Friday, December 27, 2013

Lean Mean Green Machine

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  We had a relaxing, low key, casual Christmas with just the four of us; which was the exact opposite of last year.  We have been enjoying a few days off to tackle our to do list and get our affairs in order!

Last year was all about recovery and getting myself back to "normal."  So, this year is going to be all about making myself better than ever inside and out, from my head to my toes.  Today I started my first day of going Green.  One down and 364 to go.  My goal is to drink at least 1 per day, more if time permits!

Dan bought me a blender for Christmas so I could start getting my daily dose of green drinks.  And today we hit the grocery store, stocked up on vegetables and fruits and I christened my blender.  Much to my delight, it was delicious!

 Healthy Green Drink

Dan also got me the book "The Healthy Green Drink Diet."  It is jam packed with information.  The first part talks about "The Greens" and breaks it down by each leafy green, what vitamins and nutrients it is packed with and the benefits you will receive from it.  Then it moves onto the fruit.  The end is filled with delicious recipes.  If you click on the photo above it will take you directly to Amazon to buy it.  I am a Prime member so I get all of my books from there because they arrive in 2 short days.

Before making my decision, I did my research on the best blender for me.  There are a ton out there in a wide range of prices.  You could drop some serious coin on some of them.  The key features/factors that I was looking for was a mid-range price point, ease of use and most importantly ease of cleaning.  I do not like cleaning cumbersome blenders so if it is tedious in any way I won't do it and this would quickly become a fad that sits up on my shelf collecting dust!

 Nutri Bullet

After much research I personally chose the Nutri-Bullet, for all my reasons mentioned above.  You can find them at Walmart, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond (use a 20% off coupon!), etc.  I went with the 600-watt motor.  There is a Pro Version that has a 900-watt motor but has a higher price point.  I typically tend to jump all in to something new and spend too much money to get started.  So, this time I wanted to baby step into this to make sure I would stick with it without dropping too much cash.  The reviews said it didn't leave things clumpy, so it sounded like a winner.  And, after making my first one, I think I made the right choice!

While researching, I found a couple of top of the line Cadillac blenders, so if you can afford the investment you may want to check this website out: Simple Green Smoothies.  They talk about how the Blendtec and Vitamix are the most coveted blenders (their warranty and performance are apparently incredible).  This site is chuck full of helpful information on how to get started, great recipes, etc. so I bookmarked it in my "Smoothies" Folder. 

I also saw this helpful graphic on 100 Days of Real Food which was originally created by Simple Green Smoothies, as mentioned above. I am not going to lie, I was very intimidated on getting started.  This "dumbed it down" for me so it took out all the fear and a lot of guesswork!  They talk about the 60/40% rule, especially when you are getting started.  The 60% is fruits the 40% is leafy greens.  Easy peasy. 

 100 Days of Real Food

Another super helpful tip is to add your leafy greens and water (or preferred liquid) first and blend.  Then add the fruits.  I followed this tip and my first Smoothy turned out delicious and free of clumps.  

My first Smoothy consisted of the following ingredients:
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups water (blend these two together)
Add fruit
I used Mango and strawberries (a cup or two)
1 banana

It was so yummy.  It made enough for me and the Hubs to enjoy one together!  I am so excited.  I can totally do this and can't wait to reap the benefits and start feeling better than ever!!

If you have any great recipes to share, please do tell!  

Going green,

 Decorating, DIY & life's Daily Doings

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Open Letter To Moms from Kid President

Dear Moms,
"While I have you here, I want to take a second to talk about"... Kid President.  I was in the middle of typing up a different post and then my husband played this for me.  OMG, I LOVE, love, love this kid!  I just want to pick him up, stick him in my pocket and take him home with me.  That face, that sweet little voice and that sense of humor just makes me smile.  "WOW, wow, wow!"  I can't wait to show it to my boys, who are thankfully not named "Phone."

Sometimes we just need a friendly little reminder that we ARE awesome and that our kids really do love us!!   Really, really.  

That's all I got.  Short and sweet, just like Kid President.  You can find more good stuff on their website SoulPancake.

Well, I need to go dance now, just like I was told by Kid Prez!!

"I am out!"
Decorating, DIY & Life's Daily Doings

Sunday, December 15, 2013

C is for Cookie

As I said in my last post, I just went to a Cookie Exchange Party.  A party based around cookies you say?  Yes, please.  I of course waited until the 11th hour to make my cookies.  So I went with one of my favorite tried and true recipes.

I made Haystacks Cookies or sometimes they are called Chinese Noodle Cookies.  They really taste more like candy to me.   No matter what you want to call them, they are always a big hit.  But, this is one of those times that you should never judge a book by its cover.  Look away!  They look hideous!!  Which is why I have another name for them and affectionally call them Sh%t Drops.  (Sorry...ear muffs!)  They may not be pretty but they sure taste good.  We LOVE them!   Our friend Big T calls them crack.  Yes, they are that good.

They are not only yummy but are also super easy, which is why I like to make them.  The holidays are so full of hustle and bustle so why not make it easy on ourselves.

Here is the recipe if you are interested.  I kind of wing it a bit.

Prep Time: 10 minutes - it takes a bit to drop by the teaspoonful on the cookie sheet.Cook Time: 5 minutes-ishTotal Time: 15 minutes - give or take

  • One 12 oz. bag of butterscotch chips
  • One 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • One 12 oz. can of salted Planters peanuts.  I probably use about 3/4 of the can - maybe 2 1/2 cups
  • One 5 oz can of La Choy Chow Mein noodles.  I usually use the whole thing.
(Please note I do not have the actual can sizes in front of me.  I threw them away.  Next time I am at the store I will confirm for sure)

Microwave the butterscotch chips and chocolate chips on 50 percent power for 2 minutes in a fairly good size bowl.  Stir it well.  Repeat cooking in 1-2 minute intervals on 50% power until they are totally melted, stirring in between.  Don't over cook.

Add remaining ingredients and blend to coat noodles thoroughly. I kind of fold the melted chips over the noodles and peanuts so I don't break the noodles.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.  You have to work at a steady pace so the chocolate doesn't  harden before you are done.  Put them in the fridge to chill and set.  I take them out of the fridge a little bit before serving so they don't break your teeth!

I made about 60 cookies with this amount of ingredients.  Like I said, we really really like these cookies.  But, if you don't have any willpower I suggest cutting the recipe in half.  Wink, wink!

Store in an airtight container in a cool place.  We can usually just keep them on our back porch but our weather has been all over the place so I keep them in the fridge.

Grab a napkin...they are just a handful of messy goodness!!

Decorating, DIY and Daily Doings

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Think Outside the Box - Holiday Style

A fun tip for thinking outside the box this holiday season.  
Here is a sneak peak at a photo...can you guess what it is and what I did with it?

I feel like I have always been one to "think outside the box."  I think it is one of my unique qualities and I am grateful for it.  It is actually what made me start doing Interior Redesign.  Redesign is basically decorating by using only what you have.  It forces me to get very creative.  It is the best way to design on a dime.  I just seem to have this weird knack for looking at something and finding a way of using it as something else other than its intended purpose.  It lends itself to unique decorating and I love it when my clients say "I never would have thought of it."  It means I am doing my job.  I don't know how or why I see things a little differently, it just kind of comes to me all of a sudden.  It is strange, but I love it and find it so fun to do!

You can see examples from some of my previous posts.  One of my faves was a free find. I saw a big tree stump on on the side of the road, slammed on the brakes, and picked the beast up and put it in my van.  I saw the potential but my kids thought I was nuts and I had lost my mind.  I turned it into a small end table for my porch.  I have since seen them for big bucks and Ballard Designs, etc.  All I paid was the cost of the three wood feet for the base.  I will take free all day long!

I also took a simple outdoor wall light and turned it into a useful pencil and paint stick holder for the Restore Spaces charity event.  You can see what the original looked like on this previous post.

You can always see more ideas and inspiration under these categories: Trash to Treasure and Repurposed Items.  I will be sharing a lot more so stay tuned!

But, last night could have been one of my favorite "think outside the box" moments.  First, I was so excited to go to a festive holiday cookie exchange party.  I missed it last year because it was the day I was put on a respirator in ICU.  I learned last night that they almost cancelled the party last year because it was hard for them to enjoy a festive party while their friend was in the hospital.  Nooooo, don't every cancel a fun Christmas party!  I was very touched and soooo glad they did not cancel it.  I would have felt guilty and been so sad for them to miss out on the spirit of the season, on my behalf.  So, this year Dee, the host, decided to make it extra fun and festive with a "wear your best tacky sweater theme!"  Um, had me at tacky!!!  I am the queen of props and we have bins full of costumes.  My kids have definitely inherited my love of dressing up and being just plain goofy.  It makes my heart happy!

Anyway, I didn't have a good tacky Christmas sweater.  Lord knows I have had some tacky clothes over the years but that is a whole other story.   So, one day it came to me while watering my Christmas tree.  I had to adjust the tree skirt to get the water filled up.  And then it came to me...the tree skirt looks like a poncho.  OMG, I will wear a tree skirt!!!

Off to Walmart I went in search of my tree skirt.  I spotted it right away.  A deep blue tree skirt with white fluffy trim.   Yes, success!  I loved the fact that it was blue and not the traditional holiday green and red colors, it made it even more unexpected.  As I was walking out to pay, I spotted a large, shiny, silver bow with long strands.  Oooooh, shiny!!  Yes, that would make the perfect tree topper...or pony tail topper in my case.

Here is me being a dork having my hubs take my photo.  He said he would bet me $1,000 dollars that I would be the only one wearing a tree skirt.  He was right, but I hope this becomes a new holiday tradition amongst my friends.  I told my boys I was going to wear it to Christmas Eve Mass.  "OMG, Mom you are going to totally embarrass me in front of my friends!"  Tee hee, I think I will let them believe that one for a while.

And, the cherry on top was a very last minute accessory.   I was walking by my dining room centerpiece ready to head to the party and spotted them staring me right in the face...two shiny silver & white pine cone ornaments.  Ah ha!  They would make perfect earrings.  I grabbed a pair of my existing earrings and just hung the ornaments on them.  It totally worked!!  I didn't have time to go get my jewelry making supplies with jump rings ,etc.  So this was the fast easy, peasy way to get it done.

Voila, I was dressed for the party and was 100% tacky!  It was so fun and made me happy!  It was a heck of a good party with lots of yummy food, great holiday decorations and most of all some darn good peeps.  I was grateful to be there this year to celebrate amongst my dear friends - old and new. We all embraced the spirit of Christmas and the fun of a tacky sweater party!   It will be a very happy, sappy couple of weeks for me and I am going to enjoy every minute to it.

I encourage you all to think outside the box this holiday season.   Out what fun it is to...!??

Happy Tacky Day,
Decorating, DIY and Daily Doings

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Blogday

Happy Blogday!  Now please reread those words and say it out loud to the tune of Frosty the Snowman's Voice when he comes alive and belts out "Happy Birthday"! in a very enthusiastic tone.  Now you get the gist of what I am feeling. (wink, wink)

What is Happy Blogday?  It is a day to celebrate new beginnings.  It is exactly one year ago today that I ended up in the ER then ICU for a 2 week stint.  I had a sudden, near fatal illness come out of nowhere that almost took my life.  They could never really pin anything down so the final diagnosis was some crazy unknown strand of the flu plus an unknown virus that lead to respiratory failure, septic shock and me on a respirator for a week.  Eek.  I am sure I will post more about this throughout my blogging because it truly changed my perspective on life and so many things.   But, in the meantime,  if you want a good Hallmark read you can see my story here by going to  Go to "visit site" tab and type in: marybethbarrett (all lower case, all together) and the password is: theycallmemb (all lower case, all together).  My husband poured his heart out to share our journey about love, community,  power of prayer, determination and what our priest spoke of during his Homily on December 25, 2012 a true "Christmas Miracle".  I promise you that you will laugh and cry and be inspired by a community of friends and family who lifted us up through the illness and recovery.

I thought today was the perfect day to resurrect my blog!  My illness has taught me to fill my life with things that I love.  I miss blogging.  The funny thing is that I actually have been doing it daily.  I blog in my head.  I see something and I actually craft a post in my head.  Is that nuts or what? It is now time to get it out of my head and onto my blog.  So, Happy Blogday!  I thought the photos of my Paperwhites helped depict what my feelings of growth and new beginnings.  I am a plant killer my nature.  I kill anything green.  When I saw these I totally flipped and thought "I can do this", no watering, low maintenance, etc.  Bring it on.  And, double bonus...I thought my boys would think they were a super cool science experiment where they can watch them grow.  And I was right, they love them and keep me posted on their progress.  They seriously pop out so fast.  The photo on the left is one of my Paperwhites in the morning and the one on the right is by nightfall.  Bam...sheer beauty!  And, triple bonus.  I can change out the bulbs to something seasonal.  I can't wait to try Tulips in the spring.

I am also changing things up a bit on my blog.  First, you will notice a new updated design.  I love it!  My new blog won't just be about decorating, art and DIY.  I am more than just my job and my hobby.  I am also a mother, wife, sister, daughter, cousin and friend.  So, I will share some of life's daily doings that I find helpful or just plain hilarious.  One thing that got me through all the madness of my illness was humor.  I like to find the humor in things so I plan to share that with you.  I may also not post everyday.  I will do my best but I am not going to kill myself over it!!

And, as a reminder, I am not grammatically correct.  I used to be afraid to write for others to read because I stink at grammar and therefore I would not do it.  Once I let go of that fear and just wrote from my heart, I felt that it was good enough to share, imperfections and all.  So, if you feel the need to take out your red pen and correct all my mistakes, please do so.  But, please don't tell me about it.  I am fully aware.  I write from the heart, not from Grammar 101.  :)

So, my wish for you is to do what makes you happy!  And, please stop and smell the roses and notice the random gifts of beauty all around you because they will pop up out of nowhere.

Much love and Happy Blogday,
A little Down Home DIY will Do Ya!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Living Room Redesign

Here is a link to my photo album from one of my recent Interior Redesign and Color Consultations. My clients struggled with furniture placement and selecting the right colors to work with her existing pieces.

So, we addressed her focal point...err points in this case. She actually had 3! The fireplace, the tv and the view (they live on a golf course!). We successfully managed to create an intimate conversation area while working with the existing angles of the room.

She really wasn't too far off with her original color in the living room, all we had to do was darken it up a bit to create that warm and cozy feel she was after. I "measured" the color in the window treatments to make sure it coordinated with them just perfectly.

The kitchen was the biggest transformation. It was out with the old wallpaper and in with a new, fresh and clean color. The cabinets and counter tops were staying so that was our guide. Don't you love the new color?

We had a great time "shopping" her house for treasures. She had a lot of great pieces tucked away. It was so fun to see her reaction.

Next stop...the basement. We are doing some finishing touches to the media room and creating a family photo wall in the game room. Can't wait! I just love my job.

Let me know what you think!

Happy decorating,


Bringing new life to your décor and more

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So You Think You're Crafty

Well, the auditions are posted at "So You Think You're Crafty" for the season 4 contest. And, yes, I like to craft with the best of them. I am one of the 13 hopefuls who loves to get down and crafty. Each week, contestants will submit their creations based on the theme and people will vote for their favorite. Only 10 get to participate. And, once you are voted over!

Each project is listed anonymously so I can't tell you which one is mine. Rats!! But those who know my style and passion just may be able to figure it out.

I encourage you to surf on over to see the projects, be inspired and vote. Hopefully you pick me! I totally want to participate in this challenge. Wish me luck!

Craft on,
Bringing new life to your décor and more
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