Back on That IPSY Train

I am jumping back on the IPSY train!  I have been a bit lax with posting my monthly IPSY bag so I thought to make up for it (no pun intended) I would post the new bag along with my favorite products from the previous month.  If you are unfamiliar with IPSY it is a monthly subscription box that contains 4-5 beauty product samples, some products may be full size.  Each month has a different theme and the products come in an adorable theme based cosmetic case all for just $10.  You can find more information and subscribe here.

The Summer Lovin July IPSY bag was one of my most favorite IPSY bags of all time.  I barely have pictures to share because I couldn't wait to use it!

First off, LOVE the bag, to me it says SUMMER!  The first product i tried and loved was the Vasanti Brighten Up scrub.  It left my face feeling clean, smooth and I do believe a bit brighter. I would definitely repurchase.  My second favorite product was the much loved TARTE Park Avenue Princess Amazonian Clay Waterproof Bronzer.  I have loved it from a far, don't know why I never purchased it on my own.  I am a big fan of TARTE to begin with and Park Avenue Princess did not disappoint.  A lovely shade perfect for contouring.  I always share my bag with my daughter and she loved the Octavio Molina Sea Salt Spray and the Be A Bombshell Lip Balm in Ruby.  The only product we haven't had the chance to use yet is the Aurora Gel Effect Nail Lacquer but the week isn't over yet!

At first glance the August Prep School IPSY bag was cute but I thought the products inside didn't seem to match this month's theme.  This months products are the Good Night Night Creme by LA Fresh Group, Albertini Devine Skin Hydrator, Doll 10 Creme Blush, Noyah Natural Lipstick and Lord & Berry Lipcolor and Liner.  We will see which products become a favorite...but you'll have to wait for next month!!

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Coat Closet Redo

Our coat closet lives in our foyer.  This is one of the hardest working spaces in our house and with all the kids home for the summer it is basically a disaster area.  I know that organizing systems have to be reevaluated every so often and changed when the system no longer is working for you.  Well, HELLO, NO LONGER WORKING!  This is embarrassing, just look at it!  There are still winter coats in there.  Granted they are winter coats brought home in May by my college boy but still, these should have been dealt with months ago. 

With any reorganizing project I usually make a list of all the things that are still working for me and those that are not working. 

              Working                                                   Not Working                                         
    Containers on top shelf                                      Shoe Storage
       Wooden Hangers                                             Drawer Unit
          Door Hooks                                            Vacuum/Broom Storage
                                                                   Hanging Clear Plastic Shoe Shelf

1.  The first step to any reorganizing project is to completely empty the space.  Return any items that don't belong  to their proper home.  Purge what is just not worth keeping and donate those pieces that still have some life in them but no longer fit anyone in the house.
2.  Vacuum and wash out the closet.  Don't forget to wipe down the walls and baseboards.
3.  Return the storage items that will be kept.   In this case the wooden hangers, which I purchased at Target in December.  The three Riesenthal storage boxes I purchased at The Container Store some time ago and have been the perfect storage solution for the extras that we all keep in our coat closets.  

4.  I needed to replace the hanging  plastic shoe shelves and the plastic drawers.  I really wanted the shoes to be hidden from view when the closet was open and I needed something to hold seasonal items like hats and scarves in the winter and flip flops in the summer. I found this 4 cube organizer by Threshold at Target for $39.  I purchase 4 bins, also by Threshold at Target for $9.99 a piece.

 With the help of my son, we put it together and added it to the closet.  I was able to fit all the shoes and extra seasonal items in the 4 drawers.

I tucked the vacuum in the corner and my redo was DONE.  After using our new system for a few days I asked the kids how they liked it.  They all said they did't like having to pull out a drawer to put their shoes away....HA! My favorite part of the redo is the kids had to pull out a drawer to put their shoes away!  LOVE IT!

Reorganizing a closet may not be the most exciting redo but I have to say, this one sure made me happy.  Its the little things ladies.

Enjoy the weekend ahead.




Preschool Prep: 10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Preeschool

As a preschool teacher I know that the first day of preschool can be difficult for both parents and child.  This is such an exciting time for both of you.  Your child is taking a huge first step in their education and you are taking that first big step in letting go.  I assure you, there will be tears on BOTH sides of the classroom door! With some preparation the transition from home to preschool can be fun and easy for both of you!

   1.  Stay Calm -  This may be the most important step of all. Even if you are a bit sad or nervous  always speak positively about your child's pending preschool days.  Children can easily pick up on their parent's emotions, if you are excited about preschool, your child will be excited about preschool.
   2.  Read -  Pick up some children's books about preschool and begin reading them to your child as soon as possible.  This can help your child become familiar with a classroom routine.
   3.  Visit -  As soon as you select the preschool your child will attend be sure to arrange a visit for you and your child.  It will be fun to see the classroom they will be in and they will soon be able to see it as "their" school.  Be sure to attend your preschool's open house and "Meet the Teacher" days.
   4.  Play -  Every preschool has a playground, make several trips to school just to play on the playground.  Even a child who is upset on the first day of school often will calm down quickly on the playground, especially if it is familiar.  
   5.  Make it Special - Make your first "Back to School" shopping trip extra special.  Let your preschooler pick out their first school backpack.  Help them fill it with a few things they will need to bring to school.  Tissues, baby wipes, zip top bags etc.  "Back to School" shopping is one of my favorite days spent with my kids every year.  
   6.  Routine - Get  into the school routine at least a week ahead of the first day of school.  Early bedtimes make early mornings easier.  Don't forget to adjust nap schedules.
   7.  Pick a Buddy -  Let your child pick a stuffed friend to tuck in their backpack to comfort them during the school day should they get upset.  I had a student last year who would bring a super hero cape to school everyday.  If he got upset, he would put his super hero cape on and he would be happy again in not time!
   8.  Practice - Review self help skills with your preschooler.  Using a tissue, washing hands, putting and taking off their coat, zipping zippers and potty routines.
   9.  Label - Label all of your child's belongings coats, hats and backpack, with their name. Preschoolers can easily become confused as to what coat is theirs and exactly which Frozen backpack belongs to them.
10.  Enjoy -   Make their first day of school FUN!  Even if there are tears, this is a day to celebrate!  Over the first few weeks of school there will be good days and some not so good days, but remember establishing a positive experience in preschool sets your child on a path of success for years to come.  Take pictures, bring tissues and be proud! 

Are you ready for the school year to begin?

I am linking this week with the following blogs:  Imparting Grace  Sincerely Paula  Common Ground  Lamberts Lately Three Sisters and Us

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Cookbook Corner

Hello Friends!   I have been on a cleaning and organizing streak!  The summer always brings out my inner organizing junkie.  I have a strong need to put everything in its place, purge what we don't need and clean all that's left until it shines.   I have been spending some time in the kitchen giving it  a good deep clean that I can't always get to during the school year.  I thought this would be a great time to share my cookbook collection with you!

It is a large well loved and well used collection.  I have been collecting cookbooks most of my married life.  At last count I have 121 cookbooks in the kitchen!  I know, I was surprised when I counted them too.  Of course I have my favorites but I really do love them all.  I also know that I can find any recipe I want on line, but there is just something about a cookbook in my hand that can't be replaced with a Google search.  I like nothing better then to sit down with a cookbook and read it cove to cover like a novel.  Cookbooks are my favorite keepsake from a trip or vacation.  A handwritten recipe from a dear friend or relative that isn't with me any longer is a treasure to me.

I have almost every issue of Cooking with Paula Deen,  a few years worth of Southern Lady and somewhere in there is the premier issue of Martha Stewart Living!

The binders on the bottom shelf hold recipes that I have found online or in other magazines.  Oh my...wasn't it Peter Walsh who said something about hording and the collection of magazines?  Look away Peter!  Look away!

This glass cabinet next to my fridge holds my favorite Barefoot Contessa and Gooseberry Patch books.

By far my most precious possession in my recipe and cookbook collection is this little green recipe box.  This was my sweet Mother's recipe box.  My Mom was one of the best cooks ever and this box holds handwritten recipes from her, most of her 5 sisters and my grandmother.  My Mom has been gone for 15 years and when I get to missing her I often open this box and I usually end up laughing.  Many of her recipes are just a list of ingredients and funny little notes.  Each card is like a sweet memory.  (And yes, that is Martha Stewart's Weddings book in the corner.  Didn't every 80's bride have one of these books in their collection?)

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek at one of my favorite collections.  I guess I have no excuse for not knowing what to make for dinner!  Do you collect anything special?  Let me know in the comments below and don't forget to subscribe and follow along.

Linking up with Sincerely Paula

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Grandma's Soup

One of my many blessings of childhood is that I had an Italian grandmother.  My grandmother Mary Rose was your traditional Italian grandma, joyful, big, gentle and strong.  She was hands down the greatest cook the world has ever known.  I am not even exaggerating, and I have been know to exaggerate.  

We always entered Grandma's house through the back door, which led directly to her kitchen.  The smells coming from that kitchen are embedded in my heart for ever.  It was always a mixture of freshly baked bread, garlic, off the vine tomatoes and comfort.  Grandma's kitchen was my favorite place to be.  She was always feeding someone, me, my cousins, the family down the street, the mailman, everyone had a place at her table.  I have so many wonderful memories of this sweet women and most of them took place around food and in that kitchen. I only had Grandma until I was 11 years old, but not a day goes by that I don't think of her. Today, I just want to share one of my favorite recipe memories with you.  Grandma's Soup, Italian Wedding Soup "Minestra Maritata".  

We always had Grandma's Minestra at Christmas and she would make it a few times of year if she had "good escarole" in her garden, which was massive and beautiful.  I always associated this soup with her because my mother never made it and I can only remember one of my aunts making it after Grandma was gone.  So to me it was Grandma's soup.  I have made a few changes to what I believe was her original recipe.  She never really wrote any recipes down and if she did, it was only a list of ingredients.  Instead of escarole, I use spinach and I add pasta, Stellina (tiny stars).  This soup is delicious and comforting.  

Minestra Maritata  Italian Wedding Soup
For the Meatballs:
3/4- 1lb ground chicken
4-5 slices white bread (ground into breadcrumbs)
2-3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon milk
2 gloves garlic
about 1/4 cup grated Romano Cheese
1 slightly beaten egg

For soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp butter
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small onion
2 carrots grounded in good processor
2 48 oz containers of chicken broth 
3/4 cup white wine
1 14 oz can of spinach
3 tablespoons fresh dill
1 cup small star pasta
salt/pepper to taste

Place ground chicken in a large bowl.  In a small food processor, process bread until they are bread crumbs.  I always make a little extra in case needed once meatballs are mixed.

Process the parsley and garlic together until fine and add to mixture.  Add Romano cheese, egg, S/P and mix.  If mixture is too dry add the milk or if too soft add more bread crumbs.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and make tiny meatballs.  You should have between 40-50 meatballs.  Bake in a 350 oven 30 minutes.

While meatballs are baking, Put oil and butter in a large soup pot and saute chopped onions and celery for 5 minutes or until translucent, add the carrots and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the white wine and let cook for a minute.  Add 1 1/2 containers of the chicken broth and let simmer over med heat until meatballs are done.  Once meatballs are baked, add to soup and bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and add parsley, dill and spinach,  simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Return to a boil and add pasta and boil according to package directions.  We like our soup thick so I often add extra pasta.  If soup is too thick, add the remaining chicken broth.

Serve this soup with extra Ramona cheese and garlic bread.  YUM!

What are your favorite food memories of your grandmother?  Love stays with you forever!

Please be sure to leave me a note if you come for a visit and be sure to add your pretty picture to my blog followers!  Linking up with the Saturday Soiree and Wow Us Wednesday,Archives Fridays

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Coming Clean: 5 Easy Steps to a Laundry Room Redo

There are two spots in my home where I spend most of my time, one is my kitchen where I am usually surrounded by my family, laughing, cooking, having a great time.  The other spot is my laundry room.  Totally different story morning glory.  I am usually alone, no laughter, no good times.  Can you blame them?  Would you want to hang out here?
It's a very tiny space, only 5'x 6', with a desperate need of storage space, color and definitely lacking in the personality department.  This tiny space had a huge job to do for our family besides laundry, we needed an out of the way space to store our cleaning supplies and keeping a clear passage to the garage, we needed a solution to  storing the kids back packs and everyday jackets for school.  So our zones were established, Cleaning Zone, Laundry Zone and Backpack Storage Zone.

1. Clean Out:  Remove the washer and dryer to the garage being careful not to scratch the floor which we are keeping for now.
2.  Paint.  We repainted the ceiling, doors and woodwork a bright white and painted the wall a beautiful Ivory Brown from Valspar at Lowe's.  Return the washer/dryer to their spots.

                                                         I think this is one of my new favs.

3.  Storage.  I wanted something pretty not too "utility" looking.  We found the perfect triple door preassembled cabinet at Lowe's.  For added storage I found these baskets at Target.  Now I can store my laundry and cleaning supplies with extra room for other things like seasonal candles and handsoap.

 Those cute chalkboard tags were found at Kohl's, with a handwritten  reminder to  "Follow Your Heart".

4.  Wainscoting and Hooks.  One of my favorite combos is white wainscoting with coat hooks. So much better then hooks alone.  The white wainscoting opposite the washer/dryer balances this small space. The hooks are perfect to keep those backpacks and kids jackets off the floor helping to keep the passage to the garage clear.

The wainscoting was found at Home Depot, along with the brushed nickel coat hooks.

5.  Personality.  This is my favorite part of any redo, adding the color and personality.  It has been well established that I have a love for burlap, I was able to bring in this favorite element by using a simple burlap lamp shade.  Both the lamp and lampshade were found at Walmart.  

The ABC block was a purchase years ago from Ebay, the chalkboard tags are from Kohl's and that small photo is of my sweet dog Bailey.

A rug for a splash of color is from JCPenney 

A small DIY ivy wreath was added for a little color to an unused hook.

The framed chalkboard with my favorite psalm 46 was found at Hobby Lobby.

No room would be complete without pictures of my babies!

 I am in love with the way this tiny hardworking room came out.  Is it a gathering place for the family?  No, not so much.  But its a beautiful useful space for me to show my family a little laundry love!

What's your favorite thing about your laundry room?  Let me know in the comments below. Have to run now, got some laundry to do! 

I'm linking with Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style! and Whimsy Wednesdays andThinking Out Loud Thursday

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