Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wrensday: Bubba

Why is this goat behind bars? Because he eats everything in our yard. His name is Bubba.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Motivation: Organize my shoes

Now that the weather is cooler and we have to wear real shoes we have to deal with what to do with all of those shoes. Many homes have the simple rule of removing shoes when entering the house. It makes sense to leave the dirt and grime at the door. Floor care experts recommend this to cut down on wear and tear of the flooring. Health care experts recommend this to cut down on the germs and contaminants that travel in on the footwear.

If you're lucky, you have a mud room or foyer to keep your shoes in. If you're like most people, though, you have an entrance right into your home where the shoes pile up. As I've worked with different clients, I've had to create different types of organizing systems for shoes. Let me tell you about a few of them.

1. A small bench in the hall that stores shoes on a bottom shelf.

2. A basket next to the door where all of the shoes are stored.

3. A door mat or tray to hold wet shoes and boots.

4. An over-the-door pocket organizer holds children's shoes perfectly.

5. Shoe cubbies, like the picture above, hold several pairs of shoes.

6. A small chest of drawers can hold shoes as well as mittens, hats, etc. The top surface also acts as a place to hold keys and cell phones.

7. A small truck or toy box holds shoes and works as a place to sit and put shoes on.

8. A book shelf holds the shoes themselves or baskets to store the shoes in. It also holds backpacks, keys, baskets of mittens etc.

How do you organize the shoes in your home?

Friday, October 23, 2009

What's for dinner: Oregano Chicken

This is one of my husband's favorite entrees. We had it last night for dinner, but due to an unexpected illness (mine) there are no photos to share. Bummer!

Oregano Chicken

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup lemon juice
2 Tbl. worcestershire sauce
2 Tlb. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves

Combine the first 6 ingredients. Place chicken in an ungreased 11x17 inch baking dish. Pour helf of the butter mixture over chicken.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes and pour remaining butter mixture over chicken.
Bake additional 15 minutes.
Serve chicken with extra sauce over wild rice. Yum!!

**I've also made this as a skillet dish. Brown the chicken in EVOO and butter in a skillet. Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken. I cook it for @ 20 minutes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back Porch Floor Redo

A few weeks ago I showed you how I painted the pump house on our property. Well, what I didn't show you was that I was also painting the floor of my back porch. It has a poured concrete slab that was in pretty bad shape. It was very hard to clean and we were always tracking grit into the house. Here is a "before" picture of the slab.
Here is a before picture of the porch in it's naked form. Not very nice.

Here is the "after" picture of the slab. I had to give it two coats of paint because the concrete absorbed the first coat pretty quickly.

Here is the *final* picture. It's so much nicer to look at and easier to clean up.

** this might not really be the final picture because I'm not totally satisfied with the "plain" look of the paint. I might paint a border around the table area with a different colored paint. I always get these crazy ideas and it may or may not actually happen. I'll let you know when I do something.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wrensday: First Fire of the Season

It's been very chilly around these parts. Unusually cold for this time of the year. We had to break down and make a fire to keep warm. There's nothing like relaxing by the fire at night to do some reading (or blogging). Stay warm, everyone!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Little Corner: Part 2

Last week I showed you my desk area in our office/craft room. Well, here is a picture of the wall next to my desk. I've used an antique printer's job case (with the shiny gold paint stripped from it) to hold some of my rubber stamps. Many of my stamps are in sets from Stampin Up and I have them stored in baskets on my shelves (I'll show you in a future post). Almost all of these stamps on the wall are from the dollar bin at Michaels or Target. I guess you could say I have an addiction to them but I do use them all.

I like how each stamp is separated by a divider. As you can see, I have quite a variety of stamps.

If you do rubber stamping, how do you store your stamps? I'd love to know!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Motivation: Clean out the coat closet

I like the look of this functional coat closet from REAL SIMPLE. I think most of us struggle with keeping the coat closet tidy because during the cooler months that closet is in constant use. I think this week is a good time to purge the clutter and organize the useful.

1. Start with the top shelf. Take everything out and sort like items with like (hats with hats, gloves with gloves, etc.)

2. Go through each pile and remove items that are worn out, don't fit, or you don't like any more. Put any items that are still useful into a bag for the thrift store or homeless shelter.

3. Gather containers that you can use as a drawer/bin for each of the groups of items you have. I have one for gloves, one for hats and scarves, and one for tote bags.

4. Now, do steps 1 and 2 with the clothes that are hanging on the rod.

5. Place clothing back onto the rod according the person they belong to. For example, start with your smallest person. Hang up all of their coats on the left side of the bar. Then, go to the next tallest person. Hang up all of their coats to the right of the previous person's coats. Continue on to the tallest persons's coats. This will give you extra floor space to the left of your closet.

6. Next, gather everything from the floor of the closet and go through steps 1, 2, and 3. This would be a good time to vaccuum the floor and baseboards. Also, check for any mold that may have grown in the dark depths of the closet when you weren't looking (Ewwwww). Wipe it down with a bleach cleaner and let it dry thoroughly.

7. If you need to store shoes in the closet, place an extra door mat or a shoe tray on the floor to catch any dirt or rain/snow drips from the shoes.

8. If you're in the mood to make some improvements to the closet, you can add some hooks to the door or use an over-the-door hanger to hold an organizer. There are many to choose from. Here is one I like and here's another good idea.

I like the double rods in the picture above. It would work well if you only had shorter coats. Long coats would hand down over the bottom rod. I also like the rolling bin. It would be good for back packs and re-usable grocery bags.

When my children were little I used a series of tote bags for keeping everything organized and ready to go out the door. I had a different color bag for every activity we had (library, church, PTA, work, beach). When I came across something, like a library book needing to be returned, I simply placed it in the correct bag and it was ready to go.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Baby Quilt

This is a project I've been working on over the past few months. It is for my newest grandson who is due this week.

I added a little note at the bottom. Yes, I'm honey.

I hope he likes it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Corn Chowder

This is a yummy recipe I just tried for the first time. It was the perfect meal for a cool Fall day. I served it with rye bread and a salad.
Corn Chowder

1 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 cans (150z each) whole-kernel corn, drained
2 cans (14oz each) creamed corn
4 cups milk
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup whipping cream
3-4 dashes hot sauce
4 cups cubed potatoes
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a 6 to 8 quart dutch oven cook celery, onion and bacon over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
2. Add all cans of corn, milk, stock, cream and hot sauce.
3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat.
4. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes.
5. Add potatoes and return to a boil.
6. Reduce heat; simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
7. In a small bowl, mix flour and butter until smooth.
8. Add flour/butter mixture to the soup and stir until thickened, around 1 minute.
9. Stir in fresh parsley, salt, and pepper.

Notes: I added extra chopped ham I had in the freezer.
I used frozen corn instead of canned whole-kernel corn
This makes a lot of soup!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wrensday: The Chicken Coop

In a previous post I promised to show off my chicken coop. My husband and son designed and built it to house our chickens. They used a few recycled items like windows, wheels, and a fridge shelf. This is a view from the front. The top box is their roosting (sleeping) area and nesting area. Below that is a screened-in area that contains their food and water.

We let our chickens free-range during the day, but at night we keep them locked in their pen to protect them from predators. We learned about this the hard way when a fox got two of our hens early one morning.

Here is a view from the back. The top door is where we can access the nesting boxes to gather eggs. The panel under that can be removed to clean out the pen. After all, chickens do poop on everything! You can see the small door on the bottom right side that we remove every morning to allow the chickens to roam. Their food hangs under the nesting/roosting area to stay dry in case it rains. They really don't eat much of their food in the summer because they have so many bugs to eat in our yard.

You can see the recycled wheels (from an old garden cart) that enable us to move the pen around our yard. This ensures we don't have any bald spots in the yard.

Here is a close-up of their ramp up into their nesting/roosting area. It is a shelf that came out of our old fridge.

This is a view inside the nesting/roosting area. Notice the privacy curtain to the left. Our chickens are a little modest and like their privacy. Straight ahead is the recycled window. The bars that criss-cross the area are the roosting bars. One chicken likes the upper bar and one likes the lower bar.

Here are the two chickens we have right now. The one on the left is Suzy and the one on the right is Arica. Suzy is a Speckled Sussex and Arica is an Aricana. We get 1 to 2 fresh eggs every day. We're looking for a Golden Comet but they are hard to find in our area.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My little corner

When we moved into our home 4 years ago, we discovered we were a little squished. Our living area was much smaller than our previous house in the 'burbs. I've had to be a little creative when finding space for all of our things. One of my problem areas is our home office/craft room. It was a small bedroom for the previous homeowners but it really isn't much bigger than a large closet. It does have nice windows which allow in plenty of light during the day. My first task was to rip off the mirrored closet doors. The next task was to paint the ugly paneling. For 2 years the room sat unfinished. Finally, I started to add some finishing touches.

I added a small shelf I found many years ago. I think it is the interior of a roll-top desk. I painted it with the leftover wall paint which is an antique white in a satin finish. I added 3 clear plastic paint cans I found at Michael's. The paint cans hold antique thread spools that I inherited from my hubby's grandma. Some of the spools are from Germany and some are pure silk. Little treasures!

Next, I found a nice surprise at the Dollar Store. I found a sheet of these wall stickers. They stickers went up nicely, even on the paneled walls. They were easy to remove and re-stick to get them just right. I used my level from my tool kit to help keep the words even.

I'm still working on my little corner, but with each change or addition, I am feeling more at home with it.

I've joined up at The Shabby Nest for their Frugal Friday Linky Party and Jane at Finding Fabulous for her Frugalicious Friday. Check them out for some great ideas.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday Motivation: Clean/Replace your HVAC filter

OK, OK, I know. Boring stuff. But, important stuff.

This filter traps a alot of the junk that floats around in the air in your home. If it gets too dirty, it keeps the heating and air-conditioning system from running efficiently. It's really an easy job.

1. Find where your filter is. It is sometimes attached to the air handler itself but sometimes it is behind a vent cover in the wall. I have to unscrew two little screws on a vent panel to access mine.

2. If you have a disposable filter, you'll need to replace it with a new one. Don't reuse a disposable filter. If you have a reusable one, take it outside and spray it with the garden hose and let it dry. Then replace it in exactly the same position you found it in.

I check my filter every month. I have a reusable one and I vacuum it clean every month and wash it outside every 3-4 months. Sometimes I also spray it with a little Lysol to disinfect it before placing it back into it's spot.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quickie Paint Trick

When I was painting the pump house earlier this week I wanted to re-use the same paint tray for the floor paint that I had used for the wall paint.

Here's my solution. I simply slid the paint tray into a kitchen garbage bag. Then I poured the floor paint into the covered tray. Clean up is a snap because I just turn the bag inside out after I have emptied the extra paint back into the can. I have used grocery bags to do this but you have to be very careful about any printing on the bag. The ink can actually bleed into the paint, turning it into a different color! Believe me, it's not a pretty sight.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wrensday: Outdoor Fall Decorations

I love to walk around our Brown Wren Acres on a beautiful fall day and just look at everything (and also take a picture of it). This is the area inside the turn-around in our driveway. I can't grow anything under the tree because the roots are too fibrous. You can't even stick a trowel in the dirt! I always have the old wheel barrow there and I just swap out seasonal decorations. Sorry that my corn stalks are crooked. We've had some strong wind gusts lately.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pump House Paint Job

Today I'm tackling a project for my husband. You see, we have a pump house set back from our house that contains our well pump and a water softener. My Dear Hubby (DH) has to check on the status of those two items every week to make sure our supply of water is clean and plentiful. (Thanks DH) I've always hated to go into the pump house because it is a: dirty, b: stinky, c: damp, and d: filled with spiders and creepy crawlers. I bet if a movie producer was looking for a place to film a new scary movie, they could have picked our pump house.

Last weekend, DH primed the drywall in the pump house. It had never been painted and a bit of mold had started to grow. After almost 3 hours, he emerged from the place, covered in primer and totally frustrated. He's never been much of a painter and really doesn't like to do it.

I went in today (cautiously watching for spiders and creepy crawlers) and painted the walls with some left over paint. In case you're wondering it's called Orchard by Ralph Lauren. I had purchased it 4 years ago, thinking it was more of a sage green and less of a mint green. I was happy to use it up today.

After I painted the walls, I got some concrete paint (see note below) and painted the yucky floor. Now it doesn't seem so a: dirty, b: stinky, c: damp, and d: full of spiders and creepy crawlers. I can't wait for him to get home from work to see it. I don't think I'll tell him it only took me 1 1/2 hours to paint the entire pump house and floor. Let it be our little secret!

You might remember that we recently painted our garage concrete floor. Well, this time intead of using the Behr brand paint, I used the Quickrete brand concrete paint. I found it at Lowe's and I'm not sure I like it. The Behr went on thicker. I think I might have to put a second coat on this paint. Oh, well, Live and Learn!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Motivation: Get a mammogram

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am encouraging my readers to make an appointment today for a mammogram or breast exam. As busy wives and mothers we often let our own health take a back seat. We owe it to our families to be in the best health we can be. We should all be doing a monthly self breast exam. Many women have found cancer themselves before they've been to the doctor because they check their breasts every month. Early detection means a quicker treatment.

So, if you haven't had an exam or mammogram this year please make an appointment today.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Coffee table: before and after

I had been looking for a new coffee table for our family room. The one from our old home was just too big for our new space. I couldn't find one that I a: liked enough to buy or b: could afford. So I did what I usually do when I'm in that situation. I search the thrift stores and consignment shops.
Here is my table as it looks now. A nice deep brown and sturdy enough for me to stand on and dust my ceiling fan blades.

This is what it looked like when I brought it home from the Salvation Army. I sanded it down and filled in the pain-in-the-neck grooves on the top with some wood filler. Then I sanded it again. I wiped it all down with a damp cloth and gave it a few coats of gel stain and a few coats of poly.

Now I must tell you, this finish has held up well. We really use(abuse) our coffee table. We put our feet up on it, we use it as a laptop holder, and we play board games on it. We don't baby it at all and it looks pleasantly rustic and informal.
I've linked up with Jane at Finding Fabulous to show off our projects. Check out her blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Cleaning Day to me!

I know that I might be the only person on the planet who gets excited about cleaning supplies. But in case there is one more person out there who likes to clean, I've got happy cleaning news for you. My friend and I have been experimenting with how to clean hard surface floors economically but still get a really clean floor. There are a lot of comercial products out there but they are expensive and sometimes the cleaners are too strong smelling. I've been using vinegar and water to mop my floors but I had been using either a sponge mop or down on my hands and knees with a rag until now.

Here's what I'm doing now. I grabbed my swiffer mop (from my wasteful years) and attached an old dish rag to it, using the little grabber thingys to hold it in place. Here it is dry, but I usually use it wet. You can use a regular disinfectant cleaner if you have a really grubby floor to clean, but for most of my cleaning I use the sparkle cleaner. I either spray the floor with it and mop, or I make up a bucket of the concoction and dip my rag in it. The mop head is great for getting under furniture and up against baseboards without getting your walls wet.

I first started using vinegar to clean my floors when I got a new Pergo floor about 15 years ago. It was a new product on the market and the Pergo company was selling their special Pergo cleaner. Well, I read the back of the bottle and concluded it was nothing more than water, vinegar, and perfume. I put the bottle back and got out my gallon jug of white vinegar when I got home.

When I'm finished mopping, I simply wash my rag in the washing machine. No more stinky, mildewy mop in the corner of the laundry room.

the next bit of happy cleaning news is my new dusting rag. I live in a very dusty, rural house. I've been dusting with a damp cloth to collect all of the dust, but it never seemed to do a great job. Then, one day when I was standing in a LONG line in Walmart, I saw a package of two mini ShamWow rags. Having seen the comercials (with Vince) on T.V. I thought I would give them a try. P.S. I know that I fell for the perfect marketing scheme-"if you place it up front, they will buy it"

I washed both rags in the washing machine before using them. I took one of the cloths, sprayed it with my Sparkle cleaner and was quite amazed with the success I had. I dusted my whole house with one rag and it never left a dust trail behind. Happy, happy me!