Monday, February 8, 2016

Kids Coat Closet and Charging Station

Kids Coat Room and Charging Station
About 5 years ago my 13 year old son decided that he wanted to build a play restaurant for his brothers for Christmas.  He designed and built this simple structure in our back yard.


Lots of pizza's ready to serve

Taking an order

The drive up window
Sandwiches and desserts
This little play restaurant was well loved at our house, but time marches on.  I'm a little too sentimental and possibly 1/2 a hoarder when it comes to stuff my kids made, I needed to find a way to give this restaurant new life.  The littles (my 2 younger boys) don't really need a play structure and I had another problem that I needed to solve!

Kid clutter
 We don't have a mudroom and so coats and backpacks usually end up piled a disorganized mess in the living room.  That's when I decided to transform the play restaurant into a kids coat room - and charging station!

With this transformation I could solve 2 problems.  The kids charge their electronics all over the house leaving cords draped EVERY WHERE!

Kids charging station

First the coats! I added coffee cup hooks to a piece of 2x4 and made a coat rack.

Kids coat rack

Next, I used scrap 2x2 pieces to make braces for the open back of the play structure.

Add 2x2's to make braces for the backpack rack
I added some old crib railing to the back of the restaurant to hold backpacks.  I wanted to add hooks to hold backpacks, but I didn't want anything that might poke or injure the kids.

Old crib railing and drawer pulls hold backpacks
I found drawer knobs that were long enough and strong enough to hold the kids backpacks.

Drawer pulls instead of hooks
With just an hours worth of work, the kids coat closet was all done!

Kids Coat Closet

The inside of the closet is a pretty dark, so I added a little light!

Light inside the closet
With the lights on!
Now for the charging station!

I added a piece of scrap 2x2 to the back side of the structure.

2x2 screwed on to the back of the structure
Using heavy duty velcro, I mounted a power strip to the 2x2.

Power Strip for the kids electronics

Power Strip mounted in place
Finally, I mounted a basket just inside the coat closet/restaurant.

Basket to hold the kids electronics
To be honest I wasn't sure that the kids would use the charging station without me making them do it.  Then late yesterday I saw this:

Quiet Game place area

I found my youngest son sitting on a pillow playing games on his ipod inside the coat closet.  He said that he likes the space because he can charge his games and play without being in the way.

For more CRAFTY ideas, click HERE!

Very soon this little coat room will bet a paint job and carpeting.  I'll keep you posted!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tips and Tricks: PREVENT Sweater Pills!

Left Side Sweater Pills
Sweater pills drive me CRAZY!  Over the past few years I've noticed that a LOT of my sweaters have heavy pilling on my left hip.  The right side gets a little, but my left hips gets a LOT!

I've used all kinds of contraptions to remove the pills once they arrive:  The Gleener is my favorite,

The Gleener is my favorite

Gleener Kit

but other fuzz removers work as well.

This one is nice

Sweater Shavers are nice
Pill removal is fine, PILL PREVENTION is better!!!!

A co-worker made a suggestion that blew my mind.  She said "if you're getting pills on your sweaters, cut the tags from the inside of your coat or jacket!"

Coat tags ruin sweaters!
This information is AMAZING to me!  AND it works!!!!

Vicious Coat tag

I had a particularly vicious tag in my favorite coat.  It's ruined more sweaters than I care to think about.

This tag had a bit of the plastic price tag attached and it was shredding sweaters as fast as I could buy them!

Coat tag with plastic price tag attached

You can see from the picture that this tag even had the evidence of it's sweater shredding ways still attached!

Sweater fuzz attached to coat tag.
Turns out - the most powerful tool against sweater pills is scissors.  Remove those tags and enjoys a pills free (or greatly pill reduced) life!

Remove your tags TODAY

For more Tips and Tricks, click HERE!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cooking - Homemade Caramel Corn (with nuts)

Homemade Caramel Corn with nuts
I was attending Movie Night at a friend's house and thought I'd make a special treat.  This caramel corn was a big hit!!!

The good news is that it's also super easy!  Here's the recipe:

Homemade Caramel Corn (with nuts)

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (that's 1 stick)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz of your favorite nuts (optional)

1/2 cup of  unpopped popcorn
3 Tablespoons of oil (to pop the popcorn)
cooking spray or silpat or parchment paper

Large pot
cookie sheet

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  I use my wok to make this treat but any large pot will do.

Pop the popcorn
Add the 2 tablespoons of oil and unpopped popcorn to a pan.  Pop the corn, remove any unpopped kernels and place the popcorn on a cookie sheet.

Keep the popcorn warm in the oven.
Place the popcorn in the oven to keep it warm while you make the caramel.

Start the Caramel 
Wipe out the pan you used to make the popcorn and use it to make the caramel.  Combine butter, brown sugar, salt and syrup.  Heat over medium heat.

Simmer stir the caramel
Simmer and stir the mixture for about 5 minutes.  Then remove it from heat.

Remove the caramel from the heat and add baking soda
Add the vanilla and baking soda.  The baking soda will cause the caramel to bubble up and turn a lighter shade of brown.

The baking soda causes the caramel
to change colors and bubble
Stir the mixture until the bubbles have subsided.

Add nuts if you like
Stir in the nuts (optional).  Eight oz. of nuts creates a lightly nutty caramel corn.  If you like lots of nuts add 16 oz or more.
Nutty Caramel
Return the popcorn to the pan and gently combine.

Toss the popcorn with the caramel
The product WILL stick to a cookie sheet.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or use a silpat (non stick baking mat) or line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Time to go back in the oven!
Bake the caramel corn at 250 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cool completely or you'll burn your lips!
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool COMPLETELY!

Break the cooled caramel corn into chunks or pieces and enjoy!

Popcorn Bar!


Add a little zip to your caramel corn with finishing salts.

Add finishing Salt for added zip!
Sprinkle the freshly baked caramel corn with the finishing salt of your choice.  I like Thai Ginger Salt!

My husband likes it when I make this treat with seasoned nuts.  He prefers Sea Salt and Pepper Nuts.

Seasoned Nuts are great in caramel corn!
For more yummy RECIPES, click here!

Print and Save Recipe
Click HERE to print  recipe card

Monday, January 25, 2016

Homemade Poptarts

Homemade PopTarts
Homemade PopTarts are just about the easiest snack in the world to make for kids (and adults).  I've made them on this blog before.  

The kids and I made them again this weekend and I changed up my recipe just a bit.

Homemade Pop Tarts
(makes approximately 16)

For this recipe you will need:
2 - Refrigerator pie crusts (I use the ones in the box, but homemade is fine too)
2-3 Tablespoons melted butter
Your favorite Jelly or Jam
1 egg (optional)
granulated sugar (optional) 

Rolling Pin
Pastry brush

Allow the crust to sit outside the refrigerator for a few minutes.
Room temperature dough is less likely to crack.
Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Unroll 1 pie crust.  Use the rolling pin to flatten and thin out the crust.  Roll it to approx 1/4" thickness.  Be careful not to roll the crust too thin.

I prefer to use a store bought refrigerated pie crust, but you can certainly use home made.

Store bought crust works GREAT for this recipe.

I cover my cutting board in plastic for this recipe.  The dough is less likely to stick to the plastic covered board.  

Add a thick layer of jam
Add a thick layer of jam to the dough.  The jam should be in the shape of your poptarts.

Fold the dough in half and cut out the tarts
Fold the dough in half and cut out the tarts.

Use a fork to crimp the edges of the tart
Use a fork to crimp the edges of the dough and transfer the tarts to a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Make a few vent holes in the top of the tarts.

In a bowl, combine the egg with 1 Tablespoon of water to create an egg wash.

Egg Wash makes the tarts nice and brown
Brush the tarts with egg wash.

Brush the top of the tarts with egg wash
Special Note:  You can brush the tarts with either egg wash or melted butter.  The egg wash makes them nice and brown.  The butter gives a richer flavor.  If you prefer you can skip the egg wash AND the butter and just leave them plain.

Lightly sprinkle the tarts with sugar.

A little sugar for extra sweetness
Bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly brown.

Bake until lightly brown

The jam in these tarts hold a LOT of heat and can easily burn your mouth.  Please allow them to cool thoroughly before you attempt to eat them.


For more recipes, click HERE!