A few weekends ago, we braved the Labor Day crowd at Ikea to pick up under bed storage for my daughter’s big girl bed. Which meant I got my upper arm work out using one of their complimentary wheel chairs. I missed my Amigo. But the rainbow at the end of our quick trip, was bumping into our friends near the end of the maze and finding a single panel Bollkaktus curtain for just $8 in the As-Is Section. SCORE! I thought it’d be perfect for my daughter’s window, however my husband did not. Which didn’t phase me. I knew I could make something with it.

Like this floral smile pillow. I have plenty of boring pillows needing some oomph & my linen napkins are looking drab. But It finally dawned on me that the heavy canvas-like curtain would be perfect for a picnic blanket! All it needed was a quick cut to size 57×57 and a straight stitch.

It’d also be ridiculously more affordable than this $155chevron waterproof picnic blanket I’ve been eyeing on etsy. My version of course is no where near as durable as this one. But it’s a price tag that doesn’t hurt.


My daughter even helped me sew it as the designated pedal pusher. Done!


You can get all fancy by adding a layer of cushion and line the bottom with a protective vinyl. For our purposes as a photo prop, it wouldn’t be worth the time & effort. But, definitely something I could go back and add later.


P.S. I confess I’m smitten by the name & inspiration of this fabric – cactus!


Designer thoughts

“When I designed BOLLKAKTUS curtain I was inspired by photos I took during my holidays near and far – of things like balloons on strings, stones, cacti and the surfaces of rocks and brick walls.” – Designer Henna Jaakkola



In a couple weeks we plan to attempt a DIY Family Photo Shoot. We really wish we could hire a professional photographer for an outdoors photoshoot, but it’s just not in the budget for us. Being a digiscrapper, I want all my photo files, not just a a couple choice prints. Plus, there’s this whole incompetent cervix & bedrest situation we’ve been living with this whole pregnancy. As a good compromise, we’ll be doing an outdoor picnic style photoshoot with the help of our brother. My “vision” is something fun, colorful and hip. Pinterest & Etsy have pumped my brain full of ideas.

My husband’s been patiently on board with all my ideas, so long as we don’t splurge. Got a baby coming soon. Hello.

So, I’m putting to good use my craft stash to make the props for our shoot. Starting with these easy DIY Pinwheels, a fun & whimsical picnic photo prop that will surely put a smile on my girl’s face.


Thankfully I had all the supplies already in my stockpile.


I didn’t snap a shot of cutting the paper. If you need a visual, this mommy blogger took some great ones – Bern Next, I let my little one go to town on the plain side of the scrapbook paper with a sponge & paint. Let it dry.


Then I bent the pin with pliers. At first i stuck it in the paper & straw & then tried bending the pin. No Bueno. The paper & straw got smooshed. So, I recommend bending the pin first!


With the bent pin, poke the alternating corners of the paper & then straight through the middle. On the back, slide a couple beads onto the pin. Then, pierce the straw.


Wiggle the bent pin through the straw, until you can lay it flat against the straw. Secure it with clear tape.


At this point you’re good to go. If you want a longer handle, slide a bbq skewer into two straws. Tape the straws at the joint. Tape the bottom to keep the straw in.

My daughter loves it. It’s bigger than her head & she spent 15 minutes straight running around the house with it to get it to spin. She calls it a “winpeel” which fits because it certainly was a diy win in my books.


On a side note: This is my first post using only my phone because of being on bedrest. But, I must say I could get used to this! Using the phone’s camera instead of dslr and instead of photoshop, i used the #rhonnadesigns app to add text and #snapseed to do a little photo tweeking. It’s made blogging this super easy. Now I have no excuse to slack on blogging my diy adventures. Next up, Diy Picnic Photo Shoot | Picnic Blanket.


Here’s a semi-homemade pseudo healthy twist on the Filipino favorite sweet breakfast sausage Longanisa with fried garlic rice & a sunny side up egg, better known for it’s acronym Losilog = Longanisa + Sinangang + Itlog!


fair warning – I was cooking by sight & taste this morning, so I didn’t measure the ingredients!

Tip – If you’re cooking with fry pan like me, cook the cauliflower first before the Longanisa. The Longanisa will make the pan super messy & sticky, but if you use a non stick & rinse of the pan while it’s still hot – right away, it will be a quick clean up!

by CACTUSmango


• 1/4 head of Cauliflower (finely chopped)
• 1-2 Tablespoons of minced garlic (also from Costco)
• about 2 Tablespoons Virgin Cold pressed Coconut Oil (from Costco. & that’s a guesstimate again, I just squirted directly into pan without measuring!)


1. Heat coconut oil in medium high heat pan & saute the garlic. You can cook your garlic lightly or til it’s crispy, both ways I like.
2. Pulse cauliflower in food processor or simply chop it up into rice sized bits.
3. Add to pan & toss with garlic oil until al dente.

by CACTUSmango


• 4 Johnsonville Maple Sausage (frozen from Costco)
• 4 tablespoons of Organic Blue Agave Syrup (also from Costco. Qauntity is a guesstimate because I just drizzled a bunch over the sausage in the pan)
• Organic Ground Chipotle powder (add as much as you like)
• Water (just enough to, about half way up the sausage. Maybe i used 1/2 cup)


1. Place all ingredients in non-stick pan over medium heat, boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cover & simmer until sausage is almost cooked through.
2. Uncover & increase to medium heat. Turn occasionally. Let liquids reduce. Ready to eat when caramelized!

I’m pleasantly surprised that the Cauliflower “Rice” went well with this. You can serve this atop rice of your choice with sunny side up or over medium for pregos like me.

After trying this, I could use a lot more heat! It is 4th of July after all! Add more spice to your liking & Have a great weekend!

ProjectLife 2013: Video QR codes

Right before the birth of my daughter in 2009, my husband and I eagerly purchased our first DSLR, so that we would never be frustrated with lack luster photos. It’s amazing to look back at the past 3+ years and see a photo each day of our little girl. We have just as many videos!  But, the videos are never included in photo albums.  It’s always been a separate experience to watch the videos later.  Not anymore thanks to    YouTube + QR codes + Goggles.

I found these nice tutorials on how to incorporate QR codes into your photo albums:  mswhitaker231 and TraciReed.  I’m so excited at how easy it was to do. This is how I do it:  After I upload my video file to my YouTube account. I copy+paste the link into the QR code generator.  You can choose to download, print or email a copy of the QR code.  


I opt to download the QR code. Then I open the file in Photoshop.  I  just completed this easy 4×6 layout of a recent family outing (to watch ERTH’s Dinosaur puppet show and check out the Yarn Bombing at the Mesa Arts Center).
I find the easiest thing to do, is to simply drag the QR code layer into my layout. Super easy!  Now when I print the scrapbook page, the video code will be built in.  (You could also opt to print out your scrapbook page and code separately. Then, attach the code to your page later.)    

I know QR codes have been out for awhile, but I never bothered to put a QR code reader app on my mobile before.  Today, I tried out Google’s Goggles app.  Once installed, I  was seriously giggling with excitement as I took a snapshot of the QR code on my scrapbook page. (I did this from the laptop screen, but after I get the 4×6 page printed out, I’ll update this post.)


After I snapped the shot, the correct YouTube link appeared at the bottom of the app.  Click on it and enjoy your video!


I hope you try adding video QR  codes to your photo albums too. It’s definitely going to be part of my regular ProjectLife routine from now on.


products used:  4×6 Photo Templates, Tag-It, Pedal Pusher

Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 1

advent_day1 by CACTUSmango
advent_day1, a photo by CACTUSmango on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Have been inspired by many DIY advent/service calendars on pinterest and am very pleased with the one my daughter & I were able to put together. Hope this becomes a wonderful learning tool and family bonding tradition.

Itty Bitty Pizza Bites

Itty Bitty Pizza Bites by CACTUSmango
Itty Bitty Pizza Bites, a photo by CACTUSmango on Flickr.

Via Flickr:

After the cauliflower cheese crusts were baked & removed from the cupcake tins, my daughter & I topped them with leftover Giada Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce that I added brocolli and carrots to last night. I also cut up some string cheese and somed Chicken Artichoke Mozzarella sausage from Costco as the “pepperoni”.

I’ve been wanting to try this Cauliflower pizza crust recipe I found on pinterest. The pix posted by Beth from Eat.Drink.Smile. look so nice and crispy. Mine however didn’t turn out as I had hoped. Mine were a bit more on the quiche-like texture. The edges did get nice and crispy. But, I was hoping for a nice thin crust like texture all around. Perhaps if I put less mixture in each cupcake tin, next time. I’ll also line the cupcake tins with some parchment paper next time.

Itty Bitty Pizza Bites - closeup

My little 3 yr old liked it enough to eat two of these for dinner, so I’m happy and I’d try this recipe again.

Project Life | “Let’s go follow the sunset.”

Via Flickr:
snapped this photo on the way to trick or treat, because my daughter loved the pretty colors of the sunset.