Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Baker Seeds Have Arrived


I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of these seeds.
Thank you Dianna from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for packing everything up!
I wasn't sure who to order from but they had great reviews and for $3 flat shipping...
well you just can't beat that.

The Peanut can't want to plant her strawberry popcorn seeds.
We're going to try artichokes this summer.
And for the first year, I'm going to try some fall crops, like cauliflower, broccoli,
and cabbage.

Right now my focus is trying to keep the squirrel out of the bird feeder.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Seedlings Have Sprouted!

I have been anxiously awaiting the sprouting of the seeds. I started late planting them.  March 13 to be exact.  I can't even tell you when exactly I started them last year because I lost my gardening journal in the house...somewhere and had to start a new one....oh well.

Even the Peanut was excited. 

The coolest of the seedlings was this Blue Lake Bush Bean.

You could actually see the roots inside the seed coat.

I seriously cannot wait for it to warm up so I can start the garden.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

And Finally the Cow Cake

Going with the barnyard theme, we made a cow cake. Not willing to buy special candy for the eyes and stuff, I just did everything with icing. Chocolate box cake. And store bought icing. Ugh. Again, whatever. It's certainly not as elaborate as the cakes my mom made, but still cute.


DIY Balloon Party Animals

I wanted a barnyard theme and wound up with "lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" It's not my fault though...I mean really how do you make horses and sheep? Whatever. Again, these are super easy and super cheap party decorations.

How to Make a Chicken Pinata for a Barnyard Themed Birthday

The Peanut wanted a barnyard themed birthday party a few years back. 

First, I decided on a barnyard theme after finding these cute barns and packs of barnyard animals for a dollar each at Target. Unfortunately, while we were there, she saw the pinatas. So what do I do, the sucker of a mom that I am, I agreed to make a chicken pinata. This is probably not the right way, but it's what I did.

1. Go to a dollar store. I found mine at the Dollar Tree. They sell two packs of punch balloons.

2. I found a recipe for Papier-Mache Paste in Family Fun magazine, but the link doesn't exist anymore.  Here's the recipe: 
Combine 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 2 cups cold water in a bowl.
Add this mixture to a saucepan of 2 cups boiling water and bring it to a boil again.
Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.
Let it cool; it will thicken as it cools. Once it does, it's ready to use.

3. Then I dipped strips of newspaper in the paste and covered the balloon...after covering the table with a vinyl table cloth and placing the balloon on a large plastic bowl so it wouldn't stick to the table.

4. The whole thing was pretty sopping wet sticky, so I added another layer of paper using very little paste.

5. Dry it over night.

6. I added a third layer of newspaper the next day. Then a layer of yellow tissue paper. The next day I added two more layers of tissue paper. Now...if you're not idiot like me, before you do the layers of tissue paper, this would be a good time to add the string wrapped around all four sides for strength and stability. If you are an idiot like me, then you can always punch a hole on either side of the top and push the string through...just don't expect it to hold for very long, thus no impressive center piece to the living room decorations. Whatever.
7. Once it's all dried, cut a slit in the top SLOWLY. The balloon will start to pop and deflate. Once it's done sounding like the whole thing is going to implode, pull out the pieces of the balloon and fill it with candy. Then cover up the opening with more tissue paper.
8. I used the leftover streamers, cut into around 2 1/2 to 3 inch strips. Don't be anal about it, just cut the streamers, they don't have to be exact. Then using a glue stick, I stuck the strips on. Initially I thought the glue stick wouldn't be sticky enough, but really, it's fine.

9. Then I finished it off with construction paper cut outs so it looked like a big chicken as opposed to a big Easter egg.
10. To hang, either stick an eye hook in your ceiling and string it up, or do what I did and wrap the string around some random pole and let the kids whack away.
Let me add this...don't be lame and do the pull string one. It's a pinata. Let the kids have fun and hit it. We did three hits per kid. No one cared who broke it, or if they got a turn, they were all just happy to get to the candy.
Also, I know this seems very time consuming, but really it wasn't. My daughter wouldn't' help because she doesn't care of getting her hands all slimy. So I did it at night with a glass of wine while watching TV. And well worth, a little for the parents who thought it looked impressive, but more because the kids all thought it was cool and was so excited when they saw it.
It's also a really cheap to make...easily under $5. The candy was the expensive part at $7.50. I probably should've just used her leftover Halloween candy. I'll keep that in mind for next year.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wanna Make a Tie Dye Rainbow Cake?

So, I'm in the process of closing up shop at my other blog, Surviving Single Motherhood.  But there are crafty and cute posts I'd like to keep, so I'm reposting them here.  Don't worry, I am not bombarding this site with old posts, just a handful of cool ones.
And speaking of cool, how freakin cool is this. I am all about baking. I've greatly improved on my bread and cookie baking abilities since I originally wrote this post.  But if you want a layered cake or a fresh baked pie...I am your girl. But never did I think to do this! I'm loving it!

Thanks to ohdeedoh for linking this site, the omnomicon where Aleta walks you through the process. Apparently there's some secret Weight Watchers method for baking that uses Sprite Zero in lieu of the regular boxed mix add ins. I think I'll take the traditional route as I never have soda in my house.
I also saw some links in people's comments that weren't so tie dyed, but layered cakes doing the ROYGBIV thing. But as much as I live to bake a layered cake, seven layers is a bit much. I like the tie dyed look better. I have yet to do this with the Peanut, but it's definitely on the short list of things to do on a rainy day.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Searching for Small Greenhouse Options

I am having a dilemma.  I decided that I do not want, nor have the space for, a full-fledged greenhouse.  But what I would like is a small, patio sized one.  Something that I can continue to grow lettuce and whatnot in during the winter.  The ones online that people have made out of old windows are pretty, but I've decided against that route.  I want something small, simple and ready to assemble.

I have seen some interesting options.  I thought this Patio Grow House seemed nice, but the few reviews I could find were mixed.  I'm not factoring in the comments on any of these that involve them being light.  My overly cautious husband weighs everything down like we live in a tornado prone area.  It's a good thing, because I never think to do it.

Then I came across this Grow Station which seemed maybe better durability-wise.  The description does say cold frame, but I have to say, it looks more like a greenhouse to me.
Then I came across these Lean-to Greenhouses but I can't really find anything in terms of reviews.  Plus I hate ordering stuff online at places I don't know.  And I like when they have actual storefronts to return stuff to.
This one at Lowes is definitely the cheapest option, but I'm not crazy about the plastic. I rather spend more and not have to replace it every year. But at $40, it is tempting....
This one from Home Depot looks like it could be perfect, but of course it's online only and they're out of stock.  Yeeesh.
In the meantime, I have my seeds staring in the Burpee Seed Starting 72 Cell Greenhouse Kit.  I used to be very DIY with the seed starting.  I tried making those newspaper cups...they just got moldy and gross.  I used plastic cups, that was kinda okay, but kinda a pain.  I tried this out last year, and holy guacamole, so much easier.  You can buy just those weird expanding pellets and reuse the trays every year.  Or for around $8 be not very green and do what I did and just buy a whole new one.  I'll keep you posted on the greenhouse search.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Love You Because....

Anyone who's been on Pinterest has seen all of the "I love you because..." designs printed and framed.  Then you use a dry erase marker to write notes to the people you love.
I found this great one on The Dating Divas site.  The include a link to a free printable, which I used.  But since my color ink was out, I did a little simple coloring in with a red sharpie.
We all leave random notes.  I love when the Peanut and the Hubby leave sweet notes to each other since with his current work schedule, they only really get time together on the weekends.

I hung it by the front door, and we just leave the marker on top.  Maybe it's a little cheesy, but it's so easy to take each other for granted.  This feels like such a simple way to take a second to remember why you love the people you love...especially on days they are making you nuts.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Before and After of the Old and the New Butcherblock



I was looking at the post about joining the counters and and the new counter didn't seem that much bigger in the picture, so I decided a side-by-side view would be worth posting.  Of course, when published, the side by side had to be super small to work, which was stupid.  So I changed the layout and now it's fine.
Much like the layout of this post, joining the counters didn't go according to plan, but we rolled with it.  Don't let the fear of doing it wrong stop you from trying to take on project.  Just do it with the belief that it'll be fine.  Even the most experienced contractors will come across surprise issues and have to readjust.  Don't plow through.  Take a deep breath, walk away from it and then come up with a revised plan.  If nothing else, the end result will always be the satisfaction in knowing you did it yourself and that alone is awesome!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Adventures in DIY: Joining Two IKEA Numerar Butcher Blocks Into One Large Countertop

Let me start by calling shenanigans on this nonsense online that makes the average homeowner think they can't do anything without calling a contractor first. If you're not handy, then sure, call someone. But if you are a generally intelligent person with the ability to use basic tools...then seriously, try doing things yourself. It's not rocket science.
With that said, my Numerar butcher block countertop is lovely. I have no experience installing butcher block, but I installed it myself anyway and for the last five years it has held up without issue. You can read all about my install back in 2008 here. The problem was, it was just too narrow for me. I like to spread out when I cook and I simply needed more room.
So I decided that my bff's jerkoff ex-boyfriend/construction worker was an idiot. Why can't I cut two IKEA Numerar Butcher block countertops down the middle and attach them together to make a much wider one? I started doing some research. Apparently, a lot of people have done it successfully. I thought the explanation on Our Big Yellow House was really good. 
 We ran two 96 7/8' pieces of IKEA Numerar lengthwise down the table saw we set up outside. Not fun. It wasn't perfectly straight, but close enough with a little sanding. Certainly, it would have been perfect with the Kreg Rip Guide, which I wound up buying halfway through the project.  Who knew this existed!  It's awesome. Live and learn.

Then we set everything up on the cabinets. I read that using biscuits only helps to align stuff, so we didn't bother. Instead, we clamped it together and cut off the parts we didn't need on the end. Then I brushed on Titebond III glue with a foam brush and we clamped it all together with Jorgensen Parallel Jaw Bar Clamps we borrowed from a friend.  We let it sit and cure, then carefully removed the clamps. Everything held together nicely. (For the record, this was not the shape I originally intended.  The piece cut out was supposed to be simply curved on the end.  Explanation to follow...)

The Hubby bought wood filler that was not even close to the right color...yeesh. But it was okay because I came across a tutorial on Beneath My Hearth on seaming together butcher block counters. She made her own wood filler with glue and saw dust. So following her lead, and the advice on some woodworking sites, I mixed some sawdust we saved with the Titebond III and filled in the seem.

Can't even see the seam, can you?
 The Hubby had a slight mismeasurement issue when cutting the hole for the new stove. Yes, I got a new stove, that's what started all this. We'll talk about it later. So after I sat there wanting to throw up and he sat there feeling horrible, we rallied and came up with a new plan. Instead of a curve in the length of the counter that ran in front of the basement door, we flipped the whole thing over and cut a rectangle piece out of the basement door side. Not exactly what I envisioned, but more practical spacewise and I still like it. I'm sure people will have something to say about using the underside of the butcher block, but I like the inconsistent colors. It gives it character.

Accidents will always happen. Take a deep breath and roll with it.

Then we measured again and cut the hole or the stove. You don't need special, super power anything. I used my trusty old Dewalt circular saw and a new blade. A lot of people have questions about cutting butcher block so let me say it again, it's not rocket science, just cut it. 

A little sanding. Some HVAC tape around the stove opening as a heat barrier. We screwed it down onto the cabinets the same way I did last time. And voila! A larger, more effective for my cooking and baking needs, butcher block countertop.

I'm still debating on no doors, glass doors, regular doors...and if I get doors, do I can Adel Medium Brown or do I get something different....?  Those chairs are from Freecycle.  I know they are kinda dated but they are so comfy!  I'm going to paint them, I'm just not sure what color yet.  I also need to finish up the toe kicks... 

That big L cut out, like I said, not part of the original plan, but it does give you a full 36 inches all around the island and has made getting stuff down through the basement door easier than if it was rounded.  Sometimes being practical is more important that anything else. 

Plus, the Hubby learned his lesson, and now actually double checks before he cuts anything.  Let me add as a sidebar, you see those DIY shows on TV and the women are always screaming or whining about something.  That's not how you work as a team.  That's being a douche.  Things happen.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Making him feel worse wouldn't help anything.  Just saying.

Okay, off my soap box.  I was going to build in a dog feeding station, but all the salvaged table legs I have are either a little too tall or a little to short and I'm not willing to cut any of them.  Until I figure out how exactly I want to build it, his old feeding station will have to do. 

You can't really see it but that orange on the cabinet is self stick shelf liner from an estate sale.  Such a pretty old school design you never see anymore.  Looks pretty and way cheaper than the more Adel Medium Brown cover panels. 
This is already a very long post...I'll talk about the cabinets next time...
If you want to see an updated picture of the dog feeding station, click here!