Home Hack

Let’s PAWS for PETS!

The best part of being “home” is spending time with our beloved pets! That’s why we’re sharing all of our favorite pet finds in this month’s Home Hack. We found most of our favorite items were available on Amazon, so we will share those pics with their stars rating below.

For the Dogs:

If you have big dogs like us, you know it’s hard finding toys that stand up to their level of play. These are our hearty favorites, and they’re bacon scented!

These balls are great for medium sized dogs, and the ball launcher has a variety of ball sizes available for a variety of dog sizes.

For dogs with storm sensitivities or other anxieties (like fireworks), these chews have been a miracle!

An honorable mention for calming vests. Ideal for the less anxious, but occasionally nervous dogs.

This shampoo by Jax-N-Daisy (jaxndaisy.com) keeps our pups fresh and itch-free.

Memory foam beds for dogs support their spine and joints just like it does for people. Don’t they look comfy?!

Speaking of support, we’ve used this joint supplement for years.

For the Cats:

This litter is hands down, the BEST litter we have ever used. Low dust and no smell, you can’t ask for more!

A Litter Genie is a MUST for cat owners. It might not seem worth it, but it makes clean up and disposal so easy. You’ll thank us later!

This little toy is so simple it looks like nothing, but cats absolutely love them!

For Pets of All Kinds:

Celebrate your pet and decorate your home at the same time with a pet portrait! We found several affordable shops online that make paintings and decor with a simple photo of your pet. For example, “MonicaACreates” is a shop we found on Etsy through a quick search, who is right here in Central Florida. What a great gift idea too!

Or get a minimalist locket, from “BijounBoutique” (also on Etsy) that holds a photo of your pet inside a little gem! You can look in, use your phone camera, or phone flashlight to reveal the image. Comes in necklaces and keychains. Also makes a great gift!

 

Do you have any favorite pet products? We want to hear about them! Please share your finds with us by commenting them on any of our pet posts this month on Instagram or Facebook.

(Also found on Amazon)

… and be sure to tell your dog we said “hi!”

Recipes

Crock Pot Caramel Apple Bar

Ingredients:

  • 28 oz (Approx. 2 pound bag) caramel squares
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8-9 Granny Smith or Pink Lady Apples (Or any of the more tart apple types.)
  • Optional: 1 Large Bag of Chocolate Chips (for adding a second coat, if desired)
  • Parchment Paper
  • Apple Sticks or Popsicles Sticks
  • Toppings of choice: Sprinkles, Chocolate Chips, Crushed Pretzels, Peanut Butter Chips, Toffee Pieces, Sweetened Shredded Coconut, Cereals like Rice Crispies, Graham Cracker Dust, Decorative Sugars, Finely Chopped Nuts, Crushed Candy Bars like Butterfingers – the sky is the limit!

Directions:

  1. Prepare your apples ahead of time by washing them in hot water, and then placing in the fridge for a few hours or over night. Skewer your apples before dipping.
  2. Unwrap your billion squares of caramel and place in small crockpot with 1/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of butter. Melt until combined, then be sure to set the crock pot to low or warm to prevent scorching.
  3. Dip cold apples in the caramel, place apples on wax paper to set.
  4. If coating with melted chocolate: place caramel apples in fridge for at least 10 minutes before coating in chocolate. Dip in chocolate, then immediately in toppings before returning the finished apples to parchment, then to the fridge.
  5. If coating caramel apples with toppings only: after caramel apple has set for a few minutes, roll the apples in your toppings. Set decorated apples back on wax paper, and place finished apples in fridge to fully set up.

Pro Tips:

  • If apples seem too large or time consuming to create: cut the apples into large slices or wedges. To prevent browning: Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Soak slices for 3 minutes. Place slices on paper towels to dry and then place in fridge to get cold before dipping. Note: You can also soak slices in lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7-Up instead.
  • Use small bowls to make dipping/rolling your apples in toppings quick and easy.
  • To make apples even fancier: use spoons to drizzle different melted chips (milk chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, etc.) on your apples after your toppings.

Store your gourmet apple creations in the fridge.

HAPPY CARMEL APPLE SEASON!

Curb Appeal

Halloween Home

This year, it seems everyone is ready to celebrate Halloween earlier than ever. We found plenty of options to decorate your yard in a flash on trusty ol’ Amazon.

Create a spooky scene with orange, green, or purple lights and a cool image projection show:

Decorate the porch with some witchy hats or ghostly windsocks:

 

While you’re there, add festive banners to the doorway:

Fashion a giant spider web that will be sure to gather some ganders:

Line your paths with a few jack-o-lantern stakes, or backlight some witchy silhouettes and faux grave stones:

Got leaves? Turn them into decorations:

Make your yard stand out instantly with giant inflatables:

SIMPLE DIY: If you’re not a fan of carving up your pretty pumpkins, try using black removable adhesive vinyl to cut out jack-o-lantern faces. Then gently remove after Halloween for perfect porch pumpkins.

How will you celebrate the spookiest season of the year? Share your decorated yards with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Home Hack

Chalk Paint for Fresh FARMHOUSE Style

Chalk paint is great for upcycling a piece of furniture that’s dated or doesn’t match your new style, but functions so well you’d hate to toss it. It’s even better for flea market finds that have all the functionality you need, but looks a little rough.

What type of furniture works?

The easiest pieces to use chalk paint on is furniture made with real wood. But there are several brands of paint that will work on glass, metal, wood, ceramic, canvas, etc. So you can have fun making matching accent items to coordinate with your refreshed furniture.

What style is chalk paint?

The results with this paint are going to be shabby chic, think farmhouse vibes, coastal, beachy, lived in. Expect to see paint strokes, it’s all part of the appeal and look for this painting style.

Okay! Let’s Paint!

Start by removing drawer pulls and/or taping off hardware and areas you don’t want painted. Spray painting the old hardware can be a great way to update without investing in new pulls. However, new pulls can help to modernize or theme (Example: Going for a coastal look? Try nautical pulls!) your freshly painted creation. We found these options on Amazon:

Once the hardware is removed, you’ll want to lightly sand* the surface so that the paint has something to grab on to.

PRO TIP: * Furniture prep and painting is best to do in a well-ventilated area. We prefer outdoors in the shade. Use a mask and protective eye wear to protect against saw dust particles and fumes.

The paint: Now choose a paint/color! When in doubt choose a neutral color, or a color that matches your walls. This Rustoleum “Chalked” brand chalk paint has never let us down. It’s available at home improvement stores, but we got ours on Amazon. The matte finish is perfect for a true chalk paint look.

You may also want to invest in a brush specifically made for chalk paint. These round brushes just work better with this paint process. Additionally, art brushes are great for the small areas.

Chalk painting is a process, so expect to spend some time. Concentrate on painting your piece in layers, rather than rushing to cover everything in one coat. Make choices on where you want to see the paint strokes (fewer layers) vs where you want the paint to be soild (more layers). Use a light hand and long brush movements (follow the grain) and let the layers dry for several minutes between coats so that you get the maximum adhesion.

Wax: After your piece has dried. Lot’s of people wax (with a chalk-paint-specific wax) their pieces to protect the finish. This slightly darkens the color, but protects the paint. Lightly brush the chalk paint wax on and wipe it off with a lint free cloth scrap after to keep the matte look.

PRO TIP: “Annie Sloan” is a great resource for searching how-to chalk paint videos on YouTube. She also has an entire line of chalk paint in super fun colors!

WE WANT TO SEE YOUR CHALK PAINTED MASTERPIECES! Share your before and after chalk paint projects with us so we can brag about your skills on our social media!

Recipes

“Say Cheese” and Ham Sliders

These little slider sandwiches are so versatile and scrumptious, they can be made for 2 or 10+ people with relatively the same amount of time and effort. They’re simple to make too, and perfect for campfire nights, parties, and family gatherings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Hawaiian style sweet dinner rolls, 24 rolls total
  • 1.5 lbs ham slices (Virginia (country) ham, dinner style, or even deli style ham works)
  • 12 slices of Swiss or Muenster cheese
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  • Carefully slice the whole tray of dinner rolls so there is a top and bottom. Ideally, without separating the rolls.
  • Place roll bottoms in 9 x13 cake pans, as your first layer.
  • Layer the ham and cheese on top of the roll bottoms.
  • Place roll tops on the sandwiches
  • In a sauce pan, melt butter and mix in the onion, poppy seeds, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce
  • Generously brush the tops of the sandwiches with the butter mixture.
  • Cover sandwiches and refrigerate over night or for at least one hour.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Be sure to watch the sandwiches so they do not burn.

Yum! Enjoy!

 

Curb Appeal

Mailbox Refresh

Does an old weathered mailbox got your curb looking drab? Time for a refresh!

Start first by selecting a spray paint developed for exterior use and the type of mailbox you have. We had a sun-bleached brown plastic mail box, and found this spray paint by Behr, at the Home Depot (pictured here).

Our experience: This Behr indoor/outdoor spray paint was easy to work with and had good coverage. It came in a variety of modern colors, has corrosion protection, and states it adheres to “wood, metal, plastic, and more”. (We used it on plastic.) It has been several months now and our mailbox still looks shiny and new!

Note: Some paints will not cure properly in certain weather conditions. Different spray tips may have different prep instructions. Even if you’ve spray painted before, be sure to read the label for use and safety instructions BEFORE painting.

NOW, GRAB YOUR SAFETY GEAR AND HEAD OUTSIDE TO PAINT THAT MAILBOX!

  1. For maximum results, remove any stickers (like vinyl box numbers).
  2. Use newspaper and painter’s tape to snuggly protect any other areas you don’t want painted. Think prime areas for over-spray, like the red mailbox flag and the post. Stand the covered flag up before you start to paint, ensuring no paper or tape is touching areas to be spray painted. PRO TIP: Spray paint particles will drift in the air. Do not spray paint near cars, walls, or anything that you don’t want to accidentally mist.
  3. Read your paint’s label and follow the instructions. Prep your can as the label indicates, and do a small test spray on a scrap piece of newspaper or cardboard. You want a clean even flow with the paint. No spattering.
  4. Spray the box in long continuous strokes, keeping at least 6″ away from the mailbox. (If you spray too close, or for too long in any area, it creates runs and drips.)
  5. Let the box dry for about 30 minutes between coats.
  6. When the box is completely dry, remove the tape and newspaper.

SPRAYING IN A CONTINUOUS MOVEMENT IS THE KEY TO AN EVEN, PROFESSIONAL LOOKING FINISH.

I concentrated on the box part first, keeping the door open, and using a piece of cardboard to shield the edges to keep from spraying inside the box. After that dried, (about 2 hours) I loosely closed the door and spray painted it.

I left the box open over night to make sure nothing got stuck. I also put a little note in there that said “CAUTION: WET PAINT” incase the mail carrier got there early.

VOILA! A better-than-new mailbox!

 

Home Hack

Are you STORM READY?

Florida is prime storm territory and being prepared can make all the difference. Here are some ideas to help you with your hurricane preparedness.

When hurricane season begins (even though there may be no named storms) part of “being prepared” means creating an emergency supply inventory. There are lots of items you can gather or purchase before there is a threat. Think about the things that are not easy to find when there IS an actual storm approaching. Items include things like canned and packaged non perishable foods, batteries, flashlights, and any other high demand items that are snapped up as soon as the spaghetti models start showing up on the news. Start early and you’ll have no problem creating your emergency inventory.

Found on Amazon

Food: Canned and packaged non-perishable food items should make up the bulk of your emergency food supply. The best part is, if canned goods are not your thing in everyday life, you can donate the goods after hurricane season when many organizations do food drives. We found these “emergency food supply kits” on Amazon, and have seen versions available at stores like Walmart too.

Pro Tip: Paper plates, napkins, cups, and cutlery are also a great thing to have in your emergency supply for easy clean up during a long power outage.

Water: In general, if you drink soda, have soda. If you drink tea, make tea. But you will still want to have some plain drinking water on hand for your emergency supply. If there is a water pressure loss or boil advisory during a power outage, you’ll need safe water for making food, brushing teeth, drinking, pets, etc. We read it’s recommended to have one gallon of water per person for every day, and most places recommend at least a 3-day supply.

PRO TIP: 5 gallon water bottles make it easier to store a water supply for family-sized needs.

When it comes to non-perishable and storm-friendly foods, there’s a lot more than Spam to choose from these days. But yeah, there’s still Spam. If you have a grill, camping recipes are a great source for better-than-beans-in-a-can hurricane cuisine.

STORM-READY:

Print out important contacts – Your phones may not work in the storm. Your phones may get damaged or you may lose power and have no way to charge them. Print or write out any contact information for family, friends, doctors, veterinarians, banks, etc. or other information you may need a hard copy of.

Refill prescriptions – Storm damage can effect supply times. If a storm is approaching, get any low/necessary prescriptions filled.

Fill the tank – Fill the car, but please NEVER fill any unapproved gas containers.

Charge the phones… and the laptops, the tablets, the headphones, the power cells, etc.

Games and activities – Waiting out the storm and being without power can be long and boring. Board games, cards, puzzles, and crafts are ways to pass the time with no electricity required.

Don’t forget the pets – Food, water, meds, snacks, and know where your nearest pet-friendly emergency shelter is.

Freeze some water – Freezing a few gallon bags of water can help keep the fridge cool or be used in a cooler should you lose power.

When gathering supplies take what you need, but remember there are others in need too.

Wishing you an uneventful, safe, and Storm Ready hurricane season!

Recipes

Soda Pop Popsicles

These delicious popsicles are delicious and very easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk. Low fat, fat free, or full fat all work.
  • 20 oz. (one small bottle) of the soda of your choice – orange, grape, lime, strawberry… even diet sodas make great pops!

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, slowly combine the soda of your choice with the sweetened condensed milk using a silicone spatula to combine.
  2. Fill popsicle molds a little over 3/4 of the way, allowing for expansion in the freezer.
  3. Freeze until firm.

Popsicle Alternatives:

  • No popsicle molds? Use a silicone ice cube tray, or paper cups with popsicle sticks.
  • Don’t like popsicles? You can use this same mixture in an ice cream maker to make a delicious sorbet.
  • TOO SWEET? Use diet soda instead of regular soda to cut the amount of sugar. We make ours with diet soda and fat free sweetened condensed milk – we can’t even tell there’s diet soda in it because the sweetened condensed milk has sugar in it, no matter how low fat it is.
  • MAKE IT FANCY: Add fruit bits or flavor enhancers that match or compliment your soda flavor.
    • Pineapple bits with pineapple soda
    • Thin strawberry slices with strawberry soda
    • Raspberries or blackberry bits with lemon lime soda
    • A squirt of matching water enhancer flavoring to boost flavor intensity.

ENJOY!