Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekend Bloggy Reading :: Link Up!

Happy happy Friday! Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. Fridays are fun because this is the day of the week where other bloggers stop by to link up their best post of the week here at Serenity Now, and readers get to browse tons of fun project ideas. If you're new here, don't forget to "Follow" or subscribe so you don't miss future parties and projects!

*Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link--I've had to bypass so many great projects lately because they didn't include a link back to my blog in the post!

This party is a great place to showcase your very best post of the week (home decor, crafts, party ideas, recipes, DIY, tips and tricks, etc.) and to see what else is out there.

Did you miss any of this week's posts? On Monday, I shared a tasty new recipe for a Pizza Panini Sandwich (two ways). Wednesday brought us some fab Features, and I shared an interview with Mia Hamm yesterday; she talked about family fitness and technology...plus a sneak peek of the new LeapBand from LeapFrog!

**Also, the Best of the Blogosphere will be up at Centsational Girl some time this weekend! Kate and I have rounded up some fab DIY to share with you. Head over to see the BOTB after you link up here!**


Time to link up your best post of the week!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Interview with Mia Hamm: Parenting, Exercise, and Technology!

This post brought to you by LeapFrog.// The folks at LeapFrog recently gave me the chance to interview soccer legend Mia Hamm, and as a huge UNC fan, of course I jumped at the chance! Mia was one of the main guests at LeapFrog's recent "Fit Made Fun" day, so I sent her a few of my own questions about the challenges of  raising active, healthy kids in a world that depends increasingly on technology. Mia's interview was videotaped, and you can view it below!

{If you're reading this post in a reader or email, you'll have to click over to the blog to view the video. Or you can view it here if for some reason the video doesn't pop up.}



Well, I think she pretty much hits the nail on the head, don't you? It's up to me as a mom to set a good example for my children. This was somewhat convicting for me to hear. I do a pretty good job of encouraging my kiddos to eat healthy and stay active...but I do not do a great job of it myself.

I love that Mia shares her own personal experience and tips as a mom of two girls. I like her practical tips for getting the family moving together. Thanks, Mia! (Go 'Heels!)

I'm excited to see that not only is LeapFrog remaining committed to their goal of providing educational toys, but now they're venturing into the world of exercise! I've mentioned before that I limit my kids' screen time. I prefer to have them focus on reading, homework, imaginative play, etc. after so many hours in a classroom each day. They stay pretty active with play time and three days of dance a week, but we could be doing a better job of staying active as a family and/or getting moving at home.

The new LeapBand is a wearable activity tracker that gets kids moving with 50 different activities and challenges. The more they engage in active play, they get to interact with their own virtual pet. They get to have fun and track their progress!

I'll have a full review of the LeapBand up on the blog in a week or so, but for now I can say that this is a fantastic item to put on your "must-buy" list for a special child's Christmas this year!

How do you encourage healthy habits in your home? Let's encourage each other today!

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by LeapFrog, but all opinions are 100% my own. I was not financially compensated for this post, but will receive a LeapBand in exchange for my interview post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Inspiring Project Ideas {link party features}

Wow, is it Wednesday already? How's your week going? I've got some creative inspiration for you, and today I'll be sharing some Features from the weekend link party. If you're new to the blog, I take a couple of days each week to let other bloggers showcase their project ideas here, and I take a day to feature a few of my faves. We have crafts, home decor, DIY, recipes, party ideas, organizing, tips and tricks, seasonal projects, and more!

Here are some projects that caught my eye this week:

~Barn Door to Coffee Table via Cleverly Inspired


~DIY Leopard Print Clutch via Create Bake Celebrate

~Salted Toffee Chocolate Bars via The Kitchen is My Playground

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pizza Panini with Dipping Sauces Recipe {a "Mom and Me" Lunch!}


I've been looking forward to autumn for a few weeks now. I love the cooler weather, wearing my jeans and sweaters, the pumpkins, the sounds of football games on TV, and...yes, the food! Today's recipe for a Pizza Panini Sandwich (two ways!) is a perfect warm "comfort food" meal that can be tailored to fit anyone in your family. It makes for a perfect "Mommy and Me" lunch on a cozy autumn weekend afternoon at home. No panini maker needed!
Homemade Pizza Panini with Spicy Dipping Sauce (no Panini-Maker needed!) from Serenity Now

The folks at Oscar Mayer sent me a little package with some new products to try. My challenge was to give their new "old world style" pepperoni and salami a little taste test and share a fun recipe with you all. I can say now that both the pepperoni and salami were a big hit, and even my picky picky husband couldn't wait for me to finish taking the following photos so he could gobble up half of my sandwich!
Make a Pizza Panini (without a Panini maker!) with #OldWorldStyleOM


Since the sauces are the first thing that need to be made, we'll start with that part of the recipe first! My sis was kind enough to lend me her favorite recipe. It took me less than five minutes to make.

Homemade Pizza Sauce (Dipping Sauce)
Easy Homemade Pizza Sauce (Less than 5 Minutes!), also great for dipping, from Serenity Now blog
Ingredients:
-1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
-1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
-1 1/2 tsp. dried, minced garlic
-1 T ground oregano
-1 tsp. ground paprika
-tiny dash of salt (optional)
-dash or two of ground red pepper (you can leave this out of the kids' sauce if you like)

Instructions:
Empty ingredients into a bowl. Stir well. That's it. No, really. That's all!

Spicy Ranch Dressing (Dipping Sauce)
Easy Spicy Ranch Dressing Dipping Sauce, from Serenity Now
Ingredients:
-1 bottle Ranch dressing
-1 tsp buffalo style hot sauce (I used Franks, and added an extra dash)
-dash of dill weed
-dash of chili powder

Instructions:
Pour desired amount of dressing into a bowl (separate some for the kids, if they don't like spicy). Add other ingredients. Stir well.

****Now for the sandwiches!!****

Mom's Sandwich:
Homemade Pizza Panini with Spicy Dipping Sauce (no Panini-Maker needed!) from Serenity Now

Thick bread (I used a ciabatta style roll)
Pizza Sauce
Spicy Ranch Dressing
Mozzarella Cheese
Oscar Mayer Old World Style Turkey Pepperoni
Oscar Mayer Old World Style Cracker Black Pepper Salami


Kids' Sandwich:
Kids' Pizza Panini on a Pretzel Roll, from Serenity Now

Thick bread (I used a pizza roll for the kiddos. Small, so just the right size for my 6 and 8 year olds.)
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese
Oscar Mayer Classic Pepperoni

You can make mom and kids' sandwiches at the same time if you have a "Foreman" grill or a toaster oven...no panini-maker needed! You can see the way I make paninis with our Foreman grill here.

Instructions for sandwiches:
How to Make a Pizza Panini (two ways!) at home, from Serenity Now

1. Slice bread in half and add a small amount of pizza dipping sauce to each half.
2. Top with mozzarella cheese, and add some spicy ranch dressing to mom's sandwich (leave it off the kids' if you need to).
3. Fold the Oscar Mayer deli meats and arrange on the sandwiches. I used turkey pepperoni and cracked black pepper salami for mine. The kiddo sandwich was made with classic pepperoni.
4. Close sandwiches and add to the preheated Foreman grill or toaster oven. Toast/grill until cheese is melted!

These would also be great open-faced, and you can add things like peppers, olives, or mushrooms to spice things up.
A "Mom and Me" Pizza Panini Lunch, from Serenity Now blog #OldWorldStyleOM
Homemade Pizza Panini with Spicy Dipping Sauce (no Panini-Maker needed!) from Serenity Now


Enjoy your meal while you watch football, listen to the leaves crunching outside, and stay warm in your fuzzy socks and sweats!

Did you know...

• Oscar Mayer brand is great for convenient meals on the go and at home.

•Beginning August 2014, just in time for back-to-school season, you can find Oscar Mayer Old World Style products in the refrigerated-meat section at retail stores nationwide.

 •The Old World Style line of deli meats includes four new varieties, all in sandwich-ready slices: Classic Salami, Cracked Black Pepper Salami, Classic Pepperoni and Turkey Pepperoni.

 •A 4 oz. package of Old World Style pepperoni or salami retails at $3.29 SRP

 •Old World Style pepperoni and salami makes for a great addition to any sandwich, but it’s also an excellent source of protein, with up to 8 grams per serving.
A "Mom and Me" Pizza Panini Lunch, from Serenity Now blog #OldWorldStyleOM


What's your favorite sandwich to make with pepperoni or salami?

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekend Bloggy Reading :: Link Up!

Happy Friday! Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. Fridays are fun because this is the day of the week where other bloggers stop by to link up their best post of the week here at Serenity Now, and readers get to browse tons of fun project ideas. If you're new here, don't forget to "Follow" or subscribe so you don't miss future parties and projects!

*Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link--I've had to bypass so many great projects lately because they didn't include a link back to my blog in the post!

This party is a great place to showcase your very best post of the week (home decor, crafts, party ideas, recipes, DIY, tips and tricks, etc.) and to see what else is out there.

Did you miss any of this week's posts? On Tuesday, I showed off a craft tutorial for a DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display; I'd love for you to check it out. There were also some awesome features from last weekend's link party on Monday.


Time to link up your best post of the week!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display

This post brought to you by Martha Stewart Crafts® and Plaid.// I'm easing back into creative blogging after taking an extended maternity leave, and I am so excited to show off today's post, a DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display, made with Chalkboard Paint and other items from the new line at Martha Stewart Crafts®. What do you get when you mix a thrifted cabinet door, some instagram prints, and some super-fun chalkboard paint?
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts


DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

I don't know about you, but I seem to take more photos with my phone than my Nikon lately. I don't want all those special moments living forever on my phone screen, so I decided to come up with a way to display our family memories where we can all enjoy them.

Don't have an Instagram account? Don't worry, I'll give you some more ideas for this display at the end of the post!

I decided to do my best to use thrifted items and things I had on hand for this project, so I hit up my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to browse their cabinet door selection. They had plenty to choose from. I wanted a sizeable display, so I selected a large oak cabinet door for around $10, because I wasn't sure how the laminate would work with the chalkboard paint layered over spray paint.

Here are the supplies you will need:

DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

1. Martha Stewart Crafts ® Laser-Cut Stencils
2. Martha Stewart Crafts® MultiSurface Chalkboard Paint
3. Martha Stewart Crafts ® 2oz Erasable Liquid Chalk
4. Craft paint brush (or see #6)
5. Assortment of coordinating fabrics (optional)
6. Martha Stewart Crafts ® pouncers--these are better if you're using small stencils
7. Baker's twine, string, ribbon, or plain twine
8. Pencil
9. Printed instagram photos (this is how I print mine)
10. Staple gun
11. Scissors
Not Pictured: Sand paper or palm sander, spray paint in your color choice, mini clothes pins, hot glue gun or needle and thread for fabric rosettes (optional)

How to Make Your Own Chalkboard Instagram Display:

1. Prep
Sand, Clean, Paint

I started with my plain old cabinet door. You know, the one with lovely white paint drips down the front. After removing the hardware, I took it outside and sanded it down in about five minutes with a palm sander. I also made sure to clean it off well before spraying. It took me several coats of spray paint to cover up the oak. I figured that some of the grain would continue to show through, but wasn't too concerned because the photos would cover most of it.
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

2. Stencil
Secure, Paint, Dry, Cure Time

After choosing which of the stencils I wanted to use and deciding on a layout, I secured my stencil using stencil tape from my craft stash (Martha Stewart Crafts® brand). I added my chalkboard paint to a paper plate palette, and used plain craft sponge brushes to brush the paint on.

I did one light coat, let it dry for one hour, and then added a slightly thicker coat. After that dried, I moved the stencil to paint the next portion of the cabinet door. When the pennant shapes were dry, I grabbed another stencil sheet and added polka dots in black and pink chalkboard paint for some extra pattern.

It's important to let the chalkboard paint cure for 24 hours before writing or stenciling on it with chalk. 
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

I loved the effect! Pennant banners are so much fun--Martha's team is great at choosing fun and trendy patterns and shapes for their stencils.
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

3. Creating a System for Hanging Photos
Decide on amount of photos, secure twine, clip on mini clothespins, add photos

I took a stack of my photos and moved them back and forth across the board until I found a grid that worked for me. I used a pencil, post-it notes, and a level to mark off the lines where I wanted my twine to go. I was lucky enough to find this pretty turquoise and white baker's twine in my craft stash, but you can find it in most craft stores or even the Dollar Spot.

My grid ended up with space for twenty photos, which is a great amount!
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

I used a staple gun to attach the twine to the back of the cabinet door, pulling the twine taut (without snapping it). I also left a bit of twine on each end to make a knot, so no twine would slip under the staples. This is where having a nice, thick oak door came in handy. No staples going through the wood!
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

4. Fabric Rosettes (Optional)
Use scissors, a hot glue gun, or a needle and thread to craft some rosettes as an embellishment for your display. Hot glue onto the frame of your display board as embellishment


DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to any of the rosettes I made. I just twisted, braided, and pressed the fabric until I found a shape I liked. I ended up using hot glue for these guys, with the exception of the one with the button embellishments...I folded that one back and forth and sewed through the center to keep it in place!
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

I used my trusty got glue gun to adhere the rosettes onto the frame in a pattern that I thought looked cute.
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

5. Use your chalkboard!
Stencil or hand-write something onto your pennant banner with your Martha Stewart Crafts® Liquid Chalk. I thought about using another shape to stencil inside the banner, but decided on lettering. 

You'll need to "season" your chalkboard with a piece of a chalk before you can write on it. I rubbed a piece of chalk over it and then erased.
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

Other words: Inspire, Fall, Autumn, Summer, Spring, Winter, Grace, Smile, Inspire, Create
Other ideas for the board: recipes, 4 x 6 photos, favorite quotes or verses on small cards, postcards, baseball cards, business cards

Voila!
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts
DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

DIY Chalkboard Instagram Photo Display from Serenity Now! #plaidcrafts and #marthastewartcrafts

What I love about the new line of chalkboard paint is how easy it is to work with! The finish goes on smoothly, and the dry/cure time is true to the advertisement. My only wish would be that it might come in the "Martha blue," which is my fave! The liquid chalk goes on smoothly, doesn't smudge...and it erases with water!

Are you loving this medium too? You can find the Martha Stewart Crafts® Chalkboard Paint line at Michaels craft stores. They also have a new line of Martha Stewart Crafts® Vintage Decor Paint!

If you're interested in learning more about Martha's chalkboard paint, you can watch this brief intro video from the folks at Plaid:

 What would you write on your chalkboard display?

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments.

Want to connect with the Martha Stewart Crafts or Plaid team?

● Plaid Website: http://www.plaidonline.com/  
● The Plaid Palette Blog: http://www.plaidonline.com/blog - The Plaid Palette is a source of inspiration with news about new product introductions, project ideas, tutorials from Plaid’s craft experts and giveaways.
● Newsletter: https://www.plaidonline.com/craftnewslettersignup.aspx - Sign up for Plaid’s email newsletter for special coupons, project ideas and more!
● YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/plaidcrafts - Plaid’s YouTube channel features videos with product demonstration, special seasonal projects and ideas from top Craft Experts.
● Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/plaidcrafts 
● Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InspiredByPlaid 
● Instagram: http://instagram.com/plaidcrafts - A look into daily life at Plaid and project inspiration.
● Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/plaidcrafts 
● Google+: http://plus.google.com/+PlaidOnline

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I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Plaid Crafts and Blueprint Social. The opinions in this post are my own.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Inspiring Project Ideas {link party features}

Is it Wednesday already? How's your week going? I hope you'll stick around, because tomorrow I'll be showing off a new craft tutorial! (yes, I'm trying to slowly ease back into creative bloggingI've got some creative inspiration for you, and today I'll be sharing some Features from the weekend link party. If you're new to the blog, I take a couple of days each week to let other bloggers showcase their project ideas here, and I take a day to feature a few of my faves. We have crafts, home decor, DIY, recipes, party ideas, organizing, tips and tricks, seasonal projects, and more!

Here are some projects that caught my eye this week:

~Fall Booth via Shabby Love



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