Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Best Spray Painting Tips & Tricks

Hey everyone!!! Sorry for the radio silence around here on Monday. I know I said I'd give you warning when I was going to be out, but truthfully, the weekend got away from me and I opted to just the take day off instead of stressing myself out to get a post up. My next DIY frame project is taking more time than I expected (shocking, right?!?)...BUT...it is almost done so hopefully, I can show you NEXT Monday!

Today, I wanted to check in with a post I've been wanting to write for a while. I finally got my pictures together...so let's chat about one of my favorite DIY activities: spray painting!

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Over the last 3 years, I have spray painted A LOT of things for our home. I hadn't really used spray paint a lot before I got into DIYing; but now, it's my go-to method for breathing new life into something old. Here are just a few of my favorite projects, done (almost) entirely with spray paint!

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You can see more of my spray paint projects here!

I've found that more than any other painting method, spray painting is quick, easy, relatively inexpensive (depending on what you're painting), and really gives superior finish, sheen and durability. However, it can also be messy, hard to control, and can leave you with less-than-desirable results if you've never done it before or have had little practice. Over the years, I've experimented with a variety of spray paints, techniques, and setups. I have pretty much fine-tuned my process for spray painting; a process that gives me great results every time with little-to-no mess. I want to share my tips and tricks with you today!
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First, let's chat paint choices! I haven't tried everything out there, but I have tried most of what is available at your typical hardware store...and these are my go-to products!

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Favorite Primer. Zinsser 123 spray primer comes out strong and fast. It covers SO well, and it dries super fast so you can get onto the next step rather quickly. I should buy stock in this stuff because I use it for almost every single project I do!

Favorite White Spray Paint. Rust-oleum's basic White Protective Gloss Enamel is my favorite white, which I use more than any other color. It doesn't lean blue-ish or grey-ish or yellow-ish, but it has a nice creamy white result. This spray's coverage is awesome, and the finish is super strong even without a top coat.

Favorite Clear Coat. If the item I am painting is going to get a lot of up-close-and-personal use, I will always give it 1-2 coats of this clear gloss spray. I find this clear coat combined with ample cure time really produces excellent durability!

Favorite Brand. I use to be dedicated to Rust-oleum spray paints, but over the years, I have found myself reaching for Valspar more frequently. While I still hate their spray button (can't it just be like a normal spray paint nozzle?!?!), I love their color selections...and the coverage with this stuff is so smooth and even. I like that the spray actually comes out a bit slower than other sprays, so drips are less likely. I also feel like these cans contain so much paint. Even when it feels almost empty, I get quite a bit more out!

Favorite Gold. A bit of disclaimer here because I have not tried every single gold spray paint out there, but this one...I really do love. You have to be careful with Krylon because their cans/labels look so similar to each other but the paint color can be wildly different. This Metallic Gold Foil leaves my items looking like shiny gold/brass with amazing sheen!

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I am sure there are a million ways to successfully spray paint, but here what I do that gives me great results every single time!

Before I start spray painting, I turn my cans upside-down for a little while. I'm not sure this does much, but I like to think it helps pull some of the paint off the bottom of the can. When I'm ready to paint, I shake the can(s) for at least a minute, also upside-down. My son LOVES to help me shake up the paint, and we quite frequently dance to Taylor's Shake It Off while shaking up our spray cans!m It's become a thing. #truestory

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I feel like I have tried every method out there for mess-free spray painting (probably not, but I've tried a lot!). We don't have the luxury of a dedicated spray space inside a workshop or garage (oh, how I wish we did!), so in lieu of that, this is what I use...

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Yep! My go-to spray painting system is a 2x4' sheet of 3/4" thick plywood...on a bucket...in the grass. Always spray paint over grass. Grass grows and gets cut...cement is a PAIN to clean and blankets and tarps fly up in the wind and get in your paint! Once you're done laughing at my primitive setup, read on to find out why this one is a winner! ;)

First, almost nothing sticks to wood. I've spray painted on foam core, cardboard, newspaper, tarps and more, but when the paint dries and I go to lift off my object, shreds of the surface come with my project. Even when I can't use my big board like this (which typically only works for smaller or single projects), I lay my item-to-be-painted onto scrap wood. 

Second, having the wood board up off the grass helps keep bugs and dust from getting in my fresh paint, and more so, allows me to paint my object from all angles. Ideally, my board would be a bit higher, but this trash can is what we had, and it gets my projects high enough to be able to paint from below.

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Third, this system allows me to rotate my paint surface very easily. Why rotate your paint surface? Because when you spray paint into the wind, you end up with paint in your nozzle and all over your hands, and you waste a ton of paint. I am constantly paying attention to how the wind is blowing and rotate my project so that I am always spraying in the same direction as the wind.

Fourth, painting on a wood sheet like this allows me to paint my project out in the grass and then move it as I need to. Whether it's the end of the day, rain is coming in, or it's especially buggy out, I can pick up my entire project and move it to a dust-free, clean spot to dry without having to touch any of my freshly painted objects!

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I paint a lot of frames - picture frames, mirror frames, bulletin board frames etc. I honestly think I've spray painted almost every frame in our house! I like to place objects with long flat edges onto small pieces of scrap wood (on top of my large sheet of wood). This not only allows me to easily paint the edges, but then I can pick up the frames and move them to a safe area to dry without having to touch the newly painted surfaces. I just slip my hands underneath the frame's edge and only touch the dry areas underneath! I can then place wet frames onto vases, cans of paint, or pots to dry...giving me space on my main board to paint more frames!

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Now that you know what paints I like and how I set up, here is quick glance at exactly what I do when I spray paint an item:
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I also wanted to include a few of my quick tips for spray painting in the cold. Most cans say they should only be used in 60-70 degree weather...and for optimal results, this is true. But I'm too impatient to wait for warmer weather these days, so I have come up with a system that allows me to spray paint in colder temperatures...down to about 35ish.
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All that said, keep in mind that the temperature not only effects how the paint comes out of the can (clogs are more common in colder temps), but it also effects the smoothness of the paint as it sets/cures. I found colder temps sometimes results in a scaly/bubbly finish. If there is something that I really must have a super smooth, beautiful, clean, superior finish on, I wait until it's at least 50 degrees outside to paint.

One thing that I recommend more than anything else is practice! Spray painting can be intimidating and messy, but with practice, you too can become a pro at breathing quick, easy and vibrant new life into your old and tired possessions with just a can of paint!

So tell me...do you like to spray paint? Do you have a tip or trick that you swear by? While I feel like I've perfected my system, I am always open to trying new things and I'd love to hear what works for you!

Hope you all are having a great week! See you back here Friday for my monthly project round-up :) See you then!

Megan




Friday, February 20, 2015

DIY Canvas Frame

You guys! I made a frame! A from-scratch, extra-large, perfectly fitting wooden frame. I realize in the blog/DIY world of incredible homemade furniture and construction projects, this is not all that impressive. But for this construction novice (that term is probably even a bit generous), this is a pretty big deal!

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Let's rewind about 7 months or so when I found this fantastic over-sized art at our local (and horribly under-stocked) Marshalls. After hunting for a piece of large-scale art with all of our room colors for years, I was so stoked to come across this one for a mere $70.

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I loved the painting, but I always felt like it looked a bit random within a room of all framed art/photos. And since I had it all alone on a big wall, I often thought it needed a bit more oomph. In recent months, I came across a few different DIY frame tutorials and the seed was planted deep in my Projects To Try Someday List.

For a while, I figured the project was too hard. In recent weeks, I read the blog posts a little closer and realized this was well within my skill set. I gave it a whirl, and after quite a bit of trial and error (hence my bad DIY weekend last weekend!), I successfully made a frame! Woo hoo!

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This frame has what (I think) is called a float mount - there is a 1/2" "golden" inlay between the canvas and the outside frame. The white frame is the exact depth of my canvas, and seeing those two line up makes my heart sing! It looks so finished and classy now - swoon!

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This canvas measure at an exact 36" square - a custom frame would have cost FAR more than what I paid for the art and honestly wouldn't have been worth it. This frame cost me about $20!

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I'm not going to give an exact tutorial, because I pretty much followed THIS tutorial over on A Beautiful Mess. But I will give a quick run-down of what I did and what I learned along the way!

For my frame, I used four 48" 1x2s of good quality pine and 13' of 1/2" x 3/4" rectangular trim. I originally was going to use 1/2" square dowels, but they only come in 36" lengths. For the mitered corners, I needed about 38" in each direction, so I bought 10' lengths of trim and cut it down!

I started by painting my 1x2s white and spraying my smaller trim with gold spray paint.
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Next, I used Gorilla Wood Glue (LOVE this stuff!) to secure the gold trim to each of the four white 1x2s, using clamps to secure everything while the glue dried. Be sure to wipe off any excess glue that drips out before it dries!

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I then used a miter box and saw and manually cut down each side (the white and gold lengths glued together) at 45 degree angles. I cut each side a bit longer than needed (about 36.5"). I then fit each length around my canvas and went back and trimmed each side down (again) until I had a perfect and snug fit around the art. #yesmyarmwassoooooooore! 

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Note - I do recommend cutting extra long and then fitting the sides to the canvas. I did a trial run on a smaller canvas using measurements to guide my cutting. Each time, my cuts ended up too small, no matter how precise I measured, and the canvas wouldn't fit. Starting long and shortening as I went was a safer way to go!

With each of the sides perfectly trimmed down to hug the canvas, I put more Gorilla Wood Glue at each corner junction and then secured the entire frame with a band clamp (not shown). My husband was very skeptical that the glue would be enough to hold this frame together (I even bought flat and L-brackets to use on the back if necessary!). This glue is SOOO strong you guys...even with applying a decent amount of force, this frame is not coming apart!

The only real place I deviated from A Beautiful Mess's tutorial was securing the canvas. Instead of nailing from the outside in (where the nails would show), we flipped the entire frame and canvas over and nailed into the sides of the canvas through to the frame. Just be sure to sink the nails into spots where the gold trim is, or else the nails will show from the front!

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And that was it! We hung the canvas right back onto the nails it was hung on before! 

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I love the clean, polished look this frame gives the artwork. It really helps make our cheap art look more expensive and finished. I love that I not only DIY'd an awesome frame for this large-scale piece, but I also learned a new skill along the way. DIYing is so empowering and good for the self -confidence!

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If you can believe it, this frame was actually a trial run for some different artwork I am making custom frames for. While this frame was large, the art was cheap, so if I messed up or it didn't work, it wasn't a huge deal. The four frames I am working on now are for priceless art. I cannot wait to show you - now that I've got my process figured out, I think this will be a much more successful DIY weekend! Fingers crossed I can show you on Monday!

Have a great weekend friends! See you next week!
Megan

This is not a sponsored post, but Gorilla Glue did provide me with a variety of products to try at my leisure, including the wood glue featured in this tutorial. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My No-Spend Lent - Round 2!

Today is Ash Wednesday (how is that possible? I swear it was just Christmas!). For us Catholics (and other faiths, I'm sure), today marks the start of Lent and the beginning of a 40-days abstinence from something. As a kid and even for much of my adulthood, I gave up chocolate. Every.single.Lent. It was always something I should/needed to do because my chocolate dependence was (and still is!) quite high. But as the years ticked on, giving up chocolate felt expected, easy, and more about my waistline than prayerful sacrifice or an opportunity to re-focus on something positive. 

Last year, my family and I were in the throws of mourning my Mom and cleaning out my childhood home when Ash Wednesday rolled around. I originally wasn't going to give up anything at the time because honestly, grieving my Mom felt like sacrifice enough. However, the sheer amount of "stuff" in my parents house was alarming and overwhelming....and really shook me to the core. Mostly because while I cursed the amount we had to sort through and deal with, I also (fearfully) saw the same shopping/hoarding habits in myself. When I was literally knee-deep in old and forgotten possessions, I instantly knew I needed a very serious break from shopping and to take time to reflect on how I was spending money, what I was bringing into our home, and mostly, how "stuff" was becoming too much of a focus for me. I committed to no-shopping for 40 days. It was hard and humbling, and I learned SO much. 

You can read more about how last year went here:


Well, friends. Another year has gone by; and unfortunately, as my blog and ambitions have grown, my old shopping/spending habits have slowly but surely returned. Yet again, I have found myself on the never-ending mental and emotional teeter-totter of "We have too much stuff!/It must all go now!/Purge, purge, purge!" ... "I want this!/I need this!/Can I get this?/Let's go shopping!"

It's exhausting and embarrassing and frustrating, and being on the cusp of another move is not helping the situation. I am sure this conundrum happens to a lot of us. I'm not beating myself up about it, I just know what I need to do this Lent...again:
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Yep - I am committing to another 40 days of no leisurely spending. Obviously, groceries and gas and school tuition and bills don't count, but anything that falls into the "want" category versus the "need" category is getting put on hold. The occasional magazine, the random craft supplies, and mostly: fabric and home decor items. Those little things here and there that I just pick up and grab because I love them and I have the cash in my pocket. Those things that are cluttering my home and my mind all because "I just can't resist!" It's time for a gentle reminder that "Yes, I can resist, and I need to." Thank you, Lent. (The only other exception I am giving myself is anything I need to buy for my paid projects. Even those, however, I am going to try really hard to keep at a bare minimum.) 

Last year, this whole experience was hard and (at times) frustrating, but oh-so-important. It opened my eyes to how much time and money I was wasting bringing things into my home that are not important. The experience really enhanced my creativity and helped me re-center on how my time and money should really be spent.

So...with ashes on my forehead, I'm off and running. I don't really want to do this, but that's a very clear sign that I need to. I'll check in at the end of Lent and let you know how it goes!

Do you give up anything for Lent? Have you ever put yourself on a shopping hold? I'd love to hear what you're giving up...and/or how you get your spending and shopping in check!

See you on Friday with that living room update I've been promising. 
Megan




Monday, February 16, 2015

Smart & Stylish Solutions in a Builder Basic Bathroom - Master Bathroom Final Reveal

Happy Presidents' Day, friends! I hope you all had a great weekend and are able to squeak in one more day of relaxing and family/friend time today if you have it off! I had the kind of weekend that frustrates a DIYer...nothing seemed to work out right, I made several trips to the hardware store and still ended up with wrong materials, and was far less productive than I was hoping. Most times, creating and decorating brings me so much fulfillment and joy, but this was one of those weekends I had to step away because I was getting far more angry and frustrated than necessary. If you find yourself feeling defeated with projects gone awry, don't feel alone - it happens to all of us! I find stepping away keeps me from loosing my marbles and wasting my materials. Fingers crossed I can pull myself together and show you what I've got up my sleeve here soon!

In the meantime, I wanted to knock off another final "reveal" in this house because friends, time is ticking down before we deconstruct this home and move on to the next (details to come soon :) I feel a little ridiculous even calling this post a "reveal" because the teeny tiny en suite bathroom is this house is one of the worst we've ever had. Small, awkward, poorly lit, and about as builder basic as it gets. I really had a challenge giving this bathroom any style, and faced an even bigger hurdle trying to photograph it. 

Still, this is our real life bathroom...and I like to keep it real around here...AND I am sure I am not the only one out there struggling to make a bad bathroom function and look smart. After almost three years of little tweaks here and there, I did ultimately land on some simple and stylish solutions for this batty bathroom that help me hate it a little less ;)

Here's the bathroom on the day we moved in. It's tucked into the very back corner of our small master bedroom. It has a super awkward, skinny layout with s double sink/vanity in one section, and the toilet and shower behind a second door (talk about crowded!).

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One of the very first things we did when we moved in was remove the door between the sinks and toilet/shower sections of the bathroom. While the door does add privacy, it felt so crowded and cumbersome. Removing the door was a simple and reversible fix; it is stored safely up in the attic, and we'll put back before moving out. If you're a renter/military family and a room's layout or flow just isn't working for you, consider removing doors - it's one of my favorite tricks for changing the whole feel of a space!

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We love having a double vanity, but the two sinks left us with practically no counter space. After months of our toiletries crowding and cluttering the counters, making getting ready AND keeping the area clean a complete headache, I decided to make use of the wall space along the sides of the counter. I installed the somewhat pricey but so-worth-the-money Fintorp Series from IKEA on each end of the counter. These bins are spacious, sturdy, easy to install, and easy to take down as needed. They have been so wonderful for corralling all of our supplies and keeping the counter free of clutter. I love that they have removable grid bottoms, making for super easy cleaning!

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Trays always help random items look intentional and like a set so I utilized a small skinny tray from Target to hold our mouthwash, soap dispenser, and a small vase. And I said I like to keep things real, right? So yea, I don't keep roses in our bathroom...this little cup usually holds my little flossers (which aren't nearly as photogenic ;)

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Under our sinks is the typical builder-basic vanity with large open cabinets, no drawers, and lots of pipes. For a good long time, each cabinet was a black hole of hygiene products and cleaning supplies all jumbled together. It took me a little while (almost 2 years!) to figure out that simple and stackable acrylic bins were great for sorting and storing lotion and potions and more! You can read about how I gave these bins a pretty makeover here!

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I did share in my recent "Organization Hits and Misses" post that accessing the bottom bins was quite a hassle. Just a few weeks ago, I remedied this by putting an expandable shelf between the top and bottom rows of bins. Now each tray pulls out like a drawer!

The back section of the bathroom is SO incredibly tight I couldn't get any decent pictures even with my wide-angle lens. Above the toilet, I have a floating shelf (just like here) that holds extra towels. From the door however, I was able to get a shot of our "shower curtains" which are actually one of my favorite things in our entire house. I found this awesome Dwell Studio Vintage Blossom Slub Dove fabric for $5/yard at our local Hancocks (and did a MAJOR happy dance when I did!) and made the yardage into two 95" long, grommet-topped curtain panels. We raised our tension rod high enough so that the curtains wouldn't touch the floor, and I use a plastic shower curtain liner so that they stay nice and dry and clean. Hopefully we can use these panels as real curtains down the road. These extra-high luxe curtain panels are absolutely the one element that transformed this ho-hum bathroom into a place I really don't mind getting ready in each day. Each and every day, I still walk in and LOVE those curtains (and that's saying something since I often change my mind so quickly!)

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Again, I realize these aren't super glamourous "after" shots of the most beautiful bathroom in the world. But if you're stuck with a not-so-ideal bathroom like we are, hopefully I've given you a few ideas for making the most of the space you do have. With just a few simple solutions (smart and compact storage and gorgeous textiles), your bathroom can be a beautiful and functional place to pamper yourself!

If you're new around here, check out the rest of the Master "suite" here!

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And if you need more small bathroom storage and decor ideas, check out our guest bathroom reveal here!

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I hope you're week is off to a great start. Later this week, I'm chatting about what I'm doing (again) this year for Lent, and hope to have that (driving me crazy) living room project ready for you. Fingers crossed!

See you soon,
Megan

Friday, February 13, 2015

Organize This: Recipes (and how I meal plan now!)

In recent weeks, I've found myself tightening up little areas of our home. I'm not sure if it's a case of "We're moving soon so I need to finish everything," or just that with me nothing is ever finished. Either way - I am LOVING knocking out some of these smaller projects that have been nagging at  the back of my brain for a while. Whether it's an area that I hadn't gotten to yet (our bakeware!) or a system that needed tweaking based on the changing needs of our family (our family command center!), it's been fun for me to get back to some smaller nitty-gritty organization projects. Organizing and finding just the right solution for our family right now is one of the tasks that makes me happiest.

My latest project: freshening our recipes and meal planning system!

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For those of you who have been around here a long, long time, you may recall that I developed a pretty "sophisticated" meal planning system...just about four years ago now (what what?). It was one of my first big projects here on THIHM, my first project to go "viral," and still my most viewed post(s) to date. You can read all about my Magnetic Menu Board here

Back when I developed that system, I ultimately decided to sort and organize my recipes based on main protein source. From this simple concept, the whole color-coded meal planning system was born and REALLY worked wonderfully. For the almost four years since I developed our menu board, I have used it quite faithfully and sold many Magnetic Menu Board templates in my Etsy Shop so others can easily make their own! 

I still love this system, and if you are a busy bee and need a way to streamline meal planning/shopping/preparation, I highly recommend you check it out.

However, things change, right? Schedules and priorities change. How we use our time and what we need organized and streamlined shift around. Over the last year (especially while my husband was deployed), I found myself not needing or wanting to plan an entire month's worth of meals at one time. It was starting to feel cumbersome and unnecessary (especially since I was mostly cooking for myself! #mythreeyearoldwonteatanything) Instead, I was planning out one week's worth of meals in my planner. 

Even though I wasn't using the magnets or the magnetic calendar anymore, I was still using and LOVING my color-coded recipe books. The only downside to no longer using the magnets (that had all the recipe names printed on them) was that I had to leaf through all my different recipe books to plan out a single week. It wasn't a huge deal, but in recent weeks, I found myself wishing I had a "key" of sorts that listed all my recipes so I could pick meals and plan the week much easier. This was just the itch I needed to give my recipe books (that were still holding strong) a bit of a refresh and refine my whole system at the same time!

Ready to see?

Since I was giving my recipe books a refresh, I picked out a new color scheme too. I started by printing out a new set of Recipe Book Spines onto photo paper (so that they are nice and glossy!), and my new Recipe Catalog onto heavy-weight cardstock.

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I trimmed down the printed recipe book spines and then secured them to the spines of my recipe books using clear packing tape, just like I did four years ago. #ifitsnotbrokedontfixit

I know I will get questions about my recipe books, so let me answer it here! I bought/hoarded a bunch of these clear-paged books while we lived in Okinawa, Japan (at their version of the dollar store). Unfortunately, I haven't come across anything here in the US that looks or functions exactly the same. However, you can mimic the function of these books by filling binders with clear page protectors!

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With pretty new spines on all my books, it was time to do the nitty gritty work. I haven't sorted, purged or reorganized my recipes in the four years since I first did this project (whoops). There were new favorite recipes that needed to be added (either from online or from cookbooks), and old/un-used recipes that could be tossed. I also acquired a bunch of my Mom's handwritten recipe cards when we cleaned out my folks' home, so those were also added in. I trimmed recipes down and secured smaller recipe cards to copy paper using clear tape before sliding them into the pocket pages.

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With my recipes now updated and sorted, I filled out my Recipe Catalog (with pencil!), making sure that the recipes in the books corresponded with the recipes on my sheet!

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I LOVE that I now have visibility of all my recipes on a single (double-sided!) sheet of paper. Each Sunday, I sit down with my planner and fill in dinners across the week using my recipe catalog. Like before, I try to use a recipe from each column (to vary the protein source across the week),; I also try to make different recipes from week to week to avoid fixing the same things over and over again.

By the way, I am using this planner this year!

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With my weekly meals planned, I then populate my Grocery List with all the necessary ingredients. My recipe books are close by (and color-coded) to help me find recipes/necessary ingredients quickly and easily!

I print about 10 or so of these grocery lists out a time. I keep them clipped up on the refrigerator, so we can add items to the list all week long! When it's time to head to the store, I grab the list and go!

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And that's it! My refined meal planning system that I've been using of late. There's nothing too complicated here, but in just a few hours of my time (after the kiddo was in bed), my system feels fresh, up-to-date and ready to rock for at least another four years ;) For where we are in life right now, I am loving this simple and fuss-free approach to recipe organization, meal planning, and grocery list making. 

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And want to know something really fun? If you want/need to get your recipes in order, I've done all the hard work for you. All my templates are now available in my Etsy Shop!

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I've combined my Recipe Book Spines, Recipe Catalog (double sided), and Grocery List printables into a neat little pack that is available for instant download HERE! I have the kit (as well as my original menu board kits) available in 6 new color schemes!

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If my Magnetic Menu Board system was a bit too much for you but you are still looking for a good way to meal plan and prepare for your grocery shopping, I urge you to give this system a try. It's easy to use and maintain (and pretty to look at!), so it's a win, win, win!

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What do you guys think? How do you organize your recipes? I'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions as I am always looking for new things to try!

I hope you all have a fantastic long weekend. Despite the cold, I have a few projects up my sleeve. Fingers crossed I've got some upates in the family room to show you next week!

Have a good one, friends!
Megan

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