Monday, August 20, 2012

The Kitchen Cabinet Project

My maybe-one-day-MIL said to me yesterday, "you've got a thing about kitchen cabinets." Well, friends, I suppose I do! I despise cooking in a kitchen with ugly kitchen cabinets. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

And to be fair, the kitchen cabinets in our last rental were knotty pine.... blech!

We start this post with a picture of the horrific kitchen cabinets in our new rental. I don't know what possessed the last person to paint the cabinets orange with a red countertop. Frankly, I don't really want to know. What I did know was that redoing the kitchen cabinets was a top priority after we moved in. Also, sorry about the lack of cabinet doors. I forgot to take a picture before P and I started unscrewing all of the hardware. You can trust me- they are as orange as the rest.

I had some ultrabright white kitchen & bath paint left over from our last place, so I went ahead and lightly sanded the frame and did two coats. You wouldn't believe the difference. I like it almost enough to do that whole no doors thing. Almost.

Since the house was built in the 50's, there were plenty of layers of paint on what I think is the original hardware. I was looking for some eco-friendly ways of removing paint from hardware, and decided to give the 24 hour soak in vinegar method a try. It kiiiiiiiind of worked. It loosened up the paint enough that I could take an exacto knife and scrape the paint off. It took probably two hours, but here's what I was left with.

Umm gorgeous! AmIright?! My next step with these little beauties will be to buff them up with some homemade beeswax furniture polish. One part carrier oil (like jojoba) to 1/4 part shredded beeswax. Melt in microwave, pour into container, stir a few times over the next few hours, and voila! Cheap, chemical free polish. Be still my heart.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dogs and Gardens Do Not Mix

Well friends. This creature here has eaten not one, not two, but three of my gorgeous, almost-ripe heirloom tomatoes. Don't let the cuteness distract you. She's evil. 

I'm not sure what it is, but it seems like the day before I would pick a tomato, I come outside to find that it is half eaten. I'm such a sucker that in the beginning, I considered that the culprit might be a rabbit or squirrel. But then I remembered-- my dog is a bitch. 

The solution? Chicken wire. That green plastic fence just wasn't cutting it against my tomato-stealing pit bull. I didn't even know dogs liked tomatoes! 

Here she is, fewer than 20 days before I have to pack her up and move a few miles away. I managed to get 10 pretty large plastic pots on clearance from Target for about two dollars each. Hopefully the tomatoes live, but I'm worried about the rest. I'll probably end up just calling this season a wash and trying again in the fall. Sadsies. 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Best Veggie Burger... So Far.

Like a lot of people, I'm on the hunt for a decent tasting veggie burger. Since I've been vegetarian off and on (mostly off) since I was 17, I've had a lot of crappy faux meat patties. Some are better than others, but none are really enjoyable. Well, I say it's time for a game changer. Bring in the patty!

Please ignore the ugly chipping plate that this beautiful burger is sitting on. 

This recipe is from Saveur, and the link to it is here. The recipe is for Black Bean Burgers with Salsa Fresca and Avocado Crema. I was lazy and just used salsa, but the avocado crema is a really nice sweet topping for a pretty hardy burger. If you know me personally, you already know that I am the Queen of Avocados. I'll most certainly be using the avocado crema in the future- possibly on these Sweet Potato Enchiladas from After Dinner Dance. I've made the enchiladas before and they are in my Top 10. You should try them. Go do it. Now.


Monday, July 2, 2012


I'm afraid I've jumped on the smoothie bandwagon. They are easy, nutritious, and TASTY! Tasty being the most important reason, of course.

My friends, I would like to introduce you to the smoothie that is a whopping 283 calories and provides you with 25 grams of fiber and 50 grams of protein. Yeah. That's awesome. And as I mentioned above, it is pretty damn delicious, too.

Mango Kale Smoothie


1/2 banana (frozen to give the smoothie an ice cream like consistency)
handful of frozen mango chunks
1 stem kale (just tear it up a little, nothing fancy)
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt 
2 tbsp wheat germ 
1 tbsp slivered almonds


Throw it all in a blender or food processor. Blend. Drink. Smile. 

Also, it takes better if you drink it out of a mason jar. Science, folks.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our First Harvest!

CHECK OUT OUR RADISHES*! I'm so excited! I'm going to be including them in a roasted root vegetable medley tonight, and sautéing the greens with some garlic and onion. Only a few of the greens had been munched on, so I'm really happy that we'll be using every part of them. 
It's kind of hard to tell whether the radishes are large enough based on the height of the greens, but I know they're better smaller anyway. Next up for harvesting will be a few tomatoes, peppers, and possibly some squash and zucchini!

*In the interest of full disclosure, I'll be honest. I thought they were beets until I chopped the root and smelled that it was radish. I know, I'm an idiot. But I could have SWORN we planted beets in that row and we even labeled it as beets. Oops!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Raised Bed Garden

I grew up with a garden. A quite large one, at that. My father, brother, and I spent long hours tilling, planting, weeding, picking, and eating the delicious fruits of our labor. We always had Better Boy tomatoes, yellow squash, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and assorted greens. Sometimes, Dad would plant strawberries in the raised beds along the side of the garden. I always loved it when we planted watermelon. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood revolve around being outside with my dad, whether that was in the garden or working on the old Ford pickup or building a fence for the horses.

Sometime in my teenage years, Dad decided he didn't want to bother with a garden that year. Or the year after that. Or the year after that. You get the idea. This year, however, both me and my Dad have raised beds. I knew I wanted to have a garden of my own, but I was so intimidated by the prep work required. I crashed at his place in April when I was in town for work, and his beautiful raised beds convinced me that it was time to have my own garden. He helped me figure out the right proportions and guided me as I drew out the preliminary plan for my own garden. Tomatoes to the north! {THE KING IN THE NORTH! THE KING IN THE NORTH!} Yeah I'm a huge Game of Thrones nerd, whatever. 

This might end up being a long-ish post, but I'll walk you through the step by step process for building a raised bed!


3     untreated 12" x 2" x 10' pine boards (one cut in half so it's two 5' long pieces)
22   40 lb. bags top soil
2     40 lb. bags manure/compost mixture
2     4 cu. ft. bags peat moss
1/2  gallon outdoor primer (whatever color you want, I chose gray)
1/2  gallon outdoor paint (same as above)
12   self drilling screws
specialty bit if needed for the screws
cordless drill

How to Build the Raised Bed

  1. Prime and paint your boards (including ends) 
  2. Lay boards on flat surface (preferably outdoors- it'll be impossible to get outside once you've put it together). Put shorter boards on the inside of the longer boards. 
  3. Once the frame is dry, screw three screws into each corner of frame
  4. Carry your frame to the location you've scouted for the garden. Make sure it's laying North/South. 
  5. Use a flat shovel to cut around the frame to mark where you need to dig down
  6. Remove raised bed from its final location-- you should be able to see where you need to dig
  7. Dig down a few inches or more across the entire footage of the raised bed-- you're trying to get most of the grass out of the area to reduce the likelihood of weeds
  8. The soil doesn't need to be perfectly level, since you're going to be putting a ton of soil and compost in, which you'll be leveling off anyway. The plant roots don't actually go that far down in the soil, so you don't need to dig down much more than 2" or so
  9. Replace the frame for the raised bed into its final location. If you need to dig down a little bit to make the rails of the bed level, do that now. I prefer the rails to be pretty level, but that's just personal preference. Remember, you'll make the soil level once you add it in the frame. 
  10. Once you have the frame where you want it, add all of the soil/compost/manure/peat moss. I found it is easiest to level out all of the topsoil, then add the compost mixture evenly over the topsoil, then the peat moss evenly over the compost. 
  11. Mix mix mix! You want to make the soil as even as possible. It makes it a lot easier if you have a buddy help with this. You can use a shovel or rake, whatever you think works best. 
  12. Plant! Seriously, it's finally time to plant. Tomatoes go on the North end, then less tall plants after that, so that at the South end, you're planting the shortest (at their adult size) plants. If you aren't sure how tall your adult plants will be, look on the back of the seed package (or the plant tag). It should tell you on there everything you need to know. 
  13. Don't forget to label what you've planted! You can use the tags that come with the plants, or be super fancy and use chalkboard stakes, store-bought stakes, ets. Popsicle sticks are super easy markers. 
I think that's pretty much it! After #13, it's up to you to keep your plants alive! There are a ton of great resources online and at the bookstore to help you maintain healthy and beautiful plants. Have fun! 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Canvas & Acrylic

I know I have not yet posted about cheese. Trust me, I'm as disappointed as you. But I have something new to share with you today! It's been a rough few months, because travel season picked up with work and I have not had much spare moola to fund new projects. However, I had a 40% off coupon for Michael's, and I took that opportunity to get the supplies to make something to go above our bed. It was looking a little dreary in there, particularly because it is a stormy blue color that makes you want to fall asleep.

I found a few palettes from Design Seeds to inspire me. One of my favorites was Cultured Tones.

So using those colors as inspiration, I drove little Robot Car to Michael's and picked up some supplies, which cost less than $30 total.

I'm pretty sure it's quite obvious that I had no idea what I was doing. However, I adore how it turned out! I ended up doing a little rose pattern with my fingers (fingers > brushes) to get a bit of a swirly effect. I think it plays nicely with the swirls in the bedding. Even if I end up painting the bedroom again, the colors I chose for the painting are ones that I will always have in my house. And you know what? If I paint the bedroom and it doesn't match the canvas, I'll just repaint it! 

Woo crafty time!