Friday, January 31, 2014

Valentines Day craft

I haven't been active this week because I've had the crud.   My hubby brought this home from his latest work travel and was so nice to share.  But I'm back today and I've got an easy, I mean really easy Valentines day craft (or any day craft) to share!

The materials you will need:

Canvas - I bought mine at Hobby Lobby for $6.99 plus 40% off - more on that to come.
Wood block letters
Wood block shapes
Craft glue
White (or any color) craft paint
Craft paint sponge or a brush

Step one - decide what you are going to say - you can say anything! 
Step two - decide where you want it on the canvas.

I chose to do a Valentines Day one so I wrote 'Love' with a heart for the O. 
You could do this for any holiday or say write 'Food' or 'EAT' or anything and place it in your kitchen.  How cool would that look. 

Step 3 - Glue your letters, numbers, shapes down onto the canvas with craft glue.
Step 4 - Paint!  I decided to paint it all white, but you could paint your letters any color - if you want your saying a different color, I would paint the saying first, then while drying paint the canvas.  Then glue the saying down on the painted canvas.  Again, I chose all white.

Step 5 - Let it dry and step back and take a look at your masterpiece!
Easy right!
The best thing is there are many options you could do with this. 
You could take your glue and, if you have a steady hand, you could free-hand write things or draw a design with your glue, let it dry then paint over it.  When I was making this, my glue was being gloppy and not coming out in a nice stream so I decided against doing a design or also writing things with the glue.  My original idea was to make a large heart with glue then write 'Love' inside it using block letters and then write it again inside the heart using just glue.  Because of how my glue was acting I chose to do this easier idea instead. 
I also bought a natural canvas and glued the word 'Love' down.  I am not going to paint it but leave it natural.  I may add wood hearts that I will paint red or pink. 
Tips - use craft glue that dries clear to glue the letters to the canvas. 
When you shop at Hobby Lobby did you know that they offer a 40% off any non sale item every day?  They do!  If you have a smart phone download the Hobby Lobby free app and get the coupon.  Every week there is a new 40% off coupon.  You don't need to print it, if you have your phone just show it to the clerk when you pay.  If you don't have a smart phone you can go to and get the coupon, though you will have to print that one. 
The best thing about this craft other than being pretty inexpensive is that you can write or create anything!  Let your imagination run wild. 
Next week I'll be sharing my Valentine decorations and another easy V'day craft. 
Have a great weekend. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Butter Cookies

First let me warn you.  Personally, I find these cookies very addictive and could eat them all in one sitting.  You may find yourself in the same situation. 

When I first came across this recipe I thought, 'I won't like these, but they sound easy so I'll make them as gifts.' Yes, that is me, I won't like them but I'll give them out to other people. 
But let me tell you why I thought I wouldn't like these cookies - cream cheese.  I am not a fan, never have been.  I just don't like the taste in any way shape or form.  My family aren't fans either so I figured that there was no way any of them would eat these, unless.... Unless I didn't tell them what was in them till after they tried them. 

So that was my evil plan, make these easy cookies, give them in tins with other cookies as gifts and maybe save a few for the family to try. 

We love them.  They are soft, buttery and great with coffee or tea in the morning, afternoon or for a late night snack. 

Color me surprised! 

Trust me these are easy and when you see the ingredients you'll be shocked. 

Butter cookies

1 box of Duncan Hines butter cake mix
1 stick of butter - melted
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 package of cream cheese - softened or melted - I used fully leaded plain cream cheese
1 egg

Powdered sugar for rolling and dusting. 

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  (It is best if the cream cheese is really soft or somewhat melted to mix thoroughly)
Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.  (It can be chilled overnight)

Roll the dough into small balls, then roll them in powdered sugar. (You can make the balls as large or small as you want - obviously the smaller the balls, the smaller the cookie and you'll get more out of the recipe).

This is a VERY sticky dough.  Even after refrigerated be prepared, it is so moist and sticky that I used powdered sugar on my hands and even then the dough was sticking to me.

Place the balls on a sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes.  The balls do spread a bit so be careful not to place them too close together on the cookie sheet.  After baking remove to a cooling rack. 
Dust with more powdered sugar and enjoy! 

Let me know if you try these and how you liked them.  You don't taste the cream cheese so if you aren't a fan, like me, still give these a try. 
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You've got some explaining to do..

Yes, I do have some explaining to do. 

Whenever my husband goes out of town or takes a bromance break with his guys, I change something in the house.  Sometime it is just re-arranging furniture, sometime I paint and there are times when I do dramatic changes. 

Like the time he spent 7 days in Moab, UT, with his friends riding ATV's and biking.  Then I took off all the kitchen cabinets and painted them white.  Usually he expects something to be changed or done when he comes home.  Heck, a year ago right after Thanksgiving I went to the grocery store and came home to our hall bathroom gutted to the studs, so he really has no room to complain or talk! 

I guess that is one of the many reasons we've been married for 25 years! 

So this is the change I made this time... remember my boring stairway to the basement? 

Well I changed this up a bit. 

Looks better don't you think?  I do.  I had gathered some pictures and got prints by Klimt for Christmas and went to the dollar store and bought some frames.  I also hit up Hobby Lobby for a clock on sale 1/2 off and a couple of frames at 60% off. 

Then I started to hang.

First I decided what pictures I wanted together, what shapes and sizes of frames I wanted together and then just started to hang.  That is when my daughter told me that I can't just go willy nilly hanging thing, I've got to have a plan. 
So to appease the type A planner that volunteered to help me, we planned.  We laid the pictures out that we wanted together then just transferred it from the floor to the wall.  She measured and leveled but we did get them all up in about an hour and a half. 

I really didn't follow any rules to hang the pictures and mirrors.  There is no theme other than things I like.  There are mirrors, postcards, prints, pictures I've taken, a clock, maps, drawing of architectural interest, a bird feather and a cobblestone street.  I followed the stairs up at an angle when hanging mixing large and small frames together. 

Lets see what the hubby says when he gets home.  It took him 2 days to notice the brown cabinets were white but I bet he notices this right away! 

Have you ever hung pictures to make a gallery?  I'd love to see yours! 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Removing wallpaper

As promised here is how to put up and remove wallpaper correctly. 

I love wallpaper but it is something that you get what you pay for.  Cheap wallpaper is thin and doesn't clean well.  Wallpaper can be a fairly inexpensive way to change the look of a room and with all the different kind that you can select at different price points there is wallpaper out there for you.

After you have selected your wallpaper please, please, do yourself a favor and get a can of wallpaper sizing and paint it on your wall where you want to put your wallpaper. 

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!  Wallpaper sizing will save your life when you are ready for a change and want to remove said wallpaper.  Otherwise wallpaper can be a real, beeoch to remove.  There is scraping, hand held steamers, scoring and finally damaged walls and cost. 

This is probably why people dread removing wallpaper or even putting it up.  I am here to tell you, if you do the sizing step and paint it on your walls where you are putting the paper, it will make the removal easy. 

I want to remove the wallpaper boarder from my kitchen.  It was old, pealing and outdated.  Prior to putting it up I painted the sizing on the walls so I knew it would be relatively easy to take down.

You will need:  Spray bottle of water or a bucket of water and a sponge, flat scraping tool and time.  I used warm water so my hands wouldn't get cold but you can use cold water too.  The temperature of the water isn't important. 

This is what the boarder looked like originally. 
I grabbed the section here in the corner where you can see it was peeling and gently pulled...
For the most part the pretty wallpaper came off in large sheets but sometime my daughter and I had to pick at it and wet it so it would come off in large sheets. 

You can see above that the front came off and left the back or the glue part of the paper on the walls. 

After 30 minutes we had successfully pulled all the 'front' of the wallpaper off the walls.

You can see the yellowish backing on the wall above the shelf in the above picture. 

Next - this is when you want to use your spray bottle or sponge and water.  You need to get the backing left really, really wet.  Then you scrape it off using the flat putty knife.  The wetter the better. and in most cases the backing will easily scrape right off and in some cases will come off in large sheets. 
This step did take longer as I was working over my head and on a ladder but I got half of the backing off in 30 minutes. 

The best part?  It comes off clean and there is no damage to the wall. 

The only bad part, the wallpaper and the backing ends up everywhere and there's a bit of clean-up to do.
Off course the dogs wanted to be in the kitchen while my daughter and I were removing the wallpaper so they tracked it all over the house! 

The moral of this story - wallpaper is an easy and fairly cheap way to decorate but you really need to paint the wallpaper sizing onto the wall first!  TRUST!  You will thank me later. 

Next steps here in the kitchen.... I want to get beadboard and put it on the soffit's above the cabinets along with some thick trim.  Then paint the uppers and the beadboard the same color.  Hopefully it will give the illusion of tall cabinets.  I need a long kitchen rug and I need to choose a backsplash (I'm thinking stainless steel subway tiles).  Then just paint, yes I still need to talk the hubby into my paint choices... oops I mean I still need to choose paint.  Yeah that's it... tee heee!

Have a great Monday! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Part 2 House idea book and kitchen issues

My kitchen has issues, big issues.  Some I don't know if I want to live with any longer. 

Lets start with wall paper.  When we first moved here I was excited to live in an area where people do things outside.  I wanted to bring the outside in and I fell in love with this wall paper boarder. 

 As you can see below it is starting to pull away from the wall at the corners.  I still do really like this wall paper.  The colors, the flowers, pansies are one of my favorite flowers and the rustic feel of it overall.
But it needs to come down. 

Don't get me wrong, I love wall paper, it is a cost effective way to change the look of a room and with all the great options out there you can't really go wrong with wall paper.  But, as anyone will tell you, taking it down can be labor intensive and very damaging to your walls.... ahhh but nooo because I have a secret. 

If you ever put up wall paper be kind to yourself and the possible next owner of your house and buy a can of 'wall paper sizing'.  You paint it on your walls prior to putting up your wall paper.  It looks milky when you paint it on the walls but I am here to tell you it is worth this step and cost.  You just roll it on where you are going to put the wall paper, let it dry and then put up your paper. 

When I take this wall paper down this weekend you will see that there will be no scraping, no damage to my walls and for the most part the wall paper will come off in a single sheet!  Yes!  Trust me!  I may need to use a squirt bottle or wet the paper first but it will come off easy peasy!  Check back on Monday to see the beauty before your eyes! 

Here is what I'm thinking of doing in my little kitchen for now, paint.  I painted the cabinets white years ago to try and make this little kitchen look bigger.  I do not, DO NOT, like the white.  I am constantly cleaning the cabinets because they show every bit of dirt.  I guess we are just not that neat a family. 

So here is what I am thinking.... light gray uppers, dark gray lowers OR gray/beige uppers and lighter blue lowers.  The walls I am thinking green either way, if, IF and that is a big IF, I can talk the hubby into it.  He looked at the swatches I picked out and was like 'Ok' but to the green he shook his head, he just doesn't like it. So if I can't talk him into it I may need to choose another color.   

Distance (SW 6243)
Hearts of Palm (SW 6415) the one the hubby just doesn't like.

Mindful Gray (SW 7016)
Next to the black, Gibraltar (SW6257) and in order going right:
Serious Gray (SW6256), Morning Fog (SW 6255), Lazy Gray (SW 6254), Olympus White (SW 6253) and Ice Cube (SW 6252)

I think they all look great together.
  These are all SW(Sherwin Williams) paint. 

Now what you should always do before you paint... get a sample quart or whatever sample kind the store will provide you (for a small fee off course) and paint it in your room or on a board or something.  Paint it in several areas.  Look how the light, both natural and man made, reflect and change the colors. You also need to look at how each color interacts with the other colors you have in the room or with the other paint colors you've chosen... Example:   If you look in the top photo the Mindful Gray, it looks very gray when I hold it against the white cabinet but if you look at it down here with the other colors it looks more beige than gray.  You can also see that since the strip of gray I chose has a blue base, when the strip is next to the blue color (Distance) the colors look more blue, especially the 3rd one up - Serious Gray (it is the 2nd one in the bottom photo as I covered the black piece).  Live with the sample painting for a week at least so you can see how it looks and how you like it.  Paint is relatively cheap but it can be time consuming to paint then find out you don't like it and have to prime then paint again. 

As I explained in Wednesday's blog I keep a house wish or idea book.  Think of it as a manual or very low tech Pintrest.  I have all the paint cards of what we've painted in this book as well as thing I like and why.
 This picture is my original inspiration for my kitchen.  It is a similar size except my refrigerator and then garage door are next to the dishwasher, but when we do remodel I may do this cabinet idea there as I'll move the refrigerator to another wall.  I still like so many things about this kitchen. 
 I even wrote what I like and what I don't about the room.  Even 7 years ago when I wrote this I thought it was too much white! 
I keep all the sample paint chips used in the house here though I don't glue them in but I do write on the back where the paint belongs and if it is flat, semi-gloss, satin etc. 

This is a great idea for me, I take this when we do go shopping for things and when we finally re-model our kitchen I'll have things to look back on and show the designer.  To me this is much easier than showing someone Pintrest on my phone or trusting I've got cell service or best yet, using my internet minutes if there isn't free Wi-Fi!!! 

What are you up to this weekend?  Have you or are you planning on using wall paper in your house?  Don't forget my tip, trust me you will thank me in 5 years when you want to take it down!  Come back on Monday and see how I got the wall paper boarder down - I am telling you it will be EASY a 30 minute tops project!  TRUST. 
Till Monday have a safe, happy and great weekend... oh and


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kitchen envy and my house wish book.

I want to re-do my kitchen.  I've wanted to since we moved into our house.  Seventeen years later, you guessed it, the kitchen is still about the same as when we moved in. 

Other things have come up.  Braces, broken legs, broken jaws, family vacations and hardwood floors are just a few of the things that jumped to the top of the list and my kitchen has suffered for it, suffered horribly. 

The kitchen is small, 8X12 maybe and the cabinets were dark, the countertops are old white laminate and the kitchen was cut off from the rest of the house.  I say was because there used to be a wall between the kitchen and dinning are but one day I got a wild hair and got my husband to punch a hole in the wall in an effort to take it down.  That is why I love him and one of the reasons we've been married for 25 years.  I say, "how about blah, blah, blah" and he says "OK!"  Well the wall is load bearing, it is holding up the kitchen ceiling.  So now we just have a large 'picture window' in the wall.  But the kitchen is still cut off, small and old.  The cabinets are very country with knobs on them.  In an effort to make the kitchen look bigger I painted them white.  If you look by the refrigerator you will see a plank of bare wood on the uppers. 
We bought a new refrigerator, well we bought 2, the first was a nice stainless steel double door with the freezer on the bottom.  We got the smallest one that was sold and it was till too big for the space.  So we took it back and the only one that we 'thought' would fit was this white, freezer on the side one. 

That didn't work out either as the refrigerator is about 5 inches too big.  My husband cut cabinets ad countertops, moved the dishwasher over as well as the upper small cabinet.  To fill in the space he put a piece of plywood.  It's never been painted. 

My dreams for our kitchen. 

1 - remove the wall  between the kitchen and dinning room.  To do this we will either need to remove the drop ceiling or put up a new header beam.
2 - remove the soffit that runs along the top of the cabinets.  If we can't do this I want to add paneling and molding to make it look like the cabinets go all the way to the ceiling. 
NOW - if we remove the drop ceiling we've got other issues.... we would then have to remove the soffit and most likely the upper cabinets would need to be replaced.  I would settle for a new header and keeping the ceiling, whichever is more cost effective. 
3 - New countertops - ours are just YUCK. 
4 - Ideally I would gut the kitchen and start over, take it down to the studs but money wise that isn't always possible. 

I love designer Sarah Richardson.  She is amazing and even if I don't like the style, I love her outcomes.  These are my favorites to date.  Ah gray I am in love with you lately.  I would add a bit more color here, possibly orange.  Love the lantern light fixtures and the dark island. 

This next one by Sarah is a bit lighter but I like the two toned uppers and the beige lowers.  I might put those beige ones on my uppers...

Now this last one may work for my kitchen because it is about the same size... small.  BUT if we can open up the wall I could run cabinets a ways down into the dining room.  Ah to dream! 

Now to do a new kitchen or a new anything you have to sort of pick a style.  Herein lies my problem.  I've talked before that I have decorating A.D.D. there is something about every style that I like.  I try to find the commonality in my selections but I like country, industrial, mid century modern, what I call the California style, Italian, French Country and even some traditional.  So I browse web sites like Houzz - have you ever looked at  If you haven't be careful, it is as addicting as Pintrest and it is all rooms.
I also look at rooms in movies.  I love the kitchen from 'It's Complicated'

  I like the idea of the arch in my kitchen if we can't remove the wall and go with the header beam idea.  Love the lighting and the stove.  I love the dinning table and chairs.  Really other than the floor, I'd prefer wood, there isn't anything I don't like here! 

I am a far, far away from any of these kitchens but I can dream. 
So I've got a wish book that I keep.  I print pictures and keep them in a sketch book.  I make notes as to the date and what I like and love and even what I don't like about each kitchen, living or other room I print out.  I also have fabric swatches in this book as well as drawings of ideas and paint strips in there as well.   This is my wish for the house book and I keep adding and as my tastes change, I even cross out but never remove them.  After all I chose them at one time for a reason and though those reasons may not work for me now they may in a year or two. 
Do you have a house or room wish book??  If not you should start one.  I go through it weekly and I'm amazed to see how my tastes change but stay the same.  It helps me see that while I may have decorating A.D.D there is a common theme in everything I like and like a haircut I can take bits and pieces of each picture and put it together to make what I love and what works for me.  The book helps me focus and visualize what I want in each room and it helps my hubby see what I'm thinking of in my head.  I source items in the pictures and write down the websites and costs.  This helps me keep a budget in mind and allows me to try and locate the same items at a cheaper price.  Like the dining table above, it is an antique and you can buy one similar, at 9 foot long for around 5K, yes FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!  CRAZY.  But, could one be made?  Could I get one from another maker that is the same shape and stain it to this color - you bet!  Probably at well less than half the price! 
So go and buy a sketch book or even a cheap composition book from Wal-Mart and start printing, clipping and idealizing those rooms! 
Have a great rest of your week. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Easy potato soup

I love love, love potatoes.  I can eat them anyway you fix them. 

I really like this recipe because you can make it as decadent or as light as you want.  Plus, what a perk, it is EASY!

You will need:

Crock pot
4 large or 6 small potatoes - OPTIONAL
1 block of cream cheese (you can substitute light or low fat cream cheese)
3 cans of low sodium chicken broth OR 2 cans of chicken broth and 1 cup of half and half
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 bag of frozen cubed potatoes - hash browns.
1TBSP pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 an onion minced or 2 TBSP onion powder
3 garlic cloves minced or 2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt - I used Kosher
1 small bag of shredded cheese - I used sharp
Some bacon bits - you could always fry your own bacon then cut it up
Fried onion rings
Croutons or other topping (Sour cream etc.)

Let's start with the prep. 
I softened the cream cheese in the microwave first, but you don't have to. 
If you are going to use real potatoes, clean, peal and dice these potatoes and throw them in the crock pot.
Add:  cream cheese, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, garlic and onion. 
Cook on medium in the crockpot for 2 -4 hours till the cream cheese is melted and the real potatoes are just about fork done. 
Add the frozen diced hash brown potatoes
Continue to cook for 2 more hours or until a fork goes through the real potatoes easily. 
If you are not using the real potatoes - combine all the ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  It can go all day but be careful the potatoes may start to get mushy. 
To serve, add a spoonful (or 2 or 3) of shredded cheese, bacon bits, croutons and or fried onion rings.  You can also add a dollop of sour cream. 

It is very hearty and good.  I served it with bread and salad. 
You could make this dish heartier with carrots or seafood such as shrimp or clams. 
I like the idea that you can make it richer with substituting  1cup of half and half for one of the cans of chicken broth.  If you want the soup thicker use only 2 cans of chicken broth. 
You can add salt and pepper to taste at the table. 

I hope you try this on a cold day.  Let me know how you like it! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Link party with

Hi and welcome!

I'm linking up with today to share how to clean your flatware. 

I am new to the blogging world so my site isn't all fancied up yet but I hope you enjoy what you read! 

Click here to see my post about cleaning your flatware... mine was rusty, yep RUST!  YUCKO.

You can also get links on my facebook page - Dragonflies and Thistles! 

I hope you enjoy.


Ugly rust on my flatware

If you've been reading you know that I am on a cleaning kick lately.  I guess it is just habit in January when I'm stuck in the house to clean, clean, clean.  This is why I could never be a stay at home Mom.  I take my hat off to anyone who does this very important job but for me, who grew up in a cluttered home, I'd be batty.  I'd never let anyone make a mess and well, kids need to be messy!  But in January I've been on a cleaning binge. 

Last night I looked over my everyday flatware.  It gets run through the dishwasher  a lot and when I looked at it closely I saw, well, RUST!  Now the set we use wasn't that expensive it was only around $40.00 but still I feel like I wasted forty dollars that I could have allocated to something else.  RUST! 

I searched online to see what could be done and I came across a link that said lemon juice would take care of this problem.  Well, I've got lemon juice on hand so I thought I'd give it a try and guess what.....


I know, I was astonished as well, I mean it is just lemon juice.  Then I thought about it.  Lemon juice does have acids in it and I guess those acids eat the rust. 

What you'll need....

Flatware - I wouldn't use this tip on good real silver because I am not sure how the lemon juice will interact with the silver.  I know it won't take tarnish off.
Lemon Juice - I used a Wal-Mart brand
Glass - I used a clear plastic one.  You just need a tall one, any color, I used clear for demonstration purposes.

I started with my knives because they seem to be the worse.

See the spots there - RUST!
So again, here is what you will need...
Lemon Juice and a glass.
I filled the lemon juice up to where it was dirty on the knives.  

 After 5 minutes I flipped them over
Then I took them out one by one and dried them with a tea towel.  I DID NOT rinse them or do anything extra. 
Next I tackled the fork and spoons.  The spoons only seemed to be spotty and rusted on the handles. 

The forks seemed to be rust on the flat part before the tongs. 
Hopefully you can see that with these photo's.. trust me they were RUST - UGLY brown spots!

After 5 minutes on each side I wiped them all down with a tea towel, I did not rise them.  What amazed me was not only did the rust come off (there were a few that I had to soak longer) but they now SHINE!

Even some gross old food particles came off!  If you have water spots on your flatware or any dishes, glasses etc... well I hate to tell you but those aren't really water spots.  They are miniscule bits of food from other dishes that got blasted off in the dishwasher and landed on that item!  YUCK right!!

Try this trick on your own flatware, it really works!  Again, your soak time may vary depending on the level of rust you have on your flatware but try it cause it REALLY WORKS!

 I hope everyone has a great weekend.  I'm off to Hobby Lobby and Michael's on Saturday to find Valentine's day crafts.  I also will continue my search for an entryway storage unit so I'm off to The Salvation Army, Goodwill and a couple of antique and 2nd hand stores.  Wish me luck!
Have a safe and happy weekend.  Till Monday!