Monday, January 30, 2012

$10 Driftwood

So the week before last I was gone all week in Gatlinburg, TN remember? While there Rob and I decided to hit up this GIANT flea market they had by the interstate. 99.99% of the stuff in the market was total crap. You know where they sell weird Chinese stuff that didn't make it to normal stores, ugly 90's quilts with deer on them, 7589475 pairs of cheap socks, etc? It's just junk. We were totally disappointed. We NEVER find cool stuff when we thrift out of our city. 

Well. as we were leaving and I was pouting, we saw a tent area to the side of the main market. Inside we found this high school kid surrounded by driftwood all thrown around on cheap folding tables. He fishes them out of the Tennessee river behind his house. I went and looked at them, not thinking of buying anything because normally driftwood is crazy pricey. Rob asked though and we ended up getting two hunks of driftwood for $10 total. TOTAL STEAL!

The first one the kid had already poly-ed. We put it at the head of our stair landing next to our master bedroom. That bookshelf is mega cheap and it needs art above it but I love how organic the wood is. The lighting is a bit wonky since the sun can't shine on our stairwell, but you get the idea.

If you look closely, you can see kerf marks that beavers made while chomping. :)

The second piece is un-polyed. It's not even very clean but it looks like flowing water.

I put it on the living room dresser. So much texture!

I think it looks a bit like a ring wraith's hand too. 

Anyone else a fan of driftwood? 

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Linking to:

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia Tuesday Treasures

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Love Spoon

I got some things in the mail this weekend from my Great Great Aunt. Most of it was cool silver jewelry of hers from the past (the way way past), but she also sent us a love spoon??

The tag says it is hand carved from Wales. It's a traditional welsh gift and depending on the pattern of the handle, it means different things.

I don't know what ours means, but it's pretty neat! I hung it on a tiny wall in the kitchen in between the bathroom and mancave. 

Thanks Elanor!

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Simple Classic Beef Stew.

I'm not much of a cook. I like to bake, but cooking is a bit frustrating because I am not very inventive... I like the same tastes over and over again, I don't add anything or tweak the recipe! So I love it when I finally get something right. 

That said, this recipe for Beef Stew was impossible for me to find. I really wanted classic southern beef stew... like the taste of biting into a fresh roast. Everything I searched for was too thick, too runny, had weird stuff like thyme in it, used red wine, used mushrooms (ew), and other yuck things. In the end, I mixed Rob's mom's, my Nana's, and the Pioneer Woman's recipes to get our favorite one. This is SIMPLE beef stew. It has simple everyday ingredients so it's easy, and it's filling to boot. One recipe makes about 4 servings. More if you are dainty eaters. Rob and I are two helpings kinda people though... I say that as I jiggle dorito belly.

- Half a small videlia onion. Or "sweet yellow onion" if your grocery is politically correct.  
- carrots, the fresh baby kind. Half a small bag maybe?
- about 2 pounds of roast meat. Can be pre-cubed, rump roast, chuck roast, etc. 
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 beef bouillon cubes
- 3/4 cup pearled barley (makes it hearty, you can add more of less, won't affect the flavor) It's in the same aisle as bags of pinto beans, split peas, etc.
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- dash of sugar
- copious amounts of salt

Cook in a covered pan/dutch oven/3qt pot on medium. The whole stew takes about 2-3 hours to get done. Only 20 mins of prep time though, the rest is just leaving it to simmer on the stove (or crock pot). 

I'm not your doctor. Don't fuss if salt is bad for you. I'm sure crack is worse ;)

Okay so brown your onions in a 3 qt saucepan with the canola oil. If you're making it with veggies like carrots, add those in right now too. I didn't have carrots when I made this and I didn't feel like running to the store. It tastes fine without it. 

While that is browning, slice up your beef into tiiiiny little cubes. Like so:

Then once the onions are floppy and brown, add in your beef and the teaspoon of flour and brown that as well. Don't worry about the insides of the beef, just get the outsides brown.  At this point dump in a few teaspoons of salt.

While that is browning, start preparing your bouillon cubes per the instructions on your bouillon package. For mine, 1 cup of boiling water + 1 cube = 1 cup beef broth. You need 3, so add 3 cubes to 3 cups of boiling water.

Watch the cubes fizzle as they dissolve. YAY bubbles!!

 Okay. The cubed beef should be browned now so dump in the broth now.

Stir that up and keep it boiling. Pour in another few teaspoons of salt. I don't measure the salt at all honestly, I just dump until I start to worry about diabetes. Now it is time for the barley. You need pearled barley. It's like $1.50 for a bag that will last you 6 stews. Cheap.

Scoop up 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of it and pour it in the saucepan.

Add more salt. You think I'm kidding with the salt? It is vital. Now your stew should be looking like this with the pearled barley all sunk down to the bottom. It will rise as it fattens up and turns soft.

Now we add the garlic powder. Taste the pot liquor to see how it's going after the garlic has been added. Does it need more salt? Most likely it does. Muahaha. It also needs something else...

 Just a pinch though!!! Less than 1/4 teaspoon. It helps make the pepper, salt, and garlic stand out.

Let the whole pot simmer for a few hours now.

Midway along you might need to add another cube. I usually do. I just plop the cube in the stew mix at this point though. It doesn't need any more liquid! You're trying to get it to thicken up as it boils over time.

When it looks good and thick to your liking and the pearled barley is swollen and floating, try out the beef cubes. Make sure they're cooked inside to your satisfaction.

 Now you can nom it all gone! Yummmm. Nothing better on cold nights... except chili. And since it doesn't have a bunch of weird ingredients you're pretty much SURE that any guests will like it as well. Take it from me, your guests don't want rosemary and thyme in their food if they're southern. Blergh. My recipe is simply the best ;)

Lemme know if you try it out!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Breakfast Table Redo... in progress as well.

We are midway through a lot of stuff right now, but not finished with anything. That's how it goes, I start stuff then have trouble finishing it. 

We bought our breakfast table at the local restore for $5. It was in rough shape, the top seal was flaking off and covered in stains. 

The green is either wax... or a whole lot of congealed boogers.

So, I slapped some of this on it:

And now it looks like this:

I was too lazy to take my sweaters off the chair. The chairs still need their makeover but that will come after the table! I got them for $3 each from Goodwill. They look rough but I have faith! :)

All I did was a half ass sand with a sanding block, and then slather on the primer with a cheap $1 chip brush then sand again til smooth.

Better. It will be even better with paint. I won't lie, I primed it back in December... it has sat like this for a month. I would be ashamed but everyone knows I am lazy and slow anyways.

The boogers are now frosted :)

I am painting it Honeymilk by Valspar like the dining room table. I put the first coat on sunday afternoon. I'm using honeymilk solely because we bought a gallon of it and it's not going away as fast as I thought. Freeeeeee paint wins.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Progress on the Flooring

Woooo! Vacation was awesome. We spent all last week in a condo in Pigeon Forge. Obviously since it's January it was frickin ass cold the whole time so we used that as an excuse to never be outside :) I know the scenery in the smokies is awesome but so is a heated pool and hot tub when you don't have one at home! Plus, I got to spend a day at MagiQuest-- I've wanted to do that FOREVER but no one ever thought I was serious. 22 year olds can't be magi???! 

My wand was totally bitchin' ;) 

We also went go-karting. I beat Rob on our second round. He was less than pleased when I lapped him and then flipped him off as I was zooming past. Then he was a sore loser and sulked. Muahaha. 

Anyways, it's been a while since my last post on the flooring in the guest room. I warned you that we were going SLOWLY, remember? Okay so be very thrilled at our snail pace so far:

No comments from the peanut gallery on my christmas tree box.

Looking nice.

We decided to put the flooring into the walk in closets on either side of the room too.

Rob has since worked out how to fill those gaps, but they stumped him for a week or so.

It's fairly easy to leave be for a few nights. We just (sorry, Rob just) leaves the sticky tape coverings on so dust and stuff doesn't mess up the glue.

The yellow patches on the floor are wood filler. Our subfloor is less than perfectly flat and the seams between the plywood is noticeable. The woodfiller smooths over the transition better. We're using joint compound now that Rob used my WHOLE $6 container of wood filler. Joint compound is $2 a bucket. Cheaper at the rate he's going. Plus it seems to work a bit better surprisingly. 

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Anyone Know How to Install This? Got a Dishwasher!

(If you have eagle eyes you might notice my Christmas tree still up. Klassy). 

Again, I am loved. My Nana got a new stainless steel dishwasher for christmas so she gave me her old one. It's black (like the rest of our appliances), but it's about 10 years newer, name brand, has 2 spinners, more room inside, and most importantly, it's QUIET! It also looks a bit sleeker and more modern compared to the old one behind it in the picture. Our current one is an off-brand Roper. It works okay, we can't leave chunky dishes in it and expect it to come clean...  but it's so loud we only run it when we're about to leave the house.

Only problem is that we don't really know how to swap them out. We also don't feel like paying a $150 service fee to have some professional come do it either. Youtube videos to the rescue?! Anyone done this before and can convince me we won't flood our house if we attempt it ourselves??

On a personal note: ugh! Anyone else glad hump day is over?!. This week has been frantic-- I've cried about 4 times in the last few days! I am setting up my classes for this semester at EKU, which is causing drama because I need overrides for everything, which means standing in lines for hours. I was in a middle school geometry class... but I corrected the teacher and then I was refused my override. I don't know if those are connected. I was totally right though, and I said it in a nice way!! The other classes will be really good though, I'm excited! If you missed the memo I mentioned a few months ago, I'm going to back to school to pick up a masters in teaching! :)

Rob and I had a huge blow out with the local sewer company too. I went in to get a credit to our account we were told they would give us... only to be treated like dirt and belittled by fat old redneck witches. I am the worlds most pathetic person too because when I get upset I start crying uncontrollably. Plus I get the snubs and swollen eyes. It's not good if you're trying to hold your ground to evil people and can't stop the snot from pouring down your face at the same time!! I am not badass with swollen eyes. I had to call in reinforcements (aka my Nana) and she shamed them into acting right. Yes, I am an adult 22 year old. Hear me roar!

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Goals... But Not Really

I'm not one for making resolutions. I am flawless so I don't need improvement ;) haha. But I do have an idea of things to tackle this year. I will probably not do any of them, just to warn you. I am all over the place and I already have a mile long list of things to finish. Oh well. It's the intention that's more important.

--In life, I want to make sure that Rob and I go back to England this year. This is fairly attainable. One of his best friends is getting married and he's desperate to be there for the stag parties (bachelor).

--In life, I want to go to Universal Studios, Harry Potter world-- and roadtrip it down there. This goal may or may not be influenced by the above picture from Kings Cross Station in London ;) I am willing to also use one of the $79 budget flights to the Bahamas from Lexington, KY. 

--In my home, I want to learn to love my sewing machine. Failing love, I want to at least be able to use it. With my sewing machine. I want to make: a quilt (and a few pillows).

(Too bad it'd be mega dorky to make a pennant banner quilt for myself. I WANT!)

--In life, I want to make each room of the house feel like us. We've done OK so far in the 2 months we've been here but I want each room to have our personality. They don't (and won't) be perfectly done, but I want to be comfy :)

--In life, I want to be happier and live in the moment, excited about something each day. 

Oh okay, I'd like a career, a new 2012 VW Beetle, and a pony too! :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mancave Paint - Kentucky Haze

I apologize for the delay in showing these pictures. It took us a while to paint the trim and add the chalkboard wall. Plus, it's difficult to photograph since the rapture comes through the window at all times. This is technically our 3rd bedroom. It's at the back of the house behind the kitchen and has an adjoining bathroom and walk in closet, as well as the back door to the house. It's only about 10' by 10' so it's tiny! Rob decided that it would be his mancave.

As you enter from the kitchen... 

The bike is art. No, really we don't have anywhere else to store it. I think it looks cool regardless. Plus it's Rob's bike and it makes him feel European to have one. He never rides it though (huzzah for $450's worth of art!). He had one similar to it in England which he did actually ride nonstop. We didn't have cars in England though. As a side note, I am the worlds worst bike rider. They say you never forget how to ride... but that's a load of crap. I managed to flip the bike and smash my face into a curb the first time I tried to bike again in England... then I got sores on my thighs. I know you REALLY wanted to know all of that! 

Anyway, you too can mount a bike on a wall, for the low low price of $6.99 for a "bike holder" from Lowes. 

The futon is old and it's solid wood. I've had it since my sophomore year in high school. It looks a bit sad but it provides us with an extra full bed for guests so it's worth it. Plus, it's super comfy. The microsuede cover is from amazon, again it's like 4 years old. We're looking into getting a new cover in a lighter color. It bugs me that the wood of the futon is lighter than the cover.

The high quality coffee table is a walmart $15 special. The mainstay brand that attempts to mimic Ikea stuff. 

On the wall opposite the window (and on the same wall as the door), is our chalkboard wall and Rob's bar he built himself.

I love it. We had a party here on New Years Eve and everyone went crazy with the chalkboard, drawing inside jokes all over it and other... inappropriate stuff. Avert your eyes if you want to remain chaste.

Oh, and if you're wondering why "The Man Cave" is written without bars on the A's, Rob says he thought it looked "sleeker and more aesthetically pleasing" without them. According to Rob.

The palm is a gift from my Nana. It's not staying there, it's home is normally in the guest room, but it's a bit dusty up there from the flooring right now.

The bar stools were given to us by my cousin. I want to recover them at least, but Rob likes the ivory micro suede. OK.

The drink cooler was an awesome $35 garage sale find. The cheapest one that Lowes sells is $150. Awesome find.

The bar will get it's own post and a how-to soon. We still need to stain and seal it obviously.

 (No that's not a drawing of purple poop, it's a sorting hat, like in Harry Potter). 

The pub mats came from ebay. Southwold is a city on the coast in East Anglia (where Rob is from). Adnams is a popular beer that is brewed there (or lager, I don't know which).

The Red Baron plane is a Christmas gift I gave to Rob. It's from HomeGoods. He loves vintage planes. I think it fits in with the army trunk TV stand you'll see in a few pics.

The union jack is from ebay... or amazon for like $4. It covers up our fuse box. Klassy. 

As you can see the bike kinda dangles over your head while you sit. It doesn't worry us but a few guests have mentioned it. It's our booby trap. ;)

I've already given a tutorial for how to hide the speaker wires (here). As you can see, no strings/wires!

And yes that's lego yoda on the TV unit. He keeps time for us.

The TV unit is an old army electrical box (link here) that we found at Restore for $25. The green box to the left of it is an old WW2 ammo box that Rob found at a flea market for $10. The TV was a thrifty find too! $350 off craigslist.

The subway canvas art is from Homegoods, $25. It's popular tourist spots in London. I've been to most of them. Rob's obviously been to them all.

The bright blanket in the corner is blocking some air drafts in the back door... we have to fix that soon.

The pillows are ikea fabric. My Nana sewed them for me years ago. They're not permanent.

And lastly, the paint color we ended up choosing was Kentucky Haze by Benjamin Moore. I'm not going to lie, we picked the chip for the name. And it turned out beautifully. We LOVE it. It's so smoky and cozy. We use this room constantly now, and we think it's 100% due to the awesome paint color... and maybe the tv/xbox.wii etc. ;)

Do you like it?

Linking to A2Z's Tips & Tutorials! 
Beneath My Heart, Best of January
Thrifty Decor Chick Before and After Evolution of Style, Room Evolution Party