How to Use Pinterest to Discover your Design Style

how to use pinterest to discover your design style

Do you know your design style?  Are you a little bit modern or country?  Do you like lots of decorations or prefer a minimalistic style?  White walls, dark walls, neutral or bold?  Painted trim, or stained wood? For some of us it’s hard to decide.

I can appreciate any well decorated space, so I made the mistake in our last home of combining too many styles in one room. Instead of looking relaxing, cohesive and planned, it looked like a mess.  If I liked it I stuck it in the room…..yikes.  I like both onions and ice cream, but not together.  Know what I mean?

With these simple steps,  use pinterest to discover your style:

1.  Start a pin board for each room in your house.  Don’t have one pinboard called “For the Home” that everything goes in. Have a “Living Room” board, “Master Bedroom” board etc.

2.  Pin pictures of whole rooms that make you feel the way you want to feel in your home.  Don’t just pin product shots of curtains, or pillows etc.  Make sure you are pinning entire spaces too.

3.  Pin a lot of pictures.  At least 30, but 100 is better.

4.  Ask a friend to look at your pinboard and suggest your style.

5.  Look at your own pinboard and look for common elements among the rooms.

6.  Use those common elements in your new design.

I made a little video for you to show what I mean.

I can’t wait for Tuesday!  I’m going to show you how to create your design in power point so you can try out new stuff in the space without breaking a sweat or spending a dime.

P.S.  If you don’t already follow me on pinterest, you can fix that here.   Ooh, and Instagram.

P.P.S If you have time to follow me, it helps me get more opportunities  to work with brands.  They look at numbers like those.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Decorating

beginner's guide to decorating

When I was a teenager, I felt terribly awkward and unattractive.  Girls all around me knew how to fix their hair, put together an outfit, and put on makeup to bring out their best features.  I tried to mimick them, but something always felt off.  My attempts at beauty made me look worse.  I came to the conclusion that they were the pretty ones and I was plain. Trying to change that would make me a poseur.

I was especially awkward when I first met my husband.  I had thick bangs that made the rest of my hair look thin and deemphasized my eyes. I was struggling with horrible acne and had both breakouts and red scaly dry patches from the drugstore remedies I was using. I wore only enough makeup to try to conceal my pimples — tinted pimple cream (Yes, I’m serious.) My uniform was a boxy t-shirt and jeans (rolled sleeves, tucked in and bloused) with well worn tennis shoes and gym socks.

We attended the same older youth church classes, went to the same camps and weekend church retreats, even went hard hat, water crawl, unmarked trail cave exploring in the same small group, but rarely spoke. The beautiful girls would fawn all over Darren and I turned my back. I didn’t bother to find out if he was worth getting to know, because I didn’t stand a chance.

The first retreat that I organized something happened that made me turn around.  At our first meal, Darren mentioned that he wouldn’t be staying on the grounds since his farm was just a mile away. I told him he didn’t need to pay as much since we wouldn’t be charged for his lodging.  He said, “But will YOU be ok?  (Meaning, “will you have to pay out of your pocket if I don’t pay the full amount?”)

I said, “It’s tight, but I think we will come out even.”  He handed me his full amount plus a little extra just to make sure.  (Picture me, bangs and pimples, holding his money, staring at him way too long, with my mouth open.)  Later that weekend, we were having a Bible class and Darren participated quite a bit in the discussion.  As we went to our separate sleeping areas and the girls stayed up late talking about boys, one girl remarked, “He has spiritual depth.”  I fell asleep thinking about that.

It was well known among my circle of friends that I wanted to marry a farmer.  A church friend from college was trying to set me up with a young farmer (YF) he grew up with.  YF hadn’t shown any interest in me whatsoever, and I couldn’t even remember meeting him before, but the friend would come over and tell me all about his good points and why I should be interested.  Then the friend helped me write some letters to ask about farming.

YF, happened to be Darren’s roommate at a college a few hours away.  When my letters arrived, Darren would tell him, “This is a great girl. You should be interested.”  Then he helped him write the responses, complete with cutting out pictures of farm implements from catalogs, gluing them to notebook paper and explaining what they did.   YF drug his feet.  He never did ask me out.  My friend pushing me toward him, decided if YF wasn’t going to ask me, he’d take me out himself, and Darren decided the same thing.

Before our first real date, Darren drove up a couple of times to visit me and my roommates at college (board games and snacks), and eventually transferred his enrollment to my school.  Since my school was closer to his family farm, He told his friends, “I need to move back to check on my cows.”  They still tease him about calling me a cow.  Nobody was fooled–except me.  I felt so unlovely that I denied he was interested in me until our first real date. (Funny that before the date, Darren had already spoken to my father, professed his love and gotten permission to try to win my heart.  And his grandmother had already tried to give him her wedding ring to encourage him to propose.  I was clueless.)

Our first date was a day at Darren’s farm. He asked in such a way that it felt like a friendly gesture to give me the taste of real farm life. I wasn’t about to waste an opportunity to make a good impression though. My roommate loaned me her clothes–name brand jeans and a cute flannel shirt.  I bought new work boots (and gave my faithful tennis shoes a rest.)  Looking back, I realize how ridiculous I must have looked, showing up pressed and pristine, with the tags freshly cut off my clothes.  We were about to get MUDDY.  I was there to work, not for a commercial tour, lol.  My first job was to ride in the tractor and jump out to open the gates so he could get through more quickly.  My first hop out, I landed in a HUGE mud puddle. The mud went up over the TOP of my new suede boot and sucked it right off my foot.  Darren laughed and laughed…. I did not.

After we married, Darren helped me see the potential for beauty that I had.  He encouraged me to experiment with makeup and hair and showed me how to shape my eyebrows.  As the brother of 3 gorgeous sisters, he had picked up a lot of beauty tips along the way. I asked him one time, why he married me, when I was so plain and he had such an eye for beauty.  There were beautiful girls all around!  He said, “I could see how beautiful you were through all those bangs.  Those other girls didn’t have the inner qualities I wanted in a wife, and when they dove into the swimming pool their faces came off!  I knew what I was going to wake up to in the morning when I married you.”

It took me YEARS after marriage to finally feel comfortable doing my own hair and applying makeup.  My Mary Kay director was a huge help to me in this.  After I turned 30 I realized that I wasn’t a poseur if I wanted to look my best.  I just needed more help to learn how.

I remember being invited to a few parties as a young married bride and walking into homes of couples as young and new as we were and being amazed at how beautiful they were!  I chalked it up to them having more money than we did, but that wasn’t the case.  They just knew some basic things about putting together a home that I was clueless about–just like I was with fashion, makeup and hair. In fact, a lot of the homes were smaller than ours.  They selected a home that they could AFFORD to furnish beautifully.  While I selected the biggest home we could afford and put furniture in it that we took off the neighbor’s curb.

I thought of myself as a decorating dummy for years, but really I just needed to learn some things. Stupid isn’t the same as uneducated, so if you’ve felt like a dummy when it comes to your house–stop it. We all have to start somewhere.  Some people have natural talent, that’s true, but the rest of us can be taught.

In my quest for beauty I have studied magazine photos, subscribed to blogs, and picked the brain of my friends with interior design degrees, but still felt the need for more guidance.  My home just didn’t feel right. I needed a class that had order and steps–that made sense of the chaos of all the tips I had gathered.  I can’t tell you how many times I bought the wrong thing, but didn’t realize it until it was too late to take it back. I thought investing a little bit in myself might save me a ton of money in bad shopping choices. When I found the Cozy Minimalist class, I hoped it was the final piece that I needed to put everything in order.  It was.

Here’s a little video that gives a taste of the class I took.  If you love it, you’ll love the class.  You can get $10 off the enrollment fee if you use this link and put my name in the referral box.  The class is now closed, but I’ll be sure to let you know if they hold another session.

If you take the class and still find yourself struggling with your space, I’d be glad to look at your photos and tell you what I would do.  Just keep in mind, I’m the girl who thought tinted pimple cream was makeup. The rest of this month I’m going to go through my steps of how I plan out a room, set a budget for the space, and know if I’m going to love it before I start.  I also have some house updates to show you :).

July is going to be house month.  Whether you are just along as a spectator or working in your house at the same time, welcome aboard :).

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It’s Link Up Time!

Homemade Mix Recipe Linky Party
Mix month was so much fun!  If you missed some of the posts you can see the master list and all the links to the recipes here. Do you have a favorite mix recipe on your blog or on the web?  Link it up here.  I can’t wait to see your stuff! :).



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Cream Soup Mix

homemade cream soup mix

Canned cream of “___” soup, how I love thee!  Let me count the ways.  You don’t curdle in the slow cooker. What kind of chemical wizardry allows this?  Any dish I pour you in, becomes an instant child favorite.  You are a time saving genius.  But alas, you carry a suitcase full of MSG headaches and I’m afraid what your chemical  wizardry will do to my insides.  We won’t part ways forever….I’m just saving you for special times.

Homemade cream soup is just a basic white sauce with the appropriate vegetable or meat added.   It takes about 15 minutes to make from start to finish, but doesn’t behave well in a slow cooker. Canned soup is this same idea but concentrated with half the water removed (and again–some kind of wizardry that makes it behave in slow cookers.)

As easy as scratch cream soup is, sometimes it just feels too hard.  Like pulling out the mop and cleaning up the kitchen floor.  On those days, having a mix on hand takes away just enough extra steps that life feels possible again.

I’ve seen lots of mix recipes floating around, but none of them use the concentrated idea in their formulas. The results look (and taste) like thickened water with a mist of milk thrown in.  If normal instant dry milk reconstitutes with 1/3 cup powder to 1 cup of milk, you are going to need 2/3 cup of powder to 1 cup of milk to create a concentrate.  When checking out other recipes on the net–keep that in mind.

Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup Mix–single batch

2/3 cup instant dry milk

2 tsp MSG free chicken bouillon granules

1/4 cup flour or 2 Tbs cornstarch or 2 tsp glucomannan powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp white pepper

To use, whisk mix with 1 cup of cold water until all lumps disappear, then cook and stir until thickened.

Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup Mix–Large Batch

4 cups instant dry milk

1/4 cup MSG free chicken bouillon granules

1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup cornstarch, or 1/4 cup glucomannan powder

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

3/4 tsp garlic powder

3/4 tsp white pepper

Use 1 cup of mix to 1 cup of water, stirring until all lumps disappear.  Cook and stir until thickened.

Cream of broccoli soup: sauté 1/2 cup of finely chopped broccoli in a little butter before adding mix.

Cream of celery soup: Saute 1/2 cup of finely chopped celery in a little butter before adding mix.

Cream of mushroom soup: Use 1 can of undrained chopped mushrooms as part of the liquid (makes up about 1/4 cup of liquid)

p.s. dry milk and instant dry milk are 2 different products.  Dry milk reconstitutes 1/4 cup powder to 1 cup water while instant milk uses 1/3 cup powder to 1 cup milk.  Instant dry milk is bigger granules and dissolves more readily in water, and is available at Aldi.  Either product can be used in the mix, you’ll just need less dry milk. (1/2 cup instead of 2/3 cup etc.)

p.p.s You can halve the amount of dry milk and reconstitute the mix into fresh milk.

p.p.p.s. Even though dry milk is somewhat processed, this recipe does curdle in a slow cooker.  It makes great oven or stove top casseroles though.

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Posted in mix recipes, Recipes | Tagged cream of broccoli soup mix, Cream of Chicken Soup Mix, cream of mushroom soup mix, cream soup mix | 2 Comments

Homemade Seasoned Salt

homemade seasoned salt blend

Seasoned salt gives that little something special to homemade baked fries, vegetable dips, and tacos! We are big fans of Lowry’s seasoned salt, especially since is MSG free, but homemade mixes are my thing too!

Homemade Seasoned Salt Blend

1/2 cup salt

2 Tbs sugar (or truvia)

4 tsp paprika

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp ground celery seed

Combine all and put in a shaker jar.  (Did you know parmesan jar lids fit on regular mouth mason jars, and spaghetti jars etc…?)

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Homemade Onion Soup Mix

homemade onion soup mix

Onion soup mix is rarely used for onion soup around here.  It makes a great dip mix, roast potato topping, roast beef seasoning….There are a ton of recipes calling for this stuff.  To save money, buy your dried onions in bulk.

Onion Soup Mix

2/3 cup dried, minced onion

3 tsp parsley flakes

2 tsp onion powder

¼ tsp celery seed (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Use 3 Tbs in place of a packet of onion soup mix.

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Homemade Alfredo Sauce Mix

Alfredo sauce is mostly cream and butter with a touch of garlic and maybe some white wine.  This recipe is a lot lighter than that, but still gives the creamy texture and mouthful of flavor that you’re hoping for.  The original mix I created has pasta already in it for a fast skillet in 1 dish, but you can leave it out to just make the sauce for pizza or something like that.  If you want it to be REALLY rich and creamy, when preparing the final dish replace a cup of milk with a can of evaporated milk.

homemade light alfredo sauce mix

8 oz Fettucini, broken into pieces (whole grain pasta works fine)

2 T flour (or 1 Tbs Cornstarch for gluten free)

2 T powdered instant skim milk

1/2 t basil

1 t lemon pepper

1/2 t garlic powder

1 t salt

1/2 C parmesean cheese

Mix all in a quart bag. To prepare. Pour mix into a skillet with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of milk. Stir well until all the powders are blended and noodles are well moistened. Bring just to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until noodles are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. Sauce will thicken as it cools. If you like, stir in sauteed vegtables, cooked chicken cubes, turkey sausage, or shrimp.

You can also make the mix without the pasta and just make sauce.  To prepare stir the mix with 1 cup of milk and cook and stir until thickened.  It makes a nice sauce for Alfredo pizza :).

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Posted in Frugal Living, Lunch recipes, mix recipes, Recipes | Tagged Alfredo Sauce, homemade mixes | 2 Comments

Homemade Pizza Crust Mix & Pizza Sauce Mix Too!

Homemade pizza crust mix

This pizza crust recipe started as the commercial recipe for the pizza shop in Lamoni, Iowa that fed the college students at Graceland. It was a local favorite and I was elated when the recipe made it’s way into my hands. It has been reduced in size to make 2 large pizzas (13-15 inches each) and then formulated into a mix.  We use fresh ground hard white whole wheat flour at our house, but white all-purpose flour yields results more like what you would expect from a restaurant. Half and half is a nice compromise :).

See my notes at the end for Gluten Free

Pizza Crust Mix

4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs dry active yeast

2 Tbs sugar

In a quart  or gallon size baggie, combine the flour, salt, yeast and sugar.  To use pour the mix into a large bowl and add 1 2/3 cups warm water and 1 Tbs olive oil.  (If you use a gallon size baggie you can pour the water and oil right in and knead everything through the plastic. Knead until the dough comes together (I use a kitchen aid with a dough hook.)  Lightly oil the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes (up to an hour) to allow the gluten relax so you can roll it out.  You can add 1/2 tsp of basil, 1/4 tsp oregano and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder to the mix for an herbed dough.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Top the crust with pizza sauce (or marinara sauce), cheese, and then desired toppings.  before baking brush or mist the edges with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt and parmesean cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is golden.

To make this gluten free, replace the flour cup for cup with gluten free all purpose flour that has xanthan gum in it.  Add 1 tsp of baking powder and when preparing the crust add an extra Tbs of olive oil. The crust will have a different texture and type of rise than gluten crust does, but it is good :).

Pizza Sauce Mix

1 ½ t garlic salt

2 t basil

1 tsp parsley

1/4 tsp oregano

dash black pepper

dash cayenne powder

To use combine mix with 1-6 oz can of tomato paste and 1/2 cup water.

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Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix

homemade ranch dressing mix

Ranch dressing is the ultimate in comfort foods.  It’s makes raw veggies party food.  Unfortunately the secret ingredient in most bottles of ranch is MSG.  That stuff tastes really good and brings along with it a side affect of massive headaches (and mouth rash for my kids.) So here’s a yummy recipe for you that is mostly herbs and dried vegetables.  If you are dairy free you can make it with mayo and unsweetened unflavored almond milk, or tofutti better than sour cream.

2/3 c onion powder

2/3 c garlic powder

½ c salt

2 Tbs pepper

2/3  cup dried parsley

2/3 cup dried chives

¼ cup dill (opt)

¼ cup sugar or truvia (opt)

2 Tbs = 1 mix packet.  Use in recipes or to make dressing add to 1 cup mayo and 1 cup buttermilk, plain yogurt, or sour cream.  You can thin to desired consistency with milk or water. Shake well before using.  This tastes better after chilling for several hours.

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Homemade Beef Stew Mix

homemade beef stew mix

Beef stew is one of those dishes that is hard to mess up (if you use the right about of salt.)  Onions and garlic can give plenty of flavor on there own.  Once you taste a stew with just the right blend of herbs, it changes everything.

My mom’s famous stew is embellished with a packet of McCormick’s Stew Mix.  It’s MSG free and I like that.  But I’m also a big fan of homemade mixes.  I can’t claim this one is an exact replica of McCormick’s, but it’s pretty good.  (I leave out the oregano in ours, because I’m not a fan of oregano–it’s okay to adapt it to your tastes.)

Homemade Beef Stew Mix

2 cups Flour  or 1 cup cornstarch

4 Tbs salt

4 Tbs Garlic Powder

4 Tbs Onion Powder

4 Tbs Paprika

2 Tbs Basil

2 Tbs Celery Seed

2 Tbs black pepper

1 Tbs sugar (opt.)

1 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tsp dried Oregano

2 tsp crushed rosemary

Combine everything in a glass jar.  Use 3 Tbs with 1 lb of hamburger or stew meat, 2 cups of water, tomato juice or crushed tomatoes, and 4-6 cups of vegetables (green beans, potatoes, carrots, corn, celery, onions, radishes, sweet potatoes, or peas.)

Brown your meat first, then coat in the stew mix.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender.

Or just toss your raw meat with the stew mix in the slow cooker, then dump everything else in. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

If you want to leave out the flour or cornstarch completely you can add 1 cup of pearled parley or 1 cup of brown minute rice (gluten free) during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

Bonus tip:  When we have leftover bits of vegetables after a meal, I put them in a container together in the freezer.  When the container is full, I have enough for stew.

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Posted in mix recipes, One Pot Wonders, Recipes, Slow Cooker | Tagged Beef Stew, Homemade Stew MIx, One pot wonder, Slow Cooked Beef Stew, slow cooker | 3 Comments