Orchard Girls

Friday, May 31, 2013

Nursery Organization + FREE Label Printables!

When I first found out that I was pregnant, I was so excited to decorate the nursery. Then, when I found out I was having a girl, my gears started turning and I began decorating. Now, six months after she was born, I realize whats practical, whats not..and everything in between. Now, I am realizing what I actually NEED. And that would be, to get organized! If you're not organized, it makes things a lot more difficult. Well, even if you don't have a baby and aren't organized it makes things more difficult. 
Anyway, back on track...I needed to organize Adeline's nursery. At this point all of her clothes were either hanging up in her closet (clothes she hadn't worn yet), in a small portable three basket dresser (in the living room), and in a white laundry basket (not even folded). This is where our FREE printable comes in! Yay! I wanted to create some labels to put on her dresser, so that everything would have a place. Also making it easier to find what I was looking for. AND help daddy find things, instead of me having to yell from across the house, "uhm, uh, I think its in the bottom of the middle left drawer" or something like that ;)
Here is what I came up with...
Orchard Girls-Nursery Labels
Click HERE and HERE for the girl labels
and click HERE and HERE for the boy labels.

This was after I designed them, printed them out, and laminated them. 
Another great way to stay organized within the drawers are these Ikea organizing boxes. They come in a set of six and are several different sizes, when set out in a regular sized drawer, they fit perfectly! They are great for sock drawers. For instance, in her sock drawer I have socks in one box, hats in one, and leggings in another. Works great! The picture below is 4 of those boxes that I put up on a shelf in her closet. Oh, and for 6 of them they are only 7 bucks!
You can find the exact boxes by clicking HERE!
Ikea-Organizing Boxes
 Here is  a picture of her dresser after I filled, organized it, and attached the labels! I just attached them with thick tape, nothing fancy! :)
Nursery Labels-Free Printables
I made a set of these labels for both boys and girls! The above pictures are for the girls (gray and pink bunting with a girly font). The boy one is blue and gray bunting with a different font. Be sure to leave a comment if you plan on printing these, and feel free to take a picture of how you used them and share the link! We'd love to see how you're organizing your nursery! 
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend,
Be sure to check out the list of lovely linky parties we linked this post to HERE!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Start Menu Planning

After Adam and I started living together, I quickly discovered that making a menu saved us time and money at the grocery store. It helped me to budget for groceries, eat healthier, and not waste as much food. Over the last couple of years, I've figured out a system that works well for us. So, for Thrifty Thursday this week, I'm going to share my menu making plan with you!

First off, you need a location where you can do all of your planning. I have a binder and tabs to keep me organized. I keep a tab for Menu Making, Old Menus, and Grocery Lists/Receipts.
I like to keep my old menus for several different reasons. They help me learn things about what we eat. It helps me find some of our favorite recurring recipes. It also helps to have pre-made menus handy when I'm not feeling particularly inspired.
And yes, I save my grocery lists and my receipts. This helped me to figure out what our essentials are. It also helped me figure out how much we really spent on food. Another good thing about saving your receipts is that you start to notice the sale cycles at your store. This helped me plan when to buy certain things. When I first started this journey, you better believe I was the girl walking around the store with her graphing calculator.
Anyway, save your receipts and old grocery lists. You may not see why now, but in a few months, you'll start to notice things.
Now onto the actual menu making! Here is a quick list of what I do.

Step 1: Inventory the cabinets, fridge, and freezer. Is there anything that needs to be used? Make a note to incorporate it into a dish. Make a list of the necessities needed (ie. milk, eggs, bread)
Step 2: Decide on some meals. Choose as many that are needed to fill the time period between grocery trips. (We usually do 4 to 5 meals every week. We like eating leftovers and doing random pop-ins at the in-laws!) Sometimes I like to pick recipes I've never tried out of the same cookbook, or pinterest, or another recipe source. This makes me use the cookbooks I have, or pins I've pinned, and helps us find new family favorites! You could also base your meals around something(s) that you know will be on sale.
Step 3: Look up recipes and make a list of things that need to be purchased for the meals. No need to organize the list yet. Just make sure that nothing is missed.
Step 4: Organize the list into categories. This will help you when you're at the store. You won't be running all over the store, going through the same aisle multiple times. Don't forget to add your necessities/essentials to the list, too.
I've made the above categorized grocery list into a FREE PRINTABLE! Print a couple to a page and keep them in your binder!

After grocery shopping, you should have everything you need for your meals! No more running back to the store for forgotten items, or for a last minute dinner!

I can't tell you how much I have learned since I started making weekly and bi-weekly menus. We've cut our food budget down dramatically since when we first started, but I don't think we've sacrificed any of the quality of our food. You just start to learn what works, without a ton of effort.

Hopefully this post finds you all well. Thank you for stopping by and for supporting our blog. We truly appreciate every one of you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What We Eat Wednesday: Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Noodle Bake!

Welcome to What We Eat Wednesday! Here is an easy weeknight dinner for you and your family. I call it “Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Noodle Bake” or something like that. It’s pretty quick, and is very delicious! Let’s get cookin’!
-14oz Box Rigatoni Noodles
-3 cups broccoli (cooked)

-2 cups spinach (cooked/drained)

-1 can (10-14oz) small artichokes (finely chopped)
-1 can diced tomatoes (drained)
-2 cups shredded cheese
-Crushed Red Peppers (as desired)
-“Prego” or any other brand 3 cheese artisan blend white sauce
**You could add cut up chicken breast as well**

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook broccoli, spinach, and set aside. Cook your noodles (according to directions on box). In a separate medium/large sauce pan heat white sauce. Add to sauce, broccoli, artichokes, spinach, diced tomatoes, and crushed red peppers. Heat on medium about 5 minutes (or until tender). 
When your noodles are done cooking, strain and put in a 9x13in. oven safe baking dish, add your sauce and stir mixing all contents completely. Sprinkle your shredded cheese to top and pop er’ in the oven! Cook about 15 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe. It is a great family favorite dinner, also a good dish to make for your vegetarian guests.
Quick Addie Update!
Also worth mentioning, our little Adeline is 6 months old today! I can't believe it, she is growing up way to fast. She is sitting up on her own! She isn't quite crawling yet, but definitely attempting to, she some how moves from point A to point B but there's not much of a method to it. Haha. She loves eating baby food, her favorites are apples for breakfast and peas for dinner.
Bon appetit,


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Print Your Own Map & Mark Your Travels

Happy Tuesday! Over the weekend, I decided to make something that documented our travels. Adam and I have done quite a bit of traveling over the last several years, mostly from being in the military, and I wanted someway to remember all of the fun places we've been! I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I did my best to only use things I already had.
What I used:
-scrapbook frame, or any frame that has space between the backing and the glass
-a map of any kind, I printed mine--here is the link.
-a piece of scrapbook paper, or anything else you'd like, to go behind your map
-push pins that fit into your frame
-pen (if you want to mark roadtrips)
-something to put behind the map to raise it-- I totally recommend using some foam board, I didn't have any and was about to throw my project out the window-- this is so you can push the pins in and they will stay put
-an atlas that has better markings than your printed map, if you need it for reference
I accidentally printed a map that was too large for my frame. This ended up being a good thing because I was able to mark out the road trips and all the places I needed to pin. 

You'll notice that my pins are longer in the above picture than my finished project pictures. That's because my pins ended up being too long to fit into the frame. I should have checked beforehand, but I didn't. This is around the time I almost chucked it out the window. How did I fix the problem? I cut Yep. I also dipped the pin in some tacky glue before placing it back in the pre poked holes, just to keep it in place--because I was too cheap to buy some foam board.

So, 10 hours (kidding...maybe 1 hour) and several poked fingers later, I had something that looked like this.
I forgot to mention that I color coded my pins. The white ones are places we've lived, the blue are places Adam has been, yellow is where I've been, and green is where both of us have been together. It was a lot of fun thinking back on all of those trips we've made, especially the long road trips. When you've done a few of the same road trip, your memories start to run together, so it was good to sit down and really think about it.
Adam said he wants a world map next. Hah. We will see. My fingers need some time to heal.

Let us know if you've ever made your own push pin type maps. Did you get frustrated like me?

Hope you guys enjoyed this post and that you have a great day!

Check out all the awesome Parties we've Linked to HERE!
FEATURED On Hickory Trail Blog!

Monday, May 27, 2013

DIY: Baby Sensory Bag

Look, Touch, Feel...Baby Sensory Exploration!
I wanted to create a fun sensory experience for Addie. She is at the age where she is exploring like crazy. She wants to grab, touch, rub, pull, and taste EVERYTHING in sight! Sensory contributes in crucial ways, to brain development. Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways, important for all types of learning. You can never start too early. Anyway, I didn't want to buy a large, expensive toy, but wanted to make an inexpensive sensory item. This fun activity isn't just for babies. I think it would be appropriate for kids of all ages. 
This is what I came up with
Baby Sensory Bag
Items Needed:
1. Plastic Freezer Bag
2. Colorful Hair Gel
3. Random (non-sharp) colorful items
I used: sparkly numbers, pompoms, small erasers, beads, sticky octopus, flamingo balls
(All the items I used I got from the dollar store!!)
4. Duct Tape
Okay, first, take your plastic bag and fill with with the hair gel. I found this (already) green gel at target for $1.30. I ended up using the entire bottle and it was just enough. Then you're going to fill the bag with all your fun objects!
Once you've filled up the bag and spread it all out a bit (push out as much air as you can) secure it shut. Now take your duct tape and double it up on all edges. You'll end up with something like pictured below...
DIY: Baby Sensory Bag
I also frayed the edges of the duct tape just to add a little something! I was so excited for Addie to play with it! I made this while she was taking her morning nap, and it only took about 15 minutes to make. Now I was just waiting for her to wake up! 
 Okay, fast forward 45 minutes.....
DIY: Baby Sensory Bag
The first picture was the first one I took the second after I handed it to her! Yay, she loved it! :)
She wasn't quite sure what to do with it, but she started feeling around and exploring the bag. Surprisingly, it took her a few minutes before she tried to shove it in her mouth. She especially enjoyed looking at it when I held it up in the sunlight.
DIY: Baby Sensory Bag
**Only allow baby to use the "sensory bag" with adult supervision**

This was a fun, and easy DIY. Feel free to let us know what you think! Also, make sure you "follow" us so you can be notified of our daily (Mon-Fri) posts! Thanks again for all of your support and words of encouragement! We hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day. Thank you so much to all those who bravely serve our great country. We continue to keep you in our prayers.
Be sure to check out the parties we've linked to HERE!
Rain on a Tin Roof "Give me the goods Monday"--HERE!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fix it up Friday: $20 Spice Cabinet Makeover + Free Spice Checklist Printable!

Happy happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a wonderful week! Anyone excited for a 3 day weekend?!

Let's be real here. Constant DIY projects and organization ends up costing quite a bit of moolah. That's why I decided to give myself a strict budget for this project. I knew that I could find a way to organize my spice cabinet without breaking the bank.

For the last several weeks, I've been on the hunt for a whole bunch of small jars to put all of my spices in. I checked every dollar store. Nada. I thought that was the only way to make my cabinet look nice! Then I decided to think a little more... noodle on it, if you will. I then decided I just wanted to look around the craft store for some ideas. So yesterday, Kayla, Addie, and I headed to Michael's. I found the little jars I had been looking for! And 40% off. I started filling my arms! But then I did some quick math in my head. A dollar a jar?! I would need at least 20! I put them back and kept looking. I finally came up with a system that works... without all the little jars.

First off, let's take a look at my spice cabinet before I started working on it yesterday.
My bay leaves are upside down, my shelves are on backwards, and my christmas sprinkles sure know how to over stay their welcome. It was craziness. Things practically jumped out of the cabinet whenever I tried to get something out.

And, here's the after.
The 20 dollars I spent at Michael's went toward the 3 drawer organizer ($10), the little colorful cups on the top shelf ($3), some stacking jars ($1.50), the little blue clothespin ($2 for a pack of 6), and some baking cups that you can't see ($1). Everything else I had on hand.
All I did was group my spices and put them in the corresponding drawer. I used rub on letters to label them. A whole bunch of matching pretty jars would have been nice, but putting them away in a drawer looks just as nice... maybe even less cluttered. Plus, I can pull out the entire drawer instead of pulling out and knocking over all the other spices. I used the 4 stacking twist top jars (from the jewelry section) for some fresh spices I had in baggies. The little jar with the spoon holds some sugar, and that was a thrift store find a while back. I like to use those little cups for holding pre measured spices while I'm cooking. Sometimes its easier to measure them all out before hand. 

Some tips: Push the things you don't use that often toward the back. Use old jars to hold things like garlic cloves. If you have a large pantry, keep your larger seasonings there and just refill smaller containers to keep close to the stove. Group things together so you can find things easier.

Oh, I almost forgot. To keep myself organized, I made a little list with all of the seasonings I like to have on hand. Whenever I run out or get low on a certain spice, I can just check it off. That way I can just look at it whenever its time to make the grocery list.
As a special friday treat for you, I've made it into a free printable! You can get it for yourself here: FREE SPICE CHECKLIST

Well, that's all I have for you today! I hope I've inspired someone to go organize their spice cabinet. I know it was something that bugged me every time I was cooking or baking, but never got the time to fix up... until now!

I hope you have an absolutely wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Many blessings.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: Make your own Vintage Numbered Crate!

Hi, my name is Kayla, and I am obsessed with old crates. 
Okay, maybe not, but seriously I have just fallen in love with these things! I've been "pinning" them like crazy and admiring them every time I go to a thrift/antique store. Since we are surrounded by orchards they aren't TOO hard to come by. However, at all the antique stores, they're still pretty pricey. I decided to see if I could come up with a "look alike" vintage crate. Here is what I did.
Orchard Girls-Vintage Crate
What you need:
1. Crate
(any size will do--I used a smaller version I found @ Michael's for 7 bucks)
2. MinWax Wood Finish in "Dark Walnut"
3. Old rag or paint brush
4. Printed out letters or #'s to trace

First thing you need to do is lay down an old mat/towel OR go outside. This is a messy project! Okay, next use your old rag or brush to apply the MinWax to your crate. You can be creative with this, depending on how dark or light you want your crate. 
After you completely cover your crate you will have something that looks like the above picture. Then wait 5-10 minutes for it to soak into the wood (the longer you wait-the darker it will be). Next, wipe off any excess minwax from the crate. If it is not the desired color you were hoping for-simply apply another coat!

......several hours later!
Orchard Girls-Vintage Crate
Use your printed out numbers or letters as a stencil, and tape them onto your crate. Now, paint your letter or numbers, I used cheap acrylic paint that I already had laying around. I decided on the number 2, just because it is my favorite number.
The "2" I actually stenciled on, but the "No." I free-handed! It turned out O.K, but for all you artistic folk, feel free to "wing" it! Now after you let this completely dry you can use sand paper to sand it out a little bit, to give it more of a "vintage" feel. Lastly, apply a layer of polyethylene to preserve it.
Orchard Girls-Vintage Crate
I currently have mine on my desk holding some magazine files filled with paperwork and miscellaneous items.  I love the end results! There are so many fun ways to display old crates (or should I say "new" old crates!)
Click HERE for some other ideas on what to use these crates for! My husband and I are planning our next big project. We want to collect old scrap wood and make our own boxes, then stain them and make them into some type of bookcase. We have an empty wall we need to cover! Hopefully that will be coming up in one of our "Fix it up Friday" blog posts! 
Oh, and here's this, because it's just too cute to not share! :)
Make your own Vintage Numbered Crate
Have a wonderful Thursday!

Keepin' it Thrifty,

Parties I link to:
FEATURED ON: Hickory Trail and twelveOeight and Twigg Studios
Be sure to check out their blogs! :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Make Your Own Seasoning Packets!

Hey all! Have you ever been looking over a recipe for dinner and it calls for an "onion soup mix" packet? How about a "taco seasoning" packet? How many times have you passed that recipe up because you didn't have it? This was happening to me all too often, until... I decided to start making my own! Let me tell you, they are so easy and SO much better than those little convenient packets. I've never priced them out before, but I bet they're cheaper, too!

What I love about making my own seasoning packets is that I can control how much of each ingredient goes into my dish. Have you ever looked at how much sodium is in those tasty packets?!

First up, Onion Soup Mix. Here is what you'll need:
2 1/2 Tbs dried minced onion
4 tsp beef seasoning, or 4 crushed beef buillion cubes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Mix it up! You're done.
Next up, Taco Seasoning:
1 Tbs Chili Powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix it up!
If making ground beef or turkey for tacos-
Brown your meat, add your seasonings, add 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until water is gone.
Let us know if you give these a try! I hope you like them as much as we do!

Thank you so much for reading our blog! We truly appreciate it!
Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Initial Flower Wreath

The flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining! I love it. It inspired me to make an outdoor project. At least, a project that hangs outside. A homemade initial flower wreath! This project was fairly simple, it did take some time to make the flowers, but that depends how full you want your wreath, and what types of flowers you want to make. The ones I made are probably the simplest. Okay here we go!
 My inspiration for this project was a $1.00 wooden welcome sign from Michael's. I was going to hang it by itself, but then later decided to make this wreath and add just the decal and "W" for the initial of our last name!
Orchard Girls Wreath

 Okay, lets start off with what you need:
-About a yard of felt fabric
-A stick wreath (I got mine at walmart for about $2.00)
-Hot glue gun/e6000 glue
-A small circular object to trace (on felt)
-Wooden letter of initial
-Acrylic paint (if the letter is not already painted)
-String or ribbon (To hang your wreath)
Orchard Girls Wreath
Homemade Initial Wreath
1. The first thing you're going to need to do is start making your flowers. I followed this tutorial on Pattern Stitch Blog, flower number 3 (Rosette).
2. After you've completed your flowers, use your hot glue gun to place and stick them to your wreath!
Orchard Girls Wreath
3. Set aside your wreath to dry, and while that's happening, you can work on your letter. I just used acrylic paint I had lying around on my letter.
Orchard Girls Wreath
4. After your wreath and letter are done drying you can use either the hot glue gun or something like e6000 glue to attach your letter to your wreath.
5. The last step is to tie on your string or ribbon. Tie a knot on the top of the wreath, then make a pretty bow!
Here is my completed wreath!
Orchard Girls Wreath
Orchard Girls Homemade Wreath!
Hopefully that all made sense! Let us know what you think, and definitely put a link to yours if you try this out! Well, I am off to enjoy the sunshine! 
Have a wonderful day!


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