Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Grill a Perfect Steak Every Time!

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Wet-Nap but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #showusyourmess

One of my very favorite things about summer time is grilling dinner and eating it outside in the yard. I just love it. And my very favorite meal to eat off the grill is a big, juicy steak. Lucky for me The Maestro is a master griller and makes a perfect steak every single time (which is at least weekly!).

 How to Grill a Perfect Steak Every Time! It's so much easier than you might think--no fancy marinades or sauces, just a juicy, tender steak that everyone will love!

Lucky for you, he was willing to share all of his secrets with me, so I could in turn share them with you. Now you, too, can become a regular grilling Maestro. (Stick with this post until the very end, and you will not only learn how to grill the perfect steak, but you will be able to download a coupon for Wet-Nap.)

Happy Grilling!

(Couldn't resist the photo--he was totally being a dork because I was taking a picture, but he really does love grilling just this much, and don't ever let him try to convince you otherwise.)

How to Grill a Perfect Steak Every Time!

1. There are many different cuts of steak, and you'll probably be surprised to learn that The Maestro actually prefers to grill Top Sirloin. It's one of the cheaper cuts, so this makes me and my grocery budget happy, too.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Baby Isn't a Baby Anymore and Other Adventures

I'm feeling that uncomfortable feeling that summer is almost over. Once July has ended, it always feels like August flies by and it's all I can do to squeeze the last bits of sunshine out before autumn has also sped by and winter is upon us. Why is it that winter seems to be never-ending and summer is so fleeting? (Hint: It might be because winter around here actually IS never-ending.)

IMG_8883 Sunday photo web

We did everything we could to squeeze every ounce of fun out of this last week. Gotta get what you can from summer while you can get it.

Monday was a trip to Marquette for Chloe's orthodontist appointment. The Maestro has been working on his tenure file and couldn't go, so it was a girls only sort of trip. We ate lunch, we hit Target and Michaels, and spent the rest of the day at Presque Isle.

Sophia and Chloe have been wanting to get out letterboxing, so I looked up two boxes that were out at Presque Isle Park. The first one required a nice walk along a nature trail, where Chloe found the box pretty quickly. Bria had been unimpressed with--and may have even complained about--the letterboxing while we were walking, but once we found it, she remembered how fun it is. And she said, "Okay, I guess this is a little bit fun and I'm glad we're doing it." In case you don't speak teenager, that means "This is amazing and I am having so much fun doing this!"

Saturday, July 26, 2014

How to Make a Harry Potter Golden Snitch Costume

Did you know that Harry Potter is turning 34 years old this week?


Well, trust me, he is. I am excited to be participating in a Happy Harry Potter Series with Marissa at Rae Gun Ramblings to celebrate this momentous occasion! What could be better than a bunch of bloggers who love Harry Potter getting together to share ways to celebrate The Boy Who Lived?

Nothing, that's what!

Want to be a Harry Potter character, but don't want to be the same as everyone else? Why not be a golden snitch? Here are directions for a simple and cost-effective golden snitch costume.

If you are a long time reader of my blog, you may remember our Very Hogwartsy Halloween in 2011, when my girls all went as Harry Potter characters. Bria was Hermione, Chloe was "Some Kid in Gryffindor," and Sophia was a Golden Snitch.

Yes, leave it to a 5-year-old Sophia to decide to be the one Harry Potter thing that isn't sold commercially. She really had her heart set on being a snitch, so I set to work figuring out how to do it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Host a Summer Book Club for Kids

This post is part of an ongoing Summer Reading for Kids series. Click HERE to find ideas for reading activities, reading lists, and reading incentives...and keep checking back for more!

This post is also part of a SUMMER FUN series hosted by Emily of Nap-time Creations

A really fun way to get your kids excited about reading in the summer is to host a summer book club for them! What better way to encourage reading than to have a fun party?

We started hosting summer book clubs for the girls two summers ago. The girls have seen how much fun I have with my own book club each month, and they love to help me come up with fun refreshment ideas to match the theme of the book we read when I host the book club at our house. So, naturally, they thought it would be super fun to do their own book clubs.

And they were totally right, because a book club is a great excuse to have a fun party! Bria and Chloe did their first book club together in the summer of 2012, and Chloe did another one last summer.

Sophia is going into third grade this coming fall, and she hasn't been interested in doing her own book club before this year (partly because she was terrified of chapter books last summer), but she was all for it this year. We just had her book discussion and party last week and it was a blast! I thought I would outline the steps we take to run a fun kids' book club, and at the same time tell you all about Sophia's fabulous book club party!

How to Host a Summer Book Club for Kids

1. Let your child help as much as possible

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quick & Easy Bathroom Makeover

Every summer I have a huge list of home improvement projects to do. You know, since I supposedly have more time to do them. Which never turns out to be quite true, but it sure makes me feel really wonderful when I am actually able to complete one or two of them!

This summer, the upstairs bathroom was on my list.

Using Frog shape tape, make a stunning focal point wall in a small bathroom
When we moved into our 100+ year-old home five years ago, the upstairs bathroom was the very first room I fixed. Even though just about every room needed quite a bit of help, it wasn't a difficult decision to begin with the bathroom. It was obviously something that had been added to the attic much later in the house's life, and it wasn't done particularly well. There wasn't a lot I could afford to do but paint it white to brighten up the ugly, brown walls. To see the finished product of 5 years ago, click here: Painting the bathroom white.

We replaced the toilet about four years ago, which was a nice little update. A couple of years ago, when my dad was visiting, we finally pulled out the awful white linoleum that was stained and gross and replaced it with a lovely grey/brown linoleum. My dad also put in a new vanity, replaced the baseboards (the person who had put them in before did not bother to miter or anything, plus they were the flimsiest wood you could imagine), and we got new mirrors.

I did all of this during my unblogging period, so here are a few photos of the old and new updates.

Old linoleum and toilet:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Year of Sundays

This, my friends, is basically the year anniversary of the Sunday Photo/Lara's life update posts.

One year ago, I decided that I better either do something to resuscitate my dying blog, or let it die. I decided to commit to the Sunday photo, and I'm so glad I did. Just blogging once a week reminded me how much I love to blog. It reminded me that it's something that I do for myself that truly feeds me. So I started doing it a little more. Then I started to realize that perhaps I could also make enough money blogging to allow me to quit the little part time job I had that I really didn't like.

And, guess what? I quit that job in April and it feels SO good. I will still be teaching a ton of voice lessons come fall, but I have more time to do the things that fill me up (and the things that never got done, like the dishes) because of my little blog. I'm really happy that I listened to the little voice pestering me to do more with it again. It's been a great year.

And I thought it would be fun to compare the photo from one year ago with the photo today. I took it in the same place, though the girls aren't sitting in the right order. Also, I've been really terrible about keeping them in their Sunday Best for these photos the last little while. But the point is that they've all grown and changed quite a bit this year. It's strange to see the photos together, because seeing a photo each week doesn't allow you to really notice some big changes.

This year (today):

IMG_8808 Sunda Photo web

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Beauty Box Five Review: July 2014

Beauty Box Five July 2014 Review: Beauty subscription box including Argan Oil conditioner, Revlon mascara, Body Drench lip balm, Starlooks lip liner and Anna Naturals Walnut scrub.

"Defining Moments" is the theme for the July 2014 Beauty Box Five. Celebrating the events that make you the amazing woman you are today. (Keep reading for a coupon code to try Beauty Box Five at half off at the end of this post.)

Revlon Bold Lacquer Mascara in Blackest Black (Retail $7.99): Okay. I was thrilled with this stuff. I swear, mascara is a difficult make-up item for me and I don't know why. I have recently tried lots of different brands, and it's crazy how different the results are. I basically have no eyelashes, so I need a mascara that will lengthen and volumize. And I like one that doesn't leave me with black all over my eyes at the end of the day. But I don't want it to be waterproof just so it will stay on, because I'd also like to get it off easily enough when I go to bed. (Okay, I'm starting to maybe see why I have such a difficult relationship with mascara.

ANYWAY, all of that to say that I love this new Revlon stuff! It's perfect. Stays on, no smudging, my eyelashes look long and full, and you can get it at any drugstore for a lot less money than some mascaras. Win.