Death to the Pallet Table (or, there are times to not be frugal)

Last week, we bought a new table.

A cute, walnut finish breakfast nook similar to what we thought about buying last year and never did.

Instead of buying a table last year we were cheapskates and we made a pallet table ourselves.
It was really fun and a good learning experience- I love a DIY project to conquer, especially one I know nothing about.
And it only cost twenty dollars.

The pallet table was…
kinda scratchy.
And rough.
And food got stuck in the top creases of the plywood, even though it was stained a nice deep dark coffee color.
And it was a little bit big for the space of our minuscule dining room.

And we only had two chairs to sit at it with, after we sold those metal chairs in the picture at a garage sale. (they were part of a bistro set)
 This part could have been remedied, but we are picky and have to have ‘just the right chairs for just the right price’ and never found them.

So, we bit the bullet.
We dropped two hundred fifty smackaroos on this table. (which, when you look at tables is really not all that much, but it’s a chunk of change to us.)

um, so I just noticed this picture is a little tilted. Sorry. 🙂

And I
This table fits us perfectly, fits the space much better, and is just fun to sit at because you can slide all around the benches! And it’s smooth and cleans up easily.

The pallet table is now sitting forlornly on our curb, waiting to be picked up by either another person who likes quirky not always practical things, or by the garbage men. More likely the garbage men, since it’s been sitting there for about 4 days already.

Sometimes, it is worth it to invest in something you really want (or need) instead of just making do.
Lesson learned.
Just make sure you actually need the item instead of creating a need in your mind for it. 😉

Example: I don’t need a Coach purse. Honestly, I don’t even like them. (sorry if I offended some of you loyal Coach customers, but really. Do you NEED to spend that much on a purse? No.)

Anyway. We love our table, and it seats 6 or 7 people, AND it has storage under the seats! Which I have yet to figure out what to put under there. Blankets? Extra dishes? Probably it will end up being stash for the little’s toys once they figure out that those benches open. 😉

Right now, I am…

( Disclaimer: This is just a random post, with what I’m thinking/feeling this very moment. Feel free to click away, if you want/ don’t really care to know.)

~Sitting on the couch, comfy in my purple striped pajama pants and my wool navy sweater that I’ve had since I was 16. Its old and has holes in it, but its warm and cozy and reminds me of home. The clock is tick, tick, ticking away in a calming rhythm.

~Trying to make the minutes pass while oil pulling for the first time. (“what the heck is that?”
you may ask.) I didn’t know what it was either, until about 10 minutes ago. It’s an old Ayurveda remedy of swishing vegetable based oil around in your mouth to pull toxins out of your teeth and gums. For more info, go here. I’ll let you know how/if it works. So far, it’s kinda weird, but it feels like things are being drawn out of my teeth, I think.

~Kind of frustrated with our mortgage lender. Let’s just say, if you ever buy a house make sure you read all of the fine print before signing at closing. We may be stuck with a house we no longer want. Hopefully not, but it is a possibility that we could be. Lesson learned. Know what you’re getting into before you get into it.

~Thankful that the kids are going to bed relatively easily tonight. They’ve been pretty tired these past few days by bedtime, and I’m definitely liking that! There’s been less of them getting up 20 times to ask for a hug or a drink of water or to tell me some random story or ask to pray one more time. Just sleepy little eyes and snuggly kisses, and only getting up twice. That’s progress, people.  🙂

(Here is where I’d insert a photo of my cute sleeping children, if I could find any. But I can’t. Pictures, not children. I know where they are.)

~Hoping that hubby will be able to sleep well tonight. He’s been having a lot of trouble breathing at night lately and it’s affecting his sleep. Poor guy is pretty tired. He bought a neti pot this evening and is going to try it out. I’ve heard good things about them, so hopefully it will help him.

~Looking forward to going to the zoo tomorrow with the kids. Its supposed to be 68 degrees tomorrow (!) so we thought we’d celebrate the warm weather by taking advantage of the zoo giving free admittance after 2pm. I love taking them to see the “mee-amals”, as Eliana calls them.

Polar bear- One of our favorite animals to visit!

~Happy that I got caught up on laundry today. I had quite the pile greeting me this morning as I went into the laundry room. Not doing laundry on Sunday means doing twice as much on Monday! I can’t wait til it gets warmer and then doing laundry looks a lot more like this, instead of throwing them in the dryer…

~Tired. It’s been a long day, but a good one. This afternoon the kids and I went outside for about an hour and played, chasing each other around the yard and I ran up and down the driveway while Ethan pulled Eliana in the wagon. We had fun, and got some exercise. Fresh air is so invigorating!

~Excited that I’m going to be getting a better camera soon!!!!  (YAY!!!!) No more icky pictures on the blog!!! (hopefully anyway!)
I’m not sure what kind I’m getting yet, either this one:

It’s an Olympus E-PL1 PEN, from Costco

 Or this one.

It’s a Canon EOS Rebel T3.

There’s about a $100 price difference, which isn’t as much as I first thought. Both have good reviews. Do any of you own/have experience with either? I know The Frugal Girl uses a Canon, and I love the pictures she takes with hers. I also have another friend who has a Rebel as well and takes awesome pictures, so I may just go with it. I’m torn, though. I like the vintage look of the Olympus, and that it comes with an extra lens, SD card and case.  It’s supposed to be like a DSLR camera without being as bulky as one. Thoughts??

Food Waste Friday, December 9, 2011

It’s Friday!
This week seems like its gone by so quickly, I completely forgot that today was actually Friday until this afternoon. I’m not sure what day I thought it was….just not Friday yet.

We did alright on food waste this week!
 We wasted only a few things, and they were able to be composted.

The first casualties were some pumpkin seeds (and rinds, but those were going to be wasted anyway because I don’t know that they are edible…)

I cut up the pumpkins that we had on our porch since before Halloween and roasted them, then froze the roasted pumpkin for scones or pumpkin bread later down the line. I didn’t save the seeds though, since I”m not sure we’d actually use them. They went in the compost.
Not sure if this is actually waste, but some people do roast and salt and eat the seeds, so I took a picture just in case.
I’m thinking that the seeds might sprout in the compost pile and give us some free pumpkin plants next year. (I hope! That would be awesome.)

Next up was…
some sad yogurt that I made and over-cooked and it turned into something that looked and tasted like ricotta cheese. It was not bad, but not…very good.

Lesson learned: do not walk away from the kitchen while waiting for your milk to heat when making yogurt! 🙂
There was a ton of whey and not a lot of …whatever it turned into, but we actually ate two jars worth of it before getting tired of the weird texture and just letting it sit in the fridge for almost a month. I also put that into the compost.

Not too bad! I feel like since it went in the compost, it’s not REALLY waste because we’ll be using it to fertilize our soil in the spring and hopefully make our flowers and garden grow gorgeously.
(a girl can dream, right?)

In other news, I have now become one of those people who rinses out and dries and re-uses ziplock bags..I’m still not sure how I feel about this- I used to make fun of people who did that! But these were really nice bags from the bulk section at Kroger and it seemed just a shame to throw them away.
So there you go. Don’t make fun of people because you never know if you will end up doing the same ‘silly’ things. 🙂

How did you do this week?

This post is linked to The Frugal Girl, who is the brains behind all of this food waste documentation. 🙂

Homemade Pizza Pockets (Or, how I created something that I never want to stop eating)

Today, I tried my hand at making homemade pizza pockets.
They turned out awesome.
(Not to brag, but we couldn’t stop eating them!)

Even though a lot of them exploded like this, they were still really yummy.

I got the idea of making homemade pizza pockets from Jane at Adventures in Dinner– her pizza pockets looked SO good! I actually didn’t follow the recipe on her blog though, mostly because I didn’t have those ingredients on hand. (Sorry Jane!)  I do enjoy reading her recipes and musings- you should check out her blog. Especially if you’re looking for some new things to make for dinner. Or dessert. There are some delicious things over there.
I  used this awesome pizza dough recipe  and then just kind of made up my own fillings, using things I already had in the fridge.

I wanted to make some for when we are on our way to the chiropractor, because we eat dinner in the car 2 or 3 times a week and we are determined not to let those times become fast food dinners, but to instead pack food that is healthy (or at least somewhat healthy) and portable.

Pizza Pockets fit the bill perfectly.
The only drawback was that we actually ate almost all of the ones I made for dinner last night, so we have hardly any left to take with us in the car!
Oh, well. Guess that means I just have to make more!

Would you like to make your own pizza pockets??

Here’s how:

Get some pizza dough.
Like I said, you can make your own, or use store-bought depending on how much time/inspiration you have.
I used the recipe on the link, which made enough dough for 10 pizza pockets.

Then, figure out what you want to put in your pockets.
I used these things:

Ricotta cheese, Pasta sauce, Mozzarella, Sweet peppers, an egg,
Canadian Bacon, Italian Seasoning and some frozen chopped spinach.

I decided to make a few with  Uncured Canadian Bacon and cheese, and some with sweet peppers and spinach. Then I figured, why not make one with everything in it as well, to see how it turns out?

Mix the ricotta with an egg and some Italian seasonings for extra moistness and flavor.
I accidentally made WAY too much ricotta, and ended up making a casserole with the rest of it.

Roll out your dough into a nice circle.

Use a little bit of sauce, then a little bit of ricotta. You should probably use less than you think you need. 🙂 Notice the first picture of the exploded pocket!!

Then, add your fillings.

Canadian Bacon, cheese

Spinach, Sweet Peppers and cheese

Sprinkle with a little bit of mozzerella cheese and then fold it up into a pocket.
First, I tried folding the dough like this, but it didn’t work very well. The ends didn’t stay closed, even when I tried to crimp them with a fork.

Next, I tried folding it like this. This method worked better, although I still filled a few too full and had trouble closing them.

Once you have as many pockets as you’d like, put them in the oven at 425F and cook for 20 min. or so, until they are golden brown.

Hopefully, yours will look better than mine did.

I think I filled them too full, what do you think? 😉
It doesn’t really matter because they were still delicious!!
These are like a million times better than the store-bought ones. And that burned, crispy cheese around the edges? Yum.
Prepare to make twice as many as you think you’ll need, because your crew will gobble them up like there’s no tomorrow.

Kids Clothing Week Challenge! Day 6 and 7

Whew! I finally finished that beast of a tunic for Eliana.

It turned out to be quite a lot more difficult than I thought, and I’m not really jumping at the bit to try making her another shirt any time soon. If I do, it will probably just be a knit t-shirt or something simple like that.
If you remember from day 4 of the KCWC, this is what I had done so far:

Looks pretty much done, right?
Wrong. I messed up the sleeves, so I unpicked them and took them off, then hemmed the armholes.

Next, I added a band to the bottom of the shirt to give it some weight. I accidentally sewed the shirt bottom
partway closed while doing this, so I had to go back and undo that, and then re-sew it again. Grr!

Then, I decided I should un-baste the pleats in the front because they were making the shoulder seams all wonky, so I unpicked those and created homemade bias tape for the neckline, and sewed that on.

Oh. And when I went to iron the band around the bottom of the shirt, I didn’t check what setting the iron was on and nearly melted the fabric!! Yikes! It did pucker and yellow a little bit, but thankfully didn’t completely melt. So I had to figure out a way to cover that up.
I decided to sew a little flower on there. I kind of like the way it looks. So that wasn’t all bad.

Basically, if you ever want to make a shirt, just don’t do all that stuff that I did and you will have a merry old time. I’m learning as I go, and that makes for some frustrating moments!
Here is what the shirt looks like now, all finished:

Vintage-Style Tunic

As you can see, Eliana had as much fun trying it on as I had making it.
Ha ha ha ..:)

I am planning on making one more thing tomorrow, and then I’m done for a bit!
Next up: a sunbonnet to go with Eliana’s Peasant Dress.
I’m really hoping it goes more smoothly than this project. 🙂

What is a frustrating sewing or craft project you’ve started that made you just want to give up?
Did you finish it? I have a few I’ve just given up on.
Like the dress I tried to make when I basically knew nothing about sewing. Yeah. If you don’t know anything about sewing, a dress is probably not the best first project. Neither is a quilt. I am overly ambitious sometimes.
This is one project I’m glad I finished. I won the battle of the sewing machine! This time, anyway. Woo-hoo! 🙂

Food Waste Friday, July 15,2011

Good Morning!
Today is Food Waste Friday, where I take a picture of the food that has gone to waste over the week and write about it. I started this a couple of weeks ago, after being inspired by Kristen of The Frugal Girl chronicling her food waste and watching it dissipate week by week.

Last night I was digging around in my fridge and realized that I had a few things that were about to go bad that I should cook up right away! There was some yellow squash that had been in there for a week and a half that was starting to get a little mushy on the ends…
I cut it up (minus the mushy ends- those went in the compost) and put it in to sautee with the peppers, shallots and onions and chicken I was making for dinner. We had mashed sweet potatoes too. If you’ve never had them before, you should try them. They are really good!

I also had a tomato and some spinach that we’d used up part of in making Greek Club Pita Sandwiches the night before; so I made them into a salad with some almonds and celery and a few more sweet peppers.
(I didn’t think about taking pictures of these, sorry!)

I thought that I did really well this week- other than one dinner of Moroccan Carrot Soup that the kids didn’t eat, we had no waste at all! Or so I thought until I went to do dishes this morning and found…

Steel cut oats.

Dang those oats!!

Usually we finish them off every morning, except on the mornings when I am not as hungry, then we have a little left over. Like yesterday.
Would you like to know the reason I wasn’t as hungry??
We bought some Kashi soft and chewy trail mix cookies the other day at Target to fend off the 4-o’clock hunger that was overtaking me and the kids. They were delicious. Just the right amount of chewiness, with some really good whole-grain healthiness in there. And instead of high fructose corn syrup, they had honey, brown rice syrup and cane sugar in them. Yummy.

We had a few left over yesterday morning and hubby found them and we all enjoyed one before breakfast, but since I’d had a cookie, I wasn’t as hungry…
Hence why we teach our kids to eat their meals before they have treats!! 😀
It’s funny (and sad) that I am the culprit of this food waste- I learned the lesson once again- no treats before we eat!
Maybe next week I’ll remember to eat all of the oats and we’ll have a food waste-free week! (Or I’ll just wait til after we eat breakfast to have any treats..)
How did you do?

Linking to The Frugal Girl