Thursday, September 20, 2012

Add to the list of likes: landscaping...who knew?

Since my last post I've finished my undergrad degree (wooty!) and wandered off to China for two weeks (I highly recommend taking a trip over there - and DEFINITELY go to the Great is amazing).  Anyway, that is my super short and sweet update so lets get down to business.

June 2012 - Made it to the Great Wall!
 We found a house in Midland we both fell in love with.  Loved the location, the size of the house (not too big and not too small), and it had a pool (jackpot!)  So the problem you ask? All three bids submitted were rejected only to find out that we can't bid until November of this year.  Long story short there is a 2 year minimum between buying a HUD house as an owner occupant...did I teach you all something new today? Hope so!  We started scrambling to fix up the little baby Auburn house to get her in rental shape (first fixer upper...can't part ways with her), but due to the two year ordeal now we're just chopping down that to do list for ourselves to enjoy!

In the midst of all the above, we were working on a house and that project has come to a halt.  To increase the curb appeal we had purchased lots of little lovelies for the house, but since the project is on hold and the plants need to get in the ground (said in the same voice as get in my belly) I stole them for Auburn.  Enter: Yoda of Gardening - my mother - she'll make a garden jedi (or something) out of me yet.  I even ran to the store the other day and left with was very bizarre...and very foreign.

The front of the house right after she was purchased in 2010
The side/entry view in 2010
 Landscaping has been on the list since we moved in, but I never really knew where to start or what to do.  I didn't even know how to clear the existing bed weeds to prep the spot for planting.  Do you spray with weed killer and then pull? Or just go for it and start pulling what you can?  We went with the just start pulling and go for it method.  Here's what we started with:
so. many. weeds.  May 2012

Side/Front view May 2012

Only the side portion of the house has been mostly completed (I still need to mulch around the lovelies), but the front will be finished this weekend.  The front bed has been a total pain to clear out!

September 2012

Purple asters, dark pink mums, delphiniums, pink astilbes, and a peony that was already there

Yellow black eyed susans, more dark pink mums, purple aster, and a purple plant that was already there (and we aren't sure what it is!)  + a yellow mum basket for the steps

So what did I learn about landscaping?
  • Fall is a great time to plant and everything is on sale around this time.  The purple asters were 2 dollars a pop and the pink mums ran 4 dollars a piece (just to give you an idea!)
  • Buy smaller plants instead of bigger/full grown plants.  Why? You spend so much less if you go this route. You're still getting lovely color and will eventually have full grown plants in a few years.  We spent 170 total on plants (not all are shown) and supplies (purchased some garden soil, transplant nutrients, etc.)
  • Use a tarp of some sort to avoid getting soil on your lawn...we didn't and there are spots with lots of dirt from removing the weeds and grasses that were growing before.
  • It really isn't that bad/is actually pretty fun and somewhat addicting (you've been warned).
  • This sounds crazy, but ever since we started fixing up the exterior of the house I'm excited to live here. When I pull into the driveway I can't help but smile at all the beautiful colors and know that it was something we all worked on together (Yoda and Loges)
  • This should be a given I suppose, but water the plants every day :) 
I suppose that's all I have for this afternoon, but I just wanted to share my new found joy for playing in the dirt! Hope this might help encourage anyone to take a stab at landscaping/gardening :)  Enjoy the rest of this lovely fall day!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Awesome-ness in a bowl...or on a plate

I know I said I would post next about some DIY artwork, but I HAVE to share these two AMAZING recipes I found by way of Pinterest.  I just recently started  trying to complete things I've been pinning and the first two attempts were food tummy is thanking me for doing, not just pinning.  Anyway, the two recipes I found: Beef Quesadilla Casserole and One Pot Creamy Mac and Cheese.  Both = awesome.

I'm not picking favorites with recipes, but this one is by far the easiest and quickest mac and cheese I've ever whipped up from scratch.  So we'll start with the mac and cheese first.

One Pot, Stove Top, Creamy Mac and Cheese:
I tracked the recipe to this lovely little blog: White On Rice Couple by Todd Porter and Diane Cu - PLEASE check them out for the original recipe and take a peek at all of their wonderful creations and beautiful photography!  Follow the link for directions to heaven!

Time: 35 minutes-ish

Ingredients you will need:

large elbow macaroni *or any small pasta of your choice - I only had mini penne pasta for the trial*
salt, pepper, ground mustard, nutmeg and *added cayenne pepper to the mix*
shredded cheeses of your choice

I also added bacon crumbles and crushed saltine crackers to the mix for an extra luxurious mini penne and cheese dinner.

I thought I died when I took a bite last night. Really, truly.

Beef Quesadilla Casserole:

This recipe is from a McCormick Spice inspiration packet, but I used a taco seasoning packet instead of the spices - feel free to choose which one you'd like to use!

Time: about half an hour

You Will Need:

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cans (8 oz. each) tomato sauce
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
Half a bag of frozen whole kernel corn, cook in the microwave
1 can (4-1/2 oz.) chopped green chiles, undrained**I also omitted the green chiles from my recipe, but again feel free to put into the mix what YOU like :)**
6 flour tortillas (8-inch)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese.
1 packet McCormick Recipe Inspirations Quesadilla Casserole
or your choice of Taco Seasoning packet (I used Old El Paso Mild Taco Seasoning)


Preheat the oven to 350 while cooking the beef!

1. Brown beef and onion in large skillet on Medium-High heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chiles; mix well. Stir in all of the Spices (or your choice of taco seasoning packet!) except red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to Low; simmer 5 minutes. Add red pepper to taste, if desired.

2. Spread 1/2 cup of the beef mixture on bottom of 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with 1/2 of the remaining beef mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.

3. Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

4. Enjoy!
Cheesy Beef Quesdilla Casserole + Corn bread = so good!

Hope some of you get to try out this comfort food (especially the to.die.for/super.easy mac and cheese!) and that you checked out a deliciously creative new blog.  For all my s'mores readers in the mitten at the moment, I hope you're bundled up and enjoying this pretty snow we're having...make sure you make some snow angels or a snowman :)  Thanks for stopping by and happy cooking!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Perhaps some tuna fish and milk?

Ok, I've been called out....more updating, less empty space between posts...thanks Andrew!  Family update news: we got a cat!  When Logan was living in Florida many moons ago, she wandered up to his door and just let her sweet little self in and decided to stay with the guy.  She's a traveling cat as she's lived in Washington DC; Jackonsville, FL and now in the mitten!  She's a cultural creature of sorts and we love her!  Her name you ask? Ace.  Here she is!

Anyway, on to project news.  A little bit of teamwork led to a homemade sofa table.  It's a very simple process if you're looking to do a little DIY.  The materials and tools you'll need for this:
  • Wood (take in your measurements and Lowe's will cut the wood for you at the store!)
  • L-brackets
  • Screws
  • Spray paint or stain in your color of choice  + polyurethane gloss (if you'd like a glossy finish)
  • Sand paper
  • Power drill

I didn't take step by step photos (one of these days I will), but this is what the table will look like pre-finish:

Logan ended up putting this part together (he surprised me, so sweet!) but take your cut wood, L-brackets, screws and power drill for this part!

1. Place two of the shorter boards at the ends of the longest piece of wood and pre-drill three holes into each end.  Take long screws and drill those into the pre-drilled holes. 

2. If you need a third piece of wood for support, repeat the step above.

3. Flip the table over and place the L-brackets where you would like them (we did two per support).  Using a pencil, mark the holes to pre-drill.  Pre-drill the holes and using smaller screws, drill the screws into the L-brackets.

4. Sand the surface (power sander works so much faster than by hand, but work with what you've got!)

5. Finish the table with whichever form of paint or stain you'd like.  I used gloss spray paint at first and while that worked for the backside and underside of the table, it wasn't my favorite for the top.  So, sanding round two occurred and I used Minwax Ebony stain on all visible portions of the table +  polyurethane gloss when the stain was dry. 

You do not need a lot of stain or gloss finish - I bought the itty bitty containers and I have plenty left over!

The finished product is currently in use and here's some photos to see what she looks like:

Perfect for reading lamps, home decor and a convenient spot to charge my phone ;)
Check out the room before picture below the finished product photos.
This was the living room, before...
Love the bay window!

Paneling was demolished and carpeting stripped - new drywall and ceiling. - October 2010.

First night in the house...TV was on the wall where pictures now hang and the zebra chair sits. - March 2011
Well, that's all we have for now, but I will have a few posts coming up with a little DIY art (for those of you who are feeling crafty!)  Thanks for stopping by and checking out the most recent project! Check back soon, I promise I'll work on my continuous blogging skills :)