this weekend

enjoyed some r&r (and coffee) with dear friends in the beautifully dreary gray of Portland.

Ready to take on the world now.


twelve by 2012

I ran across this challenge when Katie at The Bright Life posted her twelve by 2012 list, which led me over to oh, hello friend who created this great challenge. I love setting goals now instead of waiting for the new year because, let's be honest, by the time the new year rolls around I've been in creative overload for so long all I want to do is hibernate until spring. Also, with a new job looming in front of me (I'm going to be working full time, ack), I know that I'm going to need some extra motivation to finish everything I want to this holiday season.

Without further ado, here are my twelve goals to be completed by 2012:

1. Paint the bedroom...we only purchased all the supplies six months ago

2. Complete our bed, building and finishing

3. Take a Christmas picture as cute as this one and this one and actually SEND IT.

4. Make at least one more batch of pear vanilla bean jam.

5.  Celebrate Christmas with handmade gifts and wrappings.

6. Crochet this scarf for myself in that deep blue yarn I've had sitting in the yarn basket for a year.

7. Try at least three new vegetarian recipes. Any suggestions?

8. Make a date with myself for coffee/lunch on a Saturday. Take a journal.

9. Make these rolls the "real food" way for our Thanksgiving meal.

10. Roast and freeze the pumpkins from our garden for pies and cookies. You should try this method, you'll never go back to canned pumpkin again.

11. Find the perfect "quiet" spot in the house for morning devotions.

12. Bake a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Enjoy every bite!


diy art: geometric painting

 The last two weeks I have been tackling a ton of projects for our house trying to get everything more "finished" before the holidays get here. Most of my projects have been coming from Pinterest (what did I do before we had this wonderful thing??). I originally saw this pattern on a painted rug and loved it, so when I found a couple canvases on sale for 50% off, I decided it was time to try one of my own.

Here is my inspiration image, found here:

All of these geometric painting projects start pretty much the same way: pick your pattern and get out the painter's tape. The hard part with this one was getting everything straight. I chose to run my tape all the way across the canvas and then cut out the pieces that I didn't want in the design. That way all of my squares were exactly aligned. You can check out the original rug post for more hints about getting this particular design perfect.

After the taping was finished, I got ready to paint. I used this tutorial as my guide for how to get almost no bleed through. Unfortunately, I found it after I had already taped and wasn't able to paint my whole canvas white before taping. I did put a coat of white all around the taped areas before painting it with my colored paint. Painting with white first is supposed to minimize bleed through since the white paint will be the one that bleeds through and should, ideally, seal up an spaces you missed between the tape and the canvas.

After painting with white, I put three coats of colored paint on, letting the canvases dry for 30-45 minutes between coats. A little bit of my blue did bleed through onto the white, but I took a white paint pen and corrected anything that was too obvious. All in all, this was a simple, cheap, and fun project :) I love the finished product!


diy: shutter apron rack

Remember this little image? Check out number three because it's about to become something very cool. :)

Behold the apron rack...made from that little ol' shutter. I. Love. It.

This was another project on my Pinterest to do list and it was so easy. The paint color is actually John Deere green spray paint from Lowe's and I picked up the extra knobs from Restore for a couple bucks. After a few coats of spray paint, I drilled holes for the knobs, attached them, and hung it up on the wall. I'm so happy to have my aprons out again (I thought I had lost them in the move, but it turns out they were just hiding in one of the kitchen drawers...phew, that was a close one).

That wall of the kitchen/dining room is now finished! And just in time too...I only have about sixty-five other projects going on and just one week to finish them in.

Here's what I'll be up to...

Building these $10 gallery shelves for the kitchen, buffet area, and living room (mine are shorter, so I'm actually building seven of them for only $30!!)

Making two of these mail/key/general junk organizers to hang side-by-side in the entry...we have a lot of stuff to organize :)

And finally, using this picture as inspiration to create my first two strictly-for-fun art pieces. Can't wait!

Pictures to come...assuming I finish them all today like I'm planning. I better get to work!


diy: framed chalkboard calendar

Last week I was determined to start my Pinterest to do list. I'd been pinning and pinning and hadn't made anything yet, so it was definitely time. I decided to kill two birds with one stone by creating a menu/weekly calendar and trying my hand at making my own custom color chalkboard paint. Fortunately for me this project only cost $1.43 (for unsanded tile grout) because I had all of the other necessaries laying around the garage. Scraps (by which I mean free projects) are one of the best perks of building things yourself.

Here are my inspiration photos foudn via pinterest:

First, I started with a large piece of 1/4" plywood. I was using left over from building our full-sized headboard a while back, but a full sheet (4ft by 8ft) only costs about $10 to $15, and it will make at least four chalkboards, so get some friends together and throw a party.

I sanded my plywood with 100, 150, and 220 grit sandpaper to get a super smooth finish and filled any holes with regular old joint compound (the stuff you use to fill nail holes in walls). When I went to paint my first coat though, I realized that the plywood was full of litle grooves made by the grain of the wood (this was probably an issue caused by using a scrap that had been living outside in all kinds of weather/temperatures for almost a year, I don't think you'll have this issue with new plywood). So I thinned out some joint compound and spread it over the entire surface of the plywood then scraped it smooth with a putty knife. Once it was dry, I sanded with 220 again and then moved forward with the painting.

Chalkboard paint is SUPER easy to make yourself. I always check the "oops" paint cart/shelf whenever I'm at Lowe's or Home Depot and grab it if I like the color (even if I don't have a use for it right then, you never know). That's how I ended up with getting a sample size (8oz) of the perfect chalkboard gray. Paint samples are perfect for this project because you don't have to measure the paint since it already comes in an 8oz size. Just mix 2 tbs of unsanded tile grout right into the sample container and go to town. I tried sifting my tile grout into the paint hoping that it would help me avoid clumps, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference...still a little clumpy.

I taped off my weekly squares and used a 2" high density foam roller to paint on a couple of coats of chalkboard paint. When I finished, this is what I had.

I painted the lines the same gray as my wall color and used some old chair rail trim that we had removed from the dining room as a frame. Frames are very straight forward to build...if you have a nail gun. I ended up using wood glue and clamping it to a square while it dried. Seems to be holding up just fine.

Now all I need is one of those cool chalk ink pens and a nice little basket I can mount on the wall underneath the chalkboard to catch all of the miscellany (chalk, recipes, bills, etc). Can't wait to start using it!


meatless mondays: stuffed red peppers

2 red bell peppers
14.5oz can of low sodium black beans
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup sour cream/plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
6-7 green onions, chopped

Slice bell peppers in half lengthwise and clean out the center and seeds so you have a nice cavity to fill. In a bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Stuff filling into peppers and top with more grated cheese (optional). Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

I like my peppers crunchy, but if you want a softer pepper, steam them for a few minutes before stuffing them and they should come out just about perfect.


article love: you just need to be hungry

I so enjoyed "Back to the Land, Reluctantly" that recently appeared in the NY Times. My sister sent me the link and it is well worth the read. Her story inspires me to do more, grow more, and just in general have the grit and determination to make things like simplicity and sustainable living a reality in my life.


eating real

Slowly, ever so slowly, over the last two years Joe and I have been moving toward eliminating all processed food from our diet. We do have some hold outs though. Condiments are the worst. I suppose I could give them up all together, but what is a sandwich without some mustard or bbq chicken without Sweet Baby Ray's? I know there are fillers in there, but it's just so darn good. And remember this has been a two year long process, maybe by year three I'll be making my own mustard and whipping up delicious bbq sans modified corn starch...or maybe by year four...Sweet Baby Ray's is that good.

Today I wanted to share a few articles that I found recently on eating real food, or clean eating. I found them very informative and really enjoyed putting a name to what we've been doing for the last few years (our clean eating journey started because I would look at something at the store and say to myself: "Self, we could so make a less expensive, more delicious version of that at home."). These articles were very informative and the writer has lots of suggestions for other books/movies to check out.

100 Days of Real Food: Real Food Defined (The Rules)

100 Days of Real Food: 100 Days of Mini-Pledges (I'm hoping to do this soon!)

Finally, I'll leave you with a recipe I'm dying to try out...if only I could get one of the grocers to identify kale for me ;)

Baked Kale Chips


diy: shutter table

This weekend I accomplished a goal. I built an entire piece of furniture in one afternoon. Every time I start a project I think: "This will be a piece of cake." I can picture exactly how everything should fit together and work, but it never does. Take our bed for example...the bed that we started in July that is still waiting for the final two pieces of trim to be attached. Fortunately for us, the trim doesn't affect the structural integrity of the bed, but still why isn't it finished?

That's why completing this little project in one afternoon was such an accomplishment for me. Now if I can only keep up the momentum and get it painted before next weekend rolls around. :)

Putting the table together was super simple. Like I mentioned before, we had picked up this shutter closet door from the ReStore for free (they were moving and needed to get rid of inventory). I didn't want my table to be the full length of the shutter so I used a jigsaw to cut it in half just above the thick middle crosspiece, which gave my table some nice finished ends.

Then I cut aprons (the long pieces that are underneath the table and attach to the legs) from a scrap piece of 1x2 and used the Kreg Jig to attach them to the spindle legs. Finally, I used another couple pocket holes to attach the frame to my shutter and...viola! complete. I can't praise my Kreg Jig enough becasue it makes getting a project perfect so easy! And all of my screw holes are hidden out of sight which makes finishing that much simpler too.

I had a couple of concerns about using a shutter as a table top. Namely, that nothing would be able to sit flat on it. However, because I used a shutter that was never meant to be opened or closed that actual surface is pretty flat and doesn't move at all. So far I haven't had any mishaps with setting glasses or picture frames on it, so here's hoping. If it gets to be a nuisance I can always get a piece of glass cut to size to cover it. But for now, it's the perfect little free project.