Romantic V-Day Picnic Update

I wanted to update you on the picnic that I blogged about last week. It case you missed it, here is the post.

My husband felt so special and loved. It was one of the best times we have had outside of the house in a while. Who knew what a sitter and budget friendly picnic could do. It was a surprise for him so I did not let him read my post until after the date. We had some hiccups along the way because the locations I had initially mapped out were inaccessible but he was so understanding about it. We put our heads together and found the perfect spot.  I forgot some key items in my picnic basket but we made the best of it. It was a blessing to our marriage to sit outside (it was beautiful by the way, 72 degrees and no humidity) and talk to my husband without distractions. We did not have a child to look after, a waiter or other diners to be mindful of-just us and nature. There were other people at the park too but they kept their distance. One older lady told my husband that “what we were doing was very nice to see”. That let us know that other people were blessed by our expression of love.

I found my picnic basket, wine glasses, and plates at a local resale shop all for under $10. I bought some ribbon from a craft store and I had the linens already. Shortly after I got married, my grandfather gave me some household items that he and my grandmother (who passed away 9 years ago) had stored away.  The gingham tablecloth and napkins were included in those items.  This made the picnic even more special having those items from my grandmother to make the day even more memorable.

We had sun, a cool breeze, trees, water and animals to add to the ambiance.  We both love nature and we both needed some quiet time with each other.  What do you and your love like to do for romantic dates? My advice is to be creative and think outside the box. The best dates are the ones that you put a lot of thought into. It shows your spouse how much you love them and are willing to go the extra mile to make them happy.

Here are some photos from our day.

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A Valentine’s Day Picnic

Ideas for a Romantic or Family Picnic this Valentines Day

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I remember my husband took me on a picnic for my birthday the first year we started dating. He surprised me by showing up at my job dressed up in a suit (he was a grad student at the time, so jeans were his normal attire).  He told me he would be my personal butler that day. He had premade sandwiches and snacks prepared and we had lunch on the lawn in front of my office. It was so romantic and one that I will remember always. In fact, he proposed to me during a romantic picnic. So it is safe to say that we love picnics.  We haven’t had a picnic in a long time and I have never prepared one for him so I think I will this Valentine’s Day (I  live in Texas and the high temp should be 68 degrees).  If you are in cold weather, you can do this inside on your living room floor. Here are some ideas I had to make it special.

P.S. I will not let my husband read this until after this weekend.

You will need a picnic basket.  You can buy one pre-made like this one from One Kings Lane
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Or make your own. Here is a simple list of items you can buy from your local resale shop, fabric store and dollar store.

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1. Picnic basket-You can find a variety of baskets at the craft store and resale shops for less than $10. Etsy also has some vintage picnic baskets. Here are some that I found today.

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2. Fabric in any print that you like. You can use the fabric to cover the basket, as a tablecloth or as a blanket.

3. Utensils/Plates- Utensils can be plastic, stainless steel, or silver (if you want to be really fancy ;)) Dollar Tree has some stainless steel utensils for $1.  Plates can be china or plastic ware. Tie some ribbon around the plates and utensils to make an impression.

4. Flowers

5. Food-Cheese, veggies and fruit are a staple but if you want to make it really special then try some of these recipes;

Avocado Ham Sandwiches

Reuben Wraps

And a family friendly one- Peanut Butter and Jelly Wraps

6. Linen napkins wrapped in ribbon or string or a printed paper napkin works as well.

7. Beverages and don’t forget the wine glasses or cups. Dollar Tree has these for $1 as well.

Enjoy your day whether it’s with your loved one, friends or family.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

DIY Beginner’s Tool Kit Essentials

new-home-ownersHave you just moved into a new home, apartment or condo? Are you lost as to what tools you will need? Are you going to a housewarming party and have no idea what to give as a gift? Well this list is just for you.


I have composed a list of items that I believe any person who wants to decorate their home will need. I recently visited a friend in their new place and they were severely lacking in the tool kit department. I starting thinking of all the essentials they would need and I decided to compose this list.  Now there are many more items that could be on this list but I wanted to keep it simple for the newbies. I hope this helps you.

Tool kit essentials

Chair Makeover

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I purchased this preloved Cane-back barrel chair from Craigslist. I think I paid $15 for it.  It is in excellent condition but I believe it was the previous owners’ cat bed.

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Needless to say I had to completely strip the material and cushion from the chair.  I had another chair that will be updated at some point and it’s cushion was in perfect condition. So I used that cushion and altered it to fit my chair that I was working on. If I didn’t have this free one on hand I would have used a coupon from JoAnn Fabric or Hobby Lobby. They always have coupons online or through their phone apps.

I purchased this fabric on sale at JoAnn Fabric. Did you know that you can use the same coupon on two separate transactions?  Also they will accept competitor coupons that you can use in addition to their coupons. 

Here are the steps to the transformation

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1. Remove the existing materials-

I used a flathead screwdriver to pry the staples from the chair. I used pliers to pull the stubborn ones that broke halfway. Try and save the thin fabric that covers the hardware underneath the chair. It is usually grey or black.

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Examine the existing cushion and batting condition- Is it peeling, dusty, moldy etc? Then you should Replace it! If it is slightly discolored then that is ok. As long as it is not a health hazard, we can save it. If you need to buy a new cushion, measure your seat (LxW and down the front and right and left sides -where the back of your knees will touch). You will need to buy High Density Foam in 2″ or 3″ thickness and enough batting to cover your foam.  As I mentioned earlier this was used by a cat, so I discarded the cushion and batting then shopped in my garage for more. I cut it to size using sharp scissors to fit my chair.

2. Paint your chair-

I used spray paint because I found it was faster and easier to use with the cane weaving.  (One of the best spray paints for furniture is Krylon. You can quickly make second coats and it sticks very well.) Let the paint dry for 1 hour before moving on to step 3.

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To save my hands I use this spray grip for my paint can. Here is one similar that you can buy.

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3. Seal the Finish-

Apply a wipe-on Polyurethane with a clean white rag or staining sponge and rub the polyurethane into your furniture like you would with furniture polish. You want a thin but even coat. Wait another 2 hours or overnight to let the sealant dry.

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4. Add your cushion and your batting-

IMG_5972I have enough overlap for the (behind the knee) area. I also overlapped the cushion on the right and left sides.

5. Now reupholster-

Load your gun with plenty of staples before you start. Cut your fabric to the shape of your chair. Be very careful around the legs because you want to make sure you have plenty fabric to tuck in these tight areas. Pull the fabric taut and staple very well all around and underneath to secure it properly.

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Mrs. Santa Claus Pillow from Recycled Sweater

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Recycled sweater into this adorable pillow

1. Take your sweater and cut two equal squares the size of your pillow form.  If you are using fiberfill, you can choose the size of your pillow.

20131207-090154.jpgHere is my old sweater poncho thing.

2. Place the front square for your pillow right side up on a flat surface. Then place the back square right side down on top of the first piece. The two front sides will be facing each other. Pin the sides together.

3. Now stitch with a stitch width of 4″ on your sewing machine or you can hand stitch.  Stitch all the way around but leave a 5″ opening on one side.

4. After you have sewn all sides except your 5″ opening, trim your corners and now turn your pillow outside in.

5. Insert your pillow form or fiberfill.

6. Now you are ready to stitch your 5″ opening. Now add a bow. You can hand sew, glue or pin like I did. I want to use this pillow after Christmas so I wanted a temporary embellishment.

Hope this was fun for you to make. If you made one, please tell me about it in the comments section below. You can also ask me a question about this post.
Merry Christmas to you!
~Melissa

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Fringed Tree Skirt Tutorial

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Start with a fleece blanket (one that has a fringe already will cut down on time).

I found this blanket at my local thrift store for $4. Fabric stores will have fleece by the yard and superstores should have blankets on sale this time of year. 

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Fold it in quarters. Use a ruler or tape measure to make marks that are 24″ from the folded corner to create the arc. Cut the along the arc line.arconblanket

Now cut the folded corner arc about 2-3″ to create the hole for the tree base.

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Unfold then make one cut down the middle to open up your skirt.

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Fringe

Stitch the fringe that you cut from the blanket to the edge of your tree skirt.

FOR THE “NO SEW” version- You can skip making a seam and glue the fringe directly to your skirt.  You will want to have made clean cuts so you will have a nice edge.

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If you run out of the pre-made fringe you will have to make your own to match the existing fringe.

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Add the “bling” with a hot glue gun or fabric glue.
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I got this multi pack for $3 at a fabric/craft store.

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Now place your skirt under your tree.

This should not cost you more than $10 to make. And that’s what I call “Blinging on a Budget!”

Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake

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PRALINE PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Printable Recipe

Just in time for Thanksgiving. This is a recipe that has become one of my favorites to make this time of year. I love cheesecake and adding in a little pumpkin makes this recipe perfect for Turkey day.

INGREDIENTS
Cheesecake Crust
2 cups crushed graham crackers
8 tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup of sugar

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
3 packages (8 ounces) cream cheese, soft at room temperature
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
4 large eggs
1 can (15 ounces) solid pack pumpkin; not pumpkin pie filling
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Praline Topping
1/2 cup firmly packed Dark brown sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325°F.
1. To make crust, use a rolling pin or food processor and crush graham cracker to obtain 2 cups. Add melted butter, sugar, and combine well.
MY TIP: Place parchment paper in the bottom of the pan before you press crust in. Cut a circle as close to size as you can. This will help you slide  the entire cheesecake off the bottom of the pan to the serving dish without it tearing apart. If you want to keep in on the cake pan then skip this tip.

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2. Press onto bottom and up sides of a 9-inch diameter spring form pan and place in oven for 9 minutes.
MY TIP: Use a measuring cup with a flat bottom to press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. This will help keep the crust even and compact.

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3. When the pan has cooled, wrap the outside of the pan with 3 layers of tin foil. Ensure that no water could penetrate through foil. Place pan in a roasting pan and set aside.
4. To make pumpkin cheesecake, beat soft cream cheese and both sugars on low speed until well blended with no lumps. Scrape bowl well.
5. Add one egg and mix. Then add the rest of the eggs, mix each egg one at a time.  Scrape bowl and beater well in between additions.
6. Add pumpkin, spices and vanilla and mix to combine – do not beat, just mix by hand. (Don’t over beat cream cheese mixture.) Pour into cake pan over crust. Pour water into roasting pan, about 1/2-3/4 inch high, and place in oven.
MY TIP: Place foil around the bottom of cheesecake pan  will prevent your cheesecake from baking too fast and drying out.

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Bake until center of cake no longer trembles, about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours.
MY TIP: You do want the cheesecake to brown too much, or crack. Check periodically and shake to see if the center is no longer liquidy, it will be more like firm jello.
7. Pull roaster out of oven and pull out your cheesecake. Allow cheesecake to cool at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Place in refrigerator overnight. Bring your cake out of refrigerator about an hour before serving to bring it to room temperature. Remove outside of springform pan. Remove the cheesecake from the cake pan base and place it on your cake plate.
MY TIP: Take a long sharp knife and gently slide under the bottom of the cheesecake (in between the parchment paper and cheesecake) until you have loosened the entire cake from pan. Slide the cheesecake onto your platter.  
8. To make the topping, begin by toasting pecans for 8 minutes in a 350°F oven if desired.
In a saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil excluding pecans. Boil for 3 minutes ensuring that mixture will not boil over. Remove from heat and stir in pecans.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread on surface of cake.
Use a sharp knife that has been run under hot water to cut. Clean knife and run hot water on knife before each cut. You can also use dental floss to slice.

Enjoy!

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Adapted from Imperial Sugar recipe

Whimsical Gender Neutral Nursery

This is officially my first blog. Well, here it goes!

I decided to share my son’s nursery from my first house. This was the first nursery for the Pearson household. It all started with a vision of a mural that I had. I did not know the gender so I wanted something colorful but gender neutral. I decided to incorporate animals and shapes in contrasting colors to help increase my baby’s vision development.

Taken from this article on Parents.com

Young children only really detect bold, primary colors; they probably discern reds and greens best, followed by blues and yellows,” says Lise Eliot, PhD, author of What’s Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. That’s one good reason to deck out the nursery and choose infant toys in primary colors rather than pale pastels.

We chose blue as the primary color because my husband and I both loved blue. We felt it was also a soothing color so it was the perfect backdrop for the mural. I also wanted the mural to be whimsical and fun with winding branches, colorful leaves, shapes and animals.

The nursery was budget friendly. We purchased the changing table, side table, bookshelves, and books at garage sales and resale shops. The chandelier was taken from my dining room and given a new look with some paint, drum shades, and ribbon. The mural was very economical to paint. I used mostly sample paint and quarts of paint. The mural costs me about $30. That’s what you would pay for a decal these days and that is usually one tree and one animal. My advice is to Have fun and let your imagination run wild.

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Here’s a fun video from True Value about the consequences of choosing the wrong color for your nursery.

If you are having trouble deciding on color for your nursery, this is another great article.