Wax Paper Transfer Cheese Tray

How do you like my fancy fromage tray?

This was once a butt-ugly 70s metal and wooden tray purchased at Goodwill. But I saw potential in it and decided to buy it and spruce it up.

Before: Isn’t it ugly?

I decided to spray paint the metal tray with chalkboard paint. A couple of coats did the trick. (Remember to spray paint in a well ventilated area — not in a closed garage like I did!)

Next up, I painted the wooden tray with a couple coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White. (FYI, I buy my chalk paint from Total Bliss.) Then, I put on a coat of clear wax and sanded the wood to distress it. Looking much better already. (Don’t you just loved my organized workspace?)

The next step is definitely the coolest and one I wasn’t sure would work, until I tried it. And this technique was so very easy, that I’m itching to use it again on another project. Oh, the possibilities.

Inspired by several projects I’ve seen around the web, including this one, I created a wax paper image transfer. I used regular old Reynolds Cut-Rite Wax Paper and my trusty inkjet printer to do this. I’ll explain exactly how in just a bit.

First things first, though, I had to find an image to put on the tray. I found just what I was looking for — a vintage French-style frame — at the Graphics Fairy. I imported the image into my graphic design software. I used Silhouette Studio, the software that came with my Silhouette Cameo, but you could use any design program, I think Word would probably work, as well. From there, I added the word “Fromage” to my label. (I used the font Zapfino.)

Then — and this step is very important — I flipped the entire image horizontally to create a mirror image to print. Most software programs can do this quite easily. Just look for “flip image” or “mirror image,” Also, the Graphics Fairy usually has a transfer image for all of the graphics on her site. (Since I was adding text to my image, I had to do this step manually.)

Next, I trimmed a piece of wax paper to 8,5 inches by 11 inches to fit in my printer. I’d read online that some people had trouble feeding the thin wax paper through their printers. So, I taped my wax paper to a piece of plain printer paper. BIG MISTAKE. This just jammed up my printer.

On the second go-round, I removed all the paper from my printer tray and slid a piece of wax paper in there. I chose “transparency” as my paper type, hit print and held my breath. It worked like a charm. The wax paper didn’t jam or wrinkle as it came through my printer.

You have to work quickly and carefully through these next several steps because the wet ink on the wax paper will smear!

I wet the center of my wooden tray slightly. (You’ll get a darker transfer if you wet the wood slightly. Just run a damp washcloth over it. You don’t want it too wet or the ink will smear.)

Be careful that you don’t move the wax paper at this point. It will smear if you do.

Use a credit card to transfer the image to the wood. (I think you could also apply pressure with your fingers to transfer the image.) Again, be careful not to move the paper and smear your image.

Carefully lift the wax paper off the wooden surface. The ink on the wax paper is still wet and it can smear your project if you’re not careful.

I’m generally a midnight crafter, so I let this tray sit overnight so the ink could dry and cure. When it touched it the next morning, I got a little ink on my fingers. So, instead of topping the wood with a coat of Annie Sloan paste wax or polycrylic as I would normally do, I sprayed it with a coat of clear matte acrylic sealer. I did this because I was afraid I would smear the image if I brushed wax or another sealer over it.

Here’s the finished tray, after I sanded and distressed it a bit more and added the sealer.

Then it was time for a little wine and cheese party. I pulled out a few varieties of fromage from the refrigerator and labeled each on the board with chalk. Very fancy, huh?

Linking to Wow Us Wednesday on Savvy Southern Style


— Atta Girl Amy

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Creamy Onion Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

Here’s what’s for dinner tonight. A basic, home-cooked meal using that staple in the pantry of every 1950’s housewife — condensed soup.

A discussion on the Campbell’s Soups Facebook page gave me the idea of mixing the two flavors used in this recipe.

Creamy Onion Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

1 can Cream of Onion Soup

1 can Cream of Chicken with Mushrooms

2-3 skinless chicken boneless breasts

Combine soup in crock pot, throw in chicken breasts. Turn on crock pot to desired setting and let simmer all day.

For the mashed potatoes, you need

3-4 large russet potatoes

1 cup milk or cream


The secret to great mashed potatoes is to boil the potatoes until they are falling apart. Mash well with masher or potato ricer. Combine melted butter with mashed potatoes. While mixing, add in milk or cream (you may need more or less milk or cream.) Another secret to great potatoes is to add more cream or milk than you think you need. Keep mashed potatoes on stove on low heat and let the ingredients sit. The potatoes will absorb the milk.

Serve the chicken alongside the potatoes and use the ‘gravy’ on your potatoes.

This is a wonderful comfort food that I think you will enjoy.

Serve with some fresh bread and your favorite vegetables for a great, easy meal.

— Atta Girl Laura

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Grandma Joyner’s Baked Beans

Grandma Joyner

The best recipes are family recipes, passed along and adapted from one generation to the next.

Whenever I’m asked to bring a dish to share for a cookout or potluck, I’ll pick a tried-and-true, taste-tested favorite, like my Grandma Joyner’s Baked Beans. This is why everyone thinks I’m such a good cook. I’m smart enough to stick to the basics and the dishes I know play well with crowds. They’re dishes like my fried wontons, baked brie, chili, Paula Deen’s strawberry cake and Grandma Joyner’s baked beans.

I’ve eaten too many “experimental” dishes at cookouts and parties to know that you don’t try a new recipe for the first time when cooking for company. 

Be warned, these baked beans are not low-cal or low-fat. But they’re delicious.

I suppose you could use any kinds of beans in this recipe, but my Grandma Joyner swore you had to use Van Camp’s Pork & Beans. Out of respect for family traditions and her memory, I’ve never tried anything else. (If you do, I don’t want to hear about it!)

Grandma Joyner’s Baked Beans

1 can Van Camp’s Pork & Beans

1 small onion

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup ketchup

4 slices bacon

1/2 teaspoon mustard

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Fry bacon in pan. Remove bacon and simmer onions in bacon drippings.

Crumble bacon and mix remaining ingredients together in a casserole dish.

Bake uncovered at 300 degrees for 60 minutes.

* I always double this recipe, and I’ve been known to triple and quadruple it when cooking for a crowd. If you prefer, you can reduce the amount of bacon when making larger batches.

— Atta Girl Amy

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Every mother is guilty…

Guilt by derera_toujours

I was at a gathering with some other moms and everyone was talking about visiting magnet schools and trying to figure out where they’d enroll their little ones for kindergarten.

And I felt less than. Because I wasn’t planning to “investigate” any of our county’s magnet schools. Or charter schools. With some discussion — but without actually visiting any schools — we have decided to send our son to our neighborhood school. Which, to be fair, is one of the best schools in the county by numerous objective and subjective measures. It’s one of the reasons we chose to move here in the first place. (That and the crown moulding, of course!)

But as I listened to my friends talking about magnets, charters and school choice, suddenly I found myself questioning whether I was a good mother. By “settling” for our neighborhood school, I felt I wasn’t doing my due diligence in terms of his education and that perhaps I was jeopardizing his future.

I don’t want to make it seem like we’re not informed about school choice in our town. My husband spent years as the senior education reporter for the newspaper here, so he knows better than most about how the public, charter and private schools in our area stack up. When we were house hunting last year, the school district was one of the factors where I deferred to him. We confined our search to those neighborhoods in good school districts. And we’ve discussed, in broad strokes, some of the other options available to us. But without visiting that school or any of the others in our area, we’ve always felt that the neighborhood was the right fit for our son and our family.

Am I wrong? Should I be checking out the magnet schools and applying there, just in case? What about the charters and private schools?

Or am I letting misplaced guilt and comparisons cloud my judgment, as mothers (more often than fathers) sometimes do.

Mind you, I was on the periphery of the schools discussion with the other mothers. In fact, I didn’t say a word, just listened as the others talked. No one questioned our decision to send our son to the neighborhood school. No one did anything to put me on the defense. No one, that is, except for me.

Why am I doubting myself? Why do we as mothers do that to ourselves? Why do we let what others say or do make us doubt our parenting choices? Why do we second guess our decisions? Why do we wonder if we’re doing enough, when we’re already doing so much? How can we stop this cycle of guilt? Do men feel this same level of guilt and doubt about the job they’re doing as fathers?

— Atta Girl Amy


9 Reasons to Wear an Apron

Aprons on the line by klynslis

Living in a 1950s neighborhood has its perks, like the constant stream of city workers repairing broken water mains in front of the house.

Now, this Atta Girl is not enjoying the scenery of the fine gentlemen that come to repair these pipes, rather the enjoyment that backhoes, dump trucks and other heavy equipment brings my 4- and 5-year old boys.

Last week when yet another water pipe burst due to freezing temperatures, the huge entourage of city workers and equipment that came with it brought more than 24-hours of free, pure elation to the preschoolers living here. My oldest immediately found a costume suitable to match the city workers and got to work supervising their every step. This meant of course, that mommy was outside making sure both boys did not end up in the bottom of the huge trench dug in a lengthy attempt to find the source of the broken pipes.

All housework was put on hold since the boys wanted to be outside.

While supervising the boys, I noticed some strange looks and even some elbow-pokes among the workmen.

Now, let’s be honest. I know it wasn’t about my fit body or radiant glow of a freshly made-up mommy.  I was wearing my regular ensemble of whatever was clean that day, over which I always wear an apron.

After a while, I realized the looks I was getting was specifically about the apron I was wearing – a black and white gingham apron (bought in an antique store and 100 percent authentic 1950s).   I wondered to myself, how long had it been since these guys had seen a housewife wearing an apron. Certainly, I am sure they have some stories to tell over the things they have seen, and certainly my apron was not the most shocking thing they had ever seen, but the looks I was getting told me it was certainly something new to them.

After talking over the course of the day, the foreman and I got to chatting about the fact that I was a stay-at-home mom.  The foreman, who hailed from Wales originally, told me the last lady he had seen wearing an apron was his mother and that was some 20 years prior.  He said it was nice to see again, made him feel like he was at home again.  He also asked if I had a cake baking in the oven. I told him, no, it was cookies today.  He laughed until later that afternoon, when I brought out cookies for the workers to enjoy.

I love my aprons. I wear them daily, from the time I get up until I put on pajamas. Sometimes I wear an apron over my pajamas!

I figure me in an apron in what my 50s house demands. When I put it on, I can hear the walls cheering. These walls have seen a lot of changes in their 60-year history, and I know they are happy to see the old familiars return.

Wearing an apron makes me feel good and like a domestic diva.

More than simply empowering me, an apron serves many valuable functions. Some of those functions are not always obvious to the un-apron-ed.

So, I have decided share my favorite uses and experiences that apron-wearing has taught me. Some offer good advice and others teach a valuable lesson about the world we live in!

It would be a top 10 list, but hey, who has time for that? So, here are my Top 9 Advantages of Wearing an Apron:

Photo by Playingwithbrushes

  1. An apron hides a protruding belly.  Not pregnant belly, but those few pounds of baby fat still hanging around even thought the baby is 4 now.
  2.  You never have to worry whether you forgot to pull up your zipper during your daily trip to the bathroom; the apron has you covered.
  3. Pockets can hold a variety of necessary mommy things: Kleenex, Legos, army men, pacifiers and my personal favorite, worms. Those large, deep pockets can also hid those annoying small toys that  you are going to throw away soon, but must first hide and make sure no one misses.
  4. Practically, my apron protects me from spills and while wearing it, I can always dry my hands quickly.  An apron also protects my clothes from my kids’ runny noses – they wipe on my apron and not my pants.
  5. An apron is an excellent carrier for toys.  I can move more items when it is time to tidy up.
  6. While sewing, I can use my apron as a needle cushion, and I can fit my scissors in the pocket (next to the worms).
  7. When I forget to take it off when leaving the house, an apron can help you identify women who think stay-at-home moms are some are something to snicker at, make fun of or demean in front of others. This happened recently when picking up my oldest from preschool, when a “working” mom decided it was so funny that I wore an apron and felt it appropriate to make fun of both the apron and me. Every other mom who witnessed this vowed NEVER to invite her to another play group again.
  8. My cat loves me more when I wear my apron.  He perceives it as a nice soft blanket and the second I sit down, he sits down on me.  This is nice if you need some loving from your cat, but not nice if you are trying to eat or sew or Facebook.
  9.  I think my favorite reason for wearing an apron is that even though my jeans are worn, my shirts faded and stained by painting projects with my kid, my apron is pretty and freshly ironed (or not).  It is something I can be proud of because I made it (or bought it for a bargain). While it may or may not match my Crocs, my apron says a lot about me. I am not afraid to be a mom, who stays at home all day long and enjoys what she is doing. I like to be a girl and while my job requirements demand casual attire, my apron can have lace, ribbons and fringe all over it!  I like to think my apron says, Look at me world!  I woman and hear me.…!  Yeah, just hear me.

– Atta Girl Laura

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Gag orders, gossip and toking

Being a parent can sometimes feel like you’re living under a gag order.

These days, it feels like I can never say what I want to say. Because someone is always listening. Even when I think he shouldn’t be. Like when he’s engrossed in a TV show or video game or playing in the next room.


Gossip by Exquisitur

But just as sure as I start talking about something adult — or someone — little Mr. Nosy with the supersonic hearing is right in the middle of the conversation.

“What did you say?”

“Who are you talking about?”

“Just tell me.”

My husband and I are finding it more and more difficult to have any adult conversations these days out of fear that what we say will be repeated in front of the wrong people, in the wrong context. Or that something Jackson overhears will be too intense for his 5-year-old sensibilities. (This happened quite recently when my husband told me that his mother had been picked as a juror on a murder trial. Someone heard something he shouldn’t, and that sparked a whole line of questioning that persisted for days.)

We have been blessed with a child with a vocabulary beyond his years, and it seems that no matter what we do to cloak our conversations, he ALWAYS understands what we’re talking about. Or at least he understands enough to make trouble.

Thankfully, our son is now old enough to know that he shouldn’t repeat the really “dirty” words he hears — and unfortunately, he does hear them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ever any inappropriate recitations. Just today, we were playing in the yard and Jackson broke into a cheer. We’d practiced it a few days earlier, “I say, ‘Go,’ you say, ‘Heels.’ Go. Heels.”

But apparently he thought it would be funnier to change the words.

“I say, ‘sanitary,’ you say, “napkin.’ Sanitary. Napkin.”

“I say, ‘tam,’  you say, ‘pon.’ Tampon.”

What will the neighbors think?

But that’s not the worst of it. Jackson has a new favorite song, and I’m to blame.

I happened to share this funny YouTube clip of an old Lawrence Welk performance with my husband, never thinking that the kid was paying attention.

But he was. He serenaded me with “One Toke Over the Line” tonight as we drove home from a birthday party.

I’m thinking of making a new Nine Inch Nails/Lil’ Jon/Divinyls/Snoop Dog/Lynyrd Skynyrd playlist for the morning preschool commute.

– Atta Girl Amy

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Meet Atta Girl!

Welcome to Atta Girl Says, the new online lifestyle magazine for women of a certain age who share our passion for living homemade.

Crafty, sassy, irreverent and just a little bit frazzled, Atta Girl is the alter ego of three modern mommies living in North Carolina.

Atta Girl loves modern conveniences — she’d be lost without her smartphone, the dishwasher, boxed wine and the pizza delivery boy — but she  appreciates the handmade, homemade and old-fashioned.  She’s a cook, a crafter and a consummate dabbler in all things domestic. Atta Girl does the June Cleaver bit — and then some — but without the high heels and pearls.

Among them, the real-life Atta Girls have three young sons who play well with each other until someone picks up a stick. Or pees on his brother. Or poops underneath the slide. Then, all bets are off.

Atta Girl Amy is a “recovering” journalist who earns her living writing business books and dispensing propaganda for her PR clients. She forces her 5-year-old to watch home decorating shows and has co-opted the family’s garage for painting, glittering and other creative projects. She enjoys cooking, paper crafting, furniture rehab and entertaining. Currently, Amy is undergoing extensive retail therapy to regain her sanity.

Atta Girl Laura is a Catholic (reform) school graduate from California, but that’s the only thing left-coast about her. She’s a former teacher who now has two teacher’s pets in her homeschool classroom. (The family cat, Binka, helps with anatomy lessons by performing daily dissections of suburban wildlife.) Laura is a salty-mouthed seamstress, gardener and cook who enjoys homekeeping the old fashioned way.

Visit us often as we share our projects, recipes and musings on motherhood, marriage and modern life.