Month: March 2014

Bee Chalkboard

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Admittedly, this chalkboard design is not my favorite – I usually prefer a lot of text, but wanted to try something new.  I was going to do something for my birthday, but that just seems weird so I chose to celebrate getting our hives in April!  I pinned some inspiration here and got to work.  The flowers are supposed to be tulip poplar flowers – likely the trees our bees will visit the most.

I probably will erase this one in the next few days unless I add to it or it realllyyyy grows on me.  It just isn’t my best work.  BUT I am showing it to you because I made a fun time lapse video of taking down the hot air balloon and putting up the bee.  Check it out below!

 

Bee Chalkboard from Rachel on Vimeo.

#WifeTestedHusbandApproved: One Pan Chicken Alfredo

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I hate when you pin something only to find out that it’s a fake (or it links to porn. Awkwardddd). But this one pan chicken Alfredo really worked!

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The link led to No. 2 Pencil

I did make a few changes and plan to work to make this a much healthier dinner option – especially because the Hubs said he wouldn’t mind if we ate this twice a week. (Probably not only because it’s AMAZING but because it really does only take one large pan and cover. And he’s in charge of dishes .)

When your chicken is mostly done, add some chopped green onions just after you add the garlic.

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I kept the volume of liquid the same but added a little but more (homemade! So fancy!) chicken broth instead of cream. I should’ve/could’ve used half and half and maybe a little pat of butter if needed. Use what you’ve got.



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Bring the pot to a boil and the simmer, covered for about 12 minutes and then check the pasta’s firmness every few minutes. Mine took about 18 minutes before the pasta was 95% done and there was significantly less liquid. Add the Parmesan and don’t be afraid to add half and then work yourself up to a cheesiness/consistency you like. Also mix REALLY well and sprinkle lightly to avoid blobs of parm.

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Boom. You’re done in less than 30 minutes and it looks like you slaved over a homemade sauce. Other changes I’d like to try are using a dairy substitute, trading salmon for the chicken, and adding a green like baby kale, spinach, or wilted arugula.

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This week’s meals.

I have a super hard time meal planning in a way that makes any sense. As new home owners we’re trying to stick to budget and the best way for us to save a little extra money is by eating at home. The hardest part is figuring out how to buy on sale and affordable and then also use that to make healthy meals that taste good. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

When we lived closer to the city we saved $$$$ by shopping at Safeway, Costco, and Trader Joes (cookie butter anyone?). Here, I have Shoppers, Giant, and Food Lion. Every trip is preceded by some one saying “SIGHHHH I miss Publix.” But, we soldier on. In my experience Food Lion has been least expensive but they often don’t have the best variety. And their app is basically useless. Shoppers just isn’t my favorite – unless we’re picking up their knockoff cronies. Giant is just meh. They are all equal distance so we usually head to Food Lion unless there’s an amazing sale some where else.

Anyways… We are challenging ourselves to eat at home and bring our lunches to work. Lately our lunches have been: baby kale salad (plus a protein for hubs), Greek yogurt, piece of fruit, veggies with hummus. Summer is just around the corner and I don’t want to be totally embarrassed. Plus I might have brainwashed myself into thinking this makes me feel better.

Dinner this week:
Tuesday: sweet potato and cauliflower sausage soup. I add ginger, homemade bone broth, and sautéed onion.
Wednesday: happy hour with Hub’s friends. I’ll try to order something with the word salad in it.
Thursday: pesto with chicken and asparagus. Hubs doesn’t eat asparagus so he’ll get green beans or brussel spouts.
Friday: lazy ground turkey pot pie. Aka browned ground turkey + homemade cream of chicken + frozen veggies and whatever’s in the bottom of the veggie drawer + easy biscuit topping. This is Hub’s favorite meal I make… Definitely top three at the very least. It sounds and looks difficult to make and tastes amazing. And takes 15 minutes to throw in the oven. WINNING.

I’m not sure how to keep mixing it up. I tried to make stir fry once. We threw it out.

We have occasionally taken advantage of groupons to have those “ingredients in box” subscriptions sent to the house. (And then quickly canceled them. I don’t know who can afford them once the coupon runs out.) I was hoping that I’d learn a few things, but unfortunately I rarely liked the meal enough to add it to our rotation. The meals I did LOVE unfortunately included ingredients that are hard to get i.e. Ahi tuna, Indian spices, and cool Korean sauces.

So that’s it. A nice ramble-y post about food.

How to: Chalkboard Wall

Chalkboard walls are prettyyyyy easy. It goes in like regular paint, there’s fancy ones you can tint any color, and you don’t need special brushes.

Tips for painting:
– don’t think you can just spray paint the wall because the spray paint is way cheaper and you don’t want to buy brushes. Unless the area you’re painting is very small, in which case cover up anything around it and pray pray pray.
– If you have crappy, builder grade paint check the wall for spots that aren’t smooth. I’ve found that a couple of passes of fine grit sand paper will fix that right up. Any uneven areas will be fairly noticeable and trap a ton of chalk.
– smooth, thin coats are best. Take your time and make sure you get good coverage.
– read the directions in your paint can. Every one is different and you may need to be prepared to wait a few days between coats or before use. I generally cut all those suggested times in half because I’m impatient and I’m sure they’re just trying to CYA. I hate letting things “cure.”

Where to add a chalkboard? Anywhere. They’re pretty awesome and are really fun during parties and great for easy decor updates. Here are some great examples and inspiration:

I painted the entire wall around my fireplace. (After checking that the heat from the fireplace wouldn’t cause discoloration or melting.) It’s a small wall (maybe 13’x10′? I don’t know) and the room gets a TON of light because and entire while is a sliding glass door (leading to a future deck.)

Our fireplace didn’t come with a mantel. New houses come with NOTHING. Which is another story for another day. I looked into purchasing one, scoured Craigslist and the nearby ReStores, but I was not willing to spend at minimum $200 for a mantel. The ones I actually liked would run closer to $400. Then I got to thinking about the fact that I don’t even have mantel stuff. No cute books, candlesticks, or vases. No seasonally appropriate framed postcards. All of that would cost $$$$ to. So I headed out to Lowes with a $50 house-warming gift card and spent about $75 total getting supplies.

I got home, started painting wayyyy too late, and totally panicked about half way through. BECAUSE THE WALL IS BLACK. It was so terrifying. But thankfully finishing was easier than the taking everything back to ugly builder “white” so I kept going. And BOOM. I love it. I use chalk from Ikea (kid section) and update the wall every few weeks. I pull inspiration from Pinterest – check out my Chalkboard Wall Board if you’re feeling a little stuck! Pick a theme and run with it. Oh and be sure to enjoy that crisp, dark black color. It will NEVER look that good again so be emotionally prepared for it. Don’t forget to prime the entire wall with chalk – get big pieces of sidewalk chalk and cover the wall before cleaning it all off. If you don’t do this, you’ll always be able to see the first thing you draw. And the first thing I drew was pretty sucky. Consider yourself warned.

My tools for updating the wall include the chalk (obviously), a square, a level, and two yard sticks – one metal and one wood. I’ve been using the wooden one more because I’m nervous about scratching the wall with the metal one. Generally I put a big axis in the center of my design to help keep things even and level. I do a lot of erasing and redrawing. It’s chalk and easily fixable so I don’t feel paralyzed by the anxiety of a potential mistake like when painting. To erase things I use a rag, an old dry erase marker with an eraser in the end, and Coke. Yup. Leftover, flat coke. It’s the only thing that will get the wall 90% clean. I clean the wall entirely between designs and use the pen’s eraser for small errors and cleaning up any guide lines (like the axis.)

Here are some instas of older wall designs:

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Easy headboard DIY

This was a $10 and two hour project. There are a MILLION tutorials for this so going to give you the barebones and trust y’all can google a few more examples. Mine is a little trickier because our bed is front of windows so the headboard cannot be mounted on the wall – we’ll get to that later.

Step one: gather your supplies.
– fabric (already had. Don’t forgot to use a coupon if you head to Joann Fabric!)
– batting or foam (less than $8 from Michaels with a coupon)
– solid back (I used an old door. Reuse. Renew. Recycle. Boom.)
– staples
– scissors
– staple gun
– screws
– charged (very important) drill

Step two: run to your parents house and borrow their staple gun because you’ve lost yours. (Optional.)

Step three: cut out your batting so it’s large enough the wrap around the edges of the door. (Obviously a piece of plywood or something along those lines would be fine.) I didn’t this by laying my door on the batting and cutting around it. Measuring is not my strong suit. You can also hot glue or use spray adhesive to adhere foam beneath the batting or in place of it.

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Step four: as you can see above I stapled that stuff right on. Sort of wrapping the edges like you were making the bed or wrapping a present.

Step five: repeat steps three and four with the fabric making sure that the pattern lines up as needed. If your fabric is striped you need to be extra careful, especially when pulling the fabric tightly as you staple it.

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Step six: remove sticker from fabric and high five yourself for scoring such a great deal (also optional.)

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You’re done! Now just screw some legs on it (2×4 boards would work great) and attach them to the wall or bed. If you have a cheap, all metal frame like me you may realize this too late and have to rig the headboard to the end of the bed.

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Sorry the photo sucks but basically what I did was sandwich the legs between the slats and metal frame and then use some leftover boards to anchor the legs of headboard to the legs of the bed. It seems to work so far.

Here it is in full filtered glory:

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You can follow me at @gator_rach on Instagram for more house and Hank updates. Less than a month until the bees come home!

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Yup. Full Hank approval.

Front door facelift

Our front door has a HUGE window.  It’s great for letting in the light, but that’s about it.  My primary concern was that I want to be able to see who’s at our front door, but at least obscure the view of me running to the laundry room in my jammies.  Our townhouse is right next to the model which creates an unusual amount of foot traffic by our front door.  A little bit of extra privacy would be a welcome thing.

When we purchased blinds for the townhouse we talked about adding something matching and blind-ish to the front door before ultimately deciding that wasn’t a look we loved.   We creeped on our neighbors to check out their solutions: most went with blinds, curtains, or nothing at all.  So I searched Pinterest, flipped through blogs, and checked out front doors on walks with Hank.  I finally found this post from A Beautiful Mess.  Their pretty yellow front door also suffered from a large glass pane.  (see what I did there?)  Their stripes aren’t my style so I decided to go for an equally bold pattern: chevron.  I know it’s trendy, but I love it.  And, at least according to the interwebz, it’s removable with paint thinner.

Step One: Clean and prep your supplies.  Hank kicks/paws the front door when we leave and then gives us puppy eyes until the car out of sight.  The entire thing is covered in nose and paw prints.  I pulled together some 1.5″ frog tape, one of those circular fabric cutters, a ruler, a pen, and my paint.  I used this Valspar Glass Frosting spray paint. I got it at Lowes for maybeeee $5.  I got the fancy spray paint top (not just the little push-down one) because A) my hand gets tired and B) I wanted to make sure the spray was as even as possible.

Valspar Paint

Click for source

Step Two: Decide on your design.  I made about 9842 (math) mistakes when doing this.  I finally figured out what I wanted it to look like so I taped off the edges to create a border.  I read a few tutorials but couldn’t find anything that really helped.  Here’s what I did.  I measured half of the width of the remaining space.  It was 18″ wide so I marked every 4.5″ along the bottom and then every 4.5″ up the length.  The added benefit of the border was that it gave me some where to make the marks.  I started in the corners and taped diagonally across the glass – connecting the first tic mark on left vertical to the tic mark farthest to the left.  I kept the “top” edge of the tape beneath the tic marks.  I regret (not really) having an square but the end result is fine.  Just keep the tape tight and make sure the squares created by the checkerboard of tape look even.    It should look like this:

Half way there!

Half way there!

Boom. Done. With tape at least.

Boom. Done. With tape at least.

Step Three: Use the fabric cutter to remove tape pieces and create stripes.  I only needed one band aid after this so that’s a win.  (Note: I don’t know what your glass is like.  Mine didn’t have any cover/sealant that I could cut with the roller.  I only pressed hard enough to cut through the tape.)

Almost there.

Almost there.

Step Four: Spray as many coats as needed to cover the window.  Mine took three – I left adequate amount of time for the layers to dry, followed the directions on the back of the can, etc…  I did them about an hour or so apart and made sure to cover up the door while I sprayed.  I should NOT have done this on a day when it was rainy.  The fumes were awful – I stood there and swung the door back and forth until the smell was less deadly.  Invest in a mask if possible.   When it’s dry (or your patience to see what it looks like runs out) pull off the tape.

I love taking the tape off after a project is over.  LOVE. IT.

I love taking the tape off after a project is over. LOVE. IT.

Step Five:  You’re done. Enjoy the door.  If there is any “build up” or thicker lines near where the tape was, you can very very very very carefully buffer it even.  Also, there was a little bleeding at one of my borders, but a straight edge took it off.  Again, I was very very very careful.

Front Door Glass

Done! #putawreathonit

Close up

Close up

It’s subtle, I like it, and it’s done…. for less than $10.  Plus it makes our builder grade, cookie cutter house look just a little more unique.

Gratuitous Instagram photo!

Gratuitous Instagram photo! Follow me @Gator_Rach