Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Ramblings - DIY Part 2

We live in an apartment and are thinking about moving out in the next year, so making big, permanent changes is not what I want to be doing right now. But, I am tired of our plain white walls and white trim, white doors, white vertical blinds and beige carpet. I'm also finally feeling better now so taking on a weekend project doesn't exhaust me like it used to. I can even complete several projects in one weekend! Who would have thought??

I was perusing through Pinterest this week and saw my favorite DIY yet. Upholstering the walls with fabric and liquid starch. It sounds a little crazy, sure. The blogger decorated her nursery with pink, white and green and used the fabric to create a pink wall with a white tree over the crib. It was so darn cute! (check it out at Numbered Street Designs) She gave really excellent instructions that I thought were more doable than others I'd seen. Her recommendation is that you pin the fabric to the wall, then apply the liquid starch over top. Once the fabric is dry, you remove the pins.

I made my own liquid starch by combining:

  1. 2 tsp cornstarch
  2. 3 tsp water
  3. 1 c. boiling water
Put one cup water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile in a separate bowl, mix 2 tsp cornstarch and 3 tsp water until consistency is smooth. When water is boiling, add cornstarch mixture. Stir until it starts to clear up a little. Remove from heat and let cool. I needed to double and sometimes triple+ the recipe depending on the size of my project, but found that starting with a small batch helped me estimate how much I would actually use. Since I don't eat a lot of foods with cornstarch in them, a big batch would go to waste.

Cut and pin your fabric. Pay attention to patterns and line things up before applying the liquid starch. The fabric will shrink a little when drying. It might also be a little darker than before applying the starch, so keep that in mind.

I started with a small project with a lot of hidden edges to test things out. Here's how that turned out (I forgot a before picture, but you get the idea).

$10 accent wall

I'm really not patient about DIY projects.
The fabric is still drying a little on the wall which is why my thumbtacks are still there.
This is also how I know that fabric is easier to trim when it's dry!
the wall is straight, I promise.

Then, I moved on to the kitchen! The fabric I used below for our cabinets was $3 a yard and matches our mail holder perfectly!

Above is our yellow hanging mail holder from HomeGoods.
Am I the only one that loves this color yellow? I blame it on being raised in a house that was
painted/wallpapered 70s vintage green, orange and yellow. Who didn't love olive green walls back then??

$12 kitchen back splash

When this was taken, the fabric was still drying
so I hadn't trimmed the edges yet.
You can see more detail in this picture.
(And that the bottom edge still needs to be trimmed.)
This was an exciting project because the fabric is easily removed. Just pull it down and wipe the wall down with a damp sponge. It's also easily customized. You can put up a base color or pattern and then put another layer on top of that like the blogger did in the nursery. We have one more partial wall to upholster, and we may do a simple solid color with a customized design layered on top. There are so many options! You don't have to limit this to the walls either. I've seen cupboards and dresser drawers redone too.  So, be creative!

$0 Odds and Ends Tray

I was so excited I didn't take time to get rid of all the hot glue wisps! :)

When all was said and done, I wanted to add a little more organization to our kitchen counters. We don't have much storage in our apartment at all, so creating a little organized clutter is something I do often.

To construct this, I grabbed a shipping box and cut the flaps off of it with an xacto knife. Then I wrapped the box in fabric as if it were a present and hot glued the flaps down. Next, I wanted to create a more solid bottom for my tray, so I grabbed a different box that was slightly smaller than the first one. I cut out one of the sides out and trimmed it so it would fit easily into the bottom of the tray. I wrapped that in fabric too. I already had the fabric, hot glue and boxes so this was $0 and is easily changed if I want a different color or pattern.

$0.75 Ring Dishes

I've seen the tutorials for customizing dishes with Sharpie markers and wanted to try it out myself. I picked up two small saucers ($0.75 each) and then went searching online for quotes. I found two by Shakespeare that I liked, though I admit I have no idea what work they come from. I had to redo these three times. The first time I used a faulty tutorial that said to heat the oven to 150 degrees. It's supposed to be 350, so it didn't work. The second time still didn't work because I used a Sharpie pen (you need a real marker for this). The third time, I didn't have the spacing right because the tip of the marker was so much larger. 

After using a regular Sharpie marker and baking the dishes for 30 minutes at 350 degrees I finally got it and love the result...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend Ramblings - DIY!

I've been diving into easy projects at home this weekend. We have curtains in the bedroom, new dishes to put jewelry in at the sink, and finally some color on the walls. All for $40 - which I am loving!

How is this possible? With a little creativity and repurposing.

$8 Curtains

from this...
to this!
I'll start this out by saying that I don't usually shop at Wal-Mart. My trip there today reminded me why. Not only are their staff members underpaid, etc, they are completely understaffed too which I think just adds insult to injury. I was impressed by one associate I overheard tell a customer "just call back and ask for me. if they tell you I'm on break, tell them to call me anyway and I'll be waiting by the phone so we can get this straightened out for you." In a moment when the phone was ringing for 10 minutes straight and multiple pages were going off for help in different departments, the associate was really being phenomenal for this customer. The guy in the parts department ended up being the one to cut fabric for me (for a different project). Really the whole thing was a mess but the associates were great which made me all the more saddened by the situation.

However, it was really cheap. Which is why I have $8 curtains.

What you'll need:

  1. Twin flat sheet ($5)
  2. Curtain rod ($3)
  3. seam ripper (I already had this)
Once you get home, throw the sheet in the washer and dryer. Use this time to hang your curtain rod. Next, take the freshly laundered flat sheet out of the dryer and grab your seam ripper. Find the top part of the sheet, where there is a 3 inch border on one side (this is the side that you usually fold down when you are making the bed.) This border will become the top of your curtain. Remove most of the stitching from the end so that the border becomes a sleeve for your curtain rod. You'll remove about 12-15 stitches. Work your curtain rod through the sleeve you just opened up. Hang your new curtain. Tie it in the middle to create an hourglass shape or to the side with a ribbon or fabric scrap.

On our 40" wide windows we only used one twin flat sheet, though you could use two or you could use a larger flat sheet. It all depends on the style you want.

Tomorrow I'll share the other weekend projects!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend Ramblings

My new favorite indulgence is this 2 minute microwave chocolate cake. I meant to take a picture but I forgot...

it was delicious! :)

I found the recipe on pinterest (oh the many hours I have lost on that website!) and have made it twice already today. This recipe from Delighted Momma turned out so well. Be sure to scramble the egg up first and then add the other ingredients, otherwise you'll end up with "eggful" bites which aren't very chocolatey or super delicious.

[EDIT: My husband has asthma and an allergy to peanuts. For some reason, making this recipe bothered him just like it does when I bake something with peanuts in it so I tried a few substitutions tonight. It still got to him, but just at the last moment which is progress. I liked the changes in the recipe so wanted to share (though I admit everything tastes better with wine so if you don't like it, we'll blame that on the wine). 

Recipe substitutions:
Substitute almond meal with a couple shakes of sweet rice flour (I didn't measure, sorry, but it looked close to the same amount. This recipe is forgiving.)
Substitute honey for agave syrup and enjoy!

Next time I am going to try to omit the cinnamon and add a little more agave syrup. ]

This weekend I also learned a trick about aluminum foil in the dryer (from budget savvy diva). It is supposed to get rid of static cling. I was very skeptical, but it actually worked! I checked the dryer part way through the cycle to make sure that the foil wasn't too hot against the clothes. It was only as warm as the clothes were and when I took everything out of the dryer not a single thing clung. There were even less wrinkles than usual. One ball of aluminum foil is supposed to last six months which is amazing

Other than that it was a frustrating weekend. I'm tired of needing to be supportive and of needing to be patient. I'm ready for our lives to feel like they've actually started. It feels like we've been waiting and waiting. Waiting for the injuries to heal, the pain to subside, blah blah blah. I want to curl up in my hubby's arms and be able to just be there. I want to run away for the weekend and not need to plan out medications and logistics. I want to be...spontaneous. Some day, right? 

Pre-Made Chicken Dinners

Preparing your chicken as soon as you buy it can save a lot of time later in the week. Trimming the fat off and putting single servings portions in zip loc bags and then sticking them in the fridge or freezer for later in the week has been really helpful in cutting down the time it takes to prepare dinner each night.

I've been testing out different homemade marinades since many of the store bought ones have sugar, preservatives or other ingredients that I don't eat anymore. Here are a few of our new favorites.

Stir-Fry Flare

3 parts GF Soy Sauce
2 parts Ginger
1 part Coriander
Dash of Nutmeg
Chicken breast (diced)

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Dice chicken breast and place in plastic, sealable bag
  3. Add soy sauce to bag, zip sealable bag and shake gently to cover all chicken
  4. Add spices and shake to coat.
  5. Marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Prepare in stovetop or in oven or freeze for future preparation.
Pair with rice, salad, vegetables or other menu items.

Mexican Style Chicken

3 parts hot sauce
1 part chili powder
1 part cayenne pepper
2 parts onion powder
2 parts garlic powder
1 part crushed red pepper
2 parts salt
1 part black pepper
Chicken breasts

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Place chicken breast in plastic, sealable bag
  3. Add hot sauce to bag, zip sealable bag and shake gently to cover all chicken
  4. Add spices and shake to coat.
  5. Marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Prepare in oven or freeze for future preparation.
Pair with black beans, tortillas, refried beans, rice, salad, vegetables or other menu items.

Chicken Parmesan Redone

3 parts spaghetti sauce
1 part rosemary
1 part minced onion
1 part parsley
1 part garlic powder
1 part salt
2 parts parmesan cheese
Chicken breasts (cut into strips)

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Slice chicken and place chicken breast in plastic, sealable bag
  3. Add spaghetti sauce and parmesan to bag, zip sealable bag and shake gently to cover all chicken
  4. Add spices and shake to coat.
  5. Marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Bread and prepare in oven or freeze for future preparation.
Pair GF pasta, spaghetti sauce and top with cheese for chicken parmesan.



Saturday, September 8, 2012

The cheese

I'm originally from Wisconsin and grew up with a (not so) healthy love of cheese. I've been eating cheese in small amounts since May (everything in moderation!) I found a great pre-made pizza crust by Udi's and like to top it with Meijer Naturals spaghetti sauce or homemade pizza sauce, some mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. I've occasionally added it to some of the enchilada casseroles and other things.

Last week, my spouse went into the hospital for major surgery. I got ready for the several day in-patient stay by packing a cooler and some clothes. I grabbed some lunch meat and chopped up a block of cheese and other things for some quick and easy snacks/meals so I wouldn't have to worry about the hospital cafeteria. This was great in theory...

Then, the hospital didn't follow physician orders for my hubby's post surgery care and there were several complications. The added stress on everyone plus the changes in my eating habits were fairly catastrophic. The cheese ... the cheese is gone and off the grocery list.

The stress load itself was nothing I could have imagined. We're finally home after 6 days (supposed to be 2) in the hospital. I can tell he's feeling better now when I see cute love notes on the fridge and feel him sneaking in cuddling moments even though he's still in a lot of pain and chock-full of pain medications. So now we have a lot of cheesy moments and not a lot of real cheese. But there is a lot of wine, dark chocolate and other indulgences for me. And naps for both of us.