Saturday, August 25, 2012

Thrift Find... SEW Proud!

If I'm totally honest with myself (and all of you Finch Followers out there), I must admit that my frequency at the thrift shops in town has hit stalker-like levels in the last few weeks.  Things move slowly in our town, so it's not likely that I'd miss a great find if I only went once a week or so... but in my great hunt for things to use on the hall tree project, the store owners are learning my name... and looking at me kinda funny.

All that is worth it, though, because last week I found THIS:

Oh, my, gosh, isn't it great!?!  These were super popular in their day, and they're making a resurgence in the name of vintage.  They were asking $50 for it, and I had the cashier call the owner, and I talked him down to $35... oh yeah, and I didn't realize it, but the sewing machine is still there!  Didn't find that out until Alex had to go by the shop later that day and lift the thing (oops!).  So now I have my table for the hall tree... It needs a little TLC, but I'm kinda partial to old beat-up things, so I will probably leave it as is for now...  Here are some more pics... man, I love this thing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Greek Yogurt Cake

Ok, I knew this would happen... I write a few posts, then the school year starts, and then I abandon my nest and let three weeks go by before writing anything else.  Sorry.  My bad.  I don't really have time to post one today, but I felt like I just had to. 

First of all - for all of those who gave me & the hubbs all those wonderful wedding gifts but haven't received a thank-you note, we're sorry... and excited.  We're sorry that it looks to you, I'm sure, that we're ungrateful.  We're not.  We treasure the gift and the love behind it so much.  We're excited because FINALLY found a box of thank-you notes, already written and addressed, just needing stamps, and the list of ones unwritten, tucked safely away in a box.  I've been pulling my hair out trying to find them; they just got buried in the move.  So they're coming soon.  But for now, thank you.  We love you.

And now, on to the part where the title finally makes sense.  Some of you know, most of you don't, and in a minute you all will, that I'm a Weight Watcher.  Yes, me.  It started in January and ended at the beginning of the honeymoon.  I'm picking it back up again this week.  While there are a few pounds I'd like to get rid of, it's mostly for maintaining current status through my life and adopting healthy habits that I can follow forever.  ANYWAY, because of all that, I'm constantly on the hunt for ways to cheat at cooking, and greek yogurt cake is the best I've found yet.  I'll never bake a cake from a box the same way again.  (Notice I didn't say I'll never bake cake from a box... I almost always backe cakes from boxes...)  Not only is is way healthier, it's also way simpler and way faster.  Instead of getting out the oil, getting out the eggs, pulling out a measuring cup (which you'll also have to wash later), you simply grab the cake mix box and a cup of non-fat greek yogurt.  You also need a cup of water, but since the cup of yogurt is, well... a cup, you don't need a measuring cup; just use the yogurt cup to measure the water.  A little mixing and a preheated oven later, you have an exteremly moist cake waiting on you... and all you had to clean was the bowl and wisk (which you probably licked clean anyway).  Oh!  And that's the other thing!  If you're like me and addicted to batter, this is a totally safe alternative to the raw egg situation.  It's like a win-win-win-win!  I didn't take any pictures, because the cake looks like any other cake.... the beauty is that it's simple and healthy.  Try it out!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"New" Lamps

My fabulous aunt & uncle gave me a wedding present - two lamps.  They're different and kinda weird, which fits me, haha.  But they didn't quite fit the style of our house.  My room (when I lived in a house with friends) was vintage France - lots of black, silver, crystal, and distressing.  Our house is cute and country, with hardwood floors and various shades of brown everywhere.

I loved the shape of the lamps, though, and decided they just needed a good coat of paint.  I used Krylon's primer+paint in beige.  It took several coats - 1-1/2 cans to do both lamp stands - but they look great.

(The broom asked to be in the shot... he was feeling kinda left out.)

Of course the shades would look silly on the beige stands, so I had to something about that, too.  I stumbled upon this post from Enjoy the Simple Things (a blog I love), and I knew this was a project I had to do.  Laura Lynn goes into good detail in her post on how to do it, so I'll just give you pics of my project with a few captions.

Paint sticks, stained.

I laid out all the sticks on the shade and held them with clothespins.

 I used wood glue (instead of the hot glue that Laura Lynn used) and "clamped" it with more clothespins.  I did every other stick so that I could position the clothespins properly.

Here's the second round of glue.

Done with one!!

 << Here's the big one.

Here's the little one.>>

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Husband to the Rescue

Isn't this why we get married?  Because while most of the time a girl can hold her own, every now and then we turn damsel-in-distress and need our knight-in-toolbelt to help us out a little.

I had planned on taking an old, cheap DVD shelving unit that stood vertically and turn it on its side, slap a few coats of paint on it, add some feet, and slide it under one of the living room windows (to still hold DVDs... just more cuter-er).  However, neither Alex nor I thought about the fact that this particle board shelf was designed to stand vertically, not horizontally.  While very cute, it began to sag, the feet got all wobbly, and I got all teary-eyed.

Enter Alex.  He grabbed some 2x6s, glue, and wood screws and got busy.  Shelf saved.  The full story (how-to) and before and after shots are below:

Here is the original DVD shelf.  I drug it out to the garden to sand it so that I could also hang with Alex while he worked out there.  The location of the sanding is not important; sanding is.  Otherwise the paint will bead up and not stick (much like when you use a Crayola marker on a slick surface - doesn't work).

(Notice the sexy half-naked beast gardening away.  Pics (of the veggies) here.

Here it is all nice and sanded.  I used my daddy's electrick B&D sander with 60 grit pads.  The back isn't sanded because it's just cardboard with laminate on it and I'm replacing it with luan.

The board on top was the base of the shelf, which was deeper than the rest (larger foot = stability), so I had to remove it and trim it down with my skill saw.

At this point I've painted the outside red, the inside beige, and I'm working on the red trim.  I ripped out the cardboard on top to make painting and sanding in the corners and back edges easier, but it got waaaaay wobbly, so I only did the top.

Oh - and I should mention that since this was a smaller project, I went to Lowe's, picked my colors (Valspar brand), and asked for the sample jars.  They're only $2.49 each and were the perfect amount for this project.

I meant to snap a few pics of the luan (really thin plywood) as I painted it, but I forgot.  Here, I've painted the whole thing beige (after priming it), taped off a chevron pattern, and painted red over that with a sponger roller.

Here it is with the tape pulled off.  I have to admit, it looks pretty ballin'.  The key I think is to have the angles of the pattern more than 90*.  That way you can use the edges/corners of the painter's tape strips to make crisp points.

Here it is, all painted, with the luan back nailed all along the back edges.  The feet came from Lowe's (I painted them the same beige color) and were installed using T-nuts.  Tip: DON'T buy the pronged t-nuts.  The prongs didn't hold up.  They dug into the particle board a little, then gave up on life and started to bend and be pansies.  So I went back and got t-nuts that required nails.  Much better.

So at this point, I'm pretty stoked.  I'm thinking, "Man, this looks good, and I did it on my own.  A skill saw, drill, hammer... Sweet."  And then I noticed that the feet were all wobbly, and the joints of the shelving unit weren't strong.  I may have cried a little at my husband.  Maybe.

And like any good husband would do, he got in on the project.  A 2x4 on the bottom, flush with the back of the shelf, was installed with wood glue and wood screws.  A 2x4 on the back, flush with the "new" bottom of the first 2x4 was installed the same way.  I painted the edges and stopped crying.
I installed the feet myself, using a drill for the nut to drop down into, and a smaller drill bit for the nail holes.  (I picked a drill bit slightly smaller than the nail shaft - it was sized so that I couldn't physically push the nail into the hole, but I merely had to tap it in with the hammer.)  I did this so there wouldn't be pressure from hammer banging.  I was a little paranoid at this point, lol.

So here it is, loaded with Alex's DVDs.  I have quite a few, too... in the shed, maybe.  Hope they all fit!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

DIY Frenzy

Ok, so maybe "frenzy" is a bit strong.  However, there are a LOT of projects I'm dying to do.  The one I'm currently working on is turning a cheap, hand-me-down (thanks, John & Cassie!) DVD shelving unit into a... cheap, slightly cuter DVD shelf.  LOL, I know it sounds silly, but hear me out.  The DVD shelf is about 4' tall & 2' wide.  Its shape doesn't lend itself well to the space in our living room.  So with a little sanding, a little paint, four table feet, and the wonder of a 90* rotation, it will be a low shelving unit that fits nicely under a window and doubles as a side table.  It'll get its own post once it's complete.

Another thing on the brain is a hall tree.  I'll be using the front door, and there's not a place to drop my junk.  I'm thinking an old door + a small table + crown moulding & hooks = hall tree.  (Of course with some paint and baskets.)  Here are a few I've found online:
I love the old vintage
feel of this one.

I like that this one has a little bench, 
and that the table doesn't match the door.

I like the mirror on this one.  I think I have
one with similar shape somewhere...

This one is so sweet... dunno if it's the butter
cream yellow or how simple it is.

Not sure I'm gonna go with
a bench, but I like the worn out
look of this one.

I also want to make some kind of hook arrangement for Alex's hats, and something similar for my long necklaces.  I also need to make an earring holder, I think with burlap.  Oh, and "paint stir stick" lampshades. And a faux headboard with a various vintage candlestick arrangement for the guest bedroom.  And flower boxes for the front porch.  And ... I'll stop here.  You get the idea... I'm crazy.

But seriously, input on the hall tree would be very much appreciated.  So long, finch followers!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Recipe: Italian Steak Strips with Pasta

Last week I signed up for eMeals, a site that generates a week's worth of supper recipes and a corresponding grocery list. With all the projects and organizing going on, I needed something to kind of dictate the kitchen for me. You can subscribe for 3, 6, or 12 months, and it's about $5 a month (though you pay in one lump sum). You can pick the number in your family (I signed us up for the 1-2 people recipes), dietary preferences. (I chose low carb, since carbs are my weakness), and even store preferences. Way cool Oh, and it's even endorsed by money wizard Dave Ramsey. (Thanks, Shantal for turning me on to this site!)

I wished I had snapped a pic of our plates before we dug in, but I didn't think about the blog until it was too late. Regardless, this recipe warrants sharing. It includes a few tweaks now that I've gone through the steps.

12-16 oz lean steak
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 T olive oil
1/2 t each salt, pepper, minced garlic
1 T Italian dressing
1 c low carb pasta
(asparagus as a side)

If you're roasting the asparagus, pregnant the oven to 450*.
Put the water for the pasta on to boil. Once the water starts to boil, add pasta.
Cut the steak into thin strips. (I used top sirloin. If you don't care about presentation, go ahead and cut into bite-sized pieces so you don't have to cut when you eat it on the pasta.)
Heat oil in skillet on med-high heat.
Combine salt, pepper, and garlic.
Place steak in skillet, pour tomato sauce and Italian dressing on steak.
Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic on top, mix all together.
Cook steak, covered, until desired doneness.

Sprinkle a little oil, salt, and paper on asparagus in jelly roll pan, cook in oven for about 5 minutes.

Serve steak and sauce over pasta. Enjoy!

Feel free to post variations and pictures if you try this out!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I am pleased to announce... no, I'm ecstatic and humbled beyond belief to praise the Lord for His faithfulness in allowing me to find a job.  After months of anxious waiting and fretting (while still trying to trust God in what He had planned), I found out about a job opening here in town one day, got a call for an interview two days later, and had the job 1.5 hours after that.  Isn't that how He works?  Nothing, nothing... nothing.... still nothing......... then BAM!  Blessings.  I'll be teaching 1st grade at a really good school with a new fun principal.  I'm excited beyond words.  I guess my school blog will start a little sooner than I thought......   :)

My school-centered blog is up: Munchkin Land.  Check it out!