Friday, September 25, 2009

A lamp re-do

Updated to link to DIY day over at Kimba's:


I found this cute lamp at Goodwill a while ago for $3.99! I was looking for lamp shades for some other lamps I picked up at a yardsale back in July.

I loved the shape and thought this would be a great lamp in my boys' bedroom. When I bought the supplies for my piano bench, I also picked up some blue spray paint. I had a lot of fun spray painting the bench so I went ahead and did the lamp too. It sat on the top of my armoire waiting for me to get back to it and finish the lamp shade for about 2 weeks. Today, I finally pulled out the fabric and did the lamp shade, sort of following this tutorial. I sprayed adhesive on the shade to help keep the fabric in place as I hot glued it down. I did the bottom first and then pleated the fabric at the top to keep the stripes straight. It turned out pretty good, I think. The only problem is that you can still see the little curly things on the shade when the lamp is on. I think I'll be lining the inside of the lampshade with some leftover vinyl or something soon and see if that helps.
I think my boys like it, don't you?

It won't get it's permanent home until after our move. Two more weeks until we close on our house!

**Don't forget my vinyl giveaway. I'll be picking a winner tonight at midnight!**

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vinyl giveaway

I was working on a sign for a lady this morning and realized halfway through that I was supposed to cut it out mirrored. Since I was almost done, I finished it and now I'm offering it to one of you! It's in black matte and just under 8x10 inches in size (safe for any surface!). Leave a comment with your favorite Fall tradition to enter. I'll pick a winner on Friday (Sept 25th).
This is a picture of the sign offered. It has transfer paper on it; the vinyl really is black.

Piñata meets origami

Parker had his 3rd birthday this past weekend. We had a little party for him and he had a blast! This year, he wanted frogs again, so I decided to do something a little different. My mom made piñatas for our birthday when we were kids so, I'm hoping to make this a tradition in our family.

Piñatas are really easy, they just take some time. I didn't take pictures of each step, but basically, you blow up a balloon and hang it up on a string somewhere. Rip newspaper into little strips (about 2" x 5" or so). I used the grocery store ads we get in the mail. Put a layer of newspaper dipped in water over the entire surface of your balloon. Immediately put another layer of newspaper dipped in flour paste (see below) over the wet newspaper and let it dry. I did that step in the evening and let it dry overnight. Because my piñata was going to be for toddlers, I wrapped wire (12 to 14 gauge) around my balloon twice and made a loop at the top. I popped the balloon and added another newspaper and paste layer. After that dried, I added green tissue paper (about 4" wide, folded in half and cut the folded side every 1/2 inch or so to make fringe). Each strip was about 6 inches long. I used school glue to add the fringe paper and cover the entire piñata.

Now, for the origami part. I was planning on doing the arms and legs the "traditional" way with toilet paper rolls I'd been saving for a while. However, I thought it would be easier to make the arms and legs using origami. So, my hubby and I took a square of tissue paper and folded it down to make a smaller, thicker square and then folded them to look like arms. I also made two "water bombs" our of white iridescent paper and glued those on for the eyes. A little untraditional, but it worked. Here's the birthday boy holding up his frog. I'm not a big fan of giving toddlers large amounts of candy so I filled it with little toys and stickers for the kids instead. Usually, you're supposed to put 4 layers of newspaper and paste, but since it was toddlers (and I was out of time), I only did two. The kids had fun hitting it, but all they did was take off extremities. After all the kids took a turn, I broke it open. It took me three tries to break it, so it held up pretty good.

Flour paste:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 quart water

Mix flour and water in sauce pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Cool. It will keep a day or two in the fridge.

Last of the canning for the year!

I'm DONE! I finally finished all my canning for the Fall. I was able to get bulk peaches at a really good price this past weekend. So, I picked up 3 cases (one for me and each of my "Emilies"). They came over on Saturday afternoon and we got going. Several hours later, we finished. Here's my portion of the peaches.
Crazy stuff seems to 'just happen' around here when canning. We got all the peaches prepped and started our second canner going on my back burner. Five minutes into both of them going, my front burner blew! It's completely dead. I haven't yet taken the time to figure out what exactly is broken and will have to be replaced. Personally, I think the whole oven needs to be replaced (that's a whole other story...), but we're renting and moving soon, so we'll settle with buying a new burner element. We just had 1/3 of the peaches left to can, so one Emily borrowed my canner and took those peaches home to can herself, since my stove had had enough.

I'm glad I'm done because now I can focus more on other projects and the upcoming holidays!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Canning Adventures

Thursday, I picked up a LOT of fruit: raspberries, peaches, apples and pears for canning. My two friends, Emily and Emily and I went in together to can all that fruit for our families. Three adults, three babies and 5 children (ages 2 to 4) in my house for two days straight while us moms canned. Starting around noon Thursday, we got all the raspberries canned and I finished half my apples that night (around 11:30pm).

This is a picture of my raspberry and apple pie fillings and peach jam. I didn't get a picture of our counter FULL of raspberry jam. Friday we started earlier (about 9:30am) and finished later (1:30am). We made apple sauce, peach jam, peach freezer jam, vanilla peach syrup (we had this morning on french toast, so yummy!), peach pie filling and we bottled pears.

This counter is full of vanilla peach syrup, peach jam and apple sauce.Peach pie filling waiting to go in the canner.We still had half the peaches and all the pears to do when "my Emilies" went home to feed their families. My boys and I had hotdogs and I put them to bed and got back to work. Emily and Emily came back and started at it again. By this point, we were all three over-tired and everything was funny. What a crazy, LOOONG night!

Emily D. filling jars of peach jam.Emily P. peeling pears for bottling.Me, working on the peach pie filling.Emily D. went home just after midnight after helping Emily P. and I with our pears. Then Emily P. went home after we got the last of the pears bottled. I stayed up to run the pears through the steam canner and finished up around 1:30am.

Here's a picture of my kitchen this morning. You can see some our our canned pears on the counters now. It doesn't look too bad. Emily D. helped clean up a while (mopped my super sticky floor twice and vacuumed my living room) before she went home.
My cute little "helper" going through jars this morning.This was really my first time doing something other than just jam or jelly, so I learned a lot. Here's a few things I picked up:

Line your work surfaces with towels. My mom did this when she canned and I've found it to be a great idea with my own canning. This way, all my hot jars, pans, fruit, etc. won't damage my counter tops (I don't have to use any hot pads) and when I'm finished, I just throw the towels in the washing machine and my counters are clean. Doesn't help with the floors, but cuts out quite a bit of clean up work.

When making apple sauce, don't drain all the water from the cooked apples before mushing into sauce (that's what I did). But don't not drain water either (that's what Emily did and we ended up putting it in a crockpot to cook off the excess water all day long). The next time I make apple sauce, I will strain the water from the apples and reserve it to add back in until I have the consistency I want for my apple sauce.

When making several recipes using pureed fruit, measure the fruit out for each recipe as you puree so you don't end up with 6 large bowls full of pureed peaches that you aren't sure what to do with. (This would be why our peach "pie filling" looks more like jam, there's tons of pureed peaches in with the slices.)

My little apple peeler worked great for pears too. It had a bit of a time with "knotty" pears, but it wasn't hard to cut the knots out as we cut them. That saved a LOT of time in prep work for the pears. We used the peeler to peel the pears and then I used my melon baller to core the pear halves. This also saved some time.

The next time I have an opportunity to buy several different fruits in bulk quantities for canning, I will limit myself to just a couple of fruits instead of the whole variety. I will also try to limit myself to doing one, maybe two recipes with each fruit. A LOT of time was spent over the last two days switching from one fruit/recipe to the next.

Also, assembly line works much more efficiently. Our first day, we had several different recipes going all at once and it felt a little hectic. So, Friday, we prepped fruit for one recipe, got it cooking and then started in on the next thing to cook/can. The assembly line method worked better for not being stressed and keeping the momentum going.

I really enjoyed the experience and while I'm not ready to go at it again, tomorrow, I will be doing it again soon. Hopefully, we'll be able to get bulk peaches again in a few weeks and bottle some. We all wanted bottled peaches this time, but didn't feel that we had enough peaches to do the syrups and the jams and such and bottle some.

Ok, to finish the surprise...

Hubby got home last night around 11:30pm. I was still up and had my Emilies over to finish up canning our fruit (post to come soon). I was glad to see him, even though the house was a disaster (thanks to canning) and I was a sticky mess (also, thanks to canning). Hubby was very gracious about the changes I'd made while he was gone and is quite happy with our new armoire. Yes, I said armoire...

After I left the Habistore the first time, I called my mom and told her all about my fancy shmancy armoire that I'd walked away from. After our discussion, I knew I was going to go back and get it. Boy am I glad I did! I called the store and asked them to hold it for me until I could get a babysitter. After my friend, Emily showed up, I ran to the Habistore with this in the back of my van:
This is our old TV stand. Our neighbors in Provo, UT gave it to us when they got a new stand. We've had it for a couple of years and since we now own 2 TVs we still could have used it, but we didn't have the room for it and my armoire, so it had to go.

So, I donated our old TV stand and they loaded this into my van:
TADA! We had to call around and get some more help to get it in the house. It's solid wood and very HEAVY. A friend came over with her husband and the four of us hauled it in.

It had 3 broken knobs (didn't take before pictures), so I replaced those with brand new ones that I got for $1 each at the Habistore. Oil Rubbed Bronze, love! You can see just about the only damage to the wood on the whole thing. It's in really great condition, so we aren't going to change it at all.

Here it is, open (obviously!). That's not our ginormious TV. The big one is too heavy for me to pick up without help, so it'll stay where it is (on top of our ugly buffet) until the move. That's also the only question Hubby had last night about our new armoire, "is this big enough for the other TV?" He seemed pleased that the answer was "yes."

Okay, so the best part about the armoire? With the TV hidden away, the boys don't ask to watch TV as much anymore! Yeah!

Oh, and Hubby liked the bench, so I'll get to do that to our dining set! I'm so excited. I'll have to do it one chair at a time and wait until the move to do the table. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My FIRST finished furniture project!!!

Okay, first things first, Hubby is out of town on a business trip. Left early Tuesday morning. (So, if you're Hubby, stop reading now. This is your surprise!)

I wanted to check out the Habitat for Humanity store I've heard about in blogland (click here if you'd like to find one near you), so Tuesday morning I headed over with the idea of looking for light fixtures for our house (that we're buying in a month). I had no idea I'd find furniture there too. I promised Hubby a couple of weeks ago I'd stop buying furniture off Craigslist - and I've kept my promise. (I'd bought 3 large pieces of furniture, all for a great price, for our soon to be house that we don't really have the room for yet - in about a week's time.) I found a gorgeous armoire, exactly the kind I like and - what do ya know - the PERFECT size for the ginormous TV some friends were getting rid of at Christmas and we inherited. Oh, and it's solid wood and less than $100. I walked away from it, saying, "I promised Hubby no more furniture." (Believe it or not, I did!)

I saw this ugly, but sturdy piano bench not too far away from the armoire and decided that since I was being good and not getting a big piece of furniture I could get this. We've been looking for a bench to use with our dining room table since we now have 3 kids and only four chairs between the 5 of us. It was the exact height and length I've been looking for. And it was only $40. I've seen a lot of tutorials on recovering benches and chairs, so I thought I'd have a go.
So, after dinner that evening the boys and I headed out to Joann's and Ace Hardware to find everything I needed to redo this diamond in the rough.

I started last night and worked on it a little bit at a time through out the day, as kids and time permitted. Just finished it and I'm so proud of myself. I've never done anything like this and I can hardly believe it looks so good!So, what'd ya think? I love it! I'm hoping to talk Hubby into letting me refinish our entire dining room set to match, along with my ugly buffet I got off Craigslist. I covered the fabric in clear vinyl since we'll have toddlers sitting on it to eat. One day (in the not too distant future, I hope) we'll get a bigger dining room table and a piano, so this bench will be used as a piano bench someday.


I'm linking to Kimba's DIY Day, so go check out some other great projects!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day

No new projects finished today, but it sure was a day of LABOR! This morning before it got hot, we all got outside and worked on weeding our back yard. When we moved in a little over a year ago, the back yard was completely overgrown (it looked like the management company stopped having someone pull weeds back there once we signed the paperwork) and we've never really gotten it under control. We're trying and it's my first time actually, really, truly helping Hubby weed. We got me a pair of gardening gloves and everything. A lot of the weeds here are part cactus and I'm irrationally scared of spiders - real or imaginary, so the gloves helped me conquer that fear. After weeding for an hour or so, I moved to the garage and got some more sanding done on our cradle. I finished sanding one short side and started on the other one. Hubby joined me for a while and started work on one of the long sides. We're making progress and I'll post pictures as soon as that's done. I can hardly wait! I have so many other projects I want to work on, like this buffet I got on craigslist...
This cute trunk I got at a yard sale needs some love...And I finally found lamp shades that I liked to recover for these soon to be beauties...These are all projects recently added to my to do list, so I've got a few things to get done before I can/should start these. Oh, and when I found my perfect lamp shades at Goodwill this weekend, I also found another cute lamp in need of some love.

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day!

I'm lovin' this!

The other day I was at the store stocking up on wide mouth quart jars for my massive canning project later this week. I decided to browse the other canning supplies they had on the shelves and I came across these:
Pictured left to right: blackberry jam, white grape jelly and blueberry lime jam.

They're lids that screw onto regular mouth canning jars! So excited. My biggest pet peeve about home canned food is the fact that you have this lid that just sits on top and doesn't screw on sitting in the fridge. It can make a big mess if you accidentally tip a jar over (which I have). I immediately grabbed a box and I'm hoping to find some wide mouth ones locally soon too. I might just get another box of the regular mouth ones too!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Our house "before"

Here's a picture of our new house. It's still being built, but it's almost done. We visited yesterday and I snapped a bunch of "before" pictures. We're planning on changing out several things before ever moving in.We aren't fans of some of the standard stuff, but didn't want to pay for things, like light fixtures for 30 years. So, we're going to change them all out ourselves. First things first though, we'll be putting in ceiling fans with light fixtures in all the rooms. (For some reason in AZ, builders don't actually put light fixtures in any room except the dining room and kitchen!). We're planning on painting the whole house. That'll be an adventure, we realized yesterday that there's a 25 foot high expanse of wall (it's at the bottom of the stairs and goes all the way up the second story, vaulted ceiling). Here's some light fixtures I want to change out (we aren't fans of brass), but we might just be spray painting the indoor ones right away and waiting on the exterior lights.

I'm hoping to change out our sliding glass door for french doors. I'm not really a fan of sliding doors. But again, that'll depend on how much money we have after making our "necessary" changes, like the door knobs. We want knobs, not levers and not brass.

Here's a view of the great room from the kitchen and our lovely laundry room floor (it was so worth the extra for diagonally laid tile!). So excited! We'd forgotten what color we'd picked out for things, but now that we know the carpet is brown with gold undertones, that'll help us zone in on what colors we'll be painting the walls.

Here's a look at our front door, which will look great with a "Welcome" sign on it! Also a picture of our hall bathroom vanity that I can hardly wait to decorate!

We close in a month and then all the changes will commence. I'll post afters of everything as it gets done. We hope to move in as soon as possible after we close, so we'll be working hard the get everything changed and painted.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vinyl love

I wanted to "get something done" yesterday. We're working on refinishing a cradle (that was supposed to be done before our 10 month old was born... it's taking a while). So, while that's "going" in the background, I wanted to feel accomplished on another level. So I made this:

My son, Spiderman picked the vinyl color. We were going to put it in their bedroom, but I decided it would look better above their pictures. (Kudos to Shelly - what a great idea!) It's too high on the wall, but it's only until the move, so I don't really care. I love this quote! Perfect for all boys, who truly are "buddies." Now that it's on, it looks painted on, which I love. So cute, huh?

In other news, I hate the texture on our walls. I rubbed the vinyl down with my little tool thingy and then my finger before peeling the transfer paper off, and I still had to rub it down again after that! Thankfully, we have a nice, much smoother texture on the walls in our soon-to-be home. From yesterday's experience, I might just wait until the move to do more vinyl for our house. Happily, I have a few friends who are willing to let me "help" them put vinyl in their home, so I don't have to put a hold on all my vinyl fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oatmeal Mix and Prickly Pears

Monday morning, I had a friend come over and keep me company in an effort to help me get things done. It worked! While we chatted in the kitchen, our older kids played and our babies watched each other. I also got a few things done. I made Pancake Mix (we have pancakes every Saturday morning for breakfast) and Oatmeal Mix from this cook book called Make a Mix Cookery. The Oatmeal Mix is probably our family favorite at the moment. We mainly use it to make oatmeal muffins, oat pancakes and fruit crisp (called Peach Blossom Dessert in the book). It's only been 2 days and I already used up the whole mix! Gonna have to make it again!
Oatmeal Mix

I just had to try making our favorite: Fruit Crisp with this cherry pie filling I canned last week at a friend's house. Yum!

That afternoon, I had a friend over and we made Prickly Pear Jelly together. It's prickly pear season, everyone! I have a friend that lets me pick her fruit in exchange for some of what I make with it. That's the jelly in the small jars in the back.

Since we have pancakes so much, I made some Prickly Pear Syrup (in the quart jars) that evening before hubby got home from work. And then, since I was in the midst of canning, we had oat pancakes with fresh prickly pear syrup for dinner! The kids loved the "pink" syrup.

I ordered a TON of bulk fresh fruit, through a friend, that's supposed to be arriving next week. So, in the two or three days after getting the fruit, I'll be busy canning all that fruit. I've never done such large amounts of fruit (a little over 150 lbs, what was I thinking?!?) in such a short amount of time. I've mostly just done jams and jellies so far, but I'll be branching out quite a bit. I'm borrowing a dehydrator from a friend (hubby loves dried fruit) and I'll also be making pie fillings, jams, applesauce and bottled peaches and pears. Wish me luck!


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