Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dining Room SOS!

Today I'm asking for a bit of help with my dining room!

So many of you have great ideas and great blogs of your own, I decided to call upon your collective creativity for this space.

So here's what we have...

Instead of a solid back wall to the dining room, we have an ugly hot water heater crammed in to a corner. There is a door above the hot water heater. Many years ago, steps occupied the area. They were probably removed when the kitchen was converted to a dining room in 1969.

Next to the eye sore, is a fireplace mantle. 

I put it there. 

For some reason, we had two extra mantles in the house when we moved in.

Behind the mantle is a brick chimney that was plastered over. Originally, this was the chimney that went with the stove. Hidden behind a false wall is a flue cover.

Eventually, I plan to expose the brick.

I do like the idea of the mantle and the exposed brick.

I don't like the idea of having yet another mantle to decorate. Right now, it's a pretty convenient spot for storing out Soda Stream. It might be fun to make it a sort of beverage station!


The hot water heater... It's not like we can move it. I don't know if a beaded doorway is the answer, but it's better than leaving it open.

Here's a nice breakdown:

Hit me with your ideas and creative solutions! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Strawberry Syrup for Soda

I am not a kitchen gadget person. My kitchen is very small. My house lacks storage in general. So, when I get a new kitchen tool, it needs to be necessary... or small.

At the end of last year, I hosted a house party and was given a Soda Stream to demonstrate. I had two friends decide they HAD to have one, so I guess the party was a success!

I wasn't sure how much I'd actually use a homemade soda machine. It seemed ridiculous. Impractical, even. I spent time trying to figure out how much money I'd save making soda at home vs buying it on sale.

And yet, I couldn't help falling in love with it!

One of my favorite things to do is just carbonate the water and add citrus oils. It's far less expensive to do this than buy citrus flavored carbonated water.

Like most things, you have to look for deals. We trade in our used canisters. A friend said he trades his in at a store where he can use discount coupons! I haven't tried it yet, but hey...if it saves money, right?

My biggest savings comes in the syrups. I use my discount points from Sears to buy syrups. Every time I have "surprise points," I end up with free syrup. It was an even better deal when I found the syrups on sale for half price AND I used my points!

Today, I got a really fantastic deal on strawberries at the farmer's market. Instead of jam, I decided to try my hand at making a strawberry syrup to use in the Soda Stream.

It was crazy simple and I ended up beating several levels of Candy Crush while it cooked.

Homemade Strawberry Soda

4 C sliced strawberries
3 C water
2 C sugar

In a large saucepan, bring the sliced strawberries and water to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Skim off any foam.

Using a mesh strainer, pour the strawberries and juice from the large saucepan into a smaller one. Do NOT push down on the berries. Just let it drain. 

To the smaller saucepan with the juice, add 2 C sugar. Simmer about 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Cool. Pour in to glass jar with lid. Store in refrigerator.

To make soda, carbonate 1 liter of water. Add 1/2 C syrup.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shelf Liner Back Splash

After two years at looking at the previous owner's attempt at a back splash, I finally decided to do something about it.

It wasn't just that the paintable wallpaper was ugly, it was also completely impractical. Every time water splashed on it, the paintable wall paper discolored. Probably because it had never been painted.

The picture, clearly, is not good quality. But it's enough to see the vast BLAH and BLECH that was the back splash. Heck, you can even see the color the kitchen was painting before. Yup...ORANGE. I love orange (my bedroom is orange!) But not in the kitchen. That was the first room to get a nice repainting to turquoise.

Here's another look at the paintable wallpaper...and you can see how it's started to discolor

So, what to do with pretty much no budget and about 4 hours before company came over?

I made a trip to the dollar store where I picked up five rolls of shelf liner. I figured it was definitely washable. Going with a black and white pattern, I could add some pizzazz to the back of the sink. And it wouldn't look terrible with my red accessories.

Toss in some industrial glue and what could possibly go wrong?

Aside from a sticky mess of glue on my fingers and trying to adjust for shelf paper that didn't quite line up perfectly (probably why it ended up at the dollar store) didn't look half bad!

I have no idea how long this is going to hold up. With an investment of about $5, it really doesn't matter if it has to all come down in about 6 months.

If anyone decided to attempt such a project, my only recommendation would be to use a permanent spray adhesive instead of super glue or other permanent type bonding adhesive.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

TARDIS apron

Our love of cooking and all things Doctor Who came together with this apron.

I only wish it had stayed at our house. Instead, it was shipped away to Chris as part of a craft swap.

The apron itself was premade. Sometimes, you just need to take a bit of help from the store! It was the perfect color and the cost was actually less than buying fabric and bias tape.

The other materials (felt and iron-on flocked letters) came out of my craft stash.

One of the reasons I took so much store help on this is because I've been substitute teaching so much. I'm working three days a week, usually. That probably doesn't sound like much to those of you who work. 40 hours a week and still manage a family, but having been a SAHM for so long... This transition back to the workforce needs to be slow. Not just for me, but the family.

Subbing has been awesome. I've learned that not only do I enjoy teaching (when teachers leave me materials and not just busy work), I do NOT love the primary grades. Anything below third grade usually results in me needing a bps by the end of the day! High school is by fat my favorite age.

And, with that knowledge, I'm going back to college to get a Masters in a Secondary Education, specializing in English.  Today, I selected my classes and wow... Some of the graduate level classes seem like real snoozers... Like 17th century British poetry. I'm taking two Ed classes and American Realist Writers because I didn't really want to take advanced grammar! Why can't there be a semester long graduate class on Poe? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ground Beef Gyros

I'm not entirely sure what I did, but I managed to hurt my back this past week. It was bad enough I had to call out of a sub job at one of my favorite schools and I made an appointment to see a chiropractor.

The good news is today, I can walk without pain!

And for the first time in longer than I care to admit, I actually made a fairly decent meal for the family. I'd been pawning off the cooking to D, one of the kids, or throwing chicken in the oven with a bit of salt and pepper. Very much zzzzz meals.

This recipe is one of my standby ground beef recipes. It goes together quick and has plenty of vegetables in it...and the kids gobble it all up.

Honestly, this is a "cheater" recipe in that I take some liberties with the sauce. It's not authentic, but it's definitely tasty.

Ground Beef Gyros

1 container Cucumber Dill Feta Otria Greek Yogurt Dip 

1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 t oregano
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
3/4 t pepper

4 pita breads, cut in half
1cucumber, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 head of lettuce

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil. In a small bowl, mix together ground beef and seasonings. Shape in to four patties. Place on lined cookie sheet. Broil, about 4 inches from heat for about 7 minutes on each side.

Cut the patties in to slices. Fill pita with sliced meat, yogurt dip, cucumber, lettuce and tomato.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

New Glasses storage

This is a sponsored post on behalf of  I have received compensation for this post, however, all opinions are mine. 

I was in fourth grade when I started wearing eyeglasses. It wasn't cool. I remember picking out these pinkish plastic cat eye frames. They were horrible. They definitely didn't suit my face.

Then came the overly large plastic frames on middle school. *shudder* I paired them with a perm. 

By the time high school rolled around, I discovered small wire frames and spent a brief time in contacts. Contacts BTW were way too much work and I ditched them shortly after I got married. 

Sometime after B was born, I discovered fashionable frames. . .frames that actually looked good on me and were stylish. I think that's when I fell in love with glasses as an accessory. 

It wasn't really affordable to collect an assortment of frames to go with different outfits or moods. With my prescription, there was happiness in just finding something non-ugly that could hold my lenses.

Then came the internet and all the sites with cheap eyeglasses! I love to buy glasses online.

My little girls love my glasses. You are supposed to store glasses in the cases but that doesn't always work with little helpers. I needed a way to keep the glasses up and out of their reach, yet within mine. 

Decorative and functional: An old frame, some paint and ribbon! And the glasses get to hang out ... I'm thinking I might need to add some more color to my glasses! 

I'm really pleased with my latest pair from Honestly, out of all the companies I've tried, I've been most impressed with their ordering process, shipping and quality. And I'm not just saying that because they offered me a credit to try their services for discount glasses.

First, super impressed with the Virtual Mirror feature. I liked being able to scroll through all the glasses and see how they looked on my face without clicking each pair.

Second, it was nice to get emails to know where in the process my glasses order was. From the time I ordered to receiving the glasses was just under two weeks.

Third, quality. These aren't cheap plastic frames. There is a definite weight to the glasses. This isn't a bad thing. Some plastic frames from other online companies don't have weight to them... And tend to snap or crack. It goes back to the old saying of  "You get what you pay for!" There is a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee and a 110 percent low price guarantee. Definitely satisfied with the price and quality.

GlassesUSA wants you to try for yourself and is offering my readers a discount!  Use the code BLOG10 for 10 percent off your order.

There is even a refer a friend program where you can get a $30 credit towards your next pair of glasses.