Chalkboard refrigerator schedule

Once again, summer is quickly turning into a sweet memory, while the new school year has crept up on us like ill-fitting underwear. Sigh.

The good news is that there are so many things I love about fall! For example, the change in season and lifestyle give me a wonderful opportunity to get recharged, refocused and reorganized!

The first fall order of business at our house? Create a stylish family schedule – displayed in a prominent location – to help us keep track of all our tasks, events and appointments.

This-week's-schedule

This-week's-schedule-CU

Materials needed to recreate this project:

(You could also replicate something similar by simply buying plain chalkboard vinyl, cutting it to fit your fridge, and using chalk markers to label the days of the week.)

I chose to place the vertical weekly schedule on the side of our refrigerator because this is a high-traffic area of our home. It is an area visible both from our kitchen and living room, and everyone passes by it multiple times daily. I believe this is one of the keys to maintaining a hanging schedule; it should be placed in a location where people pass by frequently.

After deciding on the location, I began applying the vinyl decal to the fridge.

For the full details on exactly how I did this project, check out my full post in the Royal Design Studio Paint+Pattern magazine.

This-week's-schedule-2

This schedule is helping our family stay organized and on top of our daily events. I also love that I can customize it for any season. The kids enjoy using it, too.

How do you keep track of your busy fall schedule?

Video: Easy projects for beginner DIYers

Here in Pennsylvania, winter is reluctant to let us out of its clutches. We woke up to more snow today! Despite the weather, I’ve been infected with a serious case of spring DIY fever and am officially in project mode. This past weekend, I finished up two easy projects I wanted to share with you today, particularly because they are perfect for beginner DIYers.

The first project is a driftwood candle holder and the second is a cabinet-mounted, magnetic knife block.

DIY-driftwood-candleholder

Magnetic-knife-block

For complete details on how to do both projects, check out the short video tutorial below:

To help you prepare, below are the lists of materials I used for the projects.

Driftwood candle holder

DIY-driftwood-candleholder3

For this project, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • 1 small stump or log piece (clean, dry and able to sit flat on a tabletop)
  • Power drill
  • 2-inch Forstner drill bit
  • Wood stain (I chose a combination of Rust-Oleum® Driftwood and Willow stains, available at Lowe’s.)
  • Polyurethane (I chose the Rust-Oleum poly in a satin finish.)
  • Votive holders (Mine measure 1 1/2″ in diameter at the base.)
  • Votive candles

Cabinet-mounted magnetic knife block

Magnetic-knife-holder

For this project, you’ll need the following supplies (available at Lowe’s):

  • 1 1″x2″x8′ section of lumber (I chose poplar and used a miter saw to cut it.)
  • Pre-glued, iron-on wood veneer edging (I chose poplar, to match my lumber. You’ll also need an iron to apply it.)
  • Block magnets
  • Wood stain (I chose Rust-Oleum Traditional Cherry and Kona stains.)
  • High-strength, clear epoxy adhesive
  • Mineral oil
  • Command™ strips or mounting hardware

QUICK TIP: If you have worn-out kitchen knives that need discarded, it’s important to use a safe method of disposal. First, check with your local metals recycling depot to see if they accept knives. If not, wrap the knives in bubble wrap, cardboard or layers of newspaper. Then use a generous amount of tape to secure the packing materials and dispose of the knives in a plastic or metal trash bin.

Have you caught the spring DIY fever yet? What projects do you have in the works?

Quick and healthy breakfast meals

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. I received a stipend to facilitate my purchase for my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Like about 99 percent of you out there, one of my goals this year is to make healthier food choices for our family. Breakfast is a particularly tricky meal because everyone is scrambling to get ready and we don’t have a lot of time for a hot breakfast.

Plus, I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that I would rather stick a hot fire poker in my eyeball than get up super early, so it’s safe to say that 6:30 a.m. is not exactly the time of day when I’m feeling like Betty Crocker.

But I still want to make sure we get a nutritious start to our day. And I know I need to begin by making Little Changes. So I’ve been on the lookout for easy-to-prepare, ‘super foods’ that we can get into our tummies quickly in the morning.

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘superfood,’ it describes an unprocessed, natural food that is packed with vitamins and antioxidants powerful enough to help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and even put you in a better mood – all with zero negative side effects.

One superfood our whole family absolutely loves – and one I’ve been adding to our breakfast meals every day – is blueberries.

Blueberries

According to a recent WebMD article, blueberries are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, and are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them the top choice of doctors and nutritionists. Not only can they lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a key driver of all chronic diseases.

Today I thought I’d share with you some super easy, quick and healthy breakfast meals I’m making right now that incorporate blueberries. If I can whip these recipes up in the morning, anyone can. 🙂

1. Blueberry apple sandwich (Prep time: Less than 5 minutes)

Blueberry-apple-sandwich

Cut an apple in half and remove the seeds and core. Spread the two halves with peanut butter and add a layer of blueberries. Done! The 2-year old tends to eat the blueberries first and then ask for more to be added before he gets to the rest of his “sandwich.” 🙂

2. Blueberry green smoothie (Prep time: 5 minutes)

Smoothie-ingredients

I think people shy away from making smoothies in the morning because they believe they need to be overly complicated and mixed precisely to taste good. Not true! I absolutely love making smoothies because I keep the same, simple key ingredients on hand and don’t measure anything. Smoothies can be one of the quickest and healthiest breakfast choices you can make.

To build a smoothie that is truly nutritious, you’ll want to keep the sugar content low and the vitamins and minerals high. Here’s my favorite combination:

Base: Coconut milk (about 1 cup) and a dollop of vanilla yogurt (Greek offers a higher boost of protein.)

Fruits and veggies: Baby spinach (2 cups), frozen blueberries (1 cup), and an apple (seeded and cored with skin left on)

Blueberry-smoothie

If it’s too thick, I’ll add a splash of water. This smoothie is sweet enough on its own; I do not add sweetener. My kids love this stuff and I feel good knowing we’re getting a nutritious breakfast, even if it’s in a glass.

3. Blueberries on yogurt and egg-white scramble with whole wheat toast (Prep time: Less than 10 minutes)

Blueberries-yogurt-and-egg-white-scramble

This meal sounds like something fancy you’d order at a restaurant, but it is so easy to prepare. It’s simply a cup of Greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries alongside scrambled eggs (yolks removed before cooking) and a piece of whole wheat toast.  

To jazz up the egg-white scramble, I add a few sprinkles of salt/pepper, chives and cilantro while they’re cooking. Perfection!

4. Slow cooker blueberry crisp (Prep time: Less than 10 minutes)

Slowcooker-blueberry-crispI originally got this recipe from Tiffany at Eat at Home. I modified it for breakfast using yogurt as a topping.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • ½ cup pecan pieces
  • ½ cup almond meal (I found this at my local health food store.)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 5 Tbs. butter, softened

Directions: Spray the inside of the crock with cooking spray. Place blueberries in the bottom of the crock (no need to thaw). Stir together oats, pecans, salt and almond meal (whole wheat flour or oats ground fine may be substituted for almond meal).

Slow-cooker-blueberry-crisp-ingredients

Add honey and softened butter, using a fork to make crumbles. Loosely crumble the topping over the blueberries.

Slow-cooker-with-blueberry-crisp

Cover and cook 3-5 hours on low.

Serve warm topped with vanilla yogurt.

Cooked-blueberry-crisp

A crock pot with a timer is a perfect way to have this recipe ready to serve in the morning. Or make it the evening prior and heat it up in the morning.

Again, please remember I must make food that small children will eat. All these recipes are kid-tested and approved. And they help us take baby steps toward eating healthier.

Smaller things like drinking more water or incorporating more blueberries into our
diets are Little Changes we can make to live healthier in 2015 and beyond. Thanks to our friends in South America, blueberries are in season all year round. Here are a few more fun facts about blueberries:

  • The domestic blueberry season runs from April to September, and once that wraps up, imports from Chile, Peru and Argentina start flowing in. So you can always find juicy, plump blueberries in the supermarket just like you do all summer.
  • Other forms of blueberries are great, too. You can stock up on frozen or freeze-dried berries to use when you can’t get to the store to buy fresh.
  • Blueberries have just 80 calories per serving (1 cup).
  • With 3.6 grams of fiber per serving, blueberries help meet your daily recommended intake of fiber.
  • Blueberries contribute vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese.

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council website offers a variety of tips on how to make eating blueberries a part of your lifestyle as well as a slew of recipes incorporating blueberries, which can be found here.

Plus, right now the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is hosting a sweepstakes through which you can enter to win a trip for two to Los Angeles for the Little Changes Kitchen Challenge alongside actress, author and TV host Alison Sweeney.

  • Runners up may win one of four $500 Whole Foods or Lululemon gift cards for a
    refreshed pantry or workout wardrobe. Choose little, win BIG. Hurry! Sweepstakes are open now through Feb. 16.
  • Enter to win here!