Monday, January 30, 2012

Kids Kitchen Tower

Most of you know I have a love for all things DIY - even doing some woodworking here and there.  It's just so much fun to make something out of nothing.  The addition of the power tools just pushes it to the next level for me.

I guess the 'nut doesn't fall too far from the tree'.  Since my father retired a few years ago, he has been able to get a shop area set up in their basement.  And, now that he has the time, he has been making a few things for my family and my siblings' families.

One of the projects he did for all of us was a tower for the kids to help in the kitchen.

 My kids love being able to have turns in the kitchen helping me cook.
 Or just being able to play in it pretending it is a spaceship or just a quiet place to go and look at books.
 It adjust to fit all my kids from the 8 yr old all the way down to the almost 2 yr old.  Giving each of them just the right amount of boost.
It's been a great addition and it's even better that my dad took the time and care to make it for us.  He even adjusted my older sister's to be a little wider to accommodate her two sets of twins.

If you would like one, Ana White has plans for a very similar one called 'The Little Helper Tower'.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Life Happens

I'm having trouble locating my camera cord.  Hmmm.....

I really have no clue where it is.

I also have 2 kiddos on antibiotics right now.

Waiting to see which kid will be #3.

I've decided to take about a week off and to focus on the little ones.  Maybe in that time I'll be able to locate my camera cord.

Now, where to look next.....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

I was hoping to share a nice long post about my trip to Kentucky to help my sister pack for a move.  As fate would have it, I was unable to go due to weather.  (First winter storm of the year for St. Louis had perfect timing.)  You can only imagine how bummed I was!  Even though it would have been work, I would have gotten to spend time with my sister - something that is rare these days.
Since I didn't get to go on my little girl time road trip (grrr!), I felt the need to give myself a little pick-me-up to help soothe my emotional wounds. That means I turned to food to make me feel better.
A quick search through the pantry turned up a box brownie mix, but I needed something more.  Enter Peanut Butter!  Here's a quick recipe for PB Swirl Brownies starting with said box mix.  (Did you know all the recipes I came across on the web were all scratch brownies - even Betty Crocker's!  No time for that here!)

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

1 Family size Brownie mix (for 9x13 baking dish)


2 T melted butter (salted)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 t vanilla extract


1.  Mix filling ingredients together in a bowl until smooth.  Set to the side.

2.  Mix brownies according to directions on back of box and pour into a 9x13 dish.

3.  Spoon dollops of peanut butter filling into brownie batter in a random pattern spacing it around the  dish.

4.  Drag the tip of a butter knife through the dish to swirl the PB filling through out the brownie batter.

5.  Bake brownies according to the box directions.

These brownies were SO good!  I'll let you all know that I have food weaknesses and two of them at the top are Oreos and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  If I ever end up fat, you can be sure these will be among the causes.  Until then, I'll keep making these brownies to soothe any emotional (real or fictitious) wounds that need to be soothed.

If you are reading this, Amanda, I'm still bummed.  I'll be taking a raincheck, so look for me to darken your new doorstep in the near future.  I'll bring a batch of brownies with me.  ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Domino Effect Projects

We all have them.  Those projects that once started seem to affect so many other areas and make the work drag on much longer than expected.  The projects that (almost) make you wish you hadn't started them in the first place.  Has one come to mind for you?

This seems to happen to me often.  {Okay, so it doesn't so much happen to me as I cause it, but let's not nitpick.}  Another problem with this is I tend to drag bring my very patient husband in on the project.  

My most recent Domino Effect Project?  The kids' new closet.  While I'm glad the 2 big girls now have a closet big enough for them to grow into, it has caused so much more work for us than I thought it would.

Here's the chain of events.

In order to open the closet up to their room we had to empty said closet.  My bedroom when from something like this-
to looking like this-
^Notice the Pack-n-play in the pic?
Once we got the girls' clothes in the new closet, my room looked a little better.  
Okay, so it really isn't that much better, but that closet acted as a storage room for us.  So, now we had to figure out what to do with all the junk stuff we've been holding on to for no good reason.

Enter our basement.  Now, I'm extremely grateful to have this space.  If you don't have a good system of storing your stuff, thought, it will eventually look something like the pictures below.  Especially if you let the kids have free reign.
yes, that is a cabinet laying on the floor 

I've cleaned the space several times.  Unfortunately, my kids, like most, don't care to pick up after themselves, so it continues to get messy.

Another tile in the dominoes - Remember the pack-n-play in one of the pictures above?  In the middle of our closet project, I decided to move our youngest out of our room into a room of his own.  He now occupies what was our guest room.  But, what to do with the guest room furniture?  Yep, move it to the basement!
Sorry the door is in the way, but you get the idea.  It works well for us and our guest - as long as no one visits during the winter.

Previously, we had shelves along the wall the bed is now up against.  See?
 I got tired of cleaning up the kids' toys and took all the shelves down one day and moved all their toys to another area.  See them on the shelves against the concrete wall?
We have a strict rule in our house that the kids are not to go on the other side of the stud walls where my husbands tools are.  So, by default, the kids can no longer get toys out without our help.

Once the holidays started rolling around, so many things/projects were placed on hold.  I could only stand seeing a basement look like this for so long after the holidays were over, though.  And, poor Kevin had a couple of days off to help me.
 This was taken after we started working.  Has to look worse before it can look better, right?  UGH!  There were so many boxes full of books, it was ridiculous!

The shelves that once held the toys got reused in a new location.
Kevin using his hammer drill on the concrete wall.
Starting to fill up!
 Here it is full.  There is even stuff just sitting in front of the shelves because we ran out of room.  (Shameful!)  We put up some vapor barrier we had on hand from another house to help remind the kids not to go behind the walls.

Our basement is looking much better these days.  

 And all the storage space is full.

Wondering what the next domino tile to fall is going to be?  A YARD SALE!!!  We are going to be having one of the biggest 'I'm Not Having Anymore Kids' celebration yard sale ever!  I already have most of the stuff in the basement separated in 'keep' and 'sell' categories.  This decision does cause another domino to fall, though.  While I've gone through the basement, I still have the rest of the boxes in our bedroom, my kitchen and craft room to go through.

Bonus - cleaning up the basement will allow me to draw up detailed plans for transforming it into a functional finished living space.  Won't that be nice?  It should be completed about the time the kids are going off to college at the pace I move.

Do you have some dominoes falling?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Thirty Something

Yesterday marked another year for me.  It's amazing really how fast the time has gone and how many blessings I have to be thankful for.  

Now, usually my husband and I just acknowledge each others birthday and maybe take the family out for a nice meal at, you know, Chick-fil-a or Pizza Hut.  (Yep, high rollers!)  This year Kevin really went above and beyond by getting me a Kindle Fire.

And since my body decided that this would be the perfect time to come down with a nasty little bug, I'm getting to know my new friend pretty well.  While being sick on your birthday is not fun, it is nice to be comforted by some good books both old and new.


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