recipe round-up | August

recipe round up Aug

I think going back to school is an even crazier time of year than Christmas in our house! We’re trying to squeeze in the last days of summer fun but also trying to get the kids ready for school and back into a routine. aaaahhhhgh! And back to routine for me means back to cooking dinners. aaaahhhhgh! I did cook a little bit this summer but honestly, not a lot. Grilling and eating out was big for us. So I gathered up some good crock pot recipes to make my life – and hopefully yours – a bit easier. They’re all easy dinners that are also yummy. Click on the links below for the full recipes and try them yourself. I’d love to hear your feedback.

slow-cooker-beef-broccoli-4-680x1020

Slow Cooker Broccoli Beef from Creme de la Crumb – perfect as is and a lot healthier than the take-out option!

oh-hoppin-john-x

Hoppin’ John from Oxmoor House – this makes a great side dish, which I’m always looking for. I used long grain rice (not instant) versus the converted and it worked great.

oh-spicy-chicken-stew-x

Spicy Chicken Stew also from Oxmoor House – loved this!! And it’s not very spicy, I used mild salsa and not a lot of chili powder or cumin.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from Good Housekeeping – I had all the ingredients for this one and it’s so easy and yummy. My kids love this one and makes great leftovers!

Good luck getting back into the school routine and please share any new easy recipes you have!

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organized blog post categories

tutorials post
I love writing fun tutorial posts on a DIY project, decorations for the home, or sharing a new recipe or fashion find. That’s what started this little blog – my love for creating things without spending too much time or money. But after almost 2 years of blogging, I realized I needed to be better about keeping up with all the other aspects of running a blog. Things like organization. ugh. Not necessarily the fun blogging stuff, but just as important. So I organized my posts into different categories so you can access all of them via the top navigation menu bar on my blog: DIY, home decor, holiday and freebies.

Creating a blog has been such a great venture and learning experience. If you’re not familiar with the blog world, there are several ways to create one. Without going into too many boring details, you can have a company build and manage one for you where you write your posts and tell your story, or you can build and design and manage a blog on your own doing all the back end technical stuff and editing things on the fly. The second way gives you much more control but it is way more challenging. Anyone who knows me knows that I chose the latter. I like a challenge. And control.

But I’m a graphic designer. I use a Mac to design logos, pretty brochures, ads, web graphics and company marketing materials. I know nothing about HTML, writing code, or the behind the scenes workings of programs and computers. Like, actually nothing. So before I started this little blog, I took an online class through a blog called Jones Design Company and I was hooked. And learned a ton. I got the basics down and maybe a few extras. But I needed my blog to be more organized, interactive and useful. More technical challenges. And more figuring things out. So here it is. A little more organization so you can access projects and ideas to help you create your own versions. There’s even a page dedicated to all the freebies I’ve given away! I still have a lot more to do – and learn – but I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I figure something out on my own. And honestly, I hope to inspire you all to feel the same way. Try a new DIY project, paint a different color on your walls, or cook something new for dinner.

Here’s each link to go directly to the specific pages. You can also access each category from the top navigation menu bar on my blog:

I hope this is a great resource for you and will encourage you to make your own creations. If you do make something, I would love to see it! Send me a picture on Facebook or attach it with a comment.
Have a great week!

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back to school freebies

lunch box school notes all

We’re at a 2 week countdown here until all three kiddos are back at school and the excitement is just overwhelming. kidding. My youngest is in 5th grade and she’s still ok with me putting a little note in her lunchbox. In fact she loves it. My older boys, no way. sigh. So I made some little lunch box note cards for those days you just want to give them a little extra love. I also made a few larger note cards that are perfect for communicating with teachers or nurses. I always seem to need these and can never find a decent piece of paper as we’re heading out the door.

So today I thought I’d share these little lunch box cards and school note cards that I made.

lunch box notes detail 1

school note detail 2

If you want them just click on the following links and download them for free. You can print onto card stock or regular paper.

lunch box notes all

lunch box notes

school notes all

school note cards

This is just one more step in getting ready for going back to school – enjoy!

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DIY cut paper initial art

cut paper initial_final

I’ve been really into changing up the art on our walls lately. Maybe I’m getting tired of looking at the same old stuff? Last month I did my crazy monogrammed wall of all G’s. This was a fun way to fill a small section of wall off of our kitchen. Check out my post on this initial wall grouping here. I needed some more artwork for that wall and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. So I used what I had for supplies and created a fun piece of art that I wanted to share with you. This project is super easy and you’ll only need some different colored paper and a few craft supplies you probably have already. This also makes a great summer craft project to do with the kids!

I’m a graphic designer so I love typography and fonts. I’ve used initials and symbols, like an ampersand, in random places throughout my home and when decorating other people’s homes. And typography and initials are super hot right now so this is an easy way to personalize your walls and be on trend!

cut paper initial_papers

For this project you’ll need the following materials:

  • old paper in different colors and patterns – scrapbook papers work great for this
  • final paper that will be used as the background
  • scissors or an X-acto knife
  • ruler
  • glue stick
  • decoupage glue
  • computer for printing out your letter

Here are the steps:

cut paper initial_triangles

1. Cut the scrapbook paper into even triangles. I did this by cutting 1″ squares and then I cut the squares into 4 triangles {like an X}. I used a total of 48 triangles in 6 different colors/patterns. Your amount might be a little different depending on the size and thickness of your letter.

cut paper initial_tracing

2. Print out your initial from your computer in the size you want and as an outline. Turn the paper over and trace the outline of the initial onto the back. This will serve as a guide when you cut the letter out at the end.

cut paper initial_glueing

3. Flip the paper over so the initial is reading the correct way. With your glue stick, attach the triangles so that they fill the initial shape. I recommend glueing the triangles so that they go outside the lines too. You don’t have to be too precise because you’ll be trimming the initial at the end.

cut paper initial_decoupage

4. When all the areas of your initial are filled with the paper triangles, paint a coat of the decoupage glue over the entire initial to seal the paper pieces.

cut paper initial_trimming

5. When the glue is dry, turn the paper over to the back side and trim the initial out along the lines you traced on the back.

cut paper initial_finished

6. There are several options of what you could do with your cut paper initial. I glued my “G” onto a piece of ivory paper and framed it. You could also glue it onto a thick piece of paper, punch a hole in it and hang it like an ornament… or tape it on the wall with washi tape.

initial wall_finished end

Your new art would look great in any room but if you’re feeling like making a statement, group it with other initials and make an entire monogrammed wall. Have fun with it and enjoy!

when art speaks to you and a DIY

swim art final

Have you ever been shopping and seen something that just “speaks to you”? I think Pier 1 Imports did a whole marketing plan around this concept where their items actually talked to the buyers. I was in HomeGoods the other day {shocker} and I saw a sweet framed picture with a polka dot background and just the word swim on it in a whimsical handwritten font. I loved it.

swim art original

It was kitchy and sweet and strong all at the same time. I don’t think it actually talked to me but for some strange reason it really hit a chord. I’m not sure exactly why. I like to swim but I’m not a particularly strong swimmer. I’ve had a pool almost my whole life so swimming is a big family activity and my kids swim 24/7. But that can’t just be it. I do love the beach but I only swim when I’m really hot or the water is really warm. Seeing this sweet artwork had a bigger meaning than just time spent at the beach. Then it clicked. “Swim” to me means being strong, surviving and moving on. ok, so maybe I was a feeling a little sentimental that day but I really did love that art. And it also reminded me of Dori’s cute comment in the movie Nemo, “just keep swimming…” So when I saw that singular word, framed and looking so pretty with such a strong message, I knew I had to have it.

The only problem was that I didn’t love the color – the blue was way too purple. But I knew I could create my own version. Here are the instructions if you want to make your own art with a word that has special meaning to you. This is a great way to add thoughtful and meaningful art to your walls.

Materials:

  • frame {I used an old frame and updated it with spray paint}
  • wrapping paper
  • contrasting color paper for type
  • Super Adhesive 77 spray mount
  • decoupage glue
  • scissors & X-acto knife

Instructions:

swim art frame color

1. Find a frame that works for your space. I had a old 20 x 16″ frame that I wasn’t using. It was brown wood and I wanted it white, so I removed the glass and spray painted the wood with a semi-gloss white. I let it dry and now it’s a new frame ready for some new art!

swim art background

2. Cut a piece of wrapping paper a little larger than your frame size. Using the Super Adhesive glue, adhere the paper to the cardboard insert of the frame or the actual backing of the frame. Trim it down if needed and smooth out any bubbles in the paper.

swim font samples

3. Using a computer, find a font you like and print out your word of choice. I decided on a font called Isabella and printed “swim” out in outline format to save ink. Since the final word is larger than what my printer can handle, I just printed the word out in sections and taped it together.

swim art template

4. Next, I used 2 pieces of scrapbook paper I bought at Michael’s and taped them together so they were long enough. They I taped my printout on top of the paper.

swim art cutting

5.  I cut the type out mostly with scissors and I used the X-acto knife in the smaller areas. I also purposely cut beyond the lines of my word to leave room in case I made mistakes. I also liked that the word was a little thicker.

swim art type cut

6. When I finished cutting out the type, I attached it to the board with the Super Adhesive spray mount.

swim art decopage

6. Lastly, I applied a generous coat of the decoupage glue on top of the entire art. This both protects the art and the paper and it also gives the piece a nice finished look.

swim art detail

7. Put the art and frame together and hang. Now you have meaningful art that speaks to you. I’m redesigning our kids’ bathroom so this piece will have to wait until the room is done before I can hang it! Check out my bathroom inspiration post here. Maybe this art will help kickstart this project!

swim art final 2

I know the word “swim” and this artwork might not have the same effect on you as it did on me but I’m sure there are other words and artwork that do. Those are the kinds of things I want on my walls. The strong, meaningful ones – and if they’re handmade, even better. I hope you try this project and let me know what words speak to you. Enjoy!

new watercolor art prints

watercolor art prints with lemonade, watermelon and a flamingo

I’ve designed some new art prints and I wanted to share them with you today. Easy peasy way to update your walls – and cheap too!! The 8″ x 10″ downloadable files are only $3.99 each. I know summer is winding down but I want to hold on to it for a bit longer so I painted some iconic summer images to keep the season lingering. Watermelon and lemonade are two of my favorite summer treats. I just had frozen watermelon margaritas at my uncle’s house this past weekend so now I’m an even bigger fan!

lemonade art print hanging with washi tape

I love adding a print to our kitchen chalkboard – a little washi tape is all it takes. And who says Christmas lights can’t be used all year round?

watermelon art print with Mark Twain quote

And the watermelon print works great in our kitchen and I love this quote by Mark Twain.

flamingo art print with life is beautiful

The flamingo print is a fun addition to our daughter’s room.

Click here to go to my Etsy shop where you can purchase any of these art prints, download and print them on your own. Quick, cheap and easy! Or if you prefer a print to be mailed to you, just send me a note or comment at the end of this post or through my Etsy shop and I’d be happy to send one to you at any size you need. Enjoy!

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Bought Beautifully reminder

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Bought Beautifully & a Giveaway

Bought Beautifully giveaway 3

I love doing posts about fun, creative things. Whether it’s home decor or art prints or fashion, I love to create things but I also love to shop for unique things to wear or make or decorate with. like a lot. But when I’m shopping for pretty things I don’t often look at HOW or WHERE these pretty things are made. And more than likely, many of the products found in our homes and our closets were produced in unsafe and substandard working conditions – or even worse – by child labor or slave labor. awful.

A few months ago I came across a company called Bought Beautifully. They’re an online company who sells products that are ethically made. They feature unique and beautifully crafted items which are also reasonably priced! They currently represent 36 different organizations from around the world – all of which follow their mission to inspire interactions that enrich lives, restore hope and empower people. I’ve teamed up with Bought Beautifully to get their message out and to show you the beautiful products they offer. And as a bonus – they’re offering a giveway of 3 of their products to one lucky greco design company reader! You can win a beautiful carved wood frame, a handmade wool headband from Peru, and a fabric collage bookmark that is truly a little piece of art.

Bought Beautifully giveaway

The bookmark and headband are both from Threads of Hope. Threads of Hope began in 1999 as a part­ner­ship between 7 Peru­vian artists and 2 women from the states with the goal to empower peo­ple by break­ing the cycle of poverty. They do this by pro­vid­ing fair, con­sis­tent, and reli­able monthly income for the cre­ators of their prod­ucts. They sell these items in the states, and thanks to their expan­sive vol­un­teer coali­tion, they are able to pour 100% of the profit back into the com­mu­ni­ties through grants aimed at reduc­ing poverty. See more about Threads of Hope here.

The frame is from Rahab’s Rope. The mission of Rahab’s Rope is to give hope and opportunity to women and girls that are at risk or have been forced into the commercial sex trade of India. They provide a safe and loving environment that will enable them to grow and develop both physically and spiritually. They are a very comprehensive organization – they provide education, counseling, support and lots of LOVE!!! Unfortunately, the frame is on longer available on the website but click here to see some of Rahab’s Rope’s other home products.

If you can, check out Bought Beautifully’s full line of products here and learn more about their message. I’ve picked a few other favorite items of theirs below.

Bought Beautifully picks

1. Lattice Chalkboard, $129 // 2. Owl Pillow, $30 // 3. Tuli Yellow Bead Necklace, $30 // 4. Sugar Scrub, $12 // 5. Casserole Basket, $24 // 6. Large Burlap Bag $20 // 7. Aqua Kuni Utensil Set, $18 // 8. Love Print, $4.99

Enter below for the Bought Beautifully Giveaway. Contest ends at midnight on August 21!

Good luck! And next time you go shopping, give a little extra thought to where and how the products we buy are made. We can all make a big difference when we support companies and organizations like Bought Beautifully who work towards helping those in need.

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July wrap-up

July was filled with lot of summer vacation getaways with just a little bit of business mixed in. Just how I like it! In case you missed it, here’s a recap of what was happening at greco design company this past month.

July recap graphic

A recap of my posts for this month:

on the blog art

• shared my DIY rolling wood crate table & bench.

• created a DIY hook rack for my kids’ bathroom to hang all those towels and bathing suits.

• found some yummy recipes for summer grilling.

• showed you my budget laundry room makeover.

• found lots of great ideas for a nautical bathroom makeover – gotta love Pinterest!

• discovered lots of fun things on the www – and shared some of my favorites with you.

• and revealed the best ever red Sangria recipe. yum!

• I’m working on getting my super talented friend to do some contributing on my blog. She has such a great eye for interior design and creates such great projects. I’ve already worked with her on this concrete-topped, rolling cart makeover and hope to feature more of her great work!

In the studio, I worked on some fun design projects:

in the studio

• I’ve been designing lots of wedding ads for Nantucket Island Resorts. Their wedding venues are just breathtaking. Check them out here. I also did a lot of advertising for two of their upscale restaurants – Brant Point Grill and TOPPER’S at The Wauwinet. Both feature highly acclaimed menus and stunning views of Nantucket Harbor and the Bay, respectively.

• I painted some new fun watercolor art that I’ll be adding to my Etsy shop. Look for them soon and they just might show up on a calendar design for next year!

And here are some other places greco design company was featured this month.

featured elsewhere

• My second post as a contributor at Kenarry: Ideas for the Home was on July 6th. I shared my DIY cut paper initial art. Such an easy way to add some personalized art to your walls – or give one as a gift.

• My DIY hook rack project was featured at Bumble Bree BlogMy Paper CrazeAdventures of MelThe Happy Housie, A Place of My Taste, The Turquoise Home and The Blissful Bee.

• The rolling wood crate table and bench I made from old wood crates were featured at Posed Perfection.

Good-bye beautiful July, welcome August. I hope you all had a great month!

nautical bathroom makeover inspiration

Our three kids share a bathroom and it’s worked fine for them. I just made a new hook rack for this bathroom and I did a little design refresh to it a few months ago. The refresh was a good solution but I knew it would need a little more. But like a lot of smaller house projects, this one was not top on our list, not even close. So I’m redoing this bathroom and trying not to spend too much money. And hopefully I’ll be doing a lot of it through DIY projects on the cheap.

The bathroom was decorated in a nautical theme when we moved in. I love the nautical look but I prefer a more classic feel and subdued color palette. The walls are wallpapered with a blue and white layered pattern and then there’s the sailboat/lighthouse wallpaper border along the top of the wall. The cabinets are plenty big and white so they’ll be staying but I’m considering removing the middle drawers to make room for a clothes hamper. The counter top is laminate. I would love to replace it but remember no budget, so I’m looking into some other design solutions. The large mirror is nice especially when all three are fighting for space but I think I’m going for less obtrusive, individual mirrors with more character.

Here’s my inspiration board:

kids bath ideas

1. nautical cleats  – I plan on using these as possible drawer pulls and curtain tie backs or as hooks. They’re a great shape and very inexpensive.

2. fresh artwork – I have some nice art here already but I’m loving these graphic prints that have a vintage look to them.

3. how can I not include stripes?? And I love the simplicity of the navy and white.

4. more whale’s tail hooks – I love these ones from Frontgate and used two of them in my hook rack. But I think a few more are needed.

5. a new rug – rope or a fun image?? oh the decisions…

6. a tray to help with organizing all the kids’ stuff – I love the art deco wave pattern of this one.

7. colorful metal buckets for storage – a great way to add color and whimsy.

8. my go-to gray paint color for the walls – Stonington Gray from Benjamin Moore. This will be a nice change from the blue layered wallpaper.

9. add a punch of color with buoys and rustic accessories.

10. mirrors – the metal rope detail in this mirror is the perfect subtle touch of nautical.

My to-do list looks like this:

  • remove wallpaper
  • paint the walls
  • replace mirror
  • revise cabinets with open shelf and new hardware, consider something for countertops…
  • new shower curtain
  • new rug
  • more storage hooks
  • better storage for kids’ personal items
  • clean out and organize linen closet

and what’s staying:

  • sinks, toilet and shower
  • basic cabinet structure
  • custom made window curtain {probably}
  • some art
  • lighting
  • recent hook rack DIY project
  • flooring

Click here to check out my Pinterest page for lots more ideas that have got me inspired.

I’m not sure this project will be happening during these beautiful summer months – it might be a back to school project. But stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated on the progress. Should be a fun one!

the best sangria recipe ever

sangria_main

ok, so it might not be the best recipe ever but I have tried a bunch, ahem, and this one is my favorite. Plus it’s super easy to make. I know Sangria can be enjoyed all year round but something about summertime and sangria just go together. I like white sangria but it’s a little too sweet for me. So I’m sticking with the red. It’s a great drink for a party or large group – or do what I did last week, mix a batch for no reason and you’ll find an excuse to finish it. don’t judge me.

THE BEST SANGRIA EVER:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle red wine {Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Red Zin}
  • 1 of each: lemon, orange, & lime, cut into wedges
  • 2 T sugar
  • splash of OJ
  • 2 shots Triple Sec
  • 1 C raspberries and/or blueberries
  • 1 small can of diced pineapples with the juice
  • 4 C ginger ale
  • mint sprigs for garnish

Directions:

Pour wine into pitcher (with cover), squeeze fruit of the lemon, orange, and lime and throw the remains in. Add the pineapple, sugar, OJ and Triple Sec. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale and berries just before serving. Works best to serve in an open pitcher to get the fruit when pouring. Top each glass with a sprig of mint.

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Click here to download and print this recipe. Then start your weekend off with a batch of sangria and enjoy!

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