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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chalk Paint Armoire Makeover

Hi guys!!  I've been working my heart out over the past few weeks to breathe some new life into our old entertainment armoire in the living room.  It's one of the first pieces of "real", substantial furniture that we bought {several years} after we got married.  In fact, it might be the first piece of furniture we ever owned that wasn't either a hand-me-down from mom and dad or purchased at Ikea.  I loved that armoire when we bought it.  It was a little pricy and kind-of a stretch for our budget, but I just HAD to have it.  You know the ones -- they were all the rage back in the day -- rustic wood, rusty metal hardware.  You can see it in this awful picture that I took forever ago:

See how I had already given it a clever little makeover by staining the moulding pieces darker and lining the doors with rooster fabric.  {Remember the fun rooster design trend?}  We lived with it like that for YEARS and still I adored it -- even after almost knocking myself unconscious several times by forgetting the doors were there while standing up from playing on the floor with the kids and konking my head.  

Once I was good and sure the rooster trend was dead -- seriously, I clung to it long after most folks had moved on -- I got wise and gave the armoire another makeover.  I removed the pesky upper doors since we never closed them anyway, and painted the whole thing black.  And I loved the armoire again for several more years:


The doors we removed became a decorative accent in the kitchen and everything was great:

But we're a real life family who really lives in and uses are home, so eventually the black paint started to get scuffed and I was itching to do something else with my old armoire.  I was able to get my hands on some Americana Chalky Finish paint -- the latest and greatest furniture painting trend -- and I was super excited to try it out.  I really wanted to paint it navy blue this time around, but there wasn't a true navy blue color in the collection.  After researching it online a bit, I ended up choosing a charcoal gray color called "Relic" that has a really blue undertone and it looks exactly how I hoped it would!  

I love the names of the paint colors in this collection.  They remind me of the episode of Friends where Phoebe hates Pottery Barn, but Ross and Rachel love it so they keep buying Pottery Barn furniture and telling her that they found it at the flea market.  When she asks what period the furniture is from, they say things like "yore" and "yesteryear".  I think they may have asked Ross and Rachel to name these paint colors... 

I need to tell you, this is NOT a sponsored post.  I am NOT receiving any compensation for singing the praises of this paint.  It's just really great paint.  Remember how I made my own chalky paint for my kitchen cabinets?  That worked pretty well, but it is nothing compared to the real thing!  To clarify, this is chalk paint, NOT chalk board paint.  I didn't turn my armoire into a chalk board.  This is simply paint that gives a really matte, really smooth, buttery-perfect finish.  The biggest difference between the Americana paint and the home-made version is the Creme Wax for finishing.  After the paint has dried and you have sanded it smooth, you simply paint on the wax {it's like a creamy liquid} then buff it to a perfect sheen.  It brings out so much life in the paint color!

This is probably the most accurate representation of the paint color that I could capture.  The thing is, it looks different in all different lights so in the morning it looks lighter and grayer, but in the afternoon it is a perfect greyed-out navy blue.  When I was finished painting I gave it some new knobs that I picked up for just a few dollars at Hobby Lobby.  The little yellow/green ceramic knobs above were perfect for the drawers and they coordinate with the more decorative knobs on the lower doors.

I decided to really make the armoire lighter and brighter this time around by painting the interior white -- Americana's "Everlasting".  I can't believe what a difference it makes.

All my little decorative accents stand out now instead of getting lost in the dark, cave-like recesses that were there before.  My new fabric covered books really pop against the white background, which is exactly what I was hoping for.  I'm already looking around my house for more furniture I can make-over with other colors of this great chalk paint.  I think my coffee table is just begging for it now!

This old armoire is like a member of the family now.  We'll just keep making her over to keep her stylish for as long as possible.  I'm kinda' in love with her again now thanks to Americana Chalky Finish Paint!

Have a great day, friends!

Amy



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Monday, April 14, 2014

Corn Casserole {A Perfect Side Dish for Your Easter Ham!}

This post brought to you by Sam's Club. All opinions are 100% mine.

Corn Casserole recipe at my3monsters.com

Hello, friends!  I'm always curious to hear what people eat for the holidays.  We pretty much stick to the traditionals -- Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas roast beef, and Easter ham.  I almost always make cheesy potatoes to go with my ham, but this year  I have found a yummy new recipe that pairs perfectly with ham for a nice spring dinner.  At least it is new to me -- Corn Casserole.  I have a few kids who don't love potatoes, but corn is always a favorite of everyone.  Cheesy, creamy corn is sure to become a classic in this house!

Here is where the idea came from:



Looks good, right?  Sam's Club has several yummy-looking recipes on their website to help you Celebrate Spring, but after I saw the Corn Casserole I was sold.  I knew that would be just the thing to give our boring old Easter dinner some new life.  It gets bonus points in my book for being super easy, and made from inexpensive ingredients that I always keep in my refrigerator and pantry, like Del Monte® canned Sweet Corn.

What I really loved about this dish was that I could take the basic recipe and customize it for my family by adding a few extra ingredients.

Corn Casserole recipe at my3monsters.com

This time I added crumbled buttery crackers on top to give it a yummy crust, but next time I think I will throw in a can of diced green chiles, too, for a little kick.

Corn Casserole recipe at my3monsters.com

Corn Casserole

3 C. shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 C. milk
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 C. sliced green onions
1 tsp. bottled hot sauce
4 cans Del Monte® Whole Kernel Corn, well-drained
1 1/2 C. crackers, finely crushed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix  shredded cheddar cheese, flour and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
Stir together the milk, softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the green onions and the hot sauce in a 9” x 13” pan. Dump in the corn and shredded cheese mixture, then stir well to blend evenly.  This would also be a great time to add green chiles or diced red peppers, if you want them. Bake for 30 minutes.  {The original recipe said to cover it, but I didn't and it was great.

Sprinkle on the remaining 1/3 cup of green onions, and cracker crumbs or other optional toppings, if desired. Bake 5 minutes longer.  Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving for the casserole to set up some.
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All I need now is a batch of warm home made rolls, maybe a green salad, and some deviled eggs to round out the perfect Easter dinner.  Mmmmm.  I'm going to make my family so happy this weekend!  Stay tuned later this week for a delicious, light and fruity dessert recipe, too.


Happy Easter, friends!

Amy


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

The First Step {with Viactiv}

As women, we wear a lot of "hats" in life. In our families we're sisters, daughters, wives, and mothers. In our homes we're cooks, accountants, personal shoppers, nurses, chauffeurs, teachers, and so much more. Add to that careers, volunteer work, hobbies, and friends, and you've got a pretty full plate! Too often, our health slips to the bottom of the list of priorities as we love and care for everyone and everything else in our lives.

I'm guilty of that for sure! I wouldn't dream of letting my kids leave for school without eating breakfast, but I can't remember the last time I ate breakfast myself on a weekday. I have cheered my son on at track meets twice a week for the past few months and encouraged my daughter as she has decided to train for a 5K, but I struggle {and often fail} to sneak in an hour a day to go walking with my friend Anita after the kids leave for school. Why do we do this to ourselves?!























One of the roles I find most fulfilling in life is that of mother. I adore all my children, but my 15-year-old daughter, Sydney, and I have a special bond. She is the one who made me a mother in the first place all those years ago. As the only two girls in the family, we have to stand united if we ever want to watch anything other than sports or super hero movies on the big TV. Even when we find ourselves out-voted and relegated to the smaller TV in the bedroom, we are together, curled up in my bed watching Project Runway or Dance Moms -- shows my boys would never watch with me, talking about our days.




















I feel the need to be a better example for her. I tell her that she can be anything and do anything in life, but do I show her by my actions to make her own needs a priority so she can reach those lofty goals? Do I show her how to fill her own tank, spiritually and physically and emotionally, so that she will have more to give to others, or am I teaching her by my example to "run on fumes", constantly sipping a caffeinated soda to just barely get through each day? I have some changes I need to make to model a better lifestyle for her.



One easy thing we can start -- right now, today -- is to make sure we are getting enough calcium. {Baby steps here, folks!} Sydney is a milk drinker, but even so, I'm almost certain she's not getting enough calcium in her diet. And me? Forget about it! Did you know that almost 70% of women, on average, are calcium deficient? Teen girls are even worse -- almost 86% of them do not get enough calcium in their diet. This is a major problem because 95% of bone building happens by age 20. Calcium isn't manufactured in the body -- it has to be introduced from outside sources such as diet or supplements. If your body isn't getting enough calcium, it begins to take it from the bones, which decreases bone mineral density and can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis. {Find more information about teens and calcium deficiency on the Viactiv website.}

So, calcium is a great place to start building a healthier lifestyle, and Viactiv Calcium Soft Chews make it so easy! Viactiv is the #1 doctor recommended calcium supplement chew. Taken daily, they provide 100% of the daily value of calcium for most women, plus Vitamins D3 and K. They're individually wrapped {and delicious!} so we can just throw them in our purse, backpack, or lunch bags. Did I mention that they're delicious? Because they are, which means no battle to get the kiddo to take it. She actually looks forward to it!





















It's great to have my daughter as an ally in this new, healthier lifestyle we're creating. We can cheer each other on and give gentle reminders to one another to keep us both on track. Who would you enlist to help you on your quest against calcium deficiency?



This year Viactiv is celebrating their 15th year with the Viactiv 15th Birthday Bash Giveaway. From April through July this year, entries will be accepted from the 4th to the 15th of each month. Each month on the 15th, 15 winners will be chosen randomly to receive 2 canisters of Viactiv Calcium Soft Chews in the flavor of their choice -- one to keep and one to share with a special woman in her life. Winners will be announced on the Viactiv Facebook page.

Viactiv is available for purchase at Walmart, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens, and Drugstore.com. Learn more about the benefits of calcium and how much you need each day, bay age, on the Viactiv website.

Get the latest information on Viactiv® Calcium Soft Chews at www.viactiv.com. #ViactivYoursandHers

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. I received two full-sized canisters of Viactiv® Calcium Soft Chews and a picture frame for my own personal use. All opinions, text and experiences are my own.


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Friday, April 11, 2014

Fabric Covered Books

Hello, friends!  I have collected old books for years.  Not valuable old books, no.  Just old books that I pick up for 50¢ at thrift stores that have cool covers or funny titles.  It's kind of a fun hobby.  Remember the time we found Gary Cooper's autograph inside an old book and made a little bit of money?  That was awesome.  Over the years I have used most of the coolest book covers for craft projects -- purses and notebook covers and such -- and I was left with all the darker, drabber, less interesting books taking up space in my craft closet.  

I have always dreamed of having a collection of these Penguin Classic Books to display in my home:

Unfortunately, I have never felt like I had the several hundred dollars it would take to buy the full set.  At least, not to spend on replacing books I already own, just because they're pretty.  This week I had finally had enough of those old books taking up so much precious space in my closet and I decided to display them on the shelf of my entertainment center. But not without a simple makeover first!


Fabric Covered Thrift Store Books at my3monsters.com
{Please ignore the scratched black paint on the armoire -- a major makeover of that is coming SOON!}  I dug out my books and some of my favorite fabric scraps and got to work.  I won't go into too much detail about how I made them, because it is pretty self-explanatory, but I'll show you basically how I did it.  First, pick a book and a fabric that coordinate -- or contrast -- whatever floats your boat.  I did a little of both because I really wanted it to be bright and fun.


Fabric Covered Thrift Store Books at my3monsters.com
I was going for a "raggedy" feel, so I chose to tear my fabric to the right width instead of cutting.  If I was going for a more finished look, I would have cut the fabric a couple inches wider than the finished width I needed, folded the edges under, and pressed them before wrapping the book.  Either way you choose to do it, decide how wide you want your fabric wrapper to be and how much of the original book cover you would like to see above and below it, then cut or tear a strip of fabric to that measurement.  Don't worry too much about the length of the strip right now.  Just make sure it is long enough to wrap all the way around the book and we'll trim it in the final step.


Fabric Covered Thrift Store Books at my3monsters.com
Open the front cover of the book and use a glue stick or double-sided tape to attach one end of your fabric strip just inside the front cover.  Close the book and wrap the fabric around to the back.  Pull fabric taut {but not too tight} and trim off the excess, leaving about an inch or two to glue inside the back cover just like you did in the front.


Fabric Covered Thrift Store Books at my3monsters.com
Close the book again to make sure the fabric isn't too tight.  {If it is too tight, the cover will not be able to close all the way.  If that happens, just peel the fabric off in the back and try again.}


Fabric Covered Thrift Store Books at my3monsters.com
I love how bright and happy these books look with their new fabric covers!  Obviously you wouldn't want to do this to a book that had any value, monetarily or sentimentally, but it's a fun way to breath new life into some old books that were wasting away in the thrift store.  I went for an ultra-bright mix of pattern and color {to mimic my Penguin Classics inspiration}, but you could also use this technique to visually calm a busy bookshelf, by covering all the books in white or another neutral shade. 


Fabric Covered Thrift Store Books at my3monsters.com
I can't wait to show you the full armoire makeover in the next week or two.  The changes I have in store are really going to make these pretty books look fantastic.  Stay tuned!


Have a great day!

Amy


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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Curry Chicken Crepes

Hi guys!  I must be on a cooking kick lately.  I've got another family favorite recipe for you today.  This is one that my kids ask for.  All. The. Time.  Even my pickiest eater will gobble these up, which makes them a win in my book even if it is a little bit time consuming to make the crepes.

Curry Chicken Crepes recipe at my3monsters.com
Until I tried these Curry Chicken Crepes several years ago, I had never eaten savory crepes before.  In my mind crepes were only for dessert, but this changed my opinion completely.  These crepes are a yummy combination of sweet and {slightly} spicy, crunchy and creamy.  Crepes are easy to make once you get the hang of it, they just take a little while since you have to cook them one at a time. You could make them a day in advance and keep them in the refrigerator to make dinner time easier. The filling cooks up quickly so you can serve these on even the busiest night.

Curry Chicken Crepes recipe at my3monsters.com

Curry Chicken Crepes

Basic Crepes
{makes approx. 16 6-inch crepes}

3 eggs
½ tsp. salt
¼ C. water
1 C. milk
1¼ C. flour
3 Tbsp. melted butter

Mix all ingredients in a blender. Batter will be thin. Pour a small amount of batter into a warm {med. heat} buttered skillet and swirl around to make a thin layer in the bottom of the pan.  Cook for 30-40 seconds until golden brown around the edges and center looks dry.  Flip crepe over and cook opposite side for 15-30 seconds.

Curry Chicken Filling
{fills 16 crepes}

4 Tbsp. butter
1 med. onion, chopped
1C. celery, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 tsp. curry powder
1 C. chicken broth
3 C. cooked chicken, diced
½ C. sour cream
chopped peanuts and sweetened coconut for serving

Preheat oven to 375ยบ.  Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and celery and saute until tender-crisp.  Stir in flour and seasonings.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add broth and bring to a simmer until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in chicken and sour cream.

Place a couple of heaping spoonfuls down the center of each crepe.  Roll and place seam-side down in a buttered 9x13 pan.  Brush or drizzle with a little more melted butter.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbling.  Top with chopped peanuts and shredded sweetened coconut.  You can also add a little mango chutney on top, if you like.

Curry Chicken Crepes recipe at my3monsters.com
I always use mild curry powder to make it palatable for my whole family, but if you like a little kick to your curry, by all means spice it up!  If you really don't have time to make crepes, you could add a little more chicken broth to thin the filling into more of a sauce and serve it over rice with the peanuts and coconut on top.   

Enjoy!

Amy


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