Monthly Archives: June 2013

A PARTY IS ALWAYS AN INSPIRATION

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just snap your fingers and have all the mess in your house put magically in it’s place?

You’d be a cleaning ninja. Everyone would want to be your friend.

Including me. Because I FOR SURE don’t love cleaning. But I do love a good party.

And new dresses. Those aren’t too shabby either.

So why not use party throwing and pretty dresses as your motivation to get everything done?

Sounds like the perfect cleaning motivation to me. Sold!

So I decided to throw myself a housewarming cocktail party. Cocktail attire. Fun summer drinks and appetizers and wonderful people.

And here’s my best showcase of why this was important:

The room BEFORE the party.

Don't judge me.

Don’t judge me.

The room the DAY OF the party.

Tada!

Tada!

And of course Kate crashed the photo.

And all this effort took was a few new pieces of furniture, a few loads of stuff into the creepy furniture cellar… and a little extra special navigation to coax everything where it needed to go.

Example:

This is probably why people tell you that you need to measure before committing to something...

This is probably why people tell you that you need to measure before committing to something…

Thanks Water Boy for your help. As it turns out, it’s really just not possible to move a desk on your own. Or an armoire.

Noted.

And then, the house was clean, and the friends came over, and there was merriment and smiles all around.

And even better, the next morning, I woke up to a clean orderly house. And my internet got installed by a fantastically humorous cable guy.

So now the house is well put together and I can blog about it from the comfort of my own bed.

I would call that a win. Absolutely. Any other great cleaning motivations? I’m willing to find another cleaning muse!

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THE MIRACLE OF SPRAY PAINT

I used to look at ugly old beat up furniture, wrinkle my nose and think “who would want that?!”

Now I look at old furniture and think “what could I do with that!?”

It’s a subtle change, I’m not really sure when it happened. But I’m oh-so-grateful it did. Because when you realize your new place has no linen closet… and you’ve finally got room for a desk – it’s time to thrift shop.

I mean, my first inclination was to run to the Pottery Barn website and drool over this amazing little vanity desk…

I mean, come on.

I mean, come on.

And it would only set me back a cool $499 and tax. Cough, sputter, choke.

Yeah, that’s no longer happening.

So thrift shopping I went and I ended up with both a fully functional (and FUN!) desk, an armoire type piece and a vision.

All that was included in the vision was some spray paint and a piece of glass.

So after enlisting the help of my friends with a truck (although I had high hopes, the armorie was just too big to fit in my small SUV) who could also help me get the pieces in my back yard, I was ready to sand and spray!

One note: when I sprayed all of the furniture in my bedroom, I had used Rust-oleum Primer/Paint and it was amazing. This time I tried another brand first and was more than disappointed. So if you’re painting anything – I’d absolutely advise the Rust-oleum brand of spray paint. It mentions on the bottle it has two times the coverage (which is completely true), it’s only $.10 more than the other brand AND the push nozzle is so-much-better. Which sounds ridiculous, but if you’re about to go through 6 bottles… your finger gets tired and you run the risk of putting your fat finger in front of the spray stream. Trust me. One can of primer for the first layer. Then as much as it takes for full coverage on the rest of it.

And this is what a few hours of work and a whole lot of spraying accomplished:

It's amazing what a can... or 8... of spray paint will do.

It’s amazing what a can… or 8… of spray paint will do.

Shiny white pracitcally new furniture.

Oh – and the top of the desk, I experimented with chalkboard paint. Thanks to the lovely Water Boy for the suggestion. I’m in love with how it turned out.

Isn't that just adorable?

Isn’t that just adorable?

And since I know you’re thinking “I’m sure with all of those extra supplies – you probably could have bought that amazing and incredible Pottery Barn desk” I’ll let you in on a little secret – I did all of this for practically a quarter of the cost of that fancy little desk.

Cost Breakdown:

  • Desk: $20
  • Armoire: $30
  • White Spray Paint: $30 (including the bad decision kind)
  • Chalkboard Paint: $4
  • Glass Piece: $50

Total spent: $134. Now, I appreciate that I didn’t need the glass. Or the chalkboard paint. Or really probably even the white paint… but that adds a lot of fun and character and it looks great with my already white book case that’ll also be sitting in that room!

Once I get everything moved back in the house tonight, I’ll be able to organize the back room a little bit – and I Can. Not. Wait. for things to have a “place” that they belong to.

The goal is to have everything in a place it belongs in by Friday. Go ahead and say a prayer for me!

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THE FUNNY THING ABOUT COOKING…

Just when you’re beginning to think you’re becoming the worlds next kitchen rock star…

You fail miserably at something.

But hey, it’s all a learning game right?

Right?

Please say yes.

Anywho, last night I had BIG plans for an amazing well rounded meal. Steak. Potatoes. Brussel Sprouts. Cantaloupe. Chocolate chip cookies.

Which I can do all of on the grill. Grills are easy. But alas, I do not have one here. So my new friend Jason gave me some pointers on how to do all of this magically with a skillet.

And by pointers, I mean, he wrote out my grocery list, gave me step by step directions (including what to do and in which order to time it all perfectly) and included plenty of encouragement. Probably my most favorite “recipe” of all times.

In fact, I love it so much, I’ll just share the whole thing with you. Because the directions were fantastic. It was my execution was just a little wobbly.

The highlights include:

  • The use of too much cayenne pepper on the sprouts… like, WAY too much.
  • Under cooking the potatoes.
  • Burning the cookies.

But the steak was fantastic. And the sprouts were so beautifully quartered. And it’s really hard to ruin cantaloupe. So – partial success?! For any of you other grill-less friends, here’s a little something something to help you out.

Shopping List:

  • Steaks: Look for thicker cuts. Filets are always good!
  • Brussel Sprouts, at least a pound.
  • 2 lemons.
  • Cayenne pepper.
  • Salt.
  • Pepper.
  • 2 Russet potatoes (not too large, but big enough. Preferably the same size.)
  • Olive oil.
  • Chili flakes.
  • Onion powder.

Set oven to 400 F.
While oven is heating, you are going to start the potatoes.

POTATOES:

  1. 2 sheets of tinfoil, big enough to completely wrap around each potato.
  2. Coat each potato in olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Completely close the tinfoil.
  4. Place in oven. These take about an hour to cook, so start these first.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS:
Quarter brussel sprouts and set aside.

STEAK:

  1. Make sure the steaks are room temperature, otherwise they will dry out.
  2. Coat each steak in olive oil, salt and pepper. Be generous, but don’t over do it. A lot of the seasoning will end up in the pan.
  3. Heat a deep pan for a few minutes so the steaks sizzle when you first put them in to the pan.
  4. Let each steak cook on each side until there is a good color (about 3-4 minutes each side). BE PATIENT AND DON’T TOUCH THE STEAKS. Let them cook!
  5. After each side has been seared, place on a cookie sheet that has a cooling rack on top (this allows the entire steak to be cooked the same….it’s an airflow thing!)
  6. Place in oven and let cook for 10 minutes (medium rare/medium).

BRUSSEL SPROUTS:

  1. In the same pan the steaks were being cooked in, ad a little bit more olive oil (not too much!) and put the brussel sprouts in, stirring to make sure they all get coated with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (just a lil bit), onion powder, and chili flakes. Let them cook, stirring occasionally. I like my sprouts to have a nice deep golden color too them.
  2. After about 5 minutes (the sprouts should be tender), squeeze the juice of one lemon over them and let them soak up the juice. Make sure you stir pretty often.
  3. Taste and make sure they are good.

By this time, the steaks should be done. Take them out and let them rest for a couple minutes to let the juices settle.

Once the steaks are done, the potatoes should be done as well. Pull them out. Test them with a knife. If should be easy to cut through!

PLATE UP AND ENJOY!!!

At the risk of ruining these adorably written out directions – I did not add my own thoughts. I did however underline, bold and italicize the fact that he warned me to use JUST A LIL BIT of cayenne. To which I ignored and added just as much as salt… or pepper… #oops

The other note to mention is that as I was preparing to melt the butter for the cookies… I realized I don’t have a microwave.

So now I’m wondering if maybe my land lady has been reading the blog… and knows about the Cheese Frenchee Incident…? Hm…

You win some. You lose some.

But I dominated those steaks. So, I’m still calling it a win.

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I CAN SEW!

Here’s the thing about moving:

It’s expensive and it requires a ridiculous amount of work.

But the great news is, once you get settled and into your routine, there’s a complete repression of those moving memories. Because every time I’m getting ready to move… I’m giddy excited. And then you start packing. And keep packing. And find a moving van. And forward your mail. And move the boxes. And unloaded the boxes. And change your utilities. And find a trash service. And buy curtains…

Sigh.

All of that whining aside – I have EXCELLENT news:

I am OUT of the apartment. And into the most wonderful little home! A home!

Yay!

So my evenings of late have been spent unloading boxes of junk (also, when did I accumulate so much stuff?), getting curtains and organizing.

And learning to sew.

That’s right. I said it.

This girl can now use a sewing machine – without breaking anything. Or losing any fingers.

I was inspired as my cute little house has the ugliest sink the bathroom. Maybe ever. It’s basically a basin sitting on top of plywood. That’s been painted white. And after looking at it and cringing, I thought… “I bet I could make something for that…”

Yes. I thought that.

And then I turned to Pinterest, where I found this picture:

Doesn't this look like the cutest little cottage bathroom sink?!

Doesn’t this look like the cutest little cottage bathroom sink?!

And in my brain I was like – “no really, I can make that… I just need a sewing machine and some Velcro.” So I emailed my amazing friend Emily (because she’s crafty and awesome) and asked if: 1) she had a sewing machine and 2) if I could borrow it after she gives me a mini lesson on how to use the sucker.

The crazy lady agreed.

Also, she’s insanely smart and brought pins.

So, I cut a white sheet that I already had (and don’t use because it was like $5 from Walmart and itchy) in half (length wise) and folded pleats into it and secured those with pins.

Oh... you can't see the pleats because of the cheese oozing out? Sorry. I was so excited.

Oh… you can’t see the pleats because of the cheese oozing out? Sorry. I was so excited.

And then I just sewed it. It really was that easy.

Then I cut one inch pieces of adhesive Velcro – put one side on the sink… one side on the fabric (it just stayed – I thought I was going to have to sew it on!) … and BAM! ugliest sink of all times covered right up!

Yes. I do have the girliest bathroom of all times. I think it hides the poop brown overtones... Also - ignore the "stuff" everywhere. Did I mention I just moved?!

Yes. I do have the girliest bathroom of all times. I think it hides the poop brown overtones… Also – ignore the “stuff” everywhere. Did I mention I just moved?!

Let’s just say – It’s come a long way from where we started:

Don't judge all of the tubs, I came from a bathroom with LOTS of storage to a bathroom with NO storage. Don't worry, it's all organized now!

Don’t judge all of the tubs, I came from a bathroom with LOTS of storage to a bathroom with NO storage. Don’t worry, it’s all organized now!

I still need to hem it.. and sew the two pieces together…

Because as soon as Emily left me unsupervised left, I broke the sewing machine. As in, there’s no more thread in the needle and I don’t know how to get it back in…

So maybe saying “I know how to sew” is a bit strong.

But if someone else does all of the setup work, I can absolutely just push the fabric through the machine. So, you know, whatever you’d call that.

The rest of the week/weekend will be filled with fun other home projects – so stay tuned for:

  • Hunting down and painting a desk
  • Organizing my office
  • Putting together a bedroom

And then when it’s “all together” I promise to put up photos for a mini house tour!

Yay moving!