Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quick Update to Deck Gate

Having a pool, ours an above ground, we have to comply with county codes regarding safety. According to the codes we have to have 4ft walls to not have to put a fence around the pool. Any gate leading to the pool stairs must also be 4ft high.

Our deck was built with 3ft entry gate so the county was quick to deny our permit. We had to add a section to the top of the gate that leads into the pool deck.

A fast solution was to build a little 1ft high block. We added a piece of plastic lattice to it so the county couldn't say that someone could squeeze through the gate top section. Let's be real here, it's not pretty just functional.

I decided its time after 6-7yrs with that ugliness to remove the lattice and stain the wooden frame. The lattice was screwed in, removing that from both sides took about 5 minutes and the insect nests were knocked down. Then I added 1 coat of stain that took 10 minutes and a second coat of stain Friday night which was another 10 minutes.

This looks so much better. I don't think we need to add anything to the center, though if I find something more stylish I may dress it up. Makes the deck look finished. Only 25 minutes to spent to greatly improve the appearance of my deck!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tween Room Curtains

Yesterday I posted a tease of the very cute and very tween-centric fabric I used to make the new curtains in my daughter's bedroom.  While the curtains are finally finished I am FAR from finished in her room.

The curtains started to feel like a project that was never going to end. First Hobby Lobby kept telling me that they would order me more of the fabric, every week I went in and no fabric. After 5 weeks of getting the run around and no customer service or fabric, I decided I was going to order it online from their website. Within a few days I had my fabric and was ready to finish the remaining 2 panels.

I tried to match the pattern on the 4 panels so it was running similar on each of the panels. I then folded and ironed the top, bottom and sides and then pinned the drapery liner in place. From that I sewed each side, the top and then the bottom. 

The curtain rods were a $6.47 per rod clearance find at Hobby Lobby. Anyone that knows my daughter knows that she LOVES peace signs. She was with me when we discovered these little gems and put them right into the cart without hesitation.

If you look at the window over the desk you will notice that the peace sign finial near the wall is not there. I used the existing screw holes from her old rods to hang the new and the way her window sits so close to the wall did not allow for that big peace sign. I took it off and pushed the rod against the wall. It's not that noticeable at all. It's not my favorite design choice to have the window that close to the adjacent wall but I can't change it.

My mom is helping me be on the lookout for a solid color comforter (purple was my daughter's first and only choice) and I am going to find a cute coordinating colored bedskirt to contrast against the comforter. Then we have to frame her posters and hang the clearance find peace signs. And we may be done with the exception of little things here and there.

The wall color I was ready to change but my daughter says she loves it and does not want to change it, so for now we stay light purple. We'll see though she might change her mind and if she doesn't I will freshen it up with a new coat of the same color.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Chosen "One" - Daughter's Curtain Fabric

I promised I would eventually show you the chosen fabric for the curtain I was making for my daughter's bedroom.  I like it a lot so does my daughter, my son well lets just say he wasn't shy about his dislike for it. Good thing it's not for his bedroom.

The pattern is called Let's Party and I bought it at Hobby Lobby with the 40% coupon. I bought 12 yards and have enough left over to make her a couple of throw pillows. I did decide to line the curtains with a drapery liner. I bought the liner at Joann Fabrics, I lucked out and got it when it was on sale 50% of the $7.99 per yard normal price.

Tomorrow I will post pics of the finished curtains!  I am so happy to be finished with this little project that took me forever to complete!
Thursday, July 18, 2013

Patio Conversation Set and Outdoor Rug- Home Depot/Lowes

I had an old table set that I had repainted and bought new seats for the chairs. I was very happy with it and loved the new look. Last summer a daytime storm literally blew threw and because my umbrella was not all the way down, the wind got under the umbrella and picked up the umbrella and table and threw them over breaking the umbrella and shattering the glass tabletop.

We didn't bother with trying to replace the table last year but we did look at some possible table sets we could buy. This summer my focus has been on fixing up my deck, after all it is our outside room. But I just wasn't sure what to do. The Mr. said he would like a couch and chairs and I heard him but I was visualizing the deck set up differently because I had a new table set on my brain.

Because we already had the round composite tableset I decided that a conversation set would be a good alternative to another large table set. I looked at many stores, sat on many displays, and read a lot of reviews. I found many to be hard as a rock, uncomfortable, or not deep set for us taller people. Home Depot had some nice sets but many were on back order, so I decided to wait for end of season.
Out of all the sets I looked at the Martha Stewart Cedar Island set was my favorite. I was wanting blue or taupe cushions. The week after July 4th I noticed this set was back ordered and no longer sold online and all cushion colors were no longer available. Panic would be a good description of what went through me. I called and visited several Home Depots and none had the set. I decided to drop by the small and hidden Home Depot near my house after work to see if they still had the set and they did! I bought it and hauled it home.

The set has the red dragon fruit cushions  and because I had just bought the red table set from Walmart for my pool deck I was ok with this being red too. I had 2 round tables that matched but I had to buy a rug. I found the 5x7 New Haven patio rug at Lowes for $58 but I had a $10 off coupon. I have also been finding accessories at Ikea, and clearance items at Michael's and Hobby Lobby.

I still have some work to do like scrubbing the deck floor, taking that white lattice off    the gate, and adding something interesting  to the brick wall. Plus we are trying to finish re-staining the deck. Still lots of outside projects to do before end of summer. Hopefully I will get to relax on my new loveseat!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Zucchini (Zu-Nana) Bread

In a previous post, I showed off my score of veggies bought from my favorite local farmer. I am still up to my eyeballs in cucumbers – even after giving 8 away today! Same with zucchini – 2 to go, and the same with the 7 green bell peppers. I will get them eaten or given away or frozen before it’s over.
One thing I did do was make zucchini bread. I used a pretty good recipe off of the All Recipes website. It has a good amount of cinnamon in it so the bread turns out a darker color but the bread is sweet and moist and tasty. I remember my mom making zucchini bread and hers was much lighter in color and had a different taste (because it was not full of cinnamon). But I do like this recipe and will use it again, though I might try and reduce the cinnamon just to see how different the bread will look and taste. I may also try to make it a bit healthier as it has a lot of oil and sugar in it.
On the recipe, I did follow it to the letter until the very last second when I noticed that I had 3 bananas that were looking pretty ripe, I decided to smash up one banana and throw in the batter. The result is a slight banana flavor. I did peel the green skin off the zucchini hoping my kids would not notice it was make with zucchini. My daughter and I have been calling it zu-nana bread. Even my very picky son likes it, which says A LOT because he doesn’t like anything.
This got great reviews on All Recipes, however as I read the comments, I see that as usual on All Recipes a 5 start rating typically comes after the reviewer has completely overhauled the entire recipe to suit their own taste, so the 5 star rating is for the reviewers newly created recipe from the original. There were a few 1-2 star ratings where someone made it and it didn’t turn out right, but for the other hundreds of people it did turn out, so apparently the 1-2 star reviewer is a cruddy cook who is in denial.  I would give this 3 – 4 stars it is a good bread as written.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (DO NOT SQUEEZE THE WATER OUT)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1.     Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
2.     Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3.     Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans
4.     Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.
*Please note this recipe make 2 loaves of bread!
**When you make the batter (prior to adding the shredded zucchini) you will become alarmed that the batter is thick and dry like cookie dough, DON’T PANIC! Once you add in the shredded zucchini, the water in the zucchini will moisten batter a lot.
***Please note the 40-60 minutes of cooking time is not accurate. I did 1 regular loaf and a few mini loaves and it took between 1.5 – 2 hours. The 40-60 minutes may be correct for 1 loaf, but if you have a  really big loaf pan it will still take longer, remember that 325 is a low heat for baking. Also if you are in a high altitude you have to make adjustments to your temp and cooking time. So don’t be mad at me if your bread takes longer than an hour to cook through! You have been warned!!!
****If yours doesn’t turn out right, then YOU did something wrong, mine turned out perfect, so it’s not the recipes fault…. it’s the cook!
MY changes to this recipe to make Zu-Nana Bread:
I did not have walnuts, and therefore did not add them
I did have a very ripe banana, I mashed it and added it to the finished batter ( I could have easily added 1.5 – 3 mashed bananas to give it a more banana bread flavor)
(A future addition may be adding some mini chocolate chips to the batter).
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Support Your Local Farmer

I have a little old farmer, who I just adore, that brings his harvest from door to door to sell. I like to think I am his favorite stop (I better be!). He sells the best veggies. This trip he had no tomatoes (soon he says) but I did get quite a bounty of green vegetables. 

This trip I scored 63 cucumbers, 6 giant zucchini (I know there are only 5 in the picture we gave 1 to our neighbor), 2 pecks (?) of green beans, and 7 green bell peppers.

I appreciate these veggies because I didn't grow my own garden this year, but even if I had grown my own garden I still would have bought this from my farmer. We gave 3 zucchini away, I have used 1 zucchini to make a bunch of zucchini-banana bread, and we cooked up all the green beans. I am using 12lbs of cucumbers making Trisha Yearwood's 6 week pickles (I have them soaking in vinegar now!) and I used 11lbs to can dill pickles last night. The rest of the cucumbers I will eat in salad and give to my lovely co-workers to enjoy. The remaining 2 zucchinis... well they're mine to cook and eat this week. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Confetti Star Dish

Hello everyone,

One project on Pinterest I have been interested in doing is the confetti vases. I decided to do this using a star shaped candy dish I had bought last year from the dollar store. This cost me $1.00. I already had bottles of acrylic paint left over from other projects.


I flipped a kids cup upside down and used it to set the dish on (also upside down). I took toothpicks and dotted on different colors, I used aqua, charcoal grey, pearl, and gold.

I put the finished dish on a baking sheet and placed into the oven (cold oven). I then set the oven to 325 degrees and baked the dish for 30 minutes. Cool the dish completely.


The paint should be set after baking so you can wash the dish, I have put mine in the dishwasher on the top racks without any issues.


I did add more paint later and re-baked this. I think my next confetti paint project I will use a lot more paint and more colors, but this is fine for my first attempt.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Target Notebooks

Oh what a CRAZY weekend I have had! I did get to run to Target with my lovely daughter to buy 2 birthday presents on Friday night and I had to take a quick stroll down the paper goods aisle. Here is what I found, so cute! I love the blue and gray pattern on the bigger notebook and the gold stripes on the smaller note book, I seriously love, not sure if I will ever use this notebook, kidding!

I did have to stop myself after 2 notebooks. I love paper... always have and I have tons of paper in my house and at my desk at work. Not sure I needed these but I just liked them so much. My sister when we were very little called me a paper freak because I ate paper, but I think I may still be a bit of a paper freak (I just don't eat it anymore).

Did I get anything else done this weekend? Well I bought a new 4 piece conversation set and an outdoor rug and got it almost set up on my deck, took my kiddos to their golf lessons Saturday morning, then attended a kid's birthday party at Kings Island (a local amusement park) from 3pm-until I got home at 12am!, and Sunday was spent cleaning house, working on my daughter's bedroom curtains (half done!), and making green beans, canning pickles, and making zucchini bread. Last paying a visit to my good friend Jen who lives3 doors down. What didn't I get finished...weeell my daughter's bedroom curtains, no new posts here, didn't completely get my deck set up, didn't get to help finish staining the deck, didn't get to replace 2 plants that died, and didn't get to finish working on my junk drawer clean out project (that's still to come this week). But I did get 2 pretty notebooks :-)

If you need a cute notebook check out Target they had some very cute designs, I paid $3.99 per notebook.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Part 2 - Cleaning My Drawers! -- Junk Drawer #1


Yesterday I showed you my new silverware drawer. This change required me swapping my silverware and junk drawer #1 around. This move places my silverware next to the dishwasher and next to the drawers holding my big spoons. My junk drawer is being moved next to the oven and trash can.

This drawer is embarrassing to show, but its more embarrassing when we have people over and the guests always go to that drawer and open it thinking its a silverware drawer.

This was a purge, lots of trash in that drawer, plus it is amazing how much of that drawer had tools that belong in the garage!!  Hummm, wonder who put those in there and not in the garage after using them??? 

This container also from The Container Store cost less than $20. It is 2 tier so you can store a lot of "stuff" in the small space. I am hoping this will help control the amount of junk we keep.

Part 1 - Cleaning My Drawers! --- Silverware Drawer

My kitchen! Aaahhh my kitchen.

I have mentioned before that closets, and drawers are my weakness. They hide all sort of messes. I have been on a mission to get them organized.

Our 10 year plan was to re-do our kitchen and the flooring on our 1st floor. This is year ten, but after a health emergency in my household in late 2011, we were left with some substantial hospital bills and we decided that the flooring and kitchen should wait until we get those bills paid off so the kitchen and flooring are on hold this year.

This does not excuse the mess. We have 3 drawers that are junk drawers, who needs 3 junk drawers! that is 3 drawers of space we lose. So I decided it was time to move my silverware drawer over to the top junk drawer and the top junk drawer over to the silverware drawer.

So Part 1 is the clean out of the silverware drawer. This moves the drawer over by the dishwasher and directly under the cabinet that hold the dishes, it makes sense. My issue with this drawer is the size was too small, the silverware tray was sitting on top of all kinds of stuff and it made finding things difficult.

Part 2 will be moving Junk Drawer #1 over to the small silverware drawer. Part #3 and #4 will be clearing out the 2 other junk drawers.

The drawer organizer comes from the container store if you are interested in this, I don't remember the cost but it was less than $20.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lemon Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Another food post! 

We have friends that live 4 doors down that have an annual July 4th party. They suggest bringing a side dish and they provide all the grill goodies, condiments, toppings, and dinnerware (aka napkins, plastic utensils, and paper plates --- no "real" dishes, they would be doing dishes for days!). So we usually bring a few side dishes to help feed the masses. This year I decided to do 1 side dish and 2 desserts.

My niece Emily specifically asked me to bring the reese pieces blondie brownies that I found on the Chocolate Moosey blog and I made a huge crock pot of my Aunt Geri's cheesey potatoes (I bet she never thought I was paying attention to her telling the story of how these were created (when I was a teenager) but you better believe I was listening!). Both were devoured! I promise to post the potato recipe later, I didn't even think about taking a picture of them.

My third dish was a lemon cake with a blueberry sauce. My sister-in-law Cathy took my kids and 3 other nieces blueberry picking and they came back with ALOT of blueberries. I had a big bag in my fridge and it was not going to last much longer. So I decided to make something....anything to use up the berries.

I looked online trying to find some recipe but nothing really stood out. I wanted something easy and I had lemon on the brain. I was initially thinking a blueberry upside down lemon cake but was worried the blueberries would bubble over and make a mess.

I ended up making a box mix (Duncan Hines) Lemon cake mix in a rectangular baking pan. Then I used 4 cups of blueberries and mixed it with 3/4 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons corn syrup, and dotted with 2-3 tablespoons butter. I baked the blueberries at 350 degrees for about an hour just checked them to make sure they were soft and they made plenty of syrup.

I took a drinking straw and poked holes in the baked and cooled cake and then poured a generous amount of blueberries on the top. I did this the night before the party, though for presentation I would have preferred doing it the day of the party. This cake was devoured too!  It was really good!

The blueberry sauce on its own was amazing. It could be used as an ice cream topping, pancake syrup, as a ice cream add in if you make your own ice cream or to top a cheesecake. With the lemon cake it was a great combination.

Sorry for the crude pics but I decided to cut up the cake and take it in a foil pan to decrease the amount of stuff I had to carry back home last night.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Clearance Finds -- Lowes

Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend! Ours was all rain until today, and now it is sunny and warm out. Hope it stays like this I need to get my deck stained the rest of the way!

On my front porch I have been wanting some ferns, so off I went to Lowes and Walmart last weekend and neither one had any ferns. Bummer. I did find the clearance rack for house and patio plants at Lowes and bought 2 Dracaena Marginata plants for $2.00 each! 

I looked at these plants from top to bottom trying to figure out what was wrong but they looked healthy. I asked an employee and was told that when they get too many sent to them they clearance them out. Score!

I also needed pots to plant these in and I really wanted a white pot, I thought it would be the best choice because these plants will come in during the winter months. But Lowe's didn't have what I needed, so I settled for these red bamboo pot that were clearance for $8.97.

After I got home I pulled the 2 pots apart and that's when I found the sticker inside the bottom pot saying these are indoor use only AND requires a liner. I went back to Lowe's but no liners that would work and then went to Walmart and found the white plastic pots I liked for $12. So the red pots are going to be returned to Lowe's.

I wish I had bought a couple more of the plants on clearance, my deck needs some plants too! But I heard that Walmart got some ferns in this week, so I will probably be heading over there this week to get the ferns.


Friday, July 5, 2013

End of Summer Clerance Finds -- Walmart

Hope you all had a great July 4th! Here in the OH, it has rained for the past month, yesterday was cold and it rained the entire day.
I was wondering around last weekend and decided to drop in Walmart to look for a liner for a flower pot I bought from Lowe's. While I did not find the liner I did discover all patio sets on clearance.

I have been wanting a small table set for my pool deck and since our big patio table was a victim of the wind last year we are needing another table pretty bad.

I found this Better Homes and Garden set on clearance for $148 and the umbrella on clearance for $35. They only had the display and 2 sets left so I bought it without consulting the Mr. for his opinion of the set. (He likes it). We put the set together in about 20 minutes, it was very simple. The color is bright red and cheerful.

I wanted blue but I do like the red, it will work! We are looking at conversation sets too for our big upper deck to replace the table that the wind got, the one we are looking at comes in red (amongst other colors) so I think it will work together nicely!

Sorry no pics of it on the deck but until the rain lets up this set will stay in the garage. Hope you're finding good end of summer deals!