Plastic Tote Makeover

It's hard to believe this was once a dirty old green storage tote!

It’s hard to believe this was once a dirty old green storage tote!

I have a preschool son, and we had some of his toys in a ratty old tote outside our front door on our patio.  I had wanted to build a wooden toy box, but after checking out lumber prices, I decided it would be too expensive at the moment.  Solution?  A little spray paint, some stencils, craft paint, and polyurethane!  The colors and style go great with the rest of the items on my porch, and my son loves it because he picked out the yellow chandelier and flower for the sides.  If you look closely, you’ll see that the corners of the tote were chewed by our dog.  Even that imperfection doesn’t take away from the great look this tote gives.

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Step one: Spray paint your tote.

Step two: Stencil or paint your design on the dried coat of spray paint.

Step three: Let dry for a few hours.

Step four: Apply a thin coat of poly to the painted surface.

Step five: Let dry and enjoy!

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Weird Animals VBS Decorations and How-To

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Weird Animals VBS Stage Area

The stage consisted of a waterfall, grass, flowers, and a jungle-view plastic window.

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The waterfall was super easy to make and was my favorite part of the decorations.  We used green plastic tablecloths in the background and a large cross canvass for the foundation of the waterfall.  Since most churches probably don’t have a canvass of this size sitting around, a piece of plywood would work well, too.  We simply draped a blue sheet over the canvas, then followed with blue lights and a dark and light blue tulle.  We started with the blue sheet because the tulle was kind of see-through.  The rocks were created by crumpling up packing paper and taping/tacking it in place to look like rock.

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The grass was time-consuming but made a good overall impact.  It was created by cutting cardboard boxes in the shapes of grass blades, then painted green.  We used two different shades of green to add depth.

The flower attached to the cart in front was made from construction paper.  The ladies that made these for us did a great job!  You will see more construction paper flowers in some other pictures as well.

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The large flowers were created using pool noodles, paper plates, and 5-gallon buckets.  They were super cool and the more “weird” they look, the better!

All of the paper plate flowers complete.  We painted the plates, then hot glued them together.

All of the paper plate flowers complete. We painted the plates, then hot glued them together.

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Once the plates were complete, I had to attach them to the pool noodles.  I poked two holes in the back of the flowers and strung craft wire through the holes, then attached the wire to the pool noodle.  Some of the flowers were heavier than others, and the pool noodles needed some extra support.  I taped a broom handle to two of the six flowers I made for added support.  Don’t be surprised if the next day your flowers need attached tighter.  Once I adjusted them, they lasted all week without falling off.

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I taped the pool noodles into 5-gallon buckets.  Since my buckets were orange I decided to hot glue some confetti-like paper around the edge to give the flowers a whimsical feel.  The buckets could be spray painted green to blend in with the grass more, but I liked the orange.

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Entry hallway- the kids had to walk through this hall to get to the main stage.

Entry hallway- the kids had to walk through this hall to get to the main stage.

We decided to line our hallway with green plastic table cloths and posters of the Weird Animals.  We added green balloons to the ceiling to make it feel more jungle-like, and had vines strung throughout.

The vines were created by twisting packing paper into a tight vine-like form, then taping leaves.  It was a great look!

Beware- Weird Animals- Caution- This Side Up

Beware- Weird Animals- Caution- This Side Up

 

These boxes were right inside the main doors to VBS.  The bottom one had holes poked in it and glowed from orange Christmas lights.

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This little guy was in the ages 2-3 classroom.  So cute!

This little guy was in the ages 2-3 classroom. So cute!

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I hope these ideas helped with any events you might be planning.  If we inspired you, leave us a comment and let us know!

Our Weird Animals VBS was held July 7-11th, 2014, in Soldotna, Alaska.

Crustless Quiche Makeover, Paleo-Friendly!

Yummy bacon, garlic, onions, spinach, and green peppers make this dish delicious!

Yummy bacon, garlic, onions, spinach, and green peppers make this dish delicious!

This recipe is a makeover from my previous Crustless Quiche Recipe.  I omitted the cheese and added meat and more veggies.  Feel free to add/omit any veggies or meat you want- the possibilities are endless!

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Paleo-Friendly Crustless Quiche

3 eggs
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 cups fresh spinach
4-5 pieces turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
dash of pepper
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Spray 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.
3. Heat skillet over med-high heat.  Coat with cooking spray and cook garlic and spinach until spinach wilts.
4. In a large bowl, wisk eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, pepper, bacon, green onions, and spinach.
5. Pour into pie plate.
6. Bake 35-40 minutes or until eggs are set and the top is golden brown.

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Protein Pancakes, Paleo-Friendly and Low-Carb!

These 5-ingredient pancakes are full of protein and contain no flour!

These 5-ingredient pancakes are full of protein and contain no flour!

Looking for a Paleo-friendly menu item?  Maybe just a healthier version of your kid’s favorite food?  Well, here it is!  These 5-ingredient pancakes are very healthy and a great alternative to traditional pancakes.  There is a certain knack to cooking them, but by the time my first batch was finished I had gotten the hang of it.  The key is to keep the heat lower than what a traditional pancake cooks at, and to keep your cakes small- about 3 inches in diameter.  Once you cook one successfully, use two pans and cook 6-8 at a time.

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Protein Pancakes

3 bananas
3 eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat skillet on medium-low heat.
2. Combine eggs and banana in a blender and mix well.  Pour into a bowl and add peanut butter, vanilla, and cinnamon.  (If you don’t mind your pancakes slightly lumpy, skip the mess of a blender and mash bananas with a fork, then mix with other ingredients in a bowl.)
3. Grease skillet and pour your batter into a pancake about 3 inches in diameter.
4. Be patient.  These pancakes cook slower than traditional pancakes.  If your heat is too high, your pancakes will burn on the bottom while the top is still too runny to flip.  It may take a few tries to get it right, but by the time you’re done you should have the hang of it.  ;)

Cranking out the cakes!

Cranking out the cakes!

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Recipe adapted from pinterest pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/99149629271216272

Recipe adapted from blog: http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/breakfast/perfect-paleo-pancakes/

 

Homemade Coffee Creamer

Simple ingredients for this DIY coffee creamer.

Simple ingredients for this DIY coffee creamer.

Who knew making an all-natural version of your coffee creamer was so easy?  All you need are 2 main ingredients, then add your flavorings.

Base Ingredients
3-1/2 cups milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk (read your ingredients to make sure you are getting all natural!)

Additional Ingredients
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract (since I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, I only used 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 Tbsp Cinnamon (optional- heat one cup milk for one minute in microwave, then mix in cinnamon thoroughly and add to the rest of your mixture)

Place in a tightly-sealed container and shake! (Recycle an empty creamer bottle if you have one!)

My homemade cinnamon vanilla coffee creamer.

My homemade cinnamon vanilla coffee creamer.

 

For more flavor combinations, visit http://www.savvyshoppercentral.com/homemade-coffee-creamer/

 

 

 

Pinterest pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/99149629271226566/
Recipe found: http://www.savvyshoppercentral.com/homemade-coffee-creamer/

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Who needs traditional crust when you can have this low-carb version?

Who needs traditional crust when you can have this low-carb version?

Eating low-carb or Paleo can be difficult, especially when you miss your favorite foods like pizza.  The texture of this crust is definitely not like pizza dough, but the taste was good.  The crust was  a little floppy for my son, who cut his up with a fork.

The pinterest pin can be found here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/99149629271210230/
The direct link to the recipe: http://www.pinkspantry.com/2013/11/spaghetti-squash-pizza-crust.html

 

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Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

  • 3 cups cooked spaghetti squash (approx. 1 large spaghetti squash)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup flour (I used wheat flour)
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesean Cheese (I used a parmesan and garlic blend from my local grocery store)
This parmesan cheese blend gave my crust and awesome flavor!

This parmesan cheese blend gave my crust and awesome flavor!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cook spaghetti squash. (Cut in half, scoop out goop, and microwave in a dish with a small amount of water.  5 minutes face down and 5 minutes face up.)
3. Let squash cool to the point that you can handle it. (I threw mine in the freezer for a couple of minutes.)  Scrape out the squash with a fork or spoon.  Use a cheesecloth or strainer to get rid of as much water as you can.
4. Mix together squash, egg whites, flour, and parmesan cheese.
5. Divide crust into four balls and flatten onto a greased pan so that you have four separate crusts.  Spray the top of your crusts with pam and sprinkle any seasonings you’d like.  (I didn’t use any seasonings since my parmesan cheese was seasoned well)

Three of my crusts on a pan.  They aren't perfect circles- don't judge. ;)

Three of my crusts on a pan. They aren’t perfect circles- don’t judge. ;)

6. Cook for about 10 minutes, then flip your crust with a spatula.  Let cook about 5 more minutes.  You want both sides fairly crispy but not burnt, and of course you want the inside of your crust cooked.
7. Remove crusts and add sauce and toppings.  Put back in oven until cheese is melted or toppings are heated through.

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According to Pinks Pantry, the entire batch of crust contains 265 calories.  Take that, Pizza Hut!

Sweet Potato Cookies- Low Carb, Paleo-Friendly

These yummy cookies have no flour, no oats, and no sugar!

These yummy cookies have no flour, no oats, and no sugar!

Recipe taken from pinterest at: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/99149629271216323/
Direct link to recipe: http://thepaleomama.com/2014/01/sweet-potato-breakfast-cookies/

 

I have recently begun eating a low-carb diet similar to the Paleo diet, so I have adopted many Paleo recipes over the past couple of weeks.  This cookie recipe is a great snack or quick breakfast, and is a great change from raw veggies or a cooked egg.
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Sweet Potato Cookies

1/2 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter)
1/2 cup pureed sweet potato (cook sweet potato before pureeing- I used a fork and smushed mine up instead)
1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey (I used honey)
2 eggs
2tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 cups of mix-ins (I used 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and 2-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix together.
3. Drop by tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet.  Press down slightly with palm. (Batter is messy!)
4.Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

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You should get 12 large cookies out of the batter.  (I got 11 when I made them)

Other ideas for mix-ins are: raisins, dried cranberries, various chopped nuts, chocolate chips

To cook the sweet potato quickly, poke with a fork and microwave in a covered glass dish for 6 minutes.