Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kitchen Benches - Part I

We have a very small kitchen in a very small duplex. The only complaint we have is the lack of storage in the kitchen  - we decided to create our own and hopefully be able to host 4 people comfortably at our table. Nate and I started to dream about how to do this. Should we make a cabinet, benches, or boxes? There are so many ideas and not a lot of space.

In the end we went with the benches. The house I grew up in had benches in the kitchen with TONS of storage underneath. I loved those benches, they where comfortable and when I ate at them I felt like I a roman goddess getting to eat while reclined. Which is probably why Mom & Dad always ended up sitting on the benches before us kids could.

Here is where we are going to put the benches:



All of the wood pictured here we got for free from Nate's employment: (holler!)



I spent this past Friday staining about half of that including the 100 1x2 slats....


The Habitat for Humanity ReStore has a great selection of stains and paints, so for $2 I got this sweet "Golden Oak" stain. I like it a lot!



And on Saturday, after drilling, sanding, staining, and checking measurements for hours all we got was this little preview:



But I love it already. Its going to be awesome to have storage and seating for more than just two! :-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Craft Room Chair

For a while now, if I wanted to sew or journal at my desk in my craft room, I would drag one of my kitchen chairs into the room. This was starting to get annoying to me, because 1. it was extra work 2. the chair didn't match my craft room design & 3. I kept hitting the chair in the door frame.( Fact: I am Klutz)

So I went thrifting for a new chair last weekend, and ended up getting this baby for $2.50. OH YEAH!

BEFORE:



The first thing I did was sand some rough spots, and then painted it an off white - instead of a yellow white.



And then I had to put on a new cushion:



THE AFTER:

And that was all! Took me about an hour of work to get this:


 Yes this is my messy craft room, and my half finished shirt on my lovely body form (her name is Mandy - the body form, not the shirt).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blackberry Ice Cream

There is a local fruit stand less than a mile from my house, and they have not only great food but great prices. This last week I splurged and got a quart of Blackberries for the Hubby for only $4.50.  He couldn't eat them fast enough and they were so ripe, they melted the minute you put them into your mouth.

So we decided to make some ice cream from them. We chose the classic Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Ice Cream recipe, and it was AMAZING!

Ingredients



  • 2 pints Fresh Blackberries

  • 1/2 whole Juiced Lemon

  • 1/4 cup Sugar

  • 1-1/2 cup Half-and-half

  • 1 cup Sugar

  • 5 whole Egg Yolks

  • 1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream


Preparation Instructions




Add blackberries to a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes. Drain using a fine mesh strainer, pressing berries to extract as much juice/puree as possible. Set aside.

Heat half-and-half and 1 cup sugar in a separate saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat when mixture is totally heated.

Beat egg yolks by hand or with an electric mixer until yolks are pale yellow and slightly thick. Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling into the 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly. After that, pour the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture into the pan containing the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook over low to medium-low heat (depending on how hot your stove gets) until quite thick, stirring constantly.

Add heavy cream to a separate bowl. Drain custard using a fine mesh strainer, then pour into the bowl with the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Add blackberry juice/puree to the cream/custard mixture and stir.

Chill mixture completely, then freeze in an ice cream maker until thick. Place container in freezer to harden for an additional two hours.

Evil variation: Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chunks before freezing. Delicious! * RECOMMENDED!*

Here are some pictures from the process:

[caption id="attachment_192" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_204" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Mixing the Custard and the Juice"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_203" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="After 30 min in the ice cream maker :-)"][/caption]

And then after a night in the freezer and added chocolate chips, there is this AMAZING creation (and I don't really like blackberries, but I LOVED this!):

[caption id="attachment_240" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Yummm!"][/caption]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Our New Tool - Kreg Jig Jr.

If you haven't heard of the Kreg Jig tool, and you are into woodworking, than you must live under a rock.The Kreg (as we call it) helps to drill pocket holes into wood that make joints stronger and screws less noticeable. (and yes that is woman description of the tool)

[caption id="attachment_211" align="aligncenter" width="269" caption="Kreg Jig = Love"][/caption]

Nate and I have been wanting a Kreg for a while now. But at $42 (and it needs special screws) - its a little bit costly.

So be finally bit the screw bullet, and bought a Kreg Jig Jr.

In case you are wondering how the Kreg Jig works, check out their sweet promo video:







Here are a couple pictures from the first use:

[caption id="attachment_195" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="The first holes"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_210" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Isn't it pretty?"][/caption]

So whats your favorite tool to use? Or whats on your tool wish list?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Re-Cap

What a busy weekend! We have a big kitchen nook/bench project going on right now, plus finishing up a few other projects - we were so busy this weekend.

Here are a few things that we worked on this weekend: (details to come later this week!)

[caption id="attachment_192" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_193" align="aligncenter" width="384" caption="Craft Room Chair Re-Do"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_195" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Playing with our new tool!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_194" align="aligncenter" width="448" caption="Lots of Staining"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_197" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Big Joann's Shopping Trip for Kitchen Benches"][/caption]

How was your weekend? I hope you stayed cool!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce Part II - (FAIL)

Ok. So my plan was to make lots of sauce and can at least two jars to use at a later time.... That didn't happen.

16 tomatoes only made enough for a family of four. FYI!

This post was supposed to be about canning, and its not. It is just a review of the pasta sauce. So if you want enought to can, make sure to use LOTS of tomatoes, like at least 40.

This was a delicious and very different pasta sauce. It was lighter and thinner and less salty that store bought. But over all I liked it, next time I would try de-seeding the tomatoes and adding a teaspoon on corn starch (at least). And oh yeah, use LOTS OF TOMATOES.

If you missed the recipe see click here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce (Part I)

As I have mentioned before, I am part of a CSA this year and get tons of fresh produce from the local farmers market each week. This week my farmer had lots of tomatoes that were over ripe and he couldn't sell, so he was letting the CSA people take as many as they wanted. I am not one to waste food, so I took a fair number (and note this is not all that I took since we are splitting the CSA with one of our friends!).



I have never made any kind of homemade tomato sauce, ever. So I did some research and started out on the adventure!(p.s. this part one only took me 50 minutes too, which is kinda long, but not too bad!)

For this recipe I based mine off of this one from allrecipes. Mine is a bit different- and much spicier. And I used 16 random heirloom tomatoes for this meal, but you can totally alter this recipe to fit how ever many tomatoes you have - just be sure you can fit them in the crock-pot!

STEP 1: Peel the Tomatoes

This is fairly easy and dare I say, fun?

Take out the stems and score an X on the bottom of the tomatoes.



Then put them into a pot of boiling water - I did 4 at a time and this worked out great!



Let them stay in for a minute or until the skin starts to wrinkle a bit. Then take them out and put them into an ice bath for another minute.


Take out and start peeling by pulling at the corners on the bottom where you put the X. They should come off very easily.



Now that hard part is done! I felt so accomplished after all of this!

STEP 2: Mix everything in a crockpot

Many other recipes say to remove seeds, chop, and crush the tomatoes at this point. I didn't do that, because 1) to de-seed 16 tomatoes is a lot of work and 2) I don't have something to crush them with. So all I did was Chop the tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients.

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 banana pepper

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or fresh)

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil ( or fresh!)

  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


And here is the the product:



Now let this simmer in the crock pot for 10-15 hours.

And that's the end of Part I! Stay tuned for Part II - the review of this method/recipe and  the canning experience.

 

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chalkboard Paint

For a while I have been reading a lot of blogs and projects that are using Chalkboard paint to make simple things way cool. I see if everywhere, on walls, on vases, on doors, on pictures, on cups, on everything.

Here are some inspiration pictures.


(the above are found at Little Birdie Secrets, Gobs of Giggles, & Apartment Therapy)


On a recent trip to a Salvation that was closing to renovate they had their picture frames all for $0.50. Heck yes. So I found one that I thought would be really cool to make into a chalk board for the kitchen! This is what I found:



Now I need to be the chalkboard paint,  I was only able to find it at Walmart unfortunately ( if want to know what I hate Walmart, just read this).  Anyway, I went there and it was only $9.99 for a quart jar.

So I started painting, here is the look after two coats (I didn't have a smaller roller which would have been ideal when using this paint! FYI!)



And now it is hanging on my bare kitchen wall. Don't worry I have big plans for this wall and this corner.





We just put this new (well new to us) light up .....



And the Hubby is working on some sweet benches for that corner :-)

P.s. In case you couldn't tell, I got my new Canon DSLR somewhere between painting and hanging it up :-) More on the new camera later....

 

Monday, July 18, 2011

DIY Lace Vase

Last winter I wanted to make some vases for cheap to use for Christmas Dinner. I came up with this sweet and inexpensive idea on how to make elegant vases with Goodwill glasses.

Materials:

  • Glass cups or jars  - $.50 each!

  • Lace ( I got my lace from the remnants rack at Hancock Fabrics –which is always 50% or more) I think there was a 1/4 yard in my packet. - $1.50 (Lace was originally $35 a yard…)

  • Hot Glue Gun – on a low setting


Total Cost: $2.50 (for both)

Steps:

  1. Clean cups really well.

  2. Cut Lace to fit your glass (or what you want covered) with a ½ in extra on top and bottom.

  3. Iron a ¼ in hem on the top and bottom.

  4. Then get ready to glue.

  5. I started with the bottom and glued the bottom of the lace to the jar – and then glued the seam – which should over lap or at least touch each other. And finally glue the top of the lace to the jar.

  6. Let dry and enjoy.




I think the best looking one is the one with the full lace! The great news is that I have tons more lace left!

Here is a close up:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Planners = Life

I went to an all girls high school. In this school we had to wear uniforms, everything had to be official:  shirt, skirt, socks, and shoes (yes, even shoes). We also were required taught to live and die by our school planner.

Ever since those fateful freshmen days when my planner become my life I have tired to break free from it. And I can't. I need a new planner every September. I need the clean pages, the monthly and weekly view, the notes, the world maps, and super cute covers. Its like a drug to me. Even now when I am out of school and work year round, every end of July I start wanting,looking, waiting for the perfect planner.

This year is no exception.
I want need a planner.
I need a monthly and weekly view.
I need a notes section and an address section.
I need it to be sturdy and cute.
And most important its need to fit in my purse (and yes I am willing to buy a larger purse to make sure it fits).

This year, I am on a strict budget. I really didn't want to spend more than $10, OK $15.  I looked around at the typical places : Day Timer, At-A-Glance, Borders, Office Depot, Target. And all the ones I found were OK, or not starting until January.  And the ones I liked were kinda expensive. Way over my $15 limit.

And then.... I.... Found.... momAgenda.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="700" caption="The Mecca of Planners"][/caption]

Amazing. If you haven't heard or seen momAgendas, check out these planners ASAP. I am not a mom, yet, so I won't be going for the big ($43) momAgenda - but they have other options for students (myPlan- $20) and working women (myAgenda - $36).

But the myAgenda is $36, WAY over my $15 limit. So being me, I checked out retailmenot.com. The best I could find was 10% off. Still over my budget. Then I saw momAgenda Rewards. Basically for every one that you refer to buy a momAgenda you get $10 (and they get 10% off). Who doesn't love that? I signed up - posted my code on retailmenot.com - and this morning I have $40 in my momAgenda Rewards account. AKA, all I have to pay for is shipping - $8.95.Which leaves me room to maybe even get the planner engraved (cost- $4.95)!

If you have the time to wait, check out this momAgenda Rewards. And if don't have the time, and really want a momAgenda use this 10% coupon:  mom83429 (don't enter it unitl the end of the checkout when it asks for any momAgenda Rewards codes).

So in a few days this baby will be mine:



I can't wait.

Are you addicted to a good planner like I am? What is your go-to brand?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy July 4th!

Happy Fourth of July EVERYONE!




I hope you are enjoying your day off and living it up with family and friends! I have had a wonderful vacation in Michigan and can't wait to get home and start working on some more projects!

- Mindy

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Craft(y) Table

Ever since I graduated from college I have found that I have a lot more free time and energy to do crafting projects. I like everything from sewing, to staining, to quilting, to knitting, you name it, I've tried it (even candle making)! Living in a 700 square foot apartment has made crafting very difficult. The truth is that I don't have that much space to just spread out and leave my projects out while I finish them. That why  I needed a craft(y) table.

I saw this craft table design on ana-white.com and I knew it would be prefect and that I could totally make something like that! I also had a feeling I could do it for cheaper than $150.00. I currently work at Habitat for Humanity, so  I went over the ReStore to see what I could find to use. I found two amazing things to use: a counter top and a book self with 6 cubbies!

When I saw these, I knew they would be great additions to my craft(y) table.  So I got them, $10 for both (WHAT A DEAL!).

Then I realized that I wanted my table to be hip height so I could work standing up. Thanks to my husband's awesome-ness, he helped build an extra row of cubbies into my shelf that way it would be the proper height.

All that was left was to build another side and screw it all together and paint it! Here are some pictures of the finished product. It still needs a lot of work and I need to figure out how to best store everything. But I love it, and use it all the time.



Final costs for the project:
Table Top: $5 @ReStore
Shelf: $5 @ReStore
Wood: $40
Screws (and Glue): $8
Paint: FREE!
TOTAL : $58

Now I have to work on keeping it clean and figure out how to arrange the rest of the craft/office/guest room.

One day I want to have a craft room that looks something like this:

Or this one,



Until that day comes....

-Mindy
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