Friday, July 29, 2011

Touches of Summer

I love to rearrange things. 

I really like to rearrange furniture, but in our current home, it is not feasible.

Since I can't rearrange furniture, I rearrange stuff.

People ask me how I find the time.  Well, I rearrange whenever I dust.  Since I have to pick up an item to dust under it, I move it. 

Rearranging makes old stuff look like new stuff. No need to spend money on new stuff when rearranging old stuff makes it look like new stuff.  Follow?

Here's my latest rearranging for a breezy summer look. . .


Shells and a starfish in a cloche on a pedestal.


A simple dining table centerpiece made with a tray, a vase, a mini urn with a bird's nest, and a gifted box.


Dear friends gave us this sweet phrase for our anniversary. 


I used aqua, brown, cream and white items from around the house.


I just realized that all of the items I've just shown you have come from the thrift store or a yard sale except for the glass cloche (Willow House), the large square plate (Target, last year), and the phrase and box which were gifts. 

Today is the last day to enter the 500th post give-away:
Here are the rules:


1. The give-away starts on July 25, 2011 and ends on July 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm EST.

2. The winner of the give-away contest gets to choose one item from my Etsy Shop - Tidy Brown Wren

3. All entrant's names will be added to a hat and the winner will be randomly chosen by Hubs (aka Sargent Safety)

4. To enter the give-away, leave a separate comment for each of the following:

a. You are a follower of Tidy Brown Wren

b. You like Tidy Brown Wren on Facebook

c. Tell me which topics you like most of TBW

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Better Than Cupcakes


Tomatoes ( and a bowl of garlic) gather on a cupcake stand.
  What could be a better Summer decoration!?

Do you think the tomatoes on the window sill are jealous?

Don't forget to enter the 500th post give-away:

 Here are the rules:

1. The give-away starts on July 25, 2011 and ends on July 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm EST.

2. The winner of the give-away contest gets to choose one item from my Etsy Shop - Tidy Brown Wren

3. All entrant's names will be added to a hat and the winner will be randomly chosen by Hubs (aka Sargent Safety)

4. To enter the give-away, leave a separate comment for each of the following:

a. You are a follower of Tidy Brown Wren

b. You like Tidy Brown Wren on Facebook

c. Tell me which topics you like most of TBW

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why I Haven't Been Following A Menu Plan



Are you shocked by the title?  Me, the lover of lists and schedules, not following a menu plan?  If you've noticed, I haven't posted a two-week dinner menu for awhile now.  Why?  Well, I'm trying something new.

Our family's life has changed quite a bit lately.  Our budget has changed because I'm not back to work yet.  I'm trying to use coupons and sales to save money.  We are now empty nesters (our youngest just left for Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island, SC).  Our garden is producing lots of veggies.  I'm trying to lose weight (anti-rejection drugs cause weight gain).  Lot's of changes.

My old method of making a two week menu, and shopping once a week just wasn't working anymore. We were wasting food and money. 

 As they say, "If the horse is dead - dismount". 

My new method is not really a new method at all.  Amy Dacyczn wrote about it in her book "The Complete Tightwad Gazette".  I think she calls it the pantry method.  Basically, you purchase items only when they are at their lowest price and you purchase as much as you'll use in a 6-8 week period. Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks.   Using coupons in conjunction with sales is a way to get the lowest price. 

As you plan your meals, you "shop" from your pantry because you have well stocked shelves.  There are several benefits to shopping this way:
1.  You never pay full price for groceries
2.  By having short term menu plans, you can take advantage of leftovers and surplus garden produce when you have it.
3.  Your stocked pantry helps out when there is bad weather or an illness that prevents you from grocery shopping.
4.  Your grocery bill will plummet.
5.  You rarely have to make a last minute trip to the store.
         
I am planning my meals, but only a few days at a time.  If I roast a chicken, I use it twice that week (sometimes more).  I add it to salad, stir fry, pasta dishes etc.  Whatever veggies we have from the garden are  added.

What type of menu planning do you use?  Do you fly by the seat of your pants, pre-plan all of your menus, or do something in between? 


Don't forget the 500th post give-away:
 Here are the rules:

1. The give-away starts on July 25, 2011 and ends on July 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm EST.

2. The winner of the give-away contest gets to choose one item from my Etsy Shop - Tidy Brown Wren

3. All entrant's names will be added to a hat and the winner will be randomly chosen by Hubs (aka Sargent Safety)

4. To enter the give-away, leave a separate comment for each of the following:

          a. You are a follower of Tidy Brown Wren

          b. You like Tidy Brown Wren on Facebook

          c. Tell me which topics you like most of TBW

 
 
*The link to "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" is an affiliate link.  Just a fun tip - one of my recipes is published in Amy's book.  It's my only claim to fame!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Motivation: Decorating The Family Room and A Giveaway

Because the family room is an area used by the whole family, it's the perfect room to display family photos and mementos. 

But, just adding things to a room can turn into clutter pretty quickly and we're trying to avoid that.  So, what to do?

1.  Choose one area to display photos:

Everything can't be displayed at one time, so choose which items mean the most to you.

source
By framing photos in coordinating frames, you'll unite the look and keep the overall design organized. 

2.  Showcase family heirlooms so you can enjoy them. 

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pinterest

3.  Add interest to bookshelves by incorporating family memories.



4.  Include the children's artwork and projects:

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source


And now, let's get down to some fun business.  It's time for a give-away in honor of my 500th post.  Here are the rules:

1.  The give-away starts on July 25, 2011 and ends on July 29, 2011 at 7:00 pm EST.
2.  The winner of the give-away contest gets to choose one item from my Etsy Shop - Tidy Brown Wren
3.  All entrant's names will be added to a hat and the winner will be randomly chosen by Hubs (aka Sargent Safety)
4.  To enter the give-away, leave a separate comment for each of the following:
a.  You are a follower of Tidy Brown Wren
 b.  You like Tidy Brown Wren on Facebook
      c.  Tell me which topics you like most of TBW 

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Blog Look And A Giveaway

Do things look a bit different around here? 

I've been wanting to try a different blog header for awhile and decided to try to do one myself.  I almost had to break down and call in a professional but I managed to get it done. 

Also, a new link above lists all of the workshops and presentations I have prepared for church and community groups.  I really enjoy speaking and teaching and hope to be doing more of it in the future.


In other news, I'll be posting my 500th blog post next week and I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a giveaway.  The winner can choose any one item  from my Etsy shop.  I'll give details on Monday so be sure to check back then. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Aprons For The Etsy Shop

I've been having a great time creating new aprons for my Etsy shop.

This apron was made from a moo-moo (I'm not joking).



This one just says "Summer" to me. 


Who doesn't need a work apron?  Practical and cute!


Now, back to my sewing machine. . .

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wrensday: Mid July At "The Wren"


It's mid July - hazy, hot, and humid.

The yard at "The Wren" is in full swing.  In addition to the veggie garden, we've got bees, flowers, and chickens to observe.


Here, "the girls" are hanging out on their front porch after dinner.



This is my favorite color of all of the zinnias.  It glows in the sunlight.


Our chickens are enjoying running around the yard.  They're still trying to figure out how to get over the fence to get at the tomato plants. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Garden Pizza


I don't know about you, but sometimes it feels just too hot to eat a heavy meal. 

Our family welcomes a lighter fare on the dinner table during the dog days of Summer.

Here's one our favorites - Summer Garden Pizza


Here's what I started out with: 

          -homemade pizza dough (see recipe below)
          -garden tomatoes
          -garden peppers (purple and red)
          -garden onions
          - fresh basil
          -dried herbs (from last year's garden)
          -freshly grated mozzarella cheese


Roll the dough out onto a cookie sheet that has been greased and dusted with cornmeal.  Top with sliced tomatoes, basil, sliced onions, and sliced peppers. You can use whatever fresh veggies you have available.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and dried herbs of your choice (I used parsley, sage, rosemary, and oregano).



Sprinkle everything with grated cheese and bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the crust is lightly browned and the cheese is bubbly.


Recipe for Pizza Dough:

1 Tbl. yeast
1 cup warm water (@115 degrees)
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. coconut oil
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1 cup white flour

Mix yeast, water, and honey in a large bowl.  Let sit for a few minutes until it is foamy.
Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well and knead dough about 10 times until it is smooth.
Let rise in bowl for 1/2 hour. 
Grease large cookie sheet (round or rectangular) with coconut oil and dust with cornmeal.
Plop dough into the center of the cookie sheet and roll it out to the edges of the pan.  You'll probably have to roll it several times because it will want to shrink a bit. 

Top with your favorite toppings and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Motivation: Family Room Storage Options




Our Monday Motivation this week is too look at storage options for the Family room.  Don't be afraid to try furniture and items that are usually found in other rooms of the house.

How about a trunk for a coffee table.  It doubles as a table and storage. 
 
Storage Chest Coffee Table
Source:  Better Homes and Gardens

An antique dresser works well as a sideboard, a hall table, a tv stand, or a linen closet.  I have a dresser in my dining room and a tall dresser in my bathroom.  Both store a ton of stuff and make everything look neat and tidy.


 
Source:   Miss Mustard Seed For HGTV

A large open-backed shelf makes a fabulous room divider.  Items can be displayed on either side but still allows light to pass through. 

 
Source:  google.com


A section of a log, sanded and sealed, makes a great little side table.  Hubs is making one for me right now.  Warning - lots and lots of sanding is in your future if you want to make one of these yourself.   Just say'n!
 
 

 
Please share your storage ideas in the comment section. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Perfect Fabric and Carpet Cleaner - I Mean It!


You know how I love a good cleaning product!  Especially when I can mix it up from ingredients I already have on hand.

Well, when reading a newsletter from one of my favorite blogs, Grocery Shrink, one of Angela's readers shared a fabric and carpet cleaner that doesn't need to be rinsed out (most cleaners leave a dirt-attracting residue if not rinsed after cleaning).  I really liked that idea and decided to try it out.  

One of my chores this week was to detail my car.  Inside and out.

I found more than a few stains on the carpet and upholstery.

 This was actually a rust mark.

I mixed together 1/2 cup ammonia and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide and dipped a clean rag into it.  I simply scrubbed the stain with the damp rag and the stain came right up.  Amazing.



All clean!

Next up, carpet.  This was mud, I think,but who really knows.  Anyway, I used the same procedure as above and it worked.



After just a few seconds of scrubbing, it looked good.  I had several spots on the carpet that came with the car (we bought it second hand) that I was able to clean up with this mixture.  I'm loving it.



Just mix up as much of this cleaner as you'll use at one time as it looses effectiveness over time.   Also, hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach and could possibly lighten dark fibers.  You should do a small test area in a hidden spot before cleaning a large area. 


Because I'm married to Commander Careful aka Sargent Safety, he asked me to remind you to never mix ammonia with bleach.  It's poisonous and can kill you. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wrensday: Fighting The Weeds Without Chemicals


Hub's has been putting his new toy to good use in the yard.  We have a very long gravel driveway that is constantly sprouting weeds.  We don't want to use chemical weed killers because. . .
 well, because we want to avoid spraying poison around a yard that our chickens, goats, and grandsons run around in.  (should I have listed grandsons first?)

I bought a Weed Dragon for Hubs for Father's Day with Amazon Gift cards that I earned through Swag Bucks.  To see how I collect Swag Bucks, check this post.



The yard dragon is connected to a propane tank and kills weeds with heat instead of using poisonous chemicals.  Instead of purchasing the advertised cart, we decided to use our kid's old red wagon to pull the heavy propane canister around.  The wagon wasn't the best solution, so Hubs is looking for something else that has fatter tires. (Remember the red wagon from this post?)



The flame was a bit scary at first, but we realized that the flame doesn't kill the plants - the heat from it does.  Hubs was able to kill all of the weeds on our large driveway in less than a half an hour.  He chose to do it on a drizzly morning so that the ground wasn't too dry - we didn't want pine straw or leaves catching on fire. 


Goodbye, weeds!

The good people who make the Weed Dragon have no idea who I am or that I am writing this post.  It's my own opinion.  That said, I am an affiliate of Amazon and if you purchase anything on Amazon from one of my links, I'll make a few pennies.

I'm linking to:





Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Swagging With Swag Bucks

I've been working hard to save money these days;  clipping coupons, comparing prices, making do, and doing without.  Sound familiar?  Are you doing the same thing?

Well, I've been having fun while saving money by earning Swag Bucks.
 What is a Swag Buck?  It is a virtual dollar that can buy real things. 

Search & Win

Really, it is a search engine that rewards you for searching the web.  You can earn Swag Bucks by completing surveys, watching videos, looking for codes or even trading in games or old cell phones.  

My favorite way to redeem my Swag Bucks is to buy $5 Amazon.com gift cards.  I'll show you tomorrow what I just purchased for Hubs with my SB (Swag Bucks).  

Want to get started earning SB?  It's easy:
Go to Swag Bucks (click on the logo above or below to get there quickly) and create an account. It's so easy to do and as soon as you're registered, you'll be rewarded with 30 SB - not a bad way to start! 

Install SB as your homepage (if you want to) to make it easy to use as you search the web.  **I use SB to log into Facebook and I've been rewarded many times with SB.  Fun!


Search & Win

If you join Swag Bucks with my referral link, I'll earn some SB.  Just wanted you to know.  Thanks.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Motivation: Organizing The Living Room

Well, we've worked half way through our homes already with the Monday Motivation challenges.  If you've missed the previous schedule, here it is:


For the month of July, we'll be tackling the Family room/Living room. 


    Step 1:  Look around your Family room/Living room and choose what activities you want to place in the room.  Gaming?  Reading?  Eating?   Playing?  TV watching?  Homework?

  Step 2:  Decide what furniture you need in the room to help your family with the activities you listed in Step
           1.  Do you have enough seats for everyone?  Tables for activities?  Shelves for books?  Desk for homework?   All other furniture should be removed.

Step 3:  Check for proper lighting.  Do you have enough light for reading and homework?

Step 4:  Do you have enough storage in the room?  Only store supplies that will be used in that particular room.  Any other supplies should be stored in the room where they're used.

Step 5:  Remove all extra items from the room and either place them in the appropriate room or donate them.

Now you're decluttered.  Next week we'll look at decorating the Family room/Living room.



Friday, July 8, 2011

This Is Why I Never Give Up


Remember when I showed you my refinishing projects last week two weeks ago?  And. . . I said I was going to finish them last week?  And. . . I didn't?



Well, I have a perfectly good reason for not being punctual.  Failure.

Actually, several failures.
The plan was to:

                      1.  Remove old hardware
                      2.  Fill in holes and missing veneer with wood filler
                      3.  Sand it smooth
                      4.  Apply 2-3 coats of gel stain until desired depth of color was achieved
                      5.  Top with satin water based poly to protect the finish.

Simple enough?



I started out well.  Here you can see that the top drawer's holes are filled in and sanded.  The bottom drawer has it's first coat of gel stain.  I wasn't really loving the color - a little too red, but I figured the color would deepen with layers and I was right. 

Then, failure.  The poly coat that I bought said "satin", but it was really "semi-gloss".  I checked to make sure I had stirred the product thoroughly before applying but it was definitely "shiny" and I wanted "satin". 
 GRRRR. . . .

Did I mention the weather has been hot (90's) and humid (75-100%).

GRRR. . .

After waiting 4 days for it to cure, I lightly sanded the poly off so I could apply a new top coat.  The gel stain started coming off of the dresser and a lot of the "shiny" stayed put. 

GRRRR. . .

I couldn't give up.  I wouldn't give up. 

I called my daughter and informed her that I was going to go to plan "B" and asked her what color paint she would like on the dresser.  She chose white.

After 3 coats of primer and 5 coats of paint, we have a finished product.


We got the silver handles in a bulk pack at Lowes.  She has a few extras to use on another piece if she so chooses.  We'll be hauling it over to her place this weekend so she can put it to good use.  I'll try to remember to take pics after she gets it into place and accessorized with her cute stuff.  She'll be using it as a credenza in her office.
Yup, this is why I never give up.   It always works out if you just stick with it.  But sometimes you need to growl while you do it. 

I'm still working on the other piece, but until the humidity lets up, I'll hold off on putting the final coat on.

The Shabby Nest

Furniture Feature Fridays


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lazy Person's Way To Make Iced Tea

Nothing's better on a hot summer day than a cold glass of iced tea.  But, who wants to get sweaty brewing up a pitcher of this refreshing drink?


All you need to do is get a pitcher of water and two family size tea bags.  If you don't have family sized  (2 qts. each) you can use 5-6 regular tea bags.  I like to use decaffeinated tea bags.


Simply put the tea bags into the pitcher of water and cover with plastic wrap.  You don't want fridge odors getting into your tea.


Put the pitcher into the fridge and let it sit for a few hours.



You can even let it sit overnight without getting bitter tasting.  This cold-brew method is a great way to get your iced tea without having to work too hard for it. 


If you want to make "sweet tea"  stir the sugar or honey into the water before adding the tea bags.  Stir until it is well blended.  For a delicious change of pace, make one of your tea bags a flavored one.  Try mint, Lemon Zinger, or Constant Comment.  You can also add fresh mint sprigs, lemon slices, or orange slices. Yum!