Friday, December 27, 2013

Make Your Own Dinner!

I know my kids aren't old enough for that yet, it doesn't stop them from wanting to play kitchen though. I had been given a free used play kitchen that had seen better days, but the kids still had hours of fun with it. I had dreamed of making them something fancier though. When I was a kid, my sister and I spend many fun hours playing in our kitchen, I wanted my kids to have the same memories.

I've seen many entertainment centers converted to kitchen on Pinterest, and decided it was time to stop looking and start doing. I found a free entertainment center on Craigslist, found a rehab space away from prying eyes, and got to work.

After plenty of pondering I grabbed my favorite power tools and set to work. It took me about 6 hours to modify it, that included removing/changing doors, filling gaps with wood filler, creating a microwave area, adding a back, cutting plywood for new door configurations etc..

Then I primed the entire piece. Having just finished a painting project I decided to purchase a quality brand of white paint to cover. It still took a total of 4 coats (1 primer, 3 finish) to get a good coverage. I was getting really discouraged after the 3rd coat, white paint and I do not seem to get a long.

I used some acrylic paint to add details to the oven, stove top, microwave and blacksplash. The counter is an enamel paint that I belatedly realized was oil based. Yeah, I get to buy a new pair of jeans. (note the deep sarcasm.) It did make for a nice shiny countertop finish though.

Note the missing handle on the microwave. I forgot...

New jeans aside, this project cost me significantly more than I originally anticipated. Even though I used scrap lumber, the hardware, and paint added up quickly. It also took more time. I sure hope the kids like it...

Yes I realize that the hinge on the top oven is
crooked. I'll fix it later, for now it is done.

On Christmas Eve, My Vet and 2 friends helped haul "The Beast" as he affectionately named it down the stairs and to the trailer to bring it home. After the "Who's were a snooze in their beds" (aka the kids)We moved it into the house and beside the tree, and went to bed.

Oops forgot to put in a blank memory card!

On Christmas morning the girls quickly tore through all of the wrapping paper, and my oldest promptly announced that she "didn't even want a kitchen." dramatic pause so my heart could break a little "But I love it, because you made it." They then spent the next several hours taking orders and making food for us.

The next day after a couple of tense moments, where the stair railing was removed My Vet and father in law safely moved the kitchen to the kids play area in the basement. Some play appliances and a new pair of aprons from a friend of my mom's completed it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Oh What a Night!

One step chalk paint. No need for a
final coat of wax!
In small towns across America, businesses are hosting Lady's Nights Events as a way to show women their wares. I have seen fliers over the past couple of years, and I finally decided to go. I know that it doesn't seem like a big deal, but these events are usually held on nights that My Vet works late. Paying for a sitter so that I can go shopping just doesn't make sense to me.

Then a friend invited me to a Lady's Night at one of my favorite stores, that's right Lady's Night at the Hardware Store!!!

Not only did she GET to spend the evening
with me, she won a prize too!
Toward the end of the evening I was visiting with the store manager about various community events, when he excused himself to help a woman get her packages to her car. She was one of the few women in attendance that the manager didn't already know, and he wanted to make sure he connected with her before she left. That is the kind of customer service I have come to expect from both hardware stores in town. Talk about spoiled!

Check out these cute rain/garden boots
Why can't my feet shrink to at least an 11?

As a serious couponer I am always on the hunt for a good deal, but that doesn't mean I can't shop local. The nice folk's at Marv's put together simple, seasonal, crafts and then had inexpensive kits available for purchase so you could do it at home!

Beverage table fully of condiments!
In addition to great ideas spread around the store, other local business's showed up to show some of their offerings, along with a fantastic snack table on display.

Pulling out all the stops. How often do you
see a tux in a hardware store?
I'm so glad that I cleaned the plaster off, and braved the cold. Many thanks to everyone who made this happen!
I clean up OK, I could use help in the clothing department from some of the super stylish ladies at church. So instead of me, check out the smooth, angled ceiling to the right. Yep, I'm removing more popcorn! Unfortunately this room has a coat of paint over it so it is a bit more tedious, but coming along. I know exactly what to do with the free gallon of paint I won at Ladies Night!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer

Still have a few more additions in the next week, but progress is pretty too!
One of my earliest Christmas memories is watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The poetry of Dr. Seuss being read by Boris Karloff is contagiously happy.

For several years I have had a plan in my mind to help spread the message "But this... this sound wasn't sad. Why... this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without *any* presents at all! He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming, it *came*! Somehow or other... it came just the same. It came without ribbons!... it came without tags!... it came without packages, boxes, or bags!"

My favorite scene. The Grinch's heart growing.
I started with an easy project of packages, boxes, and bags. Then I got busy, and procrastinated too long. Thanks to an early family Christmas celebration in TN, I've had Christmas on the brain for a while this year. I grabbed a pencil, scrap plywood, and my jigsaw before Halloween. I can hear my cousin asking why I started so early. I don't live in Texas it gets cold, and it is not fun cutting out intricate lines when your fingers are frozen. Cutting that early gave me plenty of time to paint in my basement. Since My Vet likes to change houses every few years, I painted both sides with all the details so that they would be reversible. That took extra time, but I had it.

Keeping it real, this is how my house looked most of the weekend.

I did most of the construction and had them roof ready. The sleigh was heavier though and needed extra bracing. My Vet aka "Night in Shining Armour" stepped in to figure that out. He also got to head up to the roof for installation. I am willing to tackle lots of things, climbing on the roof is not one of them. While he was up there, he also got to hang the C-7 lights along the ridge. (I did change out any broken bulbs before he got up there). I'm thinking he earned shrimp scampi and cheesy biscuits in the very near future.

Cold and dark, yet he's on the roof
quickly trying to get'er done.

Thanks to the Vikings going into overtime, we didn't get all of the lights up on Sunday. Instead he finished them up Tuesday before the temperatures dipped further. We aren't the Griswold's (yet), but I think it still looks pretty good!

Notice the fresh snow? It's not too cold so it's a
big sloppy mess, at least the sun is shining now

Since it took extra days to get the outside done, I even had time to get to the inside. This is from last year, I'm working on a special kid tree that I'll share soon.

As I was outside taking this, a neighbor stopped to say how much he liked it! The kids and I love watching cars stop or slow down. If you see us gawking out the window wave! (We try to be sly about it so the drivers don't get creeped out or anything.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

White Chocolate Blueberry Scones

After many years of fresh, warm cinnamon rolls on Thanksgiving morning. I decided to kick it up this year. Don't worry the past 2 years no one has been that excited about cinnamon rolls. Don't get me wrong we still enjoy cinnamon rolls, it's just that on Holidays we like to get a bit fancier.

Fancy doesn't always mean fussy though. These are easy to make ahead and freeze, then just pop them in the oven and walla, fancy schmancy, parade watching breakfast to go along with your cappuccino.

In your food processor combine:
4 cups all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons white sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons of cold butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)

Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl mix blend:
3/4 cup whole milk (you can use lighter milk, but remember that less fat will change the texture. I have used 2% and it worked out OK, but do NOT use skim.)
2 eggs

Add to dry ingredients, pulse a couple times just until dry ingredients are almost all moist. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Before any kneading on top of "dough" pour
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup frozen blueberries
Now gently knead until combined

Divide the dough in half use your hands to pat each into an 8-inch circle. Use a knife to cut into 6 to 8 wedges. Place wedges onto a cookie sheet. At this point you can place the cookie sheet in the freezer then in a few hours move the frozen wedges to a freezer bag until ready to bake. Or you can bake them right away on a greased cookie sheet.

When ready to bake, brush the top with a little bit of milk. (This will give it a nice crust) place your cookie sheet into a Preheated 375 F oven for 15-20 depending on if they are thawed or frozen. Best when served warm!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Quick and Easy

Thanks to all of you who have been filling up my love tank with the compliments, with posts 1, 2, and 3. I still am wondering if I am motivating anyone else to do those yucky jobs? Or did you already do it and I'm just a procrastinator? Or is reading this blog like when I watch Biggest Loser while eating a bowl of ice cream?

Either way today I dug back in. Window blinds and cobwebs are on today's agenda. Unlike yesterday you probably don't need to set down what your eating before you continue.

Here is how I clean mini blinds, I put them in the tub with warm water, dish soap and a wash every individual slat with a microfiber cloth.

For the larger slat blinds I use a bucket of warm soapy water and a microfiber cloth to wipe down every individual slat. (The difference being I do it in place and not in the tub. These blinds are heavier and I would be bummed if I broke them. The mini-blinds can always be upgraded to the wider slats when they break.)

My Vet's birthday is today too, but Thursdays are always really busy for us. So we are planning a special dinner this weekend. I had to show him some love somehow, so I made up a batch of his favorite soup in the crockpot so that it would be hot and ready at a moment's notice.

The weather has turned cold. How did you stay warm today?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rug Doctor is In

Lucky for me cleaning the carpets is next up on my list. Why am I so lucky you ask? Look what I just found.

Sorry I know gross, but sometimes mom's just have to take a deep breath and get to work.

Today I am a cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater. I actually did half of the work last night. Since I found that lovely gift from the dog, and I knew today would be crunched for time. I decided to get a head start. Now cleaning these 2 rooms usually takes me two days, just like this time. My house isn't huge, so I move everything into one area and smaller things into the bedrooms and clean the open space.

Cramped, but usable.

Then I turn on the fans for speedier drying and the next day, move it all to the now clean side and start over.


Yes I do it often enough I have a system. I try to clean the carpets at least twice a year. With dogs, lots of kids in and out, and allergies it makes sense. It also makes sense when you see this.

Gross right? Can you believe I just did it this spring? No wonder I want to change it up! Here is a shot of me at work.
Please excuse my Angelina Jolie stance with my one leg awkwardly in the photo. Yes I usually do it barefoot so my socks don't get wet, and rolling my pants, keeps them dry too! If your wondering this is my Royal Procision 7910 Carpet Extractor that I have had for about 8 years. I had a Bissell before that I liked too, I just used it too much I guess.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blank Slate

Yesterday I started my mad dash to be ready for the holidays. Today, I headed outside before the big chill gets here. Yep, a big dip in temperature. Since it is the end of November, my best guess is that winter is about to start. That means it is finally time to get to my fall yard clean up.

I don't know about you, but we get a ton of leaves. In years past I have tried a variety of leaf collecting methods. They all are still a lot of work, and I would rather just sit inside and watch a movie.

But alas, I can do that no longer. Last week I ran around the yard a few times one evening with the lawn mower, attempting to mulch the vast amount of leaves. I did make a dent, but it got too dark before I was able to finish. So today I used my trusty rake to move leaves from the edges and other areas that the big mower doesn't reach to the middle of the yard.

Leaves I raked in from the edges and off the
patio. Not too bad this time around
I also have this roughly 20 x 65 foot section in front of the fence that gets a ridiculous number of leaves that blow in.

It's really hard in this picture to see how deep
they are, sorry but I was in a hurry to get it done.

Lots of energy later, this is how it looked. Not perfectly leaf free, but I'm beat, and my hands can barely type from the claw like grasp that remains. It really is amazing how the leaves get frozen to the ground when you wait too long! Oops


I did leave a couple of festive fall themed items on the porch that I will swap out with Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving.

Being a proud mom I had to share this photo too. After getting home from school she went next door to help the neighbor.
Glad that's done. I think I might start tomorrows project tonight so that I have time to finish. See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Final Countdown!

It just dawned on me that in 5 days, my kids will be off school for an entire week for the Thanksgiving Holiday! I never got that kind of time when I was a kid, (I had to walk both ways up hill too) but I'm glad I get to spend extra time with them. I love the Holidays and have been working on a big reveal for all of you after Thanksgiving. Can't express how excited I am about that...

Before I can get to Christmas though, I need to be ready for Thanksgiving. For most people Thanksgiving is all about the food. For us moms, it's also about opening our homes to family we haven't seen all year. Gulp. Has it really been that long since spring cleaning?

Don't get me wrong, I am still a firm believer that friends come to see me not my house so I'm not in panic mode. It's just that I need incentive like this to get to some of those big jobs. That said, this week I am going to tackle a cleaning project every day to share with you. I hope that you are inspired, and that you let me know. (Like I said I need motivation.)

For Monday I chose cleaning out the fridge and freezer. My inspiration came from the photos in this article, and the hope that I would need the freezer space for a butchered deer or a cow in the near future.

Sorry I didn't get a before of the fridge, but know that several jars of really old preserves where tossed. Lots of crumbs where removed from below the crisper drawers too.

It doesn't look like much, but foods are
grouped and multiple half packages have
been combined.

I think it's looking pretty clean. I haven't had that much extra freezer space in a long time! Since they are more efficient full, I need to find some deals ASAP!

One thing I always find when cleaning out the freezer is various breads and buns that got pushed to the back. You know that single hamburger bun I thought I would use 'next time', the heal of a multigrain bread the kids hated, the bagels I vaguely remember buying... They have all been in the freezer so long there you wouldn't want to just thaw and eat regular. I cut them up into crouton sized pieces, and roast them in the oven.

Half get packaged and placed back in the freezer to add to stuffing. The other half get put in the food processor to be turned into bread crumbs.

The crumbs are packaged and returned to the freezer. I will combine the crumbs with parmesan cheese and melted butter as a crunchy topping for casseroles. It feels good to have that job done, and now for tomorrow...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Faux Roman Shade

Hanging curtains this past weekend, has inspired me to find a purpose for a swatch of fabric I've had for almost a year.

I started by ironing and stitching the edges over.
Created a pocket for the bottom hem.

Created my pleat and then used a hem stitch. I tried to highlight a bit for you.

Here's how it looks from the front.

I used a scrap piece of wood and closet rod sockets to hang it.


Don't worry about the items that were already in the window. On my mom's last visit she assured me that she had intended for me to use and abuse the cute blueberry potholder. You'll see that again down the road in future food posts. The kids craft project just got a new home in the girls room.
Again with the before.

Have you done any quick updates around your home lately?