Spruce up a Toy!

My son loves trucks, but on this particular day, the truck seemed sad and boring.  I used my left over lollipop bags to stuff odds and ends in.  You could even use real trash.  Not only is the truck made of recyclable material but so are my hand made accessories.   Now little Rigs has real garage bags for his dump truck.  He had fun for 30 minutes pulling the bags in and out of the trucks.  The best part is that I didn't have to buy them-I made them in 5 minutes or less.


Before and After Backsplash (so far)

*Our kitchen nightmare has gradually turned into some what of an experimental DIY project, at best.  Andy cut the butcher block from Ikea to fit in this jagged space while I tried my first tiling ever.  As you can see, I haven't put up the border yet between butcher and tile and I did not use bull nose tiles in an effort to save 2-3 hundred bucks.  Oh well.  I am not going for the HGTV dream home kitchen look (obviously) but I'm just aiming for it to look like a kitchen (instead of a dirty laundry nook). 
   When we originally found our home, it was clear that a hoarder had lived there.  It took me a year just to completely get rid of the filth in this kitchen.  Needless to say, an old toothbrush has become my new best friend! 


Before and After Living Quarters

This living room has undergone many changes in the past year and still has many changes yet to come (new rug, new window, etc).  Andy redid the floors himself and we temporarily touched up the paint on the window sills until we can afford new windows.  I'm still not crazy about the color of the living room (sand white), but it will have to suffice for now.  At least we can sit down in our living room.
    I had nightmares about the paper linoleum floor lining before the hardwood pine flooring was discovered underneath the tar and glue.  Any suggestions for a rug would be great!

  *Rig's has a little play area in the corner of our living room.  I can't wait until he outgrows it so I can still a tree there or something!


The 200 dollar Gourd/ Happy Thanksgiving!

It's true- I don't know what this is.  I mean, of course it's part of the squash family but is it a pumpkin? A gourd?  An alien dressed as a pumpkin? Are not pumpkins orange?  Are not gourds beige? I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this.  In 1850 this would probably be a meal for a family of 8 for an entire month.   But it's 2010 and I've really been relying on McD's and canned goods for too long now. 
     I haven't the slightest idea how to carve or bake this ginormous gourd.  And in our family, we don't exactly have the best track record with soups....just ask my hubby, he'll tell you about that time I made split pea soup without peas (long story). 
    I recently joined a vegetable co-op in CT to be cool.  I also thought it was the most green and organic thing to do after watching Food Inc.  It's green alright! I really thought I believed in supporting 'our local farmers' but I'm not so sure anymore. A green pumpkin? Can I cook that for dinner? 
     I'm supposed to get winter veggies to eat each week and all winter long-not a Martha Stewart Center Piece!  I prepaid.  So far I've received enough salad for an army (or my pet rabbitts-shhh) and enough apples for 5 apple pies a month.  I mean, I thought that in the long run, I was saving money on produce but I'm not so sure anymore.  I'll probably just call this the 200 dollar pumpkin.  At least it's gorgeous and matches my gorgeous table from Home Goods.  I know Martha would approve.  
     The thing is, now I'm reallllly going to receive the ridicule from Andrew after I assured him that joining this vegetable co-op from local farmers was the best produce bang for our buck.  Honestly, I'm reconsidering the whole movement that Food Inc. has started.  I like the idea of it, but it's just not practical to join a bunch of food co-ops and only go organic.  In theory, I like to think of myself as a practical gal.  If anyone knows of how I can make the most of this green gourd monster in a very practical way, let me know.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Lolli Pop Lolli Pop....oh Chocolate Lolli Pop!

When I was pregnant and crazy with hormones once, I swore on my life that I would never EVER give any spawn of ours sugar....my how times have changed.  Lets just be realistic- what child doesn't like lollipops?
     I realize now how cruel it is to say no to a lollipop when all the other kids are doing it.  I mean, come on.  This philosophy should really serve me well when trying to teach my kid not to do drugs later on in life, right?  Well, for now I'm making R. lollipops for his 2nd birthday.  I had to do a practice run 3 months in advance.  I've been practicing with these amazing molds from the craft store.
    These chocolate lollies not only look fabulous but they taste great too.  All you have to do is buy the little melting chocolates at a craft store (you color of choice) and put it in the microwave for a bit.  The key is not to overmelt the chocolate and to stick it in the freezer right after pouring.  I was surprised at how well they popped out of the mold!


Jack O Lantern Love

I can have anywhere from 5 kids on Halloween to 30 so this year we really decided to reel em' in with the obvious- Candy!  It's probably more carving than I really wanted, but at least I didn't have to have a scary pumpkin face contest with the neighbors.  When the 'C' pumpkin's candle burnt out, Andy was starting to think I was madly obsessed with him!  I mean, I am, but not enough to make this row of pumpkins just for him. :)


Apple Pie from Scratch

It's that time a year when people go apple picking.  I wish I could say I picked the apples for this recipe, but making this pie from scratch was enough.  And it's organic! It's a shame that Andrew won't eat apple pie because this one came out so well.  It went fast! You can buy the crust from the store but if not, use my flaky pastry recipe.

Flaky Pastry Dough Recipe(for one 9' pie crust)
1 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening or butter, semi-chilled
1/4 cup ice water (yes, it has to be cold!)

Country-Style Apple Dish
 (usually I use this part as a guide)
*the key is using several different kinds of apples so that the flavor is intense

 6 medium cooking apples
3/4 or 1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon juice (if i'm out I use orange)
1/4 tsp or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 425:
-Prepare pastry into pie
In a separate bowl, stir diced up apples, juice, sugar, spices, salt and toss nicely
After it's all spread into the pie crust, dot with butter and add any more dough strips or designs. 
*Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, then reduce oven to 350 and bake another 25 minutes (approx)
*This is important because if you forget to turn the oven down your pie will be VERY dried out. 

If you want your crust to come out shiny, make an equal parts mixture of milk and sugar and 'paint' the liquid on the pie crust.  Serve finished pie with vanilla ice cream and you're good to go!

yummmy!  It makes a nice breakfast pie too!

Salt and Pepper Toy

I looked all over the internet for a pretend 'salt and pepper' shaker toy.  With no luck, it finally dawned on me that I should just make my own.  Rigs will try and snatch up the real salt and pepper at dinner time so instead of scolding him, I gave him his own 'real' salt and pepper toy-made with love!  More homemade toys coming soon!


Walk in Closet turned Hideaway

I have recently bee thinking of ways to revamp R's play area.  He gets bored so easily (Just like his mommy!) and then I was inspired by apartment therapy's before and after closet from a girl in Germany.  It looks nothing like my project, but you get the idea.  It just inspired me to do my own.  This morning when R woke up, he was crying extra hard.  I handed over his milk and he swatted it away!  I knew he was antsy about something.  I put him down and he ran over to the play area I had created last night.  I should have realized.  He could see it from his crib. 
     It made me so happy to see how thrilled he was about it.  He can look out the window, read, play with his trains and have quiet time.  Since the closet is next to his room, and upstairs, it's a perfect place for him to relax while I am getting ready in the morning.  The best part for me though is that all of the toys are out of sight when you initially walk into his room so at least his room is clutter free.  If I need to, I can hide this mess with a curtain.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the stuff I stuck in the basement last night....



Swimming in the Dog Bed

This is why my dirty little bean will be getting a bath today.  Yuck! My husband often asks me, "Does Rigs need a bath tonight?"  Me (a little defensively): "Of course he needs a bath! Do you have any idea what he has done today? What kind of mother do you think I am to let him skip baths?"  Today, I must have looked away for a total of 50 seconds to look down just in time to see Rigby bathing and rolling in Dylan's hair and grime covered bed.  I grabbed the camera on the desk just in time.  I just had to prove to Andy that Rigby really does get to be a boy sometimes.
    I love our rescue dog, Dylan, but I don't love him enough to let him hang out on our couch or sleep in our room, let alone our bed.  I only loved him enough to rescue him, pet him and feed him (and not to forget the 500 dollar vet bill to prevent him from dying-but that's another story)  I honestly think I'd rather see a fat man take a shower than see someone sleep in the same bed as their dog-Princess Chihuahua included. 
     I confess, I kind of have OCD-in case you couldn't tell already.  But whenever Rigby is ready for a nap, he crawls over to Dylan and rests his sleepy little head.  Tonight, I actually look forward to giving him his bath so I can hug him afterwards without being coated in hair.  And another bonus* 'Dylan the Dog's' foster mom will be happy to see he's still in good hands when I show her these photos.


Playroom Transformation

After much consideration, this icky room was transformed into a playroom.  By real estate definition, it's a '3rd bedroom' but rather than incorporate a daybed and office, we went with a cheery playroom.  Well, actually, I went with it.  Andy wanted it to be a room for himself and his guitars.  He gave in when he realized Rigs only had the stairs to play on.  

    Needless to say, Rigs is much happier with time to himself in his little space.  Sometimes he even lets us enjoy it too while we get to clean up after him.  It's amazing what a can of paint will do.  We got the car rug off of our local craigslist and the cute posters from a local toy store, although I'm sure you could just make your own.  The toy storage bins are from Target. 

Stairwell, Before and After

They might only be stairs, but they make or break the way this entire section of the house looks.  Andy has been slaving away on different parts of the house and while he refinished the wood on the stairs, I painted the awful black, backdrop a nice snowy white.  I have to admit, I do try to keep the back of my shoes from scuffing it on the way down.  It just looks so much better painted white and minus the linoleum step pads. (don't forget to use primer or it won't come out so white)