menu plan monday: 27|09 to 03|10

Monday, September 27, 2010 0 comments
It's been a whole week since I've posted to the blog. Things have taken a huge turn at our house and I've been otherwise occupied (and preoccupied). More to come on that at a later date. It's a big change but it's all good.

I very much like to know in advance what's for supper on any given day so without further ado, here is how supper will be shaping up for us this coming week.

There aren't many new recipes this week. We'll be eating some leftovers and some of the recipes didn't get made as posted on previous weeks.

Monday: leftover Carrot and Roasted Tomato Soup
Tuesday: leftover Boston Baked Beans
Wednesday: Mexican Lasagna, salad
Thursday: shredded beef and gnocchi, orange green beans
Friday: Potato Ham Soup with corn added
Saturday: grilled cheese sandwiches
Sunday: ham steaks with pineapple, potatoes, and carrots

If you're looking for more ideas, Org Junkie hosts Menu Plan Monday every week and there are always hundreds of links to look through.

menu plan monday: 20|09 - 26|09

Monday, September 20, 2010 0 comments
It's time for another edition of Menu Plan Monday. We're going to stick with tried and true recipes this week.

Our suppers for the next seven days will be:

Monday: spaghetti and Caesar salad
Tuesday: tuna melts on rye bread
Wednesday: massaged kale salad with mango and pistachios
Thursday: Moroccan-Spiced Tomato Chicken with Almonds
Friday: Carrot and Roasted Tomato Soup with garlic bread
Saturday: Boston Baked Beans
Sunday: Ham, Pineapple and Cheese Pizza Scrolls

You'll find hundreds more recipes and menu ideas over at Org Junkie.


Thursday, September 16, 2010 0 comments
I've joined the bandwagon.

I'm not so sure it's a fad as much as a trend but whatever it is, I've been seeing more and more blogs and magazines showing chalkboard walls of varying degrees and I've decided that I like it. We'll see how I feel when the chalk dust is backlit by the early morning sun streaming in through the windows.

It took me awhile to figure out where to put such a wall. I knew I wanted something small and unobtrusive. I considered my son's closet door but decided against that; I think I may do it if/when I re-do his room. The only other wall that made any sort of sense wasn't even a wall.

full disclosure clutter photo in the spirit of keeping it real

I decided that the end piece of the cabinet surrounding my fridge was the only logical place for a chalkboard wall. Reaching from the floor almost to the ceiling, it provides a clear, unobstructed surface and is in the perfect location - out of the way. There's a long wall immediately to the right of this picture, which runs parallel to the soon-to-be chalkboard wall, and runs all the way along the open-ish kitchen to the living room. The room behind is the back entrance, our main entrance, and to the right of that window overlooking the backyard are the stairs to the basement.

I ran a strip of painter's tape along the wall and took a deep breath before I opened the can of paint. It was a good thing I did because I am uneducated in the school of chalkboard paint and I nearly died when I saw what was under the lid.

Blue!! A dusky dark-ish blue but still blue! I double-checked the box, sure that I had only seen green and black at the store and indeed, the box read "black finish". I looked again. No way was that black. It was blue. I sighed, dropped my shoulders, and went off to find something to stir my blue paint with. I found a tongue depressor (a clean one) and started stirring. I stirred. And  stirred. Holding my tongue depressor in the top inch with my fingertips as any lower than that and I'd be stirring the paint with my fingers too. I thought I saw a faint hint of black swirling in the blue so I stirred some more. I must have stirred for five full minutes before the paint turned black. It was quite uncomfortable during the process as the angle and hold of the stirring stick was very awkward but once it was over, it didn't matter. I had black paint.

There's no turning back now!

I can't roll a thick coat of paint to save my life. The box read, "If more than one coat is needed, apply second coat after four hours." I needed three coats, thankyouverymuch, and I only waited about two hours between the first two; the third coat went on about five hours after the second. I had some windows open so maybe that helped. The box also said it would be dry to the touch in 30 minutes but it was dry in about 15 as far as I could tell.

I have a tiny bit of tidying up to do where the cabinet meets the wall. There is a bead of caulk there and the paint dabbed under the tape in a few spots. I'll have to run another bead to clean it up. All in all though, it was a very quick and simple project and I'm surprised it was so easy to take the leap to painting black on my white cabinets. Oh the horror! I just painted them last year, covering over a very orange-y/red cherry wood. Leap of faith, and all that, right?

This post is linked to Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage.

ahead of the game

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 0 comments
I am a procrastinator and as far as gifts go, despite having a "Christmas 2010" list drafted up giving me more than ample time to do what I need to do, the week before Christmas is going to roll around and I will not be ready. Which is why I'm surprised that I'm 3/4 of the way done with a wedding gift that is to be given towards the end of October.

I posted the other day about the gorgeous cherry wood bowl that a local man makes as a hobby. I plan to give it to my cousin and his fiancée, who are only a month and a bit away from their wedding. I want the wedding gift to be unique and a little funky. I personally love both parts of their gift and I hope both pieces suit them as well.

I've seen these framed pieces around blogland in the past but I stumbled on it again at My 3 Monsters, the blog of Amy Gregson, and it instantly attached itself in my mind as something fun and different to give as a wedding gift. Who needs more white tablecloths and coffe makers? And while cash is always appreciated and even the norm these days it seems, I guess I'm old-fashioned and it feels tacky to me. So I dug through the flickr photostream of the incredibly generous Leo Reynolds, whose flickr account is beyond full of typography photos (including scores of invididual letters and numbers) as well as signs, architectural elements, and textures.

I finally had to stop looking at pictures because I found myself changing my mind on any given letter with each new page of photos viewed. I found everything I needed at Mr. Reynolds' account apart from the last tile, which spanned two spaces. The photo for the last space, I found at the flickr account of Imagix3D. I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to fill those two spaces without altering the mood of the rest of the piece and finally found the perfect photo. I love how this turned out! It's currently just a file on my computer, 12 inches square. I'm not sure if I'll size it down a little or not; that will depend on what frame I find.

All in all, this piece will only cost me to have it printed off at a photo developer (I only have a non-colour laser printer) and a frame. Not bad! I suppose the bowl voids any money saved on this artwork. I will post a finished shot and link it up to some blog parties once it is completely finished.

menu plan monday: 13|09 to 19|09

Monday, September 13, 2010 0 comments
For some reason I was actually looking forward to planning this week's supper menu and, instead of scrambling to do it Sunday night or Monday morning, I had it figured out by Friday night.

This week all of our supper meals are at home as I have no night shifts until the following week. Our suppers for the next seven days use up several items in my freezer and pantry. I will have a few ingredients to buy, however, along with fresh fruit.

Monday: beef stew, homemade bread
Tuesday: baked sweet potato with apples & turkey sausage, Special Cauliflower
Wednesday: turkey meatballs with chili sauce/crabapple jelly, brown rice, sautéed edamame
Thursday: pot pie or shepherd's pie with shredded pork, salad
Friday: Carrot and Roasted Tomato Soup, garlic bread
Saturday: Mexican Lasagna, salad
Sunday: shredded beef and gnocchi, orange green beans

Fellow Canuck Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie hosts Menu Plan Monday each week and she always gets a huge response with well over 200 bloggers participating. If you're stumped at all as to what to make for supper, take a swing past Laura's blog and find a few ideas.

spread the love sunday

Sunday, September 12, 2010 0 comments
This gray and dreary Sunday morning seems like the perfect day to spread some link love. I am still pouring over DIY blogs, tunneling deeper and deeper into this amazing community. I am quickly filling up my bookmarks with projects and ideas as well as populating my blog reader with new blogs to read. The creativity and vision out there astounds me, probably mostly because I do not have much of it of my own.

Sharing a few more links and tutorials I've found that have caught my interest, this post ties in with the one from Friday:
Go check out the above blogs! Just don't blame me for the getting sucked in and losing time.

supporting the locals

Saturday, September 11, 2010 0 comments
Every summer our city has a Saturday farmer's market, which runs from the May long weekend to Thanksgiving weekend in October. I don't think I made it to the market at all last year; this year I've only been twice. The first time was to pick up a pail of honey from a local vendor and the second time, today, was to pick up a hand worked cherry wood bowl from a booth I had noticed the first time.

The gentleman who makes these does amazing work. That bowl, and the other varieties that he has for sale, is smooth like glass apart from the bark rim. I asked him if he had a card and he advised that he doesn't, that he does this as a hobby.

I have a wedding to go to in October. A younger cousin of mine is getting married. He and his fiancée are laid back country folks and spend nearly every weekend "in Home", which is what we in the family call the little  collection of hamlets in which my grandparents were raised and where our parents were also born and raised. I wanted to give a wedding present that was unique and I think this fits that bill and suits them well. I also plan to make an "Established" piece for them, like this one by Amy of My 3 Monsters. Simple, unique (as least as far as their wedding presents will go), and sincere. I think the rustic nature of the bowl and the personality of the framed piece also tie in with a fall wedding.

I'll share the artwork once I get it done.

drowning in ideas

Friday, September 10, 2010 0 comments
I have spent far too much time the last few days reading through incredible crafty blogs and I'm feeling deliciously overwhelmed with all the inspiration and amazing-ness out there in DIY world. I am a person who has a bit of a hard time taking a circular piece of corkboard, three nails, a piece of tinfoil, and a picture frame and, using only my own imagination and whimsy, turning it into a dining room centrepiece. Some people can do it though and do it amazingly well. Me, I borrow my imagination from other people for the most part. And that is why my bookmarks have grown like crazy over the past few days. I now have an almost unmanageable collection of tutorials and inspiration photos to sort through. Tutorials and photos including the following few:
All these potential projects combined with my huge itemized To Do list of things around the house will keep me busy (if I can stop procrastinating long enough to start) for the foreseeable future. And now that school is back on for another year, I have my weekday days off to myself again. Plenty of time for a few projects.

thrifty thursday

Thursday, September 9, 2010 0 comments
I'm not sure if this post will really qualify as being thrifty seeing as I spent $92 acquiring these items but they did come from a thrift store...

I was at Value Village yesterday looking for a small bookshelf (which I didn't find). While there, I noticed and debated over two wall shelves. They were $5.99 each and would need refinishing in the form of painting. Though I held them in my hands and turned them over and over and very nearly carried them around the store with me, I couldn't think of where in my house I would put them. So I left them behind without another thought. Until this morning when I realized that they would be perfect for the empty hall wall that runs along one side of my open kitchen and extends a little into the living room. So back to Value Village I went to buy just these two items and nothing else.

There they are. On the left. Two somewhat cheaply-made shelves. They're the ones that look sort of like molding and have a plate groove running along the top. Clockwise from the bottom, they are standing next to a plain and solid corner shelf which has a bit of a scalloped apron (is that the word?) on the front; another shelf with pegs and a horrible paint job (I'm seeing new paint, distressing, and three different-sized photo frames hanging from jute off those pegs); a slatted wood thing that I'm thinking may make a cool bathmat once it's sanded and stained; a cork board (you can juuuust see the corner peeking out); and a wooden frame from one of those big wall calendars, which I'm thinking could be used to house a variation on this. (There's also a bit of a gallery of them here.)

Nevermind that darker wood piece in the left corner of the picture. That's just the bookshelf that I couldn't find yesterday.

Solid wood and only $4.99. It has a ring-shaped water stain on the top (which I kind of like) but that will be taken care of once it's painted or otherwise re-finished. I'm not sure where this one will go since I like the cube shaped one in the sewing room despite it's contrasting colour. I just bought this one because I couldn't find it yesterday. Elude me, will you!? Tucked in the corner between the shelf and the wall is a pack of five lengths of beadboard-like MDF panels; these guys are only two strips wide and when putting them up, they over lap each other. I have a possible project in mind using them on the sides of a cheap pressboard flat-pack bookshelf in my rec room and finishing it out with molding and a couple of coats of paint.

What else did I find at the thrift store today? A roll of paintable slightly-textured wallpaper, a roll of white contact paper, a bag of about four or five mats for a picture frame, a bag of three- or four-inch cork circles, a plethora of baskets, some faux  flowers,  a bag of wooden rings with eye hooks in them (I have the idea to string them together into a wreath but I'm stuck after that), and a wooden wall hanging thing with three sliding tiles (to be completely re-worked).

Thrifty in that they were thrift store finds, not so much in the total price considering I just went for the two wall shelves. I have my projects cut out for me! And I still have thrift store items from previous purchases that I haven't blogged yet. It's a sickness, I tell you.

This post is linked to Thrifty Thursday.

works for me wednesday: shopping at home

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 0 comments
If you're anything like me, you'll go along fine in your home until you suddenly decide that you need a certain piece of furniture or home decor item and you need it NOW. You'll almost immediately head out in search of said item, finding and purchasing numerous other items along the way, yet return home without that item in tow. And then, the next day, you'll head out again because really, you cannot survive another day without that item despite the fact that you were perfectly fine before it crossed your mind.

Or maybe I'm the only one.

My sewing room has pretty much been a mess since I bought my house and moved in three years ago. It is a main floor bedrom that became the spot to ditch all the miscellaneous boxes of stuff that I shouldn't have moved with me in the first place, stuff I didn't really need and therefore had no motivation to unpack. The room has never really recovered from that though it has been alternately a disaster and not too bad. I've recently started tackling it again, however it once again stalled a week or so ago when I decided that a small, low bookshelf would be perfect to put under the window to store the books that had nowhere else to go. A valid idea, to be sure, but it became more of an "I must have a bookshelf to put these books on before I can do anything else in the room" situation.

And so I hunted. I knew what I wanted. Something like the bookshelves that our ancient encyclopedias had sat on when I was growing up. A simple two-shelf bookshelf. Finding one around town - used since I wasn't going to pay for a new one - was another story. Two weeks of looking everywhere and then looking again at the same places produced nothing.

Today as I was working in the sewing room it occurred to me that I had a perfectly usable bookshelf (or what would work as a bookshelf) in my rec room. It was not what I had been envisioning and it was black as opposed to the white of the other shelves in the room, but a) it was free, b) it was sturdy, and c) it was the perfect size. Sold! I moved it up and it fits all the books that needed to go on it, a stack of oversized patterns, as well as two round boxes which hold my polyresin snaps (from my diaper-sewing days) and my zipper stash.

I have another small black bookshelf in a different style that I'm going to put beside it.

Pardon the mess. It acutally looks phenomenally uncluttered compared to how it has been in the past. To the right of the black shelf are the "legs" that hold up my two sewing tables, one a piece of MDF and one a hollow-core door, both painted with oil-based floor paint in an oops colour from Home Depot. The table "leg" visible in this picture holds Burda WOF and Ottobre Women pattern magazines on the bottom, children's Ottobre mags in the middle, and miscellaneous clothing and diaper patterns on the top. The two batting-covered cubes to the right of the home-shopped black shelf are footstools that I've been meaning to recover for months upon months; they are from Canadian Tire and were formerly covered with reed, however they started to break down and I took the reeds off. Here they sit. Someday they'll be finished.

In the meantime, now that I've found my crucial bookshelf, the organzing of the sewing room can continue. Onward ho!

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

menu plan monday: 06|09 to 12|09

Monday, September 6, 2010 0 comments
Menu Plan Monday happens on, coincidentally, Mondays and it's time once again. This week only sees us having two supper meals at home due to my schedule but I'm including my work suppers here as well.

Here goes.

Monday: Honey-Baked Lentils over rice
Tuesday: tuna noodle casserole
Wednesday: Potato Leek Soup
Thursday: leftover lentils
Friday: leftover casserole
Saturday: massaged kale salad
Sunday: leftover soup

I have a bit of produce to pick up this week but other than that, all of our food should be coming from the fridge, freezer, and pantry. This week I'll also be making rice pudding and bread.

As always, head over to Laura's blog, I'm an Organizing Junkie, to check out other menu plans or to contribute your own.

everything's coming up tomatoes

Friday, September 3, 2010 0 comments
This cheery Aster and a few of his Aster friends are out in full bloom following some rain that visited us last night and this morning. A very nice sight for a somewhat gloomy day. The sun is trying to peek out now and is slowly pushing away the grey clouds, making way for big, white, fluffy ones.

I took a quick walk around the yard when I got home from work and saw that it was time for a check-in with my hardy chipmunk-sown (I'm guessing) tomato plant. The one that is growing right against my house out of a crack in my brick patio. The one who only receives a few hours of sunlight on a good day not a whole lot of water from what I can tell.

It first looked like this

And then this

And now, today, it looks like this. There are branches extending behind the patio chair and out in front of the little greenhouse too. Ignore the weeds in these photos.

It is absolutely loaded with green cherry tomatoes and there are nearly as many flowers still as there are tomatoes.

There are a couple just starting to get a slight blush on them. I'm going to have to figure out what to do with a million cherry tomatoes though. Can them, maybe?

Around the rest of the vegetable gardens my canteloupe is still growing slowly and I noticed today that it looks like it's starting to get a few faint surface bumps that will be the webbing. My Dragon Tongue beans are still growing and it's all I can do not to pick them and eat them raw; I'm trying to let the remaining ones grow so I can pick them for seed to use next year. The herbs are still hanging on, the peas and wax beans need to be pulled out, the corn isn't going to amount to anything but I did notice a few silks sticking out of  some of the stalks earlier today.

The Lemon Boy tomatoes are just starting to change colour and I enjoyed the one on the left, sun-warmed and eaten like an apple, when I got home from work this afternoon.

The hot banana peppers are ready for picking and some are starting to turn red. My boyfriend is going to try pickling them.

With each year that I plant a garden (this is my third), I learn new things and figure out what I'll do the next year. I plan to do more patio plants, putting my peppers and herbs in pots, and to plant less things just more of them. This growing season is nearing an end but next year's is only a winter off.

like riding a bike

Thursday, September 2, 2010 0 comments
My niece's birthday is today and it was only yesterday that I realized that it wasn't just approaching anymore, it was here. She is reading the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard and I bought her the movie that was made for the first book. As I was scrambling yesterday to think of something else to put with her gift, I took a look through my internet bookmarks. I came across a ponytail elastic tutorial but couldn't find the hair elastics I had bought (and never used) last Christmas for this tutorial or the container of uncovered buttons. So covered-button ponytail elastics were out and then I came across a tutorial for an apron, which looked simple enough and quick enough to do. Onward to the sewing room!

It has been at least six months (I'm guessing) since I've sewn anything. It's probably been even longer than that. The sewing room hasn't been clean enough to use. Even now, despite two consecutive weeks of making it my Two Things Tuesday challenge, the sewing room sits half cleared. There was enough clear floor space to plop down my cutting mat and set up my ironing board though and enough table space to access both my sewing machine and serger (I didn't need to use the coverstitch machine for this project).  I've missed sewing, missed creating useful things with fabric and thread, and I've missed my machines. I didn't realize just how much until I sat down at them again yesterday.

I dug through my stash of cotton woven fabric and chose two prints.

Using Randi's instructions I whipped up a cute little apron in relatively short order, choosing to omit the downward-hanging bib panel. My son wouldn't put the apron on and let me take a picture until I promised him that I wouldn't get his head in the shot. He's not that much smaller than my 9-year-old niece so he was also modeling it for me to check the fit.

After the apron was wrapped up, I started looking through my wovens again and came up with these two, an Anna Griffin pink and red paisley and a remnant bin white fabric with green checks which picks up the thin green lines in the paisley print.

I used the same tutorial as for my niece's apron but also included elements of this free apron pattern. I changed the measurements of the pieces somewhat from the first apron, included a full-width pocket panel, with the three pockets as per the second pattern, made bias tape to trim the pocket, and gathered the front of the apron at the waist a bit. I even used one of the tags I had custom made for me a few years ago.

I absolutely love the finished product. I love the colours (even though I'm not a fan of pink or ruffles) and how well the stitching turned out. But I have no idea what to do with it. To keep it would mean it would be stuffed into a kitchen drawer and rarely used since I never think to grab an apron when I'm cooking or baking. To give it away would be very difficult. I think I'll add it to my Christmas Gifts 2010 list and figure out who to give it to later.

In the meantime, I'll be looking for another set of print fabric to make up a third one.

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday.

the great outdoors

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 0 comments
Nature is amazing. Take the following two pictures, for example.

Such textures and patterns and intricate details. It makes me wonder just how the bark grows like that or if it grew relatively smoothly and then took on that pattern as the tree got older and the bark dried out. The roots blow my mind. It's so amazing to see them laying on the ground how they might appear underground, all intertwined and reaching and beautiful.

Monday afternoon, despite the humidity and relentless sun, we went to Pete's Dam in Dymond Township. As far as I can remember, the only other waterfall I've hiked near is the one here in our city, near the outskirts. I find waterfalls endlessly amazing: the way the rocks become shaped, the little pools and whorls, how the water can be rushing in one spot and two feet over be gently flowing along, and mostly the power and sound of the water as it goes on its way the same as it has seemingly always done.

Scenes like these make me wish I had learned how to shoot my camera off the auto settings. That needs to be something I learn to do this year. Nature is amazing and beautiful, awe-inspiring and humbling. I'd like to be able to better capture some of that without a little bit better.

reality bites

Yesterday morning my son and I arrived back home after three days away. We were up at my boyfriend's parents' house on the Montreal River. Three days of sun, heat, breezes, boating, fishing, late bedtimes, and no schedules makes it hard to come back home to get ready for work tomorrow. I get five days off in a row (five days off, four shifts on, five more days off) twice in my seven-week schedule rotation and it's very hard to see them over for another seven weeks. Especially when this had been the view for those three days.

This post is linked to Watery Wednesday.