Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dresser progress's today's progress on the dresser rehab. The piece needs to fully dry and then I will seal the entire thing with poly. I wanted to see the the effect with the hardware I spray painted. I think it looks pretty good, however one of the drawers has some drip marks and a high spot of paint, so I may go back and sand it down and repaint it, but still not too shabby. As much as I thought I'd be able to get away without the poly having had to touch it up several times already because of my little "helpers", I realize now I'm only half way through the process, however it's going to be totally worth it. I'm think it's much improved over the state it was in prior to painting it. I have the other piece to work on still, perhaps next week I can knock that one out too.
Disregard my drop cloth and paint stuff on the floor. I wanted to go ahead and take a picture to share with you all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Work on it Wednesday

Well after a couple of weeks of trying to tackle things on Tuesdays I realize that for my current schedule Wednesdays actually work out better for me than Tuesdays. I generally have a pretty uncomplicated schedule on Wednesdays, but do a ton of running around on Tuesdays while trying to squeeze in a tackle. The schedule wasn't lending itself to me feeling like I was accomplishing what I wanted to each week.
So now, it will be Work on it Wednesdays, or as I like to call it, everything old is new again. Let's face it with the economy and the greening of America you really need to think about your consumption in all things. I have a house full of furniture...actually two housefuls, but I digress. Some of it is actually pretty nice, but has seen some better days, but with a little imagination, ingenuity and elbow grease, well...I can give those old dogs some new life. I'm starting with two pieces Mister had when I married him, They belonged to his Grandmother, who lived to be 95 years old. They are two traditional pieces made of solid woods and veneers...none of that composite crap for Grandma. Over the years, Mister has not babied them at all, they were moved from apartment to apartment. One of the dovetailed drawers came apart, the finish was chipped, peeled and scratched. But never fear, the drawer has been repaired, the gouges and chips have been filled and sanded and now they are ready for a whole new life. Today I will work on one piece It's a highboy dresser that I have in the dining room. The drawers are generous and I currently store many things in them such as kitchen and dining linens, school supplies for the kids and rarely used holiday dishes.
Now here's what I had to do and what you'll need to do if you ever want to rehab your own furniture. Remove the hardware and prime the piece. I'm doing this with an oil based primer. It's better to use an oil based primer than a latex one. It not only gives you a good surface to paint on, but it keeps the old finish or paint from bleeding through your piece. It's quite versatile since you can use it on top of oil based paint, stains and latex paint, as well as you could paint your piece afterwards with either oil based or latex paint too. If you are diying it, it's really important to take the time to prime your piece to get a flawless looking finished piece. I recommend two coats of primer. It doesn't have to be perfect, but remember you're giving yourself a foundation to work with.

This is before priming, but I've already applied wood putty, sanded and removed some of the hardware.

So far, so good. I've removed the rest of the hardware and applied two coats of an oil based primer, now it's ready for paint. I should mention one more thing about the primer. I could have opted to have my primer tinted to gray, to lessen the number of paints of coat I would need to get good coverage. Just like when you paint walls, when using a dark color and untinted primer, you may need more than one or two coats to get really good coverage.

Tomorrow. I'll apply at least two coats of a black semi gloss paint to the piece. Letting it dry between coats. Two things about the paint choice, I went with semi gloss because it gives a harder finish then satin or flat and since these are pieces I use daily I want the finish to last. I may apply a protective coat of polyurethane to help to protect the pieces even further. It's also really important to let the piece dry fully before sitting anything on top of it, if you don't want divets in your furniture. I'll let it dry at least 72 hours before placing anything on it. I've painted several pieces of furniture over the years and it's always a really fun way to give an old piece a new life. So, stay tuned for the finished piece.

Tackle it Tuesday

Alright, so there was some tackling, but not of the kind I had planned. I gave a lesson on how to use a serger, ran all over town doing errands and then went to my Junior League meeting. I didn't get a single thing done that I had planned on getting done today. However, tomorrow I have no errands to run and we only have to leave the house for O's hour long dance class so it will be work, work, work...I'm calling it Work on it Wednesday.

Monday's Meal

When I was growing up, my mom would always cook a big Sunday dinner and the best part of those dinners was the desserts. I remember fondly that she would often make a cobbler. I remember thinking something so delicious must be hard to make, but is not. So, I thought for old times sake I'd share a peach cobbler recipe. You can substitute whatever fruit you like as the recipe lends itself to an array of fruit, but for me peach will always be my favorite. Try it topped with some fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and then tell me if you don't think you've died and gone to heaven.

Peach Cobbler

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), melted
1 (29 ounce) can sliced canned peaches, undrained
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grease and lightly flour a 9X13 inch baking pan and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine flour, sugars, baking powder, salt and vanilla in a bowl. Pour milk into dry ingredients and then stir in melted butter. Mix thoroughly.
Pour mixture into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Arrange peaches on top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Home Redux 2009...part 1

I have to say that I'm in a panic, with the economy tanking, so many shelter magazines are closing up shop...Country Home, Domino, Blueprint and my fav Budget Living have all closed in the last year or are set to close. Where will I go for ideas and inspiration? What will I read when I take the kiddos to B&N? I've been doing a lot of Internet surfing lately and have discovered a bunch of new blogs on home decorating/improvement. Some are very cool and while not 100% my personal aesthetic I can appreciate all the budget friendly ideas and the DIY spirit.
I'm still on a mission to whip my home into shape this year...don't get me wrong, it's not like it's the pits, but I have to admit my style has changed quite a bit since we moved in nine years ago. I think originally I was more traditional with a bit of shabby chic/country cottage mixed I definitely have more a modern eclecticism thing going on.
I've been doing a bit of thrift store shopping lately. So far my finds have been 2 lamps and 2 lamp shades for $26, a scroll worked wall clock for $6, a rug runner for front entry $8, a cabinet for the china that sits on top of the buffet for $17 (which I may or may not paint...can't decide yet). I also reworked 2 lamps that I have from my mom. They are classically shaped bell jar lamps that originally were a peach color (gotta love the 1980's), I've spray painted them once before in a hammered metal silver color, but this time I spray painted them "claret". They look very nice if I must say so myself and they were just the right price, free! I'm pretty happy with my living room. I'd like a rug, but while the kids are little and so messy I think I'll wait to buy that oriental rug I've been wanting. I also saw two midcentury chairs at an out of the way thrift store that I couldn't stop thinking about. I finally had my girlfriend, B. go and get them for me. I have no idea where I'll put them...but a deal like this can't be passed up. I'm going to recover them in a cool modern fabric and they will look awesome! I have a mirror from my mom. It's that crazy 1970's Home Dec. stuff they used to have parties's this hideous bronze color, but I like the shape and will either spray paint it white, black or silver. I haven't made up my mind yet. Paint...the great unifier. Love it!
My next project is my dining room or as I like to call it the multipurpose room. I have two pieces that belonged to Mister's grandmother. The quality of the pieces is excellent, but they have seen better days so I'm going to paint them. I've already applied wood putty to all the nicks and gouges in them and used my palm sander. Next I'm going to prime them. That'll be next weeks Tackle It.
I've also been collecting picture frames for forever and I'm going to paint them all black. The color palette in my house is autumnal colors, lots of golds, browns, reds and greens so black is a great neutral for that scheme. If I had a lighter color palette I'd go with white accents, but since I don''s black baby!
I'm excited about all the pending projects and I can't wait to see it all finished.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I heart this!

I adore kitchen gadgets and the latest one I've acquired is an inexpensive little tool that I don't know how I ever lived without. It's a non stick pastry mat. We bake a lot and up until now I was flouring the counter and dealing with the big mess it left...but now I have my mat. It's so nifty that I just had to sing it's praises. Now, don't you just want one. I got mine at Target and it has quite a bit of information for the home pastry chef printed on it and additionally it has circles in different diameters so that you know just how big you're rolling out your dough, now isn't that helpful? Best of all is the quick clean up, I simply bend and then toss all the flour and mess in the trash and presto mess.
Go out and get one, it'll change your life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tackle it, revisted

Here's the after w/my table skirt camaflouging all the extra machines, patterns and what not. Much better!

Here's what's hiding away under the table...can you believe how much stuff I can store under there?

Here's the before. What a mess!

Well, feeling a bit better today which is a good thing since there are so many project, so little time. However today is a quickie since I already started on it a bit. The overflow sewing stuff in the dining room. I mostly want to organize it and camaflouge it since there really isn't anywhere else for me to move it to beside the garage and that would defeat the point of having it ready to go. Sometimes I wish I could break down and just sale some it, but I have to admit that even the thought of doing that fills me dread. I love my sewing's a big part of my stress relief and serves as a creative outlet. I don't sew every day or even every week...but I can always find my zen place when I do and I don't want to let that go. It might seem silly since I have so much...but there it is. But, that doesn't mean it can't be organized right? I made a little curtain to hide the interfacing I have stored in a little ikea cabinet. I attached it with stick on velcro...we'll see how long it holds up. I'd love to make a skirt to hide all the things under my cutting table, but I only have 4.5 yds of the fabric and I need to recover the midcentury chairs I picked up last week. In the meantime I found a huge piece of dec. weight fabric I got awhile back from my friend Rhonda, it'a a bluish gray paisley. I like the print even if I doesn't really coordinate. It will serve until I can find something that goes better. Maybe a solid or something.
Next week is my big furniture rehab. I already started by filling in all the knicks and gouges with wood putting and sanding it down. I picked up the paint today. I ended up getting Kilz One Coat from Walmart. I was surprised that it was a bit expensive...but not quite as expensive as the Benjamin Moore I had looked at the day before. I settled on painting the furniture black, a color called Black Ink. I hope it's black enough, a lot of the blacks I looked at looked sort of dusky and gray.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

We interrupt this tackle it, to go lie down. I have a wicked headache today and I can't seem to get rid of it. I've puttered around a bit today, but in the end I realized I wasn't accomplishing very much. So ...I think I'll work on my spiffing up my overflow sewing stuff tomorrow assuming I feel better. So...stayed tuned for tomorrow new and improved space.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday's Meal

Spaghetti Carbonara, italian for bacon and eggs and one of the easiest pasta dishes you could ever create. You can use bacon if you don't have pancetta, but it's worth it to use pancetta. Enjoy!

1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 thin slices pancetta, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside. In a large skillet, cook diced pancetta until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of fat; add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and heat in reused large skillet. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add wine (or chicken broth); cook one more minute.
Return the pancetta to the pan; add cooked spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together. Add eggs and 1/2 Parmesan cheese together and mix well. Add the egg mixture to your spaghetti mixture, tossing until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the extra Parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve immediately with fresh Italian bread and a crisp white wine.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fondue Fantastic!!

I wanted to do something special for the kids for valentine's day beside stuffing them full of chocolate so I decided to do a fondue party for them. I did a cheese one and a chocolate one. I have two awesome fondue pots both obtained from thrift stores (for the grand total of $10) and one is this very cool retro electric one that I just adore. The kids were so excited and they loved the little prongs.

Here's the fondue recipes I used

Adaptation of a classic Swiss fondue

1 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound shredded emanthaler cheese
1/2 pound shredded Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 garlic clove

Take garlic clove and rub the inside of fondue pot. You can put the clove in the bottom of the pot when finished. Add wine, lemon and chicken broth to fondue pot and simmer. Add the shredded cheeses, 1/4 pound at a time. Stir after each addition of cheese until melted. Stir in corn starch. When all the cheese has melted, stir in salt, paprika and nutmeg. Serve with cut-up bread of your choice, vegetables, cooked meats, whatever you fancy.

Chocolate Fondue

1 12 ounces pack of milk chocolate chips
1 cups heavy cream
1 jigger of Kahlua
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white sugar

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate with the heavy cream. Mix in the kahlua, vanilla extract and sugar. Continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth. Serve with cake, fruit, marshmallows or whatever you desire. Enjoy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

We need a budget?

I used to be a member of Mvelopes. For those of you who don't know it's a budgeting program and while it's very good, I found it difficult to use because my banks
Fort Knoxx security made it hard to interface with Mvelopes, which was the entire point of the program. Now I've been thinking again, that we need some accountability in our finances. We thankfully make enough that we can always pay our bill, don't ever balance our account or worry that there's not money there. But, I know we could be doing so much better in regards to discretionary spending. Honestly, the Mister and I both love our toys and creature comforts. He's a big ticket purchaser and while I tend to buy thrift and bargain stuff...I do it often so it can add up. I'm thinking about the big "B" as these are tough economic times and I do worry about the future. We're not always the best at saving, in fact I think Mister's philosophy is "live now, for tomorrow you might die". I worry because even though my job is pretty recession proof, mister's isn't and he's the principal breadwinner. If Mister lost his job, we could still maintain our home and pay our bills, but our lifestyle would need to change some. I want to be prepared in case that were to happen. So, I've been making some small changes. I made a list of our bills/obligations and for the next month I will track our expenses to see if our money is really going where I think it's going. I have a pretty good idea already. I just subscribed to the paper so I could start clipping coupons and I joined several online groups dedicated to couponing. I'm also going through the house and garage to see what I no longer need and will list these items on Craigslist. My friend D. and I have challenged ourselves to live a bit more frugally and simply. I've committed myself to using my stash for craft projects and gifts for the next year and also plan to make most of the kids wardrobe for the spring and summer. So, I think all these are good starts...but I probably still need a budget.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday!

The hall closet aka...closet of death. Where do I begin? I guess I need to take everything out and get rid of the ten million coats and jackets in there. It's a moumental task...but it needs to be done.
Alrighty, here is the before

And here is the after. What do you think? Better?

Next week's tackle. The dining room. Specifically the overflow sewing stuff. It has to stay, but it needs to be less...well you know, all over the place.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday's meal

I like this recipe because it uses flour tortilla rather than the usual corn tortillas. Oh and since I recently stockpiled a bunch of chicken purchased inexpensively I've been dusting off some of my chicken recipes.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pint sour cream
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 (12 ounce) jar taco sauce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Drain excess fat. Cube the chicken and return it to the skillet. Add the onion, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in salt, tomato sauce, chili powder, green pepper and garlic. Roll even amounts of the mixture in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with taco sauce and Cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The perfect popper

I love popcorn and so do my kids. We go through a ton of microwave popcorn which can be fairly expensive. A blog post I read the other day got me thinking about the economics of popcorn and so began my quest for a thrifty alternative. I searched Craigslist and my usual thrift store haunts for a few week until I found a Presto Air Popper for $3 at the local Goodwill. There definitely is an art to getting great tasting air popped corn as opposed to tasteless bits of styrofoam. I've tweaked it with good results...yet I wasn't 100% satisfied. I continued my quest until I found it. It's the Nordicware microwave popper. It's awesome. I picked mine up at Target for $9 and it was money well spent. The popcorn is light and fluffy. You can use it with or without oil. I highly recommend it. In fact I'm having some popcorn right now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bloggy Love!!

I got an award! It's a "Thank You" award. I was thanked and now I am supposed to thank 10 other bloggers. They in turn thank ten others and link back to me!

Thanks Courtney of the uber awesome blog Sister to Sister. I just love your blog! It's so flattering to be honored by such a talented woman. You inspire me!

Now to thank 10 others. I am passing this along to you because I love your blogs too!

1. Dawn of Olabelhe
2. ChiChi of Where there's a will there's a way
3. Heather of Photography by HeatherK
4. Victoria of Sew Inspired
5. Melissa of Susie-Homemaker (or so I think)
6. BGIM of BlackgirlinMaine
7. Jennifer of Moving Hands
8. Jen of Jen-Knits
9. Kat of That darn Kat

Ok, so far I've only come up with nine...but I'll work on finding one more and adding those.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday!

Well...last weeks junk drawer cleanup was great. I'm so happy I did it. I do have 2 more drawers I'd like to go through, but all in all I was very pleased with my tackle. This week...the kitchen pantry. I need to rotate some dusty cans from the back and make my overstuffed pantry a bit more user friendly. I don't really have a system in place. But I'm going to get one. I may stop by Walmart or Dollartree and pick up a few baskets to help corral some more of the items. Maybe a couple of glass jars for sugar and rice, too. We shall see...anything is better than what was going on in there before, lol.

Here's the before

Here's the after

What do you think? I'd say it's much better. I moved all the canned goods to one shelf and put all the loose items in baskets. I used these little stackable plastic shelf thingies (technical term) to give me more shelf space on the bottom shelf since in my opinion the builder could have put one more shelf in that space since you end up with wasted space between the bottom two shelves. I couldn't believe how many canned goods I had because I couldn't visualize most of it. Now I can. Luckily I had done a major clean out about 8 month ago so there wasn't a ton to throw out. Anyway...loving the tackle. In fact, I'm now inspired to use this next month to cook from my pantry and freezer.
Next week's tackle? The dreaded hall closet of death, meaning an avalanche of coats could fall out and crush you to death.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday's meal

I know the holiday's are over, but in my opinion anytime is a good time for pie. One of my coworkers was kind enough to share her mother's pecan pie recipe with me. My absolute favorite pie in the entire world is a pecan pie...I think it's the filling. This has got to be the best one I've ever tasted. Enjoy and thanks LeighAnn for sharing it with me...and everyone else.

Pecan Pie

3 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp flour
8 tbsp evaporated milk
1 stick of butter (or margarine0, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix melted butter and sugar together by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in the flour and milk, mix well. Add vanilla and pecans. Pour into the unbaked pie shell and back for about 35 mins or until done.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's finished!

I can't believe that I finally, finally finished dd's quilt. I have to say I think it came out lovely even with the million mistakes I made. The binding is the wonkiest binding ever...but still it has it's charm. I can't believe I'm going to write this...but I've actually been thinking about doing a king size one for me and dh. I'll have to think about it a bit more and figure out what pattern and fabric I want to use. I think now that I've finished one and I know some things to do and NOT to might not be so torturous to do another one...but not today, today I will just enjoy the satisfaction of having finished my first quilt. Best of all Miss O. loves it so that is really all that matters.
I'll try and get a better picture of it as soon as I figure some way to suspend it. I wish we were allowed to have a clothesline in our neighborhood.