Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to squeeze in a mudroom

More progress on our stairwell! What I haven't told you is that we are going to turn it into a mini-mudroom. We used to have a row of hooks in our butler's pantry to hang coats, but it really wasn't a convenient place. I have also been starting to see the top of our stairs as wasted space recently. It's just a little corner, but those are precious square feet! When you have a small home, you have to find those places and figure out how to make them functional. It's right next to the door, so I decided it makes a lot more sense to put the mudroom area there.

I had admired this take on the mudroom awhile back, but we didn't have a closet I could use for that. At least not anywhere NEAR the door. I definitely wanted a seat in our mudroom but didn't know how I could work it in. Here's what I came up with and what we have so far:

I took the hooks off the IKEA hook rack we bought for our butler's pantry, and screwed them into the boards that were already on the wall, and then Mr. Wonderful helped me cut the board for the seat and fitted it with some extra boards on the bottom to raise it up off the cords that run under it. I covered the board with some repurposed quilt batting and fabric and used our new staple gun (thanks, K!) to staple the fabric down. Just a little seat for putting your shoes on. Because it is in the corner, it doesn't block your way down the stairs at all. There are a few more things to do before I want to be done with this space, but I'm excited about the progress!
Cost: hooks--$6 (five are repurposed, two are new from HD)
paint--free (leftover)
seat--free (leftover wood, batting and fabric. We were gifted a staple gun, though I did have to buy staples for it)
I would love to use some bead board, but I'm not sure how that would work. It definitely needs some more color, maybe a pillow for the seat, but I'm excited about how it is going so far.
AND I'm linking to DIY Day (The Finale! :0( ) ETA: I'm linking up to the Lettered Cottage!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Sew, I have some news...

I bought a sewing machine! I'm super excited about it. I got it for $30 from an older lady who was moving out of her apartment. It doesn't sound like it has been used too much. It looks a lot like the one my mom had growing up, so it might not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it's familiar. I didn't do very much sewing at all apart from my home ec classes in junior high, but I was surprised at how much I remembered. Thanks, Mrs. Puffy (yup, Mrs. Puffy). As a side note, in junior high I sewed a pillow shaped like a cyclops. A staple of fashionable decor.

For my next project (after cyclops pillow) I decided to make some cloth wipes for Ava. We already use cloth diapers, but we have been using paper towels sprayed with water for her wipes so far. Having a diaper pail AND a garbage seemed silly, the more I thought about it.

So a friend from church gave me some sherpa, and I repurposed some flannel sheets I already had. I cut them to match and put the wrong sides together. I made some 8x8s, but then made some of different sizes with the scraps. Then I did a zigzag stitch around the edges. Easy, but a major feat for me. I had to learn to thread the machine, bring the thread up from the bobbin (hate the bobbin), change the foot, figure out why 3 threads would come up from the bobbin sometimes, and just get the feel for my new machine. Ignore my toes in the picture, m'kay? Oh, and if you're wondering about the black thread, it was an artistic choice. It has nothing to do with my hatred for the bobbin and my reluctance to change it. Oh, and the wipes have been working GREAT! I could kick myself for waiting so long!

And a picture for Grandma. A new hat picture!
And yes, she is as delightful as she looks!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Before and After--Me!

I LOVE before and afters. I love seeing the transformation of a room, a wall, an item or a person. I spend a lot of time thinking of how I can improve my home and envisioning what different options will look like. I love reading bloggers who flip houses and do amazing things with reasonable budgets. I actually struggle with how much time I spend on this stuff. I have to limit myself or I'd easily spend all my free time on it.

It occurred to me yesterday that it points to the difference Christ has made in my life. One small illustration of His grace in my life. I am definitely not a perfect person, and I can't give you a time and date of my salvation, but I have been changed! Even better than those pages in a glossy magazine. (Did you catch YHL's blog post about the photo shoot at their house? Using dish clothes to make the towels fluffier? Shocking! Makes me feel better that my house doesn't look like a magazine!) I am a totally NEW creation. Not just a re-do of the old me!

When I was thinking aobut this, one big change that stood out to me is that God has taken away all sorts of bitterness from me. There was a time in my life when I really harbored bitterness and was easily offended. I was angry. It's something that God has just routed out. And I'm thankful. Just one example of my before and after story. :0) Feel free to share what God has changed in you!

Friday, May 7, 2010

PROGRESS. Feels good.

Here's a bit of an update on the dreaded stairwell. Details of the nasty before pictures can be found hereI apologize for the lighting. There are currently no working lights in the stairwell. I used classic taupe by Behr, because we had it already. It's okay. But in the wrong light it looks like the dusty rose I had in my bedroom ca. 1987 when I "designed" my bedroom. The pink bunny room. Not exactly what I was going for here, so I'll just choose to view it through taupe colored glasses.

I know, this hardly looks like an after picture, but it truly truly looks much better. We don't really want to put up new drywall or do a major overhaul, but the paint really brightened up the space.

I researched how to paint a stairwell and extension ladder safety, so I was pretty confident in my ladder technique, but I was still sweating bullets when I painted the stairwell. It was scary! And I'm not even really scared of heights. I was so tense that I felt like I had pulled muscles the next day. It was crazy. But anyway...

Set the feet of the ladder against a stair (or better yet a wall), making sure the feet are even and flat against the ground. Make sure it is not too vertical. And the top goes against the opposite wall. *DO NOT TAKE THIS AS EXPERT ADVISE. TAKE PROPER PRECAUTIONS WHEN YOU USE A LADDER*
I had to get rid of some mildew on the cement blocks before I primed (Kilz) and painted.

I sprayed this mixture of one part bleach to three parts water on the mildew and let it sit 10 minutes before wiping it of with water.

I've got some other plans in the works for the stairwell to make it a utilized space. I'm really excited about it, AND I got to use a table saw for the first time! Woohoo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fake it Don't Make it Orange Chicken Bowl

Mr. Wonderful really likes a dish at Applebee's called the Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl. I googled it, and found this recipe. It was great, except that it took a day to get the oil off the floor, stove and the smell out of the house. I avoided making the recipe because of frying the chicken. So we decided to try something new. Here's the new recipe.

Two boxes of breaded chicken fingers
1 T olive oil
1 t. minced garlic
1 1/2 t. grated orange rind
1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. hoisin sauce
dash cayenne pepper
1/4 cup sugar
dash of salt and pepper
Cook the chicken as directed on box while you prepare the glaze. Warm the oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with a stir fry.

I tried this last night and it worked great! Much easier than frying the chicken. Bon Appetit!