Friday, February 26, 2010

Fab Friday: February 26


Despite no longer being a home owner, nor home ownership being on the near horizon, I still love to think I am a DIY-er.

I have painted, sanded, stained, plastered, screwed, hammered, wired, dug, planted, demolished, and otherwise made any number of projects my own. But I'm always on the look out for suggestions, success stories, and other drool-worthy projects that others have taken on.

Now that I have been subjugated to the class of renter (and am sans HGTV), I have channeled my DIY impulses into Home & Garden style blogs. I found Young House Love about a year ago, and have faithfully followed them ever since. I like their style, their can-do spirit, and I like that they show the process - flaws & all.

And today? Well, today, I love them even more.

Our lovely little rental house has a myriad of problems, one of which is faulty plumbing.

Although the bathroom was "new" when we moved in, the plumbing was poorly done. EX: Big Daddy had to reinstall the shower fixture so that we actually had access to hot water when we wanted to bathe.

I know. Way to go landlord, way to go.

Along with the new plumbing, we received the world's slowest draining bathtub. Removing the drain stop and flushing the pipes helped a bit, but we resigned ourselves to a painfully slow drain. At least it was draining.

Until yesterday. The drain had slowed to a drip, so I jaunted over to the local market and picked up a bottle of our go-to chemical drain unclogger. I let it glug down the drain & then waited the hour (ok, maybe I waited 2) to flush it through with hot water.

But wait, there's more!

Sadly, my go-to failed me & there was no flushing to be found.

No draining = no flushing.
No draining = no flushing + a bathtub of standing water, now filled with flesh eating chemicals.

(not)Awesome.

We plunged and waited. Plunged and waited. After 2 hours we were left with a damp bathtub ringed with dark hair & pink fuzz.

Sick.
(And no, I'm not sure where the fuzz came from, and I'm not interested in dwelling too long on its origin).

Big Daddy had to shower before heading in at 6:30 this morning, and it took 3 HOURS for the tub to near empty.

So Mama rolled up her sleeves and showed that drain who's Boss around here.

I vaguely remembered that Young House Love had done a post about a clogged drain, and a quick search found me what I was looking for.

I followed Sherry's suggestions, and unscrewed the overflow valve, stuck a damp towel in the opening, and plunged like it was my job. It's a good thing it's not my 9-5, as I was not successful in loosening whatever horrific gunk is embedded in those 60 year old pipes.

So then, I moved to step 2: vinegar, baking soda, & hot water. I poured, it bubbled, and I backed away. I let it work, then plunged again.

No go.

I waited, I plunged.

SUCCESS!

I plunged a bit more, then ran hot water. I swear, it works better than ever now.

So, Sherry, John - THANK YOU. And readers - all 4 of you - please hightail it over to Young House Love & enjoy a little DIY on this Fab Friday.

And now, I must disinfect the bathroom with bleach.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mmmm... SODA


The walls on my glass house are feeling particularly thick tonight, so I think I'll dust off my soapbox for a moment.

If I ran the world - or at least the U.S. - I would tax the daylights out of soda. While I don't think that soda is the single source of the increasing obesity and health issues our nation is drowning in, I DO think that it's one of the big culprits. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed Mark Bittman's recent article in the New York Times comparing soda to tobacco.

Look, I enjoy a cold Diet Coke as much as the next sleep-starved mommy, but I think I have my soda consumption under control (and if you're curious, I'd say I consume, on average, 1-2 sodas per week). Unfortunately, there are many, many people who regularly consume hundreds of ounces each week - each one chock full with high-fructose corn syrup and empty calories.

I consider soda to be a luxury. Just as we heavily tax alcohol, tobacco, and gasoline, we should absolutely tax the CRAP out of soda. It's not as though there's no alternative to that 64 oz. of Mountain Dew you're eyeing at the Git-n-Go. We are blessed to live in a country with consistently clean, safe, readily available DRINKING WATER.

Most shocking to me? A few weeks ago I viewed a news story on this idea, and they stated that a recent poll showed that 85% of Americans are AGAINST a soda tax. Really? When we can raise billions and I don't know, FUND PUBLIC HEALTH CARE?

Maybe America will change its mind when the insurance companies start dropping coverage due to the epic rise in diabetes, heart disease, and the plethora of other obesity related health conditions. By that time it'll be too little, too late.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A new look

I'm not crazy about it, but it will have to do until I get my new editing software next week.

And then teach myself how to use it.

Hahahahahhaha.

Hope you're having a lovely Monday!

(Looks like we've made friends with the neighbors (with the Bumpass hounds), as he is snowblowing our sidewalk as I type this. Is there anything that homemade bread can't do??)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Yeah, I Messed it ALL Up

I had the bright idea to refresh my blog background. Just a simple change.

And now that I've lost what I had, screwed up the new template, and magically made several widgets disappear.... here we are.

I will fix it later.

After my head stops exploding & I've cleaned up the pieces.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Am A Sheep

I finally found my motivation for a crafting project that I have been mentally kicking around for many months. I used this tutorial.

The most difficult part was resizing the originals to ensure they were the same sizes when printed (and simultaneously realizing what an idiot I was for not thinking about the fact that because Kid 1 is four years older than Kid 2, her head might be a wee bit bigger than his.)

(Then again - LOOK AT THE SIZE OF HIS NOGGIN!!)


I am so in love with the final product.

Tell me again why I didn't do this a year ago???

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Party Idea


I love to lurk on Blonde Designs. Not only is the aesthetic clean and simple & the ideas awesome, but I also appreciate the downloads they occasionally offer - so I too can pretend to be competent and fabulous with my own custom designed water bottle labels. {Not that I have actually had occasion to use these. I'm just thinking how competent and fabulous I WILL BE. Whenever I decide to throw a party. Maybe some time in the next decade. Or never. Whichever comes first.}

But look what some friends whipped up for Angie's birthday: a Coco Chanel-inspired party! I hope that some day someone will think to throw me a simple yet fabulous surprise party. Because nothing says birthday love like desserts and pearls.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fab Friday: February 12

This may seem a little silly, but pencil pouches have been a lifesaver in our house.
Big Sis has always been a creative girl. As soon as she could grasp a crayon, she marked, drew, shaded, cross-hatched, painted, splattered, and glued her way through a myriad of projects. As she grew, so did her collection of art supplies.

Around Christmas we realized things were a bit out of control. A purge was in order, and purge we did. And then surprise! Mom and Dad provided a new array of supplies to enhance her creativity - complete with pencil pouches to secure her new rainbow of twist-up crayons & pencils. Now she knows where they are, and more importantly, which crayons are hers & which are her brothers.

**PS, if you haven't used twist-up crayons or pencils, you're missing out. Awesome.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rosy Ring

How cute is this rosy little ring?!

{sorry, I couldn't get an image to upload, you so have to click through to see it}

I wish I bejeweled my fingers more often......

Snow Day


On Wednesday, we woke up to this:


It was the first significant (over an 1") snowfall since we moved here!

Big Daddy & Big J were long gone on their journey back West, so Big Sis and I started our Snow Day with oven-cooked bacon & pancakes. Y.U.M!!


After breakfast, we headed outside.

I grabbed a shovel and started clearing snow:
(this is the AFTER picture)


While Big Sis met up with the neighbors and mostly did this:


We ended with some serious Snow Angel-making.


Then we headed indoors for a movie.

We ended our day with some crafting. Glitter makes everything better.


A great first snow day!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Most Random Catch-Up Post

I am still in reluctant blogger mode, so I'm just going to mash all the recent happenings into one random post.

Here goes.

This has been an odd winter. I fully expected that moving further north & east, and to a state surrounded by water on 3 sides meant we would have more snow & cold, but I have been wrong. Detroit is actually down about 30" of snow from last year. It's been cold (sub-freezing), but I don't think we've dipped below zero at all. Currently we have just patches of snow on the ground, and I don't think we've gotten more than 1" of snow from any of the "storms" that have come through. Wonder if that means we are in for a fierce summer?

The kids have been sick for about a month now. It started on Christmas Eve when Big J woke up with croup. Although he recovered pretty quickly, there were some lingering sniffles between the two of them. Then, 2 weeks ago, we were invaded by Rotavirus. If you don't know what it is, google it, as I am choosing to not relive the horror of it. Let's just say that in the past few weeks I've easily tripled the loads of laundry, toilet paper, diapers, carpet cleaner, & Clorox wipes that we usually use. First Big Sis suffered through it, then when she recovered, she passed it to Big J. Although I love it when they share I would have been happier if they had not shared this. I THINK they're fully on the mend now and hope that we have healthy times ahead.

I am still working on Big Sis' birthday quilt. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift, then it turned into a Birthday gift. Now it may be an Easter gift. Possibly Valentine's, but I'm not making any promises. I like how it's turning out, but it's been A LOT of work. And with sick kids, birthdays & life to work around, I just wasn't able to knock it out like I had hoped. I will post pics when it's all done.

Next on the crafting docket are: a birthday banner for Big J, a duvet cover for Big J, Cars birthday cake for Big J, silhouettes of the kids, and to finish off the chair I am painting/ reupholstering for my craft area.

Thanks to Christmas gift cards, I've been able to upgrade some of my kitchen tools. I am now the giddy owner of a 7" Wusthof Santoku knife and a set of All-Clad French Skillets. And yes, they are as amazing as I had hoped they would be.
I DO find it ironic that almost as soon as I purchased these skillets, All-Clad discontinued their basic stainless line and replaced it with the far more expensive MC2 line. Bummer. BUT I have also found Cookware & More for All-Clad irregulars at excellent prices. I have not yet purchased from them, but I plan to save my pennies and invest in more new cookware. I love to cook, and it's SO much more pleasurable when you have the right tools.

We recently joined the local Y and I've been trying to go 3-4 days each week. I love the 2 hours of free childwatch, and so do the kids. It's super, super clean & they always have fun there. I'm back on the Couch-to-5K program & plan to participate in the Detroit Race for the Cure in May. Big Sis starts swim lessons at the Y in just a few weeks & we're hoping this is going to get her ramped up to hit the pool/ beach this summer.

We finally entered the 21st century & tried out Skype with the Grandparents! The transmission was a little spotty, but it was really neat to be able to see & hear them. I can see us relying more heavily on Skype as we continue to be far from family for the next 5-6 years.

We split up the kids. When we moved to MI, we had kept the kids paired up with the idea of using the spare room as a playroom. Well, turns out our kids want to be with us - wherever we are in the house - and really never used the playroom. A few days ago we broke down and moved Big J into the playroom. Big Sis is happy to have her own room again - where she can shut the door and keep him out. They've made the transition really well, and now I just need to finish cleaning out the toys and reorganizing their spaces. I think it may be about time to be done with the changing table and transition to a dresser. My baby isn't a baby any more! I'm thinking of sprucing up his room with these:

I LOVE this print. It's from falldowntree's Etsy shop, and it's part of the My New Robot series. I think the little guy in the print looks so much like Big J. I've had my eye on this for months, but I can't decide if I could/ should mix robots & dinosaurs & airplane prints. They all have the same look, but are the subjects too unrelated?
Ikea Aneboda dresser
A little basic & boring, but within our budget.

Land of Nod Strapping Storage Bins
These look great for big toys & as a laundry hamper.

Big Daddy is heading back to Oregon for a week & he's taking Big J with him. I'm excited for them to have this adventure together, but miss them both already. Fortunately, Big Sis has a Winter Break over the exact days they will be gone, so we'll get to spend some good girl time together.

That's all for now.

6

My girl is 6! Sometimes it seems like just a few years ago that we were getting ready to head to the hospital to meet our baby girl. And now she's 6. I feel old.


We gave her the option to stay home and relax on her birthday & she CHOSE to go to school.
We all got up a little early to open presents and partake in her birthday breakfast (donuts & fruit smoothies). One of the few things she asked for was a new dress-up box. She LOVES to dress up and often saunters around the house in her princess high heels. A girly-girl all the way.


My girl is very susceptible to the power of the infomercial, and that, combined with our slightly chilly house, led to a fascination with the Snuggie. She thinks it's pretty awesome.


I am not a scrapbooker or a stamper, but after seeing so many adorable birthday banners on the craft blogs I read, I had a notion to give it a whirl. She thought it was GREAT.


Triple Layer Red Velvet Cake with Swiss Buttercream Frosting.
Recipes from Smitten Kitchen. It turned out good (not great), but I think it was clearly due to my lack of practice in cake baking, NOT the recipes.


Noming on cotton candy at Chuck E. Cheese. She was SO excited to go to CEC for her birthday. Thank goodness her birthday was during the week, as I don't think Big Daddy and I could have tolerated a weekend visit.


I wasn't sure what she'd think about the cake, but she loved it.
(Note: 6 year old girls can be a touch persnickety).

Blowing out candles.

She wore that crown all evening, and puts it on every day. Nothing says birthday girl like a blow-up crown!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fab Friday: February 5

The D has been fortunate to have a very mild winter this year. My friends in the DSM have not been so lucky. So, in honor of cold, frosty weather, I give you one of our favorite recipes. It's cheesy, it's warm, and it's super easy. Although this is from my Cooking Light cookbook, I am going to give you the recipe the way I make it. If you want to use the lower sodium, lower fat mods, go for it. It's good either way.

Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 package chicken flavored Rice-A-Roni
1 Tbs. butter
2 1/4 cups hot water
Cooking spray
1 1/2 lbs. chicken cut into bite-sized pieces (tenderloins or breast)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup
Shredded Cheese

1. Spray 2-quart casserole pan with cooking spray.
2. Cook rice according to package directions, using the butter and the hot water. When done cooking, place mixture in a large bowl. Wipe pan with paper towel.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Coat skillet with cooking spray. Place over high heat until hot. Add chicken, mushrooms & garlic powder. Saute 4 minutes or until chicken is done. Add chicken mixture, sour cream, pepper, and soup to rice mixture. Stir until well blended. Place mixture into casserole dish.
5. Sprinkle with cheese - as much as you'd like.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

(image from Finecooking.com)

Note: Have you seen the cover of The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook? I think I purchased it simply because of the delightful looking Blueberry Pound Cake on the cover..... with Vanilla-Buttermilk Ice Cream!! One of these days I'll get around to making it. Being the only blueberry lover in the house is rough. Real rough.