Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner

This year we are forgoing the annual Thanksgiving dinner at J's grandmother's house.  Instead we will be hosting dinner.  Now don't worry, it's just for my side of the family which consists of my mom and sister (and new baby).  Yeah, I have a very small family and except for my parents and sister, most of them live out of state.  So it will be a nice intimate dinner.

Now I grew up in a household that never had the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  It just wasn't our style.  Since my dad is Italian, we normally had a pasta dish.  Linguine in clam sauce with shrimp to be exact, yum.  One year I did make duck in garlic sauce, that was pretty good and as close to a traditional bird as I get.  Now J's grandmother is all about the traditional dinner.  We always have a turkey and all the fixins, but it's just not my thing. (Not that I don't enjoy the meal at his grandmother's house, I just don't want to eat it every day).

So this year, since I am making dinner, I decided to do it my way.  J's a vegetarian, so a turkey is out, and well frankly, neither one of use want a Tofurky, blah.  So what am I going to do?  Well here is the menu me and J came up with the other day.  Okay, I made the menu and he approved.  ;-)

First, J hates stuffing.  He absolutely hates the stuff, so the traditional stuffing is out.  So a great substitution, the lovely wild rice mushroom stuffing.

Oh my, that looks delicious.  And J even gave it the thumbs up.  I won't be stuffing a bird with this, but I will be serving this as a side dish.  Wild rice and mushrooms, who could ask for a better combination.

Then as a salad I want to go with this spicy cucumber salad.

It's kinda a twist on the cucumber salad my mom always makes.  It's super simple to make, so I can have J make this.  Mmmmm, cucumbers.

I also wanted to make mashed potatoes with shiitake mushroom gravy, but we decided we would be pushing the mushroom theme too much.  So we decided on roasted potatoes.

Now I don't know if I'll make pesto potatoes, like pictured, above, but I will make roasted potatoes.  Maybe with a butter and herbs or even a sweet vinaigrette sauce.

Then we also want some bread and dipping oils.  And I have plenty of those, so we're covered there.  I also would like to make some homemade cheese.

I normally make ricotta using the recipe from smitten kitchen, but I have everything I need to make mozzarella.  So we might try and make some of that.  Or we might make both.

And you might say, what are you going to make for a main dish since you despise turkey so much? We plan on making stuffed portabellas.  I'd like to make some goat stuffed ones and some feta stuffed ones as well.    

We will be making large stuffed portabellas, not the small ones.  We will also be making some grilled veggies and possibly pasta to go with this.  It will be like the mushrooms we use to make sandwiches with, minus the bread.

And of course we can't forget about dessert.  We plan on making these delicious looking cookie bars I found the other day.

picture from

Just 5 ingredients?  Oh yes please.  J thinks we should make these this weekend to try them out and make sure they are good.  I think he might be right, wouldn't want to serve anything that didn't taste good ;-)    

So do you do the traditional thing for Thanksgiving or do you do something different?  Are you planning on hosting dinner or is that crazy talk?

Click on any of the links or pictures to take you to the recipes.  Or you can find them on my Pinterest boards.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Welcome Back

So I took a little break from this blog.  Nothing serious, just a little week long break to collect my thoughts and rest up a bit.  It's not like a lot is going on around here.  J is finishing up this semester of class.  I can't believe another semester is almost over, but I guess that's a good thing.  We only have two and a half years until he's done,  WooHoo!

We may not have been working on any ground shaking projects around here, but we have picked up a few things for here and there.

We picked up this medicine cabinet for the downstairs basement.  It was only $20 at the ReStore.  It needs a lot of love, but a little bit of cleaning and some new paint, and it'll be as good as new.  And it's going to look so nice downstairs.  We can get rid of that boring tiny mirror.  Now to decide what color to go with.  Yay, paint picking time!!!

And yes, I still need to take down that tape after priming the porch.  I should probably do that soon :-)

I also picked up this cute little scent warmer for the bathroom.  It was on clearance in the fall stuff at the hardware store.  It was only $6 and the little scent cubes were on sale for 75 cents a package.  I couldn't pass that up.  I grabbed this guy and a pomegranate and black cherry cubes.  Now the house smells delicious   

We also have been hitting up the Target clearance end caps for all things awesome.

I have had my eye on these green jars all summer.  I knew that the color was perfect for the upstairs bathroom, but I didn't know if I wanted to spend a lot of money on them.  Luckily, my waiting paid off and I got this guy for $10.  Yay!

Here's a close up look of how pretty it is.  I love the color and the shape.  It's perfect for the bathroom.

And because we seemed to be on a large jar kick, we also picked up this one for $10.  Perfect for the shelf in the kitchen.  It replaced our "fancy" bottle of New Glarus Belgian Red cheery beer wine (seriously, this stuff is amazing and it's my favorite wine.  If you are ever in WI you should try all one of there wines or beers).

We picked up a little oak bonsi tree for the study.  We've been eyeing them up, but they were a little bit out of our accessories price range.  But the second we noticed one in the clearance section it was in our cart.

And a side note, we have to have fake plants because Toonces eats every single real plant that is brought into the house.  Granted, she also tries to eat the fake plants, but at least that doesn't end with cat vomit on the carpet.  Sorry for the wonderful thought, but that's what we deal with here.      

We also grabbed this ice bucket for the downstairs bar.  I know, we haven't even started on the downstairs bar, but we couldn't pass it up.  Look at how cool it is.  It is mercury glass and has a great leather handle.  I don't think we will ever use it as an actual ice bucket, but it will look good on a shelf.  

And speaking of the bar, we picked up these excellent tile trim pieces at the ReStore.  We have never seen anything like them before.  They are ceramic tile covered with leather.  We picked them up for $0.50 a tile, which is a steal.  We looked up leather tile when we got home and found most tile priced around $4-$9 a tile, and we couldn't find any rounded trim pieces like these.  We don't have any exact plans for them, but we  knew we had to have them.  Maybe trim on the bar.  See all the cool stuff you can find at stores like the ReStore.

So not a lot of projects, but the start of decorating.  So what has everyone else been up to?  Do you love the Target clearance end caps as much as us?              

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Recap

It's the end of the month again.  Seriously, where are the months going?  They just seem to be flying by.  It will be Christmas before we know it.  If only we could slow down time just a little bit :-)

But since it's the end of the month, it's time for our monthly recap.  A look back of what we were able to accomplish this month.   

Prime Sun Room

My goal before it got too cold was to get the sun room primed.  I wished I could get it painted as well, but I knew that wasn't going to happen until next spring.  That's okay.  I have a little bit to finish up out there (pictures soon), but for the most part this can be crossed off the list.

Finish the upstairs bathroom bathtub

This one turned into a huge project.  We didn't anticipate having to replace the wall above the tub, but we had too.  Once that was done, it was smooth sailing.  We installed the waterproof stuff around the tub and then installed new trim, which I just finished painting!  Then we decided that since we would be caulking the new trim, we should probably re-caulk the whole tub.  If you have ever re-caulked anything, you know how unbelievable awful fun this can be.  It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.

Install the new fan and lights in the bathroom  

The upstairs fan didn't have a exhaust fan, so we added one!  It's so nice to have one upstairs now, hopefully it will take care of the mold problem we had in the bathroom before.  And with the addition of this fan, we got a new overhead light and night light.  Surprisingly, we use the nightlight every day.  It's lovely.

Install new outlets and switches in the bathroom

This was done the same day we installed the fan.  We figured if we were working on it, we might as well do everything.  I love our new rocker switches.  Now if only I could remember what all of them are for.  

Look for furniture for the sun room

Okay, so we haven't found any furniture for this room, but we've been looking and that's what our goal was.  We think we have it narrowed downed and it looks like a trip to Ikea.  I can't wait to have this room done.  It will be so nice to have a little escape from the world.  And J's parents have given us a little infrared heater to try.  If we like it and it keeps the room warm, we'll be investing in a more substantial one for out there (and maybe a fire place).

Paint the cafe table and chairs

Our little $25 table and chair investment is looking good.  We scraped her all down and then added a layer of hammered bronze and a little green.  It looks amazing.  We're currently in the process of finding a piece of round glass for the table.  We figure it will make the table more usable to have a flat surface.  

Decorate for fall

Oh yeah, this was an important one.  I love fall and I was more then happy to bring a little fall into the house.  And I wanted to bring in more then the dead leaves that were tracked in everyday (which the cat then ate and then preceded to vomit everywhere).  So I added some fun things here and there to celebrate autumn.  

Rake leaves and clean the gutters

Okay, this one was an actual important one.  We raked all the leaves to the street and then climbed up on the roof to clean out all the gutters.  We have a lot of trees around us, so this is an all day job.  I guess that's one of the downsides to living among the trees.  It's a dirty job, but one that has to be done.    

Not a bad list.  I'm pretty impressed with what we were able to accomplish this month.  And a big thanks to J's parents for helping us finish up the bathroom work.  
What did everyone else accomplish this month?  Did you have a lot of leaves to take care of every fall?  

*Side note: I'm feeling much better, thanks for all the get wells.  This last bug only seemed to last about 48 hrs, which I'm thankful for.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Window Shopping...again

Well, It looks like I'm getting sick again.  This whole getting sick every two weeks is getting real old.  I just got over the worst cold in the world, and now I feel like crap again.  This time it's GI related (that might have been too much info).  My stomach is angry at me all the time and I just want to sleep.  This has not been fun. We have so much that needs to get done around the house and all I want to do is nap.  Blah.

We have actually gotten things done (I didn't start to feel sick until Sunday) this past week.  We carved pumpkins, worked on the bathroom, worked on little projects, stained, etc.  I just haven't felt good enough to do any photoshopping (or even upload the pictures to my computer), so that will just have to wait.  :-(

But I do have some pictures from my last thrifting trip.  Not much, but a few things.  I haven't been to a thrift store in about a month, which is extremely strange for me.  I don't like to go a week without at least looking at what they might have.  But I headed up there the other day to see if they had any Halloween fall decorations left.  They didn't.  But they did have this lovely.

It's a skirt.  I thought it would make a fantastic Halloween costume, well part of one, hopefully there would be more. It has some interesting details and paired with leggings, it would make a cool addition to a costume.  Unfortunately, we didn't go out this year, so I didn't have need for a Halloween costume :-(

I also found these.

Were these donated as a pair?  Is there someone out there that collects different chairs?  Or did they just happen to have some one donate a dental chair and then someone else come with a hair drier chair?  I didn't even look to see what they were asking for these bad boys.  I love some of the stuff I find at our local Goodwill.

And this isn't from the thrift store, it was from Menards, but I still loved it.

It's a Christmas peacock.  Is that not the best Christmas decoration you've ever seen?  I saw it from a distance and was instantly drawn to it.  Seriously, I'm sure I looked like a child who comes across a cool toy.  It's amazing.

Look at that face.  I wanted it so bad, but I didn't really want to pay the $110 for him.  So after looking him over, I decided I could make something like this for a lot cheaper.  So my goal is to make an awesome peacock, challenge accepted.

I also found these fantastic industrial dinosaurs at Hobby Lobby.

I should have bought one that day, but I didn't I hesitated and now I'm kicking myself.  I'm hoping they still have some.  I want one so bad!!!!

And last but not least I have a sneak peek at little Yoda's handing out candy costume.

There is more to it, but this is her little purple mohawk.  She's not a huge fan of the mohawk, but she doesn't seem to mind the rest of costume.  She actually wore it for hours on Sunday.  This will be little Yoda's first year dressing up and handing out candy, I'm sure she's going to love it.

And all of use here are hoping all of our friends on the east coast are safe and sound. Stay safe everyone.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A little window shopping

I just got the new 2013 Ikea catalog.  Okay, okay, I didn't just get it, I've had it for a while.  But, I did just finally get some time to sit down and look at it.

I love Ikea.  Their stuff is so contemporary and fun, a perfect combination for our style.  And I love going through the catalogs and dreaming of buying everything I love.  Wouldn't that be fantastic?  Free range to grab anything and everything from the store.  Wonderful.

But alas, that will never happen.  And I only get a few chances a year to go to Ikea, since the closest one is a state over and 3+ hours away.  :-(  But maybe this is a good thing.  I would probably be there all the time buying candle holders and vases.

Here are a few of the things that I just adore in the new catalog.  I tried to organize them by rooms, but I also have some that I just want because they're fun.  Who doesn't have a list like that?

Well lets get started with the porch.

Whoa, can you say seating?  Well, that's the most important thing we're looking for right now.  So I picked out a lot of seating.  So what do we have here?

The Beddinge Lovas sofa bed would work great out there.  It's clean and modern, but it would also add some extra sleeping area for guests.  We love "camping" on the porch, so why wouldn't our guests?  I also love the Storsele high back chair (black), Byholma armchair (natural), and the Finntorp chair (white).  Any (or all) of these would make great seating options.  I can see myself relaxing, reading a book curled up in any of these chairs.  Love them all.  And for some added storage, what about that Aspelund 3 drawer chest, love it.

Now lets move on to the kitchen

I always love going through the kitchen section at Ikea, it's so fun and colorful.  I'm really loving those Overens plates.  The colors and the patterns are great.  And what about that great 365+ serving plate, come on that would be great for a party.   I could see some chips/crackers in there.  Simple, yet elegant.  I love the Foto pendent light.  We already have some great aluminium lights from Ikea in our kitchen, but I would love a set of these over the prep area.  And of course I'm always in love with the little 365+ Gunstig magnetic trivet.  I love that it sticks to your pans, so you don't have to worry about setting a hot pan down and ruining your counters or table.  It's a great idea.

Enough with the kitchen, lets look at the living room.
We don't need much for this room, but there are a few things that would be nice.  One is that Ursula throw.  I pick one up every time we go to Ikea.  I just love the idea of a cable knit throw, it just screams comfy.  We also need to replace our run in the living room.  We bought a cheap rug from Target when we bought the house.  It works, but it's stained and it's starting to look worn out (and it's only 2 years old).  So I think it's time we start looking for other options and the Alhede rug might be what we're looking for.  I like the high pile and the color.  Unfortunatly, I think it might be too small for the space.  I guess I should keep looking.  Yesterday, I talked about finding that right sofa table, well I thought if we didn't get around to making one this winter, maybe we could pick up one of these Vittsjo laptop tables.  It would fit in the space and it's only $40 bucks, so I wouldn't feel bad about getting rid of it after a year or so.  We'll see.

Decorating isn't the only thing I love Ikea for, I also love all there organizational items.  And I've vowed to get us organized again.

I have always love the Alex drawers.  They would be perfect in my studio to organize all my little stuff.  Someday I will own some of these.  We also need to organize the entry way closet.  Our shoes are just piled up, so I thought the Tjusig shoe rack would be perfect.  And for the little things the Dragan bathroom dish set (bamboo), the Forhoja boxes (wood), and the Bladis boxes (black) would be perfect.  The prefect way to keep all that little crap organized and out of sight.

And I always have my just because picks.  Things I'm not sure if I would ever buy or what exactly I would do with them, but I love them none the less.
It's usually a long list of rugs.  Ikea has some of the craziest rugs ever, I love them.  How about the Lappljung ruta rug, with it's crazy black and white design with just a hint of green?  Maybe for the porch.  And what about the Orsted rug with it's crazy multi colored shag?  I don't have anywhere to use this, but it is unbelievably fun.  I'm also loving the Bracke lantern, but I'm a sucker for lanterns (ask J).  And I have always longed over the Mongstad mirror.  I don't know what I would do with it, but I want it so bad.  Maybe the end of the hallway.  And the Angenam bowls.  I'm not normally a gold girl, but I do like these.  I've also been looking to upgrade my studio chair, so I thought the Gregor swivel chair would be great.  

So that is my dream list of Ikea stuff.  I have a lot more, but this list was based on the new catalog.  Someday I will own some of this stuff, I swear to you :-)

I also want to say that this was NOT a sponsored post.  Ikea did not pay me or send me anything to write this.  I just have an unusual obsession with Ikea.  I know, I have a problem, but I don't really want any help ;-)  Also, if Ikea would like to send me all any of the things I love, I would be more then happy to accept them.  Hint, hint, Ikea.

So are any of you guys as obsessed with Ikea as me?  Or do you think that they are overrated.  And do you make lists like this, a list of everything you would like from catalogs (I actually do this for most catalogs and have been doing it since I was a child)?  What are some of you favorite places to dream shop?          

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sofa Table

Today I was going to show you how the last little bit of the bathroom is coming along, that annoying 10% of things that need to be finished up, but I forgot to take pictures last night.  I know, bad blogger.  So I decided to talk about a small project we're hoping to work on this winter.  Okay, I'm hoping we're going to work on it this winter.  A much needed sofa table.

We have an open concept house, so when you walk into the house you are immediately in the living room, dining room, and are looking into the kitchen.  We don't have a foyer.  We don't have room for much of anything by the door and right now we have nothing.  This means that everything gets tossed on the dining room table and/or kitchen counter.  It's driving me insane.  We need a sofa table behind the sofa, next to the door and we need it soon.

Now our problem is the lack of space.  We only have about 13-20 inches of space to work with.  It's been a headache trying to find something that will fit into a narrow space, but is still long enough to make sense.

Our first thought was to look and see what Ikea had.  We found this one, which could work for the width, but it wasn't quite as long as we would like it.  Also, it's white.  Not a big deal, but if I'm going to spend any amount of money on something, even $200, I don't want to have to paint it.  So the search continued.

Thrift store after thrift store, and still no table that would work.  We even checked out all the local furniture stores.  Nada.

So after looking for ages we decided we would make one.  I mean why not?  Building our bathroom vanity really gave us the confidence to try and tackle a sofa table.  It can't be harder then a vanity.

Now we picked up this little guy at Target.  We love the simple lines and the color.  It goes perfectly with our style.

So our plan is to build a sofa table that looks a lot like this, but is shallower and longer, but we would like to mimic the X's, shelves, and possibly even the drawers.  Simple enough.

But before we could even get to this point...

Yes those are our highly sophisticated blue prints from the bathroom vanity.  Hey we both understood them and knew exactly what we needed to do.

.... I found this.

Isn't it beautiful?   I found it on the Ann White Homemaker blog (okay lets be honest, I found it on Pinterest).  It's perfect, it's a simple sofa table with X sides.  And the best part of it, Ann White has the step by step instructions for this table on her blog.  What?  Oh yeah, so now we don't have to start from scratch in designing a sofa table, we can use these instructions as a starting point.

Now I say starting point because the one above is a little too rustic for us.  We're looking for something more contemporary.  Which should be easy enough to accomplish.  We also need to adjust the depth of the table, but the idea is exactly what we were looking for.  I am so excited that we found this.  It's going to make the process a lot easier.

Now we just have to get our butts in gear and get working on this.  Well, we'll be waiting till J's done with class, or at least has a break (can you say Thanksgiving), before we start on this.  School always comes first.    Then hopefully by Christmas, we'll have a brand new sofa table.

Is there anything that you planned on DIYing and then found the plans somewhere, making life easier?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day two of projects

Last week I showed you how my first day of my mini vacation was spent, priming the porch.  And today I'll show you how I finished up that little vacation.  I was pretty excited with all the projects I got done and it gave me an opportunity to just forget about the lab for awhile.  So, it was time well spent in my eyes.

Let's take a look at all the things I got done.  Oh, I would like to apologize for the picture quality.  It was a miserable  rainy day, so most of the pictures are a little on the dark side.  Please forgive me :-)

First I touched up the trim in our bathroom.  We had a few pieces of trim that needed to be re-cut, so in turn, they needed to be repainted.  This was probably the easiest project of the day.

I also stained three more pieces of beadboard for the kitchen.  Here are all my supplies to get the job done.  I love the gel stain.  It took me a while to get used to working with it, but now I prefer it to other stains.

I use the method where you brush on the stain in nice even thin coats and just leave it.  You don't let it sit and then wipe the excess off with a rag.  In a way, you "paint" it on.  You just want to do it cleanly, because it is transparent and streaks will show.

And here is one of the pieces of beadboard finished.  How lovely.  Two of the pieces will go on the cabinet we installed early this year and the other will go next to the stove.

I also started painting the shelves that will go in our bedroom.  We will be using these little guys instead of night stands.  I can't wait to see them all together.

I'm using this Painter's Touch from Rust-oleum to paint them.  I really like this stuff.  It dries in about 2-4 hours and covers great.  I'll defiantly be using this in the future.

And speaking of painting, I finished my first coat of primer on the porch.

It looks so much brighter out there.  It always amazes me at how much a layer of paint can change something.  Now I can't wait to finish so I can start decorating out here.

Look at those pretty lights J installed.  We picked up the pair at the restore for $20 without an idea of what we were going to do with them (okay, we love lights, we have a slight problem).  J, using is engineering knowledge, turned these bad boys into plug in lights and we put them up on the porch.  It's wonderful having light out here.

Now all I need to do is apply a second coat of primer (I only stopped because I ran out of primer) and then two coats of paint and all the trim paint.  So, I'm almost done out here ;-)

Well I'm off.  This week, oncology is interviewing for a faculty position and us lab folk have to fill time by taking all the candidates out for lunch.  Not really something I want to do, but I guess it's part of the job.  So my week will be filled with long scientific talks and awkward lunches.  Sounds like fun!

What did you guys do over the weekend?  Have you ever taken a "vacation" to do work?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day One of Projects

Today is day one of my little "vacation" and during this time I plan on getting a lot of the small projects that we've been putting off done.  I know, it doesn't really sound like that great of a vacation, but it really is.  Work has been so unbelievably stressful the last couple months, I just needed a little time at home to do some of the things I love.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my job, but sometimes it can be more then I can handle.  For the sake of my sanity, I need this break.

I want to apologize for the picture quality.  It's is a dreary day and I was unable to get any natural lighting for these.  The perfect day to get things done around the house.  

It's been quite the productive day so far.  I've added a little more of that autumn feel to the house.

We picked up this candle holder from Bed, Bath, and Beyond a couple weeks ago for $10 on the clearance table.  Then I added a lovely candle ($4) and some leaf garland ($6) from Hobby Lobby.  It's the perfect fall centerpiece.

I also added the extra leaf garland to the top of the entertainment center for now. I kinda like how they look up there.  They give the whole room a cozy feeling.

I also finally got around to painting my little gourds.  I'm not sure if I'm fully sold on the colors, but I'm going to give them a chance.  I like the idea of adding the dark blue to traditional colors, so maybe they'll grow on me.

And speaking of painting, I am also working on getting the sun porch painted.  I know I started this project weeks ago, but it was put on hold when J and I both got that awful cold.  So now I'm back to it.

I'm actually taking a break from the fumes to write this.  The oil based primer covers so much better then the water based, but it is so much more stinky.

And for bathroom projects, I picked up this little guy at Goodwill for 49 cents.  A little coat of blue spray paint and he's perfect for the bathroom.

This morning, I also installed a shelf above the toilet in the upstairs bathroom.  This is another thing that I'm not 100% sure of .  I might want to raise it a bit, but I'm not sure.  I'll show you everything we've done in the bathroom next week and maybe you can help me decide where the shelf should go.

Well I should return to painting the sun room.  I have about half of it left to do and I'd like to get it done today.  Paint time!