Saturday, January 26, 2013

Turning trash.... Into treasure???

I got this desk a while ago off Craigslist...and, like a lot of things, it's been sitting in my basement storage room waiting for me to paint it!  Seems to be a common theme for me...."if you don't like it, paint it!!" {or if you don't know what to do with it, stick it in the basement}!  Isn't that always the answer?? {my husband would beg to differ---he's a "throw it away or give it away" kind of guy}

Annnyyyywaaaaayyyyy, I saw this for free on Craigslist probably back in the summertime and just had to pick it up. I mean, what's better than FREE projects?!  I liked the shape of the legs and the detail on the front part of the desk...and of course I liked the dark stain on it...because I was thinking "ohhhh, when I paint and distress this, the dark will show through and look soo good".  So here's what I was working with before I started....ewww, right?!

So I picked up a half-full can {would that make me an optimist since I didn't say "half-empty"??} of "country grey" that I had leftover from a former project and got to painting. I admit that I didn't take my time on this piece because after all, it was free an not in terribly great shape to begin with.  I ended up painting two coats...then waited a couple days  {not intentionally, I just didn't have a chance to get back down there} before sanding/distressing. I took my sanding block (handheld) and gently gave the whole piece a quick rub down. I then rubbed it a little more "aggressively" in certain spots to give it a natural "worn" look. Here's how the final project turned out. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: My Favorite Thrifty Room

We moved into this house about 2 years ago.  For us, it is our dream home.  Granted, if we made mega-bucks and could afford maids and landscapers, perhaps that "dream home" would be a lot bigger.  However, we kept within our budget and found the home that we will hopefully live in for a very long time.

Since we moved into a blank slate (we had this house built... picked one of three possible models and then added a few options to it), we had white walls, no curtains and plain floors.  After closing on the house, we had to stay rather thrifty.  

In the front of our house, we have two rooms:  the dining room and the "living room".   Well, we don't call it that.  It's our "book room".  Long story there.  Basically in our old house, we had a similar front room that started off as holding boxes.  Eventually we realized that our books were in that room... so we affectionately called it the "book room" and it's stuck, nine years later, and even transferred to the new house.

This Book Room is now my favorite room... granted, I don't spend a lot of time in there... when I find myself in a reading spell, I will often camp out there for hours on end.  {So, maybe it's still appropriately named.}  I love the way it turned out.  It started off with a simple Ikea loveseat and a Target black leather chair/ottoman.  And from there, I decided to stick with a brown/black/white scheme.

I love to look in there and see how my thrifty finds somehow turned out looking pretty sharp.

This was a project of mine done on a thrift-store find.  It used to be a Harry and David chalkboard plaque that I paid $2 for.  A little spray paint, some burlap ribbon and some Cricut vinyl letters later, it's now a good reminder of all the homes we have lived in, since meeting at college.

One of my cheapest projects ever.  Black spray paint on a $1 yard sale chair.  :)  There is nothing on there now, but I'll often hang a wreath or set a cute pillow on there so that it doesn't look like a stuffy time-out chair.  I used it the other day... wow... talk about a posture-straightener!  No slouching on this chair, or you'll fall off.

My coffee filter wreath (under $10) on a HomeGoods mirror ($69).

Our Ikea loveseat, four yard-sale feather/silk pillows ($16), a HomeGoods ottoman ($39), and a Home Decorators rug (under $70).

The above-mentioned Target black leather chair and ottoman (under $300, if I remember correctly).  That pillow also came from Target years ago, I believe.

The lamps hailed from HomeGoods ($40 apiece... the shades are made of burlap!);  the tables are a two-fer package bought at Bed Bath and Beyond around the holidays for $99/2;  the vase was a beautiful $2 investment from a yard sale, and the grass... Dollar Tree.

A close-up of the super cute pillows!

A black cabinet bought from years ago.  I love it.  The frosted glass windows semi-hide my stash of decorating goodies.  And I added the kids' names to the drawers... this is where they keep library books, important papers to keep (like spelling lists, semi-finished reports, etc).  The decorations were all thrifty finds... $6 Southern Living pedestal, $1 green candle, $3 hurricane glass, Michaels' sale flowers, and $3 mercury-glass candleholders from Joann's (sale).

The whole BookRoom from the front door.  This view may change in a few weeks/months.  We may be getting a new-to-us piano to replace the black cabinet (which will shift to the dining room).  Hiding to the side of the cabinet now is my son's guitar and music stand.  We may need to change the name from "Book Room" to "Music Room".  Stay tuned for any changes in the next few months.

See, thrifting CAN pay off!  I can't wait till Spring Break.  I plan to visit a few of my all-time favorite thrift stores that are close to where I used to live in PA.  Despite living hours from there when we met in our neighborhood, it was awesome to learn that Lizzie knows the EXACT same thrift stores... she shops them every time she visits her family, too!  T-minus two months till I need a load of cash to spend!!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paleo Muffins... Just Like the Cavemen Ate....

So, just like most over-30 moms who hate exercise, I am sick and tired of being overweight and sick and tired.  :)  Ok, Ok... I'm 40... but that still puts me in the "over 30 crowd, right!?  Poor Lizzie can't yet be lumped into that group... she just turned 29 yesterday!  (Happy Birthday, Blogging Buddy!!!)

So... it's time to take action!

Back before the New Year, a group of neighbors formed an alliance to help each other through thick and thin (literally) while we all try to fight the battle of the bulge.  Everyone chose their own paths {two started on the HCG diet, one is on Weight Watchers, one is on MediFast, and I decided to try the Whole30/Paleo route}.  It's been really cool, and at least for me, the fact that we all check in with one another at least weekly via Facebook makes me want to make sure that scale number continues to drop.

I read a tiny bit about Whole30 online at, but I will readily admit I am not sticking to it WHOLEheartedly (ba-dum-bump).  Instead, I'd say I'm trying to follow a Paleo lifestyle, but I've done pretty well at also cutting out all sweeteners (yes, that means sugar, artificial sweeteners, honey, agave, etc.)  I haven't had many grains in 21 days!  Plus I'm mostly free of dairy, sweeteners, legumes and alcohol.  Yep, not-a-single-glass-of-wine in three weeks.  That's hard to do in wine country.  {Notice the "mostly" and "many"... I have cheated a couple of times}

It's been tough passing on my daughter's birthday cakes (yes, two) and on pasta when we went out to eat and on chili and dessert at our church's Chili-Cookoff last night.  In fact, I had to enter the cook-off simply so I had a Paleo option to eat (no beans)... I didn't win, much to the chagrin of my kids, but there was no "Paleo" category and it's hard to beat really good chili.  :)

However, the change has been worth it!!  As of this morning, I am down 8 pounds from January 1.  Not too shabby since I am not really starving myself, just changing the way I eat.

In just three weeks, I've noticed:

  • Absolutely NO digestive issues, no cramping, no pain, no growling, no nothing when I adhere to the plan perfectly.  (The one day I had corn chips at the movies... oh, I paid the price for that!)
  • Amazingly good sleep habits (and for me, that was becoming a serious issue).
  • Clear skin 
  • Weight loss
  • Less headaches (I could get daily migraines when in a bad spell)
  • Energy (at least lately... not sure if it's from finally being able to walk again or just eating better)
  • Less cravings/hungry-feeling, especially with sweets

So... it's working, that's for sure.  Now, how long can I keep up with this.  Cookies and cake still tempt me... not sure how long I can last without them.  

Until last week, I didn't eat one single baked cookies, no bread, no muffins, no waffles, no cake, no cupcakes, nada.  Then my co-teacher, Kameron, handed me a muffin to eat.  After saying no, she informed me that it was made of almond flour.  Aha! I forgot I could eat that!  It was such a nice relief to straight meat, fruit and veggies.  Gotta love my coworker, who can keep me on my toes regarding all things food-related!  Usually I hear what I shouldn't be eating... for once it was refreshing to hear I was forgetting something!  :)

So, I was determined to find some muffin to eat when the "sweet cravings" attack.  Granted, I must admit... it's not often since being off sweeteners for 3 weeks.

I found this recipe at Lauren Lately.  Usually I find I'm without some strange ingredient and end up substituting somehow, but alas, I had them all so I followed it to a T.

Apple Walnut Muffins

2 cups almond flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 T cinnamon
2 t baking powder
1/2 t sea salt
2 eggs
2 apples 
1/4 c coconut oil
1/2 c almond milk

Set the oven temperature to 325.

First begin by peeling, chopping, and cooking the apples for about 10-15 minutes with a little cinnamon (I used about 1 t).  Then puree them in a food processor.

Then mix the dry ingredients (almond flour, walnuts, cinnamon, baking powder, salt).

Mix the remaining wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then mix into the dry ingredients.

Fill up a muffin tin.  The above recipe made approximately 12 muffins, when filled 3/4 full.  I used muffin liners to make it easy to clean the pan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.  I think mine took about 18 minutes, but our oven tends to go quicker than most recipes say.

Yes, these were some kind of good!  Granted, you must like nuts.  :)  There's a lotta nuts in there!  I could only eat one muffin two muffins today.  I also think next time I would probably add another apple and only cut it up to small pieces (no cooking or pureeing) to allow some chunks to be in the final muffins.  It might add a little extra sweetness to the muffin with a little more texture.  BUT, even as is, I found these to be a wonderful addition to my mostly Paleo diet.  

The Paleo diet is often referred to as the "Caveman Diet" since it entails what a person could hunt and gather in paleolithic times.  Think the cavemen ate muffins a lot?

There are several more I have "pinned" to my Healthy Me board.  I need to wait till I add honey in another week.  Then my sweet cravings options will multiply.  :)  (If you go to to my board, you'll see there are non-Paleo options on there, too, from my pre-Paleo decision... FYI.)

Stay tuned... I may add my favorite Paleo chili soon!  I've eaten it so much these last two weeks... I need a little breather before making a big pot again.  :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Makeover Monday

I've had this chair in my kitchen for geez....AT LEAST the past 8 months?!!  I originally got it with the intentions to paint it every. Other. Wood. Chair. In. My. House.

But for soooommmme reason {I don't know, maybe called Taylor and Stephen} I just couldn't find the time. I guess in a way I'm kinda glad I put it off for so long because I changed my mind on the color....Bottom line was that the chair needed a new coat of paint regardless of what color I painted it.  I mean, look at this...what color is this even considered??? Light Peach fluff?? {I think there is even some pink nail polish on there!}

Like I said before, I originally wanted to paint it black...but I've been trying to incorporate "greens" into my kitchen and family room {keyword: "trying"} so what color better to paint the chair than GREEN?!  Duh!

So I made a trip to my "local" Jo Ann Fabrics and grabbed some spray paint. Thinking about it now Home Depot has a much larger selection of "greens" to choose from {so you may be seeing this chair again (sooner rather than later) for a "re-do" in a more "pleasing-to-the-eye" green....}

Last week we had a couple "warmer-ish" days so I took that as my opportunity to spray away.   Check out the final product's MUCH "brighter" than I would have liked, but whatever---I could have painted it magenta and it would've looked better than the hot mess it was before!!  But, like I said...stay tuned for a re-do!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Keeping it simple....and cheap....

WOW! 19 days into the New Year already!?!  Crazy how time flies…especially as you get “older” {ah-hem}
So I turn 29 this year….actually in a couple days…and LAST year on my birthday I didn’t do much {as usual}, but I made a promise to myself that this year for my birthday I would do something "special"….Just for me and BY me {meaning I didn't want to rely on someone else to make plans for dinner or plan anything "just for my birthday"--basically getting my husband "off the hook"!}.  I was thinking I would go get a massage…or a facial…or some other expensive {and unnecessary} spa treatment….but then I remembered one of my OTHER New Year’s resolutions…………which was to be more frugal!  So that was out the window! 

Anyway, long story short after I decided on no fancy-schmancy spa treatments, I decided to hop on Pinterest and start looking for pampering ideas/beauty tricks, etc.  As I was searching, I stumbled across this list on "Women's Health" that had some interesting things I want to try…I pinned Cheap Makeup Products You'll Love Regardless of the Economy to my board "Just Stuff " (which doesn't have a lot of stuff "pinned" on it, but whatever) favorites from this site are 6,7, 8, 9, 22, & 31...

This past weekend I went to Target (for something completely different) but of course as I walked in, the “health and beauty” stuff was right in front of me…which sparked my memory about the site above.  So I perused the aisles and grabbed a couple things I remembered being on there…  So take a look--you may like what you see!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: {cheap} Wreaths

What is it about wreaths?  I have a slight addiction to them.  Even my kids notice.  
{"Mom... is that ANOTHER wreath?" is a common expression here.}

Anytime I'm in the mood to crafting absentmindedly (say, while catching up on Downton Abbey or after a long day on my feet), I grab a wreath form and start making something.

Very few of my wreaths have cost a lot.  Granted, I have spent time doing some fancy ones (such as using pheasant feathers and fancy ribbon), but sometimes my favorites use just the simplest of things.

Often all you need is a wreath form and some kind of a cover.  The best part is when I can use the wreath forms found at the dollar store!

Here are a few of my favorites, which are scattered around my house.

Spraypainted Mini Wreath:  
Most of my house is neutral tones, but I tend to use light greens and terra-cotta from time to time to break up the monotones.  This was a wreath bought on sale for 25 cents.  I sprayed it "Terracotta". 

NEED:  A wreath and some spray paint

Burlap and Spraypainted Wreath:  
This was a dollar store find, sprayed Terracotta and tied off with a long strip of burlap and some natural raffia.

NEED:  A wreath form, some spray paint, burlap, raffia

Bookpages Wreath:  
I used a foam wreath base, wrapped it in strips of burlap (to cover the green).  Then I punched out scalloped circles from an old book.  Then each circle was pinned in the center tightly around the wreath to fill it in.  A simple bow finishes it.  This one sits on my hearth in a homemade Pedestal Bowl.

NEED:  foam wreath form, long burlap strips, old book, 1.5" punch, pearl-top pins, ribbon

Balloon Wreath:  
I love this idea!  I got it once-upon-a-time while surfing the web years ago.  (Sorry the source has escaped me.)  Using floral pins, I simply adhered hundreds of balloons to a straw wreath till it was covered.  We use this for birthdays.  Hung on the front door, all visitors know SOMEONE special is having a birthday!

 NEED:  a straw wreath, lots of balloons, floral pins

Green Berry Wreath:
 Okay, this is a cheat.  I bought the wreath as is, simply tying it up with a beautiful brown satin bow.  This is in my brown dining room.  I love the color combo.

 NEED:  A berry wreath, ribbon

Twine Wreath:
  This is a straw wreath form that I found at the local thrift store for $1.  I wrapped it tightly with twine and topped it with a bow.  I did this one today while watching the above-mentioned Downton Abbey.  {I am almost caught up... just finished episode 8 of season 2!!!}

NEED:  straw or foam wreath, twine, ribbon

Coffee Filter Wreath:  
I think this is one of my favorites, if for no other reason than it's just amazing what can come about from a simple pack of coffee filters!  They were pinned (like above in the book pages wreath) onto a foam half-wreath, the kind with a flat back.  I have this one on a large mirror in our front sitting room to break up the large mirror.  

 NEED:  a foam flat-back wreath, brown coffee filters, floral pins, ribbon

Heart Shamrock Wreath:  
This wreath was made using three heart-shaped grapevine wreaths, hot glued together to form a shamrock.  I then dolled it up with some felt shamrocks and green plaid ribbon.... oh, and a touch of burlap.  :)  Find the tutorial HERE.

NEED:  3 heart grapevine wreaths, hot glue, green felt, ribbon/burlap, sticks (for the stem)

Red Burlap Wreath:  
This wreath was made with strips of bright red burlap tied onto a wire-form wreath.  {Beware... this burlap can turn your fingers bright red!!}  Check out the tutorial HERE.

NEED:  wire wreath form, red burlap, natural burlap (for decorations)

Spraypainted Grapevine Wreath:  
I recently saw several of these on Pinterest from multiple sites.  It is just a grapevine wreath, sprayed with Sage Green paint, topped off with my favorite brown satin ribbon.  This wreath is special in that my dad made it YEARS ago from old grapevines in our childhood yard.

NEED:  grapevine wreath, spraypaint, ribbon

I hope this gives you some inspiration on some easy, everyday decorative wreaths.  Have fun (and don't spoil Season 3 for me just yet... I plan to finish up the next few episodes as quickly as possible.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Projects for 2013! (printable!}

Hey all!  We are having so much fun with the blog... I'm so excited to see how 2013 shapes up.

Again, I really haven't had a chance to do much in the way of home projects just yet... standing for much time at all is still rather uncomfortable.  I don't know which is worse though... the pain of the foot... or the frustration of not being able to do a lot.

But, as I wait for that foot to heal, my mind is buzzing with ideas for new projects in the house.  Pinterest is a wonderful tool.... and so addictive too!  However it's now given me so many cool ideas, I needed to sort the "that's-pretty-neat ideas" from the "I-gotta-do-this ideas".  On Pinterest, I created a board called "2013 Projects".  I can always look at the board to see what other cool things I want to do, but sometimes it's nice to have it in black and white (or pretty pastels) in front of you.  In order to have a list of those ideas... painting my son's wall, replacing light fixtures, paint a dresser, ... I created this little printable.

Now when the urge comes to REALLY want to do something cute for the house, I can jot it down.  Then I'll also have a list of the items I need to be looking for to buy.  

What cool projects are you dreaming up?

You can print out this chart by going HERE.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Foodsie Friday....Muffin Style

Ok, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to can't say LOVE enough.  BUT, with baking comes calories and carbs....and sugar...and all that yummy...I mean BAD stuff..which I am *trying* to avoid because of my new years resolution....blah.

Anyhow, I love trying out new recipes....from cookies and cakes to muffins and breads...(and everything in between).  When I to the store to get ingredients for recipes and I find myself buying like 4 of everything...just because I know I am going to make the recipe more than once....and sometimes I like to double (or triple, or even quadruple) the recipe.

So I want to share a recipe you that I actually got from my cousin.  It's a super easy recipe, but since I always have the ingredients on hand, it's my "go to" muffin recipe.

Here is all the ingredients you will need....

Here is the actual recipe (with the measurements)
2 cups Bisquick
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 TBP oil
1 egg
1 cup raspberries (I use whatever frozen "berry" I have in my freezer)

Here comes the EASY PART....Mix all the ingredients together (except the berries)...(in this case, I doubled the recipe)

Then, gently fold in the berries.....

Then, pop in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for about 15-18 minutes (if using regular size muffin tins)
Once baked, take out of the oven, let cool....and ENJOY!!

P.S.  These freeze really well, too!!