DIY Black and White Decorating Ideas

My mother in law is really creative. There is just no competing with her. I mean, we all remember the burger bite cookies right? Her real talent is in decorating though. She can take things she finds in the alley and whip them into a treasure in minutes. I am always talking to my friends about her great ideas so this past month I had the chance to snap some pictures of her super creative, mostly inexpensive ways to dress things up. Now, I have NO idea how she does most of this stuff but she is getting into social media so the good news is that if you have any questions at all about the how-to’s below you can leave a comment and she can try to help you out. You can, also, follow her on Pinterest. Today’s theme is all black and white decorating ideas but you will love future posts and pictures on bathrooms and chandeliers so stay tuned.

Black and White Decorating Ideas

Black and white diamond wallpaper makes a big impact in the front entry.

Black and white diamond wall paper makes a dramatic entrance

Painted black and white dresser adds storage and a place to set things in the front entry.

Black and white painted dresser adds storage to the front entry.

Black and white photo collage make this wall a perfect place to show off family.

decorate a plain wall with black and white family photos

Faux antique frames painted white and mounted on a black wall.

Inexpensive "antique" frames painted white on a black wall.

Large chair is just the right piece for this room. You can see the above frames in the reflection.

black and white sitting room decor ideas

Why have a boring backyard?? This black and white theme extends to the patio.

Black and white patio theme with chandelier

Beautiful lace dress of my sister in laws plays perfectly in the dressing room.

Dressing room ideas

So easy and cute to sit on a chair or bench don’t you think?

black and white umbrella decor

That last picture was snapped by a good family friend. You want to follow another super cool chick on Pinterest that posts original things? Pixie is your girl! 

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black and white decorating ideas


Nokia 2520: A Back to School Must Have

This past May I spent a few days immersed in tech at the #VZWBUZZ San Francisco event. I received so many new items that I am in love with. But one of those was taken away from me immediately upon unpacking. Connor took one look at my new Nokia 2520 tablet and I haven’t seen it since. Well, I do see it but never out of his hands. I see it when he is getting ready for his upcoming college classes by studying chemistry, or when he is watching Netflix, or even when he is blasting Pandora. But have I played with it since those few blissful days in San Fran? Nope. And I am not going to. After a summer of declaring the Nokia 2520 his, he is taking it to college instead of his laptop.

So, obviously I had some questions. Can a tablet really perform the duties of a laptop or desktop for a college student? Is it possible that a tablet could actually replace his laptop? Turns out the answer seems to be a resounding YES, YES IT CAN. This little beauty with a 10.1″ HD display combined with the Nokia Power Keyboard is ready for work or play. With the simple swipe command feature its extremely easy navigate between apps making an easy switch from Doodle Jump to looking like you are actually studying.

nokia 2520

Running Windows 8.1 with a SnapDragon processor, the 2520 is the perfect choice to run Microsoft Office apps like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Microsoft Outlook, and OneDrive storage for documents and notes. All of which came on the tablet and most of which are essential to the college or high school student. Even though the tablet has a shocking 32 GB of built in storage, I encouraged him to move all his major high school papers to the cloud so that they may be “reworked and re-purposed” in some of his core classes.

The 6.7 MP camera will be perfect for taking video during lectures. Wait, is that actually allowed? You know, in case he is a bit tired to actually take notes. I have no idea why he would be so tired though since I am sure he will be in bed by 8 pm every school night. Right?

I can’t say enough about the power keyboard and case. Its a great, comfortable, sleek design that protects the 2520 while looking very professional. You can actually take this and shake the tablet in it and it won’t come loose. The case has two additional USB ports and acts as a back up power source recharging the tablet connecting through a port and not using Bluetooth which means it is safe for him to use on all those flights home when he misses his mom. The case also makes a great stand for watching movies.

nokia 2520 power case

Tablet won’t fall out even when turned upside down.

Speaking of movies…the 2520 makes a great entertainment device for those few minutes each day when he won’t be studying. The HD display works wonderfully with Netflix and Hulu and even Skype so he can call me up and see my beautiful face when he is homesick. OK, more realistically so Carter can send him videos of the dogs and cats and Bob can send him YouTube videos of Ed Bassmaster farting. Hey, a mom can dream, right?

Disclosure: As a member of the #VZWBuzz team I am provided with products and compensation by Verizon Wireless for my honest feedback and reviews.


$150 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

With my oldest starting college I am feeling this big time this year for sure. Summer is coming to an end and the kids will be starting another school year… Whether you homeschool or go the traditional route, expenses can rack up and cause a lot of financial stress. So, I have decided to team up with some amazing bloggers and host an awesome giveaway similar to the Regal Gift Card Giveaway I just did! I mean seriously, what better way to kick off the new school year than to have a back to school $150 Walmart gift card giveaway?!


The 411 on the Back to School $150 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway


You, of course!

Note: giveaway is open to the Continental US, Hawaii, Alaska, and Canada. However, if winner chosen is in Hawaii, Alaska, or Canada, they will receive an e-gift card instead of one via snail mail.


ONE – $150 Walmart Gift Card.


Giveaway will be open from July 25, 2014 – August 18, 2014. Winner will be chosen at random on or about August 20, 2014 and their name will be displayed in the Rafflecopter widget below. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be chosen.


To have a chance to win the $150 Walmart gift card to help with your back to school shopping– all you need to do is leave a comment below telling us what your favorite subject was in school! The rest is up to fate! ;)

All other tasks are optional to increase your chances of winning.

This giveaway is sponsored by:

Moms of FaithGuessing All the WayLiving Smart GirlBlog by DonnaDirector JewelsThis Roller Coaster Called LifeThe Neighborhood MomsMy Sweet BeautyLife With LeviMy Boys and Their ToysWisconsin MommyPint-sized TreasuresInspired Moms Club and me of course.

Disclaimer: Walmart is not affiliated with this giveaway or its sponsors. Prize is being provided by sponsors mentioned above.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Regal Giftcard Giveaway: Want $100 To Go To The Movies?

It’s getting hot (even in Denver) so my friends and I came up with a fun little Regal giftcard giveaway to give one lucky reader $100 gift card to Regal Entertainment Group. Just a fun little something to help brighten up your summer and help you beat the heat. Good luck!

regal entertainment gift card


The 411 on the $100 Regal Giftcard Giveaway


You, of course!

Note: giveaway is open to the Continental US only.


ONE – $100 Regal Entertainment Gift Card.


Giveaway will be open from July 10, 2014 – July 31, 2014. Winner will be chosen at random on or about August 2, 2014 and their name will be displayed in the Rafflecopter widget below. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be chosen.


To have a chance to win the $100 Regal  giftcard giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment below telling us your favorite movie of all time! The rest is up to fate! ;)

All other tasks are optional to increase your chances of winning.

This giveaway is sponsored by:

Moms of FaithBlog By DonnaInspired Moms ClubThis Mama Cooks! On a DietDealicious MomRobynsOnlineWorld.comJulieverseKid Congeniality & me, of course.

Disclaimer: Regal Entertainment Group is not affiliated with this giveaway or its sponsors. Prize is being provided by sponsors mentioned above.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop Tips & Tricks

I was recently invited to a Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop night by a friend of mine. It’s sort of like the old time Tupperware parties but instead of coming home with a bunch of plastic containers your kids will use as sandbox toys, you come home with 10 family meals ready to go in the freezer. Since I am always looking to figure out how to keep us from dialing up taking out, I thought “sure, why not?”. I called up the Wildtree rep and paid my $60 which was $10 off because I signed up with a friend. The rep, Laura, said more information would be on the way.

A few days later I get a bright and sunny email with pre-party instructions and it was at that point I realized why I should have probably said “no way, Jose” instead of “sure, why not“. But at this point I am $60 in and I figure it can’t be all that bad. So, I printed my list and went off to Target of all places. I was tired and wasn’t thinking. I spent $150 on meats and vegetables and ziplock bags and then came home to prep this stuff. I spent the afternoon cussing and cutting my chicken, pork, beef, shrimp and sausage. I diced 7 onions. I packed ziplocks with all the right meats and vegetables in numbered bags and then I packed it all in a cooler and waited for my friend to pick me up in her truck so we had room for all the coolers coming. There were 3 of us carpooling that day.

These are just some of the additional items you will need to buy:

grocery items for wildtree freezer meal workshop

We got to our Wildtree reps house and had a small area assigned to each of us about the size of a table placemat. It was a CUTE house but the work space for 9 people was small and I was exhausted from shopping and prepping all this food all day so I was probably a little more crabby than usual. Suzanne from Crunchy Green Mom suggested if you were to host one you should plan for people to have enough room for each person to have their cooler behind them. We did all have fun measuring out the spices from the bundle of Wildtree products we spent the $60 on and chatting.

Wildtree Kidtastic Freezer Meal Workshop product bundle

We added a few other “shared ingredients” like limes, water, salt, and pepper. I forgot all my measuring spoons and extra freezer bags to double bag. You put the label on the inner bag and then put another bag on top to protect it from spilling at any point. Smart. Thankfully the host had extra. I can’t believe I forgot them as I had them all set out. Oh well!  Laura from Housewife Hellraiser also thought it would be a good idea to have a sink full of hot sudsy water  for washing out our measuring cups and spoons. Both ideas I will be sure to take into account when I host my party (more on that later).

After assembling all the bags we repacked our coolers, had a chance to purchase extra products or book a party of our own. We were there about 2 hours total. The host/rep gave us the finished recipes at this point and a cheat sheet to make cooking them easier. I was really dismayed to find out that several of the dishes need things like sour cream or cream cheese added when it is time to cook which smashed the whole dream that I was just going to pull these out of the freezer and save us from the pizza delivery man. I mean, really, at this point I am wondering what the heck I am doing here.

Let’s do some math. I spent $60 on the Wildtree products, $150 on my first trip to the store for meats and vegetables and then the next day spent $30 on the additional items I needed to actually cook these meals. I am $240 in on 10 meals. And I have spent 2.5 hours prepping in my kitchen and cleaning it up, 4 hours total hauling my ice chest of meat to someone else’s house to mix up the bags and about 2 hours total shopping. So, $240 and 8.5 hours for  10 bags like this:

wildtree freezer meal workshop bag

When I got home I was shaking my head as to why I did this but as a few days have passed we have had a few of the meals and my family has loved them. And I have loved being able to open up the bag and make dinner in 10 mins.Sort of like child birth, I have forgotten the pain it took to get to this point.  Many of them are crockpot or simple grilling menus. $24 a meal is less than half the cost of me ordering out and it is healthier as well. I totally could have saved money on the meats if I had put some effort into it. I talked with several friends about this and how the whole process could be simplified and here are some tips in case you get invited to one of these parties and are questioning HOW this makes sense. LOL. Believe it or not, I actually agreed to host one at my house after all this because it really did end up being worth it. But I definitely have some changes to make going forward…

My Advice for Preparing for a Wildtree Freezer Meal Workshop

1. Be better prepared. Ask your host/rep to provide you with the shopping list for the products you need for both preparing the bags and cooking the meals.

2. Use technology! I should have downloaded the pdf to my phone instead of printing it, especially since the wind caught it and blew it across the parking lot. I, also, should have just put the list into my Cozi shopping app so that I had everything at my electronic fingertips. That would have been super helpful for the next time I make these meals on my own. You will leave your party with enough Wildtree products to make some of these meals again. I could have used an app like Grocery Pal to help me see who had meat on sale in my area instead of randomly walking into Target. For as much as I rely on my Note 3 to be my personal assistant I sure left it out on this plan.

3. Consider a grocery delivery service. I have been using Walmart To Go for a few months now and I absolutely love it. The site is super easy to use, they have been on time and bring the grocery bags right to my counter, often times substituting anything they are out of with much larger sizes. Bonus! This alone would saved me 2 hours and a lot of energy. It would have been so easy to click through my list and have it all dropped off for me. I should have happily paid the $7 delivery charge.

4. Buy the meat already cut up. If you can’t find stew meat, your butcher will likely cut it for you. Just ring the little bell and ask. I was able to find the chicken cut in both cubes and tenders. Big time saver.

5. Use your Cuisinart or other food processor. Nothing is worse than dicing 7 onions. You can also buy a bag of onions already cut up but you need a lot and it will add to your bill. Also, some need to be sliced and some diced so make sure you read the directions carefully.

6.Don’t bring your meat!!  It would have been much easier to show up at the party with empty bags, add my spices and such and then go home and  add the meat the next morning. So much easier than dragging a cooler full of meat just to drag it back home. You can’t bring your meat and prepare it in the bags to someone else’s house. It’s not sanitary and the party doesn’t have a food handling licence or whatever it is they need. You are going to a person’s home, not a commercial kitchen so you have to do the raw meat at your house anyway. Do it after instead of before. This was also the biggest advice from Chrissy at Clumsy Gourmet.

7. Use technology again! If you didn’t do step 1 & 2 you still have fresh items to buy in order to be able to serve these meals. Snap a picture of the cheat sheet so you have it with you the next time you are at the store.

I have been having a rough couple of weeks health wise and it is so nice to have dinner ready tonight. I just pulled out the defrosted bag and emptied it into the crockpot to make Slow Cooker Chicken Chili. The Wildtree recipe below will give you a look at how this all comes together.

slow cooker chicken chili

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili (#3)
1-1½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
15 oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
15 oz can white beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp Wildtree Adobo Seasoning Blend
1 bag Wildtree Creamy Ranch Dressing and Dip Mix
4 oz can diced green chilies (optional)
1 Tbsp hot sauce (optional)

At Cooking Time:
8 oz package cream cheese, cubed cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Mix all ingredients into freezer bag. Remove air, seal & attach label. Double bag and freeze. Thaw bag in fridge. Place contents of bag in slow cooker. Cook covered on low 6-8 hours or on high 4 hours. Shred chicken by pulling apart with two forks & add cream cheese. Combine with cream cheese in slow cooker. Cook an additional 30 minutes on high. Stir to combine. Top with cilantro, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips, rice (serve chili on top), or corn bread.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart to Go First program, I’ve received a personal invite and payment for my time and efforts in creating this post. The Willdtree Freezer Meal Workshop was in no way compensated. Any mention of my technology products are likely a result of my relationship as a Verizon Influencer with #VZWBuzz. 

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