Monday, November 29, 2010

Storage Shelves

I like shelving.  It uses perfectly good vertical space for storage and it can be pretty.
My laundry room used to have a large wooden cabinet in it, but with the gigantic counter I installed from this previous post, there isn’t room for the cabinet anymore.  Therefore, I decided to put in two shelves for cleaning supplies.  I used the same glued on edge shelving that I used for the counters, but they are only 12 inches deep.  The shelves looked a little “weak” so I beefed them up by gluing and finish nailing 1 x 2 poplar boards on the ends first and then one across the front. 
Next I filled in any gaps with wood filler and sanded the shelves smooth. 
I painted the shelves with the same Valspar “Betsey’s Linen” color that I used on the counters.  But to spice them up a bit, I taped off a skinny stripe using Frog tape and painted it with the same glossy red acrylic paint I used on my counter stenciling. 
Peel off the tape after two coats dry and follow with two coats of polycrylic sealer and they are ready to be put up!  I used two double slot tracks and two brackets per shelf. 
My hubby helped put these up because I was afraid I would miss the stud and they would be crooked.  Well guess what…he missed.  I totally could have done that myself.  Hehehe.
Once they are secured to the wall, they are ready for the shelves to be put on and secured.  I think the beefed up edges and stripes give them a little something extra.
You can see the pile of laundry already on the counter under the shelves.  I couldn’t wait for total completion of this project before doing more laundry, or I’d be buried under the clothes.
Now the shelves are nice and sturdy to hold my various jugs, bottles, and boxes of cleaning supplies.  I have plans for some fabric totes, but that’ll have to wait for “some other day.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pineapple and Chicken Quesadillas with Homemade Tortillas

Last nights dinner was delicious.  The kids even asked for more.  That’s big feat when both of them eat everything on their plate AND say they liked it. 
I used recipes from two websites and brought them together for totally yummy-ness.
First I made homemade flour tortillas from here.  The Homesick Texan blog and this recipe was brought to my attention by a friend of mine.  I have made these a few times now and it shocks me how easy they are. 
Mix everything together with my Kitchenaid.
Let it rest and then cut into 8 pieces.  Let those rest again and roll them out.  (I don’t measure things and I also can’t roll out a perfect circle…they taste just as good in awkward shapes!)
Grill them in a hot, dry pan for about 30 seconds or so each side.  (this one is REALLY not round!)
Then I used these instructions from the Pioneer Woman website here.
Basically you grill pineapple and chicken, chop it up and layer them with cheese and barbeque sauce on one tortilla and top it off with another.  I microwaved them for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese because I didn’t want to burn my tortillas or add a bunch of butter to the pan to toast it more. 
There is nothing like these homemade tortillas, definitely worth a little bit of effort.

Super Simple Valance

Really, it’s simple.  Anyone can do it if you have a sewing machine that you know how to thread, and are able to step on the foot pedal to go fast.  You may want to be skilled in how to sew a semi-straight line too, but that’s optional.
First you pick out your fabric.  I was doing this one for my laundry room makeover and wanted something bright red to match the washer and dryer.  The best thing I found was red taffeta.  Now before you get visions of 1980’s prom dress, it wasn’t quite like that and I thought it was pretty.  I did however call my mom first and ask her if taffeta was a weird material for curtains.  She didn’t give me a straight answer, but we decided that not all curtains you buy in the store are cotton, so it should be fine.  LOL
This fabric was 52 inches wide for a 24 inch window, so I didn’t cut any off the width so there would be sufficient “scrunch.”  I did have to cut it to length because I bought a yard.  I decided to have a 12 inch drop on the valance, so I just double that and add 1 inch for seams.  So I cut off 25 inches of fabric from the yard and set the rest aside for another project. 
First you have to hem each side.  You want to roll it twice so the unfinished edge doesn’t fray on you.  Like so:
I actually just eyeballed this until it was even and then stitched using clear thread along the side of the hem closest to the unfinished material (on the right side of the folded area in this picture)
After you do this down both of the shorter sides, fold your fabric with right sides together and the remaining two unfinished edges (long sides) matched up.
Stitch all the way along the length of the unfinished edges about 1/4 inch from the edge.  I used the side of the presser foot on my sewing machine as a guide.
Turn the valance right side out and then if you have a standard sized rod (READ: not really big around) stitch another seam about an inch and a half from the hem you just put in for the top of the valance to make a pocket for the rod.
Hang it on the rod and enjoy!
Note: I also put this rod up myself.  I measured about 2 inches out and 2 inches up from the edge of the window to make the window appear bigger and to not cover it so much with the valance.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busy-ness and Recipes

I’ve really wanted to have something to blog about.  And I could blog about the busy-ness of life.  But I haven’t had time!
Last week was a crazy busy week for me.  I’m not sure why it seemed so chaotic, but it did.  Looking back, I’ve forgotten half of what I did last week.  That’s probably a good thing. 
I am working on the laundry room shelves and am nearly finished, but the drying time is slowing progress.  But they will be done hopefully tomorrow and I’ll have a post to add then.
In the meantime, I have been in the mood to try some new recipes.  I require that half my recipes be easy and this past week they were ultra-easy.  Spaghetti and meatballs, hot dogs with mac and cheese, kielbasa, sloppy joes…you get the picture.
So last night and tonight I’ve been printing out recipes from and
We bought a half a beef a few months ago, and I’m at a loss of what to do with anything besides ground beef since I rarely buy other “hunks” of meat.  Pioneer woman is helping with that.  The other link I was directed to by a podcast that I found yesterday called Manic Mommies.  It’s very funny and great to listen to while cleaning up the house.  They interviewed the ladies behind Meal Makeover Moms, and I checked out there sight this evening.  There were several recipes that I thought sounded easy and tasty, so I printed them out as well.
Now, my recipe collection is totally out of control and unorganized.  It is such a daunting task that I am trying to start from the point forward with being more organized and then slowly working through the older stuff I have. 
So to start I purchased some postcards/index cards made by Avery.  They come 4 to a sheet with perforations on them to make 4 X 6 cards.  I found a template on their website and then copy and paste the recipes to them using Microsoft Word.  It takes a little bit of editing to get them to fit right, but this way I don’t have a million full sheets and no way to organize them!  I can easily pop them into either a 4 x 6 index card box, or even a photo album to keep them protected from messy hands.
So this begs the question…are your recipes organized?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Laundry Room Counter

I am in the process of a huge overhaul of my laundry room.  Everything but the floor and trim is being changed out.  I’m doing this across a few blog posts because it’s been time consuming and a large project. 
I stumbled on a set of high efficiency washer and dryer on clearance last month, and was immediately drawn to the pretty shiny red.  That, and my old set has been through the wringer (no pun intended) washing my husband’s incredibly dirty clothes for 9 years.  As a water and sewer contractor, you can imagine how messy and yucky the later can be.
So I bought them, brought them home, and stacked them up to give me room to fold laundry.  I also painted the walls with the leftover paint from the closet that I did last year.  I had intended to do a counter space in here for a long time so that I could get away from emptying the dryer into a basket and never routinely folding laundry.  I know I’m not the only one out there who dresses their family out of the laundry basket regularly! 
So as a temporary fixture, I put in this table which is only 2 foot by 3 foot and doesn’t allow for much stacking considering the capacity of those babies!
So I set about a more permanent fix and there starts my big, time consuming project.  Keep in mind that my husband did help me cut the counter boards and hang the brackets (which really is a two person job anyhow) but the rest is my ideas, creativity, and hard work.  I’m very proud of how it’s turning out.
So first you measure how high you want the counter and make it level!
Then take two of these glued-on-edge shelves found in the wood working section of Lowes. (Let me insert here that I looked at some laminate counters, but for the price and the boring factor, I was determined to do my own)
Then you get a handsome man like this to cut the 45 degree angle to fit the corner.  Notice we are using a power tool in our hallway (we don’t currently have a garage) and it’s 9:30pm.  I hoped we didn’t wake the kids, but nothing can stand in the way of progress.
Then we put up 4 brackets like these from Lowe’s.  Since we were both working on it, I don’t think we took a picture.  Just make sure they are screwed into the studs!  I put two on each wall with one in the corner to ensure that it spanned across the joint between the two pieces.
I took over from here and did everything else.  First I glued the angled part together and screwed a couple small boards to the bottom to hold it together
I wanted the counters to look a little nicer, so I put a 1 x 2 edging on the front faces and the side that would not be against the wall.  It helps to have a cute assistant to hold the boards upright to nail the pieces on. 
When you get them all nailed on you have to wrestle the heavy thing through the deck door, down the hall way, through the laundry room door, and nearly break your back, neck, and arms trying to get it up on the brackets without putting a hole in the wall, the window, or bash the washer/dryer.
IF you survive that, it will look like this:
Next task is to screw the brackets from the bottom, fill the cracks with wood filler and sand, then prime and paint.  I chose Valspar’s Betsey’s Linen.  Here it is primed I think. (The paint is just a shade off white)
This is where I lost my mind and after the fact figure out that a camera doesn’t take and keep pictures without a Compact Flash card in it.  So I will explain what I did.
I taped a line of frog painters tape 3 inches and 4 inches from both the front edge and back edge to create a stripe.  Cut away the excess to give a nice angle where they meet.  Then I used my silhouette to create a stencil with Contact paper.  I put one stencil in the corner between my stripes and then eyeballed the remaining 5 stencils along the length of the counter. 
I painted lightly over all my stencils and tape with the same Betsy’s Linen as the counter to “seal” the edges and prevent the red paint I used next from bleeding under the tape. 
After that dried I put on two coats of glossy red acrylic craft pain in the negative spaces of the stencil and the taped lines.  This is what the stenciled areas looked like after I pulled the Contact paper off:
I wanted to seal the paint to make it stronger and somewhat waterproof, so I added two coats of Polycrylic.  It’s a water based version of polyurethane that can go over latex paint. 
And the final product of the counter looks like this!
Next on tap I made a new curtain that needs hung, I am working on shelving for the longer wall, and intend to make some fabric baskets to hide my laundry clutter.
Hope you enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rummage Sale Fix

So I love rummage/garage sales.  I always have and I think it comes from the connection to my grandma Mahler who LOVED garage sales.  In the last couple years, I haven’t gone to as many as I’d have liked, but dragging two kids in and out of the car takes some of the fun out of it. 
My daughter’s preschool had a rummage sale a couple weeks ago and I wandered through just out out of curiosity.  They had a bunch of women’s clothes that were really nice, name brand, and priced cheap (50 cents each!)  I’m not brand obsessed, but I do admire some brands because they are made very well. 
Anyhow, with my arms piled full of some various shirts, I came across a J.Crew long sleeved button down shirt.  I tossed it on my pile and kept shopping, only I realized when I got home that someone had cut off the cuffs of the shirt.  Arg, only me!  I was determined to fix it and make it work though. 
So, today I pulled up to my sewing machine, got out my scissors, and went to work.
Here’s what I started with:
And the sleeves looked like this:
Using another shirt as an example of the angle, I cut the sleeves off to a shorter length (I measured 10 inches from the shoulder seam and cut, so it was quite a bit longer than the purple shirt)
I hemmed each side.  I’m not much for measuring, and I know I probably should, but I just eyeballed it.  (Ignore my chipped polish, I need to remove it, but I was to busy fixing this shirt!)
Next, I turned the shirt right side out and rolled the sleeve twice to make a cuff.  I made sure that both sleeves were even and sewed a seam close to the edge
I thought it looked pretty good at this point, but it needed something else.  On the bottom there was some detailing with some extra buttons to cinch in the bottom hem.
I took those buttons and the edging from what used to be the cuff that I cut off (rectangle):
I used those pieces to add some detailing on each of my new cuffed sleeves
I think it came out really cute and can’t wait to wear it!
So if there is something wrong with a piece of clothing that you have, make sure you think about a way to fix it, make it better, or hide the problem before you just toss it!
For 50 cents and a little time, I have a really great shirt!  I checked the jcrew website and most of the shirts that looked like this were around $70.00!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Greatest Pizza Crust–Take 2

Well today was slightly better than yesterday.  That is until I tried to make pizza again for dinner. 
I buy bread flour in bulk at Sam’s Club.  It’s a 25 pound bag and isn’t easily managed, so I dump some into a large square container and refill that as needed.  So today before I started the crust, I needed to refill the container with flour. 
I know you’re thinking there was a problem when I dumped flour from the giant bag to the smaller container.  Well you’re wrong.  The problem came when I temporarily lost my mind, forgot what I was doing, and started measuring my ingredients.  Instead of putting the oil in the bread maker pan, I dumped it into the container of flour. 
I ruined about 3 cups of flour trying to scoop out all of the canola oil I accidently dumped into the wrong place.
Anyhow, the crust came out fabulous, as it does when you use bread flour.  Just remember, if you want to make this healthier, don’t use more than half whole wheat flour.  Unless you like eating a brick.  (see my post from yesterday if you’re confused)
So here’s the recipe to make two pizza crusts.  Add the ingredients to the bread maker in the following order. 
You can also mix this with a mixer with a dough hook, or by hand (I’ve done all three methods, and there is something to be said for kneading dough by hand.  It’s quite therapeutic)  If you choose one of the latter two methods, just let the dough rise for about 30 minutes after it’s kneaded.
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons of oil (I use canola)
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of dry milk powder (a must have)
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
Let the bread maker do it’s thing on the pizza dough cycle and when you’re done dump it out on a pizza pan and cut it into two pieces (or tear, whatever) and it should look something like this
Start rolling out each piece on separate pans (I only have one round and one square stone, so that’s what I use, dough is dumb, it doesn’t care what shape it’s in!)
You may get to a point where the dough springs back and won’t stay rolled out.  Relax!  Just let it sit for 5 minutes and think about how it’s misbehaving while your roll the other one out.  When you come back, I promise it’ll behave and roll out smooth.
If you look close, you can see I stabbed the crust with a fork before I bake it, otherwise it tends to get air bubbles and blow up like a flying saucer.
Prebake your crusts at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.  The tops don’t get really brown, but a little tan and not sticky anymore.
Top it any way you like.  I used pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and real bacon pieces for this one.  Pop it bake in the oven for 5 minutes to melt everything into ooey-gooey-goodness, and there you have it!
I finished the partial jar of pizza sauce I had on this pizza, so the other I made with alfredo sauce (I prefer Newman’s Own brand; all natural and really tasty!) and cheese.  I didn’t take a picture because my hubby took it out of the oven and by time I got upstairs it was cut up and half gone. 
Anyhow, hope you give this a try and top it any way you like…barbecue sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, pineapple, and onion
or add crumbled hamburger to the one I made today and have a bacon cheeseburger pizza.
You could also brush the crust with butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Or do the whole thing like that and cut into bread sticks.  
The possibilities are endless, but the crust is always a hit.  My kids say there’s no reason to go to a pizza place anymore because “mom’s crust is the best-est”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A flop of a day

So today I was going to blog about something.  I’m working on a big project that I will hopefully have done and be able to write the whole story here soon. 
So I was going to make homemade pizza tonight and figured I would write about that.  However, much to my dismay, the world just isn’t on my side today.  You know about Murphy’s law?  Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong?  Yeah that’s my day in spades. 
I had a mishap with my big project.  It involved a very large board, a wall, a window, and a door in a small space.
Then, I was supposed to help sort Market Day orders after I picked my son up from school.  Well, I took the dog for a car ride to go pick my son up.  Makes it a little difficult to go in and help when I have a 90 pound dog in the back of my car.  Fortunately I have great friends, and one offered to take the dog home for me. 
I then went to go buy some cheese after we left the school so I could make the pizzas.  Got to the store and realized my purse was not in the car.  (took the dog and not my purse…really smart)
I came home and started the crust in the machine, went back out to get the cheese.  As soon as we got home I pulled the crust out and found that just because I want it to be whole wheat, doesn’t mean you can substitute all the flour with whole wheat.  (I’ve done 50/50 in the past and it worked fine)
So I had a brick of pizza dough.  Loaded the kids back up in the car (fourth trip into town for the day), went to Taco Bell for dinner and then McDonald’s drive thru for cookies as dessert.  I’m not a perfect mom, and I’m glad there is fast food when it’s 6:00 and you can’t exactly serve a brick for dinner.
Anyhow, not to leave you hanging, but check back tomorrow night, I’ll have the recipe and pictures of the pizza crust take 2! 
I hope tomorrow is a better day.  Smile

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Birthday to Die For

Today is my wonderful husband’s 34th birthday.  We got married when he was just 24 years old.  We’ve been through a lot, and I couldn’t ask for a better husband.  So I get excited for his birthday.  It’s an excuse to bust out my baking-groove-thing and make something that I know he will love. 
In the last 9 years that we’ve been together, I’ve discovered a lot about him.  First and foremost, he’s strange when it comes to knowing what tastes good.  He hates creamy stuff.  That means, no whipped cream, no pudding, no yogurt, not cottage cheese, no cheesecake, nothing that has a mushy texture.  However, I have worked diligently at converting him to my way of thinking and he now eats some things if they are on the firmer side, like cheesecake that is still firm. 
So to my surprise, this past summer he tried some Death by Chocolate dessert (which I love, but rarely make) that my mom made while we were camping.  He LOVED it.  There is a lot of brownie in it, but there is also a fair share of creamy mixed in to it.  Today while I was laboring over the choices of what to make for his birthday, I decided to make the Death by Chocolate.  Only I’m doing it my way.  Brownies from scratch.  And real whipped cream.  No containers and boxes in my kitchen today (well maybe the butter box and the egg container, but I didn’t want to try to find a chicken to get a fresh egg from and a cow to milk to make the butter!)
So I pulled out my prettified Kitchen Aid mixer and made brownies first:
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (real stuff is better!)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven 350 and spray a 9 x13 with olive oil spray (or whatever you prefer)
Mix together the melted butter with the sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Then beat in the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder.  Spread to the greased pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Don’t overcook.
Cool your brownies completely (or in my case, put them on the porch to speed things along and hope they get done in time to finish everything before you have to run and pick up your daughter from preschool)
While they cooled I made the whipped cream:
Put 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 Tablespoons of sugar into the mixer with the wire whisk on it and whip until soft peaks form.  IMG_2235
Delicious.  Really, I would know Smile
Next you need to mix one small box of instant chocolate pudding with a cup and a half of milk until it thickens.
Then fold in half of the whipped topping and put the rest of the whipped topping and the pudding mix aside.   (Got lazy on the pictures here, I was really trying to hurry)
So I brought my brownies in from the porch and cut them up into small pieces
I know you think I ate the one from the middle.  I didn’t.  Here it is:
After I took this picture, I’ll have to plead the fifth on where the brownie went.
Now it’s time to put it all together:
Crumble the brownies in the bottom of a large bowl:
Top this with the pudding mixture.  I’d' show a picture of that, but apparently I was in a rush to lick the spatula clean and didn’t take one. 
Next you need to top it with chopped up Heath toffee bars.  I cheated and saved money by buying these
It will look like this so far:
Crumble the rest of the brownies (minus MAYBE one or two squares, but again, I plead the 5th)
Top this off with the remaining whipped cream and some more Heath pieces.  I didn’t have a lot of whipped cream left so it’s light on the top, but since Mark’s not into so much creamy, it should be enough.
Chill this for 2 hours and enjoy.  Can’t wait to eat it tonight!
Then I blog about it, and rush out the door to pick up Camryn!
Death by Chocolate
9 x 13 pan of brownies, cooked and cooled
1 (8 oz) container of whipped topping
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups cold milk
Heath baking chips or crumbled Heath bars
Whisk together the chocolate pudding and milk until it thickens and fold in half of the whipped topping.  Set aside.
Crumble half of the brownies in the bottom of a bowl, top with pudding mix, then a layer of candy.  Finish off with another layer of brownies, remaining whipped topping, and candy pieces.