Freedom is not free
Monday, May 31, 2010
Freedom is not free
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
So as my ever changing body become bigger and bigger, I have the opportunity to purchase new clothes! Being the cheap person that I am, I don't plan on buying a lot of maternity clothes that I can only wear when I am super pregnant. I wanted to purchase clothes that I can wear after this body transition.
Thanks to the recent fashion trends of tunics and leggings, my quest for fashionable prego clothes has been VERY possible. I don't know if you have tried leggings since 1986 but I am telling you, they are the most comfortable pants in the world! I feel like I am wearing sweatpants to work!
Above: Old Navy Women's Ruffled Tube Dresses Regular Price $11.50 Clearance, Mossimo Supply Co. Juniors Long Sleeve Solid Cardigan Sweater - Fresh White $17.99, Old Navy Women's Striped Gauze Blouse Tops $24.50, Old Navy Women's Tiered Denim Skirts Clearance $14.50, Target Mossimo Supply Co. Juniors Elbow Sleeve Cardigan Sweater - Black $14.99, Old Navy Women's Jersey Tube Sundown Gowns Regular Price $10.50 Clearance
Above: Forever 21 Seamless Legging $5.50, Forever 21 Spotted Knit Top $15.80, Forever 21 Drawstring Striped Tunic $11.50, Payless Shoes Maggie Softie Cork Wedge Montego Bay Club $16.99 in black, Forever 21 Fab Mid Length Leggings $4.50 (in blue and grey), Forever 21 Cheetah Knit Tunic $17.80, Payless Shoes Maggie Softie Cork Wedge Montego Bay Club $16.99 in white
The shoes above are from Payless shoes and I own them in black, white, and gold. Why so many colors? When I find something comfy I buy it in all shades it comes in. I love these shoes!! I wear them to work everyday and run around town in them all the time. The little heal on them is enough to give me some height, but not enough to throw me off balance...which will be very helpful when my stomach is the size of a watermelon.
I should make one very important note on the use of leggings. Be sure to get a long enough shirt that it covers the front and back of your "swimsuit area". Trust me, the front is best left kept to the imagination and unless you have those AWESOME underwear with implants built in, it's just best to keep it all covered up!
With the heat of summer coming on, it's time to break out your shorts and dresses. I have looked at some maternity shorts, but I haven't found any that I really like. Plus, I would rather spend my money on some dresses that I wear to parties and work this year and next year! Good thing that baggy sun dresses have never been more in style than now!
Yesterday I went shopping and picked up the two dresses and skirt at Old Navy on the clearance rack! The website still shows them at full price, but the store is bursting with clothes in the clearance section. Because tube tops aren't the most work appropriate attire, I pair them with cardigan sweaters. The denim skirt above is probably my favorite. The elastic waste band can stretch, as I do, and the style is just so flowing and free.
This section I call my randoms. I have purchased some of the items below, but eventually plan to purchase them all.
Above: Target BeBand Maternity Band Ebony $16.99, Forever 21 Linen Summer Pants (drawstring) $22.80, Forever 21 Relaxed Linen Pants $14.50, SO® Crochet-Trim Tube Halter Top $16.00, Forever 21 Pintucked Woven Top $17.80
The item to the left is the BeBand from Target. This band goes over your tummy and the top of your jeans, allowing you to keep wearing your regular jeans, only unbuttoned and unzipped. Sounds uncomfortable right? Well, it's not. I picked up a brand new one at a garage sale for $2.50. They lady just never used it and with that price, how could I not buy it? I wore it around my house and it felt great!
The next two pants are NOT maternity pants. You could have fooled me, right? They were at the Forever 21 store the other day and I tried both of them on. They fit really nice, but the only problem is that the store only had them in smalls. I may fit into a small now, but give me a month and I won't. I have been debating on ordering them online in larger size, but I thought I might check back at the store to see if they get more in. I just hate paying shipping costs.
The pink top I purchased at Kohls a couple of weeks ago. I just really thought is was cute and breezy, great for those hot summer days. Finally, the last shirt. This one was on the Forever 21 website and there is just something about it that I really like. I am going to try to hunt it down in the store as well, but I think the shirt will be a really good style for those summer to fall days. It probably will match a couple of my leggings as well.
Well, those are my finds so far. I am still small enough to fit in most of my clothes, but they are getting pretty tight. I have gained a total of 13 pounds so far and I am sure that is just the beginning of the weight gain. My next clothing quest....gym clothes that fit the belly!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
After searching around the yard, I settled on a spot on the backside of our house that faces South. We have future plans of landscaping around the entire perimeter of the house, so I wanted to incorporate this garden with future landscaping plans. This is the spot I chose:
I know, the air conditioner is ugly right?!? One idea for landscaping around the house is to hide the air conditioner with some sort of large shrub. I had to keep this idea in mind while I was laying out the garden. I searched around on the internet and found this picture of some one's herb garden layout. I really liked the plan, but my space is not as big as the picture so it has been modified a lot.
To start the garden, the first step is to remove the grass. This is a very tiring step. It involves some muscle, sweat, and determination. Get ready to get dirty and take out a bunch of earthworms in the process. I almost name this blog "Friendly Fire" due to the millions of earthworms that lost their lives in this quest of mine. I saved as many as I could, but some of them got in the way.
Here are the tools I used to get this part done: spade, hand trowel, lawn edger, and a dandelion weeder. (In order from left to right.)Ok, I know what you are thinking, 'What does a dandelion weeder have to do with this project?' Well, when it comes to removing grass, it is a miracle tool! I use the blade to stab right below the root line of the grass and it allows me to roll up the grass as I remove it. Really, it is the best tool for removing grass. I took a picture of how I use it. I removed all the grass from a 10' x 42" section. After all the grass was removed, I proceeded to dig a ditch. The ditch stops the grass from spreading into the bed. The ditch is about 4 inches deep and 2 inches wide. It is not necessary to add in a ditch if you are putting in an edging of some sort.
After the ditch was ready, it was finally time to plant all the plants! WooHoo!!
I chose the following plants:
Nanho Purple Butterfly Bush
On each side of the garden is the Nanho Purple Butterfly Bush. This plant is nice because it attracts butterflies and can grow up to 4'x4'...which is perfect for covering up the air conditioner!
Against the house I planted two dill plants, three sweet basil, and two rosemary plants.
In the front of the bed I planted one of each of the following herbs: italian parsley, oregano, chives, and cilantro.
To finish it all off, I made these very cute, little copper labels for the herbs. I found the copper labels at Target last year in packs of 4 in the $1 section. It came with a black marker to write names on them, but I wanted a more permanent label. I used an old pottery tool (it looks like a long pin) to poke the names through the copper. With time, they should develop that pretty, green copper look.
Finally my herb garden was finished. It was so nice looking, but just so plain around the edges. I decided to go digging through our pile of leftover landscaping items from last year. To my luck I found some retaining wall topper blocks. I laid them each out and got them to fit pretty well together. They are not level or perfectly lined up, but for a temporary garden they do the trick.
Here are the final results:
Here's a better map of the garden:
I am really looking forward to cooking this summer in our new kitchen, complete will all the fresh herbs we need. I have a nice sunburn from this project, but overall it just took a couple hours to complete! It's an easy weekend project that anyone can do.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
2 lbs firm tofu
1/2 cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dill
1/2 cup green onion, diced
salt and pepper
1. I always drain my tofu first.
2. I cut it into 1/4", wrap it in paper towels on a cookie sheet, with another one on top, weighted down with some heavy canned goods.
3. Let sit in refrigerator for 10-20 minutes.
4. Mash the tofu in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
5. Mix tofu well with remaining ingredients.
6. Chill and serve.
This is great for sandwiches and also delicious on wheat crackers.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Here is a list of my top 10 items that are essentials in my handygirl home improvement adventures. They are in no particular order because they all are very important to me at some point and time, depending on the project. Without them all, the projects would take twice as long and I might lose my mind twice as fast!
And that's my Handygirl's Top 10 essentials. I just can't think of how so many project we do around this house that wouldn't get does quite as efficient without them. And as someone famous once said, “Concentrating on the essentials. We will then be accomplishing the greatest possible results with the least effort expended.” That is really my overall goal with these projects: getting the job finished while expended the least amount of effort, and these little tools make that all possible.
6 large eggs
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups crunchy peanut butter
9 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups plain M&M's
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in HUGE mixer bowl until creamy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Mix in baking soda and peanut butter.
4. Add oatmeal, candy, and chocolate chips and mix thoroughly by hand. If dough is too sticky, add another 1/2 to 1 cup oatmeal.
5. Scoop ice cream size balls of dough onto cookie sheets, with plenty of space in between. (Like 2 inches apart.)
6. Bake at 350° for 13-15 minutes. If using two racks, switch top to bottom and bottom to top about halfway through.
Yields 60 -80 cookies
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I know some people out there like the shiny brass, but I really am not a big fan of it. My first solution to remedy this problem was just to purchase new hardware. The current hardware made dents in the woods, so I would have to buy the similar shape to cover up those dents. After searching around on the internet I found that hardware in this design usually runs from $4-5. Doesn't seem like much right? But considering I needed 30 pieces it was out of my budget.
What else is a girl to do??? Well spray paint! I purchased Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Metallic Spray in Dark bronze and the results are perfect!
It took about 10 minutes to spray paint all the hardware and a little longer to reinstall it all, but the results are amazing!
Here is the dresser/changing table before:
And here is the dresser/changing table after:
I think the color of the new handles deepens the color of the wood on the dresser and I love it! Now if only I could rip up the maroon carpet in this room!
I have been walking around my house trying to figure out what else I can attack with this spray paint. If I come up with anymore ideas I will post them. Nothing is better than a quick, easy, cheap, makeover in minutes!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I can honestly say that I have never been much of a decorator. I think becoming a polished decorator comes with practice and being that this is our first house I have never had the opportunity to practice.
For the nursery, we have chosen the bedroom across the hallway from our master bedroom. The room is a good sized room (13'x11'3") so I am hoping that we have plenty of room to create a really cute space for this little man. The room is pretty dated looking with it's brown string wallpaper, but it has some other pretty good features: a nice quality chair rail, good sized closet with solid oak doors, and my FAVORITE PART a window seat! Below are a couple pictures of the room...really not the best pictures, but you get the idea of the VERY dated current look.
Lately, I have been trying to think of the best way to go about practicing this newly wanted artistic trait of 'decorating'. When I was in undergraduate school, for my graphic design degree, in one of my first classes we created an "idea book". The book consisted of magazines ads, coasters, stickers, or really anything of the print media sort that we really enjoyed the design elements. The idea was that before you started designing a project you would flip through the book and it would get those creative juices flowing. I can honestly say I use the same sort of method today at work, but now I click through award winning graphic designer websites.
My first thought about the overall decorating of this nursery was to create my own "idea book", but this time share my ideas with everyone and hopefully get some great feedback. It will be a perfect way to get ideas and practice the art of decorating. The problem I am having is that every picture I find, I like parts of it, but not necessarily the whole thing...which I guess is all a part of the 'practicing'. Without further ado, here are my ideas for the nursery.
In my vision of the room, the top half of the wall will be painted a light green. The wall would be separated by the golden oak chair rail (which is already in place) and stripes would be on the bottom half of the wall. I haven't decided to incorporated the color brown in the stripe or just use 3 different shades of green. Here are a couple ideas of the stripes I like:
Really I would like the stripes to look something like this below.
I just can't decided to add brown in or not...
The main part of the room that I really LOVE is the window seat. I can just imagine our little boy curling up in the window seat and reading his little books. There are just so many ideas I have had about this window seat, but I think I have narrowed it down to a couple.
Idea number one, bookshelves! I just think it would be so great to add bookshelves to the sides, above, and below the window seat. It will be functional for storage and also add a finishing touch to the room. Here are a couple of ideas I have found that reflect what I am thinking:
In addition to the super cute, functionality the bookshelves will add, it also will be a great woodworking project for my husband and a good opportunity to help in the creation of the nursery. He really enjoys building projects and I think he would really enjoy building this addition to the room. I showed him what I wanted yesterday and he had this look of doubt on his face. There is a heating vent in the way, so we would have to move that and I think he is afraid that it might turn into this HUGE project (and it probably will!) I figure he just needs some healthy encouragement to get the project going. I guess we will see if I can convince him to add the built-ins bookshelves. :)
Idea number two, curtains! I know genius, right! Who adds curtains to a room?!? I would like the curtains to be long, thick, and green, that can be tied back when needed. The whole purpose of the curtains are to create a small, little hideaway within the window seat for the little man. He can climb up in the window seat, close his curtains, crack open a little book and read in his little hiding place. I know, my imagination has really run away with me.
As for bedding, pillows and all the other finishing touches...I just haven't found the right ones. I am debating on refreshing my sewing skills and possibly creating my own bedding for the crib and toddler bed to make it match all that is in my mind. Again, I might be a little too ambitious with this project, but a girl can dream right?
Well, those are my ideas for now. They might change or I might add more as time progresses, I guess only time can tell!
Monday, May 10, 2010
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 (13 ounce) can pineapple bits (reserve syrup)
- 1/3 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
- hot cooked brown rice
1. Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Coat chicken with cornstarch.
2. Brown in large skillet.
3. Combine brown sugar, pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce.
4. Remove chicken from skillet and place in oven proof dish.
5. Place chicken in dish and pour sauce over the chicken.
6. Bake at 300° for 1 hour.
7. Add pineapple and green peppers.
8. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Check to make sure chicken is not pink, if it is keep cooking for another 15 minutes.
The Skinny: Serves 4 @ 302 Calories without the rice
We originally chose a very beige looking stone color, New Venetian Gold, but two weeks after we ordered the granite, the company ran out of that particular color so we had to start over from scratch. I was so IN LOVE with that color! Oh well, things happen. We ended up with the New Venetian Light, which is more of whiter stone but we are pretty satisfied with the color. It doesn't show ANY food crumbs or stains at all! I was wiping them off yesterday and it was so hard for me to tell if something was on the counter. It just blends in! Which I guess is a good thing in case we have some unexpected guests.
When you install new countertops, they usually recommend to install a new sink and we chose this beauty! A granite composite, undermount, double bowl sink in black! Complete with a lovely low-profile divider, which makes the sink better to accommodate larger pots. It has really made doing dishes easy, no more odd-shaped pans that won't fit in the sink! I just love the wavy cut in the granite for the sink.
Along with the new counters, we purchased a new LG cook-top for the kitchen. We chose a five heating element cook-top with touch sensor buttons, so cleaning it is super easy! It is gorgeous! We are waiting to update the other appliances until one of them breaks down. They all work pretty good, so we decided just to keep them for now. (But I can't wait for them to break down!)