Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Before and After + a Fall "Mantel"

Thanks for joining me for the Laura Ingalls party! I had a blast reading the posts and always marvel at how much one can learn from bloggers. And I'm glad Nellie Olson didn't come. :0)

I finally have gotten to the point where I feel like I'm pretty much done with the "mudroom". I may come back to it in the future if I have any spare beadboard or trim, but I decided not to go out and buy it special. I dressed it up for fall and it feels finished to me! Yay!

Here is the grizzly "before". This is just the top of our stairs, what you see if you turn left when you enter our back door. Welcome to our home, right?:I gave the mildew a scrub down with bleach, fresh primer and paint, new baskets/tags, hooks, a corner seat, and accessories!!!

I seriously hardly ever get to accessorize. No room for it. Here are some fall leaves from our yard:

Pine cones, berries and a fern from our yard:

The mirror used to hang in my sister's and my closet (is that right, Grammar Police?) when we were kids. It is from an old wardrobe. I've been trying to use it in our house, but it's VERY heavy and I couldn't find a good spot for it. I like it here!

It's kind of a difficult spot to photograph, but hopefully you get the picture. (wah-wah). We've been using this area more and more as it's gotten colder and I really love it. It has also become the place to store our library books throughout the week, which is handy and cute too!
Happy Autumn, all!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Get Your Laura Ingalls On Party

Well the day is here! I decided on something really simple. Like bread and butter simple.

Over the weekend we visited my folks and enjoyed another installment of Ally-take-your-stuff-home-you're-almost-30-why-do-we-still-have-some-of-your-stuff???? Thankfully, she also offered me this cookbook that I remember from when I was a kid. It's an old Discovery Toys cookbook. When I saw the "recipe" for making butter, I thought it would be cool to try. Here are my tools:
All we did was put a tablespoon of whipping cream in a baby food jar and shake it. The book has more activities to go along with it but they were a little advanced for Ava. In fact, she wasn't sure at first:

But then she at least picked up the jar:

I tried some of the butter on bread. It was kind of like fancy whipped butter that you get at weddings. But it was also one step away from being whipped cream, which kind of weirded me out. But it was pretty good. Not exactly churning Laura Ingalls-style, but whatevs.

I've also been making bread. I started a few weeks ago with regular bread, but we're trying Ava on a dairy-free diet to see if it clears up her eczema, so now I'm making dairy-free bread. From this recipe. Here's the yeast chilling in the soy milk:

A picture of my adorable mixer. (Thx,Fatmessers!)

Rising dough:

And loaves! I actually really am enjoying the bread baking. The kneading, the rising, all of it!

So I can't get logged into Linky Tools, so let's not overthink this. Just post a comment with a link to your post! Looking forward to see what you came up with!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pump Up the Jam. And the Pillows.

Hey all,

So kind of a silly project. At least I feel silly for caring, but c'mon look at these pillows! Flat as pancakes. Not very inviting. Just sad, sad pillows. I mean, in the swing of things not a big deal, but I just wanted fluffier pillows! So I took the cases off:
One was from Ikea, one was from Kohl's. Circa...2005. Maybe pillows just get flat over time. I tried fluffing them by hand, but I decided to bulk them up with some extra batting I had after taking apart a quilt.
Here they are in their new pumped up state!

Silly? Yes, but I like it!
Don't forget--Get Your Laura Ingalls On party tomorrow. Link up! I'll have instructions on how to do it on the post.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Multitude Monday

Hey there,

I decided to join Ann Voskamp and some other ladies in the simple act of counting and naming our blessings. They do this on Mondays. It is a way to remember the goodness of God. Sounds so simple, but I miss it so often. So here we go:

#1. Second chances. Third, fourth.....

#2. A heavy crocheted blanket to huddle under (man, it's cold out today!)

#3. A financially saavy husband

#4. Going back to the start.

#5. The quiet of naptime.

#6. Bras that fit. A little TMI maybe, but to a post-nursing mom (or nursing, or pregnant, etc.) this can be such a big deal!

#7. Getting a break from sharing my body (see above.)

#8. The anticipation of a visiting friend.

#9. Busting a move on the dance floor.

#10. Celebrating with a family who needed a good celebration. Congratulations, Jen and Alex!

It's been a real wild week. Ava is teething and we're experiementing with different kinds of milks which seems to have led to some gastrointestinal fun as well. She's just not herself these days, and that has had it's difficult moments for Mr. Wonderful and I. All the more reason to recognize the ways God is amazing.

I wanted to note as well that the Get Your Laura Ingalls On party is not just for experts! I hope you'll link up even if it's just something that you're trying for the first time, which is what I plan to do. I'm off to make the most of the rest of naptime... :0)

holy experience

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Toweling ON.

Ever since finding doe-c-doe , I've taken quite a liking to embroidery. It hits me right in my rather retro sensibilities, I guess. So when I saw this book in the library I picked it up. It gives a pretty good play by play for a lot of different projects. I found a plain flour sack drying towel in our stash and decided to embellish it with the adorable apple on the front cover. But I didn't want to use fabric, so I just used the embrodery around the fabric.

The instructions said to trace the design on tissue paper. I figure there is probably fancy craft tissue paper, but I just used some from our impressive stash of gift tissue paper.
Cute, no?
Thankfully I still had a hoop left over from our front entry project. I fit the fabric in:

It took me about 2 hours to stitch. It was a little hard to decipher the stitch from a book description, but I think I got it. And if it's wrong...well, I guess I've never heard of the embroidery police, so I guess I'm ok. My stitches are probably terribly big, ala Laura Ingalls, but again. No embroidery police.
After I was done I carefully tore away the tissue paper...

And here's what I came up with! It was a fun little project. I did it all in one extra long naptime.

I like the way it looks on our island!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Come to my Party? Please?

So, my friend Beth made a comment on one of my posts that gave me an idea. One of the things I have been doing as a stay-at-home mom is trying to be more self-sufficient. Buying less convenience foods, making or repairing things instead of buying. Making our tiny house work for us. Etc. It makes me feel like Laura Ingalls sometimes. Did you ever read those books? I did. I read the series maybe four times. No joke.

So I thought it would be fun to have a "Get your Laura Ingalls On" party. This might be a bad idea, since it's not like I have a million followers, but I thought it would be fun to hear and learn from you guys about ways you are more self-sufficient. Do you make your own amazing pie crust? Can you milk a cow? Knit? Construct? I'm not going to be picky.

So what you do is write a blog post (or find an old one) about your really cool ability, and sometime between now and then I'll figure out how to set up a McLinky. On the day of the party, you link up your post to my McLinky.

Now I'm going to set up an arbitrary date. How about September 24th? It's a Friday. I don't know how to make a button, but if you think this is a cool idea spread the word and we can all be Laura Ingalls together on Sep. 24th. Unless you want to be Mary, Carrie or Grace. Or Ma. Or Michael Landon. I'm not gonna judge. :0) September 24th: Get Your Laura Ingalls On Party. Be There!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

LATDTC Recommends...

When I got married, I inherited a child. His name is Bizimana. Pete sponsors him through Compassion. Sadly, I haven't gotten to know him much, but Ann Voskamp's series of posts from Guatemala City have opened my eyes to how special it could be to do so. When I opened up this post, I was excited about some new project to try and make my house prettier. Reading it made me see our little house for what it is: a clean, safe, provision from God. Ann is a gifted writer, and we all need perspective. Happy reading!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coffee Talk

As you may have read in this post, I have several unfinished projects around the house, nagging at the back of my mind and preventing me from starting some other projects I'm interested in doing. I was hoping to finish them this past weekend, but of course it didn't happen. But I did finish ONE of them. A big one.

I found this table in Mr. Wonderful's basement after we got married. I love the lines in the legs and the squares on the top. We used it upstairs for awhile. It worked great for playing games, but it is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too big for our 10x10 living room. It was also in pretty rough shape. It had a thick amber shellac on it that was chipping in a lot of places. So I decided to refinish it. If I had my way, it would have probably been painted. But Mr. Wonderful didn't want to cover up the wood, so I planned to refinish it, forgetting that I was 8 months pregnant and shouldn't be using poisonous chemicals. Preggo brain, right? So that didn't happen. It has been sitting in our garage half-done for 16 months.

Until now! I used chemicals, sandpaper, a sander, a profile sander, a Dremel, a drywall scraper thing and even a flat head screwdriver to sand, scrape, chip and wish that thick amber shellac away. It was not a scientific process. It was not always pretty and I'm not even sure I got it all. But here's what it looked like when I decided to just hope for the best. I actually kind of like it like this. It reminds me of old leather:
(check out the saw horses I got for Mr. Wonderful. $5 at a rummage sale. They saved my back some aches and pains)
Here it is after 1 coat of Red Mahogany:

I read in a post somewhere that vegetable oil gets oil based paints off your hands. It did a pretty good job, and I was thrilled to not have to put mineral spirit on my hands!

The table now lives in the man cave where it has room to run around. I love how the grain of the wood alternates:

I put two coats of polyurethane on it. I think it's improved and its DONE!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Move Over Oprah...

...this is one of MY favorite things!

It's called Bean Salsa. Some people might call it Cowboy Caviar, but I think Bean Salsa is a little more sophisticated. And there is less association with the eating of fish eggs, which sounds DISGUSTING to me.

I got the recipe from my mom, but I'm not sure where she got it. I LOVE this stuff. When eaten with tortilla chips, it is a beautiful marriage of salty and sweet. It's a struggle to limit myself when I eat it...which can be a problem...anyway, here's the recipe.

1/2 cup sugar (I use less)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Mix together and pour over the following finely chopped ingredients:

1 green pepper (any color is great, really)
1/2 white onion
2 green onions (if you have 'em)
2 fresh cilantro leaves (not stems)
2 fresh garlic cloves (or 2 t. minced garlic)

Drain and add:
One can black-eyed peas
One can pinto beans
one can shoepeg corn
Mix all ingredients and serve with tortilla chips (scoops are the best)
Better the second day. It ages like a fine wine. :0)

Shoepeg corn is by the other corn. I don't know what's so special about it. For black-eyed peas, nothing beats Sylvia's. Sylvia claims to be "the queen of soul food" and I believe her. I tried using other brands, or using dried black-eyed peas and it wasn't NEARLY as good. I don't know what Sylvia puts in her "specially seasoned" peas, but they are ah-ma-zing and worth the money. Here's what it looks like all stirred up. It makes a TON, so I'd suggest making it for a party or giving some away. Especially if your silly but wonderful husband won't eat it. Otherwise you might end up eating the whole bowl. Which I wouldn't suggest. Not that I've ever done that.

I'll probably be linking up to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dirty Laundry

Well hello!

I am making sure and steady progress on my projects, but today I am going to divert us to a new one. The other day I was balancing the Quicken files and reconciling receipts. I noticed that the last time we bought laundry soap, it cost us $13! Apparently Tide has gold flakes in it or something. I was instantly motivated to get going on learning how to make our own laundry soap. At least to try.

We bought an HE washer before Ava was born. Partly because we wanted to cloth diaper, and partly because we needed a new washer anyway and there really is no comparison between top loading washers and HE washers when it comes to water efficiency. Seriously. We love it.

So after browsing some tutorials online, I decided on liquid soap. It can just go in the regular detergent drawer. This recipe is supposed to be low-sudsing (which is apparently why you need to buy special HE soap in the first place) which will also make it great for washing diapers. If diapers get soap built up, they won't absorb. If they don't absorb, they leak. If they leak, I cry. (Just kidding. Mostly.)

I used this tutorial (which is fabulous.) It really has all the info you need, but here's my step-by-step. First I grated some Ivory soap with a cheese grater: Put about four cups of water in a kettle. I was feeling really hard core and used a stock pot. Turns out that is totally unnecessary. You can just use a regular pot. Little by little put the soap flakes in and stir until it gets nice and soapy.
Put 3 gallons of water in a container. In case you were wondering, a gallon is 16 cups. I used my 4 cup measuring cup, so 12 of these puppies: (right? I hope so. Math is hard, let's go shopping.)

Add your soap soup from the pot to the water in the bucket. Then you add a cup of washing soda. (Yes, that's right, Walmart employee who tried to sell me baking soda instead. I want Washing soda.) Turns out washing soda is hard to find. But a friend of mine tipped me off that they carry it at a local grocery store (County Market, but I've also heard they carry it at IGA). You can also order it at Ace Hardware and they'll ship it to the store for free.
Oops, my bad. It's "super" washing soda.

Then a half-cup of Borax. Borax is a little easier to find. We got ours at Target or Walmart or something.

Then you stir it all up in your container and let it sit for 24 hours. From what the tutorial says, we should enjoy a significant cost savings. $.03/load as opposed to something like $.20/load. That's pretty serious! We will miss the gold flakes in Tide though. :0)

I read on the tutorial that you can often get buckets like this at delis, so I tried at a grocery store. And they gave me one! AND the lady saw Ava and asked if she could have a c-o-o-k-i-e. I said she could and they gave us a free cookie too! It was quite a haul at the grocery store today.
So there you have it! It was really easy. I hope it does the trick.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Loose Ends

Hi all,

Well I finished a major portion of my business start-up today and got it in the mail. And my mind immediately went to....projects! Big surprise, huh?

I realized that I have a lot of unfinished projects hanging around. I don't like the feeling of having them hanging over my head, so I made a list. (Love lists!)

I started this filing cabinet last winter, and came up against some roadblocks, which I think I have figured out to address. (Sorry the pictures stinks. Ava was sleeping and I wasn't going to take a chance to turn on the light. She's the lightest sleeper ever.) Here is the entryway as it looks today (you'll see that I didn't clean up before taking any of these pictures.) I have a few more ideas to add to this space.
I took a trip in July. Look what Mr. Wonderful was up to while I was away! He designed this shoe rack with CAD (a computer program) last winter and started it while I was gone. It fits perfectly in our entryway.
So, funny story. I took some maternity leave before Ava was born, and got really nesty. As in, I cleaned the stove top with a tooth pick and a q-tip. No joke--and what a difference! Anyway, I thought it would be a good time to tackle refinishing our coffee table. This huge monstrosity:
Once it was out in the garage, I realized that all the chemicals involved were probably NOT a good thing to expose to my pregnant self! So guess what. It went on the honey-do list (isn't that totally jerky?). And then Ava was born and we had no time for it and it's been sitting in our garage. Well the time has come, my friends. It's not sitting in there for another winter! So I'm doing a little at a time during naps.

So there you have it. Four projects I want to finish! There are a few others that I want to do before winter (too cold to work in the garage) and I MADE myself promise I wouldn't start any new ones before I finished these.

I think fall is so motivating! I was feeling really lazy about stuff and then I started seeing posts about fall and it got cooler for a couple days and I was reading a fall issue of Taste of Home and then I just got crazy with project lust! Poor Mr. Wonderful. He's in for a productive weekend! :0)