Friday, July 27, 2012

Broccoli and Cheese Soup Rant

Good gracious. They let anybody have a blog these days, namely me. Today I'm using mine to rant about how many calories are in broccoli and cheese soup.

I've been being a much more vigilant house manager lately. I am actually paying attention to how much we're spending on groceries. Usually we wander around and pick up whatever we want. Since I was appalled by how much we're spending on groceries per month, I started planning out our meals and ONLY getting what is on the list. We've been doing very well so far and I haven't had to run back to the store for something we left out yet (I'm sure this week will be the week).  We've also reduced our grocery bill by about $150 a month. Pretty sweet.

Planning out meals has been pretty good. I like to look at the sales and kick around pinterest for ideas. I am planning some broccoli and cheese soup for Tuesday. I came across this first recipe for copycat Panera B&C Soup. I was happily writing down the few ingredients I needed to get when I saw THIS in the corner...

...and was subsequently horrified.

I understand cheese ups the calories etc, but I wasn't expecting those gargantuan numbers. 151% of saturated fat? 70% of my daily fat?! 630 calories?! If I wanted something with that many calories I would NOT be eating anything with a vegetable in it, I'll tell you that.

The second recipe gave me much more piece of mind. It doesn't look watery like a lot of the other "healthy" options that I searched. Here's how the nutrition facts for this one work out.

It is possible that the serving size for Panera is larger, but it's difficult to tell the way they label their recipe. So I can feel like I made a WAY healthier choice I choose to believe they're the same serving size.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Treatin' those Windows Right!

While I do like admiring the paint job around the edge of the windows in our room, it's been a year and it's high time we got some real window treatments.

I traversed into the wild world of Dover. I liked these silky, lined, embroidered curtains with leaves on them. Unfortunately those were $32 apiece and that was not happening. Just as I was about to give up and go for some plain, although functional, tan ones I found these! They were embroidered with little flowers and linen lined. Usually they're $20 each, but they were $10 :-)! I got some rods and was ready to install.

I drilled pilot holes and hung up the rods. This entire process went remarkable smoothly.

In the spirit of saving some AC/Heat $, I put some curtains in the future master as well. I just used some old ones that we had from the apartment with rods that came with the house. I had to pick up some extra hanging hardware, but at $.047 each that wasn't a huge dent in the budget. Not a permanent solution, but I'm sure our house guests will enjoy some darkness in the morning.

Random Projects and Photos

Pictures of bugs I took while volunteering at Pecometh last week. You're welcome, Caitlin. :-)

Sticky Frog Jeremy found:

Reversible Bag I made:

I ended up drawing the pattern out by hand due to our lack of printer. Turned out pretty well, though.

Refurbished Shoes:

These were looking pretty terrible. The soles were all worn out and ripped out. Also, they had lots of cat hair on them.

I cut out new soles out of some durable fabric I had. I then took tacky glue and stuck them in good and tight.

Spectacular "Mr. Stripey" from Jeremy's Mom. Remember the seeds we got her for Christmas? So tasty :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Herringbone Hijinks

I love alliterative titles. They remind me of Donkey Kong levels. Okay, so I'm finished the part of the dining room you care about. Yes, I still need to paint the trim and wainscoting, but who cares about all that? I've been waiting a long time to show you the good stuff!



Firstly, let's give credit where credit is due. I was inspired by this print by Nancy Ramirez. She's wonderful artist and surely hers is much better and classier than my pattern. She has a whole bunch of cool, colorful prints that you should check out!

Alright, down to the method. This is exceptionally time consuming and patience-wearing. I recommend you take a 10 day trip to Colorado in the middle to ease your nerves and recharge your motivation, as I did. *Aside: I actually wanted to finish this before I left, but Jeremy said that I couldn't because I'd get no sleep and drive myself crazy--true, but not what I wanted to hear*

First: Strip Your Ugly Wallpaper

Second: Prime

Third: Take all your leftfover paint and paint like crazy. This was a great money-saving technique. Jeremy and I had a hard time picking out the color for the dining room. It was all supposed to be one color, but we couldn't decide on anything. We don't realllllly want to reuse any colors in our house and Jeremy is morally opposed to white, cream, etc... I'm mostly okay with that, but I think that neutrals have their place too.

We were going to have some orange mixed to add to this room but at the last minute Jeremy found some "oops" sample sizes at Home Depot for 50 cents! We really only needed one (considering that we barely used any) but picked up three oranges close to each other for $1.50. This saved us $13 dollars on a quart of paint we didn't need. Well done Jeremy.

Fourth: Now the time consuming part. I had to cover the room in 2x8 strips of frogtape. I started by making an 8" template on a piece of plywood. EXCELLENT idea. So much better than measuring every piece.

Then I used a level and drew a straight line down the wall to use as a guide for the first row. I also employed a square to make sure the tape was making a right angle. This worked okay, but the pattern naturally seemed to skew itself. As I continued to work I could see that the lines were not straight. Even I as a tried to correct they would mess up the other part of the pattern. I had to settle for a slightly askew pattern, but you really can't tell in the finished product. If you look closely at the taped pictures you can see how there is a bit of a tilt. The white spaces, while artful, are completely necessary to keeping the pattern semi-straight.

Fifth: After about 16 hours of work, time for paint and peel. Ugh. This part made me grumpy. I tore through four pairs of latex gloves. I started by painting small section with Behr paint and primer in one.  Usually I prime and paint separately, but I couldn't risk the colored pattern showing through. After coating a section with paint you pull off the strips on that part. As I learned after finishing a wall, it was better to let it get tacky for 10 minutes before pulling the tape off so that you'd have less smearing.

You can tell the tape is ready when it gets all crinkly, like this:

After two trashbags full of tape and some sad fingernails here's some shots of my dining room.

We will be replacing the chandelier to get something a little more appropriate for the style of our house. I am still deciding if I like the finished product. You should let me know if you like this--that will make me more confident about my decision *realization that this could be an awkward statement--what if NO ONE likes this? Then I will just have to be sad about a possibly ugly dining room.*