Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rise for a Happy Day!

Hope you all have a happy day! Here's a little beauty I painted for a gal pal of mine! I wish you all love, a true non-harming peaceful love! Today along with the rest of the world I'm Rising!

& Love!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Embracing hole-ness

Making bagels for breakfast seemed like a natural choice since "Gaping Holes" seem to be the theme around here this week. The bathroom project is finally gaining momentum after 2 full days of demolition! While the bathroom decor choices may have been questionable, the installation of all those 70's fixtures was meant to last. Jess pulled no less than six million 4 inch nails out of the floors, walls and cabinets! We are almost ready to begin the tile stage and I couldn't be more excited! 

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful sunshine we are having here on the west coast! I'm enjoying mine on the deck with another cup of coffee!

& pass the cream cheese!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mastering the Bath

Can you guess who's gonna be showering at their neighbor's house for the next week?
Finally our long awaited master bath redo is upon us. Boxes and boxes of beautiful tile are stacked and waiting for their turn to shine! 

 The dark wood is certainly a departure from my usual love of painted cabinets but for this small space it just seemed right. This is the last of the renovations for our little house and I cannot wait to see it all together.

Wish us luck!
& pretty tile

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our Enchanted T.P.

Yep, that kind of t.p.
It seems my upcycling ways have rubbed off on my wee ones, because my oldest little fellow has been collecting T.P tubes from our house for months. Whenever we have guests he proudly drags out his giant bag  and dazzles them with his collection. For months I have been asking him what his tubular plans were, and for months he has refused to tell me. Well as of this very morning his bag was at absolute capacity and we decided it was high time we put all those tubes to good use.
It really is a great thing having kids, had I spent 6 months collecting tp tubes and then assembled them into a castle for any other reason I'd just look crazy! 

the proud architect! 

This well appointed abode quickly found a deserving family

And a staff of knights to protect it!

The King and Queen are enjoying settling into their new digs

and the royal pooch seems to be enjoying the view!

The king is planning on expanding his castle and a royal decree has been issued for more t.p. rolls!
What are you up to this sunny afternoon?

& Tubular Towers!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cake Mix Flare

Sometime I use cake mix. 
There I said it.
As much as I do prefer a cake made completely by scratch I really feel like in the end, a good "cake mix" cake is indistinguishable form an "all scratch" cake. Yesterday, after being invited to a neighbor's house for dinner I decided to whip up a cake to share. Here's where that handy cake mix comes in. It literally took me five minutes to prep this mix and get it into the oven (well actually it's seven if you count the 2 minutes I spent whimpering after burning my leg on my oven door) but all the same under 10 minutes to get this baby in the oven!
Now I am well aware of the 10 gazillion cake recipes here on the internet but with the addition of flax and marmalade, this little beauty was just too good to not share so here we go...

Spiced Pear Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The beauty of this cake is that it is so flexible, You can add as much or as little spice as you want. I almost never use the oil a cake mix calls for, instead I will use either sour cream or yogurt. Sometimes if I am in a particular rush I will just use "Pumpkin Pie spice" in lieu of using all the spices individually. making the cake  a little healthier without the oil always makes me feel a little bit better about piling on the cream cheese frosting, but you could omit the frosting all together as the sliced pears at the bottom of the cake do make their own yummy glaze. Any which way you do it just do it, and enjoy this amazing treat!

For the cake:
1 box spice cake mix
1-2 fresh pears sliced (or) 1 can good quality canned pears
1 1/4 c. apple juice (or) water
1/3 c sour cream (or) greek yogurt
3 eggs
2 tbsp. marmalade 
1/3 c. ground flax
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. Vanilla extract

For the cream cheese frosting:
1 package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/4 c. or half a cube of butter
powdered sugar (I don't measure but somewhere in the 1 1/2-2 c. range)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Begin by prepping your pans and turning your oven to 350 degrees. I lined two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper and said to heck with greasing anything! Next I sprinkled some brown sugar and cinnamon in the parchment lined pans and arranged my sliced pears on top of the cinnamon sugar mix. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer go the cake mix, spices and ground flax. I like to mix a little to get all the flax incorporated. Add the water, sour cream, vanilla and marmalade and mix it up. You may not be a marmalade fan but I happen to have 8 jars or marmalade that need to be eaten so in it went. The orange does provide a really delicate flavor but feel free to leave it out. I like to add my eggs 1 at a time after all the other wet ingredients and then mix up the whole heavenly scented batter for a minute or two. carefully pour the batter into the 2 pans and bake about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the middle comes out clean. I chose to make cream cheese frosting which only involves dumping all the frosting ingredients into the mixer and whipping it up, easy peasy! Allow cakes to cool completely before flipping them and peeling off the parchment because those amazing gooey pears are hot! Frost your cakes and enjoy!

& cake for breakfast!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Paper hauntings

Today is one of the best days of the year! It's October 1st!

October is my favorite month of all, and not just because it's my birthday month! This week I'll be spookifying my entire house and today I'll be making some fun paper decorations like this one. Rather than scary store-bought goods, most of our Halloween decorations are handmade by the kids and I. I love the child like whimsy of this season so naturally I like to hang up the paper ghosts and bats my kiddos make rather than more gruesome ones.
I found this forever ago on here from pinterest and have been waiting to finally make it! I am also going to add a bat, a witch, a vampire and maybe even a pirate!

What fun decorations are you planning?

& paper spells

Friday, September 28, 2012

Adventures in Budget Renovations- Doors and more (part 2)

A few days ago I showed you the first parts of  us finishing up our kitchen which entailed relocating our washer and dryer, installing an on demand hot water heater on the outside of our house and adding a deck from the door to nowhere around to the existing deck. Part 2 of our seemingly never ending kitchen renovation begins with the installation of that beautiful door you see in the horrid photos below. I do apologize, but there is just no way to stage construction photos.
With that fabulous new door in we could finally turn our attention to removing the large bank of cabinets that used to live over our washer and dryer. These cabinets did offer a TON of storage but at 18" deep they stuck too far out into the already limited space, so down they came!
*since these were impressively sturdy cabinets we decided to re-purpose them as garage storage*

 just look at all that visual space! 

Once the offending cabinets (shown here on the floor waiting to be carried to their new home) had come down from the wall we began planning a shallower pantry cabinet to fill this wall. After sketching and debating for several days Jess finally set to work building my pantry, eek!

At 7' tall and 5' wide this is a much more suitable fit for this space!

Here is the beginnings of the new pantry cabinet. In order to make the best use of the limited space we have in our kitchen we opted for a shallower floor to ceiling pantry. The new cabinet measures just 13" deep but with six shelves we are sure we will have ample storage for everything. Personally I find it is a lot easier to keep a shallow pantry tidy rather than the extra deep ones that things get lost in!

Here is the cabinet as of this morning. Hopefully by this weekend it will be finished and then I can fill/sand/prime and paint while Jess starts on the doors. 

We are off this weekend on a camping trip with my son's school, which is perfect timing since the sawdust and tools are really starting to get old!

I hope you also have a fabulous weekend!
& sawdust!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Adventures in budget renovations- doors and more (part 1)

Way back in January I showed you the unsightly side of our kitchen in this post. Back then our washer, dryer and behemoth hot water heater were all still looming large in my small kitchen. But all that was okay by me because they were blocking the door that lead to a 10 foot drop to the ground below. The door had been blocked off and useless since the previous owners of our home tore down the rotting deck it once opened on to. 
looking a little cramped, right?

yup, that's a door back there!

Rebuilding the deck was on the top of our list since it is not only a mega hazard and an eye sore, but would keep a bank from financing our home when we sell it. Before we could even think about building the deck we had to relocate the washer and dryer to our garage. This meant running all new plumbing out to the garage, thank goodness all our plumbing is under our home and not run through the walls! While the garage may not be the most glamorous place to do laundry, it was the only real option in our tiny 1200 sf. home.

After those monsters were removed we installed our *new* fancy on demand hot water heater. You may remember that in January's post I spoke about how we had gotten a "gently used" on demand hot water heater...well long story short we got it installed and that darn "gently used" water heater was a lemon. After shelling out several hundreds of dollars more for a brand spanking new one I made the hubby swear to not make anymore large purchases off craigslist! After I finally quit fuming over our water heater folly it was time to get to work connecting the door to nowhere to the rest of our beautiful redwood deck.
Here is the outside of the soon-to-be door to somewhere
(don't worry this doug fir lumber was slathered with that nasty green weather proofing/bug proofing stuff before we added the decking)

all built by this handsome man!

here is a messy but finished view from the old deck to the new, if you look between the grey storage box and the blue ice chest (classy, right?) you can see where the darker, older stained wood stops and the lighter newer wood begins. 

we actually only had to add about 12 feet of deck to tie it into the existing deck but since it is quite a ways up in the air it took several summer afternoons and weekends to get it all finished. Jess has, of course, done 97% of the work on this project, leaving me just the painting and sanding and such. Having to learn as we go has been hard but it is really amazing to see how far our construction skills have come since we started! 

Tomorrow I'll be back with the second part of this huge project. This week has been crazy busy and the never ending construction in our kitchen has of course left our house upside down! Currently the entire contents of our pantry cabinets are on our kitchen table, and our kitchen counters are covered with  drills, levels, screws and plaster dust! We are almost there, and someday soon I'll be able to say that I have a FINISHED kitchen!

& Patience!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I {heart} Funky Furniture

There are ups and downs to living in a college town. For instance, Craigslist is always picked over which means getting your hands on a real craigslist treasure is hard to do without paying well over the list price. Also, the furniture section is a constantly rotating selection of  saggy threadbare sofas and particle board desks. But there are up's too...Sometimes you are able to score an amazing piece of cabinetry that is not only nearly free but also holds some of our college town's history.
Complete with high gloss hunter green paint, a suspicious smelling drawer and 11 unmatched antique glass knobs...stunning isn't she!

As soon as I saw the blurry photo of her on Craigslist I called my husband and told him it had to be mine, and he had to pick it up on his way home from work. The gal he got it from said it had been in her family for a long time but she had no idea where it came from.
Once it was home I started cleaning and cleaning and cleaning that's when I discovered the little brass plaque on the side that said 'Cal Humboldt' with an inventory #. This bedraggled beauty had been a part of a college laboratory, and I even remembered seeing something similar in one of the geology labs. Judging by the construction I think it is from the late 20's or early 30's. The unmatched glass knobs and streaky green color had been added later by the mother of the woman we purchased it from.
Out came my old fashion Milk Paint in Snow White and I set to work with a vision 
(one my hubby had trouble seeing!)
As many of you know milk paint does not require primer, but I did lightly sand this high gloss piece and then wipe it down with TSP substitute. I painted 3 thin coats of milk paint sanding lightly between each coat, as I wanted to build up the paint for a more durable finish. After painting, sanding and distressing I waxed the piece with an old T shirt and Trewax furniture wax.

For the hardware I chose to re-use most of the beautiful antique glass knobs, but for the top 3 drawers I used some antique chrome bin pulls my mother in law gave me a few years back. I love the way the chrome bin pulls remind me of it's collegiate past while the sparkly glass knobs add a little pop of contrast.

I love the way the piece looks weathered and funky without looking too contrived. The former green color peeks through the white paint in just enough places and the soft focus quality of the milk paint really add a much needed texture to my living room.

I get such a kick telling people that my husband and I share an alma mater with this chest, and since we do not display diplomas around here it's a great reminder of the the musty classrooms and labs we spent years in!
Sharing at:
 Furniture Feature Friday
& rollerskates!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Going Crackers

The last time I was at the store putting a pack of $5 flat bread crackers into my basket I thought to my self, "Self, you know you could make a whole pile of these tasty flatbread crackers for next to nothing!" 
So with a sigh I put my delicious albeit spendy crackers back on the shelf and swore to not buy them again until I at least tried to make them at home. 
A quick pinterest search turned up a whole lotta cracker recipes but nothing that was really jumping out at me, so as usual I decided to wing it! The first 2 rounds through the oven were too thick and ended up with more of a wheat thin texture despite the fact that I had rolled them to less than an 1/8th of an inch with my rolling pin. With very sore arms (that dough is really tough to roll out!) I turned to my faithful old Atlas Pasta roller and cranked out the rest of the dough on the #6 setting. The resulting cracker was perfectly thin, crispy and my my arms were saved! If you do not have a pasta roller you'll just need a bit more elbow grease to get them to that deliciously thin texture.

Rosemary, Sea salt and Flax Crackers

For crackers:
2 3/4 c. unbleached flour 
1/4 c. ground flax seeds
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2-3/4 c. water
for topping:
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary finely chopped
1/4 c. sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.
Mix flour, flax meal, salt & pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer. Once combined add water and olive oil and mix until dough just stays together. You can do this by hand without a mixer but since the dough is so dry it takes a while.
Separate dough into several small balls and roll out either by hand or with pasta bike until desired thickness is reached. Transfer the thin dough sheets to parchment lined cookie sheets and spray lightly with olive oil spray or other cooking spray. Sprinkle chopped rosemary and salt over the top of the crackers and use either a pizza cutter, pasta cutter or just plain old knife to slice into what ever cracker shape strikes your fancy. Bake for approx 10 minutes or until they are brown around the edges. Allow the crackers to cool and enjoy! The delicate little things store best in a zip top bag or something to keep them from going stale.

These tasty snacks can be made in any combination of flavors, next time I'm thinking black pepper & lavender or sun-dried tomato & basil! These go great with a glass of wine and a bit of cheese and some spicy salami or just straight outta the bag while the kids are napping!

& Fancy Crackers!
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