Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  

   
 

The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from Walmart.com.  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  

  

I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

  
We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

  
We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

  
The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

New years resolution. Yep I made one, yep I’m keeping it. So far anyway…

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If you know me personally, you know I am simultaneously the most organized and the most unorganized person you will ever meet.  lol  Let me explain, I love my label maker, organizing bins, color coding, and labels that all face … Continue reading

20 Random kitchen products you had no idea you would need/want!

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I’m a bit quirky.  I like unique things that’s for sure.  My kitchen is no exception, I strive to find the funnest and funkiest kitchen gadgets around.  I’m going to share with you my top 20 adorably fabulous kitchen gadgets … Continue reading

Apple pie and baked apple cups

Everyone is always raving about my apple pies so thought I would share my process with y’all. The greatest part is, you can use your leftovers to create an additional goody: baked apple cinnamon cups. Yummmm!

I think everyone is going to be shocked by how easy this is. Seriously, everything I make is easy and quick even if it doesn’t look like it at first glance.

I do sometimes make my own crust but I’ll be honest with you, I despise rolling it out. It frustrates me beyond belief. This is also why I hate working with fondant when I make a cake.

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Sorry, couldn’t resist! Anywho, more often than not, it’s pilsbury to the rescue! My OCD really loves how the crusts are perfect circles when you roll them out unlike my own hand rolled crust. But I digress…

You’ll need:
-1 box of refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts per box)
-4 apples. I use 4 different kinds of apples: Granny Smith, golden delicious, red delicious, and gala. You can use any combination of apples you so choose or all the same kind if you prefer. I personally like the different tastes the variety provides.
-1 pie tin
-1 small mixing bowl and 1 larger mixing bowl
-cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar, apple pie spice
-vanilla flavoring and caramel flavoring
-1 stick of butter

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Preheat your oven according to your pie crust packaging instructions for 2 crust pies. Usually 375.
Peel and core your apples and slice them as thinly as possible. I put the slices in the large bowl as I cut.

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Line the pan with the first pie crust and trim edges with a knife or kitchen shears if needed. I use my hands to mix up the apple slices so that the different types are evenly distributed. Once mixed well, fill your pie crust and place the stick of butter in the small mixing bowl.

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Microwave butter for about 45 seconds or until fully melted. Add about 1 tbsp of sugar, 5 tbsp brown sugar, and a sprinkle of each cinnamon and apple pie spice. Mix it well and pour about half of the mixture over the apples.

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Lay out your second crust on a cutting board and use cookie cutters to make a design or cut the crust into strips to make a basket weave design if you want. Place the crust on top of the apples, press firmly all around and trim edges if needed. I like to put the crust cutouts back on top. Looks nice and the crunchy crust pieces are the hubby’s favorite part. I then take a fork all around the edge and sprinkle top with cinnamon.

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Ovens will vary but you’ll need to bake it for about 20-30 mins or until your crust looks golden brown.

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It’s best served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. :)

Now, I usually have some leftover crust trimmings, sliced apples, and buttery filling on my hands. We don’t let that go to waste! Take an extra apple, (I used a golden delicious here) and use a knife to cut around the core. Use a spoon to dig the insides out. I rinse the apple and pour a little of the butter mixture inside it. I twist it around to make sure the inside is coated. I line a pan with foil and place the apple on it. I then take a handful of leftover apple slices and dice them before placing a handful on the pan. Drizzle a little buttery/sugary goodness over the apples and mix around. I use the cookie cutters to cut out a few shapes from the pie crust trimmings and place them in the pan as well.

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I bake the apple next to the pie for about 10 minutes or until it’s nice and soft and the pie crust shapes are nice and flakey. Place the hot apple on a plate or in a bowl, place a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream inside and top with baked cinnamon apples. I sprinkle a dash of cinnamon over the top and add a pie crust shape for garnish.

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Grab a knife and a fork and enjoy! Delicious!

BBQ bacon cheddar balls

Going to quickly share one of our favorite quick easy meals with you. My kids can smell these a mile away and always get super excited when I make them.

You know the drill, gather your supplies:
-1 lb lean ground turkey
-Shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup)
-BBQ sauce of your choice. (About 1/2 cup). I use sweet baby rays sweet and spicy sauce. It’s ah-maze-ing!
-about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, crushed crackers, or oatmeal (I used bread crumbs here)
-bacon bits jarred or fresh
-1 egg
-seasonings of your choice (optional). I use my old trusty garlic powder and onion powder.

We often choose asparagus and white rice or cauliflower rice as our sides. I start by chopping the ends off of the asparagus and laying it out on a cookie sheet. I then drizzle some coconut oil and squeeze a small lime wedge over the top and use my hands to toss and coat it. I then sprinkle a little pepper and sea salt and toss them in the oven at 425 degrees.

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While those are busy getting extra delicious in the oven, toss all your meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Only use about 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce and save the rest for the pan. Mix well.

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Pour the remaining BBQ sauce into a pan, add a little water, and mix around before turning the heat on medium. While your sauce begins to warm, use your hands to roll meatballs and drop them into the sauce.

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You can add more sauce and water if needed/desired. Turn meatballs often for even cooking and sauce coating.

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While these are cooking, you should start on your rice. I don’t think you need an instruction on how to make instant white rice do you? Lol

By now your asparagus should be perfect. Remove it from the oven, serve it all up, and enjoy!

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Creating collapsible doll rooms (Part 2)

Well if you know me at all you know once I get rolling on a project, it pretty much consumes me!  I will stay up till the wee hours of morning to get things just right if need be.  Our doll house additions were no exception to the rule.  A few days ago I shared with you our doll bake shop and our schoolroom.  We’re still working on a name for the bake shop, we’ve received several great suggestions so keep them coming!  If you missed the last post you can find it here:

http://diaryofadysfunctionaldomesticdivablog.com/2014/09/04/creating-collapsible-doll-rooms/

Today I’m going to feature our newest additions.  A doll salon and a doll playroom.  I’m not going to lie, the playroom was my ultimate favorite project!  I kinda have a bit of an obsession with miniature things so this room was super fun!

For the salon, the girls chose a purple and white stripe scrapbook paper and a light pink.

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The spa chair, salon chair, and the vanity/nail salon are all from AG.  The pink mirror is actually a jewelry mirror I found at Hobby Lobby a few years ago.

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The pink cash register is the extra register from the second snack stand I purchased for the bake shop.  I got the little nail polish graphic online and added pricing to it in photoshop.  I printed it on card stock and attached it with double stick tape.  The tiny plant came in a package of 2 at Michael’s in the dollar spot.  I think they were originally $3 but I found them on clearance.

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The styling caddy is AG and they have since released a new one that is super cute!  The styling cape came from a Target Our Generation styling set.  I found the super cute word art styling sign by googling “salon sign” and then adding pricing to that as well.

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The girls and I scoured google image for “american girl doll photography” and found some super cute images of dolls with different hair colors and styles to display on the salon wall.

For the playroom, the girls chose a super fun bright colored striped paper for the top and a sunny yellow for the bottom.

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The table is a Bitty Baby art and music table that has since been retired but it’s super cute.  The top flips over and has a working xylophone  and some other fun things.  I found the rocking chair at a city wide garage sale for charity a few years ago and the little stand was an old jewelry box that I removed 2 drawers from to create shelving and repainted.  It actually used to be in one of the girls doll bedrooms but was perfect for in the playroom instead.  The doll sized jenga game came from dollar tree as did the lamp.  The foam alphabet flooring also came from Dollar Tree.  My girls flipped over it because we used to have the big kid sized ones in our playroom!

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The little toy bucket came in a package of 2 at Target in the dollar spot last year.  The small princess ball came from dollar tree and we’ve collected various doll sized toys over the years.  The rubix cube, frisbee, slinky dog, and etch a sketch came from Party city.  The mini build a bear came in a Mcdonalds kids meal last year and the other stuffed animal was a beanie baby keychain that we removed the ring from.

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The tiny doll sized board games are all keychains that I purchased on amazon and ebay last year.  I used to love them when I was a kid!  They all have real moving parts and game pieces!  The mouse trap is ADORABLE!  The apples to apples game came in the AG sleepover set.

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I googled “playroom art” and found this cute playroom rules sign.  I scaled it down in photoshop and printed on card stock and secured to the wall with double stick tape.  I need to make a large one for our real playroom because it’s so stinkin’ cute!

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The painting easel and canvas came from the AG Saige’s painting set.  The cute little Fancy Nancy book was purchased on Amazon.com by my mother as stocking stuffers for the girls one year.  They came 4 to a pack and she split them up amongst them.  You can find the whole collection here:

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Aaaaaahhhh!  My absolute favorite part of the playroom!  I googled “children’s art work” and “kids handprint art” and went to town picking some of my favorites.  I scaled them all down in photoshop and printed them.  I colored the tiny hello kitty sheet with actual crayons for effect.  Yes, I know, I’m a complete freak!  lol  I stapled them to a piece of yarn and tacked it to the board.  I’ve since purchased tiny colorful clothespins at hobby lobby to secure the art in a much cuter way than the staples!

That’s all for now kiddos!  I’m taking a break from elaborate doll rooms for a while to I don’t know, re-organize my own real people size closets!  lol  Hope you’ve enjoyed our little doll tour and are able to draw some inspiration for your own little darlings.

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