How To Make Your Own Breadcrumbs

How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs--an easy way to save money!

My husband opened the fridge up the other day and saw a package of hot dog buns sitting there on the shelf: “Are we having hot dogs for dinner tonight?”  Me: “No.”  (silence)  Him: “Then why do we have hot dog buns in the fridge…?”  Me: “To make bread crumbs.”

I’ve actually been making breadcrumbs for the last few years.  It is one of those things that I think isn’t worth the cost to buy.  I buy a package of 12 hot dog buns (or 8 hamburger buns) for $.99 and it makes about 2.5 cups of breadcrumbs.  Then I store them in an airtight container in the pantry and pull them out whenever I need a filler for my meatloaf or to make parmesan chicken.

How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs--an easy way to save money!

To make your own breadcrumbs, all you need to do is open up the buns and lay them out on a cookie sheet.  Leave them on the counter for about 24 hours.  Depending on how hot it is in your house, they should be dry or close to it.  You want to be able to break it in half easily.

How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs--an easy way to save money!

Throw the pieces into a blender (we have a Blendec) and pulse it a few times to get the pieces broken down.  Continue pulsing until the crumbs are the desired size.  I usually put about 1/3 of them in to start with and then add another 1/3 and the last 1/3 in increments.  This gives me more variation in the size of the crumb and makes it easier to break it all down. 

How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs--an easy way to save money!

Spread the crumbs onto the cookie sheet evenly and let dry for another 24 hours.  You want to make sure they are dry so they don’t get moldy.

How to Make Your Own Breadcrumbs--an easy way to save money!

Store in an airtight container.

*Note: To make your own flavored breadcrumbs, you could add onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc. before placing the crumbs in the container.

Easy right?  (Stay tuned for some recipes using breadcrumbs in the next month or so!)

What kitchen staples do you like to make instead of buy?

Font Friday: My 10 Favorite {Free} Handwriting Fonts

Welcome to another Font Friday!  Today I’m sharing some of my favorite handwriting fonts.  As always, they are free for personal use.  To download the font, simple click on the name of the font below the picture.  If you need help installing the fonts on your computer, click HERE for a step-by-step tutorial.

I hope you like these as much as I do!

Guest Post: Kendra Leigh Photography: How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!

I’m so excited to introduce today’s guest poster: Kendra Hill, owner of Kendra Leigh Photography and Video!  Kendra and I live in the same neighborhood and go to the same church house so we see each other pretty regularly.  Kendra is actually the photographer who took our most recent family pictures and she also took my kids’ pictures about a year ago for Mother’s Day.  And see that picture of me on the sidebar?  Yeah, she took that one too.  So I am very familiar with her work and think she is great and totally recommend her to anyone looking for a photographer.  When I asked Kendra if she’d be willing to do a guest post for me, I was so happy she said yes because I know photographers are always super busy in the spring with weddings and family pictures.  I’m guessing that some of you might even be in the midst of planning one of these things out for yourself/your family.  Today, Kendra will be sharing some tips for choosing colors for family pictures (which I always find super tricky)!

***

Ohhhhh the joys of pictures! Honestly, I love them! That’s why I am a photographer. Not only do I love taking pictures, but am also a complete ham in front of the camera. After being a photographer and taking hundreds of family pictures, even I still struggle with picking outfits for my own family.

Last month we had our own family pictures taken and I went through about 3 different outfit variations along the way. I knew I wanted them to be more simple and classic so I decided on pink with white/cream, and have the boys in blue jeans. I had a dress I planned to have my daughter wear and then I bought myself a dress. The colors of our dresses didn’t match at all! I was going for a rose pink and hers had a slight orange tint while mine was a little more purple. Not good. I played with the idea of adding in turquoise as well, but with 4 of us I felt it might get overpowering for the clean and classic look I wanted. Still, I came up with new outfits adding in the additional color. I didn’t like it. I eventually took the dress back and happened to find a perfect one when I stopped by Down East Basics on a whim (I’d already looked and didn’t find anything before)! I was back to my original color scheme of white, pink, and blue jeans. I love how they turned out! I do have certain tips I give to my clients, some of which I didn’t follow…. and reaped the consequences. I hope these help you avoid my faux pas, and take some stress off of your shoulders.

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!

1. Choose a Location: You want to be sure you will not blend into the background. Pick outfit colors that will stand out! If you want a location that has a lot of trees and green grass, you don’t want to wear green. If you are taking pictures with red brick, you don’t want to wear red. White barn? Don’t wear white. You are paying to have pictures done and to document your family, you want to be able to see everyone. If you have no clue about what location you want, speak with your photographer, or you can search on Shootipedia.

2. Pick a Color Scheme: The time of matchy-matchy outfits (jeans and white shirts anyone?) has gone the way of the dodo. When you are first picking your outfits, its best to pick 2-3 colors and a neutral. If you have a hard time picking colors that go together, I suggest looking at design-seeds.com and finding a pallet of colors you love and match your outfits to that.

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!

3. Wear Something that you Like:  If you are uncomfortable in your clothes it will show through the pictures. This goes for children too. If you force your child to wear something they hate, it is more likely they will be upset and hard to work with. Also, watch out for accessories that they may like to put in their mouths when you’re not looking, or will be a distraction. I put a bow-tie on my little man because he always pulls off his ties and puts them in his mouth. I knew that I would end up taking it off before pictures were done and I really wanted him to have a little pink to tie our color scheme together.

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!

4. Pick the Outfit for the Hardest to Dress First: When I started planning my family pictures, I made this mistake. My daughter had tons of cute dresses and I had a couple to pick from and thought it would be easy to find a dress for me. NO! After I scrapped everything twice, I found a dress for myself and suddenly everyone else’s outfits slid into place. Pick the person in your family that will be hardest to find an outfit for and start with them.

5. Add a Pattern: Too many patterns get busy, but having one person in a pattern with one or two of your selected colors looks great! Too many solid colors can become boring, especially if you have a lot of people in your pictures.

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!

6. You Don’t Have to go Shopping: Many people don’t realize that they already have the perfect outfits already. Before you go shopping at the store, go shopping in your closet! Take the color palette you have chosen and go into everyone’s closets and pull all of the clothing items that fit your vision. Put together as many outfits as you can (or all of them!) before you go to the store. When I spoke with the mother pictured below, she told me how much she hated shopping and I told her to go shopping in her closet before going to the store. They had a lot more than she thought, and they decided to go with shades of blue for their pictures.

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!


7. Plan for the Weather: I live in Utah so you never know if it is going to be cold, rainy, sunny, bright, snowy, etc. In fact, you could get all of the above during your session! Crazy Utah weather. If it is below freezing, perhaps find some nice sport coats for boys and pea coats for girls. Just because there is snow, it doesn’t mean you can’t get pictures! Just be sure you know your kids personalities (and husband’s…) well enough that you know they will weather the cold and not be grumpy the whole time. If it is going to be rainy, take some umbrellas and use them as props as well as to keep you dry! Regardless, take the temperature into account and wear the appropriate amount of layers, sleeve length, thickness, etc to give you the most comfort during your shoot.

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!

I hope these tips help you to create beautiful family pictures, and take some stress off of your shoulders!

How To Choose Colors for Family Pictures: 7 great tips from a professional to make sure you choose the best colors for your family!

About Kendra: I am a stay-at-home mother of 2 and a huge advocate of sweat pants. Though I adore my two children, I sometimes lock myself in my room with a large glass of chocolate milk and some loud rock music to keep my sanity. I am also the owner of Kendra Leigh Photography and Video which is a boutique photography studio specializing in providing an amazing experience for my clients rather than simply giving a disk or thumb drive.

Feel free to contact me via email with any questions or to set up an appointment at kendra@klphotographyandvideo.com.

Craft Room Organization {Using Chalkboard Labels}

Sunshine and Munchkins: Craft Room Organization {using Chalkboard Labels}--an easy way to quickly organize your craft room!

When my husband and I started to work on finishing the basement, my only request was: “Can I please have a craft room?”  Knowing how much craft stuff I have, and how much my husband dislikes when I spread it all over the kitchen counters, he made sure that I had a space dedicated to my craftiness.  (He still likes to call it an office, but we both know it’s really my craft room.)

Please note that I received product for my review.  All opinions are 100% mine.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

I’m still working on getting it completely organized before I reveal it to you all, but one thing that needed some serious organizational help was my tall cabinet of craft drawers.  This was on my list of “must-haves” when I was designing the space. I purchased it from IKEA from their Alex collection.  I love how many drawers it has.  Seriously, this thing is a dream.  Oddly enough, this is also one of the things that makes it so hard to organize because I can never remember which drawer has what in it.  Half the time I need something I have to go through two or three drawers to find it.

Sunshine and Munchkins: Craft Room Organization {using Chalkboard Labels}--an easy way to quickly organize your craft room!

*UPDATE 4/7/2017 – The chalkboard labels used in this post are no longer available via Amazon.  I received some different chalkboard labels for my review and I am recommending these chalkboard labels instead (plus they come with 2 chalk markers).  I have replaced the links in this post with the new labels.

So when I was asked to review some chalkboard labels, I knew exactly where I wanted to use them: my craft room!  The labels come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it so easy for me to pick just the right one out.  Plus, there were six sheets of chalkboard paper that I could cut out into any size or shape I wanted.  (My Silhouette Cameo would be perfect for that.)

Sunshine and Munchkins: Craft Room Organization {using Chalkboard Labels}--an easy way to quickly organize your craft room!

To write on the labels I used regular white chalk as well as these cool chalk pencils.  They look just like colored pencils and they sharpen just like colored pencils, but they are chalk.  It made writing the words out on the labels so much easier and more legible, plus it added a little bit of color and character, which I liked.  Another thing I really liked about these labels was that the chalk came off when I wiped it.  I had to redo a few of the labels to get them the way I wanted and each time it rubbed off great.

Sunshine and Munchkins: Craft Room Organization {using Chalkboard Labels}--an easy way to quickly organize your craft room!

When it came time to place the labels on the drawers, I pulled out my ruler (I only had to check two drawers before I found it) and measured the center so I had a good idea of where to place the label on each drawer.  Then I peeled them off and put them on each drawer, trying to bend the label a little towards the middle and then outward as it stuck.

Sunshine and Munchkins: Craft Room Organization {using Chalkboard Labels}--an easy way to quickly organize your craft room!

TA-DA!  I love the way it turned out!  So nice and organized and labeled.  (My husband even peeked in and said it looked good.)  Chalkboard labels are a great way to organize your craft room (or any room really).  I like that they are permanent in that they stay on the drawers, but provide flexibility to move things around if I need to change out what is in each drawer and just rewrite what’s on the label.  Easy peasy.

Sunshine and Munchkins: Craft Room Organization {using Chalkboard Labels}--an easy way to quickly organize your craft room!

What are your favorite ways to use chalkboard labels?

Bubble Snake

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

The weather here in Utah has been pretty crazy lately.  It will be sunny and 80 degrees one day and the next will be rainy and 60 degrees.  My poor kids ask me every morning if it’s going to be a warm day outside so they can play in the yard.  Thankfully, today the answer was yes and they were outside as much as they could be playing on the swing set, jumping on the trampoline or splashing in the water.

One of their favorite things to do outside is blow bubbles.  We go through more bubbles than almost anything else they play with.  (This could also be due to the fact that they tend to spill the bubbles…)  While my son was napping, my daughter and I made a little contraption that when you blow into it, a stream of bubbles comes out the other end.  We call it a ‘bubble snake’.  It’s really simple and costs practically nothing to make.

What you’ll need:

  • sock
  • empty waterbottle
  • scissors
  • duct tape

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

First, cut of the bottom inch of the water bottle.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Then cut the sock below the heel.  You may need to cut a little more off depending on the size of the sock and the size of your waterbottle.  Just keep trimming until it’s about an inch or so below where the bottle starts to taper towards the top.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Use some duct tape to secure it to the bottle.  Make sure you pull the sock tight so that it’s not baggy at the bottom.  This will create a better bubble snake.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Mix up some ‘bubble juice’, as my kids like to call it, by putting some water and liquid dish soap in a shallow bowl or container.  You can also use the pre-made stuff from the store, but I think the homemade kind works better for this activity.

Put the bottom of the sock in the soapy water and then blow through the top.  Don’t suck back in otherwise you’ll get a mouthful of bubbles (not that I know this from experience or anything…).

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

My kids love this activity.  They will take turns making bubble snakes while the other one will try to pop them.  Super fun.  Super cheap.  Super easy.  Definitely my kind of kids activity.

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

Bubble Snake: My kids love making these bubble snakes and I love that they are free to make!

I hope you have fun!

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi {plus Book Club Discussion/Questions}

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi {plus Book Club Discussion/Questions}

Every other month, a group of my friends and I get together for a young adult book club.  Someone in the group hosts and we all discuss the most recent book we read, eat treats and laugh a lot.

This month, we read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

My summary and review (4 stars):
(*contains spoilers*)
When I first started reading this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  (I wanted to like it because I want to go into most books with the hope that I will like them and they will be worth my time.)  If I hadn’t read the synopsis, I would have had a hard time figuring out what was going on since the story starts after a lot has already happened.  Juliette seems like a likeable enough person, but you can tell that being isolated for so long is taking a toll on her.  She’s trying to keep herself from going crazy but bits of it creep in, which I think is to be expected.

When Adam shows up in her cell, I was worried that the book was going to turn into this romance where because he’s nice to her that she falls in love with him.  Turns out she already knew him from her time before The Reestablishment came and she was already in love with him but she thinks that he doesn’t remember her.  As time passes, they become friends (again) and she begins to trust him.  I think it’s reasonable to believe that a person who isn’t able to touch anyone else (because their touch is deadly) would both fear and desire trust and acceptance from others.

After a time, Juliette is taken up to meet Warner (the other guy in the love triangle), transferred to a type of military headquarters and given nice food, running water, clean clothes and a bed.  Juliette is visibly shaken by this after being kept in such an awful place for 2/3 of a year and knowing that so many other people in the world are living in poverty.  I think the author did a good job of showing Juliette’s raw emotion.  Juliette reacted the way you would expect: with anger and a desire to rebel.  We see this anger and hatred, especially towards Warner and The Reestablishment, and it is what drives her until she discovers that Adam can touch her without getting hurt.  Then of course her libido kicks in and Juliette uses her love, or what she understands love to be, as her motivation to keep going.

When Juliette and Adam escape to his “house” and stay with Adam’s little brother, the libido kicks in again and I was ready to skip through a few paragraphs because I get tired of these type of scenes.  Thankfully, nothing really happens and the next day Kenji (Adam’s friend in the army) shows up injured and convinces Adam and Juliette that he knows of a safe house he can take them too.  The place he takes them to is Omega Point and is the headquarters for the resistance, which we find out that Kenji is a part of and also has a special power.  Juliette meets Castle, who is the leader of the rebellion, and helps her feel at ease and more comfortable in her abilities and less afraid of hurting anyone by giving her a special super suit.  And then the book ends.

I hated the ending.  It was too abrupt.  At the same time, it did make me want to pick up the next book and start reading so I guess that’s saying something.  I had a few things about the book that I didn’t like:

  • Juliette would use these metaphors that sometimes made sense and sometimes made no sense at all (this is a recurring theme throughout the book).  I think that by doing this, the author maybe just meant to further show her fragile mental state but it was frustrating as a reader because when I read/hear a metaphor, I want it to make sense.  I don’t want to wade through a lot of words to find the meaning.
  • I had a hard time picturing the world the characters lived in.  Was it completely desolate with buildings few and far between?  Was it cities that had been mostly destroyed but people were still living there?  What was the landscape like?
  • From the time Adam and Juliette escape from Warner, it’s less than a week and Juliette goes from being insecure and afraid of her powers to confident and ready to become a part of the rebellion.  You can tell that she’s trying to be strong and have courage but this seemed like a big jump for me.

Even though there were things about the book I disliked, overall, I enjoyed the book.  If you like dystopian/paranormal books, then this is for you.  It has kind of an X-Men feel to it.  (I haven’t read any of the other books in the series as of yet, but I understand from others that they answer a lot of questions that that first book brings up.)

Book Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi {plus Book Club Discussion/Questions}

Book Club Discussion Questions:

  • Do you think the author’s background may have influenced how her characters interact in the book? (Tahereh is Iranian-American–her parents are immigrants.)
  • There was a lot of backlash from the Muslim community when this book came out.  Why do you think that is?
  • How did you like the author’s/Juliette’s writing style?
  • What does the writing style show about the mental stability/progression of the Juliette?
  • Do you think Juliette’s reaction to not being touched her whole life is normal?
  • Do you see any similarities between their world and ours in terms of how we react to people who are different?  Cultural?  Political?
  • Do you think there is an inherent part of us that makes us want to touch other people?
  • How did you feel about the use of metaphor throughout the book? 
  • Discuss the symbolism of birds.

What did you think about the book?

Summer Pallet Art

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

I was looking at my spring mantle this week and realizing that it was time to start thinking about summer decor.  So I looked through my summer decorations and noticed a serious lack of summer-y-ness (totally a word) in my collection.  A few months ago I picked up a 12×12 unfinished pallet board at Walmart without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it but thought it would come in handy one day.  (This is a habit that drives my husband crazy, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.  *wink*)

So I grabbed the pallet board and opened my Silhouette software on my computer.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I use my Silhouette Cameo all the time on all different types of crafting projects.  I absolutely love using it to cut vinyl because it’s so precise, even on very small images or words.  My idea for this project was to use summer words on each row of the pallet board with a simple background.
To make your own pallet art, you will need the following:

  • acrylic paint (in your desired colors) 
  • paintbrushes/foam brushes
  • vinyl
  • transfer paper
  • Silhouette machine (or similar)
  • optional: stickers or rub-ons for the words (if you don’t have a way to cut the vinyl)

I found the perfect sun cut file in my library and resized it to fill a good portion of the board.  Then I typed out a few words that describe summer to me: sunshine, popsicles, flip flops, watermelon and summertime.  Then I found a font I liked and arranged the words in an order I liked.  As I did this, I realized that I could go from shortest word to longest word from top to bottom which I though flowed really nicely.

To give me a better visual for how the finished product would look, I resized some rectangles to mimic the pallet board, then filled everything in with the colors I wanted to use.  You can see what I did below:

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

To prep for this project, I cut out the sun and words using vinyl.  I knew I was just going to use the sun cutout as a stencil so I used some less expensive vinyl I have on hand for just that purpose.  Then I cut out the words by opening a new file and copying and pasting the words there.  Using the grids, I measured how big each piece of vinyl would have to be to fit each word and then cut it out so I wouldn’t waste any and placed it on the cutting mat and cut it out.  For the words, I used some new colorful vinyl that I recently received as a promotion to try out and review.  The pack I received had 35 6×12 sheets included in all different colors and finishes: shiny, matte and metallic.  (I used the shiny kind.)  When I used it in my Silhouette Cameo machine, it cut beautifully and I didn’t have any problems.  It’s a great value too.  (You can find it here.)
*Note: I received the vinyl at a deeply discounted rate in order to try it out and review it.

Before placing the sun stencil on the wood, I sanded down some of the roughness with a piece of sandpaper.  Then I positioned the stencil on the wood and pressed it out, paying special attention to the edges so that when I painted over it that the paint wouldn’t seep under.

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

I like the look of distressed wood without worrying about sanding so I used some petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to distress the wood.  (You can learn how to do this here.)  I dabbed a little here and there trying to follow the grain of the wood.

Once the petroleum jelly was on, I grabbed some acrylic paint and started mixing the colors.  Originally, I wanted to do a sort of ombre with the blue background, but it didn’t quite work out.  If I look at it now, it’s a very subtle change in color and not as dramatic as I had hoped.  I only did a couple of thin coats and thinking back, I should have done a couple more, especially since the wood was unfinished and soaked up some of the paint.

I removed the vinyl stencil while the paint was still drying to create more crisp lines (just like painting a wall, right?).  Then I let it dry for another 10 minutes.  While it was drying, I added a little more petroleum jelly to the spots where the sun stencil had been so it would appear distressed there as well.

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

To paint the sun, I used a smaller brush to paint around the edges, then filled it in with a foam brush.  I used a little more paint on the sun and I think it turned out a little brighter and more how I would have liked the blue background to look.

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

I used a paper towel to wipe off the paint and petroleum jelly (refer to my tutorial) and then I placed the vinyl words on the board.  I would definitely recommend using transfer paper for this.  One trick I’ve learned is that you don’t need to use a new piece of transfer paper for each piece of vinyl.  It will stay sticky enough that you can reuse it a few times. 

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

I did run into a little bit of a problem with the wood soaking up some of the petroleum jelly and it was a little hard to get it off and it had sort of a greasy look around the edges of each spot.  I think this happened because the wood wasn’t sanded down and there were lots of nooks and crannies for stuff to get caught in.  But not to worry–I have a solution!

Solution: To soak up some of the petroleum jelly, I sprinkled some baby powder over it and left it for a couple of hours before I blew it off.  There were a few places that I had to use my fingernail to get some of the powder off.  Overall, the powder did a great job of soaking up the greasiness and I was a lot happier with how it looked.

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

And now I have a fun, new, summery decoration for my house!

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

Summer Pallet Art--a fun and easy way to brighten up your home for the summer!

What holiday/season do you lack decorations for?