Thursday, March 29, 2012

Last week, while reading Jules' WM post, I was reminded how much I need to clean out my pantry. As if standing at the threshold and leaning over as far as I can to reach things on shelves because I literally could not see the floor wasn't enough. What a mess.

That was actually the second-to-the-last straw. The last straw was going to the grocery store, loading the back of my suburban with 2 weeks (maybe) worth of groceries and realizing when I brought it all in the house that I had no place to put it.

So on the counter they went and on to work I went. I started by pulling everything out. I couldn't do this all at once because I really had no place to put it all so I did it one shelf at a time.Pull everything off. Clean with a rag. Sort the keep from the toss. Decide on a permanent spot for the stuff I keep. Repeat.

I tried to come up with a system of sorting and organizing so it would be easy for anyone to find something in my pantry. This wasn't too hard, except for a few things that always fall into the random category. I'm not quite finished yet, as I would like to be able to store the kids drawing and coloring supplies in there. Actually, the jury's still out on that one. When I organize the school room, they might better fit in there. Sheesh. Why does every project I do lead to another, larger job?

Some things I found while cleaning out my pantry:

Empty liquor bottles. Well, almost empty. There was one bottle of tequila that had enough for one shot in the bottom. One of my pet peeves is when the person who uses the last of something puts the now empty container back where they got it. It's empty. It's useless to the next person. Throw it away.

I'm a little embarrassed about this one. I think I bought this whole bag of corn flour for one recipe that called for a tablespoon. Then I stuck it up on a high shelf and forgot about it. Apparently, I have been feeding and housing a city of weevils or something for who knows how long. Cleaning that up gave me the heebies.

This is the light fixture in my pantry. It fell from the ceiling and has been dangling by its wires since the first year we lived in our house. That was 7 years ago. It's on Mr. Park's list.

 This is mid-way through the project.

Yes, the empty liquor bottles are still there. I need to put them in my glass recycling basket but there isn't room. Maybe that's why they were up there to begin with.

Look! It's the floor! I can walk in there and spin around if I want. There are now some empty shelves, but I think once I get the other areas of my kitchen organized, I might need them. If not, I'm okay with empty shelves. I think my need to fill empty spaces with stuff if starting to wane.

I'm linking up with Jules' William Morris Project.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My baby girl is 10

She was born 3 1/2 years after my first born son. In those 3 1/2 years, I would have 2 miscarriages. I remember sitting in the living room of our 100 year old farm house crying and asking Elliott if this was it. What if I can't have anymore? He just held me and told me everything would be all right and we'd cross that bridge if we get to it. Then she came along. A ray of sunshine in the early morning. She was born at 6:45 am and Elliott has called her his sunshine ever since. She's a lot like Elliott's great aunt 'Iwie' who was a spitfire until the day she died at 92. She's developing quite the sense of humor and loves a good practical joke. Yep, she's a tween now, I guess. I asked her if she knew what that word meant and she couldn't really tell me. Just that she was proud to be one.

She mentioned that her favorite food was 'Chinese' and I just happened to have made it last night so I thought I'd share the recipe, if you can call it that. I first learned of this dish when I married into my husband's family. At that time, it was just hamburger meat, green beans, celery and spaghetti topped with soy sauce and it was called 'Chinese' food. I'll always refer to it with quotes because the only thing Chinese about it is the soy sauce. I've added more veggies over the years and it's become a favorite of the kids.

 Brown a pound or two of ground beef in a skillet. Set aside.

Next, you're going to take whatever vegetables you like or that your family will eat or anything that looks like it's going bad in your icebox, and chop it up. You might need to saute it in batches, depending on how big your skillet is and how much stuff you end up with. I started with onions, celery and bell peppers.  Then I continued with cabbage and broccoli. I let them brown a little in some spots and then I added some soy sauce because the broccoli and cabbage don't really sweat that much when you saute them and the extra moisture helps soften them.

 Then I added some shredded carrots and let them cook until semi-soft.

Here it is. All mixed together in a bowl. Oh, yeah, don't forget to boil some spaghetti while you're doing all that other stuff. It's served over spaghetti. Sounds really oriental, doesn't it? Believe me, I've tried to convert my family to rice, quinoa,  soba noodles, anything but spaghetti. They never go for it. They always complain and ask where the spaghetti is. I give up.

So there you have it. Anna's favorite meal. 'Chinese' food. And there's mine without all those silly, unnecessary carbs. ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

William Morris Thursday - the living room

I don't even know where to begin this week because it's been so long since I've posted. Last Thursday, my house was a turned-inside-out mess. It was our spring break and I had a list of things I wanted to get done. Two of which were nonnegotiable. Along with catching up on laundry and pulling down the summer clothes from the attic, I was determined to paint my living room and move that dang crate/coffee table into the space no matter what condition it was in. I have to warn you, this post is extremely lengthy and has a ton of pictures. It won't hurt my feelings if you skim. Promise.

Here's what I accomplished in the past two weeks:

1. I finally decided on a paint color. And I have my husband to thank for helping me decide. I swear, if he hadn't gone with me to Lowe's, I'd still be standing there in front of all those color swatches, drool running down my chin. The middle one is the one we chose.

Since it was spring break, and I had all week to work on whatever I wanted, I decided to get the painting out of the way on Monday. My helpful friend, Brenda came over to help and we knocked the whole thing out in 3 hours.

2. With the painting so quickly out of the way, and my entertainment center in the middle of the room, I decided to do something I hadn't planned on doing just yet. I had been wanting to paint the entertainment center, but wasn't sure what I'd be getting myself into. My husband has always suggested I sell the thing and use the money to get something I liked more. It was, after all, an expensive purchase and he just couldn't stomach the thought of me slapping paint on it. He did relent, though, and I went ahead with my plan. ;)

I started by researching this chalk paint that everyone is raving about these days. I read all about the Annie Sloan chalk paint and how everyone falls in love with it the first time they use it and vow to use nothing else their entire DIY lives. And I was just about to climb on the band wagon when I saw the price tag - $38 for a quart. Ouch. Plus, I'd have to wait. Wait, I tell you, for the stuff to be shipped to my house because it's not sold everywhere. When I get ready to do something, I don't want to wait. I wanted to start on my project in the next few hours. So I scoured the web looking for an alternative and I hit the jackpot.

I am apparently not the only one who's not willing to spend $38 on one quart of paint and wait for it. I followed this blogger's advice and made my own.

I wanted to bring out the color of my stone fireplace mantel, so I took a leftover piece we had in the rock pile outside. I was hoping the 'oops' shelf at Lowe's would have something I could use and sure enough, they did. I got a gallon of good paint in a color that was close for $8. The container of grout I got was $5. That's a far cry from $38/quart!

I took all the doors and hardware off and jumped right in. It really does work as well as they say. I didn't sand or prime beforehand, I just painted it in 2 coats, sanded the rough spots and sealed it with furniture paste. Miss Mustard Seed has an excellent tutorial about it here.

3. Of course, you know that when you pull out a large piece of furniture that has held lots of stuff, you have to remove all that stuff and clean the inside of the piece. This was not a project I was looking forward to, so I did it half way and haven't done anything else since.

The stuff in the foreground is the stuff I got rid of. Everything else is keep and the grocery sack is filled with empty cd holders and scratched dvd's that I pitched. The stereo components and all related wires are in a laundry basket in the dining room. The tv is shoved up against the wall in the entry way. I'm so close to just pushing it out the door a la Poltergeist.

4. I went to an antiques store known for having lots of old hardware and bought 3 hinges for the crate/coffee table and on one of the few sunny days we had last week, my husband installed them and the caster wheels.

Then, he did something that I hadn't thought of because I don't think of such things. He found an old leather belt and used it as a stay to keep the door from falling back too far and bending the hinges the wrong way. He's sharp like that.

Here's the completed crate.

I'm still not sure about color or stain. I really just wanted to get it into the space and live with it for a while first and maybe later I'll have a better idea what to do. Or I'll just leave it that way forever.

5. I left a few piles of clothes that I had purged laying around and I guess this is what happens when you walk away from them for a few weeks. They multiply into 7 bags! 6 of those bags will be going out the door and one will go into the attic for storage until the season changes again.

Whew! Let's recap with some before and after shots.






Additional notes:

The wall color is Cosmic Rays by Olympic from Lowe's. We sprung for the primer/paint in one.
The armoire color is from the oops pile so I don't know the name of it. 
We opted to remove the other two pieces of the entertainment center that flanked the armoire because it always seemed a little too crowded for me. They're in the dining room awaiting their next assignment.
The matching table and chair were scored last year on my birthday when our town had it's annual citywide garage sale. Not sure what I'm going to do with it as far as color or fabric goes, I think I'll just live with it for a while and see how I feel.
The back story on the crate/coffee table can be found here and here.
The inspiration for all of this can be found here

I'm linking up with Jules at Pancakes and French Fries for her weekly William Morris project.
I'm also linking up with A Bowl Full of Lemons Tuesday link party.

Join me?