Hello Again. And Bread.

Bread Mix

Hey y’all!

I was so excited to get into a good blogging groove again. And then we decided our chosen curriculum for homeschool was not the best fit for our daughter. So we switched gears, revamped and have finally hit a good groove again.

Good groove= mommy has time to blog (sometimes!)

Today I was measuring out the ingredients for my bread machine and decided to pre-measure the dry ingredients to make future bread making even easier. The recipe by itself is pretty easy. But let’s face it. Some days even easy recipes are hard for me. We are selling our house, homeschooling and then there’s just life in general. And no eating out, because, well, I just don’t trust that other chefs/cooks won’t accidentally make a mistake with my daughter’s food. So I prepare all of our food.

I digress.

Here’s how my next three times of making bread will be even faster and easier.

I:

1. grabbed a few baggies,

2. pre-measured the dry ingredients, and

3. added the steps including missing ingredients in order.

 

Bread Machine

I added a sticker because I love stickers.  Stickers are not necessary, but, why not?  🙂

Click here for the bread recipe I’ve been using.  It’s officially called “White Bread for 1.5 lb Loaf Breadmaker.”

I’ve also made Hamilton Beach’s recipe for french bread and it’s really good, too.

Bread Sticker

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Post-it Notes Homeschool Board

Post-it Notes Board

So, have you noticed I’ve been writing about homeschool A LOT lately?

I’m all in, shu-gah! 🙂

I feel like I live and breathe homeschool.

I feel like I’ve got menu planning and cooking under control. Cleaning, too.

Homeschool is our newest adventure and I’m always searching for the best I can buy/give to my daughter.

This is my latest homeschool creation.

I have lots (aka too many) decorative paper pads from Michael’s stores. And I have a laminator and lots of Post-it notes.

Last Friday, I decided to put up 1 Post-it note per subject with a specific activity written on it. I grouped them all together on a wall. SG was in charge of choosing which subject we did until she pulled all of the Post-it’s off of the wall.

It was a hit!

SG loved it because she was “in charge.” I want her to feel some control over her schooling.

It also gives me a glimpse into which subjects she likes best because she chooses those first.

The verdict?

DEAR time and writing are always chosen last because they are her “least favorite.”

DEAR is Drop Everything And Read. She chooses her books, her location, her stuffed animals and I set the timer for 15 minutes. Sometimes 20. She never wants to do it, but here’s the kicker- once she’s set up she loves it! She reads happily in a cozy little spot of her choosing.

DEAR Time

This board was so easy to make. I cut down a 12×12 sturdy decorative piece of paper from one of my paper pads. I used my Scotch laminator to laminate it. I use a magnet to hold it on the fridge. I put my Post-it notes on the board. As we do each Post-it note lesson, I put the note on my lesson planner.

At the end of each lesson, every few lessons and sometimes at the end of the school day, I stop and review the Post-it notes and write in my lesson planner what SG learned that day. (another state requirement)

So there ya have it. My Post-it Notes Homeschool Board. Made from materials on hand. Yay!

Random thought:  This could easily be made into a menu planning board.  Write out meal ideas for the week and pull them off as you make them.  Or a goals and inspiration board.  Or… a honey do list!  I may have to find some manly decorative paper and make the Huzz one!!!  Wouldn’t he just LOVE that… haha!  If I used my smaller Post-it Notes, I could squeeze in more notes for that honey do list.  🙂

Post-it Notes Board 2

The smaller Post-it Notes are perfect if you have more tasks to fit on the board.

Can you think of any other uses for a board like this?  I feel like the possibilities are endless.

Homemade Shopkins Cookie Cakes!

We were invited to a 5th safe party this year!  That’s a record, friends!  We are always humbled, grateful, excited and a bit nervous when we go to parties.  The anti-histamine the allergist has SG on has helped tamp down her constant contact reactions tremendously, but it still occasionally happens.

So, my sweet cousin N invited us to her daughter’s party and offered to have only safe foods.  I offered to make the cake.  N requested a Shopkins Kooky Cookie cookie cake.

The Huzz and I are always up for a good cake challenge, and we tackled this one the way we do best- together.  I baked the cookie cakes and he did all the decorating with the frosting.  Good ‘ole Pillsbury frosting.

We surprised N with an extra cookie cake- Cheeky Chocolate.  As I shaped Kooky Cake with the raw dough, I realized I had enough dough left for an extra cookie cake.  I showed the Huzz several images and he picked Cheeky Chocolate as one he thought he could well.

Without further ado, here are our results:

kooky-cookie

cheeky-chocolate

The baking of the cookie cakes was my part.  I simply use this food allergy friendly chocolate chip cookie recipe from Silk.  Click here for the recipe.

I take about half of the dough per cookie cake and shape it with my hands until the desired shape is reached.  For Kooky Cake, I shaped it into a circle as big as my round pizza pan.  We put parchment paper on the pan and shape the dough on top.  For Cheeky Chocolate, I formed a tall rectangle.  I baked the cookie cakes on 350 on convection for 13 minutes.

We let the round cake cool almost completely before the Huzz cut out the bite marks in Kooky Cake.  Then we let the cookie cakes cool completely before the Huzz decorated the cookie cakes.

We used these Pillsbury frostings:  1.5 cans of chocolate fudge, 1 can of cream cheese (it’s dairy free!), one can of vanilla hot pink frosting and one can of vanilla neon blue frosting.  And my frosting tool that helped me create SG’s beautiful Barbie cake last year.

As for the cake decorating, an artistic person is definitely a plus.  I could not have made these cookie cakes look like this.  The Huzz is artistic and is the one who made these cakes shine.  So, if you wanna try this at home – (and you should! If we can do it, so can you!) then an artistic person is most definitely gonna help make your cake beautiful.  (The feet and hands are just frosting- no cookie cake underneath.)

The cookie cakes were a hit, my daughter had a blast and there was not a single piece of cake or frosting left.  I’d say that was a successful party!

Thank you N for having a safe party when you didn’t have to… you’re pretty rad!

(Did I just date myself by using rad?)  Haha!

Happy cookie cake baking, my friends!

Homemade Rapunzel Cupcakes: Dairy & Egg Free

rapunzel-cupcake-close-up

Hey friends!

We went to another birthday party today!!!

In case you didn’t know, that is BIG NEWS in our house. Our allergist has recommended that our daughter only go to safe parties until we get her contact reactions under control. So that means we usually cannot go to most parties, as we really don’t expect everyone to make it all safe for us. We usually go to 1-2 birthday parties a year.

We have had a busy year- we have gone to 4- count them-4!- parties outside of our house this year, y’all!

Today, our little cousin E celebrated her 4th birthday with a Rapunzel themed party. My cousin picked all safe party foods so SG could go. I made the cupcakes Rapunzel themed.

I am always up for a good baking challenge.

My go to cake is always our good ole wacky cake. I made a double batch of vanilla cupcakes. I bought 4 cans of purple Pillsbury frosting (read the labels please!), a bakery cardboard cupcake holder, fade proof cupcake liners, and downloaded the cutest Rapunzel printable PDF to top the cupcakes. Click here to see where I purchased them from and to see this lady’s other designs.

It took me less than 5 minutes to whip up each batch of cupcake mix (this is from scratch- no box mixes here!). So, 10 minutes to make enough batter for 48 cupcakes. See? You can do this, too! We got this, food allergy mamas and papas (and non food allergy friends, too!)

I always like to bake my cupcakes in advance and freeze them. That just takes the pressure off of me on the day of the party. Then I get to concentrate on icing them. You could easily do everything in one day.

So, here’s how I made these delicious- and, if you don’t mind me tooting my own horn, adorable Rapunzel cupcakes.

In advance, prepare the cupcake toppers. I chose to purchase, download, print, cut and tape toothpicks to the Rapunzel printable.

rapunzel-toothpicks

Make a double batch of wacky cake batter and bake as cupcakes. My cupcakes bake on convection at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. (The wacky cake recipe is at the very end of this post.)

Let cupcakes cool completely and then either freeze them or move onto the frosting step.

I use this frosting tool with the pronged tip to frost the cupcakes. I started as close to the edge of the cupcake as I could and just went round and round until I hit the middle. When I stopped frosting, the frosting went up in a line. I used the tip of the toothpick to push the frosting tip down as I inserted the toothpick into my frozen cupcakes.

I also kept the decorated cupcakes in the bakery box (I bought that from Party City) in the fridge until it was time to leave for the party.

rapunzel-cupcakes-in-bakery-box

This pic is kinda dark but I am so thrilled to have the cupcakes in this box to help them look like they came from a bakery!

Here’s my tip on the bakery box. It’s very flimsy. I’ve never used one before so I had no idea. I had a mini heart attack as I lifted my completely cupcake filled box and took two steps towards the fridge and the bottom of the box started to give way. Somehow I balanced it all- it was so wiggly. The Huzz happened to walk in right as the catastrophe was happening and he swooped in and saved the day! (And the cupcakes!) Next time, I will also purchase an extra cardboard cake thing- what do you call those? I used one for my Barbie cake. Anyway, I’ll Scotch tape the bottom of the box and also use a cardboard meant for cakes for added sturdiness. We ended up carrying the cupcake box under a cutting board. It worked. 🙂

So, that is how we made our safe Rapunzel themed cupcakes.

rapunzel-open-box

I added in two extra cupcakes to fill the box that didn’t have picks.  I didn’t want the cupcakes falling over during the drive to the party.  

Here’s a random side note. Another little friend was at the party and wasn’t going to be able to eat the cupcakes until the mother found out the cupcakes were dairy and egg free. I had no idea another little friend with food allergies was there. That just blessed my heart that another little friend was able to freely and safely partake of all the food!

rapunzel-open-box-close-up

So, there ya go, my friends. Another yummy, safe, and fun birthday cake.

rapunzel-at-party

Here the cupcakes are in action.  My cousin also made Rapunzel Fruit Tower kabobs.  How cute!

rapunzel-skillet-plates-cupcakes

My cousin also made these adorable “skillet” paper plates.  She’s so crafty!

Wacky Cake
(Double this recipe if needed. Each recipe yields approximately 24 cupcakes.)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons of cocoa OR For Vanilla Cupcakes, omit cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (use 1 Tablespoon vanilla if making vanilla cupcakes)
  • 2 cups cold water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add wet ingredients. Beat well until blended. (I use a stand mixer.)
  4. Pour using 1/4 cup batter per cupcake liner.
  5. Put the pans in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes per batch, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allergy Friendly Cakes & Cupcakes

I have made a lot of cakes since becoming an allergy mom.  I’ve learned how to bake, frost and create.

I decided to scroll through my thousands (I’m serious!) of family pics and find all of the allergy friendly cakes, cupcakes and cookie cakes I’ve made and photographed.

Most of these cakes use my wacky cake recipe.  Click here for the recipe for wacky cake.  I’ve also made a few cookie cakes.  I use this recipe from Silk and instead of making lots of cookies, I shape it in whatever shape I need and bake it for 10-20 minutes.  I start checking it at 10 minutes and adjust from there.

Here are most of the cakes, cupcakes, and cookie cakes I’ve made:

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes for my Nephew

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes for my Nephew

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Spider-Man Birthday Cupcakes for my Niece’s 3rd Birthday Party

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Tinker Bell Cupcakes for SG’s 3rd Birthday Party

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Close Up.  The Ring Toppers Made the Cupcakes Look so Special!

A SpiderMan Cake for my "Baby" Brother

A SpiderMan Cake for my “Baby” Brother

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Simple Christmas Cupcakes

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Mini Vanilla Cupcakes for SG’s Friend’s Birthday Tea Party

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Frozen Cupcakes for SG’s 4th Birthday Party

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Thanksgiving Cupcakes

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Tea Party Cupcakes

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Jelly Tinted Vanilla Cupcakes Topped with Fresh Strawberries for SG’s Friend’s Birthday Party

Cupcakes for My Gigi's 85th Birthday Party

Cupcakes for My Gigi’s 85th Birthday Party

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No Frosting?  No Problem.  Just Add Coco Whip & Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

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A Cookie Cake for our Little Cousin’s 3rd Birthday Party

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I Included her Initials, Too.

My 1st Ever Cookie Cake!

My 1st Ever Cookie Cake!

Football Cookie Cake

Football Cookie Cake

There ya have it.  Most of the cakes I’ve made in the past few years, right here for ya in one spot.  🙂  I have made a few more but cannot find the photos.  Oh well.

Happy cake making, food allergy mamas and papas!

Homemade Barbie Birthday Cake: Dairy & Egg Free

Y’all!!! I think I need a personal chef. Or a personal organizer. Or a housekeeper.

Because I just can’t do it all lately. Do you remember that I mentioned a few posts back that we moved to South Carolina? (From Iowa.)

We closed on our house on November 3rd. Birthday party for SG was scheduled for November 21st. That’s a lot to do in a short amount of time. And the next week was Thanksgiving, which I hosted and prepared almost everything for. And then Christmas.  Let’s just say: I’ve. Been. Busy.

So SG wanted a Barbie themed birthday party. I scoured Pinterest for ideas. I found some amazing ideas. I did not want her party to be a Pinterest fail. Nuh-uh.

I was determined to make her a beautiful Barbie cake. Like the Barbie in the cake kind. I was so nervous. I didn’t even practice the cake before her party. I wanted to and planned to, but ran out of time.

I even found a Barbie box on Pinterest. One for the kids to pose inside of for pics. I had to have it! I have my graphic designer brother to thank for the Barbie box. Way to go Uncle Josh!

Here’s how the Barbie box turned out:

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The Barbie box was inspired by these pins here and here.  In the end, we looked at a few pins and my brother did his own thang.

Each of our guests took pics inside the box. It was just adorable!!!

And the cake…

Well, I’ll just show it to you:

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I still can’t even believe we made this cake!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, it deserves that many exclamation marks.)

Here are the pins that inspired this cake:

This one from Cakes.com.

This one from The TomKat Studio.  This one had so many inspirations!

And also this one from Blissfully Sweet.

None of those cakes were safe for us, but I knew I could do it.  Or I could at least try my hardest!

In preparation for frosting the cake, I knew it was time to finally buy a nice icing set. I scoured Amazon and the reviews convinced me to purchase this Dessert Decorator Plus. This tool was crucial in the frosting of this cake. I highly recommend it.

We browsed several Barbies in the stores and SG decided on this Barbie:

SG's choice. I liked her for so many practical reasons: pointy ballet shoes are easier to poke her into the cake, her top and hair are pretty and most importantly, she is PINK!

SG’s choice. I liked this Barbie for so many practical reasons: pointy ballet shoes are easier to poke her into the cake, her top and hair are pretty and most importantly, she is PINK!

Here’s how I made the cake. I decided to go with our handy dandy and reliable wacky cake. Otherwise known as crazy cake or depression era cake. I made two batches. I made 4 round cake pans total. Two chocolate and two vanilla round cakes.

Wacky Cake
(Double this recipe.)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons of cocoa (for vanilla cakes, omit cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup oil (I use canola)
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (use 1 Tablespoon vanilla if making vanilla cupcakes)
  • 2 cups cold water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare your round pans. Grease with vegan butter and add a little bit of flour.
  3. Gently tap the pan to evenly spread the flour throughout the pan. Throw away the extra flour.
  4. Put dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon.
    Add wet ingredients. Beat well until blended.
  5. Pour mixture in the two round pans. Try to get the same amount in each pan. I eyeball it.
  6. Put the pans in the oven and bake.
  7. The round cakes will take approximately 20-35 minutes. I used convection bake and it baked two cakes in about 20 minutes. When I don’t use convection bake it takes a little longer. Set your timer for 20 minutes and add extra time in small increments if needed.
  8. Let cakes cool on a wire rack. Place a large plate on top of the cake and flip over. The cake should come right out. If not, you may have to gently prod the cake out.

We decided to wrap the cakes in foil and freeze them overnight. We did this because we wanted the cake to be firm for shaping it the next day.

The next morning, we unwrapped the cakes.

Here’s what we used to make the doll shaped cake.  This website was the one that convinced me I didn’t have to buy one of those big dress shaped cake pans.  I could use simple round pans to make my barbie cake dress, as I mentioned above.  Thanks for the Pinspiration!

I bought a cardboard round cake board from Party City. We wrapped that in foil. We put one round cake on the board, but used icing to “glue” it down. We put a light layer of frosting on top and used that as the glue to hold the next layer. We alternated chocolate and vanilla cake layers.

Here’s the steps with photos:

The frosting is the glue between each layer. This "cream cheese" frosting is dairy free and makes the cake even more scrumptious!

The frosting is the glue between each layer. This “cream cheese” frosting is dairy free and makes the cake even more scrumptious!

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We had to trim the puffiest part of each round cake except for the base and top layer.  Ok- I guess we trimmed 2 of the 4 cakes!

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Layer 3

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This was just tall enough for our Barbie.  Don’t forget to wrap her legs in plastic wrap!

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Barbie’s hips will be covered with frosting.

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The Huzz used the serrated knife to soften those hard angles.  We didn’t snap a pic of it before the frosting.

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We gave it a quick layer of frosting to prevent crumbs from showing through her “dress.”

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Barbie in all her glory!

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Barbie from another angle.

I started the frosting in the middle of Barbie’s dress in the front.  I made one rosette and kept going in a line horizontally until I went all the way back around.  Then I worked my way one row at a time.  When I got to to Barbie’s hips, I did a quick line around her waist to make sure the plastic wrap didn’t show.  I used 3-4 cans of Pillsbury frosting for her pink rosette dress.

We are so pleased with how the cake turned out.  SG was blown away and super happy!

I am thrilled to show the world that us food allergy mamas can rock it out!  FAM’s (food allergy mamas)- WE GOT THIS!

 

Pinterest Win: I Made My Own Magnetic Menu Board!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m a pinning fool. I also LOVE to menu plan.

I’ve menu planned a week at a time and used this to keep me on track:

Weekly Menu Board

And maybe a year later I tried menu planning this way:

Menu Planning My Way

Then I menu planned around meats I stockpiled in my freezer and typed up my menus and shared my menus on this blog:

Menu Planning Around Meats in the Freezer

Menu Planning Around Meats in the Freezer

16 Dairy & Egg Free Dinners  Typed on Cardstock and Held up with a Magnet

16 Dairy & Egg Free Dinners Typed on Cardstock and Held up with a Magnet

Then sometime early this year I came across this on Pinterest. It is from I Heart Organizing. She was highlighting a project from the blog The Homes I Have Made. A magnetic menu board!

Seriously, y’all, I think I might have drooled when I clinked on the link and saw the menu board. Obviously, I’ve tried LOTS of ways to organize my menu planning. All have been good, but I kept trying new ways. But this… this was a thing of beauty!

Luckily, I had some budgeted spending money and went straight to Staples and Target. Here’s what I needed for my board:

Magnetic Calendar

Magnetic Printing Paper

Menu Board Supplies

Menu Board Supplies

I couldn’t believe the magnetic board was on clearance at Target. That was a major score!

I think it cost around $22 for both the board and paper.

You can visit any of the above linked blogs to see how they made their magnetic menu planning boards.

The first step was compiling all of our favorite recipes.  See the pic below of the clipboard to see my list of our favorite recipes.

I used “Pages” with my MacBook and played around with rectangular shapes. I printed rectangles, cut them out, held them in a menu board square, adjusted the rectangle size and tried again until I had the right size.

I picked colors that I liked. I typed in our favorite recipes in white letters. Then I printed that bad boy and held my breath. My cheap little ink jet printer did awesome! It took the sheet through completely one time before printing it. It did that both times. But then it printed it beautifully the second go round.

I have to admit… when the magnetic sheet came out I was as giddy as a child. I think I even danced my way to our bedroom to show the Huzz. Even he loved the magnets. Our little printer made us proud.

Anyway, the Huzz cut out the magnets for me. (I have tendonitis that flares with excessive scissor use. For real!)

Then, I lovingly placed each one according to my written menu plan.

And then I just stared at it in awe. I can’t believe I made this, y’all! I. am. not. crafty.

I do sit down and write out our menu plan. I photocopy our big calendar and then with a pencil, plan our meals. I plan a month at a time. I do it slowly- not all at once. When I have time, I sit down and grab my clipboard. I keep the photocopied next month’s calendar on my clipboard with a pencil attached. I grab my iPad, my list of favorite recipes, get on Pinterest for new recipes and plan away.

My Favorite Recipes List.  I add new favorites & use this to help me menu plan.

My Favorite Recipes List. I add new favorites & use this to help me menu plan.

My photocopied calendar.  I write in recipes on here when I have time.  Blurred out for my own privacy.  :)

My photocopied calendar. I write in recipes on here when I have time. Blurred out for my own privacy. 🙂

Yesterday, I had almost the entire month of June planned on paper. However, I was just stumped for a few dinners. I took the magnets down from May, organized them according to color, and placed what was planned on the board. The best part? The blanks in my menu plan were easily filled with the remaining magnets. Y’all… I just picked up magnets and finished my menu planning that way. Easy peasy!

Here’s some pics of the printed magnetic sheets:

I printed 2 sheets.  I added some blanks to handwrite new favorite recipes.

I printed 2 sheets. I added some blanks to handwrite new favorite recipes.

Close Up

Close Up

Another Close Up

Another Close Up

Close Up

Close Up

Last Close Up

Last Close Up

I found this in the Dollar Spot at Target.  It's perfect storage for my extra magnets.

I found this in the Dollar Spot at Target. It’s perfect storage for my extra magnets.

My magnets not in use live in this container.

My magnets not in use live in this container.

Menu Board Display

Our Menu for June.

Our Menu for June.

Do you think you’ll make a magnetic menu board? I’m so glad I tried and succeeded!

Pinspiration Sources:
I Heart Organizing
The Homes I Have Made