Monday, April 29, 2013

a walk in the woods

Dear friends, I promise I haven't been neglecting you on purpose! We just got back from a rather eventful long weekend in Vermont. Eventful as in the hubster and my dad had a slight incident while installing some garage doors and we found ourselves spending some time in the ER. Everybody is ok, but it wasn't exactly the relaxing weekend we had in mind. In fact, I spent the rest of the weekend inspecting the hubster's wounds and peppering him with questions like, "Who's the president?,"Do you need some Tylenol?, "How's your head?" Oh and the cherry on top of it all, I managed to lock the keys in the car on our way home... It was just one of those weekends...

So to counteract the stresses of the past few days, I'm choosing to breath a breath of fresh air straight from the mountains into the blog today. Let's go for a stroll through the Green Mountains today...
what would a trip to VT be like without a picture of some shelf fungus... 
evidence of spring!
the perfect little mossy spring
the Northwest has come to the Green Mountains
notice a theme???
Moriah. God still provides.

I'll never tire of this view!

Ahhh that's much better - just what the doctor ordered! And if you had a stress-inducing weekend like us, take the night off and snuggle in on the this wet and dreary Monday!

Monday, April 15, 2013

sneak peek: yard saled old window

Happy Monday, friends! I'm overwhelmed by the number of you who checked out the blog to view our nightstand and dresser DIY projects. It looks like you love cheap refurnishing and decorating as much as I do! Let's be friends (if we aren't already)!

I thought you might like to see a little glimpse of our next DIY project. We picked up this old farmhouse window from a barn sale last week. If all goes according to plan, the next time you will see this window all the cobwebs will be gone and it will be transformed into a beautiful rustic picture frame!
P.S. If we all start using the term "yard saled," maybe we could get Webster to add it to the dictionary. Yard Saled: an adjective referring to any object that is another man's junk, but your treasure. Yard Saled items are bargains normally purchased on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

how to: homemade whole wheat sandwich bread

Today we're taking a break from DIYing to bake some homemade bread! As I promised in the adventures in bread making post, here's the photo break down of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes baking method. I hope these photos make the process less daunting for those of you reluctant to bake your own bread. Remember that although you must allow the dough to rise and rest twice in the process, the hands-on time is minimal. Don't just sit there watching your dough rise, go for a walk, read a book, make dinner,, don't clean that takes all the fun out of the bread making process!

If you want this specific recipe for Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread inspired by Chris Kimball, I suggest you pick up the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes cookbook at your local library. Because I have not adapted the recipe at all, I'd rather not get in trouble with the copyright police... However, if you are willing to try another kind of five minute bread then check out the authors' blog. Here's the link to the master recipe or perhaps you'd like to try the brioche dough recipe. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to attempt baking your own bread at least once!

 Gather your ingredients for a family photo.
Mix the melted butter, yeast, honey, lukewarm water, and salt in a giant bowl.
Measure your dry ingredients. Question of the ages: is it possible to measure flour without spilling some? I think not. 
Pile the dry ingredients on top of the wet in a haphazard way.
Use your mixing muscle until everything is combined. You could use your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix everything, but I prefer to mix by hand in the large bowl. One less bowl to clean since I just leave the dough in this bowl for the rest of the process.
Cover the bowl, but make sure it isn't air tight. I've discovered that my 4 qt. pyrex bowl lid fits perfectly on top of my 8 qt. metal bowl, but it still allows the air to circulate through. Let the doughy goodness rise for about two hours. I usually set mine on top of the oven under the hood light. After the rising is complete, it will begin to collapse a bit with what looks like popped bubbles on the surface. Now is the time to put it in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Use within 5 days of first mixing (this amount of time varies based upon the dough).
Ready to bake? Sprinkle some flour on top of the refrigerated dough. Then scoop out about a 1 1/2 lb ball of dough. Pull the edges under with your hands while making a quarter turn each time to create a ball. Then elongate that ball since it's going in a loaf pan. I tried to get a picture of the dough ball forming process, but the photos were a flop! It's a bit difficult to capture with a camera while using both of my hands to form the ball...
 Plop the now rectangular like ball of dough in a greased loaf pan. No need to get the butter out, Pam spray works just fine. 
Let the dough rest outside the fridge for an hour and forty minutes. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees about 20 minutes before your ready to bake. Put a pan with a cup of hot water in a baking dish on another shelf (this produces steam in your oven) then pop the loaf pan on the other shelf. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the top is dark brown and firm. 
Here's the finished product. Homemade wheat sandwich bread! Perfect for ham and sharp cheddar paninis with spinach and chipotle mayo! 
Get bread making, friends! Still not converted? Then stock up on sandwich bread in the stores when it's 2 for $4 and sharp cheddar cheese when it's a $1.99 and make these delicious paninis!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

diy dresser with rustic wooden top

Ready for the sequel to the nighstand project? This one is my personal favorite! Perhaps because I now have a new dresser for the first time in my life! I love that I can picture this dresser sitting in an overly priced home store with a gigantic budget-busting price on it. But it's not from Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Anthrolopie or West Elm, we transformed it! It might have taken some time to complete, but the finished product is exactly the look we were hoping to create!

Here's a look at the before picture - your standard 70s dresser ready for a makeover!
Dresser step-by-step:
1. Clean the dresser and drawers with a cloth and remove the old hardware. Do you think anyone will buy the hardware at a garage sale??
2. Apply a coat of Behr Hazelnut Creme on the dresser and outside of the drawers and let it dry overnight. Note: not the best idea to paint in the grass on newspaper, but spring fever was calling...

3. Apply a second coat of paint.
4. Lightly sand the corners and edges of the dresser and drawers and remove any sanding dust. Use a fine grit paper.
5. Apply a coat of Zinnser Clear Shellac Traditional Finish and Sealer (the same shellac we used in the nightstand project).
6. Replace the old knobs and pulls with new hardware from Home Depot.

And the icing on top of the cake - the dark rustic wooden top:
1. We picked up two 2x6x10s and had the Home Depot man cut them in half for us.
2. We wanted the wooden top to hang over the original dresser top by an 1 1/2" on each side, so we cut the 2x6s to be 53" long. And by "we," I mean my dad and hubster - I draw the line at super fast spinning metal blades. I'd like to keep all my fingers...
3. One board was also cut to be 3 1/2" wide so  it would sit flush with the back of the dresser against the wall.
4. After making the cuts, remove all the sawdust. Leftover sawdust + stain = not the best idea
5. Then apply a coat of Old Masters Spanish Oak Wiping Stain to the boards. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes then remove most of the stain with a cloth. Turn the boards over after they are dry to touch and coat the other side. Allow the boards to dry overnight.
6. Apply a coat of shellac to all sides of the 2x6s (flip the boards after a half hour to coat the other side).
7. Use a biscuit cutter and wood glue to attach the four boards to each other. The biscuits allowed us to attach the boards to each other without any visible nails or screws.
9. Place the 2x6 board on top on the dresser. It's currently resting on a drawer liner we bought at the dollar store to keep it from scratching the top of the dresser. If you have kids and are thinking about doing this project, you might want to screw the boards into the dresser.
I absolutely love the rustic top mixed with a sleek dresser. Can't wait until we get to work on our headboard and footboard in a few weeks! I promise I'll try to capture each step in the diy process next time!

P.S. If you liked what we did with this dresser, check out how we upcycled an old dresser into a kitchen storage cabinet for our tiny kitchen. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

diy rustic nightstand

After four Saturdays of painting, staining, sanding, and shellacing, we've finally completed our two furniture projects! The nightstand and dresser had been waiting in storage for someone to dust them off, pretty them up, and use them again. Along came some semi-frugal sort-of-newlyweds who desperately needed some bedroom furniture in their abode and the rest is history. 

Today, let's talk about this nightstand:
The color is a little off in the first picture, but you get the idea - it's dated and desperately in need of some tlc.
Here's what we did:
1. Dusted/cleaned with a rag.
2. Applied a coat of Silver Strand Behr paint. We actually bought two little samples in flat and barely even needed the second sample. Tip: buying samples instead of a quart saves precious $$!
3. Applied a coat of Zinnser Clear Shellac Traditional Finish and Sealer
4. Sanded in areas of typical wear on "old" pieces
5. Removed the sanding debris
6. Applied a coat of Old Master's Spanish Oak Wiping Stain. Let it sit for five to ten minutes then wiped most of it off. Let it dry overnight.
7. Applied another coat of Zinnser Shellac.
8. Added a new drawer pull (not sure the name/model, but we got it Home Depot) and viola! Done!

Lessons learned:
1. Have some sort idea of the overall look you want to achieve in the end. Ask the experts for help- there's no way we would of known which products to use without the help of my brother! If you want to see what a real master can do with wood, paint, and stain, check out his website and prepare to be amazed!
3. Sand carefully and with the grain. I got a little overzealous a few times...
4. Don't expect perfection on your first try! I can see some of the places that need a bit more stain, but no one else is going to notice unless they get down on the floor scrutinize all its flaws (and if that's the case, then you probably don't want them in your bedroom anyway!)
5. The most expensive item to buy was the wiping stain ($20). Thankfully, we also used the wiping stain and shellac for our dresser. and there is still plenty left for future projects!

I really love having a nightstand for the first time in my life! Yes, that's right. The first time in my life! I've always had a basket, desk, or hutch next to my bed, but now I feel like I'm officially an adult! If only we could find one for the hubster's side of the bed - this weekend we begin our yard sale search!
Coming soon: the dresser's transformation! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter weekend: a trip to Shenandoah and how to travel frugalishly

Happy April, friends! Last week the hubster and I celebrated spring with a little getaway to Shenandoah National Park. It was a bit snowier then we expected, but the views were incredible! If you like mountains, hiking, and beautiful vistas this is the place for you!
lots of scraggly old trees on the ridge
We suggest grabbing a sandwich or picnic dinner in town and heading back into the mountains for sunset. Pick one of the many overlooks that face west and spend the evening marveling at God's handiwork.
We stayed at a beautiful old B and B in Luray, VA, South Court Inn Bed and Breakfast.  If you are looking for delicious food, comfortable accommodations, and welcoming hosts in the Shenandoah Valley, we highly recommend you stay here.
Our favorite feature (besides the incredible breakfasts and complimentary snacks) was the morning coffee delivered outside your room by 7am. Sipping a cup of locally roasted coffee while watching the sun rise over the Blue Ridge mountains from that's a morning routine I could get used to everyday!
On our second day in the valley, we decided to brave the cold and explore the park on foot. Our first try was a little adventure up an old fire road in Big wasn't a very long walk. The wind was cold and strong, but I snapped this picture while attempting to not blow over. Even the clouds look cold! We turned around when the snow had drifted so high that snow shoes were necessary.

Then we went for a little stroll through the woods on the Limberlost trail (named after the swamp that's in the two children's classics The Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles). I love both of these books and was just a bit excited to be walking in a Limberlost Swamp of sorts...

Our tips for traveling frugalish:
- set a budget for your trip including gas, accommodations, food, and activities
- pack your own snacks (granola bars, trail mix, fruit) and drinks (or just fill up a ton of water bottles)
- eat a big breakfast - the goal is to be full enough so lunch isn't needed and the nutritious snacks you pack can hold you over until dinner
- research restaurants online (we love tripadvisor) - find the highest rated restaurants in town and then choose the one that fits within your budget
- remember tourist attractions cost big $$ - skip them (unless you have wiggle room in your budget) and choose the free activities instead
- take advantage of off-season accommodations and special packages

It was lovely trip! We have happily checked another national park off our list. If you're interested in traveling to Shenandoah, we suggest visiting in the fall to see the foliage or (later) in the spring for the blooms and red buds. One perk of a cold, windy, snowy park - the crowds were non-existent. So if you prefer wide open spaces to yourself, visit in the winter or early spring.

We ended our weekend with a very wet outdoor Easter egg hunt on the farm and a family cookie decorating party (our decorating skills need a little help!).  Hope you all had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!