Friday, March 30, 2012

Our Wedding Bottles

We tried to save as much money as possible on our wedding - mainly because we were paying for most of it and our honeymoon (with help from my lovely parents). One look that i loved was the casual, rustic look. We had our wedding by the lake, so for some reason my head went to sea glass (even though we were not going to be on a sandy beach somewhere tropical) and then to wine bottles.

My sister worked for a little while at a restaurant and bar, so she saved bottles they had, and I also had all of my friends and family who drank wine (or sparkling apple cider like us) to save them. I also threw jars in to the mix for candles (and mason jars for guests to drink from, but those don't really relate to the purpose of this post).

With all of these lovely glass bottles and jars, my vision was coming together. But, those pesky labels just weren't cute.

And I was saving and collecting all kinds of bottles and jars - root beer bottles, orange soda bottles, coca cola bottles, wine bottles (all kinds), peanut jars, pickle jars, spaghetti jars...

So, here is the knowledge I gained from cleaning off all of those bottles and jars:

1. If there is a paper or plastic label, soak first. This soaking will help the glue (if its only a little) get pretty hard and the label get softer so they will pull apart. Some jars and bottles just needed this step and the label pulled right off without leaving residue.
2. If there was residue, sometimes just a little dish soap and a scrubby brush or sponge (something a little rough) can get it off.
3. If there are globs of glue (I mainly saw this on a couple of spaghetti jars), try to pull it off when its clumped up. If you try to scrub off the globs, it can make a bigger, sticky mess. I just used my finger or a razor blade (be safe with these!! Wear protective gloves, dry off the jar or bottle well first to prevent slipping, and use a razor blade holder- don't just have the razor blade in your hand).
4. If there was STILL sticky residue or discoloration, I dried the jar or bottle off completely and then sprayed goo gone (although it does have other hidden, awesome properties), let it sit for about a minute, then use a scrubby brush or sponge to get that off.
5. Because I was not being picky, I got some sticky jars - namely pickle jars. What I did with those was pour some vinegar and a teaspoon of baking soda in it, sealed it with the lid, shook it up, and let it sit over night. Sometimes I even added a bit of lemon juice if it was a really stinky jar. I often use vinegar to get rid of smells and thought I was crazy for using it in a pickle jar (because the jar was stinky due to the vinegar that was in with the pickles). But it more often than not worked!

Anyone have other ways they have removed labels from glass? Used bottles and/or jars in a wedding or other event? I love how we were able to collect so many and didn't spend a penny on the ones for decor - and they were EVERYWHERE! It was awesome.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adventures in Blogging

Today, I've been browsing the blogs to see who else is out there and found some realy awesome people up to some really awesome things.

I'm not writing this blog for any other purpose than to just share our adventures, successes, lessons, and flubs. So seeing others who genuinely just want to learn new things and share their adventures too makes my heart swell. Check out these people at the Sunday Social event hosted by The Kurtz Corner and The Sasse Life.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dreaming About a Patio

Living in an apartment makes certain activities that The Mister and I love to do more difficult. When we picked our first apartment together after our wedding, we were thinking more price and interior comfort. Now, we just want more square footage! And that day is coming, folks. D-day is April 21. Expect blog posts about purging and packing.

But today is about something we have talked more about recently: our patio at our next place. It is modest, but we are looking so forward to it.  I dream of an herb garden, flowers, and a dwarf lemon tree. The Mister dreams of a little patio set with a big checkers game mat. We are looking around for the perfect patio set - more bistro style.

At Home Goods, we came across this cute one.

Pros: Price is $129.99. The table is big enough for the hubbys cloth checkerboard set up. The chairs fit snugly under the table.
Cons: It is white - exposure to the elements would show discoloration on the legs. The chairs are small-ish.

I also found this one on
Pros: Price is $126.99. Bigger chairs for comfy seating (even have a slight lean, which is nice). Teak wood.
Cons: Smaller table and chairs don't fit as nicely under the table. This one would take up a bit more patio room.

So, we still have a little less than a month before we move to think about it and look for good deals. But whatever we get, we will be super excited about it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Adding Sunshine to the Bedroom

When The Mister and I got married, we were happy, poor newlyweds with very little furniture between the two of us to fill our first place. To solve this problem, we trekked to Ikea for furniture that fit our budget. We ended up with a lot of white furniture. Our bedroom had a white entertainment center for books and our TV, a white bed, white sheets and a white down comforter, and 2 identical white nightstands. We went this route because our bedroom is small and very neutral. Neutral colors make small rooms look bigger, right? So we had touches of tan, brown, and black here and there to add contrast, but the white washed room became too much.

As we dream of moving, we are also dreaming up a brighter bedroom! We have already purchased a duvet for our comforter (expect that to be shared soon-ish) and now I have moved on to the night stands.

They are Ikea's Aspelund nightstands. We picked them because the shape matched the shaping on our bed and the door allowed for more hidden book storage.

It is a lovely, basic, boring nightstand that I loved at first but now am sick of. My eyes are weary of seeing white!

As we dreamed up our bedroom, we were drawn to grays and yellows with natural woods thrown in. These are some inspiration rooms:


(**Pictures are clickable so you can see the source!)

 So, I decided to go for it and paint our nightstands yellow. Behr's Sun Ray, to be exact.

After mixing our paint and getting his dab to put on the lid, the paint guy said "That will wake you up in the morning!" That was my thought exactly.

I discovered that yellow paint is the most difficult paint I have used so far. It took 3 coats and a careful eye for coverage to avoid lighter spots where the yellow paint appeared more green.

See where the top is separated on the right one? Well, that is because I tried to take the nightstand more apart than just unscrewing the door. But, the tacks on the back held it in place, too. And I was too lazy to untack just to retack it back.

I think the little polished bronze looking knob is cute (for now). Isn't this much better than the boring white nightstand we had before?

Now let us see this sunshine beauty in the room, shall we...

My camera was having a hard time with the clouds taking away my natural lighting in some of the shots. The picture with the most true color is the very bottom one. Just the pop of color we need.
You can't say we didn't go for it.

Now - to find the perfect accent pillows! 

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I am a firm believer in the philosophy "Everything in moderation." With that said, I am also conscientious of certain things that I eat (or that I serve The Mister), especially the amount of salt we take in. Within the last year, I have become a smarter consumer, reading more and more product labels. And we can get tons of salt in surprising places! Taco seasoning packets were great for convenience for me, but when I read the label I was surprised that there was so much salt AND I didn't even know what a lot of the stuff on the ingredients list was. So I did my due diligence and mixed up my own.

I like to make the taco seasoning in bulk. And I like to save empty spice containers to save my own mixes in (that is how my taco seasoning ended up in a nice glass spice container). There are a lot of recipes out there for homemade taco seasoning. I use my seasoning mix for all tex mex recipes. Queso gets a little dash, fajitas are rubbed down with 2 tablespoons, and a pound of ground beef gets a tablespoon of seasoning.

Here is the Taco Seasoning Mix (for bulk):

1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 Tbs cayenne pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried minced onion flakes
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
3 tsp paprika
2 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs black pepper
1/2 Tbs coarse sea salt

I prefer the shaken, not stirred method no mixing these spices together. What was awesome about that is before I had a nice spice container, I just labeled a ziplock with "Tex Mex Spice mix" and scooped as I needed it.  A tip I read at a few different places and didn't believe it until I tried it is to add 1 tablespoon of regular, boring all purpose flour to ground meat for tacos to let these spices stick better to the meat so you get more flavor.

We use this mix A LOT at our house. I love some delicious tex mex.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Changing Seasons & Conflict

Winter seems to be fading and spring has decided to stick around. We love the sunshine at the lake!

This day ended perfectly. But it started out with a very silly argument. After talking it out, crying, and talking some more, we found the root was what most of the roots of arguments are: miscommunication and misunderstanding. Praise God that we now expect that to be the center of a conflict, so we hunt to find it at the first shining light of a "fight."

To make it better, we hugged, kissed, cuddled Lola, and went to get food. We are trying to make wiser fast food choices so we are now leaning to not fast food. We make meals at home or we get food from a not fast food place. This time, we went to Central Market. He got a burger. I got brisket tacos. We shared chocolate whoopie pies and off to the lake we went.

A picnic, talks about us and our life and our dreams, and Lola swimming in the Lake all made for a wonderful evening.

At the beginning of our relationship, an argument would have ruined the whole date. Now, an argument in marriage can ruin a whole night (or even the next day if it's a big one that is allowed to fester). We have made it a point to solve any argument before we go to sleep. This was a phrase I have heard many times: Don't go to bed mad. It is so true. Do not. Don't. Period. Get to the root of it (after there is a moment of cooling off). Don't yell. Speak calmly. Find out what is REALLY the issue. Then hug, kiss, and share a whoopie pie.

P.S. Isn't Lola such a cute swimming dog? She was practically begging us to jump in the water. It was precious.

Hutch - Trimmed and Backed

Remember that big list of things to accomplish for the hutch in our dining room? Well, you saw that we bought some beadboard and I painted it. Now, we get to install it! 

The Mister, playing a little air guitar on a shopping trip.

We took that lovely piece of 1x2x8 home to serve as trim between the hutch and the desk where the beadboard meets the top. The Mister used his miter box and saw to make the perfect 90 degree cuts. Then I pulled out my trusty Olympic paint in Drifting Dune and got to work!

Once the trim was painted and cured up, The Mister pulled out his newest fancy tool - a Kreg jig. It is used to make pocket holes to join together wood. It's a sneaky way to build furniture where screws are hidden away. 

A few measurements, clamps, and a little drilling later, you get this lovely pocket hole.

Once those fancy holes were drilled, we screwed the support in to the hutch. Doesn't that look professional? 

That extra trim at the bottom not only makes attaching the beadboard easier and gives a more polished look, but it also helps support the base of the hutch better, structurally.

The cuts and measurements are so perfect that we had to slightly bow the beadboard. It is super snug.

Once we saw it fit, The Mister flipped the beadboard around where the back was visible from the front to draw guides along the shelves for accurate placement of the screws.

We thought about our different choices in hardware for attaching the beadboard to the hutch and narrowed it down to two options: tacks or pickguard screws. Pickguard screws are used on guitars to attach the pickguard to the guiter body. A problem I often have with tacks is after a while, pressure in the "right" places causes the tack to get loose and the backing pops off. The Mister wanted the option of easily disassembling the hutch to repaint, repair, or do any other little thing our hearts desired. So, we chose the screws.  

The Mister predrilled with a 5/64 inch drillbit about 3/4 inch deep.

If you squint, you can see the sharpie drawn guides with 3 screws per shelf (left, middle, and right sides) and 2 screws at the trim, just in the corner, to total 14 screws.

So here is the before meets after at this point.

So, what is left for this piece o' furniture?
  • Glass in the doors - Hubby wants to find some antiqued glass
  • Magnets to keep doors closed (so we can nix the twine)
  • Resquare and support doors
  • Resquare and support lower desk
  • Line drawers with pretty paper
  • Repaint due to my staining fiasco and messy rag handling
  • Wax up those drawer guides (Originally, I wanted to shape out the guides in acrylic so the drawers could pull out easier. However, research has helped me discover that wax can work the same way at a fraction of the cost and time. Woohoo!)

It is coming along!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Carrot and Zucchini Muffins

It was a lazy Saturday morning. I was enjoying getting cozy in my bed, watching Food Network. I saw this recipe and just couldn't get it out of my head! Giada De Laurentiis knows how to make a yummy muffin.

She made mini ones, but I do not have a mini muffin tin in my baking arsenal as of yet, so I just adjusted the baking time and made regular muffins.

These muffins used many ingredients I do not usually have on hand in my pantry: almond flour,  brown rice flour, and grapeseed oil. They were there on the shelf at Walmart, so don't fret about being able to find them.

You have seen other carrot muffin recipe. Delicious and sweet veggies in cake. So, seeing another with zucchini added in the mix made my mouth water. Don't forget to peel that carrot before you grate it. The zucchini can keep its skin.

Super thick, delicious smelling batter. It smelled even better baking in the oven. That cinnamon will get me every time.

And the frosting. You don't have to have frosting on yours, but I just can't do it.

I always seem to have cream cheese in the house. Cream cheese frosting is my favorite. Blend until smooth. Top it the way you like it.

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots (from1 medium peeled carrot)
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini (from 1 medium unpeeled zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
Frosting (optional for you)
  • 1 cup whipped cream cheese, at room temperature (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 mini muffin tins with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, sieve together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add any solids leftover in the sieve to the bowl and mix in.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, and egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in the grated carrot, grated zucchini, and raisins.

4. Fill the prepared muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter and bake until light golden, about 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

5. For the frosting: In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and honey until smooth.

6. Spread the cooled muffins with frosting, if using, and serve.


Source: Giada De Laurentiis's Carrot and Zucchini Mini-Muffins