in his balancing abilities.  At one of our recent physical therapy appointments, his PT gave us this “girdle” for Connor to wear.  As you can see, it’s his favorite thing.  Combine this with wearing his shoes, and it’s all supposed to make him feel more weighted down and aware of his core.  Little by little, it does seem to be helping! 



Standing! - August 23, 2010

While he may not be walking by the end of summer like we hoped, he’s getting there!  We’ll shoot for the end of fall, before he turns 2.  :)

We’re slowly changing our bad habit of eating in front of the TV (yes, Brian, we’re going to start working on that ;), but when there’s food on my plate I can share with Connor… and it’s just me & him at home, I’ll eat in the family room.  Connor’s newest thing lately, besides eating whatever I’m eating, is to be a napkin thief!  It’s a funny game he plays now, where he’ll spot the napkin on the end table, sneak up to it, snatch it and cruise/run away as fast as he can.  He’ll then go to the other end of the room, rip the napkin to shreds… and bring it back to you, piece by piece.  He’s a funny little boy!

DSC01740.2{Wink!} – August 17, 2010

Now, the rest of the pictures…

Scenes from a high chair - August 2010

Daddy's Birthday Dinner at Aurelio's - August 7, 2010  DSC01892.2LOVES to play Baby Smash! – August 20, 2010

Fun - August 17, 2010Working hard on his gross motor skills…

Perfect Hiding Spot - August 7, 2010

DSC01767.2Teeth!  He’s got 4 molars & 4-5 other teeth cutting. – August 17, 2010 

Tickle game - August 2010New favorite game!

DSC01981.2August 24, 2010

First trip to the PARK! - August 7, 2010  New Haircut - August 23, 2010    DSC01944.2Mesmerizing. – August 23, 2010 


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Handmade love

DSC01083.2 IMG_0200.2 I’ve written before about how talented my mom is… when I grow up, I want to be crafty, just like her!  :)

She sent us a care package a little while ago, and I have to share its wonderful contents with you!

Brief Disclaimer – I am not a photographer, nor will I ever claim to be; my camera is still pretty new for me to know the ins and outs of its manual settings; and, it was after 9pm when I took these.  Even though I hate how some blogs have one of these apologies on every.single.post, I feel that the quality of the images below warrants it… they’re embarassing.  But, better to have some pictures than no pictures, right?

One of Connor’s Christmas presents this last year was a quiet book, handmade by Grandma.  She didn’t get a chance to finish it prior to Christmas (due to that pesky church calling :), but in recent weeks she was finally able to complete it. 

“Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  All I can say is ‘WOW!’”

1  Latest Blog Pics17

And, she even threw in a fun little crayon roll!

Also, as part of our master bedroom re-do, I asked my mom to make me 3 throw pillow covers.  Didn’t they turn out fabulously?!?

1  Latest Blog Pics18 (These are a fairly simple, square design with a zipper closure.  The ruching/gathered strips are only on the fronts of the pillows, and the entire front piece is lined on the inside for stability.  The ruched strips are 2x the length of the flat pieces.)

We didn’t have a pattern or true tutorial to follow for these pillows.  I just told her what I was envisioning, and we sketched it out.  My fabric choices on these pillows were pretty pricey, but they coordinate perfectly with the bedding.  Personally, I prefer to have feather inserts in all of my decorative pillows – they just hold their shape so much better.  For these pillows I used the inserts available at IKEA – only $7 apiece.

Best.care.package.EVER!  Thanks, Mom… you’re the best!!  :)

She swears that she’s never going to sew for me again, but I can be pretty convincing…

Go here to see one of my all-time favorite pictures of my mom.  ;)signature5

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's big and blue, and helps him poo?

DSC01775.2August 17, 2010

A bean bag chair *might* just be the newest cure for constipation!  No joke. 

Connor will lounge in it multiple times a day, watch a bit of “Yo Gabba Gabba” or “Sesame Street”, and gulp down 5-8 oz. of fluid each sitting.  He’ll even drink from his sippy cup while sitting in his chair.  It really is a glorious thing!

Sure, he would drink if we held him… but only 2-4 oz. at a time, if we’re lucky.  This new method keeps him perfectly content and our hands free.  Love it!signature5

Weekly Menu (Binder Edition)

Maybe you keep a household binder… or even store recipes in a binder?  I keep thinking I might want to get organized myself that way, though I’d prefer it even more in a digital format.  When I think about meal planning, I’d even love to have 4-8 weeks worth of meals all planned out, with room for flexibility and trying new recipes, that I could just rotate through, week by week – take the guesswork out of the equation.  But that would take time I don’t seem to have with a toddler in the house.
Weekly Menu - BLUE - Sprik Space So, I’ve modified the Weekly Menu printable to fit in a binder (or be posted on the fridge, or wherever).  You could even print a whole bunch of these and make them into a note pad (see tutorial here) for yourself or even as gifts.  I included space for all 3 meals plus a shopping list, so that you could, in fact, have your entire week’s worth of food all planned out.  Same color scheme as before, these are sized at 8.5” x 11”
Weekly Menu (Binder Edition) - BLUE - Sprik Space Weekly Menu (Binder Edition) - PINK - Sprik Space Weekly Menu (Binder Edition) - GREEN - Sprik Space Weekly Menu (Binder Edition) - ORANGE - Sprik Space Weekly Menu (Binder Edition) - PURPLE - Sprik Space
To download, just click on the images above and you’ll be directed to their 4shared locations.  Then, just print on your own color printer, or send it out to Fedex Kinko’s and you’re set!

*** UPDATED 06/26/12 ***
New download location for these images is here  

Hope this helps keep your meal planning organized!
I’ll be posting this project to the link-up parties listed here.


Brief Bits

Apparently I was a wee bit hungry when I collected links for this edition of Brief Bits.  Oh well...  new recipes are one of my favorite things!  Here's a quick round-up of what I've found on the web recently that got my creative juices flowin':

(Click on the image above to make it larger.)

1.  From My Kitchen Cafe - Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie
Mint chocolate chip ice cream is one of my all-time favorite flavors.  This pie looks divine, and I especially like how she created her garnish out of Andes mints - so clever!

2.  From The Cook Next Door - Orange Chicken
If I visit Panda Express, my order is always a double order of Orange Chicken... I can't help myself!  This recipe looks relatively simple for creating that complex Orange flavor.  Can't wait to whip this one up!

3.  From Made by Joel - Toddler Stilts
This dad is F.u.n.  Check out his idea for stilts for his little ones before they're ready for the tin can variety.  So clever!

4.  From The Pioneer Woman - Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta
I love citrus flavors with poultry!  This recipe looks super tasty.

5.  From Blue Cricket Design - Junk Food Sushi
I don't eat sushi...  have no interest to even try it.  (I don't really even eat seafood - at least not inland.)  But, Brian lurves sushi... with a PASSION!  And, it's a good thing he travels so much, and has a per diem - because that's about the only way he'd be able to indulge (I don't find the cooked items at sushi bars/Japanese restaurants to be all that tasty either).  Check out this fun "sushi" idea from Blue Cricket Design - this is definitely one version I'm willing to give a try!    

6.  From Dandee - Miniature Memory Game
Connor's requiring more activity toys when we're out and about these days, and I just loved this idea for a super-portable memory game.  So cute!

7.  From Tasty Kitchen - Banana Split Ice Cream Cake
Another recipe this week for a banana split ice cream cake.  Hmmm...  looks divine!!

8.  From I Can Teach My Child! - Letter Boxes and Scavenger Hunt
Here's a clever idea to upcycle the bajillion baby food containers we go through around here.  In the version I'm making, I'll be adding numbers and colors.  I'm considering collecting the items for the containers myself, and making it into a matching-type game... miniature little items.  Thanks for the idea that got me brainstorming!

9.  From Apartment Therapy - DIY Paper Blossoms
Oh, if I had a little girl's room to decorate!  I LOVE this idea for creating cherry blossoms out of tissue paper and branches... so CUTE!

10.  From Picky Palate - Snickers Caramel Cheesecake Cookies
These look heavenly!  I die!  Just need to confirm that I own a muffin top pan...

11.  From Just Cook Already - Ham & Cheese Sliders
I'm for sure visiting the deli counter the next time I go grocery shopping - I have to give these a try!

12.  From Simply Radiant - Happy Yellow Day
Stephanie's son Creed, has a favorite color... YELLOW!  I adore this idea she had of making an entire day about his favorite color - from the clothes to the food to the activities - just magical.  Check out what she did for RED day here

13.  From Tasty Kitchen - Lemon Raspberry Bars
The basic ingredient list alone on these goodies ensures they've got to be tasty!  Adding these to my file...

14.  From Eat at Home - Crockpot Italian Beef Sandwiches
If you live in Chicago, hot dogs, deep dish pizza, and Italian beef are their own food group!  "Homemade" Italian beef sandwiches constitutes cracking open a tub of Papa Charlie's.  Which is yummy and all, but not nearly as affordable as this recipe looks.  I'm going to have to give this one a try!

15.  From Infarrantly Creative - Game Board Storage Art
This idea...  this is the whole reason I want a functional game room in my next house.  Such a clever idea to use the game boards as art, while keeping all the game pieces in baggies behind the board.  LOVE IT!

16.  From b3 Home Designs - Modged Bird Plates
Such a cute project... and one completely within my limited crafty skill set!  Love this idea of mod podging silhouettes onto simple white plates.  Hmmm... there's a silhouette I happen to adore that would make a super cute plate...

So, there you have it... 16 great finds. I hope something here inspires you, too!

If you've been featured and would like a button for your blog, 
please copy and paste the code below:

Brief Bit Feature Button

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's for dinner?

That question drives me crazy… but only when I don’t know what we’re going to have for dinner!

Growing up, my mother always had a meal plan.  Her weekly menu was on the back of her shopping list and it was always posted on the fridge.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times she deviated from it… whatever was listed was what we were having for dinner.  Sometimes you’d be excited about it, and sometimes at least one of us would be whining about it.  But, it was always there, no surprises.  I can see now why meal planning was so important for our family growing up – I wouldn’t want to be a short order cook for a family of 6.

I’ll be honest…  I don’t cook as much for my family as I should unless I come up with a weekly menu.  If I don’t plan things out in advance, I never have anything thawed and/or I’m missing key ingredients.  In my defense, my husband travels a lot.  When it’s just me and Connor, a bowl of cereal or a sandwich will do (Connor still consumes mostly Chef Gerber).  So, I try to plan my meal-making around the nights I know I have someone else to cook for.

Dry Erase Board Dry Erase Board Detail This spring, my mom and I made a dry erase board for my kitchen.  I purchased a large frame at Michael’s (the largest that would fit on my wall) and framed a cut of fabric under the glass.  Then I just use dry erase markers and an eraser to help me keep track of household things.  I LOVE IT!  I’d say I probably write something on it every day.  The board helps me keep track of my to-do’s, things to remember, and ongoing shopping lists.  It’s also where I “attempt” to have a meal plan posted for the week!

In June, Alma of Ollibird posted the cutest FREE tiles for Twitter and blog backgrounds.  When I saw the pots & pans graphic, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it (besides update the family recipe blog).

Just for fun, I’ve created another free printable…  a Weekly Menu, inspired by and using Alma’s cute graphic.

These menu images are sized at 8”x10”, perfect for framing in your kitchen.  Once behind glass, it becomes a dry-erase menu board.  You could place this on your countertop, hang it on the wall, or put it in a lightweight frame and attach heavy-duty magnets or Command Picture Hanging Strips to hang it on your fridge.  You could even make one up for an inexpensive wedding/birthday/Christmas gift. 

Weekly Menu - BLUE - Sprik Space
Weekly Menu - PINK - Sprik Space Weekly Menu - GREEN - Sprik Space Weekly Menu - ORANGE - Sprik Space Weekly Menu - PURPLE - Sprik Space

To download, just click on the images above and you’ll be directed to their 4shared locations.  Then, just print on your own color printer and trim to size, or upload it to your favorite online photo printer (an 8”x10” print at Costco is only $1.49).
Weekly Menu (Binder Edition) - BLUE - Sprik Space Go here to download a version of this weekly menu for a binder!

*** UPDATED 06/26/12 ***
New download location for these images is here  

Hope this keeps the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” question from being asked too many times in your house!
I’ll be posting this project to the link-up parties listed here.
I'm incredibly honored to have had this project featured on these sites. Thanks so much!!

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