Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tight Budget Redecorating

I thought I'd share with you some of the redecorating I've been doing in my house simply by using what I already had or buying one new decorating item and rearranging things to bring out a whole new look. The rooms in our house are pretty small, so their isn't a lot of wiggle room, but I'm really trying to achieve a bit of a classier look. I wish I would have taken some before and after pictures of this, but I forgot to. So this is the corner of our small master bedroom. I bought this cute hamper (I was using a rubbermaid waste bin), but I didn't have room for it, so I moved the dressers around and came up with this look (these are actually two dressers shoved together and I think it makes it look like one big dresser, which gave me a lot more space. I was also able add my grandmother's painting to the wall on the right and a few of my other grandmother's antique knick knacks. I got that mirror at a yardsale for $5. Love it!Michael's family is very patriotic and has a long history of serving in all the American wars. We decided to put together a military picture grouping for one wall, centered around the shadow box containing Michael's father's casket flag and military medals (Michael's dad served in the Korean War as a Marine and received a Purple Heart for a horrible wound he received in his knee). He died when Michael was 10 years old of cancer. That is his picture on the bottom left. I think he looks a lot like Michael. We also have a picture of Michael's brother, Nathan, who just got back from his 3rd tour in to Iraq. Welcome home, Nathan! Michael's picture is in the middle of the bottom row. I'm super happy with this picture grouping!

This is what I'm really excited to show you all. A friend of mine who is in design school came over and gave me advice on what to do with my mantle. It all started with this adorable carnival glass candy dish that my mom and step-dad gave me for a graduation present. I love the blues in it. I brought in the pottery cups made by a local artist. These were given to us by my friend, Brenda. I had this cool vase that I always use for fresh tulips, but I decided to use it for my mantle. I went to Walmart and got the flowers and twiggery and the pretty stones. I've only done one other fake flower arrangement in my life, but I was pretty happy with the results of this one. The best part is that this arrangement hides the ugly tv cord. Mission accomplished! Someday I'd like to put a mantle clock on here.
One of my hallway picture groupings was making my sister twitch (sorry, Stace!), so my friend helped me come up with this new arrangement which I think looks way better. I love my family pictures and I just can't be without them even if it looks tacky. The picture groupings help a lot, I hope. I don't have a picture, but I also confined most of my swords into one room. So now the dining room is my sword room. Sounds weird, I know, but I think it worked pretty well. Love all my historical swords and can't be without them.

Michael put the last piece of trim up on our pass-through. It sure is nice being able to work in the kitchen and keep an eye on Josiah while he's homeschooling. Can you tell I'm a major multi-tasker? Now I'm ready to paint the rest of the kitchen, bedroom, dining room, living room and Josiah's room. Just waiting on the funds and my husband to recoop from the last project ;)  I'm throwing in a picture of our bed. I achieved this whole look for less than $100, that was including a new bedspread and pillows. Thanks to Ross!  The mirror was my grandma's. It isn't a new arrangement or anything. I did this 4 years ago as a surprise for my hubby when he came home on his 2 week leave from when he was deployed to Iraq. I still love it, but I definitely can't wait repaint the room.

Have and awesome day!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homemade "Comet" (non-abrasive cleaner)

 I hope you're in the mood to clean your bathroom today! As promised, here is another one of the easy "recipes" I learned to make at the natural cleaner workshop I went to a couple of weeks ago. This recipe involves only two ingredients, one of which I know you have on hand! If you haven't bough borax yet, I would encourage you to do so. Borax is an amazing cleaner that oxidizes stains. You should be able to find it somewhere in the laundry aisle. This is a non-abrasive cleaner and works wonderfully on tubs, sinks, tiles, toilets, stainless steel, ect... The gal, Mary, who taught the class said she has extremely hard water and said this stuff does the trick.

Homemade "Comet" Natural Cleaning Recipe:

1 cup Baking Soda
1/4 cup Borax

Mix together and store in a sugar shaker for easier sprinkling. How's that for easy? Hope you are now motivated go clean your bathroom! I better take my own advice and start on my tub today. My next cleaning post will be on how to make your own dishwasher soap. So stay tuned...

Have an awesome day!

God Bless,

Update: I just cleaned my tub and I had some really tough hard water stains that came out. I wetted the area down, sprinkled it with the "comet" mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes. I came back and using a Scotch pad and some elbow grease, I was able to get it all off. My tub has never looked this good! I also used it on my plastic sink and the chrome in my sink. Worked great!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quick and Easy Baked Beans Recipe

 I've never liked baked beans until I tasted this recipe. I found this basic recipe from New Jersey Homesteader's blog. I changed it quite a bit to make a quicker version out of it. The family loved it, too. I threw the leftovers into my slow cooked Mexican Pot Roast recipe the next night and created another tasty meal out of it. What makes this recipe quicker is that I soak and cook my 5 lbs of beans ahead of time and freeze them in two cup increments. I do this with all types of beans. The difference between canned and freshly frozen beans is astounding. Also, if you don't want to use bacon, no problem. You could use coconut oil instead.

Quick and Easy Baked Beans Recipe:

1/4 to 1/2 lb of bacon (optional)
5 cups (measured after they've been previously soaked and cooked) white beans (I used Great Northern, you can also use white navy)
1 cup homemade mock maple syrup (you can't tell the difference)
2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbl molasses
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Cook bacon, reserving lard. Remove bacon and chop into bite sized pieces. Saute onion in lard (or coconut oil). Add all the other ingredients (except bacon). Cook until the sauce thickens. Add bacon and mix well. Serves 4 to 6. Freezes well, too.

Enjoy! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Ours was great. I got to scrapbook at a MOPS fundraiser for 6 hours. I was able to 24 pages done (not including journaling)! We went sledding after church yesterday. Then we came home and did some purging (a spiritual experience indeed). We cleaned out our hobby room and Josiah's room. He can now shut the lid of his toy box! Always a good thing. Next weekend is Scrapbook Camp. So I've got a lot to do this week to get meals ready for hubby so he doesn't have to worry about trying to cook for the kids. Luckily, I've already got a lot of meals in the freezer, so shouldn't be too much extra work. I love my freezer(s)! Also, I need to try and sqeeze in 4 hours of soil database work in this week around homemaking and homeschooling. I'm so blessed to be able to work from home and around my own schedule.

God Bless,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Remodeling the Kitchen Wall

 Unfortunately, I forgot to take a before picture of the kitchen wall, so I had to go way back into my archives and found this picture of Michael and Josiah. This was the best picture I could find that showed what this wall used to look like. I had a baker's rack up against the wall that held all my cookbooks and such. You can see the ugly hallway, too. See several posts back for its remodel.

Not only did we replace the paneling with drywall, we decided a pass-through would really open things up between the kitchen and dining room. So my handy, dandy man (with his helper) was on the job.

Here are the end results. Can I just tell you how impressed I am with my husband's carpentry skills? He's never done it before and I was amazed at how he put this together. It wasn't easy. He made lots of mistakes along the way, but learned from them. Nothing in our house is square because it is an older house, but he made it work and was able to fix his mistakes. He even made me a 12 inch breakfast bar and put a shelf on top for my cookbooks. We painted this wall in the kitchen and plan on painting the rest of the kitchen at some point. Also, the reason why we didn't put trim up on the ceiling was because eventually we'd like to put a stamped tin ceiling in here with new lighting. I think it will be stunning.

I love that I can now talk to people sitting in the dining room while I'm working in the kitchen. Now I want to paint in here, too.
Here is my carpenter hero! Next, he's going to make me a sturdy bench the same dimensions as the breakfast bar that I can slide under it when the kids aren't using it. I love the idea that as the kids get older and they want to use the Internet, I'll be able to keep an even closer eye on them. This will also help me to see Josiah when he's homeschooling or he can homeschool at the breakfast bar and I can still be in the kitchen working on stuff. Love it!

By doing this ourselves, we saved so much money! We managed to remodel all three walls for under $400 and didn't put a thing on the credit card. It took us three weeks to get this project done, working on the weekends and after Michael got got off work in the evenings. We would stay up late priming or painting walls and then be up at 5am to get another layer on before the kids got up. This is why I've been such a bad blogger lately ;P Glad you all have stuck with me and I appreciate all your sweet comments not only in the blogging world, but on Facebook, too. Love you guys! I thank God for each of you and I'm so glad you're part of my world.

I did some rearranging of some other pieces of furniture in our house, that made a dramatic difference and I hope to post those pics soon.

God Bless,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Remodeling: The Living Room Wall

I'm so excited to finally be able to show you before and after pictures of our recent remodel project. For all intensive purposes, we "finished" last night. So, here we go. How do you like this wall, huh? Can anyone say "gun safe"? Hello, yes, that puppy is huge. All three of these lovely pieces of furniture stuck out about two feet from the wall, making the living room seem even smaller than it is. Yes, I had pictures up there, but I had just taken down our Christmas decoration before we started tearing out the wonderful dark wood paneling (painted over white). As I said in a previous post, we were just going for functionality when we moved in and remodeled the basics. Our goal this time around was to try adding a touch of class and make the space seem larger.

Michael, our friend Hiram and Hailey are working on tearing out the paneling.

Our other friend, Billy, helped Michael and Hiram put up the drywall. You can see there used to be a fireplace behind this wall. They had to do a lot of work to the wall to improve the structure before we even got the sheet rock up.

After putting up drywall, taping, mudding, texturing, sanding it all down because the texture was too thick, mudding the entire wall again to make it smooth, sanding, mudding, sanding, mudding, sanding, primering, texturing, primering again and two coats of paint, this wall was FINALLY done! Michael also put in a new door to the hobby room and did all the trim work. Lots of staining there. And lets not forget to mention the CLEANING that I'm still doing!

I'm telling you this was test for our marriage, too. At one point, we got into a big fight. After 24 hours (a long time for us) of not even being able to speak to each other, we finally came to a common understanding and were able to work together in relative peace and harmony from that point forward.

We finally got the fireplace hooked up yesterday and mantle put together. I have yet to decorate the mantle. I'm planning on placing a tall looks-real plant in the open space you see on the right side of the fireplace. The little side table you see on the left belonged to Stacie and I when we were kids. It is now holding our DVD player. Every single wall in my house is painted white. This was a huge step for me to paint this wall and my hallway. I think I'm addicted to color now. I want to repaint every room in the house now. Somebody stop me! I'll be posting the pictures of the kitchen wall next. So stay tuned!
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Homemade Natural Window Cleaner

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to go to a natural cleaning class. I had such a great time. While I already make many of my own natural cleaners, I came away with a few new "recipes". May I just say that making your own cleaners is so easy, cheap, healthier for your family and the environment, requires less storage and is safer. However, the best part is they seem to work so much better than the stuff you buy in the store. In the words of the natural cleaning guru who was teaching the class, "Natural cleaners rock!" It was nice to see someone else get as excited about this kind of stuff as myself. I'm going to randomly be posting the new "recipes" I've acquired, which will include: dishwasher soap, laundry soap, "Comet" and a new method to kill ants. Are you excited yet? Well, here's the first recipe.

Homemade Natural Window Cleaner:

In a spray bottle (Dollar Store), mix the following:

1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup filter, distilled or purified water

Shake and store. Use as you would any window cleaner. HOW EASY WAS THAT? I've already used this on my mirrors and a window and was impressed with the results. I hope that whetted your appetite for more homemade natural cleaning product recipes that I will be posting in the weeks.

Have an awesome day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hallway Remodel

We finally have one of the three walls completely finished. As promised, I'm posting before and after pictures. Here is the ugly paneling that I painted white when we first moved it. When we first moved in, it was dark brown (you can see the edge of it). The place was like a cave, so I was really happy just to lighten things up. We didn't have a lot of money and we were going for functional, not class, which was OK because since buying the house we've been committed to remodeling it debt-free.

We finally got brave and decided to remove the paneling and put up drywall. We had a friend help us and despite one major hiccup, we managed to get all the taping, mudding, sanding (again and again), primering, texturing, primering again and then painting two coats, all done on three walls. It was a lot of work, but it turned out really looking nice. We didn't get much sleep for a few weeks there because we would work until midnight, then be up at 5am to try to primer or paint before the kids got up. Whew!

Here is the end result. I've never painted a wall anything other than white, so believe me when I tell you this was a BIG step for me to paint this wall "Cracker Blitz". I'm really happy with the results, and it didn't make it too dark in here. I had several people tell me I should do some picture groupings instead of my one long line of pictures going down the hall. I'm so happy I chose to follow their advice. Also, check out those lovely rounded corners.
Here is the hallway looking the other direction. I love this picture grouping the best because I stuck with all dark colored picture frames with the old fashioned look. We got the light switches in Mexico about 10 years ago. They go so much better with this color on the wall. We didn't put a trim up in the hallway because eventually we'd like to do wainscotting ceilings in the hallway, dining room and living room.

We are hoping to get the fireplace hooked up today and the new door hung in the living room. Michael is also working on the trim for the pass-through between the kitchen and the dining room. So, as soon as he's done, I'll post more pictures.

God Bless,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here, Kitty Kitty!

Here, Kitty Kitty! When we were moving the gun safe to remodel, Josiah took the cougar skin off the top and had a great time playing with it.

Josiah looks just like his dad in this picture. Michael has a red union suit, too. He walks around in it drinking his coffee. I caught Josiah doing the same thing with his tea.

Can you tell he loves his union suit? I can't get him out of it. He even decided to help paint in it.

I know, we need to work on some fashion sense here. He came out wearing this get up. I asked him if I could take a picture to show his wife someday. He said yes. I'm recording it on the blog so he can't get mad at me later, LOL!

Hope you all have an awesome weekend! I'm hoping to catch up with my blogging soon.

God Bless,
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Camp Cooks

Since we've been remodeling, we were on a forced movie break for the last 3 weeks. It has been so good for the kids. Here is an example of how they are using their imaginations. A couple of days ago, Josiah decided to make a "dry" horse camp out in our hallway. It was so cute. He dragged every one of my pots and pans out to "cook dinner". He figured out how to make the flat screen TV box into a tent, and used a paint stirring stick to prop up the middle. Notice the horse in the foreground?

Here, they are pretending to eat their delicious meal.

After the meal, they "went to sleep" (I wish). Even Hailey's baby was in on the action. They were feeding it and taking care of it. It was so cute! Hey, there is a glimpse of my newly dry-walled and painted hallway. As soon as we get the trim up and the fireplace installed, I'll post pictures of our remodel project.

This picture was taken this morning with the kids helping me cook a delicious breakfast hash. Josiah loves his union suit that he got for Christmas from Nana. He looks just like his dad in it. Too cute! Hailey is wearing the princess apron and hat that my in-laws got her. She just loves it! She wears it every time she sees me putting on my apron. It's all about the gear I say, LOL!

God Bless,
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut

My MIL gave me this awesome 2 gallon crock. It didn't have a lid, but that is OK because I didn't need one to make some naturally fermented sauerkraut. You can ferment all kinds of vegetables, but I thought I'd try making sauerkraut and I also did a quart jar of apple kraut (not pictured). I'm amazed at how much cabbage you can get into a 2 gallon crock! I shredded (or sliced - can't remember which) it in my food processor, then used my handy dandy mix and chopper from The Pampered Chef. Works great for getting the cells to break up without chopping the veggies to smithereens.

Then I used my handy dandy OSU stainless steel water bottle (filled with water to add some weight) to tamp the shredded cabbage down. See fermented vegetables process in a previous post.

How's this for creativity? I discovered a gallon sized jar filled with couscous was the perfect amount of weight needed to keep the cabbage under the liquid it creates as it naturally ferments.

I put an old stained dish towel and used some scrapbook fiber (a color I had yet to use) and tied it around the crock should any bugs or dust try to find their way into the crock. After pushing down on the jar for a week to get as much air as possible out of the sauerkraut, I set it on my dryer to ferment. I did this process 2 months ago and it is just now getting fermented enough to eat, although I want to let it ferment longer to get as many health benefits as possible from it as we can. In the summer, my ferment definitely happened quicker. We keep out house around 70 degrees in the winter (60 at night), so it is taking longer this time. When it is done to our tastes, we can either repack the sauerkraut into jars or we can leave it in the crock and take some out as we want it. Like that idea!

Update: After two months of letting it ferment, I took the towel off. I learned I should have checked it periodically more often. The kraut under the jar was fine, but I had about two inches of moldy cabbage that I had to scrape off because I didn't make sure the liquid was above the cabbage line. Due to liquid evaporation next time I'm going to have to check it weekly to make sure the water is at the right level. Oh well, lesson learned! The kraut under the moldy cabbage was fine. After scrapping the moldy cabbage out completely, I took the cabbage out and repacked them into quart jars, pounding it down to get out the air out, one layer at a time. I tucked some new cabbage leaves around the top of the jar, leaving plenty of head space. I filled it the rest of the way with a brine (1 cup of water mixed with 1 Tbl sea salt).  I lined the top of the jar with plastic wrap and put a plastic lid on the jar. I'm storing it on a shelf in my kitchen.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Homeschool Sledding Party: Part 2

Here are a bunch of us, pulling kids, visiting, etc. Even some of us adults got in on the sledding action. A trip to the chiropractor may be in store, hee hee.

Homeschooling dad, Bobby, worked on getting a fire started. We only had wet wood, so it didn't really start burning until it was time to leave, but the boys sure had fun watching him work with the fire.

Hailey had a great time hanging out with the Koza girls and eating snow.

Fire bugs. Aren't all boys?

We had an awesome time as usual and I can't wait until we do it again next year. Now, back to painting...

God Bless,
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Homeschool Sledding Party: Part 1

Even though Michael was at drill today, I decided to get brave and take the kids to a homeschool sledding party. While it was an amazing amount of work to get all three of us ready to go and pack a picnic lunch complete with hot peppermint tea, dealing with a dead battery on the Subaru (again - grrrhhh) - it was worth it. We had a wonderful time and the kids lasted a lot longer than I thought they would.

Josiah was absolutely fearless! He had no problem launching himself off the steepest part of the hill. Here is a good wipe-out picture.

The blue blur.

Hailey just loved walking around in the snow and catchin' a sled ride whenever her brother would let her.
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Friday, January 8, 2010

Desperate for a Scope

My son got this Nerf shotgun for Christmas from Mom and Larry. I walked into the kitchen and found this scene. Apparently he was desperate for a scope on his shotgun. I don't think they make scopes for shotguns, but I didn't tell him that, LOL.

I thought I'd throw in this picture of Hailey in all her girlie glory, wearing the apron Nana made for her with her crown and Cinderella cellphone. What else does a girl need in life?

BTW, our remodeling project is going well. We've just got one more wall to paint and some trim to put up. As soon as we get our home back in some kind of order, I'll post before and after pictures. Here's to cleaning every inch of the house by myself! Not my thing, but it probably needed anyway. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

God Bless,
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