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Flavorful fresh fruits and veggies are one of my favorite parts of summer.  My Dad grows the absolute tastiest tomatoes that have been coming in strong this season so I’ve be cooking up some recipes to enjoy them.

Check out my recipe for a healthy flatbread pizza using tasty homegrown tomatoes:

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Healthy Tomato Flatbread Pizza Recipe:

  • Low Fat Tortilla (I used Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Tortillas with Flax Seed)
  • Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese
  • Fresh Tomato
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Salt
  1. Sprinkle tortilla with cheese
  2. Top with fresh sliced tomato
  3. Top with basil and cilantro to taste
  4. Add a dash of salt
  5. Heat in microwave or toaster oven

Like all of my preferred recipes, this recipe is quick and easy!   If you're looking for more tasty tomato recipes, check out my garden fresh salsa recipe.  What recipes do you make with tomatoes? 

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I love decorating with natural and beachy elements so I had to have this shell shaped bowl when I saw it at the Christmas Tree Shops.  Luckily it was a total steal for just 3 buckaroos.

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I filled the shell with a small candle holder (about $1 at Walmart) and surrounded it with actual sea shells.  The sea shells made the candle holder just as pretty from the top as it is from the side.

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Easy as pie, I have a pretty shell shaped candle holder filled with what else but more shells!

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Do you decorate your home with shells?

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Free Glass Storage Jars


July 28, 2010
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When it comes to home organization, I love projects that are quick and cheap to implement but solve a problem.  Sometimes these fixes are pretty obvious and I wonder why I didn't think of it sooner.  Take my kitchen pantry for example.  I always end up spilling chocolate chips on my pantry floor because when I'm reaching in the bag for a midnight snack the bag always rips and spills the yummy morsels.  After wasting too many chocolaty morsels (Trader Joe's brand are my favorite by the way), I came up with a free one minute fix to this pesky problem. 


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An empty appelsauce jar!  I have been saving empty applesauce and pasta sauce jars for these exact situations.  I simply peel the label off and place the glass jars in the dishwasher and then have a nice clean air tight glass storage jar.
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These jars are perfect for storing things all over the house like chocolate chips, candy, oatmeal, cereal, sewing supplies, craft supplies, and much more.  The best part is that since we're buying pasta and applesauce anyway, these storage jars are absolutely FREE!  

Have you come up with any free home organization or storage tips? 

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In addition to the upside down pepper plant I've been growing (psst, it's doing well- I'll post an update soon), I couldn't resist also buying this growing red bell pepper plant.  This baby was over two feet tall when I bought it and already had bell peppers growing on it, so I knew it would be a sure thing.

I was thrilled last week when two of the peppers were ripe for picking.  By the way, did you know that green bell peppers and red bell peppers are really the same thing?  If you let the green pepper ripen longer they will turn red and have a sweeter taste.  Since I like the sweetness of red peppers I resisted the urge to pick too soon and let my peppers ripen fully.

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That's how I ended up with this beauty!  My first home grown pepper!

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But the pepper didn't look like this for long, as soon as I picked it (and snapped a photo for posterity) I chopped up this bad boy for a home grown salsa.  I also picked some basil and cilantro, grown in my wacky stacked planters, and added a fresh tomato grown from my Dad's garden.  The only store bought ingredient in my salsa was an avocado .

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I tossed the chopped veggies into a bowl and added a little lemon juice, olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.  In just a few minutes, I had yummy homegrown and homemade salsa!  It was delicious and smelled amazing!  I was so proud of my homegrown pepper and it didn't disappoint, it tasted so much fresher and more flavorful than any store bought pepper I've ever had.

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We ate the salsa with some whole grain tortilla chips and it was delicious!  The salsa was so yummy, I made another batch the following night and scooped it over tortilla chips drizzled with melted low fat cheese for a healthier nacho style meal.

Here's the full details for my super simple and yummy Fresh Garden Salsa Recipe:

  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Avocado
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Basil
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Ground Black Pepper (to taste)
  1. Chop up the veggies
  2. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste
  3. Serve with tortilla chips
  4. Enjoy!!!
Are you growing veggies this year?  Any tasty recipes you've come up with?

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Front Door Decor


July 26, 2010
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The front of my house has a few steps that lead up to a small landing area.  To spruce up my very mini porch, I got this hanging flower planter for a few dollars:

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The flowers were pretty, but the planter wasn’t anything special.

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So for just a few buckaroos, I decided to spice up the flowers by replanting them in a much prettier hanging wire basket instead:

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I snagged the hanging basket for just $2 at the Christmas Tree Shops and in about 5 minutes I had a much cuter hanging flower pot!

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It was a fast and cheap fix, but now my front door looks much prettier!  And the plastic basket these flowers came in won't go to waste because I can always give it a new life as an upside down veggie planter next year.

Oh and if you’re wondering what flowers I have planted next to my front door, I have colorful Celosia and white Stock flowers growing.  I love the fresh, light look of the Stock and it’s extra special to me because the bridesmaids at my wedding had Stock in their bouquets.  I also love that the planter these flowers are in was a total steal for just $2 at a garage sale!

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All in all, my entire front door decor comes in, flowers and all, at about $10!  I may not have the biggest front porch in town, but I love my thrifty front door decor!  How do you spruce up your front door and porch area?

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Thanks to everyone who entered last week's CSN stores giveaway! Make sure to stay tuned because the fun isn't over yet, I will be introducing some exciting new blog features in the next couple of weeks.

The winner of last week's giveaway will receive a $40 to spend at any of the CSN stores, like their great lighting store.  A winner was chosen using random.org:


So drumroll please....the winner of the CSN gift card is reader Jennifer from her new blog Crafty Wanna-Bee.  Congratulations Jennifer, you'll have to tell us what you chose from CSN's thousands of items.

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway!  If you have any more feedback for my blog, don't forget to fill out my survey!

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Last fall, I saw this project on Garden Fresh Living and anxiously waited until this summer to be able to try. Check out how I made my own version of these "gravity defying" stacked flower tower pots.


For my version, I started off with some terra cotta pots and painted either the base or lip of each one in a summery green or orange color.
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Then I bought a plant support stake and used a rubber mallet to hammer it into the ground. To be honest, I bought a plastic stake, but really should have bought a metal one. I think I will redo this project with a metal stake so I'm able to support more plants.

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Next, I inserted my first pot on top of the stake and through the hole on the bottom of the pot. I have some yummy fresh basil growing in this pot.
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Then I added the second planter which contains a carefully planted cilantro plant on the right side of the pot. I angled this planter while inserting it over the stake, so it would have a toppled effect once on.
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Next, I placed another pot (in alternating colors), angled to the left over the stake. This planter contains another basil plant. Now my herbs grow in a cute stacked tower that has the clever look that it might tip over at any time! I actually have a fourth pot planted with mint that I'd like to add to this stack as well, but I will need to change the support stake to something sturdier so it can handle four pots. I think four pots would be a great look for these stacked planters, but for now I'm enjoying my basil and cilantro planted in this cute way!

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How about you, do you plant anything in an unusual way? Do tell!

This post is shared on A Soft Place, Blue Cricket, Southern Daydreamer, Pony Tales and Fish Scales, Life as Lori, Somewhat Simple, Shabby Chic Cottage, Fireflies and Jellybeans, Tales from Blogarittaville, Today's Creative Blog, All Thingz Related, Sugar Bee; stop by and check out the other great projects featured!

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Happy Blogiversary!  Today is a special day since it marks 1 year of blogging and my 100th blog post.  To celebrate, I have a great giveaway!

But before we get to the giveaway, I’d love to get to know you better and find out what you think about my blog.  Anything you’d change or you love and you’d like to see more of?  I’d really appreciate it if you could tell me your thoughts using this survey I put together.

Now, onto the giveaway!  The nice folks at CSN Stores are offering a $40 gift certificate for one of my readers to any of their stores.  CSN sells thousands and thousands of home products. Check out some of the lighting, housewares, home decor, furniture, outdoor, or any many other types of products CSN Stores offers.  The winner will receive $40 towards any purchase.  Here’s a look at a few of the thousands items you can snag with your gift certificate.
 csn_stores

Here’s how you can enter to win:

To Enter:  Leave a comment with the words “I Love Giveaways!”  Make sure to include a way to reach you if you win (a link to your blog or twitter page, or type your email address within the comment. You can also email me your email address and the name you commented under if you wish to have your contact info be private).

Bonus Entries:  For extra chances to win (these are optional), leave a separate comment for each of the following things you do:

  • Tweet this giveway on Twitter
  • Follow me on Twitter (or tell me if you’re already a follower)
  • Become a blog follower (or tell me if you’re already a follower)
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed (or tell me if you already subscribe)
  • Fill out my blog survey
Prize:  $40 gift certificate to spend at any CSN store

Details: Giveaway closes Sunday 07/18/2010 at 11pm EST.  One winner will be chosen using random.org.  One entry (and up to 5 bonus entries) per person and email address.

Good luck!

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Blogiversary Week


July 12, 2010
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This week is a very special week for the DIY Newlyweders.  Tomorrow will be my 100th blog post!  But that’s not all, tomorrow also marks my 1 year blog anniversary!  To celebrate my blogiversary, tomorrow I will be hosting a great GIVEAWAY!

But a giveaway isn’t all I have planned for this week.  Stay tuned for some fun looks at the past year and a few fun changes and announcements.

To start our anniversary celebrations, I’m introducing a new feature today.  If you look up at the top of the page, you’ll see a new button: "How To & Tutorials.”  This new button is an easy way to view all of the how to guides and tutorials featured on this blog.  As I post more tutorials in the future, I’ll keep updating this page.
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To celebrate this special week, here’s a small look at some of my favorite DIY home decor projects from the past year.  You can find the details for these projects, and many others, in the new Tutorials section.






Stay tuned  this week for more fun, some surprises, and remember to visit tomorrow for a great GIVEAWAY!

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With 102 degree weather in the Northeast this week, there's no denying summer has begun!  Summer has always been my favorite time of year.  When I was a kid, there was nothing I loved more than the long summer vacation from school where I was free to lounge around all day, watch tv, play outside, go swimming, catch fireflies, eat ice cream, and enjoy all of the other wonderful things summer has to offer.  There was so much I wanted to do and all the time in the world to do it!  Ah, it was wonderful.  Unfortunately as an adult the days of 10 weeks of summer vacation are gone.  But this doesn't mean I can't still enjoy summer, I just need to make the most of my free time.

So when I saw the Summer Lists Kimba and Meg put together for their kids, I totally fell in love with this idea.  They made a colorful list of all the fun things their kids want to do over summer break. 


I may not be a kid anymore, but I still love summer and couldn't resist putting together a grown up version of this summer to do list with my hubby!  Summer is all about acting like a kid again, right?

To make my own adult version of this summer fun list, I typed up a list of fun summer things we wanted to do in Powerpoint and printed it out.  I made the list colorful and used a fun font, Algerian.


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Once printed, I put our summer list in frame I already had (bought at the dollar store a few years ago) and took out the glass so we can check off our fun accomplishments as they happen (you can also keep the glass and use a dry erase marker to make check off the items on the glass).  Now whenever we're out of things to do, or I'm simply down from being stuck at work all day, we can consult our summer to do list for fun ideas.  As a bonus, once summer is over we can hang onto to this list as a souvenir to remind us of the fun we had this summer.


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Rob and I have already checked off several of our fun to do list activities already.  What are your plans for summer?  Do you have a list of fun summer things to do for yourself or your kids?


This project is shared on Finding Fabulous, Inspired Room, Finer Things, Make the World Cuter, Sumo's Sweet Stuff, Skip to my Lou, Creative 2xmom, Craft, Topsy Turvy, Tip Junkie;  stop by to check out the other great projects featured!

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We've been busy with another home improvement project in our casa.  Our home, as we bought it, is pretty cookie cutter and doesn't have many architectural details.  Sure furniture and decor can spice up any home, but I oh so love things like crown moulding, chair rails, paneling, and wainscoting.  So to fancy up our home and make it a little more interesting, we decided to install crown molding!  Our entryway, living room, and dining room got the royal treatment.

(Side note: is it "crown moulding" or "crown molding"? The dictionary says one way, Home Depot says the other way.  Who to believe?) 

Of course as we got started with the "molding," I forgot to take some good before photos, but I found these photos from when we first moved in.  I snapped these pictures as we were preparing to paint our living room and dining room, so you'll notice the old wall color and all of the missing furniture and decor:

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This was our first time installing any type of molding, so we wanted something easy to install.  Of course, we also wanted something that would be easy on our wallets.  There are several types of materials and designs for crown molding.  Home Depot provides this guide to crown molding and  popular molding materials:


We considered these types of wood molding, but decided we wanted something less expensive and easier to install, so we actually chose molding made from polyurethane.  Polyurethane is a much lighter material that's easier to make cuts with and easier to install- as you'll see we didn't even need to use nails!  Polyurethane is also less expensive, so it was a win-win for us.  But best of all, once the morlding is on the walls you'll never be able to tell that it's not real wood.  If we had an old Victorian home, we might have chosen real wood for authenticity, but for a 10 year old townhouse polyurethane is perfect.

Polyurethane molding comes in a number of different designs.  We wanted something that would dress up our space, but not look overly formal so we picked a Dentil design.  We chose this Focal Point Polyurethane Dentil Crown Moulding, from Home Depot. At $2.12 a linear foot, the price was right too.

To install the molding, we first measured the width of the molding (4 1/8") and snapped a chalk line across our walls at this height from the ceiling.  This line became our guide for installing the molding so we can ensure the molding was completely lined up and level:

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Since we weren't planning to repaint our walls, we used painters tape under the chalk line to protect our walls from getting scuffed :

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Next, it was time to get the molding onto the walls.  As I mentioned, this project didn't require us to use a single nail, instead we used Liquid Nails!  The type of crown molding we chose actually comes with brackets that you screw onto the wall, and then you snap the molding into the brackets (the brackets are sold separately).  This method seems easy, but because our walls are not completely level in all places, we didn't want to end up with any gaps between the wall and the molding.  Since the polyurethane material is a little bendy, gluing it on with Liquid Nails ensured that the molding would be completely flush against the wall in all places.

We added Liquid Nails on the top and bottom of each piece of molding and then pressed it against the wall.  Above and below the molding, and between pieces, we used a silicone latex caulk to fill any gaps.

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Luckily, as first time molders, my Dad was around to give us a hand and he brought his circular saw to make diagonal cuts to line up the molding in corners.

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Once the molding was on the wall, we let it dry overnight.  The next day, we sanded down any spots that had too much caulk and then gave all of the molding a fresh coat of white paint.
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Once the molding was painted, we touched up the wall paint in any spots that a got a bit of glue or dirt on them.

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The entire process took about one weekend and about $250 for both rooms.  We are thrilled with the results and think the Dentil crown molding dresses up our entry, living room, and dining room and makes the rooms look more finished and adds a bit of interest.





To see the full before and after, mouse over the image below (doesn't work in readers, click through to the site to see):


We love the look of our new crown molding! What do you think? Do you have crown molding in your home?

This project is shared on Fireflies and JellybeansShabby Chic Cottage, Somewhat Simple, Tales from Bloggeritaville, Life as Lori, Remodelaholic, My Romantic Home, Between Naps on the Porch, Mad in Crafts, stop by and see the other great projects featured!

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This year I made baseball themed cupcakes for Hubby’s birthday.  He’s a big Phillies fan so I knew I had to make a Philly Phanatic cupcake.  If you’re not familiar with the Phanatic, he is the fuzzy green mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies:philly_phanatic

The Phanatic has bright green fur, big colorful eyelashes, and a megaphone shaped mouth:

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I searched online for a tutorial on how to make Philly Phanatic cupcakes, but couldn’t find anything.  So I did some thinking and came up with my own Philly Phanatic cupcake design.

Check out how I made and decorated this Phanatic cupcake.  First I started with a chocolate cupcake:
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And covered it with white Coolwhip frosting (with my Coolwhip and confectioner's sugar icing concoction).  Then to make the Phanatic’s mouth, I cut a marshmallow in half and placed it a little more than half way down the cupcake:

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Next, I colored the cupcake green using Wilton Color Mist food color spray.  The spray worked pretty well and was like spray painting with flavorless food coloring.  Basically it's artificial coloring in a can, probably not the healthiest thing to eat, but it got the job done.

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Next, I made two eyes out of marshmallows.  If I had mini marshmallows, I could have cut them in half and used them as eyes.  But since I didn’t have any mini marshmallows on hand, I had to finagle a large marshmallow to cut round eyes from it.

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To make the pupils, I cut the tips off two chocolate chips and rolled them a bit to make them look round. Next, I made eyelashes using red icing.  If you read yesterday's post, you know I had a lot of difficulty using the icing I bought and don’t recommend it.  I had a lot of trouble with the icing, but managed to make something that resembled eyelashes.

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Finally, I finished the Phanatic cupcake by adding a bright red tongue like he’s sometimes seen with.

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And here’s the finished Philly Phanatic cupcake!

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I know I won’t be on Ace of Cakes or Cake Boss anytime soon, but considering this was my first attempt to decorate cupcakes and I made up this design myself, I think the Philly Phanatic cupcakes turned out pretty well!  What do you think?  Have you ever came up with your own cupcake design?

This project is featured on Fireflies and Jellybeans, Pony Tails and Fish Scales, Beyond the Picket Fence, stop by to see the other great projects featured!

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