Archive | August, 2012

DIY – Front Entrance Table

30 Aug

As you may have noticed from some of the pictures – I like my house to be as organized and uncluttered as possible.  Since we did not have a table at the front entrance, hubby had a habit of dumping his pockets (wallet, iPhone, keys, work badge, etc) on the kitchen island as he walked in.  After a few months of this I knew I needed to get a table for the front entrance that could house a little plate for him to put all this belongings on when he walked in the door.
My search began at Winners – I found some *beautiful* tables that would have been perfect however the price was ridiculous ($100-$200).  I checked out Ikea and same deal.  I thought – who is going to pay that much money for a little table that’s not even made from real wood?!  After checking out some blogs and cruising through Pinterest – Sidebar BTW is anyone else addicted to Pinterest?!  I totally wish I could get paid for pinning!  🙂  I thought about popping into my local thrift store to see if there were any tables that I could pick up and revamp!  I pulled up to the curb of my local thrift store and sitting right in front of the store was my perfect table.

Oh the possibilities!

Now I know it might not look like much right now but I could see how beautiful I could make this!  I ran inside half dragging the table (because I didn’t want anyone else to take it – like it was the latest Michael Kors watch or something :)) and asked the cashier how much they were asking for it.  I was slowly calculating in my head what I would pay for it factoring in that it was second hand, but it was also wood.  I was bouncing somewhere between $20-$40 in my head when she spoke the magical words “does $7.99 work?”.  I almost jumped for joy and hugged the woman and hurried to get my cash out – “oh that’s tax included” she continues.  Can I just go ahead and tell you how amazing you are now?!  Thank you local thrift store worker!  So I dragged the table out to my car and called my husband and ecstatically told him about my find – surprisingly he wasn’t near as excited as I was 🙂 but I knew I’d change his mind!
I got home and started right away.  I sanded that baby down, put a coat of primer on and a coat of black.  While I was literally waiting for paint to dry, I went over to Home Depot and picked up a beautiful fake diamond knob (I think it was $4?).  Isn’t it beautiful!?

Love ❤

I was able to get away with one coat of paint – truthfully I probably could have done another coat but I was too excited to get the table in place.  I’ll take another pic with it in place once we have finished the work on the front entryway but here it is – isn’t it beautiful!?  Not bad for $12 eh?

Hello beautiful!

The first frozen food review!

29 Aug

As promised, here is the first review from our frozen dinner extravaganza!  We forgot to take something out of the freezer this morning to thaw (oops!) but luckily the baked cheesy chicken penne doesn’t require thawing before cooking!  Hubby has baseball tonight so we couldn’t really wait 4 hours for a slow cooker meal either 🙂

I made a couple of tweaks to the recipe.  I have a confession to make – I am a recovering picky eater.  You will notice that in some of the recipes I switch out ingredients because I’m still learning to love some of them!  Mushrooms and dried tomatoes are still on my learn to love list so I subbed those out for red peppers (NomNomNom!). Other than that I followed the recipe to the T – except I froze both portions instead of eating one and freezing one.

This is going to be interesting…

I pulled the Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne out of the freezer and realized I made my first big mistake…  It’s really hard to fit a large Ziploc freezer bag pull of food into a baking dish when it’s frozen solid.   Yikes – I let it sit out for a couple minutes and then I hit it against the countertop a couple times and got it all into the baking dish.  Next time I will put the food in the Ziploc bag and into the baking dish, freeze it and remove the baking dish from the freezer – perfect fit!  Mistake #2 – make sure you butter the pan before you put the food in the baking dish – it will stick 🙂  You know, for our first big go at this I think only two mistakes is pretty good!!  And hey, it’s helping everyone else avoid making them!

Tada!

Now for the flavour, next time I think I’ll experiment with not cooking the chicken and pasta until actually baking it.  Even though we only cooked the pasta to al dente it was still a little mushier than I would have liked.  The chicken was a bit dry as well – which I’m sure cooking it previously and then freezing and baking it for an hour and a half will do that to chicken!   I am a HUGE garlic fiend so I would have added a bit more garlic and a touch of pepper.

Overall the taste was pretty good and hubby was impressed!  We give this dish 3 1/2 stars out of 5!  With those tweaks I’m sure we can make it a 5 next time!

Topped with some cheddar cheese & parmesan… nomnomnom!

Frozen dinner extravaganza!

28 Aug

When hubby & I spent a Sunday afternoon preparing dinners for friends who just had a baby, he wondered why we didn’t do the same thing for ourselves.  We both work full time and often late nights and then get home and try to scramble to pull something together to eat which means either: something fast and unhealthy or something fast, healthy but expensive.  As you might have noticed in my previous blog posts, we like to save money wherever we can.

Last Sunday, I spent a couple hours surfing the internet for other wonderful blogs that featured recipes that were delightful as frozen dinners.  Once I finished that I grabbed the stack of weekly flyers and started putting together my shopping list and price matching items (which is something I’m learning to love doing – it takes a little bit of time but it saves money!).  I headed to my local grocery store and started buying items off my very large grocery list.  I had planned to make 12 frozen dinners (and get subsequent lunches out of those as well) and a breakfast bake that would provide 5 breakfasts for hubby & I.

I tried to pick recipes that I would be able to utilize items I already had (EVOO, spices, sauces, etc) so all I needed to pick up was lots of veggies, meats and starches.  I found that most of the recipes didn’t have near enough vegetables – although we’re trying to be more economical we also want to be healthier so I found myself throwing in random handfuls of veggies where ever I could!   Below is our journey to our frozen meals – as we unfreeze and eat them I’ll blog to let you know what we think!
Before – check out the spread!  This is almost everything and it’s a little intimidating to look at it all on the counter but we jumped right in!

The spread!

Before I share where I got the recipes from I wanted to provide a few tips that helped us along the way!

  • Make sure you label your freezer bags with a Sharpie before you put the food in them!
  • Do as much prep work as you can first – cut all the veggies, cook the meat that needs to be precooked (trust me this will make the process move much smoother!)
  • After you have put the food into the freezer bags, stick a straw in the corner and close the rest of the bag.  Suck all of the air out with the straw and seal.  Just like vacuum seal!

Here’s what we made!

Baked Cheesy Chicken Penne (this made 2)

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells

Chicken Fajitas

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells

Salsa Chicken

Classic Stuffed Peppers

Fall Chili (this made 2)

Beef Stew

Rosemary Pot Roast

Baked Oatmeal Casserole
Here’s our freezer once we’d added all the meals – all together it took us four hours to prep, cook and put together all of these meals.  What else is awesome is that because each portion will be at minimum dinner and lunch the following day it means that each meal will be approximately $3/meal.  Amazing!!  This might seem like a lot but hey, who doesn’t have to cook for almost two weeks?!  This girl!

Annnnnnnd done!

Next reveal… the bathroom!!

27 Aug

I go back and forth for which is my favourite update – the kitchen or the bathroom.  They are two rooms that I am completely in love with ❤

If you remember the “before” post of the bathroom, this room needed a bit of love. While the bathroom wasn’t big enough for the jacuzzi whirlpool tub I had drooled over (hello unfinished bungalow basement!) I was very excited about the possibility of the double sink vanity.  Here’s a quick rundown of what we updated.

  • You will often hear when people begin renos that they uncover some surprises.  This was no different.  While taking out the subway tile (yes, in my original post we had talked about keeping it but it ended up being torn out because of the tub) we uncovered a small bomb shelter.  From ceiling to floor all the way around the bathroom was a minimum of 2″ of concrete… I think hubby’s friends are still cursing him for having to remove this!
  • Once the walls and concrete was removed, we added insulation (there was none in there previously!) all the way around.
  • The bathroom light switch was located directly beside the shower which made me more than a little nervous so I was hoping to move it but due to where the beams were in the wall we were left with either leaving it there or moving it to the outside of the bathroom…. so it’s on the outside.
  • The vanity – *long sigh here*.  The house was built in the late 1950’s so the dimensions for the vanity back then was much different than standards today.  We were able to have a vanity that was max 69″ long and max 19″ wide.  The length wasn’t our problem, it was the width.  Standard today for vanities is 21-22″.  We spoke with more companies than I care to remember, drove all over the place checking out different stores and were finally left with the option from of “why don’t you saw the back of the vanity off”?  Needless to say we were almost ready to give up.  I finally found a company from BC that had gorgeous vanities that were actually 19″ wide!!  I thought it was too good to be true, but then also thought about the million dollars it was going to cost to ship it from BC to ON.  Luckily, the vanity ended up being delayed by a few weeks (why is this lucky you’re asking?) so they ended up refunding our shipping costs – yay!!
  • Hubby & his brother tiled in the tub enclosure and tiled the bathroom floor (it looks beautiful!!).
  • Oh and not to be forgotten, we were walking around Home Depot one day and found an awesome deep soaker tub sitting on the floor with a ridiculously cheap clearance price on it.  We ran to find an associate and they informed us that someone had returned that tub to them and they didn’t carry the tub at that store so they needed to get rid of it – SCORE!!

Our bathroom before….

Our bathroom after!

Shower before…

Still a few tweaks needed (caulking around the tub, cover for the curtain rod, recessing the shower head in the wall) but already much, much better than before!

Drumroll please….

25 Aug

I’m so excited!  The first reveal!!

Before I can go any further I need to give HUGE thank you to our friends and family who have spent their time helping us make the mess and clean it up to make it beautiful ❤  We couldn’t have done it without the support and love from you guys – you rock!!  Other than hubby’s uncle, none of us do this for a living.  There were many projects that didn’t start until many, many YouTube tutorials were watched, blogs were read and questions were asked with Home Depot, Lowes and Rona associates.   We weren’t without our mistakes too, you learn from them and move on!

We’ll start with the living room and the dining room.  I’ll run through a quick laundry list of what we’ve done…

  • You will notice that our lovely fake random brick wall in the living room is gone.  This was in place because at some point there must have been a wood burning stove there but it was long gone by the time we got the house.  The walls were plaster so this was tricky – once we removed the wall we needed to drywall it and make it as seamless as possible.  Luckily, hubby’s uncle is a drywaller and was able to come down and help us in the mess of it all!
  • The floors have been refinished and stained with an ebony colour stain (they are BEAUTIFUL – but boy are they hard to keep clean!).  Refinishing the floors was a chore… We rented a large and small sander from Home Depot and spent a weekend sanding all the floors down.  It is finicky, you can’t stay in one spot too long and you’ve got a big divot in the floor.  If you’re gearing up to do this yourself – it’s not terrible, it just takes time and patience.  The stain & sealer were another story.  Hubby & I were working full time and the coats needed to be put on every few hours, this made putting multiple coats on the floor tricky.  Hubby’s brother was able to come by and put on the stain and top coats for us during the day so unfortunately he took the brunt of the work there.  He said that he could taste and smell the stain/sealer for days, the smell is super powerful and seeps in everywhere!  Note to anyone attempting to do this – make sure you do it at some point in the year that you’re able to have all the windows open for days at a time!
  • The walls have been painted – I believe the colour is called Battleship Grey by Behr.  I LOVE this colour and carried it through the living room, dining room and hallway.
  • We replaced all the moldings through the rooms in the house.

Living room before….

Living room after!

Dining room before…

Dining room after!

 

 

 

 

Back to the before tour – last one before the reveals!

23 Aug

Eeeeee!!  I’m super excited – not for these bedrooms because they’re, well, interesting to say the least but we’re only one post away from starting the reveals!

The bedrooms – where to begin?

We’ll start with what we call bedroom #3 or the blue room.

Welcome! This room was certainly something else. From the crazy blue colour to the stick tile floor it certainly needed some work. Hubby and I were a little disappointed when we saw the floor in here – the rest of the house was hardwood (in really rough shape but that could be fixed) but this room was stick tiled. Who knew what we would find underneath!

Oh how could I forget to mention the clouds?! They were a fan favourite 🙂

And one last view – decent sized closet but no door! Good news though – hardwood floors peeking out of the closets 🙂

Welcome now to room #2 or as it was affectionately called the pink room. Our family joked that we should leave the paint colours for these two rooms and when we started a family whether we had a girl or boy we would have the perfect room ready! This picture helps demonstrate what rough shape the floors were in – they definitely needed some TLC!

Here’s a quick snapshot of the pink room’s closet – it’s a decent size as well but that door was going to have to go!

Yes, this is how we bought the house – pre renos! This ladies and gentlemen is our master bedroom! It looked like the previous owner had tried to take the wall out to accommodate a larger closet – you can tell by looking at the floor on the closet it must have been two small doors leading into this huge space inside. We had to give thanks – they’d already done some of the work for us 🙂 All that was left was to take the rest of the drywall down, frame it up to fit our new closet doors and it would be done! This room was the same story as the previous, you can see the floor was pretty tough & the old style door!

This is a pic of the window in the master bedroom – nice and big! Finding curtains might be a challenge – grrr custom sizes!

Before I go I thought I’d share this funny picture with you. This was taken in the doorway of one of the bedrooms. It looked like the previous owner had tried to refinish the hardwoods in the living room/dining room and hallways and had simply closed the doors in each room so you couldn’t tell they didn’t match! The strange things people do….

Busy busy!

23 Aug

I have been neglecting my blog – apologies!  Can anyone else believe summer is almost over?!  I’ve been crazy busy – just returned to work after being off for a couple months, wedding season, birthdays, and my best friend had a baby!!

What do you do when someone close to you has a babe?  Well, for hubby & I – we cook!  We haven’t been blessed with a little one yet but I’ve been around enough little ones to know that feeding yourself is probably the last thing on your mind.  To make sure mommy & daddy stay healthy for little one, hubby and I got busy one Sunday afternoon making lovely slow cooker meals!

A quick google search will provide you with a multitude of frozen slow cooker recipes – these are my favourite type to give to new mom’s & dad’s because for the most part all they have to do is throw it in a pot and let it cook.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Here’s what we did – oh!  And you’ll get a sneak peek of our kitchen shhhh! 🙂

First things first – after you’ve chosen your recipes the most important thing is the fresh wonderful veggies and meats! Here’s our spread before. We made chili, minestrone soup, chicken noodle soup, vegetable beef soup and beef stew. Now to get going!

A VERY important step – make sure you write on your bags before filling them. I wrote what it was, the date we made it and instructions for how to cook. I used the large sized Ziploc freezer bags. After spending a couple hours chopping veggies, cooking meats and mixing everything together we were finally ready to package them and put them in the freezer.

And DONE! Once I had placed the food in the appropriate bags I squished them flat so they would lie in the freezer easily and not take up too much room. We popped over last night to see the new babe (he’s SO adorable!) and his mom and brought over these along with dinner for that evening. It was such a good visit and I hope this food will help make their next few days a little easier so they don’t have to worry about eating – or eating healthy! Congrats M&T, sending so much love to you from the hubby & me ❤